Monday, October 23, 2017

Which Way to the Front? (1970)

How bad is it? Not good, not particularly terrible.
Should you see it? Maybe as a second feature with "The Dirty Dozen."

I saw this in the theater when it came out (I was a kid) and thought it disappointing. That opinion has not changed. Jerry Lewis plays a wealthy man who wants to fight the Nazis, but is listed 4-F, so hatches a scheme to impersonate a German officer he just happens to be a ringer for and lead an escapade with others not otherwise able to fight. It has a few laughs, but seems tired. This was the beginning of the darker, more introspective, satiric films Lewis started making and is much better than "Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River" (and don't bother watching) and, presumably, better than "The Day the Clown Cried."

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Where the Boys Are '84 (1984)

aka Where the Boys Are

How bad is it? Pointless drivel.
Should you see it? No.

I don't get it - some people like this film. The original film, from the 1960's had an innocent charm and the hit Connie Francis song, while this one has, um, 94 minutes of running time. Lisa Hartman, Lynn Holly Johnson, Wendy Schaal and Lorna Luft are the girls on spring break in Florida. A male prostitue gets shamed. A (male) sex doll explodes. There's some weird plot line about a pianist and his mother and a mansion. There's a "Hot Bod" contest. Oh, that's why some people like this. It has bad dialogue and doesn't go anywhere.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Wheels of Terror (1990)

How bad is it? It's just one long mediocre chase scene.
Should you see it? Actually, it's pretty watchable, if you can find it.

Perhaps trying to recapture the TV movie magic of "Duel" - or maybe "The Car" - this TV movie is about a stranger in a black Charger who abducts girls and sometimes rapes and kills them. Then he takes the daughter of a bus driver and she (the girl's mom) gives chase. The chase scene is lengthy, perhaps half of the film, and it had some thought behind it, but it also has its ludicrous moments, particularly at the end when the girl escapes. [Not much of a spoiler, there.] Most people's eye glaze over half-way through the chase in this, but I was entertained.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Werewolves on Wheels (1971)

How bad is it? Unsuccessful attempt to blend genres.
Should you see it? Yes, but have the fast-forward button handy.

A group of bikers stumble upon Satanic monks who want to sacrifice what looks like the one female member of the gang, but they escape, only to find the girl's been cursed to become a werewolf. The film is s..l..o..w. There's a lot of footage of riding in dull desert, some displays of brotherhood, some drug use, a little violence, a flash of nudity, but no werewolves until near the end. The music's typical fuzzy rock of the era and the lighting is variable, the acting passable. It's just duller than you hope.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Warlords (1988)

How bad is it? It's a Fred Olen Ray post-apocalypse flick, so pretty bad.
Should you see it? No - the cast is tempting, though.

Post apocalypse, cloned warrior David Carradine rescues Dawn Wildsmith from a bunch of mutants, then they team up to defeat a warlord, rescue a scientist being forced to create a mutant army and also rescue Carradine's wife from the warlord's harem. With Sid Haig, Ross Hagen, Robert Quarry, Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer and one of the worst puppet monsters ever. There's a mutant head with an annoying voice that Carradine has to carry around. Carradine kills the same few mutants over and over to save on costs. It's all quite shoddy and dull, as Fred Olen Ray-directed films tend to be.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wacko (1982)

How bad is it? Poor horror spoof.
Should you see it? Maybe. Some love it (I didn't). Probably not, though.

It's Halloween prom night (!) and the pumpkinheaded lawnmower killer (!) is back after 13 years. With a cast including Joe Don Baker, Stella Stevens, George Kennedy, Julia Duffy, Andrew Dice Clay and Charles Napier, how could this horror spoof go wrong? Well, every gag misfires. In fact, there aren't really jokes - it's more like: here's a reference to a horror film that you'll get, so laugh, damn it! The film has a lot of people who are fond of it, so maybe it's just me, but I think it's bad.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Virtual Encounters (1996)

How bad is it? Plotless soft-core porn.
Should you see it? Nah.

Woman tries to get in touch with her sensual side with a virtual reality device and ends up in dull, fairly conventional scenarios. Somehow, this has a sequel.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Virgin High (1991)

How bad is it? Failed attempt to re-create "Screwballs," which was itself mediocre.
Should you see it? It's only for fans of the cast.

Girl gets sent to a Catholic girls' school and her boyfriend tries to see her. Linnea Quigley, Burt Ward and Michelle Bauer are in it, as are the requisite topless scenes and groan-worthy attempts at humor.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Violent New Breed (1997)

How bad is it? Cheap gore film with some ideas.
Should you see it? Ugh. If you're a regular viewer of bad films, you should probably see one Todd Sheets film and this would be the one.

