The Excellent Eighties: Casablanca Express (1989)

Oh, yes! The ’80s are excellent when you get an old Sergio Martino war flick from those HBO days of yore, as you binged this alongside High Risk, Tuareg: The Desert Warrior (both reviewed this month via Mill Creek, look for them), and Inglorious Bastards. And don’t let the fact that we have the sons of Sean Connery and Anthony Quinn, Jason and Francesco, as our costarring leading men, deter your watching: they’re very good, here. When it is learned the Nazis are plotting to kidnap Winston Churchill on his way to the 1942 Casablanca Conference also attended by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin, a crack commando unit is assigned for protection. Let the bullets fly and the explosions mushroom!

This isn’t — based on it being an Italian production headed by Sergio Martino, who gave us 2019: After the Fall of New York and Monster Shark (and too many Giallos* to mention) — a copycat schlock festival of pasta-war madness. Thanks to Glenn Ford and Donald Pleasence (as Maj. General Williams and Col. Bats) classing up the joint as only they know how, this — for moi — goes down as one of the best war movies of the early ’80s cable-era. This is the level of film that Michael Sopkiw deserved to be in. Even though Mike retired from acting by this point, Sergio should have called him in — especially after sticking him with Monster Shark. Mike would have been great in Jason Connery’s role.

You can get your own copy of Casablanca Express as part of Mill Creek’s Excellent Eighties 50-Film Set and you can watch it on You Tube.

* We dive deep into the bloody, yellow mayhem of Sergio Martino’s — and many other’s films — with our “Exploring: Giallo” featurette of 70-plus film reviews.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

The Excellent Eighties: Slipstream (1989)

Editor’s Note: Beware of the duplicate titles snafu, for there are two Slipstream movies: The 1973 one by William Fruet of Funeral Home, Baker County, U.S.A., Killer Party, and Blue Monkey fame, which is a Canadian drama about a troubled disc jockey: that’s the Slipstream no one knows. Then there’s the one that everyone knows — and most haven’t seen: the Mark Hamill one that, regardless of its pedigree, fails on all levels. And we wish that Mill Creek would save the 1973 one from obscurity and put it on a box set. You have two choices to pick up a copy of the Mark Hamill Slipstream: we reviewed it on November 5, 2020, as part of their Sci-Fi Invasion set and we’re revisiting it — with this second, alternate take — as part of its inclusion on Mill Creek’s Excellent Eighties 50-film pack, which we are reviewing all this month.

The overseas 25-minute making-of documentary courtesy of Pineapples 101 Movie Memorabilia Emporium blogspot.

This is a movie that many of us encountered, not in theaters as intended (at least not in the U.S.), or on VHS where it ended up: but as an oft-run movie on HBO. And regardless of how many times the pay-channel ran the film, most of us never finished it.

Why? Because it’s boring. But how is that possible?

We have Gary Kurtz who produced the first two Star Wars films with George Lucas at the helm. We have director Steven Lisberger who set the tone for future computer-animated universe films with Tron. And how can we forget Kurtz also gave us The Dark Crystal, and a bit further back, Two-Lane Blacktop and American Graffiti. Behind the camera is Frank Tidy, who got his start working with the Scott brothers, Ridley and Tony, in commercials and came to shoot The Duellists for Ridley, as well as one of the better Star Wars droppings with Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (a film that’s still eluded a B&S once-over). We’ve got a score by Elmer Bernstein, whose work goes all the way back to Cat-Women of the Moon (you’ve seen, at the very least, ten movies in your lifetime with his composing and/or conducting). Behind the typewriter is, in part, Charles Pogue, who gave us David Cronenberg’s The Fly reboot and the Star Wars-inspired swords-and-sorcery romps Dragonheart and Kull the Conqueror. In the plot department: you’ve got a Mad Mad-cum-The Road Warrior post-apocalyptic vibe about dueling bounty hunters. In front of the camera: you’ve got Mark Hamill from Star Wars and Bil Paxton (who was fantastic) in Aliens, along with support roles by both Ben Kingsley and F. Murray Abraham.

