Youtube Film Club: Graduation Day (1981)

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While the ISCFC has covered many of the big slasher series, there’s some gaps for classics and one-offs. Dear reader, we know you’re sat there, paralysed, wondering “which old horror movie should I watch? The ISCFC won’t tell me!” so consider this a public service.

“Graduation Day” is from the first wave of slashers, riding high on “Friday 13th”, “Prom Night” and “Halloween” money. It’s got a good ol’ simple plot too – Laura is the star of the track team, but collapses after over-exerting herself in a 200 metre race and dies, apparently due to a blood clot on her brain.

 

Just so’s you know this is Troma country we’re in, the movie tests if you’re paying attention quite early on. Laura’s older sister is Anne (Patch McKenzie) and she’s in the Navy, and she comes back several weeks later for the graduation ceremony. Why not the funeral? She said she was stationed in Guam which is, admittedly, most of the way across the Pacific, but I’m sure the military would let you go home for your own sister’s funeral, right? After being unapologetically mauled by a guy giving her a lift, she turns up in town and the red herrings start. She establishes a little connection to Laura’s boyfriend Kevin (E. Danny Murphy, who looks old enough to have a kid in high school), although it seems fairly obvious to our 2016 eyes that Anne is a lesbian.

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We may be the only Linda Shayne fan site in the world. She was in “Screwballs” as the excellently named Bootsie Goodhead, and was also the credited co-writer on that movie – she worked a lot with Jim Wynorski in the early 80s. She later moved into directing but her career faltered in the early 2000s (she directed a teenage Neil Patrick Harris in her last movie, who says how much he hated her, so maybe she wasn’t that nice a person). Anyway, she’s the first member of the track team to get theirs, a few minutes after Anne arrives in town, and has such a small role that she’s uncredited. Sorry Linda!

 

The movie progresses in classic slasher movie fashion. There’s a picture of the track team which is gradually getting all the faces Xed out as they die. There’s red herrings aplenty, like the Xs being done in lipstick, yet when we see the killer’s bare arm, it’s thick and hairy and clearly a man’s. There’s the (clearly gay) music teacher who has sex with one of the female students for a passing grade. There’s the biggest one of all, the track teacher who’s almost psychotically angry. There’s the way that several people have the same grey tracksuit and stopwatch that the killer is seen holding. There’s the way that every single person at the school is absolute scum. The usual.

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This is all very standard, if we’re being honest, but “Graduation Day” emerges from the pack by keeping a decent pace up; sticking to the “shock, scare or kill every seven or eight minutes” mantra; and having a strong cast. “That Guy” par excellence Michael Pataki is the Principal, there are no really bad weak links in the rest of the cast, and there’s a couple of future “stars” in very tiny roles. Linnea Quigley, who’d go on through the late 80s and 90s to be the premier B-movie scream queen, is the girl who takes her top off to get an A, and was in fact hired because the movie’s first choice (who you can see in the opening shots wearing a no. 46 jersey) refused to take her clothes off for the role. Ah, never change, low-budget scumbag movie producers! Then there’s Vanna White (“Looker”) as one of the background girls. She would soon go on to huge fame as a host on US game show “Wheel Of Fortune”, which she still does to this day, and this represents one of the very few acting appearances where she’s not just playing herself.

 

It’s not all fun and games, though! The killer holds a stopwatch which he stops at 30 seconds, because that’s all the time it took Laura to die. Now, one of the kills takes way longer than that, like 2 or 3 minutes, but still that stopwatch gets stopped at 30 seconds because reasons. Come on, movie! Then there’s the rollerskating pre-graduation party. Very slightly successful new-wave-ish band Felony are playing one of their songs, and kids are skating round while Linnea Quigley and her boyfriend appear to walk several miles into the nearby forest to have some sex and get murdered (seriously, she runs back to the party for ages and still doesn’t make it). This song goes on, according to someone who timed it, over seven minutes, and if you haven’t reached for the fast-forward button long before then, you’re a better man than I.

