Friday, February 22, 2013


Do you like "Witchboard?"  Of course you do, who doesn't?  Well despite this film being written and directed by Kevin Tenney of Witchboard fame, this motion picture is NOT A SEQUEL TO "WITCHBOARD!"  You will be alerted to this by a notice on the back of the handsome Magnum slip cover as well as a warning at the beginning of the movie itself.  This warning immediately succeeds a trailer to... wait for it... Witchboard.  But it's not a sequel.

It is impossible to begin to review Witchtrap without first addressing the sound, which is entirely dubbed.  Despite the movie's humble budget, (which was spent mostly on explosions, melt effects and Linnea Quigley), it is definitely a movie that wouldn't ordinarily be dubbed.  VHS Summer's own Max Dropout has a bit of insight into this from when he screened this film last year and spoke with the director - he may be able to provide an addendum as to why the original audio was compromised.  It certainly limits its effectiveness as a horror movie, but it adds a great deal of comedic levity, especially the one-liners from the main characters. (We had to get Kevin to the airport fairly early the day after the "Witchboard" screening, but we had breakfast at IHOP on the way to the airport. I was still groggy, and had a mouthful of pancakes when we talked about the audio, so my memory might be slightly warped. I do remember him telling me that the audio was lost -- but part of me recollects him telling me that it was actually stolen, which makes it even weirder. Who the fuck steals the audio for a film? That's an ultimate dickhead move since you can't really do anything practical with it. - M.D.)

The plot of the film surrounds a haunted mansion and its heir, Devon Lauter, who is bound not to sell or demolish it by the will of his deceased uncle, Avery Lauter  He is trying to rid the place of the lingering spirit of his uncle so he can turn the place into a B&B, and he assembles a crew to do the job.  Half of the crew are metaphysical types, half are detectives paid to run security for the operation, and Linnea Quigley is the A/V tech (niiiice!). From the get-go, it's fairly obvious who's going to live and who's going to die.  The story has some interesting points and is executed fairly well with some nice effects, but it's not really the plot that makes this a fun watch, it's the visual style and dialogue.

The banter between the detectives is hilarious.  With lines like, "He may be a walking hard-on with feet, but he's a good detective", and, "I wouldn't drink that if I were you... it's as flat as my ex-wife's chest", there's no shortage of laughs to be had, even if the viewer is laughing at, not with, these characters.  The main character, Tony Vicente, is the best casting job in the movie, by far.  He carries this movie with his partner, Levi Jackson, and their buddy cop vibe works pretty well.  The psychic-type people are thoroughly annoying with their pomposity and crybaby antics.  You start to really wish they would just die in dramatic fashion, which makes a few kill scenes extra enjoyable.  The antics of the Deliverance-worthy groundskeeper, Elwin, are perfectly peppered into the mix to provide a change of pace.

Overall, this movie has maximum camp because of the dubbing and is an interesting (enough) story with an engaging (enough) main character.  It has competent special effects and is visually pleasing from a technical standpoint. It's an interesting little flick that, like the spirit trapped in Laughter Mansion, will be confined forever to VHS.  Floating somewhere in the late '80s between "Witchboard" and "Witchboard 2," and featuring scream queen Quigley, Witchtrap does well to live up to its tagline "This time, it's not a game"....   wait, "game"... like a Ouija board? Last time!?!  JEEZ, IT'S NOT A SEQUEL!!

Sadly this film has no YouTube presence in English, however...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


By nature, the rip-off is unapologetically cheap and undignified. It doesn't kid itself about what it is. It’s there to bank off of someone else’s already-successful mold. I’m not one of these guys who gives a shit about originality. I care way less about who did it first, and more about who did it BEST. Granted, there are some really lazy rip-offs out there, but there is such a thing as a good rip-off. The good rip-off strives without shame to clone and amplify the greatest elements of its predecessor, and sometimes the results can even surpass the original because it distills it down to only the best parts. I say, if theft results in someone making better use of whatever was taken then it is not a crime.

