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Under the Doctor

Take off your clothes, please.
Under The Doctor, starring Mind Your Language's Barry Evans, is one of those bawdy British sex comedies that were so popular in the '70s, their combination of sauciness and comedy, often featuring recognisable performers, making them a respectable way for movie-goers to see some T&A. Likely lads could take their birds to see such films with the aim of getting their gal in the mood; married couples could add some spice to a stale relationship; and frustrated middle-aged businessmen could get their jollies in the comfort of a seedy West End cinema.

In the case of Under The Doctor, if it wasn't for the nudity and implied nookie, I doubt the film would have ever seen the light of day, so weak are the supposed comedic situations that unfold as several female patients tell their sex-related troubles to psychiatrist Doctor Boyd (Evans). So let's not dwell too much on the dreadful plot or lame humour, but instead go into a little more detail about the smut on offer...

Doctor Boyd's first patient is Marion, played by Penny Spencer; she tells the psychiatrist about how she increased her chances of getting a job by shagging the boss (also played by Evans) during the interview. Spencer flashes plenty of cleavage before stripping down to a small pair of panties.

The doc's second patient is posh totty Lady Victoria Stockbridge (Hilary Pritchard), whose family has fallen on hard times. To make ends meet, she seduces stockbroker Rodney Harrington-Harrington (Jonathan Cecil), trading sex for insider knowledge. Topless nudity from Pritchard.

Lady Stockbridge then tells the psychiatrist about her fantasies, in which she is a lady during the reign of George II, with two suitors vying for her affection: a foppish aristocrat and a roguish lieutenant (Evans again), who duel to settle the situation. More topless nudity from Pritchard, with a brief flash of bush.

The final case is that of Sandra, played by busty beauty Liz Fraser (Carry On..., Confessions of..., and Adventures of... star), who was jilted on her wedding day, and who has invented an imaginary family as a coping mechanism. Sandra's imaginary husband is understandably randy, jumping on his wife at every chance, which leaves the poor woman frustrated that she is never able to practise the art of seduction. Fraser can be seen in a various states of undress, often in sexy underwear, but never topless: that might've caused some of those middle-aged businessmen in the audience to keel over in the aisles.

The film ends with Dr. Boyd cracking up under the strain of having so many sexy patients under his care (as well as a naughty nurse who takes a fancy to him). It's a painfully unfunny finish to a painfully unfunny film, the only reason for watching being the sexy ladies.

The Last Dinosaur

Stupid, but not boring (except for the bit where they are literally boring).
The same year that George Lucas and his team developed groundbreaking special effects to bring audiences bizarre alien creatures and dramatic space battles in Star Wars, this US/Japanese co-production settled for far less advanced techniques to bring its dinosaurs to life, making it an embarrassingly clunky, yet still rather charming addition to the Lost World genre. Rivalling The Land That Time Forgot (1974) for worst movie dinosaurs of the decade, The Last Dinosaur features Tokusatsu-style men-in-rubber-suit monsters that are wholly unconvincing, but which will undoubtedly hold much appeal for fans of all things kaiju (the film's T-Rex even sounds like Godzilla).

Richard Boone stars as Masten Thrust, the wealthiest man in the world (but still unable to hire a decent graphic designer to make his company a decent logo), who leads an expedition to a lost world in the polar region, where he hopes to find a living Tyrannosaurus Rex. Joining him on the journey into the unknown are geologist Chuck Wade (Steven Keats), scientist Dr. Kawamoto (Tetsu Nakamura), photographer Francesca Banks (Joan Van Ark) and brave Masai tracker Bunta (Luther Rackley). After navigating their way to the prehistoric land in a laser borer craft, the team are attacked by a tribe of savage cavemen and face danger from a T-Rex that steals their transport and stomps their camp.

Entertaining for its sheer silliness, The Last Dinosaur features unrealistic miniatures, a laughably bad Pteranodon that endlessly circles the sky, and a triceratops that somehow conceals itself in a rock face to launch a surprise attack on the T-Rex. Other dumb moments include Francesca unknowingly standing on the back of a giant turtle, the T-rex stealthily sneaking up on its victims unheard, Masten ordering Bunta to find 200 yards of tough vine (that's 600ft, or 182 metres, but the ever resourceful Bunta comes through), the T-Rex being yanked off its feet by a tumbling boulder (attached to the dinosaur by that tough vine!), the speedy construction of a massive medieval-style catapult (I'm still not sure where that axe came from), and Chuck and Francesca miraculously transporting the steel (so presumably extremely heavy) borer over land to re-launch it in a lake.

5/10 - it's silly, it's stupid, it's technically inept, but it's also quite fun as a result.

Violación fatal

I guess chicks dig writers.
Not long after inn landlady Veronica first appeared on-screen, it became abundantly clear to me that she was barking mad, making her more than likely responsible for the series of vicious open razor murders that ensued. If it turned out that she wasn't the killer, then director León Klimovsky would be a master of deception on a par with Alfred Hitchcock (whose classic Psycho was clearly the blueprint for this film).

As I suspected, Klimovsky is no Hitchcock.

