Friday, April 28, 2017

A Place Called Today (1972)

aka City in Fear

How bad is it? For an X-Rated film, it's pretty dull.
Should you see it? No.

Cheri Caffaro has had a cult following, though I've never understood it. Her "Ginger" films are like all other hardboiled woman action sleaze, except that Caffaro would get naked - actually, she'd always get raped, which, given that the director (Don Schain) was her husband, is creepy. She gets raped again in this film, again directed by her husband, and then killed, as she isn't the star of the film for once. Neither is Lana Wood, who has a bigger role (the only other recognizable actor is Harry Reems in an uncredited cameo; many sources mention Janet Leigh, of all people, being in this, but if she were, her scenes were cut). The "star" of the film is social and political commentary, of which the film is replete. The film consists largely of static shots of people very angrily shouting about racial conflicts, usually straight into the camera. The plot, such as it is, has a mayoral candidate inciting racial violence to catapult him into office - that sounds more relevant to today's politics than it is.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Polanski Unauthorized (2009)

aka Polanski

How bad is it? Perhaps the worst biopic I've seen.
Should you see it? No.

Roman Polanski's led an unusual life that's not easy to encapsulate, but this film does no justice at all to the subject. The story ping-pongs between times involving such things as his mother being raped in a Nazi prison camp, his statutory rape of a 13 year-old (played by a woman who looks 20) and the filming of "Rosemary's Baby," where he had a satanist on staff. There's a suggestion that it was actually the Devil himself, plus Polanski's being European and maybe just a bit of mental illness that led to his downfall, but it's such a muddle that nothing gets said. It's also dull.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pulsebeat (1985)

How bad is it? The worst of the aerobics exploitation films of the 1980's.
Should you see it? If you can find it and you're a fan of the sub-genre.

After "Perfect" and "Heavenly Bodies" and not crossing genres like "Aerobicide," this is the end of the line for aerobics films. A guy who owns a gym, but has a fear of failure, is pushed toward an aerobics competition (including a bike race on stationary bikes) against a rival gym that's been stealing away his best instructors. When people are clothed - there's so much nudity that there's actually nudity during the credits - they're wearing the most atrocious spandex and lycra outfits with leg warmers and their hair teased to its limits. There's sex in a weight room as well as in a shower and there are so many exercise montages that they almost overlap; the cameraman hovers over bodies in as perverted a way as possible. The acting and dialogue could be in a porn film and the film's story is such that you keep wondering if you zoned out and missed it. Unfortunately, zoning out is all too frequent, as this is a dull little snoozefest.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Penitentiary III (1987)

How bad is it? Perhaps the worst men's prison film.
Should you see it? It's so weird I have to say yes.

The first two films in this series were strange, but the third one is so odd that it becomes self-parody. A boxer is given a drug that makes him so violent that he kills a man in the ring, so he's sent to prison. This prison, first of all, has a dungeon. Second, it has a little person, "Midnight Thud," that's like a feral ninja, occasionally unleashed on unruly prisoners; this leads to some bizarre fight scenes worth watching. Then the boxer is trained by the the little guy in boxing/martial arts/wrestling and this leads to the final redemptive fight. There's a lot of crack smoking in this film and, I suspect, in the writer's apartment.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Please Don't Eat My Mother! (1973)

aka Sexpot Swingers, aka Glump, aka Hungry Pets, aka Please Not My Mother, aka Please Release My Mother

How bad is it? Bottom-tier 1970's soft-core.
Should you see it? I can't imagine why you should.

This is an obvious remake of "Little Shop of Horrors" that escapes legal action by adding sex subplots and removing what wit or charm the original may have had. A 40 year-old living with his mother is unable to get a girlfriend, so he becomes a peeping Tom. This means that our main character does little but stare and leer while the cameraman shoots mostly unattractive people having sex. One couple is in a park, but manage to be in the same sex act every time they're peeped upon, supposedly over the course of days. The guy then buys a plant that eats people and his mother gets dispatched about half-way through the film - and she's such a harridan that you'll be glad and feel that her son must be of two minds about it - and he then becomes attached to the plant and recruits more victims. The director gave himself a small role as a detective. Porn star Rene Bond is the only recognizable, um, face. The jokes, such as they are, fall flat.

