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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Full Eclipse

October 21, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Full Eclipse

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #574: Full Eclipse

The 2020 October Werewolf Movie Marathon: Week 3

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never tried to jump onto the roof of a bus in order to continue pursuing a rampaging criminal, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and seventy-four, the 2020 October Werewolf Movie Marathon continues with the sci-fi horror action flick Full Eclipse, which first premiered on HBO back in very late November 1993.

Full Eclipse

FullEclipseDVD

Full Eclipse, directed by Anthony Hickox, is a movie I remember watching when it first debuted on HBO back in the late fall of 1993. Part cop action flick, part weird beard sci-fi movie, and part horror flick (due to the presence of werewolves in the story), Full Eclipse is a decent enough genre mashup that’s a bit undercooked because it just doesn’t have enough action, sci-fi nonsense, or gory, bloody horror in it. The movie is also slower than it should be (a movie like Full Eclipse should never drag but it does). However, even with those issues, Full Eclipse is plenty cool and plenty fun and the kind of movie I wish HBO still made every so often.

Full Eclipse stars Mario Van Peebles as Max Dire, a badass L.A. cop that is having relationship issues with his wife (Anna, as played by Victoria Powell) and is about to lose his partner Jim Sheldon (Tony Denison, operating under the name Anthony John Denison) to early retirement (Jim is set to get married). Max will figure it all out, though, because he’s a badass cop and taking down bad guys is what he’s all about. During a hostage situation at a nightclub where Max insists on infiltrating the building and taking down the hostage takers and Jim wants to wait for backup (that’s what happens when you’re getting married and retiring, you wimp out), Max takes out the bad guys with blinding double handgun/leaping through the air speed, and Jim gets shot multiple times, ending up in the hospital.

The next day, Jim is back on the job like nothing happened. In fact, Jim seems younger, hungrier than he did before. What the hell happened? Max has no idea, as his mind is a bit preoccupied with his wife telling their therapist that she wants a divorce. After witnessing a drive by shooting while on the job, Max and Jim spring into action to take down the bad guys, with Jim springing into action more than Max. Jim actually runs after the car the bad guys are in, leaping onto the roof of a bus and firing his gun while in pursuit. Jim has never done anything like that ever in his career. What the hell is going on with him? The pursuit of the criminals ends when Jim, after literally leaping through the air multiple times while chasing after a motorcycle the bad guys commandeer, forces the last bad guy on the motorcycle to crash head on into a wall, causing the motorcycle to explode. And Jim, after all of that, doesn’t have a mark on him. Holy fucking shit.

So Max and Jim get a major police award (a commendation for bravery or some shit), and then Max is summoned to the office of Adam Garou (Bruce Payne), a big deal cop that runs a sort of police officer in crisis program. Garou has been paying attention to Max’s issues and wants him to participate in the next group meeting. Max declines the invitation because he’s a badass cop who doesn’t need therapy or a group hug or whatever, not to mention the whole Garou gives off a weird ass vibe thing. Max would much rather go to the bar, get drunk, and hang out with his fellow cops and whatnot (one of those fellow cops is played by the great Dean Norris). While hanging out at the bar, Jim suddenly shows up, puts a gun in his mouth, and blows his fucking brains out. Why the hell would Jim do that?

So Max goes to clean up Jim’s office and finds out that Jim had been doing research into werewolves. Why would Jim do research into werewolves? And why does it appear as though Jim made his own silver bullets? Who does that? It’s at this moment that Max decides to go to Garou’s big crisis therapy meeting. Maybe it’s something that he needs to do now. Maybe.

So Max goes to the crisis therapy meeting, which is held in Garou’s apartment. There are several other cops there, including a hot blonde babe named Casey (Patsy Kensit) and Doug (future star of Chicago P.D. Jason Beghe). Max finds out pretty quickly that this crisis therapy meeting thing is just a cover for what Garou is really up to: Garou has assembled a group of cops that, every night, engage in what amounts to vigilante violence, killing criminals indiscriminately using special weapons developed by Garou. One of those special weapons is a serum that, when injected, turns a person into a practically indestructible werewolf monster. Garou invites Max to participate. Max declines, but he still tags along with Garou and his crew to see exactly what they do as killer werewolf cops. To say that it’s a slaughter would be a serious understatement (we don’t get to see all of the violence, which is a shame, but we see enough of it to know that Garou’s team is nasty as hell).

