Thursday, July 31, 2014

Soul Vengeance (1975)

aka Welcome Home, Brother Charles

How bad is it? It's so bizarre it's terribleness is hard to measure.
Should you see it? Only in the original version "Welcome Home, Brother Charles" and only if the review sounds like something you'd watch.

The version of this film currently on video, called "Soul Vengeance," is heavily edited, removing the only reasons for watching this film, so beware.

A black man in prison has scientific experiments done to him and gets castrated, which turns his penis into a monster that can change size at will. When released from prison, he uses it to exact revenge, seducing the men's women (apparently the sight of his monster penis is mesmerizing) and killing them. In the last scene, he strangles a man with his penis, which is now several yards long. Whether it's all a dream sequence, some magical or supernatural occurrence or a freak of misguided science (or nature) is left to the viewer - if the viewer cares.

Sodoma's Ghost (1988)

aka Il Fantasma di Sodoma

How bad is it? It's a very poor Italian gorefest.
Should you see it? Only if you're a Fulci completist.

WW II Nazis having an orgy in a secluded villa become ghosts that terrorize teenagers. It's about as imaginative as that sounds. This is not the worst movie Lucio Fulci directed, but it's one of his later efforts, which are at best shadows of his earlier work. There are some effective moments and some bad ones - there's really nothing interesting to say about it, except that it has shown up on some good/bad lists.

Skeeter (1993)

How bad is it? It's better than the previously reviewed "Mosquito."
Should you see it? Sure, if it shows up on late night television.

Once again toxic waste causes giant mutant menaces, this time mosquitoes (a first, which has been repeated). Charles Napier plays the sheriff (as usual), Michael J. Pollard plays a weirdo (as usual), William Sanderson plays a health inspector plays a health inspector (surprise!) and George "Buck" Flower plays a hillbilly (as usual). The film starts with cattle deaths - the dead cows could be anything - then has some funny mosquito point of view shots (tinted green) and the film climaxes in a mine shaft, which gets blown up. The dialogue is clunky, there's a long dull stretch and the special effects are cheap, but this is a much more enjoyable film than most of its ilk.

Skatetown USA (1979)

How bad is it? It's a roller disco gang film. And not the best one.
Should you see it? Yes - if, you can.
You, too, will make this face when watching.

Released to theaters in 1979 - to underwhelming response - this then got shown on ABC television once in 1982 and disappeared. Columbia Pictures: re-release this! It's not on DVD, it was never on VHS. There is a bad print ripped from television online, which is your only chance of seeing it.

The film is Romeo and Juliet redone. A boy takes his sister to the roller disco, where a boy falls for her, but he's in a rival gang to the brother. This leads to a skate-off and then escalates to the two on rocket-powered skates aimed for the pier on the wharf in a to-the-death battle.

Check out the cast: Scott Baio, Flip Wilson, Ron Palillo, Maureen McCormack, Ruth Buzzi, Patrick Swayze, Billy Barty, Judy Landers, Dorothy Stratten and some forgotten hack comics of the time (like Murray Langston and Leonard Barr).

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Sisterhood (1988)

How bad is it? It's not even good by Philippine post-apocalypse standards.
Should you see it? Sadly, no.

Cirio Santiago directed this and his name's starting to show up almost as often as Jesus Franco when it comes to bad movies from the Philippines. It's about how, after the nuclear holocaust, in 2021, men have enslaved women and it's up to a band of roving women warriors (the titular Sisterhood) to fight for their freedom. That sounds like the making of enjoyable trash, but it's not. The women have mutated into a Magnificent Seven of superpowers, like laser-beam eyes, healing touches and the ability to speak to animals (a hawk is a major player in the film); the men were unaffected, except for a few mutants. Lynn-Holly Johnson, who was in "For Your Eyes Only" is supremely bad at action, being quite funny each time she kicks butt - but it's not enough fun to cover the endless stretches of wandering through the wasteland. There's a lot of action scenes, done in by plastic weapons in a world where bullets are rare (but tank-busting weapons aren't) and the scaling of walls with built-in footholds. It's cheap, it's stupid, but it's just not fun enough; most people who saw this were lured by the pretty decent cover art on the video.

Singapore Sling (1999)

aka Scandalous Behavior

How bad is it? It's a Shannon Tweed soft-core film with little Shannon.
Should you see it? No.

This is NOT the 1990 Singapore Sling, which is a pretty good, weird movie. This one was directed by James Hong, who also has a major role in the film as an Asian cowboy wannabee. Though the shot-on video pic is advertised as a Shannon Tweed film, she's not in much of it, though she does have a sex scene; newcomer Rena Riffel is in more of the movie and does a lot of sex scenes. The story is of a woman forced into a marriage with a corrupt Asian businessman, who escapes back to the U.S. and into the arms of the man who set up the forced marriage in the first place, as a way to save his failing oil company. It's generally well-shot and the sex scenes aren't bad, but it's derivative plot, bad acting and stereotypes doom it to being forgotten.

