Wednesday, 23 October 2013


What with it being October and not a whole lot to represent the Halloween holidays at the picture house this season, why not stop in for a bit of a fright with the Frugal Film Forum recommendation, Lifeforce?

This flick can be summed up in two words:- SPACE VAMPIRES.

But why stop there?

Based on one of them reading books - itself monikered 'The Space Vampires - Lifeforce conveys to us the lesson every single human born of this Earth needs to learn.  Should you ever find an implausibly big spaceship hidden in the corona of Halley's comet that contains hundreds of Manbat-esque corpses then leave it well alone.

In such a craft - which incidentally seems to have been based on something that was coughed up by a particularly ill miner - and amongst such desiccated creatures a crew of astronauts find three (one female and two male) human looking types in suspended animation.  Protocol probably suggests the explorers should take a few pics and bugger off but since one of the bodies in question is that of a barely-out-of-her-teens Mathilda May, the space blokes decide to cart their nude haul back to old Blighty in order to...erm...research them and that.


They also bring the blokes along so as to avoid any awkward questions...probably.

PS: One of the space vampire geezers is really Mick Jaggers' brother.  That's not a plot point but I think it should have been...

Over in Yankland, an escape capsule turns up and when cracked open, turns out to contain Colonel Tom.  He was one of the fellas what found the space crumpet but now reveals his intention was to blow her up in space afore she came back to Earth to suck the life out of all the men here.  If this had happened then the likes of Stan Boardman may have encountered a career revival and nobody wants that.
"I still can't fit into Topman jeans."

Anyway, everyone in the tiny village of Londinium gets turned into a kind of vampire/zombie/Joan Rivers creature.  Space vampire girl then tries to get Colonel Tom to snog Patrick Stewart or something.  This film was released in 1985 yet Patrick Stewart looks EXACTLY the same as he does now.

At this point of the movie, the various male characters finally decide they need to put something in the naked space vampire chick so head to St. Paul's Cathedral.  Here the demure young lady/monstrous space-bat-life-sucker has a quickie with Colonel Tom who now reveals that the whole bloody mess was his fault 'cause he was after a space shag on the way back to Earth.  Thanks Tom.

Things get a bit stabby and Colonel Tom ends up back in space with nude chick leaving everyone in the world to ponder 'what was all that about then?'

One day some sort of census will probably be made public that reveals Lifeforce to be the cause of most VHS machine breakages during that formats' run.  Any remaining tapes of this film are probably frayed beyond all recognition.  Lucky for us all then that this 'gem' has now found a home on Blu-Ray - just in time for that formats' need to exists to come into question once again.

So, if you're looking a film with the occasional flash of front bottom that also needs to be about sort-of-vampires from space and somehow haven't already found Lifeforce then A: What have you already been watching and B) Get on-board the Churchill and ready that trigger finger over your pause button.

Oh, go on then.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Robot Jox

Robots:- They come in all shapes and sizes and some even swap between those!

If you were to look for a big blockbuster to watch this week you might well come across Pacific Rim.  Directed by Guillermo del Toro the movie charts the progress of a group of 'Jaeger' pilots as they battle to stop some right big monsters in the destructive tracks as they set about making every city on Earth look like Rochdale.

Of course you might not want to go to the local theatre, preferring to stay in and reduce your chances of being turned into a mancake by a Godzilla.  Should this be the case then why not stay in and watch the Frugal Film Forum's alternative, Robot Jox?

Well I'll tell you why...

During an opening sequence, with a panning shot across a painfully obvious miniature set that looks like a Terminator Salvation Christmas Special, we are informed that the events we are about to eyeball are set fifty years after a nuclear conflict that nearly wiped out the human race.

As the funky, futuristic title credits disperse, we learn that a clearly bad mister called Alexander has just defeated a Buzz Lightyear cosplayer who sports the worst  black eye make-up in the history of cinema.  To make sure we know he is a wrong 'un, Alexander kills , Buzz even though he doesn't have to by stomping on his not metal head with the apparently metal foot of his mean looking robot.

On a side note, I'm not entirely sure these vehicles count as robots at all.  They require a pilot and don't seem to have any independent thoughts or autonomy so...erm...are they not just tanks with legs...?

Anyroad, we are at this point aware that instead of A-bombing each other, the remaining nations have decided to be more civilised by fighting over territory in organised bouts of Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots - a bit like what would have happened had Robot wars carried on, except that the robots in question probably would have still looked like bread bins with epilepsy and instead of land, the pilots would have been fighting for the right to stand nervously near Philippa Forrester and 'checking for change in his pocket.  There's a bit of talk about espionage then it's on with the show.

