Friday, September 13, 2013

The Shiny Turd List

No review today as I haven’t had a chance to watch anything. So let’s do this. A couple weeks ago, we listed some hidden gems. Those were films that were largely overlooked or even panned, but turned out to be inspired. Today’s list is... uh... similar.

Today’s list comes from the world of direct to video... garbage time... the world of the Corman-esque. Bad production values, unworkable ideas, poor writing, horrible acting. These things are just plain wrong. Yet, sometimes, these films actually turn out to be quite entertaining. They aren’t hidden gems, but they are at least shiny turds. These are worth your time:

Splinter: This film is shockingly good. It stars Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire) as a nasty convict on the run who carjacks Jill Wagner (the Mercury Girl) and her weenie boyfriend. As they stop to get gas at a local gas station, they encounter an oozing black creature that was once human. This creature was created when the human became infected by a parasite from deep within the forest. They must now escape the gas station. This film really feels like a legitimate A-movie. It helps that Whigham is a solid actor, the creature is creepy, the effects are good, the direction is solid, and the film doesn’t try to do more than it is capable of doing. I highly recommend this one.

Ghost Shark: This is one of those films that knows not to take itself seriously and it hits the right amount of “stupid funny” to keep you staring at the screen throughout. The story is this: a couple rednecks kill a great white shark. Unfortunately for them, the shark’s corpse sinks into a cave that has been cursed, which curse resurrects the shark as a ghost. It can now hunt anyone in the water... any water... ANY water... like when the shark kills a guy from the inside out when he drinks a glass of water or when it sucks a carwash girl into a bucket. The story is ridiculous, but charming. The acting is earnest. Richard Moll as Finch is particularly good. And the shark’s revenge killings are laugh-out-loud stupid. This one is fun.
Route 666: This is a surprisingly decent film. Lou Diamond Phillips and Lori Petty are US Marshals who need to get Steven Williams to a court in Los Angeles. They are being chased by the mob and a corrupt sheriff, so they decide to take a shortcut across the old Route 66, which has been closed for reasons unknown. They discover those reasons when a ghostly chain gang rises out of the road and starts killing them. This film is adequately shot, written, acted and directed. What makes this one worth seeing is the relationship between Williams, who is funny as hell, and Petty and Phillips.

Category 6: Day of Destruction: There are a lot of disaster films and most of them are crap. This one is surprisingly good. It starts with tornadoes in Las Vegas, a heat wave in Chicago and snow in Illinois. This is a riddle to the people who monitor the weather as none of this should be happening. As they struggle to solve the riddle, a killer storm is forming and bearing down on Chicago... will they spot it in time? Starring Brian Dennehy, Randy Quaid, and a couple dozen more actors, this is a very earnest attempt at a disaster epic. To pass the time, the film is mixed with interpersonal stories, like the couple having an affair, jealous assistants, and some punks with a gun. And in the end, this all works pretty well. Is it full of clichés? Yeah. Are the effects great? No. But unlike other disaster films, this one feels pretty credible.

Swamp Devil: Melanie Blaime returns home to Gibbington to discover that her father (Bruce Dern) has disappeared into the swamp because he’s wanted for multiple murders. On her way into town, she runs across a childhood acquaintance. This acquaintance promises to help her and her father. But all is not what it seems. It turns out that a swamp monster is on the loose and that is what has been killing people. I won’t give any more away because this has a bit of mystery in it. It’s well shot, earnest and all-in-all a pretty good movie. It’s honestly as good of a “Swamp Thing” movie as you’re ever going to get.

Rise of the Gargoyles: Eric Balfour is Professor Jack Randall, a discredited expert on gargoyles. He’s called in to investigate an attack on some people who are digging beneath the Saint Jean André Church in Paris. Add in a skeptical journalist and a police inspector who now suspects Jack of being involved in several murders and you get a pretty decent film.

