Invasion U.S.A. (1952)

Invasion U.S.A. (1952) movie poster

director  Alfred E. Green
viewed: 09/06/2018

While a bunch of folks watch TV in a bar, WWIII breaks out in Invasion, U.S.A., a cautionary thriller from 1952.

It’s Red Dawn for the 1950’s. Corny and comprised about 60% of stock war footage, it’s neither exactly science fiction nor Exploitation.

Quickly universal draft is invoked and Americans have to buckle down and come together to fend off big C Communism as an A bomb drops on Montana.

It’s all going to heck in a handbasket til a momentary fog lifts and we realize this has all been a scary fantasy. The weird guy at the end of the bar gets up to leave and the audience is meant to start suspecting their neighbors.

Prime Red Scare cinema, not that it’s any good.

Wolf Guy (1975)

Wolf Guy (1975) movie poster

director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
viewed: 09/05/2018

Sex, rape, drugs, rock’n’roll, syphilis, lycanthropy.

When you’re Sonny Chiba a coin can be the currency of violence. And if you can take down a gang of goons with your pocket change, who needs to actually turn into a werewolf?

Wolf Guy features supernatural revenge, weaponized wolfmen, and flesh galore. Action-packed and unloaded on the audience.

This manga turned movie genre mashup maybe should be more than it is, but it is worth a gander.

The Killing of Satan (1983)

The Killing of Satan (1983) VHS cover

director Efren C. Piñon
viewed: 09/04/2018

“Satan! Where are you? Come out and fight! You’re yellow, Satan!”

More Filipino cinematic magic in The Killing of Satan. In this one, a reformed criminal is thrust into the crazy doings of a distant family member and ultimately into a battle with Satan himself.

Crime and villainy sprout up everywhere in The Killing of Satan. And our hero Lando (Ramon Revilla) gets shot at by thugs (and he and his son killed) in the city, but when resurrected and back in the smaller island villages, the bad guys are even worse! They have magic powers and shoot lasers from their fingers and are tied to the prince of magic as well as the prince of darkness.

It’s also infused with a wacky Catholicism throughout, but certainly a fairly non-traditional version. Can you imagine if religious righteousness (or even devil worship) really worked like this?

It’s not all gold but many nuggets abound throughout: the guy squished by the boulder, Lando slapping a snake around and then ties it in a knot, the snake guy himself.

All in all, some pretty nutso stuff, but I prefer the Eddie Romero & Gerardo de Leon flicks, personally.

Unmasked Part 25 (1989)

 Unmasked Part 25 (1989) movie poster

director Anders Palm
viewed; 09/03/2018

A world weary Jason Vorhees, here named “Jackson” and played by Gregory Cox, suffers from slasher ennui in 1989’s Unmasked Part 25. The film plays as not arch parody, but parody all the same. It’s comic, but with sincerity and heart (and gore).

“Really cathartic, man.”

Being not a little meta and no doubt ahead of its time probably helped lead it direct-to-video in its day and relinquished to relative obscurity until recently.

Jackson, hockey-masked, is a prototypical slasher killer until he stumbles upon Shelly (Fiona Adams), a blind girl who sees behind his masks at the sensitive and erudite person with the badly deformed face and a penchant for killing.

While it directly plays with the slasher film, the story reckons significantly more of Frankenstein, with clear allusions to Shelley (Shelly) and Byron (who is recited by Jackson. Most specifically, it recalls the blind man scene from Bride of Frankenstein and to some extent the parody of that scene played out in Young Frankenstein.

Great makeup, gore effects, and performances highlight this unusual and highly interesting horror comedy.

Extra Terrestrial Visitors (1983)

Extra Terrestrial Visitors (1983) movie poster

director Juan Piquer Simón
viewed: 09/03/2018

Were there any half-decent E.T. knockoffs or were they all nutso psychotronic garbage? When I’d thought Mac and Me had to be the all-time E.T. knock-off, little did I know of Nukie.  Dig thine eyes on Extra Terrestrial Visitors (1983). Behold! Compare and contrast as you will, I dare you to say which one of these films is more bizarre and atrocious.

Extra Terrestrial Visitors was initially an Alien knock-off, but then E.T. happened and movie magic delivered ETV, an early 80s Eurovision mashup masterpiece of crapitude and mindfuckery.

“What a fuck up this back to nature crap is!”

I watched this not as the MST3K version which brought this movie notoriety. Perhaps more the shame to me.

And God Said to Cain (1970)

And God Said to Cain (1970) movie poster

director Antonio Margheriti
viewed: 09/02/2018

And God Said to Cain starts a little slow, with Gary Hamilton (Klaus Kinski) getting pardoned after 10 years hard labor on a work gang. But it quickly picks up, with the wind and tumult of a coming storm, both literallly and metaphorically. Antonio Margheriti stages the majority of the drama over one tornado-ravaged night in a small Western town

Kinski is the protagonist, if not quite the “hero” of the picture, slated to dole out revenge one rifle blast at a time. While not exactly “supernatural,” Kinski’s Hamilton is see as a ghost, a monster, “one miserable man,” working his way through his vengeance via outright slaughter .

