Ah, exploitation cinema… Like the adverts for Burger King’s ‘steal’ meal deal or the blurb on a packet of legal ‘weed’, b-movies so often promise a lot more than they deliver, and their main method of generating sizzle to disguise a lack of steak is a suitably lurid title.
I’ve been interested in cult films for a fair while now and in that time I’ve encountered some truly wonderful movie titles, usually attached to some truly lousy films, and so I thought it’d be fun to put together a list of ten suitably wonderful titles to demonstrate the range of schlock on the market. Obviously everyone’s got their own idea of what makes a cracking movie title and there are doubtless some titles so tasteless, so ridiculous and so obscure that I’ve not encountered them. Still, it’s not like I’m Empire magazine, so I don’t have to be definitive. Oh, and a word before we start – I know that the world of pornography has produced more rancid, hilarious, OTT and tasteless titles than ‘legitimate’ cinema ever could but there’s no fun to be had topping horror movie titles with The Assprentice with Sir Alan Fucker is there? By the way, I just made that one up. Any porn producers reading, I want a cut! Or possibly a role… Anyway, on with the list! And we’ll start at the bottom:
10. Zombie Strippers
The Ronseal of lurid movie titles, as the film does indeed feature strippers who are zombies. Jenna Jameson stars as a Nietzsche-reading pole-dancer who becomes zombified, only to find that wiggling her maggot-ridden backside around earns her (and the club’s seedy owner, played by Robert ‘Freddy Krueger’ England) more money than mortal gyrating ever did. I came away from this film worried that I might be a necrophile, but would sex with a zombie technically count as necrophilia? Hmm… that aside, Zombie Strippers is that rarest of rare beasts: a movie with a lurid title that’s actually well-worth watching. It’s a hoot, plus it’s got a metal soundtrack and a fat, moustachioed comedy Mexican. What’s not to love?!
9. Faster Pussycat…Kill! Kill!
Good old oedipal Russ Meyer. This is probably the most famous of Meyer’s movies, thanks in no small part to its stonking title. Faster Pussycat tells the tale of three ruthless go-go dancers who end up killing a man in a drag race, abducting his girlfriend and then attempting to seduce and fleece a farmhouse of typical dumb hicks. Unusually for Meyer there’s no nudity in this film, but it’s a fun romp nonetheless.
8. Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid!!
Gah, talk about a good title covering a shameful pile of dross. A film so poorly executed, badly written and laughably acted that it barely deserves comment. Two guys decide to break away from the 9-5 world and embark on a cross-country tour, unaware that a fat, ever-silent man has stowed away in their car. Along the way they break wind in restaurants and break up a wedding. Yawn, yawn. Interestingly, IMDB lists the film under the title ‘Zeisters’, which makes me think that crafty Lloyd Kaufmann of Troma just decided to slap this silly title on it in the hope of getting schmucks like me to bite. Your life is perfectly complete without seeing Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid.
7. KISS meets the Phantom of the Park
So KISS, already one of the most OTT rock bands ever to take to the stage, decide to up the ante even further by granting themselves super-powers in a made-for-TV movie from the late ‘70s. So Family Guy already exploited this – so what?! Any film which features Peter Criss blessed with the actual abilities of a cat is worthy of further acclaim. The film concerns an evil scientist who’s created an evil robot version of KISS in order to take revenge on the band for a perceived injustice. The film culminates with a good KISS vs evil KISS brawl on-stage, before a KISS concert is played. Campy? And how! See it and you’ll forgive Gene Simmons that reality series…
And naturally I follow that with a hearty (sic). This film is more commonly known as either The Beast in Heat or SS Hell Camp and follows the attempts of a Nazi dominatrix in the Ilsa mould to genetically engineer a creature which will, literally, hump Jewish POWs to death. A funny little fellow called Sal Boris plays the horny little goblin and has a whale of a time mugging to camera and wolfing down pubic hair, but the film is hampered by its budgetary constraints and lack of technical expertise. The director, Luigi Batzella, didn’t have enough footage or money to make a complete film, so while the torture scenes all take place within one room, they are bookended with footage spliced in from one of his earlier (and dull as dishwater) war movies. The result isn’t impressive but this is probably the only film of its ilk in existence. By the way, the film is also known as ‘Horrifying Experiments of the SS Last Days’, but the title card reads as I have rendered it above. That should tell you all you need to know.
