Suggested Audio Candy
 Steve Parsons & Babel “Howling Theme (Club Mix)”
 Ice-T “The Hunted Child”
It recently occurred to me, during my one of my bi-daily epiphanies, that I spend rather a large proportion of my time sucking dick, metaphorically speaking. I do this, not because a little semen is good for the skin, but because I wish to share my most treasured experiences with you fine people. For the most part, my appraisals are positive and any criticism constructive, as there are just so many films out there vying for our attention at any given time and it only seems fair to nudge you the right way. However, directly opposing is the asshole thus, for this exercise I have decided to flip it around and catch a heady whiff of the diabolical.
The movies I’m about to unleash are not, by any stretch of the imagination, the crème de la crème and, instead, curdled the very day they were first excreted. Regardless of the fact that diarrhea makes your sphincter sting, I am prepared to take this one for the team and there ends any sexual innuendo for the time being. Fret not as my mind will be constantly gutter-bound as I scrape these foul messes from within the grooves of my size nine boot so the likeliness is that I’ll be making scrotum comparisons in no time. However, not before making you aware of a number of bottom feeders which may well have sailed past you until now.
“They’re eating her… and then they’re going to eat me… OH MY GOOOOD!”
Where better place to start than with a sequel sandwich comprising Claudio Fragasso’s Troll 2 and Phillipe Mora’s The Howling II: Your Sista is a Werewolf, two shameful examples of movies whose reputations precede them for all the wrong reasons. Starting with the former, a film so appalling I considered voluntary euthanasia by around the fifteen-minute mark, Troll 2 has enjoyed something of a turnaround in fortunes in recent times and is now regarded by many as a pleasure of the guiltiest order. Suckage need not be the damning indictment it once was once sufficient time passes and there’s admittedly a certain untraceable charm to Fragasso’s travesty.
“For it is written: the inhabitants of the Earth have been made drunk with her blood. And I saw her sent upon a hairy beast and she held forth a golden chalice full of the filthiness of fornications. And upon her forehead was written: “Behold I am the great mother of harlots and all abominations of the Earth”
Likewise with Mora’s seemingly indefensible follow-up to Joe Dante’s The Howling. Even the presence of the almighty Christopher Lee couldn’t save this from the doldrums and there it has remained ever since. The word cataclysm springs to mind but it is here that I am required to come clean. I’m kind of fond of the word cataclysm. It’s just as pathetic, contrived, offensively bland, poorly realized and flat-out dire as it ever was. But therein lays the beauty in this beast. The Howling II: Your Sista is a Werewolf is not the film to watch alone and far better enjoyed with some quick-witted friends and a skinful of alcohol. It numbs the pain you see and suddenly it’s more than bearable. Don’t even get me started on Mora’s next entry, The Howling III: The Marsupials. It takes some doing to trump himself but, 94 minutes later, any indiscretions of two-years prior seem like child’s play.
“The lamp is old, real old, so from an archeological standpoint it still has a lot of value”
Back in my beloved eighties, cover art could mean the difference between bankable rental and shelved indefinitely. VHS was booming and recession done with looming momentarily, thus straight-to-video need not have been the bullet in a crippled nag’s skullcap. Tom Daley’s The Lamp aka The Outing had one of numerous tantalizing designs which encouraged I take leave of my senses and blow my pocket-money in one fell swoop. As far as marketing is concerned, and this was the decade for misleading advertisements after all, it did more than enough to validate me giving its lamp a gentle rub. I was promptly given three wishes and squandered them accordingly. Firstly, I wished for the last eighty minutes of my life back. Then, I wished for lobotomy to erase its slight from my vaults. Finally, I wished for another look at that wondrous embossed cover image once again. Suddenly all was forgiven; proving categorically that the Prince of Persia really ought to watch his step.
“You’re suggesting your patient is possessed? By whom?”