Veronica, played by lovely Ágata Lys, is easier on the eye than Norman Bates, but no less loopy, bumping off her less respectable guests in bloody fashion with the same razor that she used to do in her husband, whose persona she subsequently adopts to kill. The only occupant of the inn who she doesn't target is Daniel (Heinrich Starhemberg), a chubby, balding writer with a weak chin and terrible fashion sense to whom she takes a shine (for some inexplicable reason, he is quite the fanny magnet). Will Daniel discover the truth about Veronica before she can turn her razor on his wife Elena (Sandra Alberti), who turns up at the inn looking for her hubby?

WIth the plot providing very little in the way of genuine mystery, Klimovsky peps up his movie with plenty of mean-spirited violence (the murders aren't all that convincing, employing one of those props that squirts bright red blood from the blade, but they are still quite nasty in tone) and a fair amount of sleaze, nudity and sex: the lovely Lys gets nekkid, as does Alberti, with extra T&A from Irene Foster as pretty backpacker Anna, and Isabel Pisano as busty hooker Eva. Less appealing is the sight of Starhemberg's naked thrusting butt as he gets it on with his wife.

Trauma is a long way from a top tier giallo, but the pace is snappy and the performances fun, while the trashiness of the whole thing ensures an entertaining enough time for fans of the genre.

6.5/10, rounded up to seven for the excess of wonderfully tasteless wood panelling at the inn.

Prisoners of the Ghostland

I felt angry watching it.
Nicolas Cage has steadily built a reputation for being a kooky actor, with recent performances seeing him dialling the craziness up to eleven; Sion Sono is a director who seems to be trying to outdo Takashi Miike in terms of surreality. Prisoners of the Ghostland, from the producers of Mandy, sees Cage and Sono teaming up to bring us what has to be the most thoroughly contrived piece of bizarre cinema I have ever seen. It's wall-to-wall weirdness, but everything feels so meticulously calculated to confound that it proves irksome in the extreme.

The basic plot sounds like exploitation heaven: when wealthy warlord The Governor (Bill Moseley) discovers that his adopted granddaughter Bernice (Sofia Boutella) has hightailed it into the badlands, he springs a notorious criminal (Cage) from jail and offers him his freedom if he can bring the missing girl back. To ensure compliance, the criminal is fitted with a leather jumpsuit with explosives fitted to the neck, arms and groin, which will explode if he fails to follow orders.

Sadly, Sono's approach makes the movie an impenetrable mess, every frame an exercise in the absurd - if the aim was to make a film guaranteed to bore, irritate and confuse in equal measures, then he succeeded. The director captures some stunning visual compositions with breath-taking use of colour, which makes it all the more frustrating that nothing in the film makes any sense, and most of it is just plain annoying. I have my suspicions that Cage didn't know what was going on either, but he was probably just grateful for the pay check, and does his crazy routine obligingly.

1/10. By all means watch if you absolutely have to see Cage holding his own bloody testicle after it has been blown off by one of the suit bombs, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Beyond Evil

Possesses little in the way of originality or charm.
Your best pal arranges for you and your wife to move into an old house that, as legend would have it, is haunted by the spirit a woman who practised black magic and who returned from the dead to kill her philandering husband. What do you do?

If, like me, you have seen enough horror films to know that living in a house like that will seriously affect your life expectancy, you'll politely decline and book into a hotel. But if you're newlyweds John Saxon and Lynda Day George, you'll happily set up home in said haunted house, and not even bat an eyelid when creepy shizz starts happening.

Soon after settling in, Barbara Andrews (George) starts to act very strangely and, when hubby Larry (Saxon) isn't looking, she shoots green laser beams from her eyes. When Larry's friends and associates start to die in mysterious circumstances, he eventually cottons on to the fact that his wife's might have something to do with it, so he seeks help from local faith healer Dr. Solomon (David Opatoshu), who tells him that she is possessed.

Beyond Evil is an utterly abysmal supernatural horror that suffers from a cheesy plot that brings nothing new to the table, an awful central turn from George, and some really cheap visual effects (the day-glo green solarised effect is particularly nasty). Even the usually reliable Saxon cannot help make this one work. The only decent things about the film are a couple of reasonable gore effects (when the faith healer performs operations on his followers) and the Omen-esque score by Pino Donaggio.


Unfairly maligned by some.
After her abusive husband is murdered, Maddie (Annabelle Wallis) must try and convince the cops that the killer was her imaginary childhood friend Gabriel. Just as the police are ready to label Maddie a basket case, chuck her in a madhouse and throw away the key, Gabriel makes his presence known...

James Wan's Malignant begins like so many contemporary supernatural horrors, with a creepy, lank-haired figure lurking in the shadows (of which there are many), occasionally emerging from the darkness to scare protagonist Maddie. The movie is so predictable that, when it shows an award on a doctor's shelf, the trophy boasting a wicked spike, I rolled my eyes: 'Someone's getting impaled on that', I said to myself. And sure enough...

It's formulaic stuff, but director Wan is toying with his audience, deliberately laying on the clichés, waiting patiently to pull the rug from under our feet with an outrageous plot twist that shifts the film from a mediocre chiller to an insanely enjoyable, off-the-wall gore-fest in a split second. This abrupt change in style and tone doesn't seem to have gone down too well with some viewers, but I really dug it - it caught me off-guard just as I was about to dismiss the film as just another dull spook-fest. Wan's absurd revelation prior to the final act propels the film into totally bonkers territory, and allows the director to ladle on the splatter as well as inject some well-handled action scenes.

After so many dreary horror films that take themselves far too seriously, Malignant is a treat for those who enjoy movies that go a little mad sometimes.

