Well, here's a new feature for all y'all with the attention spans of spastic hamsters or those nuevo-Max Headroom yahoos responsible for the Slip 'N Slide editing of MTV's Cribs. It's the CineSchlock-O-Rama Lightning Round!!! Should this feature somehow meet with reader approval, it'll be used to periodically flush the backlog of sweet, juicy schlock cinema that routinely clogs my mailbox. Simply click on the box covers for complete star ratings ... and away we go ...
THE DAMN! SHOW VOL. 1 & 2 (2002): If a homosexual tryst involving Don Rickles, Jackie Mason and Ronald McDonald were to produce alcoholic offspring, it just might begin to explain Yucko the Clown -- a walking "F@#& YOU!" in floppy shoes and a big red nose. Best among the Georgia-based sketch comedy troupe's more than 50 deliriously crude bits (contained on these two discs) is Yucko's clown-on-the-street report from New York City in which unsuspecting folk are accosted by the acid-tongued jester's gleeful rain of racial slurs and dirty, dirty words. Perhaps the perverse genius of comedian Roger Black's alter ego can be summed up in the split second when a perky coed playfully honks Yucko's nose and Yucko, ahem, honks her back. Also among the DAMN! Show citizenry is a homely slice of white trash named Regina Lynn with chronic female problems and an insatiable oral fixation. Then there's the animated sensation known as Inebriated the Koala who punctuates his beyond-blue antics with the catch phrase: "Eucalyptis!? You can lick THIS!!!" The NPR crowd will likely bristle at the group's every excretion, especially those steeped with Southern-influenced race humor such as "The Gooks of Hazzard." But that's the goldang point! Shock comedy at its gut-busting worst. Where's Vol. 3!?
BLACK CHRISTMAS: THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION (1974): Seems word came of the Critical Mass Collector's Edition no sooner than this sucker was released. So, if you DON'T want a director's commentary and a bunch of other goodies, well, THIS is the disc for you! As the story goes, some freakazoid clambers into the attic of a sorority house and commences to offing gals just in time for the holidays. It's pretty much old hat these days, but most credit the flick for establishing the slasher template BEFORE the likes of Halloween. What's really important is what a genuinely enthralling flick director Bob Clark delivers. Supergirlfriend Margot Kidder's booze hound Barb foreshadows her real-life demons. Olivia Hussey is simply stunning as a coed who sadly predates the Girls Gone Wild era. But the flick's most startling and downright creepy performance comes via audio alone from our homicidal maniac's increasingly demented obscene phone calls. Eventually leading, of course, to one of the most famous lines of horrordom. And let us not understate the legacy of ... The Killer Cam.
TERROR TOONS (2002): Promising young goreteur Joe Castro worked along slaughterhouse maestro Herschell Gordon Lewis to produce Blood Feast 2's memorable grue -- easily that flick's strongest asset. Castro's followed with this remarkably witty and twisted documentation of the gruesome exploits of cartoon sadist Dr. Carnage and his purple primate pal Max Assassin who manifest and murder in the real world via a demonic DVD (as VHS is so passe). While among the living doomed, they yank innards out of gaping crimson chest cavities, scoop the brainpans of screaming victims and turn a buxom blonde into a human ventriloquist dummy. Everything about Castro's picture is intentionally askew. His actors are about 10 years too old for their childlike roles. The no-budget blue screen FX rely on IMPACT more than technical sophistication. And the whole thing bobs along like a drug-induced hallucination on a river of good old fashion GORE backed by a circus calliope soundtrack. Mr. Lewis will be proud. Bonus materials were not available for review.
SWAMP GIRL (1971) AND SWAMP COUNTRY (1966): Something Weird Video offers a double helping of flicks chock full of gators, quicksand, water moccasins, fan boats and the dimwitted ilk who wander out amongst it all. The better of the two, Swamp Girl, tells the harrowing story of a naive little honey (Simone Griffeth) raised deep within the swamp by a black fella she calls "Pa." Country crooner Ferlin Husky is the park ranger who befriends and even sings a didy about the gal. Swap Country is dang near a MUSICAL itself with Baker Knight stopping things down frequently for a skeeter-friendly serenade. The latter is resented in its original W-I-D-E-S-C-R-E-E-N along with enough extras to choke a gator.
SERIES 7: THE CONTENDERS (2000): There's about 30 minutes worth of good idea here and another hour to drown it out. Dawn (Brooke Smith) is nine months pregnant. She's adored by millions of Americans. She's the winningest contestant on a red-hot reality TV series where the only prize is your life. Consequently, she's also a cold-blooded killer. Anyone NOT see where this is headed? Doesn't matter. Visually and structurally, the movie expertly apes the genre's trappings with style and humor. Except for the final reel. That's where DVD really comes in handy. Right there among the deleted scenes is the flick's original and VASTLY superior ending in which the society at large rises up to enforce the rules of this sinister game. But writer/director Daniel Minahan effectively yanks his satire's choppers with that convoluted Bonnie 'n' Clyde Playhouse finale of his. Yet he unquestionably delivers an OUTSTANDING commentary to which other filmmakers should certainly aspire.
