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LawrenceA

Recently Watched Cult/Exploitation/Grindhouse/Etc.

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Damaged Lives (1933) - Early entry in the VD health scare sub-genre of "adults only" educational films, produced by Harry Cohn's brother Nat at Columbia Pictures but released under the Weldon Pictures banner to provide some distance for the parent company. Workaholic Don Bradley Jr. (Lyman Williams) agrees to go to a nightclub dinner party where he meets bottle-blonde Elise (Charlotte Merriam). The two have a wild night of drinking and end up in the sack. Don feels guilty since he's engaged to marry nice girl Joan (Diane Sinclair), and the two decide to elope. Imagine Don's embarrassment when Elise contacts him some time later to inform him that she's tested positive for syphilis. Don hides his secret shame, but has he already passed it on to dear sweet Joan? Also featuring Jason Robards Sr., Marceline Day, Murray Kinnell, and George Irving.

This has all of the hallmarks of later films of the type: nice people brought to near ruin after a night's careless debauchery; a positive outlook after mostly doom and gloom; and a protracted sequence showing real cases of advanced venereal disease patients in all of their grotesque horror. The copy I watched ran a scant 53 minutes, but IMDb lists it as having a 64 minute run time, and another source lists 74 minutes, so most likely it depends on how much of the really graphic footage was cut from each print. This was produced in conjunction with the Canadian Social Health Council, and marked the ignominious American directing debut of Edgar G. Ulmer. He manages to add a couple of interesting visual touches that raise this above the crowd, but just barely.  (5/10)

Source: YouTube, a truly awful copy that straddles the line of unwatchability. Those interested in seeing this would do well to look elsewhere, as there appears to be a copy available from Something Weird video that is most likely in better condition.

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WolfCop (2014) - Low budget Canadian horror comedy from writer-director Lowell Dean. Small-town sheriff's deputy Lou Garou (Leo Fafard) is a drunk and a loser, but after he gets kidnapped and subjected to an occult ritual by a band of masked cultists, he finds himself transforming into a super-strong werewolf. He uses his new-found beast power to fight crime, but the cultists aren't done with him yet. Also featuring Amy Matysio, Sarah Lind, Corinne Conley, Jesse Moss, Aidan Devine, and Jonathan Cherry.

A sort-of parody of high-concept 80's cop movies, this doesn't quite have the resources or the script to go as far as it needed to work. Not enough time is spent with the uniformed werewolf on patrol, instead devoting too much time to secondary characters and the cult's ulterior motives. At times it seems the movie starts to take itself too seriously, but then they devote a lengthy scene to the werewolf using an auto body shop to customize his police car with big metal "W" emblems and other such silliness. The cast of mostly unknowns is good, and despite its deficiencies this is better than most of the movies of similar budget level. A sequel, Another WolfCop, was released earlier this year.  (5/10)

Source: Image DVD.

WolfCop.jpg

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On 11/15/2017 at 2:36 PM, LawrenceA said:

WolfCop (2014) - Low budget Canadian horror comedy from writer-director Lowell Dean. Small-town sheriff's deputy Lou Garou (Leo Fafard) is a drunk and a loser, but after he gets kidnapped and subjected to an occult ritual by a band of masked cultists, he finds himself transforming into a super-strong werewolf. He uses his new-found beast power to fight crime, but the cultists aren't done with him yet. Also featuring Amy Matysio, Sarah Lind, Corinne Conley, Jesse Moss, Aidan Devine, and Jonathan Cherry.

A sort-of parody of high-concept 80's cop movies, this doesn't quite have the resources or the script to go as far as it needed to work. Not enough time is spent with the uniformed werewolf on patrol, instead devoting too much time to secondary characters and the cult's ulterior motives. At times it seems the movie starts to take itself too seriously, but then they devote a lengthy scene to the werewolf using an auto body shop to customize his police car with big metal "W" emblems and other such silliness. The cast of mostly unknowns is good, and despite its deficiencies this is better than most of the movies of similar budget level. A sequel, Another WolfCop, was released earlier this year.  (5/10)

Source: Image DVD.

WolfCop.jpg

Love the poster!

