R.I.P. Juan Piquer Simon

“He makes [films] because he loves making them, whatever the outcome.”

That would be the best way to describe J.P. Simon (as he liked to call himself on his foreign releases). Simon was the director of Slugs, Pieces, Les Nuevos Extraterrestres and Supersonic Man.

A clip from his E.T.-like movie is featured in this montage (fast forward to 1:20 if you must). Here’s a homemade trailer for Pieces. It’s quite gory, but should make you realize the man made more than Supersonic Man.

Great moments in cinema: Ator III

You know you’ve struck gold if you’re watching a film and aren’t sure if it’s a comedy or not. I’d say Ator III: The Hobgoblin came from the brain of Joe D’Amato, but that would be an insult to the man’s brain. Here’s a clip from this wonderful masterpiece (a.k.a. Quest for the Mighty Sword). It’s a vital lesson for anyone wanting to do something in the film industry: action scenes only need to exist of some vague waving around of weapons, build-ups are overrated.

Gib Gas, Ich Will Spass!

When the cast of a movie is mentioned only by their first names, it can only mean two things: either you’re watching a porn movie or a film with musicians. And a title like “Give gas, I want fun” doesn’t exactly help clarifying which of the two you’re watching. Which may explain why the English title of this film is Hanging Out. Which… come to think of it… may also be a sexual reference.

But no, dirty mind, Gib gas, ich will Spass is not smut, but a music film with Markus and Nena. The former a highly successful pop star, the latter an unknown pop star. And now, a quarter of a century later, the roles seem to be reversed. Because there’s a lot of chance you know Nena from her global hit “99 Luftballons” (a.k.a. 99 Red Balloons), but who is Markus? Think of Patrick Wolf who is accidently teleported to the 1980s and – these teleportations never go great, just watch The Fly – discovers his poppiest of sounds. Mind you, this film was made in 1983, when Germany found its new voice and answer to punk and new wave by inventing the Neue Deutsche Welle (literally New German Wave). Back in 1982, “Ich Will Spass” by Markus might have been refreshing rather than annoying. Make up your own mind because this is Markus’s biggest hit and the title track of the film (as performed in a music show where the average age of the viewer was 56):

So he wants fun, our Markus. And he’ll get it in this film as he’s the new boy in school, short trousers but a fast bike. Because rebellion, like a mullet, doesn’t grow in one day. Markus, who plays Robby, Nena's attempt at seducinghas the hots for Tina, as portrayed by Nena. Tina finds Robby silly rather than sexy and has more sexual feelings for Tino, who works full time on a fair and has his own convertible. And a mullet. And – what would romance be without language? – because Tino and Tina sounds cool.Tina convinces Tino to run off together, but when she can’t make it to the rendez-vous spot in time, Tino drives off with another chick. Her suitcase already packed and hoping to see Tino again, Tina convinces Robby to drive away together. Robby, naive enough to think Tina loves him as much as he loves her, gladly accepts. Tina’s feelings towards Tino are addressed in one of Nena’s biggest hits Nur geträumt: “Ich hab’ heute nichts versäumt, denn ich hab’ nur vor dir geträumt” (I haven’t wasted today, because I only dreamt of you). Don’t believe me, here’s the clip from the English dubbed version of the film:

And, of course, the search for Tino will ultimately end in Tina losing her heart to Robby. Seems like a sugar sweet teen flick, how can this be of any value to the cult-loving readership of DV? Well, there are several reasons: no matter how bad this film can be – and believe me, this will be a guilty pleasure – it’s nowhere as embarrassing as Crossroads or most of Madonna‘s output. The director is Wolfgang Büld, who had previously made a couple of documentaries about punk and reggae. Büld had noticed the Neue Deutsche Welle movement was becoming more mainstream and felt like pushing Markus, Nena and   look, it's Karl Dall again!the genre by making a teen flick with the movement’s protagonists in several of the roles. Apart from Markus and newcomer Nena in the leads the film also included a cameo by the band Extrabreit.
Nevertheless, the film is pretty weak in as much as the ‘story’ is flimsy (it’s basically Robby and Tina driving after Tina’s love interest you couldn’t care about) and the jokes are either silly or horrible: one running gag is Tina’s classmate, seen in the clip above, who is always eating meat products. It’s not that I explained it badly, that’s what he does: he mainly boasts about how much he loves eating sausages and how many he can eat. I’ll pause briefly, so you can chuckle at this hilarious concept. A boy who eats fried meat… utter and utter genius! Equally hilarious is having older actor Karl Dall play a handful of tiny roles, in an attempt to make the viewer chuckle “Look, it’s Karl again, ha-ha!” And of course it doesn’t help that it’s a movie that’s mainly made to push the music. In the following clip, Robby and Tina have made it to the airport, just too late to catch Tino. Tina manages to make contact with him and they agree to meet each other in Venice. After this, Nena has to link the fluttering Tina running back to Robby to one of her songs (Ganz oben). The result, complete with a hilarious drunk pilot, looks like this:

Which makes it all the more surprising to see Robby and Tina end up in Venice. While arguing, Robby is abducted by a group of nymphomaniacs (I wish I was making this up) and Tina chases the gondola on foot, with Nena’s Tanz auf dem Vulkan as soundtrack to the scene. But watch at (or fast forward to) 2:47 to spot a surprising cameo…

Admit that this is a cameo you wouldn’t have expected in such a bubblegum movie. Ultimately, Carla Rhode of Der TagesspiegelMore Spass! reviewed the film best: “I would have like to have fun too, but Nena, Markus and director Wolfgang Büld left me unsatisfied. What did the film attempt to be? A story about runaways, a musical or was it just a handful of uninspired scenes chucked together to fill the voids between songs by Nena and Markus?” Then again, I told you this would a guilty pleasure and it’s up to you whether a couple of Nena songs, Nena’s nude back and a reference to Don’t Look Now are enough to watch a corny movie for 85 minutes. Not that the film pretended to be Goethe. After all, the title is Gib Gas, Ich Will Spass.

3/10

P.S. Büld must’ve liked the experience because, two years later, he made Der Formel Eins Film, an equally corny film promoting Formel Eins (the German Top of The Pops) and featuring a.o. Falco (Jeanny, Rock me Amadeus, …)

Great moments in cinema: Zombie Lake

I must’ve watched some 5000 films in my life, a pretty large number if you stop and think about it. I’ve seen good and bad movies, but some are just out there, in a category of their own. Take Zombie Lake, the Jean Rollin vehicle. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think Rollin is such a great director: many of his films simply bore me and their stylishness doesn’t really look so stylish to me. There may have been some good and creative process behind them, but the result is often either silly or tedious. Amongst Rollin’s best I rate movies such as Les Démoniacs, on the other end of the spectre there are films like Zombie Lake.

Here’s a film that explains itself in the title. There’s a lake with zombies. Now, one might think that being in a lake for a long period may be bad for your skin. Jean Rollin is apparently one of those people. Hence he came up with an ingenious idea: the zombies in his lake are green-skinned. Now technically this might’ve made more sense than a bunch of other zombie movies, but on screen it just looks downright silly. As you’ll see in the clip below. And of course it doesn’t help that one zombie looks at the others to see if he didn’t miss his cue.

Zombie lake is a mind-boggling feature.

Giallo

It’s a tricky thing, to name a film after a genre. Especially if it seems like you’ll be perennially associated by the genre anyway. A handful of lucky punks may have called their short “Film Noir”, but no feature film seems daft enough to go with that title. (We’re not sure if we want to include Masahiro Kabayashi here, whose Koroshi allegedly means “film noir” in Japanese – as the international title became Killing.)

Enter Dario Argento, whose career boomed in the 70s with films like The Bird With The Crystal Plumage and Suspiria and whose recent career has been so successful we’re still referring to the films he made in 1970 and 1977. One of the thrillers Argento made at the start of his career was recently released on DVD – finally, we’d like to add – and this Four Flies on Grey Velvet got a lot more buzz than Argento’s two recent films: Mother of Tears and Giallo. There, I’ve said it: the latest Argento film is called Giallo. Can you smell the problem already?