If you look to your left, there’s a whole lot of lure-fluff and hook. This is obviously trying to sell you Summer camp boner jam that took a bite off the “Meatballs” craze, and that’s a good thing. Still, I've been on my game a long time. I’m no stranger to the box art bait-and-switch. I've been hustled enough to know when someone is running a game on me, and the “Oddballs” box art tripped the alarm. Amid the camp setting, you have bikini babes, and camp councilors cheering on their buddy as he moves in for the kill. Hell, it even has “balls” in the title. Still, there was something suspiciously flat and generic about the overall composition of the art, and I was right to be wary. No one even remotely similar to any of these characters actually appears in the film, so if you’re hoping for something that’s on the “Last American Virgin” track, you can forget it. The protagonists are actually a pack of pre-teen boys, who are hell-bent on getting laid before being shipped back to their respective homes. Of course, the kids aren't really old enough to get into any truly raunchy trouble, but they are a refreshingly realistic stereotype of adolescent horniness, and some of the situations they get into are still suggestive.

There’s not much of a plot to report back, really. A bunch of savvy delinquents get shipped to Camp Bottomout, but their libido-driven hijinks are jeopardized late in the game when some asshole winds up purchasing the place for a future shopping complex. But much like any pack of dysfunctional family members who boast of their hatred for one another, when something threatens the sanctity of what is theirs they go to war to defend it.  It’s a story that’s been done to death over the years, and this is no fresh variation. Rather, it is a standing rack upon which tons of terrible jokes are piled to the point of near-collapse.

The first fifteen minutes of the film are amusingly mortifying. Right off the bat, it just reeks of definitively Canadian low-rent production values. It has the oppressive atmosphere of “The Kids of Degrassi Street,” which is endearing in some ways if you’re a fan of that sort of stuff. The gags are so cornball that they are almost surreal, but at the same time the writers have married into them a certain grim attitude. The meanness of the humor occasionally perforates the sophomoric surface like a shark fin, totally hinting at the dark force operating the bubbly, candy colored mascot suit from the inside.

A big piece of broken glass at the bottom of the kiddie pool comes in the form of comedian Foster Brooks, who plays kid-hating camp owner Hardy Bassett. Here, Foster plays a variation of the Lovable Lush persona which became popular on the talk show and variety hour circuit during the seventies. He toured and appeared with the Lush gimmick for years, but it was always considered comedy for the sophisticated adult market. One of the main points of genius to “Oddballs” is that the creators have taken the Lovable Lush, tacked on depression and suicidal tendencies, and PUT HIM IN CHARGE OF KIDS! 

At one point, Bassett is chastised by his daughter for hiring a convicted child molester to serve as one of the councilors before the film cuts to scene where a flamboyant homosexual has a heart attack while huffing poppers during his morning exercise drills with the kids. Topically, it’s a dark moment for something that was probably intended for a teen audience, but the humor which surrounds it comes in such broad strokes that it makes it palatable. The sharp edges are wrapped in soft stuff and that’s what makes this movie brilliant. 

While Brooks steals the show and plays the only characters with a real arch, the rest of the cast are likable enough to keep you invested. The movie is routinely accused of being bogged down with bad acting, but in the performances are in line with the goofball material. It's strong for the sort of acting that it is. There are some solid comedic performances here, particularly from the younger cast members. Even the production design is solid despite the low production values. While it’s definitely not as polished as “Meatlballs,” its intelligently mixed styles of humor easily make "Oddballs" the superior film.  If you don’t hold the fact that you won’t get the nudity-saturated sexual situations the box hints at, you’ll still be in for a strange and satisfying ride that delivers a few bawdy shots in spite of the kid cast.

For the total nerd out there, the script was penned by Ed Naha, who was also responsible for polarizing works such as "Troll," "Dolls," "Spellcaster," "Wizards of the Lost Kingdom," "C.H.U.D. II: Bud The Chud," and "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!" That's a career!

Sunday, January 13, 2013


From the back of the original MGM/UA Home Video release:  “What do you get when you cross ‘Animal House’ with ‘Death Wish’? ‘Young Warriors’ – a unique combination of fraternity hijinks, high-speed action, wildly imaginative animation, and hard-drivin’ rock!”

