As usual here at Balladeer’s Blog I like to cover those things that tend to fly under the radar to a large degree. On this page I’ll be looking at bad/weird movies that don’t seem to have the following they deserve. Remember, these are bad/weird movies that I feel aren’t as famous as they should be, so widely-recognized classics like Plan 9 From Outer Space, Robot Monster, The Creeping Terror, Creation Of The Humanoids, Prince of Space, Astro-Zombies, Horror Of Party Beach, The Giant Claw, Manos, The Hands Of Fate, etc, etc will not be listed here. My rating system is not by stars but by categories. NOTE: I WILL BE ADDING PLENTY MORE AS TIME GOES ON.
BONUS FEATURE- Before MST3K there was The Texas 27 Film Vault! Before Joel and Mike lovers of bad movies had Randy and Richard! Before Devil Dogs, Observers and Deep 13 there came Cellumites, giant rats and Level 31!
In the mid 1980′s a two and a half hour-long program called The Texas 27 Film Vault was the show to watch for wry mockery of Golden Turkeys preceded by episodes of vintage Republic Serials like Radar Men From The Moon and Canadian Mounties vs Atomic Invaders. Want more info? See this interview –
MY EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH RANDY CLOWER, COHOST AND CO-CREATOR OF THE TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT – http://glitternight.com/2011/12/22/randy-clower-balladeers-blog-interviews-a-movie-host-legend/
ALABAMA’S GHOST – (1973) – http://glitternight.com/2011/01/22/you-want-alien-vampires-in-nazi-uniforms-my-latest-bad-movie-page-update/
ALIEN LOVER (1975) – http://glitternight.com/2010/07/15/bad-movie-alien-lover/
AMSTERDAMNED (1988) – http://glitternight.com/2012/01/30/not-a-bad-movie-amsterdamned-1988/
ASSIGNMENT: TERROR (1969) - Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following. If they gave a Nobel Prize for bad movie premises this baby would easily wind up wearing one of those big medallions around its neck! Spain’s King of Horror (and John Belushi look-alike) , Paul “Jacinto Molina” Naschy is in this film playing his recurring character, tormented lycanthrope Waldemar Daninsky. The premise of this movie is that aliens plan to conquer the world by frightening humanity into submission by scaring us with monsters. Call me crazy, but I think one lone spaceship firing death rays would go a lot further toward scaring us Earthlings than a few monsters would. Anyway, the aliens decide to capture and use a vampire, a mummy, Naschy’s werewolf character and what is obviously supposed to be the Frankenstein Monster, but nobody calls him that. He is alternately called the Franksalon Monster, the Frankensalen Monster and even the Feraxalon Monster. It’s like the characters all suffer an epileptic seizure every time they try to say the monster’s name.
The aliens are led by Michael Rennie, on what must have been The Day His Career Stood Still. You’ve got alien minds animating the corpses of Earthlings, a creepy castle, classic monster types, bad dubbing from the original Spanish, a mummy who kills with Leo Buscaglia hugs and a mad scientist’s lab! Determined to leave no cliche unturned the movie even introduces an “emotion vs intellect” subplot as the alien minds inhabiting the Earthlings’ corpses begin to yield to the feelings (mostly horniness) that their unfamiliar bodies are making them vulnerable to. And you’ll love the way the aliens just let the vampire continue roaming around their HQ even though he repeatedly tries to kill some of them!
Other bits of fun in this schlock classic are a pointless teaser about a Golem who never shows up, love scenes accompanied by what sounds like music from a tampon commercial and what can only be described as flatulent noises on the soundtrack every time the mummy makes an appearance. You’ll also get a huge kick out of the odd bit of werewolf lore that I’ve never encountered outside of Naschy’s movies which states that a werewolf can only be killed by a silver bullet fired by a woman who loves him enough to die with him. (Would you believe a woman who likes him enough to play Scrabble with him? Sorry about that, Chief!) By the way, always a class act, Michael Rennie died after making this film and thus avoided sliding any further into John Carradine Chasm. This film is a lot of fun but never seems to get the attention it deserves because many copies of it use a pointless “Dracula vs Frankenstein” title, which makes many potential viewers confuse it with Al Adamson’s seminal movie of that name. And don’t get me started on Dracula, Prisoner Of Frankenstein, which also often goes by a bogus Dracula vs Frankenstein title.
Bonus movies from Naschy which are fun-bad but not nearly as fun-bad as this one are: Dr Jekyll VS The Wolfman, in which a descendant of the original Dr Jekyll uses the family formula to cure Waldemar of lycanthropy. Trouble is he starts turning into a kinky and murderous Mr Hyde on the nights of the full moon. (This is better than being a werewolf?) There’s even a scene in a disco, for that quintessential 70′s touch. (Don’t you hate people who use the word “quintessential”? *****The Werewolf VS The Yeti, in which Waldemar joins a mountain-climbing expedition in the Himalayas so he can seek out a rare herb which will cure him of being a werewolf. He also encounters a violent Himalayan war-lord, the war-lord’s kinky mistress and 2 women who the movie can’t decide are cannibals or vampires. In the tradition of Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster the title bout lasts about a minute. The rest is buildup. ***And one of Naschy’s non-Waldemar movies, The Hunchback Of The Rue Morgue. In this one he plays a hunchback who steals corpses from the morgue of the title and takes them to a mad scientist who uses parts of the corpses to create a shambling monster. This bizarre mish-mash sets Poe, Victor Hugo and Mary Shelley all spinning in their graves at once! And, remember, it was made in the homeland of bullfighting, and rats really were hurt during the making of this film.
ATTACK OF THE BEAST CREATURES (1983)- http://glitternight.com/2011/09/23/bad-movie-page-attack-of-the-beast-creatures-1983/
THE BABY (1973) - http://glitternight.com/2010/07/27/bad-movie-page-the-baby-1973-2/
BLAXPLOITATION HORROR FILMS – http://glitternight.com/2011/10/26/a-very-blaxploitation-halloween/
BLAXPLOITATION – PAM GRIER – http://glitternight.com/2012/03/25/pam-griers-four-best-blaxploitation-films-2/
BLAXPLOITATION’S “LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN” – http://glitternight.com/2012/04/08/blaxploitations-league-of-extraordinary-women/
BLOOD! – (1974) – http://glitternight.com/2010/07/18/bad-movie-blood/
BLOOD FREAK (1972) - http://glitternight.com/2010/08/28/bad-movie-blood-freak/
BLOOD HARVEST (1987) – The slasher movie with Tiny Tim in it – http://glitternight.com/2011/11/19/bad-movie-page-blood-harvest-1987/
BLOOD OF DRACULA (1957) – http://glitternight.com/2012/04/03/bad-movie-page-blood-of-dracula-1957/
THE BODY SHOP (1973) – http://glitternight.com/2012/02/14/bad-movie-page-the-body-shop-1973/
BOP GIRL GOES CALYPSO (1957) – http://glitternight.com/2011/08/23/bad-movie-page-bop-girl-goes-calypso-1957/
THE CHRISTMAS MARTIAN (1971) -Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians gets all the attention, but this almost forgotten Canadian film from the 1970′s is one joyously weird acid trip of a movie! And for that “old-school” bad movie feel the lips don’t match the dialogue, dubbed into English from the original French. (Yes it was made in that part of Canada!) A spaceship even Ed Wood would be ashamed of, idiotic characters, a delightfully bad song and special effects that would have been outdated 10 years prior to filming highlight this movie that is perfect for Yuletide. The plot, such as it is, features loveable kids trying to help an incredibly goofy-looking alien get back home. They all fly at one point and the E.T. (as it were) binges on some sort of Canadian candy that resembles ,uh, Reese’s Pieces. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’. (And remember, this low-budget film came out in the EARLY 1970′s) There’s also a nice and wintry-looking nighttime chase on snowmobiles. If the Martian’s annoying voice doesn’t drive you nuts you’ll love this neglected schlock classic.
An ideal short subject to show as “dessert” after the movie would be The Energy Carol, a 1975 Canadian Government educational short encouraging energy conservation. It’s animated and yes, it’s in the style of A Christmas Carol with our Scrooge stand-in learning about energy wasting past, present and future. See it now before Jimmy Carter tries to take credit for it! The joyously bad vibe is enhanced by an ending that contradicts the whole point of the production!
THE CLONES OF BRUCE LEE (1979) – Category: Brucesploitation with an enjoyably absurd twist. In the joyously tasteless beginning of this quintessential Brucesploitation movie British secret agents extract cell samples from the martial arts superstar on his deathbed. Since E-Bay wasn’t around yet they can’t auction off the cell samples so instead they use them to make three Bruce Lee clones to form an elite crime fighting unit. You have to love a movie called The Clones Of Bruce Lee even though it stars three guys who not only don’t resemble Bruce Lee but who don’t even resemble each other! Some clones! Dick Miller and Priscilla Alden look as much like Bruce Lee as these clowns do. This film features not one but two mad scientists, one of whom plans to take over the world with an army of bronze men. If I told you how our heroes defeat the army of bronze men you wouldn’t believe me… trust me.
THE CONFESSIONAL (1976) – Category: The 70′s version of camp, with a premise and plot elements that would have been banned in previous decades This outrageous and over-the-top tale from the cinematic netherworld is about a crazed, mass-murdering priest. When he listens to his parishioners confessing their sins to him in the confessional booth he decides some of them are so evil they deserve to die for their sins. Our protagonist commits his murders by strangling people with Rosaries, by slipping them poisoned communion wafers and by stabbing them with crucifixes. And not even sharpened crucifixes, either, just long and kind of thin metal crucifixes that he inflicts puncture wounds with. That’s gotta hurt with those comparatively dull edges. This way he has of using priestly paraphernalia as his m.o. makes him seem like a really dark version of a campy villain from the 1960′s Batman television series. (“Special Guest Villain: Donald O’Connor as The Priest”) Our serial killer also has a wheelchair-bound elderly mother whom he torments Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? style. His partner in crime is one of those older ladies (familiar in Catholic communities) who cook and clean for the priest. In this case she’s like a cross between Frau Blucher from Young Frankenstein and Irma Bunt from the James Bond novels. In one of the many painfully awkward dialogue exchanges in this film our lead dismisses a foreign Cardinal’s views on letting priests marry and admittinng women to the priesthood by saying “I’m not interested in the opinions of renegade Belgian Cardinals.” I think all of us Dave Barry fans will agree that “Renegade Belgian Cardinals” would make a great name for a rock band! Brace yourself for the frustratingly dark ending to this weird movie.
CRIMINALLY INSANE (1974) – Category: The 70′s version of camp, with a premise and plot elements that would have been banned in previous decades. WOULD YOU BELIEVE … this film features Ethel, a female slasher who is incredibly overweight … WOULD YOU BELIEVE … that her eating disorder is the point of the film, because after being released from a mental institution at the beginning, she takes to killing people who come between her and her next meal…WOULD YOU BELIEVE …after killing her victims she takes to piling them in one of the rooms of her house … WOULD YOU BELIEVE … that when the expected odor problems surface our wiley slasher fights the problem with air fresheners and by spraying the decaying corpses with Lysol … WOULD YOU BELIEVE…that Ethel finally decides to kill both her hunger problem and body-disposal problem with one stone by eating the dead bodies of her victims, a development the movie endlessly telegraphs but then treats like a surprise ending … WOULD YOU BELIEVE … that none of this is done to be intentionally funny, like it would be today. Instead it’s presented in a straight-faced serious manner, including an attempted “artsy” segment which features our star dancing , lying in bed next to one of her victims, running down her hallway with a crazed look on her face and chopping up baby dolls and department store mannequins … WOULD YOU BELIEVE … thirteen years later a sequel, called Crazy Fat Ethel, was released along with another film, Death Nurse, both starring “Ethel” herself, Priscilla Alden? Also check out Satan’s Black Wedding, by the same director.
