Rollerball or Nothing

Written by :
Published on : August 28, 2017

 

 

In 2018, the world is run by a small handful of large corporations. War, regulation and government have all been eliminated. The upper executive class enjoys all the wealth and technology while everyone else enjoys ultra-violent entertainment made to distract them. No, I’m not describing the not-too-distant future. I’m talking about Rollerball, a sci-fi movie from the sort-of-distant past of 1975 that deserves to be updated.

 

In the film, rollerball is the most popular sport in the world. It is essentially roller derby but with motorcycles and lots of violence. A metal ball gets shot onto the track at about 200 mph. Two squads, each with seven skaters and three motorcycles, compete for possession of the ball. A player must skate once around the track while holding the ball in plain sight before they are able to score. Their teammates serve as blockers that defend them from the opposing team. The game is full contact. Each player wears a helmet, pads and gloves covered with metal spikes.  Injuries, even fatalities, are common.

 

 

James Caan stars as Johnathan E, captain of the Houston Squad, current Rollerball World Champions, sponsored by the ominously-named Energy Corporation. Johnathan is the most popular player in the sport, which is why he’s blindsided by the corporation’s order that he retire immediately. Johnathan refuses, partly because he resents the corporation’s ultimate authority, and partly because he just doesn’t want to retire.  As he continues to play, rules and safeguards are eliminated by the executives, hoping that Johnathan becomes a casualty.

 

 

Adapted from the short story, “Roller Ball Murder,” the movie is a missed opportunity. Made in a pre-Star Wars Hollywood, the film tells its story like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone. Caan plays an average American everyman stuck in a nightmare version The Future just similar enough to modern 1975 to be believable. When Johnathan finally learns that he must retire so rollerball can remain an anonymous bloodsport that reinforces the corporate culture’s “nobody is special, we are all expendable” message to the masses, the result is kind of a letdown. The movie shouldn’t be blamed for putting so much weight into a reveal that feels intellectually tame by modern 2017 standards. But it should be blamed for having too narrow a focus. Besides one of Johnathan’s teammates, a large bruiser named Moonpie, we don’t get a feel for any other rollerball player’s personality. Nor do we see or experience much of the future beyond sports arenas, office buildings, locker rooms and upper-middle class homes.

 

HBO, get on this shit. You love sports (Hard Knocks) and weird vintage sci-fi (Westworld). This is exactly the type of idea best suited for longform television over movies. (The less said about the 2002 remake, the better. Even though it stars LL Cool J and Rebecca Romijn Stamos. But seriously, don’t go there.)

 

Billionaires, make this sport a reality. It’s football/NASCAR/hockey all rolled into one. Big, loud, high-energy and you probably get to see a crash. I’d paid good money to see that.

 

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon Weeks 11 & 12 and “Night of the Lepus”

Written by :
Published on : November 30, 2016

 

Welcome back to Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon. In this spooky sanctum I’ve poured over all the replay tape to come up with my favorite NFL play of the week. Then it’s straight back to the projector to unspool a film you may have not been aware of…

 

Old Roger Pretzel loves him a Thanksgiving feast and this year was no exception, as friends and travel put me out of commission for the entire week. Now it’s back to work and we got some catching up to do!

 

Week 11: Steven Nelson Robs Mike Evans

 

VIDEO HERE

 

Cornerback is the hardest position in the league to play since you’re not allowed to sneeze on receivers, let alone touch them. Kansas City’s Steven Nelson shows great skill and dedication on this play, craftily slipping an arm between Mike Evans’s body and the ball, allowing him to tear it free from number 13 as the two went to the ground.

 

I’m seeing more and more plays like this as the rules and officiating evolve, with defenders playing to stop the ball with arms and hands, up close and personal with their target as opposed to more physical body positioning and plays where the defender tries to pull off flawless glove-like coverage. I like it. Let the ball come in and play it from there.

 

Week 12: Ndamukong Suh Stuffs Kaepernick For the Showstopper


The Niners have had an expectedly dismal season, but surprisingly the Miami Dolphins have been on a hell of a run as of late. Chip Kelly’s potentially tying drive in the game’s final minute showed pep and promise with some good throws by Kap and a great play by Torrey Smith to get out of bounds.

 

But with 2 seconds left on 2nd and goal Colin Kaepernick dithers for just a second as he decides whether to throw or run. Personally, I think he might have had this one if he committed to the run and turned on the jets, but ultimately one of football’s hardest working and most reviled bad guys, Ndamukong Suh, came back to pull Kaepernick down from behind as Kiko Alonso provided some steam-rolling insurance up front.

 

Weeks 11 & 12: Night of the Lepus

night_of_lepus_poster_02.jpg.html

Director: William F. Claxton
Released: 1972

 

The giant-animal-on-a-rampage film had its golden age in the 1950’s with nuclear and commie paranoia getting conjured up into massive ants, lizards, and tarantulas, amongst other beasties. The genre had a bit of resurgence, as well as a modification, with the “revenge of nature” films in the 1970’s as the country’s concerns about rampant pollution increased. This period provided us with gems like Food of the Gods (1976), and stinkers like Frogs (1972), but the most preposterous of them all was Night of the Lepus.

