Marlene Schmidt was on top of the world after winning the Miss Universe pageant in 1961. She later married TV cowboy Ty Hardin and moved to sunny California. The marriage did not last, but sometime thereafter she got the shitty movie bug, and teamed up with her new husband, Iraqi-born auteur Howard Avedis, to produce some hilarious sleaze. We here at Missile Test salute her and Howard, both. Immigrants living the American dream. Sure, they could never break into the big time, but everyone knows the fringes of the party are the best place to be.
From 1975 comes The Specialist, a neo-noir ersatz thriller adapted from a book by Ralph B. Potts. Potts also has a screenwriting credit alongside Avedis and Schmidt.
This is Potts’s only credit on IMDb. The book the film is adapted from is called Come Now the Lawyers, and, according to Potts’s obit in the Seattle Times, is a non-fiction history of the courts of the state of Washington. Only in the world of cinema could a work of history be twisted and turned into a shitty drive-in flick, with the participation of the author. It’s like Edward Gibbon working on the screenplay for Caligula.Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: The Specialist (1975)”
I’ve been cheated! The last, and only, time I saw Death Race 2000 before this latest viewing was in the far distant days of my youth, before the World Wide Web, when all snark had to be shared with those close to us. Friends, family, enemies, casual acquaintances — all near at hand to listen to our bullshit. Now, we are in the merciless grip of the Information Age, and I can share with the world the crime to which many, not just I, were subjected. For, the print I saw on television sometime during the Reagan administration had been ruthlessly cut for television. Gone was all the gratuitous nudity (understandable), but in its place, whoever prepared the film for TV had decided to just repeat footage. A viewer would watch David Carradine or Sly Stallone plow his car through a line of extras only to see the same footage again soon after. This happened many, many times. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Death Race 2000″
Often, it can seem as if the only b-movies that get made are throwaway attempts at a quick payday, à la something produced by George Weiss or Roger Corman. Occasionally, a shitty movie will have artistic pretensions. It will a be a filmmaker’s magnum opus or a collaborative stab at something meaningful — an earnest attempt at telling a story or making a statement. Earnestness is no sure sign of success, as today’s film would attest, but it’s also not something that can be dismissed out of hand. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Pick-up”
Crown International Pictures is a repository of crap. For some, that’s a bad thing. For shitty movie fans, we misguided many, that makes Crown something heroic. It’s too bad they went belly up in 1992.
Many, many years before that happened, however, in 1975, they graced us with a cheap Ocean’s 11 ripoff, wherein a hooker, a waitress, and a trapeze artist plan and execute a casino heist. There are even shades of Charlie’s Angels, as the trio are given their marching orders by a mysterious man who lurks in the shadows. Although, this flick came out a year before Charlie’s Angels premiered. Does that make this film groundbreaking? Hell, no. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Las Vegas Lady”
When a b-movie from 1975 has a title like Trip with the Teacher, all sorts of filthy stuff comes to mind. That decade remains amazing because of what filmmakers could get away with.
Written, produced, and directed by Earl Barton, Trip with the Teacher tells the story of four high school girls and their teacher on a bus trip into rural southern California or northern Baja. The idea is to get these girls some life experience outside of the sunny confines of Los Angeles. The teacher and her girls are: Miss Tenny (Brenda Fogarty), Bobbie (Dina Ousley), Julie (Cathy Worthington), Tina (Jill Voight), and Pam (Susan Russell). They are joined by a bus driver named Marvin (Jack Driscoll). Barton didn’t do much to differentiate the girls from one another. He just made sure to cast actresses who were pleasing to the eye. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Trip with the Teacher”
The October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow continues on with a putrid mess of a movie. From 1975, The Giant Spider Invasion comes to us via screenwriters Robert Easton and Richard L. Huff (who also produced). Bill Rebane handled the directing. According to the internet, so it must be true, this stupid movie, despite its low budget and general incompetence, was a moneymaker for Huff and company. How a movie this bad, starring a disguised Volkswagen as a giant spider, ended up being profitable is beyond me. It feels something of a crime against the art of film that this movie found success. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: The Giant Spider Invasion”
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 reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Best Friends”
Gene Hackman is still alive! As of this writing he is, anyway. Throughout his career, beginning with a bit role in something called Mad Dog Cole in 1961, to his final appearance in 2004’s Welcome to Mooseport, it was odd for a year to go by without multiple films featuring Hackman. But, after Mooseport, Hackman decided to retire. Too bad. Thank goodness, then, that Hackman plied his trade on the silver screen rather than on stage. His work is still available for all to see, including this little neo-noir flick that has slipped into some obscurity. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: Night Moves”
Alongside post-apocalyptic films, there exists another popular nihilistic genre of film — the dystopian tale. Civilization doesn’t have to have collapsed into a dense ball of suffering for the dystopian film to work. Rather, current mores and politics just need a little bit of tweaking and society becomes unrecognizable. Indeed, in some dystopian futures, it could be argued that humans are thriving. What is common in dystopian films is that some eroding of freedoms has occurred, brought on usually by technology, capitalism, communism, post-industrialism, or a conglomeration of every fear we have about the role of individuality in the future. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: Rollerball (1975) & Rollerball (2002)”
I couldn’t say how many times I’ve seen Jaws. It’s been so many times that the film feels like a familiar presence in my life. My first viewing was so long ago that it’s mostly faded back into the ether, consisting of little snippets that have been distorted by time. I remember that I was young, maybe five or six years old, and that my old man was there to make sure I covered my eyes during the gory bits. Was it irresponsible to let someone so young watch a movie featuring such gruesome scenes of death as Jaws? Well, it was rated PG, for Parental Guidance, and that’s just what I got. I was too young for the gore, but there were about 120 minutes of really good movie that wouldn’t cause nightmares, and that I got to see until I was old enough for the rest. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Jaws”