“Kamen” just means masked, he’s a masked rider. More shin silliness, this one hitting some Smoking Causes Coughing heights of absurdity. Professor Shinya Tsukamoto explains all backstory to our Rider (Sosuke Ikematsu, star of Tsukamoto’s Killing) then promptly dies, melting into soap bubbles, as do all deceased heroes and villains. Rider is strong, punching henchmen into fountains of blood, teams up with Ruri-Ruri (Minami Hamabe of the new Godzilla Minus One) to defeat a series of insect-themed baddies.

Some real Evangelion-ish lines, and I like how the movie comes to a full stop for long minutes while a character calmly unpacks their emotions. Android Ruri’s evil brother Butterfly and Rider 1 have a fatal duel, but there’s a second Rider (he and Butterfly were both voices in Inu-Oh) who will carry on the legacy, going on new adventures with Rider 1’s spirit inside his helmet, a Heat Vision & Jack situation. Government guys Tachi and Taki are the only actors who’ve been in all three Shin movies. One villain was Ichi The Killer himself – why do I never recognize him? – another played the wife whose husband is an alien in Before We Vanish.

I guess rewatching Dawn of the Dead got me nostalgic over horrors watched when I was 12 that were set in malls with gun stores. Back then I wouldn’t recognize Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov camping it up in the opening scenes, but my whole life I’ve known Dick Miller, seen here being electrocuted by killer robots.

Robot knows the best stores:

The robots are smarter and more resourceful little ED-209s, slow and loud (but apparently silent to the hearing-impaired characters), meant to guard the mall but turned evil by a sinister lightning strike. The teens who work at the Sbarro and the furniture store are partying after hours when the robots go on a killing spree, until only the two nerds remain.

Watching Leslie’s head explode:

These kids: Nerd Allison was in Night of the Comet (also with Mary Woronov), Nerd Ferdy in Karate Kid, Rick in Friday the 13th Part 2, Greg in Electric Boogaloo. Early victim Mike is Deathstalker himself. Most importantly, torched Suzie was Barbara Crampton, in the midst of becoming a horror legend with Re-Animator and From Beyond.

Fortress (1992)

A couple of movies I haven’t seen in many years… Fortress being the only Gordon film I saw in theaters, before I knew him as the Re-Animator guy. It sets up a decently convincing sci-fi dystopia, but no actors are “good” in this, not even Jeffrey Combs. Anyway it’s not taking itself too seriously so why should we?

The gang:

That 70s Dad runs a private prison where even an “unauthorized thought process” will get your guts electroshocked (“intestinated”) – after RoboCop, Kurtwood Smith was typecast as an evil boss in cyborg dystopias. Ex-soldier Christopher Lambert and his illegally pregnant hotwife arrive as prisoners, and while T7D macks on the wife (Loryn Locklin of Wes Craven’s Night Visions), Lambert teams up with his cellmates to escape – including timid nerd Combs, Lincoln Kilpatrick of The Omega Man, and Clifton Collins Jr. of Guillermo Del Toro’s Robot Jox remake Pacific Rim. Lambert has to fight a giant psycho (Vernon Wells of Mad Max 2 and some Joe Dante films)… Combs is killed while installing a virus into the mainframe by typing “install virus.exe” or something, which reminds me, isn’t there a new version of Blackhat coming out?

Unauthorized thought process:


Space Truckers (1996)

An even sillier movie – I don’t think sci-fi action plays to Gordon’s strengths – but Dennis Hopper is a huge upgrade over Lambert, bringing the charm he omitted from Witch Hunt. He’s a Millennium Falcon/Firefly-style independent space trucker, beefing with George Wendt over shipment prices, then accidentally gets involved in a plot to take over the world.

Our heroes in a porta-potty:

Hopper and hired hand Stephen Dorff take a load of killer robots, then get stuck in space while lusting after the same girl (Hopper’s Witch Hunt costar Debi Mazar), then attacked by their own murderbot cargo. Nice cynical ending, the guy plotting a hostile planetary takeover (Shane Rimmer, best known from Thunderbirds) is now President of Earth – the super-soldiers were just a backup plan should he not get elected. But his plan to eliminate witnesses backfires, and our guys flee after blowing up the president. I’d take a sequel, but this straight-to-video widescreen movie was never gonna get one.