About twice a year, I get some weird call from a company claiming that I won an automatic drawing, and that I have been selected to receive a speed boat, or some crap. Up front, I am totally into the idea, but when they tell me that all I have to do is come down to their warehouse and claim the prize, I automatically suspect it's just the cops trying to bust me for some awful thing I forgot I did twelve years ago. Now, the back of this box has the side show bark down. I was way intrigued by the idea of seeing Paul Kersey and John Blutarsky’s two-headed bastard kid. The proposal of such an unlikely meeting sounds amazing at first, but when you mull it over for a minute you realize you might be getting scammed. Well, since I wasn’t risking potential arrest, I jerked the curtain back, rushed in, and I am now very happy to report back to you fine people that this disgusting mutant baby is very real and not just a bunch of bullshit some yokel made out of paper mache to bilk you out of your money. This one is worth every penny!

Like I said, I was apprehensive that the box had written a check that was likely going to bounce hard, and I was even more skeptical when I realized this was directed by Lawrence David Foldes – a dude whose films are real hit-or-miss for me. While “Don’t Go Near The Park” is a total rager, Foldes was also responsible for the brutally crappy Linda Blair actioner “Night Force.” I was never as impressed by his work that had real money behind it. However, I walked away from “Young Warriors” with a new-found appreciation for the director. Calling this his best effort doesn't really convey how good a movie this is, as it towers high above his others. Granted, there are a few technical faux pas, but the action is rock solid, and it features some ideas that challenge the average rape/revenge mold.

"Young Warriors" tries to be many things, but it never worries about tastefully breaking down the wall of separation between all its elements. Other filmmakers might concern themselves with blending the college humor with the vigilante elements, so that everything feels congruous. Foldes doesn't give a shit about that, and that's why this movie is so great. There’s a satisfying mental whiplash when the film decides to shift gears, as one moment we’re treated to a hazing ritual where some guy is forced to shave his butt cheeks in order to garnish cocktails, and the next we’re getting run off the road in Rapesville U.S.A!  Instead of worrying about everything clashing, Foldes focuses on the quality and the effectiveness of the individual components. The comedy and the characters are good enough to have been from a great 80s sex comedy, while the action side is mean and gritty.

The story opens on a few light-hearted scenes which establish the bond between several characters as they make the jump from high school to college. Kevin Carrigan (played by lesser Van Patten, James) is our central character, inexplicably studying animation while running new pledges through a ringer. Following the vicious assault of his sister, Kevin has a hard time settling back into his usual antics. In fact, he becomes a violent dissident toward the college establishment and even his detective father for failing to bring his sister’s attackers to justice. Craving vengeance, Kevin and his frat brothers decide to form a vigilante squad, which prowls the city by night and (in theory) corrects injustices. However, they mostly just indirectly hurt innocent people in the process, or get their asses kicked. One of the most hilarious aspects of this “urban death squad” is that the frat house’s mascot – a poodle – rides shotgun for most of their patrols. These guys like the idea of justice, and they mean well, but for the most part these sheltered individuals don’t possess any real familiarity with real life violence. Instead, they're only upholding the idea of revenge as seen on TV and films, which does not mesh well with their reality. While our protagonists may have a noble cause, this is a film where the good guys really aren’t so good. In fact, they are contemptibly inept. This profound examination of vigilante violence was and still is very fresh, and is commonly overlooked by most of the film’s critics who discard it as shallow action fluff. There are some really wonderful ideas within the film, for which Foldes deserves more recognition.

Eventually, Kevin and his crew catch up with the guys responsible for the gang rape of his sister, and everything concludes in an unconventional and unhappy way. Foldes’ entire film not only questions Hollywood violence and the perceptions of law and humanity we derive from them, but his ending completely defies the usual clichés you might expect from films of this nature.

