Best of the Best (1989)

So; Here’s a bit of a cards on the table “Confessions” moment. a decent chunk of this season is VHS based; and the main reason for that decision is because while I was doing the writing and planning for this season I was also unpacking all my belongings into my recently refurbished room (I started writing scripts for this season in October last year) so while I was putting everything back it gave me a bit of chance to try and have a clearout and of all the formats in my collection, VHS is the most bulky and the the hardest to properly store.

So; I kinda sorta used this season to do some spring cleaning on my collection so I could thin out tapes I thought I might not keep based on the title and box art. and honestly? it’s been quite effective for most of the choices this season. a lot of what i’ve watched has either ended up being gifted on to others or found its way to refuse. but this movie? this movie right here? I was genuinely surprised at how entertaining it was. As I say in the review it really does have a lot going for it.

I initially chose it because I had 3 of the 4 films in this franchise on VHS and I figured if I did one of these a season it’d probably be a good way to get rid of 3 “Meathead” tapes from collection pretty easily. But instead the opposites ended up happening. I genuinely cant wait to watch the second one of these later in the year and I’ve been keeping my eye on a bluray collection of these movies now since I saw this one. Im hoping the sequels are as entertaining (if not as good) as this first one because if they are. I literally have no hesitation on upgrading all these to bluray quality and having the set as soon as possible.

Genuinely entertaining, fun and Eric Roberts is frankly astonishingly good in this. if you dont have the 20(ish) minutes needed to get through my full review and just want a quick caption. BUY THIS MOVIE NOW!

The poster for this ones a bit shite in all honesty. it doesnt really speak to me and it’s kind of difficult to work into marketing as it’s just a load of boxes inside boxes. Its hardly the most revolutionary jawdropping poster i’ve seen…its just…weird.

Evil Brain From Outer Space (Super Giant 4) (1966)

One of the biggest headscratchers that plagues my review “process” is figuring out the right mix of genres so that things dont get stale. as a general rule; themed months excluded, I try to make certain that theres never a time where 2 films of the same genre are sat next to each other. So I’ll always try and seperate say; 2 horror movies that are sat together or 2 sci fi movies. I like to keep a mixed bag just to purely stop things from stagnating a bit.

Part of that dilemma is deciding how many 40s and 50’s B-movies I do a year. if my youtube analytics are anything to go by, you guys dont really care much for the older B-movie films. and hey; thats cool. I can dig it. y’know, time marches on and all that. But to me? I find these early movies a fascinating glimpse into the old days of the wild west of Poverty row film making. when corners would be cut, anything that could save money would be utilised whether it was to the detriment of the film or the cast and for the vast majority of these movies its amazing they got made at all.

Evil Brain from Outer space was never intended to be a movie, it was supposed to be a series of serialisations. and most of them are so drastically different to each other that the idea of cutting them together into one movie would be daft.

the 1960’s said “Fuck it” to daftness and did it anyway. they did it because they realised they wouldnt make their money back on the serialisations they purchased because serialisations in general were on the way out. so they did what they thought would make SOME money back (because making SOME money back is always preferable to making non of the money back) thats why they recut these into 4 features. it wasnt out of some grand artistic sense of tying together elements. it’s because they bought a lemon and had to make lemonade some goddamn way.

the supergiant serials arnt too bad on their own in all honesty. I mean; they’re a bit repetative in places. but they’re fine enough. but these recut ones? goddamn. just….goddamn.

I’ll continue to cover movies from this era, mainly because…they’re bizarre as hell. but if your looking for an example of the madness of 40’s and 50’s cinema. this films definitely a strong contender.

that poster…jesus.

Massacre at Central High (Blackboard Massacre) (1976)

One for the “Yikes” pile, this movie even now is just…leaves me with this sense of cringing discomfort. it’s one thing to make a drama about a 35 year old teenager trying to blow up a school and killing off the students. it’s another when your sympathetic to the killer. and this film really does genuinely try to rationalise that; had our main character not gotten TOO into murdering his peers. the school probably would have been better for it.

