Friday, July 31, 2015

Invincible Space Streaker (1977)

How bad is it? It's one of the worst "sentai" superhero films.
Should you see it? Only if you're a huge fan of the genre.

Chinese (Taiwan, not Hong Kong) versions of Japanese genres tend to be awful. This film involves a lot of little boys peeing, for some reason. It also involves werewolves and ninja bikers. Kids get turned into animals, but one ends up with an antenna and then later becomes a superhero who then fights an endless array of goofy bad guys. You know... the usual. The plot doesn't work because the bad guys aren't bad enough and they're easily dominated by children.

Intrepidos Punks (1980)

How bad is it? It's a Mexican punk biker movie - three kinds of bad.
Should you see it? Yes, if you enjoy exploitation films, it's a sure bet.

This is really just a biker film, where the gang parties, terrorizes the locals and gets stopped in the end by the cops. On the other hand, it's so outlandishly staged as to be quite entertaining. There's a scene where nuns reveal themselves to be in disguise - underneath are enormous perms, fake boobs and garish clothes and make-up. The film bogs down whenever the cops are on the screen, but there's just so much weirdness due to being what passed for punk in Mexico at the time. Th most amazing thing about this film is that it looks like a "Road Warrior" clone, but was actually filmed before it - though not released until 1988. There was even a sequel, which I haven't tracked down.

In Hot Pursuit (1977)

aka Polk County Pot Plane

How bad is it? It's like an episode of "Dukes of Hazzard" with marijuana.
Should you see it? No (which is good, because it's hard to find).

Apparently based on an actual incident, this is essentially one long chase scene and the film proudly states that no professional stuntmen were involved. No actors were involved either. It's incredibly low budget and that causes some minor amusement, particularly when a "safe" is obviously a cardboard box. The music is odd (the theme song in particular), the direction minimal to nonexistent and the stereotypical dialogue is sometimes hard to understand because of accents and mic placement.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Horror Safari (1982)

aka Invaders of the Lost Gold

How bad is it? It's among the worst Italian horror/adventure films.
Should you see it? No.

Japanese soldiers are attacked by cannibals in the Philippines and the few survivors stash treasure they're transporting. Decades later, a ragtag crew of stereotypes (Stuart Whitman, Woody Strode, Harold Sakata and Laura Gemser) go to recover it. There's huge plot holes - Gemser dies while swimming for no reason, for example - and after the opening scene, there's little explicit violence; people tend to die by their own inept misadventures. There's a rubber crocodile. There's also a plot twist that's quite predictable.

Hitler - Dead or Alive (1942)

How bad is it? It's the nadir of Hollywood propaganda films.
Should you see it? Sure. It's tackiness is enjoyable.

I didn't include "Red Nightmare" or some other propaganda disguised as storytelling films, but this one is enjoyable on its own merits. Gangsters, offered a $1,000,000 bounty on Hitler, get dropped into Germany. Hitler's moustache gets shaved off to show a scar that proves he's not a double and then people who've known him for years no longer recognize him - and execute him (then a double apparently replaced him for the duration of the war). The dialogue in this is often laugh out loud funny.

Helga: She Wolf of Spilberg (1977)

How bad is it? It aspires to be confused with trash - and fails.
Should you see it? No.

I admitted in one of my first reviews that I liked Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S. (but none of its sequels); this film wants to be confused with it (as did Elsa - Fraulein S.S., also in 1977), but it's much like every other women-in-a-nazi-prison-camp film, with the typical nudity and sadism. This one is quite tame, especially for an Italian film of the era, but the women tend to be more attractive than usual. The film is very repetitive and the requisite escape/revenge finale seems cold. I deleted six posts of other similar films, but this one gets points for its title; oddly, the film eschews all Nazi regalia and seems to be in a banana republic in the 1970's in the Balkans (which is as realistic as anything else in this film).

The Haunted Sea (1997)

How bad is it? It's about the same as "Ghost Ship" - quite bad - but better than "Haunted Boat."
Should you see it? No.

Abandoned boat has a rubbery lizard monster on board, which is supposed to be Quetzlcoatl (misspelled in the film), the Aztec deity. The film is hopelessly padded, particularly with naked scenes of Krista Allen (who also is quite padded). There's no suspense, no characterization, no production values, just a surprise ending that's cringeworthy.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Graveyard of Horror (1971)

aka The Butcher of Binbrook, aka Necrophagus

How bad is it? It's very confusing and rather tepid.
Should you see it? I think so. If you hang in there, it can be rewarding.

