Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Aquanoids, Creature From the Black Lagoon meets Romper Room

In between her appearances as a cast member on TV's "Romper Room" and her role as The Hallmark Channel's "Pet Lifestyle" Expert for Marie Osmond,  Laura Nativo starred in 2003's "Aquanoids."  In this heartwarming story, Nativo plays a beautiful marine biologist attempting to save a coastal California town from the sea-creatures that ate her mother.  This film is what we get when we mesh several movies together, including "Jaws," "Humanoids From the Deep," "Piranha," and "Creature From the Black Lagoon."  The strengths of this flick are that it gladly pays homage to these films, and the energetic performance of Nativo as Vanessa DuMont.
The plot:  As the movie begins, two naughty skinny-dippers are eaten by an aquanoid (a creature that looks like our friend in "Creature From the Black Lagoon").  Sixteen years later, the daughter of the eaten skinny-dipper is now a short-short and bikini-top clad marine biologist searching for aquanoids off the coast.  She finds them and flees into town with this warning for the mayor, "An aquanoid, close the beaches now!"  They didn't listen to Chief Brody in 1975, so why should they listen to Nativo?  The mayor passes this cryptic warning off as "...a hysterical female who saw a large fish."  Of course, swimmers, divers and boaters start getting mauled by these aquanoids, but the mayor has pressured the coroner to declare these killings as boating accidents.  You gotta love this coroner, as he dissects these victims he throws on the tunes (polka/accordion music).
As the plot progresses, Vanessa and another bikini clad do-gooder take their scooters (yes...scooters, not car) around town and post signs warning of dangerous waters.  Seeing a threat to the summer dollars of their town, the mayor and his buddy (a developer) then try to kill these two women, but fail several times.  In a scene straight out of "Humanoids From The Deep" the mayor's daughter is raped by an aquanoid and dies giving birth to it's offspring.  Not wanting to let on to the existence of aquanoids, the coroner tells a dumb cop that the dead fetus is just a deformed child.  When the cop is still suspicious, the crafty-coroner informs him that one out of five-million babies look like this. The opportunity for a bad joke here is too inviting.
Will our bikini-clad heroines survive the attempts on their lives and kill the aquanoids?  Will the mayor come to terms with being a grandfather to an aquanoid?  Will Vanessa learn the identity of her real father?  Yeah, I forgot to mention that sub-plot.  Whatever you say about this movie, Nativo is pleasant to look at and delivers a spirited performance.  I just saw "47 Ronin" today, and I guarantee you that her acting abilities top those of Keanu Reeves.  For beach fun during a cold winter, see "Aquanoids."

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Beast From Haunted Cave, Inspiration for Alien

"Beast From Haunted Cave" from 1959 begs an important question.  Shouldn't there be a "the" in the title?  Oh well, at least it isn't missing the monster.  In fact, this monster will remind you of the alien in Ridley Scott's "Alien."  Whatever this 71 minute masterpiece is lacking, horrible, gruesome deaths are not among the missing.  If you thought Alfred Hitchcock's "North By Northwest" was the best movie to come out of South Dakota in 1959, this film may change your mind.
The plot:  A group of Chicago thugs headed by Alex (Frank Wolff) and Marty (Richard Sinatra...yep, his cousin) descend into a South Dakota ski resort.  Sheila Noonan (Gunsmoke, A Bucket of Blood) plays Gypsy Boulet, Alex' eye-candy.  They don't exactly blend, but they have a fool-proof plan to rob the town bank of it's gold supply.  The night before the robbery, Marty romances a bar-maid, Natalie (Linne Ahlstrand, July 1958's Playboy Playmate of the month).  Marty brings her to an abandoned gold mine where the two are beset by a giant spider-beast.  Marty escapes, but our Playmate endures the most excruciating, and prolonged death ever put on the screen at the hands of the blood-sucking beast.  The spider encases her in a web case and slowly sucks the blood out of her over a couple of days.
The robbery is successful, the next day, but the getaway is bumpy.  The gang hires a ski guide named Gil (Michael Forest, who is still acting at the age of 85) to take him to his cabin where they will wait for a plane to bring them, and the gold, to Canada.  Uh-oh!  Gil and Alex's main-squeeze fall in love.  The pipe-smoking Gil seems a better match, as Alex is old enough to be her grandfather.  On their trail, not the police, but the blood-sucking spider carrying the webbed sack with the half-alive Playmate (her mind now gone).  As the spider starts capturing gang members, Gypsy and Gil fall further in love.
Will Gill and Gypsy escape the hungry spider?  Will Frank Sinatra's cousin be spared a fate worse than death?  Will Alex find a woman his own age, or be sucked dry by the beast?  All these questions and more are answered in this flawed but nightmarish monster movie.  Sheila Noonan may not be an Eva Marie-Saint, but the acting in this film isn't bad.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Motor Home Massacre, For Fans of the Hooters Swimsuit Calender

