Film Review: The Hellcats (1968)

Also known as: Biker Babes
Release Date: May 8th, 1968 (Sweden)
Directed by: Robert F. Slatzer
Written by: Tony Huston, Robert F. Slatzer
Music by: Jerry Roberts
Cast: Ross Hagen, Dee Duffy, Sharyn Kinzie, Del ‘Sonny’ West, Robert F. Slatzer, Tony Lorea, Eric Lidberg, Shannon Summers

Crown International Pictures, 90 Minutes

Review:

“They look as confused by the film as we are.” – Crow T. Robot, Mystery Science Theater 3000

The Hellcats is an exploitation biker flick that came out in the heyday of exploitation biker flicks. While most of these movies are bad, this one’s awfulness is pretty astounding. This was obviously a film made by people who had no business making movies.

To be honest, I’m never really sure what’s happening in this movie half the time. There are biker parties, biker games, biker fights and biker stunts. None of it makes much sense but I guess the highlight is some tough ass biker chicks. But even then, this movie doesn’t, in any way, resemble something one could label as exciting.

I’ve seen uglier pictures but this is still an ugly picture. The camera work and editing are not well done. The direction is nonexistent but maybe they wanted this biker picture to look like pure chaos for authenticity. It’s pretty unauthentic though.

This is a hard flick to watch and it is even harder to sit through this whole thing in one go. Thankfully, it appeared in the second season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the riffing at least makes it enjoyable and much easier to handle.

If you are an MST3K completist, you have to watch this. If you aren’t, don’t bother yourself with this sack of crap.

So let me fire up the Cinespiria Shitometer to see where this ranks amongst all the other awful dreck I’ve watched. Aha! This movie is a “Type 1 Stool: Separate hard lumps, like nuts (hard to pass)”.

Film Review: Superdome (1978)

Release Date: January 9th, 1978
Directed by: Jerry Jameson
Written by: Barry Oringer, Bill Svanoe
Music by: John Cacavas
Cast: David Janssen, Edie Adams, Ken Howard, Clifton Davis, Peter Haskell, Susan Howard, Van Johnson, Donna Mills, Tom Selleck, Michael Pataki, M. Emmet Walsh, Vonetta McGee, Bubba Smith, Ed Nelson, Dick Butkus

ABC, 97 Minutes

Review:

This appeared in the first season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, before the show went national. Maybe they never featured it once they went to cable because it was a film so bad that they couldn’t handle sitting through it twice. I really couldn’t handle sitting through it once.

I watched this movie and I really have no idea what the hell was going on in it. There was some plot about a killer, a football veteran with a bum knee, a young quarterback trying to make a name for himself and a really young hot girl swooning over some old fart. And while IMDb categorizes this as a sports movie, it doesn’t feature any sports moments, just people talking about sports as it leads up to the Superbowl. When the Superbowl begins, the film ends.

Superdome is awful. In fact, “awful” isn’t the right word, it just doesn’t have the weight or the meaning I am looking for.

For a movie that takes place in New Orleans, the capital of fun in the American South, it was bland, boring and felt like medieval torture.

I’ve been to New Orleans multiple times, it is a magical place. In fact, you’d have to try damn hard to make a movie in New Orleans and make it an uneventful bore with absolutely no style. I’d be less bored watching a lab rat in a computer class try to write code with C++ for two hours.

Seriously, this film was so damn boring and bogged down with thirteen dozen characters and ninety-three subplots that it was impossible to know what the hell was happening from scene to scene. I mean, at least Bubba Smith and Dick Butkus showed up and tried their best but it was obvious that they were bored too.

Superdome should have been titled Superbore or Superdumb. Either of those would have been more fitting. Besides, this is a slap in the face to the people of New Orleans, the New Orleans Saints, the actual Superdome, the NFL, the entire sport of football and America. The NFL doesn’t need Hollywood’s help in trying to destroy its image, they are doing just fine.

And you bet your ass that this is going into the Cinespiria Shitometer! The results read, “Type 6 Stool: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool.”

 

Film Review: The Giant Spider Invasion (1975)

Release Date: October 24th, 1975
Directed by: Bill Rebane
Written by: Robert Easton, Richard L. Huff
Music by: Bill Rebane
Cast: Steve Brodie, Robert Easton, Barbara Hale, Alan Hale Jr., Leslie Parrish, Bill Williams, Christiane Schmidtmer

Group 1 International, 84 Minutes

Review:

Who doesn’t want to see the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island battle a giant spider? Okay, that is probably a scenario that no one ever imagined but that is exactly what you get with The Giant Spider Invasion.

To be honest and blunt, this film is absolutely atrocious. It is mind-numbingly horrendous. There is nothing about it that makes it even a worthwhile experience in any regard.

Well, okay… it is featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, which at the very least, makes it watchable. Also, it does feature the Skipper himself, Alan Hale Jr. Plus, the effects are so damn bad that they have to be seen to be believed and they are the type of bad that can be truly admired.

The giant spider literally looks like a Halloween parade float with big fuzzy arms that aimlessly wobble as it moves. There is no real controlled articulation of the monster, at least none that I can tell. When it reaches into houses to grab scantily clad women, its legs look like the trunk of Sesame Street‘s Mr. Snuffleupagus, which the crew of MST3K pointed out.

The effects of the spider-carrying asteroid hitting Earth are laughably bad. It looks like the world’s shortest but most explosive LSD trip. Then it is over and you’re still left with an awful movie.

Bad acting, bad direction, bad cinematography, bad dialogue, bad creature effects, bad asteroid effects; really just a pile of arachno-pooh.

The Giant Spider Invasion is a truly dreadful motion picture.

I have no choice but to run it through the Cinespiria Shitometer. And now that I have, the results show that it is a “Type 4 Stool: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft.” Maybe it’s smooth and soft because of those fluffy Snuffleupagus spider legs.

 

Film Review: Time of the Apes (1987)

Release Date: 1987 (US)
Directed by: Kiyo Sumi Fukazawa, Atsuo Okunaka
Written by: Sakyo Komatsu, Kouji Tonaka, Aritsune Toyota, Keiichi Abe
Music by: Toshiaki Tsushima
Cast: Reiko Tokunaga, Hiroko Saito, Masaaki Kaji

King Features Entertainment, Celebrity Home Video, Tsuburaya Productions, King Features Entertainment, 95 Minutes

Review:

Like some of the other strange Japanese films that made it onto Mystery Science Theater 3000, in its early days, Time of the Apes is actually a feature length version of a few episodes of a Japanese tokusatsu television program. It was also created by Tsuburaya Productions like other Japanese MST3K fare. In this film’s case, it is comprised of a few episodes of the 1974 show Saru no Gundan (Army of the Apes).

Also like most of the other American released feature length versions of Japanese tokusatsu properties, the finished product that we got, pales in comparison to the quality of the original content.

What kills these types of releases in the States is atrocious dubbing and clunky editing. The original series, albeit a ripoff of Planet of the Apes, was pretty interesting and engaging. This version, not so much.

It isn’t completely horrible and it is still watchable and enjoyable but compared to episodes I’ve seen with actual Japanese dialogue, the whole tone is ruined. Granted, without releases like this in the 1980s, I might not have developed a love for Japanese tokusatsu outside of Godzilla pictures.

Time of the Apes showcases the first few episodes of Saru no Gundan and also the last few. The show ran for 26 episodes, so the narrative in this version is choppy and disorienting. It features the setup and the conclusion but lacks the true meat of the series.

For its time, its place and the limitations of its production, the effects are still better than decent. It isn’t as captivating as Tsuburaya’s Ultraman franchise but it fits well within their other one-off series, such as Mighty Jack and Star Wolf (a.k.a. Fugitive Alien).

Film Review: King Dinosaur (1955)

Release Date: June 7th, 1955
Directed by: Bert I. Gordon
Written by: Bert I. Gordon, Tom Gries, Al Zimbalist
Music by: Louis Palange, Gene Garf (uncredited)
Cast: William Bryant, Wanda Curtis, Douglas Henderson, Patti Gallagher

Lippert Pictures, 63 Minutes

Review:

Bert I. Gordon was one of the most prolific b-movie sci-fi and horror directors of the 1950s and 1960s. While he isn’t as well known as William Castle, he still put out a lot of pictures at the same time. Unfortunately for Gordon, his films aren’t nearly as good as Castle’s and many of them were actually lampooned on Mystery Science Theater 3000, this being one of those films. He may actually be the director that has the most films riffed on MST3K, as his tally sits at eight… eight!

Gordon had to start somewhere and this is it. King Dinosaur is his first picture, as sole director. He co-directed Serpent Island with Tom Gries a year earlier.

This was not a good start but the film apparently didn’t hurt Gordon, as he continued to direct through the 1980s but none of his later films are really known.

