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Like Richard Griffin?
Then immediately order a copy of "Nun of That." "Creature From the Hillbilly Lagoon" is not worth your time. It has "nun" of the sharp characterizations or dark humor of "Nun of That." What "Creature From the Hillbilly Lagoon" does have is terribly derivative script wrapped around characters you could care less about. The acting can only be described as below even the lowest low budget standards. Most likely you will be living with the fast forward button. I know I was. In fact my finger is sore from blowing through all of the infantile dialog and stupidity. This is not "good bad", it is just bad, and you have been warned. Proceed at your own peril. - MERK

Seven Psychopaths

Extremely uneven "black comedy" ......................
With Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, and Harry Dean Stanton on board, what could possibly go wrong? Well, a script that wanders all over for starters. There are scenes that just go on and on without moving the story an inch. This is especially evident in the closing desert scenes. True there are moments of sharp "dark comedy", but they cannot overcome the random storyline, which is of "made up as you go along" quality. Walken has the best lines, followed by Harrelson. Harry Dean Stanton is barely in the movie. Somehow the whole is much less than the parts, and it's a shame because if the movie had stuck more to the kidnapped dog, and less to trying to come up with a screenplay, the film would have benefited. - MERK

The Hunted

Painful to watch ......
"The Hunted" is a good example of a movie that goes on way passed it's welcome. This almost two hour debacle is beyond tedious, and the ending so protracted and ridiculous, you will be praying for the credits to roll. Christopher Lambert is the fish out of water caught up in all this nonsense, and he looks very much as confused as the long suffering viewer. You have been warned that this Samurai sword fest is unbearable, with a totally confusing script, characters we care nothing about, chopping each other to pieces. Meaningless. with zero redeeming factors, and an unbearable running time. Avoid, avoid, avoid, avoid, avoid, avoid, avoid, avoid. ......................................................................................... MERK


Funny but treads a fine line as "black comedy"
In order for "dark comedy" to work it cannot be mean spirited, and "Folks" has it's share of meanness for certain. It is pure and simple oftentimes painful to watch as poor Tom Selleck is subjected to an outrageous quantity of physical and mental abuse. The film is a very uneasy mix of slapstick, "black comedy", and stupidity. Fortunately, despite the constant shifting back and forth between comedy genres, "Folks" has enough uproarious moments that totally save the movie. It certainly is not in a class with films like "Eating Raoul", Fire Sale', or "War of the Roses", but it is worth seeing especially for those who appreciate the above mentioned movies. I would classify "Folks" as more of a near miss because of it's questionable use of what the writer must have considered "black comedy."

The Annihilators

A few chuckles here and there .....
Worth a look if you accept the limitations of fast filmed exploitation nonsense. It's a Vietnam buddy revenge plot to payback Paul Koslo and his street gang. The first part is a Vietnam set up, and is about what you might expect. When one of the ex soldiers is tortured and shot by Koslo and his thugs, his comrades come to deal with his killers. What follows is some inane dialog, hundreds of rounds ricocheting everywhere, and really nothing more than typical mayhem. Yet, there is a certain unexplainable viewing fixation mostly because of the rapidly spiraling out of control script. You get the expected explosions and car wrecks, and I suppose beyond that the best surprise is no surprise. - MERK

Florida Straits

TV movie that had great potential .......
With Raoul Julia and Fred Ward starring in "Florida Straits", one would imagine that the result would exceed average. The first half build up to the actual Cuba treasure hunt is far better than the jungle adventure that follows. The banter between Julia, Ward, and young Daniel Jenkins is entertaining, but subsides as the film progresses. Julia's motivation for the mission is a romantic reunion with a lost love, while Ward and his partner are only interested in finding a cache of hidden gold. Needless to say, things do not go exactly as planned, with the Cuban Military always in pursuit. Unfortunately the ending is so preposterous, it's a real shame, because for a TV movie this had far more potential than what is realized. - MERK


