Thursday, March 31, 2016

Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold (1995)

aka Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfolds

How bad is it? It's exactly as bad as you'd expect from the title.
Should you see it? Yes, if you miss porn stars trying to go legit.

This was directed by Fred Olen Ray, produced by Roger Corman and has a cameo by Jim Wynorski. If you recognize those names, you know what you're in for. Three women vie for a centerfold spread. One decides her breasts aren't big enough, so she drinks a growth potion. They grow - in the worst balloons-in-shirt scene ever filmed - but she soon grows everywhere, becoming the title character. Then a competitor drinks the potion and there's a giantess catfight. If the original "Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman" had a feminism message and the Darry; Hannah remake was okay and "Attack of the 50 Ft. Cheerleader" was barely watchable, this one has giant boobs. The women in the cast, JJ North, Tammy Parks, Raelyn Saalman and Nikki Fritz, have done worse in worse films. The entire thing is played for giggles (there's an invisible man sequence that's notable) and there's plenty of cameos, including Forrest J. Ackerman; from the 1950's 50 Ft. Woman appear Tommy Kirk, Ross Hagen and Russ Tamblyn. Put your brain on hold, get a drink and before you know it, you've made it through another F.O. Ray bimbofest.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Americathon (1979)

How bad is it? It's a comedy that's more desperate than funny.
Should you see it? No, but it's handy for playing "Six Degrees of Separation."

In the future of 1998, the U.S. government is bankrupt, so president John Ritter stages a telethon hosted by Harvey Korman. It's essentially an overblown sketch; the jokes are obvious and the threadbare plot speeds through a series of episodic set-pieces. The director, who also made "Surf Ninjas" and "Bachelor Party," covered similar ground better in "Tunnelvision." This had a sizable budget and the cast is interesting: Fred Willard, Peter Riegert, Dorothy Stratten, Meatloaf, Cybill Shepherd, Tommy Lasorda, Jay Leno, Howard Hesseman, Allan Arbus, Peter Marshall, Zelda Rubinstein, Jake Steinfeld, the Del Rubio triplets, Willie Tyler and Lester, George Carlin as the narrator and music by Elvis Costello and the Beach Boys. It even had John Carradine as Uncle Sam, but his scene was cut.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Asylum of Satan (1972)

How bad is it? For being very low-budget, it's not as terrible as it could be, but it's not great.
Should you see it? Maybe as a double feature with "The Manitou."

William Girdler made a number of exploitation films before his death at age 30. I've reviewed his last film, "The Manitou;" this was his first. There's a doctor at an asylum killing patients... with an axe. He sacrifices a virgin to his master, only to find out - you guessed it - she wasn't a virgin after all. Then there's payback of sorts.There's also a mechanical snake, fake bugs and a pretty bad devil mask.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Ator: The Fighting Eagle (1982)

How bad is it? Imagine "Conan the Barbarian" without star power or budget.
Should you see it? Sure. It won't hurt much.
This first Ator film, though directed by Joe D'Amato, is not as bad as the three sequels, all already reviewed on this blog. A village gets slaughtered, but a baby that happens to be the son of Thor survives. He grows up to be Ator, complete with wig, eyeliner and fur shorts. On his wedding day, this second village gets slaughtered and his bride is kidnapped. He spends the rest of the film trying to rescue her, accompanied by a bimbo and a bear cub. There are amazons and witches, a magic shield, blind warriors and shadow warriors and the temple of the spider. It's a bit pokey in pacing and not quite as silly as the sequels, but it's beginning to look like all Miles O'Keeffe films will eventually make it onto this blog.

Friday, March 25, 2016

An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood, Burn! (1997)

How bad is it? It's a failed comedy of "Ishtar" dimensions.
Should you see it? Only if you work in Hollywood.

This film had a budget 1000 times that of most films on this blog and it has the technical quality of a major motion picture. Unfortunately, it's all inside-the-industry humor and it misfires. The main plot line is good: a director actually named "Alan Smithee" makes a film, he feels the studio ruined it and wants his name taken off of it, but his name is the one they put on films directors disown, so he has to physically stop the film's release. Eric Idle was a poor choice for the director role and the multitude of cameos by major stars don't really add anything. The jokes are there; the more you know about making films, the more you'll get it, but the timing isn't right and most of it falls flat. The most interesting thing about the film (to me) is that the director, Arthur Hiller, disowned the film and had his name removed, making it an actual film by Alan Smithee - this sounds like a calculated stunt, but Hiller appears to really hate this film!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Adventures of Hercules II (1985)

aka Hercules II, aka Adventures of Hercules

How bad is it? It's astoundingly cheap-looking, with minimal plot.
Should you see it? Meh. If you loved the original, you'll tolerate this.

