Category Archives: Bad and weird movies

SPIELBERG … ANNE SPIELBERG

masc graveyard smallerSteven Spielberg’s sister Anne got her start as a producer for many of the cheapjack science fiction films of Robert Emenegger and Allan Sandler. With apologies to fans of the original Doctor Who series, to me, “E-Space” will always mean EMENEGGER SPACE, as in the Emenegger-verse of his series of movies in 1980 and 1981.

Emenegger Space is full of Grade Z special effects, bad acting, a few good ideas and an overall feel of striving for Alien and Star Trek levels but falling far, far short.  

Warp SpeedWARP SPEED (1981) – Set in the far-off year 2013 (!) this movie features the crew of a spaceship sent to determine what happened to the vanished crew of a multi-year mission to Saturn. The organization they serve is called Starfleet, which serves as a reminder that by 1981 there was just the original Star Trek series, its cartoon version and one movie, not the enormous universe of spin-offs that we have today. Point being that the term Starfleet was apparently open for use by other creators. Starfleet features in another Spielberg/ Emenegger/ Sandler joint, too.

Adam West plays Captain Lofton, the leader of the now-lost mission, and has assorted offspring of Cameron Mitchell backing him up in this movie. One such Mitchell, Camille, stars as Dr Janet Trask, a psychic who is sent into the abandoned Atlas vessel to investigate the cause of the crew’s disappearance.

Trask is outfitted with tech which sends back images of the psychic visions she receives of past events on the ghost-ship. Amid assorted David Lynch-style psychosexual interludes we see disaster strike the Atlas, followed by an aborted mission and ultimately a mutiny as the crew try to get the damaged craft back to the Earth. Continue reading

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ISLAND OF THE LOST (1967): MOVIE REVIEW

Island of the LostISLAND OF THE LOST (1967) – Directed by John Florea and written by Richard Carlson and Ivan Tors, this family adventure movie starred Richard Greene, known for playing Robin Hood in the 1950s television series and for playing Sir Denis Nayland Smith in a few of the Fu Manchu movies from the 1960s.

In addition to Greene, Island of the Lost provides additional cultural kitsch appeal: You’ve got producer Ivan Tors of Flipper fame dragging along Luke Halpin, the boy star of that series. Ivan also seems to have brought along a LOT of Flipper stock footage for the underwater scenes. Jose de Vega from Blue Hawaii is also in the cast as are soap opera queen Robin Mattson and the ubiquitous Irene Tsu. Plus the screenwriter is THE Richard Carlson, star of many b-movies.

Island of the Lost 2Richard Greene AND Richard Carlson? You know that with a couple of Dicks like them around we are in for some campiness and lame special effects that might have been acceptable in the 1950s … in black & white, not color. 

Greene portrays Professor Josh MacRae, a scholar who is convinced that there are undiscovered islands in the Pacific Ocean, islands on which live creatures long thought extinct. Like so many movie professors, he organizes his own expedition to try to prove his theory. And if he dies in the attempt he plans to take his whole family down with him! Continue reading

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MYSTERIOUS PLANET (1982): MOVIE REVIEW

Mysterious Planet posterMYSTERIOUS PLANET (1982) – Written, produced and directed by Brett Piper, this was his first film ever and it manages to be bad in every conceivable way, running the gamut from fun-bad to boring-bad to incomprehensibly bad and even rising to “how could you NOT be ashamed to release this under your real name” bad at times.  

Mysterious Planet is, as the opening titles say, “very freely based” on Jules Verne’s novel Mysterious Island. If you’ll recall, that book featured Civil War POWs escaping in a hot-air balloon and being taken far off course to a mysterious island. In this movie, which may be set in the far future or in deep space given the level of technology, a spaceship loaded with medical supplies is the vessel which transports our main characters.

Some reviews of this movie claim our heroes are escaped prisoners or prisoners of war but nothing in the actual film supports that. Those reviewers may just be assuming they were POWs simply because the characters in Mysterious Island were. The dialogue is so hard to understand that I can’t really blame any reviewers for jumping to conclusions while trying to make sense of this jumbled mess.

