Friday, September 30, 2016

Galaxina (1980)

How bad is it? Poor script, but not a terrible film by any means.
Should you see it? Sure, but not because it's so-bad-it's-good.

This film has had some blistering reviews and some praise; add the fact that Dorothy Stratten was murdered shortly after filming this and you have a cult film. The film's star is Avery Schreiber, who plays starship Captain Butt - and that's the point where you realize the writing's going to be a problem. There's parodies of Star Wars, Star Trek, 2001 and especially Alien (a critter burst's from Schreiber's stomach and runs amok. It also calls him "Mommy"). Stratten plays a robot that reprograms herself to love and she does okay with the role, though the emotional range of a robot is not a great stretch. Some of the special effects are quite good, especially given the budget, but some are laughably terrible and they're meant to be laughed at. That might be why this has made some lists of terrible films... that and the fact that most of the jokes don't work.

Angelo Rossitto is also in this. I met him the next year and asked why he was the only little person not in "The Wizard of Oz." He'd been hospitalized - you could tell it was still a sore point.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Gottfried Helnwein and the Dreaming Child (2012)

How bad is it? It's a documentary searching for a subject, an angle and a purpose.
Should you see it? No, unless you're a huge fan of both opera and photorealism.

It might've seemed like a good idea to have a controversial photographer known for photos simulating children in horrible situations, such as the Holocaust, do an installation for the Israeli Opera's production of "The Dreaming Child." It wasn't. It should've been abandoned before too many checks were written. The fact that there's two competing artistic visions could've made for an interesting documentary, but there's no dramatic arc, just a mixture of talking heads and fly-on-the-wall footage. We don't learn anything about anyone involved except that we don't like them.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Generation Um... (2012)

How bad is it? Nothing happens.
Should you see it? No.

Perhaps someone could make a film about bored detachment and make it interesting, but this is not it. The driver for an escort service and two of the girls film themselves with a stolen camera. The one character that's not a dull monotonous bore is shrill. Spending time with these people is something you'd avoid in real life, so avoid it on film. Whether Keanu Reeves is acting a part or being himself in this is debatable.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Ghastly Ones (1968)

aka Blood Rites, aka Blood Orgy

How bad is it? It's one of the more enjoyable Andy Milligan films - so wretchedly terrible.
Should you see it? If you've never seen a Milligan film and are intrigued.

In one of the first posts on this blog, I said I wouldn't review any of the 17 Andy Milligan films I've seen... and here we are. Shot on 16mm, starring his friends and re-using costumes from his other films, this is "Ten Little Indians" with three couples having to spend the night in a house one of them is inheriting. They get impaled, burned, dismembered - you know, the usual. The special effects are particularly bad; a removed eye is way too big, for example. There's a hunchback with bad fake teeth, lots of dull chit-chat, a tacked-on opening that contradicts the ending (with so many continuity errors, including hair color, that it had to be intentional) and Milligan's nearly trademarked odd plotlines that go nowhere; in this one, it's gay incest and marital rape - you know, the usual. You can hear Milligan giving direction and his camera work can't keep from jerking around or cutting people off. There's also a crew member seen and the camera itself appears in a mirror - you know, the usual.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Ginger (1971)

How bad is it? It's a little like porn meets "Charlie's Angels," but not as entertaining.
Should you see it? Hmm. If you're into 1970's trash, maybe.

Cheri Caffaro stars in this, the first and worst of her three "Ginger" films, as a society girl who joins a detective agency. In a small town on the Jersey shore, there's a gang involved in prostitution, drugs and blackmail and she infiltrates. There's a lot of nudity, mostly Caffaro and ugly men and there's a lesbian scene, rape, castration, ridiculous even for 1971 fashions and some cringeworthy racial epithets. The plot meanders, the dialogue is painful, the acting lousy and the plentiful action scenes are more sadistic than entertaining.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Going Bananas (1987)

How bad is it? Dreadfully unfunny "comedy" aimed at kids. bad is it?

Should you see it? Only if a fan of the stars or of man-in-a-monkey-suit films.