Bloodsucka! Deadlier than Dracula! Yes, with the ‘70s came blaxploitation and after the action genre had been done to death, directors turned their attention to other areas, in this case Hammer Horror (God alone knows why…). In 1780, Count Dracula, who turns out to be a racist, places a vampiric curse on an African prince condemning him to immortality in the form of Blacula, who goes on to terrify Los Angeles two centuries on. Blacula is hugely entertaining and blaxploitation aficionados will love it. I’ve never been able to track down a copy of its sequel, Blackenstein, but with a title like that you know it’s got to be worth a look…
“You bastard! What have you done with my balls?!” is probably the best line in this movie, and indeed the best thing about it full stop. An absolute waste of time on all fronts, this film. The plot revolves around a concentration camp commandant who had his testicles bitten off by a Russian POW and seeks to acquire himself a new pair of Nazi knackers. To do this, he enlists some very Italian-looking Aryans to come and stay at his camp to use the female POWs as temporary sperm buckets. One of these hunky guards proves to have the gonads the commandant wants and is relieved of them, apparently without notice, causing the poor eunuch to come crashing in to the commandants office, demanding to know the whereabouts of his manhood. All this sounds entertaining but the film is so dark, grainy, poorly-paced, badly acted and boring that there’s literally no point in putting yourself through the ordeal of watching it. I read a book through the film the first time I saw it; my brother fell asleep. You have been warned.
Another film with Nazi themes, although this time with a more unique spin on things. The citizens of a town called Watts are under constant assault from the Mafia and form a people’s army to combat the Mafioso, the titular Black Gestapo. However, a power struggle between the group’s leaders cause one leader to become vilified and attempt to avoid being wasted along with the Mafiosos. Not remarkable as blaxploitation films go but the sight of black fellows in SS garb will linger, and mentioning the title to a film bore at a dinner party will make you seem the wit of the evening. I think…
2. Caligula Reincarnated as Hitler
I wanted to include They Saved Hitler’s Brain on this list but then I read about this lil’ nazisploitation atrocity. As is typical for the genre, this film follows the plight of a Jewish POW who is ensconced in a concentration camp that acts as a bordello for German soldiers. Naturally the film’s choc-full of sex scenes, torture and perverse scientific experiments but the cake has to be taken by a dinner scene in which a pot roast of Semitic foetus is served up. Lovely. I doubt you’ll be able to track this one down but it makes the film Caligula look like Bambi by comparison.
Possibly the best movie title ever. Just try and imagine all the possibilities open to a director charged with lensing a project called Porno Holocaust. Oh, and before anyone shouts, this was marketed as a legitimate horror film back in the day, hence its inclusion on this list. How could a project which sounds so very, very promising possibly fail? Sadly, director Joe D’Amato just doesn’t deliver with this sorry cheapie about a group of scientists on an expedition to a tropical island to find out about a monster, which is apparently murdering local fishermen. There’s lots of sex, granted, but it all involves people so unattractive it’s like watching cattle rut and despite the film’s ‘monster’ boasting a third leg which could legitimately support his weight, which he uses as his primary weapon (no double entendres, please), the whole exercise is a fairly pointless, grainy mess. It does star George Eastman from Anthropophagus the Beast, which is a bonus of sorts, but ultimately Porno Holocaust is a title better savoured by the imagination than a film to be watched.
So there we have it. Ten of my favourite movie titles, definitely not ten of my favourite movies. If you know of any better titles which didn’t make my list, do let me know. Happy viewing!