Thursday, June 30, 2016

Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life (2005)

How bad is it? It's a Lifetime Original, so pretty bad indeed.
Should you see it? It's a bit dull, but yes.

Some have called this this generation's "Reefer Madness," but that's not exactly fair, though I get the comparison. A teenage boy becomes addicted to internet porn and then loses his place on the swim team, loses his girlfriend, develops family problems (he steals his mom's credit card to buy porn - so we now know the one person who's ever paid for internet porn) and attempts suicide by drowning, before finding religion and having a happy ending. The plot is ridiculous (though apparently based on a true story) and the acting poor and it drags. What makes it unintentionally funny is that, because of the network, no porn is actually shown and the boy doesn't masturbate, making one wonder just what this kid's real problem is.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Curse of the Alpha Stone (1972)

How bad is it? It's weird exploitation, done poorly.
Should you see it? It's hard to find (old VHS only), but if you're in the mood for something different... maybe.

Scientist discovers a stone that causes people to become very horny. There's sex with a mannequin, arousal by vacuum cleaner, sex with washing machine and at least two deaths by sex. There's cheesy special effects and bad acting, but it's the ridiculous plot that doomed it from the start.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Cruel World (2005)

How bad is it? It fails both as horror and as satire.
Should you see it? No.

This inexplicably has its fans and also a few people who think it's so bad that it's entertaining; it's just bad. A guy (Edward Furlong, looking rather chunky) loses the girl (Jaime Pressly) in a reality TV show and then creates his own show, where contestants that get voted off are murdered. His motivation is unclear. There are a lot of plot twists in the first 20 minutes, then a slow grind to an unsatisfying ending. There's a lot of suggestion that there will be nudity, but none is shown. There's a bunch of familiar faces from recent horror films - the cast is much better than usual for what turns out to be a slasher film - but none of them has much to do. As the years go by, this supposed satire of reality TV gets less relevant and it's hard to imagine what people will think of this in 20 years (if any copy still exists then). There's one killing that's particularly poorly done and borders on entertainingly bad.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Crocodile (1979)

How bad is it? It's one of the worst "Jaws" rip-offs I've seen.
Should you see it? If you like animal attack films and keep a finger on fast-forward, maybe.

In Thailand, a man's family gets eaten by a giant crocodile, so he goes to a university professor that explains that it's a mutant caused by nuclear tests in the area. The local authorities aren't effective, so the guy hires a fisherman to help him try to capture it. So, yes, it's the plot of "Jaws," except for the "Godzilla"-ish bit. The size of the animal varies enormously, sometimes being big enough to swallow an entire village. The puppet attacks are very poorly done, though the scene of a legless man swimming is interesting. It appears to rely heavily on borrowed footage and it often has scenes where nothing happens on camera, which is probably due to cropping the image without consideration of what got cropped. It gets monotonous quickly.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Crime Killer (1985)

aka Zeus - The Crime Killer

How bad is it? It looks like it was hastily slapped together.
Should you see it? No, which is okay, because it's only on 30 year-old VHS.

Our hero is called Zeus and he's a cop that gets fired for killing the corrupt cops that tried to kill him. The president's war on crime gets his ex-wife and daughter killed, so Zeus gets recruited (by the CIA maybe?) to fight crime. He and two other ex-Vietnam POW's then train and go after the bad guys in a warehouse, where they have arms they plan on selling to... Arabs, maybe? All the characters speak in a very stilted fashion, which might be due to the writer and director speaking English as a second language (shades of "The Room"). There's topless tennis, a Mexican gardener disguise and a botched motorcycle stunt where a wig gets lost. There's also a truly preposterous wretched ending involving a bomb that just happens to be there.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Cremators (1972)

aka Dune Rollers

How bad is it? It's a 1950's monster movie done decades late.
Should you see it? Sadly, no. It's just too dull.

Fireballs from outer space stalk people before incinerating them and two scientists investigate. There are only three deaths in the 70 minute run time and it manages to reuse footage. Oddly, no one seems to notice giant translucent glowing balls until they attack. The dialog is muffled and the $40000 budget went mostly to special effects, which aren't terrible.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Creepozoids (1987)

How bad is it? It's nearly plotless, cheap and amateurish.
Should you see it? Yes.

