Saturday, April 30, 2016

Blood Cult (1985)

How bad is it? It's a very poor amateur slasher film.
Should you see it? Not really.

Advertised as the first shot on video film made to sell directly for the video store rental market, this reportedly took 9 days to make and cost $27000. The film starts with three hatchet murders in a row, with truly atrocious acting from the victims, whose screams and writhing are amusingly bad. Then it settles down to become a film where an elderly sheriff tries to figure out who's killing sorority girls [question: why does the "campus" look like farm land?] with a Dungeons & Dragons red herring and some amulets tied to a witch coven. Eventually, assisted by his daughter and her boyfriend, he uncovers a dog-worshipping cult (of a sort) that's using human limbs as sacrifices. It's all underlit, the blood looks like tomato paste and there's way too much padding - when the sheriff eats in his car, feel free to do something else for a while.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Beverly Hills Vamp (1989)

How bad is it? Depends on how much you like Eddie Deezen and pointless nudity (not great).
Should you see it? It's one of F.O. Ray's better films; if you're a fan, go ahead.

This film's almost beyond criticism - it is what it is: an excuse for a few yucks and some nudity. Eddie Deezen's geek schtick wears thin quickly, but there are some genuine laughs to be had. He and two friends go to Hollywood in the hopes of becoming filmmakers. They end up at a bordello run by Britt Ekland (with Michelle Bauer among her girls), that turns out to be a front for vampires. Then there's a vampire hunt. Robert Quarry and Tim Conway Jr. have roles. It's goofy, it's fast-paced, it's very very lightweight and one brief shot got past the MPAA raters.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Best Night Ever (2014)

How bad is it? It's a poor copy of someone else's rip-off.
Should you see it? No.

The guys responsible for "The Starving Games," "Vampires Suck" and "Disaster Movie" (the latter to be reviewed here later) try to do "Bridesmaids." The idea is that the film is all found footage, taken by the girls themselves during a drunken and stoned  bachelorette party in Las Vegas. It doesn't work. This is the one time these guys actually had a chance at making a decent film - the idea isn't bad and the actresses are all likeable - but the jokes don't work and there's nothing like character development. There's a dildo tiara on fire, a stolen limo, Jello wrestling, motel room black light stains, a breast pump, a valet/drug dealer mugging, hiding in a dumpster and a fat naked black woman who attacks them repeatedly (including after the end credits). It's supposed to be crass, but it's also demeaning.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Beretta's Island (1992)

How bad is it? It makes you long for the thespic talents of Lou Ferrigno.
Should you see it? No - not that you'd find it, anyway.

Franco Columbu was one of the top bodybuilders circa 1980, despite his short stature. Here he tries to make a film career as an action hero and make a tribute to his home of Sardinia; he succeeds only in the latter. The first minutes of the film is just him and buddy Arnold Schwarzenegger lifting weights. Franco then becomes a sort of Interpol agent fighting drug crime in Italy, while managing time to show the sights in his home town. The only entertainment value of the film is seeing how many different excuses there are for the hero to remove his shirt.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Bellboy and the Playgirls (1962)

How bad is it? It's a fairly typical nudie of the time, altered for (mostly failed) laughs.
Should you see it? If you're a fan of Francis Ford Coppola or June Wilkinson. Unless it got a recent DVD release, you'll probably only find it on a poor quality 1980's VHS. I saw it in a theater.

The 1958 nudie "Mit Eva Fing die Sunde" was dubbed into English, changing the storyline to make it amusing - much like Woody Allen's later "What's Up, Tiger Lily?" - but aiming for a very different audience. New scenes were written to add to the film for the American release, which were filmed in color and in 3-D, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, in his first film. The only name (and figure) Americans might recognize is busty June Wilkinson, who I expected to be more "titillating" in 3-D than the film delivers.The plot has bellboy George, who wishes he were as expert with women as his friend, the director of a theater group, study to become a private investigator and then use his new skills to investigate the models of a lingerie manufacturer, who happen to be staying at his hotel; this leads to him watching them demonstrate how easily their undergarments are removed.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Bees (1978)

How bad is it? It's a cheap film rushed to screen, with terrible effects and acting.
Should you see it? Definitely.