Definitely exceeds expectations ..........
Small drive in film that is really well made and entertaining. The story is straight forward and easy to follow. Someone is tampering with stunt props resulting in what appear to be accidents causing the death of multiple stuntmen. No motive is apparent, and there appear to be a number of culprits who could be the doing this. Robert Forster is the Brother of one of the victims, and he more or less takes his Brother's spot on the stunt team. As the death rate climbs, Forster remains determined to see justice done. No police are involved, as stuntmen have their own way of dealing with a comrades demise. The cast is strong, and includes the always interesting Richard Lynch. This is a movie to seek out, if you enjoy low budget films that are a very pleasant surprise. - MERK

Some Guy Who Kills People

Andy Griffith meets "Fargo" ..........
With a small town Sheriff and his bumbling Deputy, you would swear you were in Mayberry. You are not however, you are in a "Fargo" like "black comedy", that is laced with Fargo's wood chipper type violence. The story of a High School prank that has left life long scars moves along quite nicely. Acting is above average for a low budget film, with Ariel Gade especially memorable. Don't let the generic title scare you off, as you will be missing something quite original. Also, you will be tempted to watch a second viewing almost immediately in order to clarify the ending. What sets the film apart is the fact that it is willing to take chances, and the fine acting by the entire cast. Recommended for the "dark comedy" crowd. - MERK

Love at Stake

Pure, simple, simplemindedness ........
Throw your brain out the window, and you might get some chuckles from "Love at Stake", although it definitely will appeal more to the "Saturday Night Live" crowd, than those seeking a semblance of historical reality. It's extremely scattershot, with a hit or miss barrage of witch jokes revolving around town folk who could barely write their name in the dirt with a stick. Enter Witch Barbara Carrera and her push up brassiere. She is none other than Ann Ramsey in disguise, which further complicates the land grab scheme of the Judge and Mayor. Obviously this is not "Gone With the Wind" and should tickle the funny bone of those willing to wade through the simpleminded script to uncover a few gold nuggets. - MERK

From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter

One star for Michael Parks ..... The rest is typical Tarantino trash.
Too awful to even be classified as a time waster, this misguided "dog and pony show" is Stupid with a capitol S. If your idea of entertainment is watching C.G.I. images of blood sucking freaks, then be my guest, and gorge yourself on on this abomination. Even the "spaghetti western" like beginning is nothing more than rehashed material from movies that are so far above this nonsense that it is an insult to them being mentioned in the same review. "The Good the Bad and the Ugly" along with "The Treasure of Sierra Madre" are plagiarized in such an obvious way, it is a testament to how unoriginal "From Dusk Till Dawn 3 The Hangman's Daughter" truly is. This is definitely one to be avoided . - MERK

Save Me

A movie that's easy to forget ...........
Here is the short version description of "Save Me." First half seduction and sex. Second half unbelievable contrived plot, with holes the size of truck tires. Basically this is the type of movie that leaves the audience wishing they had never watched it. The film also sees fit to waste the considerable acting talent of Michael Ironside, by keeping him well in the background for the entire interminable 93 minutes. If Lysette Anthony's sex scenes are your sole reason for watching then I suggest hitting the eject button at halftime. You know the type of film where the end keeps getting more ridiculous with each rewrite, well "Save Me" is that film. - MERK

The Squeeze

Gritty kidnapping caper .........
From an American standpoint, I can confidently state that "The Squeeze" is a very good , though grim, crime drama. Understanding the British dialects is challenging as expected, however the story is compelling enough to keep one watching. Stacy Keach is excellent as the alcoholic ex detective, although his constant struggle to overcome an addiction is depressing. Carol White, as Keach's ex Wife does whatever she can to protect her Daughter, including a very erotic strip tease. Dealing with both the kidnapping and the booze is at times frustrating. I feel things could have moved along at a brisker pace. With some tightening, "The Squeeze" might have been a slightly better film. - MERK

The Forbidden Dance

My friend the Witch Doctor ........
This movie has everything. First, any film that was written on the fly, is going to be a must see. "Lambada the Forbidden Dance" certainly lives up to the lowest of expectations. The dialog is priceless, with little thought about how hilarious are the words being uttered in stone seriousness. You get Sid Haig as a roaring, yes a lion type roaring Witch Doctor with magical powers, and the always intriguing Richard Lynch as no surprise, one of the bad guys. Acting by anyone not named Haig or Lynch is to be kind, less than zero. This is all part of the fun however, and is to be expected in a film that obviously does not aspire to be "Oscar" material. I say give this one a try, especially if you like a comedy that accidentally surfaces from the depths of the exploitation basement. - MERK

