October Horrorshow: Children of the Corn (1984)

This is a film that gave birth to ten, count them, ten, sequels and reboots? This mediocre, slapdash, and, at times, lazy film made enough money to spawn a franchise? There really is no accounting for taste.

From way back in 1984 comes the original Children of the Corn, an adaptation of a Stephen King short story. King worked up a draft for a screenplay, but producers ultimately went with a pile of pages written by George Goldsmith, with first-time director Fritz Kiersch at the helm. Kiersch was handed a budget of around $800k, and his gobbledegook somehow managed to rake in over 14 million bucks at the box office. That’s on us, folks. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Children of the Corn (1984)”

October Horrorshow: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

This film is a horror classic. It’s the most significant film from a director, Wes Craven, who made many significant contributions to the genre. It introduced audiences to an iconic horror villain in Freddy Krueger, and spawned a film franchise that chugged along nicely for about a decade until the wheels fell off. There’s not much more that Missile Test can add, other than to urge any horror fan who has not seen this movie, to do so when the chance arises. Still, I’ll try to get 600 words out of this review. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Executioner, Part II

“I wish this were coke! Oh, heavenly coke!”

So says Kitty (Marisi Courtwright) to Laura (Bianca Phillipi), as the two share a joint in the kitchen and discuss turning tricks for drugs. That level of dialogue is par for the course in The Executioner, Part II, from producer/writer/star Renee Harmon. This flick is a wonderful, incredible, amazing, and fascinating example of bottom feeding cinema of the 1980s. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Executioner, Part II”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Tuareg: The Desert Warrior, or, Let’s Cancel Mark Harmon!

Tuareg: The Desert Warrior movie posterAfter a 3-plus year absence, Shitty Movie Sundays hall of famer Enzo G. Castellari is back! Today’s film showcases Castellari’s most prominent skills. The film takes place in the desert, things blow up, and when they do, it’s filmed in glorious slow motion. Castellari knew what he was good at, and it wasn’t storytelling.

Mark Harmon (that’s right, Mark Harmon) plays a North African Tuareg, one of a nomadic people who span the Sahara. This is the type of role that Harmon couldn’t take, much less be offered, today. It would be considered an egregious case of whitewashing. And, if the project had managed to get made, all those involved would have to spend at least a week apologizing on Twitter before the mob moved on to the next outrage. But, in 1984, this type of casting decision could still be made, especially in Italy and Spain, which were free from Hollywood politics.

In my mind, having a white guy play a Berber tribesman only adds to this flick’s shitty movie creds. It’s icing on the cake that Harmon made only a token effort to disguise his SoCal accent, taking on an inflection reminiscent of stereotypical Native Americans. It’s possible this isn’t his fault. He may have been told his voice would be dubbed in post, or that the film wouldn’t be released in an English-language version at all. Or, he just gave a performance of stunning ineptitude. Or, it’s no different than any other Mark Harmon performance. It’s up to the viewer’s imagination. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Tuareg: The Desert Warrior, or, Let’s Cancel Mark Harmon!”

October Horrorshow: Death Warmed Up

There’s not a lot of plot to Death Warmed Up, the 1984 horror flick from writer Michael Heath and director David Blyth. There are hints of plot here and there, but any cohesion or sense is tossed away in service of spectacle. That’s not inherently a bad thing. Story, while necessary for most films, would just have gotten in the way of this flick’s many, many, blood-spurting wounds.

A New Zealand production, Death Warmed Up follows Michael Tucker (Michael Hurst). In the film’s intro, we see Michael come under the influence of the evil Dr. Archer Howell (Gary Day), who is conducting experiments into human resurrection and mind control. After injecting Michael with his serum, Howell sends Michael to kill Michael’s parents. Michael’s father is a professional rival who threatens Howell’s experiments. After the deed is done, Michael spends the next seven years in a psychiatric hospital. The main part of the film picks up after his release. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Death Warmed Up”

October Horrorshow: C.H.U.D.

