Saturday, 27 March 2010

Albert Pyun's Radioactive Dreams

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Radioactive Dreams
(1985/USA/Mexico)


‘‘I bet there’s nothing but love sick dolls out there’’



Two post nuke private dicks seek fun loving future chicks in this after the bomb blast from the past.
Saved from the nuclear explosion by their guardians Spade Chandler (George Kennedy) and Dash Hammer (Don Murray), pre teen friends Philip Chandler (John Stockwell) and Marlowe Hammer (Michael Dudikoff) spend fifteen years locked away in a protective underground shelter. 2010 April 1st, all fools day indeed, the friends emerge from their protective incarceration as young men. Self educated over the elapsed period of time, fed on a diet of old detective movies and dance themed music, as collected by their two dads. Free to explore a strange new environment they set off into the desolated landscape, behind the wheel of an American open topped classic car. They’re hungry for a good time and girls, as well as an answer to why their two custodians left them alone to survive, and if indeed the two men are in fact their fathers at all !?. Its gumshoes to the floor futuristic fun and holocaust hi-jinks, as Philip and Marlowe are free from ‘The Big Sleep’ exiled from the real world, and primed to detect a new life for themselves. For their dads then, ‘the world that they hated … was the world they wanted’.
Back in 1996 during the nuclear war every nuclear missile was launched, except for one !. In order to fire that missile requires two special keys. Whoever now possesses the two keys would control the most powerful weapon in the world. Ruler above all others in this now radioactive wasteland. Unfortunately for the survivors of this laid to waste landscape the keys are in the possession of a couple of Dicks. And they don’t even know that they have them !. As soon as Phil and Marlowe put rubber to the rubble they are beset by Mad Max (1979) extras, marauding the wastelands for anything and anyone that comes into their cross hairs. The two nuke newbies rescue a feisty maiden in distress. Miles Archer (Lisa Blount), fending off mutants and leading the way for the future of feminist freedom fighters, deftly deploying a fist to Marlowe’s chin. They strive to rescue Miles, but who is going to save them from her !?. She takes advantage of a distraction and slips away, but their paths are destined to cross again in the very near future. The boys have double trouble to contend with as motorcycle riding crazies, sporting florescent pink fright wigs to cover their follicle free scalps, bring mass mayhem. These beyond thunder dome heads don’t need another hero to contend with, so ensues an Action packed chase, backed by a pumping Eighties music soundtrack. As if slap heads and psycho sisters aren’t enough to contend with, on their first day trip out since kindergarten, Philip and Marlowe are held up by The Disco Mutants !. Two pint sized wannabe Tony ‘Scarface’ Montana, white suited, foul mouthed, hand gun bearing punks, who are boy handling another seemingly maiden in distress, Rusty Mars.
Marlowe and Phil catch the knee high nukes unawares and team up with Rusty, who shows them the way to Edge City. She warns them that they need to be within the city confines before dark, as after night fall the myriad of mutants come out to feast !. Learning a little about each other Rusty divulges that she knows of the boys fathers, and that both Hammer and Chandler are still alive !. Phil and Marlowe, more than ever, wish to seek them out and Edge City may just have the answers they are looking for. Playing out like a futuristic metaphorical version of Abbott and Costello meet the mutant warriors of the wasteland, Radioactive Dreams works its cheaply made charm a treat. Stockwell and Dudikoff are perfectly cast in the leads, and the supporting players join in on the fun act, clearly enjoying themselves along the way. Director Albert Pyun chimes in on the Post Apocalyptic movie with an obvious love for the genre, ladling post nuke nuances galore atop his own playful popcorn flick. All involved are evidently buoyed by the brilliant banality of this neat little idiosyncratic, Action packed, Comedy crammed, Sci-Fi slamboree. Ahead of its time, and a precocious piece of mid Eighties weirdness, that has lost none of its charm or infectiousness with age. This is indeed now a Cult movie that deserves its pantheon upon the shiny media of DVD. Made available to all, both familiar and seeking the pure escapism of this fantastical flick for the first time, properly rendered in its full unadulterated form and rightfully scoped format.
With our detective duo seeking out their wayfaring custodial parents, Rusty naively leads them into a set up that has Phil fighting off the advances of a flesh craving cannibal cult, hungry for him and the keys that he unwittingly holds about his person. It’s time for the hardy boys to drop Nancy Drew, throw the cannibals a bone to pick and get out of dodge. Easier said than done when all of the city gangs are honing in on the opportunity to lay claim to the nuclear devices ignition, along with the bordering regions bounty hunters too. Time for some Mack Sennett like chase sequences, including one great moment of sheer out of nowhere brilliance. A Godzilla like mutant creature rises up out of a sewer, to within nose distance of Marlowe’s startled face, in a viewing whoop and holler moment of tape rewind necessity. This is sheer ‘B’ movie brilliance. Less of a Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller - C.H.U.D (1984) and more of a Rodent Agitated Terminator - R.A.T (Soon to be in development). One great big dirty rat that even a machine gun blazing James Cagney would have to high tail it from. Anyone familiar with another cult classic, Hell Comes To Frog Town (1988) will find this just as infectiously ‘ribbeting’.

