director James Sbardellati
The best thing about Deathstalker is the poster by artist Boris Vallejo. I’ve always thought it was cool.
Light in tone and occasionally comic, the world of Desthstalker is pretty rapey. But there’s also creatures and magic, mud wrestling, and lots of 80s T&A.
Roger Corman wound up producing nine flicks in Argentina, of which Deathstalker led the way. It was followed by other sword and sorcery stuff, the flooding wake of Conan the Barbarian (1982).
“Deathstalker” himself, Rick Hill, doesn’t exude a lot of charisma. Not like Kaira (Lana Clarkson, who would find her brief heyday in this spate of B-movie fantasy junk). Deathstalker also features Barbi Benton, a name that hasn’t crossed my mind in many a moon.
At first I was going to make it a double feature with Deathstalker 2, but I decided I had enough.
director Russell Mulcahy
I recall seeing Highlander in the theater back in ’86. I don’t recollect what I knew about it beforehand, but I believe I liked it and may have gone back to see it again.
That said, I hadn’t seen it in decades. I’d totally forgotten the Queen music.
Much like I thought back in the day, Highlander is absurd but absurdly entertaining, with some top notch cinematography to boot. The story, much like Highlander itself, came out of left field. This whole concept of immortal (except in cases of decapitation) warriors was wildly inventive, if also super silly.
The cast is fun, if bizarrely representing countries and cultures native to the actors.
I actually think the opening ½ hour is really strange and surprising. The narrative strategy doesn’t tell you much of why some guy at a wrestling match suddenly goes down to a parking garage to pull a sword and battle some other dude. Just when you think there doesn’t need to be exposition, you get it in the middle in which the it comes gets hammy and silly.
I’d argue that silliness is a big part of its charm.
director Héctor Olivera
Now we’re sharing the same dream
Boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs”
Way more entertaining than you’d imagine, Barbarian Queen is most notable for its star, Lana Clarkson, and sadly that is due to the fact of her murder in 2003 at age 40 by Phil Spector.
And that’s a shame. Clarkson isn’t necessarily star material but she does have that je ne sais quoi. She’s tall (6’0″), gorgeous, as well as very spry and athletic in her fight scenes (Wikipedia says she did all her own stunts.)
This 70 minute action/adventure fantasy Exploitation flick may be her best cinematic legacy. I speculate.
Those 70 minutes are pretty packed with fights and rapes and boobs and blood and killing. Barbarian Queen would have made a good time at the drive-in in 1985.
Probably the most notable scene is when Amathea (Clarkson) is tortured. She kegels clamps her rapist torturer’s penis until he submits to releasing her. Impressive.
director Scott Zakarin
I’m late to the game on the Creating Rem Lezar funfair. But better late than never.
Apparently, in earlier times of ye olde internet, people had to post clips from this direct-to-video children’s odyssey oddity, because back then you couldn’t get the whole thing on YouTube. Well, nowadays, you can see the whole thing there, in its ripped from VHS glory and its astounding astoundingness.
Is there anyone who has watched Creating Rem Lezar who didn’t think “stranger danger”?
I don’t have much to add to the Creating Rem Lezar dialogue, other than to wonder if there was anyone who actually saw it back in the day, as a target audience kid, and what they thought at the time.
director Barry Mahon
“My, what a peculiar looking creature you are.”
Barry Mahon’s first foray into low-budget kiddie flicks, following a robust career in Exploitation movies of various stripes, The Wonderful Land of Oz is a fabulously bizarre creation. It stars his son, Chan at Tip in a relatively faithful interpretation of L. Frank Baum’s first sequel to the legendary The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (oddly enough, the only one of those books I’ve personally read.)
What makes this pretty largely demented is the production itself, cheaper and wackier than the lowest of community theater productions. It starts with a terrifying purple cow before introducing s Mombi, General Jinjur, Jack Pumpkinhead, H. M. Woggle-bug T. E., the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, Ozma, Glinda, and the Gump.
The quality of the musical numbers are oddly slightly above all else. Though, Ack, Chan Mahon’s singing.
Surely Oz has been done better, but this wonky, low budget fantasia is a marvel of chintz and accidental darkness.
director Roberto Rodríguez
“All the people that live in the witch’s house are really weird.”
Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters was apparently a sequel to a couple of other Mexican children fantasy films, and so, it starts out running wild. The “Queen of Badness” as she is dubbed in American has a bevy of henchpeople from robots to Frankenstein and a vampire and even a pinhead. And she is ready to punish the wolf and the ogre for having helped Little Red Riding Hood (María Gracia) and the dickish Tom Thumb (Cesáreo Quezadas) in previous times. So those two heroes must come to her creepy forest and rescue the captives, with the help of Stinky, the skunk.
Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters is demented and sublime with is mixed bag of knock-off villains and aesthetics and its nonchalant heightened danger. The evil witch prays to Satan. One of the generic villains is a kidnapper with a huge net. And on the more ribald side, the skunk farts in the kidnapper’s face.
Oh my goodness, I loved this.
director David DeCoteau
“Cheese puffs wafting across a pool deck. Two families enjoying each other’s gifts. Yes, things are working out much much better.”
I made my teenage daughter sit through this one with me. I’m sure that is a violation of the Geneva Convention.
I think Eric Roberts had a stroke during readings.
Former child actor Johnny Whitaker and former Playboy cover model Kristine DeBell head up this wonder of awfulness.
Strangely, the cat doesn’t talk all that much. Though A Talking Cat!?! is most entertaining when he is. Or getting magically resurrected.
director Damon Packard
Genius? Not genius?
Who am I to decide?
directors Hal Roach, Hal Roach, Jr.
One Million B.C. is the very first Caveman feature film, a subgenre depicting prehistoric peoples and their adventures. It’s as corny as all-get-out and clearly absurd in ways as well.
It earned an Oscar for its special effects, which include such things as fur covered elephants as Woolly Mammoths, pigs dressed as Triceratops, alligators with fins glued to them and an armadillo with glued on horns. All of which is amazingly ridiculous. There is also a guy in a T. Rex outfit. But to be honest, the visual effects such as forced perspective and other techniques that make little things look big compared with the cavefolks, well, they are pretty impressive.
Less impressive is what can only be guessed at as animal abuse. One monitor lizard fights to the death with a finned gator, lays dying as blood pulses from its neck wound. I didn’t overly scrutinize the film, but I’d be willing to guess that more reptiles were endangered, harmed, or even killed for dramatic effects of fire and volcanoes and earthquakes.
Victor Mature is the lead caveman (TCM’s brief description of the film: “An exiled caveman finds love when he joins another tribe.”) who winds up exiled by Lon Chaney, Jr., the head of the rock clan and falls in with the lovely Carole Landis and the shell clan. What’s interesting here is that the shell clan seem vaguely more evolved than the rock clan in their more communistic sharing of food and materials. The rock clan is more grabby-grabby and the strong take from the weak in a (social?) Darwinism of sorts. I know some writers did actually try to leak in Communist themes in some films. Is this the case here?
One Million B.C. was directed by Hal Roach and his son, Hal Roach, Jr. and it seems as well with the dialogue limited to gestures and few “words” that the old Silent Film aesthetics and acting paid off for this picture.
director Fritz Lang
Recently reading that Luis Buñuel found Fritz Lang’s 1921 film Destiny the inspiration that drove him to cinema, I made the mental note that I had to see it.
I got introduced to German Expressionism in my very first film class at 17, by way of Lang’s own M (1931). It was then that I realized that all my childhood fascination with horror films and the birth of horror films pretty much dovetailed with the German aesthetic in its silent heyday. I’d longed to see The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) (often cited in those childhood texts as the first horror film of all time rather inaccurately), Nosferatu (1922), The Golem (1920), and Lang’s Metropolis (1927). I had to good luck that my mother took me to see the Lon Chaney silent films The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). Though those latter ones aren’t German or Expressionist, I had a yen for these films from a young age.
Destiny is an exemplar of Expressionism while not at all really being a horror film. The film’s main story is the heart of the film: a young bride (Lil Dagover) loses her husband to death, and she goes into the realm of death to try to bring him back. Death is a human figure (the imposing Bernhard Goetze), but he is a monster in deeds only, giving Dagover three chances to save a lover from dying. Her failures in each of the stories leads her to plead with other people to give their lives for her husband. Her final realization, when she saves a baby from a fire, is what allows her to accept her “destiny”.
While it’s not my favorite of Lang’s films or the Expressionist genre, it is a very fine film. I try to take myself back to imagining a 21 year old Buñuel in 1921, encountering real cinema for the first time. It’s little wonder the Surrealists loved cinema so much.