Every Monday I watch and review a random movie I've never heard of before. Here's my latest batch.
MR. NO LEGS (1978)
Thoughts before watching: Holy crap! How have I never heard of this before?
Judging by the poster I thought MR. NO LEGS would be the protagonist. He's the exact opposite. He's the enforcer for a Florida drug cartel posing as a cigar factory. They receive cocaine in their tobacco shipments. The coke is pressed into pill form and then rolled into cigars, which are sold by dealers. After a rival drug gang tries to steal their incoming shipment by posing as dockworkers, Lou, (a.k.a. MR. NO LEGS), pays them a visit, and blasts them to hell with his wheelchair that has double-barreled shotguns that spring from the armrests. Also, his chair is equipped with throwing stars on the spokes. Out of his chair, he's a deadly martial artist. MR. NO LEGS will not be tolerating anyone's bullshit.
After a hard days work at the drug factory, college student Ken, (Luke Halpin, child star of the FLIPPER movie and TV series), returns home to find his girlfriend has discovered some of his paraphernalia. While trying to stop her from leaving she falls and smashes her head into a television screen, killing her. In a panic, he calls Lou/No legs, and Lou's Sidekick. (Lou's Sidekick is his name in the credits, played by veteran actor Rance Howard, the Father of Ron and Clint.) Lou preforms clean-up, injecting the girl with drugs and leaving her in an area by the school to make it look like an O.D. He also shoots and kills Ken leaving no loose ends. There's a big problem though, the girl's brother, Andy, (who looks like Rob Reiner in ALL IN THE FAMILY), happens to be with the Florida police department. After police find her body he's determined to find the truth about her killing, with the help of his loyal partner Chuck. (Another great character actor, Richard Jaeckel, STARMAN).
After his clean-up. Lou is reprimanded by the drug boss for sloppy work and told that he's one step away from selling pencils on a street corner. After this handicap insensitive shit, Lou decides he's going to take out the boss and run things himself. With the police closing in, it becomes a three-way standoff between Lou, Druglord, and Cops.
Why am I just now finding out about this gem? There are so many amazing scenes here. There's a bar fight that utilizes tons of break-away props, a midget that hops on the bar to cheer, and hit someone with a bottle.
There's an amazing fight scene by No Legs, he's attacked by a swarm of bad guys and jumps out of his chair to deliver some lethal martial arts moves. They even end up in a swimming pool.
There's a climactic car chase sequence that checks off most of the boxes on the 70's car chase checklist. Including the opening drawbridge jump gag. (Which I just saw a couple of days ago in ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD.)
There's a slew of veteran character actors, like the aforementioned Rance Howard, Richard Jaekel, Lloyd Bochner (POINT BLANK), and John Agar (THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS).
See it for yourself. Here's the full movie on YouTube:
Some highlights: 38:46 for the epic bar fight. If you watch this and can figure out what the bartender says at the end, please let me know in the talkback. I watched it at least ten times. It sounds like he says, "high bird damn", or "hyper damn."
100:25 for MR. NO LEG's epic karate fight.
Afterthoughts: Ted Vollrath (MR. NO LEGS), lost his legs from a mortar shell during combat in the Korean War. He started training in karate in 1967 and soon earned a black belt, and several different belts for other styles of martial arts. In 1971 he started a school for training the disabled in martial arts. He died November 18, 2001. I raise my glass high to you, Sir.
SATURDAY'S WARRIOR (2016)
Thoughts before watching: Not only do I have a Monday movie watching tradition, I have a Sunday one as well. On Sundays, I have a couple of friends come over to the house for beer, dinner, and a movie. It started with GAME OF THRONES, but we've carried it over every week since. Each week we take turns cooking dinner. This particular week the movie was ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL with tacos. Before dinner, my friend and I were sitting on my porch talking about movies. He told me he didn't see many typical childhood films when he was growing up because he had a Mormon upbringing. The only films he saw were the ones approved by the LDS church list and Mormon movies. So hearing there were Mormon movies, I asked him to give me some titles. I explained my Monday movie project. He told me his Mom had sent him a movie recently about a Mormon rock star. Not only that, but he could drop the movie off at my house before work the next day so I could have it for Monday. There was one catch: he wanted to pick a movie for me to review. He picked a movie he thought would be torture for me to review. I'll be watching both movies back to back.
SATURDAY'S WARRIOR begins in heaven with a family of eight brothers and sisters. They've gathered to see their eldest twin brother and sister, Jimmy and Pam, as they're off to be born to their Mother and Father. There not being reincarnated, they're in a state of pre-existence from what I've been able to find through conflicting beliefs.
Cut to 1972, and the whole family is together on Earth. (Except the youngest daughter.) They're a traveling PARTRIDGE FAMILY style band playing county fairs.
Pam is in a wheelchair due to an accident Jimmy feels blame for. He feels detached from his family and focuses more on the band he has with his friends called Warrior. After his Mom announces she's pregnant with baby number eight, Jimmy runs off in a huff and writes a song with his band called Zero Population. The family comes out to one of Jimmy's gigs, and are in a state of shock when they hear the song about how overpopulation is a problem, and how (gasp) legalized abortion is an answer. Jimmy's Dad is livid, and they have a fallout.
