Spirits (1990)

Dr. Richard Quicks (Robert Quarry) leads a group of researchers into a haunted house, like skeptic Beth (who was once a lesbian, which a Fred Olen Ray movie totally wouldn’t exploit), on the make Harry and psychic Amy (Brinke Stevens) who of course gets possessed by the house, at which point Father Anthony Vicci (Erik Estrada!) becomes the only person who can save them all — as long as he gets past the fact that he ignored his vow of chastity and slept with a woman. The shame…

Anyways, more exciting than Ponch playing a priest is Michele Bauer playing a nun who gets naked and denies the existence of God and says “You knew your way around a pussy pretty good for a priest.” as well as Tiffany Million — once a GLOW girl, later an adult video star — playing a demonic nun, which is better than just a nun.

Fred Olen Ray never made an Amityville sequel, but this is as close as he’s going to get, as well as making The Haunting, as this movie calls the mansion Heron — instead of Hill — House. This feels like an Italian movie without the excesses that an Italian film would add. No turtles are killed for real, no eyeballs get stabbed and no gigantic demon made from the dead bodies of murdered villages rises from the catacombs. But hey — Erik Estrada trying to resist a Michele Bauer half out of a nun’s habit. That’s worth something.

Bikini Drive-In (1995)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics.  For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

When Kim Taylor (Ashlie Rhey) inherits her grandfather’s beloved drive-in theatre, she and her friends must raise the money to save the failing establishment from both the bank and the evil clutches of land developer J.B. Winston (producer David F. Friedman.) When Kim’s dick boyfriend refuses to help her, Winston’s son Brian (Richard Gabai) goes against his father, and teams up with Kim (in more ways than one) to concoct a surefire way to sell tickets. The plan? An all-night monster movie marathon using all the old films Grandad saved with a scream queen and dancing bikini girls! A few (titty) twists and turns aside, the plan works, the bad guys, the bank and the meddling sheriff are vanquished and the kids all live happily ever after. 

It’s not the plot that makes this my favorite Fred Olen Ray film. It’s the inclusion of all the fake trailers (years before the QT/Rodriguez Grindhouse double feature) and all the original drive-in intermission shorts I enjoyed in my own youth. It’s a love letter to all the fun that could be had on a night out at the drive-in. According to Ray, many of the things you see in this film came from other films. “The monster suit, worn by (my son) Chris here, was from Biohazard 2… Michelle as the 50-foot woman was a test shot I had to do to prove to Roger that we could handle the effects, but since he made me pay for them myself I got to keep the footage (and the rights to it.) The sets from Dinosaur Island also appear in a fake trailer… and Jim (Wynorski) stole the title of my fake movie, House on Hooter Hill.” 

Appearances by Conrad Brooks, Forry Ackerman, Ross Hagen, Clare Polan and Anthony Cardoza among others as well as the Dick Dale-style surf soundtrack add to the overall nostalgic feel for a bygone era that spawned an entire generation of monster and B-movie enthusiasts. In her greatest comedic role to date, Michelle Bauer plays Scream Queen Dyanne Lynn, a spoiled actress served by a beefy manservant. It’s about time we ladies got a little equal opportunity exploitation in one of these films! 

Last, but not least, we have the director himself as DJ Randy Rocket, who, in full mid-‘90s fashion, gets a striptease in return for promoting the drive-in’s all-night marathon on his show. A tough casting choice, I’m sure. 

Most people familiar with this film probably saw the titty-free version on USA’s Up All Night back in the day, but there’s an uncut Blu-Ray on the way later this year from Ray’s Retromedia label which promises to include an entire bonus of restored drive-in intermission shorts from back in the day. Put the kids to bed, pass the popcorn, fire up the Pic mosquito repellent for a fun night in!  

