Editorial Note: Jabootu is VERY excited to provide a new review by Joe Bannerman, B-Master emeritus, the founder and proprietor of Opposable Thumbs Film and the investor of the history Hasselhoff Scale. Give Joe some love, people. Maybe he’ll write more.
As our film begins, the camera pans over the ocean and a nondescript island, and the narrator explains that the exact location of “his” island wouldn’t mean very much to me. First of all, what a presumptuous prick. Who is he to assume the depths of my geographical interests? Island owner or not, this guy needs to be knocked off his high horse.
He complains that “his” island doesn’t have sandy beaches, but instead, steep cliffs and tropical jungles. So, he’s an ungrateful prick, too. He then acquiesces that it’s not a bad place to live, not that he has any choice. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen. As the title credits roll, we’re treated to wide shots of lush landscapes and steep cliffs, and our narrator wandering about aimlessly. The movie boasts performances by Robert Vaughn and Aldo Ray. Less than five minutes in, and I’m already uncomfortable.
The credits also promise a song by the Edgar Kelly band entitled “Livin’ on the Brink,” an admittedly less popular precursor to Aerosmith’s popular ditty “Livin’ on the Edge.” And on an unrelated note: Does anyone actually care that Steven Tyler left the band? Or better: Does anybody actually care about Aerosmith anymore? By all means, Mr. Tyler, take your multi-colored scarves and proceed to GFY.
We then cut to our narrator skinny dipping. He looks like Eddie Rabbit. A skinny-dipping Eddie Rabbit. Have I mentioned I don’t like where this is going? Our narrator observes that the jungle reminds him of Florida; specifically, cleaning seagulls in Sarasota. Great. A hippie. We enter a cave, and lo and behold, he has a lab set up. So, in summary, he’s a hippie scientist that looks like Eddie Rabbit. I’m beginning to wonder if our hero could possibly be more unlikeable.
The narrator picks up a couple rocks and discusses Polynesians that inhabited “his” island thousands of years ago. He wishes he knew more about archaeology, so he could determine a more exact date. He decides it probably wasn’t that long ago. This is deduced by holding the two nondescript rocks next to each other. Granted, the transfer isn’t that great on this DVD. Maybe there are some Roman numerals on those stones that I can’t make out. He reminisces about simpler times when technology consisted of simple pottery.
Eddie then finds a snake, and takes a moment to ponder what the snake might be thinking. Obviously, the snake is wondering if this damn hippie could hook him up with an autograph from Robert Vaughn. Our hero considers the fact that “they” thought snakes didn’t think, but the snake remains, and where are “they” now? (WOW!) I guess I’m to assume that the world has ended; only snakes and island-owning hippies remain. If such an event were to ever occur, I hope to die in the blast.
He allows the snake free reign about his lab (which consists of two dressers adorned with blinking lights and a desk reminiscent of a retarded WOPR) while he demonstrates the outcome of evolution (which, as it turns out, is the ability to press buttons). He discusses how countless volumes of formerly printed work can be recorded on “memory cubes” the size of a match head. Every piece of documented history is embedded on “crystals” in his library. It should be noted that said library consists of fifteen laser discs…or are those crystals? Memory cubes? Damned if I know.
He talks about how easy it is nowadays to access information, due to man’s technological prowess. Now, I’m pretty slow on the uptake, but I can’t decide if he’s actually in awe of man’s advancements or is being facetious. My gut tells me the latter. First off, he established what a condescending dick he is in the first ten seconds of the film. Second, it doesn’t take Scooby-Doo to figure out that the film probably has some semblance of the “they tampered in God’s domain” theme. It’s rare they don’t bludgeon the viewer over the head with that particular chestnut.
Ask and ye shall receive. Before I can finish my thought about Eddie Rabbit’s philosophical leanings, he immediately whips out some stock footage of war and mention how the archives have more footage of war than anything else. Subtle. Sadly, the footage of war on these “memory cubes” is of the crappy stock variety. Again, please let me die in the aforementioned blast. “Humanity is war. Try to find a time period when Man is at peace.” (WOW!) The stirring music swells as our hero, now visibly melancholy, watches more (stock) footage of war on his monitor. DO YOU GET IT YET?!
