ORBzine - 2000.10 TV Movie Reviews

ORBzine Movie Reviews October 2000

Bad Taste

This is the first film from Kiwi director Peter Jackson , and in the same splattergore-humour vein as his next film - the excellent Braindead. The actors are not professionals: they were friends of Jackson and had nothing better to do. The SPFX are home-made, but as good as anything Hollywood churned out!

The film was made in New Zealand, 1988. A small, remote town has been invaded by aliens. The Kiwi Government send in their best men to sort it out.

"The Lads" discover a bunch of braindead zombies controlled by fiendish aliens - and non-stop violence ensues as Earth's last line of defence takes on the enemy!

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Braindead

This is another effort from Kiwi director Peter Jackson , and in the same splattergore-humour vein as his first film - the excellent Bad Taste.

This film is set in New Zealand, 1957. The hero's mother gets bitten by a rabid animal. She eventually dies, but comes back as a flesh-eating zombie. This is much to the dismay of some Teddy Boys who are pissing on her grave. Every time she bites someone, THEY become a zombie too. Luckily the Church Minister knows Tae Kwan Do, and kicks arse for the Lord.

However, fat blackmailing bastard Uncle Les invites the whole town around for a big piss-up. Of course, the zombies gatecrash ...

As in Evil Dead , a zombie's severed head or limb is still capable of action. Jackson takes this to its natural conclusion; one zombie's internal organs chase the hero through the house.

The Minister's TKD punch-up alone puts Slutty the Vampire F*cker to shame, never mind the climax - which involves a lawnmower!

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Frighteners, The

Kiwi director Peter Jackson finally got the chance to do a big-budget Hollywood horror flick. Michael J. Fox [ Back To The Future ] is a psychic hired to exterminate the ghost of a serial killer.

The action takes place in a remote logging town with a disused sanatorium. An Evil entity starts killing off citizens - and Fox, being psychic, is the only one who can see the killer. Luckily he has a few ghosts to help him, including USMC drill sergeant R Lee Ermy.

Nervous FBI Agent Jeffrey Combs [ Re-Animator ] arrives, making this resemble a twisted version of Twin Peaks !

Elizabeth Hawthorne plays a reporter. The supporting cast includes John Astin [ Addams Family ] and Dee Wallace Stone [ E.T.].

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Darkman II: Return of Durant

The film's hero, Dr Peyton Westlake, is here played by Arnold Vosloo [ The Mummy ]. For those unfamiliar with the original film, he invented synthetic skin that lasts 99 minutes before spontaneously combusting. He was horribly mutilated by a gang of thugs, and armed only with superhuman strength and the fake skin [which makes perfect disguises] he became a vigilante.

Robert G. Durant [Larry Drake - Prey ] is Westlake's arch-enemy. In the first film he suffered total bodily destruction, but somehow he survived. This time he is selling lazer bazookas to neo-Nazis.

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Darkman III: Die, Darkman, Die

The film's hero, Dr Peyton Westlake, is here played by Arnold Vosloo [ The Mummy ]. For those unfamiliar with the original film, he invented synthetic skin that lasts 99 minutes before spontaneously combusting. He was horribly mutilated by a gang of thugs, and armed only with superhuman strength and the fake skin [which makes perfect disguises] he became a vigilante.

Now that Durant is finally dead, the major gangster in town is Jeff Fahey [ Body Parts ]. Fahey's long-suffering wife is played by Roxxann Biggs-Dawson . Fahey has everything that Westlake wants [a wife and child], but he takes them for granted. Wstlake disguises himself as Fahey, and romances the wife. The theme of this film reflects Beauty and the Beast.

The main story concerns Darlanne Fleugel [ Battle Beyond The Stars ], playing the Doctor that was Jenny Agutter 's cameo in the original. She tracks Westlake down and promises to heal his nervous system so he can feel pleasure, and to help him perfect his synthetic skin so he can have a normal life again.

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Highlander

This was the Hollywood debut of Australian director Russell Mulcahy . Christopher Lambert [a Frenchman] is Connor MacLeod, who is Immortal and cannot die. The film starts at a wrestling match, to mirror the film's theme of lethal duels in competition for a final prize. The film's tag line - There Can Be Only One.

