Things – 1989, Andrew Jordan, Canada


Things is what I like to call a “worst case scenario movie”…


I’m sure you can see what I mean.

…Because at the end of the day, a movie is just the culmination of countless decisions; some large, and some tiny, but all important in one way or another. Everything from “What’s the movie about” to “what ‘door slam’ sound effect do I want to use in this scene?”, each and every one of these choices must be made, and all have some measurable impact on the finished product.

Now, a “worst case scenario” movie happens when every single decision made throughout the entire process was 100% wrong, but somehow, the movie just exists anyway. It’s hard to accept, but this IS possible; somehow, in isolated cases, people have been able to finish an entire film and never once make the right call on any single decision throughout the entire process, start to finish. It does happen, my friends, and it DID happen; with Things.

Things Gillis Intervision Picture Corp DVD 13People like to throw around the term “worst movie of all time” an awful lot these days, and by now, the phrase has become so overused that a lot of it’s impact is sorta lost, but Things absolutely is one of the worst movies ever, and it always will be. This isn’t so much a feature film, it’s more a case of people standing in front of a camera correctly. Not well, mind you, but they are in front of a camera, so if it’s a pass/fail, they pass.

THE PLOT~ Some dude’s wife can’t get pregnant, so they attempt some sort of experimental, artificial insemination procedure, and as a result, she births a litter of murder bugs. So far so good, right? Well, that’s where the good news stops. After that, we are immediately thrown into a universe where two morons drink beer and act like unintelligent, aimlessly hostile children for an eternity while absolutely nothing ever happens, and absolutely no one reacts to anything, ever.

things-01Acting is reacting? Think again. Things is here to refute that hypothesis.

Periodically, there is news footage intercut with our “narrative,” but like the rest of the film, these are both stupid, and entirely incoherent. People do eventually die, but it fucking sucks so hard, and it takes a thousand years before anything happens. If you accidently hit “record” on your smartphone while it sits around in your pocket for 90 minutes, there’s a strong likelihood that the result will be a more entertaining, and more artistically valid film than this one.

things-2It’s basically this for two hours.

You should see the notes I took for this review; they go on for pages and pages, and while I could probably write a five thousand word review outlining just a couple highlights, it feels like a bad use of my time. The truth is, every critic in the world could go at this film full blast until they collapse from exhaustion and still not even scratch the surface. It is, simply put, as bad as a movie could possibly be. I can’t imagine how this film wasn’t just thrown right into the garbage the first time someone watched it.

163837420_640I’m all for the preservation of art, but this film just screams “destroy me.”

Movies aren’t easy to make, I acknowledge that. Actually, in my mind, that just makes this whole thing even more confusing. How could anyone be capable of actually creating an entire film and still lack even the most basic grasp of what a film should be? It’s a mother f’in’ enigma, you guys. Seriously, NOTHING in Things is done right, well, or even good enough. This movie is, and I speak with complete conviction, one of the single worst movies ever made. Probably in the top five, maybe the top three. Frankly, I don’t expect this title belt to be challenged anytime soon, and probably the worst thing about it is that is isn’t even fun. When we watch other worse case scenario films, like Birdemic, or The Room, we laugh…. When we watch Things, we groan. My recommendation is to avoid this travesty at all costs, for it is terrible… so, so very terrible.

Still a better movie than Sucker Punch.


more movies


Black Devil Doll From Hell ~ 1984, Chester Novell Turner, USA

BlackDevilDollFromHellVHSscanNot to be confused with Black Devil Doll (2007), nor even Devil Doll (1964), Black Devil Doll From Hell is a humble, shot-on-video, exploitation fable directed by Chester Novell Turner and released in 1984. If the statements “I can handle no budget VHS exploitation” and “I don’t mind puppet rape” both apply to you, then there’s really no reason why you haven’t already seen this movie. For the rest of you, you can probably just go about your business and pass on this one.

