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I've been threatening to do this for a while now and I suppose it is time. Despite me swearing that I'd never force myself to sit th...

Friday, September 30, 2022

Time Travelers (1976)

I miss T.V. Guide
Dr. Earnshaw is trying to save lives as there is an outbreak of a deadly disease in New Orleans. While checking in on his lates patient he is told that Washington has sent help. He goes and meets Adams, who announces that he isn’t a doctor but that he can help. He is being very cryptic and at first Earnshaw is hesitant to go with him. But he has a plane from Washington and was sent by the president.

While flying off the pair have a conversation where it is explained that a doctor had seemingly cured this disease over a hundred years before, but that the cure had been lost to time. Specifically, the great Chicago fire where he and his notes were lost. If you haven’t figured out yet the government has a time machine and is sending both Earnshaw and Adams back to get the cure and save the country from a pandemic. Of course, it doesn’t go as planned and there are some shenanigans that complicate things. But it ends well… unless you wanted this made for television movie to become a series. Yeah, I think that this was supposed to serve as a pilot for a new show but never made it.

How did I never see this before? This would have been right up my alley and was released just as I was getting into science fiction. The plot is adapted from a story by Rod Serling, of The Twilight Zone, and it was produced by Irwin Allen who made Lost in Space and The Land of the Giants. So, there are some familiar names attached. The movie itself clocks in at a tight seventy-eight minutes and wastes no time setting up the scenario and getting to the good stuff. If you have seen any time travel movies the complications will seem familiar and in typical fashion, there is a doomed love story as well. But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to be entertaining if you execute it well, and they do.

Science!
The cast includes Richard Basehart (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, another Allen show), Sam Groom (The Time Tunnel, yet another Allen production), and Tom Halick who I remember from Hanger 18. You might not recognize these names but trust me this was an A+ cast for a television movie in the mid-seventies. Heck the love interest is played by Trish Stewart who was in my favorite Andy Griffith show Salvage 1! Seriously that is a great show.

It was ambitious of them to go for such an epic story as the Chicago Fire on a relatively small budget, but using old footage tinted to sort of fit with the new stuff and some old school tricks they manage to do it. Though I wonder if that played into this not getting turned into a series as this would have been a regular struggle in telling time travel stories. Being a made for television project Time Travelers has no gore or really much violence at all. I mean someone does get bonked on the head. But that is about it.

I found this on YouTube and hope that it stays up there. Most of these old television movies are treated with disdain and are impossible to find legitimately anywhere so I don’t feel bad about pointing you towards someone’s channel to watch it. This one is worth your time, and I highly recommend that you do just that.

 

© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Wolf Devil Woman (1982)

I don’t think that I’ve covered a Kung Fu movie here at the site before (I now realize that I had - John) so I thought that a movie like Wolf Devil Woman would be a good place to start. I mean I think that there is a sort of werewolf/horror twist to it. But I’m not sure since this seems to be a rather obscure flick and one that I’ve not seen before. Might as well jump in and see what I’ve gotten myself into.

The movie begins with a masked guy torturing a guy by doing horrible things to a voodoo doll of him. Some folks are watching on in horror, including a young couple and their infant child. Then we see them running away while being chased by a bad guy in a rubber mask and some ninjas. There is some Kung Fu fighting and realizing they are no match the couple stabs each other and then smash their heads on a mountain to cause an avalanche. They are going to leave the fate of their infant daughter up to the mountain.

The baby survives and is raised by wolves so that she is more animal than human. That also means she has wolf style Kung Fu and stuff. Another Kung Fu guy comes along to do battle with the Demon (the bad guy from earlier) and the now grown-up woman crosses his path. Some stuff happens and then they do battle with the Demon. There is a twist, but the bad guy is still defeated. The now less than animalistic wolf woman, the Kung Fu guy, and his comic sidekick all live happily ever after… at least I think so.

Here is your bad guy... really... not joking
I’m not being dismissive or sarcastic when trying to give you all a plot synopsis. This is about the best that I could do to make sense of it because Wolf Devil Woman is a complete mess of a movie. There are multiple jumps in time that are only noticeable because the girl goes from infant to toddler to adult. Though none of this is explained or even acknowledged. Seriously if you had looked away for a minute you might not even realize that it is supposed to be the same character. I’m also not entirely sure why the Demon is so obsessed with her because she apparently was just a few miles away growing up and he didn’t go looking for her, though he sure as hell wanted her captured or maybe dead at the start and at the end. Why? I wish they would have tried to explain that.

Now this sort of odd narrative is fairly common in Kung Fu movies. But what is unforgivable for this kind of flick is terrible fight choreography, which we sadly get here. There aren’t that many fights and what we do see are not put together or presented in an engaging or interesting way. I had hoped for the occasional bit of Kung Fu to spice things up but instead they are as boring as the rest of Wolf Devil Woman. Movie you had one job that could have saved the day… and you failed!

Toss in some bad dubbing, even for a movie from this genre, as well as some odd costume choices (she wears a stuffed animal on her head) and you end up with a painfully slow way to kill an hour and a half. I’ve seen much better and hope to cover some of them for Crappy Movie Reviews in the future. Until then all I can say is skip this one. You will thank me.

 

© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Monday, September 26, 2022

October 2022 marathon


Every year I do an October movie marathon where I watch all sorts of spooky shit. I revisit classics from my favorite directors like John Carpenter and George Romero while also trying to mix in some new stuff. I've been saving some newer flicks for this year's marathon so it should be a good time. I hope to watch at least one flick a day for the entire month. So keep checking back in to see how I've been spending my time. 

As I've already mentioned I do this every year so if you are interested click the links below for previous marathons. I think my all time record is 73 movies. Lets see if I can break that record this year. 

