Catastrophic Cinema: TICKS (1993)

Date: 1993
Run Time: 85 mins
IMDB Rating: 5.4 
Directed: Tony Randel
Starring:
Clint Howard – Seth Green – Alfonso Ribeiro

Produced by Brian Yuzna, Ticks is a public service announcement about the dangers of marijuana and steroids. Staring Baby Seth and Alfonso Ribeiro, it’s the most nineties that a nineties film has ever been – from the slang to the fact that Rosalind Allen was still working.

Baby Seth stars as Tyler Burns, a troubled teen with an anxiety problem that acts up when he’s left on his own (shame the internet wasn’t big yet) whose father is forcing him to go on a weekend retreat for inner-city youths. The retreat is run by Holly Lambert and her boyfriend Charles Danson. Along for the trip is Charles’ daughter Melissa, gang banger Panic, beauty obsessed Dee Dee and her boy toy Rome, and the silent Kelly. Also in the woods but for the nefarious purposes of growing pot, are the criminal known only as Sir and his underling Jerry and Clint Howard.

Kids with their piercings these days.

Dressed like a redneck’s interpretation of the free love movement, Clint Howard hangs out in a shack deep in the woods that houses a marijuana grow op utilizing special chemicals to accelerate the growth of the plants. When the contraption that stores the chemicals breaks, it drips onto some tick eggs and causes they to grow to abnormally large size. They attack Clint Howard, leaving him dead…or so we’re lead to believe.

Otherwise known as a normal day for Clint Howard

Meanwhile, back at the troubled teen camp Panic’s dog gets murdered by ticks causing Panic to flee the camp. The next morning when the Sheriff comes to visit and warn our characters about dangerous pot farmers, he suggests taking the dog to the local vet. Baby Seth and Charles heed his advice, passing by Panic without noticing him;Panic gets bitten by a tick and passes out. The local vet removes a giant tick from the corpse of the dog and theorizes that they may cause hallucinations; the theory proves correct when Panic hallucinates being in a street fight on the streets of L.A when he’s really just being beaten by country bumpkins Sir and Jerry – hard to tell which is worse.

Melissa and Kelly discover the Sheriff’s corpse; Dee Dee gets attacked by an infested Clint Howard and bitten by a tick; and Panic gets shot by Sir and has to take steroids he stole from Rome to make it back to the camp. By this point, the forest has been lit on fire from the shootout with Panic, causing all the ticks in the area to scurry towards the camp. Sir and Jerry have also fled there and try to stop Panic from getting in. A fight breaks out and it’s up to our kids to work together to survive the day. Things go from bad to worse when the tick inside Panic finally gets a taste off those steroids and the audience gets reminded they’re in a Brian Yuzna Production.

 

This is the only drug PSA you need.

Ticks is such a fun movie that I don’t want to spoil everything for readers. It features terribly dialogue, fun performances, wacked out gore and stereotypes galore. Everything about the movie screams “I was made cheap and you’re gonna damn well like it.”

 

Shlock: 5/5
Titillation: 0/5
Carnage: 5/5

Enjoyment: 5/5
Overall: 75%

Catastrophic Cinema: RUMPELSTILTSKIN (1995)

Date: 1995
Run Time: 81 mins
IMDB Rating: 4.3 
Directed: Mark Jones
Starring: 
Max Grodénchik – Kim Johnston Ulrich – Tommy Blaze

In the inevitable homicide case of writer/director Mark Jones, in which he will skin and dismember  a little person, two films will be used as evidence by the prosecution: Leprechaun (1993) and Rumpelstiltskin (1995). In the same vein as Leprechaun – that is to say the niche market of little people playing wise-cracking, evil creatures from the medieval past –  but with box art that every 90s kid remembers from Blockbuster, Rumpelstiltskin stars Max Grodénchik in the title role – proving that he can’t get work unless he’s playing a character with silly ears; seriously, what’s wrong with Max’s ears? Are they gross? I bet they’re gross. Either that or he’s got the weirdest fetish I’ve heard of.

Rumpleforeskin opens with our title character fleeing an angry mob of renaissance performers. Clutched in his arms is a baby that’s far to cute to be his own. Rump, as we’ll call him, decides to beeline to an oceanside cliff – the first of many signs that perchance our main adversary is not quite an intelligent being. The mob catches up with Rump and proceeds to “bring the pain,” as Rump puts it; they beat him mercilessly but to no avail – he takes the beating and returns it in kind, tearing out an eyeball before using magic dust to light a fire that serves literally no purpose. When the mob realizes that they’ve spent a good chunk of their day chasing after a lowly miller’s daughter’s daughter they call in an old witch to curse Rump so they can be home for supper. The witch’s spell leaves Rump trapped in the cheapest statue the prop team could find.

