Sunday, 20 November 2011
Directed by: J Anthony Roma
Screenplay: Douglas Borton & Carlos Vasallo
Starring: Jorge Rivero, George Kennedy, Isaac Hayes, Andrew Stevens, Kevin Bernhardt, Louis Jordan, Robert Forster
If you can imagine an even lower budget version of The Delta Force then Counterforce is it. Yep, it’s men-on-a-mission time in this low rent, unintentionally hilarious but a whole heap of cheapjack action fun in an action film that somehow manages to make the heroes look more inept than the actual villains. Jorge Rivero (Fist Fighter) leads the counterforce team while Andrew Stevens (The Terror Within) is the martial arts expert (ok!), Isaac Hayes (Escape from New York) is the electronics expert (with a sideline in natty 80s garb: ahem!), Kevin Bernhardt (Hellraiser 3) is the young-trying-to-prove-himself new recruit (read: douchebag) and good old George (who was actually in The Delta Force) Kennedy is the token dude who barks orders at them and tells them to get the job done (and looks completely lost and embarrassed to be in every scene he features). The Counterforce is enlisted to help protect the exiled opposition leader (Louis Jordon) of a bloodthirsty dictator (Robert Forster: complete with comedy accent and hair!) which, to be honest, they make a balls up of, as several people are killed, Jordan is harmed and his wife and son are kidnapped. But, somehow, the team manage to get it together, for the gun blazing finale and rescue everybody and set the world right while looking cool doing it.
You know you’re in for a low budget good time when the team’s training gear has the Counterforce logo used on the actual movie poster and marketing materials emblazoned all over it. Awesome! This movie is so 80s that the 1980s is probably embarrassed by it as our heroes wisecrack their way through everything whether it’s a high-risk situation, having an extremely camp workout together at a gym before suiting up for a mission (so cringe worthy it’s hilarious) or someone has just died. In fact, I don’t think our heroes have one normal conversation during the whole film and why not when a smart-ass quip will do. Coupled with their penchant for wearing “stylish” 80s clothes during missions and Counterforce is low budget action nonsense cranked up to 11.
But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy this. The above is all part of the fun of these low rent 80s cookie cutter action flicks and there is a ton of low budget action to fill the fast moving 90-minute run time. There are gun battles galore, including a cool shoot-out in a hospital, a pretty cool car chase featuring ambulances and a somewhat ambitious one take shot of vehicles ramming into one another, and the obligatory rescue scene that turns out to be the team just training before the next mission (pretty much every 80s action movie featuring a team of soldiers had one of these scenes!).
Ridiculous, hilarious, low budget and action packed: so therefore, awesome.
Monday, 14 November 2011
Sunday, 13 November 2011
SHOCKING DARK (aka TERMINATOR 2 (no really!)) (1989)
Directed by: Bruno Mattei
Screenplay: Claudio Fragasso
Starring: Christopher Aherns, Haven Tyler, Geretta Gerretta, Fausto Monbardi
Good old Bruno Mattei. The prolific Italian schlockmeister of such genre “greats” as Strike Commando 1 & 2, Cop Game, Double Target and Robowar, tried to pass this little gem of Italian sci-fi action trash off as a sequel to The Terminator (a good year or two before James Cameron’s blockbuster sequel actually hit). Or at least the producers did. Yet, Shocking Dark has much more in common with another Cameron classic: Aliens. In fact, it has so much in common it has (pretty much) the same entire plot (save for the mad as a bag of frogs ending) with many of the same scenes and even dialogue lifted straight from Aliens. Non-surprisingly this flick has also been known as Aliens 2 in some territories. It’s copyright infringement a go-go in this ultra cheap rip-off which is an absolute hoot thanks to all the plagiarism going on, the atrocious acting and some funky cheap-jack monsters causing mayhem for a bunch of intrepid shotgun-wielding Colonial Marines, I mean future soldiers.
In the not too distant future Venice is sinking into its canals and The Tubular Corporation (the what corporation!?) send a squad of soldiers off into the sinking city (just one giant empty factory/power station with never ending corridors) to make sure the art museums aren’t being looted for their treasures (what!!!!????). Unbeknownst to our (highly untrained) soldiers some genetic scientists have unleashed a bunch of bloodthirsty mutants that take great pleasure in ripping our platoon of heroes limb from limb (what!!!, what????). Add to this a cybernetic soldier by the name of Samuel Fuller (WHAT!!!!!) an ending so bizarre it makes the rest of the film look coherent and you have one of the best 80s Italian rip-off cheese fests ever.