Shock Treatment

I see you shiver with trepi......dation!
No matter how hard one tries to judge Shock Treatment on its own merits, comparisons to The Rocky Horror Picture Show are inevitable, and it doesn't hold up at all well against that titan of cult musicals. While Shock treatment's songs are suitably catchy (although frequently frustratingly brief), the rest of the film is a hugely disappointing mess, with a muddled plot -- the result of numerous rewrites -- that lacks the sense of sheer abandonment and fun of its predecessor.

Jessica Harper, so great in The Phantom of the Paradise, replaces Susan Sarandon as Janet, and does admirably, her singing voice once again on top form; sadly, Cliff De Young isn't as impressive, making for a remarkably bland Brad Majors (it doesn't help that De Young also plays the villain of the piece, TV mogul Farley Flavors, with equally lacklustre results). Rocky Horror performers Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, 'Little Nell' Campbell (looking very sexy!) and Charles Gray return, albeit as different characters, and the cast is rounded out by Ruby Wax, Barry Humphries and Rik Mayall. A cracking line-up, but let down by the scrappy script.

Written by O'Brien and director Jim Sharman, Shock Treatment is admittedly ahead of its time in the depiction of fame as a drug, where ordinary everyday folk are willingly to be turned into TV stars and subsequently manipulated by the media, but while the story might be prescient, it simply isn't that engaging, and with all of those revisions, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense either. Some moments feel wholly out of place, while others feel like desperate clones of far better scenes in Rocky Horror.

Visually, the film is interesting, Sharman imbuing proceedings with a garish cartoon-like aesthetic, his colourful song and dance numbers being the highlights. 'Lullaby', in particular, is superbly handled, with a single shot tracking between characters in different rooms as they prepare for bed; sadly, like a lot of the film's best songs, it is woefully short.

Shock Treatment will, of course, be of interest to fans of everything Rocky Horror, and some may consider the mere fact that it comes from the same creative team enough to warrant their devotion (rose tint the film), but the cold hard truth is that there is a very good reason why this one hasn't garnered the same cult following: it simply isn't very good.

Il était une fois le diable

Neigh, neigh, hoot hoot, neigh neigh.
Contrary to what my fellow IMDb reviewer Weirdling_Wolf writes, I believe that the French have given us plenty of decent horror films*, from B&W classic Les Diaboliques, to the dreamlike work of Jean Rollin, to zombie/action flick La Horde, to more contemporary shockers Inside and Martyrs. Devil Story isn't one of them though, being a strong contender for the strangest, if not worst, horror film ever made. This low budget crap-fest from director Bernard Launois is technically inept in almost every department and has a virtually non-existent plot, making it a must for fans of z-grade schlock.

The film opens with a grunting, snuffling facially disfigured man in an SS uniform killing several people with a knife and dumping their bodies down a well, before continuing his murderous spree with a shotgun. The action then cuts to a young married couple who experience car trouble during a storm and seek shelter at a stately home occupied by an old man and his wife. The lady of the house tells the visitors a story about a group of bandits who lured ships onto the rocks, and explains that their descendants still live in the area: the ugly monster from the opening scene and his mother.

During the night, the young woman decides to up and leave without her husband, but wishes she had stayed put when she runs into the hideous killer and his mum, who try to seal her in a tomb. She escapes, but runs into an Egyptian mummy and a zombie woman, who are also roaming the countryside. Meanwhile, the old man from the stately home is trying to shoot a very noisy horse with his shotgun.

Devil Story suffers from poor direction, choppy editing, amateurish make-up effects and lousy acting, but the worst thing about it is the soundtrack, with all sound effects at maximum volume and repeated incessantly: in addition to the constantly whinnying horse we also get a very vocal owl, and repetitive use of that old horror cliché Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 in a misguided attempt to add atmosphere. I reckon if anything is going to make you want to hit the stop button, it'll be that damn horse!

On the plus side, the gore effects, while not exactly special, are plentiful and fun, with quite a lot of spurting blood from wounds, the monster getting injured so that part of his scalp flaps around, and one really unconvincing but very messy moment when the mummy stomps on the man with the shotgun causing his guts to spill out.

2/10. It's film making at its most incompetent, but for a select few, Devil Story will prove every bit as entertaining as a Marvel blockbuster is for the masses.

*their music still sucks, though!

Dan Oniroku: Shôjo mokuba-zeme

If it's gory Japanese torture you're after, you'd be better off watching The Joy of Torture 2-Oxen Split Torturing: that one is nasty! However, if it's sexual abuse you're looking for, with the emphasis on extreme deviancy and perversion, Girl and the Wooden Horse Torture is the way to go, the film being a catalogue of filth and depravity that is so excessive at times that it proves laughable (so long as you have a warped sense of humour, that is).

Serina Nishikawa plays sexy schoolgirl Tsuchiya, who has naughty nightmares about classmates being abused by her teacher Muraki (Shirô Shimomoto), and in which she is sexually molested by her own parents. In her spare time, Tsuchiya practises bondage on herself. When Muraki is wrongly accused of raping two schoolgirls, Tsuchiya keeps quiet despite having seen what really happened (in reality, the girls raped the teacher!). His life in ruins as a result, Muraki takes revenge on Tsuchiya in an S&M hotel, using a range of specialist equipment to do so (including, of course, the titular wooden horse).

