Tycus (2000)

Tycus poses little threat to Isn’t She Great‘s title as the worst film of 2000. Even so, it has its (de)merits. First there’s that incomprehensible title. Occasionally a film appears with a title so weirdly non-descriptive that it seems like they’re trying to keep people from watching it. (Some even sport titles that are actively confusing, like the giant insect flick Blue Monkey.) Tycus involves a comet that threatens Earth. Not something readily to be gleaned from its name.

More to the point, the film catapults a new character into the Designated Heroâ„¢ Hall of Fame. Here we not only get a prime example of this trope, but its very realization. The film’s ‘hero,’ Jake, has but one vaguely heroic moment. The rest of the time he’s a brooding jerk who responds with surly self-pity to most every sentence spoken to him. Then he becomes the spokesman for a moronic ‘moral’ position, a cause not aided by his total hypocrisy towards his own arguments. Indeed, the film’s pretensions to being a Gene Roddenberry-esque Moral Fable Disguised as a Sci-Fi Tale lies at its rotten heart. To the meager extent they succeed at their task, Tycus remains more Earth II than Star Trek.


Our Hero in an all-too-typical pose.



We open on bucolic forestry identified as the “Sierra Mountain Range / 2029 A.D.” Wholesome young adults are sitting on the grass and being read to from a pseudo-religious sort of text. The litany describes “the world before,” one covered with highways and buildings. With a shock, we realize that the world described is, in fact, our own. (Wow!) We are told of a “lone scientist who discovered a tiny speck in the night sky.” Setting up a cool, we-learned-so-much-in-film-school segue, a listener asks, “What happened then?” The woman reading to them looks forlornly up, and…

Cut to noisy f/x inserts nakedly stolen from other, more expensive pictures. These showcase meteorites crashing into various cities, ala Armageddon. I myself recognized at least one shot taken from Jabootu subject Dante’s Peak, albeit with a cheesy CGI meteorite added. Others, I’m guessing, come from various Made-for-TV killer asteroid movies. This kind of thing is pretty extraordinary in this day and age. Seldom since the heyday of Roger Corman has a movie so patently cheap wrapped itself in such fragrantly borrowed sequences. Just to make this all the more laughable (and obvious), the film’s own *ahem* original and quite cartoony CGI inserts are mixed in with these multi-million dollar effect shots.

Cut to an SUV driving through a forest, intercut with overhead helicopter shots taken from another movie. Out of the truck jumps Dr. Crawford (Dennis Hopper!!!) and two of his associates. Crawford looks out at this remote plot of land and says it will do. They plant a metal pole to mark the spot. Then we cut to an Army Base somewhere. This is identified as “Western Supply Garrison 1994 A.D.” I especially like the ‘A.D.’, since the jeep driving through the shot sort of gives away that it’s not, in fact, 1994 B.C. This specificity also contracts nicely with the rather more hazy designation of ‘Western Supply Garrison’.

Out from the jeep emerge army guys Jake and his nebbishy sidekick Stan. (The latter is played by Chick Verrara, lately seen here as a cast member of The Final Voyage.) They are here to spy on possibly criminal hijinx being perpetrated by members of their own government. This undoubtedly explains why they drove up and parked the jeep right in front of the warehouse where said activities are about to occur. And then stand around awhile, completely out in the open, getting their cameras ready. As we shall soon learn, they are members of the (supposedly) highly respected Combat Photo unit.

They infiltrate the warehouse, a task which proves predictably easy. There they begin snapping pictures of a crate handily emblazoned with a stencil reading “Archangel” and a sticker reading “LAST DANCE.” The box is wheeled over to some Army officers and the two fellows who were with Crawford. Conveniently, they ask for the crate to be opened. (That way, you see, both we and the heroes can see what’s inside it.) Our MacGuffin, in case you care, is a nuclear warhead. Jake and Stan continue to snap away.

Right on cue, clumsy sidekick Stan makes a noise and draws attention. Because, you know, that’s the sort of thing clumsy sidekicks do. This gives Jake the opportunity to bust some extremely low-grade martial art moves. Despite these desultory antics, however, they quickly get captured. Stan, in fact, disappears completely; Jake only finds his ID lying on the floor. Unfortunately, Our Hero proves as inept in the quip department than as a fighter. Asked for his camera, he refuses, japing, “It’s a rental. I’ll lose my deposit.” I doubt James Bond will be cribbing that line anytime soon.

Cut to 1999. A.D., in case you were wondering. Stock footage takes us to the *cough* Daily Globe building in Los Angeles. Jake is brooding – get used to it – in his cubicle. A co-worker appears carrying both a can of Pepsi and of Canada Dry Ginger Ale. It’s a Product Placement Two-Fer! The Globe turns out to be a National Inquirer sort of thing. Jake expositories how his job isn’t going so well. Meanwhile, I can only wonder what the hell we’re supposed to think happened after he was captured. He sees Army personnel handing off a nuclear warhead to civilians. After this his partner disappears. Presumably they got Jake to agree to keep quiet. But how? Besides, if the warhead transfer was a rogue operation, why didn’t they just kill him? And if it was sanctioned by the typical Shadowy Gov’ment Forces, why didn’t they bury him in a military prison somewhere?

Jake is called in to speak with Shyler, his boss. They discuss the falloff in his work the last few months. Shyler tries to be supportive, triggering our first episode of Jake reacting with self-absorbed hostility to those attempting to help him. I really can’t recall a lead character more filled with self-pity. This, unsurprisingly, makes him less than sympathetic as a protagonist. I imagine the filmmakers intended Jake to be more than just a ‘cartoon’ hero. Still, there’s a difference between a nuanced, three-dimensional character and an unpleasant jerk. Anyway, unable to take even well meant criticism, Jake quits his job and walks.

Cut to Jake’s house. His wife Amy is reading a letter informing her that she’s preggers. Hearing her husband, she worriedly hides this correspondence. When Jake enters she mentions that her uncle has a job opening. He replies that he’s just quit, and she’s pleased. Jake, however, doesn’t want any stinkin’ sales job with her uncle. Amy accepts this, but asks what he intends to do. Which seems rather a fair question, under the circumstances. Jake, of course, reacts in a Jake-o-centric fashion. “I just said I quit my job,” he mewls. “I don’t need another reality speech.” No, I’d say you need a good, swift kick in the ass. Anyway, in case I’m not communicating this well, what we have here is a Portrait of a Troubled Marriage.

That night Jake gets a call from Stan, who’s been missing all these years. Jake apparently thought him dead, making his silence on Stan’s disappearance all the more repulsive. Stan gives him some latitude and longitude figures and tells him a stranger will contact him.

The next morning, Our Hero (what an ass!) plays a visit to Shyler. You know, the guy that Jake told to screw off the day before. Jake wants funds to pursue the story that Stan is feeding him. Shyler wearily reacts to what is apparently the latest in a series of government conspiracy stories that Jake’s followed over the years. Still, the plot must move forward, no matter how sluggishly, and so Jake gets his money.

Now, I don’t want to beat a dead horse. But, again, what were the conditions under which Jake was released after the events in the warehouse? Would they really leave him free to continuously write about government conspiracies? If the screenplay were wittier, they’d imply that Jake is kept working at the cheesy tabloid Globe in order to keep people from taking what he has to say seriously. But nothing like this is hinted at.

We cut to a typically goofy ‘hi-tech’ monitoring room, Christmas-lighted panels and all. Jump-suited flunkies of the Amtorg Corp. are expositorying about an increase in seismic events. Here Tycus is finally introduced. It’s the obligatory Giant Comet that’s due to crash into Earth in the near future. It’s also, we quickly learn, a very bad special effect. Instead of being pictured as a prosaic hunk of rock, we’re shown a blue plasma ball giving off waves of energy. Yep, that’s a comet, alright.


The CGI effect that threatens the Earth!



Back to the house. Jake is packing whilst ignoring Amy’s seemingly valid complaints about his just taking off. Then the doorbell rings. Answering it, Jake finds a well-dressed young man. “Who the hell are you?” he asks. (Did I mention that Jake’s a big jerk?) Despite this, the fellow introduces himself as ‘a friend.’ This marks him as the guy Stan mentioned on the phone. Friend gives Jake some fake ID and, get this, a “thumbprint overlay.” Oh, bru-ther. Yeah, whoa, Mission Impossible, watch out. His new identity is Fred Johnson, and he’s given the obligatory vague directions meant to pique the interest of the audience. Fat chance, says I.

Jake ends up at the trailer home-slash-airfield of ‘Commander’ Scott, our staple Beer Guzzling Vietnam Vet Crazyman Pilot. In a more expensive movie this fellow might be portrayed by Randy Quaid or John Goodman or Brian Dennehy. Here he’s the guy who played Harry the hardware store owner on TV’s Home Improvement. They make a point of having the Wild Man Pilot impressed by Jake’s background. “Combat Camera? You guys are nuts!” he notes approvingly. Again, I’m not saying this isn’t true. I sure wouldn’t want the job. Still, it’s hard to push photographers, even combat ones, like they were Green Berets or something.

Jake, or a stock footage facsimile thereof, eventually leaps from the plane. In the middle of the woods he comes across an Amtorg guy. Luckily, this fellow is loading boxes on the flatbed of his truck (?!), including (bum bum bum) a big crate marked EXPLOSIVES. Hmm, things are really going Jake’s way. Our Hero flashes his fake ID, which marks him as a member of C-22. This, I guess, is Amtorg’s Super Secret Security division. They jump into the truck and head for a secret complex, drilled deep into a mountain.

Turned away at the main gate, they head instead to a nearby warehouse. For some reason, this short drive is accompanied by blaring action music. There they start to unload the crate marked EXPLOSIVES. They drop this (!!), only instead of blowing up it falls open and books spill out. A less than artful insert shot reveals that two of the books are Shakespeare’s Sonnets and, I quote, Tale of Two Cities. (I think there should be an ‘A’ there somewhere). Wow, the mystery thickens, eh? Eh?

Jake meanders around this high security set-up, walking past numerous personnel. All whilst wearing army fatigues, yet, and with a large backpack in hand. This in a place where everyone else is clad in a matching jumpsuit. Finally a guy notices him and calls it in. “Bogey in the warehouse,” he reports. (I wish!!) Jake, proving a natural undercover operative, tells his interrogators that he’s a hiker gone astray. Which is a pretty weak story, one would think, given that he’s already relieved of his fake laminated pass to the complex. (!!) Realizing that the jig is up (duh!), Jake again displays his sparkling wit. Asked where he got the pass, he snottily replies “Ten cereal box tops. It comes with a decoder ring.” Hoo, boy, Mark Twain had nothing on you, my man.

Anyway, they learn who he is when a quick frisk turns up his driver’s license. (!!) He is then sent off with a worker who’s to drive Jake off of their property. How villainous! During the trip, Jake suddenly attacks the guy – while the dude’s still driving the truck! – and they engage in a lame little tussle. The worker is knocked from the vehicle and Jake runs back and further beats on the guy. Considering that Jake is a reporter, and one for the Globe, at that, one wonders how he would explain these activities to the authorities. They don’t exactly fall under the rubric of the First Amendment.

We cut to Dante’s Peak. Well, bits of it, anyway, *cough* seamlessly integrated into our current film. Then it’s back to the base. Jake, wearing the guard’s uniform — what a nice fit! – drives back to the main gate. (So, did Jake kill that guy or what? He’s never mentioned again.) In a rather unconvincing bit, he talks his way past the guard. In this he’s aided by the fact that they don’t use photo IDs. (!) Blofeld would drop these people into a piranha tank in a heartbeat.

The truck heads down a tunnel, deep into the mountain. Eventually he approaches some large steel doors, which are pulled back to allow him entry into a largish complex. (Is there some reason they use people to open and close these? I mean, you don’t even open garage doors like this anymore.) The floor is jumping with extras, er, crew people, all doing, uh, stuff. Now, wouldn’t you think that trucks and such would be scheduled to arrive at certain times? Or that a password system would be used before the doors were opened? Or that the guard who let the truck in would have radioed someone about it? Or that, at minimum, the truck would be met by some admin guy who would check off its arrival or something?

None of this is thought out, though. And Jake again wanders aimlessly around looking at stuff without garnering anyone’s attention. Meanwhile, we cut up to Crawford’s office. His head security guy, Menkees (!), informs him that everyone’s “designated survivors” have been checked in. Except, that is, for Crawford’s own wife and daughter. In a bit that has IITS written all over it, Crawford has decided to allow his loved ones to experience normal life until the last possible minute. This, need I point out, seems pretty hazardous, and reeks of being a plot device. Which, inevitably, is exactly what it turns out to be.

Back to Jake, predictably ambling through some back tunnels without drawing any attention. (Earlier he was caught in the aboveground warehouse. Now he’s actually down in the complex. Wouldn’t security be tighter here?) He sees a woman crying in a little cell-like room and offers her his help. Instead she screams for a guard. So…what? Was she in a cell? Was that bare little room with a cot her quarters? If so, where does she keep her clothes? And more to the point, why does the door to the chamber sport a grilled window? Doesn’t she ever, I don’t know, undress in there? And if this area is crew quarters, why isn’t anyone else around? And if it’s a brig, how come it’s not being patrolled? Damn, this thing’s sloppy.