I know theres themes around corruption present and the idea that just removing the figureheads of corruption from a system without properly planning for the transition of power, merely creates a vaccume from which even worse corruption can spring forth. I get it. but I just find it incredibly problematic that the film at no point takes the time to point out that the main character in this movie (the one doing the killing) is wrong to have even done it in the first place. instead it really just leaves the viewer with the feeling that, had David just planned better for the aftermath, the murders would have been entirely justified.

This was one of the first scripts where I actually had to cut a section of the script out in post. I had initially recorded a section in the opening of my review where I took a bit of a deep dive into school shooting statistics with the aim of trying to figure out exactly why someone in 1976 would think that this movie was in ANY way a good idea. and my initial research revealed that basically the same amount of school shootings occured between the 1920’s and mid 1970’s as occured between 1998 and 2004. I therefore came to the conclusion that the reason why this film got made was simply a case that…well; not a lot of these really happened all that often, so my guess was that the producers thought they’d be safe covering this topic in this way as (at the time) it would have been about as common as a General election and probably would have been viewed by the public as one of those “It could never really happen to me” moments.

Unfortunately; just as I was working on the edit for this episode, a school shooting happened. and I re-reviewed my data and found a TON of scope for incorrect data and missed avaneus of exploration ranging from School massacres being listed seperately from school shootings in terms of collated data. issues with classifying what actually COUNTED as a school shooting and what was classed as a School massacre or just a targeted attack. issues with what qualified as a school attack (if people get attacked en mass just outside the school grounds. does it still count as a school attack?) and even variations on the attacks themselves. such as; what if it was a teacher that committed the attack rather than a student, what if it’s an entire SCHOOL that goes to attack another school? does that count as one incident or hundreds of smaller ones? and in one bizarre case from the 1920’s if a student accidentally kills another student with a hoe on school grounds, but then kills another student to stop them covering up the first murder. is that a massacre? or just a super awful story?

In essence. what I wanted to say was “Because of how few attacks happened between 1925 and 1975 the producers probably felt comfortable presenting the film this way” but honestly? after seeing all the variables I missed out. the datas a hot mess and I honestly dont know anymore. all I do know is they definitely could have handled this film more tactfully…that being said; I guess your more likely to get butts on seats with controversy and shock than you are with just being a clean cut drama.

Anyway; this movie hasnt aged well, but there are a couple of okay points with it. so maybe check out my review and decide for yourself 🙂

This cover is SUPER misleading. however; it’s the best cover this film has.

Riverbend (1989)

Of all the films I ended up covering this season; “Riverbend” was probably the one that caught me off guard the most. Now I didnt think it was a perfect film by any measure. but the themes it deals with coupled with the utterly baffling to me concept that this has NEVER had a digital release (that I can see) just…well…it’s this kind of stuff that keeps me up at night.

this wasnt a bad film by any measure. hell; if i’d have found it on DVD in my local CEX or charity shop i’d have probably been even more in love with it as a movie. But because I just kind of found this in a haul and because it’s SO poorly represented online (theres almost NO high res art for this movie available online and at the time of writing this it sits ona paltry 98 ratings on IMDB with only one on site review to add insult to injury! it REALLY feels like this is a forgotten movie. and thats genuinely quite sad to me.

Steve James would die 4 years after this film was made and this was seen as one of his big shots to break out of the sidekick role and into a leading actor position. and in this film he MORE than handles that role near perfectly. Unfortunately after this film, barring an appearence in a supporting role on an episode of “Pee Wees Playhouse” most of his roles up to his death were for direct to video fodder or forgotten TV shows. it really feels like some quite fantastic talent fell through the cracks here and the more I can do to put this frankly fantastic actor on a higher pedestal then hopefully the more people will see what they’re missing.