Blue Thunder

Unrealistically enjoyable .....
First off the film is too long, especially the first half set up as to the true motivation behind the super copter. Second, it is a real waste of Warren Oates talent to be displayed in such a dead end character. Any no name actor could have played his part as Police Captain, since their involvement in the story is completely negligible. If you can get passed the first half, things pick up dramatically, with the helicopter showdown above the city. Perhaps a little less high tech mumbo jumbo and a tightening of the script would have helped. Roy Scheider is great as ever, although he certainly has been in better movies (see Cohen and Tate) for example. - MERK

The People That Time Forgot

Cue the explosions .......
With more pyrotechnics per minute than most war films, this "lost world" in the middle of the frozen Arctic has everything including dinosaurs, cavemen, one cavewoman, soldiers with Halloween masks on horseback, and insane dialog. There are a few redeeming factors that should be mentioned. The Santa Cruz De La Palma location shooting is fascinating and quite well photographed. The miniatures of the rescue ship plowing through ice is well done, and the airplane battle with a Pterodactyl also quite good. Remember this is an "American International" release, so don't expect miracles. Despite the wooden acting and truly abominable dialog, any movie that lassos a Stegosaurus to winch a plane out of the sand is certainly worthy of a peek into "so bad it's good" territory. - MERK

Maniac Cop 2

Almost two for the price of one ....
Double the pleasurable horror, with a nice rehash of "Maniac Cop", and how things got to the starting point of "Maniac Cop 2." There certainly is no shortage of excitement in this movie, with more than just the usual car chases, wrecks, and explosions. Everything about the stunt work and special effects is top notch. The Maniac Cop, Cordell, is a somewhat sympathetic character, despite his overwhelming propensity for violence and gore. This is one of the fastest moving films you will ever see, with little time to recover between Cordell's acts of vengeance. Still it is more a horror movie than anything, and requires the correct audience for full appreciation. Robert Davi, Michael Lerner, and Charles Napier in a smaller role were all top notch. Recommended of it's type. - MERK

Shadow of the Hawk

More a series of images than anything .........
Pretty tepid Native American spirits and shamans nonsense. Very little makes any sense, and understanding the tale being told is challenging. The film comes across more as a series of disturbing images than a coherent storyline. Jan Michael Vincent and Chief Dan George give it their best, but to little avail. Cars crashing into invisible walls, snakes catching on fire, and an ugly spirit mask appearing throughout, simply can't hold interest because of the extremely muddled script. One plus is the Canadian scenery, which is outstanding. Ultimately the film will disappoint, and it's a shame because with a tighter script this could have been quite effective. - MERK


Clever comedy ...........
Walter Matthau plays a rogue C.I.A. agent on the run from Ned Beatty and at least a bunch of C.I.A. operatives. The fact that Matthau is publishing a expose of covert operations involving both Americans and Russians, puts him on both of their most wanted lists. The pursuit does not go well for Beatty and his men, as Matthau toys with them, and seems to outwit them at every opportunity. He is aided in no small way by Glenda Jackson, a retired operative herself. All of this mayhem is played for laughs, with Matthau's deadpan humor much on display. The film is fast moving enough, which offers little opportunity to ponder just how unlikely and ridiculous things get. Recommended as lightweight entertainment, but nothing more. - MERK


Red 63 Corvette Stingray chased all over St. Louis .........
With what feels like a semi improvised script, "Stingray" is essentially one long car chase. There are some pretty nice stunts along with the requisite police car destruction, and a few pretty tepid explosions. The cast is likable, the acting not so likable, and there are at least a bunch of laugh out loud moments. For an exploitation film with zero nudity, the rest has to be entertaining, and "Stingray" is fast enough moving that interest is for the most part maintained. I will say that the film didn't end where I thought it would, but getting in some nice St. Louis / Mississippi River footage wasn't that bad a bonus. For an action comedy you could do a lot worse than this drive in low budget effort. - MERK