The Playgirl Killer (1967)

aka Decoy for Terror

How bad is it? Low-budget lurid trash, but watchable.
Should you see it? Yes. It's a classic of sorts.

William Kerwin, who had been in H.G. Lewis films under the names Thomas Wood and Tommy Smallwood, stars in this film, did the writing with his brother and directed at least some of it. Similar to Lewis' "Color Me Blood Red," this is the story of an artist, who, upset by his models moving - such as breathing - kills them and stores them in a meat locker. The police send a girl in undercover as bait. Neil Sedaka (!?) lounges by the pool for the first 30 minutes, having little to do with the plot, but supplying two songs, including "Waterbug," before disappearing. The film seems to have been made for Canadian television, but the video version has shots that couldn't be aired. It's silly and badly acted, but it does seem coherent.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Once Upon a Time in Brooklyn (2013)

aka Goat

How bad is it? Dull gangster film.
Should you see it? Nope.

This has decent cinematography and a good cast, including Armand Assante, Cathy Moriarty, Ice-T, Ja Rule and Vincent Pastore, but it will disappoint anyone expecting this to be a standard gangster film. There are no drugs, car chases or sex scenes and almost no swearing or deaths. What you do get is a guy fresh out of jail going back to what put him in jail and wondering if that's what he's cut out to do. Add some intrusive guitar music to his musings and stretch to 100 minutes. It's not terrible, but it is a waste.

Friday, April 21, 2017

One Missed Call (2008)

How bad is it? Perhaps the most disappointing horror film of the decade.
Should you see it? No.

Miike has directed some of the most interesting horror films of this generation, but his "One Missed Call" (2003) was a bit of a misfire. This western remake is far worse. Voice mails from the future presage people's deaths, with time, place and some details. Ed Burns barely stays awake through this and you will have trouble as well. Margaret Cho and Ariel Winter show up. There is no tension or scares, but there is an ending that is completely lame and comes much too late. Ho-hum.

Sorry to return from my vacation from posting with such a loser of a film.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

One Million AC/DC (1969)

How bad is it? Pretty terrible even by 1960's soft-core standards.
Should you see it? It's only for Ed Wood fanatics.

Cashing in on the popularity of the Raquel Welch film "One Million Years B.C." and recycling some footage from "One Million B.C." (color-tinted), this was at least partly written by Ed Wood Jr. There's a virgin sacrifice that involves straight and lesbian sex, plus rape with dildo and it's really uncomfortable to watch. There's also rape by gorilla. There's a cat-fight to the death. The director has a cameo (hard to describe, but he has a typical porn 'stache of the time). The puppet from "The Mighty Gorga" is re-used and the one laugh is when a static plastic puppet is hunted with spears that fall woefully short. There's some very old jokes delivered poorly, but mostly this is just non-stop sex... also delivered poorly.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Ozone: Attack of the Redneck Mutants (1986)

How bad is it? It's both better and worse than the title suggests.
Should you see it? Don't go out of your way, but if you like 1980's gore films, then maybe.

This was shot on Super-8 video, with post-synched sound and there's a lot of mouths moving to different words than what you hear. It looks like there was an attempt to punch up the humor in post-production. Zombies (mutants) are created by a chemical company's punching a hole in the ozone layer and then they create new ones by puking on them. There's a female environmentalist hero going against a male industrialist and they do not end up romantically involved, fortunately. Not much happens for 80 minutes, then there's a lot of carnage that's way over the top, but not done particularly well. In the mean time, you get treated to such things as a geriatric redneck drunken karaoke contest.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ocean Drive Weekend (1985)

How bad is it? Perhaps the worst "Porky's" clone.
Should you see it? No.

She is the best part of this film.

I think I saw this on USA Channel's "Up All Night," (which was quite a while ago)* and it was briefly released on video by Troma. Supposedly Miami in the 1960's, this is a very 1980's California film, where hopelessly stereotyped college students - played by amateur actors in their 30's - occasionally remember their dialogue and sometimes break into song. There's no plot, no real (intentional) laughs and it runs out of steam quickly.

*Just looked it up. It's not listed as having been on that show.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Omega Doom (1996)

How bad is it? It's one of Albert Pyun's better films, so pretty bad.
Should you see it? Not unless you're a fan of Pyun or Rutger Hauer.

