Act of Piracy (1988)

Gary Busey is Ted Andrews, a formerly rich divorcee who “convinces” his ex-wife to let him take his kids on an ocean trip as he travels to Australia to sell off his yacht. Just one problem: Ted’s new girlfriend is actually a terrorist agent working for a group of mercenaries, and they kidnap his children, murder everyone else on board, and shoot Ted, leaving him to die in the ocean. But he doesn’t, so he teams up with his ex-wife to investigate and find his kids.

If you’re expecting a lot of action in this movie…don’t. There are a few kills at the beginning, a couple in the middle, and then the final showdown, but just about everything else is either talking or investigating. In one scene Gary Busey does run a gunman down in his car, which is entertaining, and he does get told by a police officer in Zanzibar, “There are some things the law can’t do that you can,” giving a sort of justification to his vigilantism. There’s also a throw away line about him being some kind of Navy special forces soldier, but don’t expect that to play too much into the film.

Once Ted and his ex-wife do finally find their missing yacht, they trick the mercenaries off of it, but the mercs then chase them down with a boatload of guns for a showdown on the high seas. It’s not exactly epic, but here are some highlights:

1. The head terrorist uses an unloaded RPG launcher to blow a hole in the yacht.
2. All guns work even when dropped in the ocean.
3. Gary Busey gets stabbed in the leg, shot in the other leg, stabbed in the hand, and can still move just fine.
4. Gary Busey kills a man by shooting him with a flare gun…which causes the boat he is on to explode.
5. The main villain dies by being strangled with a wire cable, stabbed in the heart, and then stuck on the yacht as it sinks into the ocean, letting him live in terrible pain just long enough to drown.

The most important thing about this movie is that it came out in 1988, the year of Gary Busey’s traumatic motorcycle accident that left him with brain damage and turned him into the wild man he is today considered to be. As that accident was in December, that means Act of Piracy is the last movie in which Busey is wholly ok; after this, it’s downhill from here as the after effects of his terrible accident begin to play out.

Of course, don’t think that means Busey stopped acting. No, he made many, many more films after this.  And for that, we love him.

Equalizer 2000 (1987)

I love ridiculous movie poster guns, but that one is actually pretty accurate to the gun in this movie.

Richard Norton and the jaw-dropping Corinne Wahl(now Alphen) star in this post-apocalyptic Mad Max 2-knock off set in the desert wasteland of Alaska in the future. Much of Alaska is ruled by the evil fascist group The Ownership, of which Richard Norton’s character is a member. But then an ambitious Ownership officer murders his father and then tries to kill him. So what’s a guy to do? Defect, help a hot babe fight off guys dressed like Civil War soldiers(one of whom is a young Robert Patrick), and build a super weapon M-16 that apparently has multiple grenade launchers and shotgun barrels added to it because you can!

Did I mention this was filmed in the Philippines? Yeah, that’s gonna be important later.

Anyway, so Richard Norton makes a super weapon with the help of some guys that are really terrible actors and then decides to get revenge on the evil Ownership. But the Ownership finds out about the gun, so the evil officer goes after Norton and ends up taking it(while Robert Patrick totally dies). The evil officer then assassinates the leader of the Ownership and takes over. But that’s ok, because Richard Norton gets a sex scene with a Penthouse Pet and then helps the disparate rebels attack the Ownership. And then the generic Native American/Eskimos show up to help them.

You remember how I said this was filmed in the Philippines? Well, all the Native American/Eskimos are played by Filipinos, with added war paint and dubbed-over totally-not-racist Indian whooping sounds!

In the end Richard Norton kills the evil officer and ends the Ownership…though only after totally-here-for-sex-appeal Corinne Wahl is totally murdered in a spray of blood involving what I think were supposed to be squibs but actually acted more like water hoses of red Kool-Aid. And then Richard Norton steps outside and smashes his gun, and all the Filipino Native American/Eskimos give up their spears and bows and arrows, and a couple of other guys chuck their rifles on a campfire. Then Richard Norton drives away.

Pray he’s still out there. Pray he’s…wait, I think I saw these same cars in Wheels of Fire, another other Mad Max 2 rip-off movie.

Before I leave you though, I do have one important note: Richard Norton did eventually appear in a proper Mad Max movie, as a stunt performer, the fight coordinator, and as an actor.  He was also in the amazing Gymkata.

