Water Foul: Octaman



Today’s movie is Octaman, which features a human-octopus hybrid suit designed by repeat Academy Award winner Rick Baker.

Octaman was written, directed, and produced by Harry Essex, who was also behind such films as It Came From Outer Space and Creature From The Black Lagoon.

The cinematographer on the film was Robert Caramico, who also shot numerous episodes of the television shows Just Shoot Me and Dallas, the Fred Williamson blaxploitation western Boss (that’s, uh, not the original title), and Ted V. Mikels’s The Black Klansman.

The effects team for the movie included Academy Award winner Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London, Men in Black, Ed Wood, Wolf, Videodrome, It’s Alive, It Lives Again, Black Caesar), Doug Beswick (Aliens, The Terminator, Evil Dead II, Ghostbusters), and Ron Kinney (Wild Riders, The Cremators). Beswick and Baker specifically designed the Octaman suit, under the belief that it would be kept in shadows and obscured for most of the film. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

octaman4The cast of Octaman included Pier Angeli (Battle of the Bulge, The Angry Silence), Jeff Morrow (This Island Earth, The Giant Claw, The Creature Walks Among Us), and Kerwin Mathews (Jack The Giant Killer, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad).

The story of Octaman is delightfully straightforward: a team of scientists stumbles upon a mysterious mutated hybrid of an octopus and a human, and the creature proceeds to make all of their lives miserable and significantly shorter.

Footage of Octaman shows up under a variety of different titles in movies like Gremlins 2 and Fright Night, as an homage both to the influence of Rick Baker as an effects master, and as a throwback to traditional, b-level horror and monster movies.

octaman1The reception to Octaman was unsurprisingly negative, and it currently holds a 3.5 rating on IMDb, alongside a 23% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

The budget for the movie was reportedly $250,000, which is a pretty astounding microbudget. However, the product on screen holds true to the saying “you get what you pay for.”

Octaman is a movie that feels, looks, and sounds misplaced in time. The movie could have been made any time from the tail end of the 1950s to (particularly cheaply) in the 1980s, and I don’t think it would look or sound all that different. It is a curiosity of a film that rides the line between being an homage and legitimately being the thing that it is trying to send up (honestly, I’m still not 100% sure which this is).

octaman3The suit itself is probably the most impressive aspect of the movie given the budget, but the way it is shot and used is just hilariously awful. It is a real testament to the importance of cinematography and editing when it comes to movies with practical monsters, because the way it is shown on screen makes all the difference between it being intimidating and it being impossibly goofy.

Speaking of which, the lighting throughout the movie is astoundingly terrible, and most of it comes off looking like incomprehensible blackness (except for the monster, the one thing that should be kept a bit obscured). For most of the film, it is a chore to parse out what the hell is supposed to be happening on screen, because all of the colors used are on a scale of pitch black to relatively dark blue.

Octaman uses a few moments of monster point-of-view shots, which popped up here and there throughout the history of b-movies. However, it became particular famous for its use in highly-acclaimed, b-movie influenced films like Jaws, Predator, and Halloween.

The only real highlight to the film comes when a plot is executed to capture the monster by confusing it with strobe lights and encircling it with fire, in order to “burn up the oxygen all around him.” Astoundingly, this works, and the team throws a net over the monster and calls it a day. That part of the plan, however, doesn’t turn out so well.

octaman5Overall, Octaman is a pretty run-of-the-mill, cheaply made b-movie. If not for Rick Baker’s involvement, it would probably only amount to a footnote in the history of bad movies. However, Baker’s participation and future success adds an element of trivia to the movie, which makes it moderately more worth checking out. Personally, I think the movie is pretty dull, but I’d recommend looking up some clips and photos of the suit in action to get an idea of where a 12-time Academy Award nominated (and 7-time winner) effects guru comes from.

Water Foul: Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster

Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster


Today’s entry into the “Water Foul” spotlight on the worst aquatic monsters in movie history is 1966’s Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster.

Godzilla vs The Sea Monster was written by Shinichi Sekizawa, the primary writer of the Showa era of Godzilla. His credits include the MST3K-infamous Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla vs. Gigan, Godzilla’s Revenge, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster, Godzilla vs. Mothra, and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.

The director for Godzilla vs The Sea Monster was Jun Fukuda. This was his first Godzilla movie, and afterwards he would direct four more in the Showa era of the franchise: Son of Godzilla, Godzilla vs Gigan, Godzilla vs. Megalon, and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.

The cinematographer on the film was Kazuo Yamada, who also shot Son Of Godzilla, Samurai III, and Samurai Rebellion, as well as Key of Keys, which was used as the source material for Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily?

The editor for Godzilla vs The Sea Monster was Ryohel Fujii, who was yet another Toho regular, cutting such films as Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster, King Kong Escapes, Frankenstein Conquers The World, and Godzilla vs. Monster Zero.

Executive Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was a producer of the Godzilla franchise from the original Godzilla all the way through the conclusion of the Hesei era, 1995’s Godzilla vs. Destroyah. He also frequently produced movies for Akira Kurosawa, such as Yojimbo, Kagemusha, and Sanjuro.

The music on Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster was done by Masaru Sato, who accrued 236 score composition credits over his illustrious career, including Yojimbo, Throne of Blood, Sanjuro, Godzilla Raids Again, and The Hidden Fortress.

The Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster effects team included Sadamasa Arikawa (Godzilla, Destroy All Monsters, Mothra, Rodan), Sokei Tomioka (Terror of Mechagodzilla, King Kong Escapes, Frankenstein Conquers the World), Taka Yuki (Godzilla, Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster), Fumio Nakadai (Son of Godzilla, Godzilla’s Revenge), Eiji Tsuburaya (Godzilla, Godzilla Raids Again, Throne of Blood, Rodan, Mothra), Teruyoshi Nakano (Godzilla vs. Mothra, Godzilla 1985), and Akira Watanabe (The Green Slime, Godzilla, Godzilla Raids Again, Destroy All Monsters).

The cast of the movie included a number of recognizable faces from other Toho films: Akira Takarada (Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Mothra, King Kong Escapes, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero), Kumi Mizuno (Godzilla: Final Wars, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Frankenstein Conquers the World), Chôtarô Tôgin (Destroy All Monsters), and Tôru Ibuki (Terror of Mechagodzilla, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero).