With wall-to-wall depravity and loads of nudity (optical fogging hiding anything too explicit), Girl and the Wooden Horse Torture is classic Nikkatsu Roman Porno that holds nothing back: it starts with an up-the-skirt schoolgirl pantie flash and gets more and more daring as it progresses, ending with a forced enema followed by Tsuchiya peeing in Muraki's mouth so that he can swallow his heart medicine. I'm not totally sure I understood all that was happening, even with the benefit of subtitles, but with so much exploitative action, featuring lots of battery-powered 'toys', there is never a dull moment.

Wonder Woman 1984

Be careful what you wish for.
After the success of Wonder Woman (2017), I expect a lot of DC fans (and Gal Gadot fans) were wishing for a bigger and even better sequel for the beautiful Amazonian princess. Well, they've got the bigger sequel they wanted, but better? Nope... trickster god Dolos seems to have pulled another fast one: WW84 is one terrible scene after another, a film destined for a cult following perhaps, purely because it is so awful.

The ridiculous plot revolves around a mythical stone (created by Dolos, the god of mischief) that can grant the holder a single wish, and which falls into the hands of an unscrupulous wannabe oil baron, but incredibly, it's not this singular lame idea that ruins the movie, but rather the countless idiotic things that happen throughout. There are so many bad scenes in the film that listing them all would take an age, but here's some of my 'favourites':

Resurrected WW2 pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) doing a 'Pretty Woman' by trying on a range of 'hilarious' '80s fashion. Oh, how I didn't laugh.

Steve mistaking a trash can for a piece of modern art. I have no words.

Steve being able to fly a fully-fuelled jet fighter, stored at the Smithsonian, without any prior knowledge (with Wonder Woman managing to turn the plane invisible-turns out she's David bloody Copperfield!). Also, they fly the plane very slowly through some fireworks.

Wonder Woman doing a quick change into her costume in a moving car.

Some dumb Egyptian kids playing football in the middle of a road despite being surrounded by miles and miles of desert perfect for a kickabout.

Wonder Woman lassoing a passenger jet (just how long is that lasso anyway?), followed by her lassoing a cloud and a lightning bolt. What's next? Lassoing ideas and dreams?

Kristen Wiig transforming into Bombalurina from Cats.

And as if all that wasn't terrible enough, the sickening saccharine finalé involves Wonder Woman using her lasso (now normal length) to SHOW the bad guy the truth. Good job they introduced that idea earlier in the film...

3.5/10, rounded down to 3 for Gadot's lousy performance: she's a beautiful woman with a great pair of legs (still no match for Lynda Carter, though), but she really isn't much of an actress.


Fulci does fantasy.
An old man in a dollar store Santa wig and beard bestows a magic bow on wimpy young adventurer Ilias (Andrea Occhipinti), who ventures into the smoke-shrouded wilderness to fulfil his destiny, which involves befriending barbarian Mace (Jorge Rivero), and fighting evil, topless sun-ruler Ocron (Sabrina Siani) and her beastly minions.

Lucio Fulci, the Italian 'godfather of gore', tackles the then-very-popular fantasy genre in his own distinctive style, keeping splatter fans happy with a wonderfully gory scene early on as Ocron's pig-faced henchmen attack a peaceful tribe, tearing a woman in half by pulling her legs apart and cracking open her skull so that their leader can feast on the brains. A later revolting scene sees Ilias struck by a poisoned dart, his body erupting with oozing sores (cured by a handy dandy magical flower that grows in a nearby valley!). Fulci also throws in not one, but two totally unexpected and gory demises for two of the characters, which makes up somewhat for the remainder of the film, which comprises of a series of not-very-thrilling altercations in which the bad guys launch themselves off trampolines in the direction of the heroes.

In addition to the gore and the tiresome fights, we also get a hilarious moment when a school of friendly dolphins rescue Mace from a watery grave - a silly underwater scene to rival that of the shark vs. Zombie in Zombie Flesheaters.

5/10. Not one of Fulci's better films, but worth a go for fans of the director and for those who enjoy dumb trashy movies.

Gemidos de placer

Forgettable Franco filth.
Cries of Pleasure, from prolific Spanish sleaze-merchant Jess Franco, is mostly soft-core sex with very little story. If non-stop bumping and grinding is what you're after, complete with full frontal nudity from both sexes, then this is the film for you, but I would have liked a bit more plot to go with endless nookie, which I soon found rather tiresome.

The film stars Antonio Mayans as moustachioed stud Antonio, who has three women on the go: new acquaintance Julia (Lina Romay), lover Marta (Elisa Vela) and wife Martina (Rocío Freixas), who has just been released from an asylum. With help from Julia, Antonio plans to kill Martina for her money, but his newest conquest has made prior arrangements. Meanwhile, simpleton Fenul (Juan Soler) plucks his guitar as he watches the trio indulge in sex and sadistic debauchery.

Shot in a luxurious villa overlooking some spectacular scenery, Cries of Pleasure is one of Franco's better looking films, but it's also one of his most tedious, the numerous sex scenes becoming a boring blur of bums, boobs and bush. Occasionally, the action borders on the ridiculous, such as when a naked Julia arches her back and writhes in ecstasy on a sofa until Antonio and Martina come and give her something to moan about. And occasionally, it teeters on the brink of hardcore. But most of the time it's just really dull.

