Friday, June 29, 2018

Junesploitation Day 2018 Day 29: Mosploitation!

The best cop money can't buy!



    Michael Crichton's RUNAWAYS (1984, 99 min.) on Amazon Rental for the first time.

    In this futuristic techno-thriller, Selleck plays a police officer specializing in "runaway" robots that malfunction and go rogue. Not android, human-like 'bots like in Crichton's "Westworld," but mass-produced, industrial-looking boxes with lights. Some runaways are more harmless (agricultural bot) than others (a 9-12 domestic model that slaughters half a family), but for Jack Ramsay it's a safe alternative to confronting his fear of heights on the job. Too bad for Ramsay and his new partner Thompson (Cynthia Rhodes) that they come across the bloody handiwork of Dr. Charles Luther (Gene Simmons), a violent criminal stealing valuable templates for new technology that he can then sell to the highest bidder. One moment Ramsay is arguing with his a-hole chief (G.W. Bailey), the next he's removing an unexploded bullet missile (Simmons' cool-as-hell weapon) from Thompson's arm.

    Like Sean Connery in the shittier 007 movies ("Diamonds Are Forever"), Tom looks cool and badass even when doing silly and/or stupid things. Whether it's fighting robotic spiders that self-destruct, arguing with motherly domestic bot Lois (Marilyn Schreffler) or outrunning explosive little drone cars chasing after his bot-driven patrol car ("The Dead Pool," anyone?), Selleck and his co-stars keep a straight face through all the silliness surrounding them. Along with a shout-out to future "Jurassic Park" dinos in a throwaway scene with Ramsay's son, writer/director Crichton creates in Luther a proto cyber terrorist that wouldn't feel out of place in a modern Tony Scott pic. Recommended, a dated but entertaining time capsule of what '84 people thought "the future" would be like. Also, PG-13-BOOBIESPLOITATION! :-D

    Simon Wincer's QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER (1990, 119 min.) on Amazon Prime for the first time.

    Lured to 1860's Fremantle, Australia by a newspaper ad looking for expert marksmen, American cowboy and Dodge City survivor Matthew Quigley (Selleck, excellent) realizes too late that his new boss, land barron Elliott Marston (Alan Rickman), is a racist pig that wants Quigley to slaughter the local aboriginal population from afar. In the first of many Bond villain-like decisions, Marston's men dump an unconscious Quigley and "Crazy" Cora (Laura San Giacomo), an American woman who keeps referring to Quigley as "Roy," in the middle of the Australian outback. Rescued by the people he was hired to kill, Quigley repays their kindness by protecting them from Marston's hunting parties. When Cora ends up caring for an orphan baby and local folks suffer devastating personal losses for helping them, though, an angry Quigley takes the fight directly to Marston.

    I wasn't expecting this quirky western to move me to tears, but between Cora's sad backstory explaining her awkward personality and the slaughter of aboriginal people (some of it quite graphic for a 'PG-13' flick), "QDU" packs a wallop of pathos for what is at heart a character-based, fish-out-of-water romantic comedy. Despite having excellent action set-pieces (culminating with Quigley's siege at Marston's ranch), it's the little moments of interaction between Selleck and San Giacomo (love the way Cora switches topics when Quigley demands an answer to a serious question) that I'll remember most. David Eggby's gorgeous widescreen compositions and Basil Poledouris' "Magnificent Seven"-like score are also standouts. And even Alan Rickman half-assing it (he never leaves the ranch) still makes for an entertaining heavy you want see go down hard. Highly recommended, one of my best discoveries of Junesploitation! 2018 :-)

  2. THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015), dir. Quentin Tarantino.
    I still wince every time Kurt Russell smashes that guitar. Jennifer Jason Leigh’s (understandable) reaction is priceless... like the guitar. To be honest, everything Jennifer Jason Leigh does in this movie is solid gold.

  3. TURKEY SHOOT (1982, dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith)

    The moustache in question is on the face of Roger Ward. It is a beauty. I was never sure about what to watch this day, and this piece of ozploitation was not on my radar until someone wrote about it earlier this month. Checking the film out online, all I needed was one look at Roger Ward to make my decision.

    Having a straightforward story that moves at a quick pace, Turkey Shoot is an ideal film to relax with. Prisoners are sent to a re-education camp to become obedient citizens. Roger Ward is Ritter, the chief guard. The commander of the camp periodically organizes human hunts for special guests. This particular hunt, however, does not go as planned.

    There is a lot to enjoy in the film. The cast pitched their performances perfectly, adding the necessary level of exaggeration to their roles. You never have to wait long for some action to happen. The film is, in addition, shot very well, especially in the hunting sequences. Some of the landscapes Trenchard-Smith lensed are beautiful in their own right.

    I remember the discussion about Turkey Shoot in the Not Quite Hollywood documentary. Only around half of the projected budget was actually delivered, which forced the director to make some changes. It feels like the ending suffers the most, but that is a minor quibble for an overall entertaining film.

  4. Tombstone (1993 - dir George P. Cosmatos)

    I wanted something comforting and familar tonight. And this movie is 85% Moustache. I'm pretty sure Sam Elliot is a human moustache. It is such an easy movie to watch, and has to be one of the most manly masculine mainstream movies around.

  5. Hired to Kill (1990, dir. Niko Mastorakis, First Time Viewing) Full Disclosure: I watched this on '80's Action day, not knowing what I was about to encounter was the the most outrageous moustache in the history of cinema. Seriously, google Oliver Reed Hired to Kill Moustache right now. I'll wait. I'm willing to accept arguments, but I don't think I'm going to be swayed here. The rest of the movie was fine, but I'm not prepared to comment on it as I was utterly entranced by that moustache. It should have received top billing and possibly it's own franchise #MoustacheCinematicUniverse

  6. Action Jackson (1988, dir. Craig R. Baxley)

    Of the movies I had lined up for the month, this seemed the best fit for today. Carl Weathers' mustache may not be as lush as some people's, but it's impeccably groomed at all times.

    Like Escape from New York, I'm in from the opening credits: Carl Weathers, Craig T. Nelson, Vanity, Sharon Stone, Thomas F. Wilson, Bill Duke, Robert Davi. Patrick said it better than I ever could, this movie's like mainlining the 80's.

  7. The Last Movie Star (2018, dir. Adam Rifkin, First Time Viewing) Had to watch a Burt Reynolds movie on this day. It took a while for this to win me over, what initially seems silly and trite turns into a truly uplifting story. It's essentially A Christmas Carol with Burt as Scrooge. He starts out bitter and miserable but ultimately learns to appreciate his life and those around him. Genuinely touching, and Burt is damn good. It has lots of moments of deep sadness, and a few moments of joy, and hey, that's life, right? Highly Recommended.

  8. Sharky's Machine (1981, dir. Burt Reynolds)

    Mosploitation = Burtsploitation

    Most of you, I'm sure, already know this, but this movie rules. It's a fast paced, gritty, badass crime thriller directed by and starring Burt Reynolds. He's so great in this film. Of course he's the tough badass, but he's also very vulnerable and human. It's a great character. The film is interesting, violent, and very unpredictable. The supporting cast is terrific as well. I especially loved Henry Silva as the weird and eccentric hit man. I loved it. Wish I had time to watch Burt movies all day!

    (a.k.a. THE MAN WHO SAVED THE WORLD) You’ve probably heard of this. To make their sci-fi epic, filmmakers shamelessly edited the space battles from STAR WARS into their low-budget movie. The whole thing is low budget and incompetent, but in that delightful PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE kind of way. The main character does a lot of crazy trampoline-assisted martial arts, and movie throws something bonkers-insane at the audience every couple of minutes, so you certainly won’t be bored. And yes, the villain sports an epic moustache.

    TURKS IN SPACE (2006)
    The ’82 movie had become enough of a cult thing that this official/unofficial sequel got made, now doing their own special effects. It’s about the misadventures of a bunch of goofy folks on a spaceship. Everybody’s in on the joke this time, so it’s nowhere near as much fun. If the first movie was TURKISH STAR WARS, then this is TURKISH THE ORVILLE.

  10. The Shadow Riders (1982)

    Made for TV movie starring Sam Elliott and Tom Selleck as brothers who fought on the opposite side of the Civil War now heading home with the war ended. When they get there they find out their brother, Sam Elliott's girlfriend (played by Katharine Ross), and a couple other girls have been kidnapped by a band of Confederate soldiers who intend to keep fighting. Ben Johnson is also in there as the Uncle the brothers bust out of jail to help them.

    Despite the description it's actually a fairly light-hearted affair. Not a hidden gem or anything but it's fun and watchable, and everyone involved seems to be having a good time. Elliott and Selleck do not disappoint on the moustache front.

  11. Zardoz (1974)

    In 2293 Sean Connery has a kickass moustache and a red diaper, and the penis is evil. Even thou the penis is evil a lot of time is used on Sean Conenry’s penis.
    Zardoz is a really funky movie made by Borman, who apparently could do whatever he wanted, and he did. Its visually alluring, and really, really weird. That end sequence is mesmerizing

  12. Hooper (1978)

    I’m so glad I picked this, it was exactly what I needed. Burt Reynolds’ mustache stars as Sonny Hooper, a stuntman who’s been at the game long enough that his body is beginning to rebel. When up and coming stuntman Jan Michael Vincent joins his team, he sets out to both prove that he can still handle it and get himself a supersized payday for his last big stunt.

