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Old 03-31-10, 07:45 PM   #39
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Re: First Annual B-Movie/Exploitation/Drive-in Movie Challenge ***Lists Go Here***

All films are DVD format unless otherwise noted.
Bold = first-time viewing
* = wildcard selection
  1. The Crater Lake Monster (1977) - VHS. A meteor falls into Crater Lake, causing a dormant, fertilized plesiosaur egg to hatch. It doesn't take long for the dinosaur to develop a taste for cattle, sightseers and fugitives. Only the courage of the town sheriff (along with the noble sacrifice of a local yokel) proves powerful enough to stop the creature. Stop-motion sequences by David W. Allen momentarily increase the film's production values by eleventy percent, but the sequences only comprise five or ten minutes of the film's total runtime.
  2. Monster (A.K.A., "Monstroid") (1979) - Allegedly, this film is inspired by a true story-- so true that the filmmakers proclaim its truthiness twice before the opening credits even finish. I couldn't say what elements of the film were based on fact. You would think that people today would still talk about a giant, reptilian creature that devoured people in Colombia back in 1971, but that oddly seems not to be the case. Jim Mitchum (son of Robert) is sent to South America by a U.S. cement company to find out what's been terrorizing a small lakeside village. John Carradine appears as the village priest.
  3. Lady Whirlwind (1972) - This film was distributed in the United States as "Deep Thrust"-- no doubt an attempt by the distributors to cash in on the notoriety of Deep Throat, which was released the same year. Ling Shih Hao (played by Chang Yi) is recuperating with the aid of a country girl so that he can get his revenge on the Japanese thugs that nearly beat him to death. Enter Tien Li Chun (played by Angela Mao), who is seeking vengeance against Ling for jilting her recently deceased sister. Ling asks Tien to postpone her vendetta until he can defeat the Japanese crooks that beat him (including one played by Sammo Hung in an early role). The problem is that his fighting technique blows, and it's up to Tien to save his worthless hide. Fights are poorly choreographed and surprisingly bloody. Both Angela Mao and Sammo Hung would make appearances the following year in Enter the Dragon.
  4. Sister Street Fighter (1974) - Although it features players from the Street Fighter series, Sister Street Fighter owes much to the previous year's Enter the Dragon. When her brother goes missing during an undercover investigation of a drug smuggling ring, Tina Long (Sue Shihomi) travels to Japan to find him. An international cadre of martial artists stands in between Tina and the drug lord imprisoning her brother. Helping Tina along the way is karate champion Sonny Hibachi (Sonny Chiba). Messy fight-staging punctuated with startlingly violent shots culminates in a final showdown where Tina and the drug kingpin are visibly being assisted with wires. Sue Shihomi went on to do much more superior films, but there's still some whacked-out charm to this one.
  5. Lady Street Fighter (1985) - According to IMDb, this film was originally shot as "Deadly Games" in 1975 and was later changed to its current title to appeal to kung-fu movie fans. It certainly looks like a product of the '70s. Renee Harmon plays Linda Allen, a German woman who comes to America when her twin sister(?) is killed for knowing too much. To be honest, I don't really know what was going on most of the time. The movie runs for 72 minutes, and it was still padded out with recycled footage. Shoddy in all aspects.
  6. Lady Snowblood (1973) - Born in a prison, Yuki is raised with only one goal in her life: hunt down the criminals that destroyed her family! I'm a little hesitant to put this film on my list, because it really is a good film with high production values and inventive direction by Toshiya Fujita. The number of arterial jets of blood borders on the comical, but the action is handled well. Quentin Tarantino appropriates the film's theme song and certain visual motifs in Kill Bill, Volume 1, but Lucy Liu is no Meiko Kaji.
  7. Ninjas and Dragons (1984) - Junya Takagi plays Hayate, a ninja who comes to China to help protect one half of a royal jade seal. However, if there's one ninja around, then there's bound to be more just out of sight. This turns out to be the case, and both halves of the seal are soon in the possession of an evil Mongol general aided by two awfully mannish women and a freaky midget. It's up to Hayate and his new friend Lin to defeat the general, avenge Hayate's father's death and rescue Lin's fiancee. Phew! The martial arts sequences are competently staged, and there are some novel setpieces.
