The Rev’s B-Fest Diary 2017 Part 1

Hello, all.  It’s your friendly neighborhood Rev. here to tell you about B-Fest 2017.  Much like the last time I did this, I’ll be providing a travelogue of sorts, full of restaurant opinions as well as a rundown of the fest itself and anything else that I fancy may make for interesting reading.

Fair warning:  I hadn’t actually planned on writing this, so as a result I didn’t take any notes.  I may forget/misremember some things, so my apologies in advance.  I doubt I’ll remember where Slide Whistle Guy did his thing, and I’m not remembering any memorable chants, aside from “U.S.A.!” which popped up a few times.

Before we begin, I would like to dedicate this piece to the lovely Lyz Kingsley, who inadvertently (or did she!?!) prompted me to do this.  I hope she, and you, enjoy it.  I also wish to give a sincere thank-you to Ken, who not only puts me up when I visit, but cheerfully wastes bandwidth on my pieces.  You’re a true friend, and I’m honored to know you.  Finally, I would like to send all my well-wishes to our own GalaxyJane, who is currently doing her thing halfway across the world and as a result was unable to attend.  It wasn’t the same without my B-Fest buddy, and I hope to see you safe and sound at T-Fest this year.

Day One:  In Which I Arrive

I flew into Chicago Wednesday night, and unlike the last time Ken was involved in finding me at an airport, I went to exactly the right place, and he appeared not even a minute after I’d gotten outside and into the waiting zone.  It really couldn’t have gone better.

I was a bit peckish, so we made a trip to Gene’s & Jude’s so I could try their hot dogs.  Hot damn, those are some delicious dogs!  Just luscious, with a wonderful snap to the casing that made my mouth very happy.  This led to me finding out a couple of disturbing things:  1. There are people that don’t like snappy casings; 2. Caseless hot dogs are a thing; 3. Ken knows people that not only eat them, but prefer them to proper hot dogs.  Way to make America great again, Trump!  (I’m topical!)

The fries are very good, too, but man do they load you up with them.  Amusingly, they do not provide you with ketchup here, because even though fries should have ketchup, they’re not about to make it possible for people to put it on their dogs.  Just another reason Ken loves this place.  As a result, a couple of fast food joints in the immediate area instituted a policy where you have to buy food from them in order to get any ketchup packets.  I’m surprised they’d give them out in the first place.  At least these fries are good enough that I only missed the ketchup a little.

Along with dogs, fries, and beverages, they also sell tamales.  Ken says those aren’t as good as the dogs.  [Editor Ken: I don’t really know, as I’m not a tamale guy. However, G&J’s wasn’t picked as America’s Best Hot Dog stand because of the tamales.] That’s fine; I’m not likely to get Mexican food in Chicago considering where I live.  (I’m foreshadowing!)  By the way, that’s the extent of their menu.  Nothing wrong with a niche.  They obviously know what they’re doing; they’ve been around since the mid-1940s.

With that, we retired to Ken’s place to shoot the breeze, and then we headed off to bed.

Day Two:  In Which I Pretty Much Only Talk About Food

To the surprise of no one who’s read a past B-Fest write-up here (mine or Ken’s), Ken and I drove to L&L Snack Shop for breakfast, picking up B-Fest hostess extraordinaire Holly on the way.  As has become my tradition, I made the French toast my choice for our first visit of the weekend.

Needless to say, it was an ambrosial meal, and the free ham was heaven.  My bacon was slightly overdone, which actually allows me to clear up something from my first B-Fest piece.  At that time, I described my bacon as “too crispy,” which made Ken all “OMGWTF?!”  As I explained to him at some point, I should have described it as “too crunchy.”  I may be in the minority, but I like my bacon a bit al dente, where it has just started to crisp up a bit.*

[*Editor Ken: Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, even if it’s WRONG WRONG WRONG.]

Having said that, if “slightly overdone bacon” is the worst thing I can say about a meal, then that meal was utterly wonderful.  I mean, bacon cooked a bit more than I prefer is still bacon, which means it’s awesome.  Frankly, they could’ve charred that bacon coal black and the rest of the meal would have more than made up for it.

