Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Junesploitation 2018 Day 6: John Saxon!

A man discovers the price of youth...kill or die!

81 comments:

  1. MY MOM'S A WEREWOLF (1989, 90 min.) on Amazon Prime for the first time.

    To paraphrase "How Did This Get Made?'s" Jason Mantzoukas, this 'PG' horror comedy is really, really horny. Would you expect anything less from a Michael Fischa film ("Death Spa") proudly wearing its Crown International Pictures seal of approval? :-P We're talking next-door neighbors letting their S&M freak flag fly, and werewolf-disguised-as-pet-store-owner shirtless John Saxon (HAIRY-HARRY-SPLOITATION!) putting the moves on sexy MILF Susan Blakely so he can procreate and continue his Lycanthrope lineage. Saxon isn't being asked to pull more than his usual tough guy weight, but he's clearly having a ball playing the equivalent of a suave, sexy vampire... even though he's a werewolf.. who owns a pet store so he can snack on mice... whatever!

    Where this flick shines is in its likable female characters, a rarity in 80's horror. Blakely is hilarious as a housewife in a struggling marriage to a schmuck husband (John Schuck) that doesn't appreciate her... until the werewolf within her puts a spark on their love life. Teen daughter Jennifer (Tina Caspary) thinks mom's having an affair, but she and best friend Stacey (Diana Barrows, who can't stop gushing about her love for Lon Chaney and made-up old horror titles) have to save the day. I chose "My Mom's A Werewolf" because I wondered if John Saxon had any comedic chops (short answer: inconclusive). What I got instead is a female-centric "Fright Night"-lite with werewolves, parts of which are sloppy but done with palpable love for slightly askew horror conventions. See it and marvel how a hornier-than-Bill Clinton kid's pic got away with 'PG' back in '89.

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    1. This movie hooked me ever since I caught it on cable. 1989... so I would've been 14. It's a fun flick.

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    2. Not according to "Hollywood" Heath Holland. It was five years ago, though. Maybe Heath sings a different tune now. :-)

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    3. I can't argue with what Heath says about it. I guess I dig it for the same reasons he doesn't. But then maybe my crush on Tina Caspary did it for me. But it had her in it, it had Saxon in it, it had John Schuck the Klingon ambassador from Star Trek IV and Star Trek VI in it, it had Diana Barrows from Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood in it. I don't know if I can necessarily call it "good," but I found it amusing in a cheap B movie, drive-in sort of way.

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    4. Same here, plus all Heath's criticisms would be valid if the flick was a toothless 'R' rated movie. But the filmmakers are clearly going for a kid's movie vibe, which means it has to hold back. I personally dug the "Wolf Man"-caliber special effects of Blakely's werewolf transformation, and the best friends going to a horror convention (where they meet the fortune teller) even though one of them is clearly not into it. Can't say I will rewatch "My Mom's a Werewolf" anytime soon, but I'm glad I discovered it (the very reason Junesploitation! rules) and happy to see there were flicks with likable female protagonists made during a decade that limited women's roles to mostly girlfriends, victims, nagging wives of "Sexy final girl" roles. :-(

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    5. It sounds like Heath went into it hoping for something he didn't get, and I can totally empathize with his reaction. It's actually been awhile since I've revisited it, but I almost wanna say I remember thinking it looked like it may have been cut down for a PG rating. But then, I could be wrong. As is, one could see it as a counterpoint to My Best Friend's a Vampire.

      I noticed I never really gave Susan Blakely her due. She is pretty great in this. Maybe this film is due for a revisit from me.

      Yeah, I remember Schuck was basically a schmuck in this movie. (Schuck the schmuck?) I guess the film was making a point about men in the '80s, the clueless schmucks on the one side, and the "wolves" on the other.

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    6. As far as Fright Night rip-offs go, there is another one that goes the werewolf route (strange that Fright Night rip-offs go the werewolf route and not the vampire route) called Never Cry Werewolf, starting Nina Dobrev of The Vampire Diaries. And like My Mom's a Werewolf, it crosses the werewolf myth with the vampire myth; maybe to really drive home that Fright Night connection. I don't see why it doesn't go all in on being a Fright Night clone. And like My Mom's a Werewolf, I can't necessarily call it good... but it is fascinating.