If you squint it almost looks like a Coen Brother’s film

We then fast forward to the present. How do you make sure the audience understands we’ve moved forward in time? Rap music, clearly; plus a white cop berating the musical taste of his black partner. While on a call with his heavily pregnant wife, his partner inside a donut shop because where else would he be, Mr. White Cop witnesses an attempted car jacking on a busy street in the middle of the day; to make matters sillier, there’s a baby in the car. Mr. White Cop drops the 1995 cellular phone and dies heroically in a shootout with the criminal. Really earning that LAPD respect by shooting his assailant in the back of his head while he runs away.

Time passes and Shelley, the widow, is now raising a baby boy by herself with an assist from her best friend Hildy. Hildy is that quintessential 90s friend that exists to force the main character out of their comfortable life and into a journey filled with horror; oh, die too, her purpose is to ignite this journey and immediately die. It’s why they cast the most annoying person they could find. So Hildy takes Shelley to an antique store run by discount Large Marge. At the store Shelley finds the solidified leprechaun turd that Rump’s trapped inside and buys it despite the shopkeeper’s warners. Side note: Hey, Shopkeep. If you know – and we know that you know – that trapped inside this statue is a creature that trades wishes for children…maybe don’t sell it to the grieving widow that comes in with her baby. You mention how it will grant wishes but leave out the “but you’ll have to trade your baby for the wish” part and…that’s kinda important. Jus’ saying.

With the plot-required trip out of the way, Shelley is ready to make her first wish before bed: that her late husband can see her baby. It doesn’t come true, however; all the reincarnated version of her lover wants to do is have sex and it’s like a whole thing. Shelley suddenly wakes up – it was all a dream…or was it? The sound of the shower running and her husbands voice seems to suggest otherwise. Upon opening the shower stall, however… and let’s just take a moment here – where the hell were all the shower stalls when I was growing up? They showed up in horror movies and pornos left and right but I ain’t never seen one; I got robbed of my shower stalls the same way I got robbed of my movie high school experience. Anyway, the fucking husband is Rump now, we all knew he was going to be Rump now, it’s Rump.

Not sure I’m on board with this Easy Rider remake

Shelley fights against Rump by shoving a rod down his throat, locking in a closet (he smashes out of) and eventually running over him with her car. We have a quick scene with her talking to the cops before she goes to stay with Hildy. Rump shows up and murders Hildy – because, obviously – and then chases after his bae on a motorcycle. Sorry, let me repeat that: HE CHASES AFTER HIS BAE ON A GODDAMN MOTORCYCLE. When that crashes he switches to a mack truck. It’s all good and fun except that in the shower scene, we’ve already been shown that Rump can teleport… so this movie can be summed up as “a woman runs away from a monster that forgets it can teleport.”

Shelley eventually runs out of gas and gets picked up by the sleaziest motherfucker put to film. He’s a Jerry Springer wanna be motherfucker that we’ve seen earlier on TV making jokes about women getting raped and being just the crudest example of why the world dislikes white men. He’s also played with the most annoying voice and he never fucking shuts up. Ever. Ever ever. So Rump attacks them with the truck, they eventually get the truck to crash by tricking it was a go-cart they randomly found? Listen, the movie doesn’t example it so why should I? With the truck explodinated, the day is saved; that is until Rump murders the responding officer, leading to the arrests of Shelley and Dip Shit.

This is why you never get a baby sitter off Craigslist

Locked in the jail, our “heroes” are powerless to stop Rump from murdering all the cops and stealing the baby. Rump doesn’t quite inspire the same level of fear in his massacre as Cyberdyne’s main boy toy. A dying officer opens the jail cell and our characters steal a car, only to find it’s backseat occupied by the shop keep that sold Shelley the statue in the first place. She examples that his weakness is straw. Fucking. Straw… Then he kills her with magic powers from a distance – why he doesn’t just use those powers or the teleporting when they matter is anyone’s guess. Rump gets light on fire in a bunch of straw, the day is saved, the movie ends with the asshole character as the new love interest – her late husband shot someone in the back of the head and insulted his coloured partner’s culture so maybe she just has a thing for pricks?

Rumpelstiltskin is almost a really enjoyable movie. It is nothing but shlock from start to finish but it’s attempts at titillation aren’t titillating, it’s carnage ebbs and flows but most consistently stays low, and any enjoyment the film was giving disappears the second the asshole character shows up. It’s like watching a film that knocks off Leprechaun but it’s by the guy that fucking wrote and directed Leprechaun

Shlock: 5/5
Titillation: 1/5
Carnage: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5
Overall: 55%

 

Catastrophic Cinema: THE DEADLY SPAWN (1983)

Date: 1983
Run Time: 81 mins
IMDB Rating: 6.2 
Directed: Douglas McKeown
Starring: 
Literally No One

From Space Dracula to Space Spawn, the terrors of the universe know no end.

