Topless Activism and Bad-ass Librarians

Topless Activism
Topless at the NY Public Library.

I wrote about the Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation society for The Good Men Project. Not because I enjoy admiring brave and beautiful women, but because they struck me as a force for change. First something is shocking, then it becomes controversial, then it becomes something you barely notice. Our bodies will always be sexualized to a degree, but if we stop seeing each other as consumables, it’s a good thing.

And now, Librarians recreate the Beastie Boys video for SABOTAGE:

Listen alla y’all, your book’s OVER DUE!

http://vimeo.com/66169135

Tom Selleck vs. the Daughters of Satan!

A friend of mine asked me to find this movie. His wife is Filipino, and because this was filmed in the Philippines and stars Tom Selleck- who he has a man crush on- he wanted to see it. Let me tell you, James, this is no Jesse Stone movie. It’s pretty bad, but in a good, witch-sploitation way. They get the titillation out of the way in shot one, frame one, as we see a Filipino witch suspended topless over bamboo stakes by her evil coven, who demand she renew her vows with El Diablo. She is whipped by a witch with crazy eyes, who we later learn is named Kitty Duarte, and finally gives in… we see a rogue’s gallery of obvious baddies, including a guy with a witch’s peak doing down to the bridge of his nose, and a skeletal cackling fellow… we’ll see them all again.

We immediately cut to Tom Selleck, resplendent in a perfectly trimmed porn ‘stache, as he goes into a creepy little antique shop run by Mr. Widow’s Peak, who is selling a clueless tourist a witch’s knife. It’s a huge dagger with a serpentine handle, and the tourist is buying it “for luck.” I’m a knife nut and even I don’t have a Lucky Sacrificial Dagger… maybe I should get one? If I go to the Philippines, I’ll look for one. Maybe I’ll be attacked by titwitches. That would be awesome, except for the sacrificing me to the devil part. At the shop, Selleck sees a painting of witches being burned at the stake, where the lead witch is a dead ringer for his wife. Horror movie rule #43: Never buy a painting of a dead person that resembles you or your loved ones. It is haunted, you dumbass.

Even Tom’s hairy chest cannot protect him from what is to come. He looks like he rolled around on a barber shop floor, doesn’t he? (Thanks to Milky for that one.) His wife is played by Barra Grant, a hottie best known for being Miss America Bess Myerson’s daughter, and starring in the Bill Cosby flick MOTHER, JUGS & SPEED before giving up on film. She is immediately freaked out by the painting, and who wouldn’t be? There are two witches, a black dog, and a mustached Spaniard in conquistador gear in the painting, who looks like Selleck, of course. Even though she’s playing the Typical 70’s Housewife, who jumps on chairs when mice attack, and still faints at the sound of a dog fart, it’s pretty creepy for your husband to come home and say “Hey, I bought this painting of a woman being burned alive because SHE LOOKS LIKE YOU!”

Lies. He never fights Satan.

I mean, if Firecracker came home with a photo of a guy being hanged who looked like me, I’d hide all the damn rope. And her instincts are correct. Not long after the painting comes home, than weird things start happening. A black Rottweiler appears in the yard, and he loves Barra but snarls at Selleck. We see the dog run off, and fade into the grass. Wouldn’t you know it, the dog in the painting has faded away? Hmm, wonder what that means. Soon, one of the women in the background fades, just as their new housekeeper shows up for work. And guess who she looks like? Cue the theremin! Creepy shit be afoot!! Really, I hope the horror movie association gave Dr. Theremin some posthumous award for all he’s done for these films. The soundtrack here is relentless, and it does help, because it’s all rather silly.

Soon Barra falls under her housekeeper’s spell, and investigators are brought in, and die suspicious deaths! Tom gets knocked out, put in his Triumph roadster on the edge of a cliff, with blocks of ice chocking the tires.  Will he survive? This is a rare case of a film giving away plot twists with its lobby cards, as you can see below. Wifey gets witchy, and shows off her jugs at the one hour mark as she too is suspended over the bamboo spikes, forced to say the devil’s prayer. It’s all rather predictable and over the top, and can be a lot of fun if you know what you’re getting into. I was surprised that Turner Classic Movies showed it uncut, because the topless scenes aren’t quick shots. This is pure ’70s exploitation. I liked the ending, but wish there were a lot more witchy goings on, and that Tom Selleck battled Satan, like the poster promises.