The Sinful Dwarf (1973)

aka Dvaergen

How bad is it? It's really depraved.
Should you see it? If you want to see just how depraved a film can get.

This film joins "Bloodsucking Freaks" as a contender for the most intentionally disturbing "roughie." A dwarf and his mother run a boarding house, where he lures girls with wind-up poodles to the attic, where they get addicted to heroin and become sex slaves.The mother is a former stage performer and we get to see her do a topless dance. One of the more disturbing scenes involves a cane being used for, well, you can probably guess. A couple moves into the large house and, when the wife disappears, the husband investigates, only to find out what's going on in the attic and then it becomes a typical good vs. evil fight.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sinbad of the Seven Seas (1989)

How bad is it? It's a spaghetti swords-and-sorcery film, and a bad one at that.
Should you see it? Yes.

One director of this (there were 3) also made other terrible films ("1990: The Bronx Warriors," for example) and it was the fourth Italian fantasy film for Lou Ferrigno, who adds worst Sinbad to his worst Hulk and worst Hercules titles. It has terrible narration and music and laughable effects and all the voices, including Ferrigno's, are dubbed.

The plot has Sinbad and his crew, plus a prince, fighting an evil wizard named Jaffar for a beautiful princess and he has to recover four gems in the process. There's a pit of snakes that willingly get braided into rope. There's a tub of piranhas that are obvious puppets. There's a slow motion fight with a rock monster. There's undead empty suits of armor. There's a prison of light beams (filmed both in forward and backward motion, apparently to pad the film). There are ogres, amazons, a dwarf, a viking, a clone of Sinbad and there's absolutely terrible - and very funny - dialogue, probably written by director Tim Kincaid.  My favorite moment has Ferrigno throw away a sword in order to fight. Look for female bodybuilder Teagan Clive in a small role.

Science Friction (2012)

How bad is it? It's dull and constantly underlit.
Should you see it? No.

Teenagers (without cell phones) get lost doing a drug run in Mexico (which looks like Canada). Their car and stash disappear, they get chased into a mine shaft and then things get extraterrestrial. There's horror in each character having to confront their inner demons and there's one decent childhood flashback. There's a monsterous alien that's never clearly seen - in fact, the whole film is so underlit that nothing's clearly seen - and the film fails as both horror and science fiction.

Sadomania (1981)

aka Hellhole Women

How bad is it? It's a Jess Franco WIP movie. If you don't know what that means: beware!
Should you see it? No.
It was really hard to find a photo without nudity!

This is one of the most extreme of Jesus Franco's films, with almost non-stop nudity and sadism. The plot has a woman kidnapped on her honeymoon and taken to a women's prison, where the usual (and unusual) happens and her husband goes looking for her; the film ends with a jailbreak. There are some who see social commentary in this sludge, but I don't think many would notice that when a woman gets raped by a dog. Do I really need to say more?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Spice World (1997)

How bad is it? It has no plot and the lip-synching of songs is off.
Should you see it? If you want. If you really really want.

Brainless fluff that's aimed square at their fan base, this is a plotless exercise to capitalize on the popularity of the Spice Girls. It follows the model of Lester's films of the Beatles and has quite a cast: Elvis Costello, Alan Cumming, Stephen Fry, Bob Geldon, Bob Hoskins, Elton John, Hugh Laurie, Meat Loaf, Roger Moore and George Wendt. If loud, frenetic, meaningless girl power isn't your thing, you'll hate it. Otherwise, it's not terrible.

It does go on too long. It is interesting, however, in retrospect, to see how Posh and Scary, the then least-popular members, show minor star power, which lasts to this day.

Showgirls (1995)

How bad is it? The lead actress can't act. The production values are high, though.
Should you see it? Perhaps, to see if you can find the good in it  that some have.

This film often makes lists of worst films, but it's a very expensive (Eszterhas script, Verhoeven direction) exploitation film and one's opinion of it will depend upon how one feels about exploitation films. Some have seen this as a clever satire, others as pure camp. People are even divided on Elizabeth Berkeley's dancing ability; her acting is universally panned, however. There's a lot of nudity - rather entertainingly covered in broadcast TV prints - and athletic sexual encounters.

The following year, Demi Moore was in "Striptease," which also got some decent reviews and some pans and which would seem to cover the same territory, though it has more of a Hollywood plot. Over time, that film has faded, but "Showgirls" has been gaining a cult following. Personally, I find it mediocre on all counts.

