Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time, and seven more movies

I've always liked the character of Pavel Chekov on Star Trek, and Walter Koenig, the actor who played him.

Koenig startled me last week, by popping into my watchlist in Diminuendo. That movie was a disappointment, but I'd never seen Koenig play anyone but Chekov, and there he was, playing a different role and doing it well. It's led me to seek out some of his other non-Trek work, so today will be Walter Koenig Day on the blog.

It's mostly science fiction, because typecasting is a bitch.

• Blue Dream (2013)
• Bone Eater (2007)
• InAlienable (2008)
• Moontrap (1988)
• Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time (2017)
• Nobility (2017)
• Scream of the Bikini (2009)
• Star Trek: Renegades (2015)

The Neverending
Film Festival


Of these, Moontrap and Neil Stryker are the only ones I can recommend.

Sorry about that, Walt.

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Blue Dream (2013)

James Duval plays a hot-shot homicide reporter who's also the movie critic at the same newspaper. He's palling around with an intern at the paper, who's also the author of some astounding crime-tracking software. He's boinking his boss, and she routinely punches him in the face and threatens his job.

Duval has sex with several different women, in scenes which are never at all sexy, yet he's surprised to get this diagnosis: "You tested positive for gonorrhea, hepatitis C, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes simplex 2, and you have a staph infection." 

Then again, he's surprised at everything. Duval wears his shocked face when he's talking to his boss, when he wakes up in yet another woman's bed, when he doesn't understand the software's color-coding system, and when he gets sorta faux-strangled at a movie screening.

I'm not sure whether Blue Dream is completely incoherent due to general incompetence, or whether it's supposed to slip and slide in and out of reality. Either way, it was ungrokkable to me.

Koenig gets sixth billing, and plays the new owner of the newspaper. He doesn't have much to do, and does it just fine.

Verdict: BIG NO.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Bone Eater (2007)

A construction crew goes digging at an ancient Indian burial ground, which causes skeletons to rise again and begin vaporizing people. I'm grumpy if you wake me up, too.

The skeleton looks like any other CGI movie skeleton, but rides a cool-looking ghost horse. That's about all I can say in this movie's favor.

As in so many movies since Poltergeist, the message is that you shouldn't mess with ancient burial grounds. There are lots of natives in this, all of whom look white to me, and a crucial plot point involves the very blonde Bruce Boxleitner embracing his unnamed tribal heritage.

When the local millionaire tries throwing his influence around, he's met with indignant refusals from the sheriff, and the county commissioner. That's even more unlikely than a skeleton rising from the dead.

Koenig gets seventh billing. He plays the county coroner, and he's the only character who's both interesting and plausible.

Verdict: NO.

♦ ♦ ♦

InAlienable (2008)

Richard Hatch gets an unknown infection, possibly alien in origin, and it turns out that he somehow impregnated himself when he boinked a pretty blonde half his age.

Honestly, I don't understand it either, and I watched the movie.

"This thing is not just a hole in your tissue, OK? It dilates with tactile stimulation." 

When the baby is born, it's only part-human, has six spindly penis-like extrusions, and smells like strawberries. Other than that, though, it's only a little uglier than an ordinary human baby.

The feds seize the newborn whatever-it-is, of course, and the movie builds toward a long court case wherein Hatch's lawyer argues that the six-extrusion thing is human, and the government — personified by attorney Marina Sertis — argues that it's not.

The movie's point is that even space aliens must have the same equal and inalienable rights as anyone else, but it doesn't make the point well. Actually, it kinda doesn't make its point at all.

With a better script and/or serious editing, InAlienable might've worked, but as is, I was laughing where I was supposed to cry.

Koenig co-produced this very earnest film, and gives himself seventh billing. It's the first time I've seen him play someone who's arguably the bad guy, and he's believable, in an unbelievable movie.

Verdict: NO.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Moontrap (1988)

At last, Walter Koenig is the leading man.

He's captain of a space shuttle, with Bruce Campbell as his co-pilot, and as they're trekking toward home they discover an ancient, abandoned ship that's not of human design. Evidence and hieroglyphics suggest that the ship came from a base on the moon, which American astronauts barely missed discovering when they were there in 1969.

Koenig and Campbell are sent to the moon to investigate, where they discover killer robots and an ancient earthling astronaut who's a gorgeous babe. She can't speak English, but knows the universal language of B-movies — she takes off her top to give Koenig perhaps the only love scene of his movie and TV career.

Thematically, Moontrap is a rerun of a hundred other movies, but for the most part it works, and some of it works quite well. Nobody's embarrassed. There wasn't much money spent, but it's watchable and enjoyable. Cool synthesized music, and a strong ending.

Campbell has only a few Campbellesque wisecracks, and Koenig comes across as low-key dashing, even heroic. It is odd to see him in charge of the ship and the movie, but he's up to it.

Much as I like Koenig, though, and as good as he is here, Moontrap would've been better if Campbell had played the lead and Koening the sidekick. Bruce Campbell is a ham, and this movie might be better if taken less seriously.

The same writer and director made a sequel to Moontrap in 2017, without Koenig or Campbell, and I'm not itching to see it. 

Verdict: YES.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time (2017)

This wastes no time getting started. The hero, Neil Stryker, walks in before the opening credits, and immediately there's a five-way fist-fight played for laughs. When the fight is over, the punchline made me laugh out loud.

