Friday, May 30, 2014

Forbidden World, Genetic Terror in Space

Produced by Roger Corman, 1982's "Forbidden World" (aka "Mutant") is another successful "Alien" rip-off. This production has all the elements of classic B Movie fare.  A square-jawed hero, two beautiful damsels in a lot of distress, mad scientists, a mutant bug-like monster, lots of gore, and an experiment gone very wrong guarantee that this film will be pleasing to the B Movie aficionado.  Also, Dawn Dunlap ("Barbarian Queen"), who plays Tracy, delivers the best screaming performance in movie history.  Though Dunlap's acting career was short (1979-85), her performance is quite memorable.
The plot: Mike (Jesse Vint) is an intergalactic cop sent to the planet Xarbia.  A genetic experiment got out of hand and killed a scientist.  He is met there by a team of mad scientists and Dr. Barbara Glaser played by June Chadwick ("V" and "This is Spinal Tap").  As he is briefed by the team, it is obvious that Barbara has plans for this hunk.  As if Barbara was not reward enough for responding to a distress call, Mike also meets the shapely Tracy, and the two of them exchange goo-goo eyes.  No problem, Tracy's boyfriend dies fairly quickly, making her available.  The scientists inform Mike, "...we've created a little monster, I'm afraid." Unfortunately the little bugger (see photo below) grows really fast and escapes from the lab by hiding inside Tracy's boyfriend.  Once outside the sterile compartment, the thing grows and feasts on one scientist at a time.  Mike has a motto, "If it moves, and it is not one of us, shoot it."  This is horrific to our scientific team who believe the thing intelligent and desire to communicate with it.
Though Barbara and Mike have different philosophies on approaching the creature, she meets him in the hall wearing a shiny robe (see the first picture) and says "I hear your the best troubleshooter in the federation...want to see some trouble?"  He does and the two then enjoy a passionate evening of.....troubleshooting.  While they troubleshoot, the creature claims more victims.  As if Barbara was not enough, Mike wakes up and bumps into a nude Tracy in the spa.  Her greeting to him, "get naked."  One wonders if the Tracy or Barbara question will gain the traction of the proverbial Ginger or Marianne question (reference "Gilligan's Island"). Mike selects both.  Their tryst is interrupted by the spider like creature, unfortunately.  As Mike and the remaining scientists begin to hunt this bug thing, Barbara and Tracy meet in a hot shower.  Tracy is exhausted as she has been constantly chased by the fiend, and Barbara is always there to comfort her.  Barbara convinces Tracy to join her in slipping on a sexy bathrobe (see below photo) and approaching the creature in order to initiate communications with it.  If this sounds like a stupid idea.....well, unfortunately for Barbara, it was also a fatal one, and once again Tracy runs screaming into the arms of Mike.
As fate has just answered the Barbara or Tracy question for Mike, he and the surviving lab crew concoct a risky and gory plan to combat this mutation.  As the thing develops it's own ghastly plan for the humans, Mike and his crew will need to work fast.  The conclusion is exciting and blood splattered.  Tracy's screaming is classic and she is always able choose the wrong corridor to come face to face with the nemesis of mankind.  Will Mike and Tracy get over their losses and do some troubleshooting of their own?  Will the failure to break the cycle of violence endanger this lab team's chances of winning a Nobel prize?  After seeing the previews to Tom Cruise's new scifi epic...pardon me while I yawn...I guarantee you that "Forbidden World" (available on Netflix) will be more satisfying to you.
 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Incredible Melting Man, The Best SciFi Film of the 1970s

1977's "The Incredible Melting Man" might be one of the top B Movies ever made.  The movie takes itself seriously and preys on our eternal fear of being reduced to a sticky ooze.  The acting is interesting, but highly entertaining, and the special effects and make-up were done by Rick Baker, the industry's best ("Squirm" and "Videodrome").  Alex Rebar plays the title role in a very deconstructing performance.  One wonders if America's space program started nose-diving because of the horrors revealed in this film.
As the film begins, three astronauts, travelling through the rings of Saturn, are marveling at the beauty of the sun. Then something goes wrong.  The three astronauts make it back to earth, but two melt almost immediately.  Steve, however, has more consistency.  He is in tact, mostly, but slowly melting.  His mind is gone and when he wakes up at NASA's Psychoradiological Research Center (no longer exists, a victim of recent budget cuts) the sight of his slimy appendages is just too much for him to handle.  With his new found superhuman strength, he busts out of his straps and chases down a fat nurse (see picture below), and eats her just outside the facility.  Upon his escape, Dr. Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning) is called.  We know he is Dr. Ted Nelson because he states "I'm Dr. Ted Nelson" thirteen times in this film.  His definitive statement is usually met with disinterest.  Nevertheless, he is Dr. Ted Nelson, a friend of The Incredible Melting Man.  Dr. Ted Nelson notifies General Perry, who orders Dr. Ted Nelson to find The Incredible Melting Man.
Dr. Ted Nelson then undertakes one of the weirdest searches in movie history.  After the general's order, Dr. Ted Nelson goes home to help his wife unload groceries.  After telling his wife about their friend Steve, she wants more information, but Dr. Ted Nelson wants crackers for his soup.  Unfortunately she forgot them at the store, and presses Dr. Ted Nelson for more on Steve.  He can't get off her failure to buy crackers.  Dr. Ted Nelson eventually tells her he will need a Geiger counter to find Steve, and she asks "A Geiger counter, is he radioactive?"  Dr. Ted Nelson, trying to put her at ease says, "Only a little."  He then hits the fields with his Geiger counter, following the ooze and appendages (ears and eyeballs).  He then takes another break to pick up the general from the airport.  Meanwhile, The Incredible Melting Man needs blood, and goes on to attack and eat a fisherman, Dr. Ted Nelson's mother-in-law, and Detroit Tiger great Mickey Lolich.  After teaming up with the general for more intense searching, the two go to the Nelson house for dinner and a nap.
As the carnage continues, Dr. Ted Nelson is drawn eerily closer to his now slippery friend.  The final showdown delivers the most symbolic ending in movie history.  This cinematic masterpiece is available on Netflix and on YouTube in an episode of MST3K.  Will Dr. Ted Nelson ever trust his wife again after she forgot crackers at the grocery store?  Was Dr. Ted Nelson's 30% effort in his search for The Incredible Melting inspiration to all 1970s federal employees (thus leading to the demise of America's space program)? The shocking horror of "The Incredible Melting Man" is sure to please after you fork over big bucks to see Hollywood's early summer, underwhelming blockbusters. Also, as a special treat, the 'swinging cheerleader', Rainbeaux Smith, appears in this film as a nubile damsel in much distress....Enjoy!   

