All posts by qwipster

Fire and Ice (1983) | Ralph Bakshi



This animated story involves a fantasy world imagined before the last ice age, featuring human civilizations and exotic dinosaurs coexisting. It is a time where the lands are divided among two factions, the evil Ice Peak sorcerer warlords, Queen Juliana and her wicked son Nekron, leading an army of ape-like subhumans, and the goodly Fire Keep clan led by King Jarol. The ice clan’s Nekron is using his telekinetic powers to send giant glaciers out to freeze over the rest of the world, forcing the good humans to set up camp near the volcanoes.

Our main hero is vengeful Larn, the survivor of North Village from one of Nekron’s glacier attacks that takes out his people. Jarol’s beloved teenage daughter Princess Teegra gets kidnapped from Nekron’s subhuman minions. Teegra manages to escape and runs into Larn, and the two form an instant romantic bond. As King Jarol sends his son Taro and his men to seek a peaceful solution, Larn makes his way to Nekron’s abode, joining forces with a mysterious warrior named Darkwolf, who also is traveling to the Ice City to thwart the Ice Lord’s wrath.

Ralph Bakshi directs. Frank Frazetta co-produces.


Return to Oz (1985) | Walter Murch



Nine months after her Oz experience, Dorothy wants to return to check in with her friends. Aunt Em thinks Dorothy is mentally ill. She seeks treatment from an experimental clinic using electroshock therapy to treat maladies of the mind. Dorothy is taken to an eerie clinic run by an uncaring Dr. Worley and the stern Nurse Wilson.

During the treatment, a mysterious girl watching over Dorothy intervenes during a lightning strike that halts the experiment. Dorothy escapes down a nearby river, washing ashore in the land of Oz again. Except the Yellow Brock Road is demolished. The Emerald City is in ruins and its inhabitants, including all of her old friends, have been turned to stone by the mad Nome King. Except for the Scarecrow, who ran Emerald City in her absence, who has been imprisoned. Along with her hen Billina, a broomstick figure with a pumpkin for a head named, obviously, Jack Pumpkinhead, a robotic soldier named Tik Tok, and a flying beast of burden named The Gump, it’s up to Dorothy to stop the mad Nome King and the evil Princess Mombi from destroying the Oz that once was for good.

Fairuza Balk stars as Dorothy in her debut feature film. Walter Murch directs and co-writes this nightmarish cult adventure.


Willow (1988) | Ron Howard



The story involves Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis), a farmer who dreams of becoming a sorcerer’s apprentice among the Nerwyns, which are a race of little people. One day, he encounters a baby who has washed onto the riverbank near his farm. The baby, who we come to learn is named Elora Danan, is a Daikini, a race much larger than the Nerwyns, but Willow’s brethren don’t think it’s a good idea to keep her. The evil-witch Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh) has minions, including her warrior-princess daughter Sorsha (Joanne Whalley) and vicious skull-faced warrior General Kael (Pat Roach), actively searching for this baby smuggled out from under her nose because she may be the prophecy foretold to end her reign, a child with a special mark upon its arm. Willow accepts the mission to return the baby back to the first Daikini he meets, with a few other Nerwyns in tow.

Along the way, they encounter and recruit that first Daikini, Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), a skilled but down-on-his-luck mercenary, who agrees to take the baby for release from capture.  THe Daikinis are in the midst of a war with the legions on Bavmorda’s side, putting Elora’s fate in jeopardy should they fall short. However, Willow gets another directive from a fairy to find the good witch on a remote island. With Madmartigan and a couple of Brownies, who are from a human-like race even smaller than the Nerwyns, only nine inches in height, Willow seeks to find a way to protect the baby. Ron Howard directs this story by producer George Lucas.


Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985) | Ken & Jim Wheat



The moon of Endor gets attacked by a vicious band of thuggish Sanyassan marauders, whose ancestors also crashlanded on Endor some time ago, and a powerful shape-shifting sorceress named Charal under the leadership of King Terak.  They attack the Ewok village, taking the crashed Towani ship’s power source after killing Cindel’s family, then take away all of the Ewoks except Wicket back to their dungeons as prisoners.

While roving the forest, Cindel and Wicket encounter a mysterious creature named Teek who leads them to the home of a grumpy hermit named Noa Briqualon, who we come to find has also crashlanded there. Noa wards them off, but his icy exterior melts to friendship, leading to Teek and Noa helping them on their quest to free the imprisoned Ewoks from the marauders’ castle. King Terak is confident that the powerful crystal that is an energy cell used by the Towani family star cruiser has magical powers. The power, Terak feels, will get them off of Endor and that Cindel must be some sorceress who can tap into those powers.


The Ewok Adventure | Caravan of Courage (1984)



George Lucas’s story for this made-for-TV spin-off from the Star Wars films involves a spacecraft that crash lands on Endor. The mother and father spend the film looking for their two children, a fourteen-year-old named Mace Towani and his four-year-old sister, Cindel, not knowing that they’ve been taken in by the kindly Ewoks whose village lies a bit of a distance away from the crash site. Cindel befriends the Ewoks instantly, but Mace is not too sure about their intentions, concentrating more on finding the monstrous, ax-wielding Gorax might have captured the whereabouts of their parents, who the Ewoks begin to suspect. They set about building a caravan to head to the Gorax lair on the hope they can rescue the parents before it’s too late.


The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) | Steve Binder (with David Acomba)



The Star Wars Holiday Special is a two-hour made-for-TV musical variety show movie that aired on November 17. 1978 on CBS for its November sweeps period.). Variety shows were hot on TV in the 1970s and this effort would serve as a ratings bonanza, putting the hottest cultural phenomenon of the last year in front of as many eyeballs as they could on a Friday night when kids could stay up to watch TV. The Force was not with this one.

Chewbacca’s family living in a giant treehouse on Kashyyyk. The family trio includes Chewbacca’s wife Malla, his father Itchy, and his son, Lumpy. Chewbacca is returning to see his kin for a celebration of the holiday called Life Day. However, Chewie is delayed by an Imperial Cruiser in the vicinity performing a blockade that keeps the Millennium Falcon from its destination, and down on the Wookiee planet, Stormtroopers are invading homes and placing the locals under a strict curfew. All Chewie’s family can do is use their technology to entertain themselves with cartoons, acrobats, sultry women of fantasy, and Jefferson Starship while they wait.

Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Bea Arthur, Art Carney, Harvey Korman, Diahann Carroll, and the voice of James Earl Jones all make an appearance.


Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) | Nicholas Meyer



The final of the Star Trek films to feature the entire original cast, Star Trek VI draws many parallels to the end of the Cold War between the United States (represented here by the Federation) and the Soviet Union (the big bad Klingons).  An explosion occurs on the Klingon moon known as Praxis (an allusion to the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl), which makes the Klingon race face possible extinction, as their way of life crumbles, rendering them a superpower no longer (akin to the breakup of the USSR).  The crew of the Enterprise is called upon to be an escort for Klingon Chancellor Gorkon (Gorbachev wannabe) to a crucial assembly on Earth. 

It’s hard for Kirk and co. to trust the Klingons after so many years of fighting them, so when a pair of photon torpedoes are shot into the Klingon ship and two men in Federation gear assassinate many onboard, all fingers point to the only logical culprits, the Enterprise crew.  Kirk and McCoy (who tried in vain to save Gorkon) are put on trial for the disaster, leaving the remaining crew with little time to coordinate an effort to clear their names and secure their release before whatever faction responsible commits more assassinations in response to the peace process.


Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) | William Shatner



Star Trek V starts off with the crew taking over the reins of new Enterprise starship, and their first impromptu mission requires them to travel to the near desolate planet of Nimbus III, where a rogue Vulcan known as Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill) has placed several key ambassadors as hostages in order to draw a starship to the planet.  His plans are to hijack the ship and crew, taking them on an odyssey to the Great Barrier, a place that no other ship has successfully breached.  His mission is to find the Higher Being that all life in the universe refers to as their God, whom he says has beckoned him to be the one to find out life’s eternal mysteries.  Is Sybok a madman or a visionary anointed with divine responsibilities?

William Shatner makes his feature-film debut as a director of this maligned entry in the Star Trek movie series.


Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) | Leonard Nimoy



Star Trek IV starts with our heroes on planet Vulcan, loading up to go home and face punishment from the Federation for their hijacking of the Enterprise and its subsequent destruction, as well as the sabotage of the Excelsior.  As they approach Earth, they find that a giant space probe is threatening to destroy the planet, emitting a signal that those on Earth are baffled how to respond to.  It is determined that the probe is sending messages in the language of humpback whales, which have been extinct for over 200 years.  With seemingly no obvious solution, Kirk and crew decide to time warp back to the late 20th Century to snatch a couple of humpbacks to bring back with them in the hopes of saving the Earth.  They discover two whales in captivity at a San Francisco Cetacean institute. Still, they have only a limited amount of time to figure out how to transport these whales in tons of seawater, in addition to needing to harvest enough nuclear energy to send their tapped out ship back to the future. Leonard Nimoy directs.


Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) | Leonard Nimoy



Star Trek III starts off with the weary Enterprise crew returning home after their near-death battle with Khan, and the actual death of Spock, whose body had been torpedoed to the Genesis world, which was a newly transformed planet, formerly without life.  While all involved are a bit worse for wear, the biggest effect on a crew member seems to be with Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), who is exhibiting strange behavior that suggests he may be cracking from the experience, babbling something about returning to Spock’s homeworld of Vulcan.  Spock’s father, Sarek (Mark Lenard), is convinced that Spock’s “essence” has somehow been transferred to another before his death through a mind-meld, which would explain McCoy’s behavior.  With an unknown life form recently found on the Genesis planet, Kirk (William Shatner) wants to visit and find out if Spock’s body is also reincarnated, but the instability of the area makes it off-limits to anyone but science officers.  Kirk and company must hijack their old ship, against orders, but soon finds that murderous Klingons have discovered news of the Genesis Project, and are willing to kill anyone in order to gain information on the process. Leonard Nimoy directs.


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) | Nicholas Meyer



With Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the series took a swing in the exact opposite direction from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, putting things on a raw emotional level. This is a sequel, not of the first film, but of an original “Star Trek” episode, “The Space Seed”, also starring Ricardo Montalban in the Khan role. Now, it is 15 years later, and Khan and his men are marooned on a desert planet which is slated as an experiment in the Federation’s Genesis project. This project is actually a bomb of sorts that can take any uninhabited planet and make it habitable for life as we know it, transforming it into a tropical paradise. Khan hijacks a small cruiser piloted by Chekhov (Walter Koenig) and the duel between Khan and Kirk (William Shatner), the man with whom he is filled with hatred, for control of the bomb and for sheer revenge. Nicholas Meyer directs.


Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) | Robert Wise



Fast approaching Earth is a cloudlike alien entity that has destroys all that approaches its nebulous form.  The not-quite-fully-refitted Enterprise is the closest vessel available in its approach toward Earth. Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) pushes his way to take over the mission over the man he picked for his successor as the captain, Willard Decker (Stephen Collins).  Kirk makes every attempt to reason with this living entity, who goes by the moniker, V’ger.  V’ger abducts the Enterprise’s navigator, Ilia (Persis Khambatta), who then returns in a mechanical form, giving voice to the entity.  The bad news: V’ger wants to rid the Earth of all the carbon-based life forms, effectively ending life as we know it for everyone on the planet unless Kirk and company can save the day. Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, and Nichelle Nichols return to their iconic roles. Robert Wise directs.