This came out the same year as "The Swarm" and attempted to cash in on its success, years after "The Deadly Bees" (already reviewed here), "Killer Bees" and "Savage Bees." [Yes, I've seen all of them.] John Saxon and Angel Tompkins play scientists trying to stop billions of smart bees who want us to stop polluting their world. There's lots of stock footage, bees that are no more than dots on the screen, John Carradine with both the worst German accent and worst death scene ever and a speech - by the bees, mind you - at the United Nations. There's a quick shot of Gerald Ford, if you look, plus a Jimmy Carter impersonation. It's ludicrous in plot, direction, acting and effects. I'm not sure why I didn't include this before; perhaps I was confusing similar films.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Beer for My Horses (2008)

How bad is it? It's probably the worst film of 2008.
Should you see it? Only if you know all the lyrics to every Toby Keith song and you haven't already.

This is one of those (thankfully) rare films based on a popular song; it's also a road movie in the vein of "Smokey and the Bandit." A cop seeks his girlfriend, who's been kidnapped by the bad guy (always called "The Mexican") whose own girlfriend the cop put behind bars. He has two others join him on his journey that has "amusing" incidents. The film has Toby Keith, Ted Nugent, Tom Skerritt, Barry Corbin, Willie Nelson, Gina Gershon, Mel Tillis and Mac Davis. It also has stereotypes, a farting dog, a pig hunt, a circus, a restroom sing-along, a man on fire and a lot of product placements. The plot, such as it is, doesn't even start until midway through a series of pointless scenes. Never having heard the song from which the film gets its title, I listened to it and found it has no connection to the film - so it doesn't even have that.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Beaks: The Movie (1987)

aka Birds of Prey, aka Evil Birds, aka El Ataque de los Pajaros, aka Uccelli 2 - La Paura

How bad is it? It's not Rene Cadona Jr.'s best - so pretty bad, indeed.
Should you see it? Only if you really love gore and hate birds.

"Birds of Prey" didn't work as a title, because the film features mostly chickens and pigeons, so "Beaks," being reminiscent of "Jaws," was used in a re-release. Either way, it's just a rip-off of Hitchcock's "The Birds," with exactly the same plot, including the child's party, but with some added nudity and a lot of gore. It's not the campy spoof the cover box art suggests. There's eye-gouging and skin-ripping and the quality's not bad if that's your thing. There's also footage from three continents, slow-motion shots of birds doing nothing in particular - while people repeatedly say "They seem to be organized," bad dubbing, hang gliders and a lot of ridiculous dialog. My favorite lines: "We're sitting ducks," "Turkeys are killing people and it's not even Thanksgiving," and "Your blood pressure is 80 over 140; perfect."

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Beautiful Life (2008)

How bad is it? It's fairly awful.
Should you see it? If you're REALLY cynical, this can provide a dark laugh or two (sometimes intentional).

Those eyes - staring at this photo is more entertaining than the film

This is not the Chinese film given the same title that came out in 2011, but that mistake is how I found this. It's based on a play and tries for both sentimentality and satire, which is probably impossible. It stars the oddly beautiful Angela Sarafayan, whose acting skills are hit-and-miss and has roles for Bai Ling, Debi Mazar and Dana Delaney; one of the worst features of the film is that characters come and go and are disposable. It's about homelessness, sexual abuse, incest, immigrant exploitation, drug trafficking and more... and less. It's overly earnest, formulaic, platitudinous, heavy-handed and unoriginal and the direction is scattershot. It's a mess, occasionally interesting, but overlong even at 82 minutes.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Beach Babes from Beyond (1993)

How bad is it? It's one of the last and worst bikini films from Cinemax.
Should you see it? No - unless you really need a 1980's fix.

