Tag Archives: Rutger Hauer

Minotaur (2006)

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“Curse the god. Slay the beast.”

Directed by Jonathan English
Starring Tom Hardy, Rutger Hauer, Ingrid Pitt, Tony Todd

It’s the Iron Age, or maybe the Bronze Age, and the powerful but decadent Minoan civilisation is collecting youths to sacrifice to the Minotaur, a big monster that lives in an underground labyrinth. Humble shepherd Theo (Tom Hardy) is upset because his love interest was sent to be eaten, but his dad (Rutger Hauer) is more worried about protecting him. When the Minoans show up, however, Theo sneaks into the tribute line and is dumped into the labyrinth together with a well-meaning sidekick, a sneering rival who does a predictable face turn, the sneering rival’s love interest, a mouthy girl, a girl who doesn’t talk at all, a crazy girl and a comedy fat guy. And maybe someone else, who knows.

Minoan queen Raphaella takes a fancy to Theo and tries to help him fight the Minotaur. Spoilers: the good guys win.

Continue reading Minotaur (2006)

Bad Movie Superstar: Albert Pyun

Opinions on director Albert Pyun are varied. The Independent Film Channel says that “(he has) carved out a unique niche as a director of low-budget, high-concept genre films starring actors past their prime”, while others call him the new Ed Wood and his frankly gushing IMDB bio (by ‘anonymous’) likens him to Jean-Luc Goddard and Sergio Leone while mourning the butchering of his unique vision by studios and producers.

For me, none of these descriptions quite fits the bill – well, apart from the bit about actors past their prime – and the best comparison to be drawn is actually with B-movie legend Roger Corman. Like Corman before him, Pyun does not have the power to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, but does know how to bash out a sow’s ear purse for even less than the little he can sell it for, while simultaneously making a second purse from the same ear on the other side of the lot.

Sword

Beginning his career in his native Hawai’i, Pyun interned with Akira Kurosawa’s cinematographer in Japan before making his directorial debut with The Sword and the Sorcerer, arguably his best movie (although still not very good). His IMDB filmography shows the recurring themes of martial arts and cyborgs (as in 1989’s Cyborg, with Jean Claude Van Damme), but he has also worked in fantasy, contemporary action (Blast, Hong Kong 97) and even the superhero genre (with 1990s Captain America). Brainsmasher… A Love Story is a rare digression into comedy, with Andrew Dice Clay’s bouncer battling some dubious Shaolin monks over a rare flower.

And how bad is he?

Well, here’s the thing. I am convinced that Albert Pyun knows how to make a good film, he just can’t seem to actually do it. Maybe the IMDB reviewer is right and he really is an avant garde genius whose work is routinely butchered by producers, but having seen Nemesis and Mean Guns, I don’t buy it; not completely, anyway. Every so often, he puts a shot together really nicely, but he always seems to manage to screw it up; if not by the end of the shot then in the next one. 

Blast
It’s the ‘with Rutger Hauer’ credit that makes it art.

Pyun has something of a stable of regular actors, including fellow son of Hawai’i Mark Dacascos, Rutger Hauer and Tim ‘Trancers’ Thomerson, who also has a long and fruitful collaboration with of another doyen of the Corman school, Charles Band, under his belt. His film-making trademarks include the money-saving ‘shoot offscreen’ technique (requiring neither expensive GSW effects nor any retakes for fluffed timings) and heavy use of coloured filters.

Also cyborgs; lots of cyborgs.  He uses a particularly notable number of cyborgs for a man who has claimed to have no interest in cyborgs.

Bad Movie Superstars: Rutger Hauer

“Maybe not such a good actor, but he looks good and will do and dare anything.” – Hauer’s reference for his breakthrough role in Floris

He was an android supersoldier built to win, not to last; he hunted Satanic rat-monsters through the flooded streets of London and held a plane hostage for Satan. He’s a Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee (well, he was in a nominated best foreign film), and tried to hit on my ex on the set of the Sam Neill-starring Arthurian event miniseries Merlin.

He is, of course, Rutger Hauer.

blade-runner-batty

Now, that picture is from back in the day, because while with some bad movie superstars there’s just no telling why they have a career, with Hauer we can say it in two words: Blade Runner. Whatever you may think about Ridley Scott’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, its status as a cult classic is unassailable, and Hauer’s depiction of a military ‘replicant’ driven to psychosis by the impending end of his purposely truncated lifespan – including the famous, largely improvised, tears in rain speech – is a big part of it. The wild eyes, the platinum-pale hair, the soft voice and barely-human body language all combine to demand to know why in the hell the only other thing he did for twenty years was a line of Guiness adverts?