“Giallo”, you see, isn’t only the Italian word for “yellow”, but it’s also the movie genre that Argento got his fame from. Allegedly, his Bird with the Crystal Plumage was supposed to be the real start of the genre – even if there had been some giallos (or gialli) in the 60s and Mario Bava should probably get the credit for Blood and Black Lace in 1964. Anyway, even now there probably won’t be a giallo retrospective at a film festival without including at least a film by Argento or Bava. And whereas Argento’s current status may be overrated, there’s no denying the man’s gialli (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Four Flies on Grey Velvet and Profondo Rosso) were good movies. It’s Argento’s later work that a lot of fans have problems with: despite the odd movie that was got a more welcome reception, pretty much all of the man’s films from the 90s and 00s was met with less than lukewarm reviews.

But lately it seems Argento seems to have found a new hobby and it’s called: spitting your fans in their faces. Twenty-seven years after Suspiria and Inferno, he completed his Three Mothers trilogy with Mother of Tears, probably the worst film Argento ever made. The general consensus was not only: “Did we have to wait a quarter of a century for this?”, but also the status of the two earlier films seemed suddenly smeared. By comparison, the Star Wars prequels seemed like cinema gold. But Argento wasn’t happy just by killing off half of his legacy… no, the other half (his gialli) had to go down the drain too.

Gialli were in essence film noir movies but with more nudity and gore. Outrageous at the time, a lot of them can now only be served as an appetizer before watching a torture porn film like Saw or Hostel. And that wouldn’t be a terribly wrong way to describe Giallo: Argento does torture porn. In this film, you see, there’s a mad killer on the loose who kidnaps and tortures beautiful young women. The mad kiler goes by the name Yellow or Giallo, not because of he wants to pay homage to the genre but because a disease has made his skin go yellow. As far as motives can be stupid, this one can be par with that Japanese flick where a man tortures and kills people because his body odour has made him unpopular with the ladies.

To be fair, Argento shouldn’t be the only one to take the blame: the script was penned by Jim Agnew and Sean Keller especially for the Italian director. Keller was responsible for a couple of “original Sci-Fi channel movies”, to give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here. But that neither Argento nor the other two writers came to the conclusion that giving a thriller such a title could only be considered as hybris, is beyond me.

Mainly because it ensures the film can only disappoint. In all fairness, Giallo isn’t a horrible film but you only notice this if your expectations have been crushed upfront. I couldn’t say Adrian Brody astounded me in the film and his role was quite silly indeed: because Avolfi (Brody) investigates vicious murders, his desk is in the deep dark cellar. A bit like Fox Mulder in The X-Files then, with the exception that Spooky Mulder was ridiculed by the FBI and Brody’s character genuinely investigates gruesome murders. Just imagine the man has a lead: it’ll take him ten minutes just to leave the precinct. Luckily the pizza delivery service still knows where he is. Which is how Emmanuelle Seigner‘s character Linda (whose sister was kidnapped by a man in a taxi) manages to track him down. At first, Avolfi doesn’t take her serious, but then he believes her and suddenly he has no problems talking about the gruesome murders to a civilian. As one does over a yummy slice of pizza.

Meanwhile Yellow tortures Linda’s sister by forcing her to watch how another victim is tortured to death. The torture scenes aren’t there to show how twisted the character is, it rather looks as if Argento is trying to show us he can still direct gory scenes. But Terror at the Opera this isn’t (remember those pins?) and it actually looks as if Argento is still trying to show how cool he can still be, anno 2009. In all fairness, I was able to find the screenplay of the film and Argento has genuinely improved parts of the film, including some of the torture scenes.

All in all, Giallo is a lot better than Mother of Tears (then again, so would be a testcard, so I’m not sure whether that’s saying anything) and I’m pretty sure I’d like the film better a second time round. Sadly I’m also certain I don’t want to see it again. Blame it on the hybris, kids!

4.5/10

Satanik

Not every older movie that gets a review here deserves it. Some are so bad they become highly amusing and thus worthwhile anyway, but some are reviewed here mainly as a warning. Today’s Satanik review has merely one purpose: make sure you only lose 85 minutes of your life by watching this if you really want to.

