Category Archives: Bad and weird movies

THE RATINGS GAME (1984): FILM REVIEW

Ratings GameTHE RATINGS GAME (1984) – Danny DeVito directed and starred in this telefilm – now being re-released under the vague-to-the-point-of-meaningless title The Mogul, which was produced by Showtime back when they and HBO Films were emerging as a genuine creative force in original content.

That era saw HBO Films churn out many made-for-cable movies that reflected studio-level production values and often adapted fictional and non-fictional properties that neither networks nor Hollywood felt like tackling at the time.

Telefilms like And The Band Played On, Barbarians at the Gate, Gotti, Kissinger and Nixon plus many, many others received critical acclaim AND proved commercially successful when released on video or in syndication to – ironically – network television.  

Ratings Game bThe Ratings Game – written by Jim Mulholland and Michael Barrie – was a perfectly respectable satire on the network television ratings system but it has become unjustly forgotten. The change of title for its latest release seems like a desperate attempt to change the telefilm’s fortunes. 

Personally I really like The Ratings Game. It definitely qualifies as one for my list of Aristophanes Now productions, in this case because it captures the feel of the Parathespian Comedies from Attic Old Comedy. (But let’s face it, it would probably have been written by Strattis instead of Aristophanes.)

Part of the reason for this telefilm’s obscurity may be the way it satirized the flaws in the network ratings system. This flick was released when Nielsen and similar ratings outfits still often used a mere 1,100-1,200 participating homes to extrapolate the ratings numbers on which television programs lived or died.    Continue reading

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APRIL FOOL’S DAY/ SLAUGHTER HIGH (1986)

Slaughter HighSLAUGHTER HIGH/ APRIL FOOL’S DAY (1986) – This is the low-budget horror film made in England and set on April Fool’s Day. There are still VHS tapes and YouTube videos that show the original title, but the title was changed to Slaughter High because of the year’s OTHER April Fool’s Day slasher film with a gimmick ending.

Slaughter High starts off showing us April Fool’s Day of 1976, when a group of “teenagers” including 30-something Caroline Munro go to bizarre lengths to degrade and victimize their nerdy classmate Marty. These “kids” aren’t so much bullies as they are psychopaths, actually.

Slaughter High bAfter an April Fool’s Day “prank” involving nudity, electric shocks and near drowning, Marty is still alive through no fault of his classmates. The supposed popular kids get punished for their criminal assault on Marty, and perversely blame him for it! It’s that kind of movie. Hell, Marty’s tormentors were caught in the act, it’s not even like he peached on them (since this was made in England I couldn’t resist writing “peached on them”).

The psychotic teens-in-their -thirties decide Marty deserves some payback for the way they got in trouble for nearly killing him earlier, so they stage a new “prank” involving tampered-with marijuana, dangerous chemicals … and acid. C’mon, you kidders! Stop giving Marty the business! Just cut off one of his limbs or something and call it a day, ya jokesters! Continue reading

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THE CRYBABY KILLER (1958) – TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT

Cry Baby Killer

In the middle 1980s/ Way down on Level 31 …

Before MST3K there was … The Texas 27 Film Vault!

EPISODE ORIGINALLY BROADCAST: Saturday June 15th, 1985 from 10:30pm to 1:00am.

SERIAL: Before showing and mocking The Crybaby Killer our members of the Film Vault Corps (“the few, the proud, the sarcastic”) showed and mocked an episode of the Mascot Serial The Phantom Empire (1935). 

Phantom EmpireIn that classically campy serial Gene Autry played a singing cowboy who saves the world from an advanced underground civilization that comes complete with killer robots who wear cowboy hats.

FILM VAULT LORE: The movie ticket give-away this week was for Prizzi’s Honor.

THE MOVIE: Continue reading

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THE GIRL IN THE KREMLIN (1957)

Girl in the Kremlin

THE GIRL IN THE KREMLIN (1957) – The tagline for this Golden Turkey should have been “STALIN’S BACK AND GABOR’S GOT HIM!” The world of Bad Movies is pretty thoroughly littered with hilariously lame films proceeding from the premise that Adolf Hitler survived his supposed death and plotted a Fourth Reich.

The Girl in the Kremlin gives equal time to Hitler’s equally insane but even more murderous contemporary Joseph Stalin.

Zsa Zsa Gabor – yes, Zsa Zsa Gabor – co-stars as TWINS in this movie which features Patty Duke Show regular William Schallert, so you can insert your own “Identical Zsa Zsas” song and joke here. (“They walk alike, they talk alike, they even get their heads shaved alike”)

Bald Zsa Zsa Gabor

And feel free to choose your preferred caption to the photo at right. Either: a) ONE … MILLION … RUBLES or b) Zsa Zsa Gabor IS Mrs Kojak, this fall on the CW! 