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    7. Hmm... "Never Cry Werewolf," uh? :-)

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    8. Yeah... it's not on the nose... at all! Hah!

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  2. Beyond Evil (1980)

    Look, when you are buying a new home, it is important that you check to see if it might turn your wife into a murderer who shoots lasers out of her eyes. John Saxon's Larry Andrews(Larry?) learned that the hard way. I knew a kid growing up named Larry. What makes anyone think that Larry is a good name for a child? I realize he's a fictional character but my friend wasn't. Look how cute he is. I think we should call him Larry. I don't even like how my jaw moves when I say it. John Saxon deserves better. #JohnsploiSaxon

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    1. My best friend and co-worker is named Larry, and he ain't shot at me with his laser eyes... yet.

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    2. I bought Beyond Evil because I collect the movies Quentin Tarantino has shown during the QT fests he used to do at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. I still have yet to finish watching it. Apparently, Quentin believes Lynda Day George gives the performance of her career in Beyond Evil. Come on... we all know she gave the performance of her career in Pieces!

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    3. Different strokes for different folks. I like Tarantino movies, but his recommendations and personal favorites are his own for a reason.

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    4. Very true! For the most part, Quentin's taste and my taste are pretty similar. But every now and then, there comes an anomaly... Beyond Evil seems to be one. And I can't agree that BMX Bandits is better than The Goonies. Or that Gus Van Sant's Psycho is better than Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.

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    5. Okay now I want to watch this movie.

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    6. Which one, Lindsay? "Beyond Evil," "BMX Bandits" or the Van Sant "Psycho" remake?

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  3. ONE DOLLAR TOO MANY (1968, Enzo G. Castellari)

    Nobody can hold on to the $400,000 taken during a bank robbery for long, not the men who took it or those that want it for themselves. Antonio Sabato, Frank Wolff, and, of course, John Saxon star as the trio alternately working together or scheming against each other in this comedic spaghetti western. Not having high expectations, I was pleasantly surprised by One Dollar Too Many. Not all of the humor works, but enough of it did to keep me interested. Action was always a strong point for director Castellari, one of the great directors of the 1970s Italian crime films, and he shows that with the shootouts and fights here. His sense of pacing is excellent. Though, by the end of ninety minutes, the humor of the premise has been wrung dry, I cannot say I was bored. One Dollar is not among the great films of the genre, but it is not a bad choice if you have gone through the short list of essential spaghetti westerns.

    It sounds like John Saxon did his own dubbing for the English version, which was not always the case for English-speaking actors working in Italy.

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  4. Prisoners of the Lost Universe (1983) Dir: Terry Marcel

    First time seeing this in about 35 years. It was on HBO constantly when I was a kid and I loved it. Should have left it in my childhood. This one was a rough go. Sci-Fi/Fantasy with John Saxon, Richard Hatch and Kay Lenz. It has potential but it really moves much more slowly than a movie like this should. For positives Saxon is hamming it up in his Saxon way and Kay Lenz is always a delight to watch. Hatch cuts a decent action hero, especially in his sword fights, though apparently he was sick when doing his ADR so he sounds like a completely different person in some scenes. Not the worst but totally skippable.

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    1. Just sayin' that if you throw a stone in the direction of YouTube, Amazon, Netflix, etc. chances are you can hit a John Saxon flick without blowing your budget. Te-hee! :-D

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  5. i really hope the postman will bring my Tenebrae blu-ray today.

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    1. Good luck, but if you don't get it today you can still do "Tenebre" for Italian Horror and/or a free day. Everybody still wins. :-D

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    2. well darn, no luck. postman came and left without the precious disc.

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    3. Gee, too bad John Saxon didn't star in any other movies besides "Tenebre." Tsk, tsk. :-P

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    4. i would, but i prefer to wait for my blu-ray. and i don't want to open an account because i don't watch enough horror for it to be worth it. and i also buy too many blu-ray and dvd for it to be worth it.

      but thanks for the heads up

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    5. You can always watch it on free day, Kunider. No shame in that.

