Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At

Universal Soldier (1992)

Before they made a mountain of money as the creators of Independence Day and the new Godzilla movie, director Roland Emmerich and screenwriter Dean Devlin teamed up for this action flick disguised as a science fiction thriller. Muscle hunks Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren play embattled Vietnam soldiers who killed each other in combat and are revived 25 years later as semi-android "UniSols" in a high-tech army of the near future. Their memories were supposedly wiped clean, but flashbacks occur to remind them of their bitter hatred (Lundgren committed wartime atrocities; Van Damme had tried to stop him), and the warriors resume their tenacious battle while a journalist (Ally Walker) uncovers the truth about the secret UniSol program. With energy to spare, the standard action sequences are adequate for anyone with a short attention span. And besides, with Van Damme and Lundgren in the lead roles, who needs dialogue? --Jeff Shannon, review for

Now, that's one opinion. Here's Joe Bob's review:

(From Joe Bob's Newspaper Column)

"Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In" for 11/27/92

Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren and Tiny Lister Jr. are NOT happy about the way their bodies were sewed back together, in "Universal Soldier".

By Joe Bob Briggs
Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas

Now that Hillary has become the First Mama, a lot of people in New York and Paris and Milan are wondering what the heck this Arkansas power-dresser is gonna wear to the Inaugural Ball. This is the time when normally the new woman of the hour makes a trip to Fifth Avenue and hangs out with Isaac Mizrahi and Calvin Klein and Elsa Klinsch and decides who gets to be her personal designer for the next four years. It's a tradition that got started when Jackie Kennedy picked Gucci--or was it that other Eyetalian guy? Anyhow, it doesn't matter, because the whole thing went downhill fast when Lady Byrd "Floral-Print Housecoat" Johnson came into office.

But that's not the point. In case you didn't see the item, somebody called up Hillary's press spokeswoman and asked when she would be selecting her designer.
The official answer: "Mrs. Clinton works with several designers here in Arkansas."
Well. All right. Okay. Fine. Let's see. I've spent a lot of time in Arkansas. Sure. Yeah. It's all coming back to me now. So here's a guide to only the most PRESTIGIOUS Arkansas fashion designers.
First we have Floradean Stubbs of Pine Bluff, who just introduced her spring line of "Buffalo Tent Dresses," a popular look in the Piney Woods this year. Many of them come with removeable bric-a-brac on the bodice, so that if the baby spits Gerber apricot pudding on your chest, you can remove that part of the dress, throw it in the washer, and have it back on there by the time the evening rolls around.

Or perhaps Hillary would rather work with Peter "The Pigman" Pettigrew of Jasper. Peter got his nickname when he started designing maternity dresses with bright red Arkansas Razorback logos on them, but he's matured as a designer in recent years and is now responsible for more than 70 per cent of the Little League uniforms in the southern Ozarks.
Victor Ferragamo would be an interesting choice. Victor runs a gay leather bar and rock-jewelry souvenir stand on Highway 7 outside of Hot Springs. He's especially well known for his spiked-and-studded barbecue aprons.

Of course, the popular choice will be Louise Kohlmeyer, who has worked out of her tract home in North Little Rock for the last 47 years and guarantees that every single dress she produces will look EXACTLY like the picture on the front of the Simplicity pattern envelope.
But, if I had to guess, knowing Hillary's political preferences, I would have to say the front-runner is Madeline Washington, a blind weaver who works on an 1870 spinning wheel from her booth at the Ozarks Crafts Fair in Mountain Home. Madeline once produced a dress for the wife of former governor Orval Faubus that combined 368 different colors of thread. The dress was briefly displayed at the Museum of Modern Art, before being sold to an eccentric collector in Berlin. Madeline is known to want the job. "Let me feel her one time and I can do it," she told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Hillary's decision is expected to be announced this week when she addresses the Arkansas Institute of Fashion Manufacturers and Bait Shop Owners, now meeting in Fayetteville.

And speaking of android zombies dressed in camouflage, "Universal Soldier" just came out on video in time for people who are so sick of Macaulay Culkin they wanna see a little flesh fly before Christmas gets here--and I have to say, I never did quite go for this picture. There's something about it, with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren playing these steroid androids who go around throwing grenades at each other, that just never quite works. Maybe it's that wise-cracking goofball female reporter--Ally Walker--that screws it up. Why have a girl in the flick when the whole plot is about techno-zombies who can't fall in love in the first place? Or, when Jean-Claude grins, does that mean he IS falling in love?
These movies are getting way too complicated for me.

