Saturday, November 15, 2008

KESTER'S 13 ESSENTIAL BAD MOVIES

There are a lot of nice movie lists to be found on the net. So why another one? I could say it's because any "essential" viewing list should try to cover all the major genres, or at least cover those movies that were most influential in the genre and most often cloned, not merely one persons personal likes or dislikes. That my list does that by being more than merely a "worst of the worst" list by looking for movies with spirit that have become unintentional meditations on awful cinema. Yeah, sure, what a bunch of pretentious twaddle! The truth is the lists got me to thinking which of the movies I've seen (can't recommend moves you've never seen) would make my list if I put one together. So, without further adieu, the 13 "bad" movies I would recommend as essential viewing include. . .






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Some Links below may lead to NWS material. Click at your own risk!

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1. STAR CRYSTAL - This movie is a confused mess that attempts to graft an sappy E.T. ending onto the bloated corpse of an knock-off of an ALIEN clone. That's right this movie attempts to emulate the formulae of other ALIEN clones and bungles the job! The dialogue is insufferable and the acting leaden. A must see for all film critics and wouldbe filmmakers, if only so you can recognize a truly bad movie when you see it! Pair with any of the following for a fun filled night of double feature madness: CREATURE, GALAXY OF TERROR, FORBIDDEN WORLD, or INSEMINOID. (see the Alien Clones category in Ye Olde Cosmic Cinema Shop for purchasing information.)

2. HYBRID - Seeking refuge from an ion-storm a group of post-apocalypse survivors stumble upon an abandoned research facility and take refuge within. However after a shower and some food the group discovers the shelter isn't quite as abandoned as it first appeared. This post-apocalyptic thriller from director Fred Olen Ray, while less of a mess than STAR CRYSTAL, is just as confused. A virtual scene-for-scene remake of CREEPOZOIDS, only done with a more style and a flair for the absurd. Pair with any of the following for an atomic blast of mind-numbing double feature fun: RATS - NIGHT OF TERROR, CREEPOZOIDS, THE TERROR WITHIN, RESIDENT EVIL - EXTINCTION.

3. SPACE THING - The 50s and 60s produced some of the more unusual alien invasion films yet, compared to THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE or QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE, SPACE THING is a freak show. You wont believe your eyes as unpainted Testor models of the Enterprise and an U.F.O. from that 60s era TV show you almost remember appear on your screen. You'll laugh at the opening voice over narration. You'll marvel at the Ed Woodian production levels. You'll cringe in disbelief as the actresses disrobe leaving you wondering why Kester didn't warn you this movie had nudity as your family and friends pummel you with popcorn! Pair with NUDE ON THE MOON, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF PREHISTORIC WOMEN, or WHAM BAM THANK YOU SPACE MAN and feel your brain turn to mush inside your head.

4. BURIAL OF THE RATS - Starring Adrienne Barbeau in a role you have to see to believe this light on plot schlock fest, set in 19th Century France, comes with a healthy dose of scantily clad females. As the movie opens a young and impressionable Bram Stoker runs afoul of a murderous subterranean cult of rat worshipping highwaywomen. Before you know it he's a captive of their queen and forced to write for her. Pair with movies like TOBE HOOPER'S NIGHT TERRORS or FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA'S DRACULA.

5. CONQUEST - You've never seen a fantasy movie like this! CONQUEST IS Lucio Fulci's slipstream dark fantasy sword-and-sorcery epic about a nunchuck wielding hero with the moral sensibilities of Deathstalker and the gruff live and let die barbarian attitude of Howard's Conan wandering aimlessly through a world that exists in a parallel prehistoric dimension where shambling swamp zombies lurk in the muck waiting to attack unwary passersby and cannibal dog-headed humanoids roam the land terrorizing tribes of mud covered cavemen; and there's even gore. Pair with any of the DEATHSTALKER movies, HUNDRA, SORCERESS (1982), or BARBARIAN QUEEN.

6. FRANKENSTEIN'S CASTLE OF FREAKS - Here is a fantastically absurd Italian produced mad-scientist exploitation opus that has a carnivorous Neanderthal, a demented dwarf, a mad scientist, antique bathtubs, peeping toms, late night lover rendezvous, suits of armor, girls frolicking in caverns with hot springs, and, of course, Frankenstein's monster. About the only thing missing is coherence. A tad sleazy but otherwise tolerable. Pair with LADY FRANKENSTEIN, COUNT DRACULA'S GREAT LOVE, COUNTESS DRACULA, or FRANKENSTEIN VS. THE CREATURE FROM BLOOD COVE for a sleazy good time.

