Outsider filmmakers with a dream are the best kinds of filmmakers. These are the folks who get it into their heads to make a movie regardless of massive obstacles. All the things that make filmmaking difficult are mere challenges to overcome, annoyances to bypass. What requires a small army to get done in Hollywood, they do themselves. Of course, the final product betrays the humble nature of these movies, even when they are 127 minutes of bombastic insanity.
Bryan Brooks had a very limited career in film before 2022’s Wrecker, appearing in a handful of shorts and doing some work as a grip. If the internet is to be believed, Brooks had an epiphany while he was pinned beneath an 800-pound crab pot on a boat in the Bering Sea. After his shipmates lifted the cage and his lungs took in precious lifegiving air, Brooks took stock of his life and decided that filmmaking was his life’s calling. What followed was a decade of painstaking study of the craft of film before he unleashed his talents on the moviegoing public. It’s almost a superhero origin story. I don’t care if any of it is true. A little mythmaking in the b-movie movie industry never hurt anyone. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Wrecker (2022)”
Many creative people hail from the rusted industrial corpse of Akron, Ohio. Some of them even get famous. Musicians, mostly. But, when it comes to filmmakers, there is one name, and one name, only, associated with Akron. And it’s not Jim Jarmusch, despite what the list of people from Akron on Wikipedia would suggest. This filmmaker has not only made more movies than Jarmusch (who I like as a filmmaker, by the way), but made many of them in his good ole hometown. His name is J.R. Bookwalter.
His first feature, released in 1989, is the classic low-budget, ultra-gory Dead Next Door. Produced, written, and directed by Bookwalter, production began in the summer of 1985 when Bookwalter pitched Sam Raimi on the film. Raimi, gaining an executive producer credit, agreed to pony up the cash, and shooting began in spring of 1986 after some fits and starts. More problems cropped up, as often happens in productions like this, but the majority of the film was in the can by that autumn. 1987 and 1988 were for reshoots, more tinkering, and editing. Finally, sweet release on video in November of 1989. That’s a labor of love, folks. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Dead Next Door”
Roger Corman has caught a lot of heat in these pages for being a cheapskate. The man was, and still is, ruthless in his pursuit of efficiency in his productions. This has often been a detriment to his films. As a filmmaker, Corman could make better movies if he loosened the purse strings ever so slightly, but he always seems to err on the side of budget over art. That said, the man’s contributions to cinema, and shitty movies, cannot be overstated. Forbidden World, a Corman production from 1982, encapsulates just about everything that makes a movie shitty, and is an excellent example of the Corman style. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Forbidden World”
What a gloriously stupid movie. I’m pretty sure that writer, director, and producer David Winters didn’t set out to make one of the greatest shitty movies in the annals of shitty movies, but, that’s exactly what he did. Mission accomplished. Take a bow. Revel in the applause.
But, wait, there’s more.
Winters had to leave the set just prior to filming due to bereavement, so the bulk of this flick was directed by Neal Sundstrom, who had been hired as assistant director. And yet, there’s still more!
After Sundstrom delivered a cut, the movie was deemed too short. There needed to be more movie. So, David A. Prior, who has an unimpeachable CV in b-movies, was brought in, uncredited, to shoot some scenes featuring writhing space witches that are totally unconnected to the rest of the movie, just to push this dog’s running time to the 90-minute mark. As much as I appreciate Prior, I’m an even bigger fan of a movie having no superfluous fluff, and if that means an 80-minute running time, then all the better. Oh, if that were the only flaw in this movie. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Space Mutiny”
Who doesn’t love a shitty Mad Max ripoff? Well, probably all those people out there who, for some reason or another, don’t like substandard cinema. They will never understand the joy to be had in seeing an entire cast costumed in black leather and random bits of spray painted athletic gear. They will never appreciate the sublime rumble of vehicle chases through the desert featuring junk heap muscle cars with all sorts of doodads welded to them. Maybe, just maybe, they will find the inevitable anti-hero of the films a sympathetic character, but only because it’s a conceit that was part of film long before Max Rockatansky ever peeled away in the Pursuit Special. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Wheels of Fire”
The Creeping Terror, the 1964 monster flick from producer, director, editor, and star Vic Savage, is a regular staple on ‘worst movies ever made’ lists, and it should be. Watching this flick is a mirthful, schadenfreude-filled experience. It will make a viewer shake one’s head, mystified that a movie so obviously bad could be made. It has the feel of a spoof, as if it were making fun of the low-budget monster flicks of the 1950s. But, no, this is very much a serious film.