The answer is that it wasn’t. Despite the fall-off of higher profile material, he’s rarely been out of work for long: just take a look at his Filmography on Wikipedia.

Of particular note are some of his European films:

  • Escape from Sobibor (1987 TV) for which he won a Golden Globe for best actor
  • Legend of the Holy Drinker (1988), which won multiple awards and nominations. Hauer won Seattle’s Golden Space Needle Award for best actor, the film won the Venice Film Festival Golden Lion (it was never released in the US unfortunately)

Pre-Blade Runner he also had two critically acclaimed collaborations with a young Dutch director named Paul Verhoeven.

  • Soldaat van Oranje (1977) (Soldier of Orange) which won the LA Film Critics Award for best foreign film, with Hauer nominated for another Golden Globe
  • Turks Fruit (1973) (Turkish Delight), which was voted best Dutch film of the the 20th century, while Hauer was voted best actor; nominated for Oscar for best foreign film

My original bad movie superstar entry for Hauer received a scathing condemnation for ignoring these works.

Also worth attention are Split Second, where Hauer battles giant rat-beasts and angry British character actors, and Ladyhawke, ill-advised electro soundtrack aside.

His big break was playing the lead in Floris, a mediaeval adventure serial directed by Verhoeven in 1969. Check this shit out:

Floris

So why, I hear you ask, is this titan of the European cinema a bad movie superstar and not the Dutch Gerard Depardieu? Well, again in two words, Albert Pyun. More expansively, a great deal of Hauer’s bad movie cache comes from his frequent collaborations with Pyun and other low-budget directors as he passed his prime, filled out from the lissom figure he cut in Blade Runner and started taking work to pay the bills (such as the Guiness ads, in which his white-blonde hair saw him costumed in black to represent a pint of Guiness).

He mostly plays grizzled veterans these days, and growls his way through roles that a lesser man might balk at. There is, it seems, no dialogue so trite that he won’t have a go at it, and he’s usually a game performer – although occasionally even he seems to be plodding through a particular stinker – whatever else may be wrong with the films he is in.

He’s also a bit of a sleaze who hit on my ex on the set of Merlin, but you can’t have everything.

From the Archive – Blast (1996)

Blast

 

Directed by Albert Pyun
Starring Linden Ashby, Andrew Divoff, Kimberly Warren and Rutger Hauer

Based on a story that might have been true if we hadn’t made all of it up, this is a rather tacky entry into the Die Hard sub-genre by Hawaiian bad movie auteur Albert Pyun.

Jack Bryant (Ashby) is a janitor working the pool complex at the Atlanta Olympics as work furlough after a prison spell for an undisclosed crime. But once he was a contender, a Tae Kwon Do bronze medallist in Barcelona, until an injury in his winning match sidelined him. But, fate deals him a chance at redemption when the US women’s swim team – coached by his ex-wife, Diane (Warren) – are taken hostage by mad terrorist Omado (Divoff), who has had a couple of bad missions and wants to prove to the terrorist community at large that he’s still got it. With all of the security guards dead, only Bryant can save the day, with the external assistance of European Security Consultant, Colonel Leo (Oscar-nomine and Golden Globe-winner Hauer).

What’s wrong with it?

Well, to start with the obvious, this is an absolute knock-off of Die Hard, just set in an Olympic swimming pool. Man tries to talk to his ex-wife, ends up the only man left free in a terrorist controlled building. He has to take out the terrorists one at a time, while his wife gamely tries to protect the other hostages. Damn it, we even have our hero limping around – from his old injury, rather than from walking on broken glass, but still – and the wife’s slime-ball coaching partner selling everyone out for his own freedom, then getting shot by the bad guys anyway.

Alas, Linden Ashby – while an affable and fairly charismatic lead – is no Bruce Willis (not that Willis was before Die Hard), or at least is not given a John McClane of a role (for starters it’s been done before now). Moreover, Andrew Divoff – the genie in Wishmaster – is certainly no Alan Rickman, and Rutger Hauer is in pigtails.

What’s right with it?

Good question. Not much really. This film fails to deliver on almost every level.