King Dinosaur holds a 1.9 rating on IMDb, which is absolutely abysmal. Is it that bad though? Well, yes.

The picture is incredibly tough to get through, even when watching it on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Some films should be too awful for them to even attempt to make fun of and this should be on that list. It is so boring and horrendous that North Koreans use it to torture South Korean hikers that accidentally cross the border.

There is nothing positive about this film other than its short running time. 63 minutes is still too damn long though. Hell, the trailer below is too damn long.

The movie is a bad mixture of horrendous acting, terrible sound and an overabundance of poorly used stock footage. But at least they used a real snake in a scene, even though it wasn’t exciting or all that suspenseful.

I’d feel bad for Bert I. Gordon but somehow he turned this turd into a long career behind the camera.

Before I end this review, I have to run this rotten turkey through the Cinespiria Shitometer. My trusty machine is a little miffed that I gave it this picture to calculate, however. Oh well, it has one job to do and this is it! Alright, here are the results… King Dinosaur comes out as a “Type 1 Stool: Seperate hard lumps, like nuts (hard to pass).”

Film Review: Jungle Goddess (1948)

Release Date: August 13th, 1948
Directed by: Lewis D. Collins
Written by: Jo Pagano
Music by: Irving Gertz
Cast: George Reeves, Ralph Byrd, Wanda McKay

Screen Guild Productions, Commonwealth Pictures, 62 Minutes

Review:

For a movie that stars Superman and Dick Tracy, this thing is a big letdown!

George Reeves and Ralph Byrd team up alongside Wanda McKay and give us something that’s not really worth anyone’s time. This was featured in the second season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and for good reason: it’s horrible.

The story sees the two men go into the wilderness of Africa to find a rich heiress whose plane went down. When they do find her, she’s leading an African tribe but in reality, wants to escape the jungle and go back home.

The film is bizarre in that it crosses over between a Tiki vibe and a safari vibe. It should be a safari type film due to its location but its seems like the set designers couldn’t tell the difference between an African style and what looked more at home in the South Pacific. Additionally, many of the tribesmen looked like Pacific islanders and dressed that way. At least the heiress had some leopard print on.

Jungle Goddess is a dumb movie. It is painful to watch. I can’t imagine anyone even finding this remotely entertaining in 1948.

The film is a train wreck of bad editing and stock footage that doesn’t match up. It is topped off with over the top acting and a horrendous script.

When run through the Cinespiria Shitometer this comes out as a Type 5 stool, which is defined as “Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (passed easily).”

*I couldn’t find a trailer, just the MST3K version of the film.

Film Review: Devil Doll (1964)

Release Date: September, 1964
Directed by: Lindsay Shonteff
Written by: Ronald Kinnoch, Frederick E. Smith
Cast: Bryant Haliday, William Sylvester, Yvonne Romain

Associated Film Distributing Corp., 81 Minutes

Review:

Devil Doll is a bad movie.

However, it is still entertaining and kind of unintentionally hysterical in certain parts. Those parts make the film endearing and overall, the picture is pretty cool.

It isn’t well made and the acting is not great. The direction did nothing to steer this ship in a good direction from a quality standpoint but for whatever reason, the picture resonates for gluttons of cheese, such as myself, due to its strange hokiness.

The title character, the “devil doll” Hugo, is a cool monster. Sure, he’s not a traditional beast but he is certainly a prototype of the infinitely more famous Chucky from the Child’s Play film series.

Hugo is a ventriloquist dummy but he is possessed by evil. He talks and walks around during stage shows, even when the ventriloquist “The Great Vorelli” is across the room. This impresses audiences but is also baffling, as no one understands how it is possible.

The scenes where Hugo stalks his prey are played by a person in a costume made to look like the dummy. It’s a bizarre and unsettling sight but also cheesily magnificent.

A notable thing about this film is that it stars some people who would go on to do some great things.

“The Great Vorelli” is played by Bryant Haliday, who would go on to establish Janus Films, a distribution company that introduced several films now considered masterpieces and classics. Also, they are closely related to the Criterion Collection.

The film also stars William Sylvester and Alan Gifford, who would both appear four years later in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sylvester was the original Dr. Heywood Floyd (later the star of 2010: The Year We Make Contact where he was then played by Roy Scheider).

The best version of this film to watch is the riffed version that appeared as an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Bryant Haliday would also be featured in another MST3K episode when they riffed another one of his movies, The Projected Man.