Category: 2009


2015 Wrap-Up: My Top Five List

Couple things on the wrap-up this year: first I can say that in 2015 I watched an even 70 films. By no means am I a “power-watcher” of movies, quality over quantity, or said another way: I have a day job. And kids. And I’m usually tired by the time I get a chance.

Before I get into my lists of films I enjoyed most this year, a quick note on podcasts I’m listening to. I’ve tried a number of B-movie and/or horror film podcasts, and most are, sadly, unlistenable. We need far fewer podcasts that are film reviews–as if we could not survive another day without your review of whether a 30-year-old film is “good”–and more that are film analysis of film history, IMHO. As we head into 2016, I’m still listening to Linoleum Knife; Monster Kid Radio; You Must Remember This; No-Budget Nightmares; 1951 Down Place; The Projection Booth; and Outside the Cinema. We’ll see what continues to make the cut next year. Welcome any suggestions.

And now, the films I loved this year–all first time watches. Spoiler: No Star Wars to be found here!

I can’t say anything than has already been said; my first thought was they don’t make movies like this anymore. Too bad, but makes one appreciate the older films all the more. I loved how some scenes moved like molasses, but were so full of meaning and innuendo. Such a pleasure to savor a film’s unfolding, instead of gulping it down whole.

About three-quarters of the way through the year I think I started burning out on my usual fare of schlocky horror movies and started craving cinema and not just movies. No doubt, this is the influence of starting to listen to Linoleum Knife–“a podcast of the cinema.” My next few choices reflect this change in my viewing habits, and are in no particular order.

This is just a beautiful film about the grief ensuing from the death of one-half of a gay couple in the John F. Kennedy era. It also is great at showing some of the realities that same-sex couples had to go through in those dark pre-Stonewall days to closet themselves in plain sight, which could be hard to watch at times. One of the tenderest films I’ve seen in a long time.

This was a hard film to watch about a topic I know little about–child soldiers. Set in an unspecified sub-Saharan African country that could have been anywhere from Liberia to South Sudan it follows one boy from capture through becoming a hardened soldier at the tender age of 11ish. Idris Elba is the standout here, and I’m now on an Elba kick which I’m satiating by binging on Luther, which I can’t take my eyes off of:

Horses of God is a French-Moroccan film speculating on the events leading up to the May 2003 attacks in Casablanca that killed 45 in 5 semi-coordinated attacks on the same day.  This is a straight dramatization of the fictionalized account of how two brothers go from living in a shantytown next to the city to becoming suicide bombers, and seeing the events through the eyes of the bombers is very revealing.

Back to my usual gig, a Hammer horror film with an early-1970s exploitation sensibility? Yes, please!

Now, some honorable mentions–films I also enjoyed very much on a first viewing:

I Heart Mega Sharks

 

A highly-realistic depiction of the Mega-Shark-pocalypse.

A highly-realistic depiction of the Mega-Shark-pocalypse.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for this pretty tired formula involving ridiculously large fish attacking ridiculously long passed their sell-by date pop culture icons in ridiculously silly ways. Lest you think I’ve jettisoned all standards, I’ll have you know I’m a purist: sharks must only have one head, not three; must be in the water, and not travel on land; and not be confused with weather or mountain phenomena; and the sharks must be based on real species, not mashed up fucked up shit. 

Who am I kidding? I love it all! Bring it.

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009)

Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus (2010)

Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark (2014)

Mega Shark vs. Kolossus (2015)

mega-shark

Movie-Matrix-Morpheus

Twilight gets 5.2 out of 10, according to user ratings on IMDB. You can do far, far worse than this.

So, I’ll cop to enjoying–actually enjoying–watching horribly made, low-budget, inept, misconceived, and altogether stupid horror movies. It’s the main reason I’m a terrible at reviewing movies–I can always suspend disbelief and see the good in even the silliest films. So, trolling through the IMDB for some new material to get into, I started to keep tabs on the absolutely lowest rated horror films.

Before we get into the films, maybe a note of caution is in order about using IMDB’s numerical rating system for anything like assessing the quality of films–mainly, that it’s pretty arbitrary. Not every film is rated, some films are rated more than others, and there’s no standard way of arriving at a user’s subjective rating. So no real conclusions should be drawn from this at all. But this is about finding new films to watch, not making actual important decisions from–so I’m not going to too wrapped around the axle on research designs or justifying methodologies.

