Monday, March 31, 2014

Stuff Stephanie In the Incinerator, Plot Twists from Troma

With a title like "Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator," it is surprising that this film is not well known by the B Movie community.  This Troma film from 1989 is heavy on plot twists and betrayal, and light on gore and sex.  The three leads, Catherine Dee, William Dame, and M.R. Murphy star, each acting in their only film, and Don Nardo directs....again, in his only film.  Oddly enough, the direction and acting are pretty good, making it a mystery as to why these four never worked in film again.
   The plot, and an ambitious one:  Jared (Dame) and Casey (Dee) are a young couple worth over $50 million.  To spice up their sex lives, they engage in elaborate role playing/fantasy games (Jared calls these games "Transcendental Theatricals").  Casey often takes on roles such as Lizzie Borden, Joan of Arc, Amelia Earhart, or Lady Godiva.  Jared hires actors to play supporting roles, which sometimes culminate in them getting one which requires engaging in relations with Stephanie (Casey's alter identity).  A half hour into this work, it is apparent that Casey has fallen in love with an actor named Robert (Murphy).  Together they hatch a plot to eliminate Jared.
   Uh oh!  Jared is onto them, and he devises one last Transcendental Theatrical, where he plays hunter, and Casey and Robert are the game.  What becomes apparent is that Casey has her own agenda, and so does Robert.  As Jared tracks them, the two lovers must also survive each other.  Plot twists occur every few minutes, some predictable, some not.
    Though this Troma film will keep you guessing, the lack of gore is a bit disappointing.  Still, "Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator" is fun, and at times, will remind you of "A Clockwork Orange," "Deathtrap," and "The Most Dangerous Game." The musical score features Ludwig van Beethoven music, hence you can claim some semblance of sophistication for enduring this work.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cave of the Living Dead, a Neat German Vampire Story

1965's "Cave of the Living Dead" (aka "Night of the Vampires") is a chilling vampire story from, at the time, West Germany.  This movie is shot in black and white and will remind the viewer of the silent classic "Nosferatu." Though not very original, the camera work, and the jazzy musical score make this a very effective film.  An ominous old castle, spooky caves, shadowy streets, hounds howling in the distance, and plenty of vampires keep us on edge.
The plot:  In a quaint, but superstitious village, seven attractive young women have died.  The deaths occur between midnight and one a.m., and always during a power outage.  The small town doctor classifies each death as "heart failure" (...no kidding).  Inspector Frank Dorin (Adrian Hoven) is sent to the town from the big city to get to the bottom of things.  He immediately meets Karin (Karin Field), the beautiful and statuesque assistant of the mysterious professor.  She was hired by this professor to research blood at the professor's castle at the edge of town.  During their first meeting, the power goes out and a beautiful barmaid (Erika Remberg) is turned into a vampire in her sleep (see picture below).
After getting nowhere with the local constabulary, or the town doctor, the Inspector visits the town witch who tells him of vampires, and equips him with weapons to battle these bloodsuckers.  Frank learns that the caves at the edge of town also lead to the professor's castle.  He accepts an invite to stay at the castle which allows him to romance Karin, and investigate his strange host, who arrived in town the same time the girls started assuming room temperature.  At this same time, the barmaid rises from the dead and starts prowling around while sporting some new fangs.  Unfortunately for Karin, she gets suspicious of her employer and now the barmaid (under the professor's spell) is seeking out her neck.
Will Frank be able to save Karin from the toothy barmaid?  How will Frank explain all these supernatural occurrences to his efficient, German bosses in the big city?  Is this movie an attempt to showcase a post-war metaphor of the evils that await a split Germany?  Okay, that last question is only designed to make me seem intelligent....sorry.  This is a creepy and atmospheric tale, and even contains some surprising nudity.  Karin Field does a great job portraying the beautiful, but intelligent damsel in eventual distress. Though Hammer was creating lots of vampire movies during the 1960s, "Cave of the Living Dead" has more of a silent movie feel to it.  See this movie, and don't sleep with the window open.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Astounding She-Monster, The Alien vs. The Marxists