I'm not a fan of Todd Sheets - and there are plenty of reviews on this blog that prove it - but this exercise in excess is sort of watchable. There's plenty of gore and violence in close-up (the teeth being pulled bothered me particularly - for personal reasons), as is usual for his shot-on-video projects, but there's something more for once. Demons have got men hooked on a drug so that they can breed with human women and create the titular new breed and usher in the antichrist and end of days. There's worm-like creatures coming from a head wound, a tentacle from a gut, a birth scene with a surprise... and then the coup de grace: Rudy Ray Moore (!) as an ass-kicking minister! Given that the budget was close to zero, there's a lot of extras in crowd shots, some effects are good and the music (metal/industrial, mostly also by Sheets) is more than competent. Certainly not for all tastes.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Vibrations (1996)

How bad is it? Silly, cliche'd and weird.
Should you see it? Yes. This has developed a following among bad film enthusiasts.

I saw this when it came out and was underwhelmed. It developed a cult following, so I re-watched it and, boy howdy* did it age badly!

James Marshall plays a musician who loses both hands when he encounters some rednecks, then becomes a wino and flops in a warehouse where there's a rave and Christina Applegate discovers him - and brings him home, thinking apparently that a shower was all he needed. Then she gets friends to make robotic hands for him, which, naturally, leads to his portraying a robot DJ at raves and becoming an underground sensation. The film hits every implausible hackneyed idea, including a reunion with a distant father (who, of course, is a cop - and this, of course, leads to Dad getting even with the guys who maimed his son... and while this is a long digression, let it be pointed out that he knows they're the bad guys because Marshall vaguely nods, once, and not even toward anyone). The fake rubber hands are the worst part and account for the most laughs - they get stabbed (leading, of course, to the stabber running away in fright), they get burned (of course, heroically putting out a fire) and they paw oddly in a romantic scene - no wait, it's the giant robotic hands in the love scene. Remarkably, if you're into techno music from 1993, the soundtrack's quite good.

*I have no idea why I used that expression. I never have before, never will again.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Vegas in Space (1991)

How bad is it? Plotless camp.
Should you see it? Yes, if your tolerance for drag queens is high enough or you're high enough.

"Based on the party by Ginger Quest," this took years to make, apparently, and yet there isn't any real plot. Men are sent to investigate an all-female planet, so have to take sex-change pills and then the film is just a bunch of party scenes with drag queens, ridiculous miniatures, sets made of bed sheets and a few good one-liners, e.g. "Shoot on sight anyone wearing beige." It was probably more fun to make than it is to watch.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The lost films of Steve Postal

This was supposed to be a review of "Vampires from Outer Space," but I got ripped off and never got to see it - if it even exists any more. Beware the dark web.

Steve Postal directed 5 to 7 films from 1990-1991, though only Honeymoon Murders and its sequel are currently listed on IMDb and are apparently still available from his distribution company. Missing are:

Billy the Kid Meets the Vampires (1991)

Billy the outlaw goes on vacation, only to run into the titular vampires. Bad acting ensues. 114 minutes. Starring Michael K. Saunders, Debra Orth, Angela Shephard. I'm told the artwork on the box is "amazing" - which probably means hand-drawn.

Penpal Murders (1991)

Penpal visits and, eventually, kills. 118 minutes. Starring Jay Brockman, Jennifer Tuck, Angela Shephard.

Vampires from Outer Space (1990)

Vampire from the planet Cirrus marries earth man, takes groom to an island where strange things occur. 114 minutes. Starring Alan Ramey, Angela Shephard, Jennifer Tuck.
There are some stories online about Postal, such as his self-publishing a novel, then requiring those auditioning for his films to buy a copy to use as a script. It's likely that he changed his own IMDb listing (changing from "Steven" to "Steve" as he's billed in the films) and removed films that had received poor reviews by the handful that had seen them.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Urban Warriors (1989)

How bad is it? Bottom of the barrel Italian post-apocalypse film.
Should you see it? No.

There are a couple of decent shots in this film, stolen from "The Final Executioner," otherwise, this is among the worst of Road Warrior clones from Italy in the 1980's - a truly dreadful sub-genre. After a nuclear holocaust - HOURS after, mind you - people have become mutants, except for a few scientists working underground. It's up to them to save what's left of humanity, such as bad acting. There's a girl who gets rescued, takes off her clothes, and gets forgotten. There's a chase scene that makes no sense in at least three different ways. There's little bang for the buck, and not many bucks were spent.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Unkissed Bride (1966)

aka Mother Goose a Go-Go

How bad is it? Sex comedy without sex... or comedy.
Should you see it? Only if you've never seen a weird 1960's film.

