Film Review: The Princess Bride (1987)

Release Date: September 18th, 1987 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Written by: William Goldman
Based on: The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Music by: Mark Knopfler
Cast: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Andre the Giant, Robin Wright, Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane

Act III Communications, Buttercup Films Ltd., The Princess Bride Ltd., Vestron Pictures, 20th Century Fox, 98 Minutes

Review:

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” – Inigo Montoya

I’m going to be honest, this wasn’t a film that captivated me in my childhood like it did most people from my generation. However, I have still always liked it and it’s one of those things I’d leave on if I was flipping the channels in my teen years.

This was the first time I had seen this, though, since probably the ’90s. At least, in its entirety. So revisiting it was kind of a treat and I actually think I’m more fond of it now, simply because they don’t make movies like this anymore.

At its core, this is just a wholesome fairytale. But it’s also full of several characters who have become iconic over the three and a half decades since this was released.

I think that these characters became so iconic because this movie was so well cast, from top-to-bottom.

I also really underappreciated the swashbuckling bits and the camaraderie between the characters, which was so good and natural that one would have to assume that all these people genuinely clicked and enjoyed working together.

As a big wrestling fan, especially the ’80s era, I love seeing Andre the Giant in this. He’s absolutely superb and it makes me wish that he got to do more films before he died, shortly after this.

The Princess Bride is just a really entertaining and fun movie that should work for anyone, regardless of age, gender or generation. It’s kind of perfect in its wholesomeness and its adventurous spirit.

While it’s not what I personally consider a classic, I can see why so many people are immensely fond of it.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: other ’80s family friendly fantasy movies.

Film Review: Sledgehammer (1983)

Also known as: Sledge Hammer (alternative spelling)
Release Date: 1983
Directed by: David A. Prior
Written by: David A. Prior
Music by: Ted Prior, Marc Adams, Philip G. Slate
Cast: Ted Prior, Tim Aguilar, Linda McGill, Sandy Brooke, John Eastman, Janine Scheer, Stephen Wright

I & I Productions, World Video Pictures, 87 Minutes

Review:

Sledgehammer came to me via Joe Bob Briggs’ show The Last Drive-In. It was paired with arguably the worst film ever made, Things.

Since this movie was shown first, it did leave a bad taste in my mouth but seeing Things directly after Sledgehammer, made me appreciate Sledgehammer for not being a steaming pile of crap covered in ghost pepper sauce and forced down my gullet.

This was actually David A. Prior’s directorial debut and it’s also the first slasher film shot on video, as opposed to traditional film.

I’ve reviewed some of Prior’s other films but this one doesn’t really live up to his other work that I’ve seen, which are also bad pictures. But he had to start somewhere and learn the ropes before making cult classics like Deadly Prey and The Final Sanction

The real problem with this movie was the cast. Prior told them to always be over-the-top and always having a blast in every scene and man, they really pushed it to an ungodly level of cringe. Nearly everyone has a can of Budweiser in their hand in just about every scene.

Don’t even get me started on the endless food fight sequence.

The plot is bonkers, as it’s about a slasher that kills with a sledgehammer, as opposed to a slashing weapon. He also appears out of thin air and is a large man with a creepy mask. However, we discover by the end that the big killer is actually the ghost of a little boy.

In the end, this is a harmless, stupid film that helped pave the way for one of the greatest schlock directors of his generation. Although, I can’t really recommend this as anything more than a cinematic curiosity.

Rating: 2.75/10
Pairs well with: other really, really bad ’80s movies filmed on video. Also, other films by David A. Prior.

Film Review: Things (1989)

Release Date: September, 1989
Directed by: Andrew Jordan
Written by: Andrew Jordan, Barry J. Gillis
Music by: Jack Procher
Cast: Barry J. Gillis, Amber Lynn, Bruce Roach, Doug Bunston, Jan W. Pachul, Patricia Sadler

Exosphere Motion Pictures, Left Field Productions, 83 Minutes

Review:

“Next time I bring you with me I’m leaving you at home.” – Don Drake

Every time that I think I may have discovered the worst film ever made, something else falls out of the sewer pipes and right into my lap. This time, it came courtesy of Joe Bob Briggs on his show The Last Drive-In.

Those of you who have been around Talking Pulp for awhile, probably know about my lifelong respect and admiration for Joe Bob Briggs. Hell, years back, I wrote a piece called Joe Bob Briggs – A Texan of Exquisite Taste and a Man Who Influenced a Generation.

So this epic betrayal really hit me like a kangaroo punch to the gonads. Sure, my good friend Joe Bob has shown me some really shitty movies over the decades I’ve been watching his various shows on various networks but nothing was even close to being quite this bad.

This was shown on what Joe Bob was calling “VHS Night” and it was paired with Sledgehammer, another VHS horror relic that was filmed on video, as opposed to traditional film. As rough as that film was to get through, this one really elevated Sledgehammer and by comparison, made it look like the Citizen Kane of primitive video horror.

Nothing in this film makes sense, the characters aren’t likable or relatable and everything that could go wrong from a production standpoint… did!

Well, at least the movie featured porn star Amber Lynn. However, even that was handled abysmally bad, as she stays fully clothed in all her scenes and just reads fake news reports off of a cue card that makes her look away from the camera and off to the side.

Normally, I’d be happy to see these guys use practical effects but even the creatures in this movie were terrible. They were basically large plastic ants with sharp teeth glued to their poorly crafted mouths.

Even with the added commentary of Joe Bob, Darcy and special guest Chris Jericho, this movie was incredibly hard to get through.

In the end, I’ve now seen it and I never have to watch it again.

As for Joe Bob, this whole ordeal reminds me of the time my Uncle Denny told me he had WrestleMania tickets but instead, took me to some outlaw wrestling mud show in what I can only assume was the same violent, fantastical, redneck Florida town where Two Thousand Maniacs! took place.

Rating: 0/10
Pairs well with: other horror films shot on video. Also, dental surgery without painkillers.

Film Review: Spookies (1986)

Also known as: Twisted Souls, Goblin (working titles)
Release Date: March, 1986 (Paris Festival of Fantastic Films)
Directed by: Brendan Faulkner, Thomas Doran, Eugenie Joseph
Written by: Thomas Doran, Brendan Faulkner, Frank Farel, Ann Burgund
Music by: James Calabrese, Kenneth Higgins
Cast: Felix Ward, Dan Scott, Alec Nemser, Maria Pechukas, Charlotte Alexandra (as Charlotte Seeley)

Twisted Souls Inc., Miggles Corporation N.V., Safir Films, 85 Minutes

Review:

“Uuuuuuhh, look at me: I’m Duke, the horny ghost.” – Duke

Spookies is a pretty awful movie. However, it’s one of those awful movies that is so crazy and ridiculous that it’s hard not to love if you’re into premium schlock. Especially, of the ’80s, no budget, horror variety.

The film features two different casts and frankly, two different stories. The movies are then edited together as one film and nothing makes much sense. Who’s the real villain? What’s really going on? How many types of creatures and monsters are they going to throw at the audience? This is a clusterfuck of biblical proportions but still, it’s an entertaining, lovable clusterfuck.

The special effects are pretty damn bad but they’re still kind of a visual treat in their awfulness.

The thing is, I still applaud the effort by the filmmakers as they employed a lot of practical, physical effects and there are just a ton of different creatures and deformed people wearing everything from mud-man zombie suits to spider-lady prosthetics and makeup.

Additionally, this is one of those movies where it appears like everyone is having a blast making this thing.

Still, the acting is pretty close to atrocious and not much makes any sort of real sense.

As a film, it’s certainly way below average but its creativity and heart really gives it a few extra points in my book.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: other ’80s haunted house movies.

