The Bad Movie Report

The Bad Movie Report January 9, 2000

Show, Vol. 5


Although I identified several of the movies as hopelessly obscure, leave it up to Greywizard to supply me with info on them - what do you expect from the man who runs The Unknown Movies page? You'll find his comments in the appropriate place.

I love trailers. They're my favorite part of going to the movies, now that they don't show cartoons anymore*. I have been known to get visibly upset when I arrive too late to see the trailers. Now you might be pondering (and rightly so) But Doctor - shouldn't the feature be your favorite part? Leaving alone the can of worms answering that question would open, let me say this: I know what the movie is going to be - the trailers are usually a surprise, and often a delightful one. How often can you truthfully say that about the feature?

There are several companies that do trailer compilations out there - my personal favorite is Something Weird Video. In fact, I am planning on being very good this year, so Santa will bring me every movie Something Weird Video currently carries (note to self: make sure wife reads this week's review). They have several lines of trailer compilations, but the best for our purposes is their Dusk to Dawn Drive-In Trash-O-Rama Show series, for obvious reasons. These tapes pack together the coming attractions of what seems like every exploitation movie ever made, from Black Belt Jones to Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World to Werewolves on Wheels. Ah, my misspent youth!

Tonight we're looking at Volume 5, because frankly, it astounds me. There are movies so obscure on this tape, even I - who live and breathe this bizarre fringe stuff - have never ever heard of. I'm not going to go through every preview - I don't have a month to write this column! - but we'll hit the high points. So to speak.

Things start off with a bang with:

  • Slaughter's Big Rip-Off - And what a telling title! Jim Brown played the guy who's not John SSlaughter's Big Rip-Off!haft once before, and with the opening of Shaft's Big Score, well, Slaughter's sequel had to come. Lots of action in this one. Looks like the Mob tried to kill Slaughter, but only got his lady instead, and now HE'S MAD!!!!! And who's the guy trying to whack my man Slaughter? ED MCMAHON!!!! Yes, ED MCMAHON!!!! Ooooh, Mr. Publisher's Clearing House is gonna wish he was out knocking on somebody's door with a big FomeCore™ check when Slaughter catches up with him! Lots of bullets flying, and Richard Williams (as Joe Creole) wearing at least one of the suits modeled by Fabulous in Sugar Hill. This one does what trailers should do: I wanna see the movie. NOW.
  • Book of Numbers at least looks interesting - in the 20s or 30s a pair of black drifters start a numbers racket in a rural Blood Suckers!town and soon bigger gangsters, both black and white, are looking to move in on their racket. Klansmen are beaten up, which is always a plus. Okay, so it's a low-budget Sting one-off, but it shows creativity. And a young Philip Michael Thomas, here simply Philip Thomas.
  • And one thing a time capsule like this does is take you back to a time when a book called The Happy Hooker could be a bestseller, and get made into a movie starring Lynn Redgrave. The narrator assures us, "It's sexy, sure... but it's also funny, sad, and very, very human."
  • Another bestseller of the period was The Sensual Man, a sex how-to book. The movie The Sensual Man, however, is a sex comedy starring Giancarlo Gianinni. God only knows what its original title was.
  • Bloodsuckers is apparently a re-titling of Incense for the Damned, aka Doctors Wear Scarlet. It features an embattled Peter Cushing and an embarrassed looking Patrick Macnee, who is wearing a neckerchief apparently borrowed from Freddy in Scooby Doo. The final frame of the trailer freezes so the announcer can tell us Bloodsuckers will be accompanied by Blood Thirst, and the management will not be responsible for nightmares caused by watching both films. Um hm. Right. The editing on this is pretty choppy, and doesn't exactly raise your hopes for this "blood-curdling gruesome twosome".
