8. Muck (2015)
When Steve Wolsh’s debut feature was sneaked out on DVD, armchair critics opined that it didn’t make any sense, presumably unaware that it’s the second film in a proposed trilogy.
They also pointed to the over-reliance on female nudity, which is….okay, that’s pretty accurate. When the villains are offscreen, viewer interest is maintained by “internet sensation” Lauren Francesca who spends the entire film running around in her underwear. Soaked in blood after dispatching one of the killers, Francesca imitates Carmen Electra in Scary Movie and washes off when the lawn sprinkler activates.
No, it’s not a movie with an IQ in double digits, but Wolsh delivers a surprisingly energetic slasher that pays affectionate homage to the genre while channelling the spirit of Russ Meyer. Plus, how can you not like a movie that takes place in a town called “West Craven”?
7. Invasion Of The Bee Girls (1973)
Why do top-level scientists keep turning up dead due to “sexual exhaustion”? It’s something to do with a mysterious woman in wraparound sunglasses whose research project has created human/insect hybrids that, stuck in their reproductive cycle, continue mating until their partner expires.
Wait, it gets better: when the morgue fills up with middle-aged men who all claimed to be “working late”, the grieving widows are abducted and transformed into Bee Girls by being stripped naked, smothered in beeswax and left in a transformation chamber from which they emerge wearing black contact lenses. So the local Sheriff advises sexual abstinence, unaware he’s appearing in a movie where all the supporting female players are played by strippers, Playmates and porn queens, which renders his authority….impotent.
You wouldn’t know it from the nudity-heavy trailer, but the script is by Nicholas Meyer (The Seven Per Cent Solution, Star Trek II), who isn’t considered a grindhouse aficionado. Tellingly, there’s a credit for a “Script Consultant” (“Rewrite Man”), so whenever characters discuss psychosomatic death, it’s Meyer, and whenever the women are naked….you get the idea.
6. Santo And Dracula’s Treasure aka El Vampiro Y El Sexo (1969)
El Santo isn’t just Mexico’s most famous wrestler – he’s also a top scientist who’s just built a time machine, and in order to study the effects of time travel (or something) he sends a colleague’s daughter back through time, little realizing she’ll end up being menaced by Dracula and his topless vampire babes.
For most of the first half, this feels like two films spliced together as the period footage barely connects with the modern scenes, but when El Santo and his colleagues come to the girl’s aid the movie shifts into high gear and turns into a camp delight somewhere between Hammer’s gothic and Adam West-era Batman.
Of particular note is Santo’s comic relief sidekick, who wears thick-rimmed glasses, a dollar sign around his neck and speaks in a high-pitched whine in between performing pratfalls. Then there’s Mexican Dracula himself, portrayed by a bad actor in a bad makeup job, who wants to stop Santo from stealing his treasure and donating it to the poor.
5. Samurai Princess (2009)
From the writer of Tokyo Gore School and the FX team behind Meatball Machine comes Samurai Princess, which casts Japanese porn star Aino Kishi as a genetically modified warrior who takes takes revenge on the bandits that left her and her friends for dead.
Rebooted as a ninja android by a mad scientist, her built-in weapons include swords, chainsaws and explosives, including a very special kind of “booby trap.” She’s still anatomically correct, though, and reveals as much to the viewer whenever the villains are offscreen.
Along the way, faces are sliced in half, a man’s brain is removed so that Kishi can “question it directly” and skeletons are torn from bodies. In one scene, Kishi cuts off one unfortunate’s nose, ears and hands before serving them up in a stew to his colleagues, disproving the adage that revenge is a dish best served cold.
4. The Centerfold Girls (1975)
The first portmanteau softcore slasher movie, The Centerfold Girls exists because of a questionnaire sent to Drive-in operators that enquired about their willingness to show a picture with nudity and horror. “They responded enthusiastically,” says director John Peyser. “So we made the picture.”
