Tag Archives: movie reviews

BALLADEER’S BLOG TURNS TWELVE YEARS OLD TODAY

masc graveyard smallerTHANK YOU once again to all of you readers for making Balladeer’s Blog so enjoyable to write. As I always say the unusual and controversial items I sometimes churn out here mean that readers have to be open-minded and very secure in their own beliefs not to just take offense and leave.

Here are some of my most popular blog posts from the past 12 months.

prime cutPRIME CUT (1972): Gangster movie review HERE.

TEN TELEVISION FLOPS – Ten resoundingly odd tv shows that failed. Click HERE.

EXPLAINING THE TAINTED AND CORRUPT 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION FOR OVERSEAS READERS. Click HERE.

MY REVIEWS OF WILL JORDAN’S RYAN DRAKE ESPIONAGE NOVELS. Click HERE

JOKER: THE 1919 PULP HERO – Click HERE.

MONDO MIKE HAMMER – I review some of the oddest Mike Hammer movies from America and Japan. Click HERE. Continue reading

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THREE MORE HARD TO FIND FILMS

Here is Balladeer’s Blog second look at some of the films I have thus far not been able to find and review. Any help anyone could offer would be appreciated. For the first list of five click HERE.

onceONCE (1973) – Written and directed by Morton Heilig, Once is a 100 minute experimental film with no dialogue, just pantomime performances by the lone three actors. Chris Mitchum of all people portrays Creation, Jim Malinda plays Destruction and Marta Kristen co-stars as Humanity. Some may describe the movie as a Biblical parable but actually it reflects concepts from Zoroastrianism, Iroquois myths and other belief systems in addition to Christianity and Judaism.

The story is set on what is supposed to be a desert island as Creation washes ashore and begins creating increasingly sophisticated life-forms. Destruction attempts to create life of its own but fails, so out of envy and spite it brings destruction on the life brought into being by Creation.  Continue reading

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SEVEN ODD MOVIES FOR NATIONAL VCR DAY

June 7th is National VCR Day! Balladeer’s Blog marks the occasion with some very brief takes on old VHS movies that I’ll probably never find the time to write full-length reviews about.

deadly spawnTHE DEADLY SPAWN (1983) – This film is also known as The Alien’s Deadly Spawn. If you’re into less appreciated splatter flicks this is the movie for you! Diminutive creatures (ignore the poster) from outer space terrorize a neighborhood while literally chewing their way through anything in their way, including human bodies. The gore effects are graphic but not extreme, the acting ranges from awful to average and the creature designs may be cheap but the overall package makes this a cult classic. And watch out for that final stinger! 

TRIUMPH OF THE CHAMPIONS OF JUSTICE (1974) – Another movie in the Campeones Justicieros series from Mexico. Blue Demon, Superzan and the White Phantom are back in action, aided by Elsa Cardenas as Venus. In their usual way, these wrestlers/ pulp heroes/ superheroes are clashing with their foe Black Hand and a group of evil midgets from another planet (or dimension, it’s hard to tell sometimes). And did I mention that for most of the run time the midgets are INVISIBLE while kidnapping Earth women? Lucha Libre the way it was meant to be – hard-hitting, Dutch-angled and barely coherent! Continue reading

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IF FOOTMEN TIRE YOU, WHAT WILL HORSES DO? (1971) – BAD MOVIE

I’ve gotten e-mails asking that I review this movie but I already did in 2010. It’s been on my Bad Movie page here: https://glitternight.com/bad-movies/

If Footmen Tire youIF FOOTMEN TIRE YOU, WHAT WILL HORSES DO? (1971) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following.    

No, it’s not about Quentin Tarantino and pre-Castro Havana nightclubs (Thank you, I’m here all week!) it’s really a Cold War-era warning about what would happen if Communists took over the United States. It’s from Ron Ormond, best known for the bad movie classic Mesa Of Lost Women before he found religion and hooked up with the Reverend Estus W Pirkle for films like this one.

If Footmen Tire you 2Pirkle serves as the narrator of this quirky little mess, ranting on and on in his over-the-top way about how the USA has turned away from the Bible and will suffer the consequences. He’s like a combination of Criswell in Plan 9 From Outer Space and the sermonizing narrator from Blood Freak (qv).

In one of his enjoyably bizarre tangents before he gets to the Soviet conquest of America he also speaks out on the “evils” of dancing, which he calls ”The front door to adultery! What starts on the dance floor is expected to be finished later.” He even says dancing is “as immoral as it has always been”. Continue reading

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5 HARD-TO-FIND FILMS

Here at Balladeer’s Blog I review a lot of very obscure movies. This is a look at some of the films I have thus far not been able to find. Any help anyone could offer would be appreciated.

michel auder cleopatraMICHEL AUDER’S CLEOPATRA (1970) – It’s weirdness squared in this overlooked flick which Michel Auders directed utilizing assorted Andy Warhol menagerie figures in the cast. Auder himself played Caesar, with modern-day Rome as the seat of his empire. Viva portrayed Cleopatra with her domain of Egypt being set in the modern-day state of New York with snowmobiles as horses. Yes, it’s one of THOSE kinds of films.

The cast members improvised their way through the storyline, so I will say again “Yes, it’s one of THOSE kinds of films”. Among the cast were Nico, Ultra Violet, Ondine, Louis Waldon and Taylor Mead. Keep your eyes peeled for the one and only Christopher Walken.      Continue reading

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THE SECRET OF THE MUMMY (1982, 1983) – MOVIE REVIEW

o segredo da mumiaTHE SECRET OF THE MUMMY (1982, 1983) – This Brazilian horror film was released as O Segredo da Mumia in 1982 and with English subtitles as The Secret of the Mummy in 1983. It was directed by the one and only Ivan Cardoso aka Ivan the Terrible to fans.

