Category Archives: Drive-In/T & A

Please Don’t Eat My Mother! (1973)

please-dont-eat-my-mother

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: His flower eats people.

Henry Fudd (Buck Kartalian) is a man in his 40’s whose still living at home with his mother (Lynn Lundgren) and very down on life. One day while walking down the sidewalk he passes by an outdoor florist shop and becomes intrigued by a small plant that he is convinced spoke to him. He buys it and brings it home. As the weeks go on he realizes that the plant really can talk, but it also has an insatiable appetite and forces Henry to feed it. First it begins with insects, then dogs and then finally…people.

This is a low budget remake of Little Shop of Horrors, but it fails to have the same sense of fun and imagination. The biggest problem here is the plant itself. In the first film is was created in a way that made it seem kind of real, but here it looks quite tacky. The flower’s lips do not match the way it speaks making it look like very bad puppetry. Supposedly it can also see and hear, but nowhere on the thing are eyes and ears present. It grows to gargantuan heights and when it does so does the pot that it sits in, but how does that happen? Some may argue that Henry replants the flower into bigger pots as it grows, but this should’ve been either shown or inferred and it isn’t. The plant’s voice has a banal speaking quality like that of an airline stewardess with no interesting inflection. The way it eats people is equally boring. You never actually see it happen as the camera conveniently cuts away as the person moves in closer to it and then later cuts back with the plant burping and having acid indigestion.

The plot is threadbare and the majority of time has nothing to do with the central story. Instead the viewer gets treated to long, drawn out segments of couples making out in a car while our protagonist and a few other peeping toms look on. The sex by today’s standards is quite sterile and the innuendos that get bounced about wouldn’t elicit a chuckle from even a 7th grader.

The only thing that saves it to a degree is the performances by its cast. Kartalian, who at one time was a professional wrestler, is surprisingly engaging and I found his skipping down the city’s sidewalk after he buys the plant to be quite amusing. Lundgren as his meddling and snoopy mother is also funny even though she doesn’t look much older than him and in some ways could easily have been his same age. The film’s director Carl Monson is fun as well as he appears in a hammy bit as a police detective.

Unfortunately despite the noble efforts by its cast this thing is a cheesy mess and in no way worth seeking out while also being a complete embarrassment to all those involved.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: March 3, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 38Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Carl Monson

Studio: Box Office International Pictures

Available: DVD (Something Weird Video)

Linda Lovelace for President (1975)

linda-lovelace-1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 0 out of 10

4-Word Review: Vote for porn star.

The election is only a few months away and there are still no candidates running for President. Then someone suggests adult film star Linda Lovelace famous for her starring role in the porn classic Deep Throat. At first she is reluctant, but then after having a conversation with what she thinks is God she agrees, which then leads to many ‘zany’ and ‘comical’ adventures.

I don’t know where to even begin with this one except to say that it’s crap, pure and unadulterated crap that on any level isn’t worth anyone’s time. The gags are incredibly lame and there’s no real plot to speak. It’s also not very sexy, so if you’re considering checking it out just for that reason you might as well pass.

Lovelace isn’t all that attractive and certainly cannot compare to today’s porn stars. Maybe that sounds cruel and shallow to some, but let’s face it the selling point for this thing isn’t her acting talent. I think my biggest annoyance with her is her blank smile and stare and the way she delivers her lines almost like she is in some sort of hypnotic trance.

Had the film tried to keep things on a more real level and gone through some of the things a person who actually tried to run for President would go through than it might’ve had a chance and maybe even been really funny. Unfortunately we see none of that and there isn’t even any opposing Nixon-like candidate going against her. Instead it’s just a barrage of lame gags one after that other that wouldn’t amuse even a 4-year-old.

