Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #30: The Adventures of Hercules (dir by Luigi Cozzi)

(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of Tuesday, December 6th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)


On November 10th, I recorded 1985’s The Adventures of Hercules off of the Encore Family channel.

Let’s see if I can explain exactly what this film is about.  Bear with me because this is going to be a strange one.  For that matter, you might also want to bare with me because The Adventures of Hercules is all about displaying the physique of body builder Lou Ferrigno.  Ferrigno plays the legendary Greek demigod Hercules.  Or I should say that he provides Hercules’s body and occasionally a facial expression or two.  Since The Legend of Hercules was an Italian film, the entire cast is obviously and frequently awkwardly dubbed.  That includes Ferrigno.  Though Hercules doesn’t say much, when he does speak, he does so in a voice that really doesn’t go with his body, his personality, or anything that seems to be happening on screen.

Anyway, I guess I should try to explain the plot.  I should mention that The Legend of Hercules is a sequel to another Hercules film.  I haven’t seen the first Hercules film.  Maybe the Legend of Hercules would have made more sense if I had, though I somehow doubt it.

Basically, bad things are happening on Earth.  Why?  Well, it appears that four of the Gods have gotten together and stolen Zeus’s 7 Mighty Thunderbolts.  They’ve hidden the Thunderbolts across the planet, entrusting them with various monsters.  As a result of Zeus no longer having his thunderbolts, the Moon is now on the verge of colliding with Earth and human sacrifices are also being committed to a monster that looks a lot like the ID Monster from Forbidden Planet.  

What does a Mighty Thunderbolt look like?  Here you go.

What does a Mighty Thunderbolt look like? Here you go.

Two sisters, Urania (Milly Carlucci) and Glaucia (Sonia Vivani), appeal to Zeus for help but, of course, Zeus is powerless without his thunderbolts.  However, he can still sends his son Hercules (Lou Ferrigno) to Earth.  Working with the sisters, Hercules goes on a quest for the thunderbolts.  This basically amounts to a series of scenes in which Hercules battles various people in rubber suits.  Whenever Hercules throws a punch, he’s filmed so that appears that he’s punching the camera.  Whenever Hercules’s fist makes contact, there’s a flash of red.  Whenever anyone is knocked off their feet by Hercules, they flip around in slow motion.  This happens every ten minutes or so.

Now, I don’t want to spoil the movie but I simply have to tell you about this.  There is a scene, towards the end of the film, in which Hercules literally grabs hold of the Moon and prevents it from crashing into the Earth.

Anyway, the plot makes no sense and that’s a huge part of this film’s enthusiastic, if frequently inept, charm.  As directed by the famed Italian director, Luigi Cozzi, The Adventures of Hercules has this cobbled together feeling to it that is undeniably likable.  Much as with Cozzi’s best-known film, Starcrash, The Adventures of Hercules is a film that wins you over by pure determination.  Cozzi set out to make a mythological epic and he wasn’t going to let something like a complete lack of budget stop him.

How strange an experience is The Adventures of Hercules?  Check out some of these randomly assembled screen shots:









The other fun thing about The Adventures of Hercules is that, since this was a Luigi Cozzi film, the cast is full of Italian exploitation vets, the majority of whom were best known for appearing in far less family-friendly fare.

Here’s just a few of the performers you’ll find in The Adventures of Hercules:

Sonia Vivani, who plays Glaucia, also played the doomed sculptor in Umberto Lenzi’s infamous Nightmare City.

William Berger, who plays the villainous King Minos, appeared in several classic Spaghetti westerns, including Sabata.  Sadly, his promising career was cut short when he was framed for drug possession and spent several years in an Italian prison.  When he was finally freed, he ended up doing movies like The Adventures of Hercules.

Zeus was played by Claudio Cassinelli, an acclaimed actor who appeared in several giallo films.  He also co-starred in 1978’s infamous Mountain of the Cannibal God.

The evil High Priest was played by Venantino Venantini whose credits include everything from The Agony and the Ecstasy to Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead to Umberto Lenzi’s Cannibal Ferox.

Aphrodite is played by Margit Newton, who somewhat infamously starred in what is generally considered to be the worst zombie film of all time, Hell of the Living Dead.

Serena Grandi played Euryale (a.k.a. Medusa).  Grandi is probably most remembered for his grotesque death scene in  Antropophagus.  She was also the star of one of my personal guilty pleasures, Lamberto Bava’s Delirium.

And finally, the mad scientist Dedalos was played by Eva Robbins, who achieved immortality by playing the Girl on the Beach in Dario Argento’s Tenebrae.

The Adventures of Hercules might not be “technically” a good film but it’s definitely (and rather compulsively) watchable.

Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #29: A Mother’s Escape (dir by Blair Hayes)

(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of Tuesday, December 6th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)


A Mother’s Escape aired on Lifetime Movie Network on July 21st, 2016.

Reportedly based on a true story, A Mother’s Escape tells a story that, on its surface, should be familiar to anyone who has ever watched a Lifetime film.  After an argument with her abusive husband, Murel (Tara Buck) grabs her young son, Kipp (Spencer Mabrey), jumps in a car, and takes off in search of a better life.  When we first meet them, they’re driving through Oklahoma.  They stop at the house of Murel’s mother, Tess (Beth Grant).

From the minute that we first see Murel and Kipp, we feel like they know them.  Both Tara Buck and Spencer Mabrey inhabit these roles so completely that it’s easy to forget that we’re watching actors performing from a script.  Refreshingly, the film makes not attempt to idealize Murel.  She’s frequently immature and occasionally self-centered but the ultimately, she’s defined by her love for her son.  When she briefly talks to her husband on the phone, Murel is briefly tempted to return to him.  Like so many victims of abuse, she fears that she might not deserve better.  Fortunately, Tess is there to bluntly tell her that she does deserve better.

And so does Kipp.

Though her husband is not Kipp’s biological father, he did adopt him when he and Murel married.  After Murel leaves, he accuses her of kidnapping her own son.  Now, Murel must keep Kipp safe while also trying to avoid capture.

As I said, this might sound like a typical Lifetime film.  However, it doesn’t feel like a typical Lifetime film.  It moves at its own slow but steady pace, taking the time to allow us to get to know both Murel and Kipp.  As Kipp, Spencer Mabrey is refreshingly non-cutesy while Tara Buck gives an almost heart-breakingly poignant performance as his imperfect but loving mom.  As an added bonus, this film features some hauntingly beautiful shots of the Oklahoma landscape.

Though it may require some patience, A Mother’s Escape is one of the best Lifetime films that I’ve seen in a while.

The Atlanta Film Critics Society Embraces La La Land!


It wasn’t just the Los Angeles Film Critics who announced their picks for the best of 2016 today!  The Atlanta Film Critics Society also had their say.

Who won?

Find out below!













BEST SONG – “Drive It Like You Stole It” from SING STREET




Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #27 and #28: Who Killed JonBenet? (dir by Jason Lapyre) and JonBenet’s Mother: Victim or Killer (dir by Siobhan Walshe)

(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of Tuesday, December 6th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)


On November 5th, Lifetime aired a film about the murder of six year-old JonBenet Ramsey, Who Killed JonBenet?  They followed this film with a documentary called JonBenet’s Mother: Victim or Killer?  I did not watch the films when they originally aired, largely because, much like Girl In The Box and Cleveland Abduction, the subject matter sounded way too disturbing to me.  Instead, I just recorded them and, for a few weeks, both programs sat unwatched on my DVR.

Until earlier today, that is!

I watched both of them and then I quickly deleted both of them as well.  And now I’m going to write a few words about them.  In fact, I’m going to try to devote as little time as possible to these films.

Normally, I’m the first one to defend Lifetime and their movies.  If you’re a regular reader of this site, you know how much I love Lifetime movies.  I love them for the exact same reason that most people claim to disdain them.  It’s rare that I ever see a Lifetime film that I can’t enjoy or, at the very least, defend.

But, seriously, Who Killed JonBenet? was such a misfire that I barely know where to begin. In many ways, it’s a typical true crime film.  Suspects are identified.  Detectives find themselves caring about the case … TOO MUCH!  It ends on a note of surface ambiguity that’s deceptive because the film all but comes out and accuses Patsy Ramsey of murdering her daughter.

That thing that sets Who Killed JonBenet? apart is that the film is narrated by JonBenet Ramsey, who is apparently speaking to use beyond the grave.  JonBenet tells us that she’ll always be six.  And she tells us that one of the detectives is a nice lady.  And it’s such an icky technique that it pretty much makes the entire film nearly unwatchable.  Every time that we hear that cloying little voiceover, we’re reminded of two things: 1) this film is based on the real life rape and murder of a six year-old and 2) this movie was made specifically to exploit that event.  In the end, you feel guilty for watching the damn movie in the first place.

Seeing as how Who Killed JonBenet? basically accuses Patsy Ramsey of murder, it’s interesting that it was immediately followed up by JonBenet’s Mother: Victim or Killer?  JonBenet’s Mother explores Patsy’s life and pretty much comes to the conclusion that, while Patsy may have been a bit odd, she did not kill her daughter.  If anything, the documentary shows that Patsy was largely the victim of a vicious media.

Like, to name just one example, Who Killed JonBenet?

Anyway, let us never speak of these two movies again.  When I think of a Lifetime movie, I’d much rather think of Confessions of Go Go Girl.

