Terminator Redux: Eve of Destruction (1991, directed by Duncan Gibbins)

When Eve VIII (Renée Soutendijk), a robot that has been designed so that she can pass for a human, is taken on a test run though the city, things go terribly wrong when she gets caught up in a bank robbery.  When one of the robbers shoots her, it scrambles her circuits and causes her to switch into combat mode.  For some reason, someone thought it would be a good idea to install the equivalent of a nuclear bomb inside the robot so now, Eve VIII is wandering around the city, killing anyone who shes views as being a danger, and threatening to send both herself and everyone up in a nuclear fireball.

Realizing that Eve VIII’s test run has become a national emergency, the military calls in the best operative they’ve got and he turns out to be … Gregory Hines!?  The legendary Broadway song-and-dance man plays Colonel John McQuade, a special operative who has seen action in all of the world’s hot spots.  McQuade works with Eve VIII’s creator, Dr. Eve Simmons (also played by Renée Soutendijk) to try to track down the robot before it’s too late.  In a move that makes as much sense as installing the equivalent of a nuclear bomb inside of her, Eve VIII has also been programmed to have the same traumatic memories as her creator.  When Eve VIII destroys a cheap motel that Eve Simmons used to wonder about, McQuade announces that the key to trapping the robot is for Dr. Simmons to reval all of her “teenage sexual fantasies!”

The idea of a robot having and acting upon all of the repressed memories and desires of its creator is a good one but Eve of Destruction doesn’t do much with it.  Once McQuade and Dr. Simmons head off in pursuit of Eve VIII, it becomes just another low-budget Terminator rip-off.  Gregory Hines deals with being miscast by yelling all of his lines.  Renée Soutendijk does better as both Eve VIII and Dr. Simmons and even manages to generate some sympathy for the killer robot.  Interestingly, Soutendijk is best known for her work with Paul Verhoeven, whose RoboCop was an obviously influence on Eve of Destruction.

Eve of Destruction is a forgettable killer robot film from an era that was full of them.  Most disappointing of all is that Barry McGuire is nowhere to be heard.  If you do see the film, keep an eye out for the great Kevin McCarthy, playing yet another befuddled victim and, for some reason, going uncredited.

Music Video of the Day: Robert De Niro’s Waiting… by Bananarama (1984, directed by Duncan Gibbins)

Robert De Niro might not seem as if he would be the most likely of subjects for a teenage love song but this song is hardly a traditional love song.  The song was originally conceived as being sung from the point of view of a girl who deals with the trauma of being raped by escaping into a pretend world where Robert De Niro is her boyfriend.  By the time the song was actually recorded, the rape angle had been dropped but this it’s still darker than your normal teen crush song.

Originally, the subject of the song was going to be Al Pacino, which might have made more sense.  (Remember that while Robert De Niro was shooting pimps in Taxi Driver, posters of Al Pacino as Serpico were decorating dorm rooms.)  However, it was decided that, musically, Robert De Niro sounded better than Al Pacino.

This video features the members of Bananarama being followed by two “gangsters” who could have stepped out of a De Niro film.  It was directed by Duncan Gibbins, a talented director who tragically died in 1993.  I wrote more about Gibbins and his career when I reviewed his video for Smuggler’s Blues.


Music Video of the Day: Smuggler’s Blues by Glenn Frey (1985, directed by Duncan Gibbins)

Contrary to popular belief, Smuggler’s Blues was not inspired by Miami Vice.  Instead, the exact opposite was true.

As Glenn Frey explained in the book, Behind The Hits, he based the song on some of the dealers and smugglers that he met while both a member of the Eagles and during his solo career.  “You don’t spend 15 years in rock and roll without coming in contact with entrepreneurs.  I’ve wanted to write a song about drug smuggling for a long time, but I’m glad I waited for this one. It says everything I wanted to say on the subject. I’m proud of the lyrics – it’s good journalism.”

The song appeared on Frey’s second solo album and was heard by Miami Vice‘s executive producer, Michael Mann.  Mann requested that one of the show’s writers, Miguel Pinero, adapt the song into an episode.  That episode, which was named after the song, premiered on February 1st, 1985.  The song was played throughout the episode and some of the lyrics were even included in the dialogue.  Glenn Frey himself appeared as a pilot.  As a result, the episode not only helped to make Smuggler’s Blues a hit but it also launched Frey’s acting career as well.

The video, which was cinematic at a time when many bands were still releasing simple performance clips, was directed by Duncan Gibbins.  Gibbins went on to direct a handful of thrillers before his tragic death in 1993.  Gibbins was staying in Southern California when a wildfire engulfed the house that he was renting.  Gibbins narrowly managed to escape from the house but then saw that a cat had been trapped inside.  He went back in and, while he did rescue the cat, he suffered severe burns at a result.  Gibbins jumped into house’s swimming pool. not realizing that the burns would allow the chlorine to enter his bloodstream.  Gibbins died later that day at Sherman Oaks Hospital, still asking if the cat had survived.  (Other than a few minor burns, the cat was unharmed.)

Gibbins work on Smuggler’s Blues is impressive and still influential.  The video was honored as “Best Concept Video” at the 1985 MTV Music Video Awards.

Duncan Gibbins, the director of Smuggler’s Blues