Prayer of the Rollerboys!

Prayer of the Rollerboys – 1990, Rick King


The website credits Canadian born Corey Haim as having 48 known roles as an actor, and as having enjoyed a career which spanned more than two decades in both television, and film. For much of his youth, Haim was a big name, who grabbed tabloid headlines effortlessly and routinely scored leading roles in popular movies. If one were to collectively gather the sum total of his work and cut it all together into one massive montage, you would have days and days worth of footage, and there would be, throughout his acting career, in totality, fewer than three minutes total where Corey Haim’s mouth wasn’t sagging open like a damn trout. That was his look. “The Mouthbreather.” People seemed to be okay with it. Behold.







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“An open mouth is an open mind.” – Confusedcius

Coming in toward the “has-been” era of Haim’s acting career we have Prayer For The Rollerboys, surprisingly, it’s one of the more solid films featuring this young Proto-Bieber. While it’s not a great movie, it’s also not a terrible one, which is shocking to say the least, given that it’s about Corey Haim on Rollerblades. I was actually super disappointed, this movie ISN’T utter shit. What am I supposed to do now?!

THE PLOT~ Griffin and his little brother Miltie are orphans a hostile and economically devastated America of the Not-Too-Distant-Future. Here, basic human rights are jeopardized constantly, all businesses and institutions have relocated to foreign soil, and  poverty is universal, save for an extravagantly wealthy few. It’s an America where the previous generations have governed things so poorly that any hope for prosperity or opportunity have been completely stamped out, and where the basic freedoms guaranteed you in the constitution of the United States of America are no longer protected. So, basically, it’s right now; this movie is an incredibly accurate prediction of the year 2015. It’s fucking creepy.

The only real difference between the world you see when you look out your window and the world you would see if you hit PLAY on Prayer of the Rollerboys, is that in the movie; the presence of organized gangs openly congregating is slightly more apparent. The most powerful gang in this film are the titular Rollerboys, a wealthy and powerful white supremacist crime syndicate who rollerskate around town wearing giant coats and who peddle a designer drug called Mist to everybody and they’s momma. The Rollerboys are a major problem for what remains of the police force, and truthfully, they’re poised to potentially make a power grab that would make them unstoppable if somebody doesn’t step up and do something about it very soon. Enter COREY HAIM:

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Through coincidence, Griffin (Haim) grew up with Gary Lee, the charismatic and brilliant leader of the Rollerboys, and Gary Lee seems to really cherish their childhood memories together. Although Griffin is in no way cool with racism, drugs, or the world according to the Roller-Fuhrer, this connection makes him an ideal candidate for a police led operation to infiltrate this dangerous gang and take them down, from the inside. Griffin is initially not interested, you see, he already rollerblades a lot- but when you leave your mouth hanging open constantly, like he does, rollerblading can be difficult because you swallow so many bugs. He’s unsure if he can commit to rollerblading even more often, which is what it would mean for him to infiltrate the Rollerboys, but he eventually agrees. Also, Patricia Arquette is in this movie, and she dresses like a damn crazy person. I dunno, maybe you’re into that.

So, it’s a quasi-post-apocalyptic, gang warfare/cop film staring Corey Haim that involves a hell of a lot of roller blading. Sounds utterly insane, right? Well, yeah, for sure it does, but then you watch it, and it just isn’t. So… what the hell is going on? Can we isolate why this movie isn’t really shitty? Let’s break it down:

THE ROLLERBLADING: This is yet another film which displays the commonly held, pre-1994 belief that the future would belong to people on roller skates. That, in-and-of-itself should guarantee this movie be at least 30% goofy- and I think we pretty much get the minimum rollerskate related WTFs possible out of it. They definitely rollerblade, constantly, when the bad guys get arrested they don’t even take their skates off, they just roll them over into the squad-cars, inlines intact- so that’s periodically pretty silly, but beyond everyone simply skating around all the time, there isn’t a lot of skate related content here. They don’t really do any tricks or jumps or anything, the movie opens with a brief sequence of Haim ripping it up at a skatepark, but that’s really the extent of it. They also don’t really harp on the skates being cool, they just kind of pass them off as a fact of life in the future, so with this, we see many, many missed opportunities for this film to have pissed me off. As a matter of fact, it actually wouldn’t be difficult to forget that you’re watching a movie where two thirds of the cast have wheels fastened to their feet at all times, and that’s completely insane. Given that I expected Prayer of the Rollerboys to glorify the skates in the same fashion that BMX Bandits fetishizes bikes, I was a little taken aback by how not stupid the rollerblading is here. They really left me hanging.


