Serpents Lair (1995)

Its amazing really how the memory can cheat when it comes to things from your childhood, I mention in this review that this was one of my first exposures to pornographic material and honestly; when I think back to my memory of seeing this movie nearly 25 years ago now, I remember it being almost as strong as most of the hardcore flicks that now plague the net.

despite not really knowing/understanding what was going on at the time, the tameness of this film 25 years on actually transformed what I remembered as a pretty gritty and erotically charged picture into something laughable. I go into more detail in my actual review. But while I cant really “technically” fault the film. the fact that it sets up SO much promise and delivers on literally almost non of it is frankly insane.

I mean…with the best will in the world, most erotic softcore films at LEAST have the decency to show a little T&A. this film (if memory serves) has one or two blink and you’ll miss it shots of ass, and an sound barrier smashingly brief glimpse of some boobs. Its at this point I feel the need to remind you dear reader. that this is a film about a demon who shags people to death…

As a closing note, I recently managed to uncover the title of another softcore flick I saw a clip from back when I was younger. my entire memory of the film was a scene of a woman being screwed through a partition in a wall with the intent on getting pregnant by the mysterious sperm doner. after that image sat in my head for decades AND with a variety of film buffs being asked about the scene (which I described in vivid detail, to which they had no clue), last year I finally put it to rest. I had in fact seen a clip from the 1999 art house porn film “Romance” which…is probably not a film that a small child should have been watching. but; these are life lessons I guess…

The poster for this movie is in no way reflective of the movie itself.

Finishing the Complete Tenth Season (2021)

So! We’ve hit a quite significant milestone. At the time of writing we’re now halfway through my 5th year of making content for youtube. and honestly; looking back im left with a simultanious feeling that this has just…always been the way things have been, while also thinking that no time has passed at all. it’s quite an unusual emotional response to describe honestly. I still recall back in 2018 when I was talking to Ben about plans I had for videos that “Wouldnt happen till 2020” and him looking at me as if I was absolutley potty to even BEGIN to suggest such a thing.

But the honest answer is; this channels kind of been my lifeline for the last few years. What started out of a genuine frustration at the lack of detailed information and an almost outright dismissal of bad movies and cult cinema as “Not REAL film” has, five years on, evolved into something much MUCH more than that. Sitting here now in 2022 looking back over the years, at all the absolutely astoundingly good friends i’ve made as part of this project, The film makers and people behind the scenes i’ve had the opportunity to connect with as a result of me reviewing a film they’ve worked on, and the people who’ve been reunited as a result of my simple efforts to try and prove that theres as much educational benefit in deconstructing BAD cinema as there is in deconstructing the mainstay “classics” has left me honestly quite speechless.

All I ever wanted to do was try and share my love and passion for these types of movies to a wider audience and, in turn, hopefully attempt to rebalance the discourse around film theory and studies. I wish we lived in a world where someone could, in a crounded film theory class, openly talk about the cinematography in say “Robot Ninja” or the directional choices in “Theatre of Blood” and be taken with a level of seriousness and acceptance that comes with namedropping things like “Apocalypse Now” or “Drive”.

That isnt to say that im putting those films in the same catagory as each other you understand. Rather; for years theres been a culture of snobbishness around “Cult” cinema in professional and academic settings simply because it either didnt attain mainstream success or it deals with themes that are unconventional from what elder academics would deem “acceptable” with only very few film makers (David Lynch, Jan Svankmajer, Robert Wiene to name a few) being allowed the air of dignity within an academic setting.

To me? if you only watch what academia and the mainstream culture consider to be “Good movies” you’ll ONLY make “Good” movies…and in many ways thats the problem. The history of counter culture cinema is a rich tapestry of experimental and arthouse, a sea of trial and error on various mixed media formats. it’s the story of “Fuck around and find out” to put it bluntly. and is probably responsible for greater changes in the mainstream than most professional critics and lecturers will EVER be willing to admit. And yet; it only ever seems to be “Skimmed” by the people in charge. referenced as an afterthought in the shadow of the “Tarantino’s” and “Von Trier’s”. Pilfered of its “Best bits” with 80% left to wither on the vine or end up the subject of countless articles of mixed quality that purely focus on “HOW CERRRAZY” the film is or how, while we do have to aknowledge that this weird film inspired a much MUCH better film. we also must feel embarrissment or even shame that this original film even existed at all.

