Friday, August 21, 2009


800S ARTIFACTS UNCOVERED BY MOVIE: Forehead gems, gigantic poofy shirts; mink necker-chefs; Cliff's Notes epic poems; medieval salad bowl hats; chivalric mooching; and Peter Cushing.


Non-metric Keefe; OO7 meets Swamp Thing meets an X-mas Tree; Bunny-stuffed Pig’s Head for Dinner; Ghost of X-mas Resentment; a Hurricane of Halitosis; Friar John Milius; mini-wizards; the anti-Kermit; Graduates of the School of Acting Through Shouting; Armored but Still Wussy Toht; and Gimli the Lambchop Abuser.

More details here.


It’s X-mas time in Camelot and old man King Arthur (Trevor Howard) holds the usual celebratory orgy of pig-feasting, harlequin-abusing, and regal belching. But this year, something’s different. Dissatisfied by the opulent consumption of his court and the expanding waistlines of his knights, the King bitterly declares that chivalry and honor is dead. Suddenly, a mystical being who calls himself the Green Knight (Sean Connery) interrupts the proceedings, swings an axe around and challenges any man in the room with enough cajones to chop off his head.

Only Connery can make X-mas Wreath headgear look good.

His call goes out unanswered by the wimpy knights but when the Green Knight stirs up some hairy chest-heaving boasting to boil the blood of the King’s young nephew and squire, Gawain (Miles O’Keefe).

The Golem haircut was all the rage in the 800s.

Gawain successfully completes his challenge and we discover that the Green Knight can double as both an X-mas AND Halloween decoration.

“I knew I should’ve taken that Star Trek V gig.”

But it was all a ruse! G.K. quickly picks up his head and mocks young Gawain’s impudence. He lays out another challenge that in exactly twelve months they are to meet again so that G.K. can have a swipe at Gawain’s neck. But first, Gawain has to explore the world in search of a clue to G.K.’s riddle that will somehow involve…

Sexy but scary witches!

Evil but clumsy knights!

Cute but spooky babes!

And powerful but tiny sorcerers!

So faster than you can say “Joseph Campbell’s erection”, Gawain sets out with his humble servant Humphrey (Leigh Lawson) on a quest to find virtue, honor, and courtly love and maybe kill and violate a unicorn or tow. Along the way, he is conned by the treacherous Morgan La Fay (Emma Sutton), coerced into battle by the Black Knight (Douglas Wilmer), and courts mysterious and beautiful Linet (Cyrielle Clair) who may or may not be a pigeon. Midway through his adventure, the story comes to a full stop when Gawain is imprisoned by a crazy family of knights headed by Baron Fortinbras (John Rhys-Davies, doing his Brian Blessed impression), his weasel son Oswald (Ronald Lacey) and his weirdo spiritual advisor Seneschal (Peter Cushing). Following some ham-fisted swordplay, interactions with rowdy Friar Vosper (Brian Coburn), dull as a Classics lecture battle scenes, and dreary dialogue with miniscule wizard Sage (David Rappaport), goofy Gawain once again meets with the Green Knight to fulfill his agreement and get his head chopped off, not that anyone will notice.


The 80s were a prosperous time for the fantasy/barbarian genre with offerings such as Conan the Barbarian, Dragonslayer, Krull, Hawk the Slayer, and many others which reeled in cinemagoers starved for swordplay, heaving bosoms, and dragon battles. But for the most part 80s fantasy films sorta sucked and never really delivered what their trailers promised (I know, the same can be said for any movie). Sword of the Valiant presents the very same disappointing suckage of the worst of 80s fantasy with an added ambition to resemble in form, language, and theme the far superior and serious King Arthur telling Excalibur with spectacularly failing results. Based on the 14th century epic poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”, the movie strives to be a larger than life and self-important re-imagining of the ancient tale but without a modern context or any intent beyond bloody action and fumbling fight scenes. Muscle man O’Keefe of Tarzan the Ape Man fame does his best Prince Valiant impression with poofy shirts and confused look to match while Connery bellows out his lines, sucks in his hairy gut, and just hopes the glitter make-up won’t sweat off. The swordplay and fight choreography were especially bad, like those weirdos who meet in public parks and do that role-playing stuff. You know the ones, he said as if masked movie bloggers were any better. Produced by Cannon and the producer team of Golan-Globus, the movie has a slapped-together low-budget kind of feel, a hallmark of G-G’s output which can sometimes either be endearing or outright awful. Unfortunately, Sword of the Valiant falls into the latter category if you are expecting a fast-paced fantasy tale sent in the gilded age of chivalry and brave nights, but rather ripe for mockery and watchable with enough ale, wenches, and medieval Tylenol.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

MAD FOXES (1982)

80S ARTIFACTS UNCOVERED BY MOVIE: Vinyl crew jackets; the Parker Stevenson haircut; a white guy in an American flag keikogi; a white guy with nunchucks; and a white guy with the pastiest ass this side of Michael Douglas.


Himmler’s Hooligans; Mama Celeste doing the Hoochie-Coochie; Fishin’ for Girl Ketchup; full frontal hilarity; 80s Corvette 1, Dirty Punks 0; humping in pee water; castration by grenade; Nazi chic; and lesson learned from movie: gardening shears are not a snack!

More details here.


Hal Martin (Robert O'Neil) makes out with his virginal babe in his fancy racing-striped Stingray. A biker gang pulls up aside and starts harassing the couple. As he’s trying to pull away from the gang, he accidentally causes one of their members to rollover and die. Hal and his girl then dance the night away at a nightclub, but outside the vengeful bikers, led by balding scuzbag Stiletto (Eric Falk), are waiting for him. When Hal and his chick stumble drunkenly back to the Stingray, the gang jumps Hal and then rapes his girlfriend. Well, if by rape you mean flailing on top of the poor girl like a choking trout. Later, the bikers hold an impromptu funeral for their fallen scumbag.