CURSE OF A TEENAGE NAZI (1948) – Category: Bad enough and with an enjoyably weird premise, but not fun-bad enough for my highest rating No, this isn’t an educational short about menstruation aimed at teenaged National Socialist girls in 1940′s Germany. (Thank you! I’m here all week!) The wonderfully campy b-movie premise of this flick is that the Nazis have developed a “cosmic death ray formula” which is “a thousand times more powerful than the atom bomb”. Since Germany has already surrendered and their Japanese allies are about to, officers and scientists of both Axis Powers are trying to use the cosmic death ray strictly for their own people, subjugating their former allies along with the rest of the world when they use it to launch World War III. Enter our heroines, all young (ish) women from many nations, seized by the Japanese army earlier in the war and now stolen away by the fugitive Nazis to their hideaway in Japanese territory. The ladies had been serving as captive enemy aliens at a university hospital but are now to be used as “comfort women” by the German and Japanese officers while their “cosmic death ray” intrigue unfolds.
The plotting and counter-plotting between the Nazis and the Japanese becomes secondary – the REAL novelty of this film lies in its cultural kitsch value since it is like the prototype of three future exploitation movie sub-genres: SUB-GENRE 1- The 1950′s Juvenile Delinquents flicks, specifically the ones that deal with troubled teens in reform schools. Noteworthy examples – Reform School Girl, Delinquents Behind Bars and especially Untamed Youth, the Mamie Van Doren film where JD’s are used as slave labor on a farm in the Deep South. SUB-GENRE 2 – The sleazy Women In Prison films of the 70′s with their tawdry depictions of prisoners being bullied and abused by their prison matrons. Noteworthy examples – The Big Doll House, Black Mama, White Mama, The Big bird Cage, etc. SUB-GENRE 3 – The over- the-top violent and tawdry “Axis Prison Camp Horrors Revisited” flicks. Noteworthy examples: Ilsa, She-Wolf Of The S.S. from the Nazi angle, The Men Behind The Sun from the Japanese angle. Other things to love in this odd mish-mash include: a) the “Reading Is Fundamental” opening which bombards the viewer with written script and then confidential file fragments for several long minutes before we hear our first word of dialogue b) the movie’s attempt to convince us that its lurid subject matter is being presented in the interests of history and education, even though its production company is called Exploitation Film Company c) the bullying Nazi prison matron, who winds up getting hers in a way that would be repeated ad nauseum in 1970′s WIP films d) the comical way the actors in this film literally sink to the floor following the slightest physical contact in the fight and/or brutality scenes e) the way the American OSS agent impersonating a Nazi officer doesn’t even bother putting on the Hogan’s Heroes level German accent that the other actors do and f) the way you could make a drinking game from the number of times the imprisoned women slap each other. In the end the Axis officers are defeated and the cosmic death ray formula goes up in flames with their headquarters.
CURSE OF THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN (1974) – click here http://glitternight.com/2011/06/15/bad-movie-page-curse-of-the-headless-horseman-1974/
DEAFULA (1975) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following Good intentions go horribly wrong in this film. Much like with Blood Freak, there are people who insist this film is just an urban legend and that it doesn’t really exist. Those people are wrong again. This horror film is in black and white and, as the title suggests, the vampire as well as everyone else in this movie’s world are deaf and communicate through sign language, billed as “Signscope” in the movie posters and in the opening credits, as if this was a pioneering technical gimmick on a par with Sensurround. (Although considering how lame Sensurround was there may be something to that) Never fear, though, there is also voice-over narration provided by different people for each actor, so that people who don’t know sign language can follow the story. Obviously this is all very noble, and in fact Peter Wechsburg, who produced this film and stars as Deafula, was responsible for an all-sign language newscast for the hearing impaired. That newscast originated in Portland, OR, which is also where Deafula was filmed. Unfortunately, noble motives aside, this film proves that certain talents are needed to create an effective horror film and those talents were noticeably in short supply when Deafula was put together. (In England, the BBC series See Hear did this concept in a much more skillful and tasteful way, adapting several classic stories for the hearing impaired, including A Christmas Carol)
Our vampire, Deafula, is Steve Adams, a preacher’s son who, when the blood-lust is upon him, transforms into Deafula in a metamorphosis so thorough it’s more like a werewolf transformation. Steve’s hair-color changes from blonde to black, including his beard, his nose for some reason gets MUCH bigger and in one of many elements of this film that defy any pretext of logic, his street clothes turn into the traditional vampire’s garb of all-black formal wear complete with opera cape. When his blood-lust is sated, he turns back into Steve and his clothing reverts to his casual street-wear. On top of that, Steve sometimes turns into Deafula in broad daylight, and has no aversion to holy objects, as he has spent a lifetime attending the church where his father preaches. Obviously we’re dealing with a very bizarre version of the vampire myth a la the horrendous film The Vampire’s Ghost. It turns out Deafula is a human/vampire hybrid, and ever since he was born (and his mother, naturally, died in childbirth) his father has been providing him with some of his own blood on a monthly basis to feed his son’s peculiar appetites. A growing boy gets very hungry, though, and among Steve/Deafula’s childhood flashbacks we see him ravenously biting the neck of his puppy one sunny afternoon and draining its blood.
Meanwhile, Portland, OR is enduring the worst reign of terror since Hello, Larry was set there, as Deafula’s body count is now in the dozens. A very odd and very cranky police detective is in charge of investigating the killing spree and the department has saddled him with a British consultant from Scotland Yard, who is an expert on vampires. This consultant looks like a lawn gnome and sounds senile but he says he killed Dracula single-handed. Later in the film a flashback shows us a newspaper headline supporting this claim. No, I’m serious. Our lead detective scoffs at the notion of vampires, but his own theories are even more out of touch with reality. He states the twin fang-marks on the victims’ throats made him at first suspect it was a wolf behind the killings (?) and as if that wasn’t strange enough he says he rejected that notion once some of the victims started getting killed in their bedrooms (it being a well-known fact that wolves aren’t allowed to enter bedrooms I guess).
Eventually Deafula comes face-to-face with the woman who served as a midwife at his birth. She’s named Amy and she’s been heavily into witchcraft ever since the horrific things she witnessed when Deafula/Steve was born. Witch Amy comes complete with a lackey named Zork who has a hunchback and … tin cans for hands. (Idle cans are the Devil’s workshop) Yes, I guess it’s supposed to be this film’s version of “mute” since without hands he can’t communicate in sign language like all the other characters can. Amy says Zork was an evil man, so Satan took his hands. (This provided me with a mental picture of various mothers haranguing their pubescent children with the warning “Keep that up and your hands will turn into cans!”. Hey, it makes as much sense as saying they’ll go blind.) With the creepy, yet idiotic, faces he’s always making Zork is one of my all-time favorite supporting characters and I’d love to see him tie the knot with Petra, Keeper Of The Graves, from Blood! (qv)
Amy relates the story of Deafula’s birth and reveals that his father was none other than Dracula himself. Deafula wants to confront Dear Old Dad and makes his way to Drac’s coffin, where he pulls out the stake in Pappy’s heart. What follows is the dumbest and most illogical scene in a movie loaded with them. The guy doing the voiceover for Dracula while he signs actually does a bad Bela Lugosi voice for him. Drac resurrects Steve/Deafula’s mother (don’t ask) and in the ensuing battle Deafula is saved by his mother, Maria, and by a ring that was a gift to Dracula from Satan himself, and from Drac to Maria, from Maria to Amy and from Amy to Deafula. The tag line for this flick should have been “Never before has regifting been so terrifying!” Deafula and Mommy Maria re-stake Dracula, causing Mom to die once again, also. Next thing we know Steve is preaching at his father’s church (Dad died earlier in the film in one of the most laughably inept depictions of a heart attack ever presented on film) when the Scotland Yard consultant fingers him as the man behind Portland’s vampire killings. Enjoyably enough, a puddle of vomit was a crucial clue for the Britisher. For some reason, now that he’s been exposed as Deafula, Steve is suddenly vulnerable to all the crosses in the church and also to sunlight and he dies spouting a demented, albeit impassioned, speech about sin and forgiveness.
We viewers are left with several questions, including: a) How did our 2 detectives know to investigate the deaths of the 2 motorcycling hippies, since neither of them was bitten by Deafula, he just used his vampire hypnotic powers to send them driving over a cliff b) What is the significance of the frequent use of the number 200 in this flick? I guess if Discordianists can have the Law of 5′s this film can have the Law of 200 c) Was the cranky detective really taking a leak when he had his back to the camera? d) In a world where the Scotland Yard man’s slaying of Dracula prompts a newspaper story complete with a headline saying “Dracula Is Dead”, why does the cranky detective doubt the existence of vampires? e) To what non-obscene use could Witch Amy possibly have put a simple-minded, hunchbacked servant with cans for hands? f) Why would Satan’s ring disappear from Amy’s place every time Steve turned into Deafula? g) Why did Steve let his father go on feeding his own blood to him once a month when he was chowing down on the blood of people in Portland every day and night? h) Why was Deafula ever feeding on humans at all when the film made it clear he could drink animal blood? Dogs or cows would have worked just as well. i) How come Steve’s puppy didn’t come back from the dead as a vampire like the puppy in the horror film Dracula’s Dog? j) And most importantly, since the Scotland Yard man killed Dracula in England why was Drac buried in a cave underneath the Portland Museum? This film is hilariously bad and the line “A moment ago I asked for some peanuts” is sure to become a catchphrase with you and your friends.
DEATH BED – (1977) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following A bed that eats everyone who lies on it is the hilarious premise of this actual straight-faced attempt at a horror film. You know how water-beds have water in them? This living bed has digestive juices in it. Its victims are somehow sucked through the membraneous material of the mattress and are broken down and digested by those juices. The viewer is treated to countless shots of human bodies (plus for variety an apple, a fly and a bucket o’ chicken) dissolving in the acid, looking like they’re being torn apart by millions of tiny piranha fish. If you’re wondering how a four-poster bed in an abandoned mansion became a living being with a taste for human flesh, we’re told a tree-demon (no relation to the tree-monster in From Hell It Came) temporarily incarnated as a human being to seduce a woman on the bed. At one point in the tale the blood-colored tears of the demon fell on the bed, thus creating our hungry, hungry hero.
If you’re wondering who tells us this, well, it’s one of the bed’s victims from decades earlier, kept alive in some kind of vague supernatural half-life and imprisoned behind a painting on the wall of the bedroom our title creature is in. No, not in the painting, literally behind it, in a little cubby hole with the painting over it as a kind of door. Our narrator crouches in a scrunched-up position in his hidey-hole throughout the film. He’s obviously just in an air vent so you expect to see Bruce Willis in the original Die Hard movie come crawling by at any moment. Our narrator speaks in a very stuffy, stilted way, as if he’s recounting a macabre tale worthy of Poe or Hoffmann but because of the ridiculous position he’s in and the even more ridiculous events in the film it just adds to the unintentional hilarity.
Other things to love in this wonderful lost bad movie epic include: a) the effective Gothic feel of the creepy abandoned mansion juxtaposed with the monumentally absurd events unfolding on the screen … b) the sheer number of victims the Death Bed feeds upon, making it seem like a pilot for a series in which each week a new group of victims would stumble across the abandoned house and fall prey to “The Evil Bed” (sorry). Seriously, across the decades that our monotoned narrator escorts us through we see dozens of people ending up as a meal for the bed … c) the turn of the century “orgy” scene, with our title monster devouring everyone oinking and boinking on it … d) the woman who is heard talking in one scene even though her lips aren’t moving (shades of Doris Wishman!) … e) the way the Death Bed wraps its blankets like a tentacle around the ankle of one victim, preventing them from fleeing and dragging them back to it … f) the on-the-lam gangster who tries shooting the bed as it swallows him up, with the angle of the shot making it look like he’s shooting himself in the crotch … g) the character who stabs the bed with a knife, accidentally immersing his hands and the blade in the digestive juices inside the mattress. When he is able to pull his hands back out they’ve been reduced to nothing but bones, prompting him to, well, just silently look at them with a bland “How do you like that?” look on his face. And on and on til the cheerfully confusing ending. I have no idea how Michael Weldon missed this movie in his first two Psychotronic volumes.
