Halloween month rolls along with Balladeer’s Blog’s salute to Zuma, the king of Philippine horror movies, and his sequel film Daughter of Zuma.
ZUMA (1985) – Category: Enjoyably bad movie elevated by its obscurity value
There’s an old saying that goes “Once you have a big green bald guy with pythons growing out of his neck you never go back.” Or something to that effect. This monstrous figure is Zuma himself, the Freddy Krueger of the Philippines in the 1980s. Big, muscular and green like the Hulk, bald like Mr Clean and with pythons growing out of his neck like the late Michael Jackson. (Disclaimer: The preceding remark is probably not true)
Originally a comic book character in the Philippines, Zuma took the film industry of the islands by storm with his debut film in 1985 and a sequel in 1987. Copies of these films have been Continue reading
MUSICAL MUTINY (1970) – Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with a Barry Mahon movie that’s more frighteningly bad than it is frightening. I’ve recently become obsessed with this made in Florida wonder that features the ghost of a long-dead pirate, the deskbound narrator from Blood Freak and a mad scientist intent on taking over the world with his new beverage which gets drinkers higher than marijuana. There are also three on-stage performances by Iron Butterfly (yes, really), including the full-length version of In A Gadda Da Vida.
Perhaps most importantly for me and my fellow Bad Movie geeks, this is the earliest movie release done as a promotional piece for Pirate’s World, the long-defunct Florida amusement park featured in notorious Grade Z films like Jack and the Beanstalk, Thumbelina plus Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (reviewed in 2010 here at Balladeer’s Blog). In fact, Musical Mutiny is so obscure that as of this writing there are only five user reviews at IMDb. Continue reading
THE CANNED FILM FESTIVAL STARRING LARAINE NEWMAN (1986) – Halloween Month continues at Balladeer’s Blog with this look at a neglected Movie Host show, since Movie Hosts/ Horror Hosts are as associated with Halloween as are monsters and cosplay.
In this post I won’t be covering the entire history of movie hosting and the “So Bad They’re Good” film subculture. For that, there are my many other blog posts covering movie hosting from Vampira and her contemporaries, through Moona Lisa, then Son of Svengoolie, Elvira, and programs like Saturday Night Dead, The Texas 27 Film Vault and MST3K.
THE SHOW: The Canned Film Festival Starring Laraine Newman. From June 21st to September 13th of 1986 this 90 minute syndicated program sponsored largely by Dr Pepper aired on Saturday nights in various time slots around the United States. Elvira’s show Movie Macabre had run from 1981 to 1986 and was winding down. The Texas 27 Film Vault, which had debuted on February 9th, 1985 was still on the air and would run for roughly two and a half years in Texas and Oklahoma.
Along came The Canned Film Festival, which, with a nationally known name like Laraine Newman attached to it, may well have been the reason that one of the attempted syndication deals for T27FV fell through. Be that as it may, Laraine Newman’s show would – like The Texas 27 Film Vault – show more than just lame horror and sci-fi films and would cover the whole spectrum of bad and/ or campy cinema of the past.
THE HOSTESS: Laraine Newman may be best known for Saturday Night Live and for her character actress work, but she had been a member of The Groundlings improvisational comedy troupe … As had Cassandra Peterson aka Elvira. Newman was also known as an aficionado of horror and fringe cinema. Continue reading
ROLLER BLADE (1986) – They’re the Cosmic Order of the Roller Blade and they’re female Jedi Knights on roller skates. Well, sort of. Where does one begin when reviewing this film that is so beloved by all of us fans of bad movies? Let’s start with the setting and then tackle the characters as well as Roller Blade’s legendary director Donald G Jackson (R.I.P.).
This film is set in the future during The Second Dark Age, years after humanity’s “energy weapons” have unleashed an apocalypse which has left the world a ravaged mess of ruined cities yet immaculately maintained roads and highways. Go figure.
Amid the usual tableau of feral gangs and predatory mutants there stands a force for good dedicated to rebuilding the world: a religious order of warrior nuns called the Cosmic Order of the Roller Blade … Even though none of them wear actual roller blades, just regular roller skates.