  8. Ninja Terminator (1985) - One would think that ninjas and Terminators would be two great tastes that go great together, but hackmeister Godfrey Ho proves that this is not the case. Three ninjas steal the three parts of the Ninja Empire's Golden Ninja Warrior idol. Two years later, the Ninja Empire tracks down and kills one of the ninjas in Hong Kong. The remaining two ninjas go after the dead ninja's sister (I think), believing that she knows the location of the third piece of the idol. It's pretty clear that the silly ninja footage is intercut with footage from a kung-fu detective movie, and the story is stitched together through dialogue looping. The worst offense is that the titular Ninja Terminator is never seen onscreen-- we only hear his nasal voice over a montage of ninja footage on a videocasette!

    Some ninja facts learned from this film:
    • Eyeliner is an integral part of the ninja uniform.
    • Ninjas love Garfield.
    • Ninjas eat watermelon with a fork and knife.
    • Ninjas prefer to deliver threats via crappy motorized toys.
  9. Bionic Ninja (1986) - Oh, man. Godfrey Ho is back at it again-- this time as "Tim Ashby." The film begins with a mysterious parcel being stolen from somebody. Shortly afterwards, the CIA sends an agent to Hong Kong to recover a secret film. It's revealed that ninjas are transporting secrets for the KGB. The CIA agent learns secret ninjitsu techniques from a manual given to him by a Japanese wise man. The final showdown takes place in a shipyard. The rest of the movie is cobbled from at least three different sources. All the ninjas do in this film is crouch behind objects and look around like perverts at a playground, or they get beat up in some of the worst fights committed to film. One non-ninja fight is set to the theme from Miami Vice! The worst offense of this film is that there isn't a single bionic ninja in the entire picture. Not even entertaining on a camp level, this film should take a note from the ninja of the film's title and remain unseen.
  10. Ninja in the Killing Field (1984) - The ninjas go to Thailand where they set up a drug trafficking ring. The DEA sends their top man stop them. The finale pits the Thai military against the ninjas, then good ninja versus evil ninja. Godfrey Ho (under the name "York Lam") splices more ninja goofiness with two or three Thai actioners for slightly-less-inept-than-usual results.
  11. The Ninja Strikes Back (1982) - After a stint in an Italian jail, Bruce (played by Bruce Lee-alike Bruce Le) resolves to reform his ways and follow the straight-and-narrow. However, his former employer has other plans for Bruce and attempts multiple times to force him to return to the fold. The police ask for Bruce's help when his ex-boss kidnaps the daughter of an ambassador, and Bruce sets off on a globetrotting adventure from Rome, to Paris, to Hong Kong and ending in a fight back at the Roman Coliseum. It's in Hong Kong that he encounters the deadly ninja, led by Harold Sakata ("Oddjob" from Goldfinger). There's very little in this film that's remotely original-- even the lead actor's only real claim to fame is vaguely resembling Bruce Lee-- but it's all still somehow entertaining.
  12. Ninja III: The Domination (1984) - VHS. A foxy female linesworker and part-time aerobics instructor (played by Lucinda Dickey) is possessed by the spirit of an evil ninja. Her task: murder the police officers that double-killed the evil ninja-- perhaps including her new cop boyfriend. Enter Yamada (played by Sho Kosugi), the one ninja that knows how to lift the curse. Many ninja films play up the supernatural aspects of ninja folklore, but this film practically transforms the ninja into an inhuman slasher movie killer. Although the obvious point of comparison would be with The Exorcist, the supernatural effects come straight from a low-rent version of Ghostbusters.
  13. Five Element Ninjas (1982) - After a Japanese fighter loses a martial arts contest, the winning martial arts school incurs the wrath of a ninja clan and their "Five Elements" style-- devious attacks incorporating wood, water, fire, earth and metal. One student of the ensuing massacre manages to escape, and he learns the secrets of the ninja from an old farmer. With new skills, a new weapon and three new brothers, the student faces off against the ninja for a final time. Loosely based on historical records, this is perhaps the most accurate portrayal of ninja that I've seen all week (which is to say, probably not accurate at all). Director Chang Cheh brings the goods with tightly-paced fight sequences and some grisly death scenes.
  14. Ninja Wars* (1982) - I find it hard to believe that this movie was made in the same year as Five Element Ninjas. The production values for the two movies are as different as night and day. A sorcerer proclaims that whoever weds beautiful Lady Ukyo will rule the world, so an evil lord schemes to steal her away with the help of five evil monks. Little does Ukyo know that she has a twin sister named Kagaribi (Noriko Watanabe in a dual role), a ninja who is in love with fellow ninja Jotaro (Hiroyuki Sanada). Kagaribi is kidnapped by the monks as part of the evil lord's plan, and Jotaro sets off to rescue her. With the help of a mysterious masked samurai (Sonny Chiba), Jotaro attempts to bring the evil lord's plan to light and eventually save Ukyo from peril. The direction by Kosei Saito felt a little too stage-y for my tastes, and the action is hard to follow. However, there is a fairy-tale quality to the story that's relatively effective. It bears restating that the film boasts some incredibly high production values. If it was a Hollywood production, it probably wouldn't qualify for this challenge.
