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B-Sides: Ultron Returns to the Age of Tuff Turf

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B-Sides: Ultron Returns to the Age of Tuff TurfThe announcement that James Spader had been cast as the villainous Ultron in The Avengers: Age of Ultron spawned countless Less than Zero jokes on social media. Me? I see The Avengers sequel as a Tuff Turf reunion.

Two years before James Spader and Robert Downey, Jr., co-starred in the movie adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis’ Less than Zero, the duo co-starred in a true guilty pleasure entitled Tuff Turf. If you were to look back to the Eighties and try to pick a single movie that is the most 1980s movie ever, a strong argument could be made in favor of 1985’s Tuff Turf. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another film of the era more dripping with Nu Wave music and fashion, Reagan era preppie angst, 80’s teen comedy, and the sort of white suburban street gangs that now look positively cartoonish in our post-Boyz in the Hood world.

James Spader plays a rebel truly without a cause from a formerly rich family forced to move from their yacht-clubbing Connecticut lifestyle to the middle-class suburbs of the San Fernando Valley. Oh, the horror!

Spader’s preppie troublemaker falls for a cute almost-glam rock girl from the wrong side of the tracks (played by current “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” cast member Kim Richards), whose boyfriend is the leader of a street gang that doesn’t look like it would have put up much of a fight against the street toughs from Rumble in the Bronx.

Along the way he also makes friends with future Iron Man, Robert Downey, Jr.

By the end of the film, his girlfriend has been beaten up, his dad is still in critical condition after having been shot, Downey has also been shot, and somehow Spader is going to have to explain to the cops the carnage in this warehouse after his fight to the death with the gang. But since Tuff Turf is such an odd mix of teen drama, teen comedy, and action thriller that wants to send the audience home happy, no sooner has Spader slain his psychotic arch nemesis than the movie cuts to the super upbeat end credits musical number with Spader, Richards, and Downey enjoying the film’s theme song performed by Jack Mack and the Heart Attack. “So Tuff” has got to be the peppiest song to ever close a movie about violent teenage street gangs.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron is scheduled to hit theaters in 2015: the 30th anniversary of Tuff Turf.

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B-Sides

B-Sides: The Talons of the Eagle Challenge

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B-Sides: The Talons of the Eagle ChallengeThis weekend’s B-Sides is the theme song to the 1992 direct-to-video action movie Talons of the Eagle. This song is not for your listening pleasure. This song is a dare – a challenge. Can you listen to the whole thing from beginning to end?

I have never seen Talons of the Eagle. Kind of surprising given it starred Billy Blanks and I was all about those cheesy direct-to-video action movies around the time this came out. The Devil’s Rejects‘ Priscilla Barnes co-stars, and here’s the plot according to the IMDb:

After three DEA agents are killed by Mr. Li (James Hong), martial arts champion Tyler Wilson (Blanks) is sent on assignment to Toronto and teams up with Michael Reed (Jalal Merhi). Wilson and Reed enter a martial arts tournament, where they end up saving Mr. Li from being killed by a rival crime boss. Li invites the two to join his staff. As Wilson and Reed get closer to the truth about Li’s operation, they gather the needed evidence but will have to escape Li, alive.

I stumbled upon this B-Sides by complete happenstance when I went to YouTube and decided to see what would come up if I typed in “Worst Movie Theme Song.” Is this the worst movie theme song of all time as the video’s upload page proclaims? Probably not. But it certainly makes a compelling argument.

You have been warned. Do you dare listen to “Talons of the Eagle” from the motion picture Talons of the Eagle? And if so, will you last all two and a half minutes before deciding your ears have suffered enough?

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B-Sides: Sing a Song of Yeti, Giant of the 20th Century

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B-Sides: Sing a Song of Yeti, Giant of the 20th CenturyPrepare for the most indescribable theme song to a schlocky European b-movie since Yor, the Hunter from the Future! Prepare to witness more Yeti crotch than the eyes can handle! Prepare for the theme to the 1977 Italian-Canadian King Kong knock-off Yeti, Giant of the 20th Century!

One of the most entertaining bad movies of the 1970’s, Yeti, Giant of the 20th Century is an Italian production shot in Canada and then badly dubbed into English that was designed to piggyback off the success of the previous year’s King Kong remake.

Watching Yeti, Giant of the 20th Century is like watching King Kong after licking too many toads. The monster is an actor with an extremely expressive face attired in a fur suit with a head of puffy hair that would make Tina Turner proud.

Thawed out from several millennia of sleep, the Abominable Snowman bonds with a boy, develops the hots for a girl, becomes all the rage in Canada, and earns the wrath of the energy cartels after his likeness becomes a financial boondoggle for a jolly oil baron. While the “8th Wonder of the World” on film has climbed up the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center, and even Tokyo Tower, when the “Giant of the 20th Century” goes berserk, he climbs down the tallest hotel in all of Toronto.

I consider it something of a travesty that Yeti, Giant of the 20th Century has been allowed to fall into the crevices of cinematic obscurity. You listening, Shout Factory? This one has everything: an old scientist who dresses like “Where’s Waldo?”, a billionaire who looks like Norm from “Cheers” dressed like old school Doctor Who, a mute kid, Lassie, highly-paid corporate assassins that seem more like small-time crooks from a Seventies cop show, giant phone booth mid-air monster defrosting, fishbone hair brushing, hotel rooftop photo ops, elevator yo-yo’ing, death by toe jam, fake monster foot fu, out of scale models, terrible green screen effects, even worse dubbing, some of the greatest movie monster facial expressions of all time, and more Yeti crotch to fill the screen than you ever thought one movie could deliver.

It also has that special something that elevates any b-movie to the upper echelon of schlock: an unforgettable theme song.

How does one even describe the Yeti, Giant of the 20th Century theme? Part of the difficulty stems from not even being entirely sure what the lyrics are much of the time. The music itself – what style of music is that? Hasidic disco? Performed by a band created specifically for the film appropriately named The Yetians; the only thing about this group I am certain of is English cannot possibly be their first language.

You can thank (or blame) me for the music video accompanying this indescribable song. I set out to string a series of scenes together to try to tell the story of the movie in order; and without even trying, somehow, some of the movie moments I chose strangely sync up with the song, even if only ironically.

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B-Sides: It’s Yor’s World! He’s the Man!

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B-Sides: It's Yor’s World! He’s the Man!Yor, the Hunter from the Future isn’t just a bad movie; it’s that special breed of stupendously fun bad that leaves a lasting impression, and nothing about Yor left more of an impression on me than its astounding, borderline incomprehensible, rock anthem theme song.

Reb Brown looks more like Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s Spicoli than any sort of prehistoric barbarian, running around the land before time in furry boots and loin cloth, setting out on a journey to learn the truth of his lineage.

In between romancing a sexy cave girl and a sexy space girl, Yor’s quest for fire will see him battling dinosaurs, Neanderthals, Dark Helmet look-a-like cyborgs, and futuristic spacemen living on an Atlantis-like island ruled by a goateed man in a black cloak called The Overlord, whom York eventually kills via impalement with a piece of a giant candy cane.

People always talk about how Hollywood should remake bad movies that possessed the elements needed for a good movie rather than constantly redoing great, classic movies that still hold up. Yor, the Hunter from the Future is precisely the kind of movie Hollywood should be remaking. You’ve got cavemen, spacemen, sorcery, dinosaurs, spaceships, laser guns, Vaderoids, and a hero who uses a pterodactyl as a hang glider. What more do you need?

How about one of the greatest bad movie theme songs of all time? Yep, you get that, too.

“Yor’s World”: the nearly indescribable, almost indecipherable Euro-Turkish rock anthem that opens and closes the movie as well as constantly heralding Yor’s triumph throughout the film in ways typically reserved for a b-movie soundtrack composed by Queen. What modern band could do justice to this song if ever there were a remake? Muse, perhaps? I’m drawing a blank.

Watch the video below with the lyrics included and marvel knowing those are the actual song lyrics and not the product of a new “Bad Lip Reading” video.

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