Dragnet (1987) | Tom Mankiewicz



In this semi-spoof sequel to the classic TV show, “Dragnet”, Dan Aykroyd isn’t playing Jack Webb’s character, Joe Friday, in this film, but rather, his nephew, with the same name and personality.  He’s assigned a roguish new partner named Pep Streebeck (Tom Hanks) with which to fight crime with, though he’s of a new breed of a police officer, not really respecting the rule of law that Sergeant Friday does to his core. 

Their first case together sees them trying to crack a slew of recent murders in Los Angeles, ostensibly done by a mysterious cult known simply as P.A.G.A.N., (People Against Goodness and Normalcy) as the calling cars they leave behind at the scenes of their crimes suggest.  Signs begin to point in the direction of a smarmy TV evangelist named Rev. Jonathan Whirley (Christopher Plummer) and a smarmy smut merchant named Jerry Caesar (Dabney Coleman).  Friday and Streebeck rescue a sacrificial virgin, Connie Swail (Alexandra Paul), at one of the P.A.G.A.N. gatherings, and for the first time in his life, Sgt. Friday has found someone wholesome enough to consider as his girlfriend, though he has now become too involved to think clearly — or play things by the book when the heart is involved.


Get Smart, Again! (1989) | Gary Nelson



In this “Get Smart” sequel movie made for network television, KAOS makes a comeback in a world that hasn’t been terrorized by them since CONTROL took them down and put themselves out of the international terror business.  Recurring “Get Smart” actor Bernie Kopell returns as Maxwell Smart’s (Don Adams) main nemesis Conrad Siegreid, who leads the new KAOS after it has been bought out in a corporate takeover and is now encountering budget cuts requiring a quick influx of cash. Siegried launches his own plans for world domination with the formula to create a Weather-Control Machine, which gives them the power to adjust the climate anywhere in the world as they see fit, but willing to stop targeting places like the interior of the White House for a ransom of $250 billion to be paid within seven days. Barbara Feldon, Dick Gautier, Robert Karvelas, Harold Gould, King Moody, and Kenneth Mars also appear.


The Nude Bomb / The Return of Maxwell Smart (1980) | Clive Donner



Maxwell Smart (Don Adams), the dimwitted super-spy from the hit TV series from the 1960s, “Get Smart” returned in 1980 for a brand new, racier adventure.  Entitled The Nude Bomb, it has lost that title over the years in favor of the more TV-programming friendly The Return of Maxwell Smart.  The gist of the film is that an agent from the super-terrorist organization, KAOS, is threatening to rid the world of all clothing if demands aren’t met, using a bomb capable of destroying all forms of fabric.  It’s up to Agent 86 of PITS, Maxwell Smart, to put an end to these nefarious plans, although wherever he turns, trouble seems to follow.  He suspects there may be a double agent trying to put a wrench in the works, but who?

Andrea Howard, Dana Elcar, Vittorio Gassman, Norman Lloyd, Sylvia Kristel, Rhonda Fleming, Pamela Hensley, Bill Dana also appear in this film directed by Clive Donner.

Erratum Note: Writer/producer Alan Spencer reached out to me on Twitter to let me know that a comment I made about “all” Eugene Roche’s scenes being re-shot after his departure due to illness is not entirely accurate, as you can see him in a few long shots. He recommends the new Kino Lorber Blu-ray release of The Nude Bomb for a vast wealth of information on the making of the film.

Although I released this episode on 12/13/19, three days after the release of the Blu-ray on 12/10/19, I did the research on The Nude Bomb and recorded the episode approximately two weeks prior and did not have the Blu-ray’s supplemental material or Alan Spencer’s commentary to consult, so I do apologize for this discrepancy.

If you’re interested in the most definitive take on The Nude Bomb, please check out the Kino Lorber release: https://www.kinolorber.com/product/nude-bomb-aka-the-return-of-maxwell-smart-4k-uhd