Looking at all the films that IMDB classifies as horror–although that is a slippery definition in some cases–and then filtering down to only those films with a user rating of between 1.0-1.9 stars of a possible ten, we get a little more than 100 nominations for the worst horror movie ever.  To show how bad these can get, consider that Twilight is a 5.2; Fifty Shades of Grey and Plan Nine From Outer Space–both are touted as contenders for worst movie ever, and both rate a whopping 4.0. We’re going all the way the end of the rabbit hole here.

alice murderland

Speaking of rabbit holes, check out this 1.9-rated film, Alice in Murderland (2010).

Starting with the highest rated of these–scoring a 1.9–we have 35 films. I don’t have time, inclination, or space to go film-by-film, but this cohort includes gems like Manos, the Hands of Fate (1966), Birdemic 2: Resurrection (2013), and Biker Zombies From Detroit (2001). Note that Manos, often derided as “the worst film ever made,” is in the highest rated cohort here. There are films worse than Manos–all the way to the end of the rabbit hole, indeed.

dead box office

2005’s Dead at the Box Office, also a 1.8

19 films received a rating of 1.8, with the standouts being Bimbos B.C. (1990), Sleepaway Camp 4: The Survivor (1992–IMDB says this is a 2012 film, clearly an error); Sorority House Vampires (1998), the original Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010).

Jaws in Japan (2009) and 12/12/12 (2012) are the only films of the ten that received a 1.7 that seem in any way noteworthy.

Likewise, the of the next ten films that rated a 1.6, only Ring of Terror (1962)–because it is the oldest on the list–and O.C. Babes and the Slasher of Zombietown (2008)because of the ridiculous title–are ones that I’ll be trying to track down.

Zombies Gone Wild (2007) also lives in One-Point-Five-Land.

Also not porn: Zombies Gone Wild (2007) also lives in One-Point-Five-Land.

Coming in at a star-and-a-half we get 14 more films, including the I-don’t-think-its-porn-but-I-could-be-wrong Barely Legal Lesbian Vampires: The Curse of Ed Wood (2003). It’s not porn, since the whole film is available on YouTube. Also here is a remake of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven (2006), but something must have gone horribly, horribly wrong for such a classic tale to end up on this list.

Vapid Shallow Models Must Die! (2006) seems the only highlight of the eight films rating a 1.4. Note the trailer is posted to Myspace. The creators of these low-budget movies might be accused of being stuck in their own world.

Finally, with films rated 1.3 and lower, we are getting close to the proverbial bottom of the barrell. Ankle Biters (2002), and Curse of the Zodiac (2007), a riff on the Zodiac Killer by the prolific horror/exploitation director Ulli Lommel. Lommel also directed The Raven.

adam-minarovichIn Ankle Biters, we get midget vampires, from director Adam Minarovich, whom you’ll remember as Carol’s abusive husband from season 1 of The Walking Dead. 

Ax ‘Em (1992) and Kracker Jack’d (2003), are coincidentally, both African-American-themed slashers, and both come in at 1.2 stars. Treatment of race is an interesting question for low-budget horror–and in horror reviews–but I’ll have to leave these for another time.

Scott Shaw appears in many of the posters for his own films.

Shaw appears in many of the posters for his own films.

Nearing the worst of the worst, as rated by that mass of humanity that rates films on the IMDB, are Scott Shaw‘s Crimes of the Cupachabra (1998) and Frozen Flesh (2008). Shaw is noteworthy, or something, in that he is highly prolific, directing 7 films last year alone and believes in “zen filmmaking” that doesn’t bother with confining elements of the craft, like written scripts. Justin French brought us Frozen Flesh, a cannibal flick apparently filmed entirely through a red filter.

This brings us down to the lowest rated horror film–2010’s vaguely titled Deception. This is a pretty amateurish affair directed by one Vitaliy Versace, in which cameras shake, mic stands are occasionally visible, and behind-the-scenes crew can be heard over the cast. Deception was remastered in 2012, so maybe some of these errors are dealt with. In any case, this is what I love about low-budget films these days–seeing advanced amateurs plying their craft, errors and all. Some hit the big time, like Adam Minarovich, but that’s not always the goal. Some revel in the silly premises of their films like Scott Shaw, and others keep on pumping out their visions on film, like Vitaliy Versace.  Regardless, there’s a lot more to understanding and enjoying bad films than Manos.

