Saturday, March 12, 2016

Pay a visit to......Plan 9

DISCLAIMER - My blog is an attempt to show respect to films some small minded, intellectually dishonest hipsters automatically label "bad". There is no film I discuss here that I believe to be bad at all.  The title of the blog comes from a discussion that took place some years ago when I was trying to explain the appeal of these films. The title is not meant to suggest I think these films are bad in the least.  Remember - ART IS ART!

There is a reason I have to defend some films...and some film makers.  Two of those reasons are Harry and Michael Medved; two gentlemen that, to best of my research, never wrote nor produced a single film.  However, neophytes though they were, they took it upon themselves to list in book form some of the worst films ever produced in a small tome published in 1980 entitled The Golden Turkey Awards..  Certainly some of it was "tongue in cheek" , but, in their esteemed opinions, one visionary was selected to be the worst director ever (and of the worst film ever no less) - one Mr. Edward D. Wood, Jr.

I was unaware of the book in my youth, but, I don't doubt I would have enjoyed it at the time.  However, I'm certain my enjoyment would have had a great deal more to do with compiling a list of must see films than sitting on the sidelines with a self-satisfied grin while mocking the work of others.

I have in the past engaged in beer fueled rants about the brothers Medved and their snarky book only to have the person stuck listening to me say - "But, didn't they bring the work of Ed Wood to a whole new generation of people?"

Meh....perhaps. But, I'd also say it's just as likely the best selling Don Post Tor mask was doing the same thing.  And, in fact, having never seen nor read Medved book - I was certainly well aware of Ed Wood thanks to a number of other publications and the fact that, in the golden age of television...the 1980s, there were once independent television stations that had to fill time; and sometimes they filled that time with Ed Wood films.

And I loved them.

I loved them dearly.

However, in 1992, Rudolph Grey did what the Medveds could not be bothered to do and wrote a well research book about the auteur himself in the oral biography titled Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.  It was only two years later when Tim Burton's amazing film Ed Wood brought to life the Eddie the world should know.  Wisely the Burton film ended with Wood's release of Plan 9 from Outer Space...his masterpiece.  Had the film continued, there wouldn't have been a dry eye in the house when the credits rolled.

Happily, since the 90s, the mystique and brilliance of Ed Wood has become more uniformly recognized. And, thanks to a new crop of film makers and artists - a new film - a tribute to the works of Wood - has been released.

Plan 9

Written and directed by John Johnson, Plan 9 is both an amazing film and a fitting and loving tribute to Ed Wood himself.  Taking inspiration from Wood's original film, Plan 9 tells the story of an alien invasion from the perspective of the residents of the small town of Nilbog. Thanks to advances in digital technology, Johnson and his amazing cast, can now represent Wood's story in a that, I feel certain would have made Eddie pretty damn proud.

Here is where I would discuss the plot of the film in more depth - but, honestly, check the film out for yourself.  What I want to do now is give accolades to one of the best and most sincere casts ever assembled.  I would watch this cast work together on a hundred films...and then wait for a hundred more.

First and foremost, I have to mention the performance of Ed Wood regular Conrad Brooks as Jamie.  Sure, like Wood, Brooks is often written off and under appreciated.  But, this film clearly indicates Brooks, has, and I believe always had, the chops to be a spot on actor.  Equally as impressive is the work of Mister Lobo as Criswell (at least when he's on set).  If you are familiar with my blog, you already know I've written about my respect for Mister Lobo.  An unequalled visionary, writer and actor, his performance in this film is a career making turn for an artist who should have been a household name 15 years ago (IMHO).  I'll have to gush about Mister Lobo just a bit more.  See, I love genre films, B-Movies, forgotten classics and grindhouse I safely write a blog about these film in my spare time when I'm not an IT geek.

Not so Mister Lobo.  This brilliant man talks the talk...and then walks the walk.  A film lovers film lover with an encyclopedic knowledge of genre films (and all things in general), he, along with is bride and a handful of others carry the torch of people like Ed Wood for future generations.  I've not had a chance to meet him yet, but, once I've met him and Fred Olen Ray I will be have all wishes fulfilled and will happily die in my sleep (or in a drunken bar fight while channeling Charles Bukowski..don't know yet).

But the rest of the cast is incredible as well - I'm certain all of them will go on to do a great many well know films.  The cast includes Brian Krause, Matthew Ewald, Monique Dupree...and John Johnson Kelton (I love that).

