Sledgehammer

Year: 1983   Company: I & I Productions   Runtime: 84′
Director: David A. Prior   Writers: David A. Prior   Videography: Salim Kimaz
Music: Philip G. Slate   Cast: Ted Prior, Linda McGill, John Eastman, Janine Scheer, Tim Aguilar, Sandy Brooke
Disc company: Intervision Pictures Corp.   Video: 480i / 4:3    Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Subtitles: None   Disc: DVD9   Release Date: 05/10/2011   Reviewed from a screener provided by Intervision Pictures Corp.  Available for preorder at Amazon.com.

Well that was unexpected.  Intervision didn’t do much to impress this reviewer with their initial DVD releases, a double helping of Jess Franco snoozers whose covers offered more in the way of genuine entertainment value than the films themselves, but this is more like it.  Sledgehammer isn’t so much an artifact from another time as from another universe – an ugly and unintelligible mess of cheap thrills and cheaper drama from the early days of the straight to video shot-on-tape explosion.  I dig it.

Writer / director David A. Prior, who would go on to direct a good deal more (like 1987′s inimitable Aerobicide), modeled Sledgehammer after the popular and profitable Friday the 13th franchise, and it shows.  The meager story concerns a group of purported young people who head out for a weekend of drunken fun in a rural location with an ominous history and are subsequently dispatched by a supernatural masked maniac armed with the eponymous sledgehammer.  In its basics Sledgehammer is strictly a by-the-books slasher, but its oddball trappings keep it from being so easily quantifiable as that.

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BMX Bandits

Year: 1983   Company: Nielsen Premiere   Runtime: 91′
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith   Writers: Patrick Edgeworth, Russell Hagg
Cinematography: John Seale   Music: Colin Stead, Frank Strangle   Cast: David Argue, John Ley,
Nicole Kidman, Angelo D’Angelo, James Lugton, Bryan Marshall, Brian Sloman, Peter Browne,
Bill Brady, Linda Newton, Bob Hicks, Guy Norris, Chris Hession, Norman Hodges, Tracy Wallace
Disc company: Severin Films   Video: 480p 2.34:1    Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Subtitles: None   Disc: DVD9 (Region 1)   Release Date: 03/15/2011   Product link: Amazon.com
BMX Bandits is reviewed here from a screener provided by Severin Films.

A trio of athletic youngsters with BMX bikes on the brain become embroiled in a payroll heist when they stumble upon a shipment of contraband walkie-talkies.  With a pair of bumbling crooks on their tail and the cops slow to respond, can the gang of BMX Bandits rally and put an end to the criminal goings-ons before it’s too late?

Forget the cast, forget the bikes, and forget the gorgeous north-Sydney locations.  There are really only two things one needs to know to appreciate BMX Bandits. The first is that it was directed by the legendary Brian Trenchard-Smith, the Ozsploitation mastermind behind Turkey Shoot, Stunt Rock and, my personal favorite, The Man From Hong Kong (in which Jimmy Wang Yu heads to Australia to kick international ass).  Trenchard-Smith’s career may have taken a couple (okay, a lot) of unfortunate turns in the past few decades, which have seen him credited for two Leprechaun sequels and the dreadful Sci-Fi original Aztec Rex, among others, but BMX Bandits is the director at his early-’80s prime.

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Çöl – Turkish Jaws

rating:
company: Anit Film
and Kunt FIlm
year: 1983
runtime: 75′
director: Çetin Inanç
cast: Cüneyt Arkin, Emel Tümer,
Salih Kirmizi, Hüseyin Peyda,
Nejat Gürçen, Baykal Kent
writers: Çetin Inanç
and Cüneyt Arkin
cinematography: Sedat Ülker
music: Various . . . stolen
Not available on home video in the USA

You would be forgiven after a viewing of Çöl, the Turkish Jaws, for failing to grasp the tenuous connection between it and the American blockbuster it is purported to imitate.  The actual title of the film, which translates as ‘wasteland’ or ‘desert’, offers nothing in the way of commonality and the narrative never touches on either the existential horror or sea-faring adventure of Spielberg’s classic.  To be fair much of Çöl does take place on a boat, albeit of the very big and permanently docked variety, and it does recycle a few of the cues from the Jaws franchise.  There is even a shark, though its prominence within and importance to the narrative is far from what many will suspect.

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