|DRACULA, SOVEREIGN OF THE DAMNED
When we first meet Dracula, he’s fluttering about the rafters of a Satanic cult (one that is so half-assed that they have contractors in the temple building their altar mere minutes before the ritual is scheduled to begin). Dracula has been masquerading as Satan for the gullible cultists in order to get himself a steady stream of victims, but the latest beautiful young woman, Delores, placed on the altar for sacrifice really catches the vampire lord’s eye, so he whisks her away to his artfully decorated…well, it looks like a suburban Boston apartment. Dracula obviously reads Dwell magazine.
|LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF
As I mentioned at the beginning, the idea behind Tyburn seems to have been to make something akin to classic Hammer. Unfortunately Legend of the Werewolf feels more like a latter day Hammer film, looking massively twee and out of date. Bear in mind it came out in the same year as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue, Frightmare, Black Christmas and The Wicker Man to name but a few. Even more unfortunate is how Legend of the Werewolf combines the elements of a mid-60s Hammer gothic (mild gore, no nudity) with the substandard production value and leaden pacing of one of their 70s duds.
|THE TAKING OF BEVERLY HILLS
Despite the production date, however, no other action film contains such a perfect and complete distillation of the 80s attitude as The Taking of Beverly Hills, a movie about a bunch of spoiled millionaires who are taken advantage of by a slightly meaner millionaire until another millionaire steps up to the plate to blow stuff up. It’s the cinematic embodiment of the Me Generation, even more so than Wall Street (which purports to moralize about geed and selfishness) and with way more exploding Rolls Royces. Hell, The Taking of Beverly Hills is like someone got drunk and was like, “What if Wall Street was Die Hard?!?”
|AMERICAN NINJA 3
You know you’re in trouble on a low-budget second sequel when the star of the first two doesn’t bother to return. When you discover that the first American Ninja, Michael Dudikoff, passed in order to appear in Cannon’s production Alistair MacLean’s River of Death, everything points to a bumpy ride. One possible route a producer can take in this case is to promote a secondary character to leading status. The American Ninja series seemed tailor-made for this, what with the hero having uber-tough guy Steve James as his scary ass-kickin’ sidekick. But the filmmakers decided not to take that obvious path, and recruited a new white guy who just happened to have been trained in the Sacred Ninja Arts.
The Twilight People is much better than it needs to be, and manages to be so without giving the appearance of trying to compete outside of its class. Not only does Romero know how to tell a story, but he also knows how to make an attractive looking picture on limited means. His camera angles are frequently imaginative, and studiously avoid the kind of nailed down camera work so frequently seen in similar quickie productions. He also combines an eye for striking found locations with an ability to liven up minimal sets with offbeat lighting effects, giving the end product a gloss that’s beyond what most people would expect from what is, in essence, just a cheesy drive-in monster movie.