Posts Tagged ‘guilty pleasure’

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Rudy Ray Moore was a real icon of the “blaxploitation” movie scene. He made his name on the club circuit, mixing R&B with blue comedy, his persona of a degenerate debaucher spewing obscene rhyming couplets gaining him a healthy underground following. He parlayed this character into a movie career, starting with “Dolemite”, where his stage act was coupled with low-rent action as he became the kung-fu pimp with a heart of gold. The majority of his films followed the same formula, mixing comedy with action in ever more inventive premises (“Petey Wheatstraw” even seeing him as a stand-up comic battling hoodlums while attempting to get out of a deal with the devil); until he decided to use his standing to make a “serious” movie with a real message: “Disco Godfather’ (sometimes known by the slightly more spoilery moniker “The Avenging Disco Godfather”).

Rather than his usual collection of pimps and ne’er-do-wells, here Moore is a good man, a kind man; the legendary disco DJ Tucker Williams, known to his friends as the Godfather of the Disco. He gets behind the decks every night and plays all the disco classics. Well, one disco record, which he plays over and over and over. On top of this he tells people to “put your weight on it”, an absolutely insane number of times, each with a slightly different intonation. “PUT your weight on it, put YOUR weight on iiiiiitttt, put your weeeighhtttt on it!”. If your weight is not on it by the half hour point of this movie, it never will be.

The wheels begin to come off this cosy set-up when his nephew Bucky takes some “bad shit”, trips out and the disco beats turn into rattles and left-over sound-effects from “Space 1999”. Not cool. Tucker immediately asks the most important question “Where is Bucky and what has he hayad?” before making the sensible decision to call an “Am-ber-lamps”.

Suddenly forgetting about the disco jams the film then takes on a serious, sombre tone. With one click of the Godfather’s fingers it morphs into a warning of the perils of PCP, so laughably misinformed and hysterical that it makes “Reefer Madness” look like “Requiem for a Dream”. The hospital Bucky ends up in is populated by victims of Angel Dust so demented they resemble extras cut from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” for egregious over-acting, while the doctor charged with their care wanders around wearing shades indoors and signing off on exorcisms. We are even treated to the single greatest diagnosis in the history of film: “This kid is totally withdrawn from reality; he thinks he’s an unborn caterpillar”.

At this point we discover that Tucker is not merely a DJ, but a former bad-ass cop who quit the force due to the inescapable pull of the disco. So he goes to his old Lieutenant to tell him he wants to investigate the Angel Dust problem “on his own”, but also with the help of the police (what?), and is immediately given “reserve status”. For those who don’t know what “reserve status” is, it apparently means you and a buddy can go around slapping random strangers for absolutely no reason in a long montage before stealing a dog. Which is awesome.

The film soon makes it’s next big tonal shift as Tucker works out who the bad guy is, and who the mole is (apparently there was a mole), and sets about kicking ass all the way to the top. Luckily for him he is joined by allies such as a passing jogger who just happens to hate Angel Dust and know kung-fu. Every movie is made infinitely better by having random kung-fu joggers (as definitively proved by the 1982 trash classic “Pieces”) and this is no exception.

After the obligatory badly handled melange of action, the film takes it’s final big turn; descending into a weird psychedelic brain-rape of a finale that it would be wrong to spoil before you have had the chance to experience it for yourself. Quite simply it is the absolute last way you would ever expect this film to end, a jaw-dropping conclusion so out of left-field that you need the end credits to remind you what movie you were watching before it went off the deep end.

For those who know his work, watching Moore trying to reel himself in to get a PG rating is incredibly amusing (he even manages to stop himself from rhyming “Tucker” with “Mutha-f**ker”…but only just), and at times genuinely baffling (one scene involving a female dog that has apparently lived into it’s 50’s before running away from it’s owner is seemingly only there so they could sneak in the line “that old bitch finally left me”). He (mostly) left the rhymes at home for this one, and tried to deliver a serious commentary on 70s excess and the way drugs were destroying the black community (the big pile of cocaine being snorted off the soundtrack of “Saturday Night Fever” is as subtle as this message gets).

Although intended as Moore’s magnum opus, the real pleasure comes from how misjudged and batshit crazy everything is. From Moore’s ridiculous man-boob revealing outfits, to every shot clearly being done in one-take no matter how many times lines were fluffed or the cast accidentally laughed at serious moments; “Disco Godfather” is incredibly bizarre and tons of fun. Track this down and “put your weight on it”.