We then get the typical rock movie montage of the song rising up the charts as the band plays different gigs. Warrior is the number one band, but Jimmy feels empty inside. Soon, a family tragedy strikes, and he has to do what's right.
NON-SPOILERY SPOILER ALERT: Surprise! He quits being a successful rock star to be with his family. What an idiot. If you're a big rock star that's unhappy, just bury yourself under a mountain of cocaine, and hot, naked groupies. It takes the blues away every time. Just ask Vince Neil.
There's also a subplot involving the second to the oldest daughter and her husband worried they might not find each other on Earth. Another one is about a future Mormon church leader and his Waylon Smithers type sidekick, who go to Earth to try to save as many souls as possible. There's a deep, unrequited, love story here that needs to be told.
The biggest part of this movie would be the music. The majority of the songs in the movie are slow, maudlin numbers that made me want to hit the fast forward button. There's a guy that controls the gateways from Heaven to Earth, (he's like Heaven's Heimdall), the two songs they give him are actually decent. They'll never be on my playlist, but they aren't bad.
Overall, I was excited about this movie mainly because it was a genre that is new to me. A Mormon musical. Although there was BOOK OF MORMON, which I've seen, this was an actual Mormon musical made by Mormons, for Mormons. There was a weird charm to this. It was so whitebread and wholesome. I think this needs to be categorized as caucasian-sploitation. Like blaxploitation movies, white people are stereotyped and over exaggerated. In blaxploitation films, they use a unique language with words like, "sucka," and "jive ass turkey." In this, they use words like, "spiffy", "neat-o", and "nifty."
I didn't love it, didn't hate it. But I was weirdly fascinated by it. This is a genre of film I never knew existed. The DVD insert did show adverts for other Mormon movies, and I do have a craving to check those out in the near future.
They're watching me burn in hell.
Afterthoughts: SATURDAY'S WARRIOR was based on a stage play that toured Mormon churches across America in the '70s and '80s.
Now onto my obligation movie. It's a religious double-feature.
BIBLE BEES (2019)
Thoughts before watching: My friend searched the web on his phone for ten minutes before settling on this. Honestly. if the roles were reversed, and I was picking a movie for him, I could've done better. Or worse. Much, much worse.
The reason he's doing this to me is that when he was away I filled his pillowcases with sperm shaped glitter/confetti. He had it in his hair for two months. The reason I did that to him is that he emptied out the water tank of my automatic coffee maker and filled it with vinegar.
BIBLE BEES is about two horribly animated bees that get sent to check on different animal friends by the queen bee. Every animal they come across leads to a story about Jesus. A rat tells them about Jesus washing the feet of lepers which is supposed to be a lesson in thankfulness. And it repeats this until the best part of the movie, the end. I was a little bit curious whether they would show Jesus. Would he be a bee? (Beesus?)
Everything about this is terrible. The animation is crude and cut-corner cheap. The mouths don't match up with the voices, so they use entire scenes over again with completely different dialog. The voice acting is annoyingly bad. I don't have to tell you to avoid this, none of you will ever watch this in your lifetimes. Lucky you.
Thoughts before watching: the movie I had originally intended for this spot didn't have a subtitle track, so I had to find another movie at the last second.
Boy Barrett is a young man on the run from the cops in London for stealing money from his employer. After being apprehended by police, Boy hangs himself in his cell. One of the belongings with him at the time of arrest is a scrapbook with articles on a successful attorney, Melville Farr (Dirk Bogarde). After being questioned by police, Barrett's friend Eddy shows up at Farr's doorstep, he's found a a piece of mail of Barrett's from extortionists, with a photo of Farr and Barrett together.
At this time in UK history, it was illegal for men to be homosexual. Blackmailers would use this to their advantage by extorting huge amounts of money from gay men to keep their secrets quiet.
Eddy and Farr investigate the matter to find the blackmailers. Eddy finds men that are also being blackmailed, and Farr questions them. This leads them to a stage actor, and a barber who's been imprisoned four times, and is fleeing the country for a peaceful life in Canada. Eventually, Farr is faced with the choice of paying off the blackmailers and getting them out of his life or exposing his secret in order to bring them to justice.
This is an amazing find. For its subject matter, it's ahead of its time. At the same time, it's also an old fashioned murder mystery, complete with red herrings, and the reveal of the head blackmailer is actually a surprise.
The most dramatic moments of the movie come when Farr is confronted by his wife, Laura. She's not at all stunned by his predicament, actually she seems to have been living her life dreading the day this was going to happen again. By again, this isn't the first time one of Farr's lovers commit suicide. Their dialog scenes are dated, but still manage to be powerful.
The full movie is available on YouTube. I highly recommend it.
DANCE OF THE DWARFS (1983)
aka JUNGLE HEAT
aka EASY FLYER
Thoughts before watching: I almost did a Rutger Hauer movie the week he passed, I chickened out, and I immediatly regretted it. The reason I decided not to, I was afraid if I had to rip apart a Rutger Hauer movie it would be disrespectful. The reason I regretted it is because Rutger Hauer is a solid actor even in shit movies. Rutger Hauer does not fail in movies. The movies sometimes fail him. He's one of those actors you can never say a negative word about, even when they're in shitty movies. Like Robert Mitchum, Dennis Hopper, Burt Reynolds, AND Peter Fonda.
