Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Rented Lips (1988)

How bad is it? Extremely minor comedy.
Should you see it? Only if you're a fan of someone involved.

This was written and produced by Martin Mull, who also stars; Mull's laid-back ironic stance is a difficult one for a film and this doesn't really work. Directed by Robert Downey Sr., there are roles for Dick Shawn, Jennifer Tilly, Robert Downey Jr., June Lockhart, Edy Williams, Mel Welles, Jack Riley, Pat McCormick and Eileen Brennan. The plot's about documentary filmmakers who get to do their dream project as long as they also shoot a porn film. There's few solid jokes; it's more of a continuous mild satire that never catches fire.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Regenerated Man (1994)

How bad is it? Really bad, even for an incredibly cheap film.
Should you see it? Nah.

Debbie Rochon has a small part in this and it was directed by the guy who did "Deadly Spawn" and "Metamorphosis" and got his start working on Don Dohler films, so I hoped for something good. I was disappointed. A guy working in a lab that looks like someone's apartment makes a serum to rejuvenate flesh in amputees. Two guys break in, find nothing to steal, so force him to drink that serum and some other things. He becomes a wrinkly monster that kills only bad guys, often by shooting his finger bones at them! There's some shoddy CGI at the end and an implausibly happy ending, but mostly there's bad actors reciting lines poorly in ill-constructed, poorly shot scenes. It's static enough that it sometimes looks like a play - an elementary school play.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Raw Target (1995)

How bad is it? Typical cheap martial arts film.
Should you see it? Meh. You could do worse.

Wardrobe costs didn't cover shirts.

Dale "Apollo" Cook made at least a half dozen martial arts films, but this is the only one besides "American Kickboxer 2" I've seen.The plot has a kickboxer kill a guy in the ring, then covertly join the gang responsible for his brother's death, only to have the cop that's fighting the gang be the brother of the guy our hero killed in the ring. Got that? Then add a hokey romance (nudity), a lot of underlit fights among the heavily padded run time, bad guitar riff music, and an overacting bad guy.
Standard issue; the fights, or what you can see of them, are not bad.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Rabbit Test (1978)

How bad is it? Unfunny comedy.
Should you see it? Maybe for the cast.

This was Joan Rivers' only directorial effort and she's to blame for this film not working. Billy Crystal plays the first pregnant man (later, Schwarzenegger in "Junior" did it better), but other than some crude jokes, the possibilities of that premise aren't really explored. The film is very rapid jokes, about on the pace of "Airplane," which it predates, but almost none land due to poor timing. There's a huge cast of people who can be funny: Roddy McDowell (in drag!), Doris Roberts, Imogene Coca, Alex Roco, Richard Deacon, Alice Ghostly, George Gobel, Fannie Flagg, Norman Fell, Paul Lunde, Sheree North, Jimmie Walker, Billy Barty (in blackface!), Rosey Grier, Joan Rivers herself and her daughter Melissa Rivers, Charles Pierce, Valerie Curtin, Ron Rifkin, Michael Keaton, Peter Marshall, Charlotte Rae and Larry Gelman; they are almost all present for one scene, usually of less than a minute. The jokes are largely politically incorrect, various ethnicities get mocked and the film ends with a parody of the Nativity, trying to ensure that everyone that can be offended will be.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Revenge of the Teenage Vixens from Outer Space (1985)

How bad is it? It almost looks like a high school project.
Should you see it? Not really. It's hard to find, anyway.

This is one of those films where they take a great title and try to make a silly movie out of it, playing it straight. Sometimes that works; here it doesn't. A mis-delivered catalogue causes a planet of women to come to Earth seeking men. They seduce essentially every male in a high school, upsetting all the girls and finding that Earthlings are disappointing lovers. So they turn them into vegetables - literally: they become things like squash. The ending is a truly awful "homage" to "The Wizard of Oz," as they click their ruby heels and head for home. The film was shot mostly in 1981, with additional footage in 1985 (and people's looks changed) and stars people who never made another film. The actors look only slightly too mature for high school. The special effects are close to non-existent, which isn't surprising for a reported budget of around $30000. This used to show up late at night on the USA network and had a brief release on VHS.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Reefer Madness (1938)

aka Tell Your Children, aka Dope Addict, aka Doped Youth, aka Love Madness, aka The Burning Question

How bad is it? It's the most notorious of anti-drug "educational" films.
Should you see it? Yes.

