Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jesse James vs Frankenstein's Daughter

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966)
Starring: John Lupton and Narda Onyx
Director: William Beaudine
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

After Jesse James (Lupton) is ambushed by lawmen during a stagecoach robbery, he seeks help for his wounded partner from a pair of reclusive doctors living in an abandoned Spanish mission. These doctors just happen to be the granddaughter and grandson of Victor Frankenstein, and they are carrying on the family business of trying to create life. Well, sort of. Will one of the Wild West's greatest outlaws survive his encounter with mad science, or will he become FrankenJesse?

When you take a third-rate western and merge it with a Z-grade Frankenstein sequel, you get "Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter." Although the acting is better than I would have expected from a movie like this, the fact that it must have been made for $1.95 is laughably obvious. The height of the movie's badness comes when a kindly Mexican girl points Jesse to the place where the doctors live... and we are treated to perhaps the worst matte painting ever. (The Frankenstein Kids apparently live behind a giant, ametuerish landscape painting!) And things get worse once Jesse's partner in crime is monsterfied and rechristened Igor by mad scientiest Maria Frankenstein (Onyx.)

I'm giving this one Two Stars, because for all its badness, it is watchable in a bad western kind of way. If the film's pace wasn't so darn slow, it might even rate Three Tomatoes--the acting is okay, and the sheer foolishness of the concept is kind of fun. Too bad it wasn't better executed.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A mystery wrapped in an enigma and crap

They (aka "Invasion from Inner Earth" and "Hell Fire") (1974)
Starring: Paul Bentzen, Debbie Pick, Nick Holt, Karl Wallace, and Robert Arkens
Director: Bill Rebane
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

Four men and one woman are in a remote wilderness when they hear reports of some strange calamity that has gripped the rest of the world. While trying to contain their own panic, they attempt to reestablish contact with the outside, but all they can raise on their shortwave radio is a strange, haunting voice.

"They" is a movie that starts with a mystery and ends with a mystery. It never bothers to explain what's going on, although clearly SOMETHING is, because the filmmakers here don't understand the concept of P.O.V. and voice and they keep cutting away to show what's happening in nearby towns. Are aliens fumigating Earth in preparation for a takeover? Are people being "vanished" into the Inner Earth? Is this movie only watchable if you're really, REALLY stoned? None of these questions are answered.

Although it did keep my interest to the point where I kept watching, the film doesn't have a single good actor in it, the dialogue is lame, the music soundtrack atrociously inconsistent and inappropriate for many scenes, the special effects terrible, and the whole film ultimately pointless.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Even zombies are ashamed of this one

Celebrating the 65th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany with a bomb bigger than any than anything ever dropped on Berlin. (A revised version of this review is also included in 150 Movies You Should (Die Before You) See.)

Oasis of the Zombies (1981)
Starring: Actors who didn't want their real names on the film
Director: Someone who was too embarrassed to admit who he really was (even if the world now knows it was Jess Franco, making a worse-than-usual movie, even by the low expectations we have of him)
Rating: Zero of Ten Stars

Two competing groups head to a distant oasis in search of Nazi gold. They are eaten by Nazi zombies, who are guarding the treasure for who-knows-what-reason. These Nazi zombies are of a special variety of zombies who always fondle a woman's crotch while attacking her; they don't seem to do the same to their male victims, though. No siree, no homos in the Third Reich, not even among zombies! In the end, a pair of survivors, our cypherous hero and our bland heroine, discover the meaning of life... but they never do find the treasure.

Yes, I spoiled the movie by giving away the ending.

Actually, I can't really spoil it, because it's one of the absolute worst movies ever made. I wouldn't have thought someone could go wrong with Nazi zombies guarding a massive haul of loot... but leave it to Jess Franco to screw up a sure thing.

Don't get ANY of the standalone versions, even if they're probably copied from better quality prints than the one I viewed (which was included in "Chilling Classics" and was so faded at points it was impossible to see what was going on. Which was probably a blessing.)

I've written far more about "Oasis of the Zombies" than it deserves, but I feel it's my duty as a compassionate human being to warn the B-movie lovers of the world that in the case, the "B" stands for "Bowel-movingly Bad". Not even the sexy chicks in short-shorts and tight tops make this film worth watching.