Sunday, August 9, 2015

That's a wrap!

This concludes my survey of terrible films. The process was much like trying to find gravy in a cesspool, but I did actually find some enjoyable trash. Of course, there's no end to bad films and there's a lot I didn't cover, some of which I regret missing.

There's a few films that kept getting cut from my list: "The Car," "The Day the Clown Cried," "The Betsy," "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Ghost in the Noonday Sun." The WW II era "Black Dragons," "First Yank Into Tokyo" and (somewhat later) "Red Nightmare" could've been listed, as well as some serials like "Queen of the Jungle" and "Phantom Empire." The high school hooker trilogy of "Angel" films and the Cheri Caffaro "Ginger" films deserve mention, as do films based on novels by Harold Robbins or Jackie Collins. I skipped a lot of poverty row - mostly Monogram and PRC - films, such as "The Ape Man" and "The Brute Man" because they're just too good.

I intentionally skipped hardcore porn, Italian gore after 1970, Japanese gore after 1980, instructional films and cinema verite' and yet I veered very close to some of those.

In many cases, I let one film represent an entire oeuvre of a director. The site is searchable and, if your favorite film isn't listed, try searching the director's name. Directors that I wish I had covered:

Albert Pyun
Victor Adamson (his son Al's all over the blog)
George and Mike Kuchar
Irving Klaw
Joseph P. Mawra
Michael and Roberta Findlay (one film made the blog)
Kroger Babb
J. R. Bookwalter
Joe D'Amato
S.F. Brownrigg
Tim Kincaid
Don Glut (I want to see "Dragstrip Dracula")
Zalman King

Perhaps I'll return to finish off those omissions, but for now, I need to do something else.

Vengeance of the Zombies (1973)

How bad is it? It's filmed well, not uninteresting and has Paul Naschy.
Should you see it? Yes, but not because it's terrible, but because it has a little of everything.

Paul Naschy wrote and starred in a ton of Spanish films, most involving werewolves. In this one, a mystic raises women from the dead to commit revenge killings. The cinematography's good, the costumes are good, some effects are good... so why does anyone call this a bad movie? Well, there is some overacting, a chicken gets its head cut off (and later a guy has his throat slit), the background music doesn't fit, there's a horned Satan drinking blood from a golden cup, evil twins, grave robbing, voodoo dolls, a scene in a slaughterhouse and one or two plot problems. I think it's actually one of the more enjoyable Naschy vehicles; I mean, compared to, say, "Dracula vs. Frankenstein."

Velvet Smooth (1976)

How bad is it? It's almost a female "Dolemite."
Should you see it? If you love bad blaxploitation, this one has its moments.
A female detective is hired by a mobster to find out who is stealing his action. She ends up kicking a lot of ass. This has all the hideous clothes and slum exteriors you'd expect, plus interiors where you can see the boom mike and the walls move when a door shuts. Each scene looks like it was done entirely from one perspective, often from a weird angle with things obstructing views. The fights are terrible, with blows missing by almost a foot. The theme song's a hoot, there's a twist ending and Rory Calhoun makes an appearance.

Vampire Woman (1996)

How bad is it? It's a home movie and not a good one. And it's interminable.
Should you see it? Nononononononononononononono.

The few people who read this blog probably know more about David "Rock" Nelson than I do. Rocky's films are made on camcorders (from the 1980's), usually unscripted, using friends and neighbors as cast and rarely if ever edited. He often talks over the dialogue while he shoots, not narrating, not giving direction, just rambling. When a scene is blown, he doesn't reshoot and he often keeps filming, so you get people stepping out of character to comment on something not working.

