Monday, December 29, 2014

Deafula (1975)

How bad is it? In parts it's rather good, but most (especially 2nd half) is not.
Should you see it? If you can find it, yes.

Even if this weren't the only film ever done entirely in American Sign Language, it would be a weird movie. There's a teenage kid who goes from blond to dark hair, painted eyebrows, giant fake nose and taped-on widow's peak whenever he becomes a vampire, which he doesn't seem to remember, except in a flashback to when he was a child and ripped out the throat of a puppy (shown). Now he forces hippies who stab priests to crash their motorcycle with mind control, in between attacking women and getting transfusions from his father, a minister - who may or may not be his father, as his mother had an affair with Dracula. There's bumbling intentionally comedic policemen, a hunchback with tin cans for hands [I swear I'm not making this up] and, because of the sign language, a policeman who flaps his arms like a bird to explain away the vampire. For the hearing, there's an added audio track with three narrators, one for the vampire, one for female characters and one for everyone else. It's done very seriously, then has broad intentional comedy, then tries to return to seriousness, then goes all artsy and weird and 1970's. The black and white photography appears to have been a choice, rather than a budgetary necessity.

Deadly Prey (1987)

How bad is it? It's considered by some to be a classic among bad films.
Should you see it? Yep.

David A. Prior has directed a bunch of terrible films, many, like this one, starring his brother Ted, whose been in terrible films without his brother's help as well (for the record,  even Ted's wife gets mentioned in one review on this blog - go ahead, try to find it). This is a remake of 1932's "Most Dangerous Game," which has been done countless times, with some "Rambo" thrown in. A team of mercenaries is being trained by hunting kidnapped civilians. Then they capture the wrong guy - he impales people on twigs (?!), never picks up a weapon (cut-off jeans and a mullet will serve), throws Styrofoam boulders and beats a man to death with his own arm (this, unbelievably, is the third film in which I've seen this done! See "Monster and the Stripper," for example). There are plot holes a mile wide; no one calls the police, or gets back up, or uses weapons at hand. The acting and direction are strikingly bad. Fortunately, it moves along briskly and has plenty of ludicrous moments, my favorite being the hiding in plain sight one.

Added: The very belated sequel "Deadliest Prey" (2013) is, surprisingly, very much the same. After a quarter century of experience, little was learned and the film was not a self-aware self-parody, but an actual sequel that is worth seeing.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Deadly Daphne's Revenge (1987)

How bad is it? It's dull and formulaic.
Should you see it? No.
This is the only screen capture I could find!

This is a film that Troma bought and stuck their name on (though a couple of Troma regulars do show up on screen) and gave a catchy title. A woman is attacked and raped in a cabin by four men and, after one man commits suicide, she debates calling the authorities. The rest of the film is a standard television drama of people arguing on telephones or across desks in poorly furnished offices. Then, just before the end credits, Daphne, who got mentioned in a radio report early in the film as a deranged escapee from an asylum, shows up and dispatches everyone. Too little, too late, and not particularly well done.

Deadfall (1993)

How bad is it? It's a textbook for overacting.
Should you see it? Yes. Just for the cast.
That fake baldness is the most realistic thing in the film (you're bald, Nic!)

You know how Nic Cage has become famous for eye-rolling, screaming, over-the-top scenery chewing? This is Nic at his Nic'iest. He accidentally kills his father, James Coburn, then carries out his dying wish to recover stuff stolen by Coburn's twin brother (also Coburn), but the brother is a con-man and Nic ends up increasingly involved in schemes and escapades. This film also has Peter Fonda, Charlie Sheen and Talia Shire (related to the writer/director Chris Coppola, as is Cage). And Micky Dolenz appears! Keep this film in mind if you ever play 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

The Dead Hate the Living (2000)

How bad is it? Most abhor this as full of cliches, but I think it's an homage of sorts.
Should you see it? You could do worse, especially among Full Moon films. So... yes.

Full Moon pictures, under Charles Band, has released a ton of terrible films, many of which are making it onto this blog. This may be among the best of them. It follows every standard idea of horror films, starting with the horror movie within a horror movie and the idea of using a real dead body in making a zombie film. In this case, a body on a mortuary slab reanimates and there's a portal to a netherworld of zombies. Everything follows exactly as one would expect, but it's not badly done; if you don't habitually watch these kinds of films, you could enjoy it and, if you do habitually watch these, you can have fun spotting the influences and guessing the next thing to happen. The film is a continuous stream of in-jokes, but the humor is dicey... and the gore is not! There's only a couple of monsters, only a couple of death scenes (poorly done) and not much atmosphere, except for what was stolen from Italian gore directors. It's hit and miss. I thought it was okay.

The Day the Earth Stopped (2008)

How bad is it? It's not the worst mock-buster from Asylum, but that's faint praise.
Should you see it? No.

This was quickly made to capitalize on the recent release of the remake of the 1951 classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still." This manages to steal the plot as well as title, by having the aliens say they'll destroy Earth unless we prove our worth; a lawsuit by Fox, however, did not pass the "satire is not theft" test. The aliens are so poorly done that they do not move and are actually called megaliths. The main attraction of the film is Sinead McCafferty nude; when she tries to act, the film slows. C. Thomas Howell stars and directs, there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo by Judd Nelson (who gets second billing) and Bug Hall, who had an interesting career as a child actor, shows that adulthood did him no favors. Christianity fails to sway the alien, but a woman dying in childbirth - who then gets healed by alien magic - does.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Danik, el Viajero del Tiempo (1996)

How bad is it? It has some particularly bad effects and acting.
Should you see it? Sure, if you can find a copy with subtitles.

