Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Moonshine Mountain (1964)

aka White Trash on Moonshine Mountain

How bad is it? Poor hicksploitation musical comedy/drama with horror elements (bit of a mess).
Should you see it? Only if you're a H.G. Lewis completionist.

Gore pioneer Herschel Gordon Lewis has a 17 disc box set that includes this, an atypical non-gore film of his; the quality of the sound and image are sometimes quite poor and there are missing frames, but there was an attempt to restore what they could. It's the story of a country musician that goes back to North Carolina for inspiration, but runs into a hillbilly family with a still and the revenuers that want to shut them down. Lewis wrote the many songs and they're not bad; it's mostly played as "laugh at the hillbillies" but there are some serious elements (an axe attack, for example) and it just never finds solid ground.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Mirror Wars: Reflection One (2005)

How bad is it? Dull action film, but not awful.
Should you see it? No. Unless you're a huge fan of the cast or of fighter jets.

This is a Cold War actioner that is a bit different, as it's from the Russian point of view. Malcolm McDowell plays a arms dealer who wants to steal a special Russian fighter jet. The hero is a Russian pilot considered a traitor because of a romantic fling with an American who happened to be an intelligence agent. There's a lot of good flying sequences and crashes, not done in CGI for a change, but the film is still dull, with McDowell, Armand Assante and Rutger Hauer (in a small part) sleepwalking through their roles. There's some stock footage of tigers and the dubbing isn't great, but there's nothing too terrible about this; it's just a waste of time.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Mutants in Paradise (1984)

How bad is it? Pretty awful. Dreadful, in fact.
Should you see it? No.

The director of this film obviously is a fan of John Waters, but other than having Edith Massey in a small role and zero budget, this has no other point of comparison. It's a version of "The Six Million Dollar Man," except that in this case, the medical enhancements only cause problems, some personal, some involving Russians who kidnap his boss's daughter in order to trap him. It's played for laughs, but maybe one in 20 work - and to be fair, those that work are really quite funny - and it seems to have been haphazardly and quickly thrown together.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

MegaFault (2009)

How bad is it? Very cheap implausible disaster movie.
Should you see it? It's actually enjoyable, but don't go out of your way to see it.

This was made by The Asylum and shown as a SyFy original, which is a terrible pedigree, but this is one of their better efforts. It stars Brittany Murphy in her last role and Eriq La Salle, with the rest of the cast being disposable. Underground demolition in Kentucky starts a massive earthquake to endanger all of North America and it's a race against time to stop it. The plan to freeze it using satellites is beyond preposterous, but the film isn't really about that; it's about explosions and there are scores of those. The cheapness is very obvious, not just in the CGI, but mannequins substitute for guards at one point and there's what looks like a garage door in a plane's cockpit. If you focus on the poor plot, poor acting and general cheese, it's pathetic, but if you just want a dumb action film, it delivers the goods.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Monster Dog (1984)

How bad is it? Somewhat below average quality, but by no means terrible.
Should you see it? Sure. It's entertaining despite itself.

Alice Cooper stars as a rock star who goes back to his hometown to shoot a video (two complete videos are embedded in the film), only to hear that people seem to be getting killed by wolves. Then there's a rumor that Cooper's father was a werewolf. There's a lot of dry ice and blue lights and one set seems to be used for everything. Everyone's dubbed - it was shot in Italy - whether or not they speak English. The director's famous for doing "Troll 2," but this is not like that. There's a nightmare sequence and a twist ending that'll leave you scratching your head and the monster dog (which can control other dogs) is a not-great puppet. It's all very lightweight and silly, but charming for what it is.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Mad Monster (1942)

How bad is it? A slow Poverty Row monster movie.
Should you see it? If you run across it. It's watchable.

Neither as good nor as bad as one might hope, this was on MST3K and I've seen it several times without their commentary as well. George Zucco plays a mad scientist, as usual, who injects wolf blood into his handyman Glenn Strange, turning him into a sort of werewolf. When not a monster, Strange seems to be parodying Lenny from "Of Mice and Men." It's so cheap that most of the action happens off-screen and what you do see is poorly done. It's pretty typical of cheap monster movies of the time, but it has long dull stretches, with just a few silly moments.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Manipulator (1971)

How bad is it? Irritating. Average, but irritating.
Should you see it? If you have a high tolerance for weird.