More and more stock footage. Our narrator shows disbelief that “they” thought war could cure the various ills of the world. THE FOOLS! (I added that last part.) I must admit, the only thing I like more than watching stock footage on my screen is watching stock footage on his screen on my screen. For a moment, I’m tempted to set up my camcorder and watch my TV screen through the camcorder screen while watching Eddie Rabbit’s screen in the movie. You know, for that elusive cinematic tripling effect. I quickly decide against it, however, for fear that my mind might be blown.
He discusses how technology aids war (while he sits in his lab full of complex computers, gizmos, and memory cubes). He talks about advancements in technology in WWI, and how they even upped the ante in WWII, and then, of course, we get to the atomic age. (YOU BLEW THE WHOLE THING UP! Will he go there? Let’s hold our breath and see.) We inexplicably jump to footage of “technology in the sixties,” which, roughly translated, means…Woodstock? Great. Stock footage of Woodstock. I’m already longing for the glory of WWII.
Using his highly advanced knobs and buttons, Eddie Rabbit adjusts the stock footage to ogle the breasts and buttocks of various hippies dancing at Woodstock. Or, in this case, fake Woodstock. Not only do I not recognize the band or song being played, but I’m having a hard time swallowing that they’re a real band at all. Fortunately (?) we cut to footage of Vietnam (surprise!). It’s easy to tell that the frivolity of Woodstock is gone, for our hero now resumes his somber war-stock-footage-watching countenance. He makes an ironic statement about how, despite the advanced technology utilized in Vietnam, only two million people died. (WOW!)
Suddenly, we return to WWII. He mentions how the advent of nuclear technology overshadowed the return of Nazism. HUH? Oh. This is actually 1986 – the “Great War;” the ultimate war of technology during which the Nazis returned. HUH? Well, at least the real movie is starting. Eddie Rabbit waxing philosophical on an island is just the bookend. We’re now TWENTY MINUTES into the film, folks. A truck arrives at a concentration camp full of women. Apparently, Hitler needs women. One gal tries to escape by walking at a semi-hurried pace towards the fence, but is nonchalantly gunned down by soldiers in a nearby tower. At least we finally get some action, I guess.
We cut to a bus full of businessmen and (I presume) tourists. It stops in the middle of the desert and the driver dons a gas mask, hits a switch under his seat, and knocks all the passengers out. Oops. Turns out it’s a bus full of dignitaries and world leaders, and instead of knocking them out, they killed them. Eddie Rabbit notes that such a small atrocity is easily overlooked. Really? You kill a gaggle of world leaders and it falls under the radar? It’s funny how nobody rushed the driver or attempted to exit. Instead they writhe about politely in their seats and claw feebly at the windows. On second thought, they are politicians. Heaven forbid they take any necessary action in a timely fashion. Ho! Ho! ZING!!
We’re now at a belly dancing club, with Robert Vaughn (Glen Manning) taking in all the sights. Damn! Eddie Rabbit has cameras everywhere! Glen invites a woman at a neighboring table over. She admits to having already entertained the idea, but didn’t want to appear too forward. Don’t worry about it, ma’am. Robert Vaughn gets that all the time. She mentions her attempt at belly dancing at a party, but ultimately, she couldn’t pull it off.
Glen suggests she could do with a little less bump, and a little more grind. I puke a little in my mouth. Glen suggests he give her a little lesson tonight. Belly dancing? She asks. No, Glen replies. Muscle control. I puke a little more. Sporting a shit-eating grin, Eddie Rabbit, apparently, approves of Glen’s oily come-ons. A waiter mentions that Major Lee and the other delegates have not yet arrived. (A World Summit at Hooter’s. Sure. Why not?) The lady asks when she’s going to get her lesson, and Glen excuses himself to attend to other matters. Robert Vaughn is such a tease.
Glen investigates the disappearance of the dignitaries, but is turned away when he attempts to enter a restricted area. He feigns returning to the hotel, but instead drives out to the bus where the atrocity took place. Apparently, any and all evidence of mass murder will be left out in the open, and restricted areas always have a back entrance that is accessible to the public. Eddie Rabbit notes that in the Great War, you couldn’t always be certain who the enemy was. It could be assumed that this is foreshadowing to a possible plot twist, but that would imply excitement, so I have my doubts.
