Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Day It Came to Earth (1977)

How bad is it? Poor homage to 1950's trash.
Should you see it? The Elvira's Movie Macabre version has its moments.

Making a 1950's-type monster movie in the 1970's could've made for a fun parody, but this appears to be a straight homage and that doesn't work. George Gobel plays an astrophysicist. Rita Wilson has a small role. Much of the cast is billed under pseudonyms. The director's best known for creating TV shows like "Designing Women." A meteor crashes, a monster is created from a criminal that gets revenge before terrorizing the cast of youngsters and there's some intentionally silly stuff, such as calling the monster GeeGaGoo. It's mildly diverting fluff.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Danger Zone (1987)

How bad is it? Pretty bad babes and bikers flick.
Should you see it? Don't go out of your way.

"Where'd you learn how to do that?"
"I studied with a Zen master for 15 years. Then I snapped his neck."

That's the best line in the film.

Six girls in a band (with very 80's hair and clothes) get to do a TV show, so they drive across the desert to get there and the car breaks down at a biker hang-out, just as a drug deal was going down. The rest of the film is their trying to escape; there just happens to be an undercover cop, there just happens to be a hidden cache of weapons, there just happens to be a snake susceptible to hair spray. A guy gets burned in a sleeping bag, a girl gets run over, a guy gets whipped. The fight scenes are sometimes comical.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Jerky Boys Movie (1995)

aka Jerky Boys: The Movie

How bad is it? Guys famous for doing one thing don't do that one thing.
Should you see it? Only to remember when caller ID wasn't popular.

I think I know that woman in the middle of the shot.
Okay: I thought the Jerky Boys weren't funny on their comedy albums, so I'm not the audience for this. The plot has two low-lifes pretend to be mobsters on the phone, so they get in trouble with both the mob and the police. The stars aren't actors and having a plot seems foreign to them. The film has some interesting people in the cast, mostly in cameos: Alan Arkin, Paul Bartel, William Hickey, Vincent Pastore, Ozzy Osborne, Tom Jones and the band Helmet. The story is full of holes and doesn't really go anywhere, but that seems immaterial for fans of the title stars.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

J.C. (1972)

How bad is it? It's one of the worse biker films, but not nearly the worst.
Should you see it? If you stumble across it, sure.

Brought up in a strict Baptist home, our hero rebels by becoming a biker. Then, high, he has a vision and becomes a sort of hippie messiah... but then the film just ignores that and it becomes a basic biker film. The redneck sheriff, played by Slim Pickens, arrests one of the guys pretty much for being black; the rest of the film is poor attempts to bust him out of jail. There's a scene where a girl's about to be raped, the guy repents and then - get this! - she sleeps with him. In the end, our hero, befitting his moniker of "J.C.," gets sacrificed. The image that sticks in your mind after watching this, though, is the star in his none too clean underwear.

I saw this really hoping it was the lost film "Him." It's not.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Jack and the Beanstalk (1970)

How bad is it? Easily one of the worst children's films ever made.
Should you see it? Ugh. If a children's film by an exploitation director's what you crave...

This Barry Mahon film is now available from Something Weird Video on a double bill with his "Wonderful World of Oz." I don't know why Mahon went from making nudie and roughie films to making children's films, but this came out three years after the Gene Kelly film of the same name, so perhaps he hoped there'd be some confusion. The film has a very 1970 look, from the fashions to the hair (there are two girls I had trouble telling apart) but it has a remarkably crisp and clean look, due to using the original negative. You know the plot. Jack sells his family's cow to "Honest John, Used Cow Salesman." He climbs the beanstalk three times to pad the film. There are endless bad songs, with the giant repeating his song a few times. The giant set is too large for the giant, which is slightly amusing. The green screen used for the scenes with Jack and the giant is not well done. This is perhaps the worst of Mahon's kid films, though I have a special animosity toward "Thumbelina" which just got spliced into "Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny."

Friday, November 18, 2016

Joysticks (1983)

aka Joy Sticks, aka Video Madness

How bad is it? 80's tits-and-laffs, with little of either.
Should you see it? Some of the cast might have their fans and they might be interested.

Greydon Clark directed this, which is never a good sign (like Jerry Paris, his films are never good, but passable if you're in the mood). Joe Don Baker stars as the disapproving father of a girl who's interested in a video arcade. The guy who runs the place can't play the games because of a long lost love - really. There's some attempts at humor, such as people dressed as Pac Man ghosts, that don't work and there's the usual dumb excuses for toplessness, in this case strip video games, but they're few and far between. Many of the young cast went on to minor roles in TV series, so seeing them in early roles might be of some interest, but I can't name any of the actors or shows without looking them up (which isn't worth the effort).

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Jacker 2: Descent to Hell (1996)

How bad is it? Poor plot, poor acting, poor production values.
Should you see it? I think not.

I never saw the original "Jacker" [Gasp! There's a film I haven't seen and I admit it!] and I may have missed some plot points because of that. The film starts where the last one ended, with a guy going splat, but it turns out he lived. There's some police procedural - and three cops played by the same guy, one with a ridiculous wig - and then a carjacking of a carjacker. Shot on video, this has no visual appeal and even has a visible lens smudge that never gets cleaned. The supernatural element of this adds little (the jacker can't be killed and is malevolent as hell, literally). The deaths are meant to be gory but are underwhelming, the performances are at best weak, the direction aimless and the story moronic. Yeah; I didn't like this one.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I Woke Up Early the Day I Died (1998)

How bad is it? Intentionally bad, but also unintentionally bad.
Should you see it? Maybe for the cast.

This used the script of an Ed Wood Jr. project planned as a silent film (which would've eliminated Wood's famous circular dialogue). It's low-budget, but has a cast that is amazing: Billy Zane, Abraham Benrubi, Sandra Bernhard, Karen Black, Conrad Brooks, Tippi Hedren, Eartha Kitt, Ann Magnuson, Andrew McCarthy, Ron Perlman, Christina Ricci, John Ritter, Rick Schroder, Nicollette Sheridan, Jonathon Taylor Thomas, Vampira, Steven Weber, Carel Struycken, Bud Cort, Kathleen (Mrs. Ed) Wood and Summer and Rain Phoenix. Zane plays a cross-dresser who loses the loot from a crime - dropped in a coffin being buried - and spends the film trying to recover it. Most of the other actors have little to do. The film splices in footage from other films (much stock), perhaps as Wood would have done and that provides the only laughs of the film; e.g. while a woman strips in an empty room, footage of an audience of inappropriate age is added. It was a good idea, ineptly executed and the ineptitude isn't endearing as it would've been in the hands of people who were trying valiantly and failing.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Invasion of the Star Creatures (1962)

How bad is it? Fails as comedy, intentionally inept.
Should you see it? No. It can be a chore to sit through, though it has its moments.

Two bungling privates in the army come upon a cave that has giant women (named Poona and Tanga!) from outer space who are raising an army of vegetable men in pots. It's meant to be a zany comedy, but the intentional laughs never work. There are some unintentional laughs, but not enough to counteract the forced weird voices, the truly horrid native American stereotype and technical failings. This is one of two films directed by actor Bruno Ve Sota; the other one's also bad. The one thing the film has going for it is the women - I had to check; they're both about 5'8" in real life, so the forced perspective shots work quite well.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

In the Name of the King (2007)

How bad is it? It's one of Uwe Boll's better films. Adequate, if long and unoriginal.
Should you see it? Probably not.

Supposedly based on the video game Dungeon Siege, this is just a rip-off of Lord of the Rings (and there are even two sequels). There's adequate production design - the film budget was reportedly $60,000,000 - and a capable cast: Jason Statham, Leelee Sobieski, Colin Ford, John Rhys-Davies, Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, Ron Perlman and Will Sanderson. What it lacks is originality and interest. An evil sorcerer wants to rule, so he has half man/half beast creatures attack. A farmer (named "Farmer") has his son killed and his wife abducted, so he gathers together comrades and fights back. Uwe Boll manages some adequate battle scenes, but you've seen better. Did I mention there are ninjas? The question remains: how does this director keep making expensive films that don't make money?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

I Know Who Killed Me (2007)

How bad is it? Confusing "thriller" with laughably "arty" direction.
Should you see it? No.

