A guide to obscure films on video
THE HEROIC TRIO
The Heroic Trio (1993) is an entertaining martial arts fantasy/adventure film from Hong Kong with three gorgeous women who can kick your ass! This film is loaded with special effects and enough martial arts action and stunts to rival Jackie Chan (I bet these women could take him).
If your turn-offs include by babies skewered through the head with nine-inch nails, youths being forced to eat other children's body parts, being blown to bits or urinating on themselves, or adults eating their own fingers, then you'd better just avoid this film (you spineless worm). However, if your interest is just being piqued, read on . . .
When The Heroic Trio opens, we learn that 18 babies have disappeared during the last three months. Tung (Anita Mui, "the Madonna of Asia"), the dutiful wife of a martial-arts-expert cop, leads a double life. Obedient, attentive and submissive at home, Tung fights crime as Wonder Woman (no relation to the Lynda Carter/DC Comics variety) while her husband is at work.
Invisible Girl (Michelle Yeoh), a.k.a. Ching or "Number 3," is stealing newborns from the hospital and delivering them to her master as candidates to become emperor of China. During one baby-knap, Wonder Woman arrives on the scene, running on telephone wires to foil Invisible Girl's plans. Using razor-sharp hand weapons, she is successful in saving one baby, but the other (the police commander's son) ends up at the master's underground lair.
In another catastrophic police battle, three heavily armed assassins hold eight hostages in a stand-off. To show they mean business, they use a machine gun to reduce a young woman to hamburger-meat. Thief Catcher (former "Miss Hong Kong" Maggie Cheung) a.k.a. "Number 7," a professional vigilante assassin-for-hire, drives up on a motorcycle. Decked out in a black leather jacket, hot pants, thigh-high nylons, garters and high-heels, Thief Catcher offers to kill the assassins, "on the house." After defeating them with a sawed-off shotgun, dynamite and smooth martial arts moves (while whistling "London Bridge is Falling Down"), she offers to retrieve the police commander's son for $500,000 -- cash up front -- with a $350,000 refund if he's returned dead.
Invisible Girl hires her to steal another baby from the hospital and engages a martial arts battle with Wonder Woman. Just as Wonder Woman is getting the best of her, Invisible Girl shows up to complicate the battle. Wonder Woman saves the baby, but it dies anyway after a nail's driven through its head.
Ching, Invisible Girl's daytime alias, is an assistant to the scientist who is trying to perfect the invisible robe so it will also be effective in daylight. Ching's master orders her to steal the invisible robe and kill the scientist.
Meanwhile, Thief Catcher makes her way to the master's underground lair (where real babies are kept in cobweb-laden bird cages) to retrieve the police commander's baby. After a failed attempt and suffering a poisoned dart wound, she retreats and returns the commander's money.
Wonder Woman, who comes to Thief Catcher's rescue after she's shot with the poison dart, tries to reason with her that only by combining their powers can they stop the evil master. Thief Catcher says she will not attempt to take on the master without the aide of Invisible Girl.
The two persuade Invisible Girl to join them. Besides, she can't kill the scientist (she likes him too much). The three form The Heroic Trio and attack the master's lair. They kill the babies and slave children (for their own good) and fight the supremely powerful master in the Terminator-inspired climax.
Give me sexy, gorgeous, scantily-clad superheroines who can kick my ass with martial arts, grand special effects, buckets of dead babies and tortured cannibal tots, and I'm there! You have to see this film!
A question comes to mind: Why do we have to go to Hong Kong to get this type of high-quality, action-packed, digust-o-rama movies? Hello? American movie producers? Are you out there?
Order Now from your friends at the Video Addicts Hotline.
REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS
Revenge of the Cheerleaders (1976) is a worthless piece of celluloid similar in formula to
Porky's (1985) with one decidedly important distinction: It is the only film where you can see
Baywatch-star David Hasselhoff's first film role and the only film where you can play "See If
You Can Spot David's Penis!"
