8. Neutron The Atomic Superman Vs The Death Robots (1962)
Latvian-born Wolf Ruvinskis, a villain in Santo Vs The Martian Invasion, is upgraded to hero in this cheap and campy 1962 entry, but don’t go thinking that his crime fighter is simply a Santo knock-off – Neutron wears a black mask, so he’s a completely different character.
His opponent is Dr Caronte, a supervillain in the Nicolas Cage mould, which means that he has three settings: twitchy, over the top and MWAHAHAHA!!! When the pair last met, in Neutron And The Black Mask, the crime fighter put the kibosh on his scheme to build a bomb, so this time the doc isn’t taking any chances and creates a robot army to help him take over the world.
The doc’s evil masterplan involves stealing the brains of three scientists (literally – he keeps them in jars) and using their stored knowledge to create another super-powerful bomb, although given that he wears a white mask, employs a dwarf assistant and is given to camp theatrics, he shouldn’t prove too hard to track down and defeat.
7. Strike Commando II (1988)
Don’t worry if you haven’t seen Strike Commando I because this sequel features a different actor and has more on its mind than being just another Rambo clone.
The director is Bruno Mattei, who doesn’t make movies so much as recreate scenes from Hollywood blockbusters on a budget of half a shoestring. This becomes apparent early on when Mattei restages Raiders Of The Lost Ark’s drinking game and its subsequent brawl, throwing in some ninjas for good measure as well as John Williams’ score.
More ‘homages’ follow: a recreation of Predator’s ‘killing the scorpion’ sequence; a torture scene that switches from Raiders (red-hot poker) to Lethal Weapon (snapping your opponent’s neck with your feet); a climactic one-on-one in the mud that must’ve given Mel Gibson and Gary Busey déjà vu and, best of all, Lost Ark’s truck chase restaged at 15mph, with clearly terrified performers clinging to the vehicles for dear life.
6. War Of The Gargantuas (1966)
A monster known as Green Gargantua, who looks like a stuntman in a moss-covered ape suit, is on the loose, so the authorities turn to Dr Stuart (Russ Tamblyn), who’s dealt with giant monsters before (this is Tokyo, after all).
No sooner has the doc answered his door than another Gargantua, this one with brown body hair and an unfortunate resemblance to Kenny Rogers, turns up to wreak similar havoc. This leads Stuart to speculate that the creatures are brothers, spawned when stray DNA grew on protein-rich plankton….or something. It doesn’t matter because they return to demolishing the sets a moment later, turning on each other when Green’s habit of snacking on the supporting cast causes Brown to lose his cool.
Being a Toho production, most of the third act is given over to their climactic smack down, and even by this studio’s standards, it’s awesome. Buildings are flattened by the dozen, boats become weapons and Brown laughs his ass off at Green’s martial arts pose.
There’s a lot of fun here, and we would’ve sat through a third instalment even if it whisked the monsters into space for a really incomprehensible plot, but Toho had a better idea: they decided to pit Godzilla against a giant beetle and a shapeshifting robot in Godzilla Vs Megalon (1973).
5. Girls For Rent (aka I Spit On Your Corpse, 1974)
When Women For Sale became a hit for their company Independent-International, Sam Sherman and Al Adamson came up with the title Girls For Rent, chose porn star Georgina Spelvin to play the lead villainess and made sure the film was loaded with enough action, sleaze and tit shots to entertain the drive-in crowd.
When she’s sprung from jail by a gangster whose entourage consists of bikinied bad girls, Spelvin accepts a position in his organization and is handed the murder of a politician as her first assignment. Hiring a call girl to poison his pre-coitus Brandy, however, turns out to be a bad idea when the girl, realizing she’s been set up, freaks out and bails. Accompanied by the gangster’s right-hand woman, Spelvin is then in hot pursuit before her quarry can reach Mexico.
With its simple (some might say threadbare) narrative in which feisty, quick-to-disrobe females figure prominently, Adamson touches upon Russ Meyer territory, only without Faster Pussycat Kill Kill Kill’s memorable dialogue and characters (no Tura Satana, either).