Film Review: Gunhed (1989)

Also known as: Ganheddo (original Japanese title), Robot War (Germany), Killer Tank (Philippines)
Release Date: July 22nd, 1989 (Japan)
Directed by: Masato Harada
Written by: Masato Harada, James Bannon
Music by: Toshiyuki Honda
Cast: Masahiro Takashima, Brenda Bakke, Yujin Harada, Kaori Mizushima

3D, Bandai Entertainment Inc., Graphical Corporation Crowd Inc., Nippon Sunrise, Kadokawa, Imagica, Toho Co. Ltd., 100 Minutes

Review:

Gunhed is a movie that I’ve wanted to watch since first seeing a trailer for it on a VHS tape I rented in the early ’90s. None of my local video stores ended up getting a copy and once I got a job at one of those stores, I wasn’t able to order it because, by then, it was out of print.

It also never saw print in the US after that, as far as I know. I would’ve bought it on DVD but I never came across one.

However, I finally stumbled across this streaming on an old movie archive site. So without hesitation, I figured I should watch it while I had the opportunity because who knows how long it could last there before being pulled down.

Gunhed not only piqued my interest with its trailer about thirty years ago but I had heard James Cameron mention that it was a favorite movie of his. Being that he was once one of my favorite directors, especially in the era that this film came out in, made me want to check it out even more.

Sadly, it didn’t live up to my expectations but looking at it through rose-colored glasses for three decades probably didn’t do it any favors.

That being said, I did still like it and thought it was a cool flick with pretty solid special effects, considering the budget and the era in which it was made. 

I mostly liked the characters but I was distracted by how bad the dubbing was in the version that I watched. Honestly, it might have not been perfectly synched due to it being uploaded in mediocre quality.

The film is also a bit slow, at times. However, the big action sequences do pay off and if you dig cyberpunk shit, you’ll probably enjoy the high points of this movie.

This was cool and interesting enough that it probably could’ve been adapted into a manga series or an anime film or show. Then again, there are already a lot of cyberpunk options in those mediums. Plus, super tanks and mecha are a dime a dozen in late ’80s/early ’90s Japanese fiction.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other cyberpunk films from the ’80s and ’90s, specifically those from Japan whether live-action or anime.

Film Review: Megaforce (1982)

Also known as: Supertroepen (Netherlands)
Release Date: June 25th, 1982
Directed by: Hal Needham
Written by: James Whittaker, Albert S. Ruddy, Hal Needham, Andre Morgan, Robert S. Kachler
Music by: Jerrold Immel
Cast: Barry Bostwick, Michael Beck, Persis Khambatta, Edward Mulhare, George Furth, Henry Silva

Golden Harvest Company, Northshore Investments, 99 Minutes

Review:

“It’s all on the wheel, it all comes around.” – Ace Hunter

Megaforce is a really bad movie but it’s a really bad movie that I enjoy because the over-the-top performances are wonderful and the film doesn’t appear to be taking itself too seriously.

This was an international co-production with the US and Hong Kong super studio Golden Harvest, who were known primarily for their martial arts films and especially those starring Jackie Chan.

The premise is pretty simple. It’s just a mix of being a Mad Max clone with Japanese tokusatsu influences, as it features a super task force with cool vehicles and uniforms that very much look like a product of their very dated time.

The film stars an interesting trio of leads between Barry Bostwick, Michael Beck and Indian actress and goddess, Persis Khambatta.

At the time Bostwick was an up and coming leading man mostly known for his roles in television and the cult classic film The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Beck was mostly known for his leading role in The Warriors. Khambatta was mostly known by American audiences for being the bald alien woman in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and her appearances in many high profile pageants like Miss Universe.

This film is really a mixed bag of coolness and hokiness. Additionally, it’s special effects are also a mixed bag. In their case, they’re a mix of solid miniature work, solid action shots and then really awful greenscreen sequences like the flying motorcycle scene. I think the positives actually outweigh the negatives but man, that motorcycle scene really diminishes the great effects work that the film showcases in most effects heavy sequences.

Megaforce is goofy but also endearing in spite of its faults. If you feel like you want to check it out, there is a RiffTrax version, which you may find more enjoyable.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: other ’80s dystopian future/post-apocalyptic movies.