Samurai Cop (1989)

How bad is it? It's "unbelievably" bad.
Should you see it? Yes. "It's too good to believe."

The good news is that this film is a laugh riot of a terrible film. The bad news is that I'm certain that it's a fraud, an intentionally bad film passing itself off as unintentionally bad, just like "Birdemic," only done much more deftly.

Though the film is dated 1989, there's a calendar in one scene that reads "1991" and the film doesn't seem to exist anywhere before Joe Bob Briggs released it on video; trying to track down its history, one gets ever more suspicious. It's just too good - the editing manages to milk the comedic effects, which takes real professionals. It's well-shot and well-directed - accentuating the terrible script, acting and dialogue. It doesn't have a single dull stretch; an impossibility in bad films.

One actor is killed four times. A house on the beach becomes one in the suburbs. Terrible one-liners that are racist, sexist (often belittling the lead actor) and homophobic. Cheesy action scenes involving bad guys with mullets. Bad synthesizer music that doesn't fit the scene. The lead actor's hair changes to a wig that doesn't match.

Robert ("Maniac Cop") Z'Dar and Melissa ("Vampire Cop") Moore have roles, Z'Dar unconvincing as a Japanese character.

Nonetheless, it's very funny and definitely worth seeing.

Added 2/20/2015: Having seen other films by the same director, I now think that this was unintentionally bad, at least on the director's part.

Satan War (1979)

How bad is it? I think I could make this film for under $50.
Should you see it? It's just too plodding, so: no.

The title is a true over-sell. Even "Imp Tussle" would be over-sell. A couple has supernatural things going on in their house: a crucifix gets turned upside down, brown sludge boils over on the stove, green slime drips from a kitchen cabinet, etc. There's some talk. Then the woman gets attacked by an unseen force (I forget just how seriously and I'm not going to watch it again). Then a few more odd things happen and they call in a medium/psychic who tells them to leave (once you've been attacked, do you really need that advice?) They stay around and more odd stuff happens and the woman scares away the demon by wielding the crucifix. It's all interiors and two characters - very minimalist.

There's monotonous narration, a terrible synthesizer score and two tacked on scenes bookending the film, the last one showing a voodoo ceremony.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

MegaShark vs. Giant Octopus (2009)

[Day 7 of Shark Week]

How bad is it? It's astoundingly bad.
Should you see it? I'm shocked to say it, but... yes.

The film production crew known as The Asylum is best known for "Sharknado," but have been making films since the 1990's. Before they discovered that they could make anything with the word "Shark" in the title and the SyFy network would buy it, they actually tried to make entertaining films. This is the only one I like.

Two prehistoric monsters get released from suspended animation in a glacier and wreak havoc in entertaining fashion, such as the shark leaping thousands of feet into the air to take down a jet plane and snapping the Golden Gate Bridge in half. Attempts to destroy them seem only to make them angrier and, as nuclear weapons are contemplated, the idea of pitting them against each other (attracted by pheromones, because everyone just happens to have the makings for giant extinct monster pheromones).

Unlike most films by this group, two recognizable names are in the cast: Deborah "Don't Call Me Debbie" Gibson and Lorenzo Lamas. The special effects are truly laugh-inducing, though they also often caused me eyestrain - it looks as if they filmed for 3-D and have that weird overlap fuzziness such films have if you watch them without glasses. There have been two sequels (so far), "MegaShark vs. Crocosaurus" and "MegaShark vs. Mecha Shark," the latter which manages to rip-off "Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla;" neither of these are as entertaining.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Jurassic Shark (2011)

[Day 6 of Shark Week]

How bad is it? It's the worst shark movie.
Should you see it? Absolutely not. There's exactly one laugh and it's a small one.

This photo saves you watching the film. It's all there is to see.
I've lost count of how many movies have had this title ("Shark Attack 3: Megalodon" had this as a title at one point and may have been the first). I imagine the film got made this way:

I just got a great idea. Jurassic Shark!
Ha. That's amazing. I wonder if it's copyrighted. If it isn't, we should get one.
A copyright might take a week and several hundred dollars. Let's just make the movie.
Yeah! It's cheaper AND faster.

This film exists solely to illustrate exactly the hottest girls you can get for a film by merely making a film. Not one can act, of course.

The plot has an oil company drilling through ice in a lake, releasing a giant prehistoric shark. The fact that the lake's warm enough for swimming is already confusing, but a group of students show up on the island for a vacation, because deserted islands is where everyone goes. And to prove that, a group of art thieves are also on the island - because nothing's better for art than salt water and sand. The movie unspools exactly as you would expect until the very end, where the makers apparently felt if you got that far you'd watch anything, so thy make the shark fly. It's not exactly flying, but it's more of a leap than in "Free Willy."

