After starting in Washington D.C. nine years ago Horror Movie Night has expanded to include chapters in Austin, Dallas and Chicago. Horror’s Not Dead’s own Brian Kelley is the originator and programmer of this illustrious weekly Wednesday night tradition which features a “classic” horror film. Each week I will be reviewing/commenting on the past week’s selection so do your best to find the film, most of which have not made it past VHS, and follow along. Better yet, start your own chapter!
Those direct-to-video titles can be quite a toss-up. When you would venture into the local VHS depository and scan the racks these crazy films with crazy titles and, sometimes, even crazier artwork would immediately catch the eye. That’s the job of the DTV flick: suck in the consumer and rake in the rental scratch. No matter what people might say, the majority of these films never amounted to much and usually left the viewer a tad down. You will get a gem every now and again but the odds are not in your favor. One such example is 1987’s Wizard Video release, under the “Too Gory for the Silver Screen” banner, Mutant Hunt. Certain parts of the film are brilliant and hysterical, but before the halfway point things get boring and never really recover.
In the future – though represented by a time period I believe we’ve already passed – many of the beings walking around on the planet are cyborgs. They serve many different functions and do jobs that others don’t want, but some are trying to beef them up for security and military applications. A small group of cyborgs have been given high doses of an aurally taken drug called Euphoron which has left them in a mutated state, stronger and more violent. The doctor who created them for a bad, bad man named Z is being held captive and his sister enlists the help of Matt Riker (Rick Giansi, who would play Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD) and his mercenary buddies to put a stop to the robotic killing and get her brother back.
Z – Excellent, they’re even more violent than I imagined. Our customers will be pleased, don’t you think?
This movie starts off on such a great note. There’s robot-on-robot violence within the first three minutes that send sparks flying all over and not long after than there’s an extended brawl between some Cyborgs and Riker while he’s in nothing but his briefs. The acting is wooden and the scenarios begin so ridiculously that you’ll assume you’re in for a grand 73 minutes. Unfortunately, most of what happens after the underwear battle is pretty lame. Everything drags on and nothing really ever gets solved. They only have three robots to hunt down and destroy and these “horrific killing machines” only maim two people in the whole freaking movie! Sigh.
However, there is still a cyborg that is defeated in Riker’s place that somehow comes back online to help the team bring down Z and the bad robots, and he is cool as hell. He’s all torn up and only has half of his human-like face so you can see the mess of wires behind the shell. He moves and acts like some kind of zombie robot. He’s by far the only interesting thing to happen in the last two thirds of the film. The rest of the time is spent with some uninteresting fight sequences and a bunch of nothing. Not to mention the fact that these cyborgs that have the ability to extend their arms across rooms and “superhuman strength” somehow can’t seem to break free when handcuffed to a small pipe.
For all this film’s faults that first act is pretty amazing. At times I wondered if I might have to turn the film off and start watching again later as I had a bit of a cold at the time and the non-stop laughter was quite painful. Luckily I was washing down cold medicine with beer so all worked out in the end. Not only do these robots dress like members of an 80s new wave band with all black outfits and dark sunglasses (think Devo-esque), but they act so stiff and perfect. You have to give it to director Tim Kincaid, he really knows how to utilize the bad actors that are cheaper to hire. They already act stiff and inhuman so make them cyborgs and voila, success.
Speaking of Kincaid, this is a man who has quite an interesting career. For a brief period in the mid-to-late 80s he made several films in the horror, sci-fi and exploitation genres. These films never really did too well but some have earned DTV cult status over time, like Breeders and Robot Holocaust. Where ever did he learn this efficiency and quickness in making low budget flims? Yep, it was gay porn. For years before, and after, his detour into mainstream film Kincaid has made gay adult films under the name Joe Gage. He’s quite popular in certain circles and even made one of the most famous male sex films of all time, L.A. Tool & Die (1982). Quite an interesting path lead to the making of this movie.
On a semi-interesting side note, I geeked out to watch this movie and didn’t even mean to. Earlier in the day I met a friend for coffee and threw on the first shirt my hands grabbed in the closet. When I got home I plopped down on my couch and began to watch and about halfway through I happen to look down at my chest and realize that I was wearing my Wizard Video shirt whilst watching a Wizard DTV flick. I swear I wasn’t being that nerdy on purpose, but I guess my subconscious didn’t want to let me down.
This is not one that I really recommend you sit down to watch. At least not without ample beers and some friends to make a few cracks. The beginning does indeed rock and some of the FX, especially on our friendly zombie robot, but you are on your own for the rest of the film.
Until next week – remember that Devo are all robots.
Body Count: 14 robots, 3 humans
First Death: 2:20
Best Death: Two cyborgs killed when their faces are smashed under someone’s boots
Length of Underwear Fight Scene: 2:40
Coming soon to Horror Movie Night (Chronicles are posted one week after screening):
-12/14/11: Society (1989)
-12/21/11: HMN Christmas Edition – TBA
-12/28/11: The Shaft (2001) aka Down
-1/4/12: The Carrier (1988)