Thursday, June 15, 2023

Junesploitation 2023 Day 15: Rip-Offs!




    Beating the release of Alicia Vikander's "Tomb Raider" reboot by a whole week in March of '18, this isn't the dumpster fire I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, it's still a cheap-as-fuck disposable Asylum joint. But I've seen much worse, and this time it seems Asylum was actually trying to create something watchable. Heck, I'd rather rewatch this than either the '18 "TR" or the Angelina Jolie ones. Gina Vitori's Alabama 'Ally' Channing (barf!) makes a likable hero that looks the firearms-free, unlicensed Lara Croft part (sexy tank top) but can also act tough, show emotion when someone in her team bites it and kick butt better than 'Nathan Carter' (Andrew Katers), the "Uncharted"-wannabe partner that helps/obstructs Ally depending on the filmmakers' whim the day of filming. Story/McGuffin/supporting characters are unimportant. See "Tomb Invaders" (if you even feel like wasting 80 minutes of your life you're never getting back) solely to hang out with lovely Gina Vitori. 2.85 PRIVATE JETS PARKED NEXT TO THE BIG WALL OF CHINA (out of 5).


    Beating Samuel L. 'Mother Effer' Jackson's "Snakes On A Plain" by three days in August of '06 (has it really been 17 YEARS since that came out? :'( ), this is bottom-of-the-barrel Asylum as far as delivering any entertainment value. How can these filmmakers screw-up so bad they introduce a nice young couple with their little kid and you end up not caring when they're attacked/mauled by giant snakes (the parents) or eaten alive by one (the little girl)? By making every other character aboard this doomed train from El Paso to Los Angeles super unlikable (the hitman and the corrupt cop), unrelatable (the chicks, the rapey hobos) or just plain boring to even look at (the ticket agent). From a female drug mule that appeases her handler by getting topless (gross!) to a couple of illegal immigrants (A.J. Castro and Julia Ruiz) so concerned with finding a cure for a snake-growing-within-her-body curse they endanger everyone else without concern, there's nobody worth rooting for or even giving the tiniest damn about. The ending goes so batshit over-the-top insane (bad '06 cheapo CG effects machine cranked up to "Anaconda"!) it should be amusing, but it's just the final exclamation point to a 91 minutes-long insult. 1 "AIRPLANE!" 'WHITE/RED LINE' REFERENCE (out of 5), worst "J!" so far.

    BONUS: THE BEES (1978, TUBI).

    A Mexican cash-in of Irwin Allen's "The Swarm"? Hooray! IMDB trivia (which is always 100% accurate :-P) says Warner paid the distributors to delay this feature by several months after "The Swarm's" July '78 theatrical release so that its "Armaggedon"-sized notoriety wouldn't have to compete with "The Bees'" "Deep Impact"-like gumption. Despite both having the same basic premise (African bees are attacking U.S. population centers with movie killer-style suddenness/stealth), "The Bees" consistently shows coast-to-coast bee attacks while "The Swarm" wallows in the scientists-vs-military shouting matches. Kids and a blind man in a park (with people casually walking in the background)? An airplane overcome with bees at a New York airport (where all the signs are in Spanish :-D)? Beachgoers caught topless? A Brazilian bee farm becoming a raging inferno? A little girl wondering into a cave of bees? All that PLUS stock footage of Gerald Ford at the Rose Parade (the fuck?) and army gear trying to fight the bees (in Vietnam?) as civilians flee Philadelphia, San Diego, New York, etc.

    Naturally there has to be a government conspiracy behind this because, well, it's the 70's. Did I mention John Saxon plays a good guy as one of three scientists trying to save the world? Or that EVERY SINGLE CLOSE-UP of John Carradine is a LOL-worthy meme? The Asylum flicks were rip-off dumps, but this 'B' movie rules (wink, wink, get it? :-P). 4.5 JIMMY CARTER IMPERSONATORS (out of 5).