The makers, too, can take a giant leap, for what it's worth.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast (2011)

[Day 5 of Shark Week]

How bad is it? It's about what you'd expect for $7000.
Should you see it? I wanted to like this one, but... no.

This is true grade Z film-making and it's amazing that it got made because it cost only $7000 to make and is so high concept as to require CGI effects. Three researchers seek a legendary monster in New Hampshire, only to get killed by it; then the local townspeople hunt it down. The story was originally intended to be 10 minutes, but the director decided while shooting to make it feature length and wrote the script as it was filmed (on weekends, as everyone involved had other jobs) - and it shows. The characters are stock, the story uninteresting and the effects, involving puppets, computer graphics and a little stop-motion, are obviously no-budget. The DVD includes another short the director made and it's better than the feature.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sharknado (21013)

[Day 4 of Shark Week]

How bad is it? As Tara Reid said, "It's not very good."
Should you see it? On its merits - no. As part of the zeitgeist, perhaps. But don't encourage the makers by watching the sequel being made.

The SyFy network has had dozens, if not hundreds, of terrible films as original programming and their are production companies that have been created to fill their schedule; the one with the most outlandish ideas is The Asylum. I thought they'd pretty much hit the bottom of the barrel with "Two-Headed Shark Attack" and would soon disappear. Then this film became a surprise success.

The furor started when Tara Reid was on a late night talk show and was asked what she was working on next and she said she was in a movie soon to be on television; somewhat abashed, she said, "It's not very good." This got a response, as people familiar with the low quality of films she's been in wondered what could be so bad she was embarrassed by it. When she said it was about a tornado full of sharks, people who would never show interest in such a film suddenly took notice. Almost immediately, Reid was scheduled to talk about the film wherever people would have her and a cult film was being born before it aired, much like for "Snakes on a Plane."

The night it first aired, Twitter was filled with live tweets from people saying how bad it was. Interestingly, when the ratings came out, they showed that more people tweeted about it than actually watched it. In fact, even though it's had a limited theatrical release, it's hard to find people who have actually watched it. It's become the new "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes," an intentionally bad film people who don't watch bad movies recognize as bad, with a ridiculous title and a lot of uninformed word-of-mouth publicity.

Okay - so about the movie:

A storm off the Mexico coast picks up sharks and then moves through Los Angeles, depositing huge sharks that attack anything nearby. The special effects are poor and with poor editing, cause scenes to switch from day to night and from stormy to calm, depending upon camera angle. Ian Ziering plays a surfer hero and his acting's pedestrian; Tara Reid sleepwalks through her role even more than usual. Beyond the impossible premise, the sharks don't seem dazed by being flung at a hundred miles per hour or have trouble breathing out of water. The problem is solved with helicopters and explosives. The intentional humor, such as referencing "Jaws" by saying, "We're going to need a bigger helicopter" don't work.

The one good scene you've probably already seen. It's captured by the photo on this post. A guy with a chainsaw is swallowed whole and cuts his way out.

Added 8/26/14

Sharknado 2: The Second One was   actually a much better film, mostly due to a better script. Tara Reid's severed arm by itself generated several laughs, which required good writing skills. There were a ton of cameos by native New Yorkers, few of them actors and few required to deliver much. Al Roker explaining how the storm was possible was interesting. Intentionally campy to the extreme, it pulled few punches.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (2002)

[Day 3 of Shark Week]

How bad is it? Wretched special effects and poor dialogue abound.
Should you see it? Yes - the slowly growing cult of this film is right; it's fun.
First it's this size...

...and then it's this size.

The first two Shark Attack movies gave no hint as to how bad this film would be. One actress returns from the first movie in a different role (necessarily - she was eaten in the first one) and the other roles are filled with non-actors. The idea for the film is good: there really were much larger sharks in prehistoric times, and perhaps like the coelocanth some still exist. What sinks the film, though, is that the shark keeps changing size, depending upon what it's eating - and it seems intent on eating everything in the ocean - repeatedly, the shark surfaces and whatever it's attacking is the same width as its mouth, making it between 30 and perhaps 400 feet long! The jet ski jetting straight into its maw is the worst (and therefore best) of the bad effects work.

What the film is best known for, though, is one single line of dialogue. Out of nowhere, in the middle of a tense situation, a sexual proposition is made. I actually did a spit take when I heard it, thought I must've misheard it, and watched that section again. It's worth seeing just for that line.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Jaws - The Revenge (1987)

aka Jaws 4: The Revenge

How bad is it? Preposterous plot with a TV movie feel. Nicely shot, though.
Should you see it? No; it's not quite preposterous enough.