October 2017 marathon

October 2018 marathon (special zombie edition)

October 2019 marathon

October 2020 marathon

October 2021 marathon


October 2022 Marathon

October 1st 

Movie 1: House on Haunted Hill (1959) - No better way to start the marathon then with some Vincent Price. Check out my full review here

October 2nd

Movie 2: Curse of the Kraken (2020) - Every October I like to pick up at least one movie that pops up on the shelves at my local Walmart. Normally it isn't great but I keep hope alive by continuing the tradition. Click here for the full review if you dare!

Movie 3: Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015) - This has been on my list of movies that I watch every October since it first came out. I get that some folks don't dig humor in their zombie movies but I like it. Check out the full review here

Movie 4: The Mist (2007) - It has been a while since I checked out this recent monster movie masterpiece from Steven King and director Frank Darabont. I love the Lovecraftian monsters that menace the cast. I love this one. For more check out my full review

October 3rd

Movie 5: The Seed (2021) - This just popped up on Shudder so I thought I'd give it a watch. Supposed to be about a bunch of influencers headed out to an isolated house. I'm already rooting for the "evil". For the full review click here

Movie 6: The Last Man on Earth (1964) - Day three of the marathon and I needed more Vincent Price. This is an under appreciated adaptation of Matheson's I am Legend. Price has to carry the movie and he does so with ease. 

October 4th

Movie 7: The Thing from Another World (1951) - I need to watch this movie every October. This is one of the all time best creature features ever made. The isolated setting, great creature design, and wonderful cast make this a ton of fun to watch. Check out my full review here

Movie 8: The Legend of Hell House (1973) - This is one of the best haunted house movies ever made and it stars Roddy McDowall as a medium and survivor of a previous attempt to investigate the house. Written by Richard Matheson this is a great movie. You can read my full review here

October 5th

Movie 9: Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre (2015) - This was a new to me movie that I watched for the Shitty Shark Show. I guess that I had to include at least one shark movie in the marathon, so where we go. It also checks the Jim Wynorski box as well. 

Movie 10: Tremors (1990) - I have loved this movie since being lucky enough to have caught it during it's theatrical run. The cast is fantastic with my favorite being Michael Gross as Burt Gummer. Also this year it is a bit sad with the passing of Fred Ward. Check out my review at this link

October 6th

Movie 11: Deadstream (2022) - This one popped up on Shudder and I had to check it out. I'm not a huge fan of the influencer thing but I just had a decent experience with The Seed so why not take a chance on this one. It ended up being a lot of fun. 

Movie 12: Isn't it Shocking? (1973) - I thought I'd dig into a made for television horror/comedy starring Alan Alda and Ruth Gordon. I've never heard of this one before but I'm excited to check it out. This plays more like a mystery then it does horror, but there is a body count so I guess it fits. 

October 7th

Movie 13: The Fog (1980) - This John Carpenter flick is one of the coolest ghost stories ever! I love the cast, the setting of the small town, and the twisted story behind the spirits that come to visit. For my full review click here

Movie 14: Flesheater (1988) - I haven't watched this movie from Bill Hinzman (NotLD's cemetery zombie) in years. I know it is cheesy as hell but I'm hoping it is as much fun as I remember. This time of year I always like to dust one off like this and give it another viewing. 

Movie 15: The Cat and the Canary (1939) - I like to watch either this or The Ghost Breakers every October. And every year I feel the need to explain why I'm including a Bob Hope flick in my marathon. Guys this is spooky and fun. Check out my full review at this link

October 8th

Movie 16: The Raven (1963) - It was time for some Roger Corman in this marathon so I thought I'd do something a bit different and unexpected. The Raven has an amazing cast with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Jack Nicholson, and Boris Karloff! Plus the script is from Richard Matheson. Check out the full review at the link here

Movie 17: The Deadly Mantis (1957) - This is one of my favorite monster movies and one of the best of the '50s giant bug flicks. It is a must watch every October. Check out the full review here

Movie 18: Hubie Halloween (2020) - I need some silly in my Halloween movie marathon and since this came out a couple of years ago nothing has quite scratched that itch like this one. The cameos are awesome as all of Adam Sandler's friends show up. Also R.I.P. Ray Liotta.

Movie 19: The Midnight Hour (1985) - This made for television flick has always been a personal favorite of mine. It was almost impossible to find for years but is now on YouTube. I recommend giving it a watch. The story is sweet and there are a lot of familiar faces in it. Check out my full review here

Movie 20: Goosebumps (2015) - If you are new to my marathon this one might surprise you. But I'm a big fan of family friendly stuff as well as gross out and brutal horror. This is an entertaining flick that I saw in the theater. I enjoyed it then and now. 

October 9th

Movie 21: Prince of Darkness (1987) - I needed more John Carpenter in the marathon. Prince of Darkness is one of those Carpenter movies that took a while to find it's audience, including me. It has grown on me over the years. So much so that I couldn't think of an October without watching it. Check out my full review here

October 10th

Movie 22: Old People (2022) - This German horror movie showed up on Netflix. It has an interesting hook where old folks start to get homicidal. Maybe if those damn kids would just turn the music down... heh. I reviewed it click here for my thoughts. 

Movie 23: Raven's Hollow (2022) - This is one of the movies that Shudder released on streaming for Halloween. It has something to do with Edgar Allen Poe being a West Point Cadet. Seems like a creepy fun idea. You can check out my review here

Movie 24: Ghostwatch (1992)- This is another tradition that I have enjoyed for several years. This was a BBC original about a live television event where people get to watch a reporter investigate a haunted house while a studio show talks to experts and takes calls from the public. 

Movie 25: Gargoyles (1972) - This is one of my favorite made for television movies and one of the creepiest. The creatures from this one scared the heck out of me as a kid. Such an amazing design on the budget. Check out my full review at this link

October 11th 

Movie 26: Day of the Dead (1985) - Romero was the best at zombies and I always check out his movies during October. I know that I'm doing them out of order, but this is the one I always start with. Check out my full review here if you want to know why I love this movie so much. 

