Bad action flicks from the 1980s are beginning to blend together for me. They all seem to have the same plots, the same producers, the same locations, the same stars, even the same bad guys. No facetiousness on that last part. In a coincidence for the ages, the last five ’80s action flicks I’ve seen have all had Stack Pierce playing a bad guy. There truly is a bottomless pit of shitty movies, and this age of unlimited content can stress the attention spans of even the most dedicated enthusiast.
What a gloriously stupid movie. If one is going to make a shitty action movie, and one knows they are going to make a shitty action movie, rather than suffering from delusions of grandeur, why not be outrageous? That must have been the conclusion that producer Ashok Amritraj and writer/director Emmett Alston came to when they decided to make Nine Deaths of the Ninja, one of the silliest action flicks Missile Test has seen in at least…a month and a half, if not longer.
Viewers learn what they’re in for during the opening scene, when we see counterterrorist operatives Spike Shinobi (Sho Kosugi), Steve Gordon (Brent Huff), and Jennifer Barnes (Emilia Crow) ply their trade in a training exercise. Spike’s tactical outfit is a true marvel — a camo jumpsuit festooned with explosive crossbow bolts and all sorts of mall ninja blades, and a utility belt ringed with shuriken and lollipops. That’s right, lollipops. At first, I thought they were some kind of small, feathered throwing darts, but nope. Lollipops. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Nine Deaths of the Ninja”
Marlene Schmidt was on top of the world after winning the Miss Universe pageant in 1961. She later married TV cowboy Ty Hardin and moved to sunny California. The marriage did not last, but sometime thereafter she got the shitty movie bug, and teamed up with her new husband, Iraqi-born auteur Howard Avedis, to produce some hilarious sleaze. We here at Missile Test salute her and Howard, both. Immigrants living the American dream. Sure, they could never break into the big time, but everyone knows the fringes of the party are the best place to be.
From 1975 comes The Specialist, a neo-noir ersatz thriller adapted from a book by Ralph B. Potts. Potts also has a screenwriting credit alongside Avedis and Schmidt.
This is Potts’s only credit on IMDb. The book the film is adapted from is called Come Now the Lawyers, and, according to Potts’s obit in the Seattle Times, is a non-fiction history of the courts of the state of Washington. Only in the world of cinema could a work of history be twisted and turned into a shitty drive-in flick, with the participation of the author. It’s like Edward Gibbon working on the screenplay for Caligula. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: The Specialist (1975)”
It sure is. As always, I maintain it is pointless to try and impose today’s morals on the past. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them and become better people…by pointing and laughing at those freaking idiots.
From 1965, Indian Paint is the rare western flick that takes place in the days before the arrival of Europeans. There isn’t a single Caucasian character in the film. What there are, though, are a bunch of white people slathered in makeup so red it looks like they were rolled around in the mud in Utah. Even the actual Native Americans in the cast, of which there were two, by my count, were covered in it. This flick represents the type of deep, ingrained, and completely clueless racism which used to be okay not just in the film industry, but in society at large. It’s a useful reminder that progress has been made, despite the re-emerging bravado of white nationalism. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Indian Paint, or, Oh Jeez, This Flick is Racist, Isn’t It?”
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 reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: The Kidnapping of the President”
Often, it can seem as if the only b-movies that get made are throwaway attempts at a quick payday, à la something produced by George Weiss or Roger Corman. Occasionally, a shitty movie will have artistic pretensions. It will a be a filmmaker’s magnum opus or a collaborative stab at something meaningful — an earnest attempt at telling a story or making a statement. Earnestness is no sure sign of success, as today’s film would attest, but it’s also not something that can be dismissed out of hand. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Pick-up”
Crown International Pictures is a repository of crap. For some, that’s a bad thing. For shitty movie fans, we misguided many, that makes Crown something heroic. It’s too bad they went belly up in 1992.
Many, many years before that happened, however, in 1975, they graced us with a cheap Ocean’s 11 ripoff, wherein a hooker, a waitress, and a trapeze artist plan and execute a casino heist. There are even shades of Charlie’s Angels, as the trio are given their marching orders by a mysterious man who lurks in the shadows. Although, this flick came out a year before Charlie’s Angels premiered. Does that make this film groundbreaking? Hell, no. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Las Vegas Lady”
Dr. Phillip Rothman (Terry Londeree) has a problem. The electronics company backing his neurological research isn’t happy with its pace, so they’re pulling his funding. The research involves showing flashing images to people to stimulate certain areas of the brain. The idea is that the company will incorporate the fruits of this research into its videogames, to give players a mental kick while playing, or possibly to get them hooked on it. The whys of the research are less important than the fact the experiments are turning Rothman’s student test subjects into murderous lunatics.
From way back in 1991, Brain Twisters is a horror/sci-fi cheapie from writer/director Jerry Sangiuliano. Potential viewers won’t find much in his IMDb page, and that’s common for just about everyone involved in this dog. This was Londeree’s first credit, and he wasn’t in another feature film until 2004. The only member of the cast who went on to have a career is Farrah Forke, who plays Laurie Stevens, one of Rothman’s students and work-study assistants. But, just because most of the people involved in a flick are rookies, doesn’t mean it will be bad. A general lack of talent and competence is enough. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Brain Twisters”
Sometimes when watching a film, a viewer can tell that the whole project barely held together. We viewers tend to hold that film is an artistic struggle carried out by a single individual. The director has a vision and a story they want to share. This is called the auteur theory of film, and is the main reason we heap praise on directors, at the expense of everyone else involved in a production. Less acknowledged is the reality that film is a business. As anyone who ever worked in an office can tell you, folks are just hanging on by their fingernails, hoping against hope that no one notices how much of the job is just faking it until it gets done. Here is director Norman J. Warren on his 1978 film, Terror:
[A] search for a story [in Terror] is in vain…There is no real storyline and very little, if any, logic. We had the money for a low-budget film, but no script and no idea of what film we wanted to make…we made a list of all the scenes we’d like to see in a horror film. We handed the list to writer David McGillivray, who incorporated the ideas into a ‘sort of story.’
That’s an excellent description of this film. There is a plot, involving an ancient curse set upon the Garrick family by a witch, but the plot is just a means to get from one death scene to another. It’s those scenes, fleshed out and very atmospheric, where this film truly lives. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Terror (1978)”
Rick Turner (Robert Alda), is, by all appearances, in a happy relationship with Donna Trent (Ariadne Welter). The two of them are clean-cut, 1950s wholesome, and engaged to be married. But, a mysterious, beautiful woman has been appearing to Rick in his dreams. One day, as he and Donna are walking about, Rick sees a doll in the display window of a dollmaker’s shop that has an uncanny resemblance to the woman in his dreams. He goes inside, and sets in motion a tale of evil and death.
Such is the setup to The Devil’s Hand, a kitschy 1961 horror flick from writer Jo Heims and director William J. Hole, Jr. By kitschy, I mean that this film has the look and feel of Ed Wood. I don’t mean a film directed by Ed Wood. I mean the Tim Burton biopic. I have no idea what exact sources Burton found for inspiration. Perhaps this flick was on the list. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Devil’s Hand”