I love a good ’70s occult flick, and this one delivers. I also love cheesy films from the Philippines, like the Weng Weng James Bond spoofs. So this is a win-win for cheesy horror, perfect for this witchy time of year. If you can track it down, it’s worth seeing, if only to see early Tom Selleck battle a coven of sexy witches.

© 2010 Tommy Salami

Up from the Depths (of the terlet)

Twice the fins, for twice the fun! No.

Nothing scares you like the stuff that scared you as a kid. Some of my favorite movies remain the ones I sneak-watched by peeking out the door of my bedroom at the tender age of 8. Alien. The Thing. Up from the Depths… one of these things is not like the other, you say? Well, I dug up this fossilized turd from the ’70s to re-watch it, and damn, this ripoff is so far from Jaws that it makes Jaws 3-D look like a masterpiece.

The director letting you know he’s gonna have fun with this…

Set on the fictional Hawaiian isle of Mahu, this killer fish picture by the writer of Death Race 2000 and Little Shop of Horrors shows that he should have stuck to writing. It begins with a pretty girl diving alone while a Peter Fonda lookalike lounges in the boat. Scary music thumps at us, like the Cookie Monster playing the piano, as she swims through craggy reefs. Suddenly she turns around and poof, blood in the water! Severed arm in the water! The boat dude- who later turns out to be a scientist- notices the seas roiling around the boat, and dumps his brandy snifter to scoop up some bloody water. I wish he’d have drank it and done a spit-take, but no such luck.

I asked for a Bloody Mary, but this is ridiculous!

Later on the beach, some annoying fat rich tourists get slimed with innards that the dorky hotel director- who looks remarkably like Ted the Lawyer from “Scrubs”- tells him is chum. Yeah, human chum. As El Dorko Mr. Forbes rants to sexy gal Rachel, our eye candy for this picture, and they come upon a severed shark’s head on the beach. He thinks it’s a prank played by the Captain Earl and Greg, two swindlers who take folks looking for the “Kahuna Maru,” a shipwreck containing stuff like “an ivory and jade handled samurai sword, work like eight hundred bucks.” The Captain sounds like a cross between Jack Elam and Burl Ives doing an impression of Dr. Gonzo. His assistant Greg, he of the impressive muttonchop sideburns, plants cheap treasure on the wreck for their marks to find later. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

Jimmy Buffet as a young douche

Next, a French tourist gets pulled into the water while taking photos of a young hottie, and large fins are spotted by kids on the glass bottomed boat. One of the local divers finds a severed hand, but Forbes tells him to throw it away, since it wasn’t found on his property. The dorky hotel guy has the best lines, though. “There are no sharks in the Hawaiian archipelago!” “The ocean is fine! I go in it all the time! I drink it!” Tropical Palace, situated on the lovely island of Mahu- which is obviously between Maui and Oahu- seems to encompass the whole island, have no police or security, and is peopled with strange, dubbed people. I love the little touches, like when the cook is roasting a pig, some guy in a big floppy hat walks by and says, “Remember what I said! Don’t cook it too long, or it’ll shrink!”
“Hey, the fish were there first!” says the scientist, who of course wants to study it, and become famous, even if that means letting it eat a bunch of bathers. After the first attack, when the huge grouper-like prop smashes a gondola and chomps a bunch of cliff divers, he rescues the known characters and leaves the poor native divers to hang on the sides of the rocks like bait. My favorite scene is of course the gratuitous titty interlude, where a photographer is doing a shoot with a leggy model. Hey, I was like 10 when I first saw this. Gimme a break. She first poses on a net on a catamaran, and then scuba dives topless, enraging the fish’s delicate sensibilities. Either that or her buoyant boobies look like puffer fish, its natural prey. No one seems to care that the model and photographer just got eaten; they don’t even try to grab her hand as it reaches from the water! Now, talk about the fragility of memory. I distinctly remembered her severed boob and the camera floating to the bottom, the flash going off as it bounced along the rocks. But I guess even this movie had limits. So I guess that says more about my morbid imagination than horrible movies of the late ’70s.
Greg and the scientist’s flunky, armed with an M16 and a shotgun, try to gun it down from dock, but it rams the pilings and chomps on one of them. “Oh my God, it’s a monster fish!!!” Everyone runs from the water, and keeps running, through the luau, the Tiki bar, and beyond, as the Thurston Howell lookalikes watch with disinterest. A husband slaps his wife, yelling at her, “fish can’t walk!!” “But everybody’s running!!” “Fish can’t run either!!”
Which to me, was the best part of the whole movie. It’s sort of like a cross between Black Lizard’s muddled Club Dread and well, any number of Jaws ripoffs, because it doesn’t take itself seriously. Jaws gave us good reason to go into the water- the shark was killing not just tourists, but the town’s livelihood, and they hire shark-hunter Quint to put himself in harm’s way. Brody and Hooper have their own reasons; knowledge and conquering fear. But in any number of copycats, you could just stay the hell out of the water, have a damn drink by the pool and forget about it. Even a movie this lousy knows that, and makes good jokes out of it.