DIAL: HELP (1988) – For this “killer phone” movie click here: http://glitternight.com/2012/01/04/bad-movie-page-dial-help-1988/
DOCTOR COOK’S GARDEN - (1971) – Category: Enjoyably campy bad movie elevated by kitsch-value in the casting. Bing Crosby IS Colonel Sanders in Finger Lickin’ Good: A One- Man Show! No, actually Bing plays the title doctor in this made-for- tv movie based on a play by Ira “Rosemary’s Baby” Levin. Trouble is, with the snow-white hair and beard he wears in this telepic Bing looks like he’s supposed to be Colonel Harlan Sanders, inducing laughter in the audience in what is supposed to be a horror/thriller. Doctor Cook is the seemingly amiable physician in a small Vermont town but in reality he’s a killer with a God Complex, giving fatal treatment to everyone he considers an undesirable citizen, but genuine medical care to those townspeople he deems “fit” to live. In other words he removes “undesirables” from the community the same way he removes weeds from his garden, hence the title metaphor. If you remember Bing from his old Christmas Specials (and if you don’t just go to Youtube) or those Minute Made Lemonade commercials of his (“Noooooooo doubt about it!”) it adds to the fun of this film to see him playing against type and killing with giddy abandon.
Even more of the fun lies in how incredibly naive the townspeople are for not realizing what the good doctor has been up to. They just take it in stride that “bad” people keep dying under his care while “good” people always get better. Hell, we’re told that one time he even poisoned everyone at the town picnic and, miracle of miracles, the only people to die from the poison were a few “mean” people. Still, nobody suspected Der Bingle. These yokels make the inhabitants of Mayberry look like Mensa candidates. The only person to figure out what’s rotten in Hickville is a former resident of the town who has now come home as a doctor himself. This guy is played by Frank Converse and his love interest is played by Blythe “Gwyneth Paltrow’s Mother” Danner. Dr Cook killed both their fathers as it turned out, so I guess Match.com knew they belonged together. In fact Frank’s father was his very first victim and he killed him because he frequently battered the young Frank. Bing-a-ling’s outrage as he recalls this is hilarious if you remember his alleged relationship with his son Gary. This flick features murders with no accompanying tension, a romance with no accompanying chemistry, conversations on the ethics of Dr Cook’s monstrous activities that are devoid of all passion (or any emotion at all, really) and, since Bing’s character is frequently seen taking heart medicine, an ending that can be spotted a mile away. Like Alien Lover (qv) this story would have made a passable half-hour episode of an anthology series but as a movie? Forget it! And I can’t imagine how unbearable it must have been as a stage play. Even an obvious gimmick like gratuitous gore might have boosted this laughable yawner. Paging Dr Herschel Gordon Lewis! You’re wanted in surgery!
DOCTOR JEKYLL’S DUNGEON OF DEATH (1979)- http://glitternight.com/2012/04/14/bad-movie-page-dr-jekylls-dungeon-of-death-1979/
THE DRAGON LIVES AGAIN (1977) - Category: Brucesploitation with an enjoyably absurd twist Even for the bizarre sub-genre of Brucesploitation films this movie is out there! The film starts with the recently – deceased Bruce Lee arriving in the afterlife, where the concubines of the King of the Dead gather around to gawk at the bulge in the pants of the late martials arts superstar. (Just in case you thought NO opening could be more tasteless than the one in The Clones Of Bruce Lee (qv) In a bit of alleged comic relief the bulge turns out to be caused by a weapon, not Lee’s organ. (Corpse schlong jokes! Who doesn’t love them?) As head-shaking as that bit is at least it’s coherent, unlike virtually everything else that happens from this point on in the movie. And the time-honored tradition of Brucesploitation films having leading men who don’t even look like Bruce Lee is well-represented in this flick, but at least here they try to explain it away by talking about how a person’s face and body change after death. Which, of course, makes no sense since this is supposed to be Lee’s soul, not his body. Anyway, Bruce somehow persuades the King Of The Dead to grant him a chance to return to the world of the living, and is told he can return if he outfights all the other inhabitants of this odd netherworld.
You see, this isn’t just any bland version of the afterlife our hero finds himself in. It’s kind of a Valhalla of cult movie characters and Bruce spends the rest of the movie fighting all of them in various combinations. Lee is the only figure who’s an actor (kind of), the other shades in this Psychotronic Hell are actually famous characters from various film series: there’s Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name from Spaghetti Westerns, there’s Zatoichi, the blind swordsman, there’s James Bond, there’s Fang Kang, the lead character in the One-Armed Swordsman series of films, there’s The Exorcist and The Godfather, both of whom are played by Asians, for those of you who like laughing at the oddity of Caucasian actors playing characters like Charlie Chan, Mr Moto and Fu Manchu. For some very odd reason there’s also Emmanuelle from the erotic film series bearing her name plus, for some even odder reason, there’s Dracula, who’s neither living nor dead so you’d think he wouldn’t be here at all. He also leads his famous army of … zombies? Yep, instead of a legion of vampires at his side Drac has an army of “zombies” who are really just guys in black costumes with full-body skeleton designs on them like the outfit worn by the Turkish film character called Killing (my head hurts). Later in the film he leads an army of mummies, just to make things even more confusing.
Before we bother worrying about all the foregoing weirdness, let me point out that another denizen of this netherworld is the cartoon character Popeye, yes, FREAKING POPEYE, played by a real-life Asian actor who squints and puffs up one of his cheeks in an attempt to look like his namesake. He even eats a can of spinach to increase his strength during a battle with Drac and his army of mummies. Oddly, the Ilsa character from Dyanne Thorne’s infamous tetralogy of films makes no appearance. Neither does the red-haired samurai from the Son Of The Black Mask movies. His movies always had quasi-supernatural overtones so it would have made sense to include him in these proceedings, but that’s probably why they didn’t throw him in. After all, something that made sense might have been too much of a shock to the viewers’ systems. In the end Bruce Lee emerges triumphant over all comers and is permitted to return to the world of the living, just like happened in real life.
DRIVE-IN MASSACRE (1976) – http://glitternight.com/2012/01/20/bad-movie-page-drive-in-massacre-1976/
FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY (1981) – The midget spy movie – http://glitternight.com/2012/09/13/bad-movie-page-for-your-height-only-1981/
FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE SPACE MONSTER (1965) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following The original title of this incredibly fun bad movie was Mars Invades Puerto Rico. You see, there is no Frankenstein Monster in this flick, just a NASA robot called Frank who gets damaged and then looks like Freddy Krueger with a Mohawk from one angle. The actual premise of this movie is that Frank battles Martians intent on replenishing their nuclear war-ravaged planet by kidnapping beachgoers in Puerto Rico to use as breeding stock. Sounds like a comedy … stings like a bee! This movie is well-known enough that I debated whether or not to include it. I figured I’d go ahead but keep the review brief. Incompetent acting, dimestore special effects, the leering Martian called Dr Nadir (insert your own joke here), a spaceship that looks more like a Fotomat, some enjoyably goofy rock songs by The Poets and the fact that the battle between “Frankenstein” and the Space Monster, Mull, only lasts about two minutes all combine to make this my favorite bad black and white movie, bar none!
GANJASAURUS REX (1987) – http://glitternight.com/2012/09/01/bad-movie-page-ganjasaurus-rex-1987/
GHOST BUSTING (1991) You won’t believe this one! – http://glitternight.com/2011/08/16/bad-movie-page-ghost-busting-1991/
THE GIANT CLAW (1957) – http://glitternight.com/2013/06/08/the-giant-claw-1957-on-the-texas-27-film-vault-april-of-1985/
HIGH SCHOOL CAESAR (1960) Category: Bad, youth-oriented 1960 movie that is incredibly campy This movie may have a 1960 release date but it is the most classically campy example of the Juvenile Delinquent movies of the 1950′s. That genre spawned many “so bad they’re good” films like High School Hellcats, Untamed Youth and many others featuring fast cars, silly slang and misunderstood or just plain malevolent teenagers. High School Caesar renders itself even more laughable than other Juvenile Delinquent films with its wonderfully absurd premise. Yes, this movie takes its cue from the Edward G Robinson gangster movie Little Caesar and depicts the phenomenon of juvenile delinquency as if it’s a High School ROTC version of organized crime. The title character is a kind of leather-jacketed Don Corleone overseeing a high school operation involving hallway protection rackets, rigged student elections and a black market of stolen exam answers. All of this is played so straight that it will have you laughing at the earnestness of the players, especially when our lead does the George Raft bit of manipulating a coin from finger to finger.
Of course a Juvenile Delinquent movie without enjoyably goofy rock songs would be like a Western without horses and High School Caesar does not disappoint on this level. Of the eccentric musical numbers in this film my favorite is the exhilirating title song, featuring wonderful lyrics like this: “He’s got the teachers on the ruuuuun — The principal just bought a guuuuuun — High School Caesar, you know you ain’t got a friend — High School Caesar, you’re playin’ a game you can’t win — High School Caesar, you’re gonna get it in the end” As Russ Tamblyn said in High School Confidential , “MAN, that swings!”
Most of the cast members in this Teenage Gangster Ghoulash are faceless and unmemorable with the exception of the lead, the one and only John Ashley. Ashley’s checkered career wound its way through lead roles in schlock like Frankenstein’s Daughter to supporting roles in Frankie and Annette beach movies back to leads in youth-oriented monster flicks like Attack Of The The (sic) Eye Creatures before he starred in and produced (with Eddie Romero) the Blood Island movies from the Philippines. Ashley’s performance in this film is hopelessly bland, conveying absolutely no sense of menace or danger. Stalwarts like Richard Bakalyan and Mamie Van Doren played their JD roles with such anger and constant sneering that their faces must have ached by the end of filming. Not so our High School Caesar, who, even in his black leather jacket is so comically non-threatening he couldn’t intimidate Potsie on Happy Days.
Naturally this JD film has the Obligatory Drag Racing scene and just as naturally someone dies in a car crash in the story. In the end Ashley gets his comeuppance and is left in a sobbing heap as the cops arrive on the scene (“Mother of Mercy! Is this the end of Little Fonzie?”) but it’s a fun and wild ride getting there.
HORROR HOUSE ON HIGHWAY 5 (1985) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following. And rest assured it’s the best little Horror House On Highway 5. This film was made during the 80′s slasher craze when masked killers like Mike Myers and Jason Voorhees were all the rage. Bartholomew, the killer in this film, honest-to-God wears a Richard Nixon mask while slicing and dicing his victims. I have no idea why his human prey don’t just slap on a Peter Rodino mask and kick this guy’s butt all over Highway 5.
There are three different types of bad scenes in this movie:
1. Scenes where it seems like the filmmakers started out trying to do an intentional comedy … Examples: a. Note the walls being dotted with pinups of drag queens in Nazi paraphernalia in some early scenes … b. The scene where the corpse of one of the victims, deposited on a bus stop bench, keeps falling over against the annoyed commuter who sits down next to it … c. The very obvious way in which Bartholomew’s yarmulke-wearing accomplice is very, very clearly just making round swirls with his pen while his voice-over relates what he is supposedly writing on the paper before him
2. Scenes where it seems like the filmmakers wanted to make a regular B-grade slasher film … Examples: a. The earliest murder scene, where the victim’s corpse is stuffed under the sink to hide it, is done competently … b. The very ending of the film, which manages to be genuinely frightening (albeit not unexpected) while being a simultaneous salute to the “Leatherface slams the door shut” scene in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, only with the viewer being shut IN the enclosed space with the killer, rather than OUTSIDE it
3. Scenes that are so mind-numbingly ill-structured and so utterly incoherent that they are signs either of cosmic incompetence or of a deliberate attempt to at least make some money off the film, even if just from notoriety as a cinematic turkey … Examples: a. The scene where the car runs over a man who is nowhere near the vehicle … b. The rapid change of hair-styles on our heroine during some scenes of the movie (mismatched shots like this in bad movies were so infamous even by the early 80′s that these particular errors are what got me started wondering if all the lameness was deliberate) … c. The scene where Bartholomew is supposed to have stabbed a man who was nowhere near the window he was lurking outside of … d. The way the paniced driver dies from a very low-speed accident … e. ANYTHING that goes on inside Bartholomew’s lair, where all continuity from moment to moment goes down the toilet and we hear never-explained odd sounds like whips lashing, matching NOTHING in the on-screen action (if ”action” isn’t too strong a word for this film) Are we to assume the continuity editor AND the foley artist fell victim to Bartholomew here? But all of this is probably more thought than the filmmakers themselves put into this odd little bomb.
