Rafal Zielinski - purveyor of generic 80s teen comedy schlock
1 - The Filmmaker Neil Breen, The Light of This World
1. Double Down (2005) 4.5
2. I Am Here....Now (2009) 4.9
3. Fateful Findings (2013) 4.7
4. Pass Thru (2016) 5.4
Brett Kelly, the David Michael Latt of the North
5. Hell at My Heels (2011) 1.1 - also first to check
6. Rise of the Black Bat (2012) 1.2
7. Jesse James: Lawman (2015) 1.9
8. Surfacing (Claude Jutra, 1981) 4.3
9. Underwater! (John Sturges, 1955) 5.2
xx. Atlas Shrugged: Part I (Paul Johansson, 2011)
10. Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike (John Putch, 2012) 5.3
11. Atlas Shrugged: Part III (James Manera, 2014) 4.3
Don Emonds - Sultan of Sleaze
12. Tender Loving Care (1972) 4.2
13. Ilsa: She-Wolf of the S.S. (1975) (re-watch) 5.1
14. Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks (1976) 5.1
Alvin Rakoff - Canuck jack-of-all-genres
15. City on Fire (1979) 4.1
16. King Solomon's Treasure (1979) 4.2
17. Death Ship (1980) 4.9
18. DEFCON-4 (Paul Donovan, 1985) 4.5
Lloyd A. Simandl - lingerie, shower & leather fetishist, purveyor of awful cinema
19. Autumn Born (1979) 4.2
20. Ladies of the Lotus (1987) 3.7
21. Possession (1987) 4.2
22. Empire of Ash aka Empire of Ash II (1988) 3.8
23. Empire of Ash III (1989) 4.4
24. The Bloody Brood (Julian Roffman, 1959) 4.9
Rafal Zielinski was born in Montréal in 1957 and spent much of his childhood and young adult years in Europe, before returning to North America and studying at M.I.T. His first directorial credit is for a documentary short in 1978, and his early film education included studies under direct cinema pioneer Richard Leacock, but while he has made a few independent films that have occasionally made small impacts on the awards circuit, his career has mostly been devoted to highly commercial cheesy crap, at least when it was centered in his native country; since the mid-90s he's worked mostly in the USA and his films since then look to be a mostly more interesting lot, though they remain extremely obscure. I can't say much about his skills or particular focus or filmmaking techniques based on these five films - they are all highly derivative cheap exploitation films and feel more the product of an assembly line (schlock-mesiter Jim Wynorski is involved in a couple of them, and some were distributed by Roger Corman) than any real individual creator.
26. Loose Screws
aka Screwballs II
Canadian horror films I'm sure get more notice simply because of the large numbers of horror fans out there, and because they've continued to be a big part of the national output for most of the last 50 years, but from the late 70s through the early 90s, back when nudity was still a common element in American and Canadian film, the teen-sex-comedy was also ascendant, no doubt for some of the same reasons that the horror film has been so successful - cheapness of production, and wide appeal among the least-discriminating audiences. Given the huge success of Porkys
in 1981, it's no surprise that the 80s in particular is a decade chock-full of this stuff, and it's no surprise that most of them are pretty close to the bottom of the barrel.
charts the fortunes of five loser guys who each get a week or two of detentions and bond - despite being respectively a couple of handsome jocks, a fat loser, a nerdy braniac, and a transfer from another school. Right away you lose even the slightest sense of reality with this kind of scenario. Anyway they spend the whole film trying to get under the skirts of the one virgin left, "Purity Busch". Yep that's the name and a good chunk of the other names are just as bad - the school is named "Taft-Arthur" or T&A, there's a "Bootsie Gooodhead", a "Jerkovski" and the principle is "Stuckoff". This is the level of humor on display. It's sleazy, unfunny, full of offensive or at least tiresome stereotypes, and none of the actors make any impression at all.
is a sequel in name only, with essentially the exact same plot but at a new school - the oh so cleverly named "Beaver High" - and with just four guys representing every type seen in the first film except the transfer student. Allen Deveau is the only returning cast member, playing essentially the same character (the braniac), named "Howie Bates" in the first film and "Hugh G. Rection" here. Ha ha it's funny if you're 12. This time it's the snooty French teacher they're all trying to bang. I found this marginally more entertaining than the first film though less than 48 hours later I couldn't tell you why easily. Cuter girls maybe? Anyway, enough of this shit, on to new stories, new ideas...
