Long before there was everyone's favorite hot-vampire-chick-vs.-the-world franchise that began in 2003 with Underworld (trailer), and more than a good half a century after Josef von Steinberg's silent proto-gangster flick Underworld (1927 / full film), there was Underworld, also known as Transmutations, nobody's favorite film and more terrible than proto-terrible.
The feature-length directorial debut of George Pavlou, Underworld is the first of what was originally planned a series of horror film productions to be made with Clive Barker, the man everyone and their mother once thought was god's gift to modern horror, and who wrote his first feature-length screenplay for this movie — a movie he has since understandably disowned. Barker and Pavlou did one more joint production after Underworld, the horror-cinema underachiever that is Rawhead Rex (1986 / trailer), and then someone (Barker, one would assume) realized that the cooperation between the two wasn't exactly begetting good movies. Underworld, in any event, is a clusterfuck of fuck-ups, failing on so many levels that it can hardly be described as anything other than a waste of time.
French trailer to
To an extent, Underworld displays an oddly visible link to Barker's later and better horror movie, Nightbreed (1990 / trailer): both are misunderstood-monsters films, but whereas in Nightbreed the monsters become what they are by birth or bite or blood and live more or less in a cemetery, in Underworld the monsters become what they are due to a drug and live in the sewers. That is where the commonalities end, however: anything of positive note in Nightbreed — relatively decent acting, sympathetic characters, mesmerizing evil characters, intriguing storyline, scares and gore — is missing from Underworld.
But then, Underworld doesn't exactly feel like a horror movie, despite its misshapen transmutations and cheesy and cheap-feeling horror ending. No, it feels much more like a routine TV detective flick, one in which a stereotypical stock character, an asshole (hitman?) turned painter named Bain (the incredibly wooden Larry Lamb [of Blood: The Last Vampire (2009 / trailer)]), is hired by his hated ex-boss, crime lord Motherskille (character actor Steven Berkoff) to find Bain's former love-of-his-life, the high-class hooker Nicole (Nicola Cowper of Journey to the Center of the Earth [1988 / trailer]), who was kidnapped from her house of employment by some pretty buttfuck-ugly guys.
The bare bones of the tale, in any event, comes across very much like the literary equivalent of a paint-by-numbers set, and the resulting film is about as interesting and involving and ingenious as a paint-by-numbers painting. (About the only high-point of the movie, if only for the casting, is that the legendary Ingrid Pitt [21 Nov 1937 – 23 Nov 2010] shows up to play the bordello mother, Pepperdine.) Bain's investigations lead him to a typically mad scientist, Dr. Savary (Denholm Elliott [31 May 1922 – 6 Oct 1992]), and things sort of get worse from there...
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of Underworld is its truly 80s sheen: the entire opening scene, up to when Nicole gets kidnapped, looks amazingly like an MTV music video of the day, something that is subtly and particularly underscored by the soundtrack from the 80s synth-band Freur, a band once also known as "Elephant with a stick of Rhubarb". (There is, for example, a scene made interesting by the music, which picks up and alters a man's saying the name "Nicole" to underscore the actual transition.) Blue tints, fog and strobes, billowy dresses and headscarves, long dark trench coats, and sunglasses after dark — did we really find all that cool back then?
Before the band Freur went on to become the band Underworld, they released one classic 80s song:
Nothing in the film has aged any better than the polyester plaids and blow-dry haircuts of the decade preceding it, the 70s. But although the unadulterated dated style does make the overall look somewhat fun to see nowadays, the textbook 80s style is not enough to carry the movie. Underworld is simply too sleep-inducing to be entertaining, and has no real positive aspects other than its intensely 80s style, Ingrid Pitt, and a young and unrecognizable and underused Miranda Richardson (of The House  and Sleepy Hollow [1999 / trailer]) as the monsterfied Oriel. (We all start somewhere.)
A failure when it was released (rightfully so), Underworld has yet to find any subsequent popularity, and it is doubtful that it ever will. While it is indeed a bad film, it lacks any of the outsider or off-the-wall oddness that makes good bad films so enjoyable. (Although, to give credit where credit is due, Larry Lamb is so woodenly beyond wooden that he does achieve a perverse appeal, on a masochistic level. One really senses that he does not want to be in the movie.) Underworld is, above all, an inert and unexciting and predictable and uninvolving slab of cinematic failure, and definitely not worth seeking out.
George Pavlou tried his hand at horror again with the horror comedy Little Devils: The Birth (1993 / trailer), possibly hoping for a low-budget D2V franchise like those begun with Critters (1986 / trailer) or Munchies (1987 / trailer) or Ghoulies (1984 / trailer) or Hobgoblins (1988 / trailer) or even the "big" budget Gremlins (1984 / trailer) — but: Nope. Never happened.
