Posts Tagged ‘tim kincaid’

It’s been a little while since we surveyed the at-one-time-booming postapocalyptic subgenre of B-movie sci-fi here, but since I watched 1986’s straight-to-VHS Robot Holocaust on Impact Action On- Demand the other night (once in awhile they do us all a favor by showing something that’s never been made available on DVD , such as this one), now seems as good a time as any to trek once more into the nuclear-irradiated wastelands of the future that, hey, still could happen.

I’d been wanting to see this flick for quite some time ( I understand an MST3K treatment was also done and is available in ten-minute chunks on YouTube), since director Tim Kincaid is a name we know and trust around these parts from works such as Riot On 42nd Street and the world’s first (although that distinction might be debatable) direct-to-video release, Breeders. And I admit I have a soft spot for all these low-grade Road Warrior rip-offs, particularly the ones made by the Italians, like The New Barbarians  and Exterminators Of The Year 3000.

Unfortunately, even in a cinematic realm where one expects very little, to be generous, and the rules of what constitutes a “good” movie or not are pretty much turned upside-down to the point where the cheesier a flick is the better, Robot Holocaust really doesn’t deliver the goods. First off, in case you hadn’t guessed a piece of voice-over narration at the beginning informs us that the titular holocaust of which the movie speaks won’t be on offer here, since it’s already happened. The robots have turned on their human masters and now we’re all enslaved to something-or-other called The Dark One, a mysterious quasi-mystical overlord who enslaves all us flesh creatures in his factories and mines with the help of his mechanical minions. Never fear, though, because a rough-and-ready warrior of the wastelands named Neo (we’re talking a couple decades before The Matrix, here, folks — oh, and he’s played by some guy named Norris Culf, if that matters, which I assure you it doesn’t) has emerged from the fractious clans of humanity’s survivors and is leading a ragtag rebel band through the desolate ruins of the future in a brave quest to bring The Dark One down.

Will he succeed? Of course. Will it be interesting? Not really. For one thing, the “obstacles” facing Neo and his band are pretty weak. Not only are robots few and far between, but the only mosters we see are the so-called “sewage worms,” the humans inside one of The Dark One’s mines are already ginning up a revolt of their own, and The Dark One’s leading henchwoman is pretty damn incompetent, unreliable, and doesn’t really like working for the guy.

So the deck is all rather stacked in Neo’s favor from the outset, which leads to a story with essentially no suspense whatsoever, and really that’s  fine in and of itself, but when a movie can’t even pretend to be trying to approximate something resembling dramatic tension, we’ve got ourselves a problem. I appreciate the lower-than-low grade production values on display here as much as the next guy — cheap modelwork, guys in costumes as “robots,” unconvincing matte-painting backdrops, the disused Brooklyn naval yard standing in for The Dark One’s control center/mine/everything, but when every single plot development from start to finish just makes the hero’s job easier, even the most committed viewer can find him or herself losing interest at some point.

All in all, then, I have to say this flick is a real bummer because it has all the elements for a successful post-nuke laugher, but frankly its too damn dull to even have much fun with.  I can’t help but feel its heart is in the right place, but it’s just such a yawner that you can’t bring yourself to give a shit about what’s happening even though you feel like you should.It almost feels like you’re being forced to root against the home team.

And that’s the real tragedy here — no matter how hard you might try, Robot Holocaust just can’t seem to make you care about it, even though it seems like Kincaid and his cohorts were doing their best given what they had. I’d love to congratulate them for trying their best in the face of daunting circumstances to make something vaguely entertaining — goodness knows that’s usually more than enough for me, as seasoned readers of this blog well know — but the end result here is just really, truly, well — blah.

It’s a shame to see such a copious serving of low-grade cheese go to waste.

"Breeders" Movie Poster

Reviewing Vice Squad yesterday, I got to thinking about the straight-to-VHS  boom of the mid-80s to late-90s, and the straight-to-DVD industry that of course still persists today, given that the main baddie of that film was portrayed by the one and only Wings Hauser, who absolutely made his living from that point on in direct-to-VHS B-movies, and your inquiring host simply had to find out — what was the first film to be released exclusively on VHS?

It wasn’t an easy thing to find out (and I should make it clear that I’m talking exclusively about movies shot on film here, so the early-years shot-on-video horror “classics” don’t count in this case), and in fact when it comes to haggling over actual release dates and what have you, the jury’s still out on what came first. One thing’s for sure, though — the first movie made specifically for the direct-to-video market, as opposed to films that were made with the intention of being released theatrically only to have those hopes dashed when the DTV boom started was writer-director Tim Kincaid (Bad Girls Dormitory, Riot on 42nd Street)‘s 1986 low-rent sorta-Alien-knockoff sci-fi shlockfest Breeders. In fact, one of the advertising taglines that appeared on the original Breeders VHS box, and in related in-store promos, was “A World Premiere Right In Your Living Room!” Hope you remembered to roll out the red carpet and rent a spotlight.

