Friday, November 24, 2017

Captain America (1990)

Holy shit...  This is the 100th post for B-Movie Enema.  Yowzers.  How am I going to celebrate?

Fuckin' America.

I've already looked at one Captain America movie way back in May 2016.  So why am I double dipping?  Because Cap is my A-1 Super Guy.  He fights for freedom and awesomeness.

And also... America.  Fuckin' pure America.  Pure like Budweiser changing their name to America.

That first go around was the 1979 made-for-tv version of Captain America starring Reb Brown.  Just 11 years later, another attempt was made by 21st Century Film Corporation and producer Menaham Golan who previously was one of the Cannon Films heads.  Originally, the movie was planned to coincide with Cap's 50th anniversary in 1990, but ultimately never found its way to North American theaters, having to instead be released direct to VHS in the summer of 1992.

The movie was directed by schlock-master Albert Pyun who had a pretty good relationship with Golan from the days of Cannon having made Cyborg and Alien from L.A. for Cannon.  Really, for all intents and purposes, the 1990 Captain America movie was a Cannon film.  It even featured skilled character actors like Ned Beatty, Darren McGavin, and Ronny Cox.  It even featured famed Italian actress Francesca Neri in an early role.

What's truly interesting, though, is that the film stars Matt Salinger, son of legendary author J.D. Salinger.

That's all I have on Salinger.  Really.  He's the son of J.D. Salinger.  He's done some successful stage productions and is pretty active in the producing game, but I kinda feel like saying you're the son of J.D. Salinger trumps pretty much any other fact you could find about him.

The plot is one we've all heard before: Captain America becomes the USA's greatest hero during World War II as he fights the villainous Red Skull.  He ultimately was lost stopping the Skull from blowing up Washington, D.C. and was found in the ice decades later.  He now has to stop the Red Skull again and save the President.

I have no problem saying that this movie holds a kind of special place in my heart.  I don't hate it like so many do.  It's silly, sure, but it was 1990.  Comic book movies were still very much in their infancy.  I even like the movie enough to own it on blu-ray.  That's not how I'm gonna watch it for this article, though.  Oh no.  I'm gonna watch a shitty VHS transfer by way of YouTube because...

Fuckin' America.

The movie opens in Italy 1936.  Tadzio de Santis is taken by the government and he is forced to watch his family get gunned down.  He's to be subjugated to experiments to be made into a super soldier for the fascists.  The experiment will make de Santis twice as strong and twice as smart, but Dr. Maria Vaselli objects to the use of a young boy.  She barely escapes with her life and flees to America in the hopes her research could be used for good.

Years later, the President is briefed on Project: Rebirth, which will use Vaselli's research to make a whole gang of American super soldiers to fight the Nazis and their own super soldier, Red Skull (de Santis).  They say they found their first volunteer in California - Steve Rogers.  He says goodbye to his mom, friends, and girlfriend, Bernie, and he's off to become Captain America!

Okay, yeah...  There's all sorts of things wrong here at the beginning.  Steve Rogers was not from California.  He was from the Lower East Side of Manhattan (though the current Marvel Cinematic Universe has him being from Brooklyn).  His love was Peggy, not Bernie.  Red Skull was German, like SUPER German, not Italian.  Also, it wasn't Dr. Vaselli, but Dr. Erskine who came to America with his super soldier serum (and, to be more specific, the actual name of the doctor was Josef Reinstein in the Golden Age Cap series).

The next bit was true to the comics.  There were going to be more Captain Americas running around, but upon the successful creation of the first, a Hitler spy killed the scientist (Erskine/Vaselli).  But this is fuckin' America and we have to focus only on falsehoods, conspiracy theories, and that goddamn liberal media spreading their FAKE NEWS!  So I have no fucking time for your fucking truths.  Get me a goddamn beer, woman, and get back into the kitchen while I keep watchin' my fuckin' America movie!

That's a look of a guy who knows he kinda looks like a dufus.
We diverge a bit from the actual origin again when Cap is sent to stop a missile launch from the Germans that will destroy Washington, D.C..  This is his first mission.  Cap's dropped behind enemy lines.  He makes his way into the Nazi fortress and comes face to face with the Red Skull who proves to be equal to Cap in strength and speed.

Pretty much Captain America is weak as shit in this scene.  It's probably because he has only been Captain America for like 5 days and the Red Skull has been a bad ass for years.  He's quickly overcome and knocked out and strapped to the missile.

But let's get this straight...  I know we should be scared and hurt by Captain America getting defeated by a Nazi, but I'm told there are good people involved in that fight and there were bad guys on both sides.  Very bad people.

Cap is pretty quick-witted enough to grab Skull's hand in an attempt to bring the Skull with him.  Again, because the Skull is kind of a bad ass in this very first meeting, he slices his fucking hand off to be freed from being shot off like a Roman Candle...

