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B-Movie Reviews
Joe Bob Briggs

The Official Home of America's Drive-In Movie Critic Extraordinaire

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Puppet Master (1989)

As soon as you start writing in the newspaper about people you know,

you’re suddenly in deep dog doo-doo. Two weeks ago I revealed publicly, for the first time, that Ugly-on-a-Stick was pregnant, and I haven’t had a good night’s rest since then.

Two in the morning, I get phone calls. “Joe Bob, I want you to know that I am not the daddy of that ugly little fetus, and if you say I’m the father, I’ll sue you. In fact, if you just think I’m the father, I’ll sue you. In fact, if you’re thinking right now to yourself, ‘Maybe this guy’s the father,’ then I’ll sue your hiney from here to Nairobi, Kenya.”

And then I’ll explain to em how it doesn’t matter who the daddy is, because Ugly-on-a-Stick doesn’t care who it is, and even if she did care, they have these Genetic DNA Magic Mucus test where they scrape some drool off the baby and they can tell exactly who spermatized the baby.

But that doesn’t satisfy em.

“I’ll pay any amount of money for the child’s support–baby facelift, whatever it might need–but I do not want anything in the paper about it.”

At first, I though they were all embarrassed at the idea of having a baby out of wedlock, then it hit me what it was: these men had all had actual sex with Ugly-on-a-Stick. Excuse me for a moment:


All right, I can continue now.

“It is a pretty disgusting idea,” Ugly-on-a-Stick said when I told her about the phone calls. “I sure wouldn’t wanna have sex with me. And, actually, that’s one of the best things about being me. It would be impossible for me to ever have sex with anything that ugly.”

“Chloris,” I said . . .

“Call me Ugly, Joe Bob.”

“Ugly, I’ve noticed you’re putting on a few ounces around the ribs there. Might be time to go in and get a . . .”

Fifteen minutes later, after I got really disgustingly sick from the thought of it, I finished the sentence.

” . . . a gynecology check-up.”

“I hope we can find a boy doctor this time.”

“You know better than that, Ug. All the male doctors refuse to examine you. There’s that one that worked in a Bolivian war zone, but he’s 94 now and I’m not sure it’s safe.”

“He was soooo sexy.”

“Listen, Ug, I think you’re gonna need one of those amnio-alphabet baby-scan radar videos. The deals where they take a picture of your baby while it’s still inside. That way they can tell whether it’s a normal baby or, well, you know.”

“You mean they’re still worried about a baby so ugly that he’ll kill me?”

“It’s not so much the ugliness that’ll kill you. It’s the idea of a normal eight-pound baby in your 42-pound mother’s body. If you’re lucky, maybe the baby will be, like, three ounces. Then you’ll be very safe. Otherwise, Ugly-on-a-Stick is gonna look like Soap-on-a-Rope. It’d also be a surefire way to tell whether you’re actually pregnant or whether this is what you call your hysterical pregnancy.”

“What’s a hysterical pregnancy?”

“That’s when you have sex with one of the Gonzalez brothers and you start thinking about what would happen if you were to give birth, and you get real hysterical.”

“It’s probly not that,” said Ugly.

“Why not?”

“Cause I’m uglier than all the Gonzalez brothers.”

“I hadn’t thought of it that way.”

“They’re the ones that’d get hysterical.”

“They already have.”

“Let’s make a video of my amnio-alphabet,” Ugly told me. “I might want to release it in the theaters.”

“Okay, but Jack Valenti isn’t gonna like it.”

Speaking of creatures almost as grotesque as Ugly-on-a-Stick, “Puppet Master” is the first zombie-marionette movie, following in the footsteps of “Child’s Play,” last year’s Drive-In Academy Award winner about Chucky the demon-possessed doll. The idea here is that William “Icky” Hickey, the actor you hire when you want people to say “Ooooooh, he’s so oooooooold,” learns how to do Egyptian voodoo on some puppets and make them come alive. But then the Mafia comes to waste him and he has to hole em up in the wall of a hotel so nobody will find em after he’s dead.

Fifty years later and–whoops!–a crazed psychic finds the puppets and discovers the Egyptian voodoo secret and kills himself so he can come back as a zombie. This is what distinguishes “Puppet Master” from your run-of-the-mill zombie flick. Most zombie movies, people are trying to explode the heads of the zombies. This one, everybody comes to the hotel to study the zombies, like scientists. There’s a whole pack of New Age channel-changers checking in, hoping they’ll find out how to jump-start old pieces of furniture, turn it into zombie material. But meanwhile, the puppets are starting to turn mean, specially this one that looks like a pinhead bodybuilder with arms like Swift’s Premium hamhocks. The best thing about the Puppet Fu that’s about to befall every visitor to the hotel is that David Schmoeller, the drive-in director who also made “The Seduction” and “Crawlspace,” has created a special Zombie Puppet Cam that lets you see all the people die at Puppet Level! You see the beauty here? It’s one thing to say, “I wonder what it would look like if a puppet with a dentist’s drill in his head ran straight at your brain and just drilled his way right through.” But it’s another, entirely different thing when you say “What would the same thing look like if you were eight inches high and so all you could see was this enormous blood-spurting brain?”

Yeah, it’s that sick–one of the best of 89.

One breasts. Five dead bodies. Brain splattering. Head drilling. Leg drilling. Close-up finger hacking. Green blood-spitting. Blood-sucking stomach leeches. Puppet rassling. Zombie maid. Zombie dog. Extremely kinky sex. Heads roll. Fingers roll. Leech Fu (you wouldn’t believe it). Drive-In Academy Award nomination for Irene Miracle, as the white witch-lady fortune-teller, for saying “You are in great danger–do not go near the fireplace” and, to the grieving widow, “Your husband was a despicable greedy bastard”; Robin Frates, as the widow, for saying “Who are you people?”; Paul LeMat, as the sensitive Alex, for saying “I had this dream and I came here to make sure it didn’t come true”; Jimmie F. Skaggs, as the psychic zombie, for saying “I’m tired of experimenting with silly puppets” right before five puppets tear him limb from limb; and David Schmoeller, for the Puppet Cam.

