Friday, June 8, 2018

Junesploitation 2018 Day 8: '80s Action!

Deadly force: when nothing else will do!

70 comments:

  1. S̶t̶e̶v̶e̶n̶ ̶B̶e̶n̶s̶o̶n̶ Joe D'Amato's ENDGAME (1983, 93 min.) on Amazon Prime for the first time.

    A last-minute replacement for an 80's flick I watched that turned out to be too rapey for my tastes (unlike the "tasteful" rape in the one I did watch... yikes! :'( ), "Endgame" was just the kind of empty calories, Italian junkfood action I was in the mood for. It's 2025 and the post-World War III society locked inside dingy-and-foggy tunnels pauses to watch the 25th edition of "Endgame" ("Brought to you by LifePlus energy tablets"). Think poor man's "Running Man" without a charismatic host and just three hunters chasing after returning champion Ron Shannon (Al Cliver). One of the hunters, Kurt Karnak (George Eastman), is good friends with Shannon but is sick of always being second-best to the champ. A not-by-chance encounter with an attractive female mutant (Laura Gemser's Lilith) sets Shannon on the path of saving her, a strange little boy (Christopher Walsh's Tommy), and a group of mutants by leading them through the radiation-contaminated outlands. With the promise of gold riches if he delivers the group to the border, Shannon recruits a band of outlaws (a martial art student named "Ninja," a "Little John"-type brute named Kovack, etc.) to help him fight the... and I'm not kidding here... dozens of motorcycle riding, topless mutant gangs roaming the countryside! :-O

    "Endgame" makes a bad first impression by spending its first 37 minutes showing poorly choreographed fights in the most butt-ugly indoor sets imaginable. Stick through the first act, though, and the fun "Mad Max"-meets-zero-budget-"X-Men" vibe picks up exponentially. I love me some George Eastman, so I was happy as a clam when Karnak joins Shannon and his gang. It's clear the former is going to betray the latter, but until that happens the two men kick butt, crack heads (and in one glorious scene they twist a dude's neck 180 degrees!) and take no prisoners. It all ends in a predictable-but-awesome display of dormant mutant powers going Pyro-in-"X-Men 2" medieval on the soldiers of out-of-his-league Colonel Morgan (Gordon Mitchell)... and that's before Shannon and Karnak settle their "Endgame" feud once and for all. Highly recommended, through it fits more into Post-Apocalypse! Day than 80's action (though there's plenty of the latter to go around).

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  2. CUT AND RUN (1985, dir. Ruggero Deodato)

    The plot of the film encompasses drug smuggling, drug violence, the search for a missing person, and a television crew trying to get a scoop. Therein lies the problem with Cut and Run. It does not establish any kind of narrative flow, creating a shifting tone that gets to be distracting. There are nuggets of a good movie there, yet nuggets are all they end up being. Knowing that Deodato is more than capable of creating an engaging film, I am disappointed with this effort.

    The story that the film devotes the most time to, a reporter and cameraman from Miami, is the least interesting one. The action in South America is where the exciting bits are. A cocaine smuggler with links to a famous real-life event is by far the most interesting nugget in the film. There is more than a little Kurtz in his character, and he even has an army of natives who seem to regard him like a god. Sadly, he is only present in a small part of the film.

    The disappoint is double because I own the film now.

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    1. I feel for Deodato because, after "Cannibal Holocaust" and the ensuing controversy, there was no place for him to go but down... hard. :-(

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  3. Red Scorpion (1988 - dir Joseph Zito)

    Talk about Dolphspoitation! It's typical story really. Loyal Soviet Soldier who turns good American Action hero with a very big gun, even bigger explosions and a suspious sounding Preditor score including Long Tall Sally.

    But more than than that. I felt a little pervy watching this. The camera lingers on every single bulging oiled up muscle and pectoral Dolph owns. And he's wearing short shorts for a big portion of the movie. It's a lot of Dolph Lundgren. It is a good thing he isn't really wearing much, because he has bad ass pouring out of his pours, no wonder he was glistening. Just the way he moves it's mesmerising. Oh yeah and the action is really solid.

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    1. You can't have too much Dolph. Especially if he's not wearing much!
      Hopefully I'll have time to watch this later.

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    2. I hope you do too, it's a fun movie and Dolph is a bad ass.

