Ninja Squad (1986)

A ninja named Billy — who is really from a Filipino movie made two years before this called Hatulan si baby angustia — has been training with a ninja master named Gordon (Richard Harrison, in the same footage that was supposedly for one film and ended up being ten or more). But now as it is time to return home and see his family again, Gordon will have to deal with another issue. Ivan the Red (Dave Wheeler) is a power-mad ninja so desperate to fight him that he has started to kill every fighter in the Ninja Empire. To draw him out, he uses Billy and his family, sending thugs to kidnap his sister and kill his mother. Billy had hoped to leave the world of the ninja behind. Now, he has no choice.

Again, like all of Godfrey Ho’s movie, we’re trapped between two worlds. In one, Harrison and many multicolored ninjas with headbands that helpfully inform us that they are, indeed, ninja fight one another with somersaults and swords. In the other, we’re in the tough streets and watching a young man in love with a cop’s daughter try and join the force, only to learn that even the father of the woman he loves is corrupt. It’s down, dirty and depressing, like the New Hollywood speaking in Tagalog.

If you already know that only a ninja can kill a ninja, this film will teach you a new lesson: if you are born a ninja, you die a ninja. I am slowly making my way through the Godfrey Ho Cinematic Universe and trying to put together the connective tissue between these films. I realize that he was just cranking them out with no concern for how they connect. But you know how when your brain has to figure out how to survive a traumatic accident it blocks things out or invents a new reality for you? That’s what I’m doing, trying to keep my blown brain inside my head and attempting to figure out how all of these unite to create one overall saga.

If there’s one universal thing about these movies, other than ninja and senseless combination of unconnected cinema, it’s the mindblowing soundtrack. This time, “Hu” by Dif Juz, is in the film. They were an English instrumental post-punk band, formed in London and active from 1980 to 1986. Members included Gary Bromley on bass, Richard Thomas on percussion and saxophone and the Curtis brothers, Dave and Alan, on guitars. For a brief time, Alan was in Duran Duran and the band also served as backup for Lee Scratch Perry. Signed to 4AD, they were also close with the Cocteau Twins and members collaborated with Wolfgang Press.

Speaking of the Cocteau Twins, their songs “Wax and Wane” and “Song to the Siren” are in this, as are “Medusa” by Clan of Xymox and The Human League’s “Human,” which was written and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, former members of The Time. They’d just finished Janet Jackson’s Control record, which I heartily recommend.

Also, thanks to David Assassino, I learned that some of the Edgar Froese score to Fassbinder’s Kamikaze 1989 is in this and that the end credits are Miko Mission’s “Two for Love.”

I have no idea why all this synth pop ends up in ninja movies but as always, I am not complaining.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Kunoichi ninpô-chô: Yagyû gaiden (1998)

When a gang of killers named The 7 Spears, led by Akinari Katou, kill an entire convent of nuns — save for seven survivors, led by Ochie (Yuko Moriyama, Moon Over TaoZeiram) — who decide to become an army of female ninja, led by a legendary eyepatch wearing samurai named Jubei Yagyu (Hitoshi Ozawa, who literally led them in the film, as he directed and co-wrote it).

There were seven of these movies and this was the first to be imported to the West; as you can imagine it’s somewhat disconcerting but if you love what you see, there’s a lot more to track down and decipher. Such it the path of the otaku; often a path that you walk alone, becoming obsessed with shows and series that go beyond the more popular elements of Japanese pop culture that come to America.

So you can call this Kunoichi Lady Ninja or the very long and much more entertaining title Female Ninjas Magic Chronicles: Legend of Yagyu Part 1.

This is the kind of movie where ninjas pull out their eyeballs to summon demons, where Jubei Yagyu can have sex while deflecting arrows and the lovemaking is so good that he unlocks Nipple Shock Wave kung fu in a lady gifting her with the ability to float and unleash lightning. Also: so many heads explode. Like, this movie is obsessed with heads getting pulled off their body to the point that I was sure that it was either Jimmy Wang Yu or George Lucas directed this.

Clash of the Ninjas (1986)

There are two — actually, who knows, there could be hundreds — of posters for this movie. One has a series of realistic ninjas posing with their swords while the other has Manny Cobretti in cartoon form in front of an American flag, along with a star-throwing ninja and a black man comically firing a blowdart.

These posters are guaranteed to get me to watch this movie.

A ruthless ninja named Mr. Roy has started an organization called Interpole that abducts people and takes their organs, then sells them to the mob, the triads and even some Middle Eastern bad guys.

Two of the organ farm prisoners have escaped, however, and found their way to the police, which includes Tony (Paulo Sorcha, who looked enough like Stallone that he was called Bruce Stallion in some movies). You see Tony also has a secret: he’s a ninja and shares a master with Mr. Roy, who killed their master and also took the time to grope Tony’s girl on the way out.

This movie knows the most essential truth of all ninja truths: Only a ninja can kill a ninja. And that happens a lot here, as ninjas have flaming swords, get their heads spun around multiple times, get body parts sliced off and also block bullets with their bodies because that’s what being a ninja is all about.

Mr. Roy has some amazing abilities, like being able to split himself into six ninjas that, when torn to pieces, all come back together like Voltron. Or the power to shoot lasers from his fingers. And oh yeah, uses compact discs as weapons, which is wild, because someone else uses vinyl records against ninjas earlier. I’m certain there will be many people that debate the audio fidelity and warmness that vinyl gives over CDs, but in a fight, well, we’ve never established which music format is better for combat.

The IFD website lists Kurt Speilberg as the writer, which made me laugh like a loon, and Wallace Chan as the director. Who can rightly say, as IMDB says that Godfrey Ho directed and wrote this, but IMDB can be wrong. Actually, it’s often wrong.

I read an interview with Ho who said of this movie, “Oh, about fifteen years ago. I made movies with Tomas Tang. I try to find young directors, let them grow. I try to do many movies, also as producer. I did a fantastic movie called Clash of the Ninja with Tomas Tang, starring martial artists from Europe and America, all set in Hong Kong. It’s really a fantastic movie, nobody has seen this movie a lot. Unfortunately Tomas Tang died, so this is his best movie he has ever made. That is the only ninja movie I remember, because it was the best movie I ever made.”