October 12th 

Movie 27: The Crawling Eye (1958) - This is one of my favorite '50s alien movies. This one is British, which is important because you want to watch it under the title of The Trollenberg Terror. There were some things cut from the US release. Either one is killer! Check out my full review here

October 13th

Movie 28: The Blob (1988) - I haven't watched this one in years. Needed to check it out again as I remember really digging it. This is one of the better remakes that were made in the '80s. I reviewed it for the site with this viewing. Check it out at this link

Movie 29: Eight Legged Freaks (2002) - Damn this movie is twenty years old! I remember when this came out and I fell in love with it as this was a solid creature feature. It has a great cast including a very young Scarlet Johansson. Check out my full review here

Movie 30: The Crazies (1973) - I love this movie. This is my favorite non-zombie Romero movie. It feels like a bridge between Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead... at least stylistically. Check out my review here for more. 

October 14th

Movie 31: Piranha (1978) - Joe Dante knocked this Jaws inspired monster movie out of the park. Shot on a budget he relies on some old school tricks to bring them to the screen. Also the cast is full of "B" list all-stars. or my full review click here

October 15th

Movie 32: Amityville Island (2020) - A Mark Polonia flick... joy. I had to watch this for our podcast and since it is technically a horror movie I figured I'd include it in the list. I think I just saw all the stuff that happens in the movie flashing during the opening credits. Well this should be fun. 

Movie 33: The Curse of Bridge Hollow (2022) - This is the latest Netflix family friendly Halloween movie. I'm hoping they knocked it out of the park again. Could this be a new October tradition like Hubie Halloween? I hope so. 

October 16th

Movie 34: Fiend without a Face (1958) - I had to dip into another '50s gem with this one. One of ten better and for the time gruesome entries into the aliens invading genre. It has a classic reveal that most fans will recognize even if they have never seen the movie. Here is my full review. 

Movie 35: Blasted (2022) - This Norwegian sci-fi flick is a new one that popped up on Netflix. I always like including some new stuff in the marathon and this is a perfect include. At least I hope so. 

October 17th

Movie 36: Zombie (1979) - Zombie movies are my favorite kind of horror flick. Followed only by slasher flicks. While not Romero big three good Fulci's first foray into the genre is a legit classic. For more details you can read my full review here. But really how have you not already seen this?

Movie 37: Winterbeast (1992) - This showed up on Shudder so I thought I'd give it a chance. Not sure what I've gotten myself into but a minute or two in I have some latex practical effects and a stop motion monster. Check out my review here

October 18th

Movie 38: Evil Dead (1981) - What can I say about this one? A classic and a must watch every October. It might be a little earlier than usual but I needed some good stuff. Check out this link for the full review I wrote a couple of years ago. 

Movie 39: Dead Before Dawn (2012) - I remember liking this one when it first came out ten years ago. Damn it I can't believe that it was ten years ago. Decided to check it out and see if I still dig it. To find out if I did check out the review here

October 19th

Movie 40: The Return of the Living Dead (1985) - This is another flick that I need to watch every October. Great music, iconic zombies, fun cast, and lots of gore make for a great time. Check out my full review at this link

Movie 41: The Mad (2007) - It is time for my 2nd favorite Billy Zane movie. The Mad is a zombie comedy that is way better than it has any right to be. Check out my full review from a few years ago at this link

Movie 42: Maximum Overdrive (1986) - No one can convince me that any horror movie has ever had a better soundtrack then Maximum Overdrive. Maybe it isn't the greatest flick ever made... but I'll be damned if it isn't one of the most fun to watch. Can't have Halloween without some mechanical mayhem set to AC/DC.  I finally reviewed it here

October 20th

Movie 43: V/H/S/99 (2022) - This showed up on Shudder and I had to check it out. I liked the most recent of the series. Who doesn't like some oddball shot on video fake '90s stuff? If you want to read more about my thoughts on this one click here

Movie 44: Birth of the Living Dead (2013) - I like to mix a documentary into the marathon. This one is about the making of and what inspired Night of the Living Dead. It has some Romero interview footage that I've never seen. This makes me happy. 

October 21st

Movie 45: Elvira's Haunted Hills (2001) - Watched this on Joe Bob Brigg's The Last Drive-In. Been wanting to check this one for a while so since Joe Bob is playing it I'm in. Hoping for some goofy comedic horror silliness. 

October 22nd

Movie 46: The Food of the Gods (1976) - I have always liked this one and decided to toss it into the pile of stuff for this October. Bert I. Gordon directs a giant critter attack movie. Yeah I know... a real shocker. I finally got around to a proper review which you can read here

Movie 47: Return of the Living Dead II (1988) - I always check this out in October, normally as a double feature with the original. Since I've already watched it I figured I should check this one out. This is my second favorite zombie flick from director Ken Wiederhorn. Check out my full review here

Movie 48: The Stick (1988) - This is an interesting movie from South Africa about some racist soldiers destroying a village and killing everyone. They are then haunted by the ghosts of their victims. Don't ask me where I found this as it was sitting in my to watch pile. I think it has been there for a while. Here is my full review for this one. 

Movie 49: The Thing (1982) - This is another must watch for me this time of the year. I can't imagine I need to explain why but if you have any questions check out my review at this link

Movie 50: Tremors II: Aftershocks (1996) - The sequel to one of my favorite monster movies ever! This has even more Burt Gummer and stars Fred Ward. Nothing to complain about here. For more you can check out my review at this link

October 23rd

Movie 51: Zombie Island (2018) - This Chinese zombie movie was on TUBI so I figured why the hell not. Sometimes I question my movie life choices. It is supposed to be a horror comedy... but not scary or funny. It was free to watch and I'm thinking I spent too much. 

Movie 52: The Living Idol (1957) - This is a new one to me. I pride myself on having seen most of the output of the fifties when it comes to Horror and Sci-Fi but this one has escaped me. Time to make amends and see what is up. Wish me luck. Well here is my review. 

