Monday, April 28, 2014

Vanna White's Film Career... There are 3 G's

Skipping Bo Derek in "Ghosts Can't Do It," Mariah Carey in "Glitter" and Dorothy Stratten in "Galaxina," there are three films starting with the letter G that feature Vanna White. None of them are terrible enough on their own to make the list, but all three make for one awful 1980's attempt to make a film star.

Graduation Day (1981)

This is a typical slasher film, of which there were several in 1981. This one stars Christopher George as a track coach whose team starts getting killed after a girl dies of an embolism at a meet. Made by the Troma crew, this has their typical slapdash feel, with occasional moments of interest; for example, in this one, the pole vault killing is particularly amusing. The film has Linnea Quigley as well as Vanna White, making it the launching pad of a scream-queen career as well as a letter-turner. You won't have any trouble figuring out who the killer is before all of the characters are introduced, but if you have to watch a slasher film, you could do worse. But not much worse.

Goddess of Love (1988)

Publicity still. There's not even a screen capture image available!
 By the late 1980's, Vanna White became a minor celebrity whose talents included smiling, clapping and, when stretched, waving. In this film, she plays the Greek goddess Aphrodite, whose statue comes to life when a ring is placed on her finger by a tourist. From that point on, it's bad acting galore and truly terrible dialogue: "I am not here for your cold gross chicken; I am here for your love!" Little Richard appears as a hairstylist, and the cast includes such television personalities as David Leisure and Amanda "Marcy D'Arcy" Bearse. It doesn't even make good use of locations.

Gypsy Angels (1989)

Vanna bumps and grinds. Sort of.
 Direction of this turkey is credited to Allan Smithee, so you know you're in for some dreck right from the start. Footage from an earlier abandoned film about strippers appears to have been wedded to new footage about stunt pilots to make a film about a stripper who has dreams of making it as a dancer who finds an amnesiac pilot and falls in love. And if that's not enough, Lyle Waggoner makes an appearance about the time he started designing luxury trailers for real stars.

Oh, I forgot! Vanna's topless for about 1/10 of a second. Even that didn't get anyone to watch this mess.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fugitive Girls (1974)

aka Five Loose Women

How bad is it? It's a women's prison film written by Ed Wood.
Should you see it? Oh yeah. Just don't expect much.

Stephen Apostoloff worked on the fringes of Hollywood and directed a few exploitation films under the name A.C. Stephen. He had a professional relationship with Edward D. Wood, Jr. (of "Plan 9" fame), who wrote scripts for him for not very much money. This story seems a loose remake of Woods' "The Violent Years," going from PG to R by moving from teenagers looking for kicks to adult cons escaped from prison. Wood himself makes his last film appearance here, as the guy who gasses up their car at the air field before being knocked unconscious; be forewarned, though, that Ed not only aged 20 years since "Glen or Glenda?" but gained weight and appears to have been ill.

Fugitive Rage (1996)

aka Caged Fear

How bad is it? It's a womens' prison film. That answer your question?
Should you see it? It's not required viewing.

I've seen scores of women-in-prison films and, while they're all pretty much the same, there are gems to be found ("Reform School Girls," "The Big Bird Cage," etc.) This one is directed by prolific bad movie director Fred Olen Ray, so it's the collision of two bad forces. Ray gets in the standard shower scene, sadism and lesbianism in the first few minutes, then the girls escape. They have to fight mobsters. Then they have to fight corrupt cops. Then they have to fight a secret government agency. That it ends up dull isn't for lack of trying.

For Y'ur Height Only (1981)

aka For Your Height Only, aka The Impossible Kid

How bad is it? It's one of the lowest rated films at IMDB.
Should you see it? Yes.

This homage to James Bond films (the star is billed as Agent 00 - which also appears to be the title of an abbreviated version of this film) is not the worst of its kind. Dean Martin's Matt Helm movies ("The Ambushers," "The Silencers," "The Wrecking Crew," and "Murderer's Row") are all worse, for example. It does have the idiosyncratic dubbing of poor translation, misunderstood idioms and outdated slang. It also stars Weng Weng, who is around a meter tall, but this exploitative detail puts it in the same category as "The Terror of Tiny Town," a novelty that's of average quality. The stunts aren't bad and I was impressed at how they shot at oblique angles to hide the fact that the stunt man was of average height.