Only 62 minutes in length, 1957's "The Astounding She-Monster" is a cool, low-budget film.  Only in these types of movies can a geologist have a quaint cabin in the San Gabriel Mountains, be the smartest guy in the world, end up with a rich and beautiful blonde socialite, and save the world.  Robert Clarke ("The Hideous Sun Demon") plays this guy, and Marilyn Harvey plays the socialite.  Together, using their wits, and Capitalistic philosophy (Ayn Rand would be proud), they defeat Marxist-mobsters.
As the movie begins an asteroid (space ship, actually) crashes near Dick's (Clarke) cabin.  Being a geologist, he goes to investigate.  Meanwhile, the beautiful Margaret (Harvey) is abducted from her Cadillac as she drives out of her Beverly Hills mansion by three mobsters (Nat, his girlfriend Esther, and some other stooge).  Esther is a lush but she is emphatic that she wants to be referred to as an "alcoholic."  She has standards, you know.  They drive her into the mountains but veer off the road avoiding a very shapely alien who walked away from her crash landing.  With the car out of commission, they march Margaret to a cabin, and now Dick is also one of their hostages.  Our shapely and glowing alien finds her way to the cabin and eliminates Nat's buddy.  This alien kills anything she touches as she spreads radiation.
The mobsters begin to panic as Dick and Margaret begin to play mind games on them.  Nat reveals that they kidnapped Margaret to milk a hefty ransom out of her millionaire parents.  He goes on to state that millionaires only get their money by sitting on the backs of a million little guys who are working their buts off.  Naively, Dick asks, "So all you're doing is redistributing wealth more evenly to the little guys?"  Nat responds, "If you're a little guy, you gotta move in and take what you can get.  You're only a criminal if you are a little guy."  Nat (the patron saint of the little guy) ends this makeshift version of "Firing Line" by telling Esther, "Shut up you crumby lush," as she tries to add her intellectual two cents.  Dick really gets under Nat's skin by suggesting that millionaires actually earn their money.  In 1957, these Marxists were the villains, now we elect them as our leaders.
As the two sides struggle to defend themselves against this mysterious alien, she picks them off one by one.  Will Dick and Margaret survive both the Marxists, and the alien?  Is Dick's defense of Capitalism the reason why public schools won't show this movie?  Is Hollywood's romance with leftist ideology the reason why Shirley Kilpatrick (who plays the alien) could not get another job until she changed her name to Shirley Stoler?  This is probably one of the deepest movies you will see today, but unlike most deep movies, this one is enjoyable.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Doctor Blood's Coffin, Kinda like a Hammer Horror Film

1961's "Doctor Blood's Coffin" isn't a Hammer film, but it has the feel of one.  Graveyards, corpses, ghouls, a beautiful damsel, a mad scientist, English settings, and un-godly experiments highlight this movie directed by Sidney J. Furie ("The Entity").  The lead actress, Hazel Court ("The Raven" and "The Masque of the Red Death") is a Hammer-girl.  For a rated PG movie night with the family, this variation of the Frankenstein theme will do you well.
 Dr. Peter Blood, played by Kieron Moore ("The Day of the Triffids") has just been thrown out of medical school.  Unfortunately he did something we all have done, only he was caught....trying to bring a corpse back to life.  You gotta love the spirit, with government-run health care most doctors are headed into podiatry or radiology, creating a whole breed of bores.  At least Dr. Blood would be an interesting party guest.  He heads to Cornwall and sets up a covert lab in the abandoned mines near the sea.  After stealing some medical equipment, he uses a chemical given to him by a voodoo witch doctor which keeps the body alive but puts it into a state of paralysis.  You see, he needs organs from live donors, which he will put into a corpse, thus bringing the departed back to life.
Blood, when not doing God's work, visits the the quaint seaside village where his dad is the town doctor. Isn't it funny, the luck of the criminally insane!  His dad's nurse is the very hot Linda Parker...I might add the recently widowed Linda Parker.  Though Blood exhibits insane personality traits, like fantasizing about being locked in a Pharaoh's tomb for eternity and being buried alive, Linda only sees his good side.  As Dr. Blood keeps abducting the town's citizens and removing their organs, Linda begins to get suspicious.  Unfortunately for Linda, Dr. Blood has a horrifying surprise waiting for her.
Will the vulnerable and beautiful Nurse Parker figure out her new beau is totally whacked-out before she succumbs to his ultimate plan?  Has government-run health care driven colorful characters, like Blood, out of medicine and into IT?  Are those spiffy, feminine, white nurse uniforms ever making a comeback, or are we to settle for the pajama-like scrubs in our next hospital visit?  This is an atmospheric chiller with a great musical score.  The ending will surprise, and Linda's character emerges as the epitome of goodness, which is the perfect contrast to the evil doctor.  For Hazel Court fans, this is a must see!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Visiting Hours, Classic Slasher Film from Canada

