Tuesday, August 31, 2010

'Night of Bloody Horror' is bloody awful

Night of Bloody Horror (1969)
Starring: Gerald McRaney
Director: Joy Houk
Rating: One of Ten Stars

A young man (McRaney) who suffers from blackouts may be guilty of committing henious, violent murders. Or is something else afoot?

Grade-schoolers with a cellphone-cam and a backyard treefort would create a more exciting and coherent movie than what the drug-addled, drunk-off-their asses cast and crew of "Night of Bloody Horror" produced. Hell, those grade-schoolers would probably even stage better fight scenes. (The only decent part of the film is the marketing line "Filmed in Violent Vision" and one or two bits of purely unintentional comedy.

Don't bother with "Night of Bloody Horror" because it's bloody horrible and anyone who was involved with making it should be mortally embarrassed that it's available iin multiple different DVD versions. It's films like this that give "cult classics" a bad name, because too many marketeers like to slap the label "cult film" on turds they want to pass off as prunes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

'Teenaged Exorcist' shoulda stayed in school

Teenage Exorcist (1994)
Starring: Brinke Stevens, Oliver Darrow, Eddie Deezen, and Michael Berryman
Director: Grant Austin Waldman
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

Brinke Stevens stars a Good Girl who rents a house that a demonologist has transformed into an eternal vessel for his evil soul and miscellaneous other demonic and undead riff-raff. She is soon possessed by an evil, over-sexed demon and transformed into the ultimate Bad Girl. Can her sister, her ultra-straightlaced brother-in-law, and a dim-witted pizza boy save Brinke' soul (and the neighborhood's property values)?

This is intended as a horror comedy, but it is mostly unfunny due to a lack of comedic timing on the part of most of the actors, and the simple fact that many of the jokes just aren't that funny. The horror side is also markedly un-scary. The only reason to watch this film is the opportunity to see Brinke Stevens wander around in skimpy outfits--but you can get to see her do that in better films than this one.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

'Revolt of the Zombies' is a dead zone

Revolt of the Zombies (1936)
Starring: Dean Jagger and Dorothy Stone
Director: Victor Halperin
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

At the height of World War I, a French officer (Jagger) brings to his generals the ultimate weapon: the secret to creating impervious zombie soldiers! Unfortunately, before the Cambodian monk can be made to share this secret with the Europeans, he is murdered by a sinister enemy agent. A military expedition is sent to the darkest heart of Cambodia's jungles to see if the secret can be recovered.

"Revolt of the Zombies" actually has a really interesting plot at its heart. Too bad the filmmakers completely botched this movie, with awful dialogue and pacing that is at once too slow and too fast--important events happen off-screen and are then relayed to the viewers by the characters in boring exposition. Worse, the movie ultimately chickens out in regards to both its use of zombies in the story AND in regards to what seemed to have been its message about the negative impact of European colonialism with an "absolute power corrupts absolutely." What's more... there ain't no damn zombie revolt in the film (but that's because there aren't any real zombies, either).

I probably would have shrugged my shoulders at this one--it's just another low-budget, crappy horror film--but it was made as a follow-up to the fabulous "White Zombie." I expected more of "Revolt of the Zombies" because "White Zombie" is a dyed-in-the-wool classic horror film, one of the best zombie movies ever made (and perhaps even the *first* zombie movie ever made), and it was as low-budget as "Revolt."

Click here to read my review of "White Zombie" at The Bela Lugosi Collection.

Friday, August 13, 2010

You've read the blog, now own the book!

If you've enjoyed the content here and on the other blogs that make up the Cinema Steve network, I would like to invite you to check out a book I've written. It'll be in stores on November 18, 2010.

"150 Movies You Should (Die Before You) See" has been in the works for some time, and it has plenty of stuff to entertain and amuse those who love watching bad movies (as well as those who love hating bad movies). While some of the movies you can read about here are also discussed in the book, the content between here and there are very different. Basically, the book contains different sorts of information about the films than what you find here. It's also a lot funnier.

You can pre-order 150 Movies You (Should Die Before You) See at a discount from Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com, and probably a number of other fine online book-sellers I'm not aware of. (And if you use the link at the bottom of this post, I'll get a little extra on top of the royalties the publisher pays me.)

I would also like to invite you to check out the little webpage I've set up for the book. You can watch a different bad movie there every month, and even leave recommendations/warnings about movies you've seen in the message forums. Click here to visit the "150 Movies You Should (Die Before You) See webpage".

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Voyage Not Worth Taking....

Voyage to the Planet of the Prehistoric Women (1968)
Starring: Mamie Van Doren, Peter Bogdanovich, Mary Marr, Paige Lee, Aldo Romani, James David, and Roberto Martelli
Director: Derek Thomas (actually Peter Bogdanovich and Pavel Klushantsev)
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

After an expedition gets stranded on Venus, a rescue mission is lauched. Both run afoul monsters, and when they kill the creature they worship as a god, beautiful alien sirines with telepathic powers and the ability to control the elements.

"Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women" is a sci-fi adventure flick that was cobbled together with clips from a Russian sci-fi film that producer Roger Corman had acquired the rights to, and original sequences shot by Peter Bogdanovich; the storyline with the sexy, idol-worshipping, hip-hugger-and-seashell-top wearing sirines. There's a reason our astronaut heroes only hear the telepathic song of the aliens instead of coming face to face with them--the scenes were shot years and thousands of miles apart.