This is the second straight Lindsay Lohan film (the "I"s are not good for her) I'm reviewing. In this one she plays a woman who has a leg and parts of an arm amputated by a maniac in an attack and then claims that she's not the good girl they think she is, but a stripper. We get to see her strip, though we don't see her naked and she smokes, drinks and swears a lot. The director tries to insert something neon blue in every scene, which not only is distracting, but makes the killer's identity obvious. The police are of course clueless. This is a film where a cell phone would derail the plot... so was this supposed to be 1988? Julia Ormond and Neil McDonough play her parents and have little to do. Toward the end, the plot gets sillier and sillier with too many twists, all of which are obvious and the final solution of the mystery at the core of the film made no sense to me.

And it was slow.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

InAPPropriate Comedy (2013)

How bad is it? Possibly the worst comedy I've seen.
Should you see it? No way. But keep it in mind if playing "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon."

Wow this sucks. Adrien Brody and Michelle Rodriquez are slumming here with the likes of Rob Schneider and Lindsay Lohan. It was directed by the guy who pitches ShamWow chamois towels. Brody plays a gay Dirty Harry. Rodriguez and Schneider review porn. There's a black "Jackass." There's "The Amazing Racist" (a joke I'm sorry to say I made in passing in 2001). The film is bookended with Lindsay Lohan playing herself playing Marilyn Monroe in "The Seven Year Itch," wearing an ankle monitor and shooting at paparazzi. There are exactly zero laughs.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I Want Your Money (2010)

How bad is it? Right-wing agit-prop and not particularly good at that.
Should you see it? If you believe what they're saying, you probably have already seen it. No one else need apply.

After a deluge of Michael Moore leftist propaganda came this backlash film that attempts the same comedic tone and manages a few chuckles among the spewed invective. Essentially, this film posits that Obama is a socialist that wants to bankrupt the nation for social programs. There's some cartoon impersonation of presidents that make some acceptable jokes. There's commentary from Andrew Breitbart, Steve Forbes, Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee that says nothing new. The final ten minutes is a paean to the Tea Party.

If you're reading this the day I post it, it's Election Day. Go vote.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Invitation to Hell (1982)

How bad is it? Technically terrible, but bizarre and not tedious.
Should you see it?  A marginal yes. Once impossible to find, seek the 25 year anniversary edition.

This is NOT the Wes Craven TV film of the same name form 1984! I think many of the positive reviews for this are for the wrong film.

I saw this on a terrible VHS print that I thought was missing half of the film, but the run time is only 43 minutes. The sound is muddy and roaring at times, so dialogue is hard to hear. A girl is invited to what she's told is a costume party, but being a virgin, the others there plan on using her as a living sacrifice in a ritual. It's very weird, there's some homoerotic content, there's some violence and just a bit of nudity, but there's nothing you haven't seen done better somewhere else. Still, for a film made for a reported 1500 pounds, it's not without its cheap charms and is briskly paced.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Invasion U.S.A. (1952)

How bad is it? Dated propaganda with heavy use of stock footage.
Should you see it? No.

This is more like "Rocket Attack USA" than the Chuck Norris film "Invasion USA." Various stock characters in a New York City bar discuss stopping communism; then the news says Alaska's been invaded. And three atomic bombs have been dropped on the U.S. There's a ton of stock footage, much of it military in origin. The film tries to hammer the message to boost the military to fight the commies, but the characters are uninteresting, the story uninvolving and the overall cheapness is obvious.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Interzone (1987)

How bad is it? It's a knowingly bad film, one of the worse post-apocalyptic films.
Should you see it? Yes, but don't plan on paying attention for long. Try it as a Teaganathon with "Alienator" and "Sinbad of the Seven Seas."

