Friday, December 9, 2011

Worth Mentioning - Chuck Norris Goes Bug-Eyed Crazy

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

This week, Cody witnesses Chuck Norris under a Full Moon.


The legendary Chuck Norris stars as Texas Ranger J.J. McQuade, who we're introduced to as he rescues a group of fellow officers who have been captured by a gang of horse thieves. After doing some sniping from afar, McQuade walks right down into the middle of danger to kick the shirtless, overweight gang leader's teeth out and pick up a discarded Uzi. McQuade is surrounded by about ten armed men, some of the gang members are escaping on horseback, who does he shoot first? The guys escaping, of course. It's alright, because the armed men just wait their turn to get shot, not one of them attempting to return fire. They know what movie they're in, they already figured out that it's pointless to shoot at Chuck Norris.

That job done, it's time for McQuade to get chewed out by his Captain, played by character actor R.G. Armstrong. The Captain doesn't like McQuade, he's tired of his lone wolf antics and his lack of style. He wants his Rangers to be church-going family men, McQuade is violent and uncouth.

It isn't just on the job that McQuade is a messy rogue. He lives alone out in the desert, in a cluttered home that the partner he's been unhappily assigned describes as a "piss house". He spends his free time drinking beer and doing shirtless target practice in his yard. He's got a pet wolf named Wolf. He's divorced and has a teenage daughter, played by Dana Kimmell of Friday the 13th Part III, a daughter who he rarely sees, as evident from the facts that she's always "Daddy!"-shouting levels of excited to see him and that she's surprised to see that he has a beard. Her name is Sally, but the most fitting name for her would be Plot Device.

Sally is parking with her boyfriend when they witness the hijacking of a military weapons shipment. The boyfriend is killed and his car rolled down an embankment with Sally inside. She survives and McQuade starts investigating the case, whether his superiors like it or not (they don't).

The villainous Rawley Wilkes is played by David Carradine, so this is a case where the bad guy actually has a stronger, more charismatic presence than our hero, despite the lack of "Carradine Facts" on the internet. He's a mafia man who sells the military weapons to terrorists around the globe. He's got two prominent business partners, one a little person mastermind and one played by Barbara Carrera, whose character has a conflict of interest when she meets McQuade, immediately falls for him and starts cleaning his house.

When McQuade gets closer to Wilkes's operation through an interrogation of ne'er-do-well Snow (William Sanderson, Larry from Newhart) by retired Ranger pal Dakota, played by L.Q. Jones with a hairstyle that emo kids would love, Wilkes escalates the personal attacks. When his daughter was hurt, McQuade was concerned. When Dakota is killed, he has to take a seated moment of silence. When his wolf is killed, he angrily punches the ground. But he remains undeterred, so the climax of the film is kicked off by Sally, having been released from the hospital, getting kidnapped and taken to Wilkes' H.Q. in Mexico.

The most famous scene in this film involves McQuade's most prized possession, his truck, which can easily outrun supercharged vehicles. It's super-supercharged and set decorators seem to have had fun lovingly lathering it with globs of mud, all over the sides and mirrors. An unconscious McQuade ends up placed inside his truck and the vehicle is then pushed into a pit. The pit is filled in, McQuade has been buried alive. He comes to, grabs a beer and pours it over his head, which gives him the strength to drive the truck right up out of the ground.

Eventually it's time for McQuade and Wilkes to battle one-on-one in a physical confrontation that Norris and Carradine refused to have stunt doubles for.

This is a very fun movie to watch, primarily because the '80s machismo and simplicity of the story and characters is goofy and highly entertaining. It's so full of clichés that it borders on parody. There is a nice stylistic approach to the film; it's done in the style of a spaghetti western, just one with modern vehicles and automatic weapons, and even has a spaghetti western type of score, whistling included.


"Dangerous" Dan O'Dare is a famous radio shock jock who lost his job in the big time after accidentally broadcasting a sexual encounter with a female co-worker. Taking advantage of O'Dare's misfortune, the owner of a radio station in the little nowhere town of Pahoota has hired O'Dare as the station prepares to go nationwide, broadcasting on the clear channel 66.6.

O'Dare's bad luck has just begun, as it seems that the power of Superstation 66's new broadcast has caught the attention of a couple visitors from another world. Cosmo, a spaceman who wears a helmet coated in a mass of fungus, and his robot sidekick Lump invade the station building, sealing the doors so that no one can get in or out. O'Dare and his engineer are now hostages and O'Dare has nothing to do but keep the show going with a play-by-play. Unfortunately, that's exactly what the aliens want, because they're using the radio signal to target certain listeners.

Specifically, Cosmo has come to Earth to put together a collection of young women, gradually finding promising specimens in the forms of truck stop waitress Cookie, high schooler Bunny, nurse Ginger, and TV news reporter Lisa.

This film was made at the height of Full Moon's very successful deal with Paramount and at the time they were looking to branch out into music with Moonstone Records. I think, but might be mistaken, that this movie was made as a sort of kickoff to their musical endeavors and a way to showcase some of their bands.

When Cosmo focuses his alien technology in on a potential girl, he zaps her with something that alters her perception of the world around her. For example, in the truck stop diner where she works, Cookie (played by Charlie Spradling of Ski School, License to Drive, and Puppet Master 2, who was also Full Moon's spokeswoman at the time) is seen by the patrons and her boss Peanut (played by Full Moon regular Sonny Carl Davis) to just be dancing around the place by herself, but in Cookie's mind, the band playing on the radio is actually in the diner with her.

Due to this device, there are three music videos within the film. The band Fair Game performing "Blind Faith" in the diner, D.M.T. performing "Touching Myself Again" in the gymnasium with Bunny, and the bizarre group Sykotik Sinfoney - consisting of clown-types, a cow man, and a nun - taking over nurse Ginger's hospital to perform "Manic Depresso".

Once each girl has rocked out to a full song, they are then shrunk down to twelve inches tall and teleported into glass bubbles in the radio station.


This is a very odd, enjoyable movie. I love the tone and feel of Full Moon movies, particularly those from the early '90s, and this one is Full Moon through and through. The characters and actors are quirky and entertaining, with Paul Hipp doing a fine job carrying things as O'Dare. Quite appropriately, original MTV VJ Martha Quinn is in the cast as the reporter Lisa. In addition to the bands seen in the movie, the score was composed by another: Blue Öyster Cult.

The film was directed by Ted Nicolau, a crew member on the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre who went on to have a pretty cool career as a director, which has included making the Subspecies series for Full Moon. Before Bad Channels, he made another alien invasion movie called TerrorVision (that time the alien came through a TV satellite), which I'm a big fan of.

A short scene after the end credits leads this film directly into Dollman vs. Demonic Toys, aside from a purposely made continuity error.

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