The movie starts off with the familiar giant white on black credits, and this time has bongo music playing over them.
Good news here though, the bongo player is a narrator and that almost promises us a more coherent story. I feel so cheated though, because the flashbacks done in the first ten minutes probably make more sense on the entire last film, encapsulating Roller Blade Seven perfectly and with no clowns. It explains that Stella Speed, the roller skating chick in red, was under a spell that kept her from drawing her sword… Something that was never quite clear before and that I complained about constantly.
After the death of his wife, Hawk, the hero, seeks out Saint O’ffender, battling through reused footage to reach him as the narrator plays the bongos in the background. Joel Estavez’s Saint offender is weird cross between Martin Sheen and Eric Roberts… Slimy and yet the sort of guy you just can’t take seriously. Still, this is really his film. he has the most lines and the is the real focus, chewing his way through the scenery every chance he gets. While he tempts Hawk, is marauders cause havoc in the Wheelzone.
“Desire is a fools cup of tea”
As you can see, the dialogue hasn’t improved – if anything it’s gotten worse. So has the dubbing. We’re back to that weird method from the first movie where they try and hide peoples mouths because they know they can’t possibly match up the lips to the words. Then again, there’s other times where they don’t even bother – it’s just words coming from a character who’s mouth isn’t even open.
Scott Shaw once related a story that may just shed some light on the sound issues.
“Don made one of the cardinal mistakes of filmmaking while we were at the original editing facility. He arrived one morning. With him was all of our original audiotapes from the production where we had recorded our dialogue. We were recording our sound for the film on the then new DAT tape system. He went to the bathroom en route to the studio. There, he forgot the tapes. They were all in a paper bag. I was already guiding our editor when he arrived at the editing studio. He sat down for a time and then remembered he forgot the tapes. He went back to the bathroom to get them but they were gone. Someone had stolen them. He, of course, massively freaked out. We searched for them, asked people for them, put up notes, but nothing. They were gone. That was all just part and parcel to the RB7 experience. The only thing that saved us was the fact that we had much of the dialogue recorded on our ¾ inch edit tapes.”
I have to wonder if that’s what happened with the scenes in this film, because the studio bound scenes seen recorded well, but anything outside – and there is a lot of footage shot outside is all terribly overdubbed. Shaw also states that there were entire scenes not used because there was no audio for them – I suspect some of those scenes are included in Return.
Because this was filmed at the same time as the Roller Blades Seven, all the actors are back – we get flashes back to Karen Black as Tarot, and even Franks Stallone gets some screen time as the black knight, alongside his grotesquely deformed minion (where is this makeup in the last movie any how? It really needed it!). Hawk fights off the temptation and the temptresses, only to find himself back in battle, face-to-face with the black knight in more reused footage.
Joe Estavez comes back to tempt Hawk again, this time through food. This movie probably should’ve called The Last Temptation of Hawk. Meanwhile, the spirit of Harks dead bride dances with her sword around the narrator as he continues to play bongos. There is a suggestion that she is in a sort of limbo, and that it was her spirit that saved Hawk from his previous temptation. She enters the feast and Hawk barely notices her in his almost dreamlike state.
Hawk, his soul in flux, left O’ffenders lair to meditate – thrusting us into a cacophony of disjointed clips from throughout the film.
About an hour in they remember they need to connect this somehow to the rest of the roller blade seriesis and attempt to do so with the debate between our wondering priest and Saint O’ffender that flashes back to the nuns are the previous film. It’s a nonsensical back and forth, occasionally intercut with unrelated film clips – when in doubt, cut to some nudity!
It’s informative though, because the wandering priest is played by our director Donald G Jackson. If you wanna get a feel for how he speaks and what it was like to be around him – this is actually a pretty good representation, and jibes with interview footage I’ve seen of him.
It almost seems like they originally shot enough footage for a movie and a half, and decided to harvest enough recycalable shots to make both Roller Blade Seven AND the Return of the Roller Blades Seven – possibly picking up a couple of extra shots of Jackson and Estivez to pad the second movie. It’s not enough, and things completely fall apart towards the end as they almost seem to be dropping in clips from both films at random, ending in a climactic sword fight between Hawk and Saint O’ffender where I think (it’s not clear) Hawk gets his wife, Stella Speed back.
It’s a bizarre swan song for the series (or is it?), and it’s easy enough to see why the two RB7 movies would be re-edited and combined several times to try and create something that would make more sense.
May the sun shine bright on your blood stain blade as you skate the pair of righteousness. All is well.
Every Wednesday and Friday
You never know who’s going to show up at those Avengers meetings!
A creepy little girl voice recaps the backstory of this world in an over filtered exterior location. Evil mutants (genetically engineered people) have driven the few remaining humans underground or into the wasteland. They fear the return of war.
They don’t shy away from robots and drones and and CG creations. The FX are average. They’ve actually created some really nice Computer models, but the shots are inexpertly tracked with too much light and very stiff movement.
The rebels stalk the desert in a large mecha-tank, discovering that their mission is not to contain the calibain but rather to hunt a monster.
as they pick up their new fighter, The tank is ambushed by robot golems, interesting design but cheaply executed.
