80's Thriller Throwback: The Banker (1989)

A Sleazy, Neon And Smoke Filled Detective Thriller That's As Odd As It Is Entertaining

by robotGEEK

If you're relatively close to my age, you remember this VHS cover while browsing your local video store way back in the day. I know I did, but I can tell you that that cover never pulled me in or did anything for me. So I never watched it. But thanks to Amazon Prime, I was finally able to check it out.

The first thing I will mention is that this was nothing like what I was expecting......at all. Which was honestly a pleasant surprise. It's weird as shit, yet that's part of what makes this so memorable, and in some circles, great. Also, the real star here is the legendary Robert Forster, who plays a burnt out, but brilliant cop. I mean, his name should be front and center in big bold letters at the top of any advertisement for this because it's ultimately his film all the way. The fact that I wasn't even aware that he was in this is a crime. He's fucking amazing in this as always and it's yet another example of why he was one of the best and so good at what he does.

I suppose I would call this an erotic/detective/thriller with a dose of "The Most Dangerous Game" thrown in, because why not. As the film starts you feel it's going to be another run-of-the-mill 80's/90's low-budget thriller, because that's what it feels like. But you soon discover it's something else, and probably better than you expected. For me personally, I found it to be made exceptionally and surprisingly well. I mean, this could easily look like a Made-for-TV movie, but it has style to burn throughout and director William Webb does a fine job making it all look good. I should also mention that it helps that it's drenched in 80's neon and smoke, making it kind of feel like a music video from time to time, which is awesome.

As far as the casting goes, it's Forster's show all the way, and he owns this film. But there are plenty of familiar faces to be found, like the guy who played Dracula in The Monster Squad (Duncan Regehr) as the bad guy here - a rich banker who kills prostitutes for fun, and Richard Roundtree (Shaft), as the police captain. Jeff Conaway appears as a pimp, and even Leif Garrett appears briefly. But there are plenty of other faces you'll surely recognize too.

Overall I found this quite enjoyable. Maybe it was because my expectations were low going in (I have never met a single person who's even seen this before), but it held my attention throughout, and as the film progressed, it just got weirder and weirder, which was a blessing for sure, as this could easily have been a paint-by-numbers, and easily forgotten thriller. It's a sleazy, neon drenched, amusing, gritty, violent, and at times wacky thriller that I would consider a pleasant surprise if you're in the right mood. Kudos to writer Dana Augustine for taking the unconventional route, and to director William Webb for giving the film plenty of style. While it may not currently have a strong cult status, I feel it's day is coming and it's just a matter of time. More people should be certainly be aware of this little gem, so let's all do our part to help spread the word.

It's currently streaming on Amazon Prime (as of this writing) n the U.S., in a nice 4K restoration and most importantly, in widescreen. I'm not sure if this ever got a legitimate DVD or widescreen release for that matter here in the states, but word is that there is a new Blu Ray release on the horizon with an all new color-corrected transfer courtesy of Dark Force. I for one, will be on the lookout for that release. In the meantime, enjoy Amazon's surprisingly slick transfer while it's available.


90's Action Attack!: Firepower (1993)

by robotGEEK

Low-budget action is one of my absolute favorite genre's, and while there is no shortage of these types of films at my disposal, I've experienced a sort of lull these past few weeks. I maybe sat down to watch a good handful of them, and none of them did anything for me. I was shocked! Usually there's a gem in there somewhere, but not this time. That is until I stumbled upon this one. And really, I should have known better. I should have known to just seek out a film from the almighty PM Entertainment from the get-go, because they rarely ever disappoint. 

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, gangs have taken over sections of the city where the police are not allowed. 2 cops (Gary Daniels and Chad McQueen) go undercover and infiltrate one of these zones to find a criminal known as The Swordsman (The Ultimate Warrior), and to also look for a drug the gangs claim is a cure for AIDS, which they control and sell. By infiltrating this drug and criminal enterprise, they must enter the death matches. 

Part action film, and part tournament-to-the-death film, Firepower checked off all the boxes on my list and I loved every second of it. There's action, shootouts, huge explosions (that always seem to come out of nowhere), fights to the death, and most surprisingly of all, the legendary The Ultimate Warrior!!!

This was one of 2 films directed by PM Entertainment producer, director and co-owner Richard Pepin in 1993, and would mark his directorial debut for the company. Along with his partner Joseph Merhi (himself a director for the company), PM Entertainment would ultimately become the equivalent to what Cannon Films did in the 80's, only these guys were doing it in the 90's, but much better. They released a slew of action films and that were filled to the brim with insane stunts, copious amounts of explosions and enough action to keep us die-hard fans satisfied all throughout the 90's. While not every single film on their catalog was a gem, most of them were and they were consistent with their look and feel, no matter who directed them. But you could always tell when either Pepin or Merhi took the directors chair because they were actually really good at it and their particular films are considered the best of the bunch. 

Pepin's other film that year was Fist of Honor. I'm not sure which came first, but let's say for arguments sake it was this one. If that's the case, it's an impressive debut for sure. You'd never know it was his first time behind the camera. Not only does he handle the action well, the fight scenes in the death ring are also impressive, but for a first-timer, even more so. Gary Daniels and Chad McQueen do fine in their roles, but Jim Hellwig AKA The Ultimate Warrior was a real surprise. While not a wrestling fan personally, there was something about this guy that just screamed wrestler. My buddy The Cinema Drunkie was kind enough to inform me that The Swordsman was in fact The Ultimate Warrior. I men, he's just a massive presence in here. Even though he doesn't utter a single word of dialogue that I can recall, and he certainly can't actually wield a sword very well at all, he's a dominating and imposing figure and really the standout of the film. From what I gather, this was his only film role outside of wrestling. 

Firepower isn't mind-blowing or anything, but it's a helluva fun action flick from the PM Entertainment era that most certainly satisfied my thirst for a fun and surprisingly well-made action film after a few weeks of duds. 

You can currently watch Firepower on Amazon Prime and TubiTV last time I checked. 


Documentary Spotlight: Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street

The Claws Are Out

by robotGEEK

We all know the story by now. While technically a hit, Freddy's Revenge ultimately became the film in the franchise that fans considered their least favorite, which honestly surprises the shit out of me because I can't and have never sat all the way through Part 5: The Dream Child. It's just so awful. But I've always enjoyed Part 2: Freddy's Revenge, even when none of my friends did. I've always felt it was made surprisingly well, considering it was coming off the heels of one of the biggest horror films in history. But I was usually alone in those feelings. And I was made all the more aware of those feelings when I showed it to my wife and she just did not care for it at all.