This is one of the worst Italian rip-offs of "Mad Max," produced by Joe D'Amato and starring no one you've heard of, though bodybuilder Teagan Clive is featured heavily and Laura Gemser has a small uncredited role. The entire plot: monks try to guard a treasure from marauding warlords. There's a lot of 1980's bad hair and bad clothes, a soundtrack and sound effects that make the dialogue unintelligible in places and extras that are so bad that they obviously miss or anticipate cues. It's fun for a while, but it's mostly chase scenes and weapons being fired and it all grows tiresome pretty fast. Though it's another hard to find VHS film, it seems to have gathered a cult following.

Friday, November 4, 2016

In the Cold of the Night (1990)

How bad is it? Typical Cinemax erotic thriller. Not good, not terrible.
Should you see it? Nah.

This has received very mixed reviews, probably liked by those who like anything slickly filmed and with nudity, probably panned by anyone who notes the cast includes Shannon Tweed, Marc Singer, David Soul and a slumming Tippi Hedren. A man has nightmares that he's killing a woman and then he meets the woman and they have an affair. The story then seems to involve messages sent into one's teeth by a DVD that control behavior. At the end, it becomes a sort of action film. It's stylish - if florescent lights in a waterbed and consensual asphyxiation are your thing - but the lead actor is uncharismatic, the plot is convoluted and silly and the dialogue is occasionally cringeworthy.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

If I Ever See You Again (1978)

How bad is it? Treacly twaddle. Considered worst romantic film ever.
Should you see it? Tough call. It's a nice palate cleanser from most films on this blog, but hard to find.

Joe Brooks, who had written the hit song "You Light Up My Life," created the cinematic equivalent of that bland romance with this (minus the religious overtone of the song). He wrote, directed and starred, though he had little ability at any of those. In the film, he's a jingle writer trying to be a serious musician and he tries to win back the girl of his dreams (Shelley Hack) that he lost before he became rich and famous. His plan works. That leads to a lot of sirupy nonsense Nicholas Sparks wouldn't touch. Authors George Plimpton and Jimmy Breslin have roles, as do child actors Danielle Brisbois and Peter Billingsley. Much of the film looks like television commercials for feminine hygiene products of the 1970's.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

I was a Teenage Zombie (1987)

How bad is it? Very amateurish and cheap, but not terrible.
Should you see it? Yes. This is generally entertaining, with some major flaws.

Teenagers get marijuana laced with pesticide, so they confront their dealer, who slips on a banana peel and dies. Right there, you know what you're in for. They toss the body in a pond that's polluted by a power plant, so he comes back as a zombie. The zombie now tears out a tongue, rapes a girl (in a scene the film would be better without) and tears her in two and kills one of the teens. The teens then drop their dead friend in the water so they'll have a zombie on their side - genius, really. Then there's a climactic showdown at a teen dance, which is hit-and-miss. Those in the film know they're in junk and play it for laughs, which often works. There's a soundtrack with Violent Femmes, Smithereens and Del Fuegos, which had to be 99% of the budget! There's gore, but it's not scary. There's in-references. There's some surreal anarchic moments. If this had had a budget, it might've been a cult classic.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

I Got the Hook Up (1998)

How bad is it? It rivals Wayans brothers and Tyler Perry for indiscriminate black auteur crap.
Should you see it? Only if you're a huge fan of Master P.

Master P wrote, produced and starred in this vanity production and proves that he's no writer or actor. He and stand-up comedian Anthony Johnson play the duo of Black and Blue, who fence stolen goods in their hood. They get a truckload of phones and find a way to activate them on the cheap. One gets bought by a mob enforcer and the cheap phone broadcasts the details of a crime, so now our heroes are the targets of the mob. There's cameos by Ice-T and Snoop Dogg and a decent soundtrack, not surprising, given the artists Master P has on his label. It's just another film where attitude is supposed to substitute for jokes and energy is supposed to substitute for plot.