Guy Magar’s Retribution from 1987 had a similar effect thanks to convincing sleeve design. In it, an artist suffering from manic depression attempts suicide and is thwarted as he unwittingly becomes possessed my a villainous gangster and sets off on the vengeance trail. In one of the most blatant rip-offs of The Exorcist ever committed, he is a dead ringer for father Karras while his intentions are far less than pure and his eyes glow in a manner which only eighties eyes could ever radiate. On the plus side, the grue offers mild diversion from the banality, particularly when George commands his quarry to take up residence inside the cadaver of a slaughtered boar and waves him off to meet the buzz saw.
You’ll be paralyzed with fear as it kills and mutilates anyone in its path
Fabrice A. Zaphiratos’ Blood Beat is similarly brow-beaten but this one has oodles of low-rent charm to save it from obscurity. Another possession, but this time it’s an ancient Samurai looking to control his host. It’s every bit as preposterous as Ulli Lommel’s The Boogeyman and mildly similar in tone but, should you choose to overlook the fact that it is in no way to be considered a good film, there’s a great degree of fun to be had with the wonderfully dated visual effects and evocative eighties styling.
They did not listen to the warnings before digging up the grounds of the dead
Some movies are doomed to be ignored from the offset and Fred Olen Ray’s Scalps is one such victim of oversight. The director would later become known for bargain basement fodder such as Biohazard, Deep Space, and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and now has approaching 150 films under his belt but I believe it to be here that he found his crowning scalp. So what is it doing on a list packed to its gills with duds and false-starters? Because, no matter how crudely shot, padded out, and often cringe-worthy as Scalps may be, it’s also effortlessly atmospheric and, moreover, vicious in the extreme. I hope you’re taking notes Grueheads, I’m expecting at least one of these stinkers to populate your screens in the foreseeable; you can call it homework if it suits. This wouldn’t be a bad place to start. I’m just saying.
“The dog swallowed a ball. You were walking the dog, on a leash, and some total jerk threw the ball to the dog, and he accidentally swallowed it. All we have to do is push the ball down the dog’s throat. They’ll never know the difference”
Robert Scott’s The Video Dead and Joseph Mangine’s Neon Maniacs both used visual stimuli as a means of drawing me in and they did so with hook, line, and sinker. Zombies were all the rage so it made perfect sense that they could exist within our television sets. Think of the possibility for scathing social commentary that Scott would have at his disposal. Once he played his hand, in my boudoir with curtains drawn and eyes bulging with expectation, it was revealed that he had been holding a pair of twos all along. So I cheered myself up by renting another sure thing, Neon Maniacs, and learned my lesson twice in the very same day. It didn’t stop me from committing further cardinal sins and part of me kind of buzzed from it if I’m honest.
“You ain’t got the authority to declare happy birthday!”
If Shaun Hutson harbored any concerns over allowing his work to be massaged onto the silver screen then Juan Piquer Simón’s Slugs likely convinced him otherwise. However, Keeper has a thing for slugs after eighteen months of befriending the slimy little gastropods on a regular basis. As ridiculous in the extreme as it may be, it could never be accused of being sluggish ironically enough, and there is plentiful enjoyment to be gleaned from watching one of the world’s most lethargic creatures open a collective can of whoop on an entire rural community. Keeper’s personal highlight would have to be watching a young buck in the prime of his life being soundly bettered by his mollusc persecutors as his significant other has her eyeballs sucked from their sockets. When you consider that Simón birthed the marvelously schlock-filled Pieces unto the world, it’s a no-brainer that grue will invariably save the day.
“What’s up, ninjas?”
I’m not convinced that any Z-list would be complete without at least one mention of Leprechaun. In fairness, Steven Ayromlooi’s Leprechaun: Back 2 Da Hood is easily transferable with any number of other entries into the long-running franchise but my decision to include it is based on the fact that, while I accept that after conquering outer space the little fella would fancy himself a little downtime in the ghetto, the inconvenient truth is that they actually invited him back. Even legendary rapper Ice-T, whose New Jack City exploits were now becoming little more than distant memory, knew better than to share a bong with him a second time. Consequently the pint-sized Warwick Davis found a fat gold chain at the end of his rainbow when a thousand of Radio Raheem’s flexed knuckles would have been preferable.