Hardly enough of a fault to bring the film down is Kevin’s scantly-featured cop father, played by Ernest Borgnine, and partnered with Richard Roundtree. What little on-screen time they have leaves us wanting more, but that’s not a terrible thing. Other noteworthy appearances include Mike Norris, son of Chuck, as one of the frat boys-at-arms, the phenomenal Dick Shawn as an animation professor, and Linnea Quigley.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


No doubt that the term “ripoff” is rarely used in a positive light when describing a movie. The base word even connotes violent extraction. When you receive something of lesser value than what you paid for, you might say you’ve been ripped off. Any time somebody refers to something as a “ripoff” it’s bound to be an accusation rather than a term of endearment. You never hear anybody say, “man, that was a great ripoff!”
Sergio Martino’s “2019: After the Fall of New York” is routinely trapped, tagged as some “Escape from New York” ripoff, and tossed back. Sure, it's obviously derived from other more popular films. In fact, this Spaghetti Apocalypse also braids together an overwhelming host of elements from familiar future bummers such as “The Omega Man,” “Death Race 2000,” “Max Max,” and “Planet of the Apes.” The influences are plainly all over its sleeve, but calling this film unoriginal isn’t entirely fair or true. That would be like calling Edward Hopper a hack simply because he didn’t invent the paint he used. In much the same way an artist might work in clay, Martino uses other films to create something that is unique and original in its own way to create a total rager that might actually be better than a few of the films that inspired it.

Set after certain nuclear doom, the world is now a radiation infested wasteland teaming with elegantly spiked barbarian types, all of whom are sterile and dwindling toward extinction. Amongst them is Snake Plisken clone Parsifal, a celebrity of the times with a shadowy past who sees fit to spend the last of his days competing in lethal demolition derbies. Shortly after his latest victory, the spoils of which are some gold and a hermaphrodite, Parsifal is tapped by the Pan-American confederacy and spirited away to an Alaskan compound. Hefty promises are made in exchange for his mercenary services. The job: penetrate New York City and extract from it the last fertile female on earth. Unfortunately, the island is now inhabited not only by rat-eating warlords, but a sleek and nihilistic governmental faction known as the Euracs.

Parsifal’s odyssey through the bombed out Manhattan borough features a colorful call list of mutant scum, some of whom become useful allies in his effort to repopulate mankind. Like I said, the movie proudly waves its influences in your face, but then there also a handful of curious references scattered throughout the film. For instance, one of Parsifal’s mutant helpers is a dwarf known as “Shorty.” We’re first introduced to Shorty when he’s mistaken for a child by a pack of blood thirsty rat eaters. Upon discovering that he’s merely a dwarf, one of the scuzzy villains refers to him as one of those “time people” – perhaps in reference to Gilliam’s “Time Bandits.” And certainly not least, there’s the simian-faced rebel Big Ape, who is perhaps the most memorable character Parsifal encounters.

There’s no denying the level of enthusiasm which powers this Frankenstein of familiar parts, but it is entirely held together by a fresh mortar of imagination and creativity. There are tons of terrible post apocalyptic themed films out there made by assholes who think all they need to make a successful film of this nature are the keys to a junkyard and a few punk jackets. The aesthetic of a destitute future is probably one of the cheapest and easiest to achieve. We get the grit and rubble galore here, but it's also infused with an element of fantasy. There are a lot of sleek design elements that give this movie its own identity. In particular the medieval design of the Eurac soldiers on horseback are something entirely different from not only everything else in this film, but for the genre altogether. Beyond that, the script itself is great, and the cast is strong. Much credit must go to Michael Sopkiw who plays Parsifal. Beyond raw charisma, he also makes the part his own rather than trying to imitate actors who portrayed the characters his role is no doubt modeled after. Honorable mention also goes to the odd and lovely Anna Kanakis, who provides an ample dose of villainy despite her limited time on screen.

The only motive anybody could have for calling "After the Fall of New York" a ripoff is that it's convenient or easy. It's a cheap conclusion, which is ironic and hypocritical because these same people fault the film for its low production values. It may have that strange, dated feel that is so prevalent throughout eighties Italian productions (which I find personally appealing), but overall the production has a much grander feel to it than the Castellari’s Bronx films. Despite some obvious miniatures, which are still well-done, the action and the sets feel epic in scale.

