Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Friday the 13th: The Orphan (1979)

aka The Orphan

How bad is it? It's slow and uneventful, but not terrible.
Should you see it? Yes, because it's interesting.

Filmed before the slasher series it shares a title with, this gets poor reviews by those hoping for a gorefest (there's two murders, neither gory). It was filmed over a decade, 30 minutes got cut and only a poor quality print is available. It's a strange, dream-like, arty psychological horror, where the tone shifts too often, the plot veers wildly and the acting is not expert. An explorer's son is orphaned in an accident and his aunt tries to re-mold the boy, chasing away his only friend and killing his pets. He hears the maid having sex, goes crazy and starts a rampage of revenge on the aunt.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Freddy Got Fingered (2001)

How bad is it? Incredibly crude, it's not particularly funny.
Should you see it? No. If you're a Tom Green fan, you've seen it (and why are you a Tom Green fan).

This is the most polarizing of films. More than 99% of people will hate this and the others will think it's trailblazing frontiers of comedy. There's a sort of punk/cartoon/John Waters-ish bad taste ethos, but it just doesn't work. Crude, aggressive and dim at turns, this should make for a decent vehicle for physical humor; that it doesn't is the fault of Tom Green, both as actor and director. The plot has Green as a guy living with his parents who wants to be a cartoonist, but spends his time aggravating his family. Anthony Michael Hall, Drew Barrymore, Harland Williams, Julie Hagerty, and Rip Torn are wasted. Marian Coughlan, as a wheelchair-bound nymphomaniac/amateur rocket scientist, comes off well. "Top" moments are Green masturbating farm animals, swinging a newborn by the umbilicus and wearing roadkill. Proceed at your own risk.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Freakshow (1995)

How bad is it? Instantly forgettable horror anthology.
Should you see it? No.

I think this was a sort-of sequel to "Campfire Tales," another anthology also starring Gunnar Hansen. It's not to be confused with similar films released in 1988, 1989 and 2007, but it's hard to remember what sets it apart. There's a story about a mummy, one about werewolves, a mutant baby one and a carnival freak body-switching story. The wraparound story is slightly better (better acting), but has the worst make-up special effect in the "surprise" ending.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Foxfire Light (1982)

How bad is it? It barely holds together and is predictable.
Should you see it? No.

I'm in the cult that loved "Blast of Silence" and 21 years later, that film's director made his second feature, which I just had to see. It's... disappointing. A girl graduates from college and her mother (Tippi Hedren) wants her to stay in Beverly Hills, but she meets Leslie Nielsen at a high-class party and she ends up following him to his ranch in the Ozarks (Branson, MO. With hillbillies and mules), where she falls in love with a local (Barry VanDyke). It then becomes a Romeo and Juliet thing with southern charm heaped on it. The characters are one-dimensional and the plot is thin and predictable.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Forbidden Zone: Alien Abduction (1996)

aka Alien Abduction: Intimate Secrets

How bad is it? Soft-core porn with little nudity or sex. Dull, but competent.
Should you see it? No.

This film seems to be watched only by accident or by the misinformed. A group of women in a Romanian steam room start talking about their sexual fantasies, which seem to intersect. The explanation turns out to be a kidnapping by an alien who wants to bring their fantasies to fruition; since two of the women want each other and a third wants an alien, that works out easily enough.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Food of the Gods, Part II (1989)

aka Gnaw

How bad is it? It's a late sequel to a film known for its terribleness.
Should you see it? Sure. It isn't top-shelf, but it has its moments.

More than a decade after Bert Gordon defiled H.G. Wells' story with his movie, someone else decided to cash in on that (?) and make a sequel. The cheesiness is 1980's, rather than 1970's and that's essentially the difference; some people love this film, others hate it and I'm ambivalent. The plot has an experimental growth drug used on tomatoes, which are eaten by rats, which then grow large and vicious. It's slow until an over-the-top gross-out 20 minutes at the end.

