Can we just be frank? Frank Stallone, that is; for Sly’s talented brother is indeed the star of this entry in the ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ category; this woebegone action film by director John Myhers was presumably made to cash in on the huge wave of terrorist activity that famously hit Beverly Hills in the 80’s, and it does the difficult trick of similatenously sucking and blowing at the same time.
The superb Iranian actor Behrouz Vossoughi brings real intensity to his role as Abdul, a villainous terrorist who wants to force Israel to release political prisoners. Abdul realises his plan as he flies to LA and pulls together the kidnapping of the president’s daughter from a Rodeo-Drive mall, and the concerned cops (led by the great B-movie star Cameron Mitchell, whose Brentwood house I occupied one summer) turn to the best man for this or indeed any job; high-kicking kung-fu expert Hack Stone.
Played by Frank Stallone, an actor usually relegated to support roles in his brother’s films, Hack Stone is mysteriously off-screen for most of the duration of the film, which has a raw Invasion USA/Red Dawn feel of rabid political geo-political exploitation, plus uncalled-for bursts of violence and nudity. Terror In Beverly Hills isn’t exactly good when Frank Stallone is off-screen, but it’s hilarious for every second that his implausible presence is visible.
There’s a reason why Stallone is a punch-line to SNL jokes, and it’s all on display here, with wayward line-readings, laughable action scenes and a general air of ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ every time Frank appears. In support, the dependable William Smith also knocks it out of the park as the put-upon president, who, like most of the cast, displays an oddly jovial attitude at odds with the supposedly serious nature of the story. Bad movies can turn out to be good movies through the prism of experience; Terror in Beverly Hills has to be seen to not be believed.