Obviously; when it comes to publishing these articles for my site I have no knowledge of how these reviews are going to perform on youtube. In the past i’ve had reviews I was sure were going to be big hits absolutely bomb out into obscurity (See: Christmas Evil) eqully i’ve had episodes that I wasnt too sure about that’ve gone on to rake in views quick and heavy! (See: Dot and Spots magical christmas adventure) but if I could wish ANY film Im reviewing this season success beyond what pushing im capable of doing. I think it would be this one. Because more people need to see “Riverbend” it’s really something quite special.

Almost all of the promotional material for this film is some variation of this photo backed by either a forest of the US flag. I personally think it’s pretty decent.

OH! and because this films SO underrepresented online. heres the box art scanned in HD. because bloody hell there really is nothing out there.

Horror Hospital (1973)

I took a bit of a gamble with this film, and honestly? im still not entirely convinced that i’m won over by it. I mean; it isnt bad. but it suffers terribly from the rot that can only originate from a film trying to ‘Alf inch another studios style. this is painfully trying to replicate ‘Hammer’ and ‘Amacus’ aesthetic and…well British horror from this era, when it’s trying to rigidly copy the greats. seems to miss the point of those studios greatness. the reason people fondly remember Hammer and Amacus is because they were envelope pushers. they bought blood, gore and mayhem to a much more mainstream audience than the grindhouses and exploitation film makers ever could.

I mean; you’ve got to imagine. Hammers versions of Frankenstein and Dracula were CONSIDERABLY more graphic than their Universal counterparts and had the fortune of lush and delightful sets to help sell the productions legitimacy. they were also both made in the 1950’s so I really fail to see what a film in 1973 is trying to achieve by copying the style but edging up the gore slightly of a style of film making made almost 15 years previously.

I mean; you’ve got to imagine, this film came out the same year as “The Wicker Man”, “Dont Look Now” and “Theatre of Blood”. films that genuinely pushed the genre through either fantastic scripts, creative reworkings of existing narrative devices or even next level performances. 2 years after this film was made “Shivers” was released and 5 years later “Dawn of the dead” and yet here we find what is ultimately; a drab affair. not unwatchable. but the stale and creaking belchings of an era of film making that really should have been canned about 3 years previously.

Theatre of Blood is actually a pretty nice comparison piece for my thoughts on this. that films brimming with a subversive originality. it looked at the amacus formula and purposfully decides what to lean into and what to subvert in almost every aspect. performances. scoring, scripting, gore. it plays AGAINST the audience of the day on multiple levels. and is rewarding because of it (not to mention that Vincent Price is just generally ace).

But then there’s this film. just sort of…lazily giving the audience what it thinks they want. not even in a particularly subversive of creative way. this film could have come out at any point between 1967 and 1975 and noone would have known or cared any differently. and that apathy that I feel towards it is ultimately what holds it back from actually being able to either out and out love it or hate it. it’s just…a film that exists. and thats a real shame as I think with just a couple more redrafts. there may have been a bit of life behind the eyes in this one.

The original posters rubbish for this. I mocked this one up as there wasnt one in “Poster formatting”. I dont much care for this one either…but it’s better than the original theatrical one.

Jaws of the Dragon (1974)

This film was pretty rubbish. thats the lasting memory I have of this review (which was written and recorded in November/December last year and edited in early January of this year.) I literally cannot remember single detail of this film other than the fact it was cut to shreds and…well…for lack of a better word. it was shite. and im pretty happy I never have to sit through it again. it’s a total filler movie. it exists to simply kill time and make the movie that follows it look ten times better. once this review goes live; I shall be looking into selling my copy at the next convenience.