Danik is an extraterrestrial that decides to help a couple in the suburbs of Mexico City by first impersonating an Earth child, and then doing things like keeping cigarettes and booze away for the dad. Two "Boris and Natasha"-ish secret agents are after Danik and, in the climactic scene, demonstrate that they can shoot lightning from their fingertips (done by scratching the film with a pin). Just then, Danik's mother arrives and shoots a green beam at the bad guys - a line drawn on the film in post - and they go away. The alien kid is creepy, the acting is abysmal, the plot is nonsensical and the effects are unbelievably shoddy. And it's not dubbed or subtitled.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Daniel - Der Zauberer (2004)

How bad is it? It's near the bottom of IMDB's bottom 100 films.
Should you see it? No way.

Lommel with horn, top hat and one arm.

This bad film by Ulli Lommel is bad in a different way than his other bad films reviewed on this blog, but that's of so little interest it's mentioned only to avoid actually discussing this tripe. Lommel himself has a major role as star Daniel Küblböck's dead grandfather, whose missing arm mysteriously reappears from time to time. Rather than re-filming or scrapping that footage, it appears that Lommel decided to make it the plot, turning this biopic of an annoying minor musical talent (from a German television contest show that I suspect had a "vote for the worst" contingent) into a film about a boy with magical talents. People try to kill Daniel on stage and this allows for a lot of concert footage to be added, plus some additional backstage footage where nothing happens and which must've been added to pad the film to feature length. Lommel claims that the half-finished slap-dash nature of the film is intentional, but that doesn't help.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Daddy-O (1958)

How bad is it? It's a pretty typical 1950s juvenile delinquency film.
Should you see it? Not really.

A truck driver encounters a beautiful blonde on the highway, and then runs into her again at the local teen hang-out, where he happens to moonlight as a singer. She challenges him to a race - which she wins - and he gets arrested, because someone got killed near where they raced. He then decides to track down the real killer, a drug-runner, and things get tense. There's a few minor laughs, particularly in the acting of the gym owner, but this film is nothing special.

Added: Just saw the MST3K version. It adds nothing.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Da Hip Hop Witch (2000)

How bad is it? It's probably the worst parody of the Blair Witch Project (IMDB rating 1.6)
Should you see it? If you love rap and have a low threshold for humor, maybe. Maybe.

Footage is found of five white guys who entered the hood, looking for the legendary Hip Hop Witch. More than half of the film is extemporaneous shots of rappers making up stories of the witch and the two most memorable rappers turn out to be the two white ones, Eminem - who apparently fought hard to get his part of the film edited out, but which was actually enlarged - and Vanilla Ice. One of the stories is about how the witch put her finger up a guy's ass; that's about the level of humor and taste the film goes for. There's also a secondary plot of a woman who believes that the witch is a hoax made up by industry insiders to boost sales and she goes undercover to expose it [nothing comes of this]. The parody aspects are few, mostly bookend the film and are throwaway, but provide two of the maybe five small laughs the film creates.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas leftovers

28 More bad Christmas movies, to show that I covered only a third of what I could have.
Update: make that 30 - I forgot "Nativity 3: Dude Where's My Donkey? (2014)" and "Alone for Christmas" (2013) aka "Bone Alone"
Hercules Saves Christmas (2012)
Herc is a dog, not Lou Ferrigno.
Happy Ero Christmas (2003)
Ero as in erotic. But not very.
Elf-Man (2012)
"Wee Man" stars as elf who discovers he's a superhero.
Elf Bowling - The Movie (2007)
Santa's brother, a pirate, has kidnapped the elves.
The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation (2010)
Voices of Mario Lopez and Paris Hilton, with Dean Cain. Nuff said.
Christmas with a Capital C (2011)
Based on a song, about a town's fight over decorations.
Christmas in Compton (2000)
Nothing says inner city black culture and Christmas like Eric Roberts.
Natale a Rio (2008)
Italian comedy directed by DeSica (no, not that one). See Christmas in Love
Christmas in Paris (2002)
Sadly, not a sequel to "One Night in Paris" sex tape.
The Perfect Holiday (2007)
Girl asks department store Santa for help with parents' love life. Gabrielle Union, Morris Howard, Queen Latifah.
Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (1974)
Never gets rebroadcast, for good reason.
The Boy Who Saved Christmas (1998)
Santa's evil twin kidnaps him (see Elf Bowling)
Christmas in Love (2004)
Another Chris DeSica film, with Danny DeVito.
Home Alone: The Holiday Heist (2012)
More people were in this than saw it. No Culkins were involved.
The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
Absolutely wretched... but not actually a movie.
Jingle All the Way 2 (2014)
Stars Larry the Cable Guy. Check out how many times he's listed on this page!
Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (1987)
Half the film is re-cap of first film, reusing footage.
Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 (1990)
No connection to other films in series. Clint Howard and Maud Adams. Meh.
Larry the Cable Guy's Hula-Palooza Christmas Luau (2009)
Someone figured out how to get a paid vacation.
Saving Christmas (2014)
Currently lowest rated film on IMDB. Not quite that bad.
Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas (2013)
This has some people I like (sorry!) and also has... Larry the Cable Guy.
Larry the Cable Guy's Christmas Spectacular (2007)
The other Larry the Cable Guy Xmas video.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Eddie's Island Adventure (2003)
Another case of someone finagling a paid trip.
Feeders 2: Slay Bells (1998)
No one has anything nice to say about this one.
Blood Beat (1982)
Included because the title gets missed in most Christmas horror compilation lists.
An American Carol  (2008)
Parody of Michael Moore films is almost good.
Christmas Nightmare (2001)
Presidential candidate, cabin in the woods, killers on loose.
Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever (2014)
Not as bad as the same year's kitten themed Santa Claws!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gingerdead Man (2005)

How bad is it? It's way too slow-going.
Should you see it? If you're already a fan of Charles Band, or you don't expect much.

