Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie (1990)

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"They're mean, green, and on the screen!"

Directed by Steve Barron.
Stars Judith Hoag, Elias Koteas, Sam Rockwell and a bunch of rubber Turtles.

    A crime wave is sweeping New York; Gangs of teenagers known as 'The Foot' are terrorising the innocent. When top reporter April O'Neil (who spends the entire film wearing an implausibly impractical mini-skirt) is saved from an attack by a large rubber Turtle calling himself 'Raphael' she teams up with his three only Ninja trained friends, 'Donatello', 'Michaelangelo' and 'Leonardo.'
    The Turtles master 'Splinter' is rat-napped by 'The Foot' (headed by Evil Japanese warlord 'Shredder) for some reason and a bunch of Foot soldiers infiltrate April's flat (for some reason), kick the crap out of Raphael and have a big fight with the rest of the Turtles. The Turtles are on the verge of defeat until they are helped out by friendly passing vigilante 'Casey Jones'.
    Escaping to the countryside with the comatose Raphael for some R&R, male bonding and sickening moralising. They have a training scene (as they do in every martial Arts film) a semi acid trip round a fire where Splinter appears as an apparition rambling something about their destiny (more moralising), then decide to go back to New York to rescue their Master from Shredder.
    It all ends with Shredder being thrown off a roof into the rubbish compactor.
    And more moralising.

What's wrong with it?

    The film, made in 1991 at the height of 'Turtle mania', tries to have a darker tone to the cartoons as well as making it accessible to children. So amongst the violence and murders, there is comedy slapstick thrown in, the characters crack wise whilst being smacked in the face or someone is hit with a cricket bat to a comedy 'wa-wa-waaaaaaaaa' noise. Which leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.
    The plot doesn't make a great deal of sense. The actors stand around whilst the Rubber turtles mug at the camera and shout things like "Radical Dude!" with the irritating enthusiasm of those annoying surfer types who strut around on beaches.
    April O'Neil starts the film as a 'sassy and back-talking' reporter then turns into a dribbley, giggly and kinda crap schoolgirl after about fifteen minutes.
    The fight scenes are a bit pants, probably due to the fact that the stuntmen couldn't really move that well in those rubber suits.
    The sub Rocky score is pretty ghastly as is the 'T.U.R.T.L.E. Power' rap (by 'Partners in Kryme') that was Number One for like…10 weeks.
    Oh and there is an MC Hammer song on the soundtrack too.

What's right with it?

    It was the kind of film you liked when you were twelve. But anyone past puberty would probably prefer to watch endless re-runs of 'an audience with Michael Winner'.

How bad is it really?

    Very bad.

Best bit?

Donatello: You're a claustrophobic.
Casey Jones: You want a fist in the mouth? I've never even looked at another guy!

    Which shows the standard of the film.

What's up with…?


Production Values - Not bad as it goes. The Turtle costumes actually look okay. There is a modicum of decent stunts. And the fight scenes at least try. 5

A concerned reader and self-proclaimed Turtle fan points out that there is a point where Leonardo's sword bends when he catches it on a wall - The Prophet

Dialogue and performance - The script is pretty cod. Clunking one-liners. Lame explanation. The leads are rubber (much like the actors) Elias Koteas just about scrapes through with his dignity, as a cynical Han Solo wannabe. Judith Hoeg is fairly forgettable and does little after she's been used to set up the Turtles apart from flash her thighs. I don't remember seeing her in anything before or after…(I think she was in an episode of Angel with one line…Or was it the X-files?) and on the strength of this, I'm not surprised. There is no one else of worth, apart from cult actor Sam Rockwell (Galaxy Quest/Charlie's Angels) who appears for 10 seconds as 'head goon'. 14

Plot and execution - The plot plays out in a "let's go here, and let Splinter explain all in a crap Obi-Wan/cod philosophy type of way", Jumping from one scene to another with reckless abandon. 12

Randomness - Due to cuts from the BBFC Michaelangelo barely appears (as he uses Nunchukas) (Of course, that ban has now been lifted. Did somebody say 'director's cut'? - The Prophet). Casey Jones turns up when he feels like it. April O'Neil disappears during the end climax. But by then, you've just stopped caring. 17

Waste of potential - As a film about pizza eating giant Ninja turtles made for teenagers; you could not ask for more. 6

Overall 54%


Passenger 57 (1993)

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Directed by Kevin Hooks
Starring Wesley Snipes, Bruce Payne (again) and Liz Hurley

