Sunday, December 14, 2014

YouTube Finds :: Things Go Boom on Any Given Sunday in the National Commando League :: Fabrizio De Angelis' The Last Match (1991)


After she's framed for smuggling drugs out of the island republic of Midnightxpressistan, Susan Gaylor (Palmisano) sends out an S.O.S. to her dad, Cliff (Tobias), who plays quarterback for the Otisburgh Generics of the National Fauxball League. Naturally, a distraught Cliff exhausts every legal venue to prove her innocence and get his daughter out of prison. But confronted with impudent shoulder-shrugging from the American embassy and mass corruption everywhere else (the police, the prison commandant, even his own defense attorney), no matter how much he monetarily greases the wheels, Cliff only has one option left and it's the craziest audible ever called.


For the first 70 minutes, The Last Match a/k/a L'ultima meta (1991) is a rather tedious Lifetime Original knock-off as the film bides its own sweet time with daddy/daughter/worthless boyfriend melodrama mixed with an oddly sanitized Women in Prison flick to get to the climax that amazing, seemingly too good to be true, poster art promises. And what's truly amazing is how accurate the poster actually is (-- well, except for the blatantly misleading Orange Crush era Denver Bronco uniforms --) in describing the action for the last 25 minutes or so when this thing reaches a whole 'nother level of inspired lunacy.


For you see, with nowhere else left to turn, Cliff calls on his team for help -- and rather blunt help at that. Led by his coach, simply referred to as Coach (Borgnine), several teammates (all ex-servicemen, apparently) arrive, armed to the teeth, with every intention of busting Susan out of prison. And, after a brief training montage (-- a shameless grope at The Dirty Dozen), this commando assault on the heavily fortified prison is executed, wait for it, IN FULL UNIFORM!


E'yup. That's right. As Coach calls the plays from a circling helicopter, a platoon of armed, helmeted, and padded-up football players pull an A-Team by way of Golan 'n' Globus and a New World Filipino shoot-em-up. (Hut! Hut! Hut! Hut! Hut! Hut!) Filling these roles are several true NFL veterans. (I only recognized Jim Kelly). And all one can do is watch and boggle as this unfolds, with wave after wave of guards being mowed down, 'splosions, and limited peripheral vision, culminating with a grenade being stuffed into a football and then punted into an approaching helicopter which promptly explodes. No. I am not making that up. And what's even more amazing, from the arrest, through Cliff's failed efforts at diplomacy, to the assault, this whole thing takes place between two Sundays! As the post-International incident epilogue finds the whole gang back on the field to win one for the one guy who, quite laughably, didn't make it.




From the brazen hook to the asinine plot wrapped around it, The Last Match really did feel like a Cannon product, especially when considering a cast that's littered with Ernest Borgnine, Martin Balsam (as the corrupt lawyer), Charles Napier (as the worthless ambassador), and Henry Silva (as the lecherous commandant). But, no. This film can be traced to Italy.


I was not real familiar with director Fabrizio De Angelis, but his producing credits are quite impressive, covering everything from body-count flicks, to zombies, to post-apocalyptic barbarian/biker movies. Also adding a lot of genre clout were co-scriptwriters Vincenzo Mannino and Gianfranco Clerici, who worked rather extensively with the likes of Umberto Lenzi, Lucio Fulci and Ruggero Deadoto, with Cannibal Holocaust, The New York Ripper, The House at the Edge of the Park, The Last Shark, and The Beyond written between them. And with that pedigree, you'd think this thing would be a lot less cartoony and a lot more sleazy.


As is, The Last Match runs the gambit of boring to baffling to completely bonkers. And as far as I can tell, though it appears to be shot in English for that market, the film was never released "legally" in the United States. However, there are several gray market options available and last check there was a decent print streaming on YouTube (-- with what appears to be Cantonese subtitles). But as a Public Service Announcement, since I've already given away the set-up, feel free to fast-forward to the raid on the prison because, for once, the poster and video box do not lie. Well, at least for the last twenty or so minutes.


