Saturday, January 31, 2009


SCIENTIFIC FACT LEARNED: This is the way the world ends: not with a bang but a wimp.*


Full-frontal frolicking, a kiwi kalamity, Bald-E, target practice Jesus, chimp-less truck driving, a ticked-off Maori, a post-apoc Jezebel, and an adage that we as Earthlings should finally come to terms with – Science: it just doesn’t work.

More details here.


It’s the end of the world as we know it, and a bald guy feels fine. But this follicle-challenged fellow isn’t a cute garbage-compacting robot; he’s Zac (Bruno Lawrence) and he has awakened into a world where everyone has disappeared from the face of the Earth. And it’s very quiet. Zac is a New Zealander scientist who was working on a project chillingly titled “Project Flashlight” which involved generating a web of energy that would encircle the Earth so that U.S. warplanes could remain in the air without refueling. But those evil Americans pulled a fast one on our gentle neighbors down under and didn’t inform them that the device may wipe out all life on the planet. Once this revelation dawns on Zac, he does what anyone would do when faced with the possibility that they are the last person on Earth. He goes on an apeshit shopping spree, prances around the city playing saxophone, uses the New Zealand railways has his own personal toy train set, wears a negligee in a soccer field, orates Hitler-esque speeches to a crowd of cardboard cut-out people, and shoots Jesus. And then he goes crazy. But Zac comes to his senses and realizes that he should find a new purpose, seek out other survivors, and atone for his involvement in extinguishing humanity. He settles in a nice beach house, invents gadgets, sets up 80s computers, and analyzes the sun’s strange activity, a signal that the worst is yet to come. To his utter surprise and amazement, he meets another survivor, Joanne (Alison Routledge), a vivacious redhead who is equally shocked to find him. The two share a hot/cold relationship while they search for survivors and continue to analyze the strange activity. Eventually, they hook up and their qualms about leeching off the remnants of humanity wear off once they find love. That is until a big dark man enters the picture to complicate and cock-block. Api (Pete Smith) is a gun-toting Maori who before the “Effect”, as they call it, was a murderer about to be killed by the murderee’s husband. But the three survivors are just glad to know they’re not alone, and start a ménage-a-trois investigatory relationship to find out what’s next in store. But everything’s not coming up roses or Joanne sandwiches. In his scientific data, Zac sees dire things yet to come, and when the three discover a disturbing trait they shared before the Effect took place, a decision must be made to save the Earth from destruction or join the others in oblivion.


The Quiet Earth is a cerebral post-apocalyptic thriller that’s a depressing but fascinating experience with scattered moments of elation, discovery, and confusion. The movie is a thoughtful exploration of what happens when the world ends, a revelation of our fragile hold on reality when societal constraints are absent, and an examination of the common bond among us as we struggle through existence. This New Zealand-produced science fiction movie isn’t so much concerned with typical sci-fi clichés such as monsters or aliens; its ideas are focused on aspects of the human condition: love, guilt, suicide, and our fate after death. And at a tight ninety minutes, it expands upon these ideas with more depth than a cinder-block thick novel or a four-hour cine-snoozefest. But the film isn’t without drama and thrills. Zac’s forlorn journey at the beginning of the movie is fascinating to watch and we feel with him as his sanity unravels through grief and unfathomable loneliness and guilt. We also experience the joy when he finds Joanne and the pair square off and ultimately find compassion and intimacy. The tension generated with Api’s arrival is palpable, and you begin to really feel for Zac, despite the revelation that he may have been the cause of the Effect. There are chilling moments in the movie, but none created by cheap camera tricks and sound effects. Instead, you are hypnotized by the overwhelming silence and near absence of a music score combined with the morose grayness of a New Zealand landscape. Fortunately, we are spared any goofy explanations for the cause of everyone’s disappearance, as any would spoil the moody atmosphere of mystery. And the enigmatic ending, though confusing, leaves you not only to ponder your place in the world, but also your destination at the end of it.

*Apologies to T.S. Eliot.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


SCIENTIFIC FACT LEARNED: They are among us, movies filled with fungus.


Whiney Teens of the Damned, Hunter and her Tylos, Lee Press-On Slashing Nails, an embarrassed Capt. Sheridan and Major Kira, a slumming John Carpenter regular, a constipated Arnie Becker, bukkake torture, Chumley the Evil Alien, E.T. dry-humpin’, and Clint’s little

More details here.


Thirty-year-old teenagers mope and brood about life in little Point Ridge, but besides the droopy-drawers angst, a mystery brews in their small town high school lives, something besides bubble gum, Ashton Kutcher, and V.D. Worried parents Hugh (Bruce Boxleitner) and Colette (Nana Visitor) are concerned about the safety of their son Daniel (Michael DiLallo) who’s about to turn eighteen. Daniel naturally feels they are being overprotective, but suspects that buried beneath their apprehension lies a secret waiting to be revealed by his meddling pals and their talking dog. Turns out Daniel may be on to something as his best friend the Black Kid (Garikayi Mutambirwa) has gone missing, little boys are eating mice, and the townspeople lick their chops whenever they see him. Meanwhile, a snoopy broad named Finley (Alison Eastwood) arrives in town to investigate the death of her father which has something to do with sordid practices of the town’s plastic surgeon Dr. Norbert (Corbin Bernsen). She discovers that the Doc is performing unnecessary and illegal experiments on his patients. But he’s actually just covering up the town’s dirty little secret: everyone’s got a tiny alien worm writhing inside them, and I don’t mean a date with Billy Barty. The aliens rely on the doctor to cover up their scaly skin, fulfill their need for constant injections of collagen, and make then look faaaaaaabuuulousssss! These pesky parasites control human bodies, occasionally feed on them, and run a secret society that holds a tight grip on the fates of everyone. Yes, insert outdated Bush joke here. So as Mom and Dad try to rebel against the alien threat, sexy alien agent June (Hunter Tylo) attempts to seduce Daniel who possesses some sort of significance to the worm people that is never fully explained, as go many things. Danny and his pals ultimately unravel the alien’s secret (hint: a buffet is included!), Finely has a slimey showdown with Norbert (hint: you’ll never watch L.A. Law the same way again), and I return the DVD in its sleeve to get the next piece of crap (hint: it will probably be another Sci Fi Unoriginal).