In flashbacks to Highland Scotland in the 1500s we learn of MacLeod's past. He was mortally wounded by a fierce warrior, the Kurgan [Clancy Brown - Starship Troopers], but his wound mysteriously healed. Ramirez [Sean Connery] pops up as an Obi-Wan Kenobi figure, and gives the necessary exposition. MacLeod, Ramirez and the Kurgan are all Immortals, a race of beings who can die only by decapitation. They hunt each other down and duel to the death, until only one remains.

There are some familiar faces. English actress Beaty Ednie plays MacLeod's first love, Blossom. Hugh Quarshie [ Phantom Menace ] is MacLeod's African friend Castagir. The soundtrack is by Queen, who also did the music for Flash Gordon. This time the music was released as the It's a Kind Of Magic album, because of the movie's slow initial success.

The climax involves cartoonish SPFX that aren't really as good as those in Raiders of the Lost Ark 5 years earlier.

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Highlander 2: The Quickening

AKA Hatstander 2: The Sickening - there should have been only one!.

Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery both reprise their roles from the first film.

Virginia Madsen [ Candyman ] is a freedom fighter who wants MacLeod's help to destroy the shield, a force-field around the Earth that MacLeod helped build after the planet's ozone layer was destroyed.

Michael Ironside [ V ] is the evil General Kitana from the planet Zeist. He exiled the Immortals to Earth, and since the most dangerous [MacLeod] is still alive Katana decides to finish him off. The side effect of Katana's plan is that the aged, bloated MacLeod is once again a youthful Immortal.

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Highlander 3: The Sorceror

This is the second sequel, and pretty much disregards the previous film. Plotwise it is a remake of the first film, with superior CGI SPFX.

Christopher Lambert is back as MacLeod. Mario Van Peebles [New Jack City] is the villain, merely a rip-off of the Kurgan from the original.

Deborah Unger is the token babe, an archaeologist who digs Van Peebles up after MacLeod buried him alive centuries before.

The director's only previous experience was on music videos. This shows in the climax, which occurs to the sound of the Heavy Metal tune Dr Feelgood.

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Skeeter

This is a 15-rated straight-to-video effort from 1993. The film is set in the American mid-west, in a small town called Clear Sky. Charles Napier [Silence of the Lambs] plays the local sheriff. The other recognisable face is Michael J. Pollard.

The locals are attacked by mosquitos as big as your hand. And I'm not talking wingspan here, either.

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The Hunger

The script is from the novel by Whitley Streiber . This was the directorial debut of Tony Scott , Ridley's younger brother. Prior to this Tony had only directed TV advertisements: as a result he makes every frame carry meaning.

The film starts in a nightclub, with a band playing the song Bela Lugosi is dead. Intercut with this we see a pair of vampires [ Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie] seduce and murder a pair of clubbers.

Susan Sarandon and Cliff De Young play a pair of scientists researching the aging process. They hope to make possible through scientific means the immortality that the vampires have achieved by supernatural means.

Dan Hedaya [Alien 4] cameo as a police detective. He only appears in a couple of scenes, including the chilling ending that implies there is a network of vampires. Watch out for early appearances by the young Willem Dafoe and Sophie Ward.

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Ice Pirates

Robert Ulrich [Spenser for Hire] is the Han Solo-esque leader of a group of space pirates. Mary Crosby is the requesite Princess. Anjelica Houston and Ron Perlman [Alien: Resurrection] pad out Ulrich's crew.

This is not a big-budget film, nor is it actually much good. However, scenes from it appear to have influenced much better films such as Highlander and Spaceballs.

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Omen III: The Final Conflict

Sam Neill [ Merlin ] plays Damien Thorn, the AntiChrist. He spends most of his time seducing a newscaster playes by Lisa Harrow [a lookalike for Angela Rippon]. The only noteable cameo is a possible sighting of Ruby Wax as the secretary of the US Ambassador to London.

A group of fanatics from the Roman Catholic church get the daggers from the first film and try to kill Damien. They might be good monks, but they're terrible hit-men.

