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
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
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
After a terrific Fat Tuesday it’s time for Ash Wednesday … as in Empire of Ash, the awful series of post-apocalypse movies. From Canada! Brave the Canuckalypse with me!
EMPIRE OF ASH (1988) – Also released as Maniac Warriors, this post-apocalypse movie is, as you would expect, another of the 1980s’ countless imitators of The Road Warrior. In Empire of Ash our year is 2050 and our main location is an American settlement called New Idaho, with Canadian forests passing for the post-holocaust world. All cities have become uninhabitable so survivalists scrape by in woodland communities.
The plague that destroyed civilization is a blood disease and it continues to be one of the biggest threats, along with the usual mutants and rampaging, gun-wielding gangs. There are some scattered scientists trying to come up with a cure for the blood disease but there are also evil sufferers of the disease who prey upon the unafflicted by consuming their blood and bone marrow to survive a little bit longer.
The disease-ridden have been organized into a bizarre religion and they consider the plague to be God’s vengeance, just like AIDS was being called by assorted zealots at this point in the 80s. The religion and government are run by a preacher called the Great Shepherd (Frank Wilson). Before draining the blood and marrow of “pure-bloods” they baptize them as human sacrifices. Continue reading
After this seasonal post had last year off it’s the return of my review of Mardi Gras Massacre.
MARDI GRAS MASSACRE (1978) – Category: A neglected Bad Movie classic, but its hard-core gore will prevent it from ever having a Plan 9-sized cult following
It takes a twisted sort of genius to make multiple disembowelment murders look boring, but that’s exactly what Jack Weis accomplishes in Mardi Gras Massacre! Today may be Fat Tuesday, but let’s rechristen it “Splat Tuesday” in honor of this late 70s splatterfest.
The actual “massacre” part of this movie is an incredible disappointment. An insane, hate-filled man with a knife – no, not Jim Bowie (rimshot) – is roaming around New Orleans during Mardi Gras targeting prostitutes as sacrificial offerings to the Aztec deities he worships.
That sounds promising for a horror film but the disembowelment ritual is reenacted word for word and movement for movement for EACH VICTIM! There is no variation and also no suspense because after the first killing we know exactly how all the subsequent sacrifices will play out. The only chills come from listening to the awful disco music that plays during the ceremonial slayings. (“NOOOOOOOOOO!”) Continue reading