Friday 21 November 2014

Terminator Woman

Sgt. Jay Handlin (Jerry Trimble) and Sgt. Julie Parish (Karen Sheperd) are cops with an ongoing rivalry about who is the better martial artist. But could there be sparks flying in the romantic department as well?

While trying to figure this out, the pair travel to Africa of all places bring down crime lord Alex Gatelee (Michel Qissi). Naturally, it’s no straightforward task to nab their man. Julie is kidnapped and Jay has to fight off countless goons and the sexual advances of Gatelee’s randy henchwoman Myra Bolo (Ashley Hayden). After enlisting the help of some locals, our heroes martial arts abilities are put to the ultimate test when they face Gatelee in the final showdown. Will Jay be Handlin business? Find out today...?

Unlike many of Jerry Trimble’s films, Terminator Woman (1993) is professionally-shot and competently made. Which may be no coincidence given that, unlike many of Jerry Trimble’s films, it’s not made by Roger Corman. That being said, the pacing is off making the story rather dull at times. If they’d lopped about 10 minutes off, this whole outing might have had a bit more verve.

The leads, though, are all top-notch. You’ve got fan-favorite Trimble, who - and we mean this as a compliment - resembles a more meat-heady Emilio Estevez. Alongside, you’ve got fellow fan-favourite Sheperd - an enjoyable screen presence whose excellent martial arts skills are wonderfully captured here. And finally, there’s Qissi (who also directed the movie) as a very convincing baddie. So those are the movie’s strengths and weaknesses for you, and they fight it out - like everyone else on screen - throughout the running time.

Generally speaking, we don’t really care for ‘Africa slogs’, as we call them, but this one is tolerable, thanks mainly to the aforementioned leads. The Trimble/Sheperd team-up was an inspired choice, reminiscent of similar kick-ass pairings such as Richard Norton and Cynthia Rothrock in the Rage and Honor diptych, or Steven Vincent Leigh and Sophia Crawford in Sword of Honor (1996). If nothing else, Terminator Woman plays to the strengths of the leads, with plenty of fights and good-natured stupidity.

Judging by the large “TW” logo on the US VHS box art, perhaps the filmmakers were attempting to establish a brand to be used in subsequent films. Maybe they hoped in the future people would stand around at the water cooler asking, “Have you seen the latest TW movie? It’s awesome.”

While this movie prediction may not have come to pass, anyone who foresaw a fiery demise for the film’s helicopter will not come away disappointed. You’ll have to bear with us as this one’s a little tricky to explain.

At the film’s climax, Hayden tries to make her getaway on speedboat. Shepherd and one of the friendly locals, pursue in a helicopter they’ve commandeered. After catching-up, Shepherd leaps from the chopper into the motorboat for a chop-socky showdown with Hayden.

After biffing away at each other for a bit, Hayden decides to play dirty, grabs the boat’s flare gun and tries to shoot Shepherd. The shot misses, but the flare arcs high into the sky and falls lands – with ridiculous improbability – back on the boat on top of a box of explosives. (I know, what where the odds?)

Shepherd yells to her friend to jump from the chopper, before diving over the side of the boat. The flare detonates the TNT causing such a huge explosion that it wipes out the helicopter as well.

Artistic merit 

We really enjoyed this chopper fireball. Its destruction is quite convoluted, but that just serves to make it more fun. The sequence plays with our expectations as initially you think that the flare will directly blow-up the helicopter. It’s a cool touch to use the explosion of the speedboat to destroy it. 

Exploding helicopter innovation

First known use of an exploding speedboat to destroy a helicopter.

Do passengers survive?

Yes. Shepherd and her friend both survive having jumped off the chopper at different points. The unfortunate pilot though is never seen again.


The whole film is very ‘nineties’. What do we mean by that? Well, in the midst of all the action, Trimble finds time to perform a ‘spontaneous’ shirtless martial arts workout alone in his hotel room. Anyone who’s seen a similarly underdressed Jeff Speakman prance about to Snap’s The Power in A Perfect Weapon or William Sadler as Colonel Stuart in Die Hard 2 will know the form.


Maybe it’s an African thing or maybe it’s a nineties or action movie thing, but there’s a club in the film called Backlash. It’s hard to imagine why you would call a dance club “Backlash”. It’s a bit too angry for us.

Interesting fact 

Karen Sheperd is the Terminator Woman, Steve Railsback is the Termination Man, and George Segal is the Terminal Man. Quite where all this leaves Mr Schwarzenegger is anyone’s guess.