Damien has to arrange the death of The Nazarene [the reborn Christ]. He doesn't use his powers, but instead has the murders committed by a collection of unlikely Satanists - vicars, nurse, boy scouts and so on!

Does Damien win in the end? Well, technically that would be a spoiler. But in this reviewer's opinion, the ending of the film is an extreme let-down when one considers it is part 3 of a trilogy where most of the cast have died spectacularly horrible deaths. In other words, there is nothing here to match David Warner's final scene in the first film.

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I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle

Neil Morrissey [Boon] buys a motorbike - but it turns out that the machine is demonically possessed! The headlight grows jaws and chomps down on human flesh, so that the fuel tank can fill with blood. Hey, at least it's unleaded!

The film transforms into a dated-looking 1980s police drama, as an injured biker is interrogated by an unrecognisable Michael Elphick [Morrissey's co-star in Boon]. Meanwhile, the bike devours a traffic warden and anyone else it can find.

Morrissey calls in the local priest [Anthony Daniels! Star Wars] to perform an exorcism. Burt Kwouk [Pink Panther] also has a cameo appearance as owner of a Chinese take-away.

As the title suggests, this is a low-budget horror-comedy with a few British TV actors. It is set in the English Midlands [Birmingham], over a hundred miles away from London - which is a relief, because most films imply that civilisation ends at the M25.

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Silver Bullet

This is a 1980s werewolf tale, narrated by the young girl in the story. There have been a series of gruesome murders in a small american town. The girl and her brother discover that a werewolf is responsible. They get their uncle [Gary Busey - Lethal Weapon] to help them hunt it.

The only noteable cameo is Everett McGill [ Twin Peaks] as the town minister.

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Death Train

Not the 1990s movie based on an outline by Alister MacLean. No, this is a lo-budget horror flick from 1979 - the only recognisable name is Bo Svenson!

A bunch of American are backpacking somewhere beyond the Iron Curtain, in what looks like Yugoslavia. They spend the night in a remote village, but get chased out by a band of murderous yokels. They jump onto a train that is passing by, but they are out of the frying pan and into the fire.

The train has supernatural abilities that it uses for evil purposes. In one scene it leaves the tracks, crosses a swamp to claim more victims, then gets back on the tracks again!

The Authorities realise that their train is out of control, and try to stop it. They pull up tracks [see above] and park some 3-tonne trucks in its path. Saying the engine alone probably weighs over 100 tonnes, this would hardly do much damage to a normal train never mind one that is possessed by the Devil. Why don't they just call out the Russian Army, and have their tanks shell the bastard back to hell?

The satanists' mission is to select one of the hikers as a bride for Satan. However, there is a most unlikely hero [of sorts], who saves the day in a most unlikely way.

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Rabid

This is one of David Cronenberg 's 1970s films, before he went to Hollywood and started to produce crap like eXistenz

The central character is played by porn-star Marilyn Chambers , famous for the movie Behind the Green Door [watched by Jackie Chan in Cannonball Run]. The part was originally meant for Sissy Spacek.

The theme makes it sort of a sequel to Shivers . It is a form of modern-day vampire film, with a very nihilistic Everybody gets it tone.

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The Dentist

This stars Corbin Bernsen as a dental healthcare specialist who kills people. No, this is not the film where Markie Post plays his wife and sells him out to the cops. That film was based on RL, while this one is well-written fiction.

Bernsen discovers his wife is having an affair with the dirty slob who [fails to] clean their swimming pool. This drives him slightly insane ...

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Batman and Robin

This is the fourth film in the Batman franchise, and thanks to Joel Schumacher it was by far the worst.

George Clooney [ From Dusk Till Dawn ] steps into the rubber suit, and Chris O'Donnell [Scent of a Woman] is his sidekick. Michael Gough is the butler - the only one [apart from the Pat Hingle as the Police Chief] to play the same character in all 4 films - and Alicia Silverstone plays his niece.

Arnold Schwartzenegger is UNBELIEVABLY bad as Dr Freeze. The only decent acting from muscle-bound weightlifters in this film is from Jesse Ventura [ Predator ] and the guy from the Conan TV show who play a couple of guards at Arkham Asylum.

About the only decent thing this film has to offer is Uma Thurman . She plays a biologist who shares her lab with a mad scientist [John Glover - Brimstone ]. Dr Glover creates a half-human monster called Bane, and then poisons Ms Thurman with her own discoveries. She becomes a half-woman, half-plant supervillainess, and calls herself Poison Ivy.

This is a brave film insofar as it actually has an anti-environmental message: Let's pollute all the plants to death with our stupidly large penis extensions - err, motorbikes!

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Freaks

Tod Browning 's black & white classic from 1932. This is an excellent film - the acting is a bit ropey, but that's not what you watch this film for.

The villainess, Cleopatra, is a temptress who marries a circus midget for his money. She tries to poison him, but his freakshow friends know that she's up to no good and wreak a terrible revenge on her. The sight of the freaks crawling through the rain and mud, butchers' knives in hand, is memorable indeed.

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The Devil Rides Out

Christopher Lee plays the hero - probably the only time in his entire career. He is the Count de Richelieu, a nobleman who discovers that a young friend of his has joined a coven of satanists.

Charles Gray, who later portrayed Blofeld in Diamonds are Forever , is the leader of the coven.

The script is based on a novel by Dennis Wheatley , and the film was produced by Hammer Productions.

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Delicatessen

This is a cult classic, a french noir horror. A man moves into an apartment, little suspecting that his landlord [a butcher] is the leader of a band of cannibals.

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Black Mask

This is a big-budget Hong Kong film, produced by Tsui Hark - an associate of John Woo.

The hero, Jet Li, and his GF are members of Unit 701, Special Forces in an un-named army. They are subject to a medical procedure that removes their sensation of pain. However, the unit mutinies and does a runner. Jet Li gets seperated from them, and ends up in hiding as a librarian in Hong Kong.

The fact that the guards use AK-47 and everyone ends up in Hong Kong implies that they deserted from the Red Chinese army. However, Unit 701 appears to have caucasian and negroid members!

Yes, Unit 701 reappears. They have top-of-the-range American weaponry [including the Calico 9mm submachinegun!] and want to take over Organised Crime in Hong Kong.

Jet Li puts on a black Lone Ranger type mask, and charges off to save the day. This disguise is pretty pathetic, and makes him look like Kato from Green Hornet, but nobody recognises him!

When he finally goes toe-to-toe with his former colleagues he discovers that his GF [ Francoise Yip - Romeo Must Die] has become a S&M dominatrix.

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Erotic House of Wax

An American girl graduates from College, and inherits an erotic wax museum from her dead uncle. She brings along 3 friends [2 boys, 1 girl] to check the place out, and they end up spending the night there.

Strange things start to happen. For example, when a magical medallion is placed around a wax dummy's neck, the dummy comes to life and starts having sex for real.

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Earth Girls are Easy

This is a SF sex comedy musical. Geena Davis plays a stereotypical valley girl, a rich bimbo. She discovers that her Doctor boyfriend is cheating on her.

A space-ship full of hairy aliens lands in her swimming pool. She does what any woman would do - she shaves them, and discovers they look just like Geena's RL then-husband Jeff Goldblum [ The Fly ], token black guy Damon Wayans [Last Boy Scout] and Jim Carey [who went on to star in The Mask].

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Halloween 2

This film starts with the climax of the first movie. John Carpenter wrote the original film to be open-ended as a last thrill, a he could be ANYWHERE shock. Somehow somebody [possibly Producer Dino de Laurentiis ] convinced him to write this far inferior sequel.

Donald Pleasance carries on the manhunt, while Jamie Lee Curtis is taken off to hospital.

This time Michael Myers does not concentrate on the Morality of the first movie, and does not restrict his victims to teenagers having sex. No, he is now an equal opportunities mass murderer! He heads to the hospital, and on his way to Jamie Lee's room he whacks everyone in the building. This is the perfect example of a film where the cast decide let's split up and explore the creepy basement even though the power is out and there's a serial killer on the loose.

Myers scrawls the word Samhain on a blackboard. Pleasance talks about the druidic human sacrifices that marked what is now Hallowe'en - a direct lead into the third film.