October 24th

Movie 53: Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995) - This is another must watch fun horror flicks that is always on my radar this time of the year. Billy Zane chews some scenery and the always reliable William Sadler, Dick Miller, and CCH Pounder are great. Check out my full review here

Movie 54: Feast (2005) - I had a chance to catch this in the theater during it's limited theatrical release and loved it. Holy shit I just realized that Aunt Gladys from Eight Legged Freaks is in this! Check out my full review here for more. 

Movie 55: Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1972) - This quirky zombie movie from director Bob Clark is a must watch for me every October. I love this one for so many reasons. My full review is here if you are interested. 

October 25th

Movie 56: Terror Train (1980) - I don't think that I've watched a slasher for the marathon yet. Terror Train is a good place to start. Jamie Lee Curtis stars in this one and I think that this might be the last non-Halloween flick she did in the slasher sub genre. You can read my full review from a few years ago here

Movie 57: Night of the Living Dead (1968) - George Romero is my favorite filmmaker and this is where it all started. This was my first serious horror movie and it spawned my love for the genre. I'm the nerd I am today because of this one. You can check out the review I wrote a few years ago here. 

October 26th

Movie 58: Evil Dead II (1987) - I have to watch all three of Rami's classic Evil Dead flicks every October. I've got the first one in so it was time to check out this follow up that is also sort of a remake with more slapstick comedy bits. Check out my full review at this link

Movie 59: Army of Darkness (1992) - It seemed like a good idea to follow up Evil Dead II with this one. This franchise is unique in the further they go the goofier it gets. You can read my full review at this link

October 27th

Movie 60: Piranha 3D (2010) - It has been a while since I checked this one out. It was Kyle's pick for this weeks Bloodbaths and Boomsticks podcast. I remember digging it when it first came out and hope that my amusement continues. 

Movie 61: Night of the Demons (1988) - This Kevin Tenney flick is another of those movies that I always watch this time of the year. I've got a review from a few years ago that I'll link here but the short of it is that this movie is a blast!

Movie 62: Night of the Living Dead (1990) - This is legitimately one of the best remakes every made. They tweaked the classic story under the watchful eye of George Romero and then upped the gore. I really wish that Tom Savini had directed more movies. Check out my full review here

October 28th

Movie 63: Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) - I love this movie and have never understood why it didn't get a sequel. It is a blast, the creatures look great, the theme song is catchy... see what I mean? For more you can check out my review at this link

Movie 64: The Return of Dracula (1958) - I haven't watched this one in years. I've been meaning to check it out again and figured why not add it to my list for this October's marathon. I hope it is as fun as I remember. 

Movie 65: The House of Seven Corpses (1974) - This is a movie that I sort of like. It is flawed but has enough spooky stuff going for it that I dig it. Still I don't watch it every year, though this year I wanted to include it in the marathon. Here is my full review for more details about what I think of The House of Seven Corpses.  

Movie 66: Night of the Creeps (1986) - This Fred Dekker flick is another one that I like to catch this time of the year. Though it seems that this  and Monster Squad take turns each year. That said I may still need to watch Monster Squad. Check out this link for my full review. 

October 29th

Movie 67: Halloween Ends (2022) - I've been wanting to watch this and see how they finish it all off. I picked it for the Bloodbaths and Boomsticks podcast. 

Movie 68: Slither (2006) - I love this movie but realize I don't always take the time to watch it this time of year. Not only is it a funny movie but it is also a badass creature feature. For more you can check out the review I wrote a couple of years ago here

Movie 69: Tremors III: Back to Perfection(2001) - I needed more Burt Gummer in my marathon. I love these movies. I know that they get cheeper as they progress thru the sequels but fun is fun... Check out my full review here

October 30th

Movie 70: Shock Waves (1977) - Can't have too many zombie movies in the marathon. This one is another old favorite of mine. It has a wonderful cast and a compact well thought out story. Check out my full review for the movie at this link

October 31st

Movie 71: Planet Terror (2007) - I love this movie. I know that all the fake Grindhouse stuff isn't everyone's cup of tea and it hasn't aged well, but this is a bad ass zombie flick. Lots of blood and gore with some funny gags and one-liners. 

Movie 72: Halloween (1978) - This is the classic that inspired much of what became the horror genre. John Carpenter is a genius and this movie is a prime example of that. Beautifully shot and spooky as hell. If you need to hear more check out my full review

Movie 73: Halloween II (1981) - This is how you do a sequel folks. It picks up at end of the original and continues the night as Laurie gets taken to the hospital and the authorities try to find the now missing Michael Myers. Check out my review here

Movie 74: Friday the 13th (1980) - Well I have a new record beating the old one of 73 movies in October. I had some extra time before the big finale so I thought it was time for some Savini effects in this grandpappy of bloody slashers. You can check out my full review at this link

Movie 75: Dawn of the Dead (1978) - Time to wrap up this year's marathon with my favorite movie and hands down the best horror/zombie movie ever made. This is one that I always try and save for the last day of October. You can check out my full review from a few years ago here

Hard Rock Zombies (1985)

This is a movie that I passed up in the aisles of my Mom and Pop VHS store many times. It had great box art but something about the pictures on the back gave me the feeling that the art was all that it had going for it. More than three decades later I finally decided to bite the bullet and spend a couple of hours seeing if I made a good decision all those years ago.

The movie kicks off with a couple dudes in a convertible picking up a pretty hitchhiker. They stop at a nearby pond and go skinny dipping. While this is happening, a weird dude is taking pictures while a couple of little people are running around. Wait… HOLY SHIT that is Phil Fondacaro! Okay now I’m a bit more interested. The hitchhiker kills the guys and then the action shifts to a band playing a show. After the show is over their manager sets them up with some groupies to take pictures showing they are living the rock-n-roll lifestyle. Everyone except for the lead singer who seems above it all. He meets a girl named Cassie who warns him to skip the next town/show they are playing. Seems the town of Grand Guignol isn’t too friendly.

