Star Princess Defender (2012)

Also known as Dirty Blondes from Beyond, this Fred Olen Ray science fiction movie starts when Princess Farra (Brandin Rackley) dealing with Vulvian Empress Krella (Christine Nguyen), who responds to an offer to combine their efforts to deal with cosmic thunderstorms by invading Farra’s planet, sending her and her attendant Vema (Jazy Berlin) to Earth, where they struggle to fix their shop and avoid the Men In Black (Voodoo and Jenna Presley) and hide in the house of Jock (Evan Stone).

There are actually some nice special effects in this — the spaceships are pretty cool — but the rest of the movie just looks antiseptic and way too clean. Maybe it’s the Full Moon Tubi re-edit of this movie, which seemingly cuts the film in half by cutting out most of the sex scenes. You know that stupid Twitter debate about whether or not movies should have sex in them any more? Let’s have some of those #filmtwitter geeks stop watching the latest A24 movie and wallow in the world of Cinemax After Dark and let me know how good these movies are deprived of simulated scissoring. I defy you.

You can watch this on Tubi.

The Amazing Bulk (2012)

$6,000 to shoot the movie.

Five days to make it.

$8,000 for music and effects, many of which came directly from stock photo websites.

And a movie that goes from live action on green screen to literally stock video running on top of itself, as a purple blobby man runs through green fields and past children playing soccer and leprechauns dancing.

I have absolutely no idea what Lewis Schoenbrun intended with this movie but wow. It takes a lot to make me just stare at a movie with my jaw fully dropped, but this one did it more than once.

Scientist Henry “Hank” Howard is working for General Darwin to develop a super soldier serum, but he really wants to marry the military boss’ daughter Hannah. However, he’s not permitted until he creates an invention that works. The pressure gets to him and he injects himself with the untested formula and turns into The Bulk.

There’s also a villain named Dr. Werner von Kantlove and his wife Lolita, who has a castle that the Bulk must destroy for the government, who reacts to his help by dropping a nuke on him.

Some people watch this movie and get mad about what a waste of time they think it is. For me, it’s joy, because the cover is great and some people have rented this and are unprepared for what they’re about to see. People should be surprised. Art should attack you. We all need a Xerox purple Bruce Banner Henry Howard running through the cartoony meadows of our nightmares.

You can watch this on Tubi.

The Bad Samaritan Must Die (2012)

A teenager known as The Orphan wants to meet the vigilante The Bad Samaritan, who in no way becomes the Batman to her Robin. It also turns out that he’s becoming something of a religious figure to the cops and people of the city, which is starting to go to his head.

He also looks an awful lot like the Midnighter.

This movie is kind of upsetting because it has a great premise — can worshipping someone not worth worshipping ever go well and hmm, I think I’ve lived through the answer to that one — but it’s shot so poorly and shifts tones so abruptly that it never really has a chance to deliver on the premise that it sells you on.

That’s a shame because I really want to see the movie that I thought that it was.

You can watch this on Tubi.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 8: Trannysnatchers! (2012)

Outside a small God-fearing American town, a cult of demon worshiping gender queer killers awaits their own savior, the one that will return to our planet and crush the Gender Binary underneathe its cloven hoof.

Pretty much everything people worry that trans people will do when they enter a bathroom, Trannysnatchers! seizes the SOV ethos of the 80s and makes a messy, gooey and ridiculous in the best way horror film.

Made over two summers in Portland, Oregon, this was directed by Caedmonster (who also played Hella and worked an assistant camera person, boom operator, sound editor, choreographer, production coordinator, writer, editor, producer, production designer, art director, script supervisor and set decortator), Nicholas Boxwell (also story, cinematographer, writer, digital effects, editor, associate producer, production manager and sound mixer) and James Gottleber (best boy, camera, story, editor, executive producer, production designer and set decorator).

According to the Kickstarter page for the movie, Caedmonster said, “Being that we are improvisational artists, this film is not constructed in the traditional sense. Working with a detailed outline, rather than a script, all the performances are improvised.

This film is a labour of love for us. It’s a very unique opportunity to create something that is thru and thru a collaboration between people who genuinely love one another. Each cast member has developed their own character, and the story was written by all of us over a series of meetings.

Transgendered people are marginalized so much in our society, which is why we are making a film that gives a voice to this group of people. Many of us on the crew are genderqueer, and we hope to offer up a piece of work that can shine a light on this issue. This film is our torch song.”