Two guys, sharing a tent and a romantic night in the woods, the lights low, the tension high, the temperature hot, are shaken from their reverie by a meteorite crashing nearby. If I’ve learned anything from Jason X (2001) – and I’m not sure that I have – it’s that you never investigate things that fell from space and The Deadly Spawn confirms this by having our lovers story cut short by said Spawn.

“Man, hentai’s been getting weird lately.”

The Spawn migrates to a nearby country home where, much like my grandmother, it hides, alone, in the basement, out of sight and mind of the family living there. Mother and father are eaten by the Spawn when they enter the basement and it’s revealed to the audience that this movie’s monster is a dick with teeth. Thankfully, because kids need an adult figure around, Aunt Millie and Uncle Herb are down visiting. Herb is a psychologist and can’t imagine why a young child would be attracted to monsters like Godzilla or the Wolf Man and he wants to investigate young Charle’s attraction further; of course, this is a useless plot point that the movie forgets about and now, we shall too.

Karloff really didn’t age well.

While Aunt Millie heads over to her friend’s house to watch a bunch of elderly women get eaten alive by killer dicks, Charle heads into the basement where he finds his parents mutilated bodies and his own living, breathing dildo Spawn. Meanwhile, dumb friend and love interest come over to study with Pete. Pete immediately insults dumb friend and sends him off so he can get some alone time with love interest before they discover Uncle Herb’s corpse downstairs. The teens barricade themselves in an upstairs bedroom instead of making a break for the door, like any good horror movie character. When dumb love interest shows up, just walking in the door, our teenage heroes pull her into one of the bedrooms rather than learn from her example of how doors work.

“Thank god she turned into latex!”

The teens get separated. Pete watches as love interest gets an offer at a better job and lets the Spawn devour her head so she can focus on her entry level position at the tactile factory. Pete becomes as unhinged as his acting while dumb friend and dumb love interest head for the attic. Charles shows up, using a prop head filled with flash powder to ignite the Spawn from the inside – proving that Uncle Herb’s worries about his interest in monsters was clearly unfounded (because we, the audience, were so worried for him, clearly). With the day saved, the authorities shows up (late, as always) and Aunt Millie returns to take care of her sister’s children. Everything is going to be okay now…that is, until the Godzilla sized Spawn shows up in the final frames.

“So that’s what Godzilla’s dick looks like.”

The Deadly Spawn isn’t a very good movie. It drags, the acting is blows, the characters are forgettable. But those deadly dicks look great, the gore is gruesome and it even manages to buck your expectations story wise by killing characters suddenly. The ending is fantastic but unfortunately doesn’t actually make any difference, it’s just a last laugh that should have been expanded upon.

Shlock: 3/5
Titillation: 0/5
Carnage: 5/5

Enjoyment: 3/5
Overall: 55%

Catastrophic Cinema: DRACULA 3000 (2004)

Date: 2004
Run Time: 86 mins
IMDB Rating: 2.0 
Directed: Darrell Roodt
Starring:
Casper Van Dien –  Coolio – Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister – Udo Kier

In space, no one can hear you suck.

Captain Casper Van Helsing Dien leads a ragtag group of space salvagers – The Professor, who knows half as much as he thinks he does; Mina Murray, the unpaid intern; Humvee, the sex crazed muscle maniac; 187 aka Space Coolio, the stoner that smokes any and everything in sight; and Aurora, the abrasive one that Captain Casper Van Helsing Dien immediately blames for looking so good – to the Carpathian System where they have been told there is a huge ship, ready for some space salvaging.

Udo Kier has aged well.

When Space Helsing and his crew of discount Firefly cosplayers get to the ship, they send the unpaid intern in to investigate. She gets spooked and nearly space raped by Humvee but otherwise the ship appears dead. With the ship cleared – all except for the coffins in the cargo and Udo Kier’s skeleton in the Captain’s chair – Space Helsing and the others board the dead ship. Throughout the exploration of the ship, we’re shown clips of Space Captain Udo Kier, shot on the director’s twenty dollar camcorder, explaining about the sickness that has overtaken his ship.

Exactly how Bram Stoker pictured him.

Alone in the cargo hold full of coffins, 187 gets attacked by an unseen assailant that bites his neck and leaves him dead. 187 rises from the dead, a vampire – something that they don’t know about in the future – and attacks the crew. He proves impervious to bullets as he chases Aurora, through the only hallway the production could afford, to kill her after “titty fuck[ing] her first,” as the Professor puts it. She is stopped by a white dude in a cape from Party City’s Halloween selection and returns to the rest of the crew to exposition them about the vampires that come from Planet Transylvania. 187 returns to attack the crew again. Proving for a second time that bullets have no effect on him, Humvee rams a wooden pool cue through his heart – despite not knowing what kills vampires.