A talking chimp named Bonzo (a nod to "Bedtime for Bonzo," which starred President - in 1987 - Ronald Reagan and a chimp) is kept from bad guys by Dom DeLuise, Jimmie Walker and child David Mendenhall. Herbert Lom plays a sheriff. There's a lot of stereotyped Africans, lots of guns pointed at children, a scorpion attack and the monkey flies a plane and sings a child to sleep. The monkey is played by a little person in a monkey suit. The intended jokes do not work, though small children just might be amused.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Goldy, the Last of the Golden Bears (1984)

How bad is it? You'll wish you were watching paint dry.
Should you see it? No.

I've reviewed some films on this blog that have utter contempt for the children they aimed the film toward, but this one challenges them to endure it. A rancher turned prospector and an orphan girl just roaming the mountains (really?) adopt the cub of a circus bear and try to keep it from the evil clutches of the circus' owner. No one in this can act. The pacing is g-l-a-c-i-a-l. It's a Disneyesque film without any charm, but with some competent people involved off-camera.

There were TWO sequels.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Gorp (1980)

How bad is it? Very minor 1980's teen comedy. More loud than funny.
Should you see it? Only if a fan of the cast.

The last film released by AIP, this is a poor man's "Meatballs." It's about the wait staff at a Jewish summer camp. It's interesting to see Dennis Quaid, Fran Drescher, Rosanna Arquette and David Huddleston in early roles, but the film itself is extremely episodic and hopes that energy - and loudness (every line seems yelled) - will equate to humor. The stereotyping has not aged well. The final battle between rival campers is over-the-top and it's amazing no one was hurt, as a girl gets run over by a tank. It's not without interest, but all the characters are unsympathetic and the jokes are forced.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Giant Gila Monster (1959)

How bad is it? It's one of the worse teenagers and monsters films from the 1950's.
Should you see it? Yes.

Fun fact: gila monsters defend themselves by squirting blood out of their eyes; that would've been cool to add to this film. Instead, we get the most innocent teenage hot-rodder in movie history as the hero. As people go missing, the sheriff investigates and it all comes down to a teen to save the day, after he sings a song and tries to get a French girl with a very thick accent to drink from a puddle. The monster is never back-projected, so never shares the screen with its victims and all violence is off camera. The most amazing thing about this film is the blocking of scenes - once you notice that the sheriff always puts his foot up on an object to look casual, you'll see him looking for things to put his foot on.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ghoulies Go to College (1991)

aka Ghoulies III

How bad is it? Second sequel in an inferior franchise that ran dry in the original.
Should you see it? Only if you're a fan of someone in the cast.

This was released on VHS in the U.S., but on DVD overseas; that confusion seems to be par for this film. The critters (oops, sorry, that's a different rip-off of Gremlins) talk in this sequel for some reason... and they talk a lot. Kevin McCarthy plays the dean of a college, Jason Scott Lee is a member of one of two fraternities playing pranks on each other, Marcia Wallace plays Miss McButtock (yes, that's the level of humor) and Hope Marie Carlton and Eva LaRue are the eye candy. The ghoulies arise from a toilet after an incantation from a comic book. One victim is flushed down a toilet. There's a lot of toilets.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ganjasaurus Rex (1987)

How bad is it? Home movie made by stoners.
Should you see it? Maybe. It has a couple of laughs. If you're stoned, maybe a few more.

Shot on a home video recorder, this even has the time stamp showing through most of it; there's also stock footage of helicopters and police raids on marijuana fields that have different time stamps (that I noticed shows how bored I was). Police burn a marijuana crop that happens to have prehistoric plants that look suspiciously like sequoias and this awakens a dinosaur that lives on the plants. It goes on a rampage as it seeks marijuana. The dinosaur is a man-sized inflatable moved by stop-motion; it's held by hand to keep it in place and the hand is usually visible. It's mildly amusing, but it runs out of steam fast. The monster is forced into the ocean at the end.

Monday, September 19, 2016

From Hell It Came (1957)

How bad is it? It has one of the most laughable monsters ever created.
Should you see it? Yes. It's not perfect, but it has its moments.