It took four years for enough people to forget how bad "Jaws 3-D" was and someone decided to fund yet another sequel.  This one has Lorraine Gary billed first, as she's the only one to have survived the first three movies. The story has Gary and her family going to the Bahamas and the shark, now smart and motivated, follows them seeking revenge! They must've seen "Orca," which has a similar idea, and which remarkably kind of works. This film, unfortunately, doesn't have the plot or acting that saved "Orca." It does have Mario Van Peebles playing a dreadlocked Jamaican scientist, for what that's worth (namely, a chuckle) and Michael Caine plays a charter pilot that has very little to do and not much screen time.The most entertaining part of the film is when the shark raises itself up on its rear fin and roars like a lion. The shark gets impaled on the bow of a sailboat at the end.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jaws 3-D (1983)

[Day one of Shark Week]

aka Jaws 3, aka Jaws III

How bad is it? All it has going for it is 3-D, so it's pretty sorry.
Should you see it? No.
A 35 foot great white shark and its baby enter a Seaworld-like park in Florida and it starts attacking people in 3-D. Underlit, boring 3-D. There's two good effects: a floating arm and the shark explosion at the end.

Every 30 years, 3-D sounds like a good idea. The first 3-D film was made in 1922, there was a spate of them in 1953-1954, another group in the early 80's and a bunch in the past few years (2014 has been relatively 3-D free). This film appears to have been made to provide work for the producer's wife, Lorraine Gary, whose role grows with each film - and each film is worse for it - and someone must've promised Jaws 2's production designer a directorial effort, because this is the only film he ever directed; watch and you'll see why. There's no tension at all.
Lou Gossett, Jr. does a creditable job of acting, but the rest of the cast (Dennis Quaid, Barbara Eden, Simon MacCorkindale) are just fishbait. The younger cast are uninvolving and didn't have many other films to their credit.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Supersonic Man (1974)

How bad is it? It might be the worst superhero film of the 1970's.
Should you see it? No - it just doesn't have enough going for it.

A year after "Superman," this film, based on the same idea of a superhero from outer space with  special powers (in this case, speed) fighting crime, was made in Spain. The bad guy is Cameron Mitchell, who plays yet another mad doctor intent on world conquest. It's unbelievably cheap and has little originality.

Swamp Women (1956)

aka Swamp Diamonds, aka Cruel Swamp

How bad is it? It's like very bad film noir.
Should you see it? It's only for Roger Corman fans.

An undercover policewoman searches for diamonds hidden by three female prisoners in a Louisiana swamp. They end up fighting over Mike Connors. With Beverly Garland and Marie Windsor, who have their fans and have been in a ton of horror films. This is one of Roger Corman's non-horror films, but is no better nor worse than those.

Surf Nazis Must Die! (1987)

How bad is it? It's very shoddy.
Should you see it? It has its charms and it's one of those films people will ask if you've seen, so yes.
That's Dianne Copeland making the most of her screen time

This is the movie that put Troma on the map. A catchy title, a strange idea - post-apocalyptic surf movie and some marketing created a hit of sorts. A cheap, shabby, mean-spirited, heavy-handed, senseless, leaden, violent and odd hit. An earthquake levels L.A., so Mad Max-type anarchy rules and the Surf Nazis rule the beach, while fighting the Samurai Surfers. There's a lot of mediocre surf footage. Bobbie Bresee has a good minor role and the heroine is a heavy, middle-aged black woman, which is a nice change. Despite all its inadequacies, it is watchable.

Slasher in the House (1981)

aka Home Sweet Home [not the Mike Leigh-directed film]

How bad is it? It's cheap, slow, dumb and dull.
Should you see it? Maybe as a double bill with Thankskilling.

There are dozens of Christmas slasher movies, but this is one of the rare ones for Thanksgiving. A bodybuilder (Jake "Bodies by Jake" Steinfeld of infomercial notoriety) escapes from an insane asylum on Thanksgiving and finds victims at an isolated ranch. There's very poor gore, some bloodless mayhem, a hypodermic needle in a tongue and a lot of maniacal laughter.

Student Confidential (1987)

How bad is it? It's debated how intentional the laughs are.
Should you see it? It won't kill you.

This was written by, directed by, produced by, edited by and stars Richard Horian, who also composed and performed the music - a septuple non-threat! A millionaire becomes a guidance counselor for something to do and tries to guide gifted, but troubled teens (including Marlon Jackson and Eric Douglas), while his wife causes him trouble and he tries for self-improvement.  The dialogue is terrible and Horian overacts wildly. Some critics actually applauded this film, others thought it was a spoof of recent teen films and still others think it's an unintentional laugh riot. You can decide for yourself.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Star Odyssey (1979)

How bad is it? It's yet another shoddy Italian science fiction film.
Should you see it? It's not necessary.