  15. Revenge of the Ninja (1983) - When Cho (Sho Kosugi) practically loses his entire family to the deadly ninja, his friend Braden suggests that he open a gallery in America. Six years later, Cho is preparing to open a doll exhibition while teaching his son Kane (Sho's real-life son, Kane Kosugi) the traditions of the ninja. When Braden gets stiffed by the mob on a heroin deal, he decides to get even the ninja way! The mob strikes back by stealing Cho's dolls and leaving him for dead. Meanwhile, Kane witnesses his ninja granny's death at the hands of Braden. In order to save his son, Cho must once again don the black hood of the ninja. The movie ends with a climactic rooftop battle where both ninjas nearly showcase the complete catalog of ninja gags and gimmicks. Sam Firstenberg does an adequate job behind the camera, but I would have preferred less kid antics.
  16. Heroes of the East (A.K.A., "Shaolin Challenges Ninja") (1979) - Chinese Ah To (Gordon Liu) is married to Japanese Yumiko/Kung Zi (Yuka Mizuno) in order to strengthen the business relationship between their two families. When neither spouse will acknowledge the superiority of the other's native martial arts, a contest begins in the household for bragging rights. However, Kung Zi refuses to admit defeat to her husband and returns to Japan. Ah To sends a challenge letter to Kung Zi in an attempt to get her back, which is misinterpreted by ninjitsu master Takeno (Yasuaki Kurata) as a challenge to all Japanese martial artists. He and six other masters of Japanese martial arts travel to China to fight Ah To in a series of contests. The stakes are high, but the tone of the movie is considerably light with very little bloodshed. It's like a Howard Hawks domestic comedy with weapons and hand-to-hand combat.
  17. Shaolin Vs. Ninja (1983) - Apparently, there was more than one Shaolin temple in China. I didn't know that. Anyway, a Shaolin temple in Taiwan refuses to sign over their land to wicked Japanese overlords. so the dastardly ninja attempt to frame the Shaolin monks in a series of crimes. This leads to the murder of the head abbot of the Japanese Buddhist sect. The Japanese Buddhists travel to Taiwan to exact revenge for their abbot's murder, and a contest is arranged to somehow prove the Shaolin monks' innocence. The fights are frequent and acrobatic, but the plot is unnecessarily complicated and puzzling.
  18. The Image of Bruce Lee (1978) - The film begins with the chief of the Hong Kong Police's "Special Squad" (played by Bruce Lee impersonator Bruce Li in a yellow track suit, a la Game of Death) failing to prevent a man from jumping from the top of a high-rise building. It turns out the suicide is connected to a counterfeiting ring making bogus U.S. dollars. The key to busting the ring wide open rests on the beautiful Donna, who may or may not be what she seems. The film is a disappointingly by-the-book buddy cop actioner with some rather lackluster and perfunctory fight scenes.
  19. The Flying Guillotine (1975) - In the time of the Qing Dynasty, a Manchu emperor commissions the construction of a weapon that will allow him to secretly assassinate outspoken imperial officials. Inspired by street performers, one of the emperor's servants devises one of the most memorable weapons of martial arts film history: the flying guillotine! Kuan Tai Chen plays Ma Teng, one of a twelve-man imperial hit squad trained to use the flying guillotine. When the numerous beheadings begin to take a toll on him and his squadmates, Ma Teng escapes from the imperial palace. While on the run, Ma Teng meets a lovely street musician. The two try to begin a new life in the countryside, but his former squad is not far behind and out for his head. A martial arts classic with slasher/horror movie elements.
  20. The Prodigal Boxer (1973) - Fei Meng plays Chinese folk hero Fong Sai-Yuk. Impulsive Fong Sai-Yuk would rather play with his friends than train with his mother, a martial arts master. When Fong unintentionally kills a student of a local martial arts school, two teachers from the school (one played by Yasuaki Kurata) seek retribution for the student's death and kill Fong's father. Fong and his mother flee to the countryside, where he trains to avenge his father's death. Along the way, he learns a little about humility and begins a gentle courtship with an orphaned girl that the Fongs take into their household. There's nothing groundbreaking about the story, but it's not necessary to reinvent the wheel when making a crowdpleaser.
