So I got to Holehead a little late last night (Thursday) so I missed a bit of the beginning of the first film (and apparently a surprise short that preceded it.) In any case, the first film was THE 25TH REICH and the bit I missed was apparently the introduction of the classically stereotypical squad of American soldiers. But it was pretty easy to pick them up--the tough-as-nails colonel, the movie star who joined up, the little nerdy Jewish kid, the Midwest farm boy, and the sarcastic Italian American straight-shooter from the Bronx. Yup, it's a WWII classic American squad. So what the heck are they doing in Australia? And why are they dragging a giant piece of electronics equipment with them? Well, [SPOILER ALERT] they're there to travel through time, find a crashed spaceship, and use it to defeat the Nazis. But one of them is a Nazi spy. And another is a sniveling racist coward who is quick to switch sides anyway. And, since I'm in spoiler land anyway, this all leads to 2243 and giant Nazi robot spiders sodomizing a guy. [END SPOILER] Well, that was pretty fun, but I wished for a bit more of an ending than a spoof setup to a much bigger sequel (promising a War on God.) I felt like it ended just as it was getting really big. So here's hoping the sequel actually happens (even if it was just a joke in this movie.)
Speaking of sequels that shouldn't have happened, next up was ROAD TO HELL, the sort-of sequel to STREETS OF FIRE (1984.) As my friend Ira said, it does for STREETS OF FIRE what S. DARKO does for DONNIE DARKO--and that's not good. (And I was kind of a giant douche for tweeting that last night without attribution.)
You know what, this whole review is going to get pretty spoiler-y, I just can't do it any other way. Sorry about that. Highlight to read:
So they bring back Cody (Michael Pare) from STREETS OF FIRE but instead of just an unreliable but ultimately heroic loner, he's now a psycho killer. Ellen has been killed but her daughter--also named Ellen--has grown up to be a huge pop star (although still singing '80s style music, including some of her mother's old hits.) Cody is waiting for her on the road as she returns to do a concert in Edge City. But on the way he meets a pair of lesbian spree killers who've...wait, what!? Well, a big chunk of the movie is Cody talking to, then beating up, then killing the lesbian spree killers while waiting for Ellen to arrive. I have no problem with Michael Pare as an anti-hero killing a couple of psycho bitches and rescuing a 2-year old baby girl (oh yeah, they have a baby in a storage box.) It just seems so out of nowhere and gratuitous (especially when one chicks severed head is used as a hood ornament.) And then you intercut that with Ellen on the radio either playing her songs or giving an interview--specifically, an interview about how she never knew her biological father (who, of course, is Cody.) And then, after all that, you get a five minute back-stage reconciliation followed by a 20 minute concert film. There isn't just a one song coda but three songs. One for her father, one for her mother, and one for the guy who left her but now is back.
Now, I actually have no problem with the idea of Cody becoming such a psychotic wreck. He was on the edge before, and the idea is the military brought him back into service and he has been fighting their wars for the past 28 years. What I do have a problem with is the terse manner they dispense with the rest of the tie-in to the STREETS OF FIRE plot. Apparently Ellen (the mother) was murdered and Billy Fish (the Rick Moranis character from STREETS OF FIRE) was responsible (if he didn't actually do it he arranged to have it done.) Never mind that he was supposed to be the good, reliable guy Ellen could stay with. But what really bugs me is that's resolved with just a few words of text saying after the concert Cody went "fishing" and took care of him. As for Raven (Willem Dafoe's character), in that same text in one line it's revealed that he was killed by his own daughter. What the fuck? If you're going to put that little effort into dispatching those characters why bring them up at all? You know, this had the makings of what could've been a pretty fun flick if it didn't try so hard--and fail so spectacularly--at tying it back to STREETS OF FIRE. It could've just been a story of a soldier who's gone a bit psycho but is searching for his estranged daughter to make things right. But sadly, this happened instead.
Total Running Time: 166 minutes (giving myself full time for 25TH REICH. I figure giving myself 10 minutes I missed there is more than compensated for by giving myself nothing for ROSALIND LEIGH when I missed 45 minutes)
My Total Minutes: 307,131