1982's "Visiting Hours" was doomed by the critics.  In the early 1980s, slasher films were drawing the ire of people and groups alarmed about the increasing violence against women in films and society.  A widely held belief was that the demeaning portrayal of women (as nymphomaniac teenagers or as weak defenseless beings needing a man to save them) in these films could cause unbalanced people to be more likely to commit rape, sexual assault, or murder against them.  Though "Visiting Hours" is indeed a slasher film, it's portrayal of women is anything but disrespectful or negative.  Lee Grant (Airport '77) portrays Deborah Ballin, a strong willed TV host crusading against people who commit violence against women and the attorneys who defend them.  Linda Purl (Matlock) portrays Nurse Sheila Munroe, a caring nurse who is raising two young children and volunteers at a clinic for battered women on her days off.  In 2014, any critic would have to admit that "Visiting Hours" is pro-women.
The plot:  After her TV show advocating on behalf of a battered woman who defended herself against a raging boyfriend, she draws the attention of an evil viewer.  Colt, played brilliantly by Michael Ironside (Scanners), is a misogynist to the 10th degree!  He murders any woman in his life who shows strength, and photographs them while they breathe their last breaths.  Colt breaks into Ballin's house, kills her housekeeper, then slashes Ballin when she arrives home.  By some miracle, she survives and is rushed to the hospital, seriously hurt and in need of multiple surgeries.  An empathetic Nurse Munroe takes it upon herself to watch over Ballin.  Munroe, a former battered wife, forges a friendship with Ballin, which will put her in great danger. Nurse Munroe is beautiful, sweet, smart, hard working, and has the heart of an angel.
Colt, determined to kill Ballin, masquerades as a florist and heads to the hospital.  In an attempt to get to at Ballin, Colt murders a nurse and another patient, but is chased away by Munroe.  Sensing Munroe is Ballin's ally, Colt now is determined to cut her to pieces as well.  In flashbacks we see glimpses of Colt's childhood which formed him into this deranged slasher.  Again and again he returns to the hospital and the body counts increase with doctors, cops, nurses, and patients.  All this sets up a horrifying final 15 minutes where Colt attacks Nurse Munroe in her home, and Ballin is left unprotected for a vicious final scene.
 This movie has a gritty reality to it.  When Ballin screams, its real, not some canned sound effect.  Nurse Munroe's home looks like the home of an over burdened single mom, not like the flats of soap opera women.  The hospital corridors are over crowded with patients, annoying visitors, IV stands, and beeping machines.  Colt is truly evil and menacing and when he invades Nurse Munroe's home, we are yelling "No!"
Oh yes, one more thing, William Shatner is terrific as Ballin's producer.  See "Visiting Hours" and be prepared to do your viewing from the edge of your seats.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Millennium Bug, We're Gonna Need a Bigger Can of Raid

Remember the Y2K hysteria?  Nuclear missiles were going to fly.  Bank vaults would open on their own. Our bank accounts would vanish.  The anti-Christ would arrive.  Nut jobs implored us all to stockpile canned goods, and fill milk containers with water with two drops of Clorox bleach added.  Then December 31, 1999 became January 1, 2000 and......NOTHING HAPPENED!  However, in 2011's "Millennium Bug" something did happen.  Today's movie combines "Deliverance," "Wrong Turn," "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," 1980's "Mother's Day," and "Them."
  The plot:  For New Year's Eve, a good looking family heads to California's Sierra Diablos Mountains to camp.  Joanny (Jessica Simons) just married Byron (Jon Briddell).  Clarissa (Christine Haeberman) is their teen-aged daughter who hasn't fully accepted her "new mom." After they ring in the new year, our wholesome family nestles in their sleeping bags and fall right to sleep.  Not for long, as a family of inbred, mutant hillbillies, straight from the "Wrong Turn" movies, abducts them in violent fashion.  Just prior to the abduction, a mutant female hillbilly gave birth to a mutant baby (see picture below) spurring her male family members to find new blood to introduce into their bloodline.  Clarissa is prepped for marrying the oldest son, and Joany and Byron escape and fight back in very gory fashion.  Their counterattack fails, but an ally comes out of the ground.
Every 1,000 years, according to ancient Viking parchments (even more reliable than the Farmers Almanac), a 40 foot tall bug with big teeth, stingers, over-sized eyes, and tentacles emerges from the ground to eat and nest.  This non-CGI bug then attacks the hillbilly cabin.  The bug carnage is matched with shotgun carnage, knife carnage, ax carnage, whittling carnage, and impotence carnage.  With Clarissa, stripped to her undies and tied to a bed (a mutant hillbilly wedding night tradition), Joany must rescue her and escape from the clan and the bug before the eldest hillbilly boy (groom) can find the Viagra.
 Will the bug save Clarissa from a hillbilly wedding night, while also leaving her uneaten?  Will the hillbilly community boycott the makers of this film for their insensitive and stereotypical portrayal?  Can mutant, inbred yokels ever be mainstreamed?  This is a truly scary movie, with ominous death scenes, and a horrific ending.  The non-CGI bug creature is cool, and the acting is good.  For a nostalgic look back to the Y2K hysteria, see "The Millennium Bug."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dead Space, Another Roger Corman Production

