Saturday, February 27, 2010

150 Movies You Should [Die Before You] See
is getting some reviews of its own

In this post, I provide links to my favorite reviews of my book 150 Movies You Should (Die Before You) See.

Reviews of the Review Book

Patrick Sauriol of Corona Coming Attractions liked it, and here's some of what he wrote: "Miller dredges up skeletons from the closet of stars, casting back to their earliest acting jobs, as well from future Oscar-winning directors like Peter Jackson. I quite liked Chapter 8, "It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time", since it seems the most appropriate way to quantify Catwoman, Batman and Robin, The Love Guru and Steven Speilberg's 1941." Click here to read the entire review.

Tom at Motion Picture Gems liked it, and among the nice things that he wrote was: "If you are familiar with any of Steve's blogs, then you can rest assured that this new guide to the "worst of the worst" is written by none other than a movie buff who has seen thousands of movies over the course of a lifetime. Mean-spirited this book is not; in the opening acknowledgements, Steve tips his hat to all of the filmmakers involved who have provided many hours of enjoyment." Click here to read the entire review.

Horror Bob at The Horror Review pretty much liked it, and he wrote: "While we may agree to disagree with some of the films that Miller considers to be the worst of the worst, with the the other 90%, I agree. It is actually a great reference book, one that I wish I had had ten years ago so I wouldn’t have wasted weeks of my life watching and reviewing bad films, but all in all, it’s a great book to keep by your bedside at night for reference." Click here to read the full review.

Brian Bankston at Cool Ass Cinema ( mostly liked it, and he wrote: "It's quite a fun read peppered with various funny movie lines and trivial annotations. It's all written in brevity briskly moving the reader from one review to the next." He also wrote that: "The one part of the book I took issue with (and it's one of the more apt reasons to read critical notices on films with differing opinions) was the inclusion of certain titles that, at least to me, were anything but bad movies." Click here to read the full review.

Luke Bonnano at liked it, and he writes: "A book beating up on bad movies could easily come across as mean-spirited or pretentious. Miller's is neither of these things, as he displays a clear taste for trash and says as much as in his introduction. I enjoyed this and if you've gotten kicks out of bad movies on more than one occasion, you probably will too. It's a quick read and also fun to just page through." Click here to read the full review.

Steve Simels at didn't like it, and he states that he was annoyed enough to write: "To give Miller his due, he includes enough background info on the films being dissed that I suppose 150 Movies is not without some small value as a reference work. Mostly, though, the book kind of seesaws between WTF? wrongheadedness and a really annoying philistinism (the latter a pitfall that's perhaps built into the bad movie book genre, as anybody who's ever actually read the Medved Brothers' various Golden Turkey tomes can attest.)" Click here to read the full review.

Melissa Hansen at had this to say on her blog: "Let's face it: some movies are just made to be made fun of." Click here to read the full post.

"150 Movies You Should (Die Before You) See" is currently on sale at in all good and proper book stores and online book and media retailers. (And if they don't have the book, then they're NOT good and proper book stores or online retailers. So there.)

If you've read it, please feel free to offer your opinion on it in the comments section, or ask me about it/any entries in the book. And if you've posted a review to your blog, email me about it. I may include a link to it on this blog.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pieces of quality missing from 'Jigsaw'

Jigsaw (2002)
Starring: Barret Walz, Arthur Simone, Mia Zifkin, Aimee Bravo, Maren Lindow, James Palmer, Mark Vollmers and David Wesley Cooper
Directors: Don Adams and Harry James Picardi
Rating: One of Ten Stars

A scupture created from a manniquin by five community college students (Bravo, Lindow, Palmer, Simone and Zifkin) and later crucified and burned as a final project devised by their sleazy professor (Walz) is brought to life by the collective darkness of their souls. It then proceeds to kill and dismember anyone it comes in contact with, using its arm-mounted shotgun and roundsaw.

"Jigsaw" is a bit of awfulness that resulted from the collaboration of Charles Band's Full Moon and J.R. Bookwalter's Tempe Entertainment.

From beginning to end, the film feels like only a mininal amount of effort went into making it, or that at least very little planning surrounded the production. This sense starts with the opening scene where the five students are assigned their final project by the professor. From comments made, the viewer is to believe that there is a larger class, but it's obvious that no effort was made to get extras to fill the rest of the seats in the room. This sense continues as the story unfolds with no explanation as to why or how the manniquin animates and one of the worst non-ending endings I've come across in my trips through the dredges of cinematic entertainment. All in all, it feels like a poorly planned production based on a half-finished first draft of a script.

