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.

Abner the Invisible Dog (2013)

Mark Lindsay Chapman sounds like the name of the man programmed to kill John Lennon, Mark David Chapman, which kept him from playing the man who put a tampon on his head and yelled “I love May Pang” in John and Yoko: A Love Story, a biographical NBC made-for-Tv movie that had involvement from Yoko Ono, who liked his audition but felt it was bad karma and Mark McGann got the role instead. Chapman did end up playing Lennon in Chapter 27 and got killed by real life cult leader Jared Leto who played Chapman.

Chapman — the actor, not the MK Ultra killer carrying a marked-up copy of Catcher in the Rye — is the voice of the invisible dog Albert in this movie.

As for the movie, imagine Home Alone with an invisible dog who is not above dragging its hero whenever he screws up — which is often — and burglars trying to get a secret hidden in a birthday gift.

Common Sense Media said that this movie was the “familiar tale of a boy and his dog running from wacky criminals who are trying to get back a secret formula.” Have we as a movie-making society become so cynical to film that there is more than one canine espionage movie? I mean, Abner is an English sheepdog, which explains his accent and sometimes that’s enough for me. Throw in David DeLuise and David Chokachi from Baywatch working from a story by Andrew Stevens and how can you watch any more, Common Sense Media? You warned parents that this movie has scenes in which “elderly folks are the butt of numerous jokes; there are farts aplenty and some mild sexual innuendo” and to me, you’re describing pretty much the movies that I wish were being discussed by Film Twitter’s most tight assed and unhumorous critics in the same way they point their magic fingers at a film no one has cared about ever and made it something worthy of pedestal raising. I implore you, do the same for Abner the Invisible Dog!

It has to be better than how Common Sense Media summed up this Fred Olen Ray movie: ” A time waster for all but those kids who think it’s hysterical to hear dogs fart and watch brainless grown-ups trip on banana peels, smash their fingers in doors, and react to stink bombs.”

For shame.

You can watch this on Tubi.

The Shooter (1997)

Michael Atherton — look, I watched this not because we’re doing a week of Fred Olen Ray movies, but because Michael Dudikoff is in this — finally stands up to the rich family that runs the town of Kingston. Led by Jerry Krants (William Smith and why would you ever want to mess with this man), they treat his heroic dreams like a joke and beat him into oblivion. I mean, that’s what you get when you kill William Smith’s son for beating up and whipping Wendy (Valerie Wildman). Instead of just killing Atherton, Krants and his gang break his hands and crucify him like he’s Franco Nero in the Italian deserts of the 60s before Wendy pulls him down and nurses him back to health.

Meanwhile, Kyle Tapert (Randy Travis) comes into town and he has a grudge with Atherton, too.

Ray assembled a fun cast here which includes Robert Quarry, Andrew Stevens and Kane Hodder. The sets and locations look really great and you know that Gary Graver is on camera, as always in this era of Ray’s films.

This is the kind of movie my grandfather would get in a twenty pack of VHS westerns and call to tell me about, which is pretty much what you want it to be.

Who knew Randy Travis could pull off a role like this?

You can watch this on Tubi.

Invisible Mom 2 (1999)

Laura Griffin (Dee Wallace) is back as the invisible (foster) mom but let’s be honest: I watched this movie because it dares to team up Mary Woronov and Mickey Dolenz as brother and sister family killing evildoers and this delighted my brain on so many levels. Also: Robert Quarry.

Barry Livingston is back as the dad, Trenton Knight is back as the son and so is about six or seven minutes of the first movie because why reshoot what you already shot?

Invisible Mom retains the powers she lost at the end of the last movie but then again she rarely uses them in the film. That’s better than the film’s cover art, in which a leotard and headband-wearing mom works up a sweat that we can’t see while a young voyeuristic child watches in astonishment from a window. I want that movie if only because I will watch any child movie that Fred Olen Ray makes. Or softcore porn that he directs. And somehow, they have the exact same aesthetics which is at once pleasing and somewhat distressing.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Invisible Dad (1998)

A spin-off from 1996’s Invisible Mom, Fred Olen Ray’s Invisible Dad gets me to watch his films as his films always do: I say, “Well, Karen Black is in it.”

Or “Gary Graver is in it acting.”

Or that the religious Common Sense Media said that it was a “highly improbable, groan-worthy, low-budget movie,” which sounds like high praise.

Doug Bailey is our hero and he’s very Johnny Quest in that he has no mom and travels all the time, so he really has no friends what with being the new kid in town all the time, which is a very 80s and 90s movie kid thing to be and probably points to the developmental mental trauma of screenwriters more than actual issues.