The woman wearing a codpiece almost distracts you from the SFX.

First of all, the title of this film is problematic, as it's the sequel to the Ferrigno "Hercules," which caused it to be released as its own prequel - or sequel, depending on numbering. It's more of the same, but done worse and, more importantly, missing Sybil Danning's notable charms.

Herc has to recover seven thunderbolts that Zeus lost and which are now protected by monsters and he has to do it before the Moon crashes into the Earth (don't think too hard about it). The main fun to be had watching this is catching all the stolen ideas, from the 1933 "King Kong" to 1981's "Clash of the Titans," with "Star Wars" and Godzilla films thrown in as well. The special effects are extremely poor for the budget and the set design and costumes are often laugh-out-loud funny. Unfortunately, it's pretty dull and plodding otherwise.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Abduction of Zack Butterfield (2010)

How bad is it? It's cringe-worthy and hopelessly padded.
Should you see it? Wait 20 years. I think it'll get funnier with time.

A teenage boy is abducted by a woman; that twist and a half-way decent acting performance by the boy in question is all this film has going for it. There's a pukka shell necklace that's supposed to be C-4 that will explode if he goes past the invisible fencing or tries to take it off. There's a formal dance (she never got to go to the prom) and sex - off-screen - to the music of "Swan Lake." There's minimal sets, terrible acting by most of the minor characters (including bumbling investigators), exposition that leads nowhere, attempts at "art" shots and nowhere near enough plot for the 90 minute run time. Apparently PTSD, bipolar disorder and an alcoholic father leads to women kidnapping for sex slavery... who knew?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Amazon Jail (1982)

How bad is it? It's one of the worst women-in-prison films, which set a low bar.
Should you see it? No. It's only for the most rabid WIP fan.

I think I saw this originally because it stars Elizabeth Hartmann, but it turns out NOT to be the actress from "A Patch of Blue" (one of my favorite films), but some obscure Brazilian with the same name. It was directed by a guy who made a lot of exploitation films, few of which are available in the U.S., his "Bare Behind Bars" being much better than this.

If you're expecting an actual prison, this is of the subset of women in bamboo cage films (much easier to make) and which range from the great "The Big Bird Cage" to the ridiculous "She-Demons." There's little of the shower scene and sadistic guard routine, as the girls escape fairly early. They then run across a drug-dealing gang and then some devil-worshippers as well, causing them to flee three different groups at once.

The film has non-stop nudity. It's almost fun to watch to see how it's managed, as it seems improbable that no one ever wears clothes - even finding a still I could use here was challenging. There's also endless lesbian scenes, with no supposed lesbians. So it has what men who watch these things look for, unimpeded by storyline or character.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Alone in the T-Shirt Zone (1986)

How bad is it? It's more weird than bad, but it's not great.
Should you see it? Sure (but it's hard to find).

Mike Anderson made this film before he started directing episodes of "The Simpsons" and obviously after seeing "Eraserhead," which gets referenced a couple of different ways. A guy lies comatose in a hospital after going insane while designing t-shirts. Though not particularly interesting, he's apparently irresistible to women and even his female doctor rapes him in his coma. There's flashbacks to how he got to where he is, most of which are somewhat surreal scenes involving t-shirts: people's emotional states and personalities are reflected in their shirt designs, some of which are amusing. The plot meanders and relies on unlikely coincidences - he goes to a party with a guy who turns out to be his girlfriend's father, for example. A memorable example of the weirdness is a surgery where t-shirts are pulled from a man's chest that have pictures of his organs on them. Anderson directed one other film, which I haven't seen, but this one shows him to be competent if unoriginal, even when making a film of pure weirdness.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Atlas Shrugged, Part 3: Who Is John Galt? (2014)

How bad is it? So far, it's my least favorite film from 2014.
Should you see it? No.

"Atlas Shrugged" is one of the very few novels I was never able to finish; Ayn Rand's writing is horrible and the proselytizing to a bankrupt ideology irritated me. So I wasn't expecting to like this film, but I was interested to see how the story ends. I still wonder, as this film strays pretty far from the original source material. Also, I fell asleep [just being honest].

In the indeterminate near future, there is no electricity because the nuclear power plants and coal-fired plants were closed due to government bureaucracy. Everyone rides trains, as there are no cars or airplanes - for reasons never adequately explained. Some of the world's best people start disappearing and it turns out that they're being kidnapped; how these people are chosen is unclear but it seems to be like choosing the cast of "Dancing With the Stars."

The budget obviously ran out of money before filming ended. Any action scenes were cut. The sound drops out repeatedly. Even with that, the film is miscast, the acting spotty (there's a torture scene that's bad enough to be funny) and there are plot points that seem ludicrous - the titular question is solved by looking in the business directory, the 1950's version of Googling Galt's name. My favorite part was a doctor explaining that he doesn't mind having been forcibly relocated because now he can treat patients rather than do what the government requires; it appears that doctors have magical wands that instantly cure, but can't use them because of government interference!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Adrenalin: Fear the Rush (1996)

How bad is it? For a plotless action film, it's a bit static.
Should you see it? Not really.

This Albert Pyun film shows that the director had not improved since "Alien from L.A." There are two versions with different run times available; one has an excruciatingly long opening explaining the plot and the other has a ridiculously long opening explaining the plot. Take your pick. Or just fast-forward, as here's the plot: a virus has escaped from the Russian military that turns people into zombie-like killing machines and becomes infectious after two hours; there's a guy in Boston who has it and he has to be stopped. There - saved you 20 minutes or so.

The film stars Christopher Lambert, who I keep thinking has to be better than his Highlander films suggest, and Natasha Henstridge, who was great in "Species" (when she had almost no lines - that is, dialogue - though it's true of wrinkles as well) and has never achieved that success again. Henstridge has a child that's conveniently forgotten until the very end of the film, when there's an attempt at character development... after two hours of completely ignoring character.

The entire film appears to have been shot in one location, the exteriors being the same, regardless of where it's supposed to be, but most of the film is in a darkened interior, chasing down the bad guy. The climactic showdown is one cliche after another and uninvolving as well. The only good thing I can say is that there wasn't a clock ticking to 1:59:59 when they succeed (I really expected one).

Friday, March 18, 2016

Alien from L.A. (1985)

How bad is it? It's dull and silly, with a memorably bad acting performance.
Should you see it? The MST3K version, maybe.

I decided to watch a bunch of Albert Pyun's films and forgot that I'd seen this one already.

The first third of this film has Kathy Ireland complaining that guys don't pay attention to her, and I think it's supposed to be a joke, as she was a swimsuit model, but it doesn't play off that way. First of all, I always thought she sort of looked like Ted Kennedy in a wig. The fact that she does the whole film in a high baby doll voice (not too terribly different from her real voice) makes her annoying; that voice also appears to be the extent of her acting ability. Add an uninteresting personality to that and I can see her being ignored.

This is supposed to be an action film, but the action doesn't start for a long time and that lead-in time isn't well used to develop the main character. Once it starts, it keeps rolling in an episodic way, but by then the viewer's just waiting for it to end.

Ireland's character's father is supposed to have died and then she gets re-united with him, but the emotional content is missing from that. Also, the title has nothing to do with the film, as there is no alien, just some ancient civilization mumbo jumbo. There's not much else to recommend, but it (amazingly) turns out to be one of Pyun's better films.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Alice in Wonderland (1976)

How bad is it? It's hampered by a low budget and is very dated.
Should you see it? I say yes, but I have a high tolerance for this kind of stuff.

In 1951, Lou Bunin released a version of Alice in Wonderland that's excellent, but has been largely ignored because Disney released their version the same year. In a much more minor way, this film has been overshadowed by the porn version that came out the same year (1976), which is surprisingly good for 1970's porn. This film has been called the worst film to ever come out of Argentina, but I think it's a matter of taste; those like myself who can remember the 70's probably won't dislike it as much as younger viewers.

The plot follows the book fairly closely. The white rabbit is a guy with bunny ears and face painted white and looks like a mime; his costume is actually one of the better ones. There's a guy who wears skin-tight animal print pants and a lavender faux fur vest - try to guess which character that is. The Cheshire cat's smile is painted on a partial mask, Humpty Dumpty's costume looks like a child's Halloween costume, the Doormouse's head is papier mache and the playing cards have costumes that look like they're falling apart during their scenes. Mostly what one recalls is the large amount of interpretive dance, which is actually quite good.

It's hippies dancing to 1970's music. That'll decide what you think of it. "Alice in Wonderland" always has a psychedelic feel to it and this version makes the most of it.