Electric Dreams

I only knew you for a while, I never saw your smile...
Electric Dreams could work really well as a remake, now that technology is finally on the brink of true A. I. (I suggest a horror approach, the jealous computer turning psychotic and taking control of prototype robots to wreak havoc). Back in 1983, however, computers were little more than glorified calculators, but that didn't stop Hollywood from exaggerating their capabilities in films like Weird Science, and this silly silicon love story from music video director Steve Barron in which an off-the-shelf PC becomes a self-aware supercomputer. It's not labelled 'a computer fairytale' for nothing.

The daft plot sees architect Miles Harding (Lenny von Dohlen) buying a new computer to help with his work only to accidentally knock a bottle of champagne over it, causing the machine to become sentient. While listening to neighbour Madeline Robistat (Virginia Madsen) playing her cello (the sound travelling through air vents), Edgar (as the computer calls itself) accompanies her with a synth rendition, leading Madeline to believe that Miles is also a musician. As a result, Miles and Madeline become romantically involved, but Edgar also has designs on the young woman...

The depiction of cutting-edge high-street technology in this film is hilarious, Miles's computer (pre-champagne incident) apparently capable of controlling household appliances, running advanced 3D software and connecting to the computer at Miles's workplace, all of which are commonplace now, but none of which would have been possible in '83; I guess most people didn't know any better, allowing for film-makers to stretch the truth somewhat. And by 'somewhat', I mean a lot!

As far as performances are concerned, Von Dohlen makes for a bland lead - the computer has more emotional range than this bloke - but Madsen makes up for his shortcomings: she's beautiful enough to convince me that even a toaster could fall in love with her. There's little chemistry between the leads, the film's best moments being between human and computer, and when director Barron gets to flex his music video muscles: Madeline's Cello session joined by Edgar's synth is great, with the action cutting between Madsen and machine, the camera whirling around both apartments to the music; we get two wonderful Culture Club songs in their entirety, the fist accompanied by a montage and digital lyrics, the second with an animated character in a digital landscape; and, of course, there's Giorgio Moroder and Phil Oakey's Together In Electric Dreams, which, as the film clearly shows, everyone loves and enjoys dancing to. In fact, the whole soundtrack to the film is great (I have it on vinyl!).

6/10 - the plot is pure '80s nonsense, and the film is laughably dated at times, but the music and Madsen make it all worthwhile.

Man Beast

A fun mountain monster movie.
For a cheapo '50s B-movie from producer/director Jerry Warren (the man who gave us the terrible Frankenstein's Island and who was responsible for the US Sequences in the even worse Face of the Screaming Werewolf), yeti creature feature Man Beast isn't as abominable as it might have been.

Asa Maynor plays Connie Hayward, who travels to the Himalayas in search of her brother James, who has disappeared while on an expedition to find the legendary yetis. Tom Maruzzi, also billed as Rock Madison, is Steve Cameron, who helps Connie uncover the truth surrounding the elusive creatures and their connection to shifty mountain guide Varga (George Skaff).

Although the monsters themselves are disappointing - men in moth-eaten costumes that were originally used in The White Gorilla and White Pongo (both 1945)- the film makes up for this with plenty of impressive scenery and some decent climbing scenes (most likely stock footage, but it works well), and a positive female character in Connie, who isn't your typical screaming, helpless woman-in-peril, but rather a strong, gutsy and very capable woman.

Other positives are the short runtime which keeps things snappy, and the twisted denouement at the end, in which it is revealed that the hairy monsters have been abducting human women for breeding purposes. Yeti rape in a fifties movie! Yowzah!

6.5/10, rounded up to 7 for IMDb.

Witchdoctor of the Livingdead

Ooh ee ooh ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang.
It doesn't feel right stomping all over a film that probably cost less to make than it does to buy a meal deal at Tesco, but I'm going to do it anyway: Witchdoctor (all one word) of the Livingdead (all one word) is just too unintentionally funny not to mock.

The plot for this crazy Nigerian horror sees a wicked witchdoctor punishing locals for abandoning the religion of the forest: he transforms into a goat to eat their crops, sends a rubber cobra to kill, and in the finalé, raises an army of zombies to attack villagers who have barricaded themselves inside the local church (a ramshackle wooden building that looks like it would collapse in a strong breeze, but somehow withstands the pounding of the undead).

If you've never seen a low-budget African film before then you're in for a treat: diabolical acting with English dialogue delivered in a heavy accent, amateurish direction with lousy picture quality, editing that feels like it ha been done with a machete, atrocious sound quality with inappropriate use of library music and sound effects-they take bad movies to a whole new level.

This film starts as it means to go on, with a hilarious attack on a taxi driver by a group of wholly unconvincing zombies, whose 'acting' needs to be seen to be believed. Director Charles Abi Enonchong ups the ante with his next showstopper, in which the rubber cobra disappears between a woman's legs while she squats to take a pee, the reptile eventually emerging from her mouth. The unintentional hilarity keeps on coming with the prolonged ringing of a cowbell (every film needs more cowbell!), zombies wielding plastic Halloween props, gunfire that sounds like a Star Wars laser blaster (with ricochet sound effects despite there being nothing for the bullets to bounce off), a man in a shiny purple and green tracksuit, and a sun-baked scene supposedly set at midnight. All of this is accompanied by incongruous blasts of music that start abruptly and stop just as suddenly.