The plot of Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster has very little to do with the monsters themselves. A terrorist organization has taken over a small island, and is secretly developing nuclear weapons there. They use a giant shrimp, named Ebirah, to defend the island and prevent any of their captured slaves from escaping. However, they ultimately capture a Japanese citizen, and his family goes hunting after him, ultimately leading to the discovery of the secret base. Serendipitously, Godzilla is found sleeping in a cave nearby, and is awakened to fight Ebirah. Also, Mothra is hanging around on a nearby island (where the slaves were mostly kidnapped from), and eventually shows up to help towards the end of the story.

seamonster1Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster was initially planned to be a King Kong movie, and many of that monster’s trademarks and characteristics remain in the movie. Godzilla’s uncharacteristic obsession with a woman and his awakening via lightning were both associated with King Kong as opposed to the King of the Monsters. The lightning revival came from King Kong vs. Godzilla, which was also due to a last minute monster replacement (King Kong for Frankenstein’s Monster), making the trait all the more confusing.

The Sea Monster itself, Ebirah, is named after the japanese word for shrimp, ‘ebi.’ This essentially confirms that Ebirah is supposed to be a shrimp, though it looks a bit more like a lobster.

Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster interestingly marks the last appearance of a full-grown Mothra in the Showa era of Godzilla, though the larval form pops up again in Destroy All Monsters in 1968.

Mystery Science Theater 3000, the popular bad movie television show, had an episode dedicated to Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster in its second season. The episode immediately followed the more recognizable and terrible Godzilla vs. Megalon, which famously features the robot Jet Jaguar.

The reception to Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster was generally negative, and is regarded as one of the weaker entries into the series. It currently holds a rating of 5.1 on IMDb, along with a 39% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

First off, Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster definitely focuses far more on the human plot than the monsters, which is bound to be part of why it is so unpopular. Godzilla doesn’t even appear on screen until an hour into the picture. However, the story isn’t super-awful as far as the Showa era of Godzilla is concerned. The terrorist organization isn’t as memorable as sound-prone aliens from Planet X or angry cockroach people, but they serve well enough here.

The monster fighting that does appear in the movie is really lackluster. Ebirah isn’t particularly powerful, and doesn’t have any way to effectively compete with Godzilla, eand ventually gets his claws torn off without much fanfare. There are a couple of other minor battles, such as a skirmish between Godzilla and Mothra and the appearance of a Rodan-like bird monster, but they are both pretty brief and unmemorable. The movie does feature an infamous volleyball fight between Ebirah and Godzilla, which I believe pops up again re-purposed in the even more terrible Godzilla’s Revenge.

seamonster3My favorite part of the film by far is when Ebirah spears two people on one of his claws like a shish kebab, which both looks ridiculous and is kind of jarring. You don’t see the Toho monsters directly kill people very often, though death is heavily implied by their stomping and blasting. It definitely stands out as a highlight moment in the movie, and is one of the few clips worth checking out.

seamonster4Overall, Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster is a pretty mediocre entry in the Showa era of Godzilla. It isn’t particularly over-the-top or entertaining in comparison to the rest of the series, but also isn’t quite amusingly abysmal enough to make sitting through it much fun. The MST3K episode is pretty solid and the background trivia is interesting, so if you want to watch it, I’d recommend going that route with it.

It Follows

Clerk’s Pick

Hannah, Video Central (Columbus, OH)


It Follows

“This movie actually got me. Supernatural horror flicks don’t usually freak me out, but this one did. The way it just sort of slowly walks towards you…”


It Follows was written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, whose only previous feature film was 2010’s The Myth of The American Sleepover, a teen-focused romantic comedy.

The cast for It Follows is made up of a handful of young actors, none of whom have a lot of film experience: Maika Monroe (The Guest), Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi, Daniel Zovatto (Beneath), and Kier Gilchrist (United States of Tara) make up the mainstay, with a handful of others filling in depth roles.


The special effects work for It Follows is credited to Krisz Drouillard, whose most recognizable credit is likely on Kevin Smith’s 2014 foray into body horror, Tusk. The makeup team included Robert Kurtzman (Bubba Ho-Tep, The Faculty, Spawn, Maniac Cop 3, DeepStar Six, From Beyond, Army of Darkness) and Tom Luhtala (Late Phases, John Dies At The End), and the visual effects crew boasted Ed Mendez (Sin City, The Ladykillers, Catwoman, The Road, Spider-Man 3), Alessandro Pepe (Kung Fu Panda 2, Happy Feet), Greg Strasz (2012, White House Down), Raffaele Apuzzo (Nightcrawler), and Andrea Marotti (Getaway, Dracula 3D).

The distinctive and memorable music for It Follows was composed by Rich Vreeland, an electronic and chiptune artist who uses the moniker of ‘Disasterpeace.’ This was his foray into scoring films, though he provided the music for the hit indie video game Fez in 2012, and has a loyal following.

Cinematographer Mike Gioulakis has a long history of shooting short films, but his only other standout feature is the 2012 cult hit John Dies At The End, which was directed by Don Coscarelli, and also featured a number of common effects workers with It Follows.

It Follows received numerous awards and accolades, gaining praise throughout its festival run. nominated for the Audience Award at the Chicago International Film Festival and the Critics Week Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, among many others.

It Follows currently holds a rating of 7.0 on IMDb. It also has an astonishing 96% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, though it stands alongside a much lower audience score of 66%.

The film was made on an estimated budget of $2 million, and managed to gross a profitable $17 million in its total theatrical run. However, it was undoubtedly a much bigger critical hit than it was a financial one, and is primarily the darling of critics and horror die-hards.


I saw this film in theaters, knowing it already had immense acclaim behind it. There is certainly a lot interesting going on in this movie, not the least of which is the fact that it manages to create an effect of unease with both its audio and visual components. I think the score is probably the most distinctive aspect of the movie, and essentially creates something new by delving into something old: the iconic horror scores of John Carpenter. You can tell that the score is a sort of synthesis between Carpenter and the modern electronic drone of Kavinsky, which was popularized in Drive.

Creating ‘new’ out of ‘old’ is more or less the whole gist of the film’s style: the anachronism is even built interestingly into the set design and the background details: characters have modern mobile phones and electronic devices, but all of the televisions are ancient CRTs, the cars are vintage, and the movie theater has a live organist. In many ways, you could argue that we are living in a nostalgia generation, defined by its lust for the past. In that way, It Follows is the perfect encapsulation of our status quo.

I once had a jazz teacher who always gave the advice to his students to listen to and imitate great musicians. “But won’t I start sounding like ‘Bird’?” a student might say. He would respond: “You’ll never sound like Bird. You’ll sound like someone trying to sound like Bird, and that will be you.” It Follows is, as many have pointed out, a mockingbird of John Carpenter, and specifically Halloween. The music, the posture of the creature, the setting, and the shots all function as modernizations of that classic film, arguably more faithfully than the actual reboot of the franchise. However, I don’t think anyone would confuse this movie with a product from John Carpenter himself, in the same way that a saxophone student won’t be mistaken for Charlie Parker. It Follows feels, looks, and sounds like a movie trying to be a John Carpenter movie, and the resulting imitation is something that is both faithful and unique.