Chuck McCann has a few light-hearted moments as a racist senator near the beginning and later as an inept assassin, but otherwise there are no laughs to be had. It’s rare that I would ever suggest a porn flick over a feature film, but in this case I would. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, but Deep Throat even if you take out the sex scenes it’s still far better directed and more creative than this turkey, so if on a slow evening and you’re really desperate I’d pop that one in instead of this thing. In fact I’d rather watch an 8-hour video showing grass growing than this and believe me it would be far more interesting.

My Rating: 0 out of 10

Released: April 1, 1975

Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes

Rated R

Director: Claudio Guzman

Studio: General Film Corporation

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw (1976)

bobbi jo and the outlaw

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Looking for some kicks.

Lyle (Marjoe Gortner) is a quick draw with a gun and uses his ability to win many a contest, but when his car breaks down and he has no money to pay for the repair he decides to steal another and uses the vehicle’s souped-up engine to outrun any cop who’s after him. While stopping to eat at a drive-thru he spots attractive carhop Bobbi (Lynda Carter) who’s bored with her life and willing to take on a new adventure with a complete stranger if only to escape the clutches of her alcoholic mother (Peggy Stewart). They travel throughout New Mexico robbing banks while avoiding the relentless pursuit of Sheriff Hicks (Gene Drew) who pledges to bring them to justice dead or alive.

I was expecting something a little bit better than what I got here as it’s directed by the normally reliable Mark L. Lester with a script by Vernon Zimmerman who has helmed a few cult films of his own. Unfortunately it’s just a boring and uninspired rip-off of Bonnie and Clyde and Badlands filled with hooky dialogue and cardboard caricatures. If it weren’t for the action sequences this thing would’ve been a complete dud and comes close to being one anyways.

One of the biggest issues is the really dumb way the Bobbi Jo character decides to get with Lyle who has been stalking her for a while and parks his car outside of her home. She has no idea who he is or his name, but decides one day to hop into his car by calling him ‘loverboy’ and telling him to ‘take her away’ and all simply because she is bored. Now there are many ways to relieve boredom, but hopping into a strange man’s car isn’t one of them. Had she been strung-out on drugs, homeless, a prostitute, or suffering from some mental illness then it might have made more sense, but as it is it comes off as a really stupid way to set-up the plot and off-putting enough that it didn’t allow me to get into the rest of it.

Carter wasn’t a good choice for the part anyways as she does not come off as someone who is reckless or free-spirited. I remember watching her on the ‘Wonder Woman’ series during the late ‘70s and stories swirled that she was a real bitch/prima donna on the set who would slap actors if they messed up on their lines and would routinely make major demands. Her acting always seems rather restrained, formal, and proper like someone who was a privileged beauty queen-type growing up and who looked down on hippies as being ‘freaks’.

Belinda Balaski, who plays her friend Essie and tags along with the two on their crime spree, is far more effective and would’ve been a more believable Bobbi Jo. She also looks just as good as Carter both with her shirt on and off.

Merrie Lynn Ross who plays Bobbi Jo’s sister Pearl was another bad casting choice as she looks nothing like Carter as Ross is a brown-eyed blonde while Carter is blue-eyed and raven-haired. Gortner is expectedly terrible in the lead and much of the reason for this is because he was already in his 30’s at the time and too old for this type of part. Carter was too old as well and the whole thing would’ve worked better and been more believable had the parts been played by actual teens.

The film, which was shot on-location throughout the state of New Mexico, has a few good moments.   The best one comes when they crash their pick-up through a bank’s window and then hook a chain from their truck to the bank’s safe and drag the safe down the street, which is cool to an extent, but weakened by the fact that we are never shown how far the safe gets dragged nor what they use to finally get it open. A gun duel at a lonely, isolated gas station is another highlight as are the car chases particularly the one at the beginning. There is even an amusing take-off to the famous ‘squeal-like-a-pig’ scene in Deliverance, but other than that it’s vapid, pointless and cheesy.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: March 1, 1976

Runtime: 1Hour 28Minutes

Rated R

Director: Mark L. Lester

Studio: American International Pictures

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

Gimme an ‘F’ (1984)

gimme an f

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: Cheerleaders compete for prize.