During a fight training scene we meet Achilles and find out that he's dead good at fighting a bunch of other students who attack him with all the enthusiasm and interest of a Labrador at a stairlift convention.  Then an old cleaning lady asks Achilles and his tubby cowboy friend to do a wank.

After some waffle about a secret weapon (it's a GREEN laser) Achilles embarks on a lengthy robot boarding process that sees about six dozen different people advising him to 'crash and burn'; the troubled future equivalent of 'break a leg', it would seem.

Achilles makes his occasionally stop-motion-animated way onto the battlefield for possibly the least kinetic dust-up in battlin' bot cinema.  As a result of this ruck some people die, including a little moppet with a teddy.  This causes a rematch being announced but Achilles turns down the challenge.

Then he has an argument in which it is revealed that Achilles can't read.  Remember that kids.

One barroom encounter with Alexander later, Achilles wakes up in his room with a severe haircut that is attached to a female trainee pilot.  She calls him a big big poo before Achilles talks to his friend in a cowboy hat who apparently hangs around in the shower room when he's not spouting Texan flavoured advice.  In fairness, like all locker rooms of the future, this one is unisex:- just watch any Paul Verhoeven film.

" know...bums..."

Anyways, high-hair girl is set the task of fighting Alexander next.  This prompts Achilles to come out of his eight minutes of retirement and take her place.

Oh, and remember mere minutes ago when Achilles chided one of his superiors for thinking he's a mug for not being able to read?  Cue our protagonist entering the scene reading a weapons list.

Meanwhile, cowboy hat man is busy killing a scientist who knows he's a 'Confed' spy.

In a bid to take Achilles' place in the upcoming battle with Alexander, high-hair shoots our 'hero' with the medical worlds' least effective tranquilliser before just knocking him out with knee to the mush anyway.  Do watch out for High-Hair's spinning kick in the ruck, which is so good it causes her to turn into what is quite clearly a man.

Upon waking up almost immediately from being drugged and laid out, Achilles uses his remote controlled car (?) to escape his own flat.

After Achilles gets to the robot command centre, his best mate - cowboy hat man - is revealed to be the turncoat.  Video evidence is required for this even though my cat knew about this 'plot twist'; and she hasn't seen Robot Jox.

Having surreptitiously nicked Achilles' mech, High-Hair takes a proverbial pounding from Alexander.  Achilles drives his magic car out to the battlefield and flies into space for some reason.  After a pointless cruise through the outer atmosphere, the pair return to Earth where Alexander mouth-fucks the nice white robot with his war machine's dick-saw.  Some jiggery-pokery in the bad robots' guts, *SPOILER ALERT* Achilles beats the thinly veiled red menace in a pub style fight before they makes friends and cut to the credits as quickly as the director wanted to just go home and forget about it all.

"Yay!  It's over"

Several questions arise from the movie that does exist. Robot Jox:-

 - Did the Confeds only have one pilot?

 - Speaking of Confeds, what are the goodies called?

 - Why did Achilles train in martial arts when the robots had all the grace and agility of a milk-float up on bricks?

 - Why were green lasers better than not green lasers?

 - Who is this film aimed at?

 - How can I justify spending 85 minutes of precious life watching Robot Jox when I could have been doing something less reproachable, like strangling cats.

"You can ride my tail anytime."

I imagine someone during the making of this steely sci-fi slug fest thought they were making the new Star Wars.  To help give you that same delusory perception might I suggest a Robot Jox drinking game?  Take a slug every time...

 - You see Achilles' scars move from scene to scene.

 - Someone says, 'crash and burn.'

 - There's a scene in Robot Jox's universes' only bar.

 - You start to feel your self getting sober.

Crach and Burn.

Friday, 5 July 2013


Duuur-dur-dur-dur-duuur, duur-dur-dur...

That's right you!  Superman is back but of course in our super-post, post, post modern, ironic, meta, self-aware times he's not allowed to be in a film that's not embarrassed to have its contents on the tin as it were so old Supes gets the blockbuster does avante-garde title Man of Steel:- A film in which Clarke Kent forgoes red knickers and uses his powers to torment truck drivers and take part in a battle more destructive and horrifying than a hundred 911's.

So, as per The Frugal Film Forums' agenda, let's have a look at MOS alternative, Steel.

They say most things work in cycles and whilst our current crop of comic-to-film movies goes from strength to strength, things weren't going so well for the capes back in the eighties and nineties.

