Since I've started reviewing odd, ill-concieved and downright freaky old movies - memories of some of favorites from the past have been haunting me. Sure there are movies that I love - and some of those happen to actually be *good* movies - but what about the bad ones that I just can't get enough of? Well, that's what led me to compile this list. All this flicks rate a 10 outta 10 in our "Huh?" scale - meaning if you haven't seen them - you've just gotta! Counting down...
Number 10 - SHOWGIRLS (1995, Paul Verhoeven) - I know, I know. Everybody loves to hate SHOWGIRLS, but I was there first. I actually saw it the first time IN A MOVIE THEATER. Expecting to hate it, I just fell in love with (almost) every over-the-top minute of it. It's the only movie that actually gets better each time I watch it. Gina Gershon is pure genius. Elizabeth Berkley is sheer skank. There are so many "Huh?" moments that it boggles the mind, therefore it just had to make my list. Fans of SHOWGIRLS are encouraged to see VALLEY OF THE DOLLS and GLITTER for more wacky showbiz hilarity.
Number 9 - A SUMMER PLACE (1959, Delmer Daves) - My favorite 1950s soap opera. At two and a half hours, it's practically a miniseries! Watch as a great all-star cast (Troy Donahue, Dorothy McGuire, Richard Egan, Sandra Dee, and the AMAZING Constance Ford aka Ada Hobson on ANOTHER WORLD) chew the scenery and deliver some of the campiest dialogue ever ("Have you been bad, Johnny? Have you been bad with other girls? "). Plus the theme song is still one of the best ever. Watch it. Today.
Number 8 - ROLLERCOASTER (1977, James Goldstone) Forget JAWS and THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE - this flick is the craziest mainstream Hollywood action thriller of the 70s. The plot involves a psycho extortionist who is trying to blackmail a bunch of business executives - or something to that effect. So he gets their attention by blowing up some roller coasters."Huh?" It's worth watching just to see all the great theme park attractions and bad fashions. Plus Helen Hunt is in it.
Number 7 - HARPER VALLEY PTA (1978, Richard C. Bennett) Before the TV sitcom, there was this theatrical indie based on the #1 hit song by Jeannie C. Riley. The plot goes like this: townsfolk think slutty divorcee Barbara Eden is trashy, and they tell her so. Barbara she gets revenge on them one-by-one by exposing their deepest, darkest secrets - most of which deal with how much boozing they do. A who's who of bad 70s comedies (Nanette Fabray, Louis Nye, John Fiedler and Pat Paulsen - all on leave from THE LOVE BOAT) make up the citizens of Harper Valley - but Eden is the main attraction as the titular Stella Johnson. My only complaint is that she doesn't have her groovy genie powers anymore. Needs to be remade by David Lynch. Also see Stockard Channing in THE GIRL MOST LIKELY.
Number 6 - HOT RODS TO HELL (1967, John Brahm, James Curtis Havens) Two directors! Twice the fun! This movie feels like someone at MGM saw FASTER PUSSYCAT KILL KILL (which I consider one of the *best* movies ever made) and decided to remake for the whole family. The plot: Dana Andrews, his wife (Jeanne Crain) and annoying kids are driving across the California desert heading for a new life running a motel. Things go a bit off-kilter when they encounter a teenage bad girl and her two delinquent boyfriends. Some amazing over-the-top overacting makes this cautionary tale a real fast & furious ride for all!
Number 5 - BESERK! (1967, Jim O'Connolly) After 3 great thrillers (WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE, STRAIT-JACKET and I SAW WHAT YOU DID) - and before the career-ender known as TROG, Ms. Crawford made this amazing technicolor oddity. This time out Joan is the owner and ringmaster of a traveling circus who is driven to attract bigger audiences. When a series of bizarre murders begin, her ticket sales soar. She hires a handsome and muscular young man to help her run the show. Many suspect Joan of the killings, especially British pin-up model Diana Dors, who has set her sights on the new circus hunk. At this point, Joan's unruly daughter (Judy Geeson) shows up and joins the circus. This film has grotesque murders, a musical number performed by "freaks" AND Intelligent Poodles! Holy shit - did I just say "Intelligent Poodles"?
Number 4 - SKIDOO! (1968, Otto Preminger) Jackie Gleason! Carol Channing! Frankie Avalon! Frank Gorshin! Burgess Meredith! Cesar Romero! Mickey Rooney! Groucho Marx! Dancing garbage pails! LSD! Saw it once, I still have acid flashbacks. Nuff said.
Number 3 - THE APPLE (1980, Menahem Golan) If LOGAN'S RUN had musical numbers it would look like this. US soap star Catherine Mary Stewart, awarding-winning theater legend Miriam Margolyes and an international cast of nobodies star in this amazing mish-mosh of MTV, the book of Genesis and your worst nightmares. Great musical numbers include Bibi & Alphie's window duet, "Speed" and Pandi's Donna Summer knock off "I'm Coming". Must be seen to be believed. Do the BIM.
Number 2 - THE WILD, WILD WORLD OF JAYNE MANSFIELD (1968, Charles W. Broun Jr. Joel Holt, Arthur Knight) Decades before reality TV, my favorite busty blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield "hosts" this travelog - where she visits the world's sexiest places, encountering meeting male hustlers, drag queens, strippers, nudists, topless girl bands, and lesbians along the way. Just when we are enjoying ourselves and Jayne's naughty journeys, the film suddenly grinds to a halt with screeching tire noises, a simulated car crash, and gruesome police photos of Mansfield's fatal car accident!!! Fucking brilliant!! Wonder if Mariska Hargitay has ever seen this.
Number 1 - THE BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL (1984, Chester Novell Turner)
A friend of mine rented this "film" when she found it in the "African American Studies" section of her local video store. It's been in my collection ever since. The plot: An unattractive church lady woman buys a ventriloquist dummy with dreadlocks at a thrift shoppe. Unbeknownst to her, the "doll" is possessed by an evil spirit, and it proceeds to terrorize, torture and rape(!) her all while a Casio keyboard plays over the soundtrack. Obviously inspired by the Karen Black classic TRILOGY OF TERROR, this made-for-video atrocity is not for the squeamish ...but needs to be seen as part of any "African American Studies" curriculum .
That's our current Top Ten...I am sure I'll have many more to report on as soon as the SKIDOO acid flashbacks stop.