Want to see a guy wearing a yarmulke with a swastika on it? This film’s got it!…Want to see the worst continuity this side of Ed Wood?…This film’s got it!…Want to hear relentlessly inane dialogue whose only redeeming feature is that at times you can’t understand any of it anyway?…This film’s got it! Incidentally, rumor has it the Nixon mask worn by Bartholomew in this film was auctioned off at Sotheby’s for 1.5 million dollars. (I’m kidding!)
HORROR OF PARTY BEACH (1964) – http://glitternight.com/2013/05/31/bad-movie-horror-of-party-beach-1964-on-the-texas-27-film-vault-may-25th-1985/
HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1980) – http://glitternight.com/2012/05/23/bad-movie-page-humanoids-from-the-deep-1980/
IF FOOTMEN TIRE YOU, WHAT WILL HORSES DO? (1971) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following No, it’s not about Quentin Tarantino and pre-Castro Havana nightclubs (Thank you, I’m here all week!) it’s really a Cold War-era warning about what would happen if Communists took over the United States. Think of this film as a right wing version of the idiotic Michael Moore’s paranoid left- wing fantasies that masquerade as “documentaries”. It’s from Ron Ormond, best known for the bad movie classic Mesa Of Lost Women before he found religion and hooked up with the Rev Estus W Pirkle for films like this one. Pirkle serves as the narrator of this quirky little mess, ranting on and on in his over-the-top way about how the USA has turned away from the Bible and will suffer the consequences. He’s like a combination of Criswell in Plan 9 and the sermonizing narrator from Blood Freak (qv). In one of his enjoyably bizarre tangents he also speaks out on the “evils” of dancing, which he calls ”The front door to adultery! What starts on the dance floor is expected to be finished later.” He even says dancing is “as immoral as it has always been”.
In the main part of our story we get treated to awkwardly staged scenes of atrocities perpetrated by the invading armies. These scenes are transcendentally violent and are accompanied by so many amateur gore effects it’s like you’re watching “If Herschell Gordon Lewis had directed Red Dawn“. Lines of people are mowed down by machine guns (the film’s favorite method of extermination), eardrums are pierced with sharp sticks, inducing vomiting (talk about an extreme version of an emetic … but I kid), children are taught to pray to Fidel Castro (I swear!) and Ormond recycles his nauseatingly repetitious sound track from Mesa Of Lost Women which adds to the outrageously campy feel, especially in the “overly amorous Commie and the housewife” scene. That same soundtrack was cadged by Ed Wood for his movie Jail Bait. And oh, yeah, the odd title comes from a Bible passage. This film provides a lot of fun for bad movie fans and is less than 70 minutes long so what’s the harm?
INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS (1973) – http://glitternight.com/2012/09/28/bad-movie-page-invasion-of-the-bee-girls-1973/
LEWD LIZARD (1985) – http://glitternight.com/2012/05/24/bad-movie-page-lewd-lizard-1985/
THE LIFT (1983) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following Don’t believe the IMDB entry for this movie that lists “comedy” as well as “horror” as one of this film’s genres. Oh, it will make you laugh uproariously but if you actually watch the movie (which I swear half the IMDB people never do with the movies they provide info on) you can tell none of the humor is intentional. This absurd horror film from the Netherlands is about a killer elevator … yes, a killer elevator. There is so much to love about this forgotten bad movie classic that it’s hard to know where to begin. For starters the movie posters sported the film’s notorious tag line “For God’s sake, take the stairs!” Somehow that just doesn’t have the same ring as “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water” or “In space, no one can hear you scream”. Another famous ad line for this flick, and another one that is beloved by bad movie geeks like me, was “One man against the perfect killing machine!” The perfect killing machine? I’m afraid not! Just like with the Daleks, if you could climb a staircase (“For God’s sake”) you had this “perfect killing machine” screwed. Hell, even if you couldn’t , as long as you just didn’t get into the thing you were pretty safe.
Since this film was imported from abroad you get the old-school bad movie fun of the dubbed-in dialogue never coming close to matching the lip movements of the actors speaking the lines. Plus the English translation seems to have been written by people who have never heard human beings actually conversing, so we get wonderful exchanges like “Have you looked everywhere?” “No, I couldn’t find it!” But my favorite weird comment comes from a very strange police detective assigned to investigate the mysterious elevator attacks. In a dubbed line laden with double-meaning he explains “I used to work for the Vice Squad, but you grow numb. A pity.”
This detective is not our hero, however. The “one man” who takes on “the perfect killing machine” is … a heroic elevator repairman. No, not a bicycle repairman (Monty Python fans will get it) but an elevator repairman. And not just any run-of-the-mill elevator repairman, but a womanizing maverick elevator repairman who becomes obsessed with getting to the bottom of the deaths being caused by the elevator. With my odd sense of humor, this angle is the most richly comedic part of the movie. It Honest-To-God plays like those “maverick cop who plays by their own set of rules” stories where one determined lawman overcomes indifferent and/or corrupt superiors as well as political pressure to abandon the case he’s on, and solves the crime anyway. The exchanges with his boss (who wants the elevator-caused incidents covered up to avoid souring an upcoming corporate merger with another elevator-manufacturing company) are hilariously reminiscent of heroic rogue cops arguing with their desk-bound superiors in countless films. At one point he even tells our dogged repairman “I’m pulling you off that route!” in the spirit of the line “I’m pulling you off the case!” in cop movies. Naturally, just like a cop in those films, our hero (named Felix by the way) pursues the matter on his own time accompanied by a female reporter who smells something rotten (Maybe she just smells our hero. This was made in Europe, after all. It’s a joke! Lighten up! ) behind the high-tech computer chips running the homicidal elevator.
Other things to love in this sublimely weird movie include: the dead-pan demeanor of our hero Felix, whose straight-faced reactions to all this absurdity help make the film so damned laughable. Especially the scene where he sits there, holding his cigarette in the European fashion and wearing an ever-so-serious expression that says “Ahhhh, I am overcome with ennui at the thought of continuing my struggle with this killer elevator” … some of the killings themselves – a) of a blind man that our sadistic Lift allows to plunge to his death, b) of a security guard whose head the elevator intentionally catches in its doors and the hilarious “decapitation” scene that follows, complete with the phoniest human head in cinematic history, and c) of my favorite victim, the tap-dancing janitor (Don’t ask) … the odd-seeming signage in the native language of the film’s country of origin (my favorite being “Verboden Toegang!” It’s nothing without the exclamation point on the end) … the way the previous elevator repairman on Felix’s route was driven insane and institutionalized after he realized our title menace had achieved sentience (Skynet this sucker ain’t) … the forced, horny jollity of the diners at “Restaurant Icarus” where our film begins (these people are so annoying you hope the elevator will kill them, but since it’s early on all the Lift does is severely cook them and land them in the hospital). I could go on and on but you get the idea.
All these little extras are what elevate this movie to classic status in the Bad Movie Hall Of Fame. Naturally our hero succeeds in ending the homicidal lift’s reign of terror after a few more victims provide it with gore-fodder. Our female reporter shows more sense than Kolchak ever did and wisely decides nobody would believe the story if she printed it. Sadly there was never a sequel made to this film. I would have loved to see something like The Lift 2: Otis Lives!
THE MAN WITHOUT A BODY – (1957) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following Trying to follow the layer after layer of distorted logic in this film could drive you nuts. Taking the story from the top, we have THE George Coulouris (Mr Thatcher in Citizen Kane) playing a megalomaniacal 1950′s tycoon named Karl Brussard. Brussard has a brain tumor, which the movie very tastefully lets us know by the way he constantly thinks he hears phones ringing. Seriously. He’s always grabbing the phone receiver and then slamming it down when there’s nobody on the line. After his tumor is diagnosed, our tycoon, desperate to prolong his life, goes to a mad scientist, played by Robert Hutton from The Hideous Sun Demon. Hutton’s plan is to transplant a healthy brain into Brussard’s head to replace his ailing one.
Now, in a movie operating within any framework of logic (suspension of disbelief notwithstanding) that would mean we’d have the brain and mind of the donor controlling Brussard’s body, while all that was Brussard would still die when his brain does. Not so here! In this movie’s demented universe the brain would still have Brussard’s mind just because it is operating within Brussard’s body. (?!) Using this line of thinking, if you put Keith Olbermann’s brain into Rush Limbaugh’s body that body would still act like Rush Limbaugh, just because that’s the body housing it. (Obviously this is just a hypothetical since neither Olbermann nor Limbaugh has a brain)
Okay, that’s just the first step into this film’s twisted mindset. Even if you buy into the preceding nonsense get ready for another curveball. Brussard decides the perfect brain donor would be none other than … Nostradamus. That’s right, not Criswell, who was at least still alive in the 1950′s, but Nostra -freaking -damus! Why Brussard thinks any dead brain would work is beyond me, let alone one which would have decomposed centuries ago, along with the rest of the body. Anyway, the ridiculous notion that Nostradamus’ long-dead body is as well-preserved as a freshly-dead corpse is proven correct in this deranged film, so Brussard hires a shady ex-doctor to travel to France, break into Nostradamus’ tomb and return with the dead man’s detached head.
This is accomplished and our mad scientist brings the head back to life. The head sits on the lab table allowing the revived Nostradamus to talk with our lead characters, looking like some kind of kitschy Nostradamus desktop-intercom. Our mad scientist now contradicts some of his earlier gibberish with new gibberish, claiming the donor brain will need convinced that it is really Brussard, since that’s whose body it will be transplanted into. This is attempted via the very scientific method of Brussard repeatedly telling the disembodied head that it is really Brussard while the head keeps asserting that it is really Nostradamus in a kind of ridiculous “Am not!” “Are, too!” type of exchange. Nostrodamus shrewdly convinces Brussard to postpone the transplantation since our revived seer’s powers of prognostication will tell him how the stock market will go, making Brussard even richer if he follows ”Nostro’s” advice. Yes, the only reason the filmmakers have the reluctant brain donor be Nostradamus is to set up a double-cross so obvious even Jim Varney’s Ernest character would have seen it coming from a mile away!
Brussard is financially ruined, prompting him to shoot the disembodied head that led him astray and in the resulting illogical cast reactions that follow, Hutton’s mad scientist creates a monster from Nostro’s head and the body of the tycoon’s chauffer, Lou (who was being tempted into a dalliance by Brussard’s mistress Odette). The resultant monstrosity looks like the Mexican horror character the Brainiac with a plaster tv set on its head. Other bits of fun in this neglected classic are the giant, moving eyeball on the wall of the mad scientist’s lab, the living, disembodied monkey heads on the table in that lab, the tycoon’s hammy “femme fatale” mistress, an actual line in the credits that says “Continuity by ‘Splinters’ Deason” (insert your own joke here) and the fact that the director was W Lee Wilder, the brother of the one and only Billy Wilder! (Take that, nature vs nurture!) By the way, I don’t know what was up with bad movies and Nostradamus. There was also a Mexican serial in which a descendant of the alleged prophet came back to life as a vampire who needed to be hunted down and destroyed, Dracula-style.
