Bad Movie Night!
Every once in a while I get together with my friends and we all enjoy a bad movie or two together, either in my living room or in a public setting at Ocean View Brew Works. There are so many bad movies out there, but only a small percentage of those are fun to watch with friends. My main criteria is that the film can be as stupid or badly made as it wants to, but it can’t be boring— something has to happen to amuse us! Over the years I have found some real oddities, most of which were a lot of fun, though some were a chore to get through! Part of the fun for me is drawing the movie posters, a little assignment I give myself to keep busy, and eventually create a body of work.
The first-ever Bad Movie Night of my series was in about 2006 or so, with just myself and two friends watching a double bill of Xanadu (1980) and Spice World (1997). Both films were pretty bad, but Spice World was the much worse of the two! The second BMN featured the weird musical Streets of Fire (1984) and Zardoz (1974), a bizarre British sci-fi film where Sean Connery runs around in pink thigh-high riding boots and matching diaper (I showed that one again for BMN 13). BMN 3 featured Star Crash (1978) and The Mansion of Madness (1973), a vaguely Poe-inspired Spanish film where lunatics take over an asylum. BMN 4 featured a ridiculous Italian movie called Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975) and Big Top Pee Wee (1988), and was the first BMN where I showed cartoons before each movie, which became a regular part of the show from then on. After that, I started doing a poster for almost every show.
Below is a list of every Bad Movie Night show in with the newest on top, oldest at the bottom, with a gallery of larger images of just the posters at the bottom. There have been a few live shows at Ocean View Brew Works, but those were repeats of previously featured films.
Bad Movie Night 31: Solarbabies (1986)
This was the first Bad Movie Night to feature only one film instead of a double feature. Sometimes it’s hard to get even hard-core movie masochists to sit through two misguided masterpieces of cinema sludge, and sometimes people are having too much fun hanging out and talking in the kitchen to sit down again for a second feature, so I cut them a little slack this time! This leaves a little more time for a longer cartoon reel anyway. Solarbabies is a nearly-perfect Bad Movie Night selection: there’s a lot going on, it’s fun to watch, and very little of it makes any sense, though it has certain similarities to our own time!
It’s set in the future, see, where it never rains (like today), and for some reason kids are being kept in a prison camp in the desert (as was happening during the Trump years), and for amusement the kids play a weird made-up future sport that’s a mix-up of basketball, lacrosse, and roller derby. And since it’s the future all the roller skates have little headlights on them! And what’s the best way to escape a camp in the middle of the desert? On roller skates, of course!! One of the kids finds a weird glowing ball inside the prison camp that can fly and communicate telepathically, and cures the kid’s deafness, just because, so this is also a sort of backhanded E.T. ripoff on top of everything else. They find a strange Burning Man style camp of post-apocalyptic wanderers straight out of a Mad Max film, one kid has a mystic owl with him for no apparent reason, Charles Durning is the not-quite evil camp commandant wearing an uncomfortable plastic jacket, Sarah Douglas (the evil Kryptonian from Superman 2) is very evil in it and has a reach-your-hand-in-the-box torture device from Dune, and Jami Gertz is here to be cute and say things like “Get out, you creature of filth!” and then it rains a lot.
So this one’s a keeper. See it at your own peril!
Bad Movie Night 29: Venus the Goddess of Love (1988), and Hexed (1993).
Venus the Goddess of Love was a made for TV movie I saw back in 1988, and had to share when I saw it was out on DVD. It stars Vanna White, the letter-turner from Wheel of Fortune, as the titular goddess with David Naughton from An American Werewolf in London and the guy who played Joe Isuzu from those 80’s TV ads. Somehow Venus has gotten herself turned into a cheap lawn statue that gets mixed with a bunch of others and stolen by bungling thieves. And David Naughton’s engagement ring gets stuck on the statue’s finger, so now he must marry Venus. Naturally, this film also features Little Richard as a funny hairdresser!