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  4. Midnight Run (1988 - dir Martin Brest)

    Okay, maybe this would have worked better for 80s Comedy. But wow, I am not sure I missed this movie before now. I always used to use the excuse that New Zealand didn't get all the movies, but I have listened to Elric Kane talking about watching multipal movies I had missed while living in NZ. So I must have been watching the other channell, and not paying attention.

    But anyway I'm glad I finally watched it. It's amazing. Grodin just has these little ticks that are everything and even with De Niro's breadth of work I cannot remember him being his charming. Then of course there's Yaphet Kotto and Dennis Farina. This is a movie that is going to get many many different rewatches.

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    1. This is my pick for the day too. Watching it later for the first time. I'm glad you liked it.

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    2. Glad you enjoyed it, especially Grodin's little tics... Both DeNiro and Grodin are doing so many hilarious subtle things, you almost need to watch it twice, focusing on each one of them. Amazing movie.

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    3. Villian - it's an amazing I hope you in enjoy.

      Matt - I couldn't take my eyes off Grodin. The stuff he does in the background is amazing! Especially when De Niro is talking with his ex, and Grodin is looking away cause its a private moment - then he starts checking out the house. So goooood!

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    4. Midnight Run is a family favorite. My grandmother used to maintain that it had more F-bombs than any other film. She was wrong, but watching her count was a nice exercise in family dysfunction!

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  5. The Soldier (1982, dir. James Glickenhaus, First Time Viewing) Ken Wahl stars as THE SOLDIER. This was pretty awesome. Contained everything I want in an action movie: super slow-motion squib work, a Klaus Kinski cameo, a henchman dispatched mid-ski-jump, and a Porsche jump over the Berlin Wall (you read that right). Highly Recommended.

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    1. I got that blu-ray, and watched, a couple of weeks ago. It was great

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  6. Low Blow (1986, dir, Frank Harris)

    P.I. Joe Wong(Leo Fong, also writer and producer) is hired to find the daughter of a wealthy businessman. Turns out she has fallen in with a religious cult led by Cameron Mitchell(working on a 2 on the Give-a-Fuck-meter) and his second-in-command(Akosua Busia, making choices). Wong gathers a motley crew to take the cult down. Also, his car(who might as well be an supporting character) breaks down a lot. Fong can't act but is strangely endearing, just like this movie. Code Red needs to put this on blu-ray, stat!

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  7. Invasion USA (1985)

    Ahh the 80s. Evil communist and cocaine smugglers it doesn’t getter much better than this.

    Chuck Norris plays the Ex-CIA agent Matt Hunter retired to Florida, who is forced to get out of retirement one last time to take care of Mikhail Rostov. At first he declines, but after his house and best friend is killed it’s time for revenge and ass kicking.
    Richard Lynch is a great bad guy. Even if he is over the top bad guy. He is the best thing in the movie. Chuck Norris is a whirlwind of violence and bad ass one liners. “If you come back in, I'll hit you with so many rights you'll be begging for a left.”

    I still don’t quite get what Rostov’s plan is except for creating Chaos. Im guessing it might be to starts race riots in Miami? But why, what is his end game?

    The movie actually has some really awesome action set pieces. The chase scene in the mall is fantastic, with some really great stunts. And has an insanely stupid duel with rocket launchers.

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  8. Kickboxer (1989)
    JCVD is so damn charming. And those pants, and those shorts.

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  9. Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

    A hold-over from John Saxon day, this movie is surprisingly more action than horror - which makes you root for the cannibals! Love the knock-off Apocalypse Now start, First Blood middle, and M.A.S.H. score, but would've genuinely passed on the young girl underwear shot. Saxon pops, as always, especially in the pre-McFly puffy vest with rolled sleeves look. Also has blood the color of red Jell-O, so you can really immerse youraelf in the realism.

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  10. The Punisher (1989, dir. Mark Goldblatt)

    The guilty will be punished!

    Funny it came out the same year as Batman '89, because it also suffers from the problem of focusing too much on side characters and not enough on the title hero. This one didn't do a whole lot for me, but it's a decent shoot 'em up action flick. It has a cool ending, and Jeroen Krabbé is really good in it.

