Sunday, July 13, 2014
Summer Fest Recap: Day Two (Part Two)
So it's late, and everybody's heading out in order to crash. Some of them didn't make it through the last movie of the night, and that's probably for the best. I'll give you as good a recap as I can using the not-at-all patented "breakdown" list format, and then I'm going to pass out. There's still a Summer Fest Sunday to do...
What's the Haps, Cap?: Col. John Hogan (David Campbell) has gone rogue, and is training a hand-picked group of elite soldiers to serve as mercenaries for hire. Hogan doesn't believe in "practice" drills, so he kidnaps people off of the street and brings them to his base (75 miles south of Los Angeles) for a "most dangerous game" scenario. His financier, Michaelson (Troy Donahue) doesn't approve, but Hogan believes only the best will do. When he's unsatisfied with the latest "target," he sends his right hand man, Lt. Thornton (Fritz Matthews) to find someone who might be a real challenge. Little do Hogan and Thornton know they've found more than a formidable target... they brought back the Deadly Prey!
Who's the Hero: That would be Mike Danton (Ted Prior), who is taking the garbage out when Thornton and some goons pull up in an unmarked van, grab him, and drive away. Danton isn't just some dude taking out the trash, though - he's a one man army. It doesn't take Mike long to make mince meat out of the soldiers hunting him, and when Hogan realizes who they took, things get personal. Danton was Hogan's protégé back in "the war," and the Colonel will do anything necessary to keep our hero from ruining his operation.
Bad Science: Apparently, you can trigger C4 using nothing but a tripwire. No explosives needed, if I understand the trap than Danton sets up late in the film. Other than that, it's just a series of somewhat questionable physics involving his other traps, including ones he sets and then doesn't use until much, much later in the film.
Other Bad Ideas: Don't kidnap a guy in front of his house in broad daylight, and especially not Mike Danton. If you're going to have "hillbillies" in your movie, it might help if they sounded like hillbillies, even if it is California. Train your soldiers how to shoot before you send them out hunting, because these guys couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. It's embarrassing. Speaking of embarrassing, Ted Prior may have some of the worst line delivery this side of Samurai Cop's Matt Hannon. His "kill one-liners" consist of "die!" and... uh, "die!" I gather that he's the star because his brother, director David A. Prior (Killer Workout) wanted to showcase his, uh, skills (that or his ability to run around the woods barefoot and in short shorts), but yeah, not the best showcase for him. (A cursory check on IMDB informs me that Ted Prior was also in Killer Workout, Surf Nazis Must Die, and Sledgehammer prior to Deadly Prey).
Previous Summer Fest Connection: As you may have noticed just above, David A. Prior and Ted Prior were involved in Summer Fest 5's Killer Workout, and so was Fritz Matthews. A different David Campbell appears to be in respective films - maybe Prior had a fondness for the name. Somewhat surprisingly, neither Troy Donahue (Michaelson) nor Cameron Mitchell (Danton's father-in-law) have been in movies shown at previous fests, despite their prolific filmographies dating back to the 1950s. However, reading their IMDB pages, I now have some good ideas for next year...
Best Nickname for a Character in Deadly Prey: goes to Fritz Weaver, who looks like he was hired because of his resemblance to a certain WWF super star. Accordingly, he got the nickname "Mildly Marty Pepper" early on. The name stuck.
Recurring Summer Fest Themes: Films Released in the Same Year, Explosions in Close Proximity to Actors, Vehicular Chicanery, Gratudity (just Danton, really).
Final Prognosis: I can't hate a movie too much when the protagonist cuts a dude's arm off and then beats him to death with it. There are so many improbably stupid things that happen, including Danton walking(?) home and then coming back, setting up traps that would only come in handy in very specific circumstances, or not using a gun until the end of the movie. At one point he seeks cover from gunfire behind a tree he's clearly wider than. Troy Donahue's acting had us convinced he was just a producer that wanted a part in the film. I haven't even mentioned Dantons wife, Jaimy (Suzzane Tara), because if there's anybody who really gets a raw deal in this movie, it's her. Even Sybill (Dawn Abraham), Hogan's other sidekick, has more to do in the movie than Jaimy does. Deadly Prey isn't by any means an action classic, but it's a lot of fun.
Year of Production: 1989
What's the Haps, Cap?: Well, let's see... our favorite secret agents / tour guides / pilots / couriers / Playboy Bunnies Donna (Dona Speir) and Taryn (Hope Marie Carlton) are back after having adventures in Hard Ticket to Hawaii and Picasso Trigger. They're sent to check up on some shenanigans involving the military, a potential coup in the Phillippines, and Japanese gold that went missing during World War II. There's espionage, backstabbing, and a missing soldier who has been living alone for forty years... on SAVAGE BEACH!!!!