    Snipes plays John Cutter a maverick airline security expert who, after the death of his wife during a botched hostage negotiation, has stepped out of the limelight.
    Until he accepts a job in LA, and finds himself on a plane with a British aristocrat/ psychopath bomber/Air terrorist Charles Rayne (played by Bruce Payne). Who, after being kicked out of the IRA for being too much of a loon (And not for being, say, too ENGLISH? For example? I love this film already - The Prophet), blowing up a train station in London and hiding in the Far East, he is caught by the FBI. And is now being transported to LA (for reasons not really explained, but I guess the electric chair).
    Being a master air terrorist he, unsurprisingly, seizes control of the plane, and Snipes (who was hiding in the toilet) has to fight his way through Rayne's terrorist mooks. Which he does. Then gets off the plane, fights a group of terrorist mooks hiding in a funfair, gets back on the plane, fights Charles Rayne and lobs him out of a plane, rescues the attractive plucky stewardess…And walks off onto the sunset (well Moonlight).
    Credits roll.

What's wrong with it?

    The film is a complete rip off of everything. A little Silence of the lambs here, a lot of Die-Hard (1 and 2) there.
    It's clichéd, unoriginal, and has some terrible early 90's clothes and haircuts (just check out the Brian May look-alike terrorist.)
    The script is a little disjointed as it jumps around from set piece to set piece with some gapping plot holes you could drive a truck through.
    And Liz Hurley as a stewardess cum terrorist convinces on precisely no levels whatsoever.

What's right with it?

    It being guff actually sort of works for it. Snipes is always good value, unless you count his Cockney-Rasta performance in 'Futuresport', especially when whaling on bit part actors and hanging on the side of moving vehicles.
    Bruce Payne (in his first American film) actually gives the bad guy thing a bit more gusto than his later lazy efforts (see Highlander 4, Dungeons and Dragons and Warlock 3). Varying British articulation, casual sadism and off hand brutality. There is actually an attempt of character development in both him, Snipes and a couple of supporting characters.
    The director handles the (admittedly fragmented) action scenes well and builds up some moments of suspense, though that's largely due to the tense Jerry Goldsmith alike score from former jazzman Stanley Clarke.

How bad is it really?

    Slick comic-book entertainment…Your enjoyment will probably depend on the levels of alcohol and pizza consumed. If Van-Damme or Seagal films excite you, you'll be in Hog Heaven!

Best Bit?

What's up with…?

I could write pages for this segment. Picking holes in Passenger 57 is like shooting fish in a barrel. However…


Production Values - Almost the entire film takes place in a 747 (apart for a brief action distraction at a fairground) so sets aren't really used. The stunts are pretty good, and there's a motorbike chase and some cars skidding around the place. There is the obligatory crap back-projection of the villain falling from a high thing, or in this case, out of. The fistfights are okay too. 6

Dialogue and performance - The dialogue is fairly pants, mostly lame quips when a baddie is creamed. Or things like "You need to get back in the zone after Lisa's death, John!". Payne hisses things like "My father died…Painfully" and "I'll have a steak…bloody" with pantomime relish. Snipes can play a maverick cop with a past in his sleep. Tom Sizemore (back when he was thin) is okay. There's a bunch of nameless terrorist mooks to get beaten up or shot.
But a pre-plastic surgery Liz Hurley, when she was attractive, really lets the side down as she's awful. 12

Plot and execution - The plot is fairly sloppy, just an excuse for some Die-Hard shenanigans and Wesley Snipes to further his lead (action) man status. It's a bit all over the show, but at least the Director keeps it rattling along at a fair pace. 16

Randomness - Shed loads of this…Most of it already mentioned. Lots of nameless terrorists, cops and passengers. Dinosaur sized plot holes, and devices. 20

Waste of potential - Hard to say. Whoever watched this had probably seen Die Hard 2, James Bond films, and Silence of the lambs. But it does what it does and is good fun. Adds nothing new to the genre, but doesn't damage it either. 11

Overall 65%


Waxwork (1988)

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"Stop on by, and give the afterlife a try."

Directed by Anthony Hickox.
Starring Zach Galligan, John Rhys Davies and Patrick Macnee

