Posts tagged "awful science"

Aventura al Centro de la Tierra (Review)

Aventura al Centro de la Tierra

aka Adventure at the Center of the Earth
Aventuras al centro de la tierra Adventure at the Center of the Earth
1965
Written by José María Fernández Unsáin (as J.M. Fernandez U.)
Directed by Alfredo B. Crevenna

Hug time!

The mysterious center of the planet Earth has been a tantalizing source of speculative fiction for decades, until a bunch of eggheads determined it’s all magma and rocks. But screw those eggheads, because we’re still about journeying to mysterious underground civilizations. The concept is so universal that even Mexico has an entry, which not only brings to mind the many dryly boring 1950s adventure romps, but even uses stock footage from some of them. Aventura al Centro de la Tierra (Adventure at the Center of the Earth) even has its own boring old professor guys who are twenty years and twenty pounds to late to be trekking around to parts unknown. Luckily they bring guns and all sorts of modern violence on this quest, because it’s full of monsters.

Aventuras al centro de la tierra Adventure at the Center of the Earth

Hey, I’m a lizard with crap glued to my head! And you think you have a bad job…


First, let’s give Aventura al Centro de la Tierra a giant “FUCK YOU!” for the terrible real animal cruelty in one scene. A pit of snakes have a bucket of gasoline thrown on them and are set alight. I’m no big snake fan, but I’m definitely not a big fan of killing animals for a dumb film about a bat creature that wants to score with a hot babe. They also include that classic clip of the crocodile with a fin on its back battling the gila monster that’s in like four or five other films. BOOOOOOOOO!! to that as well. They even sort of reference it with iguanas with horns and crap glued to them that can be seen in the cave.

The real reason to watch Aventura al Centro de la Tierra isn’t all the terrible stuff I’ve been mentioning, but the creature costumes. There is a rather well constructed manbat creature, complete with giant wings and sort of human intelligence and lusts. Despite going on a murder spree, he realizes Kitty de Hoyos is far too attractive to just rip her neck open, and takes her back to his lair to try to woo with bat guts and live rats. The ManBat was joined by a Cyclops, who is also responsible for some of the bodycount in the film, but he’s gunned down rather spectacularly (efforts to drug him end with an impaled Cyclops!)

On the way, the film borrows from classic horror films. Underwater sequences bring to mind similar underwater scenes in Creature of the Black Lagoon. The entire going to the center of the Earth thing is borrowed from so many pulp novels, Jules Verne being the most famous. The ManBat acts like many monsters with crushes by trying to impress the lady he kidnaps (and carries in the required monster carried a lady pose!) Alfredo B. Crevenna would go on to direct Gigantes Planetarios, El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras, and Santo Contra la Invasion de los Marcianos

Aventuras al centro de la tierra Adventure at the Center of the Earth

Ladies and blacks, get out!


Professor Díaz (José Elías Moreno) – Lead professor guy who drags everyone into the caves and speaks all grand pronouncements while doing nothing except shooting and destroying everything he finds. Science!
Hilda Ramírez (Kitty de Hoyos) – An assistant professor who gets brought on the expidetion despite being left at camp almost all the time thanks to Professor Díaz. Likes to take pictures of the dark, which comes in handy when the pictures show eyes watching her. Is kidnapped by ManBat.
Dr. Peña (Carlos Cortés as Carlos Cortez) – A doctor brought along in case people are hurt. Becomes the love interest of Hilda despite being the least developed of the main characters.
Jaime Rocha (David Reynoso), Dr. Laura Ponce (Columba Domínguez), and Dr. Manuel Ruiz (Javier Solís) – Jaime Rocha is a big game hunter brought in to shoot whatever monster is rumored to be killing people in the cave. Dr. Laura Ponce is a geologist needed because caves are made of rocks. Dr. Ruiz is a writer who gets added to the group because they needed another guy with an advanced degree. Dr. Ruiz and Dr. Ponce like each other, but Ponce becomes greedy upon finding diamonds, while Ruiz wants to inform the government. Rocha overhears and kills Ruiz to cash in on the wealth, but Ponce says she’s going to inform the government anyway in deference to her late friend. Unfortunately both she and Rocha get killed by the ManBat before anyone knows what is going on, resolving this plot conflict with blood and bodies.
The Black Servant of Dr. Peña (???) – Because we need a cook in the center of the Earth! He never gets a name despite being a major character! Also there are cave guides brought along for monster fodder, all of which gets names. But not this guy! We salute you, Black Servant of Dr. Peña. Yes, he dies.
Cyclops (???) – Cyclops attacks the party randomly. They shoot it with a drug bullet, but the cyclops lands on a stalagmite as it falls and is somehow impaled like 3 feet through the chest. Cyclopses must have a low calcium diet that makes their chest bones basically jelly or something. This is why you should have proper nutrition, people! This cyclops costume has a tail, and I am unsure if it is the same costume from La Nave de los Monstruos and Santo el Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra los Monstruos
ManBat (???) – I have to call him ManBat because the only alternative is BatMan. Falls in love with Hilda and stalks her all through the movie. Has an expressive makeup face in closeups, but is obviously a mask in long shots. Is intelligent and tough, but not immune to being shot with many many bullets.