Of course, they ignore her warning. While on the way into town they meet the hitchhiker, and she takes them home to meet the rest of her weird family. They also head into town long enough to piss off the super conservative locals with their badassery… I guess. They get tossed in jail aka. a barn but get sprung only to go back to the hitchhiker’s family home where they get murdered by the various family members. Before that though Jessie, the lead singer, gives Cassie a copy of a tape where he plays a song that he has figured out will raise the dead. Why? Reasons, I guess! Okay to be fair they were being chased by a killer. She plays it and they come back to life to get some revenge on those who murdered them. Unfortunately, everyone they kill becomes a zombie and kill more folks who also become zombies. We have an outbreak situation here.

Is that enough plot for you? Don’t worry there is more. The hitchhiker and her murderous family are hiding a big secret. They are all Nazis and Grandpa is Hitler, while Grandma is Eva Braun. And for some inexplicable reason she is also a switchblade wielding werewolf as well. After killing the band Grandpa Hitler decides he is done hiding and fires up the gas chamber again. I kid you not. They take the time to explain this on a tour with the bands manager who he is trying to recruit. Zombie Hitler and zombie werewolf Eva Braun… and yet the movie still sucks.

Originally conceived as a twenty-minute short to be used within another movie Hard Rock Zombies feels stretched out beyond the material. The pacing is terrible as I don’t think they had much more than some ideas they thought would be funny and tossed them together. This leads to horrible pacing as the movie spends way too much time on not one, not two, but three extended mini concerts. The music isn’t horrible, but I just wasn’t’ interested. In case you are wondering it is more pop than hard rock. They also decided to include and extended gag with a town hall meeting to ban rock and roll followed by them smashing records. Let me reinforce that the town has nothing to do with the main story of the band and Hitler’s extended family. See what I mean when I say they just tossed a bunch of shit together?

Now this next part is going to make me sound a bit… sensitive I guess is the right word. I like a tasteless joke as much as the next guy but almost all of the comedy in Hard Rock Zombies comes from them trying to milk the whole Hitler is alive and then a zombie thing. They are even poking fun at the holocaust a bit with the oven and gas chamber gag. Maybe if that was a one off tossed in to shock and then moved on from it might have worked. But the filmmakers keep going back to that well until it gets somewhat uncomfortable and certainly not funny. In the end none of the attempted humor landed with me which only made the movie even more tedious.

There are a bunch of kills that are okay and clearly done on a low budget. A head gets ripped off, a spike is driven thru a throat, and someone dies by weed whacker. The best gag has to be one of the zombies eating itself. Why did it do this? I guess for the laughs. Speaking of the zombies there is zero gut munching or over the top gore. The design of the undead is very basic and we don’t see a single elaborate makeup job.

Hard Rock Zombies fails as a zombie movie. It also fails as a comedy, which the filmmakers billed it as. The pacing is awful, nothing much happens that is slightly interesting or memorable. This one is a chore to get thru. Why the hell is this movie an hour and thirty-eight minutes long? But Phil Fondacaro is in it so we have that. Really don’t waste your time on this garbage. There are way better ways to waste your time.

 

© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Friday, September 23, 2022

I Drink Your Blood (1970)

How have I never reviewed my favorite drive-in movie for the site? I Drink Your Blood checks all the cheesy boxes for a good time. What are those boxes you might ask? Well, I’m happy to share with you.

The movie takes place in a small town that is dying. Almost everyone has left except for a woman who runs a local bakery, a grandfather, and his grandkids as well as the workers at a nearby jobsite. The bakery is only open to help feed the men working and living nearby. To this scene comes some groovy hippy/satanists lead by their charismatic leader Horace Bones. When we first see the group, they are naked and performing a ritual involving a chicken. A local girl, Sylvia, is spying on them. They catch her and it is implied that she is assaulted in the most heinous of ways. The next time we see her she is nearly comatose and wandering into town.

Eventually Grandpa finds out what happened to her and goes to get some payback or maybe just scare them off with his shotgun. They overpower him and force some LSD into the old guy. He makes his way home and now the younger brother is down to get some payback. Pete has worked with his grandpa, who is a vet. So, he knows to kill a rabid dog and then inject some meat pies with its blood. They feed them to the hippies and then you get a bunch of homicidal, bloodthirsty, hydrophobic, crazy people running around. One particular lady from the group gets really friendly with the workers at the job site and you can add them to the problem. Things get bloody before the movie ends on a bit of a vague but satisfying conclusion.

Have some rabies with your meat pies!
I’ve always loved I Drink Your Blood and consider it a perfect example of what made these low budget drive-in movies awesome. The story is fast paced and easy to follow. You have some weirdo hippies show up. They do crazy stuff like the infamous rat hunt (not for the squeamish) so that you know right away there is something very wrong with them. There is the hint of rape, which sets up the revenge part of the movie. The acting is already over the top but once the characters get rabid it goes even crazier. Folks are chased around with swords, hatchets, and yes severed heads. No one is safe from the disease as it is spread with a single bite or any other exchange of bodily fluids. Of course, that explains the sleaziest part of the flick where the one lady gets naked and the fellas at the work site take turns. As you can see the movie leans into over-the-top exploitation. That is exactly what I want in a flick like this.

For a movie made in nineteen seventy the gore is damn explicit as the blood flows freely. We get a gruesome stabbing followed by amputation. Some guts hit the floor, a nice lady loses her hand, a strangling, another rabid hippy torches themselves, a shotgun to the face, and a sword comes poking out of a mouth. Though my favorite must be the pregnant lady realizing her baby is doomed and taking a handy wooden stake to her uterus. The blood is very theatrical and bright red, but that only adds to the charm. Think an H.G. Lewis flick with just a bit less restraint! Heck I didn’t even mention what we thought would be the heroic lead losing his head and having it carried tossed around for the last few scenes.