At this point, we’ve eliminated half of the films we started with, and have arrived at our Sweet 16! But before we get to that story, I have to go over this story–how Match-Up 4 shook out.

This Story 

Match-up 4 had about half the votes of 3, which is fine, and here’s how it all went down:

Hi-Brow vs. Low-Brow Horror

The Birds (1963)–3 votes (60%)
Night of the Lepus (1972)–2 votes (40%)

Come All Ye Witchfinders!

Witchfinder General (1968)–3 votes (60%)
Mark of the Devil (1970)–2 votes (40%)

Possessions ‘R Us

The Exorcist (1973)–3 votes (60%)
The Devil Rides Out (1968)–2 votes (40%)

Exploitations’ Best Leading Ladies

Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! (1965)–3 votes (60%)
Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS (1975)–2 votes (40%)

That Story

So, with these we have our Sweet 16.  This week we’ll work through these eight matches, so we can get at a Final Four next time out:

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951):

vs.

Black Sunday (1960)

Grizzly (1976)

vs.

Carnival of Souls (1962)

The Thing (1982)

vs.

The Birds (1963)

Them! (1954)

vs.

Witchfinder General (1968)

Christine (1983)

vs.

I Drink Your Blood (1970)

ThanksKilling (2009)

vs.

The Exorcist (1973)

Blacula (1972)

vs.

Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

Toxic Avenger (1984)

vs.

She-Devils on Wheels (1968)

Happy Voting, see you at the Elite Eight next week!

These are a little too contemporary for me most days, but these are worth checking out.

It’s that time of the week again! Time for results and new contests to find some of the more popular B-movies, as voted on by my 7 loyal followers.  First, a wrap-up of last week’s contest:

Battle of the Crazy 70s Cult Leaders!

  • I Drink Your Blood (1970)–6 votes (67%)
  • Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1973)–2 votes (33%)

A Troma Classic v. Vengeful Christmas Trees

  • The Toxic Avenger (1984)–8 votes (89%)
  • Treevenge (2008)–1 votes (11%)

Horror: 1960s v. 1970s

  • Black Sunday (1963)–7 votes (78%)
  • The Abominable Dr. Phbes–2 votes (22%)

Sci-Fi: 1950s v. 1960s

  • Them (1954)–5 votes (56%)
  • Godzilla vs. The Thing (1964)–4 votes (44%)

Now that we have two sets of results, we need to start charting who’s advancing on from the original 32 films into a Sweet 16. For those following along at home, here’s where we’re at–and you can start to see what upcoming match-ups will be.   And now, on with the countdown!

This week, four more matches, notable for how very different each match-up is, but all these films are worth a re-watch.  Here are the matches for this week:

1960s Horror Pioneers

These represent some groundbreaking horror film making whose styles and tropes remain with us, even after half a century. Both are top faves of mine: Carnival of Souls (1962) vs. Blood Feast (1963). The latter is Herschell Gordon Lewis’s second entry into our little contest, after She-Devils on Wheels won its first contest handily.

John Carpenter Bake-Off!

Every rightly-brought-up fan loves John Carpenter, but which of his films are his best?  Here, we must make a hard choice: The Fog (1980) vs. The Thing (1982)!

Contemporary Zero-Budget Nightmares

I love zero-budgets (z-movies) almost as much as the classics, and we are indeed in a new golden age for this end of the swamp.  I’ll unilaterally give an honorable mention to Bong of the Dead (2011), but for this week make your choice between these two new classics:

Blaxploitation Still Rules

Love me some classic blaxploitation! For whatever reason, this is a genre that I cannot tire of.  Two more faves, though I really wanted to get Dolemite or Bucktown in for this year–these might be a good match-up for next year’s edition of the Grindhouse Brackets. But for this year, puzzle me this: Blacula (1972) or Shaft (1971)?

Next week, we’ll finish up the initial contests where each of the 32 starters has an initial shot at advancement–after next week things will start getting interesting as winners take on other winners.

