“KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park”

mv5botqxzti0ytitnjq3os00odkxlwfkn2qtmzg5mje5njbln2uzxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntc4njg5mja-_v1_I don’t mean it as an insult when I say that KISS is the ultimate triumph of style over substance. Musically, there isn’t much to distinguish them from Van Halen, Aerosmith, Boston, or any other arena-rock staple of the late 70s, but none of those other bands have had their own action figures or lunchboxes or credit cards. KISS combined the blunt, dick-swinging machismo of their music with a fire-breathing stage show and a look straight out of a Halloween party, creating something 13-year-old boys of any age could love. Their style elevated them from a rock band into comic-book characters. In other words, it’s hard to imagine another band that could have inspired the 1978 TV movie “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park.” Who else but KISS would even attempt to make something that aspired to be “A Hard Day’s Night” crossed with “Star Wars?” Who else but KISS could survive its reputation as one of the worst movies ever made? Continue reading

“Ninja III: The Domination”

latestNinja III: The Domination” is the last entry in a very loose trilogy of ninja movies released by Cannon Films, the others being “Enter the Ninja” and “Revenge of the Ninja.” The first two movies definitely believe ninjas had superhuman physical abilities, but “Ninja III” makes the leap into the supernatural by giving them more magic mumbo-jumbo than vampires. According to this movie, a ninja can crush a golf ball with one hand, punch through the roof of a police car, slice a billiard ball in half in midair, survive more gunshot wounds than 50 Cent, and even transfer their souls into other people. It’s that last bit that makes up most of the problem for the heroine of this movie, Christie, but she also has other issues that we’ll get to. Continue reading

“Eliminators”

MV5BMTJiZDk4OTktYTE2OC00NjI5LTk1NTctNjMyZmI5Mzk4ODUyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTQxNzMzNDI@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_These days, the two most important words in Hollywood are “cinematic universe.” Inspired by the billions of dollars Marvel has made with its Avengers movies, studios have been frantic to jumpstart their own cinematic pyramid schemes with intellectual properties from the Justice League of America to the Universal Monsters to Nickelodeon cartoons. The idea, of course, is to maximize profit by giving audiences movies that spin off characters into their own movies or movies that collect characters from other franchises into massive team-up spectacles. It worked well back in the day when Frankenstein met the Wolf Man and most recently when Captain America fought Iron Man, but it remains to be seen whether or not audiences will sit through “Friar Tuck: Origins” before they see Robin Hood finally get the Merry Men together in the last five minutes of his movie.

With so many studios desperately pushing for the Big Bang that will launch the next sure-fire hit cinematic universe, it’s easy to forget that movies used to be stupid enough to just shove a bunch of characters into one movie without making audiences pony up for the installment plan. And so you have a movie like 1986’s “Eliminators,” which resembles a look into a cinematic universe based on the cheap, unlicensed action figures they used to sell in gas stations. Continue reading

“Unmasking the Idol”

Unmasking-the-Idol-copy“Unmasking the Idol” isn’t just an action movie, it’s an action-figure movie. For all its attempts to crib its formula from the James Bond series, playboy-ninja-secret agent Duncan Jax, his friends, and his enemies all feel like they were plucked off the shelves at Toys R Us, complete with hot-air balloon accessories and secret throne room playset. It’s a movie pitched at the level of a Saturday-morning cartoon and proudly wears its stupidity on its sleeve. If kung-fu baboons, piranha pits, and submarine explosions sound like a good time to you, “Unmasking the Idol” is where you need to be.

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“Mutant Hunt”

If there’s anything I respect and appreciate as much as a good movie, it’s a terrible movie. From time to time, I’ll be posting a review of a terrible movie I found either on Netflix or elsewhere. I think it’s important to highlight that these things exist, and that someone somewhere thought they were good ideas.

If there’s a cardinal rule of filmmaking, it would have to be this: Never be boring. This goes double for B movies, because without the budget to fill the screen with eye-catching explosions or famous stars, you have to do all the work of maintaining the audience’s interest yourself. “Mutant Hunt” offers a variation on this rule: Never propose something significantly more interesting than you’re prepared to show the audience. “Mutant Hunt” fails this rule early on, as the heroes discuss the plight of a captive scientist. Apparently, the bad guy can detain this scientist legally for 72 hours because of some law passed in response to “the space shuttle sex murders.” Continue reading