This review is a guest post by our friends Brett and Ty from the great website Comeuppance Reviews. They're dedicated to celebrating action movies from the eighties VHS era. Check out their website and discover some forgotten gems. 

Saturday 15 November 2014

Terminal Rush

Jacob Harper (Don the Dragon) is a deputy sheriff in a small town near the Hoover Dam. As if having to fend off rednecks who harangue him because of his Indian (i.e. Native American) ancestry wasn’t enough to deal with, a team of heavily-armed baddies has taken over the dam. They threaten to blow it up unless they get twenty-five million dollars in ransom. (They’re holding the dam hostage, so that makes sense, right? Eh, never mind...)

Raising the stakes are the fact that Harper’s wife is pregnant and his beloved father, Nate  is trapped in the dam. Can Harper’s use his wits and martial arts skills to save the dam and his family? Or has he met his match – as the VHS box art suggests - in the villainous Bartel (Roddy Piper)? Will Harper’s mission be dam successful or dam impossible? And you thought we wouldn’t do a ‘dam’ pun in our introduction...

Terminal Rush (1996) is a scraggly straggler in the unending parade of nineties ‘Die Hard-in-a’ movies, and this ranks towards the back of the pack. While the opening of the movie is funny and completely ridiculous, with government officials spitting out random non sequiturs between credit titles, things quickly take a turn for the mediocre.

The film rapidly descends into a mindless shoot-em-up between no-one-knows-who. Incomprehension is compounded by the drab, washed-out look that director Damian Lee gives the film. It’s less Terminal Rush than Interminable Rush.

So why do we keep watching these things? Because we think our cinematic heroes, Don The Dragon
and Roddy Piper will save us. Granted, Roddy plays a rare baddie role here, but you get the point.

In classic fashion, Don’s character, Harper, is the ex-Special Forces, ‘if anyone can save us, he can’ type that’s regularly found in these films, but his character is rather a disappointment. Don’s martial arts skills are underemployed as he largely sticks to handgun action. The potential of his Indian ethnicity is similarly frittered away with dreadful one-liners like, “That’s a dreamcatcher,” after beating-up a baddie. If you didn’t just groan, feel free to do so now. Warning: it doesn’t get any better from here on out.

Bad guys wear black.......eye-liner?
Bizarrely Roddy wears black eye-liner throughout. Just why he wears it - and he wears it for the entire the movie - is never explained. Equally entertaining is a black guy named Snookie (Warren). Truly he’s the original Snookie. The Jersey Shore cast members must be huge Terminal Rush fans. And what could be more apt than naming a little orange moppet after a strapping black gentleman? Plus his voice sounds exactly like Samuel L. Jackson’s. If you ever wished Jackson appeared in Terminal Rush, just close your eyes during Snookie’s scenes. You’re not missing much anyway.

Still, amid the sill beat-em-up scenes there is an exploding helicopter scene to punctuate the boredom.

In an attempt to re-take the dam heavily armed soldiers and a helicopter are called in. Unfortunately, Roddy Piper is well prepared for such an eventuality. Hauling out a missile launcher he takes aim at the whirlybird and removes it from the sky.

Artistic merit

It’s a decent fireball. It’s big and orange and blossoms nicely on the screen. Roddy’s ridiculous Adam & the Ants inspired make-up only adds to the enjoyment.

Exploding helicopter innovation

First helicopter to be destroyed by a man wearing black eye-liner.


Terminal Rush might be a Terminal Bore but it does have one of our favourite items: repeated footage. Apparently some goons walking down steps while shooting machine guns was deemed so amazing, we have to see it multiple times.


Featuring the word ‘Terminal’ in the title of the film was a curious nineties phenomena. We go more deeply into this phenomenon in a review of Terminal Justice.

Favourite line

“It’s classic stupid if you ask me.” - Snookie

Tag line

“A national monument held hostage. A forgotten hero rises with a vengeance.

This review is a guest post by our friends Brett and Ty from the great website Comeuppance Reviews. They're dedicated to celebrating action movies from the eighties VHS era. Check out their website and discover some forgotten gems. 

Wednesday 12 November 2014


Widowed psychic Andy (David Keith) and his pyro-kinetic daughter Charlie (Drew Barrymore) are on the run. They’re fleeing a shadowy Government organisation known simply as "The Shop" who want to capture the pair and harness their spooky powers for their own nefarious ends.

When initial attempts fail, The Shop’s head honcho Hollister (Martin Sheen) hires crazed one-eyed goon John Rainbird (George C. Scott) to hunt the pair down. After Rainbird snares his prey, our heroes are locked-up in a top secret laboratory where Sheen subjects them to a barrage of sinister experiments. Will Andy and Charlie have to live out their days as human guinea pigs, or can they use their psychic powers to escape? Well, you won’t need the power of extra-sensory perception to guess what happens.

Now, when you call your film Firestarter (1984), you really need to serve up a sizzling hot entertainment. Unfortunately, this lukewarm offering is rather undercooked.

Much of the blame has to go to director Mark L Lester who allows the plot to gently simmer for far too long. So, instead of watching Charlie wreak pyro-manic carnage, the film gets bogged down in endless scenes of domestic drudgery as Dad tries to council his young psychic padawan about her deadly powers. It's like watching an X Men sequel played out as Ken Loach-style misery-porn.

Still, the film is not devoid of fun. Patient viewers are eventually rewarded in the final act when Lester finally turns up the gas and gives our heroes the chance to unleash their powers with unrestrained abandon.

Drew Barrymore channeling her inner Bonnie Tyler
As the title helpfully suggests, Charlie’s special skill allows her to set objects ablaze while her father can manipulate people by implanting suggestions into their minds. So as a legion of Government agents move in for the kill, our heroes are given bountiful opportunity to creatively use their abilities.

More entertaining though is how David and Barrymore demonstrate their freaky mental powers with their thespian skills. To convey the effort of using his Jedi-like mind tricks, David clutches his head whilst adopting a particularly pained and earnest expression. No doubt aiming for an air of Svengali-like mystery, he simply looks like someone trying stoically to deal with a bad case of piles. No wonder he was - according to Stephen King, on whose book this film is based - fourteenth choice for the role.

Meanwhile Barrymore looks no less ridiculous. Presumably unable to coax ‘psychic’ from his young E.T star, Lester just uses an off-screen fan to wildly blow her long tresses about. I’d not seen so much hair portentously billowing about since Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Holding out for a hairbrush’ pomp.

Unsurprisingly, given Firestarter’s slow-burning approach, it’s not until the film’s denouement that we’re treated to the exploding helicopter – and there’s no prizes for guessing its source.

David Keith: psychic and piles sufferer
During her escape bid, Charlie starts torching everything in sight. Pursuing agents and their vehicles are spectacularly turned to toast as the enraged brat becomes a human flamethrower.

Into this nightmare swoops a lone helicopter. Via a megaphone a passenger optimistically orders Charlie to "stay right where you are". Ever the obedient child, Charlie duly stands stock still, but only so that she can take careful aim at the chopper and blast it out of the sky with a fireball. Perhaps that instruction to stand still should have included an order not to torch aerial vehicles either.

Artistic merit

The chopper conflagration is fitting addition to the numerous acts of destruction at the end of the film. The explosion is nice and clean and engulfs the chopper entirely. Extra marks for Charlie's pinpoint pyro-kinetic accuracy.

Exploding helicopter innovation

The first and only known exploding helicopter caused by pyro-kinesis.

Although it’s not necessarily the earliest use of psychic powers to destroy a chopper. Tanya Roberts used psychically controlled flamingos to crash a whirlybird in Sheena: Queen of the Jungle which was also made in 1984.

Do passengers survive?

Not a chance. The pilot, and potentially an additional passenger that decided to man the loud speaker, were undoubtedly cremated in the explosion.


Barrymore, in her first post E.T. outing, is excellent as the kid trying to handle a set of powers that are ruining her life. Mr Sheen also puts in a typically well-polished performance.


The soundtrack, courtesy of new age synth warblers Tangerine Dream, has not aged well. For anyone who grew up in the eighties the ethereal plinking and plonking conjures painful memories of French mime artists and pretentious stage magicians. Awful.

Favourite quote

Charlie McGee: "Get out of here, you bastard! I'll burn you up! I'll fry you!"

Interesting fact

The book has had a few additional adaptations. 18 years after Firestarter, the direct-to-TV 'Firestarter 2: Rekindled' was produced - featuring Dennis Hopper and Malcolm McDowell. A series, set 20 years after the events of Firestarter, is also apparently in development.

Review by: Joe

Tuesday 4 November 2014


Sometimes the title spells out exactly what you’re going to get.

