Shitty Movie Sundays: Hands of Steel

The importance of the Italian contribution to Shitty Movie Sundays cannot be overstated. Many of the most outrageous and joyfully incompetent films featured in the Watchability Index hail from that land of ancient art and culture. I’m sure that way back in the day, before the miracle that is recorded media, there were countless shitty penny operas and circuses for the masses to enjoy. For all we know Verdi had a secret passion for sleaze. My point is, shitty Italian cinema didn’t just come from nowhere. The DNA had to be there already. For every master filmmaker such as Federico Fellini, there has been an Enzo G. Castellari. For every Lina Wertmuller, a Bruno Mattei. And for every Bernardo Bertolucci, there has been a Sergio Martino. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Hands of Steel”

Giant Monstershow: King Kong Lives

What a gloriously stupid movie. Today’s movie is the movie I was looking forward to seeing the most for the October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow. It’s a movie of such shitty grandiosity that I was, in fact, giddy at the prospect. It’s not the easiest movie to find for viewing, either. As of this writing, none of the popular streaming services has it for rent or purchase. The only bootleg streams I could find were not in English, and even trying to find a torrent was fruitless. In the end, I had to buy a used DVD from eBay. It cost thirty-five bucks. That’s a lot of money for a shitty movie. Alas, it was worth every penny. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: King Kong Lives”

October Horrorshow: Chopping Mall, aka Killbots

I think it’s about high time to feature a flick from the Roger Corman stable. Chopping Mall, also released as Killbots, from 1986, doesn’t have Roger Corman’s name on it anywhere, but it’s definitely one of his. It was produced by Julie Corman, who has been married to Roger for almost fifty years, and it’s an underfunded piece of shit. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Chopping Mall, aka Killbots”

Stallone Month: Cobra

Oh, lord. Is this flick produced by the Cannon Group, the most lovable pair of shameless profiteers that Hollywood has ever seen? Yes, it is. Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus did as much for my love of shitty movies as any other filmmaker not named Carpenter. But, this month isn’t about Cannon. It’s about Sly Stallone. And Cobra, the 1986 film written by Sly and directed by George P. Cosmatos (who went on to direct films about a killer rat and a fish monster), might just be peak Stallone. Coming the year after Rocky IV, Sly wasn’t going to get any bigger. Continue readingStallone Month: Cobra”

Schwarzenegger Month: Raw Deal

This movie is Arnold Schwarzenegger on the cusp. After Conan and The Terminator, people knew who he was, he was a legitimate star, and this earned him more roles. But he was still making movies for Dino De Laurentiis. That man was a producing legend, but not always for the best reasons. For every Blue Velvet or Serpico, there were about five or six Maximum Overdrives. De Laurentiis movies look cheap, like the filmmakers that made them didn’t have the cash they needed, or weren’t competent filmmakers in the first place. Raw Deal was the last De Laurentiis film with Arnold to hit theaters, and Arnold was probably glad about that. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Raw Deal”

October Horrorshow: Critters, or, Power of the Night!

I don’t think I’ve seen this movie since the late 1980s. That’s almost thirty years of depriving myself of big hair, a pack of unstoppable, ravenous fur balls that are more teeth than animal, and Power of the Night, the number one single by Johnny Steele. Oh yeah, this was the decade I grew up in, with all its foibles, bad fashion, and shit music. This was the decade that put Eric Clapton in pastels and convinced teenagers everywhere that synthesizers were an acceptable accouterment to rock music. And my God, Reagan was in the White House. No, no, no. If it weren’t for the amazing run of substandard cinema throughout the decade, I would want to have the entire time wiped clean from my memory. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Critters, or, Power of the Night!”

October Horrorshow: Psycho III

...And then there was Psycho III. Part of the appeal of the first two films in the franchise was that there was a fair amount of ambiguity to events. There were murders, but it wasn’t at all clear until the end who had been committing them (of course, a person would have to be living under a rock to not have picked up on Psycho’s twist at some point in their lives). Not so in Psycho III. Norman Bates is doubtlessly the bad guy in this one, so it just remains to be seen how he will get his comeuppance. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Psycho III”

October Horrorshow: The Fly (1986)

The FlyTeleportation is a fascinating subject. Most sci-fi fans have watched the transporters in Star Trek or elsewhere and thought how cool it would be to travel instantly from one place to another. But then science rears its ugly head. Sure, it’s a novel idea, and would change the way we live in ways that are hard to comprehend. For instance, if distance becomes meaningless, so does security and privacy. There’s no point in having locked doors if anyone at anytime can just teleport into your apartment and steal your stuff. There’s no point in living in cities if you can have cheap housing in the boonies and just teleport into midtown for work. Hungry for some Italian food? Forget the quaint little place that just opened in the old downtown, in the spot the shoe store used to be. Go to fucking Italy! Teleportation would be such a revolution in the way we think about distance that it would remake society in ways we can scarcely imagine. But there’s a dark side. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Fly (1986)”

The Empty Balcony: Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa isn’t a typical British gangster film. Many of the hallmarks are there, to be sure. Gritty London scenery, almost impenetrable accents, and Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins. But many of the things a viewer expects from the plot of a British gangster film are absent. There’s no big heist being planned. There’s no grisly murder to revolve the story around. There’s violence at times, but it isn’t the gratuitous kind. It doesn’t rule the film. When it comes, it’s a necessary outcome of the story. Mona Lisa tells a story wrapped within a recognizable genre, but it uses that genre as a tool to tell the tale of a complex personal relationship. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Mona Lisa”

October Horrorshow, Spring Edition: Class of Nuke ‘Em High

Class of Nuke Em HighWhat a shitty movie. From Troma Entertainment, a production company well-versed in churning out b-movie fare (most famously the Toxic Avenger series of films and its spinoffs), Class of Nuke ‘Em High is self-aware schlock. From the opening scene to the end, the filmmakers never miss a chance to remind the viewer that what they are watching is not meant to be taken seriously. But the way they choose to draw attention to this fact, with overwrought characters and performances, only serves to make the film feel forced. It revels in cheapness, and this would be a good thing, if only they weren’t trying so hard. At every step of the film, Troma seeks to establish its brand, reveling in its ineptness at putting together something that is watchable.

The film has a strong beginning. After an opening shot purposefully evocative of Troma’s production logo, the scene shifts to the fictional town of Tromaville, New Jersey, where an accident at a nuclear power plant has leaked radioactive goo into the high school next door. A hapless student is exposed to the contaminant when he drinks from a water fountain before class, and his transformation from stereotypical 80s film nerd to smoking corpse is hilarious. But in that scene is a first glimpse of the film’s downfall. Most of the ensemble cast is present, and all exist, like the poor victim, as caricatures of the diverse collection of jocks, losers, horndogs, and punks that populate the banal visions of high school typical of so many films from the 50s to today. The problem is, there isn’t a straight man among the bunch to balance things out. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow, Spring Edition: Class of Nuke ‘Em High”