ORBzine - January 2004 Movie Reviews

Red Sonja

Red Sonja This owes little to the Robert E Howard character, and nothing to his original story Shadow of the Vulture.

Our heroine is a pre-implants Brigitte Nielsen . Strangely, the eeevil Queen Gedren ( Sandahl Bergman ) is better looking, but a worse actress!

The Props are outlandish instead of medieval.

Comic relief is provided by a kiddie emperor (an oriental) and his servant, a fat Joxer. Somehow they can walk faster than Sonja's horse, even when she takes shortcuts!

This is lo-budget trash, courtesy of Dino de Laurentis .

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  • Snow Queen (2002)

    Snow Queen (2002) The Snow queen ( Brigid Fonda ) and her polar bear kidnap a teen boy (he looks at least twenty years old) from Canada circa 1900. His GF goes to rescue him, via China.

    This was made by Hallmark in 2002, so it has good SPFX and Henson animatronics. It consists of two episodes of 90 minutes, made for TV. This is the US version of the Hans Christian Anderson tale. But at least the main parts are female (Gerda, the Princess, the robber girl) as he intended.

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  • La Femme Musketeer

    La Femme Musketeer This is based on the works of Alexandre Dumas and the French film Dartagnan's Daughter .

    Dartagnan (Michael York - ), John Rhys Davies ( Lord of the Rings ) and Christopher Cazenove ( Knight's Tale ) are retired musketeers. Dartagnan's daughter ( Suzy Amis - she apparently starred in a popular glossy UK TV drama named Footballers' Wives) becomes a musketeer. She is totally wooden, not even that attractive, and no comparison with Sophie Marceau .

    Her mission is to help the Spanish Infanta marry the French King. Cardinal Mazarin (Gerard Depardieu - Man in the Iron Mask ) and Natassja Kinski conspire against them. The other villain has a goatee and wears lots of black leather.

    This was produced by Robert Halmi jnr, and features lots of slavic actors (indicating it was made in Central Europe). Also, it is ironic that Depardieu, the only Frenchman in the cast, plays an Italian.

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  • PI

    PI This is a low-key thriller shot in b&w. A group of Hebrew mathematicians want to ascertain Pi to 216 digits.

    The cast includes a veteran of Oz.

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  • Inseminoid

    Inseminoid This is an Alien rip-off. The english cast - err, crew of a spaceship - are subject to a Rosemary's Baby situation.

    The crew include Judy Geeson, Jennifer Ashley, Stephanie Beecham and Victoria Tennant .

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  • Tales from the Crypt: Bordello of Blood

    Tales from the Crypt: Bordello of Blood Lilith, mother of all Vamps ( Angie Everhart ) rises from the grave and runs a high-class Bordello.

    Virginal Jesus-freak Erika Eleniak gets worried when her brother (Corey Feldman - Goonies ) does not return from the brothel. She hires Chris Sarandon ( Child's Play, Fright Night ) to find him.

    Bill Sadler ( Roswell ) pops up in a supporting role.

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  • Rollerball (1970s)

    Rollerball (1970s) This is a 1970s dystopia, where Corporations are so powerful that sports events involve singing a corporate anthem! They see it as a Utopian world (as the Prez explains) - managed by corporations.

    Rollerball, the most popular sport, is a full-contact ball-game on roller skates. Houston are world champs, defending in a home games against Madrid. James Caan ( Misery ) is the most popular team's captain. He also has to balance his girlfriend ( Pamela Hensley ) and wife ( Maud Adams )!

    Ralph Richardson is a tech running an AI supercomputer. Burt Kwouk ( Water Margin ) is a Japanese doctor. Other supporting players are Rick le Parmentier ( Star Wars IV: A New Hope ), Shane Rimmer ( Diamonds Are Forever ) and Moses Gunn.