As the New Year approaches, you all are probably asking the same question.  What was Breanne Ashley doing in between her being crowned Hooters International Swimsuit winner in 2004 and 2007?  The answer is today's B movie selection, 2005's "Motor Home Massacre."  One of the strongest assets of this movie is that it stars Ms. Ashley, and several similarly gifted actresses.  Filmed entirely in Georgia, this film is a throwback to the slasher film of the 1980s.
The plot:  As the movie begins, two annoying, pot-smoking campers are butchered by an unseen maniac, in very imaginative fashion.  Fast-forward to the next day as seven campers board a 1975 motor home to go camping.  One of the campers, Sabrina (Shan Holleman) is on the rebound after being dumped by her boyfriend, Tom.  We meet Tom in flashbacks and he looks like a mug-shot.  Brooke (Breanne Ashley) convinces her to go along in order to distract her from her painful memories of Tom.  Sabrina is trying, she is even reading the critically acclaimed "Men Are From Uranus" on the way to the campground (...is that really a book?).  On the way to the campground, they stop for gas and meet the red-neck gas station employee.  He gives them a cryptic warning of the carnage that befell that site ("trouble of the dead people kind").  In another ominous moment, Sabrina then asks Brooke, "..don't you have that weird feeling, like we're all gonna be cut up into little pieces?" Then the red-neck explains the crime scene looked as though a "red-sauce burrito exploded in the microwave."  As they arrive at the campsite, a weird park ranger also warns them of trouble.  Ignoring these types of warnings is a staple in these 1980s-type slasher films.

As our campers build a campfire, Nicole wanders in.  Nicole just dumped her abusive, ex-military boyfriend.  Her and Sabrina are able to connect, and Nicole asks her, about Tom, "have you ever thought about killing him?"  Nicole obviously has not read "Men Are From Uranus."  Then the killings start.  At first, the menacing red-necks, then the campers themselves.  The killer appears as a night-visioned goggled, machete wielding nut-case.  The fight is on!  Can Sabrina put her heart-ache aside long enough to do battle against this maniac?  Will our Hooters girl be cut to pieces, or emerge as a heroine?  Will the nerdy owner of the RV end up with Sabrina?

This is a guys movie, all the way.  Fans of 1980s horror will recognize all the plot twists and figure out who the killer is.  Still.....this is lots of fun.  Over the past two weeks you have been watching "It's A Wonderful Life," "MIracle on 34th Street." "Frosty The Snowman," and "Rudolph."  You guys need a movie like this!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Snow Devils, Campy Italian Sci-Fi

Yetis, aliens, and asteroids....oh, my!  Throw in a space station, square-jawed heroes, a couple of space-babes, some bad dubbing, and we have 1967's "The Snow Devils."  This Italian science fiction movie is actually suitable for the whole family, unlike most of the flicks on this blog.  The makers of this film only used sets of exotic places, which make this picture a very pleasurable viewing experience.

The plot:  As the film begins, a Himalayan weather station (pictured below) is beset by a mysterious attack which kills it's entire crew except for the commanding officer, Lt. Jim Harris.  Commander Jackson (Jack Stuart) and his partner, Captain Pulaski are sent there to investigate the attack and find the missing Lt. Harris.  Once at the base of a Himalayan mountain, they hire some insane sherpas to guide them up the peak.  Halfway up the mountain, Jackson discovers that one of the sherpas is actually Lt. Harris' fiance, in disguise.  She is determined to find the love of her life, no matter the danger.  This is actually a fortunate turn of events for Jackson, as up 'til now he had been sharing his tent and sleeping bag with Pulaski.  He kicks Pulaski out of his tent and shares it, and his affections with Lt. Harris' fiance (Amber Collins).  In Italian sci-fi the word commitment is very relative.  The crew finds a cave and explores.  While exploring, a race of Yetis (green fur, seven feet tall, and moody) captures them.

Once captured, they are thrown into a jail cell with the unobservant Lt. Harris.  How awkward for Jackson and his new sleeping-bag mate.  Harris and his fiance do get back together and Jackson notices a huge air vent about two feet above Harris' cot.  One wonders why Harris never noticed it.  The air vent leads to every room in the cave, and the prisoners are able to mount an attack and kill all the Yetis, which end up being an alien race.  They discover that the aliens are manipulating Earth's weather to melt the ice-caps and flood the population centers.

After the rescue, Jackson and Pulaski are summoned to the space station.  This is fortunate for Jackson, as his real main-squeeze, the shapely Lt. Teri Sanchez (Halina Zalewska) is stationed there, and she is waiting for him with an alcoholic beverage.  Apparently, the alien yeti race is staging on one of Jupiter's moons, preparing for an all out attack on Earth.  Jackson and Pulaski will lead a Jovian mission in order to wipe out these green yetis.  Will Jackson's attack mission succeed?  Are the yetis waiting for him with some secret weapons?  Will Lt. Sanchez get to have a drink with Jackson?  All these questions are answered to our satisfaction, of course.  Fortunately we do get to see an epic (...well maybe not too epic) space battle.

If you long for those late night movies which you used to watch on UHF in the 1970s, this is a movie for you. Fun and visually appealing, as it is also.....In Color!  If Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" lost you after the first hour, try "The Snow Devils."