Film Review: Krull (1983)

Also known as: Planet Krull, Dragons of Krull, Dungeons and Dragons, Krull: Invaders of the Black Fortress, The Dungeons of Krull (alternative titles)
Release Date: July 29th, 1983
Directed by: Peter Yates
Written by: Stanford Sherman
Music by: James Horner
Cast: Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones, Francesca Annis, Trevor Martin (voice), David Battley, Bernard Bresslaw, Alun Armstrong, Liam Neeson, Robbie Coltrane

Barclays Mercantile Industrial Finance, Columbia Pictures, 116 Minutes

Review:

“We all risk our lives on this journey. My risk is no greater than yours.” – Ynyr

While I saw Krull a few times as a kid, as it was on either HBO, Showtime or Cinemax, I haven’t seen it since then and most of it was wiped from my memory, other than its visual aesthetic and the sequence with flaming horses that run at super speeds across the wilderness.

It’s a pretty cool film, though. I actually dug it quite a bit and while some special effects look pretty dated, it’s really top notch shit for the time. I was actually impressed by a lot of it and the general aesthetic and vibe of the movie was truly magical in that unique ’80s fantasy flick sort of way.

I also enjoyed the lead, Ken Marshall, quite a lot and wished he had gone on to be a bigger star than he was. He had charisma and conveyed a real sense of adventure that really should’ve seen him get more roles like this. Hell, even a sequel or two to this would’ve been cool.

The film also has several other talented actors, such as Freddie Jones. But what’s really neat is that it features two guys I wouldn’t have known when seeing this as a kid, as they were still pretty unknown and that’s Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane.

The movie also feels like a sort of hybrid between Star Wars and Conan the Barbarian, as it features science fiction elements mixed with sword and sorcery. It’s a nice mix that works well and I’ve always like movies that sort of cross genres this way.

There’s a lot of fun stuff in this from the villain, the villain’s teleporting fortress, the spider-lady, the cyclops ally and a lot of the creatures and big action sequences. There’s so much awesomeness in this movie that it’s easy to see why I loved it so much as a kid. Plus, the hero has a really f’n cool weapon.

The acting is on the level one should expect, as it’s not great but it’s good enough and the actors hammed it up in the right way while also being convincing as badasses fighting all sorts of threats in a sword and sorcery realm.

Krull is a cool picture if you’re into these sort of things. It seems to have been somewhat forgotten over the years but it is one of the better sci-fi and fantasy movies of its time.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other sword and sorcery or fantasy adventure films of the ’80s.

Film Review: Dead & Buried (1981)

Also known as: Look Alive (alternative title)
Release Date: May 29th, 1981 (special screening)
Directed by: Gary Sherman
Written by: Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, Alex Stern, Jeff Millar
Music by: Joe Renzetti
Cast: James Farentino, Melody Anderson, Jack Albertson, Dennis Redfield, Nancy Locke, Robert Englund, Lisa Blount, Bill Quinn, Michael Currie, Barry Corbin

Aspen Productions, Barclays Mercantile Industrial Finance, 94 Minutes

Review:

“You can try to kill me, Dan. But you can’t. You can only make me dead.” – Dobbs

This is a movie I’ve never seen but the old VHS box art used to intrigue me when I was a kid because it was hard to tell what the film was even about.

Looking at the poster art, the perspective is strange and I kind of thought it was about undead giants in the desert at night.

By the way, that’s be a solid idea for a horror film or at the very least, minor villains in a sword and sorcery story.

Anyway, the film is a about a small coastal New England town where the townsfolk act as a killer mob that loves taking photographs of their victims before and as they murder them.

I don’t want to say too much more about the plot, as it could ruin the big reveal, which I thought was pretty damn intriguing.

The film is really atmospheric and it feels very confining, as the dread within the town closes in on the core characters with each passing murder. It’s also slow paced but there are enough kills in here to keep the regular horror fan engaged and satisfied.

Apart from the ambiance, I think the most effective thing about the movie is Stan Winston’s special effects. This was still early in the legend’s career but he used some superb practical effects that have held up tremendously well. The shock moment of the burnt man screaming back to life was amazing and as a practical effects fanboy, I just nodded and smirked.

Dead & Buried was a nice surprise for me. I didn’t know what to expect but it was a slow burn with a pretty good, batshit crazy payoff.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: horror movies about killer families or strange small towns.

