AN ART MOST VULGAR

a blog about movies. no scrubs allowed.

2013 Drive-In/Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge! PART 7

After a lull in writing productivity, I realized I had these write-ups sitting in my draft folder. So here they are! Expect more frequent Screening Log updates soon.

20. Gamera vs. Guiron (1969) Genre: Kaiju

This is one of the most atypical and bizarre entries in Daiei Studios’ Gamera series, and one of my favorites! Two stupid little boys are kidnapped by brain-eating alien chicks whose pet is a giant monster with a machete for a head. Gamera, already established by this point in the series as “a friend to all children,” flies through space to save the day. The supporting cast is mostly Daiei contract players you’ll recognize from other Gamera flicks. Filled with all manner of surreal and incomprehensible moments.

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2013 Drive-In/Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge! PART 6

17. Piranha * (1978) Genre: Jawsploitation

Is that opening shot a Citizen Kane reference? Do I really have to ask? Joe Dante’s first solo directorial credit, written by John Sayles, is both an effectively horrific Roger Corman-produced Jaws rip-off and an ironic commentary on itself as such. An example: we’re first introduced to our heroine as she plays Jaws: The Arcade Game, an apt metaphor for the games Dante will play with his cash-in assignment. If you haven’t seen this one before, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Oh boy, a META killer fish movie, wink wink, nudge nudge,” as you prepare to blow your brains out. But stay your hand: it’s not as bad as you might think.

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2013 Drive-In/Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge! PART 5

TODAY: A quick look at some representative films from fallen comrades…

14. Vampyros Lesbos * (1970) Genre: Lesbian Vampires (in case you couldn’t guess)

Despite the fact that I’m a big fan of genre movies, horror movies, and weirdo artsy horror movies in particular, I’ve never felt a particular desire to plunge into the filmography of director Jesús Franco; as far as I can remember, his only movie I’ve seen all the way through is Oasis of the Zombies (which I kinda enjoyed, but in a very masochistic way). There’s a couple reasons for this: one, outside of hardcore bad-cinephile circles he has a toxic reputation, usually regarded as little more than a porno schlockmeister. And two: I always get him confused with Jean Rollin.

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2013 Drive-In/Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge! PART 4

11. Invaders From Mars (1953) Genre: Sci-Fi

I feel a bit weird lumping Invaders From Mars in with some of the movies that have been featured so far; sure, it’s low budget and very silly at times, but it’s also a real masterpiece, one of the final films made by legendary Hollywood art director William Cameron Menzies. The silliness, rather than damning the film to the realm of kitsch, actually deepens its nightmare tone. It can definitely be enjoyed for its camp value, but you would have to be pretty close-minded not to appreciate its Lynchian Möbius strip qualities. Who says a kid-oriented sci-fi flick can’t also be high art?

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2013 Drive-In/Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge! PART 3

8. If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? * (1971) Genre: Christploitation

 

This nonsensically titled load of insanity is part Baptist sermon, part anti-Communist screed directed by former exploitation filmmaker Ron Ormond. Despite the Christian message, it’s filled with as much low budget gore as Blood Feast. Stars real-life Baptist minister and author Estus W. Prikle (doesn’t the name just roll off the tongue?) who warns that Saturday morning cartoons lead children to murder and that Commies are responsible for drug addiction. His never-ending sermon is filled with wisdom like “The thing that’s started on the dance floor is expectedly finished in a parked car or a motel room somewhere.”

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2013 Drive-In/Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge! PART 2

5. Wild Guitar * (1962) Genre: Rock ‘n Roll

WOW! How have I not seen this before? Squished-face Arch Hall, Jr. is a dumb country boy come to the big city to make it big playing rock ‘n roll, his dad plays a sleazy manager looking to exploit him, and the director appears as a totally nonthreatening gangster bodyguard. There’s a cross-eyed love interest too, and some absurdly stupid kidnappers whose hideout is filled with werewolf mummies (??!!).

You know that scene in movies like this where the future rock star plays his first song and it cuts to everyone slowly smiling as they realize how GREAT he is? Know how weird and alienating it feels when the rocker in question is definitely NOT GREAT, and is in fact completely awful? I love that feeling.

Seriously, this movie is awesome. There’s some really good second unit photography by Vilmos Zsigmond and the editing is exciting and sometimes avant garde. This is ideal pre-Beatles rock schlock. Director Ray Dennis Steckler went on to make such whimsically titled films as The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? and Rat Pfink a Boo Boo.

6. Night of the Blood Beast * (1958) Genre: Rubber Suit Sci-Fi

And here’s how you make a quality low-budget horror film. Roger’s brother Gene Corman came up with the idea for this one, and was apparently so proud of it that he signs his name in the credits! Well-directed by Bernard Kowalski, who gets serious performances out of the cast and manages to make several scenes genuinely creepy. Some cool queer aspects as a living dead male astronaut is impregnated by an alien and begins to take on the qualities of a caring wife and mother to the parasitic aliens growing inside him. “There’s something inside me!”

The rubber suited alien’s first appearance is unexpected, hilarious, and even a little scary! This is what the movies are all about, folks.

7. Assault on Precinct 13 * (1976) Genre: Urban Zombie Western

Quality John Carpenter movie nerd action that plays as a cross between Rio Bravo and Night of the Living Dead. Bitchin’ soundtrack:

NEXT TIME: Thought the kid getting shot in Assault on Precinct 13 was bad? The next movie has literally piles of dead kid corpses AND a ranting Southern Baptist preacher!