Friday, July 5, 2024

Notes on Film: Junesploitation Ranking

by Anthony King
One more for the road.

Last week I said I was hanging up this column till next year. Well, I lied. Movies aren't movies unless you rank them, right? I watched 30 official Junesploitation entries. But since it was the greatest time of the year, there were eight other exploitation movies that could've slotted in any number of categories. Those movies include: Syndicate Sadists (1975), Ghosthouse (1988), Hitcher in the Dark (1989), One Crazy Summer (1986), Pearl (2022), Manhunter (1986), Psycho (1960), and The Mutilator (1984). Of the 30 official entries, I liked all but three (gave a heart on Letterboxd) with an average rating of 3.1 stars per film (that's a pretty good average for a bunch of sleaze). Twenty-nine of them were discoveries (new to me) with four of them ending up on my early discoveries of the year list. Here, then, is my ranking of my Junesploitation.

30. Beach House (1982, dir. John A. Gallagher) – Beach!
A “good for them for making their thing” type of movie! Otherwise very bad.
29. Cocaine Wars (1985, dir. Hector Olivera) – New Horizons!
Considering the title there's too much mustachioed romance and not enough warring going on.

28. The Italian Job (2003, dir. F. Gary Gray) – Cars!
I should've left it as a positive memory. My hatred of Wahlberg and Norton grows.

27. Shark (1969, dir. Samuel Fuller) – Sharksploitation!
Scuba diving Burt gets wrapped up in a surprisingly boring plot.
26. Schizo (1976, dir. Pete Walker) – Slashers!
Leave it to the British to make a schizophrenic axe-wielding going around killing people kind of a dud.

25. Nightmares (1980, dir. John D. Lamond) – Ozploitation!
Watch Soavi's Stage Fright for a superior version of this story.

24. El Puro (1969, dir. Edoardo Mulargia) – Revenge!
An interesting spaghetti western take on the reluctant gunfighter tale.

23. Gamera, the Giant Monster (1965, dir. Noriaki Yuasa) – Kaiju!
It's not Godzilla but it seems a lot more cuddly.

22. Little Godfather from Hong Kong (1975, dir. Ng See-Yuen) – Brucesploitation!
About as good as one of these can get. The lesson is don't go to Hollywood (Rome).

21. Fear Is the Key (1972, dir. Michael Tuchner) – Free Space!
Vanishing Point Part. This time Kowalski drives a car AND assaults people.

20. Black Mama, White Mama (1973, dir. Eddie Romero) – AIP!
Part WIP, part road movie, part revolutionary movie, all Pam Grier.

19. Four of the Apocalypse (1975, dir. Lucio Fulci) – Fulci!
The last big Fulci on my list. Now to dig into the unknown.
18. Close Range (2015, dir. Isaac Florentine) – Vigilantes!
Adkins versus the cartel in a take on Rio Bravo. What more could you ask for?

17. The Guyver (1991, dirs. Screaming Mad George, Steve Wang) – Free Space!
The best rubber suits you'll ever see.

16. Toys Are Not for Children (1972, dir. Stanley H. Brassloff) – Free Space!
Daddy Issues: The Movie. It's weird. It's gross. It's Junesploitation, kid!

15. Night of the Werewolf (1981, dir. Paul Naschy) – Paul Naschy!
I'm just as shocked as you are that a Naschy made it this high on the list.

14. The Five Venoms (1978, dir. Chang Cheh) – Kung Fu!
Not my favorite Shaw Bros. but it gets the job done.

13. Go For Broke (1968, dir. Umberto Lenzi) – Westerns!
Lenzi doing a western is just as good as Lenzi doing a giallo.

12. Wing Chun (1994, dir. Woo-Ping Yuen) 90s Action!
It's magical and funny and charming and I hope Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh live a long and happy life together.

11. Sugar Hill (1974, dir. Paul Maslansky) – Blaxploitation!
Lady pimps voodoo zombies. As awesome as it sounds.

10. The Norliss Tapes (1973, dir. Dan Curtis) – Zombies!
It only made me wish we still got TV movies like this on a regular basis.

9. The Wild Angels (1966, dir. Roger Corman) – Roger Corman Tribute!
More existential than I was expecting, but then again, it's Peter Fonda on a motorcycle.
8. Cannibal Apocalypse (1980, dir. Antonio Margheriti) – Italian Horror!
More PTSD drama than horror, but it has all the Italian horror staples needed for a horror.

7. From Beyond (1986, dir. Stuart Gordon) – 80s Horror!
Crampton covered in goo. What dreams are made of.

6. Brothers Till We Die (1977, dir. Umberto Lenzi) – Gangsters!
Millian with a hunchback killing cops and gangsters. Incredible hair in this movie.

5. Silent Scream (1979, dir. Denny Harris) – Barbara Steele!
I want to live in a seaside manor with Barbara Steele living in a hidden room.
4. Truck Turner (1974, dir. Jonathan Kaplan) – Free Space!
Mac Turner > John Shaft.

3. Ichi the Killer (2001, dir. Takashi Miike) – 2000s Action!
My butthole jumped into my throat at least four times while watching this movie.

2. Hickey & Boggs (1972, dir. Robert Culp) – Buddy Cops!
It's the cynical '70s. It's the cynical Freebie and the Bean.
1. Tuff Turf (1985, dir. Fritz Kiersch) – New World!
The most unexpected watch of the month. I was not expecting to love this movie as much as I did. A coming of age-high school gang-musical that doubles up on the violence.

Like I said last week, this was my most successful Junesploitation to date. NOW it's time to hang this column up until next year.

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