When looking for one of his films to review, I was told "Vampire Woman" was his "magnum opus" (it is over four hours long) and the one to see because "it has a plot." I'm not sure what that plot was. The film took years to make, but that didn't lead to additional continuity errors, because there is no continuity. Nelson's films are only legally available sold directly by him, but when I poked around for this, someone sent me PayPal account info and a URL and a time - my introduction to the "dark web" and a more interesting event than the film itself.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Vampire Killer Barbys (1996)

How bad is it? It's a typical Jess Franco film, which is never a good thing.
Should you see it? Don't go out of your way, but yes, if it's at hand and you're bored.

The Killer Barbies were an actual band in real life and this film was meant to bring them greater notice (It didn't work. "Killer Barbys vs Dracula," a sequel, didn't help). A band gets stuck where there's a countess who stays young with a method that involves killing young people. There's plenty of gore and nudity, dwarves, cannibals, dummies used as dead bodies, unsuccessful day-for-night shots, no continuity and the film doesn't really go anywhere. Director Jesus Franco proves he can make films exactly the same in the 1990's as he did in the 1960's. Still, it's a much better title than usual and it's not unwatchable.

The Urge to Kill (1989)

aka Attack of the Killer Computers

How bad is it? It's cheesiness is legendary.
Should you see it? Yes, if you can find it.

A record producer's house is run by a computer called S.E.X.Y. When women arrive there, the computer becomes jealous of them, for reasons never explained, and kills them. One woman is scalded in the shower until she can sluice down the drain (never mind the impossibility). Another, under a tanning lamp, has her breasts explode. The computer calls dominatrix escorts to come entertain our hero and they wrestle while making cat noises (an actual cat fight). There's a mudbath, attacking computer with an ax and a naked woman painted green. There's nothing resembling acting and some remarkably bad dialogue. It's just so wrong-headed that it becomes enjoyable.

Trash Humpers (2009)

How bad is it? It's about people who literally hump trash. It's intentionally awful.
Should you see it? Tough call. It might be art, but I don't think you need to see it.

From the director that gave us "Gummo" and "Julien Donkey-Boy" comes his most regressive film yet. Filmed on cheap tape, actors pretending to be elderly (in very unconvincing make-up) but not succeeding appear in random scenes involving trash, toys and occasional nudity and profanity. It's a bit like David Lynch making "Blair Witch Project." It's a waste of time, but it is different.

Trancers 6 (2002)

How bad is it? Meh. It's about what you'd expect from the 6th of any series.
Should you see it? No.

Eighteen years since Charles Band's original film comes a sequel that doesn't even have the main actor, Tim Thomerson (or Helen Hunt, for that matter). He was getting pretty old for the role, but here they pull a Dr. Who switcheroo and have his spirit inhabit the body of his daughter (who I think is also his great-grandmother in this confusing plot). The humor of the film is having a diminutive shy girl suddenly acting like the super-macho Jack Deth; that humor works... a little. The budget of this was obviously low - it's a Full Moon product, after all - and it shows, though the film was adequately directed. Oh, there's a plot... Jack has to save his daughter in a knife fight and also syringe Trancers (a sort of mind-controlled deformed zombie).

Friday, August 7, 2015

Stag Night of the Dead (2010)

How bad is it? Typical straight to video zombie comedy.
Should you see it? No. Watch "Shaun of the Dead" again instead.
The only interesting thing about this film is that we've won the battle against the zombie apocalypse at the start of the film. The few that are left are used in a game whose main rule is: Don't humiliate a zombie. That rule gets broken, of course, by guys having a stag party. The humor isn't great, the effects aren't great, the acting and direction aren't great, but nothing's really terrible. It's just there.

Shut Up and Shoot (2006)

How bad is it? It's a failed comedy, my least-favorite kind of film.
Should you see it? No.

A movie producer first plans to steal copies of the competition to give his film a bigger opening, than to kill the other producers so he can take all the profits. It's meant to be a satire on Hollywood - but that's been a million times, and always better - and it's only draw is the cast: Gary Busey, Joe Estevez, Joe Cortese, Tom Sizemore, Daniel Baldwin. There's a musical number. There's fake films like "Amish Heat," which isn't as funny as any from the show "30 Rock" (e.g. "Sherlock Homey." "MILF Island"). The only interesting thing is that each murder is an homage to a better Hollywood film.