Horror in Spain in 1971 meant no nudity and no gore and not much blood. This film's complex plot is filmed in a back-and-forth time frame, so you don't really know what's going on for most of the film and I think that's why it fails. Man returns home (to ancestral estate) to find his brother missing, his wife dead, people acting mysteriously... so he digs up his dead wife and gets attacked in the process. That's where things get complicated. There's a mad scientist, a lizard-man and a surprise ending. There's some technical flaws - the season changes a lot - but the plot does hold together if you make yourself think about it long enough.

Golden Temple Amazons (1986)

How bad is it? It's one of the tamer, but odder and less competent, Jess Franco films.
Should you see it? Hmm. Okay. Mildest possible yes.

Written by Jesus Franco and at least partly directed by him, this is the story of a girl whose parents were killed by Amazons and seeks revenge when she becomes an adult. Though the film is supposed to be in Africa, the Amazons are white and the locations look like the Philippines. There's a lot of catfights and nearly continuous gratuitous toplessness, a pet monkey and a witch doctor, naked cave exploration and a surprisingly smutty elephant ride. It's tame by Franco standards, suggesting he was called in to fix a problem film.

The Glove (1979)

How bad is it? It's a low point for many actors involved.
Should you see it? Yes. The cast is worth it alone.

John Saxon plays a cop tracking down escaped prisoner Rosey Grier, who dons a 5 lb. metal glove that was used to beat him in prison and is using it to retaliate against his captors. Joanna Cassidy, Joan Blondell, Jack Carter, Aldo Ray, Keenan Wynn and Michael Pataki all appear. It was directed by character actor Ross Hagen. Rosey tears the doors off a Ford Pinto. Saxon does one-leg push-ups with his daughter on his back. There's secret tape recordings. There's guitar lessons. There's a scene in a slaughterhouse where people hit each other with slabs of meat. I think this film is why I needed a 4th pass through contenders; I almost missed it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

How bad is it? It's a poor sequel to an already questionable film.
Should you see it? Nah.

Nic Cage does his over-the-top best to keep this film moving - and watching him pee fire is amusing - but  this film looks like it was cobbled together quickly to cash in on the surprise success of the first Ghost Rider film. The plot, such as it is, is stupid and not worth explaining, as the film exists solely for CGI effects and stuff getting blowed-up real good (as Billy Sol Hurok might say [look it up]). The dialogue has some real howlers and it's always good to see Idris Elba and Eva Mendes. I'm including this film because there's a possibility it might develop a cult so-bad-it's-good following someday, though it's really like an overlong music video.

Frankenstein vs. the Creature from Blood Cove (2005)

How bad is it? It's a barely-passable low-budget throwback to the Universal monster glory days.
Should you see it? Sure. It's crap, but it's endearing crap.

The director of "The Double-D Avenger" went on to make this film, which didn't go straight to video. Renegade scientists revive the Frankenstein monster and a Creature from the Black Lagoon-ish monster and plan to control them and use them for good, but the amphibious creature escapes and starts attacking people on the beach. The Frankenstein monster is then sent out to stop it. It's a little like a classic Universal monster film, done very cheaply, updated with more nudity and violence. It's not good - the acting especially is iffy - but it's quite watchable (and light years beyond his first film in quality).

Fist of Honor (1993)

How bad is it? Rock-bottom martial arts film.
Should you see it? No.

I'm not a fan of PM Entertainment, which made a lot of bad action films; this is probably the most enjoyable of their films. An actor you've never heard of plays a character named "Fist," a debt collector who specializes in a pub-drunk style of martial arts. He gets in the middle of a mob war and fights his way out. No plot happens for the first hour, but there are a lot of fights, badly choreographed and sometimes amusing (a slippery floor makes one scene silly). Abe Vigoda, Bubba Smith and Harry Guardino appear - they're pointed out on the cover of the DVD - but they're not the stars.

Fear Chamber (1968)

How bad is it? It's ludicrous and, for Karloff fans, a bit sad.
Should you see it? Yes, if you can find a good copy.

Until recently, Boris Karloff's last 4 films were rarely seen and this is probably the one to catch. Scientists find a living rock under a volcano, which happens to be telepathic and also needs the chemicals human bodies produce when frightened in order to live (go figure). There's a dwarf and a giant, a sadistic lesbian, an eastern mystic, Boris Karloff doing almost all his scenes from bed, a go-go dancer getting manhandled by a tentacled rock and a lot of screaming. The Karloff scenes, directed by Jack Hill, are much better than the rest of the film in quality.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fat Slags

How bad is it? It easily surpasses "Howard the Duck" as worst comic-based film.
Should you see it? No.