Jesus Christ, this is a scary Red Skull.
(Get it?  Because he's Italian in this movie?)

Captain America is nearing the White House, the missile's target.  A kid snaps pictures of Cap on the rocket and when Cap sees the kid on the ground, he kicks the wings to send the missile off course all the way to Alaska.

Holy shit.  Okay, first, the kid sees Captain America strapped to a speeding rocket.  Unlikely.  Cap, strapped to the topside of the rocket, and is able to see below him and on the ground ahead of the nose of the rocket.  REALLY unlikely.  He is able to send the rocket off course about 5,000 miles with just a couple sharp kicks to the wings of the rocket.  Completely impossible.

But then again...  All this scientific crap is probably just a scheme cooked up by the Chinese to steal our jobs and murder your fuckin' puppies!

Flash forward like 50 years, and that little kid becomes Ronny Cox who both hassles Robocop AND becomes President of the United States a few years later - by what is said is the slimmest margins in history.  So...  I guess he's not really a trailblazer like JFK or FDR, huh?  He just kinda lucked into President.  A year into his presidency, President Kimball is pushing pro-environmental agenda which is really pissing off a lot of industrialists and army guys.  So they all decide to go to Red Skull who decides that they'll use a brain implant to control the president instead of killing him.

Okay, sure, that seems like something the Red Skull would do, but fuck...  That's a terrible plan.  Just assassinate the guy.  Wait!  I mean...  FAKE NEWS!  CHINESE CONSPIRACY!  SAD!

Captain America is found in Alaska and thaws out enough to break free from the ice.  He immediately thinks he is surrounded by Nazis.  Before he hightails it out of the expedition's tent where he thawed, a guy snaps a couple pics and the President realizes the guy he saw as a little boy is alive.  His journalist buddy, Ned Beatty, heads up north to investigate.

I'm sure this will lead to a big cat and mou... Never mind.  Ned Beatty like almost instantly finds Cap and helps him escape from a hot assassin of the Red Skull's who works for the Skull's hot daughter.  Anyway, Beatty tries to tell Cap that it truly is the future and he's not working with the Nazis.  However, a couple really cool things are seen here.  The first, the radio actually says it is October 1993, so this movie takes place in the future from when it was made.  I think it was just meant to be a nice even 50 years since he was frozen, plus, that lines up nicely for President Kimball's first term in office.  The other thing is that Cap is looking around Ned Beatty's truck that has stuff made from Japan and Germany, which really confuses him and kinda causes his head to spin.

Cool your jets, Tom Atkins.  That's just my boyfriend from 50
years ago.
Cap makes his way back to his home town where he hopes to find Bernie.  He does, but she's like super old now and would be a total gross lay.  But she does have a super hot, bangable daughter, Sharon.  As they catch up, Bernie tells Cap, "Everyone kept saying that 'Missing in Action' just another way of saying 'blown to smithereens' but I never believed them."  Um...  That's a nice thing to say.

Bernie also says that she waited for 16 years for Steve to come back and she had to finally get married and have a kid before it was too late.  I guess that is kind of a nice scene of them reconnecting and all those years passing her by.  That's one thing that is almost as necessary as having an "A" on Cap's forehead - he's a man who's pretty much lost everything and he didn't age a single day.  Everyone he knew and loved died while he was just sleeping.  There have been some very good issues of the comics that has him revisiting old friends on their deathbeds.

Ned Beatty finds out who Captain America's old girlfriend was and tracks her down.  Unfortunately, he's been bugged and followed by Red Skull's daughter.  He and Bernie's husband are shot and she is tortured.  At Sharon's apartment, Steve watches some tapes on history and realizes that Red Skull has been behind all the bad things that have happened since World War II.  Sharon and Steve go to her house where Bernie is revealed to have been killed.

Just like Bernie Sanders' Presidential run was killed by Crooked Hillary and the DNC!  Very bad for America! (Hot damn, I knew I could get at least one more in before the end of this post!)

While Sharon and Steve visit her father in the hospital, they see a special report saying that President Kimball has been kidnapped.  Knowing that the people who killed Bernie are the same who took Kimball, Cap finds the old lab where he was created and finds Vaselli's diary to learn the true identity of the Red Skull.  The Skull's men follow and attack, but Steve kicks all their asses.  They don't get the Skull's name, but they find out where he was from.  They jump into a plane and head off to Italy to find the Red Skull's old stomping grounds.

Kimball is getting prepped for his implant surgery, but uses some acid he snatched from a table to get out of his cell he's being kept in.  Steve and Sharon find the Skull's old home and they are given some things that belonged to the de Santis family.  They are given an old reel to reel recorder that has the recording from when he was taken and his family killed.  They are eventually found by the Skull's daughter's goons and get chased, but they escape.  They do eventually find out where the Skull's hideout is and make their way there, but not without being followed by the goons.  Steve and Sharon split up.  Sharon gets captured and Cap continues toward the hideout.

