Wednesday, August 31, 2016

VHS WEDNESDAY with David Carradine in David Prior's FUTURE FORCE (1989)

A couple weeks ago ER contributor Evan Romero wrote up his initial impressions of David Prior's shot-on-video head-scratcher SLEDGEHAMMER and it sent me scrambling back through the ER-chives for my own review. While scanning the review I noticed that I mentioned a couple other Prior credits including FUTURE FORCE with David Carradine and Robert Tessier... which I'd just grabbed during a men's action novel and VHS haul at a local thrift store. In other words, The Trash Gods were informing me that 1989's FUTURE FORCE was next up in the VHS Wednesday rotation.

Set in the really not very distant future of 1991 (!), FUTURE FORCE posits a world where crime is out of control. Prisons are overloaded, gun battles take place in our streets and the privatization of law and order by the Civilian Operated Police State (or COPS) has pretty much meant the death of justice as we know it. On the mean streets of 1991 you're presumed guilty until proven innocent, although you still have to go to the DMV.

"Action superstar" David Carradine stars as John Tucker, the COPS-iest of the COPS, a nut-punching, teeth-busting, denim-wearing, paunchy badass who gets intel from wheelchair-bound Billy (shades of Oracle!) and keeps a bionic arm complete with cool computer lightning effects and a laser in the trunk of his car.

Carradine isn't happy with either the state of COPS or the condition of his fellow cops and it's easy to see why. They spend most of their down time in sleazy strip clubs and they're all pretty out of shape. (The flick practically screams for the presence of the one and only Rick Dean as Carradine's boozy sidekick.)

When a nosy reporter threatens to expose COPS, the company's CEO puts a $100,000 bounty on her head for the crime of treason and it ends up pitting the bored-looking Carradine against his fellow bounty hunters once he's declared "wanted dead or alive".

Borderline entertaining and slightly Troma-esque, my viewing of FUTURE FORCE was helped out considerably by a couple glasses of high-powered viewing booze (aka pints of 9% ABV Troegs Nimble Giant) and a brief appearance by Dawn Wildsmith and the most outrageous mall hair this side of South Jersey circa 1984.

Points off for no trailers at the beginning of the flick but bonus points for a scenery chewing performance from Robert Tessier (THE LONGEST YARD's Mr. Shokner) and the great 80s/90s villain attire worn by COPS CEO Jason Adams (DEADLY PREY's William Zipp). If only the action had been more kung-fu than kung-eh, but really we just want to see Carradine and the remote control arm take out the baddies.

Not the off-the-wall action spectacle I was hoping for from Prior, but just what you need when your daughter and her friends are tying up the big screen TV with a Harry Potter movie. Prior also directed the 1990 followup FUTURE ZONE in which John Tucker's son (Ted Prior, the director's brother) goes back in time to save Papa John (Carradine) from being killed by thugs. And, yes, I need my head examined because I'm actively in search of a copy of the sequel.

In the meantime, David Carradine will visit a future VHS Wednesday in CRIME ZONE (with Sherilyn Fenn) and we'll go back to the future with FUTURE WAR (starring Daniel Bernhardt) and FUTURE FEAR (with the killer cast of Jeff Wincott, Maria Ford and Stacy Keach!). – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of Exploitation Retrospect and a contributor to the recently published book, KLAUS KINSKI, BEAST OF CINEMA: Critical Essays and Fellow Filmmaker Interviews (McFarland). He last wrote about THE AMBULANCE for Throwback Thursday.

FUTURE FORCE is available via Amazon, ebay and finer thrift stores everywhere.

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