This is the only positive review you'll ever see of this film!

Fit to Kill (1993)

How bad is it? It's instantly forgettable.
Should you see it? If you're watching Andy Sidaris films in order.

Another film in Andy and Arlene Sidaris' series of films about female spies, this one is a sequel to "Hard Hunted," with the same villain searching for a stolen diamond. Donna Spier gets introduced in the first of at least three appearances in the series, along with Julie Strain, Roberta Vasquez and Cynthia Brimhall (pictured above). All of them are topless at least once, which seems to be the point of the film. There's also explosions, a paint ball battle, yet another remote control vehicle and a bit more plot than usual.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fiend (1980)

How bad is it? It's extraordinarily cheap.
Should you see it? Yeah, okay, if you must.

Don Dohler made a handful of films on extremely small budgets, using his crew as his cast. Some were okay, but this one isn't. A supernatural force, seen as a red glow, animates corpses, which also glow, usually just their hands, but sometimes all over. The main one is so evil, it buys a house in the suburbs and opens a music academy! Really - you'll have to see it for yourself.

Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956)

aka Fire Maidens from Outer Space

How bad is it? It's a remake of Cat Women of the Moon. Case closed: bad.
Should you see it? Yes.

Three years after the dud "Cat Women of the Moon," the Brits decided to make their own version of the film. Astronauts land on a planet that has only one man left, along with all of his beautiful daughters. They apparently are descendants of the island of Atlantis. There's a monster, of course, and it gets killed in the end... by shooting it. With one shot. There's also a number of dance sequences, including one to Borodin's "Polovetsin Dances" - try not to sing "Stranger in Paradise" to yourself when you hear it.

Frogs (1972)

How bad is it? It manages to be preachy as well as ludicrous.
Should you see it? Only if you're a killer amphibian completist.

Joan Van Ark. She almost saves this film.
Ray Milland, acting from a wheelchair, plays an industrialist who's polluting for profit. This causes intelligent frogs (played by toads, by the way) who can use mind control over snakes, lizards and insects to attack people. Almost everyone is killed, though just how they get killed by frogs is not exactly clear. This tries to be atmospheric and to give an ecological message, but fails.

Frankenstein Conquers the World (1964)

How bad is it? It's one of the odder Japanese monster movies.
Should you see it? Yes, preferably while binge watching bad Godzilla films.

The heart of the Frankenstein monster is sent by Nazis to Japan, where it gets irradiated by the Hiroshima blast and then later gets eaten by a boy - because, apparently, that's what happens to radioactive century-old undead monster hearts. This causes the boy to grow to 30 feet tall and get covered with hair, grow buck teeth and get a thick brow. It also makes him a hero who fights monsters, like the dinosaur Barugon (and apparently a couple of others that were cut from the American release).

Frankenstein's Daughter (1958)

How bad is it? It's very amateurish for a professionally made film.
Should you see it? I didn't care for it, but it has its fans.

This time it's never-mentioned-in-another-film Oliver Frankenstein that creates the monsters, so one wonders where the "Daughter" of the title comes in until one sees that there's a female monster. That monster, seen in the photo above,has make-up that stops at the neck and which looks like a bad Halloween mask. There's also another monster with a face that was half melted. It's a bit slow for my taste and is just typical 1950's fodder with poor production values.

Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks (1965)

aka House of Freaks, aka El Castello dell'Orrorre, aka Terror! Il Castello Della Donne Maledotte

How bad is it? It's the Eurotrash of bad monster movies.
Should you see it? It's not required viewing.

Note the colored liquids (cf photo in last post)
This is unusually clearly shot for a bad horror film, but that's the best that can be said for it; the scenes of naked women appear to have been carefully edited, but one still appreciates the scenery. Michael Dunn has one of his worst roles, just a typical dwarf assistant and there's a giant, a Neanderthal, and a hunchback. There are some mild chuckles to be had.

Frankenstein Island (1981)

How bad is it? It's very bad indeed.
Should you see it? I give it a mild thumb's up.

Labs never have liquids that are brightly colored. Bikinis are more common.
Jerry Warren's made a number of terrible films. This is one of his later ones and the only one I recall seeing in color. It has veteran bad movie actors Steve Brodie and Cameron Mitchell, plus John Carradine, who's seen mostly in a photograph, as his arthritis kept him from doing much (I should do a monograph on this some day). Balloonists land on an island inhabited only by women in bikinis and zombies who wear turtlenecks, ski caps and white contact lenses. Many of the laughs from this film depend on a basic knowledge of filmmaking - my favorite being that Warren uses a reaction shot from a zombie, which, of course, shows no reaction.

Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965)

aka Mars Invades Puerto Rico

How bad is it? It's incredibly bad.
Should you see it? Certainly.

This is one of the great little-known terrible movies. A Martian princess is the last female of her planet, so she and her short bald (wost bald caps ever - you'll spend the film staring at the seams) minion Nadir (!) plan to kidnap Earth women. Meanwhile, an android astronaut named Frank has an accident that ruins half of his face and drives him mad, though he has nothing to do with Frankenstein. There's girls in bikinis dancing to bad rock and roll music on the beaches, there's tons of stock footage and there's a title monster seen only during the opening credits and the final scene. It's a must see.

The Flying Serpent (1946)

How bad is it? It's one of the worst from the cheapest studio.
Should you see it? Si.

Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC) was the lowest of the Poverty Row studios and this film is a "Mexican" remake of their earlier "Devil Bat," which starred Bela Lugosi. This time, George Zucco plays a mad scientist - as always - who discovers the god Quetzalcoatl is guarding Montezuma's gold and he decides to use it to do his bidding. All he has to do is place one of its feathers on a victim and the reptile/bird attacks to get it back. The monster is obviously held up by a number of strings and the film itself seems propped up.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Flesh Eaters (1964)

How bad is it? It's quite good, for the most part. The acting's weak.
Should you see it? Yes.

"Blood Feast" may have been the first gore film, but this British film came out the next year and is as gory, but infinitely better. A group of people involved mostly in sex films appear to have been responsible; the camerawork may be by Radley Metzger and it's very good. A scientist is experimenting with creatures that can strip the skin off a person in seconds and a group gets stuck on an island, forced to try to defeat them. Some of the effects are basic, such as scratching the film with pins, but the gore is still unsettling. Some of the dialogue is clunky and worth a few laughs, but the film gets exciting toward the end when the creatures combine into a supermonster (though a shoddy man in a rubber suit is involved).

Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders (1990)

aka Flesh Gordon 2; aka Flesh Gordon 2: Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders

How bad is it? It's surprisingly good.
Should you see it? Sure. Unless you're easily offended.

This film manages to do the nearly impossible: make a science fiction sex comedy that's funny. Just as "Porky's" had hundreds of imitators, who failed to get a single laugh from randy teenage boys, most science fiction comedies are a complete waste. This film is actually funny. It's also sophomoric, tasteless and silly. The special effects work for the most part, the acting isn't excruciatingly bad (though it's not great) and the plot moves along nicely. Perhaps I've just seen too much trash, but I think this is an okay film.

Flesh Gordon (1974)

How bad is it? It's a 1970's hard-core porn film with all the sex removed.
Should you see it? No.

This film has some very good stop-motion animation by followers of Ray Harryhausen, but it also has unending terrible jokes - Emperor Ming of Mongo becomes Emperor Wang of Porno, for example - and it probably could've been written by a nine year-old boy. This film became legendary for scenes supposedly deleted, but no unedited version has ever appeared. It's probably your only chance to see Candy Samples, who had the largest natural breasts in hard-core; her character has an eye patch and a hook hand, which is about as subtle as she ever got. Very surprisingly, this had a sequel 16 years later that's quite good!

Flesh Feast (1970)

How bad is it? It's dull, stupid and a little depressing.
Should you see it? Probably not.

A decade after his "Bloodsucking Freaks," director Grinter convinced Veronica Lake to finance her own comeback film of sorts. She'd only been in one film in 22 years, so it's a bit of a shock to see how she aged. I'd heard that her career stalled because film noir went out of style and she was too short to pair with many actors and there were rumors that she had mental health issues (schizophrenia has been suggested, but there's no proof); it's now commonly believed that alcoholism ended her career... and explains her decision to make this film.

The plot is about a skin rejuvenating system that involves live maggots. Every year, that sounds more plausible. It also involves trying to reincarnate Hitler, which is a little less plausible. The final scene has Hitler being eaten alive, slowly, by maggots.

Food of the Gods (1976)

How bad is it? It's cheesy, but watchable.
Should you see it? If you're doing a giant animal movie marathon.