Is this even the real Godfrey Ho speaking? I mean, this paragraph reads like one of his movies.

Beyond the absolutely wild story and incredible final fight, the music in this is what you expect from a Godfrey Ho movie. And by that, I mean, absolutely unexpected. I mean, did you ever think “I Remember Nothing” and “Candidate” by Joy Division would be the soundtrack for a ninja battle? Talk about some Unknown Pleasures.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Ninja: American Warrior (1987)

If you have not indulged in the movie drug heroin that is the cinema of Godfrey Ho, the best way to describe it is watching several movies at once. He goes beyond even the remix remake rip-off cinema of other countries and the copy and paste of Bruno Mattei to outright sample and steal from so many sources that it often seems as if the movie begins and ends in ways that you have no way to see coming. Characters appear and disappear, film stocks and aspect ratios no longer matter, rational storytelling is deleted and music from sources you’d never expect take over.

Also: This has totally new footage by Tommy Cheng (Cheng Kei-Ying) interacting with the footage that Filmark bought and tossed into a blender.

It’s nearly useless to even explain what this movie is about but hey, I’m the kind of person who stays awake all night trying to round off infinity. Let’s attempt this.

One of the stories in this movie is taken outright from Queen Bee’s Revenge (Nu wang feng fu qiao), a 1981 revenge-a-matic sequel to another revenge movie, Queen Bee, which was released in Taiwan the very same year.

But forget all that. This movie begins with two ninjas attacking a woman dressed in very 80s workout gear. One of them even sets his own hands ablaze to battle her. She easily defeats them and mentions that she only has Black Cougar Ninja — a face painted goth looking ninja — left to defeat. Well, he and his men attack and seemingly kills Amazonia (who is Queen Bee from the footage from that movie) but she ends up being the aerobics-gear woman. Confused? Forget the definition of what that means.

Anyways, Amazonia is on the trail of The Shrew, the biggest Triad boss, and she’s also a ninja. Or ninja trained. Is that the same thing?

There’s also a guy named John, who I guess is the American Ninja in this — no, he’s not American Ninja Michael Dudikoff or American Ninja David Bradley — as he goes after a drug dealer named Justin. John is a really horrible mustached ninja, as he can’t even escape a locked car without using a smoke bomb, which is one of the dumbest — and most entertaining — moments I’ve ever seen in a movie.

He’s also a Vietnam vet, so you know, get all the different mom and pop shelves covered here. But yeah — John and Justin once were in the shit together and they have a bond, but once you work for The Shrew, you sign your death warrant. We even get a drunken flipout from the bad guy about how America never took back its vets so he’s staying here, he’s dealing drugs and he plans on never going back. Then he yells, “I’m a winner! I’m a super winner!”

I have so many questions from this movie and I hope they are never answered so that I can remain blissfully wondering forever. What is “time warp king fu?” How do ninjas learn how to basically throw bullets? Who is that little kid that gets menaced or the guy who refers to the criminals as “fuck abouts?” Who decided that a fight in a disco should be scored to “In the City” by Eagles?

Speaking of music, this movie also uses  “Love Is a Fire” by Genya Ravan from The Warriors in that same club scene, which makes a lot of sense, even if the movie itself doesn’t.

You can watch this on Tubi which added to my enjoyment because it’s part of Sho Kosugi Ninja Theatre and this starts with a moment of Sho showing off how to use Tekagi-Shuko — ninja claws, if you will — in combat. This footage looks battered, like tenth generation VHS quality and I loved every minute of it.

9 1/2 Ninjas! (1991)

You have to admire the sheer gumption to make a movie that fuses the worlds of ninjitsu and softcore, a world that Adrian Lyne could not have envisioned when he put some honey on the table and put “You Can Leave Your Hat On” on the boombox.

Directed by Aaron Barsky — perhaps the only man who could be an assistant director on such wildly disparate movies as When Harry Met SallyAtlas ShruggedFriday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan and Amityville II: The Possession — and written by Bill Counse and Don Pequignot  (who teamed up for American Cyborg: Steel Warrior) as well as John Morrissey, this movie has about two or three scenes that seem to come from 9 1/2 Weeks and then they kind of just say, “Well, that’s enough” and go off and make a different movie.

Land developer Gruber (Robert Fieldsteel, who somehow was in both John Cassavetes’ Love Streams and Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time) — yes, he looks just like Hans — is kicking Lisa Thorne (Andee Gray, who appeared in the movies Texas GodfatherDead Men Don’t Die and Vascetomy: A Delicate Matter) out of her apartment. That real estate renegade is also throwing out Joe Vogue (Michael Phenicie, Evil ObsessionLambadaCarnival of Souls) and sending ninjas his way. But Joe is also a ninja and he’s using the teachings of his mother Gladys (Magda Harout) to instruct his new love interest Lisa — yes, of course they hit it off — in the art of the ninja.

You know how Airplane!Top Secret and The Naked Gun movies work but the movies made by other directors and writers using the same actors never do? Imagine if they didn’t have those actors.

For some reason, there’s a subplot here where Lisa starts overeating and keeps gorging herself on food. I guess fat people are always funny, as are people addicted to eating because it gives them some limited control over an uncontrollable life. Maybe I shouldn’t look so deeply into a movie that brings together eroticism and silent killers, you know?

The most creative thing about this movie is its tagline: Twenty men couldn’t knock him out. But one woman might.

Oh yeah — Tiny Lister Jr. and Rance Howard — as a ninja negotiator, I admit that the idea of that screen credit is also pretty funny — as well as Kane Hodder and Gerald Okamura all show up. I think if you made a martial arts movie in the 80s or 90s, you had to hire Okamura or actual ninjas would kill your family.

