Wednesday, July 27, 2011


This whole thing is mottled by an unnecessarily convoluted script, but within this mess the compressed lungs of a good sequel sputter and wheeze. Albert Pyun’s “Kickboxer 2: The Road Back” gets a few things right despite the odds against it. For starters, Jean-Claude Van Damme apparently had no interest in returning to one of his most popular roles. For fans of the original film the absence of JCVD is an immediate red flag, but nevertheless they make creative way around that gap by killing off Kurt Sloan to make way for a third Sloan brother. While no mention was ever made of David Sloan during the first film, this character's invention was a welcome alternative to simply passing off some other actor as Kurt. Van Damme’s surprising successor in this film comes in the form of Sasha Mitchell, best known at that point for his role as the doltish Cody Lambert on ABC’s “Step By Step.” Physically Mitchell could pass for one of Van Damme's relatives, which helps quite a bit. Beyond that, Mitchell does a surprisingly strong job of emulating some of Van Damme’s mannerisms in spite of the difference in their accents. While some will still consider Mitchell a marked trade down, one cannot help but respect the makers’ attempts to somehow keep this as closely relevant to the original movie as possible without insulting its audience. Sure, JCVD is gone, but fans of the original film will be happy to see Dennis Chan back in the role of Xian Chow. Better yet, Michel Qissi returns as one of the action cinema’s most memorable villains, Tong Po.

A cast of faces that could serve as a “who’s who” primer for bad 90s action flicks also keep this a comfortably familiar affair. Matthias Hues, whom most will fondly remember as the towering alien bootlegger from the classic “I Come In Peace,” shows up early on. Vincent Klyn, who played Fender in “Cyborg,” also turns up in a minor part as a thug staking out David Sloan. Prolific Japanese veteran actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is another welcome face despite being woefully miscast as a Thai politician. I’m pretty sure all of these guys went onto work on several more productions together. Remarkable veteran actor, John Diehl (“Angel,” “Joysticks,” “Stripes”) is sort of underused in the bullshit role of Sloan’s accountant. Legit kickboxing champion Vince Murdocco plays Sloan’s protégé Brian Wagner. Murdocco, who got his start in the sequel to the soft core Flesh Gordon comedy, went on to appear in a handful of other action B-flicks, including the phenomenal “Private Wars.” For some reason, Brian Austin Green pops up in the opening as a street tough punk in a King Diamond shirt who wants to put Sloan’s martial arts skills to the test.

The real shocker here, though, is Peter Boyle in the strangely likable role of fight promoter Justin Maciah. Here, Boyle once again proves that he is an exceptional, high caliber talent who can extract pure gold from whatever material he is given to work with, no matter how lame it might have been. A lot of great actors fall on hard times and turn up in some less than respectable movies, all in the name of the mighty paycheck, and they’ll simply go through the motions without much zeal. Boyle on the other hand is one of those rare guys who will nail a role, no matter how small scale the project is. Sadly, no one else in this film is on his level, so he routinely runs away with whatever scene he’s in and makes his co-stars look bush league by comparison.

As mentioned before, the story is a little more complex than it needs to be. They quickly establish David Sloan as a bleeding heart who’s running a gym that’s hemorrhaging money. The charitable Sloan spends most of his time teaching the neighborhood delinquents martial arts (good idea!), which isn’t paying the bills. Also under his tutelage is promising young kickboxer, Brian Wagner, whose aspirations of going pro seem to clash with Sloan’s ideals. Enter Justin Maciah, eager to cash in on the Sloan name by signing him to a lucrative contract under his upstart kickboxing promotion. But Sloan is not interested. To be honest, Sloan actually comes off like a pretentious asshole throughout the beginning of the movie. Not only is Boyle likable in the role of Maciah, but the character isn’t exactly written like a swaggering blowhard Dong King type. He seems pretty reasonable. So, Sloan seems like he’s overreacting when he tells Maciah to fuck off.

However, the writing is on the wall. The bank is about to foreclose on the gym, and Sloan has no money, which eventually drives him to compete against Maciah’s champion, Neil Vargas (Mattias Hues). Sloan wipes the matt with the guy and cuts a post match interview where he rips the promotion and all of its competition before retiring. Now this is where shit gets kind of stupid and tangled: Vargas wants satisfaction after being disgraced, so he breaks into Sloan’s gym, shoots him in the leg, sets the place on fire, and the little Mexican kid who asks for Chevy Chase’s watch in “The Three Amigos” dies in the process. Sloan winds up in the hospital, despondent over the events. For some inexplicable reason, Kurt’s trainer from Thailand, Xian, is brought to the US to train David. It doesn’t really make much sense, but whatever, Dennis Chan is back.

