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, The Giant Claw, Manos, The Hands Of Fate, etc, etc will not be listed here. 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 1980s 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 –   


ALABAMA’S GHOST – (1973) –

ALIEN LOVER (1975) –


ASSIGNMENT: TERROR (1969) Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following. CLICK HERE

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 70s 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.


THE BABY (1973) –






BLOOD!(1974) –

BLOOD FREAK (1972) –  

BLOOD HARVEST (1987) – The slasher movie with Tiny Tim in it –


THE BODY SHOP (1973) –


THE CHRISTMAS MARTIAN (1971) –Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following. CLICK HERE

THE CLONES OF BRUCE LEE (1979) – Category: Brucesploitation with an enjoyably absurd twist. CLICK HERE 

THE CONFESSIONAL (1976) – Category: The 70’s version of camp, with a premise and plot elements that would have been banned in previous decades. CLICK HERE

CRIMINALLY INSANE (1974) – Category: The 70’s version of camp, with a premise and plot elements that would have been banned in previous decades. CLICK HERE

CURSE OF A TEENAGE NAZI (1948) – Category: Bad enough and with an enjoyably weird premise, but not fun-bad enough for my highest rating CLICK HERE    


DEAFULA (1975) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following   CLICK HERE 

DEATH BED – (1977) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following    CLICK HERE

DIAL: HELP (1988) – For this “killer phone” movie click here:

DOCTOR COOK’S GARDEN – (1971) – Category: Enjoyably campy bad movie elevated by kitsch-value in the casting. CLICK HERE                  


THE DRAGON LIVES AGAIN (1977) – Category: Brucesploitation with an enjoyably absurd twist CLICK HERE


FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY (1981) – The midget spy movie –

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!  


GHOST BUSTING (1991) You won’t believe this one! –

GHOULIES (1984) –



HEX (1973) –

HIGH SCHOOL CAESAR (1960) Category: Bad, youth-oriented 1960 movie that is incredibly campy CLICK HERE    

HOMEBODIES (1974) –           

HORROR HOUSE ON HIGHWAY 5 (1985) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following.  



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?


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 –


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 PRICE OF POWER (1969) – click here –

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.


ROBO-ZOMBIES (1986) – for this review click here:


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:

SPAGHETTI WESTERNS – The weirdest examples –



TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT – (Pre- MST3K bad movie show) – 


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

ZUMA (1985)

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