“Skate or Die” is the ugly motto of the survivors in this kill or be killed future. That’s because the filmmakers absurdly pretend that traveling via roller skates or skateboards is the only way to move swiftly enough to have a chance of evading the dangerous gangs and mutants.
If you have any goods or supplies that you are taking with you the only way to transport them is in metal grocery carts that can roll along with you as you skate through the post-apocalyptic landscape. I’m not joking. This grocery cart nonsense is another idiotic element that the movie takes 100% seriously despite how inane it looks.
MOTHER SPEED (Katina Garner) – The Mother Superior of the Order of the Roller Blade. She is in a wheelchair yet still wears roller skates on her feet since such skates are part of the Order’s sacred garments. Mother Speed, like all the good guys in Roller Blade, speaks in grandiose faux-Shakespearean littered with “thees” and “thous” and “yea, verilies.” ESPECIALLY “yea, verilies.”
Making Mother Speed even more fun is the way she speaks with a weird accent that makes her sound like popular 1980s sex therapist Dr Ruth Westheimer. Continue reading
IDAHO TRANSFER (1973) – This film, directed by Peter Fonda and starring mostly unknowns, deals with time travel and post-apocalypse themes. It was retitled Deranged for its DVD release. I have no idea why.
Not so long ago Idaho Transfer was regarded among us fans of bad movies as a So-Bad-It’s Good example of the way so many 1970s sci-fi films were presented as if they were being deep and innovative when in truth they were just reworking ideas from old Twilight Zone and Outer Limits episodes but dragging them out to unbearable length.
Here in 2021 Idaho Transfer has fallen so far off the schlock charts that it’s unknown to many viewers. However, it is STILL one of the best So-Bad-It’s-Good examples of pretentious yet shallow 1970s sci-fi films. While this story might have made a decent episode of a half-hour anthology series it is excruciatingly stretched out to 86 minutes.
THE PREMISE: In the movie’s present-day (1973) a group of scientists in Idaho have been using their federal grant money to try developing a teleportation/ matter transfer device for the government. Along the way, however, they realized that they had accidentally invented a machine that transports people and objects through time instead of space. Continue reading
RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY (1991) – Back when I started Balladeer’s Blog in 2010 this Hong Kong martial arts/ splatter film was among the first movies I planned to review. Feeling intimidated by the need to describe the sheer scale of the joyously tasteless violence in this movie I kept postponing it. Eventually, it seemed so notorious that I figured too many people knew about it for me to bother.
This week I was floored to meet a fellow fan of bad movies and learn that they had never even heard of Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. That galvanized me to finally post a review of the movie.
WARNING: For people who shy away from ultra-violence and the like, I will point out that this film usually grosses out and disgusts viewers just as much as some other flicks I’ve reviewed, like Father’s Day, Mandy, Lewd Lizard, Headless, etc. If you hated those reviews, you’ll likely hate this one, too.
Riki-Oh (pronounced Ricky-HO) is also known as Violence King and with good reason. This Category 3 Hong Kong movie does the seemingly impossible – it more than lives up to the Japanese Manga it was based on. Siu-Wong Fan stars as the title character. Ngai Choi Lam directed and wrote the screenplay adaptation.
Get ready for a kung fu film which combines the violent sensibilities of the Three Stooges crossed with the gore of Psycho Gothic Lolita, Dead Alive plus the aforementioned Mandy and Father’s Day. Not to mention more shots of men standing at urinals than you’d see at a major league ball park. Continue reading
THE BETSY (1978) – The popular 1970s television miniseries format proved to be perfect for adapting Harold Robbins’ novels since they were really just glorified soap operas, but for whatever reason this big-screen version of The Betsy attracted some very respected thespians for its cast. Name stars like Laurence Olivier, Robert Duvall, Katharine Ross, Jane Alexander and others pretty much slummed it in this flick, which was to the auto industry of Detroit as Dallas was to the Texas oilfields and Falcon Crest was to the California vineyards.
