Black Moon Rising

Age of the black terror wig
★★★★
☆☆☆
Released: 
1986
Director: 
Harkey Cokeliss
Starring: 
Tommy Le Jones, Linda Hamilton, Robert Vaughn, Richard Jaeckel
The Setup: 
Man steals data, hides it in supercar, supercar is stolen.
Discussion: 

A reader who knows of my enjoyment for ludicrous movies that are also enjoyable and cool recommended this, and it was a direct hit! It is super fun, astonishingly 80s, and entirely silly while also being pretty awesome. It also made me laugh out loud numerous times, which is made even better by the fact that none of this is intended to be funny.

We open with a would-be robbery in a liquor store. Tommy Lee Jones as Quint is there, in his black leather jacket and black jeans (if ONLY it had been a Members Only jacket!), and he keeps his cool and talks the robber down, even though he has a gun pointed right at him! What a chill dude. Then we have the credits, in which we learn we also have Linda Hamilton and Robert Vaughn on hand, the music is by Lalo Schifrin, the story is by John Carpenter, and we have an appearance by one of my favorite character actors, Keenan Wynn!

So Quint is a hired thief who is sent to this computer company to steal some data tapes. He breaks in, gets the tape, then--the alarm! He is confronted by his nemesis, Ringer, who is also a data thief, but is in the employ of whoever had the data. Around 7 minutes in, you'll notice that Quint runs toward a door with an iron bar across the middle. But when he smashes through--no iron bar! Maybe Quint is supposed to be some kind of X-Man.

Meanwhile, these three dweebs, one of whom is deaf, are out in the desert testing their supercar, the Black Moon. This car runs on hydrogen, meaning you fill it up with water, and can reach speeds up to 325 MPH when you activate its rear jets. It kind of looks like a remote control on wheels. They load it onto their flatbed, and stop for gas on the way home. Quint is hanging around there, and hides the data tape in the rear panel. And just in time, because Ringer shows up seconds later. You'll notice they begin a high-speed car chase, then just cut away and we see Quint at home later. Hmmm, unusual for an action movie to avoid an opportunity for a high-speed car chase!

So the dweebs are going to The Betsy, which is kind of a supper club for owners of expensive cars. Boy, they have a club for everything! The dweebs are trying to sell the car. Suddenly appears Linda Hamilton in what can only be described as the Black Terror Wig, the first time I barked with uncontrollable laughter at this movie. She has this giant poof of fake-looking black hair sitting atop her head, like some sort of demented rooster, and what makes it most hilarious is the way Hamilton is trying to pull it all off as though she's just super cool and slick. Her name is Nina. She oversees a bunch of thugs who come, lock the patrons inside, and steals the entire parking lot worth of cars! Nina takes the Black Moon, chased by Quint. Another moment of laughter is when we cut to this rather large on-board television monitor, helpfully labeled "rear view" with paste-on plastic letters from the hardware store. Quint and Nina have a high-speed chase through the (often curiously deserted) streets of L.A., with Nina appearing barely phased when her car achieves 325 MPH and she is pressed against the back of the car by high-G forces. She drives it onto a truck, and the truck goes into a parking garage with a secret passage. Quint follows, but doesn't know how to get in.

So Nina--oh she has normal hair under there... normal for the 80s, that is--and meets her boss, Ryland, played by 80s villain Robert Vaughn. He is running some sort of shady business that involves stealing expensive cars to fund his venture (the workings of this are murky to me), which he runs from these two new skyscrapers. Nina is his top thief, although they seem so have a somewhat tetchy relationship. I'm sure all of this made sense at one time.

So Quint has three days to get that tape back. I do sort of appreciate the whole idea of these two separate crimes intersecting, and Quint having to get the car just to get the tape. He follows Nina to this nightclub, where you will see many enjoyable 80s styles, and hear some delightful 80s music. Ah, it was a simpler time. As Nina leaves, Quint asks for a ride. She knows he is following her and--wait, suddenly they're in bed having sex! Wow, the spirit of the 70s lived on, I guess. Nina has one of those cool 80s lofts, L.A. style, with big lights on the floor, an interior motorcycle, and she walks around it all in a kimono. We're supposed to feel that this is the union of these two high-level thieves, both addicted to danger.

SPOILERS > > >
Meanwhile, the dweebs sneak into the parking garage, and are trying to break in, when the deaf one is killed. His death is another of those laugh-out-loud moments, as we see this car coming at him, then he is flying straight up unto the air, in such a way as is highly unlikely from being struck horizontally, but we'll not quibble (although I think we just did?). This makes the dweebs realize that they have to team with Quint to get that car back.

Quint meanwhile has discovered that his old buddy Keenan Wynn has been killed (we saw Wynn once earlier to establish that they're buddies), and Quint gets REALLY severely beaten. We have a lengthy scene where he drives back to Nina's, barely able to remain conscious behind the wheel. At the same time, Ryland is reviewing his tapes of when he first met Nina, and she was supposedly a strung-out street urchin adept at stealing cars, which means we have footage of Hamilton is a baseball cap, trying to look young and be all "street," which is a little hilarious. Soon Ryland has kidnapped her, she was supposedly beaten (we see a tiny bruise near her lip) and she is imprisoned in the skyscraper.

The last fourth of the movie becomes a heist movie as Quint and the dweebs plan to get the car back, then execute. It involves lasers to blind the security cameras, and you know, lasers are always cool. You know, LASERS. Quint climbs to the top of one building, then moves by rope to the other one. I appreciated that Quint seems to be genuinely injured by his severe beating, he's not just magically unaffected, like in other movies. He gets in, happens upon Nina, and now they're both escaping together. They get the car, blow up the door, but then--sudden bars blocking the way! I have to say I did not see that coming. Now they're in the car, trapped in the building.

So if you remember the original poster or video cover for this, you know there's a picture of the car bursting out of the upper floor of a skyscraper (awesomely positioned to look like it's coming out of Jones' eye), so you know that somehow they're going to drive the car right out the window. They do, and jump from one building to the other. There Quint has a big fight with Ringer, gets the tape back, delivers it, and he and Nina walk away to be happy forever after.
< < < SPOILERS END

It was fun! and very, very 80s, from the fashions and the hairstyles (and wigs) to the very idea of a supercar and conception of Quint as this badass criminal and Nina as this women brought from desperate street urchin to high-powered car thief. So if you like that whole vibe of what was awesomely cool in the 80s, you'll like it. I don't have much more to say about it. It was fun, it made me laugh, and kept me intrigued right up to the end, while also remaining pretty much ridiculous the whole time. That's what I like!

Should you watch it: 

Sure, especially if you miss those old 80s thrillers.