The Party Animal (1984)

David Beaird seems like the least likely person to direct a teen sex comedy. Or a boner movie. Or a lemon popsicle.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, he made his way to Chicago’s Goodman School of Drama and by the age of nineteen, he was already being hailed by The Chicago Tribune as “a young man who will one day be a consummate and famous actor.” He won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in the play The Hot L Baltimore and soon after founded the Wisdom Bridge Theatre, which was inspired by a subtitle he read on a painting: “The bridge to wisdom is in the continual asking of questions.”

David, his obituary suggests, used his plays to ask questions. At Wisdom Bridge, he staged avant-garde versions of Cyrano de Bergerac and Twelfth Night while staging his own story of Socrates called Dignity and even a stage version of the comic strip The Wizard of ID. Due to health issues, he left the theater n 1977 and headed out west, which led to him directing movies.

According to an article in The Los Angeles Times around the time this was made, The Party Animal would be the movie that would start his Hollywood career.

“I found out that I could only sell this sort of film and only on the basest of terms. It was my breakthrough,” said Beaird.

One movie in and he as already showing signs of burnout: “This is movie making at its most crass. It’s no great accomplishment to achieve nudity and violence–you can buy them.” He also referred to the “great, gulping appetite for tastelessness in this teen-oriented genre.”

“I’ve watched grown men of 50 or 60–top executives in a major film company — sit around in three-piece suits and argue for half an hour about whether or not to put a whole nipple onto the widescreen. And I heard some of them say with a very straight face that perhaps only half a nipple would be far more tasteful.”

Even with all those nipples on screen — or half nipples — David tried to get his sister Joanna to bring her teenage son to watch the movie, as he was the target audience. She refused and told the paper, “I’m really angry that a man as talented as David has to make a movie this junky just to get started in Hollywood. It makes me very, very sad.”

He may have complained to his sister that she wouldn’t allow her child to see his movie, but he was going through issues of his own getting it completed. The producers made him go back and shoot more nudity, a fact that he found embarrassing. He recalled, “I was shamefully forced to go back to my cast and ask them to debase themselves.” But then he got naked too, just to show them that he wouldn’t do anything they wouldn’t do. That said — wasn’t he in a position of power and had the choice to do this and still get paid?

His next film — also for the same producers, International Film Marketing (the people who brought you Surf IINight of the DemonsToo Scared to ScreamScared Stiff and Sole Survivor) — was 1982’s Octavia, the modern-day fairy tale of a blind girl who is abused by her father and eventually assaulted by a convict. Now, The Los Angeles Times article claims that was second, but IMDB says it was made in 1982, and we all know that IMDB is totally the absolute truth, right? Right.

Also: This film and Octavia list Alan C. Fox as both writer and executive producer, going as far to say that The Party Animal was based on a story by Fox. So that’s who to blame.

The movie that most would know Beaird for would be 1986’s My Chauffeur, which has Deborah Foreman fall in love with Sam J. Jones, who is the son of her boss, played by E.G. Marshall. It’s a screwball comedy that seems out of step with the raunch of the 80s and has a great cameo by Penn and Teller. He followed that with Pass the Ammo a year later and man, that movie has a cast I’d love to see in a movie (Bill Paxton! Tim Curry! Annie Pots! Night Slasher Brian Potts?!? Anthony “Serenghett” Geary?!?) and It Takes Two the year after that, also with Anthony Geary in the cast.

Again, we go back to the obituary and learn, “His films had commercial success and led to other offers, not all of which he wanted to pursue.”

Leaving the movies behind, David founded the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. There, he wrote the play Scorchers when he wasn’t teaching acting, giving newcomers the chance to work in his theater in exchange for their tuition.

Movies weren’t far away, however, as in 1991 that play became a film directed by Beaird. Starring a cast that includes luminaries like Faye Dunaway, James Earl Jones, Denholm Elliott, Jennifer Tilly, Luke Perry, Patrick Warburton and, yes, Anthony Geary, it also featured David’s lifelong friend and collaborator, Leland Crooke, delivering the opening soliloquy.

He also created the Fox series Key West which ran for 13 episodes in 1992. In the series, Fisher Stevens wins the lottery and follows Hemingway’s inspiration to the Florida town and a future as a writer. Working for network television didn’t seem to work well for Beaird, who went all in and wrote, directed and produced the series.

While he made one more movie in 2008 — The Civilization of Maxwell Bright — what is astounding is that one of Beaird’s plays, 900 Oneonta, played the Old Vic in London, New York City’s Circle Repertory Theater and LA’s Odyssey Theatre.

Reading of the life of this film’s creator, I was struck by just how much people loved him. And how much he loved life and being creative. His page is filled with stories of how he treated and mentored people and says that he “went out of his way to encourage and celebrate the creativity of others and sought, in his own relaxed and tolerant way, to support his friends and family.”

It also says, “He had faith in his personal artistic vision and tried to protect it from whatever self-styled experts or critics said.”

Well, he’ll never read this. But if he does, if there’s some other world or reality that allows the dead to read — or care — about long-winded nerds writing about teen sex comedies at 2:37 AM when they should be in bed, well, maybe he’ll like the fact that I spent some time considering his life and how it can inform mine.

And I can’t believe the same guy I just read about made this movie.

Pondo Sinatra (Matthew Causey, now Dr. Matthew Causeym a senior lecturer in the School of Drama, Film and Music at Trinity College Dublin who received his B.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts, M.A. from New York University and his Ph.D. from Stanford University) arrives at his first day of college as a literal pun come to life. He falls off a turnip truck in a joke you’ll see coming for miles.

This also feels quite strange right from the beginning, as it’s structured as both a comedy where the camera can move and change shots, but also is set up as a documentary of the life of Pondo after he’s become famous. This strange break of the rules of filmmaking continues throughout the movie, but even in the life story of Beaird, it’s mentioned that he didn’t realize that he was the one who said “action” or “cut” at this stage of his career. He’d only done plays, so who knows how he was approaching this.