1991's "Dead Space" was the first film for Director Fred Gallo, who was only 25 years of age when it opened. Gallo was discovered by Roger Corman, who produced this work.  This is a cheesy rip-off of "Alien" complete with Marc Singer (who displays some six-pack abs), a cool creature (albeit not too original), and some space babe/scientists who play the damsels, and creature bait, very well.  For those of you who remember the late night movies on UHF, this would have been perfect fare for that venue.
 The plot: A distress call is sent from a research lab on the planet Phaebon.  One of the scientists cuts his finger and is infected.  A short time later, his experiment explodes out of his belly and escapes.  Commander Krieger (Singer) and his robot respond to the call, after they dispose of three enemy fighters near Phaebon.  Krieger's arrival is not welcomed as the ranking scientists tell him the call was a false alarm.  The perky space-babe/scientist Marissa (Laura Mae Tate) signals to him that he needs to stay, as a great danger is loose in the lab.  This lab is working on a cure for the Delta 5 virus (really bad stuff) by creating a new, more aggressive virus to battle it.  Naturally the cure turns into a monster that grows rapidly and eats scientists and space-babes.
When the small creature enters Liz, the lone survivor from the Astro Lab 6 disaster (don't ask), through her nose, and busts out an even big creature, Krieger decides to stay.  Besides, him and Marissa have been making goo-goo eyes at each other since his arrival.  Marissa and Krieger want to kill this "metamorphic mutant," but the lead scientists want to understand it and communicate with it.  I guess we know what will happen to these lead scientists.  Realizing bullets won't kill it, Marissa and her new beau must discover a way to kill it.
Though this film isn't too original, it does entertain. The creature is menacing and delivers some gory kills.  A hulking and sweaty Singer will please the female viewers, and Marissa is a noble and attractive damsel.  Roger Corman fans will be pleased, and Ingmar Bergman fans will be annoyed.  All of you who enjoyed that late night action on UHF, this is a movie for you!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Navy vs. The Night Monsters, The Loves of Mamie Van Doren

They don't make movies like 1966's "The Navy vs. The Night Monsters" anymore.  You see, in 2014, every male character would be brought up on sexual harassment charges, making for a boring film.  Mamie Van Doren ("Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women") as nurse Nora fights off the advances of half the U.S. Navy, and then fights off acid-spewing tree creatures in this horror filled yarn, which is IN COLOR!  In 1966, however, this sexual harassment was as natural as spring romance.
The plot: A 300 square mile forest has been found in Antarctica, heated by underground hot lakes.  A scientific expedition has collected plant specimens which date back to the ice age.  A navy plane carrying these plants, and the scientific team, crash lands on Gow Island (a Naval meteorological station).  The pilot, the only survivor, has lost his mind, and it appears the entire crew and scientific team jumped out of the plane over the ocean, without parachutes.  The U.S. Navy is befuddled, as the cargo also seems to be missing.  Other than the U.S. Navy, Gow Island is known for beautiful nurses, as Nora and Diane (Kaye Elhardt) have their hands full....though neither seem to mind (see picture above and below).
Unfortunately for our nurses, and the navy, the cargo which escaped from the plane are the aforementioned tree creatures.  First they attack Diane, who survives, then some sailors who are not as fortunate.  Soon they overrun the island and begin advancing on the infirmary where the nurses and their admirers are holed up. Surviving the creatures and fending off unwanted advances are the chores for the nurses, as the navy attempts to defend against this prehistoric horror.
This cheesy B-Movie has great creatures, beautiful damsels in distress, square-jawed navy guys who look great in uniform, romance, suspense, and an explosive conclusion.  Mamie Van Doren's beauty lights up the screen.  With spring around the corner, flowers will bloom, and romance will abound.  "The Navy vs. The Night Monsters" is the perfect companion for spring, and all that this season brings.     

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Raw Force, The Love Boat Sails into Carnage

Once every generation a movie is made that inspires us to greatness.  This film speaks to us in ways that turn mundane sounds into symphonies.  Sublime dialogue becomes poetry.  This flick opens up our understanding of love and desire.  This once in a generation creation is usually a boring chore to watch, so today we will look at 1982's "Raw Force" (aka "Kung Fu Cannibals").
The plot: Evil smugglers (as opposed to noble smugglers) abduct prostitutes from Asian brothels and bring them to Warriors Island.  There they are stripped, put into bamboo cages, then eaten by insane monks.  I know this is sounding a lot like a Fellini film, but the plot gets better.  The monks believe that the flesh of women improves their abilities to resurrect the corpses of disgraced martial artists who are buried on this island.  In return, the smugglers are allowed to mine jade, which is abundant there.

