David Warbeck plays Craig, who has recently married Joanna, a woman crippled by mental and physical issues. Well, she’s in a wheelchair, but still comes to him to learn fencing and archery, so she’s trying to stay active.
That said, there’s something horrible that’s happened in her past, but guess what? Something horrible is happening now too. That’s because after Craig gets that ring, he plans on killing her for her riches.
That horrifying event, by the way, was when a faceless priest tried to give our heroine a doll and then decided to take things a little too far. As he chased her, she fell down the steps and broke her back, which is why she’s in a wheelchair now. And as for the priest, he may be dead or he may be the person who is dressed in vestments and carrying the doll from her childhood.
Also: there’s a good chance that if Craig churns some butter with her, she’ll have a heart attack when her body relives the abuse. I can promise you that there was no mental health counselor or expert on this film to verify this diagnosis.
If the house that is so cursed looks familiar, that’s because Phantom of Death and Body Puzzle were both shot there. Also, if your ears hear something they have before, that’s because Francesco De Masi decided to reuse some of his theme for The New York Ripper and thought that no one would notice.
On the beautiful and remote beaches of Ilocos Norte, three women struggle to come to terms with their own carnal nature while coming up against religious repression and male brutality in this movie that more resembles a Japanese Pinky violence movie than something from the Philippines.
Tonya (Maria Isabel Lopez, a former Miss Universe Philippines) and Selda (Sarsi Emmanuelle) are sisters, but they are diametrically opposed to one another. Tonya is repressed while Selda has already bedded an American lover and is now after Simon, the man that Tonya loves and keeps turning down.
I have no idea how this film escaped the Marcos regime and no clue how it is somehow both a powerful examination of the way that religion can destroy and also one of the sleaziest movies I’ve seen. Also, for those of you who are disturbed by real animal violence, I would fast forward the movie about five minutes from the start and just catch up.
The Mondo Macabro blu ray release is the worldwide HD debut of this movie. It comes complete with commentary from Filipino film expert Andrew Leavold, a new interview with Sarsi Emmanuelle and interviews with Maria Isabel Lopez, director Elwood Perez and the film’s art director Gerry Pascual from the previous Mondo Macabro DVD version of this motion picture.
Between the years of 1983 and 1997, writer/director William Olsen gave us four films: Getting It On (1983; creepy, sex-starved T&A teens partaking of video technologies; originally known as American Voyeur), Rockin’ Road Trip (1985), After School (1988; a Sam Bottoms-starring, forbidden teacher-student mess that took four screenwriter to get made), and the final film, Southern Belles (1997; that looks like a Cinemax soft-porn romp, and probably is).
We will probably never review — because we never searched them out (then or now) — the remainder of Olsen’s resume, and are only here due to Sam the Bossman inspiring a little celluloid archeology as result of devising another “Rock n’ Roll” theme week. And that we relish scrapping barrel bottoms. And the fact that Leon Rippy co-stars.
So, have you ever spoken the phrase, “The soundtrack is better than the movie?” Well, that’s the case, here, as props are to be given to Olsen for at least pulling together an ’80s college rock soundtrack dream — courtesy of Landslide Records, the distributor of college rock stalwarts, dB Records — with R.E.M’s fellow Athens-based bands Guadalcanal Diary (who also stars, here), Love Tractor, Pylon, The Heartfixers (featuring noted blues guitarist Tinsley Ellis; managed by Michael Rothchild, president of Landslide Records), Marianna Pace, and . . . the Cheryl Wilson Band (?) (handled by Michael Rothchild via his Frozen Inca Music-imprint).
Hey, forget about the soundtrack! Did you say “Leon Rippy”?