This stars Tommy Kirk as a groom who has performance issues on his honeymoon because of a fixation he has on Mother Goose rhymes. He goes to a psychiatrist who treats him with LSD and a variety of sexual scenarios. If that's not random enough, Henny Youngman has a cameo. There's not much bawdiness for a 1960's sex farce and there's not much that's funny. It's just weird.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Unborn II (1984)

aka Baby Blood 2

How bad is it? Shabby horror.
Should you see it? Not really.

First, the title's a problem, because the unborn babies of the first film are now born. There's some mutant babies and a woman trying to kill them off, which leads to scenes of babies being shot in the face. There's a shootout in a nursery. There's a flesh-eating giant baby that makes for scenes of people wrestling with an obvious puppet. It's not as slow as the original, but it's still slow.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Tycus (1999)

How bad is it? Recycled disaster flick.
Should you see it? No. The only good bits are from films you've seen.

The only enjoyment to get from this film where Dennis Hopper reacts to the world being hit by debris from a meteorite is trying to name the movies from which footage was stolen. "Dante's Peak" is the obvious one; "Air America" gave the plane footage; some forgettable TV meteor film supplies the rest. The borrowed footage is not exactly seamlessly added - the landscape changes, people's clothing changes, etc. There is literally nothing new here.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Tryst (1994)

How bad is it? Failed film noir of minor interest.
Should you see it? Don't go out of your way.

Starring Barbara Carrera, David Warner and Louise Fletcher, this film tries to recreate films like "Body Heat," but doesn't really work. The abused wife of a wealthy man plans to murder her husband and falls in love with the son of the household help. People's personalities change on a whim in order to propel the plot twists. Coincidences abound. A cop gets hit by a car with no consequences. There's some titillating nudity, but also a brutal rape scene. Many of the line readings seem to be just that - someone reading their lines.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Truck Stop Women (1974)

aka Truckstop Women

How bad is it? Typical exploitation fare.
Should you see it? Yes. All Claudia Jennings films are worth seeing.

I love Claudia Jennings. If you haven't seen "Gator Bait" or "The Great Texas Dynamite Chase," do so. Among the many exploitation films she did in her brief career, this one is probably the least endearing, and perhaps the cheapest. In New Mexico, a woman runs a brothel at a truck stop. The mafia decides to take over. The madame's daughter (Jennings) decides to fight back. There's car chases and shoot-outs and a lot of nudity - including the memorable assets of Uschi Digard, who has no lines (probably because of her accent). Jennings plays a seriously hard depraved sociopath, which doesn't match her usual breezy performances, but shows she had range. The film's low budget does show. The best scene is probably a guy getting trampled by cattle.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Tribulation (2000)

aka Apocalypse III: Tribulation

 aka Apocalypse III: Tribulation

 How bad is it? Typical low-budget Christian thriller with interesting cast.
Should you see it? Not really, but again, check out the cast and just try to resist.

This is yet another Christian "what if the Revelation of John actually happened now" film, starring Gary Busey, Howie Mandel and Margot Kidder, with Nick Mancuso as the anti-christ. Let that sink in a while. People jump out of windows and live, then walk around with "666" stamped on their hands, then something involving virtual reality goggles, the old hiding in a cupboard trick, an exploding cottage, then a hasty and easy denouement. In all fairness, I didn't see episodes 1,2 or 4.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Treasure of the Four Crowns (1983)

How bad is it? Between the dull bits, it's ridiculous.
Should you see it? Yes, but only if you see it in 3-D.

This guy's face falls apart in pieces over several minutes.

In the early 1980's there was a brief resurgence of 3-D films (this one's the better polarized, not red/green) and this one went way over-the-top in throwing stuff at the screen; in fact, that's all there is to this film. I stopped counting after the 27th thing coming at me. There's four crowns with attached orbs that have power over things like famine and war - how is never explained - and ooh something coming at the screen! - um, and everyone's out to get - ooh, another thing shot at me! - um, there's some Indiana Jones sort of - dang! that's a lot of stuff coming at the screen! Yeah, the plot means nothing. There's a tacked-on cliffhanger ending setting up a sequel (never made) that makes no sense.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Too Much Sun (1990)

How bad is it? Scattershot comedy occasionally hits the mark.
Should you see it? If you're a fan of the cast.

Wealthy man dies, leaving his fortune to his two children, if one produces an heir in a conventional manner - both are gay. Directed by Robert Downey Sr., this stars Eric Idle and Andrea Martin, with Allan Arbus, Robert Downey Jr., Howard Duff, James Hong and Ralph Macchio. The film starts out satirizing the extreme hubris of the wealthy in L.A. (while also depicting some of the scummiest areas), then becomes an attempt to squeeze out every possible offensive joke it can, mostly through stereotypes. Your level of tolerance for gay jokes will determine how you feel about this. There are some very funny moments, some clever ideas, but not nearly enough for its two hour running time.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Time Served (1999)

How bad is it? Tame exploitation that goes nowhere.
Should you see it? Not really.