After the decline of the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, DC decided to give his moody mate Batman a crack at the cinematic whip.  A stonking success, Batman should have been the X-Men of its day, paving the way for more than just its own sequels.  Instead the ball was fumbled and dispite the odd rays of hope offered by the likes of The Crow and erm...we watched adaptions such as The Phantom and The Shadow entertain but ultimately underwhelm.

Steel, starring a basketball playing man called Shaquille O'Neal opened in approximately fourteen cinemas worldwide, leaving me to assume that every attendee got a room to themselves.  Based on a character spawned in the wake of Superman's now infamous death, the history and character of John Henry Irons gets completely retconned even though he only debuted in comics four years prior to the films release.

'Shaq' plays our protagonist as a...wait for it...a high-tech weapons designer.  I'll let that sit with you for a moment.

"What you looking at mate?"
When one of Irons' weapons actually hurts someone the genius inventor realises guns are bad and decided to stop churning them out for his clearly despicable employer Burke, as played by the formerly cool Judd Nelson.

A bit later, presumably whilst collecting his dole money, Irons' witnesses a robbery carried out by a gang using guns what he did make.

Angered (I think.  It's hard to tell with Shaquille's range) by the fact that his designs are being used to threaten people in his 'hood rather than out of his field of vision, Irons decides to clam the situation by tooling up himself and building more firearms and shit so that he can blow shit up but, this being a family-friendly film, in a weirdly harmless way.

Crippled in the aforementioned accident, Irons' friend Susan 'Sparky' Sparks (for fucks' sake) goes to John Henry's wheelchair accessible hideout (take that Supes and Bats) to help out with the scheme know.

The pair are - for some reason - assisted by an old man called Uncle Joe, as played by the formerly cool Richard Roundtree.  His contribution to proceedings seems to involve uttering things an annoying audience member might say/reassuring old sage words.

Irons' plan largely involves him milling about in a suit so far removed from its inspiration he may as well have been dressed in a bad fancy dress Scooby-Doo outfit and looking for evening television friendly crimes that don't involve swearing, killing, raping or anything beyond borderline high-jinks.

One of the super-smart inventors weapons is a hammer that is a gun if you hold it the other way around.  You know.  Like you did.  When you were a kid.

Anyway, this large, softly spoken man who is a known weapons and specialised armour designer disguises himself with a helmet that makes him look a bit cross-eyed but is still eminently useful.  Nobody at all mistakes this large, softly spoken man who is a known weapons and specialised armour designer for the large, softly spoken man who is a known weapons and armour designer carrying weapons and specialised armour.

Well anyway, Burke plans to make a few quid selling Irons' guns and shit to various villainous stereotypes from around the world.  To be honest, it's never really explained why a gun that Burke uses to shoot one of his own colleagues at the auction he holds is any better than one of the guns that can be quite happily bought with a six-pack and a pack of doughnuts at the corner shops.

Steel of course interrupts the auction, only to be stopped in his clunky tracks by (sigh) the 'revelation' that his nemesis has Sparky held hostage.  Stripped of his revolutionary arsenal (the aformentioned big 'ammer), Steel is threatened with use as a test dummy for his own weapon; that is until the previously sharp (for this movie) and wary Burke falls for the same level of trickery that has your dog running for a stick you never threw.

With her super friend back on his feet, the recently kidnapped Sparky reveals that she had wheelchair lasers all along, leaving the bad guys and viewers reeling with bafflement confusion.  Then, in a scene that already doesn't look after itself any more, Sparky also reveals that her chair can get her off the set as quickly so the the 'action' can continue.

In a shoot-out that makes those in the A-Team series look footage taken from a Ugandan gunship massacre, we see just how rubbish JHI's weapons are and Irons save the day with, of all things, a basketball throw?!  Who said meta was a recent thing?

After a bunch of explosions in which nobody is killed, Burke dies for the sake of closure because he is loosing IQ points with every passing minute of the film.

During a pointless conversation with the army chief that has apparently been chasing Steel, Irons declares his job done with a promise that he won't be seen around.  Even the most cheap and tawdry horror flicks tend to sign off with some allusion that someone involved might want a sequel but it seems that even before its release, no one wanted to ride this pony again.

"Shit.  I thought you said Shazam"

Steel ends with a scene containing more knowing glances than are swapped in George Michael's local public toilets in a week and is so sugary I almost lost a foot to diabetes.

There have been other stories of men running round outside the law, belting people with hammers:- from Thor to Peter Sutcliffe, but if you prefer your action Saturday afternoon flavoured and for a STEAL (pun very much intended, alright?), you can might give Steel a go.