These are sad days for Jabootuish movies. With films being so expensive to produce, it’s much harder for independent producers to make them. Equally sad, screenwriters have become just sophisticated enough to write boringly stupid junk rather than hilariously stupid junk. Sometimes the major studios can still produce a mammoth turkey. >Again, though, they are far more expert at producing mediocre fare than anything really slanting to the Western edge of the Cinematic Bell Curve. >For such companies to turn out a really bad yet amusing film now generally requires someone having way too much control over a film.
A star or director so hot that a studio will do anything to make a film with them is the standard formula. Steven Seagal in On Deadly Ground. William Shatner in Star Trek V. >Demi Moore in Scarlet Letter. However, even this road to Fiascoville is more rarely trod upon. >Films are increasingly made by committee rather than individuals. >This results in bad films that are all too lacking in demented entertainment value.
Sure, there’s your occasional Direct to Video or Made-for-TV triumph. >Yet check out the cheesy DTV genre films to be found at your local Blockbuster. The crime flicks are either horrendously arch yet inept Tarantino rip-offs or the last flacid dregs of the ‘Erotic Thriller’ cycle. >Meanwhile, the horror/sci-fi movies, always the mainstays of Jabootuish material, are generally uninspired Terminator or Blade Runner or Alien or Mad Max or Nightmare on Elm Street knock-offs. Unfortunately, wading through such fare is more likely to provoke yawns than dismayed laughter.
While hardly reversing this sad state of affairs, I was still heartened when a catalog from Unapix Home Entertainment popped up at the public library where I work. I felt safe grabbing this item, as it featured videos that our media librarians were unlikely to add to our collection. Filled with lurid and charmingly silly video box photos, this catalog, aimed at video store owners, sported the kind of stuff that can still cheer up the jaded B-Movie fan. Rip-offs of successful movies and former stars and near stars now caught in Cinema Purgatory abounded. So here’s some things to keep an eye out for when next you visit your local video outlet.
We begin on the catalog’s page four, with the ‘1999 New Releases’ section.
Jungle Boy features “Manling the Jungle Boy,” who, we are told, was raised by a monkey and an elephant named Bono. >The plot description notes that “when humans threaten to steal the treasure of the jungle, Manling swings into action…” (Is it really necessary to identify the putative crooks as ‘humans’?) While listed as a ‘Family’ picture, it sports a PG rating.
Next up is Love to Kill, an apparent (surprise) Tarantino knock-off featuring the unlikely duo of Tony Danza (!) and Reservoir Dogs’ Michael Madsen. “A bullett [sic] riddled showdown of a gun deal gone bad and an old Mafia vendetta both pale in the face of a woman scorned.” Indeed.
Last Breath stars Luke Perry in the tale that asks “What if your beautiful wife need a transplant to stay alive, but no donor could be found?” This “riveting thriller” features the misadventures of “a man who plans to kill another woman to save his wife.” (Hello, The Brain that Wouldn’t Die.) Perhaps the sequel will explore a similar situation, but one in which the wife is just sort of pretty rather than beautiful.
Former Tank Girl and Free Willy star Lori Petty completes her career slide by starring in Serial Bomber. (“That’s right, I blew up Cap’n Crunch! And Count Chocula is next!”) Lori seeks to find “a twisted serial bomber to prevent the meltdown of a city held hostage.” I’m not sure what ‘meltdown’ means here, and I have to wonder whether it’s necessary to describe a serial bomber as ‘twisted.’
Family films (both PG) Get a Clue and My Teacher Ate My Homework have little apparent to recommend them other than presumably embarrassed thespians like Diane Ladd, Sally Kirkland, Ray Walston, Shelly [sic] Duvall, John ‘Baron Munchausen’ Neville and Margot Kidder (!). >Still, at least the second film features a doll with a “nasty attitude” who comes to life to harass the picture’s no doubt annoying juvenile leads.
Page 5 opens with Uncle Sam, a horror film I’ve actually heard some modestly good things about. The corpse-like US points at us from the video box, noting that “I want you…dead!” >I think this was written by fan fave Larry Cohen, but in any case it definitely stars the extremely solid Robert Forster as well as Isaac “Shaft” Hays (!) and Timothy “Sea Serpent” Bottoms. A fallen Desert Storm veteran comes back from the grave to wreak vengeance on draft dodgers and flag burners. Sounds like my kind of flick.
Freedom Strike is a Top Gun knock-off featuring the inevitable Michael “American Ninja” Dudikoff and Tone Loc. Meanwhile, the colorful cast of Anthony Michael Hall, Priscilla Barnes (!), Cynthia Geary and Charles “I said the ‘F’ word on Saturday Night Live” Rocket star in Killing Grounds. >Hikers find some gold, but “two drug-dealing thugs come to claim the boot [sic]…”
Jeff Trachta and Schae Harrison, described as “TV’s hottest daytime stars,” are the leads in Interlocked, an Erotic Thriller in which, as usual, “playful teasing turns into deadly suspense…” In an attempt at relevancy, the plot involves “internet [sic] flirtations.” Rather improbably, we are promised that “chat-room fantasy escalates into the hottest thrill ride of the summer.” >Barbara Crampton of Re-Animator fame also appears.