This is one of those classic B-movies, like "The Brain from Planet Arous," that are beloved, despite their failings. In this, a native prince of a Pacific island returns from the dead as a walking tree. The rubber suited monster looks disgruntled, more than evil. There's a doctor and an anthropologist that are studying a plague or H-bomb fall-out; the two seem connected. Nothing really happens for the first half hour. There's a truly terrible British accent, some classic dud dialogue and maybe 15 minutes of rampage at the end. The monster's so slow and, well, wooden, that capturing people seems unlikely.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The First 9 1/2 Weeks (1998)

How bad is it? Unwanted low budget, direct to video sequel with nothing interesting.
Should you see it? No.

The second sequel to the erotic thriller "9 1/2 Weeks," this is a prequel that uses none of the cast of the original, nor any of the plot. Malcolm McDowell plays a millionaire in New Orleans (he can't do the accent), whose wife has an affair. Then things go wrong, there's a sheriff involved, there's some minor background characters that take their clothes off (it IS Mardi Gras, after all) and it all leads to a trick ending that's not worth the wait. The jazz soundtrack is forgettable, but better than the dialogue or acting.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fire Serpent (2007)

How bad is it? Typical SyFy channel cheese. Poorly done, low budget.
Should you see it? It's actually watchable, so on a slow night...

I watched this for a different reason than most viewers: it's supposed to take place in Minnesota and I like to see films that botch the local flavor [Just watched the much better "Contagion" that suggests Minneapolis is on an island in one scene, for example]. It gives William Shatner a creative credit and has the usual bunch of (then-named) Sci-Fi channel has-beens: Randolph Mantooth, Nicholas Brendon and Richard Beltran. Solar flares turn into monsters and start fires, but also sometimes become sentient ash and sometimes take over people's minds. The best scene has a woman cut in two with laser eyesight, though the CGI effects are universally poor. There's a lot of threads to tie together: Biblical prophecy, government cover-up, hitman and arsonist - which culminate in a stupid climax.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Final Storm (2010)

How bad is it? It might be Uwe Böll's second-best film, so... middling.
Should you see it? Nah.

There are a ton of people who are proclaiming Böll as the worst director around and he's not even in the bottom dozen. This film has decent performances by Luke Perry and Lauren Holly. It's a confused narrative arc about a romantic triangle, a post-apocalyptic change in weather, some supernatural horror... and then devolves into a psycho killer film. None of it's very interesting, but it is watchable.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Fat Spy (1966)

How bad is it? It's a "Beach Party" wannabe that fails. That's pretty grim.
Should you see it? Only if you're a huge fan of one of the stars.

Jack E. Leonard plays twins, one of whom is a cosmetics mogul who believes the fountain of youth is on an island off Florida (the other is a spy). Teenagers invade the island on a scavenger hunt. Phyllis Diller, Brian Donlevy and Jayne Mansfield make the least of their screen time. There's a lot of musical numbers, some of which aren't too bad. There's a mermaid. There's a dance called "The Turtle." There's a building set for destruction by air conditioning. There's about half a dozen intentional laughs.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Fascination (2004)

aka Heart of Stone

How bad is it? Dull and overblown.
Should you see it? No, unless you're a Jacqueline Bisset completist.

This erotic thriller was written decades before filming. A former Olympic swimmer drowns and his wife quickly remarries. Her son thinks it's murder and confides in his new stepsister and they fall in love. Then the stepsister starts looking suspicious as well. The second half of the film is overloaded with plot twists and surprise revelations. For an erotic thriller, there's no nudity and no tension.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Full Impact (1993)

aka American Streetfighter 2: Full Impact

How bad is it? One version's worse than the other, but both are pretty terrible.
Should you see it? Yes, if you like bad martial arts films.

Gary Daniels plays a bounty hunter that used to be a cop. He tracks a serial killer of prostitutes, which leads to a lot of nakedness on film. The climactic fight scene is really long and rather silly (it reminds me of Peter Griffin fighting the giant rooster on Family Guy). The voices were added in post-production - as were some bad sound effects - and they don't synch well. The camerawork is often shaky and poorly focused. The plot is thin and has a lot of holes, especially if you see the version called AS2, which seems to be missing entire scenes. Some of the dialogue is quite funny, unintentionally.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Farce of the Penguins (2006)

aka Penguin's March

How bad is it? This blows.
Should you see it? No.

