Vicious Lips (1986)

It’s really hard to find anyone who does eighties neon pop surrealism like Empire Pictures. If you want to soak in everything about the decade from the bright colors, weird synth music and massive hair, look no further than films like “Terrorvision,” “Bad Channels” and or “Vicious Lips.” Your experience with Albert Pyun’s rare cult film may vary depending on your love for the decade, but sans the nostalgia goggles, it’s only a moderately entertaining experience that it limitless in its oddities. Something of a mixture of “Rock and Rule,” “Jem and the Holograms,” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Albert Pyun throws so much imagery at the audience and there’s never any kind of substance soaked up.

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The Bootleg Files: The Juggler of Our Lady

BOOTLEG FILES 594: “The Juggler of Our Lady” (1957 Terrytoons animated short).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.


REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It’s just one of those things that slipped through the proverbial cracks.


Among the major animators of the post-World War II period, Gene Deitch had one of the most erratic careers, with output that ranged from memorable (the Oscar-winning “Munro”) to excruciating (the near-unwatchable feature “Alice of Wonderland in Paris”) to mind-boggling (those disturbing Tom and Jerry cartoons from the early 1960s). Deitch first gained prominence in the early 1950s at the United Productions of America (UPA) studio before moving to Terrytoons, where he became creative director. At the time, Terrytoons turned out a series of noisy and frenetic works that lacked the artistic polish of Disney or the subversive wit of the Warner Bros. output. Indeed, even Deitch would ruefully admit that his studio “made the most gross and grotesque cartoons in the galaxy.”

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Beatriz at Dinner (2017)

Beatriz is a healer, a holistic health practitioner, whose car breaks down at a wealthy client’s house after she gave her a massage.  The client invites her to stay for a celebratory dinner party her husband and herself are hosting that night.  Like a fish out of water, Beatriz has dinner with three extremely wealthy couples with whom she has little to nothing in common.

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The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All (1999)

Karl Thomasson is back and is still tortured by his days serving in the military. After flashing back to his old days with a military buddy named Macy who made him swear an oath before he died while imprisoned, he visits his Macy’s daughter. She so happens to be a teacher at a fictitious college where the dominant force is the school football team, all of whom are juicing up on some kind of experimental steroids. After she’s attacked by local drug dealers, Thomasson takes it upon himself to go undercover as a professor and begin investigating who attacked her. While trying to figure out the identity of her attackers, he uncovers a drug ring and begins learning about the dangers of steroids as players slowly either turn up dead or become increasingly violent.

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The Substitute 2: School’s Out (1998)

I was surprised there was even such a thing as a “The Substitute 2” since the first film barely warranted a sequel if at all. Tom Berenger is a fine character actor, but the original film only grants a viewing thanks to some okay action moments. I initially thought the sequel series featured Berenger’s character on various adventures as an undercover mercenary playing a substitute, but thankfully the writers dodge that trap. “The Substitute 2” is a sequel in that it is set in the same universe as Berenger’s character. New character Karl Thomasson, as played by Treat Williams, served in the military alongside Berenger’s character O’Shea, and is helped by the surviving mercenary from the first film. Hey, that’s about all you’re getting.

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Stray (2016)

In the tradition of films like “The Bad Seed” and “Devil in the Flesh,” Gabrielle Stone stars as Jennifer Stone, a young girl who happens upon a small town one fateful day. Alluring and often enigmatic, Jennifer manages to build the good will of a fellow traveler, and begins establishing herself in the small town of Chestnut Hill. Jennifer will do whatever it takes to build the life she wants, including lying, stealing, and murdering just about anyone. “Stray” is mostly a psychological thriller focusing on this truly complex but twisted antagonist who is oddly alluring but incredibly slimy from the first moment we meet her.

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Teletubbies: Bubbles (DVD)

Released to coincide with “International Bath Day,” the Teletubbies release yet another edition of their episodes on DVD. Comprised of six episodes total, this new volume features the alien—monster—children things dancing and singing once again with the help of their special Tubby Custard Machine. Said Machine concocts all kinds of scenarios and fun activities including allowing them to play with bubbles, and dance the new “Tubby Phone Dance.”

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Guerilla (2017)

Shane Ryan’s “Guerilla” watches more like a proof of concept film more than a short film, but for what it offers I think there’s a ton of potential for a great feature film down the road. With no dialogue and a sweet eighties synth score, “Guerilla” is a mix of “The Goonies” and “Night of the Comet” centering on the apocalypse and an airborne disease that transforms people in to blood soaked maniacs.

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