As Underworld, of course, they released this classic:
This here was our cat, Trotsky, named Trotsky because when we got him, our other cat was named Frida [Kahlo] and, since he definitely didn't look like a Diego [Rivera], he got christened after the only other person whom we knew Frida Kahlo had slept with, Leon Trotsky. (She probably slept with others, but none came to mind that day.) Trotsky, despite asthma and faulty kidneys, made it 14 years and across two countries (from Berlin to Mallorca). He died two days ago, on 24 May, the day a wasted life discovered, at boingboing, that Kenneth Anger (3 Feb 1927 – 11 May 2023) had also died, if but 13 days earlier. So, what do the two things have in common? Not much, actually, other than our free-form interlinking of tangentially and/or non-connected thought that is, in our opinion, somewhat reflective of Anger's method of the free-form interlinking of tangentially and/or non-connected visuals to create a free-form narrative in which a "plot" of sorts might be construed providing someone explains it. A style that is perhaps less so prevalent in his earlier films, but definitely in his later films (at least in those we've seen).
In Fireworks, his first "official" film, released when he was twenty (though he liked to claim it was made when he was 17), his surrealist tendencies are already evident, but unlike so much of his later work, the narrative is surprisingly coherent. The roughly twenty-minute short got him busted — possibly incomprehensibly, when seen today — for obscenity. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court of California, which deemed the film art, not pornography.
"This flick is all I have to say about being seventeen, the United States Navy, American Christmas, and the Fourth of July." Kenneth Anger
At boingboing, they write: "Kenneth Anger, the groundbreaking experimental filmmaker and occultist, has died. He was 96. Anger's visionary approach and integration of magick into his life and work is best embodied by Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969 / film) and Lucifer Rising (1972 / film). Those films and others in Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle were thematically based in the teachings of Aleister Crowley and visually amplified by the era's vibrant psychedelic aesthetic. Anger's films were a major influence on David Lynch, John Waters, Martin Scorsese, and, really, the cut-up style of early MTV music videos. Anger was also the author of the Hollywood Babylon books,* collecting the endless stream of rumors and gossip he heard while living in Tinsel Town." *"He was a pussycat, albeit one with claws ready to strike when necessary. His salacious book Hollywood Babylon, first published in France in 1959, was full of scandalous tales of the private lives of stars such as Lucille Ball and James Dean, and was banned immediately on its US release 10 years later. It finally made it through the lawyers in 1975, as did a 1984 sequel. In both, the seamiest recesses of Hollywood were mitigated by Anger's black humour. [The Guardian]"Possibly, but if the entertaining first book, with it apocryphal and/or twisted truths remains an entertaining read, the second book has more bile than actual content. Still, had the legendary third one ever been published, we probably would've read it, too. In memory of the influential filmmaker, our Short Film of the Month for May 2023 is his short Fireworks, the "first" of what was to become roughly about 40 short films Anger was to make in total, and the first of the nine he was eventually to gather together and refer to as his "Magick Lantern Cycle". Fireworks is "one of the strongest contributions to the cycle of trance films inaugurated by Maya Deren, […] a feverish and disarmingly boyish study of male desire that revealed the rich dream logic and puckish charm that would remain a quintessence of Anger's films. [Harvard Film Archive]"
An obscure and amusing but hardly imperative Scandinavian crime comedy that offers a decent one-and-one-half hours of smiles and laughs. Think low-level Guy Ritchie with the pacing of Fargo (1996 / trailer) set in Butt-Fuck, Nowhere, Lapland. We were reminded of other eccentric crime burlesques we've enjoyed, like the substantially darker and better Yugoslavian Wheels (1988 / trailer) and the substantially more misogynistic Lithuanian Zero 2 (2010): guns and dead people and over-the-top characterization and at-times almost whimsical visual and situational and character-based humor.
Trailer to Baba's Cars:
The sophomore directional project of actor and former male model Rafael Edholm (of Operation Ragnarok [2018 / trailer]), Baba's Cars was co-written with Björn Olofsson, with whom Edholm co-wrote his eventual follow-up movie, the thriller, the bomb, that is Mörkt vatten (2012 / trailer). The titular Baba's Cars is a sell-all establishment owned by the eponymous shyster Baba (Hassan Brijany [12 Apr 1961 – 23 Jul 2020]), whose obvious Middle Eastern roots obviously didn't get in the way of siring a stereotypically Swedish-blonde daughter, Anso (Sara Sommerfeld). She is estranged from her daddy ever since he dicked her husband Jojo (a not unattractive Andreas Wilson,* also of Kill Your Darlings [2006 / trailer] and War of the Dead [2011 / trailer]) by gypping him on a car.
* His "deadly stare is guaranteed to give you a lady-krona" [BuzzFeed]… Hell, his stare could give us a throbbing man-krona.