See a lanky, clumsy, young Hasselhoff make an utter fool of himself dancing around in
'70s choreography and playing basketball as a dork/jock named Boner. My guess is that
Hasselhoff was really glad that this film has been unavailable for awhile, until temporary
rights were recently acquired by sludge-video marketers Simitar.
Welcome to the Aloha High School, in sunny Aloha, California, where the cheerleaders --
pregnant Heather (Cheryl Rainbeaux, the Twinkle Twat Girl in Video Vixens, 1984), Leslie (Helen
Lang), Sesame (Patrice Rohmer, who has most of the nude scenes), Tish (Susie Elene) and
Gail (Jeri Woods, Switchblade Sisters, 1975) parade topless, do drugs and pork the basketball
team (and other young men) throughout the film.
It appears that there is a "morality crisis" at Aloha, and the State Board is threatening to
merge the school with rival Lincoln Vocational.
Principal Ivory (Carl Ballantine, McHale's Navy, 1962-66) gets replaced by militant
Principal Hall Walker (Norman Thomas Marshall), after basting a turkey with his urine sample
and setting the office on fire. It is Walker's mission to whip the school into shape to prevent
This foils the plans of Walter Hartlander (William Bramley), who wants the property to
build a supermall and launches a counter-attack by hiring Nurse Beam (Eddra Gale,
Somewhere in Time, 1980) to blow up the school.
The cheerleaders raid Lincoln for drugs, which they place in the school's spaghetti sauce
(which leads to some nasty stonage and a massive food fight).
Horny, naked cheerleaders sneak into the boys' locker room, where the basketball team is
showering (which leads to a irreverent orgy).
In an attempt to set things in order, Walker suspends the cheerleaders and replaces them
with new cheerleaders with better grade-point averages. But the cheerleaders aren't going to take
this lying down -- hence the title of the film.
It's the pivotal basketball game between rivals Aloha and Lincoln. At half-time Lincoln is
severely ahead of Aloha. The real cheerleaders abduct the new cheerleaders, steal back their
uniforms and resume their cheerleading roles. Aloha makes a comeback, thanks to Boner,
their star player. In an attempt to ensure the team's failure, Nurse Beam chloroforms Boner,
rendering him limp and unconscious. The team falls behind. Nothing can revive him except a
whiff of Sesame's panties (which turns him into a super-basketball-Jones-powerhouse).
This 88-minute, mind-rot spectacular was originally released by Vestron Video at $69.98
and hasn't been available since 1991. Simitar recently obtained limited rights to the film and
will have a value-priced limited edition available through most video retail outlets like
Suncoast at under 10 bucks for a limited time only. Get 'em while they're hot, or not.
What happens when author Kevin Lindenmuth, while working on his book The Practical
Guide To Independent Filmmaking: The Right Way To Make Your First Feature, ponders the
topic of his own independent film?
Drawing from his childhood alien obsession, he explained: "I've always
wanted to do an alien movie. When I was a kid I watched all those shows -- UFO, Space
1999, Project UFO -- along with those other abduction TV movies -- and they all left me
feeling a bit unsatisfied."
Mix that in a bag with the current alien sophistication of shows like The X-Files,
and the result is Lindenmuth's Alien Agenda anthologies -- two new videos guaranteed to
appeal to alien enthusiasts worldwide.
First, I'll try to give you a grasp of the Lindenmuth's alien-invasion theory:
In the very distant future, Earth will have been annihilated, because the greys (spooky
alien bad guys) will have infiltrated the human race with a contagion that will have caused
humans to turn onto each other.
Infected humans transform into "worms" -- human in appearance, but writhing with
space-worms partying on the inside. When someone changes into a worm, he or she can't
feel pain but does feel the need to eat living humans. If a worm loses an arm, another grows
in its place. In turn, the severed arm (called "a loose end") grows a new body -- unless, of
course, it is destroyed.