They Are Among Us is basically a low-rent They Live for the One Tree Hill crowd. And to top it off, the movie has the inept feel of an X-File episode from the agonizing final season. There’s not much here to dissect. Miscast actors way beyond the ages of their teen characters blab about their insecurities, drone mushy nonsense, and frown for the camera. Could this be science fiction for Emos? Does anyone still use that word anymore? Eastwood can’t act a lick to save her family name, Boxleitner and Visitor struggle to find the third act, and Bernsen looks glad just to be invited. Not even crazy old Buck Flowers can squeeze a chuckle out of this tedious movie. Tylo does have a sex scene, however, but it’s regulated to the standards of family hour lameness. The effects are OK, but the monster money shot wasn’t worth the 100 minute wait, 100 minutes filled with boredom, annoying characters, and more disinterested principals than the LAUSD. But They Are Among Us isn’t entirely hateful, there’s… oh wait, it is.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


SCIENTIFIC FACT LEARNED: The fate of the Earth lies in the product of Judd Nelson’s sperm.


Gigantic Shogun Warriors, sympathetic outer space boobies, obtuse but judgmental aliens, an unwanted but necessary Brat Pack reunion, the Chevy Suburbans of Doom, Soul-less Man, a teleporting key light, and the masterful direction of actor/auteur C. Thomas Howell (the “C” is for Cinema).

More details here.


A swarm of alien ships hurdles through space headed for Earth.


A giant robot hovers above downtown Los Angeles.


A hot naked chick wanders a forest free and easy.

Good … good!

C. Thomas Howell plays …

Ooo … Sorry, thanks for playing.

But I’m a trooper and I will persist.

A pair of aliens arrives on Earth with 666 giant robots known as Megaliths that station themselves at each major metropolitan area waiting for orders. But what they really do is look menacing and do nothing, thus keeping the budget below $150. So the aliens, one a hot cosmic stripper named Sky (Sinead McCafferty), and the other a doof the credits name “Man” (Bug Hall), walk around buck-naked in the wilderness outside Los Angeles. The Army descends upon the forest to hunt them down, and despite a display of electricity-harnessing power, they are captured with ease. Army dude Myron (C. Thomas Howell) takes pity on the aliens, in particular the hot broad and helps her escape Army headquarters/high school gym. L.A. is under siege and the giant robots have neutralized the power grid and rendered all vehicles powerless, thus marking the most productive day in the city’s history. The military launches nukes against the robot which prove as effective as a C. Thomas Howell directorial seminar. Sky informs Myron that she is here to assess Earth’s place in the universe, to judge our values, and appraise our worthiness for continued existence. She sees a kindred spirit in Myron, but unfortunately doesn’t take off her top. The clock is ticking to morning, when the robots will unleash a magnetic pulse that will cause the planet’s core to stop spinning and let loose chaos. While being chased around the city by agents and crazy people, Sky and Myron come across a man (Judd Nelson) and his pregnant wife who’s about to burst. Sky uses her alien power to help deliver the kid and keep the mother alive. She then realizes that Earthlings aren’t so easy to figure out, might be worth a damn, and spit up when shaken, so they race against time to stop the robots from destroying the planet, wiping out humanity, and keeping me awake.


The Day the Earth Stopped is the third in a trio (after Transmorphers and I Am Omega) of sci-fi films reviewed this month that were produced by The Asylum, the mockbuster-making studio of legend. This time the Asylum folks tackle the Keanu Reeves remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, but the mimicry attempt ends after the opening titles. Taking a cue from the bigger-budgeted release, Stopped is a ponderous, tedious, and boring exercise in filling time. And much like Stood Still, the movie tries to be a serious contemplation of ideas that are over its head and probably mine too since I still don’t know why everyone was so solemn, serious, and exasperated about half the time. Obviously, Fox understood because they actually sued the studio over the release of this film just before Day the Earth Stood Still was able to bore audiences nationwide. Absent is the expressionless, vacant, and robotic Reeves and in his place is the expressionless, vacant, robotic, but great-racked McCafferty. Howell is terrible and doesn’t receive any help from his supporting players which looked plucked from The Asylum’s version of Central Casting, the local Walmart parking lot. Like most Asylum efforts, the movie suffers from lack of action, lots of talking, many driving/parking scenes, and effective but sparsely utilized special effects. Nelson, despite second billing, does a walk-on where he looks concerned about his baby, sweats a few beads, and pisses off. Chalk one future favor from C. Thomas to J. Udd. I’m told that watching paint dry is more exciting than Reeves’ unfortunate remake Stood Still, and Stopped doesn’t fare any better. Maybe Asylum should stop the mockbuster schtick and devote their $150 a film to original crap before I get hauled off to a real asylum.

Monday, January 26, 2009


SCIENTIFIC FACT LEARNED: Why take a Tylenol when you can take a minuscule Norwegian kid?


Not an Abba song, not a Star Wars enemy, not a Broken Lizard comedy, not a Paul Verhoeven sci-fi movie, and not like anything you’ve ever seen before.

More details here.


Up in the happy land of Norway, a little boy named Simon visits his depressed, lonely Grandpa who still grieves over the loss of his crooning wife thirty years ago. Grandpa used to be a jazz musician known as “Blackbird” and wifey used to sing in his band. The poor old guy is sickly and ghastly pale due to the sorrow of losing his soulmate. That, or he’s just Norwegian. Simon does a Calvin and Hobbes bit where he talks to his talking neurotic teddy bear that complains and dispenses useless advice that doesn't involve fabric softener.

