The Return of Torgo and Wooley's September Excite-o-rama!

Tools    







Produced by Ivan Reitman? Score by Elmer Bernstein? Ernie Hudson in a supporting role? Is this Ghostbusters? Nope, Chuck Testa...just kidding, it's Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, one of the many sci-fi movies of its era that took cues from Star Wars and The Road Warrior. Our hero, Wolff (Peter Strauss), is very much cut from Han Solo's cloth, i.e., a bounty hunter who only takes orders from one guy: himself. His latest job is to rescue three lovely ladies who crash landed on a planet not far removed from post-apocalyptic Australia and who become captives of Overdog (Michael Ironside), a former "Earther," as the movie calls them, who pulled a Colonel Kurtz. Assisting Wolff - whether he wants her to or not - is local tracker Nikki (Molly Ringwald), who might as well be Chewbacca for how unintelligible her "space speak" is half the time.

The most distinguishing feature of the Road Warrior aesthetic is to have a bunch of rusty techno-junk lying around, which this movie goes all in on in an impressive way. Besides making the planet seem like an even more hellish Tatooine, and except for the odd matte background here and there - all of which aren't half bad - it gives the movie a pleasantly tactile quality. Is Peter Strauss' Wolff on par with Ford's Solo? No (but who is), but I approve of how he winks at the camera each time he delivers one of his surly one-liners. Hudson and Ringwald are also welcome sights, especially because it's interesting to see what kind of work they did before they became icons. While Nikki is annoying at times, especially when she overdoes on the "space speak," the way she plays off Strauss's tough guy makes it easier to swallow. The MVP, though, is Ironside, whose over-the-top getup - think lovechild of a Spacing Guild member in David Lynch's Dune and a toy crane arcade game - and what he wants to do with his new prisoners makes him loathsome and hilarious in equal measure. As for the action, it's surprisingly decent, the highlight being Overdog's "games," which are what would happen if Thunderdome hosted American Ninja Warrior.

Despite what I like about this movie, the end result reminds me of something Mike says in Better Call Saul: "I was hired to do a job. I did it. That's as far as it goes." In other words, it pretty much does what it sets out to do: no more, no less. With that said, it does have tasty food for thought about characters like Wolff, Han Solo, etc. and how in spite of their pride, they need others - especially ones they don't see eye to eye with like Nikki - to get their jobs done. With that said, The '80s have their fair share of movies inspired by the work of guys named George from Lucas to Miller, and understandably so since they changed the face of entertainment. While this one is not the best, you could do much worse, and it’s ideal to watch with pals since there’s plenty of opportunities for riffing.

My rating: 3 oversized hand claws out of 5

My guy (or gal): Washington (Ernie Hudson), who gives Wolff a helping hand in his mission despite their history and not particularly liking him.



Victim of The Night


Produced by Ivan Reitman? Score by Elmer Bernstein? Ernie Hudson in a supporting role? Is this Ghostbusters? Nope, Chuck Testa...just kidding, it's Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, one of the many sci-fi movies of its era that took cues from Star Wars and The Road Warrior. Our hero, Wolff (Peter Strauss), is very much cut from Han Solo's cloth, i.e., a bounty hunter who only takes orders from one guy: himself. His latest job is to rescue three lovely ladies who crash landed on a planet not far removed from post-apocalyptic Australia and who become captives of Overdog (Michael Ironside), a former "Earther," as the movie calls them, who pulled a Colonel Kurtz. Assisting Wolff - whether he wants her to or not - is local tracker Nikki (Molly Ringwald), who might as well be Chewbacca for how unintelligible her "space speak" is half the time.

The most distinguishing feature of the Road Warrior aesthetic is to have a bunch of rusty techno-junk lying around, which this movie goes all in on in an impressive way. Besides making the planet seem like an even more hellish Tatooine, and except for the odd matte background here and there - all of which aren't half bad - it gives the movie a pleasantly tactile quality. Is Peter Strauss' Wolff on par with Ford's Solo? No (but who is), but I approve of how he winks at the camera each time he delivers one of his surly one-liners. Hudson and Ringwald are also welcome sights, especially because it's interesting to see what kind of work they did before they became icons. While Nikki is annoying at times, especially when she overdoes on the "space speak," the way she plays off Strauss's tough guy makes it easier to swallow. The MVP, though, is Ironside, whose over-the-top getup - think lovechild of a Spacing Guild member in David Lynch's Dune and a toy crane arcade game - and what he wants to do with his new prisoners makes him loathsome and hilarious in equal measure. As for the action, it's surprisingly decent, the highlight being Overdog's "games," which are what would happen if Thunderdome hosted American Ninja Warrior.