His dad Andrews (Daran Norris) has a weird machine in the garage — how often do they have to move this thing around? — that allows Doug to wish his dad would disappear, he turns invisible and hijinks ensue.

Now, take a look at that cover art. There’s a manchild at a carnival with what we can assume is an invisible dad at the carnival and he’s mindblown that dad is not visually appearing. If you liked this image and said, “I’d like to see a movie on the boardwalk with an invisible dad and his twentysomething son shouting,” too bad. These aren’t the same actors as in the movie and this scene never appears.

You do, however, get a scene where Invisible Dad wonders why he can no longer see his penis. In a kid’s movie.

Never change Fred Olen Ray.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Venomous (2001)

Somehow, someway, Iraqi commandos once broke into a secret American government lab and released the genetically modified rattlesnakes which go under the ground and wait ten years before they emerged in a small town and start biting everyone, which creates a pandemic and man, did I want to watch a pandemic movie when I thought I was watching a snake movie to forget about the pandemic? No, I sure did not.

Santa Mira again gets used in a Fred Old Ray movie and man, this town gets really decimated here and nearly nuked off the face of the Earth so that the government spooks can keep their disease snakes a secret. I can totally see that happening.

Treat Williams and Mary Page Keller play the doctors struggling to stop the disease, all while Marc McClure and Andrew Stevens get cameos.

Give Fred Olen Ray credit. It was once science fiction that the government would totally screw up its response to a pandemic and now it’s science fact.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Invisible Mom (1996)

Researching this movie — yes, I am home alone on a Sunday obsessively writing about Fred Olen Ray movies while you live your life — I discovered a website called The Chucks Connections which documents every appearance of Chuck Taylor All-Star shoes in movies.

If you liked Disney live action movies of the 70s but perhaps wanted some weirdness under the skin, then you’ll find something here, a movie in which a dad makes an invisibility serum, the son wants to drink it to get back at a bully and the mom (Dee Wallace!) drinks it. And hijnks, as always say and will say all week when writing about Ray’s movies, ensues.

This is a movie that not only has its child hero watching Beast of the Yellow Night on TV but also has that movie’s star John Ashley show up as a henpecked neighbor. It’s also nice that producer Andrew Stevens got some work for his mother Stella here.

I also endorse Russ Tamblyn getting acting gigs anywhere and anyway that he can. Same as Gary Graver, who shows up in a small role here, and is the only man who could convince Orson Welles to edit a scene in an adult movie.

The tagline for this film is “Not seeing is believing,” which kind of is hurting my brain right now and putting it into loops and making me think about gnostic dualism.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Human Factors (2021)

Nina and Jan (Sabine Timoteo and Mark Washcke) own an ad agency together and trust me, that brings nothing but stress, particularly with the politically active client they just got hired by.  To escape getting burned out, they take their kids Max and Emma (Wanja Valentin Kube and Jule Hermann) to their seaside vacation retreat, a place that usually offers relaxation but a home invasion makes things way worse and they may not get better.

Beyond just seeing the incident once, we see it from every member of the family, as well as discover the tensions behind the client that Jan didn’t tell Nina about. Max may only be concerned with his pet rat Zorro, but his sister Emma is devastated by the event, which may not have impacted other members of this not-so-tight family unit in the same way.

Director and writer Ronny Trocker has created an interesting movie here that forces you to examine a very simple moment through its very complicated characters. It’s definitely worth your time to track this down.

Human Factors is available on digital from Dark Star Pictures.

Little Miss Magic (1998)

Deidre (Vanessa Greyshock) is a teenage sorceress in training who has one test left from her master (Robert Quarry): she must help Richard (Ted Monte) deal with his life, which is mostly living under the naysaying gaze of his wife Kristin (Michele Bauer) who keeps pushing him but is really working with his friend Greg (Steve Scionti) to get the promotion instead of her husband so they can both make money off the mob.

And right now I realize, if this was a Fred Olen Ray softcore movie, this is where Michele Bauer would be naked, but this is a Fred Olen Ray kids’ movie but it’s the same story except we have a supernatural child and cameos from Tommy Kirk and Russ Tamblyn.

At one point, this movie had a talking head of Robert Quarry like an alien intelligence speaking to a young girl about magic and I saw my life from the outside, sitting in a movie-overflowing basement and trying to find meaning and joy in a world that I rapidly see as getting worse and it was all just so funny to me. I laughed like a madman to the point that my wife came down to the basement to check on me and I was trying to explain why I would not only watch this movie but multiple Ray movies all in a few days and she just looked at me with that mix of “Why did I get married?” and “I love that affable moron” and went back to doing something good and needed.

You can watch this on Tubi.