This is yet another Charles Band film, directed by him as well as produced, so you know there's going to be a silly premise and very cheap budget and a few yuks. Unfortunately, this just never gets going - though it's spawned two sequels so far, which are almost exactly the same. Here, Gary Busey plays a deranged killer (typecasting?) sentenced to the electric chair, whose cremated remains get mixed with gingerbread by his mother, who happens to be a witch. A little accidentally added blood and a power surge cause the monster to become animated. From there on, it's just an unstoppable killing machine that happens to be oddly cute and you've seen it all before. At the climax, the Gingerdead Man's head gets eaten, but that only causes the eater to become possessed and he has to be thrown into an oven. Admittedly, this just barely could be considered a Christmas movie.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman (2004)

How bad is it? Bad enough I won't even check to see if it's "Return," not "Revenge."
Should you see it? No.

This is a sequel not to the Michael Keaton film "Jack Frost," but to one released the prior year about a psychopath that runs afoul of a genetics experiment. That film had originality going for it, plus just enough plot to carry the film and a couple of intentional laughs - this sequel has none of that. The snowman is now in the tropics, a problem barely addressed and Jack seems to freeze and thaw at will. The killings are cartoonish and the only interest is to see how they'll relate to ice; one woman has a bartender's ice tongs pushed into her eyes and apparently into her brain, killing her instantly and almost bloodlessly. The cast are there just for fodder and the killer spends the entire film doing a monologue about how much he hates and what he's going to do.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Santa Claws (1996)

aka Tis the Season

How bad is it? It's bottom-of-the-barrel exploitation.
Should you see it? No.

Plot: women get naked and then get killed. What, you want more? A man sees his mother having sex with someone dressed as Santa and murders him. Later, he stalks an actress and jealousy causes him to kill her co-stars while dressed as Santa. They're making a film called "Scream Queens Naked Christmas," which was actually filmed and released simultaneously with this stinker. There's no gore, not much violence, but lots and lots of nudity.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Interview: Gordon Maples

I found Gordon Maples through Twitter @Misantropey where we share thoughts on bad films. He reviews films on the blog "Misan(trope)y" and from there you can find a link to his podcasts, where he dissects just how celluloid atrocities get made. He's the fourth person I've found whose tried to watch all of the films in the Internet Database's Bottom 100 Films, and may be the first person to actually do it. That deserves some recognition and a few questions. This interview was done via e-mail with all questions sent at once (which is why there's a little awkwardness).

1) Others have tried to watch all the IMDB Bottom 100 films but found it a depressingly poor use of time. How have you persevered where others have not?

I've had this discussion with some people before, and I think it comes down to the way I approach bad movies. For instance, I love the guys over at the Bad Movie Fiends podcast, but we have very different philosophies: they are, like many, searching for the elusive "so bad it is good" movies. If someone goes into the IMDb Bottom 100 expecting to find those movies, they will either quit due to frustration or boredom. When I watch bad movies, I try to do it with more of an analytic eye. I usually liken the experience to performing an autopsy: I dig around in the guts of the film to figure out how it functions, and ultimately make some sort of judgment on why it failed. I find that kind of thing really interesting. I still love those "so bad its good" flicks, but that isn't what I expected to find in the IMDb Bottom 100. As it turns out, I was right in that assumption.

I think others are similarly turned off by the ranking because they don't agree with it. That comes from a misunderstanding of what the IMDb Bottom 100 is, and is something that I talk about at length in a review on "Saving Christmas": the IMDb Bottom 100 is a living democratic list, which means it is not objective in any sense. It is a popularity contest, which I don't see as an insult in this case. It is, like the Rotten Tomatoes audience score, a barometer of public opinion and perception: that's why "Saving Christmas" tanked so fast. If you appreciate it for what it is, it is pretty fascinating from a sociological perspective. You can't get hung up on the fact that "Monster A Go Go" is clearly objectively worse than "Pledge This!" or "From Justin to Kelly". The ranking just doesn't work that way.

The last thing that I am sure has discouraged many is the fact that not all of the IMDb Bottom 100 films are readily available. Because of the recent surge of international movies in the list, many of them didn't get a Region 1 release, and English-speaking watchers have to rely on non-traditional acquisition methods and fan-made subtitles to see them. That's more effort than most are willing to put into such a trivial task. Unfortunately, some of the films like "A Fox's Tale" and "Tony Blair Witch Project" barely exist at all. I had to come up with a way to make up for this, so I dug up some archives of the IMDb Bottom 100 list from 2004, and covered alumni features that have since fallen out of the ranks. It also helps that the list is constantly rotating in new movies as more new votes come in, so patience ultimately paid off in some respects. I'm still giddy that "ROTOR" made it in this year.

2) Fans of MST3K have systematically given 10's to all bad films rated lower than what they've aired. Do you think the ratings are truly democratic?

It doesn't matter what the motivation behind a vote is, the vote is still a vote. Again, the ranking is a reflection of public opinion, so it needs to be open to every Joe Anonymous out there to vote with all of their (potentially corrupt or dumb) hearts. A lot of people were furious over the "Gunday" fiasco, where a social media campaign against the movie tanked it to the bottom of the list. Again I say, a vote is a vote, and with this list no vote matters more than another, regardless of the motivations behind it. If a bunch of people feel that a few MST3K movies deserve lower scores, all they have to do is vote for their voice to be heard.

3) Do you yourself rate movies on IMDB? If so, which of the bottom 100 did you rate highest? If not, why not - you're more than qualified.

I haven't been, strangely enough. I will definitely try to come up with a personal reorder ranking of the IMDb Bottom 100 movies I have watched, and I may go back and vote on them all once I have looked at them all comparatively in that setting. I should be wrapped up with the list next week, so that'll be coming soon.

