Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog know how much I love bad and weird movies. Here are three out of the way films that are not good by any stretch of the imagination but which have a certain something that makes them bizarrely watchable.
DARKER THAN AMBER (1970) – Rod Taylor IS, for some reason, an Australian version of John D MacDonald’s detective Travis McGee. William “Big Bill” Smith plays the outrageously bleached-blonde villain Terry Bartlett and Theodore Bikel portrays McGee’s friend and idea man Meyer. McGee saves a woman (Suzy Kendall) from being forcibly drowned by her criminal associates only to see her get bumped off by them anyway.
Taylor’s odd “Crocodile” McGee runs a con to bring down the dead woman’s murderers. The novel’s Alabama Tiger, a millionaire who runs a non-stop party on his houseboat, became the Alabama Tigress in this movie and is played by THE Jane Russell. Robert Clouse of Enter the Dragon fame directed, with the highlight of this cult film being the supposedly real fight (in parts) between William Smith and Rod Taylor. Most video versions edit out much of this awkward battle but the unedited brawl can be viewed on YT.
BLOODBATH (1975) – Originally titled Las Flores del Vicio, this movie stars Dennis Hopper as Chicken, an expatriate American druggie and Carroll Baker as former starlet Treasure Evans, another American living out their ennui and disillusionment in a strictly religious Spanish coastal town. Dead bodies begin piling up, which may be drug-induced hallucinations on Chicken’s part or may be real-life ritual killings being committed by a violent cult.
David Lynch only WISHES he crafted characters as strange as the villagers in Bloodbath. Whether they’re taking a pig for a walk on a leash, tearing the heads off of chickens or trampling children to death during parades they perfectly embody Eurotrash versions of Twin Peaks or Mulholland Drive characters. Hopper and Baker pal around with a few other hard-partying outsiders and things come to a head during competing Good Friday celebrations by the druggies and the seemingly pious locals. Weird from start to finish.
CIRCLE OF POWER (1981) – Based on the supposedly true book by Gene Church and Conrad D Carnes, Circle of Power aka Brainwash deals with the kind of bizarrely sadistic corporate motivational retreats which were once in fashion but thankfully died out. The pseudo-psychology involved in the ritualistic humiliations/ struggle sessions has long since been discredited and this age of lawsuits should prevent such festivals of abuse from ever again being enacted.
Circle of Power still has impact, however, as a combination horror film, corporate satire and Dyanne Thorne prison camp flick. Yvette Mimieux and Leo Rossi star as Bianca Ray and Chris Morris, the session leaders at the disturbing retreat for aspiring middle-managers. Other recognizable faces include John Considine, Fran Ryan and Julius Harris. David Susskind appears as HIMSELF, clinching the overall weirdness of the production.
FOR MY ANNE SPIELBERG MARATHON OF BAD MOVIES CLICK HERE
FOR MY LEO FONG MOVIE MARATHON CLICK HERE
FOR MY ROBERT GINTY MOVIE MARATHON CLICK HERE
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