MURDERCYCLE (1999) – Okay, I want a Ghost Rider vs Murdercycle film! ESPECIALLY with Nicolas Cage as Ghost Rider. Anyway, despite the title, this movie is a nice throwback to the days before so many low-budget filmmakers were trying to be intentionally over-the-top and campy with their productions and titles in hopes of garnering sales from a reputation for being so-bad-it’s-good.
Flicks like Suburban Sasquatch, Rubber, Lycan Colony and the Birdemic sequels take some of the joy out of bad movies in my opinion with their calculated awfulness. I prefer to soak in films that were trying to be straightforward but whose creative teams lacked the budget or the talent to fulfill the production’s potential.
Murdercycle was at least played straight without those constant winks and nods from the cast like we get in so many would-be Psychotronic movies today. The only cutesy in-joke comes from the names of several characters and it’s never acknowledged by the dialogue (see below).
Let’s take this from the top – an object from space lands near a Top Secret government facility concealed within a seeming shack in the middle of nowhere. It’s not a meteor but an alien weapon and when a man on a dirt bike draws near the fallen object he falls victim to its jack-in-the-box/ face-hugger tech.
In a bit of business that put me in mind of the 1980s Bruce Campbell movie Moon Trap, the alien device fuses with the nameless biker AND his motorcycle. The result is a deadly biomechanical entity that is part humanoid, part motorcycle and part alien Terminator. We have our Murdercycle!
When the tri-form Murdercycle uses its built-in laser weaponry to kill the lone government agent on guard at the Top Secret facility, General Hubert (sexploitation regular Robert Donavan) sends in a military team of Marines led by our main character Sergeant Kirby (Charles Wesley) but under the overall command of your regulation sleazy, double-crossing CIA man Agent Wood (Michael Vachetti).
The team is accompanied by a forensic scientist named Adams (Buddy Stoccardo) and a government psychic named Dr Lee (Cassandra Ellis, who never appeared in any other movie before or since). Dr Lee senses emotional turmoil in Sgt Kirby over a past mission that went wrong. Obviously, we viewers will learn all about it as the story unfolds.
Naturally, the CIA man is withholding information from the team about the true nature of the facility they are sent in to investigate. The Murdercycle begins killing them off one by one and ultimately we learn that the title menace was sent by aliens to take back its race’s technology. That tech was recovered by the government and was being studied in a secret bunker underneath the seemingly dilapidated building.
The Murdercycle is also duty-bound to kill all Earthlings in contact with the recovered alien technology. For a contemporary X-Files touch throw in a conspiracy buff who snuck into the Top Secret installation and is now trapped with our other characters in their life-or-death struggle.
Okay, while there’s nothing groundbreaking about this premise or setting, Murdercycle had enough elements in place to at least be a cult hit or a guilty pleasure B-Movie, right? Wrong. The first thing that went wrong is the involvement of bad movie legend Charles Band.
Band had been kicking around the ideas for this production since the 1980s, which is probably why this movie sounds like a combination of Aliens, Terminator, Predator and RoboCop. Execution is everything, however, and the cast falls short of competence, the script falls short of coherence and the amount of screen time for the Murdercycle is too little to carry the film like it should have been able to.
On the other hand, the film is not a disaster, either. Sure, you get bad movie elements like a Boom Mike making cameos, the in-joke character names which all relate to comic book artists and writers, plus inconsistencies regarding the Murdercycle itself.
The creature isn’t capable of silencing its motor and is always revving it full-blast, making it absurd the way it “sneaks up” on our main characters so frequently. Plus it’s somehow capable of squeezing itself through hallways and other areas which it is clearly too large to fit through. Worst of all, despite all its awesome built-in alien weaponry it is too often content to kill its victims by just running over them.
Everybody gets killed except for Sgt Kirby, Dr Lee and the conspiracy hound Frazetta. Teamwork between the psychic and Sgt Kirby manages to destroy the Murdercycle. Our three survivors decide to let the government think they were killed along with the rest of the team and head off to new lives and new identities elsewhere.
And, needless to say, we get a teaser for a possible sequel as the final shot of the movie shows part of the Murdercycle’s splattered remains stirring a bit.
Murdercycle is neither as bad as nor as good as it could have been. In the end it makes for a passable but not exceptional bit of fluff when you’re in the mood for something with an 80s feel that was made in the 90s. But just look at that badass Murdercycle and think about what could have been.
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