Yet another Bert I. Gordon film about giant animals, this is one of his better later works (his budgets appear to have been bigger earlier), as it has some of Rick Baker's special effects as well as the usual back-projection. Marjoe Gortner stars and Ida Lupino shows up. There's attacks by giant wasps, rats and chickens; the chickens are the least frightening, by far. This film was based on the same source material as Gordon's "Village of the Giants," which is much sillier and therefore recommended.

See also previous post.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Empire of the Ants (1977)

How bad is it? It has some of the worst effects ever.
Should you see it? Not really. It's too slow.

Joan Collins, in one of her worst roles, and there are many to choose from, plays a real estate developer who shows people property on an island that has giant ants. The ants are obviously back-projected and usually out of focus from being behind smudged glass you can clearly see impede them. Based on a H.G.Wells story, it doesn't follow the book at all, but does follow the same storylines Bert I. Gordon used in films decades earlier, but to better effect.

See also the next post.

The Executioner (1979)

aka Massacre Mafia Style

How bad is it? It's the worst gangster movie.
Should you see it? Yes.

Dominic Miceli, who has appeared on this blog as Duke Mitchell in "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla," made his own film decades later. He wrote, directed, produced and starred in this, a remake of sorts of "The Godfather." Apparently, being of Italian descent and being from Brooklyn doesn't qualify one to make a gangster movie, as Miceli made a truly preposterous film. In it, he has long monologues that include every possible stereotype - he even mentions organ grinders with monkeys - and he sings songs. He didn't give himself the role of the Don, though, that he gave to an equally bad actor named Ludovico Dodo. The fight scenes are pathetic, but the action carries the film along briskly. The one thing this film has that "The Godfather" doesn't is that it admits that there are black people in New York (there, I said something nice, even if it disparages a great film).

Evils of the Night (1985)

How bad is it? Bad film specialists agree that this is one of the worst.
Should you see it? Those reviewers also agree that it's not watchable.

Anyone who sees this, sees it for the cast, which would've been great in 1965, though this was made in 1985. Three Aliens, Julie Newmar, Tina Louise and John Carradine, need human bodies to regain their youth (alas, that really seems true). They hire two mechanics, Neville Brand and Aldo Ray, to attack five teens in the woods. After that, it's just guys in ski masks attacking raunchy kids, like very slasher film of the time. Two of the kids are named Ron and Nancy, which is cute, but that's it for this stinker. There may possibly be a very few that think that this film goes from so bad it's not even so-bad-it's-good to even-worse-and-therefore-better - that's not an argument I'd make.

Evil Toons (1992)

How bad is it? It's in the running for worst animated film.
Should you see it? No.

Another Fred Olen Ray film, this time he was apparently wanting to ride the coattails of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and blend animated characters with live ones. This required a larger budget than usual, which also explains how he got David Carradine to star, rather than his father John Carradine. Arte Johnson and Dick Miller also have roles. Here, toons from a magical book come to life and attack - an idea that has some possibilities, as how does one kill something that's animated? Unfortunately, the film meanders and is the usual lowbrow sludge Ray specializes in. The toons themselves are mostly derivative of Chuck Jones and look like they were merely painted onto the film.

Eegah! (1962)

How bad is it? It's on nearly every list of worst films.
Should you see it? Yes.

The first time I saw this, it was the credits that most struck me; they're painted and then filmed, rather than added in post-production, which was a very clever way to save money. Unfortunately, if that's the most memorable thing, it's not much of a movie.

Richard Kiel (best known as "Jaws" in James Bond films) plays the title character, a caveman living outside Palm Springs, California. There's no explanation for how that can be. He sees a girl and falls in love. She gives him a shave. People search for the girl. The girl's boyfriend sings two songs at two pool parties.

While most cheap films are made and then the makers search for a distributor, Arch Hall Sr. decided to start a distribution company and then made films to have product to distribute. His first films were profitable and then he decided to make his son (Arch, Jr.) a star, despite his odd looks, lack of acting talent, lack of singing talent and lack of interest. Here, Arch proves he can't sing or write songs, though his father thought he was making an Elvis movie... with a caveman. The quality of the film-making is not terrible (it rarely is in a Hall pic), but the story is ludicrous and the acting awful (excepting Kiel). Hall Sr. briefly appears in the film and Ray Dennis Steckler, director of several films on this blog, is the guy thrown into the pool. Steckler's wife is also in attendance at the pool.