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    6. oh, don't worry, it will be watched :)

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  6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987, dir: Chuck Russell)

    This is a completely uninspired choice, but I don't care. I will use any excuse available to watch this because it's such comfort food. Sometimes we just need the good stuff.

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    1. Walk of shame confession: seen every "NOES" movie except the 2010 remake and... gulp... "Dream Warriors." And I own the "NOES" DVD Box Set in which "Dream Warriors" comes included. WTF is wrong with me? :-(

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    2. Not having seen Dream Warriors is a gross oversight that must be rectified. Not having seen the remake? You dodged a bullet, sir.

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  7. The Glove (1979)

    Saxon is a former cop turned bounty hunter hired to bring in an ex-convict who's been killing prison guards with what they call a riot glove.

    You'd think that would be the main plot of the movie, but it isn't. For the bulk of the film, Saxon narrates his day in and day out escapades in a noir fashion. The riot glove case is something Saxon comes back to in between cases, as he gathers information on the guy.

    It's a testament to Saxon that the movie never becomes dull. We're just sort of hanging out with Saxon as he does his own kind of Philip Marlowe thing. It's fine.

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  8. My double feature for today:

    The Bees (1978)

    "Still a half an hour left but this feels like it's wrapping up."

    (5 minutes later)

    "This is kind of an odd subplot to finish things off with but I guess they have to tie up loose ends..."

    (20 minutes later)

    "Well, shit."

    The Glove (1979)

    Like Michael said, it's fine. I liked Roosevelt Grier (cousin of Pam) in this. He's got an easy-going nature about him, even when he's being threatening. I was hoping for a little more Glove though.

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    1. Yeah, I liked Roosevelt Grier in this too. Seemed like there should have been more bonding between him and the kid.

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    2. The Bees is one of my favorite movies but if you're not on board, I can see it being a drag.

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    3. I was on board, I just was not expecting where things went in the last 1/3 of the movie.

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  9. Movie #2: Tenebre (1982)

    I've never really gotten the Argento vibe, or giallo for that matter. That being said, I don't knwo if I was just in the right mood or what, but I friggin loved this thing. All of Argento's tricks are on full display and it actually has a plot that is coherent. I can absolutely see why this one is hailed as a classic. Should have watched it years ago.

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    1. Yeah, it's plot makes it I think Argento's most accessible film. It's awesome, I love it so much.

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  10. Moonshine County Express (1977, dir. Gus Trikonis)

    Saxonsploitation!

    This is a really light and fun hixsploitation type film where John Saxon gets to play a romantic lead. And he's terrific. It's such a fun and charming "lovable rogue" performance and the three tough leading ladies are great too. This is nothing to blow you away, but it's a real pleasant watch.

    I've also come to realize that, although I used to be the guy who always checked out during car chases, I've really come to love them now. And this flick has a few great car chases and stunts.

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    1. Just watched this based on your rec here. Totally entertained and Saxon is great. Won't change the world, but it was definitely a good time!

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    2. Very cool! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

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  11. Today’s topic threw a wrench in my watch-a-series-a-day challenge, so I decided to re-watch the Elm Street movies, this time viewing them as if Saxon’s character, Donald Thompson, is the main character. From this point of view, Elm Street becomes a tale of one man’s redemption.

    A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)
    Small-town cop Donald Thompson is called to the scene of a murder, only to discover his daughter Nancy was also at the scene. He demands to know what she was doing there, but he speaks only to his wife and not to Nancy, even though Nancy is sitting right there. He later has his fellow cops follow her just to capture Rod, the suspect. This sets up a pattern throughout the film of her insisting that supernatural monster Freddy is the killer, with Donald either not believing her or not paying attention to her. It’s not until the finale when he finally listens to her that he’s able to help her defeat Freddy, but not in time to save Nancy’s mom.

    A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987)
    Time has passed, and Donald is now a rock-bottom drunk. He is happy to see Nancy after years apart, however, calling her “princess” the whole time. His arc in this movie is that he must fess up to his role as one of the Elm Street parents who originally killed Freddy. His final fight with Freddy is his redemption, both in being there for his daughter, and for taking responsibility for his past actions.