“It seemed like a mineral! Then it suddenly came alive! Poor Jill!”
Italians Ciro Ippolito and an uncredited Biagio Proietti were nothing if not opportunistic and in 1980, when they unleashed Alien 2: On Earth on an unsuspecting audience, they audaciously set out to follow-up Ridley Scott’s masterpiece on a shoe-string budget. Actually, the links are somewhat tenuous but you can’t knock their ambition. Despite the fact that it never quite manages to replicate the original in terms of quality, it’s well worth checking out for some gloriously schlocky kills and hilarious dubbing if nothing else. However, I’m still not expecting it to include in any subsequent Alien boxsets. This was bundled together in a double bill with Umberto Lenzi’s equally destitute Nightmare City and that best describes the overall experience. Needless to say, I have a soft spot for both movies. Eventually even the toughest skin softens. That’s what your late-thirties are for.
“Only the God damndest, ugliest barber I’ve ever seen”
David Irving squandered potentially the most wondrous abbreviated film title ever conceived with the risible C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud. There were no cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers to be seen and in their place was Gerrit Graham. Having previously watched and enjoyed the hell out of National Lampoon’s Class Reunion, Terror Vision, and a film that has absolutely no place in the vicinity of a list such as this, Demon Seed, I was vaguely excitable about the prospect of spending 84 seemingly harmless minutes hanging out with Bud. Word to the wise Grueheads, he’s an asshole. His bulging eyes informed me of their no refund policy and I’ve never revisited either C.H.U.D. films, the first of which wasn’t half bad, on that basis alone. Call it sour grapes but I prefer the moniker The Punishment of Bud.
“If you weren’t immortal, you’d kill yourself”
I think I have one more in me you know; a final hurrah for the first of what I would imagine to be many Z-Lists. Bad movies, as it transpires, aren’t that hard to locate and it’s rather a lot of gleeful fun scraping the bottom of the barrel with my beloved Grueheads. It seems almost fitting that I finish on a high; a movie so bad that it’s something rather special. Beating Greydon Clark’s Wacko and Chris Bearde’s Hysterical by a gnat’s pubic hair breadth, Howard R. Cohen’s reviled horror spoof Saturday The 14th is the ideal choice for closing turd truffle. Despite the fact that it chooses to lampoon, a vast percentage of the gags fall flat like a busty meerkat.
So why such overall praise? It challenges you not to laugh at least once, packs the belfry with ample vampiric bats, then leaves you in the company of Richard Benjamin and Jeffrey Tambor and awaits that inevitable first guffaw. There’s a lot to be said for a film under no illusion that it is simply atrocious. I take comfort in such a self-effacing approach and there is plenty to love about Saturday The 14th. Such instances are isolated however, so when Cohen returned in 1988 with Saturday The 14th Strikes Back, the joke had worn thin and I was just about done with any charitable contributions.
There’s a lot to be said for watching bad movies at infrequent intervals. Because of them, the likes of In Bruges and Into The Wild shine that much more brightly and sometimes it’s refreshing to adopt an only way is up methodology for a change. Film is diverse to an almost boundless degree and I’m sure that every last one of you have your own Z-lists to surreptitiously cherish. I feel as though I have barely skimmed the pimple on this occasion and I will leave you to squeeze your own pustules while I arm my Z-list naff cannon a second time. Prepare to be appalled, to be sickened to the very pits of your stomach lining, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a tasty morsel or two within the upchuck.
The Diabolical Collection
The Howling 2: Your Sista is a Werewolf
The Video Dead
Leprechaun: Back 2 Da Hood
Alien 2: On Earth
C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud
Saturday The 14th
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2015