Drive features your typical mix ‘n’ match tough white and hip black cops, who no doubt dislike each other at first but learn to grudgingly respect one another. As a bonus, we are promised “Jacki [sic!] Chan-like super moves” and a “new advanced killer,” whatever that means. Just in case you suspect the film might be dull, it is, in fact, an “amazing high octane hyperaction movie.” Glad they didn’t feel the need to oversell it.
Page 6 leads off with the awful looking kid-flick Dear Santa (all the ‘Family’ films, it appears, are PG, so I’m not going to mention it anymore). In this knock-off of The Santa Clause, we learn that “When Mr. Covington breaks a promise to spend Christmas with his family, Randay, a six foot elf, appears and turns him into Santa Claus.” Oh, that old story. >Amongst his adventures, the new Santa is “putting crooks into jail,” no doubt while painfully ripping off Home Alone.
Skipping over The Robin Hood Gang (“A really awesome Toy Story”), we move on to High Voltage, starring Antonio Sabato, Jr. >“Mess with the Asian mafia and you’ve got big trouble.” >(How come ‘Mafia’ is capitalized in the Love to Kill description but not here?) The box art notes that the film was called “Supercharged Action” by The Movie Group. Well, if they liked it…
Last Assassins stars one-time prominent actress Nancy Allen and, unfortunately, Lance Henriksen. It’s a shame he can’t find better work. >Ex-CIA agent Allen must come out of retirement when her daughter is kidnapped. Henriksen is her ex-commander. Gee, I wonder if he turns out to be a bad guy.
Bleeders, complete with monster-laden video box, stars the inevitable Rutger Hauer. “A banished clan of grotesque creatures who stalk the catacombs beneath a rocky shore, emerging only to satisfy their appetite for human blood and corpses.” For a bit extra the video store owner can elect to buy a special video box that (it looks like) features a thin transparent bag glued to the cover and filled with fake blood
Page 7. P.U.N.K.S. features Randy Quaid, Cathy “Raging Bull” Moriarty, Henry Winkler (!) and Roger Clinton (!!!). There’s a cast for you. A picked-on father and son team take on “the biggest bullies in school and at work with a secret energy weapon.” Hey, who hasn’t?
Dead End stars the inevitable Eric Roberts. He’s “a cop with big problems as both he and his son are framed in a web of murder, lies, prostitution and cover-up.” >Can you really get ‘framed’ in a web?
Champions boasts no name stars, but has the most derivative plot so far. A guy who’s “the ultimate gladiator in the outlawed sport of extreme fighting” comes out of retirement when, that’s right, his brother is killed in a bout. Seeking revenge, our hero prepares for “the ultimate human cock fight.” I hope that doesn’t mean what I think it means.
Bram Stoker’s The Mummy stars Jabootu veterans Louis Gossett, Jr., and Victoria Tennant. “In a dark recess of a San Francisco mansion lies a supernatural power whose terrifying heart beats in the corpse of an Egyptian mummy.”
Devil in the Flesh is an Erotic Thriller sporting Rose McGowan (who I think is Marilyn Manson’s chippie). >Tagline: “She’s a hot…cold-blooded killer.”It’s the ellipsis that really sells that line, don’t you think?
Meanwhile, Men features cinematic washouts Sean “I’m a crazy bitch” Young, John Heard and Dylan Walsh. Young “vigorously pursues her ambition to become a haute cuisine chef, while also seducing a variety of men to educate herself in the realm of lust and love.” Hey, who hasn’t. (I know some won’t like that ‘crazy bitch’ crack, but if you’re going to Crazy Glue your lover’s penis to his thigh, you’ve got to take your lumps.)
Page 8 leads off with Angel in Training. “Dewy Brooker [?!] is a 12-year old girl who believes in angels, heaven and the power of dream.” In this Angels in the Outfield knock-off, “Dewy and her guardian angel attempt to bungle Dirk’s devilish plans.” >Hey, who hasn’t. The message of the film is that Dewy and her father must have faith in themselves. I guess that this is one of those films featuring angels and heaven but with none of that controversial ‘God’ stuff.
Fetishes is a documentary about a bunch of freaks who hang out at Pandora’s Box, a shop (“the most luxurious S&M parlor in New York City”) for perverts. This might, however, be only my personal take on the film. >It’s purely for educational purposes, no doubt.
The Fear: Halloween Night features Morty, “the menacing creature who scared audiences worldwide in The Fear.” Morty appears to be a guy made of wood (no, not Al Gore). >He “brings out the worst fears of a new group of people,” we’re told. If their fear involves renting a dud horror movie, I believe it. >Hilariously, we’re told that the cast features “some of the most promising new actors in film today,” including “Gordon Currie (Laserhawk)” and “Emmanuelle Vaugier (Halfback of Notre Dame).” With credits like those, who can gainsay them? >The film also stars the “legendary Betsy Palmer,” who played the murderous Mrs. Voorhees in the original Friday the 13th.
Meanwhile, an actually decent little film appears to have snuck in. >A Merry War is a romantic comedy featuring Helena Bonham Carter and Richard “Spice Girls, Hudson Hawk” Grant. >The blurb describes the usual bumps in the road our lovers must endure, but, we are assured, “love triumphs, but not before the ironies and hypocrisies within us all are lampooned.” >Time Magazine supposedly hailed this as one of the ten best films of the year.
