Monday, October 31, 2016

Istanbul (1989)

How bad is it? Confusing and dull "thriller."
Should you see it? No.

Timothy Bottoms stars in this supposed thriller, with appearances by Twiggy and Robert Morley (in his last role, looking ill). Most of the cast are dubbed. Bottoms, an American journalist in Sweden, has a medical emergency, which seems to be dropped inexplicably from the plot. There's a videotape from the father of Bottoms' stepson, which drives Bottoms to go to Istanbul with his daughter rather than his son and then she gets kidnapped. Twiggy seems to know something about the abduction and about assassination schemes and arms dealing... and then my eyes glazed over. There's occasional shots of mosques to show they're still in Istanbul, Bottoms seems to be improvising his lines, things just get more and more jumbled and it ends. There's also a bad theme song.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Island Claws (1980)

aka Night of the Claws

How bad is it? No great shakes, but not terrible.
Should you see it? Maybe as part of a giant animals attack movie marathon.

I'm not sure why this film has such poor ratings, except that it is dull. Crabs are by nature slow-moving, but this movie is slow-moving enough on its own. There's a brief environmental theme that gets dropped quickly and a racist subplot involving Haitians and a dead dog. Robert Lansing, who seems to be in a lot of giant animal attack movies, stars; the people behind "Mr. No Legs" were involved in this and a pretty good mechanical monster was made - so it has some things going for it. The giant crab isn't seen much and when it appears, it roars, which is more silly than scary.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

I Spit On Your Corpse (1974)

aka Girls for Rent, aka Fatal Pursuit

How bad is it? It's one of Al Adamson's better films, so not good at all.
Should you see it? Don't go out of your way, but sure, see it if it's available.

Not to be confused with the better "I Spit On Your Grave" or the worse "I spit On Your Corpse, I Piss On Your Grave," this usually gets seen by people who mistakenly think it's a horror film. It starts with a breakout from a women's prison in Mexico, then the murder of a politician and then an hour-long chase trying to eliminate a witness. Porn star Georgina Spelvin stars and many of Adamson's regulars, including his wife, make up much of the cast. There's more character development and tension than in most Adamson films (i.e. there's some), there's some topless fighting and there's one truly horrific scene where a mentally challenged man is shot in the head during sex. It's very sleazy, the chases involve Pintos and dune buggies and there's plenty of bad dialogue to go around.

Friday, October 28, 2016

I Eat Your Skin (1964/1971)

aka Zombie Bloodbath, aka Voodoo Blood Bath, aka Zombie Blood Bath, aka Zombies, aka Zombie

How bad is it? It's not Del Tenney's worst film, but that's saying it's terrible enough.

Should you see it? Maybe on a slow night.

This sat on a shelf for years before being released under a new title as a companion to "I Drink Your Blood." It looks like it was originally intended as a humorous James Bond-ish adventure, but got changed during the making. A cancer researcher on a Caribbean island uses radioactive snake venom, which turns people into zombies that look like they have oatmeal on their faces. There's an adventurer that arrives in a funny plane crash (our "hero" just can't let the pilot do his job) and there's girls in bikinis being sacrificed by the natives. There's a lively, if inappropriate, big band musical score. The dialogue and acting are quite bad and there are some unintentionally funny moments, but not quite enough for the run time.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Hyenas (2011)

How bad is it? The second-worst film about were-jackals. It'd be hard to top #1.
Should you see it? Not really.

I saw this by accident, looking for the Senegalese film by the same name that's based upon the Dürrenmatt play "The Visit." This is about as far from that as one can get! Meshach Taylor and Costas Mandylor are the names in this film where a family, seeming attacked by hyenas, turns out to be the victims of people (mostly women) who shape shift into animals. It's entertaining that the women have to get naked to transform, but the special effects (poor CGI) really detract from the film. It's completely predictable, from the cops who won't believe without evidence to the hunt of the monsters to the final showdown between two "hyenas" - which is a real let-down. There's a stupid rednecks vs latino gang sub-plot tacked on, which adds nothing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How to Make a Doll (1968)

How bad is it? A nudie comedy with no nudity or comedy.
Should you see it? NO.