Mysterious Planet 2As the story opens, some kind of space fleet is informing all of its ships that no take-offs will be permitted until an “asteroid storm” passes through. Most of the captains are content to obey, but not Commander Rogan (Paula Taupier), the combined captain and science officer of the medical transport ship. (If you can make out the name of the vessel you’ve got me beaten, and I replayed most of the dialogue several times to pick out what nuggets of information I could.)

Rogan argues over the radio with her superiors and insists that the inhabitants of some planet whose name I could not make out are in desperate need of the supplies on board her ship. Our heroine is still insisting she should be allowed to take off when fate intervenes on her behalf.

A fleet of some alien race whose name I could not understand attacks the star-base and amid all the chaos, Commander Rogan takes off without permission so she can get the desperately needed medical supplies to the Whoevers. Rogan’s craft tangles with some of the raiders while simultaneously dodging asteroids from the storm/ swarm. Continue reading

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CHRISTMAS TURKEYS: BAD MOVIES FOR THE CHRISTMAS SEASON

ELVESRegular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are very familiar with my Bad Movie page. Laughing at bad and weird movies is one of the great joys of life so I often post holiday-themed looks at cinematic turkeys around Halloween and Thanksgiving.

The Yuletide season has its fair share of turkeys as well, so enjoy this examination of more Christmas season bombs than even Henry Kissinger ever dreamed of. I will exclude overexposed movies like Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and the Mexican film Santa Claus. Visit my Bad Movie page if you want full-length reviews of the following 14 flicks.  

Christmas MartianTHE CHRISTMAS MARTIAN (1971) – This Canadian flick is dubbed into English from its orginal French so viewers get treated to the Old School bad movie fun of the actor’s lip movements rarely matching the words being said. An annoyingly whimsical and whacky Martian gets stuck in Canada at Christmas time. A young brother and sister help the alien visitor repair his Ed Wood- level spaceship and save him from suspicious Canadian authorities. Yes, it all seems … reminiscent … of the much-later movie E.T. but I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that E.T. is so similar. (?)

The Martian overdoes the zaniness factor to such a degree that even Charles Nelson Reilly would have told him to tone it down a little. He also wallows in a Canadian candy treat that looks a lot like Reese’s Pieces. Just sayin’.

SANTA AND THE ICE CREAM BUNNY (1972) – Ever want to see Santa Claus sweating so much that his red pants cling to his butt tightly enough for his crack and each buttock to stand out wide and proud? THIS is the movie for you! (And please stay away from children.) Santa’s sleigh crash-lands in Continue reading

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BEST OF 2020: APRIL

Balladeer’s Blog’s end of year retrospective continues with this look at April’s best:

mars menMARS MEN (1976) MOVIE REVIEW – My review of the Thailand/ Japan/ Taiwan monster movie mashup. Click HERE.

THE HISTORY OF AN EXTINCT PLANET (1884): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION – Plenty of brilliant concepts in this neglected sci-fi gem. Click HERE.

THE GUARDIAN’S MELANIE PHILLIPS: WHY I LEFT THE LEFT – She speaks for so many of us. Click HERE

STALKER (1976-1976): SWORD AND SORCERY SERIES – For this look at a combination Witcher, Conan and Game of Thrones click HERE.

THE INVISIBLE MAN (1984) – Forgotten British television adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic. Click HERE.

GeorgesGEORGES (1843): Alexandre Dumas’ novel about a swashbuckling swordsman fighting slavery. Click HERE.

DAYBREAK (1896): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION – The moon hits the Earth, plus Mars’ equivalent of Jesus? Click HERE.

APRIL FOOL’S DAY WITH THE FOOL KILLER – A quick guide to the original Fool Killer Letters of the 1800s and beyond. Click HERE.

ToomorrowTOOMORROW (1970) – My movie review of Olivia Newton John’s deep dark secret. Click HERE.

