Sunday, April 30, 2023

Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965)

Five men are all sharing a train compartment, and to pass the time they ask the sixth occupant, mysterious spiritualist Dr. Schrek, to tell their fortunes with his tarot deck. They get more than they bargained for, as their futures contain much horror, and may all end the same way, with Dr. Terror's final card-Death!...

Dr. Terror's House of Horrors is a cheesy title that promises either a tongue-in-cheek comedy, or a traditional horror. Funnily, it's a mix of both at times, with this Amicus anthology proving itself a classic!

With its story of an architect returning an old family property in the Hebrides, only to discover a sinister secret, Werewolf gets off to a strong start. It's a slow-burn tale, but the atmosphere quickly builds, and a body count is racked up as a werewolf is on the loose, seeking to gain revenge...or is it?

It fell apart for me a little in the ending. There's a twist that's more than a little confusing, which made me wonder if there was a first werewolf or wasn't there. Also this is a nitpick, but the hero finds a giant silver crucifix, and melts the thing down into only 5 or so single use bullets! Talk about wasteful. It's a lot harder to substitute a walloping stick than bullets!

Creeping Vine is an odd story. It's set entirely in broad daylight, and has a simple story of a family returning from a holiday, finding a new vine on their house. It resists all efforts to cut it down, and the government runs some studies, soon finding out the distressing truth. This is a new strain of plantlife that has evolved to not only counter all of man's efforts to destroy it, but also to fight back.

The science behind this is pretty laughable. We're given a mini lecture about how plants evolved from algae to moss to lichen, then to fungi, ferned and flowered plants, and finally a venus fly trap. Clearly an advancing stage of evolution, caused by the plants' struggle to adapt and survive in the modern world!...Errr, or not? Nevermind that I'm pretty sure those are entirely distinct species that did not progressively evolve from each-other, a venus fly trap is just a cunning but lazy plant that eats the occasional fly! Not exactly an encroachment on human civilisation.

Despite the sunny suburban surroundings not lending itself easily to horror, the vines make for a good threat, and we see how intelligent and deadly they can be. They claim not just human victims either! Animal lovers should steer clear of one scene. To paraphrase the distraught little girl, it makes things less fun. Kill all the humans you want, but not the pets!

What's interesting is how readily the government believes this, and is quick to help study and combat this new threat. After some struggles, the leads hit upon the incredibly obvious solution. You mean fire destroys plants? I never woulda guessed! The ending is kinda funny. Bernard Lee goes outside with one bunch of lit newspaper to fight the plants, and no sooner than he's swatted a few does the lead breathe a sigh of relief and sit down with his family. Hey asshole, he's not done yet! He could need your help! In any case, the story has an upbeat enough ending, which is kinda at odds with the framing story.

Voodoo is a fun story, with a mixture of chills and laughs. It has a laidback beginning, with clumsy musician Biff Bailey getting a working trip to the West Indies (lucky bastard!). He meets up with who he thinks is a real life West Indian, who responds with "You must be joking, I'm from Croydon!". They talk about calypso and island life, before the subject turns to Voodoo. "They hold sacred ceremonies. Lots of women. Dancing. Not many clothes! Want my advice? Forget it.".

But the lead isn't dissuaded, and sneaks into a ceremonial dance, and begins writing down the sacred music of Damballah. With all the subtlety of a white man trying to be stealthy in the Caribbean! He's caught and warned away, but the idiot has a good memory, so back home in London he reproduces the sacred music for a new show. Soon it's time for the big concert, and we'll see how real Voodoo is.

This story has some interesting moments, and is a great showcase on Voodoo culture. I like how it treats Voodoo as the legitimate religious denomination it is, and even Dr. Terror refers to their figures as gods, worthy of the same respect as any other. Overall the story has the clear moral of 'Don't fuck with people's religions'.

The characters are a highlight. Biff is a bit of an asshole really, but the performance makes him come across like a lovable dope. He's never doing the right thing, but ya can't hate him too much! Although he still doesn't believe in the curse when tables are flying, chairs are overturned, and patrons flee in terror. He still treats it like a big joke, and has some funny dialogue with the now empty nightclub's manager, showing where his priorities lie. The curse soon targets him more personally, and it's all a little quick. The unearthly concert doesn't faze him, but he freaks out exactly one minute later because one poster fell off a wall!