Four stars.

Joe Bob says check it out.


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Punk Vacation (1990)

Do you have five minutes, do you have the time?

I would like to show you any dang fool can rhyme.

And if you do it all day, and you do it all night,

Then after a while, it don’t even seem trite,

And if you’re real real fat or you’re real real black,

You’re gonna get you a million-dollar record contract,

And I know the last line really did not rhyme,

But you don’t even have to rhyme all the time,

All the time,

All the time,

You don’t even have to rhyme all the time.

When you miss a rhyme, or you miss a beat,

Just direct attention to your dancin feet.

Do the splits, do the limbo, do the jakeleg strut,

Put your elbow in your mouth and a flag on your butt.

You’ll forget what you’re talkin bout, but don’t give up,

Just mumble mumble mumble mumble ice cream cup,

The only word they understand’s the last one in the line,

So design a fine sign for a porcupine.

But I can hear you now, you don’t believe it’s true,

You’re wondering “That’s really all I gotta do?

There’s gotta be more to it, you’re playing a trick,

And Jack jumped over the candlestick.”

You see what happened? You did it, too–

You made a stupid rhyme cause you didn’t know what to do.

That’s all there is to it, here I’ll show you how,

If I say “Goat,” then you say “Cow.”

“But it doesn’t make sense!” I can hear you say,

And that’s the beauty of it! Come on, let’s play,

If I made a rhyme about a three-legged donkey,

Then you say, “You’re a crazy jive Looney-Tune honkey!”

You can go on for hours doing the same dang thing,

You can make a lot of jack and never learn to sing,

You can buy a fancy tour bus with a fold-out bed

And make the girls forget you went to Special Ed.

Special Ed,

I said, Special Ed,

Make the girls forget you went to Special Ed.

You might think people’d get a little sick of rap,

And turn it off their radio, and wipe it off the map,

But it’s been six, seven years now, and the jaws still flap–

Can I stop now? Is it over? Please! Enough of this . . .

Speaking of stuff left over from the eighties, “Punk Vacation” is an outstanding flick about what would happen if some bored punkers from El Lay decided to go up to the Bakersfield area and start wasting desert rats? Who would win? People with orange hair or people with red necks? Whichever way, it’s gonna be darned fun finding out, isn’t it?

It starts out with a highway cafe owner’s biggest nightmare–a punk biker loses 40 cents in the Coke machine and starts kicking the mother in. Only one solution for that: double-barreled shotgun to the throat, until the guy Harleys his hiney out of there. Unfortunately, he comes back with a few FRIENDS who think it would be a neat idea to stiletto the old geezer in the stomach while his impressionable young daughter watches, and then rip the little girl’s blouse off. By the time the local Deputy Dawgs show up, all they manage to get is one lousy biker, splattering him across the hood of a car and putting him in intensive care. And, by then, the Head Mama Punker has set up a Charlie Manson rock-and-roll party at an abandoned ranch out by Tehachapi. All they need now is for the dead old geezer’s blondie daughter to come out there seeking revenge with her Deputy Dawg boyfriend, and before you know it–wham!–they’ve got the little porkchop stripped down to her bra, tied to some railroad ties, and forced to listen to REAL LOUD MUSIC while everybody else gets to dance. Unfortunately, not all the gals from Canoga Park who came along on the punk vacation are having a good time. “Maybe we should have gone to stewardess school,” one of em says.

The rednecks are coming! The rednecks are coming! Fishin hats, deer rifles, beer guts and all. We’re talking “Shaka Zulu in the Mojave.” Excellent movie.

No breasts. (WHITE bras! Can you believe it?) Seven dead bodies. Vicious windshield bashing. Exploding rat. Surgical scissor attack. Pet rats. Punk funeral, with fire. Hand rolls. Gratuitous songs from “Evita.” Gratuitous exploding Pepsi cans. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Roxanne Rogers, as the head punker, for saying “You’re kinda cute for a parasite of humanity–maybe we’ll rape you before we cut your throat”; Raymond Fusci, the shotgun-wielding geezer, for saying “That girl hasn’t been the same ever since she joined that Chamber of Commerce”; Sandra Bogan, as Lisa the revenge-minded pistol-packing redneck daughter, for looking GREAT when she’s tied to a tree in her underwear; Louis Waldon, as Sheriff Virgil, for saying “Did Patton call in the state troopers when he took Iwo Jima?”; Patrick Reynolds, as Deputy Duane, for saying “No, that was McArthur”; Billy Palmieri, as the sensitive punk, for saying “Didn’t we learn anything from the sixties?”; Don Martin, as the black deputy, for saying, at the most dangerous moment in the film, “I’ve seen a million movies, and when the white guy makes the plan, the black dude always does the dirty work”; Stephen Falchi, for answering “Don, I don’t think this is the time to discuss racial stereotypes in the media”; and Lance Smith and Harvey Richelson, the screenwriters, for the following exchange:

First deputy: “Sometimes I don’t think you’re really cut out for this work, Carl.”

Second deputy: “Well, I failed motel management.”

First deputy: “You should try horticulture.”

Three and a half stars.

Joe Bob says check it out.


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Pulp Fiction (1994)

The reason Quentin Tarantino is a true genius is that he knows how to explode a human head

without actually SHOWING the exploding head proper. It’s kind of a Hitchcock thing. You know how Hitch used to say that what you DON’T see is scarier than what you do see?

