March 24th, 2008

THE PROPHECY: FORSAKEN (2005) *

I admit that I don’t have much patience for The Prophecy series.  I mean agitated Archangels with a grudge against humanity aren’t exactly the sort of thing that makes me want to sleep with the lights on.  The only thing worth watching them for is the oddball acting by Christopher Walken.  Other than that, they’re pretty much the pits. 

 

I haven’t seen parts 3 or 4 in the series so that could account for why this fifth (Walken-less) installment didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  Something to do with Kari Wuher getting her mitts on some book that purports to know the name of the Antichrist who will bring about the Armageddon.  The bad angels led by Tony (Candyman) Todd don’t want Armageddon to happen (it’s bad for business) so he gets a suicide victim (Jason Scott Lee from Dragon:  The Bruce Lee Story) to help track her down and kill her. 

 

So let me get this straight; we’re actually ROOTING for Armageddon to happen? 

 

Well, Armageddon can’t be a whole lot worse than this movie I’ll tell you that.    

 

Look, if you can’t get some offbeat character actor like Walken to play your crazed homicidal angel, a least get someone equally creepy (like say Lance Henriksen).  I usually like Tony Todd a lot, but he’s just OK as the new angelic meanie.  To me, he seems more like Candyman minus the hook than a wacked out weirdo with wings.  (Scratch that wings part, the budget was so low, they couldn’t afford them.)  It totally doesn’t help things when the guy who plays Satan looks and acts more like the drummer from Oasis than the Prince of Darkness either. 

 

The cast are all veterans of direct to DVD sequels:  Kari Wuhrer was in Hellraiser 7, Todd was in Candyman 3 and both Jason Scott Lee and Jason London starred in Dracula 2 and 3 (which were written by Joel Soisson, who also directed this crap).  Unfortunately none of them really invest much into their characters and they all look about as confused as the audience. 

 

If Left Behind scared the crap out of you, you may want to give this a shot, but this is actually worse than the Walken Prophecy movies if you can believe it. 

 

Todd at least does get some memorable dialogue that makes some of this turd worth sitting through.  My favorites include:  “You see how he took a life without lifting a finger?  That’s genius.  Vintage Satan!”, “I can put a baby in your belly and have it rip itself out of your womb in three days!”, and “You were bred as a tool of certain partisan interests in Heaven, nothing more!”

HAMMER (1972) **

 

A big time mobster sees a dock worker named Hammer (Fred Williamson) beat the crap out of some honky with his bare fists and pretty soon he wants him fighting in the ring for the syndicate.  Eventually the Mob wants him to throw a fight which leads to Hammer laying the smackdown on several greasy gangsters. 

 

This slick but empty by-the-numbers (they’ve been using this same exact plot since the 30’s for crying out loud) blaxploitation action flick is notable mostly for giving Williamson the nickname “Hammer” and very little else.  It’s more watchable than some of his lesser works (Mr. Mean anyone?), but it’s definitely no Bucktown. 

 

If you can get past the weak boxing scenes (Penitentiary 2 this is not), paper thin plot and the mountains of clichés, you may enjoy it though.  Williamson’s commanding screen presence makes it worth a look and lots of familiar faces such as William (Invasion of the Bee Girls) Smith, Vonetta (Blacula) McGee, D’Urville (Dolemite) Martin, Leon Isaac (Hollywood Vice Squad) Kennedy and Fred “Rerun” Berry help a lot.  (Not to mention the sexy as Hell S & M strip show performed by Marilyn Joi.)  There’s also plenty of great music and a funky Shaft inspired theme song.  (“You a BAAAAD Hammer Jammer!”) 

 

Naturally, Williamson is given the best lines of the movie like, “Women are like buses.  Miss one, catch another.”

 

AKA:  B.J. Hammer.