Shaolin Popey (1994)

How bad is it? Well, the title's misspelled, for one thing. It's alright.
Should you see it? If a Taiwanese children's film is what you want, yes.

If you want to see a bald child martial artist, seek no further. It's a story of a boy pursuing a girl, only to find that his female friend/sidekick is the one that's right for him. This film was recommended as an example for Chu Yen-ping's films, which have a reputation for weirdness. There's a video game that comes to life. There's firecrackers in a bed as a prank. There's a lot of juvenile humor. It's not bad as far as kid's films go - I mean, look at "Mac and Me" or "Nukie," for example.

Sex Lives of the Potato Men (2004)

How bad is it? It's crude and the juvenile jokes fail.
Should you see it? Maybe. If the British sex version of "Jackass" appeals to you.
Two guys who deliver potatoes to restaurants for a living will do anything for sex. Anything. Filled with fart and penis jokes, where the number 69 automatically is supposed to be funny, this has a very British feel - the stuffy British attitudes toward sex get skewered and it's a bit like a Confessions of a Window Cleaner, but with no actual nudity and sex that's completely uninvolving. Ugly drunks doing what most films have beautiful people doing is not necessarily funny, but I found myself watching this, wondering what depravity it would hit next, and enjoying it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Santa's Summer House (2012)

How bad is it? It's not as terrible as I expected.
Should you see it? Not really. It's nothing interesting.

After covering about twenty Christmas films, mostly god-awful (that Ice Cream Bunny still hurts), I found one directed by David DeCoteau, whose name appears all over this blog, with a cast of action stars and Chris Mitchum (who I thought died, quite frankly) as Santa. People get lost driving in the fog and end up at, well, Santa's Summer House. They play croquet for about eight minutes of the film, for no reason other than to fill screen time. Cynthia Rothrock is Mary Claus and action stars Gary Daniels, Daniel Bernhardt, Kathy Long plus a couple others are their guests. It's a typically syrupy Xmas special. You keep waiting for action, given the cast, but there is none.

Runaway Car (1997)

How bad is it? TV movie, implausible to the extreme, with poor acting.
Should you see it? It's actually enjoyably stupid, so yes.

A car has some serious malfunction: it can't stop, it's speeding up to 100 mph (which looks to be maybe 55-60), the doors won't unlock and there's even a baby on board. There's some serious script problems and some continuity errors (the car hood, notably) and some atrocious acting, but the biggest problem is the harebrained rescue - the baby gets winched out through the sunroof by a remote-controlled plane - and then that plan gets abandoned for the others, who end up just walking away. "Based on a true story!"

The Rig (2010)

How bad is it? It's derivative and terrible.
Should you see it? No.
This is all you see of the monster in the film.

People on an oil rig get attacked by a monster. End of story. It's dull and predictable, with unneeded flashbacks and a storm that has continuity problems. The characters are undeveloped, there's no tension, but it looks like it had a decent budget.

Revenge of Billy the Kid (1992)

How bad is it? It's intentionally trashy, crude and disgusting.
Should you see it? Yes. It's a classic of its kind.
That chicken blowed up real good.
A farmer, trying to increase goat milk production, resorts to bestiality and a human baby with a goat head is the result. Then the film gets weirder, sicker and nastier. There's a very funny funeral, way too many fart jokes, sex with lard as lubrication, three kids named Ronald (one female) and a rampaging sock puppet. If you liked "Bad Taste" and "Evil Dead II" this will be right up your alley.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Repo Jake (1990)

How bad is it? It's Dan Haggerty's second-worst (after "Elves").
Should you see it? It's not easy to find - and not worth the effort - but, yes, if you find it.
Dan Haggerty plays the nicest repo man in history; even after throwing a guy through a window, he picks him up and wishes him a good day. The main character moves from Minnesota to Los Angeles to make money and enter a demolition derby. He repo's the car of a bad guy who bets on him to win the derby and says he'll kill him if he doesn't. The demolition derby isn't great, but there's a climactic race at the end that, despite editing problems, is pretty entertaining. There must've been a ton of out of work stuntmen for this to have been made. The film ping-pongs between action scenes that have nothing to do with the plot and dull talky bits of actors delivering poorly written lines.