This is an exploitation film that fails because of the quality of its cast. Catherine Oxenberg takes the rap for her child when her abusive husband gets shot by their son and gets sent to prison. There they have a work release program that sends the girls out to be strippers! That's a brilliant conceit. Jeff Fahey, Bo Hopkins, Louise Fletcher and Larry Manetti have roles and it's both a stripper film and a women in prison film, but tries to be earnest and tasteful, so it ends up being almost nothing until an abrupt ending. There's not enough brutality for a WIP film or enough tawdriness for a stripper flick.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Thunder in Paradise II (1994)

aka Thunder in Paradise 2

How bad is it? Silly spliced-together TV action.
Should you see it? Against my better judgment... I say yes.

This comes in a box set (!) of three Thunder in Paradise films; the first one was a pilot episode for a TV series, the other two were cobbled together by splicing episodes of the TV show. It's best not to watch them together, though, as characters just appear and disappear and get re-cast (the annoying little girl in this one looks nothing like her counterpart in the first film). Chris Lemmon and Carol Alt have roles and Patrick Macnee does not... but he does get billing! There's an Arabian prince kidnapping a woman after promising to marry her, a bad guy in a ridiculous fake beard, an overlong dream sequence of a harem and then the required chase scene involving a boat that has rocket launchers and stealth technology - which, given a tiny budget, is where most of the laughs come. Oh, and though I hadn't mentioned it, it's a Hulk Hogan star vehicle (the credits nicely point out his real first name is Terry) - so it's got that going for it, which is nice.

Friday, September 29, 2017

3 Strikes (2000)

How bad is it? Unfunny comedy.
Should you see it? If you know who DJ Pooh and E-40 are.

Every positive review of this is by a young black male, so I'm not the audience for this. A guy's released from jail just as a "Three Strikes" law is passed and the guy who picks him up ends up shooting at police, making this his third strike. The rest of the film is his trying to stay ahead of the law, a bit like "The Fugitive," but substituting fart jokes for tension. There's some familiar faces: David Alan Grier, Mo'Nique, George Wallace, Antonio Fargas and Mike Epps.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Tha Eastsidaz (2000)

How bad is it? Plotless rap vehicle.
Should you see it? If you're a hopeless Snoop fan.

Okay, I've lost my notes on this one and it isn't terribly memorable, so the review is going to be as shoddy as the film. "Tha Eastsidaz" was the name of a short-lived rap trio that included Snoop Dogg and this film was probably made just for the soundtrack album. The characters seem to sleepwalk through it, their lines spontaneous or improvised - no writing credit is given. I honestly can't tell you what the plot is and I'm not going to look it up; it's for those who want to see Snoop on film being Snoop.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Terror in the Swamp (1985)

aka Nutriaman: The Copasaw Creature

How bad is it? Amateurish, but not completely incompetent.
Should you see it? It's hard to find, not really worth seeking, but if you find it...

First, how could you NOT watch something called "Nutriaman: The Copasaw Creature?" Filmed in the Louisiana bayous with a local cast, including one guy whose accent was so thick he was redubbed, this is the story of trying to breed a supersized nutria (um, why not just get a capybara, that's sort of what they are) and getting a killer bigfoot-like monster instead. We never really get a good look at the monster, which is probably good, but we get some real hicksploitation: one guy says he had to watch the monster kill his dad because he was too drunk to act. There's a helicopter that dumps pesticide on people hunting the beast, just to make them move along and, in the end, it's a voodoo priestess that ends the show by luring people into quicksand. Sounds like a great film, doesn't it? Unfortunately, the first half is very good, but it unravels, cheapens and sputters in the second half.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Terror in Paradise (1990)

How bad is it? Barely there action film.
Should you see it? No - not that you're likely to find it.

This film is nearly impossible to find (VHS only); this review is from my recollection 25 years after seeing it. Filmed in the Philippines, produced by Cirio Santiago (well-known on this blog), and directed and written by brothers, this is truly by-the-numbers: a couple stumbles upon evildoers and then gets hunted by them, with completely predictable results. There's a guy who recovers from facial plastic surgery in a moment. The pretty female lead takes off her clothes whenever possible. The military guys can't hit anything with weaponry. There's a helicopter, but I don't remember if the cliche' of it exploding is used.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Tentacles (1977)

How bad is it? Exceptionally dull supposed horror.
Should you see it? Only if you want to see the cast embarrass themselves.