Back (thank Jabootu) to the crap, as we head into the catalog’s ‘Action’ section. The returning Luke Perry and Eric Roberts appear with the inevitable Jennifer Tilly in American Strays. “Somewhere on the fringe of society, ten dangerous strangers are on a road to Red’s Desert Oasis Diner.” Whatever that means. “Packing more power than the L.A. police force [?], two hitmen, two hoods, and a mixed bag of other quirky characters hilariously converge for the showdown of a lifetime.” >Paging Mr. Tarantino.
In American Cop, an ‘ordinary cop’ taking a vacation in Moscow (hey, it could happen) becomes involved in “a dangerous comedy of mistaken identities,” then “plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with the Russian mafia” (Score: Two ‘m’s, one ‘M’) with the aid of “a beautiful woman.”
Page 9. Body Armor, with support from Carol Alt and Jabootu veteran Ron Perlman, features a hero who’s “the best agent in the business” (gee, that’s fresh), but who now faces a “deadly virus capable of mass destruction.” He has 24 hours to find an antidote, we’re told. >It’s a “super-charged free-for-all with go-for-broke stunts.”
Bad Love stars Tom Sizemore and Pamela Gridley as two losers who find love together. “Fate steps in and lust and passion take over as their romance sends them down a destructive road to porn, violence and crime.”
Body Count stars Brigitte Nielsen (the description double misspells her name as “Bridgette”) with B-Movie mainstays Sonny Chiba (!), Robert Davi and Steven Bauer. Sonny is a “cold-blooded hit man” (as opposed to…) who escapes from prison. With the help of his “sexy, lethal partner,” he plans revenge against Brigitte, who sent him up the river. I think you can figure the rest out yourselves.
Face the Evil stars Lance “Somebody, please, a decent role” Henriksen and the inevitable Shannon Tweed. >“What happens when one woman stumbles into a terrorist plot that will leave no witnesses?” (Shouldn’t that be “one beautiful woman”?) “After accidentally thwarting an art gallery heist,” Sharon “finds herself in the middle of a hostage crisis while one man plans to smuggle a load of Nazi nerve gas [!!!] to the highest bidder. It’s Die Hard in an art gallery.” Uh…yeah.
The Fighter features Van Damme wannabe (and that’s a sad idea, isn’t it?) Olivier Gruner along with B-Movie veterans Marc “Beast Master” Singer and Jabootu vet R. Lee Ermey. >In this Kung Fu knock-off, we learn what happens when “In 1865 a corrupt Texas landowner finds his plot against a group of settlers stopped dead by a new kind of fighter with a devastating way of killing.”
Meanwhile, The Demolitionist stars Jabootu vet Nicole Eggert, the inevitable Richard Grieco and Tom Savini (!) in the highly original tale of a “biogenetically enhanced law enforcer.” (Isn’t ‘biogenetically’ somewhat redundant?) She goes up against Mad Dog, “a convicted killer with an agenda of pure evil.” >You know the kind. In a shocking plot twist, Our Heroine eventually learns that it was Mad Dog who had earlier killed her partner. “This time the law is taking off her gloves.” >And, I’ll bet, her blouse.
Page 10. >The impressively cleavaged Wendy Schumacher stars in Fugitive Rage, the tale of a no doubt beautiful woman who kills a mobster when the courts fail to convict him. “She lands behind bars with a bounty on her head.” >Sure, who hasn’t. She and her presumably equally chesty cellmate break out of prison and battle both the mob (little ‘m’) and the law (little ‘l’).
The inevitable Roddy Piper stars in the Highlander knock-off Immortal Combat. >(Gee, where’d they come up with that title?) He’s ably supported by the returning Sonny Chiba and his They Live! co-star Meg Foster. “When an army of indestructible killing men [‘killing men’?] trained in ninja [sic] and guerilla warfare is assigned to stop them, Roddy and Sonny must find the secret to their immortal powers [?] and destroy what came back from the dead.”
Hard Vice sports the returning Shannon Tweed and the inevitable Sam Jones. “Vegas is the home of big money and easy sex. But behind the glamorous girls and high stakes gambling, there’s a seedy underground world.” I’m shocked, shocked! Shannon and Sam “blow open the world of high priced call girls who become prime suspects in the string of brutal murders.” You know the kind.
Judge and Jury stars David Keith in the original tale of “a convicted killer who comes back from hell [small ‘h’] to wreak havoc.” Boy, where do they get their ideas?
The Killing Man sports the inevitable Michael Ironside in support of this Robocop knock-off. >Star Jeff Wincott “did the dirty work for the street slime that runs organized crime. But when he was double-crossed, the government recreates [?] his identity to carry out their sinister plan…to keep the civilian population under control.” (And yes, the ellipsis is in the plot description.)
Page 11. >Molly & Gina stars Frances Fisher. “Molly is a 9-to-5 type who likes her Johnny Walker Red. >Gina is a new-age [sic] Nymphet [so you don’t capitalize ‘new-age’ but you do ‘Nymphet’?] who likes her hair green.” They team up when their boyfriends die violent deaths, and are “plunged high-heels first into a savage underworld of murderous gun runners, violent passions and fatal betrayals.”
Meanwhile, Sworn Enemies stars the inevitable Michael Pare. >“When power hungry Clifton Santier goes on a bloody killing spree in a backwater town, the local sheriff turns out to be his ex-partner and now mortal enemy.” If you say so.
Navajo Blues stars the returning Steven Bauer in this apparent Witness knock-off as a detective who hides out on the reservation when the mafia (small ‘m’) puts out a contract on him. >Yada yada.
Moving Target features the returning Michael Dudikoff supported by the inevitable Billy Dee Williams. Dudikoff is ‘Sonny McClean’ (!!) a bounty hunter battling a Russian crime syndicate. He’s then framed for murder in this apparent The Fugitive knock-off.
The Return of Elliot Ness stars, who else, Robert Stack as the elderly but still lethal Ness. Take it from there.
Once a Thief is the video version of the John Woo-directed television pilot starring Nicholas “X-Files” Lea. You’d have to think that this is a couple of cuts above most of the stuff here.
Page 12. >Stranger by Night stars the (again) returning Steven Bauer as well as William “Greatest American Hero” Katt. Violent cop Bauer searches for a serial killer, but finds that the trail of evidence might be leading back to himself (he suffers from black-outs).
Strip Search sports the returning Michael Pare bolstered by the inevitable Pam Grier. Pare is a cop who, shockingly, “crosses the line with a sexy and cunning woman. >The temptations of easy money and cheap sex lead him into the exotic and shocking culture of sex clubs and underworld gangs.” >The description further promises “a Donnie Brasco meets Face/Off movie experience.” (!!)
Inexplicably, the extremely well reviewed flick Rude is next. One character “is protecting her husband from underworld violence.” >Another “faces powerful questions of sexuality.” >Meanwhile, “a tortured young boxer fights for his identity in the street.” Warning: >This is apparently an actually good movie.
Ahh, now this is more like it. The ‘Horror’ section. >Breeders is an Alien meets Humanoids from the Deep knock-off featuring a violently procreating space monster seeking mates after landing near an “all girls college.” >For a few extra bucks, the video store can order the film with a die-cut cover, from which the monster slightly protrudes in ersatz “3-D.”
Page 13. >Evil Ed is an old-fashioned gore flick, the tale of what happens when “the world’s goriest movies release demons that scramble Evil Ed’s brain until he starts a rampage of exploding heads and flying limbs.” >You can choose from two boxes, a gory one and a very gory one.
The Evil Within is an Alien knock-off recounting the adventures of a “life force” the emerges from the “molten center to the earth [sic]” and inevitably enters the womb of a young woman (oddly described as “healthy”). She is then “forced” to “brutally murder anyone that she can seduce.” >As you’d assume, the monster is eventual ‘reborn’ for a rampage of its own.
The Fear is, I guess, the original appearance of the aforementioned Morty. He’s here described as a “wooden manikin who suddenly takes on a life of his own.” Moving into Freddy Krueger territory, we learn that Morty can make characters experience their greatest fears. Hence the title, I guess.
Grim features a monster who rises from underground to threaten a suburban town. “What follows is a story of horrific magnitude as the monster cuts a chilling swath of certain death.” (Again, I question the utility of some of the adjectives in that sentence.)
Ice Cream Man stars the geeky-looking Clint Howard, the brother of famous film director Ron Howard, as a psychotic murderer. >Sandahl “Hell Comes to Frogtown” Bergman, Olivia Hussey and, that’s right, Lee Majors II are along for the ride. >“The happy jingle of the neighborhood ice cream truck turns into hell’s bells as Gregory Tudor delivers torture, murder and mayhem with every scoop of Rocky Road. After witnessing the murder of his friend, ‘The Ice Cream King,’ Gregory grows up to become a demented ice cream man with mysterious frozen treats. >They promise that the film will leave you “chilled to the bone.” Get it? >“Chilled”? “Ice cream”?
Next up is the infamous killer-snowman movie Jack Frost. >(No, not the infamous father-snowman movie Jack Frost – that’s the one with Michael Keaton.) >“Serial killer Jack Frost is on his way to execution, but a freak accident with a truckload of genetic material mutates him into a killer snowman.” Oh, that old story. And hey, what a coincidence that a fellow named ‘Jack Frost’ becomes a mutant snowman, eh? What’re are the odds? Jack, we are told, goes on a “slay ride.” Har har. Purchasers can buy a special “Morph-Art Box” with a regular snowman who turns into Jack when the box is swiveled. Oddly, the tagline on the morph box reads “He’s chilling…and killing.” >Meanwhile, the regular box reads “He’s chillin’ and killin’.”
Little Witches co-stars Zelda Rubinstein (the short psychic from Poltergeist). “An ancient book of spells transforms six naughty Catholic school girls into a sexy coven of witches.” >Oh, that old story. Just in case we don’t get what they’re ripping off here, we’re informed to “Witness the evil craft [ahem] of Little Witches.”
The inevitable James Remar, along with actual actors Charles Dance and Peter Boyle, is featured in the gorefest The Surgeon. “A doctor’s genius turns monstrous when a twisted plan of revenge transforms a local hospital into a laboratory of human guinea pigs.” The medico villain also “executes his master operation.” >Har har.
Page 15. Skinner stars the geeky-looking Ted Raimi, the brother of famous film director Sam Raimi, as a psychotic murderer. Also on hand are former-jail bait porn queen Traci Lords and Ricki Lake (!!). “Psychopath Dennis Skinner stalks unsuspected hookers, wielding a sickening array of blades and cleavers for his grotesque mission of murder.” >Dennis presumably hangs out with the mutated Jack Frost in that bar for ironically named serial killers.