Wizened up and readied for the fray come the final quarter of the movie, both Phil and Marlowe take a stand. Kitted out in sharp suits, and sporting side arms, the two cut a pose torn from the front dust jacket of a retro detective novel. They’re prepped and primed for Action. Here’s looking at you kids !.
Phil’s wanton moll Rusty, having seen the error of her ways, pleads with them, ‘‘They’ll kill you Phil !’’ to which Phil retorts, ‘‘Yea, I’d like to see them try !’’. Classic delivery.
It’s showdown at the dilapidated labouring warehouse, where the only thing that works now are the gangs and dealers. Its out with the old and in with the new as Phil and Marlowe learn the truth behind the past with their pa’s. Miles Archer spits her voluptuous venom, and the boys get to say hello to their little friends the Disco Mutants, as the diddy duo join the party, all seeking to have control of the nuclear missile keys. A brilliant all Action climax to end proceedings on a high note, leaving just enough time to tie up loose ends, and Phil to finish his talk over monologue that pops up occasionally throughout the movie. He’s a decent guy, and even though his gal done him wrong you just know that Phil will get to nail Rusty !.

Before your smile of viewing satisfaction can even think of resting, after nigh on ninety minutes of blissful diversity, you get to click your heels like Dorothy and toe tap to the end credits. Marlowe shows Phil his dance moves, and together the two of them do the post nuke shuffle in a feel good factor song and dance routine to close the curtain on this Cult classic. The boys are back together, and even in this nuclear wasteland they’ll never fallout !.


Movie Rating: 7/10
Review Paul Cooke / Source UK PAL VHS
Radioactive Dreams (1985)
Director Albert Pyun
With John Stockwell, Michael Dudikoff, Lisa Blount,
George Kennedy, Don Murray & Michelle Little

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Albert Pyun's Ravenhawk

This Years Hot Ticket
The Return Of PYUN Man
Cyber Cinema and Action Movies are back with a 'B' Movie Bang, and one man synonymous with the explosive theatrical theory is non other than Albert Pyun. He is back in the film making groove and the delights of his wares may be found at his very own web site:
www.albertpyunmovies.com/ In tandem with his eagerly awaited, and soon to be released
Tales Of An Ancient Empire comes a Fan appreciation Blog of all things Pyun.
Be sure to lock 'n load your search browser for the detonator of explosive entertainment David Zuzelo over at the aptly named Pyuniverse. The Pyuniversal Studios are now well and truly open, and there is a whole heap of great articles, reviews and pictures aplenty awaiting your viewing pleasure. Check it out over at The Pyuniverse - The Weird Worlds Of Albert Pyun: http://pyuniverse.blogspot.com/
Step Into The Future With The Pyuniverse & Become A Fellow Pyunite Today

Ravenhawk
(1996/USA)

‘‘I’d rather fight and die with dignity than live like you’’

Tough core old school Action with a female lead pumped to the max in the super honed form of two time Ms. Olympia Rachel McLish. Director Albert Pyun muscles in on the Rambo payback trail with his own inimitable flair for adding something extra to a genre. Here he brings the magnificent Miss. McLish, an attractive countenance with an athletic form that can stand toe to toe with any man, and pretty much leave most face down reeling in the dust beneath her feet !. For centuries her Native American people and culture has been victimised by the white man. Even now Rhiya Shadow Feather’s family and people are subjected to prejudice and injustice as they are illegally cheated of their land. Rhiya Shadow Feather (Rachel McLish) is pushed way beyond the boundary of human tolerance by the low life vicious puppets of an avarice driven businessman. A corrupt senator, in cahoots with an equally avaricious corporate magnate named Philip Thorne, uses his status to quash the human rights of a Native American tribal council to steal their peoples land for the purpose of a nuclear waste development. The local sheriff’s department are paid off and some of Thorne’s men are sent in to intimidate Chief Shadow Feather to sign over his peoples land. Headed up by Thorne’s right hand man Carl Rikker (Mitch Pileggi), a cold hearted and malicious individual, things immediately go beyond intimidation. Both Chief Shadow Feather and his wife are pushed around and beaten in front of their young daughter Rhiya. When Rhiya displays a spirit of great fortitude in one so young, her strength of character is turned against her and her parents, as the malignant Rikker turns a blade she has picked up in defence into a weapon of attack. Rikker forcibly grabs the petrified young Rhiya’s knife wielding hand, and thrusts it with the blade into the sternum of her father. He then with further intent forces the child’s hand with bloodied blade up into the stomach of her weeping mother. Both parents are killed at the forced hand of their distraught daughter.
With the perjured testimonies of the sheriff’s department and the overseeing might of the senate the court hand over the land to the Thorne Corporation and condemn the child Rhiya Shadow Feather for the murder of her parents. The statements given tell of an Indian ritual ending with the killing of Chief Shadow Feather and his wife at the hands of their mentally disturbed daughter. Rhiya is given a life sentence and immediately sent to the Colorado state institute for women due to her evaluation of unstable mental health.
Twelve years pass and the Thorne Corporation has been hard at work, taking the resources of the rightfully Native American land and usurping it for his own insatiable end. The institutionalised Rhiya Shadow Feather has also been working hard, upon her own body and spirit. Her mind focused on the traumatic events that condemned her to a life of incarceration, and her body pushed to the limits of physical exertion with a daily routine of strength and fitness development. A parole hearing affords her a transfer from the mental health institute to the Colorado state penitentiary for women. Transit by road proves to be an opportunity for her to right the wrongs of over a decade gone by. The prison driver encounters an unanticipated problem at speed and the vehicle careens off the route way, crashing down a rocky climb to eventually explode in a plume of uncontrolled fire. The now adult Rhiya Shadow Feather manages to scramble clear of the wreck before the explosion. With breaking news of the accident hitting the television broadcast news, and headlines of the daily newspapers of the incident, to all the world Rhiya Shadow Feather and the driver are both dead at the scene. Upon hearing the news Philip Thorne and his lackey Carl Rikker celebrate Rhiya’s demise. For them, however, their state of elevation is soon to come crashing down as the wrath of a woman wronged will be realised !.
During her time away Rhiya’s sleeze bag oppressors have all been set up with the perks and trappings of a privileged lifestyle. With the benefit of anonymity attained by her announced death, and the advancement from childhood into womanhood, Rhiya has the advantage of stealth to seek out these miscreants and exact her vengeance upon them. A less extreme variation of the infamous Day Of The Woman (1978) follows, with the erudite paroxysm of Fabrizio De Angelis’ (aka Larry Ludman) Thunder (1983) and its sequels.
Rhiya is the embodiment of her tribal spirit the Raven Hawk. Its incumbent stature displayed with pride and honour in the form of a tattoo etched upon her body, symbolising its meaning and transience between this world and the next. Her body, mind and soul now as one with the Raven Hawk, Rhiya strikes back !. The first visitation with her new found freedom is to the paupers grave site where her parents are laid to rest. Rhiya then reclaims her only surviving heritage as she reunites with her feisty family horse Dakota, taking it back from a cruel treating farm owner with a swift blow of retribution. Beauty and the beast together again they ride like the wind to her family and tribes reservation, before it was taken from them, to gaze first hand over the industrial eyesore of the Thorne Corporation. She then sets about calling upon those that were involved in the act that led to her parents untimely deaths, to deliver upon them her own brand of final justice.
Her first port of call is to a seedy hired hand of Thorne’s who is set up with his own sea diving and boat hiring business. Rhiya signs up for a one to one diving trip that goes down well with the sleaze bag, right up until being out at sea and then his realisation of who his client actually is. He next turns up in the community coroners, dead upon his cold slab, minus his scalp sliced from his skull by the serrated blade of a knife !. His demise is quickly followed by that of a fellow despicable cohort at the hands of Rhiya, as she sends him spiralling down to his death from the great height of a connecting bridge betwixt a ravine far below. Her calling card, despite her reported death, resonates Thorne’s attention and to deal with the situation he immediately hires a three man hit team. The sequence of events that unfolds involving them tracking her, and being tracked themselves, is worthy of a short film within the feature all itself.
It’s solid Action all the way as Rhiya is chased across the rocky desert terrain, calling upon all her self training to pull her through and subjugate the three professional hit men. All have individual skills including tracking, trap setting, and weaponry, along with a collective pen chance for completing their contracts successfully. Rhiya Shadow Feather is, however, a breed apart and her compulsion to see her journey through is ultimately greater !. A frantic fight for survival plays out across a multiple of terrains, where all wheel drive vehicles and motorcycle square up against one horse power riding Native American warrior woman, saddled up as a signature for the stuff of Native American Indian legend !.
Rachel McLish is one very fit and agile lady, likely employing all her own natural ability to undertake not only the lead role but doing most, if not all, of her own stunt work and fighting scenes in the movie. A real find, and another well sculptured, chiselled featured Adonis that Albert Pyun uncovers for his films. She gives great credence to her star role, and every moment of on screen hard edged slice of endurance and embroiled physicality is served up believably for all to see and enjoy. She is bullied and beaten but never broken, as her unyielding spirit sees her through to the inevitable collision with her nemesis, Philip Thorne (William Atherton). Raven Hawk is high yielding, quality Action, old school Al Dante style. Director Albert Pyun delivers the goods with consummate skill, like a spaghetti western wearing Dirty Harry shoes, and an Eighties styled Italian poncho.
The lavish expanse of the Colorado vista is lovingly realised with sweeping panoramic cameras, sadly not done justice to when viewing in a non letterboxed viewing format. This, along with Albert Pyun’s entire back catalogue is crying out to be reissued in its full and proper scope format, for a generation of both old and new fans of the ‘Pyuneering’ director to embrace and enjoy !.