Biff's new friend from the Caribbean is great, with plenty of funny and smart dialogue. It's a pleasure when he follows back to London, and has more amusing observations. While not appearing a lot, the Voodoo natives are distinct, and leave a good impression.

There's one great scene when Biff is discovered. He's hiding by some bushes, and more and more natives progressively show up behind him, all the while he's unaware. And the story ends on an arresting final image.

With music playing such a big role here, it's handled well! From nice jazz and lounge music, to the traditional tribal beats, and the final concert, which has a subtly eerie sound to it while still being fun.

With its themes, story, acting, and the music, Voodoo is by far the best story in this film!

Disembodied Hand is the story of pompous art critic Franklyn Marsh, who is too in love with tearing down others with his great wit to really appreciate art. He butts heads with artist Eric Landor, who publicly embarrasses him. Marsh gets his revenge by running hm down, causing the artist to lose his hand, then his life. But a ghostly hand soon begins following Marsh wherever he goes.

This is a delightfully spooky story, getting off to a good beginning that introduces its two leads very well. Marsh is a real asshole, and it's good seeing him get taken down a peg, like a funny scene with a primate artist.

The length does make certain events feel a bit sudden. Being embarrassed a couple of times is apparently enough for Marsh to run his enemy down, and double back to crush his hand. But this is to be expected, and gets us to the haunting quicker. And a fun haunting it is! The hand follows him wherever he goes, attacks him then disappears, making him question his sanity, and more. Before a satisfying final punishment.

On a random note, there's the artist's death. I'm surprised he'd contemplate suicide so quickly. The guy could at least try painting with his other hand, his mouth or feet, try a different form of art, or even something else to get revenge against Marsh, like the traditional way of hunting him down and shooting him, or becoming a rival art critic and far surpassing Marsh's popularity!

Vampire is an alright story, although one of my least favourites in the film. It has a good atmosphere, with its portrayal of not only modern day urban vampires, but in a hospital setting. Newlyweds Dr. Bob Caroll and his foreign wife Nicolle have just returned home, but a spate of mysterious attacks causes suspicion, and an older colleague tells bob this may be the work of a vampire. But not only that...His wife!

This story is hit hardest by its length, as Bob goes from being a loving husband to ready and willing to plunge a stake into his wife's heart, in under 5 minutes! This leads to a hilarious ending, which just goes to show the idiocy of taking some people at their word! Followed by a fun extra twist, hampered only by a nonsensical line of dialogue (I get one town not being big enough for two vampires, but two doctors?).

This is still a decent watch, with some great shots, and ok emotion. As the final story it doesn't do anything really special, but that's what the framing story is for.

The framing story is quite good. Simple but effective, and I like how the atmosphere changes as the men realise the gravity of the situation. Dr. Schreck has an uneasy aura, without being overtly evil. The guys all range from friendly to rude, with Christopher Lee as a fun hardened skeptic. Given he's the most doubtful, it seems weird that he's not the last passenger to have his story told.

I was worried I could see the twist coming, and sure enough I did. It's not badly handled, except for the logic. It doesn't make much sense how these characters must die to avoid dying, especially when two of them survive their story (four if you count life in jail and the hospital, respectively!).

Overall, despite this movie having 5 stories (6 if you count the framing story), it's not as cramped as it could've been! While the stories can be a little rushed, that's the worst of it.

The cast here is great. Big names like Christopher Lee, Donald Sutherland, etc all give reliably good performances. Peter Cushing hams it up, having fun with his silly accent. He doesn't get to do much besides talk, but he leaves a great impression. Bernard Lee and Michael Gough are welcome presences too. Roy Castle is fun as the thieving musician, and Christopher Carlos has a great presence as the Voodoo priest. Real life calypso singer Kenny Lynch is quite fun in his role, and his accent is great!

