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Battle in Outer Space (1960)

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Toho Studios is largely known for monster movies, specifically Godzilla and all his brethren.  These are the movies that got played constantly when I was a kid on Saturday mornings.  Yes, I watched some cartoons, but the highlight of the day was seeing a giant lizard stomp all over Tokyo.

While the original Gojira and a few of its immediate sequels were serious (as well as some of the other members of the menagerie), they got sillier as the 1960s went on.  Silly even to the point that most of the other output of Toho, including their go-to director, Ishiro Honda, was largely forgotten.

Big monsters may be one thing, but Toho made some good sci-fi films as well and, while I hate to admit it, they were ahead of Hollywood for a period when it came to special effects.  It's no surprise they decided to do an all-out effects movie like Battle in Outer Space.

In the near future an international space station is attacked by alien saucers, who then proceed to cause mayhem on earth by demo…

Circle of Iron (1978)

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In the 1960s Bruce Lee was on the cusp of stardom.  Unfortunately, he had been working in the United States and trying to break into Hollywood which at the time was finally willing to break certain racial barriers.  In typical Hollywood form, that meant one particular race, and Mr. Lee didn't count.  Still, he persevered.

Circle of Iron was conceived as not just a martial arts film, but one that explored the philosophy of martial arts.  It had plenty of action and adventure, but ultimately had a lesson at its heart.  Lee wrote early drafts of the script, hoping to have Steve McQueen star in the lead.  McQueen was not willing to make Lee a star on his coattails, so James Coburn was the next choice.  Typical Hollywood situation arose, the script ended up in development hell, and the movie never surfaced.  By the time Lee had the influence to revive it and make it happen he had passed away.

I didn't know this about the movie when I started watching it, so when I started seeing ac…

Barbarian Queen (1985)

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If there was one thing the success of the first Conan the Barbarian film resulted in (other than making Arnold Schwarzenegger a star) it was creating another genre for the exploitation film industry to rip off.  Sword and sandal stuff wasn't anything new, as the Italian movie industry had pumped out countless movies about Hercules, but here there was suddenly a chance to go full out with the boobs and blood.

And that is, really, all Barbarian Queen is.  It simply looks like someone went down to the local gym, grabbed a bunch of women, made a stop at the hairdresser and filmed the movie over a weekend in their back yard and during the off-season where they hold the local Renaissance fair.

Amethea (Lana Clarkson) and Argan (Frank Zagarino) are preparing for their wedding when their peaceful village is attacked by forces led by the evil Arrakur (Armando Capo).  Most of the survivors are taken into captivity.  Amethea's sister Tiniara (Susana Traverso) is raped and captured by t…

Grindhouse (2007)

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Over the years, due to rising prices, the declining quality of movies and, honestly, lack of time, I have begun to see movies in the theater less and less.  I still enjoy going out for the monthly Cult Classics shows we have in Arizona, as well as seeing the some of the newer movies after being assured that I'm not just flushing my money away.

I think Gindhouse may have been the only movie I saw at a theater in 2007, for a combination of the above reasons and also the fact that I was in extreme pain in my lower right back.  I would love to say seeing this movie was what finally cured me, but it's more truthful to say that I was willing to sit through the whole thing despite of it (it was moving apartments which, somehow, fixed things; I guess whatever got displaced slipped back after hauling my record collection up stairs once again).

I have always liked cult films, so to have Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino (as well as a number of other directors doing the fake trai…

Disco Godfather (1979)

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Coming across a Rudy Ray Moore movie unknowingly is a mixed bag.  At the time of viewing this, the only one I had seen was The Human Tornado, which struck me as somebody's vanity project.  Dolemite will get watched and reviewed here at some point, but, for me, a little of his "acting" goes a long way.

After watching Disco Godfather, though, I realized how important he was, silly movies aside.  His status in the African-American community at the time this movie was made puts it into much more perspective.

Tucker Williams (Moore) is an ex-cop that has opened the Blueberry Hill Disco and become the Disco Godfather.  A local celebrity and DJ, his club is now the most renowned in the city, and it understandably draws both good and bad elements.  The bad elements are pushing PCP to the inner city youth, a fact that Williams becomes aware of when his nephew Buck (Julius Carry), an up-and-coming basketball star, freaks out in his club and has to be hospitalized.

Williams begins…

Not of This Earth (1988)

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In the late 1980s direct Jim Wynorski bet Roger Corman that he could remake the 1957 movie Not of This Earth for the same budget (adjusted for inflation) and on the same time scale.  I have no idea who won the bet, but what resulted was the same movie, except with more modern dialogue and references, as well as a good deal of nudity.

To promote it, Traci Lords, fresh off her scandal of making a series of adult movies while underage, was cast in the lead.

An alien (Arthur Roberts) travels to Earth and hides under the name of Mr. Johnson.  When he seeks help for his blood condition from Dr. Rochelle (Ace Mask), he decides to hire nurse Nadine Story (Lords) to attend him privately for twice-daily blood transfusions.  Through mind control, he sets Dr. Rochelle on the path of trying to find him a cure, while being unable to tell anyone about Mr. Johnson's strange nature.

Transfusions are not enough, and Mr. Johnson finds himself going around town to get the blood of animals and peopl…

Starcrash (1978)

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I remember back when I was a kid and Knight Rider was in its first run that I noticed Starcrash playing on the late show.  Even at that age I recognized it for what it was, and barely got through five minutes before shutting it off.  Needless to say, the reason I was even curious was because of David Hasselhoff, and I never even made it to any of his parts. 

I also never made it to Caroline Munro in a leather bikini, which may have changed my mind at that point if I did. 

Over the years I have seen this come up in many lists of bad movies that just have to be seen.  I finally got around to watching the whole thing and, as my luck would have it, right when it was coming up (unbeknownst to me) as an episode on the new Mystery Science Theater 3000.  Needless to say, they had a great time with it, and it was one of the highlights of the new season.

Stella Starr (Munro) and her navigator Akton (Marjoe Gortner) are fleeing from Imperial police when they come across an Imperial launch that …