Movie Rating: 6/10


Review Paul Cooke / Source US NTSC VHS

Ravenhawk (1996)

Director Albert Pyun
With Rachel McLish, John Enos III, Ed Lauter,
Mitch Pileggi & William Atherton

They brought the fight, but this time it’s Squaw !

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Foree's A Jolly Good Zombie Slayer

Apocalypse Of The Dead
aka Zone Of The Dead
(2009/Serbia/Italy/Spain)

‘‘Hell is going to overflow, and the dead will rise forever’’

Asphyxiated Eastern Europeans are transformed into Serbian Zombies when a bio hazardous green gas escapes containment, whilst being transported by rail. It’s a train wreck in more ways than one as the unprotected locals mutate into flesh eating fiends, in this cheap ticket to terror. If you are prepared for economy class horror then Apocalypse Of The Dead should see you through till the end of its well intentioned jaunty journey.

Zombie ass kicking legend Ken Foree, Dawn Of The Dead (1978), is ex CIA agent Mortimer Reyes, now with Interpol and based in Serbia. It’s the eve of his retirement but he has one last case to undertake before closure on a distinguished career. Along with long time friend and professional colleague, Inspector Dragan Belic, he is the experienced local back up for rookie Interpol agent Mina Milius (Kristina Klebe). Assigned with a couple of other agents she is designated to transport a known criminal across Serbia to Belgrade. A straight forwarded enough first mission for a promoted field agent. That is until they enter the Zone Of The Dead !.