THE FUTURE: So, this is a post-apocalyptic movie, right? Well, here’s how post-apocalyptic it is: It’s SO post-apocalyptic, that in this movie, the pizza delivery guys all carry machine guns, in case anyone gives them trouble… But it’s not so post-apocalyptic that we don’t have pizza delivery guys. They even have to wear lame little uniforms, like the people who work at Pizza Hut or something, so how post-apocalyptic can it possibly be if you can still pay for a human to drive a pizza to your door anytime you want?! Not post-apocalyptic at all, that’s how. I would imagine that restaurant-to-home pizza delivery would be one of the first services we would lose in the event of an apocalypse.

Actually, I’m only a little bit kidding when I say that the future depicted in this movie feels eerily in line with what we’ve seen happening in the United States just recently; I would say that this depiction of the future isn’t so much imaginative as it is speculative. Which is unbelievable. Fact: The wackiest thing about this movie is the juxtaposition of far fetched ideas, like rollerblading, teenaged gangsters, with markedly more reserved economic speculation and sociological predictions. It’s the weirdest bait and switch ever, it’s like someone sold us something with the promise that it was going to be just terrible, and then when we got it home we found out it actually didn’t suck. Are you kidding me? This movie is completely fine! Thanks for nothing!

THE QUALITY: Nobody even did a bad job! The dumbest things in this movie are Patricia Arquette’s wardrobe and Corey Haim’s face, but the technical crafstamnship is perfectly adequate! They didn’t even fall prey to old stand-bye pitfalls, like shitty soundtracks, or flavor of the month stylistic gimicks. I am horrified how well Prayer Of The Rollerboys holds up; in fact, due to the shift in economic realities we are now experiencing, this movie might be even BETTER now than when it came out. Damn it! Skunked again!

THE COREY: Let’s get one thing straight; I hate Corey Haim. I always have. I don’t even care that I’m mocking a dead man, I hate both the Coreys, and that has been my official stance on them since day one. Haim especially is heinous, because at least Feldman was Tommy Jarvis, Donatello and Mouth. When I popped this movie into my VCR, this kid was skating his dumb, open maw right into my trap, and it was my every intention to come down on him and his dumb ass rollerblade movie with the furious might of Thor… And yet… Dammit, he did a good job. This movie isn’t very shitty at all, but the problems that it does have cannot fairly be blamed on Haim. His performance is strong, even if his role is flimsy, and he’s barely even annoying. I don’t know what the hell happened, I really thought this one was in the bag, but apparently I’m living in topsy-turvy land, where up is down, left is right, and Corey Haim isn’t a bumbling jackass. I hate it.

Now; I’m not raving about this movie. It’s not a classic, it’s not a masterpiece, and it’s not a homerun…. But it is, no question, light-years less shitty than I ever dreamed it would be. Prayer of the Rollerboys is like a cunning conspiracy theory, you dismiss it outright, but the more you pay attention, the more it starts to make sense in your head. Whatever, Rollerboys. Just leave me alone.




NEVER TOO YOUNG TO DIE ~ 1986, Gil Bettman



















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Never Too Young Too Die came out in1986. It stars John Stamos, who plays Lance Stargrove, a college gymnast turned secret agent.


The movie also stars Vanity, who plays a secret agent named Danja (Worst name I’ve ever heard), and Gene Simmons, who plays Ragnar, a super villain and would-be world conquerer who has both sets of genitalia, and yes, he does at one point sing a song about this. Yeah, as if anything could stir a reaction out of you after reading the words “Starring John Stamos.” After that, nothing is shocking.