In Satanik we follow older ugly scientist Marnie Bannister who happens to be in the right spot at the right time: a colleague discovers a serum that allows certain animals to rejuvenate. Bannister doesn’t think twice, kills the scientist and experiments on herself. And lo and behold, suddenly she’s young and beautiful, proving that scars and ugliness are only signs of old age. Wow, these cult movies sure are educational, aren’t they?
Anyway, Marnie does the right thing and finds her way in the seedy underworld, thereby having to do the occasional killing of the innocent and less innocent. But watch out Marnie, a Scotland Yard inspector is hot on your trail… well, I say ‘hot’, the guy doesn’t really have a clue throughout the movie, but can one say you’re lukewarm on someone’s trail? No.

This groundbreaking masterpiece was made in 1968 by one Piero Vivarelli. He’s mainly remembered for directing Africa Erotica (La Decamerone Nero), despite having made more than a dozen films. The main reason to watch Satanik is the actress who gets to play the lead, Magda Konopka. Magda’s filmography is decidedly more impressive, featuring guest roles in tv shows (e.g. Danger Man, Department S and The Persuaders) and roles in cult movies like When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth and Lucky Luciano. Nothing too spectacular, but at least she deserves her own little footnote in cinema’s history.

Satanik‘s main problem is that it’s boring as hell, despite having every chance in the world to be exciting. There’s a trail of murders, a sexy protagonist who has a seedy side and great locations in Switzerland. Yet it outbores a documentary on two average-sized grey rocks being sent by mail from Essex to Ipswitch in a plastic bag.

And to make things worse the DVD release by Retro Media is fullscreen, so people and objects disappear from your screen from time to time. The DVD release does state that because of the film’s age and condition it couldn’t always be restored to a sparkling format, which we do understand, but sometimes the result looks like a hastily remastered VHS tape. One of the two covers features the poster we’ve also used in this review, but the other cover features a naked lady who looks nothing like the actress with a pentagram that has nothing to do with the film.

Mind you, the other poster doesn’t really give you a good idea of the film either. The mask you see Satanik wear is only used in one scene of the film, the striptease scene. Vivarelli even managed to make a striptease scene boring, so in a way he should get an award for that. The scene starts with a band that were either expensive or good friends of the director, because we have to wait an entire tiresome number before the film continues with Marnie’s striptease. The most positive thing I can say about the scene is that at least it doesn’t feature the irritating zoom shots Vivarelli seemed to have learnt from Jess Franco and that only help in making the film look even more amateurish and cheap. Stay tuned for this scene by the way, you can find it at the end of the article.

Sadly enough, there is a lovely history behind the photo strip that was turned into this borefest. It starts with the Italian photo strip Killing (which led to a.o. the Kilink movies released by Onar Films), which was conceived in Italy in 1965 as an answer to the French comic Kriminal (also turned into a movie by Umberto Lenzi). Killing, which was more violent than Kriminal, also got a French release, but the publishers decided a name change would be good for the character. Only 19 photo-strips were made of Killing/Satanik but because of its gratuitous violence, it found a large share of fans. Max Bunker, who was the man behind Kriminal (the comic Satanik tried to cash in on), reacted by making a comic for the Italian market. It featured an ugly scientist who became young and beautiful again and Bunker named it… Satanik.

So there you go, a movie which may have a more interesting background but which is turned into an unexciting movie that tries to cash in on the success of movies like Lenzi’s Kriminal and Mario Bava‘s Danger Diabolik. Two movies we’d recommend you instead. And now, as promised, the scene the movie tried to build up to (and failed):

The Deathless Devil

How can you be like Sherlock Holmes? Well, by dressing up as Sherlock Holmes. Elementary. This is just one of the wise lessons in The Deathless Devil (originally titled Yılmayan Şeytan).

The Deathless Devil also contains a hi-tech computer (read: tv on box), a fierce robot (impossible to describe) and top-notch action (oh, those Turkish superstars slash acrobats). But before we dive into the action, first a bit of fighting.

Notice how stabbing looks quite different in Turkey (rather like ballet) and how this office is somewhere located in the Twilight Zone: sometimes the office door leads to another office, sometimes to the roof. It’s magic!

