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I'll be taking a few days off from blogging to attend the annual Wizard World Chicago convention. It's something I do just about every year, along with my brother and our childhood friend, and it never fails to be a good time. Three days of comics, comics and comics, with a bit of movies, TV and even wrestling thrown in.
I've been taking it easy this vacation. I've gotten out a lot less than I had expected or hoped to, but I have been enjoying just doing nothing. The first day, I managed to do all my laundry, which is a rarity for me. I mean all of it--whites, darks, towels, sheets, everything. Not a shred of dirty laundry in the hamper or anywhere else. I've also managed to watch a few movies and discard several videotapes by dubbing their contents to DVD-R. In the process, I've managed to find a few gems I've forgotten about, like a tape filled with STAR TREK episodes from WCEE-TV in Mt. Vernon. It isn't the TREK shows that are important, but the WCEE (or C-13) broadcasts. C-13 is one of the worst TV stations I've ever seen. Their signal was murky and streaked, and their TREK and M*A*S*H reruns were terrible prints, all faded and cracked. Their locally produced promos and commercials were cheap-looking, and they broadcast the worst local newscast I can imagine. It was worse than the student newscasts I used to work on when I was in college, and we were just unpaid student staffers.
I also found a tape of THE GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E. reruns I recorded during Stefanie Powers' birthday on TNT. One episode, which I've never seen, guest-starred Boris Karloff--in drag!--as the villain and MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. star Robert Vaughn crossing over as Napoleon Solo. I also found the Sci-Fi Channel's original broadcast of the "Spock's Brain" episode of STAR TREK. I should do a future post about "Spock's Brain", one of the show's most notorious and most hilarious episodes. The Sci-Fi Channel made a big deal about broadcasting STAR TREK several years back, since they were airing uncut episodes, not the syndicated versions that were missing several minutes of footage to provide more time for commercials. Sci-Fi aired the episodes uncut all right, but in 90-minute time slots with an overwhelming number of commercial breaks. Whereas each episode was originally constructed with a teaser and four acts, Sci-Fi cut them up into ten different acts! So they were airing commercials about every six or seven minutes. Ridiculous.
Big John Matuszak (6’8”) was already dead from AIDS by the time his big film break, 1989's ONE MAN FORCE, was released by James Glickenhaus’ company. “Tooz”, a former Oakland Raider, had plenty of acting roles under his belt, including THE ICE PIRATES and a regular gig on 1ST AND TEN, but this was his first time as a leading man. His gonzo acting style, coupled with some wild stunts and chase scenes coordinated by Spiro Razatos, provides this minor action picture with the ingredients for a good time. Badass L.A. cop Jake Swan (Matuszak) is pretty pissed when his partner (Sam Jones of FLASH GORDON) is killed in a raid gone bad. So pissed that he--literally--tears the city apart looking for the killers, causing so much mayhem that his boss (Ronny Cox of ROBOCOP) suspends him. Jake gets his P.I. license in order to make some dough on the side, and lands a case tracking a kidnapped rock star (Stacey Q). It goes without saying in a film like this that the two cases will eventually intersect. Tooz is pretty out of control, throwing refrigerators and Pepsi machines at the bad guys, and screaming his lines whenever Jake gets mad. Intimidating? You bet. Writer/producer/director Dale Trevillion’s script is nothing special--in fact, the “twist” at the end is such a cliche that it would only have been a twist if it hadn’t occurred--but there‘s an action scene every five minutes or so to keep you amused. Cult favorites Richard Lynch, Charles Napier, Sharon Farrell, Robert Tessier and Buck Flower lend their support.
Somebody at Full Moon Entertainment really loved giant robots. Either that or ROBOT JOX and CRASH AND BURN were just really successful. David Allen and Jim Danforth provide some nifty stop-motion visual effects in 1993's ROBOT WARS, a tame PG sci-fi movie about a hotshot robot pilot (Don Michael Paul, who went on to write HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN!) who transports passengers across the desert in a giant walking robot scorpion. It’s hijacked by a Chinese general (Danny Kamekona), so Paul and his reluctant love interest (Barbara Crampton) have to explore beneath the city to find an old, abandoned giant robot that was buried there decades before. The robot fighting doesn’t occur until the final reel. Up to that time, director Albert Band provides us with some fun FX, breezy performances and a sturdy score by David Arkenstone. I would just as soon as had more robot fighting though. Lippy Lisa Rinna is also in it as Barbara's horny pal. It’s only about 72 minutes long, and the Paramount tape includes an issue of Full Moon’s video magazine, VIDEOZONE, that includes trailers, a behind-the-scenes look at ROBOT WARS and Charlie Spradling (PUPPET MASTER II) modeling a Full Moon T-shirt.