Michael Berryman


The Barbarians
Directed by Ruggero Deodato
Starring The Barbarian Brothers (Peter & David Paul), Michael Berryman, Eva La Rue
Available on VHS

I’ve gotten into a bit of a barbarian movie kick lately, so I thought I would revisit this movie from my youth. If you’ve never heard of the Barbarians, then consider yourself lucky. The Barbarians was a vehicle for the “Barbarian Brothers”, released in 1987 by Cannon films. Peter and David Paul, a couple of bodybuilders, were dubbed by someone as the “Barbarian Brothers” and somebody, somewhere thought they were going to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger multiplied by two. One would imagine that this was an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the Conan films, but barbarians in general were popular during the 1980’s, so it’s hard to say for sure.

If you grew up in the 80’s-90’s you probably remember seeing the Barbarian brothers show up in a variety of low budget movies. Although they were officially billed as the Barbarian brothers, this is to my knowledge, the only movie they ever did that was about Barbarians. The rest of their films were basically the type of stuff that even Hulk Hogan’s agents would turn down. I have no idea why these guys were famous, aside from the fact that they were muscular twins. I guess that’s a thing. Stick around until the end of the review and I’ll tell you what the Barbarian Brothers are up to now. Also, this contains spoilers to a 26 year old movie… So you know, be warned!

The movie starts off with some narration setting the scene that this is in fact, a time before time. It was a dangerous era, but one tribe of people were protected. They were known as the Ragnicks and they are for all intents and purposes a traveling circus. Why is a traveling circus protected? Best we not worry about that. Just know that they have an ancient ruby that only their queen can possess, which protects them.

This magic ruby sure sounds neat, so naturally the evil warlord Kadar wants it. He ambushes the circus (so much for that whole “protected” thing) and kills a bunch of them. This sequence is actually REALLY long and not needed for the movie. The entire thing could have been accomplished in half the time, but I digress. This whole movie is basically a lot of time wasting. Somewhere in here is a story and I’ll explain it in my review, but please realize that the actual movie does a poor job of explaining anyone’s motivations or the basic plot.

Kagar wants the ruby, but the circus queen, Canary refuses to give it to him. In fact, during the battle she sent one of her men off with the ruby to hide it. Unbeknownst to Kagar, of course. He insists that she give him the ruby, but you know how carnies are. It’s like when you win at the bottle toss and they try to claim you stepped over the line. As my Momma always said, “don’t trust people from the circus or the carnival”. Continue reading

In the history of licensed property toys, there have been some awful choices. Sometimes they just don’t make sense to be toys at all (The Love Boat) and sometimes they’re just dreadfully executed. But could there have been even worse toy lines out there? Of course there could have! Here’s a humorous look at some downright terrible toy lines, that actually didn’t exist. Although this list is numbered, it’s not in any particular order of importance.

Northern Exposure
#5. Northern Exposure
Based off TV show and two cartoons (that also didn’t really exist).

It’s the great outdoors in toy form! Relive the excitement of a transplanted city doctor in a folksy Alaskan town at 3 3/4 scale! This line from Hasbro serves as a precursor to their doomed Indiana Jones line. Despite being packed with accessories for extra value, it failed to connect with consumers on every level.

Wave 1 contained Joel Fleischman and a moose, Maggie O’Connel with lenticular beauty mark, Chris Stevens with a stack of CDs, a Holling & Shelly Marie Tambo Vincoeur comic two pack and a Maurice Minnifield build-a-figure.

Wave 2 included Phil Capra (repainted Joel Fleischman figure), Rick Pederson with satellite, Walt Kupfer with cap firing action, Ed Chigliak with real leather coat and a collect & connect Ruth-Anne Miller with General Store playset. Interest in the line failed when Northern Exposure: The Animated Series was canceled and the Northern Exposure Kids Mystery Hour cartoon had spotty syndication.

Night Fighter Father Mulcahy AfterMASH
#4. AfterMASH
Based on TV series of same name.

M*A*S*H already had a “great” toy line from Tristar (no joke) in the early 1980s. Few people know that AfterMASH, the largely forgotten spin-off to Mash got a toy line as well. Tristar tried to reuse the sculpts from their M*A*S*H figures in hopes of saving costs. The line, much like the TV show, was a short lived disaster. All three major characters, Colonel Potter, Klinger and Father Mulcahy were produced in Wave 1.

Wave 2 was to feature Night Fighter Father Mulcahy, Jet Pack Potter and Arctic Klinger, but unfortunately the line was in direct competition with Galoob’s A-Team figures and soon lost it’s shelf space. Only a handful of prototype Night Fighter Father Mulcahy figures have emerged in recent years on Ebay.

King Vitamin Toys
#3. King Vitamin
Based on the cereal.

In hopes of competing with Masters of the Universe, this obscure line from Remco in the 1980’s failed to excite kids as much as the cereal it was based on. The toys promised all the excitement of the King Vitamin cereal, but in action figure form. To say that this line suffered from poor character selection would be an understatement… The entire line included only one figure, the King himself!

The rest of the characters were made with interchangeable paper masks which you had to cut off the back of the King Vitamin packaging. He had only one vehicle, the Royal Racing Coach, which was a mailaway promotional item if you collected 50 Vitapoints. No one ever mailed away for one.