Somehow, my review of this disappeared, so I'm doing a brief re-do.

Every generation has its favorite bad film. "Plan 9" wasn't well-known until the 1980's and before that, this was the choice, particularly among those who smoked marijuana while watching it. After a very long intro, it tells the story of four teens, the future of the country, who are led to destruction by a marijuana dealer who introduces them to parties with wild jazz music, frenetic dancing, making out and drugs. The most famous scene is the playing the piano "faster - FASTER." One guy when high runs his car over someone and continues, unconcerned. Another tries to rape a girl he wasn't really all that interested in. Then there's a gunshot - which somehow, when pointed at the ground, hits a woman in the back and kills her bloodlessly. There's a ludicrous trial and a commitment to an insane asylum. The acting, while over-the-top, is not terrible compared to that in similar films (Dave O'Brien, the manic addict in this, went on to do other films). The colorized version is not an improvement and the MST3K treatment adds little; it's silly enough on its own.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Revenge of Dr. X (1970)

aka Venus Flytrap, aka Body of the Prey, aka Revenge of Doctor X, aka The Double Garden, aka The Devil Garden, aka Revenge of the Venus Flytrap

How bad is it? Turgid retread of Universal horror themes with a silly monster.
Should you see it? Don't go out of your way, but if it shows up, it's worth a watch.

This film is usually seen by people who start out with bad directions. There was a story that it was written by Ed Wood, Jr (it wasn't) and the credits are for "Mad Doctor of Blood Island," with which it was billed, so people mistakenly report that John Ashley and Angelique Pettyjohn are in it (I really had hoped that it would include the deleted sex scene from that other film). In this, a man does experiments with plants, including an aquatic kind of venus flytrap procured for him by topless female divers in Japan. He creates a human/plant hybrid, which he has to feed ever larger animals, eventually including people. The creature turns into a sort of man with venus flytrap hands and uproots itself, going after more human prey. The scientist then debates whether he should warn people or protect his work. It's very dull, but there are a number of nods to classic horror, from the hunchback assistant to using lightning to animate the creature and it's not unwatchable.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Rats are Coming! The Werewolves are Here! (1972)

How bad is it? It's the worst Andy Milligan film, so the worst of the worst.
Should you see it? NO! I HATE THIS FILM.

In one of the first posts on this blog, I said I wasn't going to review Andy Milligan films and this film was the main reason why; this is I think the seventh of his now reviewed here. One of five films Milligan shot while in England, this takes place in a gloomy old house a long time ago (people wear period costumes not identifiable to era, though you can see light switches on the walls and a neon sign in one shot). A woman brings her husband home to meet her weird family and tries to hide the fact that she's pregnant. The sister whips and beats her imbecile brother and brings home a collection of rats which get tortured and killed: this is not faked. In the last few minutes, the titular werewolf turns out to be the brother. The rats - actually mice - were added three years after most of the film was shot, to capitalize on the surprise hits "Willard" and "Ben," which happen to be the names of two of the rats in this film. Like all of Milligan's films, this was shot in 16 mm, there's problems with sound pick up, action scenes are underlit, most of the film is just talking shot in wide angle, but the acting is better than usual for his films. I find it unwatchable... and I've seen it twice.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Return to Frogtown (1992)

aka Frogtown II, aka Hell Comes to Frogtown II

How bad is it? Terrible.
Should you see it? No, but definitely see the original Hell Comes to Frogtown.

Robert Z'Dar as Sam Hell (replacing Roddy Piper) teams with Denise Duff to rescue a flying Texas Rocket Ranger (Lou Ferrigno) from a professor (Brion James) who's kidnapped him to make a serum to turn humans into frogs. This has abandoned everything that made the original Donald G. Jackson "Frogtown" film fun and has an obviously much smaller budget. People wear bandages on their faces to cut down on make-up costs. The armory is a shed protected by one guy. License plates are used as armor. There's a hand puppet (which gets interrogated), stripper frogs, tacky songs and the expected shootouts and swordfights. Don Stroud, Rhonda Shear and Charles Napier all have roles.

I hope you're as glad as I am that Donald Jackson week is over with this review.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Roller Blade Seven (1991), Return of the Roller Blade Seven (1991) and Legend of the Roller Blade Seven (1992)

How bad is it? Among the worst-made films done by supposed professionals.
Should you see it? Fuck no.