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The bit of the slasher film template I don’t care for is how long it takes someone who’s still alive to find a dead body and for the authorities to be alerted. In a 96 minute movie, the first body isn’t found til 73:00, and with the last five minutes being a nightmarish coda, there’s really not a lot of time for the inevitable Final Girl shenanigans. Talking of which, Anne is a trained combatant, and the best she can manage is to just about almost hold her own against the killer, rather than – I don’t know – kill him immediately? I was a bit unsure if she was even going to be the final girl, because she flat-out disappears for the entirety of act 2, pretty much.

 

The ending is great when you think the killer is going to get away with it scot-free, but then goes a bit OTT when Anne discovers the real killer’s identity and what he has in his attic. The real horror, though, is Anne and Laura’s mother and step-father. He’s an angry, miserable drunk who openly hates Anne, doesn’t care at all that Laura is dead, and only tolerates her in the house because he wants some of the insurance money which would normally go straight to Anne (not sure how that works out). The mother is constantly downplaying what a piece of garbage he is, and one can only imagine the sheer misery that goes on in that home when Laura leaves at the end. Sorry, that should be “Laura leaves, not waiting for the second funeral of her sister or to talk to the cops about the mass-murder that just happened”.

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It’s not terrible, by any stretch, even if it has some weird lulls. And, if you think about it, the reason for the killer doing killing makes no sense, if you go with the “blood clot” explanation. But, if you’re at all interested in the history of slasher films, then you definitely ought to put this on your viewing list (plus, it’s on Youtube, so it won’t cost you anything).

 

Rating: thumbs in the middle

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Redneck Zombies (1987)

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I really thought this was going to suck, after the newly-filmed opening. Lloyd Kaufman, Troma head honcho, does the “hilariously” named Kaufman’s Kultural Korner (KKK ohmygodmysides) and interviews director Pericles Lewnes. As far as I’m aware, Troma had nothing to do with the production of the movie at all, only picking it up for distribution after the fact – one can admire Troma’s dedication to independent cinema, while finding their business model a little…sleazy? Plus, several honourable examples aside (brand new “The Slashening”, for one, which is amazing) their quality control can be non-existent, as I’ll never be able to truly love the company that tried to fob “Surf Nazis Must Die” or “Rabid Grannies” on their own fans.

 

But wow, was I ever wrong about my initial guess on the quality of this. One of the earliest shot-on-video movies, while it’s very obviously not the highest-budget movie of all time, it’s inventive and funny and has a cast of almost complete non-actors who, rather than looking bored or nervous like so many other low/no budget epics, commit to their roles with great gusto. Plus, it’s got a title that’s fun, and delivers on its promise!

Argh he sucks

Argh he sucks

Saying that, the beginning is confusing. We get an info dump about a missing barrel of something so toxic it could kill everyone on earth, but then a bit later the barrel is seen being driven around by an army guy. Anyway. For some reason (perhaps the most used phrase in movie reviewing history), the army guy is driving down dirt tracks in redneck country, in a jeep, with this super-toxic barrel just sort of casually placed in the back. When it falls off the back of the jeep, it eventually finds its way into the hands of a group of rednecks, who decide to use the barrel as the heart of their moonshine still. They can’t read, obviously, so the warnings painted on the barrel mean nothing to them.

 

The rednecks aren’t your average bunch, as since they got satellite TV all the “boys” have got odd ideas. In fact, one of them now wishes to be known as Ellie Mae, which annoys the Dad but is completely fine to the numerous customers the family has for their moonshine. Isn’t it sweet, with understanding, welcoming rednecks? But I’m getting ahead of myself a little. The new moonshine turns everyone who drinks it into a zombie, and Ellie Mae delivers it to a lot of local families (including, memorably, a couple of cannibalistic serial killers, who have a living soon-to-be victim tied up in their lounge). The army guy finally gets back to base and is told to go back out and find the barrel: he takes a bored lunatic and the campest stereotype I’ve ever seen. In the era before even “don’t ask, don’t tell”, this is a bold directorial choice. And rounding out the cast is a group of hikers.