Aventuras al centro de la tierra Adventure at the Center of the Earth

Someone saw the missing King Kong spider pit sequence!


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - March 21, 2014 at 8:11 am

Categories: Movie Reviews, Ugly   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Clones of Bruce Lee (Review)

The Clones of Bruce Lee


1977
Directed by Joseph Kong Hung (as Joseph Velasco)

Bruce Lee’s death was a tragic affair, a life cut short in its prime. It also became a vehicle for many unscrupulous people to make a quick buck, and soon Bruce Lee exploitation films began popping up all over. Bruce’s death at the height of his popularity both made martial arts films a big deal, but then stagnated them with the plots of his biggest hits. Many films followed the Enter the Dragon plot line, or borrowed elements and threw “Dragon” in the title somewhere. People ate this stuff up.

Many of the Brucesploitation films were packaged as pseduo-sequels to the big Lee hits, where certain “Lee-alikes” took up the mantel of Bruce Lee. Another group of Brucesploitation films worked their magic on the mystery of Bruce Lee’s death, with things ranging from conspiracies, ninja assassins, secret organizations, faking of death, and biopics (including one costarring Bruce Lee’s alleged mistress and owner of the apartment he died in, Betty Ting Pei, Bruce Lee: His Last Days.) Other Brucesploitation efforts were just plain wacky, being totally ridiculous farces. The Clones of Bruce Lee fits more into this group, as does Bruce Lee Fights Back From the Grave and Dragon Lives Again. The final group of Brucesploitation films were just films with Lee-alikes that were retitles to make you think it was Bruce Lee and not Bruce Li or Bruce Le. Bruce Li in New Guinea is a good example of this. A good overview of the main Leealikes can be found here, four of them are in this film!

The Clones of Bruce Lee is a silly film. Forget silly, it is downright insane! The only thing that could have made it more crazy if is there were robots. We have a mad scientist, cloned Bruce Lees, cloned Bruce Lees that look nothing like Bruce Lee, secret agents, evil movie producers, bronze fighting men, random gangsters, laser bars, Bolo Yeung, lots and lots of female nudity, weird edits, compulsive grass eating, giant blinking computers, a Leealike who isn’t one of the clones fighting with two clones, and did I mention lots and lots of female nudity? This movie rules.

Produced by Dick Randall, who also helped bring to America Weng Weng in For Your Height Only, Challenge of the Tiger, the Italian film The Castle of Frankenstein, the Spanish Supersonic Man, and Jim Kelly’s Death Dimension. Director Joseph Kong Hung directed at least 6 other Brucesploitation films, and “Executive Directed” Bruce Li in New Guinea (whatever that means!)

Bruce Lee #1 (Dragon Lee) – Bruce Lee #1 specializes in solo missions, and has Bruce Lee’s mannorisms down pat. Too bad he has zero charisma. Dragon Lee is also known as Bruce Lei, and was in a few other movies as a Lee-alike before disappearing to obscurity.
Bruce Lee #2 (Bruce Le) – Bruce Lee #2 is the brutal assassin, he gives no mercy to his opponents and will kill them when they are begging for their lives. Huang Kin-Lung, better known as Bruce Le, was one of the most popular Lee-alikes, starred in many films of the genre, and even a Bollywood movie.
Bruce Lee #3 (Bruce Lai) – Bruce Lai is also known as Chang Yi-Tao, was also a Lee-alike in Enter 3 Dragons, but later struck out as himself in films such as Blooded Treasury Fight
Agent Charles Li Sing (Bruce Thai) – Not another Bruce Lee clone, just an SBI agent who dresses like Bruce Lee and fights like him also. He assists two of the clones in bringing down Dr. Nai. Bruce Thai was also in Enter 3 Dragons. Not much is known about him, but he is believed to be Thai due to his name.
Mr. Colin (???) – SBI agent who recruits Professor Lucas to clone multiple Bruce Lees to use as agents. A plan so crazy it could only work in some sort of crazy movie. I see… I have no clue who plays him.
Professor Lucas (John Benn) – The brilliant Professor Lucas not only learned human cloning decades before anyone has figured it out, but he also was able to rapidly grow the clones to adulthood, and train them in martial arts due to the martial artists he has hanging around his laboratory compound. Goes mad with power and has to be taken down by his own creations, as usual for mad scientists.


