This article in fact contains two. First there's Ed Cleveland's
bit on bad films, then my bit on rather better films (at least I
think they are). The reason why there are two articles rolled in
one is that I actually re-discovered Ed's article at a really
late stage in the finishing of this issue of ST NEWS, at which
time I had already determined that there should be exactly 100
articles in this issue...
FIRST, ED'S BIT
"I don't take a whizz in anything I can't sit on or swim in."
Direct from North of England...
Eddie's Cat Un-Interactive presents...
A special showing for one night only of...
THE BAD PICTURE SHOW
by Ed Cleveland
Welcome to a new column in ST-News, one, which, if successful, I
hope will run for at least....er... one issue. This is a film
review column with a difference, in that it concentrates soley on
There are some films that are so bad they are, in a twisted sort
of way, good. They are enjoyably "bad". The classic example of
this would be "Plan 9 From Outer Space", as opposed to a
literally bad film like the American re-make of "The Vanishing".
Now, I know some of you may say that Jeff Bridges' bizzare
American/Dutch/French accent, and the clumsily happy ending
complete with feeble drugged coffee joke, does qualify it as an
enjoyably bad film, but I disagree. "The Vanishing" re-make is
just standard dull, predictable Hollywood fare, it's only when
you compare it to the infinitely superior Dutch/French original
that it then becomes enjoyably "bad".
What I'm talking about is real ineptitude, horror films that
make you smile, comedies where you're laughing at the
scriptwriter instead of the jokes, that sort of thing. The 1970's
were a golden age for bad films and it's no suprise that the
three examples I've selected below are all from that decade.
CONFESSIONS OF A POP PERFORMER
- or -
"Does bright blue eyeshadow really make women
more attractive to men?"
My first choice is a classic of British erotic cinema-
"Confessions of a Pop Performer", one of a series of films from
the 1970's known as the "Confessions" films. These told the story
of the sexual adventures of a bloke called Tim (he is actually
refered throughout the films as "Timmy", but as that is the sort
of name an old age pensioner would nowadays give to a cat, I'll
call him Tim) as he moved from job to job, each film themed on
his current profession, so there were films in the series such as
"Confessions of a Window Cleaner", "Confessions of a Driving
Instructor" and so on.
The "Confessions" films were supposed to be sex-comedies,
however, like a one-armed man juggling two chainsaws, the results
were not pleasant. Apart from their general awfulness, the main
thing that works against these films, is the country where they
Unlike in Holland, where people quite commonly make love while
waiting for a bus, or Sweden where people drive around in their
Volvos naked, the British establishment is still quite hung-up
about sex, and our censorship laws are very strict regarding the
matter, so a British sex film is somewhat a contradiction in
terms, just like an Ingmar Bergman comedy, in fact. However, one
of the unexpected pleasures of the "Confessions" films is
spotting the nowadays respectable Britsh actors who appeared in
these early 70's features because they either needed the money,
or were just starting their careers.
For instance, in "Confessions of a Pop Performer", Jill
Gasgoine, later to become famous for her portrayal of a top
police woman in the 80's British T.V. drama "The Gentle Touch",
plays the nymphomaniac wife of a concert promoter, a role that
has even less dignity than that of an "MTV Dance" presenter.
For those that are interested, the plot of "Pop Performer" is
this: Tims' brother becomes the manager of a rising pop band
called "Bloater". The band get their first big break but, due to
a weak joke involving a jammed door and people falling over each
other, the drummers' hand is injured. Tim takes on the role of
drummer for the band (which has now been renamed "Kipper") and
the concert is a success. The band then get to appear on a
prestigious variety show at which a classy audience including the
Queen of England (you know, that woman who can't speak English as
well as Richard Karsmakers) will be attending. But after the band
has finished playing, two female singers start a fight and
everyone's clothes are torn off. The curtain rises to reveal
naked people fighting on the stage in front of the Queen and due
to the scandal the bands' career is finished. The End. In between
all of this, Tim gets to have badly-simulated sex with lots of
women he has just met and some furniture falls apart. Here's the
funniest joke in the film: Tims' dad complains that he can't find
his false teeth, his mother answers that she used them to cut out
a pie crust she cooked just as Tim bites into that very same pie.
