(Your own Evan Vellela is on a cinematic journey thanks to MOVIE MADNESS)

Merchants of Death (a.k.a. B.O.R.N.)  (1989)

Everybody loves a good medical malpractice movie, and since Dr Giggles was already rented I pulled this one from the shelf. I immediately popped for PJ Soles and Clint Howard, but I was also excited to see William Smith listed, as I loved him as Strelnikov in Red Dawn. I was kind of leery once I saw the Troma label on the box, as I usually don’t love their associated film (aside from a few exceptions), but I was hoping that this might end up being a standout in their catalog. Oh boy, was I way off with that; this movie did not live up to my expectations.

Aside from the (very) brief scenes with their top listed actors, the rest of the cast just seems to stumble through their lines in the way that veteran actors probably shouldn’t. I kind of want to blame it all on the poor writing and bad production, but that can only account for so much. At its heart, it is a (kind of) interesting story that suffered from bad dialogue and scenes that dragged on for much longer than they should. A lot of the shock value and gore that you would imagine comes along with a Troma movie about black market organ smuggling operation was surprisingly tame, as well. It all ends in a shoot out and car chase that went on for 15 minutes longer than it needed too, and almost put me to sleep with the true lack of excitement contained within it.

I think what makes me the most upset about how lousy this move is, was that it was such a waste of a good tag line (Ripped from today’s headlines… and out of your body!). For as much as I complain though it wasn’t a total waste of time and seeing PJ Soles done up like she was in The Righteous Gemstones and Clint Howard looking like…. Clint Howard was certainly worth the $3 rental fee. If you get the itch to watch a medical horror film, maybe look elsewhere first.


Strays (1991)

I’ve been trying to rent this one for the past three weeks and it always seemed to be out when I dropped by. This week I finally got lucky and was able to rent it, and it was worth the wait for sure. As far as TV movies go, it looks decent (or as decent as a TV movie from the 90’s could look), and I get some serious Arachnophobia vibes from the house in the country setting. While the main plot follows a dominant alpha male cat and its army of feral strays, it also has a subplot about a young married couple that has their troubles, and to be honest I found that storyline to be pretty thin and unexciting.

There was a lot that I noticed while I was watching this, and while the following may not necessarily add anything to the movie, it’s still fun to know. Apparently 1970’s teen heart throb Shaun Cassidy wrote this, and from what I can tell it is his first writing credit (atleast according to IMDB). It also stars a young Kathleen Quinlan (from such hits as Airport ’77 & Twilight Zone: The Movie) and Timothy Busfield, who I was convinced was John Ritter the whole time. A lot of the film utilizes a frantic POV camera shot that is highly reminiscent of the Friday the 13th franchise and is supposed to mimic the killer cat’s perspective, but also started to give me a headache after a while.

One thing that really bothered me though, was how unaware the couple was (and I suppose I should drop a spoiler warning here if you plan on watching this). At one point these fools bring in a phone repair guy (who honestly seems like kind of a dick), and he gets mauled to death by an army of mostly cute looking feral cats, and his disappearance just goes by unnoticed for what seems like several days. How in the fuck are you going to not realize that there is a dead repairman in the basement?! I don’t know about y’all, but when people are in my home, I tend to be aware of when they come and go.

One more thought to close on; this movie made my cat Herman freak out as it has a good deal of meowing and hissing, and she could not for the life of her figure out where it was coming from. Seemed like she didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. I guess next time I’ll let her pick the rental.

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