Note: Thanks to The Unknown Movies, I’ve also learned that Beaird wasn’t alone in the director’s chair. Harvey Hart, who was directing TV all the way back in 1955, was also on hand. It’s unclear to what capacity, but Hart was a vet, working on stuff like Dark IntruderThe PyxThe Starlost and episodes. of ColumboPeyton PlaceThe Wild Wild West and more. My theory is that one or the other of the directors shot the interview footage and edited pieces together, which explains why some shots at the end are reversed and why some bits seemingly start or close with no explanation. I really believe there was just no coverage and someone said, “Oh well.”

Back to Pondo.

There’s nothing our protagonist — B&S About Movies secret: If I hate a lead character in a movie, I refer to them as the protagonist, not the hero. Go back and read older reviews with that knowledge — wants to get laid. He wants to have sex so bad that he’d “sell his soul for a piece of ass,” at which point a blonde woman who never speaks in the movie perks up and hey, maybe she’s Satan.

He gets coached in the ways of wooing by Studly (Tim Carhart, who shows up in everything from Beverly Hills Cop III and Ghostbusters to Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh and Black Sheep) who tries everything to get Pondo in the sack with a willing partner. He even does that scene from Cyrano — a callback to Beaird’s days of Chicago stage directing — by coaching him through trying to win over one lady in the woods.

It’s easy to see why Pondo can’t get any. He’s in his mid 20s (spoiler, he’s 26, even if his tombstone says he died at 22) is always wearing a rebel flag shirt, has a room filled with rebel flags and just looks like he smells of pimento olive sweat. Amazingly, he’s played by someone who would grow up to write scholarly pieces like “The Ethics and Anxiety of Being with Monsters and Machines: Thinking Through the Transgenic Art of Eduardo Kac” but here we are.

Studly’s teachings are also supplemented by lessons from a janitor named Elbow (Jerry Jones, who the arty side of me would know from The Long Goodbye, but come on, he’s in all of Rudy Ray Moore’s movies), but that doesn’t really work either.

This movie is more kaleidoscopic than episodic, but it’s that too. At one point, we’re in a male strip club for no reason and one guy — sans kneepads — does the wild spinning jump that almost broke Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing and the irony is that this guy is dirty dancing three years before that movie is not lost on me — and then just as soon we’re watching Pondo on stage performing the song “Party Animal” before he sees the devil. Again.

Upset that he can’t get any while Studly is in the middle of a menage a trois, he decides to hang himself, but his friend says that he will try.

Smash cut.

Pondo is getting looked at by a nurse (Joan Dykman, perhaps the only person I can think of that is in both sex comedies like this and Weekend Pass as well as a Cassavetes film, Love Streams) when he tells her his hooter is broke. Wait…that’s not what you call a penis, right? This movie confounds me because it literally has moments where it tries to deconstruct comedy without ever following or establishing the rules. Like, the Cyrano scene, does the girl know Studly is talking to Pondo? She can see it, right? And in this, doesn’t the nurse realize that Pondo should perhaps be in a place where people can work on his mental health? This is why PCPs use the seven-question GAD-7 (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) test now.

Also: Pondo has on a rebel flag polo. Where is he buying these? The weird van near my house that puts up fifty hate-filled right wing shirts every weekend and people line up and I scream really insightful things but I’m driving too fast and all they hear is unintelligible screaming and that’s their language and they think I’m on their side?

The nurse then fixes his balls with malley.

Everywhere you go on this campus, women are sunbathing, on waterslides, doing aerobics and even if they’re reading, they just wink at you as if to say, “I’m just kidding, I think this book makes me look nerdy smart hot, don’t you?” All of this while The Convertibles’ “She’s Just a Girl” plays as if we’re in on the joke but you can never be sure.

Another threeway for Studly and another suicide attempt for Pondo, but they can’t understand one another. He takes the gun out and kills one of the girls and apologizes. Studly says, “It’s alright,” and no one reacts. Is this a real universe of a ZAZ universe? The movie never tells us.

After chanting, “Hound dog is gonna eat that pussy” and learning what the word means, Pondo goes to an all-black party which is exactly where you don’t want this movie to go. Of course, he shows up in an outfit that Huggy Bear would think was too far. Like this is sub-Anthony Michael Hall in a blues club racism here. While we can only assume that Pondo is being murdered, Studly has a snake-charming belly dancer performing for him.

Smash cut.

Pondo is army crawling into a panty raid situation. If you were wondering, would Pondo dress like a woman and play strip poker with a whole bunch of ladies and look Peter Scolari unconvincing, then yes, you are correct. Will this be the scene my wife will wake up and just shake her head? Probably yes.

Again, after the strip poker doesn’t work, Pondo claims he will sell his soul for a piece of ass. Comedy works in three and there’s Satan again, but of course, there’s no payoff.

Smash cut.

Pondo gets a punk rock makeover and looks like Quasimodo and I have to admit, this movie has brutalized me — y’all are brutalizing me, I sang — to the point where a scene of our protagonist being chased by villagers with torches and pitchforks made me laugh. Then, an Elephant Man reference? Do you need to change references like that?

Smash cut.

Pondo goes to a bordello and somehow is still Quasimodo. This movie is a cartoon the entire time and now, it decides not to be. Pondo then breaks the fourth wall, for the first time, and says, “Damn. All dressed up with no place to go.”

Smash cut.

More male gaze antics and hey, slow-motion running too because the padding at this point is obvious. I really have the feeling that this is nearly two movies: an art film by Beaird and Fox and Hart thinking, “Anyone can make one of those teen sex movies.” Maybe somewhere in between?

Finally, after Studly and Elbow have a heart-to-heart, it’s time for Satan and Pondo to meet as he has nightmare visions of women and stares at himself in the mirror. He later says, “I see that girl everywhere I go. I’m even dreaming about her.”

They still don’t meet.

Smash cut.

Pondo goes to a party where he shotguns a beer, rolls a gigantic joint that he lights with a torch, takes an entire bottle of pills and then drinks a can of Coke.He then brings out a gigantic mirror and fills it with more coke than the entire budget of Scarface and cuts it with a butcher knife before the cops arrive to watch him do a mountain of it. The cops then do what cops do and beat him into oblivion.