Using props left over from "War of the Robots," this film seems to have been edited in random order, with people appearing and disappearing and the movie just ending when they ran out of footage. Earth gets auctioned off by aliens who decide to destroy it and enslave people. It's up to a professor and man-and-wife robots to save the day. There's metallic suited humanoids in blonde wigs. There's a funny scene with a human fighting an android boxer.

Steele Justice (1987)

How bad is it? It's one of the dumbest Rambo clones.
Should you see it? Yes, for two short scenes.

Martin Kove plays a Vietnam vet who becomes a cop, then an ex-cop, then gets "unleashed" on the Vietnamese mafia (and their leader just turns out to be his nemesis from the war). Soon Teck-Oh is the bad guy, Sela Ward the love interest and Bernie Casey is on board. There's two great silly scenes: 1) very early, there's a rat with a grenade strapped to its back and 2) in an extended chase, in a kitchen, to stop his bleeding and continue the fight, Kove cauterizes his wound with a hot skillet!

Starcrash (1978)

aka Stella Star

How bad is it? It's a low-budget Star Wars clone from Italy.
Should you see it? Yes, for the cast.

Emperor Christopher Plummer is under attack by Joe Spinnell and his forces, so he sends Caroline Munro, a robot and an alien (played by Marjoe Gortner) to intercede. The special effects are surprisingly good (though unbelievably cheap) and the film is awash in psychedelic garish colors, making it interesting visually, if not interesting mentally. It's like a 1930's serial in tone, with no logic at times. I like that Spinnell at one point gives a deadline of sundown - in space, not near a star.

Specters (1987)

How bad is it? It's an Italian horror film from the 80's; they're all pretty bad.
Should you see it? If you have patience for slow-moving horror.

Donald Pleasance stars in this dubbed film. He's digging in the Roman catacombs, when he unleashes a monster. All that's seen of the monster is a taloned hand and some indistinct shadowy distant shots. The film is atmospheric and has a decent look, but is leaden. Two faces get torn off and one heart gets pulled out.

Son of Blob (1972)

aka Beware! the Blob

How bad is it? It tries to be cute, but comes off as stupid and insulting.
Should you see it? It's an innocuous time-waster, so... yes, if you're interested.

Larry Hagman's only directorial effort, this sequel to "The Blob" starts with someone accidentally ingesting part of the blob and getting eaten from the inside. The creature then moves on to a party and a bowling alley. There's a lot of cameos, mostly of people getting eaten, including Hagman as a hobo. With Carol Lynley, Burgess Meredith, Godfrey Cambridge, Shelly Berman and Cindy Williams.

Star Slammer (1986)

aka Prison Ship

How bad is it? It manages to fail both as science fiction and as a women-in-prison film.
Should you see it? If you're a fan of Fred Olen Ray, it's watchable.

Fred Olen Ray directs bad films in several genres, but science fiction requires better budgets than he ever has. This is better than his "Biohazard" or "Deep Space," but it's still substandard fare. Wrongly convicted, a woman is sentenced to a prison ship, where she organizes an overthrow of the evil warden and then an overthrow of the evil ruler in charge. Has Bobbi Bresee, John Carradine and Aldo Ray. There's surprisingly little nudity and no sex, there's a dull catfight, cheap special effects, unfunny jokes and Ray's typical pacing problems.

Star Pilot (1966)

aka 2+5 Mission Hydra

How bad is it? It's a by-the-numbers sci-fi flick.
Should you see it? No, unless you love 1960's Italian futuristic fashion.

This was re-released to capitalize on the success of Star Wars. Three aliens kidnap humans for their zoo. People move through space without masks and an alien propels itself with a trampoline. The women wear very, er, exotic outfits. There's a model city seen obviously resting on a chair and stars that sway at the end of their wires.

Star Crystal (1986)

How bad is it? It somehow manages to rip off both Alien and E.T.
Should you see it? It's weird, but not quite weird enough.

This has decent sets and special effects, but the plot just jumps from one thread to another. Astronauts find a crystal on Mars and try to bring it home, but they get trapped on a shuttlecraft with an alien that comes from the rock. There's a tentacled monster and drained corpses and nothing new... until... the alien invades the ship's computer system, uploads the Bible, gets religion (!) and turns into a benevolent alien. Then the movie becomes an E.T. retread.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988)

How bad is it? It might be too good to be on this blog. It's also sometimes so stupid it hurts.
Should you see it? Yes. I really enjoyed this one.