Monday, May 26, 2014

Mutant Girls Squad, Gore and Exploitation from Japan

2010's "Mutant Girls Squad" is not the first Japanese gore-epic this blog has featured.  On April 28th "Helldriver" was featured.  The two movies have similarities.  Both movies feature a Japanese heroine saving Japan.  Both feature extreme gore, with lots of spurting blood and impaled victims.  More importantly, both of these films extol the virtues of individualism in the face of massive collectivism in today's society.  Our heroines are different, and completely at odds with accepted norms. In today's blog entry, whether human or mutant, collectivism is the source of evil.
The plot: Rin (Yumi Sugimoto) is a shy and bullied girl who has just turned 16.  After being bullied all day at school she wakes up in the nurse's office after some classmates beat her up.  The nurse tells Rin that she is not human and some people are on the way to take her away.  For the first time, Rin's mutant self makes an appearance and she escapes after knocking the nurse's ear off.  She arrives home in tears to parents who break the news to her that she is a mutant.  Her dad is one, and encourages her to embrace her differences.  Government storm troopers then invade the house and kill her mom and dad, spurring Rin to become a mutant.  Her mutant feature is a Freddy Krueger hand, and she uses it to dispatch the invaders.  She then escapes and meets hostility from everyone she meets including an evil mall owner, two bakers, a reporterette and her news crew, nice guys, and butchers.  She makes minced meat out of all of them (see picture above).
Rin is then found by a mutant commune.  The mutants, called Hilko, are teen-aged girls who all have mutant attributes (treasures).  She befriends Rei (Yuko Takayama), a beautiful but deadly Hilko, who trains her in combat. Rin then meets her new BFF, Yoshie (Suzuka Morita), a Hilko Cosplay nurse, who features tentacles and an aardvark's face when she becomes mutant (see picture above).  Together, these three beauties are dispatched to kill a general charged with eliminating all the Hilkos.  The trio perform their task, but when ordered to kill all the innocent human women and children at the scene, they realize that the Hilko commune is as evil as the intolerant humans.  As the Hilko commune endeavors to destroy all the humans in Japan, Rei, Rin, and Yoshie begin the quest to destroy the evil Hilkos.  
Knowing they could never belong to any community, our heroines decide to fight evil, simply because it is evil.  Unfortunately, the god of the Hilkos manifests as a gigantic, clawed nemesis who is bent on crushing these three rebels.  This god, and two other Hilkos (one with an a**-chainsaw and the other with breast swords) then pursue our lethal-damsels.  With both humans and Hilko bent on their destruction, Rei, Rin, and Yoshie engage in a bloody war which will be almost impossible to emerge victorious.  "Mutant Girls Squad" is a refreshing appeal to the virtue of individualism.  The three actresses are attractive, even as mutants, and do a fine job.  The gore is extreme, and action is non-stop, perfect for us B-Movie enthusiasts.  If you are sick and tired of being criticized for being different from the boring masses, this film should inspire you to hang on to your individualist ways.  Available on Netflix.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Starcrash, a Caroline Munro Spectacular!

