4 Shots From 4 Films: Black Sunday, 8 1/2, I maniaci, Caged Heat

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

Happy birthday to the wonderful and iconic actress, Barbara Steele!

4 Shots From 4 Films

Black Sunday (1960, dir by Mario Bava)

Black Sunday (1960, dir by Mario Bava)

8  1/2 (1963, dir by Federico Fellini)

8 1/2 (1963, dir by Federico Fellini)

I maniaci (1964, dir by Lucio Fulci)

I maniaci (1964, dir by Lucio Fulci)

Caged Heat (1974, dir by Jonathan Demme)

Caged Heat (1974, dir by Jonathan Demme)


Sci-Fi Review: Trancers 5: Sudden Deth (1994, dir. David Nutter)


Wow! That title card cares about this movie as much as the one for Trancers 4: Jack of Swords did. That is to say, it doesn’t care one bit. And for good reason. This movie sucks! At least it isn’t as depressing as what I’ll mention at the end of this review.

In case you don’t remember the complex and memorable plot of Trancers 4 when you go to watch Trancers 5, it begins with a recap. I’m glad this recap exists. It not only reminds me that nothing happened in Trancers 4, but it also tells me what this lady’s name really is.


That being “the bitch leader of the rebellious peasants” (Terri Ivens). You see, this is what happens when you get one of the villains of the movie to do your recap. They will resort to name calling. The only new thing it adds is that shortly after Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) killed Caliban (Clabe Hartley) they used hit and run tactics for a month before launching an attack on the castle. Cut to the attack on the castle and this guy keeps saying “Deth is coming!” Very true, as he learns from Jack’s gun.



One eye (Mark Arnold) here flees the castle, but first he takes the painting from Ghostbusters II.



Oh, yeah! That means what you think it means. This movie is that stupid. Meanwhile, it’s time for Jack and Lyra (Stacie Randall) to have another hilarious scene together. Lyra being the girl from the future who was tough and smart, but in the past is super submissive. Jack still isn’t happy about that. Aside from the sex thing.


Then a scene happens that I’m sure was the inspiration for Stephenie Meyer’s June 2, 2003 dream that inspired the Twilight series.


That’s Prospero (Ty Miller) who is a Trancer/vampire and the bitch…okay, her name is Shaleen. She is in love with him, but his hunger causes him to need to feed, and she is willing to let him. Nope. Nothing Twilighty going on here. Meanwhile, Jack is in the library trying to understand his contract to make Trancers 4 & 5 which apparently had him paid in money he could only spend in Romania.


Actually, it’s some random gibberish that talks about inter-dimensional travel or something. Oh, then this happens.



Yep! Caliban is back. Why? Probably the same reason why Jack getting struck by lightning at the end of the fourth film simply transported him behind Caliban so he could shoot him. Plot convenience. Whatever, it’s back to Jack and Prospero. All you need to know is Jack needs to go get something called the Tiamond. Where does he need to go to get it you might ask? Stupid question! Of course it’s The Castle of Unrelenting Terror. Where did you think he was going to have to go? To a 7-Eleven?


Now Shaleen’s breasts say goodbye. Jack then tells Lyra he has to go and gives us some words of wisdom: “A woman isn’t a real woman unless she makes you want to smack her in the chops. Not doing it makes you a real man.” Thanks, Jack! I mean I can’t say I really disagree with the point of the line…I think, but that’s certainly an interesting way of putting it. Now Jack and Prospero are off to The Castle Of Unrelenting Bullshit.

Jack and Prospero sit down to let Ty Miller attempt acting before Taylor Lautner shows up.


They just throw him some food and he leaves. Wait I’m sorry. I forgot that it turns out the food tastes like shit, but Prospero has some drink for Jack that will make him care about its shitty taste less. Very important lines. Then some guy shows up, tries to kill Prospero, and Lautner kills him. Who cares, we need to get through this thing as fast as possible. As Jack puts it, “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

Now we get more scenes of Ty Miller acting. These scenes are just to remind us that Prospero is a good guy, but Jack doesn’t trust him cause he is a Trancer after all. Then we cut to Lyra who wanders somewhere in the castle to start drawing. It really doesn’t matter. Next they arrive at The Castle Of Unrelenting Nonsense.


They would’ve painted the girls green, but then Roddenberry’s estate would have sued their asses off. They basically serve the same purpose as Orion Slave Girls trying to keep Jack and Prospero in a state of bliss that will cause them to rot away. Makes me wonder though. If two women had arrived at the castle, then would these have been men? Can the castle tell what your sexual preference is and tailor these people to match it? Doesn’t matter. Jack figures it out and gets hit with a giant hand.


Then he cuts off the arm it’s attached to and throws it on the ground.


On to the next room of The Castle Of Unrelenting Things From Other Movies And TV Shows.


Zombies! At least I think they’re zombies. They sound like it and move towards them like they are. However, Jack just tells them to “suck floor”. They do just that, and scene!

Meanwhile, Lyra is back at the castle padding the movie out by drawing things. Back in the actual plot of the film, Jack and Prospero come to a room where Prospero is struck down with noise.


Then the dumbest scene of the same actor playing themselves twice in the same scene happens. It’s like watching the Disney Channel show Liv and Maddie if they used no special effects at all, but kept cutting to single shots of Dove Cameron pretending to be different characters with an occasional arm reaching towards her. Yep. Jack fights with himself. Here you go.