But we all know what ultimately happened. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge would gain notoriety as the "gayest horror film ever made", something I was completely unaware of until recently. Whether intentional or not (depending on who you ask), it was loaded with subtle and not so subtle gay subtext and has since become something of an "experience" in the LGBT community, who feverishly embraced it in the same way so many have embraced The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Mark Patton played the lead in Freddy's Revenge, and while it was supposed to be his big Hollywood break, it instead derailed it completely and because of the fallout, he vanished from the film business, and well from society as a whole. In fact, when they made the excellent documentary on the Elm Street franchise, Never Sleep Again, the filmmakers found it almost impossible to find him, having to resort to a private investigator who found him in the most unlikeliest of places on the planet, completely unaware of the cult status that his ill-timed and ill-fated breakout role had gained since that release all those years ago in 1985.

With the release of that documentary, there was new and massive interest in just what the hell the filmmakers were really thinking when they made that film. Was the gay stuff on purpose? Was it even really there, or was it just something people wanted to see? Again, that all depends on who you ask, as every single person from the actors to the filmmakers behind the camera will give you a different answer. Mark Patton suddenly found himself famous all over again, but this time he was going to take advantage of it and use his newfound celebrity to bring a spotlight to something that has haunted him for decades, and changed the course of his life forever.

Filmmakers Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen have created a completely engrossing and thought-provoking documentary around Mark Patton, his life as an up and coming actor, his big breakout role that was supposed to launch his career in Hollywood, to his life as a closeted gay man in an industry that was not very accepting of that at the time, to his walking away from Hollywood and the spotlight forever. That is until Never Sleep Again revived it, only to a much different degree.

While Scream, Queen! does primarily focus on Patton's experience making that cult classic film, it also puts a lot of focus on the industry as a whole in the mid 80's, where AIDS and HIV was at it's peak and fast becoming an epidemic. If you were gay and an actor, you couldn't simply live as a gay man. You had to pretend and fool the public into thinking you were straight, or else you weren't getting cast in anything. Not to mention the naive and downright ugly side of peoples prejudices towards the subject back then. I mean, it was bad, and studios, actors and companies would impose ludicrous rules that will leave your jaw dropped to the floor when you hear about them in this documentary. To think that that was a world we lived in once upon a time seems shocking to me today, but for so many people in the industry, it was such a sad and tragic reality.

What I loved so much about this was that they tackle all of that prejudice and hate and make us all face it in such a way that it's almost a sympathetic hour and a half crash course on the film industry, and how far we've come since then. Of course, that's not all it's about, just one of many layers Scream, Queen! presents to us. Another one is Mark Patton's ability to take something that caused him so much pain, and use it as a teaching tool to others, where he tours the world using his newfound celebrity status teaching people about HIV and AIDS in an entertaining and fundamental way who's goal is to help people rather than be preachy about it.

Throughout the documentary, there is a villain, and it's not Freddy Krueger, but rather the writer of Freddy's Revenge, David Chaskin (The Curse, I, Madman). Chaskin has never been 100% truthful about his role, however big or small, that the gay subtext played in the film was intentional or accidental. In some interviews he says it was intentional, and in others he claims it wasn't. There was even an ill attempt at a humorous quote that only made it so much worse when taken out of context. Patton has always blamed Chaskin, more than anyone else, for his downfall, for his exile from Hollywood, and he uses the documentary as an opportunity to get the truth, to hear the words from David Chaskin himself.

To say this is an important documentary is an understatement, not only for horror fans, or fans of Freddy's Revenge, but also for the LGBT community, who wholeheartedly embraced the film and all of it's gayness to such a degree that it's more popular now than it ever was. It's also an important and quite eye-opening documentary about prejudices against the LGBT community, not only within the film industry, but in everyday life. It's an eye-opening film experience and one I won't soon forget.

Ultimately Mark Patton has gained newfound success as a motivational speaker and activist and travels the horror convention circuit regularly meeting and greeting eager fans who get to embrace in person, for some, their first gay role model.

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street is currently available to rent on Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and Vudu. You can also purchase it on DVD from any number of your favorite online retailers.


80's Action Attack!: Instant Justice (1986)

by robotGEEK

This is a film I've been trying to get my hands on for what seems like ages....just because I'm such a fan of old school under the radar action films of the 80's and 90's. Released in 1986, Instant Justice AKA Marine Issue is a film that stars Michael Pare and Tawny Kitaen about a marine (Pare), who's sister goes missing in Madrid, Spain. After receiving a harrowing phone call from her, he sets out for Madrid in trying to locate her, only to discover he's too late and she's been murdered. With the help of a prostitute (Kitaen), he sets out in trying to find her killers.

Man, this was such a letdown. The best way I can describe this was that it's an incompetent action film. Now don't get me wrong. I love that shit. I thrive on it. Some of my favorite movies ever are incompetent action films. You know the ones, the So Bad, They're Good? A few that come to mind were actually all released the following year; Steele Justice, Mankillers and Deadly Prey, and they're glorious. But sadly, this does not fall into that category. It's an action film that doesn't seem to know how to actually make an action film properly, because everything just feels off in the area's that matter the most in this genre; choreography in the fights and action sequences, editing and even down to the acting. Trust me, it feels weird commenting on the acting of all things in an action film, but jesus it's awful. Even Pare seems to be phoning it in. And he'd already appeared in several high profile films before this; Streets of Fire, The Philadelphia Experiment and Eddie and the Cruisers. Sure he's never been the most versatile actor, but even I couldn't help but notice his lack of......character here.

Of course after having finally seen this and had some time to process and digest it, the fault clearly lies on French director Denis Amar. Here's a guy who'd never directed an action film before, or since from what I can gather, and it shows. Oh it shows all over the screen and it's so painful to watch because I can't help but feel there's a good movie in here. The production value is there. It doesn't look or feel low-budget in the slightest. There's actors, there's action, there's exotic locations. But it's just put together so clumsily that instead of getting a good laugh out of the entire experience, you walk away annoyed.

To date this has never gotten even a DVD release here in the states. VHS seems to be the only physical form of media it's available on, which is why it made my pursuit of this so difficult. I do believe it's been released on DVD in the UK. The VHS here routinely goes for over $10, and it being a film I've never seen before, I didn't want to take that gamble. It felt like years, but I was finally able to find it for $6 total, which was what I was comfortable with. Needless to say I'll be throwing it back on eBay because I'm sure I will never watch it ever again.


