Shitty Movie Sundays: Deadly Reactor

Action International Pictures and producer David Winters have done it again. Of late, whenever I’ve been in the mood for a truly shitty action flick from the 1980s or early ’90s, Action International has been there. It’s not all flicks directed by David A. Prior, or starring William Zipp, either. Today’s movie is 1989’s Deadly Reactor, written, starring, and directed by David Heavener, who has an unimpeachable CV as a b-filmmaker.

It’s the near future. Earth has been rendered a post-apocalyptic wasteland by nuclear war. Society consists of roving gangs of thugs, and small outposts of regular folk who are just trying to get by. Heavener plays Cody, a preacher in the Agopy religious sect, which are portrayed as something akin to the Amish or Mennonites, only without the bonnets or the chin straps. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Deadly Reactor”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Rapid Fire (1989)

Rapid Fire 1989 movie posterProlific b-action auteur David A. Prior graces the pages of Shitty Movie Sundays once again, with 1989’s Rapid Fire, a direct-to-video shoot-em-up that barely makes sense. But, that’s okay. That’s just how we like them.

A daring jailbreak has occurred. The most dangerous terrorist in the world, Mustapha (Del Zamora), has been captured and is being held aboard a battleship (played by the USS Alabama, moored as a museum ship in Mobile). A very bad man, Eddy Williams (Michael Wayne), has boarded the ship disguised as a naval officer. He is toting a rather large and slapdash supergun in a case, which he breaks out and uses to free Mustapha. Check out the poster. That’s a weapon to rival that found in Equalizer 2000.

Agent Hansen (Joe Spinell, in his last film role), from some…agency…has to find Mustapha before he commits another unspeakable atrocity. Since Hansen is not the hero of the movie, he calls in Mike Thompson (Ron Waldron) to track down Mustapha, because Mike has an old beef with Williams.

The two were soldiers together during the Vietnam War, and they did not get along. So much so that Williams left Mike wounded for dead after a battle, and, to add insult to injury, stole the supergun. Mike has been dreaming of revenge ever since. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Rapid Fire (1989)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Night Club (1989, USA)

Night Club 1989 movie posterNick (Nicholas Hoppe, who also produced and had a story credit) has a dream. Well, he has two dreams. And, also a third. Firstly, Nick wants to write the Great American Novel. Dream number two is to open Los Angeles’ newest and hottest nightclub in an old factory building (played by the former Boyle-Midway plant in beautiful City of Commerce, California). Nick’s third dream is to have passionate, unrestrained, and on-demand sex from his wife, Beth (Elizabeth Kaitan).

The first dream is a noble pursuit that, perhaps, tens of thousands of Americans have tried, only to see their efforts wither on the vine. Still, Nick keeps banging away on the keyboard. His second dream, funded by an inheritance Beth received from her father, and a loan from a gangster, Eddie (Ed Trotta), is in an equal amount of trouble, because the old factory is filled top to bottom with asbestos. That third dream, on the other hand, has something going for it, as, rather than work out the problems in his marriage, Nick hallucinates a slutty version of his wife named Liza, and does the dirty with her, to the titillation of the audience.

That’s Night Club, the 1989 movie from writers Michael Keusch and Deborah Tilton, with direction from Keusch. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Night Club (1989, USA)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Future Force

In the near future, by the year 1991, crime has become so rampant in the United States that all local police forces have been disbanded and replaced by private companies. These companies are collectively known as C.O.P.S., or Civilian Operated Police Incorporated. Wait, that’s not right. But that’s what the opening voiceover calls them. By the second scene in Future Force, from writer/director and b-movie auteur extraordinaire David A. Prior, viewers know that the last word in the COPS acronym is Systems, not Incorporated. We love a lack of attention to details like that here at Shitty Movie Sundays.

These new COPS aren’t like the old cops. For one thing, the American system of justice has been turned on its head. The accused are now presumed guilty, and are convicted before they are ever arrested, often without knowledge of their offenses. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Future Force”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Deep Blood, aka Sangue negli abissi

Deep Blood movie posterAccording to the internet, so it must be true, Raffaele Donato, whose work in film had been very limited, decided one day that he would like to direct a movie. As it happened, Joe D’Amato was looking for someone to helm a cheap sharksploitation flick, the only requirement being fluency in English. Donato leapt at the chance, but after filming a single scene, decided life in the director’s chair was not for him. No worries, as the prolific D’Amato was ready to step in and finish beating this dog of a movie to within an inch of its life.

The result was Deep Blood, a Jaws ripoff whose greatest danger to characters was stock footage.

From a screenplay by George Nelson Ott (possibly an alias for D’Amato, as this is his only credit on IMDb), Deep Blood tells the tale of an oceanside community terrorized by a killer great white shark.

The first we see of the shark is rank, amateurish, manipulative filmmaking. A mother, her son, and their tiny dog visit the beach for a dip in the ocean. We know one of these three is going to get eaten. Which is it to be? The shot switches to and fro. It’s not frantic, but it’s meant to keep the audience guessing. Will this movie kill a child? A mother? It surely won’t kill the dog, as, in the hierarchy of film murder, dogs elicit the most groans. It kills the mom, and the plot, what there is of it, is off and running.