The effects here range from very good, to cheesy! The werewolf is more wolf than were, but being kept mostly offscreen helps it. The fake killer plants in Creeping Vine let it down a bit. The make-up in Voodoo is great, and the effects are predominately flying objects. The ghostly hand is obviously not real, but I guess it can get away with that since it is meant to be dead after all. The final segment is light on effects, with the major one being the bat the vampire transforms into...or rather, the inanimate lump of plastic on a string.

The locations here are pretty good. The Hebrides are gorgeous, and the sets are well-realised. The West Indies are not at first, with a fake backdrop and weird grey scenery. But there's enough colourful decor to sell the outdoors club, and the foliage is good.

The lighting is a highlight too. There's a strong mix of colours here, with rich oranges and blues, mixing together, and aided when the light changes to fit the atmosphere.

Dr. Terror's House of Horror's is a wonderfully spooky little time, from when Britain made some horror greats! As a successor to 1940s classic Dead of Night, and as its own thing, it more than gets the job done...

Friday, April 14, 2023

Mr. Washington Goes to Town (1942)

African-American comedian Mantan Moreland was a great presence of Golden Age Hollywood cinema. Under-appreciated by some, he's gained a considerable following in recent years, myself included! He appeared in well over a hundred movies, often as a supporting man, but always providing laughs, and a distinctive presence...

Schenectady Washington is a down on his luck bum, currently in jail with his friend Wallingford, when he is told of the passing of distant relative Utica, who has left him the Grand Hotel Ethiopia. Unfortunately the hotel was also left with a looming mortgage. Utica was famously loaded, yet never used any banks, and a scheming associate and his lawyer snoop around to take the money and business for themselves. Meanwhile, Washington and his friend deal with the day-to-day running of hotel life, trying not to lose their minds or life in the process...

Not to be confused with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (which sure makes this a hard film to google!), Mr. Washington Goes to Town is a film that I thought was lost! I looked high and low for it, along with other Mantan flicks that sound just great! Well sometimes miracles do happen, because it's recently been uncovered for all the world to see, and it lives up to everything I could've hoped!

The plot is basic, set mostly in the one location. It never tries to be complex or anything, it's just a cute little movie. It's often funny, and there are some great comedy setpieces. They are set up very well, with sometimes hilarious payoff. There's even a chase scene right out of Scooby Doo!

The film has a strong cast of characters. Sche...Sch...Schenectady is a hapless and clumsy guy, endearingly so. Despite being the hotel's manager, it's his friend who takes up higher duties while he's stuck as the bellboy. Well, the uniform does look good on him! Wallingford is the straight man, and is ok, even if he gets less to do.

The villains are banker Brutus Blake (also the villain in another Mantan comedy Lucky Ghost), and his lawyer Blackstone. They get some fun moments. Unfortunately they never really interact much with the leads, nor do much villainous, beyond trying to steal the treasure from under the hotel's nose. Brutus' wife is also in the mix, doggedly trying to get as much alimony from her soon-to-be ex as she can.

The staff include a a ditzy maid, and a beautician who's quite friendly with Washington...but is also carrying on with Brutus! The film never comments on it, but she must have a shifty streak to her! It's surprising when she's otherwise played sweet. She does push her luck too far in a funny bit of comeuppance.

The hotel seems a little quiet at first, but this is soon made up for with plenty of guests, each kookier than the last. There's a magician, a devious invisible man who tricks everyone around him, a showman and his light-fingered gorilla partner, and a knife thrower who thinks he's a better knife thrower than he is. This is just to name a few, and  they make for good one/few-scene wonders.

The dialogue is a real hoot, and very quotable.
"I'd rather freeze to death in Florida than drown to death in California."
"My stomach ain't got no memory."
"You ain't only impossible, but improbable!"
Lawyer: "We can get ahold of that place if we use diplomacy."-Brutus: "If we use who?...I told you I didn't want no third party mixed up in this deal!"
"Cleo's the name. I'm a beautician"-Washington: "You don't say so! You is a Beautician? How do you like America?", as well as some amusing follow-up lines.

There's also a mention of Gandhi, which was surprising for an old American movie, particularly since he was still alive when this was made!