Hexed is a quirky and uneven but still very cheap comedy starring Claudia Christian from Babylon 5 as Hexina, a wild supermodel who comes to town and stays at a hotel where her number one obsessive fan works, who lies and poses as a celebrity to meet her and get a date. Unknown to him, Hexina may also be a mime-punching serial killer lunatic, and there’s some criminals I think. She is really good with the weird ad-libs (“There’s so many sex games we can play! Do you have mayonnaise and a rake?”), and Norman Fell steals the show as the uncaring hotel manager in his few scenes. Funny in a weird midnight movie kind of way, but still a pretty trashy film!
Bad Movie Night 28: The Milpitas Monster (1976), and Galaxy of Terror (1981)
The Milpitas Monster was made by a bunch of high school students in Milpitas CA in the early ’70s— and it shows! Somehow pollution has created a monster in the local garbage dump and it flies around eating the townspeople, including the town drunk, who is played by the only professional actor in the film. This film poorly acted, directed, and shot, but it has a lot of heart and is pretty hilarious in general.
Galaxy of Terror is a terrible knockoff of Alien, starring a lot of talented people who really should have known better, including Joanie from Happy Days. A spaceship crash-lands trying to rescue another crashed ship, and all the humans go through strange psychic fear trials before some of them get eaten up like pawns on a giant cosmic chessboard. Or something like that! James Cameron was a production designer on this movie, which did inform his good work when he later directed the much better movie Aliens.
Bad Movie Night 27: Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers (1992), and I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle (1990)
Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers is an absolutely bonkers sort of horror film about a mother and son who move to a new town to lure high-school virgins home to be eaten, because the pair are actually were-cats in a sexual relationship with each other. The son also has a car that can magically change from a red 1965 Mustang convertible to a blue 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am, presumably to help the son stay inconspicuous while stalking victims? And for some reason, they are both afraid of regular housecats, who hate the much larger were-cat pair and surround their house to trap them inside. If a regular cat scratches one of the were-cats, the scratch catches fire instantly, much to the alarm of both parties. There is also a formidable police cat named Clovis who does nothing until the very end. Alice Krige is very creepy as the sexy were-cat mother and there are cameos by various horror film directors, as well as a part for Ron Perlman, making this his second Bad Movie Night appearance after The Shaft for BMN 20!
I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle is a ridiculous British horror/comedy about a cursed motorcycle that’s possessed by a demon called up by a hippie biker satanist. Years later the bike is bought at a junk yard by a well-meaning idiot and slowly restored as it goes on a killing spree all on its own. And who ya gonna call to exorcise the demon? Why, Anthony Daniels as the priest on a chopper trike, of course! This film manages to not be too similar to Christine, while also not nearly as good. But it’s fun, and has a dream sequence of a talking turd in a toilet bowl that can’t be unseen.
Bad Movie Night 26: Sequels 2: Son of Sequels! Escape From L.A. (1996), and The Lost Skeleton Returns Again (2008)
Of course the only reason I did a sequels show back in Bad Movie Night 18 was so I could later do Sequels 2: Son of Sequels, and more to come later on with even sillier names. Escape From L.A. is the sequel to Escape from New York, both of which feature Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, an outlaw tough guy who specializes in breaking into and out of cities that have now been turned into prisons. In this one, Snake rides a surfboard on an earthquake-generated tsunami (because it’s California) to jump onto Steve Buscemi’s fleeing car. Try doing THAT in a good movie!
The Lost Skeleton Returns Again is the sequel to The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, both of which are loving parodies of older awful science fiction films. This one is mostly in color and features a play on the “mysterious lost tribe” trope as seen in films like King Solomon’s Mines, She, and Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. All of those are also better films than this one, though it does try, and Animala is always fun to watch! Rowr.