I thought I'd reviewed the sequel to this (Beach Babes 2: Cave Girl Island), but I can't find it. This was directed by David DeCoteau and is the type of sex romp that has characters named "Gonad" and "Hymen Hassler." Girls in outer space take their parent's spaceship for a spin and land on Earth, where they meet up with a guy who needs $30000, which just happens to be the grand prize in a bikini contest... and do you really need the plot? It has Linnea Quigley, Burt Ward and Nikki Fritz, as well as celebrity-related Joe Estevez, Don Swayze, Jackie Stallone and Joey Travolta. There's some silly songs, like "I Got a Woody" and "Moshin' on the Beach." There's not as much nudity as you'd expect and much less sex (and that quite tepid).

Now about that sequel... it was slightly better.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Barn of the Naked Dead (1974)

aka Terror Circus, aka Nightmare Circus, aka Caged Women II

How bad is it? It's slow, misogynistic and poorly constructed.
Should you see it? I actually liked it. So, yes.

Director Alan Rudolph disowned this film after he became an indie darling, as did star Andrew Prine. Girls on their way to Vegas have a car breakdown, get "rescued" by Prine, who adds them to the collection of women he has chained in his barn and who he puts through circus animal-like stunts. There's a mountain lion pet, some really bad music and some amusing make-up and gore effects. The plot is livened by meandering into another plot, where Prine's father, mutated by radiation from local atomic testing, has become a rampaging monster. One girl just happens to look like Prine's mother, a coincidence that only happens in films like this, and she uses that fact to buy time while the authorities search for them. The father escapes in the last few minutes, causing mayhem and a dissatisfying ending. Most versions of this available are missing a few shots of nudity (making the title a misnomer).

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back (1989)

How bad is it? It's bad even for a Roger Corman "Deathstalker" clone.
Should you see it? It's certainly not essential viewing.

Barbarians apparently have tailors and detergent.

First of all, cool title - except that there's no empress. An amazon queen gets betrayed by her brother, is imprisoned, escapes, gets imprisoned and escapes again because there's not enough plot, joins another amazon and outfights cardboard charcters with cardboard swords to regain throne. Lana Clarkson returns to star, but as a different character and the entire plot of the first film is discarded. There's a naked scene on a rack - actually, there are two. There's a tarantula, a mute girl (who must not have been able to remember her lines), mud wrestling, one scene with an added laugh track, a sadistic princess who steals the movie, terrible fight scenes and some choice dialog:
"I'll go see what it is. I'm a guard now."
"One night with me would be the end of you."
and to a woman being raped: "Take it like a man!"

Monday, April 18, 2016

Ba'al (2008)

aka Ba'al: The Storm God

How bad is it? It's slow and humorless.
Should you see it? No.

A Sci-Fi Channel original, this film has as archaeologist trying to collect four amulets to cure his terminal cancer, but that instead brings back the Sumerian storm god Ba'al, causing a storm that threatens to destroy the planet. The film is dull and talky, has obvious plot twists, poor special effects (though on par with the budget) and is dead serious in tone, even when they plan to destroy an evil cloud with red glowing eyes by detonating an atomic bomb! There's a heist at the beginning, with over-armed museum security, that leads to a killing and then the framing of another scientist, who gets chased by the government. There's what appears to be an asthma inhaler substituting for cancer meds. There's a plucky young female meteorologist that isn't believed by the military weather experts (?!) until it's almost too late - you know, a stereotype.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Angel of H.E.A.T. (1983)

aka The Protectors, Book 1

How bad is it? It's like a later version of a Matt Helm film. Pretty bad indeed.
Should you see it? No.