Ho, ho, ho.
Rating: A really bad film, a sex comedy that is neither sexy or
funny, this film gets a rating of, "rubbish" out of ten.
NIGHT OF THE LEPUS
- or -
"Eat them before they eat us!"
Next up is an American horror film called "Night of the Lepus",
despite this film being in the foreign language known as
"American English", I managed to understand it without the aid of
subtitles. This film straddles the border between entertainingly
bad and just dull, so it only just got into this article,
however, its' erm..."incredible" special effects managed to push
it over the line to qualify.
What is/are "Lepus" you ask? "Lepus" is an obscure term (Latin,
I think) for "Rabbits". Yes, that's right, it's a film about
giant fluffy bunnies on the rampage in a small town. The rabbits
grow to enormous size and wreck a town only to be defeated at the
last moment by the ingenious townsfolk. You may have already
spotted the slight snag in the potential for horror this film has
- rabbits are possibly the least terrifiying creatures on the
face of the earth. No matter how hard they waggle their whiskers
or hop about, rabbits have never, ever inspired fear in people.
What saves this film are the (not very) special effects. In
order to achieve the impression of giant rabbits rampaging around
a town, the producers of the film have built a small model town,
put some rabbits in it and let them wander about it, and them
film them close-up in slow-motion and dub on the sound of some
horses stampeding. This cleverly gives the exact impression to
the viewer of some rabbits filmed in close-up wandering around a
little model of a town in slow-motion with the sound of horses
stampeding dubbed onto the soundtrack.
To be honest I only saw the last half-hour of "Night Of The
Lepus" so I don't know why the Terror-Bunnies grew to giant size,
but with this sort of film it's usually safe to assume it was
atomic radiation from a newly-opened nuclear power plant or
failing that, invaders from outer-space experimenting with a
"rabbit grow ray" which is part of their plans for the invasion
of the planet ("Yes Bzerejik, after we make all the rabbits grow
to enormous size the Earthlings will be powerless to stop us! Ha!
The Pie Ingredients Of Doom are eventually stopped by getting
them to cross an electrified train track, upon which they die in
a frenzy of optically added cheap firework explosions and the odd
close-up of a glove puppet rabbit writhing in agony. Whether the
townsfolk then started up a chain of "RabbitBurger" fast-food
restaurants afterwards is never revealed, but the last scene
shows the day after "The Night Of The Lepus" - everything is back
to normal and a family casually walks along a track next to a
field, the camera moves away into the field where a small rabbit
sits twitching its' whiskers, and being generally "rabbitty". The
camera the moves in on the rabbit and ominous music starts as if
to say "Everything's back to normal now but at any minute these
harmless creatures could grow again to giant size and cause
terror - THE END", needless to say, I was so petriefied, I
Rating: Only worth watching for the un-special effects, Night Of
The Lepus gets an "intermittently dull" out of ten
- or -
"Are toads actually Sumo-wrestler frogs?"
I've saved the best until last, with my final selection,
"Psychomania". This is a British horror film, which, as well as
being unintentionally funny, does work as a watchable film in
its' own right too. It is an un-terrifying tale about the dangers
of dabbling in the supernatural.
The most immediately striking thing about this film is the
music, which is a bluesy 70's guitar rock sort of thing, imagine
some drunken old-age pensioners playing Black Sabbath songs in
the back of a pub, and you'll have a good idea of what it sounds
like. But enough of the music, on with the plot.