Somehow this feels like a normal day for Coolio.

When Space Helsing and Aurora – who has revealed that she wasn’t turned into a space vamp because she is actually a robot (space) narc – go after Space Dracula, they are quickly over powered and Helsing sends Aurora off for (space) help. Aurora brings back Humvee and the movie expects us to care that Space Helsing has been turnt. Humvee and Aurora dispatch Space Helsing and Mina, who you’ve probably forgotten was even in this movie, before running across The Professor. Aurora stakes The Professor, prompting Humvee to ask “How did you know?” “I didn’t,” she replies, proving that murdering humans is just what robots do.

Despite the fact that they have killed four vampires already – and cut off Space Dracula’s hand with a door – the crew was so terrified of fighting vampires – of which, they’ve killed four out of five – that they plotted a course directly towards a sun. With no one left that knows how to pilot the ship Aurora reveals to Humvee that before she was a robot narc, she was programmed to be a sexbot. With Space Dracula still alive in the hallway – though, sans hand – and no hope left for the crew, or the audience at this point, Humvee throws Aurora over his shoulder and heads off screen to bang his way through the credits.

Humvee thanking God for the sex robot he is about to enjoy.

DRACULA 3000 is a piece of shit, made on a zero dollar budget with a hallway and a room, discount actors, Party City costumes, and illogical writing. It’s the kinda turd you throw on to tell your friends the party is over.

Shlock: 3/5
Titillation: 0/5
Carnage: 1/5

Enjoyment: 0/5
Overall: 20%

Catastrophic Cinema: PROJECT:METALBEAST (1995)

Date: 1995
Run Time: 92 mins
IMDB Rating: 4.8 
Directed: Alessandro De Gaetano
Starring: Kim Delaney – Barry Bostwick – Kane Hodder

What is it with the military and – failed – attempts to weaponize supernatural and extraterrestrial monsters? From the Xenomorphs in  Alien:Resurrection to Frankenstein’s Army‘s army, the military just doesn’t seem to learn to leave well enough the fuck alone. Project:Metalbeast continues the military’s track record of bad decisions ending poorly by sciencing together werewolf and metal skin.

A werewolf sighting or German porn?

Project:Metalbeast starts in media res as we witness Project: Operation Lycanthropus in action – the military intelligence communities attempt to retrieve a sample of werewolf blood from the Carpathian Mountains using only Special Ops. solider Donald Butler and an unnamed cameraman who will probably come out just fine. The soldiers find themselves a werewolf inside a rundown cathedral that might as well have had a neon sign reading “WEREWOLVES INSIDE.” The beast attacks ol’ unnamed and, despite having all the time in the world to save him, Butler watches him die like he’s getting back at him for sleeping with his wife. After enjoying an episode of Fatal Attactions, Butler murder-kills the werewolf, takes a sample of it’s blood and saves cameraman’s camera.

Spider-wolf, Spider-wolf, does whatever a Spider-wolf does.

Back in civilization, Butler and his boss, Miller, get a science lecture on the properties of the blood and why it can’t be human and how they have to do more tests and blah blah blah…Butler injects himself with the blood; because Butler is a man that gets shit done. Unfortunately, that shit happens to be turn into a werewolf, murder half the people in the building and get shot to death by Miller. Miller reveals the existence of a cyrogenics lab and has Butler’s body shipped there until the time comes that he finds a use for it. Oh, and then he orders the murder of everyone present in the building – nice guy, that Miller.

Just some routine plastic surgery.

Twenty years later, Miller forces a group of scientists working on prosthetic skin with a metal alloy base to work try their hand at grafting skin on to cadavers. Of course, what Miller really means is put this skin that hardens into metal onto Butler’s body. In the middle of the operation they remove the silver bullets and unleash THE METALBEAST. The beast kills the brown guy first – because of course it does – and some security guards that were two days away from retirement before turning its attention on our main characters, the scientists that received names and character arcs.

“Make sure to get my good side.”

Project:Metalbeast is the kind of film that could only come out in the ’90s: shitty, lacking wit, ripping off the ’80s with none of the charm. What it lacks in blood and gore, it makes up in banality and pointless moralizing. Project:Metalbeast, much like Miller, shoots for the shoulder instead of the kill shot. At least the scenes came in the proper order – that’s more than can be said about some of the films that will appear on Catastrophic Cinema.

 

 

Shlock: 3/5
Titillation: 0/5
Carnage: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5
Overall: 40%