This dead Earth of the future is visited also by a second race of aliens who cannot survive in
the apocalyptic wasteland, yet still need a place to live. They look like humans but can use
e.s.p. and the powers of their mind to transport themselves at will. This race develops a time
machine that allows them to be transported to present-day Earth, where they can live a full
life. They have an explicit mission: Prevent the greys from influencing humans to destroy
themselves and Earth.
And so begins the war . . .
It's a complicated premise and is painstakingly played out through two
separate videos. In both, the acting is up to snuff and the production qualities are rock solid --
an effective marriage of art and the genre.
The first, Alien Agenda: Out of the Darkness (1996), effectively deals with
the greys and their infiltration of the contagion into present day Earth. The story is played for
us using three movies -- two by Lindenmuth and one by Mick McCleary -- filmed separately but
edited to make one movie.
The first of the three, The Seedling (by Lindenmuth), depicts
a man (played by McCleary) in the year 2030 searching for his missing companion, Sam (Scooter
The pair of 21st century survivors of the alien invasion have access to a time machine
that allows them to travel back in time, as McCleary narrates, "to see how the alien invaders
transformed the world -- how they manipulated mankind into destroying themselves."
The second film, Limited Vision (directed by McCleary), which is in black and white, is the visual
representation of this time trip. A doctor (John Collins) hitches a ride
across the United States so he can search for his clone (which was grown from a severed ear), who
killed the doctor's his wife and children.
As the scenes from the three films, which also include Worm (also by
Lindenmuth), flip from one to another, and as the characters travel through time, we learn
more of the invasion through visions of past, present and future.
One entertaining scene features Rebecca Walsh (Sasha Graham) a 20-something bum
who's haunted by voices that tell her to kill. She is taken in by Sam (hey, we found him!), who
explains that she is turning into something different. He offers to coach her through the process, but
Instead, she kills him with a butcher knife. She runs off but returns shortly later to retrieve the knife
and erase the evidence. But when she gets back, Sam's body has vanished. He startles her from behind. He tells her why
he healed so fast: "I'm not normal, y'know."
Sam teaches her the ways of his kind: how to hunt, kill and eat humans. He and Rebecca
practice by killing and dismembering each other.
But Rebecca has a better idea. She plants her fingers in a flower pot, and when
they grow into four clones, she uses them to gang up on Sam. (Poor Sam.)
There's much more to the 80 minutes of film in the first video . . . but you can't stop there;
the rest of the story picks up in Alien Agenda: Endangered Species (1997). For this 102-minute sequel,
which is high on special effects, Lindenmuth was assisted by three other
directors, who each made their own contributions.
Like Alien Agenda: Out of the Darkness, Alien Agenda: Endangered Species was made
by weaving together seperate films.
The video opens with a segment in which everyday folks offer their opinions about aliens and alien abductions, then
moves first into Birthright (by Lindenmuth), which shows Megan (Debbie Rochon), a
human who's investigating the alien invasion. She becomes impregnated by John (Joe Zaso),
who ends up having to her that he is an alien (but one of the good ones), when
he uses his powers to save her life from a handgun-wielding burglar (Graham). Megan
fakes a suicide, swindles the burglar's gun and kills John -- thus beginning a campaign to
help save Earth from alien invaders.
In The Law (by Gabriel Campisi), Fritz Caligan (Alejandro Aragonez) is being pursued by
men in black who follow him to his sanctuary, an apartment in Nevada.
In the film's best sequence, Campisi
takes his best shot at Full Moon Entertainment-style special effects treatment (a la Robot
Jox, 1991) using digital effects and stop-motion animation,
when a starship lands outside the apartment. There, two stop-motion animated
robots reduce Fritz to molecular sludge, which they take to their home planet. The result is
more akin to The Outer Limits of the sixties -- a damn hoot nontheless.
In the third film segment, Ransom (by Tim Ritter), Megan recruits Cope Ransom (Ritter)
to locate an alien crash site within a nuclear wasteland in Southern Florida. Boa constrictors,
gut-munching zombies and mutated alligators aren't all that stand between Ransom and the
crash site; he must also kill a worm clone of his wife (Iesha Partridge). He finds the site,
which turns out to be an alien installation that serves as a gateway for the greys.