TRUMP’S PAYROLL PROTECTION PROGRAM FURTHERS HIS FDR IMAGE – As I’ve said before, de facto Third Party President Donald Trump has been the best president of my lifetime when it comes to his aid for the working class and the poor. Click HERE.

A PLUNGE INTO SPACE (1890): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION – A Steampunk journey to Mars. Click HERE.

TOP MOVIES OF SHINYA TSUKAMOTO – Balladeer’s Blog looks at the director’s best HERE.

rivals of sherlockDOCTOR THORNDYKE – A rival of Sherlock Holmes in a great mystery adapted for television. Click HERE.

THE AMERICAN GIRLS (1978): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION – Female reporters as the new Charlie’s Angels? Click HERE. Continue reading

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I MET FATHER CHRISTMAS (1984)

J'ai RencontreI MET FATHER CHRISTMAS aka J’AI RENCONTRE LE PERE NOEL (1984) – Not to be  confused with I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen, I Met Father Christmas is a 1984 children’s holiday film from France. This little honey is directed by Christian Gion, known mostly for his sub-Police Academy level comedies. I Met Father Christmas is partially enjoyable as a Yuletide kiddy flick but most of its entertainment value comes from the filmmaker’s ineptitude and their inclusion of some very questionable story elements.

Karen Cheryl and SantaSimon (Emeric Chapuis), who lives with his grandmother, is a withdrawn little boy often bullied by his peers, like the protagonists of so many other children’s tales. What makes him UNLIKE the protagonists of so many other children’s tales is the reason for his melancholy nature – his parents were seized by African terrorists and the French government has refused to meet the conditions set by the warlord for releasing them alive.

No, I’m not joking. (And no, this isn’t an origin story for young John McClane.) The poor kid is in emotional limbo, not knowing if his parents are dead or alive or if he’ll ever see them again. Even his letter to Santa says he doesn’t want toys, he just wants his parents back home safely. (Insert your own “You’ll put your eye out, kid” joke here.) Continue reading

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TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT 3D POSTER (1987)

FILMVreducedRegular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are familiar with my fondness for Movie Host shows of the past and my EXCLUSIVE interview with Randy Clower of the mid-1980s program The Texas 27 Film Vault has proven to be a very popular item on this blog.

Randy and his cohost Richard Malmos, playing machine gun- packing Film Vault Technicians First Class, would show and mock bad and campy films from decades ago and were a huge hit when they were on the air. I feel they get neglected in this age of renewed interest in older Movie Host programs. 

The poster also sports features from some of the most popular bad movies Randy and Richard dissected on the program – features like flying brains from the movie Fiend Without A Face, a prop from the Bela Lugosi bomb Devil Bat, Hitler’s disembodied head from the enjoyably awful movie They Saved Hitler’s Brain, an invader from Earth vs the Flying Saucers and much more! Put on your 3D glasses and you can spot all of the hidden items including elements from Gorilla at Large, Just Imagine,  Frontier Marshal, the 1961 film The Mask and other T27FV fan favorites. Continue reading

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SIX-HUNDRED & SIXTY SIX (1972) MOVIE REVIEW

666 2SIX-HUNDRED & SIXTY SIX (1972) – Directed by Tom Doades and written by Marshall Riggan, this film is a very unusual blend of science fiction, horror, post-apocalypse drama and religious message. Cult actor Joe Turkel, perhaps best known as the ghostly Lloyd the Bartender in The Shining, stars as Colonel John Ferguson. 

Before I go further I want to point out once again how films can serve as indicators of what was or was not prominent in the public consciousness during the time of their release. This particular movie came out in 1972, meaning that the use of gematria to arrive at 666 as the Number of the Beast was not yet as firmly lodged in the minds of movie-goers as it would be after The Omen became a sensation a few years later.

666 3Obviously, a post-Omen film would not blow their story’s final reveal in the title, like we get with Six-Hundred & Sixty Six.