The climax is a manic free-for-all, followed by a last minute mad dash to find the treasure, before the sudden reveal was all a dream. You're kidding me! Again?! I was briefly pissed off about this, especially at the lack of resolution. The bad guy probably gets the hotel, and the safe is left unopened with no treasure found. But as soon as I stopped and thought, it actually made perfect sense! Let's be real, this wasn't exactly a normal film! There are invisible men, comedy gorillas, and headless ghosts! Of course it's all a dream! And who knows, Washington is still headed for the hotel, so maybe reality will play out much the same, but less harried.

The cast here is a good one. Moreland is great as usual, getting across all his classic mannerisms and deliveries, with a great physicality. He turns the simple act of speaking into a riot, particularly his final combination lines. F.E. Miller is a good straight man, and has decent chemistry with his co-star.

Macaeo B. Sheffield and Arthur Ray are a fun villainous double act, while both of Mantan's cinematic love interests are back. Marguerite Whitten is a sight for sore eyes, while Florence O'Brien gives a better performance than in Lucky Ghost, and just as many funny head shakes. There's also Zerita Steptean as the domineering wife, giving three spunky black actresses!

The set is a well designed one, bringing life to the location. While the effects are fun! The invisible man's vanishing act is done with simple cuts, as are other moments, but it's handled well. The gorilla is obviously a suit, as with all old Hollywood flicks, but it's a fun costume. And when there's the headless man. You can tell how it's done, and the head looks amusingly fake in close-ups, but it's still neat to watch, and it's a well-made fake head!

Mr. Washington Goes to Town is a great example of what happens when you throw a bunch of classic black talent into a set for a week and see what happens. It's a fun time, and a good historical watch...

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Sign of the Wolf (1941)

After an unsuccessful contest, dog trainer Judy takes her misbehaving pooch Shadow and newly acquired Smokey on a flight to a prospective buyer. Things go awry when bad weather forces the plane down. While Smokey runs away, Shadow is able to find help from friendly ranch owner Rod, and his little brother Billy. Judy and co. settle down as she recovers from her injuries, but the question of Smokey's whereabouts remain. Unknown to them, a pair of conniving fox thieves have found him, and begin their own plan...

Sign of the Wolf is a rural adventure, based on a story by Jack London. But its biggest claim to fame today is the presence of classic comedy great Mantan Moreland! And not an inconsiderable role either! Although I am disappointed it doesn't feature him fighting werewolves. I mean, he's met zombies and ghosts, so it's not an unreasonable expectation!

The film gets off to an adorable start with a dog show, full of varied breeds. We see them doing neat tricks before the story starts, and it's kinda a shame the whole movie couldn't be set here! Once the plot kicks in, the film works well, cliches and all . There's plenty going on, and the hour long runtime makes it a breezy watch!

It's a bit awkward watching all the facts turn against Shadow, and everyone think he's the culprit! There's even a posse formed, and when they see the good boy bring evidence of fox thievery, they assume the worst and try and shoot him!

Everything all resolves well in a fun climax though, with enough fists and fur to entertain. The ending's a little abrupt, but not too much, and wraps everything up. There are some interesting motion credits, with Billy running out on the mushy stuff, and the movie just stops and follows him.

Judy's a nice enough gal, and same goes for simple but handsome rancher Rod. Ben is the best character. Fun, perceptive, and has a nice connection with his hound. At one point he even almost works out what's going on, but Beulah shushes him! Billy is alright, and a bit whiny, but he's a good kid, especially when he takes a bullet defending Shadow! Beulah is a fun maid, somewhat sassy with Ben. Although she can be a bit of a wet blanket at times. And lastly, the villains are an alright bunch. Nothing much to them, but they get the job done.

Sign of the Wolf doesn't really have any one main character. Is it Judy? But she spends half the movie laid up in bed. Ben the trainer has more screen time than her, but isn't as prominent in some spots. How about Hollywood stud Rod, or little Billy? Or are the dogs the true leads? Overall, everyone shares screentime pretty equally, making it feel like an effective ensemble piece.