Adding to the joyously tasteless atmosphere of this flick is the fact that the guy playing Stalin is named Maurice MANSON! The Marilyn Manson and shock-rocker Hitler “Where Are They Now” Stalin jokes pretty much write themselves.

THE STORY: The Girl in the Kremlin begins in March of 1953, when in real life the subhuman piece of filth Joseph Stalin died. In this movie we see Stalin have a plastic surgeon transform a hapless stooge into a lookalike of the mad Soviet Dictator. (They Saved Stalin’s Face!)

Girl in the Kremlin 2

The lookalike is killed and presented for burial while Stalin – who passed the time during the surgery indulging his famous fetish for watching a woman suffer a forced head-shaving – undergoes plastic surgery of his own to disguise his features. The murderous scumbag then flees Russia with – we are told – HALF THE MONEY IN THE SOVIET TREASURY plus a few aides including Nurse Grisenko, one of the twins portrayed by Zsa Zsa Gabor herself.

Continue reading

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CHANNEL AWESOME SCANDAL: ASK BALLADEER

procrastitara

ProcrastiTara

Sometimes it feels like I’m about the only person on the internet who has not weighed in on the whole Channel Awesome/ Change the Channel controversy from a few years back. More and more of you readers have been asking me how I feel about the whole thing, since videos and articles addressing the situation continue to be released, so here we go.

I don’t know enough about it or about the various side issues. I would say ProcrastiTara has one of the clearest looks at the scandal and the “Not So Awesome” document with its list of complaints and accusations. For her video about this topic click HERE.   

For a shorter and more skeptical take from a different source click HERE. For what it’s worth that second video got a comment from Lindsay Ellis, one of the figures in the story (her remark is still in that video’s comment section). She said Continue reading

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SCORPION THUNDERBOLT (1983)

Scorpion ThunderboltSCORPION THUNDERBOLT – Yes, it’s Scorpion Thunderbolt, the horror movie that has absolutely NOTHING to do with EITHER scorpions OR thunderbolts! They could have titled this thing Terms of Endearment 2 and it wouldn’t have been any less appropriate.

Potential viewers will find various years of release listed for this flick like 1983, 1985 or 1988. That’s because this is another of those bizarre cinematic cut-and-paste jobs that we fans of bad movies just love, like They Saved Hitler’s Brain, Spookies, Pink Angels, Monster A Go-Go and so many others.

The original film was titled Grudge of the Sleepwalking Woman and was a Taiwanese horror movie from 1983. Balladeer’s Blog’s old friend Godfrey Ho, the Schlockmeister General of Hong Kong cinema, bought the original movie. That Dr Frankenstein of the editing room padded the film’s run-time by adding some kung fu fights and one of his usual non sequitur movie quickies starring Richard Harrison, then tried to pass the mess off as all one movie. Same ol’ same ol’ for Godfrey Ho, in other words.   Continue reading

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DREAM NO EVIL (1970)

dream no evilDREAM NO EVIL (1970) – This film, written and directed by schlockmeister John Hayes, made me wonder who I have to sue to make up for not having seen this gloriously bad movie before now. Dream No Evil is often pigeon-holed as a horror film but actually it combines a number of genres, none of which are well-represented. For a glib summary, let’s call it “A David Lynch film if all the David Lynch was drained from it.”

Brooke Mills stars as Grace MacDonald, whose character we viewers first meet in a flashback to when she was a little girl who had been abandoned at an orphanage. The child has recurring dreams about her father coming to take her back but that never happens. Ultimately she is adopted by the Bundy family, consisting of a preacher father who is also a faith healer and his two sons, Patrick and Jessie. Grace becomes part of the clan’s itinerant tent-show revival lifestyle. Continue reading

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THE RUINED BRUIN (1961)

Ruined BruinTHE RUINED BRUIN (1961) – Written and directed by THE John K McCarthy, The Ruined Bruin was another one of those late “nudie cuties” which would make modern audiences yawn and wince … But would no doubt REALLY excite Furries!

In the past Balladeer’s Blog has reviewed the closing years of the Nudie Cutie subgenre as it went through its final convulsions in the form of gimmicks, each one more absurd than the last. I’ve reviewed Nude on the Moon, The Naked Witch, Orgy of the Dead, Doctor Sex and others.

The Ruined Bruin features a bear – really a costumed man (Myron Griffin) – who escapes from the Los Angeles Zoo and, for no apparent reason other than so this movie could be made, tries to romance assorted gorgeous half-nude ladies.

