REVIEW: GALACTICA 1980

Starring

Lorne Greene (Bananza)
Herbert Jefferson Jr. (The Bastard)
Kent McCord (Predator 2)
Barry Van Dyke (Diagnosis Murder)
Robyn Douglass (Freeze Frame)
Jeremy Brett (Moll FLanders)
Allan Miller (Star Trek III)
Robbie Rist (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
James Patrick Stuart (General Hospital)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Richard Lynch (Puppet Master 3)
Robert Reed (The Brady Bunch)
Pamela Susan Shoop (Halloween II)
Sharon Acker (Lucky Jim)
Richard Eastham (Wonder Woman)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Mickey Jones (Total Recall)
Paul Koslo (The Omega Man)
William Daniels (The Blue Lagoon)
Lara Parker (Dark Shadows)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday The 13th – Part 8)
Wolfman Jack (Motel Hell)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Ana Alicia (Halloween II)
Dirk Benedict (The A-Team)
Judith Chapman (Days of Our Lives)

ABC’s decision to cancel Battlestar Galactica after one season didn’t sit well with viewers, and the show’s strong ratings (it out-rated almost every ABC series renewed for 1979-80) easily justified continuation. But with costs rising faster than expected ABC and Universal Studios wanted the show for substantially less than the per-episode costs of the original show, and at a time when SFX technology was not as advanced as today, there was no practical argument against the economics angle that hurt the show. Nonetheless, ABC tried to continue the Galactica mythos on a budget, and regardless of whether series creator Glen Larson was involved. Larson signed on to try and make it work, but the result, Galactica 1980, was a bitter disappointment to all.
The show’s weaknesses were extensive, but by far the greatest weakness lay in the deception used in promotion before the first episode aired. Promotions used the footage of Cylon raiders blasting Los Angeles extensively and gave the impression that the Cylon empire had found Earth and was in process of slaughtering the last planet of humanity, a premise that would have given the show a much stronger punch. But this footage was merely part of a “what if?” computer simulation to illustrate why the survivors of the Twelve Colonies cannot colonize Earth – “If we land, we will bring destruction upon Earth as surely as if we’d inflicted it ourselves,” as Commander Adama succinctly puts it in one of the show’s best lines.

With this premise of real life Cylon predation against Earth thus vetoed, the show begins to suffer, hurt even more by the excessive juvenile angle in the platoon of children rescued from the freighter Delphi after it is ambushed by Cylon raiders and forced to land on Earth, and also in the use of the mysterious Seraph youth Doctor Zee – had Doctor Zee been a Cylon creation (like the humanoid Cylon featured in “The Night The Cylons Landed” or better yet the Cylon IL Lucifer from the original series) that had turned against its masters, this angle would have made more sense – as it was, Zee’s genesis did make for the show’s best episode and surprisingly one of the best sci-fi episodes of any series, “The Return Of Starbuck.”

The show also suffered from several embarrassing incidents, notably the Halloween angle of “The Night The Cylons Landed” and the general incompatibility of the Kobollian survivors with the culture of Earth, leading to numerous bits of forced comedy that really aren’t funny.