The acting here is a high point. Mantan Moreland has a nice juicy role, and performs well! Just like in King of the Zombies, he may technically be the sidekick, but this is much more his film. Grace Bradley and Michael Whalen are fairly standard Hollywood leads (though Bradley has a distinct husky voice, reminiscent of Leah Remini), and Darryl Hickman is your typical Aww gee whillikers kid, to the point that I kept calling him Timmy. Louise Beavers has a fun supporting role and comedic foil to Mantan. And special mention must go the pooches of course.

The dog tricks here are all cute. There's an animal fight during the climax, but shot in a safe way. Some creative obscuring of the action, and dubbing makes two dogs presumably playing like a convincing enough fight, without looking too fake, or too real!

The music here is fairly traditional 1940s adventure tunes. There are some nice wintery percussions in some scenes! And last up, the scenery here is convincing all round. It's heartening to see the production wasn't too lazy to go up to Alaska (or thereabouts) for filming, and it's always clear the movie's not just shot on cheap soundstages the whole time.

Sign of the Wolf is a pretty neat film. It's nothing amazing, nor a hidden classic, but it's a perfectly watchable adventure. And at only 67 minutes, and with two great black leads, plus many adorable dogs, what's the harm in checking it out?...

Friday, April 7, 2023

Cyber Tracker 1 and 2 (1994-95)

Cyber Tracker

In the near future, cybernetics have become more common, and robot trackers roam the streets in search of criminals, who they summarily execute. This causes outrage with many citizens, who feel technology is going too far and turning America into a police state. Eric Phillips is a security guard, newly assigned to Senator Dilly, supporter of the big cybernetics company. He is impressed with his new guard after foiling an attack, and tries initiating him into the fold. But once Eric sees the corruption and murder on display, he refuses to take any part. Now on the run, a tracker is assigned to follow and terminate. Will man triumph over the machine, or can nothing stop the tracker?...

Cyber Tracker isn't Don 'The Dragon' Wilson's first foray into the future, but it's certainly better than Future Kick! The film is partly a Terminator cash-in, with some hints of Robocop, while also doing its own thing, as far as DTV action goes.

Cyber Tracker is set in the late 2010s, and aside from things like holograms, the look of this world is achieved through rooms lit in dark blue, and outdoors with an orange sky. Otherwise it just looks like downtown L.A. Although admittedly, we're now almost a decade ahead of this period, and even now our world doesn't match even the slightest futuristic flourish this movie gives. Everything still looks the same as in 94!

The story here is fairly standard stuff. A tough secret service agent is on the run, fighting off robots and an evil corporation. I'm not sure the film does a good job of showing why the computerised justice system is bad. Sure it could be misused, but we only see actual murderers getting shot. Although I suppose the ease in which Trackers are sent after the innocent hero is a decent argument against it.

By the halfway point, the plot stalls a little and becomes thin. Though things pick up a little by the end. It's still a bit basic, but I was having more fun after the lull in the middle. There's an enjoyable multi-stage climax, with a healthy mix of gunplay, and hand to-foot combat.

The finale got a laugh out of me, with the hero shooting a senator on live TV, revealing him to be a robot. Which makes it a-ok to shoot him to death? The film has a nice ending, with a romantic moment, followed by a fun twist of lemon for a surviving villain. There's also an Ayn Rand quotation, which I certainly hope wasn't showing the movie's politics!

Eric Phillips is a standard hero. He starts out the movie great at his job, but down in the dumps ever since his wife left him. He passes the time by downing booze, programming his AI companion to get drunk, and watching old home footage. His wife was unable to accept his job as a bodyguard, getting the hilarious line "I just can't live my life waiting for you to walk through that door, dead or alive!"

He soon becomes a wanted man, and must think fast and fight well, if he has any hopes of surviving, as well as saving the day.

TV reporter Connie starts out as a background character, before revealed to be the leader of a group devoted to fighting back against 'bad' technology. Despite her normal appearance, she kinda works as a grizzled mature revolutionary. We also meet the rest of her group at this point, who are quick to distance themselves from the opening terrorists. There's a bit of conflict with one guy Jared, whose brother was killed in that attack. We also get a hippy guy spouting technobabble in a pretty amusing way, and a cute mother.