Peter Goldson is an FBI agent known as The Stabilizer, because, well, it sounds sorta cool. Don’t over-think it. When a brilliant scientist goes missing in Jakarta, Goldson suspects his arch-nemesis is responsible, so he gathers a team and sets about taking him down.

Made in Indonesia and distributed by the legendary “Troma Entertainment”, “The Stabiliser” is one of a series of trashy action knock-offs made by prolific mono-named hack Arizal. Essentially, this is his “James Bond” mixed with a bit of “Mission: Impossible”; a big dollop of nonsensical action cheese, carried out with startling incompetence.

In the title role is Peter O’Brian, a New Zealand born actor whose mere presence in a film is a guarantee of quality. Low quality. His hair is a magnificent artefact of the 80s, deserving of a place in a museum, while his performance here is stiff, wooden and full of bizarre poses; moments where he stops moving completely and seems to tense every muscle in his body for absolutely no reason. His New Zealand accent was probably not what Arizal wanted for his American super agent, so he is hilariously dubbed with a voice that would seem more at home in a toothpaste advert than an action movie.

O’Brian’s most famous role is his portrayal of the completely original and in no way copyright infringing character “Rambu” from “The Intruder”. Based on that, and the fact that here he adorns the walls of his house with posters of himself dressed up as Cobretti from “Cobra”, he is clearly supposed to have some kind of resemblance to Sylvester Stallone, although he looks far more like the illegitimate love-child of an unholy union between David Hasselhoff and a horse.

The main villain is the brilliantly named Rainmaker. Greg Rainmaker. Greg. Because there really are not enough super-villains called Greg. He is a drug-dealing, rapist murderer who has spikes on the bottom of his shoes and a pronounced limp. In a film with unquestionably the most heavy-handed audio effects ever loosely bolted onto moving pictures, the over-eager foley artists really went to town on the spikes and the limp, making any scene Rainmaker appears in an absolute hoot as he slowly “tap-pause-taps” across every room.

Seemingly filmed with no sound whatsoever, the dubbing is at once completely awful, and also strangely endearing. Bless ’em, they really did try to make the words fit the flapping lips and long pauses, leading to oddly broken up sentences and single word responses that make absolutely no sense. “Pause, Pause, Pause, BULLSHIT, Pause, Pause, Cut”.

This film has it all. Bad kung-fu. Messy gun-fights. Someone getting punched in the head by a motorbike. Incidental characters macking on live lizards before biting their heads off and eating them. Baggy leopard-print trousers. An Indonesian Mr T lookalike. A bad guy dying and leaving behind a piece of card with some squiggles and the words “Location Map” written on it. Goldson looking at that and saying “This might lead somewhere”. The word “bullshit”. Blue cans. More blue cans. Even more blue cans. Drink every time you see a blue can and your liver will pack up a bindle and hit the road long before the credits roll.

A film rammed with weirdness and ineptitude, coupled with gloriously excessive action and seemingly random explosions; “The Stabilizer” is an unmissable slice of 80s trash cinema, both hilariously bad and a hell of a lot of fun.

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Princess Evie is deposed by the evil sorcerer Jerak, and now roams the wilds incognito. When she crosses paths with the famed swordsman Deathstalker, they join forces on a quest to reclaim her kingdom.

Although nominally a sequel to 1983 sword and sorcery cash-in “Deathstalker”, “Deathstalker 2: Duel of the Titans” couldn’t be much more different from it’s Conan rip-off big brother. While the original took itself incredibly seriously, the sequel is essentially a wild-eyed parody of that film, a scattergun spoof that never takes it’s tongue from it’s cheek.

Replacing Rick Hill, the meat-headed lunk who portrayed Deathstalker in the first movie, is John Terlesky, having an absolute whale of a time. He keeps the character’s nonchalant attitude, but turns him from brutish barbarian anti-hero into a wise-cracking rogue hiding a soft side, a sword wielding cross between Groucho Marx and Han Solo. His enthusiasm for the role is genuinely infectious, and his performance alone makes this by far the best film in the Deathstalker series.

Former Penthouse model Monique Gabrielle takes on the duel role of the deposed Princess as well as her evil doppelganger and she simply can’t act. Not even a little bit. Still, she is so innocent and charming that you really don’t care, and her lack of skills become part of the fun, whether it be staring blankly into her cheap knock-off crystal ball, hilariously attempting to channel the voice of the bad guy or angrily throwing objects at midget musicians.

