Monday, April 30, 2007

Reader Pop Art # 4

Now here's something truly special! It's either pop art or commercial camp, but either way, it arrives here courtesy of my favorite tin-can collector (!), The House Between's Arlo, Jim Blanton. Jim - a movie buff and scholar (he gave me a copy of Michael Mann's The Keep while I was writing Horror FIlms of the 1980s...not to mention Street Trash and Hell of the Living Dead) - has penned for us today a wonderful treatise about the glories of the movie poster for...Megaforce (1982). Deeds, not words...

Jim writes:

Perhaps a controversial choice, but Megaforce remains one of the most prominently remembered posters of my misspent movie going youth in the 80’s. For anyone who didn’t come of age in that decade Megaforce is probably a tad puzzling, but if you were an adolescent boy in 1982 you were bombarded with this image on the back of every comic book/genre magazine you read that glorious summer. Yes, the good folks at 20th Century Fox wanted to be sure that all of us pre-teen boys would sign on for the first of Ace Hunter’s sure-to-be-many adventures. Consequently, no expense was spared in convincing us we had never come across a hero like this fellow . . . boy were they right!

Whoever had the bright idea to cast Barry Bostwick as the tough-as-nails leader of a clandestine military strike force must have been seriously impaired during the audition process. One look at Bostwick in his far-too-tight spandex uniform, not to mention his ever-present baby blue headband, and it was game, set, and match for Monsieur Hunter. He may have been a suitable Brad in Rocky Horror, but he certainly didn’t fit the bill of a Rambo-esque superhero.

And then there’s the sultry image of Persis Khambatta. There’s no mystery as to why she appears this way on the poster, but not in the film. Someone at marketing got a look at Bostwick and knew right away they had to assure moviegoers that Ace Hunter was 100% a ladies’ man. No better way than to have the lovely Khambatta on his arm in saucy evening wear.

Okay, we’re clear on who the leads are in the picture (for better or worse), but what else is going on? Well, you have random explosions and a host of interesting vehicles leaping off the page, with an arching banner that proclaims “deeds not words!” If this doesn’t scream pure cheese, I don’t know what does. Deeds not words? Deeds not words?!? Pretty bold talk for a movie that features defiantly wooden performances from practically everyone involved.

And speaking of those involved, moving on down the poster we find quite a roster of ne’er do wells. It’s a veritable who’s who of Z-grade 80’s action stars. Beyond the aforementioned Bostwick you have Michael Beck (putting the final nails in the coffin lid following Xanadu), Edward Mulhare (aka Devin from Knight Rider), and the coup de grace . . . “Henry Silva as Guerera.” And as an added bonus (not listed on the poster) you even get Evan Kim from The Kentucky Fried Movie to drive home the point that Megaforce accepts members from all nations (although the ranks look to be mostly from the Midwestern United States).

As we near the bottom, we get a few final pieces of crucial, technical information. Firstly, the film was helmed by Hal Needham. Unfortunately this was Stroker Ace era Needham, rather than Smokey and the Bandit era Needham. Secondly, we learn that Needham utilized a process called Introvision to produce certain sequences in the film. From what I can deduce, Introvision is code for really crappy blue screen effects. Truly, you should seek this one out just to witness perhaps the most uncalled for blue screen sequences in motion picture history! The grand finale is the stuff of legend.

So with all this having been said, why does the Megaforce poster rate as one of the greatest pieces of film advertising/pop art ever conceived? Because my friends it is honest . . . with a vengeance. The information is all there in the poster for you to see – nothing is hidden. Indeed, the filmmakers are telling you in no uncertain terms that this is Megaforce – deal with it! If you were foolish enough to pay good money to waltz into a theater to see an action film starring Barry Bostwick, directed by Hal Needham, featuring Introvision (particularly in the same summer that you could pop into the auditorium next door and see Blade Runner, The Thing, Star Trek 2, Conan, Poltergeist, Tron, etc.) then you were getting exactly what you deserved!

(Note: In the interest of full disclosure the author feels it necessary to confess to not only seeing Megaforce in the theater that summer, but to owning a complete set of the Matchbox vehicles and the Atari video game . . . deeds not words baby!)


  1. Anonymous10:56 AM

    Well, at least he didn't send you the poster for Gymkata!

  2. Anonymous5:22 PM

    A fine second choice to be sure! Although it doesn't have the "deeds not words" tagline, it does make the equally absurd pronouncement that "Kurt Thomas becomes John Cabot" in the not-to-be-missed theatrical trailer.

  3. Anonymous2:05 AM

    Bostwick as a badass? Definitely an absurd curio if there ever was one. Thanks, Mr. Blanton, and I must say, any man who hooks up a friend with a copy of "Street Trash", to bask in all of its face-melting glory, or "The Keep", is a friend indeed. "The Keep" is truly some kind of surrealistic masterpiece, with its breathtaking opening(I love the shot of the girl being pulled from the path of the trucks), otherwordly and quotable dialogue. And every time I see Sir Ian McKellen on the tube, it's "You have lied, deceived...".
    Anyway, good taste, and great work as Arlo.

  4. At the time I was really impressed with Introvision effects, but mainly because the idea of doing "in-camera" composites (people stood in front of Scotchlite screens, and the compositing occurred in real time, rather than being added later) fascinated me. The results didn't look particularly great, though, I must admit. Occasionally, in fact, they looked downright awful. 976-EVIL, for example, had a conclusion in which the scale of the composited actors was WAY wrong for the size of the background. I always wondered how they could have gotten it so wrong, when the camera operator could literally look on a viewscreen during filming and see exactly how it was going.


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