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. SSSHHH! Spoiler alert! 😱😅🥹

    3. (Spoiler free comment!) I am amazed that any of the actors could keep a straight face throughout The Bees. John Saxon's speech is one of the most humorous scenes I can recall from any film

  2. ROBOWAR (1988, dir. Bruno Mattei as Vincent Dawn)

    Reb Brown ain’t no Schwarzenegger, but he does Reb Brown well. PREDATOR is one of the big films from my childhood, and I remember every beat of it to this day. That is what makes a mediocre rip-off of it so amusing to me. It also makes me appreciate more how well Predator was put together. When Robowar gets to the scenes that are taken straight from the original, I was chuckling. Robowar is not a terrible ‘80s Italian action film, especially by Mattei’s standards. The low budget is evident everywhere in the film, but it does not take a lot of money to blow things up. That is one thing this does well. Pacing is not handled so well, particularly in the middle stretch. Robowar also takes “inspiration” from another 1980s action film, something that lent the conclusion some necessary surprises. You can do much worse than this rip-off today. Robowar and other Mattei rip-offs are plentiful on Tubi.

    This reminds me that, for my first Junesploitation participation back in 2017, I watched Strike Commando, the Mattei rip-off of the second Rambo film. It is funny how the time goes by.

  3. Death Kiss (2018, dir. Rene Perez)

    A cheap Death Wish knock-off about an elderly vigilante (Robert Bronzi) killing drug dealers, pimps and mobsters, while acting as a guardian angel to a single mom and her wheelchair-bound daughter. Meanwhile, an obnoxious radio host (Daniel Baldwin) spews crazy, over-the-top, racist right-wing tirades on the air.

    The interesting thing about this movie is its lead actor Robert Kovacs a.k.a. Robert Bronzi. He's a Hungarian actor who director Rene Perez discovered and brought to America to star in his cheap action films, not for his acting ability but because he looks exactly like the late Charles Bronson. I mean, look at him!

    In the best ("best" should probably be in quotes) scene of the movie, the vigilante rescues a woman from gang rape, then forces the traumatized victim to shoot one of the would-be rapists so she can't report the vigilante to the cops without implicating herself!

    Every frame of the movie has that cheap, desaturated look, the script's boilerplate, the acting wooden, the action badly directed, and the oneliners groan-inducing. Perfect for Rip-offs day!

  4. I decided to watch Black Emanuelle (1975, dir. Joe Bitto Albertini) which was an Italian rip-off of the er0tic Emmanuelle films. There's a very beautiful photo-journalist who visits Kenya for reasons, and ends up getting into many sAxual escapades. This is just softcore bonography, with the odd flash of outright explicit stuff. It was filmed on location in Kenya and does have some nice scenery. Unfortunately there's non-consensual scene at the end involving a entire soccer team. Come on movie, you were doing so well. Consent is sAxy, but that wasn't. Otherwise, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would.

    1. I had to censor some stuff (unlike the movie), to get it to post.

    2. I know what you mean about Blogger being difficult when discussing this kind of cinema.

      I have a box set of those films arriving sometime soon from Severin. I know the series (a very loose series at that) well, and the extras really interest me. The films are what they are, with the lack of consent a bigger part of some of the later entries. I do find the ones that follow the original to be more entertaining. Though Joe D'Amato was sometimes an awful schlockmeister, I still enjoy his films. I am looking forward to the documentary about him that is in the set.

  5. King Solomon's Mines (1985)

    Is this Cannon Group film a shameless rip-off of the Indiana Jones series?

    Well, let me turn on Tubi and see...

    And, less than 60 seconds in, there's John Rhys-Davies - Sallah in Raiders of the Lost Ark!

    One could argue that it's not just trying to be Indy. Sure, the Allan Quatermain novels were 100 years old and public-domain fodder for many film adaptations. Yes, these kinds of films were all the rage - Romancing the Stone made over $100 million. And, of course, they're all just ripping off those early cinema serials anyway.

    But when, as Austin Trunick's Cannon Film Guide Volume II: 1985-1987 puts it, "Cannon had the gall to use John Williams' famous Raiders of the Lost Ark score as placeholder music when they showed off an reel at Cannes," well, there's no doubt.

    Just Cannon being Cannon.

  6. No Contest (1995, dir. Paul Lynch)

    Went with a Die Hard rip-off: Die Hard at a Beauty Pageant. Andrew Dice Clay takes over a hotel holding a beauty pageant and holds the contestants for ransom. The host of the show, Shannon Tweed in the John McClane role, decides to fight back. This blatantly followed all the beats of Die Hard, but I still really enjoyed it. The DiceMan is really good playing the villain straightforward and menacing, mainly shying away from utilizing his persona. Bonus points for casting Rowdy Roddy Piper as the lead henchman: Ice. Highly Recommended.