Despite their name the Nudie Cuties never featured full nudity. Toplessness and some butt-shots were all you got, with strategically and/or improbably placed branches, shrubs or rail fences covering pubic regions. Fans of Peter Sellers will remember the classic sendup of those nudie cuties that he worked into one of his Inspector Clouseau films.    Continue reading

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LIFEPOD (1981): MOVIE REVIEW

lifepodLIFEPOD (1981) – Previously Balladeer’s Blog examined the worst movies from the Robert Emenegger/ Allan Sandler collaboration, most of them with Steven Spielberg’s sister Anne … plus half the Cameron Mitchell family. With Lifepod, we return to E-Space (Emenegger Space. Sorry, Doctor Who fans.). This time, however, it’s with an underrated movie that makes you root for it despite its budgetary limitations.  

The year is 2191. The moons of Jupiter have been colonized and are called the Jupiter States. A company nostalgically called the White Star Line has begun providing a spaceship cruise line to and from the Jupiter States. The flagship in this new line is called the Arcturus, with a state-of-the-art propulsion system and a revolutionary AI called a Cerebral running the ship. 

lifepod picAs the Arcturus, on its maiden run, approached Callisto, the Cerebral announced massive system failures and began shutting down life support systems while ordering the crew and passengers to evacuate in lifepods and await rescue from Callisto’s authorities. In their Mayday broadcasts the crew make it clear they no longer trusted Captain Montaine (Christopher Cary), who insisted the Arcturus was fine and the Cerebral was just malfunctioning.

The picture becomes further confused when the Arcturus‘ engines restart and it flies off now that the passengers are gone. Continue reading

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TRUMBO (2015): DEMOCRAT HYPOCRISY IS HILARIOUS

democrat republican or awakeThe political intolerance of the shallow, uninformed and emotionally unstable fascists called Democrats knows no bounds. They unabashedly call for the personal and professional destruction of everyone who thinks differently or votes differently than they do while ignoring the fact that they are practicing their own – even more fanatical – form of McCarthyism. In fact, Democrats are such fascist filth that if someone doesn’t denounce the Democrats’ countless objects of hatred as fanatically as THEY do, they want the person destroyed. “Lack of sufficient zeal” I guess.  

This movie is further proof that American Liberals are the biggest hypocrites in history.

This movie is further proof that Democrats are the biggest hypocrites in history.

TRUMBO (2015) – How about “Are you now or have you ever been a racist or imperialist or Islamophobic or privileged?” Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog know how sick I am of the increasingly meaningless Democrats vs Republicans paradigm. It’s just that right now American Democrats are far more pompous, divisive and hubristic and in need of being cut down to size.

Case in point: the movie Trumbo. Only America’s Democrats could be so lacking in self-awareness that they would – in this age of non-stop harassment of dissenting opinions, of police, of Trump supporters, an age of Cancel Culture, the Political Correctness Police and SJW persecutors – yes, only the monumentally hypocritical trash called Democrats would be so lacking in self-awareness that they would trot out (for the millionth time) the story of Dalton Trumbo and some of the other figures who were black-listed during the Communist Witch Hunt of decades ago.

For the past few decades Left-Wing Archie Bunkers  have been the ones black-listing and inflicting draconian punishments on people who dare to hold different political opinions than they do.

We are still suffering under the “Racist” and “Privilege” and “White Supremacy” Witch Hunts that Democrats continue to pursue with the same sickeningly judgmental attitude and spurious statistics that Joe McCarthy was accused of. How many careers (and therefore lives) have we all seen ruined by the cold, merciless asses of the political left? Often over  simple remarks or organizations the victims belonged to or political contributions they made YEARS earlier. Plus DemoKKKrats accuse people of being racists/ white supremacists as a scare tactic the way accusations of being a Communist were used back then.

Anyone under 30 (maybe even 40) who watches Trumbo needs to focus on the OBVIOUS parallels to the way Democrats hound and persecute dissenters and any behavior they choose to interpret as “racism” or more generally as “hate.” When you watch right-wing zealots obsessively looking for “pernicious communism” and “secret communist messages” in Trumbo’s screenplays make a point of noting the similarities to the way Democrat zealots obsessively look for “white supremacy”, “xenophobia”, “imperialism,” “colonial narratives” and on and on through the entire list of their paranoid fixations.  

Democrats are monumental hypocrites who thrive on censoring dissenting ideas and black-listing people who hold those ideas even though they pretended to disapprove of censorship and black-listing when those tactics were used against them. Continue reading

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