Back at the future church, a family flees space zombies, looking for passage to the underground city. bad guys, who look like leftover extras from Blake’s 7 attack the church with a rocket launcher and drones. the tank changes course to aid them, then comes across the wreck of another tank. Around this time is when things go completely wrong – giant monsters, golems and infected, oh my.
They fight it out and then take off after the monster, while factions fight on board the tank – the genetically modified humans clashing with the natural born. By the time we discover a traitor in our midst, I feel as if I’m in a completely different story. It all ends with the worst game of capture the flag ever.
The plot is complicated and hard to follow. This film definitely feels like it was built around the animatics and FX, with a dash of world building dropped in, and yet while being fairly talky, the movie never really adequately explains what is going on. Also, for a movie called “The Last Starship”, there’s a shocking lack of any starship whatsoever. It’s not terrible. But it definitely leaves me wanting more clarity. Still if you just give u on understanding it and go along for the ride, it’s fun and pretty.
Still, I’d like it better if it actually made some sort of sense. It’s SyFy channel fodder at best.
So I’ve heard that RB7 is possibly the worst film ever made. That didn’t daunt me, I’ve heard that before and I don’t usually believe it. Didn’t the Medved brother declare Plan 9 From Outer Space to be the worst film of all time? It wasn’t even the worst film made that YEAR.
I wasn’t expecting a lot. I was aware the budget had been slashed for this one. They had $30,000 and a 16 millimeter camera. This was going to be rough to make.
It was also around this time that Donald Jackson started getting thick with Scott Shaw – a musician, actor, artist and academic with a focus on eastern philosophy. Together they birthed the concept of “Zen Film making”, where no script is used. You come in with an idea, roll the film and let things happen as they will. That’s fine. It’ll be interesting and I can review anything right?
Turns out I was wrong and also Very wrong. RB7 is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen come out of Hollywood. It makes a Neil Breen film seem coherent. The only possible way to adequately review and describe this is to give you my stream of consciousness that I recorded on Facebook while watching the film.
So much danger, so much danger, SO MUCH DANGER! and then DIRECTED BY in huge white letters.
Sending his minion out to kidnap a psychic… I feel like we’ve tried this ground before.
At least the nuns have traded red and blue for black leather habits (it helps the ninjas blend in)
That’s a billy club, not a gun. STOP HOLDING IT LIKE A GUN!
Monsters in the woods starts off playing to the stereotypes hard. A couple going at it in a tent are murdered bloodily by a masked killer. But almost immediately they turn the tables and go meta, revealing that this is actually a scene in a horror movie being filmed.
I was surprised to see the familiar face of Glenn Plummer. He’s a marvelous actor that I remember fondly frm Strange Days, Showgirls and even a spot on the fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He plays angry well. He’s got a powerful personality and is such a good actor that I wonder why exactly he’s in this movie. But he seriously lends some credibility to what is otherwise a very cheap looking film.
There’s a lot of footage that is all over the place, but it’s trying to be found footage, done as the behind the scenes documentary on this movie set (I use the term “set” lightly since we’re in the woods). The first act drags as they go through the more technical aspects of movie making and set politics.
Right around the thirty minuet mark, the first body shows up, but it’s apropos of nothing as we’ve been given no context. Are the woods haunted? Is there a psycho crew member (It IS a colorful bunch). The whole “Camera shakes and drops” followed by a dead body dropping into frame gag gets old really quick.
Ultimately it’s attempt to switch between meta and Found Footage detracts from what might be a decent film. Put it on in the background and do something else. It’s not bad, but it dosen’t exactly stand out.
Every Wednesday and Friday
Roller Blade Warriors starts out promising enough. We open with two riders on a horse travelling through a wintry desert. This could be the opening to any early 80s sci-fi fantasy, as an overdubbed describes the world and the legend of Roller Blade. Sister Karen Crosse escorts a young Psychic named Gretchen Hope to the safety of the nuns Mission. Crosse is played by Kathleen Kinmont , a veteran of cult sequels like Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Meyers, Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster, and Bride of Re-Animator. She’d go on to be a familiar face on TV. Her young companion is Elizabeth Kaitan, who was a frequent victim in slasher sequels like Silent Night Deadly Night 2 and Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. She’d spend the rest of her career doing low budget boob flicks with directors like David DeCoteau and Joe Esposito.
We start off strong with a sword fight in this snowy desert, a skeleton languishing on a post in the background and blood on the fresh snow. ). It’s overdubbed by a Rory Calhon doing his best David Carradine impression and soon plunges us into the same incomprehensible post-apocalyptic imagery. You have the imagery of the abandoned factories juxtaposed with tuxedos and human sacrifice.