The ending is straight out of a Terminator film. Nobody ever thought there would be a fourth film. Or a fifth, sixth, whateverthehell ...

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Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch

No, not ANOTHER Michael Myers murder spree. He was killed in the second one, remember? Of course, he was back again in the fourth film, but that's Hollywood.

The hero investigates the murder of a paranoid maniac [he was murdered, he wasn't exactly paranoid!] who claimed there was a conspiracy concerning hallowe'en masks. He and the token babe go to the factory where the masks are made, in the small California town of Santa Mira.

The mask company is called Silver Shamrock, which is typical bullsh*t from so-called Irish-Americans. The guy in charge is Cochrane [Dan O'Herlihy - Robocop ], who owns the factory and in effect the whole town. This film is thus something of a western.

This film requires serious suspension of disbelief. Not the supernatural elements of the plot: we are well used to such things. No, the unbelievable bit is the idea that the hero [an ugly hairy 40-something] could get off with the token babe, who is 20-something and gorgeous.

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Men in Black

Will Smith [ Independance Day ] is an NYPD cop who discovers things he cannot explain. Tommy Lee Jones can - Jones is a Man In Black, an agent of a secret US Government agency known as Majestic 12. Smith gets recruited into the Agency, and kicks alien butt.

Vincent D'onofrio [ Whole Wide World ] plays a redneck who is skinned and worn as a suit by the villain, a giant insect-like creature.

Linda Fiorentino is the coroner, and for some inexplicable reason she is far more babelicious here than in The Last Seduction.

The combination of these elements, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld , is a sci-fi comedy thriuller that hits all the right notes.

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Babylon 5: River of Souls

This takes place a couple of years after the end of the Shadow War, and since most of the events in Season 5 are over most of the main characters are nowhere in sight. The one who are present are the ones who got very little to do in the other B5 TV movies!

Because the action is all set on the B5 station, the main character is Captain Lochley [ Tracey Scoggins ]. Lieutenant Corwin and the Doctor also pop up.

Lochley's main problem is an unlicensed Holo-Brothel. Poor old Zach, now head of Security, decides to check it out personally. The plot may seem stolen from Deep Space 9 , but at least the writers haven't used the Trekkie force-field technology. The holograms are an illusion of projected light: they can only touch a human who is wearing a special sensor-net suit.

The holo-pimp calls in his lawyer and sues Lochley and the station. Of course, because they are against her they are meant to be the bad guys. The problem seems to be the assumption that people have copyright on their image and physical appearance. This seems to be JMS's attack on the infringement of intellectual property rights. Lochley herself is used for the image of one of the holo-hookers. But are we to believe that she is shocked that people would fantasise about shagging her?

Garibaldi takes time off from running Mars, and drops by B5 to meet up with old pal Ian McShane [Lovejoy]. McShane, an archaeologist, has discovered an ancient artefact. A Soul Hunter [Martin Sheen - Apocalypse Now] arrives on the station, in search of the artefact. The Soul Hunters are too cool a race to ignore - they popped up fir a single episode in Season 1, and did not reappear until now. However, Sheen is an odd choice; he is not an SF actor, and is strangely wooden here.

As ever in this kind of thing, the plot device threatens to destroy the entire station. Wow, that's original.

Just to move things along, Lochley has an out-of-body experience. This conveniently allows her to rationalise the Souls thing.

The best thing about this movie is Scoggins in the skimpy lingerie. The bad thing is that although this was used in PR stills to promote the movie, she only appears in the lingerie for a very brief time.

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Babylon 5: A Call To Arms

This is set several years after the end of the Shadow War. Sheridan and Garibaldi are on a mission to oversee the creation of a new class of ship for the Interstellar Alliance. The ships are a prototype destroyer that incorporates Vorlon and Minbari technology [reverse-engineered from the White Stars] with human technology that Earthforce personnel will be familiar with. The flagship is named ... Excalibur.

Sheridan gets a message from Delenn: he watches 20 seconds worth of scrambled gibberish, and when it is over Garibaldi tells him he has been watching it for 20 minutes. However, despite the recent telepath crisis he does not consider it may be a Psi Cop attack.