The Last Match (1991) Fulvia Film / EP: Mark Young / P: Fabrizio De Angelis / D: Fabrizio De Angelis / W: Gianfranco Clerici, Vincenzo Mannino / C: Giuseppe Ruzzolini / E: Adriano Tagliavia / M: Guglielmo Arcieri / S: Oliver Tobias, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Napier, Henry Silva, Martin Balsam, Melissa Palmisano

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Movie Poster Spotlight :: Foreign Jobs :: A Set of Italian Photobustas for Ishirô Honda's Destroy All Monsters (1968)










Destroy All Monsters (1968) Toho Company :: American International / P: Tomoyuki Tanaka / D: Ishirô Honda / W: Ishirô Honda, Takeshi Kimura / C: Taiichi Kankura / E: Ryôhei Fujii / M: Akira Ifukube / S: Akira Kubo, Jun Tazaki, Yukiko Kobayashi, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Kyôko Ai

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Karloff-A-Go-Go :: A Beer-Gut Reaction to Santos Alcocer's Cauldron of Blood (1970)


Arriving at a rundown, gypsy-infested tourist trap-cum-artist colony somewheres along the coast of Spain, swingin' travelogue writer Claude Marchand (Aumont) begins searching for an "in" to get himself an audience with the famed but notoriously reclusive sculptor, Franz Badulescu (Karloff), for a rare interview. And find it he does at a local cantina, where the owner, Shanghai (Quesada), steers him toward another local artist named Valerie (Monteros), who, along with her favorite model and sun-bathing enthusiast, Elga (Zurakowska), is good friends with Badulescu's wife.


Now, Tanya Badulescu (Lindfors) is a bit of an odd duck. Plagued by some bizarre nightmares that have there roots in repressed childhood memories from the war of being whipped and beaten by what appears to be reasonable facsimile of Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS, Tanya comes off a bit unhinged as she appears to be channeling her tormentor, judging by her leather outfits, closet full of whips, and a seemingly pathological need to lash out at and torment her deaf and dumb maid (Speed). Tanya is also very overprotective of her decrepit husband, which is odd since he is constantly accusing her of trying to kill him. In fact, he claims she caused the accident that recently crippled and blinded him. A notion she doesn't really confirm or deny -- he typed ominously...


Anyways, still needing to make money, Tanya is helping out with the latest commission; a three-dimensional recreation of some famous painting involving two women, a dog, and deformed man. Enter Marchand, who asks the artist, known for his uncanny realism, about the rumors he uses actual animal skeletons for his armatures. The Badulescus skirt the question and Tanya quickly cuts the interview off and escorts the reporter and Valerie to the door. Once they're gone, more marital barbs fly about the origin of the support structure of this latest sculpture, which is only half completed (-- the man and the dog). And while Tanya insists the bones were dubiously procured from a nearby cemetery, the viewer can't help but connect some earlier scenes of an unknown trenchcoat boogeyman stalking and killing a hunch-backed beach bum and a stray mutt. Also, as she puts her distraught husband to bed (and gives him an injection to make sure he stays there), Tanya announces she has a line on the skeletons needed to complete the piece. And as she predatoraly leers at the original painting, one also can't help but notice the two damsels bare more than a striking resemblance to Valerie and Elga -- he typed ominously, again...


You know, I had heard nothing good about the films of Boris Karloff post Peter Bogdonivich's Targets (1968). And though I freely admit Cauldron of Blood (1970) isn't all that good by any stretch or breaks any new ground, genre wise, I still found myself digging it (-- in an errant puppy's first encounter with a slide-whistle sense). The film is a complete mess, sure, but it is an interesting mess. Okay, fine: an interesting and completely disposable mess that, I think, is still worth at least one spin on your screen, mostly due to Viveca Lindfors's performance as the Big K's conniving wife.


Technically, Cauldron of Blood a/k/a Blind Man's Bluff predates Targets, the film most Karloff fans wished was the final coda to a staggeringly awesome career as the King of the Boogeymen. An American-British-Spanish co-production, it was shot in 1967 but was subsequently shelved until its eventual release in 1970 to, perhaps, cash-in on the horror star's death in 1969. It was a troubled production from the very beginning, with shaky financing and a last minute cast change. Apparently, Karloff wasn't even intended to be in the film. Seems producer Roberth Weinbach had originally cast Claude Rains in the role of the sculptor, but the actor's own health woes and untimely death had the production scrambling for a replacement.


