The Memorial Crapfest

It had been six months since the last Crapfest. There are many reasons for that. The holidays, certainly. There was also the fact that I was really tired of the cat-herding involved with setting a date that everyone was available. It was just much easier to find a day to meet with Rick, or Dave, or both, and just quietly watch some movies.

Life, though, has a way of forcing our hands.

A couple of weeks ago, in my semi-annual bitching about my life post, I mentioned that I skipped out on the memorial service of an acquaintance because that evening was the only chance I had to rest, recoup and heal in a physically grueling week. The deceased was Mark, who was responsible for such Crapfest entries as Skyscraper, The Black 6, and Evil Town. It wasn’t a memorial service, but a Celebration of Life (Mark would not have appreciated a moribund memorial service, not at all) and it was apparently crowded, which is to the good.

I’m a simple man, and I memorialized Mark the best way I knew: by inflicting terrible movies upon my fellow man, as he would.

The evening began with host Dave testing out his new AV setup with the first 20 minutes of Pacific Rim. Now, Pacific Rim is not crap. It is, however, quite loud. I sat and stewed that every time I tried to start things out nicely with some vintage Rolling Stones or Tom Jones, I get castigated for daring to put some “quality” into everybody’s precious crap. No one understands that this only makes the scalpel cut deeper. Yet here is Dave, receiving no such complaints while he projects giant robots punching kaiju.



When you’re the host, you get to do stuff like this.

But you know when nobody complains about “quality” in a Crapfest? When that quality is in the form of cartoons. I curated another set of cartoons, if only because Mark had really enjoyed the Halloween set at the last Crapfest. We start off easy with Feed the Kitty, one of Chuck Jones’ best, followed by Tex Avery’s Bad Luck Blackie, which is its polar opposite: in the first, a bulldog adores a little kitten; in the other, a bulldog continually tries to kill a little kitten.

Tom & Jerry were actually the worst about this.

Tom & Jerry were actually the worst about this.

The next section grew out of a discussion that Dave, Rick and I had after watching Diplomaniacs, about what Dave termed “blackface dynamite” (a scholarly term, to be sure) in cartoons, where an explosion turns everyone onscreen into minstrel show participants. The one instance he could recall with certainty was in Droopy’s Good Deed, which I surprisingly had in its uncensored form… but I still started off with Chew Chew Baby, a 1958 Harveytoon that played semi-regularly in the weekday morning cartoon slot, alongside the Bugs Bunny and Sylvester the Cat cartoons. It terrified me, and in short screwed me up for some time. It was a horrible thing to show a 5 year-old, and once again it is temporarily on YouTube, so look quick:

Oh, all right, here’s the censored Droopy scene in Japanese, which doesn’t make it any better:

Surprisingly, there are some (pretty awful quality) examples of the Betty Boop cartoon I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead You Rascal You, featuring Bimbo and Koko being chased by the giant flying head of Louis Armstrong:

Again, I fully expect all of these to be purged from YouTube in the next week.

I laid out my usual four movies to be voted on. Dave was having none of this voting crap, however (the fascist), and snatched up the recently-released Sorceress DVD. I have gone into Sorceress in far too much detail elsewhere, so let me be brief, and you can visit me twenty years ago at your leisure.

Sorceress is yet another Roger Corman-produced New World Pictures attempt to cash in on the sword and sorcery fad. It was directed by Jack Hill, who has a bunch of good, influential cinema under his belt, like Coffy and Switchblade Sisters. He asked that his name be removed from the movie. It is an intriguing script, full of amazing effects that Corman was not willing to pay for, so what you’re actually watching is a cheap piece of junk. It does feature the Harris twins (Playboy Playmates) and their nudity, Frampton the Barbarian, and for some reason, a Viking and his traveling companion, a satyr. I’m usually pretty forgiving about the acting in these things, but in this one it gets pretty dire.


“And my axe! …except I don’t have one.”

The major heartbreak in all this: Jack Hill wanted Sid Haig to play Pando, the satyr, but Corman wouldn’t pay for that, either. I weep over the loss of this portrayal. And you know what else is not in Sorceress? A sorceress! None. Zip. Zero. Corman apparently took a list of possible titles to a local high school and asked them which movie they’d go see. “Why, the one that gives me a chance to see boobies,” they replied, and so it was.