Yes, this lost VHS’er — also known as Summertime Blues (nixed after Warner Music objected to the use of the old Eddie Cochran tune as a title; yeah, the same tune covered by Blue Cheer and Hendrix; the version butchered by the Cheryl Wilson Band is an original and not a cover) — stars the very same Leon Rippy who starred in seven Roland Emmerich movies: Moon 44 (1990), Eye of the Storm (1991), Universal Soldier (1992), Stargate (1994), The Thirteenth Floor (1999), The Patriot (2000), and Eight Legged Freaks (2002). Not only did Rippy begin his career with Rockin’ Road Trip (his 9th role — and biggest part, to date), he also had support roles in King Kong Lives (1986) and Young Guns II (1990). Why yes, that is the Rip starring as Tom Nuttal in HBO’s Deadwood. Hey, all actors gotta start, somewhere — remember Oscar-nodded John Hawkes starting out in the apoc-slop that is Future-Kill?
Oh, and for some reason: this film has a freaky connection to Stephen King.
Not only was one of Rippy’s earliest character-support roles in Stephen King’s Firestarter (as “Blinded Agent”), (the late) Steve Boles, who stars, here, also got his start in Firestarter (as “Mailman”), while actor Graham Smith, who stars as Ivan the Angry Punk, followed up with a role as “Porter Zinneman” in Silver Bullet, and actor Martin Tucker, here as Lenny, was a featured background actor in Maximum Overdrive. (The rest of the actors in the film are done-and-gone.)
Now, let’s see if we can sort out this confusing plot of rock bands, psycho boyfriends, blind street preachers, we-think-we-murdered-him runaways, mistaken-identity jewel thieves, stolen $5000 cash-stashes, and you have-to-come-home-because-dad-is-sick hijinks. And we say “hijinks,” because, even with the plot points of murder, larceny and terminal illness, this is still, yes, a comedy — bankrolled by Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma shingle.
We have another rock n’ roll tale of (the later) The Runnin’ Kind (1989) variety, with Martin: a lonely n’ horny college era ne’er-do-well who, this time, travels from Boston to (another) a college rock hotspot in (Chapel Hill) North Carolina (yes, and bands are from Athens) all for love of Nicole, the lead singer of his favorite band, Cherry Suicide. In his attempt to meet Nicole, Martin, instead, hooks up with Nicole’s sister, Samantha (with one sister, but pining for the other; been there, done that) and gets wrapped up in their personal drama (been there, done that, too).
And Martin runs afoul of the trope-laden hot Nicole’s Ivan, her trope-laden crazy-ass-frack boyfriend (with bad haircut to match the bad thespin’). Nickie and little sis get the drop on Ivan the Hammy during one of his abusive-psycho rages, gives him a good whack on the noggin’, and steal his ill-gotten stash of five grand. So, now, the sisters need to split town — and recruit Martin to head on down to North Carolina.
But why North Carolina, of all places?
Well, turns out the sisters’ dad is terminally ill, so they’ll just bring their murder-robbery drama (Ivan’s not dead, after all) into their mom and dad’s home. You gotta love the family-love.
Oh, and Martin brings along his blind, street preacher buddy, Wally, because, well, a gang is loose on the streets randomly beating up street beggars in a crazed search for a valuable ring — one that ended up in the panhandling cup of a beggar: Wally’s cup. (Oh, Leon Rippy runs the seedy, Virginia hotel that Cherry Suicide and friends checks-in; the new wave caterwauls of the Cheryl Wilson Band doubles as Cherry Suicide.)
You got that?
Yeah, as you can see, this film — sans a somewhat cool soundtrack (the Cheryl Wilson stuff is utterlyawful; couldn’t you get Josie Cotton from Valley Girl, at least) that was never officially released — is a hot mess (with plenty of comedic musical montage fillers to pad that run time, as if the rock band scenes weren’t enough). Yeah, this ain’t no Cotton Candy. Where’s the deliciously dickish Torbin Bequette — in place of Ivan the Crappy Actor — when we need him?
What’s not a (Troma) mess is the cinematography and sound; this is a well-shot film, courtesy of Austin McKinney — winding down his long career begun in the early ’50s. In addition to working on a few films with Jack Hill (Fear Chamber, House of Evil, Pit Stop, Isle of the Snake People, Alien Terror, Sorceress), McKinney designed the visual effects in Escape from New York and The Terminator, and worked in the sound department on A Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellraiser III. You’ve also seen his camerawork in work in Galaxy of Terror, Jaws 3-D, and (radio station romp) Redneck Miller. McKinney also shot Olsen’s Getting It On and After School (so maybe they’ll be worth digging up, after all).
