Goon Review: Missing in Action (1984)

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, ya Goon-ie!! 😉 xoxo)

Chuck Norris, perhaps the genesis of what we now know as the meme, was the epitome of “man” in the rah-rah-America, chest thumping, gun shooting, shit ‘sploding, kick-a-man bad ass. He was the kind of man that if you shot him, he would clench up his butt cheeks and fart that bullet right out. Cannon Films recognized this popularity and exclusively signed Chuck to a multi-picture deal, thus bringing us some of the action movie staples that we grew up on in the ‘80s, war movies to be specific. The early ‘80s was a prime time to make Vietnam movies, seeing as how the war was still fresh in our minds, you could shoot them cheap and audiences would flock to them.

If there is one thing Golan and Globus knew how to do better than anyone, it was how to market their film to anyone. The men get plenty of explosions and the women get a number of scenes of Chuck Norris removing his shirt to reveal his ripped, hairy chest for no reason and wearing jeans so tight that any hipster would be envious. There was also a little something for the ladies; to see the sweat glisten off his chest on the hot Vietnam moonlit night, right before he roundhouse kicked a man out a window was worth the price of admission alone. These films from Cannon tended to be (as I heard them best called) B-movies on A-budgets.

Before we get started, Missing in Action and Missing in Action 2 were filmed back to back and Missing in Action is actually the second film in the franchise, believe it or not. However, Cannon felt that Missing in Action 2 was the stronger of the two movies and was released to theaters before the first film, so Missing in Action became a prequel, Missing in Action 2: The Beginning and Missing in Action 2 became Missing in Action. I probably over complicated that explanation, but this is the earliest example of something like this happening that I can think of. Oddly enough, the film very much mirrors the plot of Rambo: First Blood Part II, but Missing in Action was released one year prior. Is this where the idea for the plot of Rambo came from or is it just a coincidence?

Perhaps one of if not his most memorable role, Chuck Norris is Col. James Braddock; a Vietnam veteran who is being disgraced on national television because of his conspiracy theories about Vietnamese POW camps that still contain American prisoners. Braddock stares out of his window deep in thought, chugging an ice cold Bud while totally shirtless, watching the news as they argue whether or not there are American POWs still in Vietnam. Occasionally, he flips the channels to catch Spider-Man cartoons and I seriously thought the film was suddenly becoming a bad bootleg of it, because the shot just meanders for minutes on an episode. There may not seem like there was a purpose for this, but at the time Cannon Films was trying to get their Spider-Man flick off the ground that director Joseph Zito was attached to direct at one point and seeing as how he directed Missing in Action, it seemed like a fun connection.

Braddock comes out of hiding and heads to Vietnam to get some face time with the press and although the Vietnamese government has “witnesses” that claim there are no POWs, he knows otherwise. With the aid of a female reporter whose name escapes me because she matters so little, he uses her as a cover (under the covers) to sneak about a general’s compound to squeeze out some information from General Tran, who you might recognize as Cassandra’s father from Wayne’s World 2. After scaring the shit out of the guy, General Tran coughs up some info on the whereabouts of the prisoners, Chuck escapes a bunch of guards and says goodbye to his female reporter friend and so do we, because she’s not seen or heard from again. I’m certain her only purpose as basically the only female in the movie with a speaking role was to provide some really good side-boob. There are other women in the film, but they are pretty much just topless set pieces. Like I said, Golan and Globus knew how to exploit anything.

His journey continues further into Vietnam, thwarting scumbags that are out to stop him, usually by roundhouse kicking them into or out of things, like windows, walls, you name it. Braddock teams up with an old army buddy, Jack Tucker (M. Emmet Walsh) to help him get what he needs… firepower. And poon, if he wanted, but Braddock ain’t got no time for the pussy. Tuck, on the other hand, practically buries himself in it. Can’t say I blame the man, seeing as he’s afraid to go back into the warzone, but if I him I would be far more concerned with amount of STDs he’s probably contracted. You could wring out his underwear into a beaker and create a new virus.