The Toy Corner: The Iron Giant Walmart Exclusive

The Toy Market Has Been Pretty Good To Us Collector's Lately

by robotGEEK

I'm a huge toy collector, but seem to go in and out of it here and there. I primarily stick to vintage toys, or toys that I actually had as a kid in the 80's. I'll randomly dip into some new stuff if it's based on properties, or films that I love and that may not have gotten released as a toy previously. And while there have been toys, usually collectibles, based on The Iron Giant before, they've always been way too expensive for my taste. I mean, I love the movie. It's one of my all-time favorite animated movies ever, but not enough to shell out several hundred dollars for a statue like Mondo recently did. Sheesh!

With that being said, let's thank Walmart for this exclusive that stands an impressive 14". Beautifully
detailed, with motorized walking motion, lights and sounds and impressive packaging. And the best part is that it is ONLY $19.95. Yes, just $20 for this beauty if you can find it. Being a Walmart exclusive means that as far as finding it in-store, your local Walmart is your only option. But I'm sure you can find it on the secondhand market as well for probably a higher price.

I'm not sure how long these will be available, but using Google to look up this item told me exactly how many of them were in stock locally. I'm honestly surprised at it's low price point, especially considering how big and great it looks. I'm also surprised I hadn't heard of this release. The only reason I knew about it was because a friend of mine posted a picture of it and I was stunned. That night I immediately ran to my local Walmart to find 3 of them on the shelf. So you may get lucky!

With the recent releases of They Live figures by NECA, and the Walgreen's exclusive Tron figures, 2020 is shaping up to be a highlight for collectors like myself.

Review: The Invisible Man (2020)

Writer/Director/Producer Leigh Whannell Delivers One Of The Best Interpretations Of Universal's Classic Monsters In Decades

by robotGEEK

If you ever wondered how good a film could be without relying on CGI or jump scares, or a star studded cast, instead utilizing old fashioned filmmaking like clever writing, impeccable performances and solid no-frills direction, then look no further than Leigh Whannell’s take on The Invisible Man, a masterclass of suspenseful filmmaking. Elizabeth Moss carries the entire film effortlessly on her shoulders, and while this would have been a perfect opportunity for a filmmaker and an effects team to go all out with some fancy CGI, Whannell goes the complete opposite direction and it’s bloody brilliant. Understated in every aspect, yet so goddamn tense and taut as it’s slow burn approach becomes more and more riveting after its tension-filled opening. This is how you make a great film on a low budget (by Hollywood standards) with insane talent.

Generally I don't really review new films, as this site was intended to focus more on cult classics, but I can't help but feel that this is exactly what Leigh Whannell's Invisible Man will be; a classic that will set the bar with what you can accomplish with the right team behind and in front of the camera, on a small budget no less. With that being said, I rarely, if ever, go to the cinema anymore. It's too expensive and those sitting next to me always seem to ruin the experience, which is almost what happened with an annoying lady who felt the need to comment on every goddamn thing she saw, even if it was trivial. But anyway, I knew right as soon as I heard Whannell was going to be behind this that this was a film I would just have to make an exception for, and I was right. Ultimately, between the cost of the Sunday tickets and snacks, my wife and I spent a good $50, and honestly, I'm glad I did. I feel it's my tiny contribution to the films financial success and if this helps Universal see the potential in smaller, more character driven interpretations rather than overbloated CGI-fests, then I'm happy to help. 

That's about it. Saying anymore would spoil any potential surprises. I will say I was sad to see 2 scenes shown in the trailer cut from the final edit, but maybe we'll see them back in the Directors Cut someday. Go see this film. Support it. Support the immense talent of Leigh Whannell (Upgrade, Saw, CootiesInsidious) and support the possible kickstart of a more subdued take on Universal's monster catalog. 


R E V I E W: In Search of Darkness: A Journey Into Iconic 80's Horror

by robotGEEK

Who would have thought that documentaries based solely on some of our favorite horror films, franchises and even that specific genre in general would be a thing? I surely didn't. If you would have told me that way back in the 80's when we were pre-teens devouring these films, I wouldn't have believed you. Yet here we are, and it's pretty fuckin' great. I can't give you a complete or thorough list, but some that come to mind would be Leviathan (about Hellraiser 1 & 2), You're So Cool Brewster! (about the Fright Night films), The Wolfman's Got Nards (About The Monster Squad), The 50 Best Horror Films You've Never Seen, and not to mention the excellent Crystal Lake Memories and Never Sleep Again. I mean, I can go on and on. It seems like documentaries are the way to go these days and the market has become pretty saturated with some really great ones. Still personally waiting for that Robo Doc coming soon.

Which brings us to In Search of Darkness. Here we are treated to a wonderful 4-Hour documentary on horror films. More specifically, horror films of the 80's, arguably the best decade for that genre. Clocking in at 4-Hours, this documentary moves along briskly. I mean, there's no way they can get to every horror film made in the 80's, even at 4 hours. Instead, they tackle the genre year by year, and hit some sweet spots both big budget commercial successes, and the low-budget indie circuit. And we all know that in the horror genre back then, there were some real gems that never got the big theatrical releases or in some cases, still haven't made it to DVD, even to this day.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this was how they not only tackle the genre by year, but also by sub-genre's like that short period in the early to mid 80's where 3D was trying to make a comeback. But we also see them take on The Final Girl, Body Horror and a few other sub-genre's, which I found really cool.

Along for the ride we have some really great interviews from a long list of iconic members of the horror community (over 45 total), both in front of and behind the camera. Keith David, Joe Dante, Tom Atkins, Barbara Crampton, Doug Bradley, Larry Cohen, Jeffrey Combs, Mick Garris, Stuart Gordon, John Carpenter, Joe Bob Briggs, Kane Hodder, Tom Holland, Elvira herself Cassandra Peterson, Lori Cardille and so many more. I have to say though, Tom Atkins is such a hoot and the highlight of this for me. I really hope I get to meet that guy someday.

You would think that after all these decades these writers, directors, stars, effects teams and producers would have nothing new to offer about any of these classic films, but I can truthfully say that despite all these years, and countless interviews given by all of them previously, they still offer some nice tidbits of behind the scenes info that I hadn't heard before. And that's one of the things that makes this documentary so good. You go in kind of expecting to have heard it all before, but nope. There was a lot of new information I hadn't heard before, which was great. Writer/Director/Producer David A. Weiner does a great job asking the right questions in the right context and pulling new, never before heard information out of them, and in some cases, some of them being quite candid and honest about their feelings in regards to other films. I loved every minute of it.

In Search of Darkness is a must have for any horror fan. It's a fun way to revisit some films that we remember fondly, going down memory lane and in some cases, learning about films we never got around to. Even at 4 hours, we were wanting more. And that my friends, is a sign of a good time.