All in all, Breeders isn’t too bad for what it is — it’s got that cheesy-fun sorta feel to it that so many of the movies we cover here do. And maybe it’s just the New York locations combined with the goofy-ass subject matter, but the whole thing kind of feels like a seriously under-budgeted Larry Cohen production (not that Cohen’s films ever had much of a budget themselves, but they were positively lavish spending sprees compared to this thing). There’s lots of wooden-as-a 2×4 acting, a plethora of less-than-attractive women getting totally naked, some pretty effective, all things considered, creature effects, tons of perfectly serviceable gore, and the story itself is simple yet solid. Nothing much to bitch about, then, right? Aside from the fact that it would be better if the chicks taking off their clothes were actually, you know, hot. But seasoned exploitation veterans know that can be a asking for a bit much sometimes.

We start with a couple of scenes of damsels in distress who are attacked by what appear to be perfectly normal human beings, until slimy tendrils wrap around them, and the screaming starts. Pretty standard Mars Needs Women-type stuff. Later on they start turning up at the hospital in pretty bad shape and suffering from selective amnesia when it comes to — ummm — the “events” in question themselves.

Not to worry, though, Dr. Gamble Price (Teresa Farley, the best-looking woman in the picture by far — but don’t get your hopes up, she remains fully clothed throughout — and check out her ’80s bigger-than-big hair) and police detective Dale Andriotti (Lance Lewman) are on the case. Their ace medical examinations soon discover a few interesting pieces of information —

1) The women who have been raped were all virgins prior to — you know;

2) They’ve all  had a strange black substance — ummm — deposited inside them;

and 3) They’ve all been covered in a fine reddish-brown dust that turns out to be — get this — brick dust, and not just any old brick dust at that — we’re talking about some very specific brick dust, the kind found in the bricks that were used in the construction of the city’s sewer systems over a century earlier, only they ran out of the those bricks and switched to another kind.

Now, when the movie you’re making is only an hour and 17 minutes long and at least half that run time is dedicated to various scenes of helpless young virgins being stalked and attacked in the middle of the night, your investigators are going to come to some very quick conclusions, and in this case that means that their first working hypothesis turns out to be correct — namely that alien creatures are living in the sewers and coming up to the surface to take over “host” human bodies and then attack and impregnate human females in order to propagate their species. Little questions like, you know, why they don;t just fuck the opposite-sexed members of their own kind are best not dwelled on for too long.

The trouble really starts, though, when the women who are hospitalized after being alien-raped start to wake up, and head for the old sewer tunnels themselves! Gotta keep things moving, right, and the best way to do that is to have our doctor-and-detective crack investigation team simply follow them and take on the aliens face -to-gross-face.

I've seen the future, and it's ugly

Since you can pretty well guess how things are going to play out here, or at least you  damn well should be able to, I’ll get back to the overall “vibe” of the film itself here for a minute : all dialogue in Breeders is essentially delivered in a flat, unemotive monotone,  it’s nearly all disarmingly matter-of-fact, and the acting ability of each and every cast member is — ummm — limited, to put it kindly. We’re pretty much firmly in “so-bad-it’s-good” territory here. The only thing Kincaid and his cohorts seem to have actively given a shit about is coming up with decently-executed creatures, and decently executed gore, given the ultra-tight budget they had to work with, and they certainly did a competent enough job with that.

What’s more than just a bit jarring, though, is to see this type of competent (I won’t go so far as to actually call it good, we’ll just leave it at good enough) effects work sandwiched into such a thoroughly incompetent-in-all-other-respects film. But hey, give them credit for laser-like focus on what really mattered, I guess.

The ultra-’80s hairstyles, clothes, computers and all that cement the “ambiance,” for lack of a better term, and as a super-cheap period piece, Breeders certainly works. It’s not terribly memorable in any respect, and some of the more direct Alien knock-offs (I’m thinking specifically here of Creature and Contamination)  were better, but it’s a solidly entertaining enough waste of barely over an hour of your life.

Still, you’d think that, given how ubiquitous the whole DTV industry became, that it would have started off with some a little bit more — I dunno — monumental, I guess, than this — wouldn’t you?

Hell, maybe not.

"Breeders" DVD from MGM

For whatever reason, MGM ended up with the distribution rights to Breeders here in the DVD age, and have released it in a very apropos bare-bones package. The picture is presented full-frame and I doubt it’s even been remastered, although it looks more or less just fine. The same fgoes for the sound — probably in no way touched up for DVD, but it’s perfectly serviceable enough. The only extra is the inclusion of the (non-theatrical) trailer.

While none of the actors in this flick went on to do much of anything, writer-director Tim Kincaid, who  started off his career as an actor, appearing in the blaxploitation quasi-historical flick Quadroon before quickly moving behind the camera and helming the aforementioned Bad Girls Dormitory and Riot on 42nd Street (which is awesome, by the way), also directed a couple of other straight-to-VHS sci-fi cheapies (Mutant Hunt and Robot Holocaust, if you absolutely must know).

Then his resume went strangely blank for just over a decade until he turned up again under the pseudonym of “Joe Gage,” directing a slew of gay porno flicks (and even occsionally starring in them). Rather ironic, I suppose, for a guy who made a movie called Breeders, but hey, whatever pays the rent. I guess Hollywood wasn’t exactly banging down his door in the wake of Breeders – – – even if it is a slice of movie history.