MANIAC (1934) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following An actor on the run from the law falls in with a mad scientist, Dr Meierschultz. He becomes an accomplice in the good doctor’s dark experiments involving the reanimation of a dead woman (whose corpse he and Meierschultz steal from a morgue) and the transplantation of an independently beating heart the mad scientist keeps in a jar. (A jar?) The actor kills Meierschultz and impersonates him, doing a very convincing job since we realize he’s every bit as demented as the real doctor was.
Fragments of Edgar Alan Poe stories abound in this beautifully bizarre and campy tale which at times poses as a scientific warning about various psychological disorders via overwrought lines that seem like the inspiration for Ed Wood’s “scientific” look at transvestism in Glen Or Glenda? There are even weird bits with a phantasmal devil (really just footage taken from the silent film Dante’s Inferno) just like Ed Wood used in his later film. There’s also a syringe fight between two women, a drugged-out maniac who apparently wants to get, uh, amorous with the walking dead woman, a black cat knocking over the jar with the heart in it, the wonderfully deranged “Cats eat the rats” speech (if this was a musical this bit would be the show-stopping number everyone would be humming as they left the theater) and of course, the infamous eyeball-eating scene. (“It is not unlike a grape or an oyster.”)
A METRIC AMERICA (1978) – Click here for review – http://glitternight.com/2011/04/05/bad-movie-page-updated-a-metric-america-1978/
MEXICAN MONSTER MOVIES – http://glitternight.com/2011/10/31/a-halloween-mexi-monster-bestiary/
THE MUMMY AND THE CURSE OF THE JACKALS (1969) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following Depending on which film book you read this movie either did or did not have any theatrical release but thankfully it’s available on video. Part of the bad movie fun is provided by how poorly lit some scenes are, even though that prevents us from getting better looks at 1960′s Las Vegas, where the story takes place. In this film Anthony Eisley portrays an archaeologist who, hilariously enough, can’t pronounce the word ”archaeological” (he says “arkological”). He also refuses to clean the cobwebs out of his house for some reason, which can be pretty distracting in some scenes.
Like an idiot, he willingly brings the title “curse” upon himself and begins nocturnal transformations into a were-jackal so goofy looking he could pass for the mascot of a sports team. And check out Eisley’s pasty-white neck skin showing under the awkward jackal mask he’s wearing on his face. Eventually Eisley finds himself vying with the fattest mummy in human memory for the affections of an undead Egyptian Princess named Acana. Said mummy (who is so bulky you could swear they’ve got Tor Johnson wrapped up in those bandages) has a face that looks like a cross between Popeye the sailor man and the Toxic Avenger. Said Princess is under orders from the goddess Isis herself (in a joyously demented cameo appearance) to revive the worship of the ancient deities and provide them a home and a temple in the Mojave Desert. Other characters include Eisley’s bland friend Bob and Bob’s blander girlfriend Donna, plus the man who may have appeared in more movies than Bronson Canyon itself, John Carradine, who plays Eisley’s one-time mentor.
No mere description can possibly do justice to the air of ineptitude that suffuses every frame of this film. One of the writers for this flick was Wyott Ordung himself, who was part of the creative team behind the Grade Z classic Robot Monster. Other things to love in this outrageous mess include … a) the way the mummy’s big, bulging eye moves from one side of his face to the other by the end of the movie … b) the sub-dinner theatre caliber of acting. Picture the level of acting displayed in a Herschell Gordon Lewis film, then lower your expectations even further … c) the silly cross-eyed look on the face of Princess Acana’s father when he dies – and it runs in the family since Acana makes with the same Ben Turpin stare before expiring … d) passersby clearly laughing at the goofy-looking monsters as they rampage through Las Vegas … e) the restaurant scene in which Princess Acana, passing herself off as “Connie Adams” is addressed by Bob as “Ann” … f) the way the actor playing the man who gets mummified in the Ancient Egypt flashback scene is much, much thinner than the resulting mummy. Apparently the afterlife adds about 200 pounds to your frame … g) the weird “Egyptian Macarena” dance that Princess Acana performs to revive the mummy … and h) the oddly catchy opening theme music, which is repeated ad nauseum throughout the movie.
Why this film is not better known than it is has long been a mystery to me , but not nearly as big a mystery as what exactly goes on at the end of the movie. Yes, all the wonderful madness in the rest of the film is dwarfed by the slapdash “What the Hell just happened?” conclusion which will leave you laughing and shaking your head. Does Princess Acana succeed in turning all of us into Born-Again Ra worshippers? Do any other characters cross their eyes before dying? Does John “He’s probably even in the Zapruder film if you look hard enough” Carradine exhibit any sign that he knows which film set he’s on this time? For the answers to these and other questions just check out this outrageous movie for yourself.
NEW YEAR’S EVIL (1980) – Category: Enjoyably campy bad movie elevated by kitsch-value in the casting This is another of those holiday-themed slasher movies that followed in the bloody footsteps of the original Halloween. See my review of the Thanksgiving slasher movie Slasher In The House for more on this odd sub-genre. Our cups runneth over with kitsch-casting in this little honey. ROZ KELLY, “Pinky Tuscadero” herself, stars as Blaze, an alleged punk rock icon who hosts an alleged punk rock (but really New Wave) concert being televised on New Year’s Eve. Kelly is way too old for this role, since the character is presented as being the hippest thing in punk (Hilarious!). Nothing would have been lost by instead making Blaze an over-the- hill rocker trying desperately to revive her career by reinventing herself as a punk diva. Well, that’s not true, I guess. A large amount of the unintentional laughter this film generates would be lost and that’s really the only reason to watch it.
KIP NIVEN, David Niven’s son, plays our slasher, who calls himself “Evil”. He calls Blaze’s show to play tape recordings of his murders, which he plans to commit as the New Year arrives in all four time zones of the U.S., synchronized with Blaze’s show, which will also ring in hourly New Year’s Days as it plays throughout the night. Yep, it’s the same type of plot as in that other New Year’s Eve slasher, where a bullet- train is making its way across the country, timing its arrival in each time zone to coincide with midnight, with a slasher striking at each playing of Auld Lang Syne.
GRANT CRAMER, actress Terry Moore’s son, plays Blaze’s unstable son, who is very clearly being set up all along to be the new slasher in a New Year’s Evil sequel that never came. TERI COPLEY, the We Got It Made star herself, plays a potential victim of our slasher. SHADOW and MADE IN JAPAN play themselves, rock bands performing in Blaze’s New Years’ Dyin’ Eve, or whatever she wants to call it. Now that Shadow and Made In Japan are so famous, it’s interesting to see their humble beginnings. (I’m kidding!)
Other things to love in this flick include: a) Match Game bimbo Louisa Moritz as one of the victims b) the hopelessly lame songs, especially the title tune, which we get to hear 3 times during the movie, c) the bizarre, quasi- flirtatious dialogue between Blaze and the detective assigned to get to the bottom of these New Year’s Eve killings and d) the show-stopping WTF interlude where “Evil” engages in a looooong running fight with a biker gang for no reason except padding the film’s running time and to sprinkle in a few cutesy cult movie scenes when their battle takes them into a Drive- In.
I recommend this film for bad movie fans who don’t like heavy gore because this film’s violence is so low- key you’d swear it must be a made- for tv movie (at least until you see Teri Copley’s boobs on display). SPOILER ALERT – One thing the movie does right is remember the fact that, since Hawaii is part of the U.S., the New Year isn’t fully here until it’s midnight in Hawaii, setting up the film’s climactic slaying. “Mele Kalike MURDER” for you Quinn Martin fans out there!
THE NEWLYDEADS (1987) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following This film is about an undead transvestite slasher called Jackie who preys on the couples at a honeymoon hotel. Hey, if the Sleepaway Camp horror films can have the post-op tranny Angela as their slasher why can’t this film have a pre-op tranny as its slasher? Our story begins in 1972 when we see Jackie, in full drag, checking into a hotel run by a horny sleazeball named Lloyd. The sleazeball escorts Jackie to her/his room where he attempts to get intimate. After realizing he’s as good as participating in a cover of the song Lola the sleazeball stabs Jackie to death with a corkscrew and dumps the body in the nearby lake.
Jump ahead to 1987, where Lloyd is still running the hotel, now as a plush resort for honeymooning couples. Lloyd is getting married to a young woman named Linda in an outdoor ceremony at the resort. Lloyd’s impending nuptials have prompted Jackie to come back from the Great Beyond because she wants Lloyd as her/his own eternal mate. Why, I don’t know, since at best they were headed for a quickie and at worst he’s a homicidal homophobe. Jackie crashes the outdoor ceremony in her current condition: as a grotesquely decaying corpse in a wedding gown. She/he is still wearing the long blonde wig she/he wore the night they were killed but why Jackie is clad in a wedding gown I don’t know, other than the fact that our movie is titled The Newlydeads.
As a demonstration of how little thought the filmmakers put into this thing it took me less than 10 seconds pondering that to come up with a solution that would enhance the story and provide a plausible reason for Jackie’s desire to have Lloyd to her/himself for all eternity. In the 1972 opening, you could have presented Lloyd and Jackie as a newlywed couple honeymooning at the hotel Lloyd owns for economic reasons. Expository dialogue could make it clear that they are an old-fashioned couple who have not had premarital sex, and when Lloyd discovered that Jackie was really a man it would have been a more plausible motive for his homicidal rage. This scenario would also have put Jackie in a wedding gown when murdered and would explain her repeated comments throughout the rest of the film that she wants Lloyd all to her/himself. It would also explain her murderous resentment of the couples at the honeymoon hotel since she spends most of the movie knocking them off in various bloody ways.
Anyway, the chaos caused by Jackie crashing Lloyd’s wedding also causes a car accident involving a psychic woman and her grouchy, skeptical husband. The married couple decide to spend the night at the Honeymoon Lodge, which makes no sense since Lloyd spends a lot of time in the flick telling people over the phone that the place is booked solid. Our psychic gets a vision that her and her husband’s home is being burglarized and tells him to call the cops while she takes a walk to clear her head.
Meanwhile, Jackie, who is part zombie and part ghost in the movie, kills a nerdy guy and his hot new bride overnight. The psychic woman, Kris, gets a vibe about what is going on and leads Lloyd to the corpses. Lloyd wants to call the police but Kris, in the first of many examples of incomprehensible behavior on her part dissuades him from this, saying that by the time the police arrive the killer could have struck again. You can’t count how many ways that thinking is flawed. Even dumber is the fact that she cooperates in Lloyd’s callous plan to just dump the bodies of the dead honeymooners in the lake. (Don’t they think there will ever be a police investigation when these people just disappear?)