We cut to a beautician named Karp working on his patient. Manicure, make-up and general prettification along with nice shoes and satin underwear, he preps this person in his tent. Slung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, the make-up artist brings this person to the abandoned factory. A man in a hazmat suit and gas mask drags her in. She’s manacled to an old mattress and left as a sacrifice to the creature that lives in the stacks. But the monster is unhappy, because it turns out this is not a real woman – it’s a man made up as a woman and the monster only likes to eat women. The rejected sacrifice is tossed from the top of the battery, its blonde wig scornfully cast down beside it and the monster raging behind a smoke. My first impression of the monster is that it looks like the hand puppet from the first Roller Blade has grown up. The man in the hazmat suit is not pleased.
Terrified, Karp and his partner, Streak (A scruffy long hair in a leather duster), promises to go beyond the rocks, all the way to Hell’s Anvil to go and try and find a real woman – if there are any left in this wasteland. Together they assemble a team to go out looking for women to sacrifice. They grab a tracker, Kosai, who looks uncannily like Rufio (the kid who took over the Lost Boys when Peter Pan left in Hook) and acts like a dog. Off they go searching for “girlflesh”.
There are actually some clever innovations in the Roller Blade universe this time around. The nuns ride a jury-rigged bike with wind sales, and it gives us a greater look at the broken down society (Something that was missing in the previous film). It also follows, for the most art, the traditional three act structure, thanks to the scriptwriting contributions of Randall Frakes. Both the dialogue and sound have improved as well. We’ve moved past the awful dubbing, and while the dialogue remains ridiculous, it’s not quite as over the top. They’ve gotten rid of most of the Kings English, though it still seeps in from time to time. What is still over the top though, is the score. For this entry, they decided on a bouncy, goofy, Benny Hill sort of background music that gives this a really strange feel. They frequently switch over 2 to chord synth cues, but that goofy music comes in so often that it just breaks me out of the film and reminds me how ridiculous (Indeed there are frequent slap fights that remind me of the three stooges) this all is.
After acquiring a bike, the nuns shed the red and blue robes from the last film for more appropriate post-apocalyptic garb.
“I have to get you to the mission!,” Crosse insists to the psychic Hope. “Mother speed is waiting!”
Strange that it may seem, These are comforting words – placing us firmly in the world that Donald Jackson created with the first Roller Blade. Despite the higher production values, if feels good to be back in familiar territory. The nuns fill up their water skin at a shallow brook and pray before heading back to the wind powered motorcycle to retrieve their camping gear.
Elsewhere in the desert, roving gang of barbarian women on roller skates wonder through the windy canyon. These are Roller Blade warriors commanded to meet up with Crosse and Hope, skating the path of righteousness. At least, that’s what the narrator tells us. One volunteers to go alone to retrieve the psychic and her mentor.
Back in the Devil’s Anvil, the group of men searching for a virgin sacrifice come upon a steam punk pimp. Kosai the tracker perks up.
“I smell something!” he exclaims, smelling the air. “It smells like a girl, on wheels!” while half of the group goes off with the pimp to examine his wares, the others go searching for the roller blade warriors. It doesn’t take long before they find the single girl who is off looking for her compatriots. She wields her samurai sword and engages the two men. Unlike the blades in the first rollerblade film, this sword isn’t meant for healing; it’s absolutely a weapon designed to kill. The fight goes all over the rocks, with the hunter giving into his rage and slashing her across the belly. His partner is furious.
“Are you kidding me? The thing in the stacks only wants fresh meat! She’s no good to us now!”
The hunters that followed the pimp are having better luck, he doesn’t deed have three girls for sale – they examined them to make sure the movie has the requisite nudity for an “R” rating. (Nice to know you can still get breast implants after the apocalypse (It’s cruel and gross but just shy of getting to rapey. That happens later).
Back on the trail, the two roller blade warriors find their fallen companion. She’s too far gone to heal, and they set off in search of revenge. Meanwhile, the hunters and the steam punk pimp drag the three girls down the road. The roller blade warriors come across them, and leap into action, slicing and dicing the pimp then freeing the slave girls.
The hunters escape and meet up with you after their team. They’ve got to find a way to avoid the roller blade patrols in this area. Suddenly, Karp remembers that there is a cannibal up in the hills and they head out in that direction to recruit him.
While the hunters look for their cannibal ally, Crosse and Hope get to know each other better. The nun wistfully tells the young psychic about how much she misses her man – the lawman who guards the mission (I can only assume she’s referring to Marshall Goodman from the previous film though she never mentions him by name). They wrap up in a sleeping bag and get ready to snooze.
“Can I ask you a question?” Hope asks. “I never loved a man… What’s it like?”
“Warm, like soup.” Crosse replies.
With that comforting thought, they drift off to sleep… But the psychic awakens in the morning, screaming. Evil is near! It’s down in the valley below the rocks, and it’s coming for them! Crosse grabs her blade and sets off to investigate, only to find the hunters have stolen her bike!
The cannibal looks like an old mountain man survivalist and comes down to greet the hunters, shotgun in hand. Above him, Crosse stalks him, sweeping down and cutting him up with her sword. Unfortunately, while she is distracted by killing the cannibal, one of the hunters lobs a rock at her head, knocking her off the ledge. Up the rocks, the hunters capture Hope.