The two buddies head down river in a sweet, kevlar coated pontoon boat mounted with an M-60 machine gun to continue their search. Needless to say, it’s not going to be easy, especially when there are too many bad guys for Chuck to karate chop or roundhouse kick. Good thing he brought and arsenal with him. After all, you want to see shit get blown up real good, don’t you. The film is odd when it comes to this. The action is either kind of lacking a punch, for lack of a pun, or it is way over the top. For example, when Braddock props a grenade on his jeep, so when the enemy jeep rams it, it explodes. It looks like someone threw a handful of dirt at the thing as people jumped away in all directions. But then you have moments where a camp explodes and Joseph Zito captures it from like four different angles and you watch it from every single one as this things erupts into a giant fireball. Most of the gunfire is reduced to Chuck just spraying a machine gun in all directions as guys fall over, so nothing to comment on that, other than it’s usually to get the body count up. It’s as if they sunk all of their money into a few action scenes and forgot that there were more. Chuck can’t karate kick his way out of all of them!

Saying that Missing in Action is a product of its era is an understatement. It very much spoke to an early ‘80s, post Vietnam when there was a strong sense of American pride, bitter from losing a controversial war. Much like Rambo: First Blood Part II, audiences were given a disgraced war hero given a chance at redemption, so he plunges into the depths of his formal Hell to rescue some POWs. Needless to say, Rambo is much better looking and better made film, but it also had about $42 million dollars more to spend. Given for what it is, Missing in Action is a pretty decent action flick that gives you exactly what you want; a brooding hero with a vendetta and a mission and nothing is going to stop him. The film isn’t necessarily non-stop action, taking breathers occasionally to develop plot, but when it does that the scene usually ends with a group of bad guys bursting into the room to either get drop kicked or blown away. Both are done well and you totally buy Chuck as war hero Braddock, but the film isn’t the best display of what a leading man Chuck Norris can be, as he doesn’t have a massive amount of dialogue and his fight scenes are usually over quick and he’s often paired with people that know how to fight back or take a licking.

Not taking anything away from the film, because it’s an absolute blast and with or without nostalgia, it’s a prime example of ‘80s action exploitation films, but I don’t believe it holds up as well as most of us remember. Sure, Chuck Norris is bad ass as Braddock, there’s plenty of shootouts and explosions, American pride for sale and what not, but it feels a bit like Rambo-lite. Again, not taking anything away from the film and certainly not the performances, because these characters are fun as hell, but it’s not as grand as I recall. That’s a side effect with most Cannon movies, seeing as they were made cheap and on the fly. Of course being younger when we first viewed these, they are going to seem much larger than life, but thirty years later, you can definitely see the weaknesses of them. However, that doesn’t affect the long lasting staying power of these movies and that’s what Cannon (unintentionally?) did; made fun as hell flicks that get some mileage and Missing in Action is a ton of fun.

#MonsterMovieMonday: Creature from the Haunted Sea

Ho-wdy, Monster Mashers!


Today’s fright fest is a creepy cheapie from the King of the Bs, Roger Corman. It’s a MAD Magazine mash-up of monsters and mobsters known as…
Creature from the Haunted Sea is the third in a series of funny fright films Corman produced in the late ’50s and early ’60s, the previous two being  A Bucket of Blood (1959) and The Little Shop of Horrors (1960). While those brilliantly bloody burlesques are seen as B-movie masterworks, Creature has dwelled in relative obscurity for decades now. The advertising sold the film as a straight Ho-rror picture, which it certainly is not. Naturally, the film pissed of a lot of creep-seekers and the film did poorly.  That’s a shame, because this a pretty groovy Ho-rror comedy.
Okay, so it ain’t the most hilarious film ever made and it didn’t spawn a musical remake with Rick “King of Kings” Moranis, but it’s stuffed with quirky ideas and a deliberate goofiness. Its combination of spy spoof, crime comedy, and Ho-rror humor is very much of its time, but that only makes it serve as a goofy sort of time capsule. Plus, it has one of the greatest goofball monsters of all time…
Ho-ly crap! That’s what happens when you don’t give Cookie Monster a cookie!

Do you dare face the “terror” of… The Creature from the Haunted Sea?!

Goon Review: Cyberjack (AKA Virtual Assassin)

(Submitted by our Goon Reviewer, Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

Well, the future didn’t quite turn out the way the ‘90s thought it would, did it? Computers, as advanced as they are, can’t quite do everything we thought they would do, especially make a computer virus biological and giving the host the ability to shoot it out of their eyes. Kinda missed the mark on that one just a bit. Black leather jackets with random pieces of plastic armor stapled to them didn’t quite become the fashion trend we expected them to, nor did using way too much hair gel and spiking it in random directions. You know what else didn’t work out? The cynical, snarky attitude of these movies that seemed to scream, “fuck you, grandpa! You’re too old and slow and we’re hip!” I don’t really know where I’m going with this and my segway isn’t really going to work the way I thought it was going to, but I think regardless of how bad these movies got, we always remembered them; Hackers, The Lawnmower Man, The Net, or any movie that featured someone frantically typing a keyboard spouting nonsense, really… I could go on.

And then there are the films we have forgotten, until you see them and then you wish you could forget all about them. Movies like Game Over, aka Maximum Surge and Cyberjack, aka Virtual Assassin (I can never tell which is more stupid’ the actual title or the alternate title), the latter of which I recently picked up at a pawn shop for sixty cents and no matter how many times I stick a fork in the light socket, I can’t short circuit my brain and burn the memory of this movie out of my head. I don’t know how else to explain how generically stupid it is, but this is one of those instances where that makes it more enjoyable. How else to explain it? Well the film is pretty much Die Hard mixed with every bad ‘90s cyberpunk movie, complete with bad wardrobes and goofy techno-babble and there isn’t really anything to comment on without making fun of it since it’s wildly ridiculous… so let’s just do that, shall we?

Michael Dudikoff, who must have been taking a break from “starring” in all those American Ninja movies, stars as ex-cop turned janitor, Nick James. Oddly enough, at no point does he shout at anyone, “I’m Nick James, bitch!” Can we pause for a second and ask the real question at matter here; does anything really star Michael Dudikoff? I mean, sure the guy kinda knows martial arts, but let’s face it… he’s kind of a weenie, with his prepubescent teen voice and his, erm, beautiful head of hair. Alright, so the guy may not quite be at the level of B-movies, but I would say at least C to higher grade of Z-movies.

Anyway, he’s the janitor at this high tech, super lab place that makes all kinds of techy, computery things. You know, the kind that doesn’t matter, because even for made up mumbo-jumbo it’s total bullshit. It’s here that a scientist, Dr. Royce and his way too hot daughter, Alex (Suki Kaiser), are developing some kind of a computer virus that is becoming too intelligent (I think, seeing as it’s kind of unclear) and is the first virus that can also become biological that will give the host supercomputer powers, I guess since it’s heavily foreshadowed that’s what will happen later. This calls the attention of an elite hacker terrorist group led by Brion James who sports a black leather jacket with shoulder pads that only could have existed in the ‘90s and created by Rob Liefeld and hair styled after Dragon Ball Z’s Gogeta. He and his goons storm the place and take it over, threatening to execute everyone inside if they don’t get control of the virus. But there is one slight oversight to their plan… their roster of employees fortunately doesn’t include the janitorial staff, which seems to only compose of one man. And that man is none other than Nick James, who is almost immediately discovered and shot in the arm, but luckily he’s a tough guy in a ‘90s action movie, so he just walks that shit off. He kinda just hides in a vent for a while and watches as some of the hostages get wasted and Alex’s father gets shot dead for trying to shutdown the virus. Come to think of it, he’s kind of a lousy hero.

He eventually does come out of hiding, take out some of the terrorists using gimmicks like a hologram where he uses multiple images of himself to outsmart a goon and sock him right in the nose. It’s a scene that tries to make the hologram scene from Total Recall more artsy, like 2001 with strobing lights that follow people running down a hallway. It actually makes the action scene a little confusing. Anyway, Nick finally gets a gun and mows down the stereotyped thugs, including the black guy who speaks with a Rastafarian accent, because his trait is that he’s the black guy. There’s also the wildman with bleach blonde hair named Numb who is constantly cackling madly to himself and intently staring at people and saying off putting, creepy things in an attempt to be, well, creepy, but he’s more annoying and I wish I could repeatedly kick him in the nuts until he’s crying so hard that he can no longer cry and make noise. He could not exit the movie fast enough. But that’s just me.

Finally, they break through the firewalls, hack the mainframe and Brion James hooks himself into the computer and uploads the virus into himself and, boy, do I feel stupid for writing all of that out. Brion James can now shoot green computer energy from his eyes and hack into things, like SWAT team members that are apparently androids and has them attack the police so he can make his escape. However, he didn’t count on the resilience and martial arts training of a computer engineering conglomerate’s janitorial custodian! The final confrontation is extremely flaccid. It’s like sex lasting only a few seconds and you’re like, “oh, that’s it?” But, you’re happy it’s just over. That’s this movie.

I did skip a few things, like how Brion James is the one who caused Nick to lose his job as a police officer, but once you see how lousy he was at his job, I would say that it was overdue or he was gonna be on his way out the door sooner or later. There’s also a subplot that involves a sportsball team (they never say which sport, but I would guess that it’s baseball) and Nick and Alex constantly make jokes about how their outfield sucks or whether or not this team won the big game, but it’s just trappings. Nick has also lost a lot of money betting on this team and owes some mobster a ton of money who eventually comes after him, but Nick runs away and then it’s dropped faster than Cannon Film’s Masters of the Universe 2. I think it was just a way to show off their pointless technology, like the CRT videophone.

You know what? Let’s talk about the technology for a second. In these type of movies, there is this needlessness to overly complicate something that is already fine and simple. Take for instance a security card you scan through a reader on a door. You swipe it, the reader accepts it, the door unlocks and you go through it. Simple and effective. Toward the beginning when Nick goes to work, he swipes his card and then a monitor in front of him has to display his own photo and personal information – which I’m sure he’s more than well aware enough of – and then it has to read it back to him. Why? Because, computers! And technology! Look at how advanced it is! Isn’t that more impressive than just swiping a goddamn card? It does give Michael Dudikoff the opportunity to throw out a one liner. Here’s a spoiler; it sucks.

First of all, how the hell did this movie cost two million dollars? I don’t even see half of that on screen, which is something that seems to be a staple of these movies; over expensive that doesn’t perform at the box office or goes straight to video and is almost immediately forgotten about. I mean, this is a film that doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry nor are there any reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. It seems that the whole world doesn’t know about this movie, so allow me to be one of the few to introduce you to this direct to video dreck. Sure, the plot is nothing more than a rip-off of one of the greatest action movies of all time, but the aesthetic of putting it in an overly complicated and silly cyberpunk world makes it fun simply for the aesthetic. And its overall badness.

#MonsterMovieMonday: The Wasp Woman (1959)

“I’d stay away from wasps if i were you, Mrs. Starlin. Socially the queen wasp is on the level with a Black Widow spider. They’re both carnivorous, they paralyze their victims and then take their time devouring them alive. And they kill their mates in the same way, too. Strictly a one-sided romance.”

Ho-wdy, Monster Maniacs!

We’re just buzzing with eXXXcitement about today’s creature feature! It’s a stinging work of terror from the King of the Bs, Mr. Roger Corman!  Can your heart withstand the shocking ho-rror of…
Released in 1959, The Wasp Woman tells the story of Janice Starlin, played by Susan Cabot. Ms. Starlin is the founder, owner, and spokeswoman for a large cosmetics company. When her company’s sales begin to plummet, her aging appearance is blamed for their decline. In a desperate attempt to appear young, she becomes the willing guinea pig for an eXXXperiment that uses the jelly of the queen wasp to reverse the aging process. Of corpse, it goes wrong and we’re treated to some cl-ass-sick monster madness!
Okay, so the plot’s a little groan-worthy (feminist, it ain’t) and it’s more than a little goofy, but this film is a really groovy creepy cheapie. Susan Cabot is actually pretty compelling as the were-insect, and the rest of cast is good(ish ;)). It’s been called one of the “worst movies ever,” but that’s hardly fair. While I do wish it had more of the tit-ular creature, what we do see is spooky stuff. Bonus points for Susan Cabot actually being in the mask!
Feel the sting of The Wasp Woman below:

SIDE NOTE: We also rec checking out the 1995 remake with the dreamiest of Dream Warriors, the incomparable Ms. Jennifer Rubin. 🙂 xoxo

Happy Mystery Science Theater 3000 Season 11 Release Day!!!

SUPER IMPORTANT UPDATE: I FOUND MY CREDIT!!!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled “MST3K Yay!” post…

Ho-wdy, my Mysterious MSTIES! It’s time to get yo happy on, for the ‘Bots are back in town!!! 🙂

Netflix just made the not-too-distant future the right-this-minute present with the release of Mystery Science Theater 3000 Season 11! Following a HUGELY successful Kickstarter campaign (which your Ho-stess happily contributed to! :)), MST3K has risen from the grave with a brand new bag o’ cheesy clas-sicks for ya! The original series is one of the most beloved series in all of nerd-dom and this new one seems to properly capture that ol’ Satellite of Love charm. 🙂

In ho-nor of the Return of MST3K, I thought I’d send some cheesy trailers…the worst I can find! Each trailer is for a film featured on the new MST3K. In total, there are 14 new movies for the hapless ho-st and the ‘Bots to “suffer” through. This new batch of films is made up of some the most delicious cinematic cheese, so I recommend you check them out both with and without Shadowrama. Two of them feature Caroline “Forever Goddess” Munro (Starcrash, At the Earth’s Core), so you know you’re in for some great B-movie awesomeness. 🙂

Check out the trailers below:

Reptilicus

Cry Wilderness

The Time Travelers

Avalanche

The Beast of Hollow Mountain

Starcrash

The Land That Time Forgot

The Loves of Hercules

Yongary: Monster from the Deep

Wizards of the Lost Kingdom

Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II

Carnival Magic

The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t

At the Earth’s Core

Welcome Back, MST3K. It’s good to hear you riffing again. 🙂 xoxo


Happy Birthday, Roger Corman!

A very Happy 91st (!) Birthday to the Pope of Pop Culture, Mr. Roger Corman! 🙂

There’s just no way overstate how Fang-Freakin’-Tastic this audacious auteur of awesome really is! He brought credibility to eXXXploitation films, made indie film-making cool, brought art films like from the likes of Kurosawa and Bergman to the mainstream, and jump-started the careers of everyone from James Cameron to Martin Scorsese. This brilliant B-movie badass also directed the original Little Shop of Horrors, so he indirectly gave us the steamy, dreamy manly meatiness that is Rick Moranis as Seymour Krelborn! For this feat alone, this man is my hero!! 😉
To skullebrate his birthaversary, we’re providing you fright fiends with one of King Corman’s favorites from his own catalogue: 1964’s The Masque of the Red Death!

While Hammer was scoring big with their takes of European fright favorites, Roger Corman went to (vampire) bat for the U.S.A. with his technicolor terror tales adapted from the works of American spookster Edgar Allan Poe. As eXXXcellent as the other Poe flicks are, I think his Masque of the Red Death is the sharpest spike on this iron maiden. Vincent “The Price is Fright” Price is at his Vincent Priciest here, cackling and creeping around as the nastiest monarch this side of King Joffrey! (#timelyreferencesaretimely ;)) The atmosphere is chilling and the cinematograophy is so colorfully creepy, one might suspect that Dario Argento took notes on this flick before making Suspiria. (#thingsthatmakeyougohmm #eventimlierreferencesaretimlier! :))

The film didn’t do too well at the time, but is now seen as a shining example of Corman’s greatness as a director. We here at KH just love it to pieces. If Ingmar Bergman decided to be awesome and make a ho-rror film, he would have made something like this! 🙂

To see Red, click on the box below:

Happy Birthday, Mr. Corman! You rock our kollectively Kinky socks!! 🙂 xoxoxo