Enter Karloff, who, to be honest, hardly appears in the film. (He doesn't even garner top-billing.) Basically reduced to a human set-piece, like his replacement, Glenn Strange, in the later Universal monster rallies, this is understandable, considering the actor's own deteriorating health. One tries not cringe as he painfully putters around, always the trooper, giving the director, Santos Alcocer, everything he can. I just wish his reward for this had been a better film.


If a person wanted to be generous, you could consider Cauldron of Blood a transition piece between the Gothic melodramas of the late 1950s and the grittier, sleazier, and a whole lot bloodier Euro-Shockers of the late 1960s. By the time this film was made, the cryptic kookiness of the German krimi and the sex and sleaze of the Italian gialli were really starting to rev-up. And while the former helped inspire the later, influences were now going both ways; so much so that it was getting harder and harder to tell them apart. Cauldron of Blood draws heavily from this cross-pollinated gene pool and, well, this kind of cinematic inbreeding is bound to produce some defects. The proper genetic markers are there and, in more competent hands, they might have really had something -- something a little less tedious and a lot less plodding, one would hope. As is, the film is stuck in some sort of nebulous limbo where it isn't suspenseful enough or sleazy enough or even stupid enough to be entertaining on any level.


Thus, Cauldron of Blood's problems are many. Predictability being another one. The pilfered House of Wax plot is easily sniffed out before the first reel expires, and that Tanya is behind it all before the second. And from there, it's hampered by too many irrelevant subplots (slightly pink herring, gratuitous fortune telling, and a beach-front land grab), one real dunderhead of a hero (who engineered that land grab), and the Art of Noise soundtrack is a tad disjointing. As was the editing in general. And yet, just when I was about to write the whole thing off, the film would focus on Lindfors' Tanya being all whackadoodle again as she spins a lesbianic web to ensnare Elga, who is murdered by her secret lover (the Trenchcoat Boogeyman) and taken to a hidden chamber underneath the Badulescu estate, where her body is dipped in a huge vat of acid and reduced to pile of bones. (And like in a lot of these movies, the acid eats through everything except the ligaments, 'natch.) And though these sequences don't quite reach an escape velocity to outer-delirium, it was close enough for me.



And as we reach the climax, the ever worthless Marchand wanders off to watch some belly-dancers at the gypsy camp, leaving Valerie to unravel the disappearance of Elga. And unravel it she does, getting herself kidnapped in the process and bundled off to Tanya's secret lair. Meanwhile, a suspicious Franz manages to stumble upon this hidden lair and catches his wife before her latest victim is dipped. And while the Badulescus brawl below, our *ahem* hero finally blunders in and has the world's most clumsiest Batman-esque kerfuffle with Trenchcoat Boogeyman (whose identity is all too obvious). And all that leaves us with a post-climax coda where a distraught Franz completes a murder-suicide ritual in an embarrassingly bizarre skip-framed fueled sprint to the cliffs and the ocean below. I'm telling ya, all that was missing was a Boots Randolph serenade.


So, yeah, Cauldron of Blood is mess of poor directorial choices, script predictability, and wasted potential everywhere else. However, I will offer one caveat on this assessment. There's a pretty good chance I watched a TV cut of Cauldron of Blood via YouTube. That, or the editing was even more incompetent than I thought. If you do feel brave enough to give it a spin after reading this, I fear a pre-apology might be in order. The sets and production design were sufficiently trippy, I guess. Monteros and Zurakowska are completely adorable. And the opening credits were kinda cool. As for the remaining 90 odd minutes ... well, just cling onto Karloff and Lindfors as tight as you can.


Cauldron of Blood (1970) Producciones Cinematográficas Hispamer Films :: Robert D. Weinbach Productions :: Tigon :: Cannon Film Distributors / P: Robert D. Weinbach / AP: Donald Havens, Gilbert Simmons / D: Santos Alcocer / W: Edward Mann, John Melson, José Luis Bayonas / C: Francisco Sempere / E: José Antonio Rojo / M: Ray Ellis / S: Jean-Pierre Aumont, Boris Karloff, Viveca Lindfors, Rosenda Monteros, Dyanik Zurakowska, Milo Quesada, Jacqui Speed

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Brief Announcement.