Kimball is told by the Skull that he'll be collected in 20 minutes to get his implant.  Kimball tries to use more acid to melt the bars, but he doesn't have any left.  Cap suits up to and swears he won't blow it this time - you know because earlier he was totally ineffective against the Red Skull.  Kimball is able to break free from his cell and he does something really weird...  He sees Sharon in her cell and calls out to her by name.  He's never been on screen with her at the same time.  How does he know who she is?

Anyway, the Skull catches up to the escaped Kimball who tosses himself off the side of the castle because without him, his plan doesn't work.  Just so happens that Cap was climbing up that same wall and catches him.  Cap and the Prez fight their way into the hideout to free Sharon.  Cap and Skull have another face off while Sharon flees from Skull's daughter.  Even the President is fighting a thug.  At first, Cap is, again, pretty outmatched by the Skull.  Eventually, though, he does start to put the Skull on the ropes.  He eventually gets the upper hand when, before he sets off a nuclear weapon, Cap plays the recording of his family being killed.  Remembering his parents being slaughtered gives Cap the opening to toss his shield into the Skull and make him fly off the side of the cliff to his presumed death.  President Kimball is able to get the world to sign an environmental treaty to... do... stuff?

Ladies, there's only one way to resolve all this aggression...
Doesn't matter, 25 years later, Donald Trump will take a shit on that treaty and then wipe his ass with Cap's shield.

Er...  I mean...  AMERICA MOTHERFUCKERS!

Here's the thing...  All the movies I watched this month weren't very good.  Okay, take out the Hulk movie because that was a television movie and a follow up to an entire series.  The other three weren't anywhere near what we see today with big budgets and a lot of care in the history and look of the heroes.  However, they do have two things going for them.  The first is, at least for The Punisher and Captain America, they don't really waste a great deal of time on the origins of the characters.  That's a huge critique people give of superhero movies of the present day.  They spend a great deal of time on the origin and leave very little room for a decent villain or interesting plot.  Fantastic Four needed that origin story told, but the others just dove right in or got past the origins as quickly as they could.

The second thing I liked is that these movies are incredibly zippy.  They pretty much cut out any fat to the plots.  Again, this was during the infancy of the superhero genre of movies.  For the most part, producers felt these movies were mostly made for children or people of lower intelligence.  So the pacing of these movies were much more like Saturday morning fare and less like actual action movies.  Well, that and this was during the time in which action movies were really dumb.

God knows I shouldn't like this movie, and I have serious issues with the changes to the story and characters that were made, but dammit...  I can't really help but smile when I watch this movie.  Salinger looked like Cap for sure.  I could write an entire other article about how this movie really undercut Captain America by doing the following things:

1. Having the general looking over Project: Rebirth saying that Cap won't be Superman.  Why compare him to Superman anyway?  Just say he's going to be superhuman.
2. Having Cap be completely ineffective against the Skull for one and a half fights.  It's almost like saying anger and hatred makes you stronger.  Okay, maybe make him a challenge, but Cap seems like a weakling next to the Skull.
3. Actually have Captain America doubt himself multiple times throughout the movie.  Steve Rogers is all elbow grease and confidence.  He never doubts himself.  He honestly believes every time he is in a fight, he's going to win.

Despite all that, this is a fairly fun and mindless 90 minutes of fun.  While the recent Captain America movies are heads, shoulders, hips, and feet above this one, if this is on the TV, I'll watch it and enjoy it.  I might might crack jokes during it but at least I'm having fun.

Speaking of fun, it's been a blast doing this blog.  I've hit the big 100 and it's time to take a little break.  What's coming next?  Well, starting on December 6, 2017, I will drop the sorta facade-like character I use to write these articles and will be joining Jason Oliver as hosts of Film Seizure - a new bi-weekly podcast where we'll be talking about everything from horror series to sci-fi films to action flicks to director spotlights!  You can find it by clicking the logo below.


But what about B-Movie Enema???

She's going to go under the knife to get a bit of a face lift.  You may have already noticed the fancy new logo with the stars and the word Enema in big bright letters flying toward you.  However, I wanted to make sure that Film Seizure was getting the proper attention in respects to getting that up and going, so that's part of why I'm going on a tad bit of a hiatus.

But this isn't curtains quite yet.

In fact, I already know when B-Movie Enema will return in 2018.  And what I have planned hopefully continues to be as therapeutic for me to have an outlet as it is fun for the few of you who read each week.  That being said, I will be back on March 16, 2018 with the 101st B-Movie Enema feature, Girl House

Until then, just as Cap did to President Kimball, I'm signing off with a giant thumbs up and a big thank you to the readers.  See you in March and check out Film Seizure starting in December!

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