You can pick up copies of Rockin’ Road Trip on DVD by VCI, which features a stills gallery from William Olsen’s personal collection (with his voice over), as well as a 20-minute interview vignette with Olsen, who tells us the film was planned as a larger scale project — with Ellen Barkin as the rocker chick and Peter Riegert as the love-struck artist. Considering Barkin was in Eddie and the Cruisers and Riegert was in Animal House (this film’s dual, raison d’être ______ “meets” ______ pitch) that would have been something to see. But financing issues stymied their castings . . . and we ended up with a bunch of never-heard-of-or-seen-again North Carolina theatre actors.
So, with $20,000 bucks in his pocket, Olsen gave us this rock ‘n’ not-roll excuse for a T&A sex comedy — one that so wants to be Porky’s, but can’t make the grades to get into Faber. But hey, Rockin’ Road Trip ended up as a USA’s Up All Night weekend-overnight programmer, and that’s not bad return on the investment of two Salmon P. Chase greenbacks.
Yeah, thanks to The USA Network, it was something to do on a dateless Saturday Night — once you had your fill of Riki Rachtman frackin’ up MTV’s Headbangers Ball (dick). But as with the abysmal Hail Ceasar and Splitz, both which we reviewed this week, Rockin’ Road Trip is another not-rockin’ flick you watched once (well, twice, if you have to write a review for it) and you never go back home again. But, hey, you can stream for a retro $2.00 rental on Amazon Prime — and get the DVDs (with crappy art work) at Walmart (for the VHS sadist in you). (Oddly enough, back when my local public library carried VHS tapes, a copy Rockin’ Road Trip — probably a patron donation — was on the shelf.)
You say you need more ’80s college rock of the Georgia peach variety? Then check out Love Tractor — and many others — in the documentary (and released soundtrack) Athens, Ga. Inside/Out (1987; there’s bits n’ pieces of it on You Tube). If you need another errant college-cum-new wave band showing up in a film (with a band that had an actual commercial radio hit), check out the Plimsouls doing “A Million Miles Away” in Valley Girl. Hey, almost forgot! If you want to see another (superior) North Carolina band rockin’ it up in a movie, check out Fetchin’ Bones with “Love Crushing in (the radio romp) A Matter of Degrees. (Yeah, if only we had John Doe of X and Hope Nichols of Fetchin’ Bones in the roles originally meant for Ellen Barkin and Peter Riegert . . . oh, well.)
Roger Wilson, the star of this movie, lost his parents at a young age and inherited several million. He graduated Woodberry Forest School in 1975 with Marvin Bush, the brother of the former President, and had a pretty astounding life, marrying Estée Lauder model Shaun Casey before dating Christy Turlington and Elizabeth Berkley, which was the reason why a member of Leonardo DiCaprio’s circle of friends punched Wilson in the throat and damaged his larynx so badly that he never sang again. You can read more about that in a past review of this film.
Anyways, Roger is Richie in this movie, the working class kid who becomes the guitarist and singer of the band Magic and also the boyfriend of Beth (Jill Schoelen). You know, if you’re a touring musician and dating Jill Schoelen, you should just settle down and not do too much more. You’re already so far ahead of the rest of all humanity.
Richie has taken the lead role from Skip (Leif Garrett, who knows a thing or two about rock and roll and drugs). Donnie, the keyboard player, is the one who gets into the drugs so badly that he just doesn’t make it. But it’s not all rough. I mean, the band has Clancy Brown — the Kurgan — as their road manager!
Director J. S. Cardone also made The Slayer, a movie that makes no sense so much that I love it, and the direct to video sequel to 8mm. He also directed Shadowzone; A Climate for Killing; Black Day, Blue Night; Outside Ozona; True Blue and Wicked Little Things.
