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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Abraxas: Guardian Of The Universe

This movie is the difference between shit and crap. However it somehow transcends how bad it is and goes from its intended interspacial action film plot line into a low class unintentional comedy. This is one of those movies everybody hears about or sees in a five dollar bin but leaves it be. While that is probably working out pretty well for most of you, this film is actually worth the time it takes to watch it. How can you argue with a sci fi action yarn shot in rural Canada featuring Jesse "The Body" Ventura running to and fro with a rat tail precariously dangling off the back of his scalp? As it was probably/thankfully only released on home video there does not appear to be any trailer for it so tough bickies friends. But I CAN show you the poster before it's time for plot synopsis.

Here goes:

Is that not a great looking poster or what!?! My friend Gale is obsessed with this movie (and it is thanks to him that I finally saw it after years of curiosity). It's pretty much one of his favorite films and he even owns a small UK vhs release poster for it that he keeps framed on his wall. With dedication like that how can I not give a shout out where and when it is due?

Apparently the plot has something to do with Abraxas (Jessie Ventura) and his 9,000 (Literally! His character is that old!) year old ass having to track down his former partner turned renegade Secundus (Played by Sven-Ole Thorson, who has a cameo in pretty much every Schwarzenegger movie from Conan The Barbarian onwards) as he runs amok on earth looking for this child he begat some years previous somewhere in the boonies of Ontario. In this child's brain (referred to as the co-mater, or as all the Canucks in the cast say it "kohmayder") lies the "anti life equation" which if unlocked gives the wielder the unlimited power of destruction beyond imagination. Only Abraxas can rescue the child and stop the impending wrath of the mighty Secundus...

Sounds simple/kitschy enough to work to me, and somehow it manages to by some force of magic we are seldom privy to in the vast and often lackluster annals of C minus level science fiction cinema. Lots and lots of completely ludicrous and/or completely awkward bullshit happens every few minutes here. I can't even begin to explain all of it, but with the aid of some helpful youtube clips minus any setup whatsoever I think you might be able to get the basic idea. Seriously this shit has to be seen to be believed....

Hang on, wow! Really? Yes. Jim Belushi also has a rather flaccid cameo as the school principle as a favor to his then wife who plays the female lead Sonia. He is of course prominently featured on the back of the box in a calculated effort to make someone believe that he has a far bigger part to play. Well, he doesn't. The purposefully set up and several times referenced would be romance between the sheriff and Sonia is not only completely abandoned for no reason whatsoever but is completely and illogically replaced by putting Abraxas in place as the love interest. I was completely flabbergasted to say the least because "The Body" ain't exactly a romantic lead when he's acting like a eunuch in a World Gym sweater. There was supposed to be a brief topless nude scene (most likely as Sonia gets out of the shower at one point, much to the confusion of Abraxas' boner) to get the film down to an R rating. Assumedly seeing some tits put this up to an X necessitating it's removal, what the fuck was wrong with the censors in the early 90's? It's low budget sci fi bullshit and we want to see at least one boob. Throw us a bone over here...

One (un)interesting tidbit for the truest of true film nerds is the appearance during the climactic fight between Abraxas and Secundus of the song "Strong As I Am" by the band The Prime Movers. This song appeared earlier (for the first and I thought only time cinematically) in Michael Mann's 1986 film Manhunter. Provided here are the respective scenes from each movie. You may notice that one looks slick and the other looks like an oil spill, but I bet The Prime Movers were stoked to get that ten bucks worth of royalties from this.

First up, the Abraxas scene:

Next, the song as it accompanies Manhunter:

See? I told you so. I know I don't have to ask which one you prefer, but back to the subject at hand. From what I understand this movie is basically public domain, because I don't think anybody had the balls after 1993 to renew the copyright. This movie is actually a masterpiece of trying to take itself seriously. It's maybe the closest non horror film I've seen made this far after the 70's that still manages to cling to the "I want to make a movie so bad but don't know anything about it but how hard can it be fuck it let's take out a loan from the bank and do this" exploito vibe/aesthetic. Seriously it blows my mind. You could probably engineer a drinking game over how many times a line is spoken containing the following: "answer box", "comater", or "anti-life equation" or a mix and match of all three. I guarantee you'll be completely wasted before the movie is halfway done depending upon your alcohol tolerance and whether or not you are using hard liquor to do so.

Or you could just shotgun a beer or so to this:

As I was saying, the public domain status of this film has lead to many different releases of it on DVD, pretty much all featuring pretty insipid box art. Here's a quick rouge's gallery for your viewing/judgement/ridiculing pleasure. The vhs releases all had some variation of the original poster art. The North American versions all seem to have the cropped image as on the review example, while the UK edition had the full art, replete with Sven-Ole's "I'm taking a huge painful shit" face just over Jesse's shoulder.

This DVD has the legit full poster art which was cropped for the US vhs releases. Looks pretty sick if you ask me. I'm into it:

And now on to more bargain basement covers of uncertain origin and artistic integrity...

Note how this one appears to simply be a poorly airbrushed image of Jesse that removes his oft seen mustache in order to make him look more like he does in the film. Also of note is another attempt at giving Jim Belushi top billing:

And another really excellent marketing strategy that makes it look almost exactly like the DVD cover of Total Recall. I really have to hand it to whoever did this one, except for the fact that Jesse has no damn mustache in the movie but this somehow makes this cover all the better when you really think about it:

According to the IMDB this movie was released on video in Japan in December of 1990, which is insane because it wasn't released in the US until like 1993. It also apparently had a brief US theatrical run (probably on as many screens as I can count on less than all of the fingers on one hand) in February of 1991 thereby making my earlier comment about it being direct to video redundant. I demand a screening of a legit celluloid print of this immediately. I think I've covered pretty much everything there is to cover at this point, which for a film this shitty is surprisingly a lot. As a parting shot I will leave you with a masterfully captured/edited to repeat DJ screw style slowed down clip of what my friend and I regard as THE titular scene in the film to be watched if nothing else.




  1. "Abraxus", that's a cool name. Maybe I should name my first-born son "Abraxus". Or should I see the movie first?

    Either way, it's in my queue.