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cat-Women of the Moon, Too Smart to Fall in Love With

As this holiday season progresses, all of us are looking for the perfect DVD companion to Zsa Zsa Gabor's "Queen of Outer Space."  Search no more, as today's blog entry for 1953's "Cat-Women of the Moon" (in 3D) is your answer.  Nothing says "Happy Holidays" like 1950 type science fiction.

The plot:  As we join Moon Rocket 4, it's crew is awakening.  The four male astronauts, all equipped with one-syllable names (Kip, Walt, Laird, and Doug) are joined by Helen (every woman in this film have two-syllable names), the navigator (who is in love with Kip and Laird).  The men quickly get to work on space-ship stuff, while Helen, played by Marie Windsor (Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy and Salem's Lot)  fixes her make-up.  Helen, under some sort of possession by the queen of the cat-women, navigates the ship to a valley on the dark-side of the moon.  There, as the five explore, they find a cave with breathable air and giant tarantula-type beasts.  Helen screams a lot, and the one-syllabled crew kills the spiders.  Helen then leads them to an ancient city where they are captured by the love-starved maidens who have never seen men before.  Alpha (the leader) reveals that she plans to steal the ship, fly some of the cat-women to Earth to possess Earth-women, and then take over.  Alpha is played by Carol Brewster (Untamed Women and A Virgin in Hollywood).  All of the cat-women are beautiful and wear tight-black leotards....so a takeover doesn't seem so horrible to us, the audience.

Alpha's plan seems like a sure thing.  But wait!  Some of the cat-women start falling in love with the men, causing dissension in their ranks.  Will true-love save mankind?  Will Helen ever decide between Kip and Laird?  Will we see a civil-war type cat-fight develop among our love-starved maidens?  All these questions will be answered in this 64 minute epic.

This movie is filled with some great one-liners.  For example, Walt confesses to a love-starved maiden, "You're too smart for me, baby.  I like 'em stupid."  The asteroids come at us in 3D.  If you have no patience for the dopey "The Polar Express," see "Cat-Women of the Moon."

Friday, December 20, 2013

Matango: Attack Of The Mushroom People, Gilligan's Island on Hallucinogens

A yacht on a day trip encounters a freak storm which almost capsizes them.  The wounded boat makes it to an uncharted island.  The skipper, his trusted first-mate, a writer, a professor, the wealthy yacht owner, a glamorous singer, and a nice looking female college student must forage the island to survive and hopefully repair the yacht.  Sound familiar?  You are wrong!  A few years before "Gilligan's Island" was released, "Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People" (1963) horrified Japanese audiences.  I remember seeing this movie on Creature Feature on Channel 56 in Boston in the early 1970s, and it terrified me.
The rest of the plot:  Our castaways find apparent shelter on a wrecked vessel that apparently was involved in nuclear testing in the waters surrounding this mysterious island.  The entire island and this wreck are covered with a mysterious fungus that permeates everything.  No sign of the crew...of course.  The only food available are the numerous mushrooms which grow everywhere.  When crew members of this wreck come back to visit the new castaways, they are hardly human.  Eating the mushrooms turned them into humanoid mushroom people.  Our castaways must battle these monsters, their own starvation, and each other to survive.  Who will survive?  I won't ruin the ending, but it is a creepy one.
The acting is good, and the dubbing is not bad.  This movie never had an American release, so UHF channels were the only place to see it.  Today the DVD is available, and the quality is terrific.  The fungi-creepiness is in spectacular color.  The movie is very well shot, and the suspense is maximized.  I will never forget the scene when a mushroom person pays a visit to the newly occupied wreck, and we the viewer watch the door-knob slowly turn, knowing a horrible sight is just on the other side.
The sets deserve some sort of award.  The fungi-infested island and wrecked vessel are some of the creepiest (there's that word again) sets ever put on film.  If the mad-cap comedy of "Gilligan's Island" only serves to annoy you, catch "Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Reptilicus, All Copenhagen is Dancing

In between discovering Dustin Hoffman and making over 50 3-D movies, Sidney Pink made the most famous movie ever to come out of Denmark.  1962's "Reptilicus" is an epic monster movie which utilizes the Army, Navy, and Air Force of Denmark as well as 900,000 Danish extras.  In addition to delivering shocking horror, "Reptilicus" also delivers a significant tourism ad for Copenhagen and a wonderful solo of the hit song "Tivoli Nights."
The plot: Miners in The Laplands discover a dinosaur tail and send it to the Copenhagen Aquarium.  Here, we meet the old scientist, Dr. Martens, and his two beautiful daughters, Lisa and Karen (Ann Smyrner and Mimi Heinrich).  Their looks are a great addition to the film even though they spend much of the movie competing for the same men.  Oh those Danes!  Martens discovers the tail is alive and regenerating so the U.N. sends American General Mark Grayson.  General Grayson is all business and all grouch until American scientist, Connie Miller (Marlies Behrens) arrives.  She is beautiful and General Grayson loosens up and the two go on an epic date through Copenhagen.
The tail grows into a 90 foot, acid-spewing monster which then eats it's way through the Danish military and Copenhagen's population.  The incompetent General Grayson continually sends the troops into Reptilicus' buffet line, and we get some great shots of the three buxom actresses looking really concerned.  Despite getting some sage advice from the scientists, like bombing Reptilicus into 1000 pieces will lead to 1000 Reptilicus', the General keeps behaving stupidly.  Fortunately our grouchy general, who yells in the war room a lot, is joined by the tight-skirted actresses (their exact role in the war room is uncertain).
Will Denmark survive?  Who will ultimately end up with the doctor's daughters?  Will Connie Miller ditch the grouchy General Grayson?  This movie is B movie Hall of Fame material.  The cheesy special effects, great looking Danish actresses, epic war scenes, and a terrific monster create a must-see extravaganza.  You will enjoy this film much more than the over-rated horror flick "Rosemary's Baby."  Oh yes, an extra treat...this movie is .....In Color!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Horrors of Spider Island, Norman Vincent Peale's Favorite Movie

In 1955, Norman Vincent Peale wrote "The Power of Positive Thinking."  Yugoslavians were so inspired by this work, that they made "Horrors of Spider Island" in 1960.  This film, which contains blood-curdling, hair-raising, and spine-chilling horror (as noted on the DVD case) never deviates from the teachings of the Reverend Peale's book.  Is this a good movie?  A better question would be, is this a movie you will enjoy?  Yes it is!
The plot:  Gary, a talent scout in NYC, needs 12 beautiful dancers for a show in Singapore.  As the movie opens, him and his beautiful secretary (Georgia) are auditioning and interviewing them.  Brains and cheerfulness are put aside for beautiful legs.  Soon afterward, they are all on a DC-3 on the way to Singapore.  The next scene has the plane turn into a fireball and plunging straight down into the Pacific.  As it hits the water a huge explosion ensues.  What a miracle, all survive without a scratch and use a life raft to make it to a seemingly abandoned island.
Gary's partner in NYC must console relatives of the beauties.  Fortunately, this fellow has read Reverend Peale's book and tells them, "There is absolutely no reason to fear the worst, all we know is the plane caught fire and we lost radio contact."  One can imagine how consoled the relatives were to hear this.  The girls are lucky, as Gary turns out to be a genius.  On the island, he finds a long-handled hammer and tells them it must be used for excavating uranium.  Of course, what else would this tool be used for?  Then the team finds a shack, but to their horror it's resident is a corpse hung in a huge spider web.  The girls, all positive thinkers, put their horror aside and they occupy it.
The genius then goes out to explore.  Unfortunately a spider the size of a German Shepherd attacks him, turning Gary into a half-man/ half-spider creature who subsequently picks off the beauties.  When Linda's body is discovered, instead of mourning, the dancers use positive-thinking and seize the opportunity to go skinny-dipping.  As each act of horror occurs we are treated to cat-fights that include hair-pulling, and the ripping off of clothes.  These bouts usually end with semi-nude sun-bathing.
Which of the girls will survive and make it off the island?  Will the former Gary and the giant spiders eat them all?  In Singapore, will the show go on?  The dubbing is bad, and so is the acting.  Perfect for a B movie.  You will enjoy this one way more than any Cate Blanchett film.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Amphibious Creature Of The Deep, Netherlands and Indonesia Tag Team for This Horror

I am a softy for good sea monster flicks.  Originally shot in 3D (Yes!!!) and titled "Amphibious 3D," "Amphibious Creature of the Deep" takes a horrifying insect (scorpion) and casts it as a sea beast.  This 2010 movie delivers one of the creepiest final acts you will ever see.  Adding to the creepiness are the plights of two of the protagonists, which we will discuss soon.
The plot:  Set largely in the open ocean near Indonesia. smugglers have set up a fishing platform.  These smugglers are really evil and use child-slave labor to do much of the dangerous grunt work.  Tamal is one such child laborer who was sold to the smugglers by his uncle.  Enter Skylar Shane (I love that name) played by the Dutch actress Janna Fassaert.  What would a sci-fi sea monster movie be without a beautiful marine biologist?  Haunted by the death of her daughter, she heads to the Sumatran Sea to find prehistoric life forms (we all mourn differently, so please do not judge).  She hires a shady boat captain, played by Michael Pare, who can't seem to navigate around this smugglers' platform despite the millions of square miles in this ocean.
War develops as the smugglers don't take kindly to Skylar's desire to remove Tamal from their evil clutches.  Skylar would seem no match for these brutes, but for the fact Tamal has some weird psychic connection to a scorpion beast dwelling under the platform.  This beast starts picking off smugglers in gory fury.  Uh oh!  Tamal and the creature seem to be mind melding (kinda like something Mr. Spock would do).  Is the creature becoming Tamal, or is Tamal becoming the creature?  I won't give away the end, but it is nightmarish, and could keep you awake at night.
This movie could have been a lot less and still satisfying.  The decision to focus on the haunting plights of the two main characters and not sacrifice creature scenes, was done brilliantly.  Janna Fassaert is terrific as a beautiful, sad, idealistic, and ambitious soul wrestling with the horrible memories of losing her daughter.  Michael Pare, as the boat captain, is terrific.  The creature is scary.  The gore is plentiful.  What is there not to like?
Good sea monster movies are hard to find of late.  I would put this one just ahead of "Pacific Rim" on my ratings scale.  In a movie which most will see on DVD, one has to give lots of credit to the makers for delivering a deep and creepy film.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Flesh Feast, Whatever Happened To Veronica Lake?

Veronica Lake  is on my top 10 favorite actress list.  With glamorous roles in "This Gun For Hire," "The Glass Key," "The Blue Dahlia," and so many more, Lake was the epitome of Hollywood glamour in the 1940s and 50s.  This fame did not follow her into the 1960s, as it did Lana Turner.  Then in the 1970s, she was a distant memory.  Alcoholism and bad decisions felled her all too early.  Usually it fells most Americans in college, so one must credit Veronica Lake.

Anyone who possesses affection for Veronica Lake will find 1970's "Flesh Feast" hard to watch.  Unlike the TV made "Ants!" of 1977 in which an elderly Myrna Loy plays her role with class and dignity (even though it was opposite Suzanne Somers), Lake's portrayal of a mad scientist is crude and loud.  The plot:  Hispanic neo-Nazis collaborate with survivors of the Third Reich on a fiendish plot.  An investigative reporter is on to them and follows them through Miami to figure out what they have planned.  The Nazis are converging on a pseudo lab/hospital run by Dr. Elaine Frederick (Lake).  Enter a beautiful private-eye who goes undercover as a nurse and gets hired to work in this lab.

Once undercover, this nurse finds out that something diabolical is going on behind a locked door of the lab.  Other beautiful nurses who happen on segments of this secret are murdered by our Nazi friends.  What is the big secret?  Dr. Frederick is working on a procedure to reverse the aging process.  Too bad Oil of Olay has not been invented yet, because this procedure entails maggots eating the skin of old farts.  All indications are that Dr. Frederick is cooperating with the Nazis for some horrible project, but what?

Veronica Lake as a mad scientist?  Many critics use this film as an answer to the question, how far have they fallen?  Rita Hayworth, at about this time, was dragged off an airplane before take-off for ranting and raving in total nonsense (perhaps dementia).  In defense of Lake, she was playing a mad scientist collaborating with Nazis.  A close look into her eyes and one can see vestiges of the Veronica Lake that wore slinky gowns and crooned nightclub ballads......perhaps this is the sad part.

This movie is ten times better than Kevin Costner's "The Postman," and "Waterworld."  In 2013, the name Veronica Lake still conjures up glamorous images.  I am confident that today's so-called starlets, such as Megan Fox or Angelina Jolie, 40 years after their demise, they will be remembered as pathetic jokes.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

BloodRayne, Half Human, Half Vampire, All Fun

Lara Croft Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, and now three BloodRayne movies prove that video games transition well to the silver-screen.  Many artsy-fartsy movie sites poo-poo the work of Uwe Boll (who directed 2005's BloodRayne), but when I see his name attached to a work, I'm definitely going to watch and enjoy.  Say what you want about this movie, but I guarantee you that it is 100 times better than that Twilight garbage.  The cast is also first class, including the stunning  Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3), Ben Kingsley (Gandhi), Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs), Michelle Rodriguez (Resident Evil), Geraldine Chaplin, Meat Loaf (as an orgy obsessed vampire), Udo Kier, Matthew Davis, and Michael Pare (who appears in all three BloodRayne movies).

The plot:  Kingsley plays Kagan, the most powerful vampire in the land.  Many years ago he raped and killed a woman who bore his child.  The child, Rayne (played by Loken) is half vampire, half human.  Rayne has grown into a beautiful but maniacal carnival act.  After nightly humiliation at this carnival, she succeeds in a bloody escape.  She is hunted down by Kagan's henchmen, as Kagan realizes what a threat she is to him.  She is also tracked by Vladimir (Madsen) and his people who realize she could lead him to Kagan.  Madsen leads a vampire-killing clan.  Rayne, in her attempt to track down and kill Kagan, finds out that Kagan desires an artifact which will give him supreme power. She steals this artifact, and now Kagan really needs to get his fangs on her.  Vladimir and his people catch up to Rayne and they form an uneasy alliance in order to rid the land of Kagan.

The adventures along the way are bloody and most violent.  Loken, as Rayne, looks really good with a sword and leather wardrobe.  Her transition from lunatic circus act to determined huntress is compelling.  Throw in romance and betrayal and a gory final conflict and you will never again be tempted to watch a movie with twinkling vampires.  A+ for Uwe Boll, Loken, and the rest of the cast.  Do not believe the bad reviews of this film.  It is exciting and interesting.  See the unrated director's cut.

