Dungeon Classics #7: Last Man Standing

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

Last Man Standing (1996, USA)

Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Bruce Willis, Christopher Walken, David Patrick Kelly, Ned Eisenberg
Running Time: 101 mins.

The story of Last Man Standing – in which a mercenary arrives in a small town and hires himself to two rival gangs – has been told before. The original Yojimbo (1961) is a samurai movie. And the remake A Fistful of Dollars (1964) a spaghetti western. Both are absolute classics. Last Man Standing is not, but hey! This is still a cult favorite. In this version, the setting is a dusty Mexican bordertown during the prohibition where two gangs of violent bootleggers are fighting a bloody war. The rough gunslinging drifter Willis (named John Smith) arrives and starts playing both sides off against one another, earning himself a nice payday for his efforts. But the play is not without personal danger. Plus, he starts helping two dames who are hooked up with the gangs’ leaders. Pretty soon, the town turns into a bullet festival, so Smith can display his incredible gun skills. The heavy action that follows is perfectly directed by Hill. Add to this a fine selection of actors, including a creepy Christopher Walken, and you have an irresistible action movie on your hands.

Cult Radar: Part 10

The final one?

FilmDungeon.com is glad to explore the video trenches to find that oddball treasure between the piles of crap out there. Off course a treasure in this context can also be a film that’s so shockingly bad it’s worth a look, or something so bizarre that cult fans just have to see it. Join us on our quest and learn what we learn. Hopefully we’ll uncover some well-hidden cult gems.

Researched by: Jeppe Kleyngeld

Westworld (USA, 1973)

Directed by: Michael Crichton
Written by: Michael Crichton
Cast: Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin

Before the big budget HBO-series, there was the cult movie Westworld. And it’s a blast also! Delos Vacation is the vacation of the future today. Go to Roman World, Medieval World or Westworld to fuck and kill. But, as usually happens in movies about AI, robots get tired of being humanity’s servants and go rogue. The decadent will pay for their behaviour! Much like the vacation advertised by Delos, Westworld is Big Fun.

Enemy Territory (USA, 1987)

Directed by: Peter Manoogian
Written by: Stuart Kaminsky, Bobby Liddell
Cast: Gary Frank, Ray Parker Jr., Jan-Michael Vincent

An insurance agent and phone repairman get trapped at night in a massive tower building. This is the territory of the Vampires, a deadly gang. What follows is the typical ‘stalk and kill’ scenario. Unfortunately, the movie did not age well and is thus not very tense by today’s standards. The acting is also poor, so unfortunately there is not much to recommend this for.

Starship Troopers: Invasion (Japan / USA, 2012)

Directed by: Shinji Aramaki
Written by: Flint Dille (screenplay), Robert A. Heinlein (novel)
Cast (voices): Leraldo Anzaldua, Shelley Calene-Black, Luci Christian

Third sequel to Paul Verhoeven’s original sci-fi classic Starship Troopers from 1997 and this time it is animated. Want to know more? The first sequel was horrible and the second was not all that great. This one is a pretty decent made-for-DVD flick, much like Clone Wars is for the Star Wars prequel trilogy. The first part is mostly marine macho bullshit, but the animated girls make it all worthwhile (all the animation is pretty well done). In the second part, the makers actually manage to add a story worth adding to this bug-infested universe. Could have done with a little more suspense and over the top gore, but it is certainly worth a look.

Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 (Italy, 1988)

Directed by: Lucio Fulci
Written by: Claudio Fragasso (story), Claudio Fragasso (screenplay)
Cast: Deran Sarafian, Beatrice Ring, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua

This masterpiece (originally called Zombi 3 in Italy) is a cash-in on Zombie Flesh Eaters/Zombi 2 which was made to profit from the zombie-rage caused by Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which was released as Zombi in Italy. Still with me? This one is about an infection on a small island caused by the military working on bacterial weapons (again). The virus causes people to eat each other. The zombies in this film are the first fast & furious zombies(*1) I’ve seen, that would later appear in films such as 28 Days Later that resurrected the genre. And some of them even talk. Not that surprising though, this was three years after Bub(*2) after all. They are killed pretty easily though. No brain impalement required. Though not as atmospheric as the original Zombie Flesh Eaters, Fulci still delivers in terms of shocks and bad taste. To be concluded by Zombie Flesh Eaters 3/Zombi 4.

*1 At least some of them are. Others are as slow and dumb as ever.
*2 Of Day of the Dead fame

Zombie Flesh Eaters 3 (Italy, 1989)

Directed by: Claudio Fragasso
Written by: Rossella Drudi, Rossella Drudi
Cast: Jeff Stryker, Candice Daly, Massimo Vanni

Whoever green-lit this dog? Exploiting the extremely capable zombie master Romero is one thing, but at least come up with a rip-off that delivers some of the goodies. The acting in this Italian piece of trash is HORRIBLE and so are the dialogues. The direction is a complete joke now that Fulci left. This distracts so much that watching it is a complete waste of time. Only for the braindead, others avoid at all costs.