Meanwhile, the sinister Sanga, Maciah’s business partner in the fight promotion, is hatching a plot. Sanga arranges for Maciah to arrange to get David Sloan’s student Brian Wagner to fight for their promotion. Eventually, Sanga reveals that he is an associate of Tong Po’s, the villain from the first film. Apparently, Kurt Sloan’s victory over Po brought great shame to the fighter. They tried to arrange a rematch so that Po could regain his honor, but for some stupid reason Po tracked down Sloan and shot him to death, therefore making the rematch an impossibility. It looked as if Tong Po would never regain his honor until Sanga discovered David Sloan. Sanga hopes to goad Sloan into a rematch with Tong Po to avenge his loss and restore prestige to the former champion. There’s a lot of stupid shit going on here.

Maciah quickly starts grooming Wagner for a championship bout. During this whole period we’re treated to a crappy montage which parallels Sloan’s recovery with Wagner’s training and in-ring career.

Wagner catches up with Sloan at some point and invites him to his upcoming championship match. He even gives him an extra ticket and asks him to bring mama Wagner along so she can share in the jubilation of his victory. Right off the bat, you know something bad is going to happen. So, Sloan, Xian, and Wagner’s mom show up for the big fight. Sanga has Maciah’s champion replaced last minute with Tong Po, who proceeds to kick the living shit out of Wagner. Wagner winds up dying in the ring and Sanga’s men issue a challenge to Sloan to face Tong Po later that night. Really, David S Goyer? Was all of this bullshit really necessary? Did they really need to lure Brian Wagner into the ring so that Tong Po could kill him so that David Sloan would have a reason to fight the guy that SHOT HIS BROTHERS TO DEATH? Give me a fucking break.

Anyway, Sloan and Po break out the glue and broken glass hours later in the empty arena and face off in a rather unspectacular duel. Sloan gets his ass pounded into raw hamburger until words of inspiration from Xian compel a Hulk Hogan comeback out of nowhere, which leads to Sloan knocking Po out of the ring. Whatever.

While Sasha certainly bares resemblance to JCVD, and he demonstrates an interesting interpretation of his predecessor’s mannerisms, he is certainly lacking in martial arts skill, which is a tremendous detriment to the film. Story-wise, his training sequences make little sense. Xian’s main focus seems to be physical recuperation rather than martial arts training. Kurt’s training in the first film is somewhat shallow, but at least logical. Xian essentially tortures Kurt into becoming like steel. Here, David has virtually no preparation against Tong Po. There is no character arch. Stranger still, David seems to have NO IDEA who this man who killed his brothers is. Like I said, considering the history of the characters in this film, there are a lot of unnecessary twists and turns along the way. The plot with Wagner simply wastes time that should have been dedicated to Tong Po. And what the fuck is up with Vargas? Couldn’t Tong Po have burnt down the gym and killed the kid? In fact, Sloan never avenges the loss of his gym or the death of the boy against Vargas, so this is just sloppy story telling.

This film has several blessings however, the first of which is Boyle’s presence. The second is the phenomenal Qissi’s return as the larger-than-life Tong Po, who is perhaps the film’s most interesting character. It’s honestly a shame we never got a movie that focused on Tong Po alone. The villain is often more important than the protagonist he faces. In fact, the greatness of a hero is often defined by their adversary. Qissi’s Po is so powerful that it sort of eclipses the absence of JCVD’s Kurt Sloan for me.

One last commendable thing about this film is something that it does NOT have, which was a romantic subplot. How often does a subplot with some dumb bitch impede the ass kicking? You won’t find that here. Yes, dudes like tits, but you don’t always need to use romance as a means to justify nudity. Can’t bros just be at a strip club and in the background, BAM, titties? I know I’m fine with that.

The production value seems surprisingly high, too. The arena scenes in particular feel big. Unfortunately, the horribly cheap synthesizer score completely craps all over that. In fact, no score is always preferable to a cheap one. Shitty, cheap synth is cinematic AIDS. It can virtually tamper with an audience’s perceptions and make something that cost a lot of money to make seem low budget.