This is a tough one for me to review, as I've never seen the comic strip on which it's based; most of the extremely negative reviews out there are based on the fact that it doesn't adhere to the rules of the world of the comic. The two stars, in prosthetic suits, vacantly gape at the camera. People try to do northern British country accents and fail; the humor is largely based on class distinctions, which stopped working about 1970. This film will probably be remembered as the lowest point for the people involved, which include Jerry O'Connell, Gerri Halliwell and Naomi Campbell. Only 75 minutes long, I checked my watch several times, so it was a chore to sit through.

Dr. Alien (1989)

How bad is it? It's the second-best David DeCoteau film - so it's pretty bad.
Should you see it? Yes. It's looniness actually works.

Judy Landers stars as an alien who does experiments on a nerdy college student, which turn him into a sexual dynamo. A dynamo with a rubbery worm-like phallic antenna when aroused, but it's still an improvement. Released by Full Moon, this is DeCoteau's best film after "Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama" and came well before his films became just excuses to show men in their underpants. Not only scream queens Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer appear, but also porn star Ginger Lynn, Edy Williams and (briefly) Troy Donahue! It's a cheap tits-and-laffs film, but the humor often works and it's briskl paced.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Do Or Die (1991)

How bad is it? It's one of the more extreme Andy Sidaris films (in other words,not good).
Should you see it? Yes, perhaps after seeing some other Sidaris films first.

Andy Sidaris films are filled with large fake breasts, remote controlled toys, explosions where no one gets hurt, shootouts and just enough plot to hold together. This one has Erik Estrada returning, plus Pat Morita as the bad guy. Usual topless agents Dona Speir, Roberta Vasquez and Cynthia Brimhall return and are out-sized by stripper Pandora Peaks (who, if you know from anything other than the Demi Moore film "Striptease," means you have a fetish). Six pairs of killers hunt the LETHAL team, who are given a head start. There's the most questionable tracking device in film history used; though, given that the film seems to be in Hawaii, L.A., Vegas and Shreveport at the same time, maybe it's not the device's problem.

The Dirt Gang (1972)

How bad is it? It's one of the least biker gang films. IMDB rating of 1.7.
Should you see it? No.
This was one of the last biker films made by A.I.P., directed by Jerry Jameson, who mostly edited and directed TV episodes after this. Character actors Paul Carr, Michael Pataki and Lee de Broux are the main interest. A bike gang, using Husqvarna dirt bikes (and wearing appropriate leathers and helmets) attack a film crew in a desert and subject them to the usual degradations. There's nudity and violence, but nothing interesting.

The Deadly Organ (1967)

aka Feast of Flesh, aka Placer Sangriento

How bad is it? It's a bit dull, very weird, illogical and dated.
Should you see it? Yes. "Argentina's Ed Wood" should be better known.

This film has really interesting camerawork and an interesting feel - that alone makes it better than almost anything else I've reviewed here. A man lures women with his hypnotic organ music and then injects them with heroin to make them his sex slaves. He eventually dispatches them with an over-sized hypo to the chest. The dubbing is very bad and the 1960's dialogue is coolsville, dig? the most ridiculous scene has the police using LSD as truth serum (or maybe when the police use a girl as bait and just let her die). This was the first film by Argentina's only well-known horror director; his later efforts, though still tacky, are a bit more polished.

The Deadly Females (1976)

How bad is it? It's dreadful.
Should you see it? No.

A woman sets up a team of housewives to be hired assassins of men who cheat on their spouses. It's talky, poorly shot and the actual sex and violence is boring. The scene of the guy with a nun fetish looks like it might go somewhere, but it's a brief shot of nudity and then an uninteresting killing, just like the rest of the film. The director seems to think he's making some social commentary, which just makes it drearier.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Day of the Panther (1988)

How bad is it? Well, it's better than it's sequel, which I covered before, but it's terrible.
Should you see it? Yes. It's just wrong enough to be entertaining.

"Strike of the Panther" was the sequel to this Van Damme vehicle wannabe and I liked it enough to catch the original. There's a great fight scene with a broom handle. There's an erotic dance sequence that ends up being comical. There's loud 1980's fashion. The plot is the standard infiltration of a secret organization to take it down through martial arts deal; you've seen it before, you've seen it better done, but Aussie Edward John Stazak has some charm and can actually fight.

Dark Universe (1993)

How bad is it? Made by Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski and one of their worst.
Should you see it? Possibly. It has some laughs, so if it's a slow night...