Ghouls: William Atherton is evil, I’m pretty sure of that, and this film strikes me as home video. The story involves Jennifer, who joins her father (Atherton) in Romania for the funeral of her mother. The locals are kind of strange, but hey, dad would never lead you wrong, right? Yeah, not unless he’s trying to open a vortex to the spiritual world to let in a bunch of ghouls... but William Atherton would never do that, would he? This one is all around kind of average for these films, but the story is more solid than usual, there is a good mystery, and Atherton brings a solid level of acting that’s normally missing in these films.

Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God: Earnest, my Lord, earnest. In 2000, they made a Dungeons and Dragons film staring Jeremy Irons and Jimmy Olson. It sucked dragon tuchus. At no point did that film either capture the spirit of the game or feel like anyone in it bought what they were doing. This film does. This film is right out of the game manuals and involves very earnest acting. Add in some nice inter-character conflict and you get a rather enjoyable film.

Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus: Forget the movie. The movie is utterly ridiculous. I think Hawaii gets destroyed at one point. What makes this movie work is the dysfunctional acting relationship between Gary Stretch (as English hunter Nigel Putnam) and Steven Urkel as some Navy scientist who keeps talking about adjusting his balls so they do something that makes no sense. Short answer: a giant nuclear-submarine-eating shark squares off against a giant crocodile, as Urkel talks about his balls and some lecherous English hunter hits on a lesbian. What could possibly go wrong here?

Mega Piranha: Paul Logan is the ultimate uh... commando, secret agent, pilates instructor. Whatever. He’s a Navy SEAL. And he travels to Venezuela to investigate giant piranha that keep getting bigger. Helping him is Tiffany. Opposing him is the Venezuelan Army. By the time the piranha are big enough to take down a battleship, Greg Brady needs to get involved. This is a mockbuster aimed at Piranha 3-D and, frankly, I like it better than Piranha 3-D because it never once believes anyone is taking the movie seriously.

Those are some shiny turds. Any I missed?

36 comments:

tryanmax said...

Wow, that's gonna keep me busy for awhile. Too bad more aren't on Netflix.

AndrewPrice said...

By way of disclaimer, before you OD on this stuff. These are NOT great films. These are just some of the best of the worst... though Splinter and Route 666 are actually quite good.

In other words, I find these to be rather enjoyable, but they aren't on the same level as A-list films.

tryanmax said...

Yeah, that's what I figured. None of the better-sounding ones are on Netflix. The ones that sound like Syfy Original are, though. :P

AndrewPrice said...

That's too bad. I know that Splinter and Route 666 get a good deal of play on one of the premium channels, so maybe that explains that. The Sci-Fi stuff gets played fairly regularly.

Kit said...

Just watched the trailer for Route 666 and it looks like a low budget horror flick. Kinda cool. :)

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, All of these are low... low... low budget. :)

I like Route 666 a good deal. It is technically a horror flick, but it's not scary.

shawn said...

Andrew, that D&D movie from 2000 has Jeremy Irons but not Wesley Crusher. The guy you are thinking about was Jimmy Olson on Lois and Clark: the new Adventures of Superman.

I agree, Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God is actually suprisingly watchable.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, Crud. That's right. Whoops.

You know, I was surprised that Wrath of the Dragon God was as good as it was. Those films are usually garbage, but this one was pretty good. I particularly like the beginning when he's dueling with his former student who is now the captain of the guard. I thought that was a really subtle and effective way to introduce his motivation and to show that he had lost a step... it was the kind of scene I didn't expect in this kind of film. And the rest of the film I felt maintained that level of intelligence.

Tennessee Jed said...

I'm simply amazed you have the time to watch these, and do all the other things you do (work at lawyering, full time blogging, etc.) I honestly can't say I'm likely to see any of these, but I would agree sometimes films of modest means are actually quite good.

Anonymous said...