So what went wrong?

Maybe it’s because the film opens with a homage to the “Crop Duster Scene” from Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (You Tube) that many seemed to miss — and those that “got it,” weren’t wowed by it. Then there’s that kiss of death: the dreaded voiceover that sets up the mythology where “global warming” finally did it: the Harmonic Converge baked the Earth, split the continents and created a “river of wind” that rendered the planet into one big dust bowl. The few who survive are the ones who’ve learned to harness the wind and solar power, just as Al Gore has always hoped for.

Amid this “green new deal” backstory: We meet Will Tasker (Mark Hamill) and Belitski (British actress Kitty Aldridge, who came to marry Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits) who are — as in Mad Max — part of a ragtag not-the-Main Force Patrol law enforcement agency that allows their agents to sideline as bounty hunters. After a run-in with Matt Owens (Bill Paxton) and confiscating his illegal arms contraband, Owens kidnaps Tasker’s bounty (British Shakespearean stalwart Bob Peck) to collect the reward and recoup the cost of his arms shipment. Oh, and Peck is actually a healing-android (he can heal blindness) who perpetually quotes the poems of Lord Byron to communicate his feelings, which leads Owens to call his new solar-wind plane shipmate, Bryon. Before you know it: Owens gets caught up in Bryon’s quest to reach a mystical land beyond the Slipstream where others, like him, live in peace and harmony.

In the end: No one was ready for an off-the-road aviation-version of The Road Warrior (or Kevin Costner’s all-water version, either). And for as many who consider this Mark Hamill’s best role, there are those who say this role — as well as his work (in the even more abysmal) Time Runner (Australian made) and The Guyver (Japanese made) — is why Harrison Ford and not him — became an A-List Hollywood leading man. Yes, there’s a reason why Hamill retreated (abet successfully) into video game and anime voice work: Slipstream is one of those reasons.

Meanwhile, as Hamill kept pumping out one late-’80s clinker after clunker, poor Gary Kurtz didn’t fair much better. After his creative fallout with George Lucas that lead to Kurtz leaving the franchise during the pre-production of Return of the Jedi and still feeling the sting of his first post-Star Wars outing, The Dark Crystal, bombing with critics and audiences, Kurtz was hoping for a box office bonanza that would set up another franchise. Instead, Slipstream — even more so that The Dark Crystal — was a critical and commercial box office bomb that also failed to find a cult audience on home video. The film drove him into bankruptcy that, in turn, lead to his divorce. Worse: he burned though his Lucasian cash windfall to create his fantasy world solely dependent on wind and sun, just like Al Gore always wanted.

So, was it all worth it? The criticism on this British-made sci-fi’er splits down the middle with no middle ground: Star Wars ephemera-oids either love it or hate. And you can decide by checking out Slipstream on Tubi or own a copy as part of its inclusion on Mill Creek’s Sci-Fi Invasion and Excellent Eighties 50-film box sets.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies and publish music reviews and short stories on Medium.

THE EXCELLENT EIGHTIES: Twisted Obsession (1989)

Originally titled El Sueño del Mono Loco (The Dream of the Mad Monkey), this is based on the Christopher Frank book. While it has the 90’s genre of erotic thriller attached to it, this is very much in the world of the giallo.

To wit: Jeff Goldblum’s Dan Gillis is a stranger in a strange land, one of the key tropes of the giallo, a writer in Paris who has been left behind by his wife and suddenly a single father to his son Danny. A writer by trade, he’s brought in by a producer to work with an enfant terrible young director named Malcolm Greene on a script.

Ironically, the actor playing that young director — Dexter Fletcher — would grow up and move on from acting (he was Baby Face in the absurd and wonderful child gangster musical Bugsy Malone) to directing some of today’s biggest films, such as Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman.