Jojo, who unlike Russian gangster Ivan (Georgi Staykov) doesn't beat his significant other when she complains, wants nothing but to make his gal happy, but she's sick of eating fish and where he lives, and dreams of a house of their own. All of which leads to Jojo picking up a black Cadillac that Baba procures at a too-good-too-be-true price from Ivan's wife Elena (Laura Malmivaara, of Vares [2004 / trailer], a film we saw and remember nada about), which Baba promptly sells to a chirpy but dryly annoying Norwegian (the always fun Per Christian Ellefsen of Elling [2001 / trailer] and Rare Exports [2010 / trailer])…
By the sound of it all, nothing new but for the bleak, snow-covered Lapland setting. And, indeed, little is new — but for that, a lot of quirky humor built around quirky people doing quirky things, as well as one or two rather bloody laughs. One of the latter, which happens early in the film, concerns a thug's sudden inability to smoke — in regards to blood and burlesque, it is never matched again in the film.
Much of the humor definitely goes over the head of non-Scandinavians (we often felt we seem to be missing something), but enough things hit the mark to make the movie an engaging little crime comedy. The big, final showdown works well, tying in nicely with an earlier scene filmed very much like a typical explain-the-legend scene of a horror film that plays with the concept of the stereotypical never-seen über-boss of the Russian mafia.
That said, the closing happy-end five minutes is a groaner, if only because no newly married couple is going to drive off into the sunset with their dad in the backseat. For all its laughs and the smiles the film induces, one comes away thinking that Baba's Car could have been tighter, blacker and funnier. And that is why, although entertaining viewing, the movie is hardly imperative viewing. Don't go in expecting a lot, and you'll probably enjoy it (almost) a lot.
Trivia: Director Rafael Edholm, according to diverse online sources, is one of the male models found in the classic video to Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou's dance classic anthem, Freedom '90, which was directed by David Fincher (Alien III [1992 / trailer]).
Fifty-two years and 11 months ago, on 17
June 1970, Russ Meyer's baroque masterpiece Beyond the Valley of the Dolls hit
the screens in the US of Anal. One of only two movies Meyer ever made for a
major Hollywood studio (in this case, Fox), Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is
without a doubt one of the Babest movies ever made.
"Using unknowns you avoid highly
exaggerated salaries and prima donnas."
While we have yet to review it here at a wasted life (if we did, we
would foam at the mouth in raging rave), we have looked at it before: back in
2011, in our R.I.P. Career Review of Charles
Napier (12 Apr 1936 – 5 Oct 2011), and again in 2013 in our R.I.P. Career
Review for the Great Haji (24 Jan
1946 – 10 Aug 2013) — both appear in the film.
"This is not a sequel. There has never
been anything like it!"
At Haji's entry, we were wrote, among other things: "Originally intended as a
sequel to the 1967 movie version of Jacqueline Susann's novel Valley of the
Dolls (trailer), Meyer
and co-screenwriter Roger Ebert instead made a Pop Art exploitation satire of
the conventions of the modern Hollywood melodrama, written in sarcasm but
played straight, complete with a 'moralistic' ending that owes its inspiration
to the Manson-inspired murder of Sharon Tate and her guests on August 9, 1969.
Aside from the movie's absolutely insane plot, the cinematography is also
noteworthy — as are the figures of the pneumatic babes that populate the entire
movie. For legal reasons, the film starts with the following disclaimer: 'The
film you are about to see in not a sequel to Valley of the Dolls. It is wholly
original and bears no relationship to real persons, living or dead. It does,
like Valley of the Dolls, deal with the oft-times nightmare world of show
business but in a different time and context.' […]"
"Any movie that Jacqueline Susann thinks
would damage her reputation as a writer cannot be all bad."
Russ Meyer films are always populated by
amazing females sights, but Beyond the Valley of the Dolls literally overflows
its cups in an excess of pulchritude that (even if somewhat more demurely
covered than in most of his films) lights the fires of any person attracted to
women of the curvaceous kind that preceded today's sculptured plasticity. The
film is simply Babe Galore — and so, for the year past and the time to come, we are looking at
the film careers of the women of the Babest Film of All Times, Beyond the
Valley of the Dolls. The size of their breasts roles is of lesser importance
than the simple fact that they are known to be in it somewhere, so we will look
at the known unknowns in the background and the headlining semi-knowns in the
front. With one notable exception: the National Treasure that is the Great Pam
Greer. Though she had her film debut in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls somewhere
in the background, and therefore should be included, we feel that a Wonderment
of her caliber deserves an entry all of her own — a Sisyphean task we might one
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls:
In any event, for however long it takes, we
will look deep into the cleavages eyes of the various females known to be in
the movie, although one or two might barely register. They were all date
material (barring, perhaps, the
ethereal-looking one, now dead, who ended up murdering her first husband
and tried to do in her second). So far, we have looked at:
To continue at the task at hand: The July
1970 issue of Playboy did a pictorial cum article on Beyond the Valley of the
Dolls which, interestingly enough, features the assets of a few women who are
said to be in the film but appear on no credit list that we could locate. We
imagine that, much like the National Treasure Pam Grier, they were hired to
fill the background and not a part, and thus have remained overlooked if not
But speaking of the Great Grier, let's take a look at the photo
above, taken on the set of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls: the babe standing
next to her, who like Ms. Grier is not found on any credit list to the film, is
Cissy Colpitts (a.k.a. Cissie and, eventually Cisse Cameron). In the Playboy
pictorial below, in which she is seen wearing the same outfit, they say
"Missourian Cissie Colpitts, 18. Has been in Hollywood for less than a
year and has two movies to her credit — Valley and The Grasshopper."