This installment of Donald G. Jackson's Roller Blade franchise ups the number of names collecting a check (Scott Shaw, Frank Stallone, Karen Black, Don Stroud, Big Bill Smith, Joe Estevez, Rhonda Shear, Jill Kelly) and removes all plot. This was what Jackson and Shaw went on to call "zen film" - making a film spontaneously - so there's no plot, beyond roller skating sword fighter Shaw battling assorted... er, ninjas? punks?  and rescuing women in swimsuits. Dialogue gets repeated, scenes are slap-edited together and not much happens. There were, amazingly, more sequels.

"Return of the Roller Blade Seven" and "Legend of the Roller Blade Seven" are more of the same. I can't tell if footage not used in earlier films is used in the later ones and I don't really care. Much of the cast returns in each, often with different character names.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Roller Blade Warriors: Taken by Force (1989)

How bad is it? Sightly polished crap.
Should you see it? Not unless you're a fan of someone involved.

This sequel to "Roller Blade" is somewhat better filmed, with perhaps a more coherent story line; this actually makes it less entertaining to watch. Directed by Donald G. Jackson, it has Kathleen Kinmont, Elizabeth Kaitan, Rory Calhoun and a slew of actors who've had minor roles in other films. Once again, women roller skating in the desert apocalypse fight badly with swords. This time, there's an ore refinery operated by a monster created by radiation that's being fed with human sacrifices. That's kind of it - people in cheap costumes saying silly lines between battles. There's a fair amount of sex and misogyny.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Roller Blade (1986)

How bad is it? It's not the worst Donald Jackson film, but that's damned faint praise.
Should you see it? Verily.

This appears to be a parody of the European "Mad Max" clones, as the characters are dubbed, even though they all speak English; they get voices like Zsa Zsa and Darth Vader, which adds to the idea that this is supposed to be a comedy. There's very few laughs, though every now and then there's something stupid that's amusing - a caped dog, the holy hot tub, ball bearings as currency. After the unexplained apocalypse, there's a female religious order on roller skates (by the way, there's not a single actual Roller Blade in the film) that keep order through martial arts and knife fights. They seek a magic crystal - the plot of a hundred of similar films - and there's a bad guy also after it. There's a hand puppet. The women worship a "Have a Nice Day" smiley face idol. There's a number of porn stars in the cast and Michelle Bauer is the recognizable actress. There's a lot of "thee and thou" dialogue and the oft-repeated "Skate or die!" It's kind of dull, unfortunately, but it led to a bunch of films I'm reviewing next.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Parole Violators (1994)

How bad is it? One of the worst 1980s action films (made in 1990s) ever made.
Should you see it? Yes. It had been hard to find, but is now readily available on DVD.

Directed and written by Patrick G. Donahue of "Kill Squad," this stars his son, Sean P. Donahue (Patrick did give himself a cameo). A former cop has a TV show where they videotape parole violators; in his spare time, he's a ski masked vigilante that catches bad guys and ties them up with videotape. His girlfriend's daughter is kidnapped by a pedophile, which leads to: fight in moving van, crotch kick, jump through moon roof, crash, escape, attempted rape, a board to a stomach, a get-away... and yes, it happens at about that speed. As the hero fights a group of baddies, the villain pokes holes in a raft floating in a pool, on which the girl is on a milk crate (no, this makes no sense) and she ends up in a coma. Then come the skinheads, another kidnapping, eye gouging, car chases, the longest fall down a mountain on film, car explosions, a motorcycle off a cliff, several jumps through windows (one guy spits glass shards), well actually it's just amateur stuntmen in fights and chases. There's a hilarious seduction involving bra strap and camel toe by the worst actress since Connie Mason in "Blood Feast." There's awful dialogue - at one point romance shouted over the sound of machinery - and some of the worst line readings imaginable. It's terrible, but it's a fun ride.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pimp (2010)

How bad is it? Trying to be edgy, it's a dull would-be thriller.
Should you see it? No.

I've heard that this film made about $300 during its opening weekend (not $300M, but $300.00 total). The cast is probably more familiar to British audiences than to me, as are the locations and the accents. Supposedly, a film crew with hidden cameras follows a pimp for a week. This falls apart when characters - and there are a LOT of them - talk to the supposedly hidden cameras and when the cameras follow where they could not possibly go. The film goes from a pseudo-documentary, however, into thriller territory, as the main character comes to believe a faked snuff film might be real and he goes to save a woman; the characters, poorly established, do things that they wouldn't do. There's a twist ending that's not surprising or compelling. There's violence, nudity, depravity and so on, but it's minor-league at best. I know sleazy and this ain't it.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Persecuted (2014)

How bad is it? Propaganda poised as thriller. Doesn't work.
Should you see it? No.

