Saturday, May 31, 2014

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996)

How bad is it? It had a 0% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Should you see it? It's awfulness is almost endearing. Almost.

Putting the third sequel no one wanted in space meant that they could set aside any time or space or logic problems and let Warwick Davis' evil leprechaun character do just about anything. This one has a princess. This one also has the leprechaun emerge from a man's penis. It has a character blended with a scorpion and tarantula. There's an enlargement ray gun. there's a liquid nitrogen shattering scene. There's a vacuum of space explosion. The main crux of the film is a forgotten password!

Little Witches (1996)

How bad is it? It's a complete rip-off of another film.
Should you see it? Nah.

This film has a small cult following, undoubtedly due to the fact that it has nudity. Otherwise, it's just a cheap version of "The Craft," released the same year. This does have some interesting cast choices, from Jack Nance to Zelda Rubinstein and Sheeri Rappaport (who does a naked dance). The nudity is mostly in long shot. There's a bad monster puppet. Nance gets killed by fish hooks, which is probably the high point of the movie. Otherwise, it's just naked girls dancing around a cauldron, chanting.

Laser Mission (1989)

How bad is it? It's a bad idea, done ineptly.
Should you see it? It doesn't have enough going for it to warrant watching.

This film went straight to video and then had a surge in popularity four years later, with the death of its star, Brandon Lee. Ernest Borgnine plays a scientist who knows how to make a terrible laser weapon, if only one had a large enough diamond. The Russians steal the world's largest diamond and then kidnap Borgnine in a plan to make him create the weapon for their use. Lee has to come to the rescue, to save the world from Russian domination (which was becoming rapidly implausible as this was filmed). Borgnine was much too old for his role and Lee isn't any more believable in his and the whole film has a by-the-numbers feel.

The Lost Platoon (1991)

How bad is it? It's a blend of two genres that fails at both.
Should you see it? It has very minor camp value.

This film has an interesting premise, that a group of vampires are fighting in the army continuously, as they cannot be killed, so an aging commander detects them, unchanged, from a previous war. You don't get to see the fangs come out for the first half of the film. There's a lot of hyperkinetic camera work, but it doesn't make up for a script that goes nowhere. The final action scene is wild, but the overacting and underacting that leads up to it undermine the film.

The Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters (1965)

How bad is it? It looks like it was filmed extemporaneously.
Should you see it? If you're a Ray Dennis Stecker completist.

Along with ultra-low budget horror films, Ray Dennis Steckler tried his hand at a couple of other genres, including this attempt to make a children's television program. The film is three episodes of the proposed show, which takes characters from The Bowery Boys of the 1950's (Steckler does an amazing Huntz Hall "Satch" impersonation) and adds supernatural elements. It somehow manages to be both ahead of its time and behind it at the same time. To say the slapstick humor is broad is a gross understatement. Seemingly ever distracted, Steckler uses his Rat Pfink and BooBoo characters in the third installment and some of the masks form Incredibly Strange Creatures can be seen.

It took me 20 years of searching to find this film, now more readily available. It was not worth the search.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Landlady (1998)

How bad is it? It's watchable.
Should you see it? Not if anything else I review is available.

There aren't many films about female psychopaths and very few female slashers. This one stars Talia Shire, whose performance is okay, though occasionally, it seems like she's playing it for camp (there's some "Mommie Dearest" moments). The other actors are generally bad. The plot has her killing her husband (anaphylaxis), then taking over the apartment he owned as a landlady, so she can find herself a new husband among the tenants. She installs cameras and two-way mirrors and ends up killing everyone who gets in her way... and then anyone who annoys her... and then just about anyone else. It gets wilder and sillier as it goes.

L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies - Return to Savage Beach (1998)

aka Return to Savage Beach

How bad is it? It's at least the third time Andy Sidaris made the same film.
Should you see it? Yes, though you may feel guilty for watching it.

The premise of the film is also stretched too far.
The last film Sidaris directed (he died the next year), this film verges on self-parody, taking his usual elements of big fake boobs, muscle men who can't shoot, explosions galore and toy robotics to a point that causes one to wonder how much further he could've pushed. Even Shae Marks went to smaller breast implants after this movie. The Sidaris films blend together enough that it's hard to separate them; I remember this as "the one with the submarine." It's also the one that relies most heavily on remote control toy vehicles delivering explosives.

Last Orgy of the Third Reich (1977)

aka Gestapo's Last Orgy, aka Caligula Reincarnated as Hitler

How bad is it? It's considered the sickest of a sick category of film.
Should you see it? No.