I don't know how good or bad the original Russian film was, but the result here is pretty boring and nearly pointless,and the segments featuring the astronauts is jumbled and with a plot that seems to unfold at random. It's a shame that the idea of the Venusian sirines was wasted in this effort, because taken by themselves there are some rather neat ideas and viduals involved. (The way they adapt and reject their gods even comes close to making an interesting statement.)

If you see this movie on the content listings of a DVD multipack containing ten or more movies, it should be viewed as a "bonus feature" to the package. In any other case, you're probably paying too much to own it. Although I like the space sirine idea, this is not a movie that's worth your money or your time.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Manos... fated to return?

For the decade or so that I've been focusing my attention on the more obscure and awful side of cinema, I've avoided writing anything about "Manos: The Hands of Fate." It's been covered by so many others, as well as featured on "Mystery Science Theater 3000", that I didn't feel like I had anything at all to add. Plus, the film is almost too bad to even bother writing about... and I've written about some awful movies.

But, with the news that a sequel is in the works (click here to visit TorgoLives.com), I suppose I might as well join the crowd.

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
Starring: John Reynolds, Hal Warren, Diane Mahree, Tom Neyman, and Jackey Neyman
Director: Harold P. Warren
Rating: Zero of Ten Stars

A family on vacation (Mahree, Jackey Neyman and Warren) take a wrong turn and find themselves in the clutches of the High Priest of Manon (Tom Neyman), his bizarre assistant Torgo (Reynolds) and the Master's unaging wives. Will they escape, or will the wife and little girl become the latest additions to the Master's harem?

A better question might be whether you'll have the stamina to stick with this movie long enough to find out, because this is without a doubt one of most boring films ever unleashed upon the innocent movie-watcher.

Scenes drag on and on with absolutely nothing happening in them--like the one where a couple of characters stare at a painting for what seems like FOREVER. One would think that in a film with no camera set-up lasting more than 30 seconds that they would have picked up the pace a bit. Even more damning, almost every character in the film is either unpleasant or apparently stupid.

And none are more unpleasant than the character who is supposed to be the film's hero, family man Mike. He is such a collossal jerk that, when he and his family get lost on the back roads, he forces himself upon the hospitality of the freakish Torgo... over both the objections of his wife and Torgo; and Torgo gives the best objection of all--the owner of the property will be angry that they're staying there. And to add injury to rudeness, he lets Torgo--who can barely walk--carry his luggage for him. Because even though they're unwelcome guests who are there for just one night, this family must apparently unpack. Finally, Mike turns out to be incompetent as well as obnoxious, as the bad end that his family comes to is absolutely, 100 percent his fault when he fails to lead them to safety or to even shoot The Master at point blank range.

And then there's the cult leader, the Master. I really, truly hope that they have him at least say "talk to the hand" once in the sequel. The fact that he worships Hand ("Manos" is Spanish for "Hand") and wears robes with red fingers on them makes it a joke that MUST be made. And just what is the connection between having a bunch of wives and worshipping the Hand? I would have thought that a bunch of wives would mean you didn't have to rely on your hand for certain kinds of pleasures... the again, maybe I have the wrong idea about polygamy. Maybe the amount of sex you get decreases in direct proportion to the number of pissed off women living in your household? (And I just grossed myself out there, because by the end of the movie, The Master has "married" a 9-year-old girl. But if pedophilia works for Mohammed and Roman Polanski, I suppose it's no surprise it works for The Master.)

The most bizarre aspect of this picture is that The Master's freakish assistant Torgo--who is supposed to be a satyr. but who ends up looking more like a guy with really huge knees than someone with goat legs--emerges as the closest thing to a sympathetic character this film has to offer. Everyone is always picking on Torgo, so we are almost cheering for him when he stands up for himself--those of us who haven't fallen asleep from boredom that is. (Of course, the sympathy is only generated because there is no one else in the film to care about--except maybe the little girl, but she is a non-entity, portrayed by a child actress who clearly received little or no direction and who was in a role that's badly written. Torgo, as much as we appreciate his rebellion when it comes, is a perverted rapist who only does what he does because he wants a woman to dominate; as he says, it's not fair The Master has several and Torgo has none.

I just wrote far more on this movie than it deserves. It is technically incompetent on every level. It even manages to make a cat-fight among cute chicks boring. The only halfway decent thing about the film is "Torgo's Theme."

Okay... I said halfway decent. At least it was covered nicely in the music videos produced by the creators of the forthcoming sequel. And, for once, it is almost guaranteed that the sequel will be far better than the original. (I wonder, though, if it too is being made because someone is trying to win a bet. That was what led to the creation of "Manos: The Hands of Fate"... a Texas fertilizer sales man bet a screenwriter that he could make a movie, because it can be that hard. While he DID make a movie--that in and of itself is a feat; how many dreamers never even start a film and how many must abandon their project due to lack of funding or other difficulties? As bad as "Manos" is, Harold P. Warren made his movie AND got it distributed. For a time. Then its reputation caught up with it.

I don't usually recommend this, but if you haven't seen "Manos" yet, and want to subject yourself to it, you should get the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" version. They've abridged some of the most boring sequences, and Joel and the robots also bring a bit of life to it. Failing that, get the double-feature I've linked to; at least then you'll have a second, more entertaining flick to watch when you tire of "Manos: The Hands of Fate."