    The characters (Hooper included) lean toward obnoxiously rowdy at times, but the movie is so much fun it hardly matters. The stunts are terrific, and stuntman-turned-director Hal Needham knows how to shoot them for maximum impact. While the tone is mostly goofy (it’s basically a hangout movie with car crashes and explosions), the stunt work never loses the sense of danger imperative to making it so exciting. Great fun, and you also get twice the mustache because Hooper doubles for a mustachioed Adam West, playing himself. I wish there were a dozen of these movies.

    1. "Hooper" is a guilty pleasure for me, mostly because it's the first Burt Reynolds movie I saw as a kid. Like Bruce Willis in "Last Boy Scout," though, Burt is already playing "old man" to a much younger competitor even though he was still relatively young in '78. They pull it off because they're good actors, but Burt as an aging stuntman is a little hard to swallow knowing he's still around and acting today.

  13. Original Gangstas (1996, dir. Larry Cohen)

    Blaxploitation icons clean up the streets of Gary, Indiana. The novelty of seeing all of these actors (and their mustaches) on screen together is enough for a recommendation, but Larry Cohen also directs the shit out it. The use of real locations and the amount of chaos in the last act adds to the entertainment. This plays much better for me now than it did in '96.

    1. A lifetime ago, when I worked in the closed captioning department of a TV production house, I had to transcribe and close caption both the English and Spanish version of "Original Gangstas" for the STARZ movie channel. So I literally spent hours upon hours watching a couple of scenes, rewinding, transcribing, timing, repeating the process dozens of times, then watch the film from start to finish to make sure all the captions were accurate and timed perfectly. Then I had do it all over again but in Spanish. So I had a hell of a time watching "Original Gangstas," which might explain why I now have a not-so-positive opinion about it.

  14. White Lightning (1973)

    A young and mustache-less (whoops) Burt Reynolds plays a charming Gator McKlusky. The aim here was to watch something heavily referenced in Archer, a favorite of mine, that also met the mustache quota. Unfortunately, I don't remember a single stache in the entire film and my plans to watch Gator afterwards went ary. Still, this was a fun ride and will probably be my final enrty for Junesploitation as I have an eight hour ride tomorrow.

    Provided this is the end, just wanted to say thanks to everyone because I had an absolute blast. I got to watch a ton of stuff I had on the watch list for years and other stuff I probably never would have checked out otherwise.

  15. Free Fire (2016)

    First time watch. Lots of mustaches. Not sure how I feel about the movie as a whole yet, but I can confirm that I actually really dug Sharlto Copley for a change.

  16. Mystery Science Theater 3000 Presents - Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966):

    I don't usually count MST3K viewings on my watchlist, but the mustache in this one is so damn good that I had to make an exception.

  17. Gator (1976)

    A first watch for my wife and I. We both enjoyed it immensely. 70s Burt Reynolds is my favorite Burt Reynolds.

  18. Lowlife (2018, dir. Prows)

    There were a couple mustaches in this one. My mind was kind of elsewhere during this watch, unfortunately, but I really warmed up to it by the end. Crime films aren’t really my thing, but there was lots of heart in this.

  19. Petey Wheatstraw (1977)

    I once heard this might be the greatest movie ever made. Now, next time I hear that, I will be able to just sagely nod my head.

  20. Malibu Express (1985)

    I had so much fun with the insane ‘Hard Ticket to Hawaii’ that I decided to look up some other Andy Sidaris joints. Low and behold, the poster for this film has shirtless star Darby Hinton rocking a luscious lip llama. This film definitely lacks the WTF factor and over-the-top violence of HTtH but somehow has significantly more nudity. Patrick’s fave Sybil Danning plays a key role in the plot, which mostly consists of rich people being dicks to each other and hirsute Texan dreamboat Cody Abilene caught in the middle and being oddly selective about who he beds, which just seems weird for this kind of movie. In what might be one of the early attempts at a shared universe, the mouth mane rockin’ hero shares a surname with karate bro “Rowdy” Abilene from HTtH, and supporting star Michael A. Andrews plays a character in each film whose crossdressing happens to be a plot point in both films. Where ‘Malibu Express’ lacks the fake snake charm of ‘Hard Ticket to Hawaii’, it makes up for it with Hinton’s rare breed of blonde lip python.