Unlike "Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S." and other films of the women-and-Nazi-prisons genre, this one is sombre and serious, rather than trying to be titillating. The atrocities are probably the worst committed to film and the production values are good enough to not make them laughable. Despite a couple of bad acting performances, this looks like it was intended to be a serious film about a serious subject.

It cannot be considered entertainment.

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001)

How bad is it? It's good - certainly above average.
Should you see it? Yes.

Why am I covering a good movie? Well, if you watch enough bad movies, someone will say to you, "Have you seen 'The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra?'"

There have been attempts since the 1980's of making intentionally bad movies, but with a few exceptions, I don't care for them. This film is rather an homage to the bad movies of the 1950's and a very good one at that. It manages to milk a joke to the point that you're about to get annoyed and then moves on to something else. There's some incredible dialogue; the line that will probably be best remembered: "I'm a scientist. I don't believe in anything." The aliens get baffled, hilariously, by steps and doors. The skeleton of the title has all the parts visible that hold it together and a close-up of the alien weapons shows them to be caulking guns. The monster the aliens are transporting (for unexplained reasons) - and of course lose - is a terrible rubber suit. The direction, acting and cinematography are all quite good in supporting a script that has a forest ranger saying "I'm a forest ranger. I sure hope someone needs my help today."

Love Camp 7 (1968)

How bad is it? It only showed in Times Square grindhouses.
Should you see it? No.

This was the first film to combine the exploitation genres of Nazis and women in prison and showed almost continuously for years in theaters most people wouldn't admit attending in the 1960's. Purportedly based on a true story, two women go undercover to find information about, and possibly rescue, a woman who was being used as a sex slave in one of the German "pleasure camps." They, of course, get captured, raped, beaten and tortured, but they do find the woman, who's in solitary confinement - so they have to do something to get themselves there as well. Much has been made of the fact that writer/star Cresse was Jewish (as were others involved in this film), but this is just simple exploitation, not done well, except for the amazing amount of flesh shown without showing anything banned at the time.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Lonely Lady (1983)

How bad is it? It's based on a Harold Robbins novel and stars Pia Zadora.
Should you see it? Yes, but get liquored up first.

I wrote a review of "Butterfly" and then deleted it, but I may have to rewrite one, now that I'm reviewing Pia Zadora films. Pia wasn't classically pretty, she couldn't act (though her husband allegedly bought her a Golden Globe) and couldn't sing (though she was nominated for a Grammy), but she couldn't be stopped, either. In this film, she manages to discuss Pushkin while jogging, she gets raped by a garden hose, has an abortion, becomes a waitress, takes drugs, has sex on a pool table (actually, writhes naked as pool is played about her), showers with her clothes on, gets institutionalized, writes the script of the movie you're watching while in the loony bin and wins an Academy Award (called by another name for legal reasons) for her writing. She doesn't manage to act, however.

The Love Machine (1971)

How bad is it? It's one of the worst films based on a Jacqueline Susann novel.
Should you see it? Yes, as it has some great cameos and overacting.

That fashion never really caught on.
Dionne Warwick sings. Jackie Cooper plays a movie mogul. Shecky Greene has a cameo, as does Claudia Jennings! Robert Ryan's wife, Dyan Cannon, has an affair and then he dies of a heart attack. Jodi Wexler commits suicide. An amazon hooker (that's what she's called in the credits!) gets beaten and a gay photographer trades an alibi for sex. There's a shower scene. Cannon sets a bed on fire and then fights three men at a buffet. A good time is had by all.

Love Crimes (1992)

How bad is it? It has both perversion and yodelling.
Should you see it? It's only for those who think Sean Young is either hot or crazy.

Sean Young sports one of the worst haircuts since The Three Stooges. Patrick Bergin photographs women in degrading sexual situations. She follows him to a cabin, where she gets locked in a closet, then handcuffed to a couch and, when Bergin talks about men having sex with fish, she smears fish guts on her face and threatens him with a knife. He spanks her, then gives her a bath, then photographs her. She tries to get him arrested, so he sings "Yodelling in the Valley," a song the credits say he wrote. If that sounds like your idea of a fun film, go ahead and watch.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lady Godiva Rides (1969)

How bad is it? It's a mess of anachronisms and mixed forms.
Should you see it? Not really.

Marsha Jordan starred in at least a dozen X-rated films in 1969, all of which would be rated R (or even PG) today; she was willing to be nude and do simulated sex scenes, but wouldn't do hard core porn, so she later tried her hand at R-rated films ("Count Yorga"), but without success. She was a buxom blonde with a fairly attractive face and she seemed more likable than sexual to me.