  21. King Boxer (A.K.A., "Five Fingers of Death") (1972) - Chih-Hao (played by Lo Lieh) is sent by his teacher to further his learning at another martial arts school. It's there that he learns the lethal "Iron Palm" technique. Meanwhile, the rival school hires some Japanese thugs to take out the competition before the big martial arts tournament. Chih-Hao recovers from an ambush by the Japanese in time to compete in the tournament, but it comes at the cost of both his teachers' lives. It's up to him to exact revenge against the rival school and the Japanese. Director Cheng Chang Ho employs some inventive use of lighting and crafts one particularly suspenseful sequence shot in near-darkness. This film is regarded as the film to have started the kung-fu movie craze of the '70s.
  22. The Shadow Whip (1971) - For a movie with such notable names as Lo Wei and Cheng Pei-Pei attached to it, the whole film has an air of inconsequence to it. Yun (Cheng Pei-Pei) runs a mountainside inn with her uncle. Her skill with a whip draws the attention of three groups of strangers, and each group is searching for the fugitive martial arts master known as the "Shadow Whip." Fight sequences are plentiful and competent, but the problem is the story. The core mystery doesn't make much sense. It's the first Shaw Brothers movie I've seen that's been entirely shot in snow, which was a nice change of pace.
  23. Heroes Two (1974) - When a movie begins with the destruction of the Shaolin Temple, you know you're in for some serious kung-fu action. Chen Kuan Tai plays Han rebel and Shaolin disciple Hung Hsi-Kwan. Alexander Fu Sheng plays Chinese folk hero Fong Sai-Yuk. Impulsive as always, Fong unknowingly assists the wicked Manchus capture compatriot Hung. However, Fong finds redemption by tunneling to the cellar where Hung is imprisoned. The screen turns literally turns red in the violent finale as Hung and Fong team up to defeat the evil Manchu general and his Tibetan Lama fighters. A solid outing for Chang Cheh and his stars.
  24. The Last Dragon (1985) - I'm a little hesitant to list this one, because it is a studio picture (Tri-Star). Also, I remember it doing pretty well in terms of box office during its initial release. Still, it's hard to deny the film's inherent cheesiness. Time definitely has not been kind to it. Taimak plays Leroy Green, a young man in Harlem who loves Asian culture to the point that he can't relate to his peers and family. He idolizes Bruce Lee, walks the streets in silk pajamas, eats with chopsticks-- you get the picture. His only rival is Sho' Nuff, the Shogun of Harlem. One night, he saves video jockey Laura Charles (Vanity) from the thugs of evil video game baron Eddie Arcadian. The thugs keep coming after Laura, and Sho' Nuff keeps coming after Leroy. Will Leroy find the mysterious "Master" in time to save Laura? Not exactly a love letter to kung-fu movies of the '70s, the film plays like some sort of misguided, neon-lit attempt to give Blaxploitation a touch of "class." Your film is in trouble when the best parts are footage of Bruce Lee.

    Before they were famous: William H. Macy as "J.J.", Chazz Palminteri as an unnamed thug and Keisha Knight Pulliam as Leroy's baby sister
  25. Black Belt Jones (1974) - After the success of Enter the Dragon, Jim Kelly was given the opportunity to shine in a martial arts movie of his own. Kelly plays Bill "Black Belt" Jones, a cop whose body is a lethal weapon. When his old karate teacher Pops (played by Scatman Crothers!) gets hassled by neighborhood kingpin Pinky, Jones steps in to try and persuade the thugs to leave the karate school alone. However, the criminals don't get the hint and do the old man anyway. It turns out the school actually belongs to Sydney (Gloria Hendry), Pops' foxy daughter. Jones and Sydney discover that the school happens to be on some valuable land, which is why the mob was so hot for Pops to sign it over. Jones and Sydney plan some payback, and the crooks get everything that's coming to them! An instantly recognizable theme song by Dennis Coffey. Robert Clouse isn't a very good director. Taimak wishes he was Jim Kelly.
  26. Slaughter (1972) - Jim Brown plays the titular hero, an ex-Green Beret looking to avenge the death of his parents in a car bombing. When his personal vendetta crosses paths with an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Treasury, they coerce Slaughter into traveling to Mexico and bringing down a mob boss and his wild lieutenant (played by Rip Torn). When he's not kicking ass, Slaughter romances a sexy gangster moll (the chest-acular Stella Stevens). Then it's all back to business. Jim Brown may not have a wide dramatic range, but he uses what he has to its full effect in this film. The theme song was recently used by Quentin Tarantino as Hugo Stiglitz' intro cue in Inglourious Basterds.