How bad is it really?

Bad, but not to the point of being actively painful, which is pretty much damning with faint praise.

Best bit?

Nothing is interesting enough to spring to mind.

What’s up with…?

  • The Olympic security contractors responding to terrorist threats by issuing security passes without photos?
  • The intro which claims the story is based on events which could have been true if a terrorist threat against the Olympics hadn’t been nipped in the bud, and the janitor had been a kung fu bad-ass? It’s frankly pretty silly.
  • The meticulous terrorist a) gratuitously gunning down potential hostages for shits and grins, and b) stating that the two janitors unaccounted for ‘aren’t important’? He’s rigging the whole building to explode if anyone tries the doors, and he reckons two people wandering around ‘aren’t important’.
  • The terrorist with a detonator hidden under his skin, having somehow got it in there without leaving a scar?
  • Rutger Hauer’s pigtailed euro-soldier security consultant?
  • Albert Pyun? I mean, here’s the thing: He keeps making films that are this close to being pretty good, and yet in the end they almost inevitably blow.
  • The ‘freelance terrorist’? It’s like a career for this guy, and the Olympic hit is designed to take out the President, more or less so he can put it on his CV. There’s also some concept of a terrorist community, like Al Quaeda and the Real IRA get together on weekend retreats and swap tips on bombing and AK-47 maintenance.

Ratings

Production Values – For a film about terrorist bombers, even the explosions are kind lame. The props budget was also plainly very limited, as the terrorists all run around with handguns; not an Uzi or AK-47 between them, and those things are pretty easy to get hold of… So I understand. The camerawork borders on competence in a way that really only aggravates. 13

Dialogue and Performances – Workmanlike performances fail to cover a pretty patchy script, and Andrew Divoff sadly comes off as more of a sleaze-bag than a terrifying, cold-blooded terrorist. Everyone suffers from the inevitable comparisons to Die Hard, which is the fault of the script for creating such direct parallels more than the actors. 16

Plot and Execution – The plot loses points, big-time, for being almost a scene-by-scene rehash of Die Hard, only nowhere near as good. The execution has Albert Pyun’s trademark moments of genius, punctuating acres of cack-handed misdelivery. 15

Randomness – Pretty low-level, except that the whole plot makes no damn sense. 8

Waste of Potential – Die Hard plotline, a little Tae Kwon Do; it could have been good. Not great, mind you, but certainly an enjoyable ninety minutes in which to disengage the old brain. But no. 16

Overall 68%

From the Archive – Hemoglobin (aka Bleeders) (1997)

Hemoglobin

It’s in the blood

Directed by Peter Svatek
Starring Rutger Hauer and Roy Dupuis

Way back when, Eva van Daam (described by the narrator as ‘one of the great narcissists’) screws her own twin brother as its the nearest she can get to screwing herself (as you do), thus getting her entire noble family booted out of Holland. They emigrate to the New World, perhaps hoping to find tolerance for their weird, incestuous ways in Fife, Alabama or something, where the family peters out and vanishes. Henceforth the movie drops any trace of potential which this premise might have held.

Flash forward to the now, and John Strauss (Dupuis) – a weird, pale, photosensitive guy with haemophilia, mismatched eyes and a mysterious trust fund – is travelling to an island to trace his roots, accompanied by his wife, a trained nurse, and presumably his full-time carer. He is dying of a congenital blood defect, and wants to find out if he has any family who know what it is and how to treat it. No one seems to know much about him, until he meets the old nurse on the island. She tells him that his family – the van Daams, natch – went into hiding underground when the islanders burned their house down because they were so very weird, but that they sent him away because he was different; because he was normal. He does however have these odd cravings, but she won’t tell him what for. She is then killed by a legless troll that leaps out of the cupboard and bashes her spine in.

Hi. This is our villain, not some sort of subhuman lackey. If you thought we were in for vampires, I have to disappoint you.

Meanwhile, the local undertaker and entrepreneur has been accused of making substandard coffins, so the entire cemetery is being dug up and shipped to the mainland for reburial, as you do. Almost immediately, people start to disappear, and the islanders – led by Dr Marlowe (Oscar-nominee and Golden Globe-winner Hauer) discover that the van Daams’ freakish, subterranean, hermaphrodite, troll-thing descendants are responsible.

