Good shot of director and jack of all trades William Grefe at Cinema Wasteland, April 2016. Bill dropped by our table and shared stories about rattlesnakes, sharks, giant jellyfish monsters, bikers, and shooting gorilla-style in Florida. Good show Bill!
Archive for the Bad Films I Love Category
Back in the heady days of the 1970’s, I largely existed on an UHF-fed stream of horror, fantasy and sci-fi films emanating from Chicagoland television transmitters. My favorite genre has always been giant monsters and on one particular evening I was faced with every monster movie kid’s dilemma: two cinematic jaugernauts were being broadcast at the same time. This was a time anticipating the wide-spread occurrence of video and videotape capabilities. There was no taping. There was no Tivo. There were no VHS or Beta tapes. No laserdiscs, DVD or Blurays. We circled what films were obvious gems in the TV guide and waited patiently and hoped none of the films overlapped.
On this day Reptilicus was playing on one station and a ridiculously dubbed print of War of the Gargantuas (which I had never seen) on another. Oh no!!! What will I do? All I could do was flip back and forth between channels. As I sat there watching dual films unfold my mom made a comment that is forever branded into my memory.
She said this:
“Oh, how odd… What are the chances of us watching two movies at the same time on different channels, yet both featuring monsters capable of regenerating their limbs?”
I was floored. Regeneration -the mind boggles.
Later, as I grew more sophisticated I learned of more regenerative monsters, such as The Blob, John Carpenter’s The Thing, The Green Slime, and others. I even learned that if you carefully slice a member of the Planariidae between the eyes, you’ll end up with a two-headed flatworm.
Those were good times. Now we don’t have to flip channels back and forth, but some of the magic has gone wayside. I miss those days.
The latent regenerative power of Reptilicus!
Oh man. What was I thinking? For some inexplicable reason I assumed that a remastered Bluray version of MANOS would magically convert it into a remotely watchable and entertaining film. I was so wrong. This film cannot be saved. If anything the cleanup and “HD” transfer reveals even more grain, more moths, more clapper boards, more ineptitude…. MTHOF sucks and I’m out $14.99 and I ALMOST forked out $25 for this piece of shit at the Synapse table at Cinema Wasteland.
Your father will be the rain! Your powers are lighting!
Oh my. This is a hard one to write about.
About every ten years or so I discover a film so bad I am mesmerized and left stunned that such a film actually exists. These are the films with inept dialogue, out of focus or poorly composed photography, terrible acting, poor production values and direction by people better suited for selling fertilizer. In the 70’s I discovered The Incredible Petrified World (1957), which is my vote for the most boring film ever made. In the 80’s, brothers Medved introduced me to Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) and Robot Monster (1953), which are terrible films but at least entertaining. In the 90’s, I watched Bio-Drome (1996), which my dad called the worst movie he had ever seen — “El grande stencho“!”
Along the way I was introduced to a film called Manos: The Hand of Fate (1966), which was actually a government experiment levied upon the public to induce and assess narcolepsy in movie-goers. The millenium opened with Battlefield Earth (2000), which is my vote for the worst expensive film ever made, and Road to Perdition (2002), which along with Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), the only films I have ever walked out on. Now, in 2015, I discover Revenge of the Venus Flytrap (1970) on an Alpha Home Entertainment double bill DVD with Larry Buchanon’s In the Year 2889 (1967). Revenge of the Flytrap? What the hell is this? Alpha notes the film was written by the notorious Edward D. Wood, Jr. I quickly forked out $10 to one of Ron Adams henchman and was the proud owner of perhaps the all-time worst DVD double-bill ever pressed.
The film stars James Craig (The Devil and Daniel Webster, 1941; The Cyclops, 1957), who looks and barks like Richard Boone with a dash of pencil-thin mustached Lon Chaney, circa mid-1940’s Universal Inner Sanctum series. Craig plays Dr. Alex Bragan, a high-strung rocket scientist who takes his boss’s advice and takes a break with a trip to North Carolina and later to Japan. While in North Carolina he digs up (in a cattail marsh!) a Venus Flytrap specimen and carts it back home. There he nurtures it and takes it on a trip to Japan, where he expands his vacation as a mad scientist botanist who splices a Venus Flytrap with a Japanese marine flytrap (WTF) and some of his own blood and there you go.
Before I get too far, I should point out that you won’t find an IMDb entry for “Body of Prey” (the films original title) or “Revenge of Doctor X” or “Revenge of the Venus Flytrap” (Alpha’s concocted title) or “The Double Garden” yet another release name. It is listed on IMDb as Venus Flytrap. There’s not much written about it, but internet sleuthing and a fine review by Dave Sindelar on the MKCHF, reveals the film’s rich and confusing production history. Frankly, I am amazed it reached a DVD pressing. I don’t know if this was penned by Ed Wood, Jr or not and it really doesn’t matter. This film is BAD anyway you look at it. Basically this piece of crap sat in a warehouse and was never finished. After being found (a found footage film!) various releases in the public domain were cut claiming different “talents” with artistic provenance (“directed by Eddie Romero”). The dialogue is so strange I wouldn’t be surpised if the film is traced back to Wood —”Unless I miss my guess, my creation is so powerful now it could devour anything….”
About the only thing noteworthy in this film is a few shots of topless Japanese diver girls and one insanely inept monster that looks like an onion blossom with dreadlocks on a human torso with red catchers gloves for hands. Wow.
