14. The Babysitter (1995)
One of those rare pictures that delivers more than the trailer promises, The Babysitter is a blast of vintage sleaze whose attempts to shock and exploit take precedence over logic and motivation, resulting in an abundance of unbelievable caricatures behaving in dumb (and uproarious) ways.
Our heroine is Candy (nudge), one of those free-thinking young women who just wants to smoke pot, dance naked and tell some groovy guy, “Man, I dig you, you turn me on.” She’s also cranking the handle of an aging prosecutor who’s seeking refuge from the pent-up, Bridge-playing sobersides that blames him for everything wrong with their marriage.
What Candy doesn’t realize is that her squeeze already has a grown daughter, who some thugs are threatening to out as a lesbian (this is 1969, you see). You know you’re watching a classy movie when the filmmakers take a “show, don’t tell” approach to the girl’s sexuality, lingering on the poolside smooching and ear-nibbling before the actresses hit the sauna for some serious ‘method acting.’
13. Microwave Massacre (1983)
When a construction worker acquires a taste for female flesh after killing and eating his wife, he tells his psychiatrist, “I can’t make love to a woman unless I eat her.” Misunderstanding his patient, the psychiatrist advises him to stick to his current path, assuring him that chicks LOVE that sort of thing.
So begins Microwave Massacre, a comedy whose ‘hero’ says things like “I’m so hungry, I could eat a whore!” and throws dinner parties where he serves “Peking chick.” Eventually, his friends also develop a taste for cooked flesh, so it’s not long before he’s taking an axe to strippers and call girls he slow cooks to perfection in his microwave.
There are movies that present cannibalism as a shocking, taboo-breaking subject, movies that consider it fair game for gallows humour and then there’s Microwave Massacre, where naked starlets are smeared in grease and sliced in half. It’s not clever, not subtle and you certainly wouldn’t call it well-made, but there are enough echoes of Blood Feast and A Bucket Of Blood to make it worth a look.
12. Burial Ground (1981)
Leave to Andrea Bianchi, the director of the Italian classics Exciting Love Girls and Strip Nude For Your Killer, to crank out one of the sleazier imitations of George Romero’s zombie films.
Confining his protagonists, who look 20 years too old to be acting like horny teenagers, to a scenic Italian mansion, Bianchi has one character model lingerie for her man, who tells her: “You look just like a little whore – I like that!” As another couple argue about cash, the boyfriend says: “I’ll give you a rise, but it has nothing to do with money.” You get the idea.
Creepiest of all is young Michael who, in between fighting zombies, decides to declare his “true feelings” for his mother by unbuttoning her blouse. Thankfully, he dies horribly in the next scene, but when he returns from the grave, it’s not to eat his mother’s brains.
11. Supersonic Man (1979)
By uttering the phrase “May the great force of the galaxy be with me” into his wristwatch, a mild-mannered reporter transforms into Kronos, aka Supersonic Man, the Spanish version of Superman. His powers include the ability to see through walls, lift bulldozers (once they’ve turned into wooden props) and turn handguns into bananas, though he spends most of the film being dangled in front of rear-projected aerial footage while chintzy music plays.
He’s on Earth to stop Dr Gulik (Cameron Mitchell), an evil genius who lives in a toy model volcano (accessible only by wire-supported helicopters) with a robot guard that’s either Marvin the paranoid android’s big brother or an escapee from Santa Claus Conquers The Martians.
A sub-Bond villain must have a sub-Bond masterplan and the doc’s seems to revolve around forcing a “famous” and “brilliant” scientist to create a laser that’ll allow him to rule the world. Nothing comes of it because Gulik spends the whole movie puttering around the ‘sets’ quoting Shakespeare and comparing himself to Julius Caesar until Sonic turns up and puts the kibosh on the enterprise with suspicious ease.
10. Abby (1974)
If you’re going to rip off The Exorcist, this is the way to do it: by turning it into a Blaxploitation movie where the climactic exorcism takes place in a discotheque.
From the dialogue (“Whatever possessed you to do a thing like that?”), through the heroine’s hilariously unconvincing transformation into a potty-mouthed demon in pancake make-up, to a scene where she violently checks herself out of hospital (“I’m going home, bitch!”), there’s enough here to make you wonder if the filmmakers were sending themselves up.
Best of all is the sequence where the possessed Abby, who’s also a marriage guidance counsellor, informs a couple that their problems stem not from an inability to share their feelings but from their lousy sex life. She tells the wife: “I’m gonna take your husband upstairs and f**k the s**t out of him!”
9. Zombie Creeping Flesh (1980)
Full of stock footage, technical goofs, saucer-eyed ‘actors’ and laughably cheap effects, Zombie Creeping Flesh is an incoherent mess from start to finish that deserves to seen by all lovers of ‘So Bad It’s Good’ cinema.
At a chemical plant in New Guinea, a research project codenamed Operation Sweet Death backfires (what’re the odds?), turning the workforce into pasty-faced flesh eaters. As luck would have it, a hostage rescue team armed with a million rounds of ammunition just happens to be in the neighbourhood, so they blow the undead to smithereens.
The film’s first cut reportedly contained so much unusable material that most of it was junked and re-shot, with documentary footage haphazardly edited into the narrative, which perhaps explains why the first thirty minutes feels like three different films overlapping. Exactly why the female lead decides at one point to undress and paint her body, however, remains a mystery.
8. Blood Feast (1963)
We get a taste of what’s in store in Blood Feast’s trailer, which opens with actor William Kerwin announcing that the following picture “Contains scenes which under no circumstances should be viewed by anyone with a heart condition or anyone who is easily upset.” Thus intrigued, we’re shown a succession of ‘highlights’, including bashed-in heads, ripped-out hearts and torn-off limbs. To make sure we fully understand, an onscreen caption reads: “Nothing so appalling in the annals of horror!”
Viewed today, of course, the picture looks as cheap and sloppy as Plan 9 From Outer Space. ‘Actors’ attempt to express shock by raising their hands to their faces, show their consternation by crossing their arms and try to look pensive by touching their chin. The lead detective, though a “keen student” of Egyptian folklore, can’t connect the wave of mutilation murders and the weird local caterer (who dyes his hair and eyebrows the same ash grey) who’s planning an “Egyptian feast.” And then there’s Connie Mason.
Performing her part as though she were reading the script aloud into the mirror, the Playmate is a fascinatingly vacuous lead, the perfect choice for a film that’s laughably amateurish in every respect. Blood Feast, as director Herschell Gordon Lewis claimed, is like a Walt Whitman poem – it’s no good, but it’s the first of its type.