Moving Target (1988)

Moving Target (1988)- * * *

Directed by: Marius Mattei

Starring: Linda Blair, Janine Lindemulder, Charles Pitt, Kurt Woodruff, Stuart Whitman, Gabriella Giorgelli, and Ernest Borgnine

“Someone’s shootin’ at us!” - Van Driver

When her boyfriend is shot in the head by a mysterious assailant dressed in black leather and wearing a motorcycle helmet, the beautiful Allison Spencer (Lindemulder) goes on the run. After suffering some form of amnesia after the boyfriend-shooting incident, she ends up going to live with a man who may or may not be related to her - tennis star Perry Spencer (Pitt). This is to the dismay of Perry’s girlfriend, Dr. Sally Tyler (Blair), who initially treated Allison. Meanwhile, Captain Morrison  (Borgnine) and his awesome partner (Woodruff) are trying to solve the case of the dead boyfriend, the girl with amnesia and the armed killer stalking the streets of Miami. He’s also trying to figure out how the gangster Joe Frank (what? No Reynolds?) (Whitman) plays into this whole scenario. What will happen?

This particular Moving Target (not to be confused with the Dudikoff or Don The Dragon movies of the same name) is total video store shelf-filler of the highest (or possibly lowest?) order. The 80’s were an amazing time when all you had to do was corral a few stars, such as Ernest Borgnine, Linda Blair and Stuart Whitman, guarantee them a paycheck, and then, voila, your movie is in video stores across America and the world. It was a unique time never to be repeated - a world in which Borgnine, Blair, and Janine Lindemulder could appear in a scene together and nobody bats an eyelash. There’s no question that the camera loves Janine, and Moving Target, if it’s nothing else, is an unabashed celebration of her beauty. While she’s credited as Janine Linde (perhaps someone thought the “Mulder” was too much for audiences to wrap their heads around...which is ironic considering the popularity of the X-Files shortly thereafter in the 90’s), fans who didn’t know she had a pre-porn acting career need to check out this movie.

So when director Marius Mattei put all his eggs in the B-star basket, he forgot to concentrate on just about everything else that directors normally concentrate on. While less forgiving viewers might condemn Moving Target for being shoddy and incoherent, we truly celebrate the priceless line readings and actor reactions Mattei captures. You know you’re in for something special when the movie starts with a meatheaded moron in a leopard-print speedo chasing Janine around an apartment. It then goes to a TV news reporter named Billie Cody (Giorgelli) who can barely speak English. Surely when she was hired at the TV station, her bosses figured the best way to win the trust of audiences is to get a reporter with an impenetrable Italian accent. You see it all the time. Not to mention her cameraman Chico, who wears some seriously rad necklaces. Then we go to Stuart Whitman in a tracksuit (shades of Bo Svenson in The Kill Reflex?) and that brings us to our “hero”, Perry...

Perry now runs a tennis school named Perry Spencer’s Tennis Clinic, which apparently does well - well enough to keep him in Veryfine juice, anyway - but they only have one tarp sign advertising the place. He dresses in tennis whites ALL the time, and his remote control-handling skills give Marion Cobretti a run for his money. He has amazing shorts. He doesn’t really have a finished haircut, it’s more of an asymmetrical hair pile. It’s easy to see why Allison is so attracted to him.

As for the music, it helps the movie: the opening tune, “One More Try” by Dee Lewis helps set the mood and the “totally 80’s” vibe. The main keyboard theme of the film sounds suspiciously like “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” and you think at any moment you might hear an anguished Steve Perry do his trademark “Ohhhhhhhh!!!!!” Well, someday love will find you. That seems to be the message of Moving Target, after all. Hurting the movie is the fact that Perry is supposed to be the hero, when it should have been Borgnine’s partner, who exudes cool from every pore. The man was totally snubbed. Helping the movie is the time-honored disco scene, and the constantly naked Janine, including some pre-Baywatch slow motion beach running.

Moving Target isn’t likely to be appreciated by too many people - but they’ve got to be out there. VHS junkies should try giving this movie some love.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Nightforce (1987)

Nightforce (1987)- * * *

Directed by: Lawrence D. Foldes

Starring: Linda Blair, James Van Patten, Claudia Udy, Chad McQueen, Casey King, Bruce Fisher, Dean Miller, James Marcel, Cameron Mitchell, Richard Lynch, and Rambo The Monkey as Pin

Christy Hansen (Udy) is a beautiful equestrian rider who seemingly has the perfect life: she’s about to marry Bob Worthington (King), a member of the prestigious and wealthy Worthington family. (Don’t they even sound rich?) - the only problem is, she’s in love with Bob’s rough-and-tumble brother Steve (Van Patten). She thinks this is the worst problem in her life, until she’s kidnapped and held captive by the San Felipe Anarchist Army. They’re a south of the border terrorist organization led by the sinister Estoban (Fisher) who doesn’t at all resemble any Cuban dictators we might know, and his army of thugs. Getting the typical run-around and red tape from the government - which includes Christy’s own father, Senator Adam Hansen (Mitchell) - Christy’s friends decide to become a makeshift mercenary force and go and rescue her themselves. Despite having no experience in the violent arts, the aforementioned Steve, plus Henry (McQueen), Eddie (Miller), Mack (Marcel) and Carla (Blair) attempt the rescue mission nevertheless. Along their treacherous way, they meet the mysterious but extremely helpful Vietnam vet Bishop (Lynch). Will this ragtag band of amateur vigilantes rescue their friend? Dare you find out?

A very impressive B-movie cast filled with fan favorites just kind of wade around in the mush of this colorless outing. It starts off in a very disjointed manner, and steadily becomes a more coherent, but more standard exploding hut/fruit cart chase actioner that doesn’t really offer anything new for diehard action fans. Sure, the opening bit has plenty of slow-motion mindless shooting set to the synthesized main theme and you think “this has promise”. but then a certain blandness and repetition sets in. 80’s staples such as the disco scene and aerobics help matters, but not enough to save the movie in its entirety. The movie needed more Cam Mitchell, who basically does a “sit-down” role. Chad McQueen brandishes a rocket launcher, and, after some initial fears, he does indeed maintain his trademark: no sleeves. McQueen’s arms must always be unencumbered by any form of cloth.

Richard Lynch puts in a likable performance, and he even plays the flute and has a pet monkey. Where else but here will you see the movie credit “Rambo the monkey as Pin”? Pin, or should we say Rambo, wears camo pants like the rest of the cast. His performance really stands out. Van Patten also appeared in director Foldes’ Young Warriors (1983), and seems like a young, confused Treat Williams. Linda Blair plays the “tough chick”, playing against the more girly Christy. It could almost be said that her character here could be a continuation of Brenda from Savage Streets (1984). Carla could be like what Brenda would have turned out as later in life. Adding to the positives column is the end-credits song, “I Still Remember”, sung by Linda herself.

Despite its mediocrity, items like Night Force actually did their own little part to make the video stores of the 80’s great. They added their own brick in the wall of mind-boggling choices the best video stores had. Not every movie ever made is going to be an awesome life-changer. Sometimes corraling some familiar names together and having them engage in some mindless shooting and blow-ups is enough. Clearly the filmmakers knew this, as indicated by its 79 minute running time. It was all good enough for Lightning Video to release it (it was produced by Vestron Pictures) - and as long as you don’t expect too much, you might be able to wring some enjoyment out of the rag that is Night Force.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, Cool Target!