Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Worst of the Worst

Well, I've reached 100 blog posts with this text. Much as I hate to be self-congratulatory or celebrate meaningless milestones, I still figure it's as good time as any to do something cool I've wanted to do for a while. The clip here (by Schulte Fiajo) has been watched in YouTube for over 2 million times – and that's just for this crappy-quality version. The scenes in it are certainly amazing, but how are the actual films? Luckily I've seen every one of them, so here's the rundown. Hope you haven't stuffed up on Thanksgiving, because there's a big plate of Turkeys coming your way right here!

Enter the Ninja (USA, 1981)
Director: Menahem Golan

This film was actually one of the first reviewed for this blog (back when I had little to no idea where to go with it). So it stands to reason to take a fresh new look at it. Actually, compared to most of the other films on the video, Enter the Ninja is quite coherent. In fact, even compared to Golan's two other ninja films starring Sho Kosugi, Enter the Ninja is practically art.

Franco Nero stars as army vet Cole, who has decided to join a ninja academy. Because he's white, he dresses up in a white costume. Disposable evil ninjas dress in red, and Cole's chief rival Hasegawa (Kosugi) dresses in the classic ninja black. The film begins as Cole runs through a forest, killing off red ninjas and outsmarting Hasegawa. Cole's goal is to fake-assassinate the school's sensei. He succeeds, earning him to graduate with flying mark. This earns him the envy of Hasegawa.

And with these ten opening minutes, we have nearly all the ninja content that is actually contained in the film. The rest plays more like a western, with Cole helping out his land-owning war buddy Frank Landers (Alex Courtney) in a ranch in the Philippines. As it happens, the evil plantation owner Charles Venarious (Christopher George) wants the land and sends groups of thugs to persuade Landers to change his mind or die. When Cole always beats 'em up, Venarious comes up with more and more nefarious plans, finally just hiring Hasegawa.

There isn't much note-worthy about the film. It's an OK friday-night film if one doesn't expect anything much. Characters float in and out of the picture with little to no explanation. Cole gets away with a lot of assaults and murders, but then again, the police force in the Philippines is either non-existent or owned by Venarious. Franco Nero has laughably horrible dialogue, but manages to pull the character off. Nero proves himself to be multiple times cooler than many other Golan-Globus main actors such as Chuck Norris, for example.

★★ 1/2

Scene and context: Worst Death scene

This is a big spoiler as it is what happens just before Cole's final showdown with Hasegawa. Venarious has his usual main-bad-guy threat-speech while Cole is lurking behind a corner. But Cole proves that a ninja star is faster than a revolver. My DVD version had this scene cut shorter. I suspect it is a cut version, which would explain why the film never showed what happened to the fat, one-armed thug boss.

Alluda Mazaaka...! (a.k.a. Alluda Majaka, India, 1995)
Director: Satyanarayana E.V.V.

As mad as Bollywood films might be, they hold no cake to the cheery insanity that goes on in the films made in the Southern Telegu territories. Chiranjeevi is the biggest star of the area. During the mid-90's he was so popular that his fans threatened to kill themselves by setting themselves on fire in front of movie theatres if his new film would not be released. The problem with Alluda Mazaaka was not it's magnificent action scenes, but rather the sexually suggestive banter. The film's plot itself was pretty hard to understand (for me, at least), so I have to rely on second-hand sources to make sense of it.

Sitaramudu (Chiranjeevi) is the son of a village leader and the owner of a kick-ass moustache. One day in the countryside, he encounters the two daughters of a wealthy businessman. The city girls are spoiled, snotty and picky, so he decides to teach them a humiliating lesson. While he's playing around with them, both the girls fall in love with Sitara. At the same time, Sitara's sister Malliswari (Ooha) has gotten pregnant with a sleazy lawyer Shivaramakrishna (Giribabu). This makes Sitaramudu's father kill himself, and the boy to vow revenge and to get the two legally married. But Shivaramakrishna is only after the lands owned by the family, and plots to get rid of both brother and sister. Malliswari is framed as a prostitute and Sitara as a cop killer. Sitara thus decides to disguise himself as the wealthy Mr. Toyota to find out Shivaramakrishna's plans and which of the girls truly loves him.

The three-hour film has so many plot twists, scheming and romantic relationship tangles that it's hard to keep up. It also moves along at a lighning speed, and only stops to have some pretty funny coreographed song-and-dance numbers. They also pretty liberally borrow from western music, and it's worth to hear at least the Indian version of Queen's We Will Rock You. But all of the film's action stunts are absolutely fantastic, with some very cool stunts, explosions, car flips and horseback chases you wouldn't see in any Hollywood film (one of the reasons why is probably because the horses have to do pretty painful-looking falls). It is constantly inventive, crazy and badass. Another very popular scene is the tractor stunt. The film climaxes in a boat chase so massive and so cool, thet Face/Off and Miami Vice pale in comparison. The film is nothing short of amazing during these scenes, but after the mid-film break, there is a little too much talking and following of the too-hard-to-follow plot. The comedy in the film doesn't really work for me, altough I do know people who laughed their asses off even to those.