Bad Movie Night 25: Cutie Honey (2004), and UltraChrist! (2003)
Cutie Honey the movie is an absolutely crazy over-the-top live action film that perfectly mimics the pace and style of Japanese anime shows. Cutie Honey the character is a robotic girl that can transform herself into different outfits (or no outfit) or fighting forms, which she needs in order to survive attacks from a bunch of wildly flamboyant enemies working for the mysterious and ancient Sister Jill. On the way, Honey befriends a wisecracking reporter guy and a tough but tiny cop lady who drinks too much. There have been a number of comics and animated shows based on Cutie Honey, but probably none as weird as this movie!
UltraChrist! follows the adventures of a newly returned Jesus Christ in modern New York City, where he finds that his appeal to modern people may have faded since his earlier days. So in seeking a new angle from a marketing expert, he decides to become a superhero complete with sparkly costume and cape! His great nemesis the Antichrist also appears as a New York City Parks Commissioner, who resurrects the greatest sinners from history to make things tough for the Savior. This movie is very low-budget and only offends most people, not quite everybody!
Bad Movie Night 24: The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001), and The Creeping Terror (1964)
The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is a loving and very cheaply made homage to 50’s black-and-white sci-fi movies, and uses just about every trick in the book to make the point, including a silver spaceship that could have been made of a paper towel tube, broccoli for trees, a foam rubber monster suit, and a skeleton on a wire that can control people with amazing psychic powers! A good but dumb scientist and his wife, a pair of goofy aliens in silver jumpsuits, a bad scientist and his villainous sidekick and an ancient evil ghost skeleton are all seeking the elusive sample of “atmospherium,” a very rare new element, for different reasons. Of particular note is the villainous sidekick, a beautiful girl in a black catsuit known as Animala, who was created when the bad scientist used a stolen alien “transmutatron gun” on a small group of four different small forest animals which turned into Animala! I didn’t know transmutatrons worked that way, but I guess they do.
The Creeping Terror is one of those cheaply made 50’s black-and-white sci-fi movies, where a monster from a crashed alien ship wanders around a rural town eating only the very slowest people it encounters, because the monster is a slothlike heap of foam rubber and rolled-up carpet with a giant vaginal mouth on its front that the victims have to almost climb into for it to work. All of the sound is dubbed because the filmmakers lost the original audio track, so there’s a lot of narration. Somehow the monster manages to eat a whole bunch of people, including at a high school dance, and out in the woods where a very rotund man wanders around calling for “Bobby!” for about 20 minutes, until “the army” (five guys in a pickup truck) arrive to save the day. Variously rated as one of the 50 worst films of all time.
Bad Movie Night 23: Hand Movies! The Devil’s Hand (1961), and Manos, the Hands of Fate (1966)
The Devil’s Hand isn’t really even about hands, but cursed dolls made to look like real people in the movie in order to control the people according to the will of a demonic cult leader. This leader is played by Neil Hamilton, better known as Police Commissioner Gordon from the old Batman TV show, and in this movie he runs the weird doll shop so he’s not particularly threatening as he goes on and on about the demon they worship, which is called “Gamba”. This is about the tamest devil worship movie ever.
Manos, the Hands of Fate is a pretty well known bad movie, as it was once featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It’s another, even slower-moving satanic cult film, but at least this one’s in color! Be prepared to thrill to long scenes of a car driving along country roads, and the very weird and slow-walking handyman called Torgo, who shuffles in and out of various scenes in service of The Master, a sickly looking guy with a cop mustache who likes to dress in robes. At least this film has a slightly better ritual scene, with lots of maidens in thin robes alternately dancing or wrestling around.
Bad Movie Night 22: Home Grown Horror night! Psicko (1985), Ned (1986) and Mrs. Amworth (2007)
This show is a unique triple-bill featuring two films I made with some friends in high school, and one semi-professionally made film starring a woman I dated once long ago that I met again at a friend’s band gig many years later, when she mentioned that she once was in a movie. I had to look it up!