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - December 17, 2008 at 10:00 am

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Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy (Review)

Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy

aka SharkMan

2005
Directed by Michael Oblowitz

SciFi Channel is a breeding ground for ridiculous creature features like the swamp spawns mosquitoes. Some mosquitoes just eat nectar, some make you itch, and a few give you malaria. We are in nectar territory here. It is not perfect, it has many plot points that are ludicrous, but the entire production is saved by Jeffrey Combs. He is allowed to overact to his heart’s content, and turns a semi-boring picture about a shark man into something you can mention as among SciFi Channel’s better offerings for the year 2005. Produced by the illustrious Nu Image Films, who have given us Gryphon, Raging Sharks, and Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, Nu Image originally sold a block of films at the same time involving animal/man hybrids, except the block of films eventually dissolved and went their separate ways. The others include Mansquito (later released as Mosquitoman on DVD), Morphman which became the surprisingly not terrible Larva, and Snakeman (aka The Snake King) which I haven’t seen. Nu Image has done blocks of related films before, notably their Nature Unleashed and American Heroes series. It allows them to bulk sell films, which equals cash. Usually few of the films are memorable, but in this case we grabbed on to something to tell the grandkids about.

As stated above, the winning formula in this movie is ridiculous monster+Jeffrey Combs. Jeffrey Combs is familiar to every B movie fan because odds are they have seen several dozen movies he has been in. He was also a regular on Star Trek Deep Space Nine and Star Trek Enterprise in addition to guest shots on many other genre shows. In every performance, Combs consistently delivers. He can range from excellent to eccentric to over the top wacky, and his name on a movie automatically bumps it up a few ratings points. The SharkMan is a guy running around in a shark suit. Seriously. And we get perilously close to shark/human sex. I am not making that up. Sadly, things don’t go as planned. But we do find out you can cure cancer by being turned into a shark. It’s one of those natural cures “they” don’t want you to know about. None of the good parts of the film can be blamed on the director Michael Oblowitz, the only winning efforts were the special effects guys and Jeffrey Combs. The rest of the film flops around like a fish on a boat, but SharkMan or Jeffrey keep popping up to throw the fish back in the ocean.


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 16, 2007 at 2:40 am

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The Revenge of Dr. X (Review)

The Revenge of Dr. X

aka The Double Garden aka The Venus Flytrap

1970
Directed by Kenneth G. Crane
Written by Edward D. Wood Jr.

Ed Wood Jr. strikes again! One of his most creative scripts, due to the uniqueness of the monster, not the plot, which is just a Frankenstein rehash sans the hash. At this time Ed Wood was writing for films both insane and perverse (see the review of One Million AC/DC for more of his nutty writing) as he was unable to direct anymore films. Ed Wood loved filmmaking, even though he was terrible at it. That alone makes him stand out above the rest of the current crop of dime store directors, many lack the passion Ed Wood put into each and every movie he made. Even films involving a Venus Flytrap Man still had the traditional Ed Wood dialogue and wonky spirit that made his films cult classics decades later. Yes, a Venus Flytrap Man is created in this film, who predictably runs amok and eats people until destroyed. It is a take on the old Frankenstein story, except with plants and made in Japan. Produced with Toei, the film company probably best known here for the Gamera films and the Super Sentai series (the shows Power Rangers are based on.) The original opening credits have been lost on the public domain releases, mistakenly replaced with a revamped title sequence for The Mad Doctor of Blood Island. Thus we don’t even know any of the actors’ names! Luckily, James Craig is pretty well known, and people have figured out another actor and the director and writer. However, some of the other cast is totally left out in the dark. Part of the problem is they are most likely Japanese actors, and as I am not too familiar with Toei’s film library, I wouldn’t even know where to begin trying to track them down. We are going through Ultra Q and may hit another Japanese series soon in addition to movies, so maybe she’ll show up. Until then, I guess Noriko will have to remain anonymous for now.

The script for this film was originally written in the 1950’s, but dusted off and revamped to be sold during the period when Ed Wood was putting out pulp novels filled with sex and sleaze to make ends meet. Director Kenneth G. Crane had helmed a few prior B movies, including the US portions of Abominable Snowman as well as The Manster and Monster from Green Hell. He never directed again after this film. Lots of padding to fill up the film is Crane’s trademark. As for the cast, ROLL CALL!!!