  • The Not-So-Wonderful Land of OzI'm very glad that there is a trailer for The Wonderful Land of Oz on this tape; I had almost convinced myself that it had been an hallucination of my sugar-jiggered childhood. But no, here it is, the very same spot I saw on TV. The pumpkin-head dude and the Wogglebug look okay, but the sets and costumes make Santa Claus Conquers the Martians look like The Phantom Menace by comparison. Acting and camera-placement: dreadful. This looks like a high-school pageant put on film. Please, please, Dear Lord, let this movie be sitting in someone's closet, somewhere. If I could have any movie ever made in the whole world magically appear in my hands, it would be this one. It is that unbelievable.
Guru, the Mad Monk! And look! There's Guru, the Mad Monk, which features, despite its medieval setting, a young starlet with an undeniably '70s hair style (short and feathered)! This preview only serves to remind me that not only have I not reviewed an Andy Milligan film, I have also never even seen one! This is a lapse in my education which must be remedied, and soon. (Future Freex weighs in: Yeah, okay, so I did remedy it, and with Guru, no less. It wasn't that bad. Which isn't to say that it was any good, either)
The Bang Bang Kid is a Spaghetti Western Comedy which features the usual tyrannical bad guy lording it over the western town, even building himself a castle! Tom Bosley (Tom Bosley!) is a traveling medicine man who has built a robot (!) called "The Bang Bang Kid", who is the fastest gun in the west. Hilarity will surely ensue. A lot of dialogue shots are used, but this trailer is unsullied by a speck of dialogue, just narration - the mark of a bad trailer. The Bang Bang Kid!
  • A whispering voice asks, "What is....The Rubber Gun?" A mid-70s counterculture hero does counterculture things like driving around with a baby doll tied to the grille of his car, walking down the street pretending to shoot people with an imaginary gun, and generally messing with people's heads. There something about a drug deal gone very wrong, with either the Man or the Mob stepping in, and the voice keeps whispering "What is...The Rubber Gun?" Let's see....
  • I had thought it impossible to find a worse comedy western - or trailer - than The Bang Bang Kid, but The Double-Barreled Detective Story manages to embody both. Supposedly "Based on a story by Mark Twain", there's something about a boy detective, gunslingers and a chesty saloon gal (always in evidence when the narrator yelps, "A Double Barreled Detective Story!" har har). Imagine Manos the Hands of Fate if it had been a Western, a 'comedy', and shot in black and white. Well, that's A Double Barreled Detective Story.
  • Psycosissimo is some manner of Italian sex comedy with some murder and a bit of black humor that the narrator assuresMother Goose A .... AAAAAAGH! us is "something completely new in film entertainment....a light-hearted spoof of Psycho!" "A rare combination of thrills and laughter, to calm your nerves!" There's some rampant hilarity with a plastic skeleton, and lots and lots of dialogue scenes.... with no dialogue.... and precious little narration! You see, whoever brought over Psychosissimo apparently also bought the Italian trailer. No need to dub that, too, however, noooooo, that might have cost money. So over every piece of dialogue is a tape of some ominous music and a woman screaming. It's lifted from somewhere in the movie, as there's a couple of syllables of dialogue left in the tape loop that they didn't bother to trim out. The one instance where the dialogue scene is punctuated with a yawn, the ominous music drops out suddenly, and the actual movie sounds play for a moment, including jaunty sex comedy music. Easily the worst trailer in the collection, perhaps ever.
  • In The Sell Out, some professional assassin wants to kill Oliver Reed. Richard Widmark is Ollie's pal who's pissed Ollie isn't dead yet. A lot of Volkswagens explode. I would have seen this movie if it had been double featured with a horror movie, or something with Student in the title and 'R' in the rating.
  • Don't Hang Up is one of those Terrorize The Woman films, with an anonymous caller talking in a drawn-out whisper (so drawn out these scenes probably added ten minutes to the running time). The trailer is most notable for falling prey to the tendency of most trailers in these things to be missing the first or last few seconds: an angry, ominous voice says, "Now you listen good, 'cause I'm only going to say this once...." and then goes on to the next preview.
  • Which is Something to Hide, a low-key British thriller starring Peter Finch and Shelley Winters that actually looks good.

