YELLOWHAIR AND THE FORTRESS OF GOLD (1984) – Reviewers need to lighten up about this movie. Especially over at IMDb. If those reviewers actually think this film deserves a low rating of 4.2 they’re being silly. I eat, sleep and breathe bad movies and I settled in to finally watch this supposed bomb fully expecting something hilariously awful. Nope. It’s no masterpiece but it’s a fairly good movie with a butt-kicking female lead.
Actually, Yellowhair and the Fortress of Gold is better than 1980s schlock like the Allan Quatermain flicks or many Chuck Norris films. The production values are above many other Eurowesterns, which is what this really is, despite its Raiders of the Lost Ark pretensions. They’re also above many, many Grade Z action movies of the decade.
In my opinion the admittedly dopey opening seems to prejudice too many reviewers, who harden into hatred before the movie properly gets underway. The success of the first Indiana Jones movie a few years earlier prompted many studios to try touting all their new action releases as being “like Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
To capture that same old-fashioned cinema/ Republic Serial feel, director Matt Cimber presents the opening moments of Yellowhair and the Fortress of Gold as a “meta” trip to a movie theater, complete with excited, squeeing children. To pile on the corn even more, there’s a melodramatic voice-over setting the scene by depicting this movie as if it’s the latest chapter of the serialized adventures of Yellowhair (Laurene Landon), our half-breed Indian heroine, and her platonic friend the Pecos Kid (Ken Roberson).
NOTE: Yes, that makes for a cringingly lame opening sequence but let’s face it, it’s only slightly more awkward than if Cimber had relied on setting the scene with an opening scroll like Star Wars and its sequels had revived years earlier and which other movies had been copying ever since. Anyway, you can tell some reviewers don’t bother watching beyond that opening sequence since their reviews bash the whole movie as if it’s like that. Actually, the voiceover disappears and the story proceeds like in any other film after that ill-advised opening dose of nostalgia. Continue reading
THE HISTORY OF TIME TRAVEL (2014) – This is not a bad movie, it’s simply a weird movie and I mean that in the best possible way. It’s a low-budget affair done as a faux documentary and since those have been done to death this film has not gotten the kind of attention it deserves.
Writer and director Ricky Kennedy has managed to combine the fake documentary approach with well-established time travel motifs to tell a story that is so touching I was literally in tears at the end. I’m not going Kevin “The Kryer” Smith on you readers, I’m just saying that if you pay attention to the tale unfolding in this enjoyable but challenging movie you can’t help but feel very moved.
The emotional impact has caused me to elevate The History of Time Travel above my previous favorite time travel film, Primer. Just like Primer, this Ricky Kennedy creation requires a viewer’s full attention to be appreciated. If you’re not in the mood to devote as much focus to THOTT as you would to reading a book then save it for a time when you ARE in such a mood.
The movie begins as a seemingly straightforward documentary about a scientist who pioneered actual time travel but that’s just the narrative device for examining the way time travel would enable changes to “history” without the larger world even being aware of what changes have been made. And yes, I know plenty of time travel stories have addressed such issues but THOTT combines it with a powerful emotional punch that sets it apart. Continue reading
May the Fourth is upon us once again. First up are some links to my previous Star Wars blog posts plus my full-length review of The Jet Benny Show, a Star Wars parody.
STAR WARS MEETS THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: THE MICRONAUTS – Click HERE
THE HUMANOID (1979): THE WORST STAR WARS RIPOFF EVER – Click HERE
MY REVIEWS OF THE LAST JEDI AND SOLO – Click HERE
STAR WARS SPOILERS – Click HERE
STAR WARS SPOILERS PART TWO – Click HERE
THE JET BENNY SHOW (1986) – Buy this for the Star Wars fan in your life … but only if you strongly dislike the Star Wars fan in your life. Buy this for the Jack Benny fan in your life … but only if they’re too old and feeble to be capable of inflicting grievous bodily harm on you.
I was glad to finally see this video curiosity after having heard tantalizingly little about it over the years. It was not remotely worth the wait but it was good to see it and check it off my list, bird-watcher style, like I did with Ganjasaurus Rex years ago.
Yes, I know this overlong, under-entertaining Star Wars/ Jack Benny Show parody won a Kasdan Award in the 1980s but I think that winning that award says less about this project than does the fact that the people involved went on to do virtually nothing else afterward.