And God Said to Cain does indeed play as a horror film, with an atmosphere of implacable dread and through the haunting ringing of the church bell.

Margheriti puts Kinski’s unusual visage to great use, casting the camera over planes and crannies of his face and lingering on his inscrutable  and vaguely tragic hooded eyes.

Good stuff.

Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Smokey and the Bandit (1977) movie poster

director Hal Needham
viewed: 09/01/2018

Growing up in the South (Gainesville, FL), I hated all things I considered Southern, from Confederate flags to Country music to chewing tobacco and even blue jeans. So, I had some disdain for Smokey and the Bandit in its heyday. Of course, I was young and naive and grouping things together that were not all of the same.

But even pretty far back in the day, I saw Smokey and the Bandit on TV and had to admit that it was pretty darn fun.

“Redneck Heaven.”

Smokey and the Bandit was a huge hit, grossing millions, second only to Star Wars in 1977. Interestingly, like Star WarsSmokey and the Bandit is a B-picture type of movie, pushed up into the A list blockbuster with star Burt Reynolds, but fitting into that paradigm in which genre fare elevated in status and popularity.

It’s also quite iconic in its way.

Hal Needham caught his lightning in a bottle with Reynolds and a very fun Sally Field, as well as a prime performance by Jackie Gleason. Apparently, the script was terrible and almost the entire movie was ad libbed, giving us sublime lines like:

“There is no way, no way, that you come from my loins. When I get home I’m gonna punch your mother in the mouth.”

The joyous fun is staked on a beer run from Texas to Georgia, coveting Coors for its apparent (at the time) lack of preservatives, though couldn’t be legally  brought East of Texas.

For all its embrace of “Southernness”, it feels a bit like a Hollywood appropriation of the Southern (though it was apparently extremely popular in the South.) All redneck things considered, there is a lot of trucker diversity on display in the secret society of the CB radio.

Jerry Reed is also a lot of fun as Snowman, wingman to the Bandit, who contributed as well the number that would be his biggest hit, another stroke of magical luck in the movie, the so apropos “Eastbound and Down.”

Lastly, the Paul Williams “Mini me”, Little Enos to Pat McCormick’s Big Enos could have had a whole movie to themselves.

Endgame (1983)

Endgame (1983) movie poster

director Joe D’Amato
viewed: 08/31/2018

Parts Road Warrior part The 10th Victim and maybe original Judge Dredd  or X-men comics, Endgame mashes up and masticates post-apocalyptic ideas and spews them readily all over the place.

A punk gloom looms over post-WWIII wherever we are, ruthlessly guarded by Security Services (SS) gas-masked militia, killing the mutated and the impoverished and shilling “health” supplements.

For my money, Endgame is much more imaginative and eclectic than other Italian Mad Max knock-offs. Still,  it’s 3 star movie with higher ideas and aspirations pumped through the pulpy action, deadly karate chops and all.

Though it’s a different subgenre indeed, Endgame might be a good double feature with Fulci’s Conquest.

Blood Beat (1983)

Blood Beat (1983) VHS cover

director Fabrice A. Zaphiratos
viewed: 08/29/2018

Kinda well produced but distinctly odd, Blood Beat is the Wisconsin samurai spirit slasher film that is also way more than any pat summary can deliver.

There are a lot of kinds of weird, but this is a very specific and unique kind of weird.

Blood Beat is almost giallo-like in spirit, transposed on rural WI, in the early Eighties.

Magically insane.

Regional horror is genuinely special.

Croaked: Frog Monster from Hell (1981)

Croaked: Frog Monster from Hell (1981) VHS cover

director Bill Rebane
viewed: 08/28/2018

Whether you call it Croaked: Frog Monster from Hell or Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake,  when you finally see the critter, he’s definitely a poor man’s sleestack.

Bill Rebane is a bit of a wild card, a regional horror movie creator from the depths of Wisconsin, dabbling in many a subgenre in his wacky two decade career. Here it’s the frog/fish-man sub-subgenre, of which I am hoping to become a completist.

Croaked/Rana plays out strangely, with a voiceover kicking in about 20 minutes in, and flashbacks that seem like they are still the present day. It’s really confusing, but it’s not too likely one is too committed to understanding the plot, which in this case regards an ancient race of frog people who guard a hoard of gold.

I would think this a mandatory double feature this with Bog (1979), amazingly enough, another Wisconsin frog/fishman cheapo indie.

You’re either the kind of person who enjoys this stuff or you’re not.