Tom is a biker who leads a biker gang called "The Living Dead",
a bunch of rebelious teenagers who habitually cause havoc in
shopping centres by riding through them on their motorbikes,
knocking men off ladders into conveniently placed piles of
cardboard boxes and causing bakers to stumble about, making their
bread and rolls fall off the trays they carry. The gang all wear
leather jackets with "The Living Dead" painted on the back and
each members' own name painted on the breast. This is a great aid
to the police who need to identify them later when they commit
some crimes, and I advise all public-spirited delinquent biker
gangs who wish to run riot and commit crime to do the same with
their leather jackets too.
Even though Tom is a rebel, he lives with his mother. Fans of
bad acting will be pleased to see that Toms' mother is played by
the British actress Beryl Reid, a woman who for years has played
every role she was in with utter incompetence, and in this film
she gives us yet another talentless performance to treasure. Of
course, the Queen of bad acting is generally recognised to be
Juliette "I'm pretending to be a five-year-old" Lewis, but old
Beryl certainly gives Queen Juliette a run for her money.
The idea of the film is that because Tom's parents dabbled in
the supernatural, if he kills himself and wants to come back from
the dead, he will do so and be invincible. Tom finds this out by
going into his late father's room and finding some spectacles
which trigger off some bad special effects which assault both
Toms' sanity and the viewers' credibility. Of course, the next
thing we see is a motorbike flying off a bridge with a clumsy
stuntman flailing his arms about as he falls to his "death". And
so Tom is now dead, and is buried by his biker gang in a field in
which there are some standing stones called the Seven Witches.
Legend tells that this large circular arrangment of seven rocks
were actually witches who had been turned to stone for breaking a
pact with the Devil (a similar pact that Toms' mother made, which
is relevant to the plot).
Tom is buried, along with his motorbike (!), sitting upon it in
the grave, wearing his bikers' leathers. Looking carefully at the
open grave with Tom in it, you can see that the hole is not deep
enough and that Toms' head sticks out of the top, something the
films' makers obviously overlooked. Anyway, the gang perform a
funeral for him, which consists of one of the bikers (who goes by
the bizzare name of "Chopped Meat") singing a song he has
composed, while the others make garlands of flowers. The lyrics
of Chopped Meats' song are worthy of the great Spinal Tap. Just
listen to a few lines:
"He really got it on,
He rode that sweet machine,
just like a bomb.."
"His heels, the black are jetting,
The haze of blue smoke threatting,
While the holy sound of revving,
fills the sky.
You can see the ghostly rider passing by..."
(Students of English should note that there is no such word as
"threatting", it should of course, be "threatening".)
Later that evening, a couple's car gets a flat tire. Of course,
this is a horror film so they must be some people who are about
to be killed. They stop by the Seven Witches. The man sets off
across the field to get to the service station. Just as he gets
to the Seven Witches, he hears the sound of a motorbike
revving... It gets louder... And louder... Tom rides out of his
grave on his motorbike and across towards him! He is killed
(apparently by having a bike ridden near him), and the
"psychomania" has claimed its' first victim...
Tom stops by the petrol station. He fills up and leaves without
paying, then drives off to a pub, orders a pint of beer, phones
his mum to tell her he's come back from the dead (She takes it
rather well, by the way) and kills two people. All in all, a good
The police are called in to investigate, and due to the subtle
clues on his jacket, soon come to the conclusion that the
murderer is called "Tom" and is part of a biker gang called "The
Living Dead". As murder is illegal in Britain, the police take
the case very seriously indeed...
Tom meets up with the rest of the gang and they all decide to
kill themselves so that they too can be immortal. However, the
"nice girl" of the gang, Abby has second thoughts and she is
confronted by Tom and all other now un-dead bikers. He gives her
a choice: Kill herself or he will do the job for her. But at that
moment Tom's mum (who has been unhappy about all this "un-dead"
stuff since Tom told her they were going to murder lots of
policemen and teachers) breaks her pact with Satan. Tom and all
the un-dead bikers turn into standing stones just like the Seven
Witches and his mum turns into a toad, the scary thing being, the
toad can act just as well as Beryl Reid!
