Traci Lords – B Movie Honoree

An uplifting story in B-movie cinema is Traci Lord’s ascendance from exploited porno actress to legit B and even A-movie star. For example, “Not of this Earth” is a wonderful 1988 cheeseball remake of Roger Corman’s “classic.” It rules. She bares her breasts but also shows strong comedic skills as a nurse who unknowingly works for a space alien who is stealing the “life force” from nubile women. To borrow a quote from a video store I used to frequent in Berkeley in the 1990’s this film is the    “Showgirls” of sci-fi.

The film is so sexy and funny it doesn’t matter that it’s cheap. Jim Wynorski, who also made “Chopping Mall” and “The Return of Swamp Thing,” is an excellent sleazemaster whose films are very entertaining, The film, despite being made for less money than the original, turned out well and received a theatrical release and some decent reviews, leading to a role for Lords in the classic “Cry-Baby” and Stephen King’s “The Tommyknockers.” The 2010 widescreen DVD from Shout! Factory is very good and has commentary by Lords and Wynorski and an interview with Lords.

Another good B-movie starring Lords is “Shock ‘Em Dead,,” a 1990 horror comedy recently released to Blu-ray. It is about a hopeless loser geek who sells his sole to Satan so he can become a metal God. He gets his wish, but discovers he has to kill in order to continue his hedonistic lifestyle. Lords plays the “pure woman” who likes him whom he must seduce to end the curse. Although the film is cheesy, it has a decent plot and the songs are hilarious and pretty good. No longer required to shed her clothes, Lords is appealing in this obscure but underrated gem. Check it out!

Traci Lords is a reminder that a girl can rise from inglorious beginnings and become a movie star and decent actress. These two films are a must for any B-movie fan’s library! Thanks, Traci!

Cherry 2000 Is the Future

One of the best films about androids is one that flew in under the radar, 1987’s “Cherry 2000.” This unheralded gem is about a man (David Andrews) who loves his devoted android girlfriend, a Cherry 2000 (played by the stunning Pamela Gidley). When she is accidentally destroyed due to exposure to water, he will stop at nothing to seek out another one. The newer models of droids, you see, are inferior, and sex between humans is a litigious mess (as Larry Fishburne shows us in a cameo as a lawyer). He ends up having to cross a desert wasteland to find one, with the help of sexy tracker-bounty hunter Melanie Griffith, and doing battle with such desert vagrants as GROIN Hall of Famers Tim Thomerson and Brion James. Will he find a Cherry 2000? Will he get it on with Melanie Griffith? Tune in and find out!

This film has a lot of things going for it. First of all, the director, Steve DeJarnett, is a visionary who co-wrote “Strange Brew” and wrote and directed the 1989 Anthony Edwards classic “Miracle Mile.” Secondly, the score by Basil Poledouris ranks as one of his best. Thirdly, there is a ton of action and some PG-13 sex. Fourth, Pamela Gidley and Melanie Griffith are very sexy and deliver good performances. Lastly, the plot seems to genuinely reflect the way things are going in the future. This film, unbelievably, went straight-to-VHS but quickly acquired a cult following when HBO showed it 24-7. It made a big impact on this reviewer as a child, and I like it even more today. Perhaps a remake is in order. In the meantime, I recommend you pick this flick up on DVD or Blu-ray, because it’s a great one!

Alien 3 : Underrated

“Alien: Covenant” inspired me to re-watch the third and fourth “Alien” films. “Alien Resurrection,” the fourth one, did nothing for me but I really love “Alien 3.” As a stand-alone film, it is one of the most frightening and despairing films I have ever seen. The first film by the great director David Fincher (“Seven,” “Fight Club”), it finds Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) crashed into a prison planet, with her friends Newt and Hicks (from “Aliens”) dead. There was an egg on her ship, and now the Alien is haunting the prison planet. Can she stop the alien and save humanity? Is this the bleakest film ever made? I’d vote for the most underrated.

The script’s decision to make vile prisoners protagonists caused much audience derision, but it makes for a fascinating film. Also interesting is the film’s cinematography and production design, which create images that will singe their way into your brain. The music by Elliot Goldenthal is highly memorable and marked his big break as a composer of blockbusters. Finally, Groin Hall of Famer Charles Dance gives a great performance as Clemons, as does Charles S. Dutton as the most complex of the convicts. Whether you’re watching the Theatrical Cut or the extended, more coherent 2003 Assembly Cut, “Alien 3” is a powerful, ambitious film that is far better than it is given credit for. David Fincher, take another look at your film: it’s great! (He disowned it.) Much better than “Gone Girl”!

Sci-Fi Roundup

This movie is not the Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence jail comedy. Its about a crew fighting a killer amoeba. Although the overall quality of films the last five or ten years has spiked downward, sci-fi has spiked upward in quality with some wonderful films that haven’t gotten the attention they deserve. The current film “Life,” for example, is a very interesting “Alien” knockoff about what would happen if we discovered alien life on Mars. The answer: nothing good. We think we’re getting “E.T.” and instead we’re getting something worse than The Thing. This film has interesting characters, some believable science, and is a tremendously inspired production. The director uses long, painstakingly crafted sequences to draw us in and (hopefully) make us forget we’re watching a movie. The performances of Jake Gylllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds draw us in, and, although the film is similar to “Alien,” it scares us.

