Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

The previous post is the last alphabetically from that source. I'm missing up to 3 titles (probably a zombie film in there) between "Your" and "ZZ." I'll be going back from T-Z at least 3 more times before I get back on track. Then - probably around the start of 2018 - I'll be back on schedule, with a few titles I missed, a few new titles and a bunch of really really obscure stuff.

Xtro 3: Watch the Skies (1995)

aka Xtro: Watch the Skies

How bad is it? Throws away everything interesting in the original.
Should you see it? No.

The first film was good and interesting (and controversial; there's a pretty rough rape scene) and the second was a rip-off of "Aliens." This is a war picture, translated to a planet, where guys are supposed to defuse bombs and then run into an alien. The special effects are particularly bad; when there's a flashback to the 1950's, it's so bad they had to be doing it intentionally badly. There's a soundtrack that works against the action. There's plenty of bad acting, though it's nice to see Robert Culp get some work.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Wrecking Crew (2000)

How bad is it? One of the worst Albert Pyun films, which is saying something.
Should you see it? No, unless you're a huge fan of the cast.

I saw this by accident, thinking I was going to watch the 1968 Dean Martin/Matt Helm film of the same name (I debated reviewing the 4 Helm films). This was directed by Albert Pyun and stars Ice-T, who also did the soundtrack, and has Ernie Hudson Jr. and, in a small role (though he's billed second on the video and is featured in the advertising), Snoop Dogg. The plot, if it exists, is about trying to "clean up the streets." After watching it, and scratching my head, I had to do a little research and found out it was filmed overseas (Slovak Republic?) in a plan to make three films with the same footage, the other two being "Corrupt" and "Urban Menace." Supposedly, this made it hard for the rapper/actors to know what role they were playing in scenes and I've heard that much of the film was B-roll, as footage was lost. It's a mess, and an uninteresting mess. The most entertaining part is the opening credits, which seem to be shots from the other two films, as they aren't in this one.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Worm Eaters (1977)

How bad is it? Typically poor regional horror film.
Should you see it? Meh. Maybe as a curiosity.

Produced by Ted V. Mikels (who's all over this blog), this was written by, directed by and starring Herb Robins as a worm breeder who also eats worms. He forces others to eat worms, which turns some of them into half-worm monsters. The main thought one has watching this is: is this meant to be a comedy? The acting is atrocious, but the worm eating is real and that probably cut down on the casting possibilities. It's worth noting that the Hong Kong horror film "The Devil" (1985) also involves worm eating.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Wirey Spindell (1999)

How bad is it? Self-indulgent tripe, but not awful.
Should you see it? No.

I liked Eric Shaeffer's "Boy Meets Girl" - a lot. Some of his other films were okay, but it seems when he puts himself on the screen, he fails. This film doesn't work and I found myself trying to describe it in terms of other films: like a poor man's Woody Allen trying for Cameron Crowe sentimentality plus Bob Clark "Pork's" humor. I think you can see why it doesn't work. A man, about to get married, reminisces about his sexual past - including an electrical socket. That he's bisexual and his therapist is bisexual (and a former lover's lover? I drifted off) and everyone has minor kinks and aren't they just darling? gets a bit tiresome. This isn't terrible, as some have suggested, just not good.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Wing Commander (1999)

How bad is it? SF seriously hampered by low budget.
Should you see it? If it shows up on TV late at night, maybe.


Having seen video games turned into films by Uwe Boll, this is not as bad - but that's damned faint praise. This is very much like "Starship Troopers" and also oddly like a dull WW II submarine film, as that was part of the plan (they even cast Jürgen Prochnow in a small role). The effects are very shoddy by 1999 standards and I'm told the story doesn't follow the video game world particularly well (I've never played the game). The acting is questionable, as Freddie Prinze Jr. and Saffron Burrows have always been lightweights and other good actors, like David Suchet, have minor roles. It has slow patches and a lot of errors anyone would catch - sound effects in the vacuum of space? Nice to have a convenient black hole to suck up whatever goes wrong, and aliens that are idiots. The plot, well, I forget the plot... I don't think it matters.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Win, Place or Steal (1974)

How bad is it? Pretty bad for a Hollywood film.
Should you see it? No (I seem to be the only one who HAS seen it). For completists of the cast only.