Long before Bob Saget did little voice-overs for home videos on "America's Funniest Home Videos," he did one of the bluest stand-up routines; he's one of only 2, for example, who tell the whole joke in "The Aristocrats." Here, he tries to combine the two threads in a parody of "March of the Penguins," with no success at all, either as writer or director. Samuel L. Jackson narrates. Lewis Black, Tracy Morgan, Christina Applegate, Mo'Nique, Jason Alexander, Jim Belushi, Jason Biggs, Dane Cook, fellow "Full House" alums John Stamos and Dave Coulier, Harvey Fierstein, Whoopi Goldberg, Alyson Hannigan, Gilbert Gottfried, Jamie Kennedy, Brie Larson, John Lovitz and Norm MacDonald all contribute voices, but not laughs. The whole plot: penguin wants sex, has to cross Antarctica to get it. If this had been edited to a tight five minutes, it might've been great.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fateful Findings (2013)

How bad is it? It's barely a film. It's one of the worst-made films of recent years.
Should you see it? Yes. This will become the next "The Room."

Neil Breen has written, directed, starred in and edited a few films, this being his most entertainingly awful. It's hard to explain the plot - if one exists - but a man gains paranormal powers from a small black cube and possibly from a car accident and he then hacks into government and business computers, so he knows everything about a huge cover-up of some sort. The paranoia reminds me of Tom Loughin's "Billy Jack" films, as does the insistence that the lead character is irresistible to women and a genius. The scenes are somewhat random, with no transitions, no structure and no pacing. The acting is abysmal - far worse than most porn - and the dialogue is filled with quotable bad lines: "No more books!" and "I didn't know you committed suicide" being the highlights. There's unexplained mystical ghostly apparitions, terrible green screen, actors shot only from the neck down to disguise that they are playing multiple roles, a hospital room that consists of three oxygen tanks AND CARPETING (the one time comparison to Ed Wood makes sense). Laptops are in almost every scene, but they are never on and they are always thrown before the scene ends, as are phones, books and all other small objects.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Fall Down Dead (2007)

How bad is it? Waste of time.
Should you see it? No.

Udo Kier and David Carradine sleepwalk through this film, while the rest of the cast overact. On Christmas Eve (the first cliche of thousands), a killer tracks a witness to an office building that just happens to be in a rolling blackout. The phones also just happen not to work. The plot is awful, the dialogue worse, the soundtrack intrusive and the effects mediocre (it looks like a TV movie budget). There's a kevlar vest that only works when the plot requires it to. It's slow and doesn't even come to a satisfying end.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Foolish (1999)

How bad is it? Comedy with maybe three chuckles.
Should you see it? Not unless you're a huge fan of the stars.

Having done stand-up, I'm a hard audience for a film about a stand-up comic, so I was willing to go the extra mile for this, but it's not worthwhile. Two brothers, stand-up Eddie Griffin and criminal Master P, chase after Amy Petersen while grandma Marla Gibbs tries to give them advice. Griffin does a stage routine a few times, with the audience laughing way too hard. He rejects a film offer because it requires him to play a drag queen and he has integrity. The one good idea is that the ghost of Redd Foxx shows up as his muse, but only in restrooms.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid (1986)

aka Zeisters

How bad is it? Only the title's good. Worthless drivel.
Should you see it? No.

This is one of those low-budget films Troma bought, retitled and released. Two brothers take a large learning-disabled man from a camp to Manhattan for fun, which leads to vomiting in a fancy restaurant, ruining a wedding, lots of fart jokes, getting shot in a phone booth, being institutionalized and then being broken out by helicopter. Joan Allen appears, between her roles in "Manhunter" and "Peggy Sue Got Married" and the soundtrack is by the excellent Leo Kottke. The film is dull, pointless and misleading, as it tries to be heartwarming when one expects a romp.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Future Zone (1990)

How bad is it? Unwanted sequel to a terrible film with a small cult following.
Should you see it? Not really.