Those of us who got our hands on this were able to because of their initial crowdfunding campaign. At this moment, it's not available to purchase anywhere on physical media or streaming. However, you can go over to their website 80sHorrorDoc.com and sign up for their newsletter for updates on any upcoming release dates because trust me, you're going to need to add this to your collection.

And there's more good news. There are also 2 new documentaries in the works that they're currently working on; one based on 80's Sci-Fi films called In Search of Tomorrow, and one on the great and legendary retro video games of 1989. You can follow In Search of Tomorrow's progress on their website HERE, or on their Instagram page HERE. You can follow the video game documentary, RetroGaming 1989's progress on their Instagram page HERE.

Like I mentioned earlier, they don't cover everything, because there's just no way they could. It would be impossible. But it's a very fun, nostalgic trip down memory lane made with an exceptional love for the genre.


90's Action Attack!: Mercenary (1996)

John Ritter as a Rich Businessman Tracking Down His Wife's Killers to the Middle East? I'm in

by robotGEEK

Randomly scrolling through Amazon's endless supply of low-budget 90's action flicks, I came across this one and was immediately intrigued by the idea of John Ritter, who we all fell in love with as Jack Tripper in Three's Company, costarring in an action film with Olivier Grunner (Nemesis, Angel Town). I mean, I didn't care who made it or how good or bad it was, I was sold simply on that idea alone. About a good 5 minutes in, I can honestly say I was not disappointed in the least bit.

Ritter stars as Jonas Ambler, a rich businessman who's wife is killed during a gala at their home by a band of terrorists. Hell bent on revenge, and with the finances to back it up, he enlists the help of a mercenary-for-hire named Karl "Hawk" May to help him track them down in the middle east and kill them. And the only way Hawk gets paid, is if he lets Ambler go with him. So begins some intense combat training of a very pampered tycoon, followed by a mission to kill these terrorists. 

I have to say, I really, really enjoyed this. You never know what to expect with these low budget offerings, because more times than not, they're not any good. And I consider this genre to be one of my absolute favorites, so I tend to overlook a lot of the issues plaguing these films in general and end up enjoying them for what they are. But seriously, this one was fucking great. Right in the opening sequence, we're treated to not only an excellent setup for the events to follow with some impressive action, but to my surprise, we're introduced to a much better than I expected list of actors that I had no idea were in this, including Martin Kove, Robert Culp and Ed Lauter, but also a healthy selection of bad guys you most certainly recognize from other films.

As far as the film itself, it's far more entertaining than I was expecting, with a quality to it that impressed me more than anything. It's shot surprisingly well (for a low budget action film), and the action sequences are rather impressive. It's only downside is that in the last act of the film there is some horrendous CGI used during a nighttime helicopter chase through the mountains. I mean, it's really awful and incredibly cringe-inducing. I'm not sure why they would have even written something like that if the budget didn't back it up. Thankfully it's the only sequence (that I can remember) that nearly derailed it, and it's moderately brief before things get back to practical reality.

This is directed by Israeli filmmaker Avi Nesher, who's only other notable film would probably be 1991's Timebomb starring Michael Beihn, which I've heard is actually really good, but I still have yet to see. But simply based on this, he does a helluva job behind the camera giving the film a much larger look and feel on a small budget. That's something you rarely see in these. If it's a small budget, most of the time the director shoots fast and loose, with an insane amount of handheld camerawork, but not here. If it wasn't for the ridiculous helicopter sequence destroying any false notions of it's actual budget, I could easily see this being something of a limited theatrical release. I think it's time I finally tracked down Timebomb.

John Ritter does a surprisingly fine job as the arrogant and incredibly rich businessman, hell bent on exacting revenge. Sure he does a lot of scared screaming only the way Ritter can, but he was impressively dedicated to the role. Grunner, for his part, plays the character well and I have to admit, with each film I see him in, he gets better and better as an actor.

Mercenary isn't mind-blowing or anything, but its a helluva great time within this genre and much better overall than I was expecting going in. Mercenary is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.


90's Thriller Throwback: Dead Presidents (1995)

The Hughes Brothers 70's Crime Drama is a Masterpiece Waiting to be Rediscovered

by robotGEEK

Dead Presidents is The Hughes Brother's love letter to Scorsese and De Palma. It's a beautiful, epic, sprawling and meticulously detailed crime/drama/thriller that shares a lot in common with Goodfellas, with a dash of De Palma's Untouchables thrown in for good measure, and it's a damn shame more people don't talk about this.

Released in 1995, the same year as Martin Scorsese's classic Casino, Dead Presidents would be The Hughes Brothers (Allen and Albert) sophomore effort after the well-received Menace II Society two years earlier. This is the kind of film that you just know was a passion project, doing their homework in what makes these types of films so good in the first place, and infusing it with their own specific style. And it works. It works masterfully.

Dead Presidents tells the story of a Vietnam vet (Larenz Tate) who comes back home from the service, complete with nightmares and finding it difficult to adjust back to civilian life. He can't seem to find a decent job and provide for his family in a neighborhood full of pimps and drug dealers, so he enlists the help of fellow war buddies Skip (Chris Tucker in a rare dramatic role), Jose (Freddy Rodriguez), and Cleon (Bokeem Woodbine) to pull off an armored truck heist. With the help of his mentor Kirby (Keith David), they set the plan in motion. 

This has everything you'd want in a period crime drama and it's such a shame it's been largely forgotten. Of course, the Hughes Brother's have gone onto big things both together (The Book of Eli, From Hell), and separately as solo directors. It's got an incredibly authentic setting (mostly sticking to 1973), an amazing score by Danny Elfman in his prime, one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard in my life, full of mellow classic R & B jams that will having you hunting down that CD pronto, and a pace that keeps things moving along briskly, never slowing down enough to dwell on the drama too long. Here they reunite with their Menace II Society cinematographer Lisa Rinzler, and it's such a beautiful marriage of talents, producing some fantastic and epic visuals.

I remember going to the theater to see this back in '95, and just being completely floored by it. I hadn't yet seen their previous film, which is regarded as one of the best gang films out there, so going in cold I was just blown away. Everything comes together so perfectly. I immediately got the soundtrack on CD and it was in constant rotation in my car. I remember when it hit VHS, I played it over and over in my room. But life happens and I kind of forgot about it. So I can say it's been at least a good 20 years since I've seen it last. Having revisited it today, it hasn't lost an ounce of it's ability to impress me and I'd dare say it's only gotten better with age. It's a true crime masterpiece.