7. HELLRAISER: BLOODLINE - An often maligned sequel that manages to be a thought provoking epic that crosses the boundaries of past, present, and future to create a self contained story that encapsulates the history of the box (this is not a movie about Pinhead) from it's creation to it's destruction. While the Cenobites may be relegated to the background they remain central to this otherwise self contained story. Not recommended for those seeking mindless gore or violence. Pair with LEPRECHAUN 4: IN SPACE, PROJECT SHADOWCHASER 3000, EVENT HORIZON, or JASON X for a interesting bad movie experience.

8. ZOMBIE LAKE - Here's another often maligned movie, and unjustly so, for despite what some would have you believe this is NOT the worse zombie movie ever made. Rather it's a strange tale of World War II Nazi soldiers turned vicious lust crazed aqua-Nazi zombies hungering for the nubile young flesh of skinny dippers. Pair with OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES, SHOCKWAVES, or any of the Ilsa movies for a truly jaw dropping cinema experience.

9. THE INVISIBLE MANIAC - H.G. Wells' INVISIBLE MAN is a timeless classic that has been adapted for the stage, made into movies, used as the basis for numerous television series, and even served as the muse for Milo Manarra's BUTTERSCOTCH comicbook series. Thus it would be remise of any essential movies list not to include an invisible man themed movie. THE INVISIBLE MANIAC is seriously off the wall. The acting is bad, there's lots of lame jokes, guys spying on girls as they shower, and of course the titular maniac running amuck and terrorizing the kids. Pair with SLAVE GIRLS FROM BEYOND INFINITY, PRIVATE LESSONS, PARADISE, or PRIVATE SCHOOL for an night of absurd bad movie fun. If you're feeling daring, or just a bit randy, you might even consider making this a hot double feature night with THE EROTIC MISADVENTURES OF THE INVISIBLE MAN.

10. THE VAMPIRE HAPPENING - There's actually more bad vampire movies than good one's so this was not an easy choice. In the end I settled for this because it's a comedy-spoof in the vein of FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS, only not nearly as good. A product of psychadelic seventies this flick is witch's cauldron bubbling over with strangeness. You just have to experience it for yourself. Pair with FANGS OF THE LIVING DEAD, FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS, or BORDELLO OF BLOOD.

11. YOUNG DOCTOR'S IN LOVE - Here's another spoof-comedy, this time of medical dramas, and it's pretty hit or miss. Either it'll hit your funny bone, thus causing you a great deal of hurt, or it wont. What makes this noteworthy is the cast. A lot of the actors in this went on to greater fame and infamy. A clich├ęd mash up best paired with a dry aperitif like DRACULA DEAD AND LOVING IT, AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON, or, for the less refined palate, perhaps a more recent vintage such as MEET THE SPARTANS or NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE.

12. TRANSYLVANIA 6-5000 - When is a horror movie not a horror movie? When it is a farce. And you can take that however you want. I remember this being a lot funnier when I originally saw it, a thousand years ago in my youth, which sums up the movie in a nutshell. A movie made by and for juvenile minds that possesses a banal immaturity that older audiences may not fully appreciate. Worth seeing only for the cast, which includes Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, and Ed Begley Jr. Watch with BEETLEJUICE or YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN to avoid brain rot.

13. WAR GODDESS - While neither a spoof or straight comedy this sword-and-sandal Amazon exploitation epic has moments of hilarity that make it a must see. Here's a movie that had a budget, a effective director, and a goodly assortment of veteran European actors yet somehow manages to be one of the more unusual entries in the medium budget sword-and-sandal genre. WAR GODDESS is a historical epic, about Amazons, that also happens to be a classic exploitation flick. For a entertaining themed bad movie night pair with BATTLE OF THE AMAZONS, AMAZONS (1986), THOR AND THE AMAZON WOMEN, or THE ARENA.

For ordering information for the above listed titles please visit our Ye Olde Cosmic Cinema aShop.

Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

Monday, November 3, 2008

Battle Planet

The Movie: Battle Planet


Year: 2008

Format Viewed: Satellite Broadcast

Official Site URL: http://www.battleplanetmovie.com/index.html

Premise: Soldier crashes on a desolate planet and becomes "locked" in a experimental survival suit with it's talkative A.I. as his only companion. Or is it?

Honest, that's the premise. It may not sound like much but it has the advantage of being simple, straightforward, and befitting the genre. I can earnestly say that this was a movie actually worthy of being on a network called the Sci-Fi Channel. And the look. .

Very nice. Sadly that level of set and CGI integration wasn't maintained throughout as the action, in typical low budget fashion, quickly shifts to a "planet" that conveniently looks like remote Californian countryside seen through post production generated filter effects similar to those used in Space: Above and Beyond. Also betraying the production's borderline shoestring budget were the costumes. While okay they looked like standard issue off-the-rack generic "Space Marine" . .

Of interest were the uniform I.D. badges. They were reminiscent of the I.D. badges worn by officers in the short lived Space Rangers TV series. .


The Reality: It's a guy in a high end Halloween "combat space suit" talking to himself. And, yes, that's just as mind-numbingly tedious to watch as it sounds.

The Story: Soldier is sent on top secret mission. Soldier crashes on desolate planet that turns out to be not so desolate. Soldier encounters hostile terrain, hostile critters, hostile aboriginals, and a few other hostile plot twists. Soldier struggles for survival until audience either loses interest, falls asleep, or changes the channel.

Assessment/ Verdict: This was the Sci-Fi channel's premiere movie for Sunday, November 2, yet they aired no promos during the week prior that I ever saw. So imagine my surprise when I tuned in to discover that their Sci-Fi original movie for this week, Battle Planet, was a Outer Limits style sci-fi story! Granted it was a bit sluggish and stretched a premise better suited to an hour out to feature length, but it was actually 100% science fiction. Alas the title is rather weak and doesn't really reflect the story. The silver lining? The delectable Brea Grant from Heroes has a cameo role. .

The make-up is also rather good. .

Actually, for a Sci-Fi original movie, the quality of the cosmetic appliances and make-up were astounding. .

And, not to be flippant, but there's not a Baldwin brother in sight. That alone marks this as something other than the usual bargain basement horror-fantasy CGI crapfests sciffy usually airs. Another point in Battle Planet's favor are the production values seen early on. They were reminiscent of Babylon 5 (original movie pilot) era CGI and sets. .

Overall I enjoyed the retro aesthetics. Alas the dialogue was so-so and the pacing could have been better. Nor did it help that the commercials seemed to drag on for ever. Despite these minor annoyances Battle Planet had the feel of a well thought out Outer Limits episode turned into a feature length film. If the back story were developed further this easily could have been a pilot movie for a TV series. The more that characters talked the more it became evident there was a very well developed background story. Alas the audience never really gets clued in. There's talk of an "Alliance" and some sort of conflict, which is quickly forgotten as we spend most of the movie watching this guy wig out in a survival suit. Not exactly gripping cinema.

I'd thus rank Battle Planet just below Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. It would be interesting to see the back story retooled, expanded, and turned into a regular series. Battle Planet is okay to watch if you're bored and nothing else is on alas the premise probably wont maintain any but the most hardcore sci-fi audience's interest for the full run time.

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Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Legend of the Seeker

I knew this was coming. I was looking forward to it with equal portions of trepidation and worry, mostly because Terry Goodkind is the sort of author that you either love or hate. Wizard's First Rule, the first book in this series, was the first book I ever threw across a room in disgust. And, yes, it was due to the S&M digressions between a certain Mord-Sith and her captive. But I got over it and finished the novel. And, really, that an author can move you to feel anything is worthy of kudos. No one will ever criticize Terry Goodkind for being bland and boring. But it takes nerves of steel to put up with some of his digressions. Yet. . .

In the first minute Legend of the Seeker was on I was shaking my head and asking myself what the BLEEP was going on as the departures from the novel were already grotesquely obvious. But, wanting to give the writers, directors, and producers the benefit of the doubt I kept watching. After all sometimes you have to make minor alterations and slight adaptations for the big and/or small screen. At least that was what I hoped was going on here.

Alas what I saw over the next half an hour so disgusted and appalled me I almost stopped watching. Only almost because I actually started to get angry. Angry not merely for the appalling travesty of this "series" but angry for the mangling of the author's, Terry Goodkind's, work. And considering that I gave up on this particular novel series because Mr. Goodkind's penchant for traipsing through meandering philosophical monologues got so annoying I actually packed the books up, ostensibly to unload them at some future garage sale- yet here I am writing about an TV series based on his books- that should tell you just how much this "adaptation" got under my skin.

Yes, I gave up on the book series, but I stuck with it up through Chainfire. Phantom left me cold and I never finished it. Even so I liked the early novels and continue to remember them fondly. Alas this, this. . .

