Category: Guilty Pleasures



Last week, I watched a ghost story called The Woman in Black.  It’s a $15 million studio production, designed as a post-Harry Potter vehicle for superstar Daniel Radcliffe.  It was pretty and polished, but I doubt if I’ll remember a thing about it in three months.

Forty-two years ago, I sat in a small, dingy cinema in rural Minnesota and watched a monster movie called Count Yorga, Vampire.  Its budget was $64,000 and it was originally conceived as a soft-core horror film.  It was el cheapo, to be sure, but Yorga made an impression on me that’s lasted four decades.




Thanks for the memories (or nightmares), Robert Quarry and Bob Kelljan.  Thank who, you ask?  Good question.  Quarry, the actor who played the title character, and Kelljan, the film’s writer-director, don’t have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  They weren’t exactly hot properties back in 1970, either.

“We had just four crew members — that was it,” said Quarry in a 2004 interview.  “There was one makeup man and a few guys with little arc lights.  You say the film was ‘dark and mysterious.’ The film was dark and mysterious because we didn’t have enough lights!”




Kelljan didn’t have much money, but he had something better, something that the makers of Woman in Black apparently lacked:  creativity and a passion for his movie.  If you can overlook Yorga’s cheesy production values — admittedly, no easy feat — the film has some genuinely scary moments.  I’m thinking of three scenes in particular:  one involving a couple stranded in a van on an isolated road; a second featuring a woman and her … well, what used to be her cat; and a third in which the suave, menacing count has a final showdown with his nemesis, a doctor played by veteran TV actor Roger Perry.

Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee be damned, Quarry’s mocking, triumphant bloodsucker in that climactic scene is as good as it gets.  Said a reviewer in the New York Times:  “Robert Quarry [is] the best chief vampire I have seen in years.”


Yorga4                     Yorga5




The acting is all-around respectable — something not common in B-movies of the period — and Kelljan’s script was even seminal in one respect:  In having Yorga take up residence in modern-day Los Angeles, the cinematic vampire was at last removed from his previous haunts in 19th-century Europe.  Fans of Twilight and True Blood can thank Kelljan for the immigration.

At times, the bare-bones production values even work in the film’s favor, because we aren’t distracted by Hollywood gloss.  Yorga’s retro scenery, jerky edits, and scratchy soundtrack are more realistic than many of today’s “found footage” productions.         Grade:  B


Yorga7                  Yorga8

Yorga9  Yorga10


Director:  Bob Kelljan   Cast:  Robert Quarry, Roger Perry, Michael Murphy, Michael Macready, Donna Anders, Judy Lang, Edward Walsh, Julie Conners, Sybil Scotford, Marsha Jordan   Release:  1970






                                                  Watch the Trailer (click here)




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Horror-film addicts will go to great lengths to get their fix, and if that means that we– er, they must travel 4,000 miles to the mountains of Norway, so be it.  Because it turns out that hidden somewhere in the icy peaks north of Oslo there is an abandoned ski lodge.  And living in that lodge is ….

The Norwegian slasher flick Cold Prey is a lot of fun, but not right away.  It begins with a slew of horror-movie clichés:  We listen to ominous news reports about missing skiers;  we meet a carload of attractive-but-vapid young people on their way to a snowboarding holiday; and, naturally, the kids’ cell phones don’t work.

But if you can make it past those too-familiar opening scenes without throwing your cell phone at the screen, the movie delivers some nifty chills once the youngsters arrive at Jotunheimen, a frigid, beautiful mountain range where Cold Prey was filmed.




After that trite opening, director Roar Uthaug makes some good decisions.  For one, he cast Ingrid Bolso Berdal as his heroine.  It’s immediately clear that if anyone can survive an upcoming bloodbath, it’s this steely-eyed brunette.  Berdal is to Scandinavian psychopaths what Sigourney Weaver is to scaly aliens.

