Posts Tagged ‘American Gladiators’

Now, The Immortalizer is one of those rare B-movies that actually has a great basic set– up with  tons  of potential (even thou it did exist before, at least since the The Atomic Brain) but movie makers (veteran Joel Bender, editor on Power Ranger: The Movie) never got to actually follow it trough. What we got instead was a mess of a movie that follows a crazed doctor and his endless brain- swithings procedures,  often  with a hilarious results– a film like that would feel more at home among the SF movies of the 50’s. It would have been interesting to see what would have someone like Carpenter, author with a clear vision  done on the same budget with the same basic idea, but that’s not to say we didn’t have tons of fun with what we got, ’cause we sure did.

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Who wouldn’t trust a man with a face like this?

The movie starts with a Dr. Divine (Ron Ray) with a crazed look in his eyes injecting the screaming blonde woman with green, florescent liquid (where have I seen this before). Remember this, ’cause it will be (semi) important later.

We now jump to a couple of high- school students (brothers Gregg and Darrell) having fun with their dates (movie and pizza).  They can’t really come to an agreement which one get to sleep with which of the ladies but unfortunately for them they don’t make it that far anyway- not by a long shot!  They should have known that going straight into a dark alley is never a good idea, especially if you’re in a horror movie!

Now you would expect some kind of criminal or a junkie to attack them but no- it’s actually a monster? Some sort of zombies jacked up on steroids!? Man, I would shit my pants too If I ever saw something like that. Even the regular living death can be enough trouble as it is ,not to mention these obviously performance enhanced ones! Now good for them, police actually hears them and shows up (well, just one  cop but still)- but to no avail! All four of them end up kidnapped- cop didn’t even get to be that lucky, zombies throw him onto a brick wall and henchmen then proceed to decapitate him with the wheels of their van (man, that’s a nasty way to go).

Darell wakes up in the private hospital with the rest of the gang still sedated. He hides in the corner hoping no one will notice him. That doesn’t really work out.  Then when he finally runs for it he manages to alert half of the patients. He finally manages to escape by  jumping out a window and for some reason he tries hiding in the car of one of the doctors. He ends up up in a scrap with that doctors and the security too but he makes it out and jogs straight for the Sheriff ‘s Office. He may be dumb as f*@k but Gregg is in great shape.

Unfortunately for him the Sheriff’s Office is completely empty (I’m sure there are regulations against just that) so he calls the Sheriff the only way he knows how- by throwing stones and activating the alarm!? Man, he’s dumb- for sure there’s an easier way to do this. Sheriff then arrives with a record timing. He concludes the only logical thing– that the boy is on drugs and forces Gregg to spend a night in a jails cell. Man, this is really not his night.

Finally the Sheriff arrives to the sheriff’s station? Did he have a more important place to be?

In the morning the Sheriff finally listens to him and he  takes him to Dr. Divine’s place where they deny everything. Desperate Gregg manages to dupe the Sheriff and he runs away again. He then proceeds to recruit the old lady from the Dr. Devine‘s neighborhood (I guess she always suspected something). And you shouldn’t underestimate that lady- the  amount on weaponry she has in her place is unbelievable! 

Now, we see Dr’s goons playing with the zombies and they are christening the newest one Quinnie. Not only is this hulk of a woman the same lady from the beginning she is actually played by a minor celebrity- Bodybuilder and American Gladitator: ZapRaye Hollitt She is also interestingly a former wife of our WM alumni Ted Prior (Deadly Prey, The Final Sanction, Aerobicide).

Head Nurse is jealous and she desperately wants the body of the redhead that was promised to the rich,  irritating grandma. She even went as far as to “damage” her just so she can keep her. Bodies seem to be nothing but kid’s toys to these king of people.

In the end the rich old lady is beyond herself with joy (even though she got a blonde replacement and not original  redhead she wanted). Also we have to note that she kept her old woman’s voice even in this new body. How is that possible- I have no idea!

Now grandma infiltrates the compound but then the goons fuck things up by electrocuting zombies and the whole hell breaks loose.  Nurse uses opportunity to cheat on her husband with another Dr. this one. In the meantime the head nurse is cheating on her husband Dr.Divine with another doctor  who looks a bit like current president of USA Donald Trump.

Hilariously when Gregg finally catches Dr. Divine he is no longer he– you see he switch brains with the young Dr. and in this moment we really have no idea who’s who– and who has his original brain in the original body.

Fighting his way out of the house Gregg manages to save the redhead but Dr. meets his destiny via zombie and meatgrinder- nasty as it gets. But what happened to our  benevolent Dr. Divine you might ask? Well, three months later we see him (in his young man’s body and his old man’s voice) welcoming another client so I guess for his- it’s business as usual.

Verdict: Interesting thing to note, highly acclaimed Horror by Jordan Peelee Get Out uses the same “transfer of the brain” The Immortalizer set up, abelt with more of a social commentary and with a lot more attention to detail (it actually manages to sell its fantastical medical procedure to the viewers) and that showed just how great the idea really is- if you can make it work. But like they say- the devil is in the detail.

 

And despite all the parallels with the Gordon/ Yuzna franchise (glowing, green liquid we’re looking at you) the good Doctor aka Jeffrey Combs himself would have actually been perfect casting for this movie. His dead pen yet quirkie delivery would have elevated this kind of material into something a lot more meaningful. Unfortunately we are left with Ron Ray as a Doctor and he is fun but nothing more than that. But you never know what they’re going to remake next- so there might still be a chance.

 

 

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Next up, a magical journey to the past to save the future! No wait, that actually makes sense.