From producer Charles Band and director David DeCoteau, this is not quite "Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama," but then again, what is? Linnea Quigley has a shower scene and porn star Ashlyn Gere doesn't remove her clothes (though she, too has a shower scene!) The story has military deserters, post-nuclear holocaust, escape acid rain in a bunker that's an abandoned research lab. There they encounter giant rats that don't move unless they're thrown and a rubber suit monster that has motivation issues. Even at a very short run time, the film is padded with crawling through vents in goop. There's a lot of rip-offs of other films, including an "Alien" belly-rip and an "It's Alive!" demon baby that makes for a very long finale. The sets are particularly cheap, possibly a storage unit somewhere. It's not good, but it's enjoyable trash, about the end of the Band/DeCoteau heyday.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Creature (2011)

How bad is it? It's a 1950's monster movie made 60 years late.
Should you see it? I say "go ahead." It won't hurt much.

This should-have-been-straight-to-video effort is either an homage to or a spoof of 1950's monster films, more "The Alligator People" than "Creature from the Black Lagoon." That one can't tell just how many of the chuckles are unintentional is kind of charming. After an alligator kills a man's family, he kills it, eats it - and becomes half alligator himself. Later, six young people decide to investigate the story, but not until we see most of them naked. Sid Haig's in it. There's a mud fight, incest, a lesbian make-out scene, bad accents, a couple of bad plot twists and a monster that's not really frightening. It has some dull stretches and adds nothing new to the genre, but it isn't terrible.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Constellation (2005)

How bad is it? Great actors are given nothing to do.
Should you see it? Tough call. Yes, if it's the type of film you tend to watch (which is no one who reads this blog).

Plot: a man decides whether or not to attend a funeral - for two hours. Writer/director/producer Walker-Perlman fails as writer (nothing happens) and director (nothing happens slowly), but has managed to get a tremendous cast: Gabrielle Union, Billy Dee Williams, Lesley Ann Warren, Hill Harper, Zoe Saldana, Rae Dawn Chong - and there's even a Carradine (Robert's daughter Ever)! The film attempts to tackle some big issues surrounding biracial couples, but never quite does. This won awards at Urbanworld Film Festival, Roxbury Intl. Film Festival and the Black Reel Awards, so somebody liked it, but no one I know did.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Confession of a Child of the Century (2012)

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

"Ooh, it stars Pete Doherty from the Libertines! And it's directed by a woman! And it's based on a French novel. It just HAS to be interesting!" or so I imagine anyone saying who's considered watching this film not knowing it's being skewered by critics. The story's semi-autobiographical, about de Musset's romance with George Sand during the political strife of the 1830's. Want to see malaise and ennui filmed? There's a duel, betrayal, despair, debauchery, death and a small role for odd-looking model Lily Cole; unfortunately, there's about 90 minutes of mumbling narration and not enough plot to hang the film on. This would've been hard to make without first-time actors and an inexperienced director. As it is, it's a chore to sit through.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Condemned to Hell (1984)

aka Atrapadas

How bad is it? It's a 1970's-type WIP movie filmed later than that.
Should you see it? No.

Woman who was the driver in a crime gets sent to prison, where the usual sleaze and sadism occurs, though the obligatory shower scene's short. There's a holocaust survivor and a pregnant woman (who gets raped right after giving birth), whose stories seem like better ones than you're watching. The one original idea of the film is that the warden is sympathetic and lets her out for one night to seek revenge.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Commando Squad (1987)

How bad is it? It's like an overly drawn-out "A-Team" episode.
Should you see it? It's hard to pass up this cast, but it's not worth it.

Fred Olen Ray tries to take over the Andy Sidaris world by making an action film starring a Playboy playmate with a lot of explosions. He fails miserably. Brian Thompson is a DEA agent kidnapped in Mexico by a rogue agent (Big Bill Smith) and his girlfriend Kathy Shower, also an agent, comes to the rescue. The film also has Robert Quarry, Sid Haig, Mel Welles, Ross Hagen, Russ Tamblyn, Marie Windsor and in cameos, Michelle Bauer and director Ray. There's way too much talking, but there are explosions and stunts and some nudity and it goes exactly like you'd expect.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Special Feature: Nature's Fury Blogathon - Fitzcarraldo (1982)

When Barry asked me to write a review for his Nature's Fury Blogathon, I decided it was a chance to write about a good film for a change. I've written here about killer birds, bees, bears, sharks, mosquitoes, lizards, rats, rabbits, plants (really!), spiders, fish, cats, dogs... well, you get the idea. I wanted to write about nature itself. I decided to re-watch Werner Herzog's classic "Fitzcarraldo" and I needed to get in touch with nature, so I decided to watch it and review it atop the highest peak in Minnesota, Eagle Mountain.

2301 feet of rugged wilderness
Day 1: The planning stage

I entered the ranger station and I seemed to surprise the ranger on duty.
"My God, Steve, you're insane."
I told him I planned to scale the mountain, not carrying a laptop with which to watch the film and write about it, but with a 35mm projector and a manual typewriter, as it was more authentic to the era of the film's story; I also needed a gasoline-powered generator. "Fitcarraldo... yes, I've seen that. Crazy guy tries to bring a boat over a mountain, right?" That, essentially, is the plot, but it doesn't really explain the film. "Wasn't as good as 'Aguirre,' though, was it? Even the documentary about making it, "The Burden of Dreams," was a better film."

I guess I lost it. I hit him in the eye and took off.

"At least bring some DEET."
Day 2: We have the wrong permits.

There were problems with the expedition from the start. There were people in the way, asking what this film has to do with nature's fury. All Herzog films do, to some extent, I said. "The Great Ecstasy of the Sculptor Steiner," for example, has a man whose job is literally to remold bits of earth and who tries to defy gravity, ice and air in order to fly from the Olympic ski jump. In this film, the hubris of a man who thinks his will can overcome all obstacles nature can put in his way is explored.

"Why doesn't this film have Bruno S.?"
Day 3: I enter the woods.

What I don't get, I guess, is that bit about the railway. In the beginning, it's mentioned that Fitzgerald (the title comes from the locals' mispronunciation of his name) had tried to build a railway across the Andes and failed. This means that there is some point when the hero has stopped before, so why does he keep pushing on in this film? Is his crazy goal to build an opera house and bring Caruso there so much more important than the railway was? Why didn't he abandon his plan, dismantle the boat and have the boat carried across the pass piecemeal, as happened in real life - oh yes, this was based on a true-ish story.

Okay, things could be worse.

The slope was steeper in places than I remembered, and people had left refuse in the way (do not litter in the state parks). "That slope may look insignificant but it's going to be my destiny."
Looks like they're putting in a chairlift.
People actually died making "Fitzcarraldo." Another guy cut off one of his own limbs. The original star, Jason Robards, became ill and had to be replaced with Klaus Kinski, who was a better choice for the mad role. Wait, that's reviewing "Burden of Dreams," not this film. There's a sort of Germanic "Faustian wager" happening, that he'll lose his soul if he becomes content.

I should've brought solar panels, or at least a smaller generator. Oh crap, I forgot the gasoline at the bottom of the last rise.

The point of moving the boat over land is because there was a tract of fertile land that couldn't be reached by boat, but two rivers came close to each other (except for the mountain that separated them), so a huge profit could be made if this land could be put into production.

Looks navigable to me.
Maybe not. And this is 30 miles off course, as well.

Why didn't I listen to the ranger? The bugs here are relentless! It's the deer flies, mostly, and DEET does nothing against them. At least they don't carry diseases and there aren't any leeches; both of those were encountered in making "Fitzcarraldo." Also, not having natives trying to kill me is a plus.

I spoke too soon.

Can you count the breaking of ropes and winches as the fury of nature? The power of river rapids? The indigenous people revolting? Insanity? We have entered strange territory, indeed.
The summit. That really is my shoe (and hairy, muddy knee).

The question that stays with me, though, is: what if Caruso said no? 