Next Jackie engineers the death of Lloyd’s new bride Linda and again Kris helps him to hide the body and even helps Lloyd drive Jackie away when she again comes to claim him for her own. (Why? Kris’ psychic abilities have told her by this point that Lloyd killed Jackie, causing all this mayhem. Kris’ non-stop efforts to protect Lloyd make even less sense than Jackie’s desire to spend eternity with the hate-filled sleazeball who killed her)
Kris’ husband catches her and Lloyd disposing of Linda’s corpse and runs off to phone the police. Jackie doesn’t want cops on the scene so she kills him to prevent this. By the way, all of this is taking place in the daytime since our filmmakers apparently didn’t have the proper equipment to film at night. More signs of genius from our auteurs, isn’t it? “Hmmmm, we don’t have proper film, cameras or lighting to do night shooting. Let’s make a horror film!” Anyway, a few more honeymooners and hotel staff members get killed and two cops who shouldn’t even be there get killed. The reason they shouldn’t be there illustrates another monumental lapse on the part of the producers of this mess. The cops indicate they are there because they were called about a murder by the psychic’s husband, but if you’ll recall Jackie killed him before he could make that phone call. The call he did make to the police came earlier in the film and was about his wife’s visions of their home being burglarized, not a murder. The cops say they agreed to come because the psychic Kris once helped them solve a missing persons case. (I didn’t realize you have to have done the cops a favor before they would obligingly show up to investigate a murder or a burglary)
Our story comes to a close with Kris sacrificing herself to save the repulsive Lloyd and eliminate Jackie once and for all. Again, WHY!? Lloyd is a murderer and a sleazeball. They could have at least had Kris say she was destroying Jackie as revenge for her husband’s murder (if you ignore the fact that her husband was always yelling at her and telling her she was a phony psychic) So let’s see, here; Jackie – dead, our heroic psychic – dead, two cops – dead, innocent honeymooners and hotel staff members- dead. Lloyd – alive, lame comic relief drunk minister - alive, even lamer comic relief hard-of-hearing elderly couple on a second honeymoon - alive. Also alive are the British rock star and his girlfriend, whom he proposed to at one point in the film (that’s right, he took his girlfriend to a honeymoon resort to pop the qustion and even though her boyfriend took her to a place called The Honeymoon Lodge the woman is completely surprised when he gets down on one knee. Also alive somewhere in the world is a child of Jackie’s. We glean this because of a photo Kris and Lloyd discover when looking through Jackie’s 15 year old suitcase for personal effects to cast a spell with. (That’s right, Lloyd dumped Jackie’s body years ago but inexplicably held onto the suitcase she had with her the night he killed her) I guess the filmmakers were trying to set up a sequel in which Jackie’s now-grown child could be the slasher in Newlydeads 2: Wed By Dawn (sorry) but even that was muffed, since the reference to the child is so fleeting that what few audience members were still left in the theater probably missed it.
OVERLORDS OF THE UFO (1977) – Category: Hilariously lame “documentary” about conspiracies, the paranormal and/or the supernatural This little honey comes from the muck and slime encrusted bottom of the cinematic barrel of movies that followed in the wake of the ridiculous Chariots Of The Gods. None of these schlockumentaries are very convincing about their subject matter but this flick is so outrageously inept that not even Fox Mulder would be suckered in by it.
Early on the fun kicks into high gear with mismatched stock footage of various airplanes taking off and landing while we hear what is supposed to be a conversation between two airplane pilots. The slant of the exchange is that pilots supposedly have various encounters with UFO’s as part of their average working-stiff day but never report what they see out of fear of getting blackballed. My favorite part of this film is the narrator who is lame even by the incredibly low standards of UFO documentaries. He delivers his lines with all the aplomb of a replacement weatherman at a local tv station. Among his stiff remarks are several awkward references to “the overlords of the UFO” (drinking game anyone?) and he seems incapable of correctly pronouncing the word kept, saying it as “kepp”. You may think I’m nit-picking but since “kepp” is second only to “overlords of the UFO” in sheer repetition it’s hard not to notice.
Anyway, the bulk of the film is made up of photos of alleged UFO’s that are so lame they never even would have passed muster at the Art Bell website. They are clearly double-exposures or awkward doctorings but the narrator keeps talking about what “shocking proof of extraterrestrial visitations” we’re being shown. One UFO looks like someone’s prescription pill and another one looks like a cereal bowl. The cereal bowl (Wouldn’t it be cool if the cereal bowl was full of Quisp?) shot is accompanied by narration claiming that dozens of such UFO’s were flying over a major city for days. Naturally this narration fails to explain why no film crews happened to record the phenomenon, leaving just one lame photo as “proof”. The faint double exposures are hilariously explained away as photos that captured UFO’s materializing from or dematerializing to another dimension, hence their paleness.
When the movie treats us to actual film footage instead of photographs it’s equally unconvincing, the best example being a UFO that is clearly a child’s toy being swung around by what looks like a fishing rod. This footage is blurry (isn’t all UFO footage conveniently blurry) but not blurry enough to hide what seems to be going on. And when this flick doesn’t have questionable photos and film footage to show the viewer it resorts to illustrations of alleged UFO abductions based on the supposed abductees’ descriptions of the events. As you would expect from a film that has already displayed ample instances of ineptitude these illustrations look like something someone’s grade-school age child would have drawn so Mommy and Daddy could tape it to the refrigerator door for awhile.
There’s so much to laugh at in this movie that it’s tough to recall every priceless moment but here’s a quick list of some of them: a) an “energy being” that is obviously just someone shaking a flashlight at the camera at an odd angle b) brief appearances by Uri Geller (don’t ask) and Stanton Friedman, who is as omnipresent in UFO schlockumentaries as John Carradine is in low-budget horror and sci fi films. c) an alleged response by NASA to our documentarians’ hard-hitting investigation. This response is “It’s not in our charter to investigate the UFO’s” and it injects a comically surreal note because the statement sounds incredibly garbled, as if all communications from NASA sound as fuzzy and static-ridden as in the original moon landings.
The piece de resistance in this movie comes when, at last making good on his promise at the opening of the movie, the narrator “reveals the truth about the UFO’s” that have been seen around the globe for decades. This truth comes in the form of a delirious tour de force called Journey From Ummo, sort of a film within the film that reveals the planet of origin of the UFO’s (and their “Overlords” of course) as Ummo. Ummo lore was as well-known in Europe in the 60′s and 70′s as X-Files lore was in the U.S. and elsewhere in the 90′s. These filmmakers just piggy-backed their documentary on to it, apparently, using all the weird elements of Ummo lore, like comically doctored photographs supposedly taken of other planets in our solar system by the visitors from Ummo plus their supposed discovery of the ruins of an ancient civilization on Saturn’s moon of Titan.
This Ummo nonsense is a lot of fun and was as much the common conversational currency of European UFO nuts back then as talk of “greys” and “nordics” is to the on-line UFO nut ”community” these days. It was so well-known over there that the movie I have listed above under its U.S. release title Assignment: Terror was originally released in Spain under the title The Man From Ummo. As long as you know what you’re in for, Overlords Of The UFO provides a lot of laughs for you.
THE PINK ANGELS (1971) – http://glitternight.com/2011/06/21/bad-movie-page-the-pink-angels-1971/
THE PRICE OF POWER (1969) – click here – http://glitternight.com/2011/05/03/frontierado-the-bad-the-weird-and-the-freaky-part-three-the-jfk-assassination-in-the-olllllld-west/
PSYCHOPATH – (1975) – Category: The 70′s version of camp, with a premise and plot elements that would have been banned in previous decades If you’ve ever wanted to see Mr Rogers and/or Pee Wee Herman and/or Barney The Purple Dinosaur go on a killing spree this is the movie for you! Tom Basham plays Mr Rabbey, the host of a popular kiddie show. The key to Mr Rabbey’s success - his knack for knowing what children want to see - is no accident, since Rabbey himself is soon revealed to be a crazed, child-minded nutcase. Picture how much creepier Paul Reubens’ Pee Wee Herman character would be if it was no act and he really, honestly behaved that way 24/7. Thats’ Mr Rabbey.
The victims of Rabbey’s murder spree are people who beat and otherwise abuse their children, so it’s not all that hard to take the death scenes. You see, it turns out Mr Rabbey himself was the victim of an abusive parent, and when he realizes some of the children he visits on a charitable trip to the hospital have been beaten by their parents he sets out to kill those parents. (The original title of this movie was Eye For An Eye, which is why the film opens up with an extreme closeup of one of Mr Rabbey’s eyeballs) Mr Rabbey uses things like a baseball bat, a lawn mower and garden shears in his killing spree, but my favorite death scene is the one where he strangles a victim to death with his security blanket … yes, not only does Mr Rabbey carry around a security blanket like Linus in Peanuts but he uses it to kill one of the abusive parents! We’ve got to introduce Rabbey to the mass-murdering priest from The Confessional (qv).
The loveably insane vibe of this flick is established right from the opening scene, which shows Mr Rabbey taping his show before a live audience of adoring children. Mr Rabbey is putting on a puppet show which is a violent and demented sketch on child abuse and should be titled Punch And Judy Meet Mommie Dearest. Best of all, after just watching Rabbey perform a puppet show that proves he’s certifiably insane, the show’s director simply chews him out for not standing close enough to his cue mark! And I swear the director looks like Martin Scoresese trying to hide behind a fake beard.
A creepy argument (everything Mr Rabbey participates in is creepy) breaks out between Mr Rabbey and the director, but the show’s producer, a woman who likewise seems oblivious to how nutty their star is, sides with Rabbey in the creative tussle. Expository dialogue makes it clear that The Mr Rabbey Show (which originates from a nice “Neighborhood”, if you get my drift) is so successful its looney star can get away with throwing his weight around.
Mr Rabbey’s next puppet show, performed at the children’s hospital, is equally deranged, featuring one puppet nastily beheading another. All this plays like Mr Rogers saying “Let’s see what Picture-Picture wants to show us from Auschwitz today, boys and girls” but as usual nobody in this movie’s bizarre parallel universe realizes how certifiable Mr Rabbey is.
Other things to love include: a) the funky music that always accompanies the cops investigating Mr Rabbey’s killing spree. It sounds like theme music from a 70′s blaxploitation film. b) the part of the film where, armed with the name and address of his next potential victim, Mr Rabbey proceeds to … VISIT AN AMUSEMENT PARK AND GO ON SEVERAL RIDES!? And we see every - single – minute of it in a prime example of the low-budget movie motto: “If we shot the footage, we’re gonna use it, no matter what it does to the pacing” c) the way one of the abusive parents is the only person in the world who seems to realize how creepy it is that Mr Rabbey constantly hangs around at children’s playgrounds in his free time d) the scene where one of the cops is working on his car by leaning into the engine with a lit cigar in his mouth and e) the way this film’s musical score could be used as a perfect lesson in how not to use music to set the mood in a horror film. To use just one example, when Rabbey is stalking one of his victims (by riding his prized bicycle, complete with basket on the front) we hear some very odd country-music composition that sounds like it belongs on Hee Haw.
At one point, completely out of the blue, the female producer tells Mr Rabbey his show has been canceled (?), pushing him even further over the edge. He hallucinates that the producer is his abusive mother and attacks her. Finally, when launching his final attack, Mr Rabbey is himself shot to death by one of the battered children he’s trying to save from an abusive parent. This movie throws in one more odd twist which I wouldn’t dream of revealing.
PULGASARI (1985) – Category: Bad enough and with a classically weird premise but not fun-bad enough for my highest rating North Korea’s thoroughly deranged dictator Kim Jong Il was responsible for this film and even gives himself a producer’s credit. It’s the least he could do for himself after having his underlings literally kidnap some South Korean filmmakers and force them to take part in this bizarre film venture. If you doubt me just use a search engine to find out about the making of this movie. He even made those unfortunate people rot in one of his prisons for four years before he finally got around to setting them to the task he had kidnapped them for in the first place.
It was all part of Krazy Kim’s desire to initiate North Korea’s entry into the kaiju film market. (Their previous attempt decades earlier resulted in the equally laughable film Yongary, Monster From The Deep ) That story would have made a much better movie than this one. Pulgasari (No, not Pao Gasol, Pulgasari. NBA fans will get it) is the title monster in Kim Jong Il’s attempt to imitate Godzilla and Gamera and other Japanese monsters. Since the story is set centuries ago it also has overtones of the lesser known Japanese monster movie series about Majin, the giant stone samurai who comes to life and kicks butt in feudal Japan. Majin for some reason also shoots flame from between his legs. No, I’m not kidding.
Crotch-mounted flame throwers might have helped liven up Pulgasari, which is very boring in stretches because of the inane, heavy-handed, Kim Jong Il-aggrandizing message of the movie. Pulgasari starts life as a toy lovingly crafted by an elderly man who has been jailed by the local tyrannical feudal lord. This man dies due to ill-treatment by his captors and as everyone who’s ever seen an episode of Twilight Zone or Tales From The Crypt or any other anthology series could predict, the lovingly crafted toy comes to life to avenge its creator and save the down-trodden villagers he loved. The toy has a huge hunger for iron, and as he eats more and more of it he grows larger and larger until he is several stories tall and can go on a rampage to take on the brutal armies of the oppressive feudal lord. Like in the Majin movies, the time period means instead of lame miniatures of a skyscraper- filled metropolis being defended by tanks and planes we have lame miniatures of a period town being defended by cannon. Have no fear, though, Pulgasari himself looks every inch the sweaty guy in a big rubber monster suit that Godzilla himself did in movies back then.
