Every month we discuss some of the best and worst cult films ever made, from the hits, classics, underground, grind house, and utterly obscure, from Full Moon, and Empire, to Cannon and American International, it’s all here, minus the popcorn, and car fumes.
Aliases: Killbots Concorde Pictures
Directed by: Jim Wynorski Starring: Kelli Maroney, Barbara Crampton, Suzee Slater, Tony O’Dell, John Terlesky, Russell Todd
The Plot is Afoot! The Park Plaza Mall just signed on to install a high tech trio of robotic guards that patrol the grounds until dawn and disable any potential thieves until the police arrive. When lightning strikes the technology, the robots malfunction and begin hunting down eight employees that have decided to party in the mall overnight.
With the robots on the hunt, the eight employees do their best to outwit and outlast the murderous robots and perhaps survive until dawn when the sealed doors finally open. But with the robots capable of working together, while shooting deadly lasers and electric darts at the helpless friends, staying alive is going to be more difficult than either of them ever imagined.
It sure is a hard life or Larry Barnes. He’s had a rough time living with an insanely sexy wife Erica, who so happens to be a witch who practices black magic. After failing to curse one of Larry’s business rivals, Larry and Erica clash causing Erica to fall to her death. After casting out his other very sexy female lover and Erica’s sister Maria, she threatens to make his life miserable for causing the death of Erica. After moving on, Amelia, the wife of Larry’s rival is still very bitter and angry about her husband being confined to a wheelchair. Intent on causing hell for Larry, she gives Larry’s new very sexy girlfriend Carol a medallion that Amelia uses as a means of taking control of Carol.
The consistent utterance of Dominique Swain’s character to herself of “Crap on a Cracker,” just about sums up Jim Wynorski’s latest turkey that mixes “Con Air” and “Tremor.” No doubt tailor made for airing on late night cable television, “Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre” is a goofy PG-13 crime thriller with a bunch of land roving sharks that apparently make their victims explode upon contact. This is the kind of movie cable television dreams of. It stars a host of gorgeous women, many of who scamper around in conveniently handy bikinis, and whose prison garb are short shorts and clinging tank tops. They also never actually have sex or drop F bombs.
What Jim Wynorski’s “Hard to Die” has in common with “Die Hard” is that it features a high rise. And that’s about it. But I don’t blame it for being so shameless in exploiting the aforementioned action film, when “Hard to Die” is purposely exploitative and shameless to begin with. 1990’s “Hard to Die” also known as “Tower of Terror” and “Sorority House Massacre 3” is seventy minutes (Well if you cut out the montage from “Slumber Party Massacre,” the film is a cool hour) of goofy ridiculous fun intended to mock the horror genre at every turn. It’s a horror movie, a comedy, a slasher, a demon possession film, and a softcore porn romp all in one. And damn it, it’s still a lot of fun.
There’s really not much to say about “Hard to Die” except that its narrative is nothing but a hodge podge of plot elements mashed together for the sole purpose of featuring our buxom cast run around in lingerie. A group of gorgeous busty women working in a lingerie shop have to pull an all nighter sorting out stock for their sleazy boss. They’re also easily startled by the building janitor Orville, as played by Peter Spellos. He survived the previous confrontations from the past “Sorority House Massacre” movies and is still suspected of murdering the poor girls. Deciding to pass the time, they put on lingerie and scamper around, all the while taking showers together, bouncing and jiggling and making pretty funny jokes that reference previous scenes.
When a pizza delivery girl is called up to the building through the elevator, the mysterious killer of the movie sets her ablaze. Cut to one of the characters moaning “Where’s the girl with the food already? It’ll be char broiled when she gets here.” Yes, it’s that kind of movie. While “Hard to Die” is a loose sequel it’s also very much a horror comedy that spoofs all of the eighties film tropes, right down to the action flicks. Suffice it to say if that isn’t enough, the girls accidentally receive a package in the form of a locked box that unleashes a demonic spirit. When released, the murdering begins as someone is knocking off the buxom troop. Could it be Orville? Or could it be someone entirely unexpected?
For a movie that doesn’t require much in the way of acting ability, the cast of gorgeous women pull off their performances well, and Peter Spellos is very good as the enigmatic Orville. “Hard to Die” has a narrative that’s just absolute nonsense, but I enjoy how it seems aware of that, and uses it to deliver a hilarious and entertaining horror comedy. When the girls happen upon a gun store in their high rise, and one of the characters justifies being able to inexplicably handle a machine gun like a pro by declaring “My dad was a marine!” you just have to laugh and enjoy the ride.
It’s hard to believe almost twenty years ago, the height of superhero movies was “Batman & Robin” with studios not really clamoring to adapt any of the beloved superheroes. It took “Blade” to finally bring some tooth and maturity to the entire sub-genre. One of the more interesting precursors to “Blade” is the dreadfully boring vampire adaptation “Vampirella,” which is a tonally confused take on the pulpy pin up character mostly known for being beautiful and sexy, and not so much for her compelling story lines. “Vampirella” is never sure if it’s campy horror schlock, exploitative vampire softcore, or a stern horror epic. So director Jim Wynorski pretty much lunges for all three on the table, and comes out with this pretty gloomy and dull film.
Director Jim Wynorski offers up a sometimes clever, but inferior follow up to the original Robert Englund film, that doesn’t really advance the narrative so much as it treads water. Rather than explore the themes of the apocalypse, and the eventual war of good and evil dictated by the hotline, we’re once again subjected to a tale about the hotline wreaking havoc.
To be honest, I’m not even sure how to approach this film in any critical sense. The movie opens with character Angie emerging from a pool and narrating the movie. But–is she a narrator? Or a host? Is this supposed to spoof reality show, or is this an actual story? Director Jim Wynorski (as Sam Pepperman) can never really seem to care at all, so he basically just throws whatever sticks to the wall, and distracts us for seventy five minutes with soft core scenes of busty women being drilled, and busty women having sex with other busty women.