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  • Hudsucker Proxy

    Hudsucker Proxy 1958 NYC. Tim Robbins ( Shawshank Redemption ) is a naive genius who arrives in town and joins the Hudsucker Corporation. Jennifer Jason Leigh is his secretary. She is actually an undercover reporter, and Bruce Campbell ( Evil Dead ) is her sidekick reporter.

    Paul Newman is the company's evil chairman. Other familiar faces include Charles Durning ( ) and Roy Brocksmith ( Total Recall (1990) ).

    This was produced and directed by the Coen brothers .

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  • New Scooby Doo movies

    New Scooby Doo movies The gang investigate a disappearing House and an amusement park. They help Batman and Robin uncover some counterfeit money. The villains are the Penguin and Joker (who has a very gruff voice).

    The gang help Laurel and hardy vs Bigfoot!

    The gang help The Harlem Globetrotters vs Redbeard's Ghost!

    What's New, Scooby Doo is a weekly cartoon. The gang attend a ren-fair at Glasborough castle.

  • Scooby Doo movie
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  • Knights of the Round Table

    Knights of the Round Table This is a 1953 technicolour swashbuckler.

    Guinevere is Ava Gardner , while Mordred is Stanley Baker [ Where's Jack? ].

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  • Automatic

    Automatic This is a 1994 b-movie. Olivier Gruner ( Codename Eternity ) is a cyborg BG/butler, while John Glover ( Smallville ) is the Corporation CEO who owns him.

    It basically turns into a Die Hard scenario (rogue borg vs evil Corporation).

    Marjean Holden is a merc leader, and Penny Johnson has a small role.

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  • Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

    Gunpowder, Treason and Plot Though this was produced by the BBC, it is a bigoted work that rewrites history and undermines democracy. It portrays Elizabeth and Moray and Knox as villainous. Rizzio is shown as a wise advisor, while Bothwell is an action hero. Talk about historical inaccuracies!!!

    If Mary's side had won, democracy would not exist in the English-speaking world - if anywhere! Contraception and abortion are wrong. But do not worry - AIDS is Jevovah's punishment for unwanted pregnancy!

    Daniella Nardini has a small role as Mary Gordon of Huntley.

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  • Psychomania

    Psychomania 1972, England. Some bikers get involved in black magic rituals at stone circle.

    Beryl Reid gets cursed, and she is the biker hero's mum.

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  • Phantasm 3: Lord of the Dead

    Phantasm 3: Lord of the Dead This was made back in 1993. Our heroes are joined by a black babe, all on run from the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm - Alias ).

    Don Coscarelli actually produced Phantasm IV, though it has not got a release in the UK yet.

  • Phantasm 2
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  • Disturbing Behavior

    Disturbing Behavior James Marsden ( X-Men ) and Katharine Isabelle go to a small town. It is run by the sheriff (Steve Railsback - X-Files, The Visitor ), the doctor (Bruce Greenwood - Sleepwalkers ) and the jock (Nick Stahl - Terminator 3, Sin City ).

    Katie Holmes is a local girl.

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  • Robocop

    Robocop This was produced by Firestone and Haight, and filmed in Toronto (though it is set in Y2k Delta City, near Chicago).

    Prime Directives


    Robocop faces a serial killer vigilante. The episode also introduces Murph's son and ex-partner.

    Meltdown


    Robocop is on the run, with his ex-partner Robo-Cable after him. An Evil OCP exec is plotting.

    Resurrection


    Robocop faces special robohunters who do not have Armour-Piercing ammo! The new OCP policy is ploughshares into swords. Murph Jnr is sent after Robo. Robo II is enslaved by a psycho ex-OCP nerd. This leads up to an extended firefight (mediocre, NOT up to the standard of Hardboiled !)

    Crash and Burn


    A 90-minute battle inside OCP HQ ties up loose ends. The end has video clips during the final credits - the ending is far too happy! It is not the cynical look at the future that the original film showed.