Below, we discover that Crosse wasn’t killed by the fall, merely knocked out. When she awakens, she starts to have flashes of the psychic as the hunters on horseback transport her back to their stomping grounds.
“I saw a fair angel, riding a prancing horse, coming to Abadoooooooon! And in my dream, she was being followed by a she-demon on wheels…”
Crosse follows the trail of the hunters to the city of Abaddon, complete with the requisite sign “if you lived here you be home now” it’s buried and half hidden in the rubbish, but it’s there nonetheless. If Abaddon looks familiar by the way, it should. This is the same factory complex used in the climax of Robocop, frequently shot from the exact same angles. Terminator 2 had shot here just a year and a half prior. Jackson was familiar with the location already from his time on Hell Comes to Frogtown, and it was an old favorite.
She meets an old man at the door; Rory Calhoun, finally appearing in the flesh. Crosse must defeat this sword wielding guard to be able to get inside. She brings him down with a blade that pops out of the toe of her roller skates (It seems to me like the spurs on the heels would have worked just as well…). Dying, he gives her his sword.
“He still has a lot of killing to do. Besides, you’ll earn it in time.”
The blue wrap on the white grip of the katana as well as its red scabbard makes me think of her nun’s robes from the opening sequence. Infiltrating further inside, she swipes a jug of moonshine from a couple of rednecks in a barn. They pointed her towards “Streak” – the harvester who collects women to feed to the thing in the stack. She heads over to the local saloon. There Crosse discovers Rinaldi – the man in a huge fur coat who runs things in this town (Take note of that name by the way. You’ll be seeing a lot of villains with the same moniker in Jackson’s later films). He shows her around this mining town where they dig for uranium, taking her to the processing plant (the stacks where the monster lives). The psychic connection is still live, and Crosse flashes on and uncomfortable rape sequence and she can tell that Hope is not there. They need to keep searching.
Out of nowhere, Rinaldi the bursts into the hunter’s lair, pulling them off the girl and lays a beat down on them. The problem is, he’s not there to rescue Hope, The hunters are working under his orders.
Back at the bar, Streak starts hitting on Rinaldi’s girlfriend – mentioning that one of these days he’s going to be the head of town, after he takes Rinaldi out. It’s bad timing because Mr. big fur coat walks in with a very long gun pointed straight at it. It’s at this point that Crosse catches back up with him, just in time to see Rinaldi blow the hunter away.
“What’s he a sinner?”
Rinaldi then tries to convince Crosse that the psychic is dead. She’s not buying it, and demands to see the body – maybe she can heal it. He takes her up to a vat of bubbling green toxic waste to convince her. She prays for vengeance as Rinaldi offers to put her up for the night in a room above the saloon.
Mother Speed sends out a search party to find the Roller Blade patrol as well as Crosse and the psychic. They promptly get caught by nomads with drugged water.
Rinaldi dines with his girlfriend who expresses concern about Crosse staying with them. He’s preparing to sacrifice the psychic to the thing in the stacks while Crosse still has nightmares about the psychic’s assault. When she wakes, she realizes the psychic is still alive.
Rinaldi carries the girl into the monster’s lair as his girlfriend gives Crosse the history of the town. These sacrifices have been going on for a long time. They arrive at the entrance to the stacks, the factory that houses the monster as the psychic gets strapped to the bedframe for the monster to find her. Through the smoke, the monster gets closer and closer as Crosse searches for her young ward. She finds Hope and they take off, slipping though the smoke, only to find themselves locked in by Rinaldi. In the distance, the monster growls.
Back in the desert, the search party wake up, finding themselves tied up. Their captors wander back in the tent, but the overpower them and escape – now disguised as the nomads.
We cut to the factory, where the bloated mutant monster has found our roller blade warrior and her psychic. Crosse draws her sword and battles the beast, eventually running him through and escaping the depths of the stacks. There’s daylight in sight but she’s not out yet. A simple stabbing isn’t enough to keep a good monster down though. It awakes in a rage and comes after them. It’ll take some trickery to take out the monster before they can slip out of the factory.
Now on the outside, Crosse and Hope find they still have the hunters to deal with. They are joined by the search party, still disguised as nomads. They rip off their desert robes (Fortunately, it hasn’t messed their hair up at all. The apocalyptic future sure has some good hair spray) and the battle commences. All that metal and concrete makes a spectacular setting, with different levels and constant shape and movement. The last of the hunters, the beautician in his tux, grabs his gun and blows his own head off, rather than face the steel of a Roller Blade Warrior.
The last to face them down is Rinaldi.
“You wouldn’t hurt an unarmed man?” He quips, removing his right arm. It’s a cybernetic prosthetic and it doubles as a gun. Crosse races her way towards him as fast as her skates can spin while Rinaldi unleashes blast after blast from his arm-gun. The ground explodes around her as she races through the smoke, swinging her samurai sword. The gun jams and Rinaldi finds himself defenseless as Crosse turs his own weapon back on him.
“Please! Agent of Mercy! No!”
“God forgives,” she replies, her eyes cold as steel. “I don’t.”
