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 reading “October Horrorshow: Brain Damage”
Here’s another entry from the aborted Tom Cruise month, written back when I still lived in NYC:
What a putrid mess. Cocktail, the 1988 film from director Roger Donaldson, is about a bartender in New York City with big dreams. That’s just about every bartender in this town, at least before reality sinks its teeth in and, all of a sudden, a bartender’s 30s are looming large. I have a feeling that a large number of those involved in this flick have spent time slinging drinks. How in the world they screwed up a movie about a bartender is beyond me. But, Cocktail is only about a bartender in that the main character tends bar. It’s also a romance, and, near the end, takes a very dark dramatic turn that didn’t fit the film at all. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Cocktail”
What a strange movie. Usually, when a film tries to be too many genres at once, the result is a jumbled mess that takes too many shortcuts, and is difficult to follow. That’s a good description of Devil’s Express (released under a number of other titles), the 1976 blaxploitation/martial arts/street gang/monster flick from director Barry Rosen, and screenwriters Rosen and Niki Patton. But, we like jumbled messes here at Shitty Movie Sundays. The closer a film comes to flying apart at the seams, the better. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Devil’s Express, aka Subway to Hell, aka Gang Wars”
I’ve seen C.H.U.D., the 1984 mutant monster flick, a number of times since its release. Each time, its objective quality, in my estimation, continues to fall. Each time, whatever spark and flare the movie had when I was young fades even more, and it becomes a more disappointing watch. But that’s only because in that old memory of my first viewing from was when I young, this was a good movie. Oh, boy, was I wrong. It’s not a good movie, but, it sure is shitty. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: C.H.U.D.”
Larry Cohen has had prolific involvement in cheap horror throughout his career. His credits include the screenplay for Maniac Cop and writing and directing credits for both The Stuff and It’s Alive. He was one of the directors featured in the anthology television series Masters of Horror. He also flew by the seat of his pants when it came to making movies. According to the internet, so it must be true, Cohen was fired from his job directing the Mike Hammer flick, I, the Jury, after one week of shooting because of cost overruns. Instead of sulking about losing the gig, Cohen put together a shooting script and a production for a new movie in six days. That movie, lord help us, was Q — The Winged Serpent.Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: Q — The Winged Serpent”
The 1976 remake of King Kong might be peak Dino De Laurentiis. The legendary Italian producer’s films whipsaw back and forth between the grandiose, the absurd, the exploitative, and the just plain shitty. King Kong is a prime example.
Clocking in at an interminable 134 minutes, this King Kong is meant to be an epic retelling of a cinema classic. Everything about this film, directed by John Guillermin, seems meant to showcase how film has improved and grown in the forty years since the original film was released. The original King Kong was severely limited by what was possible at the time, yes, but it never felt like a failing. Nor is this film an indictment of what came before. But this film does live and die on an implied promise that it will be a better technical film than that which came before. Other than making money, there really isn’t much more reason for this film to exist. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: King Kong (1976)”
And so it begins. The leaves are turning (later and later every year, it seems), the air is grown crisp, the skies are beginning to cloud, and the sounds of the wind at night evoke creatures dastardly and dark. It is October, that sacred month which ends with the day of the dead. That also means it is time for another installment of the October Horrorshow, when Missile Test is devoted to horror film reviews. In the past, that meant ghouls, ghosts, zombies, slashers, vampires, and even the occasional werewolf.
This year the Horrorshow is going in a slightly different direction. There will be plenty of reviews of straight horror films, but the theme for this month is giant monsters.
Freejack is one of those movies that potential viewers might remember. They will vaguely remember a time when Emilio Estevez was a leading man, and they might recall that he was in a movie once called Freejack. They probably won’t remember what the movie was about, but they could remember that Mick Jagger, yes, that Mick Jagger, had a role. But, us shitty movie fans, we happy not-so-few, remember this as an ambitious and silly sci-fi action flick. We also remember that not only did Mick Jagger have a prominent part — his gloriously shitty performance stole the film. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Freejack”
With a title like Maniac Cop, there’s no way this movie is going to be good, right? The title is simple and to the point, and instantly conveys a large amount of plot to any potential viewer that happens to pass by the marquee. But boy, oh boy, it sounds like a first draft title. If all other films had used their initial titles, we wouldn’t have Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Unforgiven. Instead we would have Star Beast, Journey Beyond the Stars, and The Cut-Whore Killings (although it would have been ballsy for Clint Eastwood and company to try that last one). Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Maniac Cop”
The 1980s must have been an interesting time to be an actor in New York City. It was a mythic age, before Law & Order began filling multiple lines in the CVs of innumerable performers in the five boroughs. Instead, the city seemed to be crawling with itinerant Italian filmmakers, drunk on dreams of ripping off the latest American sci-fi hit and making some dollars on the cheap. Fabrizio De Angelis, Enzo G. Castellari, Sergio Martino, Luigi Cozzi, and more, made The Big Apple their home away from home in the ’80s. If it wasn’t possible to make it on Broadway or on TV, there was always bottom-feeding cinema. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Contamination”