I watched it on Wal-Mart's streaming service Vudu but have a copy coming for more regular monthly viewings (as this has quickly become one of my all time favorite films).  Please, check it out - and if you see Mister Lobo tell  him "Hi" for me!

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Wraith....awaits

DISCLAIMER - My blog is an attempt to show respect to films some small minded, intellectually dishonest hipsters automatically label "bad". There is no film I discuss here that I believe to be bad at all.  The title of the blog comes from a discussion that took place some years ago when I was trying to explain the appeal of these films. The title is not meant to suggest I think these films are bad in the least.  Remember - ART IS ART!

Shitballs Batman - the 80s were rife with revenge flicks - Ms. 45, Death Wish II, Savage Streets, Vigilante, The Exterminator...and tonight's classic - The Wraith.

The Wraith stands out for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, it is certainly the least graphic of the films mentioned above (although the Princess Bride would certainly be the most family friendly revenge flick of the 80s).  Secondly, short of the aforementioned Princess Bride (and Ghost), The Wraith has a supernatural twist.  And thirdly, but not germane necessarily to the subject of the film, it stars two actors who, at one time I respected a great deal...and then they decided to go batshit insane - Charlie Sheen and Randy Quaid.  

The film takes place in a state I'm not terribly fond of, although it certainly excels over the state I'm from in average teeth per mouth and obsession with Duck Dynasty - the state of Arizona.  I'm guessing about the time this film was shot, Arizona was still not bothering to observe Martin Luther King day because, well, Arizona? Who the fuck knows.  Additionally, some of the most obnoxious (and noxious) people I've ever known were either from or attended college in Arizona.  All this to say, I could completely see the events of this film taking place in this state (at least in the 80s).

You can't have a revenge flick without two things - 1.  A major league douchebag and 2. a death.  This film provides provides both in the first few minutes of the first act.  A small town in Arizona (and aren't most of them) is home to a group of essentially road pirates who, through violence, force people to race and if they lose (and they always do) they have to give up their cars.  The leader of these adorable band of ragamuffins is a tool named Packard, played with brilliance by Nick Cassavetes; the son of a couple of the most brilliant filmmakers ever, John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands.  As a child he starred in one of the his father and mother's most heart wrenching films ever - A Woman Under the Influence.  Side note - if you have not seen Woman Under the Influence - stop reading this right now, watch that film, then continue reading this essay.

Back?  You're welcome.  Yes - I know that film was a roller-coaster ride and you probably cried like a baby. Now moving on with The Wraith.

The town is so small, when a motorcycle riding Charlie Sheen suddenly appears in town, everyone acts like its Dodge City in 1870.  Also appearing at the same time is a mysterious, and fucking gorgeous, high-tech car unlike anything Packard and his band of road pirates have ever seen.  Soon Packard's cronies begin to die in each race.  

Now, I defend bad movies.  And, in fact, I don't believe the films I write about are bad - I believe them to be classics made by hard working, yet underappreciated artists.. I've loved this movie since my sitting alone by myself eating pizza and pining away in the dog  days of 1987.  But, I have to simply point out one crazy flaw. The local sheriff played spot-on, as usual, by Randy Quaid, seems to have no issues with people essentially have their car's stolen, threats of violence, rape, stalking or any other of the myriad of crimes committed by Packard and his gang.  But, when Packard's gang starts dying off while racing a mystery car, then the sheriff turns into fucking Clint Eastwood.  Nevertheless, no one plays a potentially morally ambivalent law man like Randy Quaid.

As the story goes into Act 2, we discern who the Wraith is, his connection to Billy Hankins (portrayed by Matthew Barry) and how he plans to seek his revenge.

I'm the first to admit, this film might not be the classic it is today were it not for one of the greatest casts ever assembled.  The film not only stars Cassavetes, Sheen and Quaid, but also Sherilyn Fenn, Clint Howard (brother of Ron Howard), Griffin O'Neal (son of Ryan O'Neal) and some purely amazing work by Jamie Bozian and David Sherill as Gutterboy and Skank respectively.

I watched the film on Hulu and the transfer was pretty clean.  I'm sure it's available on other streaming platforms as well.  Completely random memory, I rented the tape of this film in November of 1987 from the Schnuck's grocery store in Cape Girardeau, MO - the Arizona of the midwest (just kidding....I guess).