  27. Slaughter's Big Rip-Off (1973) - Shaft had his "Big Score," so it would make sense that Slaughter would get a "Big Rip-Off." When Slaughter's friends are gunned down in a fly-by shooting, Slaughter goes looking for justice. It seems that the mob is still sore at him for busting up their Mexican operation. A police detective coerces Slaughter into stealing a list of officials on the take from a gangster named Duncan (played by Ed McMahon). Slaughter recruits the help of a safecracking pimp (Richard Williams) to pull off the heist. The mob takes Slaughter's girl (Gloria Hendry in a rather thankless role) hostage, and that's when he decides to get dead serious! The globetrotting, smooth-operating Slaughter of the first film is replaced by a more street-wise, less suave hero in the sequel, and it doesn't really work to the film's benefit. Also starring Scatman Crothers. Score by the James Brown.
  28. Foxy Brown (1974) - For some odd reason, I keep wanting to type the title of this movie as C-O-F-F-Y. Originally envisioned as a sequel to Coffy, Pam Grier stars as a tough-yet-tender woman who takes on the local drug syndicate after her undercover agent boyfriend is killed. Brown's quest for vengeance is chock-full of sleazy scenarios bordering on the grotesque, but Grier manages to remain above the tawdriness of it all. It's notable that the film's "Mr. Big" character is also a woman.
  29. In Too Deep (1999) - Omar Epps gives a remarkable performance as Jeff Cole, a cop who goes deep undercover to take down a Cincinnati drug lord nicknamed "God" (played by LL Cool J). On its surface, the film is another (allegedly) true story of an undercover cop infiltrating a criminal syndicate. However, director Michael Rymer still finds a little room to add a few stylistic touches. Pam Grier has a supporting role in the film as a police detective. Also starring Stanley Tucci.
  30. Shaft (1971) - Private eye John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) is hired by Harlem crime boss Bumpy Jonas to find his kidnapped daugther. The police want some answers. The mob wants him dead. Unfortunately for them, Shaft's "the cat that won't cop out when there's danger all about." Despite a somewhat abrupt ending, director Gordon Parks delivers a mostly-solid film. Roundtree gives the defining performance of his career.
  31. Three the Hard Way (1974) - Jim Brown, Fred Williamson and Jim Kelly play three friends on a personal mission to stop a white supremacist from spiking the water supplies of D.C., Detroit and Los Angeles with a toxin that will only kill black people. Gordon Parks, Jr. gets three Blaxploitation icons together in front of the camera, but they aren't together for very long before the plot has them splitting up. Hal Needham and his crew supply some effective stuntwork, but I guess I was hoping for something a bit more substantial from this one.

    Before they were famous: Corbin Bernsen as "Boy"
  32. Black Mama, White Mama (1973) - Pam Grier plays Lee Daniels, a tough-talking hooker working for a powerful pimp in the Philippines. Margaret Markov plays Linda Brent, a young woman who has forsaken her wealthy upbringing to live as a revolutionary. They're cuffed together for transport to a maximum security prison when the convoy is ambushed. Amid the chaos, Daniels and Brent go on the run. Based in part on a story co-credited to future Academy Award winner Jonathan Demme, the film showcases plenty of exposed breasts, less-than-subtle lesbianism and other scenes of sexual debauchery. Sid Haig gives a particularly manic performance as bounty hunter Ruben.
  33. Hustler Squad (1976) - Set during World War II, an Army major (John Ericson) and the leader of the Filipino resistance hatch a scheme to assassinate four Japanese military leaders at a heavily-fortified island resort. Their plan: train four women to seduce and kill the targets. The movie plays out like a female "Dirty Third-Dozen." There is some nudity, but the film is somewhat chaste considering the lurid plot. The battle scenes are clumsily shot. Surprisingly, the filmmakers actually portray the Japanese with a little sympathy (or at least ambiguity). It's a poorly made film, but there's still some charm to be found in it.
  34. War Goddess (1973) - Okay, so the Amazons hold a contest every four years to select a new queen. It comes down to two warriors: the blond Antiope (Alena Johnson) and the dark-haired Oreitheia (Sabine Sun). The two engage in a topless oil wrestling match, and Antiope is named the new queen. The Amazons then meet with a group of Greek soldiers in order to, uh, increase their numbers. Traveling incognito among the Greek soldiers is King Theseus (Angelo Infanti). Based on a story co-credited to I, Claudius author Robert Graves, the battles and contests seem to exist to justify the nudity and oil wrestling in the film. Part of the problem is that the film is a tonal mess, veering from sex comedy to melodrama to historical epic between scenes.