Hello, Boils and Ghouls. Well, shit,  it is with a slightly defective heart that I must announce all updates for Micro-Brewed Reviews and all her sister sites will most probably remain suspended for the foreseeable future. The reason? Two weeks ago I suffered a "cardiac event." And while the cadre of medical professionals take their own sweet time to get to the bottom of this, they felt this wasn't too serious, but, it could be a warning sign of something truly dire. (My money's on congestive heart failure.) Thus and so, I have officially joined the list of the over-medicated (-- take one of these, and then take one of these to counter the side-effects of that, and then take this to counter the side-effects of that...), as everything I've taken thus far seems to be making things only worse. Yeah, between the vertigo, PVCs, and the insomnia, not adjusting well at all. And while I try to make peace with all this my brain just cannot focus long enough to get anything written, let alone posted. Hopefully, this will get straightened out soon. Until then, Happy Hallowe'en, and if you got any spare good vibes, feel free to send them my way.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Time for the Annual Goodbye. So, Goodbye.


Between you and me, the month of August, 2014, can go @$%* itself with a crooked thorny stick, eat a big pile of cat poop, choke on it, but then live to think about what it's done. Why so angry? Lets count the reasons: One, a shredded plantar fascia in a work related incident, leading to some workman's comp hoops to jump through, which is really hard to do when your foot has essentially been destroyed. Two, my air-conditioner broke to the tune of money I simply do not have. And the tune is so great it makes financial sense to just replace the whole thing. Did I mention how hot and humid it is here? Again, either way, I ain't got the moneys. Three, a long planned return to the Riverside Drive-In for the Super Monster-Rama was scuttled not once, but twice. First, for very stupid reasons, the second, physical due to the shredded tendon. Also, turns out, I am broke. All of this, of course, is not "technically" August's fault. I'm just lashing out, and the month agreed to take one for the team. August is cool like that.


Anyhoo, so, yeah, I am definitely ready for the Annual September Sabbatical. Thus and so, I will be off the web until the calendar flips to October, where I've finally decided to take part in one of those month long Halloween movie challenges: 26 alphabetical films in 26 days. From Anthropophagus to Zombie Lake. Should be interesting. Until then, Boils and Ghouls, stay cool!



Video courtesy of artistwithouttalent.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cannon Fodder: The Roundtable :: Trailer Park :: Charles Bronson Forgets What's Legal and Does What's Right for The Go-Go Boys in J. Lee Thompson's 10 to Midnight (1983)

___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___

"When anybody does something like this, 
his knife has gotta be his penis." 
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When Lt. Leo Kessler (Bronson) identifies and arrests a ruthless psychopath, responsible for the brutal switchblade slayings of several women, thanks to some legal red tape, this serial killer goes free. And when his next target strikes a little too close to home, the clock is soon ticking and time is running out for our hero, who must now take the law into his own hands...



Video courtesy of MOVIECLIPS Classic Trailers.  

"If you make an American film with a beginning, a middle and an end, with a budget of less than five million dollars," said the late movie mogul, Menahem Golan, "You must be an idiot to lose money." Born Menahem Globus, the Israeli native's first exposure to filmmaking was working as an assistant for Roger Corman while he made The Young Racers (1963). After learning all he could from the low-budget shlockmeister, Golan teamed up with his cousin, Yoram Globus, and formed Noah Productions in 1964 and never looked back. And when Dennis Friedland and Chris Dewey's financially strapped Cannon Films came on the market in 1979, and Golan and Globus, affectionately known as The Go-Go Boys, bought them out and took over, the 1980s, cinematically speaking, had no clue what was about to hit them. 



