Today, I’m going to take a look at the Brian Bosworth biker movie, Stone Cold.
The plot of Stone Cold is summarized on IMDb as follows:
A tough Alabama cop is blackmailed by the FBI into going undercover in a violent Mississippi biker gang.
Stone Cold was directed by Craig Baxley, a veteran stuntman who also directed Action Jackson, I Come In Peace, Left Behind III, and numerous episodes of The A-Team.
The screenplay for Stone Cold was written by Walter Doniger, a long-time writer and director with listed credits going back to 1941, including hundreds of episodes of Peyton Place, and numerous episodes of Kung Fu.
The cast of Stone Cold is led by Brian Bosworth, a contemporaneous football star and public personality from the University of Oklahoma Sooners and Seattle Seahawks. The rest of the cast includes noted character actors Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Hard Target, The Terminator, Pumpkinhead, Near Dark, Super Mario Bros.) and William Forsythe (The Rock, Raising Arizona, Virtuosity, Out For Justice, The Substitute).
The cinematographer for the film was Alexander Gruszynski, whose other credits include The Craft, Tremors, Hamlet 2, and a number of Tyler Perry’s Madea films.
Three editors were credited for work on Stone Cold: Edward A. Warschilka (Escape From LA, The Running Man, Vampires, In The Mouth Of Madness, Big Trouble In Little China, Child’s Play 3), Mark Helfrich (RIPD, Season of the Witch, Red Dragon, Action Jackson, Predator, Revenge of the Ninja), and Larry Bock (How High, Critters, The Mighty Ducks, Alligator, Final Justice, Joysticks).
The music for Stone Cold was composed by Sylvester Levay, who also provided music for Cobra, Hot Shots!, Mannequin, and the television show Airwolf. Levay even won a Grammy in 1975 for writing the pop song “Fly Robin Fly.”
Interestingly, the original director for the project was Bruce Malmuth (Hard To Kill, Nighthawks, Pentathlon), but he was fired shortly into filming and replaced by Craig Baxley. Due to Baxley’s vision for the film differing significantly from Malmuth’s, most of what had already been filmed was scrapped. Later, the film would go through extensive cutting again in order to avoid an NC-17 rating from the MPAA.
Stone Cold was primarily filmed on location for the film’s plot along the Gulf Coast, in cities like Mobile, AL, Bay St. Louis, MS, and Pensacola, FL, with some filming also taking place in Arkansas.
The IMDb page for Stone Cold features one of the best pieces of film trivia I’ve come across. Not only is it thorough, accurate, and esoteric, but it about one of the most minor details shown in the film:
The meal Brian Bosworth makes for his Nile monitor (the big lizard) is not at all suitable for that animal. Reptiles cannot digest citrus fruit (orange juice) or dairy/chocolate (snickers bars). Technically the potatoes & bananas wouldn’t be bad for the monitor but fried food (the potato chips) wouldn’t be good for it just like the candy bar but potatoes and bananas are not part of the animals diet either. Nile monitors are carnivores and only the eggs would have been appropriate for it. People who keep Nile Monitors as pets would be feeding it pre-killed mice/rats, rabbits, baby chickens, parts of full grown chickens, ground turkey, ground beef, fish and if they keep other animals they might even feed them ones that died of natural causes as well.
Stone Cold proved to be a significant financial failure upon release, taking in only $9 million on an estimated production budget of $25 million. Critically, it didn’t fare much better, though audiences have begun to appreciate it for its cheesiness. Currently, Stone Cold holds an IMDb user rating of 5.9/10, along with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 25% from critics and 63% from audiences.
To begin with, Stone Cold is nothing if not delightfully over the top. The explosions, bike chases, stunts, and costuming are all top-grade cheese, and make for a delightfully greasy early-90s action film. It may not be quality cinema by any means, but it is a hell of a time capsule back to a bygone era of atrocious fashions.
As far as the performances go, for a non-actor athlete, Bosworth isn’t too bad here. Compared to Michael Jordan or Shaq, he is a natural on the screen. However, as is pointed out in the Time Out review of the film, Lance Henriksen “steals the movie from under Bosworth’s nose.” Not only is Henriksen clearly having fun with this role, but they is maybe the most lively he has ever been on screen. His usual characters are cold, stark, or steely – this turn as a grinning, murderous maniac is a quite welcome change. Apparently, he even wrote all of his own lines for the part, which probably made the performance all the more organic.
There honestly isn’t much more to say about Stone Cold – you know what you are getting here. I personally think it is a good time, particularly if you dig up the Rifftrax-enhanced version of the film. I also appreciate some of the “Redneck Riviera” filming locations, which doesn’t pop up on screen terribly often. If you are looking for a bad movie for a party with some casual folks, this isn’t a bad pick.