Tag Archives: Bad Movies


amphibian manAMPHIBIAN MAN (1962) – This “mad scientist creates a man capable of living underwater” movie was made in the Soviet Union but frequently appeared in dubbed English on American television decades ago.

While not classically bad, Amphibian Man features plenty of those comfortable B-movie elements that prove schlock is fun to laugh at no matter the country of origin.   

ichtyandr and knifeMany online reviewers accuse the makers of The Shape of Water of ripping off this 1962 movie that is based on a 1928 novel. Arguments can be made for that, but it’s important to remember that all sci-fi stories draw from the same general inheritance of tropes.

Amphibian Man itself bears similarities to the 1908 French novel The Man Who Could Live Underwater, in which a mad scientist creates a man-shark which he calls the Ichtaner. Coincidentally enough, in Amphibian Man the man-shark is named Ichtyandr, so this movie is not immune to rip-off accusations of its own. Plus, in both stories, the experimental man-shark is intended as merely the first of many.

This film’s characters:

no helmet onICHTYANDR SALVATOR (Vladimir Korenev) – A young Argentinean man whose scientist father prevented him from dying of a lung disease in childhood by grafting shark gills on to his body. Ichtyandr has been raised and educated in isolation and his father even designed a comical looking underwater suit for our hero to wear, complete with a shark fin. Continue reading


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cassandra crossingTHE CASSANDRA CROSSING (1976) – The Andromeda Strain meets the later Supertrain in this railroad version of the Airport movies. I’m sure we all know the formula of Disaster Movies, be they about natural disasters striking cities or manmade disasters striking mass transportation like airplanes, ships and trains.   

The Cassandra Crossing was a co-production of Carlo Ponti and Lew Grade. The film had a lot of potential but was ultimately doomed by oddball acting choices, a script full of holes and a train that clearly changes multiple times during the course of the movie. And I mean it even changes from electric to diesel multiple times as the film progresses.

cassandra crossing posterIn general, the storyline involves a genetically engineered plague covertly developed by government functionaries (think of Anthony Fauci and his ilk) despite international agreements not to conduct such research. Terrorists who want to steal the plague for their own use botch a raid on the International Health Organization (a pastiche of the World Health Organization), which results in a shootout and in two of the terrorists being exposed to the plague.

One of the exposed gunmen escapes and seeks shelter on a departing train, spreading the plague – for which there is no known cure – to the other passengers, instigating a crisis. If the infected aren’t contained, this plague could wipe out 60% of the population of Europe and eventually, the world. The government locks down all the people on the train and proceeds to care more about covering up where the disease originated than they do about public safety.  Continue reading


Filed under Bad and weird movies


the terrornautsTHE TERRORNAUTS (1967) – Simon Oates of Doomwatch fame stars as yet another maverick scientist in this effort from earlier in his career. Oates is running a British version of the SETI project and is forever trying to intercept signals from space … signals that might indicate intelligent life forms.

Conveniently, just when their funding is about to be cut Oates and his team at last receive a broadcast from actual alien life forms. And not just any alien life forms but the exact race that use a cave in France excavated by Oates’ father as a teleportation point from their orbiting space station.

terrornautsWild coincidences like that are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of this ridiculous movie’s plot holes, inconsistencies and lack of logic.

At any rate when Oates and company broadcast a reply of their own the extraterrestrials fly to England and snatch the entire building that the scientists’ project is housed in. The Earthlings, including a cockney female janitor along for excruciatingly bad comic relief, find themselves at the mercy of the space station’s Doctor Who (original series) level special effects renditions of androids, monsters and interstellar cooking devices. Continue reading


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santo vs the riders of terrorSANTO VERSUS THE RIDERS OF TERROR (1970) – Called Santo Contra Los Jinetes del Terror in its native Mexico, this is one of my all-time favorite hidden gems among the wacked-out movies about the Mexican wrestler called El Santo.

(Many movies about Santo and other Mexican wrestlers were shown on “the Mexican MST3K” show – A Platicar a Su Casa, reviewed HERE.)    

El Santo – often called “Samson” in English-dubbed versions of his flicks – has battled Martians, vampire women, vampire men, witches, mummies, wax figures come to life and dozens of other monstrosities. This particular flick stands out to me because of its joyously tasteless brand of “monsters” – a horseback riding outlaw gang of lepers.

Yes, LEPERS! In a move even Tod Slaughter might have deemed too crass and exploitative a group of bandits deformed by leprosy are at large and pulling off a series of robberies. Continue reading


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hitler dead or aliveHITLER – DEAD OR ALIVE (1942) – You’ve heard of grindhouse movies? Well, you could consider this a GRINDE-HOUSE movie, because it was directed by Nick Grinde and produced by Charles House.

While we all try to ignore how lame that joke is, I’ll point out that Hitler – Dead or Alive was first released in November of 1942. As the title and date of release would suggest, it was a rah-rah wartime rally movie/ propaganda film about a handful of people trying to collect a million-dollar reward for the Fuhrer – dead or alive.

A few years back, Balladeer’s Blog reviewed The Girl in the Kremlin, a 1957 flick about Stalin faking his death and being hunted down. Given the massive body counts of both Adolf and Joseph, it should be no surprise that this Hitler movie is just as mind-numbingly, cosmically tasteless as the Stalin piece. It’s not just So Bad It’s Good, it’s So SURREALLY Bad It’s Good. 

hitler dead or alive lobbyHitler – Dead or Alive starts out with a pair of stereotypical hungry reporters who bluff their way into a face-to-face meeting with eccentric, unorthodox, Howard Hughesesque tycoon Samuel Thornton. Thornton has just donated a million dollars worth of fighter planes to the war effort, and the snooping reporters ask if there’s any connection to the million-dollar reward he offered for Hitler a few months earlier. Continue reading


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Regular readers may remember I love So Bad They’re Good movies here at Balladeer’s Blog. Here are my favorites from the legendary H.G. Lewis. WARNING: Extreme concepts, despite the inept presentation. 

two thousand maniacsTWO THOUSAND MANIACS (1964) – For people who’ve never heard of Herschell Gordon Lewis, I’ll point out that he’s known as “the Godfather of Gore.” And not even GOOD gore, but the obviously fake kind that makes you laugh. Add to that the inept acting, bland dialogue and quickie production techniques like you’d get in old black & white flicks and you’ll understand the man’s Bad Movie magic.

When it comes to horror films – good OR bad – I’ve always preferred those with supernatural menaces to those with mere crazed human beings doing ugly deeds. It helps if the premise has clever lore baked in, and Two Thousand Maniacs definitely has that, no matter how rushed and poorly made it is.

Mascot and guitar

Balladeer’s Blog

One hundred years earlier, during America’s Civil War, the fictional Deep South town of Pleasant Valley (population two thousand) was utterly wiped out by renegade Union troops who destroyed every building and massacred every man, woman and child. Once every hundred years now, Pleasant Valley and its undead inhabitants will rematerialize for a few days, lure passing Northerners into it, and slaughter them as revenge for the ghost town’s destruction. Continue reading


Filed under Bad and weird movies, Halloween Season


gentleman jekyll and driver hydeGENTLEMAN JEKYLL AND DRIVER HYDE (1950) – Educational short films are often hilarious snapshots of their era. Driver’s Ed shorts are especially vulnerable to seeming outdated given how quickly car designs can change in certain decades.

This particular item is Canadian-made, proving that the Badfilm aesthetic is unfazed by international borders. (Yet Time Zones fill it with a vague sense of unease. Go figure.)

At any rate, Gentleman Jekyll and Driver Hyde obviously takes its cue from Stevenson’s story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. A pair of Canadian furniture movers – one tall and heavy, the other short and slender – bicker like a comedy team while discussing statistics which indicated that in 1950 a Canadian had a better chance of getting killed in a car accident than in a war.

Which I find to be a silly statistic. If it’s peacetime you probably have a better chance of dying from a piano dropping on your head than from a war. Wouldn’t it have been more ominous to say a person had a better chance of dying in a car accident than from heart disease or whatever physical ailment that a 1950 stat would indicate?

After some horrifically strained jokes “Laurel and Hardy, Eh” get to the meat of the matter: The way perfectly polite people can turn into figurative monsters when they get behind the wheel of a car. A kind, considerate man who just interacted with our two leads literally turns into a B-Movie monster thanks to editing and cheap makeup as he drives off.      Continue reading


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just a damned soldierJUST A DAMNED SOLDIER aka One Damned Soldier (1988) – Balladeer’s Blog concludes its look at all ten films of Italian cult action icon Mark Gregory, real name Marco De Gregorio. I know IMDb states that he also appeared in the made for tv movie Rainbow, but I watched that film and he’s not in it. The error seems to have been made by someone who saw the name MARY Gregory in the closing credits and, because the font for the credits is a bit stylish, mistook the y in Mary for a k.

