Satanik (1968)

Satanik is one of the many Euro-crime movies to come out in the 60's. A category I generally enjoy because even when they're a bit slow or mediocre they have a stylish flair that belongs to this particular sub-genre. Satanik is based on the comic by Max Bunker who's most famous for doing Kriminal and Alan Ford. Kriminal was also made into a movie in 1968 directed by Umberto Lenzi. I always assumed it was a rip-off of Danger: Diabolik, and it probably is, but it certainly has a life of it's own. The Satanik comic is similar in flavor. The only difference, this super-kriminal is female.

A hideously deformed lady scientist is working on cell regeneration with an elderly scientist. He tells her the formula isn't ready. They've been experimenting on animals and the subjects have become extremely hostile after being given the treatment. Unable to cope with her appearance any longer she kills her fellow colleague and takes the solution. She wretches, gags and passes out, when she awakens she's been transformed into a drop dead gorgeous sex pot. After this point the movie kind of goes no where. She philanders around using her looks to steal money or at least have men throw money at her. Nothing really out of the ordinary about that. The only real difference from her and any run in the mill gold digger is that she requires medicine that keeps her from looking like the crusty old hag that she really is. Obviously with Jekyll/Hyde overtones. The idea is that when she's ugly she's "normal" and when she's beautiful she's wicked, but that doesn't make any sense. She did kill the other Scientist in order to get the solution in the first place. Magda Konopka is great in the leading role. She looks pretty disgusting in her old bag make-up and transforms into a sultry swan-like bombshell. The plot is pretty watered down. I can still dig it because I have no problem just enjoying retro clothes and atmosphere (although the quality of my copy left something to be desired) but I can see how it often being bulked with Diabolik, Killing, Kilink (the unauthorized Turkish Killing) , Kriminal and other masked thieves, could leave something to be desired. The poster art is a bit misleading. She only wears the famous costume in one scene and it's for a striptease. No sneaking around stealing diamonds here.

Is Satanik a bad movie? Not by my standards. It's not a shining example of Euro-Crime or even Super-Kriminal, but I still wouldn't write it off. It has an offbeat charm that only the sole lady-kriminal could offer and is certainly worth a look for devotees of retro Italian cinema.

Book Review: Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies

A Film Critic's Year-Long Quest To Find The Worst Movie Ever Made, by Michael Adams

Ahh, my first book review, and what a perfectly appropriate choice for this blog. My husband bought this on a whim when I dropped him off at the bookstore while I had to go run some boring wedding errands I didn't want to subject him to. When I picked him up he said this looked like something we'd both like and started reading it out loud to me. He was right. We both got so into it we've been reading it out loud to each other on and off in our spare time during all of this marriage bedlam. Writer Michael Adams uses a toy bingo machine to decide his bad movie fate for an entire year. This immediately reminded me of our process of elimination. "the hat game". Whenever Arthur and I can't decide what movie to watch we write down the contenders and pull them out of a hat. They may not all be intentionally bad, but chances are most of them are video age dreck. Searching for the worst movie ever made is a noble feat and for me personally it sounds like a lot of fun. It takes a lot of dedication to stick it out. As much as I revel in everything awful there are territories I don't tread. This book makes me feel like I could even brave Da Hip Hop Witch and Cool as Ice. I won't lie, this awesome book will probably effect my reviews for a while.

I enjoyed reading his thoughts on the movies I had seen, but there were still quite a few that were foreign to me and his musings, no matter what the verdict was, were funny and honest. Mixed with anecdotes about trying to accomplish this goal while maintaining a balance of work and family. It's an engaging and relatable book to any cinephile with questionable taste. Interestingly, while writing the book he was the co-host of "The Movie Show" where he's forced to share his opinion on new releases. I imagine watching Bratz: the Movie (or something equally hideous) at work and coming home to suffer through a Uli Lommel marathon could feel like self induced torment.

The interviews with celebrities were educational. My favorite quote is from Mike Nelson of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fame. "A lot of people say, 'What's the worst movie ever made?' The worst movie ever made, you wouldn't want to watch: it's boring.", when describing the difference between truly bad boring movies and the hilarity that is, his favorite (and one of mine), Roadhouse. Which is really where the bad movie road splits down the middle. Nobody likes boring movies, but any cult fanatic worth their salt wants to see how bad something can be and still be entertaining. It seems like Michael Adams had his fair share of both and for this brave attempt I salute him. Of course there really isn't a definite answer, I've seen many horrible movies that I hate equally and many wonderful movies that some consider unwatchable garbage. It's the thrill of the hunt and a love/hate relationship with these disasterpieces that makes it all worth it. So if you want some great recommendations to lovingly annihilate with a group of friends or just want to know what to avoid, Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies is a perfect place to start.
click here to read Movies So Bad They're Unmissable by Michael Adams


Back to Normal...sort of?