The new film “Phoenix Forgotten,” produced by Ridley Scott, is a found-footage film in the style of “The Blair Witch Project” about the Phoenix Lights UFO incident from 1997. A group of teens witness the event and decide to investigate further and film what they find. Bad idea. It turns out that the incident is much more sinister in nature than they thought. Will they survive? Maybe not, but their quest proves somewhat compelling as all of us are curious about UFO’s. The film is well-made, acted, and scored and delivers some terror on a low budget. It’s not great, but you could do worse.

Ghost in the Shell is Deep

I thought I knew what to expect from “Ghost in the Shell.” I assumed it would have great visuals and a mindless plot. I was right about the visuals. Although the futuristic city portrayed in the film looks a little too close to “Blade Runner,” overall the film is convincing and occasionally mind-blowing in terms of its visual impact. The surprise about the new film is that director Rupert Sanders has a story to tell, and tells it well. What would it be like to be an android (or, actually, a cyborg) with no body to call your own and memories you can’t trust? This film tells you.

I was very impressed with the cast that this film put together. It is true that Scarlett Johannson is rather miscast as the heroine, but this is only because her character is supposed to be Asian. She should have asked for rewrites to tailor the part more to her. However, “Beat” Takeshi Kitano (the Japanese action star), Juliette Binoche, and Michael Pitt are excellent in their roles.

The film is getting a lot of flack for supposedly “whitewashing” Japanese material. On the contrary, the film is very respectful to the magna and anime series, and to such a degree that I’m rather stunned. The scenes where the protagonist discovers the truth about herself are rather affecting. This film succeeds in capturing the essence of the film series, and I would not mind a sequel to this film. If you like science fiction and especially if you like anime, check it out! – CoolAC

Blade Runner 2049 Looks Sharp

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Finally, a sequel that I want to see: “Blade Runner 2049” looks awesome! The new teaser trailer features Vangelis’ music (although he’s not scoring the film) and a violent standoff between Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford in a dusty, environmentally devastated future.

Here are some reasons why the film will be good: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, and Jared Leto are terrific actors who could potentially save even a disappointing film. 2. Denis Villeneuve is a very good director who cares about his work, as evidenced by “Arrival” and “Sicario.” 3. Hampton Fancher, screenwriter of the original film, wrote this one, and Ridley Scott is producing. 4. The trailer indicates that this will recapture the noir feel of the original film and surely NOT be a soulless special FX spectacle.

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On the other hand, here’s why the film might suck: 1. Jared Leto’s films are widely variable in quality, from the greatness of “Dallas Buyers’ Club” to the formula dreck of “Suicide Squad.” 2. David Webb Peoples, the OTHER writer of the first film, is not back for this. 3. Harrison Ford’s recent “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” sequels have not been that great.

Of course, the big question is: How are they going to explain bringing Ford back? He was supposed to be a replicant with a 3-year life span, according to the Director’s Cut. Also, Ford reportedly didn’t like the first movie, so why is he doing this one?

Despite these issues, I’d much rather see this movie than “XXX 3,” “John Wick 2,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” combined. This is a sequel to a classic that just might match or exceed the original film. “Blade Runner 2049” looks like a winner that would make Philip K. Dick proud!

-CoolAC

Rise of the Sexbots – Final Chapters Outline

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Scene 8 
 
Variety Club 
 
The captured skaters forced to undergo transformative surgery. As they are tied to 
schoolroom chairs and forced to watch a promo video about their 
transformations, labor and the sexbotsVier is about to be forcefully 
transmutated. 
 
The camera that the SKATERS hid in the working mine area proves to the SKATERS 
that Vier is alive. The WORKER MUTANTS tear apart the camera. The BIKERS 
who are armed with metal bars, fire axes, and junk go to face off with the 
MUTANTS. 
 
Nearly all of the Will of the People are killed off by mutants. TRISH, GOOGAMOOGA 
and KANGAZOO hide in some rubble. They radio back to the gas station base. 
 
 
Scene 9 
 
Peter Panic 
 
The plan the SKATERS come up with is conveyed over the radio. The SKATERS at  
base set up a van as a SONIC DESTRUCTION Unit. Loudspeakers blaring NO 
GOD ONLY PAIN, flanked on both sides by columns of SKATERS with light 
bombs and pistols, it gets to the gate of the Echelon Agency building.  
 
There’s no one guarding the gate. KANGAZOO and GOOGAMOOGA interrogate a 
BIKER for the access code to open the front. When the van crashes through 
into the foyer of the Echelon/bot.gov building, Vier recognizes the music. 
 
The noise disables the MUTANT workers and the BIKERS. The SKATERS get away 
with Vier in the van. When the music is out of earshot, both the MUTANTS 
and the BIKERS join together to crash through the gates of the work area and 
kill the lizards. 
 
