Friday, October 11, 2013

Lonely Video Reviews- "Robot Jox" and "The Oval Portrait"

So, we decided that Zero Peaks needed a video or movie review. I opted for video, since I had no way to get to the mall. Me and my fiancee trekked over to the local video rental place for a night of alternative film viewing.

First problem: what is alternative? Do I have to check out "Blue Velvet" for the umpteenth time? Should I get that strange little film from Sri Lanka containing two characters who stab at Caesar's salads and contemplate life for two and a half hours? Maybe I should check out "Ernest Saves Christmas" and be done with it...well, anyway, it was Friday night and there wasn't a thing left to watch. My fiancee and I blindly went up and down each aisle, picking up something, and then putting it back. Finally, we decided we'll grab what we could get.

The two videos we picked were the ones nobody wanted- the lonely videos that you grab out of desperation hoping they'll provide a little entertainment, and maybe a few unintentional laughs. Anything, as long as the story even remotely resembles the picture on the video box cover.

Our picks for the night were "Robot Jox" and "The Oval Portrait." The first film was directed by Stuart Gordon, who directed "The Re-Animator," "From Beyond," and "Dolls." The story took place fifty years after a nuclear holocaust, as most science fiction films do. The two warring sides use huge robots, about ten stories tall, to decide feuds over territory. The robots meet in a giant arena in Death Valley, and whoever's robot is left standing gets the match. Right away, I expected silly special effects along the lines of the "Godzilla" series of films. Guys dressed in robot suits falling on snap together models of recent cars. Boy, was I wrong.

The story concerns a robot jock, who operates the robot, and his last fight with an evil robot jock. Their first match is a draw, so they meet again to fight to the death, but they don't...I can't explain, but the film wasn't that bad. The effects were well done for such a cheap picture, and fans of NBC's "In the Heat of the Night" get to see Anne-Marie Johnson's bare butt. My fiancee didn't think a whole lot of the film because the big robots "squished people".

We weren't so lucky with our second film, "The Oval Portrait." It was made in 1973, with a Spanish film crew and an English speaking cast. Based on a page and a half Edgar Allan Poe story, this mess was obviously put on video to make a quick buck. The flashback scene in the film takes forty five minutes, and the director's idea of scary filming is to constantly zoom the camera in and out of the scene. Now I think I know what a grand mal seizure feels like. The cover of the video makes this one look great, but we giggled through the entire last third of the movie.

That's it for this edition. Look for more lonely video reviews in future issues, or you can do what we did: rented "Ghost" the next night and had a good cry.

"Robot Jox" (1989) 84 min. Grade C+
Directed by Stuart Gordon; Story by Stuart Gordon, Screenplay by Joe Haldeman; Featuring: Gary Graham, Anne-Marie Johnson, Paul Koslo, Robert Sampson, Danny Kamekona, Hilary Mason, Michael Alldredge


"The Oval Portrait" (1973) 86 min. Grade: D-
Directed by Rogelio Gonzalez, Jr.; Written by Enrique Torres based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe; Featuring: Wanda Hendrix, Barry Coe, Gisele Mackenzie, Maray Ayres, Barney O'Sullivan, Doris Buckinham, Pia Shandel