Starcrash (1978) – Guilty Pleasure or Misunderstood Masterpiece?

The evil Count Zarth Arn has secretly constructed the ultimate space weapon. The son of the Emperor of the Universe has mysteriously disappeared. And only sultry space smuggler Stella Star, her selectively psychic co-pilot, and a misogynist robot gunslinger with a Texan accent can save the day. No, seriously. I’m not making this up.

Luigi Cozzi’s Starcrash is more than just another Star Wars rip-off from the sci-fi boom of the ‘70s and ‘80s. It’s a quirky marriage of European and American pulp sensibilities. It’s a loving tribute to Barbarella, Ray Harryhausen, and the space adventure serials of the ‘30s. It’s an oft derided and misunderstood mini masterpiece of Euro-exploitation cinema. Continue reading

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The Karate Dog (2005)

So there’s this talking dog named Cho Cho. And he knows martial arts for some reason. And his master is murdered by a ninja, who is secretly his master’s former student. And the dog teams up with a hapless cop to bring the killer to justice. The Karate Dog is further proof that there’s no limit to how low Hollywood will stoop (and scoop?) to profit off the exploitation of cute animals.

Cho Cho, the bereaved dog, is voiced by Chevy Chase, who you’d think by now would’ve learned the folly of playing a talking dog (See Oh Heavenly Dog). But by this pre-“Community” point in his career, he was probably desperate enough to do any movie in exchange for a cold sandwich and a hot shower. This is Chase’s first leading role since Vegas Vacation, which was only marginally better than Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure. Continue reading

Movie Pick of the Moment: NOTHING LASTS FOREVER (1984)

A whimsical tribute to young love, young artists, and the films of the 1930s, Nothing Lasts Forever could best be described as a friendlier version of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1984). Continue reading

Theodore Rex (1995)

Theodore Rex is a kid-friendly futuristic buddy cop comedy about a loose-cannon cop (Whoopi Goldberg in a skin-tight catsuit?!) who’s teamed up with a wisecracking dinosaur (?!) to solve a “dinocide” and save the earth from a mad billionaire’s scheme to wipe out all humanity by triggering a second Ice Age.

It’s basically Blade Runner with Barney. And Whoopi Goldberg. And fart jokes. Lots and lots of fart jokes. Even after two viewings it still blows my mind that a mainstream film this bizarre actually exists. Continue reading

The Magic Serpent (1966)

The Magic Serpent AKA Battle of the Dragons AKA Ninja Apocalypse AKA Froggo and Droggo combines two mainstays of Japanese cinema I’d always hoped to see mishmashed together: giant Godzilla-esque monsters and ninja wizards in feudal Japan. Some kids dream of becoming professional athletes, others dream of walking on the Moon. I dreamed of one day seeing a ninja wizard fight a giant city-crushing dragon. And the kids at school said I was crazy! But guess whose dream actually came true? It’s all about setting realistic goals, kids.

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Dolemite (1975) – A Detailed Analysis

In this no-budget blaxploitation action/comedy, the titular jive-talking honky-hatin’ pimp is framed for crimes he didn’t commit, but probably would have committed anyway due to his constant criminal and antisocial behaviour. Two years later he’s released from prison to seek revenge on a rival pimp (and generally beat on Whitey) with the help of his army of kung fu hos.

Yeah, I know, that sounds like the most amazing exploitation film ever. And in the right hands, it could have been. But in the careless hands of star/producer Rudy Ray Moore (who stole the plot from a local homeless man), Dolemite is a film that’s awe-inspiring in its stupidity and disregard for basic film craft.

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Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)

I’ve seen some cinematic stinkers in my day. I’ve seen floating disembodied brains battle for world supremacy in The Brain from the Planet Arous. I’ve seen robots with human brains fight undead Mexicans in Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy. I’ve even seen something called Killer Condom. But I’ve never seen anything to prepare me for the surreal experience that is Death Bed: The Bed That Eats.

Yes, you read correctly. That’s the actual title to an actual film. It’s not just a Patton Oswalt comedy routine. Although I wish it was. Someone actually thought this was a worthwhile idea for a movie. That visionary man is George Barry.

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