But despite these weaknesses, the show did have some superb moments – the Cylon attack on Los Angeles, deception or not, is compelling footage, lasting roughly ninty seconds on-screen and superbly mixing stock matte-FX footage of Cylon raiders over outtake footage from Universal’s 1974 disaster film “Earthquake.” The sequence thus becomes one the best SFX sequences ever done for television – I especially liked the shots of Cylon raiders blasting the Capitol Records building, Cylon raiders diving into strafing runs then cutting to the Cylon POV shot of a street being attacked, the street being strafed as seen from above then from low angle as a raider flies toward and then past the screen, and the triumphant flyover of Cylon raiders over the now-ravaged city.
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The introduction of new Cylons in the human-form combat ILs in “The Night The Cylons Landed” as well as the new command-class AB raider (first seen mixed with the stock FX shot of Cylons strafing the Delphi in “The Super Scouts” but not fully explored until “Night”) is also an intriguing look into the evolution of the Cylon empire; not surprisingly this idea was developed to great fruition by Ronald Moore for the 2003 version of Battlestar Galactica.
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The arguments between Commander Adama and Commander Xavier (Richard Lynch) in the three-part pilot episode are well done – Lynch’s Xavier gives the show as compelling a villain in his own way as John Colicos’ Baltar, whose non-presence is particularly missed here. Also well done is the interaction between Troy (Kent McCord) and Dillon (Barry Van Dyke), especially early in the opening episode when we learn something of Troy’s background. The presence of Boomer (Herbert Jefferson Jr.) is welcome with no other original cast members available except for Dirk Benedict’s appearance in “Return Of Starbuck,” and the series does tackle some moral dilemmas (notably the Nazi-Jewish angle in the three-part opening episode) generally avoided in the original series.
Related imageBy no means is Galactica 1980 great television, but it does have some excellent moments, and the cast deserves credit for trying to make it work.

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACITCA (1978)

Starring

Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Dirk Benedict (The A-Team)
Lorne Greene (The Bastard)
John Colicos (Star Trek)
Maren Jensen (Deadly Blessing)
Noah Hathaway (Troll)
Herbert Jefferson Jr. (Black Gunn)
Tony Swartz (Schizoid)
Laurette Spang-McCook (The Secrets of Isis)
Terry Carter (McCloud)
Anne Lockhart (Convoy)
Jonathan Harris (Lost In Space)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Lew Ayres (Holiday)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Sarah Rush (Catch Me If You Can)
Carol Baxter (The Incredible Hulk)
Dick Durock (Swamp Thing)
Patrick Macnee (The Howling)
Felix Silla (Spaceballs)
Janet Julian (King of New York)
George Murdock (Star Trek V)
Larry Manetti (Hawaii Five-0)
Lance LeGault (Stripes)
Red West (Road House)
Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
Christine Belford (Christine)
Richard Lynch (Puppet MAster III)
Britt Ekland (The Wicker Man)
Alex Hyde-White (The Fantastic Four)
Olan Soule (The Towering Inferno)
Rance Howard (Small Soldiers)
Lloyd Bridges (Airplane)
Kirk Alyn (Superman 1948)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Fred Astaire (Funny Face)
Brock Peters (Soylent Green)
Lloyd Bochner (The Naked Gun 2)
Melody Anderson (Flash Gordon)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Ana Alicia (Halloween II)

Since the the modern remake of this series rapidly become the next big thing in TV Sci-Fi, many people are going to be tempted to pick up this boxed set to find out how it all began. You can’t go wrong here – this represents astounding value for money, and a great opportunity to discover or rediscover a series that really does deserve its classic status. It even has some decent extras.

Battlestar Galactica was created in 1978 a year after the Star Wars, and was essentially a brazen attempt by ABC television to cash in on the mammoth unexpected success of that film. Under conditions that may never be repeated, it was suddenly considered viable to create a full-blown big-budget epic primetime family-oriented science fiction extravaganza with a budget of $1m per episode (big money in those days). The series ran for a total of 24 episodes before being canned due to its expense and sliding ratings, but it had a huge impact and is remembered with great fondness even by those who aren’t rabid fans.


The story draws inspiration from diverse mythical and religious sources, including Ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, the book of Exodus, and the Mormon upbringing of its creator Glen A. Larson. When the 12 colonies of man are annihilated by the robotic Cylons, the only surviving Battlestar, Galactica, assembles a small fleet of dilapidated civilian ships and makes a run for it with the survivors, hoping to find the legendary 13th tribe who may have settled on a distant, mythical planet called Earth.