And this is a shame, because the monster (named "Jigsaw" by the sleazy professor, because it was made from plastic limbs and a head modified and decorated by his students) is creepy enough to have deserved a better vehicle than what it got. A couple of the kill scenes are nicely done--and more chilling than one might expect because of the creature involved--and the ending had real potential if it had actually been finished instead of just sort of stopping right when it was getting good. But what chills are here are thanks to the creature, not any particular skills on the part of the actors--most of whom don't seem to have much in the way of film careers before or after this production.

Monday, February 15, 2010

'Satan's School for Lust' fails to pass grade

Satan's School for Lust (2002)
Starring: Misty Mundae and Darian Caine
Director: Terry West
Rating: Zero of Ten Stars

A young teen (Mundae) is sent by her rich, always-traveling father, to a boarding prep school for girls. Here, she discovers that what the students are being prepped for is a life of demon worship and lesbian bondage games!

I was challenged to watch and review this film. It is a challenge that, I am sad to say, I lost. It was so bad that I couldn't even bear to watch it, but instead made liberal use of the fast-scan button on my remote. I've sat through some pretty bad films, but even I couldn't stand this one. The awfulness of the acting is only exceeding by the rancidness of the dialogue. And then there's the near-incoherent mess that passes for the plot.

"Satan's School for Lust" starts out like a Z-grade, super-low budget slasher flick, but it immediately veers into lame softcore demon-worshiping lesbian bondage porn territory. On level it's comes off as a spoof of any number of horror films from the 1970s, but I wonder if that was on purpose given the general lack of quality present here.

The ONLY interesting thing about the flick is a recurring nightmare that Misty Mundae's character has, an erotic nightmare involving a crucifix and a bucket of blood that indicates that she is the chosen concubine of the demon at the school (Caine). Everything else is too dull to stand. (And here is where I'll have to start doubting my sex-drive, because guys are supposed to love ANY and ALL lesbian action, right?)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ivan Marx: Worst Bigfoot Hoaxer Ever

The Legend of Bigfoot (1976)
Starring: Ivan Marx and Peggy Marx
Director: Harry Winer
Rating: One of Ten Stars

This film is supposedly a documentary that chronicles a ten-year quest by a professional tracker to determine the migratory habits of Bigfoot and to acquire irrefutable film documentation of their existence. It's actually a collection of nature photography that wasn't quite good enough to make it into the PBS and Mutual of Omaha programs, intermingled with out-of-focus shots of guys in fur-suits and rubber feet.

"The Legend of Bigfoot" is crushingly dull unless you're really REALLY into Bigfoot and nature films. And even if you're really REALLY into nature films, you're going to find yourself wishing that Marx would get to some point, or that Bigfoot would rear up and eat him. At the very least, I suspect you're going to find yourself reaching for the remote so you can scan past the boring bits. What do wild pigs have to do with Bigfoot? What do Caribou hunters have to do with Bigfoot? What do "ground squirrels in love" have to do with Bigfoot? While the ground squirrels are damn cute, they have NOTHING do to with Bigfoot, yet we are treated to scenes of all the above that seem as long as the ten years Marx supposedly hunted Bigfoot. (Oh... and what self-respecting tracker drives a red VW Bug, even if it was the Seventies? And drives it into the remote central Washington back country in the middle of winter?)

Will the film make you believe in Bigfoot? Only if you can believe that someone and/or his camera crew is capable of getting crystal clear film of any living animals except the mysterious, stinky Bigfoot. As hoaxes/mocumentaries go, this is very badly done. It's far more likely that, if the film doesn't put you to sleep, it will motivate you to change the station the next time they're discussing the critter on "Coast-to-Coast AM". The theories featured in "Legend" are almost as stupid as the ones they aspouse on that show--Bigfoot as an extra-dimensional visitor is actually almost more believable than Bigfoot as migratory animal that literally moves as fast on the ground as Canada Geese fly through the air.

Supposedly, Ivan Marx--the tracker whose quest is documented in this film, and who supposedly took the blurry images of Bigfoot--was a leader in the field of Bigfoot research. I am definately in the wrong line of work. The bar for being taken seriously in the field of Bigfoot scholarship must be seriously low.

The people who take Bigfoot research seriously must also be very stupid, if "The Legend of Bigfoot" is the sort of material they consider valid. (Although this essay at explains exactly what sort of documentarian Marx is. In brief, he's a fraud who makes Michael Moore look like Ken Burns. If "serious Bigfoot scholars" do web searches, they probably not what a piece of trash this film is.)

Why this film was included in the "Chilling Classics" DVD multipack--which is where I came across it--I'll never know. Perhaps someone mistook it for the Bill Rebane film known as "The Legend of Big Foot" (note the space), but never bothered to actually watch it before doing the digital transfer. Or maybe they got so bored they figured it HAD to be a Bill Rebane film.)