101 Dalmatians gave us spotted dogs, and lots of them. Three Men and a Baby gave us, well, three men and a baby. And certainly, as far as Exploding Helicopter was concerned, Nude Nuns With Big Guns delivered on every aspect of its promise.

So, when a military rocket containing top secret nanotechnology crash lands in a zoo, we’re just one implausible plot twist away from the creation of a homicidal, robotic crocodile. Namely, Robocroc (2013)

What follows is, broadly speaking, about as imaginative as the title. The newly spawned cyber reptile quickly goes on the rampage, chewing up hapless extras and chomping an army unit into mincemeat.

It then falls to two zookeepers to save the world from this pointy-toothed terror. But for all their best efforts, the hapless duo is powerless to save the audience from the crushing boredom of the plot.

Given this is a low budget creature feature, Exploding Helicopter always expected Robocroc to be a cheap and shoddy affair. However, even for a hardened viewer of genre cliche, this was a whole new order of bad.

The whole film is beset by a depressing lethargy. In scene after endless scene, it half-heartedly trudges through the usual genre tropes with all the enthusiasm of a sulky teenager press-ganged into a family holiday.

Worse, in a film about a murderous 20 foot-long crocodile, all the truly terrifying butchery appears to have taken place in the editing suite. Clearly embarrassed by the shonky CGI appearance of its notional star - presumably generated on a ZX Spectrum - the movie-makers limit Robocroc's appearance to just a few fleeting glimpses.

Robocroc in all his low budget CGI glory
Which leaves a terrible monster movie without even the virtue of a monster. Several promising scenes - for example, the death of a swimming pool filled with nubile teens - are rendered utterly toothless, as all the limb-tearing carnage takes place off-screen. When a splatter movie refuses to show either the villain or the victims, you have to wonder what the point is.

(In fairness, Jaws was famously 'the shark movie without a shark' for the first two acts. But it had a cracking script, visionary director, top acting chops and an unforgettable score to take up the slack. Here it looks like the cameraman's got pissed and fallen into the camera at the vital moment.)

The cumulative effect of all this inaction soon becomes mind-numbing. For long stretches nothing happens. Then finally, something does happen, but it's all off-screen. Then nothing happens again. Few creature-features can lay claim to having a Beckettian quality, but this is such a film. It should have been called Waiting for Robocroc.

Still few films are without any reward and Robocroc does at least serve up one unlikely treat: Keith from Boyzone. Oh, yes. Cast as a Steve Irwin-style croc hunter, the former chart topping lip-syncer is called in to help stop the beast. (If only he'd crooned out a couple of his lamentable ballads at the monster, the movie might well have been over a lot sooner.)

After watching Robocroc turn a bunch of heavily armed elite soldiers into hamburger, the Irish lunk bizarrely decides to get all Tarzan on the techno-reptile's ass and wrestle it into submission like Johnny Weissmuller did all those years ago.

(In perhaps a movie first, the CGI wrestling on display here is actually less convincing than Weissmuller's famously histrionic thrashings about with a large piece of reptile-shaped rubber.)

Follow the example of these teens and
run away from Robocroc
Sadly, such giddy novelty is in scarce supply elsewhere - and particularly with the exploding helicopter scene.

Following a possible sighting, the military predictably bring in a helicopter to search for the murderous croc by swooping very, very low over the water. You'll never guess what happens next. Oh, you already have.

Yup, registering 9.9 on the cliche-ometer, our dependable monster leaps 'suddenly' from the water and smashes into the whirlybird, causing it to explode. Call it a chopper croc-flagration.

Artistic merit

Dismal. The helicopter explosion is only briefly glimpsed. Presumably the special effects budget couldn’t stretch to showing anything more.

Exploding helicopter innovation

Better. This is the first known destruction of a helicopter by a robotic crocodile.


It was a struggle to find any, but the least-worst aspect of the point of view photography which allows us to see the world through Robocroc's eyes. This means we get Robocop or Terminator style computer graphics overlaid on the real world with flashing “target locked” messages popping up onscreen. Conveniently, it also means the director doesn't have to show us the dreadful computer croc.


We're pretty much stuck for choice here, but perhaps the most galling thing is that there never seems to be enough of anything.

The military don’t have enough soldiers, the zoo doesn't have enough animals, the splatter scenes don't have nearly enough splatter. However, what's really missing is drama, tension and entertainment.

Interesting fact

Dee Wallace (who you may remember from E.T: the Extra Terrestrial) faced a similar threat in the equally low budget Alligator 2: The Mutation.

Review by: Jafo