Shot in Tucson, Arizona — using some of the same locations as The Wraith and Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man — with local band Surgical Steel* showing up to play, Thunder Alley isn’t the best rock and roll movie there is. But you know, you could microwave up some food and have your own rib fest while you watch it.
*Their singer, Jeff Martin, sang in Racer X and played drums for Badlands after Eric Singer left. He’s also worked with Paul Gilbert and Michael Schenker quite often.
What do you get when you put writer Snoo Wilson and director Phillip Saville (Crash: The Mystery of Flight 1501), two Shakespearean-trained and BBC-TV nurtured chaps, into a room to create a project for an always worth the price-of-admission Patick Macnee? You get an obscurity that had its last television showing in its native U.K. on Channel Four in April 1998; in Australia in 1996. As with the recently reviewed Mill Creek The Excellent Eighties box set programmer, Blunt, the Fourth Man (1987), Shadey was part of Channel Four’s efforts in making movies for television and theatrical release.
So, with a touch of David Cronenberg’s Scanners (1981) and a pinch of Videodrome (1983), and a soupçon of Brian De Palma The Fury (1978), and, why not, a dash of Douglas Trumbull’s Brainstorm (1983), we get Oliver Shadey: a sexually-frustrated, lonely car mechanic-owner of a bankrupt garage who decides to cash-in on his ESP abilities.
Our man Shadey (Antony Sher, from Monty Python’s Erik the Viking to Joe Johnson’s The Wolfman) isn’t your run-of-the-mill clairvoyant: he can visualize anything happening in the world — as well as see into the future — and transfer those images to film. So Shadey makes a deal with Sir Cyril Landau (Patrick Macnee), a wealthy British industrialist — who subsequently sells him out to British Intelligence for his own person gain. Oh, and it’s not just personal and business bankruptcy that drives Shadey’s greed: he needs the money for a sex change operation.
Oh, by the way: this is a comedy.
We know this is a comedy, not because of the sex change operation angle, but because Shadey runs around with a camera strapped to the side of his head. And because the film opens with aerobics porn. And there’s a goth-punk band video shoot with shapely women swingin’ hoola-hoops — while adorned in gas masks. And Sir Landau may be in an incestuous relationship with his daughter. And Shady cross-dresses and dates an older man. And the film co-stars noted U.S television actress Katherine Helmond (Soap, Who’s the Boss, and Everybody Loves Raymond), who’s not exactly know for her work in serious, dramatic roles.
So, what’s with the camera and how did Shadey and Sir Landau get into business? Well, by way of his abilities, Shadey’s discovered a new, Russian diamond field excavation in the heart of Siberia. And Shadey “knows” how much Sir Landau loves his diamonds. Once the word is out on Shadey’s gift, he’s on the run with the MI5 the CIA hot pursuit — evil government psychologist Doctor Cloud (Billie Whitelaw, 1976’s The Omen to 2007’s Hot Fuzz), in particular — as we are left questioning what is real and what is hallucination in our reluctant-spy’s mind. Helping Shadey are Macnee’s agoraphobic-looney wife (Helmond) and materialistic model daughter (Leslie Ash, The Who’s Quadrophenia and Curse of the Pink Panther).
Since we are dealing with a movie created by two classically-trained BBC filmmakers, the proceedings are assembled well-enough, there’s a couple laughs amid the seriousness, and the acting from all quarters is solid — that’s played straight against the comedy.
You know what?
Forget the comedic Cronenberg inference: this is sounding all a wee-bit like a John Carpenter joint. Celluloid project with me: Instead of British actor Antony Sher: Chevy Chase stars as Shadey and Daryl Hannah stars as our evil operative instead of Billie Whitelaw, as we foreshadow the sci-fi black comedy bomb that was Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992). “North by Northwest meets Starman,” indeed, John. Indeed.