Troma Films has a really low batting average, but occasionally they make a great movie (like "Tromeo and Juliet") and this one is my favorite. Michelle Bauer and Brinke Stevens are the main babes, who break into a bowling alley with three nerdy boys as part of an initiation. There they release an evil imp from a bowling trophy (!) who turns the women into demons - one with a beehive hairdo, one dressed in leather bondage gear and one with what looks like really bad acne. One nerd gets deep-fried, one gets ripped in half and one's head is used as a bowling ball. In other words, good clean fun is had by all. It's all very campy and cheap, but so good-natured as to be charming.

A note about titles:
"Sorority Babes" was titled to attract attention. Such films are a mixed lot. "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death" is a terrific film, despite having Shannon Tweed in it. "Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity" is too uninteresting to review. "A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell" I reviewed (negatively) earlier.

The Snow Creature (1954)

How bad is it? It's wretched.
Should you see it? I'd say no.

This yeti film is even worse than Jerry Warren's "Man Beast;" many of Warren's films are on this blog, but this is the first for W. Lee Wilder, whose films are terrible but usually not interesting enough to cover. This was the first film about an abominable snowman and remains the worst; one gets captured, gets transported to Los Angeles and, of course, escapes. The creature is just a guy in sewn-together furs, with his face left uncovered.

The Slime People (1963)

How bad is it? It's a minor monster movie, done poorly.
Should you see it? It's just barely watchable.

Prehistoric monsters covered with slime climb out of the sewer to create a dome over the city of Los Angeles, as part of a plan to lower the temperature aand support the growth of fungus. The first few minutes are the best. Tom Laughlin, who later did the "Billy Jack" series, makes an early appearance. There's one great line: in a romantic situation, you hear "When I'm with you, I don't even think about slime people."

The Sinister Urge (1960)

aka Hellborn, aka The Young and the Immoral

How bad is it? It's an Ed Wood film, which guarantees poor quality.
Should you see it? Yes; it's one of Wood's better efforts.

This was the last film Ed Wood, Jr. directed; he also appears briefly in the film in a fight scene. A man kills a woman after watching porn. The cops then need to find him and collect all copies of the film to keep it from happening again, because - at least in the world of this film - porn causes criminal activity. There's a brief nude scene (this was adults-only when released), a cop in drag and a preachy judge, which seems to be a regular feature of Ed Wood films. This includes a film-within-a-film of a Mexican in black leotards whipping women, which would be a shock if it weren't so shoddy.

Sincerely Yours (1956)

How bad is it? Liberace stars and never appeared in another film because of its poor reception.
Should you see it? If you're a fan of Lee's.

Liberace plays a pianist who slowly goes blind. There's dozens of piano performances (I think 32 of them) in 116 minutes, padding a ten minute story mercilessly. The best thing I can say about it is that he plays a straight man rather believably, which seems unlikely if all you know is his stage persona.

Shriek of the Mutilated (1974)

How bad is it? It's really bad.
Should you see it? You have to see the first 5 minutes. The rest is skippable.
Mike Findlay directed some terrible films before his early accidental death and produced (with his wife Roberta) many more. The opening sequence of this movie is fantastic - a man breaks into an apartment, attacks a woman with a knife and leaves her for dead, then goes to her bathroom to clean up in the bath, but she isn't dead and grabs the toaster and crawls the 30 feet to the bathroom (the toaster has the world's longest cord) and tosses it in to the water to electrocute him. Sadly, then the credits roll and this becomes a yeti movie. A professor leads an expedition to find a yeti (a guy in a shaggy suit), but it turns out that he's part of a cannibalistic satanic cult. The soundtrack has "Popcorn" by Hot Butter, the first all-electronic music hit and it has an Indian named Laughing Crow. It also has the best title of any film I've seen.

The She-Beast (1966)

aka La Sorella di Satana, aka Revenge of the Blood Beast

How bad is it? It has a poor script and low budget.
Should you see it? Yes - it has its interesting moments among the dullness.

21 year-old director Michael Reeves directed a few films that developed a cult following after his death at age 24. In this, queen of the 1960's horror film Barbara Steele is a tourist in Transylvania who becomes possessed by a witch. Unfortunately, she's not on screen very much. Mel Welles investigates. There's some interesting images poking fun at communism done by juxtaposition, which is surprisingly arty for trashy horror films.

Skidoo (1968)

How bad is it? It's a stunningly bad "desperately trying to be cool" film.
Should you see it? If you long for a 1960's time capsule, maybe.

Groucho Marx plays a mob boss and disrobes a young woman while reading cue cards. Jackie Gleason is a hitman who is kidnapped into prison by Cesar Romero and Frankie Avalon. Most of the movie is about taking LSD; Gleason drops acid and has phantasmagoric visions, including dancing garbage cans (easily the high point of the film). Carol Channing plays Gleason's wife. Others that show up: Frank Gorshin, Peter lawfor, Mickey Rooney, Burgess Meredith, George Raft, Slim Pickens and Richard Kiel.