The film was directed by B-movie stalwart Jim Wynorski, best known for the terrifically fun “Chopping Mall”. He also had a big hand in the script and is the man to thank for the film’s endearing light-heartedness. He knew exactly what type of film he was making and ramped up the campiness, striving to make everything as much fun as he could. Much like the ZAZ comedies of the time like “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun”, the film openly spoofs other movies by using their most famous scenes in an incongruous setting, with humorous nods to “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Goldfinger” and even “Rocky” as well as many more. It is one of these moments that provides the film’s only major bum note, an overlong parody of a pro-wrestling match that drags on interminably, an idea that may have seemed good at the time but doesn’t work in practice.

Although flawed, “Deathstalker 2” is a cheesy, campy, over-the-top spoof of itself, fully aware of it’s failings and all the better for it. It may be incredibly low-budget, and fairly badly made (look closely and you will find footage from the original “Deathstalker” filling up it’s runtime and even a parked car popping up in the background of one shot) with performances that often dip toward incredibly inept, but it is quite simply a ridiculous amount of fun, a real 80s B-movie treasure. Stick around for the end-credits out-takes too.

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With the Yakuza running rampant in Los Angeles, “Samurai Cop” Joe Marshall is brought in from San Diego to deal with their threat.

“Samurai Cop” is a 1989 thriller from writer/director Amir Shervan, an Iranian millionaire who, based on having cranked out a few black and white shorts for the Iranian Ministry of Culture in the late 70s, reckoned that making action blockbusters would be a piece of cake, so he moved to the USA and had a crack. The end result is every bit as bizarre as you would expect.

The first point of warning is; don’t be fooled by the title. Despite this film claiming to be about a samurai, this in no way resembles a martial arts film. The majority of the fight scenes are poorly choreographed fist fights or choppily edited gun battles where everyone seems to be in a completely different location. Extras are offed in hilarious fashion, convulsing half-heartedly and holding the dried ketchup stains on their shirts as they are riddled with invisible bullets.

The whole film has been put together in completely random manner with scant regard for any film-making convention. A brutal torture scene suddenly cuts to our beefcake hero wearing nothing but overly tight speedos and walking into a room holding a cake singing “Happy Birthday” before briefly seeming to forget the name of the woman he’s singing it to. Then they have sex, one of the many completely gratuitous sex scenes that litter the movie.

Indeed, if you ever wanted to see naked women lying on a bed and looking extremely uncomfortable while being fondled by freakish men in their underwear, then this is the movie you have been waiting for. To make these scenes even more awkward they consistently arrive from nowhere, just like everything in the film. One minute you are watching a massive, poorly executed gun fight and suddenly you’re slap bang in the middle of a graceless, slobbering sex scene.

To give you an idea of how strange this movie is, there is a whole scene with a mounted lion head in the background, except, evidently, they couldn’t afford the genuine article so they cut the head off a large cuddly toy and stuck it on the wall. Another scene plays out with the actors partially obscured by a tiny sculpture in a bafflingly clumsy attempt at Hitchcockian artiness.

The Samurai Cop of the title is former carpenter and future bodyguard for Sylvester Stallone, Matt Hannon, who got the role despite a complete lack of acting skills or fighting skills or any skills that might be useful in the making of a movie. His main selling points appear to have been his impressive build, incredible hair and a willingness to spend a good portion of the movie walking around in nothing but an uncomfortably small pair of budgie smugglers. He zones out during long takes, mis-delivers lines (“Now, i’m telling these son of a bitches”) and generally looks incredibly uncomfortable. Still, that hair is awesome and he has a goofy charm that makes his character a lot of fun; the film wouldn’t be the same without this big hulking mass threatening bad guys and macking hilariously on every lady in sight.

Hannon is in good company, as it seems the casting criteria for the film was walking up to people in the street and asking them “Do you want to be in a movie?” with anyone who said “yes” getting the gig.

The “name star” Shervan got to appear is genre stalwart Robert Z’dar, possessor of the most alarming looking chin in all of show business. Amusingly, he is playing a Japanese character, despite looking in no way Japanese. This was solved by having him grow a beard, meaning that although he didn’t look Japanese, or sound Japanese, he did have a beard. It’s genius really.