A monster from outer space tags along with a spacecraft that lands in Florida. There's  a rubber suit lizard which turns other creatures into killers. The killer armadillo is funny, the killer zombies are not. There's killer spores, Joe Estevez, stock footage, gratuitous breasts (thanks, Jim, you made it a trademark), stereotypes, long talky bits, long dull stretches, bad music, bad effects, a photo of William Grefe and cinematography that makes you notice how substandard it is.

Crackerjack 3 (2000)

How bad is it? It's bare minimum action film making.
Should you see it? No.

The third Crackerjack film has a third star in the lead role, this time stooping to Bo Svenson. Here, a group of retired spies try to recover a stolen neutron bomb. The film is dull and talky, with poorly staged action scenes and the only entertainment value is spotting the logical errors and plot holes. There's not enough to make it truly enjoyable, just irritated that no one bothered to put some effort behind this.

Crackerjack 2 (1997)

aka Hostage Train

How bad is it? It's one of the worst "Die Hard" rip-offs.
Should you see it? Not really.

The original Crackerjack was just okay, but this sequel is an exact copy (excepting quality) of "Die Hard" - or maybe "Under Siege." This time it's up to Judge Reinhold (poor casting) to rescue Carol Alt (poor casting) and others from Michael Sarrazin (okay casting, but Chris Plummer did the original) from a train held hostage in a tunnel. North American Pictures seems to have made a bunch of similar films. The fight scenes are poor; Reinhold pauses to do martial arts poses, which just reminds you that he's in his underwear... and is Judge Reinhold. This has no connection to the first film, except for the name of the main character and it's best attribute is that it's not Crackerjack 3, which is way worse.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Interview: Ira Brooker

Ira caught my attention when I saw in a post on "Rupert Pupkin Speaks" that, like me, he'd seen "Godmonster of Indian Flats" - and liked it. Then I saw that we live in the same town and had some other common interests. He's gainfully employed as a writer and editor, is married with a child and has a group of long-term friends he keeps close; in other words, he's a successful version of me.