David A. Prior directed this sequel to his film "Future Force," which ignores all connections to that film, except having David Carradine and a robotic glove that can fly remote-controlled and shoots lasers. Ted Prior plays his son, who comes back from the future to save his life (and wears a shirt that will burn into your memory). Charles Napier shows up. The score is truly awful and intrusively goofy. This got satirized on RiffTrax, which is why some have given it high marks; on it's own, it's slow even though it runs just over 80 minutes.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Future Hunters (1986)

aka Deadly Quest, aka Spear of Destiny

How bad is it? Kitchen sink mess.
Should you see it? I give it the mildest possible approval.

This Roger Corman-produced, Cirio Santiago-directed Philippine film has been touted by both Svengoolie and Joe Bob Briggs. In the post-apocalyptic world of 2025, a man finds the spear used to pierce the side of Jesus, which lets him time travel to 1986. His plan is to re-unite the spear with its shaft, which supposedly will stop the holocaust from happening. Then he has to save a girl from a biker gang. Then throw in Shaolin monks, dwarves in caves, Amazons, Nazis, an earthquake, a car chase, helicopter sabotage and alligators. Whew, that's a lot of crap to fling at the screen! Nothing makes sense, the budget is styrofoam boulder-sized and there's no acting or writing to speak of. The constant action might - just MIGHT - be enough for some viewers.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Future Fear (1997)

aka Space Virus

How bad is it? Rock bottom effects and terrible editing make a tedious 77 minutes.
Should you see it? No.

This got some traction in the so-bad-it's-good world, but it's largely unwatchable, even though Maria Ford does undress. In the future of 2017, space viruses on a probe crash to Earth, dooming humanity. A scientist has embryos that are resistant and he wants to use them for a vaccine, but his wife wants them brought to term - so they have a plunger fight (I'm not kidding); in fact, this fight gets intercut with previous love scenes, just to make it worse. Oh, and the love scenes include a Mad Hatter tea party recreation. Produced by Roger Corman, this has some of the cheapest effects and some of the worst dialogue ("Eating just saved my life" says a guy who stops one of the few action scenes to make a sandwich). Stacy Keach does the bare minimum for a paycheck as a racist who wants to repopulate the Earth in his own image. This sounds more entertaining than it is.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Funnyman (1994)

aka Funny Man

How bad is it? Attempted cult film is very hit-and-miss.
Should you see it? If you're more into unique than good, maybe.

This is a British attempt to create a Freddy Krueger/Jason Voorhees type character and it has its devotees, mostly British, so maybe it's a cultural thing (like: a man in a dress is always funny in England and not in the U.S.) Christopher Lee loses a mansion in a card game, so he conjures up a killer court jester and then disappears to collect his paycheck. The cast is just fodder for the evil clown, who kills in admittedly inventive ways, sometimes quite surreally, and then makes a joke (which never lands). There's a duck gun, a puppet decapitation, a high heel to the eye and, in the best sequence, a hand becoming a rocket launcher. One character is an impersonation of Velma (named "Velma!") of "Scooby Doo." It's a real mixed bag, odd just to be odd and so might merit watching just to see something different.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Freeway Maniac (1989)

aka Breakdown

How bad is it? It's pretty amazingly bad.
Should you see it? Yes. It's one of the more entertaining bad films.

Written by Gahan Wilson, this makes fun of low-budget filmmaking, while being one of the worst-made low-budget films; how much of this was intentional is hard to say. A boy kills his mother and her boyfriend, escapes prison as an adult and gets stopped by an actress who parlays the notoriety into a role in a sci-fi film being shot in the desert. He then escapes again and hunts her and the film crew. Funniest scene involves eating a rattlesnake. There's a cheapo wooden spaceship and rock monster, a plastic bear claw attack, a chainsaw attack, a fall broken by a victim's belly, visibly breathing dead people and some awful 1980's clothing (including a plaid suit) and hair.