The definition of a true B Movie aficionado?  He/she chooses to watch Roger Corman's 1978 epic "Starcrash" over "Star Wars."  The advantages of this Corman classic are obvious, Caroline Munro beats Carrie Fisher any day of the millennium.  Also, for you ladies, David Hasselhoff trounces Mark Hamill in any galactic sphere.  Also, Joe Spinnell ("The Last Horror Film" and "Maniac") has THE BEST evil laugh in movie history.  "Starcrash" has developed quite a cult following over the decades, which includes your's truly.
The plot:  A spaceship approaching a mysterious ice planet is destroyed by a warship from the League of the Dark Worlds.  Three launches jettison from the doomed ship before it's destruction.  Simultaneously Stella Star (Munro) and Akton, played by Marjoe Gortner ("Earthquake") are chased down and arrested by Thor (Robert Tessier) of the Imperial Police, for intergalactic smuggling.  Both are sentenced to centuries of hard labor (the picture above is Stella in her prison outfit).  As Stella pulls off a daring escape, her freedom is short-lived, as Thor tracks her down. Instead of returning her to hard labor, he brings her and Akton to see The Emperor (Christopher Plummer) who rules over all the good planets in the galaxy.  The Emperor asks our smugglers to track down the jettisoned launches from the aforementioned spaceship.  The leader of the evil side, Count Zarth Arn (Spinnell) ordered that ship destroyed because they were getting too close to The Count's secret weapon.  This weapon, the size of a planet, could make The Count "The Ruler of the Entire Universe."
Oh yes, The Emperor advises our heroes that his son, Prince Simon (Hasselhoff) was aboard one of those launches.  With the help of a trusty Texan-android named Elle, they set off on a rescue and destroy mission.  The first two launches are easy finds, but do not yield Prince Simon.  Stella is like Jim on "The Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom."  She gets sent down to the planet to scout around and get attacked while Akton stays aboard the ship and watches (kinda like what Marlon Perkins did in that show).  On one planet, Stella is abducted and slated for a mind-scan by paranoid Amazon women (see picture below).  Thanks to Elle, she fights them off with fists and guns.  On another planet, a tribe of cavemen molest her, string her up, and start to cook her.  Fortunately for her, Prince Simon rescues her.  Good luck for them, this planet just so happens to house the secret weapon, and with the help of Akton, who finally decides to beam down and lend assistance, they invade the control room.
As our trio converge on the weapon, The Count and his evil robot troops ambush them.  With the balance of the universe in a precarious state, can Stella, her nerdy pilot, and the very buff Prince Simon overcome galactic odds and destroy The Count and his forces?  Is it possible to buy a "Starcrash" lunchbox on eBay? Ohhh...how I want one! The ending is exciting and features epic battles and secret weapons.  Christopher Plummer and Joe Spinell are fantastic as mortal adversaries.  Caroline Munro looks fantastic throughout and  is on camera for the majority of this 92 minute masterpiece.  If "Star Wars" seems preachy and tiring to you, catch "Starcrash" for one heck of a good time.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

State of Emergency, Zombie Apocalypses and the Triple Crown

With the Belmont Stakes coming up, it is appropriate that we feature a movie from the heart of horse country.  Today's feature, from the Clay brothers (Turner and John Will), is 2011's "State of Emergency," was filmed in Montgomery County, Kentucky.  What says "Triple Crown" better than chemical plant explosions, and an infected murderous population?  Okay...maybe a few things, but our movie, filmed mostly in horse stables and a tobacco warehouse at least conjures up images of Mr. Ed.
The plot:  Our protagonist, Jim (Jay Hayden) is having a bad day. Notice his coffee mug....pathetic.  As he wakes up, he looks forward to proposing to his beautiful girlfriend, Emily (McKenna Jones).  She is a nurse and madly in love with him.  Then BOOM!!!!!  The chemical plant at the edge of town explodes, and instantly the town is quarantined and the residents get homicidal...even cannibalistic.  Fleeing the carnage which infected hordes and martial law can bring, Emily is shot to death.  Jim takes refuge in an abandoned stable at a horse farm, seemingly safe.  He deposits Emily in a private stable (there is still respect for the dead) and finds a high powered rifle, ammo, and a working TV.  The news broadcasts are grim, and Jim realizes he has to hunker down.  With helicopters and jet fighters going back and forth and the sounds of distant gunfire, Jim carelessly leaves a door unlocked and soon finds himself in a battle for life with an infected Kentuckian (see picture below).
After prevailing, Jim receives a call from a group of survivors a few hundred yards due north of him.  They are secured in a large tobacco warehouse and have plenty of food and water.  Jim accepts their invitation to join them and sprints to their location.  There he meets his new best friends, Scott (Scott Lilly) and Julie (Kathryn Todd Norman). Scott reminds us of the weird guy at Terminus in "The Walking Dead," but in this film is very magnanimous to his new friend.  Julie is straight out of the 1950s and is constantly ordered to fix sandwiches, fix stew, or get drink...to which she responds in total obedience.  Also secured in this facility is Ix.  She is a goth wannabe, and doesn't speak.  Eventually she softens up to Jim and the two kinda fall for each other.  The real tragedy of this mini-apocalypse is that Jim went from a beautiful, adoring nurse, to a grouchy, unstable semi-nutcase.  As the film enters it's final 35 minutes, some infected get into the warehouse setting up some spine tingling scenes and Jim will have to leave for a foraging expedition due to a medical emergency.
After several close calls, it appears that their stronghold is weakening.  Will the military get to them in time?  Will Ix' mood improve now that Montgomery County's most eligible bachelor has the hots for her?  Does anyone remember Affirmed and Seattle Slew (the last two Triple Crown winners)?  Kentucky is a beautiful state, and now they have their first zombie-apocalypse film.  The Clay brothers do a fine job at creating suspense and horror in seemingly safe settings.  The acting is good, and all the characters are likable and we are pulling for them through the entire film.  This is neat movie with a surprise ending....at least in this genre....which I found refreshing.  Kudos to the Clay brothers.   

 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Don't Open Till Christmas, Vengeance on Santa