    Side trip to the 1991 NIGHTMARES ON ELM STREET comic book miniseries, published by Innovation. We see Donald’s spirit trapped by Freddy in the dream world. Freddy hopes to use Donald as a weapon against Nancy, who in the afterlife got dream powers of her own. Donald can’t do it, though, as his love of Nancy is stronger than Freddy’s evil. Again, it’s all about his redemption.

    WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE (1994)
    The dream world bleeds into the real world in weird and wacky ways. Actor John Saxon fulfils the father figure role in a way that Donald Thompson never did, suggesting that the Saxon/Thompson character has come full circle. But then Saxon transforms back into Donald near the end, reenacting the start of the first movie, with him not believing Heather/Nancy. That’s the last we see of him. Did he transform back into fatherly John Saxon when Heather/Nancy defeated Freddy? Or, does this mean he stayed rebooted as Donald, forever trapped in a cycle of denial to redemption and back to denial? We may never know.

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    1. Loved this! Applause, applause! :-)

      Now, about posting all these wonderful reviews of yours on the Facebook Jury Room section (which is starved for content, wink wink!). :-P

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  12. Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)

    The heat is on...its lowest possible setting. A smug Life Model Decoy of Eddie Murphy that has been programmed to show no signs of charisma stars as Axel Foley, the fish-out-of-water Detroit cop in Beverly Hills that was a major part of making the real Eddie a phenomenon in the early 80s. Where that Eddie (and that Axel) went I have no idea, but they are sorely missed. Judge Reinhold (I do want a DDO-JSIOC hat, honestly) and Bronson Pinchot also return to the franchise, but neither are able to raise the lukewarm material to the heights of their previous entries.

    As for man-of-the-hour John Saxon, he’s in it much less than I remembered. He plays an evil (shocking, I know) executive at Wonder World, a Disneyesque theme park at the center of a counterfeiting ring that Axel has tracked from his native Detroit. Saxon doesn’t have much to do other than glower at Murphy and feign innocence but come on...he’s John Saxon, of course he’s gonna be in on the bad guy shenanigans. There are a few mild chuckles scattered throughout (I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t at least somewhat entertaining), but it sorely lacks the personality and loose fun of the first or even the Tony Scott-fueled 80s-action sheen of the second. It’s not the worst movie Eddie ever made, but it sure ain’t Beverly Hills Cop.

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  13. Prisoners of the Lost Universe (1983)
    Second pick in a row that drags its feet for an hour and then kicks it into gear for the last 20 minutes. At least Saxon knows what movie he’s in, and gives 110% as the villain. I need to stop picking these based on the posters.

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    1. That is what a good poster is supposed to do. Many films have been made solely on the basis of a catchy title to go on the poster. Getting suckered in by false advertising happens to the best of us.

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    2. Roger Corman wouldn't have such a prolific career and successful producer run without posters selling a POS movie as being much better than it actually is. Relax, you're not the first and certainly not the last to fall prey to the "cool poster" trick.

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    3. I think it’s because I know this that I’m disappointed when I get sucked up by a poster. I do love the part in the Electric Boogaloo documentary where they talk about making posters long before shooting anything just to sell the pitch.

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  14. Violent Naples (1976)

    This movie is something else. If Patrick ever programs a Punchsploitation Day, this would be my pick. A LOT OF PUNCHES ARE THROWN. Not enough John Saxon, unfortunately, but some great motorcycle stunt work and a few "Holy shit!" moments made this a fine choice for Saxon Day.

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    1. I thought it was called Violent Nipples and when I saw that it wasn't, I got sad:(

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    2. I love the idea of Punchsploitation.

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  15. Enter The Dragon (1973)

    Not the most original pick, but a good one! I have only seen this once (in the early 90's), and was saving the rewatch for Junesploitation. And much to my delight, I now have a podcast to listen to!

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  16. Hands of Steel (1986, dir. Sergio Martino)

    Folks, we've got a genuine Junesploitation masterpiece right here. It's basically an Italian version of a "action movie down south" (the genre Riske loves to talk about). Except it's also high concept sci/fi with crazy cyborgs and lazer guns! It is so damn much fun. The action stuff is cool, but what I really love is how sweet and corny it tries to be in a really sincere way. Damn, I love this movie. Check it out on Prime!

