Category: 2011


bottom-of-barrel-headerI do love the terrible movies, but sometimes there are those that make you guzzle the palette-cleanser afterwards. Here are some of the worst films I saw last year, as told to Mike and Iris at the Badasses, Boobs, and Bodycounts podcast. Here are my faves of last year. Spoilers ensue, so reader beware.

1. Lords of Salem (2012)–Way too much build up and confusing imagery, but little follow-through on story. I really want to like Rob Zombie as a filmmaker–I remember really liking House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejectsbut those were getting to be a long time ago now.  My problem with Lords, was that just as I was finally expecting the horror movie to start, as the Heidi character made her transformation (or whatever) into a full-fledged witch (or whatever), the end credits started to roll. All the menace and the malevolence of the coven in the first scene that threatened to wreak havoc on modern-day Salem was reduced to a couple on-screen sentences where we had to read what the final implication of this film was?  Did Zombie run out of money two-thirds of the way through his production?

And in any case, the final implication was pretty limited–the penultimate reveal was that the witches create a ritualistic mass suicide? That hardly seemed worth the effort, or 90 minutes of everyone’s time. No huge threat to the city, let alone humanity. Like I said, I really wanted to like this film and Zombie as a director. Surely I must be missing something. I went as far to track down the novelization of this film that Zombie wrote. And? Nothing. It’s just a simple description of what we see on screen with a smidge more detail, but no insights into what I was missing. Probably because with this project–book and film–there’s no there there.

Rob, I’ll always love your music, and your first few films, but you really are making a lasting relationship harder than it should be.

Gappa

2. Gappa the Triphibian Monster (1967)–basically, a get rich quick rip-off of Japanese monster films by one of Japan’s oldest film production companies (Nikkatsu), which has been in the business for nearly a century. At times, as the KaijuCast podcast (another favorite) discussion of this film noted, Gappa is almost a shot-for-shot remake of classic kaiju scenes. As if the best parts of Japanese giant monster movies were all mixed up and thrown against the wall to see what would stick. The resulting film is like watching the whole sticky mess slide down the wall.

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Of course there is “Hobo With a Shotgun” in Lego!

3. Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)–started as a fan-made exploitation film trailer on a $150 budget for a contest that Richard Rodriguez was sponsoring, and when it won, they got rid of the fans and hired pro actors like Rutger Hauer to make the “real” film.

I’m not exactly sure what bothers me more: having pros replace amateurs, or the mere presence of Hauer. There’s only a few films I like him in, and I’m afraid I like him even less once I heard what an ass he can be on-set. Had the amateurs been able to stay on, this could have been (probably at best) something only as good as Thankskilling or Antfarm Dickhole. I find those sorts of films have much more charm than actors slumming it and trying too hard to recreate 70s grindhouse.

the-werewolf-of-washington-movie-poster-1973-10202498394. Werewolf of Washington (1973)–I live in the DC metro area, so maybe the idea of a political operative becoming a werewolf just hits too close to home.

But seriously, the last scene of this film–in which the President of the United States contracts lycanthropy in the back of Marine One–should have been the starting point for this whole affair. Just so we could be spared the site of (an impossibly young) Dean Stockwell as some silly aide doing his best to keep up appearances.

All that said, this film may have the best line of dialogue of any film I saw in 2014:

I think your father is a cross between Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ.

The President–this cross between Lincoln and Christ–goes on to tell Dean Stockwell who’s turning into a werewolf again to “stop scratching at your palms. It’s just not manly.” Or somesuch. Not sure why I believe that our protagonist sees this guy as a blend of two of America’s most respected historical figures… But on it goes… An we didn’t even get into the secret Frankenstein lab under the White House staffed by little people.

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Um, your administration is in jeopardy when your aides can’t tell the difference between a pent-a-gram and the Pent-a-gon…

host5. The Host (2006)–I love monster movies, and this Korean variation on the theme seems to have learned all the wrong lessons, but I suspect it’s just that something got lost in translation. The trick to watching this movie, I suspect, is to know something about the cultural context it is embedded in. At least one person sees a number of visual references to Korean touchstones that probably would blow right by most American audiences. Most Americans–including me–being oblivious to all this might have just seen this as an incoherently scripted monster movie.

In which case this movie seems like it had a marketing problem. Don’t inflict oblivious horror/monster movie aficionados with coy social criticism and expect the film to do well as a horror flick. On the other hand, given the amount of comedy in this film, how sharp was the cultural criticism? I have no idea, and won’t get too wrapped around the axle on this.  I keep saying to myself, it’s only a movie… it’s only a movie… it’s only a movie.

My Top Five First-Time Watches of 2014

ep114_5A bit ago over at the Badasses, Boobs, and Bodycounts podcast, the inestimable hosts Mike and Iris asked listeners to submit their top and bottom five first-time watches from 2014. I jumped on that action quickly, and got my email read on the podcast–mine was first up in fact.  Here it is again, slightly edited:

These Are Tops

1. Ginger (1971)–classic sleaze. Whenever I post on this movie here, these posts are always among the most popular ones of the year. Notable for starring gay porn star Casey Donovan and for having an early full frontal male nude scene.

2. Films of Fury (2011)–great intro documentary to the world of Kung Fu cinema. This is not a genre I am very familiar with, but I’ve been Kung Fu-curious for a long time. This doc is the perfect intro–I counted clips from at least 107 different films shown at some point in this.

In this trailer you’ll see some footage from Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976), though I do not recall seeing discussion or footage of this popular film in the documentary itself.

3. Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013)–nothing to add to what’s already been said to this great film doc, except that it’s being snubbed for a Best Documentary Oscar was highway-fucking-robbery. A great intro to Jodorowsky’s filmography for folks unfamiliar with the master film surrealist.

4. Bong of the Dead (2011)–And now for something completely different: I actually discovered this film from Badasses, Boobs, and Bodycounts, and watching this earnest little film especially knowing something of its backstory from the interview just cemented my love for ultra-low budget horror. This film and the faire discussed over at the No-Budget Nightmares podcast have been my gateway drugs to other shlocky films like Antfarm Dickhole, Rock n’ Roll Space Patrol Action is Go!, Treevenge, and one of my all time faves from this end of the pool, Thankskilling.

Extra credit for a film subtitled into Arabic!

5. The Day After (1983)–I finally got around to watching this some 30 years after my parents wouldn’t let me watch it in prime time (I was in the 6th grade in ’83). Impressed that this imperfect but unflinching film, considering its vintage and medium, got on the air at all. Remembering the class discussion that followed the original broadcast–this was the most-watched made-for-TV movies in US history–all I can say is that we were freaked the fuck out.

All for now–next time, my bottom five from 2014.

photo_01Just caught this little “neo-grindhouse” gem by borrowing the DVD from my local library. This project started as a “make your own grindhouse film trailer” contest, and then the pros came in to fill this project out–most notably Rutger Hauer and some Canadian indy film talents.

I would’ve much preferred to see this film without Hauer, but if this were the case, I suspect this effort would have brought us a film somewhat like Antfarm Dickhole or Bong of the Dead.  Z-grade film, with little notoriety outside those of us who seek these gems out.

Regardless, this was a fun watch.  The plot? Read that title again, plus some odd demons thrown in, inexplicably in the middle to move things along. Best line was from Abby (Molly Dunsworth, of Treevenge):

Not all the world’s problems can be solved with a shotgun!

Hobo answers, James Dean style:

But it’s all I know…

Enjoy a couple videos here on the making of this film, and some interviews with cast and producers:

 

Also, support the Badasses, Boobs, and Bodycounts podcast, where I first heard of this gem, and Midnight Corey and his Electric Chair podcast, and of course, the Bong of the Dead official site.

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

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This trail does not do the cringeworthy dialogue justice.

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!

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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!