By the way all - if you like what you read (or don't actually) Leave a comment or drop me a line.  It's been a bit quiet lately.

The Rotten Tomatoes Link for the Wraith

The IMDB page for The Wraith

And for crying out loud - watch this beautiful film.  It will change your life.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Night is right for....Night of the Demon

DISCLAIMER - My blog is an attempt to show respect to films some small minded, intellectually dishonest hipsters automatically label "bad". There is no film I discuss here that I believe to be bad at all.  The title of the blog comes from a discussion that took place some years ago when I was trying to explain the appeal of these films. The title is not meant to suggest I think these films are bad in the least.  Remember - ART IS ART!

It was so much harder to be a genre fan in the 80s.  Sure, you could find lots of great movies at the Mom and Pop video shop, but, it was hard to distribute the word about a great film when you found one.  Not so today - social media has certainly made getting recommendations for films much easier; that is especially the case with the film I discuss in this essay - Night of the Demon.  Unable to sleep a few weeks ago I took to trolling Twitter and thanks to @badmoviesunday1 I discovered a film I'd never even heard of - and then proceeded to have playing non-stop on my PC for the next few days.

One of the things I find most interesting about Night of the Demon are the similarities between this film and the equally unusually titled Shriek of the Mutilated.  Both films center around Big Foot, involve a college professor and his students performing research in an isolated environment.  Each also have rather shocking endings.

In my opinion, Night of the Demon is the more "over the top" film however. Unless someone had their penis ripped off in Shriek of the Mutilated and I missed somehow.

Night of the Demon follows Professor Nugent and his band of students as they head out to track down a mysterious Big Foot creature or the conspiracy keeping the truth hidden.  Once there, there investigation leads them to witness an odd religious rite where a woman appears to in danger of being raped.  Professor Nugent and his students scare off the locals and then began to uncover a mystery involving a lady written off by the town locals as "Crazy Wanda" - who may have been raped by Big Foot and gave birth to a deformed Big Foot baby.

Read that last line again. Yep.

Stylistically the film is intriguing because most of the "documented" attacks discussed by the professor and his students are told in flashback. In fact, for the gore hounds out there, it is the flashbacks where the damage the beast can inflict is indicated.  Although how a huge monster could be hiding in the bushes and separate a man from his penis is not entirely explained.  Nor do I care - the film is simply too wild for me to concern myself with minor details.

If I have a complaint, it is just that the flashbacks seem like an afterthought.  In fact, I believe they were.  The IMDB page for this film contains trivia that indicates a substantial part of the film was cut out after completion and I feel the flashbacks, or most of them in any event, are added to pad the film and make it releasable to drive-ins and theaters.

I watched this film on Amazon Prime - and as much I liked it, the transfer is a horrible dub from a VHS tape.  Nothing more off putting than feeling like you need to adjust your tracking while watching something on a PC.  However, Code Red did release a blu-ray version and a no frills DVD version is available...but pricey.

Many of the cast continue to work, especially Michael Cutt who portrayed Professor Nugent.  He has worked steadily since this film, usually playing military or police officers.  The writers, Jim L. Ball and Mike Williams, as well as director James C. Wasson, appear to have only this picture to their credit.

As is generally required for a film I write about, the IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes rankings are not stellar.

IMDB Page for Night Of The Demon

Rotten Tomatoes Page for Night Of The Demon

Nevertheless, order a pizza and grab some beers and have a great time with Night of the Demon.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

No, not the Khardashians but another kind of....Breeders

DISCLAIMER - My blog is an attempt to show respect to films some small minded, intellectually dishonest hipsters automatically label "bad". There is no film I discuss here that I believe to be bad at all.  The title of the blog comes from a discussion that took place some years ago when I was trying to explain the appeal of these films. The title is not meant to suggest I think these films are bad in the least.  Remember - ART IS ART!