As far as quality of the movie, I think "Monster A Go Go" and "The Starfighters" have to be towards the top. However, there were plenty that were more offensive and creatively bankrupt. I think it depends on which sensibilities you rely on more to judge a movie's overall quality. I, for instance, have a personal dislike for Bollywood movies on the whole, just because I hate unnecessary musical numbers and excessive run times. So, I might be more likely to rate them lower than others would. Also, anything with blatant sexism/misogyny or racism is going to draw a little extra ire from me. It is not only lazy, but that sort of thing reinforces negative aspects of our society.

There are at least two movies that I don't think have any business being in the Bottom 100, and I personally think that they got as low as they are due to thinly veiled racism in the voting masses. They are still bad movies, but nowhere near as bad as their cohorts in the list. I'm going to talk about those at length when I wrap up the list in the next week or so.

4) Straight-to-video titles and TV movies aren't in the IMDB rankings. Should they be?

I think that requiring a theatrical release is a reasonable enough hurdle. Again, it makes more sense when you think of the IMDb Bottom 100 as a barometer of public opinion: it isn't unreasonable to say that theatrical movies are going to cast a wider net than your typical direct to video schlock.

5) There are 1000 films rated 1.0 - 1.9 that don't have 1500 votes, so they didn't make the bottom 100. I'd love to see that list, wouldn't you? Would you watch them?

I'm curious how many of them got theatrical releases. In any case, I know I have seen a few of them at least. The infamous Casper Van Dien / Tiny Lister / Coolio direct to video flick "Dracula 3000" has a 1.9 (quite deservedly), and I actually reviewed "The Legend of the Titanic", which has a 1.3. It is up to debate as to whether that is better or worse than its doppelganger "Titanic: The Legend Continues", which is in the Bottom 100 with a 2.3. Believe it or not, those Titanic animated movies have no relation whatsoever, despite the huge similarities.

I certainly would be interested to see more of these movies, but I am also a big fan of that quota for the list.  is a ranking that functions as a barometer of public opinion, so having movies with only a couple hundred votes in there wouldn't accurately reflect the zeitgeist.

6) Adam Sandler or Larry the Cable Guy?

No thanks, I'd rather watch a Tor Johnson marathon. I did cover Adam Sandler's first movie "Going Overboard" in the Bottom 100, which is a baffling little film. 

7) I learn technique from bad films (for example, blocking from "The Giant Gila Monster"). What can one learn from yet another "Date/Disaster/Epic Movie" spoof?

I think there is a lot to learn about how to write evergreen comedy when you compare something like "Epic Movie" to the old stalwart parody movies like "Airplane!". The majority of your jokes and references can't be current-event sensitive, or your film will age worse than shrimp in the back of the fridge. There is also an interesting thing to learn about staying competitive with budgetary limitations when looking at parody movies from recent years: despite the vast difference in the budgets, there isn't a huge difference between "Vampire's Suck" and "Breaking Wind". When both movies are rolling around in a comedy sewer, it doesn't much matter which one is wearing the expensive suit.

8) Name as many prolific directors worse than Ed Wood Jr. as you can in 5 minutes.

To Ed Wood's credit, his legacy is not just making bad movies, but making cost-effective bad movies. In that way, I think Uwe Boll deserves a begrudging tip of the hat, along with some of the Corman-spawn like David DeCoteau and Jim Wynorski. As far as quality of directing goes, Coleman Francis and Ulli Lommel are pretty much no-brainers. Ted V Mikels probably deserves in on that conversation as well. There are a bunch of more recent folks like Wiseau and Nguyen who have become infamous, but I hesitate to call them prolific. Despite his successes, George Lucas is not a good director, particularly when it comes to any kind of personnel management. "A New Hope" was good in spite of his directing skills, not because of them. But worse than Ed Wood? Probably not.

9) What was the best year for bad films?

I can certainly say that 2014 is going to go down as one of the best years for bad Christmas films, at least. Grumpy Cat, Larry the Cable Guy, and Kirk Cameron. Blech.

10) If someone's new to bad films, where do you suggest they start?

If possible, I would recommend trying to catch something like "The Room" or "Troll 2" in theaters. The cult atmosphere around these movies is what makes them contagious. Other than that, a couple of my personal favorites are "The Stuff" by Larry Cohen, and "The Dentist" written by Stuart Gordon. I also have a mild obsession with 1986's "Space Camp", but that is more of a hometown bias.

11) In a bad movie based on your life, what's your signature move in hip-hop kung fu?

The Stammering Fumble Maneuver. It is different every time, but always disappoints. I still come out on top somehow though.

For the record, I'm counting 6 worse directors than Wood.

Santa Claws (2014)

How bad is it? In a year of bad Xmas films, it's the worst.
Should you see it? Only if you watch cat videos daily. Those people rate this highly.

Tommy and his mother have been caring for newborn kittens, but can't afford to keep them. Hoping that Santa will give them good homes, he leaves them in a box for him, but Santa's allergic to cats! He falls from the sleigh and three kittens must now deliver all the presents themselves. Guess what - Tommy was so good that Santa had planned to give him a kitten as a present (just ignore the "can't afford it" point) and had one in the sleigh, despite his allergy. This was made by the director of "The Coed and the Zombie Stoner," so you know he has a way with children's films.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Santa Claus vs. the Zombies (2010)

How bad is it? Absolutely wretched acting in a bloodless zombie film.
Should you see it? A soft no. there's a couple of laughs, but it's a long wait to get there.

