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: Death Chase

Death Chase movie posterFilmmaker David A. Prior has become a favorite here at Shitty Movie Sundays. Whenever we see his name pop up in the credits of some cheapie action flick the air shimmers with excitement. Low rent. Joyous and lacking all shame. Gloriously stupid. Prior, sadly lost in 2015, had an innate sense of what made action flicks of the 1980s work. He could never muster the technical skill to push these flicks into a higher tier of objective quality, but he knew that keeping things light and preposterous was the starting point for successful action at the time.

Death Chase, which Prior directed from a screenplay by James Hennessy, Craig L. Hyde, and himself, is a take on battle royale/most dangerous game tropes, wherein a deadly game of tag is being played on the mean streets of Los Angeles. The marker for who is ‘it’ in the game is a silver pistol. Whoever holds it must defend themselves from other players of the game. Whichever player still has the pistol after all the other players are dead, wins the game and a sizable cash prize.

The game is being overseen by a board of rich white dudes, led by The Chairman (C.T. Collins). Running the game on their behalf is Steele (Paul L. Smith), who appears like a deus ex referee whenever the game, and the movie, needs a kick in the pants to start moving again. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Death Chase”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Guy from Harlem

You know how in movies, sometimes, there will be another movie shown on a television in the background, or one of the characters will be watching it? It’s common for these prop movies to be old public domain flicks, or, if the director is feeling particularly ambitious, something cobbled together just for that movie. Think Angels with Filthy Souls from Home Alone. That wasn’t a real old noir flick that Kevin was watching on the TV. It was a fake, a part of the scenery, a piece of cinematic cliché meant to set the mood.

Today’s shitty movie, The Guy from Harlem, has that same kind of feel. It feels like a deliberate attempt to fake a bad 1970s blaxploitation flick. The print that’s available for streaming, as of this writing, is a transfer from a badly worn 35mm print. Pops and scratches abound, the color is as washed as I’ve ever seen in an old film, and there are many, many missing frames. It feels readymade as a movie within a movie, only it was a legitimate production. Barely. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Guy from Harlem”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Future Zone

John Tucker (David Carradine), the toughest and deadliest C.O.P. (Civilian Operated Police) is back in action, in Future Zone, the 1990 sequel to Future Force. This movie does away with explaining the lore, so some background from the first film is in order.

In the near future crime has become so rampant that government operated police forces have been disbanded, replaced by a civilian equivalent that has more in common with old west bounty hunters than proper law enforcement. These COPs (this movie drops the ‘S’ from the acronym) carry six shooters and dress like bikers. Tucker is the biggest badass of them all, blithely informing criminals that they have the right to die, just before he shoots them in the chest. He also has a power glove that shoots rays of lightning from its fingers. But, like the first film, it’s such a deus ex machina that writer/director David A. Prior keeps it mostly out of sight. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Future Zone”

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: Metamorphosis (1990), aka Regenerator, aka DNA formula letale

George Eastman, aka Luigi Montefiori, is one of the legends of Shitty Movie Sundays. His long career as an actor and writer spanned six decades before he hung them up in 2010. He’s worked with some of the giants of Italian cinema, including Mario Bava and Lina Wertmüller. He had a long professional collaboration with schlock director Joe D’Amato. He’s acted in, and written, spaghetti westerns, crime flicks, giallo, horror, post-apocalyptic sci-fi, and smut (although I don’t think he’s ever taken his pants off in one — I could be wrong). His face has been a constant presence in the types of movies featured in Shitty Movie Sundays, but he only has one solo directing credit in his oeuvre — Metamorphosis, from 1990. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Metamorphosis (1990), aka Regenerator, aka DNA formula letale”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Body Count (1986), aka Camping del terrore

This is the third film from director Ruggero Deodato to be featured in the Italian Horrorshow, after the unforgettable pair of Cannibal Holocaust and Jungle Holocaust. Both of those films were impressive in their storytelling and shocking visuals. Deodato must have had enough of cannibals after that, and instead turned his talents to an American-style slasher/cabin in the woods flick.

Written by many people, including Italian cinema stalwarts Sheila Goldberg and Dardano Sacchetti, Body Count tells the story of two groups of youths that are brought together by chance, to be chased around a derelict campground by a masked killer. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with horror flicks will have seen this plot, or something damned close, once or twice. This being the fifteenth year of the Horrorshow, on top of a lifetime of watching horror flicks, I figured there would be nothing all that special about this flick. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Body Count (1986), aka Camping del terrore”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: The Wax Mask, aka M.D.C. – Maschera di cera

According to the internet, so it must be true, after Dario Argento saw that Italian film auteur Lucio Fulci was in ill-health in the mid 1990s, he decided to throw him a project. Argento and Fulci didn’t get along that well, however, so pre-production stretched on longer than it should have. Then Fulci died, and the project was passed to first-time director Sergio Stivaletti, who had been an established special effects tech for over a decade. The result was The Wax Mask, which was different enough from 1953’s House of Wax to keep Argento and the other producers from being sued.

The film opens on a grisly murder scene in Paris in the year 1900. A man and his wife have been cut to ribbons, with their young daughter a survivor and witness to the brutal crime. Fast forward to Rome a dozen years later and the girl has grown into a woman. Sonia Lafont (Romina Mondello) has arrived in Rome to seek a career as a costume designer. She gets a job at a soon to be opened wax museum run by the mysterious Boris Volkoff (Robert Hossein), who becomes enamored with Sonia at first sight. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: The Wax Mask, aka M.D.C. – Maschera di cera”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Eaten Alive! (1980), aka Mangiati vivi!, aka Doomed to Die

Oh, look, more cannibals! And rape. Lots of rape.

From 1980, writer/director Umberto Lenzi’s initial foray into the cannibal subgenre of horror might be the most exploitative of the bunch. It has everything that I’ve become familiar with during this year’s Horrorshow. There is cannibalism, of course, Stone Age tribalism, an impenetrable jungle, caucasians getting more than they bargained for, nudity, brutal depictions of violence, real animal slaughter, and rape. This flick is a little lazier than the others, as it lifts footage from earlier cannibal flicks for extra punch during gore scenes. Shame on any movie that can’t do all its heavy lifting on its own. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Eaten Alive! (1980), aka Mangiati vivi!, aka Doomed to Die”

October Horrorshow: Scared to Death (1980)

This is the fourth evening in a row that the Horrorshow has featured a low-budget monster flick from the 1980s. I don’t know if this is a burden or a blessing upon you, dear readership. What I do know is that the combined budgets of these past four films, each adjusted for inflation, are less than the cost of a median home in the most prosperous counties of California. I’m not joking. Some quick calculating puts the total cost of these four films — Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake, Creepozoids, Inseminoid, and Scared to Death — at roughly $1.3 million. That means that, should one wish to make four b-movies, it would be cheaper to do so than purchase a single median-priced home in Marin, San Francisco, or San Mateo counties. Trust me, I got my data on the internet. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Scared to Death (1980)”