Anyway, as the film ham-fistedly goes on to make clear, Pulgasari actually represents the ”evil forces of capitalism” pretending to save ”the people” from oppression only to go on to oppress them still further. This flick is as laughable with its simple-minded left-wing message as the movie If Footmen Tire You What Will Horses Do? (qv) was with its simple-minded right-wing message. The monster requires more and more mineral sustenance from the villagers to keep its dictatorial reign going. Naturally, as you would expect, a heroic figure who hilariously is supposed to represent Kim Jong Il’s family in Kim’s fevered mind, arises to bring down the evil Pulgasari and be the true savior of “the people”. Nice revisionist myth- making by a crazed dictator to justify his family’s ongoing rape of the country they rule over. Everybody who loves laughing at bad monster movies and pee-pee- ca-ca level political messages should see this movie.
THE RETURN OF DR X (1939) – Category: Enjoyably campy bad movie elevated by kitsch-value in the casting. Yes, it’s the famous “Humphrey Bogart as a zombie mad scientist” movie. The tale goes that Jack Warner inflicted this role on gangster-flick star Bogart as punishment for resisting being cast in too many formulaic crime films. This was, of course, before The Maltese Falcon made Bogie a big-time star and long before actors had the kind of contracts that they have these days. Bogart plays the titular Dr X, but not the same Dr X that Lionel Atwill played in a movie of that name earlier in the decade. This Dr X is Dr Maurice Xavier, a mad scientist executed in the electric chair for, among other things, bizarre experiments on infants (a pretty ballsy story element in those pre- Auschwitz awareness days). The “return” mentioned in the title refers to the fact that Bogart’s Dr X has been brought back from the dead by the film’s secondary menace, Dr Flegg (and let’s face it , The Return Of Dr Flegg just doesn’t have the same sinister appeal).
Flegg can bring people back from the dead but needs Dr X’s help to perfect “synthetic blood” without which his ressurrectees die again after a period of days. That’s right, Flegg seems to think nobody will be interested in his method of restoring life to the recently deceased just because his subjects don’t live indefinitely! (Early heart transplant operations anyone?) The revived Bogart takes to surgically draining real blood from unwilling victims to keep himself alive while he and Flegg work on their “new, improved” synthetic blood.
The whole film has the feel of one of Bela Lugosi’s laughable PRC horror flicks from back then complete with an annoying smart-alecky reporter, a supposedly handsome young doctor as our romantic lead (to give you an idea of this physician’s level of lameness, at one point he says “Interesting stuff, blood” and seems to mean every word of it) and a female partner for him who has the rare blood type Dr X needs from the victims he drains. Adding to the PRC feel is Huntz Hall from the Bowery Boys as a newspaper librarian and a blustering, impatient editor for our reporter. (Annoyed at the grisly details of the Dr X story the jolly journalist insists on covering the editor at one point calls the reporter, who hails from Kansas, “Wichita Frankenstein”. Now that’s a movie I’d pay to see!)
The whole picture is Bogie, though, in the role he loathed, sporting pale face makeup and a strange white streak in his hair that makes him look like the lead in a movie called Attack Of The Skunk Man, or maybe like Pepe le Peu in human form. We first see Bogart stroking a rabbit that he kills so Dr Flegg can bring it back to life later in the movie and we last see him when Dr X gets gunned down in a shootout with the cops during a scene that can’t help but remind you of Bogie’s early gangster-on-the- run movies. Since I’m kind of odd it also reminded me of the zombie-gangster movie from the 50′s titled Creature With The Atom Brain. For you Casablanca fans wouldn’t you love to see Bogart’s undead Dr X take on Conrad Veidt as the zombie Cesare from the 1919 film The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari?
****** If you want to complete the Hat Trick of unrelated Dr X movies there’s also The Revenge Of Dr X, from decades later, about a mad American scientist who travels to Japan. Once there he acquires a lab assistant whom the dialogue constantly refers to as ugly and hunchbacked even though he’s neither. This Dr X also creates a ridiculous-looking plant/man hybrid with huge Venus flytraps for hands and feet. (No, really.)
The real claim to fame of this final Dr X movie is the fact that it is supposedly based on a previously unproduced script by Ed Wood himself. I have no idea if that’s true but some of the dialogue is certainly inane enough to have been penned by Wood (“All our past mistakes are in the past now”). And, though the screenplay would have had nothing to do with it, the ending, where the moster falls into a volcano and dies, is cobbled together from incredibly mismatched footage that makes the end of Wood’s film Bride Of The Monster look positively coherent by comparison.
RETURN OF THE FLY (1959) – http://glitternight.com/2013/04/25/return-of-the-fly-1959-on-the-texas-27-film-vault-august-9th-1986/
ROBO-ZOMBIES (1986) - for this review click here: http://glitternight.com/2011/03/20/bad-movie-page-robo-zombies-1986/
SANTA AND THE ICE CREAM BUNNY - (1972) – Category: Bad enough and with a classically weird premise but not fun-bad enough for my highest rating This thoroughly bizarre little holiday-themed movie will redefine the term “low-budget” for you. Normally I cut some slack to films that are clearly targeted at children but this bomb doesn’t seem targeted at children as much as it seems targeted at morons. The opening scene of this odd movie is set in a very cramped set that is supposed to be Santa’s North Pole workshop. Some very tall children are dressed as elves and are awkwardly pretending to be working on toys that are quite obviously already completed, lending the scene a joyously inept “grade-school Christmas play” kind of feel. The opening credits inform us that these children/elves are players from “Ruth Foreman’s Pied Piper Playhouse” as they sing a song that has been so poorly-recorded we can only make out an occassional few words. The gist of the song seems to be that the elves are wondering where Santa is since it’s only a few days until Christmas.
A female narrator unnecessarily goes on to tell us what we can clearly see as the film switches scenes – Santa and his sleigh are stuck in the sand on a beach in Florida. In this instance “stuck in the sand” is just an expression because though the narrator and characters in this movie all act as if Santa’s sleigh is hopelessly embedded in the sand following some sort of crash landing we viewers can clearly see the sleigh (which is still in an upright position) is just sitting there with its runners covered with barely an inch or two of sand. The reindeer are said to have been sent flying back to the North Pole for their own safety after they proved incapable of pulling the sleigh free. Anyway, Santa is stranded in balmy Florida, where this and many other films by our director Barry Mahon were made (more on this later).
It’s really hot for our poor actor playing Santa (Jay Clark) in that fur-trimmed outfit, the padding and the fake beard. He starts singing an even dumber song than the elves were singing and as he gesticulates while pitching his tune he looks ridiculous with sopping-wet sweat stains under his arms, on his chest, down his back and even all over his rear end causing his red pants to cling so tightly that his butt-crack and buttocks are clearly delineated. God only knows what the children seeing this film in theaters thought during this scene. Santa concludes his inane song speculating on who will help him and then telepathically (Or something. The film never makes it clear) summons a bunch of children (the same Pied Piper Playhouse kids who were playing the elves earlier) to help him.
The children all run off individually to get an animal of their own to try to pull the sleigh free, despite the obvious fact that even if the sleigh was really stuck all of the children pulling together would represent more horsepower than the animals they bring in one by one to make solo efforts at pulling the sleigh out of the sand. It would help if Santa got out of the sleigh, too, but he just sits there in the sleigh when most of the animals try to pull him free. The first child brings a guy in an ape suit to try to unmire the sled, but when he fails the child leads him off. This pattern is repeated over and over again as the subsequent children all bring in animals provided by the petting zoo attraction at Pirates World, a fun little footnote in Florida amusement park history and which turns out to be a running theme in the film in ways that I’ll tackle as we go along. Some of the animals make sense, like a horse and a goat, while others would never be considered for pulling any object, stuck or not, like a pig (?), a cow and a dog. Since the horse could have very easily carried the sleigh out of the inch or two of sand as well as drag it across the beach at a full gallop the actors don’t even connect it to the sleigh. They apparently hope the viewers won’t notice this fact and just stand there with the horse, pretending to be trying to move Santa’s sleigh and then just give up.
The children eventually suggest that Santa just catch a plane back to the North Pole but he insists he can’t abandon his sleigh or he won’t be able to deliver toys on Christmas Eve. Just to amp up the weirdness factor we see Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn row a raft to shore near where Santa sits, surrounded by the children, and after their pet racoon very obviously nearly bites Tom (Or Huck. It’s hard to tell) in the face (I’m serious) they hunker down in the bushes to watch what happens. (?)
Now take a breath while I try to explain what happens next in as few words as possible. Santa wants to prove to the children that he is not defeated by his plight and gathers the kids around him while he perspires profusely and claims he’s going to tell them a story that shows the importance of perseverance. It now becomes apparent to the viewer that this whole Santa and his sleigh stuck in the sand business is just a lame wrap-around for a roughly 70 minute film-within the film (complete with a new set of credits!) which was either Thumbelina or Jack And The Beanstalk, depending on which soul-scarring version of Santa And The Ice Cream Bunny your children were unfortunate enough to see.
Both of those films within the film were produced by the aforementioned Pirates World to complete their seeming attempt to imitate the Disney theme park and theatrical film empire. Those two live-action films are loaded with blatant plugs for Pirates World and feature lots of footage of the cheap and almost sad-looking amusement park, complete with rides that make the ”Raton” rollercoaster in The Girl And The Geek look like a Six Flags amusement.
You know how Disney parks have cool rides like “It’s A Small World” and “Pirates Of The Caribbean”? Pirates World apparently sported little tours of dioramas of public domain children’s stories. You know how Disney would do feature-length live-action films that were full of state-of-the -art special effects and catchy songs? Pirates World did these sub-seventy- minute featurettes full of laughably cheap special effects and songs that sound like they were written and composed on a single trip to the rest room.
Between the two Pirates World films that were set in the middle of Santa And The Ice Cream Bunny try to find a copy with Jack And The Beanstalk because Thumbelina is more boring-bad than fun-bad. Anyway, when either JATB or Th come to a close – complete with a full set of closing credits and a logo saying “Another fine film from Pirates World”, the film cuts back to Santa making non-commital sum-up remarks to the kids since he had no way of knowing which featurette the audience had just seen.
Inspired (or something) by whichever tale they had supposedly just heard Santa relate (And I know all the childhood stories my parents told me always ended with a plug for Pirates World) the children run off again … well, actually this film is sooooo cheap they just show us stock-freaking- footage of the kids running off from earlier in the flick. This time they return with the Ice Cream Bunny himself, who was obviously intended to be Pirates World’s answer to Mickey Mouse. He’s played by an unseen actor in a big costume, just like the people dressed as Mickey, Goofy, Donald Duck, etc at Disney parks. This poor schlep was probably sweating even more than Santa was during shooting.
The Ice Cream Bunny drives an old-fashioned fire engine as part of his schtick and we see him and his passengers – all the kids who ran off to fetch him to help Santa – riding to what the video box calls “a daring rescue” for several looooong minutes to pad out this horrible film and to show off even more of the rather pathetic attractions at Pirates World. The kids seem to be singing a reprise of Santa’s “Who will help me?” number from earlier in the movie but you can’t really make out many of the lyrics.
