Tag Archives: Schlock

The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

Buckle up, kids; we're in for a weird ride.
Buckle up, kids; we’re in for a weird ride.

“This movie is totally out of control”

Directed by John Landis
Starring… Well, no one really.

This film is not so much a single film as a series of sketches, including news and current affairs parodies, mock advertisements and movie trailers and spoof pornography. The longest single segment is A Fistful of Yen, a half hour parody of Enter the Dragon which ends up as a Wizard of Oz pastiche.

Continue reading The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

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Summer of Lovecraft: City of the Living Dead (1980)

This is the zombies' patented 'squeeze the brain out of the back of your skull' attack.
Buckle up, kids; this is going to be a rough one.

“From the bowels of the Earth they came… to collect the living.”

Directed by Lucio Fulci
Starring Christopher George, Catriona MacColl and Carlo De Mejo

The Story

There are vestiges here of ‘The Dunwich Horror’, but only in the broadest terms – Dunwich, horror, gateway to Hell.

The Film

Mary (MacColl) apparently dies of fright during a seance, but is rescued from a premature burial by reporter Peter (George) and describes her vision of a priest committing suicide in a town called Dunwich. Her medium, Theresa, explains that this was prophesied in the Book of Enoch, and that the priest’s suicide opened the gates of Hell. If he is not destroyed by All Soul’s Day, the dead will rise and destroy the living.

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Continue reading Summer of Lovecraft: City of the Living Dead (1980)

Summer of Lovecraft: Beyond Re-Animator (2003)

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“Welcome to a world where death is only the beginning”

Directed by Brian Yuzna
Starring Jeffrey Combs, Jason Barry, Simon Andreu and Elsa Pataky

The Story

This film is a sequel to Re-Animator, rather than an adaptation of the original story. It ignores much of the ending of the first film, however, largely in order to bring Combs’ West back in.

The Film

During the ‘Miskatonic massacre’, one of the reanimated corpses escapes and kills a young woman as her brother, Howard Phillips (geddit?), watches. Phillips later sees Herbert West (Combs) being taken away by the police. Years later, West is continuing his work in prison, when Phillips (Barry) arrives as the new prison doctor, bringing the last of the reagent and asking to work with West.

summerattemp2 Continue reading Summer of Lovecraft: Beyond Re-Animator (2003)

The Summer of Lovecraft: The Haunted Palace (1963)

The film makes it clear that the 'honour' is all hers.
The film makes it clear that the ‘honour’ is all hers, and another alternate tagline asks more accurately: “What was the terrifying thing in the PIT that wanted women.”

“A warlock’s home is his castle…Forever!”

Directed by Roger Corman
Starring Vincent Price, Deborah Paget and Lon Chaney Jr.

The Story

Although the film is called ‘Edgar Allen Poe’s The Haunted Palace‘ and ends with a line from the titular poem, it is actually based on H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward’ (as was The Resurrected,) in which the eponymous New England gentleman’s fascination with his sorcerous ancestor Joseph Curwen leads him to resurrect the long dead, serial killing warlock from his essential salts. At first Curwen instructs Ward in alchemy, but soon takes advantage of their uncanny resemblance, murdering the young man and taking his place to continue his work, raising and torturing the smartest folks in the graveyard for their wisdom. When his anachronistic ways lead to his committal, Ward’s friend Dr Willett uncovers his work, releases a being he has summoned and abused, then kills Curwen and reduces his body to the ‘essential saltes’ from which he was raised.

The Film

18th century warlock Joseph Curwen (Price) is accused of stealing the souls of young women, and burned to death by the people of Arkham village, swearing vengeance from beyond the grave before the flames take him. 110 years later, his great-great-grandson Charles Dexter Ward (also Price) moves into Curwen’s palace along with his wife Anne (Paget).

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Continue reading The Summer of Lovecraft: The Haunted Palace (1963)

The Tomb (2008, or possibly 2009)

This one is going to hurt, isn't it?
This one is going to hurt, isn’t it?

“Death comes to all… but one.”

Directed by Michael Staininger
Starring Wes Bentley, Sofya Skya, Michael Madsen and Eric Roberts

The Story

So, I lined this one up for The Summer of Lovecraft, but it turns out this one isn’t based on Lovecraft’s ‘The Tomb’, but on, well…

This title is far more helpful
This title is far more helpful

The nameless narrator’s marriage to the beautiful, intelligent Ligeia ends with her tragic death. Sometime later, he marries the beautiful Lady Rowena, who also dies, then returns to life, but as Ligeia, who once told her husband that will could overcome death.