When it comes to problems with the movie, I found that the creature lost a lot of its intimidating ability one it was made clear that it was physical and definitively mortal. In general, monsters become less scary as characters discover their weaknesses and boundaries, like sunlight with vampires or silver with werewolves. However, “It” really needed to be unstoppable to be intimidating. Making it susceptible to bullets and electricity took a little too much away from its mystique. I also expected some sort of clever trap for the creature rather than a killing blow, which would have made more sense and kept the monster from losing its edge.

I also wasn’t particularly enthralled with the first kill of the movie, in which a young woman is discovered grotesquely contorted on a beach after fleeing from the creature. The way she was bent around struck me as a bit too comical, and I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of bendy-straw pretzel-making shenanigans the creature had to go through to get that effect. I imagine it wasn’t unlike making a balloon animal.

Back to a positive: I loved the way this movie used the underlying sexual anxieties of youth as a way to tap into a latent social fear. I think the best horror movies always do that to some degree, and it helps the film get a foot in the door to the viewer’s psyche, which makes it more effective at being genuinely horrific and unsettling. That is one of the biggest shortcomings of most Hollywood horrors made nowadays if you ask me.

Likewise, It Follows is very deliberate and creative in its use of color and light, particularly when it comes to shadows and water. Both the back yard pool and the finale municipal pool are shot in ways that are visually striking, and the blues always find a way to pop against the surroundings. All of the interior shots in the various are kept dark and are shot tightly, giving a distinct sense of claustrophobia and discomfort.



I can’t recommend It Follows highly enough. For many horror fans, I think It Follows and The Babadook have served as beacons of hope for the genre, and counterpoints to lazy Hollywood horrors like Ouija and Annabelle. I’m a little surprised that audiences haven’t been more receptive to It Follows on the whole. My guess is that the slow build of tension didn’t work for a lot of general audiences, who aren’t accustomed to atmospheric horror, and are more conditioned for jump scares and a simpler horror formula.

Water Foul: DeepStar Six

DeepStar Six


Today’s movie is one of the numerous 1989 deep ocean science fiction flicks: DeepStar Six.

DeepStar Six was written by two people: Geof Miller (House IV) and Lewis Abernathy (Terminal Invasion, House IV), neither of whom have many other writing credits of note.

DeepStar Six was directed and produced by Sean Cunningham, who was also behind Friday the 13th, The New Kids, and Spring Break, and also acted as a producer on Jason X and House.

The cinematographer on the film was Mac Ahlberg, who also shot such films as Re-Animator, King of the Ants, Evil Bong, Good Burger, Space Truckers, From Beyond, Dolls, Trancers, Ghoulies, and House.

The editor for DeepStar Six was David Handman, who also cut Jason X and Wishmaster, and served as assistant editor on Footloose and Staying Alive.

The music for the film was provided by Harry Manfredini, who also provided scores for House, Swamp Thing, Friday the 13th, Wishmaster, Jason X, and The Omega Code.

Aside from Sean Cunningham, the producers for DeepStar Six were Mario Kassar (Showgirls, Angel Heart, Red Heat, Total Recall, Jacob’s Ladder, Terminator 2), Patrick Markey (The Quick and The Dead, Joy Ride, House), and Andrew Vajna (Judge Dredd, The 13th Warrior, First Blood).

The special effects team included Steve Wang (Hell Comes To Frogtown), Mike Trcic (Leviathan), Doyle Smiley (Slipstream (2007)), Mark Shostrom (From Beyond), Robert Olmstead (Best Seller, Cellular, Predator 2), Steve Patino (From Beyond, Hell Comes To Frogtown), Greg Nicotero (Maniac Cop 3, The Black Cat, Dreams In The Witch House), James McLoughlin (Wolf, Son Of The Mask), Karen Mason (Leviathan, Congo, Lake Placid), Robert Kurtzman (Maniac Cop 3, From Beyond), David Kindlon (Leprechaun, Hell Comes to Frogtown, From Beyond, Wolf), Mike Edmonson (Daredevil, Wild Wild West), James Cummins (Jaws 3-D), Gino Crognale (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Troll, From Beyond), Francis Coates (Leonard Part 6), Everett Burrell (Re-Animator, Troll, Castle Freak), Al Broussard (Speed 2: Cruise Control), and John Blake (From Beyond, Leviathan),

The cast of DeepStar Six includes Taurean Blacque (Hill Street Blues), Nancy Everhard (The Punisher), Greg Evigan (TekWar), Miguel Ferrer (RoboCop, Twin Peaks, Hot Shots Part Deux), Nia Peeples (Blues Brothers 2000), and Cindy Pickett (Evolver, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).

deepstar3The plot to DeepStar Six follows the population of an experimental deep water military colony that comes under attack by a mysterious sea monster.

DeepStar Six kicked off the 1989 deep sea sci-fi boom, which also featured Leviathan, The Abyss, The Rift, Lords of the Deep, and The Evil Below. However, the early bird failed to get the worm on this occasion: the film just barely broke even on its theatrical run.

Robert Harmon (best known for The Hitcher) was initially going to direct the film, but left the production before filming. Cunningham, who was set to produce, took on the directing role as well.

The reception to DeepStar Six was pretty negative, likely due to unfavorable comparisons to the similar, more impressive films The Abyss and Leviathan. It currently holds a 5.1 rating on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 0% (critics) and 22% (audience).

I noticed from reading around that some more recent reviews of DeepStar Six compare it to 1998’s Sphere, which strikes me as a genuinely more similar movie to DeepStar Six than both of its major contemporaries, The Abyss and Leviathan.

The monster isn’t nearly as impressive as the bizarre concoction in Leviathan or the creatures from The Abyss, and that makes for a pretty significant comparative weakness. Personally, I thought it just looked like a Graboid from Tremors. The cast also isn’t nearly as deep for DeepStar Six as the other two movies, though I absolutely love Miguel Ferrer going increasingly off his rocker in this film.

deepstar2deepstar4Overall, DeepStar Six isn’t an awful flick, it just pales in comparison to its peers. If this had come out a year or more earlier, people probably would have been less harsh to it. That said, it is also far from fantastic: the pacing is certainly not great, and most of the components of the film are mediocre from top to bottom. It doesn’t deserve the abysmal reputation that it has accrued, and I think the more recent reviews and ratings of the film reflect that. This movie isn’t garbage, it is just middling, and to a certain degree a victim of its historical context.

