Tag Archives: John Ireland

On the Air Live with Captain Midnight (1979)

on the air live with captain midnight

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: A renegade radio station.

When high school teen Ziggy (Tracy Sebastian) finds himself fired from a radio station he decides to get revenge by setting up his van with equipment that will allow him to broadcast his own pirate radio station from it. To his surprise it becomes a hit especially from the area teens who even pay him to play their favorite songs. Things seem to be going great until the FCC catches on and they send out a very determined agent (John Ireland) to catch him.

This film, which isn’t too great to begin with, might’ve had a shot had it not starred such a pathetic actor in the lead. This guy, who is the son of the husband and wife team that directed this and therefore the only reason anyone in their right mind would’ve given him the part, is just downright terrible. A dead, rotting corpse would’ve had more charisma than this guy and he conveys his lines like he is reading them directly off a cue card, which really gets annoying. Having his presence take up almost the entire runtime when he isn’t even deserving of a brief walk-on bit is what categorically kills this film and makes it almost a wretched experience to sit through at all.

The idea that this bland kid would somehow create such a fervent teen following is equally ludicrous. He does nothing creative, or interesting when he is on-the-air and basically just introduces songs with his monotone voice that wouldn’t excite anyone, so seeing these kids go wild over him and even tear off his clothes when he parachutes out of a plane and then lands on the ground is just plain dumb and unintentionally funny in a bad way.

Barry Greenberg, who plays his chubby friend Gargen, is a little bit better, but the way he stutters every time he gets nervous is hooky. Mia Kovacs plays Spunky who is Ziggy’s girlfriend and was the only child of legendary comedian Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams. This was her one-and-only film appearance as she ended up dying tragically in a car accident a few years later that was eerily similar to the one that killed her father.

The veteran performers help a bit. Although Ireland, whose career plummeted badly in his later years to the point that he was forced to place a full-page ad in Variety that literally begged agents/producers to hire him, does not play up his antagonistic part enough. However, Dena Dietrich, as Ziggy’s mother, is a delight and the best thing about this otherwise limp movie.

Ferd and Beverly Sebastian had made a few drive-in flicks before this one including the cult-hit ‘Gator Bait, which starred Claudia Jennings and that is the type of genre they should’ve stayed in as anything else was clearly out-of-their-league and the ultimate result here is pretty flat.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: November 24, 1979

Runtime: 1Hour 25Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Ferd and Beverly Sebastian

Studio: Sebastian International Pictures

Available: VHS

Messenger of Death (1988)

messenger of death 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Chuck visits Mormon country.

Three young mothers and their children are shot to death in their home. The police suspect it may have something to do with their religious affiliation, but Denver journalist Garret Smith (Charles Bronson) thinks it’s the water company that is behind it, but as the investigation continues and with the help of fellow journalist Jastra (Trish Van Devere) the identity of who it really is surprises everyone.

The movie is unsettling from the beginning as we witness the brutal murders, which sets things at a downbeat tone. However, it also gets the viewer emotional jarred enough to want to see the killer brought to justice. The mystery is intricate for the most part and keeps you intrigued although by the end I had pretty much figured it out.

For a Bronson flick the action is minimal. There is one big shootout, but it doesn’t last long. The film’s best and most exciting sequence is when two big semi-trucks get on either side of the jeep that Garret and Jastra (Trish Van Devere) are riding in and try crushing it as it moves down the road. The scene is vivid, but suffers from the issue where neither occupant is wearing seatbelts and the vehicle does not have airbags and turns over on itself three times, which would most assuredly kill or permanently injure anyone inside and yet the two are able to miraculously get out without even a scratch.

Bronson does not carry a gun here and he has always had one in so many of his other movies that seeing without one makes him look almost naked. For an ordinary 60-something journalist his fighting skills seem too impressive. I was willing to buy into his ability to fight off a much younger professional hitman one time by using some quick thinking, but then to be able to do it again to the same person later on and give him a severe beating in the process seemed too farfetched.

Veteran character actor Jeff Corey as a fiery preacher is good in support as well as John Ireland who plays his brother. During the mid-80’s Ireland once put a full page add in Variety begging for work, so it’s good to see that those efforts paid off with his appearance here.

To-date this marks Van Devere’s last theatrical project and neither her character nor her performance adds much, but it was still nice to see a man and woman work together and not have it automatically turn sexual or into a relationship. Marilyn Hassett plays Bronson’s wife, but she was 26 years younger than him, which makes seeing them together look a bit weird.

Gene Davis who gave a terrible performance as a serial killer in an earlier Bronson flick portrays one of the hit-men. Fortunately his screen-time is contained, so his limited acting skills don’t ruin the whole picture. The way he dies made me chuckle a little as he gets stabbed while standing at a urinal and yet when he turns around his you-know-what isn’t hanging out even though I thought it probably should’ve been.

The climactic moment where the person behind the murders gets ‘unmasked’ is a little too ‘Hollywood’ and doesn’t pack the punch that a film like this needed and thus gives this already average action flick a slightly below average rating.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: September 16, 1988

Runtime: 1Hour 31Minutes

Rated R

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Studio: The Cannon Group

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video