The Film

Jonathan Merrick (Bentley) is one of those independently wealthy English lit professors, with a beautiful fiancee named Rowena (Kaitlin Doubleday) and a promising career. But then in walks Ligeia (Skya), a sexy Ukrainian grad student researching the existence of the soul.

Continue reading The Tomb (2008, or possibly 2009)

The Summer of Lovecraft: Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968)

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“Terror fills the night as she stalks her prey!”

Directed by Vernon Sewell

Starring Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Mark Eden, Virginia Wetherell, Barbara Steele and Michael Gough. Blimey.

This film connects to both our Christopher Lee retrospective and the ongoing Summer of Lovecraft. Economical!

The Story

It’s our second outing for “The Dreams in the Witch House,” so I’ll be brief. Physics student believes physics and witchcraft may be related; he is right. Old house, weird room, rat monster, interdimensional travel, baby-murdering, anti-Polish prejudice, heart eaten. OK? OK.

The Film

Antique dealer Robert Manning goes back to his family’s ancestral village of Greymarshe to look for his missing brother. While there, he encounters local squire type Morley (Lee), his beautiful daughter Eve (Wetherell), nervous butler Elder (Gough) and grumpy old professor Marshe (Karloff), together with his sunglassed factotum Basil. Eve has a wild hippie party that is totally unimportant to the plot except that as soon as Manning arrives at remote Craxted Lodge we get to see some tasteful seminudity.

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Continue reading The Summer of Lovecraft: Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968)

Ghost Shark (2013)

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“DONT. GET. WET.” (sic)

Directed by Griff Furst
Starring Mackenzie Rosman, Dave Randolph-Mayhem Davis and Richard Moll

When drunken rednecks attack and kill a shark, the fish returns in spirit form to devour them, the captain of their boat and then … well, pretty much everyone who gets in its way. A group of teens get attacked by the ghost shark and must race to discover the magical secret of the shark’s reappearance with the aid of a drunken old lighthouse keeper (Night Court‘s Richard Moll).

Continue reading Ghost Shark (2013)

Black Death (2010)

Black-Death-2010

“Journey into Hell”

Directed by Christopher Smith
Starring Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne and Carice van Houten

In the time of plague, a group of Christian soldiers ride to destroy a village which they believe to have turned from God, where they find a pagan cult who raise the dead and believe that the plague is a Christian pestilence sent by God for Christians alone.

Continue reading Black Death (2010)

Ice Soldiers (2013)

Ice Soldiers

Directed by Sturla Gunnarsson
Starring Dominic Purcell, Adam Beach and Michael Ironside

During the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, a team of elite, genetically-engineered Russian commandos are found in Canada and vanish after killing a camp full of soldiers and raping a doctor.

Fifty years later, fresh-faced quinquagenarian Andrew Malraux (Purcell) is searching for the three Russians, working with an oil company engineer and her mercenary security chief (Ironside) for funding. They find the three frozen, but they thaw and begin another massacre, leaving only Malraux and Inuit trapper TC Cardinal (Beach) to hunt them down. Continue reading Ice Soldiers (2013)

Rise of the Shadow Warrior (2013)

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(Also called Dragon Lore: Curse of the Shadow and Saga: the Shadow Cabal.)

“When death called, three renegades answered.”

Director John Lyde

Starring Richard McWilliams, Danielle Chuchran, Paul D. Hunt

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: there’s the Shadow, right, which is bad, and the Order, which is good, and there’s a prophesied Shadow sort of evil messiah character who’s going to turn up and lead a legion of the undead to, y’know, cover all the lands in a second darkness. When a tough-as-nails elf bounty hunter (Chuchran) gets infected with a Shadow curse, she has to join forces with a doubting paladin (McWilliams) and a gruff but honourable orc warrior (Hunt) to prevent the evil Goth Azul (Spanish for “blue goth”) from rising again.

What’s wrong with it?

OK, guys, I’ve got a pitch for you. I want to make a fantasy movie, right, and it’s going to be exactly like every other goddamn fantasy movie ever except that I don’t have the same level of budget, experience or technical ability as other filmmakers so it’s going to be kind of half-assed and slightly inferior. That’s going to be a huge hit, right?

Rise of the Saga of the Shadow Curse Cabal Warrior doesn’t really bring very much new to the table. Its orcs look like they’re wearing official Peter Jackson orc costumes, its characters are Ranger, Paladin and Barbarian, everyone starts out distrusting each other but eventually learns to get along, Dwarfs wear goggles and have bombs and generally look like they’re from WoW.

Its pacing and narrative are also a little clumsy. A lot of individual scenes are quite well done, but their role in the overall structure isn’t really clear. At one point, for instance, we see our heroes climbing some mountains on their way to confront the baddies. The camera pauses for a moment to do a big twirl around Nemyt, the elf. It’s a nice shot: the mountains are pretty and Nemyt is pretty. But I’m not sure why it happened then or what it had to do with what came before or after it.