Since those late ’90s TV airings, Shadey has since turned up on DVD (DVD Planet Store and DVD Lady are two outlets), but caveat your regions and emptor your grey-market DVR discs, dear readers. Shop smart. You can also find copies of Shadey on Amazon Prime UK (again, region and grey alerts).
You can watch Shadey online via a with-ads stream on You Tube as a sign-in view courtesy of FilmRise Features (there’s a lot of eclectic uploads on their page, so check ’em out) or as a (very clean) VOD on Amazon Prime US.
Hey, Mill Creek! Give us Shadey on a DVD — even on a box set. Hey, Shout! Factory, do for Shadey what you did for that Chevy Chase stinkeroo. We, the denizens of the video fringe, demand it.
“People always ask me if it’s difficult for me at my age to keep up with trends. What they don’t understand is that I’m not older today. I was already older before,” said Samuel Arkoff, formerly of American-International Pictures and now the head of Arkoff International Pictures. After selling AIP to Filmways and seeing them pretty much immediately screw it up, he started making the kinds of movies he made all along like Q The Winged Serpent, The Final Terror and this film.
Susan’s (Judy Landers) mom gets killed and she forgets who she is after the murderer pushes her through a window, which means she gets sent to the Hellhole, which does not sound like the kind of hospital that someone goes to when they’re mentally ill, but who are we to place out 2021 values on to an exploitation movie from 1985?
Actually, it’s the Ashland Sanitarium for Women and the killer — Silk (Ray Sharkey) — now works there, watching over Susan in case she gets her memory back. He’s not the worst maniac in this movie. That would be Dr. Fletcher (Mary Woronov forever!), who loves performing lobotomy experiments.
Talk about a cast! This has Marjoe Gortner, Edy Williams, Robert Z’Dar, Frogs star Lynn Borden, Mighty Joe Young actress Terry Moore, Carol Ita White from Savage Streets and Dyanne Thorne in it and you know, that’s way more star power than several movies usually get. Aaron Butler, who was one of the writers of this, also wrote Chained Heat, so that should tell you what you’re getting into.
Pierre De Moro only made two other movies, Savannah Smiles and Christmas Mountain, and this feels like the kind of work made by a man who is sick of making children and families happy.
Man, it’s a real letdown learning that other than the first Fangoria Tom Savini documentary that everything that Starlog and Fangoria video is absolutely horrible.
Take this Damon Santostefano-directed* piece of garbage. Santosefano also directed the classic Scream Greats, Vol. 1 “Tom Savini, Master of Horror Effects” and inversely in no way classic Scream Greats, Vol. 2 “Satanism and Witchcraft.” He also directed Severed Ties, which has Johnny Legend, Oliver Reed, Garreyy Morris and Elke Sommer in the cast, so I have to find that one.
At least this movie is only an hour long, even if the Alien comedy segment feels like it goes on forever. It was also known as Cinemagic, which does not make it any better than it is.
*Actually, he only directed the beyond bad film critic wraparound. The other directors were Jeffrey Baker for “Illegal Alien, Frank Kerr for “Nightfright,” Jonathan Mostow making “Dr. Dobermind” and Richard Taylor for “The Thing in the Basement.” Of these directors, Mostow has had the most success, directing Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Surrogates.
Baby Born With Full Beard! BBQ Of The Dead! Killer Vacuum Destroys Town! Tabloid promises to bring the good old days of the black and white National Enquirer — and then the Weekly World News, which was printed on the old black and white press when the more socially redeemable Enquirer went full color — to life*.
This was directed by Glen Coburn (Blood Suckers from Outer Space), Matt Devil (Ozone: The Attack of the Redneck Mutants) and Bret McCormick (his The Abomination is one of the most incredibly upsetting in the best way movies I’ve seen).
Despite this having an awesome concept, the execution fails. When your movie starts with aliens attacking an aerobics class and it leads to yawns instead of excitement, you really are struggling. The stories aren’t even really stories, just scenes jammed together. A gun battle between rednecks leads to the birth of the bearded baby. Zombies have a cookout. And a tornado comes out of a vacuum. Otherwise, reporters discuss how they get these stories.