Voodoo stars the inevitable Corey Feldman and David Lynch regular Jack Nance. “Deep in the heart of Los Angeles is a secret so sinister that those who witness it [can you really ‘witness’ a secret?] will lose either their minds or their lives fleeing from it’s dark grasp.” >Sort of like how you’d lose your two bucks after fleeing from this movie ten minutes after starting the tape. >Feldman finds himself “snared in the dangerous web of a fraternity led by a voodoo priest.” >You know the kind. We are also promised a “frenzied ritual initiation by live zombies.” >Which is quite the rarer sort of zombie, in my experience.
The Whispering stars the not at all inevitable Leif Garrett (!!). >“At the border of life and death stalks a cunning demonic woman whose twisted spirit taunts men to their deaths.” >I had a girlfriend like that one time.
Werewolf (also available with an optional “Morph-Art Box”) is, well, a cheesy looking werewolf movie. >Just in case you were wondering. >If it’s half as silly as the video box makes it look, I definitely want to see it.
Page 16 starts with a couple of those bezillion ‘erotic horror’ flicks in the “Witchcraft” series. I’ve never seen any of these, but somebody must of, since we lead off with Witchcraft 7: Judgement Hour. >Attorney Will Spanner fights some vampires – who are we supposed to root for? Spanner, oddly, uses his “black magic powers to battle evil.” >We are promised “the ultimate clash of Heaven and Hell,” as well as some vampire “sexual rituals.”
Witchcraft 8: Salem’s Ghost, in turn, features evil, but presumably sexy, witches. They no doubt use their white magic powers to battle good. >“An inferno of lust and desire spews unimaginable horror that will strike you straight in the heart.” >(If the horror is ‘unimaginable,’ then how did they write the movie?) Both Witchcraft movies are available with either ‘Discreet’ or ‘Erotic’ boxes.
On to Sci-Fi. >Alien Chaser is about an “alien android” that crashed in Africa 5,000 years ago. >He reactivates on a “mission of murder.” >See if you can find the clue to what movie they’re knocking off: >“Two scientists hold the answer to stopping this human terminating machine as he stalks with superhuman vengeance.” Man, where do they get their ideas?
The aptly named The Apocalypse stars Sandra Bernhardt (!) and Laura SanGiacomo [sic]. >(Any film starring Sandra Bernhardt can be called “The Apocalypse” as far as I’m concerned.) >As you’d expect, it involves “A lost spaceship packing enough explosive power to destroy the planet hurdles uncontrollably on a catastrophic course toward Earth.” >Inevitably, the heroes are “rag-tag.” >Since a couple of “salvage crews race each other and the clock” to save the Earth, I’m thinking…oh….Armageddon?
Page 17. >Alice “Chariots of Fire” Krige stars in Habitat, which shows us how “Planet Earth’s worst nightmares have come true.” >How can a planet have…oh, never mind. >The movie sports a highly original “brilliant but obsessed scientist,” who turns his house into a living being. >His family mutates, too. I’m not sure why that’s Earth’s worst nightmare, but there you go. >Anyway, “his plans for accelerated evolution spiral out of control.” You don’t say?
Dark Planet includes a no doubt embarrassed Michael York in the cast. “With the Earth reeling from the destruction of its 6th World War and the survival of humanity at stake, Hawke and his ship fight the most powerful forces in the universe.” Uh, Michael Ovitz and CAA? (Damn, that joke’s six years too late. Just go back in time and you’ll laugh your ass off.)
I’m not even going to make a joke about the title Specimen. >(Pee-pee!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!! >Oops, sorry.) “24 years ago they came from space to plant a seed in the womb of Carol Hillary. Now they’re back to reclaim their own.” This means the hero “must use the supernatural powers he inherited from his enemies to fight them in the showdown of a lifetime.” >By the way, would powers given to you by aliens really be “supernatural”?
Virtual Combat stars the inevitable Don “The Dragon” Wilson. >In this knock-off of Virtuosity (I know, why bother), a deadly killer from a VR game comes to life, along with two “perfect cyber-fems.” You know the kind. Don must stop him before “he creates an army of clones who will control the world.”
Within the Rock knocks-off Alien (there’s an original idea) and, depending on when it was made, Armageddon. >A crew of miners (oddly not described as “rag-tag”) tries to stop “a runaway moon” from colliding with Earth. >However, they are hampered when an alien beastie makes an appearance. This comes in either a “Monster Box” or a “Science Fiction Box.”
Unfortunately, we now head into the vastly less interesting ‘drama’ section of the catalog starting with Page 18. Even worse, some of these seem to be possible decent little films.
Dance Me Outside, which is “Presented by Norman Jewison,” features four American Indian young adults trying to solve a murder (which was “brutal,” in case you were wondering) on a reservation.
Dead Funny is about an “eccentric painter” and inveterate practical joker who ends up dead in his girlfriend’s kitchen. She then reminisces about their relationship via flashbacks and ultimately “uncovers the shocking truth about his murder.” >Just in case that doesn’t strike you as sounding quite dreadful, the film stars Andrew McCarthy. You know, the dummy McCarthy who doesn’t hang out with Edgar Bergen.
Good Luck is an overtly inspiring flick. It’s about a fellow in a wheelchair and a blind guy who enter a white-water rafting competition to prove that all handicapped people in movies are really, really noble and brave and stuff. >Gregory Hines and Vincent D’Onofrio are our handicapable heroes, supported by thesps James Earl Jones (!) and Max “Barney Miller” Gail. Is it any good? Well, People Magazine called it “Moving and exhilarating.” >So probably not.