This is my least favorite H.G. Lewis film, and yes, I'm including "Monster A-Go Go." A virginal professor is pestered by his mother until he discovers a scientist that has created a machine that can create beautiful willing women. This is no "Weird Science," nor even "Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine" but a cheap, badly acted, unfunny, minimally plotted grindhouse film - as in: this was ground out in a couple of weeks to be shown for a couple of weeks, duping audiences briefly. There is, amazingly, NO nudity, just girls in bathing suits. There's a hunchback, which is always a nice touch. There's the machine, which belches and squeaks for minutes at a time, dragging the run time past the 20 minute plot to 80 minutes. And there's the weird turn of: I'm getting tired of these dolls, so I'll just watch you use them. This has nothing to recommend it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hollywood High (1976)

How bad is it? Plotless teen sex romp.
Should you see it? No.

Four interchangeable women meander through vignettes that display their bodies. There's no real plot, except for wanting to use a faded movie star's mansion because it has enough bedrooms for them all. There's an unsteady camera, a Fonzie-like character named "Fenzie," a Mae West-like charcater named "June East," a stereotyped gay man and a little person. There's a food fight, which might be the highlight. Amazingly, there was a sequel; no one returned, either in front or behind the camera and it's just as bad.

Monday, October 24, 2016

High Kicks (1993)

How bad is it? It's like porn without nudity.
Should you see it? Yes. This is developing a cult following.

An aerobics studio owner is raped by the most diverse gang possible. Then a karate afficionado with a mullet helps her get revenge, fall in love and develop an exercise program combining karate and aerobics - karobics. There's huge plot holes; for example, you never know how they find any of the bad guys. The actors can't act, though some have some martial arts skills. There's extended aerobics sequences focusing on butts and boobs, but there's no music and there's no nudity. There's a strange homoeroticism that pervades the film as well. It's terrible, but I couldn't stop watching it.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Help Me... I'm Possessed (1976)

aka The Possessed, aka Nightmare at Blood Castle

How bad is it? Over-the-top, fairly well-filmed, but utter trash.
Should you see it? Yeah, this one's okay, if not special.

A mental hospital in the middle of a desert (which looks like a miniature golf course) is run by a mad doctor who experiments on (i.e. tortures) patients. Those that die get dismembered by a hunchback assistant to fit in coffins; one girl gets put live in a coffin along with snakes. One experiment led to a monster in the basement which looks like red licorice whips or maybe a bloody mop blown by a fan. The usual parade of unsuspecting innocents get brutalized. It's all very tacky and has some wondrously saturated color, but it also is reminiscent of Al Adamson's "Blood of Dracula's Castle," which is not a good thing.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Haunted (1977)

aka The Glass Cage

How bad is it? Bizarre, slow and not the horror film it's advertised as.
Should you see it? No - unless a drunk shirtless elderly Aldo Ray is your thing.

This film starts with a Native American woman forced to ride a horse - topless - through the desert until she dies, because of witchcraft. One minute in and there's nine things that don't make sense, including the phone booth being installed in a cemetery, but that's 100 years after the beginning and now the reincarnated "witch" has returned and she's British and doesn't act like she's possessed. Got that? There's a decent theme song by Billy Vera, but there's also scenes missing and surreal moments like microphones on the roof. Plot points are picked up and thrown away randomly (what about the gold?) and Virginia Mayo and Aldo Ray do not class up the film; in fact, Ray appears to be drunk in part of the film. There's some nice scenery, but there's also lighting issues. It's just such a mess! Anyone expecting this to be a horror film will be disappointed that there's only one scene with blood and that's accidental.

Friday, October 21, 2016

How to Undress In Front of Your Husband (1937)

How bad is it? Dated, slightly offensive and completely unneeded.
Should you see it? Sure. It's availability comes and goes. See the 13 minute version.

