December 21st, 2010

IT CAME FROM THE THRIFT STORE: CYBERCITY (1999) ** ½

The reason I spent a whole dollar on this movie was because of the video box.  Not because of the box per se but because of the tagline:  “Before The Matrix there was… Cybercity”.

 



I think it’s kinda hilarious too because there is no such Cybercity in the movie.  There is some Virtual Reality shit, but nothing remotely looking like a city.  Plus, this movie has Jack Shit to do with The Matrix.  It’s movies like this that made me want to start this column.

 

You know, it’s funny but, the last couple of movies that Came from the Thrift Store haven’t had any previews before or after the feature film, which is kinda disappointing.  I mean half the fun of watching bad movies on VHS is watching the trailers for equally bad movies.  Fortunately, Cybercity started off with three previews for primo piss-poor looking pictures.

 

The first trailer was for a movie called In the Dead of Space in which Michael Pare goes nuts and hijacks a space station.  This movie looks cheap as shit but it Pare looks pretty unhinged.  It also has a funny Alien-esque tagline:  “In space… there is nowhere to run!”

 

Desert Thunder was the second preview and it stars Daniel Baldwin and lots of stock footage from Navy Seals.  It’s basically all about Baldwin training several pilots for another war in the Middle East.  (I guess they predicted that one pretty accurately.)  This flick looks horrible but at least it has an awesome tagline:  “Behind every Desert Storm there lies a roar of thunder!”

 

The final trailer is for Dangerous Curves starring Robert Carradine and David Carradine.  It looks like an erotic thriller with a bit of the old Hitchcock “Innocent man on the run” subplots.  The preview doesn’t make the movie look very erotic and it probably sucks Hitch’s cock too. 

 

Then Cybercity began.  In the prologue, we learn that the world has turned to shit after a nuclear war, forcing Earth’s survivors to seek shelter underground.  Luckily for them, there’s a lot of sets left over from Demolition Man for them to live on.  After the end of the world, religious nuts fight over followers and will resort to assassination to keep the rival religions from getting more converts.  Miles (Rowdy Roddy Piper) is a preacher who hires a “Shepard” (READ:  Hitman), Dakota (C. Thomas Howell) to kill a chick.  Since she reminds Dakota of his ex-wife, he refuses to kill her and they go on the run.

 

Cybercity was produced by Video Vacuum Hall of Famer Roger Corman and it’s not one of the man’s best efforts.  I mean reviewing this movie is sort of a moot point.  The plot is almost indecipherable, the special effects are terrible, and the acting is all over the place.

 

Let’s look at C. Thomas Howell.  Here is a guy who started off working with the likes of Spielberg and Coppola and wound up doing crap like this for Corman.  Usually, guys get their start starring in movies for Corman and work their way up, but Howell decided to go the opposite route instead.  Although Howell isn’t a bad actor really (he gave what was probably the best performance in Red Dawn), he just flat out sucks in this flick.  Sporting a stupid looking goatee and heavily moussed hair, Howell speaks in a gravelly pseudo-Snake Plissken voice and generally embarrasses himself every step of the way.  He’s especially inept whenever he’s forced to spout his generic hard-boiled voiceover narration.  (“With any luck, this will kill me…. Hello sweet oblivion!”)  In a word, his performance is hilarious.  In two words, his performance is fucking hilarious.

 

Then there is David Carradine as a drunken ventriloquist who dresses like a pimp and talks like Colonel Sanders.  Whatever shortcomings the film has (and it has many), it features David Carradine as a drunken ventriloquist who dresses like a pimp and talks like Colonel Sanders.  If that doesn’t scream “Must See”, I don’t know what does.

 

Far and away the best performance of the movie comes from Rowdy Roddy Piper as the psychotic post-apocalyptic preacher.  Again, no matter how bad Cybercity is, I’ll never forget it just because of that.  Piper is one of those actors who just elevate anything he’s in.  He can star in crap like this and make it tolerable.  He can take a competent action flick like Tough and Deadly and make it an enormously fun flick.  And he can also star in an already perfect movie like They Live and turn it into a classic just by his very presence.  Here, he gives 110% playing the futuristic televangelist.  A lot of guys would’ve taken this shit role and half-assed it, but Piper attacks it with all of the ferocity and gusto of one of his Piper’s Pit appearances.

 

And like They Live, Cybercity’s plot revolves heavily around sunglasses.  These shades are more like a Virtual Reality helmet though and can show you computery home movies.  Probably the best part of the whole mess comes when Piper dons the glasses and watches himself dragging a giant cross against a computerized background.  Sure, Cybercity is mostly shit, but it’s moments like these that almost make the whole deal worthwhile.

 

Well, I was going to give this flick Two Stars because it’s rather shitty despite it’s moments of unbridled WTF fun.  Then I read over my review again and saw the words “David Carradine as a drunken ventriloquist who dresses like a pimp and talks like Colenel Sanders” and “Rowdy Roddy Piper as the post-apocalyptic preacher”.  Then I realized that I didn’t even tell ya about the leather clad lesbian kickboxers yet.  So any movie that’s got that going for it is worth at least ** ½ in my book.

 

The lesbian high priestess gets the best line of the movie when she tells Rowdy Roddy, “There’s a special place for you in Satan’s asshole!”

 

AKA:  Shepherd. 

 

The next It Came from the Thrift Store movie is another David Carradine flick.  It’s called Armed Response and it was directed by Fred Olen Ray and co-stars Lee Van Cleef, so it could go either way in terms of quality.  See you then.