Falling in Love is a “heartwarming romance” starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Susannah York and Elliot Gould. >If you’ve read this far, this probably isn’t the kind of movie you’re looking to rent. Besides, the fact that they trumpet the film’s “lush score” indicates that there’s not much here to talk about.
Paris France is a movie about a frustrated wife who “finally meets a young and sexy man able to reach the erotic riches inside her.” >Whatever that means. The New York Times called it “Feverish eroticism…hot & kinky…goes gleefully over the top.” >Sounds better than Falling in Love, anyway.
The Proposition stars the inevitable Theresa Russell and Patrick “I almost got to be a famous actor once” Bergin. >It’s a “romantic adventure” set, I guess, on the American frontier. “He took her honor. She won their freedom.” Here’s a proposition: Let’s not rent this movie.
Page 19. >Passion in Paradise sports Armand Assante (I had a feeling he’d be along) and Catherine Mary Stewart. There’s a millionaire’s daughter and her gigolo and they apparently have a lot of sex and her father mysteriously dies. >“Love, wealth and greed collide with a world of voodoo and bizarre sexual rituals in this paradise where lust knows no bounds.” >Sounds better than Falling in Love, anyway.
Where the Rivers Flow North (but don’t run through it, apparently) boasts the inevitable Rip Torn as well Michael J. Fox (!) and the inevitable Treat Williams. “Legendary log driver, [sic on the comma] Noel Lord defies power company boss Farnsworth who orders Lord and his feisty American Indian mate off their soon-to-be-flooded land.” >Uh, if you say so.
The drama section ends with a set of tapes and DVDs containing the critically lauded TV mini-series More Tales of the City. >If you happen to own Tales of the City, you’d no doubt be interested. >I can’t help but notice that mention of the series’ heavy emphasis on homosexuality is entirely avoided.
Page 20. >Here’s where we really hit the skids: >The “Comedy” section. Back Fire (Tagline: The Bonfire of the Insanities – there’s a good idea, play off of a film that no one saw or liked) is one of those “sexy girls who run something” movies, like the Bikini Whatever flicks. However, the casting of demure star Kathy Ireland implies that nudity, the raison d’Ãtre of such films, will not be much on display. >This is confirmed by the picture’s PG-13 rating. >Shelley Winters is on hand and, appallingly, so is Robert Mitchum. >Say it ain’t so, Bob.
Changing Habits (yes, sigh, it’s about nuns) stars an all-star cast of losers including Christopher Lloyd, Teri Garr and Shelley Duvall. >Imagine trying to win a What the Hell Happened to My Career? contest with that bunch. A “gifted young artist,” Soosh (presumably the sound the viewer makes anytime one of the film’s characters begins to speak) moves in with nuns to save money. However, “The chores are more than she bargained for until romance blossoms with Felix, an art supply salesman.” Apparently, being in love means that housework become easier. Anyway, “Soosh steals art supplies until Felix steals her heart.” >Tell you what: I want to see a Fox TV special where daredevil Robbie Knievel tries to sit through this entire movie.
The Great American Sex Scandal stars an all-star cast of losers including one of the six million Baldwin brothers, Heather Locklear, Bronson Pinchot and the inevitable Tracy Scoggins. >As Gena Davis said in The Fly, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” We are promised “an insanely funny sex scandal of hysterical proportions.” >Whatever that means. Amongst the words I never expected to see assembled into one sentence, high on the list were “Heather Locklear and Stephen Baldwin head a superstar cast.”
Lucky Luke is a comic Western starring Terrence Hill, who made all those Italian “Trinity” comic Westerns about five hundred years ago. >Let me just quote the following: >“He and Jolly Jumper, his talking horse, maintain law and order.” Oh, and I just noticed that the map on the front of the video box highlights the town of “Trinity.” I’m sure that the other six people on Planet Earth who know of the Trinity movies are also amused.
My Brother’s Wife stars TV has-beens John Ritter and Mel Harris (who’s a woman, for those who care). >“Everyone has problems; Barney’s are relative.” >Get it?
The Raffle stars the returning Nicholas Rea and Mark Hamill, who could win a What the Hell Happened to My Career? contest with Christopher Lloyd, Teri Garr and Shelley Duvall. >“David and Frank search for the world’s most beautiful woman while millions of men buy chances for a date with everyone’s dream.” >Ohhh-Kay.
Page 21. >Running Wild stars three people you’ve never heard of on an “adventure of a lifetime.” >Oh, and they make up a “rag-tag group of friends,” who are on a “free-wheeling road trip,” in case you were wondering. >Get this: “A wild pursuit in stolen cars is fueled by sexual tension as Carlotta, Frankie and his friend, Miller, wind up as bounty hunters, fugitives and escapees.” I thought that a knock-off of Virtuosity was unlikely. But if I’m not mistaken, this might actually be even lamer – a knock-off of the Charlie Sheen epic The Chase.
Sorority House Party stars “Avalon Anders (Playboy covergirl), April Lerman and super-model Attila.” >Unlike Back Fire, at least this sports an ‘R’ rating. >“What happens when the coolest rock star in the world is held hostage by the hottest sorority babes on campus? >The most outrageously rockin’, seriously sexy Sorority House Party of all time!” It’s also a “comedy romp that dares to party where no man has partied before.” Here’s a hint from Uncle Ken: Never rent a ‘comedy romp.’
Floundering is a well reviewed little flick featuring James LeGros, John Cusack, Ethan Hawk, Steve Buscemi and Billy Bob Thornton. >When Independent Film geeks go to heaven, they see films with a cast like that. Still, it makes you wonder what Parker Posey was doing the week they made this.
Worse than comedies? >Family films. Invisible Dad shows us that “Doug Baily’s dad is weird, but a strange machine in the garage now makes him invisible too!” >Can you say, “Honey, I Turned Myself Invisible”? >As you might suspect, these powers come in handy when the guy learns of the inevitable “co-worker with evil plans.” >Moreover, “Its [sic] a roller coaster ride of fun and high jinx.” >Here’s a hint from your Uncle Ken: >Never rent anything promising ‘high jinx.’ The purchaser can pick a “Morph-Art Box” that shows Dad turning invisible.
Page 22. Clubhouse Detectives is a Little Rascals meets Encyclopedia Brown knock-off. >“Mystery and adventure are all in a day’s work for the Clubhouse Detectives.” OK.
Boys Will Be Boys stars, and I swear I’m not making this up, Randy Travis (!), Julie Hagerty, Jon Voight (!!), Dom DeLuise, Mickey Rooney and Ruth Buzzi, along with two obnoxious looking kids. >The only advantage of assembling a cast like that is to make sure that they are all safely contained in just the one movie. Sort of like when they put all the “bad eggs” in one POW camp in The Great Escape. >“Matt & Robbie are home alone for the first time…” >See if you can find the subtle clue revealing what major hit this movie is knocking-off.
My Magic Dog features a…aww, you guessed. “He’s cute, he’s furry and he’s completely invisible…except to Toby, his 8-year-old [sic] best friend.” Lucky, the aforementioned Magic Dog aids Toby when he’s harassed by his “evil Aunt Violet’s nasty scheme.” Can a team-up with Invisible Dad be far behind?
Robot in the Family stars Joe Pantoliano (!!!!) of Bound and The Matrix along with the inevitable John Rhys-Davies. >“Tipper, with the aid of her beautiful daughters, is involved in many madcap, zany adventures when her husband runs for President of the United States,” might be what you’d expect this film to be about, but you’d be wrong. It instead involves a boy and his “wacky robot” who’s a “walking mound of megabytes.”
Luckily, we leave the Family flicks behind for Thrillers. The Boys Club stars the inevitable Chris Penn in a tale of three kids are held hostage by a “psychotic stranger” in their “secluded clubhouse.” Gee, who plays the psycho?
Crimebroker stars Jacqueline “Does anyone know where I’ve been” Bisset as a “respected judge and loving wife” who’s really the “sexy mastermind behind a string of perfect robberies.” >While this film isn’t listed in the Erotic Thrillers section, you don’t exactly have to be Sigmund Freud to hypothesize that they’re trying to imply something by utilizing both “penetrate” and “climax” in the final sentence of the plot description.
Page 23. >Diary of a Serial Killer sports an all-star cast of weirdo actors with the inevitable Gary Busey supported by Arnold “The Mummy” Vosloo and the returning Michael Madsen. A reporter sees a killing and develops a dangerous and morally ambiguous relationship with the serial killing murderer. >Didn’t Kurt Russell make this movie too?
Crosscut features Costas Mandylor on the video box looking tough and pointing a pistol, sideways, at the viewer. Why would anyone hold a gun that way? Hold out your arm. See how if you were holding a gun you’d now by sighting down the barrel? >See how you don’t have to twist your arm to fire it? >Costas is (get ready for originality) a hit man who’s on the run after the mod decides to kill him.
Outrage stars Antonio Banderas. >(Yep, that’s an outrage.) “Marco Vallez, possessed by the beauty of a circus sharp-shooter [sic], is willing to give up everything for her. >But one horrifying night sends them down the road of revenge to the ultimate showdown with justice, leaving a trail of bodies behind.” >And a trail of sleeping audience members, no doubt
A Passion to Kill stars Scott Bakula as a guy who finds his “lustful temptation turning into a passionate obsession” after he falls for his best friend’s wife. They bump hubby off and, inevitably, “the affair turns into an unholy union.”
Brooke Shields (you’ve been warned) stars in The Seventh Floor, which is six floors down from that VR movie. >“Kate Fletcher’s computer controlled apartment becomes her prison when a psychotic man executes the violent orders from his long dead sister.” Has anyone in movie history owned a ‘computer controlled apartment’ and not been menaced by it?
Sex and the Other Man stars Stanley Tucci in this “strangely romantic comedy.” A guy with a piping problem, if you get my drift, finds his girlfriend doing his boss. This cures his problem, and they get it on while holding the boss hostage. >Yeah, that sounds both ‘romantic’ and like a ‘comedy.’
Page 24. >The Killing Jar features the support of both M. Emmet Walsh and the inevitable (and sadly deceased) Brion James. “Michael Sanford’s shattered memory rips apart his life as he tries to piece together the clues to a brutal murder.” >(How does a ‘shattered memory’ ‘rip apart’ someone’s life?) If the movie’s main character was Fred Sandford, then I’d rent this movie.