Seytan (1974)

Yes, the Italians ripped off a lot of American movies in the 1970s and ’80s. But you know who really excelled at the mockbuster, folks? Turkey.

Seytan is a product of this rich atmosphere of copying that which is great in other nations’ cinema, because Seytan is the Turkish equivalent of The Exorcist. I don’t mean it was simply inspired by The Exorcist the way other exploitative horror flicks like Abby or Beyond the Door were. I mean Seytan is at times a shot-for-shot knock-off of The Exorcist, complete with a muddied soundtrack directly stolen and then slightly modified to have a longer intro. Sure, it’s not 100%…but then that wouldn’t have worked, considering the heavy dose of Catholicism that The Exorcist carried. Instead, it’s more like, oh 80%, with the remaining 20% changed due to the low budget and necessity for adapting it to a Muslim audience.

There are no priests in Seytan. Instead of our young priest, a doubting priest guilt-struck over his mother’s death in an asylum, you have a young author, a doubting psychologist guilt-struck over his mother’s death in an asylum. Instead of an old priest with a penchant for Satanic archaeology who has faced the Devil before and suffers a heart condition, you have an old mullah with a penchant for Satanic archaeology who has faced the Devil before and suffers a heart condition. Instead of a cross and heavy cursing, the Turkish Reagan stabs herself with a satanic letter opener. She also never spiderwalks down the stairs or tells an astronaut that he’s going to die in space…but she does totally urinate in front of everyone at a party.

Unfortunately while Seytan is quite an incredible copy, it’s still obviously skimping on the budget and the skill. The special effects are laughable when compared to the original(the bed-shaking scene got downgraded to a shaking mattress), and the cinematography just isn’t as awe-inspiring. There’s also a lot less polish to the finished product and garbled audio, which is further complicated by the poor subtitles on the only version I could find, though I don’t begrudge the film for this.

When Islam does come into it, it mostly involves the old priest-type character, who uses a Qur’an and holy water taken from the Well of Zamzam in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. There is also a brief scene involving a mosque and knock-off Reagan running up to hug another mullah, who rubs the top of her head and smiles that she has been spared from the grasp of Satan. It’s actually a rather touching note to end on in a film that is otherwise lacking if you are familiar with the classic it’s aping, and I do appreciate the updates made to make the film more culturally relevant in an Islamic nation.

Oh, one other thing…I didn’t find Seytan as funny, but that’s because it wasn’t nearly as well done. Yes, I found The Exorcist funny. We’ve talked about this. I have a heart made of rot and horror.

2016 Part 2 (2010)

That’s right, it’s the sequel to the Ghanaian smash-hit sci-fi extravaganza! Badly rendered Alien/Predator hybrids now walk around, causing random citizens of Ghana to run around screaming or kill them with crappy fake blood packs! Meanwhile, a bunch of people we don’t care about shout at each other in a language I don’t understand! To make matters worse, the aliens have hatched an evil plot, and our hero scientist who can spy on the aliens using a mixture of Mac screensavers and mid-90s sound systems is totally able to listen in: the aliens plan to hit Ghana where it really hurts…by destroying everyone’s cellphone!

Or at least most of their cellphones. It seems like after the cellphone thing, people randomly still have them despite the numerous bad CG explosions we saw earlier, including one where a dude just vaporized into a bad CG mist. Also the folks of Ghana are apparently really quick to repair cellphones after they explode. Maybe Samsung should build a factory there.

Anyway, moving on, more people yell at each other, and the evil killer aliens walk through walls and throw motorcycles! Yes this is a real thing! But the hero scientist creates the ultimate weapon: the African T-800! Not since Shaft went to Africa in Shaft in Africa has there been this much badassitude in a single African nation. Once he’s got his robo-heart working, the Ghananator hits the streets with trademark leather jacket and sunglasses, where he confronts the alien menace and jumps over shitty computer generated cars that the alien kind of kicks in his direction. And then OH SNAP! THAT ALIEN HAS A HANDGUN HIDDEN IN HIS CHEST! WHY IS HE SHOOTING BULLETS FROM HIS CHEST HANDGUN?! BUT THE G-800 DODGES! And then Mortal Kombat begins! Seriously, they’re shooting saw blades out of their elbows and shit. But it ends tragically for Arnold Ghananegger when he suddenly catches on fire, reveals his chrome interior that was totally ripped from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and seems to die…only to then cut the alien critter in half and send its torso into orbit!