For, even though several films they had produced, dating back to their Noah days, had garnered them several Academy Award nominations for Best Foreign Film, and things like Cassavette's Love Streams (1984) and Konchalovsky's Runaway Train (1985) germinated under Cannon's banner, what really buttered the Go-Go Boys bread were their exploitative A-Budgeted B-Pictures, which helped fill the gaping void left when American International went tits up and Corman's own New World Pictures, which had thrived so brilliantly in the 1970s, dried up as the market for this kind of picture shifted from the disappearing grind-houses and drive-ins to the multiplexes and home video. Basically, for every Barfly (1987), there was an Alien from L.A. (1988), Gor (1987) and The Happy Hooker Goes to Hollywood (1980); and for every Hanoi Hilton or Street Smart (both 1987) there was a Detective School Drop Outs (1986), Firewalker (1986), Ninja Hunt (1986), Schizoid (1980), or Bloodsport (1988). 



Developing a formula that soon found them producing and distributing nearly 30 movies a year, Cannon Films had the knack for cashing in on current fads both in film and popular culture, resulting in a catch-all catalog of urban and oddball musicals (The Apple, Breakin' and Breakin' 2), sword and sorcery (The Barbarians, Lou Ferrigno's Hercules movies), raunchy comedies (Making the Grade, The Last American Virgin), soft-core sleaze (Bolero, The Wicked Lady), martial arts (Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja), serial slashers (New Year's Evil, X-Ray), sci-fi misfires (Masters of the Universe, Lifeforce) and franchising out with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) and Death Wish II (1982), which brought Charles Bronson into their stable for three more sequels and a whole lot more. 


If Cannon Films had three crown jewels in their film empire, Bronson would be one of them, Chuck Norris the second (Delta Force, Invasion U.S.A., and the Missing in Action series), and Sylvester Stallone would be the third (Over the Top, Cobra). Maybe four jewels if you wanna count The Dudikoff (Avenging Force, Platoon Leader). And who wouldn't


Anyhoo, as I said, Bronson's first reprisal of vigilante Paul Kersey marked the beginning of his collaboration with Cannon Films. Seems Golan was so pleased with the box-office of Death Wish II and the draw of its star he immediately sent out feelers to producer Pancho Kohner and Bronson, offering to help finance or distribute whatever they wanted to do next. Kohner and Bronson had been working together since St. Ives (1976) and they had been trying to secure the rights to author R. Lance Hill's The Evil that Men Do for several years and pitched that to Golan. However, Hill asked for too much money and Golan withdrew the offer. But while one hand pulled away, another was extended. He still wanted to make a movie with Bronson, just not THAT one. 


What followed next was a somewhat dubiously comical sleight-of-hand at the Cannes Film Festival, where Kohner pulled a potential title, 10 to Midnight, completely out of his ass, and then he and Golan, with just a mere notion of a film, started belching out buzzwords to impress potential buyers until the right combination of 'action', 'danger', "breasts', 'revenge' and 'Bronson' sealed the deal. Now all they needed was a script -- any script, and they found one lying around back in Los Angeles called Bloody Sunday, penned by William Roberts, and just scratched off the title and scrawled 10 to Midnight over the smudges. Roberts had penned The Magnificent 7 (1960) but had recently fallen flat on his face with The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981). He'd also worked with Bronson before, writing the deliriously wonderful Sushi-Western, Red Sun (1971), which co-starred Toshiro Mifune. To direct, Golan brought in another frequent Bronson collaborator, J. Lee Thompson, who had helmed the equally delirious JAWS knock-off, The White Buffalo (1977), and would go on to fire off most of Bronson's Cannon output.



Aside from his close association with Bronson, Thompson was probably best known for The Guns of Navarone (1961), Cape Fear (1962), and for polishing off The Planet of the Apes franchise with Conquest of (1972) and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973). (Thompson had been slated to direct the original POTA but scheduling conflicts with Mackenna's Gold scuttled this.) Before making 10 to Midnight, Thompson had just finished filming the Stalk 'n' Slash staple Happy Birthday to Me (-- where legend has it his producers had to rein him in when their director went a little gore-happy during the signature kills). And while I was keenly aware of the Slasher Movie overtones in the similar Chuck Norris vehicle, Silent Rage (1982), where our hero basically takes on Michael Myers and battles him to a draw, it wasn't until this most recent viewing where I finally realized how much of a genre mash-up 10 to Midnight was. Even more so than Silent Rage, really.