After this movie, they might as well bury their careers too.

Stiletto toasts the dead unaware of the horror that awaits him.

After receiving treatment at the hospital, Hal, doing what any decent man would do after being forced to watch his girlfriend get raped, goes home and listens to some jazz records. And maybe later he’ll call his friend who owns a martial arts school – a bad ass named “Linus” - to form a posse to go after the bloodthirsty punks.

So they catch up with Stiletto and his gang at a Greek theater.

And they do something unspeakable to him. Think of the worst thing this picture suggests than multiply it by a billion.

Seemingly over the violation of his innocent girlfriend, his near-death experience, and his responsibility of a man’s mutilation (which is illegal by the way), Hal heads for the countryside to relax at his folks’ place. Along the way he picks up a tramp named Lily and they hump awkwardly in a bathtub of dirty water, besides a dying tree, and in a stable of horse poo. Yup. So Stiletto and his men catch on to Hal’s baffling behavior, show up at his parents’ house and summarily wipe out his family, throat-stab the gardener, and impale the household staff. You know, they’re Mad Foxes, not Nice Foxes. So Hal finally grows a pair (which can’t be said for Stiletto, poor sap), grabs a shotgun, and starts Fox hunting season early. After his blood-drenched odyssey, Hal finally meets face-to-face with Stiletto in his apartment, but the newly soprano biker’s got a big surprise for him, which results in one of the most bizarre and unforgettable endings in sleazeball biker shotgun-revenge ass-boobie cinema history.


Even as filmmaking became more technologically advanced, major studios died or were bought out, and the Hollywood movie machine churned out blockbuster after blockbuster, there was still a place for low-budget exploitation cinema in the 80s. Case in point is 1982’s Mad Foxes (aka Stingray 2) which rises from the murky depths of sleaze cinema like a greased-up googly-eyed orgy-guy Kraken. This vile biker-revenge movie shot in Spain and horribly dubbed features near X-rated nude scenes, extremely violent torture sequences, and more wieners than happy hour at Pink’s. I dare anyone to watch this thing the whole way through without an intense desire to want to boil the seediness clean from their pricked-up skin. The movie is sick, sadistic, immoral, and completely void of any redeeming value with an empty, soulless lack of competence or purpose. In other words, oh so wonderful. But it’s indeed icky, and sadly to admit, I’ve seen worse. Jeez, way worse. The movie’s quality and production values are piss-poor, but it is what it is and never strives to be more than sordid piece of dunder-headed exploitation. And you got to give it some credit for its self-aware sense of squalid integrity. Recommended to me by a bad cinema connoisseur of the highest order, Mad Foxes was everything I had hoped for - a dreary, inept, and depraved tale featuring insane bikers, crotchety old folks, Italian stereotypes, Nazi S&M hookers, and hysterical (and maybe intentional?) dubbed dialogue such as:

“Those bullets are tickling him to death.”

“You’ll like my family, though my Mother is an invalid. She fell from a horse and became paralytic.”

“What are your hobbies?” “Collecting pretty girls like you, but today I want to kill a bird.”

“Be careful my little rabbit!”

Words to live by.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

STRYKER (1983)

80S ARTIFACTS UNCOVERED BY MOVIE: Hot, leggy motorcycle-riding aerobic-instructor post-apocalyptic chicks with football shoulder pads and crossbows. Sigh, I miss the 80s.


A nyuk-nyuk-nyuk-lear war; Slightly Peeved Max; a discount Randall “Tex” Cobb; The Evian Warrior; Philippine Jawas, needless but hilarious little person torture; Beyond Blunderdome; a script by Marcel Marceau; punches that echo like tin in flashbacks; a braless post-apocalypse; Richard Moll only not Richard Moll; Syd Haig only not Syd Haig; and Steve Sandor only not – oh, wait.

More details here.


Hey kids, it’s the post-apocalypse! And as explained in the ponderous opening narration, "The nuclear holocaust wiped out any semblance of rhyme and reason," which sets us up for an utter lack of popping and break dancing in the desolate radiated wastelands. But there is a big-haired chick in distress being chased by leather-clad goons in a weapons-grade Impala. But despite being clad as Skid Row sex maniacs, the goons are really after hotty’s water which is as scarce as an un-pinched penny at a Scotsman convention. Pfft, the Scots! But the goons are also aware that the girl may be hiding the secret location of a long-lost spring and endless supply of fresh water. So just as the goons pin her down, a mysterious stranger in a Mustang pulls up and offs the baddies with the help of another stranger who pulls up in a motorcycle. Mustang guy is Stryker (Steve Sandor), a man of few words (seriously, there’s about 7 pages of dialogue max in the movie), and motorcycle guy is Bandit (mike Ostrander), a man of fewer less coherent, possibly dubbed words. The three discover they have a common enemy, an Anton LaVey-ish thug named Kardis (Mike Lane) who along with his tubby Master-Blaster wannabe control the last known town in the entire nuked county. Kardish killed Stryker’s best gal, ousted the girl’s (sorry, didn’t catch her name) father into the wasteland, and cock-blocked Bandit in flashback they didn’t bother to include. So some confusing stuff follows. After the shootout with the goons, the girl steals Stryker’s car but is captured by Kardis’ men and imprisoned. In the very next scene, Strkyer is seen driving his car. Huh? He then very slowly hijacks a tanker of God-knows-what with his new pal Bandit who he’s known for about ten minutes. And then they meet some little desert people (think Death Valley Ewoks), mix it up with these Amazonian ladies who impale heads with their arrows, rescue the girl from the worst maintained prison in the apocalypse, and meet up with the girl’s Dad who has found the fabled spring that Kardis seeks. Our story kinda stops here and rests for a moment, basks in over-dramatic speeches, and takes a time-killing whiz. OK, so Kardis’ men attack the spring’s hideout and all-out war ensues. Again. When it’s all done, our heroes enjoy a dance in the rain, a gift from the Big Guy Upstairs who OK’d the apocalypse, because you see evil was defeated and the prize is a baptism of mediocrity.


