Here it is: the movie Bad Movie websites everywhere are obliged to review if they want to flesh out the “Y” sections of their archives. It’s certainly worthy, nominated for three Razzie Awards, including Worst Original Song, Worst Score (it “lost” both to The Lonely Lady) and quite-unfairly-named Worst New Star (he “lost” to Lou Ferrigno).
Not that Reb Brown isn’t a star in his own, strange right. But by 1983 Brown was a long way from “new.” He built up quite the career catching bit parts on every 1970s TV show you might actually remember. Scratch The Six Million Dollar Man, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Rockford Files or Happy Days with enough force and you’ll find Reb Brown already there. But fame is a fickle bitch, unwilling to give Reb the time of day even after he played Captain America. Twice.
The 70s were a spiteful decade, driven by desperation…but at least that drove innovation. Occasionally, a truly weird experiment in movie lunacy (like Reb Brown’s first movie, the turning-men-into-snakes epic Sssssss) escaped the wreckage of Hollywood’s old studio system. But the 80s saw Reb slumming more and more as the character of the times changed. The desperate spite of 70s gave way to the angry spite of the 80s, a trend exemplified in the rise of the American Action Movie. Like an intergalactic race of cyborgs, Action Movies rose to international prominence by assimilating everything in its path. Our culture adapted to service theirs. Resistance was futile. And Reb didn’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind was blowing. Continue reading Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983)→
So Captain America II (no subtitle in the opening credits) opens with a standard TV credit sequence: a slide show of the main cast, punctuated by a shot from later of Cap popping a wheelie on his rocket bike. Once the four leads are given their due the rest of the credits play out atop…aww crap! It’s the same driving footage that opened the first film! NoooOOOOOOO! Already I’m having flashbacks! Somebody make it stop!
Once the deja vu subsides we catch up to Steve Rogers (still Reb Brown) drawing portraits in an L.A. park as black men in short shorts roller skate through the background carrying ghetto blasters. Steve’s current client is an old woman, Mrs. Shaw (Susan French) who tells him about how the local muggers are making trouble for the local pensioners every time they cash their checks…because this is still the 70s, when (for all their Evil) corporations still paid pensioners on an actually-regular basis. Steve tells her to go cash her check and, when the thugs descend, Captain America is there to lay a re-introductory action sequence down on their candied asses. (So much for that secret identity, huh?) Continue reading Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979)→
Time for me to come clean and admit I never really liked Captain America. I don’t hate him, no matter how many times I joke about him being a fascist propaganda tool…or a rampaging national id who only exists to spout jingoistic platitudes and win Marvel some gratuitous Patriot Points. Beneath all that I really do understand his appeal.
But come on. Really, what’s so special about Steve Rogers? Line him up with all the other great heroes of the early 40s and compare. Doc Savage is a memory. The Shadow‘s a hallow catch phrase. The Phantom had a movie, but that starred Billy Zane and took fifty years to make. Yet here’s this blond hunk of apple pie, no matter how long you leave him frozen in ice he’ll always pop right off the operating table, ready to kick ass and take names… in America! Or anywhere else S.H.E.I.L.D. needs him.
Ah, but once…back in the Golden Age of Superhero Movies…Marvel tried to update good ol’ Steve for the Masses. Make him hip and relevant for a broader, TV audience that had ignored comic books entirely until Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman and Lou Ferrigno’s Incredible Hulksmashed their way onto CBS in 1975 and ’77, respectively. Heck, even though it’s 2011, I’m still technically this TV movie’s target audience, so why not, eh? Continue reading Captain America (1979)→