true confession time boys and girls.
Other "film critics"
may turn up their noses at sequels like
I regard the "chili" on the Wendy's
99-cent Value Menu, but I've got a soft
spot in my heart for the damn things.
But like any love, this one
doesn't come without its price. You probably
think it's easy watching stuff like UNDER
SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY, EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD
BY DAWN or BREAKIN' 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO.
Unfortunately, those simple joys are often
cancelled out by dreck like REVENGE OF THE
NERDS 2: NERDS IN PARADISE, TEXAS CHAINSAW
MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION or FRIDAY
THE 13TH PART 7: THE NEW BLOOD. And that
knowledge doesn't make my job any easier.
Just knowing that the next DVD I handle
might contain another MANIAC COP 3 makes
it hard for me to sleep at night.
On those nights when I can't
sleep, I take a deep breath, cast my eyes
skyward, and thank the gods for creating
digital cable. Because it's comforting to
know that I'll be able to flick on the tube
and tune in something good and mindless
like TURBULENCE 2: FEAR OF FLYING or
dare I say it TURBULENCE 3: HEAVY
I know what you're saying.
"But Dan, I haven't seen TURBULENCE
1." I know, because I said the same
thing. As it turns out, you don't have to
see T1 (as I like to call it) to get maximum
enjoyment from T2:FOF or T3:HM. In fact,
I watched T1 after T2:FOF and T3:HM,
and found nothing in its monotony-filled
running time that added my unabashed enjoyment
of its successors.
Frankly, watching Ray Liotta
chew up the scenery as TURBULENCE's villainous
Roy Weaver only made me long for the subtle,
soothing presence of Craig Sheffer, the
man who has become synonymous with "The
Sheffer, of course, is fondly
remembered as the impossibly-named "Hardy
Jenns," the Spader-like villain of
1987's SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL. The role
of Rob, the hunky subway conductor who chases
chubby Rikki Lake in the TV flick BABYCAKES,
only cemented Sheffer as A Guy Who's Willing
to Do Anything for A Paycheck. Which might
be my ultimate working actor's compliment.
(See Boothe, Powers and Hauser, Wings for
It looked like Sheffer's star
was on the rise with 1990's NIGHTBREED,
an underrated horror flick from the mind
of Clive Barker, and the sensitive smash
hit A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT, the 1992 melodrama
that unfortunately launched Brad Pitt towards
But while Pitt was setting
his sights on sitcom stars and projects
like SEVEN, Sheffer found himself in the
alien-abduction thriller FIRE IN THE SKY
and the controversial football flick THE
PROGRAM. Unfortunately, he must've spent
those shoots taking career advice from DB
Sweeney and James Caan, because it wasn't
long before the wonderful world of straight-to-video
action-thrillers started calling.
brings us to TURBULENCE 2: FEAR OF FLYING
(2000). Here, Sheffer plays Martin Messerman,
an airplane engineer who hasn't been able
to fly since his wife was killed in a plane
crash that he survived. Psychological trauma
and mental anguish ensued, which is why
he's in a "Get Over Your Fear of Flying"
class with Jennifer Beals (the chick from
FLASHDANCE who has held up better than expected)
and Jeremy Nordling, whose presence in the
film puts me in a dicey predicament.
You see, if I don't reference
Nordling's best-known work I'm sleeping
on the job. If I tell you that he played
Sela Ward's ex-husband on the TV show 'Once
& Again' I'm potentially exposing myself
as some kind of fruit who sat home and watched
a show about 40-year-old divorced people.
Let me put any doubts to rest by telling
you that as far as middle-aged broads go,
Sela Ward's pretty hot and THAT is why I
By the time Nordling gets
out his first line of dialogue caked in
a fake-Brit-accent you know damn well that
he's a bad guy. You don't get any points
for that one. Nor do you get points for
knowing that engineer Sheffer will use his
intimate knowledge of the plane's inner-workings
to save the world or at least a portion
of the west coast from the release
of a bio-terror agent.
