Thursday, June 28, 2018

Robo-Kickboxer - Power of Justice (1992)

aka Rings Untouchable, aka Kickboxer Robocop

Of course, with a title like this, it's a prison escape film! No, really. The film starts with a guy in a cheap space suit (or maybe Daft Punk inspired motorcycle gear) in a boxing ring. He's an hallucination. The other fighter turns out to have been dosed with chemicals that were supposed to make him a better fighter but definitely cause hallucinations. This fighter retires from the ring, needs money, gets involved in a drug deal that goes wrong, goes to prison, meets some guys, they all escape and go their separate ways... and then the guy goes back to the ring, dosed again with drugs. It's on YouTube (as "Rings Untouchable"), so you can see for yourself. It's not good and not really enjoyable.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Return of Superman (1979)

aka Turkish Superman
There are probably a half-dozen Turkish films about Superman, but this seems to be the only one with subtitles in English. It follows the Christopher Reeve version fairly closely, with a bit of the 1930's Adventures of Captain Marvel thrown in. Our hero, upon graduation from high school (at about age 30 it appears), is informed by his parents that he's not human; "I know," he says, "I read your mind." Most of the laughs in this come from the fact that the hero is pretty scrawny for the role and his flying is obviously green screened in front of stock footage, inter-cut with an obvious puppet. The shot of stars in the night sky is obviously just Christmas lights. The music, mostly lifted from John Williams scores and sounding third-generation or worse in quality, is amusing. Running just over an hour, the story runs about the way you'd expect. And, yes, as is always amusing to American audiences, the director's first name is Kunt.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Repligator (1996)

Yikes. This film is about a military science experiment to create super soldiers that goes wrong and turns people into sexy horny women who, when they get aroused, develop alligator heads. It has Brinke Stevens and, in a cameo, Gunnar Hansen. It also has x-ray specs and gay zombies. What it doesn't have is a reason for existing. It looks like it was thrown together with minimal effort.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Remember the Goal (2016)

Another Christian film from the Christiano brothers, but this one's about a cross-country running coach and I am a cross-country running coach, so I should like this one. As it happens, that makes it worse. There's a creepiness in focusing on the girls' bodies as they run, as well as in the classroom, where short skirts seem to be a uniform of sorts. The coach's secret plan to help her team to victory is... pacing, which is something the film itself sadly lacks, but which is not exactly revolutionary in running. The lead actress is so deadpan that, when she tells a joke, you don't notice it at first. There's some howlers among the dialogue, some scenes that could only happen in Christian films and some supposedly healthy relationships that made me cringe.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Refrigerator (1991)

This is not bad. I think people are confusing it with "Attack of the Killer Refrigerator," which came out about the same time and IS a bad short film. In this, a couple find an amazingly cheap apartment in NYC, knowing that there must be something wrong. Well, the refrigerator is a portal to hell and it also messes with people's minds. The film doesn't know whether to be a comedy or a horror film, but manages to be weird enough to maintain a modicum of interest. It starts poorly and ends with over-the-top gore, but it's mostly meandering subplots and dream sequences.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Rambu (1986)

aka The Intruder
This film has one of the most fanatical fanbases I've seen; it's an entertainingly bad action film, but you get the impression online that it's the greatest thing ever. Directed by Jopi Burnama (who did the Troma-retitled "Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters") and starring Peter O'Brian ( who I enjoyed in "The Stabilizer"),this is about a guy getting revenge for his wife's death. He doesn't go full-on Rambo until the final act, which is most memorable because the same stunt guy dies over and over and over. The entire film was re-dubbed and the music and voices all are off. There are times when you wonder if it was meant as a parody, rather than a straight action film; our hero dispatches a number of people with a rubber ball, for example. There's action scenes done in slow motion and then sped up to make our hero seem even faster, but you can see guys having trouble balancing motorized bikes at the slow speed. It's definitely worth a watch, especially if you're a 80's action junkie.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Rage to Kill (1988)

aka battle Wars, aka Guerilla Force
This is a fun action film, where a drunken Oliver Reed (in a hot tub) makes even Cameron Mitchell riding a bicycle seem good in comparison; Reed's role is small, however. It's the story of a race car driver and former soldier who rescues his brother, who's a medical student in the Caribbean (holy Grenada, Batman!). There's a rocket-propelled car, a death by helicopter blade and girls aerobicising. There's the usual good guys who can't miss and bad guys who can't hit anything and bad special effects. There's racism, sex and nudity - but not at the same time and soldiers being forced at gunpoint to run in place in bikini briefs.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Rage of a Ninja (1988)

aka Rage of Ninja, aka Rage of the Ninja

Thought I was done with Godfrey Ho ninja films from 1988? Nope. This one splices together two films that had ninjas in them with new ninja footage, yet this has less ninja action than most Ho films. The climactic battle ends with a guy turning into feathers - I think. Still, you get to watch a woman wash her leg and see people play badminton to a disco version of the E.T. theme. There's also rapists having a barbecue on the beach. The story has a guy find his wife in bed with another man and he may or not kill him by throwing a drink in his face, but he gets called a murderer throughout the rest of the film. Then he goes on the lam. There's another story tangentially tied in of trying to find the manual that will make one the ultimate ninja (no one ever reads the manual in real life). Mostly, the film is dull talky scenes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Quest for the Egg Salad (2002)

Early on this blog, I said life was too short to review Andy Milligan movies and I've reviewed a dozen. Now I say life's too short to watch Chris Seaver films (I reviewed Mulva already) and yet I watched this turd. Stealing its title and theme from "What's Up, Tiger Lily?" this is a Lord of the Rings type film parody, complete with Teen Ape (a guy in the world's cheapest ape mask who makes cameos in all of these) and a cameo by Lloyd Kaufman. There's maybe three locations and perhaps ten minutes were spent coming up with the humor. Your friends and a camcorder could make a better film.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Pinocchio (2002)

This is a strange case: the original Italian film is good, but the dubbed version for the U.S. release is very bad, mostly due to very bad dubbing. Roberto Benigni stars, but he's voiced by child Breckin Meyer. Other voices include Glenn Close, David Suchet, John Cleese, Topher Grace, Cheech Marin, Eddie Griffin, Kevin James, Regis Philbin, Jim Belushi, Eric Idle and Queen Latifah. The plot follows the original story closely, with some scenes that might be tough for its intended audience - Pinocchio gets hanged, for example. Like all Benigni films, there's slapstick comedy and he's a gifted physical comedian. Unfortunately, it's hard to get past the weirdness and melancholy.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pterodactyl (2005)

Still another SyFy film, this one was directed my Mark Lester, whose done some good films and he manages to make this cheap monster movie a little better than most SyFy films. Then again, it has Coolio as an Army captain, so it also has more faults than the usual bad CGI (and in one case, a very bad hand puppet). An earthquake causes pterodactyl eggs in a volcano in Turkey to hatch, though they're millions of years old and Turkey looks surprisingly verdant. Characters have names like Lovecraft, Burroughs, Zelazny and Heinlein. Weapons that don't look very authentic also don't seem very effective. The monster carries off the female lead - without even scratching her - and the rest of the film is rescue and kill the monster. Meh.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Puppet Master X: Axis Rising (2012)

aka Puppet Master 10 - Axis Rising

Puppet Master films are probably beyond criticism; if you've seen the first nine, you'll see this one, though it's the worst one (and reportedly will be the last). Charles Band directed for once. There's four new villain puppets: one that shoots bullets from its bra (not exactly new idea), a werewolf, a half-tank, and a living bomb. There's nine kills, mostly by bullet or knife, the sole odd one by vomiting a leech into a mouth. The puppets aren't as well-made as in earlier films of the series and the acting is poor. I forget the plot - I'm not sure it matters.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Planet of the Sharks (2016)

