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OK, I understand that writing a review of Alien Private Eye is like
down an abandoned missile silo in north-central Kansas in the middle of a
blizzard. Maybe somebody'll spot my mortal remains in the spring, maybe
not. I write this in the faint hope that some fellow collector of video
trash has found a copy in a bin somewhere, and is wondering whether it's
worth $2.00, 3 for $5.00, and is checking out imdb.
Fellow wanderer from the 21st century, cop this treasure and you'll never be alone the rest of your life. People will follow you around in public begging to borrow it, and hotties of both sexes will throw pebbles against your windowpane at 3:30AM to try and get you to come out and play, and, oh, please bring THAT TAPE.
Maybe the weirdest part about this turd-on-tape is that all concerned didn't drop off the edge of the earth after it was...released? ejected?? The producer/ director/ writer/ honeywagon driver, Vik Rubenfeld (all over the credits simply as--VIKK, just--VIKK) has one other professional credit: executive producer of the syndie Early Edition. Hey, better than what I've got. Aspiring showbiz types, remember this. It IS possible to fall in pigsh*t in the movie bidness and arise ten years later smelling like a tea rose.
The protagonist, Nikki Fastinetti, does in fact look like one of the Pini's elves, particularly after gluing on the pointy ears that are the only indication he's an alien. Seriously, there's no other aspect of his being that has anything to do with his being from another world. He has no special powers, no interesting anatomical anomalies, no scene in which he beams up out of danger. His clothes, though. Oh sweet lord his clothes. Mr. Fastinetti is garbed throughout in the most amazing pimp vines imaginable. All I can guess is that these were either left over from some other production, or the director's girlfriend whipped these up in a moment of pure inspiration and wouldn't be denied.
But John Alexander's in it (Mikey from MIB). And Robert Axelrod, who's had one of those great careers that show that there is a middle ground in Hollywood between stardom and utter obscurity, a place where nice people buy cars on time and get mortgages and take budget-conscious vacations and build sensible stock portfolios (OK, for all I know Robert Axelrod is a painthuffing derelict who lives in a packing crate, but given his career of steady work and respectable little parts, it COULD happen).
Also something called "Nur Nur," one Nur Nur Cummings, who's overcome the stigma of being called Nur Nur and has actually produced another crappy movie. Nur Nur plays the #2 alien, and looks a whole lot like Mark Blankfield (and if that's before your time, a butch Gene Wilder). Nur Nur does the entire movie in a Peter Lorre voice. Not vaguely Peter Lorre, but a full-on Peter Lorre. Why? Only Nur Nur and his father confessor know. Like Lemro's alien-ness, it has absolutely nothing to do with anything else in the movie.
Cliff Adduddell hasn't done anything else, though. He doesn't need to. Cliff Adduddell is Kilgore, the bad guy. Kilgore is EVIL. Kilgore has a picture of Adolf Hitler, about the size of a baseball trading card, mounted 'way high up on the wall of his sanctum sanctorum, that he passionately worships. Kilgore snarls, emotes, shoots underlings, and is as much fun to watch as three seven-year-old boys with superhero capes on a backyard trampoline. His double-take near the end of the movie is an American classic. You'll howl, you'll throw things, you'll cop the shot as PC wallpaper.
What else? Oh, in the big sunfight between Nikki and the bad guys, watch for the ol' Switched Girlfriends Ploy. It's like Kilgore's Big Take, I won't attempt to describe it-watch it, savor it, rewind over and over again.
Do you treasure your multiple copies of Housegeist, each with a different title? Then find Alien Private Eye and store it in your nitrogen-atmosphere, 42º preservation vault, along with all the other great movies in your collection that you're 1000% sure will never, ever, ever see on DVD.
Julius Harris and Meg Foster on the same set with Matthew Bright and Richard
Elfman and it still SUCKS? That's an achievement in itself. I mean, you
could film Julius Harris and Meg Foster sitting in Barcaloungers discussing
the top five turkeys each has been in or the five wildest wrap parties
they've attended, and get 90 minutes of interesting film. You could film 90
minutes of Rebecca Herbst playing beach volleyball in a string bikini in
slow motion and be 90 minutes ahead of Shrunken Heads in basic entertainment
value. Why bother with all the additional time and effort to extrude this
You sit through what seems like hours of set-up, a lame, stylized, West-Side-Storyish plot backed by imitation Danny Elfman incidental music that just keeps telling us and telling us to bear with it, folks, this is all just clever as hell, pretty soon we're going to swing into action here, and then...nothing.
I mean, I think there should be a cable channel that runs nothing but Freeway 24 hours a day. How is it possible that the guy responsible for Freeway can't see that HIS MOVIE DOESN'T HAVE AN ENDING? It just STOPS.
Seriously, I haven't been this ticked off at such a major waste of film stock since Blue Monkey.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is like four nine-year-olds sitting around discussing who'd win if
Jesus and Superman did battle. Or a horrible novel I read years ago that
went to great pains to engineer a climactic battle between a polar bear
a great white shark, in front of paying spectators.