The Los Angeles Film Critics Honor Isabelle Huppert, Adam Driver, and Moonlight


Oscar season continued today, with the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) naming their picks for the best of 2016!

Best Picture
Runner-up: LA LA LAND

Best Director
Winner: Barry Jenkins, MOONLIGHT
Runner-up: Damien Chazelle, LA LA LAND

Best Actor
Winner: Adam Driver, PATERSON
Runner-up: Casey Affleck, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

Best Actress
Winner: Isabelle Huppert, ELLE and THINGS TO COME
Runner-up: Rebecca Hall, CHRISTINE

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Mahershala Ali, MOONLIGHT
Runner-up: Issey Ogata, SILENCE

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Lily Gladstone, CERTAIN WOMEN
Runner-up: Michelle Williams, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

Best Screenplay
Winner: Efthymis Filippou and Yorgos Lanthimos, THE LOBSTER
Runner-up: Kenneth Lonergan, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

Best Cinematography
Winner: James Laxton, MOONLIGHT
Runner-up: Linus Sandgren, LA LA LAND

Best Production Design
Winner: Ryu Seong-hee, THE HANDMAIDEN
Runner-up: David Wasco, LA LA LAND

Best Editing
Winner: Bret Granato, Maya Mumma, Ben Sozanski, OJ: MADE IN AMERICA
Runner-up: Tom Cross, LA LA LAND

Best Music/Score
Winner: Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, LA LA LAND
Runner-up: Mica Levi, JACKIE

Best Foreign-Language Film

Best Documentary/Non-Fiction Film

Best Animation
Winner: YOUR NAME.

New Generation Award

Douglas Edwards Independent/Experimental Film/Video Award
THE ILLINOIS PARABLES from writer-director Deborah Stratman

Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #26: The Muthers (dir by Cirio H. Santiago)

(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of Tuesday, December 6th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)


On November 13th, TCM Underground aired the 1976 Filipino women-in-prison film, The Muthers!  And I recorded it!

Before I say anything about the film itself, I want to acknowledge how much I love the poster above.  I mean, that poster promises a film full of actions, thrills, and a healthy dose of girl power.  You look at that poster and you think to yourself, “The Muthers must be one the greatest drive-in films ever made!”

You might also think that from reading about the film’s plot.  The Muthers opens with Kelly (Jeannie Bell) and Anggie (Rosanne Keaton) sailing the high seas. It turns out that they’re pirates!  They forcibly board yachts and rob decadent rich people.  They’re good at their job and they have fun, too!  Even better, they’re constantly fighting a rival pirate, a blowhard chauvinist named Turko (John Montomgery)!  Turko only has one eye, that’s how much of a pirate he is!

If the film had just been Kelly and Anggie fighting Turko, The Muthers probably would be a classic.  However, since this is a Filipino women-in-prison film, Kelly soon discovers that her sister has been imprisoned on Get Out If You Can Island.  (Seriously, that’s what they call the island.)  The island is run by the evil Montiero (played by Tony Carreon, a perennial villain in Filipino cinema) and, if they don’t rescue her, Montiero will sell her into prostitution.

Naturally, Kelly and Anggie go undercover and infiltrate the island.  Sadly, the film gets kind of boring after Kelly and Anggie reach the prison.  One reason why Filipino exploitation films are so respected and loved by aficionados of grindhouse cinema is because they frequently went totally and completely over the top.  There was a shamelessness to the best of the Filipino grindhouse films and it makes them fascinating to watch.  The Muthers starts out like a classic, with the pirates and Turko and all that, but once Kelly and Anggie reach the island, the film becomes oddly restrained.  There’s little violence, little sex, only one notable use of slow motion, and the film even lacks the radical political subtext that runs through many women-in-prison films.  One can’t help but wonder what the late Jess Franco would have done with the same material.

So, sadly, The Muthers failed to live up to the promise of that poster.

It happens.


Mama Said I’m “No Angel”

Trash Film Guru


There’s something kind of fun about going into a new comic with no preconceived notions about it because you don’t know the first thing about any of the creators involved.

Okay, fair enough, I know that one of the writers of the new Black Mask Studios series No Angel, Adrianne Palicki, is a star on the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show, but I don’t know the first thing about her writing ability, nor that of her brother and co-author/co-creator (and, perhaps curiously, sole copyright holder) Eric. Artist Ari Syahrazad is a name I’m completely unfamiliar with, as is colorist Jean-Paul Csuka. So, yeah, as far as “unknown quantities” go, this book features nothing but. And that’s kinda exciting.


As is the premise here : a PTSD-afflicted Iraq vet named Hannah returns to her hometown after the murder of her father and brother and immediately smells a rat as far…

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