No look back at 80s cinema would be complete without including a post-apocalyptic saga, most of which are extensively reviewed and analyzed by our friends at their amazing one-stop post-apoc shop Quiet Earth. Stryker (aka Survival Zone) is a relatively minor and mostly forgotten post-apoc, directed by the late Filipino legend Cirio H. Santiago, creator of such titles as Wheels of Fire, Final Mission, and the unforgettable Vampire Hookers. For the most part, the movie is standard Road Warrior-esque offering with a flair for the confusing. Characters seem to change appearance and morph from scene to scene, leading me to believe that the film may be have been two films spliced together or shot at different times. Or eras. But what really struck me about Stryker was the lack of dialogue, and what little dialogue there was consisted of awkward exposition and pompous “author’s message” filler. Wait, that shouldn’t surprise me at all. But what’s supposed to make post-apocalyptic movies work on a visceral level is the action - the gunfights and car chases and unfortunately there is very little of either in Stryker. The vehicles looks like anything you’d see parked on cinder blocks in your neighborhood, the explosions consist of lame green smoke bombs, and the borrowed tanks look like loaners from the Filipino army. Oh, wait again. On the upside, there are a few chuckle-worth moments in the film like when the tubby Master-Blaster gets doggy piled by the angry Filipino Jawas, when the leggy Amazon archers do blood-drenched yoga in the desert, and when Stryker himself finds a catchphrase, “Everyone's got their own highway to hell." And boy is he right. Mine will be paved with a thousand discarded VHS covers of every single movie I’ve seen leading me to a Movie Hell that I cannot run from nor hide. I look forward to it!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


80S ARTIFACTS UNCOVERED BY MOVIE: Zombie Bananarama; racing team jumpers; suitcase-sized boomboxes; pastel-plaid Oxfords; open-collared shirt with loose tie; painters hats with sheik flaps; stores named Dance Centre; and horny 35-year old college students.


A pre-headshot Charles Rocket, a pre-Sarandonshot Bob Roberts; Britt “What the hell am I doing here?” Ekland; A-Hole Dean Wormer, a virginal Marcy D’Arcy vs. Nerdy Evil Ed; the return of Barbara Crampton’s magnificent knockers; Alf-less Willy; kid; Frat Todd Gack; and a Fright Night reunion drenched in teen sex goo. Ewww.

More details here.


College students Joe (Cameron Dye), Mother Tucker (Tim Robbins), and nerdy Wendel (Stephen Geoffreys) depart their cold and featureless Iowa and travel for hot and featureless Palm Springs for the annual ritual of booze swimming, cooze seeking, aand Jews-annoying ritual known as Spring Break. They spend their break in Wendel’s cousin’s condo where Joe and Mother find that they are not above humping on children’s bunk beds. Also in town are a couple of rival frat guys who play a nasty prank involving a foursome, women’s underwear, and herpes. Yup. Previously, Wendel’s Dad (Max Wright) bribed Joe and Mother to get Wendel laid, and they take him on a wonderful fashion makeover montage to turn this guy …


Into this leather guy…

Or this kung fu disco dancer …

Or a wacky race car driver. (Makes you wonder why Geoffreys later became a gay porn star. It’s true!)

Fully expecting Wendel to bomb, the guys take him to a bar where he quickly meets meek Nicole (Amanda Bearse) and the two nerds hit it off. So the rival frat guys and Joe and Tucker meet again, this time to make a bet over who will be the first to get into shy girl Ashley’s (Sheree J. Wilson) pants. Joe tries the pathetic approach where he pretends to be suicidal while the other guy poses as a yoga guru to get all Namaste with her nether region. Both efforts at depravity fail so they guys decide to cheat. Meanwhile, Wendel is getting serious with Nicole, who turns out to be a little rich girl with overprotective Dad. He’s got to impress her family if she’s to ever gain her hand, but in a wacky misunderstanding, he gets arrested for attempted rape and then humiliates the local nearly-insane Sheriff (John Vernon) with comments about his butt. Yup. So Joe cheats by doctoring some photos he took of Ashley naked and the other guy cheats by recording an out of context but suggestive exercise session with her. Scumbags! So Ashley catches on and I fully expected an I Spit On Your Grave level of vengeance to follow, but it doesn’t. She just pouts and walks away in a huff. Meanwhile, Wendel is shocked to discover that Nicole’s Dad is the Sheriff and when he kicks the nerdy crap out of him while Nicole cruelly smiles and looks on, Wendel decides it’s time to cut his losses and leave town. But his bad luck isn’t over yet as he car breaks down in the middle of the desert. Also leaving town is Ashley and she just happens to pass Wendel on the same road. So, you can pretty much guess what happens next with 101% accuracy. Yes, the nerd gets the girl. Yes, the frat guys get drunk and laid. Yes, John Vernon has a coronary. But no, I did not have enough soap to wash away the ick after watching this crude nudie flick.


The 80s were a productive and profitable time for teen sexploitation films and Fraternity Vacation is perhaps a forgotten example of the dirty, empty, soul-befouling seediness these movies proudly espoused. How can someone like a movie in which the plot involves rival frat guys competing to bed a lonely woman with a $1000 and schlong bragging rights at stake? Well, the answer is out there and maybe staring me in the face because films like this are still being made. The movie is pathologically sleazy, vehemently misogynist and void of any sense of morality with none of the narcissistic, shallow, and boner-obsessed characters receiving comeuppance in any form. Hell, in fact even the antagonists are rewarded at the movie with a simple wink and a hug. Now, I’m not gonna get all high and mighty on you. I did laugh at some of the hope-to-get-laid type moments in the movie and giggled at the stupid teen sex clichés that unfortunately are still in wide practice today. But fortunately, there’s much to point and laugh at in the movie including a pre-political Robbins doing sleazy shtick, moments of really, really gay male bonding, and shameless, devolved, and kinda hilarious teen sex obsession. Oh, and boobies. Lots and lots of boobies. And a weird Britt Ekland cameo. Head scratcher, that one. But really, Fraternity Vacation isn’t the worst one of these out there, even though the jokes fall flat, visual gags are few and far between, and John Vernon plays only a minor role. And it was also seeing Bearse and Geoffreys work together again either just before or after their team-up in the underrated vampire flick Fright Night. So please do not misunderstand, Tremendo loves me some stupid sex comedies, but this one was so sleazy and exploitative of women that I barely had the energy to vidcap the nude scenes for later use and make charcoal drawings of Barbara Crampton’s cleavage.