What draws us closer to the psychosexual domain of the giallo is that Gillis soon becomes obsessed by Malcolm’s sister Jenny (Liza Walker from Hackers in her first film). While presented as somewhere in her teens, she’s also a lolita who possesses the sexual attention of every man she meets, from our protagonist to her brother.

Miranda Richardson also figures in as Dan’s disabled agent who, like everyone in this movie, just wants to get horizontal with one of West Homestead’s favorite sons.

I’m not saying this is a good movie. I’m just saying that it’s interesting that somehow Goldblum made two movies one after the other — this and Mister Frost  — that are borderline bonkers horror experimentations that no one really talks about. This is after he was a star from The Fly and yet here he is, making really strange movies in foreign lands. Leave it to a Mill Creek box set to bring this to my attention.

THE EXCELLENT EIGHTIES: Laser Mission (1989)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Brown is one of the two or three people who write for us that has his own IMDB page. He also has a cool Dragon Sound t-shirt.

Laser Mission is a 1989 action film starring Brandon Lee, Ernest Borgnine, and Debi Monohan. Lee plays Michael Gold, a mercenary hired by the CIA to bring in laser expert Dr. Braun (Borgnine), who is in danger of being captured and forced to build diamond-powered laser weaponry by a corrupt Soviet Colonel and a psychotic German soldier of fortune. The first attempt to get Braun to defect is thwarted when both men are captured and separated. Gold soon escapes and enlists the help of Braun’s daughter Alissa (Monohan) to find the doctor and prevent World War III.

I first saw this film in the mid-90s, probably around the time that The Crow was coming out or hitting home video, and sadly, that’s probably the only reason that anyone really bothered to check Laser Mission out. Brandon Lee had been appearing in films for several years, but had only recently emerged as a leading man before his untimely death. As was tradition pre-Internet, when an actor died, any distributors that had movies he appeared in cranked out cheap tapes with box art that wasn’t even for the movie that you were about to watch, with hopes that the newfound notoriety would get you to shell out $0.49 for that one-night rental. I specifically remember that the copy I picked up from the Hastings in Idaho Falls featured the same picture from the poster for Lee’s 1992 actioner Rapid Fire.

Was it any good, though? Even at the time, when I was 16 and would watch absolutely anything with a ninja or kickboxer in it (American or otherwise), I didn’t think it was “good”, but it was fun and memorable enough to want to revisit and talk about a quarter century later. I think I could appreciate a lot more about it this time around.

In the canon of 80s action movies, this one is sub-Cannon in its production values, but it’s just as absurd as its bigger-budgeted contemporaries and shows the same lack of regard for the lives of its performers as many of those same films that were just far enough under the mainstream radar to get away with it if they were able to shoot somewhere where they’d never be found.  In this film’s case, we spend much of our time in Namibia.  I was confused at first, as the characters in this film seem to come from all over the world (A Russian and German are running the show, supported by Cuban and African soldiers) and a lot of the signage in this movie is in Portuguese, but a little Googling revealed to me that most of the countries that use it as their official language are right there in that part of Africa.

Oh, and there are no lasers. Not a single one. Lots of talk of lasers and preventing the creation of laser weaponry, but none to be seen. It’s probably better that way, as I can’t imagine what that effect would look like in this movie. After all, when we see the theft of the Verbig Diamond in the film’s prolog (“Larger than the Hope, more spectacular than the Cullinan”), the place looks less like a museum and more like an Olive Garden that got shut down early for a private work party.  A bunch of goons get armed up in a Commando-like gearing-up scene, but they end up just gassing the whole room and walking out with the diamond without any shots fired or casualties, like in an episode of Batman. Aside from not using lasers or real diamonds, a lot of the sets are very sparse. Half the interiors look the same, whether it’s supposed to be a hotel, university, airport, or an apartment building. At one point during his escape from an African prison, where he was sentenced to die the next day by guillotine (a gift from the Belgian king in 1907), Gold knocks a guard unconscious and leaves through a door, only to enter the next shot through the SAME door, complete with unconscious guard still slumped over in the corner, running back down the same hallway that he just came from. I could go on and on about the cheapness of the film all day, but it’s more of a “seeing is believing” (or not believing you’re hearing the same song for the fifth time) kind of thing that’s more fun to discover for yourself.