With Rinaldi dispatched, the women find the horses left behind by the hunters and ride off into the post nuclear sunset. Mother Speed is pleased.
“Bless you all. Now go forth, and skate the path of righteousness!”
A third direct sequel to this film was planned, but ultimately scrapped. Still you can’t keep a good man down, and Jackson would be teaming up with Zen filmmaker Scott Shaw to create a whole series of spinoff sequels set in this same universe.
More on that next time
I’m still in winter con hibernation, but on a whim I decided to start getting warmed up for convention season when I noticed Oddmall was happening. Lydia was still hacking from the flu, but I asked Maddie if she’d like to go (and give Lydia a break from Maddie getting on her sick nerves) and what she’d like to wear. We both pulled out some old costumes. Slimer and Jigglypuff hadn’t been out since 2016, and off we went to Oddmall.
In the costume contest, Slimer found himself facing down Jeannie. The Emcee, a goblin named Gandersnatch tried to figure out how we should compete. A voice from the audience yelled “mud wrestling!” which would have made for the best costume contest ever.
Maddie was entranced by all the interesting wares. She dug through pokemon, and browsed pixel art. The polished rocks at the new age and jewelry booths caught her eyes (She’s been collecting interesting stones since she was small) and even pondered over an Eevee drink coaster. The plushie pigs were her favorite, but out of her price range. She was delighted to find Miyazaki dust and soot sprites that she recognized from Spirited away and Totoro and dumped her con allowance into it.
It was a nice afternoon and Maddie said she was having the time of her life hanging out at the bazaar, as we ease our way into the 2019 con season.
Every Wednesday and Friday
You may remember me doing an article last year on a film called “Roller Blade”. It was the surprise feature screened at the Cedar Lee and it seared my eyes out of their sockets with it’s absurdity.
I had to know more. I needed to understand how such a thing could be made in the first place, much less spawn sequels.
Yes, sequels. Roller Blade ended with a title card promising a sequel which I was assured existed. That was it, I had to know more. A quick check of IMDB showed that not only was there a sequel, there were several…but it gets confusing from there on out and it’s hard to tell what is what. We’ll get to that in a moment, but first let’s do a quick recap of the lunacy that is Roller Blade. (for a more in depth review, hit the previous article on the subject here; https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2018/12/04/roller-blade/)
In a post apocalyptic future a group of nuns in red and blue KKK robes do battle in the wastelands wearing roller skates and carrying butterfly knives. Led by Mother Speed and occasionally assisted by Marshall Goodman, they struggle against the gangs of punks on skateboards (because roller skates would be too establishment I suppose) and the minions of El Santo’s evil twin and his demonic hand puppet who live in the acid factory.
There. You’re caught up.
So what happened to RB2 : Holy Roller? I can’t be sure. Donald Jackson, the director and guiding force behind all the Roller Blade films, passed away back in 2003 so he’s unavailable for comment, but some interviews do remain. He was known as the Ed wood of the video age, and watching his films it’s easy to tell why. Roller Blade, made on 16mm film for about $5000 was absolutely a success. Jackson had been working for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures at the time in various capacities. They had acquired his movie “I like to Hurt people”, a wrestling documentary for fifty thousand dollars which financed his way to Hollywood. He parlayed that relationship into other work for New World, operating cameras. While he was making contacts with folks like Fred Olen Ray (Who’s son and girlfriend would both end up in Roller Blade) and James Cameron, “I Like to Hurt People” had made New World half a million dollars. Through these kind of contacts he managed to convince New World to pick the film up for distribution. When they came to him asking if he had anything else in the works, he quickly cut together a three minuet trailer to screen for the execs. They watched it in silence and then stared at Jackson, his heart lodged in his throat. Mentally the execs did their calculations. Finally one announced that they could probably move 10,000 units which would turn a profit. This occurred at a time when the video market was just beginning to take off. Roller Blade was hyped by New World as, “The First Straight to Video Feature Film”. They took out full color ads in Billboard magazine and advertised the movie in Variety – all common for a theatrical film, but at the time completely unheard of promotion for a video release. Roller Blade made them over one million dollars. New World was still a player in 1989 when the next film was made, but they weren’t a part of it. While they did fund Jackson’s next film “Hell Comes to Frogtown”, the experience was marked by constant creative differences between Jackson and the studio.
“After Roller Blade made them a million dollars I didn’t have to even show a trailer for the next film. I only had to say one word; ‘Frogtown’. They said okay and gave me a million and a half dollars.”
The increased budget and addition of star power was given in exchange for a great deal of Jackson’s creative control, and by the end, he never wanted to work with them again. He would later talk about the experience in interviews;
“I am a very hands on Director. The downfall of the relationship all stared at one point, the first day of shooting, when they had an art director creating one of the sets. When he finished, I checked it out and it all look too clean and pretty to be a part of the film. I told him about it, but he didn’t listen. He had all the arrogance of an art director and felt he had to answer to no one. So, when he stormed off of the set, I got a few can of spray paint and went and spray painted graffiti on the wall of the set. When he came back, he freaked out. He complained to the powers at New World and they had a talk with me. They told me, “Everybody has their job on a studio film. Yours is to direct the actors.” So, that was the beginning of the end.”