Who's the Hero: Donna and Taryn are presumably our protagonists, but in typical Andy Sidaris (Return to Savage Beach) fashion, the plot is twisted in more ways than a pretzel, so we spend most of the middle of the movie away from them. That turns out to be fine, because despite the size of Hawaii's islands (where the film takes place), it takes Donna and Taryn two days to fly - and crash land - on Savage Beach. That's plenty of time to meet the military personnel who are infiltrated by the CIA and want to help a Leftist rebel (Rodrigo Obregon) take over the government of the Phillippines, but not before he hooks up with porn star Teri Weigel. Twice - once in his hotel room and then again in his limo. Also, there's the rest of Donna and Taryn's team, whose names I've honestly forgotten: let's guess they're Rocky (Lisa London) and Pattycakes (Patty Duffek), and uh, the guy who runs it (either Bruce Christian or Shane Abeline). Names aren't something you really remember while watching Andy Sidaris films, despite his love for overcomplicated tales of espionage. I haven't even mentioned go-to Asian Bad Guy Sidekick Al Leong (Die Hard, Lethal Weapon) who has a semi-major role as another interested party in the missing gold.
Bad Science: Science doesn't really factor into Andy Sidaris films. If you wanted to pick nits, there's no way a single engine plane could make it for two days straight of flying, especially when the engine catches on fire in a storm. At least, I think that's what happened. I don't exactly remember, but I also think they weren't using the metal detector correctly. A 5 1/2 floppy drive couldn't hold the kind of software that Computer Control Corporation needs to locate the island where the gold is, but maybe the disc just had the coordinates?
Other Bad Ideas: It would be very, very easy to criticize this movie for its many digressions and unnecessarily complicated story (did I mention there's a flashback in the middle of the movie?), but that's kind of why you watch Andy Sidaris movies. That, and the excessive, comical overuse of gratuitous nudity. Why do Donna and Taryn need to take off their shirts while flying and put on new ones? Because boobs. Why are Pattycakes and Rocky sleeping next to the hot tub? So they can take their tops off and change clothes when the boss calls. Obviously. The only thing that Sidaris likes more than mammaries are explosions, of which there are plenty. He stages an opening sequence where the girls bust a drug smuggling operation (heroin hidden in pineapples) just so the bad guys can drive off in a van that blows up. If you like explosions and boobs, then you saw Andy Sidaris movies on Cinemax when you were in middle school. As an adult, it's almost absurd how flimsy the excuses are to get any actress topless. Almost as absurd as how seriously the plot takes itself for a glorified T&A movie.
Wait, Didn't You Mention a Japanese Soldier on Savage Beach?: I did. Thanks for remembering. He's wearing terrible "old age" makeup and follows Donna and Taryn around on the island, which is where everybody converges for the big finale. He becomes protective of Taryn, apparently because he recognizes her as the child in a photo he's been carrying since World War II. From the American soldier he dishonorably killed. But kept the photo. His fellow soldiers committed hara kiri and walked into the ocean, respectively. But not him. He kept a photo. A color photo. From World War II. Because, boobs. Obviously.
Recurring Summer Fest Themes: Gratudity, Explosions in Close Proximity to Actors, Vehicular Chicanery, Tropical Setting, Flashbacks.
Final Prognosis: The most fun to be had watching an Andy Sidaris film as an adult is to see it with women, who are often baffled that his films even exist. Their commentary on the film was almost as funny as seeing the myriad of lame excuses to disrobe, or comparably dumb excuses to blow things up. I'm not saying Sidaris is a one-trick pony (more like two), but he always finds new and stupid ways to use those tricks when there's no logical reason to. I also wasn't aware that there were more Donna and Taryn adventures, so after Hard Ticket to Hawaii, it seemed necessary to continue their story. I guess we'll have to watch Picasso Trigger at next year's Bad Movie Night, because Return to Savage Beach is less plot and more or less just softcore porn. That's not what we're looking for - it's early Sidaris or bust. Pun intended.
Godzilla on Monster Island
What's the Haps, Cap?: I already reviewed this movie. Not that long ago. You can read it here, as it's pretty amusing, if I say so myself (and I do.
Who's the Hero: See above link.
Bad Science: Space Cockroaches. 'Nuff Said.
Other Bad Ideas: Again, Space Cockroaches. Need I say more?
Recurring Summer Fest Themes: Space Cockroaches.
Final Prognosis: I'm really at a loss as to why Space Cockroaches isn't enough to explain why Godzilla on Monster Island was a "no-brainer" inclusion into Summer Fest.