All of this winds up with a vague ending where you think that one of our survivors and the love interest of the surviving male lead is probably infected. Also Pete is seen wandering off aimlessly into a field. What does that mean? Maybe he is toast as well? Normally I’m not a fan of this sort of thing but here it works. If you haven’t seen I Drink Your Blood before do yourself a favor and track down a copy. This is at the very beginning of the golden era of low budget over the top decade of the seventies and because of that is a must see. I love this movie!

 

© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

First Men in the Moon (1964)

Time for some classic science fiction here at the site. This movie is based loosely on the H.G. Lewis novel of the same name. Things kick off in the “present” of the sixties as the first manned mission to the moon lands. They promptly discover a flag from Victorian England that claims the moon for the queen! Those in charge back on Earth do some digging and find a man named Bedford in an old folk’s home. He tells them a tale from decades earlier about he and his companions traveled to the moon and returned.

Bedford is living in a cottage trying to finish his great play when he fiancé Kate arrives. The pair end up entangled with Professor Cavor who lives nearby and warns them he is doing some dangerous experiments. Basically, he has discovered an element that cancels gravity and with this he has planned a trip to the moon. Bedford mortgages his cottage, which turns out not to be his, to finance the trip. To do this he has Kate sign a lot of documents that leaves her holding the bag. Yeah so our hero is a bit of a con man I think. They make it to the moon where Bedford immediately responds to the locals, an insect like race that lives below the surface, by killing a bunch of them. Quick questions, are we supposed to like the hero? More things happen before Bedford and Kate make their escape leaving the professor behind because he wants to try and work with the aliens.

Nothing quite as fun as composite shots
This is a bit of fun science fiction from the mid-sixties that I’ve always enjoyed. Though I will admit that it takes a while to get rolling as they don’t even leave for their trip until the forty-five-minute mark. Before that we get a lot of character development. Now that I’m older I found myself not liking the character of Bedford that much. He is less a charming rogue and more of a hustler. Luckily, I still think that Lionel Jeffries as Professor Cavor is still a great character. This is helped by a subplot of him trying to explain to the alien race about mankind’s propensity towards war and violence, or more accurately apologize for it. This is from Wells’ original writing and I’m glad it was brought over. As a kid I never much noticed but now it is obvious to me that Wells was trying to make a point.

What wasn’t in this book and seemingly was lifted from War of the Worlds is the fate of the aliens on the moon. Professor Cavor his sneezing a bit here and there and when the astronauts finally arrive to the subsurface city, they discover that everything is deserted with the inhabitants long dead. I guess the moral to the story is to not bother trying to make friends and understand each other because you will just end up killing them with the common cold! This is a much darker and depressing ending then I remember. It doesn’t fit the more upbeat fantasy vibe that the rest of the movie sets up. I found it all a bit jarring.

Ray Harryhausen was awesome!
Hands down the best part of First Men in the Moon are the special effects. The sphere in which they travel to the moon has a cool steam punk vibe that works perfectly. The aliens are brought to the screen with some decent costuming and masks. We get some solid composite shots establishing the action on the moon. But the absolute coolest stuff is the stop motion effects work from the legendary Ray Harryhausen. We get some great insect creatures as well as a killer giant caterpillar that I think may be a bit carnivorous. I love old school special effects and it doesn’t get any better than this man’s work.

In the end despite the flaws in the story and pacing I’d still say it was worth checking out the movie for Harryhausen’s work alone. I know that isn’t a glowing endorsement of First Men in the Moon, but I think that it is an honest one.

 

© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Badass Monster Killer (2015)

Jimmy Chevelle is the monster killer mentioned in the title. He rolls around Camaroville killing all sorts of Lovecraftian horrors while scoring with the ladies. It’s okay though because he works for the Department of Supernatural Security which gives him his badge and gun! Thru a series of flashbacks, we see that his former partner was murdered by a cult lead by the most evil of dudes the Reverend Dellamorte. Their latest plan is to summon the bride of Cthulhu while cornering the weed market so they can distribute a special blend that will encourage the citizens of Camaroville to join their cause. Jimmy and his various lovely sidekicks must stop the bride and save the day. Even if he gets kicked off the force.

There is a lot to like about Badass Monster Killer and a lot that goes sideways. The good stuff is that they totally nail the dialogue and characters. This is a blend of Blaxploitation and Mythos monsters done on a budget. There is a groovy vibe, and it is a bit repetitive but silly fun to watch Jimmy dropping the same pickup line on different ladies before killing the bad guys and taking them back to his pad for some grown up time. This isn’t being played seriously but for laughs and honestly it works well. I liked the cast, and the actors have some chemistry with one another. Plus, it is clear that they are having fun, which is a must for a flick like this. We also get many pretty women in skimpy outfits as well as some topless ladies in the few scenes set in strip clubs. Hey, the bad guys even have topless dancers, which really is a must have for any secret lair in my humble opinion.

I was shocked at how the various Mythos creatures are accurately named and the job that the filmmakers did to bring them to the screen. Who the hell knows what a Shoggoth looks like, other then a Lovecraft nerd like myself that is. They did a decent job with the creature design and by God it is latex and rubber. We also get a spine ripped out, a fun looking bride of Cthulhu complete with he “squid chin”, and some cool body melts as the “acid titties” take their toll. There are a few shots with puppets and some miniature work that I thought was a lot of fun. I dig it when a movie tries to give me some old school effects.

Sadly, there is also a lot of badly done CGI here as well. Giant monsters stomping around, heads popping off, and many kills are cringeworthy. I get the lack of budget and can forgive the above but then they double down. Most of the movie is shot on a green screen with a comic bookish looking city scape behind them. Hell, most of the movie was likely show with a green screen and a few bits of furniture used to dress the different “sets” which are again just green screen and not actual locations. This feels like a flick that was shot completely in a warehouse. I can forgive some bad effects work but at least have some sort of gritty locations to shoot scenes in. The damn movie is almost completely set in a sketchy strip club/cultists hideout and in an alley. Would that have been too terribly difficult?