Its a systemic problem that even I am guilty of from time to time, and the last 5 years have really been a lesson in reprogramming to try and shake off this “Two Tier” system that the film industry regularly imposes on it’s output. it shouldnt be a case of “There are good films…and those films” rather. There is just film. art. expression. and while we can collectively agree a sliding scale of budget, technicality and complexity I feel more attention needs to be paid to just what CAN be achieved with so little, rather than simply focussing on eyewatering budgets, pixel counts and CGI hoy polloi.

I spent a not insignificant time of Season 10 covering the world of SOV cinema. A much maligned field because of its low budget, dependency on horror, gore or titlation to get bums on seats and an overdependency on references to other movies to try and sell people on a sense of familiarity. Its equally been one of the most interesting, thought provoking and inspiring experiences i’ve ever gone through. these people were “true” film makers. visionaries. creative souls who tried their damndest to make what was, to them, the best damn movies they possibly could on budgets that wouldnt even cover a QUARTER of a modern shoots catering budget FOR A DAY. they HAD to be creative because there simply wasnt an alternative. and the results are a testimony to the craft that I feel should be better recognised by academic bodies and not simply dismissed as “Fodder for the experimental film crowd”

So I say “Make Bad/Cult film relevent” challenge the so called “Authority” explain your workings, change the discourse and help make the world of film a better and more inclusive place for people who dont just think with there wallet or ride the coat tails of passing trends. give Bad and Cult cinema a reverence BEYOND it’s disposability. Because I guarentee, the sooner that modern film makers start to look at BAD films as a friend and NOT a tool or an aesthetic. the sooner the current rut that hollywood and the film making system has found itself in will evaporate.

Season 10 was a season of growth and development for the channel. and while we’re still a rather small and plucky channel, we’ll continue to try and push the discussion as far as we can take it.

Heres to 10 seasons, 5 years, to the good times and to hopefully many years more.

Dan.

Annabelles Wish (1997)

Annabelles Wish was one of those movies that I saw a TON for a brief period in the late 90’s the marketing campaign for this movie in the UK was quite frankly insane. I remember WH Smiths, Woolworths and most places that sold tapes being absolutely rammed with it. I remember the channel 3 childrens block “CITV” having CHRONIC amounts of adverts running for this (probably because CITV was being run by “Carlton” at the time, which was also the company who distributed this film in the UK) for a good year or two it was nothing but wall to wall Annabelle. and honestly; at the time I thought it sounded like a load of old rubbish.

So to sit here nearly 25 years to the day of its release and finally watch this thing to see what all the hubub was about…well…as you can expect the sour laughs of a special that not only missed the mark but full on faceplaneted the concrete could be heard for miles around. This was amazing. a film that really truely tried to be sincere and heartwarming/Bittersweet. Inadvertently becoming DEEPLY troubling and quite confusing to boot! I had NO idea what to expect when I hit play. but I certainly wasnt expecting THAT!

it surprised, shocked and genuinely made me laugh at just how corny and awful it was…and for the last TYTD Reviews episode of 2021…well I couldnt have asked for a more perfect example of what this series is all about.

bloody hell…

This poster is a LIE and will be ceased by the workers as an act of defiance. WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER COMRADES!

Jack and the Beanstalk (1974)

Well, it’s the start of the christmas season and the final run of reviews until we break for the new year, and to kick things off I thought i’d introduce my (predominantly American audience) to the great british pantomime!

If you ever get the chance to see one performed, I highly recommend it as I think everyone should see a panto at least once in their lives. the colour, the campness, the cameradere. it’s just a truely wonderful experience for all involved.

I havent had the chance to go to a pantomime in years, I think my last one was maybe in 2016…maybe even 2017. I basically had a string of years where I saw too many panto’s that just wernt particularly very good and it kind of tainted my experience on going. Thats the only issue with pantomimes really. you could see 5 good panto’s and thats great! but just 1 single bad pantomime is equally to seeing 10 bad pantomimes in terms of deep hurting it causes.