Well, Quentin just carries this idea to its logical conclusion, and all he ever shows is little pieces of bloody human skull and brain splatterin all over a windshield and the back seat of a car after John “Mumbledy Lips” Travolta accidentally hits the trigger while he’s turned around in the front seat talkin to a scared black guy in the back seat. Pretty soon the guy he was talkin to looks like a ravioli dinner somebody dropped on the pavement.

Anyhow, you know what I’m talkin about by now. I’m talkin about “Pulp Fiction,” the latest Tarantino “paint the walls red” comedy.

They are NOT gonna like this one in Sweden.

The reason I mention the explodin-head deal is that a few years back, when “Frankenhooker” first came out, they tried to get it banned from theaters because the MP Double-A Censorship Board said you couldn’t show actual exploding heads to minors. You had to be at least 18 years old to view an exploding head, even if it was a David Cronenberg artsy-fartsy CANADIAN exploding head.

And then Tarantino came along and solved the problem for everbody. You show the exploding head AFTER it explodes. You show exploding-head REMAINS. And that way you get an “R” rating and they show the movie in art houses in Greenwich Village and it becomes a cultural experience for all of us.

“Pulp Fiction” is a buddy movie, the old familiar story of a heroin-junkie hitman (Travolta) and his scripture-quoting sidekick (Samuel L. Jackson) running around El Lay wasting small-time hoods that get in the way of bad-guy fat-man prize-fight-fixing scuzzball gangster Ving Rhames. Rhames is bribin boxer Bruce Willis to go down in the fifth round, but Brucie plans to run off with his French girlfriend (Maria de Medeiros), except he escapes without packin the gold watch that his dying daddy gave him after concealing it in his hiney for five years in Vietnam, and when he goes back home to get it, he has to start slingin some automatic weapons around and runnin from Rhames, who chases him into a hillbilly pawn shop where two guys named Maynard and Zed keep a geek chained up in their basement and spend their spare time dreaming about Ned Beatty nekkid, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Meanwhile, John Travolta is assigned to take care of Ving Rhames’ wife–played by Uma Thurman, wearin this Queen of Sheba haircut–and he starts to get horny after doing the twist with her in a theme-park pop-culture restaurant called Jack Rabbit Slims, but the day is saved when she finds a baggie of heroin and overdoses by sucking it up her nose and they rush her over to drug dealer Eric Stoltz’s house so he can instruct Travolta in how to plunge an adrenalin needle into her heart and save her life and his life, only later on he ends up in a restaurant with Samuel L. Jackson where two natural born killers try to . . . actually, I kinda forgot what this movie is about.

Way too much plot gettin in the way of the story.

Full of gratuitous violence.

I loved it.

Eight dead bodies. No nekkid breasts. (What’s wrong with you, Quentin?) Eighteen piercing holes in Rosanna Arquette’s face. Closeup horse injection. One motor vehicle crash. Needle through the heart. Gratuitous Christopher Walken. Gratuitous Harvey Keitel. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Eric Stoltz, as the slimy drug dealer, for saying “Heroin is coming back”; Ving Rhames, as the mob boss, for saying “I’m gonna get medieval on your ass”; Samuel L. Jackson, as the religious-minded hitman; and John Travolta, for looking like he’s on heroin even when he’s not.

Four stars.

Joe Bob says check it out.


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Psycho Scarecrow (2000)

Sometimes you’re just in the mood for an ax-wielding mutated nerd

in a scarecrow outfit with a giant glowing pumpking on his head–you know the feeling, right?–and so I couldn’t resist the Canadian import PSYCHO SCARECROW.

This is the old story of five dope-smoking screwups in a convertible who go into the woods to party and become squirrel meat.

First the car breaks down. (Shades of “Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”) Then they decide to walk across the spooky cornfield. (Shades of “Children of the Corn.”) Then they’re startled by a larger-than-life scarecrow. (Shades of “Pumpkinhead.”) Then they decide to roast weenies and listen to excruciatingly off-key love songs composed by the hunky Eric. (Shades of every slasher flick made in the eighties.) And finally Eric gets in a fight with the nerdy Floyd, Floyd slinks off into the cornfield and dies, and when they find his body, there’s only one thing to do:

Stuff it inside the scarecrow so nobody will know.

And, oh yeah, one more thing: hollow out a giant pumpkin and put it over his head. The cops will never expect that one.

Pretty soon we’ve got fairly predictable Spam-in-a-cabin, with the ax-wielding Floyd picking them off one by one with some kind of goofy European disco music welded onto the soundtrack like an annoying appendage.

Writer/director Steve Galler got a good-looking cast together, but the acting is so ragged you don’t always know what’s going on. He spent about 200 bucks on the actual scarecrow monster. Then he framed the whole thing with a couple of cops back in the city trying to piece together what happened from a tape that the girl who organized the outing left behind. Mostly the cops argue with each other about the “manpower shortage” that prevents them from doing their jobs.

It does, however, satisfy the first rule of drive-in moviemaking: Anyone can die at any moment.

Good enough for a third feature on a Tuesday night.

Five dead bodies. One high-rise death plunge. One whupass fight. Scarecrow electrocution, with exploding head. Guitar- chopping. Ingenue-chopping. Multiple ax to the stomach. Pickup- stealing. Ax through the cab of a pickup. Exploding house, with fireball. Flaming scarecrow. Gratuitous weenie-roasting, with a love song that would make any demonic cornfield seek revenge. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Tracey Rankin, as the lead porkchop who says “The cornfield protects those who protect it”; Michael Upmalis, as the orphan misfit who tells the creepy stories about the dead farmer; Doug Miller, as the whiny bully Eric, for screaming “It wasn’t my fault!” and destroying the car battery; Lee Ann Simms, as the supporting porkchop, who screams “We forgot the guitar!” in the middle of the escape; Tim Vince, as the jaded cop who says “Save the speeches for the cadets at the academy, Jones!”; and Joe Parro, as the sensitive detective in a nifty suit who says “Stuff it, Hammond, or else!”