Bucky Berkshire (John Karlen) is the proprietor of a local cheerleading camp. He hopes to build an even bigger one with the help of some Taiwanese investors. However, they will only put up the much needed capital if Bucky agrees to sign Tommy (Stephen Shellen), who works as the cheerleading coach at the camp, to a 5-year contract. Bucky and Tommy do not get along and Tommy, who is 25, thinks he has gotten too old for the position and needs to move on. Yet Bucky feels he has no choice but to cut him a deal. If Tommy can get a group of teen cheerleaders known as the Ducks to beat the perennial winners known as the Falcons at the annual cheerleading competition then he’ll pay Tommy a whopping $10,000, but if they lose then Tommy will be forced to continue to work for Bucky for another 5 years.

I remember this film being scheduled on Cinemax in the ‘80’s during its late night hours, which gave me the impression that it was a raunchy T&A feast, but in reality it really isn’t. In fact during its entire runtime there is less than 10 seconds of actual nudity, which isn’t enough to make it worth watching. Some may say that makes me sound like just another sexist, leering male, but when the material is this inane what else is there about it to sell? Certainly not its so-called comedy, which is virtually laughless and on a 5-year-old’s level if even that and the plot is equally trite as it clearly conforms to the age-old David-and-Goliath formula where the viewer knows from the get-go that loser will obviously end up winning the thing no matter how much the odds are stacked up against them and what’s the reason to watch something if you know exactly how it’s going to end from the very beginning.

One viewer, who admits this is not a very good movie, said its one ‘saving grace’ was the cheerleading routines done at the end during its climactic showdown, which he felt were well choreographed, but to me it was just more cartwheels, twirling and dance line routines that if you’ve seen once then you’ve seen it a million times. Even if it had been spectacular it still wouldn’t warrant sitting through the rest of it, which is quite trifling to say the least.

Venerable character actor Karlen, who was the only veteran member of the cast, lends some credibility with his presence, but it isn’t much. Star Shellen is completely transparent in the lead despite having a teen heartthrob of a face. His character is shown doing very little training anyways and seems to shift the majority of the burden off to his assistant Roscoe (Mark Keyloun).

Beth Miller is equally weak as the female lead and although she is very cute she has no ability to effectively do a comic pratfall of which she is required to do several. The only thing she does get right is the way her eyes well up with tears from her embarrassment after she does one.

Although her character isn’t any better written than any of the others I could still tell right away that Daphne Ashbrook, in her film debut, was a far stronger actress than any of the others and it is no surprise that her career continued to flourish while the rest of them disappeared into obscurity. Although for the record Jennifer Cooke, who plays the bitchy character of Pam, did find success later in her life helping to run the Celestial Seasonings Tea chain.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: November 16, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Rated R

Director: Paul Justman

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS

Cry Uncle (1971)

cry uncle

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Murder, mystery and sex.

A down-and-out private eye (Allen Garfield) becomes embroiled in a complex case involving murder, intrigue, and a lot of sex.

This is one drive-in flick that definitely does not skimp on the sex. Not only is there a lot of it, but it is very explicit and done in outlandish ways. One features a couple having sex during the national anthem, while another has Garfield having sex with a prostitute while in front of a picture of Jesus. The most notorious though involves Garfield making love to a dead body while ragtime music plays in the background.

Garfield is quite amusing as a character that is always running his mouth off about something although the excessive shots of his nude overweight, out-of-shape body is enough to make anyone sick. Paul Sorvino is also funny in a cameo bit as a policeman plagued with a terrible case of smoker’s cough.

Although she delivers her lines well Madeleine Le Roux as the female lead is not sexy at all. Her face resembles that of Cruella De Vil’s in the Disney version of 101 Dalmatians and her body is very flat making her nude scenes unexciting. She also doesn’t seem too young either. Certain camera angles make her look like a youthful 30 while others give the impression that she is pushing 45.
The film is directed by John G. Avildsen who later went on to do Rocky and The Karate Kid. You can also spot famous schlock director/producer Lloyd Kaufman with a full head of curly hair playing a hippie.