Jake runs around a corner and is immediately on the floor of a hydroelectric plant or something. Such establishments are often used in these things to represent underground bases or spaceships or whatever. (See Space Mutiny or Robot Holocaust for other examples.) An armed guard, alerted by the woman’s yells, approaches him. Needless to say, Ken’s Rule of Guns is quickly violated and the guy is taken out via another lackadaisical action sequence. Unfortunately, they do that lame gag where the guy makes a lot of ‘comically’ overdone kung fu noises. And, why yes, the actor playing the guard is Asian. Jake distracts him with the old “Uh, oh, behind you” trick (oh, bru-ther!) before knocking him out. In a moronic and vaguely offensive bit, Jake quips to the unconscious fellow “You’ve got to start watching American movies, pal!” Because, you know, if he’s Asian looking he quite obviously can’t be American. I mean, sure, he’s working in an American installation, but still…

Nearby, Crawford and Menkees (snort) are preparing interrogate a worker named Munson. There’s a mention of ‘limited space’ in the installation, another clue as to its real purpose. (Which you’ve undoubtedly figured out already.) Munson, we learn, is a member of some vaguely described resistance movement. As they converse, a syringe is being readied with some sort of drug. Before it can administered, however, Munson breaks loose, grabs the hypodermic and shoves the needle up through the bottom of his jaw. (?) After depressing the plunger he pretty much immediately dies.

Jake witnesses all this through another convenient grilled window. (Shouldn’t there be a general security call out by now? And what did he do with that last guy he knocked out? He’s never referred to again, so did Jake just leave him somewhere to rot?) Then, just in case he hasn’t looked stupid enough up to now, he draws attention by dropping his gun to the floor. (!) However, they all just look a bit around before shrugging it off. I don’t know who’s lamer, Jake or the guys running this place.

Jake continues to walk around, and hey, why not, no one’s stopping him. He finds a panel with a circle on it and somehow knows that this is where he’s to place that ‘thumbprint overlay’ he was provided with. By now I was past annoyance at these small stupidities and at that “Whatever, just get moving” stage.

He finds himself in a storeroom. One in which everything is just jumbled about – again, why isn’t this place run better? He then hears others approaching and hides. Two guys enter and move some stuff aside, revealing a hole in the wall. Jake follows, proving that the Rebel guys are as inept as everyone else. He watches them as they eat their brownbag lunches (!) and spout various expository dialog. Then, in one of those moments that’s pretty funny if you think about it, a man speaks up and draws their attention. From, and here’s the humorous thing, about ten feet away and in the same room. Could you really enter a room and yak away for two or three minutes while not noticing somebody standing that close by? Anyway, this sets up a purportedly big *Gasp!* moment, for the guy turns out to be Menkees. That’s right, the head of Crawford’s security team is the leader of the rebels. Blows your mind, doesn’t it?

The three guys leave, after which Jake uses their pirate phone set-up to call Amy. This is meant to be heartrending stuff. Or so I am forced to deduce from the aggressively schmaltzy music they bludgeon us over the head with here. Jake apologizes – which seems to fall into the ‘too little, too late’ department — and Amy spills the beans on the pregnancy. He softly says I love you, a tear rolls down her face, etc. Oh, and she mentions the odd series of disasters. Then one of the workers returns and Jake hides again.

Jake ends up continuing his walking tour of the complex. (Hasn’t anyone noticed that missing security guy yet? Or the guy that was driving Jake off their property?) Soon enough he ends up in a room containing a great big missile. (!) Yep, they’s got some top-flight security here. Said room is sort of odd. There’s the missile, nestled in some scaffolding, and a single small equipment board in the foreground. This basically consists of a radar-type screen, a digital readout and some buttons. I guess this is what they’ll use to fire the rocket. Let’s just say that is doesn’t look much like the massive control rooms NASA uses when they launch something.

In the equipment board are two launch keys, left utterly unguarded. Figuring that a missile implies some nefarious purpose, Jake runs in and grabs one. An alarm sounds – An alarm! What a good idea! — and Jake finally gets chased by some guys. He runs and secretes himself in the hidey-hole. Inside he finds one of the guys who was there earlier. Having rather typically misread the situation, Jake proudly announces that he’s stopped the launch. (Because, I guess, there are no spare keys. I know these are restricted for security purposes, but then shouldn’t they have been watched over after they were left in the control board?) The guy freaks and jumps Jake. Our, eh, Protagonist subdues him, grabs his sidearm and splits.

Guards continue to chase Jake around. In a strange tactic, they all run with their pistols in hand and pointed up at the ceiling. It apparently never occurs to them to actually aim or fire them. Meanwhile, Menkees is explaining things to Crawford, who’s a tad perturbed. Then Stan enters, offering that he knows the guy who took the key. Thing go on in this vein for a while. Then back to Jake. Guys have finally started shooting at him, but naturally they are tremendously bad shots. Jake, for his part, does manage to tag a guy or two. Which, I suppose, pretty much makes him a murderer at this point. (By the way, we don’t follow the whole firefight, but I counted Jake firing his stolen weapon – meaning he has no spare ammo – at least twenty to twenty-five times before his gun is empty.)

Yada yada. Eventually Jake is surrounded, albeit while holding the key over a vat of water. This is a big deal because there’s only a few minutes of the launch window left. See? See how exciting this is? Anyway, Stan runs in and convinces Jake to turn over the key. If you guessed that they manage to fire the rocket with about two seconds to spare, well, congratulations.

As in Meteor, the missile flies through space to intercept a body heading towards Earth. Here, though, we have a pretty good idea it won’t work. Because, you know, we’re only halfway through the movie. If Tycus is destroyed, there goes their big plot device. Anyway, up to this point the film’s been structured so that we haven’t really known what was going on. Now it’s time to get everything out in the open so we can appreciate how sly the filmmakers have been. Which, unfortunately, isn’t nearly as sly as they thought they were being.

Jake gets tossed into Stan’s quarters, where his old partner fulfills his exposition duties. Stan explains that a comet named Tycus is heading towards Earth. Or, actually, the moon, which it will hit and destroy. This event, unsurprisingly, will have some major ramifications on our planet. (Although they don’t mention the shrapnel, which I’d think would be bigger problem than the gravitational troubles.) Crawford figured this out ten years ago but was laughed at, so he began to take precautions. One was to obtain a missile in the hopes of destroying Tycus. The other was a fallback in case this failed. He built the underground complex, where some remnant of humanity could live out the decades until the Earth stabilized.