Monday, August 17, 2009


80S ARTIFACTS UNCOVERED IN MOVIE: Puffy jacket vests; Tempest and Battlezone references; He-Manimation; and a Star Wars rip-off that's actually watchable.

Filmation’s Space King Arthur; robo-booty repair; Sea Monkey hookers; obligatory cartoon strip club scene; sometimes a bladeless sword is just a bladeless sword, Hanna-Barbera's Moses and the Mystery Machine; more fey robots than C3PO's family reunion; Deux Ex Spermy; and Don Bluth’s Jesus: The Animated Series.

More details here.


On the planet Trinia, human slaves toil in an underground mine extracting crystals from the planet’s core under the cruel laser-whips of their robot masters. The overlord Zygon (Anthony De Longis) keeps them under his purple thumb by forcing them to believe that nothing else besides the mine exists and that they are better off toiling for him than to suffer a hellish life on the surface. But plucky young Orin (Joe Colligan) believes in a world beyond his cruddy digger life and dreams of freedom for his Grandpa, blind brother Calli, and best girl Elan. One day he discovers a mysterious helm embedded in the rock, and in typical old coot fashion, Gramps proclaims it the stuff of legend, the object that will free the humans from their subterranean prison. But Gramps gets unceremoniously snuffed by the sado-bots which enables Orin and Elan to escape to the surface. Above the cave, they discover a hideous world of cold technology where they are cornered by Zygon and his robot legions. With the aid of the mystical helm, Orin is able to escape Zygon’s grip, but at the cost of Elan’s life. Believing Orin is dead, Zygon goes about his evil day but the determined youngster makes it to the surface and instead of a hellish wasteland promised by Zygon, he finds a nightmarish hellish wasteland. After being tortured by body-part starved mandroids and licked by hungry hungry killer plants, he teams up with roguish Dagg (Carmen Argenziano), a dashing smuggler with a penchant for curvy fembots and nervy wisecracking computer systems. Believing that the missing blade of the helm is the key to freeing his people, Orin tries to persuade the reluctant Dagg to join him in his quest. Eventually Dagg gives in, being the raffish softy that he is, and helps to bring Zygon down. A few adventures and robot killings later, they meet Princess Aviana (Noelle North) who falls in love with Orin after 15 minutes (that bladeless helm is chick bait!) and takes them down the path to fight Zygon face-to-face. Zygon reveals himself to be a robot who’s about to start a galactic war that will mean the end of all humans. So it’s up to Christ-like Orin and the inglorious dastard Dagg to take down the robot nation and reclaim the universe for humans to fuck up.


The 80s were sort of a waning period for the feature length animated film. Most of the major releases were extended commercials for toys or TV shows (Care Bears Movie, My Little Pony) and Disney was churning out mediocre stuff until its animated rebirth with 1989’s Little Mermaid while Don Bluth scored some hits with Secret of Nimh and the unstoppable Land Before Time franchise. Of course, some hidden gems can be found that more adult in nature released by smaller outfits, titles such as Plague Dogs, Rock & Rule, and the cult fave Heavy Metal. Produced by 80s craptacular distributor Atlantic Releasing (Teen Wolf, Modern Girls, Garbage Pail Kids Movie), Starchaser: The Legend of Orin completely passed me by, and while this animated space opera doesn’t really offer anything new besides a mish-mash of Star Wars, Black Hole, Lord of the Rings and possibly six or seven other works, it’s mostly harmless, at times charming, and rarely dull. Although it doesn’t have frenetic pace and seizure-inducing action of today’s cartoon epics, I can see a 21st century kid digging this flick. I mean, you got all the elements of a little boy fantasy:

Horrific techno-cannibals!

Kid-licking plant monsters!

Kick-ass space ships!

Robot armies!

Hot babes!

Boo-hiss villains!

Space Molesters!

Um, might want to scratch that last one. Might.

Yeah, so what if the animation isn’t up to contemporary par? Who cares if the characters are cookie cutter space fantasy clichés and the narrative a thinly veiled Biblical tale? Who gives a mandroid turd if the colors are flat, the synth soundtrack cheesy, and the space ship’s computer system more Paul Lynde than Paul Lynde on St. Patrick’s Day? Starchaser: The Legend of Orin is a mild, breezy, and sorta fun time killer that’ll make you yearn for your long-gone Saturday mornings when you were whipped by a fembot tantalizing you with Captain Crunch and a ball gag.

Oh wait, those were my Saturday mornings…

Sunday, August 16, 2009


80S ARTIFACTS UNCOVERED BY MOVIE: Coke mirror necklaces, netted tank tops, terry cloth muscle shirts, shoulder frills, Old Pepsi, and a motion picture based on a product for children. Pfft, imagine that!


The most horrifying things to appear on a trading card since Mike Piazza’s sideburns; sewer pipe satire; costumed midget pedophilic voyeurism; coprophiliac comedy; the TOUGHEST BAR IN THE WORLD where they serve BEER; long-lost art of 80s traffic sign fashion, non-Canadian green slime, Mumblin’ MacKenzie; Sorry Spanish Soap Star; Anguished Anthony; and Traumatized Tremendo.