When Forbes offers a thousand dollar reward for whoever kills the fish, the middle-aged tourists grab the spears from the Tiki lounge to go after it in a drunken stupor. Scuba divers with spearguns, hunters with rifles and crossbows, and of course, the ubiquitous Japanese tourist with nothing but a towel wrapped sumo style, sunglasses, and a samurai sword. But the best of all are the rednecks with the homemade propane flamethrower. That works as well as expected. Another favorite is when a diver gets bitten, without his wetsuit being punctured. “His insides are all busted.” This time, the fish retracted its teeth and gummed him to death. But the best part is that they use his body as bait! They wrap him up with plastic explosive, and go trolling with the corpse. So despite the lousy production values and inane dialogue, this slapdash piece of craptacular celluloid has its redeeming qualities. Sure, Quint used Hoopah as bait, but would he have used his corpse for chum? Yeah, I’m pretty sure he would’ve, actually.

Beers Required to Enjoy: 3
Could it be remade today? Fish Movie!
Quotability Rating: There are no quotes in the Hawaiian Archipelago!
Cheese Factor: There is no cheese in the Hawaiian Archipelago!
High Points: The goofs
Low Point: My own depraved imagination
Gratuitous Boobies: Lots

What’s a Boogen?

My childhood friend Ruben had a knack for making any movie sound like the most awesome thing ever. He’s the reason I watched Halloween III: Season of the Witch against all my better judgment, and his review of The Boogens, a cheesy B-movie monster flick with voracious critters released from a mine explosion, is why I watched this oddly named bit of drive-in fodder. He’s never let me down.
The Boogens lures you in with its stupid title; what the hell is a boogen? Is it a snot monster? Or something like a boogeyman? You only hear it once, when the crazy old miner trying to warn everybody- by scowling creepily from afar- finally says his piece. Decades ago, a mine collapse killed dozens in the sleep mountain town of Silver Something. (I’m not going back to look it up.) Now, a new company wants to re-open the mine, and two young guys named Mark (the nice guy) and Roger (the horndog) sign up to work it. All Roger talks about is boning his girlfriend Jessica, who’s driving up in a Beetle with her sensible friend Trish, and her annoying as hell poodle, Tiger.

Hi, I’ll be your Steve Guttenberg equivalent for the evening.

It is rare when you root for the dog to be killed in a horror movie, but I rooted for Tiger to be eaten. And I got my wish. The miners blast open the collapsed tunnel and find piles of human skulls and bones. If The Boogens had a little more budget, it might have been a precursor to The Descent, but no such luck. It’s really not scary, but might have been worth seeing at a drive-in, when your date would clutch you whenever the monster roared or flung one of its bizarre clawed appendages (complete with whip sound effect)!

Gonna put on my Boogen shoes! Disco inferno!

As it goes in the horror genre, the horniest people die first. Even though Mark’s sweet bozo demeanor will eventually get him into Trish’s down jacket, they’re wholesome and become our heroes. Come to think of it, I don’t think Roger ever gets to be “Hormone Man,” and leap over tall women with a single bound, as he hopes. So you got a nice reversal there. But soon, dogs and people start disappearing, and claws start gouging their way through the floor heater grate to come getcha. The monster’s arms resemble the critters from It’s Alive 3: Island of the Alive a bit, and you never get a full look at what a boogen really looks like. It’s sort of like a snapping turtle with really long limbs and a whiplike tail that grabs you and pulls you into the water, or through the door, or wherever the partial monster puppet is sticking out of.