Despite what I like about this movie, the end result reminds me of something Mike says in Better Call Saul: "I was hired to do a job. I did it. That's as far as it goes." In other words, it pretty much does what it sets out to do: no more, no less. With that said, it does have tasty food for thought about characters like Wolff, Han Solo, etc. and how in spite of their pride, they need others - especially ones they don't see eye to eye with like Nikki - to get their jobs done. With that said, The '80s have their fair share of movies inspired by the work of guys named George from Lucas to Miller, and understandably so since they changed the face of entertainment. While this one is not the best, you could do much worse, and it’s ideal to watch with pals since there’s plenty of opportunities for riffing.

My rating: 3 oversized hand claws out of 5

My guy (or gal): Washington (Ernie Hudson), who gives Wolff a helping hand in his mission despite their history and not particularly liking him.
I think I like this a little more than you even though I would have written a nearly identical review. For some reason this one stands out a little to me compared to the ocean of post-Star-Wars-post-Mad-Max movies. Everything you say about how the production for a B-movie works well here is on-point and I liked Wolff a good deal. I actually liked Ringwald too, to my surprise. I think I would go with a scaled (to post-RW-apocalyptic-B-movie-level) 3.5 oversized hand claws.



I think I like this a little more than you even though I would have written a nearly identical review. For some reason this one stands out a little to me compared to the ocean of post-Star-Wars-post-Mad-Max movies. Everything you say about how the production for a B-movie works well here is on-point and I liked Wolff a good deal. I actually liked Ringwald too, to my surprise. I think I would go with a scaled (to post-RW-apocalyptic-B-movie-level) 3.5 oversized hand claws.
I think I'd rate it higher if I saw it with company rather than just by myself. Like I wrote at the end, it seems like the kind of movie that's best enjoyed when you can riff on it with other people.

Speaking of post-Star-Wars-post-Mad-Max movies, have you or has anyone else seen Metalstorm: The Destruction Of Jared-Syn? Is it worth seeking out? Looks like it's not on any streaming or rental services. Not even Tubi has it. Maybe it's for good reason?



have you or has anyone else seen Metalstorm: The Destruction Of Jared-Syn?
The title is certainly a memorable one so I kinda thought I might have but after browsing some images just now, I'd say I haven't seen it. Nothing was familiar.

I mean a LOT of it was familiar, but from other movies, if you know what I mean.
__________________
Captain's Log
My Collection



Victim of The Night
I think I'd rate it higher if I saw it with company rather than just by myself. Like I wrote at the end, it seems like the kind of movie that's best enjoyed when you can riff on it with other people.

Speaking of post-Star-Wars-post-Mad-Max movies, have you or has anyone else seen Metalstorm: The Destruction Of Jared-Syn? Is it worth seeking out? Looks like it's not on any streaming or rental services. Not even Tubi has it. Maybe it's for good reason?
Yes, I saw Metalstorm many times and had planned to view it for this thread. It was in one of my queues but I see you're right, in no longer is. I believe it was on Prime until about two months ago.

I loved that claw-hand situation and was always trying to do something like that with gloves and plastic parts and shit and I really feel like Metalstorm took the whole genre to its most extreme. Which is not necessarily to say that it was any good, but it definitely made use of imagination.



