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.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Stoogemania (1986)

How bad is it? Unfunny comedy.
Should you see it? Only if you're a completist for someone in the cast (which is unlikely).

Josh Mostel plays Howard F. Howard (yes, that's the level of humor), whose planned marriage to Melanie Chartoff is endangered by his growing obsession with the Three Stooges. He ends up on Stooge Row (Skidrow) - at the corner of Shaddup and Nyook Nyook - where people continuously relive their favorite Stooges bits. He gets sent to a rehab center, where he's treated by Sid Caesar in full-on fake German mode. It all ends in a pie fight. There's cameos by Victoria Jackson, James Avery and "Mousie" Garner (who you may remember from the Stooge shorts), plus a lot of archive footage of the Stooges, mostly from the Shemp era. Director Chuck Workman has an Oscar for his documentary work, but he just can't do comedy.

While on the subject, I'm not reviewing the few full-length Stooge films made at the end of their career: "Have Rocket Will Travel," "Snow White and the Three Stooges," "The Three Stooges in Orbit" and "The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze" as they are all pitiful. Also, "The Three Stooges" (2012) is mediocre [I like Will Sasso as Curly] and I expect its upcoming sequel to be more of the same.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Stealth Fighter (1999)

How bad is it? Bottom of the barrel action flick.
Should you see it? Only if you're a fan of someone in the cast.

I stopped counting the errors in this film when I hit 100, and I wasn't half-way through. Ice-T plays a fighter pilot (who also is a Navy lawyer and a Navy Seal!) who steals the titular stealth fighter and then joins up with arms dealer Andrew Divoff, who also manages to steal a satellite. They then threaten to destroy Washington D.C. if they aren't paid $10 billion. Costas Mandylor, Ice-T's former partner, then has to go after him, despite protests from his wife Erika Eleniak. Ernie Hudson plays the president. This is yet another Jim Wynorski film - he should be paying me for advertising his films here by now.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Starship Invasions (1977)

aka Project Genocide, aka Alien Encounter, aka War of the Aliens

How bad is it? Silly campy nonsense.
Should you see it? Sure.

The stories behind this film are better than the film itself: Christopher Lee and Robert Vaughn both claim that they were duped into making this, being told it would be a serious "Star Wars"-type film, rather than the camp it is; the Canadian film (the first SF film from Canada since... well, ever) may have been made as a tax shelter or it may have been hastily assembled to beat "Close Encounters" to the screen and it may have been either a serious homage to 1930's serials and 1950's sci-fi or it may have just failed. Beside Helen Shaver, there are no other names in the cast. Aliens decide to colonize Earth and use a suicide ray, leading to fun scenes of people strangling themselves; they also take a sperm sample from an Elmer Fudd wannabee. There's bizarre - and in one case rather sexy - costumes, robots that look like they found the top of "Robot Monster," special effects that range from excellent to "my Gawd that's lame," aliens that are telepathic just to cut down on dialogue and more references to the Bermuda Triangle and pyramids than in "Chariots of the Gods" (which clearly inspired the makers). It's slapdash, it's puerile, it's worth checking out.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Starship (1984)

aka 2084, aka Lorca and the Outlaws

How bad is it? Generic cheap science fiction.
Should you see it? No.

Someone must've thought the original title "Lorca and the Outlaws" didn't sound like science fiction, so they re-titled this; there's really not a spaceship involved. There's a mining colony and a plan to replace the miners with robots, so they fight back. The film looks good, mostly because of the location shooting in Australia in a mining operation, where you get to see things like the giant trucks, which probably looked futuristic to many people in 1984. If you're from a mining area today, the trucks look antique and dinky! There's no plot, characterization, energy, blah blah blah - a generic review of a generic film seems appropriate.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Star Hunter (1996)

How bad is it? It's the worst "Predator" rip-off and I've seen dozens (maybe hundreds).
Should you see it? No.

Produced by Roger Corman and directed by Fred Olen Ray, I knew this would be god-awful tripe, but it has Roddy McDowall and Stella Stevens in the cast, so I gave it a watch. Three high school football players and two cheerleaders, plus their assistant principal (Stevens) seek refuge after a bus breakdown, only to be taken in by a blind man who turns out to be an alien hunter (MacDowall), who unleashes a robot to collect their heads, while they are stuck inside a forcefield and have to improvise weapons. That sounds better than it is. It's padded heavily and it drags.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Star Crystal (1986)

How bad is it? Cheap SF that manages to rip off both "Alien" and "E.T."
Should you see it? Yes, it's just bizarre enough to recommend.

Five people on a spacecraft pick up a lifeform imbedded in a rock crystal from Mars, but don't have enough food or energy to get back home. Those problems become secondary when they start getting attacked by a tentacled alien. Several bad actors say lines like "She's got slime all over her!" and "All that emptiness makes you crazy after a while" before getting dispatched, leaving a cast of two. There's a chase scene shown as dots on a monitor, like a 1980's video game, but other effects are decent and the sets are good. In a bizarre and baffling twist, making you wonder if a major re-write happened during shooting, the creature taps into the computer, reads the Holy Bible!, gets converted!, apologizes for its behavior! and becomes an "E.T."-like alien that helps them get home.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Splatter University (1984)

How bad is it? Great title, but poor film.
Should you see it? If you're into regional 80's slashers, maybe.

This was a regional film (New York City) with a largely amateur (and quite unattractive) cast. Three years after a psycho escapes an asylum, women are getting knifed at a school. The students wear the same clothes to school every day, one person shows bloodstains before they're attacked, people nonchalantly go back to sex and beer after someone close to them dies and a dead body moves, but some of the laughs are intentional - there's a priest who has porn mags and peeps through windows, which provide some amusement. The killer is supposed to be a surprise, but is obvious to anyone who watches a lot of these kinds of film. There's no nudity, surprisingly, and the soundtrack appears to be one song by a group into The Cars.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Spine (1986)

How bad is it? It's pretty bad, indeed.
Should you see it? It's really hard to find and isn't worth that much effort.

This was reportedly made by porn producers who wanted to cross over into mainstream via horror. A guy released from a mental institution attacks nurses, hog-tying them and slicing their backs open to revel their spines (but you don't get the gore shots you'd expect). It has the flaws you'd expect in a shot-on-video slasher of the time: both overacting and underacting, a confused plot, some nudity (including an uncomfortable rape scene that doesn't fit the rest of the film) and some gaffes (it appears some lines had to be re-dubbed and they don't sync at all). It might appeal to aficionados of the genre.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Spawn of the Slithis (1978)

aka Slithis

How bad is it? Typical rubber-suit monster film hampered by a low budget.
Should you see it? If it shows up, sure, but don't go out of your way to find it.

The makers of this were obviously big fans of the monster movies of a generation earlier; they even used some of the same advertising gimmicks. Unfortunately, no one was asking for yet another "monster created from nuclear waste" film with a guy in a rubber monster suit. The suit looks like it took up most of the small budget - the script has some laughable dialogue, which is delivered by some very poor actors, the effects aren't great and everything has a cheap feel to it. It's not a terrible film.