I saw this on television about 1979 (it had a brief VHS release). Guys who lose at the track plan to steal a ticket printing machine, so they can fake winning tickets. Things go badly. When the TV show M*A*S*H was huge, McLean Stevenson was advertised as the star of this, but he got 4th billing, after Dean Stockwell, Russ Tamblyn and Alex Karras. It also has Harry Dean Stanton, Scatman Crothers and Big Bill Smith! How could it go wrong? Well, have you seen "Hello Larry?" - Stevenson is a hallmark of dreck. The film needed better direction and editing; scenes just sputter long after they should end, removing any pace or tension. It's also often underlit. The film also never seems to decide on a mood - are we pulling for these guys? is it a comedy or a caper film?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Wicked Stepmother (1989)

How bad is it? Worst film of both director and star.
Should you see it? No - it's too depressing for a comedy.

Bette Davis agreed to be in a film by Larry Cohen (had she never seen one of his films?), but abandoned the project after shooting some scenes because she wanted some script changes. Cohen then replaced her with Barbara Carrera, some 40 years younger, but wanted to use the footage with his star; this required a script change that made both the same character (the other takes on the body of a cat when they switch). Colleen Camp, Lionel Stander, David Rasche, Tom Bosley and Richard Moll are in the cast, giving a decidedly TV sitcom feel. The special effects are often terrible - simple jump cuts. There are some intentional laughs (nice dig at Joan Crawford), but also some unintended ones. Mostly, though, you feel sorry for Bette, visibly ailing from cancer.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Which Way to the Front? (1970)

How bad is it? Not good, not particularly terrible.
Should you see it? Maybe as a second feature with "The Dirty Dozen."

I saw this in the theater when it came out (I was a kid) and thought it disappointing. That opinion has not changed. Jerry Lewis plays a wealthy man who wants to fight the Nazis, but is listed 4-F, so hatches a scheme to impersonate a German officer he just happens to be a ringer for and lead an escapade with others not otherwise able to fight. It has a few laughs, but seems tired. This was the beginning of the darker, more introspective, satiric films Lewis started making and is much better than "Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River" (and don't bother watching) and, presumably, better than "The Day the Clown Cried."

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Where the Boys Are '84 (1984)

aka Where the Boys Are

How bad is it? Pointless drivel.
Should you see it? No.

I don't get it - some people like this film. The original film, from the 1960's had an innocent charm and the hit Connie Francis song, while this one has, um, 94 minutes of running time. Lisa Hartman, Lynn Holly Johnson, Wendy Schaal and Lorna Luft are the girls on spring break in Florida. A male prostitue gets shamed. A (male) sex doll explodes. There's some weird plot line about a pianist and his mother and a mansion. There's a "Hot Bod" contest. Oh, that's why some people like this. It has bad dialogue and doesn't go anywhere.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Wheels of Terror (1990)

How bad is it? It's just one long mediocre chase scene.
Should you see it? Actually, it's pretty watchable, if you can find it.

Perhaps trying to recapture the TV movie magic of "Duel" - or maybe "The Car" - this TV movie is about a stranger in a black Charger who abducts girls and sometimes rapes and kills them. Then he takes the daughter of a bus driver and she (the girl's mom) gives chase. The chase scene is lengthy, perhaps half of the film, and it had some thought behind it, but it also has its ludicrous moments, particularly at the end when the girl escapes. [Not much of a spoiler, there.] Most people's eye glaze over half-way through the chase in this, but I was entertained.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Werewolves on Wheels (1971)

How bad is it? Unsuccessful attempt to blend genres.
Should you see it? Yes, but have the fast-forward button handy.

A group of bikers stumble upon Satanic monks who want to sacrifice what looks like the one female member of the gang, but they escape, only to find the girl's been cursed to become a werewolf. The film is s..l..o..w. There's a lot of footage of riding in dull desert, some displays of brotherhood, some drug use, a little violence, a flash of nudity, but no werewolves until near the end. The music's typical fuzzy rock of the era and the lighting is variable, the acting passable. It's just duller than you hope.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Warlords (1988)

How bad is it? It's a Fred Olen Ray post-apocalypse flick, so pretty bad.
Should you see it? No - the cast is tempting, though.