Rating: A classic!
The question you may be asking (if you hav'nt already pressed
"Esc") is, "Where can I get to see these awful films?". Well,
there is no easy answer to this, you'll just have to watch out
for them. "Psychomania" sometimes turns up on British T.V but the
other two are pretty rare. I managed to catch the "Confessions"
film on the British satellite channel Sky Movies, and "Night of
the Lepus" was on the T.N.T. film channel a while back. It is
highly unlikely you'll be able to find these films at your local
video rental shop, (particulary if you live somewhere like
Finland) but don't worry there are plenty more examples of prime
filmic rubbish out there if you look hard enough, in fact, I have
recently been informed that there is a new giant among "bad"
films. Yes, directed by ex-Dutch film director Paul Verhoeven, it
is none other than "Showgirls", the tale of a woman who wants to
make it big in showbusiness by taking her clothes off, and
shaking her breasts at men. I havn't been able to investigate
this yet, but I recomend all you fans of bad films check it out
nethertheless. Happy bad film watching!
Finally, before I go, as this is the last ever issue of ST NEWS,
I'd just like to thank Richard, Stefan, and everyone else who has
ever contibuted to ST NEWS, for their fine service to the Atari
community. ST NEWS has consistently provided useful information
and excellent programming tutorials to everyone with a disk drive
and unlike the print magazines we've never had to pay too much
for it, or feel patronised by it. ST NEWS was also a disk
magazine that was not afraid to go beyond the normal limits of
such a publication - whether it was climbing up a mountain in
Norway or just impressing Anita Sinclair with tales of Math
Claessens adventure-solving skill, ST NEWS did it all. I thank
you all, I doff my cap to you, wish you well, and, in all
seriousness, as we say in England, "Thanks very much mate!"
(c) Eddies' Cat Un-Interactive 1996
AND NOW, THEN, FOR THE SECOND OF THE TWO ARTICLES...
"Caution: Opening Windows lets bugs in!"
MOVING BITS ON THE SILVER SCREEN SEEN
by Richard Karsmakers
(with a guest appearance by Karin)
Who needs an inane "starting paragraph" to a film review column
when, really, it's the films that are actually important? Nobody,
certainly, so that's why this one will be kept from beating
around the bush. Also because all the really current and
spectacular films are already in Stefan's one-off film reviews in
another article of this issue (which made this a bit of a
thankless undertaking to write).
Ace Ventura - When Nature Calls
Don't you, too, just love Jim Carrey? I mean, the guy needs only
look into the camera in a fairly ordinary way and already I fall
off my chair laughing, or at least just about. The man with the
rubber face has already graced quite a few successful films such
as "Ace Ventura Pet Detective", "The Mask", "Batman Forever"
(which I have yet to see) and "Dumb and Dumber" (which was kindof
funny, but the least of this series I'd wager). So off to the
cinema Karin and me went to see it. Although he duplicates rather
a few of the prequel's jokes and oddities, the film as a whole
did entertain us tremendously, and had is nearly shitting our
pants when the spasms of laughter rocked our bodies hopelessly.
Excellent film, which will probably survive very well the
translation onto video so go and rent it. And you definitely have
to have seen it if you like Carrey's absurd faces, him saying
"rrrrreehhehheehhellllyyy" and "llooohoohoohooseerrr", and him
doing the most stupid things. And it's got one corker of a near-
kiss scene, too!
"Seven" is a disturbing film, that actually left me nauseous and
shocked near the end, which I won't spoil for you by revealing.
The story: A police officer (Brad Pitt) and his colleague
(Morgan Freeman) investigate a mysterious and rather horrid
sequence of murders that eventually turn out to revolve around
the seven deadly sins. One guy turns out to have eaten himself to
death on spaghetti. Another guy has died on his bed, having lain
there slothfully for a rather prolonged time. A lawyer is
murdered because his life has been one of greed. And so the film
moves on, right through all but the last two sins that are, er,
addressed in the final couple of minutes.