Colpitts went on to a viable if minor acting career in Hollyweird, finally
retiring in 1997. Older readers might know her under the name she used as of
1978, after the sitcom she was a regular in, The Ted Knight Show (1978), was
cancelled: Cisse Cameron.
She married to fellow actor Reb Brown
(below, from Yor, Hunter from the Future [1983 / trailer])
in 1979 and it appears they are still a happy couple. Cisse was born 5 January
1954 as "the daughter of a dentist [and Special-Ed teacher] from St.
Louis, MO. She studied dance and voice in St. Louis until college age. She has
a brother, Ralph, and a sister, Suzanne. Although she went by Cissy, her real
name is Matilda. [Steve's
Prior to going to La La Land, she won the title
of Miss Watermelon Bust at Butler University in 1967; that's her in the
clipping below, the second set from your left.
Last month we looked at her film career up
until 1980; now, we look at the rest…
(1981, dir. David Greene)
Not that it matters much, but one of director
David Greene's kids, his son Nic, went to art college with us and was, once
upon a time, in a decent band called The Blue
Daises with the gallerist Jeff
Poe and artist Nate Scoble.
The Blue Daisies –
Director David Greene (22 Feb 1921 – 7 Apr
2003) made some good stuff in his early days, like The Shuttered Room (1967 / trailer)
or I Start Counting (1970 / trailer),
but then America and a career as one of the best-employed TV directors came. Hard
Country, a kitchen sink-type drama set in Texas, is not one of his worst and is
noteworthy, if nothing else, as the feature-film debut of Kim Bassinger as
Jodie. (Daryl Hannah, playing her sister Loretta, had already debuted three
years earlier somewhere in The Fury [1978 / trailer]
and soon followed with Blade Runner [1982 / trailer];
her other film of 1981, The Final Terror [trailer],
didn't get released until 1983.) Cissi Colpitts's cleavage shows up as the wife
Parks [24 Apr 1940 – 9 May 2017] of Planet
Terror  and so much more), the successful brother of Jan-Michael
The plot, as found at Life
Between Frames: "[Chain-link fence] factory worker Kyle (Jan-Michael
Vincent [15 Jul 1944 – 10 Feb 2019, below not from the film but from Buster
and Billie (1974 / trailer),
as painted by Anthony
De Frange]) and directory assistance operator Jodie (Kim Basinger) have
been dating for a year. They're setting up a life together in their little
Texas town, sharing a small apartment and living on fast food that Jodie passes
off as her own cooking. But things are turned upside down when Jodie's
childhood friend Caroline (Tanya Tucker), who's got a successful singing career
going on, comes home to perform at the local country bar. Caroline is the only
person Jodie knows who left town to live out their dreams, and her visit makes
Jodie desperate to move to California and pursue her own childhood dream of
being an airline stewardess. […]"
"The rest of Hard Country deals with
Jodie trying to assert her independence from not only Kyle but from her own
family. She finally has to turn her back on both and realize that she has to
become her own woman and not worry about everyone else. Once she shows Kyle
that she doesn't want to leave him, but will if that's what it takes to fulfill
her own dreams, Kyle actually comes to some self realization of his own."