Glen investigates the bus, and much to my surprise, they actually removed the corpses. He only finds a fancy cigarette. And when Glen is knocked out immediately thereafter, said cigarette is taken. Despite Eddie Rabbit’s omniscient presence, we are not made privy to the attacker’s identity. We cut to an office with horrific wood paneling, and Manning’s supervisor, Norris, is being chewed out by some guy with a big white beard (Keenan Wynn).
Manning is there, apparently no worse for wear, and is being blamed for the dignitaries’ disappearance. Sure. Why not? Major Lee is there, and claims the bus was only delayed due to a flat tire. Of course, that doesn’t explain the disappearances, but let’s indulge our suspension of disbelief, OK? White Beard, who, until further notice, I’ll assume is Norris’ boss, leaves with Major Lee and demands Manning be investigated. Apparently, Glen is some form of agent. (Future Joe: One source claims Glen is a member of the FBI, another claims he’s part of the UN. Whatever.)
Norris mentions a controversial incident five years ago when Glen took a Russian out of Yugoslavia (?), but that doesn’t compare with Manning entering a restricted area and looking around an empty bus. Um…sure. Why not? A mystery woman brings up the “Lucifer problem.” I thought she may be referring to Jack Chick, but in reality, three planes disappeared mysteriously off the coast of South America. So, while they consider firing Glen, they put him on a new assignment.
OK. We proceed to stock footage of jets, and some garbled communication between Air Control and Manning. Suddenly, Glen ejects and we cut to new stock footage of something crashing and blowing up. Let’s just say it was Manning’s jet. Considering he appeared to be in no danger or mechanical trouble before the plane exploded, Glen’s possible termination may be justified. The man is a moron.
Glen lands safely in the jungle, right in front of a security camera. He doffs his flight suit and leaves it on the ground in the open. Agent for I.D.I.O.T. Sure enough, it takes a patrolling guard exactly thirty seconds to come across Glen’s discarded duds. I commend Glen at his unabashed, nonchalant approach to gallivanting about the jungle while looking to steal his way into the heavily-guarded compound. So far, I’ve counted him walking directly in front of no less than two security cameras.
The guard turns the clothes over to his superior. I can hear the sound of crunching gravel under their boots, but nobody bothered to record any dialogue. Thanks, movie. The camp consists of natives carrying around telephone poles, a few Nazi guards watching said pole-carrying natives, and a few cabins. Obviously, this is a nefarious plot of an ingenious madman.
Glen watches as women are led out of a truck. He seems surprised when he sees a Nazi flag. How did he not notice this already? So far, amidst the murmured mumbling of the guards, I’ve only heard one distinct word: Arbeit, which is German for work. So, basically, the filmmakers took exactly seven seconds to look up one German word for their Nazi movie. Wow.
Soon, the Germans are on the lookout for our intrepid (insipid?) agent. They scour the countryside, hoping he left more clothes that may lead to his capture. Surprisingly, despite Glen’s casual promenade about the grounds, they soon catch up to him. These Nazis, man, they’re good. To make matters worse, Glen soon finds himself being chased by an alligator, too. I will say this: If said reptile is stock footage, it was blended seamlessly with the shitty film stock they used for the rest of the movie. Also, there’s some innocuous helicopter following by air. They don’t show the pilot, so I’ll just assume it’s another alligator. Are alligators indigenous to Germany?
We now enjoy a POV shot of Glen running. Notice they don’t actually show Robert Vaughn exerting effort. His paycheck probably didn’t cover sweat. Despite his valiant efforts at walking away at a moderate pace, Glen is soon captured. He awakens in a lab where he’s being treated by Loretta Lynn and Tony Clifton. Apparently, he’s in Pensacola, at a Naval Hospital. They give Glen the tour of the hospital, the highlight being one of the most technologically advanced laboratories in the world. Surprisingly, it consists of only two guys, a bookcase, and a few beakers. They really boiled it down to the nuts and bolts of science.