I had a blast watching it, as it really pushed as hard as you can push. Here’s hoping that this gets some kind of release someday outside of just YouTube, because I had a blast watching it.

JESS FRANCO MONTH: Al Pereira vs. the Alligator Ladies (2012)

This is Jess Franco’s last movie, or so they say on IMDB, but then how did Revenge of the Alligator Ladies get made in 2013?

Three alligator ladies — Carmen Montes (Snakewoman), Irene Verdú and Paula Davis (who was in Franco’s Paula-Paula) — have come to find detective Al Pereira, the hero of several Franco films. In fact, actor Antonio Mayans had played Pereira in Botas negras, látigo de cueroDiamonds of KilimandjaroLilianTwo Spies in Flowered Panties and the two late Alligator Ladies movies. Pereira was also played by Olivier Mathot in Midnight Party, Howard Vernon in Les ebranlées, Eddie Constantine in Attack of the Robots, Conrado San Martin in Agent 77, Franco himself in Downtown and Lina Romay even played a relative of Al, Alma Pereira, in Paula-Paula.

This movie is charitably a mess and more of a series of scenes in which Al insults — and at the same time encourages — the alligator women to keep having Jess Franco sapphic pleasures and I use that phrase because I don’t believe that any women have ever indulged in one another as they do in a Franco movie.

There’s also a moment where Jess and crew show up in a mirror and instead of editing that out, he starts giving orders to the actors. This becomes an entire movie, A Ritmo de Jess. But come on, let’s cut the man some slack. By this point, Lina Romay had died from cancer and Jess was probably lost. So if he wanted to make a movie where some women got naked in a hotel conference room and bedeviled one of his longest running characters in a film that wants to be meta but is really just a One Shot softcore movie with a little bit of story, so what? Could you imagine if Jess was your grandfather, out there in a wheelchair with a Yankees hat yelling at women to scissor harder?

Jess said that this was a “happy movie about happy people” and it seems like just about everyone was willing to indulge him. So that makes me happy, even if I feel party in the indulging by forcing myself to sit through this.

SLASHER MONTH: Stitches (2012)

We watched Conor McMahon’s Let the Wrong One In last month, which led us to this movie, in which Richard Grindle is Stitches the clown, cursed by an egg to always remain alive until he finishes the party that he was at where a group of unruly kids jerked around and caused his very violent death.

Years later, as he’s restored to his undead life, Stitches hunts down each of the kids who caused his death one by one and dispatches them in a manner most unbecoming to a happy clown.

With shoutouts to A Nightmare On Elm Street — main character Tommy takes the same Hypnocil that the Elm Street kids did to keep their dreams from happening — and no small amount of the grisly red stuff, consider Stitches if you’ve run out of slashers for your October watching.

Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell (2012)

What a path from Japan to my little house in Monongahela, PA, USA: Filmed in 1995. Edited in 2005. Completed in 2009. Released in 2012 on DVD-R. Theatrical release and DVD in Japan 2014. Released internationally in 2017.

After a surprise phone call from his photojournalist ex-girlfriend interrupts the most important part of his day — his workout — Naoto agrees to meet her to research haunted houses. Along with a professional psychic, they enter the abandoned home of Naoto’s father, a place with a dark secret and a ghost — Naoto’s mother! — with a grudge decades old.

Then a clock flies off the wall and knocks out the psychic, possessing her with the spirit of the long-dead spirit was has been stuck within the walls of the house. And then the goop and gore start flowing through the floorboards and down the walls and Evil Dead gets referenced, but man this shot on video film is closer to a rip off of a rip off of a direct to video sequel to that movie and that’s more than a great thing.

I mean, Naoto even finds a shotgun and says “Groovy.” And that’s all you really need, you know?

3 A.M. (2012)

Made in Thailand by directors Patchanon Tummajira, Kirati Nakintanon and Isara Nadee, this film takes its title from the time that the supernatural happens.

In “The Wig,” sisters May and Mint are running the family wig business while their parents travel. They unknowingly buy the hair of a dead woman whose spirit begins to haunt May as she makes it into a new hairpiece. Meanwhile, Mint’s friends are acting up and are all killed by the ghost in various ways, including a harrowing scene where one of their heads has been moved to the wig shelf. For some reason, this section totally hit all of the right notes with me.