That nickname was not an insult but was a sincere compliment to the cult horror film director, playing on the real-life Ivan the Terrible and his frightful reputation. Cardoso previously served as an Assistant Director to Brazil’s King of Horror – Coffin Joe himself! (For my look at eight Coffin Joe films click HERE.)

mummy 1982The Secret of the Mummy is a terrific starting point for Ivan’s movies, whether you’re interested in foreign cinema or looking for a change of pace in a mummy flick. It’s also a good introduction to his eccentric style – frequent changes between black & white footage and color footage, riffs on global cinema and periodic insertions of bizarre sex comedy. Continue reading

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THE SECRET OF THE LOCH (1934)

secret of the lochTHE SECRET OF THE LOCH (1934) – So America gave the world King Kong in 1933, eh? Well, the Empire strikes back! Milton Rosmer directed this neglected British film that was co-written by THE Charles Bennett and edited by THE David Lean. The Loch Ness Monster is featured and is found to be responsible for multiple mysterious deaths around the Loch, though only one on-screen instance of the monster devouring a human occurs in the movie.

masc graveyard smallerSeymour Hicks stars as Professor Heggie and seems to think he’s still performing in Silent Movies, given his hilarious overacting. Heggie believes in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster but seems even less credible than modern-day people who claim to have spotted the beastie.

Frederick Peisley costars as London newspaper reporter Jimmy Anderson, who tries to get a story about the Loch Ness Monster. Australia’s Nancy O’Neil portrays Angela Heggie, the professor’s granddaughter with whom Jimmy forges a romance.
Continue reading

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THE CHRISTMAS KID (1967) – AN EASTER WESTERN (?)

Christmas Kid

Jeffrey Hunter as The Christmas Kid

I always think of this bizarrely themed Spaghetti Western as The Gospel According to Sam Colt or Paul’s Letter to Smith & Wesson. Our title gunslinger is played by Jeffrey “Captain Pike on Star Trek” Hunter. As Jesus in the movie King of Kings, Hunter’s youthful appearance brought on ridicule from wags who called the film I Was a Teenage Jesus.  

Once again Jeffrey plays a character who is born in a manger at Christmas and gets visited by three wise (well … no) men. The Christmas Kid‘s half-assed Jesus parallels continue from there in sporadic fashion. The little babe – called Christmas Joe at first – grows up to be a philosophical boy who practices pacifism. 

Christmas Kid 2When our hero’s home hamlet of Jaspen, Arizona becomes a Boom Town after copper is discovered, the place turns into a proverbial web of sin and vale of tears. Michael Culligan (Louis Hayward), the greedy town boss, builds an empire for himself out of crime and greed as the copper rush continues.     

This being a western, the day comes when Christmas Joe must strap on a gun and pin on a badge for a three-year mission – I mean term in office – to fight the forces of evil in Arizona Territory. Now called the Christmas Kid our hero spreads the Good News of Gunplay as he blows away various bad men who leave him with no other choice.  Continue reading

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VORTEX (1982) MOVIE REVIEW

vortexVORTEX (1982) – Written and directed by Beth B and Scott B, this independent sci-fi detective film starred cult figure Lydia Lunch and actor James Russo. This is one of those movies made with so little money – some of it from the National Endowment for the Arts – that it can’t really be held to the same standards as mainstream releases of its time.

Vortex, a murder mystery involving corporate and governmental corruption, is a fun relic of the days when indy filmmakers did not have access to the kind of technology that such mavericks do today. Here in 2022 it’s possible to buy hand-held equipment that would automatically make one’s movie project look better than many 1980s efforts. However, that does not make today’s filmmakers any more talented than those who came before them.

To be kind, Vortex was one of those films in which the ideas being presented and the bold images being shown on screen were the true point. Solid acting and expensive special effects were only occasionally part of the equation. Continue reading

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HAMMETT (1982) – MOVIE REVIEW

HammettHAMMETT (1982) – Directed by Wim Wenders and produced by Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios, Hammett is a criminally neglected valentine to Hard-Boiled Detective Stories and Film Noir. The flick is based on the novel by Joe Gores. 

The stories about the behind the scenes chaos and conflicts surrounding the production of this movie are legion. Pre-production work began in 1975 and by the time it was released in 1982 multiple cast and story changes had taken place and Coppola himself re-shot more than a third of the film.

In the way that Time After Time presented a whimsical “what if” adventure featuring H.G. Wells having a real time machine, Hammett serves up iconic detective novelist Dashiell Hammett getting caught up in solving a real-life mystery.

The timing is excellent, with the story being set in the late 1920s, after Hammett was no longer working for the Pinkerton Detective Agency but before he became a successful author. The tale begins with our hero – played by Frederic Forrest – typing out one of his penny-a-word Pulp stories for Black Mask Magazine, which was to detective fiction what Weird Tales was to horror and sci-fi.

hammett 2Booze and coughing fits figure prominently in the movie, as you would expect given a protagonist who was an alcoholic with tuberculosis. For the sake of convenience the story that Hammett just finished before blacking out was one featuring his character the Continental Op (as in an operative for the fictional Continental Detective Agency).  

Hammett awakens to find his most recent work being read by Jimmy Ryan (Peter Boyle), his old mentor from his Pinkerton days. Ryan jokes with “Sam” (Samuel Dashiell Hammett was his full name if you’re new to all things Hammett) that the “man with no name” in the story seems to be based on him (Ryan) and the way he operates.

Eventually Jimmy gets to the point: he saved Hammett’s life when our hero was new at detective work, and Ryan is finally calling in the debt that Sam owes him for that. The former colleague thus lures Hammett back into detective work for one last case. Continue reading

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