The series is often criticised for endlessly recycling stock footage, especially during the space battles where this reaches almost unreasonable levels, and for its cheesiness (plenty of cute kids and robots in this one), but on the whole it’s much easier to forgive such faults in retrospect. It also benefits enormously from its arresting premise, strong plotting, and above all its nigh-on perfect casting. It’s worth watching the 24 episodes through as well, because it does improve as it goes along, and is serialised to a degree. Considering it ran for such a short time, it does a surprisingly thorough job of exploring its themes, so it’s debatable what its natural life would have been had it been allowed to continue. Towards the end it becomes more cerebral and interesting, as eventually Galactica moves beyond its own space and begins to encounter worlds and cultures that bear an eerie resemblance to modern Earth.

There are several documentaries on the seventh disc featuring interviews with almost all of the surviving cast and crew. These are fairly entertaining and informative, especially the production footage which reveals how hard the back-projection was to pull off (it’s a shame there isn’t more on the effects). It’s clear that Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict are still bitter that the plug was pulled so early, and they express this with some eloquence. Both campaigned vigorously, independently, to bring it back.

REVIEW: PUPPET MASTER III: TOULON’S REVENGE

CAST

Guy Rolfe (Dolls)
Richard Lynch (Scarecrow)
Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey)
Kristopher Logan (Blood Dolls)
Aron Eisenberg (Star Trek: DS9)
Walter Gotell (From Russuia With Love0
Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 & 2)
Michelle Bauer (Vampire Academy 2)

03-1The film is set during 1941 (in contrast to Puppet Master 1 establishing that Toulon committed suicide in 1939, and should be 1938) in World War II Berlin. A scientist named Dr. Hess is forced by the Nazis, especially his Gestapo liaison Major Kraus, to create a drug capable of animating corpses to use as living shields on the battlefield after losing too many on the Eastern Front. But, Dr. Hess cannot get it right: While the corpses do reanimate, they have a tendency towards mindless violence. In a small theater downtown, André Toulon has set up a politically satirical puppet show for children, starring a six-armed American Old West puppet named Six-Shooter, who attacks an inanimate reconstruction puppet of Adolf Hitler. The show is, next to a crowd of children, also attended by Lt. Erich Stein, Kraus’ driver. After the performance, Toulon and his wife Elsa feed the puppets with the formula which sustains their life force, but they are watched by Stein, who informs his superior the next morning. Hess, genuinely fascinated by the formula, wants Toulon to freely share the secret with him, but Kraus wants to take Toulon in for treason and insulting of the Führer.5dcda-puppetmaster3-4bigThe next day, André gives Elsa a puppet crafted in her likeness as a gift, but soon afterwards Kraus, Hess, and a squad of soldiers break into the atelier and take Toulon, Tunneler, and Pinhead. When Elsa attempts to prevent them from taking the formula as well, she is shot by one of the escort, and Toulon is dragged away from her. When Kraus prepares to leave, the wounded Elsa spits at him in defiance, and in retaliation, Kraus shoots her dead in cold blood. However, while transporting