Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Zodiac Killer 1971 ** ½

Dir: Tom Hanson

Stars: Hal Reed, Bob Jones, Ray Lynch, Tom Pittman

This is a textbook hit-and-miss B. There are some great killings by the killer. He stops to help an old lady whose car has stalled, but then kills her by slamming her head in the hood and jumping up and down on top of it. Also amusing is when he sends a sleeping old man in a rolling chair down an inclined street to his demise. Something that makes the movie especially odd is the very uneven performances…some deliveries are not even at read-through level, seriously. Which is part of the fun of exploiters. The point of the film is that anyone you see could be a killer, and this concept is related by the voiceover of the killer, which is quite well done and creepy. The striking-looking killer is shown going around doing a lot of ordinary things, even being helpful to people, although occasionally people are creeped out by his effusiveness. These scenes tend to pile up to the point of seeming just like filler, but that’s also part of the fun of exploitation movies: randomness and irrelevancy. Another killing scene I enjoyed was of him stabbing a girl in an American flag bikini. Ah, symbolism. Exploitation movies are interesting to me because of how they depict some of the most horrible things that can possibly happen, and the truly dark nature of man…and at the same time, they’re usually so silly. It’s just a very compelling dichotomy I can’t seem to resist, so why try? That extra half star I’m giving because of the creative beginning and end titles.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Monsters Crash the Pajama Party 1965 ***1/2

Dir: David L. Hewitt
Stars: Vic McGee, Peter James Noto, James Reason

Perhaps the greatest half-hour absurdist saga of all time. It's amazing how much insanity is packed into the short running time of this oddity, which was originally presented with live actors participating so it would seem as if things were coming out of the screen at you. When watched as is, this makes it all the more surreal and disjointed. This is available from Something Weird Video, packaged with a bunch of other curiosities, including the Richard Carlson ghost noir, Tormented, of which I was very glad because my own copy of that stopped working half way through. The main feature has just about everything I look for in a b-movie, so much I'm sure I will run out of space for the labels as it only allows 200 characters, so I will have to choose the most prominent aspects.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Weng Weng For Your Height Only 1981 ***

Directed by: Eddie Nicart
Stars: Weng Weng, Max Alvareado, Mike Cohen

Never mind what the poster says, in the version I watched this diminutive superspy is usually called Agent Double O. He's irresistible to the ladies and he uses his small size to his advantage in hand to hand combat, swinging on a rifle that a thug's holding in order to kick that same thug in the face, for instance. I quote from some of the notes by Ian Jane on the Filipino phenom, contained in the "Appreciation" section of the DVD:
"A role model to all of us, his adventures prove that the human spirit can overcome any obstacle that gets in your way, and if you can't, a swift punch to the balls goes a long way..."

Even without its unusual hero and unique fight scenes, this would be a fairly surreal foreign action film. The overdubbing is a lot of fun as those responsible have the bad guys speaking in bad Bogie impressions and like forties gangsters, saying things like "poimanently". Lots of flamboyant late seventies attire is another highlight, worn while dancing to a bogus ripoff of "Boogie Wonderland".

Monday, August 2, 2010

Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster 1965 ***1/2

Director: Robert Gaffney
Stars: Marilyn Hanold, James Karan, Lou Cutell, Nancy Marshall

Lest there be any confusion, the stars system on this blog is out of four, and is rated not on how fine a movie is but on how much I enjoyed it for it's off-kilter thrills and weirdness, though of course that's what makes a fine B. The title of this one tells us the plot, except it's really not Dr. Frankenstein's monster per se but an android built for space travel who crashes in his ship, onto earth, appears to be fine, but runs amok after being zapped by the ray gun of a spaceman henchman of Nadir and Princess Marcuzan. These aliens have landed their flying saucer - made of some kind of metal polygonal structure with a tin skirt attached - in order to kidnap bikini girls for their breeding program. For some reason they have a space monster in a cage on their ship, but who really needs a reason? Lots to recommend this film, almost without a dull moment. Something that stands out about it is the use of stock footage for the earth craft getting ready to take off, because of the use of the song, "That's the Way It's Got To Be" by garage band The Poets, which makes the scene quite striking. Bruce Glover, father of Crispin, plays one of the pointy-eared, baldheaded aliens, as well as the actual monster.