Jan-Michael Vincent is dead. He passed mostly unnoticed on February 10th, his death remaining unknown to the media for almost a month. He was, once upon a time, a middling star. His looks were better than his talent, but that’s just what Hollywood wants. His career was derailed by age and substance abuse, as happens to so many in the entertainment industry. He had many roles in mainstream films, but I will always remember him for his contributions to shitty cinema and television. In remembrance of Jan-Michael Vincent, here’s a review for a Vincent star vehicle, that also happened to be a pretty good shitty movie. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Damnation Alley, or, RVing the Apocalypse”
It’s a melancholy day for the October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow, for this is the last film of the month from giant monster auteur Bert I. Gordon. His peak days as a filmmaker were in the 1950s, but while Gordon’s pace of work slowed, he never went more than a few years without directing something. In 1977, that something was Empire of the Ants, also written by Gordon, loosely adapting the H.G. Wells story of the same name. Something of a follow-up to Gordon’s Food of the Gods, Empire of the Ants tells the story of a Florida real estate pitch gone wrong. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: Empire of the Ants”
Mario Bava was a giant of horror. His Black Sunday is an atmospheric horror classic that should be on any horror fan’s list of films to see. Shock, released in the United States as Beyond the Door II (it bears no relation to Beyond the Door — the title was strictly promotional), was Bava’s last film before his death. It’s not a bad way to go out, but it’s also a workaday horror film, missing the weirdness that made Bava’s other works, and Italian horror films in general, so special. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Shock, aka Beyond the Door II”
Should one not wish to be burdened by a sensible, interconnected plot, or by special effects that pass a minimum standard of acceptability, then has Missile Test got the movie for you. Cosmos: War of the Planets, also known by many other names, is one of the shittiest films to grace this site in a litany of shitty films. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Cosmos: War of the Planets, or, Shit Trek”
This flick is a bad one. This is one of those zero-budget plodding messes that would have found a ready home on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It’s one of those flicks that lacks most endearing characteristics, and only survives because it featured a future Hollywood star.
Summer City, from way back in 1977, is the first feature film on Mel Gibson’s IMDb page. He’s one of four main characters, all friends, who head out from 1950s Sydney for some fun and sun at an Australian beach.
How do I know the movie takes place in the 1950s? Director Christopher Fraser and producer/writer Phil Avalon helped us viewers with that, by providing an opening credits stock footage montage of scenes from the 1950s. This extensive sequence is amazing, because so much of the footage seems to have been chosen at random — the only prerequisite being that it looks like it was shot in the ’50s. How else to explain the repeated use of footage of a long-distance runner in training? It has nothing to do with the plot. This movie is about surfing blokes. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Summer City”
A viewer would hard-pressed to find a more beautifully shot, atmospheric horror film than Dario Argento’s Suspiria. Argento’s, and cinematographer Luciano Tovoli’s, vivid production has become legend among horror fans, and for good reason. The film exists within a reality all its own, shifting back and forth between dreamlike and nightmarish, soft and menacing, as the situation requires. No study of horror films, and film in general, is complete without seeing this classic. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Suspiria”
Tobe Hooper established his bona fides, and his place in film history, with his 1974 film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That film is such an icon of the genre that sequels and remakes are sometimes produced concurrently. People just can’t seem to get enough Leatherface. But, Hooper did find time to take part in other projects. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Eaten Alive, or, Avant-Garde Horror à la Texas”
Wes Craven used to have one hell of a mean streak. I don’t mean personally. I never met the man, and have never read or heard anything to disparage his character. I’m referring to his methods as a filmmaker, specifically his earlier films. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Hills Have Eyes”
Being a fan of shitty movies can be taxing. For one thing, not all shitty movies are alike. There are good shitty movies and bad shitty movies. But, since we’re not dealing with quality, the bad far outweighs the good. For every Commando there are about fifty Ghosts of Georgia. It’s almost like watching sports, in that regard. A hardcore sports fan will sit through game after game, investing vast amounts of time waiting for the handful of games in a season that are memorable. That’s what I do a couple of times a week, only with movies. I sit down, hoping to be entertained, but most of the time, I’m treated to a festival of bores. Not today. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Incredible Melting Man”
A person doesn’t have to have a massive ego to be a bodybuilder, but it helps. Pumping Iron is the most personal film in which Arnold Schwarzenegger has appeared, because the only character he is playing is himself. Throughout the film, a documentary on bodybuilding featuring Arnold, Lou Ferrigno, and many others, the question of Arnold’s authenticity hovers over everything. Early on, he describes his life as a constant state of euphoria. Between sex, the feeling he gets from working out in the gym, pumping up before a show, and posing in front of people, he is, in his words, “...cumming day and night. I mean, it’s terrific, right? So you know, I’m in heaven.” These are the words of enthused youth, maybe ignorant, maybe indifferent of how bizarre it is to equate one’s life with a never-ending stream of orgasms. What this part of the film, such a graphic picture of his happiness, says to me is that he thinks he is the greatest man on the earth, certainly better than anyone he has ever met. Later, he talks about his desire to be one of those rare individuals that history remembers. He even cites Jesus Christ as an example. Wow. What a massive, walloping, over-indulgent sense of self. It’s hardly an endearing trait, but in combination with his work ethic, it created quite a return on investment. Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: Pumping Iron”