As far as a recommendation goes, the only thing I loved about this movie was Miguel Ferrer’s over-the-top performance. The story plods along, and feels like the broad-strokes plot of Deep Blue Sea stretched to its absolute limit. The movie works fine as background noise if you just want to have something on Netflix, but it isn’t something people should particularly seek out.

Water Foul: Devil Fish

Devil Fish


Today’s installment into the “Water Foul” spotlight on the worst aquatic monster movies ever made is one of the illustrious members of IMDb’s Bottom 100: 1984’s Devil Fish.

Devil Fish was directed and co-written by Lamberto Bava, the son of the legendary giallo director Mario Bava (Black Sunday, Black Sabbath). He directed the film under the pseudonym of John Old, Jr., which was a frequent practice for Italian directors making knock-off films. Lamberto Bava also worked with noted Italian horror icon Dario Argento on the films Demons and Demons II.

The other credited writers on the film included Dardano Sacchetti (The Beyond, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Manhattan Baby), Gianfranco Clerici (Cannibal Holocaust, The New York Ripper), Luigi Cozzi (Starcrash, Hercules, The Adventures of Hercules 2), and Sergio Martino (The Mountain of the Cannibal God, The Great Alligator, Torso).

The cinematographer for Devil Fish was Giancarlo Ferrando, who also shot movies like Troll 2, Hands of Steel, Warrior of the Lost World, The Great Alligator, and Torso.

The editor on Devil Fish was one Roberto Sterbini, who has also performed editing duties on films like Zombi 3, Hands of Steel, and Beyond the Door II.

The music for Devil Fish was provided by Fabio Frizzi, who also provided scores to Zombie, The Beyond, and the outlandish 1977 colorized, Italian version of Godzilla by Devil Fish co-writer Luigi Cozzi.

The ‘shark’ for the movie was created by one Ovidio Taito, who astoundingly has no other listed special effects credits on IMDb. The rest of the special effects are credited to Germano Natali, who also worked on movies like Starcrash, Suspira, The Beyond, Hercules, and King Solomon’s Mines.

The plot of Devil Fish is pretty straightforward: it follows a hunt for a mysterious, unidentified creature that is attacking swimmers off the coast of Florida.

As the dialogue loves to remind the audience throughout the film, the monster featured in the movie is clearly not a shark. Despite this, one of the most common alternate titles of this movie is simply Shark. Other alternate titles included Red Ocean, Devouring Waves, Monster Shark, and Shark: Red On The Ocean.

The reception to Devil Fish online is incredibly negative, and its IMDb rating of 2.4 places it in the Bottom 100 of the website. However, this is mostly due to the fact that the movie was featured on the hit show Mystery Science Theater 3000, which tends to dramatically skew votes into the negative range.

Devil Fish was obviously a Jaws knockoff in concept, but it clearly went very wrong somewhere in the creation process. The plot moves almost unbearably slowly in the movie, and the plot lines are barely interesting enough to follow in the first place. There is also, of course, tons of bad science loosely thrown around to try to explain the squid-shark antagonist of the film. I particularly like that it is supposedly capable of breaking down into individual cells and reforming into countless copies of itself, provided they don’t completely destroy it within a set amount of time. As you could probably predict, the evil shark-beast was created by sinister scientists for a vague military purpose, which explains some of its more outlandish qualities.

As bad creature movies often do, the monster was shown far too early on in this movie, and is given too much exposure throughout the film. On top of that, it looks really damn goofy, because the design is pretty much a sharktopus. While it looks good as far as quality goes, particularly for a movie as cheap as this one, it is damn near impossible to take a sharktopus seriously as the central monster of a movie.

Aside from the monster, the blood effects used in this film are really shoddy. There is a point where a character is shot and instantaneously has clearly fake blood dried on his shirt, which is pointed out to great comedic effect by the MST3k crew.

Overall, Devil Fish is a shockingly dull movie, given what it is. Despite fleeting moments of amazingness, like when the monster is killed by a mass of flamethrowers, the pacing of the film is so awful that it is a chore to sit through the whole thing. Even the handful of attacks are boring and routine, whereas they should be highlights of the flick. Unless you are used to watching through movies with Mystery Science Theater 3000, this is a movie that you should absolutely skip. There just isn’t enough going on here to be entertaining.

Water Foul: The Shark Hunter

The Shark Hunter


Today’s feature is a little-known Franco Nero movie from 1979: The Shark Hunter.

The Shark Hunter was written by a team that included Alfredo Gianetti (The Blue Eyed Bandit, Divorce Italian Style), co-producer Jaime Comas Gil (A Fistful of Dollars, Cabo Blanco), Tito Carpi (Escape from the Bronx), Jesus Folgar (Watch Out, We’re Mad) and Gisella Longo (Adam and Eve).

The director of The Shark Hunter, Enzo Castellari, was also behind a number of other low-budget Italian productions like The Last Shark, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Keoma, and The Inglorious Bastards.

The editor for the film was Gianfranco Amicucci, who also cut Keoma, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, and The Inglorious Barstards for Castellari.

The cinematographer on The Shark Hunter was Raul Perez Cubero, who accrued nearly 100 cinematography and director of photography film credits over his career.

The special effects in The Shark Hunter are credited to Alvaro Passeri, which is, according to IMDb, a pseudonym for producer and director Massimiliano Cerchi, who went on to create such films as Satan Claus and Hellbilly.

sharkhunter8The music for The Shark Hunter was composed by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis, who contributed scores to a number of other low-budget features like The Last Shark, Keoma, and Alien 2: On Earth.

The cast of The Shark Hunter includes Franco Nero (Django, Massacre Time, Die Hard II, Omega Code 2), Werner Pochath (Flatfoot in Africa), Jorge Luke (Clear and Present Danger), and Michael Forest (Body of Evidence, Macross Plus, Big O, Mobile Suit Gundam F91).

The reception to The Shark Hunter online is mixed: it currently has a 5.0 rating on IMDb and a 67% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. However, it is certainly not well known, and both of those numbers come off of very small sample sizes.

I usually don’t cover movies that I can’t understand. However, I decided to give this a shot at this one with translated YouTube subtitles. The results were less than stellar.

sharkhunter2 sharkhunter3 sharkhunter4 sharkhunter5 sharkhunter6In spite of the language barrier, I was still able to piece together the gist of the story. Franco Nero stars as a mysterious professional shark hunter with a hidden criminal past, who has taken up on a remote island after the death of his wife. He becomes engulfed in a wild treasure hunt when word starts to spread about a downed aircraft just off shore with a massive load of cash. All of the forces need his input because of his expertise as a shark hunter (the waters around the wreck are infested with sharks), and for his criminal prowess. This places him in the middle of a dangerous web of violent and greedy individuals that start to appear on the island.