One and a half stars.

Joe Bob says check it out.


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Provoked (1989)

For the last three years I’ve been followed around by the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. I can’t get rid of them. I don’t know how it happened.

I mean, I sort of know how it happened. I was at a TV convention in Houston, the kind of place where Mr. T signs autographs in one booth and Connie Stevens parades around in a flowery blouse in another one and Roger Ebert munches popcorn and breathes on Mickey Mouse, and I was talking to someone, and this friend of mine said, “Matt Cimber says you MUST come by the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling booth.”

And I said somethin like “Whah?” Because Matt Cimber is a drive-in legend. He not only directed the classic “Hundra,” the story of an Amazon goddess who, in order to preserve her race, must journey to the Land of the Bull. But he’s also the finest director who was ever married to Jayne Mansfield. So my friend says, “Matt Cimber is doing this AWFUL thing. It’s so SLEAZY. It’s just HORRIBLE. It’s called Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. He’s selling it to TV, and he wants you to see it.”

And so for the rest of the day I tried to get over there to see Matt, but all I saw instead were a bunch of girls in Spandex leotards and high heels prancin around in rabbit-fur shawls and leopard-print hammock brassieres. They never did wrestle or anything, they just yelled at each other. It wasn’t even really good yelling. They’d just say “You slut,” and then the other one would say, “You call me a slut, you slut?” And they’d go on like that for a while until the crowd wandered over to see what new Ruth Westheimer mini-series was on the market this year.

“Never get it on the air,” my friend said.

And so then a few months passed, and I was flipping around the channels one day, and here it comes on the air–“Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.” The wrestling ring is in a Vegas hotel, and there’s about ten people in the audience. And now they’ve got even better material. They’re screaming “I’m gonna claw your eyes out,” and “Eat this, old lady,” but they’re still not WRESTLING. They’re slapping a little bit, they’re pulling a little hair. And, come to think of it, they’re not that “gorgeous,” either. And so I watch for about ten minutes, and there’s never any wrestling, so I go on over to ESPN and check out the Ethiopian Sandal-Toss Tournament.

More months pass. Now I’m starting to see “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” everywhere. It’s in TV Guide. It’s in the newspaper. It’s on the marquees in Vegas. Some nights, you can’t AVOID it on the TV dial. And so I end up watchin it again, and this time they’re doing old bits from “Hee Haw.” And they have six girls in the ring all at one time, grabbing one another around the waist and flinging one another against the ropes, but they’re STILL NOT WRESTLING. And I’m thinking, “What is this?” One girl gets her slinky mini-dress ripped off her by a big fat gal, and then the fat gal gets her face clawed by a girl dressed up like Daisy Mae, and I’m wondering what the deal is, and then it hits me. This isn’t wrestling. This isn’t Hulk Hogan bullstuff. This is based on REAL LIFE. Haven’t you ever seen your girlfriend or wife scissor-claw your best friend with her thighs? They’re just takin real life and putting it on TV. And ever since then I’ve been a big fan of the TV show.

But then I thought that was it. Good job, Matt. Another classic contribution to western civilization. And then I get a call from these guys in California that are gonna put out a whole new line of video movies that are the greatest movies in the history of the world and blah blah blah and I get about three calls a week like this and America is ready for a new kind of action film blah blah blah and this film has a lot of explosions and automatic weapons fire blah and the main thing this film has going for it is, the star is Cindy Maranne.

“Cindy Maranne?”

“You know, Americana on Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.”

“Americana! Send me that sucker right NOW.”

Because, as you know, there’s something about a woman in tight shorts with a machine gun strapped across her chest that says, “Hey, women are people, too!”

The movie is “Provoked,” and Cindy does a decent job as a newlywed who gets a little ticked off because her husband gets taken hostage by some deranged bozos with guns right before Cindy is ready to leave on the honeymoon. Should she let the cops handle it, or should she go find 27 million rounds of automatic-weapons ammo and burst into the room where the hostages are being held with a burp-gun blasting? I think we all know what Cindy does. From the opening scene, which is an excellent ripoff from “48 HRS.,” to the closing scene, which is an excellent ripoff from “Don’t Go in the House,” this movie is so cheap that it’s MESMERIZING. Parts of it, like when a TV reporter is talking, or when Cindy is making a home video for her Mama, are actually shot on video, making it look and sound just like your grandpa’s Christmas movies. And as for the kung fu scenes–well, er, at least Cindy is starting to WRESTLE a little bit.

Four breasts, but not Cindy’s. (Shame on you, Americana.) Twenty-four dead bodies. (But I could swear some of these actors get killed twice.) Multiple body searches. One mob scene (eight people constitutes a mob in this movie). One fried terrorist. Kung Fu. Video Fu. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Daniel Kwong, as Slick the oriental goonie who guns down a pathetic old lady running down the stairs and then says “Next time, take the elevator”; Ona Simms, as the conniving TV reporter who does a live interview with the wife of a hostage and asks the question “When do you think they’ll kill your husband?”; Sharon Blair, as the blonde bimbo secretary who turns Patty Hearst on her friends; Tara Untiedt, as the secretary who gets tied up, beaten, raped, screamed at, abused, and finally turns into a raging maniac killing machine; Joe Sprosty, as Machine Gun Joe, for saying, “They don’t call me Machine Gun Joe for nothing”; McKeiver Jones III, as the cop; Joe Diamond, as an expert on terrorists, for saying “I’m afraid we Americans don’t know how to be good hostages”; and Cindy Maranne, for trying to get the hostages away from their vicious captors by posing as a pizza delivery girl, and then, when that doesn’t work, by telling the police guards that there are “fresh donuts out front,” so she can sneak inside and start firing. And a special commendation to director Rick Pamplin, who couldn’t afford to end the movie with an airplane flying off into the sky, and so he shot a car driving through the airport instead.