Simon learns about his Grandma, her beautiful singing voice, and her tragic death that nearly destroyed Grandpa. One night, Grandpa is moaning, groaning, and writhing in bed like a post-midnight run to Los Betos. But his problem is not as simple as the enchilada combo. His emotional state is making his physical state worse and Simon is befuddled as to how to help him. So why call an ambulance when you have a magical teddy bear? The bear whips up mystical potion that reduces Simon to microbe size. Simon then, ahem, enters his Grandpa to search for the cause of his agony, which turns out to be this guy:

Body Monster or Bespin Spy?

Simon encounters weird ass shit like talking taste buds who want to lick him, saliva washes, and Grandpa’s halitosis. He meets Napster*, a young, bullyish white blood cell who joins Simon on his quest to find out what’s wrong with Grandpa. Pursued by the disease monster, they make their way up and down his esophagus, make a side trip to his bile-filled stomach, and eventually encounter cute red blood cell Alveole, who’s just hanging around his mucky lungs. And if that’s not enough fuel for your nightmares, take a look at Grandpa’s brain:

The monster catches up with the kids and Alveole (here’s where the hard science kicks in) does an interpretative dance to distract it while the boys make their escape. The kids rummage around Grandpa’s bladder and anus searching for way to his heart. (I can’t believe I just typed that.) Eventually, they arrive at the heart and discover that the key to solving part of Grandpa’s problem is to release the Princess of the Heart who dwells in his inner aorta waiting for a heroic deed to release her from solitude, and thus healing Grandpa’s emotional pain. They also discover that his physical pain stems from kidney stones that can only be destroyed with water. So the gang arms themselves with jugs of water, takes a dip in a pool of piss, and prepares themselves for a battle of intestinal proportions.

*In the English dubbed version I watched, Simon keeps calling this kid “Napster” or “Mapster”, but IMDB lists him as “Globule”.


I want to say that there’s almost no way to describe this kiddy sci-fi fantasy. But the only words that spring to mind are “fucking” and “weird”. Body Troopers is a bizarre little Norwegian nugget that’s possibly the most disturbing movie I’ve seen in a long time. It’s either one of the most misguided attempts at a charming fantasy or a foreign artifact that only has cultural significance to its Norwegian roots. Or maybe it’s just a trippy-ass movie.

But what’s obvious is that everyone takes the proceedings dead-serious, from the expressionless Simon to the guy playing the Appendix. There are some cute moments such as the appearance of the Secretion Agent, a cloak and dagger type character who tips the kids off to the source of the pain and the scene with the Bile Queen, a witchy lady who dispenses acidy guilt after eating sweets. Just try to keep your lunch down after witnessing what she does to a worker who disobeys her. Curiously, there is no appearance of talking farts or poop because right then and there I would have declared this a masterpiece. The sets and costuming are fairly impressive, recalling Lynch’s Dune and something out of a gothic Alice in Wonderland. To the best of my knowledge is movie isn't readily available, but I'm sure you can scrounge around the web and find a copy. Body Troopers is perfect for those who love twisted kids’ tales, those who can’t afford medical school, and those that enjoy LSD.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


SCIENTIFIC FACT LEARNED: Not even science can explain those wacky, wacky Japanese.


A fruity Ultraman, headshot-activated armor, King Gaywad, tubby Stormtroopers, tokusatsu gore, 80s music video dream sequences, Herena Bonham Cartel, and too ... many ... Jesus ... jokes.

More details here.


The futuristic, warehouse-riddled city of Jesustown is a perfect place, free of crime, disease, and other social problems. But life isn’t as great as it sounds in the city named after my gardener. This messianic burg is ruled by The Parliament led by King Girjev (Yasuaki Honda), a powerful and aloof but unfunkadelic fruitcake dressed in white frilly clothing and angel wings who may be a little off his feathery rocker.

He commands an army of ruthless police with a taste for blood and three flashlights for eyes, he lobotomizes anyone who breaks the law or opposes the government, and he is aided by his faithful robot fighter Mikhail (who I can only assume is M.I.K.H.A.I.L., but don’t ask me to figure out what it means).

A group of armed crooks breaks into a vault somewhere on the outskirts of Jesustown, maybe near Buddhaburg, and finds a man chained in a cell. When they free the man, they unleash the hellish power of Hakaider (Yuji Kishimoto), an indestructible robot with a motorcycle and a turtle shell helmet.

Hakaider immediately heads towards Jesustown and that means bad things are in store for King Girjev, who’s busy watching his lobotomized victims play with Legos and swooning over Mikhail’s mechanical package. Hakaider raises all hell when he arrives in Jesustown but Girjev’s forces are able to neutralize him. He’s rescued by criminal cutie pie Kaoru (Mai Hosho) and her band of merry outlaws. Recently, Kaoru has been having prophetic dreams of black knight coming to her rescue and taking her away from the Parliament’s corruption.

Unfortunately, Girjev again catches up with Hakaider and his new friends and offs them with a million bullets. But Hakaider, the predecessor to Mikhail who was banished because he displayed tendencies of free will, isn’t going down so easily. He must first confront Mikhail, Girjev’s other terrifying robot monstrosities, and Girjev himself, a villainous, feathery pistol-packing demon who makes Michael Jackson look like Chuck Norris. Then, and only then will Hakaider prove that he is a friend to all children.


Most American audiences might associate the Japanese costumed-adventure shows called tokusatsu with Mighty Morphing Power Rangers. And most Americans might assume that these shows are purely for kids. But the fact is that tokusatsu is an enormously popular genre in Japan with dozens of such shows, movie spin-offs, and thousands of toys. Hakaider, the brooding motorcycle-riding hero of a futuristic world, was the star of one such show, though I’m led to presume that it aired under a different title on Japanese TV. His first film spin-off is directed by Keita Amemiya, a man responsible for many crazy action-fantasy films such as Zeiram, Kamen Rider J, and Moon Over Tao, all of which at some point will be reviewed on another themed-month of Tremendo Time (hint, hint).

