Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Bafflingly Brilliant B-Movies

Forget the summer blockbusters with their slick special effects and inane cliched one-liners, and instead help nurture a far more entertaining industry which is far more in need of your pennies than Orange Wednesday at your local multiplex. I am of course talking about the wonderfully twee and baffling world of the B-Movie, available in bargain bins at a 99p store near you!

So why go to the cinema this summer, when for the price of a popcorn kernel and an ice cube you can instead get to delight in some of these gems? So here we have it, a list of the most bafflingly brilliant B-Movies ever released straight to VHS/DVD. Enjoy!

The Ninja Terminator (1985)
Director: Godfrey Ho
Starring: Richard Harrison and Jack Lam

This is the film which started my love affair with the B-Movie. A few years ago my brother found this gem in a bargain bin for the princely sum of 99p, some people may argue that this is far too much to pay for this movie, especially as the entire production cost seems to have been managed on a budget of 86p. Yet the 20 or so times I have watched The Ninja Terminator is a testament to just how eye-wateringly brilliant it is.

Unfortunately for you, The Ninja Terminator is one of those films that when asked to describe, I find myself incapable of doing so: where on earth do you start? The fact that the main baddie inexplicably wears a blonde women's wig throughout the entire movie, only to rip it off dramatically at the end as though we are meant to be astonished that this hopelessly synthetic looking, peroxide blonde bob is not his own hair. Or perhaps, that the ninjas played by fair haired, blue eyed, put-the-cauc-in-caucasian men are made to appear more Chinese by wearing enough black eye-liner to make even Avril Lavigne appear au-naturel. Then there is the phone used by the main protagonist in all his most threatening 'secret ninja' dealings, somehow losing any semblance of thrill or suspense once you realise that he is using a Garfield phone. Not to mention the utterly brilliant method that the baddies use to deliver their most evil and terrifying threats, by attaching VHS tapes to the cheapest, slowest and smallest toy robot the Taiwanese have ever produced.

All in all this is a film which defies description, it has everything for everyone (including a wonderful porn scene involving some Pink Floyd and a hairy-arm pitted, Hong Kong lovely). So buy this movie, enjoy it late at night with some brandy or after hitting a bowl or two and it will seem even better!
But don't just take my word for it:

weirdfish_hw wrote on IMDB:
"This is the most fantastically spectacular movie i have ever seen...well well well worth a viewing, and repeat viewings, if only to try and figure out the following conundrums: 1. Why does the villain wear a blonde woman's wig? 2. Why does the ninja attack a man with several guns with a slingshot + folded piece of paper? 3. Why does he have a Garfield phone??? 4. Crabs???!! 5. HARRY and BARRY the ninjas????????and a camouflage ninja-suit?(genius)"

Hard Rock Zombies
Director: Krishna Shah
Starring: E.J Curse

Movies don't come more baffling than the self proclaimed 'comedy horror cult classic', Hard Rock Zombies. Having spent twenty years of my life completely unaware of this masterpiece, I stumbled across it hidden behind a stack of middle of the road 'You've got mail' and 'Home Alone 12' DVDs at my local Co-Op. I recall paying a fairly ludicrous £8 for it, which despite being told by a friend "I can't believe you spent £8 on that!" I have no regrets whatsoever.

This wonderfully low budget film somehow left me with the feeling that I spent an hour and a half watching one of Otto's (bus driver from The Simpsons) bad acid trips. It was as though all that was awful and yet brilliant about 80s hair metal had barfed up radio active waste and Krishna Shah molded that vomit like clay, into a cast for his terrifying vision. It is impossible to do justice to this film by summarising the plot, especially as doing so would ruin the jaw-dropping twist in the middle of the film which invariably leaves people pounding their fists into the arms of their chair and dribbling with laughter. So I will only whet your appetite by telling you that involves a Nazi-midget-zombie eating himself, a terrible homage to Psycho's shower scene, a couple being chased by a psychopath with a garden strimmer, full performances from a Zombie rock band and a dubious relationship between the bass player/lead singer of the band and a 12 year old girl named Cassie.