The Embalmer!





The Embalmer recaps (in black and white) some scenes from a movie we've seen just three or four previews before - The Monster of Venice. Embalmer is by far the better preview, with much more footage of the title character and his creepy skull mask. Doubled with She-Beast, which features lots of screaming Barbara Steele and more Volkswagen destruction.
  • Explosion features meaningful re-creations of Viet Nam violence in the leafy glens of America*. Don Stroud plays toreador with a sports car. See The Rubber Bullet, above.
  • Candidate for Killing - Oooooh, Italian spy thriller! Supersuave guy! Cute Chick! Sweaty right hand man! At least I think that's what's involved... all I really remember is a lot of guys in fezzes getting beaten up. Many movies, I feel, can only be enhanced by the inclusion of the noble fez.The Sinister Monk!
  • Mother Goose A Go Go - AAAAAAAAAAAA! TOMMY KIRK! RUN! AAAAAAAAAAAA! Oh, sorry, it's "Tom" Kirk. I guess this must be one of his serious, thoughtful roles. The number of girls in bikinis bears this out. It is, after all , "A Far Out Film for the In Crowd!" and producer Jack H. Harris assures us it is in "Blushing Color".
  • The Sinister Monk is apparently one of the many German-lensed Edgar Wallace mysteries that proliferated through the 60s. Scotland Yard does its best to catch the titular masked killer, who likes to walk around in a monk's habit, which has the effect of inserting a costumed super-villain into an episode of NYPD Blue. Featuring the many scenic windmills of England!
  • Fez!A Reason to Live, A Reason to Die - James Coburn, Telly Savalas and Bud Spencer do The Dirty Dozen way out West, with an end cribbed from The Wild Bunch. Presented by K-Tel International, those wonderful folks who also brought you Mr. Superinvisible and Top 20 Groove Hits.
  • Operation Yellow Viper is a German-Italian co-production, so it's not about super-spies, it's about super-Interpol agents, all trying to track down The Yellow Viper. OYV also introduces "the cuella... the new dance craze!" which had even less longevity than the lambada. As it was shot in scenic South Africa, the movie features a fellow in a fez.
  • Pet!Daggers Drawn - the legendary spy/murder mystery featuring singer Petula Clark. Which is all I managed to carry away from this trailer.
  • The Last Gunfight is a Japanese crime drama starring Toshiro Mifune at his most handsome as a crime lord who is introduced while slapping the hell out of his henchmen. There's some sort of love/hate/respect relationship with a cop (oh, yeah, like The Killer was the first movie to pull out that twist), and a lot of gunplay. The trailer is punctuated with a lot of urgent, pithy title cards like LAW OF THE GUN! CITY OF TERROR! BLOODY HATE! I'm not left with a desire to see the movie, but it looks good.
  • The Emerald of Aratama seems to be an Italian desert adventure, as Rory Calhoun is a two-fisted archeologist searching for the tomb (and treasure) of Princess Aratama. So is a disreputable bandit chieftain. And some guys in fezzes! Most notable is the big gunfight between the egyptologists and the bandits: as Calhoun is an American Western star, he's the only one weilding a lever-action rifle. Everybody else has carbines. I especially like the one archeologist who is calmly continuing to smoke his pipe while picking off those dastardly bandits.
  • Bloody Hate!Honey Baby Honey Baby is another attempt to launch a new Pam Grier. Diana Sands looks great running around and firing guns in her chic white gown, but I'd have to see the rest of the movie to give you an honest opinion of her. The narrator informs her that "You and trouble have integrated!" This is the same narrator we heard in Slaughter's Big Rip-Off, and a slew of other blaxploitation trailers, amusing and infuriating at the same time, because he's obviously your typical white voiceover guy trying to sound "black". The trailer also has one of the better laugh lines in the compilation, as Calvin Lockhart, who's been getting Honey out of trouble tells her, "You happen to be the most out-of-sight sensational black chick I've met in years. You remind me of my mother."
  • Vault of Horror? Wait a minute! I recognize this one!
  • Shoot 'em!"Ty Hardin is....RAGAN!" Ragan is also, we are told, bold, action, and adventure. Not to mention a mercenary with a code of honor, or so the narrator informs us. Well, let's get down to brass tacks: in all the "blazing action scenes" we are promised, bad guy soldiers trot in a rather easygoing manner right into the line of fire; hand to hand blows obviously fly above and in front of their targets, but seem to have the desired effect anyway; and a machine gun fired sloppily over a 20 degree arc wipes out every bad guy over 180 degrees. "RAGAN is...." badly made.
  • Swamp Girl features gators, mud wrasslin', the "eerie beauty of the Okeefenokee Swamp", and the acting debuts of Country and Western singer Ferlin Husky and Simone Griffeth, who would later go on to co-star in a little flick called Death Race 2000.
  • Thomasine and Bushrod is a another period blaxploitation piece featuring Vonetta McGee and Max Julien as a turn-of-the-century black Bonnie and Clyde duo. I'm not sure where they got the wild West pimp clothes, however. Damned if this doesn't warrant a look. "Thomasine and Bushrod: partners in crime... and love!"

There's more - there's several Spaghetti Western trailers (a couple still in Italian!); Women of Devil's Island, a period Italian women-in-prison flick (I had no idea that female convicts still wore those frilly reformation gowns while incarcerated); A couple, like Scream Bloody Murder and Satan's Playthings simply provide white text crawling across a black screen, assuring us that scenes from the movie would be too shocking and terrifying to show, but the movie would soon play uncut at this location; and so forth.

Oh, it's a treasure trove alright. There are some minor problems. One Italian oat-burner, Find a Place to Die, is deemed so good, we get to see it twice. And it is my understanding that trailers are impossible to copyright, so why is that piracy-busting SWV "bug" constantly in evidence in the lower right-hand corner, as if I were watching network TV?

Like I said, minor. The Dusk to Dawn Drive-In Trash-O-Rama Show tapes provide easy access to a delirious time when anybody, it seems, could make a film distribution deal, and we gathered like tribes at the drive-in, staring at the Great White Screen and trekking across the darkened wilderness of cars to the snack bar. When we weren't (ahem) otherwise engaged, that is. Do I really miss this time? Hell yes! While I don't miss the constant hormone poisoning of my brain, I do miss the seemingly endless variety of cheap entertainment and the strange feel of the drive-in experience, at once communal, yet private.

The last drive-in I managed to attend was seven or eight years ago, when the last drive-in in Houston closed down, its land to be used for another Walmart. I watched The Addams Family and Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country. And every single trailer.

There was a strange moment there, at the last - I'm one of those people who watch the end credits. Always have been, always will be. When the credits for Star Trek faded, I realized I was the last car in the lot. All the other screens had long ago ended their movies. It was odd to thread my way through the rows of artificial hillocks one final time, even missing the dodging of speaker stands that used to be your lot while leaving. I drove very slowly. I felt like I should have closed a gate on my way out, or something.

Enough of this wispy nostalgia, he said, dabbing at his eyes. I gotta go find a copy of Slaughter's Big Rip-Off.



Be me for two hours.

- January 9, 2000