Hakaider is similarly crazy and action-filled, but hampered a bit by some silly over-seriousness. An attempt at a jab at Christianity is made, as there’s plenty of religious imagery such as twisted Christ and Virgin Mary statues to be found as well as the obvious Jesustown setting. But if Amemiya wanted to explore such weighty subjects in a genre film, he should have expanded more on the idea of free will, Hakaider’s primary conflict. He’s not presented here beyond a typical silent but deadly action hero, and his drive for vengeance seems a bit hollow. Missed opportunities aside, the costuming is unique and well-done, and reversing the archetypal white=good and black=bad was a fairly sporting idea. Although most of the supporting cast is forgettable, they all put in serviceable performances and are backed up by fast-paced action. Hakaider is a movie that could have brought depth to a genre plagued by the kiddie factor, but in its defense, it’s still a pretty good watch, a decent Japanese sci-fi actioner that’s well done and relatively satisfying.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


SCIENTIFIC FACT LEARNED: In order to solve the riddle of Atlantis, we must sink more Russian submarines!


An Atlantean Holocaust, toy store of exploding props, Mohammed the Muslim Ass-Kicker, TV actor target practice, West Hollywood flame-throwers, Rico Soavi, film score by Oliver Onions (name not made up), a bunch of kabuki bikers, Aquaman’s trashed crib, and a disappointing number of zombies (zero).

More details here.


Miami, 1994 (the future). Mike (Chris Connelly) and Wash (Tony King) are guns-for-hire who kidnap old guys for money. After completing a job, they travel to Trinidad on a boat to spend their well-earned pay, but a strange storm veers them off-course. Meanwhile, strange goings-on at a off-shore oil drilling platform hamper the efforts of a scientific team trying to raise a sunken Russian submarine from the depths of the briny deep. The team has recruited hotty archaeologist Dr. Cathy Rollins (Gioia Scola) to decipher the markings of a strange artifact found near the sub. In about ten minutes, Rollins determines that the artifact is a relic of fabled lost continent Atlantis and may lead to evidence of its continued existence on the ocean floor. When the submarine is raised, it unleashes a wave of radiation that enables a peculiar giant object with it that nearly destroys the platform. Mike and Wash are able to rescue the survivors including Rollins, a chopper pilot, and some other guy. They make their way to an island nearby and find that the residents have been tortured and killed, homes and business have been burned to the ground, and all the local Hot Topics, S&M outlets, and Sephoras have been looted by these guys:

Who are led by this guy:

Fishbowl Head (Ivan Rassimov)

The mysterious, armed, and stylish warriors are known as the Interceptors, resurrected inhabitants of Atlantis come back to reclaim their world. They pursue the survivors and corner them in a burned-out building where Mike and Wash knock them off one by one with napalm and peashooters. Unfortunately, Fishbowl Head kidnaps Dr. Rollins, killing most of the survivors in the process. About twenty to thirty minutes of non-stop action soon follows including shoot-outs, wild chases, and some impressive stuntwork.

Mike and the gang find a helicopter and pursue Fishbowl to the original site of the platform. There, they find the island of Atlantis resurfaced, along with the Russian sub whose nuclear warheads have been armed. Now, here’s where the angle gets complicated. I’m not sure how or why this happens, but Rollins has been brainwashed to follow Fishbowl’s command and attempts to resurrect the dead spirits of Atlantis and prepare the world for their return. Not sure how much mystical training she got in archaeology school, but sure. Let’s go with that. So not only do our heroes have to deal with bloodthirsty punks, nuclear missiles, and sunburn, they have to face down the dreadful fishbowl-clad villain and not giggle to death in the process.


Raiders of Atlantis (aka Atlantis Inferno) was directed by Ruggero Deodato who made the infamous also jungle-set Cannibal Holocaust, a beloved hallmark of Italian horror. Less serious than the gruesome Holocaust, Raiders is similarly gruesome and violent, but it’s also an insane action-packed ride with all the narrative comprehension of a mental house talent show. The movie sets its ambition extraordinarily high, trying to absorb all the elements of popular films of the time including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Road Warrior, and sure, why not throw in First Blood in there too. Most of the time it succeeds because the action is well-executed with crazy stunts, decent gore, and wonderful decapitations. Atlantis isn’t the only mystery in the film; we also have to struggle with figuring out where characters are going in such a hurry, why are plot points dropped, and why is no one able to explain anything. We are also left with many unanswers questions. Why does 1994 look just like 1983? Who exactly are the leather-clad Interceptors? How did they learn to drive three-wheeled motorcycles and helicopters? Why do they die so easily? What the hell was that ending all about? Where can I get a machine gun that never runs out of bullets? Why does that guy wear a fishbowl on his head? Fortunately the pace is quick because you’ll get into trouble if you start to think about what the hell is going on. Like most Italian exploitation films of the 70s and 80s, Raiders of Atlantis is a delirious concoction of deadly action, goofy mystical hookum, and a delightful assault on all your senses.

But best of all, it’s got Fishbowl Head.

Friday, January 23, 2009

KRONOS (1957)

SCIENTIFIC FACT LEARNED: Everything is regal-ier in Regalscope!


Dr. Buff Hairychest, clenched-anus scientists, the discount Lauren Bacall, Dr. George Jetson, lots of made-up words, a good ol’ stock footage montage, the cosmic horror of a giant walking 50s icebox, Floyd the Barber-Psychiatrist, and the Unstoppable-ish Might of the Mexican Air Force!

More details here.


A truck-driving hayseed traversing the Arizona desert spots an object from space falling to Earth. Said hayseed investigates and is promptly zapped by the object, which seemingly takes control of him. He drives to a remote desert military outpost and knocks out the one-man security force with a wrench. He seeks out head scientist Dr. Eliot (John Emery) and the space spirit transfers itself to the scientist's body. Meanwhile, another scientist team made up of Dr. Gaskell (Jeff Morrow) and Dr. Culver (George O'Hanlon) spot another, much larger object heading towards Earth, an asteroid which they name M47. With the aid of intelligent computer SUSIE (Synchro Unifying Sinometric Integrating Equitensor) and non-intelligent lab assistant Vera (Barbara Lawrence), they nonchalantly announce to the press that the end of the world is near. The world braces for an apocalyptic event, but instead M47 falls into the Pacific Ocean, just off the coast of Mexico and disappears. Back in California, the possessed Eliot is up to no good and appears to have a link with M47. Gaskell, Culver, and Vera head down to the crash site to investigate the object and make fun of Mexican food. A few days pass and the object rises from the sea and has transformed into a gigantic box with malevolent impulses.