More details here.


Grumpy old weirdo Manzini (Anthony Newly) operates an antique store of bizarre oddities where he employs spunky teen Dodger (MacKenzie Astin) who’s getting harassed by bullies and bored by his boss’ pithy, whining about the mundane modern world. They are blissfully unaware that down in the basement of the store, a mysterious old garbage can rumbles, whispers, and occasionally farts. Meanwhile, Dodger is in love with John Boy-thin Tangerine (Katie Barberi), who’s at least ten years older, two feet taller, and twelve grades dumber. Unfortunately for Dodger, she hangs out with slickster Juice (Ron MacLachlan) who torments him while she laughs hysterically at his misery. What’s not to love? While trying to woo the big-haired Tangerine in the store, Dodger accidently knocks over the garbage can releasing a flurry of bodily function -related hilarity unequaled until Adam Sandler’s career. So unleashed are the Garbage Pail Kids, an unholy collection of other-worldly punny miniature alliterative horrors including …

Ali-Gator. GAH!

Valerie Vomit. “I will devour your soooouuuulllll!!!”

Windy Winston. GAAAAHHH!!! Kill it, kill it with fire!!!

And also too nauseating to vid-cap are pants-wetter Nat Nerd, bad-breathed Foul Phil, booger-eater Messy Tessy, and 50s juvenile delinquent Greaser Greg. Anyway, despite the presence of his friendly tiny nightmares, Dodger continues to be tortured by Juice and his heavy metal-pantsed crew. By merely looking in Tangerine’s direction, he is subjected to drowning by raw sewage. Yup. Fortunately, the GBK step in and rescue him from a poopy end. So while Manzini tries to conjure a musical spell to return them back to their canned hell, the GBK watch Dodger take a bath and then try to eat his toes. Yup. Dodger takes advantage of the GBK’s unique skills designing crappy 80s fashions and uses them to get closer to Tangerine who has dreams of being a famous designer. But Tangerine is still evil, double-crosses horny little Dodger, and hatches a plan to make the GBK her personal sweatshop and then send them to the “State Home for the Ugly” where old guys net ugly, fat, and clownish undesirables and then apparently kill them in a trash compacter. But through the power of teamwork sing-alongs, moral musings on beauty fixation, and toxic farts, the GBK lay the smackdown on Tangerine, Juice, and other citrus-related villains in a showdown of little-person fury slightly less exciting than a stale stick of gum.


To paraphrase film critic André Bazin, the captured cinematic image can be viewed as an embalming of a moment in time rescued from relative corruption, revealing the representation of God manifesting creation. If indeed Bazin lived long enough to see The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, he would have changed the word “God” to “Angry Retarded Satan” and “manifesting” to “butt-pumping”. And in the boot camp for trashy movie fans, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie is the nearly impossible wall hurdle. You’ll just have to do it or you won’t become one of us. And unlike closet-hanger Sid Worley, I made it through shitty movie flight school nauseated, exhausted, and perhaps a little triumphant. Based on series of trading cards popular in the 80s, the movie features the Alfred E. Neuman-esque title characters in live action display of puke-inducing terror. The cards were intended to be a gross-out parody of the popular Cabbage Patch Kids, immensely popular dolls that came complete with their own unique name and birth certificate. I used to collect the sticker form of the cards and then covered my sock drawer with them. Ma Tremendo was not pleased. Anyway, the movie is beyond miserable and misguided, but remains a powerful example for a movie producer to express “This is where we went wrong”. Music composer and Joan Collins’ ex Newly is embarrassed, confused, and out of place in this bizarre and twisted thing. Astin is an admirable workman who just clocks it in and tries to escape unscathed before he can make it to the Facts of Life audition. The creature effects are indeed hallmark of the disturbed, provided by John Carl Buechler who also created the terrifying soul-scarring psyche-raping critters of Troll released the year before. The movie also tries to inject some sermonizing about corporate America and the culture’s superfluous fixation on physical beauty while trying to make us root for some of the most revolting, grossed-out and hateful little beings on two gimpy legs. But when the day is done, the movie retains its dubious distinction as an 80s oddity embalmed in time, a “kid’s” film filled with references to voyeurism, finger-banging, urine, cannibalism, shit-eating, gang violence, kidnapping, betrayal, exploitation, racism, attempted murder, and genocide - you know, stuff that every growing cherubic child needs to learn about eventually. But I think my reaction to The Garbage Pail Kids Movie is best summed up by ol’ V.V. herself:

Thursday, August 13, 2009


80S ARTIFACTS UNCOVERED BY MOVIE: Chevy Van spoilers, a rural car chase, a pissed-off pre-cardiac arrest Police Captain; a rare Nagel print, and sheet metal dork humping.


Chunk Brickstump; an 80s Dean Lerner as Police Lieutenant Boom Boom Washington; Buff Dropkick; the Paintgun of Death; Dirk Stonefist; Don Imus, Henchman; Rico Cockcrunch; Budget line for Costco-sized Chest Grease; Grisly Atom; Japanese height + Mexican accent + 80s Mullet x Acting Talent of a Bag of Chips = Our Bad Guy; and Jammer Rockhard.

More details here.


Right off the bat, we are informed that undercover cop Joe Marshall (Matt Hannon) is a total martial arts badass who speaks fluent Japanese and practices the art of the Bushido. We are told this, mind you. We never actually see these claims in action, although there is one shot where he even bothers to look the part of hence-the-title.

Yeah, doing samurai stuff really works your delts.

Anyway, Joe’s been hired by the Los Angeles Police department to help quell a violent rivalry between the Japanese Yakuza and the local Chinese mob. Apparently, it takes a samurai to perform basic policing. Aided in his mission is bumbling, mumbling, and stumbling partner Frank (Mark Frazer), the only black cop in the world with zero coordination, a bare grasp on the English language, and a hambone routine away from Stepin Fetchit.