The Shark Hunter takes a while to get going, but the last third of the movie is pretty much non-stop. Once all of the invested parties are established and the treasure heist is planned, everything heats up pretty well: there’s a pretty decent boat/plane chase, a bunch of alarmingly realistic shark wrestling. and Franco Nero wearing what I assume is the most ridiculous wigs ever to grace a film. As badass as Nero is throughout the film, that wig of blonde, flowing locks still looks absolutely ludicrous, and steals the show most of the time.

sharkhunter7As I mentioned previously, there are a number of sequences in this movie where Franco Nero’s stunt double (I assume) actually wrestles a goddamn shark in the water. I was worried that the movie was about to turn into an unintentional remake of Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, and I’m actually curious as to how they pulled all of the shark wrestling off. Some years earlier, Samuel Fuller had similar stunts in his film Shark! that utilized live, sedated sharks, which tragically resulted in the death of one of the film’s stuntmen. I’d like to think that they didn’t do the same thing here.

sharkhunter1I kind of like the plot to this movie (at least the bits that I could understand), and appreciated the way that the crime and heist aspects played into the adventure setting. It made for an interesting sort of genre-bender that took notes from all across the board, synthesizing into something that felt unique.

Overall, this isn’t a particularly awful film, but it certainly isn’t high quality, and suffers from an obviously shoe-string budget. The beginning is far too slow, but the conclusion pretty much makes up for the weaknesses of the first act. The shark wrestling is kind of nerve-wracking because you have to assume that the stunt people were actually in significant danger, which adds an extra element to the movie (for better or worse). I would love to find a legitimately subtitled or dubbed copy of The Shark Hunter, because it was kind of a struggle to get through with the nonsense translations, but it was still compelling enough to get me through it.

Water Foul: Piranha II

Piranha II: The Spawning


Today, I’m going to be continuing my spotlight of the worst aquatic horror movies with yet another infamous sequel: Piranha II: The Spawning.

Piranha II has three credited screenplay writers: James Cameron (The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Avatar, Titanic), Ovidio Assonitis (The Visitor, Tentacles), and Charles H. Eglee (Dark Angel, Dexter, The Shield). James Cameron is also the sole credited director, however, he reportedly was dismissed and had no control over the editing process, which was dictated by producer and co-writer Ovidio Assonitis. Because of this, there is some question of how much of Cameron’s work actually made it to the screen.

The cinematographer for Piranha II was Roberto Plazzoli, who also shot such films as Starcrash, Midnight Ride, and Tentacles. The editor on Piranha II was Roberto Silvi, who also cut the films Tombstone, Leviathan, and The Ninth Configuration.

piranhaii2The musical score for Piranha II was composed by Stelvio Cipriani, who also created music for the Mario Bava movies Baron Blood and A Bay of Blood, as well as a number of other killer animal flicks like The Great Alligator and Beaks.

Aside from Ovidio Assonitis, the other producers on Piranha II were Chako van Leeuwen (Piranha, Piranha 3D, Piranha 3DD) and Jeff Schechtman (Piranha, Invasion of the Bee Girls, Enter the Dragon, Killing Zoe).

The effects team for Piranha II included Brain Wade (Van Helsing, Wild Wild West, Galaxy of Terror, Jaws 3D), Maurizio Trani (Troll 2, 1990: The Bronx Warriors), Gilberto Carbonaro (Keoma), Mario Cassar (Leviathan, Cutthroat Island, Final Justice), Antonio Corridori (The Italian Job, The Last Shark), Gino De Rossi (Hudson Hawk, Casino Royale, The Inglorious Bastards), and Glannetto De Rossi (Kull The Conqueror, Dune, The Beyond, Zombie).

piranhaii3The cast for Piranha II is primarily made up of Lance Henriksen (The Last Samurai, Aliens, Hard Target, The Terminator), Ricky Paull Goldin (The Blob, All My Children), Carole Davis (Mannequin, The Flamingo Kid), and Steve Marachuk (Eyes of Laura Mars).

The plot of Piranha II follows an investigation into a series of bizarre deaths in the waters around a Caribbean island. While it is at first suspected of being the work of sharks or barracudas, it is eventually discovered that the genetically modified monsters from Piranha have unexpectedly returned, and mutated into having the ability to fly.

James Cameron is outspoken about how much he deeply dislikes the final product of Piranha II, saying the following:

I was replaced after two-and-a-half weeks by the Italian producer. He just fired me and took over, which is what he wanted to do when he hired me. It wasn’t until much later that I even figured out what had happened. It was like, “Oh, man, I thought I was doing a good job.” But when I saw what they were cutting together, it was horrible. In actual fact, I did some directing on the film, but I don’t feel it was my first movie.

Not only was Cameron dismissed before the film was completed and locked out of the editing room, but Miller Drake, who was a trailer cutter alongside Piranha director Joe Dante at Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, was briefly attached to direct before him, and was quickly fired by Assonitis before filming. This is particularly unfortunate, as his idea for the movie sounds pretty cool:

Miller’s intention was that Piranha II should hinge upon Kevin McCarthy’s scientist from Piranha, even though he had seemingly perished in the first movie. “I pitched this idea of bringing Kevin McCarthy back, all chewed up and mutilated from the previous movie,” says Drake. “He was on an abandoned oil rig and he was developing these flying piranhas out there to get revenge, or whatever. I think we were going to bring Barbara Steele back and have him kill her by smashing her head through a fish tank.”

The idea for James Cameron’s hit The Terminator came from the time period when Piranha II was releasing in Italy. Cameron got significantly ill while powerlessly fretting over the movie overseas in the United States, and had a vivid fever dream about a skeletal, killer robot, which became the primary inspiration for The Terminator’s central machine.

Regardless of the unusual situation behind the scenes, Piranha II is still officially James Cameron’s directorial debut, at least on paper. His name remaining on the picture after being fired is apparently due to a contractual stipulation which required that an American had to be credited as the director on the film, or else he would likely have been taken off the movie’s credits, as he initially requested.

piranhaii5James Cameron’s b-movie roots interestingly go deeper than just Piranha II. Before his ill-fated directorial debut, he worked on such films as Galaxy of Terror, Battle Beyond the Stars, and Escape From New York as a visual effects artist, production designer, and art director.

The budget for Piranha II was astoundingly reported as less than $150,000, which it managed to make back with a marginal profit on a limited theatrical release in Europe.

Piranha II has been widely loathed by audiences and critics ever since its release. It currently holds a rating of 3.5 on IMDb, alongside amazingly low Rotten Tomatoes scores of 7% (critics) and 10% (audiences).