Anyhow, the point is that we've got a couple of Vietnam vets--one's a good guy, one's a psychotic killer of innocent peasants--and they blew each other away 25 years ago, but then a genetic scientist played by Jerry Orbach puts the bodies on ice and shoots em up with super-vitamins and turns them into a genetic-mutant S.W.A.T. team that goes around rescuing hostages and being nice to orphans. (And, by the way, YES, it's the SAME Jerry Orbach, the one who starred in "The Fantasticks." Unfortunately, he doesn't sing in this flick.)

As you should know by now, if you've watched the LAST 50 android movies, something goes just a LITTLE wrong with their brain cells, they start to think they're back in Nam, and pretty soon we've got two runaway National Armory Gumby Robots spraying automatic-weapons fire all over the Arizona desert.

Forty dead bodies.
Two breasts (Jean-Claude's).
Four motor vehicle chases, including one hellacious bus chase along the rim of the Grand Canyon, with multiple crashes.
Exploding motel.
Giant syringe to the neck.
Necklace of human ears.
Gross-out leg slicing.
Raw-meat eating.
Terrorist takeover of the Hoover Dam.
Android ground up in a wheat thresher.
Kung Fu.
Body-bag Fu.
Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Dolph, for wearing an Indian necklace in his ear, and for saying "Traitor!";
and Jean-Claude, for covering up his accent by acting he's from Louisiana, and for getting nekkid and ordering a lady reporter to "Look for something unusual--something hard."
Three stars.
Joe Bob says check it out.

Victory Over Communism! The Ford-Wyoming Drive-In in Dearborn, Mich., which has eight screens and a 2,400-car capacity, had another record season under the management of Ed Szurek, recording the highest grosses since it opened in 1950. Ron Senkowski of Southfield, Harold and Shirley Muir of Grand Rapids, John Stevens and Carol Doocy of East Lansing, Barbara Locke of Dearborn, and Michael J. Swope of Rives Junction remind us that, with eternal vigilance, the drive-in will never die. To discuss the meaning of life with Joe Bob, or to get free junk in the mail and Joe Bob's world-famous "We Are the Weird" newsletter, write Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, TX 75221. Joe Bob's Fax line is always open: 214-368-2310.

Dear Joe Bob,
Three and a half stars for Child's Play 2? Really? "Check it out," you say?
Is there any movie sir, you wouldn't recommend? I find your judgement to be as perverted as this latest movie you suggest we run out and see.
Should I bring the family? I highly respect your opinion, so please rush an answer.
"If I ever changed jobs, thousands of people would find a huge void in their lives." Don't flatter yourself. I sincerely hope you are not a parent as the movies I have seen you defend and review favorably are pure, unadulterated garbage. And I hope no one takes your column seriously.
D. Leonard
San Francisco

Dear D.:
There are actually two films I would NOT recommend for the family:
"A Chorus Line"--best horror film of 1985. Too intense for the squeamish.
"Betsy's Wedding"--around my house we call it "Night of the Living Ringwald."

Joe Bob,
I just finished (yes, I can read) your article about Ted Turner. I, too, saw Ted's face on the cover of Time magazine and was happy to see that he was chosen as Man of the Year. Unfortunately, I did not read the article, so I just assumed he received the honor for having the greatest programming staff in America. Any network that shows reruns of "Gilligan's Island," Bugs Bunny, etc., is worthy of acclaim. It ruined my day to find out that he was chosen for being a "visionary" for his "passionate sense of blah blah blah." We all know that if it wasn't for his satellite network we wouldn't have the fine collection of cable channels that grace our TV sets. Time magazine cannot fool the American public. We know that he was awarded for showing programs that build character and intelligence.
Matt LeQuire
Hickory, N.C.

Dear Matt:
And I thought it was just the mustache.

What's going on? Discovered some more weirdness--Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
At the All American Standard Truck Stop, Route 11 and Interstate 80, there's a Strip Poker Machine. You play poker with these video pictures of chicks, and if you win, they shed the London Fogs. I waited around to see it work, but none of the truckers were horny, I guess (that's weird, too).
Also saw an old Pepsi machine (bottle type) that a gas station had turned into a 24-hour leech dispenser (for fishing, I guess).
Suck down a beer for me,
Carl Leuschel
Bowerston, O.