It turns out that the van Daams became so inbred that they were forced to consume the embalmed flesh of the recently buried in order to survive, because of course horrific inbreeding leads inevitably to a terrible formaldehyde dependency. Now there are no more corpses in the graveyard – that’s right; I said formaldehyde dependency – they have turned to the flesh of the living in desperation – no, not blood, not flesh, formaldehyde – hence the disappearances.

As they hate light, Marlowe gets the islanders together in a lighthouse – and also saves Strauss by telling him about the formaldehyde, and giving him a pickled van Daam baby in a jar to eat – but of course the power goes out. A small number of islanders are killed, before the van Dam trolls’ tunnels collapse, leaving Strauss to rejoin his family and cop off with his hermaphrodite twin sister, and his wife to leave the island with their unborn child. She seems very excited about the pregnancy considering she’s likely to give birth to a congenital formaldehyde drinker, but I guess that’s the hormones talking.

What’s wrong with it?

Well, for starters, there’s the formaldehyde issue. Then there’s the van Daams themselves. Being a bunch of stunted, hermaphrodite formaldehyde eating weirdoes just isn’t nearly as interesting, or as frightening, or as creepy, as them being inbred, anaemic, haemophiliac vampires, and frankly they look like Yoda’s evil twins most of the time. Most of the time, you wonder why the islanders don’t just kick the across the room, since it doesn’t look like it would be that difficult. They barely even manage to be nasty; John the weirdo is a dozen times creepier, with the unknown urges, and the trying to rape his pregnant wife, and the eating of the foetus in formaldehyde.

The villagers, meanwhile, are such a pack of gripless wasters that you just want more of them to get eaten. Even when they have guns, they just stand around and watch their loved ones get dragged away.

The film ends with no real conclusion or closure, and with no explanation of a) how the trolls apparently continue to survive without the formaldehyde, and b) why the islanders don’t have them gassed like rabbits as soon as the film is over.

And there’s bad movie sex. Twice. Including the touching ‘my husband just ate a baby in formaldehyde and he tried to rape me yesterday, so I must have him’ sex scene.

Also, Rutger Hauer provides the acting highlights. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

On a more technical note, as well as the trolls looking naff, the lighting is rubbish. I suppose it’s meant to be moody, but it’s just dark really. A couple of gratuitous sweeping aerial shots aside (I guess they hired a helicopter and wanted to get their money’s worth, said fellow BMM Reviewer Simon Drake), the direction is pretty lacklustre, and while there’s a competent – if occasionally grating – score, the dialogue is so mumbled that two out of three viewers failed to note at all that the wife was pregnant, and I only picked it up by inference.

What’s right with it?

Nada.

How bad is it really?

This film is an utter and abject turd. There’s a reason that it got its own page on the original site, and that is that not even a Mark Dacascos movie deserves to be on the same page as this stink bomb. I mean, I’ve seen some real tripe in my time, but this film was just stunningly bad. The film is nasty in all the wrong ways, but not even nasty enough to get a decent squirm. It’s also cheaply exploitative, including a gratuitous tit shot on a hanging corpse for crying out loud. There is nothing about this vile piece of celluloid excrement that is done right.

Best bit?

Ba-ha! Bwahahahahahahahaaaaaa! BWAAAAAH-HAHAHAHAAAAA!

BWAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!

Hem. Sorry. No; there isn’t a best bit.

What’s up with?

Where to start…? Oh yes:

  • The formaldehyde vampires? Not scary, guys. I mean, come on; how could you think they would be? “We have come for your embalming fluid!” Just doesn’t rate alongside “We come to drink your blood!” It’s just not as scary if it can be conveniently shop bought.
  • The doctor telling the freakish John that he needs to eat embalmed flesh, then giving him a baby van Daam in a jar to eat!? I mean, what’s up with that?
  • The gratuitous sex scene, in the middle of the whole “they’re coming to eat us” panic?
  • The title? Why not call it: Formaldehyde? It’s not about haemoglobin; and it certainly isn’t about bleeders; Strauss is the only haemophilliac in the film.
  • How come John turned out normal? And how come his twin sister looked fairly normal, even if she was actually a hermaphrodite? I mean, they were very normal, given that the rest of the family had been deformed trolls for generations.