The latest tracker soon attacks the hideout, and this whole sequence felt unnecessarily depressing! One moment in particular felt a bit far, not to mention lazy (Awww, she was only 2 days till retirement, and now she'll never make it to her daughter's baseball match!).

The villains are a fun bunch. There's the mistrustful head bodyguard who has a grudge against the hero for daring to be a good kickboxer too. He makes for a good opponent, though is underused. The senator really kicks events into motion by putting Eric through a loyalty test way too early! His logic is he may as well do it now, so come on Eric, shoot this innocent woman in the head for me! It won't be a shock to learn this doesn't work.

Then there's the head of the Cybercore corporation, who's a real piece of work, openly strangling assistants in meetings just to prove a point. He's delightfully evil, and I was glad he gets a deserving comeuppance.

The main onscreen villain has gotta be the Tracker(s). A few are sent after Eric, all identical, and all hard to stop. Bullets don't hurt it, but this doesn't stop anyone from trying! It even takes a few bazooka rounds before falling down, though explosions are the way to go. Isn't it lucky that bazookas are just lying around everywhere in this world. We see a clever way of destroying the last one that uses its abilities against it.

The action in Cyber Tracker is fun, with an abundance of explosions. Cars flipping over and engulfing in flames, vehicles somehow blowing up twice, and overall we have about 4 in the first half hour!

The effects here are pretty good. While not a lot of effort is made to make things futuristic, what we get is good, from the weapons, to the robotics. The 'injuries' they sustain look neat! The pyrotechnics are great too, as well as the little holographic moments here and there.

The acting is good. Wilson is a fine lead, while Stacie Foster is a nice love interest, getting in some good action herself. Richard Norton is fun, and it's great seeing an Aussie here, actually getting to be an Aussie too! Just wish he got more screentime. Jim Maniaci gets to have fun as the motionless killer robots, getting triple duty. John Aprea is fine while Joseph Ruskin is delightfully skeezy as the CEO. Everyone else does ok, and we get a cameo from Art Camacho!

The fight choreography works, and makes ample use of Wilson's legs. Given the focus on guns and robots, there's not a lot of room for kickboxing, but there's juuust enough, with Eric's misguided attempts to punch the robots, plus his main human opponent.

The direction here gets in some neat shots here and there, and takes advantage of the locations. It also manages to films things in such a way to not make the real time period that obvious. And the score is fairly generic stuff, with an oddly operatic tune at the end!

Cyber Tracker isn't great or anything, but it's ok. At its worst its just a low-budget DTV flick, but at no point is it truly bad, and it's an enjoyable way to kill some time if you're looking for some 90s action fluff.

Cyber Tracker 2

Special agent Eric Phillips is living a relatively peaceful life with his new wife and home. This calm is shattered when Connie seems to assassinate a senator on live TV. Now wanted for questioning himself, Eric must find his wife before the lethal Cyber Trackers do, and uncover the truth of a sinister conspiracy...

Cyber Tracker 2 is a real pleasant surprise after its middling predecessor! While the first film wasn't exactly A-list, the sequel has more of a Direct-to-video feel. Far from being a bad thing, I quite liked this, and thought it brought a fun quality. There's more of an effort to make things look futuristic here. From the costumes, to weaponry, even the trackers themselves look more like robots

There's a genuine progression here, both as characters and as a world. The continuity does feel slightly reset, with a couple of minor differences. But not in a bad way. There are still trackers, despite the events of the last film, which was a bit confusing. And one of them even has a friendly rapport with Eric, including a running exchange that you can predict from a mile away.

The story here is decent enough, following a similar template to the first, but with enough new or different details to shakes things up a little. And any similarities shouldn't be a bother anyway, if you see this as like a better redo of the first film

Cyber Tracker 2 definitely pleases on the action front. It's both plentiful and good, and also very cheesy! The film opens with a bang, with 8 police officers killed! The hero and police chief hold casual conversations afterward too, as if there hasn't just been the greatest police massacre of the year.