Toulon off, the two soldiers guarding him are killed by Pinhead and Tunneler, enabling Toulon to escape.29e38-puppet-master-iii-toulons-revenge-kraus-richard-lynchAfter hiding for the remainder of the night, Toulon returns to his theater to find that the stage has been burnt by the Nazis. He finds Six-Shooter and Jester and leaves with them, then discovers a partially destroyed hospital and decides to set up camp in it. Toulon wants revenge, so he, Pinhead, and Jester break into the morgue to get his wife’s life essence and inserts it into the woman puppet he made for her, and as she comes to life, he inserts several leeches he found in a jar into her. Later that night, Toulon carries out the first revenge attack on Stein while he fixes Kraus’ car, along with Pinhead, Jester and Leech Woman, and on his flight from pursuers Toulon subsequently finds shelter in a bombed-out building. Back in his lab, Dr. Hess is studying Toulon’s formula, and desperate to meet and talk with him, he goes back to the old theater. Meanwhile, some friends from the puppet show, a boy named Peter Hertz and his father, find André and decide to live with him after Peter’s mother was arrested on charges of espionage. The next day, Toulon sends Six-Shooter to kill General Müller, the supervisor of the Nazi reanimation project, while Müller is visiting a brothel. While Six-Shooter manages to kill the general, Müller shoots off one of the puppet’s arms beforehand. Peter goes back to Toulon’s old atelier to look for a replacement arm and is caught by Dr. Hess, who treats him kindly and gets him to take him to Toulon.MV5BYmQ5YTc4NzctYmJmYi00NzhiLTgxMWQtNDY5MzhiODBjOWMyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTk0OTM1NzU@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_Dr. Hess finds and talks to Toulon, who tells him about the puppets’ secret, and the two become friends. But Peter’s father betrays Toulon by telling Major Kraus about his hideout in exchange for a pardon for his family. Kraus and his men storm the ruin, but the puppets fight back, enabling Toulon and Hess to escape. Kraus stops Peter and his father, demanding to know where Toulon is; Hertz fights against and is shot by Kraus. While searching the nearby houses, one of Kraus’ men is shot by Six-Shooter; but when Hess approaches him, the soldier puts a knife into him before expiring. Hess dies from the injury, telling Toulon to keep fighting. Toulon returns once more to his old theater, where he falls asleep from exhaustion and is soon joined by the now orphaned Peter.MV5BZjkzZTZiZjEtNzI3ZS00ZDU1LWI0ZGYtN2M2MWEzNDIyZjY5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTk0OTM1NzU@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,961_AL_At night, Major Kraus returns to his office, only to fall prey to an ambush by Toulon and his puppets, now joined by Blade, infused with Hess’ essence. Toulon takes terrible revenge on Kraus by hanging him from the ceiling by his limbs and neck, which are impaled by sharp hooks. After having a halberd from Kraus’ office decorations planted into the floor, point up, Toulon sets the rope on fire; the rope eventually snaps, and Kraus fatally falls right onto the halberd. The film ends with Toulon, posing as Kraus, and Peter leaving the country for Geneva on the express train.puppetmaster3-3bigToulon’s Revenge is one of the best in the whole Puppet Master series. What makes this movie great is it tells who the puppets are and shows the making and birth of leech woman.