He wakes up covered in coke and now, yes now, Satan appears.

Then he is raised from the dead in a vampire movie-looking like moment that appears lit by Mario Bava and directed by Gregory Dark before waking up in his bed.

Smash cut.

Pondo can’t ride a bike.

Smash cut,

Pondo goes to Sex ‘R’ Us, which is pretty forward for a porn store, advertising gay, bondage and TV. For some reason, the film goes to black and white here while he looks at realistic cocks. You may think it’s because this is supposed to be some kind of security footage, but I also think it’s a Sam Raimi trick where if the phalluses are in black and white and not flesh toned — like how the Deadites have multihued blood — they could still get an R. Meanwhile, the front desk guys debate the SALT missile talks and one sounds like Marlon Brando.

If my theory holds up about two different movies, this would be, I think, the Beaird art movie side, as this is one long stage scene between two actors that completely breaks the film. It has almost nothing to do with the film for a very long time until Pondo asks for help with women and buys the MX missile of vibrators.

Somehow, Pondo has an attractive girl in bed with him and he’s dressed like Napoleon. As The Buzzcocks’ “Why Can’t I Touch It?” plays– a song about not being able to trust your own senses — he blows the bomb up and you figure everyone died. Again, the movie breaks the rules it never established in the first place. If he can get this girl, why isn’t he just sleeping with her? Why does he have this outfit on? How did we get here?

Smash cut.

Pondo is back alive and at the dean’s office. This would be when the movie remembers it’s a teen sex comedy and needs some homophobic humor. What’s wild is that the dean’s secretary is played by Leland Crooke, the very same lifelong friend of Beaird that he wrote the long soliloquy for in Scorchers. He knew the guy since they were in Chicago, even appearing in Cyrano all those years ago. And here he is, playing the most mincing of roles in this aberration of a film. But hey, Hollywood.

The dean is a woman and she’s rubbing the missile dildo.

Nothing happens.

Smash cut.

Professor Schmidt is lecturing the class while a blonde winks at him. This teacher is played by Frank Galati, who wrote The American Clock and The Accidental Tourist. He’s also a Chicago theater veteran, as he was in plays at the Wisdom Bridge Theatre and directed many at the Steppenwolf Theater. Pondo asks what an aphrodisiac is and he tries to make one in the lab. The first batch takes all the hair off the head of a girl.

Pondo stays in the lab, like some kind of mad scientist, and keeps trying out his formulas on another woman. One spray even turns her into an ape.

Again, if he can get these girls into a car and on Lover’s Lane, what’s holding him back?

Two women sneak in and Pondo accidentally has his formula switched out for gas pills before Studly sets him up with Sophia Sophia (Lucy Roucis, who sadly died of Parkinson’s Disease; she’s the stand-up who makes Anne Hathaway laugh and accept her condition in Love and Other Drugs), an Italian student who is dressed in a white suit like something Sylvia Kristel would show up in.

For some reason, we are now following a traditional narrative and Pondo feeds her the pills, thinking they are going to get him laid. Instead, as you can imagine, they make her ass sound like The New York Ripper.

Only King Frat has a fart scene that seems to last longer and someone dies in that one.

I misspoke. She lights a match and the car explodes.

Smash cut.

Pondo is back in the dean’s office and all of the women that he’s hurt — which gradually pans back to reveal the bald woman, an ape, the burned-up Italian woman, someone bandaged, a woman with a beard, a werewolf, a skeleton with arms folded, one that looks like Bernie Casey from Gargoyles, The Old Witch from The Haunt of Fear and one that looks like Figrin D’an from the cantina band and did you know the music they play is called jizz? Man, George Lucas doesn’t even know how funny he can be.

“Not a pretty sight, is it Pondo?” asks the dean.

He gets thrown out of school and goes back to the lab to clean up. As he’s pouring the chemicals down the sink, the devil or Miranda (Susanne Ashley, who was in Private PassionsNo Justice with Cameron Mitchell and Camille Keaton and a cameo from Donald Farmer, and an episode of Dream On, a show that gave you clips from old movies and at least one guaranteed nude scene) makes the chemicals work. Holly,  a girl who just minutes ago scoffed at him, slaps him around and takes him right there in the chemistry classroom.

There’s a montage of them being tender, followed by her attacking him, which again made me laugh. But when Pondo cleans off the formula on his hands, he washes away the chemicals that got him laid. He gets back to the lab just in time to save what’s left of it before Elbow pours it down the sink.

Pondo drinks the entire formula and pours it on his head. Soon, he’s wearing sunglasses and a satin tiger head jacket as women crawl to be near him. The song that plays, “Rain” by Dream 6, is awesome. Oh Dream 6? Yeah, that would later become Concrete Blonde.

More on the soundtrack soon. I promise.

As Miranda looks on wearing all red, Pondo walks confidently through campus as lights turn on in each building. Women leave the beds of their lovers, even Studly loses his women to Pondo and can only watch. Why is there a Napoleon poster here? What was the lost subplot about the French leader? All we can do is wonder.

Pondo yells, “I’m a party animal!”

Smash cut.

Pondo doesn’t look as cool as he used to and is back to his rebel flag look. But as Studly takes notes and tracks how his powers work like Elizabeth Sullivan using a stopwatch to track Miracleman’s speed in the Alan Moore revival. Even at a half mile, his powers can lure any woman in.

Also: The Untouchables are playing “The General” at a party.

They go to I Phelta Thi, where the hottest women on campus live and no man has ever made it to the third floor. A leering maniacal Pondo does it while Studly can only watch and track his time. In the middle of all of this sweaty sex, the movie still has time to make fun of a larger woman.

Ah, the 80s.

I mean, ugh the 80s.

Pondo goes to see the dean and is nearly assaulted by the secretary who tries to hypnotize him and then pulls out a tube of KY Jelly. The new dean is a larger black woman, allowing two jokes about weight in a row.

All Pondo wants to do is sleep in class and read comic books, but women can’t leave him alone. As Miranda looks on, he’s chased by so many women that it seems like either Richard Lester or George Romero directed this scene.

“I have been greedy. I am like King Midas; everything I touch turns to poontang!,” laments Pondo.

Smash cut.

The movie has just remembered that it’s supposed to be a documentary as talking heads explain what happened to Pondo.

Smash cut.

Pondo is hiding in a laundromat filled with heavy women because this movie decided to go all in on weight humor. Once they realize he’s in their midst, elephant noises play.

Then we see Pondo’s grave.

“For a white boy, he did alright,” muses Elbow.

Studly lights a cigarette, cool guy again in a leather coat.

Pondo is reincarnated as a bunny with a rebel flag in its fur.

Miranda watches the same road that Pondo came in on as The Buzzcocks come back to play us out.


I would never say The Party Animal is a good movie. It’s a confounding one. I have no idea how it even adds up as I feel like the scenes I enjoyed were because I had been Stockholm Syndromed into laughing. Yet I didn’t hate the time I spent with it.

Where it really succeeds is the soundtrack. Beyond the songs I mentioned, it also has “I Don’t Mind,” “Harmony In My Head” and “Everybody’s Happy Now” by The Buzzcocks, “Right Side of a Good Thing” and “Roman Gods” by The Fleshtones, “War Across The Nation” by Chelsea, “

The UK video release has a different soundtrack slightly, as the male strip club scene has “Roman Gods” by The Fleshtones in the American cut but “Radio Free Europe” by R.E.M. in the UK. That same song is used in the porn store, which has no music in the American version.

Yes, the first movie to ever use a R.E.M. song has it in a porn scene. They must have felt like Bono and The Edge when “I Will Follow” scored an abortion scene in The Last American Virgin.

The soundtrack was never released, but someone has made a Spotify playlist here. There’s also a Mystic Record spunk/hardcore compilation called The Party Animal that came out in 1984 that has No FX playing “Ant Attack.”

I have no idea how the soundtrack happened, but some facts I did learn were that the movie was “filmed in a shut-down college in Illinois, near the Iowa border” and that a lot of the visuals from this movie — especially when Miranda appears — look a lot like Steve Miller’s video for “Abracadabra.” The same director of that video, Peter Conn, did the video sequences in RoboCop and George Clinton’s video for “Atomic Dog.”

Miranda in The Party Animal

The Steve Miller video model

I leave you with alternate titles and close off the story of David Beaird.

In French-speaking Canada, this movie was called Campus Aphrodisiaque (Campus Aphrodisiac). In Finland, Mielessä vain… which means Just In Mind… France saw it as Un tombeur de folie (A Crush of Madness) while it was Selskapsløven (The Company Lion) in Norway, El otro mujeriego en la fiesta de los animales (The Womanizer At the Animal Party) in Peru, Towarzyska bestia (A Sociablle Beast) in Poland, The Real Man Is a Wanker in Russia and Party Animal – Der Typ, der jede Bluse sprengt (Party Animal – The Man Who Blows Every Blouse) in Germany.

Obviously, this movie is why the world hates America.

Now for that story.

When The Party Animal made more than $1.5 million in its first two weeks in Los Angeles and Texas theaters, International Film Marketing offered Beaird six figures to make Revenge of the Party Animal.

He replied, “Never!”

You can watch this on YouTube and download it from the Internet Archive.

TUBI EXCLUSIVE: The Amityville Curse (2023)

Hans Holzer’s The Amityville Curse was one of several books that the author and parapsychologist wrote about 112 Ocean Avenue (Murder In AmityvilleAmityville II: The Possession and The Secret of Amityville are the others). They’re based on the time that he and spiritual medium Ethel Meyers spent in the house. She claimed that it had been built on top of an ancient Native American burial ground and the angry spirit of Shinnecock Indian Chief Rolling Thunder was the entity that had possessed Ronald Defeo Jr. when he killed his family.

This claim was denied by the Amityville Historical Society, as the Montaukett Indians, were the actual tribe that settled the area.

That didn’t stop Holzier from writing more books.

In 1990, The Amityville Curse was filmed as part of a series of Canadian Amityville movies. After purchasing a property in Amityville, Debbie and Marvin invite three of their closest friends to help renovate the place. Of course, things go horribly wrong and nearly everyone dies. I’d recommend all three of these films, which also include Amityville: A New Generation and Amityville: It’s About Time over any of the modern cash-in Amityville movies.

Now, Tubi has purchased a remake of The Amityville Curse from Incendo, the same folks who made Terror Train for the network. It was also produced by author — and Hanz’s daughter — Alexandra Holzer, who they said is contributing to the movie to pay “tribute to continuing the authenticity and legacy of her father’s work.”

She appears in the new series Amityville: An Origin Story as well as The Holzier Files Shattered Hopes: The True Story of the Amityville Murders and Famously Haunted: Amityville which is also on Tubi.

The movie begins with Mrs. Moriarty (Felicia Shulman) leaving a note and hanging herself. The movie jumps to three months later and a group of young people moving into the Amityville house. Billie Montenouvo (Mercedes Morris), Abigail Blaine (Tommie-Amber Pirie), Debbie Klein (Vanessa Smythe) and Lucy Davis (Jenny Raven) are trying to fix up the property and flip it so they can all make money. Debbie is the most driven of them and minutes after starting to unpack, she’s nearly killed by a falling mirror that Abigail shoves her out of the way of.

Lucy is obsessed with the history of the house, often listening to podcasts about what happened to the previous owners. Billie refuses to believe in ghosts while the others are open minded. That said, these girls are going to kill each other before the house gets fixed up.

When Abigail goes downstairs to fix a short, she freaks out when Frank (Dillon Casey) surprises her. They’re a couple but Billie and Lucy are, as are Debbie and Marv (Michael Xavier), a professor. But back to Frank. Why would he try to freak out his girlfriend in the infamous red room of the house? Why would you get high down there?

Meanwhile, Debbie falls over some books. You shouldn’t be clumsy in a haunted house.

