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: 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: 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: 2036 Origin Unknown

2036 Origin Unknown movie posterShitty movie fans are a tolerant bunch. We put up with bad scripts, bad direction, bad acting, and all-around incompetence, all in the search for the one shitty film out of a dozen that scratches our peculiar itch. For every Road House, there is a pile of films like Driven; for every Anaconda, a passel of Ghosts of War; and, for every expansive adventure like Spacehunter, there are an abundance of one-location bore-fests like 2036 Origin Unknown.

It’s the future! 2036! And space scientist Mack Wilson (Katee Sackhoff) is alone in a room talking to an AI called ARTI (voiced by Steven Cree). The two of them are mission control for a Mars rover expedition, sent to the red planet to find out what happened to a manned mission that crashed there some years earlier. The rover reaches the crash site and discovers a giant cube, origin unknown. Before they realize what is happening, the cube is gone, having teleported itself to Antarctica. What follows is some nonsensical claptrap, inane conversation between Mack and ARTI, and an ending that is supposed to make one think, I think. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: 2036 Origin Unknown”

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: Death Warmed Up

There’s not a lot of plot to Death Warmed Up, the 1984 horror flick from writer Michael Heath and director David Blyth. There are hints of plot here and there, but any cohesion or sense is tossed away in service of spectacle. That’s not inherently a bad thing. Story, while necessary for most films, would just have gotten in the way of this flick’s many, many, blood-spurting wounds.

A New Zealand production, Death Warmed Up follows Michael Tucker (Michael Hurst). In the film’s intro, we see Michael come under the influence of the evil Dr. Archer Howell (Gary Day), who is conducting experiments into human resurrection and mind control. After injecting Michael with his serum, Howell sends Michael to kill Michael’s parents. Michael’s father is a professional rival who threatens Howell’s experiments. After the deed is done, Michael spends the next seven years in a psychiatric hospital. The main part of the film picks up after his release. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Death Warmed Up”

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: Brain Twisters

Brain Twisters movie posterDr. 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 readingOctober Horrorshow: Brain Twisters”

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”