Full Eclipse (1993)

Full Eclipse (1993)- * * *1\2

Directed by: Anthony Hickox

Starring: Mario Van Peebles, Patsy Kensit, Jason Beghe, and Dean Norris

Max Dire (Van Peebles) is one of the best and bravest officers on the LAPD. You might even say he has a talent for getting out of DIRE situations with MAXIMUM firepower (see, that’s why they pay us the big bucks, heh heh). Because of his stellar track record as a crimefighter on the mean streets, he attracts the attention of Adam Garou (Payne), a mysterious man who wants Max to join his gang of underground vigilantes to clean up the streets in their own way. They even use a mysterious drug to give them superhuman powers. At first, Max is reluctant, but the clever Adam has Casey Spencer (Kensit) seduce Max onto his squad. The conflicted Max tries to make the best of the team of unkillable vigilante werewolves (how often do you get to say that phrase?), but in the end must face his demons on his own terms. Can he do it before the FULL ECLIPSE?

We thoroughly enjoyed Full Eclipse. It’s a lot of fun, and delivers everything you want. There’s a lot to love and appreciate about this movie - not only is it a solid action movie in its own right, but it puts a nice spin on the cop/action drama. It even puts a spin on the vigilante movie, which we especially liked, because we love those, generally speaking, and if you add in werewolves, it’s hard to lose. Another plus was the use of real, practical effects, no CGI garbage. And the great cast ties it all together, along with the fast-paced direction of Hickox.

Mario Van Peebles was terrific as Dire: not only is he a quality 90’s coolguy with his ever-changing beard stubble, loose ties and sunglasses, but you can feel his conflict as it relates to the unfolding werewolf situation. On top of that, he shines in the action sequences, as he fires two guns while diving through the air in slow motion, in true John Woo style. The opening “punks take over the dance club” sequence was indeed a movie highlight. Fan favorite Bruce Payne matches him, giving a totally committed performance. Sadly, only fans like us (and by us I mean not just US, but you reading this as well) will appreciate this - Payne receives no awards, never gets to chat on the late night shows, but is far more competent than many that do.

The whole thing is classic 90’s; just the type of thing you’d see on the pay-cable channels or in the video stores of the day. So while this even has a dash of the then-current “homie movie” (there is a drive-by shooting and Van Peebles has a tendency to say “yo yo yo”), Full Eclipse, in general, is a cut above the average DTV film, in our opinion. The only bad thing is that this was a point in time when annoying pop-culture references were starting to pop up in characters’ dialogue.

But the 80’s weren’t that far behind, as you know that Dire’s partner, who says he’s “getting married”, is “too old”, and is nervous and complaining a lot, that he’s not long for this world. Full Eclipse, in general, is the next logical step up from Wolfen (1981), and the outing in general is never dull. It sports a killer concept, and a nice execution that lives up to it. We recommend it.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


Steel and Lace (1991)

Steel and Lace (1991)- * * *

Directed by: Ernest D. Farino

Starring: Michael Cerveris, Clare When, Stacy Haiduk, Brian Backer, John J. York, Paul Leiber, Scott Burkholder, David Naughton, and Bruce Davison

When super-evil businessman Emerson (Cerveris) rapes a sensitive concert pianist named Gaily Morton (Wren), and thanks to the false testimony of his buddies/baddies Norman, Craig, Oscar and Toby (Backer, York, Lieber and Burkholder, respectively), Emerson gets off scot-free at the trial, and poor Gaily commits suicide. Luckily, her brother Albert Morton (Davison) is a creepy and obsessive robotics technician. Albert rebuilds Gaily but this time outfits her with cool weaponry and a drive for revenge. She then goes after the team of evildoers that wronged her. Meanwhile, Detective Dunn (Naughton) is on the case of the mutilated men. Thanks to the help of his girlfriend Alison (Haiduk of Yesterday’s Target (1996) fame) - who is an artist and was working as a courtroom sketch artist at the time of the original trial - Dunn is closing in fast. But will Dunn stop the Morton siblings from completing their revenge mission? Or will Emerson and his gang get away with it? Find out today!

Steel and Lace sports a very cool concept: a cybernetic rape-revenge thriller that crosses Robocop (1987) with I Spit on Your Grave (1978). The whole outing is perfect for the video stores of the early 90’s. Movies like The Terminator (1984) and Eve of Destruction (1991) were renting heavily (OK, just go with us on that last example) - so why wouldn’t you want to see a beautiful woman getting revenge on some baddies and boring through their chest cavities with a robotic drill? Any teenager would have been thrilled, and now any teenagers-at-heart should equally appreciate what Steel and Lace is trying to do. The end result is entertaining and enjoyable. You gotta love it.

Cerveris is appropriately boo-able and hiss-able as the ponytailed main baddie. As if rape, extortion and racketeering weren’t enough, he’s just not a very nice guy. It’s kind of a dead giveaway that you’re evil if the logo for your company is a globe with a sinister-looking hand clutching it, done up in an ominous shade of red. And you spend a lot of time in an “evil boardroom” (you’ll know it when you see it). It’s all part of the comic book-like fun. Let’s not forget we’re dealing with a cyber-revenge robot chick. On the side of the good guys we have not just the reliable David Naughton, but there’s a wacky M.E. named Herb that almost steals the show. (if there is a wacky M.E. on board, odds are his name will be Herb).

Our hats go off to SOTA FX for creating the robot and gore effects which were, well, effective. Released by Fries Home Video, iff you liked Peacemaker (1990) - which was also put out by Fries - you’ll surely like Steel and Lace. We recommend it.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, The Video Vacuum!