Note:  The next two BloodRayne movies are also good ones.  I will get to them eventually on this blog.  They star Natassia Malthe (Vampire Wars) as a very erotic, but deadly Rayne.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wonder Women, Brain Sex in Manila

Wonder Women (No! Not the Lynda Carter TV show) is B movie Hall of Fame material.  Action, chases, gunfights, an all women bikini and go-go boot clad army, a beautiful super-villain, and exotic locations assure that the viewer will have a most pleasant experience.  The all-star cast includes Nancy Kwan (The Wrecking Crew and Hawaii 5-0) as the evil Dr. Tsu, Maria DeAragon (Star Wars and The Cremators) as Linda (a very capable soldier), and a young Sid Haig as Dr. Tsu's agent.  Let us get to it!
The plot:  Like many classic movies this holiday season, this one begins with a nude synchronized swimmer performing an underwater routine.  When she surfaces, several bikini and go-go boot clad soldiers abduct her.  This same unit then also abducts an equestrian athlete, a basketball player, and a jai alai player.  These athletes are brought to a mysterious island, about 200 yards from Manila Bay (you'd think someone would've noticed it).  This is where Dr. Tsu then harvests their organs and sells them to really rich folks who want youthful bodies.  Unfortunately for her, the jai alai player is insured for half a million dollars and the insurance company wants him back instead of paying on the policy.  Enter Mike Harber, super agent.  He, contracted by the insurers, flies to Manila to find him.
Harber hits the streets of Manila and asks a lot of questions.  A local crime lord, Won Ton Charlie, puts him on to another snitch who tells him about the Island of 1000 Women.  After Charlie's men fail to kill Harber, Dr. Tsu sends the voluptuous Linda (DeAragon played a creature in the bar scene in Star Wars) to kill him.  Linda arrives in Manila, seduces Harber, and misses with a gunshot.  A pillow fight ensues and then Harber chases Linda through the streets of Manila.  This chase scene tops the one Gene Hackman had through NYC in The French Connection.When Harber finally catches Linda, he forces her to bring her to the aforementioned island.  There he is captured and meets Dr. Tsu.  In addition to learning about the evil doctor's ring, he also is introduced to brain sex.  In this form of intimate relations, which Dr. Tsu and Harber engage in, no physical touching occurs but 1,000 erotic sources of the brain are tapped.  As Dr. Tsu puts it, "brain sex eliminates emotional disorders" caused by conventional sex.
Will Dr. Tsu and Harber fall in love?  Will he rescue the jai alai player?  Will Linda get jealous of Harber's new relationship with the evil doctor?  These questions and more are answered after dramatic battle scenes which include mutants (failed experiments) that escape from Dr. Tsu's dungeon.  This movie is 100% campy and 100% enjoyable.  For exotic adventure, it beats Marlon Brando's Last Tango In Paris.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Stateline Motel, Ursula Andress and Barbara Bach Restless in Quebec

"Very restless, and very imaginative", is how Michelle's (Ursula Andress) husband describes her to the handsome but stupid jewel thief.  Mentally challenged would also be an applicable descriptor.  1973's Stateline Motel is another Ursula Andress (Loaded Guns, The 10th Victim) classic.  This movie could not fail (at least on this blog).  Car chases. murder, a jewel heist, Andress and Barbara Bach, betrayal, bad dubbing, and infidelity all add to great B movie drama.
The plot:  Eli Wallach and Fabio Testi (a name that oozes potency) pull off a jewelry store robbery in Montreal. Joe (Wallach) shoots a customer in the back during the robbery (the poor sap deserved it as he tried to escape, leaving his girl friend in the store).  Floyd's (Testi) masterful driving eludes the police and the two ditch the getaway car.  They agree to separate (don't ask why) and meet in Vermont the next day.  Floyd then heads to the border but gets sidetracked by the song playing on the car radio and runs into a snow bank (idiot).  He finds refuge at a nearby hotel run by Michelle's husband.  Next door to the hotel is the incompetent mechanic, and part time demolition expert, who suspects Floyd of the robbery and is tasked with fixing Floyd's car.
Floyd instantly falls in love with Michelle, though he probably should have held out for Barbara Bach.  Bach plays a hotel employee who figures out everything that is going on and is dating a local cop.  How does Michelle instantly capture Floyd's affection?  Parading around in lingerie?  No.  Speaking softly in Italian to him?  No.  She sits dumbfounded in front of the TV captivated by cartoons wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt, and playing with a Raggedy Ann.  He even believes her line about being an exiled European princess.
The plot thickens:  When Floyd is not able to make it to Vermont to meet Joe, Joe believes Floyd is absconding with the jewels.  Joe then heads to the Stateline Motel.  At Michelle's urging, Floyd eventually chooses this path, as Michelle begs him to take her with him.  Then, the biggest plot twist, someone steals the jewels from Floyd's hotel room (the dolt hid them under the mattress). All the while, Barbara Bach is in the background, looking really sweet, and smarter than Floyd and Michelle times ten.
With Joe and the cops closing in, Michelle and Floyd need to getaway fast.  Will they, or are they two doomed lovers?  See this movie!  Andress and Bach play to the camera very well.  Bad dubbing aside, this is a B movie classic.  Ursula Andress' Michelle blows away  Jessica Lange's character in the remake of "The Postman Always Rings Twice."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cypher, Trust Only Lucy Liu