Psicko was made in 1985 by my high school friends John Romeis and Todd Rinker, who made a lot of amateur films after school as R&R Productions. This one was along the lines of a slasher film, but it was just a bunch of gags strung together with some driving scenes. I was chosen to play the Psicko, Melvin Franiff, while John and Todd played various other characters like the mom and dad, the mental hospital employees and various bystanders.
Ned was made a year later by John and Todd, based on a 1-page short story I wrote which became a much longer script with a bunch of other stuff in it. Also a slasher film parody though with fewer jokes and ever-so-slightly better production values.
Mrs. Amworth was a slow-moving vampire film starring the beautiful and talented musician Magenta Brooks, where she plays the vampire.
Bad Movie Night 21: Fairy Tales (1978) and Mister Sardonicus (1961)
Fairy Tales follows the adventures of a useless prince, who upon reaching his 21st birthday sets out to find the beautiful Sleeping Beauty, in a kingdom filled with more casual sex and nudity than in most modern fairy tales. This is a lighthearted spoof of various fairy tales with some clever dirty songs and an incongruous appearance by Motown star Martha Reeves, who reportedly was unaware of the graphic content of the rest of the movie until she took friends from church to see it! The Seven Dwarfs song is actually pretty good.
Mister Sardonicus is a low-budget gothic thriller by low budget thriller master William Castle. It’s actually a pretty competently made film with a ridiculous premise: the Baron Sardonicus was shocked by a ghastly horror as a young man, so that his face is locked in a permanent horrible rictus grin (the medical term for which is risus sardonicus), so that he wears a white mask of calm over his disfigured face at all times. He enlists a young doctor to try to find a cure, under threat of pain upon the doctor’s lost love, who is conveniently the wife of Sardonicus now. Things get complicated, the words “no, not the leeches” are screamed by a girl tied to a chair and we see the patience of the baron’s disfigured manservant tested to the breaking point. The best and wildest part of the whole tawdry affair is the gimmick at the end, because all William Castle films had to have a gimmick: towards the end, Castle stops the film and explains to the audience that there will now be a “Punishment Poll” to determine whether the baron gets away with his crimes or not at the end. He instructs the audience to hold up the voting cards from the theater lobby with a thumb printed on them, turning them either thumbs-up or thumbs-down, and pretends to count the audience’s votes from the screen! Having “tallied up the votes”, he proceeds to show the ending where Sardonicus is punished at the end for his misdeeds, which of course was the only ending that was filmed. Genius.
Bad Movie Night 20: The Shaft (2001) and Superbug Rides Again (1973)
The Shaft is a ridiculous big-budget thriller about a haunted New York skyscraper with a particular affinity for killing people using its elevators in very creative ways. Somehow some experimental bio-computer chips made by an evil scientist got installed in the building, and perky reporter Naomi Watts is determined to dig up the story with help from a drunken elevator maintenance guy she totally isn’t into at first. Ron Perlman has a good cameo here (making his first of two Bad Movie Night appearances, the second being Sleepwalkers in BMN 27) before things get totally out of hand with US Army anti-terrorist forces and air support called in to shut down the deadly skyscraper! By a massively unfortunate coincidence, this film was set to be released a few days after the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01, which caused the release to be cancelled and the film unseen until much later on DVD. From IMDB: Although entirely coincidental, the film makes several references to terrorism in NYC, getting as specific as mentioning plane hijackings and Osama Bin Laden destroying the World Trade Center.
Superbug Rides Again is a farcical Italian ripoff of Disney’s much beloved Herbie films combined with a zany cross-country race plot. But instead of just magically being sort of alive like Herbie, this car, a bright yellow VW Beetle called Du-Du (what?) is packed with computers and high-tech gadgets by the cool Italian cowboy guy who’s like a cross between fake Burt Reynolds and Crocodile Dundee, joined by a downtrodden mechanic and blonde reporter. There are lots of sleazy criminals, derring-do and clever gadget gags without very much actually happening! In fact when I showed this one the audience nearly revolted, begging me to hit the fast forward button. But we made it through!!
