TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE RIFT aka ENDLESS DESCENT (1990)

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The Rift poster…or Endless Descent poster, if you prefer

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THE RIFT aka ENDLESS DESCENT (1990)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

1990 low budget sci-fi/horror finds the high-tech deep sea vessel “Siren I” gone missing and the ship’s designer Wick Hayes (Jack Scalia with hilariously 80s hair) is dragged out of bed…literally…to join the rescue mission aboard the “Siren II”. The military has been using both Hayes’ designed craft and the rescue mission is commanded by hard-nosed Capt. Phillips (R. Lee Ermey) and Hayes’ former flame Lt. Nina Crowley (Deborah Adair). They find the “Siren I” wreckage in a deep sea rift, as well as, some strange undersea lifeforms. The search for the ship’s black box leads them to an undersea cavern filled with horrible mutant creatures and a mysterious laboratory. How did these creatures come to exist? Who is responsible?…and will the “Siren II” crew escape the rift alive?

Cheesy rubber monster flick is flatly directed by Pieces director Juan Piquer Simón, under the pseudonym of J.P. Simon, from a very derivative script by he, Mark Klein and David Coleman. The film evokes a lot of other better movies such as Aliens, Galaxy of Terror and Leviathan to name a few and might have been a really fun rip-off if director Simón didn’t take it so seriously. With it’s cheese-ball miniature subs, horde of rubber and plastic monsters and gallons of spurting blood, this could have been a real treat if it was directed by somebody who knew the difference between a good steak and a decadent greasy hamburger, with this flick being the latter. It still entertains with it’s awful dialogue, 1960s sci-fi level sets and all the flying viscera both human and otherwise. The acting runs from paycheck level from the vets to hilariously bad from the supporting cast, with only Ray Wise seeming to really get the material, when he is allowed to ham it up a bit in the last act. There is a lot of blood splashed around once the crew arrive in the monster filled cavern and the rubber beasties do provide some chuckles as they rend and tear apart the crew in all it’s pre-CGI glory. The flick is very ambitious for what appears to be a very low budget, but needed a more Roger Corman approach to make it really work. If you know you’re a rip-off, take the ball and run with it like Galaxy of Terror or Piranha. With the ridiculous script and rubber menagerie, the groundwork was already there.

On one side the flick is flatly directed, way too derivative and takes itself far too seriously to really work, especially on such an obvious low budget scale. On the plus side, there is entertainment to be had by painfully obvious toy submarines, a delightful assortment of rubber monsters and an ocean’s worth of blood and gore splattered all over the place. The veteran cast play the subpar script far too straight, which is laughable in itself, while the supporting cast performances are hilariously all over the place. Not quite the fun it should be, but does have enough entertainment to make it an amusing watch, with some of your favorite brews. Also stars Ely Pouget as a sexy crew member and John Toles Bey who gets some of the worst of the awful dialogue.

-MonsterZero NJ

 

Rated 3 (out of 4) rubber thingys.

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: PIECES (1982)

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PIECES (1982)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Pieces is a Spanish made slasher that has a reputation, especially since it was decades before we got to see an uncut version here in the US. I wasn’t all that impressed when I first saw it at Fort Lee’s long-gone Linwood theater back in 1982 and recently revisited it to see if the added nostalgia might change my mind.

The film opens with a young boy being caught by his mother putting together a nude pin-up puzzle. She freaks out and starts to rant and rave, collecting all the boys hidden nude magazines. The boy does what any child would do and chops her up with an axe and saw. The film jumps four decades later as a killer dressed all in black and armed with a chainsaw, starts hacking up pretty girls on a campus and taking parts with him. If we don’t already get the idea, we are constantly treated to shots of the killer putting together that same bloodstained nudie puzzle and fondling mom’s bloody clothes. Police Lt. Bracken (Christopher George) is out to stop the killer and enlists a former tennis pro turned cop (Linda Day)…cause that sounds quite common…to go undercover as the campus tennis coach. Is it the hulking groundskeeper (Paul Smith)?…or is it the creepy anatomy professor (Jack Taylor)?…as the bodies pile up, the police are baffled as to who is chopping up the campus cuties and taking…Pieces!

Despite a lot of gore and bloodshed, Juan Piquer Simón’s flick is kinda dull and a tad silly. The script written by John W. Shadow and Dick Randall isn’t necessarily clever and just seems to take our murder mystery through it’s paces without really trying to make a good story out of it. The killer’s sudden reemergence after 40 years and why he wants to reconstruct his mother after all this time, is never explained, even after the last act reveal. There is little suspense in the investigation and we can see victims coming a mile away. There is some entertainment value here, though. There is the previously mentioned abundant gore and some generous nudity, as well as, some very unintentionally funny scenes, including Linda Day’s encounter with an over-zealous kung fu instructor and trained police officers not noticing a man hiding behind curtains right in from of them. There is some laughably bad dialogue and the performances are pretty wooden across the board. Only Christopher George’s scenery chewing and then wife Linda Day’s over-acting give the film any life.

As someone who loves 80s movies, I still say the film is worth a look. It has a reputation, though I’m not sure I agree with it, and it is not without some entertainment value along with the 80s nostalgia. It may not…in my opinion…be the classic some have proclaimed it, but it is part of a classic era and shouldn’t be ignored either. Not a favorite, despite the personal nostalgia, but a film that has gained a place in 80s horror infamy and I respect that, if not fully agree with it.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 chainsaws.

pieces rating

 

 

 

 

 

WARNING: TRAILER IS QUITE GRAPHIC! NSFW!

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