Just thinking back of that ending, and identifying with it,
well, makes me feel all weird inside again. "Seven" is a
fascinating film, well shot, with a great atmosphere, a lot of
suspense and an end that only clairvoyants (and readers of rather
less discrete film reviews) will be able to predict.
Every year, or maybe every two years, the Walt Disney studios
release a truly excellent "evening-filling" film. A couple of
years ago there was "Aladdin", and some time later the really
great "The Lion King". Great soundtrack, great animation, a lot
of humour (especially "Aladdin", with the incorrigible Robin
Williams having had a major influence), and a fairly good story
This year, and I had seen it coming for a longer time already
because McDonald "Happy Meals" suddenly started having the
appropriate little "Toy Story"-related gifts, "Toy Story" was the
thing to see. So Karin and me did.
"Toy Story" is the story of a cowboy, who is the favourite toy
of the boy who owns it. But then ther boy gets a new toy on his
birthday, a space guy called Buz Lightyear. At start, the cowboy
(Dan?) really disliked Buz, who is a lot more flashy and all, but
in the end everything goes well, they become big friends, and
throughout that process they have stupendous adventures.
The thing that makes "Toy Story" special - for the made-to-
measure plot doesn't - is the animation technique. As you will
probably know, it's been executed entirely on computers, using
computer animation. Although the human forms are rather less
convincing, the rest is. I really admired the work that appears
to have been done, and it's quite incredible to behold as your
eyes get assailed over and over again by things that will no
doubt have taken shitloads of extra hours and dedicated work to
produce. That alone makes "Toy Story" worth watching for those of
us older than about 10 years. With a bit of computer scene
background, the enjoyment increases directly proportionally. Yes,
I think all you out there would really like this film.
The Bird Cage
The story cannot boast of an intricate plot; son of gay
'parents' (Robin Williams is the father, his 'wife' had nothing
to do with his procreation) tells his dad he wants to get
married; girl is pretty and utterly nice, yet daughter of
unearthly conservative parents (Gene Hackman is daddy the senator
who is mixed up in a tittilating scandal); the conservatives want
to flee their scandal-infected home town, and so the mother
conceives the luminous idea to visit their prospective son in
law's parents in Florida ("a wedding will restore the voters'
faith in us").
The centre of the story is that the gays' house will have to be
redecorated in a day in order to give the conservatives the
impression that Val's (the son's) parents are as American and
conservative as they are. Of course this preparation is
accompanied by many comic scenes, among which the by now famous
John Wayne-walk by 'Starina' (the gay 'mother' of Val).
Eventually, the conservatives arrive in South Beach, Fla., chased
by herds of journalists who would like to gather some
incriminating details about senator Keeley's private life.
Do not go to this film only to see Robin Williams acting, for
you will be sorely disappointed. Although his performance in it
is not minor, the actor who plays his 'wife' (so to speak) begs
much more of the audience's attention. She (one cannot possibly
call her a 'he', though theoretically, of course, one would have
to) provides the film with its main theme, the gay drag queen who
seeks for recognition. The way in which this is done is
definitely funny, though I had expected even more hilarious
scenes (but hey, that's me); however, I'm not so sure that the
gay community will be so happy with this exaggeration of certain
homosexual lifestyles. The impersonation of the demanding 'queen'
and her whims got a bit boring after the first half of the film,
but this image improved again afterwards. Disregarding that, I
thought the film was very amusing. The most striking appearance
was that of Agador, the gay family's Guatemaltecan 'servant', who
goes around singing and begging for a part in Williams' nightclub
programme (his response: "I'll say two words: green card"). Also,
towards the end of the film, any future watchers will be
surprised by the appearance of Gene Hackman in a posture that
reminded me very much of Leslie Nielsen. It's worth watching.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.