The Creeping Terror may have been made in 1964, but, according to the internet, so it must be true, it never received a theatrical release. It lingered on a shelf somewhere until Crown International Pictures licensed it for television in the mid-1970s. Thank goodness for the clearing house for crap that was Crown International, otherwise this could have been a lost film, subject to mere rumor and speculation. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Creeping Terror, aka The Crawling Monster”
At some point around 1980, producer Ted A. Bohus and f/x man John Dods put their heads together and came up with an idea for an alien monster flick. Neither could direct or write a screenplay, so Dods brought in Douglas McKeown, a would-be filmmaker looking for his first break. Bohus somehow found a little bit of money, Dods and his crew built one of the wildest monsters ever to grace horror flicks, and McKeown worked his talents to deliver an amazing experience of low-budget cinema.
Released in 1983, The Deadly Spawn tells the story of a creature that rides a meteorite down to Earth and terrorizes a household in rural New Jersey. Tom DeFranco stars as Pete, and Charles George Hildebrandt stars as Pete’s middle school-aged younger brother, also named Charles. (Charles is the son of fantasy/sci-fi illustrator Tim Hildebrandt. Readers may not know him by name, but they will recognize some of the work he did with his brother, Greg. Tim has a small role in the film, on top of lending his house to the production for filming.) Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Deadly Spawn”
The Wraith, the 1986 flick from writer/director Mike Marvin, is in stiff competition with Road House for the most relentlessly ’80s movie in the Watchability Index. The music, the fashion, the bright colors, the bitchin’ cars, the way the film is shot, and the raspy-voiced presence of Charlie Sheen will all transport the viewer back to the heady days of mid-1980s Tucson, Arizona.
This film is also a throwback to the teen dramas of the 1950s. The local youths are consumed by their dramas, and, like all good teen flicks, the only adult with significant presence in the film is the local sheriff. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: The Wraith”
Normally, if there were a trailer available on YouTube, it would be posted here, but not this time. The trailer for Cop spoils the ending. We can’t have that.
What a gloriously stupid movie. I knew heading in that any movie produced by, and starring, James Woods as a lone-wolf detective hunting a serial killer would be an adventure. Cop is more than that, however. It is an absolute howler. It is amongst the most over-indulgent Hollywood vanity projects I’ve ever seen, from an actor who doesn’t know the first thing about nuance.
Woods, playing Sgt. Lloyd Hopkins, stakes out a suspected armed robber with his supervisor, Lt. Dutch Peltz, played by Charles Durning. The suspect pulls up to the curb with his date, Hopkins and Dutch confront him, and Hopkins blows the suspect away after he pulls a pistol on Dutch. That’s fine. But then, Hopkins takes the date from the car, who is ambivalent about the whole thing, and leaves the scene to drive her home because she has a nice rack. It’s implied he sleeps with her. I guess that means it was a good shoot.
Hopkins tracks down a former actress turned call girl (Randi Brooks), following up a lead on the serial killings, and, wouldn’t you know it? They have sex in the kitchen while bacon is sizzling in a pan nearby. This happens the very scene after Hopkins’ wife leaves him and takes the kid.
Hopkins goes to the residence of feminist poet and bookstore owner Kathleen McCarthy (Lesley Ann Warren) to follow up another lead. He’s as gruff and pigheaded as one would expect any clichéd cop from an ’80s film to be, but McCarthy doesn’t seem to care all that much. You see, she’s a feminist only because the right man has never come along to sweep her off of her feet. Lo and behold, that could be Hopkins. He talks her into a date, and later a trip to the bedroom, because he’s the first man who’s been man enough to do so.
Hopkins follows another lead to the home of an LA County Sheriff’s Deputy (Charles Haid) who happens to be running male prostitutes. Hopkins then kills the deputy after the deputy goes for a shotgun, but he never faces any repercussions for this, despite having broken into the deputy’s home without a warrant, while also being under suspension from the LAPD.