To complicate matters further, New World was beginning to run into financial difficulties and after striking 2000 prints of “Hell Comes to Frogtown”, the film still ended up going direct to video. When it came time to return to the Roller Blade series, Jackson was on his own. The concept of Holy Roller (More a place holder title than anything) no longer appealed to him. The concept had moved on and would now become Roller Blade Warriors.
The good news is Roller Blade Warriors was actually a better film than Roller Blade. It looks like there was enough money to invest in something better than a consumer grade camera and someone learned how to use a boom mic. There’s not really a lot of information on this film though, and Jackson doesn’t speak a lot about it in interviews – it’s always much more about his later movies, the ones that were more experimental. He explains the move from knives to swords as part of his affection for Kurosawa films.
“This was very intentional. Sergio Leone and Akira Kurosawa are two of my biggest influences. As we filmed the entire movie in a very spacious outdoor environment, I was allowed to pay tribute to these two directors and add my own style to the mix.”
An example of that style involves a story about how half way through Roller Blade Warriors, Jackson ripped up the script and winged it through the rest of production, foreshadowing his future film methods. Nevertheless, it’s possibly the best entry in the series. Roller Blade Warriors was successful enough to get a Roller Blade 3 green lit.
It’s at this point that things begin to get weird. Jackson hooked up with actor/musician/academic Scott Shaw during the preproduction of Roller Blade 3. The production was already in chaos, with one of Jackson’s crew interfering, staging a coup and stealing the investor. Eventually the production fell apart. However Shaw was still on board and Jackson was able to secure $30,000 for the two of them to create a pair of sidequels, set in the same universe but more far removed from Mother Speed and her convent. In interviews he made it clear that was the intent from the beginning.
“What Scott Shaw and I did with Roller Blade Seven (and the Return of the Roller Blade Seven, filmed at the same time). Though the movie was based on the same premise, it was time to take the concept to the next level — which we did.”
That next level would be what Scott Shaw would dub “Zen Film making. A method of making film without scripts. You came up with a concept, ran the camera and filmed what ever happened next. Shaw recalls the moment he coined the term –
“We were in the office, discussing the results of the previous weeks endeavor. Don was fuming as he often did. Blaming others, as he almost always did. We decide that we needed to let go of all the structure and throw all of the plans that we had for the film out the window and just go out there and film. It was then and there that I came up with the title, Zen Filmmaking. “Let’s just be Zen. This is Zen. This is Zen Filmmaking.”
Sometimes there would be some guidance needed. words and phrases would be drawn from one of Shaw’s books Essence and Time, to keep the vision consistent.
“Whenever someone wanted some dialogue to memorize we would give them the two books by Scott… These books were made up of Spiritual Aphorism. So, this really kept the film focused on the spiritual essence of life — which is really what I wanted.”
In addition to the new film making style, there would also be technical advances –
“We also invented a new type of cinematography, in association with this film, known as, “The Roller-cam.” This is where we had a masterful skater film many scenes while skating around the actors using my Bolex. This gives the film a very spiritual sense of nonstop movement.”
“The way these character developed is the essence of Zen Filmmaking. We never had any plans for any of these character. In fact, just the opposite. We gave the people a little guidance and they did the rest.”
For instance, “The costume for the character Fukasai Ninja was just something our art director, Mark Richardson had lying around. He tuned it up a little bit to better fit the movie — so an actor could roller skate in it. And, bam, the character became a big part of the film.”
Shaw for his part has contended that he was ill used in the making of these films, never taking a salary because of the low budget, but increasingly asked to do more and more including casting, production and music.
“Don suggested I go and set up the fights. I figured I had some time so I was first working with the girl and her opponent. Maybe ten minutes into the session Don walks up, “Okay, let’s shoot.” But…Here’s the thing, Don didn’t even care that the people weren’t ready. All he cared about was getting something/anything on film. So, all of those one-on-one fights you see in the film were choreographed on the spot. I told them do this or do that, and that was that.”
Shaw claims this caused a break with Jackson (which is odd considering IMDB still shows them making movies together untill Johnson’s death) and he claims, Don said on the way to his deathbed, “I really want to apologize for what happen to you on Roller Blade Seven.”. When he passed, Jackson turned over all his film rights to Shaw.
The next part is where things get tricky, because the bad feelings and politics didn’t end with that. There was interest in another entry, but both films were so highly stylized and non-linear that there was difficulty finding funding or distribution. This is when the the executive producer, Tanya York decided to take things into her own hands, editing both movies into one feature and re-releasing it under the name “Legend of the Roller Blade Seven”. It makes a certain amount of sense. Both RB7 and the Return are short films, clocking in under 90 minuets and incorporating a lot of re-used footage. However, the re-edit was in violation of York’s contract and alienated both Jackson and Shaw. Shaw took the film back and re-edited it himself, releasing it again under the title “Hawk, Warrior of the Wheelzone”. To make things more confusing, Shaw offers Lite versions of the films, unseen scene versions and his own Zen documentary on Roller Blade 3, the movie that never was. (Shaw by the way, seems somewhat disconnected from the reality of what things actually cost, offering each of these films for $25 on DVD – plus shipping. You can also get his autograph for a mere $125 on Band Camp)
For our purposes, We’ll be watching and reviewing only the “official” films and not Tanya York ‘s remix. This isn’t Blade Runner, and apocryphal mix tapes just muddy the waters further.
