The Running Man (1987) Starsky Directs Arnie In Sci-fi Gladiator Game Show Mayhem

The Running Man (1987) Arnold Schwarzenegger arnie sci-fi 80s action VHS cassette tape rental

Day 24 The Running Man from 1987

Tagline –Welcome to America in 2019, when the best men don’t run for president, they run for their lives.

Who’s our hero today?
That robotic man machine from the future Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Ben Richards.

Had I seen this one on VHS back in the day?
A new Arnie film hitting the video store shelves! Of course this was a highly excitable rental.  One that probably involved riding my bike home at lightning speeds. Ending in a gigantic roundhouse skid as I somersault off and pelt upstairs as my bike freewheels into the garden hedge.

The Running Man (1987) Arnold Schwarzenegger arnie sci-fi 80s action richard dawson

Quick plot run down.
By 2019 the world economy has collapsed. Food, natural resources and oil are all in short supply. A police state, divided into paramilitary zones rule with an iron hand. Corruption and oppression is rife throughout the city. Any uprising is brutally dealt with and free speech heavily censored. For entertainment for the masses, a game show has been created. A sadistic game called The Running Man. Here enemies of the state are giving the chance to win themselves freedom by running the gauntlet through a labyrinth of tunnels and rooms. Each zone leads you to a psychotic murderous type of futurist gladiator. Each ready to slice and dice you with their chosen method of death as the public crowds cheer them on. Can anyone escape this brutal game of death?

Does the hero have a day job?
Ben is a police helicopter pilot and bench presses weights in his spare time.

What’s our heroes special skills?
After being framed for killing protesting civilians after refusing orders he’s renamed The Butcher of Bakersfield. Making him the perfect villain to drop center stage on The Running Man. Self preservation and the desire to help his fellow innocent friends brings out all the hero skills in our Ben Richards.

Heroes weapon of choice?
With his physique and strength, his two arm guns are the only weapons he needs to start with.

Heroes drink of choice?
No drink of choice for our hero on The Running Man but! oh my god, just check Arnold Schwarzenegger going totally INSANE on these Japanese beer and energy drinks commercials here. 

Does hero have a sidekick?
Trying to rebel against the totalitarian state are a group of resistance fighters. Two of whom have been captured and imprisoned along with Ben working at a labor camp fortress. Desperate to breakout, William Laughlin (Yaphet Kotto) and electronics expert Harold Weiss (Marvin J McIntyre) join forces with Ben. Soon they will find themselves fighting for their lives inside the game and even worse, wearing some fetching bright yellow spandex!

The Running Man (1987) Arnold Schwarzenegger Yaphet Kotto Marvin J McIntyre

Hot girl? Damsel in distress or ass kicker?
She hits all three with HOT girl in pole position. Amber Mendez (Maria Conchita Alonso) is pure fire, a total smoke show! My temperature rises through the roof just thinking back to the film! Damn! Makes this wolfman weak at knees I tell you. Stay focused Mikey!…. Ok! Poor Amber is an innocent girl caught up in all this mess. Chilling out in her apartment when jacked up stranger danger, Ben appears. Amber soon becomes a damsel in distress for a tiny bit but this tough, feisty Cuban beauty ain’t gonna take too much shit before she unleashes her Latin wrath.

The Running Man (1987) Arnold Schwarzenegger Maria Conchita Alonso tied up super sexy

Maria Conchita Alonso can be admired for her beauty and toughness in Predator 2 (1990) and Extreme Prejudice (1987). Arnold always tends to have strong dark haired beauties as his leading ladies. I can’t image it’s just coincidence? Commando (1995) Rae Dawn Chong, Predator (1987) Elpidia Carrillo, Total Recall (1990) Rachel Ticotin, Eraser (1996) Vanessa Williams, Twins (1988) Danny DeVito (Haha you are still awake).

Who’s the main baddie?
The Running Man game show is hosted by the egotistical, Damon Killian (Richard Dawson). The driving force for the popularity of the macabre show. He orchestrates the action between the audience. Letting them decide which “stalker” to pit against the unfortunate contestants.
Richard Dawson will be well known to many as the host of another game show. Not quite as brutal I must add. Family Feud which ran for many years. Also for the WWII comedy Hogan’s Heroes. I guess it must of been quite the shocker for many American’s to see this likable TV star’s portrayal of the sadistic Damon Killian? The Running Man would become his last appearance as an actor.

The Running Man (1987) Maria Conchita Alonso Sven Ole Thorsen Richard Dawson

Random factoid I just learnt.
Richard Dawson was born in the UK in Gosport, Hampshire only a short drive from me and a place I’ve visited many times.

Baddies special skills?
Killian’s army of psychotic mercenary Stalkers are Subzero (Professor Toru Tanaka), Buzzsaw (Gus Rethwisch) Dynamo (Erland van Lidth), Captain Freedom (Jesse Ventura) and Fireball (Jim Brown). Using a section of chainsaws, flamethrowers, electricity, hockey sticks with razors and any other death bringing chopping device.

Psycho baddies rating out of ten? 10/10
All combined they are a force to be reckoned with but one on one Ben might have a slight chance?

Heroes balls of steel and anger ratings out of ten? 10/10
To take on that army of death his balls must be ginormous!!! No idea where he hid them in his spandex cat suit though?

Surely it features a training montage scene?
You come around here calling yourself an 80s movie and you ain’t got no training montage. Shame on you. So here’s Shape Up With Arnold Schwarzenegger (1982) with added porno music!

Does it feature an impossible mission?
Good god yes! I would of died just going down the tunnel shoot at the beginning!

Does the hero get a chance to show off their muscles?
Of course. Picking up heavy stuff and pounding bad guys with his arm veins popping out is what he’s here for.