Ratings

Production Values – Poor to barely adequate. The lighting is inadequate (no doubt they felt ‘subdued’), the sound balance is for shit, and the direction is poor. Oh, and lest we forget, the van Daam trolls look like Yoda’s evil twin. 17

Dialogue and Performances – Rutger Hauer takes the acting honours (in English), which should tell you how bad everyone else was. There’s bugger all in the way of emoting, and some half-hearted screams. Plus a whole lot of dead frames where the actors stand there and wait for something bad to happen to them, although that’s really the director’s fault, I guess. 19

Plot and Execution – If stunted, hermaphrodite, inbred, formaldehyde-drinking trolls constitute a plot, then my face is red, and this film was down there with the best of them. The execution was still off though, with the pacing being rubbish and the exposition non-existent or nonsensical. 19

Randomness – Inbred, hermaphrodite, formaldehyde-dependent trolls. Lost scions. All the corpses on the island being dug up because they were in substandard coffins. Huh? 19

Waste of Potential – Creepy inbred vampires have a lot of potential in the horror department, but the minute you make them into formaldehyde dependent trolls instead of effete, Byronesque sociopaths, you lose it all, you really do. 19

Overall 93%

From the Archive – Split Second (1992)

second

 

Directed by Tony Maylam and Ian Sharp
Starring Rutger Hauer, Neil Duncan and Kim Catrall

Maverick US cop Holly Stone (Hauer), assigned to the Metropolitan Police Force in a flooded London, plagued by huge sewer rats, is haunted by the death of his partner and the serial killer he never caught. When he believes the killer has returned, he is partnered with clean cut, tight-buttoned, Oxford psych graduate Detective Dick Durkin (Duncan) to catch the man. Thing is, as hearts with giant tooth-prints in them start being delivered to the Police Station full of British character actors, it looks increasingly as though the killer is not a man at all. 

With time running out, and the late partner’s widow, Michelle (Catrall) – also Stone’s ex-lover – complicating things, the two mismatched plods must conquer their mutual antagonism, load up on caffeine, sugar, and really big fucking guns, and go down into the flooded Underground to kill the beast that would be Satan.

What’s wrong with it?

Well, Oscar-nominee and Golden Globe-winner Rutger Hauer for a start, acting as wooden as ever he does in English, bless him. Also Kim Catrall; much the same, but without the stellar career in the Dutch legitimate film industry. The plot is a little spotty, and the big monster isn’t really explained at any point (unless it is Satan).

What’s right with it?

The transformation of the buttoned-down Durkin into a highly-caffeinated bundle of neuroses like Stone is a joy to behold. The film is sharp and funny, and the support playing – by the usual pack of British character actors, including an about to be famous Pete Postelthwaite – is actually really good.

There are also big f*@king guns.

How bad is it really?

If you don’t own this film, you should buy it. Seriously. It’s trash, but it’s just so good.

Best bit?

Where to start? There’s the hysterical Superintendent (Alun Armstrong) asking if they want an APB put out on Lucifer, or Dick Durkin trying to shoot the rat with an assault shotgun (“You shot my kitchen, that’s what!”).

Or there’s this exchange:
“I’m surprised you don’t have a grenade launcher.”
“Couldn’t get a permit.”

But ultimately, the prize must belong to the “we need bigger f*@king guns” scene, as our heroes get hyper on coffee and chocolate and tool up for a showdown with evil.
“Now, we get bigger guns.”
“Hallelujah.”

What’s up with…?

  • The DNA-stealing, seven-foot tall, bullet proof, psychic, heart-eating, soul-stealing, metal-shredding thing? I mean, really?
  • Knights in White Satin? Not just why is it in this film; why is it? What’s up with it? It’s a weird song.

Ratings

Production Values – Actually pretty shiny, if not too excessive. The monster just looks like a guy in a big rubber suit, but isn’t on display too much. 8

Dialogue and Performances – The dialogue is actually pretty snappy. Hauer and Catrall both have the delivery of a cricket bat, but for what it’s worth, Catrall give a career best, and Hauer only tops this performance (in English) with Blade Runner. Neil Duncan really steals the show as Detective Dick “That wasn’t a him, that was a f*@king it!” Durkin, closely followed by Alun Armstrong’s harried commissioner. 7

Plot and Execution – Better than most by a considerable margin, although the direction does tend a little towards the dark and invisible. 11

Randomness – Enough that the film stops making sense about half-way through, but also the right kind that you stop caring at pretty much the same point. 10

Waste of Potential – Hell no. This is – without question – the single best film ever made about angry, hyperactive cops chasing a giant, Satanic rat-mutant that has been terrorising a flooded London in the aftermath of global warming. 0

Overall 35%

From the Archive – Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

Buffy

“Sometimes it takes more than just good looks to kill.”