There's an eight foot tall toddler that screams obscenities and becomes homicidal. The kills are telegraphed and occasionally meant to be funny (e.g. the guy who stops to pee twice, the playing of "Three Blind Mice"), but there's a lot of unintentional humor. Boom mics and crew members are seen. There's an exterminator with a flame thrower. There's a synchronized swim team massacre, followed by machine-gunning of rodents (and a few people). The special effects are often shoddy. One actor is nearly bald in one scene and has a wig in another.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Firehouse (1987)

How bad is it? It just might be the worst 1980's sex comedy.
Should you see it? Only if you want to play "spot Julia Roberts."

Released straight to video, this was intended to be a firefighter version of Police Academy, but is known now solely as a film in which Julia Roberts has a cameo. Three hot women stereotypes join the crew of the worst firefighting crew of stereotypes, which is set to be shut down. An industrialist wants to redevelop part of the city after it burns. Lots of boobs, not many intended laughs land, but this has a small following - it is NOT destined to be a cult film, however.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fire, Ice & Dynamite (1990)

How bad is it? It's not great. Sort of a winter "Cannonball Run."
Should you see it? If you like stunts and not plot, yes.

Roger Moore supposedly dies in a skydiving accident (later to reappear badly disguised at his own Scot butler) and his will requires his legatees and creditors to compete in a series of stunts involving fire, ice and dynamite (but mostly ice, as the director is a skiing stuntman); don't bother to ask why. Moore's real-life son is in it, as is Shari Belafonte (as an assistant) and Marjoe Gortner (as an emcee) and cameos by Buzz Aldrin and Isaac Hayes - in case you're playing "Six Degrees of Seaparation." The film is constant product placement, lame jokes, some really good stunts and an interesting soundtrack. If you put your brain on hold, it's not a bad experience.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Final Voyage (1999)

How bad is it? Complete rip-off of better films, with no budget.
Should you see it? No.

This had "crap" written all over it, being directed by Jim Wynorski and with Erika Eleniak and Ice-T as stars and... it is crap. Stealing from every film done on a ship, the only enjoyment is trying to trace the origins: Titanic, Under Siege, Speed 2, Juggernaut, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure and Last Voyage. Watch any of those others. Dylan Walsh, Claudia Christian (and I think Barbara Eden - I'm not going to bother to look it up) are in it as well. The plot has pirates - always referred to as terrorists - attempting to hijack and rob the restored twin of the Titanic, the Brittanic. There's no character development, no plot twists, no clever dialogue and it's obvious that much was not filmed on a ship (concrete walls?!) so no reason to dredge this up.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Final Alliance (1990)

aka Tiger Man

How bad is it? Completely by-the-numbers and three over-actors. Not terrible.
Should you see it? Sure.

South Africa seems to substitute for the American west in this film where a man fights a motorcycle gang and a corrupt sheriff in a small town. What makes it interesting is the cast: David Hasselhoff stars, Bo Hopkins shouts all his lines as the sheriff and the leader of the bike gang is John Saxon. Now... add the fact that Saxon plays an ALBINO. Now add that Hasselhoff has a pet mountain lion!  The cinematography is quite good, for once. A kitten gets shot (off-screen). There's a motorcycle over face shot. Though it's run-of-the-mill, it still makes for a good watch.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Field of Fire (1992)

aka Battle Gear

How bad is it? Typical Rambo-esque dreck.
Should you see it? No.

Maybe I should've mentioned Cirio Santiago's name in all the reviews of his films I've reviewed, because there's a lot of them. This one has David Carradine headlining, though he's barely in it, doing most of his lines from a chair. Once again, the Philippines substitutes for Vietnam in yet another war picture, where a helicopter crashes and a rescue attempt is launched. The team going in has a traitor and they lose communication. Lots of stuff "blows up real good," as they say on the Farm Film Report.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fearless Tiger (1991)

How bad is it? Bad enough that some think it must be intentionally bad.
Should you see it? Yes.