For fans of low-grade, T & A, drive-in fare this one pretty much hits the target and makes the most of its low budget, underground roots although it is unable to sustain the slam-bang funny pace that it has at the beginning with a second half that is not as outrageous or inspired.

My Rating 5 out of 10.

Released: August 17, 1971

Runtime: 1Hour 27Minutes

Rated R

Director: John G. Avildsen

Studio: Cambist Films

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

The Centerfold Girls (1974)

the centerfold girls

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: He doesn’t like models.

A psycho (Andrew Prine) who believes it is wrong to pose nude for a men’s magazine stalks several models that have appeared in a particular pin-up calendar and proceeds to kill them off one-by-one.

If you can get by its low budget roots you may find it entertaining as the acting is generally good and the scenes lively. There are a few good twists and nice looking ladies with an abundance of nudity. The best part about the film is that it creates a sinister atmosphere where everyone ends up being twisted in some way. It also creates the impression that being beautiful may actually be a curse as these girls are either getting snubbed by other women who are jealous, lustfully attacked, or exploited in every direction.

The film has the psycho stalking three different models and is therefore broken up into three different segments. The first has definite shades of Last House on the Left as the young lady falls prey not only to this psycho but also a gang of wild hippies who harass and humiliate her. The second part works like a variation of And Then There Were None as the killer follows a group going to a castle on a deserted island to do a photo shoot and then kills them all off one-by-one. Although the interior shots in this segment are too dark and too much emphasis given to a howling wind sound it is still compactly done. The third story is the best because the model is more aggressive and fights back as well as featuring a surreal shot of a foot chase amongst a large grove of dead trees.

Prine is perfect for the psycho role. He puts verve in his deliveries and wears horn rimmed glasses that definitely makes him look the part. However, it would have been nice to have seen some background to his character and learn why he became the way he was as well as an explanation for how he manages to obtain the model’s phone numbers and addresses. Also, where does he get the money to do all the traveling around and why must he wear the same black suit throughout the entire film as even nut cases know how to shower and change their clothes.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: August 8, 1974

Runtime: 1Hour 31Minutes

Rated R

Director: John Peyser

Studio: General Film Corporation

Available: VHS, DVD

Street Girls (1975)

street girls

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Father searches for daughter.

Angel (Christine Souder) is a young woman out on her own for the very first time. To make ends meet she gets a job at a topless bar, but this leads to working as a prostitute and getting hooked onto heroin by her brutal pimp boyfriend. When her father Sven (Art Burke) goes searching for her he finds himself swept in the seedy side of life and the people who populate it almost as much as her.

This otherwise low budget and forgotten film’s biggest claim to fame is that it is the first feature credited to Barry Levinson as the screenwriter who also worked as the assistant cameraman during the production. Levinson has never talked about it in any interview and it is easy to see why. The script is filled with a lot of rambling, general dialogue that goes nowhere. The story is basic and boring and seems preoccupied with taking advantage of the ‘shock value’ of its topic which these days has lessened considerable and seems more clichéd than anything although the scene where one of Angel’s johns asks her to put on some goggles so that he can, to her shock, pee all over her does deserve mention.

This film is very similar to Paul Schrader’s Hardcore that starred George C. Scott and came out four years later and deals with a desperate father’s search for his daughter who has gotten into the world of porn. I actually like this film a bit better to that one. For one thing this one focuses more on the daughter and her experiences while that one solely centered on the father, which wasn’t as interesting. The father here isn’t quite as one-dimensional either. Yes he has all the caricatures of a middle-aged Midwestern man from the period including being homophobic, but I got a kick out of the way he initially gets into the naked girl dancers and likes it as long as of course it isn’t his daughter that’s doing it.