My kind of movie.

Three stars.

Joe Bob says check it out.


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Project A-Ko (1986)

I’m not sure what’s going on here, but have you watched any of these Japaheeno guns-and-hooters cartoon movies?

“Annie Maes,” they call em, and they used to be in the children’s section of all the video stores, until CHILDREN started taking em home and Mom would come into the room and see nekkid women flying through space with rockets strapped to their back, lasering enemy aliens so they can travel through time to save their lesbo lovers, and she goes “WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU WATCHING! TURN THAT THING OFF!”

And the kids would whine, “Oh, Mom, it’s JUST cartoons from Japan.”

And pretty soon after that all the Annie Maes got taken off the children’s shelves, and now they have big ole stickers that say “CONTAINS NUDITY” and “ADULT SUBJECT MATTER.”

But I just finished watching about eight hours of these babies, and I have to say, I can understand WHY every 15-year-old boy has bought 30 of these in the last year and piled em up in his closet. All of these flicks–not just MOST of em, but every single one of em–are about beautiful teenage girls who wear a lot of French-cut bikinis and leather while they’re blowing stuff up to save the world.

In fact, there’s basically one plot for every Annie Mae flick:

The story takes place in the future, where some new city has been built on the ASHES of a city that was blown to smithereens by evil men.

Two girls with superhuman powers like to giggle a lot, go to school, and soak in the hot tub together.

A third girl, who wears too much leather, is jealous of their love and tries to steal one of them away.

The Earth is about to be blown up by aliens with enormous robot machines.

The only people who can defeat the robot machines are our two superhuman young girls, helped by the third girl, who decides it’s more important to save the world than to get revenge on her rival.

So they all travel into space, or they travel through time, or they do some other “Star Trek”-type deal, or they get inside a giant robot–this part has a lot of variations–and they kill all the evil men that want to destroy the world.

Oh yeah, in the middle of the last crisis one of them decides to die for the other one, because they can’t stand to be apart.

So basically the story here is that the world is destroyed by greed, and then it’s saved by love.

It’s a nineties thing. It’s a Japaheeno thing. Mostly, though, it’s a whole lot of women with poofy blonde hair flexing their thighs a lot. Sure, it’s cartoons, but male hormones will respond to ANYTHING, right?

The latest hooters-and-twisted-metal cartoon from Yokohama is “Project A-ko,” the story of a bubblehead 17-year-old at an all-girl high school who is so cute and giggly that two girls start fighting over her. One girl’s name is A-ko, another B-ko, and another C-ko. A-ko is friends with C-ko. B-ko is jealous and wants C-ko for herself. So B-ko does what any red-blooded Japanese high school girl would do. She builds giant robots with heat-seeking missiles in their arms to DESTROY A-ko.

Meanwhile, an alien space ship is on its way to earth to kidnap C-ko and take her back to her proper place as princess of another planet. I think you can see what’s developing here. Anybody could figure out the rest:

Giant mechanical spiders invade earth so that C-ko can be tied up and taken to a distant space station, bawling all the way. But A-ko sneaks into the space station through a stinky laundry room, fights a she-male samurai, and makes her way to the bridge where an alcoholic enemy commander is screaming “Booze! I need booze!”

Nine thousand explosions later, the girls go giggling down the street again, hand in hand, on their way to high school English class.

And we wonder why the Japanese are winning the economic battle.

Besides this one, I recommend a series called “Dominion: Tank Police” (violent cat sisters in bikinis, who escape from the cops by doing a strip-tease and attempt to infect the whole world with AIDS), “The Humanoid” (a buxom android named Antoinette falls in love and saves the world from the madman who unlocks the secrets of the ancient Mayan pyramids), and “GunBuster” (two Okinawa schoolgirls join the Imperial Earth Space Force, sail into space, activate something called a “black hole bomb” that destroys billions of enemy ships, and return to Earth 12,000 years after they left, having missed all their high school reunions). They kinda grow on you.

For “Project A-ko,” those drive-in totals are:

Twenty-one dead bodies. Two breasts. Space explosion. Giant robots turned into scrap metal with a pubescent girl’s bare hands. Giant robot dragster driven by a fat girl. Five monsters the size of office buildings turned into fireballs. Leather bikini martial arts. Wrist missiles. Sky spiders. Kung Fu. Robot Fu. Dirty laundry Fu. She-male samurai Fu. Drive-In Academy Award nomination for Katuhiko Nishijima, the director, for making absolutely no sense.

My kind of cartoon.

Four stars.

Joe Bob says check it out.


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Private Obsession (1995)

For some reason I wasn’t getting any action on my new improved Personal Ad for the Nineties.

Tell me what you think:

“Chain-Smoking Couch Potato, 35 (but looks 55), card-carrying NRA member, shoots roller bladers on sight.

Hates to laugh, but loves watching you scuba dive while I drink Pina Coladas on a bass boat. Seeking morose, big-breasted bisexual lesbian with independent income and thong bikini. You must own a techno-rock dance-mix CD collection that I can borrow when I deejay at Herpes Singles Night. Will take you out even during Monday Night Football, but only to topless bars that have big-screen TVs. Nude photo gets mine.”