Day 4... or 5 (maybe 6). The route down, I figured, would take no time at all. I was wrong. Wrong enough, in fact, that the trees changed color.

"Fitzcarraldo" was the first Herzog film I saw, the only one I saw in a theater and is still my favorite of the 13 of his that I've watched. The cinematography is breathtaking. The story is harrowing, almost like  "Le Salaire de la Peur" ("Wages of Fear,") but with psychological tension matching physical danger. It is the best acting Kinski did, though one wonders how much he was acting and how much was real.

"Huh. I didn't think Steve could do it, did you?" "He could still die."

So, in conclusion, Fitzgerald says in the film, perhaps to me as well:
"Sir, the reality of your world is nothing more than a rotten caricature of great opera"

Now back to reviewing bad films!

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Comic (1985)

How bad is it? It's among the worst films I've seen recently.
Should you see it? Absolutely not.

This film was seen by almost no one the week or two it was in theaters, then by no one when it was on VHS and now, on a bootleg DVD, it's getting some traction in the bad film circles. It's about - supposedly - a dystopian future where people are kept controlled by the cheap entertainment of the comic (who is NOT funny). There's a love interest and a fast-forwarded romance including a birth with obvious doll, there's delusions and nightmares, there's scenes repeatedly inter-cut in what must have been an attempt at meaning and there's bad 1980's hair and music. This is terrible, but there's nothing endearing about it, which is what I hoped for.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Coldfire (1990)

How bad is it? It's a minor typical 1980's action flick, a little late to the party.
Should you see it? I don't think so.

Reports of how terrible this film is are overstating things; they've never seen an Al Adamson film, for example. This was directed by Wings Hauser, who gave himself top billing, though he sits behind a desk for most of the film, only to become the hero in the last reel, in an unintentionally amusing way. The story is about two rookie cops tracking down a new designer drug; there's nothing new there. Most of the shots are static and with odd blocking and the actors are not great, particularly the campy villain. There's a tacked-on sex scene, a pregnant woman dragged by a car and miraculously unhurt and a locker room tap dancing scene.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Interview: Robin Bailes and Graham Trelfer

Robin and Graham are the team behind the YouTube Reviews "Dark Corners" (or, if you prefer, "Dark Corners of This Sick Universe"), which you can find at Robin is the on-air personality, Graham the director, and they split duties between that site, their Facebook page and Twitter account. I forget how I found them, though Twitter was probably involved. In the world of video reviews and podcasts, theirs is one of the most content-driven; there are far too many accounts concerned with the antics of the hosts and attempts to make their own jokes more the focus than the actual film being reviewed.

Ahem. Time to get off my soapbox.

I recommend going through their archives. They compare one film to "The Godfather" - try to find it! Their commentaries often have little facts I didn't know about films I've seen more than once.

This interview was done over Twitter direct messages and has been slightly edited for continuity and spelling. I gave up trying to get the photos alternating correctly and evenly spaced, which I think is fitting for discussing shoddy films. On Twitter, they frequently ask followers what horror films they've seen in the past week and to supply captions for photos, so I turned the tables on them.

1) So... which of the two of you is answering questions?
Robin runs the twitter, I (Graham) run the YouTube - I just snuck on here while he is out. Mhaw ha ha ha