King Sandusky

Unfortunately the toys have gained infamy in recent years when it was recently revealed that Jerry Sandusky is actually King Vitamin!

Crisp Crunch

Remco would later recycle the molds for a Ralston cereal Crisp Crunch line. Captain Chris Crisp didn’t excite kids anymore than King Vitamin before him, and eventually thousands of these were given to inner city youths as part of a drug awareness and prevention program. Legend has it that kids turned to drugs just to avoid getting these toys.

#2. Leisure Suit Larry
Based on the computer game series.

Coleco sort of got back into the video game business briefly, by producing a series of toys based on popular computer games. Leisure Suit Larry had all the makings of a great new toy line: A marketable main character, tons of females and of course “real feel” rubber skin. Unfortunately parents were outraged at some of the action features on the toys, including “Fist Pumpin’ Larry” and “Jiggle Time Julia”.

Bloodfist Michael Berryman Toys
#6. Bloodfist Classics
Based on films and fan fiction.

Bloodfist, the direct-to-video blockbuster that spawned EIGHT sequels and defined master thespian Don “The Dragon” Wilson’s career, was launched in an all encompassing “Bloodfist Classics” line from Jazwares. Incredibly, they managed to secure the rights to all the big name stars from the films including Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Matt Mullins, Richard Roundtree, Billy Blanks and Kris Aguilar.

The line featured characters from every film, including Bloodfist I-VIII and even Bloodfist 2050! When that well ran dry, Jazwares made licensed figures from some fan fiction where Cynthia Rothrock’s China O’Brien teams up with Don Wilson’s Jake Rayeto to face off against a kung-fu mobster who looks like Michael Berryman. We’re not sure why this toy line failed, it sounds freaking awesome!

If you like this list, be sure to check out our Ten Cartoons And The Toy Lines They Need list from a few years ago.

I’m in the process of watching a Maniac Cop marathon of sorts. It doesn’t really fit in with the Christmas spirit, but I recently found out that Netflix has all three movies online to watch so I’ve jumped in. What’s Maniac Cop you ask?

Maniac Cop is a series of films that vaguely fall under the “slasher” formula starting Robert Z’Dar as a cop back from the dead inflicting death upon those who wronged him when he was an NYPD…. And anyone else who gets in his way. The first film up is Maniac Cop from 1988, the one that started it all! And by all… I mean the other two sequels.

The first Maniac Cop movie is surprisingly good in premise if not in execution, with a chilling open, and a downright haunting score by Jay Chattaway. This film also features Bruce Campbell in one of his lesser known roles. I mean, you always hear people talking about Bruce, but no one ever brings up Maniac Cop!

The movie is uneven at best, with a good performance from Tom Atkins as the detective trying to figure out who’s killing people in NYC. Everyone else doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of acting and even Campbell seems a bit tame. There are a few good supporting characters, but the movie isn’t pieced together well enough, nor are the characters fleshed out enough. Unfortunately the movie suffers elsewhere as NYC feels like a tiny city where no one ever seems to go. Some of the plot points are rushed, or never clearly explained at all. There’s also some good effects mixed in, but some bad ones as well. Not to mention a really long police chase that seemed to be padding out the run time, more than advancing the plot.

Atkins character is the central figure for the first half of the movie, until the movie flips and makes Bruce Campbell the central character. Campbell is a NYPD who is brought up on charges that he’s the psycho cop who’s been killing innocent people in the city. The movie doesn’t immediately reveal that it’s not Campbell and I think Bruce is a good choice because of his large chin, which Robert Z’Dar also sports. Although it’s pretty clear Campbell is nowhere near big enough to be the killer.

I guess I should now mention that Robert Z’Dar is a freaky looking dude. We always called him “Big chin man” when I was a kid, but I don’t think that’s actually accurate. Yes, he has a big chin… But he also has huge cheekbones. Check out Z’Dar over at his official site Z-Dar.com and see what I’m talking about.

Maniac Cop works because the camera work is very clever. They avoid showing Maniac Cop’s face for most of the movie. All you see is his hulking frame and huge cheekbones. The rest is blacked out. In fact, by the time you see Z’Dar’s face it doesn’t come off as creepy. They put some scarred makeup on him, but it’s not very good looking. It just looks like he’s got acne and bad teeth. I think they’d done better by just making Z’Dar’s face very pale with maybe just a hint of scarring. Because Z’Dar is creepy looking as is.

In the end, Campbell is cleared, Maniac Cop is dead and all is well… Or is it? Maniac Cop 2 is next. This time Maniac Cop returns from the dead again and looks much more dead this time. I’ll go on record now for saying that Maniac Cop is one of the few slasher flicks of the 80’s that could actually USE a Hollywood redo. The story isn’t as convoluted as Freddy or Jason and there isn’t a ton of emotional attachment to any particular element. It could be tinkered with and improved upon. So long as Robert Z’Dar gets a cameo!

I mentioned how creepy Z’Dar looks and here’s a picture of him with another man who’s made a career out of looking strange, Mr. Michael Berryman. These guys are true throwbacks to the old days of Hollywood horror cinema when you could get a job based on your creepy looks instead of makeup. These guys are modern day Boris Karloff or Vincent Price! They sell the macabre on their natural features, no CGI or prosthetics required.