This film starts with the premise that the religious right are persecuted in America. Now, if you assume that that's an alternate reality just for a movie and not the truth in real life, it's possible to review the film on its merits rather than on the politics of its makers. It still sucks. A senator proposes sweeping religious reforms and wants an evangelist to support him. When that evangelist doesn't, he gets framed for murder and then has to go underground to fight a corrupt government and people trying to undermine his faith. Dean Stockwell and Fred Thompson aren't the main actors, but the most recognizable. Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson essentially plays herself. It's uninteresting as a thriller, leaving its message as the only reason it exists - it won't convert anyone.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Pod People (1983)

aka Extraterrestrial Visitors, aka Trumpy, aka The Unearthling, aka The New Extraterrestrials, aka Tales of Trumpy, aka The Return of E.T., aka Extra Terrestrial Visitors

How bad is it? Truly terrible.
Should you see it? No (I'm told the MST3K version is one of their best, however).

By the director of "Slugs," this has terrible lighting, with both day and night being murky and indistinguishable; a scene in a cave is completely unlit. There's continuity errors - seasons change - and there's seemingly random jump cuts between three separate story lines. A group of poachers find eggs in a cave and one is killed by an unseen attacker. A boy finds an egg, brings it home and hatches it, calling the anteater-like creature "Trumpy" [which should cause this to get new attention]. There's a terrible band camping in the woods who are fodder for more deaths, with Trumpy looking like the culprit, but of course it's not. The best scene has a kitten playing with Trumpy's nose, as it was obviously not in the script, but there is very little to recommend this film.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Plump Fiction (1997)

How bad is it? It's a comedy with zero laughs. Zero.
Should you see it? NO.

Quentin Tarantino films seem like a good subject for satire, but this fails on every level. Not able to stick with a parody of Pulp Fiction, this goes on to Reservoir Dogs, which is fine, and then to Natural Born Killers (which would've been a good target by itself) and then to Forrest Gump and Nell and Clerks and Reality Bites and... somebody make it stop! The cast is interesting; though top-billed is Tommy Davidson, who's been in several atrocities, there's Julie Brown, Sandra Bernhard, Colleen Camp, Dan Castellaneta, Tim Kazurinsky, Kevin Meaney, Jennifer Coolidge, Judy Tenuta, Jimmie Walker, Simbi Khali and a host of others and, despite a flicker of wit and a couple decent impersonations, none of them are good. I could discuss why it doesn't work, but it isn't worth the effort. Avoid at all costs.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Psychotronic Man (1980)

aka Revenge of the Psychotronic Man

How bad is it? Dull and weird, but mostly dull.
Should you see it? I think not.

This film was the origin of the name of Michael Weldon's magazine, books and so on. A barber with a drinking problem drinks some of his hair tonic and discovers that he gets headaches (he grabs his hair and makes faces) that give him the power to kill. Filmed without permits in Chicago, this has a gunfight that must've been more interesting to shoot than watch and the world's slowest and safest car chase on Lower Wacker - where the Blues Brothers would soon have a famous chase scene. There's a few sound effects that get repeated throughout the film and it's hard to identify their purpose - perhaps foreshadowing an attack. The film never decides on what its mood should be, so it just flounders.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Panther Squad (1984)

aka  The Panther Squad, aka Commando Panther, aka Female Mercenaries II

How bad is it? It's Sybil Danning's least interesting film.
Should you see it? Only if you're a Danning completist.

Sybil Danning not only stars in this, but gets a co-producing credit. I expect that this was an attempt by the aging sexy vixen to gain some credibility - or at least credits - before being relegated to being behind the camera. There's an astronaut (female) kidnapped by a dictator that wants to rule the world with equipment meant by a Green group for space exploration. There's a commando squad of girls in leather mini-skirts, led by Sybil, sent to set things right. The film's padded even at 77 minutes and it's hard to tell how much was tongue-in-cheek (the eco-friendly group do some very eco-unfriendly things). There's no nudity, no swearing, poor fight scenes and a climactic scene with poor effects.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Phantom Cowboy (1935)

How bad is it? One of the worst B-westerns ever made.
Should you see it? Tough call. If you like B-westerns, I'd say yes (but you'll be disappointed).