Crazy Mama

That's the way it was in "58" ............
"Crazy Mama" is a fabulous celebration of the Rock & Roll Era, with a free wheeling storyline, and a wonderful soundtrack. If you remember "I've Had It" by the Bell Notes, "Western Movies" by the Olympics, "Dream" by The Everly Brothers, and lots more, then this is for you. If you remember the finned cars of the late 50s, Studebakers, Edsels, Eldorados, and lots more then this is for you. The story, what little there is, involves two hairdressers robbing their way back to the family homestead in Arkansas accompanied by a bunch of misfits aged 18 to 80. Cloris Leachman and Ann Southern carry the film as the fugitive hairdressers, but everything is so frantic that things simply rush by as a blurred vision, and the plot definitely is secondary to this fantastic peek back in time. That's the way it was in "58". - MERK

Body Shot

Pathetic police work sinks overly complicated story .......
Perfect example of a small movie that tries to do too much. I knew right away with the noir voice overs things were not going to crystalize. Boy was I right, the script simply tacks on twist after twist, until the viewer has been hopelessly lost. Then there is the police who are inept throughout the entire film, as things spiral out of control. Robert Patrick or should I say "Robert Patsy" is set up for murder, takes beating after beating, has sex time after time with the femme fatale, and eludes the clueless cops without a gun as they shoot at him. Several decent actors are in this including Jonathan Banks, but to no avail, as the convoluted and overly complicated story leads the audience down a path to nowhere. - MERK

The Lady in Red

Ambitious, episodic, rambling, exploitation effort ...............
There is a lot here to like. First the film captures the 1930s time period way beyond expectations. The running board cars, flapper dresses, speak easies, tommy guns, are all well displayed. The nudity is integrated into the story, and does not appear gratuitous as in so many similar grind house movies. The who's who of character actors is impressive with Dick Miller, and Nancy Parsons memorable. Pamela Sue Martin carries the film, and her lively performance is necessary because the pacing bogs down several times, and makes the movie seem longer than it actually is. More than once I thought the credits would roll, only to have the story continue. - MERK

Malibu High

When "bad" is actually good ...........
You pretty well know what you are going to get with a first time actress in the lead, who vanishes after one film. You pretty much know what you are going to get with a script based on sensationalism and sex. What you don't know and certainly don't expect is that on strictly an exploitation entertainment level, "Malibu High" works. The fast pacing and likable characters hide most budget induced imperfections, and the California coastal locations add immeasurably. Graduating High School is a worthwhile incentive for Jill Lansing to seduce half the male faculty, work on her back in the back of a van, and eventually graduate, not from high school, but into the lucrative world of contract killing. All of this is so outrageous that it makes this "bad" movie actually good. - MERK


Return of the "Spaghetti Western". ...........
"Savate" is the reincarnation of the 1960s /1970s "Spaghetti Western", only this time around Clint Eastwood has been replaced by Oliver Gruner, and gunplay mostly supplanted by kick boxing. This uneasy combination sometimes works, but the script is so predictable that it mostly sputters along to a foregone conclusion. The film borrows heavily from Sergio Leone's masterpieces with fly catching, a death similar to Charles Bronson's Brother in "Once Upon a Time in the West", and a land grab due to the railroad coming through. Perhaps the best "borrowed" element is the score, which is extremely Morricone like, and quite good. I'm sure fans of the kickboxing movies will find plenty to criticize , and the Italian Western devotes will have seen it all before. Nevertheless, "Savate" is totally watchable, and certainly better than a lot of the lesser "Spaghetti Westerns." - MERK

Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw

Car chases check, nudity check, C&W song check, bad acting check.
Fast moving, somewhat unpredictable, outlaws on the run that works because of the enthusiastic cast. Although the acting is what you would expect from an "American International" drive in flick, things move along quick enough to rush over the imperfections. The movie seems to specialize in "skinny dipping" where miraculous bathing suits appear from nowhere. Amazing! The New Mexico scenery is fully exploited as is the audience with the double take Lynda Carter nude scene. No one seems to complain however. "Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw will never be confused with "Bonnie and Clyde", but it was never intended to compete on that level. Instead it is aimed squarely at the "passion pits" in your local drive in, where it hit's a bullseye. - MERK

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