The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree (1979)

An annoying combination of anti-father propaganda and commercial for professional Christmas tree salesmen, The Berenstain Bears Christmas Tree somehow conflates wanting to have a bad ass Christmas tree with not knowing what is really important about the holiday.

Everyone knows they’re supposed to pay lip service to the idea that the whole point of the season is about giving, but how you can be credible handing out goodies to ungrateful family members if you’re having to do it underneath some stunted and deformed fir that looked looked like it did a tour in Nam and got hit with some experimental defoliant? Continue reading “The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree (1979)”

Live by the Fist (1993)

One of three films that paired kickboxing star Jerry “Golden Boy” Trimble and Filipino exploitation directing legend Cirio H. Santiago, Live by the Fist lives up to its scuzzy action promise by delivering all the garishly dubbed violence we were hoping for in their previous effort Stranglehold! While Cirio seemed out of sorts trying to make a Die Hard type movie set in a chemical plant with Stranglehold, he re-affirms his status here as a master of the low budget action film set in prisons, warehouses, and quarries! Continue reading “Live by the Fist (1993)”

A Howling in the Woods (1971)

Welcome to Stainesville, Nevada! It’s a small town where everyone knows everyone else and more importantly, everyone knows everyone else’s dirty little secrets and spends most of their time shooting glowering looks back and forth and testily advising one another not to talk to that no good outsider from New York who is staying at her family’s lodge. (Don’t be so defensive guys! She’s just there to establish residency so she can get a quickie divorce, not bust up your evil coven, secret sex cult or college sports betting ring!)
Continue reading “A Howling in the Woods (1971)”

Navigators of the Space (1993)

For Bob, it was a day like any other in a cheesy minimal effort E.T. the Extraterrestrial wannabe life. Rush through breakfast so he could make the baseball game where he’d be rightfully bullied for his utter failure to hit a fastball, hit the airboat races with his family to watch his dad bring home a sweet $5000 prize and then see one of his father’s competitors get in his face about it. Later on a gator attacked their airboat, knocking dad overboard, causing Bob to lose consciousness and end up kidnapped by a UFO piloted by a talking robot with giant human-like eyes! Damn little dude, I bet you wish hadn’t been so hellbent on hurrying through your breakfast now! Continue reading “Navigators of the Space (1993)”

Eyes Behind the Stars (1978)

An uncompromising and bleak effort, Eyes Behind the Stars is a surprisingly serious sci-fi conspiracy thriller with almost none of the goofiness you would expect from an Italian exploitation movie generally and especially from Mario Gariazzo who also made the spectacularly inept, tastless and boring Very Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind the same year! (Of course, the aliens in Eyes Behind the Stars could be classified as a bit silly-looking with their wool long johns pulled up over their heads and blue plastic visers covering their face, but their intelligence and technology are probably way too advanced for someone watching a 1970s Italian sci-fi film to properly grasp.) Continue reading “Eyes Behind the Stars (1978)”

Very Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind (1978)

Very Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind is an Italian sex farce focussing on three scumbags who dress up in cheap spaceman costumes and trick women into being intimate with them, committing any number of felonies in the process (not the least of which is being criminally unfunny), but who are only ever arrested for running a red light while dressed up as women. (Their clothes had been stolen and the only things nearby to wear were dresses, but that didn’t explain why they all felt like they needed to be in full drag complete with wigs and hats.) Continue reading “Very Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind (1978)”

Nukie (1987)

For much of Nukie, a tale of a pair of extraterrestrial brothers separated and stranded on Earth, I was convinced what I was seeing was the culmination of days, if not just hours, of work by people who themselves had just landed from another world and had never seen a movie in their life.

While it clearly, desperately wanted to rip off E.T. the Extraterrestrial (there’s a little ugly brown alien with giant eyes just like E.T., but even better, there are two of them!), the film’s seemingly random melange of characters and storylines (there’s a witch doctor who wants to kill the village twins, a nun who simultaneously tries to civilize the natives while complaining to a NASA doctor about the dangers of bringing the modern world to the village, a computer AI who develops a heart with feelings and a NASA administrator who wants to be a clown) will leave the unsuspecting viewer feeling like she was exposed to some alien brain devouring microbe. (Did Nukie just accidentally cause an earthquake because he wished the earth would devour him and somehow it did so that when he wakes up and busts out of the ground everything in the village is trashed? Or did I somehow get trashed and just didn’t know it?) Continue reading “Nukie (1987)”