It is with absolute confidence that I call “Infra-Man” one of the most memorable films I have ever seen. That’s because I have yet to forget the sound the movie makes. A Hong Kong knock-off of Japanese superhero TV shows like “Ultraman,” this production from the prolific kung-fu studio Shaw Brothers is an endless barrage of noise. In the United States, it was promoted as “beyond bionics,” in an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of “The Six-Million-Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman.” The heroes of those shows had every superhuman action punctuated with a distinctive sound that let you know something bionic was happening. When the sound designers were working on this movie, they wanted to make sure everyone knew that our guy Infra-Man couldn’t take a leak without it sounding like the start of an Emerson, Lake & Palmer B-side. Continue reading
There are many different kinds of cult movies. There are those that are so specifically targeted at one particular sensibility that it’s nearly impossible for anyone but a handful to appreciate it, like “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension.” There are others that aspire for profundity and inspire a few dedicated souls to unlock its meaning, like “Donnie Darko.” There are some that have been lost to time and require adherents to keep its memory alive the way monks used to memorize manuscripts, like “Nothing Lasts Forever.”
But the strangest and saddest category of these films is the “never-was” cult movie. Hundreds of productions fall under the radar every year, seen by few and remembered by fewer. There’s nothing remarkable about these, by definition. What’s more interesting are the ones that could have become obsessions but didn’t for whatever reason. “Six-String Samurai” is one of these. Continue reading
You know what you’re in for very early on with “Terror in Beverly Hills.” Not only does the name “Frank Stallone” appear almost immediately on screen, but the rest of the credits unspool while Palestinian terrorist mastermind Abdul runs his daily errands. He reads a newspaper, he goes to a shop, and he visits his local mosque. No dialogue, no action, just a man going about his business at a leisurely pace. When he finally boards a jet for the United States, you wonder if you’re going to watch him sit through the entire 14-hour flight. Continue reading
“Attack of the Super Monsters” is a junk-drawer movie. For starters, it’s not technically a movie, but rather a handful of episodes of a Japanese kids’ show stitched together. It gets stranger than that, because it’s a weird combo of hand-drawn animation, Godzilla-style rubber monster suits and live-action backgrounds. If Osamu Tezuka and Ralph Bakshi ever worked together, it might look like this. Continue reading
For a good chunk of “Five Deadly Venoms,” it’s more John Grisham than Jackie Chan. There’s a long stretch in the middle that’s actually a legal thriller involving witness intimidation, false testimony, corrupt judges, phony confessions and finally the execution of an innocent man. It’s kind of like “A Few Good Men,” but if Tom Cruise got a needle pushed through his brain at the end. Continue reading
Shark Week may be over for this year, but there’s enough B-roll footage in “Shark Attack 3: Megalodon” to create at least one Discovery Channel special. Between these clips, actors talk at each other and sometimes take off their clothes when they’re not having their arms ripped off by shark puppets. This is one way to make a movie, I guess.
The movie stars John Barrowman as Ben, who is head of security for a Mexican resort on the ocean. A giant telecommunications company has stretched a fiber optic cable along the ocean bed, and one day Ben finds a shark tooth embedded in it. He can’t place the tooth, so he takes a picture of it and puts it on the Internet. A paleontologist named Cataline sees it and immediately heads south of the border. You see, the electrical impulses from the cable are stirring up the sharks in the water. One of those sharks is the prehistoric ancestor of the great white, megalodon. Continue reading
It must have been very easy and very difficult to make a science fiction movie in the late 70s. It was easy because after the success of “Star Wars,” studios were throwing money at anything with robots in it. But it was difficult because the genre was in a very weird place. Before “Star Wars,” big-budget sci-fi movies generally were thoughtful, philosophical works. But after “Star Wars,” the A-list sci-fi movie transformed into something more visceral. Movies with a message gave way to pure spectacle. “Logan’s Run” was pushed aside for “Flash Gordon.” “Saturn 3” tries to have it both ways. It wants to split the difference between “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Alien.” That’s how we get a movie in which Harvey Keitel accidentally teaches a robot how to be horny. Continue reading
WARHAWK TANZANIA. Continue reading
If you’re a woman in a horror movie, yours is often a lonely existence. If you haven’t been hacked to pieces or eaten before the end of the movie, you’re probably the lone survivor of the killer’s rampage. Whether you climb into the back of a conveniently passing pickup truck, float out into the middle of the lake in a canoe or get saved at the last minute by Donald Pleasance, you’re the Final Girl. Your friends are all dead, and you have to make it through the last act of the movie all by yourself. Being a woman in a horror movie usually means you either become self-reliant, find a man to save you, or you die.
That’s a big part of the reason why I found “Patchwork” to be so refreshing, because it’s one of the rare horror movies I’ve seen where the focus is on the relationships between women. Even if it’s not entirely successful in that regard, it’s at least attempting something different. Rather than make its lead characters stronger by isolating them, “Patchwork” focuses on its women surviving by getting closer together. You literally can’t get any closer together than the women of “Patchwork” do, as a matter of fact. Continue reading
“Metamorphosis” is an Italian-made variation on the classic mad scientist tale of a brilliant man cursed by his own hubris to turn himself into a Halloween costume. Seemingly made with ample inspiration taken from David Cronenberg’s remake of “The Fly,” “Metamorphosis” ratchets up the mindless violence but tones down the tragedy. Unlike Jeff Goldblum’s doomed Seth Brundle, the main character of “Metamorphosis” only succeeds in making himself as physically ugly as he is spiritually. Continue reading