Electra (1996)

How bad is it? No one has considered seeing it twice.
Should you see it? Yes; it has enough laughs.

Shannon Tweed has never been a great actress, though she was passable in a few films ("Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death" is actually very good!), but here she's incredibly laughable. And, perhaps being later in her career, naked less than usual. The plot has an immortality serum that the bad guys want and can be taken sexually (!) from the one guy who has it in him. He's attracted to his step-mom... and that's where this film devolves. There's bad action scenes, bad dialogue and the most uncomfortable-looking costumes ever seen. That latex outfit in the photo above has a thong, as does all other wardrobe worn by women! The less you know about this film, the better, so I'll leave the rest for the viewer to discover.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dinosaur Island (1994)

How bad is it? It's one of the worst cavewoman movies (and that's saying something)
Should you see it? If you miss Cinemax in the 1990's.

I've seen more than 100 cavewomen movies (hey, someone has to) and all of them could reasonably be called bad movies, so why does this one make my list when "Dinosaur Babes" with its spaceship shooting lasers at T. Rexes and "Dinosaur Valley Girls" with its, well, Valley Girls, don't? This one was produced by Roger Corman, who let them use is dinosaur from "Carnosaur" and directed by Fred Olen Ray (see my review of "Cyclone") and Jim Wynorski (see my review of "Deathstalker II"). This was made for late night Cinemax, so it has just enough plot to hold together scenes of topless women. Soldiers headed to court martial have a plane crash and end up on an island that has only women and dinosaurs. One dinosaur is a sock puppet, others are fiberglass, others are added in post-production - a pterodactyl can't be caught because the net won't hit a creature to be added later! There's endless bad jokes, a few which work, a lot of adolescent sex scenes and dinosaurs that are impervious to bullets but can be scared off with shaking a spear or two. The "great one" of dinosaurs is killed anticlimactically with a grenade.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Don't Go Near the Park (1979)

How bad is it? It's truly one of the worst horror films ever made.
Should you see it? Maybe, in the you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it vein.

Two people are cast out of their tribe for cannibalism and cursed to continue killing and eating teenage virgins so as to regain their youth. 12000 years later, they're in a park in California, where they encounter scream queen Linnea Quigley, Aldo Ray and eventually breed young Tammy Taylor (whose career actually went somewhere after this got forgotten). The reason this video nasty gets put in the so-bad-its-good pile is because - for no reason, mind you, and with no explanation - people shoot laser beams out of their eyes. There's also terrible make-up effects, obviously fake boulders, fabric store cast-off clothing, actors who speak over each others' lines, bad music, bad editing, bad direction and bad gore effects.

Don't Go in the Woods (1981)

aka Don't Go in the Woods... Alone; aka The Forest, Part 2

How bad is it? It's one of the worst slasher films.
Should you see it? If you have the stomach for bad gore.

A crazed hillbilly/mountain man kills people in the Utah woods: that's the entire plot. There's no explanation as to why. The deaths are often cartoonish and sometimes have a sick sense of humor; for example, a man in a wheelchair struggles against an incline and, just when he makes the top, he gets decapitated. Four teenagers are the main group of focus and they're so annoying you want them to die (especially the homely girl - at least I did). The music is especially terrible and the end credits song is an extremely bad way to finish. Most will not enjoy this, but for a hardy few, this has some laughs.

Devil Girl from Mars (1955)

How bad is it? It's a good film marred by poor production values.
Should you see it? Yes.

The plot for this one is a teenaged boy's dream: a beautiful woman from outer space gives you the choice of going to Mars to be a breeding stud or get incinerated by a giant robot. This being Britain in the 1950's, the guys fight back. The special effects are terribly cheap - the robot especially - but the plot works, it's atmospheric, it's interesting to watch (and Hazel Court's easy on the eyes) and it moves along. It's not a bad film at all!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1972)

aka Dracula Contra Frankenstein; aka Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein; aka Dracula vs. Dr. Frankenstein; aka The Screaming Dead

How bad is it? It's not very good, but watchable.
Should you see it? Maybe on a slow night.

