Posts Tagged ‘Camp


The Love Witch (2016)

Dear friends, I’m out of practice. Like way, way out of practice. But a movie like Anna Biller’s The Love Witch is enough to get me hopping back into the game. I mean, a blog called schlockwave couldn’t in good conscience not write about this campy homage to sixties sexploitation.

Life can be a fairy tale, if you just give your Prince Charming everything he wants!

What do men want? Elaine, The Love Witch knows: “Just a pretty woman to love; to take care of them.”  Fresh off the loss of her husband Jerry (they couldn’t prove she killed him) she’s ready to explore the sea for bigger, better fish. Using sex magick she woos all sorts of men, only to discover they’re never as good as they seem. In fact, she dazzles them so much she turns them into whimpering crybabies – and Elaine has no time for crybabies!

This film is gorgeous. It’s shot on 35mm and the colors pop amazingly. I want to live in Elaine’s technicolor world. You spend 90% of the time immersed in the 1960’s – the props and clothes are spot on (not to mention to die for – my GOD I want every decanter in this film), until Elaine’s friend Trish pulls out a cell phone, or you see a modern Subaru next to a classic

Wiccans know how to party – naked, and in a circle.

car. The acting and pacing is also pretty-well perfectly matched to any classic sexploitation horror flick you can think of. It’s obvious Anna Biller has done her homework (and though I have not yet seen Viva it’s pretty darn high on my list now).

I admit when it was over, I knew that I’d enjoyed it – but I wasn’t sure if I loved it or not. It seemed strange to me that there were anachronisms like cell phones and new cars in this world that was obviously painstakingly made to look like another time and place. I’d also wondered exactly what it was trying to say – was there a coherent message?

After giving it some thought, I’ve at least interpreted it in a way that does make me love it, and makes me want to see it a second time. We’re never quite sure what Elaine’s real motivation is. Sure, we know


it’s love but what does that mean, and why? We know that Elaine was berated by her husband, humiliated by her father, and schooled into the world of sex magick by a dude. A bunch of different dudes expecting different things out of a woman, and a woman feeling conflicted trying to fulfill all these different roles? Add to that the confusion and conflict between Elaine and Trish – each one wants to be like the other – until they realize they don’t. Think of how much easier it would be for these women to navigate social expectations if only they could support each-other instead of hide behind jealousy and lies? These problems are timeless and persistent, and perhaps those anachronisms are saying that though we feel modern, we’re still stuck in the same old world where women are subjugated rather than celebrated.

This movie is well worth a watch. It is beautiful, hilarious and even shocking at times. I am loving all these flicks paying tribute to the beauty (and idiocy) of exploitation horror. This, The Editor, The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears – love them all. Keep them coming!


Deathstalker II (1987)

I’ve never been too interested in fantasy movies. Not that I dislike the few that I’ve seen, it just hasn’t been a genre I’ve sought out. The first time I saw the Conan movies I was nearly thirty, and I definitely enjoyed them quite a bit. And just recently, I watched Krull for the first time – another fun movie! But there was something missing from these movies that kept them firmly in three-star territory, and that is self-awareness, something Deathstalker II has in spades!

Meet Deathstalker: negotiator extraordinaire, incorrigible playboy, King of thieves.

Meet Deathstalker: negotiator extraordinaire, incorrigible playboy, King of thieves.

Deathstalker (John Terlesky) is the king of thieves, scouring the medieval landscape for fortune and fame. Though he likes to come off as a selfish dude, it’s clear he can’t leave a damsel in distress behind, no matter how dim-witted she might be! When Deathstalker sees a peasant girl (Monique Gabrielle) beaten by the King’s guards, he fights back in her honor. After handily beating the oafish guards, Deathstalker decides it’s time for a little menage-a-trois, and hits up the local tavern for some sweet titties and a few brews. But it looks like our peasant girl is in some serious trouble, and desperately needs Deathstalker’s help! He really has no choice but to go along with her and her crazy story about how she is actually a princess, but Jarek the Sorcerer (John Lazar) cloned her and usurped the throne! She claims to be a seer, and promises Deathstalker that if he succeeds in helping her reclaim her throne, he will become a legend!