"In several surveys of Americans, it
has been found that most men would not reshuffle their lives if their mate were
offered a good job in another part of the country. The film probes the
emotional turmoil in a relationship when such a decision must be made. Director
David Greene draws out affecting performances from Jan-Michael Vincent as a man
who must reassess his love, and from Kim Basinger as a woman who is challenged
to fulfill her dream. Hard Country resonates thematically with Urban Cowboy
(1980 / trailer)
but is a much more authentic and meaningful movie. Don't miss this fine film. [Spiritually
From the film,
Martin Murphey & Katty
Porky's II: The Next Day
(1983, dir. Bob
The second and supposedly weakest entry of
the original three films of the Porky's franchise, Porky's II: The Next Day was
preceded by the smash hit Porky's (1981 / trailer),
which was likewise directed by Bob Clark),
and was followed by Porky's Revenge (1985 / trailer),
which was directed by James Komack (3 Aug 1924 – 24 Dec 1997). The characters
of Porky (Chuck
Mitchell [28 Nov 1927 – 22 Jun 1992]), Honeywell (Kim Cattrall) and Cherry Forever (Susan Clark), all of whom are integral
to the narrative of Porky's, are completely absent in Porky's II: The Next
Day — in fact, the sequel has absolutely nothing to do
with either the strip club, Porky's, which burnt down in the first film, or the
club's eponymous owner. In 2009, in a typical industry case of flogging a dead
horse in order to retain the legal rights to any possible future remake,
trashmaster Brian Trenchard-Smith directed a fourth film that was quickly
forgotten: Porky's Pimpin' Pee Wee (trailer).
No one from the original films participated in it.
Porky's II: The Next Day:
The plot, as found at Retro Junk:
"The gang from the original Porky's is back as well as some new faces […].
This time the gang is fighting to keep their play 'An Evening with Shakespeare'
from being shut down when religious fanatic Reverend Flavell (Bill Wiley [1 Nov
1928 – 12 Jul 2021]) claims that Shakespeare is nothing by vile smut and filth.
After having been assured by City Councilman Gebhardt (Edward
Winter [3 Jun 1937 – 8 Mar 2001]) that the play will continue everyone is
extremely happy. When the play gets cancelled and the team learns that the city
council and Gebhardt are responsible, they decide to fight back. What you'll
get from this highly comical sequel is new ways to get even with Balbricker (Nancy Parsons
[17 Jan 1942 – 5 Jan 2001] of Motel
Hell ), embarrassing a reverend, and more good stuff to keep put a
smile on your face for a long time."
Cisse Cameron plays a character named Sandy
Le Toi, who throughout her scenes is referred to by others as
"Gloria" — Graveyard Gloria, to be exact. She is a carnival dancer
hired by Pee Wee (Dan Monahan of The
Night Flier ) and Brian (Scott Colomby of Quiet Days in Hollywood
[1997 / trailer])
as part of a prank: she pretends to be a demure librarian known as Graveyard
Gloria who gets hot and bothered by cemeteries and, later, while having a topless
roll in the grass in a cemetery with Pee Wee, she pretends to die of a heart
attack and... Hell, see the film — maybe you'll find it funny. There she is
Not funny: Director Bob Clark (5
Aug 1939 – 4 Apr 2007) — director of She-Man: A Story of Fixation (1967 / full
film), Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1972 / trailer below), Deathdream a.k.a. Dead of Night (1974 / trailer)
and Black Christmas (1974 / trailer)
— was killed on the Pacific Coast Highway car along with his 22-year-old
son Ariel Clark (23 Nov 1984 – 4 Apr 2007) when a 24-year-old drunk driver without a driver's license named
Hector Velazquez-Nava crossed the medium and crashed head-on into their car.
Children Shouldn't Play with
The Ratings Game
(1984, dir. Danny DeVito)
Cisse Cameron has a negligible part as
Wendy in this early directorial effort by Danny DeVito, a TV movie made for the
Showtime/Movie Channel network. As such, it is his actual feature-length film
directorial debut, which was followed some three years later by the much
more fun comedy, Throw Mama from the Train (1988 / trailer).
Although The Ratings Game, long ago, had a VHS and laserdisc release, for years
the movie was unavailable on any other later (but now just as outdated) media, though
a bootleg could be found under the title The Mogul; 2016 saw it released on
The Ratings Game:
The plot, as given with the trailer at YouTube:
"Danny DeVito plays Vic De Salvo, a New Jersey trucking magnate whose only
dream is hitting it big as a Hollywood producer. There's only one thing
standing in his way. He has no talent. Zero. Luckily for him, he also has no
morals, no conscience and a girlfriend (Rhea Perlman) who works for the ratings
service. Together, they pull a hilarious scam on television's sacred ratings
system that sets TV entertainment back....oh, at least one or two seasons.
Suddenly anything and everything that Vic De Salvo puts his fingers on is a
hit. Can one man single-handedly control almost 100% of the television
business?" Now as then, The Ratings Game generates diverse reactions amongst
those who watch it.