 

 

 

Here, Mrs. I Love Terrible Movies and I put together a fun little 32-team bracket featuring bad guys/monsters/villains of horror and exploitation films I’ve seen in the past year or so.  In case you forgot who’s who, I’ve embedded the film trailers below.

Tweet me or comment on this post by a week from today (1 April) for your faves to advance to the Sweet 16.

Yeah, yeah, I know this is going to finish up well after “March Madness” will–sue me.

Klaatu vs. Gill-Man

From Outer Space … A Warning and an Ultimatum

Clawing Monster From A Lost Age strikes from the Amazon’s forbidden depths!

Asa Vajda vs. Dr. Phibes

The Undead Demons of Hell Terrorize the World in an Orgy of Stark Horror!

There are two sides to Dr. Phibes…..both of them EVIL!

Jaws Ripoff-a-Thon!

They’re waiting to slither you!

18 Feet of Man-Eating Terror!

The Man vs. Fuad Ramses

She Escaped Death. Now It Wants Her Back!

A Weird, Grisly Ancient Rite Horrendously Brought To Life In Blood Color!

 John Carpenter Face Off!

Man is The Warmest Place to Hide

It is night. It is cold. It is coming.

Birds vs. Lepuses

…And remember, the next scream you hear could be your own!

How many eyes does horror have? How many times will terror strike?

Mothra vs. Them!

SEE the armies of the world destroyed! SEE the BIRTH of the world’s most terrifying monster! SEE the war of the GIANTS!

A horror horde of crawl-and-crush giants clawing out of the earth from mile-deep catacombs!

Jeff Morrow Slapfest!

PLANET ROBBER TRAMPLES EARTH…STEALING ENERGY FOR OTHER WORLDS!

Flying beast out of prehistoric skies!

Cars vs. Houses!

Body by Plymouth. Soul by Satan.

Houses Don’t Have Memories

Battle of the Nihlistic Cult Leaders!

Let it be known, sons and daughters, that Satan was an acid head.

You’re Invited To Orville’s “Coming-Out” Party…It’ll Be A Scream…YOURS!!!

Recent Zero-Budgets!

Why did the eagles and vultures attack?

Gobble, Gobble, Motherfucker!

The Devil You Say?

The beauty of woman, the demon of darkness, the unholy union of “The Devil’s Bride”

Somewhere between science and superstition, there is another world. The world of darkness.

Vampire Madness!

His bite was outta sight!

It will cost you sweat and tears, and perhaps… a little blood.

Badass Bitches!

The most dreaded Nazi of them all!

Russ Meyer’s ode to the violence in women

Treevenge vs. Troma

The first Super-Hero… from New Jersey!

Badass Biker Babes!

They’re Looking for a Few Good Men.

See! Female Hellcats Ruling Their Men With Tire-Irons As Their Instruments Of Passion!

It’s time for another good-sized roundup of good movie reviews from the tweeps.  Love how you folks are keeping exploitation and B-movies in circulation.

With a good-sized H/T to Cultural Gutter, I saw this interesting post on TV criticism vs. TV recapping, among other things.  I liked it because it gives voice to what I’m trying to give birth to on this blog, in the context of exploitation and B-Movies, instead of scripted television dramas:

. . .  carving out a niche for long-form pieces that look beyond the pluses and minuses of a single episode to examine its greater potential and its place in the culture . . .

I’ve been trying to figure ways to take my movie blog that you’re reading now beyond recapping and reviewing individual films, which does seem to me to be the dominant mode of the cinema blogosphere.  Giving as much as I can about the backstory of a film’s making, information sometimes captured in book-length pieces, or trapped in the academic community seems one good way to get there.  Another seems to be the looking into period press, much of which is is not online, to give some idea of how these films I cover were received as they came out seems like a fruitful avenue.  I’ve some other ideas too, which are not ready for prime time yet, but suffice it to say I was glad to see the idea of moving beyond single-film perspectives in the above post.

This last one reminds me of a side-project I just might get going, doing a “movie-of-the-day” about Jaws-rip-offs of various kinds of animals attacking people. If this furlough keeps going, you never know what can happen!