Post apocalypse, cloned warrior David Carradine rescues Dawn Wildsmith from a bunch of mutants, then they team up to defeat a warlord, rescue a scientist being forced to create a mutant army and also rescue Carradine's wife from the warlord's harem. With Sid Haig, Ross Hagen, Robert Quarry, Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer and one of the worst puppet monsters ever. There's a mutant head with an annoying voice that Carradine has to carry around. Carradine kills the same few mutants over and over to save on costs. It's all quite shoddy and dull, as Fred Olen Ray-directed films tend to be.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wacko (1982)

How bad is it? Poor horror spoof.
Should you see it? Maybe. Some love it (I didn't). Probably not, though.

It's Halloween prom night (!) and the pumpkinheaded lawnmower killer (!) is back after 13 years. With a cast including Joe Don Baker, Stella Stevens, George Kennedy, Julia Duffy, Andrew Dice Clay and Charles Napier, how could this horror spoof go wrong? Well, every gag misfires. In fact, there aren't really jokes - it's more like: here's a reference to a horror film that you'll get, so laugh, damn it! The film has a lot of people who are fond of it, so maybe it's just me, but I think it's bad.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Virtual Encounters (1996)

How bad is it? Plotless soft-core porn.
Should you see it? Nah.

Woman tries to get in touch with her sensual side with a virtual reality device and ends up in dull, fairly conventional scenarios. Somehow, this has a sequel.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Virgin High (1991)

How bad is it? Failed attempt to re-create "Screwballs," which was itself mediocre.
Should you see it? It's only for fans of the cast.

Girl gets sent to a Catholic girls' school and her boyfriend tries to see her. Linnea Quigley, Burt Ward and Michelle Bauer are in it, as are the requisite topless scenes and groan-worthy attempts at humor.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Violent New Breed (1997)

How bad is it? Cheap gore film with some ideas.
Should you see it? Ugh. If you're a regular viewer of bad films, you should probably see one Todd Sheets film and this would be the one.

I'm not a fan of Todd Sheets - and there are plenty of reviews on this blog that prove it - but this exercise in excess is sort of watchable. There's plenty of gore and violence in close-up (the teeth being pulled bothered me particularly - for personal reasons), as is usual for his shot-on-video projects, but there's something more for once. Demons have got men hooked on a drug so that they can breed with human women and create the titular new breed and usher in the antichrist and end of days. There's worm-like creatures coming from a head wound, a tentacle from a gut, a birth scene with a surprise... and then the coup de grace: Rudy Ray Moore (!) as an ass-kicking minister! Given that the budget was close to zero, there's a lot of extras in crowd shots, some effects are good and the music (metal/industrial, mostly also by Sheets) is more than competent. Certainly not for all tastes.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Vibrations (1996)

How bad is it? Silly, cliche'd and weird.
Should you see it? Yes. This has developed a following among bad film enthusiasts.

I saw this when it came out and was underwhelmed. It developed a cult following, so I re-watched it and, boy howdy* did it age badly!

James Marshall plays a musician who loses both hands when he encounters some rednecks, then becomes a wino and flops in a warehouse where there's a rave and Christina Applegate discovers him - and brings him home, thinking apparently that a shower was all he needed. Then she gets friends to make robotic hands for him, which, naturally, leads to his portraying a robot DJ at raves and becoming an underground sensation. The film hits every implausible hackneyed idea, including a reunion with a distant father (who, of course, is a cop - and this, of course, leads to Dad getting even with the guys who maimed his son... and while this is a long digression, let it be pointed out that he knows they're the bad guys because Marshall vaguely nods, once, and not even toward anyone). The fake rubber hands are the worst part and account for the most laughs - they get stabbed (leading, of course, to the stabber running away in fright), they get burned (of course, heroically putting out a fire) and they paw oddly in a romantic scene - no wait, it's the giant robotic hands in the love scene. Remarkably, if you're into techno music from 1993, the soundtrack's quite good.