The fish in Piranha II just look terrible, even in comparison to the less than impressive monstrous stars of the original Piranha. The addition of wings on the creatures just comes off as comical rather than menacing, in spite of how hard the movie tries to make them terrifying. Fortunately, the film wisely tries to keep the fish off screen and out of focus as much as possible, but there is just no getting around how goofy they look when they do show up.

piranhaii4Worse than anything else is the fact that Piranha II is astoundingly slowly paced, and doesn’t do much to keep the audience’s attention. Honestly, this is one of the most boring movies I have watched since I finished the IMDb Bottom 100, and that is saying a lot. I was able to focus on an Italian Franco Nero movie with no subtitles better than I could stay tuned into Piranha II.

Overall, Piranha II is a train wreck of a movie with little to no redeeming value. However, the behind the scenes stories are really fascinating and interesting, enough so that it is almost worth watching through the movie to get some context. If you aren’t planning to do some reading for the sake of trivia, though, you should avoid Piranha II at all costs. However, the clips of the flying piranhas are worth checking out, because those are hilarious.

Water Foul: Alligator



Today, my “Water Foul” series on the worst aquatic-themed horror movies continues with 1980’s Alligator.

Alligator was directed by Lewis Teague, who went on to direct the Stephen King film adaptations of Cujo and Cat’s Eye, as well as the Jay Leno and Pat Morita buddy cop comedy, Collision Course.

Alligator was written by John Sayles (Piranha, The Howling, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Brother From Another Planet) and Frank Ray Perilli (Laserblast), though the latter apparently only wrote the almost entirely scrapped first draft.

The cinematographer on Alligator was Joseph Mangine, who also shot Albert Pyun’s The Sword and The Sorcerer, Mother’s Day, and Alligator 2: The Mutation.

Alligator featured two primary editors: Larry Bock (Final Justice, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, The Mighty Ducks, Bring It On) and Ron Medico (Death Bed: The Bed That Eats).

The music for Alligator was composed by Craig Huxley, who also contributed scores to the television show Walker, Texas Ranger and the Meat Loaf musical movie, Roadie.

The producers for Alligator included Mark L. Rosen (Spice World, The Sword and The Sorcerer), Tom Jacobson (The Ladykillers, Flashdance), Brandon Chase (Alligator 2: The Mutation, UFO’s Are Real), and Robert Bremson (Over The Edge, Obsession).

The special effects team for Alligator included Robert Short (Chopping Mall, Piranha), Richard Helmer (Apocalypse Now, Airplane!, Child’s Play), William Shourt (Serenity, Minority Report), John Ramsey (U-571), Pete Gerard (Ghostbusters, Terminator 2, Batman & Robin), David Beasley (Inspector Gadget, Stargate, The Blob), and David Bartholomew (Ghost Dad, Never Say Never Again).

alligator4The cast of Alligator is composed of Robert Forster (Jackie Brown, Vigilante), Robin Riker (The Bold and The Beautiful), Michael Gazzo (Last Action Hero, Cannonball Run II, The Godfather Part II), Dean Jagger (Game of Death, Elmer Gantry, King Creole), Sydney Lassick (Carrie, Cool as Ice), and an early, uncredited appearance by Kane Hodder (Jason X, Friday the 13th Part VIII).

The story of the film centers around a series of mysterious killings in the sewers of Chicago. The investigation ultimately reveals that an over-sized alligator, which had lived off of discarded animal corpses and experimental lab rats after being flushed as a baby, is hunting beneath the busy streets, and killing off countless unsuspecting locals. The police force then has to hunt down and destroy the beast, while the local government tries to cover up the sinister origins of the creature.

Apparently, the original script by Ray Perilli had the story taking place in Milwaukee, and outlandishly explained that the alligator grew massive in the sewers due to runoff from beer production. John Sayles reportedly scrapped the entire draft and started over from scratch, though Perilli was still ultimately given a writing credit on the movie.

According to IMDb, the buggy animatronic alligator used in the film was donated to the University of Florida to act as an unofficial mascot for the Florida Gators, though I wasn’t able to confirm its current location.

ALLIGATOR, 1980Alligator ultimately received a sequel in the form of Alligator II: The Mutation in 1991, a whole 11 years after the film’s initial release in 1980. Unfortunately, it was not received well, meaning I will likely give it a look here on the blog sooner or later.

Astoundingly, Alligator spawned a popular tie-in children’s board game made by the Ideal Toy Company. The commercial for it is up on YouTube, and provides one hell of a flashback to a time when children’s toys were made from R-rated movies.

The reception to Alligator was generally mixed: it currently holds Rotten Tomatoes scores of 67% (critics) and 48% (audiences), with an IMDb rating of 5.9. However, the movie was ultimately quite profitable in its theatrical run, grossing $6.5 million on an estimated $1.75 million budget.

All in all, the alligator itself doesn’t look half bad in this movie. Apparently it didn’t work very well, much like Bruce (the shark from Jaws), so the crew had to be a little creative in how they shot it. I think it worked out pretty well considering, as the gator looks genuinely intimidating. They aren’t particularly hyperactive animals to start with, so it isn’t like they needed a whole lot of action shots of the creature doing gymnastics. In my opinion, the large, lumbering gait of the beast seemed to drive home how little fear it had for humans during its limited time on screen, which I think contrasts pretty greatly to the Lake Placid crocodiles, who always struck me as being a bit too nimble.

There is an odd comedic tone to Alligator that is laced into the characters and the dialogue in the film. It is clearly self aware about what it is, and mocks itself lightly while not ruining the genuine monster movie tone. It never drifts so far as to become outright parody, which is a good thing in my opinion. This is a movie that hits right on the nose of the tropes and characteristic of a Jaws-era monster thriller, and it plays with them well.

I, like most people of my generation, only know Robert Forster as a distinctive-looking older character actor. Apart from some clips from William Lustig’s Vigilante, I had never seen any films from the earlier part of his career before this one, and it is almost surreal to see him so young. It reminded me a little bit of Sam Elliott in Frogs, in that he is almost unrecognizable as a younger man.

alligator3Overall, this isn’t all that bad of a monster flick. It has unfortunately been mostly forgotten, as the legacy of Crocodilian horror seems to be dominated by Lake Placid. That said, this is a flick that is worth checking out just for the novelty of it. There are some cheap effects strewn throughout the movie, but the plot is just darkly humorous enough to keep most b-movie lovers invested in the story through to the end. If you are craving an off the wall monster movie with some 1980s grit, Alligator can certainly provide.