A couple of the most important characters in Crusade are introduced here. Galen the Technomage is close to being exiled, because he has chosen to involve himself in human affairs. Dureena [ Carrie Dubro ] appears on Babylon 5 station, where she has a run-in with Zach. She meets with the local Thieves' Guild [the first appearance of such an organisation], and we also get the prerequisite cameo by Captain Lochley [ Tracey Scoggins.

Tony Todd [ Candyman ] is an Earthforce captain who teams up with Sheridan. Marjean Holden plays the navigation officer.

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Invasion of the Bee girls

This is a 1960s sexploitation flick, filled with nudity and some kind of story about alien women.

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Village of the Damned [1960]

This is a 1960 black & white classic, based on the novel by John Wyndham and adapted for the screen by Stirling Silliphant [In The Heat Of The Night]. The star is George Sanders.

The sleepy English village of Midwich is cut off from the rest of the world for several hours. Everyone inside the village boundary suddenly, inexplicably falls asleep. When they wake up, it is discovered that several woman are now pregnant. The children they give birth to are ... different. They have telekinetic abilities, and their behavior is inhuman ...

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Night of the Living Dead

This is the 1990s remake, produced by George Romero & Menahem Golan and directed by SPFX genius Tom Savini.

Patricia Tallman [ Babylon 5 ] visits her mother's grave, where she is attacked by zombies. She manages to escape, and ends up trapped in a remote farmhouse. Tony Todd arrives, and dispatches several zombies with the aid of a large hook - a blatant reference to his starring role in Candyman.

Why remake a classic? Are there things that make this movie better than the original? Well, Tallman has great legs and does not wear a bra.

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Return of the Living Dead III

A secret US Army base contains drums full of zombies that are being used for experiments. Yes, the military want to use zombies as weapons!

The hero is the son of the base commander. His girlfriend [ Mindy Clarke ] dies in an accident, and he uses zombie goo to bring her back to life. However, she has an unquenchable hunger for human brains.

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Conan the Destroyer

Arnold Schwartzenegger returns in the role that made him famous. This time the Mongol guy is nowhere in sight, and in his place Conan has an irritating sidekick. The unlikely pair are hired by Sarah Douglas to protect the nubile teenage Princess, Olivia D'Abo . On the way they pick up a Zulu warrior woman [ Grace Jones ].

There are several muscle-bound villains for Arnie to fight, played by genre favourites Pat Roach and Sven Ole Thorsen.

Not only is this film far inferior to the original, it is also below Beastmaster in so many ways that it is not worth discussing. However, it is nowhere near as bad as Red Sonja. Richard Fleisher 's direction is nowhere near as good as that of John Milius in the original.

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The Green Slime

Filmed in 1969, this is merely a technicolor 1950s B-Movie. The star is Richard Jaekel [Dirty Dozen].

The film is about a green scaly alien beastie with giant pincers for hands. It goes on the rampage in an underground US military scientific base, and the guards split up to hunt it down. What is truly shocking about this film is that within 10 years the far superior Alien was made by Ridley Scott . If anything, this shows how post-Star Wars films are far superior to pre-Star Wars Science Fiction.

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Bio-Dome

A pair of half-witted teenage rocker dudes, a RL Beavis & Butthead played by Adam Sandler and a Baldwin Brother, are accidentally locked inside a sealed, self-sustaining environment called the Bio-Dome.

The dome is a giant greenhouse in the middle of Arizona. The 5 scientists inhabit it include the leader [William Sanderson, dressed to look like Ace Rimmer] and Kylie Minogue.

The two half-wits have beautiful, intelligent girlfriends, but they constantly try to seduce Kylie and her even more bablicious friend, who went on to play Kitana in Mortal Kombat: Conquest.

The problem is that if the Bio-dome experiments are ever used in real life situations, the population will consist mainly of average people instead of highly-trained experts. Bud and Doyle provide the media with a human interest angle, and make the project a PR success.

An interesting cameo is Tucker Smallwood [ Space: Above & Beyond ], who plays the SWAT team captain assigned to evict Bud and Doyle.

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The Clown at Midnight

A bunch of people in an old deserted theatre are stalked by a guy dressed as a clown. The prospective victims are made up from the usual stack of teenager cliches: the Jock, the Bitch, the Nerd and the token Black girl.