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Well, I think they’re hikers. IMDB lists them as sophisticated city slickers, but some of them are definitely students…they have someone with them who’s either a guide or used to live in this area (again, unclear) so off into the wilderness they go. Thanks to this group, we get some quite clever video effects – first, when the “guide” lights a joint which is so potent it knocks everyone out (accompanied by every multi-colour video effect the director could manage), and second when they’re trapped in a shack with a corpse, and one of the group decides then would be a good time to drop some acid. His five minute, definitely improvised, bit where he pulls entrails out and his acid-fried mind imagines the handfuls of guts to be shoes, cans of beer, and so on, is exhibit A in “why you shouldn’t let some guy who says he’s hilarious have free rein to prove it on camera without checking first”. Or “film enough, so if one of your bits is terrible, you can cut it”.

 

Lewnes really goes out of his way to offend and disgust, and does it with some style. One of the moonshine customers is watching what I suppose you’d describe as porn, but super-weird; and the serial killers are watching footage of animal cruelty to really get them in the mood. Plus, there’s a zombie baby! It takes a while to get going (no zombies til about 40 minutes in) but when it gets going it just doesn’t stop. Entrails everywhere, blood and gore soaking everyone and everything…it shows they made every penny of the apparent $10,000 budget go a long way. The zombie makeup is wonderfully bad, on purpose apparently, and shows Lewnes probably deserved better than going on to be special effects supervisor on a bunch of Troma’s in-house productions.

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Of course, there are a lot of bits where you’re scratching your head in puzzlement, which is probably why it’s not that fondly remembered, even by some Troma fans. The hikers seem intent on burying their friends, implying they’re a long way from civilization. But, you know, they only set out that morning! And the rednecks are able to drive into town fairly easily, so if I saw the bottom half of one of my friends in the woods, I’d probably run like hell to the nearest road and get some help. And if we’re talking things that put you off, the camper who takes the acid is so far over the top that it’s almost impossible to like him. And there’s the way the gay soldier runs into the middle of the redneck zombie horde, without realising their zombies, saying “you ever seen Deliverance?”, the implication being he wants them all to rape him. Oh dear.

 

So, you have to take the rough with the smooth. But it’s so wild, and tries so hard, that I think you’ll enjoy it. Or perhaps I’m so far down the rabbit hole of crap that I can’t see daylight any more. Either way, check it out!

 

Rating: thumbs up

Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988)

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This is perhaps the Troma-est movie ever released by a company other than Troma. Directed by David DeCoteau (some of the Puppet Masters, Full Moon regular), it was originally called “The Imp”, but was given what sounds like a very typical Troma title. But I need you to brace yourselves, sit down in a comfy chair, or otherwise prepare for momentous information.

The title actually makes sense! There are babes, they’re from a sorority, the majority of the movie takes place in a bowling alley and there are plenty of slimeballs! I was as surprised as you, I guarantee it. Full Moon, continuity-phobic as they are, at least make sure their titles sort of roughly describe the movie.

They also could never be accused of rushing the plot. There’s a leisurely first half hour, which involves a group of horny college-esque guys breaking into a sorority house to watch the initiation of two new pledges. There’s an extremely long spanking scene near the beginning, which could have been interesting (one of them discovers she’s into it, or really hates it) but it’s just…there. Anyway, for some reason they’re sent to the local bowling alley to steal a trophy, along with the boys, who were caught because their plan was stupid.

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One of the bowling trophies contains a magic gremlin of some sort, who claims to want to grant wishes, but actually is much more like the Wishmaster than he is a classic genie. He’s a bit of a jive-talking fellow, and almost immediately decides he wants to kill the group who’ve broken into the bowling alley, and locks up the building with his magic genie powers, setting the scene for some murdering and so on.