Rattlers (1976)

How bad is it? It's one of the lesser animals attack films.
Should you see it? If it shows up late at night on TV.

Toxic waste turns rattlesnakes extra-extra-deadly, rather than just deadly and that seems to be the excuse for them to behave like snakes never do. They bite through tires. They stalk people.  It's hard to get a snake to act on command, so the attack scenes are all stagey. A woman takes a bath for no reason other than that makes for a cool attack scene. The guys investigating the case just head off to Las Vegas for no reason (all on film) and then come back - we apparently get to see their vacation video. It's too dull to be entertaining, and not bad enough to be entertaining.

Please Don't Eat the Babies (1983)

aka Island Fury

How bad is it? Once again: Great title for a pedestrian film. It's by-the-numbers horror.
Should you see it? No.

This film manages to blend two uninteresting plotlines. In one, two women are forced to go to an island and help find buried treasure; in the other, the same women, when they were still girls encounter a cannibalistic family on the same island. It's nice to see Hank Worden get work, but the rest of the cast is not good. There's big bugs, earthquakes, a pitchfork-wielding killer... the film is all over the place. Nothing is particularly scary and there are a few moments that elicit an unintended chuckle or two.

Ninja Cheerleaders (2008)

How bad is it? Not nearly as good/bad as the title suggests.
Should you see it? You can skip this one.

This has a delightfully tacky premise: college cheerleaders desperate to get into Brown learn martial arts from a guy who owns a strip club and has problems with the mob. The three lead actresses are all quite attractive, but none are seen without clothes, which just might be a first for this kind of film (there are brief shots of topless strippers used to punctuate scenes in an odd way). The fight scenes are not good - editing was used to keep the stars from having to actually do anything. The only draw for this film is the male cast members: George Takei, Michael Pare', Eric Stonestreet. The film is knowingly tongue-in-cheek, rather than an attempt to make a serious film, perhaps a low-rent version of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

Night of the Wilding (1990)

How bad is it? Direct to video with Erik Estrada and Joey Travolta. Nuff said.
Should you see it? Only if it just happens to be playing and only for one scene.

Erik Estrada plays a high power attorney (never lost a case) who defends three teens who assaulted people just as a break from boredom. The opposing counsel is, of course, a woman with whom he has a romantic connection; that's just how predictable this is. There's not a lot going for this, but not a lot wrong, either, except for a few unintentional laughs and one truly preposterous stunt, where a car rolls in a baseball field dugout, jumps the backstop (defying physics and logic) and lands on the infield.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Mutant on the Bounty (1989)

How bad is it? Another good title wasted on dreck. It's intentionally bad.
Should you see it? No.

This was actually recommended by Joe Bob Briggs, who used to be reliable (that ended with "Double-D Avenger"). It's a terrible science fiction comedy. It starts off reasonably; spaceship encounters a transporter signal, there's a malfunction, they beam aboard mutated killer monster. Then the captain has a heart attack. The onboard android, with microwave oven parts, switches between personalities. Then armed robbers board to get a ceramic dog full of a toxin (yeah, that seems tacked on). None of it follows logically, the acting is horrendous and the intentional humor fails.

The Majorettes (1987)

How bad is it? It's a pretty typical slasher by people whose pedigrees suggest better.
Should you see it? No.