Taken as a James Bond spoof, this is just awful, with not one joke landing. Taken as a nudie, it has Marilyn Chambers and Mary Woronov doing full frontal, but the film was obviously edited down to an R rating. There's also some very bad prints floating around, the DVD being ripped from one of the worst. There's a Japanese actor playing a German and a German playing a Japanese. There's mud wrestling and naked karate (in the first 5 minutes, so you can stop there), there's a mad scientist on LSD, androids, punk rock (sort of), a cheesy theme song, disintegrating metal done by jump cuts, stolen microchips, a dwarf, tandem hang-gliding... it sounds good on paper, but there's just nothing holding it together. The plot: Chambers, Woronov and some guy try to stop the bad guy.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

American Anthem (1986)

How bad is it? Ever see "Gymkata?" That was a better gymnastic film. Really.
Should you see it? No, but there are a few people who love it.

The director of "Purple Rain" recreates that exact plot, only with a gymnast instead of musician, so it tries to cover some "Rocky" territory as well. Mitch Gaylord, who cannot act to save his life, plays the hero, who has family problems (his mom's Michelle Phillips!) and who falls in love with another gymnast (a woman, despite the latent homoeroticism of some of the film) while training for the big meet on his way to the Olympics. There's awful dialog and a string of cliches, synthesizer music, strobe lights substituting for flash bulbs, tons of glycerin "sweat" - especially in the romantic scenes and a gymnast who actually crashes into the judging panel. It looks like one long montage with lighting effects.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Amazons and Gladiators (2001)

How bad is it? It aspires to "Xena: Warrior Princess" and fails miserably.
Should you see it? No.

This film tried to cash in on "Gladiator" and boost interest by making the fighters women, but it didn't have the budget to make a skin flick, much less an epic: sisters separated in childhood join Amazons to overthrow an evil Roman despot. Lithuania substitutes badly for Rome, always being dark in the autumn woods and with some extras obviously speaking English as a second language. The historical inaccuracies are numerous, but expected. The costumes, when the women actually aren't topless, are wrong for the climate, made of modern materials and surprisingly clean. There's a bath scene popular with male viewers, a death by candlestick stabbing, two bad fight scenes widely spaced, lots of feminist proclamations by bimbos in misogynistic scenes and a pudgy Patrick Bergin as the bad guy.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Another Son of Sam (1974)

aka Hostages

How bad is it? Even for low-budget regional filmmaking, this sucks.
Should you see it? Not really.

There's supposedly another film with this title that came out in 2013 and this film was originally called "Hostages." This North Carolina obscurity, using local talent (mostly news people, I think) was released by Something Weird Video and reviewed by Bleeding Skull, so I thought I'd give it a watch. The plot: a maniac escapes from an asylum and goes on a spree; the rest is police procedural and there's no connection to the original Son of Sam killings. There's a lot of sloppy camera work, with freeze frames and slow motion and only the killer's eye being seen until the end. At the end, there's a helicopter pursuit, a SWAT team and a plea from the killer's mother to him to give himself up (this after a lifetime of abusing him), which gets him killed. One song gets played repeatedly.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Allnighter (1987)

How bad is it? It might be the worst film of its type. Probably not, but it's in the running.
Should you see it? No!

If you're a Susannah Hoffs fan, this is the best you'll get.

Susannah Hoffs of the Bangles tried to be an actress - and failed - and started here, in a film written and directed by her mother. That might explain the awkwardness of the sex scene. It's a "one crazy night" film and a "beach party" film, where three girls (a wasted Joan Cusack and Dedee Pfeiffer are the others) attend a beach party blow-out at the end of college and Hoffs is seeking Mr. Right. There's no music by the Bangles, but 80's mainstays Love and Rockets and Timbuk 3 are on the soundtrack, as are some anachronisms, like Otis Redding. The dialog is painful, the humor falls flat, the guys on the beach are more attractive than the women and nothing really happens.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Alien Warrior (1986)

aka King of the Streets

How bad is it? Imagine an after school special with Jesus, porn and blaxploitation.
Should you see it? Yes, but don't expect much.