The closest I can describe the feeling of a bad pantomime is it’s a bit like being stuck with an insufferable comedian who keeps picking on you, but you cant just leave…and the shows between two and a half and three and a half hours. I had 3 of those on the bounce once over 3 christmasses and it was enough to totally kill my interest. but having been in lockdown now for over 2 years at this point. I really kind of miss the scene, the vibe and the general weirdness panto offers.

Covering Jack and the beanstalk here was my attempt to try and capture a bit of that magic back, or at least reaquaint myself with the genre of “Fairytale” kids movies that would usually be used in pantomime. and I think it’s genuinely been a quite lovely experience more or less from start to finish.

The missus recommended this one to me after I showed her my VHS copy in a haul I picked up a few years ago and after playing her a brief clip a memory unlocked for her and she begged me to watch it with her. needless to say I was not dissapointed!

This posters fine. WAY better than the VHS box art which looks like someone drew this poster from memory after only seeing it once 3 years ago.

Humanoids From Atlantis (1992)

Well! It’s the end of the line! and we crash out in a ball of flames so spectacular that it damn near made J.R quit the industry all together and led to several actors never working again. HUZZAH!

Seriously; this films an absolute train wreck, no ifs or buts about it. it’s a FUN movie. dont get me wrong I enjoyed the absolute crap out of the sheer BALLS of this production. But i’d be lying if I said that it was a desperatly flawed production that literally could have been so much more. Having watched the table read for the script that ultimately got thrown out for this film. I’d be lying if I said I didnt want to see that version moreso than this one. But…im glad we at least got the opportunity to see what might have been via the wonderful work that J.R and Makeflix have done to bring this set to life.

It’s miraculous that that this film exists quite honestly given EVERYTHING that went on behind the scenes and given the amount of stress that was ultimately put on J.R I totally understand why he stepped back from directing for a time after this. but being able to see it years later. while it IS bad, no doubt about it. I can at least appreciate it for what it stands for. this was a film that was made from nothing. it’s goofy, cheesy and those title cards and credits will be the death of me. but it got MADE. J.R got it over the line and it got into Video stores. thats amazing. so I hope despite my negative criticism of the film in the review below. that you still at least keep that in mind.

Since these reviews went live Makeflix have also announced that all of these movies in the SOV six pack will be recieving solo releases in the near future. while I dont have an exact ETA, my advice has always and will continue to always be. Keep an eye on Makeflix. they’ve got some great stuff in the pipeline.

This cover is TERRIBLY misleading. I love it.

Galaxy of the Dinosaurs (1992)

Now this. This charts the point where I feel that J.R and what was left of the cast and crew realised the SOV six pack project was well and truely on a hiding to nothing. Not only did the budget get DRASTICALLY cut to a little under $1250 PER PROJECT. but it was still the middle of a freezing Ohio winter and deadlines for these projects were rolling closer and closer.

Its understandable after the work on Chick Boxer and Maximum Impact pretty much lost J.R most of his crew, a chunk of his cast and at least a writer or two that the cart was now pulling the horse and not the other way around. I dont doubt J.R’s proficiency as a director one bit. These films would have never seen the light of day if he wasnt short of legendary in the directors seat. But it’s clear to see at this point that the project was running away with itself and things were starting to reach a head.

I mention in my review that I had a similar experience to J.R when it comes to this movie as I to made the stupid STUPID mistake to go and make a movie outdoors with a skeleton crew in the middle of a freezing winter for about a week with minimal to no supplies, and honestly the stress and the weather damn near drove us all away from ever doing anything film releated ever again. So I can only IMAGINE what J.R was dealing with when not only was he dealing with that level of craptitude but that he also had Home Cinema Video breathing down his neck to deliver a finished product. I mean, I can only compare his experience to mine, and I at least had the relief of not having to work to deadlines.

Anyway; Galaxy of the Dinosaurs is a cheap but cheerful affair. it really did give me “Red Dwarf” vibes based on the script, and I think this movie may actually be my favourite script purely from a tone and dialogue standpoint out of any of the movies featured in the six pack.

Also; this poster art is terrifically misleading.

Maximum Impact (1992)

Given that Maximum impact was recorded in the same block as Chick Boxer its not surprising to hear that the film suffered similar issues to Chick Boxer. now it’s not a technical disaster like Chick Boxer is, but it DOES suffer from the issue of it being recorded around christmas time. So even though the “Professional” film makers had all piled into this project to get the job done. they were still having to deal with the uphill battle of having to contend attention wise with chirstmas and everything that came with it.