Insert Madonna joke here.

The box moves on its own, starts smashing stuff, and is impervious to weapons, including an A-bomb. Gaskell and Culver name the box “Kronos” and theorize that it is expert in “anthropic conversion”, the transformation of energy into matter, and that whatever sent it to Earth means to drain our resources. Much like any big box. While Mexicans get flattened into spicy flapjacks, Kronos heads north to Los Angeles to suck up power, devour nukes, and snack on even more Mexicans. But our plucky science team faces the evil mechanizations of Eliot who may hold the fate of the Earth in his hands! Ooooooooooo … Eliot.


Kronos could have been a really good science fiction film, as there’s potential of constructing an incomprehensible terror out of a mysterious, indestructible object that defies human understanding and logic. It would have been the kind of absurd cosmic horror that H.P. Lovecraft excelled in, stretching the limits of man’s conception of reality by introducing an omnipotent horror of hellish proportions that reduced our place in the universe to less of a gnat. And the image of a simple box, void of compassion, destroying in the blink of an eye, reveals the unfathomable coldness of technology. Unfortunately, the movie fails to develop such an interesting idea, and degenerates into a simple 50s sci-fi monster movie. The script is for the most part silly, further hampered by pseudo-serious leading man Morrow of This Island Earth fame, an empty-headed love interest, and the painful comic relief. The special effects are pretty much what you’d expect – cheap, but sometimes effective. There are some hysterical moments in the movie from the unintentionally awkward romancing to the brutal fake newscasts to the uncomfortable bean-eating stereotypes. But the real star of the picture is Kronos itself, who’s not given nearly enough screen time to emphasize full potential despite its cartoon legs. There’s a cool scene where it absorbs all the energy of an A-bomb, which turns out to be a decent use of stock footage, the life’s blood of B-movie making. Kronos is a standard 50s paranoid sci-fi flick that tries to mimic better movies such as the original Day the Earth Stood Still, Godzilla, and War of the Worlds. If you are fan of this period of sci-fi, it should not be missed, otherwise steer clear from ten-story boxes that kill. Especially if you’re Mexican.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


SCIENTIFIC FACT LEARNED: There is life after Star Wars. An afterlife.


Luke Badmoviestarrer, Cheech Ghandi, Jeeves-Bot, the little putt-putt plane that could, a World-Ending Wind that isn’t Rush Limbaugh, Sorry-eri, Hagrid the Pimp, and Game Over, Man!

More details here.


After an unknown apocalyptic event, the Earth has been blow-dried to a crispy brown by a cruel wind known as the Slipstream (hence the title). In these desert wastelands, prop-plane pilot/cop Trasker (Mark Hamill) and his partner Belitski (Kitty Aldridge) hunt down a murder suspect (Bob Peck) down a rocky canyon. After capturing their prey, they take in a nice lunch of cat gut salad down at the local post-apoc diner where they meet fast-talking crook Matt (Bill Paxton). Matt learns of the high bounty for the man and tricks Trasker into handing him over. Matt and the poetry-spouting man take off in his plane with Trasker and Belitski hot on their trail. When Matt tries to unravel the man’s backstory, the man, who Matt names Byron, admits guilt, seems unremorseful and detached, and has creepy eyes.

The fugitives make their way to Matt’s pad, a cave where rotten pimp Montclaire (Robbie Coltrane) tries to muscle his way in to Matt’s newfound profit opportunity. But Matt and Byron make their escape and come across a tribe of native people called the Wind Cult led by wild-haired Avatar (Ben Kingsley). Byron then begins to display amazing healing powers and cures the sick and blind members of the tribe. Despite the miracles, he is branded as evil and is sent away on a giant kite. Trasker and Belitski catch up with them, but Trasker is seemingly killed while trying to bring down Byron, who is revealed as a renegade robot who killed his master. A robot with Jesus powers. OK, the future’s not looking so bad after all. Belitski befriends Matt and Byron and the three make their way to a museum transformed into an oasis where the exceedingly rich, including a fatuous Cornelius (F. Murray Abraham), live in luxury while the rest of the world sucks sand. Both Byron and Matt find love/one-night-stands, and the post-coital robo-butler Byron contemplate his newfound humanity and compassion. But Belitski double-crosses them and all of a sudden Trasker is back from the dead, blonder then ever.

In the end, it will boil down to the characters making a crucial decision. Byron must make a choice between answering for his crimes and true happiness. Trasker and Belitski must choose between taking Byron by force or collecting a paycheck and getting the hell out of this movie. And Matt must choose between a shower or calling Jim Cameron back.


Slipstream is a post-apocalyptic chase movie that attempts to be something more by injecting philosophical message about the nature of good and evil. It’s a nice ambition, but the movie doesn’t have a clue as how to pull it off. Despite a good beginning, the movie becomes just a collection of segments where the main characters drift from place to place, encounter additional quirky characters, and bicker endlessly. But the movie can boast a hell of a cast:

Hamill and Peck are the standouts in the film. Hamill is unbridled cheese, perhaps preparing himself for the Guyver series that would soon follow, but he’s also intense and genuinely interested in the role of tough guy cop. Peck as the robotic Byron is also solid, bringing an intensity, seriousness, and erudite air to the role of sensitive robot with a dark past. Everyone else is pretty much phoning it, including a cringing Kingsley, a lost Abraham, and a totally baked Paxton. Another peculiarity in the movie is a rousing score. It’s way too loud, epic, and boisterous for such a slight movie. The only time it quiets down is a flying scene where the Paxton character peeps on a woman doing nude yoga in a cave to the tune of some 80 sheet metal ballad. Slipstream is hysterical for all the wrong reasons, and the best reasons to see this movie is to laugh at the ham-fisted performances, witness the beauty of Turkish cave-dwellings, drop your jaw at the numbing dialogue, and blow dry your hair.