REVIEW: HALLOWEEN (2007)

CAST

Scout Taylor-Compton (The Core)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Tyler Mane (X-Men)
Daeg Faerch (Hanock)
Sheri Moon Zombie (The Devil’s Rejects)
William Forsythe (The Rock)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master 3)
Udo Kier (Blade)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Danielle Harris (Left For Dead)
Kristina Klebe (Police State)
Courtney Gains (Children of The Corn)
Skyler Gisondo (The Three Stooges)
Dee Wallace (E.T.)
Bill Moseley (Army of Darkness)
Lew Temple (Domino)
Tom Towles (Fortress)
Leslie Easterbrook (Police Academy)
Pat Skipper (Erin Brockovich)
Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids)
Richmond Arquette (Broken Blood)
Ken Foree (The Lords of Salem)
Daniel Roebuck (Final Destination)
Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects)

On Halloween in Haddonfield, Illinois, having already shown signs of psychopathic tendencies, 10-year-old Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) murders a school bully. Later that night, he murders his older sister Judith (Hanna R. Hall), his mother’s abusive boyfriend Ronnie (William Forsythe), and Judith’s boyfriend Steve (Adam Weisman). Only his baby sister, Angel Myers, is spared. After one of the longest trials in the state’s history, Michael is found guilty of first degree murder and sent to Smith’s Grove — Warren County Sanitarium under the care of child psychologist Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell). Michael initially cooperates with Dr. Loomis, claiming no memory of the killings; his mother, Deborah (Sheri Moon Zombie), visits him regularly. Michael becomes fixated on his papier-mâché masks, closing himself off from everyone, even his mother. When Michael kills a nurse as Deborah is leaving from one of her visits, she can no longer handle the situation and commits suicide. For the next fifteen years, Michael (Tyler Mane) continues making his masks and not speaking to anyone. Dr. Loomis, having continued to treat Michael over the years, attempts to move on with his life and closes Michael’s case. Later, while being prepared for transfer to maximum security, Michael escapes Smith’s Grove, killing the sanitarium employees and a truck driver for his overalls, and makes his way back to Haddonfield. On Halloween, Michael arrives at his now abandoned childhood home, where he recovers the kitchen knife and Halloween mask.
The story shifts to Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton), and her friends Annie Brackett (Danielle Harris) and Lynda Van Der Klok (Kristina Klebe) on Halloween. Throughout the day, Laurie witnesses Michael watching her from a distance. That night, she goes to babysit Tommy Doyle (Skyler Gisondo). Meanwhile, Lynda meets with her boyfriend Bob (Nick Mennell) at Michael’s childhood home. Michael appears, murders them, and then heads to the Strode home, where he murders Laurie’s parents, Mason (Pat Skipper) and Cynthia (Dee Wallace). Dr. Loomis, having been alerted of Michael’s escape, comes to Haddonfield looking for Michael. After obtaining a gun, Loomis attempts to warn Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) that Michael has returned to Haddonfield. Brackett and Dr. Loomis head to the Strode home, with Brackett explaining along the way that Laurie is actually Michael’s sister Angel.
Meanwhile, Annie convinces Laurie to babysit Lindsey Wallace (Jenny Gregg Stewart), a girl Annie is supposed to be watching, so she can have sex with her boyfriend Paul (Max Van Ville). Annie and Paul return to the Wallace home and during sex, Michael kills Paul and attacks Annie. Bringing Lindsey home, Laurie finds Annie on the floor, bloodied but alive, and calls the police. She is attacked by Michael, who chases her back to the Doyle home. Sheriff Brackett and Loomis hear the call announced over the radio and head toward the Wallace residence. Meanwhile, Michael kidnaps Laurie and takes her back to his home. Michael approaches Laurie and tries to show her that she is his younger sister, presenting a picture of the two siblings with their mother. Unable to understand, Laurie grabs Michael’s knife and stabs him before escaping the house; Michael chases her, but is repeatedly shot by Dr. Loomis.Laurie and Loomis are just about to leave when Michael grabs Laurie and heads back to the house. Loomis intervenes and tries to reason with Michael, but Michael attacks him by squeezing Loomis’s skull with his hands. Laurie takes Loomis’s gun and runs upstairs; she is chased by Michael, who, after cornering her on a balcony, charges her head-on, knocking both of them over the railing. Laurie finds herself on top of a bleeding Michael. Aiming Loomis’ gun at his face, she repeatedly pulls the trigger until the gun finally goes off just as Michael’s hand grips Laurie’s wrist.
I like this film. It does not diminish my enjoyment of Carpenter’s original, and neither does Carpenter’s original diminish my enjoyment of this film. As far as I’m concerned, they can co-exist as entirely separate entities, to be appreciated on their own terms.

REVIEW: ONE MAN FORCE

CAST

John Matuszak (The Goonies)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Sharon Farrell (Freddys Nightmares)
Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master 3)

The victim of the movie is a female singer, who perfectly sends up the ‘damsel in distress’ caricature which frequents so many 1980’s blockbusters. By playing her helplessness to the extreme, the director really mocks the patriarchal overtones so many Action movies seem to possess . In one scene, the female character is left in a prison cell with Jake Swan. Jake is trust up like a chicken, while she is free to roam around for corn, and yet the dynamic of the situation is clear – he is still the power-holder and the one who is expected to lead the escape, while she shrivels in the corner wailing like a ruddy banshee. Much like Sacha Baron Cohen parodied xenophobia with Borat, this scene brilliantly parodies the ‘poor useless girl’ movie stereotype, in a comical (albeit not-very-subtle) manner. Later, the singer dies.