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Maniac (1934) - aka Sex Maniac, Bargain-basement psycho-thriller from "Father of Exploitation" Dwain Esper. Bill Woods stars as Don Maxwell, a former actor with a gift for disguises who has fallen on hard times and now lives with and works for mad scientist Dr. Meirschultz (Horace B. Carpenter). The two are experimenting on dead bodies in an attempt to resurrect the dead. After bringing one young lady back to life, Don and the Doctor get into a fight and Doc is killed, so Don naturally uses his skill at impersonations to take the Doctor's place. This can only lead to more heartache as Don lacks any actual medical credentials or scientific knowledge. There's also a guy who thinks he's an orangutan, a room full of women in underwear dancing and exercising, a semi-nude model, and a bunch of cats. Also featuring Ted Edwards, Phyllis (Not That One) Diller, Thea Ramsey, Jenny Dark, Marvelle Andre, Celia McCann, John P. Wade, and Marion Blackton. 

Where to start with this magnificent wonder: Woods gives a performance so overwrought and ridiculous that even other characters call him a ham. And he's not even the worst in the film! That honor goes to Edwards as the mental patient who thinks that he's the killer orangutan from Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue. Just watch this Oscar-worthy scene:

This movie had to have been mind-blowing back in 1934, with it's quick flashes of female nudity, and one disturbing scene where Don wrestles with a housecat before seemingly squeezing one of its eyeballs out (The cat was supposedly unharmed)! The ludicrous scene of Don's wife and her three friends lounging around her apartment in their underwear is another high/low point. One peculiar film technique used is having the action pause occasionally to show written descriptions of various mental illnesses, most of which are highly inaccurate and have little to do with what's onscreen before or after they appear. Whenever Don has one of his freak-outs, scenes from Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages and Fritz Lang's Siegfried are superimposed. 

Esper's wife Hildegarde Stadie wrote most of his films, including this one (although she lifts plot points from Edgar Allen Poe), and she has a way with dialogue. Take this exchange between a nosy neighbor of the doctor's and an investigating police detective:

Detective: "Do you know Doctor Meirschultz and his assistant, Don Maxwell?"

Neighbor: "Sure. They're rather queer, I'd say. There's lots of queer goings-on down there. Why, they even brought a dead dog back to life once."

Detective: "That sounds really remarkable to me!"

Neighbor: "It may be, but to my notion those that monkeys with what they got no business to, get queer sooner or later!"

This remains one of my top ten all-time favorite bad movies, and I can't recommend it enough for fans of the truly stupid and deranged. Normal rating: 2/10. So-bad-its-good rating: 9/10

Source: Alpha Video DVD. The quality is rather poor, but maybe it should be. There's a version out from Kino that most likely looks better.

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Reefer Madness (1936) - Justly ridiculed drug scare film from producer George Hirliman and director Louis Gasnier. Watch as today's vulnerable youth are corrupted by amoral pot-junkies, crazed on the demon weed and committing heinous acts of hit-and-run, rape, jazz dancing, and even murder. Featuring the talents of Dorothy Short, Kenneth Craig, Lillian Miles, Dave O'Brien, Thelma White, Carleton Young, Warren McCollum, Patricia Royale, Joseph Forte, and Harry Harvey Jr.

A lot has been written about this turkey over the years, generally considered one of the top 5 worst films ever made. I don't have much to add that hasn't been said, even recently on here in another thread. The film is amateurishly filmed, poorly acted, and filled with ludicrous hyperbole and exaggeration. But it's also hilarious, ironically fast-paced, and presented with a sincerity that's necessary for true bad-movie immortality. 

This was originally produced by George Hirliman in conjunction with a church group looking to scare parishioners away from marijuana.  Exploitation maverick Dwain Esper bought the film in 1938 and started showing it around the country under various titles, including the original Tell Your ChildrenDope AddictThe Burning Question, and finally Reefer Madness. Another producer bought a print in the 1950's and toured the movie yet again as a roadshow attraction. The movie's cult status started after showing on college campuses after a print was discovered by some looking through the Library of Congress film stocks. Robert Shaye, founder of New Line Cinema, bought a print and also showed it around the country as a midnight movie, turning a tidy profit that kept the company afloat. Lack of a copyright has kept this in the public domain, and countless poor quality releases can be found on just about every format.   (4/10 standard rating, 8/10 so-bad-so-good rating)

Source: Mill Creek DVD, part of Taboo Tales set.