Zombies created by a diet pill force a family to barricade themselves indoors with visiting relatives that are so obnoxious you'll scream: bring on the zombies! Also at the party is a Santa and some elves, who just might be the real deal. There's a sudden jump to the President and his cabinet in a bunker (or more likely the basement of the house in which the film was shot) who plan a rescue mission - preferably not involving nukes - and they've discovered that light will stop the zombies, but they'll learn to adapt; this could've led to an interesting plot, but gets abandoned. Instead, Santa takes on the zombies by shooting Beanie Babies (given another name, due to copyright) at them and, when he runs out, to stall for time, the zombies are invited to sit on Santa's lap and tell them what they want!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Magic Christmas Tree (1967)

How bad is it? It's in the bottom 3 all-time worst Xmas films for kids.
Should you see it? Yes - it's entertainingly bad.

A boy saves a cat from a tree and falls, perhaps being knocked unconscious, but certainly being knocked from black and white to color film with poor post-synched sound. His reward from the cat's owner, who is now a witch, is a ring with a seed in it that, when planted, will grow into a tree by Christmas (it's currently Halloween) that will grant three wishes to whoever wears the ring. His first wish is power, which he uses to move fire trucks and force a pie fight. His next is to have Santa to himself, which turns out to be a terrible mistake, involving the National Guard. There's a scene with a giant woodsman in fur that's extremely creepy - unintentionally. There's a scene of the boy's dad starting a lawnmower with "comic" sound effects that takes FOREVER and a race with a turtle. The boy's third wish is to undo his others and he learns a valuable sappy lesson. With an appearance by Terry Bradshaw (alas, not the bald quarterback).

Monday, December 8, 2014

Don't Open Till Christmas (1984)

How bad is it? For Xmas slasher films, I think it borders being average.
Should you see it? Yes, perhaps in a seasonal slasher flick festival.

A maniac mutilates bell-ringing Santa Clauses (actually, Father Christmases, as it's in England), because of seeing a Santa push his mother down stairs as a child. There's a spear in the mouth, a cleaver in the face, a castration, several knives in stomach, burning, shooting in the face - I think 14 killings in all. There's decent suspense, especially in the London dungeon scene, but otherwise clunky direction; the director also plays the impossibly stupid police inspector. Caroline Munro makes an appearance and Pat Astley gets topless repeatedly. The killer's identity is never revealed, which is a bit of a let-down.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Elves (1989)

How bad is it? Well, for one thing, there's only one elf. It's pretty bad.
Should you see it? Yes. It has more than enough cheap laughs to be watchable.

Nazis need to breed elves to a virgin descended from the Master race at midnight on Christmas Eve in order to recreate an army of supermen. The requisite girl lives with her incestuous wheelchair-bound Nazi grandfather/father, an abusive mother and a brother who watches her in the shower. The girl's friend accidentally, doing witchcraft in the woods, brings forth an elf by bleeding on the ground. These two girls, plus another, get locked in a department store after hours - there's also a guy, who just disappears into the parking lot early on and gets forgotten - and can only be saved by the replacement department store Santa, played by Dan Haggerty, whose chain-smoking is less offensive than the previous Santa's cocaine-fueled perversions (which get him castrated early in the film).

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Santa with Muscles (1996)

How bad is it? It's probably the low point of Hulk Hogan's questionable career.
Should you see it? No.

Hulk Hogan plays a cage fighter and health products mogul who, avoiding police in a chase, dons a Santa suit, jumps down a garbage chute (where several copies of this film no doubt were lurking), bangs his head, gets amnesia and believes that he is indeed Santa Claus. An evil scientist tries to take over an orphanage that has exactly three children, access to catacombs and enough real estate to fund a real Hollywood film; this is because of magic crystals - always a nice touch - that just happen to be beneath it. Clint Howard makes an appearance (oh, and so do Ed Begley Jr. and Mila Kunis and others that should know better).

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

BloodRayne (2005)

How bad is it? It's one of the worst of Uwe Boll's video game adaptations (that's bad).
Should you see it? No.

If you aren't familiar with the video game from which this film came, you can't follow the plot - and I can't help. Rayne is the child of a vampire and a human and she needs to acquire artifacts before a villain uses them and the film jumps back and forth between people trying to get these unexplained objects, with little narrative sense. There's some excellent actors - Ben Kingsley (!), Michael Madsen, Billy Zane, Michelle Rodriguez - among the poor - Meat Loaf, Udo Kier - but all are woefully miscast. The special effects, mostly beheadings, are pathetic, particularly given the relatively high budget.

Curse of the Zodiac (2007)

How bad is it? It has a score of 1.2 on IMDB. I think that's the record low.
Should you see it? No way.

Ulli Lommel's made three films about real serial killers, none of which pay attention to the facts. This one is the one that's shot with the camera held at 90 degrees - really, the floor is on the right side - I eventually turned my screen to watch this. This is very gory (but not interestingly so) and one expletive is used as half the dialogue. It's hard to tell that this was supposed to take place 30 years before it was filmed. There are random cutaways to shots of the Golden Gate bridge, just to remind you where it's supposed to be (it was apparently filmed on location, but you can't tell). I understand that Lommel once was a student of Fassbender and has taken to heart the less-is-more ethic, but there has to be SOMETHING.

Curse of the Wolf (2006)

How bad is it? It's an amateur film in every respect.
Should you see it? Not really.

After making "Swamp Zombies," which I hope I don't ever get around to reviewing, director Kabasinski decided to make a werewolf movie. In this, a girl injects herself with tranquilizers to stop her transformation and tries to blend in with society. Her werewolf pack literally sniffs her out and tries to get her back, ending up in a martial arts kickfest with a rival gang. The werewolf are essentially halloween masks and gloves, the dialogue may be all ad-libbed as there doesn't seem to be much of a script, the sound and visual quality are below inadequate. The best of the film are the fight scenes, a few intentionally funny jokes (though fart jokes are common) and the loopy song "Cat Lady." This might've been okay with a bigger budget.

Curse of the Queerwolf (1988)

How bad is it? It's not offensive enough to be terrible, not terrible enough to offend.
Should you see it? Only if you liked "A Polish Vampire in Burbank."