    1. Damn, that would have been a great pick for Shannon Tweed day last year.

  7. Piranha (1978)

    I hope it’s not too disrespectful to Joe Dante and/or against the spirit of the category, but I really wanted to use the opportunity to watch this instead of something more disreputable or more... Italian.

    The OG Jaws rip-off is a campy, bloody romp that doesn’t hold any punches, gleefully increasing the bodycount whenever it has a chance. What I found funny is that it features not one but multiple Mayor of Amity type characters who keep trying to cover up the threat and in result only enable further bloodshed, which of course adds to the overall sarcastic tone of the movie. And what about the little mutant creature lurking in the one scene at the lab? I want a movie about this guy!

  8. Lady Terminator - 1989, dir. H. Tjut Djalil

    This is hands down my favorite rip-off movie of all time. ‘Cruel Jaws’, ‘Shocking Dark’, and ‘RoboWar’ ain’t got shit on this shamelessly insano, gender-swapped, unstoppable mistress of murder. Imagine if you will, Big Jim Cameron’s 1984 classic ‘The Terminator’, except Arnie is no longer a future robo-assassin and instead a sexy anthropology student who gets cursed by the Queen of the South Seas via magical vagina snake dagger. Still with me? Cool, now just play out all the major beats of ‘The Terminator’.

    The recreations of the various set pieces and action sequences feels lovingly sweded by the truest of fans, with maximum effort and no visible irony. The pure audacity and chaos that ensues is the truest instance of where you laugh-out-loud but can’t help to fist pump at the same time. I hosted a group viewing of this during college and it was easily the most tear-the-roof-off fun we had that year.

    This is maybe one of the most prime cut, weirdo shit show movies left that hasn’t gotten the HD remaster treatment by a boutique label. Seriously, this has Severin and Vinegar Syndrome written all over it and we need it yesterday.

    1. Mondo Macabro has had the DVD rights for a long time. Maybe a blu-ray is in the works.

    2. I watched this one too! Man it's all over the place... It's got so much on top of what you mentioned: bad dialog, weird minor characters, unending clips of bullets, terrible looking cars... It's a great bad movie, even without the icing of being a rip-off!

    3. *Helicopter explodes
      poorly dubbed mullet meat brick - “Tub! My buddy…”

  9. Kötü Tohum (1963).

    Directed and written by Nevzat Pesen, this is based on the stage play by Maxwell Anderson and, of course, the incredible Mervyn LeRoy-directed 1956 movie. Rhoda and her mother Christine Penmark are played by actual daughter and mother Alev and Lale Oraloğlu, which adds to the drama of the story. And it stays closer to the play yet keeps the moralistic ending of the American film. Rhoda’s name is Alev, just like the actress playing her.

    The major differences? Well, unlike the 1956 version, you actually get to see Claude Daigle — Cemel — get murdered, which is a shock. And while the class struggle is a subtext in LeRoy’s movie, the differences between the Penmarks and Mrs. Daigle’s role (Nedret Güvenç) seem even more pronounced. Poor Cemel, not only does he have to be wiped out, but he actually has a crush on Alev/Rhoda. Trust me, I’ve been there, little Cemel, mean girls are just so much forbidden quince. Or grapes, Turkey is known for both those fruits for this pun.

    While most Turkish cinema of the time focused on comedy and drama, this outright horror story of a young girl obsessed with getting what she wants by any means necessary had to blow minds. Keeping with Turkish cinema’s disregard of copyright law when it comes to music, it also has moments of “Maria” from West Side Story.

    I also dug the scene between Alev/Rhoda and the Leroy character, played between a toy train, as he informs her that he knows that she’s a bad little girl.

    This needs to somehow be released on blu ray because much like other foreign versions of classic films,it allows you to see a movie that you worship in a whole new light when seen through another set of eyes.