Next we have the monumental meeting between Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny. The bunny resolves Santa’s plight by giving him a ride back to the North Pole in his antique fire engine, even though earlier in the film Santa told the kids he couldn’t just catch a flight out of Florida because he dared not abandon his sleigh. (Let’s just ignore the obvious fact that you can’t drive to the North Pole) Added fun to the Stanley and Livingstone meeting of these two heavyweights (?) is supplied by the way the bunny’s winking right eye jams shut at one point necessitating an awkward jump cut. There’s also a frantically uncontrollable dog named Rebel or Ripple or Nipple or something and that dog is nearly run over by the Ice Cream Bunny’s fire engine. If you’re wondering what happened to Tom and Huck, they now exchange a goofy look from their hiding place in the bushes and are never seen again in this film. Anyway, as if Santa just riding off with the Ice Cream Bunny isn’t enough of a slap to the face of the poor suckers who sat through this stinker Santa’s sleigh now de-materializes and the narrator tells us it was waiting for Santa when he arrived back at the North Pole. Aaaaaargh! (I always forget – are there 5 a’s or 6 a’s in “Aaaaargh!”)
And thus ends another bizarre venture from Renaissance Man Barry Mahon whose filmic efforts ranged from nudie cuties to soft-core porn to cheap monster flicks and even the animated story Santa And The Three Bears. (No doubt about it- Mahon really had it in for St Nick) He’s also known to bad movie geeks like me for his Pirates World featurettes and for the Cold War potboiler Rocket Attack USA, with its memorable twist ending in which a Soviet nuke wipes out New York City.
SLASHER IN THE HOUSE (1981) – Category: Enjoyably campy bad movie elevated by kitsch-value in the casting The success of John Carpenter’s Halloween in the late 1970′s launched a frenzy of holiday-themed slasher movies trying to cash in on that film’s success. The most infamous, of course, was the Silent Night, Deadly Night series with the slasher dressed as Santa Claus (and its notorious tag line “You made it through Halloween, now try and survive Christmas!” ), but other holidays got a customized slasher flick, too, like New Year’s Eve (the hilariously bad New Year’s Evil), Valentine’s Day (the original My Bloody Valentine) and Mother’s Day (in a movie of the same name). It even got so any annual event was fodder for the splatter film industry, as we saw the release of films like the Prom Night movies, April Fool’s Day, Happy Birthday To Me, Graduation Day and The Class Reunion Massacre. Slasher In The House, also released under the title Home Sweet Home, was a slice ‘em and dice ‘em flick for the Thanksgiving holiday. The kitsch casting comes in the form of Jake “Body By Jake” Steinfeld, workout guru and later the star of the sitcom Big Brother Jake, who plays the slasher in the film. Jake, typical of an 80′s slasher character, is nigh indestructible, like Jason Voorhees (even before his zombification) and Bartholomew, the killer wearing a Richard Nixon mask in Horror House On Highway 5 (QV). Jake’s character’s nearly superhuman strength and stamina is explained by his addiction to PCP, which we see him injecting under his tongue for gross-out value shortly after he escapes from a mental institution at the beginning of the film. Our lead crazy then runs over a senior citizen (whose body apparently contains more blood than any three other people from the amount that comes gushing out) in a stolen car. His flight eventually takes him to a sprawling California ranch where the most dysfunctional family you’ll ever see outside of a reality tv series has gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving. These people are so annoying and so incredibly stupid, even for horror film characters, that you’re almost glad to see Jake whittle their numbers down with giddy abandon. Be sure to have your Big Brother Jake jokes at the ready for the part of the film where it looks like an innocent little girl is going to fall victim to our smiler with the knife. Luckily it turns out to be a false scare, as the little girl goes unharmed, kind of like the similar teasing bit in the killer elevator movie The Lift (QV). One final laugh is provided by the unbelievably lame and unimaginative attempt to set up a sequel which never came.
SON OF SVENGOOLIE – For my article on the one and only Rich Koz click here: http://glitternight.com/2010/10/21/halloween-diversion-son-of-svengoolie/
SPAGHETTI WESTERNS – The weirdest examples – http://glitternight.com/2012/07/29/the-most-laughably-weird-spaghetti-westerns/
STAR SPANGLED RHYTHM (1942) – http://glitternight.com/2013/05/17/bad-movie-star-spangled-rhythm-1942-on-the-texas-27-film-vault-july-6th-1985/
TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT – (Pre- MST3K bad movie show) – http://glitternight.com/2011/12/22/randy-clower-balladeers-blog-interviews-a-movie-host-legend/
TRUNK TO CAIRO (1966) – http://glitternight.com/2013/04/04/the-first-bad-movie-shown-on-the-texas-27-film-vault/
THE WEREWOLF OF WOODSTOCK (1972) – Category: Bad enough and with a classically weird premise but not fun-bad enough for my highest rating This made for tv movie presents the weirdest variation on the werewolf legend this side of Curse of the Queerwolf. The story begins the night after the conclusion of 1969′s Woodstock music festival when a grumpy old man who hates rock music and young people goes to the litter-strewn remnants of the outdoor concert looking for “hippies” to harass. This act is even dumber than it first sounds when you consider that just a bit earlier he and another resident of Woodstock were discussing how all the concertgoers are “long gone”. While trashing some of the metal stage equipment (I have no idea why it’s still there) he gets struck by lightning, causing him to start turning into a werewolf during thunder storms … uh, yeah, makes perfect sense. As part of the film’s on-again off-again attempt at a storyline it is sometimes implied that people playing rock music provoke the werewolf to attack them, but other times that notion is conveniently forgotten. Two cops, played by Meredith Macrae and Michael Parks, begin to investigate the strange goings on, with Parks wearing a goofy knit cap that makes him look like Michael Nesmith from The Monkees. (In fact this telefilm could pass for an overlong episode of The Monkees tv show if not for all the killings.) Other memorable bits of Bad Movie Heaven in this movie include: a) the way all the cast members wildly overact to a degree not seen since the days of silent movies, b) the bizarre plan of an unknown rock band (one member of which is a very young Andrew Stevens) to make it big by taking pictures of themselves amid the ruins of the Woodstock event, thereby hoping to convince a record label that they actually performed there, c) the way the rock’n'roll-crazed werewolf not only conveniently returns to the old curmudgeon’s bed after his nocturnal killing sprees, but obviously also wraps the bandages back around his own face before daybreak (the facial bandages are from the burns he suffered in the electrocution), d) the usual monster movie cliche involving how the werewolf doesn’t kill the female groupie of the rock band, but instead stashes her away in an abandoned building, e) said groupie’s incredibly annoying habbit of changing her dog’s name every few days (oh, she’s soooooo whimsical), f) the scene in which our supposedly mindless werewolf ties the groupie up to prevent her from escaping his lair, g) the shamelessly prolonged driving scene that pads out the ending of the film … no dialogue, no cross-cuts back to the werewolf and his victim, just silent driving for what feels like forever, and h) the goofy plot to use the lame, unknown rock band to perform on the leftover Woodstock stage to lure the rock-hating lycanthrope out of hiding so he can be contained in a crossfire of loud noises. That ingenious plan fails, and the old, reliable silver bullet method is used to bring the wolfman’s reign of terror to a close. This whole disastrous attempt at a rock’n'roll-themed horror film was executive produced by none other than Dick Clark himself, proving that not everything the American Bandstand icon touched turned to gold.
THE WIZARD OF MARS – (1965) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following This 1965 film from David L Hewitt is my all-time favorite kitschy movie about space travel. This one has all the little extras that separate a true bad movie classic from the mere pretenders. One of those extras would be incredibly cheap special effects, some of them cadged right from the old Soviet sci-fi flick Planet of Storms, which is a lot of fun for people like me who’ve seen those same bits of footage show up in countless other bad movies. (Especially the spaceship’s “viewscreen” complete with markings for North, South, East and West, which would, of course, be meaningless in space) Another extra that this film has is the man I consider to be the Patron Saint of Bad Movies, John Carradine himself, as the titular wizard. I don’t recommend trying to see all the movies John Carradine has appeared in unless you plan on making a career out of it and I don’t recommend that either. (Somewhere around his appearance in Vampire Hookers you’ll burn out completely) Carradine’s “above the title” credit is another source of fun in this flick. In its original release under this title there was an opening screen-shot saying “John Carradine as … The Wizard Of Mars” . When the film was reissued later under the thoroughly misleading title Alien Massacre union rules prevented them from being able to strip away Carradine’s “above the title” credit, so the opening now read “John Carradine as … Alien Massacre!” A large chunk of the fun-bad appeal of this movie lies in the incredibly forced parallels with L. Frank Baum’s story The Wizard Of Oz. The film gives us a female astronaut as our Dorothy and a big-brained commander of the expedition to Mars who is obviously supposed to be the Scarecrow but your guess is as good as mine as to which one of the other two fellows is the Tin Man and which the Cowardly Lion. I’ve seen flame wars erupt over that issue among people even more eccentric than I am. There’s also a metallic gold highway as the Yellow Brick Road leading our foursome across a Martian desert to this film’s version of the Emerald City. The city is hilariously represented by what looks like one of those little castles you see at the bottom of an office aquarium, but is somehow even less impressive. Seriously, even Ed Wood must have looked down his nose at this lame excuse for a special effect if he saw the film. There’s lots of low-budget fun before our astronauts get that far, however. Upon their arrival on the red planet we see a large body of all that water that some people used to believe was on Mars in the past. After their crash landing they have an encounter with some joyously goofy water-creatures who resemble mutant vacuum cleaner hoses with a taste for human flesh. Next they paddle their way through labyrinthine underground caverns exchanging the most laughable dialogue in the storied history of cornball space journey flicks. One of the silliest but just plain fun bad special effects of the movie follows as our heroes make their way behind an honest-to-God lava-fall, as in falling lava that looks like a waterfall. To do this, and to make their way along the narrow cliff-ledges that lie beyond, they have to pass incredibly close to sheer tons of molten magma which would have burned them to cinders from the proximity, but this film is convinced that the four space-farers would have to actually touch the lava to feel any of its effects. Hilarious! Our explorers are also obviously not wearing the glass face-plates on their space-suits in some shots, another typical gaffe in films like this where the filmmakers can’t afford to take adequate steps to prevent their shooting lights from reflecting in said glass plates.
This film is one of those rarities in the near perfect way the weirdness factor just keeps building and building throughout even though you’d swear the movie couldn’t possibly out-do the goofiness you’ve already seen. (Unlike the similar film The Angry Red Planet which peters out after the exhilirating encounters with the giant bat-rat-spider-creature and the monstrous amoeba) Arriving in the Emerald City (snicker) the four astronauts find the lifeless remains of an explorer from outside our solar system who fell victim to a technological booby-trap concealed within the seemingly deserted city. They also discover that the goofy-looking Martian inhabitants, who I could swear must have been the models for Tim Burton’s alien invaders in Mars Attacks!, are all preserved in upright glass containers which serve as kind of a sci-fi version of Egyptian mummy-cases. And these Martians are still alive, to no one’s surprise but our astronauts. When their attempt at a Martian version of a Vulcan mind-meld with the crew’s leader fails, the Martians all emit mental projections that look like ghosts of themselves and these emanations all combine to form the collective intelligence which is our “wizard”, John Carradine himself. John, who was accepting any and every role he could lay his withered old hands on by this point in his career to finance his Shakespeare Company, seems as disoriented as in The Mummy And The Curse Of The Jackals (qv). He babbles on and on in a seven-minute speech the point of which could have been conveyed in two. The Martians’ technology advanced to the point where they could putz around with time itself and accidentally trapped their city and their bodies in time like flies on flypaper. They need the Earth astronauts to repair the device that caused their plight which will release them from their suspension and finally let them die, since we’re told their minds, which still functioned while their bodies were trapped, are weary and will welcome death. Our heroes succeed in this task, the Martians are finally at rest and for no reason other than an “Oh, wow” ending, the astronauts are suddenly orbiting Mars in their fully-repaired spaceship, and are told by Mission Control that they were only out of contact for a few moments though days seemed to have passed for them on Mars. No description can convey how much fun this bad movie gem really is, you just have to watch it to fully appreciate its charm
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