Archive for the Bad Films I Love Category

RIP Conrad Brooks

Posted in Bad Films I Love, Bela & Boris, RIP with tags on December 6, 2017 by MONSTERMINIONS

William Grefe

Posted in Bad Films I Love, Old School with tags on April 13, 2016 by MONSTERMINIONS

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!

 
IMDb Bio

What do Reptilicus and the Gargantuas have in common?

Posted in Bad Films I Love, Cult Movies, Kaiju, Miscellania with tags , on November 16, 2015 by MONSTERMINIONS

Reptilicus

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.

war_of_the_gargantuas

The latent regenerative power of Reptilicus!

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 6.37.42 PM

Reptilicus Program

 

Thoughts on Manos HD/Bluray

Posted in Bad Films I Love, Cult Movies with tags , on October 14, 2015 by MONSTERMINIONS

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.

Body of Prey (1966), aka The Revenge of Doctor X / Revenge of the Venus Flytrap (1970)

Posted in Bad Films I Love with tags , , , on June 23, 2015 by MONSTERMINIONS

Your father will be the rain! Your powers are lighting!

FLYTRAP

Wait a minute! This title credit isn’t from 1966 or 1970… This was done with a computer! What gives?

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.

FLYTRAP ALL THE WAY FROM NORTH CAROLINAThe 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.
BABY FLYTRAP

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….”

FLYTRAP_GIANT PLANT

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.

FLYTRAP_NUDES

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.

FLYTRAP_HEAD

Eat that goat!

FLYTRAP_EAT THE GOATFlytrap! Top 10 worst films ever made.

Blood Freak (1972)

Posted in Bad Films I Love with tags , on November 24, 2014 by MONSTERMINIONS

Blood Freak_Titles

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).

King of the Jungle

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_Turkeys

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.

Blood Freak_Happy Thanksgiving

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.

Blood Freak

Eventually Herschell gets his revenge and plops the main pusher on a radial table saw.

Blood Freak_Turkey Monster

Ahhhahhhahhhhaaahhhhaaaaaaaahhh.

Blood Freak_Table Saw Death

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.

Blood Freak_Brad Ginter

Revenge of the Spacemen (2014)

Posted in Bad Films I Love, Flying Saucers with tags , on October 6, 2014 by MONSTERMINIONS

Revenge of the Spacemen_TitlesI have never agreed with the brothers Medved assessment of Edward D. Wood, Jr. being the worst director of all time.  As a writer Wood penned horrendous dialogue and was as bad behind a lens.  Like Howard Hawks, Wood prefered a stationary camera, but unlike Hawks, his films often wandered out of focus. A few of his films are just terrible, including Glen or Glenda (1953) and the unwatchable Night of the Ghouls (1959). Bride of the Monster (1955) is his best film, which isn’t saying much, but it does have footage of Belá Lugosi and Tor Johnson, who make it interesting. And then there is Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), undoubtedly Wood’s most entertaining film, featuring cardboard props, paper plate flying saucers (I always thought they looked like hub caps), inept dialogue, terrible editing, ridiculous situations and bad acting. However, Wood did something where several others failed. He made films in Hollywood. That’s saying a lot.  It’s unfair to call him the worst director of all time.

When I review a film I assess the film in context with the budget. Effective films made for nearly nothing like The Blair Witch Project (1999) and Gareth Edwards’ Monsters (2010) score high on my list, whereas 100 million dollar messes don’t. That is one of the reasons I skewered the promising and hugely disappointing Godzilla (2014).

I have a soft spot for independently made low-budget regional fantasy films.  I like the atrociously bad Swamphead (2013), filmed in Wisconsin, and I like Jay Summer’s sci-fi parody Revenge of the Spacemen (2014).