After dropping Holly off, we returned home to await the arrival of Jeff and Chad.  During that time, we didn’t watch a movie.  Yes, I’m shocked, too.  Admittedly, I did get some really good work-related news during that period, so I would have been too busy filling out forms to pay attention to whatever might have been on.

After the guys arrived, we had a wonderful round of getting caught up.  Then it was movie time.  We decided to finally see the entirety of the absolutely wonderful La Nave de los Monstruos/Ship of Monsters.  We had tried to watch this at a previous Texas get-together, only for the DVD to refuse to play after a certain point.  If you ever get to read my write-up for it, you’ll find out that everyone loved the hell out of this movie, and there was much sadness when we had to cut the viewing short.

To avoid this issue, we went ahead and pulled it up on YouTube.  It turns out it’s even more glorious in its entirety.  To give you a brief overview, the all-female population of Venus sends two of their own, one very hot and the other mind-searingly hot, out into the depths of space to find potential mates for their race.  After picking up a few representative males from various planets – not really caring if they might actually be able to, you know, successfully reproduce with them – their spaceship breaks down and they land in Mexico to repair it.

There, they meet a singing caballero and his young brother.  Our hero and the very hot alien fall in love, but the alien males get loose and cause havoc.  Many laughs are had by the viewer, partly because of some legitimately funny (and sometimes surprisingly dirty for what is ostensibly a kids’ movie) lines, and partly because of how fan-freakin’-tastic the aliens are.

I don’t want to spoil any more for you, because you need to do whatever is necessary to see this movie.  Actually, there is one more thing I should tell you:  Having finally seen the entire movie, it may well have the greatest ending in cinematic history.  See it.  Repeatedly.  We’re talking Super Inframan levels of amazing here.  You will not be disappointed.  In fact, just thinking about it makes me want to watch it again.

Oh, and those of you planning to attend Tween-Fest 2017:  My team of crack ninja spies tell me that you may be seeing it sooner than you think…  (Future Rev.:  The ninja spies were correct!)

That evening, we headed out to Jameson’s Charhouse for the traditional pre-fest dinner.  We were joined by Paul and Holly, as well as Julie and Tim, who usually join us for activities during the weekend.  Chad decided to get a sampler platter to share with the table, because he’s cool like that.  It provided chicken strips (good), potato skins (quite good), and calamari (so good someone else got an order of it for the table).  Seriously, it was ungreasy, tender, savory…everything you could want from squid bits. I think I’ll be ordering a round of it for the table next time, unless someone beats me to it.

I almost got the chopped steak, but ended up going with a porterhouse.  Unsurprisingly, it was perfectly deep pink and juicy and scrumptious.  Sadly, the entire meal was ruined because they didn’t have that divine tomato soup I loved.  Just kidding.  About it ruining the meal, not about them not having it.  They had a perfectly tasty chicken noodle, though.  They always seem to have broccoli as their side vegetable.  Good thing I like broccoli.

After that, we all parted ways.  Our gang returned to Ken’s and just kind of hung out.  We actually got ourselves to bed at a relatively decent hour, in preparation for the next couple of days.

Day Three:  In Which B-Fest Begins and I Have a Close Encounter of the Famous Kind

We arose the next morning, and after our ablutions the four of us had breakfast at L&L.  In a change of pace, I went for an omelet this time.  It was a flawless example of the dish, and even though there was ham in said omelet, I still got free ham on the side, because the people at L&L love us.  Even more than Jesus.*  Sorry, but I only ever got free wafers and grape juice from Jesus.  Welch’s is great and all, but it doesn’t begin to compare to griddle-seared ham.

[*Guest’s remarks are their personal opinions and do not represent the views of Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension, the proprietor’s of the L&L Snackshop or Jesus.]

We next made our shopping run for the fest.  The Tower had sadly been put down after going lame [Editor Ken: Like four times in a row], so we just had some coolers to fill this time.  Truly, it is the end of an era.  We carried our haul back to Ken’s to get everything packed up.  I found myself very happy to have my hooded sweatshirt with me, as the large pocket up front (which I referred to as my “junk pouch”) let me easily carry my phone and cord, a pair of super-comfy socks, and other sundries.  Must make a note to bring that piece of clothing in the future.