Cameron Mitchell ("Frankenstein Island" and "The Silent Scream") is the captain of a small cruise ship filled with nymphomaniacs and an annoying cruise director.  The most notable passengers are a trio of martial arts instructors from L.A. and Cookie, played by Jillian Kesner ("Firecracker" and "The Student Body").  Cookie is a beautiful blonde member of the LAPD SWAT team.  At a port-of-call, two of the passengers flee a brothel when the smugglers invade and haul away its women so they can feed the monks.  The smugglers, whose leader looks like Hitler, follow the passengers back to the ship.  Not comfortable with witnesses, the smugglers invade the cruise ship, killing most of the hot passengers, and burn it.  Cameron Mitchell, Cookie, and the kung-fu cowboys survive in a raft and make it to the island.
Upon landing on the island, they immediately go to war with the smugglers in a graveyard.  Bazookas, machine guns, kung-fu, and machetes are all utilized in this war.  The monks arrive and tell the surviving passengers that the dead warriors will be resurrected as a test of their strength.  This happens and the newly animated, disgraced kung-fu warriors battle the cruise ship survivors and the surviving Asian prostitutes.  The ending is heartwarming and exciting.  Will Cameron Mitchell get a gig on the Pacific Princess ("The Love Boat")?  Will the sultry Cookie ever make Sergeant?  Will the Food Channel pick up on this delicacy of the monks?  This movie is gratuitous in every way and is definitely not for the whole family.  The cast will please both male and female viewers and appeal to the juvenile and hidden side of your personality.     
  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Big Alligator River, Barbara Bach vs. the Gator

In 1978, Sergio Martino directed Ursula Andress in "The Mountain of the Cannibal God."  How does one top that?  In 1979, Martino had the fortune of then directing Barbara Bach in "The Big Alligator River" (aka "The Great Alligator").  Bach, two years earlier, wowed audiences as a Bond-girl in "The Spy Who Loved Me" attempts to do it again in this Italian horror flick shot in exotic Sri Lanka.  B-Movie fans will not be disappointed.
 The plot:  In the middle of an African jungle, an evil entrepreneur has built a decadent resort which will cater to European tourists.  He has blown up portions of their jungles and has reduced the native cultures to cheap side shows for the guests.  Daniel, played by Claudio Cassinelli ("The Mountain of the Cannibal God") has arrived to take photos of the resort which will be used in an advertising campaign, and to take shots of a hot European model, of African descent, named Sheena.  Lucky for him, the evil entrepreneur (Mel Ferrer) teams him up with his visual assistant, Alice (Bach).  Alice and Daniel are appalled at the exploitation of the natives.  Unfortunately for Ferrer, the natives are also peeved and do a ritual resurrecting the alligator god, Kruna.  Kruna begins his quest by eating Sheena and her guy during a moonlight tryst.
   Not knowing Sheena swims with the fishes, Alice and Daniel go look for her and figure out that Kruna is hungry for revenge on the white people who decimated the native culture.  Their warnings are ignored back at the resort as a three-million dollar investment is at stake.  Too bad for them, as Kruna inspires the natives to mount an attack on the fornicating tourists, and abduct Alice (no virgins were available) for sacrifice.
In a scene reminiscent of the original "King Kong," Alice is dressed in slinky native sacrificial garb, and offered to Kruna.  Will Kruna take to Alice as Kong took to Fay Wray?  Will Daniel be able to rescue Alice and be forever known to her as "The Photographer Who Loved Me"?  After Bach and Andress, who will be next for Sergio Martino?  Bach is captivating, and the last 20 minutes of this film are very exciting.  Even in the slow first hour, Bach's presence is enough to satisfy us.  For Italian horror, and B-Movie fans, "The Big Alligator River" is a must see!  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Terror Beneath The Sea, Fun 1960s Japanese SciFi

Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and Ghidra are the most famous creatures from Japanese science fiction movies of the 1960s.  A lesser known gem, but just as fun, is 1966's "The Terror Beneath the Sea" starring Sonny Chiba ("Sushi Girl" and the "Kill Bill" movies) and the beautiful Peggy Neal.  This movie meshes a James Bond-type super villain (complete with that evil laugh) and creatures similar to "The Creature From the Black Lagoon" (or probably closer to the Sleestaks in "Land of the Lost", actually) as major plot devices. Unlike many of the movies on this blog, this one is suitable for the entire family.....kind of.
The plot: Ken (Chiba) and Jenny (Neal) are reporters covering a navy demonstration of a new guided torpedo.  They are a really cute couple who can't resist making goo-goo eyes at each other. The torpedo test fails, but Jenny sees a Sleestak-like creature pass one of the underwater cameras. The navy does not believe her, but a doting Ken does, and the two go diving into the waters off Japan to investigate. Jenny finds the creature but loses the camera (as Hooper did in "Jaws") as she swims to the surface in total fright. The navy still does not believe her, without seeing photographic evidence.  The ever fawning Ken takes her out for a second dive, perhaps because she looks great in the tight, red diving suit.  This time they find an underwater cave, and of course swim into it.  Shortly after their arrival, several of these aqua-creatures capture them.
Our cute captives are brought to the evil Dr. Moore who has one of the best deviant laughs in movie history.  He tells our love-struck duo that he is bent on world domination and the creatures are former humans which he is able to convert to his drones.  He can control them with super-sonic sound from his machine.  It is a complicated machine with one dial that can be turned to either "Work" or "Fight." Moore gives Ken and Barbie....I mean Jenny, a chance to join his plot to conquer the world.  They refuse.  Moore adds in this zinger; while drooling at Jenny, he informs them that after converting humans to his creatures, they are devoid of any sexuality.  NO!!!!!  Then he has Jenny prepped for conversion.
Will Ken be able to save Jenny from a fate worse than neutering?  Will our amorous duo find the proverbial self-destruct button and find the proverbial escape hatch?  Will the navy get with the program and mount a rescue attempt?  This film is a lot of fun.  Seeing a young Sonny Chiba is cool, and his co-star is the perfect damsel put in distress.  Bide your time before the new "Godzilla" comes out in May, and see "The Terror Beneath the Sea."

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Murder Weapon, A Jewel from Linnea Quigley

Linnea Quigley is arguably the best scream-queen of all-time.  Most B-Movie fans know her from "The Return of the Living Dead" and the original "Night of the Demons." I remember a couple of bits of advice she offered to aspiring actresses, "show up on time" and "learn your lines." This is sage guidance, not only in acting, but for every field of pursuit.  Today I will focus on a lesser known Quigley film, 1989's "Murder Weapon," aka "Beverly Hills Corpse." For B-Movie, and 1980s horror fans, this is a must see movie.
 Dawn (Quigley) and Amy, played by Karen Russell ("Hell High" and "Vice Academy") blackmail their way out of an insane-asylum.  Apparently they were irresistible to their attending shrinks.  Amy's doctor is played by Lyle Waggoner ("Wonder Woman").  Once back at home, they plan a party as they sunbathe in some nice bikinis.  These are spoiled daughters of mobsters and blood and guts isn't a foreign concept to them.  The guests are their old boyfriends.  These jocks show up right away and because Amy and Dawn are the only two females present, both of them get very busy catching up on old times, shall we say.  Amy's primary main-squeeze is Eric (Mike Jacobs, Jr.) who is in the band "The Chainsaws." Eric tells the guests about the 1986 Van Halen Tour when his band opened.  This is a heartwarming tale which ends with Eric bragging "....I thought my dick would fall off."
As Amy and Dawn go through their testosterone-laden guests in very intimate fashion, a killer does the same in gory splendor.  A sledge hammer, shotgun, big knife, and a broken wine bottle are just some of the killer's weapons of choice.  Will Amy and Dawn get through all of the the guests before they are butchered?  Will our two heroines be next for our slasher?  Will this massacre influence upcoming albums of The Chainsaws?  This is a fun movie, and both Quigley and Russell are great to look at.  For those of you who love the 1980 slasher film, don't miss this one.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Drive Angry, Hell, Damnation, Revenge, and Gun Fights!