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  11. Red Heat (1988)

    Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Soviet police officer, Ivan Danko, who teams up with Chicago Cop, Art Ridzic (Jim Belushi), to track down a Soviet drug smuggler.

    Walter Hill has made better movies, but 48 Hrs. and Red Heat are my go to Hill films, and my go to buddy cop films. Red Heat mostly just repeats a lot of what happens in 48 hrs, but adds something new and weird to the mix. I hope this movie finds an audience someday. I might just like it because it invokes memories of a bedroom floor covered in tapes and worn out box covers. On the other hand, it co stars Gina Gershon, Peter Bolye, Laurence Fishburne, Ed O'Ross, and Peter Jason, among others. There's a lot of really comforting 80s action stuff present as well- fist fight in loin cloths outside a bathhouse in the snow, a yelling police superior, a major bus chase, etc. Chicago, paired with a Belushi brother, is always welcome in my world. It's an added bonus that Arnold is somehow in the mix.

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  12. To Live and Die in LA (1985)

    First time viewing. I chose this because Patrick and JB mentioned it on a podcast recently and it reminded me that I needed to see it. I knew it was going to be good action, but I didn't expect how very '80's it was going to be, complete with a soundtrack by Wang Chung. Man, 1980's William Petersen was SUCH a badass. I mean, he's genuinely approaching a Scheider level of badass here. I really dig everything I've seen by William Friedkin so far and it occurs to me there's a Friedkin movie with Scheider in it that I haven't seen yet, so I guess I know what I'm going to watch next!

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  13. Braddock: Missing in Action III (1988)

    Fucking Chuck Norris is the worst.

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  14. 1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982, dir. Enzo G. Castellari)

    This movie really made me think about how important it is to have an action hero that we (or I) think is "cool". Not "good", but "cool". There's plenty of action heroes I like that are bad actors, but as long as they're decently convincing as cool I'm fine with it. Mark Gregory is maybe the most miscast action hero I've ever seen and I didn't believe a single thing he did. I found the movie pretty flat. I liked the sets and locations, and the movie comes alive when Fred Williamson comes on screen. But it's not enough.

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  15. Man on Fire (1987) Dir: Elie Chouraqui

    I've owned this for a while on a nice Kino disc, but it was 80's action day and Pure Cinema taking about it that got me to watch it. First adaptation of AJ Quinell's novel it's a solid piece genre action. Has more in common with Italian poliziotteschi movies than Tony Scott's excellent but sick remake. Scott Glenn is at his most Scott Glenniest and is a joy to watch. Slower than I would like but worth a watch.

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  16. A BETTER TOMORROW (1986)
    The low-budget effort that made overnight superstars out of John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat. It’s about two brothers, one a criminal and one a cop, who face much conflict and turmoil over the years. The gunplay and stunts aren’t as flashy as Woo’s later work, but this is a gritty, life-on-the-streets story, so the somewhat more realistic approach fits the tone better than huge pyrotechnics. Really enjoyed this one.

    A BETTER TOMORROW II (1987)
    More action from the criminal underworld, with everyone’s pasts coming back to haunt them. The plot meanders a lot in this one, making me impatient during long gaps between shootouts. Chow Yun-Fat plays a different character this time. This is silly, and yet he’s able to loosen up a little and crack a smile. He grows into his usual cool guy persona later in the movie. A mixed bag.

    A BETTER TOMORROW III (1989)
    John Woo left the series to make THE KILLER (wise choice), so producer Tsui Hark took over as director of part 3. This is a prequel showing how the characters met, while illegal gunrunning during the Vietnam War. There’s a lot of prequel-itis here, with stuff like Chow Yun-Fat’s trench coat and sunglasses getting their own backstories. There’s a huge shoot-em-up at the end, which is fun and exciting, but lacks Woo’s sense of style.

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  17. Cyborg (1989)

    Put this one in the back of my mind after Patrick's article, and when the themes for Junesploitation we're announced I quickly penciled it in for 80s action day. I LOVE Road Warrior ripoffs. Anymore it's difficult for me to buy into a world because of all the CGI, so it's refreshing to see a world built by set designers or painters. Movie wasn't perfect, but I enjoy it. Is the Slinger cut so radically different that it is worth tracking down?

