28 December 2007

Mardi Gras Massacre

United States - 1978
Director – Jack Weis
VCII Incorporated, 1983, VHS

This video starts of with a reel of trailers of other films offered by the video distribution company, VCII. Maybe I should say excerpts, because they’re just a minute or two grabbed from each film, and they’re terrible looking films. That does not bode well for Mardi Gras Massacre.
Wasting no time though, MGM gets right down to business, a painful disco soundtrack accompanying every wooden actor from the very first person to step on screen. One of the first is a slightly insane looking type in a lawyer suit who asks two whores sitting at the bar to set him up with “the most,…evil” girl in the bar. No sooner said than done, Shirley boldly verifies her status as a surefire “first place in any evil contest.” Taking her home, the guy commands her to strip while he changes in the next room, emerging moments later in nothing but a short woolen poncho and gold mask. After tying her down and rubbing her with oil, making sure to pay particular attention to her chest glands, he slashes her hand and foot, and then while she’s alive, guts her like a fish, removing her heart which he does something or other with. I’m not the first person who realized that this movie is pretty much a more graphic take on Herschel Gordon Lewis’s 1963 gore film Blood Feast, with all the benefit of 15 years cultural debasement.
In Mardi Gras Massacre the primary differences are few, but fundamental. First, while it’s still minimally budgeted, the gore is thankfully more graphic, as is the nudity. Which, while I’m at it is half the point of this movie, you’ll see what I mean. Second, our killer is an Aztec priest (instead of Egyptian, fine, it doesn’t make much difference). And lastly a catchy disco soundtrack which invades the lungs of every single scene with mechanical, textbook precision until it chokes the very air.
After giving the same treatment to a second “…evil” hooker, the cops get interested and while questioning another hooker, the homicide detective falls in love, a crudely ham-hand executed sideplot which will only have brief insignificant relevance in the last scene.
Finally, after doing in a third bonafide “…evil” prostitute in the exact same manner, but thankfully with a fresh custom molded rubber prosti-torso, the guy’s ready for his big ritual, three women at once, on Mardi Gras. Sounds like an opportunity to quickly end the movie at a climactic moment. Three torso’s and six naked girls was all we could afford. Damn if it ain’ genuine hard boiled drecksploitation.

24 December 2007


United States - 1978
Director – Robert W. Morgan
Vidmark Entertainment, 1985, VHS

This looks like one of those local visionary films. Some fellow saw some original low budget horror films and figured, with funding he could assemble those ideas into his own locally made low budgeter. And it does have potential, with each of those good ideas couched in irritating droning stupidity, and swimming in a thin broth of failure. The entire plot is revealed in boring detail on the back cover of this video and worded in such a dry way as to force you to recoil in instant yawns.

Two couples are headed down to a cabin in the everglades for a week of relaxation when they stop at a gas station for directions and are menaced by a sinister but goofy looking old man and his warnings of “Bloodstalkers”. Nevertheless, they continue on, filling each available breath with veritable verbal diarrhea until they arrive at the cabin. After a bunch more grating oral defecation, Mike and his wife Kim opt for a little skinny dippin’ in the pond, and it looks like this might get tolerable for a minute when Jeri, the other woman gets excited about taking her clothes off. But no, her sweaty revolting lounge-act boyfriend Daniel would rather discuss domestic affairs while Mike and Kim go swimming in the blue filtered hard shadows of really bad day-for-night shots.
Frightened by noises and something in the water, Mike and Kim return to the cabin where Dan and Jeri are talking, with less clothes on, a mixed blessing, but at least a change. At last, something starts to happen. Sudden beating on the walls of the cabin freaks everyone out, but Mike fires his tiny .22 pistol which temporarily stops the terror but also signals the end of any further possibility of skin.
Valiantly leaving the cabin to seek help, Mike enters a world of darkness and much of his actions are a mystery because I can’t see a goddamned thing. After Running into a Baptist church where the congregation is in full swing, the film shows promising signs of revival, but Mike passes quickly through a few moments of inspired editing before whacking his head on a rock, rendering him, and the remainder of this film once again unconscious. Waking, he gets a ride back to the cabin with a deputy sheriff, where, confirming our worst fears, the rednecks have already committed all the carnage and his friends, like the film are proven to be long dead.

All those usurped ideas from other films have merely been shamefully woven into a tapestry of shit through which a few all too brief moments of original light shine.

Winter Soldier

United States - 1971
Director - Winterfilm Collective
Milestone Films, 2006, DVD

Winter Soldier is a documentary of sorts that came back to light in recent history because of the ill-fated presidential candidacy of John Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, and at the time this film was made, a member of Vietnam Veterans Against The War who was involved with the Winter Soldier Investigation.

At the time of the 2004 Election, I had been a student of the Vietnam war for about 6 years, and had read a great deal of eyewitness, journalistic and political accounts of the war, its causes, it’s execution, and it’s aftermath, so this resurgent piece of history caught my eye.
Winter Soldier is a little bit different than all of that literature and academic discourse on Vietnam. Why did it take a presidential race to resurrect the spectre of this film, and why is it so important?
Winter soldier is first of all, a documentary. But it’s not an objective take, it’s very much a subjective one, having been made as a part of the VVAW movement. At first this seems to color the proceedings with the pall of victimization, but the unending, deadpan sincerity finally becomes more than a little unsettling. Never overwhelmingly so, it’s too factual to be really disturbing, and it all seems too frighteningly possible within a personal context.

Billed as a war crimes investigation, for about an hour and a half, Winter Soldier proceeds with the simple continuous testimony of Vietnam veterans of all races and from diverse units and branches, speaking about the brutality and inhumanity that they witnessed and committed in Vietnam.
For a contemporary student of the war itself, many of these stories are surprisingly, not unfamiliar, if unique in the details. What I had to remind myself is that these confessions were not made 30 years later on the printed page with the promise of a royalty check on the far end. These men are still seeing these things in full color in their heads and can still feel the pull of the flesh. Vietnam itself, and their own personal version of it were still very much happening at the time this was filmed.

Two thirds of the way through this film is a segment that starts out feeling like a diversion. A black veteran rants at a white veteran about racism, and about the complete and total white/black disconnect, and lack of understanding. At first the black guy seems a little cartoony and out there, but soon, it’s seriously heavy, and the white guy stands there at the end with nothing to say, floored and nodding his head.
You’ll never get it man, you-will-never-get-it. No matter how much you think you’re staring right at it, you will never see the whole picture. For that reason, this film will never be “gotten”, it can’t be, not by anyone who is not on screen, it’s too real. It’s like a movie in a foreign language, without subtitles. I can’t say I know much about the Vietnam War anymore, and I never will.

21 December 2007


United States - 1978
Director –Henry Suso (a.k.a. Nicholas Niciphor)
New Concorde, 2001, DVD

The first scene seemingly forshadows the subsequent film by giving us a few heady dizzying shots of David Carradines dangling package as he leaps over the camera in a loincloth.
After minimal narration about a “Neutron War” the world is left in the grip of a violent tyrannical dictator, Lord Zirpola who sends his troops out on future-dirtbikes to capture wandering nomads to torture and participate in Deathsport. The nomadic people have only the range-guides to protect them. Kaz O’Shea (Carradine) and Deneer (Claudia Jennings) are two such minimally clad quasi Buddhist rogues.

Angkar Moor (Richard Lynch) and a band of sinister silver clad dirt-bikers are out to stop the Range Guides free wheelin’ lifestyle. After a few brief skirmishes using simple blasters which turn people into nothing, (minimalizers! I love this!) they capture both, and take them to cells in an unnamed compound where for the first time the Range Guides meet through the bars. In some other room, the banal dictator is told by his doctor that he is dying, so he chucks the doctor and his son in jail with the range guides.
· Quasi spiritualist/naturalist cultural outsiders, check.
· Honest, scientific culturally dissenting realists, check.
Sounds to me like we just formed a core group of protagonists with minimal character development, let’s see what happens next folks.

Rashly attempting to break out of their cells, the Good Guys are quickly subdued, and Lord Zirpola subjects a nude Deneer to sonic torture, while not far away mercifully clothed (but only just) Kaz is flogged.
Afterwards the Guides mutter goofy voodoo at each other and the whole Good Guy team is sent out to matte painting land to participate in Deathsport!, in which they mount minimally modified unwieldy future dirtbikes, and are chased through various minimally dressed flaming sets (or even better, location shots) by Angkar and his lackeys. Lord Zirpola tortures another nude woman in his Sonic Pain Chamber, but soon dies, leaving Angkar Moor and his boys to be whittled away in the field until Kaz and Angkar, old rivals can have a clear plastic swordfight. Set 1000 years after Death Race, for no reason, Deathsport disposes with all the entertaining elements of it’s predecessor and relies exclusively on Claudia Jennings (Playboy Playmate of the Year 1970) and one other woman’s minimal clothing, and Richard Lynch’s portrayal of minimal morality. Nothing escapes the axe in this cheapquel and except for a few minutes of tits, which of course appeals only to a minimal demographic, it is similarly minimally entertaining.

Watch the Deathsport trailer at Cult Trailers

An awesome French Poster with the title Gladiators of the Year 3000:
Alternate video covers the first with the original poster art:

20 December 2007

P.O.W. The Escape

P.O.W. The Escape
a.k.a. Attack Force Nam, Behind Enemy Lines
United States - 1986
Director – Gideon Amir
Video Treasures, Inc., 1989, VHS

As the negotiations are going on in Paris in 1973, Col. Jim Cooper (David Carradine) stomps into his commanding officers office in a rage demanding to know why their rescue mission plans have been changed. Damnit, if Chuck Norris can make four, count ‘em, four POW rescue movies, goddamnit, Carradine wants one too.

Without hesitation, Cooper hops on a chopper with a bunch of green privates and air assaults the purported POW camp, unloading a chopperful of shoot from the hip naivete only to discover that, duh, the camp is abandoned. Or is it! To a rockin’ 80’s soundtrack the North Vietnamese Army start mortaring the camp and the Americans pull back, but true to his motto of “Everyone goes home,” Cooper goes back into the fray for wounded boot, Teague. Narrowly escaping, they are about to get on the chopper when it is rocketed and they are forced to flee on foot into the jungle where Teague soon dies and Cooper is captured.

Taken to an inhabited camp, Cooper meets the rest of the prisoners who include Steve James (American Ninja & several Norris flicks), and the commander of the camp, Maj. Vinh (Mako of Norris’s An Eye for an Eye). Instructed to send Cooper to Hanoi as a bargaining chip, Vinh decides to cut his own deal.

If Cooper helps Vinh get to American lines (with a big sack of gold and cash he’s stolen from prisoners) the two of them can avoid Hanoi altogether and go free. Without the inclusion of the other prisoners, Cooper refuses. After kicking the ass of Sparks, a recalcitrant POW who disagrees with his plan, Cooper stonyfaces Vinh into caving, and they all roll out of camp with the POW’s hidden in a water truck.

Inevitably, the truck is shot up and the guys pile out into some hand-to-hand combat/yelling etc, in which Vinh disappears. Having discovered the sack of loot, Cooper stashes it and Sparks takes off in a jeep thinking he has it. Vinh returns and gives chase in another jeep. Cooper and the remaining guys follow in wooden canoes until they meet up with some other GI’s searching for help for their besieged base on Radar Hill.

With little time left to one up Norris’s Col. Braddock, Col. Cooper goes to the rescue once again, this time all alone until the other guys gung ho into the fray with hoots, hollers a dirtbike and a hole in the chest. Oozing big dumb water buffalo heroics, and frankly, flat out stupidity, all while draped in an American flag, Cooper smashes through the walls of subtlety to reach the inner sanctum of excess.‘Namsploitation is arguably a fun little niche from the video era, but this movie manages to use the entertaining staples of the genre to make 90 minutes feel like 190. I lost count of false endings and secondary and even tertiary characters. The one redeeming characteristic is that despite it’s plentiful use of war violence it refrains from the overt sadism of the Norris MIA series, and if one doesn’t nitpick the inaccuracies and machismo, it’s still pretty ridiculous fun.

Covers for title Attack Force Nam:

19 December 2007

Men Behind The Sun

Men Behind the Sun
(Hei tai yang 731)
a.k.a. - Man Behind the Sun, Squadron 731, Camp 731
China - 1988
Director – Tun Fei Mou
World Video & Supply Inc., (year?), DVD

I love war movies because I’ve studied a lot of military history, and from what I’ve seen (mostly in the Kung Fu arena), Chinese war movies focus mostly on the Japanese occupation before and during WWII, with justifiable bitterness. Men Behind the Sun is no exception, only it takes the concept to a startling new level.

The Japanese are beginning to lose the war, and in order to try and ensure victory they decide to speed up the development of their biological weapons program The Imperial Army reinstates Gen. Ishikawa to unit 731 after he was previously discharged from that very unit for corruption. At the same time, a company of the Youth Corps is sent to train at 731 in biological warfare tactics. After disposing of some traitorous colleagues the general turns up the heat on the research and development of techniques to deploy the Bubonic Plague and other diseases offensively. I was bored with the Faces of Death movies back in the day, and the tagline on my copy of Men Behind the Sun purports to be “In the tradition” of those movies and in a way I can see why some people would say that, but I think there is a fundamental difference.

The Faces series, or at least the ones I’ve seen, were never trying to tell a story. They were just a series of vignettes each meant to be taken as completely real. Men Behind the Sun on the other hand has a linear plot with recurring characters yet maintains a plethora of gruesome related interjections. While the characters are intended to be taken seriously, the violence is tangibly exaggerated to press home a point. For that reason, the egregious gore effects, some real, and some clearly fake are even more stomach turning. I was seriously taken aback. I’ve seen creative use of medical footage and animal cruelty footage, but this was definitely something new. Ishikawa’s sadistic experiments seem to have little bearing on his stated objective, at least in the context of this film, but that doesn’t stop him from pursuing both with equal vigor and a gleam in his eye. Finally, in the end, as the war draws to a close the 731 has to abandon its base and withdraw to Japan where the victimized Chinese suffer the greatest cruelty of all, the amnesty of the members of unit 731. Men Behind the Sun provides the egregious use of stomach turning violence you expect from a film in the “Mondo” tradition, but also has guts enough to provide someone to blame it all on. That’s a whole new mouthful of flavor.

Alternate Covers:

18 December 2007

Maniac Nurses Find Ecstasy

Maniac Nurses Find Extasy
United States - 1990
Director – “Harry M. Love”, a.k.a. Leon Paul De Bruyn
Troma Entertainment, 1997, VHS

It’s always a crapshoot with anything distributed by Troma because they’ll pick up some pretty flaccid garbage, but there’s occasionally some gold in there too. Maniac Nurses has elements of both.
Relaxing after the (unsuccessful) operation, one of the assistants performs a prolonged striptease while the rest of the ladies, much like myself, stare slackjawed, as the narrator elaborates on the various types of “white trash” they once were, and how they all became despondent sadistic hedonistic nurses. “Their whole life is one big suicide attempt, a suicide attempt in luxurious surroundings.” A lesson in morality to be sure, driven home by the spiraling hypno-cam. Ilsa’s failure to please the golem-like living Barbie doll Sabrina leads to deep feelings of guilt which can only be assuaged by a topless (at last) whipping session, and a camper-hunting expedition. The latter results in much of the aforementioned gore, and a coup attempt by Greta, Ilsa’s assistant, who reveals (via narration) the origins of Sabrina and the mystery of the Elvis tattoo birthmark, which in the final on screen tally is all too much for her fragile mind to take, and she goes of the deep end.In fact, without the hilarious bargain psychoanalytical voiceover, and a few drinks to keep this trainwreck of bloody naked sillyness remotely linear, it might have been almost too much for me too.

The monotonous voiceover narration starts almost immediately and gives the subsequent absurdity a bizarre, mindbending Weekly World News/surrealist feeling, which is punctuated by paroxysms of remarkably effective low budget gore.

What we know is that Sabrina is the young “lolita age” plaything of Ilsa, (no reference intended right) the head nurse (of 4 total) at a “clinic” which specializes in sadism. Sabrina lounges catatonically in her undies, stroking herself and a low quality war comic with a gleaming revolver while the voiceover explains how twisted her brutal surroundings have made her.
Unable to pleasure Sabrina out of her psychosis, Ilsa gets the idea to turn a new victim into a “robot love doll”, a bloody affair made bloodier by one of the assistants hacking the corpse apart with a chainsaw.
Alternate Covers:
Of all four, only the last features people who actually appear in the film.
Highest Quality:
The attention to detail should be a hint as to the quality of the film contained within.

17 December 2007

Recent Viewings and Reviewings

In the last 2 days I watched:
The Prodigy
Lone Wolf McQuade
and Maniac Nurses Find Ecstasy

Most of a review for Maniac Nurses is done, and Evilspeak is in the pipe, while Lone Wolf is already posted at Genrebusters.com.

Tomorrow is Kung Fu Grindhouse, "Chucksmas 2".

16 December 2007

It Conquered the World

United States -1956
Director – Roger Corman
RCA Columbia Pictures Home Video 1991

I used to hate this crap. Because I was such a splatter fan, with the exception of The Creature, these old black and white monster movies bored the piss out of me until about 2 years ago. I don't know what it was that changed, but I'm glad it did. And It Conquered the World has all the best things I could ask for from a Cold War classic.

The first scene says it all. A bunch of scientists in a lab discuss grandiose space-experiments in all seriousness while turning big knobs on the wall. A meeting between several military men and a sinister looking Dr. Tom Anderson played by Lee Van Cleef ends in hostility and dark prediction. Returning home to his hot wife Claire (Beverly Garland) he pours a drink and talks via ham radio to a otherworldly electronical voice. Later he shows it to his buddy Nelson (Peter Graves), who doesn't believe a word. Anderson becomes more recalcitrant and speaks more bitterly with his electro-voice buddy.

Claire is despondent, she's starting to think that Tom is going off the deep end. The way he glares out from under a dark furrowed brow making stark threatening predictions about the human race, and sleeping next to the radio, one can't blame her for stalking the room in frustration. 

Shortly enough, the voice, attributed to a Venutian alien, comes to earth and magically shuts down the power of everything, a la The Day the Earth Stood Still. Now even less convinced of the creatures benevolence, Nelson tells Anderson as much over a drink.

Soon rubber alien larva are winging through the sky and zombifying the population. With little else to do while the power is out, Nelson argues with Anderson some more, and neither make any headway. Nelson's Hausfrau is zombified and in a rage of patriotic scientificality he guns her down. Returning again to Anderson's castle of aloofity, they argue again, but shortly realize that Claire is missing. Showing her true colors, she's taken a shotgun and gone in search of the Venutian, a giant rubber cone with crab claws and fangs.
Alas, she fails, but her death has finally convinced Anderson that he's an asshole, and he bravely gives his life to redeem his soul.

The point is thereby proven that isolationism and suspicion are the cornerstones of scientifical and social success in the face of Communistical alien ideology. Nelson has this shit-cold, deadpan, earnest grimace as he recites bland social "truths" about mankind. But really, the Andersons were the ones who shook it up, kept things on the edge, and made life a little more interesting for all of us.
Old poster:

13 December 2007

Private Maneuvers

Private Maneuvers
Israel - 1983
Director - Zvi Shissel
MGM/UA Book-cover VHS box

Well, we know the legacy of Amercanized Israelis Golan and Globus, who's Cannon Pictures released this gem, so it should come as no surprise that some weird stuff was happening in the film industry of the Promised Land. Private Maneuvers is an Israeli army comedy that manages to load a surplus of politically incorrect crudities and stereotypes into an unhindered if crudely executed M.A.S.H. clone.

A squad of fat stupid misfit soldiers is left to train under ridiculously enthusiastic but predictably bumbling racist stereotype of an (east) Indian Sergeant named Ramit, alternately called something that sounds, in the brutally dubbed "funny" accents remarkably like "Fuck You". The Capitan of the unit is another fat incompetent bastard, this time with a thick British accent. Simplistic uncreative colonial cookie-cutter comedy characters every one.

That is until Ramit refers to his squad of dumb-asses as "artists and young faggots". Now you know this is just going to get even cuter. Scheduled to compete against a troop of highly disciplined killers in the annual wargames, Captain orders Ramit to drill the troops mercilessly.
The goldbricking clown of the squad, Huey, attempts to steal sick passes from the doctor's office but is subjected to a prolonged overly intimate fat jiggling session, and a frighteningly enthusiastic rectal examination, a theme to which we are to later return repeatedly with great comic effect.

Moments later, Huey inexplicably returns to the barracks with two women in tow whom, to the strains of the song "Mr. Sandman" he doses with home-made roofies while the rest of the squad look on with anticipation. Just as I began to dry heave with thoughts of gang rape, Ramit shows up and more silly antics ensue. Several Swiss observers show up to watch the wargames, and one of them, a woman can't seem to keep her labia from seeking the open breeze.A series of slide whistle accompanied erection shots follow, and while leading the Swiss miss to her room,. Ramit declares that she is just like hot curried potatoes.Planning his sexual conquest, Ramit assembles an arsenal of bad sex jokes, but in a cruel twist of fate accompanied by more slide-whistles, Huey lands in the girl's pants, eliciting painful simultaneous yodeling from the Swiss Miss and the soundtrack, more uncomfortable sexual abuse and domination from the rest of the squad, and an intensification of intoxication from this viewer. Eventually of course, with the help of some homophobic jokes, cross-dressing and some well endowed sand table strategy... ...Ramit's boys manage to win the wargames, bringing this film - like my drink - to a happy if hazy and spinning conclusion. Where films like Basic Training approached this subject with somewhat questionable motives, Private Maneuvers gleefully employs the double barrels of racism and sexism whole hog. I would go on to say that it discriminates against stupid people too, but I'm not sure if that's meant to be self deprecating. Every element is taken just a bit further than I'm used to, and scored to popular songs of the 60's, so it's a little but disquieting. I would say that this movie lost something in translation, but instead, I think it gained something in mis-translation. At least I hope so, nothing this beautifully crass could have been planned.

Eaten Alive

a.k.a. Death Trap, Horror Hotel and others
United States - 1977
Director - Tobe Hooper
Darksky Films 2007, 2 DVD Special Edition
Not to be confused with Umberto Lenzi's 1980 cannibal film Mangiati Vivi, released as Eaten Alive in the US.

Turning her first trick, a runaway young woman working in a whorehouse gets, as her first trick, Buck (Robert Englund), a nasty drunken redneck who menaces her so horribly that she flees the brothel in terror. Arriving at the Starlight Motel she meets Judd, the bizarre charicature of a crazy homicidal grumpy old man who runs the joint and tries to rape her, but opts instead for stabbing her repeatedly with a pitchfork and then feeding her to his giant crocodile which lives in the lagoon behind the hotel.

Welcome to Eaten Alive; this is not going to get any easier. Judd is singing to himself in his room, looking over some old magazine clippings when a cartoony couple and their child show up looking for a room. Distracted by a dead monkey in a cage on Judds' porch, mom (Marylin Burns back from TCM) and daughter only too late notice the family dog "Snoopy" barking at the croc and, whoops, eaten.

Comforting their distraught daughter in their room, sweaty dad flips off the fucking handle, starts barking and picking at the carpet, and finally goes to kill the croc with a shotgun. Running into Judd on the way, he gets stabbed in the belly and then devoured by the voracious proactive crocodile.
Having not heard the gunshots or screaming from downstairs, mom (Burns) takes a shower, and after savoring his victory for awhile, Judd ascends the stairs to tie her to the bed.

Mel Ferrer shows up with his daughter, looking for his other daughter -the dead hooker form the first scene - and after yakking at the cops for a minute goes to the hotel where Judd gives him the usual treatment. The fucked-up shit and stalking creepy old man shit just continue.