Witchdoctor of the Livingdead is a constant source of amusement thanks to its technical incompetence in all departments, and is made all the more entertaining by the sheer enthusiasm of all involved; however, this being Africa, where life is cheap but special effects are clearly too expensive, a grisly scene involving the killing of a goat is all too real and may upset some viewers.

Fatal Exam

The Fatal Exam exam...
You have two hours. You may begin...

Q.1 (5 marks) Director Jack Snyder's total rejection of established film-making techniques renders Fatal Exam a dull and worthless experience. Discuss.

Q.2 (2 marks) Who do you think gives the most lifeless performance in Fatal Exam? Give the reasons for your choice.

Q.3 (3 marks) Examine three characters from the film and describe the personality traits that render them thoroughly obnoxious.

Q.4 (5 marks) How do Snyder's editing decisions affect the mood of the film? In your opinion, does his holding on seemingly irrelevant shots for longer than is necessary add to the atmosphere, or make the film as boring as hell?

Q.5 (1 mark each). Give an example of how each of the following adjectives are applicable to Fatal Exam: moronic, amateurish, soporific, illogical, laughable

Q.6 (5 marks) You are given the task of reducing the film's unbearable 1h 54min runtime to a slightly more palatable 84 minutes. Which scenes would be first to go? Give reasons for your decisions.

Q.7 (4 marks) Explain the symbolism of the doll's house. Please!

Q.8 (5 marks) The painting in the film looks like it was done by a six-year-old. Discuss how a particularly awful prop can render a scene unintentionally funny. Give suggestions of how a far better painting might have been acquired while still keeping within budgetary constraints?

Q.9 (2 marks) The Pepsi cans: a really bad decision by the soft drink's marketing department, or simply a case of free advertising? Discuss.

Q.10 (4 marks) Some films are regarded as being 'so bad, they're good'. Do you think that Fatal Exam is one such film, and if so, what is wrong with you?

Please leave your paper face down on the table in front of you when you have finished.

Iron Girl: Ultimate Weapon

Battling babe J-sploitation.
The story is trash, the acting is bad and the action is naff. There really is only one reason to watch Iron Girl: Ultimate Weapon: the sexy ladies. Playing the titular 'ultimate weapon' is beautiful, buxom JAV star Kirara Asuka; when she isn't wearing her figure-hugging high-tech body armour, she's in her underwear or nothing at all (in the obligatory shower scene!). Seasoned J-sploitation queen and AV actress Asami appears as Poison, Iron Girl's nemesis, and there are several other attractive women in varying degrees of undress.

As far as the plot goes, it's unremarkable stuff, with amnesiac bounty hunter Kurisu Saotome (AKA Iron Girl) taking on a series of foes in badly choreographed action scenes to try and earn enough cash to buy a device that will restore her memory (which I assume she lost in the first film, which I haven't seen). Followed by Iron Girl: Final Wars (2019), in which Iron Girl is played by wrestler Saki Akai, who hopefully handles the fighting better than Asuka.

4.5/10, rounded down to 4 for the annoying comedy relief character who shouts a lot and pulls silly faces.

Iron Sky: The Coming Race

A bad case of metal fatigue.
Timo Vuorensola's Iron Sky had a fun premise - Nazis on the moon - plus great production design and impressive visual effects (given the budget), but the film was let down by a heavy-handed script that focused too much on political satire that simply wasn't funny. There's no shortage of creativity and imagination on display in The Coming Race either, but, like before, the humour just doesn't work, with swipes at consumerism, religion and the ruling class simply not working.

Featuring everything from shape-shifting aliens to dinosaurs to spaceships to the holy grail to a hollow earth, the film should have been a lot of crazy fun (a conspiracy theorist's wet dream!), but the poor writing and lifeless direction really let this one down. Vuorensola sees fit to throw in some potentially fun OTT action, including a chase involving chariots pulled by triceratops, and Hitler riding a T-Rex, but these scenes lack a genuine sense of excitement, partly due to poor editing, partly because the effects just aren't convincing enough, and partly because Vuorensola is clearly biting off more than he can chew.

La mansión de los Cthulhu

J.P. Simón, inspired by H.P. Lovecraft.
The opening credits to Cthulhu Mansion are accompanied by numerous clichéd horror sound effects, followed by a blast of Bach's 'Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565' (you know the one!) and an image of Baphomet and a pentagram. Talk about cheesy! Sadly, the film isn't quite the wonderfully schlocky treat it at first appears to be, Juan Piquer Simón seemingly directing without the aid of a script and failing to deliver the same level of goofiness and goriness that made his slasher Pieces (1982) and creature feature Slugs (1988) so entertaining.

The film follows a gang of hoodlums-Hawk, Billy, Candy, Eva, and Chris-who, after a drug deal at a fairground turns violent, take sideshow magician Chandu (Frank Finlay) hostage, along with his daughter Lisa (Marcia Layton) and their manservant Felix (Frank Braña). The thugs decide to lie low at Chandu's mansion while the heat dies down, but find themselves victims of the malevolent supernatural power that lurks in the cellar.

The majority of the film consists of random inexplicable events (flying furniture, typewriter working by itself, home movie projector turning itself on) and unremarkable death scenes that, while certainly dumb, aren't all that fun or particularly original: randy Candy (Kaethe Cherney) is pulled inside a fridge by something creepy (shades of Ghostbusters), bad guy Billy (Paul Birchard) is trapped in a shower cubicle that rapidly fills with blood (1981 TV movie This House Possessed), Eva (Melanie Shatner) is possessed and attacked by ivy vines (The Evil Dead), her brother Chris (Luis Fernando Alvés) turns manky while he is in bed (The Exorcist), and Hawk (Brad Fisher), the gang's leader, is impaled by flying knives (Carrie).

