Ancient Aztecs foretold the rise of the Pumaman -- a superhuman fighter of all evil. Donald Pleasance plays the greasy villain and keeper of the Pumamask, which gives him hypnotic powers, I guess. Meanwhile, a big-chinned Mexican has been trying to locate the Pumaman by throwing Americans out of windows. Oh, by the way, this all takes place in London. One of them finally manages to survive a three-story fall. He’s a scientist who has infrared night-vision and kung fu powers, despite his nebbishy bookishness. Also, there’s a creepy, toothy, blonde love interest, and the Pumaman is attacked at her home by a bunch of thugs. In a scene reminiscent of the sunglasses fight from They Live!, the Mexican guy makes Pumaman wear the Pumabelt, which gives him the incredibly cheesy power of flight via rear-projection. Also, a snazzy, black costume with a red, waist-length cape. And he has to rescue the Pumamask from Donald Pleasance, whose character is apparently named Kobras, but Kobras uses the Pumamask to sap Pumaman’s powers and order him psychically to kill himself. Luckily, The Magic Mexican intervenes. The destruction of Kobras’ mind-control machine leads to everybody getting their free will back, and Pumaman turns the mask on Kobras, who escapes in a helicopter. Air fight ensues, ending in helicopter crash. The end of the movie explores the little-known connection between the Aztecs and Stonehenge. Also, the aliens alluded to in the prologue show up to take the Magic Mexican and the Pumamask home to OUTER SPACE. Last line in the movie is a sex joke about making more Pumamen.
THE VERDICT: Apparently this has been shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000. I haven’t seen that version, but I’d like to. The special effects are insanely cheap and poorly executed. Fun, but I wouldn’t recommend it for serious watching.
After his master gets shot by Bad Guys, a police dog is assigned to work with a cop with a bad attitude. No, it’s not Joe Don Baker, but that was a good guess. The cop is Chuck Norris. In Chuck’s first scene, the phone rings and he’s too lazy to get up to get it. He answers the call by pulling the cord and dragging the phone through several rooms of his house. Also, his house is in such a state of disarray that the dog, upon entering, takes one look and runs back out to the car. Ho, ho, ho! The Bad Guys are part of a network of white supremacists, who don’t know how to draw a proper swastika, and who take a hit out on the dog because he KNOWS TOO MUCH. They dress as clowns and attempt to get Chuck and the dog at his house, which should be funny but isn’t. Eventually a plot is uncovered to blow up people of all colors, creeds, and nationalities on Hitler’s birthday. Violence and dog attacks ensue. Also the Pope being knocked down by the dog, whose name (apparently) is Reno. Funny! Turner and Hooch it ain’t.
THE VERDICT: I’m pretty sure this was somebody’s attempt to make a kid-appropriate Chuck Norris film. Norris purists say this one is especially bad, but I’ve never seen a Chuck Norris film that I liked, and the constant undercurrent of comedy helped make this one watchable.
A scientist who looks an awful lot like Harold Lloyd develops artificial blood and is invited to dinner at Castle Dracula. Countess Dracula runs a clothing store called Vamp, and lives with her identical twin vampire sons who are tall, gaunt, effeminate, and have the biggest noses I’ve ever seen on screen. She also has a giant, hulking maid whose gender I’m not sure about, and who mostly just says “AHHHHHH” a lot. Also, this movie contained the first breasts of the fest. And the second. And the third and fourth and so on. Countess Dracula is Louise Fletcher, who deserves better than this. The Countess hires Harold Lloyd to make her an endless supply of synthetic blood and promises him one million dollars. Lloyd and the brothers all have the hots of Maria Schneider. The brothers have been kidnapping all the virgins in town, so all of the townsfolk are trying desperately to get their daughters slept with. Van Helsing is a bumbling idiot in law enforcement, and most of his dialogue consists of the word “scheisse.” The blood gets perfected and there’s a musical number and a happy ending. Maria Schnieder marries one of the gay twins. All of the best jokes in this movie are done better in excellent Young Frankenstein. All of the worst jokes in this movie are done better in the abysmal Transylvania 6-5000.