This film was directed by Stephen Apostoloff, best known now for his association with Ed Wood, so that's why it gets attention, rather than her other films. The story starts with Lady Godiva escaping Tom Jones (though of different eras), only to end up being forced into prostitution in the American Wild West - a third anachronism. Tom Jones has to rescue her in the end, which makes little sense, especially given how long a trip that would be. Jordan's "ride" is only a few seconds long, as she couldn't ride a horse! The film manages to disappoint on many levels.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Korkusuz (1986)

aka Rampage, aka Fearless, aka Turkish Rambo

How bad is it? It's a Turkish knock-off of Rambo. That should suffice to answer.
Should you see it? Yes, if mindless action is your thing.

A man is hired to infiltrate a terrorist organization in the mountains by pretending to be a mercenary. He rescues a woman who's perhaps the least likely actress to ever play the part of damsel in distress, he gets buried in mud and rocks up to his neck, he gets grazed by a sword (and he's so tough, his skin doesn't break) and he spends half the movie mountain climbing. The one good scene is the climax, where he fires rocket propelled grenades from point-blank range and seems to never run out of ammo, even though he obviously isn't carrying any.

Karate Girl (1974)

aka Kareteci Kiz, aka Golden Girl

How bad is it? Well, for one thing, it's not a karate film.
Should you see it? Sure. It has enough to make for a worthy rental.

Not who you expect as a Turkish bad-ass!
This is a Turkish version of Ms. 45 (Angel of Vengeance), about a mute girl who gets raped and then seeks revenge. The crime causes her to gain her voice! Then she becomes an expert, not only in martial arts, but in the use of handguns. The movie has way more plot than you'd expect, or than I'm willing to discuss here, but it's a revenge fantasy exploitationer with an attractive lead and, in my humble opinion, the best of the Turkish rip-off films.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Killer Tongue (1996)

How bad is it? Its weirdness almost overcomes its defects.
Should you see it? Tough call - I guess so.

Made by Apix films, which made a number of would-be cult films (I almost added their Jack Frost 2 to this list), with mediocre effects and bizarre storylines. This one has a woman eating soup that has a chunk of meteorite in it, which gives her a 10 foot long killer tongue. The tongue develops the ability to talk for itself. The woman's four poodles get turned into drag queens. A nun gets changed into a drum majorette. The girl's boyfriend tries to escape from Robert Englund's prison. It's all shoddy and pointless, made endurable only by the star and her latex outfit.

Killer Condom (1996)

aka Kondom des Grauens

How bad is it? The first half is actually quite good.
Should you see it? If you don't mind subtitles and dismemberment.

Released by Troma, this is not their typical intentional campfest. It's a German film that has well-developed characters, subplots, atmosphere... and aliens that people mistake for condoms and which eat penises (and in one case a nose). The film ran out of money and so the second half of the film is just stitched together, with little of the entertainment of the first half.

King Cobra (1999)

How bad is it? It had production problems and then got released in a rush because of "Anaconda."
Should you see it? Yes, it's a passable waste of time.

Scientists create a hybrid of a timber rattlesnake and an african king cobra (the fact that they're only asian is the smallest factual error of the film), with heightened aggression, which apparently also makes them huge and impervious to bullets. Erik Estrada has an embarrassing gay role. Hoyt Axton and Pat Morita go slumming in this film, which gets increasingly silly, improbable and stupid as it goes. The best part for me was having the mayor decide not to cancel the local beer fest just because people are getting killed by wild beasts; it's good to be mayor.

KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park

aka Attack of the Phantom

How bad is it? It's like a concert film aimed at toddlers.
Should you see it? Yes, especially if you're old enough to remember the band KISS.

In this film, a scientist who works at an amusement park (let that sink in for a while) decides to clone the band KISS, but creates a werewolf, Dracula and Frankenstein's monster. Meanwhile, teenagers get lost in the funhouse and the real band performs about a dozen songs while fighting off monsters. This was made for television, like an afterschool special. I imagine there was a meeting where someone said they need to reach young viewers, but didn't know what they were into and one guy said his son liked KISS, so they didn't wait for a second idea. The band was theatrical in nature, so they make for decent television and given that each member released a solo album that year, they obviously were looking for direction. This film, too, needed direction.

King Kong Lives (1986)

How bad is it? It's as bad as a King Kong movie possibly could be.
Should you see it? Yeah.

