Shitty Movie Sundays: Enter the Ninja, or, The Colonials are Having a Tiff

Enter the Ninja, the 1981 karate flick from legendary producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, is just about the quintessential movie from The Cannon Group, Golan-Globus’s company. Cannon is synonymous with shitty cinema, alongside other giants as Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, American International Pictures, and Dino De Laurentiis. Like these examples, not everything Cannon made was shit, but enough was for the reputation to be deserved. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Enter the Ninja, or, The Colonials are Having a Tiff”

October Horrorshow: The Prowler, aka Rosemary’s Killer

Tom Savini is a horror legend. He’s every bit as important to the history of the genre as some of its greatest auteurs. Without Savini, George Romero’s 1970s and ’80s horror work wouldn’t have the same punch. It was Savini’s expertise that allowed Joe Pilato’s torso to be pulled to pieces in Day of the Dead, and Don Keefer to be dragged into a crate and mutilated by a Tasmanian devil in Creepshow. Savini is an artist in the medium of fake blood. And while his work elevated good horror movies, it also made obscure horror flicks, like Maniac, worth watching for the effects alone. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Prowler, aka Rosemary’s Killer”

October Horrorshow: Ghostkeeper

From our neighbors in the Great White North comes Ghostkeeper, a creepy little flick about a group of vacationers stranded at an old hotel in the Canadian Rockies. Released in 1981, Ghostkeeper was directed by Jim Makichuk from a screenplay by Makichuk and Doug MacLeod.

The film stars Riva Spier, Murray Ord, and Sheri McFadden as Jenny, Marty, and Chrissy. They’ve come to the Rockies as part of a group celebrating the new year at a lodge. It’s New Year’s Eve day, and before the festivities in the evening, the three decide to do some snowmobiling in the area. They find a road going up into the woods, and being curious sorts, decide to see where it goes. The snow-covered road leads to a hotel, seemingly abandoned. Meanwhile, the weather turns bad and the three decide they need to take shelter in the old hotel (played by Deer Lodge in Banff). Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Ghostkeeper”

October Horrorshow: Burial Ground, aka The Nights of Terror

What a gloriously shitty movie. Burial Ground, also released under a number of different titles, is an Italian horror gore-fest from 1981. Director Andrea Bianchi crafted a flick that ticks off just about all the boxes when it comes to shitty Italian cinema. The film stock is cheap, the dubbing sucks, there are numerous overlong shots used to mask a distinct lack of plot, et cetera. It really is a wonderful example of bad cinema of the era, taking its place alongside anything from Shitty Movie Sundays favorite Enzo G. Castellari. But, it also has the added benefit of being somewhat watchable. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Burial Ground, aka The Nights of Terror”

Stallone Month: Victory, aka Escape to Victory

The Vietnam War wreaked havoc on the United States — its sense of self-worth; its trust in leadership, both civilian and military; and its ideas of what constitute heroism. Vietnam was the first war we fought where the awful violence wasn’t hidden from us. It was also our first tick in the loss column. There are a whole host of complex emotions that war put us through. It’s no surprise, then, that war films made after the Vietnam War ended are quite different than those that came before. There were still a few holdouts, however — anachronisms from the earlier style. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Victory, aka Escape to Victory”

Stallone Month: Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are…NIGHTHAWKS!

Nighthawks, the 1981 film from director Bruce Malmuth and screenwriter David Shaber, sets itself up as a gritty New York City crime drama. The opening features blighted locations from the city’s darkest days, there’s a strong and stupidly simple anti-drug message, and there’s even a police lieutenant with a strong temper. I was expecting a cross between Dirty Harry and The French Connection with that setup. But instead of chasing after some drug lords or a typical big city psycho, the heroes of Nighthawks, NYPD Detective Sergeants Deke DaSilva and Matthew Fox (Sly and Williams), are drafted into a new unit that is after terrorists. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are…NIGHTHAWKS!”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Last Shark, aka Great White

Oh, Enzo G. Castellari, I’m so glad I found you. Shitty Movie Sundays has been further enlightened by your presence. Master of schlock, minister of exploitation, employer of flamethrowers, you can be counted among the progenitors of the mockbuster, those sad, cash grab excuses for films. It seems your only purpose as a filmmaker was to piggyback on the accomplishments of others, and prey upon an audience that didn’t realize what your producers were selling. Who would have thought that so many decades after your heyday, there would be people like me seeking out your films — not only to mock and deride, but to enjoy? Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: The Last Shark, aka Great White”

The Empty Balcony: Thief

Thief, the debut feature film from writer/director Michael Mann, is a bit of a relic. The 1980s were a weird time, when the progressions of style were suddenly upended and everything went day-glo. Even music changed, utilizing the cost-effective yet grating sound of synthesizers. Michael Mann embraced this decade with gusto, finding a ready home in all the glitz and glamour. His style of filmmaking is so intertwined with the 1980s that I can’t figure out which informed the other. The style is a distinctive one that viewers can readily recognize. But it all had to start somewhere. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Thief”

October Horrorshow: Galaxy of Terror

Roger Corman is a Hollywood legend. Some of the biggest names in the business went through his gristmill. Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron, and more, all spent early portions of their careers under Corman. But, I’m not convinced that Corman is a visionary. His flicks represent the basest elements of filmmaking, crafted to make a quick buck, and not much else. Because of that, I would say that I find more Corman influence in films by The Asylum and their ilk, rather than Oscar winners like The Godfather. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Galaxy of Terror”