How to see it:
As far as I know, it still hasn't gotten a Blu Ray upgrade, so on physical media, DVD and VHS are the only options. But you're in luck! It's currently available to stream in HD for FREE on The Roku Channel. You just have to endure commercials.


90's Action Attack!: American Samurai (1992)

A Mix of Bloodsport with G.I. Joe's Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes' Tumultuous History, American Samurai Delivers The Goods in a Classic Way

by robotGEEK

Right smack in the middle of his run in the American Ninja franchise (which he'd taken over for Michael Dudikoff starting with Part 3), they decided to try and have him kickstart another martial arts franchise, this one centering on the samurai rather than the ninja. And while it failed to kickstart that new franchise, American Samurai is pretty much exactly what you'd expect, and that's not such a bad thing.

Released in 1992, they even went so far as to recruit regular ninja director Sam Firstenberg to helm. I mean, if you're going to hire anybody to take charge of this thing, who better than the guy who did American Ninja 1 & 2, Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja III: The Domination. For a guy who didn't initially have any interest in directing action films (bullshitting his way into it initially), he carved out a nice career path for himself for being one of the go-to guys to do these types of films in the 80's and 90's. With that being said, he has two types of films he makes; the unintentionally and hilariously awesome cheesy (American Ninja 2, Ninja III: The Domination), or the straightforward action flick (Avenging Force). This one falls into the latter, but just barely. While it's an entertaining film all around, it's never as cheesy as I was expecting. Which is fine honestly.

Something I was not expecting was a tournament movie, which was just one of several pleasant surprises I discovered. This is where it resembles a carbon copy of Bloodsport, right down to the white country, larger than life cowboy fighter he befriends. Here he's forced to fight an endless supply of fighters from all over the world in their own varying styles of combat. There's even a dude who looks like a smaller version of Conan, right down to that exact sword, who miraculously shows up in the following sequence after he just got killed in the tournament. Got to love low-budget editing!

Another aspect I was not expecting was Mark Dacascos being cast as the villain. Needless to say I knew nothing about this going in, so I was pleasantly surprised by a lot of what I found. Dacascos, one year before breaking out in the mainstream with Only The Strong, is so over the top as the incredibly angry brother to David Bradley's character; The Storm Shadow to Snake Eyes, that he literally makes this film as entertaining as it is. Having been brought up together and taught the way of the samurai since childhood, Dacascos is pure jealousy and rage towards his adoptive American brother that boils over to a tournament confrontation in the end to see who is in fact the best samurai. His constant angry faces and delivery is breathtakingly amusing, hilarious, awesome and a much needed dose of cheese that adds so much entertainment value to the mix. And I'm not teasing him. He genuinely makes this film as good as it is, because truthfully, David Bradley's character is so unlikable

A far better and entertaining film than I was expecting, American Samurai benefits from some impressive fight sequences and a villain played to perfection by Mark Dacascos, and in the capable hands of director Sam Firstenberg.  Another tournament film, yes, but a damn good one.


Documentary Spotlight: In Search of the Last Action Heroes

YouTube Film Critic and Podcaster Oliver Harper's Crowdfunded Love Letter to 80's Action Heroes is Every Bit as Entertaining as it is Ambitious. 

by robotGEEK

When film critic Oliver Harper spearheaded his campaign to produce a feature length documentary focusing on the legendary action heroes of the 80's both big and small, I was so damn excited. 80's action has and always will be one of my favorite genre's, and as I head into my mid 40's, I still find myself revisiting my favorites on a regular basis, as well as continue to dig through that decades immense output of gems that I never got around to checking out until now. And I'll probably never stop because so many were produced that I'll never get through them all in my lifetime.

With that crowdfunding campaign, I found the price for this release to be a bit too expensive for my taste (or at least my budget at the time). But I knew it was a done deal because it was reaching it's goal pretty quickly. And lucky for the rest of us, it was made a reality and even luckier for us, it's now available at a helluva price for a limited time on Amazon on DVD ($10), Blu-Ray ($13) and Streaming ($4). I personally grabbed the Blu Ray.

Now, is it any good? Hell yea it is. Of course, with something this ambitious, you're not going to please everyone. There's just so much to cover and so many different areas that there's just no way they could fit it all in. As it stands, it's more of a Love Letter than an informative Documentary because there's really nothing in here that we either didn't already know or hadn't heard before in other countless interviews. And sadly, you're not going to hear from the big boys who grace the cover of this thing like Sly, Arnold, Chuck or Dolph. Instead you're hearing from the filmmakers, stunt people, screenwriters, supporting actors and the B-Movie grade stars who made these films like Paul Verhoeven, Al Leong, Bill Duke, a seemingly grumpy Shane Black, an always excited Steven E. de Souza and so on. Which is great really, but I'm a bit shocked they couldn't even get Dolph on here, unless his schedule just didn't allow it. And honestly, I'm only touching on a very small amount of all the people interviewed in here because there are a LOT. Too many legends to name in here. Okay one more....Matthias Hues!

I especially loved listening to legends such as Cynthia Rothrock, Scott Atkins and even Best of the Best alum Phillip Rhee discuss the industry, their perceptions of it, where it was and where it's heading. I have to give it to Atkins for being bluntly honest about his feelings, even his spot-on criticism of current action stars and how he feels most people won't ever meet the commitment and dedication that someone like Keanu Reeves possesses. Vernon Wells was a hoot in describing his casting in The Road Warrior, which led to his casting as the villain in Commando, and there are plenty of moments such as this to appreciate.

A somewhat chronological look at the genre starting in the 70's, primarily focusing on the 80's, and then touching up on the current state of the genre, In Search of the Last Action Heroes isn't going to blow you away with new insight, but it's a really fun watch as it digs into my favorite genre that moves along briskly and never overstays it's welcome. With the fat trimmed, it sticks to the important aspects and if anything, is a fun nostalgic look at a decade that did it best.

In Search of the Last Action Heroes is currently available on Amazon for a great deal. Grab it while you can!


A Look Back at Roland Emmerich's Godzilla (1998)

Over 20 Years Later, Godzilla 1998 Proves To Be One Of The Best Giant Monster Epic's Ever Made

by robotGEEK

This take on Godzilla is such a fascinating one. Intended to kickstart a whole new franchise of Godzilla films, it was met with mostly negative reception, and while it was ultimately a very minor hit, making more money than any Godzilla film before then, it wasn't enough to keep making more. In fact it would be another 16 years before Hollywood gave it another go with Gareth Edwards slightly better received version in 2014. That's not to say that this film isn't any good in it's own right or that it's the disaster that it's reputation leads you to believe. Because honestly, Godzilla 1998 is one helluva fun ride. Let's begin.