Directed by Fran Rubel Kuzai
Starring Kristy Swason, Luke Perry and Rutger Hauer

High school cheerleader Buffy Summers (Swanson) discovers that she is The Slayer, the one girl in her generation gifted with the superhuman strength and agility to battle against the vampires. She is trained by Merrick (Donald Sutherland), the Watcher. Unfortunately, the Slayer has been pursued through the centuries by Lothos (Hauer), the most powerful vampire of all, and he has brought his vampire minions to her sleepy LA suburb in search of her.

As if that were not obstacle enough, Buffy herself would rather be getting ready to go to the prom than fighting the undead.

Merrick is killed trying to protect his charge from Lothos, leaving Buffy to face up to her responsibilities, with only the hapless biker-trash Pike (Perry) to help her. In a climactic showdown, Buffy is almost overcome by Lothos’s hypnotic powers, but finds her strength again because he can only do the mind-whammy when there’s music playing (huh?), and defeats him.

Five years later, writer Joss Whedon creates a TV series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that is superior in almost every respect.

What’s wrong with it?

Basically, it’s a travesty before its model. The TV series of Buffy has managed to maintain its momentum over 100 episodes, while the movie struggles to make 100 minutes. Joss Whedon’s witty, affectionately satirical script has somehow been reduced to a single joke (she’s a vampire Slayer, called Buffy), and populated with bizarrely ineffectual and deeply unintimidating villains. Oscar-nominee and Golden Globe-winner Rutger Hauer chews on the scenery, and Paul Reubens as his senior hench-vamp is a weasely clown, although they are both at least along for the ride. Actually, they’d both be great, if only the whole film was outrageously camp, but it isn’t.

And then there’s the great Donald Sutherland. According to an interview with Whedon, Donald Sutherland insisted on rewriting his lines to the point that the meaning was almost entirely lost. You barely notice, because he is a great actor, but as he is the source of all exposition, it leaves the rest of the plot hanging lost. It does leave one wondering if this, one of Whedon’s early efforts as a solo writer, was lacking something, but I suspect that we will never know. The comic book adaptation sparkled more, but who can say how much of that was down to post-series revision by the more mature Whedon?

What’s right with it?

Well, much of the film is pretty funny, and while much of it has just the one joke, it does do it rather well. It’s decently made, and – aside from a few rampant hams – decently acted, but it could have been so much more.

How bad is it really?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is really quite watchable, and in places promises to become something very sweet indeed. Of course, eventually it does: Five years later when the central concept got turned into a TV show. In fact, if not for the TV show, I might give the film a better write-up, but as it is, I can only look, and mourn for what might have been.

Best Bit

Tapping, a la Salem’s Lot, on Pike’s window, a newly turned vamp (David Arquette) tries to secure the all important invitation to enter. “I’m hungry,” he pleads. “You’re floating!” Pike points out, alarmed.

Or Paul Reubens’ line: “You ruined my jacket. Kill him a lot.”

What’s up with…?

  • The whole musical hypnosis thing? What would have happened if Lothos’s band had let him down one evening? Or if he’d brought a ghetto blaster to the showdown with Buffy, just in case?

Ratings

Production Values – Dated outfits notwithstanding, the production values aren’t too bad, although ‘flying Lothos’ is fairly visibly on strings. 8

Dialogue and Performances – The script veers between sharp one-liners, slick exchanges, and monumentally garbled exposition. No-one in the film actually acts badly, but the performances are all over the place. It is almost as if everyone is in a different movie, and were all cut together digitally. 5

Plot and Execution – Fairly solid, but it suffers from a mangled finale. In addition, it is neither as funny, nor as scary as it could be. However, the greatest failing in the direction is that the various actors are able to be at such dramatic odds in their performances without being reigned in. Luke Perry and Kristy Swanson are in a teen movie and playing it straight down the line, while Donald Sutherland is in something terribly portentous, and Rutger Hauer and Paul Ruebens are in the Rocky Horror Show. the film would have been so much better for just a little more directorial control. 12

Randomness – Aside from that music thing, pretty good, but as that’s the climax of the film, it’s a pretty big random spot, especially as Buffy only works it out when the music stops and Lothos loses control. She doesn’t puzzle out his weakness and use it to defeat him; she just gets lucky, and that’s a big let down in a final showdown of this sort. 10

Waste of Potential – We can but be glad that we have had a second chance to see the potential that this film squandered. 15

Overall – 50%

From the Archive – Omega Doom (1996)

OMega

Directed by Albert Pyun
Starring Rutger Hauer and Shannon Whirry

You can hear the pitch: “It’s Yojimbo/A Fistful of Dollars. With robots!”