Dey be ninjas heah!

When not confusing the fuck out of the viewer with poorly edited car chases and men’s bathroom wall innuendo, Joe and Frank attempt to take down the gang of merciless and mulleted Fujiyama (Joselito Recober) and his elite chin-fisted assassin Yamashita (Robert Z’Dar).

Not in the chin!

So when he’s not lifting sofas, getting warm and ready, brushing his Miss Clairol wig, and banging every skank in town, Joe is harassed by Fujiyama’s Skid Row minions, scattered with machine gun fire by zombie Yamashita, and pursued by redheaded killer slut Cameron (Krista Lane). After some goofy car chases and nausea-inducing sex scenes with Joe’s banana warmer in full view, our heroes catch up with the gang’s hangout at the evil Red Lobster where he confronts the baddies, ducks a bunch of fat guys, and hits on Fujiyama’s squeeze (Jannis Farley). And so follows a gratuitous helping of boobie and crotch-shots, stirred in a mélange of complete narrative incoherence, peppered with hints of “We wrote the script as we shot this thing”, topped off with crew-coke-snorting for continuity, a dentist’s office for a police station, and random shouting for dialogue. This concoction somehow leads us to the final showdown between musclehead Joe and musclechin Yamashita in a demonstration of the true way of the Bushido, which apparently means “We have no idea what’s going on”.


Amazingly, I never watched much Joe Bob Briggs back when he had his bad movie shows Drive-In Theater and MonsterVision in the 80s and 90s, probably because it was on too late or I was in my hoity toity black-clad cinemaphile Hollywood-hating phase. Oh, to be young and elitist again. So I guess I missed out on a lot of Briggs-approved fare at time, but like to think that I’m relatively caught up. An exception is the kung-fu flick that Joe Bob introduces as Samurai Cop, a spectacularly bungled and incoherent thudding turkey of a 80s action movie. If movie knock-off factory Asylum were around in the 80s (for all I know, they were), this movie would be their Lethal Weapon clone. But not even the bottom-line driven filmmaking thrift of Asylum approaches the level of depraved incompetence that this movie wallows in. But to call this movie bad and then make fun of it is way too easy, and many before me have torn it apart better than I can. So, I’ll let my good friend Joe V. from Provo, Utah* extrapolate the good stuff gleaned from Samurai Cop:

Thanks, Joe. The movie, which looks like one of those cheap Turkish rip-offs of Hollywood movies, was actually directed by an Iranian, Armir Shervan, who apparently chose to express his hatred of America by making films and releasing them here. Actually, there are a lot of unintentionally hysterical moments from a sword fight shot by Benny Hill to a decapitation in a dental chair to the “script” that featured lines such as “I will bring you his head and place it on your piano!”, “Shoot! Shoot him! Shoot!” and “Have you been circumcised?” In this respect, Samurai Cop is like a golden cheese-drenched gift from the Lord of Awful above, spreading a warm glowing layer of crap on damned souls who crave this miserable shit.

Hey, I didn't say stop!

*Apologies to everyone save one who will not get this reference.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

MAC AND ME (1988)

80S ARTIFACTS UNCOVERED BY MOVIE: Snorks, Otter Pops, Tonka dump trucks, double ruffle skirts, Laura Scudders chips, a VW Rabbit, and jobs at Sears


Not a Steve Jobs biography; Charles' charge; the love theme from Joggin’ With Mom; shameless Skittles, Coke, McDonalds and Chicago Cub whoring; self destructive strip malls; You Been Served, and Super-Sized; sweet nourishing soda pop; They Came From Planet Mummenchance; skinned cat aliens who like to whistle the theme to the NBC Sunday Night Mystery Movie; and E.T.: The Extra Terrible.

More details here.


On the abandoned set of Enemy Mine, a family of creatures are basking in the reflected radiation of Saturn and sucking planet juice from a silly straw. The aliens are rail-thin, have weird bug-eyes, look like they’ve got balls in their mouths, sport a permanent “O” face, and apparently are covered in bumpy sores. Yes, these are the cute loveable critters we’re supposed to love and not vomit violently over. Suddenly, an unmanned NASA space vehicle equipped with water jugs and a vacuum hose lands and accidently sucks up our little family up the rover’s pooper. The lander returns to Earth where the little family causes all kinds of wacky ruckus, sets off electrical fields, and escapes from Area 26, Area 51’s lesser-budgeted sister base. Meanwhile, the Cruise family consisting of Mom (Christine Ebersole), Michael (Jonathan Ward), and wheelchair-bound Eric (Jade Calegory) travel along the highway adjacent to the base on their way to a new home in California. Unbeknownst to them, a member of the family, the creepy-as-shit little baby, hops aboard the Cruise’s car while the rest of his family has gotten lost in the vast desert. The exhausted and thirsty little alien steals Eric’s drink and gets his first hit of Coke (first one’s free), restoring his horrific self to a slightly less horrific state. The next day, Eric experiences weird happenings in his new rad house with wood paneling. Trees are planted in the living room, toys move by themselves, and an eerie little shit alien is doing a Jack Torrance on his front door. After befriending Debbie (Lauren Stanley), the odd little girl next door, and her hot Kelly Bundy wannabe sister Courtney (Tina Caspary), Eric and Michael chase down the little alien and call him M.A.C., for Mysterious Alien Creature. (Hey, the writer’s no D.A.R.Y.L.). They learn that Mac needs to reunite with his family, has a genetic disposition to break dance, and that soda pop is like crack to these things. With government agents breathing down their necks, the little alien family sweating it near Barstow, and the fast food dance party/two-all-beef patty orgy in full swing, Eric and his friends race against time to unite Mac with his family in order for the McDonald’s empire to consume colons across the solar system. Eventually, with the grace of a stoned God and a few hits of pop, the family reunite are made full-fledged U.S. consumers. And like a Quarter Pounder with cheese and a New Coke gurgling in your gut, the Macs promise to return. Uuuuurp.