Actually; while we’re dealing with this. Here’s as good a place as any to talk about the VHS movie reviews of this season. so. for this season I decided to have a bit of a spring clean and as such I chose to try and cover more VHS based movies as possible (As they tend to take up the most shelf space and tend to be in various states of disrepair) so this seasons a little more top heavy on VHS content than previous seasons. all of the tape based movies in this run (barring 1) were first time watches and I had no idea what I was getting into. all I knew was that I wanted to free up some space and that the tapes I covered more often than not had interesting covers. Jaws of the dragon was a total mystery tape in that regard as the original boxart was missing and the spool of tape within the chassy was woefully short. It had a simple white lable and plaine text…I really didnt know what I was getting into with this one, and I’d saved this tape specifically because of it being a bit of an enigma. I was not impressed.

Deathrow Gameshow (1987)

Deathrow Gameshow is one of those movies that was forever a part of my “Oooh I’ll pick it up next time” lists. Anyone who lives outside of the US or Canada will probably no doubt appreciate that importing films is an expensive game. In fact at the time of writing with the pandemic in full swing and Brexit flossing it’s teeth ready for the big chomp the costs of importing are already beginning to show themselves. With even light items such as single discs without cases or even a single disc light weight DVD costing anywhere between $35 and $85 in just the cost of shipping alone.

As such; I have to be choosey on films I choose to get from Vinegar Syndrome or Severin Films or AGFA purely because; picking up a bad film I dont like stops being mildly inconvenient and starts being financially unviable as a game.

And so we have the “I’ll get it next time” culture. During sales I’ll fill my basket with all manner of goodies and then inevitably see the cost of shipping, lose my shit, and have to put things back. Deathrow Gameshow is a film I’ve probably put back about 4 times before finally picking it up in 2019…and even then it just…sat on my shelf for the best part of a year and a half being overlooked by what I at the time considered better movies or for films that were time sensitive and could only be seen within a certain window of time.

And in many ways I really regret not checking in on this one sooner. I mainly put it down to the poster/cover art which; to me? I find quite ugly. Thats not to say the original VHS artwork was exactly “Dazzling” but I dunno; something about the poster art (see below in the thumbnail) just…doesnt sell this movie to me. it feels cheap. it feels like it’s going to be attempting to ape existing movies (I personally get real Shock Treatment vibes off it) it just doesnt feel like the kind of movie thats worth $55+ when shippings factored in (there or there abouts).

But Y’know what? if you can look past the garish and uninteresting promotional material for this one, theres quite a bit to have fun with! it’s an easy going film that relies on quite well written “Stupid/Manic” comedy to get the job done. and while the miss rate is noticeable on gags. the hits are really solid! but…I’ve probably said too much here. Check out my full review below if you want the deep dive!

Ugh…that poster…like I say; neither the VHS artwork or this are particularly great. but I just…REALLY dont get on with this one.

Nutbag (2000)

Well! We’re back at it again! and oh BOY! this weeks episode made me a happy boy last year! lets be honest; 2020 was a bit rubbish, I mean, I enjoyed lockdown because im an introvert masochist who enjoys quiet rooms, comfy chairs and the occasional appearence of matron with the tea and busicuits. but for a TON of people lockdown was essentially a “Forgotten year” a time that most people will deeply miss and some people will never retake.

even I admit that there were times (particularly around summer) where I got a bit longful for ocean breezes, cheap ice cream and driving through the hills and valleys with a pleasent summer heat in the air, my sunglasses stuck firmly to my face and nothing to do and nowhere in particular to go except cruising to my hearts content.

Thrifting is something I’ve missed particularly, I used to have 3-4 shops I would visit monthly if not fortnightly to see what new stuff had come in. but the only thing worse than having to go to the shop in a pandemic is going to a 2nd hand shop in a pandemic. you dont know WHAT the previous owner of that copy of “Swamp Shark” did with it! could have coughed on it and rubbed it up his bum for all you know! So unfortunately it’s been over a year since I last went out and dug through bargain bins, ruffled through rummage sales or cherry picked from charity shops.