This SyFy film is a version of "Waterworld," when I expected "Planet of the Apes." Global warming has covered most of the Earth with water and the small floating towns are surrounded by sharks, which seem to have a telepathic alpha lead shark. There's a plan to create a big freeze to return things to normal, but it's all very talky. The CGI and acting are dodgy at best. It's not novel enough to entertain any but the least discriminating shark movie enthusiast.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Puss Bucket (1991)

aka Pus$Bucket
Yet another contender for worst film ever made, this extremely rare VHS is about Judas and Corned Beef (God, I wish I could stop there - THAT would be a film), two rednecks who watch a lot of religious TV programming. They don't seem to notice when aliens have knocked the roof off their shack, but they get convinced the aliens are actually the Virgin Mary, who wants them to kill people and collect the pus from their skulls (in a bucket, hence the title) and bring it to them. There's also a scientist and his wife and some military personnel... and musical numbers. It's like they wanted to make their own "Rocky Horror Picture Show." There's very unsexy sex scenes (an orgy with a nipple cut off - and not as well as even H.G. Lewis would do it - and an overlong whipping), never synced sound, meandering and pointless detours, people doing cartoon voices... the director (a woman) didn't even get the title spelled correctly or understand what pus is. There isn't even much killing of people to collect pus. In short, there's nothing but stuff to annoy the viewer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Psycho Pike (1992)

aka Psychopike
When I announced I was watching this some 8-9 months ago, I got encouragement from the two people, both Canadian, who had seen it; it was a lost film until about 2012, when people more obsessed with bad films than even I am, went in search of a copy - it's still extremely hard to find [and, as I type that, I know I'll hear that it's now on the Web or got a Blu-Ray release]. It's atypical Canuxploitation, but more of a throwback to 1970s (or 60s) rubber monster movies. Industrial pollution has caused an already legendary pike to grow even larger and grow insane, jumping out of the water to attack people.

Full disclosure: I've been bitten by a northern pike (possibly a tiger muskie). I was 9 and I thought it was a snapping turtle that got me at first; I had teeth marks in my leg - yes, these fish have teeth - and you could even gauge the size of the fish from the marks. It wasn't that big. Further disclosure: here in Minnesota, walleyed pike is considered a delicacy, though it's considered a trash fish in most places. It's really tasty. Even further disclosure: the further north you go, the longer and thinner fish seem to get; the pike in Canada seem like gar, all bones and no flesh.

Okay, have I been Minnesotan enough here, yet? How 'bout that weather?

The film is really slow. There's endless footage of driving in a Jeep and more endless conversations in phone booths about water testing. The attacks are few, mostly toward the end, and are obviously done by crew throwing the fish. The giant fish is... not good, not even by the low budget standards of the monster attack film genre. There's a character with an eye patch that really hams it up. The film is not without its charms, but not worth seeking out.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Provoked (1989)

If this wasn't on YouTube, I probably wouldn't have seen it. It's mostly known for its star, who was Americana of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. You get to see her run a lot in mom jeans. There's also porn star Ona Zee in the cast, though there's no nudity. This is a standard rescue-the-hostage film, but all the genders are reversed: it's a guy who's kidnapped by a gang, whose leader is a woman, and he's saved by his wife. It's really low budget and looks like an episode of a very bad TV show. Many of the line readings are funny and would be, even if the dialogue weren't so bad. Even the weapons seem wrong; people have automatic weapons for no reason and one guy has what looks like an antique Thompson machine gun.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Prodigal Planet (1983)

aka A Thief in the Night 4: The Prodigal Planet, aka A Thief in the Night IV: The Prodigal Planet

This is the last of a four part series of Christian apocalyptic films and by far the longest, dullest and least seen of the four, which started in 1972. A guy escapes a guillotine, but I'm not sure how - everyone got distracted by a nuclear attack, I guess. A direct hit on Omaha by a nuke changes nothing (insert your own joke), leaving everything standing and all the trees green. A post-apocalyptic clothes shopping spree involves dancing "the robot" for no apparent reason. A disco version of "The William tell Overture" gets played incessantly. A large part of the film is devoted to cracking a code with numerology (the one who cracks it takes maybe 5 seconds), which gives a musical code to stop Russian warheads. The best line: "I find a boy and he's got a face like a burned marshmallow." Said boy converts to Christianity and immediately starts lecturing a woman on theology, though she grew up in the Church... which is truer than the filmmakers probably would like to admit. Mostly, though, it's quotes from the Revelation of St. John and bad acting. William Wellman Jr. is the only name in the cast.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Princess Xuxa and the Bunglers (1989)