So Max goes to see his boss and tell him what Garou is really up to, and Max finds out that Garou has friends in high places in the city government and can pretty much do whatever he wants. That doesn’t sit well with Max, so he decides to do his own super undercover investigation into Garou and his history as a cop, etc. Max gets the morgue attendant to dig into Jim’s head to see what kind of bullet is still lodged in Jim’s head (it’s a silver bullet, like he suspected), and then Max goes to see Casey to interrogate her. It’s during this interrogation that Max and Casey have sex, Casey shoots Max so she can then inject him with the serum so he can heal from his fatal gunshot wounds and become a werewolf super cop, and suddenly Max is deep in the shit. He didn’t plan on actually becoming a member of Garou’s “pack.” Casey takes Max out into the city to take down some drug dealers in an abandoned house, an operation that goes swimmingly for the new werewolf super cop (his body changes, he grows werewolf claws out of his knuckles, and he kills a bunch of people).

Garou finds out what Casey did to get Max to become a member of the group and gets pissed (Garou is fine with Max being in the group, but he’s not a fan of the whole “Casey having sex with him” thing because she’s only supposed to bang the alpha of the group and that’s Garou). Now, as a full member of the group, Max finds out that Garou is after Teague (Scott Paulin), the city’s biggest mobster, and that there’s a big drug shipment coming into the city that Garou plans to intercept. That interception doesn’t go well for anyone, as several members of the pack are attacked via car bomb, and the pack kills a bunch of Teague’s men (Garou actually has a police chopper hover over Teague’s mansion and drops dead henchmen through the skylight, which is seriously fucked up).

Now, it’s at this point that Max finds out that Garou has been all over the country, basically doing the same thing: taking down vast criminal gangs, and Garou tends to do it right around a full eclipse of the moon. Garou’s fellow cops all tend to die in these operations, too. Max finds this out via one of the cops that didn’t die, Detective Tom Davies (Joseph Culp). Davies is in a jail cell and he’s all messed up because he can no longer reverse the transformation process (Davies took too much of the serum and is now sort of stuck in a “half-werewolf” mode). What the fuck?

After all of that happens, Garou’s scheme starts to fall apart. Max is hot on his trail, the chief of police and some of the other city leaders suddenly decide they no longer want Garou running roughshod over the city’s criminals, and Garou says fuck all that he’s still going to take down Teague. When Max figures out precisely what’s really going on (Garou has quite the history) he decides to create his own silver bullets and shoot Garou dead. No one’s plan really works out.

The last quarter or so of Full Eclipse is action packed, featuring a nifty full on werewolf brawl and some cool action bits, but at the same time the movie doesn’t really end the way you think it’s going to. The unpredictability of Full Eclipse is one of the things that makes it worth seeing, but, to a degree, it’s also one of the things that hinders it. If Full Eclipse had played out with Max, the hero, vanquishing the movie’s real bad guy, Garou, it probably would be more satisfying. The ending is a bit too ambiguous for its own good. Max’s motivation for taking on the pack and then infiltrating the group also could have been better defined and more obvious. I think a part of that has to do with the Max character being ill defined from the beginning. It would have been better if Max was just a cop and that’s all he cared about. He doesn’t need a wife or a girlfriend. He needs to be the super cop that Garou wants to recruit for his team. There’s also a real sense of attempted “classiness” on director Hickox’s part. The movie should have been bloodier, more action packed, and just nastier. The double handgun stuff and the people leaping through the air stuff that we do get is cool, but the movie doesn’t have enough of that kind of thing in it.

And then there’s the whole “what Garou is really up to” thing. Would a major city under siege by crime really hire a guy like Garou to put together his own local vigilante cop group to take down the bad guys? If the city was a major shithole, maybe. But the Los Angeles that we see in Full Eclipse is not the crime ridden stench pit that the movie wants us to think it is. It just isn’t. So that’s kind of weird.