Dwain Esper directed some classic trash films, four of which I've already reviewed (one accidentally twice). Upon the Hays Code that tried to tame Hollywood, Esper started making "educational" films, which allowed him to break from the code. This film has very brief nudity - censored in some prints, which is why it exists. It starts with a rambling written intro and is bookended with footage of a Peeping Tom. John Barrymore's last wife, Elaine Barrie, is shown as the alluring example of the "correct" way to alluringly disrobe and comedian Trixie Friganza (who specialized in humor making fun of her looks) groans and scratches her way through undressing while the narrator makes fat jokes and ugly jokes. There's a number of versions of this floating around, including a 1950's one with added later footage.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Houseboat Horror (1989)

How bad is it? It's generally considered the worst Australian film.
Should you see it? Hmmm. Yes, if you like slasher films.

There are dozens of bad films about a killer on a boat and this one is one of the worst. A crew is going to film a music video on a boat, but a killer stows away; his motivation is dicey at best - getting revenge for having been left in a fire (or something... I really didn't care). In typical slasher style, there are way too many characters before they start getting killed and they're all annoying. There's plenty of mullets and bad 1980's clothes and a ton of odd accents. Much of the dialogue appears to have been improvised and it's not exactly riveting: "Nice scenery." There's a lot of continuity errors, especially of lighting (Ed Wood's confused day and night has a successor!), the acting is generally awful and there's plenty of nudity - but none of it appealing. There's a head cut in two, a horseshoe in the eyes and a stabbing through a mattress. The actual "video" being shot is probably the highlight in bad ideas being filmed. It's dull and predictable, but it's also oddly watchable.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Honeybee (2001)

How bad is it? Perhaps the worst boxing film.
Should you see it? No.

There have been so many films about boxing that it should be easy to make another by just putting together what one's learned from the past. The makers of this film learned nothing, particularly in how to shoot in the ring - the lead actress looks like she's following choreography she learned a minute earlier and the cameraman never gets a good angle. The story has a young woman who wants to box, but her father (James Avery, the only face one will recognize) wants her to go to college. Her boyfriend is also unsupportive. The promoter of women's boxing seeks contenders in strip clubs, the champ has a lesbian attraction to our heroine and finally the star's father uses his political connections to get venues shut down. Of course, she's undeterred and succeeds.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hell's Bloody Devils (1970)

aka Operation M, aka The Fakers, aka Nightmare in Blood, aka Smashing the Crime Syndicate, aka The Swastika Savages

How bad is it? Okay spy film gets messed up with tacked on plot(s).
Should you see it? A mild yes - after you've seen Satan's Sadists.

Al Adamson's horror films are among the worst ever made, but his westerns, blaxploitation and biker films are sometimes quite watchable. This one started as a fairly standard - even competent - film about a Nazi who has plates for printing out American $20 bills and the FBI's attempt to stop him. Then director Al Adamson decided to splice in footage of bikers (perhaps from a different planned film) and then it has Mafia connections and the plot spirals out of control. The film quality also varies enormously, as the great Laszlo Kovacs filmed some of it and hacks did the rest. The soundtrack is by Nelson Riddle and is quite good. Character's hair and clothes change in mid-scene, there's an exploding grenade pen and karate chops to the neck, shots of a dolphin show and of Hitler are spliced in, Col. Harland Sanders makes a cameo (!), and John Carradine and twins you might recognize from a Star Trek episode have a scene in a pet shop. Broderick Crawford gets top billing, but does most of his lines seated at a desk. A Playboy Playmate from 1967 also has a role, as do Scott Brady and Kent Taylor. It's complete nonsense, but you never know what's coming next.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hollywood Zap! (1986)

How bad is it? Below average (bad acting), but not awful.
Should you see it? If it shows up on TV late at night, maybe.

This was released by Troma, one of their independent weird film discoveries, rather than their self-made crap. It's received some terrible reviews, maybe due to the poor acting or the meandering plot, but maybe because it goes decidedly politically incorrect toward the end. It's about a search for a father and about video games, sort of a buddy movie, at the beginning sort of a road film, but it's mostly just enough plot to tack together weirdly amusing scenes. It's watchable, but largely unremarkable and forgettable.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hangmen (1987)

How bad is it? It's 1940's bad, done in the 1980's.
Should you see it? No.