I have however found partial relief in stores like Music Magpie or CEX who’ve been sort of satiating my flea market cravings with their online services. they sell all manner of cheap and nasty movies for as little as 50p a film. and before all this business kicked off I used to go to my local CEX fairly regularly to try and score cheap films with big thrills like “Cyborg Cop” or “Darkbreed” now I can cherry pick exactly what tat I want for the same low low prices and get them delivered straight to my door! result!

I mean; it’s not the same as finding some genuine tat out in the wild. But it’s better than nothing. and thats how I ended up with todays film. “Nutbag” was one of 6 movies I picked up from Music Magpie in early autumn last year. and within minutes of putting it on it very quickly became apparent that something was very VERY wrong with it.

I go into detail in the review itself about how the dramatic cuts in the UK release have effected this movies viability. but there was one thing I feel I missed out mentioning in the review that I would like to clarify. I dont think anyone will call me out on this, but im putting this here as a rebuttle just on the off chance that this ever does comes up. Inevitably I feel someones going to ask me “Why did you review and trash this incomplete version of the movie!?” or “It isnt fair to review this cut version, you should review the work as the director intended.” but; the reality is. the BBFC are an advisory board. they cant force anyone to make any cuts to their work that they dont want to make. they can only suggest cuts in order to make it more likely that your film will be released over here in Britain. Director Nick Polumbo agreed to the cuts suggested to this movie, either he did or the distributors did. either or both of them thought that what the BBFC suggested were fine enough recommendations to still leave a presentable end product.

So; from my perspective. This version is approved by the director. I can find absolutely ZERO evidence to the contrary. and he’s made a profit off the sale of this cut version over here, so while the US version is probably the “Defacto” cut of Nutbag. the UK version is just as valid an offering in terms of legitimacy. and as a critic I can only judge what is presented to me. and what was presented to me here was a hilarious farce of a movie. I highly HIGHLY recommend if you can find the UK cut of this film, you do so at the next convenience. its created a gutteral reaction from almost everyone i’ve shown this to. it barely breaks an hour and what it does in that hour is SO hilariously rubbish and naff I honestly think this should be seen as a B-movie on the level with the likes of “The Room” or “Birdemic” for just…how bizarre it actually is.

And the best part of all this? I got this film for 50p. and there are TONS of copies available. so this year. if you need cheering up or a laugh. go buy the UK cut of Nutbag. genuinely; one of the funniest best worst movies i’ve seen in at least the last 10 years.

The poster for this ones a bit…”Meh…” but trust me. it comes up with the goods!

Finishing the Complete Eighth Season (2020)

Given what was going on at the time this season was being created its a miracle that you’re even seeing the below playlist quite honestly. Season 8 was the first season to be full written during the Pandemic (I believe the first script was written some time in April and the last script was finally penned in October) and; though I think back on this season from the comfy room of 2021 with the sense that it was all “Too Easy” when I actually stop and think what was going on, it definitely seems to be quite the opposite.

For a starters, there was the pandemic. Which; well, it was good in some ways…through April,May and June I was pretty much stuck in a national lockdown with nothing to do BUT write and edit these scripts. That and working from home allowed a greater flexibility in my working hours allowing me to work scriptwriting and editing into my lunch breaks.

The downside to all this however was that the lockdown effected my partners health quite severely, leading to a number of trips to the hospital and, not wanting to go into too much detail, but a few very important people in our lives had to move on to new ventures (They’re not dead! we just cant really be involved with them anymore!) which really didnt help the mood.

Then from June to September I was in the middle of renovations. and Ladies and Gents. Let me be frank. I know these renovations were a long time overdue (at least 15 years overdue) I know they desperately needed doing, and now im sat here in a lush, gorgeous new space writing this out Im happy I did what I did. at the time I was in abject misery. I ached pretty much non stop from stripping wallpaper, taking light fittings out and carrying heavy flat pack furniture and hard wood exceedingly and almost comical distances. I loathed having to sofa surf during a pandemic because the room where my Bed is was being used as storage. I detested the fact the the weather was a near constant 36-40 degrees celcius and that buildings in britain are built to keep heat IN not let it OUT.

