Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '87 - Daniel Budnik ""

Monday, May 8, 2017

Underrated '87 - Daniel Budnik

Dan Budnik's second book, '80s Action Movies On The Cheap, is due out in Spring and can be pre-ordered from Amazon. His first book, Bleeding Skull!: A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey, is out of print but can still be found by those who look hard enough. His writing is on the Some Polish American Guy Reviews Things blog and the Bleeding Skull! website. He is host of the Eventually Supertrain and the Dan's Drive-In Double Feature podcasts, located at eventuallysupertrain.blogspot.com. He is also co-host of The Made For TV Mayhem Show and part of the Podcastmania horror discussion."
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Blood Frenzy
Dir: Hal Freeman
A slasher set in the desert with a trowel-wielding madman (it is a very sharp trowel) killing a bunch of people brought there by their psychiatrist for some sort of Sweaty Therapy. If you were a video store person back in the day, you knew the big box for this one. It was garish and gory and great. The movie itself pours on the clich├ęd characters. But, it also keeps a good pace and has some sloppy killings… and a very sprightly ending. This isn’t one of my Top (or even Second) tier slashers but the setting is fantastic and it’s well made. Plus, Lisa Loring as an angry lesbian. (Compare this with her role in Iced next year. I prefer snow to sand but that’s just me.)

Blood Lake
Dir: Tim Boggs
One of my all-time favorites. Hands down. Six teens go to a lake house for a long weekend of fun at the end of summer. Eventually, (is there a stronger word for eventually?) a killer in a lovely embroidered shirt begins to kill them. While we wait for the killings to start, everyone hangs around, goes waterskiing, smokes a few doobies, plays quarters, has lunch, changes locks on doors… and so many other wonderful things. The film is, ostensibly, a slasher film. But, really it’s just a bunch of dudes and dudettes hanging out. And it is lathered with thick and creamy gobs of verisimilitude, which I love. Plus, it has L’il Tony, the sleaziest teen in SOV movies. You will love him instantly AND want to quote everything he says. Trust me.

Creepshow 2
Dir: Michael Gornick
When this came out, I remember hearing nothing but disparaging comments. Then, I watched it on HBO and really enjoyed it. The first segment, Old Chief Woodenhead, might go on a bit too long and resolve itself too quickly but it’s still quite good. The second segment, The Raft, is clearly brilliant. And, I loved the craziness of The Hitch-Hiker. It’s a very good anthology film. And anthology films don’t have to be anywhere near the Very Good range for me to love them. Did folks want more stories? Were they used to five in anthology and they felt ripped off? I don’t know. The fact that I have an Arrow Blu-Ray of this loaded with extras and looking gorgeous… and I only have an OK Blu-Ray of the first one says something about something. But, I’m not sure I can get more specific than that.
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Masters of the Universe
Dir: Gary Goddard
I was never a He-Man fan as a kid. The cartoon was on in the morning and I never watched it. (From 2nd grade on, I used to get myself up and out in the morning. No time for cartoons.) I never had any of the action figures. I kind of felt like I missed out because so many of my friends went crazy for that world. I only saw the movie recently to review it for my action film book. Since then, I’ve got both seasons of the original run on DVD and watched the first one. Pious and stilted as it may be, I enjoy the characters, the writing and the colors of the cartoon. I had heard nothing good about the movie. Yet I really enjoyed it. Cannon was notorious for screwing up the Big Ones… and they do make the mistake of moving the characters from Eternia to Earth. But, it’s still a lot of fun. I found myself engrossed and enjoying it and wishing there had been a Part 2 set solely on Eternia. Plus, it’s got James Tolkan in it! He’s the best.
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Mind Killer
Dir.: Michael Krueger
Prism Entertainment made a movie! Actually, they ended up making at least three but this is the first one. And, surprisingly, it’s quite good. It’s not a world beater but it’s far more intelligent, far more charming and far more funny than you would imagine a direct-to-video film made by a video company would be. I reviewed this for the Bleeding Skull book so I won’t go too in-depth (reference your copy of the book). If you choose to spend an evening with Mind Killer, it will surprise you. In the end, it may go exactly where you thought it would but there will be a few cool twists and turns before you get there. Plus, it has the great tagline “Warren’s brain is out of his mind!”

Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol
Dir.: Jim Drake
My brother and I went to see this on opening weekend. We loved it. I own the Blu-Ray now. I still love it. Are there problems? Yes. The skateboarding sequence is clearly pandering. But to whom? My brother and I were the right age to enjoy it but it bored us. Too much time is spent on secondary characters at the expense of our leads. (Some of that is explained by deleted scenes, which gave Mahoney a lot more to do.) The rap theme song was standard for 1987 but tiring even then. And, Harris (as much as I love G.W. Bailey) was never as funny to watch as the blissfully stupid Mauser. But, we didn’t care. I still don’t. Yes, Part 3 and part 4 are the EXACT same movie. It feels like Gene Quintano wrote a very long script for 3 and they kept the best jokes for that movie and saved the rejects for 4. But, there are still a lot of laughs (Proctor’s Predicament in the Port-A-Potty is a Pip) and the ending is the most exciting since 1. It felt like things were winding down for the series here but there was still some life left. (If you know me, you know 6 is one of my favorites.) 4 standing alone might not amount to much. However, watched in quick succession in a Police Academy Week (7 films, 7 days of the week, hint hint), it’s raucous fun. Plus, Bobcat Goldthwait is continually and consistently doing funny things throughout. (He and Corinne Bohrer make a really wonderful couple.)
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The Video Dead
Dir.: Robert Scott
Pure imagination-filled good times. This film should be held aloft alongside films such as The Monster Squad or Night of the Creeps. But, maybe it’s just a bit too rough around the edges. That’s too bad. A demonic TV releases zombies into a home and the surrounding woods. And the zombies are scary. And the zombies are funny. (There’s a great conceit that the zombies really just want to be treated as if they’re alive. So, if you act like they’re regular people, they won’t bother you.) And, as mentioned, it has a strong imagination behind it. If you like quirky zombie movies, watch it. If you like quirky movies, watch it. If you like big hair, lap it up. As someone said in a review long ago, it’s the only movie where a suspense sequence is built around someone desperately trying to find the end of a piece of tape so he can tear off a piece to cover up the screen of a demonic TV. Can’t beat that.
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