Continuing our long ( possibly never-ending?) quest of watch all the Barbarian films we encountered an oddity- yes, a time traveling barbarian movie! Generally not a lot of those exist (possibly because Sword and Sorcery and the City doesn’t really go together all that well ) Beastmaster 2: Through The Portal of Time being one of the only notable exemptions from that rule. Also, the movie is directed by B- movie writer Joseph John Barmettler (of Skyscraper fame), and the lead is none other than Deron McBee aka Malibu of American Gladiators (1989).

Our Barbarian King Doran (McBee) likes spending his time strolling the woods, fighting an occasional masked savage(yes, there are different levels of savagery) and scaring his woman with a masked he stole from said savage. So generally good times. He is also the last in long line of Kings (we use this term very broadly ’cause his kingdom is like 10-15 men) entrusted with a mystical amulet with inamaginable powers (including but not limited to space/ time manipulation).  The sacred amulet was originally gifted to his ancestor by a powerful Sorceress for non- disclosed reason.

Ill-advisedly he decides to leave on a hunting trip with his pal while all the barbarian woman engage in some skinny dipping in the river along with some nude gossiping too. Just at that time the evil wizard Mandrak (yes, not really an original name, is it?) decides to strike. Now, Mandrak attacks with his three or four men – he really should have invested in more henchman,  instead of his (limited) magic arsenal. I mean I can find more henchman right now and I have no delusions of world domination or wish to raid any barbarian villages.

Now the protective powers of the amulet are nowhere to be found because Madrak crusifies Lystra between the two trees and then rapes her repeatedly. Probably because he lost a hand in his raid against nude women! Dorin arrives (predictably) too late with Mandrak and his mini- horde all gone along with the amylet. Then he vows vengeance and begins his quest to find the mystical sorceress and right the wrong. Unfortunately at the first step of his “epic” journey he and his friend end up ambushed and his friend pays with his life. I wouldn’t want to be Dorin‘s friend given his recent track record.

Dorin ends up being captured by the savages who sacrifice people to the Lovecraftian deity but eventually Sorcerers show up pretty pissed that he lost her amulet. Now ,Sorceress has a bit of that passive/ aggressive thing going on ’cause she frees him in the end and gifts him with the magic sword from the stone (where have I seen this before?) to help him on his quest of recapturing the sacred amylet?

I wonder what kind of magic is she using for that hair?

And as we all now the only place where a mystical artifact can take you is the Los Angeles in the 90’s Magic simply works that way. Now we see a reporter named Penny who’s just trying to report on rising street violence (kinda like April O’Neil in TMNT), but she becomes a victim of the said violence  in no time. She gets viciously attacked even loosing her shirt in the process (as is mandatory in B-Movies). But our hero shows up just in time, and starts throwing gang members left and right (it seems people have gone soft during the centuries). Reporters deduce that he is from some Nordic country because yeah, in those countries people walk around half naked with swords like it’s the middle ages.

Ok, this dude is the exception.

Now, having a bit of a head start in our brave new world you would expect the Evil Wizard to be ruling L.A. by now. Ok, maybe not the whole city but surely he had taken control of numerous street gangs and made them into his own private army of terror! Nope, not really, he and his only remaining henchman (now sporting a punk rock haircut) are robing random people of the street and spending their money in a seedy bar (with a single hooker). That bar also has probably the ugliest bartender in all the history of cinema

Man this dude is ugly, I still can’t get my head around it

Fascinated by his size the reporter Penny (bearing uncanny resemblance to his dead wife) takes him home and shows him the wonders of modern technology, and also the wonders of modern sex (ok, it hasn’t really progressed that much). Now,  Mandrak’s sees his nemesis on the TV (throwing people around like a crazed WWE wrestler) a spark lights inside him finally lights up. Will his genius finally shine again?  In mere moments he develops a devious plan to defeat the foul Barbarian– to attack him first! To attack him first? Man, he sure is rusty in this plotting evil schemes thing. Well, at least he decides to even the odds by using FIREARMS! Yeah, pure genius. No way he can block the bullets with his magic sword (only he can).

He threatens the goon as seeks the location of Mandrak’s and manages to kill him before he speaks. Thankfully cameraman dude shows up, and somehow they figure out Mandrak’s locations. That location is shockingly just a random warehouse (I guess that’s the only thing crew had available) and the otherwise pathetic finish out to be hell of a lot of a fun because of a simple thing- a hand! You see Dorin was wearing Mandrak’s severed hand on his belt for like a whole hour of the movie and now we know why- to pimp slap the Wizard with his own hand!!! He might act like an idiot in every other scene but here he is comical genius.

Now, after finally defeating the Wizard, reclaiming the amulet and finding the love of his life against all odds, across  the whole space and time what does our hero do? He activates the power of the amulet and strolls back home, walking down the railway too- he is just that stupid. Penny continues her best April O’Neil impersonation by narrating about Dorin’s heroic deeds on camera. And that is all.


Verdict I absolutely understand all the budget constraints (first part of the movie is mostly just forest + a smoke machine) and some thing you can chalk off to 80’s clichess but other things- not so much. For example in the case of Conan the Barbarian Arnold was never given too many lines and that coupled with his incredible physique sold him as formidable and even menacing. On the other hand when you have McBee with his California blonde hair and horse-like teeth (actually quite useful in another role *see Trivia) just blabbing along like a schoolgirl, all of that muscle can’t save him from looking ridiculous. Now, to his credit MbBee sticked to acting even to this day and he actually got a LOT better (see his guest spot on Veronica Mars, episode You Think You Know Somebody if you want proof.)

Trivia: Daron McBee (as if American Gladiators and Time Barbarians weren’t enough) went on to star  in another movie worthy of the WM Crew list. Yes,he appeared in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation as Montaro. Dont’ tell me you’ve forgoten all about this- I mean he is really hard to miss!

“Without your weapons, you are no match for Motaro.”