(David Knopfler’s “Mercenary Man” plays.)

The action in the film is totally fine, with a few standout stunts that really go for it that mostly involve out-of-control vehicles and people being launched from them, as well as some impressive falls, a full body burn at one point, and guys really selling the hell out of the beatings they’re taking. Brandon Lee’s father was Bruce Lee, of course, and he’s quite a martial artist on his own, but they seem to make him more of a traditional American action hero here.  He has more of a brawling style that works better when you’re being attacked in the middle of a desert by a variety of hired guns, including probably the only white guy in a karate gi on the entire African continent.  The film’s director, Beau Smith, only made a handful of films before finding his niche in directing documentary specials and shows, but he has had a very extensive career performing and coordinating stunts in nearly 150 projects, most recently in 2014’s Amazing Spider-Man 2.

The performances are not bad, but they do get sketchy once you get away from the main characters. Lee is a lot of fun and is certainly charismatic and makes the most of what he’s given. As far as Michael Gold is concerned, I think they were shooting more for a Bond-like character, but he comes off as more of a sarcastic smartass. He has good chemistry with his co-stars and doesn’t seem to be phoning it in, but his one-liners don’t seem to rise very far above a “See ya, but I wouldn’t want to be ya”. I don’t know if he thought that this role would propel him to bigger and better things quite yet, but he’s trying.  Ernest Borgnine has just a handful of scenes, and while he appears happy to be there, he doesn’t seem to be putting a lot of effort into trying to pass for German, aside from saying “Liebchen” a lot. Debi Monohan is someone I didn’t recognize that would go on to have a pretty solid run of guest appearances on sitcoms and action shows throughout the 90s, and she’s pretty solid in this part as someone that could have easily been a damsel in distress that ends up being as much a part of the action as anyone else. Her and Lee have a good rapport and a back-and-forth that doesn’t feel too scripted or forced. The actors portraying the Russian Colonel and German villain also play those types well, but it gets kind of weird the further down the call sheet you go. Early on, we’re introduced to a pair of bumbling Cuban soldiers that serve as comic relief in a film that doesn’t really need it that somehow manage to Forrest Gump their way into all of the important events of the film after first encountering the very not-Hispanic Michael Gold impersonating their commanding officer. After that, it’s mostly extras with a few words here and there that don’t seem to understand the lines they’re deadpanning, which doesn’t really help sell Lee’s lame one-liners any better, but they all appear to be local hires that probably don’t speak English as a first or second language, so good for them.

Overall, Laser Mission is a quick, goofy way to spend eighty minutes.  It’s probably exactly the same movie that my 11-year-old self would have cooked up in 1989 if everything I knew about action was based on the twenty minutes I remembered from A View To A Kill, A-Team reruns, and a hundred episodes or so of GI Joe, all on what appeared to be a Nollywood budget. It’s rated R, I’m guessing for violence and very brief semi-nudity, but could probably pass for PG-13, as the violence is mostly bloodless and there isn’t any gore that I can remember.  This film can be found in the “Excellent Eighties” DVD collection from Mill Creek Entertainment.

(David Knopfler’s “Mercenary Man” plays…again.)

THE EXCITING EIGHTIES: The Lady and the Highwayman (1989)

Barbara Cartland’s romance novel Cupid Rides Pillion was filmed as this British TV movie, one of the first appearances by Hugh Grant, who appears alongside a pretty solid cast that includes Oliver Reed (once a werewolf, once a diver out of a mansion window in Burnt Offerings), Claire Bloom (Clash of the Titans), Michael York (who I associate with this type of movie most often, as he was in The Three Muskateers), Emma Samms (Dynasty), Sir John Mills (Quatermass in the 1979 TV movie) and Liz Fraser (who was in many of the Carry On movies) among others.