Reviewing this recently from the HBO VIDEO copy, I noticed that there seems to be some stuff that’s trimmed out of this version, in particular Kurt Sloan’s death scene. In fact, I have vivid recollections of seeing this in the theater, and I remember them alluding to the fact that Eric Sloan had been killed along with Kurt, and I also seem to remember Mylee – Kurt’s love interest and Xian’s niece – being shot by Tong Po as well. Not sure what happened to this footage or if it’s available anywhere else.
In case you’re wondering, Van Damme actually turned this film down to work on “Double Impact.” I often wonder what might have been had JCVD reprised either the Kurt Sloan or Frank Dux roles at some point. Historically, every great action film star had a franchise under their belt. Bronson had Kersey, Norris had Braddock and McCoy, Eastwood had Callahan, and Stallone had both Rocky and Rambo. Van Damme is perhaps the only real action heavyweight to break that pattern of attaching himself to a franchise, and that may have perhaps diminished his value in the long term. Sloan and Dux were potentially Van Damme’s Rambo and Rocky, but he left them behind for one reason or other. I have often wondered if his eventual decline might have been postponed or averted entirely had he embraced the characters that made him famous.

Chan and Mitchell returned to reprise the Xian and Sloan characters a year later in the surprisingly strong “Kickboxer 3: The Art of War” – perhaps the second strongest film in the Kickboxer series. A few years after that, Mitchell returned as Sloan in the bizarre, comic bookish “Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor,” where he once again faces Tong Po, this time fantastically played by another JCVD alumni, Kamel Krifa.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


By Chris Engberg

Some movies are so inexplicably inept in their message and delivery that they fall into the swamp of a category: “For Some Reason.” Written, Directed, and Produced by Timothy O'Rawe, “Ghoul School dives into that swamp and quickly thickens the water into a vat a festering sewage. Listen, I am fully aware this was intentionally made to be campy and fun and funny—but it wasn't and I'm about to rip this off its spool.

As soon as you put the tape in, music starts playing—even over the FBI warning! This leads into a very bizarre and long computer animated title sequence, which is blindingly cheap even by 1990 standards. The top billed credit goes to Joe Franklin, followed by minutes of no ones, and capped off by a “special guest appearance” by Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling. The extent of his Howard Stern alumni’s “special appearance” will be noted later.

The title sequence and song – which sounds like it was from a gothy Super Nintendo game – actually made me think this could be cool. Seconds into the movie I knew we were in trouble when the first two shots were loooong, lingering shots of the outside of a high school building. It immediately conjured one of my favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000 lines: “They're establishing the hell out of that building!” Down in the school’s boiler room, we’re introduced to a big old fat janitor in mid-romance with demon liquor, though he stumbles around more like Chris Farley on heroin. Which I guess is redundant. Anyway, he stuffs some money into a lock box on the wall and then morphine-shuffles over to his cot, which is an odd single achievement in realism within this movie. All high school janitors live in the boiler room. This is just a fact -- from Freddy Krueger to the black janitor in “Hiding Out.”

Two dropout junkie fruitcakes with a vocabulary that consists 50% of the words “fuck” and “shit” have caught wind of this money stash and decide to rob the school at the end of the day, which quickly leads one of the robber clods to shoot the gas huffing janitor while he's tied up because they can't find the money. As a gag, the shooter presses a button on the wall and says something along the lines of “hey, what's this do?” causing the other robber to scream “NOOOOOO!!!” The thieves are then very, very slowly misted with some bullshit chemical the school keeps on hand for some reason and leaves accessible by a single unmarked button.

This mystery mist contaminates the school's water supply, so anyone who comes in contact with it becomes, from what Max tells me, a shitty knockoff of one of Lamberto Bava’s Demons, with blue skin, green blood, and long, sharp teeth. The swim team is the “main” source of misfiring humor, the running quip being that THERE'S TOO MUCH CHLORINE IN THE WATER! Oh my stars, you got us, joke-not-funny-enough-even-for-Prairie-Home-Companion.

The heroes of the movie are two horror nut AV nerds whom we first meet at home, where they are harassed over breakfast by an unexplained step-brother/roommate/bully character. They never really touch on what the deal is with this guy, but he’s written so poorly that you feel okay with the fact that they never touch on him again. Our protagonists both wear Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling t-shirts along with 18 other people in the movie. One of these fools distinguishes himself by affecting his mouth to look like Bill Murray's character in “Caddyshack” without all that, you know, ability to be funny. These two dinguses sit in class reading both Fangoria and Slaughter House, so you'd think that when zombies show up later, they'd shoot them in the fucking head, but, for some reason, they don't. After school they stay late to jerk each other off in the AV room watching extreme horror movies.

