Shitty Movie Sundays: City on Fire

It was not just Irwin Allen who could make a shitty disaster movie. There are always plenty of filmmakers in Hollywood with big, but slightly blurred, vision. The spectacle is the thing, accompanied by a bevy of stars, past and present, willing to slum it in something crummy.

City on Fire, from 1979, is a joint Canadian-American production from director Alvin Rakoff, from a script by notable blaxploitation filmmaker Jack Hill, David P. Lewis, and Céline La Frenière. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: City on Fire”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Shape of Things to Come

A lot of filmmakers in the late 1970s wanted to get some of that sweet, sweet Star Wars money. That resulted in shitty cinema being overrun with Star Wars ripoffs — some much better than others. At the bottom of the scale is something like Cosmos: War of the Planets, while today’s film, The Shape of Things to Come, is about as compelling a ripoff as shitty cinema managed to produce. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: The Shape of Things to Come”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Meteor

MeteorAmerican International Pictures is mostly associated with 1950’s and ’60s b-movie fare, most notably the works of Roger Corman. But the ’70s were no less of a productive decade for AIP than were the ’50s and ’60s. In that mustard yellow decade of Nixon, Ford, and Carter, AIP produced or distributed many of the notable films in the blaxploitation genre, while keeping to its horror and regular exploitation roots with such titles as The Incredible Melting Man and 1000 Convicts and a Woman. One thing all AIP flicks seem to have in common is a desire to make a quick buck while not being beholden to any higher purpose in cinema. That makes any viewer not just a customer of AIP, but something of a mark. There is a minimum expectation of quality in any random American film audience, despite what others think about our culture, and it was the rare AIP flick that managed to meet this standard, nor did they try. Meteor, distributed by AIP, is an excellent case in point. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Meteor”

Stallone Month: Rocky II, or, Mediocre Rocky

Hollywood legend is replete with stories of Sylvester Stallone’s efforts to get Rocky made. Part of the fable is that Sly wanted to direct, but eventually had to agree to hand directorial duties over to someone with experience. Sly kept the starring role and Rocky was his screenplay, but John G. Avildsen sat in the director’s chair. The resulting film won Best Picture and Director, plus Best Film Editing, at the Academy Awards. When it came time for a sequel, however, Sly used the capital he had earned to secure the directing gig in addition to starring and screenwriting roles, after Avildsen declined to direct due to a scheduling conflict. The result is a film identical in theme, plot, location, and stars to Rocky, but which is inferior in execution. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Rocky II, or, Mediocre Rocky”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Beyond the Poseidon Adventure

Today Shitty Movie Sundays is featuring another Irwin Allen disaster flick. What makes this one different is that Allen wasn’t just the producer of today’s film. He also directed. It wasn’t his first time in the director’s chair, having helmed a couple of halfway decent sci-fi flicks in the past. But, I don’t think it would have made much difference who was at the helm for this stinker. John Ford could have directed this flick and it still would be packed to the gills with stupid. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Beyond the Poseidon Adventure”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Disaster on the Coastliner

I miss movies like 1979’s Disaster on the Coastliner. Once upon a time, before they started getting killed by cable, American TV networks used to fill empty spots in their schedules with homegrown shitty movies. Turn on one of the networks on a Sunday night and there was likely to be some quickie disaster flick or an epic miniseries adaptation of a Gore Vidal or James Clavell novel. This stuff was absolute garbage but also absolutely unmissable. Shogun, North and South, The Thorn Birds, The Big One, The Day After...on and on. The networks developed a short-form storytelling pedigree that they seem to have abandoned overnight. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Disaster on the Coastliner”

October Horrorshow: Dracula (1979)

I’ve seen hundreds of horror films. And I’ve seen more Dracula films than I can either count or name. But until recently, I had no idea that this version of the oft-filmed tale existed. This Dracula is so lost to the digital history of cinema that when I searched for it on IMDb, I had trouble locating its page. I have a hard time understanding why. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Dracula (1979)”

The Empty Balcony: Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now dropped into my cinematic experience like a bomb. When I was a teenager, I had been vaguely aware that it was a film about the Vietnam War, but I thought nothing more about it other than that it had an interesting title. I had seen other Vietnam War films, notably Platoon and Full Metal Jacket, and felt like I was familiar with the material I would see in Apocalypse Now, so there was no great rush on my part to seek it out. Also, there wasn’t anyone my age (somewhere in the early years of high school, I’m not exactly sure when) who had seen it, so there weren’t any peer recommendations or condemnations to go with the film. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Apocalypse Now”

October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Alien

Always beware when a series of films has been labeled a franchise. Often it can mean that any effort to bring quality to the screen has been abandoned to embrace the industry’s insulting perceptions of mass taste. Such has been the fate of the Alien series of movies. The last entry that remained within the original continuity, Alien: Resurrection, was so awful it effectively killed the series. Since then, it has truly embraced the franchise label, making reality longstanding plans to team up with the Predator franchise, following a trail the comic book wings of the two brands began blazing in the 1980’s. Continue reading “October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Alien”