Shitty Movie Sundays: The Kidnapping of the President

I’m thankful for William Shatner. Among the thousands, if not tens of thousands, of shitty movies ever made, he stands out. When a production hired William Shatner to play a role, they could be sure that no matter the budget, no matter the subject matter, they were going to get Shatner’s best effort. Not once did he ever take a scene off. And, much to the consternation of many involved, he did it his way every time. There is a lot less Shatner ahead of us in this world than there is behind us, and I’m telling you, we will miss him when he’s gone. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Kidnapping of the President”

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: Beyond the Trek, aka Teleios

This is something of a nothingburger movie. Originally titled Teleios, at some point after a few film festival showings and before it was released to DVD, the title was changed to Beyond the Trek to take advantage of the release of Star Trek Beyond. This flick even uses a title font similar to Star Trek’s, all to chase that sweet mockbuster cash. But, this isn’t a mockbuster. Rather, Beyond the Trek is a magnum opus from writer/director Ian Truitner. It’s a film with profound depth in its ideas, and about a nickel’s worth of budget to bring those ideas to fruition. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Beyond the Trek, aka Teleios”

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: 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: Brain Damage

We horror movie fans, and we shitty movie fans, are blessed whenever a filmmaker like Frank Henenlotter comes along. A man who was practically raised by the grindhouse theaters of Times Square, Henenlotter brought that aesthetic, that sleaze, and, yes, that mystique, to the small number of films he made. His films breathe in the grit of New York City in a way only one of its true freak denizens could capture.

Henenlotter began his feature film career in 1982 with Basket Case, a tale of a parasitic relationship of incredible bizarreness. He followed that up in 1988 with Brain Damage, a tale of a parasitic relationship of incredible bizarreness. It’s almost as if Henelotter took a look at his earlier film one day and said to himself, “I can do weirder.” Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Brain Damage”

October Horrorshow: Hell of the Living Dead

What an absolute pile of trash. I loved every minute of this film. Well, almost every minute of it. I loved the exploding heads and zombies munching on guts. I loved how director Bruno Mattei slipped in some nudity and pretended it wasn’t gratuitous. I loved how wild and unrealistic were the main characters. And I loved how no one in the movie seemed to absorb, for more than a second at a time, that zombies have to be shot in the head to stop them. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Hell of the Living Dead”

October Horrorshow: Spawn of the Slithis

Venice Beach, California, looks like it was a rough place in the late 1970s. Urban decay and homelessness abound, and everything looks brown and grey. Such is the setting for Spawn of the Slithis, the 1978 monster flick from writer/director/producer Stephen Traxler. Part Creature from the Black Lagoon and part Jaws, Slithis follows high school teacher/wannabe journalist Wayne Connors (Alan Blanchard), as he investigates a series of brutal mutilations in the Venice Beach area. The first victims were dogs, but it’s not long before there are human victims. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Spawn of the Slithis”