A tabloid horror anthology is a great idea. This isn’t it.
And yes, that is Lisa Loeb in the third story.
*The tabloid also inspired David Byrne’s True Stories.
If their work in Jungle Rats (reviewed this week, look for it) wasn’t enough to satiate your Philippines-based, Rambo-inspired Namsploitation . . . Jim Gaines, Teddy “Chiu” Page, and Romano “Rom” Kristoff are back in Black Fire. (Go ahead, make fun. But I loved renting these Rom-Rambo knockoffs back in the day. My Rom-ness is only matched by my Michael Sopkiw-ness and my Mark Gregory-ness.)
Kristoff is Sgt. Frank Johnson — aka, Code Name: Black Fire — who is not just a lethal Vietnam killing machine: he’s a lethal ninja warrior killing machine: a skill the bulky Stallone didn’t know and couldn’t do if he tried. But our favorite Spanish expatriate martial artist can! But Agent Black Fire is so skilled that he’s become not only a danger to the ‘Gong, but to his own men: his commanding officers mark him for termination. And beware of Black Fire’s special ops, missile-equipped crossbow!
After suffering a concussion from a grenade blast in ‘Nam, Sgt. Frank experiences childhood flashbacks as a ninja in those dreams: he’s tapped back into is inner Qi — and he’s gonna need it. Upon recouping, Sgt. Frank is sent to San Sebastian with his buddy Sgt. Jim Anderson (yep, Jim Gaines) to work as U.S. military advisers . . . or investigate “something” (does it really matter; we’re not here for plot points). And the duo stumble into the (white-suited, natch) base commander’s illegal weapons ring. Yep: Black Fire must be terminated.
This one’s got it all: bad guys in eyepatches, exploding huts, exploding towers, “dramatic” slo-motion scenes of screaming as the bullets fly, and the ubiquitous, out-of-sync bad dubbing. Are there suspicious stock scenes you’ve seen before? Is the music muddy-familiar?
Uh, is this your first time watching a Silver Star Film production? Quick asking stupid questions and enjoy the “Rambo” of it all.
And, remember our “Ancient Future Week” of old computer-based movies from the ’80s and ’90s? Check out the very cute Chantal Mansfield (In her only movie role? Why?) banging out the data on the green-on-black MS-DOS CRT helping our Sgts. Frank and Jim solve the war crimes.
You have to feel bad for the Vietnam vets in this movie. They go back to Nam with the best of intentions, hoping to destroy the Golden Triangle’s drug empires, but when they get there they learn that their fellow soldiers are the ones behind it all.
How did they get there? Well, Chris Mitchum had a gas station that he stopped some criminals from robbing, so they responded by killing his adopted son and assaulting his wife. Instead of, you know, going through counseling and working through it, she decides that the best thing she can do is kill herself while he’s calling the cops. I’m not one to tell anyone how to deal with their grief, but somewhere between anger and bargaining and acceptance and hope is drawing up the plans for a mobile battle RV and building motorcycles with rockets on them.
I mean, this movie starts out as Death Wish, has our hero get arrested and then the authorities tell him to get together with his old commandos and go do some real killing. This feels like the kind of movie a bunch of strange children with too many G.I. Joes and perhaps too much knowledge of cocaine would film on their parent’s camcorder in stop motion. Inside their mind, the movie looks like the stuff of dreams. To adults, it looks like an action figure just standing there while children scream things about adopting babies in flashback sequences.
This is a movie that has a commando unit named the Rat Bastards and an adopted Vietnamese child named Charlie. If you can commit to that — and you love John Phillip Law as much as I do — then you really can’t lose.
Here’s how the hiearchy of renting movies worked in the 80s: Are all the Stallone, Arnold and Van Damme movies out? Then reach for some Michael Dudikoff. Oh, those are out? Does the store have any Cirio Santiago stuff? Good deal. No? They’re all out? Well, I guess Bobby A. Suarez will do. I recommend Cleopatra Wong and another movie he wroteBionic Boy.