GrindhouseFest ’12…in the jungle

March 6, 2012

Many of the low-grade Nam flicks that I’ve mentioned on this site only received official release on VHS.  Incredibly, some have had “official” release DVD, and this post lists the cheapest.  Video quality isn’t great on most of these, they appear to be sourced from VHS tapes, some with burned-in subtitles in foreign languages. Except for a couple non-jungle movies in the MERCS collection, these were all filmed in the Philippines.

Phantom Raiders (1988), directed by Dan Harvey.  Fantastically entertaining, but I don’t understand the economics of releasing a movie like this on it’s own DVD and not part of a collection. Starring Miles O’Keefe of Ator fame.  He puts in a decent “Clint Eastwood as a jungle ninja” performance.

Expendables 2: Zero Heroes is a collection of four low budget jungle action flicks on one DVD.  Couldn’t believe it when I saw this for sale at a local Best Buy. This was put out a couple years ago to cash in on the popularity of Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables, but these movies have nothing to do with that movie.  Stallone’s The Expendables 2 is scheduled for release in August.

The Expendables (1988), directed by Cirio Santiago
Wild Team (1985), directed by Umberto Lenzi
Cobra Mission, aka Operation Nam (1986), directed by Fabrizio De Angelis
Cobra Mission 2 (1989), directed by Camillo Teti

The main reason to get this collection is for Cirio’s The Expendables.  Cobra Mission is a decent movie too, but the print used here is completely unwatchable.  Fortunately, a better print is included in the next collection…

Grindhouse Experience Presents: MERCS.  Ten movies on three discs, listed in rough order of my least to most favorite…

The Last Mercenary (aka Rolf) (1984), directed by Mario Siciliano
Soldiers of Fortune (1990), directed by Pierluigi Ciriaci
These two aren’t much it a jungle at all, more of an arid desert setting, so I didn’t really watch them closely at all. That shows how serious my jungle pretentiousness is.

Fireback (1983), directed by Teddy Page (“famous” for Phantom Soldiers).  Starts off looking like a “big gun in the jungle” movie, but then the big gun and the jungle are never seen again and it becomes a ho-hum revenge flick.  Mike Monty has the quote of the movie when he says, “He can make an ordinary soft drink straw into a weapon.”

Mannigan’s Force (1988), directed by John Ryan Grace.  Opens with an explosive raid that may or may not have been in a jungle, but the rest of the movie doesn’t have much to offer.  The main reason to watch this is to laugh at Mike Monty wearing a beard and dictator/general costume.

Death Raiders (1984), directed by Segundo Ramos.  I’m having a hard time constructing a complete sentence to describe this movie, so here’s some keywords:  Jungle, Cave, Drunken Kung Fu, Twice-baked Dialog, Awkward Machismo.

Operation Nam (aka Cobra Mission).  Better video quality than in the Expendables 2 collection. Watchable at least.  Plenty of nice greenery, but it’s mostly of the “coconut plantation” variety, not jungle.  Memorable scene:  After blasting up a village, the commando gets frustrated by the fasteners on a damsel’s shirt and growls…”All these buttons!” So she turns her back to him, all demure and such, to undo the buttons. Turns back around to reveal her bosom completely covered in scars. Then she says “American napalm”, lifts a pistol and shoots him dead through the chest.

A couple movies in this collection have been previously mentioned on this site: Tiger Joe and Strike Commando.

War Bus (1986), directed by Ferdinando Baldi. An irresistible premise: escaping from North Vietnamese-controlled territory in a big yellow school bus.  Neat thing about this one is that it felt a little like a Spaghetti Western or Post-Apocalypse movie at times. Trailers are better in German…

Raiders of the Magic Ivory, aka Predators of the Magic Stone (1988), directed by Tonino Ricci.  Borderline candidate for inclusion on the Big List of 1980s Fantasy Movies. Like an Indiana Jones movie set in Vietnam, but over-the-top ridiculous.

Best in the MERCs collection?  Tough choice between Strike Commando, War Bus, and Raiders of the Magic Ivory. All three are top trash contenders, but Raiders gets my vote for a couple of reasons…

2 Responses to “GrindhouseFest ’12…in the jungle”

  1. Scott said

    Just discovered your blog, Dustin. (For some reason, blogs on wordpress don’t seem to get as wide exposure as blogspot sites.)

    Anyway, cool stuff. Sybil Danning’s boobs really take me back.

    • dpbrandt said

      Thanks for stopping by, Scott. Yeah, I agree that wordpress blogs seem to be harder to discover. Which is a shame, because WP is better that blogspot in many ways.

      Consider me jealous upon learning that you have history with Danning’s jugs. Only a relatively recent discovery for me.

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