You should also not have sex dreams about your friend’s boyfriend, as Abigail has a fantasy of Marv and sees Debbie show up with a shotgun. Then Frank comes back for another jump scare. Don’t get too attached to him, because he shows up dead at his own hand pretty quickly. Lucy wonders if it was the house,

Then, everyone discusses their finances. I am watching an Amityville movie that makes me consider that I won’t have this mortgage paid off until I am 78 years old. I will be dead and haunting this house before that happens.

After all this tragedy, why would Abigail allow podcaster Ben Holloway (Kenny Wong) to be in the house? This house is his holy grail and after all that drama, Debbie tells Abigail that she and Marv are fighting. The house is trending on Ben’s show Haunted Holloway, which isn’t helping anyone if they want to make enough money to sell this house. Everyone decides to let Ben stay and learn more about the house, but within like an hour he’s running in fear. And then a car hits him. Then he’s dead.

Lucy and Billie are fighting over the restaurant they own, adding more financial issues to this movie. The voices get to Billie, who decides to get into the bathtub fully clothed and bring a hairdryer into the water. Everyone breaks the door down and they find her dead.

So we have a podcaster down, two of the friends and no one is just leaving the house behind. This all proves to me that this is an Amityville movie. I would assume at any time they will either grab a spirit board or call a priest.

This is also very close to the idea of the original movie, except that no one has been killed with a nailgun yet. Also: nailguns are horrible weapons that don’t work like they do in the movies.

Reverend Marion (Ennis Esmer) shows up to tell Lucy that the soil outside is contaminated by all the Satanic rituals that happened in the past. She worries that Billie’s soul is trapped in the house, so he gives her a cross and starts going through the house and leaving symbols in chalk on the walls.

Meanwhile, Marv refuses to believe in the occult, even after three people have died — two on the same day — in the house. Then, you know, you’ve got a priest on a ladder writing on the walls while the lights are flicking on and off. A priest telling a bunch of scared people that the devil himself is toying with them before writing “die die die” on the walls and falling off a stepstool and snapping his leg like Sid Vicious when he jumped off the middle rope during the WCW Sin PPV.

Oh man — that’s when it all comes out, that Marv used to date Abigail before Debbie — who at the time of this revelation is looking at a cartoon drawing of Ron Defeo Jr. killing his family while a voice says “second best” — accuses them of having an affair and starts playing with a knife which she uses to slice her stomach open. And…she’s dead.

At times, this movie looks way too brightly lit with way too sharp digital camera work and other times, it appears to look like an honest to goodness film. Contrast the look of Debbie stabbing herself with the graveyard scene directly after, which looks really blue in tone and really gorgeous. It doesn’t seem to go together well, to be honest, but I notice this often in modern films, particularly streaming ones.

That’s when Doctor Harrison Cole (Brendan Fehr, RoswellFinal Destination), who Marv has battled and called a ghostbuster, comes to help with a seance and as you can imagine, Marv gets possessed by the house. Harrison keeps telling them it’s not a demon, even when it’s strangling him, but if a group of people were ever less prepared to fight the forces inside this house, I haven’t seen them.

That’s when Marv runs outside and near instantly finds a skull with a stab wound in it. Somehow, that causes Marv and Abigail to come together — literally — to hook up in the kitchen, getting caught by Lucy. The two have a woman to woman conversation about it before going to the cemetery to talk to Billie as she lies in the grave, telling her that she’s closing their restaurant.

Somehow, this brings Dr. Cole back, who gets to hear Marv speak in a demonic voice just as Abigail finds that letter that was being written — from the Moriarty family — at the beginning of the movie. As they read “This house killed my husband. It’s finally killed me…it will kill you too,” you can see Dr. Cole try to warn them just as he brains the college parapsychologist with a shovel, telling them to call 911. The phones don’t work because, well, this is Amityville.

I did laugh out loud when Lucy is stuck trying to keep Marv out while Abigail pours paint thinner all over the house to set it on fire. He’s outside screaming like Marky Mark in Fear while Abigail runs around. She yells for Abigail to get back. Abigail says, “We need to burn this house to the ****ing ground!” and just goes off while poor Lucy looks back and yells, “***k you you ****ing bitch! No one ever listens to me!” It’s the most real part of this entire movie and exactly what would happen, an honest bit of just plain frustration in the face of dealing with home improvement and the supernatural danger all around them.

Marv somehow just teleports into the house and sends Lucy into the basement, where she can hear her dead lover calling to her. At the same time as she struggles to release her, Marv is throwing Abigail all over the house and speaking in a demon voice and flickering like a post-J horror ripped off for America possessed person. She reponds by treating him like a Fulci victim — we don’t see the gore — and as he comes down the steps after her, she whac-a-moles him with a sledgehammer and then we get the squirting blood and some fun sound design. But ah, it’s all a ruse, as everyone in the house has gone to the side of the devil.

The movie closes at the graves — I won’t tell you who lives — with a discussion between the survivor and the limping priest. He asks why they stayed. The reply? “Because there’s nothing wrong with the place. It’s just a ****ing house.” The priest gets in the car and Dr, Cole says, “That house must be destroyed.” He’s still alive, somehow, and so is the priest, so are we getting Amityville: A New Generation 2023 

Because as you know, the devil has me in a curse where I must watch every Amityville movie.

It’s true.

Check out the Letterboxd list and article.

Directed by Eric Tessier and written by Dennis Heaton (who also wrote Fido), this is actually just fine. But seriously, at this stage of the game, if you’re making an Amityville movie, you need to be more than fine. You need to reclaim whatever this franchise — is it even a franchise? — is and go absolutely wild. The only movies that feel like they’ve done this in the series are my beloved Amityville II: The Possession, a bit of Amityville 3DAmityville: It’s About Time — I could almost use that title now to describe how these movies have been now instead of then, it’s about time for a good one! — and the In the Hood films.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Rage of a Ninja (1988)

Mel Simons (Marko Ritchie) — a ninja in pink — and the evil boss of all ninjas — he’s the one in yellow —  (Mike Abbott) are fighting over the ownership of the manual that allows one to become the ultimate ninja. The evil ninja pulls out a gun and kills Mel, but it was all a dream.

