Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '86 - Daniel Budnik ""

Monday, May 30, 2016

Underrated '86 - Daniel Budnik

Daniel Budnik is a writer whose second book about movies has finally been sent to the publisher. His first book, co-written with Joseph A. Ziemba, is Bleeding Skull!: A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey. Daniel is part of two podcasts: The Made-For-TV Mayhem Show, which he co-hosts with the awesome Amanda By Night of Made-For-TV Mayhem. And, Podcastmania, which is a bunch of fun folks talking about horror movies, pop culture and life in general. You can follow him on Twitter at @dannyslacks1. His current writing can be found at his blog Some Polish American Guy Reviews Things and there are also reviews of his on the Bleeding Skull! website.

Police Academy 3: Back In Training (Directed by Jerry Paris)
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the PoliceAcademy movies. At least once a year, I have Police AcademyWeek in my home. I watch one movie a night for 7 nights with my two dogs. Then, I deliver lectures (with Q&A) about each of the movies as I pace around my living room. So there’s no way I would leave a PA movie out of a list like this. 3 is a remake of 1. There are two academies in the city. One of them is run by Lassard. One is run by Mauser from Part 2. (They gave Mauser an Academy? What city is this?) The cadets from Part 1 now train minor characters from Parts 1 and 2 to be cops. Don’t let any story or plot stop you. It’s all about the gags here. 3 abandons any semblance of story or character development and is, basically, a sketch comedy. Some gags hit, some don’t. But, in general, this is a pretty entertaining, mostly funny to amusing, film. Highlights being the very silly opening sequence, Mouser trying to talk to the Governor after the opening graduation, Proctor’s midnight nude run and almost any moment with Zed. There’s a lot more I’d like to say but I save that for my After Movie Lectures. Watch out for invitations to next year’s Police Academy week. I’d love to have another human join me.

Eliminators (Directed by Peter Manoogian)
An evil scientist living in the jungles of South America has created two super cool sci-fi items: a time machine and a Mandroid. The evil scientist wants to travel back to ancient Rome and become head of the Roman Empire, thereby changing history. The Mandroid revolts against this. So, he/ it, a government scientist, the scientist’robot, a river boat captain and a ninja team up to stop him. I didn’t remember this film being that great when I saw it decades ago. Shout Factory put it on a Blu-Ray with The Dungeonmaster and it turns out…  Eliminators is pretty great. It’s well-directed. The action scenes are exciting. It’s paced very well. Fine acting. Wonderfully weird story. And, possibly most important of all, it has a sharp, fun script that isn’t afraid to throw in the odd twist or turn as it goes along. Match this with The Dungeonmaster and you have probably the most underrated Blu-Ray release of the year.

Terror At Tenkiller (Directed by Ken Meyer)
A slasher film that is mostly ignored when people wander into the second half of the 1980s looking for thrills. Why? Well, it’s a little languid. The acting isn’t the sharpest. And, for much of its run, it seems to be more a Lifetime TV movie about two college women determined to discover themselves. One of them, Leslie,is having trouble with her man, Josh. The two ladies head to Tenkiller Lake for the summer to get away from it all. They hang out by the lake. They flip burgers at a local joint. They go out on a boat. And there’s a very slow paced killer on the loose. Could it be Josh? Could it be the pervy fisherman known only as Preacher? Could it be Tor, a local guy we see killing a woman in the very first scene? I’m not going to ruin it for you. The movie never goes quickly, even during the final chase. But, for me, one of the joys of slashers is that they have infinite variety within the structures of the genre. I will gladly watch one that never goes too fast and risk putting everyone to sleep, as long as I know that the next one I watch will have a stronger pace or be really weird. Terror at Tenkiller has never put me to sleep. But, look at it this way: If you fall asleep watching it, maybe you needed the rest. You can thank Terror at Tenkiller for that nap.

The Millionaires Express (Directed by Sammo Hung)
This film is part of an unrelated trilogy of fantastic films that Sammo Hung made for the Hong Kong cinema in the second half of the 1980s. It’s a wonderful free-for-all western/ action piece that has about five different things going on in it at any one time. Sammo has always been one of the best action directors around. Plus, he’s a kung fu powerhouse and very, very charming. The two films he made right after thisEastern Condors and Pedicab Driver, I probably watch once a year. Express, I haven’t watched in about 10. And I don’t know why. It doesn’t have the pathos and action of Pedicab Driver. It doesn’t have the grittiness of Eastern Condors. It’s a goofiermovie about a bunch of odd people who keep getting in fightsI, personally, underrate this filmSo, this paragraph is as much for the writer as it is for the reader. Sammo’s direction is superb. The action is top notch. The time period is perfectly achieved. Cynthia Rothrock shows up and kicks all the ass. And, YuenBiao has a scene where he drops from the second story of a burning building, hits the ground with a roll, stands up and delivers a line…  all in one shot. This is a cool, exciting Hong Kong action film from a time when they were making so many good ones. Dan, watch this today. Thanks, Dan. I will. And then mow the lawn. Sure, Dan.

Action U.S.A. (Directed by John Stewart)
Texas-made action film about two FBI agents and a woman who are on the hunt for a MacGuffin hidden somewhere in the middle of nowhere. A huge group of bad guys, including Ross Hagen, are after them. For being, what looks like, a relatively low budget action film, Action U.S.A. goes for it. From the crazy (surely must have been done illegally) helicopter opening sequence to a wild car chase to a brilliant barroom brawl to the exciting ending, this film is just one damn thing after another. And it’s so good. The bad guys are bad. The good guys are charming. Everyone treats it (fairly) seriously. It never stops being a constantly moving romp that is always a couple moments away from more action. Don’t let the VHS cover throw you. It’s strangely designed. I always thought it was a documentary on stunt people for some reason. It’s not. It’s a fiction film filed with fast, furious fun for folks. I’d recommend a viewing. And, hey, maybe someone wants to release a Blu-Rayof it? I’ll gladly moderate the commentary.

Cry Wilderness (Directed by Jay Schlossberg-Cohen)
I love this movie. It’s the story of Paul, a kid who goes to a snooty boarding school in the NW United States. He spends every summer in the Pacific NW woods with his dad, a forest ranger. Paul made a special friend last summer: Bigfoot. And, one winter, the Spirit of Bigfoot (or Teleporting Bigfoot, it’s not made clear) appears at Paul’s school. Bigfoot tells Paul to go up north and help his dad, who is in great danger. The film treads the finest line between being completely silly and being an earnest coming-of-age Boy with Bigfoot story. This film was on a Vinegar Syndrome DVD double feature with In Search of Bigfoot. I will watch anything Bigfoot-related. In Search of Bigfoot promised documentary-style hunt for the Big Guy with the star being the man who directed Bloodstalkers. I’d only vaguely heard of Cry Wilderness. But, man, I was glad I watched it. From Teleporting Bigfoot to Paul frolicking with a bobcat to the beautiful locations, Cry Wilderness (which is a rather silly title) is great. And it is legitimately something the whole family can watch. Team it with The Force on Thunder Mountain.

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