Running Time: 96 minutes
Year of release: 1988
Director: Nico Mastorakis
Production Studio: Omega Entertainment
Nightmare at Noon (Death Street USA)
When beginning to watch Death Nightmare at Noon Street I had a moment of self-reflection, and certain obstacles to overcome. The room in which I found myself was being occupied by other people, who were watching the first Transformers film (the shit one, not the animation) and I was continually distracted by Michael Bay’s retardity and Megan Fox’s tits. And that director’s off-brand style of army-babble and loud bangs put me off balance enough to have to restart my own movie twice.
Would my film have its own robots and a 50 billion dollar budget? Yes, obviously it would, because anything less would mean I’d end up jealous of a rich man’s mechanical alien porn. Not this time. You’re wrong, I’m right.
But as everyone stared transfixed by the visual representation of Michael Bay’s wank-bank, I realised that my…hobby…prevented any justifiable complaining. If I had said “what are you watching that shit for?” I would have received well-deserved stares that would say “you can talk” without needing speech. And I would meekly return to the beginning of my movie, knowing full well that even the awesomeness of a title such as Death Street USA would be lost on those around me. I would be the dumb-ass and they would be the winners. Well, I was in no mood to lose. Death Street USA awaits, and awaits only for the brave.
You are wrong.
I am right.
So the film begins…sort of
The DVD started up for the last time and I began my own adventure. But before I did, I noticed a trailer for Death Street USA in the DVD menu, and I posed myself a long unanswered question: Why the hell do DVD’s contain trailers for the very film that is already on the same DVD? Are they assuming I might purchase the film in order to sample the trailer and THEN decide if I am going to watch it or claim a refund from the Poundland I stole it from? Are they fixated on some fantasy about the trailer for their shitty Z-movie being played on display television sets in Currys? The more likely answer is simply that you, you shitty Z-list distribution company of shitty Z-list movies, don’t actually have anything remotely close to any special features, so you just throw in a highly condensed version of the main thing you’re selling in the hope that someone might be impressed and actually fuck you.
I should apologise. Between my Transformers inferiority complex and trying to understand pointless DVD features I have lost the way. I did actually watch the film, I promise.
So the film begins (seriously)
Death Street USA (which I prefer to its original title…deal with it) is an action Sci-Fi horror that reminded me a little of the far less Charlie-featuring Tremors (more on Charlie in a moment). It has that kind of a vibe to it. A small group of heroes are holed up in a town and have to deal with an unknown menace. That kind of thing. Oh, and I love this movie. That said, I do have to address one slight issue. Namely, the God awful DVD cover up there, which I bought. It’s shit. Especially when some of the other covers are fucking works of art.
But I guess we all should never judge a Hollywood DVD distribution release by its hastily Photoshopped cover, as the old saying goes. So what of the films innards? What indeed, is the story?
So the film begins
Death Street USA opens with a disconcerting series of beeps and bloops and fucked up 80’s keyboard seizures, which resemble a tearful Atari 2600 that has been touched inappropriately and is struggling to explain the incident to the police. This spasm of sound effects is obviously accompanied by shots of flickering buttons on a plastic dashboard, and text on a shitty computer screen. Without any warning, we are forced to see a close up shot of a whited-up Brion James’ chin. (Yes, you do know who he is. He’s a replicant from Bladerunner, and the guy on that cover up there.)
There are some more swooshy noises and heaving computer fits, as the opening credits and Brion James’ face battle for screen time, when Taa Daa!! – Someone gets really serious with the 80’s synth-work and the film’s title scrawls across the screen from right to left, just like The Terminator‘s opening title scrawl, and considering this movie was released four years after The Terminator then there’s every possibility that the producers of Death Street USA had heard of it. Am I accusing Omega Entertainment of shamelessly ripping off better and more popular films? Yes, I am. Which is fine.
Anyway…This sudden increase in awesome lasts all of five seconds and, because they were only stealing a very specific part of The Terminator, for now anyway, we promptly go back to Brion James and the swooshy noises. Which happen to be produced by none other than fucking Hans Zimmer(!), who was evidently slumming it for a change. The establishment scene continues as we get our first decent look at Brion James’. And yes, he has full-fat milky contact lenses for eyes, which to be fair to the make-up department does complete the whole albino-alien theme.