This post is based on a viewer request, which is being filled due to a donation to the Secular Student Alliance via my campaign during Secular Students Week (June 10-17, 2015). Thanks to all for your contributions!

Today’s feature is the bizarre 1987 romantic comedy, Mannequin.

Mannequin was directed and co-written by Michael Gottlieb, who was also behind such films as Mr. Nanny and A Kid In King Arthur’s Court. His co-writer and executive producer on the feature was Edward Rugoff, who would go on to contribute to the even more infamous sequel, Mannequin Two: On the Move.

The cinematographer for Mannequin was Tim Suhrstedt, who has also shot such films as Idiocracy, Office Space, Men At Work, and Teen Wolf.

Mannequin had two primary credited editors: Frank Jimenez (They Live, Rambo: First Blood Part II) and Academy Award winner Richard Halsey (Rocky, The Net, Sister Act, American Gigolo).

The music for Mannquin was provided by Sylvester Levay, who also notably composed the scores for the films Hot Shots! and Cobra.

Outside of Edward Rugoff, the other producers on Mannequin were Art Levinson (Mr. Mom, The Money Pit), Joseph Farrell (Joyful Noise), and Catherine Paura, a film marketing professional.

The effects team for Mannequin included Richard Arrington (Field of Dreams, Purple Rain), Phil Cory (Misery, Weekend At Bernie’s), Hans Metz (The Thing, Splash, Theodore Rex), and Ray Svedin (Speed, The Monster Squad, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot).

The cast of Mannequin features Andrew McCarthy (Pretty in Pink, Weekend at Bernie’s, Weekend at Bernie’s II), James Spader (Wolf, Crash, Tuff Turf), Kim Cattrall (Police Academy, Big Trouble In Little China), Carole Davis (Piranha Part Two: The Spawning, The Flamingo Kid), G.W. Bailey (Scorcher, Short Circuit, Police Academy: Mission to Moscow), and Estelle Getty (The Golden Girls, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot).

Mannequin wound up with an Academy Award nomination (Best Song) for Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” which was created for the soundtrack. The song ultimately hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Mannequin was given a sequel in the form of Mannequin 2: On The Move in 1991. However, it failed to become a financial success, and was generally reviled by critics and audiences alike. Stay tuned, because I’ll probably be giving this one a look sooner or later.

Mannequin seems to be to some degree inspired by the Twilight Zone episode “The After Hours,” about mannequins who come to life after the store closes. However, in “The After Hours,” the central character isn’t aware that she is a mannequin, and eventually has to accept her status as an inanimate object in a twist ending. Mannequin, on the other hand, features a human who is cursed into being a mannequin, and is only able to be active at night, which is played for laughs. There is a quick mention of The Twilight Zone in the movie, though the line is a throwaway reference. The plots are ultimately very different, but the influence on the premise is clear.

The reception to Mannequin was generally negative: it currently holds a 5.7 score on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 22% (critics) and 55% (audience). Despite the unenthusiastic reception, Mannequin ultimately grossed well over $40 million domestically in its theatrical run, making it a significant financial success on a budget of $6 million.


The mannequin herself is a really odd character. First, there are the obvious mechanical questions. How exactly does her condition work? It seemed to imply time travel in the beginning of the movie, but how did that turn her into an inanimate object? Also, how does she keep finding specific people to bring her to life? None of this is ever adequately explained, which should be no surprise. However, the mannequin is also odd as a character, as she seems to fall in love with Switcher for no particular reason at all, and is enamored with him out of the gate. It is all unrealistic enough that it is impossible not to question if the character is really in his head after all, because it becomes increasingly implausible to believe that the mannequin character could be real. The fact that the audience only ever sees the mannequin alive from Switcher’s point of view also brings this into question, at least until the very end of the film, at which time she is cured of her mannequin-ism by true love (or something like that).


One of the accessory characters in the movie is Switcher’s ex-girlfriend’s coworker, who is only defined by his persistent and blatant sexual harassment of her. It is clearly supposed to be played for laughs, which is massively uncomfortable, and ever creepier when she ultimately decides to sleep with him for some reason (possibly because she was dumped for an inanimate object).

Mannequin features one truly outlandish character in ‘Hollywood’: a campy, flamboyant stereotype who is Switcher’s closest friend and co-worker. All of that said, he certainly livens up the movie, particularly with the hilarious costume designing done for him. Nothing got me laughing in this movie as much as the outlandish sunglasses that showed up on Hollywood in every other scene. Likewise, James Spader is at his scummiest in this film as the corrupt antagonist, and it is just impossible not to love-hate a Spader bad guy performance.


Something else honestly bothered me about the plot to this movie: do people actually pay attention to window displays in department stores, to the point that it influences their shopping decisions? This is a key focus in the movie, and a driving aspect of the plot. Most of the story circulates around competing window displays at two different department stores, and that’s how the main character winds up finding his success. I always assumed that window displays were a pretty basic way to showcase some new product, as opposed to being the primary aspect of a shop’s advertising. I’m pretty sure that window displays have dramatically minimized in the U.S. over the past few years, as shoppers have moved away from going to traditional malls. So, maybe this plot is more of a sign of the times than anything else.

There are a number of really distracting transition effects used throughout the movie, which I assume were intentionally included. Typically, editors try to make their cuts as subtle as possible, but the ones here stand out immensely. My best guess is that they were intended to make the film seem more cartoonish, but I found them more distracting than anything else, particularly because of how consistently they were used.

Of course, there is no way not to address the fact that this movie has a main character who is regularly banging a mannequin. That is pretty strange no matter what the  context is, whether there is a time traveling Egyptian curse or not. Weirder than that, however, is the way people unrealistically react to his behavior with the mannequin. His coworkers mostly just giggle and gossip about his shenanigans, and occasionally eavesdrop on him.

Overall, Mannequin is damn strange on its surface, but is really just a traditional romantic comedy once you dig into it a little. The characters are simple, the plot is nonsense, and the whole film seems to take place in an alternate reality where people are little more than flesh cartoons. I didn’t mind the experience of watching it, but I can’t think of any reason to recommend it. The movie isn’t painful to sit through, but I’m still not sure why anyone would necessarily want to. For the sake of curiosity, it is probably worth watching to say that you did.

The Last Dragon

The Last Dragon


This post is based on a viewer request, which is being filled due to a donation to the Secular Student Alliance via my campaign during Secular Students Week (June 10-17, 2015). Thanks to all for your contributions!

Today’s feature is Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon, a musical martial arts movie that has become a true cult classic.

The credited writer of The Last Dragon is  Louis Venosta, who only has a handful of other writing credits listed on IMDb. Outside of one short film, the only other things he has written are Bird On A Wire and a handful of episodes of the science fiction television show First Wave.

