Showing posts from July, 2017

Forbidden World (1982)

1980 brought us the sequel to the original Star Wars, after three years of everyone trying to ride its back to success.  The Italians pushed out Starcrash , Roger Corman himself followed suit with Battle Beyond the Stars and, for one season before they unwisely decided to ground things on Earth, Battlestar Galactica brought us an entertaining take intertwined with Mormon mythology. Still, The Empire Strikes Back reminded everyone that there was nothing to beat the original short of expanding on it.  The good thing about both the good and bad ripoffs was that it kept Star Wars alive during a period where cable was in its infancy and VCRs were still a rich man's toy.  So, space cowboys and cute robots for all! Of course, there was another surprise science fiction hit, also made on a relatively shoestring budget, that featured neither of these.  Instead, it was a haunted house floating in space with a slimy rape metaphor stalking the crew and H.R. Giger inspired sets.  That mov

Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Everyone has to start somewhere.  For Arnold Schwarzenegger... well, it wasn't here.  It was a horrible comedy called Hercules in New York where they dubbed another actor over him to hide his accent and called him Arnold Strong.  That could have been all she wrote for the Austrian bodybuilder's acting career, save for seven years later he became a bit of a star due to the documentary Pumping Iron . After bit parts and some television appearances, he finally got his break playing the title character of Conan the Barbarian.  The Conan stories, as envisioned by Robert E. Howard, took place in the Antediluvian world of around 10000 B.C., thus making his accent a non-issue.  It also helped that Oliver Stone's script did not contain a huge amount of dialogue for any of the characters. Young Conan (Jorge Sanz) lives in a northern village, where he learns about swordmaking from his father (William Smith).  One day his village is invaded by warriors led by Thulsa Doom (James E

Battle in Outer Space (1960)

Toho Studios is largely known for monster movies, specifically Godzilla and all his brethren.  These are the movies that got played constantly when I was a kid on Saturday mornings.  Yes, I watched some cartoons, but the highlight of the day was seeing a giant lizard stomp all over Tokyo. While the original Gojira and a few of its immediate sequels were serious (as well as some of the other members of the menagerie), they got sillier as the 1960s went on.  Silly even to the point that most of the other output of Toho, including their go-to director, Ishiro Honda, was largely forgotten. Big monsters may be one thing, but Toho made some good sci-fi films as well and, while I hate to admit it, they were ahead of Hollywood for a period when it came to special effects.  It's no surprise they decided to do an all-out effects movie like Battle in Outer Space. In the near future an international space station is attacked by alien saucers, who then proceed to cause mayhem on earth b

Circle of Iron (1978)

In the 1960s Bruce Lee was on the cusp of stardom.  Unfortunately, he had been working in the United States and trying to break into Hollywood which at the time was finally willing to break certain racial barriers.  In typical Hollywood form, that meant one particular race, and Mr. Lee didn't count.  Still, he persevered. Circle of Iron was conceived as not just a martial arts film, but one that explored the philosophy of martial arts.  It had plenty of action and adventure, but ultimately had a lesson at its heart.  Lee wrote early drafts of the script, hoping to have Steve McQueen star in the lead.  McQueen was not willing to make Lee a star on his coattails, so James Coburn was the next choice.  Typical Hollywood situation arose, the script ended up in development hell, and the movie never surfaced.  By the time Lee had the influence to revive it and make it happen he had passed away. I didn't know this about the movie when I started watching it, so when I started seei

Barbarian Queen (1985)

If there was one thing the success of the first Conan the Barbarian  film resulted in (other than making Arnold Schwarzenegger a star) it was creating another genre for the exploitation film industry to rip off.  Sword and sandal stuff wasn't anything new, as the Italian movie industry had pumped out countless movies about Hercules, but here there was suddenly a chance to go full out with the boobs and blood. And that is, really, all Barbarian Queen is.  It simply looks like someone went down to the local gym, grabbed a bunch of women, made a stop at the hairdresser and filmed the movie over a weekend in their back yard and during the off-season where they hold the local Renaissance fair. Amethea (Lana Clarkson) and Argan (Frank Zagarino) are preparing for their wedding when their peaceful village is attacked by forces led by the evil Arrakur (Armando Capo).  Most of the survivors are taken into captivity.  Amethea's sister Tiniara (Susana Traverso) is raped and captured