Mark Pirro has made a few cheap funny films (his best joke is that his production company is called Pirromount) and, when a character from "A Polish Vampire in Burbank" got a big audience reaction, he decided to give it it's own film. In this film, a guy gets bitten - on the butt, of course - by a transvestite werewolf, which turns him into one as well. The film has a real problem with transvestitism vs homosexuality (didn't they watch "Glen or Glenda?") as the hero finds himself struggling with his new desires. Two dogs get killed and that's actually pretty funny in a sick way when it happens. Also, being kept straight by looking at a picture of John Wayne is amusing. This is really low budget, almost all of the money having gone into costuming, which might actually have come out of the actors' own closets - hey, a "coming out of the closet" joke!

The Curse of the Aztec Mummy (1957)

How bad is it? It's fairly typical Mexican horror, a bit worse than most.
Should you see it? If you're seeing all 4 films in the series.

Third of the four Aztec Mummy films, this one isn't the best, nor the most entertaining, nor the worst. The heroic mummy Papoca fights the superhero Angel and they both fight the evil Dr. Krupp. There's less plot, characterization and action than in the other films, which technically makes it pretty bad.

The Curse of Bigfoot (1976)

How bad is it? It's among the very worst films; certainly the worst Bigfoot film!
Should you see it? Yes. But not sober.

In the early 1960's, a film was made titled something like "Teenagers vs. the Thing" but it never got released (because it was awful and too short). Later, a wrap-around was filmed, lengthening to 59 minutes, with credits, but making it somehow worse. The film starts with a guy lecturing high school students and reluctantly telling the story of his meeting with Bigfoot, which then goes to a 40 minute flashback. Kids investigating an Indian burial mound dig up what looks like the missing link, until it revives and starts attacking. It's not even Bigfoot, but a sort of mummy.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005)

How bad is it? If you aren't paying attention, you could miss how bad this is.
Should you see it? Sure.

I've actually seen this film five times in a week, along with the other films in the series, and it's possible to enjoy it on its small merits as part of the franchise. That is, until you start laughing at David Boreanaz' hair... and you will; it changes a few times, but he sometimes looks very goofy. When he's trying to be sexy, a hipster Satan, you notice that he's getting a little old and soft for these roles. Then add Tara Reid, Ed Furlong, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Danny Trejo, Macy Gray and even Dennis Hopper, and waste all their talent. The new setting in the Southwest adds nothing except for some embarrassing racist elements (non- Native Americans doing fake tribal dances around totem poles 1000 miles from where they should be). Sometimes the cinematography is good, but there's really no plot or characters and it doesn't go anywhere. And then you notice Boreanaz' hair again.

Cross of the Seven Jewels (1987)

How bad is it? It just might be the worst werewolf movie. (Werewolf of Woodstock is hard to beat)
Should you see it? Yes, but it's gonna hurt.

Written, directed, starring, edited by and with special effects by some guy named Andolfi, this vanity piece has the worst werewolf transformations since, well, perhaps ever. For one thing, hair appears to end wherever he got tired of making the costume. For another, his clothes disappear and reappear during the transformations. The plot, such as it is, has a guy protected from lycanthropy by wearing a cross that contains seven jewels. Two different group of bad guys are after it. The rest of the movie is the star having sex - sometimes as a drooling monster - and beating up bad guys, with mediocre gore effects.

Crocodile 2: Death Swamp! (2002)

How bad is it? It's a pedestrian low-budget monster flick.
Should you see it? If you've seen one, you've seen them all.

This isn't a sequel to Tobe Hooper's 2002 film "Crocodile," nor Hickox's, nor Kim's, nor Sands', all of which are mediocre, but somewhat better than this film. This film starts with a bank robbery and takes some time to get to the swamp and the crocodile, where poor effects kill the cast in uninspired ways.

The Creeps (1997)

How bad is it? It's not great.
Should you see it? I think so, especially if you're a fan of Charles Band.

Charles Band has produced a ton of low-budget films (Full Moon Pictures) that often have unique elements aimed at garnering a cult following. The films that he himself directed are often the best of the bunch (I covered "Hideous!" before). In this one, Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, the Mummy and the Wolfman are all brought to life... only three feet tall! If that idea amuses you, so will the film. The actors, recognizable from other roles, are quite good. The story takes a while to get going and the film's running time is short, but the attack scenes are well done, particularly the one of the librarian at the altar.

Creepers (1993)

aka The Crawlers, aka The Contamination .7, aka Troll 3, aka Troll 3: The Crawlers, aka Troll3: The Contamination .7

How bad is it? It's only the 11th best killer plant movie I can think of off-hand (none worse).
Should you see it? Only if you're really desperate for anything purporting to be a sequel to Troll 2.

"Troll 2" has been deemed by some "The Best Worst Movie." This film, whose production history is convoluted and perhaps fraudulent, has been released as "Troll 3," though it's only true connection is killer plants. Toxic waste buried in barrels has been leaking, causing tree roots to become killer vines, which must be poisonous, because victims don't struggle much once caught. There's no gore, no nudity (though one actress is supposed to be a whore and the costumes were designed by Laura Gemser, who starred in some Emmanuelle films) and POV attacks that were obviously influenced by "The Evil Dead." The acting is terrible, particular by the sheriff. They solve the problem by moving the barrels - without protection - or by burying them yet deeper; this seems to stop the vines cold for reasons not adequately explained. For that matter, the ".7" in the title "Contamination .7" is not explained either. The end suggests a fourth Troll film, about killer Christmas trees, is possible.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Creature of Destruction (1967)

How bad is it? It's a Larry Buchanan film. That should be warning enough.
Should you see it? Of course.