Too much greenscreen for me
The other thing that sort of bugged me was the length of the movie. This is a fun gimmick, but it will wear out its welcome sooner rather than later. This flick clocks in at a surprising hour and thirty-six minutes! Why? There are a few characters that could have been deleted and jokes that didn’t need to be revisited. For example, the dumb investigators that keep popping up only to get their noggins ripped off aren’t necessary. Same goes for his inspector who brings nothing to the story. One of the things that I notice with a lot of low budget filmmakers is that they either edit the movie themselves or hire someone as equally invested in everything they shot. You could have told this story with a lot tighter runtime, which would have helped immensely. Cut fifteen minutes and this is a way more fun experience.

Now I didn’t hate Badass Monster Killer. It was a fun mashup that treats both the subgenres (Blaxploitation and Lovecraftian Mythos) with respect. But perhaps they were a bit too ambitious with their available resources and needed an editor to cut things down. Still, I’ve seen much worse and think that there enough going for it to check out the movie.

 

© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Friday, September 16, 2022

Samaritan (2022)

I’m not going to lie. When I saw this show up on previews for what was coming to Amazon Prime it got me excited. Of all the action stars from the eighties Stallone has aged the best, or at least still manages to pull off the roles. The dude is in his seventies and still plays a believable badass. That is saying something. Given that he was going to try his hand at a superhero story… well let’s just say I was looking forward to this far more than anything Marvel has been teasing.

Stallone portrays Joe, a garbage man with a secret. Living in a city under siege by a gang led by Cyrus he tries to keep his head down. Cyrus was inspired by a supervillain named Nemesis to create chaos and to take down the government and financial powers that be. The aforementioned supervillain died in a climatic fight with Samaritan, the city’s hero, who also disappeared and was presumed dead. That said many, including a kid named Sam, believe that Samaritan survived and has been hiding. After being saved by Joe and seeing what he can do Sam confronts him and they become friends. Events lead Cyrus to find out that Samaritan is alive, and he decides to use Sam as leverage to finish what his hero Nemesis started. He will bring down the city and kill the hero.

Being that this is such a new movie and one that I think is worth checking out I’m going to be very careful about what I spoil here in the review. I will let you know that there is one big twist that I saw right away. But it didn’t take away from how much fun I had with the movie. I was impressed with the pacing and while we have all seen this sort of story before there is enough action that things never get old. Basically, they keep the interesting stuff coming so you don’t get a chance to overthink what you are watching. The villain, Cyrus, is played decently enough to be memorable, though his henchmen are generic. Stallone does a solid job bringing Joe to the screen. The guy has gotten the “I’m old and tired” reluctant hero down to a science and does that again here. No one does that sort of grizzled old guy character better then him.

The fights are so well done... loved them!
The action sequences are choreographed well and unlike some other superhero flicks Samaritan’s fights feel far more realistic than I would have thought possible. When Joe gets mad, he starts snapping necks and killing the baddies without mercy. This leads to some great bits with a flipped car, some hammer action, and the best shrugging off of bullets that I’ve seen on screen. My personal favorite was him doing away with one of the henchmen by jamming a grenade into his chest and walking away. This also reminded me that he, Stallone, has some decent one liners that made me laugh.

I understand that Samaritan might not be everyone’s cup of tea. As a big fan of Stallone, I’m likely giving the movie a pass on some stuff. For example, the final showdown between Joe and Cyrus falls a bit flat. We get a lot of build up without a lot of payoff. The ending also is a bit confusing as they try and jam a “you have to make the difference” message/lesson as the final takeaway. I don’t think that is setup and would have liked to see it more pronounced throughout the rest of the story. In the end while not a perfect movie I still think that Samaritan is worth a look and can be a good time. 

 

© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Wonder Women (1973)

It has been a while since I got my drive-in movie mojo going here at the site, so I thought since I’m taking a break from my most recent marathon I’d get back to the good stuff. This flick starts off with some topless ladies swimming and then doing karate. This feeds into a montage of them kidnapping world class athletes and smuggling them to an island where the dreaded Dr. Tsu uses them as spare parts to fix what ails her wealthy clients. Need a set of eyes or maybe some new legs… she has what you need… for a price!

One of her most recent acquisitions is a Jai Lai player who is insured by Lloyds of London for a cool half a million. The company brings our hero Mike in on the recovery, and he starts to unravel what is going on. This is with the help of his side kick Lapu-Lapu, played by Vic Diaz. When the local mob run by Won Ton Charlie fails to kill him on Tsu’s orders, she sends one of her lady assassins after him. But old Mike is way too sexy for her and eventually she leads him to the hidden island where there is a big showdown. Much Kung-Fu is done, bullets are shot, and the requisite basement of freaks is released to go on a killing rampage. That is about all one could ask from a movie shot in the Philippines.

Let me preface my review with the following. This is not a great movie. The actions sequences are silly, the acting is a bit wooden, and the story is goofy. Objectively there is no reason that I should have loved this as much as I did. But I love these shot in the Philippines flicks so much. They have a certain charm where the filmmakers just go for it, regardless of if they have the budget or a cohesive story to tell. Here the story is straightforward and simple in that sort of men’s magazine two fisted adventure style. The ladies are lovely, bed the fellas, and can’t resist their utter manliness leading to them betraying their bosses. Totally cheesy in that awesome drive-in “B” movie fashion that puts a smile on my face. There is always something interesting on screen and I was never bored by it.

Vic Diaz! This guy was awesome.
The cast has a lot of familiar faces that worked in the Philippines. I’ve already mentioned Vic Diaz, who was a legend and appeared is so many great movies. Here he has a decent part and gets to play second fiddle to our hero. Mike is played by Ross Hagen, who did quite a few flicks overseas and was a solid actor in “B” movies. Nancy Kwan is great as the deadly Dr. Tsu. I also recognize at least one of the lady assassins from the Women in Prison flicks made around the same time. Though my favorite is an unexpected appearance by the legendary Sid Haig as Gregorious, Dr. Tsu’s business partner, That dude can pull a ruffled shirt off like no other.

