Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Four years ago... sometime in October...

...the B-Movie Buffet made it's humble debut as a semi-annual column on CrimsonAndCherry.com. Since then I've always kind of considered Halloween to be our "birthday", even though the BMB site didn't officially launch until February 2005. Anywhoo, in honor of this occasion (and seeing as how the C&C archives are currently off-line and therefore currently unreadable) I thought I'd post said first column here for anyone who might care to read it. Enjoy!

In the past couple years my hubby, the Kommandant, has really wanted a DVD player. I was hesitant; for one thing, we have a perfectly good VCR - in fact we have two - and many, many videos. Why do we need a DVD player? And isn't this just going to end up being another Manitoba's Wild Kingdom situation? (This is kind of an in-joke between the Kommandant & I, basically we have that record in every available format - cassette, vinyl & CD.) It was the record player vs. CD player controversy of my college years all over again. I eventually folded and got a CD player but I still like records more than CDs. I might still be holding out on the DVD argument today but eventually he just went ahead and bought himself one for his birthday. (We have separate bank accounts so I couldn't really say anything.) I must admit I have since been won over by the new format because, for whatever reason, the powers that be of filmdom seem to be intent on releasing every and any thing they've got on DVD.

As a lover of cinema that goes below the "mainstream" radar this has definitely worked to my advantage. You can find all sorts of crap on DVD! And of course, I mean crap as a compliment. So… in honor of my new-found love of DVDs, my long-term love of weird cinema and my life-long love of Halloween I offer up a sampling of cult / B-movie DVDs that I think are just perfect for this festive holiday season. I've decided to not discriminate by rating category so I've chosen things with G ratings all the way to XXX. I'll start with the all ages fare; although now that I've said that everyone is probably going to skip to the end anyway.

Batman: The Movie (20th Century Fox) OK, so this movie isn't necessarily Halloween related but it's got plenty of masks and costumes - and what in the world is more fun, kitschy and B-movie-esque than Batman? I have seen this movie like a hundred times and I swear I could watch it a hundred times more. Where to even start? The set… the dialogue… the "special effects"… really, the movie has it all. Except Julie Newmar, my favorite Catwoman; instead they cast Lee Meriwether (AKA the lamest Catwoman) for some reason. Obviously I'm willing to overlook that since every other aspect is so cheesy and bad that it's actually great - just like the TV show. And I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they put that out on DVD. In the meantime, you can watch this.

Destroy All Monsters (ADV Films) Of course, the name Godzilla is synonymous with cult cinema and, not surprisingly, I love Godzilla movies. It was hard to choose just one but, since this one has such a mind boggling wide and varied array of classic examples of bad cinema and, as the title would imply, lots of monsters, it's a good place to start if you're new to the genre. I think it's fair to say this isn't gonna really frighten young children, unless the child is bright enough to be frightened of the thought of a major motion picture studio (which Toho is in Japan) that gets away with using string so boldly - so I'd say this is OK for family viewing. Generally speaking, Godzilla movies are for the young and young at heart alike.

Bucket Of Blood (MGM) This movie, although not particularly gory or scary by today's standards, is a little higher up on the maturity scale. It has a cohesive plot; although that's not to say it's not a wacky slice of cinema - it's a Roger Corman movie. (I think that fact speaks volumes about any movie.) It's basically about a busboy in a beatnik coffee house who secretly longs to be an artist and in with the "in" crowd. When he accidentally kills a cat and makes it into art, it seems like his dream is going to come true. Then, naturally (as in any great b-movie) wacky hi-jinx ensue. The star of the film, Dick Miller, has also been in tons of other films of various grades and I believe even had a brief stint as some sort of criminal-with-a-heart-of-gold on General Hospital.

Killer Creature Double Feature (Madacy Entertainment) I have not seen every one of the movies in this DVD series but the series as a whole is definitely of note, not only for the movies themselves but also for each DVD's incredibly odd pairings. For example, Screaming Skull, a black & white atmospheric, "psychological thriller" is paired with The Werewolf VS. Vampire Woman, an undeniably cheesy but great low budget film from 1970 starring Paul Naschy. Another equally odd pairing is the horrifyingly bad Tormented with Lady Frankenstein - I believe the only Frankenstein movie to feature Jayne Mansfield's ex-husband Mickey Hargitay, natch. Each DVD has two movies, some trailers for other titles in the series and a cartoon. What are you waiting for? Pop up some popcorn & settle in with your honey for some B-movie classics, you can always make out instead if you don't like the movie - just like at a real drive-in.

Evil Dead (Anchor Bay) I figured I had to throw one actual horror movie in here. I do like a number of larger budget horror movies but they're too big budget for this purpose. Evil Dead is low budget by my standards, although it has since gone on to much greater acclaim than probably anyone thought it would. I first saw this movie when I was in high school, and at the time it really creeped me out. Then again I was in a stranger's house (a friend of the guy I was dating at the time) that was decorated in a very weird mix of hunting ephemera and dolls, and we were all stoned to the gills - and I was sixteen. These days, it's hard not to watch it and see Bruce Campbell as the campy actor he is now known as but you still gotta love this flick, especially around Halloween.