Bad Movie Night 19: Stanley (1972) and Equinox (1970)
Okay, this one wins the prize for worst poster, I get it. I was in a hurry and up for something different. Stanley tells the tale of a very dumb young Seminole man in the swamps of Florida who uses rattlesnakes, which understandably are his only friends, to take vengeance on all those who bully or disappoint him. Kind of a knockoff of Willard from the previous year, but using snakes instead of rats. “Stanley” is the name of his favorite snake; the guy’s name is Tim! The funniest scene is where he has Thanksgiving dinner at the table with his rattlesnakes.
Of these two films, Equinox is much more interesting, as it’s co-directed by then-student Dennis Muren, who went on to do special effects for a little film called Star Wars. It also shares several plot points with The Evil Dead, including a cabin in the woods where a tape recording of an archaeologist reading from the Necronomicon (probably a different one) sets free evil spirits that can possess people. It’s poorly acted and directed but does feature some interesting special effects and stop-motion creatures including a blue giant. This is also the film debut of Frank Bonner, who played Herb Tarlick on WKRP in Cincinnati. All of the sound and dialog were dubbed in after shooting, and the entrance to the cave in the film is the much-used real cave in Bronson Canyon near Los Angeles, which has been used in dozens of films.
Bad Movie Night 18: The Sequels Show! Featuring The Return of Dr. X (1939) and Son of Kong (1933)
The Return of Dr. X is a pretty straightforward old mad scientist movie, until we meet the mad scientist’s assistant, a young Humphrey Bogart, complete with a dramatic wavy stripe of white over the top of his hairpiece! Skunky Bogart, in shiny pale makeup, long rubber gloves, undertaker spectacles, a high collared lab coat and cradling a white rabbit with one arm. Perfectly normal right? It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to suppose that this look might have informed the appearance of Dr. Frankenfurter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Then there are a few mysterious murders and something about synthetic blood, and some yelling and crime, and all the bad guys die I think. It’s a pretty ho-hum movie except for the fun of seeing Bogie in such a ridiculous part.
Son of Kong is a prime example of a studio cranking out a quick sequel to capitalize on the success of the first film, actually being released just over six months after the effects-heavy original classic King Kong, and on half the budget. Ouch, it shows. This sequel uses some unused footage and completed stop-motion creature work that was dropped from the first film, and the only characters to return from the original are the promoter Carl Denham, the captain of the ship from the first film, and the Chinese cook who at least gets more lines in this movie. Kong Jr. is a smaller giant ape and all white, quickly remade from an old Kong armature. Once Junior shows up, the whole rest of the film is on jungle sets— no expensive tearing up the city this time! Then there’s a volcano, and the movie ends. The best thing to come out of this movie was the career of Ray Harryhausen, who served as the animator’s assistant and went on to create some of the greatest stop-motion films ever made, including 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, and Clash of the Titans.
Bad Movie Night 17: Tarkan vs. the Vikings (1971) and Sin In the Suburbs (1964)
Tarkan vs. the Vikings is a Turkish action movie (in Turkish with subtitles) following manly hero Tarkan the Hun Turk and his two wolves that look just like German shepherds as they defend their homeland from evil Viking raiders, who kill Kurt, one of Tarkan’s wolves, and sail away to Viking-land which looks just like Turkey. Tarkan and his remaining wolf (also named Kurt, the son of the wolf that was killed) follow to seek revenge. These Vikings are so evil they kill their own king via giant rubber sacrificial Viking octopus, just like in all the history books (this thing attacks four separate times in the movie) to set up a new, more evil Viking King Tora who looks like a blond Cheech Marin. The Vikings are all dressed in bright-colored fake furs that look like bath mats from Target, as Tora plots with a sexy Chinese princess to kill the returning all-female crew of Vikings led by Ursula. Tarkan attacks, gets caught, escapes, Ursula gets thrown to the Octopus (twice), Chinese blow-dart assassins kill vikings and Tarkan kills them, Kurt attacks the giant octopus, the evil princess falls into an unimpressive pit of small snakes, Tarkan and Kurt get revenge on Tora who killed Kurt senior, and Tarkan falls in love with Ursula, despite his blood oath to kill all Vikings earlier. I never knew Norway looked so much like Turkey!