As our story begins, Colonel John Ferguson is reporting to a man called Tallman (Byron Clark) for his new position as Head of Operations at an underground installation in the American west. Conversation between the Colonel and Tallman, the highest civilian authority at the base, provides plenty of exposition.

It is an undisclosed time in the near future. The United States of America and “the United States of Europe” have been joined into one big political entity known as the New Roman Empire. In fact, Colonel Ferguson and his men refer to “Rome” as the nation they serve. Continue reading

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LEO FONG: HIS BEST B-MOVIES

Leo FongThanksgiving week rolls along here at Balladeer’s Blog with this look at some of the most enjoyable – on whatever level – B-movies from the one and only Leo Fong! Leo’s been called a poor man’s Bolo Yeung cross-bred with an even poorer man’s Joe Don Baker … but I was drunk when I called him that, so make of it what you will.

All lovers of Psychotronic filmmaking worship at the altar of Fong and his many action flicks from the 1970s through today are still watchable in a very odd way and will always leave viewers smiling. We may snark away at the abundance of errors and absurdities in Leo’s movies but there’s no denying that a Leo Fong film has more heart and sincerity in it than any corporate blockbuster has in decades. 

Murder in the orientMURDER IN THE ORIENT (1974) – Leo Fong IS Lao Tsu, but not THAT one, in this lethargic treasure quest/ revenge story. Leo (He’s ALWAYS Leo to me no matter what his character is named) learns his sister has been killed by the Golden Cobra crime gang. That gang is after a pair of samurai swords on which Imperial Japanese war criminals serving in World War Two engraved a split map leading to a fortune in stolen gold.  

Leo’s sister was collateral damage in that quest, and her death brings down on the Golden Cobras’ heads the stone-faced revenge of our man Fong and his late sister’s equally deadly boyfriend, Paul Martelli (THE Ron Marchini). All the performers seem like reluctant draftees rounded up and forced to “act” at gunpoint. Even the action sequences reek of half-heartedness in this odd little honey. Continue reading

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FRIDAY THE 13th PART 3D (1982): ON THE TEXAS TWENTY-SEVEN FILM VAULT

Friday the 13th Part 3DBefore MST3K there was … The Texas 27 Film Vault! In the middle 1980s, way down on Level 31 Randy Clower and Richard Malmos, machine-gun toting Film Vault Technicians First Class hosted this neglected cult show. 

ORIGINAL BROADCAST DATE: Saturday February 14th, 1987 from 10:30pm to 1:00am. 

SERIAL: None. The movie, Film Vault Corps comedy sketches and commercials filled up the entire two and a half hours this time.

FILM VAULT LORE: This episode marked the second time The Texas 27 Film Vault came with a warning about violent content. It was also at least the second time they riffed on a movie that was originally in 3-D. Randy and Richard did various jokes about wearing 3-D glasses and 3-D effects coming out of the screen at them as they watched the movie.

Randy and Richard firing their machine guns at giant rats, cellumites and other subterranean creatures.

Randy and Richard firing their machine guns on the T27FV 3D poster.

When you throw in the previous year’s “Mock 3D” interview with Ben Johnson and the 1987 release of The Texas 27 Film Vault‘s official 3-D poster you could say Randy, Richard, Ken “Tex” Miller, Joe Riley and Laurie Savino had a definite fondness for taking shots at the whole 3-D concept.  

 FOR A LOOK AT THE 3-D TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT POSTER (courtesy of Randy Clower) –https://glitternight.com/2013/03/18/movie-hosts-the-texas-27-film-vault-poster/  

THE MOVIE: Friday the 13th Part 3-D was the most notoriously lame sequel in the Friday the 13th film series during the 1980s. Not only was it part of the laughable 1980s attempt to revive the 3-D craze of the 1950s but it’s also infamous for its DISCO VERSION of the iconic Friday the 13th theme. However it’s essential viewing for horror fans because it was the first time Jason Voorhees put on the hockey mask that is so closely associated with the character.    Continue reading

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