Revenge movies are a tricky thing.
On one end of the spectrum you have violent power fantasies like The Crow, Desperado or Machete; unrealistic hyper-violent orgies of death and destruction that paint vigilante justice as a swift and powerful sword of righteousness.
On the other end are movies like I Saw The Devil, Hard Candy and Memento, which suggest that when someone takes the law into their own hands they risk turning into the very monsters that they are after.
And then there’s Rolling Thunder, a 1977 revenge thriller co-written by Paul Schrader, which seems to straddle the line between both sides, suggesting that while vigilante justice may be “right” in some cases, you’re not going to come out a better person having committed it.
Disco was the hottest thing in music for a good chunk of the 70s and into the 80s, and during that time Hollywood certainly took advantage, with blockbusters like Saturday Night Fever and The Wiz.
But disco-themed hits seemed to be few and far between, and for every Saturday Night Fever there seemed to be at least three Can’t Stop The Musics. Hollywood just couldn’t translate disco’s success into box office dollars, apparently.
One of the biggest bombs that tried to cash in both on the disco craze and the surprise success of Grease was The Apple, 1980 musical produced and directed by Menahem Golan, the b-movie god behind such “classics” as Delta Force, Superman IV and The Masters of the Universe.
The second I found out about this film, I knew I had to see it. A disco musical directed by the man who decided that Dolph Lundgren should star as He-Man in a feature-length film? C’mon.
I knew it would be bad. I knew it would be a spectacle. I knew it would be ridiculous.
I did not know it would be an allegory for the rapture.
The Apple is a weird film.
I saw the Village People live at a free concert once. While I went to the show to poke fun at them and their ridiculousness, I actually ended up having a lot of fun. The Village People, to this day, are great performers. They know how to work a crowd, and their music, while silly and simple, is still a lot of fun to dance to, especially in a crowd of a few thousand.
But while I enjoyed the concert, at no point afterward did I think to myself, “I’m going to go out and buy some Village People records!” I can’t imagine why anyone ever wanted to. Their music is made to be enjoyed live, or at the very least in a disco.
So the idea that someone could see the Village People live and not only think, “these guys are a musical tour de force, I need to buy all their albums” but also “and someone needs to make a movie about them too!” blows my fucking mind.
Because that totally happened.
The Devil vs. Bill Gates.
That’s the best way to sum up The Dungeonmaster, an ultra low-budget 1983 schlockfest from Charles Band’s Empire Pictures. A mainstay of video stores throughout the 80s, the out-of-print film is now on Netflix (on a transfer that looks like it was dubbed from a VHS tape) allowing new generations to discover and finally learn the answer to the question, “Can you defeat the devil with DOS?”
While most people turn to Netflix to watch the latest new releases or TV shows, I prefer to use the service to dig deep and seek out lesser known artifacts from the 70s to today. Are they always good? No. But when they’re at least entertaining, I’ll share them here. Up first is Number One With A Bullet, the best 1987 crime thriller starring a supporting member from Star Wars and a guy from Revenge of the Nerds.
The cast of Number One With a Bullet reads like a mad-libs gone wrong; Billy Dee Williams and Robert Carradine as hard-nosed narcotic cops. Valerie Bertinelli as Carradine’s long suffering (ex?)wife. Doris Roberts as his neurotic mom. Peter Graves as their easily agitated captain. Mykelti Williams (Bubba from Forrest Gump) as the lovable snitch. It’s a who’s who of what the fuck. A hot mess of a cast.
Appropriate for a hot mess of a film.