Ok, well now that all that is over. I'm officially an old married woman and happy to have it all behind me. Everything was lovely, it was wonderful seeing everyone now I couldn't be happier for things to go back to normal. Kind of. As I mentioned, now we have to prepare for our move to Los Angeles just a few weeks away. I've always been terrible at planning moves and trips so as you can imagine about 90 % of the house in unpacked. I'm trying not to worry too much.  Everything will fall into place just in the nick of time. Although getting right to work packing and organizing would be wise I've spent most of these past few days catching up on sleep and lounging around grazing on wedding leftovers. Not very glamorous but much more comfortable and appealing than the New Orleans Honeymoon we had planned after the hellaciously stressful and exhausting week leading up to the big day. It didn't help that amidst all of this chaos I had to entertain guests. Needless to say my movie watching has most definitely suffered. But I've managed to pepper a few in here and there so this post will serve as both an update and overview on what's been going on.

Lifetime is an untapped resource of genre movies.

For some reason various Lifetime movies had been getting brought up in conversations a few weeks back. I was telling my then fiance about two I remembered seeing when I was a kid that I recalled being pretty fun. One I couldn't remember the title of, but thanks to my friend Mark over at Soiled Sinema, he somehow unearthed the forgettable title "Someone is Watching" out of thin air based on my vague description. I remembered that a creepy man had built an underground tunnel from his basement to the closet of the little boy next door. The boy was talking to him at night, when he'd tell his mother about his "friend" she assumed he was imaginary. I seem to remember it having a weak ending, but the synopsis alone was enough to freak out my tween self. Thanks to Mark I now know that when I decide to make the leap I can get this from Amazon for a mere .74 cents. The other movie was much more memorable and starred one of my favorite people to dislike, Tori Spelling in Co-ed Call Girl. I remembered this movie being so tacky and lame that even in my youth I could see it's camp value. A nerdy pre-med school girl gets manipulated into a call girl service. She goes from overalls and giant flannel shirts to whore-ish skank garb in about 5 seconds. I had promised myself that I wouldn't accept any more trades on Ioffer until after I moved but when someone made me an offer for My Mom's a Werewolf and I noticed she had nothing but Lifetime movies I couldn't help but check. Sure enough, the made for tv embarrassment was there and I accepted the trade. Not realizing at the time that Susan Blakely plays the Mom in both movies, which adds to the irony/strange timing of this whole transaction.

While I was waiting for it to arrive this wasn't my only experience with Lifetime original movies. I had to do some work at my Mom's house to prepare for the reception. There was a lot of painting to do, Arthur and I had forgotten to bring music and I really didn't feel like listening to the Seal cd my Mom has been playing on repeat for weeks now. So I opted for the TV. We ended up watching the 1958 version of the Fly for the first time. Wow, what an epic classic! We ultimately put down our paint brushes and all got involved in the movie. Even my Mom who's never really been into horror, especially classic horror. Unexpectedly it actually creeped me out a little bit. Much like the Tingler, I expected to admire it's craftsmanship but didn't expect the terror it ultimately delivers. That my friends, is the calling card of a timeless classic. Shame on me for waiting this long to see it.

Unfortunately the TV didn't have much else to offer on this particular day. After the Fly I channel surfed until I saw a ridiculous title that I couldn't help but check out. The Pregnancy Pact. Oh dear. It didn't take me long to realize that this atrocity was featured on none other than the channel of the week, Lifetime. It starred Thora Birch as a reporter trying to figure out why there is an epidemic of teen pregnancies in a particular town. It was truly terrible. Sappy crappy annoying bullshit. The teens in this movie are unlike any I've ever encountered which makes it hard to believe this was actually based on a true story. What the fuck is wrong this these retards? They make a conscious effort to get knocked up at the same time. This is pretty good example of what makes Lifetime such tasteless garbage. They attempt to make sociologically relevant movies but all they ever accomplish is churning out exploitive trash. Sure, they can't all be winners, and I probably could have lived without seeing this one. But I've been getting a lot of signs from the shitty-womens-television-gods saying that its high time I tap into this particularly asinine part of made-for-TV history, track down the good, the bad and the worthless and review some of this schlock! Think about it. What are the primary subject matters of Lifetime movies. Romance...? No, not really. Try rape, violence, drugs, and fucktard teenagers doing fucktard things.

And on that note, a few days later I received Co-ed Call Girl in the mail. I tried hiding my excitement from Arthur but he knew that I wanted nothing more than to lock myself in the bedroom with my shitty Tori Spelling movie. It's like it's 1996 all over again! I won't lie though, it wasn't quite what I remembered. The images of her getting screwed in a pool were obviously my wanting this movie to be Showgirls. Alas, it was still awkward and trashy. I love looking at all of her mid-90's hooker attire. Spelling is such an odd looking bird. Mother nature was not kind to her, but thankfully her rich daddy was. Co-ed Call Girl was much more scandalous when I first saw it at age 11, now it's a bit fluffy but still a great example of tacky awkwardness. It has a true essence of cheese. Maybe some day an auteur filmmaker can buy the rights to some of these terrible Lifetime movies that show some kind of promise, edit in sex scenes with body doubles and create a hybrid of cult movies!