Drive Angry (in 3D) will have you hooked in it's first 30 seconds.  The number one source I turn to in questions of Heaven and Hell is usually C.S. Lewis.  However, if you want a less heavy explanation of Hell, which includes a '69 Dodge Charger, gun fights, explosions, babes, car chases and gratuitous violence, you might want to watch 2011's "Drive Angry," starring Nicolas Cage as Milton (perhaps a slight reference to Dante's Inferno).
The plot (...and it is ambitious):  Milton has escaped from Hell because his grand daughter has been kidnapped by the leader of a Satanic cult named Jonah King (Billy Burke).  King decapitated Milton's daughter to get the child, and Milton had to watch it all while in captivity in Hell.  In the opening scene, he disposes of some of King's minions in very gory fashion, and extracts information on King's whereabouts.  He then meets Piper (Amber Heard) who has just been fired from her waitress gig.  When Piper catches her fiance with a whore, she beats up the whore, and then gets beat up by her fiance.  Milton intervenes and the two of them steal the fiance's '69 Charger and set off.  Milton and Piper grow closer (not sexually) and are hot on King's trail.  Uh oh...."the accountant" (William Fichtner) is hot on Milton's tail with a goal of bringing him back to Hell.  The body count inflates rapidly as Milton goes through King's disciples like crap through a goose.
The entire 100 minute flick is action-packed.  Piper is beautiful, but definitely trailer trash.  In one scene, Milton is "balling" a cocktail waitress (their terminology) while about a dozen Satanic disciples bust into his hotel room.  Still attached to the waitress, he has a cigar in his mouth, a bottle of Jack in one hand, and a pistol in the other, and without missing a beat, disposes of the invaders and satisfies his woman.  If that scene appeals to you, see this movie.  If not, you may want to avoid "Drive Angry." Great one-liners enhance the interaction between Piper and Milton.  While speeding away from pursuers, Piper asks Milton to giver her one good reason why she shouldn't blow him away (of course she is armed during this exchange).  His response...."I'm driving."
The three pictures above represent this movie well.  Gun violence, a beautiful anti-heroine, explosions and car chases.  The final confrontations are not disappointments.  Milton and Piper catch up to Jonah King, and also the accountant catches up to Milton.  These two scenes are blended nicely for an atomically charged conclusion.  I highly recommend the works of C.S. Lewis, but if you are looking for something to sinfully entertain, "Drive Angry" is your ticket.   

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Invasion of the Bee Girls, an STD with a Sting!

I first saw 1973's "Invasion of the Bee Girls" (IBG) last year.  On their show in the early 1980s, Siskel and Ebert actually praised this film.  Emerging from the height of the women's liberation movement, IBG oozes of social commentary regarding the role of females in America.  Though the drive-in flavor of this movie probably prevented anyone from noticing deep meaning in the 1970s, in 2014, with a historical perspective, the trained B Movie enthusiast is equipped to delve into the true themes of IBG.
 The plot:  In Peckham (really), California, lots of healthy men are dying because of over-exhaustion during sexual intercourse.  Most of these guys are middle-aged, balding scientists from a corporation (Brandt, Inc.) doing contract work for the government.  The corpses are usually found in no-tell motels, as their widows never had an idea of their infidelity.  Agent Neil Agar of the State Department, played by William Smith ("Policewomen"), and bookish scientist Julie Zorn, played by Victoria Vetri ("When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth") go to Peckham to investigate.  As the body count rises, the mayor and sheriff ask the town to adopt abstinence.  The head of the largest Union Local vehemently objects, and is then found dead after he is seduced by one of the aforementioned widows.  I guess he wanted Peckham to remain a workers paradise.
 Agar focuses in on Dr. Susan Harris (pictured above), played by Anitra Ford ("The Big Bird Cage"), who specializes in the reproductive behavior of bees for Brandt, Inc.  She was described to Agar, by her fellow scientists as an "iceberg."  However, when Brandt's lead scientist is propositioned by her, he tells Agar, "I'm about to explore the Antarctic and see what's below all that ice."  In a very steamy scene (pictured below), Harris seduces the helpless scientist and kills him in the act of sex.  Harris then abducts his widow and we see the very erotic transformation of a woman into a "Bee Girl." Before their cheating husbands die, these wives are portrayed as frumpy and blah.  After Harris abducts them and transforms them into her Bee Girls, these same women are quite shapely and seductive.  Hidden meaning? You decide.
As the movie progresses, the bookish Julie falls in love with Agar, and begins to let her hair down.  These two converge on Harris' secret lab which puts them into unimaginable peril.  Will our two heroes be able to fight off the Bee Girls?  Will the men of Peckham find a new respect for their wives?  Will Julie finish changing into a seductive vixen on her own (now that she has fallen for Agar), or will Harris abduct her and transform her into a Bee Girl?  This movie is gratuitous.  There is lots of nudity and a very violent scene which shows a brutal attempted rape of Julie.  Instead of watching any of the garbage highlighted on last Sunday's Academy Awards show, check out IBG for biting social commentary and cheap fun.      