As if Roger Corman's AIP films weren't bad enough, Larry Buchanan remade four of them as a package to sell to southern drive-ins and local TV stations. This is not the best or worst of the four, a remake of The She Creature (reviewed earlier on this blog). Past life hypnotic regression causes a girl to become a sea monster in a rubber suit with an obvious zipper. In fact, the same monster as in "It's Alive," another Buchanan film and not the Larry Cohen cult classic. There's an air force parapsycholgist.  There's two musical numbers, one about Batman, one sad one that causes spontaneous riotous dancing. The film was shot silent and dubbed in post-production, it's underlit, has continuity errors, every scene ends with a fade, all the attacks are off-screen and the scenes are shot mostly from a distance with one close-up per scene.

Creating Rem Lezar (1989)

How bad is it? It's the most misguided disturbing children's film.
Should you see it? Not if you're a child. Otherwise, yes.

Kids create a living doll out of their imaginary friend and mannequin parts, the blue-mulleted, spandexed, gold gloved, always singing Rem Lezar, who leads them through adventures like falling in a lake and walking through Central Park, before spending the night in a creepy abandoned shack and making peace with the pulsating disembodied floating head of an obese teenager. There's an a cappella group, a rapper (an actual black man!) in knee socks and more awful songs than you can count. There's also a very strong sense that this was made by a pedophile filming his desires.

Cool As Ice (1991)

How bad is it? As bad as Vanilla Ice's rap.
Should you see it? Uh-huh.

Vanilla Ice was a one-hit wonder with one (stolen from Bowie) hook in "Ice Ice Baby." His rap career being a joke, he went on, of course, to star in a movie before becoming a home re-modeler, which he reportedly does well. The clothing in this film should get top-billing and Ice's jackets keep changing, though he never carries a spare. Naomi Campbell appears, and even she's not the worst actor (that would be any policeman in this film). Michael Gross plays a guy in the witness protection program who lets himself be seen on TV so his cop buddies can find him... and he happens to be the father of the small-town girl that motorcycle gangster Ice falls in love with. There's spontaneous rap. There's peanut butter sandwiches (with pineapple and sardines). But mostly, there's impossible stunts, as Ice jumps his motorcycle over a fence from a flat road and a complete stop and later crashes through the second story window of a building he was driving away from.

Confessions of a Window Cleaner (1974)

How bad is it? It's average, or even a bit above average.
Should you see it? I don't see why not.

I have no idea why this shows up on worst-movie lists; it was actually the most popular film in England the year it came out. The humor is very outdated and sexist, but it's a great capsule of the time and place. Robin Askwith's butt is seen almost continuously, as he plays a window cleaner who services the horny stay-at-home wives in the suburbs. The idea that all women are oversexed (and reasonably attractive) is a common enough male fantasy. The humor works for the most part and the film chugs along nicely. Compared to most films I see, this is a classic.

Computer Beach Party (1987)

How bad is it? It's painfully bad.
Should you see it? If you enjoy truly god-awful messes, this is your film.

Surfing computer hackers (there must be some) foil an evil mayor's attempt to develop the beachfront. There's a subplot about buried treasure - which doesn't exist, by the way - that involves a trip to NASA. There are surf buggies, a dozen songs by hair metal band "Panther," dubbed in voices that don't match, a giant chicken car, a climactic scene that isn't shown (they put up a disclaimer saying it's too violent to show!) and comedy relief bumbling cops. The most original thing about it is that it isn't breast-obsessed like most of these films... it's butt-obsessed.

Commando Mengele (1986)

aka Angel of Death

How bad is it? It's pathetic.
Should you see it? If you enjoy Jess Franco films, perhaps, but you shouldn't enjoy Franco films.

Jewish commandos stalk Josef Mengele on an ocean-side beach in land-locked Paraguay in this blatant rip-off of "Boys from Brazil." Thought Jess Franco didn't direct this, he did write it and his stock actors all are here. Fernando Rey plays a Nazi hunter and Chris Mitchum is a crippled mercenary. There's an evil monkeyman created from experiments and a lot of naked girls in cages. There's also circus performers and WAY too many squibs, which inevitably explode where guns are not pointed. All in all, if you can get past the dullness, there are some laughs.

Collision Course (1989)

How bad is it? Bad enough to end Jay Leno's brief movie career.
Should you see it? Sure.

This is a fish-out-of-water buddy-cop movie, starring Pat Norita and Jay Leno, with Ernie Hudson, Tom Noonan and Randall "Tex" Cobb. It's not the 1967 Chinese UFO film of the same name (aka Bamboo Saucer, which is worth catching) or the 2012 film that I've yet to see. There's an experimental turbocharger for autos being smuggled from Japan and Tokyo's Norita gets teamed with Detroit's Leno, though they are always at odds. Leno's jokes are not only racist, but sexist - yet he's like catnip to the ladies! There's a decent shoot-out on a train where the bad guy explodes, a chase scene with a fruit cart (is this the 1920's?) and John Hancock as the screaming black chief of police. Leno apparently forgets he's been shot in the leg and Norita jumps through a windshield, decapitating a driver with his kick! It looks like they ran out of money for editing and post-production, so it's rough and clunky. If Samurai Cop didn't exist, this would be the silliest cop movie I've seen.

Club Vampire (1998)

How bad is it? It borders on the unwatchable.
Should you see it? Absolutely not.

This Roger Corman-produced sleaze is about as bad as vampire films get. There's a dwarf with a spider tattoo on his head, hamster eating, someone throwing up their internal organs, some faked Nepal scenery, quotes from better movies, poor make-up (no fangs on these vampires), badly done strip routines and a director who tries every bad camera trick to try to be visually interesting.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Interview: Dan Lashley

I discovered Dan Lashley first through links from IMDB to his blog Wide Weird World of Cult Films (from which I lifted the photo in my review of Alien Beasts). Recently, he and his wife, Erin, who has her own film blog (In It for the Kills) have started a blog about terrible films (Bad Movie Couple). Here's an interview we did over Twitter - or perhaps, given the photos, it was Peter Bark being interviewed by a redhead with very large eyes. The interview has been slightly edited.

