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Nasty and vicious
30 May 2010
Sorry, racists. Even if you can ignore the endless hyuk-yukkin' (cause you know they all talks that way) and the scenes of weary but happy slaves/sharecroppers/happy non-exempt employees with good dental plans singing lustily as they stroll in the gloaming towards home, Song of the South sucks on toast.

Story lines are dropped like cell phone calls in a salt mine, characters act because the script says so, not from any meaningful motivation, and the relations between the races are as believable as the relations between Hogan's Heroes and the Wehrmacht.

Particularly offensive is the scene where Bobby Driscoll's daddy comes home, speaks to his son, and is rewarded by the little newt calling out in pain for Uncle Remus.

As far as the underlying morality of the story, yeah, sure, I took Cultural Anthro in school because that's where the hot babes were: I know that every culture has its tales of The Trickster. I ALSO know that the kid's mother was 1000% right in cutting him off from Uncle Remus--I don't want MY six-year-old having some old guy in a shack teaching him that you win in life by lies, deceit, and misdirection. Nice stuff.

Get real. The only thing worth preserving for future generations here is the story of the Tar Baby. "He got into big trouble because he messed with something he didn't know about and never should have messed with in the first place," or words to that effect. I WISH we could have used that line over and over during the ramping up of the Iraq War.

Otherwise, you take the time and expense to glam onto a copy of this fece, you'll watch it once, be really p.o.'d the only thing worth watching is the twenty minutes or so of animation, put it on the shelf, and never, never, never, never watch it again.
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Why you should demand the release of this movie on DVD
9 March 2010
We saw this on a decent-sized screen at a showing presented by the Mexican Consulate (!). The "monsters" are so hilariously bizarre that your treasured memories of vampire women and Aztec mummies will be left in the dust.

But why go on? All you need to know is that Santo and Blue Demon vs the Monsters contains the following line from mad scientist Otto Halder, as he confronts the entire crew of good guys in his lab, all momentarily under his power: "You called me insane!" (Turns to evil invention, calmly.) "I will now disintegrate my niece."

What more could a True Believer ask from a movie than a line like that?
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Tell the truth, kids
11 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
As noted, there's a lot to like about Lemora. The cinematography in places is shockingly good, some of the night exteriors in particular. Robert Caramico, who shot it, was already a blooded professional, his first credit being Orgy of the Dead, and he went on to another dozen and a half movies before his untimely death. The low budget is apparent from time to time: note that at some point Caramico set up on a hillside overlooking a roadway at night, took the same shot half a dozen times of every vehicle used in the production passing by beneath, and then Blackburn scattered them throughout the picture.

Anyway, the problem is the Big Finish, where vampires leap on churchgoers and vice versa. It sucks. It means nothing. You can watch the film a dozen times and it still makes no sense whatsoever. You want to know why a terrific little flick like Lemora isn't on everybody's top-ten list of cult masterpieces? The ending. Boo. Hiss. The little snapper at the finish, which you could see coming a mile away with its brights on, gives Cheryl Smith a chance to be a hot babe for about two minutes, after a marvelous, utterly believable performance as a simpering virgin 2/3 her real age.

But boy that ending. As clear a failure of a scriptwriter's ability to produce as the ending of Blazing Saddles.
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Tobacco Road (1941)
Vicious, mean-spirited, and demeaning
2 June 2009
By sheer chance, I happened to get hold of copies of three difficult-to- find DVD's within about a month of each other: Tobacco Road, Tortilla Flat, and Song of the South (this is the 21st century, kids, EVERYTHING is available if you look hard enough).

What a nasty insight into the mindset of America in the 1940's: let's all us respectable white folk rush to buy tickets to see darkies, white trash, and wetbacks demean themselves. Here's a quick test to see if you want to hunt this particular vile artifact of our politically incorrect past down: do you think Gene Tierney rolling around in the dirt trying (unsuccessfully) to get a genetic defective to come over and give her a little pleasurin' is A) side-splittingly hilarious B) stomach-wrenching? If your sides aren't already aching with laughter, pass.
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Fresno (1986– )
As good or better than you remember...
27 May 2009
It's a mini-series, they had several hours to fill, so, no, it doesn't play like a movie. Fresno does drag a bit in the second half. Doesn't matter. Relax, enjoy, and look for the details: Anthony Heald, as noted elsewhere, is hilarious; breakfast at the Kensingtons' involves Terri Garr and Carol Burnett dressing for a Presidential Inaugural Ball and tossing Bloody Marys in quick succession, with Terri Garr's gown, at one point, nearly releasing BOTH bazongas onto the tablecloth, worth the price of admission on its own; there was clearly someone in on the script who's spent a LOT of time in the Central Valley, f'rinstance Jerry Van Dyke as a country bar owner named Tucker Agajanian, or the marvelous fly-in shot at the opening. And, yeah, from time to time they DO show a print of this at various artistic functions in Fresno.

Now, I understand and comply with the guidelines posted for IMDb that says Thou Shalt Not Discuss Availability. But there's an easy way to find out for sure. Just Google the name of the show, with the URL of the IMDb entry. Oh, yeah--remember to enclose it all in quotes, so you don't use up a lot of resources unnecessarily searching the entire Net.

Like this:

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Dondi (1961)
Please, please, preserve your lovely memories...
26 May 2009
...and do NOT go looking for Dondi to share with your kids.

I've got 'em all, kids, four hundred titles of the vilest filth and degradation ever burned into film. I've got Alien Private Eye, three different copies of Skidoo, Puffing Your Profits with Balloons, and two different releases of Night of Horror. Dondi, Chairman of the Board, and The Misery Brothers are the only three movies I own that neither I nor any of my fellow Stinker Ninjas can sit through in one shot.

Yeah. It's that bad. Remember, you can't blame the kid for the horrifying lines, the brain-damaged phrasing, or the ketchup-on-pizza accent: this is 1000% on the head of Zugsmith, unless Gus Edson contributed anything but the title to earn his writer's credit. Ever see Sex Kittens Go to College? There's that same sickening feeling about ten minutes in, that there is no God, no hope, and that the balance of the universe can be restored only by deep-frying Al Zugsmith's carcass like a Thanksgiving turkey on the deck of a double-wide for all eternity.

Gak, yuk ptooey, and Gah! Prunes!

Now, several commenters have mentioned that this isn't available on VHS or DVD. There's one way to find out for sure: google the name of the movie and the IMDb URL for Dondi. Oh, and to save Google money, enclose the name Dondi and that IMDb URL for Dondi in quotes, like,


Them electrons is expensive.

Anyway, this way you'll know for sure.
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Sorry, bad news direction, uncomfortable script
14 October 2008
We're working through the films of our younger days; some are astonishingly better than we remember (Rebel Without A Cause, Summer Place), some are absolutely unwatchable (The Apartment).

Sorry, this is Category II. Cukor is the problem: a visitor from a distant galaxy could instantly recognize that we're supposed to already know that Judy Holliday is hilarious, that there's going to be big boffo laffs, and that she can therefore play it very, very small and, OK, here's the huge pause in the action so you've got time for the obligatory laugh. Awful.

That's before we get to the content of the cruel, demeaning script. Politically incorrect? Of course, but even without that it has no compunctions about embarrassing the principals for humorous purpose. Pity, because what Judy Holliday is doing here is incredibly quirky and individual, like a young Shirley Maclaine.
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When does it stop being a movie?
6 February 2006
We're exploring new territory, kids.

Think of all the icons and touchstones of Bad Bad Bad we love and respect: Manos, Plan 9, Eegah! Think of all the big-budget stinkburgers we've forced friends and relatives to sit through, trying to infect them with our disease: Skiddoo, Myra Breckinridge, Showgirls. Think of how we all felt when we realized that MST was only able to scratch the surface of Bad, since they had to track down the perpetrators and get rights, and since they had to stick to movies that COULD be ripped. I mean, how do you make fun of Acid Eaters, Night of Horror, Broadway Jungle? Now, for you lucky ones, you true connoisseurs of cr*p, think about those very special flicks even you couldn't take in one sitting, the absolutely unwatchable: Misery Brothers, Jimmy the Boy Wonder, Microwave Massacre.

This. Is. Worse. This is hallucinatorily bad. This is so much further down the scale than Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare that you'll laugh hysterically rereading all the one-star Comments on IMDb for the original-poor fools! You think this is bad? Wait till the sequel comes out twenty years later, then you'll REALLY see something that'll bring up your lunch!

If you believe, really believe, in the healing power of bad film, this is a can't-miss. No hints, no clues as to what you'll be exposed to-OK, just one: the magic scene in which Jon-Mikl, now pushing three hundred pounds, in floppy rubber armor, is attacked in a park by a SINGLE STRAND of Swedish ivy. Does he defeat it with his mighty broadsword? You'll never know till you see The Original Rock Warrior in...INTERCESSOR!!!!
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Deep, homicidal impulses rise to the surface like bubbles in a tar pit
19 July 2003
I think if you haven't seen this-thing-the other comments pretty much cover what goes on up there on the little screen.

[Actually, let's establish right here that no matter how detailed the comments are, there really is NO WAY IN HELL you can possibly imagine what actually goes on up there on the little screen without actually seeing this horrifying cowflop. But I digress.]

So I'd like to make a comment, vs. write a review. I've mentioned in other Comments that I found out early on that, in my hunt for the world's worst movies, there's different dimensions of "worst." There's big-budget worst (Skiddoo, Myra Breckrindge, Battlefield Earth), low-budget why-are-watching-this? worst (no finer example than Night of Horror), utterly whack wolverine-hit-by-a-car-eating-its-own-leg worst (Troll 2, Blood Freak), stately, elegant, completely insane worst (Godmonster of Indian Flats! Godmonster of Indian Flats!), run-screaming-from-the-theater worst (King Kung Fu), and just-plain-depressing worst (Pink Motel, Microwave Massacre).

Jimmy, the Boy Wonder, creates its own class of worst. Jimmy, the Boy Wonder, makes you want to rise, smoldering, from your Barcalounger, go out on the street, and assault perfect strangers with a two-quart Mason jar full of nickels. It makes you want to get a buddy with a jailhouse tattoo, drive to western Kansas, and do an entire family of hardworking Republicans in a remote farmhouse. It makes you want to go to an orphanage and pour sugar in the gas tanks of the busses. Jimmy, the Boy Wonder is violence-inducing worst. Instead of Mike and the Bots, Jimmy, the Boy Wonder needs a simple silhouette of Sam Kinison at the bottom of the screen, going, "AAAAAAH! AAAAHHHHH! AAAAAAAHHHHH!" for ninety minutes, to help you scream away your pain, but it won't help, believe me, it won't help, your humanity will fall from you and you will run out like a horde of Mongols on hairy ponies looking for a nunnery to despoil.

There's my comment. I'm going to go watch Night of the Zombies about forty times to wipe the memory of Jimmy, the Boy Wonder out of my mind.
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Where did this nice little flick go wrong?
26 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Almost twenty years after I first saw this on HBO, I found a copy for a buck in a bookstore, without a slipcase, and figured it was worth checking out to see if the scene with Maren Jensen in the tub with the snake was as thoroughly dumb*ss as I remembered.

Kind of a shock. Most of it was so good that it became irritating that Wes Craven blew the chance to make a true minor classic by cheaping out on the script. Run down the list: There's SIX of the hottest women ever to grace the screen (oh, please DO include Colleen Riley-rrrowwwf!) AND Jeff East, so good-looking you want to punch him in the nose. There's some absolutely gorgeous photography of the Texas countryside. There's some of Wes Craven's trademark completely original set-pieces. And, also as usual, he does a terrific job of somehow shamelessly exploiting the women while letting them keep their dignity-only David Lynch gets away with this to the extent that Wes Craven does.

But, boy, is that script messed up. Censer-swinging, hymn-singing Amish? OK, not Amish, "Hittites," supposedly up-tighter than Amish-and they burn incense? Storylines that go absolutely nowhere-***SPOILER****Faith is a WHAT???? Uh, yeah, and actually, so what? Ernest Borgnine keeps ranting about the "incubus"-ultimately, what does this have to do with the Hittites? Did they bring it on themselves, or are they the only ones who can deal with it, because they're sufficiently righteous? And, oh, yeah, by the way, did anyone actually look up "incubus" in the dictionary before they used the term?

Then there's that big near-the-end scene that others have commented on. Guns go off, knives are waved about, women in jeans, women in nightgowns, guys in women's clothing, hot babes in designer clothes are all running around to no real purpose, and eventually several end up dead. The End. Or not, if you got the longer version where a demon rises up through the floorboards for no reason anybody can figure out.

And it's really irritating, because there's flashes here of serious talent that Wes Craven apparently stifled because this movie didn't make a nickel. A couple of the countryside shots started looking a whole lot like "Days of Heaven."

Oh. More spoiler. The bathtub scene was, in fact, as dumb*ss as remembered. Maren Jensen shucks her clothes and climbs in, clearly and unequivocally buck nekkid. When the snake climbs in with her and she starts to jump around in the tub, she's magically donned a black bikini bottom. Come ON, Wes. This is your money shot. Either pay Maren the extra bucks for the full frontal or cut this thing better to keep her pelvis out of the shot.
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Adventures of a Pini Elf in a Pimp Suit
13 April 2003
OK, I understand that writing a review of Alien Private Eye is like falling 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.
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...or as Blaise Pascal so eloquently put it, "This sucks, majorly"
15 March 2003
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 fece?

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.
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Battlefield Earth meets Final Sacrifice
24 December 2002
Warning: 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 and 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.
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1 September 2002
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.
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Bugged (1997)
Cut it some slack
25 August 2002
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 - what?

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.
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Freeway (1996)
"You gonna sex me now?"
28 July 2002
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 Space.

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.
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Bug Buster (1998)
I wish it were worse
22 July 2002
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.
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You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll want to take a bath in kerosene
1 July 2002
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?"
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Butterfly (1982)
Throw her a robe
5 May 2002
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.
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All you dreamed of, and even weirder than that...
7 April 2002
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 up from a friend of a friend who knew a guy... Fire Sale is out there on 35mm, 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 a crappy short story, much?) and there it was - Myra Breckinridge, FOR RENT IN 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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Skidoo (1968)
Whatever it takes
7 April 2002
It took me years to find a copy of this, and I can tell you in all sincerity that it's worth whatever it takes to see it, not once, but as often as you can. If it shows up at a local film festival, make sure you see every showing. If it's shown once, make sure you cajole, bribe, or threaten every friend you've got to come along. Because otherwise you're going to spend the next year in a walking trance, stopping perfect strangers and trying to describe this...THING... you saw, where Groucho Marx and Frankie Avalon and John Philip, you've GOT to LISTEN to me!

Read all the other comments, read anything you can find on this monstrosity, and you'll still be only half-prepared for what you're going to see. The only two other films I can think of that so exceeded even their own outrageous hype were Blood Freak and Godmonster of Indian Flats. But, hey, those were low-budget obscurities. Skidoo was a HUGE production - and, unfortunately, I can't imagine this is EVER going to be released on DVD, VHS, CD, cassette, or eight-track, because I can't imagine the Preminger estate wanting any trace of Skidoo to surface ever again.

Carol Channing in bra and tights. Groucho Marx on a wood screw. Dancing garbage cans. Sure, sure, sure. You've heard the stories. But, lordie, there's sooooo much more....
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Blue Monkey (1987)
Ooh! That's scary, keeds!
31 March 2002
All this dismaying waste of film stock needs is Count Floyd popping up every sixty seconds. Somehow they got Steve Railsback, Susan Anspach, John Vernon, and Joe Flaherty together on a set and couldn't get within five miles, about eight kilometers, of an actual movie. BOY does this thing suck. There isn't one original line, thought, shot, or effect from brainless opening sequence to brainless close. The magical, ethereal Susan Anspach of Five Easy Pieces - boring. Steve Railsback - boring. John Vernon - boring. The big bug - boring. If this is a scary movie, Buttercream Gang is a thuglife documentary.

Seriously - every bad movie contains its own explanation of its badness. Usually it's in the opening credits - "Written, Directed, and Produced by" one guy. Or at the very center of the action is some bimbo so talentless that you know there's one and only one reason this turkey got made. Here, you don't find out till the very last of the credits, where the cooperation of about a dozen subfunctions of the Canadian Government is gratefully acknowledged.

Right now I'm watching MST's take on Beast of Yucca Flats to get the taste out of my mouth. Ghod, what an improvement.
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Mandatory viewing for the seriously Tyrrell-deficient
2 February 2002
I don't remember what link originally took me to the listing for Night Warning, but it's been a while. I lucked out and saw a showing at a local weird-film society last year; a couple of months ago I finally found a copy with a little green price tag on the box sitting on a shelf in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Whatever it takes. Whatever you have to do to get this on your VCR and mastered directly onto your brain. Let nothing stand between you and your own personal copy of Night Warning. Night Warning is as bent as it gets in mainstream filmmaking, and that special time from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties where a project like this could get funded and shot is gone forever.

The one big problem with the film is the director. William Asher isn't up to the script and the cast. He's strictly a TV director, so when the going gets weird, he gets pedestrian. It's not laughably bad or even amusingly lame, but his direction is the only reason this thing isn't showing today at midnight movies in every college town in the Western Hemisphere.

Here's what you get for the price of your ticket: Bo Swenson being hateful beyond anything you'd ever imagined he was capable of. Julia Duffy's delightful, unencumbered young paps. Jimmy McNichol-well, OK, Jimmy McNichol is at least credible as a goofy, messed-up 17-year-old. A mind-boggling script that'll make you yell, `What were these people ON?' at the screen till your date walks out on you. Did I mention Julia Duffy's mammae?