Don’t do this:
or you get this:

And that’s cool. It’s certainly a unique monster, pulled out of the writer’s ass, and it sure likes to hook people and drag them back to the mine for feasting. So besides killer turtles, The Boogens also has a crazy old miner with dynamite going for it:

Git off mah land!

And as was expected in any horror film in 1981, we get some boobage but it’s nothing to write home about. Trish is cute and has a nice pair that she demurely bares, but Jessica manages to get nearly yanked through a heating vent, chased all around the cabin throwing tea kettles and boxes of bric-a-brac at the boogen interloper without losing her towel. I bet if she threw the towel over the monster’s head, she could have run naked into the snow, and then run up to a store window and cut the glass open with her nipples, and survived. And I would have loved to see it.
The Boogens is best visited as an early 80’s creature feature that manages to keep your interest with some amusing victims and a unique, if somewhat silly monster. I would have liked to hear the crazy miner- the modern equivalent of a grizzled prospector I suppose- tell more tales of how he survived the boogens, but he barely lasts five minutes before falling victim to his age old nemesis. Sucks how that happens. Even Quint got to stick a knife in the shark’s face. Poor old Crazy Guy throws some ineffectual sticks of dynamite that should have made some turtle soup.
According to IMDb, In his Twilight Zone Magazine review, author Stephen King called The Boogens… “A wildly energetic monster movie!” For this movie to be called “energetic,” Steve would have had to have been beard deep in a mine shaft full of cocaine.

Beers Required to Enjoy: 3
Could it be remade today? Oh please, oh please…
Quotability Rating: enh… hormone man?
Cheese Factor: Limboogen
High Points: weird critters, crazy miner
Low Point: Amazing krazy glued on towel!
Gratuitous Boobies: One close-up, one side boob:

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=plyoto-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=0782008062&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Trick or Treat, smell my feet, give me some heavy metal to eat!