It just wasn’t pulling as many responses as I thought it should, so I switched over to the “Voice Personals.” This is those dealies where you basically troll for a mate while making a breather call.

Remember when 900-number personals first came out, and everybody tried to be real “upbeat” and friendly and sound like an all-around nice-guy weekend sportscaster type in a button-up cardigan?

Not anymore. These days, if you wanna score in the Personals, you need to lay some whiskey-voice downtown Attitude down on the tape. You need to talk like either Barry White or Sharon Stone. (Since I go for the kinky types, my message sounds a little like Peter Lorre after a three-day drunk.) You say something like this:

“Hi, baby. I know you’re out there. Let’s do a little cappuccino and then head over to the Michael Bolton concert. Then I know a little bistro where we can dance till dawn and then have French toast out by the harbor. If you still like me, we can go listen to my New Age tree-frog tapes and talk about Matisse while the sun comes up over the Ukrainian cathedral.”

You get the idea? You get on there, and you make up this fantasy that includes EVERY SINGLE THING YOU HATE IN LIFE. And the girls listen to it, and they go, “Wow! That voice and that attitude. He sounds so FASCINATING.”

One more thing, guys. Important tip for the nineties.

Act like you’re absolutely NOT INTERESTED in what the girl looks like.

The great-looking ones will never tell you what they look like until you hook em in with the whole Peter Lorre/Michael Bolton thing. You know what I’m saying here? They think you like em because of their VOICE ON THE PHONE, and all the fascinating things they say about their astrologer. NEVER, EVER mention anything about beauty, and EVENTUALLY the foxes will say, “Well, no one has ever complained about my figure,” or “Men have told me that I’m easy on the eyes.”

When you hear those magic words, then BINGO! Set the date. Do the whole Ukrainian cathedral thing. You’re in.

Isn’t modern techology great?

Speaking of interesting ways to meet women in the nineties, our flick this week is “Private Obsession,” which is the best evidence yet that the erotic thriller has just plumb petered out. This time they don’t even bother with a third character–an abusive husband, a bitchy wife, a long-suffering girlfriend. None of that stuff. Michael Christian is a geekazoid with a special homemade dungeon in his El Lay apartment, and one day he poses as a limo driver and kidnaps supermodel Shannon Whirry and puts her in a room where he can watch her get nekkid on a monitor, mess with her head, and try to talk her into making the sign of the twin-humped couch weasel with him.

Shannon Whirry is the “other” Shannon. Shannon Tweed is the undisputed box-office queen of the erotic thriller. But Shannon Whirry is the up-and-coming gal that all the guys want to see more of. Unfortunately, she’s really scraping the bottom of the icing bowl on this one, spending most of her time sitting on a bed in her underwear, screaming stuff like “Let me out of here!” and “I’d like something to eat!” and “This is weird! I need some space!”

Meanwhile, creepy Michael cackles at his video-monitor control board, telling her exactly how she has to be trained so that they can be married and live happily ever after with her as his love slave.

While this is going on, several lame character actors are meeting in cheap offices, discussing which limo company they should call next, and finally they waste so much screen time that Shannon goes, “Oh, what the heck, I’ll get in the sack with the guy.”

And here’s what’s creepy about it. She seems to kinda . . . like it.

Twenty-six breasts. Multiple aardvarking. The old ether-in-the-limo trick. Creepy lingerie-shopping montage, to the tune of a lounge-lizard song called “How Many Ways Do I Love You?” Toilet-tank drinking. Excellent vampy, pouty, grinding striptease routine. One chase through the woods. One gratuitous shower. Gratuitous Rip Taylor. Oleo Fu. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Shannon Whirry, her metallic-gold cocktail dress, and her two enormous talents, for saying “Men will tell you anything they want you to hear,” and for getting stuck in a pet door in the nude; Michael Christian, as the creep with the key, for saying “I’m the guy with the key to your mind!” and “When you deal with Richard, you’re dealing with style, class and elegance!”; and Bo Svenson, as the private eye who has absolutely nothing to do in the movie, but keeps a straight face as he does it.

Two stars.

Joe Bob says check it out.


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Private Lessons (1994)

Women are Now.

Men are Later.

Women wanna talk it about it NOW.

Men wanna talk about it LATER.

Women wanna go out to eat Tonight.

Men wanna go out to eat Tomorrow.

Women wanna go to the beach when they Feel Like It.

Men wanna go to the beach when they Plan A Trip.

Women say, “Let’s just jump in the car.”

Men say, “Let’s call triple-A and get a set of maps.”

Women say, “We never spend any money.”

Men say, “We never save any money.”

Women say, “I decided to quit my job today.”

Men say, “I decided I’ll quit my job whenever I get a new job.”

Women buy stuff they need when they need it.

Men buy stuff they need when they’re convinced they can’t wait any longer.

Women buy stuff they DON’T need at the same time they buy stuff they need.

Men get credit card loans to buy stuff they don’t need, so the sensation of not needing it but having it will last at least three years.

Women talk about how they feel.

Men talk about what they can do in the future to feel good.

Women cry immediately.

Men put off crying until it’s the only available alternative.

Women go to the doctor when they feel like there might be something wrong.

Men go to the doctor when there’s been something wrong for five years.

Women throw out clothes that are out of date.

Men save clothes they haven’t worn since 1943 because they think that might wear them again “someday.”

Women talk about their day.

Men talk about their future.

Women ask their men to tell them what already happened at the office.

Men ask their women to tell them what’s coming up for dinner.

Women know exactly what they’re feeling.

Men know exactly what they’re thinking.

In other words:

Women are Now.

Men are Later.

Thanks for letting me explain this.