This interview, unedited, was done on Twitter.
I haven't done an interview on my blog in quite a while. Would you care to answer about 10 questions on the subject of bad films?
I'd love to! I'm working on a profile of local trash film series right now, so it'd be good for my street cred. Thanks for asking.
The warm-up task: 1) In five minutes, name as many prolific directors as bad as Ed Wood as you can.
With the caveat that I genuinely appreciate most of these folks, William Beaudine, Andy Milligan, Michael and Roberta Findlay, Ray Dennis
Steckler and Coleman Francis.
Oh, can I scratch Steckler in favor of Dwain Esper?
And swap the Findlays for Al Adamson?
Oh wait, I misread the question. No need for swapping. Although I'm having second thoughts about calling the Findlays bad. Ah well.
2) You may have seen more Andy Milligan films than anyone else. Why?! Is it like when I watched all 250 films with John Carradine in them?
I don't know if it's quite the same. I'm a bit of a Carradine hound too, but when I watch even his worst movies I'm waiting for the splash
of beautiful, bloviating Carradinery I know is coming. It's fun. Andy Milligan movies are not fun. But I love watching them anyway, because
Milligan was such a unique voice with an inimitable personal style. His world is hateful and ugly and horrifying and I find all of that
fascinating. None of his movies works more than sporadically as entertainment but a good number of them work as art.
(There are still a handful of surviving Milligan films that I haven't seen, but only because I haven't been able to track them down.)
I've seen 11 Milligan films, though I despise them (and he was from St. Paul!) I should try again as I've survived Ulli Lommel's worst.
3) In the bad film made about your life, why is the man in the gorilla suit on fire?
Because the director understood that nothing would honor my memory better than shoehorning in a Duke Mitchell-Sammy Petrillo reference
that'd be lost on 99% of the audience.
[And yeah, it bothers me that no one from here seems to care that we birthed something like Andy Milligan. Where's Andy's statue?]
[I just did a post on a Bill Cody B western. He was from St. Paul, too!] 4) Doris Wishman or Roberta Findlay? (I think I know...)
Roberta Findlay, all day, every day. In fact, I desperately want to backtrack on calling the Findlays bad filmmakers a few questions ago.
The Findlays made many bad, very bad, movies, but they were always opportunists, not hacks. Roberta in particular is one of the savviest
directors in the history of exploitation cinema. She knows how to give the people exactly what they want without giving them so much of it
that it'll exceed a shoestring budget. You don't make trash as perfect as TENEMENT if you don't have a pretty damn good idea of what you're
doing. I honestly think Roberta Findlay is one of the most important female directors of her era. I hope someday she's recognized as such.
But she doesn't desultorily get shots of carpeting and knickknacks during conversations like Doris did! I once got a Findlay film for the U
Film Society and it had to be cash only with her and the film was hand-delivered by a guy in a trenchcoat and sunglasses.
5) I find trash to be a solitary endeavor. Do you have friends that would watch "White Slaves of Chinatown" with you? What's your wife say?
When did you work for UFS? I was the writer/PR guy/Milgrom wrangler from '98-'00. One of the best jobs I've ever had.
5) I usually watch my trash alone too, but I do have one pal with whom I watch all sorts of shameful stuff. He lives elsewhere so we don't
get to indulge often, but when he's in town we always set aside at least one night to dig in the dirt. It's a rare thing to find
someone who's up for that. (Even he draws the line at Andy Milligan, though.)
My wife generally ignores that aspect of my arts intake, although she will occasionally sit down and watch with me if it's something
post-apocalyptic or action-heavy.
I never really worked at UFS (or anywhere, for that matter), but they were doing exploitation and I had some connections.
6) Is there anything you absolutely refuse to watch?
I can't do modern "torture porn" (which I know is a problematic term) or anything of recent vintage where extreme sadism drives the movie.
For some reason I have no problem with the darker corners of '60s, '70s and '80s cinema but even reading descriptions of modern stuff like,
say, COLLAR or CHAOS or even higher-minded things like MARTYRS or INSIDE turns me off completely. Also, I have no time for winking,
self-aware "bad movies" of the SyFy Original ilk. Those things are an insult to true trash auteurs.
(Oh, and thinking of the sleazier corners of the '70s and '80s reminds me Joe D'Amato belongs on that list of bad directors.)
I stopped with D'Amato around "Anal Paprika;" besides Ator and Blade Master, he seems to have gone hard-core.
We'll always have ANTHROPOPHAGUS...
I've seen so many films with that title that I forget which one is his.
7) How would you describe your blog? It reminds me of my first one, where I profiled failed geniuses one day, explained how to make Vitamin
B-12 at home with six compatible organisms the next and then explained how to write in the undecipherable Voynich B language. No one read it
That does sound like a similar focus, or lack thereof. When I started A Talent for Idleness the idea was to catalog all of my pop culture
intake, but that got tiresome and it quickly turned into a clearinghouse for essays about underappreciated or bizarre bits of art, lists of
songs and movies that are primarily of interest to an audience of me, and the dissection of every minute aspect of Lou Reed's career.
Over the 6 years that I've been maintaining it, the writing landscape has changed a ton. The market for a lot of things that I used to be
able to sell to or at least publish on external sites stopped existing, so instead I post that stuff on my blog.
I mean, it's not like I have the option of NOT writing about Tommy James's weird '90s concept album.
Okay, now I have to tout some of my favorite posts from my "running" blog. First:
Where were we? 8) If someone were new to the world of bad films, where would you suggest they start (and don't say Milligan)?
Man, never apologize for self-promotion. Gotta have your hustle in this modern world. This is keen stuff, especially that last piece about
Jenny. (Although I am feeling a tad runner-shamed now - I haven't been out running for a week.)
This is a huge question because bad cinema is such a big umbrella. Your Spaghetti Western people are not always your ’50s monster movie
people, for instance. Loving a late ‘60s sex comedy doesn’t mean you’re going to love a psychedelic biker flick from the same year. Heck,
even people who love ‘80s American slasher films might not be able to dig into their nastier Euro counterparts. I guess I’d say start with
what you like best and work backwards – whatever genre of “good” films you’re into, I guarantee there’s a deep well of “bad” counterparts
and knock-offs that you can track down online. Start a Letterboxd account and find some trash aficionados to follow. A good chunk of my
discoveries lately have come from Letterboxd reviews. Dig into the Mystery Science Theater 3000 archive and notice which movies seem like
they’d be actually kind of enjoyable even without the riffing. You can usually follow a director or an actor down a bad movie rabbit hole
from there. But if I had to pick just one gateway, I suppose I’d say Larry Cohen. He’s a legitimately excellent writer and director who’s
worked primarily on the trashy end of the spectrum and covered a wide range of genres. Cohen movies have all the earmarks of bad cinema, but
the man makes good movies that aren’t going to scare away the neophytes. GOD TOLD ME TO is my personal favorite of his.
That was such a cogent answer, I think I'll stop there, even if it was only 8 questions. I'll probably post this as is (unless I spot a typo
) soon.
 I think the 12-13 people who read this blog would get he Sammy Petrillo reference, but here's my review of that particular film:
"Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper" didn't make this blog because I thought it worked pretty well for a gore film.
Ira's blog post he mentions is at