Take the plot of "Yojimbo," place it in the world of "Terminator 2" and lower the budget to a few sets on one city block and you get this film. Rutger Hauer plays an android whose memory is wiped and who gets between two rival factions of androids seeking a cache of guns needed for when the humans arrive. The humans don't arrive. Shannon Whirry has a role and surprisingly keeps her clothes on. More existential science fiction than an action film, this is slower than most Albert Pyun films, with stupid dialogue and no real characterization. There's a bit of interesting weaponry and even an attempt at style, but it's nothing special.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

One Man Army (1994)

How bad is it? Poor generic martial arts film.
Should you see it? No.

This was the second film starring Jerry Trimble, directed by Cirio Santiago and produced by Roger Corman (Live by the Fist was first, "Stranglehold" third). It's essentially "Walking Tall" set in the Philippines, though it's supposed to be southern California - the Mexicans look quite Filipino. The story has a champion martial artist go to his grandfather's funeral, only to find that the area's run by corrupt police and businessmen, with gambling, prostitution and smuggling and then he has to clean up the town. In the climactic scene, he unloads his gun on one guy, when there are several others, and it's his dog Hank (played by "Yup," according to the credits) that does the most damage. It's all very by-the-numbers. Melissa Moore plays the love interest.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Operation Delta Force 5: Random Fire (2000)

How bad is it? Completely generic action without direction.
Should you see it? No.

The director of the second film in the series returns and Todd Jensen plays a third character, but no one else returns for this last installment and it has no real connection to the previous films. Delta Force tries to rescue an ambassador, but men get left behind to be turned into suicide bombers through mind control. Now they have to be rescued before they act (the ambassador is forgotten). There's plenty of slo-mo, plot holes everywhere, continuity errors (the number of people on screen changes between shots and Boston has palm trees), bad acting and inane dialogue. There's only one good action shot, where a plane crashes into a train. This is incredibly generic: any character could be any of the others and any location could be anywhere.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Operation Delta Force (1997)

aka Great Soldiers, aka Operation Delta Force 1

How bad is it? Nearly competent.
Should you see it? You won't remember if you did.

This TV film had four video sequels (and a review of one of them is next). Trying hard to be mistaken for the similarly named Chuck Norris films, this has South African terrorists steal some Ebola virus and its antidote [I worked in a virology lab. I have more issues with this than you'd care to read.] Jeff Fahey, Ernie Hudson, Frank Zagarino and a completely forgettable actress are called in to stop them, but Jeff blames Ernie for his brother's death and Frank hates women in uniform. Joe Lara plays the bad guy fairly well and Hal Holbrook almost literally phones in his lines as a general. They find the bad guy, he escapes, they get new intel... and repeat ad nauseum. There's a decent shoot-out on a train, a village blown up from dune buggies, a drop off a bridge, but it's all done with a minimum of excitement.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Operation Golden Phoenix (1994)

How bad is it? Amateurish martial arts flick.
Should you see it? Probably not.

Jalal Mehri was a Lebanese martial artist and this was his directorial debut, making himself the star. Much of his dialogue is hard to understand because he has a very heavy accent. James Hong is the only recognizable actor. The plot revolves around an amulet - then two amulets - which have to be put together to make a map. The film is heavily padded, with a lot of travel scenes in Beirut and even watching the star read a map. The pacing is snail slow, there are a lot of improbable coincidences, the climactic fight is not choreographed well (if at all) and the boom mike is visible in the final scene.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Operation Warzone (1988)

How bad is it? One of David Prior's better war films; in other words, dreadful.
Should you see it? No.

David A. Prior has a cult following among bad movie fans and this film is one of his better, thus less interesting, directorial efforts. A courier with a classified document is lost in Vietnam during the war and a platoon search for him, only to find it's a plan to sell weapons to the enemy. Joe Spinell is the only name actor and he has little to do. There's way too many plot twisting double-crosses to follow, but that doesn't matter, as the film is just explosions (too far away from those who react) and shirts filled with squibs. The music is way too cheerful for the serious scenes, the scenery and clothes scream 1980's California rather than 1960's Vietnam, there's an unexplained Australian and at least two dead characters return later in the film.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Night of Terror (1986)

aka Escape from the Insane Asylum

How bad is it? Truly awful. Pathetically awful.
Should you see it? No (it's very hard to find, anyway).