I watch Howling II: You're sister is a werewolf everytime it's on. I like Reb Brown, dammit! I've liked him ever since he was in that awful Captain America tv movie when I was a kid, and he goes into some kind of eighties hall of fame for being Blaster in Uncommon Valor.(To clarify - I'm explaining why I love Reb Brown, Uncommon Valor doesn't belong on this list) Throw in Romania - it was set in Romania- I don't know where they shot it - Christopher Lee overacting with everything he's got, I haven't watched this since last Halloween, I seem to remember a dancing dwarf of some kind or other, and the creme de la creme, Sybil Danning in the flesh. (And lots of it;) An awful movie that's a hell of a lot of fun.
I've only seen this one once,but Hell Comes To Frogtown has to be mentioned. Roddy Piper as the last fertile man on earth after a nuclear holocaust freed from prison on the condition that he impregnate Sandahl Bergman. To keep him from escaping they strap him into a jock strap with a bomb in it that will make him unfertile (if you get my drift) if he tries to remove it or gets more than 30 yards from Bergman. That predicament led to this great exchange.
Piper "How do I..."
Bergman "There's a flap."
Go on youtube sometime and watch Piper in his prime. What made him such a great wrestling villain was his tremendous charisma, and he's always fun to watch. The great William Smith has a small part in that one too. And mentioning Mr. Smith brings me to Eye Of The Tiger. When a movie is named after a song you have a pretty good idea of what you're getting into.
Gary Busey returns from prison to try to rebuild his life. He runs afoul of the corrupt sheriff,who's in the pocket of the kingpin biker,played by Smith at his howl at the moon finest.There's a scene where the sheriff has kidnapped Busey's daughter. One of the sheriff's deputies is in the hospital with two broken legs,wich are up in the air the way broken legs always are in movies. Busey comes into the hospital and demands to know the whereabouts of his daughter. The deputy refuses. Gary produces a stick of dynamite,shoves it into the 5 lb jar of vaseline that just happens to be at this guy's bedside tray,and rams it up his ass!
I have to go to Amazon now and buy some movies. :)
GypsyTyger

whitsbrain said...

Yeah...Splinter. Pretty good movie. Beware of the "arm" scene, though. Brutal!

goldvermilion87 said...

This particular doesn't have bad production values, so perhaps it doesn't qualify as a turd, but as far as I'm aware, my sister and I are the only people who think Young Sherlock Holmes is an awesome movie that must be watched over and over and over and . . .

Anonymous said...

I love Anaconda.
And yes,I'm ashamed.
GypsyTyger

goldvermilion87 said...

this particular film*

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I don't know where I get the time either. I've always been a fan of lousy movies though. :)

AndrewPrice said...

GypsyTyger, Roddy Piper of course brings to mind the not-much-underrated but very entertaining They Live.

"I'm here to kick and chew bubblegum... and I'm all out of gum." :)

AndrewPrice said...

whitsbrain, Splinter is surprisingly good. I wasn't expecting anything, but it turned out to be better than a lot of A-list horror films. It wasn't particularly scary, but it was tense and it had some amazing imagery -- the creature is just fantastic. And yeah, the arm scene makes you cringe.

AndrewPrice said...

goldvermilion, I enjoyed Young Sherlock Holmes. I haven't seen it in decades though. I'll have to watch that again.

AndrewPrice said...

GypsyTyger, I like Anaconda too. I also get a kick out of watching Tiffany and Debbie Gibson fight in Mega Python v.Gatoroid.

I also like Swamp Volcano (which has nothing to do with a swamp) where "The Crying Man" is an evil corporate type bent on destroying Miami.

Some of these films are just simply fun.

Anonymous said...

I love They Live. At the time, and maybe still for all I know,it contained the longest fight scene in film history. I saw an interview with Carpenter where he said that he shot it to break the old record, which was John Wayne vs Victor McLaughlin in The Quiet Man. And not only does it contain the epic line "I have come here to kick ass and chew bubblegum - and I'm all out of bubblegum" it contains the less known but equally great "Life's a bitch,and she's back in heat" both of which Piper adlibbed by the way.
GypsyTyger

Koshcat said...

