November 9th, 2012

PREY OF THE JAGUAR (1996) **

Maxwell Caulfield stars as an ex-cop making a living as a construction worker. Trevor Goddard is a bad guy Maxwell put away years ago. When Goddard gets out of jail, he gets revenge by killing Caulfield’s wife and kid. Goddard also shoots Maxwell in the heart, but his life is saved by a conveniently placed flask. Caulfield then becomes a vigilante superhero named Jaguar (based on drawings his dead kid did) who fights crime and naturally settles the score with Goddard.

Prey of the Jaguar boasts a solid supporting cast. Linda Blair co-stars as a cop investigating the murder of Caulfield’s family and Stacy Keach plays his old boss. I also really liked the performance by Trevor Goddard. If he looks familiar to you, it’s probably because he played Kano in the Mortal Kombat movie. It’s a shame he passed away because he has a nice screen presence and probably would’ve made a good Bond villain (or at the very least a great henchman).

The film gets off to a solid start, but once Caulfield starts his Ninja training, the movie just sorta sits there. It also doesn’t help that his superhero suit is goofy as Hell. (He looks like a freaking extra from Power Rangers.) And he would’ve looked a lot more convincing if he wore a mask or something. Those Indian war paint streaks on his face just made him look ridiculous.

David DeCouteau, the man who made the immortal Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-A-Rama directed this. While he’s adept at making late night Skinamax fare and monster movies; Kung Fu superhero movies just aren’t his forte. Ultimately, the whole thing is just too lightweight (Jaguar uses tranquilizers on his prey) and the fight scenes are decidedly ho-hum, so it never quite works.

DEAD ON: RELENTLESS 2 (1992) **

Leo Rossi returns as detective Sam Dietz. This time out, he’s tracking a serial killer played by Miles (Cave Dwellers) O’Keeffe. He gets his rocks off by hanging people and writing Satanic messages on the wall. Dietz gets saddled with a slimy Fed (Ray Sharkey) to help him track the killer, but he may be holding a secret that could jeopardize Dietz’s investigation.

As with the first Relentless, all of the scenes of Dietz and his estranged wife (once again played by Meg Foster) slow the film down. Foster and Rossi aren’t necessarily bad, but their dialogue is perfunctory and it’s hard to really give a shit about their marital woes. Besides, their Lifetime Channel Original scenes take away from the business at hand; which is Miles O’Keeffe killing people. Director Michael (Cyborg 2) Schroeder does a fine job during the scenes of O’Keeffe stalking his victims, yet he handles all of the relationship scenes rather clumsily. Plus, the twist ending is pretty farfetched, which doesn’t help matters.

Miles O’Keeffe’s performance is the whole show here. He gives one of his greatest performances in this flick as the nearly silent, expressionless killer who strangles people without remorse and takes ice baths. O’Keeffe is quite intimidating and he gets a terrific fight scene at a construction site. If you’re an O’Keeffe fan, Relentless 2 will be worth the slog. If not, you’ll find Dead On to be off the mark.

AKA: Sunset Killer 2. AKA: Dead On. AKA: Relentless 2: Dead On.

DALEKS’ INVASION EARTH: 2150 A.D. (1966) *** ½

A warning. This review is coming from a non-Dr. Who fan. I think I’ve only seen one episode of Dr. Who in my entire life and that was way back when the frizzy haired guy was playing him. Before I watched this movie, I didn’t know a Dalek from a TARDIS. All I knew about this flick was that it had Peter Cushing in it and that seemed like an okay way to kill 80 minutes to me. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed the Hell out of Daleks’ Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.

A cop gets knocked on the head by a thief during a robbery. He goes to a telephone booth for help and discovers it’s actually a time machine created by Dr. Who (Peter Cushing). Together, they blast off to the year 2150 where the Daleks (killer trash cans) rule the ashes of the old world. They turn humans into slaves and plan to convert Earth into a giant spaceship to get them back home. It’s up to Dr. Who and a few resistance fighters to stop the Daleks and save the planet.

I bet the Whovians (or whatever they call Dr. Who fans) didn’t like the cop character, but I kinda dug him. He’s only there so Dr. Who can explain to him (and the audience) what the Hell is going on. (Example: What the Hell a TARDIS is.) So for someone like me (READ: A non-Who fan), his character was kinda crucial.

The Daleks in this movie are pretty fucking cool. They kinda look like R2-D2 on steroids. I don’t know how they stack up to the Daleks from the TV show (the Whovians don’t consider the Cushing movies canon), but I thought they were gnarly. I especially loved the way they got all uptight and screamed shit like “EXTERMINATE!” in a mechanized voice whenever things didn’t go their way.

If the film does have a flaw, it’s that Dr. Who isn’t on screen much in the second half. Once his family escapes the Daleks, they split up and the film cuts back and forth between him, his niece, his granddaughter, and the cop. Dr. Who does show up near the end though to figure out the Daleks’ weakness and kick their robot ass.

Cushing gives a wonderful performance as Dr. Who. I don’t know how he measures up to the other Dr. Whos (there’s been like a dozen of them), but he’s Peter Fucking Cushing, so I’d say he’s probably one of the best. He’s got a twinkle in his eye in this movie and you can clearly tell he’s having a ball. I did too. Maybe I should start watching the TV show.

AKA: Dr. Who: Daleks’ Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.

UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS: THE TRUE STORY OF FLYING SAUCERS (1956) **

Unidentified Flying Objects: The True Story of Flying Saucers is a pseudo-documentary meant to cash-in on the UFO paranoia that gripped the late 40’s and early 50’s. A reporter named Al Chop investigates during the dramatized portions of the film which supposedly recreates “actual” events. In the end, the audience gets to take a look a “top secret” footage of UFO’s (it’s repeated and slowed down and magnified a bunch of times) so you can make your own conclusions.

Some of this nonsense is pretty funny (like when a businessman drops a bunch of paper plates out of a plane that say ‘Eat at Joes’), but the bulk of this film is rather dull. Far too many of Chop’s interviews are boring and feature non-actors who are clearly reading from cue cards. The flick also goes overboard on the narration as even the simplest of dialogue scenes have the narrator butting in and telling the audience what the characters just said.

I do have to say that it was sorta cool to see a movie like this that was made in the midst of UFO hysteria. I’ve seen far too many fact-or-faked UFO documentaries that were made decades after the fact, so it’s neat to see a timely take on the material. Too bad the film often resembles a feature length version of a prologue to any given 50’s Sci-Fi movie.

I guess it was kinda sweet to see some recorded “evidence” of UFO’s (in color no less). Unfortunately, you have to wait until the end of the film to see it. And even then, the footage isn’t really revealing enough to make sitting through all the slow parts worthwhile. Besides, Unidentified Flying Objects: The True Story of Flying Saucers features far too many dull scenes of people looking at radar screens and/or talking to jet pilots over the radio to even make me even think of recommending it.

Best line: “I think this saucer incident is pure unadulterated bunk!”

AKA: UFO.