The project was looking for a journalist to document all this for posterity when they caught Stan in the warehouse. They offered him the job and he took it. (I’m pretty sure I know why they didn’t ask Jake!) Stan reveals that he gave Jake the means to infiltrate the installation, so that he could hang out with them and be saved. Jake reacts — get ready for a big surprise — by getting angry and striking Stan. “I got a wife, and a baby,” he snarls. Yeah, about time he noticed that. Stan, who frankly doesn’t come off as overly bright, seems surprised at this idea.

Hmm, on the other hand, I’ve known Jake for less than an hour, and I can’t believe he found a woman to marry him either.

Because It’s In The Script (take my word for it, there’s no other reason), Jake is later escorted to the master control room to be there as the missile approaches Tycus. Like I said, we’ve still got over half an hour of film left, so three guesses things turns out. In perhaps his very jerkiest moment, which is saying something, Jake accuses Stan of hoping for a miss so that he can “record the new age.” Yeah, I can see why Stan risked everything, including the fate of mankind itself, as it turned out, to sneak Jake in. Anyway, the CGI missile detonates, but without destroying or deflecting the CGI blue glowing ball that represents Tycus.

Crawford finally gives Menkees the go ahead to send for his wife and daughter. This, mind you, with less than ten hours until Tycus hits the moon!! Talk about cutting it close. Menkees, meanwhile, orders Jake tossed outside. Stan tries to convince him otherwise (“He can be valuable to us!” he shouts, certainly one of the more implausible arguments I’ve heard), but no go. And who can blame him? Would you want to spend thirty years living in close quarters with a complete jag-off like Jake? I sure wouldn’t.

It’s here that Jake starts his truly moronic ‘moral’ argument. “You’re going to burn in Hell, Crawford,” he shouts. Apparently because he’s known about this for years and…uh, something. I mean, they’ve already established that Crawford did everything he could to convince others of what’s going on. Anyway, we’ll return to this in more, well, ‘depth’ isn’t the right word…width, I guess, later on.

Speaking of It’s In The Script, Crawford gets on an elevator with Stan, Jake and the one (!) guard. This with the guy who’s (at least) assaulted a number of his men, stolen the missile launch key, and then promised him he’d burn in Hell. Myself, I’d probably wait for the next car.

This provides Jake with another opportunity to harangue Crawford. “How can you sleep at night knowing all those women and children will be lost?” To which I can only say, huh? What exactly could Crawford do that he hasn’t done? Crawford’s response that “I didn’t send Tycus,” really seems to more or less end the issue. Not that it even had to be said, being rather self-evident. Even so, this ‘issue’ will be pursued at great length, on and off throughout the rest of the film.

When Crawford notes that he can’t save every life, Jake answers snidely, “Just the ones you choose.” Again, yeah, so? Unless Crawford was in a position to hold a worldwide lottery, which he wasn’t, then by the nature of the beast he of course has to ‘choose’ the survivors. What else could he do? And actually, it sounds like the survivors will largely be made up of those who funded the project and those who were able to work to make it a reality. Again, I’m not sure if it would be humanly possible to be more ‘fair’ under the circumstances. What’s the alternative, saving no one and letting the race become extinct?

Crawford gets off the elevator without incident. To our complete lack of surprise, however, when the car reaches ground level Jake jumps the guard. Boy, pretty lucky they only sent one guy up with him, eh? Jake grabs the guy’s gun and leaves him outside. “Now there’s one more spot,” he tells Stan. Stan, however, finally berates his old pal by pointing out that the guy he’s tossing out to die is a person too. He might also want to mention that this sort of conflicts with Jake’s supposed problems with people choosing who will live and who will die.

So they take the trussed guard with them in elevator, heading back down. Jake’s plan, apparently, is to kidnap Crawford and make him send for Amy…or something. Again, considering Jake’s moral indignation at Crawford’s entire project, this seems a little bit odd, or at least hypocritical. Jake then threatens to kill the guard unless he gives up the code needed to access Crawford’s apartment. He’s getting more sympathetic all the time, isn’t he?

Cut back to Jake’s house. Amy walks outside, where Tycus can now be seen in the sky. Which means that we went from Tycus being invisible to every scientific instrument in the world (except for Crawford’s) to it being perceptible to the naked eye in a matter of hours. And that’s being generous. Anyway, in a plot maneuver so immensely awkward that I can’t even think of an analogy, a newscast suddenly reports a rumor of “an underground shelter.” Where this newsbyte came from is left unexplained. I mean, I can’t think of anyone who’d profit from word of the complex leaking out hours before Tycus hits.

More to the point, why are they even mentioning this on the news? Think about it. A comet has (to say the least) suddenly appeared in the heavens and is threatening to destroy the Earth in a timeframe somewhere under ten hours. Seems to me this would crowd out ‘rumors’ about a possible underground shelter. Still, IITS, so there you go. Anyway, since there was no info on even a possible location, and given that Tycus is less than half a day away, what are the odds anyone would stumble across their site? Oddly, as we shall see, pretty good.

This is where the wires and armatures of the screenplay become patently evident to the viewer. Of necessity there would have to be a plan to seal off the base if word about it gets out. Realizing this, the writers write one into the script. But that sets up another problem. They now have to provide a mechanism for Jake to be able to leave, rescue Amy, and get back in. (Oops, sorry.) This is why, beyond all belief, Crawford had his wife and daughter left out in the civilian world until the last minute.

So let’s look at this a little closer. The idea looks pretty dumb to start with. The best justification they could provide was that Crawford wanted them to live “a normal life” until the last possible second. Here’s the problem: This only works (to the extent it does) if you buy the notion that none of the rest of humanity is going to notice the comet until, well, about right now, when it’s ready to smash into the moon. Think of the horrendous panic and looting and raping and murder and whatnot that are going to result once people figure out what’s going on.

Yet Crawford doesn’t order his family brought in until the missile fails, less than ten hours before doomsday. Which means that if even one observatory had noticed Tycus approaching, say, a whole day before it hits, then Crawford’s wife and child would have been caught up in the resulting chaos and probably been killed or at least made unreachable in the necessary timeframe. Does this make any sense at all? No.

Man, this film is boring the hell out of me. Let’s pick up the pace. Menkees and an underling prepare to seize Crawford. Remember, the ‘rebels’ thing? Here’s the payoff, such as it is. And so the two begin walking down apparently restricted corridors to Crawford’s apartment. Along the way, Meekees kills any guard who tries to stop him. In short order we see him blow away four guys. I’ve got two problems with this. First, we’ve seen Menkees come and go from Crawford’s apartment prior to this. So why would it be off-limits now, particularly to the complex’s head of security?

