Talkin’ ‘Bout Bad Bad Girls

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Bad Girls From Mars typifies the postmodern, post drive-in, self aware, self-parodic exploitation film. Its plot is copped directly from Hollywood Boulevard (the ultimate exploitation satire). So it’s not exactly breaking new ground here. And most of the jokes are dumb with a capital duh. Therein lies its charm. That and its cast: amazon bombshell Edy Williams (Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, Chained Heat, The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood, The Naked Kiss). Thinking man’s scream queen Brinke Stevens ( Slumber Party Massacre, Nightmare Sisters, Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama ) and the always funny Jay Richardson ( sort of the Dick Miller of Fred Olen Ray’s stock company). Are you sold yet? Did I mention that there’s tits literally every five minutes? Big ones. Perky. But I digress… 

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New Wave J.D.s

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James Spader as a hero? Stranger things have happened. The same year (1985) that he menaced the Full House chick in The New Kids (aforementioned in my review The Rat Bastard Pack) he played defense against a nasty street gang in Tuff Turf. This one has all the elements of a classic J.D. flick: Misunderstood hero. Family turmoil. Love triangle. Dirty Street fights. It also boasts a great performance by musician/poet Jim Carroll and his band (with Robert Downey Jr. on drums?!). Oh,and Repo Man fans take note: Olivia “Laugh away, fuckface!” Barash is amongst the passel of hoods that hassle our protagonist. You wanna start a rumble?

SEE! SEE! SEE!: High School Caeser, Switchblade Sisters,Teenage Gang Debs,Teenage Doll, Blackboard Jungle, Dead End, The Violent Years

The Rat Bastard Pack

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First off, don’t worry…The New Kids has nothing whatsoever to do with a certain horrifying boy band of yesteryear. It’s just a forgotten movie by modern exploitation maestro Sean S. Cunningham. Sean (along with Wes Craven) stunned the drive-in and grindhouse world (which ain’t easy, lemme tellya) with the mercilessly vicious Last House On The Left (you remember, “To avoid fainting, keep repeating “It’s only a movie, only a movie…”) before lucking into one of the most lucrative and enduring movie franchises since James Bond, Friday The 13thThe New Kids has the pastel-sweatered look of an 80’s high school comedy and the feel of a good ol’ fashioned redneck revenge flick. It concerns two newly orphaned siblings (Lori Loughlin and some dude who kinda looks like Cameron Dye) who move in with their uncle who runs an amusement park, in a new town and new school. They immediately run afoul of a pack of skeevy, borderline psychotic bullies, led by James Spader, who slimes up the screen like the bastard son of Billy Zabka and Max Cady. (Still not quite as slimy as his turn in Pretty In Pink though). They engage in a game of stalkery cat and mouse which quickly escalates, culminating in a brutally violent showdown at the amusement park and a satisfying ending…with a just a little sick ironic twist that will appeal to all the exploiteers and carnies in the audience…

Just A Little Off The Top,Please

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Hmm…there seems to be an accidental pattern developing in my viewing habits as of late…the Indian legend horror flick. First, The Chooper, then Track Of The Moon Beast…and now Scalps. (I should probably go ahead and see The Manitou while I’m at it.) It’s got the old “stay off the old Indian burial ground or you’ll piss off the spirits” plot. Stylistically it owes alot to The Evil Dead  but doesn’t deliver anywhere close to that amount of shocks and wall-to-wall splatter…at least not til the third act. It achieves a pretty creepy atmosphere and the kills are early 80’s nasty. All in all it’s a pretty decent early effort by director Fred Olen Ray, who would soon find his niche making gleefully campy films in the vhs and cable era full of ludicrous plots, flippant dialogue and bodacious babes (including Sybil Danning, Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer). If nothing else, check it out for the cameos: There’s Carroll Borland (from Mark Of The Vampire and some Flash Gordon serials) and you Famous Monsters fiends will of course love seeing ol’ Forry Ackerman…

SEE! SEE! SEE!: The Phantom Empire, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers

Sirkian Fear

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Stark Fear was marketed as a suspense thriller and there are some harrowing moments in it but at heart it’s really a melodrama. 50’s B-movie icon Beverly Garland (beautiful, witty, strong and classily sexy as always) stars as a woman married to an alcoholic, paranoid, viciously abusive, just absolute rat bastard of a husband. Eventually she escapes him and hits the road, only to encounter some of his equally soused and slimy friends…one misogynistic prick after another. There is one gentleman in her life who loves and treats her right but she’s still conflicted, feeling a strange burden of loyalty to her scumbag husband. (At this point I can imagine everyone in the theater screaming at her as if she’s on a gameshow. But I think alot of women can relate to this situation.) Powerful stuff. Definitely not the typical silly thrillride…

For more of the lovely Beverly Garland, SEE! SEE! SEE!: Not Of This Earth (1956), The Alligator People, Swamp Women, It Conquered The World

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The Ballad Of Johnny Longbow

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Track Of The Moon Beast is basically a funky 70’s rendition of The Wolf Man…except it’s about a nice guy transforming into a lizard man (well, to be geekily accurate, a Komodo Dragon man.) And instead of expository pseudo-Gypsy lore we get pseudo-Indian lore and comic book science. (Pardon my tangent here…but speaking of 40’s horror…Why was there such a proliferation of movies back then where people were turned into or impersonated gorillas? Guess gorilla suits must’ve been a dime a dozen at the time.) Anyway, Moon Beast is by-the-numbers dirt cheap monster schlock. Rick Baker’s makeup and suit are pretty cool though, not as goofy looking as in, say, The Alligator People (which I always thought looked like Pogo’s Albert wearing some snazzy pants.) I recommend watching this flick with Sssssss for a cold-blooded double feature…

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It’s Soporific!

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You’re feeling sleepy…verrrrrry sleeeeepy! Zzzz…Seriously, folks…Spell Of The Hypnotist (aka Fright) is the perfect flick for hypnotists, surgeons, insomniacs…guaranteed to knock you out faster than a handful of Valium. Hard to believe this was made by the same guy (W. Lee Wilder, Billy’s bro) who gave us the immortal Killers From Space. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go take the antidote: the Stooges’ Raw Power cranked up to 11…