A Mother’s Revenge (2016)

Jennifer Clarke (Jamie Luner, All My ChildrenMelrose Place) already thinks that she’s finished her Lifetime movie, one in which she went overboard after being gaslit for decades by her horrible husband Richard (Jason-Shane Scott) and turned her life around, becoming an in-demand corporate exec while he’s married to a woman the same age as their daughter Katey (Audrey Whitby) and dealing with diapers. Yet she made the biggest mistake anyone in a movie can make. She grabbed the wrong suitcase, which brings the maniac named Conner (Steven Brand) into her life.

Also called An Accidental Switch and Killer Switch, this movie works because Steven Brand actually feels menacing and gets off some really sinister dialogue that makes this veer toward the weirdness that this needs more of. I realize it’s a Lifetime movie, but that doesn’t mean that a little bit of sleaze can’t come on down.

Next time you’re in the airport and they ask if you’ve had your bag the whole time, make sure you did. You don’t want a killing machine stealing your child and killing your ex-husband who you hate — maybe you might — and making you confess over the phone that you’re a bad girl. Actually, maybe you do want all of that. So you know, set that bag down and see what kind of adventure creeps into your life.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Mob Boss (1990)

Don Anthony (William Hickey, Don Carrado Prizzi in Prizzi’s Honor and Uncle Lewis in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) runs the biggest crime family in California. He’s rubbed out by a team of his archrival Don Francisco (Stuart Whitman) and his mistress Gina (Morgan Fairchild). As he lays dying, he tells Monk (Irwin Keyes) to find his son Tony — yes, Anthony Anthony — to keep the family alive.

It turns out that Tony is Eddie Deezen.

Now, the mob has sent Gina to seduce him, as well as Angelo and Sara (Jack O’Halloran and Brinke Stevens) to kill him. Can Monk and the rest of the family get Don Tony ready for the family business or will they all die trying?

This is the last film of “Iron” Mike Mazursky, plus it also has Don Stroud, Dick Miller, Robert Quarry — credited as his Dr. Phibes Rises Again character name Darrus Biederbeck –and Teagan Clive from Alienator in the cast, which is a Fred Olen Ray mark of quality.

Does Ray have a vision? He did cast Deezen as a lead in a movie. I think that says yes.

In my dreams, Ray made a sequel and shot for shot created the end of Goodfellas with the cocaine run with all of the same actors except Deezen takes over for Ray Liotta.

Jessie and the Elf Boy (2022)

Jessie (Julia Brown) is a teenager who wants to become a famous hairstylist just like her mom Valerie (Gail Watson). She has a secret to the unique haircuts that she creates: her invisible partner is Ghillie Dhu (Huck Whittle), a forest elf who loves cutting human hair.

Set in Edinburgh, Scotland, this is a fun family story about an elf seeking a lost childhood friend, a daughter seeking for her mother to care about her and discovering how to transform your art into a career.

Directed by Phillip Todd, who wrote the script with his brother Matthew and Lindsey Stirling, this movie was a nice bit of happiness and cheer in the midst of the usual violence and sleaze that plays in this house.

I think that kids that watch this will enjoy seeing how Jessie stays positive despite rejection and hardship, devoted to making her life better and somehow connect with a mother who seemingly only cares about her own career. I’m sure you’ll figure out who the girl that Ghillie Dhu used to play with that moved to the big city really is, but this is such a fairy tale — literally — that I figure that you won’t mind at all.

While it has a lower budget, the film makes the most of its setting, cast and special effects. And yes, it may be a family film, but it kept me watching.

You can find this where you buy streaming movies from Entertainment Squad.

Ten Tubi picks (week 4)

Tubi is filled with so many movies, it can sometimes be rough to pick what to watch.

I’m here to help.

Here are ten more picks. Want to share yours with me? Just reply below.

Click on any of the film’s titles to read a more in-depth discussion of the movie.

1. Phenomena: TUBI LINK

If you haven’t watched this movie, you need to fix that now. It’s an absolutely astonishing mix of giallo, science fiction, true crime and, well, a chimp. It also contains one of director Dario Argento’s most honest revelations about his life. I literally could, can, do and will discuss this movie at length any time I’m given the opportunity to do so, a film so wonderful and strange and dangerous — Jennifer Connelly nearly lost a finger to said chimp — and so rewatchable.