Second, and a much bigger point, we shall learn that Menkees and the other rebel plan to stay in the complex. This has been described as the size of a small town, so let’s say it holds ten to twenty thousand people. Here’s the thing: Menkees and the rest of the rebels will have to live here for the next thirty years. Yet now he’s walking around shooting people willy-nilly, people who presumably have friends and/or relatives also living in the same small, enclosed complex. Which means that Menkees and the others will have to spend the next three decades watching their backs against possible retaliatory strikes. Does this seem like a very good plan?

This doesn’t even take into account the fact that Menkees will eventually threaten to kill Crawford. Imagine how the majority of the inhabitants must view this guy. I mean, Crawford’s not only saving them, he’s actually saving the human race itself from extinction. Unless I read people entirely wrong, many of them would worship this guy with a near religious fervor. If Menkees killed him he’d probably be torn to pieces. Not to mention what would happen to his wife and son, already in the complex.

Anyway, while Menkees is conducting his shooting spree, Jake is sneaking into Crawford’s private apartment. (Let’s ignore the likelihood that Crawford would stay in the control room overseeing things until Tycus hits.) Our Hero hides under the desk (!), and sure enough, Crawford enters seconds later. Crawford gets a call telling him that no one was ever sent to get his family. Enter Menkees, right on cue. See, we need him to explain the whole rebel thing before Jake can pop up and blow him away. (Oops, sorry.)

In a typically clunky fashion we learn that everyone in the project was allocated two extra spots for friends or family or whatever. (So if everyone gets two additional slots, why didn’t Stan use his for Jake and Amy? This is ignored for the obvious reason that it undermines the entire plot.) Menkees explains that he won’t choose between his two children and his wife. Some of the others feel the same way. So they’re going to bring them all in, even if they have to kill bunches of other folks to make room. (See my previous note.) Laughably, Menkees wants Crawford to order up the emergency jet he has on standby. He also wants the code that will get him and his people back into the complex. Even assuming that Crawford couldn’t change the code after they leave (and why not?), wouldn’t you have armed men waiting to pick off the rebels when they returned?

Ignored is why Crawford, with all these years to pick his people, wouldn’t do the obvious thing and choose folks with only two immediate family members. Also…man, the longer you look at this the dumber it is. OK, so Menkees is doing all this so that he and his compatriots can, as we’re told, bring in a total of four more people. Aside from everything else, think of the resentment this will breed. Everyone in the complex has agreed to the ‘only two others’ rule. Parents, lovers, children, friends, spouses, whatever, have been left behind. Then these four guys murder some of their compatriots in order to violate this rule. Again, how the hell do they expect to live amongst these people for the next thirty years?

Also, the idea that this is a ‘zero sum’ game is a tad much. How could they possibly know down to the very last person how many people they can support? Yet we’re told more than once that “one comes in, another one dies.” What about babies? Obviously everyone here is fertile. I mean, they expect to repopulate the planet at some point. Are abortions going to be mandatory? Are they going to only allow one child born for each person that dies? How? And who? A lottery, based on applications? Man, this thing is full of holes.

With everything explained (sorta), Jake pops up from under the desk. In his sole and thus rather improbable moment of heroic competence manages to blow away Menkees and his confederate. Guards run in and Crawford orders them to get the jet ready. He then explains to Jake that he’s going for his family. (About time!) “Then you’ll understand why I’m doing this!” Jake exclaims, putting his gun to Crawford’s head. Oddly, this doesn’t sear his flesh, despite the fact that Jake repeatedly fired it like ten seconds ago. Crawford tells him to drop the gun. He owes him, and will help him voluntarily.

This scene is actually pretty funny when broken down. Jake shoots the two guys. Guards run in, aiming guns. Crawford waves them off. He sends one guy off to ready the plane. Jake puts the gun to Crawford’s head. The other guard raises his gun again. Crawford waves him off. He tells Jake to get rid of the gun. Jake does. The guard raises his gun. Jake grabs Crawford in a neck hold. Crawford waves the guard off…

One more repetition and we’d have a Saturday Night Live sketch.

Crawford and Jake take the elevator to the surface. Stan joins them because, well, you know, he’s Jake’s sidekick. What, do I have to draw you a map? What do you think Stan’s remaining job here is? They leave the shed that’s supposedly the complex’s topside exit, but which just looks like a shed. Well, actually, it looks like the exterior of Dr. Who’s TARDIS, blown up to twice its normal size. Outside we see weird storm clouds (which might come from Damnation Alley), you know, to remind us about the whole ‘Tycus’ thing. They remove some camouflage netting from a SUV and drive off.

We cut to *cough* Crawford’s private jet as it flies to LA. Fearful that we didn’t get the whole rebel thing, they have Stan the Historian bring it up so that it can be explained all over again. This is annoying enough, but then Jake resumes the “who gave you the right?” argument. After, I’d once more like to note, he himself threatened to commit murder in order to save his wife and child. In fact, remember that guy driving the truck, the one who was to take Jake off the base? Jake attacked him and stole his uniform? Well, assuming Jake didn’t kill him, he must have left him sequestered somewhere in the woods. (And in his underwear, to boot.) We’ve seen nothing to indicate that this guy was ever found, much less that Jake revealed his whereabouts. Which means that, assuming he’s still tied up out in the woods, he’ll be killed when the comet hits. In other words, Jake has all but personally murdered the guy.

This stands in pretty stark contrast, I’d say, from the man he continues to berate. After all, Crawford’s saving people, not killing them. (The Munson thing was rather ambiguous, as we don’t know if they were planning to execute him or not. Given the circumstances, there was no real reason for them to do so.) On top of that, Jake’s only hope of saving his family is by taking advantage of what Crawford has provided. Yet despite such obvious points, the film continues with this as if it were some fascinating debate. (And, hey, if it’s captivating the first time we hear it, imagine how mesmerizing it is the third time!)

I apologize if I seem to be going on and on about this. Believe me, though, I’m only doing what the film’s doing. And at least I’m trying to refine my arguments and make them somewhat consistent and logical.

After this, Jake goes to sit by himself. However, knowing that we’re still thirsting for more of this brilliant point/counterpoint (Eat your heart out, A Man for All Seasons!), they have Stan sit down next to him and work this exhausted ground over yet further! Aiiiee! I’m in Movie Hell!!

