'A THICK SLICE OF B-MOVIE SCI-FI CHEESE' DOUBLE FEATURE!EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS (2002, 99 min.) on Netflix.A chemical spill in a small Arizona town finds its way into the cricket meals of Tom Noonan's spider collection, who quickly grow in size and terrorize the locals. "ID4" filmmakers plus a $30 million budget should equal an entertaining early 2000's creature feature, back when David Arquette (who is surprisingly subdued) could have his name above the title. Nope, what we get instead are many scenes of horrific giant-spider-on-human-victim (with an odd cat or ostrich in-between) bloodless mayhem completely at odds with a comedic tone that feels engineered to lessen the horror sting of what the CG artists are indulging in. John Ottman's bordering-on-wacky score, many actors' mugging faces and the spiders squeaking puppy-like expressions are signals we should be laughing at the on-screen antics. These conflicting tones end up canceling each other out, leaving "Eight Legged Freaks" without a leg to stand on (BAD-PUN-SPLOITATION!). Not even 17-year-old Scarlett Johansson zapping her would-be rapist boyfriend in the nuts can save this one.RIFFTRAX LIVE! STAR RAIDERS: THE ADVENTURES OF SABER RAIN (2019/2017, 90 min.) at Phatom Events for the first time. Also streaming (minus the Rifftrax Live! portion) on Amazon Prime.Marking the fastest time a movie has gone from stand-alone release to "MST3K"/Rifftrax fodder, this low-hanging-fruit sci-fi schlock wastes no time showing off its great special effects, compelling acting and awesome production values... circa 1990! Seriously, any episode of "Babylon 5" runs so many circles around "Star Raiders" it could travel back in time to convince Casper Van Dien to not appear in the "Starship Troopers" sequels. At least our older, more mature Johnny Rico doesn't embarrass himself playing a Han Solo-type gruff adventurer who is recruited by a trio of elite space soldiers to help find the missing heirs from an intergalactic kingdom. He knows he's in a shit show to pay the bills, but Casper and most of the actors at least try to appear to give a damn.There's a bad guy (Sinjin) who'd be terrifying of he ever took off his Comicon-ready Sith cosplay gear, a guy who won't stop mentioning he's a "transport pilot" (Mike, Kevin and Bill really pounced on this running gag, probably because the actor playing it is the film's writer/director) and Cynthia Rothrock dresses from head-to-toe as a sexy lizard lady straight out of "Enemy Mine." The riffs are very hit-and-miss, with no real funny stuff landing until the whole "Gary!" bit about a lizard henchman... who dies but then reappears... again and again! More sad than the non-existent production values is "Star Raiders'" cynical attempt to set-up a franchise by dedicating a good chunk of its final 15 minutes to setting up worlds, plots and characters we'll never see because... well, the whole budget might exceed the filmmakers' parents' VISA card limit. A-fucking-void.
THE HIDDEN (1987, dir. Jack Sholder) A beautifully crazy film that makes one thankful for the cinematic experience. A mash-up of 1980s action, buddy cop film, and science fiction, The Hidden kept taking me by surprise. While there are clear influences from other films, The Hidden forges its own unique path. Undoubtedly the best film I have seen this month. Why is this not better known? I did not intend to watch The Hidden, but I noticed it on my DVR while searching for something else. Realizing The Hidden had been stored on there for close to two years, I thought it was time to see it. Maybe this was the perfect moment. It was pleasant to see some familiar faces here. Kyle MacLachlan is perfect as the FBI agent who does not seem quite right. The actor who played Viktor Rosta in Red Heat turns up for a supporting role, and Danny Trejo shows up very briefly.
This movie is so great. The car chase in the beginning is so well done.
The fact that the car chase does not overshadow the rest of the film is a testament to how good The Hidden is.
Q: THE WINGED SERPENT (1982):I'm ashamed to admit that this is one of my first Larry Cohen movies, but it's easy to see what made him such a revered cult filmmaker. Creating on a budget is about knowing what you have, what you don't, and making the most out of both. This one has that in spades. Throwing in a second feature because I'm not sure Q ended up being quite "sci-fi" enough: TIME CHASERS (1994, MST3K Edition):My all-time favorite episode of MST3K. "This is not our star, is it!? I will not accept this as our star!"
"The 'X-Files' goes to Dublin." "I'm Batman!" "A track meet is starting, and starting, and starting!" "Food courts of the future!" "OK, he's going into the house to meet the real star of the movie... Doh'! I could go on forever! :-)
Sunshine (2007)I was lying on the grass of Sunday morning of last week, indulging in my self-defeat.My mind was thugged, all laced and bugged, all twisted, wrong and beat, a comfortable three feet deep. Now the fuzzy stare from not being there on a confusing morning week, impaired my tribal lunar speak. And of course you can't become if you only say what you would have done, so I missed a million miles of fun.
I see what you did there... and I like it!
I have no idea what you did there. This is one of my favourite movies though.
My favorite Danny Boyle film!
Gonna watch it!
Tron: Legacy (2010)There's nothing worse than bland sci-fi. Visually, there is plenty to like but the weightlessness of everything really detracts from my enjoyment. Jeff Bridges is sort of trying but his digital counterpart is too distracting. His son is played by generic young white actor. There are some ideas but nothing to grab on to. Not as boring as the original but not by that much. Glossy science fiction has never been my thing. I like my sci-fi gritty. And would it have killed them to throw in a joke or two?
ARENA (1989) It’s human versus alien boxing in the distant future. It’s as if good ol’ Charles Band watched Star Wars and wondered what if the whole movie took place in the cantina. The plot is a little too jokey for its own good, no doubt to cover up how the plot is the every by-the-numbers boxing flick cliché you can imagine. On the plus side, they didn’t skimp on the rubber mask budget, as there are a ton of crazy-looking aliens throughout, which is fun. Actors from both Star Trek DS9 and Babylon 5 are in this, so it’s the closest thing we’ll ever get to a crossover. Bonus #Godzillasploitation: COZZILLA (1977) What happened here is an Italian film producer got a hold of the classic 1954 Gojira, had it re-edited and colorized (really color-tinted), and then released it in theaters as a new movie. The credits boast that it’s “filmed in Spectrorama 7-D!” The colorization makes it look like somebody spilled stale mustard on the print, and the ‘70s funk soundtrack does the original movie no favors. It’s unwatchable.
Sci-Fighters (1996, dir. Peter Svatek, First Time Viewing)Direct to video sci-fi movie starring Roddy Piper as a futuristic cop tracking down an alien killer (a very creepy Billy Drago). It basically has the production values of a home movie, but that's ok because there is some creativity on display here. Roddy Piper is awesome because he can't help always being awesome. Pretty fun movie.
Godzilla: All Monsters Attack (aka: Godzilla's Revenge) (1969)When your 2 1/2 year old is plowing through your Godzilla collection, this one is special. He absolutely loved Godzilla Jr and this one is full of monster battles. My son is always very attentive to the creature battles, and this movie had him glued to the screen.I enjoy this one more thanks to my son, but I've always liked the endless barrage of creatures for Godzilla to smash through. At barely over an hour, this is a great entry point for young, burgeoning kaiju fans.
Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (1968)Japanese Alien Invasion/Space Vampire movie which I watched on the Criterion Channel. Think your last plane flight was bad? These folks have to deal with a bomb threat AND an assassin on their flight, a plane crash, and then get picked off by an alien that can parasitically turn a human into a bloodsucker with an unfortunate looking head-wound. Worse than flying [insert bad airline here]!
Man With the Screaming Brain (2005)I’m not much of a fan of the Sharknado school of intentional bad-movie-making, so this may have been the wrong choice for me. B-movie deity Bruce Campbell writes, directs, and stars as a wealthy industrialist and mega-douche who unwittingly becomes part of an experiment by a mad scientist (Stacy Keach, who at least seems to be having fun hamming it up) who connects part of his brain “like Lincoln Logs” with part of the brain of a criminal Russian cab driver. The procedure saves Campbell’s life, but also gives him a split personality.It’s all (purposefully) very silly and staggeringly cheap (at one point a person falls down a long flight of stairs and we follow the stunt dummy so closely that I’m surprised it didn’t get its own credit). I know they’re going for intentional camp but it just feels lazy, John Waters is absolutely correct about the fact that true camp can’t be created, it can only be found. There are a couple of chuckles along the way, mostly courtesy of Ted Raimi (natch) as Keach’s assistant, but for the most part it’s a one-joke premise that wears super thin. The whole purpose of this movie’s existence appears to be to take the possessed-hand gag from Evil Dead 2 and stretch it to feature length. Disappointing.
XTRO (1982) Dir. Dennis AthertonCause there's never a bad time to watch an alien bang a woman who then gives birth to a grown ass man. #XXXTRO
Dir. Dennis Atherton made me laugh out loud, good stuff.
Haha, nice ;)
Xtro I'm really tied up at the moment with someone in my family who is ill unfortunately so I'm sorry I'm not around much at the moment And today I got a lovely message from the wonderfull Chaybee saying he is watching Xtro for me for today This really made me smileMuch love to friends I have on hereHave a great monthI know Patrick will take good care of you all as always Love Xtroman
You take care of your loved one, Dennis. There will be plenty of future Junesploitations! (fingers crossed) for you to watch "Xtro" to our heart's content and tell us all about it. :-)
Hang in there Dennis. Cheers my friend.
Hope everything turns out ok Dennis
All the best through what must be a difficult time, Dennis.
Good seeing you pop in even if only for a bit this month Dennis.
Thank you for the lovely comments You guys are great
Great to hear from you, Dennis!
The Quartermass Xperiment (1955, dir. Val Guest)A pretty solid ‘50s sci/fi flick from Hammer! I admit it can feel slow at times, but what really makes up for it is the alien creature effects. It gets pretty shockingly gross and creepy and I was in for it. And I’m glad I’ve seen this now since Quartermass and the Pit is coming out from scream factory this year, and I’ve been dying to see it for so long. I feel prepared!
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Escape from Galaxy 3 (Giochi erotici nella terza galassia) (1981, dir. Bitto Albertini)Marketed in some regions as a sequel to StarCrash, but the only connection is it uses some of the footage from StarCrash's space battles. The space station shaped like a fist is easy to recognize. And I didn't realize this before watching, but the original Italian title translates as Erotic Games in the Third Galaxy...Not that there's much erotic games. The story has a space bad guy attacking and destroying all the space good guys, only two of them left alive. They escape and land on a post-apocalyptic Earth where people have reverted back to the stone age. There they learn about concepts new to them like love, sex, food and drink, which their society has "outgrown" millennia ago.An IMDb reviewer calls it "Later period Italian disco peplum Star Wars garbage, with nudity", which is pretty accurate.
"Serenity", 2005, Dir. Joss WhedonWhen I first watched this, I wasn't aware of "Firefly" and I remember thinking that I needed more of Captail Mal Reynolds and his motley crew of misfits. I rewatch the film and series every year and for a few brief moments, the world is a joyful place.I goram love this flick.
The Stuff (1985)This movie is FUUUUN. Long live the King, always.The Black Sleep (1956)Admittedly, this is more Sci/Fi adjacent. It's a Gothic 1950s mad scientist tale. It's a little like saying Get Out is science fiction movie, kinda. But with Basil Rathbone and Akim Tamiroff leading the cast, and with apprences from Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr, Davide Carridine and Tor Johnson I couldn't not help but push play, The movie is mostly dry, except when it's not and feels gnarly for a 1950s movie. And this has everything to do with it's cast of legendary supporting character actors.
The Black Sheep sounds so up my alley, and it wasn’t on my radar at all. Thanks Lindsay! Did you watch it streaming anywhere?
Amazon Prime. I hadn't come across it either.
Galaxy of Terror (1981)I was watching this marvelling at the production design. Oh wait, it's James Caron, explains everything. Though, seriously he was doing this kind of work in 1981!*!?!?!?It's a really great Corman Alien ripoff, complete with effective gore, maybe too effective sleaze and a poor man's Tom Slerritt, who I tend put in the plain mustache Prince of Darkness issue. But the rest of the cast is perfect. The moment Englund does a great Freddy smile is wonderful and creepy. And my partner and I were just happy to see Sid Haig and his throwing stars.Roger Corman is one of my favourite film makers, his movies are simple to the point, tend to have a great hook, and knew where to pinch, exploit or out right steak from the Zeitgeist, but also would let imagination and creativity flurish.
Star Trek Beyond (2016)"I like the beats and shouting."
Serenity (2019)It’s been described as “ambitious”. Charles Manson was “ambitious”, this is dogshit. I guess everyone deserves credit for not simply quitting in the middle when the predictable and preposterous turd of a twist is delivered. Maybe there is value in this on an ironic level but I couldn’t find it.
Outland (1981)Finally had a chance to watch a movie for Junesploitation!I haven't since Outland since...middle school? Hardly remembered it, but I've been meaning to re-watch it and I'm glad I got the excuse. The script isn't great. A lot of the dialogue is overwritten and the chain of evidence Connery's character follows to solve the mystery in the first half is a little sweaty. (Googling "who works in this mining facility and also has a drug charge on their record," as if prior experience was required to distribute drugs, is a little crazy. Also, a shit-hole mining colony on a moon of Jupiter only has TWO people with previous drug offenses? Out of over two thousand workers!? This mining colony aside, have they solved crime?) Other than that, though, it's pretty terrific. The actors are great across the board and this is the most vulnerable performance I can think of from Sean Connery. The production design is bananas (clearly riffing on Alien, but still), it builds tension well, the visuals are strong and the lighting is great, especially during the climax, when Hyams and Goldblatt forget about motivated lighting altogether in favor of beautiful, stylized western/noir lighting. And best of all, the stunt coordinator is named Alf Joint. So there's that.
Night of the Comet (1984)CATHERINE MARY STEWART AND KELLI MORONEY FOR TRUE DETECTIVE SEASON 4 YOU COWARDSStarman (1984)Karen Allen is the MVP of this movie. I love her.
Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)About 2 hours shorter than Seven Samurai and still manages to feel longer somehow.
Godzilla Final Wars (2004)Holy crap. This movie is insane. Godzilla's son? Check. Aliens? Check. Grizzled WW2 veteran dropping one liners in English while everyone else is speaking Japanese? Check. Moments when I question "wait, am I watching The Matrix?" ? Check . Phasers, spaceships, is this star trek? Check. Multiple landmarks from notable cities being destroyed? Check. Explosions? Many many explosions? Check. Check. Check. And then there are so many monsters. I don't know them all, but I can only imagine this is a Kaiju enthusiast's wet dream.I've truely reached peak Junesploitation tonight.
The WW2 vet was played by Don Frye? I wouldn't have thought this could get any better, but it just did. I knew I recognized him from somewhere.
Don Fyre the professional fighter and Freddie Mercury stache enthusiast?!?
Yes! THAT Don Frye! Everytime he was on screen I was stunned by the great moustache. I'm surprised I didn't put 2 and 2 together until seeing his name in the credits.
May have to check it out just for him.
Liquid Sky (1982)This is more of an experience than it is a movie. There is a flying saucer. There is cocaine and heroine. There's definitely androgyny. I think someone is watching. Never mind. That was a mirror. How much is too many? Do you know where I live? Am I safe here?
Tiny flying saucer*
Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)The oldest Criterion Blu-ray yet unwatched in my collection finally gets a spin courtesy of Junesploitation. This is a surprisingly fun boy’s adventure film that takes itself seriously and tries to get the science right. Adam West, still two years from Batman, shows up as the ship’s commander. I think Loony the Monkey in Amazon Women on the Moon was inspired by Mona the Wooly Monkey in this. Tons of fun.
Total Recall (1990, dir. Paul Verhoeven)I love that this movie was a big summer blockbuster because it’s super weird. One of my favorite Arnold movies. Paul Verhoeven should make more big sci fi.