  35. Amazons and Supermen (1975) - Another series of competitions are held to once again determine the leader of the Amazons. The new leader immediately orders her soldiers to learn the "secret of the sacred fire" from the "immortal" Dharma, a masked vigilante that watches over people like an ancient Zorro. Dharma and his fellow Asian and African "supermen" take on the Amazons and find time to fall in love with some good looking gals in between battles. This movie is an interminable bore. The hand-to-hand fights are clumsy and amateurish. The musical score is irritating. The comic relief falls flat. The final battle drags on for far too long. Finally, the Amazons never get nude at any point in the story. Amazons: historical cockteases.
  36. Switchblade Sisters (A.K.A., "The Jezebels") (1975) - Jack Hill mines Shakespearean drama from a story of troubled youth. After a stint in juvenile detention, new girl Maggie (Joanne Nail) joins up with the Dagger Debs-- sort of a women's auxiliary to the Silver Daggers gang. The Debs are led by pipsqueak terror Lace (Robbie Lee). Maggie's new friendship with Lace threatens Patch (Monica Gayle). What follows is loosely (loosely!) based on William Shakespeare's Othello. The story's not terribly well-acted, and the portrayal of teen gangs must have felt anachronistic even to '70s audiences. Still, I suppose that's part of its whacked-out charm.

    Before they were famous: Future sitcom dad Don Stark as "Hook"
  37. Long Weekend (1978) - Viewed in observance of Earth Day. A couple travels to a remote beach in an attempt to save their faltering marriage. They wind up disrespecting nature along the way, and nature strikes back. The film is interesting in that it's not one type of fauna or flora that antagonizes the humans; but it's the entirety of nature that seemingly wants the couple dead. It's never made explicitly clear for whom to cheer. Perhaps that's the point the filmmakers are attempting to make. We're all animals, but is it truly possible for humans to identify with nature?
  38. Savage Streets (1984) - When Brenda (Linda Blair) and her girl gang take the Scars' classic convertible for a joyride, the Scars get her back by brutally assaulting Brenda's deaf-mute sister. The violence escalates until Brenda decides to take the law into her own hands. Highly entertaining performances from Blair, Linnea Quigley as Brenda's sister Heather, John Vernon as the no-bull high school principal and Johnny Venocur as the newest Scar, Vince. It still blows my mind that it would only be a year later that Linnea Quigley would go from playing the virginal Heather to being Trash in Return of the Living Dead. The film also boasts a totally radical '80s music soundtrack.
  39. The Violent Years (1956) - Four spoiled rich girls go on a crime spree and exhibit quasi-lesbian behavior. The premise is ripe for exploitation, but the movie is hampered by far too much empty moralizing about the necessity for attentive parenting. Poor direction, wooden acting and horrible dialogue. IMDb and the case attribute the script to Ed Wood, but the writing credit is curiously missing in the print that I viewed.
  40. Class of 1984 (1982) - Perry King plays Andrew Norris, the idealistic new music teacher at Lincoln High School. He soon runs afoul of Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten) and Stegman's gang. Aggresions between the gang and the teacher escalate until they face off inside the school with the life of Norris' wife on the line. Director Mark L. Lester capably delivers sleazy scene after scene. Roddy McDowall gives an amazing performance as an unhinged Biology teacher.

    Before they were famous: Michael J. Fox (credited as "Michael Fox") as "Arthur"
  41. Teenage Graffiti (1977) - Josh is the adopted son of a farming family. His two brothers grow jealous of him when their parents give Josh a convertible as a high school graduation present. An uncomfortable encounter with a wealthy couple forces Josh to consider leaving town before he begins college. When one of his brothers overhears his father offer Josh the farm in a desperate attempt to prevent him from leaving, the pair conspire to murder Josh. I had read a few reviews complaining about the film's pacing, but I rather liked the gradual, off-the-cuff way the story unfolds. Maybe it was the North Carolina setting, but it reminded me a little like a less proficiently-made David Gordon Green movie.

    Before they were famous: Future sitcom high school teacher Jeannetta Arnette makes her on-camera debut as Josh's girlfriend "Annie"
  42. The Wild Ride (1960) - Johnny Varran leads a pack of teenage thrillseekers. They play chicken on the roads with motorcycle cops, buy beer without showing I.D. and race cars at the local dirt track. Then human wet blanket Nancy threatens to disrupt the status quo by luring Johnny's best friend Dave away from the gang with her responsibility and concern with safety. The slang-laden dialogue in the movie is just too far out, Dad.