The 1976 King Kong was not great and certainly didn't require a sequel ten years later, but it does get one wondering how they'd make it, given that Kong died in the original. It turns out that Kong survived the fall and was in a coma, awaiting a heart transplant. Linda Hamilton plays the doctor who puts a ridiculously large artificial heart into the beast, using transfusions from a lady Kong, recently discovered. Then - get this - it becomes a love story, as Kong and bride break free and head to Honeymoon Ridge, where they encounter scale problems and Hamilton has her own romance. The bride of Kong lays down on a barn and gives birth to a son, just as Kong's new heart gives out. Trying to turn a monster movie into a romance is a silly idea and this film does not make it work.

The Keeper of Time (2004)

How bad is it? It's aimed at undiscerning children.
Should you see it? If you've already watched every Xena: Warrior Princess episode.

This was shot on videotape long after its heyday of the 1980's. It's a very basic story of a child caught in sword and sorcery fantasy. The film actually looks good, too good for once, as impossibly handsome men and beautiful women are in a time and place where showering and shaving seem unlikely. The best scene has a swordsman fighting a storm. It moves along and is mildly diverting, but it seems odd that this has so many people calling it terrible and some calling it a masterpiece of bad filmmaking.

Friday, May 23, 2014

King Dinosaur (1955)

How bad is it? It's your typical 1950's giant animal movie with a low budget.
Should you see it? Yes, perhaps as part of binge watching giant animal movies.

The year after the great giant ant film "Them," Bert I. Gordon made his first film that used live animals on miniature sets and actors running from back-projected menaces. It's probably his best film of the type - still not good, mind you. This one has a giant armadillo, a giant gila monster (not the same one in "The Giant Gila Monster") and footage from Hal Roach's "One Million B.C." The plot: astronauts land on planet Nova, which looks like Benedict Canyon, encounter monsters and solve their problems in the end with an atomic bomb.

Killers from Space (1954)

How bad is it? It's a poor science fiction film with hysterically bad aliens.
Should you see it? Yes, but it has fewer laughs than I wish it had.

Peter Graves battles aliens who show him their powers via stock footage and very cheap electronics. The aliens have ping pong ball eyes (which impedes their vision enough that the actors sometimes have trouble maneuvering) and wear hooded costumes with striped belts and mittens. It's turgid in pacing, but each time you see the aliens, they're still funny.

The Killer Shrews (1959)

How bad is it? It has some of the silliest monster special effects.
Should you see it? Yes.

A scientist creates giant shrews, known for needing to eat almost continuously. They're played by dogs with added hair and long fangs. The climactic scene, where the heroes escape by walking in a crouch, while in a flotilla of turned over barrels, is worth the wait. The film moves along briskly, with laughs scattered evenly throughout and every time you see the "shrews," you'll laugh again. Ken Curtis (of Gunsmoke") produced and has a role and Ingrid Goude, Miss Universe 1957, proves herself an able actress.

Just for the Hell of It (1968)

How bad is it? It's extremely violent, but the violence is dull.
Should you see it? No.

I'm including this because it was impossible to see for decades and thus gets sought out by Herschel Gordon Lewis completists. It's one of his few films that aren't strictly horror; it's a juvenile delinquency film, which is a decade late for that trend. Three guys and a girl terrorize a Florida town, "just for the hell of it." They smash a party, they tear a restaurant apart, they fight a baseball team, they beat up girls and they force people to take drugs. None of it's interesting or well done, we don't care about the characters and it doesn't have much of a plot.

Jack-O (1995)

How bad is it? It was made on a bet.
Should you see it? Yes.

There was a few minutes of footage of John Carradine in woods that never got put into a movie and also a bit with Cameron Mitchell, who also died before this film was made, so a screenwriter was challenged to come up with a film that could use that footage a la Bela Lugosi in Plan 9. They added Linnea Quigley and Brinke Stevens to the cast and came up with this. A cross is removed from agrave, releasing a creature with a jack o'lantern head (this years after Pumpkinhead 1&2), which seeks revenge on the descendants of those who killed it centuries earlier. There's a small good bit about the earlier time, using a historic village, but the rest of the film is god-awful. There's a lot of people, but none can act and most are just victim fodder. The special effects are terrible (the lightning and electrocution are especially bad) and the line deliveries are emotionless. It does manage to be entertaining in spite of itself.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Jitters (1989)

How bad is it? It's a mish-mash of bad ideas.
Should you see it? Yes. It's fun.