Basically this is just an hour and a half of non-acting entities running around darkened corridors blowing mutants away with pump action shotguns and screaming incessantly. Seriously, there is so much screaming in this film with the two female characters left alive at the end basically communicating by just screaming constantly at one another. The hilarious “non-acting” by everyone adds a certain comedy element (though to be fair they all look like they haven’t got a clue what is going on) and the film is partly entertaining by trying to spot how many scenes they’ve directly lifted from Aliens. Ripley and Newt being locked in a room with an alien/mutant while they’re sleeping (complete with waving at the cctv for help): check. Marines watching and listening to a bunch of aliens/mutants closing in on them on some kind of tracking device: check. Some unlucky bastard caught and trapped in the alien/mutant lair who chants “kill me, kill me” before an alien/mutant bursts through his chest: check. I could go on as there are many more scenes duplicated wholesale but it’s best if you can track down a copy (they are quite rare) and indulge in the sci-fi plagiarism craziness that is Shocking Dark.
Aliens, Terminators, shotguns, gore, absurdness and Bruno Mattei all together in one low budget shlockfest of awesome.
MIAMI GOLEM (1985)
Directed by: Alberto de Martino
Screenplay: Vincenzo Mannino & Gianfranco Clerici
Starring: David Warbeck, Laura Trotter & John Ireland
If you love crazy Italian films from the 1980s, then get a load of Alberto de Martino’s Miami Golem. Some crazy, and badly dubbed, scientists are cloning some alien DNA found in a crashed meteorite. Now this definitely can’t be a good thing and sure enough it isn’t, with said scientists all being killed and evil John Ireland stealing the cloned DNA so he can grow it into a supreme being that he can control and take over the world with. Enter nosy, know-it-all, complete douchebag, reporter David Warbeck who decides to investigate, pretty much taking over the experiments at one point, and teams up with alien babe Laura Trotter to defeat the very tired looking (and lost looking) John Ireland and the evil, telepathic alien foetus he has grown.
And wait till you see the completely ridiculous, but kinda creepy, foetus with its big googly eyes and its penchant for chucking our hapless heroes around in bouts of telepathic nonsense. Mental doesn’t even begin to describe this action and sci-fi mish-mash that is equal parts awesome and over-the-top entertaining and just plain boring. I know, how can an Italian sci-fi film from the 1980s shot and set in Miami, featuring an alien foetus that wants to take over the world be boring? Well, it’s the pace really as Alberto de Martino (Holocaust 2000) completely forgets to have fun, taking the whole thing deadly serious and filling his silly flick with frequent periods of not much happening. Warbeck (The Last Hunter, The Beyond) is usually good value but his character is such a douche he is more annoying than heroic: though he does get a hilarious scene where he talks to an alien version of himself who explains the entire plot.
However, this being a crazy Italian produced flick from the 1980s there is plenty of insaneness and low rent action to go around to make Miami Golem a worthwhile trash cinema ride. Of course, there is that giant animatronic foetus (which is just as lame and awesome as it sounds), completely random and off the wall dialogue (“If I didn’t hurt all over, I’d be laughing!”), the fact that the opening theme tune is a complete rip off of the Beverly Hills Cop theme, Warbeck not batting an eyelid when many of the scientists he has just worked with and seems kinda friendly with have just been gunned down (as if it is the most normal thing in the world), the bizarre scene where he records ghosts on camera who come to try to warn him of the impending doom (with one ghost just being a giant hand!!!!) and, as mentioned, that everyone takes everything so seriously.
There is bit of action here and there including Warbeck being chased by a gun firing helicopter which he manages to elude and destroy with only a handgun and only after he has boarded a school bus driven by what appears to be two drug dealers, the bus appearing out of nowhere in the middles of nowhere and the whole scene even more random and weirder than any scenes involving the giant alien foetus (!!!!!!). There is a pretty cool boat chase across the Everglades and while it’s certainly dull in parts there is no denying Miami Golem is entertaining trash cinema recommended to any connoisseur of the genre.