This is one of those trust no one movies.  Morgan Sullivan (Jeremy Northam) is an IT geek who enters a stage in his life where trusting someone could get him deleted.  He is an apparent loser.  His dominant wife treats him like a housekeeper, and has plans for him to get a menial IT job with her dad's corporation.  Sullivan would rather sail the South Pacific (...not that he is in any position to).  He is nerdy, drinks ginger ale, reads, and never dares to talk back to his type-A wife.
As the movie begins, our nerd has stepped out of his comfort zone.  He has just earned a job with a mysterious corporation.  His new job will have him be a corporate spy.  His new employer fixes him up with a phony identity.  The last question asked of him before being hired, "Will you have difficulty lying to your wife?"  With a wry smile, he says no.  He is then sent on a host of business trips to spy on corporations at conferences and he gets to lie to his wife about his whereabouts.
Too good to be true!  During one of these conferences, an apparent convention prostitute catches his eye.  He attempts to rendezvous with her, but our whore is not who she seems to be.  With a couple of henchmen with her, Lucy Liu turns the tables on him. She tells him what his new employer has in store for him, and proves to him that he is also being drugged and brainwashed.  Then the roller coaster begins.
Lucy Liu plays Rita Foster, the femme fatale.  Can she be trusted?  We can see that Morgan Sullivan is pulled in by her beauty, and nothing else.  She wears tight outfits, is very acrobatic, and has an air of mystery about her (the perfect antithesis of his wife).  Will she lead Sullivan to salvation or ruination?  As Sullivan grows more and more into his new identity, one thing is certain, he will never go back.
This 2002 flick works in so many ways.  As our protagonist is manipulated, so are we the viewer.  We pull for Sullivan, as he is such an underdog.  For those like me, if you found Kevin Costner's "No Way Out" a disappointment, the plot-twist filled "Cypher" is the movie for you. This film is now available on Netflix.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Inhuman Resources, Revenge Of The Regional Manager

Those stuck in cubicles from nine to five will look at today's entry as a metaphor for their daily grind.  What could be more terrifying than the prospect of being chained to that desk for the rest of one's life?  Enter Inhuman Resources (2012), presented by Fangoria magazine.  In making a horror movie why tap the haunted house theme, when the office is the source of more nightmares? 

The plot:  An escaped convicted killer, who was subject to brain experiments at an asylum, kidnaps six seemingly random people and chains them to desks in some mysterious office.  Can you believe that this plot has not been used before?  A+ to the writers (Jonathan Green and Anthony O'Connor) for exploiting this horror.  These poor saps are then introduced to their new "boss" Thomas Reddman aka Redd (Nicholas Hope).  Now these unfortunate souls begin to make sense out of this predicament.  All six captives were involved in the trial that convicted Redd of the gruesome office murder of a corporate executive.  Redd gives them all computers and documents and assigns them menial tasks in order for them to clear his name. 

Redd's motivational and disciplinary styles may seem similar to the ones our bosses exact on us.  When a worker falls down on the job, Redd applies a gruesome tortuous consequence to them, usually with a big blade.  Unfortunately for Redd, one of our saps fights back.  Kelly Paterniti as Annabelle is an unfortunate loser doomed to clerical jobs her whole life.  She supplements her income as a voice on a sex/fantasy phone line.  To thicken the plot, Annabelle must outsmart Redd and the real killer, who is also chained to a desk.

Redd is a frightening figure, but delivers some great lines, such as, "I am not a murderer, I am a Regional Manager."  Annabelle is a sad figure who grows into a powerful figure when faced with horror.  One wonders what lights the fire under her, the prospect of being tortured to death by Redd, or the prospect of being a clerical worker her whole life (maybe to Annabelle, those two fates are the same).

This is a very gory movie and includes a great menacing score (Nelli Scarlet's "Dirty Pretty Lies").  The viewer sympathizes for and fears Redd at the same time.  Annabelle's transition from loser to hero is one that will have you cheering. For office drama, avoid that overrated sitcom and put this one into your DVD player.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lady Frankenstein, Nymphomaniac Achieves Scientific Breakthrough

Today's B movie heroine, if armed with a gun, has a special place reserved in our hearts.  Empowering, sexy, independent, strong, and determined are traits that are indeed noble.  Unlike the whiny idiot which Meryl Streep portrayed in Silkwood, the B movie heroine is someone we actually want to see in the movies we watch.  In the 1800s, guns did not so much embody these traits, rather the ability to perform complicated brain transplants and demonstrate sexual independence at the same time set apart our female heroines.  Hence, 1971's Lady Frankenstein, in which Sara Bay (aka Rosalba Neri) is the Baroness, delivers a portrayal that will have all men drooling.
The plot:  Baron Frankenstein, played by Joseph Cotten (Baron Blood, Citizen Kane), is in the midst of creating life.  His beautiful daughter chooses this time to visit.  The Baron deeply wants to keep his daughter away from his experiments, but what young lady can stay away from playing God?  She sneaks into his lab and reads his notes thus angering her dad.  The Baron and his assistant, Dr. Marshall, manage to complete the experiment while she is sleeping.  The good news is that the Baron created life out of dead body parts.  The bad news is that his creation squeezes him to death, escapes from the lab and kills a bunch of naked Italians and other beautiful women.  Small sacrifice, perhaps, but the village authorities see it differently and attempt to track down this fiend.
No time for mourning!  The Baroness realizes that she can pursue two interests at once.  Creating a better monster, by using the brain of Dr. Marshall (who is aging too fast for the Baroness' liking) and the body of a retarded servant who she enjoys carnal relations with.  It is unclear if this servant also enjoys these relations.  The Baroness wants her cake and wants to eat it too.  Seducing the retarded, however rewarding that may be to her, certainly pales in comparison to seducing the retarded when equipped with the brain of a doctor.
As the village authorities close in on her castle, she completes the experiment.  Unfortunately for her, the original creation is also closing in on her, and he is not happy.  Will the two creations now meet?  Will this spell peril for the Baroness? Yes.  Finally, the most powerful and extraordinary endings you will ever see.  I won't give it away, however you will see the Baroness' brilliance and nymphomania meet in a fiery conclusion.
Lady Frankenstein is an Italian horror film equipped with great sets including the village, the castle, and the obligatory graveyard.  It has the feel of a Hammer film, and the beautiful Sara Bay is captivating in the title role.  The acting is appropriately over the top, and perfect for this story.  When the credits role, you will tell yourself  "I don't bleeping believe what I just saw."