This isn't the last time the film's like this either. The bad guys send a robot double of Eric to the police station, massacring literally everyone there just to kill one man who might know to much! This bit goes way too far, straight into ridiculous territory. It's hilariously unsubtle, and hinges entirely on Eric not already being there, as well as no-one asking obvious questions like "Hang on, how did this guy survive countless gunshots?". And it also goes without saying that this whole scene is 'inspired' by The Terminator.

Onto the characters, Eric starts off this sequel in a much improved place compared to the last. He's even grown his hair out! He soon finds himself in another tricky situation, but shoots and kicks his way through.

Connie gets moments of being a damsel, and of kicking ass in equal measure. She's in a pickle though! Ordinarily it'd be really sus if a news anchor suddenly murdered a senator, on air no less. Unfortunately it's really not a good look for Connie when she was the head of an anti-government terror cell, and is married to a man who shot a previous senator to death, also on air!

Also returning is Jared, now Eric's buddy. It's nice seeing their hostility from the last movie change to genuine friendship. It's also nice seeing him settle down from his terrorist days into being a cameraman...Ummm, just one thing though. I watched the last film, and I couldn't help but notice...Jared kinda sorta died. He was fatally shot, then used his final moments to blow up a killer robot! I was half expecting him to die here, only to return in a theoretical Cyber Tracker 3!

While most of the Trackers here are bad, we get the heroic No. 9, who has a fun rapport and is a real badass! He's got a good return in the last act, and kicks serious ass. I was worried about him when he seemed to die (in a fistfight with a random human??), but he made it out ok.

The police commissioner is a smart guy, and quickly figures out what's what, being quite proactive. He's got a cute niece to, who has some nice scenes. We also have a return of an upgraded Aggie, Eric's home AI. Her presence felt like a nice link between movies.

The villains get the job done, and have good interplay, with the senator growing increasingly afraid of his corporate partner, with good reason. Main baddie Morgan gets one particularly great villainous moment.

The climax is plenty of fun. We've got gunplay, kickboxing, shirts being undone for no reason, girl-on-girl action, bad one liners and freezing people solid, the works. There's one femme fatale who actually dies when shot, which was a surprise. No dragging things out for her. Eric must go up against Morgan's 'masterpiece'-The ultimate robot. It's featured too little and is destroyed too quickly, though in a satisfyingly different way (a giant laser rather than yet more gunfire and explosions). There's a little confrontation with Morgan after, which is alright.

The ending is light and cheesy, especially with the culmination of the 'Eric' exchanges. Sadly we never see Aggie or the commissioner's niece again, but ah well, still a good wrap-up, with no loose ends.

As low budget as it is, Cyber Tracker 2 manages to look good. The near-future setting does ask a bit, but the 'near' part smooths over a lot. The weapons, computers, and other little touches give off a decently high-tech vibe. The film goes overboard with the pyrotechnics, even more than the previous film. It has more than enough explosions, yet someone behind the scenes must have thought otherwise, because some stock footage from the previous entry is spliced into one scene. It's really clumsy, almost surreal!

The action is all filmed well for the most part, minus some scenes being lit a bit too dark. There's not a huge amount of hand-to-hand combat, but what there is looks alright. That's the overall problem though in a movie about bulletproof robots. Not many opportunities for kickboxing!

The cast here do a decent job. Wilson is a reliable action hero, and gets to go bad as the robot double, complete with a black turtleneck of evil. A surprisingly clean-shaven Anthony de Longis is a good villain! Stacie Foster is fine again, Steve Burton is alright as the sidekick, and Tony Burton is good as the grizzled older black chief. Peggy McIntaggart and Eboni Adams are fun in their small roles, and John Kassir (the Cryptkeeper himself) has a supporting part, and will either entertain or annoy with his distinct voice. The villains are amusingly evil, and Jim Maniaci gets a meatier part as the trackers this time, particularly as No. 9.

Cyber Tracker 2 has a few issues, some of which are inherited, some are new, but overall I think it does a better job at portraying this world than the first. If you're only gonna watch one Cyber Tracker flick, make it this one.