Finally, leading to the video's explosive finish, Complex (by Lindenmuth) takes the story
through some surprise turns that prove the complexity of the divisions between, humans,
aliens and grey seedlings.
With obvious budget limitations, the first film is a bit dialogue-heavy and a bit slower
than the second. The premise of both films depict Lindenmuth's creative sagacity. Their
execution is near perfection and show that he has the ability to work well with others for
the sake of the big picture.
Refer to these films as his calling card, and, by God, someone from the Fox Network
should call this guy! It might help put an end to all those failed pilots and series they keep
You can get your own copy of Alien Agenda: Out of the Darkness or Alien Agenda: Endangered Species (although it is highly recommended you get both) each for $19.95, plus $7 postage and handling from Video Addicts Hotline, P.O. Box 1753, Aberdeen, WA 98520.
This is the film that launched Italian director Dario Argento (Devil's Daughter, 1990), to
cult status. Suspiria (1977) is a brilliantly dark and wicked film and one of the true cult
classics -- a worthy addition to any video collection. Although the murder scenes were likely
inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), this film has been the inspiration for many
nightmarish, dark tales and pushes the limits of creative filmmaking.
Argento's bravura camera flourishes; dark, extreme lighting effects and brilliant use of
color are copied in director Tim Burton's works such as Batman (1989). Splashy gore
highlights the screen in this masterpiece.
Jessica Harper (Pennies From Heaven, 1981) stars as Suzie Banyon, who travels from
New York to the celebrated Academy of Freiberg in Germany to study ballet. She arrives in the middle of the night,
amid a violent rainstorm, and a student tells her to go away. She then
sees a young woman running through the trees as she returns to town to stay in a hotel for
the night. That night, two female students are brutally murdered by a madman.
The following day, Suzie is admitted as a student while the investigator question
the staff about the murders. Fellow student Sarah (Stefania Casini, Belly of An Architect,
1987) befriends her. Together they try to solve the midnight disappearances of staff, who
never seem to leave the facility.
The dorms are overrun by maggots, which seem to be feeding on rotting corpses in the
attic; the headmistress blames it on poor-grade meat being delivered to the school.
A blind pianist, whose seeing-eye dog bites one of the headmistress's young boys, is
fired on the spot. Shortly thereafter, the blind man is viciously torn apart
by his own dog.
Sarah is brutally murdered, but the following day Suzie is told that her friend suddenly
moved away, without notice.
Fellow classmates go to the ballet in town, leaving Suzie alone. She is attacked by a
vampire bat and covers with a towel then smashes it. Suzie is suspicious
and is determined to find out what's at the root of this after finding out that the school has
roots in black witchcraft, and find out she does. . .
Mix a hungry visionary director with an excellent cast and support crew, and you're
bound to turn up something worthy of a view. Suspiria is so much more and has
passed the test of time, influencing films and personalities of the macabre.
What impact will this film have on you? It's Alice Cooper's favorite film and could be
Originally released by Magnum Entertainment at a whopping $89.98, this cult classic is
available for $29.95 plus $1.05 shipping and handling from Scorched Earth Productions, P.O.
Box 101083, Denver, CO 80250.
View Previous Column
Dave Lewis, a non-recovering videophiliac, is constantly on the lookout for
strange and unusual videos. If you have an independent film (with or without
good production values) or know of a rare or unique film that may be good for
review, please write:
Dave Video Addict, P.O. Box 1753, Aberdeen, WA 98520. Or,
e-mail Dave at
This review was featured in Implosion Magazine Issue
number 8. You can obtain a print copy from the publishers for $5, payable to:
Implosion Publishing, 777 Twenty-Eighth Street, Orlando, FL 32805
Video Additcs Hot-Line
Video Addicts Hot-Line is © 1994-2007 David Masters. All rights reserved.
Top Of Page