Yeah. On the surface, 10 to Midnight is a Bronson revenge piece, but Thompson and cinematographer, Adam Greenberg (who had been with Go-Go Boys since the Lemon Popsicle days and would shoot The Terminator next for James Cameron), shot and cut the film like a horror movie to great effect. Mind you, this 'great effect' was unabashedly and extremely sleazy, as the film is highly misogynistic, jammed packed with equal-opportunity nudity, with helpless, cowering women (either sluts or pure innocents) begging for their lives before being carved up like flank steak by our knife-wielding psycho.


Speaking of which, though he appears to be just an off the rack, Poor Man's Jan Michael-Vincent, Gene Davis is actually quite good as our mentally disturbed serial killer, Warren Stacy. Inspired by real life monsters Ted Bundy and Richard Speck (the character even drives a VW Bug), the decision to have Stacy commit his atrocities in the buff was most probably done to add another layer of sleaze to the proceedings as the audience becomes intimately familiar with every square inch of Davis' posterior; but, if you think about it, in the days before DNA testing, the move is actually pretty savvy, forensically speaking, leaving no blood spatter or trace elements to link him to the crime -- unless, say, somebody planted some. Say, hypothetically, some veteran, world weary cop who believes the law no longer serves to protect the public but to provide loopholes for people like Stacy and their skeevy lawyers to exploit. And, say, he steals some of the victim's blood from the lab, breaks into Stacy's apartment, and smears it on some of his clothes. 


"You go in that courtroom and forget what's legal and do what's right," says Kessler, who kinda reminded me of Lucas Davenport, the lead character in author John Sanford's Rules of Prey and its sequels; Davenport is also veteran cop, who was willing to bend the rules and plant evidence on the obviously guilty party to get them off the streets before they kill anybody else. (To be fair, both in the movie and the novels, the omnipresent audience/reader is keenly aware of the undeniable guilt of the perpetrator. In real life, things are never quite that concretely simple.) Thankfully, Bronson hadn't quite gotten around to mailing in this kind of role yet. And he brings a touch of humanity and cynical levity to the role, especially when he gets to spout out Freudian twaddle on the perverted modus operandi of the killer or wave Stacy's Ronco Pocket Vagina under his nose, hoping to rile him into a slip up during an interrogation.  


Saddled to this old warhorse, new partner Paul McAnn (Stevens) is smeared with a liberal brush (-- his father is a sociology professor at Berkeley, for cripesake), who is only there to, one, be completely spineless to help justify Kessler's tactics, and two, provide a love interest for Kessler's daughter, Laurie (Eilbacher). One of the genuine pleasures of the movie is the battered and weathered but still standing relationship between the Kesslers. (The scene in the hospital cafeteria with the quiche/pie conundrum is a hoot.) Luckily for Laurie she wasn't our hero's love interest because their life expectancy in a Bronson movie is even shorter than a Federation away team. Daughter or lover, in the end, it really doesn't matter because the main reason she's even here is to give the killer something personal to focus on and amp up the tension for the climax. 


See, thanks to the efforts of Stacy's lawyer (a wonderful glorified cameo by Geoffrey Lewis), who bluffs and bullies McAnn into investigating his client's claim of a frame-up, the blood evidence is tossed, the charges against Stacy are dismissed, and Kessler resigns in disgrace. It is interesting that even though McAnn discovered the truth and confronts Kessler, we never know for sure if he would've perjured himself to protect his partner. Judging by the script, odds are he would have, but before he can or is forced to, Kessler falls on his own sword and fesses up to the DA and the judge. But in true B-Movie fashion, this turn of events backfires on our villain. Because now, freed from things like due process and jurisprudence, Kessler is now in full vigilante mode, turning the tables on Stacy as he, in effect, stalks him just as he had stalked his victims. 