Most of the people who have seen this - and hated it - saw it because it was advertised as a Sandra Bullock film; she has an important five minute scene for her screen time. She's also the only actor. Former boxer Jake LaMotta and Dog Thomas (who has mostly technical behind-the-scenes credits) are more important to the story. That story, by the way, is nonsensical, but is good guys vs. bad guys. Renegade CIA agents dressed as cops, EMTs and firemen, get to use a LOT of squibs and blood packs in bad action scenes. In one scene, a guy falls to the ground from a shot - and THEN the shot is fired. One special effect is a gun taped to the camera. This seems to have been made by guys who watched cheap films from generations earlier and assumed that audiences today would accept the same flaws. The film has some very good ratings, but I think it's not from people enjoying the awfulness of the film, but as some concerted effort to keep a Sandra Bullock film from being listed as one of the worst.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

House Party 3 (1994)

aka House Party 3: The Bachelor Party

How bad is it? Very sporadically amusing comedy.
Should you see it? No. Fans of Bernie Mac and TLC might find it of interest.

For the second sequel, they had to admit that the guys were getting too old for their old routine and that's actually part of the plot, as Kid is getting married and Play is promoting another act, called Sex as a Weapon (played by TLC). The legendary high fade is also gone. The film is centered around trying to have a bachelor party. Bernie Mac, Gilbert Gottfried, Chris Tucker, Khandi Alexander and Tisha Campbell have roles, but only Bernie comes off well. There's a lot of musical numbers by TLC, Immature, R.A.S. Posse and Kid 'N Play themselves, but none are very memorable. The jokes just don't work and even the high energy of the first sequel is gone.

Friday, October 14, 2016

How Sweet It Is (2013)

How bad is it? Unfunny comedy/musical with pathetic song lyrics.
Should you see it? No.

Joe Piscopo came out of retirement to star in this film about a theater owner who owes money to the mob and tries to put on a musical to make the needed money. The mob boss insists on casting his debtors: riff-raff or worse. Paul Sorvino, Michael Pare' and Eddie Griffin have roles. There's jokes about electroconvulsive therapy, crack addiction, transsexuals and transvestites - and that bad taste could be funny, but the film tries to be heart-warming. The first half, about trying to put the show together, is better than the second, which is the show; there are some good voices and the music and arrangement are fine, but the songs themselves have such terrible lyrics that one wonders how much of it was intentional.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The House of Usher (1989)

How bad is it? Some hamminess, some cheapness and a hack script.
Should you see it? Oliver Reed and Donald Pleasance fans will enjoy it.

Harry Alan Towers tried to duplicate Roger Corman's success in adapting Edgar Alan Poe stories, with little to show for it. This is one of a dozen versions of "The Fall of the House of Usher" on film and one of the worse - DeCoteau's done one, so it's not the worst. Oliver Reed buries his nephew alive and rapes his fiancee. Donald Pleasance is the loony relative locked in the attic with a power saw for a hand. There's a castration by rat, a hand in a meat grinder, a head on a platter. There's some continuity errors and some things which must be dream sequences (walls develop arms, for example) and some things never get explained: ghosts, for one. The sets are cheap, but don't look too bad and Reed and Pleasance overact in true eye-rolling frenzy. The ending is disappointing, but it always is with this story, which tries to force the idea of a crumbling mansion as a metaphor for a crumbling psyche.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hot Ice (1978)

How bad is it? About 1970's TV-sitcom level.
Should you see it? No. It's for Ed Wood completists (and they'll be disappointed).

This is available in the "Big Box of Wood" set, as Ed Wood Jr. has a credit as assistant director, but it's a Stephen Apostolof film. A detective tries to arrest a couple selling phony bonds, but they escape and go to a ski resort (which allows reuse of footage from "Snow Bunnies"), where a rock star's diamonds are their next target. The acting is typically poor, Apostolof's trademark added nude scenes are... well, they exist... and the dialogue isn't quite as bad as Wood would write, but it's not a lot better, either. It's all very tame, particularly when you think it was made by a nudie film director in the 1970's.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hong Kong 97 (1994)

aka The Last Chance, aka Showdown in HongKong

How bad is it? Dull action film.
Should you see it? No.