But now the ‘moment de gloire’ of the fiercest robot you’ve ever seen in Turkish cinema. The only robot that can rival my perennial favourite (the one from Supersonic Man)! It’s fierce alright, but can it take on superhero Copperhead? (Did I just say Copperhead? Probably not the best superhero name ever invented.) But, before we dive into the climatic action (headfirst, of course), a comically intended scene of half a minute.

The Deathless Devil is out on DVD (thanks to Mondo Macabro). If you’re not sure about spending your money on this DVD (you’ll also get Tarkan vs the Vikings as a wonderful bonus feature), you can check out some large clips on YouTube.

What’s up, X-Rated?

A while ago we reviewed Byleth, a dvd released by a German label called X-Rated. We noticed this movie thanks to Xploited Cinema, which – as you know by now – stopped offering new titles a year ago. For smaller labels like X-Rated and Onar Films it meant the loss of an ally, a site where lots of people could read about new releases. It took me a while to find out what X-Rated have been up to lately, mainly because they don’t have a site for the label. The Austrian site DVD-Forum.at gave me some answers (and you also find the covers there – thanks are included). X-Rated, you’ll be glad to hear, is still around. In the past three months new releases have been issued, some of them quite interesting for the cult enthusiasts amongst us. So let’s have a look…

After Death (X-Rated 224) is an Italian splatter movie by Claudio Fragasso. The film was originally titled Oltre La Morte and has also been released as Zombie 4 or Zombie Flesh Eaters 3. In this film a woman goes back to the island where her parents were killed. They had been working on a cure for cancer and accidentally raised the dead by angering a voodoo priest. With the woman is a group of mercenaries and they meet up with some other researchers. They raise the dead again and all hell breaks loose.
The film is presented in widescreen format twice: the Italian version was 81 minutes long (not censored apparently, but a different cut) and is presented in its original 4:3 letterbox format. Audio options are Italian, English and German. Then there’s the export version, which ran for 89 minutes, and is presented in English or German in a 1.66:1 widescreen version. (A major change as the German VHS version of the film was only 72 minutes long!) None of the versions have subtitle options.
Extras include the Italian trailer and two German trailers. In typical X-Rated style you can even choose the cover. Cover A has the German title (Das Böse ist wieder da), cover B the English title (After Death) while cover C prefers Zombie IV as a title.
This film may be released on dvd in other countries, but no other release combines all these versions. This is what makes X-Rated such an interesting label and it’s a shame they don’t get more attention.

X-Rated’s 225th release is Mutiny in Outer Space, a trashy combination of sci-fi and horror. Two astronauts return from a lunar mission, unaware they’ve contracted a deadly fungus in one of the Moon’s caves. Soon the lunar fungus starts contaminating the entire space station. The director was Hugo Grimaldi, although we will forgive you if you haven’t heard this name before. He only directed a couple of movies and made most of his money by editing and producing.
Once again X-Rated have released the film in three versions.  Covers A and B are reworked posters, so you’ll have to turn your head if you want to adore them. Cover A uses the original title (Mutiny in Outer Space) and is the most attractive cover. Cover B uses the Spanish and German titles of the film (Motin en la Nave Espacial / Panik im All). The movie was also released in Germany by another title, X99 im Weltall, as (the rather ugly) Cover C shows.
The film is presented in fullscreen format in two versions: the German version is cut by six minutes, but the uncut US version is also present in its original language. The titles for the German Super-8 version, when it was dubbed X99, are also there as an extra. Other extras are two trailers for the film.

Not every X-Rated gets the multiple cover release though, as their next offerings prove. Hell’s Gate (a.k.a. Le Porte dell’Inferno) is a film by Umberto Lenzi. A quick search didn’t show any other DVD versions out there and the cover boasts the film is presented uncut. Possibly lesser good news for the international audience is that the film is only presented in Italian and German this time and that the film is presented in 1.33:1 format. Hell’s Gate tells the story of a couple of explorers who are investigating a tunnel system underneath a cursed church. Not a good idea, it seems: the dead wake up and a 700-year-old curse also pops up again. I guess you can imagine what happens next…

Also released: Return of the Living Zombies, Jack Bender‘s 1986 horror comedy (originally released as The Midnight Hour). The film is presented in 1.33:1, which makes sense as it was originally made for tv. Anchor Bay once released it as well, but that version is out of print by now (and the cheapest copy on Amazon is $134). There are no extras, but the film is presented in German as well as English. Melissa and a couple of friends unwittingly wake Melissa’s ancestor Lucinda. Lucinda was a witch and brings a couple of dead friends back to life for some revenge. Melissa and her friends get the help from Sandy, a a cheerleader from the 50’s. The question is: who will win?