The film opens with a soundtrack that seems to have been composed on a Nintendo Entertainment System, which is, amazingly, the musical highpoint. At times if feels as if the composer simply pressed the demo button on his Yamaha (“or Omaha or whatever his face’s name is”) keyboard and passed out drunk. It was then left to his slightly less wasted drinking buddy, who due to a tragic accident had been left with bowling-balls for hands, to fill in the gaps. The same music plays over sex scenes and fight scenes, sudden musical flares accompany dramatic moments like, er, someone standing up and, in one hilarious moment, an actor seems to miss their cue by a few seconds, leaving Billy Bowling-Ball-Hands hitting the same note over and over again until they finally appear in shot.

The dialogue is probably best described as “exactly how a 60 year old Iranian with a limited grasp of English would think Americans talk”, although that assumes that any of this dialogue was ever written down at all. There is a woman whose sole job is to say “Here comes the boss” just before her boss arrives, while the flirting in this movie is truly epic. In reply to being told to “Keep it up” our hero suavely remarks “Oh, it’s up and ready, you just keep it warm”. Unbelievably, that is about as subtle as it gets in this film.

The attempts at comedy are mostly based around extreme racial stereotypes. The “witty” banter between the Samurai Cop and his black partner is a great example of this, full of references to “black asses” and his “black gift”. The high (or low, depending on how you look at it) point is a brief cameo from an incredibly camp Costa Rican waiter whose slim grasp of English is mined for many “laughs”, a malodorous scene guaranteed to leave your jaw slackened in awe at the astonishing lack of taste.

“Samurai Cop” is inept in every conceivable department, from acting and writing to direction and music; literally nothing works. It is also hilarious in the most bizarre way, a hideous car crash where everyone involved was driving a clown car and bleeding custard. For those who take pleasure in the depths cinema can plumb, this is a must watch, a genuine trash cinema masterpiece that has to be seen to be believed.

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In the near future of 2001 prisons have been privatised and are run through fear and violence. A young man, Riki-Oh, finds himself incarcerated and, appalled by the conditions he finds, sets about righting wrongs the only way he knows how: with his fists.

Made in 1991 by legendary Hong Kong production studio Golden Harvest, “The Story of Ricky” is an adaptation of the Japanese manga “Riki-Oh”, and while it does depart from it’s source material in some ways, this is a film that is never strays too far from it’s comic books roots.

The cast of characters are a gloriously over the top gallery of grotesques, from the one-eyed piggish assistant warden to a Buddah look-a-like killing machine. Ricky himself is rather bland by comparison, idealised and generic, set apart only by his ridiculous bad-assery, his character an indestructible wrecking ball, literally demolishing everything and everyone standing in his path. His seeming invulnerability, while the driving force of the movie and the source of much enjoyment, does have a negative effect on any tension the film tries to build, as you know that no obstacle can stop him or chain hold him.

That is a minor quibble however, as this is not a movie that truly cares a great deal for tension or any other standard cinematic goal. The real aim here was to cram as much outrageously gratuitous violence and gore into one film as humanly possible. In this sense, “The Story of Ricky” not only hits the target but rips straight through it in an explosion of blood, guts and twisted body parts. Punches tear through torsos, drenching the camera with innards, while a Riki-Oh uppercut will send a jaw flying through the air; the bloodshed is stylised, ludicrous and downright hilarious. You frequently wonder exactly how the last stupendous assault on your senses can be topped, before the movie simply ramps it up another level, continually one-upping itself all the way to a magnificent climax so ridiculously bloody that you feel dirty just watching it.

The film does have the occasional lull and it’s structure is overly episodic, likely due to it’s comic book roots. The quieter moments don’t really work dramatically, and although the intent was clearly to be as silly as possible, some of the laughs are unintentional, notably a pivotal suicide scene that is gloriously undercut by the most obvious use of a dummy in cinema history. The plot also barely makes sense despite how slight it is, and some key elements are not really explained at all, although this adds to the surreal feel of a movie that was clearly supposed to have a off-beat tone.

“The Story of Ricky” is a bizarre b-movie, drenched in blood and containing some of the most ridiculous violence ever committed to celluloid. At it’s best it is outrageous fun, a hilariously brutal live action cartoon. If you have a strong stomach and are in the mood for an hour and a half of excellent trash cinema; grab a few beers, gather a few friends, sit back and enjoy this genuine one-off. You won’t be sorry.

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Traxx, a Vietnam war veteran working as a police officer, is fired from the force after an incident in a petshop, and becomes a mercenary working his way around South America. Tiring of the relentless violence he returns to the united states in the hope of setting up a successful cookie making business. However, with no real skills in the area of baking, he is soon forced to return to the career he left behind and puts himself up for hire as a “town tamer”.