THE VERDICT: This was the first really bad movie of the festival, but I’d like to see it again, if only so I can hear the dialogue. It was too loud, and it didn’t help that everybody in the theater was also shouting at the top of their lungs.
There were fewer prizes than usual, and nobody in our immediate group won anything, this being no big loss because they were giving out things like the poster from Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo. Scott did get copy of The Crippled Masters, and Erich won… something. I can’t remember what.
The Wizard of Speed and Time
Forward once, then backward and upside once.
THE VERDICT: Look, everybody needs to watch this film at least once, all right?
Plan 9 from Outer Space
Plagued by tech problems! What a surprise. They started it first without sound, then restarted it, still without sound. Paper plates are thrown whenever a flying saucer is on screen, and I kept every one I caught which had writing on it. Also, the guys from the Soylent Green Party made subtitle banners for Tor Johnson’s dialogue, which they held across the bottom of the stage. I can’t fill in the rest of the dialogue, but here are the subtitles they held up:
1. Greetings, gentlemen. How goes the inquest?
2. This case will call upon all of my ample skills.
4. Fear not, constable! The game is afoot!
5. Expletive deleted.
THE VERDICT: Same as above. I’ve seen Plan 9 too many times now to critique it, but I especially love the antics of the Soylent Green Party who sit in the front of the theater and occasionally rush up onto the stage to add visuals.
Winifred is a black, female doctor, which is amazing considering that this movie was made in 1973. She studied under Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Stein, and visits him to ask him to help her quadriplegic friend Eddie. Stein is a renowned nerve surgeon, and apparently singlehandedly sequenced the human genome (!). The plan, of course, is to replace Eddie’s limbs, but when Winifred spurns the romantic interest of Malcolm, Stein’s assistant, he poisons Eddie. Eddie turns into a lumbering hulk who goes on a killing spree (specifically, a limb-stealing spree…). Eventually he prevents Malcolm from raping Winifred, and gets eaten by police dogs.
THE VERDICT: The title is promising, but the movie is crappy. I was really looking forward to a good blacksploitation film, but this movie would have been exactly the same if the cast had been all white.
Manos: The Hands of Fate
Pretty much everybody here has seen the MST3K version. A lot of heckling, most of it original. How can I tell? Because it isn’t clever. Essentially, after the car breaks down, a family is forced to stay at a house in the desert where a mustachioed guy named The Master serves Manos, an ancient god or demon or whatever. He has undead wives, and a servant named Torgo played by Tom Neyman, who committed suicide shortly after the release of the movie. He got a great deal of applause during the end credits.
THE VERDICT: Manos is infamously terrible, but it’s really very watchable. Boring, but watchable. Nice to see a movie that I’m pretty sure I could make myself without much out-of-pocket expenditure.
A short Canadian animation about man’s relationship with fire. Comedic, but not actually funny. The end credits reveal it to be a government-sponsored PSA, though it wouldn’t fly as PSA these days.
THE VERDICT: This was probably my least favorite B-Fest short ever. Just kind of boring and not very good.
An attractive young woman discovers an enormous growth on the back of her neck, and Tony Curtis plays her tarot-reading ex-boyfriend. She goes to see him because she’s going to have it removed, and the doctors have her scared. They sleep together, and she speaks in tongues. Later, during the operation, she wakes and speaks in tongues again, causing the doctor to become possessed and slit his wrist. At the same time one of Tony Curtis’ clients begins uttering the same words. Then she floats out of his apartment and falls fatally down the stairs. This is not enjoyable. I am going to sleep… Awake again! An ugly, short, muscular guy with long, unkempt black hair is being born out of the basketball-sized lump on that lady’s neck. Gross. But I don’t care. I’m going back to sleep.
Can’t sleep. They’re throwing around phrases from H.P. Lovecraft (specifically, “Great Old One”), and now the neck tumor girl is naked and firing beams of energy from her fingers. And they’re in outer space. Who cares?
THE VERDICT: The movie looks pretty dumb. Might have been more fun if I’d been more awake and the audience had been a little smaller so I could’ve made out individual jokes. The effects were impressive, but the budget was too high and it tried too hard to be a likable, mainstream movie. I’m actively seeking out the book it’s based on, but I wish the movie had been a little more weird.