Trick or Treat is the king of the Heavy Metal Horror movies of the ’80s. It’s not the scariest, nor does it have the best music, or the best monster make-up, but it has Ozzy and Gene Simmons, so it wins by default.
I’ve wanted to see this movie for years. Like the infamous Black Roses, where Vincent Pastorelli gets eaten by a wall speaker, Trick or Treat was infamous for Ozzy, Gene, and a scene where a girl gets raped by a demon in a car parked on lover’s lane. That scene turned out to be sillier than scary. I mean, after the tree rape from The Evil Dead, the bar is set pretty high on the disturb-o-meter for this sort of thing. But nothing brings back the mid-late ’80s like reminiscing about when Al Gore’s wife colluded with the religious right to protect children from “porn rock,” leading to some of the most hilarious Senate hearings ever recorded.
But the movies took a different tack; they went for the idea that maybe our heavy metal bands were demons sent to possess and kill us. Trick or Treat does even better. It begins with loser metal kid Eddie Weinbauer getting teased and bullied in school by the jocks, for well, being the only metal head. They prank him into running naked into the gym while the girls are playing volleyball, and for a moment I thought the story was going to be good and disturbing in a Stephen King sort of way, because he looks really pitiful as he squirms belly first back into the locker room. But no, it quickly reverts to exactly what you’d expect from this kind of picture.
And that’s not bad. Movies are all about expectations; sometimes we’re joyfully surprised. This isn’t one of those times, but if you want to see a demonic heavy metal singer return from the dead, it certainly delivers. Weinbauer’s idol is Sammi Curr, a hair metal douche who testifies before congress that if they try to censor him, “we will take you down!!!” It was a cute nod to the PMRC circus that Tipper created, which eventually led to those “Parental Advisory – Explicit Lyrics” stickers on certain CDs. Shortly thereafter, Sammi dies in a hotel fire, and Eddie is crushed. He thinks about suicide, but instead visits his one metal buddy, the DJ named Nuke- played by Gene Simmons. Nuke gives him a tape that has Sammi’s latest song on it.
At home, Eddie plays Sammi’s new record over and over, until the backmasked track summons his evil spirit back from the grave! First it seems like nothing much. When the jocks try to get revenge for Eddie leading them on a wild chase through school that ends with them spraying the faculty lunch room with a fire extinguisher, the metal shop comes alive (heh, get it? METAL shop?) and threatens to drive a spike through Lead Jock Douche’s eyeball. But Eddie’s a pussy, and calls off his metal minions. But soon, Sammi’s spirit has a mind of its own, and wants to get his evil mix tape played on the radio, so he can… I dunno, come out of your radio and look like the undead member of Motley Crue? Sammi doesn’t really do much when he manifests his power except zap a few people into dust and ’80s clothing.
The one girl who takes pity on Eddie gets demon raped into a coma by Sammi, after he lends her that tape before knowing its power. Sinister stink lines ooze out of the stereo and seduce her, taking off her clothes for our amusement, and then solidify into a Satanic Sammi slug monster that slips her the supernatural salami. It wouldn’t be a heavy metal horror movie without the boobies, and it manages to jam every ’80s fear about the music- suicide, porn lyrics, backwards tracks, and Satanism- into one package. So while the story flops all over the place, unsure whether Eddie Weinbauer should be a villain bent on revenge or a sympathetic dork turned hero, it is a lot of fun for fans.
Part of it is worth it just to see Ozzy with his hair neatly parted, playing the part of a smarmy religious figure attacking his own music, and Gene Simmons playing a DJ. They have small roles, however, and evil Sammy gets defeated by a toilet at one point. He’s not really that scary, doesn’t have any cheesy lines like in latter-day Freddy Krueger movies that might make him better company if he’s not going to be frightening. No such luck. It also doesn’t help that our hero is Marc Price, “Skippy” from Family Ties. He’s decent enough, but he’s no Steven Dorff in The Gate!
Trick or Treat is decent fun for metal fans, with music by Fast Eddie from Motorhead and Dave King of Flogging Molly. It’s sadly lacking in gore, as the demonic singer’s power mostly consists of zapping people with electricity and making them turn to dust. Nowadays it’s most worth watching for the cameos, which also includes Glen Morgan- director of Final Destination– as Eddie’s nerdy pal and only friend. It’s pretty obvious why he went into directing, but he’s better than most of the cast!

Beers Required to Enjoy: 2
Could it be remade today? only if hair metal returns…
Quotability Rating: low
Cheese Factor: Motorheadcheese
High Points: Cameos
Low Point: lame villain
Gratuitous Boobies: one scene, but they are nice 

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=plyoto-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B000096FVG&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

80’s Trash of the Week: Dragonslayer

For how awesome dragons are, there aren’t that many good movies with them. One of the few is 1982’s Dragonslayer, which resists being a pure action or fantasy film and injects plenty of social and religious commentary, manages some excellent special effects for its time, a dragon design that has no dinosaur influence, and an interesting take on magic. It has a slow start, but is very rewarding, as its tale references the draft and the entitlement of those in power, and also gives us one of the meanest and bloodiest dragons in movie history. Until we get to see Smaug rendered by Jackson and del Toro, I think this is the best we’ve got.
In Peter MacNicol’s first role, he plays Galen, a young acolyte to the aged and powerful wizard Ulrich, played by Ralph Richardson. The people have come beseeching him for aid in stopping the dragon that lives in the mountains. The king, Casiodorus Rex, has put in force a lottery in which all unmarried girls take part, even his own daughter. Those chosen are sacrificed to the dragon, left chained before its lair, and this keeps it from ravaging the countryside. It’s a bargain with the devil, and the people have had enough; they want Ulrich to kill it.
They are led by the young Valerian, still boyish of face but brave and charismatic. He brings a dragon scale to show Ulrich, who gives us the whole backstory in a mere sentence: If it weren’t for sorcerers, there wouldn’t be any dragons. Once, the skies were dotted with them. Magnificent horned backs, leathern wings… soaring… and their hot-breathed wind. Oh, I know this creature of yours… Vermithrax Pejorative. Look at these scales, these ridges. When a dragon gets this old, it knows nothing but pain, constant pain. It grows decrepit… crippled… pitiful. Spiteful! Ulrich seems also to be one of the last of his kind, old and nearly forgotten- but still feels responsible for the dragons his sorcerous kind unleashed on the world with their magic. As they implore him, the king’s chief thug Tyrian arrives to taunt him. The wizard is a threat to the king’s power, so Tyrian demands a test of his magic, to shake the people’s faith in him.No, of course not. They never do tests. Not many real deeds either. Oh, conversation with your grandmother’s shade in a darkened room, the odd love potion or two, but comes a doubter, why, then it’s the wrong day, the planets are not in line, the entrails are not favorable, “we don’t do tests”! So Ulrich does a test, plunging a dagger into his heart… oopsie! He didn’t pass the test. But his wisdom lasts beyond the grave. He sends his acolyte Galen and his doddering servant Hodge to bring his ashes to the Lake of Fire, and the adventure begins. They follow Valerian and his retinue on the road back to their village, with Tyrian not far behind, still plotting his murderous chicanery. Along the way, Galen goes for a morning swim with Val against his wishes, and finds his secret- he’s a she, raised as a boy by her father to keep her from the lottery. When I first saw this- they played it in the Franklin Middle School library, along with The Dark Crystal, to keep us from gnawing on the books during Study Hall- I remember the teacher’s aide’s shock at the boobies. We all tittered. Nowadays she’d have been fired, but we didn’t tell on her.