The acting swings from tolerable to really bad, but I did like Carol Case as Sally who has the most screen time and looks like a cross between Susan Anton and singer Carly Simon. Paul Pompain has a certain menacing quality as the brutal pimp although watching him constantly beat up his prostitutes and even kill one didn’t seem to make any sense as these girls were his may source of income and as my friend stated who watched this movie with me “He’s hurting their resale value.”

The picture is grainy with a faded washed out look and muffled sound that makes it seem almost like someone’s cheap homemade movie and yet it is well enough paced that it remains watchable. The scene where the father and daughter finally meet I found to be surprisingly touching.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: January 16, 1975

Runtime: 1Hour 14Minutes

Rated R

Director: Michael Miller

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: None at this time.

The Sidehackers (1969)

sidehackers

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Rape, murder and mayhem

This low budget flick is probably best known as having aired on an episode of the old ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ TV-show. At the time the writers had not watched the movie all the way through before deciding to use it for the show and when they came upon a rape sequence half-way through it they had to edit it out and have Crow  simply explain that the character was now dead. It is also famous for being directed by Goldie Hawn’s then husband Gus Trikonis. In fact Goldie auditioned for one of the parts in the film, but since she wasn’t well known at the time she got turned down.

The story centers around Vince (Ross Hagen) a motorcycle racer involved in the sport of sidehacking where a passenger rides along in a sidecar connected to the motorcycle and uses his body weight to help steer the bike around curves and turns.  The psychotic J.C. (Michael Pataki) watches the sport and wants to work with Vince, but Vince becomes aware of J.C.’s volatile personality and turns him down. This angers J.C. and later when his girlfriend Paisley (Claire Polan) falsely accuses Vince of having tried to rape her J.C. flies into a rage. He and his men attack and beat up Vince and then rape and murder Vince’s girlfriend Rita (Diane McBain). Vince then spends the rest of the film trying to track down J.C. and getting his revenge.

The only diversion of this otherwise run-of-the-mill drive-in drama is the scenes involving the racing, which is better known as sidecarcross. Trikonis captures the racing in vivid style giving the viewer a good feel of the sport. Personally I thought it would be excessively dangerous for the passenger who puts himself into a very vulnerable position as he tries to steer the bike from the side and could easily fall off, or be hit by the other bikes that zoom around him. The shots of the crowd seem to show them as really being into it, but I felt that after watching it for a few minutes it would get monotonous.

With that said it is still the most interesting aspect of the film and I felt the story should have revolved around it. For instance having J.C. try and sabotage one of Vince’s races, but instead the racing scenes are shown only at the beginning before devolving into just another stale and redundant revenge drama. The dialogue is stilted, the characters bland, and the direction lifeless. Boredom quickly sets in and never goes away.

The music score is particularly horrendous. With the exception of the final fight scene when it does have a nifty psychedelic quality it is very sappy and terribly harmonized. Hearing it played over shots of Vince and Rita frolicking merrily through some open fields may be enough to make some viewers gag.

Pataki gives a good intense performance as the psycho and at times goes a bit over-the-top, but with this type of production that can only help it. The rest of the acting like everything else seems amateurish. If you want to seek this film out simply to catch the scene that was cut from the TV broadcast I would say it isn’t worth it. The sequence is not all that graphic and it is shown only as a flashback, which takes less than a minute.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: May 12, 1969

Runtime: 1Hour 22Minutes

Alternate Title: Five the Hard Way

Rated M

Director: Gus Trikonis

Studio: Crown International Pictures

Available: DVD (The Savage Cinema Collection)

Candy Stripe Nurses (1974)

candy stripe nurses

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: They specialize in sex.

The fifth edition of Roger Corman’s Nurses series has gone well past its expiration date and mercifully this was the final one. A creative animated opening and a funky, edgy soundtrack fail to camouflage the tired formula. Uneven balance of farcical humor and stilted drama doesn’t work and they should’ve just stuck with the comedy. The scenarios themselves are extremely trite and not worth describing.