In fact; the only good memory I have of the summer of 2020 was that, at one point, the conditions of the lockdown lifted and I was able to take my car out on a quasi long distance run (like; 50-60 miles round trip) where the sun was delightful, the music was good, the roads were empty and I was living my best life for all of an hour and 30 minutes. The rest of it, was arse.

Equally; the Renovations ran drastically over. meaning what should have been an 18 episode run for this season ended up having to be cut down to a 16 episode run + 1 collaboration. which was not ideal…but luckily I’ve been able to carry over the 2 dropped episodes into Season 9.

So September rolled around, I jumped on my machine, edited together the first 6 episodes of this season and then my harddrive exploded. as in, literally shut down. couldnt get anything on or off it that was bigger than 2gb in size. it was dead. and…for a time I panicked. I panicked violently because on that drive were all 17 audio recordings, 6 edited episodes and all of my current branding material.

Mercifully, through a mixture of cloud storage solutions and periodic backups I was able to recover, relink and rexport ALL the original premiere pro files. which meant in as little as 5 days I went from losing everything to being back in the race. and…mercifully at least, from there things went very smoothly. the last 2 episodes written and recorded were “Garfields Halloween Adventure” and “Silent Night Deadly Night” which were both done in October, both recorded at my partners flat in a hurry and both edited on the hoof to try and get them out the door and into the schedules (I really hope it doesnt show)

Season 8 was an absolute Journey to complete and when a collaborative effort involving 7 people is the EASIEST part of editing for the season. you know somethings not quite gone right. It was a good one in terms of the films I got to see though, “Truck Turner” is probably one of my all time favourite Blacksplotation films, “Silent Night, Deadly Night” was a hoot of a first time watch, Reviewing AND doing a commentary for “Robot in the Family” was brain meltingly entertaining and whats more. I got to experience all of these wonderful film moments with friends. which…at a time when isolation is one of the biggest by-products of this whole blasted neusence. was incredibly life affirming.

So this is me; closing the door once and for all on Season 8. another chapter in TYTD History. Not to let the Ego run ahead of me, but I think seasons 7 and 8 have heralded some of the best work I’ve ever done. and I really hope Season 9 and 2021 keep that momentum going.

The Night B4 Christmas (2003)

Sooooo…Im going to be honest here. The Holidays kind of got away with me this year. Given that it was supposed to be a super quiet isolated christmas. I think it’s probably been busier than any christmas i’ve had…mainly because, for some reason, I’ve been nominated the “Dedicated point of contact” for 2 households.

What that means in real terms is I’ve been looking after my partner and my parents for a good chunk of the festive period and…in blunt terms. I’ve spent more time at the dump this christmas than I have in front of movies. it’s been manic. that’s probably the best way to describe this years christmas. Very little actual christmas celebrating and a hell of a lot of sitting around waiting for stuff to happen and sitting in traffic.

This has nothing to do with the below review. but because i’ve been all over the place I just havent had time to update the site as I normally would and honestly? this is one of those reviews where I pretty much say everything I need to say in the video. theres no real afterthought on this one.

In fact; as part of some of the admin I’ve been working on over Christmas, I rewatched this one while it uploaded to a backup site. and I still 100% agree with pretty much everything I said in this…which, given this was written back in July is always a nice thing to find out.

I still say go and check this one out, dont be put off by the animation. I genuinely think this ones got it’s heart in the right place *mostly* anyway! more christmas chat to come in my “Silent Night Deadly Night” review which is going to be loaded up to the site very shortly!

It’s not often I get a poster that is simultaineously EXACTLY perfect in summing up what this film is about, while also being it’s biggest advert for avoiding it. shame really…