Comprising of three segments linked only by a killer (Andrew Prine) who stalks the eponymous starlets, The Centerfold Girls kicks off with Prine’s pursuit of nurse Jackie (Jaime Lynn Bauer), whose home is invaded by a sinister hippy and her druggy friends. Jackie escapes and seeks help at a nearby hotel, but not only is the owner a scumbag (he’s played by Aldo Ray, after all), Prine just happens to be his latest guest, showing up when all seems safe.
Peyser whisks us to a deserted island for the second section, where a trio of models, a male actor, a female agent and (of course) a sleazy photographer gather for a shoot. This results in the movie’s highest body count when black-garbed Prine appears, razor in hand, to spoil their good time. Whether making unwanted advances or spiking a girl’s drink, the menfolk don’t come off too well here, so come the third story it’s time for Prine to come unstuck courtesy of real-life Playmate Tiffany Bolling.
3. Tombs Of The Blind Dead (1971)
If you go down to the abandoned medieval town of Berzano today, you’re in for a big surprise. The Templar Knights, who were excommunicated for worshipping the Devil (and taking an unwholesome interest in busty young women), have returned from the grave as hooded skeletal zombies who roam the town on horseback, seeking anyone foolish enough to be out after dark.
This being sleazy 70s Eurohorror, the victims are mostly beautiful women who have a problem remaining clothed and think the best defence is to back screaming into a corner. When one such damsel spends the night in Berzano’s cathedral, she’s attacked and left for dead but rises from her slab and attacks the creepy morgue assistant, who in turn attacks the rest of the cast, and so on.
The first part of director Amando De Ossorio’s Blind Dead quartet, Tombs Of The Blind Dead has more in common with Jean Rollin’s erotic artistry than George Romero’s apocalyptic vision, and marked a career high for De Ossorio, who followed up the picture with the equally berserk Return Of The Evil Dead.
2. The Hills Run Red (2009)
The title leads you to expect The Asylum’s version of The Hills Have Eyes, but Dave Parker’s movie is closer to a synthesis of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Cigarette Burns, John Carpenter’s first Masters Of Horror episode. To the gratitude of trash aficionados everywhere, it’s heavier on the blood and nudity than either.
Back in the 80s, The Hills Run Red was a horror movie by one Wilson Wyler Concannon that was pulled from theatres when audiences thought its extreme violence looked a little too real. Years later, Concannon’s daughter Alexa (Sophie Monk) resurfaces and a documentary crew whose leader is obsessed by the film attempts to track her down, little realizing that she’s not what she appears to be.
Naturally enough, the crew finds her working in a titty bar, which sets the tone for the rest of the movie. There’s incest, torture, death by flying axe and a scene where a young fella cuts off his face with scissors, so if that’s your cup of tea, tune in.
1. Vampire Killer Barbys (1996)
When it comes to Jess Franco’s films, it’s a tossup which is worst: the out-of-focus cinematography, the non-existent storylines or the glacial pacing. In short, Franco is not a director one goes to for ‘mere’ entertainment, so it’s a surprise to find him at the helm of this rousing sleazefest.
His protagonists here are real-life Spanish punk band Killer Barbies (with their name changed to placate Mattel) and the movie is essentially a promo for the Misfits-influenced group with several of their best songs on the soundtrack. Fronted by fiery Sylvia Superstar, who bears a passing resemblance to Sheri Moon Zombie, they flaunted their status as geek outsiders by singing about Charles Manson, comic books and Tromaville on a string of albums released 1995-2003, falling silent after 2003’s Sin Is In. A reappraisal is long overdue.
With its frontal nudity, gore and sleaze, Vampire Killer Barbys may not spearhead that renaissance but it’s amusing trash if watched in the right frame of mind (or an altered state) and light years ahead of the dreary follow-up, Killer Barbys Meet Dracula.
Appropriately for a band whose lyrics abound with film references, they find themselves in an old-fashioned b-movie with a gothic castle, scythe-wielding henchmen, dwarf assistants and a creepy servant, played by Aldo Sambrell, who supplies his Countess with the blood she needs to retain her youth. So it’s Countess Dracula meets Spiceworld, only with less taste and better music.