After a terrific Fat Tuesday it’s time for Ash Wednesday … as in Empire of Ash, the awful series of post-apocalypse movies. From Canada! Brave the Canuckalypse with me!
EMPIRE OF ASH (1988) – Also released as Maniac Warriors, this post-apocalypse movie is, as you would expect, another of the 1980s’ countless imitators of The Road Warrior. In Empire of Ash our year is 2050 and our main location is an American settlement called New Idaho, with Canadian forests passing for the post-holocaust world. All cities have become uninhabitable so survivalists scrape by in woodland communities.
The plague that destroyed civilization is a blood disease and it continues to be one of the biggest threats, along with the usual mutants and rampaging, gun-wielding gangs. There are some scattered scientists trying to come up with a cure for the blood disease but there are also evil sufferers of the disease who prey upon the unafflicted by consuming their blood and bone marrow to survive a little bit longer.
The disease-ridden have been organized into a bizarre religion and they consider the plague to be God’s vengeance, just like AIDS was being called by assorted zealots at this point in the 80s. The religion and government are run by a preacher called the Great Shepherd (Frank Wilson). Before draining the blood and marrow of “pure-bloods” they baptize them as human sacrifices. Continue reading
GIZMO! (1977) – Though the exclamation point in the title makes this seem like it might be a stage musical, Gizmo! is actually an entertaining documentary about some of the oddest inventions you could possibly imagine. Some never made it anywhere close to actually working, while others worked but proved so hopelessly impractical that you’ll howl with laughter at the wasted effort.
You’ll see failed aircraft and land vehicles as well as in-home contraptions powered by moving animals like the joke appliances on The Flintstones. Continue reading
Steven Spielberg’s sister Anne got her start as a producer for many of the cheapjack science fiction films of Robert Emenegger and Allan Sandler. She had worked with them – and Cameron Mitchell – as far back as 1975’s Death: The Ultimate Mystery. 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 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
MYSTERIOUS 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.
As 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
Regular 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.
THE 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
Regular 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
SIX-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.
Obviously, 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
Thanksgiving 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 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
Halloween month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog! In previous years I’ve run my list of The Top Eleven Neglected Bad Movie Classics for Halloween and even a followup list of eleven more. Right now here’s a look at three more classically bad horror flicks for the season.
BLOOD SONG (1982) – Singer Frankie Avalon as a 1980s- style slasher villain! The godfather’s Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana) as a co-star and co-producer! Who could possibly resist that? Frankie plays a homicidal maniac who escapes from an insane asylum with his beloved flute/recorder type thingee.
Turns out years earlier a girl played by Donna Wilkes – soon to star as Angel herself – got a blood transfusion from Psycho Frankie. In this movie’s logic-free universe that means that she has a mental link with our mad slasher. This link is causing him to track her down to kill her with the single-minded fury that Mike Myers showed toward Jaime Lee Curtis in the Halloween movies. Continue reading
In the middle 1980s/ Way down on Level 31 –
Randy Clower and Richard Malmos of The Texas 27 Film Vault (both lower right) featured in a Movie Host article with Stella from Saturday Night Dead and Elvira.
Before MST3K there was … The Texas 27 Film Vault!
Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of this neglected cult show from the mid-1980s.
EPISODE ORIGINALLY BROADCAST: Saturday May ??, 1987 from 10:30pm to 1:00 am. Exact date is still being debated. Any Vaulties with further information please feel free to contact me.
EXTRAS: Every single nanosecond of this film is riff-worthy, so with the usual comedy sketches from the Film Vault Corps (“the few, the proud, the sarcastic”) added on plus commercials there was no time for an episode of a Republic or Columbia serial before the movie this time. Randy and Richard, our machine-gun toting Film Vault Technicians First Class were able to get to the movie quickly. Continue reading