Back in the 80s, I practically lived at my local movie theater, a slapped-together joint called The Alco, which had a fairly nice screen, awful sound, outdated video games, and stale popcorn. I watched many 80s blockbusters in that wonderful place with images of Flynn, Lone Wolf McQuade, Ator, and Emmy Hesire coming to mind. Unfortunately, The Alco closed as our little town’s economy went down the shitter after the local copper smelter shut down. (Thank you, Ronald Reagan – Union Buster!). The nearest multiplex was over two hours away, so suffice to say I missed out on a lot of late 80s kiddy fare, most of which will reviewed right ‘chere. Thankfully, Mac And Me, one of many non-human foundling rescued by a cute kid or weird adult on the run from the government/evil corporation/Renaissance Faire Enthusiast stories, was one that I completely missed. (See D.A.R.Y.L., Short Circuit, Pod People). This kiddy movie features not a loveable alien but a horrific nightmare from a hospital burn ward. But even more repulsive than the skin-grafted alien design is the fact that the movie is less a very late E.T. rip-off (released six years later) and more an extended commercial for McDonalds and Coca Cola. The aliens look like famine victims with mega jowls blowing out birthday candles frozen in time - not very pleasing to watch and definitely not cute or remotely sympathetic. Besides the terrible effects, commercial-driven storyline, disabled-person exploitation, and derivative-of-himself Alan Silvestri score, there’s very little else to talk about in this awful flick unless you want to examine the symbolism of fast food restaurant dance numbers, alien furry cosplay, and Ronald McDonald’s taint, in which case may have to ask you to leave.

Monday, August 10, 2009


80’S ARTIFACTS UNCOVERED BY MOVIE: Mickey Rourke before he was wrasslin’ Ernest “The Cat” Miller, whipping Robert Downey Jr., and calling me a fatboy.


Robo-Rourke; Bad, Bad Bishop; Sheriff Easy Reader; Lt. Kavanaugh, Chin Butcher; Roy Biggins, Money Launderer; She’s Having an Ugly Guy; pre-Kanye West New Orleans; Rocky Dennis out for Revenge; and the burning grandfather clock hotness of Ellen Barkins. Grrrrr.

More details here.


The black-souled city of New Orleans is home to Johnny “Handsome” Sedley (Mickey Rourke), a horribly disfigured crook whose best friend comes to him for help putting together a robbery to raise money to fund his path to legitimacy. The friend has enlisted steely hood Rafe (Lance Hendrickson) and his trashy moll Sunny (Ellen Barkin) despite Johnny’s reservations. They pull off the daytime stick-up of a jewelry store expertly up until Johnny and his friend are double-crossed by the unnatural born killers. The friend is killed but Johnny survives, is sent to prison, and refuses to rat out his treacherous compatriots, still clinging to some hopeless underworld code. He’s then hounded by obsessive police Lt. Drones (Morgan Freeman) who tries to wear Johnny down in order to nab the rest of the gang. But the paranoid Rafe takes out a contract on Johnny and he’s subsequently stabbed in the prison yard. While in the infirmary, he is befriended by kind plastic surgeon Dr. Fisher (Forest Whitaker) who recruits him in a radical rehabilitation program that will give him a new face and lease on life. Johnny agrees and over time, the surgery is a complete success. With Fisher’s help, Johnny gets an early parole, a job, and an opportunity to go straight. But the burning urge to exact revenge on Rafe and Sunny leads him back to a dark path, and not even new love Donna (Elizabeth McGovern) is enough to hamper his dark impulses. He quickly puts together a plan to rob his employer’s payroll, and seeks out Rafe and Sunny who have no idea who their new partner really is. And after so many years feeling ugly and unloved, Johnny is finally able to see something worth loving within him, a self-revelation that is soon extinguished as his grotesque criminal world drags him back to leave Donna a short-lived memory, to carry out his revenge, and to claim his doomed soul that briefly saw light.


Okay, so I’m only going to mention this once and be done with it. It’s a chapter of El T’s life that everyone I know is piss-pot sick of hearing. Mickey Rourke once called me “fat-boy”. It was back in the early 90s during the filming of Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man in which I worked on as a college intern. A mere craft services monkey, I inadvertently interrupted his train of thought on set (because, as you know, the part of Harley Davidson requires intense method-motorcycle meditation). I laughed it off at first, but have to admit, I was kinda butt-hurt later, especially since several crew members teased me for days. Now, nearly twenty years later and having witnessed his ring prowess, I formally challenge Mr. Rourke to a no-holds-barred barbwire cage match on fire. I await a semi-coherent reply.

Let’s see if you can handle a fat MAN, Mickey!

Anyway, director Walter Hill is arguably one of the last of the maverick filmmakers, a man who in his prime largely shunned flashy blockbusters and Hollywood fluff and created seedy, sparse, and effective thrillers, actioners, and westerns such as Hard Times, The Getaway, and The Long Riders. A protégé of the great Sam Peckinpah, Hill and his works have been fueled by a masculine ferocity, a desire to explore dark territories, and an ardent interest in the immoral, twisted, and deviate world of crime. Although his later works are mostly commercial in nature and lack the intensity of his early films, he returned to form in the late 80s with the angry, brutish, and bleak crime story Johnny Handsome. Hill’s crafting of violent heist scenes is second-to-none and there are two sequences in the movie that are outstanding and should be made models of close quarters action. As the deformed then reformed title character, Rourke is quietly intense and soft-spoken, a calculating criminal concealing a lifetime of rage and headed towards damnation. Hendrickson and Barkins are spectacularly over-the-top as Rafe and Sunny - shadowy, insane, and dangerous all at once. While the movie looks and plays out like a seminal example of neo-noir, Hill frames the story like a western with Johnny reminiscent of Shane only with a bloodlust that will not allow him to ride off into the sunset, but instead opens a pit of a self-made hell. Johnny Handsome’s morals are about as miserable and gloomy as crime film gets, but Hill keeps things engaging through masterful storytelling, creating a fervent and dark tragedy as ugly as Johnny’s face and his decision to forsake normalcy for evening the score.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


80S ARTIFACTS FOUND IN MOVIE: Izod polo shirts, Playboy panties, sweater scarves, and evil lightning.