I liked Anaconda as well. Troll 2 is one of those real turds that is sooo bad that it is somewhat entertaining. I mean, it has terrible acting, it had nothing to do with Troll or trolls in general (they are goblins) and they are vegetarian globins to boot so the victims need to be turned into plants. It makes no sense. Hilarious.

AndrewPrice said...

GypsyTyger, Sadly, I have to say that the fight scene is too long. It reaches a point where it feels painful to watch. Other than that, I really like the film.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, Anaconda is good. I enjoyed Troll 2 as well, though I don't know why. Nice description of it! LOL!

Rustbelt said...

Ah, GypsyTyger! You just HAD to mention Reb Brown, didn't you? Now, I have to post this link all over again. I know I just posted it a few threads ago, but...you mentioned Reb Brown. Now, here's his eternally, immortal, penultimate performance.

LINK

By the way, (imitates Captain Harris from 'Police Academy'), please notice how the space ship is always in constant burn mode; the shamelessly 'borrowed' special effects of 'Battlestar Galactica'; the concrete floor construction of the ship as well as its brick walls that we're sure don't make it bottom-heavy at all, but clearly compliment the atmosphere-filtered sunlight pouring in through the bay windows...wait a minute.

Note: The clip is only up because GypsyTyger mentioned Reb Brown. This is NOT an endorsement of the film in the clip- which should never be watched without heckling.

Rustbelt said...

Andrew, enjoying lousy movies is both a common side effect and a small price to pay for being fans of the glory that is MST3K.

After all, what would life be if we didn't have cinematic turds to make fun of? Boring, I think.

T-Rav said...

I haven't seen any of these except Category 6, which was...well, yeah, it was all right. Its sequel, Category 7...not so much. None of the others sound particularly interesting except for Splinter. There was another movie kind of along those lines, but I can't think of the name.

And as for Troll 2, that was just stupid. It falls just this shy of being in that very small category of movies even MST3K can't improve.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, You haven't lived until you've seen these films. :P

Yeah, Category 7 stunk.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, There is a real charm to some bad films. It's hard to explain, it just is. They're fun to watch.

As for brick walls on a spaceship... LOL!

goldvermilion87 said...

Oh wait . . .

TWILIGHT!!!!!!!!!


That's actually fun to watch with other normal human beings.

That and Les Mis. It's unbearable if you are with people who are feeling all deep and crying.

AndrewPrice said...

goldvermilion, Twilight kills me. I can't watch it. I tried... it's like Avatar to me.

shawn said...

GypsyTyger is right, Hell Comes to Frogtown is all kinds of low budget awesome. Sandahl Bergman never looked better.

Anonymous said...

Rusbelt - Thanks so much for that! That clip will live in my mind forever. :
Andrew: A lot of people feel the way you do about the fight in They Live. I just always have fun watching Roddy Piper because he just always seems like he's having fun no matter what he's doing.
And Shawn, thanks for the backup on Hell Comes To Frogtown. "Low budget awesome" is a great phrase.
GypsyTyger

AndrewPrice said...

GypsyTyger, I enjoy the movie and I like most of the fight scene, but there comes a point where it needs to end, but it just keeps going for several more minutes after that.

Anonymous said...

Andrew: I pretty much agree.
Like I said, I saw an interview with Carpenter where he said that it had been brought to his attention that the longest fight scene in a movie was the one from The Quiet Man. He timed that scene and then shot the one in They Live purposely to last longer than the one in The Quiet Man. Knowing that and watching it, you can tell that Carpenter dragged it out deliberately past the point where it would have concluded.

AndrewPrice said...

Yep. In any event, I enjoy the movie. It's solid B-film goodness.

Rustbelt said...

GypsyTyger- you are welcome! Big McLargeHuge forever!

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