Monday, January 13, 2014

GUEST POST: Heather Seebach's Favorite Older Film Discoveries Of 2013

Heather Seebach is the managing editor of Viewer Discretion Advised [www.viewerdiscretionadvised.net], a website dedicated to horror, cult, sci-fi, action, exploitation, and trash cinema. She also produces and hosts the video review series, Trainwreck Cinema [http://www.youtube.com/user/ViewerDiscretAdvised].

I liked a lot of new movies this past year, from Oscar bait to indie horror, but I was also fortunate enough to be introduced to some older films that blew my mind. As a cinephile, it's always great to come across a movie you've never heard of, and an even rarer joy when that film is awesome. So I have assembled some titles I saw for the first time in 2013 below. Fair warning: I am a fan of the truly bizarre and hilariously awful, so the following films may not be for everyone but if you like out-there cinema, these are must-see pieces of "WTF?" 

5. DARKTOWN STRUTTERS (1975) aka GET DOWN AND BOOGIE
This is the most bat-shit crazy Blaxploitation I have ever had the privilege of watching. The plot involves a motorcycle gang of sassy black women who uncover a twisted clone conspiracy led by a Colonel Sanders lookalike. It's certainly not your average Blaxploitation, as it more closely resembles a screwball comedy with outrageous props and costumes. There are KKK members in pig masks, a dungeon musical number, and genre icon Dick Miller as a bumbling, racist cop. Even weirder, this film was helmed by William Witney who primarily directed westerns. It's hard to imagine who this film was intended for back in the 70s with its unapologetic racial stereotypes and zany slapstick humor. Parts of this movie kind of made me feel like I was going insane. It must be seen to be believed. 

4. TINTORERA: KILLER SHARK (1977)
In the wake of JAWS (1975), countless late 70s/early 80s horror films shamelessly ripped-off the Spielberg classic, from ORCA (1977) to PIRANHA (1978) to GREAT WHITE aka THE LAST SHARK (1981). None were as baffling, however, as Rene Cardona Jr.'s TINTORERA. This Mexican "horror" film is one-quarter sharks being shot with harpoons and three-quarters yacht orgies between Hugo Stiglitz, Andrés García, and various women (including Susan George). The titular tiger shark seems to have emphysema;  Stiglitz brings his usual brand of awkward intensity; and there is way more homosexual tension than Scheider and Dreyfuss ever had. Because of all the gratuitous shark killing in this movie, I will not be revisiting it but there is no denying what a weird, unintentionally hilarious film it is. I highly recommend watching it with friends and alcohol. 

3. LADY TERMINATOR (1989)
Speaking of rip-offs, this Indonesian flick apes 1984's THE TERMINATOR in a way that nobody expected. You would think such a rip-off must involve some sort of robot or time travel, but you'd be wrong. Try a horny South Asian queen, a possessed anthropologist, and the annihilation of many-a man's crotch. It still manages to re-create James Cameron's best known scenes and shoehorn in some famous Arnold Schwarzenegger lines but the movie opens with a vagina snake and ends with laser beam eyes. If that sounds insane, it's because it is - this movie is nuts. Apparently, LADY TERMINATOR has already become a midnight movie staple but it somehow shamefully flew under my radar until this past year. Do not make the same mistake - check this one out as soon as possible!

2. THE VISITOR (1979) aka STRIDULUM
A few months before the Alamo Drafthouse brought this lost film to the big screen, I had the good fortune of watching a copy and I was not ready for what I saw. First, let's talk about the cast: John Huston, Lance Henriksen, Joanne Nail, Glenn Ford, Shelley Winters, Sam Peckinpah, and uncredited cameos from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Franco Nero as a blonde Jesus Christ (?!). A celestial God-figure (Huston) and an evil, telekinetic little girl duke it out for the fate of the world in this strange mash-up of THE OMEN (1976), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977), ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968), and an acid trip. Fans of Italian grindhouse oddities definitely need to see this! Bloody bird attacks, an ice rink fight, and the most painful-looking motorcycle stunt I have ever seen are just a taste of what is in store for you.

1. PLANKTON (1994)  aka CREATURES FROM THE ABYSS
Here is another one from the brains of some mad Italians. What begins as a seemingly run-of-the-mill b-movie quickly becomes laughably bad - then full-blown insane. PLANKTON follows some horror movie stereotypes as they come across an abandoned research vessel and decide to stay a while - never minding the crew is missing and there are creepy dead fish everywhere. Worse yet, these are mutant, flying gay fish! I am not even making this up. Things get downright crazy when the shower starts talking back and someone actually utters the line, "Professor, how long have you been fucking fish?" There are more "WTF?" moments than I can even begin to describe, plus an abundance of hilariously bad acting, dubbing, FX, editing, and dialogue. It's a perfect storm of cinematic insanity that belongs in the pantheon of bad movie classics. 

Heather Seebach is the managing editor of Viewer Discretion Advised [www.viewerdiscretionadvised.net], a website dedicated to horror, cult, sci-fi, action, exploitation, and trash cinema. She also produces and hosts the video review series, Trainwreck Cinema [http://www.youtube.com/user/ViewerDiscretAdvised].