Albert Pyun has a group of people claiming he's the king of bad movies, so I get roped into some of them. This one stars Robert Patrick, Tim Thomerson, Brion James and Ming-Na Wen, so one can't blame the acting for why it fails. As Britain is about to hand Hong Kong back to China, a corporate hit man kills several of the Chinese delegation and then he becomes the target of dozens (hundreds?) of hired guns. There are times when the film just grinds to a halt so characters can have conversations with plot points. When there's action, the bad guys just stand as targets and Pyun does it all in slow-motion, dragging the pacing even further. Thomerson has a few good moments early in the film, when he doesn't have a handle on what's going on. The ending is implausible and unsatisfying.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Here Comes Santa Claus (1984)

aka I Believe in Santa Claus

How bad is it? Typical fly-by-night children's Christmas film.
Should you see it? Yes. It's delightfully weird.

I'd heard Christian Gion was France's worst director and that this was his "masterpiece." A boy's parents are missing in Africa, so he and a friend sneak away from a school field trip to sneak aboard a plane headed to Finland, where they actually find Santa. Then the story involves guerillas and warlords! And a puppy sandwich-eating ogre! There's a fairy (who's actually a rather decent actress and quite easy on the eyes), an argument with a monkey and swimming with crocodiles. There's a lot of songs, with interesting words in the dubbed version I saw. The special effects are bad, of course, and it plays down to children, but it's never uninteresting.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hard to Die (1990)

aka Tower of Terror, aka Sorority House Massacre 3

How bad is it? Technically sub-par, with a hackneyed plot.
Should you see it? Yes. It's one of the best films of its (admittedly cheesy) kind.

Sometimes, early in his career, Jim Wynorski made entertaining schlock like this, rather than the dull drivel of late. This retells Sorority House Massacre 2 (which was no relation to the original) in an almost shot-for-shot remake, with many of the same actresses playing each others' roles from that film, despite having been killed off in it. The title tie-in to Die Hard is due to this film being done in a high-rise, rather than sorority house. Five girls doing inventory open a box containing the spirit of a killer, which then goes on to attack them while they show their breasts for implausible reasons. The effects are outlandish and silly. Forrest J. Ackerman makes an appearance. It's dopey and mildly offensive to women or anyone with taste, but it's a fun watch.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Hail Caesar (1994)

How bad is it? Probable low point for many of those involved.
Should you see it? Only if you love 1980's stars and need only a few laughs.

This was apparently a vanity project of Anthony Michael Hall,who directed himself and what I'm guessing are his Hollywood friends who owed him a favor. Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Judd Nelson, Frank Gorshin and an uncredited Kato Kaelin are in it. Hall has a rock band and he also works in a pencil eraser factory, where he falls in love with the boss's daughter (who's cute, but has a horrible personality - well, we've all made that mistake). The boss doesn't like it, so there's a bet: if he can earn $100K in 6 months, he gets the father's blessing and, if not, he hits the road for good. The film has a few intentional laughs, but none of the characters are appealing or interesting and the story doesn't really go anywhere.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Gunan, King of the Barbarians (1982)

aka The Invisible Barbarian, aka Last Warrior

How bad is it? Possibly the worst Conan rip-off, much worse than the Ator films.
Should you see it? Not really... not that you're likely to find it, either.

This Italian "Conan the Barbarian" rip-off may have shown in theaters overseas, but went to VHS in the U.S. Hitting people slowly and bloodlessly with the flat edge of a sword is instantly deadly, if you're Gunan (but not his twin brother also named Gunan), even if the sword is so flimsy it bends. The film opens with an incredibly long and dull exposition, re-using footage from "1,000,000 B.C." Eventually, once we get past the twin and generations of fighting, one actress showing her body repeatedly and Gunan getting tied up repeatedly and escaping, Gunan hunts down the killer of his mother and finds him and his henchmen in a cave. The final fight isn't worth the wait. And then there's a long expository ending. It's so bad that it'd be laughable if it weren't so deadly dull.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Greed (1999/2006)

aka Axe

How bad is it? Overly complicated, implausible sexploitation thriller. Meh.
Should you see it? No. Nothing new or interesting here.