Space pirates:

I was stressed to learn I’d been tricked, that this was only cowritten by Malignant‘s James Wan, actually directed by the NZ guy who made Housebound, but it didn’t turn out to matter – good movie about twisted AI, quite timely. Doll scientist Allison Williams is running secret experiments behind the back of idiot boss Ronny Chieng, cutting corners (like parental controls) to get an evil doll to befriend her newly orphaned niece. Then after the company discovers the doll’s capabilities and decides to mass produce it, Allison switches to trying to interrupt the public launch by proving the doll did murders (she did – chasing a creepy boy into traffic after ripping his ear off, and melting the neighbor’s face with lawn chemicals).

This happens to all murder-droids in the end, and it only makes them angrier:

Colin Farrell is oscar-nominated for Banshees, and I think we should give Colin 3 or 4 oscars, but Yang is also very beautiful in this (Justin Min of nothing else). Colin lives with Jodie Turner-Smith (Queen & Slim) and their girl Mika, and unfortunately Yang was an out-of-warranty refurb technosapien and unfixable, so he’s being donated to research, which, if these things are so proprietary-secretive, should be against the license agreement. Colin tries to understand Yang’s chosen memories and discovers his hang-out buddy, clone Haley Lu Richardson. A major Lily Chou Chou reference, for some reason, and Yang had a Pentax camera if that’s anything. A weepy movie: “His existence mattered – and not just to us.”

Carrying on where we left off from 1.11, and the wikis confirm that the stuff I didn’t remember from the series (suicidally British pilot Mari) is new to the movies. Doubling down on the Christianity stuff and the teen nudity. Asuka jumpkicks an angel to death, then when her robot becomes possessed, the bosses remote-pilot Shinji’s eva and beat the hell out of her. Some good action, slowed down by a couple of lame pop songs – and it’s fun that the subtitles only translated song lyrics in the final scene instead of the dialogue that might’ve explained what is happening.

For not having seen this in 20 years, I recalled some scenes very well. Funny to watch a 4k restoration of a movie with so many SD-video elements (three long TV newscasts, Robo’s POV screen). Not so many people in the theater on a weeknight, which bodes well for tomorrow’s screening of The Conversation.

Since I’ve recently rewatched Peter Weller in Naked Lunch, it’s time to complete the trilogy and rewatch Screamers. Our other cop hero is Brian De Palma muse Nancy Allen, whose rocket attack on Ray Wise is a comic highlight. Robert DoQui of Coffy gets a good role as the sarge; other cops are incidental, disgruntled and trigger-happy.

As the invincible druglord crimewave baddies, That 70’s Dad and Laura Palmer’s Dad are joined by a Shawshank guard, a Greatest American Hero regular, and a doctor in The Day After.

At the Company that controls the cops, RoboCop project lead Miguel Ferrer is killed by corrupt ED-209 project lead Ronny Cox (he’d play another evil authority figure in Total Recall), who is fired to death by bossman Dan O’Herlihy (Twin Peaks sawmill owner who dies twice).

Toxic Roxy is young and blonde, frees buried criminal Kate Bush, who murders all Roxy’s friends then escapes, leaving the whole community angry at Roxy and her hairdresser mom. This all takes place on another planet, populated entirely by women who shun electronics and chemistry, after the earth became uninhabitable… well, only shunning these things to a point, since they have guns and androids (both named after fashion brands). While waiting for Kate, Roxy and her mom (Elina Löwensohn of course) bond with Kate’s fancy rich neighbor Sternberg, with her male android Olgar 2 and weirdo bounty-hunter bots Keifer and Climax.

Extremely horny sci-fi, Roxy masturbating at every opportunity, with dreamy visuals. We got zombie horses, geode-faced creatures, energy weapons, a pubic third eye, hats and fur coats everywhere, and everything is slimy or dripping and cross-faded onto everything else. I felt bad about not liking The Northman last night, then today I double-featured this with Mad God at the Plaza, and now I am feeling much better.