This is the third film with the same title in three years, but this one was directed by Jesus Franco, rather than Al Adamson. Unlike most Franco films, this one has no nudity (a shame - there's one pretty blond I was hoping would strip) and the violence is muted. This film also has a wolfman. There's little dialogue, little characterization, but plenty of attacks (though no real confrontation between Dracula and Frankenstein). The make-up is poor, as are the effects and there are too many zooms - a Franco trademark.

Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1970)

aka Assignment Terror, aka El Hombre Que Vino del Ummo

How bad is it? It's Al Adamson's best horror film... so it's not very good.
Should you see it? You could do worse.

Paul Naschy wrote and starred in nine Spanish werewolf movies, of which this was the fourth; by now you should be asking: what's a werewolf doing in a movie with this title? The plot consists of aliens who decide to take over the world by frightening the population with monsters. Call it plan 8 from outer space. This doesn't seem like an Adamson film and has two Spanish directors named, so he undoubtedly just added footage to another film, which was better than he usually made by himself. It's not unwatchable, at any rate, and is enjoyably goofy.

Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971)

aka Blood of Frankenstein, aka They're Coming to Get You

How bad is it? It's absolutely abysmal.
Should you see it? Sadly, no.

This is the second film Al Adamson made under this title, and it appears that he just used whatever ideas he had left over. Veteran horror actor J. Carrol Naish plays the owner of a carnival that has the real Frankenstein monster and Dracula; he was confined to a wheelchair and it's depressing. Dracula is played by (presumably pseudonymous) Zandor Vorkov, who sports curly hair, a goatee and a voice put through an echo chamber. The director's wife, Regina Carrol, plays the aging starlet role once again. Lon Chaney, in his last role, plays the doctor's assistant. Jim Davis, Russ Tamblyn, Angelo Rossitto and even Forrest J. Ackerman also appear - all to no avail. The film is slow. Deathly slow. Boringly, achingly slow.

Day of the Warrior (1996)

How bad is it? It's ridiculous, but passable.
Should you see it? If you're already a fan of Andy Sidaris.

This is the 8th of 10 films (I think) that Andy Sidaris made in a loosely-structured series that have at their core three standards: former Playboy and Penthouse models getting topless for little reason, hunky guys who can't hit a target at ten feet with a bazooka and a lot of explosions. The first few in the series are probably the best; by this point, the films are pure camp. This one has a professional wrestler, a stripper wearing a ski mask, a fake porn film shoot where no one gets naked, an Asian Elvis impersonator and three jokes of "something to get off my chest." Shae Marks' breasts are distractingly large and pointed at the camera like weapons, but they don't distract quite enough from the cheesiness of the film; she did one more film in the series before having some silicone removed.

I'm getting tired of reviewing breasts in movies.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dolemite (1975)

How bad is it? It may be the worst blaxploitation movie ever filmed.
Should you see it? Most assuredly.

Rudy Ray Moore was a poor man's version of Redd Foxx, doing comedy albums and some nightclub work. He decided to break into film and made this, an unintentionally hilarious film, then pretended that it was meant to be that way and so followed it up with a lesser similar work, "Human Tornado" and then "Avenging Disco Godfather" and his best (and thus least) film "Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil's Brother-in-Law." If you've seen people making fun of bad blaxploitation fight scenes, this is the film they're referencing. Dolemite gets let out of jail, only to be placed between Italian mobsters and Queen Bee's prostitution ring. He sorts things out with violence, 20 changes of clothes and a 3 minute clean version of his act that's cringe worthy. It's a blast.

Deathstalker II: Clash of the Titans (1987)

How bad is it? It's one of the worst swords and sandals films.
Should you see it? Yes.

The original film, "Deathstalker," was an over-the-top gratuitously violent film notable mostly for having Barbi Benton in it. This un-asked-for sequel was given an even smaller budget and director Jim Wynorski decided to play it for laughs. Some people absolutely loathe the constant puns and fourth wall jokes ("When people right stories of our exploits, no one will believe we were this stupid!") but I loved it. It's the 1980's version of a Hope-Crosby road movie. I laughed from start to finish. There was another sequel, but it's a dud.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Doll Squad (1973)

aka Hustler Squad

How bad is it? It's cheap and sleazy and poorly constructed and acted.
Should you see it? Yes. I enjoyed it the first time I saw it, but not the second.