Film doesn't really like it: "This premise sounds promising, but The Ratings Game seems off in every
department. Not only is the script by Jim Mulholland and Michael Barrie, who
gave us Amazon Women of the Moon (1987 / trailer),
about as bland as anything I've ever seen, but the leaden direction and
performances — not to mention an awkward musical score — fail to inject much
life into it. Hard to believe this is the same DeVito who would go on to direct
the biting War of the Roses (1989 / trailer)
and the raucous Throw Mama from the Train. Despite his endless mugging,
sequences such as the taping of his sitcom pilot before a live audience and the
chaos that erupts during a climactic TV awards show where he's chased down by
the police for fraud just seem to sit there."
likes it: "The Ratings Game
works brilliantly as a satire of not only the culture television shows
stimulate, but in turn the entertainment our culture inspires. If you
believe that television is a pop culture wasteland […], the movie will, at
least, provide a foundation for that belief. The Nielsen ratings [system] exists
as a kind of sample pool of viewing habits. […] It's not an exact science and
has caused consternation through the years as people have seen their favorite
shows cancelled due to weak or low ratings. Networks and syndicators take those
figures and charges advertisers varying rates for commercials that will air
during those shows."
Stately Wayne Manor
also likes it: "[…] I consider it 1984's funniest comedy nobody saw. It
even contained a slice of television history: future costars Jerry Seinfeld and
Michael Richards appeared in Game six years before Seinfeld debuted
on NBC. DeVito and Rhea Perlman are a more-energetic-than-talented TV producer
and a ratings service employee, respectively, collaborating to make his
atrocious shows — which are brilliant in their idiocy — seem to be smash
hits. Not so much a caper picture, the film is really a stiff jab at the
television industry, packed with plenty of memorable lines and exchanges. Vincent
Schiavelli ([11 Nov 1946 – 26 Dec 2005] of Milo
) nearly steals the entire show as a Jersey dimwit with delusions of
being a Hollywood insider ('Please, please, this is an A-party!'); and Kevin
McCarthy, the lead in the original Invasion of The Body Snatchers (1956 / trailer, with Dana Wynter)
looks to be having the time of his life as a rat-bastard TV exec."
(1988, dir. 2 maybe 3 guys)
"Surrender, or be blown to astro-dust!"
Filmed in South Africa during The Apartheid Era, which might explain why there isn't even at
least one representational Black character. A classic
of the so-terrible-it's-good genre of WTF-were-they-thinking? school of
filmmaking. While he was still alive, former West Sider David [A-rab
dances] Winters (5 Apr 1939 – 23 Apr 2019), who is the credited director —
not to mention the director of the early meta-horror film The Last Horror Film
[1982 / trailer]
— tried to have the film credited to Allan Smithee.
"It's not unlike ancient dental
equipment on Earth – not that you'd know anything about that!"
Kalgan (John Phillip Law)
Winters had left the film early due to a family
matter and handed the directorial chores over to the assistant director Neal
Sundstrom, making his [uncredited] directorial debut. Subsequent directorial
efforts by Sundstrom, like the Steven Railsback's slasher Slash (2002 / trailer)
and the [typical bad] Richard Grieco flick, Dead Easy (2004 / trailer),
would indicate that Winters is innocent. That said, Sundstrom did do one of the
more-entertaining entries of the Howling franchise, The Howling V: The Rebirth
(1989 / trailer),
and Space Mutiny is really one of those movie that are so terrible that one
should be proud of it. Allegedly, David A Prior ([5 Oct 1955 — 16 Aug 2015] of Killer
Workout a.k.a. Aerobicide [1987 / title
track]) was pulled in later, once Winters and Sundstrom both washed their
hands of the movie, to direct the space-witch segments. Many of the space
battle scenes are directed by whoever did the original Battlestar Galactica
(1978-79), since that is whence they come.
Trailer track to
Obviously enough, despite her credit as
"Introducing Cissy Cameron" (she becomes "Cisse Cameron"
again in the end credits), Ms. Cameron had already appeared in many a film
project. Space Mutiny is, however, the first of only two movies that Cisse
Cameron ever made with her beefcake breast-man
husband Reb Brown (whose thespian talents are on display in stuff like Sssssss
[1973 / trailer],
our favourite Albert Pyun film The Sword and the Sorcerer [1982 / trailer,
Lynch], Howling II: ... Your Sister Is a Werewolf [1985 / trailer),
Bruno Mattei's Robowar [1988 / trailer],
Antonio Margheriti's Yor: The Hunter from the Future [1983 / trailer],
Night Claws [2012 / trailer]
and more); they play two of the lead good guys, Dr. Lea Jansen and pilot Dave
Ryder (they have a sex scene). Contrary to popular misconception, they didn't meet for the
first time on the set of this film: they had already been married for nine
years (and apparently still are today). Also on hand: the eternally slumming Cameron
Mitchell (4 Nov 1918 – 6 Jul 1994), of Nightmare
in Wax (1969) and more, and as the main bad guy, Mitchell's buddy John
Phillip Law (7 Sep 1937 – 13 May 2008) ofDeath Rides a Horse (1967) andNight
Train to Terror (1985), among other anti-films.
