Most of us by now are aware of Plan 9 From Outer Space as a towering achievement in the realm of terrible cinema. Thanks to MST3K, a good number of us can also point to Manos: The Hands Of Fate as arguably being even worse. A little backstory: when I worked at the late, great Naro Video here in Norfolk, Virginia, we would take turns picking movies to play whilst we were open.
There were some House Rules: nothing past PG-13, no gratuitous sex/nudity/graphic violence, no excessive screaming, no over-the-top profanity (unofficially referred to as The 3-Fuck Limit). Although on my last shift, my friend Whitney and I did put on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and drink Smartmouth beer behind the counter. The point is, when it was my turn, more often than not I felt it was my professional obligation to hip the patrons to the finest schlock I could dish out. See, some people like bad movies. They enjoy them, find them entertaining and amusing.
I. Love. Bad. Movies. Love ’em. I live for them. There’s usually one on in the background whilst I compose This Humble Blog or do just about anything around my place. That said, here then, are my Top 5 Schlock Classics.
#5 I Eat Your Skin
This one has several glaring deficiencies. First, to be blunt, no skin gets et; it does not do what it says on the tin. Second, there’s a good deal of offscreen narration. I always assume this is at least partly to avoid having to pay actors for speaking parts. Also it was shot in 1964 but took 7 years to find a distributor. By this time it was pretty damn tough to get away with a regional, low-budget flick in black and white. Worst of all, it seems pretty clear that renaming the movie I Eat Your Skin was a cynical ploy to couple the movie with as well as capitalize on I Drink Your Blood, also 1971.
#4 Beast From Haunted Cave
I have a special fondness for this one because I got to see it in a theater-like setting. Old Dominion University, you see, has the Pretlow Planetarium, and before the current plague, they had a Bad Movie Night the first Friday of every month, and they’d show movies on the ceiling of the planetarium. How fucking cool is that? Beast From Haunted Cave was the first movie I saw there, and what a spectacle it was. A terrible script acted terribly by terrible actors. No surprise there. What is surprising is the monster which manages to pull off a couple of moderately creepy attacks. This also includes what is possibly the least effective ending on this list. It just, well, ends. Boom. Like, “Okay, here’s where we ran out of money.”
#3 The Creeping Terror
More ADR, possibly the worst acting on this list, and hands down the worst monster. It’s literally indescribable, but looks very much as if there were shag carpet remnants involved, maybe some salvaged auto parts. There’s at least one scene where someone gets gobbled up in a manner that looks like someone being dragged into a pup tent, and a spaceship that looks suspiciously like it could have passed for a small Airstream.
#2 The Giant Claw
1957. Just a year after another giant flying critter flick, Rodan. The Giant Claw has yet more ADR, but the shooting, lighting, script, and acting aren’t nearly as bad as some of these other titles. Sadly, the money put in to production quality had to come out somewhere–in this case, the monster. You know you’re in trouble when the poster image has more artistic merit than the creature–a prehistoric bird-type creature that looks like a crazed Muppet Show reject and shrieks like a stabbed rooster. It’s such a noisy fucker that the last 6 or so minutes is almost unwatchable with the sound on. Oh, and at one point the protagonist says “infantile jackass.” Naughty boy.
#1 Mesa Of Lost Women
Like Tura Satana in The Astro-Zombies, the only reason to watch this movie is Tandra Quinn–oh those opening scene talons. Quinn plays the oh-so-cleverly named Tarantella, one of the spider women created by Dr. Aranya. That’s right, Aranya, as in araña, as in Spanish for spider. That Herbert Tevos–a poet he was. Anyway, Tarantella chews up a mess o’ scenery for the first half hour, then disappears until the final four minutes. That leaves roughly 30 minutes to marvel at the impressive acting chops of one Harmon Stevens. Wowzers.
And that’s the list. Lemme know what you think. Maybe I’ll get around to a Part II.
SKULLS- 13 across the board. Seriously. If you ain’t seen ’em, treat yerself.