We then cut to Eddie Rabbit, still watching the proceedings from his remote lab (which, it should be noted, is not the most technologically advanced lab in the world). I almost forgot about him. He hits a few buttons and continues to observe. Thanks for the update, movie.
Back at the hospital, all is well. Glen is in bed, and Julia (from the agency) arrives to check on his well-being and get his report. Glen talks about the Nazis, but is soon interrupted by the doctor, who claims he’s delirious. Don’t tell me …he’s actually still in the Nazi camp!? (WOW!) The doctor explains that the Nazis are just a delusion from the time Glen was captured by Germans during WWII (a mission he failed miserably and can’t live down). Glen accepts this theory (or does he?!) and we cut immediately to Nazis reviewing the tape of Glen’s conversation. Turns out the serum they gave Manning to block his memory didn’t work. So it wasn’t a delusion!!
Mind = Blown!
And back to Eddie Rabbit. Being a perv, he’s still watching the women in prison. Despite only watching events on his monitor, he’s always messing with various levers and buttons. Is he adjusting the horizontal and vertical? Maybe a bit too much static on his video feed? Checking his mail? We may never know. In more exciting news, another girl tries to escape. As she’s being chased by the doctor and several orderlies that look like Tony Clifton, she finds herself in Glen’s room. Through their brilliant dialogue, Glen learns HE’S NOT IN PENSACOLA. As a matter of fact: HE’S STILL ON THE ISLAND.
Glen: What do you mean about the Nazis?
Her: That’s what they are?
Glen: You mean, like the Swastikas…?
Her: They got the uniforms and everything!
They arrest the girl, and Glen goes along with the assertion that she’s crazy. Of course, Glen is crazy too. Crazy like a fox! As soon as the doctor leaves, Glen starts to investigate the facility. It takes him exactly seven seconds to find (and infiltrate) the secret lab downstairs. Manning discovers they’re cloning ugly babies, using the female prisoners as incubators. This saddens Eddie Rabbit.
Glen also discovers bodies in some form of stasis. Being a hardened world-weary secret agent, Glen is rather nonchalant about all of this. Or Robert Vaughn simply refuses to act. One or the other. Manning discovers heads of government, as well as people from his agency, are being cloned. He finds a kidnapped colleague, April Adams. Glen revives her, and together they take flight. Sadly, just as they enter an elevator and it looks like they will, in fact, elude the Nazis, the door opens and they’re in a cell. That’s right. The Nazis have elevators that transport you directly into a cell.
We are introduced to Oberfuehrer Gerhard Frog, who conveniently explains the Nazi’s experiments and intentions. Fourth Reich. Take over the world. Clone a new army. Blah, blah, blah. Down in the prison, April tells all the other prisoners about what a swell guy Glen is, and how she’s convinced he’s really going to help. (These poor slobs are absolutely starved for a hero.) Sine truth serum doesn’t work on bionic agent Glen Manning, the Nazis are forced to torture April for information.
To be completely honest, I have no idea what they can possible derive from these two imbeciles, but whatever. Oh, it appears Glen had a meeting with Chin Lee (?), and he has information the Nazis need. Um…I still have no idea what in the blue hell they’re talking about. On a side note, I learned that prisoners are generally lethargic when watching gruesome torture. They’re so hardened and world-weary that the ungodly act doesn’t even cause them to blink. Or, like Robert Vaughn, they simply refuse to act.
Since the Oberfuehrer can’t obtain any information, they send Manning to Dr. Vogel. Once there, Glen and the doctor sit in his office and indulge in idle chit-chat. (These Nazis are monsters.) Vogel insinuates that Hitler is alive and well. Glen feigns interest, but it’s all a ruse, as he deftly Shatners the doctor across the back of the head, knocking him out cold. The Nazis arrive with April, only to fall into Glen’s trap – and by “trap,” I mean Glen hides behind a curtain, jumps out, and throws some pamphlets in their general direction. But it works, and Manning and April attempt to escape the camp.
Meanwhile, back in the barracks, the women prisoners overtake their captors and are threatening to escape as well. The sheer brutality of this sequence was jaw-dropping. They way they mercilessly beat down the guards with a series of poorly choreographed kicks and punches, while other prisoner observed apathetically, was almost too hard to watch. Fortunately, the Nazis, like everyone else in this film, are complete morons and the female prisoners find easy access to a nearby arsenal of automatic weapons. Meanwhile, April takes Glen to a nearby tank. The battle is ON!