This is one of those "if you make it weird enough, they'll think it's a masterpiece" films. Mickey Rooney plays an insane man who keeps Luana Anders hostage, imagining he's filming "Cyrano de Bergerac." Keenan Wynn has a cameo and other actors are billed, but it's a two-person show. It pulls out all the tricks for "crazy," whether off-kilter camera angles or stage antics. There's a lot of slaughterhouse beefs and other odd props, Rooney tries to portray a woman at one point and the dialogue is elliptical and stream-of-conscious. I got bored quickly. It may be an acting tour-de-force, but it's not entertainment.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Mark of the Beast (1990)

aka Fertilize the Blaspheming Bombshell, aka Triangle of Death

How bad is it? Really, really bad.
Should you see it? No.

Troma released this in a 3-pack, giving it a great new title. That doesn't change the fact that the film is awful. Technically, it's all under-lit and the dialogue is often out of sync and drowned by music that doesn't fit the scene (possibly added by Troma to make it even worse). The plot has a woman search for her sister who's been abducted by devil worshippers and ends up in car (and dune buggy) chases and fights, while wearing only panties and a flimsy blouse. Bo Hopkins is in this mess, surprisingly.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Massive Retaliation (1984)

How bad is it? I started thinking of what order I wanted to kill the people in it. (Pretty bad)
Should you see it? No way.

This film was released only on videotape (and Beta, at that) in the U.S., but there's a UK import on DVD. Three couples, upon hearing the possibility of nuclear war, head to their survivalist bunker. Their kids have some trouble getting there. There's one moment of entertainment, involving a search for a water pump, otherwise this is stilted political jargon piled on top of cliched characters overacting and a plot that's been done infinitely better several times elsewhere. Apparently, it's not a big deal to lose a child or two. This film probably still exists because it was the first film of Bobcat Goldthwait, who plays Redneck #2.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Malibu Shark Attack (2009)

How bad is it? Lowest common denominator shark attack film.
Should you see it? No.

I haven't reviewed a shark film in a while. This SyFy original attempts to combine "Baywatch" with the usual shark attack film, substituting Australia for Malibu. An underwater earthquake creates a tsunami that brings the deep-dwelling goblin sharks to shore. The CGI sharks are poorly done, there's little tension, the plot is minimal, the acting weak and even the pretty people in swimsuits are nothing special. Ho hum.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Material Girls (2006)

How bad is it? Insufferable fluff from Duff&Duff.
Should you see it? No. Some of the cast is interesting, but that's all.

Hilary and Haylie Duff play what appears to be a version of the Olsen Twins, as heirs to a cosmetic industry that someone's trying to take down. Much of the film revolves around spoiled rich girls trying to ride a bus or do laundry. I kept thinking: Devil Wears Prada, Poor Little Rich Girl, The Maid... there are so many better films that it seems to try being a teen version of - without success. Maria Conchita Alonso, Anjelica Huston, Brent Spiner, Lukas Haas, Colleen Camp, Judy Tenuta, Joel and Benji Madden and, inexplicably Olympic sprinter Carl Lewis (as a reporter) make the least of what screen time they have. The stars are likeable, the director has made some adequate lightweight comedies, but this one just has nothing going for it.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Maslin Beach (1997)

How bad is it? A quirky light comedy that doesn't quite work. Not terrible.
Should you see it? Not really.

This has received some very low scores among reviewers, which I don't think it deserves, because it 1) shows a lot of average-looking naked people and 2) has been classified as a "romantic comedy." The film consists entirely of vignettes on a nude beach in Australia, with people discussing relationships, sex, love... and farting; in fact, there's a lot of farting. There isn't, however, much romance or comedy. It seems largely unscripted, which is a problem and, while taking place in one day, the sun angle changes back and forth. Essentially, nothing happens.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mark of the Astro-Zombies (2004)

How bad is it? It's about high-school-play-on-camcorder level.
Should you see it? Tough call. If you liked other Mikels films, then go ahead and see it.

Added: Somehow, I neglected to mention that this is a sequel to Ted Mikels' "Astro-Zombies."

This sequel came more than 30 years after the original and returns Tura Satana (who's still fun to watch, but it looks like it was a rough 30 years) and, get this - the head of John Carradine (papier mache). Lizard-like aliens in masks that can't move have a plan to take over the world by turning people into zombies with their army of maybe 12 aliens with (obvious prop) machetes. Liz Renay and Brinke Stevens are in the cast, adding to the nostalgia factor. There's still too much exposition and the sets are minimal; the FBI and CIA are in the same building! There's a lengthy chase scene and more killing than in the original, but it's even cheaper, despite some CGI, being filmed on video and there are points when it verges on self-parody.