Actually, I have no idea how this even exists. I had been led to believe that we had, in place, numerous failsafes to prevent John Stamos movies from ever seeing the light of day. Clearly, no amount of preventative measures could have suppressed this hideous beast of a movie from muscling it’s way out of Hell’s sphincter and into our reality.  Never Too Young To Die. There was nothing we could do to stop this. Brace yourselves:

THE PLOT~ When decorated super spy Drew Stargrove is killed in the line of duty while trying to stop Ragnar, an evil hermaphrodie, from tainting the water supply with toxic waste, his son, Lance Stargrove, is unknowingly thrust into a world of espionage, danger, and alarmingly blatant hommoeroticism. Seriously, in this film, literally every single actor on screen looks like they are just TEETERING on the verge of their first gay encounter. It’s unreal.

Never Too Young To Die is pretty damn bonkers. I’m beginning to realize that I’ve been desensitized to nonsense, but this one remains a special find, the sort of stupid movie we’ve always speculated might exist, but could never prove. Theoretical physicists and movie nerds alike have debated for years the possibility that John Stamos could withstand the strain of adding a third persona to his repertoire of classic characters, and now we know that Uncle Jesse and Satisfied Shampoo User are not the only two iconic figures in his Rogues Gallery. Make way for Lance Stargrove, brooding, whiney college student who cheats on all his tests and excels at nothing beyond motorcycle riding and gymnastics. Actually, if we’re being fair, Stamos does a decent job in this movie, when you consider that he’s been saddled with the unfortunate burden of being John Stamos. Honestly, there are very few actors who could have pulled a better performance out of this script, which I assume was written in blood and found onboard the Event Horizon, so maybe it’s best we didn’t waste the role on someone who wasn’t destined to slide through his adult life on Full House residuals and alimony checks from Rebecca Romijn. For this man, the role of Uncle Jesse was peaking. May God have mercy on his soul.

Gene Simmons, on the other hand, is successful to a degree that cannot be debated, so we’re sort of forced to assume he was blackmailed into this. It’s a shame, Simmons has had his integrity as an artist challenged many, many times over the years, and rightly so, but nothing is more damaging to myth of Gene Simmons; Rock God, than Never Too Young To Die. Nothing ever could be. Honestly, coming from someone who rocks all ten tracks of Love Gun on the regular, this thing is straight up traumatic. Simply put, anybody who still thinks that Kiss Meets The Phantom of the Park is the greatest cinematic threat to the Kiss legacy hasn’t seen Never Too Young To Die. It would take millions of Detroit Rock Cities to undo the damage this celluloid shitshow hath dealt.

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And with that, the Kiss Army promptly disbanded.

I also want to briefly talk about Cliff; Lance’s college room mate, side kick, and gadget guru. Cliff is a bizarre character. Firstly, he displays unfaltering devotion to Lance, which runs the gamut from helping him cheat his way through college, building neat little gizmos for him all the time, and even suiting up in some sort of tactical nerd gear and running off to rescue Lance before he even has reason to believe there is anything to rescue Lance from. He just doesn’t see him for a couple of days, so he loads up his highly unstable Fire Blazer (that’s what he calls his little rocket launcher thing he built…) and heads out, just to make sure Lance is alright. He appears to receive no compensation for his efforts beyond the companionship of Lance Stargrove, so there’s this weird Peppermint Patty/Marcie dynamic that seems suspicious. Secondly, Cliff dresses really, really bizarre. When we first meet him, his clothes are so painfully 80’s that he actually appears to be deformed. The next major style we see is his aforementioned Tactical Nerd Gear, which is complete with shinny motorcycle helmet, suspenders and neckerchief. His final costume is the exact outfit worn by the Brawny Man, so it is perhaps most evident through Cliff that the head of the wardrobe department on Never Too Young To Die had a pretty bad drug problem.


We all need a guy like Cliff in our lives/nightmares

From a technical standpoint, Never Too Young to Die gets a passing grade, but just barely.  This is not a well made movie. I’d call it C- film making, and that’s just in regards to the technical craft. They actually do try to make this movie special, they have car chases, explosions, reasonably dangerous stunts, lots of extras and various, sometimes interesting locations, but even with all of that effort, Never Too Young To Die falls far, far short of the goal by failing to be dynamic or exciting, ever. Everything is on the flimsy end of adequate, and you really have to be calibrated for low budget movies to tolerate Never Too Young To Die. If you’re not, you don’t have a prayer of making through this thing.