Writer/Director Roland Emmerich (along with his partner Dean Devlin), were riding high on some big budget hits with Universal Soldier, Stargate and the mega-hit Independence Day when they were contacted to try and revive the Godzilla franchise. I mean, who better than this hit-making team who proved they could make big special effects-laden hits on a relatively modest budget? When you think about it, their 3 previous films all turned into highly successful franchises spawning sequels, television series, toys and entertainment memorabilia. Mixing old school practical effects and model work with new state of the art CGI (at the time), they were proving themselves big players in the sci-fi, epic, disaster, and action genre's with glowing results. While initially given a book full of "do's and don't's" from Godzilla's parent company Toho, Emmerich ultimately seemed to disregard most of them and came up with his own version, which not surprisingly, didn't sit too well with die hard Godzilla fans. This time around Godzilla looked like a giant lizard that walked like a T-Rex, and honestly to this day that is really the biggest gripe anyone has regarding this film. And I get it. I was the exact same way. I HATED the way Godzilla looked so much that I let it define my overall feelings towards the film as a whole.

But guess what? Time has been extremely kind to this film. Sure I'm still not a fan of the whole lizard look, but I'd be damned if it isn't one helluva fun epic giant monster film. If you can look past his design, you'll find that as said giant monster film, Godzilla 1998 has so much to offer in the form of epic entertainment. Flawed, absolutely, but it's also made exceptionally well in the way only Emmerich and Devlin could produce. You have to remember they were at the peak of their talents around this time, and it's all due to their talents of creating fun films, utilizing outstanding effects work and a strong and consistent visual pallate that few filmmakers were and are capable of producing.

Roland Emmerich has always been a strong visual filmmaker, and I don't feel he gets the credit he deserves for infusing so much style into his films. If you look back at some of his biggest hits, they all carry a gorgeous aesthetic that utilizes it's widescreen frame to enormous effect. While entertaining, they're also beautiful films to look at. I feel Universal Soldier in particular is a prime example of this. As much as it is a badass 90's action/sci-fi masterpiece, it's one damn good looking film too.

With Godzilla, they decided to go BIG. Big in the sense of scale in that they have Godzilla destroy New York City, the most famous city in the world. Logistically, shooting in NY is such a gargantuan task, but destroying it is an even bigger one, and they make it look so damn easy. And that's one of Emmerich and Devlin's greatest strengths. They make it all look so easy when in reality, it's a nightmare. The sequences where armed helicopters are zig zagging through NYC high rises while chasing Godzilla (at night....in the rain!) is so well done utilizing a surprisingly large amount of old fashioned model work and stunts is so goddamn impressive that I'm shocked it doesn't get more attention for just how incredibly effective they pulled it off. 

While I feel some parts of it are a bit ridiculous, like the fact that he can hide underneath New York City by moving around through the sewer system (come on!), and how the third act basically turns into a Jurassic Park sequel, I have to say that that first 45 minutes is pure gold and some of the best exposition I've ever seen leading up to a big reveal. The film as a whole is just great fun, but that first act is just incredible.

If you can look past his unpopular design (thanks to Patrick Tatopoulos), and maybe think of it as just a big epic giant monster film, you will find that actually really fun, extremely well-made, and so ambitious that it's almost exhausting. Everything you love about Roland Emmerich as a director is on full display here, from his impeccable camerawork, how he utilizes every inch of the widescreen format, and just with it's overall fun tone, Godzilla might actually be a better film than you remember. In fact, it's pretty great.

Fun Fact:
Writer and Producer Dean Devlin has stated that upon it's original theatrical release, the film's less than stellar digital effects were not fully completed to their satisfaction. But because of time restraints, they had to release it "as is". He says that the only version available with the updated and completed digital effects is on the Blu Ray release. Per IMDB: The movie's intended look was not revealed to the public until the Blu-ray release in 2009. All previous versions contained a serious technical issue which lead to the computer generated graphics appearing sub-par. Dean Devlin explained that this was the result of the type of film tape they had wanted to print the movie onto being inaccessible at the time of its release. Thus, the movie was printed onto a different type of tape and shipped to cinemas with unfinished-looking effects. This was one of the reasons behind the movie's failure, as the effects did not live up to the hype. They were finally corrected digitally for the Blu-ray.


The Cult Corner: Starcom (1987)

German DVD Cover

A 1987 Animated Series and Toyline That Failed to Capture an Audience, Yet Lives on in Cult Infamy

by robotGEEK

These last few months I've really dug deep into collecting vintage toys again. But not just any toy, primarily the toys from my childhood in the mid 80's. It's something I come and go with from time to time - a hobby that brings back the kid in me. So much so that I probably need to take a step back for a little while. But when I get in these nostalgic moods, I also begin revisiting old 80's cartoons. And in case you didn't already know, TubiTV is an excellent source for free vintage cartoons, as well as a shit ton of movies and tv shows. One day as I was watching the first season of Transformers, this show was suggested as one I might like based on watching that. Boy were they right.

I had never heard of Starcom, or as it's officially known as Starcom: The U.S. Space Force. I didn't even know it was also a toyline back in 1987, the year this series aired. How did I miss this? No idea. But what I can tell you is that it is hands-down one of the best animated series I've ever seen. And not just from the 80's, but.....ever!

While it only lasted one brief season, with the toys not doing well either, it came and went with little fanfare, and somewhat forgotten by the general public. I mean, I was a HUGE cartoon, science fiction and toy nerd in 1987 ( I was 11 years old, and the perfect age to dig this), and somehow never knew this franchise existed. From what I learned, it did considerably better overseas and lasted a bit longer outside of the United States. I suppose it comes down to poor marketing for both the toyline and series, but still, how is it that nobody ever talks about this?

The first thing that grabbed me immediately was it's superior animation. It's impressive as hell, reminding me a lot of something that would have easily been featured in an issue of Heavy Metal, or better yet the cult classic animated film. It features stunning character and production design, with nonstop action and a more adult-oriented storyline that I found surprisingly mature, considering it was aimed primarily at kids to sell toys. And that's just a few of a large number of things that makes this series absolutely amazing. They don't dumb down anything, in the hopes of appealing to a younger audience. There's no silly comedy or humor like most cartoons from the 80's tried desperately to include (C.O.P.S.: Cops 'n Crooks by Hasbro is a painful example), and it makes it all the more immersive. And the action is so well done that the space fighter jet sequences are so much better than most animated films to have ever come out, much less a little known animated kids show from over 30 years ago.

