VIDEO KILLED THE B-MOVIE . . .
You know movies that go straight to video, made solely for the purpose of being
released into the video market. Films usually shot on a small budget to guarantee
profitable returns. Along with made-for-tv movies the straight-to-video market is the
modern equivalent of the so-called B-picture.
YOU KNOW ITS A VIDEO CHEAPIE WHEN:
Roger Cormans name somewhere
Its directed by one Albert Pyun
Its a sequel to a film that you didnt even know that
existed in the first place (e.g. Nemesis 3, Project Shadowchaser 2,
Its advertised as so-and-so meets so-and-so (for example "Total Recall meets Blade Runner" or "if you liked
Jurassic Park then you will like this")
Youve never heard of it
You cant remember it ever being on the cinema circuit
It stars people you have never even heard of
You have to be reminded of who the "stars" are e.g.
Oliver ("Nemesis") Gruner
You cant find a listing of it in any authoritative video or
If you do find a listing, it supplies other titles under which it was
The cover has some muscled hunk brandishing a huge machine gun on it
I'VE HEARD OF ROGER CORMAN, BUT WHO IS ALBERT PYUN?
Many years from now his name will be revered as much as Ed Woods name is revered
Some of his movies:
1982 THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER director
1986 DANGEROUSLY CLOSE director
1986 RADIOACTIVE DREAMS director
1987 ALIEN FROM L.A. director
1987 DOWN TWISTED director
1989 CYBORG director
1990 CAPTAIN AMERICA director
1991 DOLLMAN director
1993 BRAIN SMASHER
A LOVE STORY director
1993 NEMESIS director
"STARS" ANY OF THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE:
Has-been television stars (such as George Peppard and Richard Thomas)
Never-been movie stars (Dolph Lundgren and Brigitte Nielsen)
Has-been movie stars (Rutger Hauer and Christopher Lambert)
Ex-porn stars (Traci Lords)
Ex-WWF stars (Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan)
THEY FELL FROM BIG SCREEN GRACE
Dutch actor who in his heyday stole movies right from under A-list actors such as Harrison
Ford and got star billing opposite Michelle Pfeiffer. But Hollywood never knew what to do
with him exactly casting him as anything from sympathetic villain (Blade Runner)
to romantic leading man (Ladyhawke) to psychopathic nutcase (The
After an impressive debut as Tarzan in Greystoke, Lambert did good in the cult Highlander hit. But the die was cast: always a wooden actor (and
he never could shake that accent) he went on to star in two terrible Highlander
sequels, a small bit role in Mortal Kombat. Although Fortress
proved to be an unexpected hit, Lambert was soon consigned to straight-to-video hell.
After an impressively physical debut in Rocky 4 as a Soviet boxer, Lundgren
starred opposite Van Damme in the Universal Soldier hit movie.
But it was all downhill from there on . . .
SOON TO FALL FROM BIG SCREEN GRACE
Anything that isnt a Rocky or Rambo sequel simply flopped.
However, Stallones movies still do well in the non-American market, but after
horrendous bummers like Daylight, Cliffhanger and Judge
Dredd video oblivion is always close.
He hasnt starred in any sci-fi related material yet, but desperation will probably
force him into a sci-fi cheapie one day. His recent self-financed The Patriot movie
didnt even get a theatrical release in America and went straight to television
instead. Not surprising after efforts like On Deadly Ground and Glimmer Man
bombed at the box office . . .
Jean Claude Van Damme
For Van Damme returning to straight-to-video movies would be coming full circle. His Kickboxer
and Bloodsport-type movies were always favourites on the video circuit and after
lately after several bombs directed by former Hong Kong action meisters (like Knock
Off and Double Team) expect to see him in a straight-to-video TimeCop or Universal Soldier sequel one of these days . .
IS IT POSSIBLE FOR A VIDEO MOVIE STAR TO GAIN BIG SCREEN STAR STATUS?
Not impossible Van Damme did it, but its not very likely. Seen anything
starring Oliver (Nemesis, Mars, etc.) Gruner on the big screen lately?
But anything is possible: several big name stars such as Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford
Coppola and James Cameron started off as slave workers on Roger Corman produced B-movies .