THE PLOT~ When prudish, virginal, Christian woman Helen finds an ugly ventriloquist doll in an antique store, she finds herself transfixed by it, which is weird. Seeing this, the cashier hits Helen with her standard sales pitch; “That doll is cursed, it is not to be trifled with. If purchased it, it will grant you your heart’s true desire, but beware.” Sounds on the level. So, in a direct contradiction to her firebrand religious convictions, Helen buys the damn thing for reasons no human will ever understand, ever, and takes it home, where she proceeds to just go to sleep like she DOESN’T have a cursed ventriloquist dummy in her fucking house. Predictably, the dummy drops the act once she’s out, and begins to walk about the house freely, just like all ventriloquist dummies do. Here’s where things go all “monkey’s paw” on us; The doll grants your hearts true desire, right? Well, what does every God fearing woman truly want, beneath her well fortified façade of Christian values? Why, some red hot puppet sex, that’s what! So, our Black Devil Doll breaks her off a piece of sweet, hot, puppet lovin’ that she isn’t likely to forget anytime soon, which, initially, is just him raping her. Yep. Pretty bad. And it get’s worse, next, in an uncomfortable and blatantly sexist twist, Helen does a 180 on the whole “consent” biz and decides that she really, really loves sex with ventriloquist dummies after all. It’s like, her favorite. Hold up, though, cuz there’s another drawback waiting in the wings; Turns out the first times always free, but after that, the generosity dries up. Try as she might, Black Devil Doll just doesn’t like her that way anymore, and he soon abandons her altogether. Now irreparably damaged by puppet sex (who hasn’t been there, right?) Helen abandons her religious convictions and embarks on an ever more self-destructive quest to satiable her unquenchable lust for dong. Things don’t end well, and that’s the movie.

Horrendously offensive content aside (for now), Black Devil Doll From Hell is basically a morality play about addiction, but it also deals with the unavoidable folly of repressing your feelings and denying yourself your true desires. It’s sort of insightful, actually; Helen spent her entire life denying herself what she really wanted because of how society told her she was supposed to live, and then she got to be true to herself exactly once, and it basically destroyed her life, because she was so unprepared for it. That’s kinda heavy. Additionally, this movie addresses the many dangers of owning sexy puppets, so there’s a while lot to learn here.

It’s sort of hard to know how to feel about Black Devil Doll From Hell... This is one that has some very positive qualities, as well as some pretty glaringly negative ones. One thing is totally certain, though; as you now know, this movie is dammed offensive. We’ll touch on that more extensively in a little bit, but first, let’s briefly focus on the positive;

Every frame of Black Devil Doll From Hell basically permeates “triumph over adversity.” This is a film that was made with essentially no resources beyond the sheer dedication of Chester Novell Turner and lead actress Shirley L. Jones. It was shot on video, the music all sounds like it was composed using a Casio found in the trunk of an abandoned car, and it’s clear from start to finish that Turner was getting this done essentially on his own. From that angle, there’s a tendency to want to cheer him on, he made a movie with absolutely nothing, and back then, that was a lot harder to do than it is today. It’s also not even that terrible, all things considered, so this accomplishment certainly does deserves some credit. Black Devil Doll From Hell is a movie that exists because sometimes passion and ambition have their way over resources and adversity… We all want to believe in that message.

But here comes the hammer… Black Devil Doll From Hell is basically the one ingredient you would need if you wanted to have the average Millennial frothing at the mouth with complete and inconsolable fury. This thing exists in direct contradiction with the overly P.C. ideals that dominate the zeitgeist here in 2015, and usually, I’m all for that. In this case, however, I feel that I may have to side with the angry mob; Black Devil Doll From Hell is painfully, unforgivably sexist. It’s meant to be taken as a joke, but deep down in it’s bones, Black Devil Doll From Hell is predicated on ideas and beliefs that are damaging, and out of step with modern society

Our doll gives Helen what she truly desires, right? Well, the implication here isn’t JUST that human beings crave physical intimacy. The film also seems to imply that women crave subjugation and abuse as well, that they need a domineering male to control and belittle them. Maybe that’s not what Mr. Turner wanted to say, but that’s the message that comes across, and it’s more than a little damaging for Black Devil Doll From Hell. We can’t really rave about the movie as a technical achievement, and really, likability is the one thing this movie has going for it… So, you could see how not being very likable would be a major problem. The fact is, the strong, sexist content throughout the film essentially nullifies all or most of the goodwill Mr. Turner has earned just by getting the damn thing finished in the first place, and that leaves the film is a pretty sorry position indeed.

Unfortunately, this one is hard to recommend.


more movies


Street Trash – 1987, James Muro, USA


Street Trash rules so hard. Why hasn’t this been remade like, eight times by now? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad, but sheesh… This movie really is the quintessential example of the “underrated gem.” It’s beloved by almost everyone who has made the effort to track it down and give it a watch, and yet somehow, it remains relatively obscure compared to other comparable films of the era. Street Trash is the real diamond in the rough, so suck it, Aladdin.

THE PLOT~ Life on the streets becomes even more dangerous after bottles of a mysterious drink called “Viper” begin to circulate amongst the city’s already badly imperiled homeless community. Viper is first discovered inside an old crate, hidden in the basement of the local liquor store, and we all know what you do when you find mysterious booze in your basement; you sell that shit immediately. So, that’s what happens. Unfortunately however, drinking Viper comes with a steep price; Turns out that anyone who so much as takes a sip of the stuff begins to melt into a vibrantly colored, highly acidic slime within seconds.

Street Trash Meltdown Edition 11

street trash shit is meltingStreet_trash_2street-trash-1987It’s the coolest thing ever.

To make matters worse, the local police department has it out for Bronson, a badly shell-shocked Vietnam War Vet who has used his brute strength and zest for murder to instate himself as some sort of junkyard tribal chieftan for all of the local hobos. This conflict doesn’t exactly help Bronson to remain calm and passive, basically, he’s on the warpath. If you’re not reduced to a puddle of gunk from Viper or stabbed in the back by your peers, there’s a good chance that Bronson will lose his marbles and club you to death for no reason anyway. This is the world of Street Trash

And what a world it is! Probably the best thing director Jim Muro does is that he effectively creates a universe which has some serious depth to it. Street Trash is so gritty that it feels borderline post apocalyptic much of the time, but Muro doesn’t take it too far, we’re frequently reminded that this is all happening concurrently with regular civilization, as if there was some slime drenched, hobo civil war going on all around us, just outside of view… Which rules!


There’s also a lot going on in Street Trash’s dirty, violent little universe. In fact, this is a real contributor to one of the film’s few legitimate flaws; its so busy that it ends up feeling somewhat unfocused. We don’t even really know who our central protagonist is until the end of the film, and we never feel as anchored to them as we should. The movie actually feels more like a few days as a member of the Street Trash homeless community than it does a single, traditional narrative, which is kind of cool in its own right, but more reason to care about our protagonist would have been nice. With this level of investment, we’d almost rather just watch him melt to death, just because it’s cool looking.


One thing you’re going to notice; This movie has a lot of steady cam shots… Like, A LOT. So many, in fact, that Muro sorta made a name for himself as a titan of the Steady-Cam, and later wound up serving as Steady-Cam operator for significantly better known Hollywood movies. What movies, you ask? WELL, homeboy was the Steady-Cam Operator for movies like Clueless, Titanic, and X-Men 2. How’dya like them apples? Knowing that information, it should come as no surprised that for a low budget film from 1987, Street Trash treats us to a metric shitload of steady cam shots, and that gives our movie a surprisingly dynamic aesthetic; we’re seldom confined to a single angle on a tripod. Instead, we roam about our environments freely, which makes the space our story occupies feel even more real and familiar.

It also features history’s greatest tank top:


Look at that majestic bastard.

Worth noting: Our old friend James Lorinz, star of Frank Hennenlotter’s epic masterpiece Frankenhooker, has a small, but memorable role here as a smart assed door man who works for a mobster. Lorinz’s part has several tell tale signs of being largely improvised, and we get the impression that Muro must have really, really liked him. He even gets an extra scene at the end of the film that was almost definitely tacked on to further showcase his wisecracking, and in this scene, an additional character takes a swig of Viper and immediately melts to death entirely off camera. Why would Muro possibly include an additional Viper death, and then not even show it? Well, probably because he didn’t have the money or resources to stage another complicated special effect, but he didn’t want to send Lorinz home without milking him for just a little more comedy. My guess is that that’s what happened, and I think it was a good choice, it really says a lot that in a movie where homeless people literally liquefy and explode on camera several times, a freaking doorman with only a few scenes is gonna stick in your memory as being particularly entertaining.

street-trash-10I love this guy.

But I digress…

Street Trash is the kind of movie that I love so much, I want to say it’s not a recommendation, but a requirement. Equal parts gross, humorous and imaginative, this is a gritty, grindhouse oddity that feels well paired alongside other offbeat, street level flicks like Basket Case, or Slime City, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like a rehash of either. Street Trash is ruthlessly original, fantastically unique, and wicked entertaining. For reals, check it out.


more movies