Only a little over seven months until Christmas (...excuse me, for all of our elected officials, so not to offend...substitute "holiday" every time I say Christmas).  1980s slasher movies are an important element of this blog, and so are international films, so today we will combine those two.  1984's "Don't Open Till Christmas" an English film, will satisfy your need to view one of these films and also inspire you to begin your Christmas shopping (...especially if you know someone who wants a harpoon, machete, ax, or bomb).
As our film begins, Christmas season is in full force in London.  Uh oh, some psycho is murdering anyone he come's across who is dressed as Santa.  After a young couple is knifed while making out in the backseat of a car, the killer enters a nightclub where the proverbial Christmas/masquerade party is taking place.  The owner, dressed as Santa, enters the dance floor and is met by a harpoon which enters through the back of his skull.  To make matters worse, Kate (Belinda Mayne), the deceased's daughter, witnesses this macabre murder.  Scotland Yard sends their best detective, Inspector Harris (Edmund Purdom) and he develops a multitude of suspects, including Kate's boyfriend, Cliff (Gerry Sundquist).  As more and more Santas' fall in horrifying fashion, it is apparent that this psycho hates Christmas almost as much as the U.S. public schools do.  Kate and the inspector (see picture below) develop a fondness for each other hampering the Inspector's ability to solve the case, and Cliff's ability to....well..you know...
Also on the case is a reporter named Giles (Alan Lake).  He is inquisitive and creepy and seems to know a lot more about the killings than the police.  Giles is also suspicious of Inspector Harris and encourages Scotland Yard to look into the Inspector's weird activities.  Other suspects include a perverted fashion photographer who dresses one of his models up as Santa.  The only one not a suspect in this film is Caroline Munro, who plays Caroline Munro, and delivers a heart warming rendition of "I am the Warrior of Love" to a fawning nightclub audience.  Unfortunately for her, as she concludes this piece, a Santa corpse with a machete in his face falls in front of her on the stage.
As the killer gets bolder, Santas' fall at an increasing rate.  So many different types of carnage grace this holiday film, such as urinal carnage, sausage grill carnage, music box carnage, and car battery carnage.  Is our good Inspector the killer?  How about Kate?  She is constantly mistreated by the crude Cliff.  Is this a plot by her to eventually dispose of him? Oh yes, is there any truth to the rumor that "I am the Warrior of Love" was originally written for Bonnie Tyler, but when she came down with a hoarse voice, it was given to Caroline Munro?  Fans of 1980s slasher films will love "Don't Open Till Christmas."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Women of Devil's Island, The Female Version of Papillon

Square jawed Guy Madison broke into show business while on leave from the U.S. Navy.  This hunk then appeared in many adventure, romance, and western movies before leaving for Europe to star in films there.  In 1962, he played the mysterious warden in today's film, "Women of Devil's Island." An Italian film, today's feature will remind us of "Papillon" only instead of grizzled and hardened cut-throats as the convicts, we have voluptuous Parisian fashion models (notice the Devil's Island wardrobe in the below picture) in those roles.  Hey...works for me.
The plot:  Martine (Michele Mercier) is sent to Devil's Island for some crime.  As depressed as she is, her one point of solace is that her sister Michelle (Federica Ranchi) is already an inmate there.  Her sister was sentenced to life, but took the identity of an inmate named Jeanette (who died) because this woman's sentence was only four years.  Dressed in evening gowns, the prisoners are condemned to slave labor, which means panning for gold in a shallow river.  The women are constantly beaten by the guards and hung upon the rack to dry in the hot sun.  When the girls feel like they cannot take it anymore, they are allowed to make an appointment to request rest with the acting warden (the Lieutenant).  The Lieutenant's "bargain" is that the prisoner agree to a night of carnal relations with him or his staff, and favor will be bestowed upon the inmate. Unbeknownst to our heroines, the gold they are panning is being purloined by the Lieutenant.  
    The women try to escape, but don't get far.  Michelle distracts the Lieutenant with a night of carnal relations and drink, while the women free themselves from their chains. As they head for a hidden boat, the guards ambush them, killing Michelle, who dies in her sister's arms.  The Lieutenant has his informants among the inmates, apparently.  Enter Guy Madison as Henri, a Captain sent to Devil's Island to replace the evil Lieutenant.  Henri immediately stops all mistreatment of the ladies and falls in love with Martine.  The handsome Brubaker type figure is also a man of mystery.  When he finds the Lieutenant's gold stash, he claims it for himself....but why?  Instead of running Devil's Island, he flees to attempt an escape with the convict he loves, Martine.  The Lieutenant realizes that the Captain may not be who he claims, so he musters the guards to track down his new nemesis, who has absconded with the gold and the shapely prison population.  As Martine and Henri fall deeper in love, explosions, gunfights, and carnage lead to an epic battle which could alter the future of France.
 Part exploitation film.  Part historical drama.  Part swashbuckler epic.  Part social commentary.  Whichever way you choose to view "Women of Devil's Island," the film works.  The acting is pretty good and so is the action.  All the inmates are stunning, and have attitude.  The women are so determined to escape that they are willing to sell themselves on some mainland instead of staying put on this rock.  If you slept through the Mel Gibson/Diane Keaton film, "Mrs. Soffel," "Women of Devil's Island" is the film for you.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Snow Shark, Before there was Sharknado....