Sin In the Suburbs is a weird black and white film by exploitation master Russ Meyer, director of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! that I saw in a local bar with the sound off one night. A bunch of sly looking 60’s swingers would be hanging out drinking one moment and wearing weird Eyes Wide Shut sort of masks the next, with bits of nudity here and there. I saw it on DVD years later and it’s a very trashy but tame film about bored suburbanites having kinky Tupperware parties, and it’s all swell until the girl in the mask turns out to be, oh my god— HER? *GASP!* And the moral of the story is, don’t let your life resemble a Russ Meyer movie!
Bad Movie Night 16: Laserblast (1978) and The Manster (1959)
Bad Movie Night 15: Christmas with Godzilla 2! Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) and Godzilla 2000: Millenium (1999)
Bad Movie Night 14: Lil’Abner (1940) and Forbidden Zone (1980)
Bad Movie Night 13: Crippled Masters 2— Two Crippled Heroes (1980) and Zardoz (1974)
Bad Movie Night 12: Frogs (1972) and Embryo (1976)
Bad Movie Night 11: Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) and Bitch Slap (2009)
Bad Movie Night 10: Monsters of Rock theme! Alice Cooper in Monster Dog (1984) and Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978)
Bad Movie Night 9: Gymkata (1985) and Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)
Bad Movie Night 8: I Passed For White (1960) and The Teacher (1974)
Bad Movie Night 7: Godzilla vs. King Ghidora (1991) and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
The second themed show had two classic Godzilla movies for fun holiday times! Godzilla vs. King Ghidora (1991) has the usual meddling aliens, the giant 3-headed dragon King Ghidora, and a truly insane time-travel plot, and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) the last of the classic Japanese Godzilla film series where the big guy must fight almost every monster he’s ever faced, plus some laughable Matrix-like martial arts subplots and more aliens posing as friends. Never trust an alien in a Godzilla movie!!
The artwork at left is the original watercolor painting that I turned in to a BMN movie poster by painting a separate illustration of Santa Claus, which I Photoshopped in for the poster. I used the same art for BMN 15, Christmas With Godzilla 2, seen elsewhere on this page. Somehow I can’t find the original poster art right now, so here is the original painting with no text on it and a woman instead of Santa.
Bad Movie Night 6: The Room (2003) and Star Knight (1985)
Bad Movie Night 5: Class of 1984 (1982) and Ricky-Oh: the Story of Ricky (1991)
The first themed show had two great revenge movies!
Class of 1984 is about an urban high school beset by criminal gangs in the school, and one heroic teacher’s struggle to keep his job and sanity, with mixed results. Features Roddy McDowall’s first BMN appearance!
Ricky-Oh: the Story of Ricky is a crazy over-the-top kung fu movie about superhuman Ricky’s battles for life in a brutal private prison run by an evil warlord with a metal hand who can turn into a monster! Features lots of ridiculous violence and simulated gore effects, including the exploding head clip often seen on The Daily Show.
Bad Movie Night 4: Strip Nude For Your Killer (1975) and Big Top Pee-Wee (1988)
Bad Movie Night 2: Star Crash (1984) and The Mansion of Madness (1973)
Bad Movie Night 2: Streets of Fire (1984) and Zardoz (1974)
Bad Movie Night 1: Xanadu (1980) and Spice World (1997)