Quotes taken from the documentary “Donald G. Jackson : Confessions”, “The Roller Blade Seven: The Story of the Production” by Scott Shaw, originally published on Blogspot.com and “Donald G. Jackson; The Final Interview” Originally published in Trash Times, Issue #13
Every Wednesday and Friday
Bonus shot- Sinestro also beating the tar out of Daredevil…poor Nick takes a lot of abuse at my hands…..
Extra bonus of the “Deadpool ruins everything catagory…..
Is it just me or is Discovery in full damage control mode now?
I suppose I shouldn’t be criticizing this. I’m actually watching Discovery fix a lot of my problems with the show, but these are a lot of things that shouldn’t have been issues in the first place.
I’m genuinely surprised at how much I like Captain Pike in this series. I never particularly cared for him in TOS and I haven’t exactly been dying for a Pike series, nevertheless Anson Mount seems to pull the role off well. It’s big shoes he has to fill. I really dug Jason Isaacs. Mount’s compassionate yet firm performance is an interesting contrast to Isaacs’ duplicitous, edgy Captian Lorca. I still miss him, but Pike is a good replacement. His command to replace all the holographic communicators on the ship with analog on-screen ones (because they are supposedly more secure) is however, a sloppy fix to my (and other’s) complaints about the use of technology that shouldn’t exist at this point in the timeline yet. We’re seeing a lot of this kind of quick patch-and-fix method.
Pike’s not the only classic Trek character being brought in though. In addition to Spock (Who, four episodes in, we still haven’t seen – and that’s probably a good thing. It builds suspense), episode four also brings in Majel Barett’s first officer character from “The Cage”, this time pleasantly played by an unrecognizable Rebecca Romijn (actually, I like her version better than Majel’s. She’s more likable – and cool that she vanishes into the role. I can’t believe I didn’t know that was her!) for a quick pop-in cameo at the beginning of the episode. It’s another example of nostalgia overkill. I swear, the Star Trek Writer’s have been trying to make something of this character for at least the last thirty years. There’s something of an obsession here. I’m not convinced that fandom is really dying for a “Number One” story, but Discovery is still trying to pull in that pre-trek crew and any familiar face they can (Please don’t bring back Harry Mudd btw. Rainn Wilson was wholly unlikable – which completely misses the point of Harry)
Speaking of familiar faces, the Klingons look a hundred percent better in this series. They are transitioning them over to what is more recognizable by growing their hair out and dressing them in more leather, less bone and resin. I see a lot of forehead ridges being sculpted differently to. They’ve explained it as a story point, that the empire shifted once L’Rell took it over at the end of the last season. The Klingons are growing their hair out now. It’s a nice try. A little late – those drastic changes to the Klingons were a major sore point to a lot of Trekkers. Had they gone with this mix, a sort of evolved Klingon makeup, I think people would have accepted it a lot more readily – even been excited about it. You’ll never convince me that this evolution however, was the intent from the beginning though.
It’s actually the NEW faces that seems to really work for me. I’ve never been a real fan of Tig Notaro’s comedy, but man does she fit right in here as a recently rescued engineer from the shipwreck on a wayward astroid. I’d actually really like to see her replace Anthony Rapp as chief engineer. It’s not that Rapp has done anything wrong, it’s just that Notaro is that much better. I love watching her and Rapp verbally spar and would really dig seeing that kind of chemistry with a Captian. She absolutely feels like the McCoy of the group, and that’s something we’ve needed in this series. It brings into sharp focus just how sterile the interpersonal relationships have been on Discovery.
One of the things that impressed me about watching Tig and Rapp fight was the subject matter, a discussion of old reliable methods – Dilithium Crystals and Duck Tape, versus new tech – that is, the Spore Drive. This is the kind of social commentary that Star Trek has usually done well. It’s metaphor for Liberal vs. Conservative thinking and it hits both sides of an issue. It’s not the in-your-face SJW rhetoric that has taken over Doctor Who. I know Discovery has occasionally come under criticize for that same “Woke” attitude, but I don’t see it here nearly as much as I do in say, the abysmal last few seasons of Supergirl. I think we’re more sensitive to it in this day and age where it oversaturates too much of genre TV. Discovery actually could be commended for dialing it back to traditional levels.