Roger Evans directed The Jet Benny Show from a script by Mark Felch. Steve Norman stars as Jet Benny, a take-off on the real-life comedy legend Jack Benny. Norman does not do nearly as good a Jack Benny impression as we’re led to believe by the few positive remarks this pant-load of a film receives.
Steve’s rendition of Benny’s voice is reasonable but wouldn’t stand on its own without the aid of his more than reasonable facial resemblance to the late comedian. The mediocre nature of Norman’s imitation might not have stood out so much if he wasn’t expected to carry almost every moment of the 77 minute run time. Continue reading
CHINATOWN CONNECTION (1990) – Forget it, Jake, it’s NOT Chinatown. Nor is it The French Connection. Nor The Chinese Connection. Hell, it’s not even Love Connection. What it IS is a late 80s buddy cop film released in 1990, complete with the “one white guy and one non-white guy” aspect. (48 Hours, Running Scared, Lethal Weapon, etc)
Forget it, Fall Guy fans, it’s NOT Lee Majors. It’s not even Lee Majors JUNIOR, technically, since he goes by Lee Majors II. Nor is it Bruce Lee backing him up but instead Bruce Ly, who is considered lame even by devoted Brucesploitation fans like me.
Lee the Second (it feels like the word “King” or “Pope” should be in front of that) stars as Detective Houston (Forget it, Lee Horsley fans, it’s NOT Matt Houston – OKAY, I’ll stop!). Warren Houston is your regulation Cop Who Plays By His Own Set of Rules and he has anger management issues to boot. Continue reading
For April Fool’s Day here at Balladeer’s Blog I’m giving a rest to my usual holiday offering, my review of Aleister Crowley’s Clouds Without Water, to review a movie instead.
SLAUGHTER HIGH/ APRIL FOOL’S DAY (1986) – This is the low-budget horror film made in England and set on April Fool’s Day. There are still VHS tapes and YouTube videos that show the original title, but the title was changed to Slaughter High because of the year’s OTHER April Fool’s Day slasher film with a gimmick ending.
Slaughter High starts off showing us April Fool’s Day of 1976, when a group of “teenagers” including 30-something Caroline Munro go to bizarre lengths to degrade and victimize their nerdy classmate Marty. These “kids” aren’t so much bullies as they are psychopaths, actually.
After an April Fool’s Day “prank” involving nudity, electric shocks and near drowning, Marty is still alive through no fault of his classmates. The supposed popular kids get punished for their criminal assault on Marty, and perversely blame him for it! It’s that kind of movie. Hell, Marty’s tormentors were caught in the act, it’s not even like he peached on them (since this was made in England I couldn’t resist writing “peached on them”).
The psychotic teens-in-their -thirties decide Marty deserves some payback for the way they got in trouble for nearly killing him earlier, so they stage a new “prank” involving tampered-with marijuana, dangerous chemicals … and acid. C’mon, you kidders! Stop giving Marty the business! Just cut off one of his limbs or something and call it a day, ya jokesters! Continue reading
ENDGAME (1983) – More Weirdness at the End of the World with yet another Italian imitation of The Road Warrior. These Spaghetti-pocalypse movies were to the 80s what Spaghetti Westerns were to the 60s and 70s.
Directed by the legendary Joe D’Amato under one of his rolodex-full of aliases, Endgame is one of the most watchable of these cheapjack end of the world exercises. It’s not good, mind you, just watchable.
D’Amato wasn’t the only one operating under an assumed name in this movie. Laura Gemser, cult sexploitation starlet, stars under the name Moira Chen. She portrays Lilith, a telepathic mutant leader. In Endgame‘s 2025 setting, World War Three has come and gone and mutants are feared and persecuted because of their paranormal powers.
Though there are scattered portions of Post-Apocalypse America where mutants are accepted and other scattered portions where mutants rule, in the big cities mutants are hunted down and killed on sight.
Lilith works like a figurative Mutant Called Moses (with apologies to Harriet Tubman) and has been heroically smuggling mutants out of the cities, Underground Railroad style.
Her cover was blown recently and she needs to get herself and one last gathering of mutant fugitives out of New York City, to the west and safety. Among those mutants is Tommy, a little boy with so much power that Lilith has been telepathically suppressing it. Unchecked, Tommy could level whole neighborhoods.
The film’s male lead is Ron Shannon, played by Al Cliver aka Pierluigi Conti, fresh off my favorite BAD Post-Apocalypse movie, 2020 Texas Gladiators in 1982. Ron Shannon is your regulation world-weary, burned-out warrior, highly skilled at armed and unarmed combat. Continue reading