Dear Carl:
Thanks for the update on American culture.
Makes sense to me. How many times have you slapped your head at 3 a.m. and said, "Oh, no, I FORGOT to get leeches!"

Dear Joe Bob,
I have some information to pass along to Mike Seigler from Marietta, Ga. about getting some drive-in speakers. See the enclosed ad from an outfit called JND Enterprises. They are selling used drive-in speakers for $17.50 each.

If anyone wants to buy new speakers, here are the names and addresses of the companies that manufacture new drive-in speakers and replacement parts: Projected Sound, 469 Avon Avenue, P.O. Box 112, Plainfield, Ind., 46168, (317) 839-4111; Reed Speaker Manufacturing Company, Inc., 7530 West 16th Avenue, Lakewood, Colo., 80215, (303) 238-6534; Systems & Projects Engineering Company (SPECO), 709 North Sixth Street, Kansas City, Kan., 66101, (913) 321-3978; and Glenn E. Koropp Company, 2539 Tesla Way, Sacramento, Calif., 95825, (916) 489-0941 or (916) 483-0551.

I kept the speakers running at the Sunset Drive-In in Tumwater, Wash., before it got torn down a few years ago. I've fixed all brands of drive-in speakers and found the most reliable and easiest to repair are the Projected Sound and the Reed speakers. If a person were to use a drive-in speaker at home, please remember they are only rated for one watt maximum. Any more than that and it will cook. In my opinion, speakers beat radio sound any day.
Ken Layton
Olympia, Wash.

Dear Ken:
Thanks for sharing the expert knowledge. I do get requests all the time, people wanting to know where they can get the speakers, so this helps a LOT.

Dear Mr. Briggs:
I am enclosing a copy of a letter to the editor in which J.B.B. is described as "sensitive as a tinfoil condom." At first I laughed because the writer appeared to take J.B. SO seriously, yet could only express his outrage with a series of pop psychology cliches. I thought it was written by a therapist trainee from U.C. Santa Cruz. Then I understood the TRUE MEANING of the letter! With subtle yet scathing satire the writer has just shown the sort of response to be expected from a SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guy) who is a devotee of Bly, probably wears Birkenstocks and Dockers, and works in one of those emasculating white-collar jobs. Maybe the person who wrote that letter is actually an intellectual lumberjack with a good sense of humor.

After all, no one could respond to J.B.B. except with humor. If Joe Bob is indeed a sexist chainsaw-worshipping jerk, then humor will deflate him. If he is joking, then we respond with laughter.
I would rather think that such a letter is a "response in kind" to Mr. Briggs' humor, because the world is in bad enough shape without people getting outraged over good, wholesome satire! However, the writer is probably NOT that clever or subtle and means every cliche he has so earnestly written. On the other hand, such people are grist for the mill of the King of Sleaze, he who is relentlessly NOT politically correct.

Please keep the fine articles coming. This country needs more people who say whatever they think, no matter what others think! Thank you.
Adriana Larkin
Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Dear Adriana:
We live in the first age in history where a joke is considered reason enough to kill one another.
We were better off when duels were legal.

1992 Joe Bob Briggs All Rights Reserved. Not an AOL Time-Warner Company in this lifetime.

Universal Soldier 2: Brothers In Arms

Following listings/descriptions from the Sci-Fi Channel
A TV journalist (Chandra West of Puppet Master 4 & 5), and a reanimated soldier (Matt Battaglia of the sci-fi chick-flick Avalon: Beyond the Abyss) flee the super-scientific military organization trying to create an army of hunky undead troops. Summoned to battle an arms dealer attempting to sell these human weapons to terrorists, our undead hero finds himself up against some of his own kind in this testosterone-filled sequel to the 1992 hit Universal Soldier.
Gary Busey and Burt Reynolds play the bad guys.

Universal Soldier 3: Unfinished Business

Genetically enhanced soldiers go mano-a-mano in this second sequel to the 1992 feature Universal Soldier. Chandra West and Matt Battaglia reprise their roles as TV reporter Veronica Roberts and reanimated soldier Luc Devereaux, this time trying to foil a terrorist assassination plot and the clone of Luc's late reanimated brother. Burt Reynolds returns as the bad guy.
Universal Soldier movies available on video from

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