I’m making this sound better than it is. David DeCoteau, an out gay man, seems like he was trying to hide that fact here, as the boys stay fully clothed and the women disrobe almost constantly. There’s a shower scene in that tedious first half-hour where there’s full frontal female nudity for what feels like forever…it’s a movie of curious choices, none of them particularly interesting.

This film has a peculiarly high number of positive reviews, most of them mentioning Linnea Quigley. She’s known as one of the “scream queens” of the VHS b-movie era, and has the sort of devoted fanbase that indicates she spends a lot of time at conventions being nice to people; but the sheer quantity of folks who adore her and her co-stars Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer indicates that I’ve still not scratched the surface of this world. Or that they’re all very easily pleased, because I would struggle to tell the three of them apart from any three other random 80s horror actresses.

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Aside from the title, it does have a lot of that standard Full Moon feel to it. There’s plenty of humour (although it’s not particularly funny, you can at least tell they’re trying), lots of nudity, and a love of horror tropes (this movie seems to be a bit inspired by “The Monkey’s Paw”). It’s certainly got a lot of fans from its repeated broadcasts on USA Channel’s “Up All Night” strand of programming back in the 80s and 90s, people who love its cheesiness and poor quality effects – if you’re in a forgiving mood and really, really like softcore nudity, you’ll at least have an okay time with this one. But there’s so much better movies to choose from, even if you’re specifically in the mood for a cheesy 80s horror comedy – the also-Quigley-starring “Return of the Living Dead”, for one. But I think a lot of the fond memories tied to this movie come from it being on really late at night and viewers being tired, or drunk, or both, or from people who slept through the first half-hour.

Rating: thumbs in the middle

Video Demons Do Psychotown (1989)

Kiss my ass, person who made this cover

Kiss my ass, person who made this cover

Screw you, Troma. Screw you forever. I hope the tiny amount of money you made buying this film, repackaging it with a lurid title and selling it to suckers (read: fans) like me was worth it. I admire Troma’s gonzo atttitude towards filmmaking, crashing the Cannes and Sundance film festivals, making cheap and insane horror movies, but the other side of their business is rotten and every bit as bad as The Asylum or the SyFy Channel.

In case you’ve not read any of my Troma reviews before, what they’ll do is buy the rights to bargain basement horror movies, often from overseas (although this one isn’t). Then they’ll change the title to something wild and exciting, give it a bright, fun-looking video cover and release it to the world. To the dishonourable list of “Rabid Grannies” (neither rabid nor grannies) and “A Nymphoid Barbarian In Dinosaur Hell” (there are at least dinosaurs, I suppose) we can add “Video Demons Do Psychotown”, for which not one single word is true.

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I’m not even being facetious. It’s about a haunted hotel, and how the rest of the tiny town (who are all into tarot cards and suchlike, not that it makes a blind bit of difference to the movie) kills the former owner, “Murder On The Orient Express” style. A college student comes along to make a documentary about the renovation of the hotel, but his psychic girlfriend starts realising there’s a dark secret…plus, she can sense ghosts.

SCREW THIS MOVIE – the “documentary” is appallingly shot, and to pad out the running time we see them do a thing, then rewatch the footage of that thing several times when they’re back at home. One of their friends is also in the film class, and he’s done a music video, so we watch that IN ITS ENTIRETY!

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If I’d made this film, I’d have been ashamed to show it. If I was Troma, I’d have been ashamed to buy it, and then been ashamed to expect people to pay money to see it. With the endless padding (some scenes are re-watched by the cast 10 times) the air of it being a half-formed idea put out into the world with “this’ll do” is perhaps the worst thing about it. I’ll leave the final word with crew member Brett Colarik, who posted of his experience working on this movie with director Alessandro DeGaetano:

“DeGaetano is a complete moron. COMPLETE. No, let me put that another way – a thieving conceited mean-spirited moron! A liar, also. OK, can you tell I don’t like him? But he is a THIEF, that’s for sure! Let me say this real quick: NOBODY on the crew liked the jerk. He was consistently rude, obnoxious, and over-bearing (did I mention extremely conceited?), and when you combine that with a VERY VERY low I.Q., this is what you get.