Cut to Joe Franklin sitting in his infamous office packed with stacks of sheet music and ephemera. Here, we’re treated to a brief telephone conversation with the principal of Ghoul School, who thanks Mr. Franklin for speaking to the kids at an assembly. There is no one better to talk to high schoolers than Joe fucking Franklin. Sadly, the best thing about this movie is Franklin’s seemingly annoyed state at having to actually shoot these scenes. He seems especially perturbed when “special guest star” Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling finally graces the screen. Martling attempts to pitch himself to be on Joe's show, so we then sit through about three minutes of Jackie's one-liners – jump cuts and all – as Joe Franklin attempts to mask his beast-like rage with politeness.

That’s the extent of Jackie’s onscreen appearance, though this flick is otherwise packed with shit tons Martling’s t-shirts, posters, a comedy tape, and stickers (one of which is seen in an air duct – actually kinda funny). My theory is he agreed to appear in the movie for free in exchange for godless amounts of product placement. Joe comes back much later in the movie, much to my surprise, on another call to the school's principal clearly ad libbing his way out of another engagement at the school, only to punctuate it with a theory that there might be something in the water as he's feeling “very peculiar” and insists the water supply be tested. Joe knows his shit, I guess. This also gave me the SLIGHT hope that we might get to see Joe Franklin in zombie makeup. Of course that doesn't happen.

The box’s tagline that reads “Sex! Babes! Rock n Roll!” and yet this film is a never-ending desert without any oasis of nudity. Not even a mirage. Shitty film making 101 is that women without integrity or intelligence are usually much cheaper to come by and they will get naked for a steak dinner. I don’t understand how they came at us with this crap without any sacrificial breasts. We were not appeased. However, we do get some bullshit metal band, the Blood Sucking Ghouls, rehearsing in the school auditorium for the prom – a gig that has the singer's octogenarian girlfriend up in arms in between public makeout sessions and tepid arguments about managing the band. As they repeatedly play their one song, the editor could not be bothered to attempt to sync up any footage to any convincing playing, partly because none of them can play. The drummer looked like a stoner who was asked to perform brain surgery—just throwing his arms around. The AV nerds and the mooks in the band eventually join forces in a fight for survival. Other unmentionables include a pointless subplot of the basketball team only having five dudes on the entire team and the dickhead coach forcing them to practice all night. I guess he should because none of those twerps could make a single basket. They all end up being slaughtered. I think this was the scene where a true maverick of a zombie decides to chainsaw a guy in the crotch, instead of the tearing limb from limb seen everywhere else. The movie ends with the lead singer of The Blood Sucking Ghouls' elderly girlfriend, safely on the roof as the rest of these miscreants run out into the city, which is now all zooed out. Everyone dies and no one cares, except for the tough grandma on the roof shrieking “NOOOOOOOO”, because I sure as hell did not.

Check out the trailer. Amazingly, this thing makes this thing look a million times better than it actually is.

Prolific “auteur” in the genre of this bullshit, David DeCoteau, has an executive producer credit on this slugfest, yet "Ghoul School" makes his standards look Leone-esque by comparison. This may dwell in the scraggily barrel that DeCoteau built, but O’Rawe’s caustic terribleness corrodes the bottom out of it. DeCoteau is also listed as “uncredited” on IMDB, despite being violently credited on the tape itself. Let's just chalk that up to this movie's TMOQ.

Completely unrelated, Nintendo produced a video game entitled "Ghoul School" in 1992, which has become a minor cult hit amongst gamers. In spite of its glithces, it's also way better than the movie.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


So far, all my experiences have led me to believe that a movie with foil box art is an omen of utter shittiness. Whenever I run across a box that glimmers, I am flooded with horrible childhood memories of trolling comic shops during the 90s when every company was producing eighty different cover variants, featuring scads of dumb fucking gimmickry, from foil, to gate fold, to polybag condoms with trading cards, and even holograms in order to up the potential collectability of their title. In the process, the big two did a marvelous job of glutting the market with a high volume of sparkly crap nobody wanted, and pretty much destroyed it in the process. Since then, I have been completely wary of anything that happens to glitter. What some may see as a cute feature, I see as a cheap distraction crafted with the intention of making me think that, “hey, this thing is gleaming like Ra’s anus. It MUST be special!” Don’t believe the hype my friends. If it’s bedazzled, then it has gotta be bullshit, and “Thunder Squad” is another round of ammo in my argument’s chamber.