Four local, college-aged youths with uninteresting backstories are reuniting in town for vacation, and the shark attack has upended things. When one of them, John (John K. Brune), is eaten in a cloud of blood and no gore, Miki (Frank Baroni), leads the effort to exact revenge on the creature. A whole bunch of character drama is placed in his way. The sheriff (could be Tony Bernard, could be Tom Bernard, could be Tody Bernard — the credits are unclear) doesn’t believe him. The responsible adults in town join in the sheriff’s skepticism. Yet, Miki perseveres against authority and town bullies alike to get us to denouement. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Deep Blood, aka Sangue negli abissi”

October Horrorshow: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

See that subtitle? The one that reads ‘Jason Takes Manhattan?’ There’s a lot of promise in a subtitle like that. New York City is a big place. It’s an assault on the senses like nowhere else in the country. It’s loud; it’s packed full of smells, strange, pleasant, and offensive; no matter where you are in the city, there is always something worth looking at. It’s a city that begs to be experienced every day one is there. It’s also an expensive place to film, so when writer/director Rob Hedden had his Friday the 13th sequel greenlit by the studio, they told him there could only be two days of filming in the Big Apple.

So, that subtitle? It would have been more accurate if it had read ‘Jason Takes a Pleasure Cruise’ or ‘Jason Visits the Alleys of Vancouver.’ Hedden was crushed by the studio’s decision, but soldiered on, delivering a movie that he knew disappointed fans, because it disappointed himself just as much. That’s the bad news. The good news is, after a string of films with loosely-connected plot threads and uninteresting premises, the Friday the 13th franchise returns to a more basic slasher formula, and one that works better. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan”

October Horrorshow: The Dead Next Door

Many creative people hail from the rusted industrial corpse of Akron, Ohio. Some of them even get famous. Musicians, mostly. But, when it comes to filmmakers, there is one name, and one name, only, associated with Akron. And it’s not Jim Jarmusch, despite what the list of people from Akron on Wikipedia would suggest. This filmmaker has not only made more movies than Jarmusch (who I like as a filmmaker, by the way), but made many of them in his good ole hometown. His name is J.R. Bookwalter.

His first feature, released in 1989, is the classic low-budget, ultra-gory Dead Next Door. Produced, written, and directed by Bookwalter, production began in the summer of 1985 when Bookwalter pitched Sam Raimi on the film. Raimi, gaining an executive producer credit, agreed to pony up the cash, and shooting began in spring of 1986 after some fits and starts. More problems cropped up, as often happens in productions like this, but the majority of the film was in the can by that autumn. 1987 and 1988 were for reshoots, more tinkering, and editing. Finally, sweet release on video in November of 1989. That’s a labor of love, folks. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Dead Next Door”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: The Church, aka La Chiesa

After the success of Demons 2, director Lamberto Bava and producer Dario Argento had begun to collaborate on another project. But, while Bava wanted to do another entry in the Demons series, Argento did not, leading to Bava saying his farewells and Argento bringing in Michele Soavi, who had directed the second unit on a number of Argento’s films. A screenplay for the film passed through no less than eight hands, including Soavi’s. The location changed from a plane to a volcanic island and, finally, to a Gothic cathedral in the heart of a modern European city. Thus, we have The Church, from 1989. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: The Church, aka La Chiesa”

October Horrorshow: Video Demons Do Psychotown, aka Bloodbath in Psycho Town

Video Demons do Psychotown movie posterWhat a pair of titles. Video Demons Do Psychotown and Bloodbath in Psycho Town. Both are great titles for a sleazy drive-in horror flick featuring the three ‘B’s’ — Blood, Breasts, and Beasts. Well, there are two of those, which doesn’t make this flick a total bust, but viewers have been subjected to that all-too common feature of shitty filmmaking: the misleading title. Titles like that above promise something extreme, something visceral, something that satisfies the basest desires of the depraved horror movie fan. But, in truth, this flick is just cheap.

Distributed by Troma, mass purveyors of trash cinema, Video Demons comes to us via writer/director Alessandro De Gaetano.

Released in 1989, Video Demons follows student filmmakers Eric and Karen (Ron Arragon and Donna Baltron) as they set off into rural Indiana to make a documentary movie about a town full of psychics, hence the ‘Psychotown’[sic] of the title. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Video Demons Do Psychotown, aka Bloodbath in Psycho Town”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Driving Force, or, Dance of the Tow Trucks

Regular readers of Shitty Movie Sundays will know that there is something of a cottage industry in Mad Max ripoffs. Mostly, these flicks aren’t ripping off the first Mad Max film, but the second, where filmmaker George Miller refined the look and feel of his post-apocalyptic vision. Driving Force, from 1989, is a Mad Max ripoff, but it hews closer to the original film, which was dystopian rather than post-apocalyptic, and throws in a little of Peter Weir’s The Cars That Ate Paris for good measure.

It’s sometime in the near future. The United States hasn’t collapsed, but it does appear to be on its last legs. The middle class is gone, with society divided between the rich few and the many poor. Picture in one’s head a third world country, and one gets an idea of this film’s setting. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Driving Force, or, Dance of the Tow Trucks”