I admit I'm no expert on martial arts films, but a few people pointed out this film as one of the more entertaining terrible ones. A potent drug causes a guy's overdose, so the guy's brother goes to Hong Kong to learn kung fu (neglecting both the family business and his fiancee). Bolo Yeung gets top billing on the box, but he's only in about 3 minutes. Jamie Farr (!) has more screen time, with his old Lebanese accent (for comparison, check him out as Jaleel Farrar in "Arnold" in the 1960's) getting thicker at times. The main character's so short that he looks silly next to his girlfriend. There's a training montage that looks like a dance party. There's a death by toilet seat. There's a cartoon fart (I won't explain). The highlight is a fight in the back of a moving garbage truck. The dialogue is incredibly bad, the one actress is a non-actress and there's some very silly fights and weird-looking characters.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Fantasies (1981)

How bad is it? Nice scenery, no story. Shelved for 8 years.
Should you see it? Not really. Only if you're a big Bo Derek fan.

Filmed in 1973 and shelved (unreleasable, really), John Derek added a nude scene of Bo Derek in 1981 and released this to capitalize on Bo's success in "10." Bo was a teenager in 1973 and John was married to Linda Evans; he married Bo in 1976. In this Bo tries to turn a resort in greece into a tourist haven, while having Walter Mitty-ish fantasies, which mostly involve large bathtubs.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Expose' (1997)

How bad is it? Typical erotic thriller of the era.
Should you see it? No.

Very few have seen this film. A senator's daughter and her friends blackmail politicians with sex tapes and then a lobbyist businessman wants a cut and things start to unravel. There's surprisingly good camera work and the requisite nudity, but there's not much of a plot or characterization and the gun play at the end isn't interesting.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Extreme Honor (2001)

aka Last Line of Defence 2

How bad is it? It's a dull melodrama packaged as action.
Should you see it? No.

A Navy Seal forced out of the service by something his partner did has a son with cancer and there's an experimental treatment that costs $5,000,000 so, of course, he gathers a group of guys to rob a billionaire. Then the team gets killed off one by one. Remember that old partner - there's some payback. Though the packaging of this film names Michael Ironside, Michael Madsen and Olivier Gruner, this stars no-name Dan "you won't remember me" Andersen. Edward Albert (Jr.), Martin Kove and Antonio Fargas make appearances, but no one redeems the dullness. The final shoot-out is about 1930's quality, but not so bad it's laughable.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Electrocuting an Elephant (1903)

How bad is it? It's an important historical document.
Should you see it? Yes, because it's good.

This 3 minute Thomas Edison studios film has cropped up on some worst film lists, because it does indeed electrocute an elephant in real life. Topsy was dying of cancer and Edison wanted to show how electricity could be used for humane euthanasia. The results depend upon the viewer. There have been far more questionable films from that era, such as "In the Tombs" and "Invitation to a Hanging."

Friday, August 12, 2016

Earth vs. the Spider (1958)

aka The Spider

How bad is it? I think it's pretty decent for a 1950's monster flick.
Should you see it? Yes, but not because it's laughably bad.

One of Bert I. Gordon's better efforts, this has a great opening scene before it becomes pedestrian and teenagers explore a cave, find the giant spider, can't get authorities to believe them at first, etc. The spider is rather quickly dispatched with DDT, then taken to the local high school gym for storage. The spider turns out to be much harder to kill than at first thought. The spider does change size at times and the characters aren't developed, but this is a fairly straightforward exercise. The tacked-on rock and roll number isn't terrible, either.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Eulogy for a Vampire (2009)

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

I like gay vampire porn as much as the next guy (well, probably more, unless the next guy has seen some), but this fails badly. It's about monks who spend most of their time having sex with each other and whipping each other - the two are not exclusive - and then there's a vampire thread to the story that could be removed with virtually no change to the plot. It's slow. It's pointless. Some of the camera work is okay, some looks like a student trying to be arty. The acting is underwhelming. The dialogue has some amusing clinkers, but not enough to merit watching this.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)

How bad is it? It completely ruins the original film (which I found over-rated).
Should you see it? No. I hate this film.

I know the feeling. I've seen this twice.

Four years after the first incident, Ragan is under the care of psychiatrist Louise Fletcher. Another priest, played by Richard Burton in his worst role, investigates the death of exorcist Max Von Sydow. How this leads to montages of Ethiopia, the music of Ennio Morricone and stopping a locust plague of Washington D.C. by a dance has never made sense to me. There are people who consider this turd funny, probably for the overacting, but it's deadly slow and my main memory of it is tinted footage of locusts.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Evil Spawn (1987)

aka Metamorphosis, aka Alien Within, aka Alive by Night, aka Deadly Sting

How bad is it? I didn't think it was too bad. Others disagree.
Should you see it? Yeah. It's fun in its own way.