    Mark Loftmore (Zach Galligan) and his friends go to a midnight showing in a Waxwork museum that has mysteriously appeared on their street after being invited by enigmatic Mr Lincoln (David Warner in a Willy Wonka costume). One by one Marks friends start being dragged into other dimensions and are killed to become the waxwork scenarios.
    Tony (a Billy Zane look-alike) gets sucked into the first Portal ("okay who put acid in my drink…Again!") which features John Rhys Davies who turns into a large werewolf who bites Tony. A couple of wolf-hunters come in and one is gruesomely ripped in half (in true Hickox style, blood spurts everywhere). Whilst the other shoots the werewolf and the transforming Tony.
    Then rich-bitch China appears in the Dracula scene. After retiring for the night she's attacked and chased around a hospital room by a vampire called Stefan, all this whilst Van Helsing lies tied to a table with his leg bone exposed. Throughout the fight, items and people keep falling on his bare leg for comedy effect. Various vamps show up and are dispatched in bloody and gruesome ways (check out the impaling on Champagne bottle death) until China is hypnotised by Dracula and bitten to death.
    Mark suspects something's up so he goes to see cynical cop Inspector Roberts who slowly twigs the waxworks are the 13 missing people on his notice board. Then is sucked into a 'Mummy' pastiche where, needless to say he and all the other characters suffer bloody and gruesome deaths.
    Mark and his would-be girlfriend Sarah Brightman visit the Loftmore attic for clues. Realising that Mark's grandfather (an antiques collector) was incinerated alive ("the paper says he might have died in some pain," says Mark, deadpan) by Mr. Lincoln.
    They both go to see Mark's godfather Sir Wilfred (an over enthusiastic Patrick Macnee). It turns out Lincoln has made a deal with the Devil, and with help from 18 trinkets belonging to 18 of the most evil men in history stolen from Marks dead Grandfather he plans to get 18 sacrifices for his Waxworks. Which (18 divided into 3 =6 6 6) will tip the balance of good and evil and 18 evil dudes will rule the world.
    Mark and Sarah go to the Waxwork to burn down the 16 waxwork dummies, but get split up and pushed into Portals.
    Sarah gets chained and whipped by The Marquis de Sade.
    Whereas Mark goes all black and white for the 'day of the dead' homage "Nutty Zombie's from hell" portal, where he gets attached to a severed hand (that comes in 'handy' in 'Lost in Time') and finally escapes into Sarah's 'de Sade' portal to rescue her.
    Mark and Sarah are captured by Mr Lincoln, and two other teenagers are sacrificed instead making the 18 waxworks so all the dummies start on the rampage. But they are saved in the nick of time by an attack of the British Butlers led by Sir Wilfred.
    It all culminates in a big bloody battle where genre costumed actors are blown up and ripped apart.
    Mr Lincoln is shot by Sir Wilfred, who then has his head ripped off by a werewolf, and the waxwork explodes and only Mark and Sarah (and a severed hand) escape.

What's wrong with it?

    The film is disjointed, random, gory and kinda stupid. The plot and script is ropey. The acting is cod and for the most parts incomprehensible.
    There seems to be an old Anthony Hickox saying "Why just kill someone when they can be ripped apart, or crushed in a almost Itchy and Scratchy cartoon way." So there's a high gooey 'ick' factor.
    There's almost as much blood in this than in the film 'Ravenous'.

What's right with it?

    The whole cast and crew seem to have their tongues firmly in their cheeks (Just check out the end credits song "It's my party" performed by, ironically, Lesley Gore). The different portal sections are homaged well. It's also quite funny at times, fun too in a camp shlocky way.
    The rubbishness of the special effects and sets actually gives the whole thing a vaguely endearing quality.

How bad is it really?

    Terrible…But, like a pantomime, if you enter into the spirit, roaring good fun.

Best bit?

    I'd have to say the finale, a massive playground scrap between British butlers and assorted monsters, aliens, werewolves, frozen explorers (Evil Colonel Oates?), evil Nannies, Jamaican witch doctors, Jack the Ripper and the Little shop of Horrors plant.

What's up with…?


Production Values - I get the impression that Anthony Hickox went to a film set jumble sale and brought whatever costumes were cheap then thought, "Right I'll do a Zombie bit, a vampire bit and a Mummy bit. Any props and costumes I have left I'll throw into the end fight scene." They are varied at least. The lighting and sound production is quite bad quality, although that may well be the old videotape I rented. 16

Dialogue and performances - Decent British actors ham for Queen and country. Zach Galligan has some good comic timing, but the rest of the American teens are dull and wooden (and have some shocking 80's mullet haircuts and pink T-shirts). 14

Plot and Execution - The plot, which is an okay idea, is just an excuse for different sections and scenes of gore really. It does play out like an extremely violent Scooby Doo episode. 17

Randomness - You betcha! Patrick Macnee is Mr plot explanation. Most of the characters barely stay alive long enough to have names, let alone character development. But it has an ace up its sleeve as it's meant to leap from section to section with complete incomprehension. But I still don't get why Mark decides that looking in his Grandfathers attic will do anything to explain the waxwork or his missing friends. Then he finds out his Grandfather was actively involved and the plot grinds on. 18

Waste of potential - Not really. You get what you pay for when renting a Hickox film. And has more gore than the 15-certificate sequel. 3

Overall 68%