A gang of servo-hissing, electric, killer breakdancers engage in a good, old-fashioned Mexican stand-off against a clique of reverb-voiced, moody, lethal proto-Goth New Romantics over a cache of guns supposedly buried under a patch of post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Rutger Hauer, as a robot reprogrammed by what appears to be a bunch of druids to protect a resurgent humanity from the robot gangs, enters the fray. As an ‘Upgraded Model 5.5’ he is half-way between the older ‘droids’ (breakdancers) and the more sophisticated ‘roms’ (proto-Goths), and plays the two gangs off against each other, aided by a talking head and a robot bartender.

What’s wrong with it?

The direction in Omega Doom is pretty lacklustre. The tension-building shots are overlong and do less to build tension than to breed boredom. Perhaps an effective score would have helped here, but there isn’t one. All of the music is pretty forgettable really. Also, while the relative brevity of the film is perhaps something to be grateful for, it rather does away with the slow-burning nature of the essential story.

What right with it?

The different robot factions – droids, roms and drones – are nicely distinguished in terms of look, although the droids are never given much to do. The idea is also not without merit, and the film hides a great deal of potential behind its facile surface. As is often the case however, the presence of such potential in such a fundamentally misbegotten film is more of a points against than for.

How bad is it really?

Pretty poor.

Best bit?

There really, really isn’t one.

What’s up with…?

  • The funky energy-knife things? They seem pretty lethal; why is everyone so hung up about getting guns? Moreover, we’re never given any kind of idea what they are.

Ratings

Production Values – Not bad over all. There isn’t much in the way of special effects, aside from a few energy blasts and a bunch of mechanical hissing and reverb, but this is definitely to the film’s – ultimately wasted – benefit. The sound quality isn’t great, meaning that much of the dialogue is indecipherable, although some might see this as a redeeming feature. 7

Dialogue and Performances – Pretty naf. Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning Rutger Hauer not at his worst, but certainly pretty damned wooden. Second-billed Shannon Whirry – following fellow former soft-core porno actresses Tracy Lords and Shannon Tweed in a bizarre bid to become respectable via tacky DTV action movies and thrillers – is almost completely without expression, and while Anna Katarina and William Zieggler as the Bartender and the Head show some talent, they aren’t given much to work with. The remainder of the cast are acceptable, but absolutely nothing to write home about. The script isn’t great and is filled with bizarre snippets of pseudo-philosophy, which detract more than they add to the atmosphere. 12

Plot and Execution – It’s as if having made the pitch, no further work went into the plot. There’s almost no characterisation either, so we don’t really care much who lives and who dies. The duels all tend to involve over-long staring matches (maybe not so long as in Fistful of Dollars, but then they don’t have an Ennio Morricone soundtrack, and that makes a whole lot of difference), and because there isn’t much of an effect for the funky plasma knives they fight with, they tend to be shot so that the impact point is obscured, and all we really see is a flash of light just off the screen. It might also have been nice to have some attempt to explain what these weapons are and how they work. The worst thing about the execution of the film is that it seems to be the major stumbling block for an otherwise fair concept. 18

Randomness – Well, in a lot of ways the whole damn film is pretty random, but often in a good way. While the breakdancers vs. new romantics shtick is a bit weird, in aesthetic terms it does actually kind of work. On the other hand, we are given no real explanation as to why Omega Doom was reprogrammed by druids (I mean; druids?), and in fact we only know he’s called Omega Doom from an opening and closing narration. In the film itself he calls himself Guardian Angel, which makes it sound like he should be a futuristic interceptor pilot chick in a white catsuit. 16

Waste of Potential – Hell yeah. The film has solid potential, bearing a tried-and-tested storyline, with a perfectly workable twist. And it has nothing much going for it. Could most definitely try harder. 18.

Overall – 61%