The scenario is set then for a Serbian Zombie smack down that unashamedly borrows all the classic un-dead themes, and throws them into the monster mix, to serve up a concoction that plays out like a cross between The Return Of The Living Dead (1985) and Assault On Precinct 13 (1976). This actually works very much in the movies favour, as what is clearly lacking in budget and acting ability is effusively made up for in pandering to its intended audience. Casual viewers and non genre fans need not fret themselves if this eludes them, but Zombie lovers, more likely than not, will find more to enjoy in this quirky outing than the majority.

When the toxic transient clears from the crisp night air it has infiltrated, its effect upon those that have inhaled it are all too apparent. Man, woman and child alike, asphyxiated in death are resurrected as the living dead. They hunger, for blood !. Anyone unaffected by the breached green gas soon fall foul of the rampaging mutants. One man, freed from the incarceration of the asylum following a breach of security during the fateful fallout, believes that this is The End Of Days. He sees the evil lurking all around and envelopes the signs as a prophetic reality rendering of The Book Of Revelations. Upon himself he takes it to embrace this malicious malady of mankind, and designate himself a soldier of God. Step forth then this scripture quoting religious zealot against Zombiedom. With a war wagon stacked with weapons aplenty he is readied for the freeway to Armageddon !.

Hitting a similar road with different intent are Agent Mina Milius, Inspector Dragan Belic, a handful of agents, and of course Ken Foree as Mortimer Reyes, together with their custodial criminal to be delivered as instructed to Belgrade. Their journey of course soon hits a cross roads where the only sign of life is them !.
Operation Black Smoke is the insidious banner behind the dead coming back to life. A decades before discovered ancient burial ground, where plague victims were uncovered in a state of still living cell maturation, was saturated in chemicals which reacted with dead matter bringing life once again where there was none. The government kept the incident a secret and let their scientists lose on the phenomenon, and like Doctor Frankenstein their experiments began to create something they could breathe new life into. Some twenty years or so later lightening strikes, and It’s Alive, It’s Alive !.

Time for the traditional cry of ‘‘Aim for the head’’ as the freaks are on the streets, and limbs hang from sinewy severed threads. It’s bloody barbecue time Serbian style, where suddenly Ken Foree is subconsciously transported back to Dawn Of The Dead (1978), and even gets to metaphorically throw out some inside one liners that true Zombie fan boys will revel in. When it is suggested that the handful of survivors hold up in a mall Ken’s character Mortimer Reyes raises an eyebrow and tells all to trust him that it wont be safe to do that !.



With the Zombie contingent far outnumbering the living, and Reyes and Milius witnessing their friends and colleagues falling victim to the flesh eaters, they have no choice but to unshackle their custodian and take arms alongside the criminal to fight their way through the hordes of hell. To their surprising aid comes the crazy Zombie slaying zealot, bible bashing with a bazooka and a line to the lord that strikes down all that stand before him. Together the small group of the still living cut a swathe through the sea of the dead in a battle to survive. Sword slaying, head severing, limb lopping, bullet blazing bad ass-ness follows in a fulfilling final reel that puts a lot of modern horrors to shame. Not one iota of moment spoiling CGI fills the screen, much to the credit of all involved in this gleefully gruel glut fest. Sure its low budget but it still does the good stuff old school style, and that shows big time, scoring bonus points for its intended audience.

Throw in a couple of genuinely neat and originally quirky little ideas to the Zombie genre, such as a scene where Reyes has to walk through a segment of bizarrely dormant Zombies, all laid out on their backs as if resting !?, and it is evident that the makers of the movie weren’t out simply to just cash in on the over saturated maturation of Zombie flicks.
Leave all expectations behind, slip the brain into neutral and enjoy this zany Zombie take as it is intended. The stilted delivery of dialogue is reminiscent of those English dubbed Italian schlock flicks from the Eighties, but funnier. It’s kinda like tuning into a late night obscure cable channel and picking up a foreign movie that is totally unintelligible, yet at the same time transfixes you with its visual vibrancy and enticing entertainment value.
Apocalypse Of The Dead sure wont win any Oscar but it may just win your horror lovin’ heart, that is unless one of its Serbian Zombies doesn’t tear it from your chortling carcass first !.