2) You both seem to have writing backgrounds. How did you decide to do reviews in video format?
G: Degree in writing, wrote voice for some TV shows. I liked that Robin was angry at everything thought it would be good to harness that anger against B-movies. I thought there would be a huge a audience... I was wrong.
G: Robin writes the reviews and I add my to cents, we split the smackdown writing and specials.
3) Every interview, I do this: Name as many directors as bad as Ed Wood as you can in 5 minutes.
R: I'm getting in first this time. Larry Buchanan, Ted Mikels, Charles B. Pierce, Arch Hall (I know he only did one film but still) and Zack Snyder. I'd say Michael Bay but he's much, much worse than Ed Wood.
Going back a question to Robin's anger issues - I think Dark Corners works best when he's incredulous ("Did they think we wouldn't notice?!") and falters when he gets contemptuous. After all, if you really hated the movie, you could always stop watching.
4) Let's do some technical stuff here. How many films do you screen before you find one you think will make for a good review? How long does it take to write and produce an episode? And, so I sound like I know the business, what's your shooting ratio (Wm. Beaudine's was 1.01 to 1)?
G: I don't think we reject too many films, we pick on recommendations, titles and era so we know what we will be getting. Robin writes, I edit a rough cut based on that script and add my thoughts, Robin re-writes, then we shoot about 8 reviews in a day and then I edit. Because it so broken up, it hard to say how long it takes... maybe a day, but spread over 10 weeks.
G: Shooting ratio is good, a few fluffs, but all done in one continuous shot. On rare occations we have gone back to do a pick up for a funnier line or technical issues.
5) I'm surprised at how many fans of bad films there are in Britain. Do you think it's a cultural thing - like jellied eel, Frank Sidebottom (look him up) and the Looney Party? And why are there no bad German films?
Britain loves an underdog, and the great thing about many of the bad movies we review is that the people who made them genuinely were trying, they just happened to be shit. That's why we tend to steer clear of self-consciously bad films like the Sharknado series. I'm not sure that Germany had a tradition of B pictures the way Britain and America did, or it maybe just that Germany has a culture of perfectionism that we really don't.
Back-tracking to the ranting question: it's a fine line and our Kong special probably failed because the remake made me so angry. On the other hand some people enjoy the rants. In the end I'd rather the review reflects how I felt on watching, so if I get angry it's because the movie made me angry. I'd rather give an honest reaction than pander to what people prefer.
6) Time to lighten up a bit: man in a rubber lizard suit, or man in a gorilla suit?
 Ideally neither. But Godzilla is the only guy in a suit film I can think of, off the top of my head, that has real quality so I I guess I'll go with lizard suit.

G: I would go for a gorilla suit, apes are inherently funnier.

7) Because I know you love the question: What's up with Robin's hair?
G: Robin is cheap. Hair cuts cost money, so he didn't get around to cutting it for a while. It became a running a joke, till it got a length where if he was going to cut it, could actually do some good. So to his shock I suggest on camera he should donate it a charity like "wigs for kids" and after some thought he agreed. However, he now loves his 80s long hair look, especially when tied back in a stupid pony tail... he may never cut it. "screw those bald kids" is what he may or mat not have said when I suggested it was now time to get a hair cut.
Hahahaha. I'm rapidly approaching "bald guy with ponytail" status (despite my Twitter avi). I just wondered if he was moonlighting as a Celine Dion impersonator.
8) In the bad movie based on your lives, what are the Mexican wrestlers fighting?

G: No one answering the Santos question.

R: No one answering the Santo question? While I'd like to see Santo fight animals, (or at very least humans in rubber animal suits. Based on my life would be fight coffee.

9) What horror films have you seen in the past week and what did you think of them?
Jun 8
I just watched the original Amityville Horror last night since we had reviewed Amityville Horror 3D recently. Like most horror films there is a good creepy build up that just blows its load in the final scenes. I don't know why so many horror (especially ghost stories) do this. I can suspend my disbelief of creepy goings- on, but not gallons of blood coming down the the stairs and houses exploding. There was a TV series recently about the Enfield Haunting that kept things small and creepy throughout,
Closest I've come in the last week was Ace of Hearts, a silent thriller with Lon Chaney. Same team as The Penalty (which I love) but this was nowhere near as good.
Oh! and Killer Ape. Which was hilarious and will be a review later this year.
Ace of Hearts and Killer Ape were Robin BTW.
10) What do you think was the best year for bad films?
R- Best year? No idea, but 1959 has Plan 9, Night of the Ghouls, Giant Gila Monster, Santa Claus Vs the Devil, Teenagers from Outer Space and Killer Shrews, so I'll go with that.

11) If someone's new to the world of bad films, where would you suggest they start?

R- Where should someone start with bad films? Mystery Science Theatre 3000. You inadvertently develop an appreciation (and tolerance) whilst mocking.

12) Time to wrap this up. Can you supply a caption for this pic?


R- Caption 'A real man can never have too many cufflinks'