Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Underworld (Great Britain, 1985)

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 [2022] 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:

Friday, May 26, 2023

Short Film: Fireworks (USA, 1947)

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
quoted at the Tumblr Nino Rota

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]"
Kenneth Anger's
Fireworks (1947):

Friday, May 19, 2023

Baba's Cars / Babas bilar (Sweden, 2006)

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]).    
Original video to
George Michael's Freedom:

Friday, May 12, 2023

B.o.Y.: The Women of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Part XlI – Cissy Colpitts, Part II (1981-88)

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!"
 Advertisement tagline
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 Grier. 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 day endeavor…
Trailer to
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:
Part I (June 2022), The Non-babe of Note of BVD:
Part II (July 2022), Background Babe of BVD:
Part III (Aug 2022), Background Babe of BVD:
Part IV (Sept 2022), Background Babe of BVD:
Part V (Oct 2022), Background Babe of BVD:
Part VI (Nov 2022), Background Babe of BVD:
Part VII (Dec 2022): Killer Babe of BVD:
Part VIII (Jan 2023): Background Babe of BVD:
Part IX (Feb 2023), Background Babes of BVD:
Part X (Mar 2023), Background Babe found in
Playboy's BVD Pictorial:
 Part XI (Apr 2023), Background Babe found in
Playboy's BVD Pictorial:
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 also forgotten.
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."
Cissi 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.
A lot of Cisse Cameron in
The Ted Knight Show Promo:
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 Library]"
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…
Hard Country
(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 –
Suck Me:
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 Royce (Michael Parks [24 Apr 1940 – 9 May 2017] of Planet Terror [2007] and so much more), the successful brother of Jan-Michael Vincent's character.
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 & Practice]
From the film,
Martin Murphey & Katty Moffatt's
Hard Country:

Porky's II: The Next Day
(1983, dir. Bob Clark)
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.
Trailer to
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 [1980]), 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 [1997]) 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 below, "dead".
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.
Trailer to
Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things:

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 BluRay.
Trailer to
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.
HK 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."
VHS Rewind 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 [1998]) 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."
Space Mutiny
(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) 
Trailer to
Space Mutiny:
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
Killer Workout:
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, with Richard 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) of
Death Rides a Horse (1967) and Night Train to Terror (1985),  among other anti-films.
"Can a woman buy a man a drink in your galaxy?"
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 Emporium]"
"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 scene! [Quota Quickie]"
"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 mouth shut!"
Kalgan (John Phillip Law)
Steve McClintock
The Edge of a Dream:

The Deli
(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.
Trailer to
Street Hunter:
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!"
Variety 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 everything."
But at The 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."
Trailer to
The Honeymoon Killers:

Special mention:
Drowning by Numbers
(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.
Trailer to
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 a coincidence.
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 ever made": "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 [1997]), 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 tragedies."
"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.
Michael Nyman's score to
Drowning by Numbers:  
Coming next —
The one who "made it":
Phyllis Davis
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...