If you're unfamiliar with the Chinese monster that's part zombie and part vampire, it doesn't really matter in this film, though it may take some getting used to; for one thing, it hops. A store owner is killed and his unquiet spirit grows fangs and pointed ears and then goes on a revenge tear. The way it's stopped is by having a Buddhist priest attach a piece of paper with a prayer to its forehead. The film has a lot of juvenile humor and chop-socky fight sequence, plus over-the-top villains and a bad synth score and other 1980's tropes. There's one good transformation sequence that looks like it was filmed before they decided to make this a comedy. It's cheap, it's stupid, it's lame... what's not to like?

Journey to the Center of Time (1967)

aka Time Warp

How bad is it? Poor special effects and a plot that's impossible to follow.
Should you see it? Yes, but not because it's so-bad-it's-good

What teenage boys remember of this film
This movie treads the exact same ground as "The Time Travelers" and "Time Tunnel," but does it with a smaller budget. Scientist,s including ubiquitous trash-film hero Scott Brady, have an accident with a time machine, which sends them alternately 5000 years in the future, where Lyle Waggoner and other aliens are trying to take over the world, and to prehistoric times, where stock footage dinosaurs are the peril. The film ping-pongs back and forth so much, with so much repeated footage, that all continuity is lost. As a young boy, I was most impressed with the huge-breasted actress who played an alien - this was her only film - though a second viewing 20 years later left me wanting more to see than that.

Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

aka Jaws 4, aka Jaws 4: The Revenge

How bad is it? It finally killed a series of sequels that should never have happened.
Should you see it? I think not.

Jaws was a terrific summer escapist movie. Years later, an anemic sequel was made and promptly ignored. Then a third film was made, with nothing going for it except being filmed in 3-D. Five years after that, this trash got made. This film is no different from any other mediocre animal attack film, except for the premise: the shark is smart and wants revenge. This time, it's personal! Ludicrously, the shark swims down the eastern seaboard to the Caribbean, chasing down its prey, encountering Mario Van Peebles as a Jamaican scientist and Michael Caine, who's cameo is blink-and-you'll-miss-it. The film's star is Lorraine Gary, the one person to appear in all Jaws films, and the quality of the films is directly equivalent to how little screen time she has; I'm guessing she was married to a producer of the film, because it's hard to imagine how this got made otherwise. The silliness of a sea creature wanting revenge is not in itself deadly - "Orca" mined that with aplomb - but the film flounders under the weight of bad acting.

The Jet Benny Show (1986)

How bad is it? It's technically very crude.
Should you see it? If you're a fan of old television and serials.

This film screams "student project," but it's pretty good for a student film. It starts with snippets of made-up 1950's television shows, as if someone's changing channels. Then it settles down to a guy doing an excellent (if very affected) Jack Benny impersonation in a Buck Rogers kind of show. The Rochester character is played by a robot that must've cost all of a dollar, voiced by someone off screen. Benny's 1939 Maxwell becomes a space ship here. The plot has Jet Benny rescuing a damsel in distress, though neither really seems to be interested in that rescue. It's impossibly cheap, but also surreally weird. It's hard to imagine who the intended audience for this was, but it has enough going for it to make it worth a rental.

Jail Bait (1954)

aka Hidden Face

How bad is it? It's Ed Wood's best film - so, pretty bad.
Should you see it? Sure.

After the truly terrible Glen or Glenda, Ed Wood directed a noir-ish crime drama that has a typically lurid plot idea and terrible execution. It has many of the same actors as Glen or Glenda, plus the first screen appearance of muscleman Steve Reeves, who plays a cop that takes off his shirt more often than cops usually do. The plot has youth Timothy Farrell falling in with minor gangster Lyle Talbot and this leads to a shooting death, which Talbot pins on Farrell by killing him and then placing his body where no one would ever look... in a closet. Farrell's dad just happens to be an expert plastic surgeon who can make anyone look like anything and Talbot has him alter his appearance. The twist ending is so obvious you can probably piece it together from this post. What people most remember about this film is the terrible music score; Wood reportedly lost his original soundtrack, so he borrowed the one from Ron Ormond's "Mesa of Lost Women" (which I will review), meaning that squad cars race down the street to the accompaniment of flamenco guitar. The music's quite nice - in small doses - but it becomes aggravating quickly. Ormond's filmed minstrel show "Yes Sir, Mr. Bones" also is used as filler, so you get to see actors in black face for no real reason.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Devil Master (1977)

aka Demon Lover

How bad is it? It's often spectacularly bad.
Should you see it? Yes. And see the making-of film, too.

