20. Monster Dog (1984)
Alice Cooper is no stranger to horror, but his first leading role is strictly for aficionados of strange cinema.
Directed by the incomparable Claudio Fragasso (Troll 2), Monster Dog delivers everything you’d expect from an Italian cheapie – bad acting, terrible dubbing and a nonsense plot. Cleverly cast against type as a rock star, Cooper returns to his hometown after a twenty-year hiatus, his arrival coinciding with a spate of grisly homicides.
This is too close to home for Coop, whose father was stricken with “a heart disease that transforms the patient into some kind of madman, a beast that goes howling at the moon” and went on his own rampage twenty years earlier. A torch-bearing mob eventually curtailed his lunar activities but, naturally enough, their ancestors don’t believe in coincidences and arrive at the singer’s house with their guns drawn, so picture their surprise when the real monster turns up to pick them off one by one.
19. Sting Of Death (1965)
Here’s the one you’ve been waiting for: a movie about a man-jellyfish hybrid who attacks bikinied starlets while Neil Sedaka sings “Do The Jellyfish”, a ska-tinged number that encourages the listener to “Forget your Cinderella/ And do the jella/ The jilla jalla jella/ It’s really kinda swella/ To do the jalla jellyfish.”
So enamoured of this finger-snapping froth are the cast that they fail to notice the hybrid has taken up residence in their pool, which comes as something of a surprise to the first drunken bimbo to dive in fully clothed. However, given the hilariously unconvincing costume, you’d think it’d be hard to miss.
Wearing flippers, a wetsuit adorned with beads and an inflated trashbag over his head that gives him an uncomfortable resemblance to Family Guy’s Stewie Griffin, actor Doug Hobart whisks his victims away to polystyrene cave furnished with a fish tank, TV antennae and a machine with dials and flashing lights. Once inside, he proceeds to….well, let’s not go there.
18. Lady Terminator (1989)
This is your typical Indonesian Terminator rip-off – the villain is the South Sea Queen of Asian folklore, whose sexual partners lose their pride and joy to the eel between her legs. When one Gentleman caller removes the eel, the Queen vows to avenge the “insult” by returning to claim the man’s ancestors.
A century later, the Queen possesses a bikini-clad ‘anthropologist’, causing her to act and dress like an Austrian bodybuilder. So far out so good, but then it really kicks into gear as director H Tjut Djalil rips scenes straight from James Cameron’s movie, including a shoot-out at a Tech Noir-ish bar and a sequence where our injured antagonist makes a pit stop to address her wounds.
The running gun battles are probably the least interesting part of a movie with this much blood, nudity, stupidity, bad hair and laughable dialogue, the kind of experience that words alone could not do justice to. Sure, it’s a knock-off, but it’s the brashest, craziest, most unapologetically outrageous knock-off you’re likely to see, whose sheer chutzpah makes it a much better bet than Terminator Genisys.
17. Teenagers From Outer Space (1959)
When a group of youthful, English-speaking ‘Martians’ (named Thor, Moreal, Saul and Derek) arrive in Bronson Canyon in a flying saucepan lid, it’s revealed they intend to use Earth as a breeding ground for their Gargon herd (lobster puppets shown in silhouette), a plan that alarms the hippie-ish Derek. He’s been reading their history and has “learned how it once was….families, brothers and sisters. There was happiness. There was love.”
You see, these Martians are from a race so overdeveloped they’ve lost their humanity, have never known the meaning of family and passionlessly execute each task without question (also, not much acting experience).
Switching his allegiances, Derek’s attempt at sounding the alarm brings him into contact with Betty (Dawn Anderson) and her Grandpa (Ed Wood regular Harvey B Dunn), who are so unperturbed by the sight of a bizarrely-garbed young man with no belongings or means of support that they allow him to live with them rent-free, unaware his former colleagues are in lukewarm pursuit.
Strange but true: director Tom Graeff later underwent a nervous breakdown and changed his name to “Jesus Christ II.”
16. Humanoids From The Deep (1980)
It’s the Carter era, so pessimism is understandably rife, especially in the Californian fishing village of Noyo, where livelihoods are threatened by dwindling fish stocks. As is standard procedure, the local salmon cannery hires a marine biologist to treat the fish with an experimental growth hormone that has the unfortunate side effect of producing monsters that wade ashore with the unspeakable on their minds.
Which, if you think about it, was bound to happen. When you genetically engineer salmon to grow faster and develop larger brains, naturally they’re going to turn into a bunch of guys in rubber costumes who’ll invade your town, kill your dogs and carry off your daughter so she can give birth to something with gills in the final scene.