FORTRESS 2: RE-ENTRY (1999) *

 

In the future, wanted fugitive Christopher Lambert gets captured AGAIN (he likes to make babies and that’s a big no-no in the future) and is sent to a space station/prison that revolves around the Earth.  Whenever the prisoners don’t follow the rules, the fey warden shoots them out of an airlock.  When Lambert makes an unsuccessful escape attempt, he gets put into “The Hole” which is located outside the station so whenever he’s facing the sun he gets a massive sunburn.  Eventually Lambert finagles with some Russian mobsters and plans to escape with his ramshackle bunch of prisoner pals in tow. 

 

Director Geoff Murphy had done some great sequels in the past such as Young Guns 2 and Under Siege 2, so I expected this to be a fairly decent affair, since the original Fortress is kind of an unsung classic. 

 

I was wrong. 

 

Whereas the original’s director, Stuart Gordon of Re-Animator fame, played things with his tongue firmly in cheek, Murphy films the farfetched proceedings in a fairly straightforward manner as if this crap was actually PLAUSIBLE.   

 

You know, I hate to keep comparing this movie to the original, but I’ll be damned if this thing doesn’t suffer from comparison.  For example, instead of having the ultra cool Jeffrey Combs for a cellmate, Lambert is saddled with the annoying gay dude from Sex and the City.  Instead of the menacing Kurtwood (Robocop) Smith for a warden, we get a snarky British creampuff.  And instead of having a reasonable budget like on the first film, it looks like they spent all of $47 on this one. 

 

The action sequences suffer greatly from the malnourished budget.  Consider the scene where Lambert tussles with a dude wielding a flamethrower.  The beginning of this scene has all the makings of the finest flamethrower action since The Exterminator 2, but things go down the toilet fast and the scene quickly fizzles out when the guy inexplicably catches himself on fire.  That’s right, there are no heroics on Lambert’s part; the dude burns himself to a crisp just because he’s clumsy.  That’s inexcusable. 

 

Lambert has never had any screen presence, charisma or acting ability to speak of, so why should he start now?  In some films his expressionless monotone demeanor works (check him out in the immortal The Hunted if you don’t believe me), but here he just kinda blends in with the scenery.  Pam Grier (obviously not riding the wave of success Jackie Brown was supposed to give her) plays the owner of the prison but she apparently left her trademark spunkiness at Tarantino’s house.  There’s also a gratuitous African American sidekick who still uses 20th century slang (“Girl, you better recognize my skills!”) even though the flick takes place in the “future”.

 

Even though the warden is pretty much a pansy, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t get some great dialogue like, “She’s a multiple breeder!”, and my personal favorite, “You are 26,000 miles from the nearest bus station!”

CHEEZY EXPLOITATION TRAILERS (2006) ***

 

The good folks at Cheezy Flicks have outdone themselves again, giving us another memorable collection of great grade B trailers.  This compilation is more or less divided into two halves.  The first half mainly focuses on Adults Only Road Show attractions of the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s like Assassin of Youth, She Shoulda Said No, and Sex Madness while the second act gives us nothing but the best from the drive-ins of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s including The Student Teachers, Swamp Girl and Reform School Girls. 

 

My favorites include Rat Fink, His Wife’s Habit, I Passed for White, Supervixens and Weekend with the Babysitter.  It was fun seeing a bunch of obscure trailers for the older flicks, but I wish more time was spent on the later era.  Oh well, there’s plenty of great stuff here.  Most of the hallmark genre categories are represented like the scare films (The Cocaine Fiends, Slaves in Bondage, Tomorrow’s Children, etc.), the biker movie (Bury Me an Angel, Angel’s Wild Women, The Glory Stompers, etc.), psychedelic flicks (The Trip, Psych-Out, etc.), sex change movies (Glen or Glenda and Let Me Die a Woman) and women in prison films (Black Mama, White Mama, Caged Heat, etc.).  Not to mention several Roger Corman flicks. 

 

If you’re a fan of exploitation movie trailer compilations, you can certainly do a lot worse.  Although not quite up to par with the stellar 42nd Street Forever series, any exploitation fan worth his salt will want to check this collection out.