Crawford learns that the commercial airports are snarled up. (Yeah, who’da thought?) They have no place to land. Here Jake’s given another little hero moment, as he knows where Commander Scott the Crazyman Pilot has his little runway. Meanwhile, we see the tired, doomed masses evacuating the city. Or, anyway, as many doomed masses as they can afford here. (If these are stock footage shots they sure aren’t very grand ones.) However, Amy is still waiting at home, watching TV. The sight of someone watching television as the minutes until Armageddon tick away is probably the most realistic thing the film offers.

Crawford’s plane makes it’s landing. Once down they borrow two vehicles Scott conveniently has on hand. Crawford gives Stan The Secret Code, tells him to stay with the plane, and drives off. Jake does the same. Meanwhile, the pilot has been instructed to take off if they haven’t returned in an hour and a half. Which means, even on a good day, this airstrip would have to be within forty minutes of both Crawford and Jake’s houses. And this, need I point out, isn’t exactly a good day.

Out on the road various extras run aimlessly around trying to look like they’re doing something. I’m not sure in particular why so many of them are crossing from one side of the street to the other, but there you go. As an illustration of how bad things have gotten, Jake almost runs down a little girl standing in the street. He learns that she was set there to make him stop, allowing her gun-wielding parents to steal Jake’s truck. Making this more humorous is that the surrounding area is full of people loading up their parked cars. Wouldn’t it be easier (and less potentially hazardous to their daughter’s health) to highjack one of those?

Jake jogs on. (He would have to live like five miles away, tops, from Commander Scott’s rural airstrip for this to make any sense whatsoever). On the way we witness various displays of surprisingly civil chaos. These are shot in slow-mo for a ‘cool’ effect. (Wow!) One small group stands in their driveway, out in the rain, praying and reading their Bibles. Another group of teens, also out on their lawn (?), pretends that they are drunkenly debauching. This is indicated by them standing around with party hats on and weaving in a “hey, I’m drunk!” fashion. Hilariously, they have a sheet hung up emblazoned with the credo “F— THE COMET”. I’m not censoring here, that’s actually how it’s printed! Wow, what a Bacchanalian frenzy.

Even so, we’ve seen no fires. No bodies in the street. No fighting. The only incident of civil disobedience was the people taking Jake’s truck. Compare this to, say, the panicked evacuation sequences in War of the Worlds. Even given the restrictions of what they could do forty-odd years ago (for instance, you couldn’t show “F—” on the screen.), those scenes are easily ten times better than what we get here.

The news is now reporting the general location of Crawford’s complex. Again, given the ‘Earth being destroyed in ten hours’ thing, I’m a little surprised they wasted time finding out where it is. (And how did they, at that?) Jake run inside and finally gets Amy to stop watching TV. Cue big romantic swell of music. Then cue big nauseous swell of my dinner inside my belly.

Crawford arrives back at the airfield with his wife and daughter. Jake shows up, literally, three seconds later. It’s too late, though, for *gasp* the plane has left. Well, that’s a relief! Like anyone would want Jake’s genes to represent one ten-thousandth of all of mankind’s! Scott then wanders into shot carrying Stan. The latter was wounded trying to stop the pilot from leaving. Gee, so the sidekick guy is tragically kicking the bucket, eh? Boy, didn’t see that one coming. Of course, he’s Not Dead Yet, because he and Jake have to have the obligatory Last Tearful Conversation. In a scene that doesn’t leave a dry seat in the house, the expiring Stan makes Jake promise to finish his book. (Is this what they were supposedly reading at the beginning of the movie? What, Jake wrote all that pseudo-Biblical gibberish?!)

Commander Scott gives them an airlift back to the complex. For a guy scrounging for three hundred bucks, he sure has a lot of fuel lying around. Then, to add a little ‘excitement,’ (yeah, right), Scott’s plane starts acting up. Yeah, like we think there’s any chance they’re going to end this with a crash that kills everybody. Uh, huh. Jeepers, I’m all on pins and needles.

After a pulse-pounding minute or two the plane safely lands. (I’m not kidding about ‘pulse-pounding’ either; I could feel it right up in my temples.) Oddly, despite the fact that the plane was obviously landing in a whole other movie, our characters stay in this one. Worse luck for them, says I. And us, now that I think about it.

Tycus hits the moon in a scene somewhat less than awesomely realized. Back on the ground, Scott proves to be the obligatory Guy who Decides to Stay Behind and Die. There’s one in every disaster movie. Adds to the pathos, you know. Then we see some more cut-rate CGI havoc, interspersed with the same stock footage shots we saw earlier. Somehow having located their SUV (whatever), Our Heroes drive back towards the complex. The road now is filled with straggling civilians. Again, given the timeframes involved here I just can’t believe all these people found this place. But hey, IITS.

In what I imagine is supposed to be a dreamlike sequence, the SUV slowly drives through the crowd. (Why are they all on foot, anyway?) The people sort of lackadaisically beg to be let in. Meanwhile, Crawford again explains that they can’t allow any of them into the complex.

Actually, let’s see: Stan is dead. Menkees and his henchguy and Munson are dead. [I’ll be generous and assume that they’ll let the on-base family members of the latter stay, despite the criminal actions of their sponsors.] The guy Jake left out in the woods is presumably still there. Then there’s the four guys Menkees killed. That’s nine openings. Minus Jake and his wife. That mean’s that there’s seven slots open. Now, admittedly, trying to pick seven people out of this crowd could cause a riot. On the other hand, I’d want as much genetic material as possible for the repopulation phase of things. And if you offered to take seven children, you could probably get help controlling the crowd. And Jake has a gun on him, too.

No one mentions any of this, though. Anyway, they drive down the road until they near the entrance, where maybe twenty people are sitting around. At some distance from the elevator, and with the civilians clustered between them and the door, Crawford activates the open command. (Yeah, that’s a good idea.) This is another blatant IITS moment. After coming all this way, the people stand calmly by and let them through. They don’t even say anything, except for one guy who asks, “What gives you the right to choose?” Again with that! Cripes!

Anyway, the film is still predicated on the idea that this represents a vastly meaningful question. Therefore the script decrees that Crawford must pay a price for his hubris, or whatever the hell he’s supposed to have done wrong. As the others get into the elevator, the bystanders finally act up and grab Crawford. He orders the others to continue down before they are also overwhelmed, and he stays above to suffer the same tragic fate as those he didn’t choose. Or something. Whatever.

Actually, it’s worse than that. Crawford makes it safely into the elevator, but has to hold up because now Jake decides he can’t leave all these others behind. Ultimately, of course, Jake ends up on the elevator and it’s then that Crawford gets grabbed. Thanks a lot, Jake, you were an asshole to the end.