After this, Alan had brought something. When Alan brings something, it is always horrific. This time, it was, at least, horrific and short. It was the premiere episode of the shortest-lived M*A*S*H* spin-off ever, W*A*L*T*E*R*. Yes, Gary Burghoff’s shot at a show featuring his Radar O’Reilly character.

There are a few points of interest: using one of the best episodes of M*A*S*H* as a springboard – the one featuring a TV crew filming a documentary of the 4077th – a “Where are they now?” special catches us up on what happened to Radar – excuse me, Walter – in the intervening years. He lost the family farm and got abandoned on his wedding day, among other things. So now he is a beat cop in St. Louis.

walter2Now, Walter using his Radar O’Reilly powers to solve crimes is the series I would have tuned in to every week. Instead, what we have here is some gently uplifting comedy about how being a nice guy and having an affinity for animals makes Walter a good cop. Any warm feelings toward the show engendered by having Dick Miller crop up as the manager of a burlesque house besieged by warring strippers is wasted by the fact that Walter’s eventual love interest is played by Victoria Jackson. Possibly before she went insane, but still.

You know what? Screw you. Why should I be the only one to suffer?

There needed to be some filler while dinner was grilled (We were too wrapped up in W*A*L*T*E*R* to attend to such things, it seems), and this fell to me. I had two trailer compilations, labeled “Adventure” and “Satanism” “Satan!” chose Paul, enthusiastically. He would regret that.

There are a lot of movies with “Satan” and “The Devil” in their titles, and the most amazing thing about this is that most of these movies are boring. How is this even possible? They don’t even have enough good stuff in them to make a good trailer, and this is sad.

fitnessRick had prepared a ton of hamburger patties. Dave imperiously strode through the kitchen, proclaiming, “You will have double cheeseburgers! This is the LAW!!!” In a rare gesture of restraint, I only had two double cheeseburgers. I miss those double cheeseburgers. They were good double cheeseburgers.

(Why yes, I did just have my semi-annual visit to my doctor, during which we discussed my weight gain. I told her it was all Rick’s fault. She sighed and scribbled something in the TO BE KILLED column.)

lost planetThen Dave put on his choice. It was a choice that would make us miss boring old Satan. Like many of Dave’s choices, it had more names than a petition against closing a local community center. The name it had chosen for the evening was Galaxy Destroyer, but it is apparently better known as simply Galaxy or Battle for the Lost Planet (“uncensored TV version of Kampf um den verlorenen Planeten”) or “Do you even watch these fucking things before you show them?”

SO there’s this thief named Harry Trent (Matt Mitler) who has stolen a very valuable data tape, and hijacks a space shuttle to escape the security guards chasing him. First problem: he damaged the shuttle and can’t maneuver it, so he has to take a comet’s route back to Earth, which will take five years. Luckily (if not realistically) , there is sufficient fuel and food for this. Second problem: he passed a fleet of wannabe Vogons who reduce the Earth to a scorched black ball.

So after five years of komedy, like discovering he also broke the ship’s stove so that the food is crap and drawing a naked woman on a pillow to seduce, Trent returns to an Earth that has regrown into a bunch of B-movie communes, and discovers he has become a legend, because the data tape he stole will operate a mega-weapon that will destroy the pig-faced aliens. He picks up a feisty liberated woman (Denise Coward), runs into space crabs, has to deal with Mad Dog Kelly, the Maddest Mad Man on the Q Morning Zoo… no I’m sorry, he’s Joe Genitissi in a role that should have gone to Frank Stallone, a Mad Max wannabe who thinks all women should willingly be in his harem and Trent fights him to the death AND OH MY GOD WILL YOU JUST END I REALLY MISS BORING SATAN.

semistalloneSemi-Stallone gets Trent into the Mega-weapon complex and finds out it can kill anybody or anything just as long as the particulars can be programmed into it. Even with the data tape, the surviving scientist (Bill MacGlaughlin) can’t figure out how to program it to kill the aliens. Semi-Stallone says that’s because he’s “too cordial” and he just has to program in human beings and tell the machine to kill everything else. Congratulations, asshole, you just destroyed the biosphere, animals, insects, bacteria and all.

But no, this works, and the aliens dissolve like the demons at the end of the original Evil Dead, but this is deemed so cool that they show many, many instances of it until even that becomes boring. Gaaaah.

This is the work of Brett Piper, who some of you will know from A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell, and you are nodding sagely right now.  Some fair stop-motion animation, almost nudity (“MY movie had boobies,” I once again entoned from the back), komedy, and some tiresome social commentary.

Dave sneered that we had lost our “bad movie legs”. See for yourself, the three minutes where the movie almost got exciting:

And lest that make you think you might actually want to watch this, here’s the actual trailer:

The only comment on YouTube:

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 12.31.32 PM

And you know what else wasn’t in Galaxy Destroyer, besides entertainment value? A galaxy, being destroyed or not.

Sometime during this Paul scapered off into the night, claiming work the next morning (he was lying, he wanted to watch the Rockets game in peace. Incidentally, they lost that night.) and also Erik, claiming a hangover (the veracity of this is unknown). This left Dave, Rick, Alan and myself. “What else you got?” asked Dave. I presented two discs which I knew to be around an hour long. “What else you got?” he asked again, and I realized I was the only person in the room who had to get up for work the next day.

Short sleep rations are a fact of my life. You don’t scare me.

Can-que_e39fe8ffI presented two more movies. And with some sort of hell-spawned wisdom, Dave chose the movie that would be of a fit with the rest of the evening: The Return of the Five Deadly Venoms, which has nothing to do with the earlier movie, Five Deadly Venoms. It is, in fact, a re-titling of Crippled Avengers, because people are idiots.

Chan Kuan-Tai plays To, a famous kung fu hero, whose wife and child are hideously mangled by enemies (To then kills the scumbags with one tiger blow each). His son survives, though his arms have been cut off, and To raises him to be a great fighter with iron arms that have some proto-Tony Stark weaponry in them. They also become colossal jerks, ruling the local village with an iron (ha!) fist, and crippling most of the cast of Five Deadly Venoms for various minor infractions, like talking back or bumping into them on the street.

So, a newly blind man, a deaf-mute, a legless guy, and a brain-damaged hero who tried to help them (but still has excellent kung fu skills in his muscle memory), learn kung fu and come back to rid the world of To and his iron-fisted son. If you need more details, once again you can commune with my younger self.

Chang Cheh’s Venom movies (as they are known) tend to end in spectacular fight scenes that rely more on acrobatic skills than martial artistry, but the fights are so dizzying, like a gymnastic tournament gone ballistic, that it is damned near impossible not be sucked in. Another special shout out goes to Wang Lung Wei as To’s second-in-command, whose battle cry of “Let’s go!” whenever his men were losing, became the quote of the evening.

It washed away the Boring Satan and Boring-er Galaxy Destroyers and ended the night on an up-beat. Nyah nyah on Erik and Paul who have to nurse their delicate psyches through horrid memories of Galaxy Destroyer when they think of this night, and not the exhausting final fight of Crippled Avengers or the ta-tas of the Harris Twins (“My movie had boobies!”)

And rest assured that Mark is laughing at us all, and probably making a joke about an obscure Richard Burton movie.

Looks like I’m back to my cat-herding duties.



Crapsgiving 2013

Thanksgiving interrupted my steady diet of Zatoichi movies long enough to realize that we had gone a significant amount of time without a Crapfest. Heeeey, we’d been busy! And as it is almost impossible to put one together over the Christmas holidays, it was Thanksgiving or nothing, Thanksgiving being one of the few weekends I can actually wrangle a Saturday off.

But my experience is not the same as others. Alan and Mark both had their weekends stolen away by the dreaded 10-Out-Of-12 tech rehearsals for shows they were in. I wondered aloud who would be so cruel as to schedule 10-Out-Of-12s on Thanksgiving weekend. Darth Vader? Atomic Hitler? Anne Coulter? Perhaps it is best that in large part, I am no longer part of the theatrical world.

Because here I was at Dave’s house, with Rick, Erik and Paul. The room did not feel particularly crowded, and there was a genial ease about the whole thing. A rejuvenating experience I desperately needed. Also, Erik allowed me check off an item on my Bucket List by bringing a bottle of Absinthe, along with the necessary spoon. I admit I had my doubts since I hate licorice, but the Green Fairy won me over. I quite enjoyed it, and promised the Twitterverse that I would let it know immediately if it drove any of us mad. Of course, considering what we usually watch at these things, many felt the “driving” part was a little too late.