The movie’s opening credits are still taking place in between shots of Brion James, and it makes everything seem like his character in the movie is actually watching the same credits we are. Confusing!
But with mind-fuses replaced and the fourth wall rebuilt, we discover that the name of the town the ensuing fable occurs within is called…wait for it…
And I love you movie.
Except for the bit where you forced me to watch Brion James chug a huge gob of brown spit on to the floor. Why? He wasn’t chewing anything. That was disgusting. Was he nervous? Please don’t do that again.
As Brion James exits a van that all the computer farts were taking place in, we see two other vehicles that resemble mash-ups of A-Team vans and Leer jets, out of which emerge a z-budget swat team with the word ‘Ape’ written on their hats. They all gather round and assume completely fixed positions like some non-threatening impressionist troupe, and await Brion James to do something.
…who are these people?…why are they doing what they are doing?…
Did you hear that?…I thought I heard something.
Anyway, where was I? Yes, Albino-man loads a futuristic looking space-gun with a tube of green phlegm, and centers his weapon on the lake they are gathered next to. But his beef with lake is temporarily interrupted as the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life happens. Honestly, what happens next would have been capable of single-handedly rescuing ANY movie from boredom and propelling it in to space.
How to be stupid – Nightmare at Noon style
Our attention is drawn to a cheerful car horn, and everyone turns around to see who is approaching. We see the offending party is a toothless backwoods yokel driving a battered looking truck towards the lake. Obviously, this is an unacceptable inconvenience to Albino-man, so he gestures his drama group to go deal with him. The men all raise their weapons, many of whom have laser sights attached to their guns, and somehow…somehow…Toothless is capable of SEEING THE LASER ON HIS OWN CHIN AND FOREHEAD. We know this by Toothless (no shit) looking up and down at the red dots in the most baffling display of a movie’s understanding of the laws of physics that I can remember seeing.
As if that wasn’t insane enough, Toothless then says…
“Wow, those are some purdy lights!”
…and the then looks at the group of soldiers, each of whom are visibly pointing machine guns at him and says…
“Are ya’ll making a movie?”
He predictably gets his absolute shit blown to smithereens, and tears of laughter stream down my face.
I love you movie.
In an example of a ‘we’re only doing one take on this, no matter what’ moment, one of the machine-gun-toting performance artists has a slight malfunction. Namely, at the big moment when they all perforate Toothless, his blank firing machine gun didn’t work. This is clearly evident in the shot itself as his weapon does absolutely nothing whilst everyone else’s around him works just fine. This discrepancy is hilariously highlighted by this guy looking down at his gun and sighing. Poor fella! He stood about all night in the freezing cold, being ignored by Brion James, just to get the opportunity to do some pew pew, but no, they gave you the broken one. Why? Because they are cheap. Not only cheap enough to use defective blank firing props, but also cheap enough not to just go ahead and add muzzle flash in post. Nope. Either they couldn’t afford it, or no one cared enough to consider it. Hats off to you movie.
Oh, I missed an important detail. Captain Cataracts is allowed to wear sunglasses at night. Presumably because he is an alien or something.
…but is he?…where is he from?…will you ever know?…
LEAVE ME ALONE!! Deep breath…and continue.
With that ‘threat’ taken care of, Albino-Man gets on with the task at hand and shoots the lake with his snot-pistol. And this boys and girls, is what’s called a ‘premise’.
Time for some ‘protagonists’
The scene changes and we see George Kennedy wake up at 07:00. The film is insistent that we understand this, as it shows the same shot of his alarm clock twice. George Kennedy gets out of bed with full make-up and hair, and once dressed in his policeman uniform, drinks some coffee. Which isn’t as pointless a detail as you might believe.
We smash-cut to a close up of an extended thumb, that, slow pan reveals, belongs to a budget version Jan Michael Vincent. Think Mr Airwolf himself but left out in the sun for too long (and still with all his limbs…too soon?) We then cut to a camper van containing Wings Hauser and his wife’s boobs. They are evidently on some kind of vacation and the usual pointless dialogue at this point in similar films happens.
On their way to wherever they are going they pick up Airwolf-prune, and him and Wings Hauser’s wife immediately start flirting with each other right under the nose of poor Wings, who has his head so far up his own ass that he is oblivious to his impending cuckold. They arrive in…Canyonland (that name will never grow old) and decide to get some breakfast. Not Michael Vincent and Wings-wife continue to eyeball fuck each other and talk like whores, but just when you think they are going to slam their genitals together, things ramp up big time.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to…Charlie
Charlie, who initially seems content to quietly sit at the counter and eat his breakfast, undergoes some kind of terrifying transformation and begins to lose his shit in every conceivable way.