DeGaetano ended up splitting town, and failed to pay everyone thousands of dollars in back-pay, owed to many of the crew.”

Rating: thumbs down

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PS – DeGaetano waited 7 years to make his next film, and that was the ISCFC-covered “Project: Metalbeast”. We sort of enjoyed that, but knowing now what a horrible guy the director was makes me retroactively like it less.

Alien Space Avenger (1989)

H5pLc8 As if to prove there’s endless variations on the “evil aliens come to earth and are tracked by good aliens” theme, along comes “Alien Space Avenger”. I mean, okay, it’s still quite like “The Hidden” (which came out two years before) but you’re never going to mistake one for the other. #

 

A Star Wars-style scroll tells us about four alien space terrorists who’ve escaped from prison, and the Agent who’s trying to get them back – then their pod crashes on Earth, circa 1939. Four drinking-and-driving teenagers run across their crashed ship, and the tiny green aliens leap into the human bodies and take them over. Cue some fun and games in the 30s (including rather hilarious scenes at a movie theatre showing “Flash Gordon” and a party for veterans of WW1) before they decide to throw the agent off the scent by hiding out in their pod. Whoops, they ended up there for 50 years! Or maybe it was deliberate! Who knows! Anyway, picking somewhere they can blend in, they move to New York, and they either must have gone guerilla-style or New York was still so sleazy at the time that no-one cared, because they really film in Central Park and in Manhattan’s red light district. By chance, a down-on-his-luck comic artist, who’s the current writer / artist of “Space Avenger” (the comic the teenagers were reading in 1939), sees the four of them, in 1930s clothes, and decides to spin them into his storyline. But they think he’s got some secret knowledge so decide to go after him, plus there’s the artist’s unhappy sort-of-ex-girlfriend and the Agent is still around too… alien-space-avenger This feels quite Troma-y, with its broad comedy and gleeful lack of good taste (the aliens take great delight in murdering pretty much everyone they come into contact with, when they get body parts blown off they grow back in gross gooey fashion, and so on) and this is proved, sort-of, when you read the credits. The director Richard Haines was the credited co-director for “Class of Nuke Em High” (Troma head honcho Lloyd Kaufman fired him some time into production); and the chief alien Rex (Robert Prichard) was also in that movie. This is about as high-concept as a movie about 1930s aliens in the “present day” can be. The aliens seem to be in charge, but the humans’ personality keeps bleeding through, so despite them all being space terrorists, there’s a clumsy drunk, a psycho, a nymphomaniac and nervous housewife. This conflict keeps the laughs coming, and it’s done surprisingly well. The timeline’s all to cock, of course – the artist witnesses stuff, draws it in his comic then it manages to be on newsstands within hours? ALIE1988_1 Although no-one would ever call this a classic, it’s a heck of a lot of fun. My favourite was Angela Nicholas, as nympho Peggy; she was beautiful and funny, but her career would sort of stall before she became a soft-core “erotica” star around the turn of the millennium, a world she’s still involved in. If you like Troma but wish they’d stop trying so hard to offend all the time, then this could be the movie for you. Rating: thumbs up

Rock n Roll Space Patrol Action Is Go (2005)

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I think Troma reached a tipping point of sorts with this. One on end, actual motion pictures; on the other, home movies. I would lay money on at least one person reading this having made something about as good as this with their friends over the course of a boring summer holiday, so why Troma chose to release this, I have absolutely no idea. It’s not the beginning of any glorious careers – in fact, for just about everyone involved, it’s their sole credit of any kind; and it’s not so much bad as it is a bit…pointless?

Buck Fiesta is a Space Ranger sent in his intergalactic spaceship, which strongly resembles a battered old car, to a far distant part of the galaxy, which strongly resembles Springfield, Missouri. He meets up with Red Arrow, and the two of them fight to take down a bunch of space-ninjas, a mad scientist and so on. They fight in the middle of a field, mainly, but they also have a conference in a garage and flash back to an event taking place near a bonfire. Now, the bonfire bit is so obviously home movie footage that I started to get a bit annoyed.