We stopped at Superdawg for our last meal.  I got the Superfish, because it had been a while since I’d had a fishwich of any sort.  It was a little hard to manage as it had two pieces of cod in it, but it hit the spot I was hoping it would, as did the strawberry malt.

It occurs to me I’ve never actually had their signature offering.  Maybe next time.

And off to B-Fest we went!

We hooked up with the rest of the gang, including Liz and Charles, Ian, and the super-adorable Sally, who I wish to have as a pocket familiar, to carry about with me so I may spread joy to all I meet.  As we were hauling our equipment to our chosen corner up front, I happened to see someone that looked familiar.  I did a double-take, and then I actually did an honest-to-Cthulhu triple-take.

Sure enough, that was indeed Jay and Josh from Red Letter Media standing there talking to some people!  Holy crap!  I had found out after the fact that some of them were at my first B-Fest in 2012, and was crestfallen.  Well, here was my chance at last!  I decided I should just say hello, and tell them how much I enjoy their work.  Maybe tell them they were absolutely brilliant.  I said that to Lewis Black when I met him years ago, and got a smile, a handshake, and a hearty “Thank you very much,” as a result.  And yes, I am inordinately proud of that, even though he surely doesn’t remember it.  Anyway, that was all I had to do.  Simple!

I promptly turned around and scurried away as a pack of butterflies invaded my stomach for no reason I can discern, saying not one word to them.

*insert sound of facepalm here*

I choked.  I cannot believe I did that.  I later saw where they were sitting, and decided to try again after the Fest, but they lit out before I could make the attempt.  I’m still bitter.

Apropos of nothing, Jay is even more handsome in person.  I didn’t know where else to put that, but it needs to be known.

So, feeling rather stupid, I rejoined the gang and prepared to lose myself in a bunch of movies.

Hercules in New York

Hercules gets lippy with Zeus and comes to New York.  Once there, he wrestles, lifts weights, tosses javelins, romances and breaks the heart of a sweet young lady, crosses the mob, runs around with Arnold Stang, and eventually heads back to Olympus, a bit wiser for his experience.  I hadn’t seen this before, so right off the bat that’s one off The List, albeit one rather far down on it.

I’m going to get some pedantry out of the way.  Since they went with the better-known (in America, at least) “Hercules,” it makes sense that we’ve got gods and goddesses with the Roman names:  Juno, Mercury, Pluto, Venus.  So why is his father named Zeus?  I mean, I can see going with Nemesis because who the hell has heard of Invidia, but while Zeus is a known name, so is Jupiter, considering we named the largest planet in our solar system after him.  So, what the hell?

Glad I got that out!

Anyway, it’s not very good.  It’s really just a bunch of vignettes of Herc doing whatever for pretty much the entire movie.  The comedy is mostly “komedy.”  There is a subplot about Stang’s character having trouble with the mob, which does give us an actual climactic battle.  If this were an actually good movie, there might have been tension, as Zeus has stripped Herc of his powers to teach him a lesson.  Instead, Herc gets them back just in time because Zeus isn’t about to let some puny mortals whack his kid.

Anyway, I’m being kind of hard on this part, which is probably the second-best part of the movie, what with Herc being joined by Atlas (without any word on who’s currently holding up the heavens) and Samson (at which point my pedantry meter exploded) to deliver some beatdowns.

I did like that we had the original version, so I got to hear Arnold’s actual line deliveries instead of that silly dubbing I’ve heard about.  It’s also probably about as good of a print as can be expected, although some poor night filming does make a couple of parts hard to see.

I do feel for the very pretty love interest in this.  She falls for Herc, they have some romance, and then once the mob thing kicks in she’s pretty much forgotten.  When Herc returns to Olympus, he doesn’t even say goodbye to her!  Yet he makes a point to talk to Stang through his radio (!) to bid farewell to him!  This might be why Zeus heads to Earth when no one is looking at the end.  He presumably plans to catch Herc’s bereft lady on the rebound and have sex with her whilst in the form of some animal or another.  I mean, this is Zeus we’re talking about.