This first manifests itself by Charlie brutally stabbing the waitress in her hand. It’s sudden, gratuitous, insane, and absolutely amazing.
Predictably the waitress screams like a banshee and everyone freaks out. That is, everyone except Airwolf-Man who looks upon all this with disdain. Wings goes to tackle Charlie, but Charlie proceeds to beat his absolute shit in. This incidentally, is the movies first foray in to the delicate ballet that is fight choreography. We’ve all seen good examples, and bad examples, and for Death Street USA, its fight scenes consist almost exclusively of people being slammed up against walls and thrown across tables. Take note, other films.
Wings, unprepared for Charlie’s heightened aggression, finds himself slammed up against a wall and thrown across a table, whilst Airwolf-Man, bored by all of this, slowly gets up off of his chair to go to settle things with Charlie. He gives him the old knuckle sandwich…but to no effect. Instead, they BOTH fly through the diner window in slow motion.
A policewoman arrives and Charlie throws her over a car and steals her pistol. This amuses Charlie greatly…
…who then tries to shoot the stricken policewoman. But in a dramatic turn of events, Airwolf-Man is ready with his own pistol and kneecaps Charlie, and we see Charlie now has bright green blood. A bit like the green stuff Albino-Man fired in to the lake. Do you think those two things might be related somehow? Gosh, maybe! Charlie then escapes custody by head-butting his way out of a police car…
…and then goes on the most awesome rampage in film history. That might seem like hyperbole, but don’t be so sure. Yes, admittedly Charlie only appears for ten minutes before he gets blown to shit, but those ten minutes should be mighty familiar to anyone who has played Grand Theft Auto. Charlie’s antics are the best part of this movie, and are worthy of closer inspection.
So lets do that.
Death Street USA – Go Charlie Go!
What follows is a list of everything Charlie does, or has done to him, in the movie Death Street USA, in no particular order. Some events have already been mentioned, but those were just leg stretches. During his time on screen, Charlie…
Head-butts a car window
Kicks a man’s face with both feet
Throws one guy across a table three times
Stabs a waitress
Steals a shotgun
Steals a police car
Throws himself through a pane of glass
Takes a baseball bat to the head
Does a wheel spin
Strangles two guys
Disarms a cop with a roundhouse kick
Blows up multiple cars
Pulls apart a pair of handcuffs
Fender benders a woman in hair rollers
Takes three bullets to the chest
Murders his own son
Crushes a woman to death
Howls with glee
In terms of awesomely stupid movie rampages, Charlie’s from Death Street USA is so God damn endearing I just can’t help but applaud. He was my hero from his very first scene and continued as such until his character was robbed of his psychotic life. Whilst there were plenty more rampaging loonies in this movie, none of them carried themselves with the same finesse and bravado that our good Uncle Charlie did, this obviously despite the movie introducing Charlie’s son in to the film just so Charlie can kill him. Brilliant.
I love you movie.
Meanwhile, Wings walks around with an invisible shotgun and we learn that Airwolf-Man’s character traits include chewing gum, one punch knock-out expectations, spontaneous smoking, and walking slowly towards important situations. Albino-man puts on a panama hat and looks silly. Actual film quote:
“Watch out. This thing doesn’t make any sense”
(No, actor. When reading your lines, ignore the notes written in red pen)
In this films continued insistence on including stuff that should have been re-shot or left out, Airwolf-Man trips over during a scene, and did they shout cut and go again? Thankfully no, because this sloppy amateurism is my evenings entertainment. It’s made even more funny because you can tell it pissed him off. Lol.
There is even more being thrown over tables…
…being pushed up against walls…
…and being thrown over tables…
…as Wings-Wife has become a little hysterical, and now everyone realises that the water is contaminated and anyone who drank it will do a Charlie (as if anyone could come close…) They throw her in a police cell and she spends the rest of the film spinning around and screaming. Wings has a good cry and gets on with things. At around this point, our concerned heroes are discussing the script, and someone, presumably human, wrote the following lines, the director had an actor say it, and no one stopped to question each others family histories of dementia:
Wings – “Did you drink the water?”