Get to know Jake... ...die a pointless death.  Thanks for the memories, dude.



None of this makes sense. Why does the crowd stand there and watch all this and only react at the last second, and then to grab Crawford out of the elevator? And, in an extraordinarily clumsy device, why does the elevator have a timer that apparently keeps the doors open and delays descent for sixty seconds? Why, so that Crawford has time to get his ‘just’ desserts, of course.

By the way, isn’t the fact that Jake got their leader and savior killed going to make him sort of unpopular with the natives for the next three decades? (Not to mention the guards he shots earlier, and…)

They repeat the mass destruction stock footage from the beginning of the movie, which doesn’t wear any better for the repetition. Then we end up back in the field where we started. Wow, Life’s just a big circle, isn’t it? There’s one last effect shot, showing the remains of the moon, now an asteroid field now surrounding Earth – an image more poetic than the film deserves, frankly. And then…The End.


  • You’ve got to like how the film’s pretentious belief in its own seriousness is so instantly apparent. We begin with somber white-on-black-background credits, accompanied by a total lack of music or ambient noise. Its like the opening to a Ingmar Bergman picture.

  • Andrew Stevens, star of six thousand ‘erotic thrillers,’ was one of the film’s producers. There’s a guarantee of quality.

  • So we go from the serene quietude of the bucolic forest history lesson to the thunderous chaos of the borrowed f/x shots. Yep, somebody here went to film school.

  • The bulk of the film is basically a cheapo drawing-room philosophical play, ala Creation of the Humanoids. Ironically, the film’s original ‘special’ effect inserts are what make this most obvious. Amidst images of mass destruction taken from other movies, they occasionally cut in the picture’s own effects, which are blatantly lame CGI shots. This serves only to make the borrowed shots more noticeably out of tune with the rest of the proceedings.

  • The guy playing Jake has that sort of frame that’s just a little too muscular, if you know what I mean. He’s the kind of guy you look at and wonder whether he isn’t spending a bit too much time in the gym.

  • Those aren’t the shaggiest haircuts I’ve ever seen ‘military’ guys sporting in a movie (this wasn’t made in the ’70s, after all), but they still fall woefully short of making the grade.

  • OK, let me get this straight. Was the ‘Government’ providing Crawford with the nuclear warhead, or just some rogue army guys? And was it really necessary to festoon the crate containing the warhead with references to Crawford’s operation (i.e., Archangel and Last Dance)? And if the Government was behind this, why didn’t they take his predictions more seriously? If they just wanted to cover their asses, why not give him two warheads, so as to increase his chances of success? And if it was just rogue guys, then how did they cover up the disappearance of a warhead for years on end? You’d think someone would be keeping track of those.

  • Also, while the warhead is handy, how was Crawford expected to deliver it sans a rocket? Where was that supposed to come from? Did he supposedly build it himself?

  • In case you’re wondering, you transport nuclear warheads nestled in hay and covered with a sheet of bubble wrap.
  • Fun fact: Kicking an empty cardboard box at a foe will incapacitate him.

  • Oops, a violation of Ken’s Rule of Guns.

  • Jake hasn’t had a major story at the Globe in the last four years? Man, they must have a heck of a union for him to still be drawing a paycheck there.

  • I guess I’m a candy ass, but I’m not sure I’d trust a pilot who couldn’t count up three hundred dollars in fifties.

  • Call me suspicious, but I don’t think those guys are really in an airplane.

  • Life at a tabloid must be pretty good if you can turn in stories consisting of two paragraphs and make the second page.

  • I’d sure like a list of all the films they copped stock footage from. It’d be a doozy. In fact, isn’t that plane footage from Steven Spielberg’s Always? (!!) And isn’t that radar station from the climax of Goldeneye?!

  • Talking about the earthquakes and various disasters caused by the approach of Tycus, one guy notes “We’ve known for years about the effects this thing would have on the solar system.” The solar system?!

  • The Amtorg guys find that Tycus’ velocity has increased by eight percent. (How the heck would that happen?) And wouldn’t that so dramatically change its trajectory that it would no longer intercept Earth’s orbit?

  • Hmm, according to the scale shown on that display, Tycus should be hitting Earth in seconds, not days.

  • Also, should they be reporting that Tycus is just entering Quadrant 2 when the graphic shows it almost entirely through that sector and into Quadrant 1?

  • I realize that the books in the EXPLOSIVES crate — is that really the only box they had on hand? — are supposed to be a clue to the whole Noah’s Ark thing. Still, given the space constraints they keep yammering about, wouldn’t books on computer disc or microfiche make a lot more sense? And why such battered old copies, which look like they’re about ready to fall apart anyway? They look more like props bought by filmmakers on a tight budget (hmmm) than what a billionaire trying to preserve humanity’s culture would buy.


    The Amtorg guys discuss how the rest of Earth will soon learn of Tycus’ approach, heralding humanity’s doom. “Do you think there’ll be a lot of panicking?” one asks.

  • There are various stupidities involved with Crawford keeping his family off base until the last possible minute. One is the idea that he’s somehow left them in the dark regarding this entire project. Think about it. He’s spent years and years and untold (presumably) billions of dollars building an entire underground town for tens of thousands of people to live in, and all without his wife figuring things out? Also, doesn’t this imply that he hasn’t even clued her in about the comet? I find this about as convincing as the notion that Eisenhower kept the fact that we were at war with the Germans from his family.

  • What kind of name is Menkees? It sounds like something Insp. Clouseau would say: “I was questioning the zookeeper when I was attacked by some menkees.”

  • So Stan gave Jake coordinates to the place, hoping that he’d stumble in and then be allowed to stay. Admittedly, this is a pretty vague plan, but whatever. Yet Stan also had him provided with the ‘thumbprint overlay’ that opened up the storeroom with the hidden rebels’ chamber. So was Stan one of the rebels? Why would they trust him? And how did Jake manage to find the one door this thing opened? Admittedly, he knew it was on the ‘Blue Level,’ yet this place would need to be huge, as big as an entire town.

  • Would the workers really carry their meals around with them in brown paper lunch bags? Wouldn’t a centralized eating area be a better idea? I mean, first, this would seem to encourage a vermin problem that they might want to avoid. Second, it creates rather a lot of trash, which, again, would seem to be one of those things that they’d be trying their best to limit. I mean, they’re going to be locked away down here for decades. That’s a lot of Ho Ho wrappers to dispose of.

  • Get this: The control panel for the rocket is actually in the same room (!), down a concrete hallway from the missile. Luckily enough, the back blast from the rocket is contained and doesn’t roll down the hall and incinerate everybody. I don’t know, that just doesn’t look right.