A complete lack of logic, no nudity (unless you count glimpses of Billy in the shower-I don't!), no decent gore to speak of, and no Cthulhu (the only connection to Lovecraft's 'old one' is its name on the cover of an antique magick book) go to make this a massively disappointing muddled mess of a movie.

Curse III: Blood Sacrifice

Attack of the African Sea Demon.
A hideous, slimy sea demon wielding a machete is summoned by an African witch doctor to punish those who interrupted a sacred sacrificial ceremony.

Yeah, I know it doesn't make much sense for a creature with vicious fangs and claws to use a machete to kill, but if that's his weapon of choice, who am I to argue? Either way, those who come face-to-face with the monster wind up dead, and, in the case of sugar cane plantation foreman Mletch (Henry Cele), minus their head.

Curse III: Blood Sacrifice delivers just enough gore to keep fans of cheezy horror happy, and chucks in two pairs of bare breasts for good measure, making it a passable way to spend some time despite a lack of originality in terms of plot and execution (I would loved to have seen the little girl get slaughtered for a change). Horror stalwart Christopher Lee is on hand to show the rest of the cast how to do this sort of nonsense, the actor starring as Dr. Pearson, who may or may not be somehow involved in the killings. Lee plays his character straight but still manages to chew the scenery, his performance sometimes dangerously teetering on the edge of hamminess but never going over the edge.

With such a silly monster one might easily forgive Lee had he played his role totally tongue-in-cheek: Chris Walas's rubbery creature is only seen in its entirety at the end and it's easy to understand why - it's not that great, nowhere near as effective as the similar slimy sea monsters in Humanoids From The Deep, with which it bears a passing resemblance. Director Sean Barton maintains a steady pace, and ends matters with a fiery climax that, if anything, looks spectacular. As a fan of really trashy horror, I would liked to have seen more of the fishy beast (no matter how bad it looks) and a tad more splatter (the attack on the couple bonking in a tent was rather weak given the messy aftermath discovered later on), but I appreciate that budgetary restraints can be an issue.

5/10. Passable monster fun for fans of '80s/'90s straight-to-video horror.

The Pink Panther 2

I'm officially a glutton for punishment.
I think I laughed once during the entire 92 minutes of The Pink Panther 2, which actually means that it is marginally funnier than the previous film.

The first Steve Martin Pink Panther movie having inexplicably made a profit, the silver-haired comic returns as Inspector Clouseau for this diabolical sequel, mumbling his way through another hour and a half of childish nonsense.

As before, Clouseau has the IQ of a sponge for 99% of the film, and then, in the closing minutes, turns out to be a genius with Sherlockian deductive reasoning that enables him to solve his case and become the hero of the movie. Are we supposed to believe that Clouseau is just pretending to be a moron so that he can catch his quarry off-guard? I don't think so - it's just a case of seriously bad writing.

The excellent supporting cast includes Emily Mortimer, John Cleese, Jean Reno, Andy Garcia, Jeremy Irons, Alfred Molina and Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai, but working from such a woeful script, their combined talent is still not enough to make this movie anything but an insult to the memory of Peter Sellers and an embarrassment for all involved.

2.5/10, rounded down to 2 for Molina in a pink tutu and clutching a fluffy handbag - so predictable!

The Pink Panther

The Pink Pants-ther
Was there a better comedy movie star in the '80s than Steve Martin? The Man With Two Brains, The Three Amigos, All of Me, Little Shop of Horrors, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: the man was on fire! How the hell did he wind up making garbage like The Pink Panther?

This godawful reboot of the Inspector Clouseau series is quite possibly the least funny of the entire series. Martin, who co-wrote the script and must therefore shoulder much of the blame, somehow manages to be worse than Roberto Begnini in Son of the Pink Panther (1993), Ted Wass in Curse of the Pink Panther (1983), and Alan Arkin in Inspector Clouseau (1968), the silver haired comic making his character not just a bit dense, but a total imbecile with the IQ of a jellyfish, and thoroughly unlikable to boot.

Martin's French accent is insufferable: I know it's meant to be silly, but a lot of the time the actor is just mumbling incoherently - not just mispronouncing words a la Sellers, but adding a speech impediment or two to make matters even worse. The absolute nadir is the 'elocution' scene in which the detective is unable to pronounce the word 'hamburger' for some reason that totally escapes me. No, wait, I get it... he's so stupid that he can't even copy something parrot fashion. Hilarious!

About the only part of the film that isn't completely tedious and utterly irritating is when an uncredited Clive Owen appears as British secret agent 006, adding some much needed style and pizazz to proceedings. Shame the whole film wasn't about him instead.

At the end of the movie, the previously brainless Clouseau undergoes an about turn, suddenly becoming a genius, solving the case and becoming a hero: it makes no sense at all - a bit like spending an hour and a half of your life watching rubbish like this.