Good times in the world of illegal street fighting, as if there’s a legal kind. We meet several very well-groomed street gangs, also a couple of good-guy kickboxing cops. And there’s another kickboxer in town – a professional deathmatch fighter – who is trying to track down the wife who just left him because she’s tired of being raped and beaten every night. So he kidnaps every girl he can find who has his wife’s characteristic flower-print dresses and long, brown hair, which apparently is everybody in town. He takes them home, rapes them, beats them, gouges out their eyes, and kills them. Not pleasant. One of his victims is the sister of one of the female gang members, who vows vengeance. Also involved is the wife’s psychiatrist, who has no problem breaking doctor/patient confidentiality to assist the police. Therapist gets kidnapped by The Rapist, and while she is tied up she manages to answer her cell phone with her foot, and alert the sister, who comes to kick the rapist’s ass. The ensuing fight involves swords and Styrofoam peanuts. Finally, the police show up with guns, and the rapist gets away. Psychiatrist is hospitalized, and The Rapist dresses as a doctor and abducts her, leading to shirtless knife fight between Rapist, cop, and kickboxing sister, the latter of whom, sadly, does not get to kill the bad guy. However, he gets a hook to the eye, and the chain attached to the hook pulls him by the eye socket up to the ceiling. The movie ends with all the gang members being enrolled in community college.
THE VERDICT: Well, the action was good, and it was fun to watch the bad guy get his comeuppance, but this was a genuinely unpleasant film to watch. Really, the entire theater was pretty repulsed by the rape scenes.
I Accuse My Parents
Poor Jimmy! His parents are alcoholic gamblers who don’t know how to love! Instead of celebrating his birthday, they go out on the town, leaving him a little money to enjoy himself on. This would be sadder if a) they were leaving less than the 1940s equivalent of a couple of hundred bucks, and b) Jimmy wasn’t already a full-grown adult. Luckily, his job as a shoe salesman has just helped him meet a lovely lounge singer who’s probably a hussy or a floozy or a tramp or some such thing. Also, he’s just been propositioned with a job offer by the local mobster. The girl is also involved with the dastardly bastard gangster, who gets jealous and forces the girl to break up harshly with Jimmy. Poor guy! Jimmy gets the hell outta Dodge and almost holds up a café, but the kindly owner agrees to help Jimmy out on one condition: Jimmy must go to church on Sunday. Jimmy agrees and tries to turn his gangster boss in to the police, but ends up shooting him fatally instead. Jimmy uses the “my parents didn’t love me enough” defense, and is sentenced to continue living with them. Cruel!
THE VERDICT: This movie was profiled in a magazine I flipped through long ago. The issue was devoted to “really strange movies.” This one wasn’t particularly strange, but it was kinda fun. There’s an MST3K version which I’d much rather watch.
Night of the Lepus
DeForest Kelley’s finest moment. Well, second finest. Maybe. Opens on news footage of wild rabbits overrunning rural Australia. Cut to the American southwest where cute, fluffy, domesticated bunnies are multiplying like… Look, there are too many rabbits, all right? Kelley and Janet Leigh are scientists studying rabbits to decrease their rate of population. Leigh’s daughter puts one of the control group rabbits in a study group cage and vice versa, which means that its her fault when GIANT RABBITS START ATTACKING AND EATING PEOPLE all to the soothing sounds of stampeding horses. Amazing. For serious. Fun, but eventually loses steam. How do you kill a plague of giant rabbits? Electrocution. Pretty sure no actual rabbits were electrocuted, but I rather doubt that the ASPCA would have approved this film…
THE VERDICT: Such a promising idea! Such a lackluster film! I still recommend it, though, for the camp factor. They’re REALLY SERIOUS about making cute bunnies REALLY SCARY, and the attempt falls flat. It’s fun. There’s some very impressive miniature work.
Michael Dudikoff is a poor sport at hacky sack. I’m simply not interested in this one, but I’ve seen enough Golan/Globus movies to know exactly how this will turn out: Dudikoff will play a badass with an attitude problem on a military base. He’ll run up against his superiors, one of whom is a spy/traitor/commie. There will be a girl who is either the Bad Guy’s daughter, or his innocent love interest. Things will culminate in the infiltration of the Bad Guy’s base of operations, where Dudikoff will save the day and expose the corruption. The ninjas will exhibit kung fu skills, but absolutely no stealth whatsoever. Oh, the girl in this movie is one of the girls from Weird Science. Not the one who ends up with Anthony Michael Hall; the other one.