Victim of The Night

Alphaville

Pourquoi/Parce que

Well, I hardly even know where to begin with this. I'll try to keep it brief, but I doubt I will.
I chose this movie, not because of Godard's recent death, but essentially randomly. I was scrolling through my queues, saw its thumbnail, and thought, "it would be nice to throw a Sci-fi Art Film into the mix and you've never seen it", so I did. A few minutes in, I said to myself, "wait, is this Godard?" His name only flashes on the screen for a second, maybe less at the beginning of the film and I guess I was not focused on the words flashing on the screen, but it felt like him, specific shots and given the time. Oddly, this happened on September 13th, the day he died. Neat to have a little Godard Tribute here.
Agent Lemmy Caution is sent to Alphaville, a technocracy separate from "the Outlands" or "the Outer Countries", ruled and administered by the computer Alpha 60 and overseen by its creator, Professor Braun. His mission is to capture or if necessary kill, the Professor. Alpha 60 and the Professor have created a society based entirely upon logic where emotion is illegal and passion, love, creativity are suppressed. Normals accept this unquestionably, attend classes administered by Alpha 60 on how to think, and are executed if they show emotion. Yet no one seems too upset about this. Upon his arrival, he is exposed to a way of life he cannot understand or accept, especially because everyone around him does. But once he sees the pathetic underground for the expression of love and passion and it's explained to him that there are lots of people who are in misery in this society suppressing it, in what was probably one of the best and most thematically rich scenes...


... he is driven by his confusion and loathing to pursue his mission and put an end to this dystopia. The more he learns of this society, the more he hates it and wants to destroy it.

They've been condemned to death.
But what have they done?
They behaved illogically.

Godard does an amazing... what am I saying of course he does, he's Jean-Luc Godard, but I very much felt like I was watching something special the entire film, like I was almost smarter for having watched it (given that I understand the context of this film is 1965).
I thought it was incredibly interesting, reading about the making of the film, that Lemmy Caution was an existing Secret Agent character from novels and films of the novels and was played by this actor, Eddie Constantine, and Godard just decided to "write" a film (there was not so much a script) where Lemmy Caution goes into space to visit a technocratic society and be exposed to a perfect Logical Dystopia. There's not really a lot of precedent for this beyond the Speculative Fiction novels and short-stories that were around at the time.
Of course, with Godard, there is also the camera.
There are some wonderful shots in this film, including a tracking shot that lasts nearly four minutes (I had to go back and watch it because I didn't realize it was happening until it cut) and goes up a glass elevator and down the hall to a door, where it cuts to a wide shot from inside the room of him opening the door. Great shots of stairways and lots of glass and reflections, amazing use of modern architecture (in choice of building exteriors and interiors), and then just some really nice character shots. For example, Caution is led through Alphaville by Natatcha, Professor Braun's daughter and the interaction between she and Caution is an important framing for both the action and the themes of the film, but also for some great images.


Natatcha, portrayed by Anna Karina, is wonderful and essential the both the narrative and themes of the film. She is the fully indoctrinated daughter of the creator of Alpha 60 and yet she feels something because of Caution... and she can't help herself but pursue it. This leads to some wonderful scenes about words and language and poetry and how important they are to the human soul, culminating in my other favorite moment from the movie, as well as some fantastic shots (Karina is insanely photogenic) like one where the camera focuses on her eye while a light goes on and off and her pupil dilates and contracts with the light while she recites poetry.


I think I am ready to go ahead and call this a masterpiece. I feel fairly close to how I felt about Last Year At Marienbad, which I think of as a Horror movie, by the way, for this "genre" film, that presages Blade Runner and other future/dystopian Noir films, yet this is also something that transcends genre, has a great deal to say about the soul and the human condition, and is a work of art that could be hanging in The Louvre. I don't know if this film is for everyone, but I am glad it exists and will selectively recommend it to people I think will appreciate it.



Not my favourite from Godard (hard to compete with Weekend declaring “Fin du Cinema” at the end), but the man was on an insane run for a few years there.

I understand Eddie Constantine made a career out of playing token Americans in European movies. He makes an appearance in The Long Good Friday, IIRC, which is something of a favourite.



Victim of The Night
Not my favourite from Godard (hard to compete with Weekend declaring “Fin du Cinema” at the end), but the man was on an insane run for a few years there.

I understand Eddie Constantine made a career out of playing token Americans in European movies. He makes an appearance in The Long Good Friday, IIRC, which is something of a favourite.
It's only my second Godard. I like it equal to or more than (because of the content more than the style) Breathless.

Apparently Constantine said that this film derailed his career because after this producers "shunned him' after this art-film.



It's either Pierrot Le Fou, Contempt or Alphaville which would be my favorite of his. But, why choose. Godard's 60's run is almost unparalleled by anyone. So much genius. Ever evolving. Always Godard but always different.


As for Constantine, he also makes an appearance as the American in Fassbinder's "Beware of a Holy Whore". Yet another reason it is amazing.