    Before they were famous: Jack Nicholson in his first leading role(?) as "Johnny Varran"
  43. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974) - A shaggy-haired stock car driver and his mechanic (Peter Fonda and Adam Roarke, respectively) take a supermarket manager's family hostage for the market's daily bankroll. They pick up freewheeling groupie Mary Coombs (Susan George) during the getaway. The trio spends the rest of the film evading the police, led by the equally crafty Captain Franklin (Vic Morrow). The film showcases some incredible car stunts coordinated by Al Wyatt, Sr. and his crew. The "Charger vs. Chopper" sequence alone is worth the price of admission. An uncredited Roddy McDowall plays the supermarket manager. Susan George and the abrupt ending are really the two sourest notes that the film hits, but the rest of it is solid entertainment.
  44. Roadracers*(1994) - VHS. Part of Showtime's "Rebel Highway" series, director Robert Rodriguez presents an anachronistic, oddball homage to the "juvenile delinquency" movies of the '50s. David Arquette plays Dude Delaney, a no-good punk so tough that he spits at his own reflection in the mirror. The only things keeping him from ditching the small border town he lives in are his friend Nixer (John Hawkes) and his straight-laced girlfriend Donna. The local police chief (William Sadler) and his son would rather run him out of town on a rail. Dude gets the opportunity to join a touring rockabilly band, but will it be his ticket out of town? Stellar performances from John Hawkes and O'Neal Compton as a sagacious diner cook. Special appearance by Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers). I personally think this is Rodriguez's second best film aside from El Mariachi.

    Before they were famous: Salma Hayek (as Dude's girlfriend "Donna") would star in Desperado the following year
  45. Village of the Giants (1965) - A group of hard-partying teenagers invade Hainesville, where the local child prodigy (played by future Academy Award winner Ron "Ronny" Howard) has recently created a mysterious chemical substance that causes anything that ingests it to grow to gargantuan proportions. The teenagers steal the substance and give the "goo" a taste. That's when the real fun starts! Special effects auteur Bert I. Gordon very, very loosely adapts H.G. Wells' Food of the Gods to create a zany mashup of the "beach party" and "giant monster" genres. Quentin Tarantino recently used Jack Nitzsche's "The Last Ride"-- the movie's main theme-- as the opening theme in Death Proof.

    Before they were famous: Beau Bridges as "Fred" and Toni Basil as "Red"
  46. The Mighty Peking Man (1977) - Wealthy businessman Lu Tiem hires game hunter Johnny (Danny Lee) to track down the Peking Man, a giant primate that stalks the jungles of India. When their expedition turns deadly, Lu Tiem abandons Johnny in the middle of the night. Johnny encounters the lithe and nimble Samantha (the incredible Evelyne Kraft), an orphaned girl raised from an early age in the jungle by Peking Man. Johnny convinces Samantha to bring Peking Man (or "Utam" as Samantha calls him) back to Hong Kong with them. Utam and Samantha do not acclimate well to their new environs; and Utam, well, he goes apeshit crazy. Director Ho Meng Hua (The Flying Guillotine) delivers a giant monster movie that's decidedly earthier and more tragic than its Japanese counterparts (unless there's a Godzilla movie that includes attempted rape), but it comes up short in the effects department. Also starring the most docile jungle cats ever filmed.
  47. Konga (1961) - The Brits try their hands at making a "giant monster" movie with Konga, but they utimately wind up reaffirming Japan's supremacy within the genre. Michael Gough (Alfred from the Burton and Schumacher Batman movies) plays Dr. Charles Decker, a botanist who was believed to have died in a plane crash in Africa. He returns to the Isles a year later with exotic floral specimens and a chimpanzee companion named Konga. Dr. Decker develops a serum from the plants that causes Konga to go from a baby chimp, to an older chimp, to a man in a gorilla suit. Konga is sent out multiple times to dispatch all who would stand in the way of Dr. Decker's desires. When his doormat of a lab assistant realizes that she's being replaced by a younger woman, she gives Konga a final dose of serum that finally transforms him into a giant in a gorilla suit.

    The following are but only a few reasons why this film is terrible. First, Konga doesn't turn into a giant ape until the final act. Second, Konga doesn't really do much of anything as a giant ape except walk through the streets of London. Konga doesn't even climb Big Ben. He merely stands next to Big Ben. I get that the filmmakers were trying to give the audience a sense of scale, but have your giant gorilla do something besides stand by a monument and get shot by the army. Finally, there is absolutely nobody to root for in this movie. The characters are either underdeveloped or unlikeable. Maybe I was still drunk from the transcendant glory that is Mighty Peking Man, but I actually felt a little angry after watching this movie.