Director Ted V. Mikels felt that the television show "Charlie's Angels" stole his idea, as both have three beautiful women fighting crime, usually undercover, and the smart one in each is named Sabrina. He might be right, but the similarity ends there. This is one of the most active of Mikel's films, having many fight scenes and the girls are fun to watch playing "tough." Francine York and Tura Satana look great and York's acting is fair (compared to some), but the plot is trivial and the film is often dark and grainy (the photo used above is unusually bright).

Dance Hall Racket (1953)

How bad is it? It's a mess.
Should you see it? Sure.

Timothy Farrell, who appeared in some Ed Wood films, starred as gangster Umberto Scali in three films, of which this was the last. This one was directed by Phil Tucker, most noted for "Robot Monster." The film stars Lenny Bruce, who appears to have also financed the film, and has his wife Honey (as pretty Rose) and his mother (who at one point does a very good, and extremely unneeded, Charleston dance number!) to fill out the cast. Until the last two minutes, the film is shot entirely indoors and looks like it was all done on a single sound stage. Just what the "racket" is isn't explained well; smuggled diamonds are shown and never mentioned again, white slavery also gets mentioned, but mostly it's just dime a dance taxi dancing. Bruce kills a guy and no one notices - including me; the guy just sort of collapses at the table for no reason - and they have to cover it up while the police are trying to unravel the racket.

The Deadly Bees (1966)

How bad is it? It's a fair horror film.
Should you see it? If your a fan of 1960's British horror.

There were several killer bee movies in the 1970's (some much worse than this), but Africanized honey bees were largely unknown when this film was made. Here, a scientist has created a scent that, when put on someone, causes bees to attack. The bees are stopped by the smell of ammonia (and occasionally put off briefly with smoke). The make-up effects aren't terrible, but the bees are obviously superimposed in most attack scenes. Why this is considered terrible by some, I don't know, except that it is a bit slow.

Devil's Harvest (1942)

How bad is it? It's the least of the anti-marijuana films.
Should you see it? No.

Many years after the heyday of anti-marijuana films, this one came out. A guy's selling weed from a hot dog stand across the street from a school. Each time you see a joint, there's a devil's head superimposed. The antics of people who are high are less interesting than hoped, the plot is standard police procedural.

The Deathless Devil (1973)

aka Yilmayan Seytan

How bad is it? It's extremely cheap and almost plotless.
Should you see it? Definitely.

There's a film industry in Turkey that makes mockbusters, taking current hit films and remaking them in Turkish, generally with minimal budgets. The most famous is probably a remake of Star Wars; this is a shot-for-shot remake of the 1940 Republic serial "The Mysterious Dr. Satan." Why anyone would choose that film, I can't imagine. The hero, Copperhead, is just a guy in a ski mask (see "Rat Pfink and Boo Boo") and the villain, Dr. Satan, has a great mustache and widow's peak. Dr. Satan plans to take over the world with the world's most pathetic robot, but he doesn't have the remote control, so it's Copperhead to the rescue. The film consists mostly of chase scenes and fight scenes - for once, cheap doesn't mean dull.

Devil Monster (1946)

How bad is it? It's almost entirely stock footage.
Should you see it? Not really.

This film is almost entirely taken from a 1936 fishing adventure film, with stock footage from two other films of that time added, which must've made it seem dated even in 1946. There's fight scenes between aquatic animals and a topless native girl (that somehow got past censors twice), before the climactic scene involving the titular monster, which turns out to be a giant ray, one of the least frightening creatures in the sea. There's one very funny scene at the end, as a man jumps overboard to fight the monster; now, given that the monster was filmed 10 years earlier, that means they had to superimpose him over the old footage, so he's just thrashing at water or nothing most of the time.

The Day the Earth Froze (1959)

aka The Sampo

How bad is it? The original is an average film, but it's been badly altered, for the worse.
Should you see it? If you can find the original, but don't expect much.

This films a story from the Finnish classic "Kalevala," which is not well known in the United States, so American Int'l. Pictures, when they purchased it, rewrote the dialogue and edited it, removing continuity of plot and ruining it. Mystery Science Theater 3000 ran it with their usual commentary and now it's been listed as a terrible film - but it's not. Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill would seem just as ludicrous to Finnish audiences. The plot:a witch steals the warmth of the sun and must be overcome. Why there's a dancing bear, I admit, I don't know.