    Saxon plays the top corporate villain. He's not in it much, but he's always a welcome presence.

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    1. Hands of Steel is a good choice. As you said, Daniel, it is a fun watch. It has a little bit of everything: action, romance, and arm wrestling with poisonous snakes. Though the soundtrack is repetitive, I like the compositions.

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    2. I really loved the soundtrack.

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  17. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996, dir. Robert Rodriguez): Every time I watch this movie it gets better. Too bad Mr. Saxon only has a cameo, but it greatly improves this already amazing cast. From the mini-movie opening scene (RIP Michael Parks) through the amazing final shot, every moment of this movie is supremely entertaining. If you somehow still haven't seen this, I recommend you make it a priority.

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  18. Had some free time to get in another one:

    Night Caller from Outer Space (1965):

    Alien plot to abduct women for breeding apparently requires strict application and interview process.

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  19. Joe Kidd (1972)

    One of my goals for the year was checking out some of the Clint Eastwood westerns. So when I noticed that John Saxon was in this it was an easy choice. I've seen many people claim this is Eastwood's worst western, but I still found it to be quite watchable.

    John Saxon plays the head of a revolutionary Mexican group (despite obviously not being a Mexican, he apparently apologised for it later) and according to IMDb his character was originally intended to be the hero of the film, but Clint Eastwood needed to be the hero so the script was changed during filming.

    A dirty Robert Duvall was the most entertaining to watch here as the landowner trying to kill the revolutionaries. Poor Duvall has had the same amount of hair for 50 years.

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  20. Tenebrae

    Worth it for the spraying at the end. I'm going to keep trying to penetrate Italian horror. So far just isn't my thing but I suspect one day it will just hit me and I'll love it.

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  21. Tenebrae (1982):

    A bit too comprehensible for my particular giallo tastes, but still a great time. I assume I'll get a little more out of the metatextual stuff once I see more of Argento's filmography.

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  22. Black Christmas (1974)

    The O.G. Saxon day forever!

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  23. Tenebre via Shudder.

    Been meaning to watch this for awhile. It was this or Battle Beyond the Stars, and I’ve seen that before.
    Great movie, should have watched a long time ago.

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    1. I should at least spell the name of the movie correctly. Tenebrae. I watched Tenebrae.

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    2. IMDB spells it Tenebre, but Tenebrae as an alternate title. Both are correct I suppose.

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  24. Queen of Blood (1966)

    Interesting science-fiction/horror amalgam.Roger Corman saw a big-budget Russian space travel film and bought the rights so that he could cannabalize the special effects.
    John Saxon is the astronaut who is always right. Basil Rathbone and Dennis Hopper show up. Did I mention there’s a vampire? There is.

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  25. Welcome to Spring Break aka: Nightmare Beach (1989)

    Wow. This is a strong contender for the best thing I've seen this month. I loved this bonkers movie.

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  26. Prisoners of the Lost Kingdom (1983, dir. Terry Marcel)

    I was limited in which John Saxon I could watch today, so I went this one specifically because it stars Kay Lenz. This feels like an early '80s TV movie, or an MST3K movie where they forgot to add the jokes. Saxon never phones it in, but boy the movie is goofy and dumb. I noticed what hibachijustice was saying above about the voices, but noticed it more with Kay Lenz. Weird.

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  27. Crossing the Line (1990)

    Never heard of this one till tonight, and I wasn’t sure how much Saxon would be in this motocross movie. Found out fast he’s the main character’s dad, and in his second scene he backhands our smug protagonist out of his chair. So yeah, Saxon is in the house.
    It’s your typical late ‘80s/early ‘90s extreme sports movie (think Thrashin’ or Rad) where the ne'er-do-well falls for the new girl in town, faces his disappointed father, and deals with the town toughs. All leading to the big showdown with his rival.

    Saxon does his usual great work as the put-upon father who loves his son, but just can’t figure out how to talk to him after the loss of his wife.