Westworld

Enemy Territory

Starship Troopers: Invasion

House on the Edge of the Park (Italy, 1980)

Directed by: Ruggero Deodato
Written by: Gianfranco Clerici, Vincenzo Mannino
Cast: David Hess, Annie Belle, Christian Borromeo

From the director of Cannibal Holocaust comes an early home invasion flick, very much like Funny Games. A psycho and his simpleton buddy crash a party of young folks and as the night progresses, they use (sexual) violence on them. Often quite unpleasant to watch, but the acting is pretty decent. With a nice little twist at the end.

The Cars That Ate Paris (Australia, 1974)

Directed by: Peter Weir
Written by: Peter Weir, Keith Gow, Piers Davies
Cast: John Meillon, Terry Camilleri, Kevin Miles

Ozploitation flick about the small town of Paris, where the inhabitants cause fatal car crashes to plunder the vehicles. Strange early creation of Australian director Peter Weir, who went on to make great films like The Truman Show, Fearless and Dead Poet Society. This one provides in mood and production design (low budget, but cool), but misses the finer touches that Weir displayed in his later work. A must see? No. But interesting and entertaining enough.

Space Shift (USA / UK, 1992)

Directed by: Anthony Hickox
Written by: Anthony Hickox
Cast: Zach Galligan, Monika Schnarre, Martin Kemp

This masterpiece, also known as Waxwork II: Lost in Time, is a sequel to the 1988 film, Waxwork. After dealing with evil waxwork, this time the heroes travel through time in what appears to be a horror reenactment game. They become part of stories like Frankenstein, Alien and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The writing of this homage is not very well done. But is does feature legend Bruce Campbell in an amusing role.

Mega Force (Hong Kong / USA, 1982)

Directed by: Hal Needham
Written by: Bob Kachler, James Whittaker, Albert S. Ruddy, Hal Needham, Andre Morgan
Cast: Barry Bostwick, Michael Beck, Persis Khambatta

From the director of Smokey and the Bandit comes another hilarious eighties classic. About a phantom force, armed with the latest technology, that is called into action whenever geopolitical problems arise. The leader of the team: Ace Hunter! And the action, stunts and gadgets can compare with James Bond… almost. Worth watching if only for the soundtrack and images of the ‘MegaForce’ on their special motorcycles.

Assault on Precinct 13 (USA, 1976)

Directed by: John Carpenter
Written by: John Carpenter
Cast: Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer

Suspenseful early flick from great horror maestro John Carpenter. About L.A. gangs who team up to assault a nearly abandoned police station kamikaze-style. Very tense atmosphere and excellent character building. Remade in 2005 with Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne and Gabriel Byrne, but the original is better.

House on the Edge of the Park

Space Shift

Mega Force

© FilmDungeon.com, october 2019

Note: FilmDungeon.com is currently still live and will be removed from the web on 15 august, 2020. Obituary will follow. The site’s content will be re-published in the form of e-books on ISSUU. Links can be found on this blog and directly on ISSUU.

Dungeon Classics #6: Escape from L.A.

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

Escape from L.A. (1996, USA)

Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Kurt Russell, Steve Buscemi, Stacy Keach
Running Time: 101 mins.

In 2013, an earthquake has separated a ruined L.A. from the rest of the United States. This is now the place where the government – which is run by a religious nutcase – sends their outcasts and prisoners. When the daughter of the president is kidnapped by a Che Guevara-like revolutionary, the eye-patch wearing Snake Plissken is send to retrieve her from Los Angeles. Turns out, the daughter stole a secret weapon – the Doomsday Device – that America can use to destroy its enemies, or vice versa. As soon as our cynical hero, played by the terrific Kurt Russell, arrives in L.A. it is non stop action delivered with a big smile. Carpenter and his team obviously had fun coming up the inventive set pieces, like the Hollywood sign on fire. The colorful cast of supporting characters Snake meets on his journey, includes some of the finest cult actors and actresses: Peter Fonda, Valeria Golino, Bruce Campbell, Steve Buscemi and Pam Grier. A bleak vision on the future of America that is over-the-top, but – amazingly – still rings true in a sense.

Dungeon Classics #5: Escape from Absolom

FilmDungeon’s Chief Editor JK sorts through the Dungeon’s DVD-collection to look for old cult favorites….

Escape from Absolom (1994, USA)

Director: Martin Campbell
Cast: Ray Liotta, Lance Henriksen, Stuart Wilson
Running Time: 114 mins.

Actually, this movie – also known as No Escape – is not that good. But it’s childhood nostalgia and has a few things going for it. Ray Liotta is a great actor for starters. And the costumes, that remind of Mad Max, are awesome. In the year 2022 (close now) all US prisons are run by private enterprises (sounds realistic enough). Liotta’s character is a marine who has shot and killed his commanding officer. He is shipped off to a desolated island where there are no guards and no walls; convicts run the show. There are two camps: the barbaric outsiders and the more civilized insiders. Liotta joins the later. He has escape on the brain constantly… but first, there is some fighting that needs to be done. From the producers of Aliens and The Terminator, the tagline promises. No, it’s not that good, but like I said: sweet memories.