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Now, there’s two ways of looking at this. One is to completely dismiss it as the cheap nothing of a movie it undoubtedly is – four or five friends spent a summer and (according to IMDB) $3000 making a movie to entertain themselves and their social circle. If I knew one of them, I’d have been round their house watching the premier of it and would have undoubtedly been impressed with what they’d achieved. But, Troma have elevated it to some level of legitimacy by attaching their name to it and selling it for real money (despite it being available for free on Youtube, you can still buy it from their website). When you start charging money for something, it being a tiny bit above the level of a well-done home movie just isn’t enough.

This isn’t the cheapest movie we’ve covered on here – “Manborg” cost under $1000, if I remember right; and I don’t think “Swamp Zombies” can have cost much more than than $3000. “The Slashening” (just picked up by Troma) only cost $6000. So there’s not the excuse of extreme cheapness to let them off.

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I’m sorry. I feel like I’ve just done the equivalent of write a thousand words about a knock-knock joke. It’s clearly not meant to be taken seriously, at all. But use your limited time on this earth more wisely and watch something else.

Rating: thumbs down

Surf Nazis Must Die (1987)

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“The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies”. “Ballistic: Ecks v Sever”. “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter”. “Pfffht”. “Rat Pfink A Boo Boo”. “The Linguini Incident”. What do these movies have in common? Two things – titles so terrible that whoever named them deserves to be shot; and movies so terrible that whoever made them deserves to be shot. To this list we can now add “Surf Nazis Must Die”.

We have Troma to thank for this, the occasionally great company who have given us so much. For every “Nuke Em High” there’s got to be some cheap piece of garbage they bought in and re-packaged with a garish title, I suppose. This is like Troma Enjoyment Tax.

There’s not much plot to speak of. An earthquake has hit California and it’s now a largely lawless place, with gangs centred around surfing and the beach taking over – primarily, of course, the Nazis. They kill a black guy just because he’s black, so his grandmother, who’s moved into a nursing home but is obviously a badass grannie, decides to take matters into her own hands and get some revenge.

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If you think an old lady kicking ass while using a variety of high-explosive devices is intrinsically funny, then you’ll like this. Otherwise, you’re screwed. At 15 minutes in, I was checking the time remaining, because it was already dragging; and it does not get better. It’s a film that came up with a title and then had absolutely nothing else – no inspiration, no acting, nothing. The name “Surf Nazis Must Die” begs to be attached to a movie full of insanity and speed and death and wild, over-the-top-ness, but what it gets is none of that. The Nazis are fairly angry, as is the bereaved grandma, but it’s a serious revenge film with the added non-bonus of being made for no money and shot in some deserted concrete wasteland in California.

Even if all that were correct, which it is, there might still be some enjoyment to be had. Revenge films are big business in Hollywood nowadays, so there’s definitely a market for them. But the terrible doesn’t stop there! It’s also thoroughly incoherent – who are all these people? Why are they annoyed with each other? Why are they Nazis? Why do they kill that guy? What’s the point of any of this rubbish?

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Don’t be tempted by the title, ISCFC readers. I know that every generation must discover this anew, smile at the title and track it down – thanks to Youtube, it is now available for free – but please resist the temptation. I watched this with a group of friends in my early 20s, and distinctly remember being really bored at the end of it. Perhaps, I thought, the years would be kinder to it. Perhaps my taste for ridiculousness has mellowed. No. It’s just terrible, and remains terrible.

Please, also, disregard the rest of the internet. You will encounter many people who say it’s great if you can take a joke, if you’re not one of the PC police, and so on. The fact there are Nazis in it (one of whom was played by Ted Prior, in a rare role where his brother wasn’t the director) is like no.50 on the list of objectionable things this movie does. It’s rubbish, because it’s poorly made, stupid, and the only reason anyone in the world cares about it nowadays is down to its title.