Monday, February 13, 2017

My 5 Wives (2000)

aka My Five Wives

How bad is it? The second-worst Rodney Dangerfield film (after Meet Wally Sparks).
Should you see it? Fans of Rodney will enjoy it.

Rodney Dangerfield plays a real estate developer whose plans to buy land from a religious community to build a ski resort requires him to marry the previous owner's three wives. Another deal nets the other two wives. Andrew "Dice" Clay plays a gangster who, with banker John Byner, try to steal the land from Rodney.  Molly Shannon plays a feminist self-help guru and Jerry Stiller has a small role. Rodney, thrice-divorced before this escapade, has trouble satisfying his wives - including sexually - and more trouble with the religious conversion that requires him to give up vices like drinking, smoking and gambling. It's the kind of film that strings together old stand-up routines, which if you haven't heard the jokes before, are pretty good.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Marilyn: Alive and Behind Bars (1992)

How bad is it? It's pretty damn bad.
Should you see it? If you can find it (it's bootleg only) and you may have seen part of it before.

The story behind this film is better than the actual film. "Night Train to Terror" was made as an anthology of three films including what was an unfinished project that makes up the bulk of this film. The editing for the anthology tightens things up quite a bit, as the full unfinished film had a bit of new footage added and was released as "Scream Your Head Off," which was released on VHS without the knowledge of the director [I've seen that, too]. The director then decided to finish the film his own way, which became this film; unfortunately, his lead actor had visibly aged and he shot on video, which causes some glaring continuity problems.

The story, such as it is, has a guy drunk driving and causing his bride's death. He then attempts suicide, but awakes in a private hospital - or mansion, or something (it's all iffy) - where mind control and drugs force him to lure women into becoming sex slaves in the Mideast. Then there's the hospital attendant, played by Richard Moll (who has hair, unlike in his "Night Court" and later appearances, and who's billed as Charles Moll), who likes to chop people up. Then add a romance with a woman who claims to be Marilyn Monroe, played by Francine York (a nice touch of class), abducted 30 years earlier. Of course there's an escape and revenge, but less gore than in "Night Train to Terror." All in all, it's a trainwreck.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Mercenaries (2011) and Mercenaries (2014)

I saw one of these looking for the other. I expect others will, too.

Mercenaries (2011):

How bad is it? Really poor action film.
Should you see it? No.

A U.S. ambassador is kidnapped in the Balkans after a military coup and a group of mercenaries come to the rescue. Billy Zane has a small role. The film's dull and obvious, with action scenes that could be done by any amateur.

Mercenaries (2014):

How bad is it? Stupid action flick. Intentionally cheesy.
Should you see it? Only if a fan of someone in the cast.

Female commandos infiltrate a women's prison - in a war zone, no less - to rescue the President's daughter, who's been kidnapped. This Asylum production hits every cliche imaginable, but seemingly knowingly. Zoe Bell, Cynthia Rothrock, Vivica A. Fox and Brigitte Nielsen all have roles. No one takes it very seriously. The director, Christopher Douglas Olen Ray, has made a number of trash films, and though I have no proof, HAS to be the son of Fred Olen Ray or is doing homage to him.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Grandpa Is a Vampire (1992)

aka Grampire, aka Monnrise

How bad is it? Horror comedy for teens that isn't horror, comedy or for teens.
Should you see it? Sadly, no.

Al Smith, who played "Grampa," a vampire, on the "Munsters" plays a Grampa, a vampire, in this film, though it's not exactly the same character. Over 80 years-old when this was filmed, Lewis had been playing the same type of character in various formats - such as horror movie host - for decades. A boy goes home from the U.S. to New Zealand, only to have his grandfather die. Then the boy and his friend see Grampa seemingly alive again and find out that he's a vampire, but a good vampire. The film has endless corny jokes, none of which really work. The film has a decent look (the director and cinematographer are professional), with a blue tint being used for day-for-night shots, but the story drags and the supposed heartwarming story just doesn't add up to anything.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Munchies (1987)

How bad is it? Minor knock-off of Gremlins with problems defining its audience.
Should you see it? Not really.

