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attack of the puppet peopleAmerican International Pictures

Mr. Franz is a kindly, old, silver-haired doll-maker…who turns people into living puppets! He forces his human inventions to put on parties and sing to him, but one day, tired of being toyed with, the puppets launch an attack, and suddenly Mr. Franz finds he’d better stop playing–and start praying–because these miniature moppets are hell-bent on revenge!

Okay, so, I wonder who wrote that back cover blurb on the DVD this movie is on. Did they even watch the movie when they were tasked to write out the description for use to draw people into watching this “amazing triumph of special effects” (also on the back cover blurb, but that part was superfluous to the review, here0, accuracy be darned to heck? I envy not their task; I doubt that any kind of hyperbole would have been sufficient to cover the fact that this is a movie that features no actual attacks from the titular puppet people. But, I’m getting ahead of myself, here.

Attack Of The Puppet People was a movie that was made by one of the more prominent names in B-Movie horror and sci-fi back in the 50s and 60s: Bert Gordon. He’s tied to the likes of The Amazing Colossal Man, The Beginning Of The End, and another movie I need to get around to reviewing, Village Of The Giants. Yeah, he seems to have a thing for big/small type special effects-laden movies.

Anyway, Attack Of The Puppet People involves the classic story of lonely widower doll maker who plies his trade by, shall we say, unconventional ways. By that, I mean he has a shrink ray, and he turns people and their various accessories fun-sized. it’s the same kind of technology Willy Wonka pioneered in making his T. V. Chocolate bars. As you may have guessed, he has a rather high turnover rate in secretaries for his business, because he has this habit of shrinking them for his collection. His best friend runs a marionette puppet theater, and he at the last part of the movie lends his living doll people for him to use in one of the shows, so that’s probably where the title of the movie comes from. Meantime, he enjoys making his living doll collection throw little parties and sing for him…songs about dolls, of course.

Here’s the thing, though. The movie doesn’t live up to the promise of the title, let alone that boisterous descriptive that was slapped on the back of the DVD release, there. I’m going to spoil this for you, here: There is no attack. The big climax is actually the tiny people distract him long enough to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow or whatever on the shrink ray to get back to actual size…and then they just leave while the old man begs them not to go and leave him all alone. The end.

No, I don’t think I was expecting too much from the movie. The title is Attack Of The Puppet People. I don’t care if they were technically doll-sized people; there was no attack. No sir, I hadn’t this kind of disappointed in false promises since I went to a “Rock Marathon” at the local mall as a kid, only to discover it was a bunch of college students rocking in rocking chairs as a fund raiser. There was carnage that day, let me tell you. I won’t be watching Attack Of The Puppet People again any time soon.

Movie Review: The GALAXY INVADER

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galaxy invaderMoviecraft Entertainment

“What’s dad gonna go huntin’ for, mom?”
“Let’s play Scrabble!”
“I hate that game.”

A drunken redneck encounters a newly arrived visitor from space while wandering in the woods. He recruits a whole gang of rednecks from the local pool hall, and they charge off into the woods to capture the creature. A college professor and one of his students are the only ones sympathetic to the plight of the Galaxy Invader, and they must match wits, if that is the word, with this army of backwoods slobs in order to keep the alien from being taken prisoner.

One of my favorite episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 was the Pod People episode. If you haven’t seen that particular classic, stop reading this now and go watch it. Go ahead, I can wait.

Finished? Good. Now, you may have noticed at the beginning and end credits of the movie itself, there were clips of a movie that had nothing to do with the actual movie itself. For years, I kept trying to find that particular movie, if it did indeed exist. Well, it does. It’s called The Galaxy Invader, and hoo boy, am I glad I found this.

An obscure low-budget direct-to-video sci-fi flick it’s easy to see how this escaped my attention back in the day. I don’t recall ever seeing it at the Applause Video where my family rented our movies (it would be another 10 years before Fremont would get an actual Blockbuster); I certainly never saw a copy for sale at any of the department stores. Just as well; something tells me I wouldn’t have appreciated such a momentous cheeseball like I do now.

Wow, where to begin with this movie? How about the main antagonist, the redneck Dad who’s always drinking, yelling at everybody for no apparent reason, threatening violence against his family at the very slightest provocation, all the while wearing a dirty white t shirt with a giant hole torn in the middle of it. Classy. Or how about the unintentionally hilarious dialogue, like the exchanged I decided to use as the quote up top of this review? Yeah, I had to pause the movie to let sink in that I just heard that exchange. Or the slapdash nature of the plot. Or, perhaps the alien costume that seems to be a cast-off reject from the Creature From The Black Lagoon set. The dime store special effects. Or that ending that really wants to get the feels out of you, but just ends up cheesy.