You do get points, however,
for the number of Tom Berenger flicks you
can name once he arrives on the scene as
The Guy in the Tower Who Helps Land the
Plane. Bonus points if you named SHATTERED
or Abel Ferrara's brilliant FEAR CITY and
not SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME or the overrated
saved the day in FEAR OF FLYING, Sheffer
turns up again albeit in a completely
different, yet similar, role in TURBULENCE
3: HEAVY METAL. Having watched thousands
of cheesy thrillers, cliché horror
flicks and snooze-inducing sex comedies,
I guarantee you that this is the only time
in known cinematic history that a series
has actually improved as it has gotten further
That's right. I am here to
tell you that far from being the worst of
the series, T3: HEAVY METAL is easily the
best of the bunch. How can you not love
a flick that revolves around a Satanic plot
to plummet an airliner into one of the Gates
of Hell while millions watch a concert by
the Marilyn Manson-esque Slade Craven, which
is being broadcast over the Internet from
Need more? How about Rutger
Hauer, yeah THAT Rutger Hauer, as the plane's
pilot. Or Joe Mantegna as an FBI agent working
the case from the ground. Or a bevy of fabulous
chicks in Goth-metal gear. Throw in sultry
Gabrielle Anwar a long way from her
role in SCENT OF A WOMAN as an FBI
agent who tracks down hacker Nick Watts
(Sheffer) and you've got yourself a bona
fide straight-to-video classic.
By the time TURBULENCE 3:
HEAVY METAL screeches to a halt, you'll
be calling the video store to see if DEADLY
VIRUS or MOB DOT COM two, count 'em
two, more Sheffer/Anwar pairings
are out for rental.
Six Sequels You Probably
Skipped... But Shouldn't
RE-ANIMATOR (2003): Jeffrey Combs returns
as Herbert West in this second sequel to
1986's RE-ANIMATOR. We caught the American
premiere a couple months ago and are pleased
to report that it's a gore-filled old school
horror flick with its tongue - and other
body parts - firmly planted in the right
X (2001): After JASON GOES TO HELL:
THE FINAL FRIDAY, the odds of this high-concept
horror being any good were pretty slim.
Let's face it, this is the ninth sequel
to FRIDAY THE 13TH, but I'm as surprised
as anybody that something that can be summed
up as "FRIDAY THE 13TH IN SPACE"
is an entertaining time-waster. Fascinatingly,
belly shirts are all the rage in the 25th
century and series fans will eat up the
Virtual Reality Camp Crystal Lake.
3. MEATBALLS 3: RUDY'S LAST
STAND (1987): What happens when you cross
the teen-sex-comedy genre with a Capra-esque
"feel good" vibe? You get this
head-scratcher starring Patrick Dempsey
in the Chris Makepeace "Rudy"
role and Sally Kellerman as a recently-deceased
porn star who needs to do a good deed to
get into heaven. She, of course, decides
to get Rudy laid and the geek-to-chic transformation
is on. Also starring Shannon Tweed as a
scantily-clad sociology scholar. (And no,
I am not making any of this up!)
NINJA 2: THE CONFRONTATION (1987): Sam
Firstenberg and Michael Dudikoff were Cannon
Films' low-budget 1980s answer to Sergio
Leone and Clint Eastwood. Only this time
the hero cut the bad guys down to size with
his fists instead of guns. Partnered with
on-screen buddy Steve James, Dudikoff smashes
a nefarious scheme to create a race of Super
Ninjas. The best mindless kung-fu flick
since James Ryan starred in KILL AND KILL
2 (1995): In the wake of JURASSIC PARK,
low-budget dinosaur flicks were all the
rage... for about two weeks. This is the
only one that stars the dream cast of Cliff
DeYoung as a government windbag, Don Stroud
as a grizzled captain with an eye patch,
John Savage as the tough but tender voice
of reason and the amazing Rick Dean as Monk,
the anti-authority, take-no-shit bad-ass.
Delivers more than you'd expect from something
called CARNOSAUR 2.
3 (1988): Stories differ on what happened
with ZOMBIE 3, but this much is known: part
of the flick was directed by Italian horror
legend Lucio Fulci and part was directed
by Italian horror semi-legend Bruno Mattei.
The result is a schizophrenic mix of SCIENCE
GONE AWRY when the "Death 1 Compound"
is stolen by terrorists and turns a cheap-looking
hotel in the Phillipines into a wasteland.
Zombie mayhem, billowy smoke and bad synth