It’s yet another time I watch a movie and am amazed that it’s a John Hough movie. The guy has such a vast resume — everything from Twins of Evil and The Legend of Hell House in the late 60’s horror genre to great 70’s fare like Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry and the two Witch Mountain movies and then some out there 80’s stuff like The Watcher in the WoodsAmerican GothicBiggles and Howling IV: The Original Nightmare.

Emma Samms’ character of Lady Castlemaine is based on the life of Barbara Palmer, First Duchess of Cleveland, one of King Charles II’s mistresses and the mother of several of his children, in case you’re into British scandals.

This is the story of Lord Lucius Vyne (Grant), who is loyal to King Charles II and helping help to return to rule after Cromwell. He takes on a secret identity as the Silver Blade, kind of like a musketeer of sorts. He’s too late to save Lady Panthea Vyne’s (Lysette Anthony, Krull) King Charles Spaniel from being stomped to death, so fair warning if you like small dogs.

Even when the king comes back, he has enemies, so the Silver Blade remains in his service, even when it nearly costs him and his lady love’s life.

You can watch this on Tubi and trust me, the print is just as horrible on the Mill Creek release. I think with a British TV movie from the late 80’s, this is as good as we’re going to get.

Repost: W.B., Blue and the Bean (1989)

Editor’s Note: We originally reviewed this film on June 13, 2019, just because it’s the Hoff, you know? We’ve brought it back for its inclusion on the Mill Creek Excellent Eighties 50-film box set that we’re reviewing in full, this month.

Also known as Bail Out and Wings of Freedom, this movie gives the world what we’d been waiting for. One year after Witchery (also known as La Casa 4), the dream dup of Hasselhoff and Blair are reunited. Sometimes, Amazon Prime just knows what I need. And what I needed was this.

White Bread (Hasselhoff), Blue (stuntman Tony Brubaker) and Bean (Thomas Rosales Jr., Speed and the Paul Weller film Running Scared) are three bounty hunters who’ve been asked to protect Nettie Ridgeway (Blair), a wealthy socialite who just saw Colombia drug runners kill her ex-boyfriend. She’s kidnapped and taken to Mexico, so the boys have to rescue her so she can testify against the cartel.

Director Max Kleven has an interesting set of films he’s directed. While primarily known for stunts and second unit directing, he has the films The Night Stalker (which stars Charles Napier!), Deadly Stranger and Ruckus on his resume. The latter also features Blair and you know I’ll be watching it soon.

John Vernon is on hand to play Blair’s dad and you can look for an improbably young Danny Trejo here. Otherwise, there’s not much for anyone other than Linda Blair completists. Like me.

However, I am pleased to report that this DVD cover was so lazy, it just has a picture of Hasselhoff from Knight Rider.

You can get it as part of Mill Creek’s Excellent Eighties box set or watch it for free on Amazon Prime.

REPOST: My Mom’s A Werewolf (1989)

Editor’s Note: The first time we unpacked this film, it was with Melody Vera’s review on November 12, 2019 for our reviews of Mill Creek’s Pure Terror set. We reposted that review this past February 9 as part of the film appearing on Mill Creek’s B-Movie Blast set. Now, as we unpack Mill Creek’s Excellent Eighties 50-Film set, we’re re-running Sam’s take from December 14, 2020. And you know how we feel about the work of Michael Fischa and always-game actresses like Susan Blakely, around here!

You may have asked, “Did the director of Death Spa make anything else?” I’m here to answer that affirmatively, because today we’re going back to the Mill Creek Excellent Eighties box set with My Mom’s A Werewolf, an oddity that somehow unites some of my favorite disparate stars and plops them into a late 80’s comedy. This movie is ridiculous, yet it got me right from the beginning, thanks to plenty of cheesy synth and MTV era rock — I have a weakness for bands that only got their songs into one movie no one has ever heard of — as well as its loving depiction of a horror movie convention.

