Difficult though it may be to credit, there are people out there, who have never seen a Sybil Danning film. I regard it as my mission in life to bring some succour to these poor, deprived people, and introduce them to the delights of trash films. Missionary work, you could call it. So, for those who are novices, here are a few films they might care to try.
First, however, a few words on the films included. All of them should be legally and ( more or less ) easily obtainable from your local video store. I’ve avoided the more extreme films, so there’s no “Re-Animator” and no “Evil Dead 2” – I think they are both great films, but having been put off horror films for four years by seeing ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ at age 14, I can appreciate the risks of going off the deep end TOO early!
Trash films generally come into three categories: sex, violence and humour. ‘Sex’ covers a wide range of sins, from the schoolboy smut of ‘Carry On’ films, through the bimbos-in-lingerie pic, up to completely gratuitous nudity such as seen in ‘Gwendoline’. Violence, too, is a many-splendoured thing – at the lower end is the cartoon, knockabout style of Schwarzenegger while at the other is the merciless, totally OTT approach of ‘Bad Taste’, The third category, humour, is perhaps the most vital, and is simultaneously the most difficult to pin down. Although everyone knows sex when they see it, there is no such agreement on what is funny. Bearing this in mind, here are ten recommendations, with brief (even by our standards!) reviews, rated for each of the three categories. If you watch these and enjoy them, you’ll have a good foundation on which to base further choices. Those marked (@) are especially recommended for beginners.
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON – The best in the early 80’s were-revival, updating lycanthropy to it’s obvious conclusions. S: *** V: **** H: **** (@)
BAD TASTE – Due out November 17th I think, possibly the messiest film to get a BBFC certificate. Colonial splatter. S: NONE! V: * H: ***
ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK – The only ’15’ rated film, relying equally on double- entendre and Cassanda Peterson’s cleavage. S: **** V: ** H: *
GWENDOLINE – See TC1. French silliness, with actresses’ clothes falling off at the slightest opportunity. S: * V: ** H: **** (@)
THE HIDDEN – Starts by writing off a Ferrari and never lets up. Part sci-fi, part cop pic, all action, to steal a quote. Great fun. S: NONE! V: **** H: **** (@)
THE HITCHER – Hauer’s finest hour, what it lacks in laughs it more than makes up for with it’s delight in slaughter. S: * V: **** H: *
REFORM SCHOOL GIRLS – See TC2. Sheer exploitation, NOT to be taken seriously and very, very silly. S: * V: **** H: ****
RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD – Great fun, whether you’ve seen the original or not. Loud music, non-stop action and Linnea Quigley. S: *** V: **** H: **** (@)
ROBOCOP – Ultra-violent, comic book satire with sharp social comment and pantomime heroes/villains. S: NONE V: * H: *** (@)
SALOME’S LAST DANCE – (see Film Blitz) Ken Russell has got very odd in his old age – this will do until ‘Lair of the White Worm’ appears! S: **** V: * H: ***
A Double-helping of the Dinner Party Game
Mark Stevens (editor, ‘Squirm’)
Ray Dennis Steckler Arthur Bostrom (of”‘Allo ‘Allo” – he went to the same-school as I do!) Andy Warhol Jonathan Ross Herschell Gordon Lewis Dario Argento
Seka (hardore starlet + one of the sexiest people alive) Dyanne Thorne (as above, last six words) Jerry Hall (so I could insult her) Mandy Smith (phenomenally tasty) Inbetween – The hermaphrodites from “Shocking Asia
Just (editor, “Death Bane”)
Me Dario Argento Dave Freeman (Britain’s greatest pornographer) Andy Warhol Bryon [??] Salvador Dali
Gail McKenna (page 3 sex goddess!) Elvira Joan Collins Jennifer Connolly Joanne Conway (ice-skater) Cicciolina
[Hmmm… Not 100% sure about some of the females here – they may be pretty, are they good dinner guests? Mandy Smith isn’t exactly noted for her conversation! ]
Most of the ‘zine editors must have been out sun-bathing and sipping long, cool drinks for the past three months rather than sitting inside sweating over a word- processor or video, since it’s been a rather quiet quarter. Still, those received :
CREEPING UNKNOWN – 24 pages A4, 50p + SAE. Nick & Cath join the slim band of ‘zines to make it to 10 issues. This one is occasionally a little illegible, yet it’s worth the effort – a nice, informal style and a good mix of the obscure and well-known.
DARK STAR – 28 pages A4, 1.50. Strange how this one seems to get ‘missed’, since it’s also in the amateur/pro grey area inhabited by Samhain and Shock Xpress. Like TC, a wide range of subjects – Sherlock Holmes, Roger Rabbit, comics – written in a variety of styles. A touch uneven due to this variety, still worth a look.
THE DOGS HEAD BARKS – 8 pages A5 for an SAE. Idiosyncratic personal-zine, comes out VERY irregularly; 18 months since the last one! The man’s interests seem to be comics, films and Dr. Who, thus if these appeal ( and at least one of them should do to TC readers! ), so should DHB!
GORE GAZETTE – 12 pages A4, $2.00. I must admit to enjoying this more than the last issue. It’s “News of the World” style mix of fact and totally unsubstantiated rumour (Robert Englund, aka Freddy Krueger, having a drug problem) makes fun reading, even if he totally misunderstood the point of ‘Nekromantik’. Still, he liked ‘Edge of Sanity’ a lot, which shows his heart’s in the right place.
Creeping Unknown – Nick and Cath, 29 Westland Ave, Hucknall, NOTTINGHAM, NG15 6FW.
Dark Star – Publishing House, 50 Wrotham Road, GRAVESEND, Kent, DA11 0QF.
The Dogs Head Barks – Douglas Angel, 69 Chestnut Ave, Bradwell, GT. YARMOUTH, Norfolk, NR31 8PL.
Gore Gazette – Stefan Kwiatkowski, 2A The Mount, Erdington, BIRMINGHAM B23 7NG.
More about Black Sunday 1990; as you may be aware, it looks as if the second section of it, in Glasgow, clashes with the planned ‘Samhain’ splatter fest down here in London. With 52 weekends in the year to choose from, this is, shall we say, a little unfortunate. I don’t know how many other people would like to go to both and now have to decide which to miss – let’s just hope the people involved come to some agreement to switch one date. Both groups seem sensible adults so I’d like to think that neither would be childish and refuse to consider an alteration, for the benefit of all concerned.
Now, before you turn off completely, let me explain it’s ITALIAN politics we’re talking about here. Italian politicians are loadsa fun. And by a strange coincidence that last sentence happens to be an anagram of ‘Ilona Staller gets her kit off’ (if you take some letters away and change a few others). Yes, as promised a long time ago (in Issue 0), I finally review a film by Cicciolina, the porn star turned Italian M.P.
Now, I have no great enthusiasm for explicit sex on the screen – even at best it’s like watching someone else eating a good meal, and most films are shot so badly as to make sex seem about as interesting as noughts and crosses by post. However, what I’d heard and seen of Cicciolina indicated, shall we say, a refreshing attitude towards it all so it was with an open mind (and a four-pack of Guinness) that I sat down to watch “Racconti Sensuale” (which I expect can be translated as ‘Erotic Tales’).
Problem one. Dubbed films, I can cope with. Subtitled films, I can cope with. What about a film in ITALIAN, dubbed into GERMAN, with DUTCH subtitles? My German is not brilliant and my Dutch non-existent, which made following the plot a little tricky. Yes, ‘plot’ – there did seem to be an attempt to justify what was going on. This involved Cicciolina writing in her diary, using an oddly-shaped Biro with a thick barrel and two lumps on one end, though she eventually puts it to another use…
Beyond this, what we got were four little scenarios linked by brief returns to Cicciolina scribbling away (each time with fewer clothes on). The first one involves nymphs and satyrs playing around in a field, at least until they get down to the serious business of playing around with Cicciolina instead. Here we see the first appearance of the Spare Man. Enthusiastic though Miss Staller’s oral sex 8technique is, even she is unable to cope with THREE men simultaneously, which means one is left waving his apparatus around in the air like a hot-dog salesman. Unfortunately, it’s always the same bloke, and you can see him gradually getting more and more miffed as his colleagues get all the fun.
The second, and probably most interesting, part is Cicciolina’s remake of “The Sound of Music”. Ok, so she doesn’t sing and there are no children or goats involved, but she is a nun, albeit of the Ken Russell variety. She and her two Sisters live a simple monastic life of praying, fondling doves and shaving. Yes, you read that correctly – shaving…
Suddenly, for no apparent reason (though this may be due as much to my lack of Dutch and/or German as any deficiencies in the film), into this peaceful religious community come three robbers. At least I assume this is what they are, since they have stocking masks over their heads, though oddly enough these have holes cut out for the mouths. The reason why they need freedom of movement for their tongues becomes obvious later on.
Instead of carrying out their original plan of stealing the candlesticks, they wisely decide to take Cicciolina instead – in a variety of imaginative ways, climaxing (if that’s not the wrong phrase) on the altar – presumably in a Catholic country like Italy, this is pretty near blasphemy. Once again, the Spare Man is left to fend for himself, though it may be a different person – it’s difficult to tell with the stocking masks on. Then Cicciolina’s co-nuns join in, and we are treated to something that looks like a nude rugby scrum.
So far, so mildly entertaining. There’s been a certain trashy value about watching an MP, even an Italian one, in such a film – there’s no real equivalent I can give; imagine perhaps Sam Fox getting elected to parliament? Anyway, the first half is shot with some panache and the music, varying between stolen classical and jangly Europop, adds to the surreal atmosphere of the whole thing.
The third scene is just nasty. Starts off O.K, with a collection of women of dubious virtue standing around some woods – Cicciolina’s costume is intriguing in itself, being little more than a few sheets of clingfilm with holes here and there. However, after a few minutes of mindless posing, the whole thing degenerates into something unpleasantly near a rape fantasy, complete with fake blood. Enough said.
After another brief interlude, something very odd happens. The next scene doesn’t have Cicciolina in it at all, taking place in a mock dungeon and featuring a variety of light bondage. It seems to have been slotted in from a completely different movie to boost the running time – as if to prove it, when this sequence is finished, they show the entire thing, frame for frame, again. Very strange. Finally, there are a few shots of Cicciolina in a similar setting – by then my attention was wandering, due in part to the Guinness, no doubt.
Overall, interesting if unerotic. The general approach seemed to be to throw every possible sexual act at the camera from bondage to ‘water sports’ via S/M, sex using most body apertures, lesbian lust, masturbation, etc and try to please everyone. However, this leaves long gaps when what’s happening on the screen is just not sexy, no matter how novel it is. It seems that Italians are heavily into buggery, which is pretty far down my list of things to do where Ms. Staller is concerned (a waste of at least two orifices!!), and provokes nothing but mild disgust. However, it had some neat moments and she does have a certain cuteness that does nothing to change my view that more MP’s like her would leave most countries in a better state!
Everybody makes mistakes I guess, but this was one time when I would have preferred not to do things with so much style.
In retrospect, things started to go seriously wrong the moment I entered The Country Kitchen. The place was more brightly lit than a pathologist’s laboratory, tiled like a school baths ( an impression helped by the restless primary colours which assaulted the eye like a game show set ) and filled with more annoyingly shiny tables than music journos in Wendy James. Anyway, I succeeded in ordering a shallow cappuccino from a pair of high-mileage members of the Salman Rushdie Depreciation Society using a language resembling English, but without the verbs, clicked a course through the joint which looked so convincingly like the passenger deck on a cross- channel ferry it took all my concentration to walk in a straight line, and sat down.
At the latter task I was less successful, the table and chair being fixed to the floor, presumably in case of theft, and shaped with an exciting “designer” flair without actually allowing a human leg to pass between them. At least not one that bends in the usual places. All I succeeded in doing was irrigating the formica with coffee only slightly warmer than Jimmy Knapp’s handshake, and catching the eye of the bimbo.
The fact that I was looking right at her may or may not have had been related to the blue PVC mini skirt she didn’t so much wear as keep warm and pliable.
It is, of course, virtually impossible to actually relax in a fast food emporium. I found relief in dismantling a plastic palm and reassembling it in an order which evolution hadn’t quite got to yet, but it wasn’t enough to prevent questions from forming themselves in my mind. Like why one sees oneself reversed left-right in a mirror, but not upside down, or why things are back-to-front when the right way up, but the right way round when upside-down. No wonder I had trouble shaving.
I supposed it was just one of those great imponderables, like what Mary and Joseph did with the gold, who gave all those silly names to sea areas on the shipping forecast, and what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this ( or what am I doing in a place like this if I’m looking for a nice girl… )?
I guess she belonged to the “if you’ve got it, flaunt it” school. Trouble was, I was looking for the “if you’ve got it, share it out with the guy in the trenchcoat” kind. Rutger Hauer said that friends are people who turn up in a bathing suit with a six-pack, but I figured if I had a friend like her, I’d be prepared to forego the bathing suit.
A shot rang out. Well, it didn’t really, but it’s one hell of a way to start a paragraph. It was “The Chicken Song” that did it, a single that landed on the Number One spot like a Pan-Am Jumbo. Well, whatever the reason, I was returned to the real world, and if it isn’t the real world, then just whose idea of a joke is it and could I please spend some time in a different one, one where the underdog wins and relationships with women work out.
Even the dudes who wrote the Bible realised that, sod the fight between right and wrong, we mortals go for the underdog every time – like Robin Hood, who was tumbled by a judicial system less enlightened than our own ( where you are guilty until proven more guilty ), they cast Christ as an outlaw and the tale has survived centuries.
Littered around this starship diner were a curious assortment of irregularly sized, shaped and presumably hungry individuals who blinked in the light, chattered rapidly, shifted from one buttock to the other and generally looked unlike the impossibly tall, dog walking, toy-town figures who usually inhabited interior design land.
There was the biker, wrapped round a cup of coffee like an arctic explorer in a black leather chrysalis, aiming well ground knee scrapes at anyone who looked in his direction. There was the Next executive with the LSD tripping sperm tie, skate- boarding youth whose fluorescent shorts seemed to know who to have a good time even if he didn’t, and the girl whose dress and shoes looked eager for an evening out and a night off, but she wasn’t going far on a Belgian bun and a coke.
The dial on my wrist said ‘Cartier’, but the fraudulent Taiwanese bastard said it was later than the Ayatollah. I made my move.
I guess it was the depth of her voice that gave it away though.
Black Sunday, the Northern equivalent of ‘Shock Around the Clock’, will be on again next year. Now describing itself as ‘the UK horror film festival’, it’s in two chunks : the 17th February at The Metro, Ashton-under-Lyme, Manchester and the 24th February at The Salon Cinema, Hillhead, Glasgow. Each festival will contain ten horror films, previously unreleased here, though it’s not clear whether there’ll be an overlap between the two or not. Tickets for each cost 17.50, or 15 for students and last year’s attendants. For more details and a booking form, send an SAE to:- Black Sunday, 70 Thatch Leach Lane, Whitefield, MANCHESTER, M25 6EW
Sex and Bimbos and Rock and Roll: Ten (or so) Pop Songs Sold By Lust.
Totally chauvinist – I can’t find the London Boys at all attractive!
1. EIGHTH WONDER “I’m Not Scared” – can you name any member of this band APART from Patsy Kensit? Negligible acting talent, arguable vocal talent yet her ‘singing’ (keep your feet still and wriggle everything else) is strangely endearing.
2. TRANSVISION VAMP “I Want Your Love” – Wendy “No, I’m not a bimbo. Really I’m not. Honestly. Not at all. I don’t exploit my body” James wins the Trash City Deep Throat award for microphone (ab)use.
3. SABRINA “Summertime Love” – otherwise instantly forgettable Europap that enjoyed a brief moment of fame due to Sabrina’s enthusiastic bouncing around. What she lacked in subtlety was mote than made up in sheer quantity…
4. KATE BUSH “Babooshka” – it could have been ‘Wuthering Heights’ (partly responsible for dragging me into adolescence!) but this one has KB dressed up as a barbarian bimbo and playing with a cello for no obvious reason.
5. MALCOLM McLAREN “Something’s Jumpin’ in Your Shirt” – if MM has a worrying tendency to hang around with young girls, Lisa Marie is at least astonishingly pretty. Make up your own childish comment about the title.
[Through the wonders of YouTube, I can now embed most of the videos detailed, in the playlist below. The exception was Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, where the only usable footage I could find was on Dailymotion, and may not be the version original present on the “Video Collection 1977-1982” tape mentioned.]
6. EMMA RIDLEY “School’s Out” – gives the impression that this is Madonna’s daughter playing at dressing up ‘just like Mummy’. Easily the worst song in the list, so the video necessarily resorts to the most OTT approach as a distraction.
7. THE STRANGLERS “Nice ‘n’ Sleazy” – Shot live in Nice, this features an assortment of French strippers, someone lashing them with a whip and members of the audience joining in, all of which meant it got an ’18’ certificate slapped on it!
8. MADONNA “Like a Virgin” – Oh yeah, pull the other one. At least one contributor to TC has a wedding dress fetish which merits the inclusion of Madonna writhing on a gondola. Gave the star of “A Certain Sacrifice” a hit. Pity the film wasn’t as sexy.
9. CHRISTIAN DEATH “Church of No Return” – Goes for that sex/religion combination guaranteed to get you into trouble. Gitane Demone’s hair varies from pink to corn- blonde and her costume ranges from lingerie to a nun’s habit. Not bad for no budget.
It’d be unfair to choose any single tenth candidate, with so many possibilities: The Bangles, Blondie, Broken English, Danielle Dax, Duran Duran, Robert Palmer, Sinitta, Whitney Houston and ZZ Top spring easily to mind. Good job too – given the current state of the charts, is there any other reason to watch ‘Top of the Pops’?
Psychos – The ten people we’d least like to meet down a dark alley.
Dennis Hopper in “Blue Velvet”
Anthony Perkins in “Edge of Sanity”
Rutger Hauer in “The Hitcher”
Zoe Tamerlis in “Ms 45 – Angel of Vengeance”
Jack Nicholson in “Batman”
Mel Gibson in “Mad Max”
Dyanne Thorne in “Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS”
Clare Higgins in “Hellraiser”.
Bruce Campbell, by the end of “Evil Dead 2”
Pat Ast in “Reform School Girls”
Actresses – 10 I’d quite like to meet down a dark alley, or anywhere for that matter!
N*stssj* K*nsk* in “Passion Flower Hotel”
Sybil Danning in “Reform School Girls”
Mathilde May in “Lifeforce” (and she’s got better since!)
Phoebe Cates in “Gremlins”
Jenny Agutter in “The Railway Children”
Brooke Shields in “Endless Love”
Emanuelle Beart in “Manon des Source” (below)
Uma Thurmann in “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”
Amanda Pays in “The Kindred”
Patsy Kensit in “Lethal Weapon 2”
[Three blondes (more or less natural), one redhead and six dark-haired. As for nationality: three Brits, three Americans, two French, one German and an Austrian (Sybil Danning). I’m sure I’ve missed out a few. To balance things up a bit, here is a contributed list of…
Ten actors with similar qualities
Michael Hutchence in ‘Dogs in Space’
Mel Gibson in ‘Year of Living Dangerously’, ‘Lethal Weapon’, etc
Christopher Lambert in all his films
Keifer Sutherland in ‘The Lost Boys’
Mickey Rourke in ‘9 1/2 Weeks’
Sting in ‘Brimstone & Treacle’ dream sequence.
Rutger Hauer in ‘Blade Runner’
Tim Curry in ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ & ‘Legend’
Actresses – Acting ability this time, rather than droolability.
1. Kathleen Turner 2. Helena Bonham-Carter 3. Miranda Richardson 4. Glenn Close 5. Nastassja Kinski (on a good day!)
Pia Zadora Patsy Kensit Yutte Stensgaard Charlotte McGinnis Linnea Quigley
Being a bad actress isn’t purely a matter of a lack of talent. It’s difficult to telll just how bad Linnea Quigles is, since she has the common sense to avoid any films with good actresses. Although Patsy Kensit generally does this too, she screwed up badly by appearing in ‘Arms and the Man’; rarely has anyone been as comprehensively acted off the screen as she was, by the superb Helena Bonham-Carter. Meanwhile, Pia Zadora’s awfulness shines out even in junk films. She has three expressions: lust, fear and sadness, and uses these in strict rotation, with no regard for what’s actually happening at the time. See TC2 for full details of Charlotte McGinnis’ classic performance in ‘Reform School Girls’.
Actors – acting ability
1. Peter Cushing 2. Harry Dean Stanton 3. Harrison Ford 4. Edward Woodward 5. Rutger Hauer
Hmm, tough one. While I’m quite happy to sit through a film where the actresses can’t act for peanuts, as long as they’re pretty, the same is NOT true for actors. So I can’t really think of any really bad actors. Except Dustin, of course..
Nun But the Brave
Nine naughty nuns who give a new meaning to “bad habits”. This list is dedicated to the Borgias, the last people to combine sex and religion really successfully…
Cicciolina in “Racconti Sensuale” – see elsewhere…
Koo Stark in “Cruel Passions” – well, almost. Did you know she’s an Arsenal fan??
Catherine Oxenburg in “Lair of the White Worm” – raped by Roman soldiers in the nightmare sequences.
Most of the cast of Walerian Borowczyk’s “Within Convent Walls” – general sexual frustration.
Zoe Tamerlis in “Ms. 45 – Angel of Vengeance” (above) – shoots people!
Nastassja Kinski in “To the Devil a Daughter” – black magic.
Vanessa Redgrave in “The Devils” – fantasises about having sex with Jesus, or at least, Oliver Reed.
Brigitte Bardot in “The Novices” – sunbathing in a bikini.
Kathleen Turner in “Crimes of Passion” – leaping about on a bed with Anthony Perkins.
Kinski’s Kicks – a sex goddess’s perversions
You may recall me throwing some jibe at Jodie Foster for getting gang-raped as a career move. To be fair, NK has not exactly made her living by portraying clean-cut all-American girls. Here’s a list of some of the things the characters she’s played have either done or had done to them.
Lesbianism (& dressing up as a bear!) – “The Hotel New Hampshire”
Under age sex – “For Your Love Only”, “Passion Flower Hotel”
Raped – “Tess”
Bondage – “Cat People”
Kidnapped – “Harem”
Murdered – “The Moon in the Gutter”
Masturbation – “Maria’s Lovers”
Incest – “Cat People”, and real life, according to her father Klaus…
There’s also something to do with AIDS – she’s been making a film called ‘Up to Date’ with Rutger Hauer (and Faye Dunaway). I believe it’s a drama about the disease, with Hauer playing a journalist who becomes HIV-positive. It all sounds terribly interesting; one of my favourite actors in a film with my favourite actress. More details as we get them. In her latest film, ‘Torrents of Spring’, her character enjoys watching duels – possibly an antique version of a snuff movie?
On the Kinski front, some other news of projects in progress :
Silent Night (Monico Teuber) – with Franco Nero, Trevor Howard, David Warner.
The Actor ( Jeff Angelucci ) – with Anthony Quinn, Lauren Bacall and Brooke Shields.
Secret – no details known.
Ten Inventions Without Which Life As We Know Would Be No Fun.
The Photocopier. Writing out 50 copies of TC by hand doesn’t appeal much.
The Word-Processor. In fact, neither does writing out one!
The Video Cassette Recorder. Fancy waiting for ‘Re-Animator’ to be on TV?
The Walkman. Or the hell of commuting would send me insane FAST!
The Train. I don’t have a driving licence; ever tried cycling in London?
The Telephone. Although when I’m in the bath, I’m not so sure.
The Frozen Meal. Since my cooking burns, chops and breaks food beyond repair.
The Washing Machine. But why can’t someone invent a machine to iron shirts?
The Post. Despite it being slow, infuriating and DEADLY for videos!
The Camera. Drawings of NK don’t have QUITE the same appeal!
Jim McLennan’s Totally Self-Indulgent, All-Time, Favourite 50 Films
A few comments are necessary before going on. ‘Favourite’ is a difficult word, since it means so many different things – the reasons I like “Passion Flower Hotel” are not the same as those why I like “Videodrome”! There are films on the list that I don’t even enjoy watching in the conventional sense, such as “Blue Velvet”, yet I’d quite happily go to see them again. Perhaps that’s the best way to interpret it – the films I’d most want to take to a desert island. Rather than try and decide positions, I’ve grouped them into four ‘divisions’ and arranged them alphabetically.
It’s naturally biased towards the films I’ve seen most recently. I tend to judge films by ‘memorable moments’ and this will tend to benefit those where time has yet to dull them. I’ve restricted myself to one film in any ‘series’. The most notable effect this has had is to reduce the entire Hammer genre to ONE film – terribly unfair, given the range of output, but the alternative was to have about 40! Those where this has happened are shown by a #. Before we start, though, here are some that didn’t quite make it, yet deserve some recognition:
DEEP RED HORROR HANDBOOK – Chas Balun, Fantaco, 11.95
I have, to be honest, to declare a bit of a vested interest in this one, since TC gets a mention in the list of fanzines, even if it’s at the old address and if many Americans expect 48 pages air-mailed for a dollar, I’m heading rapidly towards bankruptcy. Do you realise how much a kick there is to be had from seeing YOUR name in a BOOK? Not a ‘zine, but a real, printed, book! I’ll try and be objective…
Nearly 320 pages, roughly A5 sized. The first 2/3 is a collection of essays on the genre by various figures, some known (Chas. Balun), others not. The topics of these are wide and varied, ranging from Dario Argento (wince!) through to the British horror scene (which contains the obligatory standard rant against the censors), via cannibal pics, eco-hazard movies, an Incredibly Bad Film section and numerous short bits/filmographies of people like Tobe Hooper, Fred Olen Ray and Sean S. Cunningham. I found it mainly interesting stuff, although fewer obscure European directors and unsubtle digs at Shock Xpress (we’re all in it together, guys!) would have helped. Graham Rae, author of the British section, might show a bit more tolerance all round – describing non horror fans as ‘unanointed, self-righteous, pretentious clowns’, or the BBFC as ‘idiots’ does nothing to convince people of the validity of the genre.
The final third is an update of ‘The Gore Score’ – almost every messy movie made in the last ten years, with brief, well-written reviews and marks for both ‘artistic’ and ‘body fluid’ content. As ever with American books, titles change and censors cut, which explain some of the apparent differences – I agree with most of the marks for splatter, but ‘Cannibal Ferox’ a better film than ‘Cat People’? Come on…
Add to this a list of recommended reading, the aforementioned ‘zine list and some interesting, if useless to us Brits, adverts and you have good value for money. As an up-to-datish (oddly, many films are mentioned in the essays yet ignored in the Gore Score) guide to the scene, it’s probably the best around.
Which might, or might not, come out before Xmas; there’s a whole heap of stuff which I’ve had to cut out of previous issues due solely to a lack of space, so I quite like the idea of using them up. Otherwise, who knows what’ll be in it? Fred Olen Ray’s “The Tomb” will be dissected in ‘Incredibly Bad Films’; there’ll be a piece on the cartoon equivalent of ‘The Evil Dead’, Tom & Jerry; for all contact lens wearers there’ll be 20 great moments of eye violence and if I find myself with not enough other stuff, there’s a good chance you’ll get the 1989 ‘what-I-did-on-my-holidays’. You have been warned…
Revenge of the Teenage Vixens from Outer Space (Jeff Ferrell)
“The Vixens are coming… the Vixens are coming… They’ve landed on earth to wreak havoc on the male student bodies at Mayland High School. The Vixens come from a far off planetary system and every so often they’ll visit earth to fulfill their ravenous desires. Unfortunately, the adolescent boys are no match for these lustful female aliens, and in their frustration the Vixens start zapping them with ray guns. So what’s a teenager to do? Be sure to see this fun filled high-camp classic. You’ll stare in awe at the shapely Vixens. You’ll bite your fingernails to the knuckles trying to figure out how to save the earth from the foxy zappers! You’re sure to have the strangest dreams of your life after you see this remarkable film!”
—- Video box blurb.
Very few films that set out trying to be ‘cult’ actually manage it. Movies like ‘Assault of the Killer Bimbos’, ‘Surf Nazis Must Die’ and ‘Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers’ all failed, to some extent, to live up to their titles. However, now and again, one appears that deserves fame for completely different reasons to those it aspires to. Such a film is ‘Revenge of the Teenage Vixens from Outer Space’, picked up for 4.99 in a car boot sale near Heathrow Airport and never seen anywhere else before or since. It’s roughly the cinematic equivalent of a footballer trying a shot from 25 yards out, miskicking, and still scoring via two defenders and the post.
There are no name actors in the film at all. To make up for this, there are several actors with interesting, rather than famous, names. One such person is called Sterling Ramburg. Whether this is his real one or not is uncertain: if the former, he is deserving of some sympathy; the latter and it’s a sharp tap on the wrist for borrowing the name of a second division West German soccer team (“Bayern Munich 5, Sterling Ramberg 1”). Meanwhile, the leading lady is Lisa Schwedop and we also have an Amy Crumpacker and a Julian Schembri; scarcely the most lyrical names I’ve heard.
We first meet the cliches, sorry, characters at a party in the woods. There’s Danny the Macho Asshole (Ramburg), Stephanie the Bimbo Bitch (Crumpacker), Carla the Nice Girl (Schwedop) and Paul the Squeaky Clean (the relatively normally-named Howard Scott). After some rambling conversation we see, posed against a background of dry ice, the four Teenage Vixens. Carla returns home and finds said TV’s there; she’s remarkably unfazed by the presence in her front room at 2 a.m of bimbos wearing off-the-shoulder Bacofoil, greeting them with a mild ‘What are you doing here?’. They explain that they received a copy of a magazine (called “Teen Drivel” – that’s the wittiest idea in the film, folks!) and are wanting some pointers on boys, having just ‘moved to the area’. Carla’s brother, a DJ, returns home and also barely notices the TV’s (who deserve to join Wendy O. Williams in the geriatric teenager hall of fame).
The next day, at school. One of the TV’s, Zodie, arrives in Biology class, given by Mr. Morelli (Schembri), who is Paul’s father. We discover that Stephanie has the hots for the teacher; he rejects her, only to find Zodie has the same idea. Here the film earns the ’15’ certificate as she rubs the stalk of a flower, which moans squeakily before spurting nectar all over the place and drooping. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that somewhere in the bowels of the BBFC is a big, black book with “Explicit masturbation of flora – 15 rating” written in it…
It’s about now we get a shower scene. Or at least, a brief shot of a shower head, which there may or may not be anyone using – as happens so often in this movie, any nudity and violence happens out of shot. However, since it takes place in the BOYS changing room (the director clearly hasn’t quite got the hang of exploitation!), this coyness is probably a good thing.
Clara and Paul go on a date. Zodie visits Mr. Morrelli for some ‘private tuition’ (out of shot). Stephanie and Danny break into the school for a quick (out of shot) session on the teacher’s desk. The Vixens are chewing their way through the male population (out of shot), which annoys the hell out of the local girls, who give their guys an ultimatum: leave the TV’s alone, or suffer the consequences. For the record, the consequences involve getting yoghurt poured down your shorts. This, surprisingly, happens IN shot.
Stephanie finds out about Mr. Morelli’s extra-curricular activities with Zodie, and gets him suspended. He reveals to his son that the TV’s were here before, 16 years ago – he’d had a dalliance with one and Paul was the result. In a moment of high drama, he also reveals that they are not of this earth!! At least, it might be high drama, if this fact wasn’t already blatantly apparent from the title of the film. Mr. Morelli rushes out to find them, hoping his one is with them again; Paul goes to collect Clara and follow his father.