Overall, this is not fine cinema, nor is it intended to be. It is technically made well enough to let you completely escape into its world. It also manages to exceed expectations and even trump its influences to some extent by virtue of the fact that it follows that Italian methodology of distilling and multiplying the best parts of what makes something classic. As an experience it is purely fun with no wasted moments. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


This shallow sequel to the 1984 sex comedy classic “Hollywood Hot Tubs” only taps a few of the ingredients which made its predecessor so endearing, but it takes more than a few boobs and bubbling whirlpools to protect it from the rest of itself.

In the original film, prankster delinquent Shawn is treading on thin ice after vandalizing the landmark Hollywood sign by changing it to read “Hollyweed.” He’s given two options: repeated, random sodomy in prison, or going to work at Hollywood Plumbing with his uncle.  Naturally, he chooses the least rape-filled option and soon he is thrust into a seedy underworld of massage parlors and bath houses. Among the bevy of colorful characters we’re introduced to are mother/daughter duo Pam (Remy O'Neill) and Crystal, who run the venerable Hollywood Hot Tubs. While Crystal, a slack-jawed valley girl whose jiggles frantically under her tube top, is more of a peripheral character in the first film, she takes the central role in the sequel.

The fact that this was produced six years after the original made me a little wary to begin with. Even the unfortunate brightness and color scheme of the box screamed “don’t do this!” Coincidentally, the “Hollywood Hot Tubs 2” box actually bears striking similarities to the art for the terminally wretched “Hardbodies2” – the worst sequel of all time to one of the greatest sex comedies ever. I don't know what the fuck it is, but there are actually a bunch of past-due sequels that feature boxes with white backgrounds and aqua/yellow lettering. It's like some subliminal military warning code that something is going to eat shit.

There is an overwhelmingly good idea at the heart of this sequel: the return of Crystal, once again played by Jewel Shepard, who is easily one of the best and most memorable characters from the original film. While Shepard is primarily known as a B-actress, she was always more than just a solid rack. Shepard coupled centerfold perfection with great comedic ability. There were plenty of actresses from her period who had no trouble baring all, however Shepard easily transcends them by not only being hot, but by being a hot COMEDIAN.

Shepard is always a joy to watch, but I wasn’t sure if anyone could extract a good full-length feature based entirely on the Crystal character. While “Hollywood Hot Tubs 2: Educating Crystal” is anything but good, it’s not a failure because of Shepard. Once again, she’s wonderful here. Unfortunately, everyone that surrounds her is unlikable, and the story itself trades in the real heart and grit of the original film for cartoon laughs.

Our tale begins with Crystal in a mild panic as Hollywood Hot Tubs falls into minor disrepair, which does not bode well for her bid to take over the family business. On the side, the man responsible for the upkeep, aging guitar guru Darby (JP Bumstead), is being hounded to join a band called Brain Dead. In the midst of it all, Crystal’s mother, Pam, is being woo'd by the swarthy sheik Prince Ahmet (a waste of veteran Bart Braverman) who wants to turn Hollywood Hot Tubs into a publicly traded franchise. Crystal is desperate to prove that she has what it takes to run the place, so she enrolls in business school, where she meets the obnoxious Jason. Jason convinces Crystal to let him mold her into a respectable character, hence “Educating Crystal.” At some point, Prince Ahmet’s chauffeur, Gary, spots Crystal and falls madly in love with her at first sight. Gary is also a struggling author who’s attempting to cobble some horrible romance noir crap together, and he thinks Crystal just might be his muse. Eventually, Gary discovers that Ahmet is plotting to marry Crystal’s mother so he can snake Hollywood Hot Tubs out from under her. Seriously, it’s a boring fucking mess that alienates itself tonally from the original film. The sub-plot with Darby really drags this thing down; it’s given too much time, but not enough for Darby to feel like a real character. Aside from that, Bumstead wasn’t the right guy for the part.