  10. New-to-me: MESSAGE FROM SPACE (1978)
    How have I never seen this before? Of all the STAR WARS rip-offs of the late 70s/early 80s, this has to be one of the most unashamedly STAR WARS-ish. Lucasfilm probably wasn't happy, but it's great for kids chasing the next SW high. The story is near incomprehensible plucky rebels vs. evil empire stuff, but it has all the model ships and blue lasers you want from something like this. I see that this was spun off into a TV series that's easily found on streaming, so I might check it out.

    Old fave: THE BLACK HOLE (1979)
    Speaking of chasing the STAR WARS high, I was all about THE BLACK HOLE. I had BLACK HOLE toys, books, comics and so on. Rewatching the movie this morning, it still plays on a level of pure spectacle, but there's not a lot of personality. Robert Forster, Anthony Perkins and Ernest Borgnine all play the same generic scientist-adventurer type, and they probably could have been combined into one character. The comic relief robot Vincent is played as a snobby intellectual, which isn't all that endearing. But the effects and set design are so good, they carry the movie across the finish line.

    1. Message from Space sounds great! I'll add it to my Junesploitation watchlist.

      I never saw The Black Hole as a kid, although I would have probably loved it. Still haven't watched it to this day . I'm surprised that Disney hasn't remade it by this point.

  11. CHAOS (2005, d. David DeFalco)
    Rewatch on Dark Force BluRay, still 6/10.
    I'm not sure where I think I saw DeFalco & producer Bernheim saying something about this film NOT being a remake (rip-off) of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, but I can't shake the memory. In any event, this despised nasty is not on my list of movies to regularly rewatch because it's pretty darned vile. Without a ton of gore, CHAOS presents Kevin Gage, evoking an evil Ted Levine & zero scruples. It's tempting to point out the weak or amateur points, but this time around I found the villains to be strong, matched by effective agony from their victims. The ending is insane & the movie is over at 68 minutes, followed by 8 minutes of end credits.
    A ton of mean-spirited flicks have been made, particularly over the last 20 years (according to LBXd's listing, just under 37% of all horror movies were made in the 2010s), & I don't often seek them out. I usually find them more aggravating or tedious in what they choose to revel in. For better or worse, CHAOS (aka THE DEADLY HOSTAGE) is, in my book, one of the better worse ones.

  12. ABBY (1974, d/ William Girdler)
    Rewatch on CineFear Releasing DVD, still 9/10.
    I only managed the first third before bedtime, but this is such a favorite of mine. William 'King of Cartoons' Marshall accidentally unleashes a Nigerian demon on his daughter-in-law, Carol Speed. Can Speed's brother, Austin Stoker, help?
    From the mode of transmission to the exorcism, I think ABBY makes more sense that Friedkin's classic.

  13. Titanic 666 (2022)

    A Tubi original. This is not good...but it's also not completely awful?

    A whole bunch of the plot is about how profiting off tragedy is horrible...which is basically what this movie is doing so there's that.

    A lot of totally awesome graphics *not totally awesome*

  14. SATURDAY THE 14TH (1981)
    Found this on Tubi, and felt it appropriate since I started Junesploitation this year with the original Friday. It has a few fun moments, but was otherwise pretty bad and forgettable.

  15. ROAD WARS (2015)
    dir. Mark Atkins

    What if we ripped off Mad Max 2 (including a sawed-off shotgun and booby-trapped gas tank) but added a vampire-zombie-virus, and then cast people who wouldn’t make the cut in a Corky St. Clair play? Why do I keep giving Asylum movies a chance? (The flamethrower truck was cool tho.) So ammo and water are scarred but guzzoline is plentiful? Makes sense.

    “And who’s gonna have your back, Papa Smurf? I don’t think so. I’m here to whoop some ass.”

  16. Grizzly (1976)

    So it's not as good as Jaws...

    I did get a kick out of every time a bear paw swipe cleanly severed a limb or head. Aside from that, the plot is sort of aimless and the characters are bland. After camping in the woods with these dopes, I'm ready to get back on a not-big-enough boat and sing drunken sailor tunes.

  17. I didnt know what to watch, so I "ripped off" someones ripoff.

    King Solomons Mines (1985)

    This was pretty bad, very racist, sexist, but at least they were killing nazis I guess. And at the end they steal stuff that doesnt belong to them, much like actual Indy seems to do.