For some reason apart of me worried that Co-ed Call Girl would be the last movie I saw as a "bachelorette". I view movies very sentimentally and I associate them with times in my life. But thankfully the spirit of Al Adamson smiled down at me (or up at me, whatever) and a truly remarkable thing happened. The night before our wedding we weren't partying with the guys or gals. Completely exhausted from cleaning, painting, shopping, going to the tailor, and running various wedding related errands we landed a few hours before bedtime to watch a cult classic. Satan's Sadists.

Ok, so maybe "remarkable" isn't the word, but considering how long it had been since I'd seen a movie on my wavelength it was nice to be able to relax and watch something wild and fun. In a sense it was as if we got to have our own little bachelor party with the likes of Russ Tamblyn as "Anchor" and his band of outlaw rejects. I can see why it's considered one of the best biker-sploitation movies ever (and respectively one of the worst). Tamblyn's mother said that it killed his career, but I disagree. I think it may be one of the strongest roles in his entire career, and I was already a big fan of his. His ruthless insanity couldn't have been pulled off by just anyone. It is in my opinion Tamblyn's most iconic role. I was also impressed with Regina Carrol (Adamson's real life wife) as "Gina" the used up biker bitch who was treated like nothing more than the community cum dumpster. A depressing character, but it's a depraved movie and I found myself feeling for her and saddened by her reaction to Anchor's rejection. Also couldn't help but wonder if Cassandra (Elvira) Peterson's cameo in Pee Wee's Big Adventure as the biker babe is a nod the that character. Especially since Cassandra's line is almost verbatim to one of Regina Carrol's. Something like "I say you let me have him first!" when the tough guy bikers are trying to decide how to kill a cop (or...Pee Wee Herman).

Yes, I was more than pleased for thoughts of bikes and bimbos to be hanging out in the back of my mind while gussying up for my big day. So what was our first movie as a married couple? Feeling stir crazy the day after the wedding, we'd caught a second wind and didn't feel like doing much of anything so we caught the last showing of Machete.

Verdict: pretty good. Though to be honest after such an intense waiting period I expected a little more. Obviously the whole Grindhouse sensation signified a tongue in cheek throw back. The trailer for Machete was especially appealing because it represented a type of over the top action movie that has all but snuffed out completely. What I wanted from Machete was mindless ass kicking by the hand of Danny Trejo. A tiny plot to string together scenes of senseless violence but not putting much importance on the story. What we actually got was a plot heavy rush job. Great start, decent finish, but that whole middle period lagged big time, and who's to blame? Jessica Alba. Well, really whoever wrote Jessica Alba's part. That police sub-plot really made the movie feel more sluggish than it should have. A sex object is fine and there was lots of sex, and it was good! But that romance jargon is the fastest way to kill my action movie boner. I was perfectly content with Michelle Rodriguez and her hot iconic glory, and I'd be lying if I said Lindsay Lohan as the drug addicted skank webcam porn avenging nun wasn't totally awesome and worthy of her being absolved of all of her suckery. Lest we forget Jeff Fahey. Oh how I love Jeff Fahey. Is it just me or is he getting sexier with age? But Danny Trejo is the real star here and truth be told there just wasn't enough of him. He's been acting for 30 years and has had to play second banana and ugly henchmen goons for his entire career, finally the man gets a leading role and it's just not enough. I get it, he gets the hot girl, it's apart of the formula. But the movie was really about HIM, and HE is what the people want to see. Still fun and violent and all that good stuff. Worth a look.

Other than that we've only really watched one other movie. Post-Wedding/Machete, we're groggy and recovering from a hangover that would last for days we decided to pick a random video from our endless stack of unwatched crap. We ended up picking Escapes, an atrocious anthology movie featuring old man Vincent Price. The cover boasts as him being the star but the slow moving shot on video results make me think the entire budget must have gone to the 5 minutes of screen time Price performed. The five stories they try to cram into 72 minutes range from 3 minutes to 15 all of which seems too long. Dragging out scenes for 5 and 10 minutes that could have been summed up in 20 seconds. I found myself getting really tired watching this. Maybe I should blame the hangover for that, but if there's anything I have a low tolerance for it's a boring movie. For that reason I understand why Escapes has never made it to DVD. It tries to be a Twlight Zone meets Amazing Stories, but the stories just aren't good. The dialogue is repetitive, the costumes and effects are non-existent and it's full of continuity errors. No thanky.

So that pretty much brings us up to date. Even with the move a few weeks away I'm sure I'll be able to make more time for movie watching/reviewing that the past few weeks. I'm still anxious to see Spermula and it looks like I have a copy of Haseena Atom Bomb arriving any day now.

Until then! <3