2. Monster Dog: TUBI LINK

The first thing Alice Cooper did when he got out of rehab? It wasn’t record “The Ballad of Dwight Fry.” It was to make a movie with Claudio Fragasso.

3. Out of the Dark: TUBI LINK

The girls of Suite Nothings — a phone sex line — are being killed by a clown-masked killer. Sure, you’ve seen movies like this before, but have you seen them with Karen Witter, Paul Bartel, Divine not in drag, Karen Black, Tracey Walter, Silvana Gallard, Tab Cort, Geoffrey Lewis and Karen Mayo-Chandler. There’s also an astounding bring the house down moment when one caller begins loudly repeating “No one can handle nipples better than Bobo!” I’ve seen just about every 90s erotic thriller — Americanized giallo — and this is one of the better ones.

4. Malibu Express: TUBI LINK

It’s a struggle not to just list ten Andy Sidaris movies here every week. So let me share one of the best ones, starring not just Darby Hinton but Sybil Danning. A gender swapped remake of Sidaris’ 1973 film Stacey, the very mention of the words Malibu Express were enough to nuke the minds of young boys struggling through puberty. How were we to be able to handle Contessa Luciana when even Cody Abilene struggled?

5. Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo: TUBI LINK

There are a lot of people online who like to look down on the films of Cannon. That’s fine — Golan and Globus don’t need defending from small-minded cretins. Those fools need only to watch this Sam Firstenberg-directed blast of joy to be converted.

6. Bloody Moon: TUBI LINK

Jess Franco got hired to make a slasher, but he couldn’t help himself but make a Jess Franco movie with incest, roller disco, gorgeous women and, yes, a saw blade tearing a woman apart. You can take the boy out of the gutter, but you cannot remove the sleaze from his heart. I still think about the fact that the producers convinced Franco that Pink Floyd was going to do the soundtrack.

7. Contraband: TUBI LINK

Lucio Fulci made one cop and crook movie. The budget ran out two weeks in and real mobsters paid for the film, asking for a title change and more violence. Did they think Fulci was going to say no?

8. Keoma: TUBI LINK

Directed by Enzo G. Castellari and written by George Eastman, Keoma begins with Franco Nero returning home from war to a town where even his brothers have turned to evil, a plague runs loose and a ghostly woman follows his every move. It’s a supernatural-ish western with great songs by Oliver Onions and one of the Italian tales of the west that I feel is most underseen.

9. Evil Toons: TUBI LINK

Well, it is Fred Olen Ray week on the site. You could do worse — Monique Gabrielle, Barbara Dare, Suzanne Ager, forever crush object Madison Stone, Arte Johnson, David Carradine, Dick Miller, Michelle Bauer and a cast of, well, evil cartoons star in a film that even Roger Corman said couldn’t be made for the budget.

10. Tulpa: TUBI LINK

A woman visits the club Tulpa, which unlocks the hidden side of her libido that improves her self-confidence, except the bad side is everyone she has slept with soon dies a violent death. A modern giallo, this was written by director Federico Zampaglione, Giacomo Gensini and Dardano Sacchetti, the master who wrote every Italian movie worth anything.

If you’re looking for more movies on Tubi, click on our Letterboxd list.

Prophet (1999)

Jarrid Maddox (Don “The Dragon” Wilson) was experimented on as a child and mutated to gain the power to see into the future. He’s been selected to kill five terrorists who end up being five other people just like him who were experimented on by the CIA.

Also known as The Capitol Conspiracy, the main reason I was excited to see this was that Barbara Steele shows up. I mean, Barbara Steel in a Don “The Dragon” movie. Plus Robert Quarry? Come on, Fred Olen Ray. You’re giving me too much.