Here, it's a battle (and no, this isn't a spoiler, the "battle" goes on for seven or eight hours) between a Porsche Group One racer and a Sabre jet (misidentified throughout the MST version as a Phantom). To set this up, you have to get into a whole Battlefield Earth thing of ancient jets and racecars running on magic fuel that can sit around for decades in abandoned fuel storage tanks that the pilot and driver can find across the entire US but which somehow escaped detection throughout all the bad years of chaos when They turned the oil off.
Then you get into the Final Sacrifice zone, where the non-hardware stuff in the movie just kind of happens because it's got to or the movie couldn't lurch forward, eh? Roads are clear and well-maintained after years of disuse, soldiers move swiftly around the country in (presumably) animal-powered transport, the entire US is polkadotted with remote TV cameras at apparently hundred-foot intervals, even though there's no vehicles to drive out and service them AND NOTHING FOR THEM TO MONITOR ANYWAY YOU DIPSH... OK, I'm better now. And an ancient golden city doesn't rise up out of an Alberta wheatfield, so I guess it isn't as bad as it COULD be.
Of course, the Sabre Jet and the Porsche never actually do anything more than roll/drive towards each other, once. Nor does Chris Makepeace put on a Merry Widow and purple eyeshadow and do the Time Warp with Lee Majors, either. So I'm not clear on what Last Chase was supposed to accomplish. Nothing much happens, nothing makes a lot of sense, subplots sprout, wither and die without ever seeing the light of day...
I've got it! This was intended as a screen-saver for your TV! Canadians, being a judicious and parsimonious race, will suffer not the slightest risk of losing a perfectly good television to burning-in, so create movies like this to keep the screen phosphors occupied and happy! It was never INTENDED to be a "movie," for godsake!
Whew. I feel much better now, having figured this all out.
I ignored this title for years at my local whacked-out video emporium. When
I finally broke down and rented Cane Toads, for the first thirty or forty
minutes I watched politely as Mark Lewis unfolded his little story of toads,
Australians, and Holdens of every year, color, and condition swerving to
avoid/hit one of God's little jokes on the open road. I mean, it's OK, but
why has this thing been in print for a decade and a half?
Then about 2/3 of the way through I got the giggles. This is DESPERATELY messed up. If you hang out with any biology majors, Cane Toads is absolutely required reading. If you don't, just think how wrecked you'd have to stay on Foster's before you'd let your terminally cute four-year-daughter play Barbies with a creature from Hell itself that comes pre-loaded with 10cc of hallucinogenic toxins in its skin.
Cane Toads is what Fast, Cheap and Out of Control should have been. Proof that sometimes it's a lot more effective to speak quietly than yell.
Sure, you're not going to watch "Bugged" expecting to be scared. Or
impressed with the acting, camerawork, or set design. Or intrigued by the
clever and insightful plot. I mean, KAUFMAN AND HERZ released it -
So why bother? Because it's like going to a decent college production of some obscure Restoration comedy - overcoming incredible odds, occasionally you'll actually get sucked in to the action. Ron Armstrong wants (or at least at one time wanted) to make movies. He actually gets one financed. He can't write for squat - "serums" and "brilliant paper, doctor" and "tests on human subjects," I mean, y'all gotta STOP - and he can't do much with his actors, which is kind of a shame, because some of them aren't bad at all.
But, listen, folks, I watched this immediately after watching "Feeders." Armstrong starts looking like a young Orson Welles by comparison. He got it done, he got Troma to distribute it, it has a beginning and an end and most of the time you can tell what's supposed to be happening on screen. Some of the close-up work is FINE. And a couple of his actors might actually have small, undistinguished careers for themselves in this business. You think you can do better your first time out? Get of your *** and prove it.
All I can figure is that the title turned off the people who should have
seen this movie, and attracted people who were looking for a maintenance
dose between Speed and Speed 2. Freeway is so bloody twisted, it'll take
you WEEKS to recover. The script is the biggest collection of quotable
lines since Repo Man. Reese Witherspoon ascends into heaven, as a True
Goddess of Bent Cinema. And there hasn't been a supporting cast this tight,
right down to the guy giving Chopper the finger, since Office
I don't care what you've got in your collection, if you haven't got this it'll be the biggest addition since you discovered `Freaked.' Speaking of which, Brooke Shields is ALSO in Freeway, and just like in Freeway, gives you one less reason to hate her like bone cancer. (Did she always have a lisp, or did she work that up for the movie?)
Memo to whoever's got the rights: get me a shirt with the picture of Reese Witherspoon sticking her tongue out that Dan Hedaya shows Kiefer Sutherland, and I'll order six, XXXL.
See, when I go to my local used tape store, I write down a bunch of titles
and check 'em out on imdb. I got Bug Buster on the basis of the seriously
negative reviews, and, by and large, it was pretty bad.
The big problem is that Lorenzo Wossname that directed this bumph doesn't know how to move his actors around on a set and have them speak clearly and distinctly into the camera, moving their hands when required to convey emotion-OK, OK, the guy can't direct for squat. The plot creaks when it moves, and the only original thought in the entire movie is turning Bernie Kopell into a love god.