There's a version of this that doesn't mention the alien factor on the cover, but a very obvious Christ-like alien comes to Earth, specifically to the tough inner city streets, where latino gangs and black bad guys (who seems to have more money, power and style than the others) control things. The alien fights the bad guys, but violence saps his powers. He teaches kids to read. Then he has them create positive message graffiti. He has them build a car out of scrap from a salvage yard - for his use! There's about four rapes, some breakdancing and ending a fight by punching a sign. It's so wrongheaded in so many ways, doesn't know where to go or what to do and preaches to the audience a message that may not be intended (i.e. only a white guy can save you).

Monday, April 11, 2016

Alien Predator (1985)

aka Alien Predators, aka The Falling, aka Mutant II, aka Cosmos Mortal

How bad is it? It's a mixed bag, but it rips off everything you've already seen.
Should you see it? Sure. It's sometimes good and sometimes so awful you'll laugh.

Lots of fright wigs in this flick.

Skylab crashes into Spain and five years later, a cow dies: not exactly an auspicious start. Lynn-Holly Johnson, Dennis Christoper and Martin Hewitt are teens traveling through Spain in a road movie/rom-com who run into virus-created zombies that look like 80's heavy metal hair bands with Halloween masks. There's some decent gore, but there's rip-offs of Alien (a creature bursts from a stomach) and Andromeda Strain (alien virus turns everyone into killer zombies before they die) and countless references to The Twilight Zone. The creature shows up just at the end... and gets defeated by a windshield wiper! The film ends with either the doom of mankind, or maybe just a nosebleed.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Alien Force (1996)

How bad is it? It's cheesy no budget sci-fi with some terrible camerawork.
Should you see it? I give it a mild yes, if you can find it.

I watched two other films with the same title (one of them twice) from the same year before getting a copy of this on VHS. A meteor lands on Earth, except it's more of an egg and contains 1,000,000,000 aliens, or rather, their souls. If you're thinking a billion of anything would bust a budget, you know you're not going to see them. An intergalactic bad guy plans on releasing the billion bloodthirsty predators and he's hard to stop because he's immortal and can shift from one body to another. The leader of the planet they're from - Burt Ward, of all people - sends a (rather wimpy) hero to stop him. The hero, of course, has time to fall in love with an Earth woman. There's a lot of fight sequences, badly choreographed, with punches landing feet from their targets. The film has poor lighting, the crew can sometimes be seen in reflections and the movie has a technical problem rare even for trash: color balance continuity errors; within a scene, colors shift back and forth between shots. It's goofy and silly and the cast seems to be aware that they're not doing Shakespeare.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Active Stealth (1997)

How bad is it? It's nothing but cliches and not amusing because of them.
Should you see it? Don't waste your time.

This is one of Fred Olen Ray's worst action films. There's a lot of shooting, but it's monotonous action and uninvolving. After a failed mission in Mexico where his partner was lost, a pilot is sent back with a stealth aircraft to retrieve him, only to find out (spoiler alert) that it's a trap and they just want to steal the plane. The only attempt at characterization involves hero Daniel Baldwin's wife not being able to have children... which, of course, leads to a pregnancy by film's end. Usually reliable Fred Williamson is wasted. The film is nothing but recycled ideas, which could've led to a good campy film, but it's played straight. There's surprisingly little flying footage for an aviation film.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Atomic Dog (1998)

How bad is it? It doesn't know what it wants to be and fails at everything.
Should you see it? No, though it's almost so bad it's funny.

Brian Trenchard-Smith has directed a lot of junk, some of which I've reviewed. This time around, he tries for a family friendly "Cujo!" A family finds that two of their puppies are the spawn of an irradiated dog that now has superpowers and super-intelligence and wants them back. It turns out that it's for the family's good, though, as one of the pups is violent and the parent's trying to save them. There's a weird almost E.T.-like twist at the end. It's too nasty for little kids, who it appears is the intended audience, and just too stupid for anyone else.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Animal Instincts 3: The Seductress (1996)

How bad is it? It's soft-core porn with the "part 3" sequel curse.
Should you see it? No.

Finding a shot without nudity was tough.
The one funny thing about this film is the name of the minor characters: Lolly Pop, Trick Willy and Stone Chill; there, I've saved you watching this. This doesn't have the same actress that starred in the first two parts (which I haven't seen), but I don't think that matters much. A female exhibitionist author lives with a record producer who pretends to be blind, but is a voyeur, setting up her sexcapades and then watching. The kinks get murderous and the "blind" guy kills, giving up his secret, which kind of throws a wrench in their relationship. No one expects great acting or storylines in this sort of film, but even the sex is boring.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Assassin's Bullet (2012)

How bad is it? It's among Christian Slater's worst, which is saying something.
Should you see it? It has moments, but you'd have to really like bad action films.

Filmed in Bulgaria to save money, most of the budget appears to have gone to the salaries of Christian Slater and Donald Sutherland, both of whom look like they're doing the bare minimum for a paycheck. This is a knock-off of La Femme Nikita, with a truly terrible actress playing the femme fatale. Slater plays a FBI agent who blames himself for his wife's death, so he goes to Bulgaria to start over and then gets dragged into searching for a vigilante that's killing off terrorists on the Most Wanted List. The action scenes are at best improbable. There are plot holes and such obvious foreshadowing that the "surprise" is predictable, despite silly plot twists that would never happen. There's belly dancing - not really a big thing in Bulgaria - and psychiatrists and split personalities and some bad wigs.

Monday, April 4, 2016

After Image (2001)

How bad is it? It's well-filmed nothingness.
Should you see it? No.

The director of this apparently had this story in mind for a decade before filming; in that time, he should've been able to write some dialog. Almost nothing gets said in this film (well, one character is deaf, played by a deaf actress, but still...), which would be okay if this had some action. It's a serial-killer film in which nothing happens. A police photographer, played by John Mellencamp, goes on vacation after taking shots of a serial killer's work. Then the killer stalks him. Louise Fletcher gets wasted as Mellencamp's ailing aunt. The love interest has nightmares that presage the next killings, which are arranged so Mellencamp can be the first to see them. The film might be the best-looking shot-on-video film I've seen, but there's nothing to see.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

American Ninja 4: Annihilation (1991)

How bad is it? Better than AmNinja #3 or #5, but pretty bad.
Should you see it? No.

This time around, they brought back the original star, Dudikoff, AND the star of #3, Bradley, but not Steve James (who would die in real life before #5). This one plods and meanders and manages some bad stereotyping. There's a suitcase bomb, a fortress to be stormed and 52 deaths (by someone else's count). The main character doesn't show up in the first half of the film. There was a fifth film in the series, which no one likes.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt (1982)

How bad is it? It's... not good.
Should you see it? Fans of Steve James or Marjoe Gortner should; otherwise no.

This third AmNin film substitutes David Bradley for Michael Dudikoff and he's a weak martial artist - and this is just a martial arts film. Following almost the same plot as #2, villain Marjoe Gortner is a terrorist that infects the American Ninja with a virus. Then our hero and two sidekicks, including Steve James, fight "The Cobra," a female ninja and a gang of cloned ninjas. The film starts with a bad theme song, South Africa substitutes for a Caribbean island and the fight scenes aren't up to par. The best scene involves elevator ninjas (funnier to think about than watch).

Friday, April 1, 2016

Aliens Among Us (1997)

aka Alien Avengers II, aka Welcome to Planet Earth II

How bad is it? It smacks of a hastily-made attempt to make a few extra bucks from a surprise hit.
Should you see it? Nah.

This is a sequel to a film where an incredibly cheerful couple turn out to be murderous aliens; George Wendt reprises his role, but his wife is now played by Julie Brown. An old-west Arizona town (filmed in California) loses its sheriff, whose head got cut off and has its own burial. Then they elect Wendt to be the new sheriff. He and his wife believe in poetic justice, making the punishment (always capital) fit the crime ironically. There's just not enough laughs and the happy-go-lucky mayhem gets tiresome. Jason Sudeikis makes an appearance and it was written by Mike MacDonald (best known from "MadTV").