Starcom only lasted a single season of just 13 episodes, yet is a prime example of outstanding animation, story, character design and quality that NEEDS to be more recognized.

You can currently watch the entire season for free on TubiTV, but not sure how long it will be available on there. You can also purchase the complete series on DVD for less than $10, and trust me, that's a helluva bargain for quality this good.

To learn all about the history of this series and it's very brief toyline, check out this excellent video from the insanely talented Toy Galaxy. If you're not already following them on YouTube, follow and support them. Their videos on vintage shows and toys are a part of my every day routine.


{Quickshot Review} MI: Fallout: The Best Action Film of 2018

by robotGEEK

I'm not the biggest fan of this franchise. I enjoy them to a degree, but never really find myself actually running to the theater to see them. In fact, it took me nearly 20 years to finally get around to watching MI: 2 (which I loved by the way), but don't recall really loving any that followed. Rogue Nation and Ghost Protocol were alright, but didn't really grab me, which I guess would be the reason it took me until now to finally check out this latest offering, a whole 2 years later.

With that being said, holy shit this was awesome. I'm not going to say that I was able to follow everything 100% since I honestly don't remember a whole lot of what happened in the previous films, but that honestly doesn't matter. Because Fallout is a pretty self-contained story (with some obvious references and plots taken from a few of the earlier installments, yet integrated well enough that you can follow along) that's big on the action in a way I was not expecting.

The first thought I had when finishing this was just how fucking badass this was as a straight-up action film. I'm telling you, the action set pieces are nuts! And it's just nonstop too. A seemingly endless series of spectacular action set pieces that defy logic, as well as the laws of gravity, that ultimately make Ethan Hunt out to be a superhero. But who cares? It's awesome and if you're looking for a slick looking action/adventure film with insane stunts, then look no further.

I'm not going to get into the whole story, plot or anything like that, because I couldn't tell you if I tried. I was all about the action because that's literally what grabs you right from the beginning, and all I can tell you is to just go along for the ride, because it's an awesome one. Yea there's plenty of exposition, double crosses and intrigue, so you might enjoy or appreciate those elements more than I did, but in this case, it's the action that takes center stage and it's really impressive.

It's no surprise that writer/director Christopher McQuarrie has been tapped to helm the next 2 installments of the franchise based on his success here. He did a phenomenal job, which is all the more impressive considering he only had 3 directing credits to his name before this. But he's certainly written some classics for sure. The Usual Suspects, Jack Reacher, The Edge of Tomorrow, and the previous MI film Rogue Nation are all from him as screenwriter. I'm especially looking forward to his Top Gun sequel (as screenwriter) hitting soon.

Anyway, that's my two cents. For a film series I don't really care for all that much, this one kind of blew me away with its nonstop epic action sequences and it's convinced me to sit down and revisit them all in order someday instead of all spread out.

Fallout is currently streaming on Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime.


80's Thriller Throwback: Tequila Sunrise (1988)

Chinatown Screenwriter Robert Towne Delivers A Smart, Classy And Sexy Thriller In His Second Stint As Director

by robotGEEK

Few screenwriters have had the long-lasting career that Robert Towne has had. It's hard to believe, and almost unheard of, that he's been writing for film and television for over 60 years. And he's still working today! But they're not all homeruns though, because for every Chinatown, Mission Impossible and The Yakuza, there's a Days of Thunder and Mission Impossible 2 (personally, I love the shit out of MI: 2). Still, there's no denying his immense talent as a screenwriter when he's on fire, but a lot of people don't realize he also got behind the directors chair from time to time with a very brief directing career with only 4 films under his belt. And much like his screenwriting credits, it's a mixed bag of drama's, sports and thrillers. In fact, I think this film here is his only thriller and I'm here to tell you that it's a true under-the-radar gem within this genre. I say under-the-radar because while it was financially successful, it's not an overly popular film in the career's of anyone involved, which is really surprising to me because I happened to love it. I mean, nobody is going to immediately think of Tequila Sunrise when they're talking about Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer or Kurt Russell. But moving on.

Released in 1988, Gibson had just come off the massive success of Lethal Weapon, while Russell's previous films were the cult classics Big Trouble in Little China and Overboard. These guys were at the peak of their career's and teaming up with a legend such as Robert Towne seemed like a surefire homerun, and technically, it is. This film oozes style, substance and a clever, razorsharp script from a master of the genre. It's a classy crime thriller that takes it's time with exposition, leaving you guessing a lot of the time as to what these characters are really up to. And I'm talking about everyone, because nobody ever really comes across as who they're projecting to be. And that's something I really enjoyed about this. You never know who's on the up and up, or what anyone's real motive is. It keeps you guessing for the most part until it all starts to come together.

I want to also touch on just how beautiful this film looks. Conrad L. Hall's (Marathon Man, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) camerawork is just simply stunning. As the title implies, this takes place in California, L.A. to be exact, and we are treated to some truly breathtaking cinematography that takes full advantage of the L. A. sunsets.

Everyone brings their A-Game to the table. The acting across the board is impressive, with Raul Julia being especially great here. The tone can best be described as a combination of drama, crime thriller and romance as all 3 leads (Gibson, Russell and Pfeiffer) are intertwined in a steamy affair that complicates everything. While screenwriter and director Robert Towne had only directed one single film years before this, you'd never know it as it's all handled like a seasoned pro. And there's no surprise that the L.A. scenery, via 1988, plays a huge role in this. It's almost as if it's it's own character, and both Hall's brilliant camerawork and Towne's confident direction capture it flawlessly.

Tequila Sunrise is a film that deserves more love. It's a sexy crime thriller with that oozes both style and substance similarly to great results. If there was anything worth complaining about, I could see how some might feel it drags on a bit too long, but I personally enjoyed its nearly 2 hour runtime. I was entertained and engrossed the entire time.

How to see it:
Easily available on every format including Blu-Ray, I chose to rent it on Amazon Prime for a few bucks before I spent the funds to grab it on physical media. Trust me, you'll want to grab this on Blu-Ray above all else so you can enjoy it's gorgeous imagery to full effect.


90's Thriller Throwback: Bird on a Wire (1990)

If Only All Action/Comedy's Were This Good

by robotGEEK

I've said it before, and I'll say it again; director John Badham just doesn't get the love and respect he deserves as a great director. And I'm guilty of that too. I was never a fan of his particular "style" of directing back when his films were hitting theaters in the 80's and 90's. I just didn't "get it". While I grew up on films of his like Wargames Short Circuit, for some reason I just couldn't get into his others that followed. Truth be told, I didn't give most of them a shot, so I realize now I was really missing out on some gems. Blue Thunder, The Hard Way, Point of No Return (a remake of La Femme Nikita), and Stakeout were all surprisingly great films that I kick myself for not ever giving a chance years earlier when I should have. But better late than never.