Speaking of things men will never understand about women, “Private Lessons: Another Story” is this week’s flick, thanks to producer Ben Efraim, who decided to make a sequel–FOURTEEN YEARS LATER. This is happening all the time now. How long did they wait on “The Beastmaster”? Ten years? It took TWENTY years to bring out the sequel to “Caged Heat,” and I think the reason is that all these movies that were TRASHED by the indoor bullstuff critics back when they first came out, end up playing 17,000 times a day on cable, and people go, “Hey, that’s a dang good movie,” and then the ratings for the things are so high somebody decides to make a sequel.

Anyhow, Ben has followed the great tradition of exploitation producers everywhere, and made a sequel that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE OTHER MOVIE. Which is good for us, because the first movie was Sylvia Kristel teaching a teenaged boy how to do make the sign of the Twin-Flanked Tilting Hematoma, and Sylvia was no spring chicken in THAT movie. If they brought her back today, they’d have to find a 40-year-old virgin to co-star with her.

So Ben went with an unknown–a frizzy blonde named Mariana Morgan–and the idea here is that she’s a professional photographer who flies down to Miami to do a bikini photo shoot and escape her weaselly husband, who’s been slipping around with the old Extracurriculus Aardvarkus, if you know what I mean and I think you do. And when she gets there she gets the hots for her macho Cuban limo driver, but then her husband comes to visit, but then she finds out that the husband has also been visiting the pretty brunette ad agency big shot Mariana works for. And meanwhile she’s searching for the sexiest woman in Miami, and she finds her at one of those ultra-trendy South Beach discos with the video walls, this hot little number named Theresa Morris who just keeps dancing out onto the roof of the building and then strips and does the Horizontal Hustle in front of a neon sign while Mariana is snappin pitchers.

It all sounds like pretty standard stuff, but this is actually one of the best-written, best-photographed, best-directed sexploitationers I’ve seen in years. The acting ain’t shabby neither. And I’m a HARD man to impress, cause the most boring type of flick in the WORLD is the SOFT-core sex flick.

I’m impressed, Ben. I didn’t expect much, but you gave it to me anyway.

Twenty-one breasts. Beard-licking. Multiple bikini dancing. Rooftop topless dancing. Shirt-ripping. Gratuitous shower. Lingerie modeling. Aardvarking on the beach. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Mariana Morgan, as the hot-to-trot photographer, for saying “I want something real, provocative–not glossy, but RAW” and “You taught me how to just let myself be”; Ray Garaza, as the studly limo driver who tells the sensitive story of the Silverfish Lovers statue, and, in his big emotional moment, screams “You had an itch, you scratched it, and now it’s over!”; Graham Gathright, as the whiny two-timing husband who says “I did what I did because of my own insecurities”; Nancy Strandberg, as a nude model who likes to dance in the surf with a blue chiffon gown on; Theresa Morris, as the wild Cuban party girl who says “Whatever I want, my heart needs, that’s what I go for”; Deirdre Imershein, as the nasty agency woman who says “That may be the kind of line you use on your WIFE!”; and Dominique Othenin-Girard, the director, for doing it the drive-in way.

Four stars.

Joe Bob says check it out.


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Prison Stories (1991)

Several of my cousins are movie stars now.

They got parts in the new Oliver Stone movie they’re making in Dallas called “JFK.” Oliver refuses to reveal what the letters “JFK” stand for, and if you ask him for a copy of the script, he sends six security guards to your house with “Riders on the Storm” blaring out of their ghetto blasters, and they won’t leave until you sign a statement that says, “I will never reveal what is in Oliver Stone’s movie, even after the movie comes out.”

In other words, “JFK” don’t stand for “Just For Kicks.” There’s some heavy security surrounding this project, and Oliver’s just a little touchy on the subject.

First he told the press, “I’m not saying it IS a conspiracy-theory movie, and I’m not saying it’s NOT a conspiracy-theory movie. Is this room bugged? I don’t think the whole story has been told, but, after all, we’re just making movies here. Are you CIA? I don’t think this is a valid issue to be discussed in the press. Marina Oswald’s KGB contact has, however, been following me for 12 years.”

I happen to have some opinions on this subject, mostly because my cousin Wilbur was hired as an extra to stand in Dealey Plaza carrying an umbrella that fired poison darts. Then there was my cousin Horace, who was part of the thirteen-man submachine-gun squad concealed behind the Grassy Knoll during the filming of the assassination scene. But most of my information comes from Blanche Verona, my sister-in-law, who was hired on the special effects crew. It was her job to wire Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hat with a miniature spy camera.

I don’t mean to say this guy is paranoid, but, out of the 27,000 people who have come to Dallas over the last 30 years trying to prove conspiracy theories, Oliver Stone may be the number one loony in the bin. Remember the British guy who spent two years getting permission to dig up Lee Harvey Oswald’s body so he could check his teeth? Well, this movie is evidently WEIRDER than THAT.

First, it’s based on a book by Jim Garrison, the former New Orleans district attorney who’s done nothing for the last 25 years but invent NEW conspiracy theories, including one where Kennedy was killed by elephant handlers in the Barnum and Bailey Circus because he wasn’t doing enough to protect the endangered gorillas of Borneo.

Next, he hires Kevin Costner to BE JIM GARRISON IN THE MOVIE!

Let me repeat that.

The main role in the movie “JFK” is not JFK. It’s not LBJ. It’s not Governor Connally or Jackie or Chief Justice Warren or Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby. The main role in the movie is this FLAKE from Nawluns.

Of course, if you asked Oliver, the only reason we think Jimbo Garrison is a flake is that he’s been persecuted by the media conspiracy, the Cuban conspiracy, the FBI conspiracy, the CIA conspiracy, the conspiracy of the doctors at Parkland Hospital, the conspiracy of all the employees at the Texas School Book Depository, and now the conspiracy of all guilty Texans to whitewash what their state did to the president.