Son of the Pink Panther

Should have been aborted.
Son of the Pink Panther sees writer/director Blake Edwards attempting to reboot the Pink Panther series by introducing the offspring of Inspector Clouseau, Gendarme Jacques Gambrelli (Roberto Benigni), who is a chip off the old block. Gambrelli becomes involved in the case of the kidnapped Princess Yasmin of Lugash (Debrah Farentino), and, like his father, stumbles from one silly scenario to another, somehow coming out on top in the end.

The best of the Pink Panther films were a success, not because of their plots (Son's story line is no better or worse than most of the earlier films), but rather thanks to Sellers' comedic genius and the general lunacy of the situations Clouseau would find himself in. Benigni might be a future Oscar winner, but here he displays very little understanding of the slapstick genre, content to mug his way through Edward's uninspired set-pieces, the series' creator having clearly run out of ideas and resorted to ripping off his own work; thus we get another tired scene in Balls Emporium, someone falling out of a window while on the telephone, and mishaps with a hospital bed, all of which have been done before, and better.

Returning to the series are Herbert Lom as long-suffering Chief Inspector Dreyfus, and Claudia Cardinale, who played the princess from the first Panther movie, but who plays Maria Gambrelli in Son of..., a character from the second movie (A Shot In The Dark) originally played by Elke Sommer. Confused? I was for a while. Amused? Not really, the film delivering very few genuinely gigglesome moments.

3.5/10, mostly for the opening credits and Bobby McFerrin's rendition of Henry Mancini's theme music, rounded down to 3 for the romance between Princess Yasmin and Jacques Gambrelli - easily the most far-fetched thing to happen in the entire Pink Panther series, and that's saying something.

Curse of the Pink Panther

Better than I expected.
Alan Arkin took over the role of France's 'greatest' detective in Inspector Clouseau (1968) with disastrous results. In 1982, director Blake Edwards tried to resurrect deceased star Peter Sellers by using old footage and out-takes for Trail of the Pink Panther, with even worse results. Curse of the Pink Panther employs a much more successful (and fun) method for keeping Clouseau alive, but, for the most part, the film focuses its attention on another, no-less-inept character: American cop Sergeant Clifton Sleigh, played by Ted Wass. When Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) is instructed to use a supercomputer to select the world's greatest detective in order to find the still-missing Clouseau, he rigs the machine so that the opposite happens: Sleigh proves every bit as clumsy and clueless as the man he is sent to find.

Needless to say, Sleigh's antics aren't a match for the sublime buffoonery of Sellers' detective, but there are still laughs to be had, with several familiar faces from the previous Pink Panther movies joining in on the fun: Joanna Lumley as Countess Chandra, David Niven as Sir Charles Litton, Robert Wagner as George Litton, Capucine as Lady Litton, Harvey Korman as Auguste Balls, and Burt Kwouk as Cato. The cast also features a young Leslie Ash as high-kicking babe Juleta Shane, who helps Sleigh escape from underworld assassins employed by crime boss Bruno Langois (Robert Loggia), whose organisation has thrived in Clouseau's absence. Also look out for Denise Crosby and Bill Nighy in small roles.

Although some of the comedy is undeniably weak (the whole 'inflatable woman' segment is painfully unfunny and drawn out), the good stuff outweighs the bad: for me, the comedy highlight is Sleigh's meeting with the Littons, which involves the detective sitting on a pool inflatable with hilarious results, but I also had a lot of fun with Juleta and Sleigh's fight with Langois' henchmen, the crazy car chase in which Sleigh's taxi spends much of the time on its roof, and the very silly finalé, in which Roger Moore steals the show as the post plastic surgery Clouseau, the Bond star doing a brilliant impression of Sellers that puts Arkin's efforts to shame.

5.5/10, rounded down to 5 for the overlong running time: they should have cut the inflatable woman scene to keep it under 90 minutes.

Inspector Clouseau

C'est terrible.
I'm not against the idea of a different actor putting a new spin on an established character - I've been a fan of James Bond all my life, so I am used to that - but Alan Arkin as Inspector Clouseau is like a bad pastiche of Peter Sellers' iconic detective: Arkin doesn't do anything innovative or different with the character - he is merely content to mimic his predecessor, but minus the more physical humour we've come to expect. This, combined with a terrible script and lacklustre direction from Bud Yorkin, makes Inspector Clouseau about as funny as a trip to the guillotine.

Like Clouseau's stomach-controlled bullet belt, the film is a total mis-fire: the humour is diabolical, with Beryl Reid as the randy Scottish wife of a Scotland Yard copper (played by Frank Finlay) being particularly painful to endure, while Clouseau's obsession with the plum pudding he wins at the Edinburgh Festival (which for some reason is held in London) is just bewildering. The film's 'heist movie' plot, in which stolen money is disguised as bars of chocolate (allowing for shameless Lindt product placement) and smuggled out of the country on a slow-moving boat, doesn't allow for much excitement - a shame, because the film needs something to compensate for the lack of laughs, and some 'The Italian Job' style action would have been just the ticket.

Leading lady Delia Boccardo is an attractive woman, but totally forgettable as undercover Interpol agent, lacking the va-va-voom of Claudia Cardinal or Elke Sommer. It is up to Tracey Crisp and Katya Wyeth to add genuine sex appeal, the pair seducing Clouseau so that they are able to render him unconscious and take a mould of his face, all part of the bank robbers ridiculous plan to pin the blame on the inspector.

2.5/10, generously rounded up to 3 for IMDb - not as utterly dreadful as Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), but not far off.

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