6. Things (1989)
Things was made for the shot-on-video market in the late ‘80s by a bunch of beer-swilling hosers who apparently have no idea how people in general function, let alone how movies function. In fact, one may be convinced that the men who star in this thing are really aliens in disguise who got all their information on how humans human by getting high off some sort of space peyote while using a beaten-up copy of Strange Brew as their only source of guidance.
A man has a friend and brother over to drink beer while his pregnant wife gives birth to flesh-eating ant-creatures in the basement, the result of a misguided fertility experiment.
That plot description is more lucid than the film itself, which alternates between cheap but aggressive out-of-nowhere gore effects and scenes of the most laidback protagonists to ever face evil in a horror movie. Also, porn star Amber Lynn drops in every once in awhile to play moviedom’s least convincing newscaster in moviedom’s least convincing news studio.
7. Lady Terminator (1989)
The Italian’s aren’t the only ones who specialize in cinematic highway robbery; the budget-challenged auteurs working deep in Indonesia also loved to create their own bonkers variations on hit American movies. You can probably guess what Lady Terminator is a distaff variation of; what’s surprising is that not only does it steal the title and basic plot of James Cameron’s iconic scifi hit, but it steals lines and scenes wholesale.
Instead of time travel, it uses local folklore to create its Terminator: a young American woman who is possessed by the spirit of an ancient Sea Queen looking to take vengeance on the pop singer descendant of the warrior that once vanquished her.
Along the way she leaves a trail of castrated male corpses in her wake — the price of having sex with our antagonist without pleasuring her to her satisfaction. The localized Indonesian flourishes add color and zest to the outrageously cheap and hilariously misguided recreations of Cameron.
8. Death Spa (1989)
This is also known as Witch Bitch, which should tell you all you need to know about how deep this offbeat bit of late ‘80s horror schlock is. The film is basically a low-rent precursor to the Final Destination franchise, asking us to get our rocks off to twisted, gory setpieces in which the equipment as a high tech gym turn against the men and women using it.
It all traces back to the proprietor’s jealous and literally witchy ex-wife. It’s cheesy as hell and not at all scary, but it’s daftly entertaining nonsense worthy of a cult audience, particularly those that lovethe steam-and-neon soaked gooniness of horror circa 1988 — and it has one of the best exploding heads this side of Scanners.
9. Pieces (1982)
If Pieces wasn’t bad, it would be a whole lot worse. If the film was made by someone, anyone, with an iota of competence, if it had been genuinely creepy and scary and well made, well, then, the film’s utterly misanthropic misogyny would be unbearable — it’d be sleaze of the worst order.
But Pieces is so poorly made that one can’t really be offended at its gore-soaked idiocy — it’s far too dumb to be truly offensive. But the dumbness that makes its guttural nastiness palatable also raises the film to a transcendent level of bone-headed greatness.
The film is a basic slasher film: a killer is prowling a college campus, killing sorority girls and claiming a piece from each to create his (or her) own perfect woman. On paper, that plotline sounds like the slasher film at its grottiest and most negligable, but in practice it feels like the final English translation of a script that played Telephone through about 50 different languages. Nothing and no one in this entire film makes sense.
So why not having a hulking, leering, chainsaw wielding brute glomp around the periphery as if his name was Red Herring? Why not have a kung fu character who has no bearing on the plot pop up for one scene to bust out some sweet chopsocky moves? Why not end the film on a nonsensical jump scare stolen from Carrie designed to emasculate the lead hero? Why not?
10. Voyage of the Rock Aliens (1984)
Musicals are one of the genres of films to screw up. Even at their best, they are often pretty damn cheesy (how often do you know of people just randomly busting out into song and dance?) but the cheesiness, when done right, can actually transport one into a universe of unadulterated joy and happiness.
However, when done wrong that transcendent nature will come crashing to the ground with a leaden thump, skimming off the sweet, sweet cream of joyous spirit and leaving only the curdled whey of exaggerated goofiness. That creates a different kind of absurdist joy, where we get to watch people act in strange, unnatural ways.
Almost like aliens. And, wouldn’t you know it, aliens are the heart of this film. Rock aliens to be exact on a voyage to Earth, where these New Wave E.T’s form a band to square off against some rockabilly throwbacks over the affection of bad movie staple Pia Zadora. Casting Pia Zadora is all the cake that you need to know you are probably entering bad movie bliss.
But, okay, you need more — well a giant octopus and a pair of serial killers also factor into the inanely overstuffed plot of this science fiction music extravaganza.
Author Bio: Johnny Donaldson is a Massachusetts-based actor, producer and film critic who is probably drinking a craft beer and petting his cats when he isn’t watching movies.