INCREDIBLY BAD VIDEO CHEAPIES (the bottom of the heap)
HUH? A Road Warrior clone in which
leather-clad and steroid-injected Nazis battle it out in a cheap set post-apocalypse
setting. It stars Jean Claude Van Damme who, as usual, has less presence than a Cuppa
Soup. For some reason all the characters have the names of electric guitars. Plotless,
aimless . . .
DEFINING MOMENT: Things turn truly nasty when it turns into some
unpleasant sadomasochist fantasy when Gibson Rickenbacker (the character played by Van
Damme see, I told you!) is crucified by the chief baddie.
SEQUELS: Apparently two of them, but none of them starring Van Damme and
not related at all
HUH? Terminator clone in which a
half-human/half-machine cop Oliver Gruner has to foil a convoluted and muddled plot by
cyborgs (actually robots) to wrest control from humans . . .
DEFINING MOMENT: When Gruner uses two machine guns to blast a circle
around himself on the floor to fall through it, and then doing the same on the next floor,
and the same on . . .
SEQUELS: Nemesis 2 and 3.
WITHIN THE ROCK
HUH? Astronaut team has to drill hole and detonate bomb in crust of an
asteroid on collision course with earth. Things are complicated when they awaken a Predator-like alien . . .
DEFINING MOMENT: The stunt man in the rubber alien suit . . .
SEQUELS: Hopefully none.
IT CAME FROM OUTERS SPACE II
HUH? Remake of "classic" 1950s 3-D movie for the Sci-Fi
DEFINING MOMENT: The aliens arent hostile. Its a good story
(one by Ray Bradbury), but the movie is populated by unlikeable people and one
particularly annoying brat . . .
SEQUELS: Its a sequel itself in title, but is in reality a remake.
HUH? Story about kid whose dad is actually a viscous alien . . .
DEFINING MOMENT: Bad everything: music, plot, effects, makeup, acting,
SEQUELS: Xtro II and Xtro: Watch the Skies (apparently
sequels in title only)
MORE TERRIBLE VIDEO CHEAPIES
SORT-OF ENJOYABLE BAD VIDEO CLASSICS
NOT OF THIS EARTH
HUH? Remake of a 1950s Roger Corman movie in which an alien sucks blood
from hapless victims to save his dying home planet. Stars ex-porn star Traci Lords.
DEFINING MOMENT: Traci Lords topless, Traci Lords lazing next to the pool
in small bikini, Traci Lords . . .
SEQUELS: None, but yet another remake recently.
HUH? Cop Rutger Hauer seeking revenge against alien that killed off his
partner in futuristic London that is semi-submerged under water after a spot of some
bothersome global warming.
DEFINING MOMENT: Hauer in long black coat, brandishing lots of huge guns
and a penchant for lots of sugar . . .
HUH? Gremlins-like fur-balls escape from
asteroid prison with two stupid alien bountyhunters in hot pursuit . .
DEFINING MOMENT: Fur-ball gets blown away by shotgun . . . oh no,
thats it, really . . .
SEQUELS: Critters 2 The Main Course, Critters 3
HUH? Actually quite good Back to the Future/Groundhog Day-style plot crossed with standard action movie as
Kylie Travis pulls a Linda Hamilton (T2) trying to rectify events that have gone
desperately wrong but each time she keeps on making things turn out worse . . .
DEFINING MOMENT: Jim Belushi with huge lamb chops . . .
TRAPPED IN SPACE
HUH? Made-for-TV movie about astronauts en route to distant planet who
run out of oxygen. A battle for survival begins . . . (If it sounds familiar, its
because its based vaguely on an old Arthur C. Clarke story.)
DEFINING MOMENT: The poodle gets it!
Disaster In Time
MOVIES MOST OFTEN RIPPED OFF
Whatever might have been a hit a short while ago (Critters soon after Gremlins
was a hit, Nemesis soon after Terminator 2 Judgement
Starship Troopers (at the moment)
LESSONS TO BE LEARNT
Life is too short to be spent watching some dreadful straight-to-video movies. Dont
rent some in the hope that they are good usually they arent and nowadays with
all the advances in special effects few of them are truly Mystery
Science Theatre 3000 material. They are usually merely mind-numbingly dull and no
amount of beer, pizza and other substances will alter that. Rather go read a book, go on a
hike, watch the tumble dryer in action . . .