This is one of the easier films of Robert Horner's to find. Horner frequently skirted the law when making films and was given leeway because he had no legs and only one eye. Almost every film he made was with a different fly-by-night production company, each intentionally bankrupted. He'd charge non-actors fees to be in his films for the exposure it would give them. Many of the worst practices of the film industry were pioneered by Horner.

In this, the hero plans to rob a stagecoach, only to be beaten to the punch by The Phantom, who robs while pulling a cape over his face. When his face is revealed, it turns out that he's a double for the hero. Then... stuff happens, confusing uninteresting stuff, with the requisite chases, brawls and shootouts. You'll see one of the worst fake mustaches ever, actors reading from cue cards, continual  re-use of the same footage and the worst comedy-relief sidekick of all time, "Ptomaine Pete," played by Jimmy Aubrey, who was in 470 films, usually uncredited. Though only 55 minutes, the film drags.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Pink Motel (1982)

How bad is it? Sex comedy without sex or comedy.
Should you see it? No. Probably VHS only, anyway.

I saw this on TV shortly after it came out on a channel that removed what nudity there was. It was the last film of Slim Pickens, who with Phyllis Diller, star as the owners of a cheap motel. The film explores the relationships of couples that check in and their back stories and how they ended up at that particular motel. It's very talky. There's a football player who hired a prostitute so he can lose his virginity - you know what? forget the rest of the stories, as they're forgettable. There's little humor and it plays like an extended television episode.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Phat Beach (1996)

How bad is it? Unimaginative beach flick with decent soundtrack.
Should you see it? No.

There are some differences between this film and the beach films of the 1960's: a black cast, a hip-hop soundtrack and the replacement of innuendo with raunch; it's at best a lateral shift. A chubby poet forced to work at a hamburger stand gets convinced by his cooler friend to borrow his father's car (here I was hoping for a little Ferris Bueller-style shenanigans) and drive to the beach, where they encounter a bevy of attractive women. Our hero doesn't want to bed someone unless he gets to know her - how quaint! - and he ends up in a $10000 volleyball tournament (which is like films going back to the 1930's and "let's put on a show!") Even the volleyball game isn't shot well. Coolio shows up for a couple of lines and Tiny Lister for a silent cameo. The soundtrack doesn't gel with the action and it appears that the music was given far more consideration than the script.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Pigs (1972)

aka Daddy's Deadly Darling, aka Daddy's Girl, aka The 13th Pig, aka Love Exorcist, aka The Killer, aka The Killers, aka Meat for Murder, aka The Strange Exorcism of Lynn Hart, aka Roadside Torture Chamber, aka The Strange Love Exorcist, aka Lynn Hart, aka Blood Pen, aka The Secret of Lynn Hart, aka Horror Farm

How bad is it? Cheap and scummy, but more psychological horror than slasher.
Should you see it? Yes. It has a following.

I've seen this film several times due to it's many titles and, while I groaned knowing what is coming, I watched anyway. When a woman's father tries to rape her, she kills him and is sent to an asylum from which she escapes in a nurse's car. She meets a kindred spirit in a diner owner who is also a farmer and a killer who feeds his victims to his pigs. It's worth noting that this came out the same year as "Prime Cut," an excellent film that also has people fed to pigs. Marc Lawrence wrote, directed, produced and starred along with his daughter. Catherine Ross (billed as Katherine, but decidedly not the Katherine Ross of "The Graduate") is a neighbor who believes the pigs are possessed by the spirits of reincarnated souls. It has a ludicrous theme song, "Somebody's Waiting for You." The cheapness is apparent - day scenes are oddly gaudy - but the film has something to say about abnormal relationships; the woman, though she does castrate someone, because it is that kind of film too, is a complex character and not just a nut job.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Psychic (1968)

aka Copenhagen's Psychic Loves

How bad is it? Dull film with inserted sex scenes.
Should you see it? No.

This is NOT the Fulci film of the same name from 1977 - I think people who rated this highly made that mistake. This was co-written and shot by Herschell Gordon Lewis (who's all over this blog), but directed by someone else, who never made another film. A man falls off a ladder, has brain surgery and becomes psychic. He then tries to use these new powers of foreseeing the future to help him in business and his love life. The film is dull and was considered un-releasable, so nude inserts were added to try to spice it up and it was retitled to market with "I Am Curious" and other Scandinavian art-house films. It's till dull.