The best shark film of 2011 has to be Sam Qualiana's (star, writer, producer, and director) "Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast." This straight to DVD monster movie is pleasing on so many levels, and succeeds without the hype and publicity of last year's "Sharknado."  Qualiana, like me, was born in Massachusetts.  He shot this movie in New York and included approximately 15 gory deaths.  Paying lots of homage to "Jaws," "Snow Shark" features colorful characters including the B movie version of America's mayor, Rudolph Giuliani (see photo below).
The plot:  In the winter of 1999 a scientific expedition into the woods of New York explored the diminishing wildlife after an earthquake.  The expedition, led by Professor Hoffman (Michael O'Hear) is attacked by a shark.  The professor and his grad assistants are eaten.  Five years later, Mike (Qualiana) bags a shark in the woods, but the locals dismiss this as a hoax.  Present day, no one has an explanation for mysterious attacks in the local forest, other than the cover story....a rogue bear.  Then two young lovers wander into the woods and are eaten, signaling to the town that the shark is back.  The world's greatest mayor (Robert Bozek), pictured above, and the sheriff are forced to act.  Oh yes, if there is any doubt about the mayor's status as the world's greatest....just look at his coffee mug.  After the Sheriff's loser son is eaten (no great loss) and a couple of heavily tatted and pierced teens (no great loss) are eaten, the "Big Guy" is brought in.  A cryptozoologist, Lincoln (Andrew Elias) is teamed up with the very shapely Wendy (Kathy Murphy), we never know exactly her expertise other than she looks really good, and Caine (a red-neck version of Quint).  By the way, we know Lincoln is "The Big Guy" as his coffee mug indicates that.
As Lincoln, Caine, Wendy the eye candy, and the Sheriff team up to hunt the shark, Mike puts his own team of bait....I mean hunters together.  Also joining Mike is a very mysterious, one-eyed, scarred fellow with quite a past.  For Mike, killing the shark may lead to his downfall as he is asked by his one-eyed helper, "You ever ask yourself what happens next...after the shark is dead...nothing...she wins either way."  When Mike inquires from his new weird drinking buddy how he knows the shark is a she....the chauvinist replies "Only a woman can take everything a man has, and still wants more."  Deep!  After Santa Claus is digested by this monster fish, our teams take to the woods with guns, grenades, and incompetence.
The conclusion of this story features an epic battle between man and nature.  Though not a staple on The Discovery Channel's "Shark Week"....."Snow Shark" should be.  Qualiana includes many deep (there is that word again) themes in this straight-to-dvd treasure.  Does a perfect eating machine of nature have more credibility in the food chain than waste-oid losers?  Is the devouring of Santa Claus a statement by Qualiana about the duality of Christmas (spiritual vs. commercialism)?  Whatever Qualiana had in mind, he certainly had a lot of fun making this film, and I had even more watching it. Thank you Mr. Qualiana. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dracula A.D. 1972, The Count Comes of Age

1972! The best of times. The United States had an ambitious space program.  Canada beat the U.S.S.R. in a summer hockey extravaganza.  Russ Meyer was still making terrific movies.  The worst of times.  Two ghastly individuals, Richard Nixon and George McGovern ran for the presidency in the U.S., giving our citizens a "Hobson's Choice." Pol Pot, on his way to winning a Nobel Peace Prize, was hailed by the international community as a peaceful statesman. Tensions in the middle-east threatened to bring about World War 3.  Also in 1972, Hammer Films believed (incorrectly) that horror fans were losing interest in Dracula and attempted to make him a modern day menace.  Hence, today's film, from 1972, "Dracula A.D. 1972."
 100 years to the day that Professor Van Helsing died while killing Dracula, a London hippie-type, Johnny Alucard (Christopher Neame) taunts his pals to join him in a black mass.  His motive is to resurrect Dracula. Fortunately for our wayward youths, a desanctified church is available and deserted.  Fortunately for us the viewer, Laura (Caroline Munro) and Jessica (Stephanie Beacham of "Inseminoid" and "And Now The Screaming Starts" fame) are two of Alucard's friends.  Oh yes, Jessica is the granddaughter of Professor Van Helsing (the grandson of the man who killed Dracula).  This Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) is a doting grandfather and has continued in his dad's footsteps of studying vampires and the black arts.  Unfortunately for Laura and Jessica, Alucard knows what he is doing.  His intention is to present Van Helsing's great granddaughter to Dracula upon his resurrection, but an over eager Laura (see picture below) offers herself up for sacrifice first.
As blood spurts from an unholy grail, all over Laura, her friends flee in panic leaving the vulnerable and hysterical beauty all alone to face Dracula (Christopher Lee).  Upon his return, Dracula drains her of blood and expresses his disappointment that Alucard did not provide Van Helsing's descendant as the sacrifice. When Laura's drained body is found, Scotland Yard gets involved and contacts Van Helsing.  Realizing Jessica may be Dracula's next victim, Van Helsing assists the detectives in tracking down this fiend.  After a near fatal meeting with Alucard, he locates Dracula.  Unfortunately, after feasting on more of Jessica's friends, the Count abducts her and prepares her to be his next bride.  A final showdown ensues in which Van Helsing must destroy this vampire before his granddaughter is condemned to an existence of evil.
Will our open-minded and non-judgmental hippies keep these virtues when faced with an eternity of sucking the blood of the living?  Actually, these hippies are doing just that in a metaphorical sense in their "adult" years.  Christopher Lee was furious that his contract mandated he make this movie.  He apologized to his fans and expressed his embarrassment at being associated with "Dracula A.D. 1972."  In 1972, this film might have been a disappointment, but in 2014, a look back at 1972 through the eyes of Hammer Films is a lot of fun.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Savage Beach, Playmates in Peril

