Shitty Movie Sundays: Pound of Flesh

Pound of Flesh, the 2015 Jean-Claude Van Damme action thriller from screenwriter Joshua Todd James and director Ernie Barbarash, may as well have been called Boilerplate. It’s a movie unconcerned with breaking any new ground, or stretching the talents of its star. It’s as interesting and engaging as the music in a doctor’s office waiting room. It captures one’s attention like whatever sports talk show is on the television hanging over the bar on a Tuesday afternoon. It’s a painting of a lighthouse amongst an entire crate of lighthouse paintings at the local flea market. It’s inoffensive, predictable, and reliable. Because of that, no matter how much ass gets kicked, it’s pretty dull. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Pound of Flesh”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Hellcats (1968), or, The Heck Kittens

“You’ve seen the guys. Now here are the psycho mad mamas who ride with them. They’re The Hellcats!”

So says the trailer to The Hellcats, the 1968 film from writer (with Tony Huston) and director Robert F. Slatzer. The trailer promises a biker gang flick along the lines of The Wild Angels, only with ladies in the lead. Well, that’s a lie, invented to trick unsuspecting would-be viewers into seeing this dog. There are women bikers in this movie, sure, but it’s an equitable relationship with the men in the biker gang. That makes it unique in this subgenre, where women are usually relegated to the role of property, but a lie, nevertheless. It’s not the first misleading trailer for a film ever made, and it won’t be the last. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Hellcats (1968), or, The Heck Kittens”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Night Club (1989, USA)

Night Club 1989 movie posterNick (Nicholas Hoppe, who also produced and had a story credit) has a dream. Well, he has two dreams. And, also a third. Firstly, Nick wants to write the Great American Novel. Dream number two is to open Los Angeles’ newest and hottest nightclub in an old factory building (played by the former Boyle-Midway plant in beautiful City of Commerce, California). Nick’s third dream is to have passionate, unrestrained, and on-demand sex from his wife, Beth (Elizabeth Kaitan).

The first dream is a noble pursuit that, perhaps, tens of thousands of Americans have tried, only to see their efforts wither on the vine. Still, Nick keeps banging away on the keyboard. His second dream, funded by an inheritance Beth received from her father, and a loan from a gangster, Eddie (Ed Trotta), is in an equal amount of trouble, because the old factory is filled top to bottom with asbestos. That third dream, on the other hand, has something going for it, as, rather than work out the problems in his marriage, Nick hallucinates a slutty version of his wife named Liza, and does the dirty with her, to the titillation of the audience.

That’s Night Club, the 1989 movie from writers Michael Keusch and Deborah Tilton, with direction from Keusch. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Night Club (1989, USA)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Killer Image

Ric Oliver (Paul Austin) is an ambitious shutterbug. As 1992’s Killer Image opens, viewers see him trailing and taking photographs of Luther Kane (Michael Ironside) dumping what appears to be a body off of the Glenmore Dam south of Calgary, Alberta. Luther sees what Ric is up to, tries to shoot him, then runs him down with his car in cold blood.

Written, produced, and directed by David Winning, with further screenplay credits going to Stan Edmonds and Jaron Summers, Killer Image is a prototypical example of the kind of direct-to-video/late night cable TV thriller fare that was popular in the 1990s. The main difference being that this flick mostly skimps on the gratuitous nudity. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Killer Image”

Shitty Movie Sundays: In Hell

If this movie had been made in the 1980s, it could have been a real banger. Action films in the ’80s had a reckless, cartoonish quality that was no longer chic by 2003, when In Hell was released. Things had to be gritty and miserable for the characters (thank you very much, David Fincher), and that, in turn, made things less fun for us, the moviegoing public. But, lest I heap all the blame on producers and studios, it was the moviegoing public that steered action in this direction, by sending streams of disposable income towards dark and desperate movies, and forcing Arnold Scwarzenegger into the theme restaurant business. Forgive us, Arnold! Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: In Hell”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Enemies Closer (2013)

Jack Webb and Harry Morgan. Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell. Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal (this actually happened). Buddy action duos extraordinaire. Now, get ready for…Tom Everett Scott and Orlando Jones?

Today’s film is proof that actors aren’t the only Hollywood folk that slum it in the latter stages of their careers. Peter Hyams, who had a decent run as a mainstream filmmaker, including that aforementioned Hines and Crystal collab, wrapped up his directorial career with Enemies Closer. He was a hired gun for this flick, and, if information on the internet can be trusted, was intrigued by the prospect of shooting a low-budget action flick with a tight shooting schedule. Whatever the reason was for taking on this project, his skill as a filmmaker is probably what keeps this flick from falling into the nether reaches of the Watchability Index. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Enemies Closer (2013)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Money Plane

One would think that professional wrestlers are tailormade action stars. They are athletic, charismatic, decent at improv, and willing to do just about anything to put on a good show. Also, one of the most important weapons in a wrestler’s arsenal is the ability to play a character. These men and women spend months or years crafting characters to which roaring crowds respond, either favorably, in the case of faces, or with gleeful jeers, in the case of heels. These are people who know how to work crowds, but remove the crowds, leaving nothing but cameras and crew, and the vast majority of wrestlers turned actor seem a bit lost. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Money Plane”

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: The Defender (2004)

At first glance, this flick doesn’t look like much. It’s just another direct-to-video action flick with a miniscule budget, a small cast led by a Hollywood b-lister, and just a single location where all the fun stuff happens. It’s about as anonymous as these types of flicks get. Then, one looks a little deeper. It stars Dolph Lundgren. No surprise there. He’s starred in dozens of these types of films. This is also the first one he directed. Shitty movie fans rejoice! But, that’s not all.

This is also a very topical film, in a way most b-movies never bother with. It was released in 2004, at the height of The Global War on Terror, as it was dubbed in the political wonkiverse. The United States was engaged in two very bloody wars, and looking with paranoiac diligence for enemies wherever they may be. No one could be trusted, and this film, believe it or not, captures a lot of the prevailing mood of the time. But, there’s still more! Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Defender (2004)”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Torso, aka I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale

Viewers of gialli would be hard-pressed to find a film that ticks more of the genre’s boxes than 1973’s Torso, from writers Ernesto Gastaldi and Sergio Martino, with direction by Martino. It has copious amounts of gratuitous nudity, a killer who stalks women, a final reveal of the killer’s motivations that makes little sense, and enough blood and guts that the film bleeds over into the slasher horror genre.

In Perugia, Italy, a killer sets his sights on lovely female students of a local university. The women are stereotypical free spirits of the age; into drugs, sex, and nude sunbathing. They stand out amongst the stodgier parts of contemporary Italian society, not least because their miniskirts reach nowhere close to the knees. Martino seems to take glee in showing the clash between the prudes and the debauched. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Torso, aka I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale”