What better time than now to develop a taste for bad cinema? Liven up those long stretches of coronavirus-induced boredom with the worst films ever made!
Here is a carefully selected group of truly bad films to get you started:
The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies: Not only does this intensely weird film have no discernible plot, it’s also a musical. The Mystery Science Theater version is worth the extra three bucks or whatever it is.
Deathstalker 2: Gets the nod over Deathstalker 3 because it stars Denison University’s own John Terlesky, and because it features the immortal John La Zar, who is the star of…
…Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Also featuring the Strawberry Alarm Clock, which makes it a horror flick.
Circle of Iron: Kung Fu, ersatz mysticism, loincloths and Eli Wallach in a barrel of oil. A classic of the extended non-sequitur.
FDR — American Badass: Relive the glory days of World War II with this unique take on the defeat of the Axis powers. With Werewolf Hitler.
The Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy: This might take some finding, but it’s well worth it, especially for the spectacle of the bad guys in pointy shoes trying to scramble around on the pyramid.
The Acid Eaters: Another one that will require some effort to locate. Worth it for the ziggurat scene alone.
Manos — Hands of Fate: This was made on a bet in 1966 by some guy in Texas. Net production cost — $11.37 ($90.78 in 2020 dollars). Also exciting scenes involving the inability of the lead bad guy’s belt to hold his pants up. (The MST version is the only one I know of.)
Zero Woman — Red Handcuffs: This exciting Japanese “pinky violence” flick features, among other things, the regrettable state of Japanese male underpants in the mid-1970s.
And finally, Iron Sky: Return to the heady days of the Obama presidency, when men were (sort of) men and space Nazis led by Sarah Palin established a base on the dark side of the moon!
The NBC horror show “Hannibal” ran three seasons and was cancelled without my noticing it.
But there’s something about having a stubborn head cold that makes damn near anything on a streaming service attractive. So I watched the first two seasons of “Hannibal” and am three or four episodes into the third.
I’m a big fan of Hannibal Lecter, Will Graham, Jack Crawford and the rest of the gang, so I was curious as to how this network production would stack up against the movies.
(From top left: Will and his wimpy permabeard; Hannibal as dressed by the denizens of Style Forum; oh, great, it’s another antler scene)
The show gets off to a solid if somewhat stately start. But after a while a pattern emerges. Will goes off into la-la land, and grows antlers. Hannibal prepares food while wearing plaid suits, extreme spread collar shirts and ties with gigantic Windsor knots.
Also Will has discovered how to always have eight days’ worth of beard. Never more, never less.
By the time I got to season three I was thoroughly sick of the entire thing and my cold is done.
So I think I am going to leave Hannibal in Italy.
My annual fishing week in the Catskills got rained out, so I am slowly working my way through the stack of crappy DVDs I bought for comic relief in the Land of No Internet or Cable.
Let’s get started:
The Hooker Cult Murders (aka The Pyx) is a semi-police procedural and about one-quarter devil movie. It is also shot in the dark and there are no subtitles for the French parts.
The idea of the leader of a devil cult with a madam on the payroll for the human sacrifices and whatnot is solid enough, but this flick goes back and forth with flashbacks and jump cuts and overlapping dialogue and a bunch of other artsy stuff that makes me suspect that someone was trying to make a SERIOUS FILM and not an excuse to see the immortal Karen Black nekkid.
Which we do, sort of. Does a see-thru nighty count?
Anyhoo, this is pretty damn boring and unless you have a really strong feeling about the immortal Karen Black, I’d give it a miss.
The erotic highlight of “Mitchell” — Linda Evans’ back (above left); Mitchell drinks Schlitz while sitting on a couch (top right) that matches his sport coat (below right).
If you’ve never seen Andrew McLaglen’s 1975 film “Mitchell,” starring the immortal Joe Don Baker, then you must drop everything and find it. Preferably the version available on one of those “50 Godawful Movies for $7” box sets, which are so badly produced that the titles are too fuzzy to read.
Mitchell is a renegade Los Angeles cop who goes after the bad guys and spends a lot of time getting in and out of cars. He also drives cars and crashes cars. And dune buggies.
He has a magic sport coat that matches his sofa, a fine-looking hooker (Linda Evans) who comes over when the plot needs goosing, and he can hit anyone or anything at any range with any gun.
“Mitchell” is an hommage du fromage, with scenery-chewing performances from John Saxon ( who was always getting in Jim Rockford’s pomaded hair) and Martin Balsam, who must have needed the work.
And there is musical commentary by the great Hoyt Axton, a man who had no peer when it came to rhyming “June” with “spoon.”
A CACA classic.
Three coils, with the automatic one coil deduction for no nekkidity, not even Linda Evans’ butt.
I’ve owned “The Big Sleep” forever, and read the novel umpty-ump times.
And I’ve always been confused by the plot.
It didn’t matter.
I dug out the DVD the other night and realized there was an unreleased, earlier version on the flip side of the disc.
Maybe I watched it before, but if I did, I didn’t remember it.
According to a comparison between the unreleased and released versions, the changes were made — mostly — in order to beef up Lauren Bacall’s scenes with Humphrey Bogart.
In particular, they cheesed a scene with Bacall in a weird veil, for no apparent reason.
But the big change is a long scene in the district attorney’s office. It’s not the most exciting thing in the world, but it does go a long way toward making the story more comprehensible.
It’s worth a look
This was in late November. Deer season, hence the orange clothing. The brookies were sluggish and responded best to the more garish offerings — the squirmy worm in particular. I was using a Cabelas 6 1/2 foot, 4 weight glass rod, which are typically about $69 plus shipping and as such an incredible deal. I also have the 7 foot 5 weight and just ordered the 5 foot 9 inch 3 weight. All are three piece rods.
On the plus side, the Housatonic River Trout Management Area is running a little below 200 cubic feet per second, which means the wading angler can get to a lot of spots normally accessible only by boat.
But the low flows, combined with the unusually warm and sunny weather, mean the water temperature is getting into the 70s by mid-day.
So while it’s a lot of fun to go out and catch the feisty rainbows the state stocked a couple weeks back, they take a fair bit of reviving, as I found out on Sunday, Sept. 24.
It might be best to give the trout a rest until this hot spell breaks.
Drop everything and find “Naked As Nature Intended,” a 1961 nudist film by the immortal Harrison Marks.
It has cows, ducks, Stonehenge, girls in Capri pants and the Famous Lorna Doone coach.
Personally, seeing Pam, Jackie and the gang encounter the Famous Lorna Doone coach is a real highlight of my career as a important and influential film critic.
The one thing this flick is a little light on is nekkidity.
But hey — we get to see Tintagel! (The legendary castle of King Arthur, you oaf.)
Amazon Prime, aka The Eternal Wellspring of Utter Crap, for some reason was pushing something called “Space Boobs in Space,” which looked like it might be okay, if redundant.
As opposed to “Space Boobs in Arkansas,” I mean.
Well, it’s an appallingly amateurish mess that appears to have been shot on someone’s phone.
If you can make it past the 10-minute mark you win the Gunga Din Award.
“Space Boobs in Space” is not to be confused with “Space Babes in Space,” which I think is a porn flick.