Movie Rating: 5/10

Review Paul Cooke / Source Region 2 PAL UK DVD

Apocalypse Of The Dead (2009)
Director Milan Konjevic & Milan Todorovic
With Ken Foree, Kristina Klebe,
Emilio Roso & Miodrag Krstovic

Saturday, 6 March 2010

A Dark MacLeod Awaits Adrian Paul



Nine Miles Down
(2009/UK/USA/Hungary/Australia)


Death and delirium at a desert outpost research centre calls for company security, in the guise of Highlander’s Adrian Paul, as Thomas ‘Jack’ Jackman, to investigate. There can be only one it seems, as his lone trek to the facility is accompanied by a severe wind storm that closes him off to any assistance. It is apparent upon Jack’s arrival that all is not well as the complex is deserted, and etched in blood upon a corridor wall is the phrase ‘Save Yourselves’. From here on in there is something more insidious than just sand for Jack to contend with !.

A research team investigating a geological anomaly deep within the earths crust, of the central Sahara Desert in Northern Africa, discover new and independently formed life forms when they drill Nine Miles Down. In the days that follow all twenty five of them vanish !. Jack secures the facility as night closes in, and with it comes a terrible storm. Finding the sleeping quarters he rests up out of the sand storm that rages outside. His sleep pattern is interrupted by nightmares and seemingly waking visions of bloody terror. Haunted by the death by suicide of his wife, who in turn also took the lives of their two children in her lowest moment, self tortured in the belief that her husband was having an affair, Jack is increasingly finds himself susceptible to an unseen presence.
The following day, seemingly just out of the blue, a pretty young woman jogs into the encampment and nonchalantly introduces herself to Jack as Doctor Jenny Christianson. She is pleased he has arrived with transportation, and is immediately keen to leave. Jack is more concerned in seeking answers !. Reporting into base camp Jack is informed that the occupants of the research centre were an all male crew !. He is told to stay in case of any other signs of life from the team. What follows is around a twenty four hour period of discovery, paranoia and violent visions as the desert complex unveils its pernicious credentials.
This is a top quality ‘B’ movie with true ideals of a multiplex success screen filler that would do well by word of mouth. As it is with a straight to home view marketing it is well worth seeking out. The remote desert setting is reminiscent to that of the isolated one in John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), unsurprising then that when the project was originally set to role back in 1995 John Carpenter was due to be in the directors chair. He, however, went on instead to make Escape From L.A (1996), and the movie hit the back burner until now. Anthony Waller does a very sound job at the helm, but you can’t help but wonder where the movie may just have gone had John Carpenter fulfilled the producers vision !?.
The atmospheric eeriness permeates proceedings throughout, along with a subtle and highly effective use of sound, combining sublimely with some very neat uses of acute camera angles. Sweeping shots from high and low keep the viewer on look over your shoulder alert, anxiously anticipating as the nightmarish nuances unravel.

This is a tightly woven chiller, thriller with overtones of Dante’s Inferno. What you believe is real may become so if you perceive it to actually be !.

Good to see Adrian Paul back in a tangible role that he takes full advantage of to show that he is a highly competent actor. Kate Nauta as the mysterious Doctor Jennie Christianson is sexy and smart in equal portion, as are her own delectable proportions. Several scenes of violent acts punctuate the foreboding atmosphere, delivered purposefully and never relied upon to add cheep scare tactics. The movie never relies upon, nor requires such over used horror clich├ęs, Nine Miles Down is a refreshing outing that keeps you watching with baited anticipation from start to finish.


Movie Rating: 7/10
Review Paul Cooke / Source Region 1 NTSC DVD
Nine Miles Down (2009)
Director Anthony Waller
With Adrian Paul, Kate Nauta, Meredith Ostrom,
Amanda Douge, Anthony Waller & Arcadiy Golubovich
 

‘‘I’ve seen what can happen when people abandon reason’’