This was made to capitalize on "Jaws," substituting a giant octopus (created, I think, by underground radio waves?) for the shark. John Huston, Shelley Winters, Bo Hopkins, Henry Fonda and Claude Akins are in it, but have little to do - Fonda's scenes look like they were shot separately and spliced in. In the end, Hopkins convinces (yes, that's the right word) killer whales to kill the octopus. The action scenes are the least action-filled they could be, with some good underwater shots and an obvious small octopus in a tank in close-up. The soundtrack seems to be the same three tunes repeated, with no connection to the action. There's a scene with Winters on a phone and her voice cannot be heard. The plot just picks up storyline threads and drops them again. Action scenes get gutted by freeze-frames and cutaways to a non-sequitur guy in an Uncle Sam suit telling jokes. Director Hellman (Assonitis) made some other poor films, but mostly produced after this one.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Teen Wolf Too (1987)

How bad is it? Dull, sloppy sequel is the worst boxing film ever made.
Should you see it? Chances are, you already have - but, no.

The original Teen Wolf was not good, but it had originality, energy and a charismatic lead; this sequel has none of that. The plot is identical to the first film, except that Michael J. Fox is replaced with Jason Bateman and boxing replaces basketball. It's tedious and forced. Where the first film treated lycanthropy as a problem of pubescence (lots of unwanted hair in both), this one has nothing to say.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Teen Vamp (1988)

How bad is it? Fails as both horror and comedy.
Should you see it? No.

This film tries to be a throwback to the 1950's monster flicks, but uses cars from the 1950's and hair and clothes from the 1980's (and several anachronisms, such as flags with too many stars, advertising logos, etc.) and a plot from Bad Movie 101. A nerd takes up with a prostitute, who turns out to be a vampire and she turns him into a vampire, which suddenly makes him (inexplicably) cool and strong enough to beat up the bullies that tormented him. His mother doesn't like the change and gets an exorcism planned (though that isn't traditionally the way t stop vampires). Everything's cheap, which one expects, but it's also deadly dull.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Teen Sorcery (1999)

How bad is it? Lame and sometimes laughable.
Should you see it? Not really, though I have a soft spot for Canadian/Romanian films.

This is one of hundreds of films about teenage girls involved in witchcraft and one of six films made by a Canadian production team with a Romanian crew in less than a year (I'm trying to track down some of the others). It starts well, with some iffy special effects, bogs down in the middle and then shifts gears and becomes a completely different film. Two cheerleaders each have half of a magic amulet and vie for power in high school, summoning the dark lord to move a test to another day and to bring them pizza - you know, as you do when you have such power at hand. The acting is cheesy (and the accents do not match it's supposed locale at all, in fact don't match each other), but it's when there's a wormhole in a locker that brings them to a medieval land and a girl turns into a poorly-rendered dragon that you really wonder why you're still watching. Aimed at tweens, presumably.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

TeenAlien (1978)

aka Varrow Mission

How bad is it? Made by teenagers, and looks it.
Should you see it? Sure. It has it's low-rent charms.

Available in two versions on VHS, this story follows a group of teens decorating an old mill for a Halloween party. Why they're wearing costumes days ahead of the party isn't explained, except the story doesn't work without it. You see, the one dressed as an alien... is actually an alien and hunts the rest of the cast. The kids are all squeaky clean (even for Utah) and none can act, but the film is one of the first of those "anyone can make a film" things that got released in the '80's. The monster is cheap, of course, and not frightening.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

More bad news

While other things are getting better for me, this blog has a problem. I lost the list of the next 80 films I was going to review and my notes on them. I also lost the back-up of just the list of films. I also lost some of the original source material, so I can't recreate the list.

It's gonna be a while, folks.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

All hell breaks loose

Sorry - this blog's hiatus will be longer than expected. Lots of personal stuff to tend to.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Temp post

I just finished with the "S's." I thought that would never end. Now I need a week off to do other things.

Surf II (1984)

How bad is it? Dated silly comedy.
Should you see it? If you're old enough to remember 1984, it has its moments, so yes.

This has a terrifically weird cast. Eddie Deezen stars as a nerd (of course) who gets revenge on a group of surfers by giving them plutonium laced cola, which turns them into zombies with a punk esthetic (mohawks, ripped clothes, etc.). Ruth Buzzi, Lyle Waggoner, Cleavon Little, Linda Kerridge, Carol Wayne, Eric Stoltz, Terry Kiser, Ron Palillo and Brinke Stevens are all in it. There's a great soundtrack, featuring bands like Oingo Boingo. The humor is spotty, and often dated and politically incorrect - and Deezen's an acquired taste to be sure - but there are a couple of good laughs.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Superchick (1973)

How bad is it? Mediocre 1970's sex farce.
Should you see it? Only for the cast.

