• Film reviews

    #576 – Eagle Island (1986)

    Eagle Island (1986)

    Film review #576

    Director: Mats Helge

    SYNOPSIS: A military installation in Sweden comes under attack by Russian special forces ninjas. The soldiers on the island attempt to fend them off from obtaining a secret code.

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Eagle Island is a 1986 action film. Set on Eagle Island (unsurprisingly) somewhere near Sweden, a military installation comes under attack from a group of Russian special forces who might also be ninjas, looking for a secret code, and the inhabitants must fend off the attackers. There’s not much else to say about the story: it is both completely devoid of any substance, and overly convoluted with additional characters that serve no purpose. The main thread of the story (apart from the Russian ninjas) is a guard on the island who has to escort a woman trespassing on the island to take photos of the eagles that give the island its name back to the mainland. The two inexplicably fall in love and get together, and when they learn about the Russian ninjas, they decide to go back to the island to stop them or something. It sounds like a premise which might be interesting, but there is so little that actually happens in the film you’ll be horrendously bored and disappointed that the film doesn’t match the premise.

    Probably the most disappointing aspect is that the “ninjas” aren’t really ninjas at all, and just use weapons. Obviously the film wanted to capitalise on the ninja trend, but without wanting to do the choreography and stunts for it. The action is just the occasional gunfight, and as mentioned the story is all over the place and fails to establish any of the characters in any real depth. The most notable aspect of the film and it’s only real saving point is the soundtrack: it is the most eighties soundtrack you can ever imagine, and the synths and beat goes hard. It’s actually not a bad soundtrack either, but it is wholly misplaced in this film, and just adds to the sense of confusion experienced while watching. Overall, Eagle Island is a mess that is devoid of any real story, its characters have no personality or development, and the soundtrack is just so out of place it’s difficult to comprehend it. You don’t need to let you curiosity get the better of you with this one: there’s really nothing of value here.

  • Film reviews

    #551 – Three Supermen in Santo Domingo (1986)

    Three Supermen in Santo Domingo (1986)

    Film review #551

    Director: Italo Martinenghi

    SYNOPSIS: FBI agent Brad Scott is once again required to team up with the international thieves known as “The Supermen,” this time they travel to Santo Domingo in South America to disrupt a money counterfeiting operation by some local crime gangs.

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Three Supermen in Santo Domingo is a 1986 film and the final instalment in the Three Supermen series of films. The plot is fairly typical and familiar to those who have watched any of the other films: an FBI agent has to team up with the international thieves known as “The Supermen,” this time travelling to Santo Domingo to stop a counterfeiting operation run by a local gang. There’s no time travelling or outlandish elements in this film; it’s just a simple crimefighting, slapstick bit of fun, although obviously the supermen still have their bulletproof suits, that villains never quite work out that they could just shoot them in their uncovered heads. There’s a variety of action scenes (which consist of a fair amount of speeding up and reversing footage instead of actual stunts), and setups involving disguises, and elaborate plans, but nothing too exciting.

    As always, the film revolves around the three supermen, and once again, they are played by different actors; all with the exception of one, Sal Borgese, who has been playing the mute superman since the second film (in the ones which you could consider “canon” anyway). The names of the characters also change quite a lot, and this time it seems like they’ve just resorted to calling Sal’s character Sal. The other two actors change every film, and this time the change is quite apparent, as they are obviously a lot younger than Sal. One of them is Stefano Martinenghi, who is the son of the director, and clearly only got the role because of this: he doesn’t really fit the role of the charming, cheeky lead. The actor playing the role of FBI agent Brad Scott also doesn’t really work because he seems way too young, and typically the role goes to someone who is older and more straight-laced, to balance with the supermen’s goofiness. There are glimmers of that personality, but not much. The rest of the cast aren’t really worth mentioning, as the villains don’t really stand out, and the supporting cast barely exist on screen.

    It’s perhaps worth mentioning at this point that this film series has been going on for nearly twenty years at the time this film was made; and there is no reason for it to have done so. The original was a cheap b-movie that spoofed sci-fi and spy films that were popular in 1967, but had a somewhat interesting twist by having professional acrobats play the lead roles, which led to some fun action scenes and well-choregraphed fights. The first film, while nothing more than a typical b-movie, did everything it really needed to, but for some reason it became a series that went on to satirise other types of films, such as Westerns, cold war plots, martial arts films, and even got a Turkish rip-off version…which further still, somewhat fused with the Turkish rip-off scene when production of the films moved to Turkey. The whole production of this series is all over the place, but I suppose credit should be given to the films somewhat adapting to changing to cultural trends. Three Supermen in Santo Domingo doesn’t really offer anything special in this regard though, and while it keeps things simple, it definitely feels like a format that is well past its sell-by date in 1986, and since this is the final film in the series, the makers probably knew this too. Definitely deserves credit for going for twenty years, but its last hurrah is uneventful.

  • Film reviews

    #519 – Rawhead Rex (1986)

    Rawhead Rex (1986)

    Film review #519

    Director: George Pavlou

    SYNOPSIS: Howard Hallenbeck has taken his family on a trip to rural Ireland to do some research for a new book about the pagan deities of the area. Unfortunately, while he is there, the very kind of monster he is researching is released from it’s prison, and goes on a murderous killing spree. It becomes a race against time to stop the monster before everyone in the small town is slaughtered…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Rawhead Rex is a 1986 horror film, based on the short story of the same name by Clive Barker. The story centres around Howard Hallenbeck, who is visiting a rural town in Ireland with his wife and two children to research ancient folklore there for a new book he is writing. If this sounds like the opening plot to countless horror films, then you are spot on. you can also extend this to the rest of the film, as the whole experience feels very familiar and formulaic. Basically, an ancient demon is released from it’s prison and starts killing people in the village, leaving the authorities and the main cast to figure out what is going on. The plot unfolds very predictably: the monster kills, the cast try and figure out what goes on, and there’s very few surprises. Most of the kills are characters that haven’t been established or introduced properly, so there’s little investment in what happens to them. The lore behind the monster is never gone into in any real detail, and the occasional bit of gore and one brief bit of nudity just don’t leave any impact, nor do they escalate or build towards anything. The film feels like it has the fundamental building blocks, but never builds upo0n them, nor draws them together.

    The monster, Rawhead, is based on a fictitious monster of the same name, but apart from said name, there doesn’t seem to be any real connection between the two. As mentioned, there could have been a lot more done with building the lore and have it impact the plot, but it essentially boils down to a mixture of paganism vs Christianity that offers little insight into either. Rawhead’s design is probably the thing that will ultimately make a viewer not take this film seriously: it is a pretty silly rubber mask which no real prosthetics or moving parts, and it never seems convincing. It also never seems too threatening either, since no one ever really has a chance to fight it, and just surprises people who can’t fight back, so we can’t really gauge it’s strength and ferocity. This is also true in the ending, in which the monster is simply resealed by a stone…thing, and the big twist is that a woman needed to use it (?), resulting in a climax which is just a bunch of CG chain things flying about and slowly imprisoning the monster. Again, there’s no real face off with the monster, so we don’t get a sense of it’s power and why we should fear it.

    Other than the bare plot and monster design, the acting is for the most part fine, but there are a number of slip-ups, particularly with the accents, which you will undoubtedly notice at least once or twice. Apart from that, everything else is fine, just bland and unoriginal. Clive Barker, the writer of the original short story and the screenplay version, did not like the outcome of the film (unsurprisingly), and so took more control over the next film he wrote: which was the very successful Hellraiser. If you’re interested in Barker’s filmography, maybe you could give this a watch, but it has no other distinguishing features to mention.