Oh, so what was the best part?  The “bear” scene.  You can look up “Hercules in New York bear scene” to see it.  It is truly special.  Well, more like “special,” if you get my drift.  You know, like “wears a helmet” special?  “Needs a minder” special?

It’s completely and utterly retarded, is what I’m saying.

It’s odd; when I was later discussing what would be considered the roughest ride at the fest, two later entries came up, but this one did not.  It’s not good by any stretch, but it just kind of breezed in and out, leaving nary a mark of its passing.  It is pretty forgettable, honestly.

Maybe it’s the fact that the “bear” scene is just so glorious?  Some things man is just not meant to know.

The Magic Sword

George, with the help of a bunch of magic stuff – horse, sword, shield – and a group of convenient knights that were sitting around petrified in his basement ride off to rescue Helene, the woman George loves – despite never meeting her, and indeed only having spied on her in a scrying pool, which is not in any way creepy – from the evil wizard Rodak and his deadly Seven Curses.  His bumbling stepmother, a witch and the OCR for the movie, tries to help, but generally makes things worse.

This is one of those movies I probably love more than I should.  There’s not much story-wise; it’s fairly low-budget all around, with most of the “effects” being pretty tragic; the leads are drips; the other knights all have accents ranging from “atrocious” to “ethnic slur”; the curses are mostly lame and/or confusing; and it basically wraps up because the bad guy suddenly loses all competence and gets punked out like a bitch.

To be fair, maybe his dragon also being punked out like a bitch threw him.  I know it’d get to me.  I mean, that dragon is marvelous.  I am not kidding when I say that if I somehow got ahold of that thing I would build a warehouse just for it, and have sword fights with it and everything.  Might go easy on the fire, though.  Because it does shoot out real fire from its nostrils (not sure on the biology there).  It doesn’t move around, just kind of bobs its heads up and down, and really doesn’t do anything of note, but dammit it looks cool and I like it anyway.  So there.

Actually, a big part of my love is due to Basil Rathbone as Rodak.  Sometimes you can see in his eyes that he can’t believe he’s doing this and is wondering what happened to his life, but not once does he let it affect his acting, giving us a villain who is a joy to behold.  Whether debating George’s chances of success or yelling at people about how his curses are going to mess them up, he easily carries off every scene he’s in.

Admittedly, that doesn’t take much effort considering the rest of the cast, but I don’t wish to damn him with faint praise.  Of course, between his performance and the dragon, I imagine most people are rooting for him before long, skewing their sympathies.

Matters are not helped by George’s adoptive mother, Sybil, played by Estelle Winwood.  She does a fine job of playing a scatter-brained, incompetent witch, but the character is grating and quickly wears out her welcome.  It makes one long for more time spent with her Grand Chessmaster chimpanzee and the bald, in-synch-speaking twin henchmen she and George live with.

Oh, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Liam Sullivan.  As Sir Branton, George’s rival for Helene’s hand, he walks a fine line between entertainingly and annoyingly smarmy, and is smooth enough that you could see him stringing the others along regarding his true intentions for a while.  The couple of scenes he shares with Rathbone are among the best non-dragon ones, with them trying to outmaneuver each other.  Too bad for Sir Branton that evil wizards aren’t known for keeping their word, like knights are.

No one else really makes much impact.  Rodak’s shapeshifting henchwoman is entertaining in her couple of appearances, I suppose.  See, the problem here is how much more fun the bad guys are.  George, his goofy band of bad accent knights, and Helene are all fairly bland and it does sometimes become a chore when they’re the only ones onscreen.  Fortunately, those scenes never last too long.

Oh!  Also, Vampira has a cameo!  It’s cool to see her in color.

All in all, I think it’s worth at least one viewing, for Rathbone and the dragon if nothing else.  Just don’t expect too much, and you should be fine.


It’s The Most Dangerous Game if everyone in front of and behind the camera was a lot less talented.  That about sums things up.  Oh, I guess if you’re somehow unfamiliar with TMDG, I’ll fill you in.  A guy ends up on an island owned by a rich maniac who is really into hunting, to the point where the only thrill he gets anymore is by hunting other people.