Roger Corman produced this late knock-off of "Gremlins," coming after Critters, Ghoulies and Hobgoblins (some of which I reviewed earlier) and starring Harvey Korman. A paleontologist wishing to prove that aliens visited Earth actually finds one in an Incan (looks more Mayan) temple. If it gets cut up, it becomes more aliens. The one variation in this from others of its type is that the aliens seem to become bad in imitation of those around them; unfortunately, that means the film is full of schmucks. The munchies are not only mischievous and violent, but spend a lot of time looking up skirts - in fact, that's pictured on the DVD box. The two in-name-only sequels I've already reviewed.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Munchie Strikes Back (1994)

How bad is it? Dreadful and lame.
Should you see it? Only if you liked Munchie and aren't disappointed by sophomore slumps.

The alien Munchie is indeed back in this sequel, but is now voiced by Howard Hesseman, rather than Dom DeLuise. Loni Anderson returns, as do Angus Scrimm, Andrew Stevens and the annoying lead kid actor and the cast now includes Lesley-Anne Down and John Byner. The jokes still aren't aimed at kids, but there are fewer cleavage shots and more jokes about Reaganomics, Donald Trump and the Hillside Strangler. There's a scene in heaven with Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and Col. Sanders. There's footage borrowed from "Death Race 2000" with this film's characters just layered on. The plot still has an alien trying to redeem himself by helping a child whose father died and whose mom loses her job just as she has a mortgage balloon payment (what kid film has balloon payments?!) The end credits suggest a further sequel, Munchie Hangs Ten, which was never made.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Munchie (1992)

How bad is it? Bad kids film that goes nowhere and then adds adult matter.
Should you see it? I can't believe I'm saying this, but yes - for the cast.

I like Jim Wynorski's early jokey trash films and this fits into that group. Supposedly a sequel to "Munchies," this abandons everything from that film to have a single small monster help a child with his problems, be it bullies or his mom dating someone he doesn't like. The puppet's voiced by Dom DeLuise, the mom is Loni Anderson and there are roles for Arte Johnson, Jennifer Love Hewitt (billed as Love Hewitt), Monique Gabrielle, Fred Olen Ray, George Buck Flower, Angus Scrimm and Brinke Stevens. There's a lot of cleavage shown for a kid film and a lot of double entendres, making it a questionable kid film, but a very typical Wynorski film. The story doesn't add up to much and the special effects are... well, there's a flying pizza. This had a sequel, which I'll also review.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Moving Target (1988)

How bad is it? Very shoddy and confusing, but technically okay.
Should you see it? Only if you're a Linda Blair fan or Ernest Borgnine completist.

This is NOT the Justin Bateman TV film of the same name and same year, but an obscure VHS-only film with Ernest Borgnine, Linda Blair and Stuart Whitman. Motorcyclist is killing people for a key. A blonde girl is topless for no reason throughout the film. There's Borgnine as a detective and a reporter, a tennis pro and a doctor and none of them are Linda Blair, whose role I never really figured out. There's some odd line deliveries, perhaps due to the Italian director, some typically bad 1980's fashions and a plot that's impossible to follow or care about.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Might Gorga (1966)

How bad is it? It's one of the worst giant gorilla films, which is a big field.
Should you see it? Sure.

Scott Brady and Anthony Eisley are the biggest names in this extremely poor King Kong wannabe film. There's an extremely long expedition to a plateau with plenty of stock footage and a witch doctor that's embarrassing. There's a bad actress love interest. There's a T-Rex that's sort of a hand puppet just shook in front of the camera. And then there's the monster, seen only from the waist up (I hope this was an attempt to make him look bigger, but I think they only had half a costume) and with mismatched eyes and non-moving mouth.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Man With Two Heads (1972)

aka Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Blood

How bad is it? The worst Jekyll and Hyde film.
Should you see it? No.

I think most people find this looking for either "The Man with Two Brains" or "The Thing with Two Heads." It's yet another Andy Milligan piece of shit. This one was filmed while he was in England and has a somewhat coherent plot, as it follows the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, though in this film he's called Mr. Daniel Blood. R.L. Stevenson's name is misspelled in the credits. This could have been a good film in capable hands, as it explores the sadistic and misogynistic Jack the Ripper-esque side of the character's personality (something Milligan explores in every film). Blood kills his assistant, a prostitute and his fiancee', all with Milligan's unsteady camera, poor montage and cheap makeup. It surprisingly does well in keeping with the time frame of the story, which Milligan usually skip. So, it's one of the most competent of Milligan's film, but also one of the duller ones.