This is another F. O. Ray production, which starts with an alien microbes story, and then discards that after 20 minutes to become a remake of "The Wasp Woman." Bobbie Bressee does her overacting best as an aging actress hoping to get a starring role with youth injections that turn her into a bug monster. John Carradine does his usual cameo as a mad scientist. There's plenty of in-jokes, a ton of gratuitous nudity, some bizarre dialogue and some bad taste cheap laughs.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Evil Clutch (1988)

aka Il Bosco 1, aka The Woods, aka Horror Queen, aka Notte nel Bosco, aka Night in the Woods

How bad is it? A couple of good moments in a pointless exercise.
Should you see it? No.

This Italian rip-off of "The Evil Dead" (complete with tree with roots that can grab) was picked up by Troma for release. It starts with a castration by a claw coming out of a vagina and then goes downhill. It's campers versus monsters - a sort-of witch, a sort-of puking zombie, an evil bucketful of ooze. There's a guy with an electronic voicebox, a chainsaw killing, an exploding head, and a clock running backwards while spitting blood. It doesn't make much sense, there's no plot, no suspense and it's often so underlit that you can't see what's happening. There is a good tracking shot through the woods (a la Sam Raimi) and a surprisingly decent score. It's like someone had elements for a film and threw them together.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Eternity (1990)

How bad is it? It's weird, preachy and very low budget.
Should you see it? Tough call... a marginal yes.

Stephen Paul, of "Never Too Young to Die" fame, directed this. Though there seems to have been no budget, this stars Jon Voight, Armand Assante and Wilford Brimley and also has Frankie Valli and Kaye Ballard in small roles. It starts off as a story about a medieval ruling family and a gypsy girl, but that turns out to be the dream of a TV talk show host. Real life seems to be mirroring the dream, so Voight decides to use the dream for guidance. Then things get weird. There's a string quartet at a trial, some Billy Jack-like moments dealing with Native Americans, seduction during a slide show, a military boot camp for delinquent girls, love curing comas and, in the end, straight out of "It's a Wonderful Life," everyone chips in cash to save the day and then they recall their past lives IN COSTUME. The film's very preachy about some odd beliefs, the castle is just a matte painting and the film meanders for two hours. Watch at your own risk.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Eliminators (1986)

How bad is it? Very cheap and derivative, it's not terrible.
Should you see it? If it shows up on TV, as it frequently does. Not worth a rental.

I think this is one of the best of Charles Band's 1980's productions, which admittedly isn't high praise. An android, a scientist (Denise Crosby), a soldier-of fortune adventurer and a martial artist (the obviously stage named Conan Lee) fight a mad doctor and his army, intent on taking over the world. It's very much a "Romancing the Stone" rip-off, with a heavy dose of Indiana Jones, but there's some good action between the slow bits, some humor that actually works and decent acting by Andrew Prine.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Divine Enforcer (1992)

How bad is it? It's very cheap. The name stars didn't bother to learn their lines.
Should you see it? Yes. This is so odd it bears watching.

Thanks to my Twitter friends for pointing this out to me - and just in the nick of time, as I end the letter "D" on my 4th alphabetic tour! The cast of this films is B-movie royalty: Jan-Michael Vincent, Erik Esrada, Jim Brown, Don Stroud, Robert Z'Dar, Scott Shaw and Judy Landers. It's about a martial arts priest who takes on the local drug dealers and rapists. Then it becomes a film about a crazed serial killer who keeps women's skull as trophies... to eat cereal out of! Of course, good defeats evil, but not before a girl who has visions gets kidnapped, a car gets set on fire for no reason, Vincent reads his lines off a script glued to a newspaper and a musical number in a strip club. It ends with a rap number of the close credits, for extra credit. It's shoddy, but worthwhile for the completely nutso over-the-top performance by Stroud as the killer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Dinosaur Valley Girls (1996)

How bad is it? It's Wild Women of Wongo and Dinosaur Island with an even smaller budget.
Should you see it? If you're a fan of cavewomen movies.