That said, the dream makes him think that he should get rid of the ninja manual.

For some reason, Mel gives it to his ex-wife Cindy (Morna Lee), who needs the help of another ninja named Steve, who kindly ties her up for the night, then unties her. She makes him breakfast. They fall in love. These things happen.

But then Cindy’s friend Winnie breaks into this romance and reminds Cindy that she’s not yet divorced from Mel. This leads to a game of badmitton and that’s not a sexual euphamism. A game of badmitton in which ninajs attack, no less.

Also: Steve is only hiding in Cindy’s house because he attacked the man who is sleeping with his wife. Who knew ninjas had this much drama? Well, when you wear pajamas all day, you can’t stay out of trouble in bed, I figure.

My notes for this movie are comical in their scattered chicken scratch, but foremost among them is a sentence all in caps: FIND THIS DISCO E.T. REMIX. Thanks to Ninjas All the Way Down, I can happily tell you that it’s by the Italian disco band EGO.

If you like trying to learn what music is in Godfrey Ho movies — and I do — you’ll be happy to know that “A Day” by Clan of Xymox and “Sirius” by Alan Parsons Project are in this.

The ending of this movie is so abrupt that you may be tempted to watch it over and over again. In no way does it pay off the movie you watched or answer any questions that you may have. Godfrey Ho’s movies do not cast you in the role of omniscient narrator. Instead, you only have the most limited of power over what you see and you may wonder forever what you lost the opportunity to experience in the lives of people you barely get to know.

I have no idea if you will like this movie. I love it because I watched three of them in a row in a state of barely being awake and I feel that this may be the best way to watch Godfrey Ho’s work, as if you are just a new blank page for him to tell you a story that makes no sense, that never adds up and that somehow combines two movies into seven eighths of one.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Bored Hatamoto: The Cave of the Vampire Bats (1961)

The most popular samurai in Edo, Saotome Mondonosuke is also known as Bored Hatamoto. Utaemon Ichikawa first started playing this role all the way back in 1930, making this the longest running Japanese film series starring a single actor — thanks Japanonfilm — even if Shintaro Katsu played Zatoichmore more times if you count the TV series.

But imagine this: Utaemon Ichikawa played the same role in the same continuing series of films from Japan’s silent era all the way up until 1963, through World War II — which cost many of the films, as they simply no longer exist — and due to the restrictions of the end of the war, period samurai dramas were restricted until the late 1950s. At that point, Ichikawa was in his fifties but still making movies.

Bored Hatamoto is marked with a crescent scar and is a near-ronin, masterless to all other samurai other than the Tokugawa shogun. He’s a virtuous character who solves crimes, like Sherlock Holmes, but if Holmes could fight a hundred other swordsmen at the same time.

The women who live near a shrine keep getting killed by bats, except they’re not bats. They’re flying ninja that live inside a gigantic cave above the holy place. Our hero also has four sidekicks, which seems like a ton, but hey, when you have a film series that lasts this long and then continues as a TV series with your son taking over the role, you have a good formula.

This also reminds me of American Westerns of this time, as this is basically a variety show. There’s fighting, there’s comedy, there’s song and dance from a variety of acts. When you went to the movies back in the early 60s — or the 50s in America with our singing cowboys — you got a full buffet and not just a main course.

Also: Ninja are seen in America as an 80s trend. As in so many other pop culture ways, Japan was ahead of us.

MVD BLU RAY RELEASE: Witchtrap (1989)

Let’s be perfectly frank. I’d watch a movie that was 85 minutes of people repeatedly making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as long as Linnea Quigley was in said movie. I’m sure they’d figure out some way to make her take a shower while the sandwiches were being made, which I find to be a bold directoral choice that I would explain to my wife was necessary for the foreign markets.

Anyways — Witchtrap.

You have to admire a movie that has a warlock as the final boss and still calls itself Witchtrap. Then again, the alternate title was The Presence and that’s not as good.

Kevin S. Tenney made two versions of Night of the Demons, along with two Witchboard movies. Here, he tells the story of a team of phenomena busters who have a special machine — a witch trap, if you will — to aid themselves in de-ghosting the Lauder House. Tenney even acts in this, as they couldn’t get another actor in time when one dropped out and hey — he already knew the script.

The whole movie is dubbed thanks to an on set filming error. If you watch Italian movies as much as me, you’ll gloss over that. I love reading reviews of this movie that decry its wooden acting and long stretches of dialogue. What did you really expect? It’s a direct-to-video 80’s movie about de-ghosters. Be happy that there’s a super gory head explosion and Linnea gets in a shower. That said, the shower kills her, but she does fulfill her contractual obligation to take a shower. If she did not take a shower in a movie, her parents would be threatened. Can you provide it didn’t happen?

Seriously, why has Bathfitter or ReBath not hired Linnea Quigley for a series of commercials? She could be like, “This shower stall is good enough for me, so it’d good enough for you. Hopefully, you won’t be stabbed in it. I probably will be. Call today and see what special offers we have!”

I love that the back cover of this says: NOTICE: This Motion Picture is not a sequel to WITCHBOARD.

The original idea for the new owner of this house was to make it into a bed and breakfast where people would go to be scared. The first night, he let a magician stay in it and that guy did a half-gainer into the concrete. This idea also should make you ignore the acting and dialogue and realize that this movie has ghost-powered bullets and face melting. Literally, face melting.

The MVD blu ray release of Wtchtrap is incredible. It has a high definition 1080p presentation of the main feature in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, scanned and restored in 2K in 2016 from the 35mm Interpositive. You get commentary with director Kevin Tenney, producer Dan Duncan, cinematographer Tom Jewett and actor Hal Havins; interviews with Tenney, Quigley, Jewett and special effects supervisor Tassilo Baur; an awesome VHS quality version — more releases need this! — and a photo gallery and trailer.

Plus. you also get reversible cover artwork, a collectible mini-poster and a limited edition slipcover.

Get it now from MVD.