Tragically, also in standard B-Movie fashion, stirring Stacy up like this also triggers another horrific murder spree with a staggering amount of human collateral damage when he goes after Laurie at the nurses dormitory, slashing all of her roommates to death in a salaciously brutal fashion. (One of them played by Kelly Preston, billed as Kelly Palzis, another by that gal form Michael Jackson's Thriller video. One should also note at this point that Golan and Kohner seemed to be more than happy to let Thompson fling around as much blood and grue as he wanted to. Which he did. A lot.) When Laurie manages to escape this bloodbath, Stacy runs after her; and this harrowing foot chase comes to an unintentionally hilarious conclusion when Kessler, somehow, manages destroy the laws of physics, bending both space and time to his will, to not only catch up with them, but to somehow get ahead of them! Thus, with Laurie safe and the killer caught red-handed, Kessler listens, horrified, as Stacy gleefully lays out his insanity defense that will eventually get him back into society where he'll start all over again. What happens next, when Kessler objects, should come as a surprise to no one. 


Bronson's quip as he *ahem* punctuates this objection, and the gob-smacking execution of it, helped pave the way for the tongue-in-cheek, .475 caliber urban renewal of Death Wish III - V. And lets face it, this entire movie is a flimsy, rambling and ramshackle concoction of stacked circumstances so Bronson can eliminate the villain with justifiable prejudice. Of course, the audience isn't repulsed by the execution of his prisoner, they're too busy cheering. And given the context of the slayings, it's hard to call this film fun but it kinda is, morbidly so, for all the wrong reasons. And on top of the Death Wish franchise, the Go-Go Boys would send Bronson and Thompson back to mine this same vein in Murphy's Law (1986), Messenger of Death (1988), and Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects (1989). 



I believe it was Keith Allison over at Teleport City who first wistfully pondered the notion that all of Cannon Films output was part of the same cinematic universe, meaning Paul Kersey and Leo Kessler occupied the same urban streets as Ozone, Turbo and Special K; where James Braddock might've served with Jeff Knight and Mike McNamara; or Matt Hunter shared a city with Joe Armstrong and John Eastland; and while space vampires were invading London, a super ninja was massacring a shit-load of cops on a golf course somewhere in America. This, is the greatest idea of ever. Alas, this notion was never explored cinematically. What I do know, however, is Mark Hartley is following up his wonderful behind-the-scenes documentaries, Not Quite Hollywood (2008) and Machete Maidens Unleashed (2010), which focused on Australian and Filipino exploitation movies respectively, with Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014), which takes a look at the rise and fall of the Go-Go Boys and their film empire. 


Yeah, sadly, by the close of the decade, after a couple of high-profile flops and over-extending themselves with the purchase of Thorn-EMI Screen Entertainment, Cannon Films broke apart against the breakers of bankruptcy. At this time, personal beefs also found Golan severing ties with Globus, as well. And after several failed attempts to start a new solo production company in the 1990s (where he most notably failed to get a Spider-Man movie made but, even more sadly, managed to get Albert Pyun's Captain America made and released), and a brief but doomed reunion with his old partner, Menahem Golan was still at it, producing films up until 2007, and then kinda faded away until his death earlier this year. 


Long criticized for his emphasis on quantity over quality, I think Richard Kraft, a music supervisor for Golan and Globus, summed things up best when he compared Cannon's production pipeline to a bowel movement, and whether what fell into the toilet sunk or floated was irrelevant because the Go-Go Boys would just flush it and make another one. It's an absurdly appropriate metaphor. Yes, they made shit. And it was wonderful. Gloriously so. 


This post is just one part of Cannon Fodder: the Celluloid Zeroes latest Roundtable Tribute to mark the recent passing of Menahem Golan by celebrating The Go-Go Boys, Cannon Films, and all the Cineturds they left in sandbox that clogged the video aisles back in the 1980s. Please follow the linkage below as this tribute continues: 




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10 to Midnight (1983) Cannon Group :: City Films :: MGM / EP: Menahem Golan, Yoram Globus / P: Pancho Kohner, Lance Hool / D: J. Lee Thompson / W: William Roberts / C: Adam Greenberg / E: Peter Lee-Thompson / M: Robert O. Ragland / S: Charles Bronson, Lisa Eilbacher, Andrew Stevens, Gene Davis, Geoffrey Lewis, Wilford Brimley
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