Speaking of poor casting, it doesn’t get much worse than Patrick Day here, who plays the Higgins to Crystal’s Dolittle. This has rarely been said, but this is one of those instances where Corey Feldman could have really elevated this project. Rob Garrison ("The Karate Kid," "Punk Vacation") also has a small part here as Billy Dare, a cockneye British hair rocker who's out to prevent Darby from stealing his spot in Brain Dead. I couldn't even get excited about that.

I have trouble believing that those responsible for this sequel held the original film in any sort of high esteem. While the original Hot Tubs digresses into utter insanity, the bulk of the film feels very real up until its wild finale. There’s depth to the relationships, and some of the performances in the original are alarmingly strong. The sequel on the other hand is pretty much just a goofball comedy from start to finish, and it is lacking a prime ingredient: The seedy environment. In “Hollywood Hot Tubs,” we’re treated to a custodial-bird’s eye view of Sunset’s sex culture. Here, Hollywood Hot Tubs has been transformed into an innocuous health spa, complete with juice bar. The adult aura and sense of taboo are nowhere to be found. No one’s jaded or just out to get laid, and that’s the problem. None of the characters are sexual or interested in sex. It's a movie that has tits and some jokes, but that doesn't make it a sex comedy. Instead, it's a romantic farce about a day spa making its IPO. It's a movie that accepts and settles into its own cheapness, and never really bothers to get dirty. Altogether, this is a depressing lack of effort. 

I couldn’t find a trailer, but here’s some of the magic from Part 2, featuring Patrick Day as Jason coaching Crystal on how to be a better business woman.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


"The Seduction" is the curious result of director David Schmoeller ("Tourist Trap," "Crawlspace," "Puppetmaster") taking his theater studies with Alejandro Jodorowsky, work with Klaus Kinski and mentoring in film by Luis Buñuel and throwing them in a deep, dark hole only to be retrieved at an undetermined point following the completion of this film. "The Seduction" was profoundly mediocre and excellent practice for the three seasons of "Silk Stockings" Schmoeller would later go on to direct in the 90s. It begins with all the promise of a "Red Shoe Diaries"-esque late night cable movie channel softcore, Morgan Fairchild swimming nude while a mysterious onlooker is taking photographs all set to a soundtrack of breathy, delicate violins and electric piano solos scored by Lalo Schifrin ("Cool Hand Luke," "Prime Cut," "Dirty Harry"). This really sets a precedence for the remainder of the film of getting the worst possible outcome from everyone involved, unless you count the acting/facial paralysis Fairchild seems to be suffering from. I guess that's what happens when you pool your talent from television actors famous for their guest appearances on "The Love Boat." "The Seduction" was released during Morgan Fairchild's lucrative career in television embedded seamlessly between her two episode stint on "The Love Boat" and her appearance on the "Billy Crystal Comedy Hour." Playing TV newscaster Jamie Douglas's (Fairchild) boyfriend Brandon is unremarkable Canadian treasure Michael Sarrazin ("They Shoot Horses Don't They"). The slightly more unremarkable Andrew Stevens (10 to Midnight, Death Hunt), who plays Jamie's stalker Derek, road a wave of television softcore work through the mid-90s and into great films such as "Point of Seduction," "Illicit Dreams," "Subliminal Seduction" and so on. Stevens also had the esteemed honor of doing a two episode guest spot on "The Love Boat."

This film has all the suspense of an episode of the "The Andy Griffith" Show with minimal amounts of sex, violence and nudity but revolves around a vaguely interesting concept, lonely people with nothing in their lives but fantasies and the relationship between fan and celebrity. Derek falls in "love" with Jamie because she is an on air personality then begins attempting to inject himself into her life. "The Seduction" is a castrated attempt at a thriller but a step by step instructional on how to make a stranger fall in love with you. Take secret photographs of her swimming, send her flowers, call frequently and always unwantedly, rub your muscles while starring at a photo of her whispering "you can't keep your eyes off me can you", surprise her at work by lurking in her office with chocolates then lay in wait hoping your handsome chiseled face will wash away all the creepy shit you did subsequently. Lover boy doesn't really seem like much of a threat through most of the film but eventually motivates Brandon to turn to the police who can only advise "get a gun" reducing Jamie and Brandon into rifle-toting vigilantes.