The Last Dragon was directed by Michael Schultz, was was also behind Car Wash and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. More recently, he has directed a handful of episodes of television shows like Arrow, Chuck, and Touched By An Angel.

The cinematography on The Last Dragon was provided by James A. Contner, who also shot Jaws 3-D, The Flamingo Kid, and Cruising. He has done a good deal of directing on television, including numerous episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, 21 Jump Street, and Charmed.

Christopher Holmes served as the editor for The Last Dragon: an experienced cutter who has also worked on films like Five Easy Pieces, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Car Wash, Donnie Brasco, Staying Alive, and Conan the Barbarian.

The special effects work on the film is credited to Gary Zeller, who also worked on Scanners, Dawn of the Dead, Vigilante, Visiting Hours, and Amityville II: The Possession. The makeup effects were  provided by Allen Weisinger, who has done effects work on such films as The Wiz, Wolfen, Tootsie, Goodfellas, The Silence of the Lambs, and Scent of a Woman.

The music for The Last Dragon was composed by Misha Segal, who has also provided scores to such movies as The Human Centipede III, Ninja III: The Domination, and The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking.

The producers on The Last Dragon were Joseph M Caracciolo (Spider-Man 3, Charlie’s Angels, Biloxi Blues, 8MM), Rupert Hitzig (Jaws 3-D, Wolfen), and the famed record producer and songwriter Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown.

The Last Dragon was choreographed in part by Lester Wilson, who famously planned the choreography for movies like The Wiz, Saturday Night Fever, and Sister Act.

The cast of The Last Dragon features Taimak (No More Dirty Deals), Vanity (Never Too Young To Die, Deadly Illusion, Action Jackson), Christopher Murney (Barton Fink), Julius Carry (Disco Godfather), Faith Prince (Huff, Spin City), Mike Starr (Ed Wood, On Deadly Ground, Anne B. Real, Snake Eyes, Black Dynamite, The Ice Harvest), Jim Moody (Personal Best, Lean On Me, Fame), Ernie Reyes, Jr. (Red Sonja, Surf Ninjas, Paper Dragons, Rush Hour 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze), and future notable actors William H. Macy (Cellular, Evolver, Fargo, Edmond) and Chazz Palminteri (A Bronx Tale, In The Mix, The Usual Suspects) in small, early roles.


The plot of The Last Dragon  follows a young martial artist living in Harlem, who winds up on the wrong side of a local martial arts obsessed crime boss, while also also getting involved in a feud between a violent music promoter and a famous singer/television show host. He has to face all of these challenges while simultaneously working to attain the final level of martial arts mastery, known as “The Glow.”

The soundtrack for The Last Dragon earned two Razzie nominations for Worst Original Song: the title theme song, and Vanity’s “7th Heaven.”

The famous martial arts movie Enter the Dragon, starring Bruce Lee,  appears during a theater sequence towards the beginning of The Last Dragon, which was clearly a major inspiration for this film. Likewise, clips of Fists of Fury and The Chinese Connection pop up later in the film, as well as some explicit dialogue about the influence of Bruce Lee on the lead character.

The hit song “Rhythm of the Night” by DeBarge was released as part of the soundtrack for The Last Dragon, and ultimately got as high as #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

The band LMFAO, which was made up of two descendants of The Last Dragon producer Berry Gordy, references the film in their hit single “Sexy and I Know It,” with the lyric “like Bruce Leroy I got The Glow.”

The Last Dragon currently has a score of 6.8 on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 20% (critics) and 86% (audience). It is worth noting what accounts for that huge gulf: the Rotten Tomatoes critics score comes almost entirely from reviews that were written at the time of the film’s release, whereas the IMDb rating and Rotten Tomatoes audience score are continually updated with new submissions and input. The huge gulf between the reception it received from critics at the time and the reputation it has in the minds of moviegoers now is quite notable, and reflects its status as a cult classic in the opinions of many.

While it was a critical failure at the time, The Last Dragon managed to gross an impressive $25.7 million at the domestic box office, making it a financial success on a reported budget of $10 million.

Some of the songs featured in The Last Dragon are unfathomably awful, like Vanity’s “7th Heaven.” I don’t know what exactly went wrong there, but it just sounds awkward and really unpleasant, which is surprising for a movie that is supposed to be powered by the musical numbers.

Speaking of the songs, the one really successful entry into the soundtrack is “Rhythm of the Night,” which I mentioned previously. However, it winds up getting obviously shoehorned into the movie, which grinds the plot to a halt for the duration that it plays. Theoretically, the soundtrack is suppose to accentuate the movie, and not deliberately distract from it, which is how the song winds up functioning here.

The villain of the film, Sho ‘Nuff, is a fantastically hammy adversary for the stoic hero, ‘Bruce’ LeRoy Green, and his portrayal is probably the most memorable aspect of the movie. Personally, I wish he featured more prominently in the film, as he seems to disappear for a while in the middle of the story. On the flip side, Taimak clearly isn’t much of an actor (which is particularly clear when anything emotional is required of him), though he seems more than competent with the stunts and fighting.


The Last Dragon has a generally flashy design to it all the way from the costumes to the sets, which is justifiably over-the-top given the tone and style of the movie. I could see how it could turn some people off, but I thought it all worked pretty well.


The fight sequences that pop up in The Last Dragon could be shot better to emphasize the action, but they certainly aren’t awful by any means. For the most part, the crew’s experience wasn’t with martial arts movies, so it is understandable that they weren’t experts at pulling that aspect of the film off. And, to their credit, it is for the most part good enough.

The Last Dragon rightfully doesn’t take itself too seriously, and audiences certainly shouldn’t either. This is a film that is, above all else, fun and entertaining. It isn’t meant to be any deeper than its surface value, and there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that. I mean, ‘Bruce’ LeRoy? We aren’t dealing with subtlety here. But honestly, who is complaining? The movie knows exactly what it is, and leans into that identity.

Speaking of which, naming the central character ‘Bruce’ LeRoy was a nice homage to the countless Bruce Lee clone movies that flooded the video market after Enter the Dragon, which all seemed to use a permutation of the name ‘Bruce Lee’ for their lead.

Overall, The Last Dragon is a pretty entertaining flick that merges two distinct styles, though it certainly has a whole lot of flaws. However, most of them just contribute to the charm of the flick, and help build the ambiance of the movie being an honest Bruce Lee knockoff film. The Last Dragon is a fun ride that is worth checking out for bad movie fans, though it drifts into being too self-aware at moments to appreciate as an earnest good-bad feature. Regardless, it is plenty of fun.