I've tried tracking down some of Don Glut's early films, like "Dragstrip Dracula" (1962) - short of actually contacting him and asking for a copy - but his later films probably aren't much different from his teenage endeavors. In this, a magic amulet transports a man back in time to just before women learned how to securely fasten their fur bras. Bras fall off A LOT in this film. There's stop-motion dinosaurs, poor green-screen effects, lame music [Glut sings two songs], the presence of Karen Black and William Marshall and a lot of silicone and heavy make-up. Mostly, though, there's unfunny slapstick jokes that Glut tried to punch up with sound effects.

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Literal A-List

Blogging about bad films, I get asked what I think is a good film quite often. Here's what I think are the 100 best films starting with the letter "A." One can argue some of the choices (there are a couple I don't particularly like, but others do, such as "Aladdin") and even my alphabetizing (foreign articles especially), but the list looks to be fairly comprehensive. By accident, there are no silent films, horror or westerns and there are more documentaries and television movies than I would have predicted. I expect the casual film watcher will have seen 25 of these, film fanatics about 50 and not even professional reviewers are likely to have seen more than 75; I have seen all of them, many in the past two weeks while making the list. Some film titles can be confusing: "Alice" is the Jan Svankmajer film, not the Woody Allen film, for example.

Abe Lincoln in Illinois 1940
About Schmidt 2002
Absolutely Positive 1991
Accattone 1961
An Act of Murder 1948
An Actor's Revenge 1963
Adam's Rib 1949
Adaptation 2002
The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 1939
The Adversary 2002
Affliction 1997
The African Queen 1951
After the Thin Man 1936
Afterburn: The Limits of Thermal Travelling 1995
The Agronomist 2003
Aguirre, the Wrath of God 1972
Ah, Wilderness! 1935
Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer 1992
Ajami 2009
Akira Kurosawa's Dreams 1990
Aladdin 1992
Alexander Nevsky 1938
Alfie 1966
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul 1974
Alice 1988
Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More 1974
Alien 1979
Aliens 1986
All About Eve 1950
All About My Mother 1999
All Quiet on the Western Front 1930
All the King's Men 1949
All the President's Men 1976
All the Real Girls 2003
All Things Fair 1995
Allonsafan 1974
Almanac of Fall 1984
Almost Famous 2000
Along the Ridge 2006
Always Outnumbered 1998
Amadeus 1984
Amarcord 1973
Amelie 2001
American Beauty 1999
The American Friend 1977
American Graffiti 1973
American History X 1998
An American in Paris 1951
American Me 1992
American Movie 1999
American Splendor 2003
Amores Perros 2000
Anastasia 1956
Anatomy of a Murder 1959
And a Nightingale Sang 1984
And the Band Played On 1993
And Then There Were None 1945
The Andersonville Trial 1970
Andrei Rublev 1966
An Angel at My Table 1990
Angels with Dirty Faces 1938
Angi Vera 1979
Angry Harvest 1985
Anna and the King of Siam 1946
Anne Frank Remembered 1995
Anne of Green Gables 1985
Annie Hall 1977
Another Year 2010
Aparajito 1956
The Apartment 1960
Apocalypse Now 1979
Apocalypto 2006
Apollo 13 1995
Apur Sansar 1959
Argo 2012
Arsenic and Old Lace 1944
Arthur Christmas 2011
The Artist 2011
As Good As It Gets 1997
The Ascent 1977
Ashes and Diamonds 1958
The Asphalt Jungle 1950
The Asthenic Syndrome 1990
Atlantic City 1980
Atonement 2007
Attack! 1956
Au Hasard Balthasar 1966
Au Revoir, Les Enfants 1957
Auntie Mame 1958
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman 1977
An Autumn Afternoon 1962
Autumn Sonata 1978
Autumn Tale 1998
Avalon 1990
The Avengers 2012
The Aviator 2004
The Aviator's Wife 1981
Awakenings 1990
Ay, Carmela! 1990