The only real name in the film is Christopher Plummer, no doubt supposed to add a touch of class. Candyman 2 was on the other channel, and it was far preferable to this predictable drivel.

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Radioactive Dreams

Albert Pyun must have really needed the money to allow his name to be associated with this drivel.

There was a nuclear war. Two young boys escaped, and after 15 years in a fallout shelter filled with pulp detective novels the now-twentysomethings think they are 1940s PIs.

They try to rescue a mysterious babe from some hideously deformed mutant bikers. It turns out that the plot device everyone is after is the key that can fire the last remaining thermonuclear missiles. George Kennedy, the token star, pops up near the end in an attempt to give the film some kind of respectability.

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Communion

The screenplay was by Whitley Strieber , based on his book. He claims it is an account of true events that actually happened to him. Strieber is played by Christopher Walken [ Sleepy Hollow ], and his wife is portrayed by Lindsay Crouse [ Buffy: Season 4].

The Strieber family and a couple of friends [including Andreas Katsulas - Babylon 5 ] are at their remote country house when there is an inexplicable flash of light. Strieber has flashbacks of being abducted by Greys ...

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Pumpkinhead

As always with this kind of film, this involves a group of American teenagers. This time they include one who looks like Eric Roberts. They invoke an ancient curse, and the title character [a big ugly demon] comes after them and kills them off, one by one. Their only hope is Lance Hendriksen [ Aliens].

Because they are stuck out in the middle of nowhere, the teenagers meet lots of irritating rednecks. Mayim Bialik [Blossom] pops up as one of the Wallace Kids.

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Firestarter

The pre-pubescent Drew Barrymore stars as the title character, a young girl with pyrokinetic powers. She can ignite practically anything [people, cars, water, cinder blocks] with the power of her thought.

Martin Sheen [ Babylon 5: River of Souls ] plays the paper-pushing head of a secret US Government Agency. George C. Scott [ Murders in the Rue Morgue ] is his one-eyed henchman, a killer with a soft side.

Heather Locklear [Dynasty] has a small role, and Antonio Fargas [Starsky & Hutch] pops up as a cab driver.

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Battle Beneath the Earth

This is from way back during the Cold War, in 1967. The plot is like something out of a James Bond film: the USA is being attacked via tunnels dug all the way from Red China. The Yellow Peril have developed hi-tech laser drilling machines. They can destroy all US defensive installations on the West Coast by dethonating bombs underneath them, and it will look like the result of natural geological activity.

The main tunnel extends thousands of miles across the pacific ocean. A further network of tunnels goes thousands of miles under the USA. The tunnel in the north goes under NORAD HQ and the USA's missile sites.

The Free world's only hope is Kerwin Matthews [ Seventh Voyage of Sinbad ]. Ed Bishop [ U.F.O. ] pops up for some background research.

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Fright Night

An American teenager living alone with their mother teams up with an English-accented Vampire Expert to slay the undead. The Vampires can't enter a house unless invited, and have a facial metamorphosis when they intend to bite a victim. No, this is not Buffy , but it seems to have been an influence.

The reluctant Watcher is Peter Vincent [Roddy McDowell - Planet of the Apes ], while the vampire is Chris Sarandon and the token babe is Amanda Bearse [Married with Children]. In RL she is apparently a lesbian activist, but in this film she portrays an enthusiastic heterosexual.

There are some debts to other Vampire mythos. Apparently it is not the Cross that repels Vamps, but the user's faith. Sarandon wears a trench coat instead of a cape, and the Vamps can turn into a bat or a wolf. The Wolf transformation includes some excellent SPFX that far outshine anything else in the film.

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

A group of American teenagers take a trip to rural Texas, to visit a disused slaughterhouse owned by the father of one of the group. However, they run into a family of disgruntled ex-employees who want payback.

This is an amazing piece or work, courtesy of first-time director Tobey Hooper . Like Psycho and Silence of the Lambs, this film was influenced by the deeds of true-life serial killer Ed Gein. The main killer is Leatherface, a chainsaw-wielding maniac with a mask made of his victims' skin.