That’s the recent output of X-Rated Kultdvd and I guess you’ll agree that it’s a real shame that these dvds are so obscure. We’ll check back with them later in the year (we hope). I’m curious what they’ll be releasing next…

(with thanks to dvd-forum.at)

Killer Barbys

Jess Franco‘s Killer Barbys is to the band The Killer Barbies what Aki Kaurismäki‘s Leningrad Cowboys go America was to the Leningrad Cowboys. Both are movies starring an existing band and both are typical products of the directors.
Kaurismäki is known for his deadpan black humor presented in films totally weirding you out and Leningrad Cowboys go to America is a weird and funny tale of the Leningrad Cowboys going to America.
Franco, on the other hand, is known for erotic horror movies and Killer Barbys is a mix of horny rockers and cannibalists.

But there’s more. Kaurismäki made a sequel, Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses, an attempt to make the worst movie ever. To a certain degree he succeeds in doing so.
Franco’s Killer Barbys doesn’t look as if it pretended to make a similar effort,but it’s difficult not to see how many horror cliches you can see in this film: at night you hear the sound of wearwolves, it’s often twelve o’clock, there’s cannibalism, you’ve got some dwarves, most of the rockers constantly want sex, a semi-naked girl is being chased in the woods, there’s lots and lots of blood and someone even ends up being crushed.
How much gore can you get into one movie? We’d ask Lucio Fulci, but unfortunately he’s dead.

But movies like Killer Barbys and the “Leningrad Cowboys” films (apart from two movies, Kaurismäki also directed a concert documentary and several short movies with the band) never meant to be original pieces of cinematographic genius.They serve, in a way, to let you know the band exists.
Sure, the directors are there to produce an end result that’s a nice business card for both band and director, but if these movies weren’t large band promos,the directors could’ve gotten just as well a bunch of actors. If anything, they are much more enjoyable than your average rockumentary.

Alternative cover (copyright: strangethings.nu) There’s one advantage the Leningrad Cowboys have: their name. You may have noticed I talk about the movie Killer Barbys and the band Killer Barbies.
The answer to this riddle is simple: Mattel didn’t like the idea of seeing their top product linked to a dirty rock band’s movie with sex and fangs and threatened to sue if the movie would bear the band’s name. One intentional spelling mistake later, everything was okay again.
Sure, it’s a minimal difference but if you look for the name of the band, you’ll need a bit longer to find the film. Thankfully someone invented the internet, home of the spelling mistake, and you won’t have to search that much longer.

But let’s go back to the film.
Even though Franco made lots of no-budget movies where anyone can see through the special effects, I suspect him here of making the effects as bad as possible (if you can’t see that the dead bodies are dummies, you desperately need to get your eyes checked.)
Either that, or the band intended to make a parody of a horror movie and everyone was in on the joke, except for the director.

It is true that Franco could have tried harder and that the movie could have been better, but it’s common knowledge that it’s better not to look Franco’s best movies in the nineties.
Most of Franco’s movies are so badly acted, it’s somehow ironic to conclude that in Killer Barbys two rockers act better than Franco’s cast of regulars (Lina Romay, Linnea Quigley, …).

To me, Killer Barbys stands out as the only decent movie Franco made in the nineties, so if you want to see some of his later work, this is the best choice you can make. As long as you remember it’s a Frankenstein experiment of combining gore and rockumentaries.

As everybody seemed happy with the result, Franco directed a sequel in 2002, Killer Barbys vs. Dracula. It just seems to make the weird parallels to Kaurismäki’s work with the Leningrad Cowboys even stronger, and it may be something for bands to think about: both the Cowboys and the Barbies managed to make more than one movie, whereas you don’t often get to see a sequel of a rockumentary.
If a band is inspired by this review to contact a director for a movie instead of a rockumentary you can always send me some money. I accept cheques.