Whichever way you slice it, Galaxy Invader is amazingly bad, the kind of movie that you really want to watch with several of your friends just to take the brunt of the intensity of the cheese factor. If you do, you might want to get sufficient amounts of adult beverages and/or pain killers. Also, watch this on the RiffTrax edition to lessen the pain.

Movie Review: DEADLY PREY

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deadly preyAction International Pictures

“I like being on the winning side. It’s a lot healthier.”

Recently, while house- and pet-sitting for my sister’s family, I decided to spend my holiday binging on as many bad action, horror and sci-fi movies from the 1980s as my brain could handle. I really don’t recommend doing this for any novice reading this; I am a well-seasoned, professionally trained idiot, after all.

One of the cluster of free-to-stream movies was Deadly Prey, an obscure low-budget action flick from 1987 that I chose solely by that poster art. I mean, look at it. Those rippling mussels, those cut-off shorts that can barely contain anything, and that sweet, sweet mullet. That had “cheese-fest plastered all over it. And boy, oh boy, Deadly Prey did not disappoint in that arena.

Apparently one of the first movies produced by low-budget movie house Action International Pictures, Deadly Prey really hits all the points that make for some prime cheesy movie watchin’ enjoyment. But, I’m getting ahead of myself, here…

The sadistic and psychopathic Colonel Hogan is a mercenary for hire who finds a benefactor in Don Michaelson, a ruthless businessman in need of skilled killers for a special assignment. It’s a win-win for both sides. Michaelson will finance Hogan’s training camp and Hogan will use his trained mercenaries to help out Michaelson. Hogan has the manpower. What he doesn’t have is the prey to hunt in preparation for the big day. His solution: troll the streets of Los Angeles and randomly abduct people. What Hogan didn’t count on was that one of those people would be Mike Danton, a Marine with killer skills, who doesn’t take too kindly to being kidnapped. Hogan, Michaelson and the mercenaries are in for a world of pain…

Where do I begin with this movie? The late-80s mullets and fashions? All the action posing? The fact that Ted Prior (who plays protagonist Mike Danton) spends the majority of the movie clad in only a pair of barely contained cutoff denim shorts? And I haven’t gotten to the derivative script, the shoestring effects, the “acting” and confusing pacing issues.

Which is to say, Deadly Prey is awesomely bad and should be watched by everyone. Preferably in a group with lots of libations and sarcasm.

Movie Review: SAMURAI COP

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samurai copCinema Epoch

“Why did you go under?”
“Because I’m an undercover cop.”

In case you’re wondering, yes…it was the title of this movie alone that sunk its hooks into me and made me watch this exercise in bad cinema. Fortunately, the level of cheeseball this manages to attain is amazing.

The Katana Gang is out of control in Los Angeles. They’re involved in everything from gambling and extortion to drugs. They’ve bullied their way to the top of the underworld through their unmatched brutality. The police are stymied in their efforts to take the Japanese mob down. The Yakuza’s code of silence is unbreakable and the police can’t bring any charges against them. So they’ve brought in an expert. Joe Marshal, nicknamed “The Samurai”, is an expert in Japanese culture and martial arts and if it takes a blood drenched street brawl to bring the mobsters to their knees, then Samurai Joe is ready to RUMBLE!

Samurai Cop is, in a word, amazeballs. It tries to be a Lethal Weapon-style buddy cop movie with a martial arts angle — predating Rush Hour by seven years. But, by shear incompetence and unintentional hilarity levels alone, Samurai Cop manages to become that kind of action movie that’s entertaining for all the wrong reasons. From the bug-eyed overacting from the lead actor, to the groan-worthy dialogue, to the hilarious martial arts action scenes, and using a wig at one point due to miscommunication with the lead actor…Samurai Cop must be seen to be believed. This is truly a So Bad It’s Good gem, people.


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santa claus conquers the martiansEmbassy Pictures

“Well, when Voldar ‘accidentally’ left us in the airlock and then came up here and ‘accidentally’ threw the door switch, we knew we had to get out of there in a hurry or that would be the end of us. Eh, uh, ‘accidentally’, of course.”

The first time I watched this classic hilarious-for-all-the-wrong-reasons bit of Holiday Sci-Fi cheese was by way of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode roasting this chestnut. Didn’t matter that it was the middle of summer, or that it was late at night; I was marveling at the sheer awfulness of this movie, and constantly doubled over in laughter from the constant barrage of barbs being slung at this from the MST3K crew.

That was then. And now, nearly twenty years after happening upon that particular episode, I now own the original movie sans the color commentary alongside the MST3K episode. And as many fans of this particular brand of bad movies understand, it’s a holiday tradition that gets shown every year in the annual Christmas movie list.

