THE SATAN KILLER (1993) – August of 1993 saw the release of this cop-on-the-edge movie crossed with a “Satanic serial killer at large” exploitation flick. Steve Sayre directed under the alias Stephen Calamari and starred as Police Detective James Stephen (not StephenS … Stephen. As in Stephen Calamari.)
Before I dive into this review let me say that I am now obsessed with finding information about Lost At Sea, a 1995 film Sayre made with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban as the villain. If Lost At Sea is as deliriously deranged as The Satan Killer it will be another gift from the Bad Movie Gods.
Getting back to the topic of this review, this low budget film shot mostly in Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach, VA deserves its own Disaster Artist-style book and movie devoted to its making. The seven current IMDb reviews feature a few people who claim to have been part of this production and it sounds like the kind of wild, guerilla, quasi-shady venture that was much more interesting than anything that made it on film. A Virginia newspaper was supposedly even investigating Steve Sayre and his brother at one point to see if a movie really was being made, at least according to one of those reviews.
Let’s take a look at our leading characters:
DETECTIVE JAMES STEPHEN (Steve Sayre) – James’ fiancee Christie (Cindy Healy) is abducted, tortured and murdered in a ritualistic way by a Norfolk area serial killer dubbed the Satan Slayer (not killer) by the local media. James has been working the case and media scavengers make a sideshow of his grief. Our hero copes by drinking heavily and slipping into the yellow shirt that he apparently plans to wear every day for the rest of his life.
I’m serious, by the way. The movie takes place over the span of a few weeks but the detective wears the same yellow shirt the entire rest of the film with the exception of a few flashback scenes featuring happier times with his fiancee. To show that our hero is apparently going without sleep and without shaving, what looks like shoe polish is applied to his face to pass for beard stubble and dark circles under his eyes. Comically enough, after awhile our hero starts looking like he’s made up to look like a raccoon. Continue reading
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”)
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!)
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.
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
DREAM 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
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