We also get some generic monsters that sort of play a part in the end, as well as some spare organs floating in jars. But this isn’t one of those that is going to lean heavily into the horrific aspects of things. Again, it is more about the action sequences, including a car chase where lots of crazy shit happens, including a great stunt with a guy getting hit by one of the cars. Only this wasn’t a stunt as they didn’t close or control the streets as they were shooting. The folks running away from the taxis weren’t acting and neither was the guy who got hit by the car! Now that is guerilla filmmaking.

I had a blast with Wonder Women and highly recommend anyone that is into these actors or the drive-in movies of the seventies to track themselves down a copy. I guarantee you will have fun with it.

 

© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Monday, September 12, 2022

The Cape Canaveral Monsters (1960)

I pride myself on having watched most of the horrible movies put out in the fifties and early sixties, but The Cape Canaveral Monsters eluded me. Hell, I never even knew it existed until my friend Pete was talking about it. He hooked me up with a copy and of course I dove in at the first opportunity.

There are aliens trying to sabotage the U.S. space program by shooting at the rockets with a special ray gun. They can’t survivor or at least interact with our world, so they inhabit the dead bodies of a couple they killed in a car accident. We also find out that they freeze humans to transport back to their home world for study, but that process is difficult, and many are destroyed by the process. Sounds good so far… right? Well don’t get your hopes up.

Sally is the niece of the German scientist that is running the rocket program and she has eyes for a mathematician named Tom. But Herr scientist doesn’t like the idea of his niece dating someone working on the project, so the pair sneak off with another couple, Bob and Shirley. They run into the aliens, one of whom has an arm that won’t stay on his stolen body. This is important later. Some science stuff happens, then some alien stuff. Eventually Bob is used for spare parts (the arm) and Sally is frozen for transport. Tom and Sally also get caught but are rescued by the army and then some stuff happens with explosives and the world is saved.

This movie is only an hour long and it was a slog to get thru. The story is paper thin, and I never understood the shifting motivations of our invading aliens. They act like it is a big deal for them to travel, but then just pop home for a consultation. They are super smart, but don’t understand that the radium on our watch faces (used to be a thing) is the super precious material that they use to unlock and turn stuff on and off. How am I supposed to be scared of aliens that don’t even do the tiniest amount of prep work? The humans aren’t much smarter as our characters keep walking into traps and do the dumbest things. If they had a script here it wasn’t thought out at all.

Action packed Alien invasion
The pacing also is terrible. The movie is filled with stock footage of rockets and guard shacks because why spend money to shoot anything when you can get it for free. When we do get new footage a great deal of it are various characters walking around here and there aimlessly. But I’d rather watch that then the cast try to stumble thru their dialogue. Are you beginning to catch onto how bad that this one is?

I will give the movie some credit for a couple of gags with the severed arm. They have the actor tuck it behind him while another hidden actor sticks his arm out of a window. This as well as a couple other tricks worked decently enough to get my attention. Sadly, it is lost in an otherwise mess of a movie.

Probably no surprise here but I’m not recommend you spend your time or money on The Cape Canaveral Monsters. This may be the worst of the fifties science fiction movies that I’ve sat thru and trust me there have been some real turkeys.

 

Ó Copyright 2022 John Shatzer

Friday, September 9, 2022

It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)

This movie finds us watching the crew of an American nuclear submarine on maneuvers in the Pacific. The sonarman lets them know that something is shadowing them and then accelerates to intercept the sub. They are grabbed and stuck fast no matter how much they push the engines. Rocking back and forth they finally get free but when they look, they notice something odd stuck to the hull. Something biological!

One of our three main characters is the sub commander Pete. When he goes to see what the scientists think we meet the other two. Dr. Carter and the lovely professor Lesley Joyce. Hint… she is the love interest! The three of them get swept up in trying to convince the military that a huge octopus is out there wrecking ships and killing folks. Then after it has become obvious it is up to them to sort out how to stop it before it wrecks San Francisco. Yeah, this is the movie where the giant octopus destroys the Golden Gate Bridge. Who wins and who dies? Let’s just say there is a special on calamari for the foreseeable future.

This is one of those monster movies that I grew up watching as a kid. It was on heavy rotation with our local horror hosted programs, and I always dug it. The story is very simple but delivers the goods with enough creature mayhem to keep me occupied. The cast is filled with decent actors, and I have to say that the beautiful Faith Domergue, playing Lesley, was certainly interesting to an adolescent me as well. Kenneth Tobey as the sub commander Pete was also the first time that I noticed an actor in more than one role. He also starred in one of my favorites, The Thing from Another World.

The highlight of It Came from Beneath the Sea then and now is the monster. This is brought to the screen with a combination of rear projection and stop motion animation. These old school special effects always make me smile, especially when they are done well. Considering that the legendary Ray Harryhausen was responsible for the monster and the models it crushed it is no wonder that I loved this one so much. If you are looking for a fun creature feature, you could do a lot worse than this.

So far I’ve mostly talked about what I loved about the movie as a kid growing up. While I still dig it, I must be honest and admit that this time around I noticed how much stock footage was used. We get lots of jets, navy ships, and various ordinance expended in pursuit of the creature thanks to grainy footage of the real thing. Most of this is narrated which only goes to make it even more obvious. I was surprised to hear that It Came from Beneath the Sea was a lower budget movie, but that does explain a lot. Rumor is that the octopus in this movie only had six tentacles to save money. It didn’t ruin things, but it also bumps it down a bit from the other classic Harryhausen flicks that are out there.

This movie is well worth checking out. If for nothing else than the iconic attack on the Golden Gate bridge. Whenever you see a documentary discussing the fifties and sci-fi movies that is always in the mix. Might as well check out where it came from.

 

© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer