Shitty Movie Sundays: Road Wars

Road Wars movie posterThe Asylum is shameless. When they’re not churning out giant monster flicks starring washed-up TV stars for SyFy, they’re taking advantage of blockbuster movies, attaching themselves like remora and feeding off scraps. They have taken the idea of the mockbuster, cinema’s short con, and elevated it. Not to art, but it’s definitely something they’ve honed.

I like that The Asylum has no shame. It’s different than what a filmmaker like Roger Corman has done throughout his career. Corman was a filmmaker with talent, and he threw it all away to chase the cheap buck. The Asylum, by contrast, has always been a house of shit.

Road Wars was in the can and ready to release direct-to-video early in May of 2015, timed to match the upcoming release of Mad Max: Fury Road. That’s the film Road Wars is ripping off. From the mishmash black leather outfits and shoulder pads (my favorite accoutrement was a bicycle reflector attached to an epaulette), to old muscle cars with all sorts of metal shit welded on to them, to the desert setting (California City, take a bow), to the derivative title, this is almost enough of a ripoff for the rights holders of Mad Max to sue. That makes this shitty flick a proper mockbuster. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Road Wars”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Virtuosity

We here at Missile Test love a big budget flop. We love it when A-list stars and up-and-comers bound for greatness show up in a film that has big ideas and tiny payoff. We love it when Hollywood pretensions and conceits come back to bite them in the ass. It’s even better when the whole package is absurd — when a film makes a viewer wonder, “what were they thinking?”

Virtuosity is one of Hollywood’s earlier attempts to parse the Information Age, and its effects on the wider world. Released in 1995, its assumptions about the future can be laughable at times. What doomed this movie in 1995 was that its vision was somewhat laughable back then, as well. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Virtuosity”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Malone

Burt Reynolds was paid three million bucks to star as the titular character in 1987’s Malone. He didn’t seem all that impressed with the project, however. Of it, he said, “Let’s be honest. The film is Shane. [Malone] attempts to battle a Lyndon LaRouche character.” He continues, “Just to show you how movies change, Gerard Depardieu and Christopher Lambert at one point were going to play Malone. I wonder how this guy got rewritten into me.” How, indeed? Reynolds may have thought of this film as little more than a Shane ripoff, but I prefer to think of it as Road House without the fun. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Malone”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Sci-Fighter, aka X-Treme Fighter

This flick is a dog. A lowdown, dirty, mangy, half-starved, living under an old sheet of plywood out back in the alley dog. It’s a flick that was made for the souvenir table at the All-Valley Championships and the dollar DVD bins at the gas station. Selling five copies probably recouped the entire production budget. It’s also something of an in-house production for martial arts pros — a way to get their faces outside of the dojos and exhibitions, and maybe make a couple bucks doing it. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Sci-Fighter, aka X-Treme Fighter”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Angel Town

What a gloriously stupid movie. Angel Town, the 1990 ass-kicker from director Eric Karson, has an incredible start. The film opens with a montage of the bad guy, Angel (Tony Valentine), driving through East L.A. with the theme song, written and performed by a band headed by the director’s brother, playing on top of it. Then there’s a big gang fight that ends in a shooting. And THEN, the main character, Jacques (Olivier Gruner), has sex on top of his father’s grave. I shit you not, that is how this movie begins. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Angel Town”

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!”

Shitty Movie Sundays: 2307: Winter’s Dream

I’m glad that filmmakers are still making flicks like this. It’s schlock from the ground up, and the only thing that harms its shitty movie cred is the fact it was filmed in digital HD. Pardon a short rant that is going to make me sound like the old man I am steadily becoming, but shitty movies in the age of celluloid had an extra sheen of cheapness that has been lost. In the past, shitty filmmakers had to rent cheap cameras and lenses, and buy substandard film stock and processing, to get their films made. The difference in visual quality was stark, compared to big time productions. These days, however, a movie can get made with a digital SLR that costs a few thousand bucks, or even a smartphone, and the visual quality is much closer to what one gets from proper, high-end digital cameras. Part of the joy of watching an old shitty movie is bad film stock, and that is gone forever. Too bad. Anyway… Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: 2307: Winter’s Dream”

October Horrorshow: Nightbeast

Blood, gore, low production values, a little gratuitous nudity, and charm out the wazoo. That’s Nightbeast, the 1982 sci-fi/horror flick from b-movie filmmaker Don Dohler. It’s a simple film with a simple idea: an alien passing by Earth runs into a stray asteroid and crashes in rural Maryland. It’s an angry beast, and it wastes no time slaughtering the locals with its laser gun.

Trying to stop the massacre are the cops and the good citizens of Perry Hall, led by Sheriff Cinder (Tom Griffith). That’s all the plot one really needs to know. There’s very little setup to this flick, and very little character development. That’s a good thing, as Dohler didn’t round up the best talent for his opus. Besides Griffith, there’s Karin Kardian as Deputy Lisa Kent, Jamie Zemarel as local Jamie Lambert, and Don Leifert as local tough guy and murderer Drago (it’s a subplot). None of these performers, or the others listed in the credits, had much work outside of Don Dohler films, and none of them seemed like professionals. But, their lack of acting chops only adds to the appeal. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Nightbeast”

October Horrorshow: Overlord

If one is looking for a realistic World War Two movie, look elsewhere. Overlord takes all of its war visuals and scenarios from Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, to the point of thievery, but all that is just backdrop to the story. What this movie is really about are Nazi monster super-soldier experiments, and the small squad of American paratroopers who put a stop to it. It’s bloody, full of gore, and, somehow, works as a serious tale with no absurdity. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Overlord”

October Horrorshow: Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid

So, how does a production company follow up a financially successful creature feature that surprised audiences and critics alike with its absurd watchability? By doing it all over again, but with less than half the budget. It’s almost criminal.

Anaconda, the 1997 giant snake flick starring future superstar Jennifer Lopez, ranks very high in the Shitty Movie Sundays Watchability Index. It was shocking how so stupid a movie ended up being so entertaining. It was also something of a surprise that it took another seven years for there to be a sequel, as Hollywood is not known for passing up free money. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid”