Video Valium

The inspiration for this article came half-way through a film called ‘Mankillers’, after I suddenly realised it was such a good movie I’d spent the past ten minutes tossing a coin (for the record, 49 heads, 42 tails). In Trash cinema, boring does not mean the same thing as bad. Ed Wood Jr. may have made some monumentally awful movies (‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ has become a classic) but they were boring. Being dull is the worst crime in the book: I’d rather watch a film that annoys the hell out of me for whatever reason (‘The Accused’ and most of Linnea Quigley’s movies, albeit for slightly different reasons) than one which sends me to sleep. So
here, more as a warning than anything else, is a list of ten films each of which is the cinematic equivalent of a handful of barbiturates.

Ilsa, the Wicked Warden

All time king of the B-movie (where B stands for ‘boring’) has got to be Jess Franco. Though occasionally capable of turning out a classy shocker, as he did with ‘Faceless’, this can be regarded as a fluke : given the man’s huge output, sooner or later he would make a good movie entirely by chance. This is just a sample, many other movies of his could have been chosen – it’s nothing but a succession of totally uninteresting atrocities (half of which are inflicted on the director’s wife, f’heaven’s sake!), and even Dyanne Thorne can do nothing to enliven it.

Wings of Desire

Wim Wenders’ movies are never very exciting at the best of times – ‘Paris, Texas’ takes two hours to build to the highpoint of Nastassja not taking her clothes off – but this one takes the biscuit in the Art-House category because a lot of invisible dead people walking around Berlin just isn’t in the slightest bit interesting. It’s shot in B&W too, for that extra added dimension.

Driller Killer

A sample ‘video nasty’ – most of the ones on the list are bad, at least in the artistic sense, but this is one we ought to be grateful to the police for suppressing. Watching someone slowly go insane accompanied by a gratingly dull sub-punk soundtrack isn’t my idea of fun, nor is watching down and outs getting cheap special effects inflicted on them.

Transylvania 6-5000

Most horror comedies sacrifice the horror element and play everything for laughs. ‘Transylvania 6-5000’ adopts the unique approach of not having any humour in it either. Jeff Goldblum has no talent for comedy at all (cf ‘The Tall Guy’ for proof) and once you strip away the sheer ludicrousness of the plot (leaving it ludicrousnessless?), what have you got? Geena Davis in gratuitous lingerie. This is not quite enough to sustain interest for 90 minutes.

The Streetwalker

Walerian Borowczyk is another director who didn’t make it onto the short list for ‘Robocop 2’. Plot is usually sacrificed on the high altar of sex, nowhere more so than in this movie, but whaddya looking for
from a film starring Sylvia Kristel and Joe d’Allesandro? Hell, it’s even normal sex which is not what we’ve come to expect from Borowczyk – where’re the nuns?

The Comic

Mention this film to anyone who was at the Splatterfest in January 1990 and watch them blanch. Never before has a film had a leading man so devoid of charisma, talent or wit. This is the only film in the list that I’ve seen twice, purely because I couldn’t believe it was that dull. It was, solely due to this lead performance. When I was in primary school, we used to put on plays that were acted with more venom.

The Trip

Like wow, man! A really beautiful experience, you dig? Is it hell! Perhaps I approached this film with a bad attitude i.e. without a kilo of Columbian talcum-powder up each nostril. Far more effective than ‘Just Say No’, try to imagine a bad acid house promo video played very slowly and you’ll begin to appreciate what Roger Corman’s psychedelic cash-in has to offer.

Assault of the Killer Bimbos

The ultimate case of a movie failing to live up to the title. Two vacuous, talentless go-go dancers (art imitating life here?) go on the run, pick up a vacuous, talentless waitress and meet three vacuous, talentless surfer dudes. One of the bimbos looks slightly (but not enough) like Wendy James. A vacuous, talentless ripoff of Russ Meyer’s ‘Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!’.

Mondo Topless

Speaking of Russ, he’s made some duff stuff in his time, beside diamonds like ‘Faster’ and ‘Supervixens’. This dud is a ‘documentary’ with some not especially pretty go-go dancers strutting their stuff and discussing their work. Those that know Meyer won’t need telling the girls are top-heavy babes but if that’s not your scene, forget this bit of social realism.


One of the problems with the easy availability of video-tech is that any jerk can now go out and make a movie, without having to demonstrate any competence whatsoever. Hence the appearance on the scene of a lot of shot-on-video turkeys – again, this is just a sample, it could just as well have been ‘Redneck Zombies’. Never mind gun control, we demand licences for video cameras!