The sound track might deserve a special shout out here. It’s all uber-chintzy, cheap sounding casio-pop, which is film-poison, especially to any post 1989 audience. In addition to a horrible, horrible song performed by Gene Simmons about how awesome it is to have both male and female sex organs, we also have the stirring “Stargrove’s Theme,” which sounds like it was recorded by your Aunt and her $30 Wal*Mart keyboard. The music in Never Too Young To Die sounds so much more bleak and hellish to me than even the foulest, most godless Black Metal Norway has to offer, and right this moment, “Stargrove’s Theme” is totally stuck in my head, so I kind of want to die.

All told; Never Too Young To Die is much more effective as a means of shaming all parties involved than it is as a movie. It’s basically one step above a commercial, it’s insane, yes, but it could be a lot crazier. It’s much more potent as a permanent reminder that no matter how he may try to bury it beneath mystique, Gene Simmons is but a mere mortal, who sometimes does real, real stupid stuff, and no matter how beautiful his ex-wife may be, John Stamos can never escape the fact that he is John Stamos. This movie is more like a court transcript, an FBI wrap-sheet, or Exhibit A in a particularly embarrassing trial… It’s sort of like that part at the end of 300, where the only victory that Leonidas can score is slightly scratch the bad guy and prove to everyone that he isn’t some untouchable god. No matter how rich and privileged Gene Simmons may become, and no matter how pittiful, destitute and beaten down you are, the mere whisper of the name “Stargrove” will reveal his true form and leave him powerless. It’s like when Nancy tells Freddy she’s not afraid of him anymore at the end of Nightmare On Elm Street, it’s his kryptonite, and it proves that no matter what, he’s not better than us. That’s what this movie is for. Of course, in the case of John Stamos, his true form is John Stamos, so for him, things really cannot get any worse… This is kinda just kicking him when he’s down. Still fun, though!


P.S. I actually really love Kiss. This was hard for me.


Death Factory!

Death Factory ~ 2002, Brad Sykes


On the off chance that any of you hate yourselves, or feel guilty, and want to cause yourselves some sort of anguish, I’ve got good news; there is a company called Brain Damage Films, they exist, they are a real thing, and they have got you covered, big time. One 90 minute Brain Damage movie is the mental and psychological equivalent to nine months in a P.O.W. camp, I promise, watch one, and you’ll have a terrible, terrible time. These movies are just the worst, and if you have some weird need to punish yourself, for really any reason at all, Death Factory is on par with an evening of beating yourself in the face. The difference is; with Death Factory, all your scars are inside, on your soul and brain. That’s going to be convenient when you go into work the next day and won’t have to explain to your boss what happened to all of your teeth.

THE PLOT~ This movie opens, like every Brain Damage movie I have ever seen (All two of them), With some lame nerd guy trying to hype you up for this horrible, horrible movie that you’re about to watch. He’s like, the mascot of Brain Damage, I guess, he dresses like an old school punk and speaks at the very bottom of his register, it’s really pretty embarrassing. Anyway. He summarizes the movie in what he hopes is an exciting way. He’s sort of like a bargain basement Crypt Keeper, except that he’s totally unlikable, and he probably has to pay for sex (When we all know the Cryptkeeper can get anyone he pleases.) Anyway, he’s here. Then the movie proper begins…

Death Factory is the very definition of generic, straight to DVD horror, and it is as bland as dry toast. The only thing this movie has that it can hope will differentiate it from the unending sea of scratched up, second hand DVDs left in apartment closets after weirdos get evicted is that it sucks a little harder than average. The premise is as such: Over and over, people continually break into an abandoned chemical factory, only to be murdered by a “Monster,” which is really just a goth chick with metal leg braces and blades strapped onto her hands. Apparently, this “monster” is an ex-employee who was mutated by exposure to biological weapons. The movie really overplays just how “mutated” she is, because as I’ve said, she doesn’t look mutated in the least. Right now there are eleven kids that look exactly like her employed at your local Hot Topic.