Leslie Shaber (Susan Blakely, who between CaponeThe Lords of FlatbushThe Concorde … Airport ’79 and Over the Top is all over our site; she’s also Cherry Diamond in Dream a Little Dream) is a suburban mom who has a boring life and a husband named Howard (John Schuck, forever Sgt. Charles Enright from McMillan & Wife, as well as the 80’s version of Herman Munster, the robotic cop from short-lived 70’s series Homes & Yoyo and the Klingon Kamarag, one of the few Star Trek characters to appear in more than one more of the films).

Her daughter Jennifer (Tina Caspary, who makes appearances in tons of 80’s favorites like Can’t Buy Me LoveTeen WitchMac and Me and Annie) worries that her parents will get divorced, but she continually gets sidetracked by her horror movie loving friend Stacey (Diana Barrows, who would end up in a horror movie herself, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood). I mean, this girl loves movies so much that she has Prime EvilDeathrow Gameshow and Galaxina posters up in her room. In fact, this movie mentions Galaxina more than anyone ever has.

They meet a fortune teller (Ruth Buzzi, of course), who tells Jennifer that she has the mark of the pentagram on her face and that soon, she’ll fight an unholy evil.

After being ignored by her husband while he watches football, Leslie goes shopping for a flea collar. The owner of the story, Harry Thropen (John Saxon, who is perhaps my favorite actor of all time) offers her a free flea collar while he eats a mouse. Seriously, he has the dirtiest and scariest pet store you’ve ever seen. So, of course, she falls for him and he ends up biting one of her toes, changing her.

This movie strangely treats the powers of werewolves like vampires, but hey, if you wanted to see Saxon shirtless, this movie is all for you.

This movie turns into sight gag city, with Jewish deli jokes, singing werewolves, a riff on the dentist scene from Little Shop of Horrors (the dentist is Geno Silva, who was the silent killer The Skull in Scarface) and the wolfen mom seeing John Saxon everywhere she goes.

It ends up being daughter against werewolf lord, complete with knowledge straight out of Fangoria. Oh yeah — Solid Gold host Marilyn McCoo and Marcia Wallace, who was the secretary on the original The Bob Newhart Show and Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons also is in here. Keep an eye out for Kimmy Robertson, who was Lucy on Twin Peaks too.

If you go into this expecting nothing to be serious and John Saxon quite literally chewing everything he can, than you’ll enjoy this as much as I did. The PURE TERROR set continually surprises me with the all of the place nature of its contents. I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am.

REPOST: My Mom’s A Werewolf (1989)

Editor’s Note: The first time we unpacked this film, on November 12, 2019, it was for its inclusion on Mill Creek’s Pure Terror set, in a review written by Melody Vena. We first read Melody Vena’s writing in last year’s Horror and Sons Halloween Horrors 2018 event and learned that she won the 2017 and 2018 Monster Movie Maniac “Monster Movie Marathon” contest by watching the most movies in one month. She also wrote about Man In the Attic for us last year. And when you learn that director Michael Fischa, he of the epic Death Spa, made his film debut with a werewolf comedy, well, Sam reviewed it a second time. And Mill Creek, never letting a cool obscurity be forgotten, have reissued it again, as part of their B-Movie Blast 50-Film set that we’re reviewing this month. Enjoy Melody’s take on the film!

My moms a werewolf hit the screen in May of 1989, a comedy/horror film much like Teen Wolf. With a cast starring John Saxon, John Schuck,Susan Blakely and Ruth Buzzi, and being directed by Michael Fischa the film has that classic 1980s cheesy vibe that we all know and somewhat love.

The movie focuses on an average kind of ditzy housewife (Susan Blakely) who is fed up with her boring doing the same thing every day kind of life, and the situation gets worse by the fact that she is being continually ignored by her husband, Howard (John Schuck). She often finds herself watching TV with the family dog instead of being included in things with the family. Meanwhile her daughter, Jennifer is being dragged to a horror convention by her horror obsessed friend, Stacey. Jennifer finds the whole convention boring. Very disinterested and skeptical by the whole scene, she agrees to have her fortune told by a palm reader at the convention. The fortune teller seems pretty phony at first, but then tells Jennifer that she sees the sign of the pentagram on her face, and warns her that she will “struggle with an unholy evil over the next few days.” Jennifer jokes that she must mean the Halloween party she’s been planning.

Meanwhile, Leslie leaves the house in a huff to go shopping, after being ignored by her husband once again. She goes to a local pet store to buy a flea-collar for her dog but is surprised by the mysterious owner, Harry Thropen (John Saxon), who offers to give her the collar for free. Taken back by the generous offer, she leaves the store and the camera focuses on Thropen as he sneakily eats one of the white mice he has for sale. As the she enters the street a thief grabs her bag, flipping her off before running away. Thropen, sees what happens and is able to catch the purse snatcher by appearing suddenly in front of him and throwing him onto a pickup truck full of eggs. Leslie is befuddled at how he was able to do this but offers to buy Thropen lunch in for his troubles. Worried about her parents’ marriage (all of a sudden), Jennifer goes with Stacey to the restaurant her mother frequents with a bunch of flowers, she has made a plan to tell her mother that the flowers are from her father.

Unfortunately she sees Leslie eating with a strange man and assumes that she is having an affair (I mean she is ignored A LOT). Although Leslie asserts to Thropen that she is a married woman, he goes right ahead and  kisses her anyway. 

The kiss ends abruptly when dessert arrives en flambe, and the flames scare him away.  Leslie chases him back to his shop ( all of a sudden full of courage) with Jennifer and Stacey following close behind. While in the shop Leslie continues to avoid his advances until Thropen removes the sunglasses he has been wearing, revealing disturbing orange irises which hold the ability to hypnotize her. Meanwhile outside Jennifer and Stacey are shooed away from the pet shop door by a policeman who catches them snooping outside, then he proceeds to look in the cracks himself. 

After a few cocktails (some with goldfish swimming in them) Leslie and Thropen start fooling around on a bed covered in animal skins. Leslie seems to be enjoying herself with the strange pet shop owner until he bites her big toe, which causes her to jump up and leave hurry (not the fact that she was about to go full blown affair with a stranger) Thropen allows her to go, saying that she would be back because he would “be in her thoughts.” (cause that’s not weird)

When she arrives back home the family dog, and her only friend, growls at Leslie. Then Jennifer attempts to confront her about the affair, a matter of which Leslie is genuinely ignorant, thanks to the glowing eyes of hypnotism. Howard also notices a change in Leslie, both in the way she cooks meat for dinner despite being vegetarian and more importantly the way she acts in the bedroom (because now all of a sudden he wants to have sex with the wife he has constantly been ignoring…must have been the meat). The next morning Leslie is horrified to learn her teeth have become fangs. She attempts to hide her deformity from her daughter who assumes she is nervous because of the presumed affair. Leslie goes to see the suggestively named dentist, Dr. Rod (and yes, the name fits the persona and behavior of doctor and nurses), to have her fangs filed down, which only results in a broken file and some lewd sounds of frustration from Dr. Rod. (think a lot of moaning and groaning)

Driven by cravings for meat, she stops at a butchery and gets a snack, Leslie drives back home eating raw meat, milk bones, and singing loudly to rock music (apparent werewolf behavior). When an elderly couple pull up next to her at a stoplight and the old man remarks: “Look Edna, a singing werewolf. We don’t see many of those nowadays, do we?”

My Mom’s A Werewolf is such a good time to watch, with its underlying sexual tones, and quick one liners, it’s surprising that it does not have much of a cult following. I will not give away any spoilers, I enjoy leaving you all wanting more, so I highly suggest giving this one a good watch. I mean is a horror comedy with a moral at heart – Men, don’t ignore your ladies because you never know where a furry beast may be waiting to pounce.

Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1989)

How weird is it when Bill Maher shows up in a movie and you don’t expect it? Like his roles in D.C. Cab or Pizza Man? Or when he shows up in the party scenes of Ratboy and House II?  But would you ever expect him to play the Indiana Jones of a jungle adventure movie?