It's only my second Godard. I like it equal to or more than (because of the content more than the style) Breathless.

Apparently Constantine said that this film derailed his career because after this producers "shunned him' after this art-film.
For Godard, I’d recommend working through his (60s) work in chronological order. I think his films with Anna Karina benefit especially from that approach as they gain resonance from the progression of their real life relationship. And it’ll help Weekend pop all the more.




Alphaville

Pourquoi/Parce que

Well, I hardly even know where to begin with this. I'll try to keep it brief, but I doubt I will.
I chose this movie, not because of Godard's recent death, but essentially randomly. I was scrolling through my queues, saw its thumbnail, and thought, "it would be nice to throw a Sci-fi Art Film into the mix and you've never seen it", so I did. A few minutes in, I said to myself, "wait, is this Godard?" His name only flashes on the screen for a second, maybe less at the beginning of the film and I guess I was not focused on the words flashing on the screen, but it felt like him, specific shots and given the time. Oddly, this happened on September 13th, the day he died. Neat to have a little Godard Tribute here.
Agent Lemmy Caution is sent to Alphaville, a technocracy separate from "the Outlands" or "the Outer Countries", ruled and administered by the computer Alpha 60 and overseen by its creator, Professor Braun. His mission is to capture or if necessary kill, the Professor. Alpha 60 and the Professor have created a society based entirely upon logic where emotion is illegal and passion, love, creativity are suppressed. Normals accept this unquestionably, attend classes administered by Alpha 60 on how to think, and are executed if they show emotion. Yet no one seems too upset about this. Upon his arrival, he is exposed to a way of life he cannot understand or accept, especially because everyone around him does. But once he sees the pathetic underground for the expression of love and passion and it's explained to him that there are lots of people who are in misery in this society suppressing it, in what was probably one of the best and most thematically rich scenes...


... he is driven by his confusion and loathing to pursue his mission and put an end to this dystopia. The more he learns of this society, the more he hates it and wants to destroy it.

They've been condemned to death.
But what have they done?
They behaved illogically.

Godard does an amazing... what am I saying of course he does, he's Jean-Luc Godard, but I very much felt like I was watching something special the entire film, like I was almost smarter for having watched it (given that I understand the context of this film is 1965).
I thought it was incredibly interesting, reading about the making of the film, that Lemmy Caution was an existing Secret Agent character from novels and films of the novels and was played by this actor, Eddie Constantine, and Godard just decided to "write" a film (there was not so much a script) where Lemmy Caution goes into space to visit a technocratic society and be exposed to a perfect Logical Dystopia. There's not really a lot of precedent for this beyond the Speculative Fiction novels and short-stories that were around at the time.
Of course, with Godard, there is also the camera.
There are some wonderful shots in this film, including a tracking shot that lasts nearly four minutes (I had to go back and watch it because I didn't realize it was happening until it cut) and goes up a glass elevator and down the hall to a door, where it cuts to a wide shot from inside the room of him opening the door. Great shots of stairways and lots of glass and reflections, amazing use of modern architecture (in choice of building exteriors and interiors), and then just some really nice character shots. For example, Caution is led through Alphaville by Natatcha, Professor Braun's daughter and the interaction between she and Caution is an important framing for both the action and the themes of the film, but also for some great images.


Natatcha, portrayed by Anna Karina, is wonderful and essential the both the narrative and themes of the film. She is the fully indoctrinated daughter of the creator of Alpha 60 and yet she feels something because of Caution... and she can't help herself but pursue it. This leads to some wonderful scenes about words and language and poetry and how important they are to the human soul, culminating in my other favorite moment from the movie, as well as some fantastic shots (Karina is insanely photogenic) like one where the camera focuses on her eye while a light goes on and off and her pupil dilates and contracts with the light while she recites poetry.


I think I am ready to go ahead and call this a masterpiece. I feel fairly close to how I felt about Last Year At Marienbad, which I think of as a Horror movie, by the way, for this "genre" film, that presages Blade Runner and other future/dystopian Noir films, yet this is also something that transcends genre, has a great deal to say about the soul and the human condition, and is a work of art that could be hanging in The Louvre. I don't know if this film is for everyone, but I am glad it exists and will selectively recommend it to people I think will appreciate it.
I saw it recently and I also enjoyed it quite a bit.