Will I be needing to pause the video player? AKA are there any boobies?
No released items of desire I’m sad to report! However Maria Conchita Alonso in a tight all-in-one cat suit is what dreams are made from. And the all dancing show girls have some crazy tight buns in their leotards during the opening of the games.

Sex scene?
Too busy trying to stay alive.

The Running Man (1987) host Damon Killian na dthe dancing girls

Any good totally random surprise scenes?
Come on the whole film is random!  So hard to pick one, so here’s three. 1) The operatic Dynamo singing before he goes to start his killing spree lit up like a Christmas tree is a fun one. 2) The leader of the resistance fighters Mic is Mick Fleetwood from the band Fleetwood Mac but whats random is why did they make him up to look old? It just looked odd. 3) “Don’t Touch That Dial!” A line said by Frank Zappa’s son Dweezil Zappa who plays Stevie is ace. The line is from the song I’m The Slime from his Dad’s band The Mothers of Invention.

Films body count? Low/Medium/High
If you go on the massacre at the beginning then this film is bonkers high.

Innocent baddie death rate?
All these sadistic murderous bastards deserve what’s coming.

The Running Man (1987) Arnold Schwarzenegger jesse ventura

Explosion ratio? Low/Medium/High?
Loads but not as crazy as some from this months action movie marathon.

How many stuntmen probably really died making this film?
I wonder if they had some stuntmen test pilots trying out the tunnel shoots for the first time? Just to see if they make it out alive at the bottom.

Any cool car chases?
Ummmm not sure you can say Dynamo chasing Ben in his cheesy cardboard car with him covered in flashing lights can be called cool?

Best lines
I love you. You’re beautiful. Show-time! Now DIE!

Any other familiar faces and actors pop up?
Tons of them! I can’t do everything they’re in so here’s some edited highlights.
Yaphet KottoAcross 110th Street (1972) and Truck Turner (1974)
Jim BrownThe Dirty Dozen (1967) and Mars Attacks! (1996)
Sven-Ole ThorsenGladiator (2000) and Hard Target (1993)
Jesse VenturaPredator (1987) and Demolition Man (1993)
Erland van LidthStir Crazy (1980) and The Wanderers (1979)

Production Credits
This is crazy if you didn’t know already but directing duties fall to Paul Michael Glaser aka David Starsky from STARSKY AND HUTCH!….. It’s  based on a 1982 novel of the same name by Richard Bachman which is Stephen King’s pen name. The Running Man screenplay is by Steven E. de Souza who worked on 48 Hrs (1982) Commando (1985) Die Hard (1988) and Die Hard 2 (1990) to name a few.

Cheese-O-Meter! Low/Medium/High?
This is high cheese and that’s why we love it so much.

IMDB score rating – 6.7/10

Wolfman ACTION & FUN rating – 9/10

Wolfman over all film rating – 7/10

Closing thoughts………………………………………….
The running starts right from the get go. No time for build ups. We are catapulted straight into the action. Arnie gets to say his customary line “I’ll be back“. The screen is full of steroid, testosterone and pure macho action-filled entertainment. As we’ve seen on the cheese-o-meter, above, it’s score high but like I say…. “That’s why we love it so much“. Go have a re-watch if you haven’t seen it for years. I’m sure like me you’ll enjoy yourself, if not there’s always Maria Conchita Alonso to look all puppy dog eyed at.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts on the films if you want but please don’t feel you need to as I know it’s pretty relentless this month. However, most important, have fun with the movies.

Keep it filmy…. Mikey Wolf.

9 thoughts on “The Running Man (1987) Starsky Directs Arnie In Sci-fi Gladiator Game Show Mayhem

      • Way back in the day when I was still doing a podcast, I told the story of the day Ventura got elected in 1998 and how the lesson I learned that day was how I knew Trump was going to win in 2016.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You’re story told a very true lesson and that he will be back for another term. Especially if he gets Ventura as his running mate LOL or the Demos stop infighting and sort themselves out. Just like our useless lot over here. :-/ ….. Thanks J-Dub

          Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, everything going wrong over here in 2019? Several years a little late, I think!
          As I’ve said, I LOVE Richard in this, but you could see the seeds of this personality pop up sometimes in Match Game, which I watched growing up. He could be downright bitchy and bossy on Match Game, lol !!

          I love the costumes they’re wearing which are strategically designed to make the waist look smaller.
          As for Jesse Ventura–I guess I had no idea he did a bad job. My sad, head up my own butt hazy memory of him was that he was honest and straight forward (but not the same way as the idiot president). But that doesn’t mean he would know what he was doing.

          But didn’t the first indicator of “celebrities” winning happen way before that with Reagan, I wonder, j-Dub? Maybe he didn’t count ’cause he DID have political experience after acting.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Chee chin, poy poy! Lord, those Arnie commercials are something else! Funny how we never get to see these commercials here in the US, and strange to discover big-name actors are doing things overseas we don’t even know about!

    Anyway, I watched The Running Man not too long ago, as part of my ‘watching ’80s films again’ jag, and I had a cheesy good time with it…I hadn’t seen it since it since it’s original release. And I remember thinking Richard Dawson’s appearance as not a shock or surprise, but more spot-on casting-wise; he does a game show now (at the time), why not in the future as well?


  2. Hah! There were several very good jokes here, which I always appreciate.

    This film is indeed totally random and cheesy. I’m not sure if I knew this was based on a Stephen King story or if I just forgot. And it’s set in 2019! That must count as a fail as far as predictions of the future go. It’s also interesting that “I’ll be back” was seen as an Arnie catchphrase already, unless he was trying to make it into one.


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