I'm thinking of interviewing fans of bad films and wondered if you'd be interested in being a subject. Just posted an example on my blog.

Nov 16

Yeah I'd love to.

Nov 16

Warm-up questions. 
1) Tor Johnson or Cuzman Huerta (Santo)?

Nov 19

I've seen more Tor's work, but I'm a wrestling fan so I gotta pick the late great El Santo.

Nov 19

[Tor was also a wrestler.] 
2) Name as many prolific directors worse than Ed Wood Jr. as you can in 5 minutes.

Nov 20

Damn it, I always forget that about Tor.

Nov 20

nick millard, andy milligan, jess franco, uwe boll, bruno mattei, chester turner, william beaudeux (sp) [Beaudine], rey [Rene] cardona jr, ovidio assonitis

david decouteu, david heavener, donald jackson

13. Eh, not bad. [I say 12 - Turner wasn't prolific]

Nov 20

3) You've had a blog on cult films for a while. Why start the new one on bad films?

Nov 21

I've always wanted to work on a blog with my wife, who does her own blog. We have a good chemistry together (cont)

She's the smart one, able to analyze a film, and I'm the goofball that like to say funny shit. It's a marriage made in Heaven.

Nov 21

4) You specialize in rare and obscure films. Does that cut you off from the mainstream? Is there value to reviewing films no one else sees?

Nov 22

Not really. I try to check out mainstream stuff when it interests me. I just feel there's more than enough people reviewing (cont)

mainstream movies. I like to find stuff that doesn't have much of a presence online (like imdb). As for the second question.. (cont)

Of course there's value in films other don't see. If one of my reviews gets someone to seek out that film, awesome. (cont)

Likewise, if me condemning a movie makes then NOT see it, well they are smarter than me. Although I do enjoy other people's take on it.

Nov 22

Someone put their time, money, and occasionally love in these films. They may stink on every level but (cont)

they do have a value to them to someone. Just about every movie is someone's favorite...except Chain Letter no one likes that shit.

Nov 22

[Haven't seen Chain Letter!] 5) They make a bad movie about your life. What's Robert Z'Dar doing with that dog?

Nov 23

That dog is actually a demon who instructs Z'Dar to do really petty things to people who annoy him. I call it "Son of A Bitch Sam"

Nov 23

6) What was the best year for bad films?

Nov 23

Honestly, I think either 88 or 89. It was at the height of video stores buying ANYTHING. People with a camcorder were making movies (cont)

Nov 23

that were getting shelf space in video stores. It's how I got tricked into watching Woodchipper Massacre as a kid. (cont)

I'm gonna cheat and say 1988 AND 1989 were the best two years for bad films.

Nov 23

7) WideWeirdWorldofCult always lists 6 things. Why 6? Do you ever have to re-watch to come up with the last one?

Nov 23

I've kinda let that drop because I found there were always things I had to leave out. Very rarely do I fight to find stuff to list. (cont)

Nov 23

This way I do it now doesn't restrict me and I still try to make it at least 6 things as a nod to the way I used to do it.

And the reason for 6 was because most people did 5 or 10. That's why the few lists I do are 15. I like weird numbers

Nov 23

8) Is there anything you absolutely refuse to watch?

Nov 23

Torture porn. I also don't care for films that are sick for the sake of being sick. No story, no real plot, just to offend. (cont)

Nov 23

There are always exceptions of course. But I won't watch something like A Serbian Film. It's just depressing non-enjoyable trash.

I want my awful flicks to not make me wanna slit my wrists.

Nov 23

What was that film documenting war-time Japanese medical atrocities? Showgirls?

Nov 23

Men Behind the Sun, but Showgirls has it's own atrocities to explain. 
[Oh.. and I was thinking of "Philosophy of a Knife," rather than "Men Behind the Sun." Of course there were two such films.]

Nov 23
#9) If you watch with your spouse, is there a veto process? And what usually gets consumed during the viewing?

Nov 23

Some of the worst stuff (usually SOV) get's veto'd, although she has watched quite a few of them with me. She tends to like (cont)

Nov 23

small things like a cast not made up of neighbors, real locations, and actual professionals on set. I like those too (see The Visitor) (cont

Nov 23

but I tend to enjoy the no budget stuff a bit more. I admit it, I love the awful movies I review except the mediocre ones (asylum) (cont)

As for food, Usually pizza is consumed. I associate many delicious slices of pizza with crap like the Polonia Brothers.

Nov 23

One pro makes all the difference. Vilmos Zsigmond's cinematography helps a lot of trash.
10) Do you think podcasts are replacing blogs and, if so, is that something we bloggers may have to get into?

Nov 24

I think there's room for both blogs and podcasts. I do one with my wife called Cult Conversations (infrequent at the moment) (cont)

And I've done a "radio show" off and on since I started the site. I've also played with audio reviews. I'd like to do more but (cont)

I never have time, so writing is quicker.
Nov 24
11) If someone's new to bad films, where do you recommend they start?

Nov 24

I wouldn't want them to be traumatized right off the bat so something like Splatter Farm wouldn't be first. I'd go with something (cont)

like Samurai Cop, or The Visitor, or Pieces and work from there. I'd try with 555, but that may be pushing it.

Nov 24

I'd never even heard of "555," which is why I read your blog. Since 11 is a nice even number, I think I'll stop here. Thanks!

24h 24 hours ago

You'd enjoy 555. It's SOV, awful dialogue, ed woodish sets, and some decent boobs and gore.


If you're on Twitter, here's some useful handles. I'm at  @amy_surplice