Produced by Roger Corman, Humanoids is way trashier than anything you’ve ever watched on the SyFy Channel. It’s the quintessential sleazefest, never missing an opportunity to have its female characters model swimwear, go skinny-dipping or be abducted by rubber-suited monsters for breeding purposes, but if you think there’s little more to the proceedings than tit shots, you’re sadly mistaken. There’s bloodletting also.
15. Shriek Of The Mutilated (1974)
It’s going out on a limb to call this Z-grade exploitation classic the first film to rip off Scooby Doo, but consider the plot. An academic recruits four students – a handsome blond jock, a danger-prone damsel in distress, a beatnik and a short bookworm – to accompany him on a “research expedition” that involves searching for a Yeti in (where else?) upstate New York.
After ignoring a Dire Warning from a Creepy Stranger, the group drive to an Isolated Cabin in a van with flower decals on the side, encounter a Weird Housekeeper and are chased by a monster, whose appearance causes the bookworm to fall and lose her glasses. Naturally, they set a trap for the monster. Naturally, it fails.
The monster is eventually revealed as the academic in a shabby costume, who in this R-rated version also turns out to be a cannibal. You see, his plan was to lure the kids to the cabin, kill them and devour them, which – spoiler alert – he does in the downbeat ending.
14. Junk (2000)
If you’re looking for a movie about a jewel thief fighting an undead army ruled by a naked zombie queen, look no further. After ripping off Reservoir Dogs with The Score (1995), director Atsushi Moroga again pays ‘homage’ to Quentin Tarantino with another botched heist movie, this time pitting his protagonists against walking corpses. Call it From Dusk Till Dawn Of The Dead.
Following a bungled robbery, three men and their female getaway driver escape to a US Army facility in Japan, unaware it’s being used to store the “experiments” of a crazed scientist who has developed DNX, a serum that can reanimate the dead. This leads to ninety minutes of watching our heavily armed protagonists fight walking corpses, whose female leader likes bad wigs and gratuitous nudity.
Like Tarantino, Moroga can stage a gun battle and loves comic book violence, but his make-up effects are substandard and the ‘acting’ of the supporting players, whose scenes appear to have been tacked-on to expand the running time, is mostly good for laughs. If you can put that aside, Junk is everything a gangsters-versus-zombies movie ought to be – loads of fun.
13. Doctor Of Doom (1963)
Assisted by Gomar, an ape with a human brain, Professor Ruiz kidnaps young women for his brain transplant experiments, but one of his victims turns out to be the sister of Gloria Venus, Mexico’s most famous female wrestler, who teams up with her colleague Golden Rubi to take revenge.
Words alone cannot express how much dumb, delirious fun this movie is to watch: as well as the expected bad dubbing and obvious stunt doubles, there’s some hilariously awful makeup and a hammy villain whose motivation appears to have been to give Vincent Price’s Dr Goldfoot a run for his money.
Strangest of all (discuss) is the sequence where the Prof transplants Gomar’s brain into the body of a luchadora named Vendetta before sending her (him?) to kill our heroines.
12. Blood Freak (1972)
Leave it to Brad Grintner, the director that set Veronica Lake against Adolf Hitler in Flesh Feast (1970), to come up with this Z-grade oddity, surely the greatest film where a stoner turns into a turkey and rampages through a town cutting off limbs with a circular saw.
You see, Herschell (Steve Hawkes) needs cash for his habit, so he agrees to take part in trials at his local turkey ranch, where the animals have been fed an experimental growth hormone. Faster than you can say Thanksgiving, Herschell grows a hilarious papier mache turkey head and develops a close attachment to his power tools.
In the best scene, he attempts to reconcile with his girlfriend. “Gosh, you sure are ugly,” she tells him. “If we got married, what kind of life would we have? What would our children look like?”
11. Night Of The Bloody Apes (1969)
6 years after Doctor Of Doom, director Rene Cardona remade the film in colour with added gore and nudity, but excised the crime fighting duo from the original. There’s still a luchadora (who wears a bright red devil costume, complete with horns), though her impact on the narrative is reduced to a few wrestling scenes and a sequence where she answers the telephone in the nude.
Instead, the plot centres on Dr Krallman, one of those B-movie scientists who thinks the only way to cure his son’s leukaemia is to steal a gorilla from the local zoo and transplant its heart into the boy’s body, which turns out to be a really bad idea. Transforming into a broader actor in a bad makeup job, the boy wanders across Mexico, ogling showering senoritas and tearing apart anyone who gets in his way.
Considered ‘shocking’ in the UK, Apes was one of the original Video Nasties and wasn’t legally available until 1999. Don’t believe it: this is a cheesy good time, a mad melee of fake gore, awkward dubbing, technical goofs and laughable dialogue.