FilmDungeon.com is glad to explore the video trenches to find that oddball treasure between the piles of crap out there. Of Course, a treasure in this context can also be a film that’s so shockingly bad it’s worth a look, or something so bizarre that cult fans just have to see it. Join us on our quest and learn what we learn. Hopefully we’ll uncover some well-hidden cult gems.
Researched by: Jeppe Kleijngeld
Directed by: Alan Gibson
Written by: Don Houghton
Cast: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Stephanie Beacham
This is the sixth Hammer production that stars Christopher Lee as the uncanny Count Dracula. This time he appears in London during the seventies, as one of his descendants. Johnny Alucard (spell his surname backwards), performs a ritual which brings his old master back to life. Dracula rapidly starts to suck the blood out of young girls. Luckily for the London hippie community, a descendant of the legendary Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), discovers what’s going on and he bows to destroy the evil count forever. Lee and Cushing are a joy to watch as always. They are very charismatic speakers, both equipped with a great voice that enables them to make almost everything they say sound interesting. It’s only a shame that Lee gets too little screen time. Also, the actors playing the hippie characters are extremely unconvincing. Just because someone’s on acid doesn’t mean he will barely react to strange and shocking occurrences. One of the weaker and duller Hammer Dracula flicks.
The Galaxy Invader (USA, 1985)
Directed by: Don Dohler
Written by: Don Dohler, David Donoho, Anne Frith
Cast: Richard Ruxton, Faye Tilles, George Stover
It starts with a Predator-like intro-shot of a fireball flying towards earth, followed by a pulpy credit sequence, including the typical cheesy synthesizer score. The fireball (spaceship) lands in Maryland and the aggressive alien creature onboard starts to roam the outside. A group of rednecks start to hunt it down for the money and a deadly confrontation ensues, while a UFO hobbyist and his former pupil get involved when they attempt to rescue the alien. The first time the Galaxy Invader appears (within five minutes), you’ll see a guy in a suit so ridiculous, it makes you wonder why they even bothered continuing this production at all. Despite these crappy effects, the movie is often quite hilarious because of the stupid (inter)actions of the yokels and the ludicrous action scenes. The alien shoots firework rockets from his gun for Christ sakes! It looks as though the budget was just a few thousand dollars. Great movie though, if you got a thing for the ultra-cheap stuff.
Directed by: Robert Morris
Written by: Chang Cheh
Cast: Brad Harris, Marc Lawrence, Esmeralda Barros
Released on a Grindhouse double feature DVD together with The Galaxy Invader. The picture quality of this film is so bad that you can barely see what’s going on at times. Not that the story is very complicated. In the Nairobi jungle, a mad scientist creates a number of brain-controlled killer gorillas. They kidnap the young girl Diana who belongs to a local expedition group. Mercenary Burt leads a rescue party into the labyrinth jungle, financed by Diana’s father, a bastard who also secretly sponsors the scientist’s experiments. The rescue party gets ambushed and all except for Burt die. Soon after, he meets the ‘sacred monkey’, a girl raised by apes, who helps him find the scientist’s underground lab for a final showdown. Dull movie with virtually nothing to make it worth your while. Also known as Eve, The Wild Woman and King of Kong Island. Best to avoid.
Directed by: Johan Vandewoestijne
Written by: Johan Vandewoestijne, John Kupferschmidt
Cast: Nick Van Suyt, Helga Vandevelde, Let Jotts
The heavily insane John Lucker (Nick Van Suyt) escapes from a mental institution. We learn that he has killed eight woman and performed sexual acts with their already decomposing corpses. That already says it all right? Lucker doesn’t talk much, which makes him all the more scary when he brutally murders someone. Not that it is so much better when he does talk. A prostitute, one of his victims, tells him “this is not my idea of a good time”. Same goes for the viewer: it’s all very unpleasant and nasty. But despite its dark and gloomy ugliness, there is something fascinating about Vandewoestijne’s approach. He created a visually impressive work that features good acting. Hats off for those poor victim girls, who make their torment seem very real. Also kudos for Van Suyt’s disturbing portrayal of John Lucker. A deeply messed-up maniac filled with misogyny. If you decide to watch this, prepare for the worst though.
Nightmare Concert (Italy, 1990)
OT: Un gatto nel cervello
Directed by: Lucio Fulci
Written by: John Fitzimmons, Lucio Fulci, Giovanni Simonelli, Antonio Tentori
Cast: Lucio Fulci, Brett Halsey, Ria De Simone
The DVD-cover of Nightmare Concert aka A Cat in the Brain describes this as Fulci’s bloodiest film. Hard to believe, but it is actually kind of true. I can’t remember many films with this much red in it. It is a special film as well: Fulci stars as himself, a film director with a taste for gore, who begins having violent fantasies. He visits a shrink who hypnotizes him. As a result, Fulci can no longer see the difference between his films and reality which results in loads of brutal slayings. The idea is crystal clear: screen violence leads to real violence. Many recognizable Fulci elements are present in Nightmare Concert: inventive kills (driving over a corpse ten times), less inventive kills (body part dismemberment by chainsaw), some sex and quite a lot of black humour. It is also completely over the top and contains a few lovely moments of self-parody. Just as trashy as most of Fulci’s films, but when the man is on a roll, who’s complaining?
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