Junesploitation picks, so watch them while you can!
An American Werewolf in London (1981, dir. John Landis) One of the best horror comedies ever made. Check that, one of the best horror movies period. I find myself going back to An American Werewolf in London every October. It's very funny and startling and features the best werewolf makeup ever put in a movie. It's so good that even Rick Baker himself has proven he can't do werewolf makeup any better. I'm always going to remember this movie for introducing me to irony (picture 10-year old Adam asking his parents why the last shot is not happy but it immediately goes to a happy song in the end credits). I was not having any of it back then. It really bothered me. Ironysploitation. Debbie Kleinsploitation.
Elvira Mistress of the Dark
(1986, dir. James Signorelli) Nothing articulate from me on this one. She likes horror and has huge breasts. Until Dern '93, Elvira was my perfect woman. Oh yeah, this movie's pretty good. Boobsploitation.
She's All That (1999, dir. Robert Iscove) Today is teensploitation day! The mid-to-late '90s were a treasure trove of teensploitation thanks to movies like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer showing studios that the teenage market was a force to be reckoned with again. There hadn't been such a flux of movies aimed at the high school crowd since the late '80s. One of my favorite teensploitation movies to emerge out of that time was the totally ridiculous She's All That, which is essentially a retelling of My Fair Lady, which was essentially a retelling of Pygmalion, which was essentially a retelling of the life of my great, great grandmother Mable Jean Wickernickers. She's All That is far from a good movie, but there's something in it that STILL makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Sometimes I still walk down the stairs to the dreamy tones of Sixpence None The Richer. Kiss Me, She's All That.
June 21st – Teens: Hot Rod Gang (1958, dir. Lew Landers) This is one of the original American-International drive-in movies, the studio that virtually invented teen-spoitation. It stars John Ashley, who would show up in a lot of AIP’s beach party movies and would later direct quickies for AIP in the Philippines. The film focuses on a hot rod gang. Gene Vincent shows up to sing two songs; unfortunately, neither is “Be-Bop-A-Lu-La.”
June 22nd – Fred Williamson: Full Tilt Boogie (1998, dir. Sarah Kelly) The next best thing to having more Fred Williamson movies on Netflix Instant—a documentary about a film he is in! Williamson is briefly interviewed; the filmmakers also chat with the craft services guy!
June 23rd – Ozploitation: Bush Christmas (1947, dir. Ralph Smart) This charming film focuses on children trying to get their fathers’ horses back from a thief down under. Funny, I could have sworn back in my college days, I saw a porno film titled Bush Christmas; it was very “festive.” Wait—this Bush Christmas stars Chips Rafferty as “Long Bill.” Could it be the same film?
June 24th – Rock and/or Roll: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978, dir. Michael Schultz) One of the worst films ever made and the very apex of exploitation; take some popular teen sensations (Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees) mix with a classic Beatles album and shake liberally. Michael Schultz directed the earlier, better Car Wash and should have known better before taking on this assignment. I have written about this steaming pile of dung here.
June 25th – 80’s Horror: The Care Bears Movie (1985, dir. Arna Selznik) The scariest movie from the 1980s that I could think of! Mickey Rooney voices one of the characters. Rooney is now 93; I have a theory that for the last twenty years of his career, he has actually been a zombie. Scary. Zombie Andy Hardy? Now there is a film I would go to see.
June 26th – War: War of the Gargantuas! (in Japan: Furankenshutain no kaijû: Sanda tai Gaira-- 1966, dir. Ishiro Honda) From the director of the original Godzilla comes this lesser giant monster effort. (Is that an oxymoron?) Hey, it has WAR in the title, doesn’t it! It also stars Russ Tamblyn from West Side Story, Tom Thumb, and Twin Peaks! Maybe you can use this one film for both June 25th and 26th?
June 26th – Monsters: The Host (in Japan: Gwoemul-- 2006, dir. Joon-ho Bong) I still remember when this was originally released and what a pleasant surprise it was. It is still one of my favorite giant Japanese monster movies.
Of course, if giant Japanese monsters are not your style, the following half dozen classic Universal Monster films are still available on Netflix Instant:
The Phantom of the Opera
The Invisible Man
The Bride of Frankenstein
The Wolf Man
Rolling Thunder and Blackenstein and motherfucking Miami Connection. File any of those away for the next Free Space day.
I like to think that Netflix has seen such a huge uptick in exploitation movie streaming during Junesploitation that they're frantically scrambling around the Netflix offices trying to add more titles to their library. One guy falls down. A woman gets her shirt pulled off when it's caught in a door. Someone gets a pie in the face. Everyone dies.
Teensploitation! - Runaway Daughters (1994, dir. Joe Dante) Technically, this is a remake of teensploitation movie -- one that plays the (sincere) original for laughs. The great Joe Dante made it as part of Showtime's Rebel Highway series in the '90s; it's not his best, but the cast is great (including a number of Dante regulars AND my first girlfriend Jenny Lewis) and Paul Rudd's send-up of '50s teenagers is very funny. But really you should probably watch Beach Party, because it's the best.
Fred Williamson! - Weak ass offerings, Netflix. Watch One Down, Two to Go, which JB recommended last week for Blaxploitation. Or watch American Grindhouse if you haven't yet. Or track down a copy of Black Caesar or Boss N***er, because those are better.
Ozploitation! Dead End Drive-in (1986, dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith) I feel bad because I just recommended this one a few weeks ago. If you didn't get a chance to watch it then, now's your opportunity! Punk teenagers are rounded up and are locked in drive-in movie theaters that double as internment camps. It's directed by the great Brian Trenchard-Smith, the kind of Ozploitation. If you want a break from violence and depravity and want something goofy and fun, check out Trenchard-Smith's BMX Bandits from 1983. Nicole Kidman's '80s hair cannot be tamed.
Rock 'n Roll! - Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979, dir. Allan Arkush) Great raucous comedy made to exploit the music of The Ramones on the cheap. Somehow a movie about devoting your life to the principles of punk rock, defying authority and demolishing institutions ends up incredibly goofy and sweet. The "I Want You Around" sequence remains one of my favorite musical numbers of all time. Watch out for Dee Dee in the shower!
'80s Horror! - Who could pick just one? Re-Animator is one of the most fun and gory (Fungory, patent pending) movies you will ever see. Pet Sematary has the scariest bedridden sister you will ever see. Silver Bullet has one of the worst werewolves you will ever see. For true grungy, low-budget '80s horror, go with C.H.U.D. (1984, dir. Douglas Cheek).
War! - Ministry of Vengeance (1989, dir. Peter Maris) The Dukes of Hazzard's John Schneider plays a Vietnam vet who becomes a minister but returns to violence to take revenge on the terrorists who murdered his family. Outstanding cast including Yaphet Kotto, George Kennedy, Apollonia, Ned Beatty and fucking James Tolkan.
Monsters! - The Mighty Peking Man (1977, dir. Meng Hua Ho) Just saw this during Junesploitation. It's not great, but it's so goddamn odd that it's worth a look. This is the Shaw Brothers reinterpreting King Kong. Something got lost in the translation.