Monday, March 3, 2014

Deathstalker, Swords...Sorcerers...Orgies...Pillow Fights

If you enjoyed "Barbarian Queen," make way for Roger Corman's "Deathstalker."  In this 1983 film, Rick Hill portrays Deathstalker, the James Bond of that mythical bygone era.  He grunts well, flexes his pecs, grunts some more, and is great with a big sword.  Barbi Benton, in her best role ever, plays Codille, the helpless damsel. To guarantee a place for this work in my B Movie Hall-of-Fame, Lana Clarkson emerges as Deathstalker's main sidekick.
 The plot: doesn't really matter, but here goes.  The Evil Munkar controls two of the powers of creation as he possesses the magical amulet and chalice. He seeks overall world domination, but he needs the magic sword for that.  His two powers control life and magic....the sword would allow him to control...well..something else important.  Munkar sends his men to rape and pillage the countryside.  To combat this, a good (but homely) witch recruits Deathstalker, who also rapes and pillages (..but in a benign sort of way), to go to Munkar's castle, kill the evil sorcerer, reclaim the chalice and amulet, and restore happiness throughout the land.  The witch equips Deathstalker with the third piece of this trinity...the magic sword.  A fringe benefit also awaits our hunk, Princess Codille.  She was abducted by Munkar and thrown into his harem.
Deathstalker sets out on his journey, and luckily for us, he picks up Kaira (Clarkson) as a sidekick.  She is also terrific with big swords and is usually topless.  Unfortunately for Kaira, Deathstalker is the 007 of this god-forsaken era, and she is killed in an attempt on our hunk's life.  Upon his arrival at Munkar's kingdom, he and other converging warriors enjoy orgies, drink, female mud-wrestling, and carnage.  Munkar appears and lets the warriors know he is hosting a tournament where the warriors will compete against each other to the death and the winner will take away his kingdom (his fingers were crossed when he said that).  Munkar is terrific...he has an evil laugh, jellyfish tattoos on his head, feeds human body parts to his monster pet, and has a great harem. Codille is his selection to be his bride...oh no!  He displays her, half naked, to be groped by all the monster warriors.  Fortunately for her, Deathstalker falls in love with her and is bent on rescuing her.
  If Deathstalker recovers the chalice and amulet, does he also get Barbi Benton?  Will a world without Munkar mean more clothes for the populace (especially the women)?  Will Roger Corman ever make "Deathstalker meets the Barbarian Queen"?  This movie is filled with gore and nudity...much of it gratuitous.  Trolls, monsters, mud-wrestling, and cat-fights with pillows are used often as plot filler.  If your significant other suggests "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" for movie night, save yourself and do "Deathstalker" instead.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dead End Drive In, The Future of Australia

Today's blog entry takes a peek at Australia in the not too distant future.  We know from the "Mad Max" movies that Aussies can make futuristic tales containing chaotic landscapes.  The nostalgia lover in us loves both the era of the drive-in, and 1980s apocalyptic tales.  Throw in car chases, road carnage, cast-offs from "The Road Warrior," explosions, gunfights, and cheap romance and we have a great B Movie!  Hence 1986's "Dead End Drive In."
   The plot:  Civilization has fallen victim to financial crises, violent crime, riots, looting, and misbehaving youth.  In Sydney, Crabs (Ned Manning) and Carmen (Natalie McCurry) are two relatively clean kids who just want to make-out with each other.  The two hopeless romantics borrow a classic Chevy and head to the Star Drive-In for a couple of B Movies, and some serious making-out.  Unbeknownst to them, the government has turned the drive-in complexes into detention camps which do not allow the young viewers to leave.  To combat the soaring crime-rate, youths are contained in these make-shift shanty-towns.  Due process?   Yeah right!  Many viewers who do not realize these B Movies can have deep meaning may believe that this is what the movie is about.  An intelligent viewer will know that this movie has an infinitely more horrifying theme.
 Soon after their arrival, the two lovers realize they can never leave.  They and 193 other "movie-goers" now make up a community of violent pseudo-criminals.  Movies in the evening are shown to keep order and the days are filled with fights, crimes, and other social deviance. Here is the frightening part, only Crabs is upset about this.  Carmen and the rest of her new neighbors accept the slum-like conditions.  After all, they are fed and get to watch movies.  Crabs has a fanatical view of freedom and individuality and can't get anyone to help him arrange an escape.  The warden, attempts to give Crabs  "favorite status" to seduce him into the slum lifestyle, but Crabs rejects it.  The brilliance of this 1986 film is that it is so pertinent to what we have going on in our society.  We have de-valued freedom and individuality as long as we are fed and entertained. Hard work, industry, and initiative are now profanity because they threaten a welfare mindset.  Why work for something if government will provide our basic needs without us having to work?  Truly a horror tale in 1986, but perhaps a reality today.
   Crabs doesn't give in and goes ahead with an escape attempt.  The conclusion of this movie is filled with explosions, car chases, and shoot-outs.  Crabs is the  John Galt of B Movies.  "Dead End Drive In" may be a bit less epic than Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged," but you will be cheering for Crabs so hard, you will wish our society in 2014 has someone like him waiting to emerge.
  A final note, I give big thanks to my favorite Canadian Twitter peep, Trev H. (@trev_76) for turning me onto this film.  All you Twitterers, please follow him!