Now, I get why there likely isn’t more action and gore and whatnot. The production just couldn’t afford it. Full Eclipse is a low budget TV movie and it’s probably a miracle that Hickox and company managed to get what we see in the movie. You can only do what you can with what you have to work with. I don’t want to make it seem like I’m dumping on this movie because I don’t think I am. I like Full Eclipse a lot. Anthony Hickox made a very cool movie, all things considered. But, again, I just wish it was more than it was. Why hasn’t this movie’s concept been retooled yet? You’d think HBO would be all over it right now. HBOMax needs content, horror/genre entertainment is popular, so why not dip into Full Eclipse and expand it into a TV series or a series of TV movies or something like that? Or a sequel! I bet Mario Van Peebles would be down for being a part of it again.

FullEclipseThePack

The main performances are decent. Mario Van Peebles does a good job as Max Dire. Again, Max is a bit too ill defined, but MVP makes the most of the situation and comes off as a legitimate action hero. He looks good shooting two guns, he doesn’t look like an idiot leaping through the air, and he shows everyone just how cool he could be in the dramatic scenes. I would like to know why Max says “motherfucker” a lot. Max says it so many times you could call it his catchphrase.

Bruce Payne is terrific as Garou. He just oozes malice and sleaze before you even know what Garou is all about, and then Payne somehow manages to amp up all of Garou’s horrible qualities. Payne also sells Garou’s weird beard background. And when Garou transforms into a full on werewolf? Only a guy like Payne could do it and make it not seem ridiculous. Bruce Payne is awesome.

Patsy Kensit does a fine job as Casey, the lead woman in Garou’s vigilante group. She’s sexy and mysterious right up until she reveals that she’s no longer interested in what Garou is doing, and then she becomes sympathetic. The movie could have used more of her in “sympathetic” mode.

Tony Denison is awesome as Jim, Max’s partner. He isn’t in the movie for all that long, but he gets to participate in some kick ass action sequences (the leap onto the top of the bus is a sequence you will remember forever) and that’s cool as hell. Why didn’t he do more action stuff after this movie? Did he just not get offered action parts?

Everyone else does a good job. Jason Beghe, Paula Marshall, Dean Norris, John Verea, they’re all memorable in their parts.

Full Eclipse is a very cool movie and a terrific concept. The movie could have and should have been more than it is, but considering that it’s a low budget TV movie it’s pretty good. It needed more action, more gore, and more defined characters, but I like the end result regardless of its shortcomings. I wish HBO still made this kind of movie.

See Full Eclipse. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 50.

Explosions: Multiple.

Nudity?: Maybe? There is a sex scene, but I’m not entirely sure there’s actual nudity.

Doobage: A very cool ominous opening theme, a pissed off cat, public graffiti, macho cop talk, a shootout in a night club, air duct hooey, hostage situation hooey, two gun hooey, Uzi hooey, indiscriminate shooting, multiple instances of people leaping through the air, hospital hooey, therapy hooey, syringe hooey, a donut argument, a drive by shooting, spectacular running, slow motion leap onto the roof of a bus, , the world’s most powerful Police Special .38, motorcycle stealing, motorcycle sidecar hooey, alley hooey, exploding motorcycle, silver coin melting, bullet making, talk about group therapy, public drunkenness, suicide, off screen barfing, of screen werewolf research, a group meeting that doesn’t go well, talk of justice and law and order, sweat tasting, werewolf cop vigilante massacre, guns and injections, attempted marriage, graphic bullet removal, talk of a super vaccine, impromptu sex, a verbal attack on Christian scientists for some reason, bullet to the chest, injection hooey, claws, serious throat slashing, a big crime boss meeting, balance bar training, floor sniffing, rape (possibly), a sort of surprise party, werewolf issues, attempted werewolf sex, a bad time for presents, exploding truck, dead body dropping, a funny note attached to a dead body, a funny wolf pack walking moment, a steering wheel delivery, a dying cop;, more silver bullet hooey, computer research, some bullshit about a full lunar eclipse, temple liquid removal, exposition, serious neck biting, attempted friendship, window jumping, car roof smashing, beach hooey, more injections, bullet to the head, silver nitrate hooey, another off screen massacre, a silver bullet mistake, a full on werewolf brawl, a neck injection, falling crate, exploding crate, a conversation, finger slicing, finger licking, and the prospect of a sequel that still hasn’t happened yet.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: “and Bruce Payne,” Mario Van Peebles, Mario Van Peebles as a cop, Tony Denison, Mario Van Peebles leaping through the air while firing two guns at the same time, a marriage therapist openly smoking, more Mario Van Peebles leaping through the air while firing two guns at the same time, Tony Denison leaping onto the roof of a moving bus, a “medal of valor” ceremony, Mario Van Peebles not wanting awards, Mario Van Peebles wearing a striped suit, Bruce Payne, a humanitarian award, meditation, Dean Norris playing pool, Patty Kensit, Jason Beghe, Mario Van Peebles using night vision binoculars, a trip to the zoo, graphic bullet removal, a kid playing with a Gameboy, a surprise birthday party, exploding truck, Mario Van Peebles doing computer research, Mario Van Peebles using a microfiche machine, an off screen massacre, bullet digging, Denver, and the prospect of a sequel that still hasn’t happened yet.