  48. King Kong Escapes (1967) - Dr. Who (no relation to the time traveler) and spy Madame X attempt to mine the powerful "Element X" from the Arctic Circle using a robotic version of King Kong. However, the radiation from Element X proves too powerful and fries Mechani-Kong's circuitry. They decide that their only other option is to capture the real Kong and force him to mine for Element X. Meanwhile, a UN super-submarine conveniently breaks down by the Pacific island of Mondo, where Kong resides. Commander Carl Nelson and his two subordinate officers befriend the giant ape, but they are unable to save him from Dr. Who. Kong is able to escape from Who's clutches and naturally heads for Japan. King Kong faces Mechani-Kong on top of Tokyo Tower, and only one will survive! Directed by the legendary Ishiro Honda, with special effects supervised by Eiji Tsuburaya and music by Akira Ifukube, the movie delivers on all fronts. Partly based on Rankin-Bass' own King Kong cartoon program.
  49. Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds (1977) - Erratic meteorological phenomena across Japan awaken a dormant plesiosaur in Lake Sai as the locals prepare for the annual "Dragon Festival." A geologist looking to restore his family's honor travels to Lake Sai after seeing a television news report about the possible discovery of a dinosaur egg in an ice cave. The egg does hatch, and a rhamphorhynchus emerges from the shell. Despite what my synopsis may suggest, the plot actually bears a striking resemblance to Jaws. The film is a Toei production and has a more mature sensibility than your standard Toho creature feature. Effects-wise, it doesn't fare as well.
  50. Death Machine (The UK Cut) (1994) - Being on the executive board of Chaank Armaments can be an occupational hazard. Already in the midst of a public relations disaster due to the failure of one of their prototype projects, executive Hayden Cale (Ely Pouget) begins snooping around the other projects of Chaank's psychotic genius Jack Dante (Brad Dourif). When Cale terminates Dante's employment, Dante responds by terminating executives with his "Warbeast" - a robotic killer that seeks out its victims by keying in on their fear. Things are further complicated by a trio of humanitarian terrorists who break into Chaank to take the corporation down. The remaining executives and the terrorists have to join forces in order to survive Dante's killer robot. The UK cut includes a subplot surrounding a past trauma in Cale's life and smaller bits that drive home the fact that the film is essentially a dark sci-fi comedy. This is a film for genre fans, clearly made by a genre fan (Blade director Stephen Norrington).
  51. DNA (1997) - Dr. Carl Wessenger (Jurgen Prochnow) locates discredited medical researcher Dr. Ash Mattley (Mark Dacascos) working as a doctor in Borneo. Dr. Wessenger offers Dr. Mattley the key to validating his research, but Mattley must first produce Wessenger the rare beetle that Mattley had proposed would be the key to curing many of humanity's diseases. Once the beetle is in possession of Wessenger, he double-crosses Mattley. Instead of using the beetle for what would seem like easy money in pharmaceuticals, Wessenger instead uses it to revive a 2,000 year-old alien creature. Two years later, a CIA agent travels to Borneo to recruit Mattley to find Wessenger and stop his project. Longtime visual effects supervisor William Mesa sits in the director's chair and gratuitously swipes from Jurassic Park, the Alien films and Predator. It's kind of fascinating to watch the movie unfold and wonder at the filmmakers' sheer audacity (or perhaps their naivete).
  52. Fifty/Fifty (1992) - The CIA hires two wisecracking mercenaries (Peter Weller and Robert Hays) to arm and train a small band of rebels to overthrow the dictator of the fictional island nation of Tengara. When they are sold out by their CIA handler, the pair decide to overthrow the dictator themselves. Take away the squibs, explosions and profanities, and what you have is a Hope/Crosby "Road" movie with Hays in the Hope role and Weller in the Crosby role. It's almost a shame that the duo never does break into song or that Weller doesn't serenade the female lead. Competently directed by Charles Martin Smith.
  53. The Terminator* (1984) - Back in 1984, a young director named James Cameron followed up his unremarkable work on Piranha Part II: The Spawning with a largely unseen movie called The Terminator. The movie also starred a fresh-faced talent from the world of bodybuilding named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Little is known about what happened to the two after completion of the film. One can only wonder how high their stars would have risen if only the film had found a following with audiences.

Last edited by nezumi; 05-02-10 at 12:24 AM.
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