I'm hoping for the best on this one. With any luck, I'll find a Peter Fonda gem.
Dr. Evelyn Howard Deborah Raffin, (7TH HEAVEN), is an anthropologist who travels to South America in search of a lost tribe. She hires an alcoholic, Vietnam vet, helicopter pilot (Fonda), to fly her into the Amazon. Once there, they travel on foot, and she meets an African witch doctor (John Amos, the Dad from GOOD TIMES). Why is an African witch doctor in the middle of South America? I just assumed he's part of a witch doctors without borders program and went with it. He tells her about the dwarf tribe, "the devil's children," and that they only come out at night. Then vanishes from the movie.
Of course, she goes looking for them at night, and the last twenty minutes become a monster movie.
This has elements that could have made for a fun adventure, monster movie. Peter Fonda does a good job as an alcoholic pilot, but he really has nothing to say or do. It's basically just THE AFRICAN QUEEN with jungle creatures. Which sounds cool, but this is just badly written, sluggish, with no action, or adventure, and quickly forgettable.
The special make-up effects and creature design were by the usually great Craig Reardon (creator of Sloth in THE GOONIES), and David B. Miller (the original creator of the Freddy Kruger make-up). They were probably doing the best they could on a low effects budget. The dwarf creatures are mostly silhouettes that keep to the dark. When you do see them in flashes, they have a bit of a low-budget charm.
Full movie available on YouTube. I'm not going to link it, but it's easy to find.
I can't end with this movie. I have to find something better to end on. It's a Peter Fonda double-feature.
SOUTH BEACH (1993)
aka NIGHT CALLER
Thoughts before watching: Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, Gary Busey, and Peter Fonda. Sold.
Fred Williamson is Mack Derringer; a former football pro turned private eye. When he's not golfing with former teammate Lenny (Busey), he's hanging out at the sports bar owned by another teammate (Fonda), and when he's not doing those things he's macking on the fine ladies while wearing Cosby sweater, or MIAMI VICE style jackets and chomping on a cigar.
Mack's ex-wife Jennifer, (Vanity, her second to last movie role before retiring from acting to become a born again Christian), runs a 1-900 sex line. She starts getting threatening calls from a guy named Billy, (Sam Jones, FLASH GORDON himself). After Billy murders one of her co-workers, Jennifer seeks Mack's help.
Billy hires a woman named Francesca to hire Mack as a bodyguard. She takes him to a party on the yacht of a local mob boss Santiago, (Henry Silva, MEGAFORCE!). Francessca flees and Mack is knocked out and has a gun planted on him next to a dead body. Framed for murder, a killer on the loose, and now the mob is after him.
Also, he has a police detective who has a thing for Jennifer dogging his every move (the great Robert Forster, JACKIE BROWN).
Mack investigates the case, taking one of his former teammates with him each time. Either Busey or Fonda. One or the other. Never both at the same time. Busey and Fonda have about ten seconds of screen time together. I don't know if this was because of budget or scheduling reasons, or maybe like the GAME OF THRONES actors that played Cersei and Bronn, they hated each other so much they insisted that they not have any scenes together.
There's a ton of convoluted plot to go along with the ton of B movie actors and actresses. I have a sneaky feeling they got the cast together and then wrote the movie around them. There is just so much fun going on here.
Marquis Ross (formerly of 2 Live Crew), plays Mack's Huggy Bear type street informant. He does a rap called, South Beach Rap that could possibly be one of the worst rap songs ever put on film.
Williamson has a sex scene, and as soon as you see it you will automatically know he was the producer, and director of this movie.
There are extras that get shot and die in long dramatic deaths. One, in particular, I watched three times.
Gary Busey has some Busey-ism moments.
I think they were going for an Elmore Leonard type easy-going detective crime story. Whatever they were going for, I had fun with it. This isn't the usual Fred Williamson movie.
The full movie is available on YouTube:
Peter Fonda is great of course, he gets to shoot down mobsters, but he doesn't really have a shining moment here.
If you would like to see a great obscure Peter Fonda film check out OPEN SEASON (1974), or 92 IN THE SHADE.
This isn't my favorite Fonda preformance, but it's up there: his voice acting work in GRAND THEFT AUTO: SAN ANDREAS. He plays a pot farmer conspiracy theorist called The Truth. In one of the greatest missions in GTA history, you have to burn all off his marijuana crops with a flamethrower before a black helicopter shows up over his property. Then you have to rush over to grab a rocket launcher and shoot down the helicopter. After that, you get in The Truth's hippie van, The Mothership and take a fifteen-minute drive to San Fierro. All the while The Truth is talking about aliens and conspiracies. The banter between Carl Johnson and The Truth was so much fun, I really wanted a live action movie with just those two characters on a road trip in The Mothership.
That's it for this month if you have a suggestion for movies I could use for this let me know in the talkbacks.