Best lines: “Does this shit rhyme?,” “You crazy, man. Yeah, I’m crazy but I’m horny,” “I’m getting too old for this,” “Oh, I’m fucking claustrophobic. Let’s wait for backup!,” “Red looks good on you, baby,” “And where is my fucking jet?,” “Why am I here?,” “We all lose people, Max,” “Hey, Maxipad!,” “How about you and I going out and getting some bad guys, huh?,” “Hey, Dick Tracy! Wait up!,” “You’ve been having a rough time lately?,” “Okay, man, what’s the deal?,” “Oh, shit, man, that’s got to hurt!,” “Jim!,” “Hi, Max. Welcome to the cause,” “This guy can change your life. It’s killer stuff,” “So what, I get in the club or do I have to fuck a cadaver or something?,” “They say we’re the law. I say if we’re the law let’s fucking be the law!,” “Max, is it moral to let animals rule the streets? Moral to let a killer walk because you forgot to read him his rights?,” “Uh, hold up, are we talking like some pseudo Charlie Bronson vigilante shit here?,” “Max, you’ve done the right thing,” “The pack?,” “The stuff is potent,” “The answer is no. Yes. You have to. Uh, no. Only two things I have to do. Get old and die,” “You know we just broke about thirty penal codes,” “Be part of the pack, Max,” “Chance takes time,” “It’s nice to hear you caring, chief,” “Someone’s been bad,” “That’s good. It’s going to be a closed casket,” “Tough guys,” “We need a new vehicle,” “Motherfucker!,” “This is my brain. This is you on my brain. Any questions?,” “You’re a motherfucking werewolf!,” “Tonight we take back the streets,” “Let that motherfucker go!,” “A silver bullet? So clever. Go ahead. Make your day,” “Ouch,” “Silver nitrate cocktail. Cheers, motherfucker!,” “Max. Don’t let it all. End here,” and “Hey, I got another conviction today. You’re such a good cop.”

Rating: 7.5/10.0

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Things to Watch Out For

SeizedDVD

Seized: This is a new low budget action flick from director Isaac Florentine and star Scott Adkins, and it’s apparently about a badass ex-Special Forces agent who is forced by a criminal, played by Mario Van Peebles, to destroy that criminal’s criminal rivals because he kidnapped Adkins’s son. If it’s half as good as Close Range, which came out in 2015 (check out my review of that movie here), we are all in for a treat. The trailer is solid, and, really, a new Florentine/Adkins movie is an event, so it’s something that you should want to see. I know I can’t wait to see it.

TheDoormanDVD

The Doorman: Ruby Rose and Jean Reno are in this new low budget action flick that’s been getting some decent reviews since it had a recent token theatrical release (some of you may have seen it in a drive-in). Some people have called it a modern Die Hard clone. Who knows? I like the cast (the great Louis Mandylor is also apparently in it), so right there I’m interested in it without even knowing what it’s about. And, heck, I think it’s cool that Ruby Rose is getting a star movie vehicle. She was awesome in John Wick: Chapter 2 and The Meg and the last Resident Evil movie. Definitely want to check this out. Anyone out there see this?

