Saturday, January 16, 2016

Post-Apocalypse Now

Happy New Year, kids. Try not to be disappointed we're not living Back to the Future II yet. I'm just glad it's not quite Blade Runner and it's hard to believe Escape From New York was supposed to have happened 20 years ago. While we get the sweet mashup of capital-A artistry and B-material once in a while, I tend to get hungry between projects from Paul Verhoeven, David Cronenberg or John Carpenter, or the increasingly rare, satisfying glossy treatment from Steven Spielberg, James Cameron or Ridley Scott.

Lately I've been digging the eighties/nineties, OMGeddon, cyber-punk, and c-grade action flicks that came out in the early stages of straight-to-video market. Their mix of high-ideas, cheap-but-innovative practical effects, Armani suits, pony tails, trenchcoats, enthusiastically-bad acting and the occasional true virtuoso camera move, plus a good dose of "what the hell were they thinking?" make them successfully entertaining if not always on the intended level. 

Hardware - Richard Stanley's breakout that he followed up with Dust Devil and was paving the road to The Island of Dr. Moreau and madness (check out the documentary Lost Soul for that story). This one has Stacey Travis, Dylan McDermott, John Lynch and cameos from Iggy Pop and the recently lost Lemmy. Check out the trailer here

Dust Devil - And yeah, DD is certainly worth seeking out - in its many existing cuts. (final) Trailer here.

Blood of Heroes - Rutger Hauer and Joan Chen are athletes wandering the wasteland playing the violent sport Jugger. What more do you need? Directed by David Peoples (Blade Runner, Ladyhawke, Leviathan, Twelve Monkeys, Unforgiven, Soldier - that David Peoples) in his lone fiction feature at the helm. Trailer here.

Trancers - The indispensable Tim Thomerson plays a time-traveling bounty hunter named Jack Deth. I rest my case. How come you don't know it? Maybe 'cause of the other time-traveling hunter flick of the same year that James Cameron made. Trailer here

Wild Palms - Oliver Stone produced, Phil Joanou, Keith Gordon, Peter Hewitt and Kathryn Bigelow directed and the cast included James Belushi, Kim Cattrall, Robert Loggia, Angie Dickenson, Ernie Hudson and James Ellroy's muse Dana Delaney, so not exactly a cheapo production, but as a network TV mini-series it was also an odd-duck of a product. This kind of fare has far more opportunity platform-wise now, but its blend of William Gibson and David Lynch/Twin Peaks sensibilities to me seems a forerunner to stuff like Black MirrorTrailer here

Nemesis - Not quite anything it aspires to be, but a fun mix of its influences. Not Blade Runner, but it's got Brion James, not Philip K. Dick, but y'know, Dickish, not quite Cronenberg, but has some really gnarly make up effects and Olivier Gruner ain't JCVD, but he's got the same acting range, accent and spin-kick propensity. Supporting cast includes Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Yuji Okumoto, Nicholas Guest the aforementioned James, Tim Thomerson and look for an early turn by Thomas Jane in this one too. And if you think there ain't enough stop motion fights in action movie these days, you're right and there's a nice one in here. Trailer here.

Cyborg - Another one from director Albert Pyun, this one actually has Jean-Claude Van Damme and feels like the same world as Nemesis. After Pyun made Nemesis 2, 3 and 4, IMDb promises Cyborg Nemesis is coming soon and starring Steven Seagal. I am more excited than you are for that one. Trailer here.

Johnny Mnemonic - This one actually is based on William Gibson source material and it features one hell of a fun cast - Keanu Reeves, Dolph Lundgren, Ice-T, Henry Rollins, Takeshi Kitano, Udo Kier, Dina Meyer - but what the actual fuck is going on with the production is beyond me to grasp. Whatever it is, I want more. It's bananas. Messy, day-glo bananas. Unfortunately, director Robert Longo went away to movie jail after this one flopped hard and no one's heard from him since. Trailer here.

Steel Dawn - Part Road Warrior, part Conan the Barbarian, pre-Roadhouse all Swayze. Trailer here, amigos.


Gabino Iglesias has chastised me for not including Tony Maylam's Split Second starring Rutger Hauer. It's one I've never seen though I was certainly aware of it at the time. Hauer is one of those guys who was a genre unto himself (and one of my favorite ones to boot) so I'm not sure why I never got around to it. Trailer here.

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