If anyone ever says “hey, let’s watch that Surf Nazis movie, it’ll be fun!” kill them and get yourself new friends. Nothing could be less fun.

Rating: thumbs down

Don't know what other sorts of corpses there are

Don’t know what other sorts of corpses there are

Cybernator (1991)

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Normally, playing a game of “hey, it’s That Guy” (or “That Gal”) is fun, when you’re watching something big-budget. However, when you’re watching a sub-sub-bargain-basement film like “Cybernator” and you start to recognise people from “Samurai Cop” and the “Nuke Em High” films, then you might need to start asking yourself some serious questions.

The IMDB summary of this is succinct and perfect. “In the future, an L.A. cop whose girlfriend is a stripper uncovers a conspiracy concerning killer cyborgs.” I’m half tempted to do the film reviewer equivalent of drop my mic and walk off the stage at this point, but there’s plenty of fun stuff to talk about.

Brent McCord is the LA cop, and if you’ve seen literally any film from the 80s, you’ll recognise the basics. Leading political and military figures are being killed and he’s just trying to do his job. Plus, there are cyborgs around! I sort of wondered if they were going for some racial tolerance thing, but the cyborgs are all evil and deserve to get shunned in the street and eventually shot to pieces.

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“Cybernator” may put you off going to see strippers for ever. The strip club is incredibly ugly and atmosphere-free, and I think director Robert Rundle should have just hired a couple of real strippers because it’s not like he could have possibly found a worse actress; combine that with stripping that looks like a jazzercise class for people with broken hips, and you’ve got a recipe for a bad time. Talking of ugly locations, the two virtually identical offices used by the police captain and the army Colonel are so nondescript that your eyes fight to stop looking at the screen – although a good spot from my wife was a bar right at the front of the shot in the Army office, which indicates they were filming in the corner of an old-fashioned bank (perhaps one of the cast worked there as a day job and snuck them in to film).

They’ve never met a cop movie cliche they didn’t love, either – we get the big “you’re off this case” speech, and the main guy hands in his badge at one point. We even get the girlfriend giving it the “please don’t go”  to McCord as he’s about to go after the androids, even if it’s about half an hour too early for it to really work. But they try! If you’ve seen any of the films we’ve reviewed here, you’ll see the twist coming a mile away, but it’s not a bad twist, just slightly over-used.

It’s not all cliches, though, like when they go to speak to the coroner, and it’s an Asian woman. She’s not there for comic relief or to be an exotic romantic encounter, she’s just a normal, friendly woman doing her job. Noticing it made me realise how rare that sort of character is, even now, and how completely unknown it was back in 1992, especially in American cinema. Good on you, “Cybernator”.

This film also has one of the longest and least erotic love scenes I’ve seen. My wife went in the kitchen to make herself a drink at the beginning of it, and as the lovemaking was accompanied by awful music, she could hear it and kept saying “is that damn scene still going on? Seriously?” I feel like the occasional shot of a breast (while all we see of the man is a bare chest) is like the tenth worst thing about that scene.

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I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. Now, this is a film with rotten acting (the lead, Lonnie Schuyler, is so bad as to almost defy belief), cliches stacked a mile high, perhaps the worst soundtrack ever, ugly sets and terrible special effects, including but not limited to cyborgs with bits of metal glued to their face, lasers that are sort of near the gun they’re supposed to be coming from, but you know what? I really enjoyed it. It’s a throwback to the days of Ed Wood, when clueless directors, bored / incompetent actors, terrible special effects and awful scripts combined to make real “so bad it’s good” movies. This film definitely belongs in the pantheon of great bad movies, and I definitely recommend it for your next bad movie night.

And it’s available for free on Youtube! I didn’t mention the Troma connection, but they evidently bought the rights to it (they had nothing to do with its production) and as they’ve put up their entire back catalogue on Youtube, knock yourselves out.