Second, Uthaug tapped Norwegian beauty Viktoria Winge to play the other girl in the small party of stranded snowboarders.  Winge is in the movie to suffer a gruesome death — but not before she spends a fair amount of screen time prancing about in skimpy panties.  That is, admittedly, odd behavior for a woman stuck in a heatless lodge in the mountains of Norway.  But who’s complaining?




You might notice that I haven’t yet described the movie’s plot.  You might also have seen one or more of the Friday the 13th flicks, in which case you already know the plot.  Plot doesn’t really matter in a film like this; in fact, too much story can be a detriment.  What matters are goosebumps.  Uthaug sets a leisurely pace as the kids take refuge in a gloomy, 1970s-vintage lodge, exploring its dim hallways and common areas, generating a delicious sense of isolation.  The director is also smart enough not to show too much of the killer, too soon.

Cold Prey was a big hit in Scandinavia, spawning two sequels.  It’s no classic, but it’s better than most films in the much-maligned slasher genre.  And did I mention Viktoria Winge in her panties?        Grade:  B


Prey4 Prey5


Director:  Roar Uthaug   Cast:  Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Rolf Kristian Larsen, Tomas Alf Larsen, Endre Martin Midtstigen, Viktoria Winge, Rune Melby   Release:  2006




Watch Trailers  (click here)



Prey8           Prey9




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Harry Potter and his wizard pals had lots of cool gadgets, including flying broomsticks and an invisibility cloak.  One thing they didn’t have was x-ray vision.

Thank goodness we have Hollywood to give us a peek beneath all those witches’ robes:


Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter)


From Fight Club (below) and The Wings of the Dove (bottom):













Madame Rosmerta (Julie Christie)


According to author Peter Bart’s book, Infamous Players:  A Tale of Movies, the Mob (and Sex), Christie and co-star Donald Sutherland took method acting to an extreme in this scene from Don’t Look Now.  Bart, invited onto the set by director Nicolas Roeg, witnessed the filming of the scene and later wrote about it: “It was clear to me they were no longer simply acting:  they were fucking on camera.”









Fleur Delacour (Clemence Poesy)


From Welcome to the Roses:









Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson)


From Dance with a Stranger:







Aunt Petunia Dursley (Fiona Shaw)


From Mountains of the Moon, it’s Aunt Petunia’s bush!









Nymphadora Tonks (Natalia Tena)


From Mrs. Henderson Presents, and from Afterlife:














Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith)


From California Suite:







Sybil Trelawney (Emma Thompson)


From The Tall Guy and, in the beach shots, courtesy of local paparazzi:






.                                          Thompson5     Thompson6







Molly Weasley (Julie Walters)


From She’ll Be Wearing Pink Pyjamas.  Not in this picture, she won’t:







J. K. Rowling


Someone lends a hand to the popular author at a party.





Hermione Granger (Emma Watson)


Emma has thus far managed to keep her on-screen robes buttoned.  However, much to the paparazzi’s delight, she seems to favor unbuttoned tops and see-thru knickers at movie premieres.






© 2010-2019 (text only)




Great settings can compensate for a multitude of movie sins — bad acting, sloppy direction, ridiculous plots.  I will find myself watching a piece of junk like Anaconda, or Deep Blue Sea, a second time (or a third time) simply to soak in the cool visuals.  This is why, I suspect, they invented the mute button.

Without further ado, and to paraphrase Julie Andrews, these are a few of my favorite sets:




The spaceship in Alien.  A haunted house in outer space — what more can a movie fan ask for?









The tree house in Swiss Family Robinson.  If possible, I’d swap out the organ for an entertainment center, but otherwise we are all set.






Overlook2         Overlook1


The Overlook Hotel in The Shining.  Stephen King did not approve of Kubrick’s movie, but who needs Stephen King when you’ve got a walk-in freezer full of ice cream?






The Antarctic research center in The Thing.  I’d prefer to be stranded with six Hooters girls, rather than a bunch of unshaven scientists, but you can’t have everything.








The ramshackle boat in Anaconda.  This is a great example of a setting that looks like fun from the comfort of your Barcalounger.  In reality, I’d probably want the snake to eat me rather than spend five minutes on a boat like this.






The oceanic research lab in Deep Blue Sea.  I must have a thing for isolated research labs.  (Also pictured at top.)








The monastery in The Name of the Rose.  Why is it that places that would be hell to actually live in often look so inviting on the screen?









Hogwarts.  I don’t care how old you are — we all want to live at Hogwarts.


© 2010-2019 (text only)




The expression “so bad it’s good” is overused.  Usually, the movie in question is just plain bad.  Not this time.  Filmmaker extraordinaire Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is so magnificently rotten that it’s wonderful – bust-a-gut, pee-your-pants hilarious.

In the vain, irrepressible Wiseau, the spirit of Ed Wood lives again.  Wiseau writes, directs, produces, distributes, and stars in this labor of love, so there is no doubt about who deserves credit for this monument to schlock.  (Wiseau’s achievement is so enviable that, according to Entertainment Weekly, a script supervisor is now battling him for a directing screen credit.)

Wood, patron saint of the bad movie, would be proud of this film, because its flaws are legion:  continuity errors, drunken editing, abysmal acting, awkward love scenes, incomprehensible storytelling – it’s all here.  If Wiseau falls short of Wood’s standard, it is only because, unaccountably, the cinematography isn’t awful.  And the soundtrack isn’t bad.  But please don’t let those virtues stop you from enjoying this film.

I suppose a plot summary is in order.  Nah – there’s no point.  The story has something to do with lovable, long-haired Johnny (Wiseau), whose fiancée (Juliette Danielle) is cheating on him with his best friend.  I won’t say more, partly because it might spoil the story, and partly because the story makes absolutely no sense.        Grade:  F




Strange But True:  The deleted scenes on the DVD are much better than the actual film.  In fact, if you just saw the outtakes, you might be led to believe that The Room is a pretty decent film.


Room3    Room4


Director:  Tommy Wiseau  Cast:  Tommy Wiseau, Juliette Danielle, Greg Sestero, Philip Haldiman, Carolyn Minnott, Robyn Paris, Mike Holmes, Kyle Vogt, Greg Ellery  Release:  2003


Room5    Room6


                                           Watch the Trailer  (click here)


Room7    Room8


© 2010-2019 (text only)




Important Note:  They say that a film review is often more about the reviewer than the movie itself, so I want it “on the record” that I had nothing to do with the following review.  I didn’t write it; somebody else is responsible for the words and opinions that follow.  I didn’t write this introduction, either.  In fact, I strongly disapprove of this review, just as I disapprove of this introduction.


Anonymous Review of Love Scenes

There was a time when my pecker was perpetually primed, presumptuous, and problematic (I won’t say pretty), and it was all I could do to placate said pecker by preemptively programming the TV.  In other words, we (my penile pal and I) watched “Cinemax After Dark.”

On one such occasion, my persistent protuberance demanded that we view the 1984 movie Love Scenes.

Love Scenes is the story of film director Peter and his lovely wife, movie star Val.  Peter and Val have a boring sex life, so Peter decides to spice things up by casting Val in his latest project, a steamy potboiler co-starring the odious Rick, a preening prick who is, unaccountably, irresistible to women.

During one particularly steamy scene in Peter’s production, Val’s character is seduced by Rick’s character in the back room of an art museum.  (This scene occurs in an art museum because Love Scenes is a classy movie.)  Things get out of hand for the two actors, and they wind up having actual sex.

“I screwed Rick with everybody watching — the whole damned crew!” says Val, just in case we missed it.

Rather than get jealous, Peter gets turned on, and so did my phallic friend.  Peter pens more sex scenes into the plot for his wife.  He decides to insert a scene in which Val has sex with an old fart, a famous art collector named Count Orlando, while she lies rope-bound to a bed.

In other words, in choosing his next kinky fantasy for Val, Peter picks a pickled pecker.

Count Orlando makes his brief, wrinkled, full-frontally nude appearance, enjoys his time with Val, and exits the scene.