Scene and context: The worst stunt

The stunning chase scene which features this stunt, starts off the film. The chase itself also features a number of other fancy things you can do with a horse. There's also incredible car flips and explosions so big, even Michael Bay would think they'd be overkill if he wasn't so busy masturbating. At the beginning, Sitaramudu (Chranjeevi) in police custody. When he hears the girl he loves is about to marry, he does a daring escape to stop the wedding. We then step back in time to see how we got to that point.

Troll 2 (Italy, 1990)
Director: Claudio Fragasso (as Drake Floyd)

So legendary is this film in badness, that documentaries have been made from it. While director Claudio Fragasso (of Zombi 3 and Scalps fame) claims that his film is strongly ironic, what is clear that the cast and crew of the film had no idea of it at the time of the shoot. Blame the language barrier between Italians and Americans, but we got some of the worst acting, weirdest logic and oddest looking creatures and set-pieces in entertainment history.

The young Joshua Waits (Michael Stephenson) is listening to a  bedtime story told by his Grandpa Seth (Robert Ormsby). He hears about the bloodthirsty goblins (there are no actual trolls in the film) that use trickery to lure people into their forest. There the foul creatures can magically turn their captives into half-man half-vegetable hybrids and eat them. The next day, Josh's family is going on a vacation to a country village called Nilbog. While Josh tries to warn that goblins may be after the strange countryhouse deal they've got, no one listens to him. Why? Well, Grandpa Seth has been dead all along and Josh has been talking to a g-g-g-ghost!

At the same time Josh's sister Connie (Holly Waits) is struggling with her boyfriend Elliot (Jason Wright). While she would want to just have sex with him, Elliot prefers to wear micro-shorts and hang out in a trailer-van with his buddies. Nevertheless, the teenaged boys follow the family to Nilbog, but soon most of them are preyed by the evil shape-shifting goblins and their queen Creedence Leonore Gielgud (Deborah Reed).

If the film has a message, it wants to say that vegetarism is bad and inhuman, and the only way to save the world is to believe in fairy tales and go straight for a baloney sandwich. Every time someone eats a vegetable in the film, something bad happens. Some campiness can be deducted from some character names (Sherrif Gene Freak?), but it's all so badly done, it's hardly relevant whether the makers had their tongue in cheek or not. The acting varies from incompetent (all of the Waits) to manic overacting in a Helena Bonham-Carter drag (Reed). The troll masks look like they were made by kindergarteners, and in every shot they're in it's fun to spot the single troll mask that has goofy eyeballs in it. The film is pretty funny to be watched with a couple of beers and a group of snarky friends. But as I've seen the bloody thing for three times, I can promise that it reduces in charm with every viewing.

★ (or ★★★★★)

Scene and context: Worst reaction

Arnold (Darren Ewing) is the horniest of the film's teenaged boys. When he sees a young girl running for her life in the forest, he attempts to tackle her. Only when he realized she's being chased by blood- (or sap-)thirsty trolls does he realize that they should run. They seek refuge in Gielgud's house and get a glass of fruit juice to drink, courtesy of their hostess. The truth is soon revealed as the girl melts into a pile of goo upstairs, and Arnold grows roots which render him immobile. Then the trolls come out...

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (USA, 1987)
Director: Lee Harry

While a little less known than Troll 2, SNDN2 has also the dubious honors of being named one of the worst horror films ever made. While I wouldn't actually go that far, it is better to not have seen the first film in the series in a while while watching this. For the first 40 minutes or so, Silent 2 is little more than the clip show equivalent of a horror film, reminiscing everything that happened in the first.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (which I will also be reviewing soon) ends as the killer santa is shot at the feet of his kid brother, Ricky Caldwell. This of course hinted at a sequel already. We open as the all-grown-up Ricky (Eric Freeman) is already captured and interviewed by the criminal psychologist Henry Bloom (James L. Newman). He reminiscens his brother's kill spree and his traumatic childhood, being terrified of the color red, sex and Santas. When he grew up, he also had a girlfriend, Jennifer (Elizabeth Kaitan). When jealousy takes the better of him, Ricky starts to kill everyone around him, until he is arrested by police forces. But while he has told the story, Ricky has also managed to escape from the interrigation room by figuring out how to kill Bloom. As it's Christmas, the recently released Ricky  decides to attempt to kill the one person in his background that he or his big brother never managed to kill yet: the sadistic Mother Superior (Jean Miller).