Sandwiched between his highly successful Stakeout (1987), and The Hard Way (1991), Bird on a Wire stars Mel Gibson fresh off the successes of Lethal Weapon 1 & 2, when he was a leading heartthrob once upon a time. That's crazy to think, isn't it? There was a time when Mel was a damn good looking guy, charming, funny and a leading man to so many great films. To look at the grumpy old man he's become today is a bit shocking.

This would be Goldie's followup to her cult classic Overboard from a whole 3 years earlier, and while I found her incredibly annoying in this, I know it was just the way her character was written, because she really is so damn cute, even in this. I might also add that I don't recall another film where her amazing ass is featured more prominently than it is here. I mean, I've always admired it, because it is rather impressive, but there are a number of scenes that really remind you why it's so glorious. Thank you John Badham. Thank you.

As for the film itself, I can't help it. I loved the shit out of it. It was so much fun, mixing just the right amount of comedy with impressive and explosive action. The film hits all the right notes in the action/comedy genre, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was co-written by none other than the screenwriter of one of my all-time favorite films on the planet, the Kung Fu epic The Last Dragon.

It also helps that we have legends such as David Carradine and Bill Duke playing the bad guys. While their characters really aren't given much depth, seeing them show up from time to time to shoot shit up and create chaos is really fun. Oh, and legendary hottie and B-Movie queen Joan Severance also shows up briefly, but memorably. 

I really don't know why I never bothered to see this until now, other than I guess it just didn't seem all that appealing at the time. But boy was I wrong, because it was legitimately a blast from start to finish. Funny when it's supposed to be, and the action is big, loud and impressively done. Give this one a watch! Its a fun afternoon flick that reminds me why the 90's really was a great decade for film.

Documentary Spotlight: The Power of Glove

by robotGEEK

If you're anywhere close to my age, then you grew up on a healthy dose of Nintendo in the 80's and 90's. I know I sure did. While I would eventually dig into some other systems like the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis (both amazing systems in their own right!), I'm still all about the original NES system. My fondest gaming memories revolve around this system and the countless hours I spent playing classic games like Ghosts n' Goblins, Slalom, Commando, Contra, Kung Fu, Marble Madness, Wizards & Warriors and countless other games we could get our hands on.

With that being said, we never got the Power Glove. We had R.O.B the Robot, and I sure as hell wish I had held onto that whole setup considering how much he goes for today, but for some reason we never pushed to get that killer Power Glove. And as we all know, that thing crashed and burned so quickly that I'm not surprised that it wasn't something in our consciousness back then, because the more I try to think back, I honestly don't ever recall even hearing about it to be honest. When you hear the facts, it's short life span really isn't all that surprising.

This crowdfunded via Kickstarter documentary will answer any question you ever had about how it was made, conceived, released, produced, designed, and why it crashed and burned so epicly. Really, there were a lot of things I didn't know about it, and finally understanding why it failed so miserably makes it all the more fascinating. It really is one of those crazy stories about a product that should have become a blockbuster, but poor planning and a poor release strategy doomed it to failure.

One of the things you'll notice immediately as the opening credits rolled up is that this is going to be fun. And it is. It's a blast of nostalgia that's just as informative as it is engaging. So much work went into this, and damn near every single person responsible for it's creation and release is interviewed and given their two cents on it's cult status, and why and how it just didn't work.

The Power of Glove is a fascinating, engrossing and completely entertaining documentary that is not only a punch to the gut of nostalgia, but an incredibly informative and well made documentary that deserves to be seen. We streamed it on Amazon Prime, but I'll sure as hell be picking up the DVD for my collection. This NEEDS to be in my collection.


70's Thriller Throwback: Futureworld (1976)

by robotGEEK

Futureworld May Be One Of The Best 70's Sci-Fi/Thrillers You've Never Seen

Released 3 years after Westworld, Futureworld (with no input or participation by Westworld creator  Michael Crichton) finds the embarrassment of Westworld has helped them improve the theme park with brand new updated robots and technology. The park enlists the help of two reporters (Peter Fonda, Blythe Danner) to come experience the all new theme park, now with multiple "worlds", including the retro-impressive Futureworld taking center stage, in the hopes of running a favorable piece to help squash any negativity from the previous Westworld from just a few years before. The reporters soon discover the park's hidden agenda. Can they make it out alive to tell the world what's really happening at Futureworld?

I have to say, this was quite the pleasant surprise. Sitting in my "watchlist" for ages, we had finally run out of films to watch one night and took a gamble on this. The mediocre rating on IMDB didn't help get us excited, but we're suckers for 70's sci-fi/thrillers and Futureworld not only surprised us at every turn, but exceeded our expectations. Which surprised us with it's tepid response from critics and moviegoers. It's really a great sci-fi/thriller.

If you're a fan of this genre, there's just so much to love in here. The production design is simply phenomenal. The retro-cool decor will blow you away, as will the costume design, with some incredibly sexy outfits on a lot of the female "sex" robots.

Fonda and Danner were such a fantastic team, playing off each other like an old married couple with the constant bickering. There's a history to their relationship that plays a big part in their constant banter, but when they're in "investigation mode", it's a great thing to see. The cast also includes none other than legendary bad guy John P. Ryan as one of the new scientists that helped create this all-new updated world.

70's sci-fi/thrillers have such a unique look and feel to them. They're one of most favorite genre's and when it comes to the effects work, Futureworld stands on it's own as a class act in practical effects and design work. This was a time when sets were real, and big! While I know they shot multiple sequences at different locations around the world to achieve that "mod sci fi" aesthetic, it's flawlessly integrated into one another and a damn impressive visual feast.

This would mark the last film for Yul Brynner (through a brief, and honestly an unnecessary cameo), who succumbed to lung cancer shortly after. Though you'd never know it, because he looks as fit as he did when starring in his now iconic role as the gunfighter in the original film just a few years earlier.

Futureworld deserves more love, recognition and respect within the science fiction community. It's a film that while plays homage to the original, is it's own and completely separate entity and it's great. While the first film played more within the western genre and themes, this one hits all the right notes within the thriller genre. The fact that it's also technically a science fiction film and a thriller only makes it all the more special.

Available on every format, including a modestly priced Blu-Ray (which I need to get!), it's also currently streaming on Amazon Prime right now.