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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

El Chupacabra (2003)

aka Chupacabra

How bad is it? It might be the worst Chupacabra film not featuring Scott Shaw.
Should you see it? You can learn a lot from failed films... except this one. No.

Mutilated dogs are being found in a California suburb and an investigation by the dogcatcher leads to the idea that the legendary chupacabra of Puerto Rico (according to the film) has been transferred there. This leads to a search for the monster which gets impeded by the police thinking there's a serial killer (oh right, the monster moves from goats to dogs to people, I guess). The monster itself is not bad for a rubber suit, but nothing else in the film works at all.

Christmas Season Massacre (2001)

How bad is it? It's not even a Christmas movie.
Should you see it? No.

Twenty years after the rash of holiday slasher films I endured in college, someone decided to try it again, with extremely poor results. It's about a kid who gets bullied and ends up with one shoe (can't afford o replace the stolen one) and an eye patch (not needed; it was a gift). He kills off his tormentors and the last six just happen to get together in Christmastown, CA. In summer. The slice-and-dice action is nothing remarkable. The ending, if you make it that far, has a minor surprise, but not enough to make up for the rest.

The Christmas Martian (1971)

How bad is it? It's a very dopey kid's film.
Should you see it? Yes. It's a very charming dopey kid's film.

Every nation seems to have it's own turkey of a film for Christmas and this one's French-Canadian. A martian helps children find their way home and then they return the favor. The spaceship and in particular, the martian himself, is bottom-of-the-barrel, using whatever props must've been at hand. The martian entertains the children with magical powers (involving shutting the camera off and moving) and a ton of candy. It's loopy. Not as good as "Christmas on Mars," it's way better than "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians."