Night of the Comet, and six other movies

Lots of schlock movies today, only one of which I'd recommend.

The Neverending
Film Festival


• Battlefield Earth (2000)
• Hundra (1983)
• Ice (1998)
• Night of the Comet (1984)
• Rad (1986)
• Spy Kids 3: Game Over (2003)
• The Vindicator (1986)

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Battlefield Earth (2000)

I saw this when it first came out, and hated it. Based on a sci-fi novel by L Ron Hubbard, who later invented Scientology, it stars and was overseen by John Travolta, a leading wingnut Scientologist.

Watched it again tonight, just for laughs, and there is nothing about it that's not laughable. You don't want to see this movie, but you gotta see Travolta wearing dreadlocks and with wires in his nose:

click to enlarge
if you dare

Verdict: BIG NO.

♦ ♦ ♦

Hundra (1983)

This is a feminist action film, or pretends to be, with laughably clumsy action sequences and too much whispered narration that seems intended to be inspiring but instead slows things down. 

Set in an unspecified time of horseback and spears, Hundra is the hero who stands against the marauding hoards, and she says, "No man will ever penetrate my body, with sword or with himself." It's a stirring moment, but she soon falls in love, gets penetrated, and has a baby in a screaming childbirth scene that lasted far longer than necessary, and frightened my cat. 

Most of the movie's men are rapists or killed trying to rape, and very nearly every woman is a victim. Music by Ennio Morricone, but he's slumming; it's a few bars of a rousing theme, repeated hundreds of times. Directed by Matt Cimber, who made his name in blaxploitation and softcore, and was married to Jayne Mansfield.

Verdict: NO.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Ice (1998) 

This is science fiction by and for Republicans.

Global warming is a big mistake; instead the world is plunged into a new ice age because, uh, the sun gets covered with sun spots? The only scientist who understands what's happening is the movie's bad guy. The good guy is a savage cop, who insists that Paradise Lost by John Milton must be among the first books burned for heat as the snow starts falling.

But wait, there's more: The only black character is a criminal, but can be trusted after he reveals that he's in the Army Reserves. The only women are young, gorgeous, and white. The only children are always obedient, and can be trusted to handle guns. The only teenager is a pregnant runaway who just needs a good talking to.

Ice has passable B-level special effects, an extremely bland leading man, and a few amusing wisecracks in the dialogue. It's not awful, but it's certainly not good.

Verdict: MAYBE.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Night of the Comet (1984)

Now, this is what schlock movies should be.

There's a comet approaching Earth, and instead of panicking most people are partying like there's no tomorrow. For reasons unimportant, instead of simply giving Los Angeles a lovely light show, the comet's passing kills almost everyone, and makes most of the survivors into zombies.

Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart, from The Last Starfighter) and her kid sister survive, and must fight zombies, mad scientists, over-zealous security guards, and bad guy refugees from more serious apocalypse movies. This one's mostly a comedy.

"And here's some other changes: Most of you guys had finals this week — later, they're history, canceled. The legal drinking age is now 10, but you will need ID..."

Stewart plays a woman who's not a wimp, and her sister is amusingly ditzy and wears a short skirt. They raid a department store for clothes they couldn't have afforded the day before, and dance to "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," sung by someone less expensive than Cyndi Lauper. 

This is not a smart movie, but I'm not smart so I had fun with it. 

Verdict: YES.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Rad (1986)

Bicycles were so cool in the 1980s, Hollywood tried cashing in with this movie about kids racing their 10-speeds. It's a major league effort, too, directed by Hal Needham (Smokey and the Bandit, The Cannonball Run), and produced by Jack Schwartzman (Being There, Never Say Never Again), father of Jason.

They went bargain basement on the script, though. It's co-written by the guy who penned the deservedly-forgotten post-Peter Sellers and pre-Steve Martin Pink Panther movies, and the screenwriter behind Blood Surf, The Chain, Diplomatic Siege, The Granny, Dark Tide, Warlock: The Armageddon, and 3:15 the Moment of Truth. 

Rad is spectacularly stupid, with a small town mayor doing everything unimaginable to keep some kid with a paper route from riding his bike in a BMX race.

Talia Shire and Ray Walston play two of the grownups, and are given simply nothing to do. John Farnham sings the movie's theme song as if it's the grandest ballad even written, which it is not. Sparks performs "Music That You Can Dance To."

Before and after the movie's big bike race, there are slow-mo and freeze frame bike stunts, giving bikers the same due other sports films give to their athletes, and deservedly so. The climax of any sports movie is the sporting event, though, in this case that bike race, but it's staged quite clumsily and never exciting in the slightest.

Verdict: NO.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Spy Kids 3: Game Over (2003) 

I enjoyed the first two Spy Kids flicks, about brother and sister little-kid spies, and there's a third... but maybe there shouldn't be.

The girl spy has been sent on an undercover mission to the inner workings of a virtual reality game that's actually about world domination, but she gets stuck in the game, so her little brother goes in after her.

Setting this sequel in virtual reality allows it to be visually cartoonish, in addition to the more philosophical cartoonishness of the first two movies. Arguably, that's a good thing. 

Sylvester Stallone plays four roles, including mad scientist, crazed military man, hippie, and ruler of all virtual reality, and he's having fun with it, and so did I. Definitely, Stallone's a good thing.

The girl spy, though, isn't in the movie until it's 2/3 over, and Mom and Dad are absent until the last few minutes, and I dunno. The heart of the first two movies was those two kids, squabbling but working together, and their kooky family of spies. Mostly without the family, this movie is mostly without a heart.

It's OK, but it's no Spy Kids or Spy Kids 2.

Verdict: MAYBE.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

The Vindicator (1986)

A mad scientist is killed in a kiln explosion, but his project is so important that he's resurrected, in a project cleverly code-named 'Project Frankenstein'. 

Directing and editing are chores you don't notice much, unless they're done very well or very, very badly. This is a very badly directed and edited film, also badly scripted and acted.

Pam Grier is listed in the credits, which is the only reason I watched, but she shows up too late, when the movie is already shit, and like the rest of it, her part is disappointingly written. 

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.   



  1. Night of the Comet is a classic! That's not Cyndi Lauper tho?

  2. All schlock should be such glorious fun.


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