And, yeah, the Quaid sucks on toast. And, yeah, the Julie Brown character is even worse. But, dammit, Meredith Salenger overcomes the lousy direction, and her last scene is really disturbing and convincing, to the extent that I replayed it just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating from too much Diet Dr. Pepper. And the Mama Bug at the end wasn't half bad, for having been constructed at a total cost of a new Kia Sephia with a crappy radio.
So, frankly, I wish it'd been a lot worse. If I lay down five bucks for a used tape, I want it to bite majorly. I want it to make Night of Horror look like The Innocents. I want to strengthen my belief in the futility of human endeavor.
This wasn't bad enough. Sure, it's a mess, both completely unbelievable and with every plot twist and virtually every line stolen from somebody else. But it's nicely shot, Johnny Legend is in it and is pretty good, Meredith Salenger overcomes an earlier speech she was forced to make at gunpoint about how nice her boobs are and does something she can be proud of, and the Mama Bug provided an OK finish.
Rats. Oh, well. On the same trip I also copped Pink Motel, and I have high hopes.
OK, why does Microwave Massacre NOT make you want to rush forward to push
its candidacy for World's Worst Movie? It's got everything the other
comments talk about - horrifying acting, script, camera work, and effects.
But MM adds a new dimension of badness - it's DEPRESSING. You don't want to
call up your friends and tell them about the great new bad movie you've
discovered, you don't want to get bumper stickers and t-shirts printed up.
You want to pull the shades, put a damp towel over your eyes, and get
heavily medicated as fast as is humanly possible.
See, Jackie Vernon not only used to be funny, but at one point he was almost hip. His stand-up routines occasionally took some chances and tried for something new, and stood apart from such sixties and seventies schlockmeisters as Jackie Kahane and Norm Crosby. Here even the joke-jokes (as opposed to script-driven jokes) are awesomely unfunny: "What do you get when you double-cross an exorcist and a Mafia hit man? Beats the hell out of me."
The script is from "an original story." Wow. A guy who kills his wife and chops up hookers and makes great sandwiches from the... Managgia. All I can say is that if you do find the terrifically well-packaged reissue of this mason jar full of pond scum and decide it'd make a great party movie, WATCH IT FIRST. Make sure your potential invitees aren't homicidal, suicidal, subject to seizures, or inclined to turn violently on those who do them wrong. Or, wear your Kevlar jockey shorts.
To quote Crow, "At what point does it stop being a movie?"
A few years ago, this showed up on everybody's Ten Worst list. Then with
the explosion of videotape, giving people access to hundreds of really
godawful movies, Butterfly kind of drifted off into obscurity.
It's time to bring it back to the front. This movie seriously reeks. Pia Zadora has as much business standing in front of a movie camera as Judge Judy in a thong. I've seen classier emoting in the vice-principal's office. Sensual? Actually, she looks like a legal secretary who ate a bad clam for lunch, and her face is puffing up pretty bad. Let's face it, her acting peaked in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians; watch carefully, and you'll see her flash the camera, thankfully revealing nothing whatsoever.
Stacy Keach tries to maintain his dignity, James Franciscus gets the only good bit in the movie as a spectacular slimeball, and Ed McMahon shows up at one point playing a rich, drunk Irishman - make up your own joke.
But it's the script that makes Butterfly worth renting, worth owning, and worth demanding on DVD. This is one of those rare bad scripts that thrusts itself into the forefront past bad actors, bad direction, and the most ludicrous costume design since Myra Breckinridge. Seek it out, invite friends over, and everybody can slam a brewski every time the camera zooms in for an overlit shot of Mz Pia looking up into the lens and slitting her eyes (that's "expressing deep feeling"), or Stacy Keach making a strange face like he just caught something dreadful in his zipper (so's that).
There's a whole generation out there who never heard of James M. Cain, and it's our job to get the Truth to the Youth.
So my list was down to three: Skiddoo, Myra Breckinridge, and Fire Sale.
Three movies that were going to elude me forever. Skiddoo finally turned
from a friend of a friend who knew a guy... Fire Sale is out there on
but apparently will NEVER be released. And one day I walked into a local
independent video store that I'd somehow missed over the years (sound like
crappy short story, much?) and there it was - Myra Breckinridge, FOR RENT
ITS ORIGINAL BOX.
Un. B. Leevabul.
The only emotive comparison I can make is to getting really intoxicated and then drinking so much coffee that you're a fully-wired drunk. SOMETHING'S going on on that screen, and it's obviously terribly clever and sarcastic, but every time you think you've got it figured out, it starts banging into doorframes and stumbling over the coffee table. I've watched this mess half a dozen times, and I can't figure out where it went wrong, or what could have been done to make it work.
OK-try this. Myra Breckinridge is like Xanadu, except that Olivia Newton-John is dressed in a cute black leather Nazi uniform throughout, and Michael Beck appears in every scene with a plastic phallus strapped to his forehead. And you just KNOW that that MEANS something, you just can't quite figure it out.
If you're serious about Movies Gone Wrong, Myra Breckinridge is an indispensable part of your education, as is Skiddoo. But fair warning - no drugs, no alcohol, no nicotine, no caffeine, and watch your sugar intake. You want to see this one as stone cold sober as you've ever been in your life.
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