It's hard to say Tobe Hooper hasn't done a damn thing good since Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and don't try and claim Poltergeist, that's got Spielberg all over its face. But on a second viewing some 6 or so years since the last (for some stupid reason I wasn't too impressed the first time) Eaten Alive razed my opinion to the ground. This film is all about atmosphere - gooey, clinging, heavy atmosphere, appropriately overplayed. It never seems to be anything but midnight, the green and red light seems to make everything warm and wet, almost decomposing before your eyes. And Hooper's music again gives a rusting abrasive tension to the twisted grisly happenings. Yes, there are a few moments of TCM stirred in there, but this is the logical next step, and is a more refined vision, albeit a distorted one. Demented and cloying, Eaten Alive soaks in through your pores.

Cosmos: War Of the Planets

Cosmos: War of the Planets
Italy - 1982
Director- Al Bradley (AKA Alfonso Brescia)
Brentwood Home Video, 2003, Space Quest 20 movie DVD set

Effin’ eh, the first few seconds have got me worried, and sure enough it’s another crap-tastic Al Bradley Italian space turd.

Some people in a space station are wearing some silly costumes with these sweet molded felt helmets. One dude punches another in the face. They get in trouble with their bosses, and one dude goes on a spacewalk, the same spacewalk that was re-used and besmirched the first several cringe inducing minutes of War of the Robots. Hey all the actors are the same, hey all the sets are the same too! Everything is the same, except for one thing, a goddamned badass super computer called WIZ. WIZ knows everything. Everything! The WIZ also conveys orders from the space sytation commanders to the capitans of the spaceships. Ship MK-31, is on it’s way back to base Orion for a little well deserved rest and relaxation. Orion picks up some crazy alien signals that are “messing up the radio and video transmissions on Earth”. WIZ orders the ship to go and terminate the signals. Capitan Hamilton bluntly refuses, but then suddenly some alien craft appear and they exchange gunfire. MK-31 is hit and thrown into some kind of freefall through space. Finally in some remote sector they are able to stabilize their craft as they descend into the atmosphere of an alien planet. (I think I’m starting to lose track).

Despite the orders of Orion Base they land on the planet and exit into a conveniently breathable atmosphere. As they explore the rocky surface, suddenly one of their number is killed by the cheesiest robot costume ever, while another crew member disappears. The remaining crew members go looking for her, but instead find a subterranean race of atomic mutants (the same actors as the puffy eyes in Robots, only with silver body paint). The humans agree to assist the mutants who have been enslaved and menaced by the shitty robot, even allowing one of the mutants to don one of their unitards and join the crew. They figure out which weapons they need in order to defeat the robot and they head back to the ship to get them, but wait! There’s the robot, wait, they’re going after the robot! They end up in a big cave chamber place with a different giant blinking robot with lighted buttons in the form of a face. All they need to do to defeat this ultimate evil slot machine robot? Push the big red button! But the evil genius robot foils that plan too, and now it seems that only some bible verses will help the humans.Volcanos! Avalanches! Gothic organ music! Give it more power! The ship escapes the planet, but alas is overtaken and conquered by the most unabashedly canned soundtracks of all time along with a plethora of the most washed out, grainy and decrepit stock footage available.

Sexually suggestive remarks are made towards the mutant who joined the crew (the same ugly dude who did the same thing in Robots). No satisfaction, none whatsoever, but, you can see nipples through the suit in one scene. The epitome of 70’s hot for 70’s not. God bless Yanti Somer and Kentucky straight bourbon.

Star Odessey

Star Odyssey
Italy - 1979
Director- Alfonso Brescia (as Al Bradley)
Brentwood Home Video, 2003, Space Quest20 movie DVD set

On a crappy Italian backlot soundstage somewhere in CineCitta, Al Bradley (AKA Alfonso Brescia) has finished his “film” War of the Planets ahead of schedule. What to do? Here’s the deal, shoot one film, and get the next two, of equal or lesser value FREE!

A spaceship detects an alien craft, the first contact with aliens! The alien craft flees, and when the humans try to catch up, the alien ship destroys them! The humans try and blast back, but their weapons are ineffectual. The commander of the human mothership is befuddled, but quickly realizes that if they are to have any chance they need to enlist the help of Professor. Sadly, Commander and Professor don’t get on well ever since Commander threw Professor in prison. The only person who can successfully help Professor escape from incarceration is Space Hero Oliver Carera. Carera is a by the book jerk who refuses to violate the law and perform the jailbreak, so Commander hypnotizes him.