  • Robocop
  • Robocop 2
  • Robocop 3
  • Robocop (TV show)
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  • Trancers 3: Deth Lives

    Trancers 3 Deth Lives Deth (Tim Thomerson) is now a PI in LA (trapped from the year 2363). He is divorcing from Helen Hunt . Then a lizard man arrives from the future.

    Stephen Macht ( Galaxina ) leads the resistance. Andrew Robinson ( Star Trek: DS9 ) leads a USMC Unit.

    Props include a 2005 newspaper (there is no Internet - this was made in 1992). The plot relies on coincidence!

  • Trancers
  • Trancers 2
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  • Monster Makers

    Monster Makers This is a US TV movie from 2003. It's lo-budget, but Produced by Robert Halmi Jnr.

    Shelley Stoker ( Linda Blair ) and her son watch a 1951 horror movie. The monsters become real, as does the sheriff (Adam Baldwin - Serenity ). George Kennedy has a cameo.

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  • Brave New World

    Brave New World This is a 1998 adaption of the classic novel by Alduous Huxley .

    In a futuristic society, city folk (Peter Gallagher and wife) meet savages (who own old books) from the reservation.

    Miguel Ferrer ( Robocop ) is the boss of mind control. Leonard Nimoy ( Star Trek ) is The Controller. And Daniel Dae Kim ( Voyager, Crusade, Angel, Lost ) is a Gofer.

    In the future, having kids is illegal. Brainwashing takes place in a Clockwork Orange chair, and TV adverts (super-liminal!) are a satire on media feeding frenzy.

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  • Tycus

    Tycus This is a 1998 film. It was produced by Andrew Stevens , so your expectations should be suitably low. Dennis Hopper ( Blue Velvet ) gets main billing, but is actually in a minor role as a scientist.

    The hero is a journalist, and his wife is the Charmed ones' mother.

    The story has bookends (in the year 2029 CE), but the main story is flashback to 1993.

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  • Odyssey

    Odyssey This is a mini-series comprising of two segments of 90 minutes, made for American TV. It was produced by Francis Ford Coppola .

    Odysseus (Armand Assante - Judge Dredd ) wins the Trojan war (you know, as in Troy ). But his ship is blown off-course while returning home, so he sails around and fights monsters for seven years.

    In Part 2, Odysseus must save his wife ( Greta Scacci ) from a horde of suitors led by Eric Roberts ( Strange Frequency ).

  • Jason and the Argonauts
  • Hercules
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  • Children of Dune

    Children of Dune This is a TV mini-series. The total running time is under three hours. It was filmed in the Czech republic. It has some blocky CGI and wooden acting - it suffers compared to the production values of the David Lynch movie. However, it stays faithful to the Frank Herbert book.

    Alice Krige is Muaddib's mom. Susan Sarandon is an evil plotter. Stephen Berkoff ( ) leads the Fremen.

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  • cherry 2000

    cherry 2000 The future looks like a bad place. unemployment is at 40%, recycling is the main industry. Health and safety issues are ignored, even though a sexbot shorts out (due to kitchen sink overflow!).

    The hero cannot be bothered to hire Laurence Fishbourne ( Event Horizon ) as his sex negotiator, so he tries to retrieve his sexbot from the bandit-filled wilderness.

    Melanie griffiths is an unconvincing bounty hunter. She is just a molly ringwald wannabee, not pretty or tough.

    There are some nice cinematography and stunts (especially the rocket duel). The cast includes Brion James ( Knight Rider 2010 ), Marshall Bell ( Total Recall ), Tim Thomerson ( Trancers ), Ben Johnson.

    The hero's choice is to save the damsel or liberated woman (who falls for him instantly).

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  • Robin and Marian

    Robin and Marian Robin Hood (Sean Connery - Dr No, LXG ) and Little John (Nichol Williamson - Excalibur ) are jailed by Richard the Lionheart (Richard Harris - Mutiny on the Bounty ). They return from the Crusades for Marian ( Audrey Hepburn ).