*I have no idea why I used that expression. I never have before, never will again.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Vegas in Space (1991)

How bad is it? Plotless camp.
Should you see it? Yes, if your tolerance for drag queens is high enough or you're high enough.

"Based on the party by Ginger Quest," this took years to make, apparently, and yet there isn't any real plot. Men are sent to investigate an all-female planet, so have to take sex-change pills and then the film is just a bunch of party scenes with drag queens, ridiculous miniatures, sets made of bed sheets and a few good one-liners, e.g. "Shoot on sight anyone wearing beige." It was probably more fun to make than it is to watch.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The lost films of Steve Postal

This was supposed to be a review of "Vampires from Outer Space," but I got ripped off and never got to see it - if it even exists any more. Beware the dark web.

Steve Postal directed 5 to 7 films from 1990-1991, though only Honeymoon Murders and its sequel are currently listed on IMDb and are apparently still available from his distribution company. Missing are:

Billy the Kid Meets the Vampires (1991)

Billy the outlaw goes on vacation, only to run into the titular vampires. Bad acting ensues. 114 minutes. Starring Michael K. Saunders, Debra Orth, Angela Shephard. I'm told the artwork on the box is "amazing" - which probably means hand-drawn.
Found it!

Penpal Murders (1991)

Penpal visits and, eventually, kills. 118 minutes. Starring Jay Brockman, Jennifer Tuck, Angela Shephard.

Vampires from Outer Space (1990)

Vampire from the planet Cirrus marries earth man, takes groom to an island where strange things occur. 114 minutes. Starring Alan Ramey, Angela Shephard, Jennifer Tuck.
There are some stories online about Postal, such as his self-publishing a novel, then requiring those auditioning for his films to buy a copy to use as a script. It's likely that he changed his own IMDb listing (changing from "Steven" to "Steve" as he's billed in the films) and removed films that had received poor reviews by the handful that had seen them.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Urban Warriors (1989)

How bad is it? Bottom of the barrel Italian post-apocalypse film.
Should you see it? No.

There are a couple of decent shots in this film, stolen from "The Final Executioner," otherwise, this is among the worst of Road Warrior clones from Italy in the 1980's - a truly dreadful sub-genre. After a nuclear holocaust - HOURS after, mind you - people have become mutants, except for a few scientists working underground. It's up to them to save what's left of humanity, such as bad acting. There's a girl who gets rescued, takes off her clothes, and gets forgotten. There's a chase scene that makes no sense in at least three different ways. There's little bang for the buck, and not many bucks were spent.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Unkissed Bride (1966)

aka Mother Goose a Go-Go

How bad is it? Sex comedy without sex... or comedy.
Should you see it? Only if you've never seen a weird 1960's film.

This stars Tommy Kirk as a groom who has performance issues on his honeymoon because of a fixation he has on Mother Goose rhymes. He goes to a psychiatrist who treats him with LSD and a variety of sexual scenarios. If that's not random enough, Henny Youngman has a cameo. There's not much bawdiness for a 1960's sex farce and there's not much that's funny. It's just weird.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Unborn II (1984)

aka Baby Blood 2

How bad is it? Shabby horror.
Should you see it? Not really.

First, the title's a problem, because the unborn babies of the first film are now born. There's some mutant babies and a woman trying to kill them off, which leads to scenes of babies being shot in the face. There's a shootout in a nursery. There's a flesh-eating giant baby that makes for scenes of people wrestling with an obvious puppet. It's not as slow as the original, but it's still slow.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Tycus (1999)

How bad is it? Recycled disaster flick.
Should you see it? No. The only good bits are from films you've seen.

The only enjoyment to get from this film where Dennis Hopper reacts to the world being hit by debris from a meteorite is trying to name the movies from which footage was stolen. "Dante's Peak" is the obvious one; "Air America" gave the plane footage; some forgettable TV meteor film supplies the rest. The borrowed footage is not exactly seamlessly added - the landscape changes, people's clothing changes, etc. There is literally nothing new here.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Tryst (1994)

How bad is it? Failed film noir of minor interest.
Should you see it? Don't go out of your way.