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Crawling Eye, The Inspiration For F Troop

I think we all share a similar plight, over the past few years we have yearned for more Forrest Tucker movies on television.  While waiting for the complete F Troop series to come to Blu Ray, I highly recommend the 1958 classic B movie, The Crawling Eye (aka The Trollenberg Terror).  If you have ever endured George Clooney in Solaris, anything with Forrest Tucker would be a welcomed respite.

The plot:  Ah, so familiar to all of us!  Everyone of us can so relate to how this movie begins.  We all have our stories of touring Switzerland by train and sharing our cabin with two women who comprise a touring psychic act.  Alan Brooks (Tucker) is an American scientist voyaging to the Trollenberg Mountain to study increased radiation levels.  The sisters are forced to depart the train at Trollenberg when the younger one has some mysterious psychic reaction when the Trollenberg Mountain becomes visible.  A radioactive cloud has descended on the mountain and climbers, venturing into the cloud are subsequently decapitated.  In a classic scene, something (which ends up being a giant tentacled eye) decapitates a mountaineer and casts him off the mountain.  As the headless body is falling, it is screaming "Ahhhhhhhh!!!."
As Brooks shares notes with Swiss scientists, the cloud expands.  The cloud brings these giant tentacled eye creatures with it, and cuts Trollenberg off from the rest of Switzerland.  As the creatures attack the inn in which our characters are staying, they flee it to the only safe place, a weather station bunker up the mountain.  Will the three-foot concrete walls keep the creatures out? No.  Our team needs to find a way to quickly defeat the horde of eye creatures before they get into the bunker.

I have it from a reliable source that Shania Twain made up her mind to move to Switzerland after she saw this movie.  This is classic 1950s sci-fi.  The eye creatures are creepy, and the scenery is beautiful even though it was filmed in a London studio.  Forrest Tucker is perfect as the tall, square jawed hero.  If Stanley Kubrick's, Barry Lyndon, did not excite you, see The Crawling Eye.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Flesh Eaters, Castaways Vs. Nazi Scientist and Hungry Microbes

For beach horror, nothing says shocking terror like......the Long Island Sound.  Perhaps in a big budget movie location filming might converge on Hawaii or the Bahamas.  A B movie, however, opens up the coast line of the northeast United States.  The Horror Of Party Beach was shot in Connecticut, and today's selection, The Flesh Eaters, from 1964, was filmed at Montauk Point on Long Island.  This movie also develops the B movie fan's appreciation for competitive figure skating.
Great plot.  Four losers, escaping their recent pasts, board a small plane piloted by a handsome schmuck (who doesn't know how to fly).  You guessed it, he crashes the plane near an uncharted island.  The only inhabitants are an escaped Nazi scientist and his henchman.  The castaways include a failed and over the hill actress (microbe bait), her clean cut beautiful assistant, and a beatnik.   There is something in the water!  It eats flesh rapidly, and some of the castaways undergo a pretty gory death.  Whatever is eating them, it is a pretty sure bet that the Nazi has created it in a makeshift lab.  Unfortunately for our castaways, the toothy microbes are not the final end of this diabolical experiment, as we soon meet the mom of the microbes.  Can the pilot grow a brain and find escape for him and his new girlfriend (the actress's assistant)?
Now lets chat about U.S. figure skating Olympian, Barbara Wilson (pictured at top).  She is in one scene, but an unforgettable scene I assure you.  She looks great as a bikini model who takes a dip into the ocean.  Then...her skeleton looks really good, clad in the same bikini.  Wilson's figure skating prowess is shown in more detail in the 1959 classic shot in Sweden, Terror In The Midnight Sun.  Unusual for 1959, our figure skating star had a complete nude scene in this movie in which she battles an ape-like alien.
The gore in The Flesh Eaters is surprisingly good for 1964 and the big flesh eater which appears near the end is menacing.  The performances are wooden, but better than any Megan Fox performance.  On a very low budget the makers of this film had no difficulty delivering the scares.  A must see for you figure skating fans, or at least if you like to see bikini clad figure skaters eaten by microbes.