ED 209's slow cousins, discount Willie Aames, non-Austrian accented killbots, Johnny 666, the curious absence of Ken Foree, Woody Allen, and Paul Blart, khaki camel toe, Crampton’s glorious boobs, and a glimpse back to the gilded Age of Orange Julius.

More details here.


We open to a demo inside an enormous mall of the new Protector 101 electronic security guards which will be deployed nightly to patrol and protect the J.C. Penney’s, Sam Goody, Miller’s Outpost, Merry Go-Round, Video Star, Florsheim’s, Hickory Farms, and that creepy organ and piano place that no one visits. These robo-mallcops are equipped with visual sensors, deadly tasers, and the charisma of a homeless Dalek, but as luck would have it, they are prone to lightning storms which inexplicably turn them evil. So one night, several teenaged mall workers decide to hold an awkward teen orgy after hours in a furniture store. Among the participants are good girl Alison (Kelli Maroney), nerd Ferdy (Tony O’Dell), slutty Suzie (Barbara Crampton), and insta-Rambo Rick (Russell Todd), amongst others. While the rest of the gang humps, Alison and Ferdy watch a terrible Roger Corman movie on the tube which at this point looked a trillion times more interesting. And because nerds can’t boink, they are the first to realize that they’re trapped inside the mall with killer robots on the prowl. After a few minutes fumbling around looking for the little man in the boat, fellow party-goer Greg (Nick Segal) leaves his soon-to-die girlfriend Linda (Suzee Slater) in bed and wanders the closed mall in search of cigarettes. Here we have victim number one of our kooky kill-bots, who somehow have attained deadly laser weapons. From here on out, the body count slowly mounts as our wacky teen gang arms itself to the braced-teeth and battle the robots around the mall. And so, teens die, robots blow up, paint is spilled, and pants are worn so tight I can see wart removal scars.


The indoor shopping mall has been around since the 1950s but mall culture didn’t flourish until the 1980s, when the mall-boom was in full effect and the damn things were popping up everywhere, eventually shaping our way of life, buying patterns, and how we wasted our day after Thanksgiving. It was during the 80s that malls grew into teenager-infested consumerist-cliqued city-states where the height of cuisine was a Hot Sam pretzel, the height of culture was a Max Baer Jr. signing, and the height of fashion was watching your high school jock-cocks buy a new pastel Polo at Chess King. Personally, I owe a great debt to the shopping mall as I discovered my sexuality ogling the dirty greeting cards and boobie beer mugs at Spencer’s. Since then, the mall has been central to the American way of life, from the suburbs to the cities to fading small towns, and has become a sacred place of consumer worship, a disposable income drain, and a great place to pick up a big-haired chick. Taking advantage of the mall phenomenon, director Jim Wynorski dreamed up the idea of a slasher flick set inside a mall, albeit with very little slashing, gore, or scary stuff. Initially titled Killbots, the movie was later changed to Chopping Mall and works better if you approach it as a goofy horror comedy where there’s a complete lack of anything getting chopped. Our teen victims are instead electrocuted, laser-blasted, and lightly knocked over. Self-conscious and silly, Chopping Mall is a wacky but all too brief look back at mall life in the 80s, which truthfully hasn’t changed much. There are a lot of funny moments in the film both intentional and otherwise from the weird Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov cameos to Dick Miller’s vomit mopping to robots flailing in hardware stores. Chopping Mall, despite its misleading title and poster art, is unfortunately not a slasher movie; it’s yet another evil-lightning-killer-robot -teen-choking- boobie-sex comedy-marketing-survey in slasher movie’s clothing.

But it’s still better than T4.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


John Hughes, producer-director of some of the most iconic films of the 80s, dies of a heart attack at age 59. When I look back, I can't believe how much Hughes was a part of my cinema-going upbringing. And so I officially dedicate this month's Tremendo Time theme to the man who brought us the tear-drenching classics Class Reunion, She's Having a Baby, and Nate and Hayes. Good night, funny billionaire man.

What's your favorite John Hughes movie? Leave a comment below!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The Eighties. Ten years of bad clothes, worse politics, and some of the worst music ever. The general consensus among my compatriots is the quality of the pop culture from this era pretty much sucked. But were the movies of this glorious decade of my adolescence really so bad? Did the 80s really mark the beginning of the end for cinema ushering an age of commercialized, cross-marketed, brain-dead Hollywood fluff?

Did this period really denigrate the the heights of filmmaking achievement like so many film snobs like to argue?

Did a dearth of film as art really kill the progress attained from the prior decade where we witnessed the rise of the American auteur, the flourishing of Third World Cinema, and the emergence of a Silver Age of Movie Magic?

Yeah, pretty much would say said high-collared pastel-shirted film snob. But I will attempt to prove them wrong and dig up some movie gems from the pastel-pants-wearing Reagan Era.

This month, Tremendo Time features a trip back to the era of Golden Age Michael Jackson, absent-minded actor-presidents, sweater-based sitcoms, bearable Madonna, pre-conspiratorial Oliver Stone, comic book conventions centered on actual comic books, and my long-lost innocence. Yes, August is 80s movies on Tremendo Time. I'll be catching up with some of the very few movies I missed in the 80s including horror, sci-fi, thrillers, dramas, comedies, chick-flicks, and maybe an Oscar winner or two. Stay tuned!

P.S. Although it totally feels like an 80s movie, I couldn't actually include Stay Tuned (1991).