Sheena (1984)

How bad is it? It's one of the worst film adaptations of a comic book.
Should you see it? No.

This had a budget of $26 million, or more than a thousand times what most films on this blog had. Tanya Roberts isn't believable as the queen of the jungle; she isn't really believable as a blonde. She plays it innocent - when she first sees a shirtless man, she says, "You have fur!" which only draws attention to her own shaving. Ted Wass and Donovan Scott play newsreel cameramen who stumble upon the heroine, who can talk to animals. Most of the film is a long chase sequence. The best parts: a helicopter is attacked by flamingos, a horse is painted to look like a zebra (you really can't ride a zebra!) and, of course, there's Tanya in a leather halter top.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

She Shoulda Said No (1949)

aka Wild Weed, aka The Devil's Weed

How bad is it? It's a late entry in the anti-marijuana film genre.
Should you see it? It's second only to "Reefer Madness" for laughs among anti-pot films.

After star Lila Leeds spent six months in prison for drug possession, producer Kroger Babb got her to join his roadshow and give anti-drug talks after showing this movie with her essentially playing herself; reportedly, her behavior on the road was less than exemplary. Lyle Talbot plays a cop, Jack Elam plays a thug, there's theremin music,there's choreographed dancing and there's a hallucinatory piano playing sequence just like there was in "Reefer Madness," which this rips off endlessly.

She Gods of Shark Reef (1958)

How bad is it? It's nothing special.
Should you see it? Only if you're a Roger Corman completist.

This is one of the non-horror films Roger Corman directed in the 1950's. Brothers find an island of pearl-diving women. One steals pearls and ends up as shark food. The other falls in love with a girl slated for ritual sacrifice. Nice Hawaiian scenery and period swimwear, but little of interest otherwise.

She-Freak (1967)

How bad is it? It's a pathetic remake of a classic.
Should you see it? It's not essential.

This is a partial remake of Tod Browning's classic "Freaks." A waitress marries the owner of a sideshow, has an affair with a carny, the husband kills the carny and goes to jail. When she takes over the show, she fires one of the workers ("Shorty," played by Felix Silla, who was Cousin Itt on "The Addams Family") and they turn her into one of them. It goes from sleazy to campy to suddenly over (as if a reel is missing). Even the freaks are second-rate. The carnival barker was played by the producer, Dave Friedman. A better film to see is the similar "Mutations" from 1972.

She Demons (1958)

How bad is it? It's woefully shoddy.
Should you see it? Yes.

Oddly proportioned Irish McCalla (reportedly 39-24-37, but doesn't really look it), soon to be TV's "Sheena," is shipwrecked with a few others on an island where a Nazi doctor tries to make his wife beautiful by mangling beautiful women (in truly jaw-droppingly awful makeup) and keeping them in cages. The ugly women dance, there's a volcanic eruption, they escape and exact punishment and the good guys get away. Most of that action is in the last minutes; most of the film is very slow-moving.

Sextette (1978)

How bad is it? Mae West pretends to be a sexy young woman at age 78.
Should you see it? No, unless the cast intrigues you.

Though she was way too old to portray her usual bawdy character in "Myra Breckenridge," (q.v.) she does it again eight years later. She finally filmed her once-notorious play "Sex." On the honeymoon of her sixth marriage, an ex wants her back and her manager tries to suppress her memoir. She fights off the advances of the likes of: George Hamilton, Timothy Dalton, Ringo Starr, Tony Curtis, Dom Deluise, Alice Cooper, Keith Moon, George Raft, Walter Pidgeon, Regis Philbin and four weightlifters.

Sex Madness (1938)

aka They Must Be Told!

How bad is it? It's one of 17 or 18  bad "educational" films Dwayne Esper filmed in a year.
Should you see it? It's not much to see, except for one scene (described below).

Dwayne Esper tackles the subject of venereal diseases with the same aplomb he did addiction and mental illness in other films (see "Maniac" and "Marihuana"). A showgirl has a fling and develops every possible symptom of syphilis. Even worse, she goes to a doctor for a cure, but he's a quack and she doesn't know she still has it. She marries, transmits the disease to her husband who goes blind, gives birth to a diseased baby that dies and suffers every possible indignity imaginable.

Watch for the scene where a prop window slams shut during a conversation. The actors are obviously startled, but no one shouts "Cut!" so they continue - and the scene wasn't re-shot! - and the viewers invariably stare at the window, waiting to see what happens (nothing ever does).