This "Legend of the Seeker" is NOT based on Terry Goodkind's novel series in any way, shape, fashion, or form. I refuse to admit any connection between this abortion and Wizard's First Rule. Worse, this is a gross bit of blatant plagiarism. The two key works being ripped off are STAR WARS and, shockingly, the BIBLE; specifically the story of Herod and the slaying of the first born (Mt 2:16). This occurs when Zedd is revealing the truth to Richard of who he is and where he came from, and I quote:

Kahlen: "Tell him who he is."

Zedd: " First you need to know about a man named Darken Rahl- if he is a man and not some twisted wraith of evil brought forth from the underworld to shatter the dreams of human kind. Thirty-three years ago a great prophet spoke on his death bed of the birth of a true Seeker. A child whose destiny would be to seek out and destroy the greatest evil of all; Darken Rahl. With his last breath the prophet named the town in which the child had been born. Rahl sent his assasins and, in one night, they murdered every first born son in Brenaden (?); save one."

As if that isn't disturbing enough there's so many plot points blatantly stolen from Star Wars that it makes my brain hurt just thinking about them. But first some background. .

In the novel Wizard's First Rule we meet Richard Cipher, a woods guide living in Hartland, right after the mysterious murder of his father. Richard is tracking near the barrier boundary where, among other things, he spots a woman walking apace through Ven Forest. As if that isn't unusual enough this mystery woman is being followed by four cloaked men. For those who know those men are a quad (assassins) and the woman is Kahlan (the last Mother Confessor) and the barrier, well, we'll get to that later.

So far this is a simple and straightforward setup, right? No need to "adapt" or "re-envision" what's already been written, right? Yeah that's what I thought too until Legend of the Seeker came on my television screen.

Legend of the Seeker's first scene opened with heavily armored soldiers on horseback chasing two women, also on horseback. One is wearing white so those of us in the know will rightly assume this is the Mother Confessor. But who is this other woman? Before we really get to formulate that question or ponder what's going on she is shot in the back with an arrow and pushing a book into Kahlan's hands urging her to find the seeker.

So what's wrong with that? Nothing, aside from the fact it bears no resemblance to the actual story as written by Terry Goodkind. This, and what follows, is not an adaptation of Wizard's First Rule. Rather this is a reworking of episode four of Star Wars. Viz. --

Star Wars: Luke is living with an aunt and uncle that raised him since he was taken to them, as a babe, by Obi Wan Kinobi; a Jedi in-hiding living as a hermit.

Legend of the Seeker: Richard is living with an father (his wife is dead) who raised him since he was taken to them, as a babe, by Zedd; a wizard in-hiding living as a hermit.

SW: Luke is ignorant of the truth about "old ben", a truth that is revealed after a princess comes looking for him.

LOS: Richard is ignorant of the truth about "old Zedd", a truth that is revealed after a Mother Confessor comes looking for him.

SW: Ben gives Luke a mystical light saber he's been waiting to give him until the right moment in the hope Luke will become a Jedi Knight.

LOS: Zedd gives Richard a magical sword he's been waiting to give him until the right moment in the hope Richard will to become The Seeker.

SW: Luke rushes home to find his adoptive parents killed, whereupon he gets really angry and decides to fight the evil power by becoming a Jedi Knight.

LOS: Richard rushes home to find his adoptive parent killed, whereupon he gets really angry and decides to fight the evil power by becoming The Seeker.

Those are just some of the more glaring points of similarity. There are a few departures, such as Richard's background, which as previously mentioned is shamelessly lifted from the New Testament. And that I just can't let go of. I mean how pathetic a writer do you have to be to not only rip-off basic plot points from an iconic science fiction movie but to also decide, what the hell, let's steal from the bible too! Yeah, sure, it's technically a public domain work but. . . UGH!
Maybe it's just me but I really don't understand what the difficulty is in taking a book and using it as an guide to write a screenplay. I'm pretty sure Mr. Goodkind probably has the full text of his novels available in a easy to access text file, if you ask kindly. Alas the writer apparently was more interested in writing a lowbrow fan fiction reworking of Star Wars with bits and pieces of the Bible thrown in for no real logical reason other than, apparently, they could do it because no one involved with this production read Terry Goodkind's books. Or maybe they did and they hate the author and decided to buy the rights to his novel series, kill it, then rape it's mutilated corpse. I feel soiled for having watched any part of this wretchedly blasphemous garbage.

That's it I can write no more. It's still on as I type this and it's a mess. My sympathies to Terry Goodkind. I knew these novels would be difficult to adapt due to their themes but this is just insulting.
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© C. Demetrius Morgan