Still, Revenge of the Venus Fly Trap is a lot of fun, playing like a twisted amalgamation of Day of the Triffids, The Bride of Frankenstein, Mutations, Zaat (1971), and The Terror Beneath the Sea (1966). But don’t for a minute think that this makes for a good film. Don’t bite on this tantalizing image of a monster with an inverted rutabaga for a head. Don’t you do it. Don’t buy this DVD HERE for $5.99.
Eat that goat!
FAITH… All the faith I had I lost it…
– Herschell, from Blood Freak
Blood Freak (1972) is without a doubt one of cinema’s true oddities and a Thanksgiving holiday treat. Well, not really a treat, but it certainly garners my vote, along with the marionette puppet The Giant Claw and the amphibious hotdog creature from Horror of Party Beach as having one of the most ridiculous monsters of all-time. I’m willing to guess that actor and co-writer-director-producer Steve Hawkes was inspired by earlier H.G. Lewis and David F. Friedman concoctions such as Blood Feast, 1963, which Blood Freak resembles in tone, pacing and ineptitude (the acting is atrociously bad), but Freak takes the gore genre to a whole new level due to a bizarre anti-drug narrative by chain-smoking soft-core porn nudist Brad Grinter and one humdinger of a papier mâché (that’s what it looks like to me) turkey monster head (Flickr aficionado Bonemask even has the vinyl figure).
The mastermind behind Freak was Croatian-born Canadian actor Stjepan “Steve” Šipek who went by the stage name of Steve Hawkes. He starred in at least two Tarzan-type films, beginning with the Spanish-made Tarzán en la gruta del oro / King of the Jungle / Tarzan in the Golden Grotto (1969). In a follow-up film, Sipek was severely burned in a fire during principle photography and was allegedly rescued by a trained lion (an Edgar Rice Boroughs fan site has a detailed writeup on Sipek).
After the incident, Sipek vowed to take care of big cats and established a somewhat dubious wildlife sanctuary in Loxahatchee, Florida. Back in 2010, ABC ran a story on Sipek’s love for big cats, and I wonder if Blood Freak was created to help fund his sanctuary. There’s a painting of a tiger hanging on a wall in one of the drug party scenes, and I can’t help but think the scene was shot in Sipek’s residence.
Blood Freak is the story of straight-laced drifter and Vietnam veteran Herschell (Steve Hawkes) who picks up a girl and get’s a job at her father’s poultry farm. Along the way he gets addicted to narcotics and agrees to sample experimental turkeys developed by the U.S. Government. He gradually undergoes a metamorphosis into a bipedal turkey monster or Blood Freak, with the body of a man and head of a turkey. The monster is something to behold. Think of Michael Myers wearing a plaster/mâché head that looks more akin to an alien in a Mos Eisley space-port than a turkey.
Herschell then goes on a bloody killing spree where he hoists victims upside down and drains blood from the bodies by slicing their necks. He then gobbles away drinking their blood. These scenes are unintentionally hilarious with gorgeous saturated red paint spurting from the victims.
Eventually Herschell gets his revenge and plops the main pusher on a radial table saw.
What really makes this film so bizarre is the overt political message that doesn’t jive with the visceral imagery of the film. One moment a character is talking about spiritual salvation and the next moment the Herschell Turkey is carving up a drug addict. Is it a gore film with a message? Something Weird Video (the lone distributor of the film) calls it “The world’s only turkey-monster-anti-drug-pro-Jesus-gore film”. It’s one of the strangest films ever made.
And this has been a story based partly on fact and partly on probability but the horrors that occurred in the minds of those who allow the indiscriminate use of the human body as a mixing bowl for drugs and chemicals are as real as the real horror…. So, when you eat or take into your body any chemical or drugs you take a chance on a reaction that are not tested…. unpredictable…. have a happy ending …Cough cough cough….
-Brad Grinter, the narrator/co-director/writer, etc. etc.etc.
My friend Joe discovered this Wisconsin-made indie monstrosity at the Cinema Wasteland con. I couldn’t resist and picked up the autographed (“Get Some Head”) Collector’s Edition DVD from Briarwood Entertainment. Swamphead (2013) is a funny, potentially offensive, and definitely vulgar hommage to countless floating head films from the 50’s-70’s. The film has a 80’s vibe to it with characters dressed in rugby jerseys, big glasses and cinematography with numerous point of view steady cam shots. It is worth a peak, but don’t invite your grandmother.
The story is simple enough —a diver finds an ancient dagger at the bottom of a midwestern lake.
The relic unleashes the floating pissed-off disconnected head of Robert Gross (aka Swamphead) who seeks out and chews up everything including a dog, a Cabelas deer target, and several stupid teenagers. The first victim is the diver who proudly displays the dagger on a shelf. The guys is shredded in a swimming pool by Swamphead. This prompts a hilarious forensic investigation and floating turd inspection.
“….and I don’t want anything falling through the cracks….”
The severed head of Robert Gross goes on a killing rampage. In all of filmdom I can say with certainty that I’ve never seen anything quite like Swamphead. I love how he shakes with rage and lunges forward like one of the killer lepus in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). Swamphead doesn’t hold back −the movie is right in your face with this incredible prosthetic head that just demolishes flesh. Rrrrrraaaaarrrrr.
Directors Justin Propp and Dustin Drover have actually fabricated a fairly entertaining movie, probably best viewed after drinking several beers. Hey, I didn’t spot a single suspension wire! I wish I had seen the morning screening with fans at Cinema Wasteland. My only complaint would be the reliance on poop humor throughout most of the film. I’m not a big fan of poop. However, if you are looking for a film about a ravenous pissed-off head then this is your film.
Plus it has the immortal line:
Damn you Swamphead!