    Marian is now head nun at Kirklys Abbey. Robin and John join with Will Scarlett (Denholm Elliot - Raiders of the Lost Ark ) and Friar Tuck (Ronnie Barker) against Sheriff Robert Shaw ( Jaws ). This allows Shaw and Connery to duel for the first time since From Russia with Love .

    The fact that the main characters are aging heroes is not very Hollywood. These veterans deliver expert performances. And the ending itself is not Hollywood-style at all.

  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
  • Robin of Sherwood
  • New Adventures of Robin Hood
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  • Thunderbirds

    Thunderbirds Directed by Jonathan Frakes , this owes more to his previous film Clockstoppers than it does to the original TV show! It is about how the teenagers save the day, and thus descends into cliches. There are a few stars, but most of the budget went on SPFX.

    The opening music and exposition and credits are disappointing. It is aimed at kids - not an action movie.

    There is no fire dept, coastguard, etc - the ThunderBirds protect the entire world. The Cops only turn up after it is over.

    The Evil Hood (Ben Kingsley - Gandhi Prince of Persia ) arranges to get Mr Tracey (Bill Paxton - Terminator, Aliens ), Brains (Anthony Edwards - Revenge of the Nerds, Top Gun) and the other grown-ups out of the way. The only thing that stands between Hood controlling the ThunderBirds is ... a trio of annoying children!

    Parker is great, but Lady Penelope ( Sophia Myles ) is at least ten years too young. And since when did anyone on the show have psychic powers? Where did Brain's son come from? Or Hood's henchmen? What is the Bank of London (it must be tiny if there's only one branch)? And why mention Mrs Tracey? There is waaay too much backstory here.

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  • Time at the Top

    Time at the Top This is a movie from 1998.

    Elisha Cuthbert time travels to 1881 - where the tale descends into teen melodrama.

    Timothy Busfield (West Wing) has a supporting role.

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  • The Bride

    The Bride Made in 1985, this big-budget effort killed everyone's career! It's melodramatic crap.

    Frankenstein (Sting - Dune ) builds a Bride ( Jennifer Beals ) for The Monster. She rejects The Monster, who teams up with David Rappaport ( Time Bandits ).

    The Bride (Eva is feminine for Eve?) and Sting have a Pygmalion relationship. But they have a Psychic link with the monster (Victor?), who's in a Budapest circus run by Ringmaster Alexi Sayle ( Dr Who ).

    Familiar faces include Clancy Brown, Quentin Crisp, Tim Spall.

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  • Futureworld

    Futureworld Eighteen months after the disaster in Westworld , the resort is reopened with two extra sections (including Futureworld - set on spaceship).

    Two reporters (Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner ) visit the resort. They uncover a Conspiracy that owes more to Stepford Wives than to the original movie.

    This led to a TV show.

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  • Hypercube: Cube 2

    Hypercube: Cube 2 This is a remake as much as a sequel to the original Cube . It has a Bigger budget (no stars, just SPFX).

    Kari Matchett wakes up in an all-white room with six doors. If all this is familiar, it should be - it is a sequel to the previous Cube film, with an all-new cast including Seymour from La Femme Nikita. They are trapped in time-dilating super-maze with fancy CGI traps.

    Basically, a group of Canadian TV actors wander around a confined set and begin to turn against each other. For example, Geraint Wyn Davies ( Forever Knight ) is a suspicious type who somehow got a knife through security. He must have hidden it the one place they would never look ...

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  • The Last Great Warrior AKA Squanto: A Warrior's Tale

    The Last Great Warrior 1600, England.

    A Native American escapes from a Lord (Michael Gambon - Harry Potter ) and befriends a monk (Mandy Patinkin - Princess Bride ).

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  • The Lion in Winter (2003)

    The Lion in Winter (2003) This was made for TV in 2003, Produced by Robert Halmi Snr and Jnr.