All of this sex and nudity is puckishly perverse, and my pesky pulchritude was plenty pleased with all of these perversions.  But at times the film’s brilliant dialogue — sparkling with wit and sophistication — intrudes upon the more important elements:  sex and nudity.

Val:  “Peter, you’re my man.  Don’t forget it.”

Peter:  “Sounds like a line from a movie.”

Peter and Val:  (smiles and giggles)

When all was said and done, my penile projection was placated, although an Internet interview with star Tiffany Bolling cast a pall on my perceptions.

“The nudity bugged me, like in Love Scenes, and I would never do a film like that again,” Bolling pouted.  “The bottom line to it was that there was a lot of nudity in it, and a lot of simulated sex scenes … I don’t want people coming in and getting a joyride off of me trying to get my work done.”

To that, my pulsing pal and I say, “poppycock!”                Grade:  A


Scenes3    Scenes4 


Director:  Bud Townsend  Cast:  Tiffany Bolling, Franc Luz, Julie Newmar, Jack Carter, Daniel Pilon, Britt Ekland, Susan Benn, Carol Ann Susi, Laura Sorrenson, Monique Gabrielle  Release:  1984



Scenes6       Sorry, No Clips Available


© 2010-2019 (text only)




I know what you must be thinking.

You are thinking, “But this film hasn’t been released yet; how can anyone review it, much less give it a 100 percent rating?”  In answer to that, let me just mention two words:  Kristen Stewart.

Although it’s true that I have yet to see the film, I am told that Ms. Stewart gives a powerful performance.  Says one critic of the film, “We can almost forget the weight of Kristen Stewart dragging it down with every hair flip and tug.”

Reading between the lines of that review, it’s clear to me that this critic is referring to Stewart’s unique ability to create heavy, serious drama out of what might have been a lightweight movie.

Back in the third grade, when I was a tyke of nine years, I developed a crush on a girl named Patty Guggenheimer.  Patty was new to our school, and quite unpopular. One day, sitting in Mrs. Spolum’s class, I inadvertently filled my pants.

Most of my classmates noticed the noxious smell and, in their ignorance, began to whisper about poor Patty.  In my shame and cowardice, I allowed this false impression to continue.  Poor Patty, my schoolboy crush, took the blame, and I am heartsick about that to this day.

But I must admit, there was a pre-pubertal excitement in all of this, as I sat there at my wooden desk, my heart filled with pining for Patty and my pants filled with poop.

Over the years, I grew to miss that exciting sensation.  Then one day not long ago, as I watched a Kristen Stewart movie (you guessed it) – it happened again.

I initially became paranoid; was it just me who was thus affected by Kristen Stewart’s performance?  I checked around, conferring with friends here at rottentomatoes.  To my immense relief, I learned that both Hollywood and SB, whose opinions I value, experienced similar, stomach-tingling sensations whenever they viewed a Kristen Stewart performance.

And so, in conclusion, let me make a bold prediction.  Come the spring and Oscar time, the name Kristen Stewart will be announced as Best Actress in a motion picture, that picture being Welcome to the Rileys.  Kristen’s pert, cherry-tipped breasts will no doubt be awarded an honorary Oscar (she plays a stripper).  And when she climbs the stairs to the podium, every man, woman and child in the Hollywood auditorium will fill his or her pants in excitement.

There will not be a dry ass in the house.

Watch Trailers and Clips
 (click here) 

(Note: I originally posted this “review” at in October 2010)


© 2010-2019 (text only)




Just Another Boring Day in 1990  

You are a typical heterosexual male.  You’ve always liked James Bond movies – especially the “Bond girls.”  Playboy Bunnies are fantastic, as well; too bad you never meet any women like that in real life.  And then there are the starlets – those cute young things who routinely get their heads chopped off (or eyes gouged out) in lowbrow horror movies.  These eye-candy actresses never seem to go on to become Meryl Streep, so what the heck becomes of them?  They probably marry Texas oil millionaires.

So you drive to your mundane job in your cheap car, park the rattletrap, and then walk to the parking-lot elevator.   The year is 1990.  Another soul-killing Monday in your cubicle awaits.

But wait.  Who is that stunning creature sharing the elevator with you?   She looks like someone you know … you must be dreaming.  But no, you are not.  You are in this familiar, shoddy elevator with bubblegum stuck on the floor, and you can feel the band-aid on your chin where you cut yourself shaving … so you are definitely not still in bed.

But just look at this babe!  Didn’t you just see her in something?  Didn’t you just see her in something – naked?



(“The tone is crude, raunchy, and leering, with kill scenes combined with more nudity than usual; we’re even invited to check out a hot chick’s body after her face has been sliced in half by garden shears.” – Slant Magazine)



Why yes!  She was in Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning.  You just watched it the other day.  How the hell did she get in an elevator with you?



(“[Fans] were looking for sex, violence and creative kills.  This was delivered, including a pretty risqué and quite awesome sex-in-the-woods sequence, which was actually trimmed by the censors of the day.” 7M Pictures)



Maybe you should say something to her, find out if you are mistaken about all of this.  After all, what are the odds you are riding in the same elevator with a gorgeous actress from a famous horror movie – especially since you happen to be in Ft. Worth, Texas, not Hollywood, and on your way to your boring job?  The girl does not look at you.  She keeps her eyes on the floor.  Probably staring at that bubblegum.



(“Tina and Eddie sneak off to have sex in the woods.  The Act Itself is one of the steamier in the series, but the big number is after Eddie heads out to the river to wash up, and Debisue Voorhees rolls around and around to show off about 93% of her body, although she demurely crosses her legs to make sure that we don’t see something immoral.” – Antagony & Ecstasy)



You steel your nerves, clear your throat, and say hello to her.  Then you tell her that she looks familiar.  Has she acted in a TV commercial or something like that?



(“The worst Jason story, but the best nudity of the entire series!”



She smiles, giggles a bit nervously, and says no.  But by now you are convinced; you recognize that smile and that giggle.  You are in an elevator riding to your dead-end job with Debisue Voorhees, whom you later learn is also “Deborah Bradley,” erstwhile actress turned journalist working for the same company that you work for.



(“The spiciest entry in the series, it boasts the most T&A.”Slant Magazine)



The elevator reaches the ground, the doors open, and you watch as this woman a living, breathing symbol of sex in America strides down the sidewalk.  Did you just blow your only chance at dating an honest-to-goodness, genuine Hollywood starlet?




October, 2010:

Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning is on cable.  You watch it and you remember Debisue Voorhees.  You Google her.  You find her on Facebook.  You e-mail her.  Will she even know who you are?

A few days later, there comes a reply:




You are a typical heterosexual male, and you’ve always liked horror movies – and especially the starlets who appear in them. 


© 2010-2019 (text only)




Last House on the Left – groundbreaking movie, or a vile chunk of excrement?  Depends on who you ask.  Here are my random impressions after I watched the film and then the DVD commentary track featuring director Wes Craven and two of the film’s actors:

Oddly, Craven seems both proud and dismissive of his low-budget, career-defining movie.  He says he never revisits his first film, yet implies that its horrific violence was somehow a commentary on the Vietnam War.  Craven describes watching TV coverage of the war in 1972:  “American cinema did not show violence as I was seeing it in this [televised] footage.  It was ugly and it was sadistic, and there were sexual overtones … we were seeing, like, really shocking footage every night as we had our dinner.”  I wish he’d elaborated on the “sexual overtones” part of that statement.

Craven then claims that House’s “basic premise” was lifted from the Ingmar Bergman classic, The Virgin Spring, adding that his film’s over-the-top violence sprang from his own religious upbringing in a strict, Baptist household.  “It [making Last House] allowed me to be bad for the first time in my life … people would just be outraged and say, ‘Those naughty boys.’”


House2        House3


So, was Last House an anti-war statement, a rebellion against Craven’s puritanical parents … or simply a case of boys being “naughty”?  This quote from Craven might provide a clue:  “I think I wrote it more without thinking about it, than I did thinking about it.”

Porn actor-director Fred J. Lincoln, who plays the sadistic “Weasel” in the movie, isn’t nearly as ambiguous as Craven in his evaluation of the film’s legacy:  “Sometimes I wish I could forget I was there,” says Lincoln, “because as I watched them edit I thought, my God, this thing is disgusting.  No one is ever gonna look at this piece of shit … It sucks.”  Lincoln adds, “Actually, I wish it would have been banned in the United States, to be honest with you … probably about 80 girls got raped after that movie came out.  Not something to be proud of.”


House4        House5


And finally, there are the reminiscences of actor-musician David Hess, who is much happier with the film than Lincoln is, in particular a graphic rape scene featuring Hess and actress Sandra Peabody (Sandra Cassel):  “Sandra was your archetype, upper-middle-class Protestant – repressed Protestant … how do you deal with that?


House6  House7  House8


“I scared the living shit out of her, man.  She really thought I might – I started to pull her pants down and grabbed her tits and everything … and I looked up at Wes at one point and I said, ‘Can I?’ and then she freaked.”   Hess is clearly pleased as he recalls the infamous scene:  “Pulling her pants off, right?  And then drooling in her face, which I did intentionally.  It just so, it humiliated her.  There was all of a sudden this look.  It would have been easy to fuck her, right there on the set.  I mean, because she really gave in.  She gave up and you could see this look of fatality in her face.  That was real!”  Peabody, wherever she is, was not interviewed for the DVD.  

I’ll give Craven the final word:  “Either I’m a very sick bastard or I showed something that people don’t like to be shown, which I suspect is what the actual truth is.”


House9      House10

House11      House12


Director:  Wes Craven  Cast:  Sandra Cassel (Sandra Peabody), Lucy Grantham, David Hess, Fred J. Lincoln, Jeramie Rain, Marc Sheffler  Release:  1972


House13           Watch the Trailer  (click here)


© 2010-2019 (text only)


.      Demons1  Demons2


If ever there was a guilty pleasure that rewards the patient, it would be Night of the Demons (1988).  Viewers who manage to endure the excruciating first 45 minutes of this low-budget flick are rewarded by a story that – finally — delivers everything you expect from a campy haunted-house movie:  real scares, some wit and, oh yes, lots of gratuitous nudity.

But the trick is to make it to that halfway point.  Director Kevin S. Tenney apparently realized he had a script with a long opening act with very little action, so he employed a variety of offbeat shots, angles, and stage business to enliven things.  But there was no escaping a clichéd beginning:  Ten kids decide to party in spooky old Hull House.  They drink, tell jokes, play music, and make out.  Despite Tenney’s best efforts, this half of the movie is as familiar and mind-numbing as it sounds.  The acting is amateurish, the dialogue is lame, and the music is, well, 1980s.  But then ….

If you are still awake at halftime, you won’t have trouble keeping your eyes open the rest of the way.  Everything about Night of the Demons kicks into overdrive – the pace, the suspense, and the shocks.  The movie also becomes quite funny:  “I’m just warming my hands in the fire,” coos a smiling demon, raising her flaming fingers from the fireplace for a stunned onlooker’s appraisal.

Tenney wasn’t making Citizen Kane, but he did his best with a skimpy $1.2 million budget.  One of the producers explains the filmmakers’ attitude on the DVD’s commentary track:  “This is a crowd pleaser, it really is.  It’s a fun movie.  It doesn’t tax you too much … you just watch the pretty naked girls and the exploding heads and the cool shots and the funny cast and just party hearty.”  That you do – if you can make it past the midpoint.           Guilty Pleasure Grade:  B+

Gratuitous Screencaps:


Demons5     Linnea Quigley

Demons4     Amelia Kinkade

Demons6     Cathy Podewell

Demons3     Jill Terashita


Director:  Kevin S. Tenney  Cast:  Cathy Podewell, Alvin Alexis, William Gallo, Amelia Kinkade, Linnea Quigley, Jill Terashita  Release:  1988

Watch the Trailer  (click here)


© 2010-2019 (text only)