Police Under Siege – In Honor of ‘The Last Stand’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
Walking Tall is the fictionalized story of Buford Pusser. “Who was Buford Pusser?” younger readers might ask.
If the internet had existed in the early ‘70s Buford Pusser would have been its Chuck Norris meme. He waged a one-man war on crime and corruption throughout his time as sheriff of McNairy County, Tennessee. During his tenor he was stabbed seven times, shot eight, hit by a car and shot and killed two people. He also once wrestled a grizzly bear…and won.
Which admittedly begs the question…is anyone’s life exciting enough that Hollywood doesn’t feel the need to fictionalize it? Again – he wrestled a grizzly bear. That’s some Paul Bunyan shit, right there.
He was played by Joe Don Baker in the film but Pusser was so larger than life that the studio was planning a sequel with starring Buford Pusser as Buford Pusser. Until he crashed his car into a tree and died thereby answer the age old question: Which is tougher – a bear or a tree?
Assigned to a mining colony on one of Jupiter’s moons, Marshall O’Neil quickly discovers a series of mysterious deaths. When he realizes it’s the mining company behind the deaths all that’s left for him to do is wait for the next shuttle to arrive – a shuttle stocked full of the company’s trained killers.
That’s right….it’s High Noon in space. In space…no one can hear you plagiarize. And speaking of Alien, the move throws in a touch of that for good measure. Even the movie’s tag line is reminiscent of Alien: “Even in space, the ultimate enemy is man.”
And just in case High Noon wasn’t left leaning enough for you – this time they throw in a dash of anti-capitalism.
What’s that? A crime-ridden Detroit? The hell, you say! That’s the futuristically fantastical premise of RoboCop. Oh, and a dead guy resurrected as a gun-toting, crime-fighting cyborg.
For a B-level, mid-‘80s sci-fi flick, you sure get a lot for your money. It somehow manages to cram a Christ allegory, a rumination on the effects of capitalism on urban decay, a deconstruction on the devolution of mass media and a treatise on the existential dilemma of the modern man into its scant 102 minute runtime. All while managing to be a scathing tongue-in-cheek satire of American culture.
Oh, and it also kicks ass.
It’s easy to forget all that given the deluge of sequels, TV series and Saturday morning cartoons that would follow. Heck, they were so unprotective of the brand that they even let this happen:
I know you thought that you had dreamed that. But, sad to say, it really happened.
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
If came here after listening to KTRS then here’s your bonus film – Assault on Precinct 13. Shot in just 20-days this is an early entry in the oeuvre of director John Carpenter. It’s a low-budget inspired by none other than…Rio Bravo. In fact, Carpenter (who also served as editor on the film) took his editing screen credit using the name “John T. Chance”…the name of John Wayne’s character in that classic western. Carpenter wanted to make a western but, given his modest funding, he knew he could never stage a period piece. So he moved things to the present day.
When police kill some local gang members the gang vows to exact their revenge. A handful of cops retreat to a virtually abandoned police station where they are deluged by a seemingly never ending swarm of criminals. If it sounds familiar you might remember its 2005 remake. Or, if you’re particularly astute, you might realize the Carpenter himself lifted this story wholesale and put it in space for 2001’s Ghosts of Mars.