At first look, this is a potentially promising affair. Antonio Sabato is present, and Umberto Lenzi at the helm should at the very least yield some pretty raw violence. Even the box art itself is pretty great, featuring a misfit cavalry, tarrying forth to stomp some Bolivian ass no doubt. The cover is actually pretty great… but it has that goddamn foil finish, which defies all probable goodness. It is a figurative head on a pike, but being the morbidly curious guy that I am, I live and die by a single question: “just how bad can it really be?” Well, situations like this have lead to a new definition to describe the very bowels of awfulness: It’s FOIL COVER-BAD.

Following a blood thirsty dictator’s hostile takeover of an undisclosed South American country, a clusterfuck of governments conclude that the previous despotic ruler was less of an asshole and decide to enact a plot that will put him back in charge. But when the opposition gets a whiff of the plan, they kidnap the original dictator’s son, thus preventing him from seeking rule once again. The rest of the story is a total flatline that follows a pack of crack mercenaries, aided by a supposedly sexy demolitions expert, on a mission to free the boy. Shortly after rescuing the kid, his father is assassinated and our mercenaries end up stranded in the South American wilds with the kid and a pissed off army hot on their trail. One of the good guys pulls a heel turn and decides he’s not going to die just for some kid, even though he had previously agreed to go into the jungles to fight guerillas for the same kid only a few days ago. Whatever, pal. The kid eventually leads them to an allied border, but not without a few casualties, and that’s about it. Overall, the movie is a total snooze, the characters are barely there, and the violence itself is unspectacular for a Lenzi effort. The film’s ending feels like the conclusion of an episode of the A-team. For an episodic television show that’s going to be back next week, it would have been fine, but for a film it feels totally abrupt.

The film’s fatal soft spot truly is the lack of character development. We’re presented with types we’re supposed to accept, but we never learn much about their background, their bond, or who they are as people, which makes it virtually impossible to give a shit about anything they do. A huge component in making violence impactful is the characters involved in the explosions. Without any idea of who these people are, I just can’t be bothered to care. No one here is even remotely likable. The demolition chick is a bitch, the mercenaries are one step away from becoming creepy rapists, and THESE are the guys with the integrity. Tack on an annoying kid and I start to run real low on give-a-shits.

Though I contemplated turning the film off at several points, there was one scene early on that compelled me to keep watching. Following news of the boy’s kidnapping, the government gathers three of the world’s best psychics. They’re brought into a room, hooked up to an electronic scanning device, and each gives a reading which pieces together the exact coordinates of the boy’s location. This was a rather convoluted plot device to introduce, so I was curious as to whether or not the psychics would return at some point in the story. They never do, which left me completely baffled and disappointed at the end of the film as to why they even bothered to add a supernatural element to this story. Recommended only for those hell bent on knowing the work of Lenzi intimately. “Thunder Squad” is also interesting for its striking similarities to not only the last “Rambo” film, but “The Expendables” as well. There are some parallels between these films that left me wondering if this was one of Stallone’s influences. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Holy Christ, I don’t even know where to begin. Before I attempt to dig into this meatball, I must state that the absolute worst part about this movie is Pia Zadora and that carp-mouthed bellowing she passes off for singing. I do not understand how this foul dwarf achieved fame, and the fact that she was a sex symbol at one point is revolting to me. The only thing slightly more disgusting than Zadora's Penthouse spread would be the prospect of a Yeardley Smith sex tape.

In my search to discover how she achieved her fame, I trolled the extensive pop culture knowledge of good friend Gerard Cosloy of sports blog Can't Stop The Bleeding. This is what I got in response to my question, "just who the fuck does Pia Zadora think she is?":

"Pia Zadora was a z-list actress with a zillionaire, aging husband. In one of her first movie roles (Butterfly), she won a Golden Globe for "best newcomer" award despite a shitty appearance in a film no one saw. Her husband [had] wined and dined the voters on his yacht. For years the award was cited as evidence that the Golden Globes had no credibility. Over time, she kind of became a running joke -- frequent punchline on Carson, etc. She used the notoriety to her advantage, taking on commercials that played on her ditzy/no-talent image. Later in life she was cast in one or two John Waters movies in small parts. She was sort of the Paris Hilton/Kardashian of her era in that she was famous for being famous for being famous for sucking. However, because she took the abuse with considerable grace (keep in mind this was before blogs and Twitter) she actually fashioned something close to a favorable public reputation despite no one actually remembering any of her work."