I'm always a bit surprised when I find and watch a film for the first time that I should have seen 20 or 30 years earlier.  Such is the case with Breeders. Stranger still as I'm very familiar with Tim Kincaid's Robot Holocaust and Mutant Hunt films and wonder how I missed Breeders

So, in the interest of honesty - if you look at the Rotten Tomatoes page you'll find a score of 8%
Rotten Tomatoes page for Breeders
This is a travesty and a slap in the face of the artists who worked so hard to make this film.  Sure, I get it.  It does border on soft-core porn ( and in what world did that become a negative) and does appear to be a bit derivative of other, equally as brilliant films.  However, I have to wonder why it is acceptable for a film like Star Wars Episode VII ( a wonderful film I've seen several times) to mirror Episode IV but Breeders can't have a C.H.U.D. vibe to it?  Oh, that's right - Disney.  But, I digress.

This film is written and directed by the talented Tim Kincaid (Tim Gambiani of Santa Barbara, CA) the artist behind such films of my youth as Mutant Hunt, Robot Holocaust and Bad Girls Dormitory.  As much as I've enjoyed his genre work, Mr. Kincaid is better known for his adult films produced under the name Joe Gage.

Shot in New York City in the late 80s, the plot revolves around the investigation of Det. Dale Andriotti (Lance Lewman) and Dr. Gamble Pace (Teresa Farley) to determine the assailant of  women who have been attacked, sexually assaulted and disfigured in New York.  Despite the oddities of the attacks, neither Dr. Pace or Det. Andriotti suspect the cause for the attacks is extraterrestrial.

I'll be very blunt - despite the Rotten Tomatoes rating or the meager 3.4 on IMDB, this film is very well done.  In films of this strain that are better rated, many of the characters are cookie cutter, toss away after thoughts.  Each portrayal in this film, no matter the amount of screen time, is a fully realized person and contributes to the breadth and depth of the story being told.  I simply can't reject the derision of this film more strongly.  Teresa Farley and Lance Lewman are remarkable in this film - that is a straight fact.  As does every actor is this picture, from Frances Raines to Matt Miller and the absolutely amazing portrayal of Dr. Ira Markum by well renowned make-up artist Ed French.

If you troll several of the reviews of this film online you'll find one of the primary complaints is the film is soft-core porn.  Are there a number of nude women in this film?  Yes.  But, this film was a late 80s film - nudity has been, and ever will be, a staple of genre film. Sure, the film Eegah did not have nudity, but, sexuality is throughout the film.  Simply because some mores had altered between 1962 and 1987 seems a vapid argument against this enjoyable picture.

There are a small handful of pictures I watch in which members of the cast or crew don't move on to bigger or better things - not the case with this picture.  Ed French has gone on to be Oscar nominated and lance Lewman has a very extensive career including stints on Homicide: Life on the Street and House of Cards.

Tim Kincaid continues to be very successful in his adult career - though his films are not in my wheelhouse I'm certainly pleased he is still out there and making his art.  I watched this film on Amazon Prime, so I can't encourage you enough to either rent it through Amazon or get a Prime Subscription.  Watching this film has reminded me how much I enjoy his other pictures so I'll be checking them out tonight - Thank you Mr. Kincaid and crew for all the work you've done.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Forget bed bugs....we have CREEPOZOIDS

DISCLAIMER - My blog is an attempt to show respect to films some small minded, intellectually dishonest hipsters automatically label "bad". There is no film I discuss here that I believe to be bad at all.  The title of the blog comes from a discussion that took place some years ago when I was trying to explain the appeal of these films. The title is not meant to suggest I think these films are bad in the least.  Remember - ART IS ART!

I'm uncertain why it has taken me so long to do a write-up on this classic film; especially as it holds very fond memories for me.  This picture was one of countless gems I found during the heyday of the "Mom and Pop" video store.  While others were looking for the newest Sean Penn film, I and other like minded wannabe auteurs were lurking in the area of the less traveled shelves mining for brilliance.

Of course, I was always on the hunt for any picture that starred Linnea Quigley (or Brinke Stevens, Michelle Bauer (McClellen).  Thanks to the brilliance of David DeCoteau and Fred Olen Ray, I was generally able to spend my Friday nights with at least ONE of those fine actresses.

If you do any reading about this particular film, you will often find it is called an Alien knock-off.  I would never go that far; it may be a bit derivative of Alien, but, I'd suggest The Abyss is too.  Nevertheless, whether one sees it in that light or not, I don't think anyone can argue this film isn't in fact more claustrophobic and grittier than Ridley Scott's earlier fare.

