Saturday, 25 February 2012

TRANCERS (1985)

Eighties sci-fi b-movies, when done with gusto and tongues wedged in cheeks, were a thing of beauty. TRANCERS is one of the finest examples of the genre from that era, and while it's cheesy, ridiculous and at times nonsensical, it's also a great piece of trash cinema which has a hell of a lot of fans out there. There's time travel, shoulder pads, Tim Thomerson as the iconic Jack Deth, Helen Hunt in her pre-serious movies days, a stretched budget and even more stretched suspension of disbelief. It's awesome.

Mixing elements of Blade Runner and cyberpunk with time travel (in a manner that really reminds me of Quantum Leap, even though that came later), Trancers tells the story of Jack Deth (Thomerson), a future cop who is hurled back in time (to inhabit a body which looks just like his own) to track down and destroy a criminal mastermind called Whistler, who is able to transform people into zombie-like killing machines known as Trancers by means of weird hypnotic powers.

Deth follows Whistler to 1985, where the villain is tracking down the ancestors of a future council in order to kill them and have the future for himself. Deth leads us (and Helen Hunt's character of Leena) on a thrilling cat-and-mouse chase of an action movie as he faces off against foam-spitting Trancers galore in his quest to overcome Whistler.

The thing that holds the whole bundle of nonsensical chaos together is Thomerson's performance as the wisecracking, ass kicking future lawman Jack Deth, who gets all of the best lines and all of the best scenes. It's a role that should have made him far more famous than it did, but hey, this is a Charles Band movie and we couldn't really hope for more.

Speaking of which, Band's direction is actually excellent throughout the film, taking a limited budget and running with it as best he could. In fact, it feels like a much larger scale film than it is for much of its running time, thanks to some clever use of music, lighting and sound effects.

The climactic battle against Whistler is a bit weird though, as it's not really all that climactic. It just kinda happens, and then the movie ends. For fans of the 80s sci-fi aesthetic, chases, gun fights and wisecracking cops from a dystopian future, Trancers is essential viewing.

For anyone with a taste for high art (what are you reading this for if you're expecting Oscars material?), stay away. This is a movie for us old-school VHS nerds, and we love it. So there. We love the sequels, too. Well, four of the sequels. The series actually went up to Trancers 6, but the least said about that film, the better.

(Which probably means I'll end up sitting through it for your reading pleasure at some point)



Sunday, 19 February 2012

FASTWAY - "AFTER MIDNIGHT" from "TRICK OR TREAT"

I really need to talk to you about the perfection that is the movie TRICK OR TREAT sometime soon. That film remains one of my most treasured titles, as does its awesome soundtrack. A film about a metal fan who must do battle with the demonic ghost of his rock idol? Yes please. I've loved this film for 20 years, and the soundtrack by classic UK metal act FASTWAY just as long. In fact I just sought out a vintage vinyl version of the soundtrack to have framed.

The music video here is for a track from that album, and it's a great slice of raucous 80s hard rock (my particular delicacy). The video is a little odd, due to the hidden bassist and drummer clearly being far too clean cut for the Sammi Curr character and guitarist 'Fast' Eddie Clarke. Ah well. I love the song, I love the album, and I'm going to love talking about the movie for you very soon.


Saturday, 18 February 2012

THE DEADLY SPAWN (1983)


It's hard not to enjoy a movie that has giant, phallic, rubber monsters pulling peoples' faces off throughout its running time. While the script, cast and cinematography are largely dreadful, The Deadly Spawn is somehow brilliant. Originally put out as a blatant cash-in on the original ALIEN, although with a completely different locale and storyline, The Deadly Spawn is a beautifully trashy early 80s horror romp with lashings of gore mixed in with the strangely suburban and low-key setting.

A normal neighbourhood is terrorised by enormous rubber penises with giant, multi-fanged mouths for the entertainment and amusement of the viewer. Of course, they're not actually cocks, but they bloody well look like they are.

With such a a weird mix of horror, comedy and general chaos, there's a feel of early Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson to it. There's that kind of anarchic, fun quality that was so prevalent in genre cinema at the time. Take the spawns themselves, for example. These newborn versions of the main beastie look exactly like bruised cocks, sort of a mix between the Alien chest bursters and sex toys.


It's the sort of film you just know was come up with while drunk and laughing. The Deadly Spawn is about as cheap as it gets when it comes to low budget 80s horror movies, but what budget there was is there on the screen and it has to be said that the makers did manage to pull off some very nice effects sequences. In fact, it's down to those sequences alone that the film is so addictive.

Yeah, the gore scenes are hilarious and cheesy, but they're by far the best part of the film. Overall, it has a weird, trippy quality to it, as it's played completely straight even though people are being eaten by massive rubber willies. It's available at a low price on second-hand VHS and DVD, and is well worth your time if you love your horror cheap, nasty and badly acted (i.e. FUN).


BRB

Life has become kinda ridiculous lately. New stuff very soon!

Friday, 3 February 2012

A FRIDAY NIGHT DOUBLE-BILL

It's midnight. It's friday night. It's time for a double-bill of classic nasties to wash away the working week and herald the arrival of a beauteous weekend of VHS hunting and proper sleep. Tonight's back-to-back atrocities are NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN (NIGHTMARE, to my American readers) and DEMONS 2.

Nightmares In A Damaged Brain hasn't had a screening at our place in far too long, and Demons 2 has to follow as this week I picked up classic VHS editions of both DEMONS and its sequel (I already have both on Dvd but the Avatar VHS tapes of them I found were too nice to pass up). I had the first one on again yesterday morning before work (which set me up in a very weird frame of mind for my shift at the day-job, I can tell you!).

The Friday Night Double Bill is something that I rarely get chance to do, and will get even less chance to do soon as we have a baby on the way, so I'm making the most of my man time while I am able to do so. There is an art to getting the setting for the Friday night movie marathon right. There must be s suitable amount of beverage (2 litres of diet cola tonight), snacks (check), comfortable attire (check), a perfect view of the TV (check) and some solitude (check).

My lady is fast asleep, and thus I am able to let the bloke shine through. I've got my feet up at the moment and am watching ludicrously graphic images of people having their throats slit in a classic Video Nasty. The only thing missing it a few bottles of lager, but I was left without enough time earlier today in order to pick any up. That aside, I am in film geek paradise right now.

This situation is able to take bad films and make them seem like masterpieces. Thankfully I have chosen two films I know I love for tonight's session, so there's no risk of me not enjoying them, but even a bad film can be enjoyed in the right setting. Hell, regular readers will be well-versed in how easy it I for me to enjoy crappy films. I really should be doing something far more high-brow, like writing my Magnum Opus or reading some of the million books that seem to find their way into our home (I buy books far faster than I read them), but sometimes you just need a Friday Night Double Bill in all its gory glory. Here's to fitting the stereotype now and again.