And from there, peace returns to Africa.

I fucking hate these movies.  You definitely need to see them.

Here’s that trailer again:

2016 (2010)

There are times in a man’s life when he faces the most incredible odds. When fierce adversity must be overcome. When the fate of the world hangs in the balance and it seems all he can do to merely hold on to the barest thread of civilization with the last fading ounce of his being.

Gentlemen, I have been unto the mountain. I have climbed its peaks and navigated its valleys. I have struggled to claw my way past the shattered bones and frozen corpses of those who came before me and failed. And when I reached the summit, I planted my flag and screamed my name into the wind so that the gods themselves would know me, most favored son of all that is crap and grime cinema.

Behold, gentlemen, the glory that is 2016.

2016 is a 2010 Ghanaian direct-to-video science fiction extravaganza, in which aliens decide to invade Ghana, “the most peaceful country on Earth,” so they can then colonize and take over the world within six years. I know this because I read it somewhere online. While English is the official language of Ghana, there are over 250 distinct languages spoken in the small African country, and I don’t know which one is used. There are also no subtitles, so flatly put, I literally have no idea what anyone is saying beyond the odd English word, such as “space ships.” Which might mean something totally different in that language for all I know, like “I need a Coke” or “This movie sucks.”

Anyway, a local scientist apparently realizes he can see a spaceship on his crappy Mac screen saver, and using the magic power of a 20-year-old stereo system, he can overhear the crappy CG aliens’ plan to colonize the Earth while his iTunes download. He then holds his head and groans a lot. Meanwhile a woman translates an English news report to a woman wearing the same material that her couch is made out of, some guy named Timothy walks around and gets other people to say his name a lot, and an annoying 12-year-old annoys people. I suspect the 12-year-old is the director, for this is a Ninja picture.

That’s right, Ninja is the pseudonym for the director/screenplay writer/DJ who made this and a bunch of other really terrible direct-to-video movies in Ghana. And that 12-year-old seems to be in all of them, so that has GOT to be him. He also likes to showcase his music work a lot by playing it repeatedly during the picture and occasionally just blasting “D-D-D-DJ NINJA” over and over again.

As for the aliens, they’re poor CGI renders of the xenomorphs from Aliens, the Predator, and the T-800 from Terminator merged together with bad photoshop skills and all the CG capabilities of a low budget production circa 1991.

You think I’m kidding? I’m not. Here’s the trailer:

THAT, folks, is the greatest trailer ever made, especially when the baby gets kicked. The best part about that scene is that the Mom is carrying her kid, sets him down, has time to cry about it for a minute, and then runs off. Then TWO MORE GUYS show up, see the baby, fret over him, and then run off. AND THEN IT TAKES ANOTHER MINUTE FOR THE ALIEN TO GET THERE TO KICK THE BABY. AND YES, THE BABY GOES FLYING THROUGH THE AIR AND LANDS IN A BUSHY FIELD. YOU GET TO SEE THE WHOLE CRAPPY THING. And the lady flattened by the car? CG BLOOD OOZES FROM BENEATH IT FOR THE NEXT THREE MINUTES AS A LADY SCREAMS NEARBY. I HAVE DISCOVERED THAT ALL CAPS HELPS ME VENT AFTER SEEING THIS MOVIE. IT IS THE ONLY WAY TO HANDLE IT.

This may be the worst movie I’ve ever seen. This may be worse than my most hated film, a South Korean picture entitled Teenage Hooker Becomes Killing Machine, and that particular movie has a strap-on dildo gun.  I’m not kidding.

Look, I realize that this might seem backwards for me to criticize after having praised the Ugandan film Who Killed Captain Alex, but that movie had a lot of heart and didn’t spend its poor effects budget on ripping off other movies (though admittedly it did have a version of Kiss from a Rose that seems to be a cellphone ringtone).  Bad effects are bad effects, sure, but that movie had heart that I just do not feel here.

And the best part about 2016?  It has a sequel.

Exterminator 2 (1984)

Flammenwerfers werf flammen.

Ah, proto-Punisher characters getting revenge for the little guy against inner city multi-ethnic street gangs with delusions of grandeur. It’s a shame the fear of the dirty inner city is gone nowadays since so many of us live in our shining cityscapes with all our clean lines and windows…like a great rat king of humanity. Guys like the Exterminator come in to make sure the refuse gets taken out from time to time, and in this case he does it quite literally with a freaking flamethrower.