Film Review: Children of the Corn (1984)

Also known as: Stephen King’s Children of the Corn (complete title)
Release Date: March 9th, 1984
Directed by: Fritz Kiersch
Written by: George Goldsmith
Based on: Children of the Corn by Stephen King
Music by: Jonathan Elias
Cast: Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, R. G. Armstrong, John Franklin, Courtney Gains

Angeles Entertainment Group, Hal Roach Studios, New World Pictures, 92 Minutes

Review:

“Any religion without love and compassion is false! It’s a lie!” – Burt

Linda Hamilton had a big career making year in 1984 between this film and The Terminator, which was released months later.

I was never a big fan of this movie, even as a kid, but I guess I appreciate it more now. I mean, it’s certainly eerie and effective. However, everything in it seems kind of pointless, other than it’s cool seeing fucked up, murdering children that pray to some evil god birthed from the mind of Stephen King.

This is an example of why some things work much better as a short story, as this was originally written. There just isn’t enough here to justify a longer story and seeing it adapted into a movie turned it into a slow, drawn out affair where almost nothing really happens, except in the prologue and at the end.

Other than that, half the movie is driving around cornfields and then the other half is hiding from killer kids carrying farm tools.

The story is about kids in a small town following a child preacher who convinces them to kill all the adults. Whenever other adults wander into town, they get sacrificed to the bizarre cornfield god that travels through dirt like the monsters from Tremors.

I do like Isaac, the primary villain in this, though. I always thought he was scary but he also had something a bit off about him. I didn’t know until years later that the actor was actually in his 20s when he played this role. He dies in this but he would return years later in the sixth film. However, I’ve never seen any of the sequels but I may dive into them to review because why not?

Overall, this is slow as hell but I wouldn’t call it boring. As for Stephen King film adaptations, this is one of the poorer ones of the ’80s. A lot of people liked it, though, and I could be in the minority. I just feel like it doesn’t come close to holding a candle to the best of King’s adaptations or the horror classics of its decade.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: its sequels, as well as other Stephen King film adaptations.

TV Review: The New Statesman (1987-1994)

Original Run: September 13th, 1987 – December 30th, 1994
Created by: Laurence Marks, Maurice Gran
Directed by: Geoffrey Sax, Graeme Harper
Written by: Laurence Marks, Maurice Gran
Music by: Modest Mussorgsky, Alan Hawkshaw
Cast: Rik Mayall, Marsha Fitzalan, Michael Troughton

Yorkshire Television, Alomo Productions, ITV Studios, Fremantle, 26 Episodes + 3 Specials, 25 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Out of the three shows that Rik Mayall starred in, The New Statesman seems to be the least known, at least from an American standpoint. While I have friends that love The Young Ones, Bottom and Mayall as a comedic actor, none of them knew about this show until I introduced them to it. 

It’s been a favorite of mine for years and I actually discovered it on a tape sent to me from a friend in the UK, who I used to tape trade with in the ’90s.

The show is a satire of British politics in the opulent ’80s. It features Mayall as Alan B’Stard, a Conservative Party backbencher in Parliament that schemes his way to more power, as the show progresses.

B’Stard commits terrible crimes and has no morals whatsoever and while that may sound like the recipe for a completely unlikable character, with Mayall playing him, he brings to life the show’s despicable main character with his charisma, charm and stupendous ability to make it all work.

Alan B’Stard is an iconic character even if modern audiences aren’t aware of him, especially in the States. While it’s easy to see how UK conservatives of the ’80s would’ve been offended by the show’s over-the-top critique of them, I think it’d be really hard for any fan of comedy and political satire not to laugh. Mayall is simply perfect.

Each episode over the four series is pretty good and has a purpose behind it. The writers hit a lot of topical issues from ’87 through ’94 and even if this feels like it’s only showing things from one side of the political spectrum, it’s still entertaining.

Also, my view could be skewed because I’m American and I’m not really a fan of any political party or mainstream political ideals. They’re all authoritarian fascists in my book.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other British sitcoms starring Rik Myall.