During the VHS era, it seemed as if David Carradine had a new title turning up weekly at the corner video store. One that I could rent for the upcoming weekend if I found it worthy of a few bucks. As the 80’s closed out and the 90’s were upon us, nothing seemed to change this trend. If he wasn’t in a new weekly release like Evil Toons or Dune Warriors, he was steadily putting out TV fare like his return to Kung Fu for syndicated TV.
Along comes Quentin and Carradine was seemingly rescued from low budget fodder finding a renewed fame as Bill. Aside from the earlier Kwai Chang Caine, it’s easily his most famous role. It proved to be a brief interlude as it was back to the quickie releases which is the focus of this mini fest of lesser titles starring David. Perhaps he came by the low budget features naturally. Let’s not forget that his father John was one of the great specialists at low budget fare. Let’s not forget The Astro – Zombies of 1968.
David quite often gave us the silent tough guy treatment while John always gave us the Shakespearean take on his many over the top characters and mad doctors. Both father and son seemed to find a good deal of success and cult status along the way.
Once again David shows up for a low grade production from director Fred Olen Ray (Armed Response) for a tale of Mad Max like shenanigans. The civilized world has come to an end leaving Carradine to roam some rocky terrain wearing a long overcoat and a beret. Might he be a genetic superman? I’m not saying but eternal cinema nasty Sid Haig as the leader of a mutant race of crazed killers would like nothing better than to rid the world of Carradine. Since this is an exploitation film of the Olen Ray school, we can expect Haig’s gas mask wearing goons to chase down some attractive women and paw at their breasts before either killing them or taking them back to Haig. Also turning up in a thankless role is the one time horror star, Robert Quarry of Count Yorga fame. He’s some sort of scientist in Haig’s employ. Mad Max it isn’t but for those interested, we do get David walking about a desert location with a corny looking head in a basket for companionship.
I did see this one way back in the VHS days and admit to having it on DVD from an Image Entertainment release.
Future Force (1989)
It’s 1991 and crime is out of control. Private enterprise, meaning bounty hunters are now enforcing the streets. This allows our leading man, Carradine to give it a John Wayne swagger as a gun toting, fast on the draw bounty hunter of legendary notoriety.
“Live or die. It’s your choice.”
Carradine is going to find himself in hot water when he arrests a female newscaster who is digging too deep into the payoffs and corruption concerning the man who runs the bounty hunter business. A false bounty has been placed on her head for a hundred grand. This leads to heavy competition in bringing her in, Preferably dead and David is going to find himself shooting it out with other hunters to claim the bounty as his own.
William Zipp as the crooked operator wants her dead and when Carradine claims he’ll bring her in alive, he puts a bounty out on Carradine as well. It’s Zipp’s personal bodyguard and bad ass that is cause for celebration here. It’s Robert Tessier. Perhaps best known as the bald headed bear knuckle fighter who takes on Charles Bronson in Hard Times’ memorable cage match, Tessier makes for a fun/campy baddie here. In the end he’ll be 0-2 versus tough guy leading men.
Both Carradine and his leading lady, Anna Rapagna will have to evade an army of killers to expose Zipp and his evil doings.
O.k. It makes sense and isn’t all that bad but I forgot to mention that Carradine has a Peter Lorre styled Hand of Orlac here to assist in many of his confrontations with the criminal element. It serves as a sledge hammer for a right hook but can also fire laser beams at his prey. I must admit, it would be a nice prop to have here at home in the movie room.
This is another title I did see on video tape and though I don’t own a copy, I did revisit this one on youtube if you’d like to get a look.
Proving that David couldn’t resist a script, and that the Kill Bill films didn’t save him from appearing in some bad films in the years leading up to his death we get this rather boring vampire tale……
The Last Sect (2006)
Easily the worst of this trio and sadly not even campy. So let’s instead focus on Carradine injecting some fun and personal bits of the Carradine legend. Might as well because this one is about the most boring vampire tale I’ve seen in some time. Heck, there’s even more skin in the Hammer films of the early seventies. Rather surprising considering production norms today. One could easily peg this as a topless affair for many of the vampire Queen’s posse of ladies that inhabit her coven.
Carradine stars here as a modern day Abraham Van Helsing who points out that the family has been fighting this particular coven for years. He even references his own father, mentioning that he was born in 1906. Care to guess what year David’s real life father, John was born? David’s scenes are mostly relegated to a library styled office where he regales us with a bit of music played on his Kung Fu flute and briefly moves about as if teaching us a bit of Tai Chi.
For buffs of vampire films and the Dracula legend, this forgettable effort put David in the position to list both Van Helsing and the Count himself as roles he had played in his lengthy career. In 1989 he had played Dracula in a very enjoyable spaghetti western styled flick with a heavy dose of black humor and Bruce Campbell. It’s called Sundown : The Vampire in Retreat. A title worth searching for.
Of the three films I’ve taken a look at, I guess I’d recommend Future Force as the one that might offer some enjoyment for the wrong reasons. Kind of campy, kind of fun and even a story line that could work. It’s just in need of a bigger budget and better writers.
Too funny! I just posted today about another Carradine flick, Death Race 2000.
I thought of that one but wanted to focus on the straight to video era. Nice pick though.
Thanks! Yours as well.
I have to know, spoilers and all: why was Carradine carrying that goofy head around, and whose head was it? I remember Robert Tessier from a handful of biker movies from the ’60s and ’70s, and believe it or not, I’ve always wanted to see ‘Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat’, simply because it starred (or maybe co-starred) one of my faves, Deborah Foreman.
That head was basically a smart box but underdeveloped plot device. Sundown is a must see. A surprisingly first rate cast. Carradine vs. John Ireland is a hoot.