The best part of this movie for me was Maddox’s partner Vicki Taylor (Alexander Keith, who also used the name Wendy Scumacher in movies like Scorned 2Animal Instincts IIIStar HunterFugitive Rage and The Escort II). She has a very butch ass kicker look going on in this and while her turn on our hero can be figured out without mental powers, you won’t mind. She’s also the recipient of the heavy petting that the Dragon gives out at least once a movie.

Such are the ways of direct to video.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Possessed by the Night (1994)

Howard Hansen (Ted Prior, the brother of director David) has just had a Gremlins moment where he purchased a pickled punk in a Chinatown curiosity shop. Now, he can write faster than ever before and has more sexual energy than he’s had in years, which shocks his wife Peggy (Sandahl Bergman and if he has an issue finding her attractive, this movie may be science fiction) and worries her, as he’s just hired a new secretary named Carol McKay (Shannon Tweed).

I don’t have to give this advice but I will. Ladies, if your husband has Shannon Tweed as his secretary and you have any trust issues, you or your husband and maybe everyone you know is going to die.

Whatever is inside that glass jar now has possessed Carol, who is turning husband and wife against one another and she’s also conspiring to steal Howard’s new script with his agent Murray Dunlap (Frank Sivero, Frankie from Goodfellas), because that guy owes money to Henry Silva and his henchman Chad McQueen.

Of all the Ray movies I’ve watched this week, this one might be my favorite just because it’s so deranged — Tweed forces Prior and Bergman to have sex while holding a gun on them; everyone is possessed by a cyclopedian fetus; just how good is Hansen’s script if people are ruining lives over it — and ends with nearly the entire cast ends up in a gun battle that nihilistically wipes out most of them. Way to go on the script, Mark Thomas McGee.

This movie got released on video by Columbia Tri-Star. Let that make your brain explode.

American Bandits: Frank and Jesse James (2010)

Jesse James (George Stults) and his brother Frank (Tim Abell) have emerged from a robbery gone wrong and Jesse is healing up with the help of Carrie (Siri Baruc) and Mary (Lauren Eckstrom). They don’t know that Marhsall Kane (Peter Fonda, who started his career making low budget Roger Corman films and fits in just fine here) is coming after them as well as his men making a play for the money and leaving the brothers in the cold.

How do you feel about day for night? Do you love it? Would you be happy just to have Jeffrey Combs show up for a little bit? Will you watch every western there is? Are you a fan of Fred Olen Ray or perhaps writing an entire week of a web site about his movies?

There’s still someone on IMDB that’s calling out the historical and weapon accuracy of Ray’s movies, such as how the movie is set in the 1860s and civilians are carrying Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army revolvers — which weren’t available to the general population until 1875 or later — and none of the guns recoil when they’re shot. I appreciate the writer’s attention to detail and invite them to write for the site.

You can watch this on Tubi.


Final Examination (2003)

Shane Newman (Brent Huff, Cop GameThe Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik-Yak) has moved from Los Angeles to Hawaii which I don’t think is a police transfer that works in the real world, but we’re in the Fred Olen Ray universe now.

There’s a reunion in town and some of the Omega Kappa Omega girls have been invited to shoot nude photos — yes, I get that this doesn’t happen in most class reunions but again, we are in Ray’s world — by Derek Simmons, the editor of the Cavalier Magazine. One of them, Terri Walker, is soon found strangled with a final examination certificate next to her body.

It’s up to Newman and his new partner Julie Seska (Kari Wuhrer) to solve the case — cases, because women keep on taking their clothes off and dying — which has ties back to the suicide of Rachel Kincaid, a member of the class of students meeting in Hawaii.

This is a nice mix of erotic thriller, giallo and slasher with some familiar Ray stars like Debbie Rochon and Amy Lindsay. Sean O’Bannon, who wrote plenty of films for Ray (Mom’s Outta SightInvisible Mom IIInferno) and Fred’s wife at the time Kimberly were on the script. It’s exactly the kind of movie you’re looking for after three in the morning, which is a positive note.

I’m all for any movies that Kari Wuhrer makes, especially if she’s a sarcastic cop.

You can watch this on Tubi.