  • Over at Forgotten Films we get some good posts on a variety of fun flicks, a couple of which should be seen annually, I think: Blackenstein (1973) was part of the early-to-mid 1970s blaxploitation series remaking classic horror icons, other examples being the William Marshall vehicles Blacula and Abby (remaking The Exorcist). FF also talks Grizzly (1976), another of the aforementioned Jaws rips; The Awakening (1980) a snoozer in which yet another ancient Egyptian queen comes back to life, this time with no thanks to Charlton Heston’s and Stephanie Zimbalist’s overwrought acting.  Lastly, we get one of two takes this week of my own guilty pleasure, Zombie Lake (1981), about zombie Nazis.  Or Nazis, who happen to be zombies.  Or whatever.  Also, check out Midnight Triple Feature’s separate review of Zombie Lake.

Starring Barbara Steele, who I recently saw in Piranha 18 years after this one, still messing shit up, this time, and yet again, with the wildlife eating people!

Car

Co-starring Sandor Elès, whose death anniversary was a month or so ago.

  • Lost Highway was three fun ones this time: Pieces (1983), a self-explanatory classic slasher ripoff of the irreplaceable Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974); Night Tide (1961) in which young Dennis Hopper falls in love with a woman who may or may not be a mermaid; and Journey to the Seventh Planet (1961), classic B-sci-fi about visiting Uranus.  My tweeps are pretty monster/slasher horror-focused, so seeing some good old fashioned sci-fi/horror here in the bunch is nice and refreshing.
  • The positively essential Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) gets a new review, courtesy of Church of Splatter-Day Saints, not only did this flick introduce the facehugging monster that Alien gets all the credit foe later, but this film helped revive Universal Studios’ flagging fortunes by introducing new possibilities for monster movies when the genre had all but run its course in the mid-1950s.

Lastly, I’ll conclude this post with a fun link over to The Hollywood Reporter and their interviews with all concerned with the making of Evil Dead 2.  “We were like ‘Jackass’ with a plot”!  Enjoy!

The Last 5 Films I’ve Seen #1

When I started this blog, I promised myself to not let this become yet another movie review blog.  There are some great review blogs out there, and I doubt I can add much to individual films that people would want to read.  Especially when folks like DaveShah and the folks at Anti-Film School are already doing some great reviews, among others.  Besides, I’m such an optimist that I’d probably give everything a good review anyway.

However, I did want to keep a record of what I’m watching, and maybe make a short statement on each.  There’s no theme to these: some I found refs to from Twitter, some from podcasts I listen to, and some from browsing on YouTube, which is among my favorite place to find and watch movies.

la_horde_xlg 

La Horde (2009)

French zombie flick.  Downside: no explanation for the zombie apocalypse; upside: being a vigilante cop meting out justice in the drug and gang infested projects when that apocalypse hits.  There’s a good review here, and I agree: this film has some good over-the-top comic book action sequences, and breaks zombie conventions with abandon, and in a very intense angry way.  I dug it, but some thought it’s all been done before and better.

children-shouldnt-poster

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1973) 

Low budget zombie film, reminds me in some respects of I Drink Your Blood in that a small band of counter-culture types end up in trouble in a rural spot.  CSPWDT came out just a year or two after IDYB, so one might see there may be some IDYB influence here.

tourist_trap_xlg

Tourist Trap (1979)

Even though this film borrows heavily from the plot of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)and at least one of the crew worked on that–this stands the test of time as something of a lost classic by the team that would later bring us Puppet Master (1989).  I always thought this movie is what when gets if one were to think of a slasher set in The House On the Rock, a similar sort of tourist trap in southern Wisconsin.

angelsashardastheycome

Angels Hard As They Come (1971)

Outlaw biker exploitation film that is notable for being written by Jonathan Demme, and featuring Scott Glenn and Gary Busey early in their careers.  Well acted by Glenn and Charles Dierkorp as the main antagonist; this is a pretty decent genre film, although it plays as well as a Western as it does an outlaw biker exploitation one, right down to the abandoned desert town this one is set in.

Slave GirlsSlave Girls From Beyond Infinity (1987)

Gawdy sexploitation fun that could only come from 1987, but is quite tame by today’s standards.  Loosely based on “The Most Dangerous Game,” a 1924 short story that is one of the most famous in the annals of American literature that has been put to film at least once a decade from the 1930s through the 1980s, according to one account,  At any rate, this film has higher production values than one would expect (minus the visible mic stand in one shot, ahem) and is just a lot of schlocky fun, with boobies, which is the point, isn’t it?