Leonard Part 6 (1987)

Leonard Part 6 (1987) movie poster

director  Paul Weiland
viewed: 10/17/2018

As it’s October, I’ve been on a long run of horror movies. I thought to shake it up with a “horrible” movie.

There may never have been a good time to watch Bill Cosby in Leonard Part 6, but in 2018, any Bill Cosby product reeks more than ever before.  Leonard Part 6, an awful movie starring someone who turned out to be a horrible monster person, is tremendously unfunny.

The world of Leonard Part 6 is an original concoction of Cosby’s, in which he’s a world class spy, retired to running a restaurant, brought back to fight a woman who controls animals’ minds. Tidbits of this might have had possibility, but Leonard’s is a fully undeveloped world and he’s a fully undeveloped character.

That said, it’s annoying and awful but not grade-A junk cinema. It was a notorious bomb and now with his legacy forever hued by his horrible crimes, a definite miasma of gross permeates it.

Still, I might still consider it a garbage must. A horrible movie bucket list item that I’m glad to have crossed off and will never have to revisit.

The Devil Rides Out (1968)

The Devil Rides Out (1968) movie poster

director Terence Fisher
viewed: 09/30/2018

Christopher Lee and Leon Greene (an English Rod Taylor, am I right?), are demonic party poopers most foul in Terence Fisher’s The Devil Rides Out.  Why do you guys want to spoil Mocata’s (Charles Gray) Satanic bacchanal? Even a pretty cool goat headed devil guy shows up.

Richard Matheson adapted the Dennis Wheatley novel from which this came, apparently a personal project for Lee for whom the film would continue to be a favorite of his own works.

Satanic movies continue to intrigue me as a subgenre, in part because growing up in Florida in the Seventies and Eighties, they were not part of the typical stuff shown on TV.  Devil worhip flicks are also, ironically, the most Christian-themed horror genre, though potentially subversively. By having the embodiment of Christian evil as the realized horror, and by proxy the embodiment of Christian “good” as the power that conquers, really validates the Christian viewpoint, does it not?

But devil worship horror did not fly on the Southern TV channels in my day and area, I am pretty certain.

Cool stuff.

Creepshow 2 (1987)

Creepshow 2 (1987) movie poster

director Michael Gornick
viewed: 08/19/2018

I really had no recall of seeing Creepshow 2 before watching it just now. And even as I watched it, I didn’t experience the déjà vu that can arise when watching something that you had forgotten you’d watched before. Oddly, that déjà vu came later as I contemplated the movie, the more it seemed familiar. Now I’m almost certain I saw it back in the day, somehow, some way.

Creepshow 2 is Creepshow‘s much weaker cousin, though it does sport a George A. Romero script, adapted from Stephen King stories. The spirit is willing but the sauce is weak. Weak but not devoid of fun.

Poor FX hamper “The Raft”, seemingly everyone’s favorite segment. 

The animation is indeed atrocious.

The Prowler (1981)

The Prowler (1981) movie poster

director  Joseph Zito
viewed: 07/26/2018

The more I delve into classic slashers, the more I realize that most of my previous “back in the day” experience was tied to the  bigger franchises, rather than the one-offs and unique individual films. It’s another argument against corporate franchises, in my book. No matter the individual qualities, these one-off slashers have something unique about them.

Absolutely, The Prowler (1981) shines brightest around the FX work of Tom Savini. Seriously vivid viscera and evisceration.

But there is definitely more than gore to The Prowler. Director Joseph Zito and cinematographer João Fernandes effect some amazing sequences. That swimming pool death scene might well be the most aesthetically beautiful death in the genre.

I also liked the some of the little bits and pieces, like the hilarious scene with the fat hick cop pretending to check on the sheriff, while really just goofing off.

Nice stuff.

The Babe Ruth Story (1948)

The Babe Ruth Story (1948) movie poster

director Roy Del Ruth
viewed: 04/05/2018

“He cured a crippled child by simply saying ‘Hiya, kid.’”

The Babe Ruth Story is an old school bad movie. In fact, it’s the second oldest on the ever-evolving Wikipedia page of “films considered the worst”, a list that I feel compelled to work through, though hewing much more to the earlier than the more recent.

But really, it’s not nearly as bad as you might think. Mostly.

It’s a chipper sports legend life story, adapted from Ruth’s own ghost written autobiography, released as the Babe was dying from cancer (he died three weeks after release). It’s goofy and good-natured, if hardly trying to portray reality. And starring William Bendix, Claire Trevor, and William Frawley, it’s not light on talent.

That said, its most hilariously ridiculous moments are legendary for good reason. The Babe didn’t die for our sins, but does have a Christ-like ability to cure others by just saying hi to an invalid, or rescuing a dog he hit with a foul ball (“Please don’t let Peewee die, Babe. You said you wouldn’t.” ), or hitting a home run for a kid too weak to open his eyes (“Babe, don’t forget Johnny!”).

Even as he is dying from cancer, the Babe also risks his life to try the newfound treatment of chemotherapy to save the lives of other sick kids for all times.

I kinda liked the big lug. The movie, I mean.

 

Black Magic (1975)

Black Magic (1975) movie poster

director Ho Meng Hua
viewed: 03/17/2018

My first thought while watching 1975’s Black Magic was “Not very sanitary putting that blade in your mouth when flaying a corpse.”

Oh but Black Magic is all kinds of unsanitary. And plenty of that weird and wacky Hong Kong sleaze and mysticism that delivers imagery more incongruous and odd than expectation could allow.

For my money, Tien Ni steals the show as the conniving (and connived upon) Luo Yin, millionairess who gets what she wants, and by that token, I suppose, gets what she deserves in the end. The love potions bought and sold here are indeed costly affairs.

Thoroughly enjoyable and influential but not as out-and-out crazy as others to follow.

Zaat (1971)

Zaat (1971) movie poster

director Don Barton
viewed: 03/04/2018

Was ist Zaat?

“Filmed enitrely on location in Florida.” Florida trash is the best trash.

It takes a truly mad Nazi scientist to transform himself into a half-human half-walking catfish creature that doesn’t look a bit like a catfish. And then to look in the mirror and recognize that he doesn’t really look how he thought he would but to be still okay with it and then go and try to mutate all aquatic life into something new with his formula.

Of course, it’s a lonely life for the world’s only walking catfish-man, so he needs to abduct pretty girls to try to mutate into a mate for himself. And kill people at random as well.

Zaat is a notoriously bad movie, a “best worst” movie truly among the pantheon of bad. From concept to execution, it’s super silly and strange, in an utterly Floridian sort of way.

Myra Breckinridge (1970)

Myra Breckinridge (1970) movie poster

director Michael Sarne
viewed: 03/04/2018

Myra Breckinridge is a hot mess, maybe the original hot mess.  Hot, however,  like an unevenly microwaved potash might be.

In its day, it was a spectacular car wreck of a movie, a big budget adaptation of a touted novel by Gore Vidal, called at the time a novel that could never be filmed. This no doubt had more to do with its story about a man who undergoes a sex change operation and then comes back to Hollywood to upend the traditional male identity in as many ways possible.

In the film, Rex Reed becomes Raquel Welch (a scenario that if medicine to actually perform, a lot more folks would be up for sex changes). It plays out as knowing modernist comedy, arch, though not really camp, or maybe it’s more of an imitation of camp?

More than anything, it’s a mess. I don’t know how the novel plays out but in the film, Myra’s politicized and erudite criticism of the movie industry, patriarchy, sexism, a whole spectrum of topics, culminates in her raping a bland, good-looking actor with a strap-on. That scene is pretty horrific and played for laughs?

Most people wound up blaming director/co-writer Michael Sarne for the box office bomb. Sarne was thrown into the deep end on the picture, a cavalcade of drama and craziness on set. But he manages some interesting stuff as well, using classic movie images and sequences to comment comically on the story.

To my mind, Myra Breckinridge is indeed a mess, but an interesting one. For one, I thought Raquel Welch was great. Mae West’s rendition of “Hard to Handle” might be second place in the nadir race next to the rape scene.

An interesting spectacle and a hot mess.

Invaders from Mars (1986)

Invaders from Mars (1986) movie poster

director Tobe Hooper
viewed: 02/03/2018

Invaders from Mars, in which Tobe Hooper directs a 1986 B-movie remake of a 1956 B-movie. I give it a B minus.

Invaders from Mars may not be Hooper’s finest moment, though it captures him in a very conscious homage to Atomic Age science fiction. In fact, it draws some visual elements directly from the 1956 flick by William Cameron Menzies. In fact, the whole film is very in keeping with the original’s perspective, a space loving kid (Hunter Carson, here in 1986.)

Carson stars alongside his mother, Karen Black, who in the film is actually his school’s nurse. But when Carson’s parents (Timothy Bottoms and Laraine Newman) get taken over by aliens, Black surrogates him in what otherwise seems a vaguely odd and cozy fashion.

Even with Stan Winston and John Dykstra designing critters and Dan O’Bannon helping with the script, it’s hard not to feel somewhat cynical as the film devolves into truly child-like (child-ish?) fantasy towards the end.

Best scene: Louise Fletcher swallowing a bullfrog.

 

The Battle Wizard (1977)

The Battle Wizard (1977) movie poster

director Pao Hsueh-li
viewed: 01/19/2018

As a kid, I was never won over by martial arts flicks. They were almost nutty enough for me, but I never saw one that really blew my mind or even fulfilled whatever it is I needed fulfilling in such fare.

I guess that is because I never saw one with laser fingers, lobster-armed villains, snake projecting women, or guys with stilt chicken feet. Once you start getting into the more phenomenal fantasy stuff, that’s when I start looking around for a martial arts studio that can teach me to fly.

The Battle Wizard may not be the best of the wacky fantasy martial arts stuff, but it’s certainly got enough of it to endear itself to one. That and a breakneck pace that will have your eyes all aflutter.