29 July 2008

TTT: Chillers (1987)

I love horror anthology films. They're the closest thing film has to sittin' 'round the campfire swapping ghost stories. In this one, five random people get stuck in a bus station late at night after missing a connection. To pass the time, they all describe the horrible nightmares they had the night before: a coed on the swim team meets everyone who's ever died in the school's pool, a young scout discovers his geeky scoutmaster is a bit psycho, a man discovers he can wish the dead back to life, a woman's news anchor crush turns out to be a vampire, and a college professor battles the resurrected spirit of an Aztec god.

Most of the stories aren't particularly great; they're all about ghosts / evil scoutmasters / accidentally-resurrected serial killers / god-possessed college students chasing people around. The only one that really piqued my interest was the vampire newscaster tale. It features a middle-aged woman who is so lonely that she calls up the 11 o'clock news anchor when she hears his voice in her head telling her to do so. Miraculously, despite hanging up on him due to embarrassment, the anchor tracks her down and shows up at her door. One thing leads to another, he moves in with her, she finds out he's a blood-sucker and he turns her into a 3- or 4-day guaranteed meal ticket. I dunno. It had some potential for pathos that the other stories did not.

d. Daniel Boyd

28 July 2008

TTT: Deadly Daphne's Revenge (1987)

Having just watched this a half a year ago (well before this kooky TTT idea came to me), I wasn't really enthused to pop it in again. Color me surprised when I discovered it wasn't as bad the second time around. It's got a lazy Saturday afternoon, movie-you-just-happened-to-flip-to-on-TV feel to it. The film follows four men and the teenaged hitchhiker two of them rape while on a hunting trip. The fallout of that crime results in some decent defense lawyer versus D.A. scenes, a suicide, a hit man, and an unlikely May-December romance between the victim and one of the two not-rapists. There's also crazy Daphne, from the exaggerated Troma-title, but she hardly matters.

One problem: this isn't, in any way, a horror movie. It doesn't belong in a "Toxie's Triple Terror" box set, let alone Troma's library in general. It's just a drama. No cyborg killers or werewolves to be found anywhere. It does come close to having one good-bad movie saving grace: Charlie. Charlie is one of the rapists and probably one of the scummiest characters in movie history. When he's not spewing racial epitaphs or drinking beer, he's lying to his own brother about the rape to save his own hide. He does all of this with a voice strikingly similar to Randy "Machoman" Savage's, except with much more use of the phrase "ma man." That alone is nearly enough entertainment for me to hang onto the flick… almost.

aka The Hunting Season
d. Richard Gardner

27 July 2008

OLR: The Prestige (2006)

Intricately written and edited, though I'm curious to see whether it holds up upon a second viewing.

d. Christopher Nolan

TTT: Nightmare Weekend (1986)

One type of good-bad movie might be categorized as schizophrenic. They aren't insane on purpose, but some combination of scripting and editing and the director's choices on set lead to a film that only flirts with sense. If the subject of the movie is half-way entertaining, this only enhances the bad movie experience. Such was Nightmare Weekend, which is ostensibly the tale of a super scientist experimenting with artificial neurons to repair violent animals and his evil assistant who takes things too far.

There's a sentient hand puppet named George that lives in the scientist's daughter's room. He talks to the scientist's supercomputer through a ColecoVision. There's a biker bar filled with '80s frat house rejects, including a walkman-sporting guy who never stops dancing to his music. Did I mention that the artificial neurons are formed from personal items into little silver spheres that home in on person's mouth? No? That happens a lot. All of this is chopped together into a story hanging on the boundary of intelligible. Here, here's a clip that sums up the whole film:

Loved it.

d. Henry Sala

TTT: Play Dead (1985)

I like Yvonne De Carlo and I like the other post-Munsters bad movie I've seen of hers, so I hoped Play Dead might not be as boring as the copy on the back of the DVD case made it out to be. I wasn't so lucky.

De Carlo plays Hester, who, even after her sister's death, is still pissed sis stole her man decades ago. Logically, she casts a black magic spell over a pet rottweiler and instructs the beast to make her niece and nephew's lives hell. It does, but not, you know, as you would expect with a rottweiler. Rather than ripping out throats, Greta the satanic dog pushes people into traffic, drops curling irons into bathtubs and pours lye into glasses of water. In-between killings, the dog also spends a lot of time staring at naked people.

The only interesting part of the film -- well, outside of the dog's voyeuristic tendencies -- is the police detective trying to solve all of the mysterious murders surrounding the niece. He's quirky in a sorta Columbo kind of way, but just can't get to the point where he'll accept the dog as the most likely suspect.

Other than that: yawn city.

aka Killer Dog
aka Satan's Dog
d. Peter Wittman

OLR: In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

Now that I've actually read some Lovecraft, it was fun to pick out the references. (7/10)

d. John Carpenter

23 July 2008

TTT: The Dark Side of Midnight (1984)

The Dark Side of Midnight is unintentionally hilarious so consistently, the experience of watching it is a lot like a good episode of MST3K. My chuckling began when the first victim prepared for bed by stripping down to her... one-piece swimsuit. Later, the man pictured on the right is described as a "sex maniac" and "regular Don Juan" by the chief of police as the chief allows his own daughter to be seduced by this man in his own home. This maniac just happens to be director/writer/producer/star Wes Olsen, who wrote himself to be the country's foremost expert on serial killers and oven-cooked steak.

Most amusing, however, was the acting. You just can't fake bad acting like that seen in this film. Such a thing requires a certain level of earnestness -- the poor people are just trying so damned hard -- to make the awkward delivery and unnatural rhythms truly funny.

Also: mustaches! If you like mustaches -- and who doesn't like a mustache? -- you'll love this mustache-filled film. Ain't barely a man in this movie not sporting at least a minor soup-strainer, villain and hero alike. Do yourself a favor and grow one today!