Meanwhile, the aliens have been scoping out earth so they can offer the planet and it’s resources of slaves and such at their next “planet auction”.

Carera teams up with another guy with a child molester moustache and a silver spider web on his shirt who also has hypnotizing power and telekinesis. They do some crazy stuff and Spider Shirt keeps Carera hypnotized and they team up with Professors sexy big-boobed daughter/assistant who in turn recruits a crazy android boxer who in turn enlists the help of two manic depressive suicidal robots who can phase in and out of physicality. Follow?

Somehow, they rescue some scientists who are going to create some synthetic “Indirium” which is apparently the only way they can defeat the evil aliens plan. During a conversation they are served whiskey by a little R2-D2 knockoff foam and plastic robot that obviously has an impatient little kid in it because the silver lycra clad arms twitch and flop impatiently. Ha ha that shit is funny! While the scientists are in the lab synthesizing, the muscle is outside digging holes when the aliens attack, hey, it turns out these aliens are the same gold wigged assholes as War of the Robots, who once again are armed with light saber knockoffs. After the good guys capture one of the alien swords, the scientists go to the lab and synthesize it. The leader of the bad guys, Gator Face does psychic battle with Professor. The scientists finally synthesize “anti-indirium”, oh wait, no one of the depressed robots does. There is a big ass sword fight in the aliens ship Then a heat ray or some something. This is so horrible that it’s jaw dropping. Everything that could be low class and lousy about it is. It’s like one of those trashy Italian barbarian movies (one of which, Iron Warrior was directed by Brescia) but in “space”, and with the lowest possible production value. What makes it so incredible is that it combines every possible bad and corny stereotype into one sordid package and wallows in it with pride, without using nudity as a pressure release valve! Making it even more heretical, aghast it continues. Pure excruciating beauty. Screw it.

War of the Robots

Italy - 1978
Director- Alfonso Brescia (as Al Bradley)
Brentwood Home Video, 2003, Space Quest 20 Movie DVD set

The credit sequence is straight out of a 50’s serial. The names all look Anglo-American, but the production value, all the visuals and the dubbing are oh so Italian.

A professor conducting genetic experiments in a reactor on a space station with his beautiful blonde “au naturale” assistant are kidnapped by several golden page-boy wigged and silver jumpsuit clad “aliens” armed with light weapons of some kind. They are whisked by wire propelled spacecraft into the blurry depths of space. After a droll and simplistic computer reads off some grade-school computations, a rescue force is launched into space with directions that include North and East. They encounter three enemy craft, which they engage, destroying two. The third disappears. The rescue force, ship damaged in the brief exchange, lands on a nearby soundstage planet to perform repairs. On the surface they encounter a race of aliens who resemble humans in every way except for their puffy latex eyes and leather helmets. The puffy eyed people it is revealed are the slaves of the silver jumpsuiters. Anyway, it turns out the 2 kidnapped people are actually the leaders of the golden haired bad aliens, except for the fact that the woman, the assistant chick is in love with the leader of the humans, so she helps them escape and splits with them.

Damn, this is so incredibly low class it’s shocking. Classless as hell, but mercifully, all the men are clad in loose fitting jumpsuits, and predictably, but thankfully, the women are not. None of the women is wearing a bra, the spaceship animations are circa 1960 TV quality and are so painfully wooden and Star Wars derivative that it was hard to keep from covering my face. Ugggghhhh. When the spaceship gets hit all the people’s chairs shake in different directions. The actors all deliver some of the most idiotically scripted and and dubbed lines ever. People stand in the open and have conversations during gun battles. Wins the award for worst spacewalk scene ever sinfully committed to film, while simultaneously delivering the awesomest soundtrack this side of a death rattle.

So bad it’s like punching yourself in the face repeatedly or shooting up under your fingernails. Terrible, painful, unhealthy and rotten, but it feels so goddamn decadent.