Ah, Mr. Cosloy drops the mortar with the bricks here. I can finally start to put this thing together now. Unfortunately a lot of sources that detail Zadora's career neglect to mention factoids such as her husband's income bracket. Anyway, onto "Voyage of the Rock Aliens."

This hernia-inducing box of “what the fuck” opens with a Flying-V shaped space craft cruising through outerspace while blasting "Openhearted" by Real Life. I see this, and I’m kind of thinking, “Fuck yeah! This is alright! I can get down with this!” At the helm of the ship, a robot pilot scans nearby planets for some sign of life. He gets a hit and looks through the scope to see this:

It’s a post apocalypse-themed music video for the Jermaine Jackson song “When The Rain Begins to Fall” featuring Pia Zadora! I'm freaking out, about to have an aneurysm of joy, thinking, "holy shit, Jermaine is the leader of an apocalypse motorcycle gang, and he's going to have to fight aliens -- this is going to be the most amazing thing I have ever seen!" But then the video ends and so do my hopes and dreams of this being a truly amazing experience. Sadly, this is not a set up for the whole movie, even though it SHOULD HAVE BEEN! It was right under their noses. Unfortunately, the video was actually shot after this movie was filmed and later tacked for the release, so I can't really point fingers at anyone for missing the boat.

The Robot scans another planet, which is far less promising than the previous. Pia’s here too for some reason, but instead of Jermaine she’s backed by some horrible Stray Cats rip-off by the name of the Pack. Throughout the duration of the movie, all I can think is that this would have been a much better movie had it featured the Pack from Germany.

So, the ship’s occupants, a bunch of Devo wannabe’s by the name of Rhema, decide that this must be the place and quickly beam down in a phone booth, ala Bill and Ted. Once there, they wind up clashing with the strict regime of the Pack and their domineering manager Frankie, played by Craig Sheffer. Pia, who also happens to be Frankie’s girlfriend, soon catches the eye of the Rhema’s leader, and sparks fly. There’s not much in terms of plot, but the dancing and singing comes in relentless, two-ton slabs throughout the course of this bottom of the barrel sci-fi spoof, and it all ends without much of a conclusion.

Bottom line, this is a wretched effort. I can't call it bad because its intentions to be a campy tribute to 1950s drive-in culture are very apparent. They're trying to make a "good-bad" movie. However, they fail at the good. In fact, there is virtually no good about this movie. Bad can redeem itself -- it can even contain goodness. The humor is not good. The actors seem uncomfortable. The production value looks below sitcom scale. The bulk of the music, which isn't even rock, is merciless in its abundance and illogically littered throughout the film. What little story there is gets continually sacked by terrible, out-of-nowhere dance numbers. This wasn't really so much a viewing for me as it was a suffering. I felt a wide range of emotions while enduring this thing, from violent impatience to sadness. However, there was one scene that saved me from the brink of meltdown. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Craig Sheffer.

This is so bad it's fucking amazing! This is a mighty kraken in a virtual sea of "whatever!" The funniest thing about this is that the song itself is fucking awful. It's so bad that at first I thought it must really be Craig Sheffer singing it, but then I learned that HE ISN’T! Sheffer is actually lip syncing to the song which is performed by Michael Bradley of Paul Revere & The Raiders, which actually might make it twenty times more amazing than it was.

The only things really worth visiting from this film are the “Nature of the Beast” number as well as the “When The Rain Begins to Fall” video, which was basically inserted into the film after it was shot. The song actually does appear later in movie, with Sheffer lip syncing to Jermaine’s part while he and Zadora piss all over the fourth wall.

Originally the film was not written as a musical. In fact, it was intended to be an ultimate homage to b-movie culture. The premise of a town crawling with supernatural activity is a warm and fuzzy one, and was more likely intended to come off like the fantastic cult comic “Creepsville.” But the common tragedy of producers with bright ideas and little creativity struck hard here, and it was their hand that sewed a colostomy bag filled with the pungent influence of 1978’s “Grease” to the back of this mess. Ultimately, this thing is a top to bottom atrocity. Sadly, this was also Ruth Gordon’s last film – a sour note to go out on. Michael Berryman also provides a glimmer of decency as an escaped lunatic. Still there’s not much that will redeem this experience.

Here’s the theatrical trailer, though this movie didn’t really get a theatrical run.