The Embodiment of Evil.
The film has two major problems which attribute to it's bad reputation. First is of course the pacing. At first the film seems to be the cheapest ever made, as it only contains two people sitting in a room and clips from another film. There are long, unnecessarily lingering shots that seem to only exist to waste time. It takes 40 minutes before there are any major new scenes. Fortunatelly, the film picks off from there. There's a sweet car flip and explosion which show that there was some money in making this, but perhaps they ran out of it in the middle of the shoot. The film also manages to have a good share of inventive and funny murders. A yuppy gets toasted with a car battery so his eyeballs pop. A guy is impaled with an umbrella, which is then opened. Not much of it has anything to do with Christmas.

The biggest problem is that Eric Freeman is a horrendous actor. He has two different methods in the film: one when he's supposed to be normal and thus tries to not react to anything too much. The second is when he's a manic killer, going as over-the-top as he can, spurring one-liners in a Duke Nukem voice or having a mocking tone. The end half of the film is still funny enough and close, oh so close to being so bad it's funny. At times this is still almost unwatchably terrible.


Scene and context: Worst line-reading ever

Ricky has just killed off her girlfriend and her yuppie ex-boyfriend brutally. When a cop tries to arrest him, he turns his gun back to his face and shoots him. As he now has a gun, he goes off in a kill spree around the neighbourhood, cackling to himself.

Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (Israel/South Africa/USA, 2002)
Director: David Worth

I know this post has so far had a lot of "it isn't really that bad". Well, try this on for size. This is a film so hilariously bad that it deserved two entries to the video list, and even one of them features three actual deaths. There have been a lot of shark-themed exploitation films, but this has got to be the most inept, the most brain-numbingly stupid and the most hilarious of them.

It's hard to be the white girl when all the ethnics get eaten around you.

Beach patrolman Ben Carpenter (John Barrowman) discovers a giant tooth in an underground cavern on the Mexican coast. The shark researcher Cataline Stone (Jenny McStone) becomes interested in the case and arrives to study. When her research ship and it's surfer boy crew is attacked by a gigantic shark, Carpenter must come to the rescue. It becomes clear that the shark in question is a prehistoric Megalodon, a huge shark with a never-ending appetite. But the greedy holiday resort owner wants to keep this quiet for fear of loss of money (as is always the case). He also has a local cable company in his back pocket, which has already lost a number of employees to the shark. Yet they are still adamant to keep a luxury cruise fundraiser for the rich and powerful. A lot of silly hijinks ensue.

I feel like having Mexican for dinner tonight.

Really, Megalodon doesn't seem at all different from a regular great white shark, except it is a lot bigger and meaner. It's size also hilariously varies during the course of the film. The shark scenes are just clips from nature documentaries and the film has a whopping three different ones at its disposal. When the shark is just peeking from the water, this is silly, but when thesame scenes are used with CGI to show the shark eating someone or something, it looks truly ridiculous. The only fully CGI scenes at the very end of the film look too horrible to be from Playstation 1 game demos.

The film's real gift to the world is the totally incredibly bad dialogue, which is delivered even worse than in Troll 2. Here, I don't think the filmmakers can back off from their creation by claiming they're doing a satire. This straight-to-video film is as much exploitation as they come, not content of feeding off just from the popularity of Jaws, but also from the really minor success of its rip-off Shark Attack. Needless to say, this sequel has nothing in common with the first two films of the series. Barrowman in the lead role seems to have quite a lot of fun. Getting a vacation in Mexico while pretending to be a dude that looks at bikini girls? No wonder.

★ or ★★★★★

Scenes and context:
Most random line ever:

Carpenter has been shown from the beginning to be both really horny, and a real asshole. Stone has pushed off anyone trying to get close to her so far in the film, but it appears that she has finally fallen for Carpenter's charms(?). Sorry, I really got nothing. This comes from out of nowhere. If you want to watch the film, I suggest that you don't watch YouTube clips and save it.

Worst CGI

The two sleazy businessmen are having their fundraiser interrupted by Megalodon attacking. Stone and Carpenter haven't made it to attack the beast yet, so it starts eating rich people like popcorn. The shark also has an uncanny ability to teleport from place to place. How else can you explain that it's already waiting for its escaping prey like a hungry Droopy Dog?


  1. Troll 2, Megaladon 3, and Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 are really a trifecta of films that are more fun than they should be. I still find the part in SNDN2 where its revealed he's killed everyone via the recording vaguely creepy, but maybe I'm just a weirdo.

  2. SNDN2 had a good deal of good scenes in it, which makes it a shame that the film as a whole is so uneven.

    All of these films are kind of guilty pleasures – I tried to recommend Troll 2 to a group of friends once, and after they watched it, they hated me for it. Then again these work the best when watched late at night with a group of friends that appreciate the weirdness and the campy badness in these.

  3. Oh, and I also think that tape recorder kill happening ofscreen was creepy. Reminds me of the last scene from the last episode of Blackadder II.



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