Galen being the cocky hero of the film, he decides to take on the dragon all by himself. He has Valerian lead him to its lair, where prior to their arrival, the King’s men have sacrificed a lovely lass to it. We get to see her bloody struggle with her shackles, only to be roasted alive by the great beast. The film doesn’t reveal the dragon’s full form until late in the picture, but we see it grab for her with a birdlike talon and smash a wagon with its immense tail. When Galen arrives, the drake is sleeping off its food coma of virgin flambe, so when he causes a rockslide to block its lair, he thinks that’s that. And goes to tell the King that he’s solved their dragon problem, and all the virgins can stop being roasted, and be deflowered instead. Even Valerian buys into the false hope, as her village throws a festival and burns a straw dragon, and she reveals her long-kept secret. Bad move.
Tyrian drags Galen before the King, where he performs some silly magic tricks; he’s nervous and has performance anxiety. Casiodorus Rex is a pompous fellow who doesn’t care much for his people, and he keeps his own daughter Elspeth from the lottery. When the dragon bursts forth from its lair and goes all Trogdor on the villages and the peasants, he imprisons Galen for his impudence, and holds a special lottery, planning to fix it so Valerian will get toasted.
Luckily Elspeth visits Galen, and he tells her she’s been spared all these years by her father. And with youthful outrage, she decides to pay back the people for his mistreatment, by putting her own name on all the lottery tiles. The lottery mimics the draft, which is supposed to be fair, but always seems to have loopholes that tilt it in favor of the well-off; Elspeth’s noble sacrifice emphasizes the corruption of her father; she’s so disgusted by him that she’d rather die.
Once his daughter’s fate is sealed, the King releases Galen to let him fight the dragon. The local priest, played by Ian McDiarmid- who’d go on to famously play the Emperor in the Star Wars films- has already tried calling forth the Hand of God on the creature, and got barbecued for his trouble. So Galen is their only hope. He approaches Valerian and her blacksmith father, who just happens to have a totally kick-ass spear he’s been hiding. His best work, he shows off its puissance by shaving shards of metal off a horseshoe with it. Galen fires it up with Ulrich’s magic amulet, and they make a weapon worthy of dragonslaying out of it. Valerian, being the smart one, wanders to the creature’s lair and gathers its fallen scales to make a fireproof shield.
The story follows the legend of St. George and the Dragon somewhat, with the lottery and virgins appeasing the beast, but it has plenty of its own nice touches. Before Galen rides off, Valerian is miffed with him; she doesn’t want him to die to save the princess. Now, in a common story he’d save her and get him some royal nookie, but this one has better ideas. Ones that got Disney a lot of hate mail for producing this picture, even though Paramount distributed it. Tyrian, the crabby bastard played with evil glee by John Hallam of Lifeforce (full review) tries to kill Galen one more time before he can save Elspeth, but her noble sacrifice won’t be denied- she crawls into the dragon’s lair while they’re battling.
When Galen goes after her, he finds her gruesome end, as the dragon’s litter fights over the meat on her bones. The little ones look and act like hungry bulldogs, and I’m sure many a child’s nightmares were stoked by the image of her severed foot in one’s mouth! This is what makes the movie so memorable- it sank it at the box office, but made it a sure cult favorite. It’s so nasty. And to make it even better, Galen kills all the dragon babies before going after momma. Compare this to pap like Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World where it is morally repugnant to kill giant lizards that want to eat your intestines, and aiming a gun at one is a sure death sentence that the audience is supposed to cheer. I’m waiting for Jurassic Park 4: Nuke the Site from Orbit before I watch another JP sequel.
The dragon itself, when Vermithrax Pejorative finally reveals itself, is quite impressive. It is birdlike, but looks like it can really fly, with its huge bat wings, a pointy tooth-spangled snout unlike the saurian faced one in Dragonheart. And it is frickin’ huge. Galen wisely lures it out after his shield saves him from huge gouts of flame, and stabs it with his magic spear, but it is just too powerful for one man to kill. He gets dashed around and barely escapes with his life. Valerian finds him outside, after the dragon sees its dead babies and goes to take vengeance on the countryside. He is about to give up, when he remembers the whole point of the quest- to bring Ulrich’s ashes to the Lake of Fire.

You don’t pay for a big name like Ralph Richardson and just kill him off in the first five minutes. Ulrich couldn’t make the journey, so he killed himself and resurrected! Talk about lazy. But it works. And he’s a great wizard- he was God in Time Bandits, he’s got that great voice and presence, with profound eyebrows punctuating his every expression. He takes the dragon head on, battling a spectacular clifftop duel with his powerful magic- making a solar eclipse and a thunderstorm for starters- against the dragon’s malevolent fire and ferocity. It’s well done and imaginative, and we get a fantastically gory dragon corpse at the end. What’s not to like?
Writer-director Matthew Robbins, who also gave us the quirky Legend of Billie Jean (full review) we’ve covered before, gives a marvelously cynical ending where the people come upon the dragon’s corpse and praise God for delivering them from its terror, ignoring all the work Galen and Ulrich did. And to top it off, Casiodorus Rex struts up to stick a sword in it, and his head flunky declares him “the dragonslayer.” It’s a wonderful bit of commentary in an otherwise straightforward fantasy film, and Valerian and Galen ride off into the sunset, to make sure she can’t be a virgin sacrifice anytime soon.

Dragonslayer flopped at the box office but was a smash on cable where I watched it many times. The shooting locations in Wales, well documented on Wikipedia, are gorgeous and often unearthly, cementing our belief in the fantasy realm that is never named. The little hints that sorcerers created dragons give us a peek at an interesting backstory without dwelling on it too much or miring itself in verbal exposition. Peter MacNicol, who’d go on to Ally McBeal and great roles in Sophie’s Choice, and most memorably over the top in Ghostbusters 2 (full review) made a great debut here. This is the kind of great trash you can enjoy, even if Pauline Kael probably wouldn’t.
Caitlin Clarke did a fine role as Valerian in and out of drag, and had a bigger theatrical career than one in film. She does appear in Penn & Teller Get Killed, Crocodile Dundee and Blown Away, but tragically, she died in 2004 of ovarian cancer. She had an organic talent, and her nasal voice and pleading blue eyes, paired with her plucky attitude made her quite adorable in this film. Rest in Peace, Caitlin, and know you infatuated many a young teenage boy back in ’82. I think you made me wear out the VCR’s pause button.


Beers Required to Enjoy: 1
Could it be remade today? Can’t see why not.
Quotability Rating: low
Cheese Factor: mild English cheddar
High Points: the dragon, dude!
Low Point: slow in spots, and an insipid score.
Gratuitous Boobies: split second, but nice.

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80’s Trash of the Week: The Warrior and the Sorceress

As much as I love Conan the Barbarian, I have to blame all the terrible sword & sorcery movies that followed on its great success. Even David Carradine got into the act with 1984’s The Warrior and the Sorceress, where he plays Kain the warrior. Not Kwai Chang Kane, either. In this post-apocalyptic remake of Yojimbo, he wears a black cloak with a red stripe, and carries the finest sword and throwing knives to be had at at the Rennaissance Faire.And as you can guess from the title, there’s a sorceress, but she comes later. We meet Kain as he struts into a town lorded over by the thugs of Bal Caz and Zeg the Tyrant, who battle over control of the town well. When Kain comes to town, he is met by Bludge the Prelate – everyone here is named after a Tarot card or something- who tells him the score. Carradine plays Kain as cool as usual, with a sly grin that says “yeah, I’m starring in a real piece of shit this time.”

And the Oscar winner for fight choreography isn’t…

Bal Caz looks like Andrew Zimmern with a topless slave girl on his right and a talking Gila monster advisor on his left. Kain starts playing the two bad dudes against each other in true Yojimbo style- though to be true, the story was Dashiell Hammett’s first, with Red Harvest. The thugs didn’t even bother to cut their mullets or grow them out, but that makes it even more entertaining. Zeg looks like Robert Patrick with hemhorroids, and he holds Naja the Sorceress prisoner; he wants her to create for him the “Sacred Sword of Yura” which can cut stone, I think. Because he tries to chop stone with his sword, and when it breaks, he slaps her around.

It was tough to find this rare photo of the Sorceress with clothes on.

In this post-apocalyptic hell-world, not only is the water is controlled by sword slobs in ragtag outfits, but the women are forbidden from wearing any tops. Especially the sorceresses. All the time. Now, you know I like the boobies and love sharing them, but this is like Carradine is leading a National Geographic exploration to the lost tribe of the sword-wielding bikers and their boobie bitches. Soon Kain has the two leaders in a gang war, the diaper-clad Bal Caz on his litter vs. Zeg and mullet marauders; while they mess around, Kain kidnaps the Gila monster critter and the sorceress- who was part of an order he once served- and exchanges them. So the bad guys… trade them back. I think this was to buy him time to help Bludge escape, at the Sorceress’s request. But I was too blinded by boobies to pay attention. Or I was writing this. You figure it out.

Tonight on Bizarre Foods, I’m going to eat Yoda.

So then he has to go back and save the Sorceress again, by siding with Zeg and asking to see her. By now, Zeg’s captain Queef (okay, it was probably Kief) is getting suspicious, especially after the Sorceress escapes. She’s now stripped down to a thong, and I began to realize that nudity was her power, like Samson’s hair. Kain sets her free from low-budget cross between Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors and an octopus, but Queef is onto him by now. Played by Anthony de Longis who was Blade from Masters of the Universe (full review) and recently starred in Jet Li’s Fearless, he’s actually quite surprisingly entertaining in this. Sort of like Ben Foster in 3:10 to Yuma, the Z movie version.

Queef

They trick Kain by having a four-titted exotic dancer distract him at dinner. I wish I was kidding. The 3-boobed chick from Total Recall, eat your heart out. But this gal has a snake in her cooch or something that strikes Kain and makes him fall unconscious, but not before he tries to choke her to death. If you find yourself forced to watch this movie, fast forward to this scene if only to see David Carradine’s face when the dancer with four boobs dances out. It’s hilarious. If his eyebrow got any higher it would be off his forehead. I guess they had so many scenes with Maria Socas topless that the only way to top it was to come up with a double-breasted dancer.

Four tits, huh? Let me count those again.

They beat up Kain but he escapes while they’re fighting, thanks to yet another subplot with Burgo the Slaver, who sort of looks like a giant Jawa. If Jawas looked like leather-faced pig people under their hoods. He comes back for revenge and soon his slavers have killed the two bad guys and enslaved the whole town, including Bludge the Prelate. But luckily for us, the Sorceress has saved Kain for a change, and turned his sword into the Sacred Blade of Yura, which can cut through styrofoam anvils like BUTTA. Between Kain and his sword, and Naja with her dagger and battle thong, it’s not long before they are free. Even though Queef steals the Urine sword, Kain is able to defeat him, because David Carradine is such a bad-ass.

I will trade you all my slaves for some sunblock!

Beers Required to Enjoy: 3 or some kleenex & lotion
Could it be remade today? Not until 2084
Quotability Rating: zilch
Cheese Factor: Wisconsin
High Points: Holy shit that chick has four boobs!
Low Point: I think I overdosed on boobs
Gratuitous Boobies: Boobolplex from 09:36 till the end



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