We have a few theories about “JFK” ourselves.

It stands for Just Full of Krap.

And speaking of American history scholarship, “Prison Stories: Women on the Inside” just came out on video, and I know what you’re thinking. Here goes Joe Bob, reviewing some kind of indoor bullstuff socially responsible Home B.O. cable mind-junk. But I’ve got an excuse–namely, that I am the only person in recorded history who has seen every single women-behind-bars movie ever made, and therefore it’s my duty to humanity to record this one in the books. It’s the first women-in-prison flick ever made completely by women (all the male characters are responsible for is getting the women into prison in the first place), and it’s also the first women-in-prison picture where all the prisoners keep their blouses on at all times throughout the picture.

Hated it.

It’s one of those anthology deals, with three stories in one movie. In the first one, Rae Dawn Chong gets pregnant while she’s in jail and starts selling drugs for a fat black mama so she can get proper day care for the fetus. Talk about your feminist plot run amuck! She got thrown in jail because of a man, then a man got her pregnant, then the corrupt MALE guards make it impossible to get into the prison day-care program–and so this lady, the daughter of Mr. Drughead Chong, of drive-in legends Cheech and Chong fame, starts dealing coke. Sorry.

The next one is better. Rachel Ticotin, of “Total Recall” fame, is doing some fairly hard time on a drug rap, and she has to leave her son in the care of her sister, Talisa Soto, of “License to Kill” fame, and before you know it the little yard monster is running down to the corner and doing drug deals for a guy named Montoya because he doesn’t think Mama loves him. You starting to see a theme here?

Finally, we got Lolita Davidovich as a battered wife who blew her husband away when he beat her up one time too many and then went after her helpless daughter. She’s coming up for a parole hearing, but she decides she might be better off in jail–“safe in the cage,” she calls it.

At least in the men’s prison movies, like Leon Isaac Kennedy in “Penitentiary,” the guy has to DO SOMETHING CRIMINAL to end up in prison. I think the point of this deal is that women would never be in prison if it weren’t for men screwing up their heads.

In other words, Politically Correct Fu.

Save it.

No breasts. No dead bodies. (See what happens when you let women direct.) Strip-search. One catfight. Cell-wrecking. Wife abuse. Gratuitous inmate rapping. Crack Fu. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for the three directors, Penelope Spheeris, Donna Deitch, and Joan Micklin Silver, for actually getting Home B.O. to put up the money for this.

One-half star.

Joe Bob says . . . well, you know.


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Pray for Death (1985)

Sho Kosugi is the best kung fu man since Bruce Lee.

Forget Jackie Chan. Forget Jet Lee. Forget Bruce Lei, Bruce Li, Bruce Lea and Bruce Leigh.

It’s no wonder that they’re giving Hong Kong back to the Commies. They haven’t turned out a world-class thwacker since 1974, when Bruce’s head blew up.

“Pray for Death,” which I discovered in France in the 1980s, is the first movie ever made about a Japaheeno ninja who joins a neighborhood improvement group.

All Sho wants to do is take his little Japaheeno wife to Houston, buy an old house, lay a little bathroom tile, replace some wood shingles and play some Frisbee with his Yokohama younguns.

Unfortunately, there’s this mush-mouth mobster named Limehouse that gets his jollies out of pouring gasoline on people and saying, “Hey, how about a Viking funeral?” And he decides a Japaheeno family would be just the right people to take the blame for some missing California nose candy.

So first he kidnaps Sho’s little kid, then he gets two Cro-Magnon men in a pickup to run over the other kid and Sho’s wife, and then he sneaks into Sho’s wife’s hospital room, fiddles around with her life support equipment, and goes, “Whoops!”

Pretty soon we got one p.o.ed ninja in a business suit. Unfortunately, we also got some Communist censorship going on here. The version I saw over in France is not the one that was released in the United States.

The guys on the national censor board decided “Pray for Death” needed an X rating for violence, and so that meant they couldn’t advertise in the newspaper, and so that meant they had to go back and take out some of the scene where Limehouse burns up an old man and the scene where Sho’s wife gets her plug pulled.

They’ve been doing stuff like this ever since some mommies com- plained about “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Scum” a few years back. Good thing we got Sho in charge, though, cause he rises above the scissors and turns this into “Enter the Dragon,” “Death Wish” and “Halloween” all rolled into one flick.

Back when I first had the pleasure, “Pray for Death” went immediately to Numero Uno on the JBB Best of ’86 list, surpassing the previous best horror flick – “A Chorus Line.”

Forty-eight dead bodies (17 before the opening credits). Two breasts. Nine gallons blood. Ninety-eight on the Vomit Meter (84 in the censored version). Chest-carving. Wrist-slashing. Six kung fu brawls. Motor vehicle chase. – Kung fu. Ninjitsu fu. Kid fu. Hypodermic fu. – Ax fu. Chainsaw fu. Lumber mill fu. Crowbar fu. – Big Wheel fu. Gasoline-and-a-Bic-lighter fu. – Shinto Temple rigamarole about fire and sword and death and prophets. Gratuitous mall shopping. Gratuitous Batman. – Two exploding cars.

Drive-in Academy Award nominations went to…

* James Booth, who wrote this sucker and also played Limehouse, a guy so mean he says, “I’m gonna burn you, kid, like a roman candle.”
* Sho, the master, who keeps saying, “I’m sorry – my fault – so sorry.”
* Kane Kosugi and Shane Kosugi, Sho’s kids, for excellent midget fu.
* And Gordon Hessler, the director, for his best flick since “Scream and Scream Again.”

Four stars.

Joe Bob says check it out again.


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