And, man, do you get Susan Tyrrell, as Aunt Cheryl. You only think she went over the top in Forbidden Zone. Brudda, she wasn't even limbering UP. In Night Warning, you get her horny. You get her maternal. You get her unctuous, you get her as tigress guarding the cub. And you get her flipping out, not once, but repeatedly and at regular intervals, each time in a new and creative fashion. Is there no justice in this life? Why is Susan Tyrrell going to pass her career in obscurities and cult movies, while ambulatory bubble-wrap like Florence Henderson gets a career doing big-money denture commercials and nostalgia shows behind one crappy role from the Ford presidency?

The payoff comes at around 1:17 into the movie, when Aunt Cheryl, doing ugly things in the underbrush, hears Julia Duffy breaking a window in the house. Ms. Tyrrell's reaction is the single scariest move I've ever seen an actor make on film. It will make you hide under the bed for a week, praying that God will send flying bears with spears to find you and rip out your liver before He lets Susan Tyrrell get within two area codes of your hidey-hole. Genuine nightmare fuel.

Find it, learn it, live it.
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Susan Tyrrell Rules The Planet
28 January 2002
I'd heard about Night Warning, I was fortunate enough to see it at a weird-film society showing, and I finally found it sitting in a bin in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

There's one problem with the film, and we might as well deal with it up front. Director William Asher tries hard, but he's got a TV sensibility trying to cope with one of the nastiest scripts ever written and two of the wickedest performances ever turned in by SAG members. In the hands of a master, this thing'd still be playing at midnight showings all over the Western Hemisphere.

That aside, Susan Tyrrell's performance alone is worth the price of admission. Bo Svenson's performance alone is worth the price of admission. Julia Duffy's charming, unwrapped little mams together are worth the price of admission. Even Jimmy McNichol doesn't embarrass himself - no, he doesn't, watch it again, he's supposed to be a goofy, horny teenager in suburban/rural Arizona, not a sensitive coffee-house habitue, for godsake.

Let's go back to Susan Tyrrell. She puts on a clinic for actresses who want to know what "over the top" consitutes. When she flips out - lordie. All I'll say is that at approximately 1:15 into the movie, when she reacts to Julia Duffy breaking out a window, she makes a move with her head that's the single scariest thing I've ever seen an actor do on film, ever, anywhere, period. (And I've seen Jim Carrey trying to be sincere, thank you.)

And Bo Svenson is evil on skates. The script doesn't give him that much to work with, but he rolls right over that little obstacle. WHY does he rant, "I want those deviants off the streets!" Who knows, who cares? There's a story out on the Net that he was a royal pain on the set, and I could easily believe that this was a case of him getting to say things he's always wanted to say in public, and get paid for it.

Find this gem at any price. Know it. Live it.
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(Almost)Everybody/Was Kung-Fu Fighting
27 January 2002
A new category of 'bad'- a movie I could only watch in twenty-minute doses, but had to finish just to see where they ended up with the alleged plot, like watching a bus with no brakes, packed full of orphans, careen down a mountain road to certain doom. As thoroughly wack as a Frederick Hobbs movie, where things happen for no apparent reason and with great intensity, but without Hobbs' technical skill.

My GHOD is this thing wrong, on more levels than you've had hot dinners. Oh, sure, there's a plot, some crapola about Dr. Jekyll's grandson inventing a serum that releases people's aggression, but what you see on the screen is an endless parade of dramatically-lit kung-fu matches, community-college-level overacting to no discernible purpose, and the most frightening eye-rolling by a female character outside of Creedence the Druid in Troll 2.

What makes less sense than the plot is that somebody wrote large checks to both make this movie and then to obtain the rights to distribute it. What makes even less sense is that it was NOT a career-ender for all involved. The worst offender, James Wood, who wrote/ directed/ produced/ drove the honey wagon, did disappear from the exciting world of cinema entirely, showing that there is perhaps a loving God in heaven. The only cast member with a shred of acting ability, Dawn Carver Kelly (Julia), also took this as her cue to get completely the hell out of the biz. But everyone else went on to other projects; James Mathers, the unwatchably out-of-control Dr. Jekyll, continues to work into the present. Euuuuwwwww.

If you believe in the primacy of Art, the perfectability of Man, and the essential order of the Universe, avoid this blazing paper bag of dog dookie as you would a panhandler with a wet, hacking cough.
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