The government is worried that our nation’s avocado supply is low — spoiler warning, this has happened several times, including once when I nearly got to make a post-apocalyptic Commerical for Wholly Guacamole before the price increases of avocado attacked that company’s fortunes — because of the Piranha cannibal women who live in the mysterious avocado jungles of San Bernardino. Well, they don’t eat women. They only eat men. So the powers that be send Professor Margo Hunt (Shannon Tweed), jungle guide Jim (Maher) and Bunny, an undergraduate student.

Along the way, they meet the men who serve the Piranhas — known as the Donnahews* — and learn that the last professor who went into the jungle — Dr. Kurtz (Adrienne Barbeau) — has gone feral and become the queen of the cannibals. This makes the second female society movie this week that Ms. Barbeau features in as the leader of women while also the first where her name is a Joseph Conrad joke. At least she got to kidnap Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Burial of the Rats.

There’s also another tribe of cannibal women, the Barracuda Women, and their main argument with the Avocado Women is over what condiment — clam dip or guacamole — goes best with male flesh.

Director J. F. Lawton would go on to write Pretty WomanUnder SiegeBlankman and create the Pam Anderson series V.I.P. Oh yeah, he also wrote the video game adaption Dead or Alive, the only one of those movies to feature a cast that includes Eric Roberts and Kevin Nash, who should definitely make a buddy cop movie together.

It’s pretty astounding that a movie that should totally be a softcore junk movie can somehow be an exploration of feminism while making fun of Cannibal Holocaust and have a character named after Conrad collaborator Ford Maddox Ford. It’s also a movie that dares to feature Shannon Tweed as a feminist professor and theorizes that there are light and dark sides to feminism, as if it is The Force.

You can watch this on Tubi.

*In 1989, this joke would have made sense, as it refers to Phil Donahue, whose feminist-slanted TV show really pushed that men should become more emotional. It wouldn’t be funny, but at least it would have made more sense.

Massacro (1989)

Directed by Andrea Bianchi (Burial Ground, Strip Nude for Your Killer) under the supervision of Lucio Fulci, this is all about the filming of the movie Dirty Blood, which has been infiltrated by an actual killer.

It starts off quick, with a trucker axe chopping a woman’s hand off and blood spraying everywhere. And if you’re saying, “That’s in Cat in the Brain…” so are many of the effects from this movie.

To make Dirty Blood as realistic as possible, everyone involved is called in for a seance from Madame Ullrich, but when she tries to reach her spirit guide, she only encounters evil, which comes in the form of an earthquake that knocks everyone around*. Oh yeah — and Jennifer, the lead in the movie, has a cop boyfriend who has been hunting down the killer we saw in the beginning.

Exactly how much Fulci had to do with this movie is debatable. What isn’t is that this was Bianchi’s last horror film. From here on out, he’d concentrate on adult films, mostly using the name Andrew White, including the trans triangle film Mystifying Revelation and other movies starring Cicciolina and Rocco Siffredi. He even made Fleshy Doll, one of the very adult films I can think of inspired by Oscar Wilde.

The gore is fun**, but all in all, I’d much rather see the movie they were shooting in this than the movie they actually made. Look, someday a high-end blu ray label is going to do a box set of all these presented by Fulci films and try to convince you that they have something special about them. They really don’t, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t enjoyable for lovers of bottom of the barrel and Italian genre cinema, which come to think of it, is often the same thing.

*It also takes the form of non-stop Fulci zooms, spinning cameras and the medium appearing as if she has two gigantic golf balls in her mouth. It’s a completely ludicrous and awesome scene that made me actually come around on this movie. The earthquake is so strong that it pops the cork off a bottle of champagne!

**Seriously, a girl gets murdered and left behind on a merry-go-round and the psychic woman gets impaled on a cemetery fence right through the crotch of her Macy’s slacks Cannibal Holocaust style.

You can watch this on YouTube or get the DVD from Revok.