Initially I liked the Maria Rojo character who is this punk, streetwise gal who is ambivalent to her school work and gets thrown in as a volunteer candy stripe nurse simply to give her some responsibility, but she remains apathetic to that as well. The story though shifts to her falling almost immediately in-love with one of the male patients (Roger Cruz) and then spending an excessive amount of screen-time going way out of her way to find a witness that can testify on his behalf to keep him out of jail. This segment flops mainly because I couldn’t buy into the fact that she would be so convinced of his innocence when she had just met him. Also, for a streetwise girl she ends up being too trusting and naïve. Her acting also gets worse the more the film progresses.

Candice Rialson comes off best. I’ve seen her in other drive-in films, but she seems to be having the most fun in this one particularly the scene where she works in a sex clinic and answers the phone from perverted callers. She also possesses (ahem) a really nice rack, which gets amply shown.

The sex is a little more erotic and impulsive here. The segment showing a breast in close-up amidst some shadowy lighting has some artistic flair and a nude scene involving now famous soap opera actress Robin Mattson is good. However, for the most part the sex and nudity is pretty sparse.

Famous television writer Stanley Ralph Ross hams it up as Dr. Kramer the head of the sex clinic. Dick Miller can also be seen briefly as a spectator at a basketball game. He has been in so many low budget films and many times in small and insignificant roles that it makes me wonder; is he desperate for money or just willing to do anything for it?

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: May 1, 1974

Runtime: 1Hour 17Minutes

Rated R

Director: Allan Holeb

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: DVD (The Nurses Collection)

The Young Nurses (1973)

the young nurses

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: More sex than medicine.

More amorous nurses, more stilted dialogue, more bad acting and more cheap production values in this the fourth edition of the Roger Corman produced series.

The formula is starting to become old and outside of some scenic ocean beach scenery and a bouncy opening tune there is very little to recommend. The story of one of the nurses (Jeane Manson) falling in love with a handsome young hunk and nursing him back to health only to have him go out and recklessly put his life on the line again is too reminiscent of story threads used in past editions of this series. This time it has to do with sailboating and the man’s broken shoulder not yet healed enough to go back out, but because of pressures from his father he decides to get into a sailboating race, which is picturesque to watch, but offers little else.

The second story line involving a drug ring working inside the hospital is equally contrived, but does at least involve one exciting chase sequence.

There is of course the expected nudity with this one having a bit more than the ones in the past. Unlike the first three this one shows full frontal nudity particularly with Manson who goes dancing along the beach naked and even into the ocean. The segment involving one of them hallucinating about a sex orgy at a black nightclub is somewhat provocative as is the vaginal self-examination booth.

However, unlike the past films of the series not all of the three leads are seen sans clothes. Although she comes close Angela Gibbs is never seen nude, but at least makes up for it by giving the best acting performance. Ashley Porter is seen nude and looks good, but her acting is terrible and possibly the worst performance of the entire series. She says her lines in a robotic fashion that quickly becomes irritating.

The film does offer some fun cameos by famous B-movie actors. Allan Arbus is amusing as a sarcastic doctor yelling at a nurse for handing him incorrect utensils during surgery. Jay Burton hams it up as an overzealous manager to a rock group. Mantan Moreland can be seen as an old man who is almost run over by a motorcycle. Dick Miller plays an abrasive cop and Samuel Fuller is the head of the drug ring. Sally Kirkland is one of the patients, Nan Martin plays a woman reporter and Mary Doyle, sister of actor David Doyle, is engaging as a bitchy older head nurse.

The picture quality is excellent and the ocean side views are scenic. Unlike with the transfers of the first two features this one, which is all part of the Nurses Collection by Shout Factory, does not have any annoying sound distortion.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: March 10, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 17Minutes

Rated R

Director: Clinton Kimbrough

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: DVD (The Nurses Collection)