StarshipWhile everyone got settled in, Dave started things off with Starship Invasions. If you’ve ever seen Starship Invasions, you know that ignoring most of it is the best course of action. I recall this getting wide release after the success of Star Wars; it’s made by Canadians trying to make an Italian movie – at least it always seemed that way to me. The bad guy is Christopher Lee (of course), who is part of a coalition of alien races who sabotages and murders all the other representatives (and when he guns down the Space Strippers, you know he’s evil), so he can exterminate all Earthlings with his Suicide Ray and repopulate it with his leotarded minions. Luckily, one good guy saucer escapes and enlists UFOlogist Robert Vaughn’s help.

L to R: Space Stripper, Christopher Lee, Egghead

L to R: Space Stripper, Christopher Lee, Egghead

The ships and alien designs were taken from eyewitness reports of close encounters. That’s a cool touch in a movie that seems a lot like The Terrornauts with a slightly better budget.

Really, the best part was Dave reminiscing about how this was yet another movie his father refused to take him to see.

Some time was taken up by going through my Bag of Tricks©, which I curate throughout the year, tossing in discs which I deem Crapfest-worthy. Dave triaged out the candidates he thought best, and Rick howled “No way in hell are we watching Black Devil Doll from Hell!”. He would then return to his periodic pointed mentions of his new “Unedited, Unexpurgated cut of Evilspeak“, which we were pretty certain only meant it was a solid 90 minutes of Clint Howard’s naked ass. We were all pretty laid back that evening, which is the primary reason every one of Rick’s mentions of Evilspeak wasn’t met with, “You know what I hear is pretty cool? Black Devil Doll from Hell!”

dogvilleOver Dave’s misgivings, I convinced him to start with one of the Dogville shorts, which is high-grade, hallucinatory, what-the-hell-did-I-just-watch material. A series of movie parodies starring dogs in costumes, made from 1929-1931, from the guys who would later direct the Three Stooges shorts. Paul immediately felt this was super-awesome and insured that we would be watching one of these each fest for the foreseeable future. This is what we did with Pink Lady & Jeff, which is a comparison which made Paul re-think this course of action.

What we watched was “Who Killed Rover?” a “Phido Vance” mystery that I appreciate for its refreshingly downbeat ending, but everyone else – save Paul – claimed to be scarred for life by the experience. Paul wanted to immediately continue on to “The Dogway Melody”, but was booed down. In deference to Paul, here is an excerpt from it:

large_dvd_colorspacev1I had brought a metric ton of sausage for our evening meal, and Dave, grillmeister that he is, has an elaborate process for getting the coals just so, which is time-consuming, but I cannot fault the results. So while the charcoal was doing its combustible thing, I put in a disc I had gotten from Diabolik, ModCinema’s ColorScape, Volume One, which is a compilation of movie trailers, commercials, and proto-music videos from the late 60s to early 70s. Or what I like to refer to as “Making the young punks regret they grew up in the 80s”.

Paul and I had a major discussion about how we were lied to as children, and we were certain that adult life was exactly like the scenes unfolding before us: all the grown-ups were swinging (except our parents, who were too old to swing), and every night ended with an orgy. Blake Edwards’ The Party, starring Peter Sellers? That was only a typical Tuesday night. Past that, the experience was mostly wondering why we weren’t watching the movies excerpted in the trailers.

I love damn near all the music on the ColorScape disc, though this was not shared by my compatriots, the heathens. So ha, compatriots! Here’s this one again! Heathens!

After two hours of reveling in 60s hedonism and psychedelic music, the sausages were ready, and so were we – ready for Weng Weng. But we were wrong. Nobody is ready for Weng Weng.

For Your Height Only press book coverThe movie, of course, is the infamous For Y’ur Height Only (why the dropped “o”? I have no idea), starring Weng Weng (actually Ernesto de la Cruz) as “Agent 00”. Weng Weng, at 2′ 9″, is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest man to ever have a lead role in a movie.

In the movie, Dr. Kohler is kidnapped because crimelord Mr. Giant wants his “N-bomb”. What exactly the N-bomb does is never explained, and that doesn’t really matter, because Dr. Kohler is going to vanish for the next 80 minutes, and when he returns at the end, you’re going to ask, “Who’s the Anglo?”, because those 80 minutes are going to be jam-packed with Weng Weng kicking ass and using scaled-down James Bond gadgetry.

weng-weng-kissWeng Weng was apparently an accomplished martial artist, and is at the correct height to A) be below your peripheral vision, and B) punch you in the nuts. Repeatedly. And when that doesn’t work, his pretty assistant will just pick him up and throw him at you. Weng Weng eventually faces off with Mr. Giant, who is, to no one’s surprise, a dwarf (oh come on, that’s a given!). This fight scene gave rise to one of the better lines of the night, “My kung fu is smaller than yours!” Although I also give props to Dave, who, while watching Weng Weng leap about and traumatize gonads, entoned, “That’s some X-Men shit, right there.”

Look, there are simply not words in the English language to adequately describe how awesome is the mighty Weng Weng. He never made any movies with Chuck Norris or Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger because they knew they would be completely upstaged. And, by God, Weng Weng does all his own stunts, because face it: There are not a lot of 2′ 9″ stunt men out there.

super_ninjas_poster_01Weng Weng’s amazing kung fu skills put us in the mood for more chop-sockey, and what I had in the Bag was Five Element Ninjas, which is not the best of the Chang Cheh/Venom collaborations, but is still pretty great.

There is one of those acrimonious competitions between two clans in the World of Martial Arts, and the current Lord of the World of Martial Arts brings in a ringer – a samurai, who, when he loses his second match, commits hara-kiri, but sends a note to his pal the Ninja Lord, who proceeds to challenge the victorious clan to another contest, but kills all the best fighters using Evil Ninja Tricks.

The Five Elements come in with the various groups of Ninjas and their specialties, Earth, Water, Fire, Wood and Metal. The Metal Ninjas are the least stealthy ninjas ever, dressed in dazzling gold lamé. But the ones we really hated were the Earth Ninjas, who burrow underground and stab upward with nasty hooked spears, which is a trick that even Weng Weng finds too dirty.

(This also leads to the movie’s most infamous scene, where one good guy soldiers on against the Head Ninja, even through multiple Earth Ninja stabbings; in fact, his internal organs are hanging down through his trouser leg. He does pretty well, too, until he trips over his own guts.)

five-element-ninja-1The ninjas attack the fortified Good Guy compound (thanks to Sinji, the cute ninja, masquerading as an orphan waif), leaving just one good guy intact – who escapes, meets up with an old master who knows the ninja arts (which, we are told, originated in China). Then the survivor and the master’s other three students take on the Five Element Ninjas and take them down with spectacularly bloody results. This is good, because the treacherous ninjas had taken over The World of Martial Arts, and we can’t have that.

Sinji (that minx!) in her Ninja Negligee

Sinji (that minx!) in her Ninja Negligee

Five Element Ninjas has a bang-up beginning and end, but a very talky middle, while Sinji works her wiles.  Perhaps not ideal Crapfest material, but we did really enjoy seeing the Earth Ninjas get their gory comeuppance.

The Ultimate Bait-and-Switch: a Boris Vallejo poster!

The Ultimate Bait-and-Switch: a Boris Vallejo poster!

Paul fulfilled his wuss duty at this point and went home, which meant it was time to play the R-rated Titty movie (take that, wuss!), and Dave chose Barbarian Queen.

Barbarian Queen is likely best known for its ill-fated star, Lana Clarkson, who didn’t survive a close encounter with Phil Spector. It’s also fairly infamous for its number of rape scenes. (I may be wrong, but I think Deathstalker beats it in that category. In any case, “Rape scene! Take a drink!” is a dangerous game to play with either one)

Lana’s village is kidnapped by slave traders (the synopsis says “Romans”, but they couldn’t afford Roman costumes), and Clarkson tracks them to the big city where the menfolk are turned into gladiators and the womenfolk into sex slaves for the gladiators. With a setup like that, it’s unsurprising that they plan an uprising while Clarkson basically kegels a torturer to death (since it looks like he has eyebrows glued to his glasses, he pretty much deserved that).

I really miss the days when Roger Corman had Joe Dante and Allan Arkush editing his trailers, you know?

It was late, and though I was still full of caffeinated vim, the hour was getting to most of us. Erik, Rick and I packed our bags and thanked Dave for once again allowing us to pollute the atmosphere in his home. Then we privately met in the front yard, discussing the possibility of a Christmas Crapfest, because, after all, Rick had this fabulous new disc of Evilspeak with all the gore that had previously been cut out intact!

PS. No, Rick!!!! Though I hear Black Devil Doll from Hell is pretty cool…