Cop-man – “No, I haven’t touched water in years.”
I love this movie.
Cop-Man, who uttered those obvious lies, had actually consumed coffee that morning (remember?) and so he periodically makes stupid faces as he tries to fight off the effects of the poison.
At one point we witness a mildly perturbing scene in which one of our heroes blows away a knife-weilding maniacal Catholic priest. For those Catholics out there considering watching Death Street USA, bring your rosary beads because you’re gonna get the shakes.
We see a doctor inject a crazy person with a syringe full of sedatives who then blows the tip of the needle as if it were a smoking gun. Awesome. But we also learn around this time that the green blood inside the infected people is actually…acid (?). That’s correct…They have acid for blood. If that’s familiar to you it’s because you are a functional human being with a brain, and have never gone to Canyonland for swimming lessons.
As shit goes down, a guy on a motorbike drives in to the back of a car full explosives, who then flies through the air with his literal ass on fire…and I swear I’m not sure how much more of this I can take. The story continues and our heroes prepare to face the bad guys.
…who are the bad guys?…what are they doing?…and why?…
STOP TRYING TO RUIN IT FOR ME.
They assemble and ready themselves to ambush an A-Team van, and the movie displays some of of it’s filthy x-rated non-sequitur porn…
Cop-man – “We have to pen them in. At the old driveway.”
Airwolf man – “Some sheriffs never change.”
What? That’s amazing film. Any more examples of you drinking the water?
Wings – “I tell ya, he’s gone nuts!”
Airwolf-man – “Sue him.”
Ok, that’s enough.
I begin to realise that they jumbled up the letters of ‘Continuity Be Fucked‘ when they were spelling the title of this movie, as the editing and script I don’t think were ever introduced to each other. People appear psychic and know impossible facts. People transport from scene to scene and location to location. Characters appear to be deaf and blind to things in their immediate vicinity. And entire scenes seem to exist within their own time and space, far outside of the main body of the film. One example of this is how Cop-Man knows exactly where the bad guys are going to be, thereby allowing our heroes to plan a dramatic ambush. However, that location is literally an empty field of no interest, which the bad guys (who now possess flamethrowers) immediately begin to set on fire.
But we aren’t given the time to dwell on such nonsense, as Cop-Man has now succumbed to his morning coffee and is…acting out.
But, because of the hero he is, he retains just enough self-awareness to go and kill the bad guys instead of his friends, and gets set on fire. Now a flaming human candle, he runs towards the open rear door of one of the A-Team vans, jumps inside, and everything detonates brilliantly.
Cut to the next morning, and everyone is on horses looking for Brion James. Wings gets shot in the chest, so Girl-Cop stays with him and Airwolf-Man continues alone. Ten minutes of admittedly beautiful desert photography ensues, as a game of cat and mouse happens. Albino-Man spits again, and I realise that Brion James will have literally not one single line of dialogue in this movie. Then, out of absolutely nowhere and for no reason whatsoever, everyone has their own helicopter.
Wow. Helicopters? This IS Airwolf!!
Actual real helicopters, my God! And helicopters that chase each other in some of the most stunning aerial photography I have ever seen, and no that is NOT hyperbole. Ok, maybe it is, and yes, the footage is sped up for dramatic effect, but fuck me with a spoon there was a budget for this movie after all, and it was spent on three helicopters and a cinematographer that I’d happily drop the hand for. It is spectacular. And in a very genuine ‘this is a real movie and not a student film’ sense. It is incredibly entertaining as an entirely legitimate piece of film-making, and as such is tragically wasted on this movie.
As you can probably already tell, I am going to recommend this movie for how wonderfully terrible much of it is, but even if those elements weren’t present, I would still recommend just for this incongruous spectacle.
So, eventually the bad guy dies, the evil helicopter explodes, and everything goes back to normal. No, I’m being serious. Everything goes back to normal, as the town is completely fine, and Wings, who has fully recovered from being shot in the chest, is back to driving his camper van…along with his completely recovered wife sitting next to him. That’s right, a person who only the previous day had fucking acid for blood is now back to normal.
Bravo movie. It’s not often a film will have the balls to just up and tell an audience to go and fuck itself, but you did.
…who were the bad guys?…who was the albino guy?…why were they poisoning the town?…
It doesn’t matter, shut up.