This film stars Joyce Jillson, who became an astrologer and (yes, this is true) advisor to Nancy Reagan in the White House. It also has John Carradine, Dan Haggerty (unbilled as a biker) - and Uschi Digard and Candy Samples, so there's some enormous breasts on display. There really isn't much of a plot; the story just follows a stewardess/kung fu expert through her escapades, which include a pot party, a hi-jacking, the mile-high club, a run in with a biker gang and about twenty lovers. It's mild exploitation of the very-1970's breezy style (as opposed to most 1970's exploitation I cover on this blog).

Friday, September 1, 2017

Suicide Cult (1975)

aka The Astrologer

How bad is it? Interesting premise, badly botched.
Should you see it? It's dull and confusing, but worth a look, I suppose.

This got re-titled, I think, because there was another film (made by Craig Denney) that year with the same name. The CIA (actually an organization called Interzod, but it's CIA) has computers that are able to use astrology to figure out what each person's potential future could be. There's a guy in India that may be the anti-christ and he has the cult of the title. Meanwhile, the CIA researcher's girlfriend may be destined to be the mother of the second coming of Christ, so he has to avoid having sex with her while the bad guy pursues her... but wait, there's more! The baby's actually already here, there's all kinds of odd subplots that don't go anywhere, including a psychic lady that keeps appearing for no discernible reason. There's some ideas, like implanted eyeball cameras, that get tossed around. There's ping-ponging between locales (3 continents in 8 minutes), all of them looking similar and India especially looks fake. The director tries to be artistic, but it's distracting to see every scene dissolve into its negative. The acting is spotty, there's little action or violence and no gore, and there's one Playboy playmate that goes topless (memorably).

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Swimsuit: The Movie (1997)

aka Swimsuit

How bad is it? Unfunny comedy.
Should you see it? Not really.

Not to be confused with "Swimsuit: The Opera," of course. This meant to mock the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and other things of that ilk, while still parading beautiful women in skimpy beachwear. That should work. Unfortunately the script fails where the similar "Drop Dead Gorgeous," which lambasted beauty pageants, succeeded. Some surprising people are in the cast: Nia Peeples, Jack Wagner and Cyd Charisse, but they aren't given much to do. Characters are stereotypes and most were hired for looks, not acting. The plot has a failing chemical company set up a contest to find the perfect model for a new line of swimwear... hmm, not much more to say about this one.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Swap (1969)

aka Sam's Song

How bad is it? "Frankenfilm" that doesn't use its material well.
Should you see it? It's only for completists of Robert DeNiro or Sybil Danning.

"Robert DeNiro and Sybil Danning in a film together? Count me in!" you might be saying, but DeNiro's footage was shot a decade before Danning's. Jennifer Warren was the main female character in the original film, which was shelved, unfinished, purchased and then forced into new footage of a very different film, involving making porn films, murder, a love quadrangle (the "swap" of the title), blackmail, drugging, kidnapping and the death of almost every character. It's still not interesting. The way the film tries to fill holes in the structure makes it amusing - and quite confusing - by the end.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Survival Earth (1985)

aka Survival 1990

How bad is it? Pretty damn bad.
Should you see it? This is another very hard to find VHS... and, no, it's not worth the search.

This was shot on video, for television, in Canada - the trifecta of sludge. The VHS has no date on it. The film is about a post-apocalyptic world of 1996 (yes, the original title has it wrong!) when there's been a financial collapse and apparently a nuclear problem, because there are mutants, which aren't really explained by finances. The main female character is a mutant, though her only symptoms seem to be a faulty memory and bad acting. Filmed in a local park and one building - perhaps only three walls, and NO roof - it's a story of a couple pursued by people reverting to animalism before being rescued by a warrior that eats their dog. There's a sub-plot about cloning that gets dropped and forgotten. Mostly, there's talk. They have nostalgia for crappy cars. There's a recital of the poetry of Yeats! Nothing happens, slowly.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Superman IV: Quest for Peace (1987)

How bad is it? Ban enough it ended a very profitable series.
Should you see it? If you haven't already, it's watchable, so yes.

The third installment of this series was disappointing, as it tried for humor and didn't work well. This time, there's still some failed humor, but the biggest problem is that the franchise went to Golan-Globus, maker of cheap films and the sudden drop in budget is obvious, with cheesy sets and effects. Christopher Reeve not only stars again, but he also is credited for the story idea - and it's a bad idea: Superman tries to rid the world of nuclear weapons, going against governments. Lux Luthor is back. There's a clone of Superman made from a strand of hair that becomes the evil Nuclear Man. The plot has more holes than a screen door. My eyes glazed over before the end.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Sunset Strip (1993)

How bad is it? Forgettable.
Should you see it? No.