But don't just take my word for it:
jenwilly on IMDB
"I don't know what they were thinking when they made this movie, but I can say that there are no movies quite like it out there. It was one of those movies you can't turn away from,like a car wreck on the freeway that you are compelled to look at even though you know how horrible it will be. I have to see this movie again, and luckily it is available as a 3-movie set along with NOTLD and something called Revolt of the Zombies for like $6 at Walmart."

Killer Shrews (1962)
Director: Ray Kellogg
Starring: James Best, Ingrid Goude

Unfortunately, I must confess that I haven't seen this movie in its entirety. This is something I hope to rectify in the coming months. Yet, in terms of trailers which have left an impression on me this one deserves its place in my top 5. Yes, there are thousands of films like this from the 1950s and 60s littering the B-Movie graveyard. Yet of all the ones I have seen, nothing has struck me as profoundly less terrifying and more hilarious than the thought of 'Killer Shrews.' One character mentions that the shrews are the size of a fully grown wolf, which of course has nothing to do with the fact that the shrews in this film are nothing more than dogs dressed up in costumes which resemble a cross between crude, precursors to the Sand People and lobsters. With dog legs clearly visible under their sand people/lobster costumes they run through the woods chasing their unlucky victims relieving them of their sanity with their hideous shrieking cry.

Go on I challenge you to watch this and ever manage to go near a hedgerow again without feeling apprehensive!

But don't just take my word for it: (I didn't watch it after all.)

Apparently none other than the horror-fiction messiah Stephen King cited this movie as one of the most terrifying ever made. You can't get a better endorsement than that!

The House on the Edge of the Park (1980)
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Starring: David Hess and Annie Belle

It's been a while since I've indulged in this guilty pleasure and therefore with only trailers and reviews to jog my memory it is difficult for me to relive that night, when I sat there agog at the absurdity unfolding before my very eyes. Needless to say, the first chortle is at the expense of poor Italian-English translation skills of whichever lack-wit they left in charge of making the trailer. 'House Of The Park On The Edge' isn't quite the title I think they were going for. Of course it sounds much more elegant in Italian (La Casa Sperduta nel Parco), but then most things do. Yet, unfortunately a turd by any other name will smell as shitty. From the depths of my memory I recall a laughably absurd cast of characters, finding themselves in increasingly bizaare situations accompanied to woefully inappropriate disco music. The only other scenes memorable enough to lodge themselves in my cranium, included a couple being tied to a coffee table, an unexplained naked romp in the shower and a character being shoved into the pool for reasons I can't quite remember. It is the ultimate 'party-gone-wrong' movie and will leave you with a nasty taste in your mouth and feeling somewhat violated (like most of the female characters in this film).

But once again, don't just take my word for it:
Graham on imdb
"I cannot pretend to defend the shakey moral foundations that this film rests on; that said I love the rather thin output of Ruggero Deodato. This is sloppy, like all of the Italian sleaze directors U.S films are (particularily Umberto Lenzi), but it has a sleazy charm despite all the chicks being no more than rape magnets. Gotta love David Hess' acting work from this period too; the guy is, um, unique looking, to put it kindly. Check out his website, he takes himself soo-oo seriously; do all actors think they're artists?

Braindead (1993)
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Timothy Balme

Few who have seen this film will dispute its reputation as the goriest film ever made. It is an unbridled splatterfest of a magnitude which is incomprehensible unless you have ever seen this film or witnessed an explosion in a blender factory filled with haemophiliacs. Few of those cuddly, middle-of-the-road types who know and love Peter Jackson only for his faithful directorial work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, know him for his earlier bat-shit insane yet just as brilliant work in Braindead and Badtaste. I am a firm believer for some reason that Kiwi's just do things better: lamb, musical comedy, extreme sports, environmental policies and of course, the gory horror movie. So if ever you have wanted to see a zombie baby, a woman eat her own ear, a man consumed by his own giant zombie mothers womb and about 500 zombies all massacred in about 10 minutes in the bloodiest ways imaginable then by all means don't hesitate, watch this film. Just maybe eat that pepperoni pizza beforehand, don't want to spoil your appetite...

Best line :
"I kick ass for the Lord!"

1 comment:

  1. Is the theatrical trailer for "Hard Rock Zombies" on the U.K. DVD? I have the bare bones U.S. release and, sadly, it does not.