Previously, I reviewed Mr. Gregory’s post-apocalypse movies 1990: The Bronx Warriors and Escape from the Bronx, plus his Thunder Warrior trilogy of Rambo imitations, his quasi-peplum Adam and Eve vs the Cannibals, and his pair of outings as an action villain in Delta Force Commando and Ten Zan: The Ultimate Mission.

mark in his j hatI’ll wrap up everything by examining Mark’s final two films before he walked away from the business at age 25 in 1989, with no explanation and after having just made his highest amount of money from a movie role.

The public fascination with Mark Gregory continues due to the mystery of his following years and the sometimes contradictory information about his life. Supposedly he raised horses for a time, then became a street artist in Rome, possibly spent all his film earnings or was conned out of them, and died in 2013 from an overdose. Some sources say it was a suicide, others an accidental overdose.

mark with dead meatJust a Damned Soldier features Mark in an ensemble cast as one member of a trio of badass international mercenaries who take on any dangerous, high-paying job that comes along. Our hero, whose character is also named Mark, serves alongside Cisco (Romano Kristoff) and their boss Bert Ernst (Peter Hooten).

Those three, plus their fourth, soon-to-die comrade that I’ll call Dead Meat for a Hot Shots joke, kick off the movie in style with a guns-blazing raid on an industrial compound in Cambodia. The quartet shoots and explodes their way to victory, overcoming dozens of armed soldiers in scenes that live up to the standard joke about 1980s action flicks – “Page One of the script says ‘The good guys open fire’ and Page Two says ‘The End.'”

Mark and his colleagues look typically badass while killing bad guys, stealing tons of gold from the facility, then escaping to a nearby hideout to have the booty flown out of the country. After high fives and similar gestures all around, our main characters escape in a ground vehicle. Continue reading


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delta force commando mark in foregroundDELTA FORCE COMMANDO (1987) – Balladeer’s Blog’s salute to cult icon Mark Gregory continues, with two movies that proved he could be just as dynamic as the villain as he was playing the hero, like in his other action flicks. Previously, I’ve reviewed Mark’s two movies in which he played the post-apocalypse/ dystopian biker Trash in 1990: The Bronx Warriors and Escape from the Bronx, plus his Thunder Warrior trilogy of Rambo knockoffs, and even his quasi-peplum Adam and Eve vs the Cannibals in which, as Adam, he fought dinosaurs, cavemen and green-skinned cannibals.

mark g picBecause Italian filmmakers were always Enzo-on-the-spot with cash-in imitations of mainstream movie hits, it was inevitable that they would produce flicks coat-tailing on the popularity of Delta Force. Mark Gregory’s screen presence in Delta Force Commando reminded me of what a shame it is that he walked away from his acting career in 1989, just when he was at the peak of his game and his earnings. If only he’d signed up with Cannon films then.

I’ve long felt that if Mark had held on into the 90s, he might have turned up as either heroes or villains in movies made by Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez, and, in the 21st Century, as a player in one of the Expendables movies. Again, as either a good guy or a bad guy.

mark gregory in dfcHell, in Delta Force Commando, Mr. Gregory spices up the schlock as the main villain, even though his character is never even given a name! Hey, that’s Italian exploitation cinema for ya!

Villain X, as I’ll call Mark’s character (at right), has a much shorter haircut than usual and dresses like a Miami Vice or Scarface ’83 gangster in his first several scenes.

Villain X, who has scarring on the lower left side of his face, speaking of the Pacino movie, leads a covert mark aiming weaponteam of communist commandos from Nicaragua in a daring raid on a military base in Puerto Rico. Villain X and his team succeed in making off with a nuclear bomb despite a few firefights, one of which kills the pregnant wife of Delta Force member Lieutenant Tony Turner (Brett Baxter Clark). Continue reading


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Happy Anniversary to The Texas Twenty-Seven Film Vault, one of the pre-MST3K Movie Host shows. Yes it was Saturday night February 9th, 1985 that this program debuted in Dallas, Texas, in the same studio that would later be used for Joe Bob’s Drive-In. Here is an encore presentation of my EXCLUSIVE 2011 interview with Randy Clower, one of The Texas Twenty-Seven Film Vault‘s co-creators and co-hosts. 

Clower (right) with co-host Richard Malmos as “Film Vault Technicians First Class” on The Texas 27 Film Vault

Before MST3K there was THE TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT! Before Joel and Mike lovers of bad movies had Randy and Richard! Before Pearl there was Laurie Savino! Before Devil Dogs, Observers and Deep 13 there came Cellumites, giant rats and Level 31.

In the mid 1980s The Texas 27 Film Vault was the show to watch on Saturday nights 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.     Continue reading


Filed under Bad and weird movies, Forgotten Television, Movie Hosts