Rhinestone (1984) – ‘My Fair Rocky’

Some movies you just have to see to believe. And then there’s those you can’t believe even after you’ve seen ’em. You stagger around your mom’s basement in a stupor. Eyes bleeding, you scour the floor for empty rubbing alcohol bottles so you can reassure yourself that what you’ve just witnessed wasn’t real, that it only some horrible chemical induced hallucination. Rhinestone (1984), the story of how Dolly Parton trains Sylvester Stallone to be the next country music sensation, is one of those movies. It’s not a hallucination. It’s all too real.

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Starcrash (1978) – Guilty Pleasure or Misunderstood Masterpiece?

The evil Count Zarth Arn has secretly constructed the ultimate space weapon. The son of the Emperor of the Universe has mysteriously disappeared. And only sultry space smuggler Stella Star, her selectively psychic co-pilot, and a misogynist robot gunslinger with a Texan accent can save the day. No, seriously. I’m not making this up.

Luigi Cozzi’s Starcrash is more than just another Star Wars rip-off from the sci-fi boom of the ‘70s and ‘80s. It’s a quirky marriage of European and American pulp sensibilities. It’s a loving tribute to Barbarella, Ray Harryhausen, and the space adventure serials of the ‘30s. It’s an oft derided and misunderstood mini masterpiece of Euro-exploitation cinema. Continue reading

Princess of Mars (2009)

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel “A Princess of Mars” (1912) is a steampunk sword-and-sandal masterpiece. It’s the classic tale of John Carter, a Confederate soldier who astral-projects himself to Mars, becomes a superhero, and hooks up with the hottest babe in the multiverse. It’s the ultimate in juvenile escapist fantasy. At age 13 I read a musty 300+ page first edition in one sitting. I may have given myself a bladder infection in the process, but it was totally worth it.

For the past century this pulp masterwork has been the elusive Holy Grail of film adaptations. Countless filmmakers, including Looney Tunes animator Bob Clampett, famed stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen (Jason and the Argonauts), and Jon Favreau (Elf) have made several attempts at filming a “Princess of Mars” movie and failed miserably. But in 2012, with the (disastrous) release of John Carter, Pixar vet Andrew Stanton (Wall-E) and screenwriter Michael Chabon (Wonder Boys, “The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay”) were the first to bring Burrough’s interstellar adventure to the big screen. Or were they?

In 2009, The Asylum, purveyors of such notorious bargain basement “mockbusters” as Transmorphers and Snakes on a Train, released Princess of Mars. This is a rare instance where an Asylum rip-off came out years before its big budget counterpart. But more importantly – and it disgusts me to my core to write this – this means that The Asylum achieved what Clampett, Harryhausen, and many of the greatest filmmakers in history could not. The Asylum successfullyfilmed one of the most eagerly anticipated film adaptations in history. Please excuse me while I wipe the vomit from my mouth.

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Hot To Trot (1988)

Bobcat Goldthwait stars as – woah, let’s stop it right there! Whenever you come across a film synopsis that includes the phrase, “Bobcat Goldthwait stars”, you know you’re in for cinematic sucktitude. Sure he’s one of the better aspects of the Police Academy sequels, but that’s like saying being drugged is one of the better aspects of date rape. The man’s screechy/awkward/creepy act is barely tolerable in minor parts. With this starring role it gets stale faster than you can say “horse apples.” Continue reading

The Karate Dog (2005)

So there’s this talking dog named Cho Cho. And he knows martial arts for some reason. And his master is murdered by a ninja, who is secretly his master’s former student. And the dog teams up with a hapless cop to bring the killer to justice. The Karate Dog is further proof that there’s no limit to how low Hollywood will stoop (and scoop?) to profit off the exploitation of cute animals.

Cho Cho, the bereaved dog, is voiced by Chevy Chase, who you’d think by now would’ve learned the folly of playing a talking dog (See Oh Heavenly Dog). But by this pre-“Community” point in his career, he was probably desperate enough to do any movie in exchange for a cold sandwich and a hot shower. This is Chase’s first leading role since Vegas Vacation, which was only marginally better than Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure. Continue reading

Movie Pick of the Moment: NOTHING LASTS FOREVER (1984)

A whimsical tribute to young love, young artists, and the films of the 1930s, Nothing Lasts Forever could best be described as a friendlier version of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1984). Continue reading

Theodore Rex (1995)

Theodore Rex is a kid-friendly futuristic buddy cop comedy about a loose-cannon cop (Whoopi Goldberg in a skin-tight catsuit?!) who’s teamed up with a wisecracking dinosaur (?!) to solve a “dinocide” and save the earth from a mad billionaire’s scheme to wipe out all humanity by triggering a second Ice Age.

It’s basically Blade Runner with Barney. And Whoopi Goldberg. And fart jokes. Lots and lots of fart jokes. Even after two viewings it still blows my mind that a mainstream film this bizarre actually exists. Continue reading