(Battle highlight: The Germans station a guard behind several barrels of petrol, then advise him to not draw any fire, because if the tanks go up, he’ll be burned into cinders. This begs the question: WHY DID YOU PUT HIM THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE? IT’S A FIREFIGHT!)
Though the untrained female prisoners appear to have the battle well in hand against the highly-trained German soldiers, once Glen brings his tank into the equation, it’s all but over for the Fourth Reich. After the Nazi’s asses are thoroughly kicked, we’re then treated to shots of burning carnage with melancholy pan flute in the background. War truly is Hell. Thanks, Zamfir!
They take the Oberfuehrer hostage, and he leads them to the camp HQ. Once there, they finally meet….you guessed it, Ray Stevens. No wait, it’s Hitler. He informs them that, though they won the battle, they lost the war. (On a side note: I’ve heard many dialects of German, and none of them sound like this. This man may be incontinent, but he’s definitely not German.) Hitler berates the Oberfuehrer for his incompetence, and proceeds to have him obliterated by a laser from the eye of a nearby eagle statue (!).
Manning tries to shoot Hitler, but the bullets pass through him. Hitler, of course, laughs at Manning’s feeble assassination attempt, then introduces the most diabolical part of his plan – a clone of the super idiot himself, Glen Manning. The two tussle in a furious flurry of khaki pant suits. One ends up getting electrocuted (honestly, I have no idea how or why), and we’re left wondering if the real Manning survived or not. That is, until he boldly proclaims “I’m the real one!” and Laser Eagle destroys the clone.
Manning and April duck behind a curtain and shoot the real Hitler, but lo and behold, he isn’t the mastermind after all – it’s White Beard! Well, at least that explains why he was so hell-bent on getting Glen fired. If you’re a criminal mastermind, you definitely want the greatest secret agent in the world off your case. Or, in this instance, the most incompetent jackass on the planet. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. White Beard opens the “seagates” and runs off.
We are treated to stock footage of a waterfall and rapids, which I’ll assume is a natural disaster. Why not? Eddie Rabbit continues watching, uselessly. Glen and April give chase. Surprisingly, they don’t catch up to him immediately. I am convinced Keenan Wynn has a bum hip. The poor guy can hardly move. Not much sport, really. Finally, Glen kicks in a door and somehow kills White Beard in the process. He tells April they need to get off the island before it goes. Explosion? Flood? Your guess is as good as mine. Eddie Rabbit tells us that the destruction of the island was only the beginning. Shut up, hippie.
Back to Glen’s mysterious place of employment. Apparently, White Beard (or his clone) is very much alive. He reports the island has been destroyed, but it is their duty as humans to carry on. (What is the significance of this stupid island?) Meanwhile, Eddie Rabbit talks about technology getting out of hand, and our passing the point of no return. He talks about the world being overrun by clones – exact human duplicates, but without humanity. (Ok, then not exactly exact, right? Jackass.) It’s all here, he claims. The rise and fall of mankind. Maybe, someday, in eleventy billion years, some explorers from outer space will discover his time capsule. But he doesn’t have time to wait. He has his island to explore. We then cut to him traipsing about the jungle again. Freeze frame. Roll credits.
I have been invited on numerous occasions to watch something described as “the worst movie…ever!” After the screening, however, it turned out the film was just run-of-the-mill bad/stupid and/or incompetently made. When my pal Jesse invited me over to watch The Lucifer Complex, I had my reservations. Jesse knows movies, but really, how bad could this possibly be? Well, it turned out to be pretty freakin’ bad. The story doesn’t make sense, the picture is grainy, the sound is nearly inaudible, they don’t bother naming key characters, and the hero is Robert Vaughn. The Lucifer Complex is one of those gems you inflict on fellow bad movie mavens just to watch them squirm. I mean, it’s not The Star Wars Holiday Special, but it’ll do in a pinch.
So, hats off to Jesse. In the ever-expanding sewer of schlock cinema, you, my friend, found an extraordinary turd.
— Joe Bannerman