The villains of this movie brilliantly parody typical Hollywood ‘Baddies’ of this era – Foreign, Greasy and One Dimensional. Despite Mexican being their mother tongue, the criminals speak English to each other even when there are no Americans in the scene – what more of a perfect way to encapsulate on screen the spreading of White Western Power and the homogenisation of American Culture. The main character, Jake Swan, deserves a paragraph to himself. His bulking frame is the first clue that this is a man who satirises Movie Macho Men to the hilt. By purposefully making the character as bland, violent and one dimensional as the criminals he is fighting, the Director cleverly highlights everything that is wrong with Hollywood’s love of vigilantism. Throughout the film, the audience are forced to question who really is the villain of the show as Jake Swan, the supposed ‘Hero’ of this masterpiece, becomes more and more unlikeable. His thirst for violence and total disregard for the rules actually cost more lives and cause more damage than the real villains do. Jake’s relationship with his stepson is a can of worms that I could open and talk for hours about, but I wont due to the word limit I am fast approaching. All I will say is that their Step father/son relationship Is a fantastic representation of the modern American family – broken and struggling. One Man truly is a Force – a Force of nature, that is. it’s a cheesy actio nthats so bad it’s actually good.

REVIEW: MAXIMUM FORCE

CAST

Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon)
Sherrie Rose (Unlawful Entry)
Jason Lively (Brainstorm)
John Saxon (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master 3)
Mickey Rooney (The Muppets)
Michael Delano (Oceans Eleven)

At first glance, “Maximum Force” is a standard action B-movie, but while it probably never aspired to be more than a direct-to-video adrenaline package, what we have here is actually a missed opportunity at a potentially great action outing. With a fantastic cast to its name and action filmmaker extraordinaire Joseph Merhi directing, this should have amounted to a higher rating than I’m giving it now. The film has its moments, but loses out due to misuse of its performers and a mediocre plot.

The story: In a last-ditch effort to apprehend an untouchable crime lord (Richard Lynch, Invasion U.S.A.), a secret strike force of dedicated cops (played by Sam Jones, Sherrie Rose, and Jason Lively) is assembled to take the fight directly to him. I like seeing Sherrie Rose in action roles and Jason Lively is fun enough to watch, but Sam Jones’ staid role stifles his usual charisma and likeability. Richard Lynch can play an evil character with the slightest of effort, but he hardly does anything here besides hold ominous meetings with other bad guys. Other members of the dramatic cast include John Saxon, Mickey Rooney, Sonny Landham, Ken Davitian, and Michael DeLano, and while they do well enough with the screentime they have, they are all relegated to fairly limited roles with little to no action. This is all the more disappointing when considering that this is one of PM Entertainment’s “serious” action films – one that tries to convey moments of genuine drama and some semblance of a social message. Why have all these cool actors if most of them are only in one or two scenes?

I had not expected this to be a martial arts movie, so imagine my surprise when the number of full-length karate fights neared a dozen. The extended martial cast includes Ken McLeod, Steven Ho, Dino Homsey, Dennis Keiffer, Zak Lee, Satch Williams, and Roger and Ron Yuan: a genuinely good hand for martial arts enthusiasts. The fights scenes end up being hit-and-miss, partially due to the fact that not all of the abovementioned performers get to fight. Sam Jones and Sherrie Rose look surprising adept at martial arts and both get at least one decent match; Jones’ showdown with Jeff Langton (Final Impact) probably constitutes the best brawl of the film. Nevertheless, a bit more flair in general would have helped make more of the matches memorable. The non-kickboxing action portions are even blander and consist mainly of explosions.The storyline tries to make its points about police corruption stick and make some of its deaths meaningful, but the film simply lacks both the finesse and the legitimacy for that.