4. Enter The Ninja (1981)
Enter The Ninja’s credit sequence tells you what to expect: after demonstrating his proficiency with throwing stars, nunchaku, a blowpipe etc., Sho Kosugi’s black ninja is knocked out by Franco Nero’s white ninja, whose flying kick doesn’t even connect. Credibility is then thrown further to the winds during an opening sequence where Nero, who’s about as convincing a martial artist as Chris Farley in Beverley Hills Ninja, singlehandedly disposes of an army of red ninjas (wouldn’t life be boring if all ninjas looked the same?).
Later on, Nero goes to visit an “old army buddy” who despite living in a mansion and being married to Susan George isn’t doing so good. He’s being strong-armed out of his property by a hook-handed goon in the employ of Mr Venarius, a cackling villain played by City of the Living Dead’s Christopher “no relation” George.
When Nero realizes this, we know that he’s going to “send Mr Venarius a message”, and he does: he beats the tar out of George’s henchmen, who’re so badly trained they stand around waiting to get hit. Clearly out of his depth, George then hires Kosugi, and you can probably guess the rest.
3. Santo Vs The Martian Threat (1967)
Have you ever noticed how visitors from outer space always speak the language of the country they’re invading? Not only are the Martians in this entry fluent in Spanish, they even resemble the race they’re attempting to conquer. You can still tell they’re aliens, though – the men wear hats without a shirt.
The only person capable of stopping them is Santo, who the Martians call “the one that dresses strangely” (“pot”, “kettle”, “black”, anyone?). He challenges them to a wrestling match, which must be popular on Mars because they accept immediately, then once Santo starts kicking their butts they head back to their spaceship that – spoiler alert – just happens to have a self-destruct lever in the middle of the room.
In a movie with no shortage of did-I-just-see-that moments, the best has to be the sequence where the Martians use their “Transformation Chamber” to allow them to pass for human, even though all it does is alter their hair and clothes. Furthering their anonymity, they adopt such everyday names as Argos, Kronos and Aphrodite, which is odd because the actors call themselves Wolf Ruvinskis, Natanael Leon Frankenstein and El Nazi.
2. Cobra (1986)
All judges and suit-and-tie police Captains want to do is protect the rights of violent criminals, who go free on a technicality and commit the same offence again seventy-two hours later. That’s why we need cops like Marion ‘Cobra’ Cobretti, a loner who disobeys the rules and gets the job done. Where the law stops….he begins.
Exploiting the fear of crime as shamelessly (and cartoonishly) as Rambo: First Blood Part II exploited concerns about American POWs, Sylvester Stallone once again proves his patriotism by annihilating everything in sight. Fortunately, Cobra’s bad guys are easy to spot: they’re a sweaty, humourless bunch of over-actors who, in between banging axes together in a warehouse, talk about “the way of the new world.”
His colleagues wear suits, but Cobra prefers jeans, designer shirts, sunglasses and a matchstick that occupies a corner of his mouth for the entire movie. Whenever he caps a bad guy, he either twirls his weapon or pulls a ‘cool’ firing stance, just like Robocop. He says stuff like, “I don’t deal with psychos, I put ‘em away.” He tells one creep, “You’re the disease, I’m the cure.” Thank God he’s on our side.
1. Undefeatable (1994)
Released straight to video, Undefeatable became a YouTube sensation in later years when its (literally) eye popping finale was viewed over 7 million times, much to the amusement of actor Don Niam.
Niam plays Stingray, a mullet-haired, bug-eyed psycho with a tendency to experience childhood flashbacks while looking in the mirror. He’s also a dab hand at multi-tasking, capable of raping his wife while cooking a steak, but when his other half bails, he goes out and kills every woman who reminds him of her.
Unfortunately, not only do all his victims know kung-fu (albeit of the TNT Jackson variety), but he also crosses the path of waitress-by-day, streetfighter-by-night Cynthia Rothrock, who’s serving doughnuts and snapping collarbones to pay her sister’s tuition. When sis hits the slab, Rothrock gets the movie’s one big emoting scene, which she performs standing over an eyeless dummy before heading out for revenge.
Author Bio: Ian Watson writes about film for one reason – to encourage people to watch films like Starcrash instead of that drivel where cars turn into robots and save the world. Every time one of those pictures makes money, an angel dies and falls from Heaven.