WILLIAM SHATNER'S SPPLAT ATTACK (2002): Wanna see an 80-minute "documentary" about a Star Trek-themed paintball match? No!? Are you sure? Captain Kirk's in it! And there's paintball. That's cool, right? No, of course not. There's little doubt the 1,500 sum odd Trekkies who converged on Challenge Park Xtreme near Chicago to bean Bill Shatner had themselves a grand time, but it's goldang unbearable on home video. Besides, it hardly seems FAIR given the oversized target Bill's presenting these days. Paintball guru Tom Kaye and radio weenie Mancow lead the Borg and Klingon armies against the Shatnerites in what seems an endless battle. Check out timecodes (9:02) and (33:48) to hear Cap'n Kirk utter colorful metaphors such as "HOLY S@#&!!!" The extras are slightly more interesting, as they dwell on Shatner hamming it up with fans like "Welt Man" who earned his name for painfully obvious reasons. There's also a neat easter egg where Bill chirps, "It's all good!" Too bad it ain't.
DEATH BED (2002): A young couple discovers an antique bed locked away in their attic that mysteriously transforms the normally icy bride into a thrusting, moaning, kinkified sex kitten. CineSchlockers know such diddling always comes at a deadly price, so Tanya Dempsey's ghostly visions of long murdered lovers are of little surprise. They're the nightmare sort where her beau will suddenly morph into an icky corpse, or when she's doodling an illustration for a children's book and all the characters turn into murderous Garbage Pail Kids. More amusing than scary. And as convincing as Ms. Dempsey's undulations may be, the most talent she shares is when CineSchlocker fave Joe Estevez -- Martin Sheen's bubba -- peeps down her untethered top when she first starts getting horn'd up by the unholy ghost. No bonus materials available for review.
OCTOPUS 2: RIVER OF FEAR (2002): Nu Image unleashes a king-sized CGI octopus in New York City's east river just in time for a spectacular Fourth of July celebration. You can bet the mayor's NOT gonna like that! One of these days, folks are just gonna drop all the pretense and start setting these things on Amity Island with heroes named Brody. This outting, our story deals with a harbor patrol scuba team investigating unsolved deaths that a sewer-dwelling mole person blames on a sea monster. Even creature feature enthusiasts will quickly grow weary of this sucker. Note of how the octopus changes DRASTICALLY in size and color throughout the flick.
ESSENCE OF ECHOES (2001): This painfully earnest and grossly unoriginal "thriller" pits a by-the-book FBI babe (Sharisse Baker-Bernard
) against an unusually brutal serial killer who likes to slowly torture people to death. But, to make matters worse, her unsympathetic honcho forces her to team with a hunky ex-beau (Michael Worth) to solve the case. Count cliches like tension-heightening heartbeat sound effects, mood-setting thunderstorms, crime scene stalking with flashlights and dialogue such as "The press is going to have a field day with this one." There's something in my Gunnysack of Goodies for the first person who can tell me how the title has ANY connection to this stinker. Look for CineSchlocker fave Bill "Chop Top" Moseley in an all-to-brief role as an uncooperative doctor. No bonus materials available for review.
MARI-COOKIE AND THE KILLER TARANTULA A.K.A. EIGHT LEGS TO LOVE YOU (1998): Proof that even legends make horrible, horrible movies. Jesus Franco and Lina Romay return for, um, OK, I'll admit it. I don't know what the hell this monstrosity's about. Lina's running around with not NEARLY enough clothes on and keeps discarded lovers in a giant spider web. Scream Queen Michelle Bauer engages in advanced lesbian tongue rasslin' with a dancing girl (Analia Ivars) known for stuffing a horse's tail up her dirtiest of nethers. Amber Newman also gets nekkid, while CineSchlocker idol Linnea Quigley does NOT -- an oversight she dutifully errectifies with a first-ever NUDE commentary!!! That may be reason enough for a rental, especially with the added bonus of the short film Les Psycholettes about a lesbo biker gang who cruises around emasculating men and wearing their severed phalli like costume jewelry.
ESCAPE FROM AFGHANISTAN (1994): Here's why Roger Corman's the King of Bs! Who else would pluck a ponderous Russian-language flick (Peshavar Waltz a.k.a. Peshavarskij Valchik) about a grisly prison revolt, re-edit it, "enhance" the audio and rush it into video stores with camo-faced Americans on the cover just as U.S. troops were jetting a world away to charbroil Taliban keister? OK, so what if that was an egregiously labored rhetorical question. Sue me.
Phew! One last item ...
REEL SHAME: BAD MOVIES AND THE HOLLYWOOD STARS WHO MADE THEM: Lest anyone fear this is the genesis of anything remotely resembling the Oprah Book Club, rest assured it most certainly IS NOT! We schlockmeisters just have to stick together. That's all. So, I hereby recommend Chris Holland and Scott Hamilton's new book as an excellent addition to the libraries of discerning fringe cinema fans. The Stomp Tokyo duo probe the significance of schlock classics and the alleged celebs who made them with uncanny wit and time-hewn expertise. Essays and sidebars tackling treasures such as Embrace of the Vampire, Barb Wire and Shakes the Clown are sure to tickle any CineSchlocker.