By the way, “Love Killer” is not a bad song.

P.S. Killer Barbys is out on DVD. Details are below. You can order the VellaVision DVD at dvdgo.com and the ShriekShow is sold by (a.o.) Xploited Cinema.

Region 2
Label: VellaVision (Spain)
Language: Spanish
Subtitles: Spanish / English
Ration aspect: 4:3 (Fullscreen)
Extras: Interactive Menus, Scene Access, Filmographies, Photo Gallery, Trailers

Region 2
Label: VellaVision (Spain)
Same DVD as above, but in pack with the movie’s sequel, Killer Barbys vs. Dracula.

Region 1
Label: Shriek Show
Uncut Anamorphic Widescreen Version
Language: English and Original Multi-Language Dolby Digital Stereo Tracks
Extras: Interview with Sylvia Superstar and Billy King, 2 Killer Barbies’ music videos, notes, biographies and trailer

Supersonic Man

Supersonic in action

It’s not a bird, it’s not a plane, it may be wooden, it’s the Spanish Superman ripoff Supersonic Man and it’s directed by Juan Piquer Simon (Slugs, Los Nuevos Extraterrestres).

Juan Piquer Simon used to be a postman (thus linking him to Fabrizio de Angelis, ex-postman and director of “Killer Crocodile“), but quit his job to step into the movie business. If his mail delivery was as excellent as his knowledge of movie making, I wouldn’t send a letter to Spain.

“Supersonic Man” is so obviously a Superman rip-off that I’m almost ashamed to mention it. Still, shame is something Piquer Simon didn’t seem to have. Granted, the man has lots of imagination, but so has a toddler who draws three lines on a piece of paper and says it’s a car. Supersonic (for that is his name) is sleeping in a spaceship when an intergalactic voice tells him an evil mastermind wants to kidnap a professor so he, the evil mastermind, can rule over the world. The evil mastermind is none other than Cameron Mitchell, actor in a handful of classics and the lead in over 150 B- to D-movies. In this production he’s the biggest (read: only) star.

Supersonic doesn’t take the train, like any superhero he can fly. Well, flying… it does look like the actor is busy pretending to swim in the air. Go lie on a bench and move your body first 10° to the left and then 20° to the right. Keep doing that, add a blue screen and you too can fly.
To make us believe the movie was shot in the US, Supersonic often flies in the air with parts of New York in the background. Unfortunately, that’s the only reason these scenes were made, so basically you’re just watching a man in a silly suit pretending he can fly while you’re watching a tourist promo video of New York.

Supersonic Man, Man of WoodSupersonic’s suit may give you a few chuckles, but what really got me rolling on the floor is the scene where the professor’s daughter (Patricia) is chased by gangsters.
Just when it looks like her car is going to hit a bulldozer, Supersonic lifts it up with one hand.
Though, why a bulldozer is standing in the middle of a forest road beats me, just as it’s quite fascinating to see the bulldozer is actually made of wood. The crooks try to avoid hitting the bulldozer, drive down a hill and for some reason that should explain why their car explodes.

The bulldozer scene is featured quite early in the movie, so it’s best to stay on the floor.
Don’t crawl back into your couch as an avalanche of bad scenes is still coming your way: bad special effects (toy helicopters anyone?), cheesy humour and even more bad special effects (toy houses?).
Oh, have I already mentioned that the plot is hard to follow and some plot lines commence but neverlead to anything? Frankly, “Mulholland Drive” is easier to follow.

Fear the robot!

To make things even worse, this Spanish action movie (let’s use that phrase lightly) is dubbed in university English.
When the giant robot bursts into the professor’s lab to kidnap him, the professor states: “What kind of tomfoolery is this?” One has to admire those academics, if not for their vocabulary, then for the fact that he doesn’t start laughing when the giant and fierce (and frankly slow) robot appears.

Juan Piquer Simon is sometimes compared to Ed Wood, but at least Wood had a vision (a vision hindered by a budget, but still a vision).
“Supersonic Man” however is a work that makes “Killer Crocodile” look like a masterpiece. Which in its own right is quite special.