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - June 18, 2007 at 4:46 am

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Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (Review)

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus

aka Gojira tai Megagirasu: Ji shometsu sakusen aka Godzilla vs. Megaguirus: The G Annihilation Strategy
Godzilla vs Megaguirus
2000

Starring
Misato Tanaka as Kiriko Tsujimori
Shosuke Tanihara as Hajime Kudo
Masato Ibu as Motohiko Sugiura
Yuriko Hoshi as Yoshino Yoshizawa
Toshiyuki Nagashima as Takuji Miyagawa
Tsutomu Kitagawa as Godzilla
Minoru Watanabe as Megaguirus
Directed by Masaaki Tezuka
Godzilla vs Megaguirus
Godzilla fights a giant bug! Sound familiar? Because most of this movie is, and has been done before much better. There are a few nice scenes, but for the most part the movie is just a pale imitation of its forbearers, a legacy it can never hope to be part of. The second film of the “Millennium” series (Shinsei series), where the story can ignore continuity at will to make things however they want. Sure, that allowed this movie to potentially do some neat things, but in the end, they just floundered with them, and the whole thing fizzled.

Godzilla attacks the mainland periodically, but as they only follow the first film, Godzilla can attack whenever they want him to. Godzilla’s main foe is Megaguirus, who is one of the lamest monsters. So far, the Millennium series does have one point of continuity: they all created crappy new villains for Big G. Eventually they just gave up and went back to reusing older monsters, for much better effect. Until then, we have to deal with this Megaguirus. Megaguirus is a large, prehistoric dragonfly. Sure, prehistoric dragonflies were lizard-looking giant monsters who never had to flap their wings. They probably fought Anguilusaurus all the time during the time of the Fire Monsters. Megaguirus’s little henchbugs are the Meganula, who are the smaller, only people sized prehistoric dragonflies, which have a wingless and mature winged form. They like to snack on tasty people.
Godzilla vs Megaguirus
Good ideas, bad execution, tired story. A few good points, outshadowed by the many bad. Not the hallmarks of a film you want to see, but at this point we have no choice, for the DVD is bought, and the play button has been activated! Read more…

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - March 19, 2007 at 12:38 am

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Gigantis, the Fire Monster (Review)

Gigantis, the Fire Monster

aka Godzilla Raids Again aka Gojira no gyakushuu

1955

We start out the second March of Godzilla with the second Godzilla movie, Godzilla Raids Again! Or Gigantis, the Fire Monster, as it is known in the US. What a mess the American version of this film is. A complete an utter destruction of cinema. The Japanese version suffering from some of the faults of films of the time, but the American distributors just completely butcher the entire film. Most noticeably, Godzilla is not called Godzilla, but instead Gigantis. Now, he is technically not the original Godzilla, they make reference to the fact Godzilla Number One was disintegrated in Tokyo Bay. This new Godzilla is his brother, Marvin Godzilla, and he is actually the Godzilla that the next several movies in the series follow, as they are loosely connected. But in America, they just called him “Gigantis” because of reasons mentioned later. Joining Godzilla is the first fellow daikaiju, a creature named Anguirus. He’s loosely based on Ankylosaurs, and has a shell armored with many spikes all over his back. Crawling on four legs, Anguirus was stylistically different from Godzilla and made a good contrast for a first foe. Later monsters would get beam weapons, wings, multiple forms, but Anguirus fights with just one thing: guts!

There are some familiar faces in this film as well. Most notably, main character Shoichi Tsukioka is played by Hiroshi Koizumi, who has been previously seen here in Godzilla vs. Mothra and Ghidrah, playing Dr. Miura. I’ve met Hiroshi Koizumi, which I also mention each time he pops up in a Godzilla movie. Another big name is Takashi Shimura, playing Dr. Yemane, who he also played in the original Godzilla. He is probably best known for Seven Samurai or other Kurosawa films. Another Kurosawa veteran is Minoru Chiaki, who was another of the Seven Samurai, and here plays fellow pilot Kobayashi. All Godzilla movies need a girl, and actress Setsuko Wakayama makes her only Godzilla series appearance as Hidemi Yamaji. Directing this time is Motoyoshi Oda, who is also making his only appearance in G-history.

Both the US and Japanese versions will get reviewed simultaneously here. This is made possible because the US version is not chopped out of order, but follows the same pathway. They both deviate from the set path, as the US distributors added and removed footage, sometimes seemingly at random. The most obvious aspect aside from the Gigantis name is that the US version has narration. Lots of narration. The entire film is narrated. Every second someone is not speaking, the narrator has to talk. The Japanese version has no narrator, so is full of long moments of no dialogue, and little to no sound as the score only drops in randomly. We will note that the US version was produced by Paul Schreibman, who has expressed regrets for ruining the movie so badly. He claims responsibility for renaming Godzilla, as it was his desire to make Americans think they were getting a new monster. Other problems we will experience along the way, including the education film that makes me think Paul Schreibman must be insane.
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - March 1, 2007 at 3:01 am

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