P.S. Take a look at the DVD case at the top left corner. None of the actors appear in this movie as they do on the box. Hilarious. If you can name the movies where those pictures were Photoshopped from, send me an email by February 1st, 2009 and you will be rewarded!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


SCIENTIFIC FACT LEARNED: Computerized mapping of organs and appendages coupled with cloning cell technology will revolutionize transplant medicine and limb replacement. Plus, it'll make a great rack.


The Lame of Death, a Jack Benny-less Don Wilson, Johnny Roast Beef, Master of Confetti Comedy, a superb boobies-to-action ratio, Capt. Not-Ossie Davis, violence-free Los Angeles (it's true -you don't have to pay for it around here), Stella Stevens for Windows, and a virtual no-shirt, you all.

More details here.


In the direct-to-video future, Las Vegas has become its own state with its own Border Patrol and has emerged as a haven for virtual reality fanatics who flock to refurbished casinos featuring the latest in martial arts and sex fantasies. Border cop David Quarry (Don “The Dragon” Wilson) is fond of the former, where he encounters a gauntlet of tubby to sorta gay opponents culminating in the final boss level where he faces Dante (Michael Bernardo), the ultimate shirtless fighter with the voice of Worf. Meanwhile, a scientist who works for the corporation that develops the virtual realities discovers a way to bring the personalities to life including popular cybersex star Liana (Athena Massey) and dominatrix Greta (Dawn Ann Billings). The organ-playing CEO sees an opportunity for massive profit and sets up a meeting with prospective buyers in Los Angeles. So being a powerful megalithic corporation, the company transports the girls in a beat-up 1950s Army jeep without a roof. Quarry and his partner are out drinking and get a call of suspicious activity on the border that doesn't involve lousy burritos. His partner gets killed by company henchmen and Quarry promises his widow to track down the killer. Back at the lab, Dante has gained self-awareness, brought himself to life, and becomes the Siegfried and/or Roy of martial arts. He heads to L.A. to find Liana, his love in the virtual world and to find a way to bring his other buddies to life. Quarry tracks down Liana and the two escape danger, fall in love, and hump. While Quarry is able to bring the CEO and his sex clone ring down, he still has the indestructible Dante to deal with. And it will be a battle of virtual proportions and no walk-throughs, cheat codes, or button mashing will be allowed.


When you can't get Jackie Chan, when Steven Seagal won't return your phone calls, when Jeff Speakman is too busy being perfect, when Michael Dudikoff is out ninja-ing out in America somewhere, when Richard Grieco has smoldered himself into oblivion, you can always call on good ol' Don “The Dragon” Wilson to fill your low budget action movie leading man needs. That's probably what producer/director Andrew Stevens did with his spectacularly atrocious Virtual Combat (aka Grid Runners). Stevens is best known for doing other things, mainly being a former douchey actor who has found a new a career making loads of direct to DVD crap. I guess he missed some of his former pretty boy glory as he vainly inserted a picture of himself as a virtual lover in the Las Vegas scenes. Holy Hell. Wilson is reliable as the unflappable martial arts tough guy, but it's Bernardo that steals the show in this movie. He's a big shirtless greased-up cheeseball who'd probably stretch pro wrestling standards. Other than that, the movie is pretty bad. But maybe Stevens was a visionary. In the film, people walk around, talk into, and interact with giant PDAs that look like drive-in speakers (not that anyone will remember what those looked like) just like they do today. Truly a Nostradamus of the DTV crowd. Virtual Combat is a dumbed-down version of Virtuosity, if such as thing is possible, filled with leg kicks that I could block from my living room, virtual clones that leave a soapy residue, massive heaving breasts, and one pearl of wisdom to ponder:

In the battle between laser guns, helicopters and a six-shooter, the six-shooter always wins.

Monday, January 19, 2009


SCIENTIFIC FACT LEARNED: If we are to survive the future, we’re going to need balls. Glowing balls.


A post-apoc Pappy O’Daniel, Tony Hawk the Slayer, non-hippy Eco-Warriors, another sorry fate for Ursa, the genius Deluise, Lukas Haas no choice but to be in this movie, a breakin’ Solarblacky, a pre-Heroes embarrassment less embarrassing than Heroes, a glowing soccer ball that out-acts everyone, and 2121 Jump Street.

More details here.


In the future, there will be no water, no government, and no freedom. But, there’ll be plenty of available rollerskating parks.

Here, the Solarbabies, a ragtag team of teen rollerskating rebels, flourish. The gang includes leader Jason (Jason Patric), whiney girl Terra (Jamie Gertz), brainiac Metron (James LeGros), brute Tug (Peter Deluise), dancin’ token Rabbit (Claude Brooks), and cute kid Daniel (Lukas Haas). These children of tomorrow are kept in prison-like orphanages ruled by a benevolent caretaker (Charles Durning) but are nonetheless spoon-fed the fascist ideals of the Protectorate, a totalitarian state ruled by the remnants of the great Eco War, and I ain’t talking Umberto. One day while fleeing the E-Police, Daniel stumbles upon a glowing ball that seems to be intelligent, powerful, and able to make it rain indoors. The ball identifies itself as Bodhi, a mystical object from outer space that may hold salvation for the Earth.

Their efforts to crack the mysteries of Bodhi are met with the vile mechanizations of the villainous Grock the Scriptor (Richard Jordan), a cross between a Gestapo and Bison.

And besides Grock, the Solarbabies must contend with mad scientist Shandray (Sarah Douglas) and Evil 80s Blonde Kid.