I like Alphaville a lot too. I wish Godard (R.I.P.) had made more genre movies like it since he was good at it. I love Caution's conversations with Alpha 90, especially because of the robot's voice. So pleasantly off-putting.

There were a lot of stories like this movie's in that era (the similar Return of the Archons episode from Star Trek comes to mind). What inspired them? Communism and/or emerging computer technology, probably.

My next entry is also from the '60s.





This is a sometimes dreamlike, sometimes scary fantasy movie that fans of Carnival of Souls may enjoy and not just because both take place at seaside carnivals. While on leave, sailor Johnny (a young Dennis Hopper) visits one in California and becomes enamored with a beautiful and mysterious woman named Mora (Linda Lawson). Since the title comes from a line in Edgar Allen Poe's poem Annabel Lee, and based on the poster, I don't think it's a spoiler to reveal that Mora may or may not actually be what she portrays at the carnival: a mermaid. A mysterious older woman who only speaks Greek and the suspicions of Captain Murdock (Gavin Muir), who runs the attraction, make Johnny wonder if he should keep seeing Mora, as do some cops who make routine investigations.

I like seeing the latest and greatest special effects and production design as much as the next guy, but there's something special to me about movies that wow me simply on the strength of their acting and with only a few effects, which this one does. Hopper is as watchable and charismatic in this as he is in his most famous roles and it's nice to see him do more subtle work as opposed to his not totally irredeemable, but more over the top and cartoonish '90s performances. Lawson is also perfectly cast for coming across as otherworldly as she looks. Whether it's Johnny's interactions with the carnival's fortune teller or the kindly yet cautious father and daughter who run the merry-go-round, the movie builds quite the mystery about Mora's identity. Also, thanks to a shocking dream sequence and again, Hopper’s performance, Johnny's dilemma as to whether he should keep pursuing this romance becomes more and more compelling.

When it comes to tales about forbidden love, though, this is one of the more interesting and entertaining ones I've watched in a while. If my review sold you on this movie and you have Amazon Prime, I recommend paying extra for the original black and white version because the quality of the "colorized" version on Prime Video left much to be desired. As for the mystery, while it held my interest until the end, the reveal gives more away than is necessary. Still, fans of low-budget fare from this era about the strange things that happen in off the beaten path America like Messiah of Evil and again, Carnival of Souls are especially bound to enjoy it.

My rating: 4 rubber tentacles out of 5

My guy (or gal): Johnny, a guy who like the rest of us is just looking for someone to love.



I like Alphaville a lot too. I wish Godard (R.I.P.) had made more genre movies like it since he was good at it. I love Caution's conversations with Alpha 90, especially because of the robot's voice. So pleasantly off-putting.

There were a lot of stories like this movie's in that era (the similar Return of the Archons episode from Star Trek comes to mind). What inspired them? Communism and/or emerging computer technology, probably.

My next entry is also from the '60s.

In the case of Godard, I doubt it was fear of the conformity of communism.



The Godards I’ve seen that flirt closest with genre filmmaking are Made in USA and Detective. Found the former pretty fun and the latter pretty boring.



I feel I should've enjoyed that one more than I ultimately did. The technical aspects in it are exactly what I want out of film, but I was left very cold by the characters. I'll probably return to it sometime in the future though.



From Godard, I think the only one I really enjoyed was Weekend. I find I appreciate his films more than I love them (of the ones I've seen*), which given how seismic his impact on film, there's a lot of appreciation that is due.

*: Breathless
Band of Outsiders
Contempt
Alphaville
Pierrot le Fou
Weekend

I may have seen A Woman Is a Woman (or parts of it), I've only started the first five minutes of 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her way back when (I can't remember what pulled me away from it at the time).
__________________
Saved for personal reference (to see how wrong I was): top 100 comedy countdown - my predictions for my ballot after #41 (Borat) on the list had been revealed



Victim of The Night
I like Alphaville a lot too. I wish Godard (R.I.P.) had made more genre movies like it since he was good at it. I love Caution's conversations with Alpha 90, especially because of the robot's voice. So pleasantly off-putting.

There were a lot of stories like this movie's in that era (the similar Return of the Archons episode from Star Trek comes to mind). What inspired them? Communism and/or emerging computer technology, probably.

My next entry is also from the '60s.
Apparently, "Return Of The Archons" was directly inspired by Alphaville.