Spacemen_Story Credits

Two years ago at the Cinema Wasteland Show, Strongsville, Ohio, Jay approached me about helping develop a story treatment for an homage to the 50’s teenager vs. aliens films.  This is a broad sub-genre basically pitting hipster teens, inept adults and authority figures (cops or military ilk) against  blobs, little green men in space suits, or rubber creatures. In Spacemen, you’ll see elements of Teenagers from Outer Space (1959), The Blob (1958), Invaders from Mars (1953), a later entry, Spaced Invaders (1990), the immensely entertaining Pandemic Studios game Destroy All Humans (2005-2008), and Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957). I worked up a 10-page treatment that expanded upon Jay’s premise of a rural Ohio family, fetching shotguns and at odds with a spaceship full of little green men.  I added the moonshine loving characters Cooter Ray (Richard Raphael, Zombie Apocalypse, 2010) and Catfish Bob (named after one of my friends father-in-law). Cooter Ray and Catfish Bob were inspired by the bumbling and bickering Tahei and Matashichi from The Hidden Fortress (1958). [There, I’ve done it! I’ve managed to include Kurosawa in a review of Spacemen]. My treatment also included the notion *SPOILER* of alcohol being caustic to the spacemen.  I also added the rock-n-roller Ozzy and perhaps a per other characters.

George spots the saucer.

However, the story was rough and Jay sent it off to Conor Duffy who developed the final script.  Most of the dialogue was developed by Conor. Spacemen is an amateur film, but it has moments.  The flying saucer (a model kit of the Forbidden Planet C-57D) sat in my basement for 6 years. I like the special effects by Rockets & Monsters Makeup and Prosthetics, who added lights to the ship and created some effective green screen shots (check out MT Morgue LLC on Facebook).  Some of the night scenes of the aliens in silhouette are creepy.

Spaceman

The story has three basic plot threads. The hick Johnson clan, lead by beer-guzzling Mrs. Johnson (Janine Sarnowski) battle the spacemen who have landed on their farm.  Teens George (George Tutie), Janet (Janet Jay, a Cinema Wasteland regular), Ozzy, and a few others independently take on the aliens while drinking PBR.  Cooter Ray and Catfish meet the aliens and Ray gets anal-probed, resulting in a trip to the doctor (who’s a hoot) and one of the more entertaining bits in the movie.

There’s also two cops, two romances, alien-human sex, a green horse, Mika the Racoon, Jake the Wonder Dog (who eats an anal probe), and a bizarre Benny Hill inspired slap-stick scene played to the tune of Boots Randolph’s Yakety Sax.  The film has everything.  Keep in mind this is ultra-low budget and disjointed filmmaking. My girlfriend called it an abomination with too much [green] fart humor.  This is basically the hack version of Blazing Saddles in Ohio.

Catfish Bob and Cooter Ray encounter the spacemen.

Catfish Bob and Cooter Ray

Cooter takes fire.

Rich Raphael_Cooter Ray

Civil engineer and part-time actor/stunt-coordinator Rich Raphael will never be mistaken for Laurence Olivier, but he is always entertaining.  I liked him as Axel in Zombie Apocalypse (2010). In Spacemen he really cuts lose on the material, getting anal-probed by aliens “with their green wandering hands”, expels a bovine’s worth of green methane, has green glop squeezed out of an abscess, has a probe pulled from his “backdoor”, downs a medicinal beer and proclaims “booyah”, and probes an alien. That’s quite a responsibility.

Cooter Ray Glop Scene

Mrs. Johnson (Janine Sarnowski) encounters her green horse.

Spacemen_Horse

Behold a spaceman brandishing an anal-probe.

Prober

For all the schlock, Revenge of the Spacemen has some decent amateur acting.  I thought the core group delivered convincing lines (there were a few stumbles). George Tutie and Janet Jay were likable as the leads and are probably the most capable actors.  I’d like to see them return in another film. Fred Munkachy seems to have delivered his lines with gusto and was fine as Taggart the cop.  Rich Raphael is a presence in any film as far as I’m concerned.  He’s entertaining.

There’s also way too many characters in this film and by the end it comes apart. I would have preferred the film played more subtle (the opening scenes of the spacemen in shadow are effective), with diminutive aliens not prominently shown.  I would have preferred seeing three well-designed aliens rather than 12 clumsy ones, but why quibble? Sci-Fi/Comedy is a difficult genre to nail.  Spacemen is parody and a lot of fun.  Grab some moonshine and popcorn and enjoy.

This film premiered at the Cinema Wasteland Show on October 4, 2014.  I was there and loved every minute of it.

The Kids

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3361192/

DVDs COMING SOON