This was made with no budget in central Michigan by a first-time director (who actually went on to direct more films) with a very amateur cast and one professional - a sound man, so the sound's good even with a droning synthesizer score, but everything else is awful. The plot involves a guy in a long blond wig, who also co-wrote and co-produced under his real name, using satanism to gain power over people. His friends mostly take his parties as a lark, but things become ever more serious until they end up killing each other (and themselves). There's a cop investigating who ends up face-to-face with the devil and firing his gun at it. The main character wears one glove throughout the film; he allegedly cut off a finger for insurance fraud to help fund the movie! The guns and bullets are real and allegedly stolen from Ted Nugent! The scenes not featuring the devil master himself look like they were shot in sequence and you can see the strain in the actors as they grow increasingly unhappy. There's a gratuitous martial arts sequence in a bar, followed by one in a class that has nothing to do with anything. The version released under the original title "Demon Lover," is shorter; I believe it's missing a lengthy scene of full frontal nudity. The girlfriend of the sound guy filmed a documentary of the movie called "Demon Lover Diary," which is an excellent film and a real surprise, given the quality of Devil Master.

It's worth noting that one of the actors was an illustrator for "Howard the Duck" comics, so some of the characters have the names of famous illustrators, while others have the names of people associated with horror films.

Invasion of the Space Preachers (1990)

aka Strangest Dreams: Invasion of the Space Preachers

How bad is it? It's a lesser Troma film.
Should you see it? It's just barely enough to pass the time.

An accountant and a dentist decide to prove themselves as men in the rugged backwoods, where they encounter redneck locals and a very hokey spaceship. The aliens take on the form of evangelist types and most of the film is humor about stereotypes. The ending is particularly bad, as they have a street dance, just to have a happy ending - much like the 1960's beach and monster films. The best line: "Speaking of blow dryers, how's your mom?"

Invasion of the Blood Farmers (1972)

How bad is it? It's sometimes spectacularly bad.
Should you see it? I give it mild approval.

This film has a small cult following among the so-bad-it's-good movie reviewers. It's about a group of druids (or druid types) that drain the blood from people to retrieve a rare blood type, to resuscitate their queen, who lies in a glass coffin. The props they use look the wrong size and were probably just the first things found that might work. The acting is universally bad, but the characters have little plot or dialogue to help.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Ishtar (1987)

How bad is it? It's a comedy with few laughs.
Should you see it? If you insist on it, I won't stop you.

This film has become infamous a waste of more than $50 million that grossed about a third of that, due in large part, I think, to unfavorable reviews that came from the studio bad-mouthing their own product during production. Warren Beatty can't do comedy and Dustin Hoffman, try as he might, is only so-so in comedies, so they were poor choices in casting; they must've been told it was going to be a remake of "Road to Morocco," but the script has maybe two dozen laughs, when it needed 200 for it's running time to be a zany comedy. If it were meant as a romantic comedy, which Elaine May was capable of directing and which needs fewer jokes, Isabelle Adjani's role would have been larger - but she and Beatty have no chemistry, so it would've failed anyway. There are some intentionally bad songs at the start that are funny and the vultures and blind camel in the second half were good, but that's only enough to carry 10  minutes of film, which leaves 90 minutes of boring.

Iron Eagle 3 - Aces (1992)

aka Aces: Iron Eagle III

How bad is it? It's mediocre.
Should you see it? Probably not.

I'm surprised that this film has the bad reputation it does. The first two Iron Eagle films were poor, but this one has nothing to do with them except airplanes and Lou Gosset Jr. and its plot is the tried-and-true Seven Samurai or The Magnificent Seven idea of a small group (always seven in number) with individual abilities uniting for a cause. Sybil Danning was in two such films: "Battle Beyond the Stars" and "The Seven Magnificent Gladiators;" this time, instead of adding a bosomy blonde amazon, they added a brunette female bodybuilder, Rachel McLish. Women's bodybuilding had a brief moment of interest when sports networks were desperate for material and it was still being decided how much of a sport and how much of a beauty contest it should be (see "Pumping Iron 2: The Women"); McLish tried to make an acting career from her momentary fame... but she can't act. And, unlike male non-actor bodybuilders, she didn't master a martial art or do fantasy roles. She's not the worst actor in the film, though, as Sonny Chiba is in the cast. The film drags a bit and it's the use of vintage airplanes that makes for any visual appeal. Horst Buckholz, from the Magnificent Seven, reprises his role decades later.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Invasion of the Animal People (1959)

aka Terror in the Midnight Sun, aka Space Invasion from Lapland, aka Space Invasion of lapland, aka Horror in the Midnight Sun

How bad is it? It's mostly stock footage.
Should you see it? Yes, but you have to be in the right mood for it.