Starring Barbara Carrera, David Warner and Louise Fletcher, this film tries to recreate films like "Body Heat," but doesn't really work. The abused wife of a wealthy man plans to murder her husband and falls in love with the son of the household help. People's personalities change on a whim in order to propel the plot twists. Coincidences abound. A cop gets hit by a car with no consequences. There's some titillating nudity, but also a brutal rape scene. Many of the line readings seem to be just that - someone reading their lines.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Truck Stop Women (1974)

aka Truckstop Women

How bad is it? Typical exploitation fare.
Should you see it? Yes. All Claudia Jennings films are worth seeing.

I love Claudia Jennings. If you haven't seen "Gator Bait" or "The Great Texas Dynamite Chase," do so. Among the many exploitation films she did in her brief career, this one is probably the least endearing, and perhaps the cheapest. In New Mexico, a woman runs a brothel at a truck stop. The mafia decides to take over. The madame's daughter (Jennings) decides to fight back. There's car chases and shoot-outs and a lot of nudity - including the memorable assets of Uschi Digard, who has no lines (probably because of her accent). Jennings plays a seriously hard depraved sociopath, which doesn't match her usual breezy performances, but shows she had range. The film's low budget does show. The best scene is probably a guy getting trampled by cattle.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Tribulation (2000)

aka Apocalypse III: Tribulation

 aka Apocalypse III: Tribulation

 How bad is it? Typical low-budget Christian thriller with interesting cast.
Should you see it? Not really, but again, check out the cast and just try to resist.

This is yet another Christian "what if the Revelation of John actually happened now" film, starring Gary Busey, Howie Mandel and Margot Kidder, with Nick Mancuso as the anti-christ. Let that sink in a while. People jump out of windows and live, then walk around with "666" stamped on their hands, then something involving virtual reality goggles, the old hiding in a cupboard trick, an exploding cottage, then a hasty and easy denouement. In all fairness, I didn't see episodes 1,2 or 4.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Treasure of the Four Crowns (1983)

How bad is it? Between the dull bits, it's ridiculous.
Should you see it? Yes, but only if you see it in 3-D.

This guy's face falls apart in pieces over several minutes.

In the early 1980's there was a brief resurgence of 3-D films (this one's the better polarized, not red/green) and this one went way over-the-top in throwing stuff at the screen; in fact, that's all there is to this film. I stopped counting after the 27th thing coming at me. There's four crowns with attached orbs that have power over things like famine and war - how is never explained - and ooh something coming at the screen! - um, and everyone's out to get - ooh, another thing shot at me! - um, there's some Indiana Jones sort of - dang! that's a lot of stuff coming at the screen! Yeah, the plot means nothing. There's a tacked-on cliffhanger ending setting up a sequel (never made) that makes no sense.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Too Much Sun (1990)

How bad is it? Scattershot comedy occasionally hits the mark.
Should you see it? If you're a fan of the cast.

Wealthy man dies, leaving his fortune to his two children, if one produces an heir in a conventional manner - both are gay. Directed by Robert Downey Sr., this stars Eric Idle and Andrea Martin, with Allan Arbus, Robert Downey Jr., Howard Duff, James Hong and Ralph Macchio. The film starts out satirizing the extreme hubris of the wealthy in L.A. (while also depicting some of the scummiest areas), then becomes an attempt to squeeze out every possible offensive joke it can, mostly through stereotypes. Your level of tolerance for gay jokes will determine how you feel about this. There are some very funny moments, some clever ideas, but not nearly enough for its two hour running time.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Time Served (1999)

How bad is it? Tame exploitation that goes nowhere.
Should you see it? Not really.

This is an exploitation film that fails because of the quality of its cast. Catherine Oxenberg takes the rap for her child when her abusive husband gets shot by their son and gets sent to prison. There they have a work release program that sends the girls out to be strippers! That's a brilliant conceit. Jeff Fahey, Bo Hopkins, Louise Fletcher and Larry Manetti have roles and it's both a stripper film and a women in prison film, but tries to be earnest and tasteful, so it ends up being almost nothing until an abrupt ending. There's not enough brutality for a WIP film or enough tawdriness for a stripper flick.