Andy Sidaris (1931-2007) had quite a life.  Born in Chicago, died in Beverly Hills, Sidaris was the director of Monday Night Football at it's onset in 1970.  He directed Kojak and a number of movies.  As the 1980s were coming to a close, "Ordinary People" and "Terms of Endearment" were set to be the decade's defining films.  Fortunately for us B Movie aficionados he revived the 1970s sexploitation genre with several films spanning from the late 80s into the mid 90s. Hence today's film, 1989's "Savage Beach."  Set and filmed in Hawaii, each of these films could be titled "Playmates with Guns in Peril."
The plot: Donna (Donna Speir) and Taryn (Hope Marie Carlton) are undercover agents for the Drug Investigation Division (DID).  As the film begins, they and two other babes, take down a smuggling ring at a pineapple facility.  To celebrate they lounge around in bikinis by a hot tub.  When this philanthropic duo find out a children's hospital on a remote Hawaiian island needs vaccine, the two jump in their plane and deliver it.  Unfortunately, on their return flight, a storm forces them to crash land on an uncharted island, occupied by a Samurai warrior who is still fighting WW2.  At the same time, a Filipino Communist rebel, masquerading as a member of the cabinet in the Philippines is working with the U.S. military to locate a sunken WW2 Japanese sub.  On board the sub is looted gold taken from Manila by the Japanese during the war.  Guess where the submarine beached?  Exactly, on this...shall we say...SAVAGE BEACH!  So our beautiful DID agents will have a lot of company soon.  The rebel leader and his femme fatale girlfriend (Teri Weigel, pictured below) head to the island to recover the treasure and finance a Communist takeover of the Philippines.  As beautiful as our blonde duo are, Teri Weigel as Anjelica (the evil rebel lady) is terrific and captivating.  
As our heroines make do on the deserted island, they realize a Samurai warrior is hunting them.  After some narrow escapes (mixed in with some skinny-dipping), the rebels and military arrive.  After being captured and tied up a couple of times, Donna and Taryn escape, grab machine guns and crossbows and find surprising allies.  As our girls fight off the bad guys, they discover the mystery of the lost Japanese submarine and the surviving warrior.    
"Savage Beach" would have played well in the late-eighties to adolescent boys.  Remember those days when HBO and Showtime showed these flicks late at night?  Speir and Carlton were fresh from their Playboy photo spreads, but their acting is appropriate for this venue.  This movie is one-third Playboy video, one-third Hawaiian Tropic calender shoot, and one-third adventure saga (kind of).  Andy Sidaris was the type of fellow who could have accomplished anything he set out to do.  We have to admire him for choosing to create exploitation films instead of romantic comedies.  We miss you Andy!  

 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Slave of the Cannibal God, Ursula Andress Again!

For the fourth time, this blog will focus on an Ursula Andress film (see this blog for "Loaded Guns" on Nov. 24th, "Stateline Motel" on Dec. 9th, and "The 10th Victim" on Jan. 2nd).  The Swiss actress turned down the lead in "Sophie's Choice" to keep her B Movie Hall of Fame status.  Today, we will look at an Italian film from 1978, directed by Sergio Martino ("The Big Alligator River" featured on this blog on March 13th), shot in Sri Lanka, "Slave of the Cannibal God" (aka "Mountain of the Cannibal God").  Oh yes, as an....TARANTULA...service to you, instead of describing all the jungle carnage to you in gory detail, I will convey it to you in a subliminal manner.
The plot: Susan (Andress) arrives in New Guinea, with her brother,  in hopes of finding her husband, Professor Stevenson.  The professor.....LIZARD....led an expedition into the jungle that disappeared without a trace.  Susan meets up with his colleague, Professor Foster (Stacy Keach) who agrees to help Susan and her brother find Stevenson.  Foster believes that Stevenson wandered into an unexplored part of the jungle where a cannibalistic.....BIG SNAKE.....tribe called the Puka used to rule.  As the expedition begins, it becomes apparent that everyone in it is hiding something.  As they enter the jungle, Keach hires a number of native bodies to assist in carrying supplies.  Unfortunately for them, they take the role of the USS Enterprise crew members who beam down to a planet with Kirk, McCoy, and Spock.  They get picked off one by one.  As Susan repeatedly is attacked by jungle critters, they meet up with Manolo (Claudio Cassinelli) who joins.....ALLIGATOR...the expedition.  As their expedition then comes under attack from a mysterious tribe (see picture below), Manolo brings them to a mission led by an old friend who is a priest.
Unfortunatley, this priest is a bit of a prude.....BATS....so when Susan and Manolo, and then her brother and a native girl decide to fornicate, the priest ex-communicates them from the village, but not after the Puka attack and kill the amorous native girl.  As they trek closer and closer to the cannibal mountain.....ALLIGATOR....double-crosses and hidden agendas abound.  Manolo discovers that Susan and her brother are carrying a Geiger counter, but since Susan is a major league babe, he doesn't make an issue of this.  As our team battles the river rapids, the jungle, and intermittent Puka raids, they arrive at the mountain.....KOMODO DRAGON...and make some horrifying discoveries.  To make matters worse, the Puka capture all of them intending to eat the men.  Unfortunately for Susan, their plans for her are far more horrifying than merely eating her.
As Susan faces an unspeakable fate, the mystery of her missing husband is revealed.  Can Manolo escape the frying pan......COBRA.....and rescue the woman he lusts for?  Will the cannibal god decide to take Susan as his bride?  All these questions are answered in a terrifying conclusion.  The musical score is cool, and the acting is fine.  Sergio Martino's direction utilizes his big star, Andress, to the viewer's satisfaction.  See the 103 minute version of this film (sometimes available on YouTube), and not the 83 minute one.  35 years after refusing the title role in "Sophie's Choice," Ursula Andress is making her fourth appearance on this blog....and we have ignored every Meryl Streep film made.   



Thursday, May 8, 2014

Twins of Evil, or...The Maltese Twins

Two of the most famous Hammer glamour girls are Mary and Madeleine Collinson.  These beauties, born in Malta and arrived in Great Britain as fashion photography models. Though their film careers lasted less than three years, Hammer's "Twins of Evil" from 1971 has developed a cult following because of them.  In October 1970, Playboy featured the Collinson sisters as Playmates of the month, in one of their magazine's most famous spreads.  Today Mary lives in Milan with her boyfriend and two daughters and Madeleine has returned to Malta where she is happily married with three daughters.  Oh yes....Peter Cushing.  I believe Cushing gives one of his finest performances as a religious zealot.
The plot:  Gustav Weil (Cushing) and his merry band of religious fanatics roam the countryside looking for beautiful young women.  Their lack of modesty naturally indicates that they are children of Satan prompting Gustav's morality brigade to burn them at the stake. How ironic, arriving by coach are Maria and Freida (pictured above, and portrayed by the Collinson twins) who have just lost their parents.  Having grown up in Venice, their wardrobes are more revealing than Gustav would prefer.  In his Puritanical uncle demeanor, Gustav welcomes his nieces by shouting "What is this plumage?"  Maria is eager to show obedience to Gustav but Frieida is determined to rebel, not only in dress, but in taste of boyfriends.  Freida immediately shows an interest in Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas).  Karnstein is into the black arts and worships Satan.  As Gustav continues to collect and burn the most beautiful women in Europe (see picture below), Karnstein resurrects his ancestor Mircalla (Katya Wyeth).  Mircalla, a vampire, then bites Karnstein turning him into one, as well.
As Maria tries to behave, she catches the eye of her music teacher, Anton.  Freida sneaks off to see Karnstein and is welcomed by him, his girlfriend Gerta (Luan Peters), and Mircalla.  Freida is very amenable to be turned to a vampire as well, which is bad news for Gerta.  The newly turned Freida is given Gerta to play with and then eat...which she does (see picture below).  Upon Freida's return, Gustav discovers her vampiric condition, and has her arrested to be executed the next morning.  Karnstein then abducts Maria and switches the twins, hence the zealots will burn Maria, allowing Freida to live as Maria.  Anton to the rescue!  Will he arrive before Gustav torches Maria?  Because Anton does not believe that European babes should be incinerated, Gustav doesn't take him seriously.
A gory and fiery conclusion ensues.  Saved by Anton, Maria rushes to Karnstein's castle to save her, now vampire, sister and is grabbed by the Count. Gustav comes face to face with Freida.  Death, destruction, and dismemberment follow.  Axes, spears, stakes, and plumage fly.  Did the lack of tolerance and government sponsored diversity initiatives spell the end for witches and vampires in the middle ages?  Did fear and hate of vampires spell Freida's doom when she decided to be turned?  "Twins of Evil" is a scary and entertaining movie.  The Collinson twins may have been the most seductive of the Hammer glamour women.  Peter Cushing's performance is fantastic!  This hard to find DVD may be available on YouTube. Enjoy!      

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

BloodRayne 2: Deliverance Natassia Malthe!

One of my favorite modern actresses is Natassia Malthe.  When not acting or modeling, she is active in philanthropic causes.  Most recently, she raised lots of money and supplies for the earthquake survivors in northern Japan.  This Norwegian beauty was featured in this blog for "Vampire Wars" on November 15th, and today she will be featured in 2007's "BloodRayne 2: Deliverance." Many of you may remember her as the femme fatale figure in LG's Scarlet advertising campaign in 2008...some of my favorite commercials!  This Uwe Boll movie is the most playful BloodRayne movie, where the first one was the most intense, and the third one (also starring Malthe) is the most erotic.
The plot:  Billy the Kid (Zack Ward) is raiding homesteads, killing parents and abducting their children.  Neat twist, Billy and his gang are demented vampires.  The last homestead they raided belonged to Rayne's (Malthe) friends and she tracks Billy to Deliverance.  Deliverance is a small town which will get a railroad station soon.  Billy (see picture below) now controls the town and Rayne is met with hostility immediately.  When warned "..you don't know what you're dealing with," she responds "...that's fair, neither do they."  Rayne, of course, is a damphere (half human/half vampire).  This is explained in the first BloodRayne movie as Ben Kingsley (vampire) rapes Rayne's mother.  After shooting a couple of Billy's men with silver bullets soaked in holy water and garlic, she is overpowered and put in jail.  Fortunately for her, Pat Garrett (Michael Pare....who is in all three BloodRayne movies) rescues her just before her execution.  Unfortunately for Rayne, she takes a couple of bullets, and is near death.
Garrett learns fast, and nurses her back to health by letting her drink some of his blood (see picture below).  Now Garrett and Rayne team up and put their own gang together, which includes a con-man preacher and a killer.  Rayne needs to hurry, Billy has already started drinking the blood of the children.  The gang returns to Deliverance and goes to war with the vampires, as Rayne breaks free to track down Billy for a horrifying confrontation.  Billy asks Rayne to join him and gives her an ambitious speech about ruling the world, but she taunts him with "Big speech, little guns...you compensating for something, Billy?"  As Billy begins kicking the snot out of Rayne, we the viewer are screaming (as if we are watching a WWE match) "Get up Rayne!"  Who will prevail?
Will Rayne rebound and destroy Billy?  Will Garrett and Rayne head to Tombstone next and confront the Clanton brothers?  Uwe Boll, as in all three "BloodRayne" movies delivers a fabulously entertaining movie.  He pays homage to the spaghetti western, and gives our protagonist the attitude of a seasoned gunfighter.  Malthe looks great in her black leather coat and revealing garments...and of course two six-shooters.  The first "BloodRayne" movie was reviewed on this blog on  December 12th, and sometime soon, I'll do the third installment.  If you are not familiar with Natassia Malthe and Uwe Boll, definitely see the last two "BloodRayne" movies.  Oh yes, Michael Pare is terrific as Pat Garrett! 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Countess Dracula, If I was this Smart when I was 20...

We have all wondered how smart (..or dangerous) we would have been in our college years if we knew then what we know now.  In 1970's "Countess Dracula," Ingrid Pitt (as Countess Nodosheen) finds out.  A Hammer Film based on the historical Elizabeth Bathory.  In the 1980s I had the pleasure of having Raymond McNally as a professor at Boston College.  He traveled to Romania and wrote a book about Bathory entitled "Dracula Was a Woman." . Bathory bathed in the blood of virgins in order, she believed, to keep young.  Sort of the Oil of Olay of the 17th century.  Perfect fodder for a Hammer film!
The plot:  As the film begins, a very elderly and cantankerous Countess Nodosheen arrives home after her husband's funeral.  A chambermaid accidentally cuts herself while helping the Countess take a bath.  The ever grouchy old hag slaps her and gets some of the maid's blood on her face.  Miraculously, that area of her face changes into that of a young woman's face.  Up until now, the Countess assumed she'd have to settle for the aged Captain Dobi.  Enlisting the aid of her nursemaid, the Countess lures beautiful virgins to the castle where she kills them and bathes in their blood.  After the baths, the old hag turns into Ingrid Pitt.  How to explain this to her servants?  She and Dobi assert that the Countess is actually Ilona (see picture below),  her daughter.  Ilona (Lesley-Anne Down), traveling home, is intercepted by Dobi's highwaymen and abducted.  Imprisoned by a drooling semi-mutant, the beautiful Ilona is terrorized and pawed by this fiend.
  No one in the town has seen Ilona for 12 years, as she was sent away to be protected from the invading Turks.  With Ilona in captivity, the Countess can assume her identity. With her new youth, she loses interest in Dobi and romances the young and studly Lieutenant Toth. Major problem!  The blood baths do not last and she must continue bathing in virgin blood.  Each time she obtains youth, the session is shorter and shorter, and when she ages again, she gets older and older.  After going through the beautiful virgins, she settles for the homely virgins.  With all the virgins gone, and a marriage on the horizon to Lt. Toth, where will she find her next victim?  You guessed it.....a new peril for our beautiful damsel, Ilona.
As Toth accidentally walks in on one of the Countess' bathing rituals (see picture above), he realizes that he is the object of a very diabolical plan involving the real Ilona.  Will Toth lose his interest in older women and save Ilona?  Will the Countess be hated because she is beautiful?  The conclusion of this film is exciting, and the Countess' wisdom of the ages is tested against her need for and ability to obtain virgin blood. Ingrid Pitt is fantastic here.  She died in 2010, on her way to an appearance at a horror convention in the UK.  Her fame as one of the greatest "scream-queens" won her millions of fans, whom she always respected.  "Countess Dracula" may be this Hammer-Glamour girl's best film.  Not a victim needing rescuing here, but a stunning, powerful and ominous 17th century femme-fatale.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Vampire Circus, The Count vs. The Gold Digger

1972's "Vampire Circus" might have been the beginning of the end for Hammer Films.  Bright red blood, beautiful women, intellectual heroes, and campy fun were the trademarks of Hammer vampire movies.  Then came the 1970s, and the eroticism present in these films took on a more risque flavor.  However much movie makers claimed they were giving the customer what they wanted, the customer seemed to lose interest in Hammer at this time.  In 2014, "Vampire Circus" may be the best vampire film that you have never seen.
  The plot:  Albert Mueller (Laurence Payne), while reading in the woods, witnesses his wife lure a little girl into Count Mitterhaus' (Robert Tayman) castle.  A few problems here, Mueller's wife is now Mitterhaus' sex slave and the little girl is the Count's dinner.  Oh yes, the Count, of course, is a vampire.  Having had enough of their children being abducted, the townspeople, led by Mueller, storm the castle.  In a bloody battle, the irate citizens apparently kill the Count.  Mueller's wife, as the castle is in flames, runs back into it to be with the Count.  Before he dies, Mitterhaus curses the invaders, swearing vengeance on their children.
15 years later and our little hamlet is enduring more problems.  They have been quarantined.  All roads leading in and out have been roadblocked for fears of the plague.  To their surprise, a mysterious circus arrives.  A gypsy woman, played by Adrienne Corri (Moon Zero Two) pictured above, is the ringmaster and features a black puma which changes into a man, mysterious twins (vampires), a tiger, chimpanzee, acrobats, and an ominous hall of mirrors.  Then people start dying horrible deaths at the hands of vampires and hungry cats of prey.  As the original posse which disposed of Mitterhaus begins dwindling, so do their children.  Mueller must now protect his daughter Dora (Lynne Frederick).  She is pure as the white snow.  Ironically, Dora is portrayed by Ms. Frederick who was the world's most renown gold digger.  She gained her fortune marrying men decades her elder, such as Peter Sellers and David Frost.  Unfortunately she spent too much of that wealth on drugs and alcohol and departed this mortal coil before her 40th birthday.
As the sultry gypsy woman leads her circus in pursuit of dear Dora, Mueller realizes that he must kill all of the vampires. Killing anyone in their way, the vampires devour the children at Mueller's school and abduct Dora. With Mueller pursuing, they all meet at the ruins of Mitterhaus' castle.  Here a bloody final battle will ensue but not before the true identity of the gypsy woman, and the true destiny of the Count  are revealed.  Horrors, overt and implied, are prevalent in this film.  Also, very erotic scenes, including a circus act featuring a man with a whip and a nude snake woman, are included.  Creepy and disturbing, with a generous amount of that classic red Hammer blood, "Vampire Circus" will not disappoint.  Too erotic for 1974? Perhaps.  Hammer's glory would only last another couple of years.  For 2014?  You be the judge.