I’ve spent the past few days checking out a bunch of movies for possible inclusion in a bad movie podcast I’ve been contributing to.  Since one of our current guidelines is that we should be discussing movies that are available on Netflix Instant (so we will all be able to watch it, and our listeners will, too), I’ve been spending time perusing my Netflix options.  Here are the movies I watched over the last couple of days:

Hell Night (1981)

Netflix description: This cult-favorite indie horror flick follows a group of fraternity pledges as they brave a night of hazing in creepy old Garth Manor, where a crazed killer — the sole survivor of a massacre at the house years before — still roams the halls.

Well, that description leaves out the main reason that I picked this movie, which is that it stars Linda Blair.  And, I mean, she’s really the star.  Her name is above the title, and everything!  There are definitely certain benefits to being the star of this picture.  All of the fraternity/sorority kids are dressed in costume and Linda Blair is dressed for maximum coverage (except for her cleavage) as Little Red Riding Hood, so you get the sense that she is going to be the “good” girl and thus live the longest.  She also gets to benefit from the “informed attribute” principle, i.e. her entrance is greeted with a WOW, WHO IS THAT HOT CHICK? reaction.  Then the camera cuts to her, and … well, I mean, she’s cute and all, but in a chipmunk-cheeked kind of way, not an alluringly hot chick kind of way.  And she’s certainly not the hottest one in a room full of sexy coeds.  But anyway, other than that you get the general idea of the movie, which means that in typical teen horror movie fashion, there’s the usual mix of making out, screaming, and gruesome murders.  It’s not the best of its kind, but it’s not the worst, either.  Well, this film does have two redeeming features, at least.  One is that there are several genuinely good scares in this movie.  And the other is the fact that actor Peter Barton (of The Powers of Matthew Star fame) is very easy on the eyes 🙂

Night of the Comet (1984)

Netflix description: Earth has been ripped to shreds after a run-in with a killer comet, and those who have survived are in a fight for their lives in this campy cult classic. Valley girl Reg (Catherine Mary Stewart) and her sister (Kelli Maroney) discover they’re two of the lucky few. But scientists are after them, and now they must run. Why? Because the researchers believe they need the blood of survivors to concoct a drug that can save them all from further ruin.

Okay, kids.  Put on your legwarmers, pull up your collars, tease out your hair, get out your boomboxes, pull out the antennas on your gigantic phones, and get ready for a wild movie about the end of the world!  A mysterious comet passes close to the earth, and as a result most of the population is either turned into dust or turned into zombies.  A handful of survivors, including Regina and Hector (played by Robert Beltran, aka Chakotay from Star Trek: Voyager!) have to figure out what to do next.  The special effects, such as they are, are pretty effective especially considering that this was not a big-budget movie.  Most of the effects consisted of zombie makeup, lots of piles of dust, and a red-tinted sky.  The most noticable aspect of the look and feel of the movie is all the stuff that dates it to the 1980’s.  Sometimes it’s hard to take characters seriously when their fashion choices are so current that they immediately look dated to modern eyes.  I found myself staring at the legwarmers that the female scientist was wearing (you know, as part of her uniform) the same way that I kept staring at the turban Lana Turner wore during The Postman Always Rings Twice.  Sometimes, it doesn’t pay to be trendy!

But honestly, as long as you can deal with this movie existing in a 1980’s bubble, it’s really not a bad movie at all.  It’s kind of a cool story, as long as you don’t mind the music, the legwarmers, the big hair …

The Ghoul (1933)

Netflix description: Professor Morlant (Boris Karloff), a British Egyptologist, finds a magic jewel in the tomb of an Oriental idol. The talisman is supposed to grant immortality to those who are buried with it. So, Morlant arranges to have it put into his grave upon his demise. And beware those who might double-cross him, because Morlant’s spirit will arise to wreak vengeance on his betrayers! This film was the screen debut of British stage actor Ralph Richardson.

I had the highest expectations for this film, which unfortunately means that I was ultimately disappointed.  Don’t get me wrong; I love Boris Karloff to pieces, and I’m a big fan of The Mummy.  But while this movie occasionally had moments of genuine tension and suspense, it had many more moments of silly slapstick nonsense.  If I had to spend one more minute listening to that shrieking woman who thought that the Arab guy was a sheik … and then he started bossing her around … and then she kinda liked it … URGH.  There was WAY too much of that kind of nonsense, and not nearly enough terror.  It was very cool seeing a young Ralph Richardson, though.

The Man Without a Body (1957, or maybe 1958?)

Netflix description: Medical science goes berserk when Brussard (George Coulouris), a wealthy man who is suffering from a brain tumor, seeks the help of Dr. Merritt (Robert Hutton), a mad scientist who experiments with surgically mixing-and-matching monkey heads with different monkey bodies. Upping the ante, Brussard steals the head of Nostradamus from the ancient seer’s crypt, with every intention of transplanting the oracle’s noggin onto his own body.

Uhm … okay … how could you read that description and NOT be compelled to see that movie?  Right?  RIGHT?  Who’s with me???  Okay, so I’m clearly the target audience for this film, because I love old black and white SF movies with plots that are just INSANE.  Mad scientist?  Check!  Disembodied head of Nostradamus?  DOUBLE check!!!  On the one hand, this was actually a pretty normal story for about the first half of the movie.  I mean, I wouldn’t call the doctor a “mad scientist,” exactly.  Not while he’s working on monkey heads, anyway.  So the plot starts out pretty normally, but once we get to Nostradamus’ head … with the blinking … and the talking … in French AND in English … well, at that point it just starts getting ridiculous.  But, you know, the good kind of ridiculous.

Starcrash (1979)

Netflix description: Sexy space smuggler Stella Starr and her partner, Akton, set out on a mission to save the son of the Emperor of the Galaxy in this racy sci-fi flick. Stella and Akton go up against a host of villains as they attempt to stop the evil Count Zarth Arn.

Okay, that description is only the tip of the iceberg in the “why this movie is as nutty as a fruitcake” department.  Let’s see … this was an Italian / American production, and only some of the stars were able to dub their own voices.  It owes a lot to the success of Star Wars, right down to THE FRIGGING LIGHTSABERS.  Many of the movie’s special effects are so far beyond  ridiculous that “ridiculous” is the tiniest speck in this movie’s rear-view mirror.  Oh, and it stars … are you sitting down? … Caroline Munro, Christopher Plummer, Marjoe Gortner, and DAVID HASSELHOFF.  Hoo-Boy!  Anyway, this film was quite a hoot.  Part sci-fi adventure and part fever dream, this film would be ideal to watch with a group of friends who are in the mood to have a good laugh.

Visit to a Small Planet (1960)

Netflix description: Kreton (Jerry Lewis), an impish creature from outer space, has an insatiable curiosity about humans and their ways. When he journeys to Earth and parks his spaceship in the backyard of Conrad (Earl Holliman), a skeptic who doesn’t believe in aliens, both are in for big surprises. This classic sci-fi comedy is based on the successful 1957 Broadway play by Gore Vidal, who initially disagreed with the casting of Lewis in the lead role for the film.

Jerry Lewis + a truckload of physical “comedy” = NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!

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