Day 01: 80’s Action!
King Solomon’s Mines (1985)
Kicking off Junesploitation with Day 1’s prompt ’80’s Action!’ and what better place to start some exploitation viewing than with the crown jewel of cheap cinema, Cannon Films. When Cannon wanted to feed off the success of Indiana Jones and the Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981) and Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom (1984) they decided to find a well known character in Allan Quatermain and make him their own Indiana Jones with King Solomon’s Mines (1985). How does this one stack up as a bit of a rip off to those adventure films? It is actually a fairly fun and enjoyable ride for the most part, blending elements from those two Indiana Jones films to come up with something truly unique to the Cannon brand.
The film sees Jesse Huston (Sharon Stone) team up with adventurer Allan Quartermain (Richard Chamberlain) to find her missing father, but come up against Colonel Bockner (Herbert Lom) and Dogati (John Rhys-Davies) whom want to find the fabled King Solomon’s mines and Jesse’s lost father may have found the map. Props must be given for casting John Rhys-Davies in a villainous role here after his turn as Sallah in Raiders, he is actually quite a lot of fun as Dogati and shines whenever he is on screen. Chamberlain makes for a strong lead as Quartermain, showing off some suave charisma and not taking this role seriously. Sharon Stone fairs better than say the character of Willie Scott from Temple Of Doom, she adds a bit of spice to a character that could have easily been annoying on screen.
Despite the low budget, King Solomon’s Mines has some fun action set pieces that don’t feel run of mill and generally don’t have that cheap feel. They certainly made full use of whatever budget they had with the action on screen, packing it in at the right moments to keep a steady pace. It is overly silly at times, culturally insensitive and a little sexist, but it is difficult to feel offended by it when the cheese just oozes from the screen. There are moments where the low budget is very apparent, and some of the acting is a little over the top and perhaps too silly but overall it is a fun little film and a great introduction for any Cannon Films newbies.
Day 02: Slashers!
The Prowler (1981)
On to Day 2 of Junesploitation with the prompt ‘Slasher!’ and while there are many slasher films that could be picked, chosen here is The Prowler (1981) a film by Joseph Zito. The slasher film really made a big splash in the 70s and 80s, with many low budget films getting released to the masses. The Prowler is a film that isn’t often mentioned within the genre, perhaps over shadowed by the bigger names and film series like A Nightmare On Elm Street, Halloween and Friday The 13th, but this is quite the gem of a horror film.
The film begins in the 40s where a double murder happens on the night of a Graduation Dance by an unknown figure dressed in Army fatigues and using a pitch fork. Fast forward to 30+ years later and the town is once again holding a special Graduation Dance, after not having it since the murders. College student Pam MacDonald (Vicky Dawson) is preparing for the dance with her friends and mildly flirting with Deputy Mark London (Christopher Goutman). Little do they know the horrors of the past are about to come back to the town, with a figure in those same Army fatigues picking them off one by one. Will they solve the mystery and stop the murders?
The Prowler is a step above the regular run of the mill slasher film, with an intriguing premise and a fairly solid cast. The work by Tom Savini is amongst some of his best, the kills hit extremely hard and they don’t shy away from the brutality. There is a dream like aura throughout the scenes, with some impressive cinematography work that elevates the really intense scenes. The cast are mostly quite solid, with Christopher Goutman being the stand out and Vicky Dawson makes for a fine ‘final girl’ of sorts. The pacing of the film is a little off, some moments take far too long and fail to build up the right tension however when the pacing is good, it really packs a punch. This is a film that should be talked about more than it seems to be, it is quite the impressive slasher film and a highlight of 80s horror films. It slides in some interesting and serious themes that whilst not fully explored certainly leaves its audience much to ponder.
Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea
Please check out FThisMovie.net, with many thanks to the crew for the concept of Junesploitation and some excellent prompts for 2021!