In this decades-spanning saga, Laurence Olivier stars as Loren Hardeman, the patriarch of a Detroit family which dominated the auto industry until recently. Loren is in semi-retirement and seems resigned to letting his grandson, Loren Hardeman III (Duvall), continue diversifying the family’s financial empire since their car business has been in decline.
Olivier’s Shakespearean talents weren’t really made to handle less grandiose dialects and accents, and his Midwestern American impersonation in The Betsy is almost as funny as his howlingly absurd Yiddish accents in The Boys From Brazil and The Jazz Singer. His oddball American accent as Douglas MacArthur in the film Inchon was bad, but not nearly as bad as the noises that come from his mouth in this movie. Continue reading
Raizo Ichikawa as the Son of the Black Mass
Balladeer’s Blog resumes my reviews of the Son of the Black Mass series of Samurai movies. This time around I will examine the fifth film with legendary Raizo Ichikawa. I will eventually cover the pre-Raizo and post-Raizo SOTBM flicks as well PLUS the original novels that the movies were based on.
Though the Son of the Black Mass series has also been released under alternate titles like The Full Moon Killer and Sleepy Eyes of Death (?) I go by the original title to the novel and movies. The recurring lead character is Kyoshiro Nemuri, a Ronin who is the product of the rape of a Japanese woman by a Portuguese Christian Missionary during a Black Mass.
Nemuri inherited his father’s red hair, marking him as a half-breed and leading to his disgrace. He wanders Japan of the 1780s, a time when Japanese Christians and the foreign Christian missionaries who converted them were being oppressed. As in imprisoned and told to renounce their faith or be executed through Crucifixion. Continue reading
One of the most misleading movie posters in history.
SAINT JACK (1979) – Directed by Peter Bogdanovich and based on the novel by Paul Theroux, this movie is almost impossible to categorize. The Coen Brothers once said their film Barton Fink defied genre assignment, and if so then the same can be said for Saint Jack. It’s part gangster movie, part expat slice of life, part sex comedy and part failed political commentary. Kinda Hot, a book about the guerilla making of Saint Jack is loaded with even more sex and drama than the film itself.
Before I move on to story details, let me also point out how the creative forces behind the movie may well represent the most unlikely alliance imaginable. It’s produced by Roger Corman and directed by Peter Bogdanovich by way of his then-girlfriend Cybill Shepherd’s snagging of the novel’s film rights as part of a legal settlement with Playboy magazine. Oddest of all, Shepherd wanted the film rights ever since reading the Paul Theroux novel on the recommendation of … Orson Welles. And this was long before Welles appeared on Moonlighting with Cybill. Continue reading
With the Frontierado Holiday coming up on Friday, August 6th here is another seasonal movie.
GET MEAN (1975)- One of the weirdest Spaghetti Westerns ever made and that’s saying something! Get Mean stars Tony Anthony and was also released under the title The Stranger Gets Mean, making it the final movie in Anthony’s series of Italo-Westerns as the enigmatic gunslinger known only as the Stranger.
Another alternate title the movie was released under was Beat A Dead Horse, reflecting the view of Anthony and his production company that Spaghetti Westerns really were beating that dead horse of a subgenre for everything they could squeeze out of it by this point. Emphasizing that point was the way Get Mean features its heroic gunfighter clashing with anachronistic Vikings, Moors and an evil hunchback who loves quoting Shakespeare (for obvious reasons).
The film starts out with Tony Anthony’s character being dragged into a ghost town in a box canyon by a horse he’s been tied to. We glimpse Tony through a small orb like the kind used by Gypsy fortune-tellers. Many viewers use that orb to support their argument that Anthony’s gunslinger will be magically traveling through time and that THAT’S why he battles out of date Vikings and Moors.
It still wouldn’t explain why they speak Spanish and/or English or any of the dozens of OTHER problems that would result from a time-travel explanation. My view is to just enjoy it as weirdness for weirdness’ sake. Think of it like Six-String Samurai but without the actual meaning behind that film’s metaphors. Continue reading