Shitty Movie Sundays: Damnation Alley, or, RVing the Apocalypse

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 readingShitty Movie Sundays: Damnation Alley, or, RVing the Apocalypse”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Detour

What viewers have with Detour, the 1945 flick from screenwriter Martin Goldsmith (adapting his own novel) and director Edgar G. Ulmer, is drive-in schlock disguised as film noir.

Tom Neal plays Al Roberts, a nightclub piano player in New York City. He’s in a relationship with singer Sue Harvey (Claudia Drake). She gets bitten by the California bug and leaves New York to try and make it big in Los Angeles. Not long after, Al, penniless and unhappy with playing in clubs, decides to hitchhike across the country to join his love in sunny LA. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Detour”

Giant Monstershow: Monsters

And so we’ve reached the end of the October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow. For the last month, we’ve seen giant apes, giant dinosaurs, giant insects, giant arachnids, giant men, giant lizards, giant gelatinous masses, giant leeches, giant rats, giant rabbits, giant birds, and even giant shrews. We’ve seen so many giant creatures of so many shapes and forms that the word ‘giant’ has become subject to semantic satiation. It’s become a mere shape in the text, devoid of all but intrinsic meaning. Still, we soldier on until the job is finished. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: Monsters”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Best Friends

I knew nothing about this film when I began watching it. I found it on a YouTube channel that collects old grindhouse and drive-in movies that have fallen into the public domain. That copy was crap, but being in the public domain meant that the film could be found elsewhere. Amazon Prime has a much better quality copy, so should one actually want to seek out and watch this turd, I recommend doing so on Amazon. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Best Friends”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Summer City

Summer CityThis 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 readingShitty Movie Sundays: Summer City”

The Empty Balcony: The Rover

I love a good post-apocalyptic tale. I have a pessimist’s fascination with the myriad ways everything can go wrong. Global catastrophe for the human race holds the same place in my mind as standing at the edge of a precipice and picturing flying off into the void. This isn’t a sign of some psychological damage or misfiring neurons. This isn’t a mental illness or a death wish. It’s just human nature to be drawn in wonder to these things. Some of us feel the pull more than others, but that doesn’t mean we want it to happen. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: The Rover”

October Horrorshow: From Dusk Till Dawn, or, a Tale of Two Movies

From Dusk Till DawnOctober has come again. It being the month of Halloween, we at Missile Test choose to celebrate by watching and reviewing horror films. Ah, blood. There just can’t be enough in October. Today’s selection has plenty of it, even though it’s mostly green. But what the hell, it’s all in fun.

Quentin Tarantino was riding high after the success of Pulp Fiction, a film that had a strong case for winning Best Picture at the Oscars the year it came out. Was it Tarantino’s youth which kept his opus from taking home the top prize? Who knows? Some of the competition were no slouches in their own right, but none broke any new ground, nor did they spawn a whole genre of imitations that crop up in cinema to this day (just like Alien and all its clones). And the winner that year, Forrest Gump, felt like little more than the Baby Boomers trying to justify their actions in retrospect by infusing their youths with blandness and innocence, when naiveté (with a sharp edge, at least) would have been a more apt description. This trivializes the profound role they played in turning public opinion against the war in Vietnam, but their role was not nearly as important as that played by the news media who brought home the images of war to the American public. The youth had always been suspicious, and were never onboard with the war policy from the beginning, but every other demographic in America couldn’t have given two shits if we had been winning the war instead of losing it. Anyway, I honestly can’t tell if that film was an apology to their parents or an apology to the directionless void of malaise left behind by their sudden thrust into real adulthood that was then passed on to their slacker Gen X children. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: From Dusk Till Dawn, or, a Tale of Two Movies”

October Horrorshow: Zombieland

The zombie apocalypse has struck again, this time in director Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland. Bad meat was the culprit this go around, spreading a virus throughout the population that turns otherwise normal people into ravenous cannibals. That’s good for the audience, bad for the characters who inhabit the former United States, re-imagined as a nation/amusement park of the undead in the mind of Columbus, the movie’s main protagonist, played by Jesse Eisenberg. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Zombieland”

The Empty Balcony: Excalibur & Monty Python and the Holy Grail

VHS tapes, once upon a time, dominated the space below millions of televisions in American homes. They were in your house, a friend’s house, a family member’s house, stacked tall and deep in all sorts of cabinets upon which the TV was perched — cheap particle board constructions bought at the local big box with fake wood grain or flat black veneer, peeling up at the edges always. That awful furniture can still be found. The shapes have just changed a bit as tapes have disappeared and been replaced by DVD boxes. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Excalibur & Monty Python and the Holy Grail”