Monday, January 18, 2010

Asylum Action fest-Da Vinci Treasure/War Of The Worlds/I Am Omega/Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus

The Da Vinci Treasure (2006) * *

Cast: C. Thomas Howell, Lance Henriksen, Nicole Sherwin

Directed by Peter Mervis

Laughable rip off of National Treasure has Howell as a wimpy adventurer who battles Lance Henriksen to get to a treasure for reasons that don’t make sense and  don’t measure up to much in terms of credibility. Oh boy what do I say about this one, this is what we call one of the so bad their hilarious movies that you pretty much expect when you see the title that Asylum puts out on a frequent basis. This is the second collaboration between Asylum and C. Thomas Howell and unlike War Of The Worlds (which was pretty decent) this one works only for camp fans, who will no doubt be laughing at what passes for archeology in this film, how awkward the ending is and the fact C. Thomas Howell is clearly slumming here. This movie was no doubt a favor so he could direct War Of The Worlds 2 (which I now have to see) As far as Asylum efforts go this is actually one of their better efforts as this one has competent production values as opposed to Snakes On A Train, Transmorphers or Dracula’s Curse. In other words this is a must see for camp fans who find themselves in need of something to laugh at in the middle of the night, unfortunately for those who expect action, adventure and whatever you will be sorely disappointed as this film offers zilch. However those who keep an open mind will be in stitches over the beginning sequence (that finds Howell trying to open a door while the guards are doing who knows what) to the utterly asinine finale which has Jesus’ cloth saving the day. Look this movie is awful but you should know what to expect and for fans of hilariously bad films, this one will no doubt be one to keep an eye on. Indeed I recommend you wait a couple years or so, because this thing will only get funnier in time.

War Of The Worlds (2005) * * *

Cast: C. Thomas Howell, Jake Busey, Peter Greene, Rhett Giles

Directed by David Michael Latt

In what is Asylum’s best effort to date, War of the Worlds finds C. Thomas Howell on a one man mission to find his family and survive an Alien takeover in which on his struggle to find his family starts to lose hope. The best moments are actually the smaller scenes in which C. Thomas Howell and Rhett Giles (as a priest with shaky faith) are forced to confront their hopeless situation. You wouldn’t expect such from an Asylum movie but sure enough this film builds a credible atmosphere and builds suspense. I was for the most part surprised at the quality acting as well as how sharp the production values were. Indeed I think this would’ve worked better as a stand-alone film than as a rip off of the Tom Cruise movie, but whatever the case I think those that rent this will be pleasantly surprised. War Of The Worlds then isn’t heavy on action and doesn’t perhaps explain how C. Thomas Howell is able to stop the aliens dead in their tracks with some type of virus, but given that C. Thomas Howell helped wage World War III in Red Dawn, who am I to question such? It’s hard to believe that this film works as well as it does but this is a gem and well worth seeing for fans. It’s too bad a movie like this is the exception and not the rule with Asylum films.

I Am Omega (2006) * *1/2

Cast:Mark Dacascos, Geoff Meed,Jennifer Lee Wiggins

Directed by Griff Furst

Dacascos figures in as the last kickboxer alive who blows up nests full of bad guy mutants in a future dump, only to find a woman (Wiggins) that needs to be rescued so those kickboxing skills will come in handy. I Am Omega is a rip off The Omega Man (which was remade as the Will Smith dud I Am Legend) and Night Of The Comet and although the film doesn’t succeed in scope as those two films but as braindead "kickboxer in a wasteland" films go, I Am Omega isn’t too bad. In fact Dacascos works extremely well in the role, showcasing the required moves as well as the burned out hero rather credibly. It’s no Drive, but this is certainly one of Dacascos’ better movies in quite some time. The part though that hurts I Am Omega is in fact the budget, while the apocalypse angle is credibly documented in scope, the zombie-make up effects are terrible. This is also the second teaming of Kickboxer 5 team Geoff Meed and Mark Dacascos and both far exceed the quality of thesping one gets from an Asylum flick, although in the case of Meed, just barely. Indeed the bad acting from everyone is what hurts this film the most because Dacascos' action presence alone sells the concept and ergo every time Dacascos isn’t kickboxing the film becomes slow. Also one of the things that disappointed me was that unlike say Night of the Comet, there is no novelty or any type of strategy to make the apocalypse humorous or for that matter atmospheric. In other words I Am Omega is one of Asylum’s better movies but still nothing special.

Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus (2009) *1/2

Cast: Deborah Gibson, Lorenzo Lamas

Debbie Gibson (Oh sorry, I mean Deborah) stars as a marine biologist (who cast this thing?) who discovers pre-historic shark and octopus that threaten mankind and of course Gibson comes up with a way to shake her love, no, just kidding to pit these two titans against each other. While Lorenzo Lamas plays a sleazy CIA agent (or something) that looks to thwart her mission so he can nuke them both or whatever such nonsense. Look it’s called Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus you know what you’re getting with such a title, although even on the camp levels this movie is a complete failure. For one there isn’t nearly enough shark vs octopus fighting going on, and it’s only a couple of unintentionally amusing sequences (like when the shark takes down a jet airliner or eats the golden gate bridge) that surface in a film that should’ve had much more goofiness going on. Deborah Gibson is ridiculous in the role but shockingly still a better thespian than Lorenzo Lamas, who is supposed to be some type of agent but comes off no different than his non-acting heroes in such awful duds as Final Impact, Bad Blood and CIA. This movie itself doesn’t deliver what it promises for fans of monster movies. Indeed at least King Kong Vs Godzilla had better fights, production values and better acting. Stick with a Godzilla movie and leave this dreck on the shelf, unless you really want to see Debbie Gibson and Lorenzo Lamas in a movie together. Let it be said though Gibson actually looks hotter now then she did in the 80s, and although she doesn’t take her clothes off, she does have one of the most hilariously stupid sex scenes in the history of film. Camp fans are better off checking out Komodo Vs Cobra which stars an embarrassed Michael Pare, and some of the most hilariously awful effects of all time or the Lorenzo Lamas/Steven Bauer turkey Raptor Island (Which is even worse than KVC). This one though (Starting with the title) just tries too hard to be camp and fails in an epic way.

Road House (the series)

Road House (1989) * * *

Cast: Patrick Swayze, Ben Gazzara, Kelly Lynch, Sam Elliott, Marshall Teague

Now this is a classic in the Bad Action movie staples, up there with American Ninja, Rambo and Kickboxer. Indeed what makes this movie so hard to review is that I really have nothing to add to what everyone else has said about it. Indeed it’s pretty much one long fight sequence where a bouncer with a P.H.D in philosophy wages war against a wealthy tycoon who keeps the town in his iron grip. All you need to know is that this is Swayze’s best effort to date and certainly the most enjoyable movie of his career. Witnessing Swayze spit out lines like “Pain Don’t Hurt” or “Yer too stupid to have a good time!” and the ever hilarious “Be Nice” monologue is worth the price of admission alone. However what makes Road House so re-watchable is in fact its array of endless and senseless action to which bottles are broken over people’s heads, bad guys walk into the bar with blades on their shoes and of course did I mention that throughout Swayze is a kickboxing bouncer who also has a P.H.D in philosophy? Logic and common sense simply don’t apply here, and yet the film works almost too well. This is probably the closest one can get to a modern western without seeing it turn into a post apocalypse Mad Max rip off. Road House is in fact one of the best action flicks from the 80s and really how can you not love a film so shamelessly ridiculous? The action choreography as well as the villains are first rate which also adds to the fun factor, but in reality it’s Swayze that makes it all work, anyone else wouldn’t have been able to pull of such a character and do it in the western style.

Road House 2:Last Call (2006) *

Cast:Jonathan Schaech, Jake Busey, Ellen Hollman, Richard Norton, Will Patton

True, the first Road House was ridiculous, but also lots of fun with a western-like atmosphere that was so over the top one figures some of it had to be intentional, overall it was great because it was the prime definition of a fun B(ad) movie. Road House 2 on the other hand is just ridiculous. Starting with the fact that everything is a virtual replay of Road House 1, only without Swayze which pretty made the first one work so well. Everything in this movie is (very) sub-par in comparison to the original classic, whether it be the fight sequences, the acting and the overall atmosphere that lack the sleazy charm of # 1. The only positive thing I can say is that Schaech is decent (just not as good as Swayze), Patton and Norton have their moments and Hollman is easy on the eyes but overall this is an obvious cash grab at a cult classic that in order of even having a shot at working, needed Swayze. Even without the Road House name, the film is a failure in comparison to action movies on the shelf. In other words stick with the original.