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Murdercycle

Murdercycle

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Today’s flick is a little-known 1999 feature from the infamous library of Full Moon Entertainment: the amazingly-titled Murdercycle.

Murdercycle was distributed by Full Moon Entertainment, an outfit run by Charles Band that is infamous for b-level horror movies like Castle Freak, Demonic Toys, and Dollman, and notoriously terrible franchises like Puppet Master, The Evil Bong, and The Gingerdead Man.

Apparently, Murdercycle was created from the remnants of an unrealized Charles Band project from back in the days of Empire Pictures, which would have involved motorcycles battling each other in something called Battle Bikes. However, it didn’t get made before Empire folded, and Band went back to the drawing board years later under his new Full Moon label.

Between the director and two credited screenwriters for the movie, only one of them has any other credits to his name: writer Neal Marshall Stevens, who used his frequent pseudonym “Benjamin Carr” for the project. His other credits include Retro Puppet Master, Hellraiser: Deader, and Thir13en Ghosts, along with a handful of other low budget horror films.

The plot of Murdercycle is summarized on IMDb as follows:

A meteor falls to earth near a secret CIA military hideout and merges with a motorcycle and it’s rider to create an alien soldier bent on recovering an alien artifact. Military soldiers with the help of a female doctor that can read minds try to figure out what is going on and how to stop it before it kills them. They are also hindered by the CIA agent in charge of the base who refuses to divulge the hideouts’ secrets which could help them.

At first glance, Murdercycle seems to have all of the required elements for a fun b-movie. Honestly, I was sold on the title alone. A killer motorcycle? How could that be boring?

I went into Murdercycle without any other background than that. Based on the title, I thought of a few directions the movie might go. It could be a story like Death Proof or The Hitcher, about an unhinged biker who builds a rig equipped with blades, explosives, and gadgets for terrorizing people on the road. Or, maybe the motorcycle is just operating itself for purposes of mischief and murder, like a Maximum Overdrive or Killdozer situation. Either way, I would have been more than content.

Instead, Murdercycle has very little to do with the titular vehicular manslaughterist (which, as it turns out, is an alien that absorbs technology). The movie is, weirdly enough, a bit of a character drama, and spends a lot of time focusing on betrayals, interpersonal tensions, and widespread deception. The murderous wheeler is an occasional interjection of lackluster pyrotechnics into what is otherwise a military drama. While that might sound kind of intriguing to some, the characters and dialogue are pretty severely lacking, and the acting ranges from “soap opera adequate” to “community theater unqualified.”

The motorcycle itself is disappointing as well. It isn’t even a motorcycle as much as it is a dirt bike with a bunch of vaguely menacing accoutrements glued onto it. To say the least, it didn’t match the image of a bladed, chrome, roaring Harley Davidson beast with a taste for blood that was initially conjured in my head from the title.

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The Murdercycle
Image result for evil motorcycle
Google Image result for “evil motorcycle”
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Google Image result for “killer motorcycle”

An unexpected amount of time in the move is dedicated to vaguely interesting philosophical issues, like the ethics of Artificial Intelligence and the potential boundary-violating practice of mind reading. Weirdly, though, the ability to read people’s thoughts is taken as a given,and is apparently public knowledge in the world of the movie: one of the central characters is a psychic, and no one is terribly surprised, alarmed, or even incredulous about that claim.

The real problem with the injecting of these philosophical ideas into the story isn’t that they are there (science fiction really should intersect with philosophy), but how they are written in. Every time one of these thought-provoking issues comes up, the movie grinds to a complete halt, and they are addressed with the subtlety of a hammer on a gong. Even worse, they are addressed really poorly, like you are sitting in on the first session of a Philosophy 101 course.

Likewise, the writers clearly wanted to slip in references to comic books in the screenplay, which is something that can be done well and effectively without distracting the audience. However, instead of making the references organic and natural, the characters are written to go out of their way to mention specifics about the Fantastic Four over and over again, beyond the point of saturation.

Honestly, this is one of the most disappointing movies I have seen in a long time. Not only is the title golden, but there were plenty of ways to make the movie better, even with the existing plot. I actually appreciate some of the ideas presented here, which indicate some ambition in the writing, but the execution was disappointingly sloppy. The end result of it all is a movie that is basically Predator, but with freshman philosophy discussions instead of over-the-top machismo, and an amateurishly-decorated dirtbike instead of a terrifying alien.

Bargain Bin(ge): Bucket O’ Blood (Chicago, IL)

Bucket O’ Blood is a bizarre little shop tucked away off the beaten path in a small neighborhood of Chicago. It is primarily a record store, but also has a specific niche as an emporium of science fiction and horror books, magazines, and movies. As a bonus, it also has an enviable and eclectic selection of film scores on vinyl.

bucketoblood13 bucketoblood11 bucketoblood10 bucketoblood8 bucketoblood7 bucketoblood6The store has been around for the better part of a decade according to the clerk I spoke with, though its current location is only a few months old. There isn’t much else around it: a couple of restaurants and a bar, but it is hardly a thriving commercial area.

bucketoblood5The selection of movies here isn’t particularly wide, but it is quality. A few standouts I left on the shelves include a (probably bootleg) copy of Sam Fuller’s Shark, a hilariously deceptive copy of Roger Corman’s self-parody Creature From The Haunted Sea, and a Korean movie about a killer Taxi Cab.

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Likewise, you might not find a bargain here, but the ambiance makes the cost worth it in my mind. Check out some shots of their delightful decorations:

bucketoblood1 bucketoblood2 bucketoblood4 bucketoblood3Now, on to my bucket o’ movies from Bucket O’ Blood:

Robot Wars

Apparently, according to IMDb, this movie is a sequel to Robot Jox, the cult classic by Stuart Gordon. I had always heard that Crash And Burn was the sequel, but apparently that movie just features some re-used footage. Honestly, though, I doubt that either movie bears much in the way of a real connection to Robot Jox. Robot Jox was a huge financial undertaking for Empire Pictures, and wound up contributing to that company’s bankruptcy. However, out of the ashes of Empire, Charles Band created Full Moon Pictures as a successor, which produced both Robot Wars and Crash And Burn in the early 1990s. As is often done with low budget pictures, a bunch of the more expensive special effects shots from Robot Jox were re-used, so that the company could get more bang for their buck. I imagine this is the only reason why multiple giant robot movies were put out by Full Moon Pictures in the years following Robot Jox.

Crash And Burn

In a delightful happenstance, the box set that contained Robot Wars also included Crash And Burn, the other wayward descendant left in the wake of Robot Jox. Thanks to this haul, I might have enough material to do another Killer Robot Week in the near future.

Murdercycle

First off, what an awesome title. I don’t know anything about this movie, apart from a single clip of the transformation sequence that I watched on YouTube. That and the title were enough to sell me on this movie. It remains to be seen if this is a forgotten masterpiece or a disappointing failed concept, as Full Moon has been perfectly capable of creating both.

The Demon

The Demon is early 1980s slasher film that came out during the biggest boom period for the genre. From what I have seen, it is a bit polarizing: some dismiss it as no more than a Halloween clone, while others have positive things to say about the film’s atmosphere. However, most seem to agree that it isn’t a good movie when all is said and done. I haven’t seen it before personally, and the plot struck me as just odd enough to make it worth checking out. A serial killer movie involving a psychic detective made me immediately think of Suspect Zero, though I imagine that is where the similarities will end.

Creature

Creature is yet another film from the dark era of Klaus Kinski’s twilight years, not unlike Star Knight. From what I hear, it is a notably gory Alien knockoff that has developed some clout as a b-movie cult classic. Interestingly, it apparently re-used props and sets from an earlier abysmal Alien knockoff, The Forbidden World.