80s

Robot Jox

To kick-off the new year Sam brings the 1990 Stuart Gordon mech fighting film Robot Jox! Welcome to the distant future, post World War III, where war has been outlawed, somehow. Instead, the world has decided the more sensible way to settle international disputes is via single combat in mechs. While undoubtedly cool as heck, Sam has several issues with the concept on a practical level. The capitalist Market is locked in a perpetual battle with the communist Confederation. The latest battle is for control of Alaska, but when an errant rocket fist leads to the accidental death of hundreds of spectators (why are there spectators?!), Achilles, the hero of the Market, hangs up his robot gloves and retires. This makes room for the genetically engineered super soldiers to step-up to the fight, but there’s only one problem: Achilles has the hots for one of them by the name of Athena. This leads to the most pressing question about this movie: Is it clever satire, or just another sexist 80’s flick? We may not have an answer to that, but we do know this movie has kick-butt robot fights, so that’s worth something for sure. So join us for some good ol’ fashioned, Cold War 80’s action!

The Monster Squad

It’s time once again for Spook Retorts! Sam kicks off this year with the 1987 ensemble monster movie The Monster Squad. We start in Transylvania where Abraham Van Helsing is attempting to banish Dracula and his menagerie of armadillos using a glowing amulet and a teen girl. Van Helsing fails spectacularly, for reasons that are entirely opaque, and Dracula decides to lay low for one hundred years. That’s just enough time for a group of snarky and unfortunately homophobic kids to form a monster club in small town America. These kids are somehow very selective for membership in their monster club, even though it seems to require only the barest minimum of basic monster knowledge to join. One of the kids comes into possession of Van Helsing’s journal which immediately makes them a target for Dracula, who is assembling a coterie of monster, which is, bafflingly, not the titular monster squad. After encountering the mummy, hearing about a werewolf, and befriending Frankenstein’s monster, the children decide to form the Monster Squad to take on Dracula using the instructions in Van Helsing’s journal and, worryingly, a fair bit of sexual blackmail. So join Sam and Danielle the premiere of this year’s Spook Retorts that will having you rooting for the monsters to defeat the real evil: Human children.

The Ice Pirates

In the first of our Great Switcheroo episodes, Danielle shares her pick of the 1984 movie The Ice Pirates. What do you get when you can’t decide between being a goofy lampoon of Star Wars or just a knock-off? It might very well be The Ice Pirates. The galaxy has inexplicably run out of water, the remaining bits of ice from comets are controlled by the Templars, a group of chain-mail wearing space knights. The annoyingly rouge pirate captain Jason (really) finds himself captured by the Templars and at risk of castration at the hands of the Castratomatic machine. Luckily, he’s saved by the princess Karina who wants his help to find her lost, and possibly dead, father the King of something, who knows what. At this point, some of Jason’s crew also escape with him, but run into a robot pimp with a TV showing scantily ladies in its stomach. The robopimp doesn’t really matter to the movie, but Sam thought it important to mention that it’s basically a horny Teletubby. Anyway, the crew and the princess escape to the pirate moon, there’s a space herpie on the ship but it doesn’t matter. Really, the thing that matters most is that the group eventually makes their way to possibly the best named character of all time; a lover of baby donkeys and teenage ducks, the one, the only, the indomitable Lanky Nibs. There’s a bunch of stuff after that about finding Karina’s father and the Seventh World, but after Lanky Nibs it’s all just a blur until a finale that screws with time in ways that make our heads hurt. Also, did we mention Anjelica Huston has a minor roll in this movie, as well as Ron Perlman in his second ever film credit? So come enjoy Danielle grapple with explaining why she didn’t love a movie that seems to have it all, and tune in next week for Sam’s turn on The Great Switcheroo!

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

This week Sam introduces Danielle to the classic 1985 post-apocalyptic film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The Mad Max franchise is well known for telling the gritty story of the collapse of society, a nuclear apocalypse, and one man who attempts to survive alone in the new world. Beyond Thunderdome takes that serious story and makes it delightfully goofy in every way. After having his camel-drawn cart stolen, the titular Max ends up in Bartertown, the most advanced city in the Australian wasteland. He quickly becomes embroiled in a political assassination plot that is wildly over-complicated as the queen of Bartertown, played fabulously by Tina Turner, wishes to have the bodyguard of the mechanical genius behind the city’s success killed. None of that is really important as it’s just an excuse to get Max into Thunderdome with the formidable Blaster for a fight scene that is as delightful as it is bizarre. After some contrived shenanigans and the application of laws that are notable mostly in their ability to be chanted by a mob, Max is exiled to the wasteland but is rescued both by a magic monkey and a tribe of teenagers and children that have formed a cult religion about a savior pilot after being abandoned in an oasis. The crazy only escalates from there as Max and the kids are forced into a conflict with Tina Turner and the Bartertown Bunch mostly as an excuse to have a climactic train/car chase through the desert. That all sounds ridiculous, and it is, but the costumes are amazing, the is action way over the top, and the plot is nonsensical, so really, what more could we possibly ask for?

Highlander

Sam shares his love for the film Highlander with Danielle, a cult classic from 1986. Have you ever wondered what it would be like if a secret race of immortals walked among us? Highlander posits that they spend most of their time popping out of thin air to surprise each other with sword fights as they battle to the death for the fabled prize. Why is this prize worth fighting for? Why do they have to fight to the death? Why are some people born immortal? None of these questions will be answered, but there is a punk-rock hedonist monster called the Kurgan, so we don’t really mind. Join us for Highlander where the rules, and the accents, make no sense, but we do know there can be only one!

Featuring a promo for the science entertainment podcast Petri Dish; find them on Twitter @dishpodcast and at https://anchor.fm/petridish