Regular FilmInk contributor Stephen Vagg provided an audio commentary and interview with Barry Bostwick for the special features. We talk to him about this legendary Hal Needham film.
Yep. Deeds Not Words.
The motto used in the film for Megaforce – the crack group of elite soldiers who would fly around the world fighting for freedom, the basis for the film. “Deeds not words” was also the working title for the sequel.
Wait – they were going to make a sequel to Megaforce? Wasn’t it a big flop?
They didn’t just want to make a sequel, they were going to make a franchise. But yes, it was a flop.
Then why is Umbrella doing such a comprehensive Blu-ray release of it?
There’s a massive cult for that film. Full of people, like, well, me.
Is this a I-love-it-because-I-saw-it-when-I-was-a-kid thing?
Absolutely. Remember the Village Roadshow Home video?
Megaforce was one of their VHS titles I was always getting out as a kid, along with films like High Road to China and Lone Wolf McQuade. I always loved Megaforce. Flying bicycles and taking on fictitious third world republics recreated in the Nevada desert. What’s not to love?
Well, a lot of people didn’t love it at the time…
There are a variety of reasons and theories for that. My audio commentary isn’t uncritical. I try to look at the film seriously. But the analysis does come from a place of love and affection.
Tell us about the film.
It was directed by Hal Needham, best known for his long association with Burt Reynolds. Their relationship was one of the inspirations for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s Cliff Booth and Ric Dalton. Needham was a stuntman – one of the best in Hollywood – and worked for many years with Reynolds, who became a friend. Needham started directing films with Smokey and the Bandit which starred Reynolds and that led to a series of other hit films, also starring Reynolds. One of them, Cannonball Run, was financed by Hong Kong’s Golden Harvest, who financed Megaforce.
Which doesn’t star Burt Reynolds…
No. Although Michael Beck plays a Burt Reynolds type. The main star is Barry Bostwick, who I talked to for over half an hour for the DVD.
Mr Brad Majors himself! What was that like?
Terrific. Lovely, unpretentious guy. Very unlike those flamboyant characters he specialises in playing on screen, especially in films like Megaforce. Amazing CV. He’s matter of fact about his experiences on the film, good and bad.
You’ll have to buy the Blu-ray!
What else can you tell us?
The Blu-ray release was put together by Mark Hartley, the filmmaker, who’s got a new movie coming out himself with Radha Mitchell (The Girl at the Window) – which has nothing to do with Megaforce I just thought I’d give it a plug. Mark has put together a few home entertainment packages over the years and he always does a super thorough job – and he too was a fan of the film since childhood, so there’s heaps of extras. There’s a limited issue Collector’s Edition which includes an A3 reversible poster, embroidered cap, 8x poster postcards. It’s inspired by the Official Megaforce Membership Kit which was advertised on the back of comics in 1982. There’s also a regular Blu-ray edition.
What did you find out about the film that you can tell us?
I can give you tidbits. The battles of the British SAS in Oman had an influence on the script, as did the election of Ronald Reagan. The female lead was Persis Khambatta, a trailblazing Indian actress. There was a fair bit of ad-libbing by the cast during filming, most of which took place in the Nevada desert. And the movie was a turning point in the career of Hal Needham – he never really got his groove back commercially after this film. I also talk a lot about the visual effects and the vehicles. Gilbert and Sullivan come up a lot for reasons that will be explained. The story of Megaforce is a fascinating one, flaws and all, as is the chat with Barry Bostwick. I learned a hell of a lot researching it and I hope fans of the film enjoy it.