I guess that’s not too uncommon with twirly landscape shots, though. Let me give you a better example: at one point, gruff orc warrior Kullimon leaves the party for a bit. He runs for a while across some landscapes, a la Conan the Barbarian. Then he gets in a boat and paddles it, using a tree branch for some reason. He is confronted by some mermaids. They drag him into the water, he stabs them and they swim away. Eventually he rejoins the party. So this whole scene happened because … ? I guess it was important because the filmmakers wanted to have scenes with just Keltus (the pally) and Nemyt, but the Kullimon scenes serve absolutely no purpose. Also, the mermaids have nasty pointy teeth, like every other fucking mermaid in the last ten years.

Also, there is a gang of slow motion in this movie, often in scenes where its meaning is not readily apparent.

Fight choreography in films is something you can’t just approximate. In fact, a lot of the swordfights and punchups in this film are not bad; Nemyt in particular leaps around athletically and puts a lot of effort into it. The problem is the larger battle scenes, where the choreography breaks down, leaving a lot of the lesser combatants standing around visibly in the background waiting for their turn to charge in and get mown down.

What’s right with it?

It’s pretty brisk. As soon as the opening narration and swoopy map shot are done, we’re right in to Nemyt shooting down a dragon with a giant ballista, then having a swordfight with an orc, then Keltus hunting down some weird old Dwarf and getting into another poorly-choreographed fight. Unlike a lot of bad movies, this one at least starts off with stuff happening. It saves all its tedious walk-and-talk for later.

It has some varied locations. I don’t know where this was shot — somewhere in the American west, by the looks of it — but there’s a lot of scenery and it isn’t all the same. If the scene in the mine shaft is a clever use of a found location, then good for the filmmakers. Although the movie tries to make its world look more alien with lots of fantasy-type filters on the sky, which is really distracting.

Nemyt may be an attractive girl in tight leather armour, but she’s not as terribly over-sexualised as many of her equivalents elsewhere. That is to say, she’s clearly intended to be sexy in a tough-bad-girl sort of way, but the camera doesn’t particularly leer at her, and it’s only the male characters who get their kit off. She does get captured and threatened with rape (or maybe cannibalism), but it’s not too salacious and it’s over quickly. That’s not a very high standard, but sadly even that level of common decency isn’t universal.

The costumes are really pretty good, except for Keltus’s which is a bit blah. The Orc helmets are nice, and there’s a lot of little attention to detail. The design aesthetic is a little … derivative, shall we say? It’s basically a mashup of D&D, WoW and the Lord of the Rings films. But it shows care and enthusiasm.

How bad is it really?

There’s clearly a lot of enthusiasm in this film, just not married to an equivalent level of resources, technical skill or experience. It’s like a bar-band cover of a popular song from the last 20 years. Not bad per se, but why seek it out?

Best bit (if such there is)?

Keltus and Kullimon are waiting for Nemyt to go make a fake exchange of some gold for a relic with evil orcs. Kullimon starts singing a little orcish song about snapping spines and how his enemies shit themselves. There is a pause, then he says “the Common Tongue does not do it justice.” It’s not the best joke ever, but it’s one of few in a movie that takes itself really seriously.

What’s up with…? 

  • Keltus addressing the random prophesyin’ woman he meets in town as “old crone,” when she is clearly about his age?
  • The same woman later turning out to be a goddess who saves Keltus during his death/crisis of faith scene? He reveals that he’s switched goddesses later on like it’s supposed to be a big deal, but I think it would have more of an impact if we knew anything at all about either of them.
  • The Wandering Monster Table? Encounters with mermaids and some kind of sea serpent for no apparent reason.
  • The final fight scene, where our heroes are battling the baddies, the plan to resurrect Goth Azul hangs in the balance, and most of the evil cultists are just … swaying gently from side to side in the background?
  • The evil lich guy cursing the orc leader to make him immortal and thereby winning his loyalty? If he could do that all along, why was there even this convoluted plan to buy the relic with some gold hidden in a hollow log?
  • Kullimon exclaiming “ha ha ha!” all the time? That’s not what laughter sounds like.

Ratings

Production values Doing their best; strong in some areas (costumes, locations) and weak in others (soundtrack, CG) – 14
Dialogue and performances Uninspired. – 16
Plot and execution Someone’s beloved fantasy setting, with all the usual derivativeness. – 15
Randomness Occasional flashes to relieve the predictability. – 12
Waste of potential Frankly, it’s impressive it’s as good as it is. – 10

Overall 67%