I don't recall there being such a good shot of the beast.
Jerry Warren once again takes a bad foreign film and adds new and worse footage to re-release it; this time it's not even as good as "Horror of the Blood Monsters." In the 80 minutes of this film, there must be 50 minutes of people skiing in stock footage before the monster finally makes a brief appearance. At one point, a guy skiing downhill turns around and continues skiing downhill (neat trick)! A meteor makes a crash landing in Scandinavia and a monster is released. Scientists from a lab so cheap the signage is in hand-printed paper investigate. John Carradine narrates footage shot earlier. Swedish actors pronounce their lines phonetically (and incorrectly at times).

As I'm going roughly alphabetically, this is a good time to point out that director Jerry Warren also made The Incredible Petrified World, also with John Carradine, in 1958 and that film, almost entirely contained within a diving bell, is the worst film he made - so bad it's not enjoyable enough to make the list of so-bad-it's-good.

The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

How bad is it? It's a barely acceptable horror flick.
Should you see it? If you're a fan of Rick Baker.

There are films made for one special effect. Maniac (1980) was created solely for Tom Savini to show a plastic head - modeled on his own - filled with condoms filled with blood to explode. [Now I don't have to review that!]

An astronaut returns to Earth with two problems: 1) His skin is melting and 2) He's now a cannibal. Everyone says this film is worth seeing for Rick Baker's special effects, but I'm not impressed; the one eye looks like it came from "Killers From Space" - which I will review soon - and the rest is just glop poured over an actor's head. The rest of the plot is immaterial.

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964)

aka Teenage Psycho Meets Bloody Mary

How bad is it? It's amazingly bad.
Should you see it? Most definitely.

The first time I saw this, I absolutely loved it. The second time I saw it with people who were not into bad films, and every little flaw stood out and wasn't fun. The third time, I loved it again.

This is Ray Dennis Steckler's best film, and twice the budget of all his other films combined (reportedly $35000); it's the reason I've seen all his dreck. First, the film is amazingly well-shot; cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond had just come to the U.S. from Czechoslovakia and couldn't get work in good films yet; Laszlo Kovacs, the other great Czech cinematographer, may also have been involved. When the dumb horror action stops for a Busby Berkeley-type dance production number, my jaw dropped.

Carolyn Brandt (Steckler's wife and also the make-up artist responsible for the terrible look of characters) plays a gypsy fortune teller, who when her readings get scoffed at, throws acid in people's faces and locks them in a cellar, where they become... well, not zombies, but monsters or just guys in halloween masks. Steckler, as well as directing, acts under the name Cash Flagg as a guy who you know is a zombie when he puts the hood up on his sweatshirt (Really! That's the difference!) The monsters get loose and go on a rampage at the end.

The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant (1971)

aka The Incredible 2 Headed Transplant

How bad is it? Forgive the pun, but it's very wrong-headed.
Should you see it? Yes, but know it's tough sledding.

This is even worse than the very similar "The Thing with Two Heads," which I'll get to eventually. Bruce Dern, just before becoming an A-lister, stars as a mad doctor who transplants the head of a maniac onto the neck of a large man of, let us say less than average intelligence, who spends most of the movie speaking baby talk. The maniac goes on a killing spree, now having access to a new body and it's up to radio dee-jay Casey Kasem (yes, you read that right) to investigate and stop him. Pat Priest of  "The Munsters" also is involved.

This is incredibly stupid, but it's also slow and embarrassing and sometimes difficult to watch, not for gore or violence, but because it's degrading.

In Your Face (1977)

aka Abar, aka Abar: Black Superman, aka Abar, the First Black Superman

How bad is it? It's perhaps the weirdest blaxploitation film ever made.
Should you see it? Definitely.

A black doctor and his family move into a very racist white neighborhood. Their cat gets killed. Their son gets run over. A militant (Abar) moves in and ends up drinking a potion that makes him invincible. The movie has bulletproof  rabbits! Abar decides to right wrongs non-violently: drunkard's bottles become milk, wastrels become college graduates, food becomes worms (not sure why), racist cops become hippies, all by the new powers of Abar - and all in the final 20 minutes. The movie is hysterically funny in it's bad acting and just surreal once it starts moving. A definite find.

I Accuse My Parents (1944)

How bad is it? It's by PRC and it's preachy.
Should you see it? Yes, it has it's moments.