"The Seduction" is a thriller falling back on it's softcore erotic qualities which barely exist outside of the music, steamy hot tub sex and peeping toms hiding and sweating in closets. The only potential for merit I can see are the brief Morgan Fairchild nude scenes... a soapy nipple or two and some slow leg caresses, my favorite.

Friday, November 9, 2012


I knew when I picked up this movie it would be good simply by judging the box.  Never mind that hunting the future is a stupid idea that is impossible.  Never mind that this is Robert Patrick's first film and his acting skills were probably not yet up to the level of his trademark role, a robot.  There's a scantily clad lady with a crossbow, T-1000 holding a scimitar, and a Nazi shooting a laser-sighted uzi in the jungle.  Boom, I'm already sold.  Then I scanned the credits.  *Double gasp* This movie was directed by Cirio Santiago, esteemed pupil of Roger Corman, and written by J. Lee Thompson, whose fingerprints are all over my two favorite Bronson flicks, "10 to Midnight" and "Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects" not to mention many more traditional film classics like "Cape Fear" and "The Guns of Navarone".  Still, I had to keep my expectations reasonable, I didn't want to set myself up for a let down.

I wasn't let down.  "Future Hunters" starts in 2025 with post-nuclear wanderer, Matthew (Richard Norton) searching for the the Spear of Longinus, which pierced Jesus' side while he was on the cross.  He hopes to harness its supernatural powers to save mankind just as evil warlord Zaar hopes to obtain it for destruction. As Matthew touches the relic, he is transported back in time to prevent the nuclear holocaust. Upon arriving in 1986, he gives the head of the spear to a young couple, imploring them to find a man named Hightower who can protect the artifact.  The man from the future dies of mortal wounds in Slade's back seat after saving the couple from would-be attackers in a biker gang.  Here is where we meet our protagonists, Michelle and Slade.  It's kind of funny, but these two lovebirds don't seem to like each other that much and seem to bicker at every opportunity. Maybe they just need a wacky super dangerous world-saving adventure to rekindle their romantic essence...?

As the gung ho Michelle and reluctant Slade attempt to learn more about the spear and look for the man named Hightower, trouble starts heading their way.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the main henchman, Bauer, is totally the guy who played Thorg in "Gymkata", Bob Schott.  He's like Dobber from TV's "Coach", but bigger and a Nazi.  Bauer works for a power hungry Fielding played by Ed Crick.  Crick's portrayal adds a certain bit of silliness to the movie since he has kind of a Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh look.  The adventure vibe is officially ramped up by about 7-8 minutes of straight kung fu action that is hilariously crammed into the beginning of the second act of the film.  I won't lay out the sequence of events, but I will say this film has Mongols, Pygmies, Amazons, Bruce Le, Jang Lee Hwang, helicopter chases, and alligator pits surrounded by fire. 'Nuff said.

Another pleasant surprise was the wonderful, if not overly ambitious, soundtrack and score.  I was moved to look up the music credits and found that Ron Jones was responsible.  His credits include Star Trek TNG, Family Guy, DuckTales, and Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers.  It's plain to see that this film was an excellent demo for him.  While the editing was uneven and silly, the music itself was great, especially the Amazon themes which reflect an acute Enter the Dragon influence (anyone who knows me knows Lalo Schifrin is one of my favorite composers).

This movie has lots of great action, killer 80s synth music and scoring, and really cool locations in South Asia.  It manages to balance the action and plot well despite the slow first act.  It gets more fun as it goes along and builds to a heroic ending.  I will definitely give this another spin sometime with friends, but will definitely look for a different copy than the SLP mode copy I happened upon. I was very pleased to find this little piece of history and would recommend it if you need a bit of fun.

In lieu of a trailer, here is a clip from the kung fu portion of the film...