Written and produced by the brilliant David DeCoteau early on in his career, the story follows a group of Army deserters in 1998 looking for shelter six years after a massive  nuclear war has turned the Earth into a "burnt out husk".  When the group realizes rain is moving in they have to get indoors quickly; not only to stay dry but the rain, in fact, is acid.  The endless nuclear bombardment has turn the rain into something that will melt the skin and muscle right off your bones.

To what they believe is their good fortune, the group is able to break into a complex of some kind.  They are uncertain of its previous use, but, feel lucky to have found a place to hide out, especially as it has running water and plenty of food.

And then...things go wrong. Very wrong.

David DeCoteau produced this picture on 150K - not a great deal of money when shooting on 35mm film stock.  However, it is clear every dollar is on the screen.  Part of this was, no doubt, one reason for such a small cast.  The film was shot in a warehouse in the greatest city on Earth - Los Angeles.  And good use is made of the location.

As the tension increases, the audience is supposed to feel trapped and claustrophobic and the set design certainly does that.  The effects are amazing and even more so as this film was made in the "Good Old Days" of in camera practical effects.  The creature designs are not only very good, but, incredibly convincing.  And, let's face it - Alien did not have as kick-ass an ending as Creepozoids.

True to form, the cast for this DeCoteau picture is another reason for the tension throughout the entire film.  Linnea Quigley is always solid - in fact, I can't think of a single film she has been in which she didn't nail the part.  Among the other actors are Ken Abraham (Butch) who has maintained a very successful career not only as an actor, but also editor, producer and writer); and I have to absolutely praise the performance of Kim McKamy, who is best known by the name she used in the adult film world - Ashlyn Gere.

In all candor, all the cast was great.  But Ms. McKamy/Gere was exceptionally good.  She portrayed a sense of concern and vulnerability that makes her character very relateable.  Ms. Gere is one of very few adult film stars who also managed to work quite a bit in the "mainstream" entertainment industry with parts in films and television shows such as Silk Stalkings, Millennium,  Willard and The One.

I can't encourage you enough to check out this film.  I watched it on Full Moon Stream - Great Films on your PC (simply the best way to check out this film and countless others.

Agree? Disagree?  Please leave a comment or message me - I'd love your input.

The Rotten Tomatoes page - clearly people don't understand how brilliant this film is

The IMDB Page - I don't understand the low rating

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Cult Film Sunday

So, you could watch the irrelevant snooze fest that will be the Golden Globes replete with Ricky Gervais doing his uttermost to offend you for no reason at all OR you could enjoy these films currently available to stream right now.

Eraserhead - David Lynch's first full length film defies explanation but will haunt you.  Ultimately all of Lynch's films have been amazing, as was his foray into television.  However, it was his first film which ultimately defined his genius and burrows into your brain like no other.  The film often feels like a black and white hallucination.

It is currently available for viewing on Hulu

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai - Clearly I'm a huge fan of this film as I write under the pen name Banzai.  This film had a huge influence on me...and continues to.  Imagine how surprised I was when I discovered there are people who have not even heard of this masterpiece!  The story of a surgeon, physicist, rock star saving the world from Lord John Whorfin and the Red Lectroids from Planet 10 (by way of the 8th dimension) is so good it is like comfort food for the soul.

It is currently available for viewing on Hulu

The Little Shop of Horrors - Perhaps no film has had as many lives as this Roger Corman classic. The 1960 original eventually spawned a musical, which then went on to become a film.  While the musical if amazing with one of the greatest casts assembled for any picture I still prefer the black and white grittiness of the original.  Written by Charles B. Griffith, who would go on to write a number of other brilliant genre pictures, including the beautiful Oliver Reed vehicle "Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype" it remains a jewel in the Roger Corman crown.

It is currently available for viewing on Amazon Prime and the colorized version (ugh!) is available on Hulu

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Slithis....when wet.

DISCLAIMER - My blog is an attempt to show respect to films some small minded,
intellectually dishonest hipsters automatically label "bad". There is no film I
discuss here that I believe to be bad at all.  The title of the blog comes from a
discussion that took place some years ago when I was trying to explain the appeal of
these films. The title is not meant to suggest I think these films are bad in the
least.  Remember - ART IS ART!

One of the first films I ever defended was the motion picture - Slithis (Spawn of the Slithis).  It was not a great essay so, perhaps, it is best the write-up has long since disappeared.  However, it is a film that deserves a second write-up and certainly a picture in some need of defending.

I have to acknowledge the fact I have lost, if I ever had, the ability to separate a film from the time time it was shot. But, I don't think that is honestly a bad thing.  For instance, would the French Connection be considered the classic it is if not for the gritty 70s realism and depiction of New York City?  I don't think so.  Not because it is not a great film - it is.  But, the time period and the city are characters in it as well.

Instead of 70s NYC, Slithis gives us late 70s Venice Beach - and the time period and the location, much like The French Connection, are major characters in this film. 1978 Venice Beach is the California a small-town Missouri boy dreamed of each night.  And Venice is a star in this film.  Much of the film is exterior scenes providing an historical document of Venice and the Los Angeles area of the time.

The film was written, produced and directed by Stephen Traxler.  Mr. Traxler graduated from Canoga Park High School in 1963 and his familiarity with Southern California shows in this picture. After a stint in Vietnam, he entered the film industry with Slithis.  Mr. Traxler continued to work in the film industry with work in films such as "Meet the Deedles", "Waterworld" and "Legally Blonde 2".

Also listed as producers are Dick Davis and Paul Fabian.  It is clear to see the producing chores were in a way passing from one Hollywood generation to another as Paul Fabian's first credit was in 1932 while Davis went on to work on the Ralph Bakshi picture "American Pop".

The films production company was Fabtrax Films.  However, I was unable to find much information regarding this company.  The only picture attributed to that particular company is Spawn of the Slithis.  Appears the company was founded only to produce this picture and probably disbanded afterward.

Shot in only 12 days with a budget of $100,000 dollars and using many local actors the film begins with the discovery two mutilated dogs and the murder of a couple in Venice.  Soon we are introduced to high school Journalism teacher Wayne Connors (Alan Blanchard).  Wayne, unhappy as a teacher and piqued by the
murders, decides to investigate despite the concerns of his wife Jeff (Judy Motulsky).

Wayne discovers a mysterious substance during his investigation and provides to friend Dr. John (J. C. Claire).  Dr. John discovers the substance is radioactive "Slithis" and suggests they speak to Dr. Erin Burick. In a nice paced scene Dr. Burick indicates a familiarity with the slithis and provides information of where the investigation should continue.

In the meantime, more residents of Venice are perishing at the hands of the Slithis creature.  With the city in a panic Wayne calls on the assistance of boat Captain Christopher Columbus Alexander (Mello Alexandria) to collect more samples and provide them to the police - who think very little of the evidence and are trying to pin the murders on "Cultists".

If you read other write-ups regarding this film you'll come across statements that suggest the film should have been on MST3K. You'll also notice a 36% on Rotten Tomatoes.  Yes, the film is not great in a conventional way. The film does have its idiosyncrasies - the odd performance of Hy Park as Lt. Prentiss, an actor who went on to work on such films as Blade Runner and the creepy perversion of the 40+ year old man "seducing" an 18 year can throw you off.  And the film does smack of sexism.  But, when you watch the film, remember you are watching it with 21st century opinions. That is not an endorsement of the behavior in anyway - just something to be aware of prior to viewing the picture.

As for the off the wall performance of Hy Park?  Well, knowing the actor went on to bigger and better things I can only surmise there was a method to the madness.  Perhaps it was simply the way the director wanted the Lieutenant portrayed or possibly they were shooting at 3:00 am and it was the only possible way to stay awake.  Yes, it is odd and it pulls you out of the film, but, on the other hand it is the performance always remembered by those who watch this picture.

Most of the cast only worked on this film.  I don't attribute that to the talent of the cast - the film is replete with solid performances.  I suspect many of the performers of this film were not intending to become professional actors.  That said - I can happily go on record saying the performances of each and every cast member are solid.

Mr. Traxler took the time to write the film and raise 100K - no small feat in 1978.  I admire his work, I admire the cast who approach the material in total sincerity and I enjoying seeing my beloved LA area the way it was when I was a kid.

Alien it is not...but, watch it with an open mind and you'll find it is a fun ride.

The film is available to view for free to Amazon Prime subscribers and that is where I've watched it. The transfer...not great great.  Code Red released the film to DVD in 2010, however, from what I've read the transfer was not very good and there NO special features - which seems criminal.  The DVD is now out of print and copies now go for $60 to $80.