That not only mean dealing with actors who were too busy shopping to remember their lines, but they also had to deal with crew who had the same issue and plummeting tempratures across the board. it really was a terrible time to decide to make 2 movies back to back. But…these guys did it. It means that, no matter how bland or just…not quite there this film is. they still managed to power through and deliver an end product thats actually not that bad. looking back on the set i’d say that Chick Boxer was the definite low point of the set in terms of production quality. but if we plotted a graph it would show a “V” shape almost. and Maximum impact would be on the other side of that sharp dip. the films that came after this. in their own way are entertaining (if not technically lacking) but this movie? I can at least applaud it that its TRYING to be good. J.R and crew hadnt thrown in the towel, they wanted to make this work and despite its GLARING flaws. I think I have to applaud a film that tries over one that doesnt every time.

This one also has the honour of having the modern artwork look the closest to it’s original artwork. I think it looks good…even if it doesnt really tell you anything about the film itself.

Chick Boxer

I had a rather pleasent surprise while these reviews were going live. JR Bookwalter the man himself was doing a live stream Q&A for a new release for makeflix and I dropped in to ask a question about whether he’d ever consider getting back into directing (his answer was “never say never!” so here’s hoping for the SOV 12 pack in 2024!) but while watching he mentioned in passing that he’d actually been checking out a couple of these reviews as they dropped! which…well I was honestly quite beside myself as, while I have had the odd director, DOP, Cam Op or in one specific case producer drop by to tell me about how their movie sucked, or that they were grateful for my honesty. i’ve never had someone say that live, on video. TO ME.

Anyway; I mention that because this was the review he referenced specifically when he said he’d seen a couple of the reviews I’d done. and…if you’ve seen my review of this in advance of reading this post. you’ll know that I was not a fan of this movie…didnt care for it at all…hates a strong word but I do believe I said this movie was “The kind of film you take to a bad movie night when you dont like anyone in attendence.” which was then quoted in a tweet by J.R Bookwalter himself. POSITIVELY I might add!…but still. he hates this movie. I…didnt care for this movie. most people i’ve shown this film to (Because im an evil fuck) hated this movie. this is not a good movie. the poster and title is about as good as it gets.

In my minds eye I imagined Chick boxer to be a kind of gritty “Rocky” type flick. y’know, a young girl is bullied or harrassed or…I dunno SOMETHING happens. and she decides to “Get tough” cue several training montages and eventually said weedy girl is now a martial artist taking on the scum of the streets vigilante style, with the papers and police not really knowing what to make of her. almost like what was done in “Robot Ninja” but without the super hero costume and the scene where a guy removes and inserts weird tubes into his arm.

Instead we got…well I’ll let the review do the rest of the work.

This cover is the best thing about the movie. and it took nearly 30 years for it to happen.

Zombie Cop (1991)

Zombie cop is problematic but it is my favourite film in the SOV six pack. There isnt really much more I can say about that. Honestly, I thought the film was going to go one way and it surprised me very much by going in a different direction. based on the title and rough plot outlines I saw floating around online before I got into this one. I was thinking that the “Zombie” element of zombie cop was going to be played on a lot more. I was expecting visual gags of him losing limbs or having to fight the urges to eat brains to get justice served, or other things like that. hell I was astounded at the restraint of the writer/director for not doing a scene where our hero ends up in the same shape as the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I was envisioning something a bit more in line with “Dead Heat“. But instead this is kind of closer to “Robocop” with just a dash of Voodoo magic thrown in for good measure. the zombie aspects definitely present, but it’s more Aesthetic than anything else. it isnt really played on too heavily and instead a more action driven narrative is played up which I really wasnt expecting and honestly I was quite delighted in the direction it chose as I think the risk of it falling into campy oblivion by doing comedy zombie tropes would have been all be inevitable otherwise.

On a technical level this is possibly one of the best SOV movies I’ve ever seen. it’s proficient, professional for the most part and has some quite big set pieces which, given the budget, were quite the spectacle. is it perfect? no. but is it bloody good fun? absolutely.

also the film poster for this one is TOTALLY badass. I really love these new cover redesigns.