The “Corpse Bride” presents a mortician willing to aardvark the dead to save them from an abusive ghost in the afterlife. I mean, I guess that’s what he was trying to do, but it turns out that the dead woman isn’t the angel that she seems to be, no matter how gorgeous her corpse is.

In “O.T.,” two bosses delight in playing pranks on their employees involving fake ghosts, but when they go too far and two of their workforce die…well perhaps they shouldn’t have ever gotten on that elevator.

This movie was successful and had two sequels, 3 AM: Part 2 and 3 AM: Part 3, which also is known as Aftershock. I assume that this movie would have been much more frightening if I saw it in 3D, as it played in theaters with that technology.

You can watch this on YouTube.

John Carter (2012)

Sure, everyone knows Tarzan, but how many people were clamouring for a movie all about Edgar Rice Burroughs’ other hero, the Earthman gone to Mars John Carter? Well, me. But I’m also the same guy who went nuts when Valerian came out.

The first book in the adventures of this character — A Princess of Mars — came out in 1917 and was followed by a total of eleven novels. As early as 1931, Looney Tunes director Bob Clampett got Burroughs’ approval to make a John Carter movie and worked with teh writer’s son John Coleman Burroughs to create rotoscoped animation that was quite realistic. After showing the test footage to film exhibitors in 1936, the movie was cancelled as they believed that the idea of men on Mars was too outlandish for small town audiences. Keep in mind that the very next year saw Flash Gordon play theaters and become a huge success. If Clampett had succeeded, he would have beat Snow White and become the first full-length animated film.

Ray Harryhausen wanted to make this film in the 50s and John McTiernan and Tom Cruise tried in the 80s, but technology was never at the right level to make a movie that could capture the look and feel that the novels promised. There was an attempt to make the movie with Robert Rodriguez and John Favreau as well; when the latter fell apart, Favreau moved on to start the MCU with Iron Man. He did voice a Tharg bookie in this film, as he was excited that it was getting made.

Andrew Stanton, who directed the Pixar films Finding Nemo and WALL-E was able to convince Disney to get the right back from Paramount and that he could make John Carter into a franchise. Stanton then went on to pretty much shoot the movie twice, consulted animation experts instead of those who made live action movies and ignored marketing advice. There was no way he could have won, however. The movie needed to make $600 million worldwide to just break even, an amazing number that only sixty-three movies have been able to achieve.

The movie lost Disney more than $200 million and cost the studio’s head Rich Ross his job. He’d already cancelled a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea remake and cut the budget on The Lone Ranger, yet gave this movie all the money it wanted and a $100 million budget on top of that.

How could a movie like this fail? Was it because using Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” in the trailers made it seem old fashioned? Did the original Star Wars like ads not reach moviegoers? Did fans of Burroughs even know this was in theaters? Or are properties like The ShadowGreen Hornet and The Phantom — and John Carter — no longer well-known?

The actual movie is, charitably, a mess. It’s a gorgeous looking one, though, with fully realized Tharks and the world of Barsoom. It also strangely has Burroughs himself in the film as a character and starts with the bad guy getting a superweapon instead of introducing us to its hero.

We’ll never get to see Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars, sadly. This film bombed on such a nuclear level that probably no studio will ever make another John Carter film. Don’t tell the Burroughs estate, who got the rights back and want to make another go of it. Hey — it took 79 years of development to make the first one.

Girl vs. Monster (2012)

Olivia Holt played Dagger in the adaption of the Marvel Comic Cloak and Dagger. She stars in this series — which is a little like Elsa Bloodstone from the Marvel Universe — as Skylar Lewis, the daughter of two monster hunters who must deal with Deimata, the demon that haunted her grandfather and now is making her life horrible.

Seeing as how this is a Disney Channel TV movie, this is closer to a song and dance teen dramedy than the slam bang monster mash that you may be hoping for. That said, there’s fun here for younger viewers and solid direction from Stuart Gillard, whose career stretches from the Willie Aames and Phoebe Cates adventure film Paradise and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III to the remake of The Initiation of Sarah, the sequel WarGames: The Dead Code and plenty of episodic television.

What I liked most was the design of the weaponry, which really feels steampunk in the best of ways, and the fact that every main character had their very own fear demon that can only be defeated in very specific ways.