John Mayall, the British blues legend, plays a strip club owner who gets killed early in this film. His friend, a photographer, is wrongly accused and pursues the real killers while trying to stay ahead of the police. There are long sequences of him riding his motorcycle through L.A. It's quite dull, despite strippers and trying to exploit the seamy drug and rock&roll scene.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Sunnyside (1979)

How bad is it? One of the worst "let's get the relative of someone famous" films.
Should you see it? Not even if you could find it.

This got a VHS release in the 1980's and I haven't seen a copy of it since, so I'm going by very fuzzy memories here. Joey Travolta tried to capitalize on his brother's sudden success, by acting and by singing, before he started working behind the camera; this was his first film. Travolta plays a guy who wants to leave his run-down New York neighborhood with his girlfriend, but first he has to make the streets safe from the local gang - I don't think the plot made more sense than that. There's a lot of forgettable pop songs, some bad acting and poor dialogue and uninvolving action scenes. Some TV actors, like Eric Lanueville and Talia Balsam, can be spotted in the cast.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Sun Bunnies (1976)

aka Beach Bunnies, aka Red Hot and Sexy

How bad is it? One of the dreariest 70's soft-core films, written by Ed Wood, Jr.
Should you see it? Not unless you must see everything Ed Wood was involved with.

This was the last film that Ed Wood Jr. had anything to do with, almost a remake of Stephen Apostoloff's (A.C. Stephen's) own"Snow Bunnies," both of which are in the "Big Box of Wood" box set. A reporter is sent to investigate whether or not a celebrity is gay, and/or possibly planning a sex change. The rest of the film centers around four girls who travel, slowly, to the beach, then form couples with locals, separate, have long dull sex scenes, occasionally reconnect for some bad dialogue to bridge scenes and then leave the beach, slowly. The first few minutes have some bizarre dialogue that only Wood could write; the rest of the limited entertainment value comes from the horrendous, even for 1970's porn, clothing and the minimalist interiors (two rooms, tops) that recycle props from other films by Apostoloff and Wood.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Suffer, Little Children (1983)

How bad is it? Extremely incompetent.
Should you see it? Nearly impossible to find, it's not worth the search.

The copy of this I saw looked to be about a 6th generation copy of a VHS and it was almost impossible to see or hear anything. Several actors speak at once, with a cheap in-camera microphone and then music is layered on top of it (there's a title song, which is laughable). A mute girl is sent to a boardinghouse and she turns out to have telekinetic powers given by devil worship... I think; the film is really that hard to watch. Though short, it's padded and there's a sense of menace in waiting for things to happen - completely unintended - with a big final scene that's both awful and worth sticking out the rest of the film for.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Day the Clown Cried (1972)

How bad is it? Unknown.
Should you see it? Unknown.

I was going to put this in an addendum, but the passing of Jerry Lewis this week makes this seem an appropriate time.

In the summer of 1970 (maybe 1971), my local theater showed all of Jerry Lewis' films from his solo career, in order, once per week. This gave my mother some needed time off and I became a pint-sized film critic. His earlier films were simple, easy, broad comedy, but there was always a dark serious note in the background. As the years passed, his films became more introverted and deeper in concept, more difficult to like. By "Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River," (1968) he was no longer funny and it seemed he was exorcising inner demons through film. "Which Way to the Front" (1970) was a disaster and it's themes point the way to this final, unreleased film of this period. It is quite likely that the film, while technically competent - even artistic, is unenjoyably bad.

Thirty minutes of the film have been released online and a script is available, but few have seen the best rough cut that Lewis had in his personal collection and donated to the National Archives registry of film (with the proviso that it not be released for some time). The official story is that the film got lost in a legal battle that Lewis never completely understood; the unofficial one that the film was unreleasably bad. The truth is probably that there was fear that the film would ruin the reputation of Lewis because of its handling of controversial themes. The plot follows a clown put into a Nazi concentration camp, who leads children to the gas chamber; Roberto Benigni managed to make a decent comedy of similar material as "Life Is Beautiful," but all reports are that "The Day the Clown Cried" misses the mark by a wide margin.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Suburban Roulette (1968)

How bad is it? Dreary where it should be lurid.
Should you see it? I think not.

I saw this on VHS 25 years ago as part of Joe Bob Briggs' "World's Sleaziest Videos" line - yeah, I've been doing this for a while - and think it was missing scenes, perhaps an entire reel. All of Herschell Gordon Lewis' films have been remastered from the best prints available and released on DVD, so your experience might be better. At the same time he was making gore films, children's films, LSD films and hicksploitation (the man did have range), he made this drama that looks like an idea from his days with David Friedman with the sex removed. A couple with a rocky marriage move to the suburbs and discover that their neighbors are swingers. This leads to the expected key parties and the roulette wheel of the title, before drunken gropings and recriminations and the couple deciding to move again and try again. There's no nudity, surprisingly. There's not much of anything, really.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator (1984)

How bad is it? Typical Troma release - low budget horror, poorly done.
Should you see it? Actually, yes! It's weird enough for one viewing.