Bodhi is stolen by sullen loner Darstar (Adrian Pasdar), another mystical character, one of the last of a native people known as the Chicani who communicate with birds and no longer drive low-riders.
Darstar recognizes the significance of Bohdi and travels to see the last of his people in hopes the power can be contained. The Solarbabies escape the orphanage to seek out Bohdi and are pursued by Grock, the E-Cops, bounty hunters, and a less than 100-minute running time. They run into Darstar at a post-apoc costume party, but by that time Grock has taken the Bohdi to Shandray to destroy it. Lost in the desert, the gang meets up with a peaceful group of Lawrence of Arabia enthusiasts.

They recuperate, wash their socks, and crank the rollerskating volume to 11 as they seek out Grock, take down Shandray, rescue Bohdi, and save the moisturizer-less Earth from flaky skin.


Maybe this whole month should have been called “Post-Apoc-Tremendo” instead of Planet Tremendo because all I’m running into is a smelly run of post-apocalyptic thrillers. But is my so-called random selection revealing the fact that maybe that’s all there is to sci-fi fare of the last few decades? Well, no, but let’s look at the bigger picture. The Eighties of my youth featured a slate of teen-oriented sci-fi flicks including Explorers, SpaceCamp, and My Science Project that were moderate to non-successes. We also saw the more thriving trend of desert-set post-apocalyptic cheapos that mimicked The Road Warrior such as 2020 Texas Gladiators, Survival Zone, and The New Barbarians amongst a thousand others. And then you had the mini-phenomenon that coupled both genres and threw in rollerskates and field hockey equipment in Rollerboys, Roller Blade, and today’s movie Solarbabies, a Mel Brooks-produced piece of schlock that features no laughs, no excitement, and no farting cowboys.
But we do get a young Patric looking heroic, a break-dancing scene with Bohdi, and the Deluise deep thought expression. The movie is mostly for kids, despite a few violent parts. And it’s mostly harmless, but not very good. But it’s probably eons more entertaining than its contemporary teen-post-apoc-desert-set-rollerskating contemporaries. There’s little to no character development, but why should there be? The villains are cookie-cutouts, the heroes are cardboard-cutouts, and there’s just not enough rollerskating!

Well, at least it’s not Waterworld

Sunday, January 18, 2009


SCIENTIFIC FACT LEARNED: Steampunk doesn’t involve listening to The Ramones at a spa.


The Punisher’s quick paycheck, holy Hellboy, deadly little Miho, a chip off the old Doctor Who, being John Malkovich phoning it in, Computerized Gore Imagery, and the most black-white-and-bleak movie ever.

More details here.


Jeez, another gloomy, depressing post-apocalyptic story. Believe me, I’m selecting these things at random; there is no rhyme and certainly no reason. Anyway, a giant malevolent do-hickey from outer space landed centuries before recorded history with intent to transform humans into mutants for some unknown reason. A great battle waged between the aliens and a tribe of warriors that united against the menace. When the humans won the war and drove them away, the aliens’ giant war machine was buried deep within the Earth. A sect of monks documented these events as “The Chronicles” and has kept this war secret, but centuries in our future when the world is divided into corporate states engaging in a global war, the alien menace resurfaces to reclaim its prey. The aliens sport sword hands and possess incredible strength and speed and attack a squad led by Major Mitchell Hunter (Thomas Jane). Again, no Joe Don Baker. He loses most of his men including his John Wayne-channeling pal Capt. Rooker (Sean Pertwee) in the attack. Brother Samuel (Ron Perlman), a leader in the Chronicles sect, enlists Rooker and other elite soldiers including Asian hotty Duval (Devon Aoki). The diverse team of ethnic misfits (the Mexican guy says stuff like “Aye aye aye!” and “tu mama” and other crap) descends into the alien stronghold in the hopes of destroying the machine. Down in the CGI carving in the Earth, they encounter alien armies, chop off a few heads, descend elevator shafts for half an half, kung fu fight like they’re under water, and answer the question as to why this movie took a year to get released.


Unoriginal, hard to see, and humorless, The Mutant Chronicles is I guess a long-awaited adaptation of a role-playing game I’ve never heard of, not that I’m into role-playing in anyway imaginable. Well, there is one way, but I won’t divulge details of my costly Saturday night indulgences. Anyway, the movie is mostly a dreary steampunk/horror affair filled with unlikable heroes, big videogame guns, and an uninteresting villain derivative of the Blade movies. One highlight of the movie was a visibly embarrassed John Malkovich as a leader of one of the megacorporations mumbling his way through his brief appearance which recalled Ben Kingsley's red-faced turn in Uwe Boll’s awful BloodRayne. The production values are blah as this independently-produced, modestly budget movie is almost completed filmed against a green screen and loaded with muddy CGI but semi-decent gore. The ear-ache inducing script is courtesy of Philip Eisner, the man who brought you the appalling Event Horizon, the only bad movie the real Paul Anderson has ever made. Not surprisingly, the movie doesn’t go into any of the background history that may have made the story worthwhile such as the formations of the nation-corporations, religion’s place in this chaotic world, or the much more interesting premise of a non-technological war against an advanced civilization. It’s just another customary, effortless adaptation of a game that’s probably a thousand times more interesting, despite getting nerds involved. Mutant Chronicles is drab and murky, permanently stuck in a world like that first Macintosh commercial, only there’s no hot Olympian swinging shot-putter to save us.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


SCIENTIFIC FACT LEARNED: Everybody have fun tonight, everybody transmorph tonight.


Frozen pop hero, a sexbot building Nerdlinger, a video store of rip-offs including Aliens, Transformers, Matrix, X-men, Terminator, and Demolition Man, casting from the line at the DMV, a sexy android that does nothing, hot space lesbo action, score samples from the Battlestar Galactica theme, the Whammo Frisbees of Death, and these ain’t yer Grandpa’s squealing robots.

More details here.


Doesn’t anything nice ever happen in the future? An invasion of intelligent transforming toasters kills most of Earth’s inhabitants. The bread-burning alien suckers, called “Z-bots”, come in all shapes and sizes and seek to wipe out all humankind for unknown reasons. Decades later a small, heavily armed, heavily mascara-ed team are humanity’s last chance to reclaim the planet. They plan a last chance offensive against the Z-bots who look like refugees from a 1992 Sega game.