    In 1183, Henri I (Patrick Stewart - Star trek: TNG ) and estranged wife Eleanor ( Glen Close ) fight over the succession.

    This was based on a stage play. This explains the great dialogue and witty repartee, such as:

    Henri - When pigs sprout wings
    Eleanor - There'll be pork in the trees come morning!

    Jonathan Rhys Myers ( Gormenghast ) is King Philip of France

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  • The Swarm

    The Swarm African killer bees invade Texas, courtesy of Irwin Allen .

    Scientist Michael Caine ( ) and General Richard Widmark ( ) try to save the day.

    They head an all-star cast (Richard Chamberlain, Ali McGraw , etc) - shocking how many famous faces are in this utter B-Movie!

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  • King Solomon's Mines (2002)

    King Solomon's Mines (2002) This is a Hallmark TV Drama consisting of 2-hour eps.

    Quartermain (Patrick Swayze - Donnie Darko ) is strangely naive. He's hired by Alison Doody to take her to her father, who's found the Mines.

    Quartermain's party is being tracked by Russians, who want to seize the Mines for the Czar!

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  • The Ring

    The Ring This is a totally gratuitous Hollywood remake of the excellent Jap horror, Ringu .

    Naomi Watts is the protagonist, a female journalist (and single mother) investigating an urban myth, the killer videotape. As she digs deeper she discovers the mysterious Death Tape of the girl, Samarra. Brian Cox ( Troy, Manhunter ) is Samarra's father, according to her birth certificate ...

    This lacks the low-key approach of the original. Extra scariness is injected in at regular intervals, to make it more predictable for the audience. However, this is still better than the average US horror movie. Director Gore Verbinski and writer Ehren Kruger ( Scream 3 ) did a pretty good job, adding added a couple of scenes that were not in the original film but certaily add something. The first is when Watts looks out her window and sees that every neighbour has a TV in their apartment. Second is the TV in Samarra's cell - it was both her companion and mirror!

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  • The Wraith

    The Wraith This is from 1985, before Charlie Sheen ( Hot Shots ) became famous. His character is murdered by hot-rodders, then returns as a ghost with superpowers (and a Franchi Spas pump-action shotgun with infinite ammo)!

    Sherilyn Fenn is the villain's GF (creating a love triangle), and goes topless. Randy Quaid ( Independance Day ) is the local Sheriff.

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  • Horror Portmanteau

    Strange Frequencies

    Strange Frequencies This is an anthology of music-related scifi-horror-comedy. It consists of four short films.

    Disco Inferno
    Metal-head Danny Masterson ( Face/Off ) discovers he is in Hell. But Brandy Ledford is there, so Hell ain't a bad place to be!

    My Generation
    Eric Roberts ( Odyssey ) picks up a hitchhiker (Christopher Masterson - Scary Movie 2 ). There is a serial killer on the loose!

    Room service
    This concerns a rock star and old lady maid.

    More than a feeling
    Judd Nelson (Breakfast Club) is a talent scout. Marla Sokoloff is a singer.

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  • Tales from the Crypt

    Tales from the Crypt Tourists get lost in the catacombs, where a creepy cryptkeeper tells their future.

    And All Through The House
    Joan Collins murders her husband, then is menaced by evil Santa.

    Reflections of Death
    An adulterer dreams of his death ...

    Poetic Justice
    An evil young snob destroys the life of a harmless old man (Peter Cushing).

    Wish you were here
    A Greedy businessman gets three wishes. Starring Roy Dotrice - Beauty and the Beast .

    Blind Alleys
    A greedy major runs a home for Blind ex-soldiers. They get revenge on him.

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  • The House That Dripped Blood

    The House That Dripped Blood This is a Hammer-style anthology about four murders in one house. A detective features in the bookends scenes.

    1. Denholm Elliot ( Robin and Marian, Indiana Jones ) is a novelist stalked by a murderous character.

    2. Peter Cushing ( Star Wars ), a retired stockbroker, goes to the local museum of horror. His best friend Joss Ackland visits - at risk from eevil waxworks!