The main group we follow into this paint-by-numbers horror movie scenario is made up of people visibly in their 30’s (or older) playing college kids, and the film ends with a twist ending so banal that not even well known “twist ending” fetishist M. Knight Shyamalan would find his fancy tickled. It’s bad, and I don’t think this movie was ever intended to be watched, actually. I present this theory; Death Factory was made with the express purpose of filling shelves at Hollywood Video, it’s filler; it’s background decoration. They never dreamed anyone would actually rent it… But they were wrong, because me and my friends totally did. What fools we were.

All of the characters in this Death Factory are horribly written, directed and acted. Often, their behavior makes no sense whatsoever. For instance, at the begining of the movie, a couple breaks into the “factory” so they can find somewhere exciting to fool around. It’s the girl’s idea, by the way, that’s important to know for later. So, while in the midst of gettin’ down to business, the male spots this horrifying “mutant” peeking in at them, so he reacts to what he sees, like anyone would. This just pisses the girl off something fierce, she cannot believe how out of line he is for reacting. His momentary fear and surprise caused by being startled in a weird, scary place where they aren’t even supposed to be is apparently more than she is able to tolerate, so she yells at him and storms off, utterly incensed by his behavior, and even refuses to let him accompany her. “I just need to be alone!” She yells. Right, so she’s totally insane. What human would act like that?!

And it isn’t really her fault, she is the way she is because she’s been written by dummies, and it doesn’t end there. All characters in Death Factory suck in their own, stupid way, whether it be the 40 year old white woman who plays a college aged Latina, the dirty metal-head who would never be caught dead hanging out with a bunch of squares in real life, or the black man who plays a humiliatingly stereotypical black man. His portrayal is actually embarrassing enough that at first I thought he should be ashamed to have represented African Americans in this way, before I realized that the white actors should be no less ashamed for portraying white people the way this movie required them to. Really, no one escapes involvement with Death Factory without taking on a sizable chunk of bad karma. If reincarnation is real, these people will cruise into the next life as some kind of parasite that lives inside of anuses.

Another awesome Death Factory fact: Holy shit, this is NOT a factory. At no point, ever, in this movie, does the setting appear factory like in the least. These are just dilapidated bedrooms connected by unfinished, plywood hallways. What, every room in this factory is fully furnished with at least one couch and multiple chairs? This factory had a very avant garde “no machinery/shit load of couches” philosophy in regards to factory design. Why even call this Death Factory? So many questions, Brain Damage…

Also, Ron Jeremy plays a small role in this film. His part? A Drunken, stumbling hobo who dies right away. Yes, with everything Ron Jeremy has on his resume, I wouldn’t really start to feel ashamed until Death Factory. Why did he take this job, actually? Had he fallen on hard times? how hard could times actually be? Did they even pay him? No, Ron Jeremy. This isn’t worth it. Couldn’t you just start banging ventriloquist dummies or something? I refuse to believe that there wasn’t less demeaning work available to him.

Brain Damage addresses their viewer (viewerS? Could there be more than one?) as “gorehounds’, so you would expect them to at least deliver on the gore with their crappy little videos, and more or less, they do. I mean, it’s no-budget gore, but it’s in there. In this case, that adds up to maybe a few Halloween store props and a ton of fake blood that can just be caked on top of woundless flesh, and nothing more extravagant than that. They for sure try to milk it for all it’s worth, though, these shots drag on and on, and Brain Damage is not stingy with that fake blood. They really splash that shit on there. Expect to linger on shots of people writhing in gross, red goo for what will seem like an eternity, but anything more complicated than that is simply outside the budgetary restrictions of Death Factory… Which doesn’t really matter. It sucks left right and center no matter what, and more, or less graphic violence was never going to be Death Factory’s salvation. The best thing this movie could do for humanity is to be forgotten and promptly excluded from all written records. Oh, shit, why did I review it?