    Bonus points for how much folks seem to hate the main character. I mean they HATE him: “Your father should have snapped your spine the day you were born.”

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  28. Prisoners of the Lost Kingdom (1983)

    Goofy and dumb, indeed.


    Hands of Steel (1986)

    All this movie needed was Lincoln Hawk challenging Paco to arm wrestle.

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  29. The Cynic, the Rat, and the Fist (1977)

    Oh baby, this was a cool little Italian action movie that kind of seemed like a Fistful of Dollars rip off. Saxon plays a New York mob boss in Rome who begins to get led into a war by an ex-police officer on a war path. I wish Saxon was in it more but overall I enjoyed it. Lots of punches, furniture being smashed, and shootouts. It makes 1977 Rome seem incredibly dangerous and seedy but that lets the movie seemingly touch on every sub-genre in crime movies.

    This would also be an excellent choice for moustache-ploitation day.

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  30. Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)

    Despite having seen many Roger Corman movies, I’d still consider his work mostly a blindspot of mine. I’ve specifically avoided this movie for years since it’s mostly know for being a ’Star Wars’ ripoff, but this is definitely one of the better films riding those coattails. The effects, costuming, and overall production are so much better than they should be considering the film’s budget. It’s still super goofy in that “every alien is just someone in face paint” kinda way. Enter John Saxon as the film’s villain, Sador of the Malmori. The lineup of “warriors” gathered for this intergalactic ‘Seven Samurai’ consist of Patrick’s fave Sybil Danning as a valkyrie, George Peppard as a literal cowboy, and Robert Vaughn as himself. The editing in this film is easily the biggest criticism I have. Many of the space battles are too long and drawn out, constantly cutting between effects shots and the various characters in their cockpits with little to no intent. Watching these scenes really does make you appreciate what a triumph the original ’Star Wars’ really was from all angles - Marcia’s Oscar winning editing, Burtt’s sound design, Williams’ score, ILM’s groundbreaking effects, etc. In the inverse manner, this film also helps you appreciate Corman’s great skills as a practical and tenacious DIY filmmaker. Every dime is on the screen and you can see the hard work and commitment put in by the team behind this movie.

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  31. Graham the Haunted MarshmallowJune 7, 2018 at 5:17 AM

    Black Christmas (1974, dir. Clark)

    The sun hadn’t started to come up when I put this on so I’m counting it for the day. I hadn’t seen this before, which is weird because I love Christmas horror. I’d also never seen a Jon Saxon movie, which is weird because I love handsome, charimastic dudes. This delivered on all counts. I thought it was terrifying. Brilliantly directed, well-acted, and the behaviour of the killer makes him the scariest slasher villain I can think of. Those phone calls are right up there with Zelda on my list of voices that scare the fuck out of me.

    Might use my free space tomorrow (today, I guess) to watch another Jon Saxon film

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    1. Oh wow! Have you never even seen A Nightmare on Elm Street?

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    2. Graham the Haunted MarshmallowJune 8, 2018 at 3:40 AM

      I have, actually! I didn’t realize he was in that. I thought I recognized his face in Black Christmas, but I just figured he had one of those friendly, welcoming faces that you immediately feel close with. This was my first John Saxon film that I knew was a John Saxon film, I should say!

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  32. Tenebre (1982)

    This might be one of Argento best films.
    The return of the black gloves and the straight razor. Murder of beautiful naked women. Its Giallo 101.
    It has some amazing cinematography I have seen. The 2-minute-long crane shot is some of the best camera work I have ever seen. The soundtrack by Goblin is almost as great as Susperia, almost. Everybody should watch it just for the great visually striking murders.

    Things I love:
    John Saxon in a black hat.
    Axe to the stomach, shoulder, head and arm.
    Weird dreams of a good time at the beach with red stilettos.
    Mirrors and reflections

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  33. Enter the Dragon (1973)

    Playing catch up on my junesploitation exploits and unfortunately had to resort to a rewatch rather than something new - BUT it is a pretty great rewatch and John Saxon is pretty damn great. A wonderful, cool, charismatic counterpoint to Lee's intensity. So much fun.

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