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Assassin of Youth (1938?) aka Marihuana aka The Marijuana Menace - Another cheap anti-drug flick, from director Elmer Clifton. After a rich old granny is killed by a teenager "whacked out on the devil's weed", she leaves a will that gives her fortune to her granddaughter as long as the girl is living "a just and moral life". The young woman, Joan (Luana Walters), starts running with a fast crowd that indulges in "crazed reefer parties" where they smoke joints and then dance and/or lay on the floor and flail around. An intrepid big-city reporter (Arthur Gardner) goes undercover at the local malt shop in order to find the people behind the insidious pot ring. Also featuring Dorothy Short, Earl Dwire, Fern Emmett, Henry Roquemore, Fay McKenzie, Michael Owen, and Dorothy Vaughan.

This is as dumb and full of hysteria as the more famous Reefer Madness, but it doesn't reach the same hilarious heights of absurdity. Dorothy Short, who also appeared in that earlier film, plays another unfortunate young woman who "suffers an acute psychotic break due to marijuana use". Emmett, who reminded me of Margaret Hamilton, plays a town gossip who rides around on a motor scooter, an odd sight in the late 1930's. Speaking of years, I've seen several release dates for this movie, and IMDb has changed the release year three times, from 1936 to 1937 to the current 1938. (4/10) or (7/10 on the so-bad-its-good scale)

Source: Mill Creek DVD, part of the Taboo Tales set.

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On 1/14/2018 at 12:56 PM, LawrenceA said:

Assassin of Youth (1938?) aka Marihuana aka The Marijuana Menace -

This film earned a "C" (for "condemned") by the National League of Decency. After reading your description, there were probably a lot of other reasons to condemn it.

Monogram Pictures promoted the film at their Philadelphia office by putting up a marijuana display in their window. So they wouldn't get raided, they included a sign which read "Loaned by Pennsylvania Division, Narcotic Drug Control."

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On 1/1/2018 at 8:50 PM, LawrenceA said:

Reefer Madness (1936) - Justly ridiculed drug scare film from producer George Hirliman and director Louis Gasnier. Watch as today's vulnerable youth are corrupted by amoral pot-junkies, crazed on the demon weed and committing heinous acts of hit-and-run, rape, jazz dancing, and even murder. Featuring the talents of Dorothy Short, Kenneth Craig, Lillian Miles, Dave O'Brien, Thelma White, Carleton Young, Warren McCollum, Patricia Royale, Joseph Forte, and Harry Harvey Jr.

A lot has been written about this turkey over the years, generally considered one of the top 5 worst films ever made. I don't have much to add that hasn't been said, even recently on here in another thread. The film is amateurishly filmed, poorly acted, and filled with ludicrous hyperbole and exaggeration. But it's also hilarious, ironically fast-paced, and presented with a sincerity that's necessary for true bad-movie immortality. 

This was originally produced by George Hirliman in conjunction with a church group looking to scare parishioners away from marijuana.  Exploitation maverick Dwain Esper bought the film in 1938 and started showing it around the country under various titles, including the original Tell Your ChildrenDope AddictThe Burning Question, and finally Reefer Madness. Another producer bought a print in the 1950's and toured the movie yet again as a roadshow attraction. The movie's cult status started after showing on college campuses after a print was discovered by some looking through the Library of Congress film stocks. Robert Shaye, founder of New Line Cinema, bought a print and also showed it around the country as a midnight movie, turning a tidy profit that kept the company afloat. Lack of a copyright has kept this in the public domain, and countless poor quality releases can be found on just about every format.   (4/10 standard rating, 8/10 so-bad-so-good rating)

Source: Mill Creek DVD, part of Taboo Tales set.

Reefer-Madness.jpeg?w=640

This is a true bad movie classic my favorite scene is when the woman jumps out the window

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