After the heroes’ initial attack fails, they decide to resurrect a fallen warrior from years past – Mitchell (Matthew Wolf). Yes, our hero’s name is Mitchell and while I was praying for Joe Don Baker, I got some scruffy looking dude. Oh, and he’s got a pal named Itchy (Griff Furst) and then again I prayed for a blue homicidal mouse, but my dreams were dashed. They are commanded by a beehive-haired bitch and her squad of similarly bitchy female soldiers. And they all have weird eyes.

As if their situation wasn’t dire enough, the female grunts can’t get along with the pilot grunts, Mitchell still has feelings for his long-lost girlfriend Karina (Amy Weber) who’s with someone else (maybe the beehive chick?), and genius robot-designer Dr. Alextzavich (Michael Tower) reveals a horrifying secret about Mitchell with dire ramifications for the mission. Despite all the bickering, lesbian tension, and female android ogling, the team saddle-up for their final battle against the Z-bots, their Statue of Liberty-sized masters, and the attention span of anyone bored enough to stick with this turkey.


Ah, the 80s. How I miss those afternoons coming home from school, grabbing some Plingles Chips, a tasty Blinkie, and a Mr. Pibb and settling in for an afternoon watching cartoons. First up was G.I. Moe, A Real Canadian Hero, followed by The Smurks, those cute and pesky purple wood-chewing pals. And then Hee-Hee Man the barbaric comedian, Thundercoons, and the Super Duper Pals, from the pages of Marble Comics. But the pinnacle of entertainment was the Transmorphers, an action-packed hour of laser blasts, robo-drama, mighty transmorphin’, and mild seizures.

Transmorpheeerrrrrrrsssss … additional material that encounters the vision!

The little studio that could The Asylum once again jumped ahead of Hollywood and took advantage of Transmorpher mania that swept the land in the summer of ’07. You’ll find no Shia Labeouf whining, Michael Bay meddling, or Spielberg tax sheltering here! Much like the cartoon, the movie is jam-packed with nonsensical time filler, long stretches of nothing happening, and screechy human characters. Oh, the memories!

My only big problem with this movie was the exclusion of Transmorpher regulars including Autobob leader Bobtimus Primal, evil Liar-tron head Megakorn, and wisecracking Beatle-borg, the transmorphing Yugo voiced by Ringo Starr. But I guess writer-director Leigh Scott was placed in a tough spot bringing this animated Belgian classic to life, just like he did with never told before giant monkey tale King of the Lost World, the totally not familiar fantasy Dragon, and the no-really-it’s-not-a-amusement-park-ride buccaneer epic Pirates of Treasure Island. I felt fortunate to get a copy of this movie as there was only 750 left at the rental store, so consider yourself lucky that I’m able to fully recommend this really-not-ripped-off, entirely non-copied, and so not anything like forty sci-fi films of the last twenty years.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my toaster is pointing and giggling at me.

Friday, January 16, 2009


SCIENTIFIC FACT LEARNED: The briny deep looks a lot like my Grandma’s 70s aquarium.


The Abysmal, Voyage to the Bottom of Boredom, 20,000 Yawns Under the Sea, Das Snooze, The Hunt for Red Ambien, Dozing Nemo, Sleep Star Six, and Crimson Snore.

More details here.


Up in the North Atlantic, the OceanLab underwater complex conducts science experiments that will one day enable Man to develop the ocean floor, build cities, and open the first deep sea Starbucks. Aboard the research ship Triton, OceanLab’s lifeline to the dry world, Dr. Andrews (Walter Pigeon) and his assistant Leah (Yvette Mimieux) communicate with OceanLab staff, analyze data, and manage a team of crack divers. Head diver MacKay (Ernest Borgnine) and Cousins (Donnelly Rhodes) return to the Triton after a tough day of holding their breath, flapping their legs and looking at fish (not sure what else divers do, sorry). Just then, the ship loses contact with OceanLab after an earthquake. Leah panics because her boyfriend is on board OceanLab along with two other divers. They contact the Navy which dispatches the experimental mini-submarine The Neptune to the site.

The Neptune and its factor appear to be the answer to their problem, except for the fact that the sub is piloted by total jerk Commander Blake (Ben Gazzara). Blake and the Triton divers butt heads, especially when it looks like saving OceanLab is a lost cause. But Leah, being the inept woman, presses a few buttons and they lose contact with the surface and descend rapidly into a mysterious abyss. There, they see really big fish. You know, like those bizarre depressed fish swimming in moldy tanks you see in deteriorated Chinese buffet restaurants to give the joint “atmosphere”. You know, like this:

So the mutated fish start attacking the ship. At one point MacKay exits the Neptune to explore the ocean floor for traces of the missing divers and almost gets munched by Nemo’s Dad. But luckily the Neptune is stocked with plenty of harpoons and fishy flakes and they prepare for an action-packed conclusion unparalleled since my afternoon nap.


OK, so this is probably going to be the shortest Planet Tremendo review this month. Why? Because I fell asleep half-way during today's movie. I personally blame Ben Gazarra.

The Neptune Factor, a 70s underwater adventure which attempts to recall The Poseidon Adventure, isn't exactly a sci-fi film, or entirely a disaster movie, or in any way an action flick. But it can probably be described best as a disastrous inaction movie with aspirations of sci-fi, only if by sci-fi you mean “boring as fuck”. But it does have nice underwater photography of weird underwater things.

And toy subs.
And Ernest Borgnine in way-too tight scuba wear. Not pictured for the easily squeamish.

Neptune Factor wants to look like a big budget movie, but it’s got the amateurish feel of an Ed Wood movie despite a relatively stellar cast. Plus, the third act is restricted to the claustrophobic confines of the Neptune where the principals bicker back and forth and talk about action, but never really partake in anything resembling action. The Neptune Factor is largely a waste of time, unexciting and unoriginal, and dull as a bag of goldfish.