So the real question for me is whether this season is better than last. It feels very similar, but with a lot of Tig’s duck tape trying to patch over the leaks in the series. It’s not like the real jump in quality we saw between the first season of TNG and the third. Then again, I don’t think Discovery is really as weak a show as TNG was during those first two seasons. However it also doesn’t have the goodwill That TNG derived frm being a return to weekly television after eighteen years (the animated series notwithstanding) off the air. TNG also didn’t have the responsibility of being the flagship for both a new network AND platform hanging around it’s neck like an albatross. Discovery’s mandate to launch CBS All Access has created an uncomfortable relationship between series and studio. The subscriber base for All Access has plateaued, and that puts Discovery in jeopardy. Had it been on a traditional network – even a premium cable one, that might not have been the case. Shows like Doctor Who and Game of Thrones thrive on their networks, largely because the infrastructure has been build and the general public have already accepted the platform. Discovery lacks that, and to put the burden on it’s shoulders is somewhat unfair. Star Trek is durable, but history shows us this is a losing bet. Star Trek II (the aborted TV series) failed to launch a paramount network. Voyager was moderately more sucessful, but wasn’t enough to create a sustainable network and UPN is now no more than a memory. I fear we’re watching that same scenario lay out now. CBS’s attitude is somewhere around “Wait and see” though insiders are saying CBS is abandoning Discovery and focusing on their Picard series (Not sure what that means for the black ops spin off that was suosed to feature Michelle Yeoh’s Georgiou). I think that’s a shame, because there’s plenty good here. I’d like to see more…but I’m not convinced we’re going to.
Seriously, we had a blast last time! This is a great B-Movie event, with cartoons, shorts, trailers and a couple of oddball films I know I’VE never seen before!
February 9th, 2019.
Doors open at 6:00pm and the show will begin at 7:00pm.
Berea Elks Lodge #1815
626 North Rocky River Dr.
Berea, OH. 44017
Off I-71 and I-480 just a mile or so past Cleveland Hopkins Airport and one mile South of the IX Center.
FREE PARKING – Behind the building there is a fenced off parking lot. Park behind the fence in the lot.
Admission is $5.00 (Cash Only)
Bottled water, pop, popcorn and assorted munchies will be available during show time for $1 each. *No outside food/beverages (Cash Only)
Every Wednesday and Friday
We start out in a police interrogation room with a woman being questioned about her drowning her son. A glass of water tips in front of her and she goes NUTS, screaming “He’s not dead!”
We dive into credits overlayed on news articles about haunting in Clinton road and the nearby lake and the scene is set. Once we ull out of the credits (complete with the eye rolling addition of “Based on true events”) we dive into the story proper, discovering that the whole interrogation was part of a TV show. We’re then introduced to a bunch of 20-something CW types on a road trip, goofing off in a mini van, in the woods, in the cabin all with the same annoying synthpop running over it. (Could be worse. It could be metal).
Thre’s a half hour of this before we even get a glimpse of creepy. But once you see it, you know exactly who’s going to be heading off on tonight’s killing spree. They get some credit for trying to haunt us a bit before peole start going missing. However, the Grudge, this ain’t and the flat lighting seriously undercuts the fright factor. Even the strobe lit finale is overexposed. The ghosts, or whatever they are, just aren’t that scary, though a number of the haunting effects are quite clever and the use of sped up frames is quite effective.
I really like what they are trying to do here, but the film lacks the necessary tension to make a capable use of it’s fun effects and decent story. Maybe crank up the contrast on your TV before watching. It’s worth a view, and is the kind of movie that would kill on the festival circuit.
Every Wednesday and Friday
A lot of Dave Parker’s early work is in documentaries or clip shows. Masters of Horror is one of those standards, a special with documentary like interviews strung together with movie clips and occasional host narration by Bruce Campbell. It’s pretty standard Halloween fare for the SyFy channel so why are we looking at it?
Masters of Horror solidify’s Parker’s love of film and of genre. It’s present in a lot of his work, s it makes absolute sense to do these kind of features on the very subject his passions are rooted in. You can see this in the way he approaches the interviews, first pulling out the standard stories everyone’s heard at every horror convention. But then delving just a touch deeper, grabbing something fresher, not as well known.
Wes Craven is a great example, first giving the traditional story about how Freddy Kruger was based on a childhood memory of a tramp on the street staring hu at him through the window. But then they move on to a story from Serpent and the Rainbow (Possibly Craven’s finest work actually, and a highly underrated film) where one of the cameramen mentioned to a voodoo priest that he’d like to be indoctrinated into Voodoo.
“Oh you will be,” the priest replied.
Within days the cameraman was a changed person and Craven reflected that on the day before shooting, the guy knocked on his door to quit and head back to the states. As Craven tells the story, Parker juxtaposes his narrative with unrelated scenes from Serpent and the Rainbow, matching it up perfectly, to the point that when Craven talks about him pounding on the door, we have a shot of Bill Pullman doing just that….before the camera rotates and reveals he’s in a coffin.
This video of full of flair like that, and a great illustration of Parker’s film chops, both as an editor and as someone convincing the presentation. It’s a good indicator of where he will go on later in his feature work.
The weird thing about Batman is this outfit has never been to a convention, never been in a costume contest, never even done Halloween. Still, it’s kind of like the little black dress in every smart woman’s closet.
I’ve saved this mostly for charity events and stuff like that – I even zombified it at one point!