6. Space Raiders
We return again to Roger Corman and his quest to be the most frugal filmmaker of all time. Here, we encounter another interesting method of making the exploitation film, and it’s just as brilliant as the last.
After Star Wars, Corman’s New World Pictures seemed to be in trouble. Star Wars and Jaws were basically Corman movies with big budgets and they were making insane amount of money. In response, he decided to throw more money than he normally would at a movie called Battle Beyond The Stars, which was a hit and is now a cult classic. But the effects were expensive, and he was a frugal man. What to do, what to do…
The solution was to re-use the effects scenes for other movies, and that’s exactly what he did in Space Raiders, in which a rag-tag group of thieves and smugglers try to get a boy home whom they’ve accidentally taken aboard a ship they stole. The kid proves to be a boatload of trouble himself and probably causes more trouble than he’s worth, but he seems to move something in the amoral smugglers, who feel a sense of obligation towards him.
Honestly, it’s kind of a sweet-hearted movie, and that’s weird for a guy who normally makes movies where fish-monsters try to impregnate human women and naked ladies shoot Pilipinos out of trees. Not that this is devoid of his trademarks: there are plenty of aliens and laser fights, and, like most of his movies, it looks much more expensive that it really was. So while it might be a slight tonal step outside of his comfort zone — and a highly successful one at that — it’s still every bit recognizable as a Corman movie and one that you absolutely have to see.
Full disclosure: Monstroid sucks. The picture quality is horrific, the acting is even worse and the filmmakers didn’t seem to understand that nobody goes to see a movie to watch the characters discuss the plot. Even the monster’s terrible. This, however, does not dissuade me from recommending this movie, and the reason for that is twofold.
First, because bad guys movies are great, and we all like them, so why not? I’ve been crossing them off my list since I first discovered movies could be terrible, and this goal of mine — to find the worst movie ever made — has led me to discovering a real love for Ed Wood and H.G. Lewis. It’s been a fulfilling journey. And really, Monstroid might actually be worse than Manos: The Hands Of Fate (read: Hands: The Hands Of Fate for you non Spanish-speakers), so I say get into it.
And second, because of Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark, whose version you can find on the Shout Factory TV free streaming channel. Her show was amazing, campy and weird — and if her commentary is any indication, she thinks the movie is just as bad as you do. The breaks in the movie where she plays frisbee with a dog and takes calls from a crazy weirdo who likes bad jokes are welcome reprieves from a movie so bereft of enjoyment that it has to be seen to be believed.
8. Exterminators From The Year 3000
Exterminators has the enviable distinction of combining two great traditions in the exploitation field: it’s a rip-off movie, but done in the time-honoured Italian style, such as can be found in Lucio Fulci, Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci. From the moment the first car is shown on screen, and you hear the first bad dub, you’ll know exactly what you’re in for.
“Inspired by” The Road Warrior, Exterminators From The Year 3000 is about a world in which water is scarce after — you guessed it — a nuclear war which tore through the ozone layer. A young boy and a roguish man set off to find an alleged storehouse of the stuff, only to encounter marauding gangs of weirdos who’ll kill to get the water before they do — not to mention the pretty girl they pick up along the way.
Although not considered a classic by any means, Exterminators boasts some of the more exciting car scenes ever filmed for the B-pictures. It has explosions, people’s waists getting run over by trucks, bizarre and interesting contraptions used to kill people… I mean, we’re not here because we wanted to see movies that deal with the human condition, right?
Also and incredibly, 1970s cars survive well into the next millennium. They just don’t make ‘em like they used to.
9. Spawn Of The Slithis
Right off the top, I’d like to point out that, of all the taglines in all the world, none beats this one: “Hell hath no fury … like Slithis!” (Although The Time Guardian’s was “Time’s just about the only thing he won’t waste”, which is close.)
Spawn Of The Slithis is about a group of concerned citizens in Venice, California, who seek to destroy a mutant that’s been terrorizing the pets and denizens of that fair city. What follows is expert B-movie filmmaking, as the strange creature attacks and kills everything it sets its sights on, including a man making love to a teenager. While fairly bloodless by exploitation standards, it nonetheless features an impressive creature with a truly strange origin, that’s able to absorb and take the form of organic materials. At first glance, it might appear to be something you’ve seen before, but it’s not: it’s a unique and strange take on the Swamp Thing-type monster, but with a cooler name.
Now, let’s get this out of the way: it’s true, the reviews are bad. Roger Ebert even found it boring. But he also hated Joe Dirt and Freddy Got Fingered, so nuts to him. This is a great creature feature with an ending that recalls Jaws, but with a considerably cooler monster and — not to sound like a broken record — the single greatest tagline in history.
Long live Slithis.
Alright. I have a penchant for hyperbole. There are few things I enjoy which aren’t, to my mind, the greatest of “that thing” that there ever was. But let me be clear: Manborg is the greatest movie ever made. It’s better than Citizen Kane; it’s better than The Shawshank Redemption; it makes Goodfellas look about as interesting as a driveway.
After a scientist opens a gateway to Hell, the evil general Draculon proceeds to take over Earth one country at a time with his murderous demonic army. One of the victims of the war — killed by Draculon himself — is resurrected by the scientist as a part-man, part-machine Manborg, who, along with a martial arts expert, a girl who throws knives, and an Australian, compete in gladiatorial games with the intention of breaking free from slavery and liberating humanity.
As if the plot wasn’t insane enough, the entire movie was made on a budget of $1000 CAD using largely green screens, in a process that took three years. Obviously in love with the 80s, the director turns the movie into a maniacal, New Wave fever dream, featuring NES-era sound effects which, when played against the green screens, form a surreal, cartoonish aesthetic that’s entirely its own. Believe me: you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Manborg.
But that’s not all. Once the credits have rolled, a title card promises a preview to an upcoming attraction by the production company. It’s title is Bio-Cop and let me tell you: there is nothing that has ever existed in history, nor will exist in the future, that is as flat-out, no-holds-barred, ten thousand percent cool than Bio-Cop.
What exactly that means, I’ll leave it up to you to find out. Best of luck — once you know Bio-Cop, you’ll never know satisfaction again.