No one gets stuffed in an incinerator. Guy gets knocked out, wakes up in mansion with two women (one a man in drag), has it suggested he has sex with one while the other watches, tries to escape, finds that one has disappeared ... whew... then he and the woman plan an escape, but end up making love while the missing "woman" watches, as was planned, and then they get captured and he's going to be forced to have sex with the "woman" and the other (Stephanie) gets stuffed in... an iron maiden.

THEN it gets weird! as Stephanie becomes Casey and Paul becomes Jared and the time setting of the film changes and the film becomes about missing money and revenge. It's like they gave up on one film and started anew. It almost works, but the low budget and lousy acting make it hard to warm up to.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Strike (2007)

aka 7-10 Split, aka Strike!

How bad is it? Unfunny comedy.
Should you see it? Nah.

I actually saw this because I confused it with a Volker Sclondorff film of the same name from the previous year. This stars Tara Reid and was directed by her brother; it has a number of familiar faces: Ray Wise, Vincent Pastore, Robyn Lively, Robert Carradine, Eddie George and Whitney Cummings. Two actors get fired from their pizza delivery job and go on the pro bowling tour - which makes little sense. Most of the alleys are the same one, inexpertly disguised and many of the interiors look like they were thrown together. There are a few mild jokes, the acting isn't great and the film just doesn't go anywhere.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Streets of Death (1988)

How bad is it? It's bottom of the trash barrel stuff.
Should you see it? No, unless you're doing a dissertation on how not to make a movie.

This was directed by Jeff Hathcock, who also lensed "Victims!" "Night Ripper!" and "Fertilize the Blaspheming Bombshell!" and this film differs in that the title doesn't have an exclamation point. I haven't reviewed those other films, because they're bad enough that they're not entertaining. This has two gay men abducting prostitutes and then using them to make snuff films, so a cop goes undercover as a hooker to catch them. It's more violent than you expect and a lot less sexy than these things tend to be (though there is one striptease that's passable). The dialogue is wretched and delivered woodenly. Mostly, the film is misogynistic and homophobic.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Street Wars (1992)

How bad is it? Low budget and weird, with a questionable ethos.
Should you see it? Only if you've enjoyed other Jaama Fanaka films.

Jaama Fanaka directed the surreally weird "Soul Vengeance" and the "Penitentiary" films, the third of which was bizarre. This one is a sort-of sequel to the latter. When a crack dealer is killed, his brother takes over, with a plan to become a legitimate businessman in three years, but doing just about anything until then. He ends up hunting down his rivals in an ultralight airplane with a mounted machine gun - so there ARE new ideas in exploitation! There's a few musical numbers, which aren't bad (except the lyrics), but which seem out of place. There's a funeral scene that I swear copies the "Blues Brothers" "I see the light!" scene. There are guys named Sugar Pop, Humungus (sic) and Montana. Khalid Muhammad plays himself, in a bid to make the film more than exploitation... it's not.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Strays (1991)

How bad is it? It's about the 5th worst killer cat movie.
Should you see it? If you like shoddy TV horror, sure.

No one has successfully made a killer housecat film. First of all, they're hard to train, secondly they're not all that frightening to begin with (though I had one that killed the neighbor's cat). This one has the added problem of being made for TV, so it can't even be over-the-top scary if it wanted to. Kathleen Quinlan and Timothy Busfield move into a house and adopt some strays that have moved in. Claudia Christian plays Kathleen's sister, so there's more people to attack. The attacks are silly, with the kitties looking off-screen at someone probably holding a toy or some food. In one memorable scene, a vent has a pillow stuffed into it to keep the cats out and one claws its way through - but it's obviously fake cat paws on the end of sticks! People keep trying to look terrified of cats that are just sitting there, but that gets old before the film's done.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Strangers In Paradise (1984)

How bad is it? Cheesy trash, but better than most Ulli Lommel films.
Should you see it? It's hard to find and not worth the search unless "The Apple" is a favorite.

Eventually, every Ulli Lommel film will have someone claiming it's a bad film classic. This is one of his earliest films, before horror and Nazisploitation, and he stars in it as well. A hypnotist is cryogenically frozen in Nazi Germany and then thawed in the present time by a guy who wants to convert punks, homosexuals and anyone else he doesn't like into his way of thinking. In the end, everyone is converted TO punks and homosexuality, including the lead villain. There's a ton of musical numbers, which aren't bad, but aren't quite what would fit with the film's theme, either. There's some laughs to be had in the earnestness of the kitschy characters, but it's more an oddity than a trash classic.