THE VERDICT: Didn’t really watch it, but from what I could see, my assumptions above were correct.
Carol Channing is married to Jackie Gleason, and they can't agree on what channel to watch. Then a car shows up outside, and Gleason thinks it's a pair of notorious gangsters who always drive that kind of car. It's not. It's his teenage daughter and her hippie boyfriend. Boyfriend mentions "making it," and Gleason knocks him out: "No daughter of mine is gonna make it with a hippie!" The word "faggot" also shows up somewhere in there, but not before some real gangsters show up. Gleason, it turns out, is an ex-gangster hired to do one last hit on a guy in prison who's gonna be singin' like a bird. Carol Channing invites all the hippies in town to live in their house so she can keep an eye on her daughter. Frankie Avalon is smarmy, and Groucho Marx plays a gangster named God. Mickey Rooney, Frank Gorshin, Cesar Romero all show up, and there's an LSD sequence. Oh, God, I can't describe this. It's like 200 Motels meets the Lawrence Welk show. Also, the end credits are sung. ALL THE END CREDITS. Right down to the copyright date. Simply amazing.
THE VERDICT: This one will be worth tracking down and watching again. I was pretty slap-happy by the time Skidoo started, and I know I dozed off just as the LSD kicked in. It felt very similar to some of the other late ‘60s, early ‘70s psychedelic comedies (Head, 200 Motels, The Magic Christian, etc.), and I happen to kinda like those.
Cool as Ice
This is basically a Lady and the Tramp-style “she’s out of your league” romance. She’s a yuppie, he’s a biker with a brick wall shaved into the back of his head, and he’s stuck in Anytown, USA while one of the members of his posse gets his motorcycle repaired by a pair of avant-garde sculptors who clearly do not know what they are doing. Also, there are gangsters. The Ice Man sees the girl riding her horse, and is so taken with her that he causes her to be thrown and gets himself a good swift kick to the family jewels. So he tracks her to a dive bar where the local budget version of Talking Heads plays boring music to boring prep students. I don’t think this movie approves of my musical tastes. The Ice Man runs afoul of the girl’s boyfriend, who behaves petulantly and gets himself dumped. They Vanilla Ice and the girl ride out to the desert and play on a construction site. The story presents this as the cute, uncertain early stages of a budding relationship, which is funny because the visuals clearly show them having sex. The gangsters kidnap the girl’s brother, and her father places the blame squarely on Vanilla Ice, who rescues the kid and saves the day. Then he raps. Campy. Predictable.
THE VERDICT: Cool as Ice is this year’s Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. Come to think of it, the story in both movies is very similar, too. It’s a nostalgia piece, and I wouldn’t personally track it down, but it made me miss the early ‘90s. Breakin’ 2 is a better movie.
Mighty Peking Man
Chinese giant ape movie. Basically, this is King Kong, except that instead of Fay Wray, we get Jungle Jill whose parents were killed when their plane crashed in the Himalayas at least ten years ago. Jungle Jill is the kind of nearly-naked amazon who can barely speak, and she was raised by the monkey whose name is Mighty Peking Man, but who I’ll be referring to as Hong Kong because it’s shorter. Anyway, our hero got separated from his expedition when a tiger attacked them, and he runs into Hong Kong and Jungle Jill, who is immediately taken with him. They get to know each other in the “show me more of this thing you call kissing” sort of way, and then the guy takes them back to the mainland, where Hong Kong becomes a spectacle. Eventually he breaks free, prevents Jungle Jill from being raped by a creepy Japanese businessman, climbs the biggest building around, and gets himself killed by the double-crossing British Military. Never mind what that means. This time ‘twas bombs killed the beast.
THE VERDICT: If you’ve seen any version of King Kong, you don’t need to see this movie. Unless you want to see Jungle Jill’s exposed breasts, in which case you might catch them if you watch VERY CAREFULLY. Essentially, that translates to “not recommended.”