 

Night-of-the-Lepus

 

This is a movie about giant bunny rabbits that terrorize an Arizona town. Giant killer bunny rabbits.

 

Admittedly, the visual effects are pretty strong here with some great miniature sets and the occasional matte painting background. It also boasts performances by Psycho (1960) shower-scene victim Janet Leigh and Star Trek’s own Dr. Bones, DeForest Kelley, slumming it for the drive-in crowd. Oh, and let’s not forget the great Rory Calhoun either. Puppets are generally used for the attack scenes and while the picture’s questionable subject matter benefits from a deadly serious tone, the liberal use of paint-red blood in the wake of the carnivorous rodents is comically over the top.

 

lepus kelly and cast

 

The mad science behind the wascally wabbits is pretty well thought out for a film of this ilk with a hormone serum in testing, and a rabbit that is accidentally liberated from the researchers’ control group. There’s also some worthwhile social commentary with the rabbits becoming local pests in the first place due to humans killing off all the coyotes who were once the rabbits’ natural predators.

 

It’s ultimately a bit hard to watch Night of the Lepus and not struggle with a little cognitive dissonance: how can one take a movie about cattle-sized killer rabbits seriously even if the film is effective and dare I say… good on its own merits? Regardless, whether you’re in it for the novelty or are a true believer this one comes highly recommended.

 

nightofthelepus5

 

Scope out the trailer here:

 

 

Available for rental on Amazon and iTunes.

 


Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon Week 5: “Big Play” Slay Saves The Day and “Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky”

Written by :
Published on : October 13, 2016

 

Welcome back to Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon. In this spooky sanctum I’ve poured over all the replay tape to come up with my favorite NFL play of the week. Then it’s straight back to the projector to unspool a film you may have not been aware of…

 

The lights have dimmed, the bats are fluttering, and the graves have been treated with quicklime.

 

Week 5: “Big Play” Slay Saves the Day

 

Nothing like a big win to keep a season’s hopes alive after a three game losing streak. Darius Slay is now getting paid like a top cornerback and he finally looked it on Sunday with a forced fumble that ended up giving the Lions the lead and then this huge interception to put the day away.

 

Wentz’s first NFL pick was a backbreaker with time still on the clock and a Lions defense that had trouble stopping the Eagles’ offensive march most of the day. It seems obvious enough that all Slay had to do was “become the receiver” on a deep ball, but re-watching the tape shows just how good Slay’s coverage on Nelson Agholor is and the play Slay makes isn’t just a jump ball, but an aggressive and intelligent move. As a Lions fan I’m hoping that Slay continues this caliber of play throughout the rest of the season. He’s a bright spot on a defensive side that’s struggling with injuries and mediocrity.

 

The cherry on top? I was at the game. And while the play happened on the opposite side of the field from where I was sitting, there was absolutely no feeling like seeing Slay pivot and head back the other way. “Fly Eagles, Fly” getting drowned out by “Gridiron Heroes” on the way home.

 

Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 12.03.00 AM

 

Your humble author making new friends…

 

Week 5: Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky

Story Of Ricky blu cover

 

Director: Lam Ngai Kai
Released: 1991

 

I managed to catch this one via another internet recommendation when it was streaming on Netflix (which is sadly no longer the case), and I can safely say I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Sure, Gareth Evans’s The Raid (2011, 2014) movies have a little bit of that “anything can happen” martial arts perfection, but while those flicks truck in expert action and a sense of videogame-era storytelling, this one pours on the red stuff and crazy special effects for the most outrageous gore set pieces I’ve ever seen in the martial arts genre.

 

Not being too familiar with the picture’s background, I was able to find that the film is supposedly a very faithful adaption of a Japanese Manga, and director Lam cut his teeth working at the illustrious Shaw Brothers studio in Hong Kong, so he’s definitely got the right pedigree.

 

960

 

The plot, which is of course gloriously beside the point, hinges on good-guy titular inmate Riki in a not-too-distant future where all prisons have been privatized. As with many violent kung-fu movies, the evildoers’ corruption revolves around the heroin trade and like the best of these types of movies, the jailor and inmate villains are gloriously stylized in the mold of the “Street Fighter” game franchise.

 

ricky5_758_426_81_s_c1

 

The outlandishly cartoonish violence can border on camp at times, but the good far outweighs the bad with Riki strangling an enemy with his own intestines (which Riki removed in the first place), our hero performing bootleg surgery on his own tendons in the span of twenty seconds, and a full blown monster a la the mother of all horror films: Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive (1992). That’s right. This picture is so batshit crazy and ludicrously nutty that it deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as Dead Alive. If you screen this movie for a date and your partner reacts positively you got marriage material right there.

 

ricky2_758_426_81_s_c1

 

Here’s a nicely edited highlight reel of the gonzo gore insanity:

 

Full movie below:

 

 


Support Us
Support ScoreBoredSports on patreon!

patreon-medium-button
Sponsors

Hide Error message here!

Forgot your password?

Error message here!

Error message here!

Hide Error message here!

Lost your password? Please enter your email address. You will receive a link to create a new password.

Error message here!

Back to log-in

Close