SearchandDestroyDVD

Search and Destroy: This is a new low budget action flick from the great Danny Lerner, who directed the awesome Dolph Lundgren action flick Direct Contact (I think I may review that flick again as the old review appears to be gone from the internets). Search and Destroy is apparently about a retired American former Special Forces operator who is hired as a mercenary to take down the Ukrainian arms dealer that forced him to retire (or something like that). Dylan Bruce is the star, and based on the trailer the movie looks like an “old school” action flick. There appear to be plenty of gun fights, hand-to-hand brawls, and explosions, which is what all great low budget action flicks are filled with. I’m hoping that this kicks as much ass as it seems to.

TerrorintheAislesBRD

Terror in the Aisles: This new Blu-ray comes to us from the fine folks at Shout! Factory/Scream Factory. I’ve never actually seen Terror in the Aisles, but from what I’ve read about it it’s a sort of greatest hits from horror and thriller movies spanning about 50 years, from the 1930’s into the 1980’s. Donald Pleasance and Nancy Allen serve as the “hosts” of this compilation anthology (or is it a kind of documentary?). The whole thing sounds interesting and kind of weird at the same time. The Blu-ray comes with a commentary track with pop culture historian Russell Dyball, three interviews with people involved in the movie (Nancy Allen is interviewed), and there’s an alternate version of the movie with alternate footage and different featured movies. So, heck, this sounds like the definitive home video presentation of this movie. Anyone out there see this? Is it good? Is it weird?

DeepStarSixBRD

DeepStar Six: I vaguely remember seeing this underwater alien monster flick back when it was on cable, but at the time I was a bigger fan of Leviathan and usually watched that instead of DeepStar Six. With this new Special Edition from Kino Lorber, perhaps it’s time I become a big fan of it? The movie was directed by the Sean S. Cunningham and features Taurean Blacque, Nancy Everhard, Miguel “Bob Morton” Ferrer, Nia Peeples, and Matt “Nick Lassard” McCoy. The monster alien special effects in the trailer look pretty cool, and if it’s true that DeepStar Six is very much like Leviathan, maybe it’s just as awesome as that movie. Anyway, there are some cool special features on this disc, and Kino Lorber movies typically look great, so why not? Any DeepStar Six fans out there?

Fridaythe13thSFBRDSet

Friday the 13th Collection Deluxe Edition: This is the brand new mega hooha Blu-ray boxed set from Shout! Factory/.Scream Factory featuring every Friday the 13th/Jason flick, starting with the 1980 original and ending with the 2009 remake/reboot/reimagining. There are also tons of special features, both old and new, for each movie (Scream always does a phenomenal job with its special features), easily making this the home video release of the year (and maybe even decade, which is amazing since the decade just started). There’s just so much to look at, listen to, and explore in this set. I mean, the only thing it doesn’t have is the Crystal Lake Memories documentary, but let’s face it, does the set really need that? One thing that it does have is newly discovered uncut footage from Friday the 13th Part 2, apparently from an old VHS tape. It’s too bad they couldn’t find more of this kind of thing for all twelve movies, or at least the early ones that were cut to shreds by the old MPAA. There seem to be some issues with some of the discs (scratched discs, weird sound issues in the movies and special features, stuff like that), but that’s about the only complaint I’ve heard regarding the set. This really is the home video set that Jason fans have been waiting for. Will we get a new A Nightmare on Elm Street boxed set next year or the year after that? I can’t imagine this new Jason set being considered a flop. Anyone else out there want this? Does anyone have it right now? Is it really as awesome as we all assume?

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Next Issue: The 2020 October Werewolf Movie Marathon continues with Late Phases: Night of the Wolf starring Nick Damici!

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Full Eclipse

Mario Van Peebles– Max Dire
Bruce Payne– Adam Garou
Patsy Kensit– Casey Spencer
Tony Denison– Jim Sheldon (as Anthony John Denison)
Jason Beghe– Doug Crane
Paula Marshall– Liza
John Verea– Ramon Perez
Dean Norris– Fleming
Willie C. Carpenter– Ron Edmunds
Victoria Rowell– Anna Dire
Scott Paulin– Teague
Joseph Culp– Detective Tom Davies

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Anthony Hickox
Screenplay by Richard Christian Matheson and Michael Reaves

Distributed by HBO and Home Box Office Home Video

Rated R for violence, language, sexual situations, and adult situations.
Runtime– 93 minutes

Buy it here