This film has been getting attention because it has Renee Harmon in it and she's been in some of the worst films: Run Coyote Run, Executioner Part II, Lady Street Fighter, Van Nuys Blvd., Cinderella 2000 and Frozen Scream. This film actually lifts scenes from "Frozen Scream," filmed a decade earlier, and Harmon's age is obviously different in those. The plot is about abductions for amateur brain surgery experiments in an insane asylum. I had to watch it 10 minutes at a time because it was too dull for a continuous watch.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Nora's Hair Salon (2004)

How bad is it? Painfully unfunny comedy.
Should you see it? No, though it has a strong cult following among black audiences.

This film, which has had two direct-to-video sequels so far, is probably immune to criticism; just as the audience for brainless action films like all brainless action films, fans of contemporary black comedies will like this, unless they expect another "Barbershop." Jenifer Lewis, Tamala Jones, Tatyana Ali, Bobby Brown (as an abusive boyfriend), Claudia Jordan, and Lil Kim and Whitney Houston (in a cameo) as themselves do very little with a hackneyed script involving a lot of stereotypes. The one serious moment, involving a heart attack, unintentionally has the funniest line. It reminded me of a poor episode of a 1970's TV show aimed at black audiences. How so many "names" appear in such a low budget independent film is the one remarkable aspect.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Natas: The Reflection (1983/1986)

How bad is it? Really cheap and poorly acted, with a terrible ending.
Should you see it? You know, I'm going to say yes - it's refreshingly weird.

The first problem with this film is that the "surprise" is that the reflection of "Natas" gives "Satan," which is only slightly less obvious than all the old "Alucard" films. A reporter goes into the New Mexico hills to find the legendary gatekeeper to Hell, named "Natas." He's given direction by a very old Native American (actor Nino Cochise was believed to be 109 when this was filmed - he died in 1984 - but was probably the son of Ciyo Cochise who was born in 1874) and finds himself in a ghost town filled with zombie cowboys, who act just like regular cowboys, except they're dead. There's a final confrontation with the gargoylish "Natas" that has terrible special effects and then a resolution that completely undermines the whole film. Having seen so many terrible films, it's nice to see something that, while impossibly cheap, is unusual. The downside is that the film is slow and dull and no one in it can act.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Narcosys (2000)

How bad is it? Imagine the "Matrix" filmed by a junior high schooler. Worse than that.
Should you see it? No. There's a small chance that, in 30 years, people will look at this the way that we look at bad 1980's films, though.

This appears to have been an attempt to cash in on "The Matrix." There's cyberpunk and raves and drugs and computer animation and weird fashion. There's little coherent plot or acting, however. In a dystopian future of 2018, corporations run the world by keeping people drugged and they want to reinforce their control with an engineered virus. Then a bunch of annoying characters fill the screen for far too long and eventually it ends. Really - that's the review: images are on the screen.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Ninja Champion (1986)

aka Ninja Connection, aka Poisonous Rose Stripping the Night, aka Poisonous Rose of Night

How bad is it? Not the worst Godfrey Ho ninja film of 1986, but that's damning with faint praise.
Should you see it? Yes, if you've never seen a Godfrey Ho film before. It's one of the more interesting ones.

 I'm guessing those are the Chinese ideograms for "Ninja."

This is the third consecutive Godfrey Ho ninja film from 1986 I've covered and there won't be a fourth. Once again, he took an apparently unfinished film and spliced in footage of Richard Harrison as a ninja fighting others (including Dragon Lee), without explanation and with the bad guys frequently just showing up and disappearing again. One guy disappears mid-jump. It's a film where a woman seeks revenge for a rape, so she becomes a diamond smuggler (don't expect logic) who hides the diamonds in her breasts. In the shot where this surprise is revealed, her breasts and most of the bottom half of the screen is weirdly obscured, though we see her topless frequently later. The woman often changes shoes four or five times per scene, if you seek continuity errors. In the version I saw, Sho Kosugi (unbilled) introduces the film, never to be seen again. There's a scene where one character explains the plot to another, though they share no scenes. Music lifted from "Star Wars" and "Dark Side of the Moon" is used. There's an identical twin sub-plot. The masked rapists are identified by "female intuition." [My head hurts.]