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians is so deliciously bad: the ridiculous premise, the thin story, the cheap costumes and sets (this movie is famous for using Wham-O! brand air popper guns for “freeze rays”, and perhaps the worst guy-in-a-polar-bear-suit and cardboard robot I’ve seen this side of The Forbidden Planet), the groan-inducing acting (also featuring the debut of a young Piza Dora), and a theme song that is incredibly annoying yet will become lodged inside your skull. In a certain way, Santa Claus Conquers The Martians is the perfect metaphor for the Holiday season, really: you know what you’re experiencing is shoddy and bad, but you can’t help but enjoy yourself despite the goings on. I can’t be the only curmudgeon this time of the year.

Regardless of your take, you owe it to yourself to watch Santa Claus Conquers The Martians at least once. I would recommend the MST3K edition for you newbies out there. For those of us seasoned veterans out there, you know the drill: Grab your friends, keep the eggnog flowing, and sing along with me- “Hor-ray for SAN-TEE-CLAUS!”

Movie Review: The APE

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ape, theMonogram Pictures

“I don’t like things I can’t understand.”

The Ape is one of those old-timey B-Movies that were included on the 50 Horror Movies pack I picked up a little over a decade ago, and am still working my way through. These were comprised mostly of Public Domain films, which I dig on, because of both my love of kitschy cheese movies from the past, and sometimes you stumble upon a charming classic in the process.

The Ape falls under the former category, here.

Released in 1940 and staring Boris Karloff as a kindly yet a bit excentric doctor of medicine, The Ape clocks in at just over an hour in length. Technically not movie length, but just right for what it is.

Anyway, The Ape tells the tale of a medical doctor who is working on a way to cure a local town lady’s polio and get her to walk again. The formula he’s working on calls for spinal fluid to work; of course, everyone in town thinks the doctor is strange and ostracizes him, so there aren’t any willing donors around to help. However, an ape escapes from the nearby circus, and begins a reign of terror in the town. Soon, the ape breaks into the doctor’s laboratory, and in the ensuing fight is killed by the doctor, who then decides to skin the ape and use it as a disguise to essentially murder townspeople to harvest their sweet, sweet spinal fluid to cure the young lady. It goes about as well as you would expect.

Accordingly, The Ape was loosely base on a play made in 1924, in that the only element kept from the play was the disguising as an ape part. Otherwise, the rest of the plot was a product of the writer’s imagination. As a movie in and of itself, really the only thing keeping me from regulating The Ape to a “pass on this” verdict is Boris Karloff, who was an actor who could lend gravitas to an Elementary School play. The drama behind the townsfolk not liking the doctor seems like a forced issue, as it’s never really established why he’s disliked to begin with, beyond the standard “small town yokel” stereotyping. Fortunately, it’s only an hour long, and not too much of a slog to sit through. Definitely watch this if you’re something of a Karloff enthusiast, otherwise this is more of something you’d find on an obscure cable channel some weekend afternoon after a nap.


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attack of the killer tomatoesNAI Entertainment

“We have convince the little housewife out there that the tomato that ate the family pet is not dangerous!”


For years, I’ve been seeking out this particular no-budget ultra cheese fest that is Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes!. Ever since spying the old VHS cover at the local Applause Video store back in the 1980s, and repeatedly being denied a rental by the parents (despite the PG rating). Yeah, I had an interesting childhood, there. Anyway, that title stuck in my head for years, kept fresh–no pun intended–with spinoff sequels and a short-lived cartoon series. I even watched the first sequel, Return Of The Killer Tomatoes, a few years ago on Netflix. But it was the original ultra low-budget horror/sci-fi/comedy/musical from 1978 that was my holy grail, the one I wanted to watch, simply out of sheer morbid curiosity. Finally, it was recently that I was able to watch this elusive flick by way of Amazon streaming. So, I giddily settled down and prepared for the worst.

I have to admit, even I was barely prepared for what transpired. Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes! is a level of bad that will leave you wide-eyed and jaw-agape with trying to decipher what just happened.

The story involves a sudden uprising of attacks made by tomatoes. It’s right there in the title. As the American government tries to calm down a panicking citizenry, a team of specialists is put together to stop the tomato uprising. The plot thins as they try to infiltrate the tomato hordes, and uncover a conspiracy behind everything that’s happening. There’s also a news reporter hounding the crack team. Nothing seems to stop these tomatoes…nothing, except a certain hit pop song that is so terrible, even the sheet music will cause them to give up and die.

Watching this movie was almost a spiritual experience. Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes is a bad movie. And it knows that, and gives zero cares anyway. The acting is bad, the jokes are cringe-worthy, the songs even more so, and the editing and story will confuse you more often than not. When the end credits roll, you will be left with more questions than you came in with, along with a strange tingly sensation that is the signal that your brain gave up partway through and started playing Minecraft over in the corner while you inexplicably continued to watch it to the end. In short, Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes is so bad, everyone needs to watch it. Behold, the epitome of so-bad-its-good cinema. Throw it on some night with friends, along with various tomato-themed items for the full effect. You’re welcome.

Movie Review: MANOS: The Hands Of Fate

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manos the hands of fateMill Creek Entertainment

“I am Torgo. I take care of the place while the Master is away.”

Everything that can go wrong does on a young couple’s terrifying vacation. Lost and unable to find an inn, they stop at the door of a mysterious house. They are told by the disfigured Togar that the Master does not like visitors, but with no other shelter in sight they decide to spend the night. Their presence ignites the fury of a Devil cult that preys upon their innocence. The family is forced to suffer interminable psychotic rituals. Unrest with the cult provides a chance for escape, but the Master will not free them so easily.

When talking about bad movies, there are certain ones that have achieved legendary status due to just how bad they are. Plan 9 From Outer Space. Trolls 2. Birdemic. The Room. These titles and more, so many have heard about, but few have been brave enough to venture into watching them, for fear of losing whatever tenacious grasp on their sanity they have. I have seen many, but one that I have put off for a very long time was one of the worst ones ever made, the subject of this particular review: Manos, The Hands Of Fate. But finally, my inner Movie-Watchin’ Masochist got me to watch the copy that came in one of those 50 Horror Movies for $20 packs. The horror. The horror. And not the good kind, either.

What we got here is essentially a movie that was made on a bet by a dentist claiming that making a movie was easy enough that even he could do it. So he did. With a local theater troupe, a hand-wound 16mm camera that could only take 32 seconds of footage at a time, and a budget that would make a shoestring seem like blockbuster money.

Manos: The Hands Of Fate tells the tale of a couple and their whiny young daughter and equally annoying doggie taking a drive in their convertible out in the desert, on their way to a vacation getaway in the middle of nowhere. Obviously, they get lost, and after getting worthless directions from a couple making out, and after driving and driving and driving and driving through many a cut scene, they end up even more lost, with twilight coming upon them, before stopping at a building they figure they could spend the night at. They’re met by an odd gentleman with an odd walk and an even more odd way of talking, telling them that his master doesn’t want them to stay there. But then he lets them stay there. Then the dog disappears, then the young daughter, then the curator of the building begins to creep on the wife, stuff happens, and then the aforementioned Master awakens, along with his wives, who then argue about letting the wife stay and be part of the cult’s harem or not. I wish I could say “wackiness ensues”, but I would be lying.

So, this movie was made, and was immediately lost to the void of cheep independent Z-Movie Hell, as nature intended. But, decades later, because humanity is being punished for our sins, the movie was rediscovered and given a mutated new life of Cult Status, due to its So-Bad-It’s-Good nature. I call it the Ed Wood Effect.

Manos: The Hands Of Fate has the magical effect of bending time and space, making you think that the running time is hours upon hours longer than it really is, and your perception of reality after watching it will make you stare into the void for hours afterwards, trying to process what exactly it was you just watched. Watching Manos: The Hands Of Fate made me want to re-watch The Room for something fast-paced and exciting. I hope you’re getting the point, here. Manos: The Hands Of Fate has the excitement of watching your Great Aunt’s old vacation videos. Even the MST3K working barely made it watchable. I happened to watch it without the help of the boys in the Satellite of Love. Watch at your own peril.

Movie Review: BIG ASS SPIDER!

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big ass spiderEpic Pictures

A giant alien spider escapes from a military lab and rampage the city of Los Angeles. When a massive military strike fails, it is up to a team of scientists and one clever exterminator to kill the creature before the city is destroyed.

Yes, I watched this movie based on the name alone. Yes, I was expecting mindless cheesy sci-fi big monster B-Movie. Exactly how mindless and cheesy, I didn’t really know; I mean, there is that exclamation point, which usually is a hallmark of either a wacky comedy, or grindhouse exploitation. Given the cover art, I was leaning more towards “wacky comedy”.

Big Ass Spider! ended up being far more entertaining than it should have been. The movie’s title promises us a big ass spider, and boy howdy does it deliver the goods on that end. Somehow, seeing the constantly-growing alien spider that escaped from the military lab that spawned it rendered in all it’s CGI glory actually works to make this more fun than had they tried to make things with practical effects. Quite frankly, that rampage through the park made me all giddy, clapping in glee like a preschooler at a puppet show. Also, EXTERMINATOR WITH A BAZOOKA! ‘Nuff said.

On the Cheese-O-Meter level, Big Ass Spider! ranks quite a bit above your standard Asylum-made Sy Fy Channel flick, mainly due to the movie being in on the joke. If B-Movies like this aren’t your thing, then keep away from this. But, then again, if you didn’t get that from the title alone, it’s your own fault. However, if the idea of seeing a CG-rendered giant spider rampage through LA is your idea of a great time, grab your friends and whatever libations you may imbibe and have yourselves a ball.