*bit of trivia - the Slithis creature was portrayed by Win Condict was essentially sewed into his suit for his scenes....sometimes for up to 12 hours with no way to use the restroom.

The Rotten Tomatoes page for Slithis

Saturday, January 2, 2016

You've not lived until you stopped living and become a mixed-up Zombie!!

DISCLAIMER - My blog is an attempt to show respect to films some small minded, 
intellectually dishonest hipsters automatically label "bad". There is no film I 
discuss here that I believe to be bad at all.  The title of the blog comes from a 
discussion that took place some years ago when I was trying to explain the appeal of 
these films. The title is not meant to suggest I think these films are bad in the 
least.  Remember - ART IS ART! 

Hello 2016 - it's been some time since my last post. Too long. Crazy thing adulthood.  
It seems to always get in the way of what I'd actually care to do.

So, like most everyone I've come up with a handful of New Year's resolutions. The 
first of which is to do a better job of posting articles to the site.  But along with 
that I've determined it is time to be more Iggy Pop and less Charlie Brown and to work 
smarter...not harder.  But, in any case, one with the show.

Tonight's post is about a film some people believe I'm making up when I give them the 
title - the Ray Dennis Steckler 1964 classic The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who 
Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies. For those who are familiar with the title, 
it is generally because they caught the July 14, 1997 broadcast of Mystery Science 
Theater 3000.

It's a great episode, and the film certainly provides ample material for Mike and the 
bots.  But, my goal with this film, like all the others, is not to deride the film.  
In fact, taken on its own stand alone merits the film is better than a number of films 
produced for the drive-in and grindhouse circuit during that time.

Originally titled The Incredibly Strange Creature: Or Why I stopped Living and Became 
a Mixed-up Zombie, a possible lawsuit from Columbia pictures, upset the title was too 
similar to their soon to be released Peter Sellars film Dr. Strangelove or: How I 
Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb resulted in Steckler changing the title.

And, what would a film with that title be about you ask?  Well, it is a simple of tale 
of boy meets girl, boy gets hypnotized by the girl's sister, boy goes on murderous 

Starring Cash Flagg (Ray Dennis Steckler himself) as the unemployed happy-go-lucky 
Jerry, who once under the spell of Madame Estrella (Brett O'Hara) becomes a knife 
wielding murder machine.  Also in the film is Steckler's wife at the time, Carolyn 
Brandt who stars as nigh-club dancer Marge Neilson.  Jerry is dating the blonde 
nymphet Angela (Sharon Walsh) much to the chagrin of her mother.  The third wheel is 
Harold, played spot on by Atlas King.

The cause of all the trouble is evil-eyed fortune teller Madam Estrella. Not only does 
she convince her strip club dancing sister to bring Jerry to her to hypnotize for her 
nefarious murder spree, she seems to keep a cadre of blood thirsty deformed monsters 
in house, all just waiting to turn on her.

Sure, it all becomes a bit surreal - but, I can honestly say that is part of the charm 
of the film.  Not to mention that was not out of the ordinary among films produced 
during that time period.  For instance The Horror of Party Beach (also released in 
1964 and a horror "musical" as well) and Psycho a Go-Go (1965) are equally surreal 
which is part of their creepy charm.

I think it is also important to understand what Stecker accomplished with a mere 
$38,00 dollars.  In today's digital world, a 90 minute film could easily be shot on 
that budget.  However, when film makers actually used (gasp) film - $38K could be 
eaten up very quickly on film stock and processing.  In spite of that, the film has 
fairly impressive sets (built in the old Masonic lodge in Glendale) and several 
musical and dance pieces; actually quite impressive considering.

A special thanks goes out to Atlas King who gave Ray $300 dollars so he could eat and 
keep the lights on.  Atlas has only one other credit to his name  - The Thrill Killers 
- and according to Steckler, King faded into the sunset and was, evidently, unable to 
ever reconnect with him before Steckler's death in 2009.

Finally, Steckler had the good fortune to work very early on with professionals who 
would go on to become legends in their fields.  His cinematographers László Kovács and 
Vilmos Zsigmond would go on to become award winning cinematographers working with the 
likes of Spielberg and Bogdanovich.

The film is available for viewing on Amazon Prime and Hulu (currently).  However, for this essay I watched the 2004 special edition with commentary by Joe Bob Briggs and Steckler himself.  I believe this version is out of print but worth grabbing if you get the opportunity.