I never really thought of bananas as part of the sword-and-sorcery landscape, but Monique Gabrielle makes it look good!

I never really thought of bananas as part of the sword-and-sorcery landscape, but Monique Gabrielle makes it look good!

As the duo travel to the Princess’s castle, they encounter many strange things, like exploding dwarves, zombies, and a village of Amazon women! Each time, Deathstalker and the Princess make it out by the skin of their teeth, thanks mostly to Deathstalker’s unfailing charm and, of course, flawless physique! The Princess claims Jarek’s sword skills are superior to Deathstalker’s; what will happen when they make it to the castle? Can Deathstalker come through in the end?!

Sure there's plenty of boobs in Deathstalker II, but they throw the ladies a bone every once in a while!

Sure there’s plenty of boobs in Deathstalker II, but they throw the ladies a bone every once in a while!

Deathstalker II is 85 minutes of pure, idiotic enjoyment. I honestly can’t remember the last time I enjoyed watching a film as much as I enjoyed watching this one. The first time I saw it on VHS, I knew we needed to have a copy on DVD. After the second time I watched it, I had to watch it a third time the next day because it is so much FUN! This movie doesn’t take itself seriously for a single second, and that is the biggest reason for its success. The second-biggest reason is definitely Terlesky’s performance as Deathstalker. He is constantly winking, incorrigible to the max, and let’s admit it ladies, he’s pretty easy on the eyes. Next up is John Lazar’s Jarek, chewing up every bit of scenery he’s given, obviously having a blast.

John Lazar, hamming it up with the best of them!

John Lazar, hamming it up with the best of them!

Of course, for every good performance there are some equally bad ones: Monique Gabrielle’s acting is cringeworthy at best, and we get to see her in two different roles! That being said, as bad an actress as she proves to be in this film I thoroughly enjoy her performance here. I think it actually enhances the silliness of the movie in a positive way; unfortunately, Q does not agree! Then there’s Toni Naples who plays the evil Sultana, Jarek’s right-hand woman. She’s pretty awful too; she just isn’t in it as much as Gabrielle. But let’s get real here: we aren’t watching Deathstalker II for great acting, amirite? Both Gabrielle and Naples deliver just about as much as you should expect with lines like these! This movie delivers on everything it should: boobs, swords and sex. What more could anyone ask for?


Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2001)

31 Days of Horror 2014, Day 3: Elvira’s Haunted Hills! Thirteen years after Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, Cassandra Peterson and John Paragon team up once again in another campy horror parody starring Peterson’s boobs. This time it’s 1851, and Elvira and her right-hand woman Zou Zou travel through the Carpathian mountains on their way to Paris, where Elvira hopes to become a can-can star. But traveling through the mountains at night can be a very scary enterprise, especially for two buxom ladies!

Elvira & the good Dr. Bradley Bradley

Elvira & the good Dr. Bradley Bradley

It’s a good thing the dashing young doctor Bradley Bradley swoops in and saves the day, offering to bring the ladies to Castle Hellsubus, where they can get a good night’s sleep (or, you know, not). Naturally, the castle is nothing more than a host for horrors, including Lord Vladimere Hellsubus (Richard O’Brien) himself! But what’s scarier is the fact that our Mistress of the Dark looks an awful lot like the deceased Lady Hellsubus. Elvira’s presence brings bad memories to the forefront. Can Elvira and Zou Zou survive Vladimere and his castle of terror?!

Elvira not Elvira!

Elvira not Elvira!

This movie is basically a send-up of the Roger Corman/Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe set; you’ll see scenes straight out of The Pit and the PendulumFall of the House of Usher, Tomb of Ligeia, among others. Of course, these scenes have a lot more cleavage. I think it’s fair to say there’s a pretty small set of folks who will enjoy this film. First and foremost, you gotta be into tit jokes, because they’re all over the place. This works well for me; they never get old, and I just love the shit out of Elvira. Second, of course it helps if your familiar with older horror movies from the early 60’s, but even if you don’t know the exact movies that are quoted here, you’ll still recognize the tropes for sure.

Elvira & Vlad, out for a cemetery stroll...

Elvira & Vlad, out for a cemetery stroll…

Unfortunately, though it is amusing, Haunted Hills doesn’t come close to being the awesome flick Mistress is. I guess that magic was just a little too hard to recreate? Or is it that my expectations where high after being so pleasantly surprised by Mistress? Either way, I certainly don’t regret seeing Haunted Hills, and would gladly put it on for a Halloween party. It certainly isn’t a bad way to spend a day in October. Richard O’Brien overacts to a tee and is a complete joy to watch. And might I say again how awesome Cassandra Peterson is? Sure, some of the jokes may fall flat, but she knows exactly what’s up. And damn, woman looks good!


Serial Mom (1994)

Maryland isn’t a bad state to be from. We’ve got the Chesapeake Bay (nevermind the fact that it may be destroyed in a few years, it was awesome once) and with it, Old Bay seasoning. There’s Natty Boh and marriage equality. I guess there’s some other cool stuff, but when it comes to movies us Marylanders can boast that we come from the same state as the one and only trash king John Waters, and that’s the coolest thing of all!

It’s hard to believe Serial Mom will be my first John Waters entry, and that it’s taken me 300 movies to get here! As a young, curious movie lover I somehow got my hands on a copy of Pink Flamingos. I really wish I remembered more about how I’d heard of it; I’m not sure if I read about it because I’ve always had an affinity for garbage, or if it was more available to me in the Maryland suburbs than it would have been to me elsewhere. It doesn’t really matter how I got my hands on it, but that videocassette circulated throughout my high school and I never got it back. I did earn a reputation for being weird, though, and I’m glad for that. At any rate, Serial Mom is quite a different film than Pink Flamingos, and that is not a bad thing. Comparatively it’s downright wholesome.

The Sutphins are good at putting on a happy face...

The Sutphins are good at putting on a happy face…

The Sutphins are the picture of suburban happiness. There’s Misty (Ricki Lake), a boy-obsessed teenager. Her brother Chip (Matthew Lillard) runs a video store and his favorite movies are, naturally, gory 60’s exploitation (he’s got good taste). Papa Eugene (Sam Waterston) keeps everyone in business by providing the town with the best dentistry around. And then there’s Mama Beverly, just about the best mom anyone could ask for. And, like any good mother, she’ll go to the ends of the earth to keep her family happy.

But there is trouble in paradise! A pair of cops stop by with a horrendous note one of the Sutphin’s neighbors received and, I can barely type this, it said ‘PUSSY’ on it! What a shock! Of course the Sutphins know nothing about this, after all Beverly can barely even say the “p” word! That’s what she says, at least, but does she, in fact, relish saying that very word? As soon as the cops leave and the rest of the family is off, she runs upstairs to make an obscene phone call to her neighbor! Oh dear, it looks like things aren’t exactly what they seem in suburban Maryland!



Surely we’d be willing to forgive Beverly for a few obscene phone calls and letters. Life as a stay-at-home mom can be mundane, you can’t blame her for finding her own way of spicing it up a bit. But it seems Beverly harbors a secret much worse than obscenity! When Chip’s teacher suggests he see a therapist due to his lust for gory flicks, Beverly loses it and it’s curtains for the teacher. And that’s just the beginning! Mrs. Sutphin has lessons to teach all over town; there’s that kid who never wears his seatbelt, that woman that never recycles, and worst of all that old cow who never rewinds her videotapes!

All those slobs probably deserved it, right? It’s about time someone whipped this town into shape! The trouble is, Beverly’s not so good at covering her tracks. Her family and the cops are all sure that she’s the culprit behind the rash of murders. But she might be charming enough to get herself out of it, and if her kids can sell the story to the right media outlets, the Sutphins might even stand to profit!

It's amazing what people will do behind closed doors.

It’s amazing what people will do behind closed doors.

Serial Mom is a sheer work of genius! Beverly’s maniacal obsession with her family’s happiness, neighborly duty and outward appearance trumps any sense of right and wrong. What a perfect way to show how people can get wrapped up in the most mundane details of life while forgetting the bigger picture, namely that, you know, murder is wrong. Serial Mom is the other side of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet: They both depict the dark side of suburbia and the secrets hidden underneath the idyllic veneer of singing robins and picket fences, and both have quite a bit of voyeurism involved. The difference is Waters does it with outrageous humor rather than dark drama — instead of finding weird freaky rape fantasies played out behind closed doors, Beverly finds something she considers much more horrifying: people eating without forks!

Beverly has perfected the deer-in-the-headlights look.

Beverly has perfected the deer-in-the-headlights look.

Not only does Waters do a great job of showing how despicable suburban life can be, his handling of the Sutphins’ rise to fame as a result of Beverly’s murder spree offers pretty pointed commentary on the shamelessness of good old American entrepreneurialism and thirst for fame. Q pointed out that Natural Born Killers did the very same thing the very same year, and though that film had a good bit of humor in it as well, it wasn’t a comedy first and foremost. In Serial Mom Waters saturates the screen with parodic (roast as murder weapon?) over realistic violence. Ultimately, I’d have to say I prefer comedy over drama or violence as the vehicle for any message; usually things are funny because they are true.

But the greatest thing about Serial Mom is that it isn’t trying to convince you how horrible things can be under the covers. Instead, it assumes you already know that people are dirty and gross, no matter what they look like on the outside. Waters is just showing us what we already know, or at least suspect, about our neighbors. And maybe that’s the biggest difference between him and Lynch; Lynch relies on naïveté and innocence for his films to be effective, whereas Waters not only makes fun of the concept of innocence, he tries to prove that true innocence and naïveté are, in fact, rather rare. If we’d all get off our high horses and laugh about camel toe once in a while, wouldn’t the world be a better place?



Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989)

scenesvhscoverWhat’s that you say? Paul Bartel writes and directs a movie about Hollywood sexual dysfunction? Maybe after a few years of success with their restaurant, Paul & Mary Bland turned into the types of characters that populate Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills? Stranger things have happened, especially in California

Clare (Jacqueline Bisset) is a brand-new widow, but that’s not stopping her from trying to brighten up her fading Hollywood star! Neither are several appearances by her husband’s ghost. She’s invited her neighbor, Lisabeth (Mary Woronov) to stay over while she gets her house fumigated. And so begins a bet between Lisabeth’s chauffeur, Frank, and Clare’s houseboy, Juan (Robert Beltran). If Frank bangs Clare first, Juan owes him five grand. If Juan gets to Lisabeth first, Frank forks over the bucks. If neither are successful in a few days’ time, Frank gets to bone Juan. Because that makes sense, right?

This bet, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg: the real in(s)anity is comes from the rich folks, not their employees. Clare and Lisabeth have their issues, but things get even more interesting when Lisabeth’s ex-husband Howard (Wallace Shawn) stops by for a visit, and runs into an old flame of his (and also porn star) To-Bel, who is now married to Lisabeth’s brother, Peter (Ed Begley Jr.).

There is so much more going on, but I’ll let you discover it all for yourself. Unfortunately, this is a movie very few people have seen, it seems. It doesn’t appear to be readily available on Region 1 DVD (except for the one I saw on Amazon for $260?). I think Vincent Canby summed it up pretty succinctly when he wrote: Scenes From the Class Struggle is one long smile with an occasional belly laugh” I’d throw in a few chuckles, too. It’s goofy, silly and fun. In short: pretty good, but nowhere near as good as Eating Raoul. Few things are, though. Right?


Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

Elvira can't help it; she was born this way.

Elvira can’t help it; she was born this way.

I’m a little bit of a late bloomer: it took me 30 years to meet the man I married, 31 years to get my Driver’s License, 32 years until I learned what bukkake meant (ahem, not by experience, mind you), and, perhaps most shocking of all, 33 years until I finally saw Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. In short, my thirties have been wonderful (and educational); I’ve learned that some things are worth waiting for. Elvira is one of them.

Fresh off a Pee Wee’s Playhouse marathon, we decided to change the tune a little bit and flipped on this flick. Lo and behold, John Paragon (also known as Jambi the Genie from the aforementioned Playhouse) has a cameo and co-wrote it! Synchronicity!

Elvira’s job as a bad-movies-on-tv hostess just isn’t doing it for her anymore, so she’s decided to pack it all up and do a show in Vegas. Elvira and Vegas seem a match made in heaven, but there’s a catch: the

She's a little clumsy, too!

She’s a little clumsy, too!

producers need her to come up with a large chunk of cash that she just doesn’t have. Perhaps the estate bequeathed to her by her recently-departed (and unknown-to-her) Great Aunt Morgana will yield the dollars she needs?

Or, perhaps not! Elvira must travel all the way to Fallwell, Massachusetts for the reading of the will, where she encounters her greedy Uncle Vincent and a “Morality Club” hell-bent on getting Elvira’s cleavage out of their chaste town! But when Elvira learns that her Great Aunt Morgana wasn’t just your average old lady, things really get cooking, and Elvira turns the town upside down!

But she sure knows how to put the fun back into that morality picnic...

But she sure knows how to put the fun back into that morality picnic…

Well, a movie like Elvira can really only be one of two things: hilariously stupid or just plain stupid. Lucky for us all, it falls into the first category. It’s chock-full of suggestive puns and cleavage, but benign enough to have earned a PG-13 rating. It’s the kind of movie I would have watched a thousand times as a kid, with half the jokes sailing over my head. It’s exactly the kind of movie I like to stumble upon, and I seriously cannot believe it hasn’t crossed my path until this recently. I can’t say I’m surprised that Cassandra Peterson and the film itself were nominated for Razzies, but the truth is I kind of am: I feel as though Elvira accomplished all the goals it set out to in exactly the ways it wanted to. What’s so bad about bad puns, anyway?


Death Race 2000 (1975)

America's sweetheart, Frankenstein

America’s sweetheart, Frankenstein

In a lot of ways, Death Race 2000 is my ideal movie. It’s got science fiction, horror, comedy and camp. While definitely not the first cocktail of its kind, it might be one of the first to do it so perfectly. It might be one of the best examples of a movie exploiting exploitation.

I guess a little back story might be in order, so I will relay to you what my husband told me, which is something along the lines of: Roger Corman wanted a gory action science-fiction flick, and director Paul Bartel wanted something goofy, campy and self-aware.

If you ask me, Bartel wins in the end, and thank gods! The final product, apparently hacked and re-

Mary Woronov as Calamity Jane

Mary Woronov as Calamity Jane

hacked in Corman’s interests, is still most definitely heavy on the campy goofiness we’ve come to rely on Paul Bartel for, and frankly, what we’ve come to rely on Corman for, too.

Anyway, the movie is just about what you’d expect from a flick titled Death Race 2000: it’s a dystopian future, and it’s time for the annual Transcontinental Road Race, where participants are followed by camera crews as they drive race cars through the American landscape and take out innocent bystanders along the way.

What starts off as a typically bloody annual celebration of the new America’s moral nadir quickly turns into a different kind of scandal: a revolutionary group has infiltrated the race, and young Annie has been sent along to destroy America’s

And of course, Sly.

And of course, Sly.

favorite racer, Frankenstein (David Carradine, hubba hubba!). Will the resistance succeed in overthrowing the corrupt government?

This movie is just so darn wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am excited to watch it again. I mean, really, the only way to watch a race car movie is by laying on the camp pretty thick and making the blood Herschell-Gordon-Lewis red. And by having Sylvester Stallone play a really dumb guy. And Mary Woronov playing a chick called Calamity Jane! And David Carradine in a latex body suit?! So many reasons to say yes.


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