Black Scorpion  (1995)R

Half a capeTentTent


It’s superior to the similar action-babe film Barb Wire. And there ceases any praise that can be given to this film. Or rather, video. I don’t know if this counts as a TV movie that I shouldn’t really review here... it was produced for Showtime, but it has a theatrical rating (R). I got a DVD from a bargain bin at the grocery store, so I guess I’ll review it.

This Roger Corman pseudo-superhero cheapie looks very much as if it was a cheap ripoff of the Halle Berry Catwoman, but it was made first. In fact, Berry’s Catwoman costume, being nothing at all like that in the comic book, looks like it might have been inspired as much by the stilettos-and-ass-cheeks outfit in this piece of shit as by any other source.

Oh, and speaking of questions of what was made first, I notice that Spider-Man 2 has a throwing-away-the-costume scene exactly like one in here. In this case, though, the reason to toss the costume is never explained.

Let’s see if we have all the necessary ingredients for a Corman quality exploitationer present:

  • awful writing: check
  • awful under-rehearsed acting: check
  • awful action stunts: check
  • awful special effects: check
  • awfully cheap — or let’s say “excellent cost management”: check
  • awfully obvious “inspiration” from better movies: check
  • tits: check  (fortunately not awful, as they easily could have been)

Yep, it’s Roger Corman, all right.

  • Special Bonus: DVD label that advertises content which is missing from the disk!

Joan Severance plays the eponymous (I almost said “titular”) vigilante heroine, and she’s kinda lousy. You’re not doing very well when the only cast member who can’t out-act you is a spastic ex-crackhead (Garrett Morris as her techie sidekick). Her martial arts scenes are as lame and half-assed as her dialogue scenes. She can’t even do a punching bag workout that looks dangerous, though she’s not out of shape. What could explain this surprising deficiency? Oh, I know, it’s because she spent her career in softcore skin movies, not action movies.

By the way, I know you already heard me say “awful writing”, but take the level of writing you’ve been imagining so far and adjust it downward one more step. Yep, right there, that’s about right. Almost every scene has some piece of dialogue that overstrains your disbelief’s suspenders.

On the awful effects front, you have to keep in mind that it’s not just that they look cheap, but that what they’re trying to represent is situations which can’t be explained as achievable with any real world technology, and which they often make no attempt to explain. Ms. Scorpion’s equipment basically works by magic, only with sparks to make you think it’s electronic. Like, her boots emit a spark and launch her forty feet upwards. No explanation. And a neighborhood chop-shop creates a Scorpionmobile that morphs (with sparks) into different shapes. They then mention the word “nanotechnology.” Riiiiiiight.

Everybody except B.S. wobbles their steering wheel back and forth while they drive, to show how fast and nearly out of control their car is going. Lots of cop cars do swan dives off of jump ramps tucked conveniently behind dumpsters. (I guess the neighborhood skate punks were practicing their dumpster jumps.) All the characters cooperate nicely to create the string of fuckups necessary to force the protagonist to go into “You killed my master!” vigilante mode. The bad guy helpfully leaves his real name on all his accociates’ medical records. And of course, nobody could possibly recognize her with that mask on, no matter how well they know her.

Said bad guy is one of the silliest ever. He assembles a gang consisting entirely of asthmatics, and then sets out to make breathing worse for everybody. Plus, this is one case where somebody actually should have asked “does this outfit make me look fat”.

When B.S. has sex, extra little moans are dubbed in so it sounds like there are four people in the room.

The film improves for a while, in the period where B.S. and Garrett figure out the plot and have the action climax... and then in the ending she pulls a move so unethical (and unlikely to work) that any goodwill is lost again. The interval of improved entertainment is probably less than ten minutes.

Several years later they made a Black Scorpion TV series on the Sci-Fi Channel, and cast twelve or fourteen Playboy models as villainesses. It lasted about five months. Some say the lead actress was better than Severance. Wouldn’t have been difficult.