Desperate Prey is about a woman who films her bout of sex with a lawyer and then accidentally records his murder as well. >(I’m supposed to feel sympathetic towards a woman who has sex with a lawyer?!) >She’s soon caught in a “maze of horror” while fleeing from a killer who’s unsurprisingly described here as “brutal.” >Oh, and it’s “a twisted tale of terror.” >Thought you’d want to know.
Terrified stars the scrumptious Heather Graham. >After seeing her husband kill her lover and then commit suicide, and then being attacked by a “violent stalker” who “disappears without a trace,” our heroine finds that “sex becomes her escape when the police ignore her pleas for help.” There’s a realistic character.
A Man in Uniform is, I guess, about a cop who goes bad and becomes “someone terrifying.” In case you care, the film is “prize winning” and, inevitably, “brutal.”
Hit Woman: The Double Edge looks like a TV movie with some inserted sex and violence to garner an ‘R’ rating on tape. It stars Susan Lucci and Robert Urich (see what I mean?). >You wants laughs? Try this: “Lucci plays two roles: an elusive professional killer and the crack FBI agent who stalks her.” >You just gotta love a film with the balls to revolve around that premise.
Page 25 leads off with Sweet Evil, costarring Peter Boyle (he better be on his knees over that whole Everybody Loves Raymond thing). Jenny, a (surprise) “beautiful woman,” moves in with a couple to act as their surrogate mother. Needless to say, Jenny proves to be a psycho. Hmm, could anyone involved with this film have seen The Hand that Rocks the Cradle?
Mercy is a Ransom knock-off (the box even references that movie in its tagline) about a lawyer whose daughter is abducted and who learns that the “kidnappers want more than money…they want revenge.”
On to Erotic Thrillers, so expect some redundancy here. All of these feature “Discreet” or “Erotic” boxes, although some of the ‘discreet’ ones are seemingly just as lurid. >Most sport ‘R’ and Unrated versions. >Certain words that seems to recur regularly will appear as ‘keywords.’
Animal Instincts 3: The Seductress stars the returning Wendy Schumacher as a beautiful woman with “a passion for exposing private fantasies.” >Uhm, she has sex, and so do some other people, and there’s danger of some sort to somebody. KEYWORDS: >passion, exposing, private, fantasies, voyeurism, climax, desires.
Body of Influence 2 is about a psychiatrist who has sex with a beautiful patient (as every movie shrink in history has done). >Some others have sex as well, and danger arises. >There’s also a “web of deceit.” >KEYWORDS: passion, sexy, seductive, mysterious, dangerous, desires, climax, deadly.
Page 26. >Body Strokes is about a painter who has sex with his two beautiful models and is artistically reinvigorated. There’s no mention of any danger, but since this is in the Erotic Thriller section, I think we can assume some. KEYWORDS: >sensual, erotic, secrets, desires, passion, fantasies.
Dark Secrets stars the inevitable Julie Strain as a beautiful woman who enters the sinister world of “underground sex clubs.” >You know, like in Eyes Wide Shut. Uh, she and some others have sex, and danger arises. >KEYWORDS: murder, pleasure, power, fantasies.
I Like to Play Games stars Lisa Boyle as a beautiful woman who has sex with a coworker. Others probably also have sex. Danger arises. KEYWORDS: >pleasure, desires, twisted, passions, escalate, death.
Page 27. >Object of Obsession stars Erika Anderson as a beautiful woman who has sex with stranger Scott Valentine and others. Danger arises. KEYWORDS: >mysterious, sensual, affair, passionate, obsessive, escalate, shocking.
Scorned 2 stars Tane McClure (“Hi, I’m Tane McClure.”) and the busy Wendy Schumacher. They play beautiful woman who have sex. Danger arises. Oh, and there’s a “web of deceit.” KEYWORDS: >seduce.
Secret Games 3 involves a beautiful woman and others who have sex. >Danger arises. I’m pretty sure, anyway. KEYWORDS: >brothel, erotic, fantasies, affair, escalates, passion, obsession.
Page 28. Seduce Me: >Pamela Principal 2 is about a beautiful woman who has sex with a photographer and others. Danger no doubt ensues. >KEYWORDS: seductive, deadly, passionate, affair, twists.
Sexual Malice stars the inevitable Chad McQueen and involves a woman who has sex. Others also have sex. Danger arises. >There’s a “web,” but as to whether it’s one of deceit is left unexplored. KEYWORDS: >passions, mysterious, seductive, lust, pleasure, obsession.
Sexual Roulette stars the returning Tane McClure (“Hi, I’m Tane McClure. You might remember me from such Erotic Thrillers as Scorned 2.”) Tane has sex, as do others. This results in some danger. KEYWORDS: >money.
Page 29. >Suite 16 (har har) stars Pete Postlethwaite (!!) as a guy who forces a young stud to have sex with a beautiful woman. Danger is the result. KEYWORDS: >fantasies, voyeurism, sexy, murder, money, power.
Undercover features the returning Meg Foster and revolves around a beautiful cop who goes undercover and has sex. >Danger makes an appearance due to these activities. >KEYWORDS: brothel, rich, powerful, murderer, exposes, seductive, dangerous, erotic, fantasies.
Teach Me…beautiful woman…sex…danger. KEYWORDS: naughty, sensual, erotic, fantasy, pleasure, passion.
Under this stuff we find the last listed film in the catalog: Out of the Past: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Rights in America. It’s a documentary that features the voices of Linda Hunt, Gwyneth Paltrow and Edward Norton. I have no idea what it’s doing here.