Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog know how much I love bad and weird movies. Here are three out of the way films that are not good by any stretch of the imagination but which have a certain something that makes them bizarrely watchable.
DARKER THAN AMBER (1970) – Rod Taylor IS, for some reason, an Australian version of John D MacDonald’s detective Travis McGee. William “Big Bill” Smith plays the outrageously bleached-blonde villain Terry Bartlett and Theodore Bikel portrays McGee’s friend and idea man Meyer. McGee saves a woman (Suzy Kendall) from being forcibly drowned by her criminal associates only to see her get bumped off by them anyway.
Taylor’s odd “Crocodile” McGee runs a con to bring down the dead woman’s murderers. The novel’s Alabama Tiger, a millionaire who runs a non-stop party on his houseboat, became the Alabama Tigress in this movie and is played by THE Jane Russell. Robert Clouse of Enter the Dragon fame directed, with the highlight of this cult film being the supposedly real fight (in parts) between William Smith and Rod Taylor. Most video versions edit out much of this awkward battle but the unedited brawl can be viewed on YT. Continue reading
I WOKE UP EARLY THE DAY I DIED (1998) – Directed by Aris Iliopulos, this is the film that was made based on that notorious unproduced script written by THE Ed Wood, the master of badfilm behind Glen or Glenda, Plan 9 From Outer Space and more.
The identity of the screenwriter is the main draw for this cultiest of cult movies. A secondary draw is the way even the smallest roles are performed by famous, infamous or fashionably esoteric figures. Think of I Woke Up Early The Day I Died as an arthouse companion to 1994’s Ed Wood from Tim Burton.
There’s no dialogue, Easter Eggs regarding Wood’s various Golden Turkeys abound and excerpts from the actual screenplay appear on screen at times in case viewers are skeptical that the weirdness they’re witnessing really was in the original script.
Billy Zane is in the lead role as a violent mental patient who overpowers his nurse, dresses in her uniform and escapes from confinement. He pulls off an armed robbery but has the proceeds stolen from him in turn at a bizarre funeral held by a deranged cult. Zane then commits multiple murders as he works his way through the list of people who may have the money from his heist. Continue reading
LATITUDE ZERO (1969) – Just as absence makes the heart grow fonder, the unavailability of certain movies over extended periods lends them a certain mystique that they can’t possibly live up to when they are finally released once again to the public. Recently Balladeer’s Blog dealt with this while reviewing the long locked-away movie Toomorrow, starring a young Olivia Newton John. Now it’s Latitude Zero‘s turn.
This Toho Studios movie is noted for being the final collaboration among Director Ishiro Honda, Special Effects Artist Eiji Tsubaraya and Musical Conductor Akira Ifukube. A few decades back Latitude Zero was locked away in the Toho vaults and was unavailable on home video, leaving all of us fans of cult movies panting for the day when it would be re-released.
Unfortunately, it’s neither the “science fiction classic” nor the “so bad it’s good masterpiece” that it was hyped as during its period in video exile. A bathysphere containing two scientists and a newsman is rescued from destruction by a futuristic submarine and taken to an underwater utopia. Japan misleadingly marketed the movie as if it was a sequel to Atragon, oddly enough.
The usual Raymond Burr Syndrome applies as we get American actors sprinkled in with the Japanese performers. Continue reading
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY FROM BALLADEER’S BLOG! Over the years my review of the 2011 horror film Father’s Day has been the most controversial. Reader reaction has been split between requests that I run the review every single Father’s Day and requests that I never run it again. Continue reading
September 27th-29th in Alpharetta, Georgia it’s the 6th edition of Monsterama. Guests will include cult figures Jane Merrow, Trina Parks, Jackie Joseph, Pauline Peart, Katie Carpenter, Ian Ogilvey and Mark Maddox.
Representatives from film, literature, television, gaming, comic books and the arts will be there.
There will be exhibits, autograph signings and contests being judged once again by figures from the Stan Winston School of Character Arts. And among the films being screened are the 1929 version of Mysterious Island plus Revenge of the Creature.
FOR MORE DETAILS Continue reading
Recently I’ve gotten several requests to review Suburban Sasquatch, written and directed by Dave Wascavage. I’ve watched some of Wascavage’s flicks in response to those requests and I began to suspect that he is one of the faux-badfilm figures out there.
I like films which are bad UN-intentionally. Suburban Sasquatch further convinced me that Wascavage and his team set out to artificially harness the kind of Midnight Movie notoriety that The Room had organically earned the previous year. The documentary on The Making of Suburban Sasquatch sealed it for me.
In that documentary Wascavage spouts what sound to me like intentionally absurd profundities about the obviously awful movie, and I get a vibe from his behavior that he’s just furthering the illusion that he was trying to make a serious film. Fakeness oozes from the screen, especially when the female costume designer straight-facedly talks about her excitement in working on “a Dave Wascavage film.”
So I won’t be reviewing any of the man’s movies. I’m not trying to dissuade other people from watching his low-budget efforts, though. By all means check them out if you’re so inclined, but I get no enjoyment out of being played like this. I like straight-up parodies of bad movies or failed film efforts which are truly bad but I can’t even force myself to sit through quasi-Andy Kaufman style put-ons.
I’m not saying any of this in anger, it’s just my usual “Give me Troma or give me Ed Wood” philosophy.