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Scream

This is yet another horror flick from Wes Craven [ Nightmare on Elm Street, Shocker ]. It was touted back in 1996 as the ultimate Slasher/Parody flick, although in this reviewer's opinion it was always overrated and overhyped. Since then it has been bettered [in this reviewer's opinion] by Scream 3 and Scary Movie .

It starts with a cameo by Drew Barrymore as the requisite sexy teenage girl who gets killed by the serial killer. He then goes on to work his way through the teenagers from the local High School. The heroine is Neve Campbell , here reunited with her The Craft co-star Skeet Ulrich [ Chill Factor and her RL Boyfriend Matthew Lillard [ Hackers ].

The murders are covered by TV journalist Courtney Cox , who claims that the man convicted of murdering Campbell's mother is innocent.

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Dr Phibes Rises Again

The ultimate Vincent Price villain is back again for more of the same! He rises from his vault to find his house demolished and his safe emptied. A quick stop at the house of his rival helps - he [and we] overhear some useful plot exposition. Phibes and his rival are in a race to find the source of eternal life. They end up on the same ship to Egypt, on their way to a Pharoh's tomb. The ship's captain is a cameo appearance by Peter Cushing.

Phibes and his assistant, the beautiful Vulnavia, wipe out sundry bystanders in a variety of unusual ways. The usual dim-witted Scotland Yard detective tries to solve the murders.

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Death Race 2000

This is one of the films from the period in the 1970s when everything had to have a car chase - even Shakespeare!

The most popular spectator sport in the world is a motor-car race. The aim is to drive across the continental United States, and in the process drive over as many people as they can. It is amazing how many people are stupid enough not to avoid getting killed! This year there is a new hazard for the racers: a Resistance organisation is trying to ambush them.

One of the problems with the film is that there are only 5 race contestants. The protagonist is Frankenstein [David Carradine - Kung Fu], a black-clad figure whose masked face is never seen by the public. The villain, Machine-Gun Joe, is the pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone. Martin Kove [Cagney & Lacey] is Nero. The other 2 racers are both women, one a Nazi and the other [Mary Wororov - Watchers 2] is a psychopath.

The message of the movie is some kind of anti-violence moral. Or something like that.

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Toxic Avenger

Made in 1985 by independant studio Troma Productions, this went on to spawn many sequels.

High School nerd Melvin gets covered in toxic goo, and mutates into a Swamp Thing type creature ... the Toxic Avenger! He gets even with all the people who picked on him, and even gets a girlfriend - she's blind, and unspeakably clumsy!

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Sleeping Dogs

This is a staright-to-video action flick, Die Hard on a space ship. The ship, en route to the Titan prison colony [from Judge Dredd?], is hijacked by C. Thomas Howell [with his evil goatee].

The hero, a 2-gun pistolero in a SWAT jumpsuit, must fight his way past hordes of thugs who use M16s [and M203 grenade-launchers] - on a space ship!?

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Howling II

This bears more resemblance to The Hunger than to the first Howling film. It starts with a couple of biker thugs being picked up at a rock concert and wiped out by some werewolves.

Christopher Lee [ Wicker Man ] plays a werewolf hunter, who gives the necessary exposition. The werewolves are led by Stirba [ Sybil Danning ], and in a week's time [on her 10,000th birthday] all werewolves will reveal themselves. Lee aims to kill Stirba off ASAP.

The action moves to Eastern Europe, where the Werewolves have their own castle. They conduct arcane rituals there, with lots of skimpy bondage-wear and 3-way sex. The film can be summed up by the fact that during the end credits they have looped the scene where Ms Danning rips her robe off to reveal only a g-string!

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Last Broadcast, The

A group of film-makers in their early 20s go into the woods to investigate a mythological phenomenon. The trio get lost, one goes missing and then ... their film footage is recovered later ... Sound familiar?

The makers of this film felt that the Blair Witch Project was a rip-off of their film. However, there are differences. This is about the events of the disappearance, not merely a recreation of them. Also, we actually find out their true fate at the end!

Speaking of rip-offs, the gimick in this film [the blurry image of the monster] seems to have been inspired by the film Congo ...

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