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  18. Real Men (1987)

    I like to think that this is the movie that David Lynch saw that made him say “get me Belushi!” for the new Twin Peaks. I have no evidence to support that theory, I just get a tremendous amount of joy from the thought of David Lynch guffawing at the antics of the Beloosh and John Ritter as a CIA agent and an insurance agent, respectively, heading to a rendezvous with technologically advanced aliens.

    The movie is a breezy blast that never takes time to breathe but also doesn’t wear out its welcome. The pace is manic, but that’s part of the fun, and the chemistry between the two leads is solid. The action setpieces are nothing that would challenge Die Hard, but that’s not really what it’s going for, the emphasis is much more on comedy and the banter is engaging enough to keep the whole thing afloat. It’s light and fun and the kind of movie we could probably use more of these days.

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  19. Hawkeye (1988)

    I didn't know I'd find my new favorite movie when I woke up this morning, but here we are.

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    1. Seriously? If it's your new favorite movie then I must see it.

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    2. Karate Cops!!! One of my all time favorites! George Chung! Watched it a few years ago for Junesploitation and raved about it.

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    3. Watching it now. Does that one dude do the Eddie Murphy voice the entire movie? I can't handle this much good movie.

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  20. Thief (1981)

    Who's better then James Caan? The answer is maybe Paul Newman but it's a toss up for me. I automatically get a little despondent when I see a movie is 2 hours long. This movie never drags, though. I think it's Michael Mann's best film by a large margin. I'm not a huge fan of his movies but I like Collateral...and that's about it. I'm going to check out Manhunter later this month. Thief is fantastic and you should watch it.

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    1. I agree Thief is great. You actually might like Man Hunter. It's got a similar vibe.

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  21. Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

    The sequel softens the anti-soldier sentiments the first film brought to light, instead placing more of the blame on the powers that be. Some fun action set pieces, but overall something I doubt I'll remember next week. Much less powerful than the first.

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    1. I loved First Blood Part II as a kid. I even had some of the Rambo toys, including a plastic version of Rambo's knife. I did enjoy playing war games.

      Last year I caught the film on TV and was not impressed at all. The Rambo sequel I most enjoy is Part III. The staging of the action and battle scenes in that one is terrific, but the script is not so good.

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    2. Everything I've read has pretty steered me away from 3, but maybe I'll check it out one day. Me and my cousin always played war games too. We would spray paint water pistols and such to look more real.

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  22. Police Story (1985) - first watch

    This movie is amazing! Some reviewers complained that it was a little too slap sticky, but I think it just added to the fun. Top notch action, martial arts, with some humour. I need to watch more Jackie Chan movies. I think this is only the 2nd I've seen.

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    1. The scene near the beginning of the car crashing down the mountain through a shanty town, with explosions left and right...that's the best thing I've seen this month. Hands down.

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    2. Can you imagine building a small town just to run a few cars through it? Crazy. I loved the movie. It's like of Buster Keaton knew martial arts. Check out 2, it's not as good but still very entertaining. I should be checking out 3 next month.

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    3. I have got to stop posting from my phone.
      Dude I'm so glad you liked it! Seeing Police Story for the first time is great. Jackie doesn't make great movies now but his 80s and 90s stuff is unrivaled.

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  23. Hercules (1983)

    The sets look cheap, the dialogue sounds like it’s from Golan and Globus adult movies and the special effects are barely there, but big Lou looks amazing and loves throwing things into space, bears, logs, rocks attached to chariots, so what’s not to love. Did I mention Lou looks amazing, he’s perfectly cast as Hercules it’s just a shame they didn’t get a dubbed voice that was a little deeper. Sybil Danning doesn’t get enough time on screen, she’s fantastic when she is there menacingly plotting against Herc.

    It’s Golan and Globus so you know what you’re getting going in, it’s silly fun but fun all the same. And Lou looks amazing.