Jimmy's parents drink, his mother has interests outside the home and his dad doesn't spend every minute at work (they're devils, I tell ya!) and this is the excuse he uses in court to explain why he followed a showgirl and started doing jobs for her not-quite-legitimate boss and then eventually ended up in deep trouble. It's like a male version of Ed Wood's "The Violent Years" and it's one of the rare terrible films of the 1940's.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Howard the Duck (1986)

How bad is it? It's a little below average.
Should you see it? Only if you want to prove that budget doesn't make for good films.

I'll admit it: I still own a copy of a Howard the Duck comic book. Whether it was a rip-off, lampoon or straight-up anti-hero comic book is still debatable, but the best part of it was that the artwork style and writing style changed with every story - that doesn't translate well to film.

The problem with the film is that there is no idea what the audience is or what they want. The small number of people who were familiar with the character weren't even much help with that, but the film made Howard too cute and his love affair with Lea Thompson icky (you have to think of bestiality) and the comedy doesn't work, either. Jeffery Jones makes a good villain (given what happened in his real life, apparently not much of a stretch), but the monster at the end was impossible to make out - it's much clearer on the small screen - and neither frightening nor silly.

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988)

How bad is it? It's everything the title suggests.
Should you see it? Yes.

This is Fred Olen Ray's masterpiece; even the batters with the lowest average sometimes hit a home run. This follows the investigation of a series of grisly murders, which turn out to be hookers sacrificing to an Egyptian deity (a la "Blood Feast!"). One of them spreads plastic sheeting over her Elvis poster to keep it from splatter. Linnea Quigley has the best scene, doing a topless dance with two chainsaws. Michelle Bauer and Dawn Wildsmith, veterans of a lot of trash, also do topless scenes. Gunnar Hansen, Leatherface of Texas Chainsaw fame, makes an appearance. It's just as bad as every other Ray film, but it all works for once.

The Human Duplicators (1965)

How bad is it? It's the worst version of the "Body Snatchers" theme.
Should you see it? I suppose.

Giant Richard Kiel (last mentioned in "Eegah!") plays an alien that plans to take over the world by making duplicates of kidnapped world leaders and then installing them back in power. The special effects are shoddy, the acting is poor, the plot is unimaginative, but there's a small amount of charm to it all.

The Horror of Party Beach (1964)

How bad is it? It's justifiably in nearly every worst movie list.
Should you see it? Yes.

Radioactive waste dumped into the ocean turns skulls into monsters (why there's skulls on the bottom of the ocean, I don't recall). The monsters then go on to attack girls on the beach and then at a slumber party. The action is neatly capsulized in newspaper headlines - with no articles, vertically, in the middle of a page. Meanwhile, the Del-Aires play a number of songs, including "The Zombie Stomp."

The Hideous Sun Demon (1959)

How bad is it? It's cheap and ludicrous.
Should you see it? Yes (but it's not the greatest).

Yet another 1950's nuclear scientist gets more than he bargained for, devolving into a lizard man whenever he's exposed to sunlight and then going on a killing spree. It's predictable, but the few laughs are evenly spaced enough to keep one's interest and the final showdown's pretty good.

Hideous! (1997)

How bad is it? It's wildly stupid. And very grotesque.
Should you see it? Yes -surprisingly.

Hey, Robot Monster, we found the rest of your costume.
Charles Band directed films starting in the 1970's, then went on to produce and to start at least two video outlets (Wizard Video, I remember, was one). This is one of his rare later directorial efforts. It's about collectors of human freak abortions discarded in waste - that probably has decided whether you'll see it or not - and one of them finds that his latest find is not dead and can animate the others, which then go on the attack. The best scene in the film has a woman, naked except for a gorilla mask, trying to, well, trust me, just watch this and find out.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Hobgoblins (1988)

How bad is it? It's a mess.
Should you see it? No. For once, I'll say the MST3K version might be worth seeing.

There were Gremlins, and Ghoulies and Critters and then there were Hobgoblins, creatures in a studio vault that can make wishes come true. Those who release them have fantasies that involve toplessness and violence and they have to stop them before sunrise - for reasons not adequately explained. The "monkey's paw" idea of fantasies gone awry is wasted and the audience cannot cheer for the people (the one girlfriend is SO awful!) and when they attack each other with rakes (again, not well-explained), we don't really care. It doesn't work as horror, as comedy, as action/adventure or as romance. The 1980's big hair and bad fashions are good for laughs, but it's not enough.