"Can a woman buy a man a drink in your
Lea Jansen (Cissy Cameron)
The plot, as found at Cult Faction:
"[…] Thirteen generations ago, the Southern Sun left its home planet
(implied to be Earth) and began its journey through space looking for a new
world to colonise. Flight Commander Elijah Kalgan (John Phillip Law) is
not happy with the journey of the Southern Sun so [he] conspires with Chief
Engineer MacPhearson (James Ryan of Kill and Kill Again [1981 / trailer]
and From Dusk to Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money [1999 / trailer])
and local pirates to disrupt the ship's current course and direct them to the
Corona Borealis system. Once in the Corona Borealis system, Kalgan
wishes to use the Enforcers (basically the Southern Sun police force) to hijack
the ship and, with the pirates on standby, the Southern Sun will have no choice
but let his mutiny succeed. Once in charge he plans to sell the majority of his
shipmates into slavery! To kickstart his plan, and weaken leadership on the
Southern Sun, Kalgan sabotages a key part of the Southern Sun just the
important Professor Spooner is coming into land. This causes the ship to
explode, killing Spooner, but by some miracle the ship's pilot Dave Ryder (Reb
Brown) manages to beam out and survive!" Needless to say Ryder saves the
day… with a little
help from his friends.
"Can the hunk Ryder and the precocious
semi-space babe Lea (Cameron) overcome Kalgan's might and evil desires and save
the Southern Sun? Will the psychic space babes trade in psychic pre-marital sex
for a more carnal variety of intimacy? Will Ryder's eyes, which are glued on
Lea's body, ever gravitate to her face? Space Mutiny […] is a lot of fun. For
those of you fed up with the hype and preachy nature of Star Wars, this film is
a perfect elixir. [Zisi
"Take that, you space bitch!"
Kalgan (John Phillip Law)
"An unbelievably bad sci-fi movie, the
sheer awfulness making it unbelievably entertaining. […] This is a film which
reuses footage from Battlestar Galactica (all the space scenes) — though some
are played backwards. The original special effects are not up to much. Most of
the space ship interior looks like an abandoned factory, with a few
'futuristic' sets which use 1980s PCs. The bad guys drive around in golf carts
which fire laser guns. Meanwhile, there are a group of alien women aboard who
prance around to New Age music and appear to exert some kind of psychic control
on people, though not much effect on the plot. The plot is rather basic
and incoherent. The acting is almost universally awful. The fight scenes
chaotic and inept... Obviously the film is hilarious. This is a film where one
of the supporting actors dies... and then reappears as an extra in the next
"Let's go out there and kick some ass!"
Ryder (Reb Brown)
"[…] There's plenty more space cheese
to go around. Some of the costumes are right out of American Gladiators, while
others are the more conventional Star Trek/Wars ripoffs. Apparently in the
future they use hula hoops to boogie to corny synth music while dry ice fills
the dance floor. […] Brown struggles any time he is called upon to emote, but
luckily most of his lines consist of yelling 'Let's move' or 'Son of a bitch'
while running around shooting lasers. Law's bad guy is quite dastardly — we
know that because of the amount of times he gives an uber-evil Mwa-ha-ha laugh.
All that's missing is a curly moustache for him to twirl. […] What does all
this add up to? A damn good time, naturally! […] Definitely recommended! [Schlock
to the System]"
"You're much more attractive with your
Kalgan (John Phillip Law)
The Edge of a Dream:
(1997, dir. John A. Gallagher)
One of those independent NYC productions
ala Smoke (1995 / trailer), Blue in the Face (1995 / trailer) and/or Coffee and
Cigarettes (2003 / trailer) in which the filmmaker(s) — in this case, director John
A Gallagher (1955 – 27 Oct 2020) and co-scribe John
Dorrian (24 Apr 1964 – 6 Dec 2019) — write the barest of plot outlines and
then invite everyone in the business they know or worked with to stop by to do
an improvised scene. Critics seem to like these kinds of films, but we find
them pretty self-indulgent — like this blog, actually.
John A. Gallagher's connection to Reb Brown
is the cheap actioner titled Street Hunter (1990 / trailer below), which explains how/why
Brown makes an anomalous appearance in an indi film as a con artist; one can
only assume that thus Gallagher knew Cisse Cameron as well, who makes her last
appearance on screen as Mrs. Cavallo.
The plot as found at an evil firm that
wants to sell you the DVD, whence the description is probably taken: "The
Deli is […] about a hard luck gambler who gets in over his head when he starts
putting his store's profits on the line. Mike
Starr plays Johnny Amico, a delicatessen owner who
plays the same numbers in the lottery every week for his mother (Judith
Malina [4 Jun 1926 – 10 Apr 2015] of Flaming Creatures [1963 / trailer
of sorts] and The Addams Family [1991 / trailer]).