I think most people end up seeing this film, as I did, by accident, because of the plethora of films entitled "Greed" and "Axe," all of which are probably better than this one. Two women, after doing some climbing (and looking quite fetching, rather than tired and dirty), steal money from a biker gang. A dirt biker gang. They end up in an inn and the proprietors also are now after them for the money. Then there's a bar, with a shoot-out, and the bar people are after them, too. Then they throw in a prison escapee with an axe that's harder to kill than Jason Voorhees or Michael Meyers. There's chase scenes and fight scenes and a lot of toplessness, but nothing you haven't seen before.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Galactic Gigolo (1987)

aka Club Earth

How bad is it? This one reeks.
Should you see it? No. Somehow, this has its share of fans, though.

The guy who directed the entertaining "Psychos In Love" proved that was a fluke with his next screen credit, this sub-par version of the sub-par "Earth Girls Are Easy." One can once again blame Charles band and Full Moon for this getting released. An extraterrestrial broccoli wins a game show and the prize is to go to Prospect, CT to have sex with the willing populace of bimbos. He's sought by gangsters and Jewish rednecks, a reporter and a photographer. There's little plot. There are zero jokes (there's a final pay-off joke that almost works). There's a slapstick climactic fight scene - banana peels and whipped cream included - with Three Stooges-type sound effects that goes on too long. It's all a bunch of frabba-jabba (which will make sense if you are unfortunate enough to watch this).

Monday, October 3, 2016

Games of Survival (1989)

aka Game of Survival

How bad is it? Essentially a home movie.
Should you see it? No (and it's really hard to find, anyway).

A reptilian alien has seven captives fight to the death in a winner-take-all battle for a spiky rubber ball in Los Angeles. Amateurish in every department, it's just a series of poorly choreographed fight scenes. Not much more to say about this one, really.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Guru, the Mad Monk (1970)

How bad is it? Might be Andy Milligan's best horror film, which means awful. Just awful.
Should you see it? If you feel you must find out what Andy Milligan films are like.

Shortly after breaking my vow not to review Milligan films, here's the second one. It's extremely cheap, with sets made by draping sheets and "medieval" costumes that are laughable. A monk maintains an island church (St. Peter's in NYC - how did he swing that?!), where criminals are punished and executed. He also robs graves. He has a one-eyed hunchback assistant named Igor. He has a witch/vampire mistress. There's better acting than usual, with the lead character being passable. The film is very talky, as usual, with monotonous exposition delivered in monotone. There's some terrible effects; obvious mannequin limbs are chopped off. The score, though competent and fitting the scene (vaguely religious) adds to the general dull drone of the film. Fortunately, with a run time of about an hour, it only hurts for a little while.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Guns of El Chupacabra (1997)

How bad is it? Pathetic plotless pastiche.
Should you see it? Oddly, I'm saying yes, as it's the best of later Jackson/Shaw films.

Donald G. Jackson will forever be remembered for Demon Lover/Devil Master. Later, he teamed with Scott Shaw for a series of "zen" movies, made without creating a script. It shows. At one point, you can see Robert Z'Dar glancing at his lines, which, not having a script, were probably just an outline. Shaw plays a sort of intergalactic bounty hunter (named Jack B. Quick - no relation). Julie Strain and David Heavener wander around. There's a goodly amount of toplessness. There's a scene that's just minutes of weapons being fired (the box advertises "millions of bullets"). The actual monster is fairly well-made, which is why there's a bunch of Shaw Chupacabra films, including a sequel to this one. The story goes nowhere and there's no character development [this is why you write a script, guys]. Joe Estevez easily steals the show as Ranger Danger.