Our hero has just discovered his powers as a half-alien, specifically that “by thinking about things, I can make them happen” (it says a lot for his intelligence that he has reached the age of 15 without noticing this talent). And what is the first thing he does with his ability to alter reality? He undoes Carla’s dress without touching it. Wow. Naturally, we see nothing apart from a bikini line that could have been drawn with a ruler, and has ‘sun-lamp’ written all over it.
Up at the old school, where the TV’s are based (we know it’s an old school, because there’s a sign next to it saying ‘old school’), Mr Morelli meets his old flame, who is now a Queen of the Teenage Vixens and is wearing a milk-bottle top dressing gown. The TV’s ‘came to find love’, having received the misdirected copy of ‘Teen Drivel’, but have been a little disappointed with the boys here.
Said TV’s begin to get nasty when the local girls try to rail-road them out of town. One turns into a cat (out of shot, and the cat is an average moggie, nothing cool like a black panther. I’m sure there’s a joke in there about pussy; that’s where it’s going to stay.) and savages a girl to death (out of shot). The other girls, despite their ability to change space-time, resort to good old-fashioned ray guns which turn the rest of the students (tho’ Danny & Stephanie escape) to vegetables, Mr. Potato Head style, complete with high-pitched voices and little beady eyes. 90% of this happens, yes, you guessed it, out of shot; since the effects for the remainder are the most un-special I’ve seen, it’s easy to understand why. We next see Peter and Carla post (out of shot) coital bliss in the back of a car, though by the next scene, the car’s totally vanished and they’re walking along railway tracks. They return to the old school and discover the vixens are from a planet where there are no men and they have to mate with plants (which probably explains why they are so good at giving hand-jobs to flowers).
Peter & Carla go home and meet Carla’s brother, just in time to see Danny get his come-uppance when the TV’s turn him into a giant pickle. Then the TV’s really start to get their ass in gear despite the efforts of a rampaging mob of villagers to prevent them, though the efforts are little more than a set-up for a weak joke : “We all saw those girls, there’s nothing like them on Earth!” “Well, there’s Brooke Shields…”
The town of Springfield is turned into a summer squash; Laurel Heights becomes a humongous courgette. Mayland is evacuated (though there is no-one else on the roads ) and the military prepare to attack – cue stock footage of planes, tanks and soldiers. Mr. Morelli has returned to warn the TV’s, which is where his son and friends catch up with him. Now things get VERY confused. The Queen of the TV’s leaps up through the roof (FX – something being pulled, with a very visible string, through a model roof) with Mr. Morelli clinging to her legs and they both crash into a plane. John uses his ‘talent’ – “There’s no place like home” – to return to the TV’s planet and escape the rapidly arriving Air Force. The End.
“Fun filled, high-camp cult classic…” claims the video box. What they forget is that there’s more to high-camp than bad acting; while “Reform School Girls” was superbly OTT, the entire cast here seems doped up to the eyeballs on Valium. It’s strained attempts at matiness (asides to the camera such as “Well, it’s not THAT far fetched!) provoke nausea; the complete lack of sex and violence leave only the sheer awfulness to sustain the viewer through what is claimed to be 72 minutes, but seems a LOT longer. In that department, at least, it does not disappoint…
Around 2000, I did some further research. While a lot of the links are no longer active, here’s what I found out.
Ryan Johnson was in the film. And oddly, doesn’t want to deny all knowledge. Interestingly, he also says the producers never sold the overseas rights, meaning the British copy I got was a bootleg. The obvious question is, “Why?”.
Greywizard’s Unknown Movies did some detective work; the film was made in Seattle, and the site is Lakeside Upper School, which was Bill Gates’ high school, apparently.
According to the Internet Movie Database, the 18 people listed in the cast cast mustered three other movies between them. Julian Schembri was 21st billed in the River Phoenix film Dogfight, while Anne Lilly (Mary Jo) did Medium Straight (available on Yahoo Broadcast) and Drawing Down the Moon, starring Walter Koenig.
Should you care, the Drawing Down the Moon website has some more info on Lilly. If I may digress for a moment and quote from it: “Our movie contains some interesting ideas: Homeless people are people like us!”. I sense another potential IBFS entry. Spookily, it was released direct-to-video two days before I started writing these notes. What are the odds against that?
But DVD-Daily magazine for August 13th, 1999 reports that, according to Variety, David Paymer (Payback), Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers) and Jennifer Lewis (Blast from the Past) will team for director Joey Travolta’s indie roadshow, Partners. The comedy, from Revenge of the Teenage Vixens from Outer Space writer-director Jeff A. Ferrell, chronicles “the adventures of a drifter (Van Dien) and a strait-laced man (Paymer) who are inadvertently brought together by a briefcase containing an important computer disk.” Can’t wait…