The one week he doesn't play, his mother's numbers come up and he hatches a
madcap plan to raise the prize money. With one week to make good on his debts,
Johnny rides a comic rollercoaster as he desperately tries to save his deli
while battling a crazy bunch of bookies, gangsters and neighborhood nuts!"
liked it: "There is barely enough plot here for an average sitcom episode,
but that doesn't stop Gallagher from stretching The Deli to acceptable feature
length. He gets a great deal of help from his supporting players […]. Standouts
in the cast include David Johansen as a zonked-out cabby with a bad sense of
direction; Ice T as a surly meat wholesaler who's growing impatient with Johnny;
and Heather Matarazzo [of Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995 / trailer)]
as a smart-mouthed, flashy-dressing teen who captures the fancy of Pinky (Brian
Vincent), Johnny’s slow-witted counterman. Matt Keeslar [of Psycho
Beach Party (2000)] is well cast as deli manager Andy […]. Burt Young and
Jerry Stiller play it straight as underworld types. And Frank Vincent is
appropriately menacing as a bookmaker who wants to see Johnny lose
NY Times, Janet Maslin was less appreciative: "The Deli sets up shop
in a New York delicatessen and waits for colorful neighbors to drop by. They
do, since the cast includes small roles for various familiar figures, performers
as varied as Ice T […] and Iman. [And Debi Mazar, Shirley Stoler (of the
classic Honeymoon Killers [1970 / trailer below]), Burt Young, Heavy D, and
Gretchen Mol.] But John Gallagher's film rarely gives them more to do than
ramble and improvise excitably. On this deli's menu, there's way too much ham.
Easygoing though it lacks any special spark, The Deli treats a parade of minor
characters as if their presence constituted a story. […] The film isn't sharply
observed enough for a comic edge, and its pileup of stock ingredients is too
relentless. […] Zeitgeist note: The platform-and-polyester revival continues.
Even in a delicatessen, the film finds a way to stage a disco dancing scene."
The Honeymoon Killers:
(1988, writ & dir. Peter Greenaway)
"Do all fat men have little penises?"
Cissie Colpitts #1 (Joan Plowright)
This art movie gets a special mention even
though Cisse Cameron has absolutely nothing to do with it, per say, but Peter
Greenaway is too an exacting and detailed filmmaker for us to truly believe one
aspect of the film is a coincidence.
Drowning by Numbers:
Consider: Greenaway has stated that there
are 100 objects in the room of the character named Smut [Jason Edwards] that
begin with the letter "S", and 100 objects beginning with the letter
"M" in the room of Madgett [Bernard Hill of Franklyn(2008)]. Indeed: "In Drowning by Numbers, number-counting, the rules of
games and the repetitions of the plot are all devices which emphasize
structure. Through the course of the film each of the numbers 1 to 100 appear,
the large majority in sequence, often seen in the background, sometimes spoken
by the characters. [Wikipedia]"
Peter Greenway is simply too anal when it comes to his films for anything to be
The why of the why he would add this detail
to the film that we've noticed is beyond us, but it must have been intentional,
for whatever reason — but Cisse Cameron's original stage name, Cissie Colpitts,
is simply too rare and individual, and all the three main female protagonists
of this movie are named Cissie Colpitts.
Mondo Digital has the
plot to "one of the most sumptuous European films
"In the middle of the night, aging Cissie Colpitts (Joan Plowright)
watches her drunken, adulterous husband frolicking in a tin bath with a naked
woman. Cissie calmly decides to drown him and turns to the local coroner,
Madgett (Bernard Hill), convincing him to pass off the death as a heart attack.
The lovelorn and game-obsessed Madgett reluctantly agrees, but trouble begins
when the neighbors begin to suspect something is amiss. To make matters worse,
Cissie's daughter (Juliet Stevenson) and niece (Joely Richardson of Event
Horizon ), both named Cissie as well, decide to drown their husbands
with Madgett's aid, promising sexual favors but delivering little. Meanwhile
Madgett's peculiar son, Smut, develops an unhealthy fixation with the
constellation-counting girl next door, leading to a climax filled with ironic
"A cerebral joy of a puzzle about
games and life and the blending of the two. Trigenerational women drown their
three husbands and get the coroner to cover up for them. The coroner loves
weird games, his son is obsessed with playing them and counting everything in
sight (mostly dead things), everything has rules, and the son has a crush for a
girl who skips rope and counts stars. Everything gets interconnected, life,
death and its rules turn into games and counting exercises, and vice versa. The
movie itself is a game — see if you can spot all the clues and numbers. [Worldwide
Celluloid Massacre]" Using the name of an obscure B-movie actress is
also part of the game.