Brazilian films, and especially Brazilian humor and music, don't fare well in the U.S. This film has the Trapalhoes, four comics who have done a ton of films, but only the "Brazilian Star Wars" is seen here and it just gets mocked. This also has Xuxa Meneghel, whose made a number of odd films - largely music videos aimed at children, it would seem (really, Brazilian film is unfathomable) - and this is one of two I've seen. I might review the other eventually; it has monsters. In this one, a tyrant on another planet has kept the princess in the dark about his diabolical plans and four guys try to save her and topple the bad guy. There's a bunch of slapstick; the verbal jokes are lost in translation.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Princess Warrior (1984)

I was really hoping for a "Xena: Warrior Princess" knock-off, but this is soft-core sci-fi porn shot in a couple of weeks for around $60000 (I have no idea where the money was spent). A bad princess dressed in black chases a good princess dressed in white to Earth, where there's a wet t-shirt contest and it runs out of steam right there; the t-shirts are so thick that getting them wet does nothing. And the scene goes on forever. Half the film is a slow speed car chase that not only never ends, but contains "Now we have them!" repeated a half dozen times and has police act very unlike police in the real world. There's a catfight at the end, but it's nothing to see.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Primitives (1980)

aka Savage Terror, aka Primitif
This is an Indonesian knock-off of the Italian "go in search of cannibals and regret it" films. It's available on DVD in "Tales of Voodoo Vol. 2" though it has nothing to do with voodoo. There's a lot of animals killed - there are the requisite wild animal attacks before they encounter cannibals - and no nudity, but otherwise it's just like every other film where Europeans play "primitive" by dancing and speaking gobbledygook. The gore is modest and mediocre and there's nothing else to recommend it, except some interesting music score choices; Kraftwerk is strangely out of place.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Pretender (1987)

This 39 minute film is available with two other shorts by the Christiano brothers (and that has to be a pseudonym) on video. It's reportedly an often seen and fairly well-regarded film in some Christian circles, but its amateurism and 1980's fashions have made it an easy target for some. A guy wants a girl to be his girlfriend and she's a devout Christian, so he pretends he is too. She falls for his routine for a while, but is saved from sleeping with him and learns a valuable lesson, a lesson that seems questionable if you didn't believe it already. It isn't worth seeking out and the other two films are actually worse.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Plug Lady (2004)

Ever wonder what a drag queen version of "The Room" would be like? I'll assume not, and for good reason, but that's not too bad a description for this. The worst stand-up comedy act ever (Tony Clifton included) is created by a drag queen (later transgender) who goes from leaving "comic" phone messages to working in a comedy club to performing to becoming a star and getting involved with a man (named Skunk) with the worst gaydar in history - leading to a "oh come on!" Crying Game scene that ends with violence. She then wins him back by prostitution; don't try to reason that out, because it's as unlikely as the rest of the film. She then has a fight with her mother, which reveals that she had killed her father, which leads to her mother committing suicide the same way her husband died. The dialogue seems badly dubbed, characters and plot lines just come and go and it's nauseatingly repetitious. Available on DVD and Netflix, it's best seen for free on YouTube.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Phantom Soldiers (1989)

Somehow, this is the first film directed by Teddy Page that I've seen; he's directed more than two dozen films, all of which look like schlock (and most look the same) and I'm told this is one of his more entertaining efforts. The film starts with a Vietnamese village being annihilated by masked soldiers in what is the best scene of the film. It eventually becomes a guy looking for his lost brother film. There are scenes that look like they were stolen directly from other films ("Predator" comes to mind) and there are hundreds of casualties. The acting is poor, the direction sloppy, but as the "Farm Film Report" would say, things blowed up real good. This was really hard to track down.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Phantom Raiders (1988)

Miles O'Keeffe teaches old flabby Vietnam vets some ninjitsu and then they go after the commies in Rambo style, only with exploding throwing stars. There's almost no dialogue after the first few scenes, just: run, shoot, run, shoot, run... The interior scenes are under-lit, there's no real character development, the plot is thin and the action scenes aren't particularly interesting or well done.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Special Feature: Quatermass and the Pit (1967)

On paper, this looks like a dud. It's the third film in a series and when has that ever spelled quality? It's also based upon episodes of a British science fiction TV show and they couldn't manage well even with "Dr. Who" and Peter Cushing, so using a lesser show and star looks hopeless. On top of that, the original star, original director and original screenwriter weren't available and it had been almost a decade since the second film. It had to be re-titled for American release ("Five Million Years to Earth") and didn't make it to VHS until 1997, so it's relatively unknown in the U.S.