In this version, it’s a group of 20-somethings that I think are supposed to be teenagers but are fooling no one, instead of just one guy.  None of them are interesting, except for the blonde who knows judo.  Why, yes, that does come in handy at some point!  How’d you guess?  The rich hunter is fairly entertaining, occasionally going all hammy, but it could just be in comparison to the rest of the stiffs that make up the cast.

Outside of a couple of moments of fun, this really doesn’t get going until two-thirds in.  Our “heroes” are so outmatched that they have to toss in a deus ex ypirétis, as it were, to rescue them.  Not even Judo Girl could save the day, although to be fair judo doesn’t work too well on bolts or bullets, so it makes sense.  I seem to recall in TMDG that the guy who ends up on the island was a soldier or something*, making him a believable challenge for the hunter.  These saps were not going to be credible on that front, even with Judo Girl, which sadly leaves us with not a lot of dramatic heft to the story.  Well, that and not caring a whit about most of them.

[*Literary Editor Ken: He was another big game hunter.]

I really don’t have much more to say about it.  It’s pretty meh.  Just watch the original, or read “The Hounds of Zaroff,” the inspiration for all of these movies.

Empire of the Ants

There was a brief moment where a vote was held as to whether or not to show this movie, because it was on a double-movie set with Jaws of Satan, which they decided to play the trailer for.  Turns out B-movie fans are quite amenable to the idea of a movie featuring Satan in the form of a beautiful yet terrifying king cobra.  However, the crowd decided to go with what was listed.

This is just as well, because EotA was sponsored by none other than Sally, and she was distressed by the idea of them not playing her choice.  Had they gone against her wishes, she might have wept, at which point our contingent would have rushed the stage and there would have been blood in the aisles because you don’t make pixies cry.  Why don’t you rip out a unicorn’s horn and use it to stab its mother in the heart while you’re at it, you goddamn monster?

I wouldn’t be surprised if Jaws of Satan shows up next year, though.

So, Empire of the Ants is about a group of people down in Florida who are looking into investing in a scam run by Joan Collins and Robert Lansing.  Everything goes to hell when mutated ants that fluctuate in size between slightly larger than people and rather larger than cars show up and start shrieking and tearing people apart.  The survivors end up being herded to a sugar refinery, where the true extent of the ants’ plan is revealed.  Then everything blows up real good, H.G. Wells’ corpse revolves so fast it catches fire, and cue credits.

Yes, we have another film by Bert I. Gordon, albeit one that’s even more of a chore to get through.  It makes me feel bad for the actors, who had to swim and tromp around the swamps of Florida only to have the movie be pretty terrible.  They give it their all, at least.  Most of the actors are decent, and they manage to kill the most annoying characters fairly early, so that’s a plus.

The movie’s in a pretty obvious three-act structure.  The first part is meeting the characters, and finding out that we don’t really give a rat’s ass about any of them.  They try to create tension with the “ant-cam,” but fail.  The next section is just people running away from the ants.  Only in the final part do we get some interesting, albeit insane, plot twists that are delightfully ludicrous.  (Since Ken has reviewed this, I can probably safely talk about it, but if you haven’t seen this or read his piece yet, skip to the next paragraph.)  I mean, the ant queen is somehow producing pheromones that can overwhelm people’s minds and make them willing servants to the ants!  That’s gold, baby!  Too bad we have to go through so much boring schlock to get there.

The big failing revolves around the ant scenes.  It takes a while to get the first ant attack, only to have it filmed in a way that makes it very hard to figure out what’s going on, or even watch if you’re easily nauseated.  The camera is tilted and moved about and shaken, ostensibly to help hide the obvious puppet-y nature of the ant props being thrust at the actors.  Then you get their obnoxious screeching over the whole thing, and regular cuts to “ant-cam” where we have that old “lots of hexagons showing the same thing” trick that’s been shorthand for how insects see the world for decades now.

Honestly, I’d have preferred them showing the puppets in all their hoary glory if it meant I didn’t have to be drunk to see the attacks clearly.  The superimposition effects really aren’t any better than they were in Beginning of the End; indeed, ants more than once crawl off into the “sky” or are clearly interacting with the glass pane in front of them.

