Full Eclipse (1993)
As a little kid, the only way I knew of Mario Van Peebles was as Michael Brody’s ‘Jamaican’ friend in Jaws: The Revenge. Not a great way to make an impression. Then, he directed the drug crime thriller New Jack City and black western Posse. He was not really a great actor or director. But, he had a presence and unlike today’s Katherine Heigl, I was able to keep his stuff on and at least watch it all the way through, being at least moderately entertained (Jaws: The Revenge notwithstanding). So, low and behold, you couldn’t imagine how much it surprised me the first time I saw a promo in 1993 for this little film called Full Eclipse while watching HBO one night. This film is an action/horror yarn also starring the beautiful Patsy Kensit (Lethal Weapon 2). I recently revisited this film and decided it would make a great review for people who have never heard of it. But, has it held up over the years?
Peebles plays Max Dire, an LA Police detective whose marriage is not exactly on the best track, but his track record as a cop is undeniable. After his partner Jim tells him he is getting married and thinking of leaving the force, they get a call on a hostage situation in downtown LA. After his Jim gets shot, Dire shoots up the whole set of hostage takers by himself. Jim is now in a coma, but one night someone goes into his hospital room and injects him with a mysterious liquid. The next day, much to Max’s shock, Jim is back at work, stronger than ever, taking down a drug raid looking like, as Max puts it, “a bionic X-Men.” Shortly after Jim tells Dire he is leaving his relationship with his fiancé, he shoots himself in front of him. After his wife leaves for Houston to spend a week with her mom, Dire gets summoned by a man named Adam Garou (Bruce Payne) to join his set of vigilante police officers. After explaining his desires for a safer world, Galou takes Dire to watch his group work. And, watching in shock through night-vision goggles, Max notices the pack flat out destroying the group led by a crime lord named Teague, growing claws from their knuckles and letting out howls with distorted faces. Resisting the urge at first, he gets pressed into it by Casey (Patsy Kensit) when after making love; she shoots him with a gun and injects him with the serum. As he feels the strength and allure that the drug brings him, Dire gets neck deep into what Galou and his intentions are really about, and realizes he is the only one who can stop him.
This film was co-written by Richard Christian Matheson (son of the legendary I Am Legend scribe, Richard Matheson) and directed by Anthony Hickox (Hellraiser 3). I am happy to say that for the most part, it holds up rather well. It has some pretty violent effects, and the suggestion of a werewolf police group is actually pretty cool. Unfortunately, there is also one pretty badly done, far behind its time transformation scene and some of the movie’s logic from scene to scene is quite frankly non-existent. However, it is a pretty pleasurable hour and a half, which is also infused with a real listenable, almost John Carpenter-ish score by Gary Chang. Peebles is watchable enough, and Payne (Passenger 57) is a slimy bad guy. Sure, there is a cheesy reference to the late 80s, early 90s slogan“this is your brain on drugs,” but the dialogue isn’t bad either. It is also clever naming the main bad guy Garou, which is a middle French word that means
I must say, this movie is cheesy and mostly forgotten, but after An American Werewolf In London set the standard in 1981, any movie with werewolves was an anomaly back in the early 90s. For anyone looking for a cheesy good time, I recommend this film. Which, if watched back to back with Dog Soldiers, would make for a fun night.