Anyway, I'd just like to personally thank producer/director/writer/editor/star/sex maniac Wes Olsen for creating such a wonderment. Thank you, sir, for the good times.

aka The Creeper
d. Wes Olsen

21 July 2008

OLR: The Dark Knight (2008)

"The superhero movie of our times" sounds odd, but -- goddammit -- it's true. (9/10)

d. Christopher Nolan

20 July 2008

OLR: Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)

Forcing the six stories to interconnect likely contributed to a number of them being forgettable. (6/10)

d. Shoujirou Nishimi & Futoshi Higashide & Hiroshi Morioka & Yasuhiro Aoki & Toshiyuki Kubooka & Jong-Sik Nam

OLR: Batman Begins (2005)

The Superman: The Movie of Batman films. (8/10)

d. Christopher Nolan

18 July 2008

Guest OLR: The Dark Knight (2008)

Sadistic, depressing, and everything that Batman Begins should have been. (7/10)

d. Christopher Nolan

17 July 2008

Guest OLR: The Prestige (2006)

Apparently, illusionists are hardcore and will follow their obsessions to the end of the earth. (9/10)

d. Christopher Nolan

Guest OLR: Batman Begins (2005)

Rachel is such a bitch. (6/10)

d. Christopher Nolan

Guest OLR: Insomnia (2002)

Usual territory for Nolan... still a very good thing. (7/10)

d. Christopher Nolan

Guest OLR: Memento (2000)

A fun mystery to unravel the first time around; a depressing case study every viewing afterwards. (9/10)

d. Christopher Nolan

Guest OLR: Following (1998)

A simple mystery made complex by excellent non-linear storytelling. (7/10)

d. Christopher Nolan

07 July 2008

Guest OLR: WALL-E (2008)

Okay, I cried, so what if I cried, jerk, like you never cried before in your life? (9/10)

d. Andrew Stanton

03 July 2008

TTT: Curse of the Cannibal Confederates (1982)

Outside of the gratuitous bikini scenes, Confederate zombies wearing Union uniforms, bad line deliveries, hilarious dialog ("You goofy bozo!"), and ancient policemen, one thing I got a kick out of from this film was the "I could make this" feeling. Just gather up a bunch of friends in a borrowed RV, grab your 8mm camera and start filming. If CCC can make it to a professionally-made DVD sold at the Borders down from my house, I should be able to do the same. What a great feeling.

I'm going to miss videotape. Nothing can enhance a bad movie like a bad tape transfer. Though I watched CCC on DVD, it quite obviously got there by way of some ancient master tape from deep in Troma's basement. During night shots -- and there's a lot of them -- the white zombie makeup smears and bleeds into the pitch-black night, leaving ghostly trails where ever the zombies move. It's surreal as all-get-out. As I drifted in and out of sleep towards the end of the movie, these blurred zombies surrounded by darkness flowed easily into dream-inspired shapes having nothing to do with the film. A pair of orange spots in the hands of zombies I assumed to be a large beetle, until I snapped into full wakefulness again and realized they were just entrails. A pile of abandoned Christmas presents turned out to be the corpse of a main character. The lead zombie's face would often resemble Cap'n Crunch.

The bad movie experience is completely subjective, which is one of the aspects I love about it.

aka The Curse of the Screaming Dead
d. Tony Malanowski

02 July 2008

TTT: Beyond Evil (1980)

Beyond evil? Wow. That's gotta be something, right? I mean, I know Hitler and Stalin are evil. This movie's about something worse than those guys? Eh, not really. It tells the tale of a pissed-off witch-ghost who possesses a housewife and uses her magic powers to kill a handful of people in the middle of god-knows-where. And maybe that idea has some potential -- not to be beyond evil, but for just some regular evil -- but none of that is seen in Herb Freed's film. He's more interested in exploring how a marriage can survive when one of the partners is possessed by an evil spirit. This is efficiently accomplished by having John Saxon repeatedly ask his wife if she's feeling okay during the 15 minutes of the day when he's not at his construction site job.

As with most bad-bad movies, there are fleeting sequences of bad movie fun to be had here. A car slowly falls apart on the highway before teleporting into a quarry, flying off a cliff and exploding before it hits the ground. The ghost shoots lime green laser beams out of her eyes at a poor nurse. A "heavy" devil statue bounces like rubber when it almost falls on Saxon. Alas, it's not enough.

d. Herb Freed

01 July 2008

TTT: Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake (1975)

Courtesy of MST3K, I've seen a couple of Bill Rebane movies already. Monster A-Go Go is, I believe, the worst movie to have ever hit my optic nerves in all of my 31 years. Even robots cracking jokes couldn't help it. The Giant Spider Invasion is a bit of bad movie gold that features a Volkswagon covered in fur as the title creature: I love it. Rana lies somewhere in the middle of these, though unfortunately closer to the A-Go Go end of the spectrum.

I really wanted to like the film. I'm always keen to watch a movie filmed in my part of the world (Rana was shot in Wisconsin, right across the lake). It sports a "You're all doomed!" guy in it, a stock character I can't get enough of in horror movies. This doomsayer is Charlie, a crazy old trapper who lives alone in the woods and is the only person who knows what's going down. I've never seen a man-frog monster in a movie before, either, so that sounded neat (I've really gotta rent Hell Comes to Frogtown).

Sadly, it just never comes together. There just isn't enough fun stuff in the movie -- Charlie really being the only bit of entertainment -- to make up for the long stretches of watching people swim, horseback ride, sleep in tents, fish and feed deer. A bad-bad movie.

aka Croaked: Frog Monster from Hell
aka Ranna
d. Bill Rebane