Also, be aware that there’s no “no ants were harmed in the making of this film” credit; and if there was, it’d be a damn lie anyway.  The toxic waste looks like mercury, but I’m going to assume it’s silver latex paint since the former seems rather dangerous to play around with.  Either way, a few ants are shown slowly struggling in said goop.  Later, we get the black ants fighting what look like army ants, and there’s no way that didn’t result in dead insects.  I know I’ve seen much worse, but I’m still not going to just laugh off killing animals for a movie.

I’d say maybe see it once for the last third, but don’t expect much, and be prepared for a slow, dull trip to get there.

Eh, maybe just watch Them! again.

The Wizard of Speed and Time

You know the drill.  For the record:  forward; backward; forward whilst upside down.

Day Four:  In Which B-Fest Continues

Plan 9 From Outer Space

Again, you all know about this one.  I tried to nap here as many do, but it just wasn’t happening, so I enjoyed the movie and occasionally joined in with the chants.

Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon

I can’t really give a standard plot rundown here, because it’s kind of all over the place.  There’s a martial artist named Leroy Green.  He prefers to be called “Bruce Leroy.”  Because of Bruce Lee, you see.  I wouldn’t want you to miss that.

Anyway, he wants to hit a level of skill known as “The Last Dragon” (hey, I said the title!) where he can manifest “The Glow,” which is like going Super Saiyan with fewer lasers and less screaming. His master sends him on a quest to discover this level, which ends up being a big damn cheat that the master tries to cover up by giving that tired old “it was in you all along” speech to him.

There’s a rival martial artist who calls himself Sho’nuff, which gives us the goofiest “Who’s bad?” chant I’ve ever witnessed.  He really wants to fight the first guy and keeps showing up to challenge him.

There’s a video arcade mogul – which is not and never was a thing – WHO IS NAMED ARKADIAN.  He really wants his talentless girlfriend’s music video to be played on a popular music show, so much so that he’s willing to threaten and later kidnap the host of said show to make it happen.

It all comes to a head when Leroy, who’s fallen in lust with the TV show host – which is understandable, as she’s played by Vanity – goes to save her from Arkadian, who’s hired Sho’nuff to stop Leroy, so that all our plot threads can kinda-sorta be taken care of at last.  We find out Sho’nuff has The Glow, which is blood-red because he’s evil, and Leroy takes a beating that should have killed him about three times over before he manages to become The Last Dragon and make his own golden Glow to overcome his opponents and live happily ever after with Vanity.

Lots going on, with little rhyme or reason, as you can see.  At least it never slows down enough to get boring.  The fight scenes are all right, if kind of uninspired.  I’m probably just spoiled by those amazing bastards from Hong Kong and human video game character Tony Jaa, though.  Oh, and the guys that did The Raid:  Redemption.  The effects for “The Glow” are laughable, as you might imagine.  The acting is serviceable, although Arkadian and his girlfriend are cartoonishly evil and flat-out irritating, respectively.  I wasn’t expecting high-quality work on that end, so that isn’t such a big deal here.

I found out where the inspiration for a character on In Living Color came from.  Namely, Sho’nuff, the bad guy in this movie.  Although the original manages to be even funnier than the parody, because Julius J. Carry III is a hoot.  [Editor Ken: Lord Bowler!] Just like with Rodak, he ends up being more entertaining than the lead, although in this case the gulf isn’t so wide.

Anyway, this one’s worth a watch overall.  It’s a relatively-modern martial arts fairy tale that is pretty decent, with no really glaring bad spots to spoil the proceedings.  I don’t know that I’ll watch it too often, but I won’t be averse to seeing it again someday.

Battlefield Earth

Far in the future, humans are reduced to a primitive state by the invasion of the Psychlos, aliens who all work in a corporation and worry about profits and leverage and such.  One man will rise up to lead a revolution against their oppressors, mostly because said oppressors are dumbasses.  Which can be said of most everyone, really.  Including the people behind the camera who take this nonsense seriously.

Ahhhh, the movie so nice Jabootu had it reviewed twice.  Honestly, there’s very little I could add at this point that wasn’t touched upon in those two pieces.  John Travolta still manages to astound me with his performance every time I see this.  Actually, so does his wife’s brief appearance.  *shudder*  The goofy-ass rubber hands and giant lift boots making it hard for people to hold their ludicrously-designed laser guns or move above a lumbering stroll make me laugh with delight every time.