No, seriously, in this sequel to Exterminator, our hero John Eastland (played by Robert Ginty) gets a job working with an old army buddy running a garbage truck. He never actually picks up any garbage, but that’s beside the point, as he is more than busy dealing with the trash (There’s a great line in the movie Traxx about this: “Garbage you dump, trash you kill.”). What’s more important is that he makes enemies with Mario Van Peebles and his street gang, which gives us the opportunity to watch dudes get reduced to cinders.

And just how does the Exterminator incur the wrath of this evil gang of wannabe-Warriors? Why, his army buddy uses the dump truck to try and stop an armored car robbery the gang performs. What follows is a cycle of confusion, mistaken identity, and revenge, as the gang thinks Ginty and his dancing lady friend were driving the truck. They beat her so badly she becomes paralyzed, which puts a stop to her Broadway dreams and seriously hinders her relationship with our hero. Meanwhile the Exterminator ends up torching Van Peebles’ little brother, which leads to a whole lot of bad blood between the two. The end result? A warehouse battle in which Ginty drives an armored garbage truck complete with added machine guns and dumps gasoline on gang members so he can light them like tiki torches. Further hilarity ensues when the burning stunt men start running into each other. But then it’s off to the explosive finale as Robert Ginty and Mario Van Peebles face off in a fight to the death over drugs and revenge.

Unfortunately Exterminator 2 isn’t quite the nonstop action I want, as much of it focuses on Ginty getting a job, getting to know his girl, and joyriding in a garbage truck, which just makes for an awkward date. As a result, it’s not nearly as cool as I needed it to be, even though it is pretty much the vigilante equivalent of Don’t Go in the House, which is a slasher flick also involving a flamethrower that you should watch if only because it made the Video Nasty list.

Did I mention I happen to like flamethrowers?

Neon Maniacs (1986)

It’s unfortunate when you run across a film that you want to like a whole lot more than you end up actually enjoying. But this movie is a lot like its poster: it screams “WAY AWESOME” but then fails to hold up once under scrutiny. For instance, why are the twin towers there? The movie takes place in San Francisco. Second, why is it called Neon Maniacs? Yes, there are maniacs, but there’s a distinct lack of neon in this movie. Also, why is that one guy dressed as a samurai?

In fact, that’s a great question for the movie too. Neon Maniacs has an interesting idea: a bunch of killer horror movie tropes live in an abandoned garage under the Golden Gate Bridge. One night the tropes suddenly wander out to attack teenagers, while a weird little monster with a big hook snags their prey’s corpses and hauls the parts away. All that’s left in the morning as evidence is a weird goop that no one can identify. So…why? That’s where Neon Maniacs falls apart. It never gets to the why. Why do these undead maniacs include the likes of a Native American, a G.I., a samurai, a biker, a werewolf, and a doctor, among numerous other things? Why are they working for this weird little monster? And why is it that water is the only thing which can hurt them? Was M. Night Shyamalan involved?

Instead of taking the time to explain this, the teenagers who end up busily conforming to slasher movie tropes instead decide that the cops are useless(which they are in this movie, so I suppose I shouldn’t fault them), so they’re gonna fight off the horde of undead maniacs using water pistols during a costumed battle of the bands at the local high school. Yes, this is seriously their plan. I want this to be cooler than it is. I really, really do. There’s a freaking undead samurai wandering around San Fran, for goodness sake! How awesome is that?! And yet the movie meanders and fails to get to the point so often that it just never gets off the ground.

I will not say it’s a total waste however, as one of the main characters is a monster-loving middle school girl who wants to make horror movies and quickly figures out how to fight the monsters. She then successfully manages to defend herself and do by far the most damage to their ranks than anyone else. She’s seriously the only reason anyone lives, because everyone else is a moron, including the movie itself. But her? She kicks ass, and she does it with an angled baseball cap or while dressed like a little vampire. She’s the kind of young lady you folks with daughters hope your little bundle of joy grows up into: smarter, tougher, and ballsier than just about everyone else in the picture. Hats off to her; she saved this from being a total let down.

Neon Maniacs…what happened? I know you shut down in the middle of production due to a lack of funds, but was the script this lacking to begin with?