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  24. Action Jackson (1988)

    Carl Weathers is a curious case of an actor who should’ve become a movie star but just didn’t. By all rights, his name should be in the same pantheon along with Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme, etc. Obviously he was great in the Rocky series and ‘Predator’, but the fact that this film is basically the only major opportunity he had as a lead is a shame. On top of being built like an onyx clone of Arnold, he’s so smooth, charismatic, and grounded. I think the issue specifically is that he didn’t quite shine enough in this film due to how the character of Jericho “Action” Jackson was written. Everyone talks about him like he’s some bad boy, loose cannon you don’t want to cross, but what we actually get is a guy who sticks to his moral principles, who is super charming with friends all over town, and is rarely, if ever, the cause of the chaos being wrought. The writers should’ve either leaned into the badass image by giving him tons of Arnie one-liners and moments to show how few fucks he gives - OR - they should’ve made the police force super corrupt and dangerous, where Jackson never knows who he can actually trust, therefore making him the one good guy on the force that the community trusts. The movie tries to have him both ways and it doesn’t quite pop.

    The rest of the cast is fantastic. Major stars like Craig T. Nelson (as the villain), Vanity, Sharon Stone, Bill Duke, Robert Davi, etc. fill out the supporting cast while the background players are literally every action dude from ‘Die Hard’, ‘Commando’, to infinity. The plot is convoluted in the best/worst 80s way, the Herbie Hancock soundtrack is a fun time capsule of what he was up to during that era, and the stunts are killer. I can easily see a world where this movie has a few tweaks to the main character and Weathers ends up with a successful franchise well into the 90s.

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    1. I found a DVD of Action Jackson for $2 at a local used goods store. It was well worth the money. It is fun in a generic '80s action way. You are right about Weather's character not being given enough personality. I really liked the stunts in the film.

      On the other hand, I spent many times $2 for Cut and Run. Oh well.

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    2. Probably a top five 80's action movie for me. It's such a damn crime that Carl Weathers doesn't have a huge filmography of starring vehicles.

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    3. I just watched this as well! I saw it when it first came out but remembered nothing about it. It was fantastic! Jackson's introduction in the police station was one of the best tough guy intros I've ever seen.

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  25. Dragonslayer (1981)

    Nominated for 2 Oscars for visual effects and original score. But the story is just nothing. It's so forgettable. After I watched it, I had to go read about it because I couldn't remember anything. As I type this I am failing to recall what I read about it so by the end of this sentence, it will be gone.

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  26. Kickboxer (1989)

    Me: its 80's action day
    Boyfriend: let's look through prime
    Me: I haven't seen kickboxer
    Boyfriend *starts movie*

    Excellent decision.

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  27. Cyborg (1989)
    A Cannon classic that I had missed out on until now. I was familiar with its troubled production, but I actually thought it was not half bad for a cannon film. Van Damme kicks ass, and claymation cyborg heads do not.

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  28. Avenging Force (1986)

    You can always count on Michael Dudikoff and Steven James to deliver the goods.

    The villain's politics are way too familiar. It proves the more things change, the more they stay the same. Have we just been spinning our wheels for the past thirty years?

    What starts as a political assassination thriller becomes the most dangerous game, with Dudikoff being hunted in the swamps by low rent Bane and Gul Dukat dressed as a samurai.

    This was developed as a sequel to Invasion U.S.A., with Dudikoff playing the Chuck Norris role. I wouldn't have believed Chuck fighting extreme right wingers.

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  29. Hawkeye (1988)

    When Mike Pomaro raves about a movie, I listen. If anything he undersold this masterpiece.

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    1. I guess you didn't read my rave review years ago, Riske.. I see how it is ;)

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    2. @Chaybee-I'm drawing a blank. You liked The Wolf of Wall Street, right? 😃

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    3. :) hahaha. Love you buddy.

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    4. So good. Both Wolf of Wall Street and Hawkeye.

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  30. Today's double feature for me was all about movies inspired by The Most Dangerous Game.

    Deadly Prey (1987)

    Patrick already wrote a good article here about this movie and the 2013 sequel so I don't need to say too much about it. Entertainingly amateurish, although it gets into the killing so quickly and keeps it going to the point where it became a bit tedious by the halfway point of the movie.

    Turkey Shoot (1982)

    I could have just as easily slotted into my double feature yesterday but it worked out pretty well today also. This movie was a lot of fun and struck a good balance between the time spent building things up in the prison, and the time devoted to the prisoners getting hunted down for sport. Also there's that mutant werewolf looking creature thrown in for the hell of it. The only sad thing is wondering how Brian Trenchard-Smith went from doing stuff like this and Dead End Drive-In to what looks like a fairly terrible output for the last 20 or so years.