I still cringe when Travolta starts shooting the legs off cows, even though the one time we see this in action is so ludicrous I can’t take it too seriously.  Then I laugh again when he starts doing trick shots, because what even?  The plot holes and contrivances, the horrid writing and amazingly abominable dialogue (WHY IS NOTHING ELSE A “(fill in the blank)-ANIMAL” BUT HUMANS, OH SORRY “MAN-ANIMALS”), the bad effects…truly, there is not one thing here that remotely works as it’s supposed to, and much that is inadvertently hilarious.  There’s a reason it’s considered a classic in the realm of terrible cinema.  Go read those reviews and/or watch it again, and relive the horrifying hilarity for yourself.

Action Jackson

Carl Weathers is Jericho “Action” Jackson, a take-no-nonsense cop who lost it all when he took on a case involving a rich EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVIL businessman’s EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVIL son.  He won’t rest until he avenges himself, no matter what the commissioner says.  Many shoot-outs, fistfights, car chases, and explosions later, the bad guys are dead, Jackson is back to being a police lieutenant, and also gets the girl, who in this case is the bad guy’s mistress, played by…you guessed it…Vanity!  Also, because it’s an ’80s action movie, Robert Davi and Al Leong show up, to everyone’s delight.

Yes, we’ve seen this plot before, but it’s still fun thanks to Carl Weathers as Jackson and Craig T. Nelson as Dellaplane, the villain.  Along with all the mayhem, of course.  I do think it was silly for Dellaplane to be so EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVIL, though.  He really had it all:  money; power; Vanity as his mistress; and Sharon Stone as his wife.  And this is 1988 Vanity and Stone we’re talking about.  Yowza!  Ah, the hubris of man.

This one I started to kind of nod off during, but that really isn’t a knock on the movie; it was late and I was tired.  Anyway, it never lasted long because guns would be fired or things would blow up and I would be jolted awake again.

Really not much else I can say here.  You know what kind of movie this is, and whether or not you’ll enjoy it.  Weathers and Nelson make for a fun duo, and there’s enough action and humor to make this a rollicking good time.  I enjoyed it quite a bit; and unless you hate action movies, you probably will, as well.

Malibu Express

Umm…there’s a private investigator who’s looking into…I think it was some sort of corporate espionage involving computers?  Oh, and murder, too.  Cripes, I don’t really remember the plot.  Why?  Because this was brought to us by Andy Sidaris, a name you can trust.  To give you lots of topless women.  And very little else.

If you’ve seen an Andy Sidaris movie, it was probably Hard Ticket to Hawaii, which was the one with the cancer-infected killer cobra and the guy on the skateboard with the blow-up doll being exploded in midair with a rocket launcher.  I actually haven’t seen it, though I’ve seen that skateboard scene and about passed out, I was laughing so hard.

I hadn’t thought I’d seen this one, but little bits nudged at my mind.  Then, at one point a phone sex operator is talking to the PI on the phone and takes her top off as they speak, which suddenly snapped my memory back in place because even in a movie like this, that seemed a really unmotivated reason to get topless.  That should tell you something about this thing’s quality.

Yet, somehow this isn’t as dull and plodding as you might expect.  Sure, the plot is very thinly sketched, but odd little things keep happening to snag your interest.  Nothing nearly as bonkers as in Hard Ticket, or so I assume, but it’s enough.  There are quite a few nice-looking ladies who get mostly naked, including Sybil Danning.  Along with the normal reasons we’re pleased to see her, she’s also the only person in the movie who can remotely act, so we end up wishing Sidaris could have afforded more screen time for her.  The PI is pretty incompetent, but he’s also kind of a cheerful fellow that I don’t really mind tagging along with.

This may be one of those movies that I’m not being as hard on as I should be due to the horrific things I’ve watched over the years warping my ability to judge such things, but honestly it’s not Sidaris’ worst by a long shot.  You could do worse than this, believe me.  Of course, you could also do better.  At least, that seems a safe bet with Hard Ticket.

I really need to get around to that one.

Click here to read Part 2