Super Secret Trappening - Ninja III: The Domination
What's the Haps, Cap?: Similarly to Godzilla on Monster Island, Ninja III: The Domination has been covered before (it was the showcase feature of last year's Summer Fest), so I will accordingly link it here.
Who's the Hero: In case you didn't click the link (and you should), I'll just say that Christie (Lucinda Dickie), is both an aerobics instructor AND a Lineman (Linewoman?). And a possessed ninja. Her creepo cop boyfriend / back hair aficionado Billy (Jordan Bennett) also counts, I guess, since Christie is technically also the villain. Plus Sho Kosugi (Himself) is a good ninja, because only a ninja can stop a ninja. Something like that.
Bad Science: We're talking about a movie where an arcade game called Bouncer that looks exactly like Diner Dash uses lasers to hypnotize Christie so a floating sword can come out of her closet. I don't think "science" really factors in here.
Other Bad Ideas: Worst use of V8 ever. Or is it best? Also, back and shoulder hair dude - keep that shirt on. Seriously, it's disgusting. You're already questionable enough not helping Christie fight off rapists and then arresting her just to get a date out of the deal. Get that shit waxed, or never take your shirt off. Ever.
Recurring Summer Fest Themes: Southwestern Locations, Ninja, Attempted Exorcism, Using the Dead for Nefarious Purposes, Surprisingly Violent.
Final Prognosis: People were really worried about this year's Trappening. It's understandable, because of what a "Trappening" is, but also because they know I have Things up my sleeve. Nobody wants to watch Things again. Barrett argued he'd rather watch Things for the first time than see The Happening again, and wouldn't believe the assurances of everyone who had seen Things that he would, in fact, not. One person even put his shoes on when I suggested it might be Things, but this was a "nice" Trappening. I'm not always a sadist. Sometimes that just ends up being the next movie, which brings us to...
What's the Haps, Cap?: After the execution of Ivan Moser (Lyle Alzado) goes awry, a prison riot breaks out, a fire starts, and the whole institution is shut down. Moser goes missing, and the prison is gutted. 18 months later, an exploitation film crew sets up shop in the facility to film a "women in prison" cheapie, but someone... or some thing, is taking them out, one by one. Can the film's writer and stuntwoman solve the mystery before the killer claims them?
Who's the Hero: That'd be the aforementioned writer, David Harris (Clayton Rohner) and stuntwoman, Susan Malone (Deborah Foreman), who are on the periphery of the production. In addition to putting up with a frustrated director (Anthony Hopkins) and a temperamental "star" (Lannie Garrett), they have to contend with a recently renovated electric chair - courtesy of FX man "Rewire" (Jim Turner). And, Susan has a mystery admirer, quite possibly the same person mutilating the cast, crew, and former Warden (Pat Mahoney). Will they figure out if Moser is alive? Or how he survived if he is? Will I even care by the time they do?
Anthony Perkins? Not that Anthony Perkins: Oh yes, that one. It's one of his last roles, and not a great one to go out on. Not only is Perkins phoning it in as the director of the film within a film, he's not sitting in the electric chair when Susan tries to save him. The guy doesn't even look like Perkins. Don't come in thinking he'll save the movie for you - that'd be a Norman Bates and Switch (zing!).
Bad Science: It's pretty clear nobody involved in Destroyer had the slightest idea how an electric chair works. When Shocker does a better job, you know you're in trouble. Beyond that, the power situation in the prison has some pretty questionable rules, and I'm not even sure where the underground parking garage is supposed to lead. Other than that, I guess we can chalk most of it up to "slasher movie tropes."
Other Bad Ideas: Let's start with "filming in a prison with a botched execution where the body was never recovered." We can end there, too.
Recurring Summer Fest Themes: Explosions in Close Proximity to Actors, Gratudity, Movies Made in the Same Year, Fake Out Dream Sequences.
Final Prognosis: I was really excited to see Destroyer, based on its awesome poster and trailer. It seemed like an even sleazier version of Shocker or The Horror Show, but instead it's just crap. Ivan Moser's "one liners" are mostly limited to "Bitch!" and he can't even pull off the Maniac Cop knock-off scenes late in the film. The "twist" is pretty lame (SPOILER the janitor is his dad and hid him in the basement) and anybody that hadn't left before the movie was over was asleep halfway in. I got so bored that I started cleaning. It's not totally unwatchable like, say, Suburban Sasquatch, but Destroyer comes pretty close. Fortunately, almost everybody split after Ninja III: The Domination, so nobody had to know that Day Two ended with an unwelcome stinker. I had such high hopes, too...
Ah well, tomorrow is another day. Well, technically, it's just later today. I need to sleep. Like now. See you in a few hours...