10/24/2014

Raiders Of Atlantis (1983)

Raiders Of Atlantis (1983)- * * *1\2

Directed by: Ruggero Deodato

Starring: Christopher Connelly, George Hilton, Gioia Scola, Tony King, Ivan Rassimov, Michele Soavi, Bruce Baron, and Mike Monty 










A group of scientists, led by the nerdy Saunders (Hilton) and the attractive Dr. Rollins (Scola), go on a seafaring expedition and come across an old sunken relic they believe to be an artifact from Atlantis. While they’re trying to figure out the significance of this skull-faced totem, a freak storm strands them on a Caribbean island. They then realize they’re in a whole heap of trouble, because the island is dominated by murderous punks who are descendents of the original Atlanteans. Naturally they want to take over the world, and are led by a guy who not just worships a crystal skull, but actually wears the skull on his head! Such is his devotion to crystal skulls, his name is Crystal Skull (Baron). Just when the scientists start to despair, a pair of tough Vietnam vets, Mike Ross (Connelly) and Washington (King) come to their rescue and put their knowledge of weaponry and survival to good use. Will they defeat the punks? Or will the baddies from Atlantis rise again? Find out today!

After getting off to a pretty slow start, The Raiders of Atlantis eventually kicks into gear and is a rollicking good time. Director Ruggero Deodato should be more well known for his action output, as action has infused much of his work in his long career, everything from Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man (1976), to Cut and Run (1985) to The Barbarians (1987) - but his reputation is such that his name is synonymous with Italian horror. Nevertheless, Deodato delivers the goods with this, a sort of cross between  the Indiana Jones movies (and he predated the crystal skull sequel by many years!), the A-Team and The Road Warrior (1981), among other “influences”. By far the best part of this movie are the punks. The movie truly starts when they arrive on the scene. They have awesome outfits and vehicles. Just like how people in Cuba today are driving around in 50’s Fords and Chevys, here too the Atlanteans have the classic cars, but in their case, drills and spikes are attached to them.


Deodato assembled a top-notch cast for this, an “A-Team”, if you will. Heh heh. Christopher Connelly is great as the leader with the raspy voice. The man can truly turn a phrase like no one else. He can call you a “Dirtball” with style and aplomb. Tony King is completely winning as his sidekick - it’s largely because you get behind him that you want our heroes to succeed. Baron is suitably menacing as the guy who wears the crystal skull, George Hilton plays against type as the dorky scientist with the stylish shorts, and Ivan Rassimov, Michele Soavi, and Philippine-shot movie regular Mike Monty appear as well. So you can’t ask for more in that department. The movie also scores points because the music is done by the DeAngelis brothers (using their usual pseudonym Oliver Onions), and the movie is set in the future, “1994”, which is now the past, which we always love to see. Add some shooting, blow-ups, exploding helicopters,
“pew-pew” lasers, and a high body count (including what we call a “fan favorite death”), and you have a complete night of entertainment in front of your VCR.

Released on VHS by Prism in the U.S. back in the video store days, and now available as part of the “Grindhouse Experience vol.2” DVD set (which is out of print but still cheaply found on Amazon and elsewhere as of this writing), The Raiders of Atlantis provides a solid dose of Italian-made, Philippines-shot 80’s action goodness.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up from our buddies Ed's Pop Culture Shack and  The Video Vacuum! 




10/22/2014

The Barbarians (1987)

The Barbarians (1987)- * * *

Directed by: Ruggero Deodato

Starring: Peter Paul, David Paul, Virginia Bryant, Richard Lynch, Eva La Rue, George Eastman, and Michael Berryman



"The Barbarian Brothers as...The Barbarians"




In a mystical faraway land of swords and sorcery, two twin brothers are orphaned and adopted by a traveling caravan of weirdos. When the nefarious warlord Kadar (Lynch), in a quest for more power, attacks the traveling troupe and imprisons Queen Canary (Bryant) and enslaves the brothers in a work camp, at least some good comes out of it: a lifetime of lifting rocks has turned the two brothers into massively muscular “Barbarian Brothers”. Kutchek (Peter Paul) and Gore (David Paul) want to free their beloved Queen, so, along with another newly-freed victim of the wrath of Kadar, a girl named Kara (La Rue), they go forward on their quest. Along the way they meet all kinds of crazy characters and people, not the least of which are Dirtmaster (Berryman) and Jacko (Eastman). Will they slay the dragon? Will they find the magical ruby that fits into the bellybutton of the future queen? Will they argue and make weird, animalistic noises? Find out today!

Connecticut’s own The Barbarian Brothers truly come out to shine (literally - they glisten) in their first major, starring role. It truly was an amazing time for the film industry and the world of video stores alike  - the fact that projects like this could be made and distributed around the world would not happen today.  That Cannon would put Ruggero Deodato in the director’s chair, and - of all people - The Barbarian Brothers front and center is nothing short of a miracle. The result is a fairly freewheeling journey into a magical land filled with wacky costumes, crazy makeup, and oiled-up meatheads.


It was the 80’s, after all, and things like Dungeons and Dragons, He-Man, and the Conan The Barbarian series (he’s only ONE barbarian. Here you get two for the price of one) were huge. Not to mention video games like Iron Sword (remember the Fabio cover?), Gauntlet and later Golden Axe. Even the breastplate that one of the brothers wears later in the movie is very He-Man esque. And seeing as how Lucio Fulci directed Conquest (1983), Cannon probably figured, ‘okay, this sword-and-sorcery stuff is huge right now, let’s get another Italian director known for his horror/gore work and have him run the show’. Deodato provides a weird/wacky vibe, and the whole thing is well-shot in typical Italian style. While Dolph Lundgren was ideal casting for Masters of the Universe (1987) - could you imagine He-Man x2? Well, imagine no longer.



Fan favorite Richard Lynch was good casting as the baddie, and it’s probably the only time we’ve ever seen him with dreadlocks. He must have impressed Deodato after working with him on Cut and Run (1985). Same goes for Michael Berryman, who also appeared in that movie two years earlier for Deodato. Berryman is always cool to see, and he makes some great faces, and has some impressive headgear. Same thing for George Eastman, we always enjoy when he pops up when you’re not expecting him to, which happens fairly often. Eva La Rue makes a cute companion to the Barbarians on their quest, and there are some lesser characters with notable features such as a guy who can only be described as “Pee Wee Amidala” (you’ll know him when you see him) and a baddie who looks a lot like Bane. Interestingly, in this “origin story” for the Barbarian Brothers, they actually take the time to explain WHY they’re so huge, which you don’t often see for other meatheads. The brothers themselves have a silly kind of chemistry which has helped earn them a fan following.

The movie fluctuates between childish fun and more adult themes, so it’s hard to tell exactly who this was aimed for. Perhaps the ideal audience is immature young men like us. Featuring an uncredited song with the lyrics “Your ruby dreams taste so sweet”, The Barbarians remains a lightweight 80’s Barbaric good time.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Also check out write-ups from our buddies Dead Moon Night and The Video Vacuum!