Scene 10  
 
The TOP BRASS of the LIZARDS enter into escape space vessels. The ENGINEER 
LIZARDS try to hide with the sexbots. The MUTANTS tear through the 
kennels and fight the LIZARDS. 
 
The LIZARDS crank up the poplaver music. But it doesn’t effect the Will of the 
People BIKERS. The BIKERS fight the remaining LIZARDS fiercely. A sprinkler 
 system breaks out and floods the flames that cause the sexbots to malfunction. 
On a global scale the mutants plan revenge with their international allies from 
space. The SKATERS return to loot the Echelon facility for tetras and sexbots
They look for surviving BIKERS to bring to their folds. 
 
 
 

Paul Newman: The Dystopian

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Are you sick of the current run of dystopian science-fiction films such as “The Hunger Games” and “The Maze Runner” series? Would you like to see an entry in the genre that’s actually good? Check out Robert Altman’s “Quintet,” a flop from 1979 that does the whole dystopian future thing as well as any film besides “Blade Runner.” The film takes place in a distant future where the planet (maybe Earth, maybe not) is freezing over and Paul Newman and his pregnant wife are wandering through the ice and the ruins of a city. Soon they encounter civilization and Newman’s brother. After a violent incident, Newman ends up taking his brother’s identity and investigating and infiltrating a strange board game that everyone is obsessed with called Quintet. It involves five players and the roll of a dice. Everyone is obsessed with this game and people are dying, and Newman wants to know why. Eventually he finds out, after much bloodshed.

There are a few things that make this movie awesome. First, as I said, the depiction of the future is really interesting and cool. It’s super bleak. Secondly, although it’s not explained in that much detail, the board game Quintet is rather fascinating. The third impressive argument in the film’s favor is the performance of Paul Newman. He does the strong, silent hero thing better than anyone. and he gives us a reason to care about this film. Between this flick and the also underrated “Fort Apache, The Bronx” he shows that he is a really tough, manly guy. He’s sensitive when appropriate but mean and courageous when necessary. In short, Paul Newman is the man, and “Quintet” is a must-see if you can find it. You’ll never look at board games the same way again! –CoolAC

Arrival: Giger meets Kubrick

arrival-2016-film-trailerAliens in cinema have been pretty standard the last couple of years; they invade, we respond, there’s a battle, patriotic music swells, audience falls asleep. “Arrival” sort of belongs to the Hollywood template, but it is also excitingly different. Amy Adams plays a linguist who is brought in by the government to translate alien communication from one of about a dozen UFO’s that have landed around the world. Together with a theoretical physicist played by Jeremy Renner, she must figure out what the aliens want before time runs out and we attack them in fear. The film is interesting because it shows how we might realistically respond to an alien visit, and also the process involved in trying to communicate with them. It takes “Close Encounters” to the next level. Also, the design of the aliens, which I won’t reveal here, is quite fascinating and different from what we normally get. A twist ending also makes things very interesting and makes the film a good one for repeat viewing. On the minus side, the film is slow-paced and sappy at times, and Forest Whitaker is woefully underused. Overall, however, “Arrival” is very cool and highly recommended. It’ll make you rethink your stance on ET’s.

Rise of the Sexbots – Parts 6 and 7

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 It opens with a SUPERVISOR. He sees a circle of workers not working on his 
surveillance screen. “What’s going on here?” he demands then he’s suddenly 
surrounded by ANGRY MUTANTS.  
 
But the LIZARDS at bot.gov don’t notice. They’re too busy with their raid on the 
church. The raid goes on at night. The lizards ambush the building and light it on 
fire. Blood and deaths and fire. 
 
The fire draws out all of the SKATERS who the LIZARDS then trap in order to force 
into labor. 
 
A few of the SKATERS escape the church fire. But the SKATERS go to get cover at the 
gas station lair where NO GOD ONLY PAIN is rehearsing. 
 
GOOGAMOOGA, KANGAZOO, TRISH, FUDGE-A and ESKIMOSA try to find a way out 
of the building as the MUTANT WORKERS tear apart the WORKER CAMP. They hide 
in the sexbot kennel. 
 
Scene 7 
 
At the gas station lair, the skaters pick up emergency calls about the siege on their 
radios. They use ingenious weapons to try to defend their lair. But many are 
killed. Vier is captured. 
 
GOOGAMOOGA, KANGAZOO, TRISH and the BIKERS make a deal with the She Pop 
Princess. She goes to distract the MUTANTS with her singing. But they’re still 
stoned and they rip her apart. GOOGAMOOGA, KANGAZOO, TRISH, FUDGE-A 
and ESKIMOSA narrowly escape. 
 
The LIZARDS return to the base with a large amount of slaves. The SKATERS left at 
the gas station make a plan to rescue Vier. 
 
GOOGAMOOGA, KANGAZOO, TRISH, FUDGE-A and ESKIMOSA enlist the support o
the BIKERS to kill the LIZARDS. LIZARDS are unaware that half of their base 
has rioting going on in it.