Shitty Movie Sundays: Day the World Ended & In the Year 2889

What a pair of movies this turned out to be. Day the World Ended is an early Roger Corman flick from 1955, while In the Year 2889 is a made-for-TV remake from 1969 that used an almost identical script. Only the names were changed to protect the innocent.

Written by Lou Rusoff, that script tells the story of a small group that survives a nuclear apocalypse. World War Three has ravaged the world, silencing the cities of Earth and bathing the planet in radioactive fallout. But not in an isolated patch of rugged Southwestern landscape. Former Navy officer Jim Maddison (Paul Birch) has spent the last decade preparing for nuclear war. He has built his house nestled in between hills containing lead ore, which helps block radiation. Winds sweep through nearby canyons, creating a cushion of air that fallout can’t penetrate. I don’t know if any of this holds up to scientific scrutiny, but considering this is a 1950s sci-fi b-movie, I doubt it. It doesn’t matter, anyway. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Day the World Ended & In the Year 2889″

Shitty Movie Sundays: SST: Death Flight, aka Death Flight

SST: Death Flight newspaper adverstisementThis is exactly the kind of cheese I look for from a television movie in the days before prestige TV. Cheap production values, a bad script, and an ‘all-star’ cast slumming it for an easy paycheck. Also, it helps to rip off a popular cinematic film series — in this case, the Airport franchise.

It was something of a minor industrial embarrassment for the United States that the only supersonic transport (SST) planes ever in passenger service were run by France and the UK. In this film’s fictional universe, that oversight has been rectified, in the form of the Cutlass Aircraft Maiden 1, an SST whose special effects miniature looks to have been cobbled together from two or three different Revell model kits (the effects in this flick are bad, bad, bad).

After a final shakedown flight, it is time to take passengers onboard, for a trip from New York to Paris that will only take a little over two hours. It’s a big day for Cutlass, as future purchase orders for the plane hinge on its performance during this flight. As such, Cutlass has entrusted the plane to a very serious pilot, in Captain Jim Walsh (a post-Brady Bunch Robert Reed, still rocking the perm). Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: SST: Death Flight, aka Death Flight”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes

Oh, woe is this horror franchise. First in the hands of Samuel Z. Arkoff and American International Pictures, then picked up, with a trademark dispute, by Dino De Laurentiis and his company, and now, for this fourth film, into the grasp of American network television. Has any other iconic horror franchise been treated so poorly? I can’t think of one.

Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes, from 1989, is, believe it or not, not the worst horror film I’ve ever seen. But, it’s from the time before the internet age, when network television movies were a special kind of anti-art, purposefully devoid of most sharp edges. Yes, this was the era of television movies that brought us Roots, but there was a definite ceiling to the quality of a TV movie. Film critic Leonard Maltin, in his gigantic movie guide books, would not award stars to television movies, instead rating them as ‘below average,’ ‘average,’ or ‘above average.’ That makes sense. The difference in quality between television and film in the heyday of Maltin’s books was a vast gulf compared to today. This particular television movie I would rate as average. Had it been intended for cinema, I would rate it a ‘bomb.’ Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Mazes and Monsters

This isn’t the trailer. This is the climax. Go ahead and watch it. You will have missed nothing of consequence in the rest of the film.

I enjoy seeing movies from the early days of a star’s career. Not all stars were fortunate enough to burst onto the scene out of nowhere, but rather had to put in the low level, unglamorous grunt work that us normal people must endure when starting out. That’s how we got such historic performances from George Clooney in Return of the Killer Tomatoes, Kevin Bacon in Friday the 13th, and Jennifer Aniston in Leprechaun. Watching these films, there is no indication at all that these were future stars. I can now add another film to the Shitty Movie Sundays athenaeum featuring a then-unknown star. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Mazes and Monsters”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Disaster on the Coastliner

I miss movies like 1979’s Disaster on the Coastliner. Once upon a time, before they started getting killed by cable, American TV networks used to fill empty spots in their schedules with homegrown shitty movies. Turn on one of the networks on a Sunday night and there was likely to be some quickie disaster flick or an epic miniseries adaptation of a Gore Vidal or James Clavell novel. This stuff was absolute garbage but also absolutely unmissable. Shogun, North and South, The Thorn Birds, The Big One, The Day After...on and on. The networks developed a short-form storytelling pedigree that they seem to have abandoned overnight. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Disaster on the Coastliner”