    3. Christopher Lee ( Dracula, Star Wars, LOTR ) moves in, and brings his creepy 10 year-old daughter ...

    4. Ingrid Pitt and Worzel Gummage ( Doctor Who ) are horror film actors, but their vamp cloak is a haunted costume!

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  • (Romantic) Comedy

    Joe's Apartment

    Joe's Apartment Joe (Jerry O'Connell - Scream 2, Sliders ) is a slob who lives in East Village NYC. His apartment is infested with talking cockroaches - the best kind, I suppose. They even look pretty decent, considering they are CGI from 1996.

    Megan Ward (in her pre- Dark Skies days) provides the love interest.

    Robert Vaughn ( Man From Uncle ) is a scary politician.

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  • Blast from the Past

    Blast from the Past In 1963 Christopher Walken ( View To A Kill, Batman Returns ) and Sissy Spacek seal themselves into a nuclear bomb-proof bunker.

    In 1997 their son Brendan Fraser ( The Mummy ) explores the post-apocalyptic city. He falls for Eve ( Alicia Silverstone ), and falls foul of her ex-BF (Nathan Fillion - Dracula 2001, Serenity ).

    This is basically a fish-out-of-water romcom, but nicely done.

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  • George Lucas in Love

    George Lucas in Love This is a 10 minute short about George Lucas at film school in the 1960s. It is packed with hilarious references to Star Wars .

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  • Alien Love AKA Amanda and the Alien

    Alien Love An Alien monster eats and replaces humans. It has a Star Man relationship with Trekkie babe ( Nicole Eggert ), and is hunted by FBI men Michael Dorn ( Star trek: TNG ) and Stacey Keach.

    We get to see a Teri Hatcher lookalike topless.

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  • Most Fertile Man in Ireland

    Most Fertile Man in Ireland Kris Marshall (Dr Zhivago) is an English Actor playing an Irish Catholic Virgin in Belfast, 1999 (it is set in the year 2000). His Mum is Olivia Nash, and the local bartender is Uncle Andy from Give My Head Peace.

    The protagonist discovers he has super-sperm ( Toyah Wilcox is the Doctor), so he inseminates women. This dubious Hero whores himself inside the Albert clock - Belfast irony, since it was once the place where female streetwalkers plied their trade.

    This is the stereotypical Belfast, where every house has political flags and a photo of the Pope or the Queen. James Nesbitt ( The Hobbit ) is a Loyalist thug (for humorous effect).

    Irish actresses Bronagh Gallagher ( Phantom Menace ) and Pauline McGlynne (Father Ted) also have supporting roles.

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  • Prince Charming

    Prince Charming This was filmed in y2k, for the Hallmark channel.

    An English prince is a frog in NYC Central Park. Christina Applegate (who had a similar role in Just Visiting ) is a local resident.

    Martin Short ( Merlin ) is a Magical helper, Billy Connolly ( Lemony Snickett ) is a theatre director.

    The film is Shakespearian, let down by dodgy CGI.

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  • Simply Irresistable

    Simply Irresistable Sarah Michelle Gellar is a chef with a magic crab! Sean Patrick Flannery ( Young Indy Chronicles ) is a yuppie restuaranteur.

    The Crab makes her food taste magically good.

    Even as rom-coms go, this is Ultra lightweight fluff!

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  • Oz-ploitation

    Sky Pirates

    Sky Pirates This is an Australian film from 1985. Predictably it is low-budget, and rips off Hollywood movies like Raiders of Lost Ark and Dirty Harry.

    In August 1945, the hero (a RAAF Flight Lieutenant, their best pilot) takes a secret cargo to Bora Bora.

    Because of their Villainous boss, the hero and a babe go on a quest. They must retrieve a Mystical Artefact (like Indiana Jones).

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