All of this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Nigel Kneale, the writer of the episodes for television, was hired to adapt his own screenplay. He had hated Brian Donleavy as Quatermass in the first two films, so changing that aided as well. Roy Ward Baker, who had directed "A Night to Remember," was hired as director and this became the first of a series of terrific genre films he directed all the way to 1981's "The Monster Club."

Science fiction is a genre of ideas and this has enough grand ideas for half a dozen films. After airing on TV, it was released as a book in 1960.
Cover illustration by the author's brother.
This is partly because it's made from six episodes of a show, each with its own big idea. Kneale didn't want to cut any of it, so it just tightens the pace of the film and there's no assuming the audience isn't smart enough to get it all. Without giving away the plot, it suggests that the reason we don't encounter species from other planets is that the ability for space travel comes with the ability for self-annihilation. The film also covers religion, particularly our images of the Devil... and history... and evolution... and mythologies. All that in 97 minutes.

I decided I needed to watch the film again before I wrote this post and, when I did, I noticed a name in the credits that's the same as that of an uncle of mine. I shrugged it off as coincidence, but the next name was that uncle's neighbor. Then I saw another name of a distant relative. That uncle had passed away, but I called my aunt to see if he'd been involved in making the film. She told me that the copy I was watching must mistakenly have the credits from the first film, with which he had indeed been involved. "You mean the TV episodes, right?" I asked.

"No. The first filming. The one with Donleavy."
"You mean one of the first two films."
"No, dear. David was never in England. They filmed a cheap version of 'The Pit' in northern Minnesota in 1959."
"Wait. You're telling me that I feel a connection to this film because it's in my blood? It's in my DNA?!"
"He kept a copy of it in the barn, if you want to look for it... Hello? Hello?"

I was already in the car and on my way.

Half an hour out of Biwabik, I pulled into the family farm and headed straight for the barn. Aunt Judy was already trying to clear some items.

Uncle Dave had a huge inventory of odds and ends, most in disrepair. The mannequin with his old uniform, for example, was rotting and moldy.
There were piles of papers and tons of scraps of every description. I didn't know how I'd ever find the film. "It'll take 5 million years to unearth!" I exclaimed, looking to see if anyone got the joke.

"Oh c'mon. It wasn't that bad of a joke."
Finding the film took more digging than I expected.
The noise from excavation was loud. It was like being hit on the head with an ax by a giant. I started picturing it.

I finally found the film canister, which had a strong smell of vinegar to it, a sign that the acetate may have completely dissolved. When I opened it, there was nothing left but a few insects scavenging the remains.

I guess I'm stuck reviewing the film everyone else has seen. Coming out just before "2001: A Space Odyssey," it covers some of the same ground and may have been green-lighted for that reason and rushed into production to compete with it. If it hadn't had such a limited budget, it would be considered a classic, but the alien grasshoppers look a bit too much like papier mâché and the dream sequence has hand puppets that are so poor they take you out of the film for a second. There is a point when the embodiment of evil is supposedly shown, something that could easily have been laughable, but it turns out to be okay:

Most surprisingly, the film has some real jolts. The scary bits are actually scary, which is a rarity in any film.
Well maybe not THAT scary.
This film screams for a remake; with a decent budget, I think it would be a hit.

So, not having discussed the plot at all - unless you've seen the film, in which you can see I actually have, but hid it in my own story - I have to conclude the post. Aunt Judy had us all in for sweetbreads.

I asked Judy what she recalled of the lost film. "It was much like the one you know, except Wally..." - Walter was a carpenter who lived nearby - "couldn't make grasshoppers, so they went with giant fish, which he did quite well." I wasn't sure if giant fish would be believable or frightening. Then I drove home and I noticed something on the way...

This post is part of the Hammer/Amicus Blogathon. Please check out the others. Links can be found at the blogs of Barry and Gill:
Cinema Catharsis
Realweegiemidget Reviews