The Hollywood Video joke I made before actually isn’t far off, actually. Little Direct To Video studios like Brain Damage, or The Asylum, were primarily dependent on Video Store traffic in the last decade. With no talent associated with the project to bring audiences in, and nothing of merit in the production to warrant a word of mouth reputation, 100% of the demand for this movie was just people browsing who saw it on a shelf of their local video store and thought “What the hell?” If they rented it, they might have watched it, but they don’t rent it twice. Just being on the shelf at all was an example of Brain Damage’s business model succeeding, but now, those shelves are gone, and these movies are fighting to remain relevant in an era of vending machines, streaming video, and even shorter attention spans. I’ve seen plenty of Brain Damage’s products offered up by Netflix Instant View with the stink of desperation upon them, so I think the plan is to hope for a similar phenomena on a digital shelf, but we’ll see if it works out for them.

I hope it doesn’t. What they do is not art.


Roller Blade

Roller Blade ~ 1986, Donald Jackson


Things have changed since the rock ‘em sock ‘em dog days of 1986. Let me set the scene for you, and give you some perspective (I was two years old); At that time, The Berlin Wall was still standing fully intact, a constant impediment to the freedoms of the East German people. The Soviet Union was still in operation, ideologically opposed to American values, and seemingly determined to squash out the spirit of democracy, by force, if necessary. The threat of Nuclear War loomed threateningly in the zeitgeist of the entire human race, and the future was very much a topic of much debate, as well as pessimistic speculation. In 1986, it really did seem like we might just be looking at an apocalyptic doomsday in our near future, at a world where barren, Radioactive wastelands would blanket the entire Earth, where mutants and bandits would pillage without compassion for the weak or the unfortunate, and where a militarized religious order of roller-skating babes would fight to protect what was left of human civilization. This really did seem like an unavoidable certainty, just waiting to happen. Honestly, I don’t know how we have avoided that reality for so long, and I’m forced to assumed we have only postponed it… For now.


THE PLOT ~ The evil Dr. Saticoy, who looks like a combination of a Canadian Mounty and a gimp, and who constantly carries a hand puppet, not unlike Mr. Hat, hatches an evil plan to steal a power crystal from the noble Bod Sisters, a chapter of roller skating nuns who have been charged with keeping order in an apocalyptic wasteland filled with adults who ride around on rollerskates. It’s very realistic. Soon, the Bod sister’s are infiltrated by one of Saticoy’s spies, the crystal is stolen, and a confrontation between vicious, uncivilized killers and attractive young women on rollerskates comes to a head. Movies like this exist. Go watch them.

So, there’s other stuff in there… Saticoy’s spy ends up redeeming herself, some ranger type dude gets his son kidnapped, and there’s this dude who talks just like David Lee Roth, but really, who gives a shit? All of those things are Roller Blade’s honest attempt at giving you a plot to care about, and, to be frank, it’s a failure you probably predicted going in.

It’s truly amazing that movies like this can happen; movies with a concept so riddled with madness that hearing it explained it is infinitely more entertaining than actually watching it play out. Far too often these movies fall into the same trap; no matter how nutso your idea is, you either have to be equally insane, or legitimately talented, and if you’re not one of those two things, your movie is going to suck. Again, when you’re making a ridiculous ass psychotronic film, the worst thing your movie can be is boring. Roller Blade is not worth 90 minutes of your time, and that’s the tragic truth. You’ve probably imagined a better movie just reading the description, so quit while you’re ahead.

The real reason Roller Blade is important, though, is that it is, doubtless, an uncompromisingly realistic portrayal of our inevitable future. Is there a chance that soon the human race will engage in an atomic war so furious that vast expanses of the Earth will be left total uninhabitable? Without question; yes. And when this happens, what is the only logical outcome of this scenario? Well, any intelligent person knows that within weeks what is left of humanity will form a limited government/police force/religious order of roller babes to skate around and kill mutants. That’s a given! The logic is airtight, so if you want any chance at survival, it’s time to bust out your skates and get real comfortable with zooming around in short shorts (and that’s addressed to both male and female readers.) Roller Blade may not be entertaining, but neither was Driver’s Ed; however, both are necessary forms of education without which, we would be woefully ill prepared. I’m not sure if the future really will include a hand puppet enthusiast mounty-gimp, though. Probably. Hell, somewhere in the world that’s probably already a thing.

Also worth noting; Donald Jackson did manage to pull off at least one pretty solid film, Hell Comes to Frog Town, released two years later. It’s a good old time, friends. Review forthcoming!