The Adult Version of Jekyll and Hide (Something Weird) OK, everyone - now we're getting to the smutty stuff. This is a very loose interpretation (in fact, the title isn't even spelled properly) of the well known story where a certain doctor drinks a potion and turns into a blood thirsty stalker. (No relation to the Limecell song by the same name.) Only in this "Adult" version Dr Jekyll, who is a man, turns into Miss Hide - oh yes, a woman. I think they needed an excuse to get boobs into the plot-line; and, in that sense, mission accomplished. It seems the first thing any male doctor would do if he suddenly turned into a woman is feel him- (or is it her-?) self up. As far as the adult aspect, it's not what you'd call porn by today's standards. There's nudity, particularly in the form of the aforementioned boobs, and what I'll call implied sex. Maybe a little kissing around the midsection, but the camera certainly never ventures any father down than that. Nonetheless, this is 100 times more fun than every soft-core movie I've ever watched on late night cable - plus it features Rene Bond, a sure sign of B-movie fun.

Double Feature & Bride Of Double Feature (Wicked Pictures) Unlike everything else I've mentioned, these are pornos; you know, money shots… butt sex… that kind of thing. So if that kind of thing bothers you, do not rent these movies! On the other hand, if you like B-movies and porn you should go rent these movies right now. Obviously, I like the former and as far as the latter - I guess I like it more in theory than practice. If porn actually did feature people that I find attractive having hot sex, I would champion it more. But, generally speaking, it's girls that all look the same with tans and fake boobs giving head to Ron Jeremy; and that is just not that interesting. But I digress. I've seen a bit of porn in my day - in the name of science, of course - and it's rare that I find something I would recommend to anyone. Double Feature and it's equally charming sequel Bride Of Double Feature are pornos I had to watch the first time (I reviewed them) that I would voluntarily watch again.

So there you go. I hope this has illustrated that there's a whole world of film out there that has nothing to do with the new release section at Hollywood Video (I have nothing against new releases - I just hate Hollywood Video!) and plenty of bad-in-a-good-way & good-in-a-bad-way cinema out there just waiting to be appreciated. Dive in!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Blue-faced bloodsuckers and brazen hussies; new this week at the buffet…

Bunny gets a taste of Herschell Gordon Lewis' A Taste Of Blood; while the Kommandant takes in a trashy teen double feature of Alley Tramp & Over 18… And Ready!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Devil hands, drug-crazed teens and Hitler's brain; new this week at the buffet…

Bunny is touched by the atmospheric black and white hand of The Devil's Hand; Peter Santa Maria gets into trouble with a delinquent double feature of Hooked & The Flaming Teen-Age; and The Kommandant is driven mad by Madmen Of Mandoras, aka They Saved Hitler's Brain.

Friday, October 13, 2006

It's Friday October 13th, 2006; do you know where your hockey mask is?

Yes campers, sadly the time has come to close the books on our 2006: The Year Of The 13ths series. But not before we blast off into outer space for one more bloody massacre in the form of the final "official" sequel, Jason X (aka Friday The 13th Part 10).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ass kicking super agents and voodoo loving vampires; new this week at the buffet…

In honor of one of our favorite B-movie heroines, Tamara Dobson, who passed away last week after a long illness, join the Kommandant as he investigates a tale of international intrigue & outrageous fashion, Cleopatra Jones And The Casino Of Gold.

And while you're in a soul sinema mood why not go back to Blacula for the second - and last - entry in the series, Scream, Blacula, Scream.

(Interested parties can find reviews of Cleopatra Jones & Blacula here.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Outlaws versus monsters versus car wrecks; new this week at the buffet…

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago in my Cinderella 2000 review, I really do make an effort to review all of the DVDs people send us. But, guess what? Apparently even I have limits! I seriously could not make it through more than twenty minutes of the movie I was planning to review this week, Jocks. (Starring Mariska Hargitay, aka daughter of Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay; Richard Roundtree, aka Shaft; and Christopher Lee, who has starred in so many movies that he's pretty much just famous for being Christopher Lee at this point.)

Generally speaking, teen sex comedies form the '80s aren't really "our thing" - here at the BMB movies we review that were filmed in the '80s that feature teens having sex also feature said teens dying horrible bloody deaths - but the review pickins have been a little slim lately so I though I'd give it a shot. (I never promised I'd say nice things about these DVDs, after all, I just promised I'd review them.) But the only thing I have to say about this film is - what the fuck kind of teen comedy doesn't have exposed breasts in the first twenty minutes!?! And that in itself, despite being a valid question, isn't enough to make a proper review.

Anywhoo, I bring this all up because it was this experience that led me to tell the Kommandant that he could pick this week's review materials for each of us from the remaining review pile or the "archive." Had I known this would have subsequently led to my third viewing of Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter, perhaps I would have chosen to make my own choice. But I didn't. You can read his thoughts on this, uh, classic here. (Believe it or not I reviewed this film for another site, Candy For Bad Children, a couple years ago; interested parties can read my review here.) For me he decided on the "companion" film William Beaudine made the same year, Billy The Kid Versus Dracula.

As an aside to the above aside - the friend I reference in my JJMFD review is none other than Jukebox Zero, c14 scribe, championship bowler and BMB contributor Peter Santa Maria. I'm not sure why I didn't name him by name in the CFBC review but I thought I'd mention it here. While I'm at it I may as well mention that Peter did get to choose his own DVD for review this week; and he elected to downshift into a hard driving SWV double feature of Speed Lovers & Thunder In Dixie.