“Traxx” is an action comedy from 1988 starring tv presenter and announcer Shadoe Stevens as the eponymous hero and is among the pantheon of the truly great “bad movies”.

The tone of the film is absolutely all over the place and you frequently feel as though every new scene is from a completely different movie to the previous one. The first 5 minutes alone feel like 3 completely different films; we flip gun fights to cheesy over the top comedy, from horrific imagery to pop video style dance montages, with absolutely no care for how they all fit together.

The cast generally play this all dead straight, and it is the star Shadoe Stevens who really nails the mood of this film. He plays the titular Traxx as a bizarre cross between a game show host and action star, stopping mid-battle to check out his hair and spewing incongruous one liners with smarmy commitment. He kills absolutely everyone who crosses his path, whether they deserve it or not, an unlikely killing machine engaging in slaughter with a wink and a smile.

“Traxx” is never scared of stretching a joke right to it’s breaking point or throwing the most outrageous imagery into a shot, (the bad guys literally strap a whole team of little leaguers to their car as human shields and that is far from the most bizarre visual in this movie). Director Jerome Gary mostly keeps things disarmingly deadpan and nothing is really played for laughs, which actually makes it funnier as it means ridiculous visual gags appear literally from nowhere, like cinematic non-sequiturs.

The humour itself is either so hokey and hackneyed that you can’t help but groan (“Deeter lost a litre”), or so heinously misjudged and in such bad taste as to leave you open mouthed with awe. If a million monkeys with a million typewriters given a million years would come up with the works of Shakespeare, then a gibbon with a crayon and a bag of weed could probably knock out the script of “Traxx” in a long weekend.

This is a film where the utter ineptitude and lack of care of those involved makes it far greater than the sum of it’s parts. It seems that everyone involved just shrugged their shoulders and said “why not” every step of the way. “Why not kill the main bad guy with a fart?”. “Why not have a creche in a brothel?”. That attitude makes this film unique, an over-the top treasure unafraid of throwing literally any idea, no matter how bad or stupid, at the screen.

“Traxx” really is a must watch film, preferably with a group of friends and a lot of alcohol. Absolutely demented, totally inept, and all the better for no-one involved having any clue what they were supposed to be doing. This truly is one of the great “bad movies”, a dazzlingly awful acid trip, a truly baffling film that gets everything wrong but feels so right. Anyone who takes any pleasure at all in trash cinema should immediately track this gloriously excessive misfire down.

ImageThe 80s were a strange time for cinema. Everyone seemed to have a dream of making a movie, and it felt that most of those dreams came to fruition. At the same time, belief in audience intelligence plummeted to an all time low, so most of those films were shameless crapfests aiming for the lowest point of the lowest common denominator. A few of these films became smash hits, like the original “Friday the 13th”, so they kept getting churned out, an endless stream of cheap and cheerful derivative tat.

Some of the best films from this period were the ones so laughably bad and untarnished by pretension that they play better as drunken comedies, best watched with a posse of wise-cracking friends & a crate of beer. “Guilty Pleasure Cinema”. “Pieces” is a great example of that kind of film, a fun little flick that makes no attempt at taking itself seriously.

A slasher movie set on a college campus, “Pieces” finds a serial killer attempting to recreate a nudie jig-saw puzzle using pieces (do you see what they did there?) of young girls by sneaking up on them and dismembering them with a chainsaw. Yup. Sneaking up. With a chainsaw. How awesome is that?

Standout moments mostly centre around ridiculously bad dialogue; characters showing appreciation for a job well done with a promise to “send you a box of lollipops” or expressing anger by repeatedly screaming “bastard”. One of the main cast members is introduced as being a former tennis champion, before we cut to her playing tennis with such ineptitude that it is hard to believe that she had ever held a racket before. There is even a completely random kung-fu scene, with extra emphasis on the words “completely random”.

The acting is awful, the post-production dubbing is laughable, the final reel stinger makes absolutely no sense; but all that just adds to the film’s weird charm.

“Pieces” is clearly not for everyone. If you like the sound of a film where a key plot point is that the college gym has recently received delivery of a deluxe waterbed, and police detectives can’t work out if the bloodied chainsaw sat next to a dismembered body is the murder weapon; then you probably already know that this film is for you and should seek it out immediately.