Good Jack


Evil Jack



The whole scene is like that. Evil Jack has the Tiamond and now Please Get Me Out Of This Movie Jack has the Tiamond. The dog is back and transforms into Caliban, but in between we get the dog wearing a vest!


Needless to say Caliban takes the Tiamond away and uses it to make this happen…


before going through that vortex, as they call it.

Now the movie has all the characters make a mad dash back to the main set. Back at the castle poor Shaleen’s breasts get squished.


Why you ask? Because the movie needs to reference Back To The Future now. Isn’t it obvious? No? Let me help you out. She is Lorraine Baines.


He is Biff Tannen.


That’s Marty/George McFly AKA Jeff Moldovan who was the stunt coordinator on the film.


The fight.


The fist.


The knockout.

Not perfect, but I have absolutely no doubt that’s what they were referencing with that scene.

Anyways, Prospero shows up and lifts the styrofoam off of her body. However, Caliban shows up and starts making impressive use of The Force to do more than just open up doors this time.



Caliban has a showdown with Jack and Prospero. After knocking Jack down, Prospero stabs him, then Jack shoots the Tiamond saying, “Back to L.A. you son of a bitch!” They turn yellow and disappear. I love what follows.


There’s this shot of Shaleen looking around in amazement for a full 10 seconds. It’s hilarious. Now we cut back to the future. Oh, and past Lyra is pregnant. Doesn’t matter.


Initially they think they have lost Jack and talk about him in the past tense. The problem is that before they start talking about him, Jack and Prospero come through the door. It means Lyra and the guy banging Jack’s ex-wife didn’t hear the door open up right behind them. Then Jack is reunited with Lyra and iris shot!


So, you want to watch something depressing? Watch Trancers 3, 4, and 5. Want to crank it up a notch? Watch the behind the scenes featurette on the Trancers 5 DVD where it’s obvious that Thomerson was having none of this movie. Not sad enough? I can make it worse. Actor Clabe Hartley now owns a restaurant in Venice Beach, California. This year a homeless person came into his restaurant, harassed some customers, then BIT PART OF HARTLEY’S FINGER OFF! And they couldn’t reattach it. Instead of our usual look on Thomerson’s face, I have embedded the news story below.

Insomnia File #10: Eye For An Eye (dir by John Schlesinger)

What’s an Insomnia File? You know how some times you just can’t get any sleep and, at about three in the morning, you’ll find yourself watching whatever you can find on cable? This feature is all about those insomnia-inspired discoveries!


If you were awake at midnight and trying to get some sleep, you could have turned over to ThillerMax and watched the 1996 revenge thriller, Eye For An Eye.  However, the film wouldn’t have helped you get to sleep.  Eye For An Eye is not a film that you sleep through.

Eye For An Eye opens with Karen McCann (Sally Field) comforting her youngest daughter, Megan (Alexandra Kyle).  Megan is terrified of a moth that has flown into her bedroom.  “Kill it, mommy, kill it!” Megan shouts.  Instead, Karen gently takes the moth in her hand and allows it to escape through an open window.  In those first few minutes, the film tells us everything that it feels to be important about Karen.  She’s a mother.  She lives in a big house in the suburbs.  And she wouldn’t kill a moth…

But — the name of the title is Eye For An Eye and that would seem to promise killing so we know that something terrible is going to happen to change Karen’s outlook on life.

And it does!  The next afternoon, Karen is stuck in traffic and calls her oldest daughter, 17 year-old Julie (Olivia Burnette).  In an extremely harrowing sequence that is pure nightmare fuel, Karen helplessly listens as Julie is raped and murdered.

A white trash deliveryman named Robert Doob is arrested for the crime and we immediately know that he’s guilty.  First off, his name is Robert Doob and that’s a serial killer name if I’ve ever heard one.  Secondly, he smirks at Karen and her husband (Ed Harris) and, in a particularly cruel moment that was especially upsetting to this former stutterer, he imitates Julie’s stammer.  Third, Robert has tattoos and Satanic facial hair.  And finally, Robert Doob is played by Keifer Sutherland.  And usually, I find Keifer and his growl of a voice to be kinda sexy in a dangerous sorta way but in Eye For An Eye, he was so icky that he just made my skin crawl.

Robert Doob is obviously guilty but an evil liberal judge throws the case out on a technicality.  After Karen gets over the shock of seeing justice perverted, she decides to take the law into her own hands.  After meeting a professional vigilante (Philip Baker Hall, looking slightly amused no matter how grim he tries to act), Karen decides to learn how to use a gun so that she can get her revenge…

There’s not a single subtle moment in Eye For An Eye but that’s actually the main reason I enjoyed the film.  Everything — from the performances to the script to the direction to the music to … well, everything — is completely and totally over-the-top.  The symbolism is so heavy-handed and the film is so heavily stacked in favor of vigilante justice that the whole thing becomes oddly fascinating.  It may not be a great film but it’s always watchable.  It may not be subtle and it may even be borderline irresponsible in its portrayal of the American justice system but who cares?  By the end of the movie, I was over whatever real world concerns I may have had about the film’s premise and I was totally  cheering Karen on in her quest for vengeance.  I imagine I’m not alone in that.  Eye For An Eye is the type of film that elitist movie snobs tend to dismiss, even while secretly knowing that it’s actually kinda awesome.

Previous Insomnia Files:

  1. Story of Mankind
  2. Stag
  3. Love Is A Gun
  4. Nina Takes A Lover
  5. Black Ice
  6. Frogs For Snakes
  7. Fair Game
  8. From The Hip
  9. Born Killers