Dating: Do's and Don'ts (1949)

How bad is it? It's laughably old-fashioned.
Should you see it? Yes.

A short film usually paired with the similar "Are You Popular?" this instructional film is one of the few that seems to try social engineering. It's made up of scenes of situations teenagers may face when dating and how to best deal with them. In one case, a boy's seen trying until he gets it right, showing one possibility after another. The very conservative approach - conservative even for 1949 - gives the film an awkward charm. You may have seen snippets of this on late night television talk shows.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Crazy Fat Ethel II (1987)

aka Crazy Fat Ethel 2, aka Criminally Insane 2

How bad is it? 90% of it is borrowed footage.
Should you see it? Only if you can't find a copy of "Criminally Insane."

In 1974, the film "Criminally Insane" was made on a shoestring budget and went unnoticed until it developed a cult following when it was released on videotape. It's about a woman who's obsessed with food and kills anyone who gets between her and her meal (fortunately, she doesn't resort to cannibalism). The star, Priscilla Alden, could actually act and had charisma of a sort. Thirteen years later, the same director got the same actress to play the same character, this time shot on videotape (and the difference in quality of film stock is obvious). Because of overcrowding, she's been released from the asylum she was placed in at the end of the first film and she just goes back to her old ways. The problem with the film is that it consists almost entirely of flashbacks to the earlier film, a money-saving approach taken to an extreme. This makes it the same film as before, but with the continuity missing. After this, there was another near-sequel called "Death Nurse," which is not worth more than this mention.

The Corpse Grinders (1971)

How bad is it? It's so underlit, you may not see it even when you see it.
Should you see it? Perhaps. I found it too dull.

Ted V. Mikels made a lot of bad movies (I've covered "Astro-Zombies," I'll cover others). This one has a small cult following, probably due to two unintentionally funny things. 1) The corpse grinding machine is a cardboard box. Yes - a cardboard box, barely disguised by paint and wobbling whenever there's movement nearby. 2) The cats fed cat food made from the meat coming from the corpse grinding machine then develop a taste for human flesh and attack people - in adorable sleepy cat fashion. People have to act terrified as they hold the animals close without hurting or startling them.

That sounds more entertaining than it is.

Crash of Moons (1954)

How bad is it? By one standard, it's not bad, but you'll probably think it terrible.
Should you see it? I wouldn't waste the time.

This is a three episode arc of the television show "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger." Other titles in the series are: Beyond the Moon, Blast Off, Duel in Space, Forbidden Moon, Gypsy Moon, Inferno n Space, Magnetic Moon, Menace from Outer Space, Out of the is World, Robot of Regalos, and Silver Needle in the Sky.

This strikes me as having been written as a radio serial and then filmed, but as film's a visual medium, this is a huge mistake. Rocky Jones roams the galaxy, trying to keep his family safe from disasters and evil aliens, like the later show "Lost in Space," but without the intentional camp and even a smaller budget. In this film, one moon (actually an asteroid, I think) is going to collide with another moon, which seems like a tough problem for one guy to handle. There's an action scene cliffhanger every 28 minutes, but it's not very exciting.

The Crater Lake Monster (1977)

How bad is it? It's not terrible.
Should you see it? Maybe on a slow day.

Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, though you would never know it from this film. The lake is so clean that one can see hundreds of feet down, so no one could get surprised by a monster, if one existed there. This is a standard dinosaur-on-the-loose film. The special effects are dodgy (in the one close-up of an attack, it drops to terrible obvious papier mache), but the film is okay for what it is. At the end, they fight the creature with a plow, which seems like a new idea if you haven't seen, say "Dinosaurus!" or any other similar film. At the end, when the monster's killed, there's actually a scene of excellent acting, as a man is devastated at the death of his friend in the process - in most of these films, it would be reaction shots of people rejoicing, but here the loss seems real.

Creature of the Walking Dead (1965)

aka La Marca del Muerto

How bad is it? It's not good.
Should you see it? If you're into Mexican horror films, maybe.

I've already deleted two posts about Jerry Warren films, but there will be more to come. Warren bought a south-of-the-border horror film that didn't make a lot of sense, filmed a wrap-around story to splice it into, and released it as a new work, a common practice that was profitable. A man reincarnates his grandfather, who then kills him and then needs to keep killing to stay alive. It's slow. The new footage doesn't help, either.