  • Stan explains that “There’s a comet, Jake, or rather a piece of one.” If it’s a separate entity, wouldn’t it be a ‘comet’ too?

  • OK, I’m willing to buy that Crawford saw the danger ten years ago, well before anyone else. But now the comet’s only days away and no one else has caught on yet?

  • Uh, didn’t any of the Earth’s nations notice that nuclear missile launch? Coming from within the U.S.? And if they can still fire missiles at Tycus, why hasn’t Crawford petitioned any governments to fire up more missiles? I know they keep saying that only Amtorg has equipment powerful enough to see Tycus, but c’mon, the comet’s close enough to Earth to cause all these floods and earthquakes and erupting volcanoes and stuff. How close would it have to get before regular observatories saw it too?

  • “This place must’ve cost millions to build!” Jake exclaims. Dude, Sting’s house costs millions to build. This complex, conservatively, we’re talking hundreds of millions if not billions. Crawford, we learn, got the money from “rich, powerful people, people who would pay millions for a small spot and keep quiet about it.” Considering the amount of people they’re talking here, and the size of the project, I find the notion that they’ve managed to keep everyone quiet about this thing laughable.

  • Don’t various nations have shelters for government officials in case of nuclear war? I would think these would do. Or how about military bases like NORAD? Why would Crawford’s complex be the only thing to survive?

  • Fun Facts: Did you know desks are bulletproof? I didn’t.

  • Why does that guy scrunch up his face every time he brings his weapon to bear? Did he learn that in acting school?

  • We cut to a short scene at the Globe, where the whole staff is listening to the dire news. I don’t know, if you were the boss, wouldn’t you tell everyone to knock off early? Given the circumstances and all?

  • You know, that stock footage representing the airstrip by Commander Scott’s trailer in no way matches anything around there.

  • It’s over! The Evil is gone from this place!


There are two kinds of Bad Movies. Those that suck because they are lazy and just fall back on clichés are by far the more numerous. Rarer, and generally more enjoyable, are those that try for more than the people making them can hope to deliver. Ed Wood, Jr. is the avatar of that latter approach.Tycus falls into the second category, although it’s so dull that I wouldn’t judge it to be “more enjoyable.” I can see what they were trying to do. Some of it could have been interesting if they’d pulled it off. Specifically the idea of a protagonist who jumps into a situation too quickly and almost makes a horrible mistake. That Jake attempted to stop what ultimately proved to be the last chance for most of humanity could have had some real impact. As a plot concept, the idea has real merit. Providing a hero who methodically puts together the pieces but who shockingly proves to have done so incorrectly is potentially dynamite stuff.

falls into the second category, although it’s so dull that I wouldn’t judge it to be “more enjoyable.” I can see what they were trying to do. Some of it could have been interesting if they’d pulled it off. Specifically the idea of a protagonist who jumps into a situation too quickly and almost makes a horrible mistake. That Jake attempted to stop what ultimately proved to be the last chance for most of humanity could have had some real impact. As a plot concept, the idea has real merit. Providing a hero who methodically puts together the pieces but who shockingly proves to have done so incorrectly is potentially dynamite stuff.

falls into the second category, although it’s so dull that I wouldn’t judge it to be “more enjoyable.” I can see what they were trying to do. Some of it could have been interesting if they’d pulled it off. Specifically the idea of a protagonist who jumps into a situation too quickly and almost makes a horrible mistake. That Jake attempted to stop what ultimately proved to be the last chance for most of humanity could have had some real impact. As a plot concept, the idea has real merit. Providing a hero who methodically puts together the pieces but who shockingly proves to have done so incorrectly is potentially dynamite stuff.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. The reason is Jake. From the start Jake is an idiot, a blowhard, ultimately just a self-centered and self-righteous prick. Therefore learning that he’s come to an utterly and almost disastrously incorrect conclusion seems not only less than shocking, but downright predictable. For this plot twist to work, Jake had to be someone the audience would put their faith in. He isn’t. Partly it’s the script’s fault. Moreso it’s the fault of actor Peter Onorati, who conjures up a Jake we’d sincerely like to see locked outside when the comet hits.

Then there’s the purported heart of the film, the *ahem* philosophical argument between Jake and Crawford. I’ve already gone over the flaws of this ‘debate.’ It’s not that I don’t agree with the viewpoint put forth by Jake, it’s that I don’t think anyone could. It’s just moronic. Oddly, it was in the DVD’s Talent Files that I noticed an explanation for this.

It was while perusing these that the film finally snapped into sharp focus for me. The script was written in film school, we learn, by brothers who were, respectively, 21 and 18 years old. Ah, of course. Who else could write something so pretentious and yet so vapid, except a couple of college students? I’m telling you, I practically yelled “Eureka!” as I read this.

By the way, have you noticed that the cheaper and lamer a recent flick on DVD is, the more extensive the ‘Talent Files’ are? It’s like they said, “Hey, we can’t really pay you much, but don’t worry, you’ll get a lengthy write-up on the DVD.” Here we get a long list of pieces that might generously be called padded. It’s one thing to mention that the subject directed an obscure project in which James Coburn appeared. It’s another to feel obligated to then explain that Coburn is the “1998 Academy Award winner, Best Supporting Actor for the film Affliction.” Or that Onorati appeared in Scrooged, a film “that also starred…Bobcat Golthwaite.”

Finona Hughes, who appears as Amy, is particularly ill served. First her bio notes that she made her American film debut in “Staying Alive, the Sylvester Stallone directed sequel to the classic Saturday Night Fever.” Then it lists some TV work she’s done, including for Blossom. Oh, and she Ms. Hughes “enjoys reading and watching MTV.” How hip.

In any case, a full eight cast members get profiled, including, oddly, Sandra Berns Francis. Ms. Francis plays, if that’s the word, the momentarily onscreen Mrs. Crawford. That she is included here perhaps indicates that she had more scenes, which were left on the cutting room floor. Or maybe she’s just a friend of one of the producers. According to her write-up, you might remember her from Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas.

Following the actor profiles are bios for fully five of the behind-the-camera people, including director John Putch. Producer Ashok Amritaj, meanwhile, is proudly listed as “the executive producer on the eagerly awaited science fiction epic Battlefield Earth starring John Travolta.” (Ah, hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it?) Erotic thriller mainstay Andrew Stevens gets a bio, as do, finally, the previously mentioned siblings who wrote the screenplay, Michael and Kevin Goetz. Hopefully they’ll go on to do better work as they age and mature. Perhaps someday they’ll wince to look back at their youthful indiscretion. Heaven knows I will.