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  31. THE RAIDERS OF ATLANTIS (1983, dir. Ruggero Deodato)

    I have been curious about this film for a while, so I finally decided to actually watch it. I knew it was suitable for today's category. It is purely a coincidence that Deodato also directed this one.

    The Raiders of Atlantis is cheesy to the highest level. First of all, the story is completely ridiculous. A sunken Soviet sub off the coast of Florida somehow causes the ancient island of Atlantis to rise to the surface. The remaining inhabitants of the island happened to be have watched The Road Warrior and decided to dress just like the marauding gang in that film. Raiders gets very post-apocalyptic, with the Atlanteans killing every human they can get their hands on. A small band of survivors manages to thwart their plans.

    Despite its ridiculousness, I was entertained by The Raiders of Atlantis. The lead, Christopher Connelly, brings a lot of enthusiasm to his role. He plays some kind of government agent with military experience. The action set-pieces of the film are effective, particularly the siege at the warehouse. The cheap special effects somehow work in the context of the film.

    Although, on an objective level, Cut and Run is has better production values and a more cohesive story, The Raiders of Atlantis is more fun to watch. I do not know if this is worth going out of your way to see. If you come across it, though, it might be a worthwhile watch.

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  32. The Evil that Men Do (1984)

    Finally got to join in on Junesploitation! This is a fucking mean spirited Bronson movie. It’s super weird, sometimes when it leaned into that mean spiritedness I was like... yeah no, and then sometimes it leaned so far into it that I was saying out loud, to myself “holy shit” as I watched. It’s a super mixed bag but at 90 minutes it works just fine :)

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  33. Running Scared (1986)

    I saw this on VHS for the first time in probably 1989. I loved the movie, but being 12, a lot of the jokes went over my head.
    Watching again now, it’s even better than I remember. Funny, good action.

    Something I didn’t realize, as a kid, that was probably a big deal in 1986 was the cast.
    You have Gregory Hines, an actor and renowned tap dancer, and Billy Crystal, comedian, playing streetwise cops. That casting must have seemed so crazy in ‘86.
    I’m glad to say, seeing it again as an adult, they really pull off the characters they are playing.

    If you have VUDU, Running Scared is “free with Ads” right now. I urge you to check it out.

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    1. This movie is so underappreciated. I feel like it got overshadowed by Lethal Weapon the next year. But it's so much fun and Hines and Crystal plat off each other really well. Glad you liked it!

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  34. Midnight Run (1988)

    Great action comedy, though a few pieces seem a little creaky and generic. The scene where Charles Grodin pretends to be FBI seems cribbed from a similar scene in 48 HRS. Clearly, it’s the performances here that sells the whole thing, and DeNiro has never seen better. The scene where he is reunited with his daughter will break your heart. A constant reminder that this was made in the eighties? Seemingly, everyone in the film chain smokes!

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  35. Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983)

    Conansploitation turns into Starwarsploitation!

    This '80s action/fantasy/sci-fi film is goofy, campy and ridiculous fun. I had a good time with it! Bonus points for dinosaurs and an awesome theme song.

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    1. If your podcast playlist isn't full enough, The Editing Bay recently had a podcast on this. I haven't listened to this episode yet, but it's usually a pretty fun listen.

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  36. Graham the Haunted MarshmallowJune 9, 2018 at 12:37 AM

    Knightriders (1981, dir. Romero)

    A remarkable movie — which isn’t too say anything about its quality, necessarily. It’s just remarkable that Romero pulled off this movie that is so committed to playing its niche story straight. It’s hard to get a grasp on what’s going on here, even though its hand to the audience from the very beginning. Not really my thing (a friend wanted to show it to me, and I figured it fit the theme loosely) but I appreciate it. Looking to dig into the schlockier stuff in the next few days.

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  37. Hollywood Cop (1987):

    Not enough Cameron Mitchell! #TumsFestival

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  38. A Better Tomorrow (1986)

    While I'm a big fan of some of Woo's Hollywood work I haven't delved into his earlier formative Chinese productions. This is reputedly the movie where Woo really became Woo.

    A sort of Departed-esque, Infernal Affairs, crime/gangster story and sure enough slow motion, Peckinpah style violence is there in spades. Where were the flying doves though?

    Looking forward to watching more early Woo. (Hoo)

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