This film has a lot of what made Halloween famous, was filmed a year earlier, but released later; what it lacks is quality, despite several people involved who were partly responsible for "Night of the Living Dead." A killer in army fatigues is killing high school majorettes; there's a plethora of red herring possible suspects and the real killer has no motivation. The film changes direction midway from a cut-and-paste slasher to a revenge film and it's messy and disorienting. The death scenes are poorly done, the dialogue is substandard even for the genre and the acting is universally wooden - it's like they filmed a table reading of the script. There are a few bits so bad as to be amusing, but too few.

Mad Foxes (1981)

How bad is it? It's a lower rung biker film, with terrible plot (dis)continuity.
Should you see it? If you can handle extreme exploitation, yes.

Guy gets into fight with Nazi bikers (and this was filmed in Austria or Germany) and a biker dies, so the bikers beat him and rape his girlfriend. Then the guy gets friends from martial arts school to attack the bikers (a penis gets severed). The bikers than attack the martial arts school with machine guns and grenades, but the guy they want isn't there, so they then go on to kill his family. Then the guy hunts down the bikers. That's a lot of plot for 75 minutes - and there's a dance number! - but the film is so disjointed, poorly dubbed and full of inconsistencies, that it qualifies as a bad film.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Lying Lips (1939)

How bad is it? Amazingly stilted acting and dialogue in a predictable plot.
Should you see it? Yes, for historical reasons.

Oscar Michaud was (I believe) the first black director in Hollywood, the first to hire black actors and the first to make films for black audiences; that makes his films important, but they tend to be terrible. This later film is one of his best and one that is reasonably easy to find, containing numerous musical numbers in the first half that are pretty good. The story is about a girl who refuses to sleep with customers at the nightclub, so her aunt is killed and she's framed for the murder. The police are fairly inept (and why do they repeat everything twice?) and the conclusion is talky and a bit muddled. The acting in this is unbelievably bad; imagine an elementary school doing an Amos and Andy routine and you get close. If you want to see some of the worst performances on film, they are here.

Legend of the Bog (2009)

aka Assault of Darkness

How bad is it? It's like Encino Man, but not even as good as that.
Should you see it? No way.

A 2000 year-old warrior is unearthed in an Irish bog and he goes on a killing spree and must be stopped. Before that, though, he has comical misadventures with modern things like cars and plastic bottles. No characters are likeable and none act like rational people would. The cinematography's good and the Irish location shots are lovely, but the rest of the film sucks. There's a hunter named Hunter, which is about as original as it gets.

Iron Warrior (1987)

How bad is it? It's actually the best of the Ator film series... but not good.
Should you see it? Yes, but not if you're hoping it'll be like the rest of the series.

I feel like I'm picking on Miles O'Keeffe, who's shown up often on this blog, especially as the actors who did later films in this series were worse. This time he has his hair braided and isn't wearing a loin cloth, but he does manage a lot of time standing around shirtless. This time, his twin brother (never mentioned otherwise) has become a metal skull-wearing bad guy that must be defeated. The film looks good: the location shooting is particularly good and the makeup is mostly okay (there's an annoying eyebrow, but I quibble). The soundtrack, probably recycled from another film, is also good.
There's still some campiness, but nothing like the D'Amato-filmed earlier Ator films.

Ice Cream Man (1994)

How bad is it? It's probably the worst film with Clint Howard (that's quite a feat).
Should you see it? Yes.

Clint Howard stars for once, as a man released from a mental institution who starts selling ice cream and grinds up anyone who's unappreciative into the next batch. Also in the cast are Sandahl Bergman, Olivia Hussey, Lee Majors, Jan-Michael Vincent and Doug Llewelyn; it was directed by a prolific porn director in an attempt to cross over to legit films. The fat kid is obviously wearing padding. The cops search everything except the obvious (the truck). Howard's acting is always suspect, but it's better than most of the others in this film. This is one of those rare films that's entertaining in its own right, plus bad enough to be laughed at as well.