After that great beginning, everything sags like my oldest underwear. It becomes a routine satire of time travel, action, sci-fi, and mad scientist movies. It's never not fun, though, with cool effects and visuals, and it made me want to ride Stryker's flying motorcycle.

It gets better toward the end, after the assistant bad guy bursts into an overwrought but badly sung musical number. It's not a musical, though; that's the only song.

David Ogden Stiers, long ago of MASH, plays a bad guy with a potbelly. He's only in three short scenes, but he's funny.

At one point, very briefly, the movie switches to video game mode, where you're looking at the action from behind the character's head. This is done for no apparent reason except to make you chuckle. I chuckled.

Nic Costa and Rob Taylor co-wrote and co-star, with Taylor directing. Never heard of either of them before, but from Stryker's casual misogyny, I was pretty sure that one or both of them must've come from porn. IMDB says I'm mistaken, so I apologize.

Koenig gets twelfth billing, and appears only in one scene. "I may not make it," he says, "but I'm going to take some of these monsters with me. Aaaiaiiii!" He's back again after the credits, though.

Verdict: YES, if you're up for some serious silly.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Nobility (2017)

This was an unsold pilot, or perhaps a fan-made film, about a Star Trek-like space ship with a crew of colorful characters. In addition to Koenig, it features underemployed actors from The Expanse, Heroes, Star Trek: Discovery, and Stargate.

The ship's captain is a slightly obnoxious womanizing slacker, similar to Seth Macfarlane on The Orville (which reminds me, there's finally a third season to that fine show, and I gotta watch it). Koenig gets second billing, and plays Commander Frank Mooney, the ship's muttering and perhaps befuddled chief engineer. There's a female officer who likes punching people, and I like that, at least in a fictional character. There's a humorless alien crewmember, like Spock but with a British accent and a superior attitude. Christopher Judge from Stargate is finally freed from that medallion melted on his forehead, and plays an admiral. 

Sadly, Nobility never became a series, and it's so obscure that I've only been able to find an 18-minute clip from its single 50-minute episode. Based on that, the show had potential. 


♦ ♦ ♦ 

Scream of the Bikini (2009)

This is the long-lost masterpiece of noted 1960s spy and bikini filmmaker Fernando Fernandez, from prints rediscovered in 2009, and restored with financial assistance from the Bogata Chamber of Commerce. At least, that's the conceit, behind this spoof of spy and bikini movies. 

The opening credits are snappy and amusing, and someone sings a Shirley Basseyesque Bond-style theme song over the closing credits. In between, the movie features two attractive young women and a tuxedo-clad man with a mustache, all doing spy stuff. Absolutely every line of dialogue from everyone in the cast is delivered campy, though, which soon drowns whatever else might be going on. 

"Please consider Bogata for your next business meeting."

I didn't laugh much, but stuck with it to the end because IMDB lists Walter Koenig in the cast. IMDB is mistaken. It's Koenig-free.

Verdict: NO.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Star Trek: Renegades (2015)

Someone's messing with the Federation's supply of dilithium crystals, causing time-space to collapse like stomped-on origami. Star Fleet's bureaucracy isn't doing enough to stop the baddies, so Admiral Chekov tasks Tuvok (Tim Russ from Star Trek: Voyager, who also directed) to recruit outcasts and smugglers and assassins and mercenaries to set the universe right again.

This is a crowdfunded film, with the announced intent of submitting it to CBS as a pilot for a new series. Big TV networks don't work like that, and unsurprisingly, CBS didn't bite.

It looks pretty good, with special effects you wouldn't question, space battles and soaring ships and all, the props and sets look right, and the music eschews the familiar themes but still sounds like Star Trek.

Richard Herd

Sean Young (Blade Runner) and Adrienne Wilkinson (Nobility) are seriously good, and so's Edward Furlong (Terminator 2). I also liked the blue-skin chick with My Favorite Martian antenna in her head. Richard Herd, who played Unsmiling Old White Guy in a thousand TV shows and movies, makes a special guest appearance as Unsmiling Old White Guy in Space.

Too many of the movie's roles, though, are filled by fan boys and girls doing cosplay, instead of actors. They try, but acting is a delicate art, and they fail.

It's a fan-made movie, so I tried to be kind and lower my expectations, but there's honestly no reason to see this unless you're in it.

The script mimics the mistake of recent real Star Trek movies by building its story around yet another outer space madman as the antagonist. It's also filled with men in rubber masks loudly growling as savage aliens, which I've always found tiresome. It's sci-fi and we have phasers, but in numerous scenes, characters are stabbed — knives out, over and over again.

Every person on screen is given only very dramatic lines to recite, leaving no lines in the movie that aren't either very dramatic or very very dramatic. Most of the movie's many, many characters aren't adequately introduced, so you're never sure who's who or why they're doing what they're doing, and soon it becomes a confusing medley of overdramatic lines and stabbings.

Koenig, my man, gets top billing, but it's a 'mentor' role, so he's far removed from the action. Also, his admiral's uniform is boxier than anyone else's outfit, and doesn't fit right, which seems an odd thing for a fan flick to get wrong.

Verdict: NO.

There are so many good movies out there — old movies, odd or artsy, foreign or forgotten movies, or do-it-yourself movies made just for the joy of making them — that if you only watch whatever's on Netflix or playing at the twentyplex, you're missing out.

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Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. No talking once the lights dim. Real butter, not that fake crap, on the popcorn. I try to make these reviews spoiler-free, but sometimes screw up, sorry. Piracy is not a victimless crime. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.   


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