Prisoners of the Asteroid vs. Earth Sun

Asteroid vs. Earth is currently available on instant Netflix

Asteroid vs. Earth

 

Asteroid vs. Earth (2014) – Not Rated

An elite team of scientists races against time when a torrential storm of giant meteors threatens to annihilate all life on Earth.”

How do you know the tonnage of our weapons?” – “Google, sir

Is there a more dire warning of what’s to come in a movie than “The Asylum Presents”? I think not. The movie opens with a young man watching a series of monitors that clearly aren’t conveying anything useful. The monitors are arranged around a circle and he stares at them even though most are showing generic space pictures.

Another scene shows a General at home where a supercell instantly forms over his house. Huh? This is interspersed with scenes of actual flooding in some other, undisclosed location. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to assume these are the same or different locations as neither is labeled though clearly terrain isn’t even remotely similar. It appears as though they just spliced in scenes from another movie as the flooding and supercell don’t appear to have anything to do with the plot.

Our young man tells the military that their warheads won’t do anything to the asteroid but, and I am not making this up, if they detonate them selectively on Earth, at a faultline, they can move the Earth out of the way of the asteroid. The plot does not get more intelligent as we go along.

The usual assortment of AWCs (Actors without Careers) are present. Tia Carrere (Wayne’s World) plays an important scientist. Tim Russ (Tuvok from Star Trek Voyager) takes a break from convention-hopping to represent the military. Veteran heavy Robert Davi collects a paycheck as General Masterson.

One would think that Asylum’s CGI would naturally get better over the past decade but it really hasn’t. In short, no aspect of this movie is competently handled.

AVOID

Prisoners of the Sun

 

Prisoners of the Sun (2013) – Not Rated

A group of explorers embark on a perilous mission under the Egyptian pyramids to stop the resurrection of hostile ancient beings who threaten mankind.

The room is unfortunately now armed.” (referring to a room in the pyramid)

At least this doesn’t start with ‘The Asylum Presents’. Prisoners of the Sun takes the standard start for a mummy movie and adds aliens into the mix. There is an entire movie’s worth of exposition in the first three minutes.

Our slumming actors here are John Rhys-Davies (here clearly trading on his Raiders cred) and Joss Ackland (The Hunt for Red October, Lethal Weapon 2). They at least make an attempt with the material, unlike Asylum’s casts.

Unfortunately there is a worse harbinger than ‘The Asylum Presents’. That would be Uwe Boll’s name in the credits, here as a producer. The director is Roger Christian, the man who directed Battlefield Earth. He most recently directed the execrable Stranded.

Prisoners of the Sun is easily better than Stranded. Unfortunately that doesn’t make it good. Plotting and scripting are slapdash but still much better than Asteroid vs. Earth. Toss in an alignment of the stars, an ancient bloodline, tomb raiding, a woman who has visions, and the requisite mummy and mix well.

Unfortunately the individual elements aren’t handled very well. Prisoners of the Sun only looks good in comparison to Asteroid vs. Earth or Stranded. It is not terrible but there are far better uses of your time, unless you are particularly attached to John Rhys-Davies.

Waxwork

Waxwork is currently available on instant Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Waxwork (1988) – Rated R

“Invited over by a mysterious magician (David Warner), Mark (Zach Galligan) and his college friends attend a private tour of a macabre wax statue museum near campus, where the exhibits suck them into the frightening worlds of dangerous werewolves, vampires and other monsters. Full of satisfying suspense and gore, this inventive horror film finds Mark teaming up with unlikely allies in order to shut the waxwork down and escape with his life.”

“Can’t a girl get laid around here without being burned at the stake? “

Waxwork is a loving homage to the classic Universal monsters of the 30s and 40s. Instead of remaking them in earnest as Hammer did, Waxwork takes a page out of the previous year’s Monster Squad (1987) and lovingly pokes fun while employing standard horror tropes. As Kevin Williamson would so brilliantly do later in Scream, writer/director Anthony Hickox’ characters have some self-realization that they are in a horror movie.

The Waxwork setup allows Hickox to tell little individual horror stories while having them be more firmly interconnected than in portmanteau films like Tales from the Crypt or From Beyond the Grave. Be aware that it is not family friendly as Monster Squad, Waxwork is quite gory.

Acting is not particularly good with the group of young people (was that part of an homage to the slasher genre?). Zach Galligan is okay as spoiled rich brat Mark. Zach achieved fame with Gremlins (1984) and would do sequels to both Gremlins and this but not much else. Michelle Johnson, so gorgeous as the object of lust in Blame It on Rio (you know you’re something when co-star 21-year-old Demi Moore is considered the plain one), is quite pretty here as well but her acting is terrible. Deborah Foreman, the cute young star of Valley Girl, Real Genius, and April Fool’s Day, is quite engaging as the virgin Sarah. In spite of being young stars, none of the three would go on to do much else – perhaps Waxwork has a curse?

As with the Universal horror films, the acting is so much better with the villains. The best here is David Warner as the sinister owner of the Waxwork, Mr. Lincoln. Miles O’Keefe, once touted as the new Tarzan (1981) is a very urbane Count Dracula. John Rhys Davies is seen briefly as a tortured werewolf. J. Kenneth Campbell assays the legendary Marquis de Sade. Not a villain but Patrick (Avengers) MacNee is a welcome guest star.

Waxwork was one of the first films that died at the box office ($808,114 sales vs. $1.5 million in cost) but then achieved cult status on home video (~$20 million!).

People Watch: Look for an uncredited Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees in many a Friday the 13th) as the Frankenstein Monster. Writer/director Anthony Hickox cameos as an English Prince.

Sequel-itis: Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992), currently available on instant Netflix, is cute but fails to capture the magic and delicate balance of Waxwork. Zach Galligan and Patrick MacNee return and genre veterans David Carradine, Bruce Campbell, and Drew Barrymore co-star.