I’ve seen C.H.U.D., the 1984 mutant monster flick, a number of times since its release. Each time, its objective quality, in my estimation, continues to fall. Each time, whatever spark and flare the movie had when I was young fades even more, and it becomes a more disappointing watch. But that’s only because in that old memory of my first viewing from was when I young, this was a good movie. Oh, boy, was I wrong. It’s not a good movie, but, it sure is shitty. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: C.H.U.D.”

October Horrorshow: Rats: Night of Terror

With a title like Rats: Night of Terror, I was expecting a horror flick. What I was not expecting was a horror flick combined with a 1980s Italian post-apocalyptic sci-fi flick, in the same milieu as 1990: The Bronx Warriors or The New Gladiators. But, shitty film auteurs Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso appeared to have no qualms in marrying two different genres, even if it added just about nothing to the plot.

In the near future, in the year 2015, civilization was consumed by atomic war. Survivors retreated underground, where they would attempt to rebuild society safely hidden from the irradiated wastes above. But, some people chose to reject a life in tunnels and caves, and returned to the surface to brave the danger. Now, 225 years after the bombs fell, descendants of the surface survivors are traveling the wasteland in search of food and water. They’re a fashionable bunch of post-apocalyptic bikers, clad in mismatched bits of military uniforms, accessorized with bandoliers and weapons of various calibers. Despite the trappings, they don’t look all that tough. Dressing like an extra in The Magnificent Seven seems to be de rigueur in this bleak future. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Rats: Night of Terror”

Empty Balcony: Runaway

Tom Selleck at peak mustache, Gene Simmons, THAT Gene Simmons, playing a mad scientist who has an army of killer robots, in a science fiction film written and directed by Michael Crichton? Yes, I will watch that.

From 1984, Runaway is a look into the near future, where robots are a part of everyday life. They cook our food, wash our clothes, construct our buildings, and guard our businesses. But like all machines, they aren’t perfect. That is where the dedicated men and women of the police department’s runaway squad come in. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Runaway”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The New Gladiators, aka Warriors of the Year 2072

Warriors of the Year 2072Television is a tough racket. Just ask the employees of WBS TV. In the future, the year 2072, to be precise, WBS has a hit show on their hands. It’s called The Danger Game, where contestants are hooked up to a machine that pumps visions of bloody torture directly into their brains. If they endure the torture without panicking, they win. It’s a successful show for the discerning TV consumer of the dystopian future, but it’s still getting beaten in the ratings by Kill Bike — a show featuring riders on motorbikes engaging in some poorly filmed jousting.

The mysterious head of WBS, Sam (Giovanni Di Benedetto), has a new idea for a show that should get WBS back on top of the ratings. Essentially, WBS is going to steal the idea of Kill Bike, but WBS will increase the stakes. The contestants will all be convicted murderers, and they will battle to the death in the famed Coliseum of Rome.

The New Gladiators was released in 1984, and is part of the wave of cheap Italian sci-fi that found inspiration following the successes of the Mad Max films and Escape from New York, among many others. This particular film, from famed b-movie auteur Lucio Fulci, borrows from those two films, while still finding enough room to cram in heaping amounts of Rollerball, Blade Runner, and A Clockwork Orange. Most impressively, Fulci was able to reach forward through time and steal ideas from The Running Man (all joking aside, the similarities are enough that I have to think the people behind The Running Man were Fulci fans). Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The New Gladiators, aka Warriors of the Year 2072″

Schwarzenegger Month: The Terminator

Is The Terminator the best movie Arnold Schwarzenegger has ever been in? There’s a strong possibility that it is. Some viewers have an affinity for Terminator 2, others for Conan the Barbarian. As for me, I voted with my eyes a long time ago. Of all the films Arnold has made, The Terminator is the one I’ve watched the most. It is impossible for me to recall just how many times I’ve seen it, but I would not be surprised if it’s somewhere in the 20s, maybe even the 30s. So, pardon me while I gush. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: The Terminator”