I guess this is a Police Academy
knockoff; haven't seen any of the films in that long-running series but it's pretty obvious as a point of comparison. And I doubt they're much better than this dreck. Basic storyline involves a small-town Mayor planning a visit from the Governor (yes it is supposedly the USA - like nearly all low-budget Canuxploitation films this is pretending to be American though some obvious spelling issues ("centre" for "center") and accents tell the real story to the sharp-eyed/eared consumer) and needing to hire a bunch of temporary motorcycles cops as added security - but unknown to him, the police chief wants to sabotage the Mayor and get his job, and he plans to do so by hiring total incompetents who will make the Mayor look bad. Ho hum. Unlike the rest of these 80s Zielinski films, this does feature one star-to-be who might be known to a significant audience: London Ontario's own Loita Davidovich, here in her second film and first significant role. She left Canada for Hollywood not long after this and was a fairly significant name through the 90s with films like Blaze, JFK
and Leap of Faith
in her credits list; here she's just the recruit with the best, uh, assets.
28. State Park
More genre retreading, surprise surprise. Another teen comedy but this one set in the great outdoors - supposedly Michigan but really Québec - like many other teen comedies, many of them Canadian, most notably 1979's Meatballs
. A disparate group of young people, including three female friends and two heavy-metal dudes, go to Weewankah State Park for some good ol' summer fun but find out that the Park's gonna be taken over and bulldozed by an Evil Developer who is maybe pumping dangerous chemicals into the place. So there's a guy dressing up in a bear costume (the mascot of the park) trying small acts of sabotage, and there's a rigged (for reasons never explained) wilderness race, there's a somewhat amusing (but predictable) musical cameo, and a fair amount of nudity (though less than the previous films - this is the late 80s and by now tits and ass are starting to disappear from the mainstream and PG13 is slowly taking over). Better than the first three films but still not all that good.
29. Last Resort
aka National Lampoon's Last Resort
Hey it's the two Coreys! I don't have any memory of this film from my video store days - I'm sure we had it, but it doesn't stand out - but I do remember one of my favorite co-workers, Uri, who love-hated these guys. I think it may have had to do with the fact that he was exactly the same age as them and was also a suburban Jewish kid, and he was just the right age for the dumb teen comedies they made even though he was (when I knew him) already getting serious about people like Tarkovsky and Godard. I'm sure he loved and hated this film most of all, because even without seeing their entire oeuvre yet I can pretty safely say this must have been the worst film they made together. Because it's one of the worst things anybody's ever made. This is one of those films that is just mind-boggling in it's awfulness, a string of entirely unfunny gags and jokes thinly held together by the dumbest of plots and serving maybe only as an excuse for the filmmakers and actors to spend some time in the Cayman Islands where it was filmed - though given that it's mostly done on sets, and there are just a few beach shots, it seems to me it could've been filmed anywhere warm with sand. I guess there was some tax scheme or something. Anyway as far as a "plot", the two Coreys head down to the private resort run by the uncle of one of them, who used to be an old-time movie swashbuckling hero. But unbeknownst to them the uncle's "enemy" - another elderly actor who always played the villain - is after the island and will stop at nothing to get it, including sending bungling henchmen (the hulking Tony Longo and some other dude who reminds me of Tom Green) and... shit, I don't remember what else. I'm already blotting this out of my mind. I think it's maybe harder to describe what makes a terrible comedy so terrible than it is to talk about most other kinds of films - even if you remember the jokes indicating the context and such is difficult and not worth the trouble. I'll just conclude by saying this is the worst film I've seen this year so far and conceivably the worst comedy I've ever seen. There are a few moments that were funny in the unintentional way, but not enough for me to call this so-bad-it's-good. It's just unwatchable.
30. Starship Invasions
(Ed Hunt, 1977) 3.8
A pleasant surprise, in some ways comparable in my mind to the Antonio Margheriti films I watched during the first iteration of this challene, 2 1/2 years ago; not that this cheap Canadian SF film bears any particular resemblance to those cheap Italian flicks of a decade earlier, but in it's weird costumes and sometimes cool production design, it hits the same sweet spot for me. As a matter of fact it feels quite "dated" in the sense that it seems more a film from the late 60s than one from the same year as Star Wars
and Close Encounters
, and not just because of the cheapness or poor effects. The skin-tight female costumes (a couple of varieties) and the day-glo decor inside the alien undersea station remind me most all of British TV and filmed SF of the late 60s - early 70s - Doctor Who
in particular. The story - well, there's a UFOlogist (Robert Vaughn) who goes around the US (but really Canada) interviewing people and collecting evidence, and there's an alien race that wants to destroy humanity so they can move their dying people here (a story done many, many times in film and literature - This Island Earth
from 1955 is one of the most notable and obvious antecedents), led by Christopher Lee in a pretty goofy costume -
and as I said, there's this undersea station run cooperatively by a bunch of different alien races (which means some of them are different colored or have weird heads as you see in this still), some of which are against Lee's plan, so there's a fight between the different aliens that develops. The effects are beyond shoddy by 1977 standards but as I said, I liked the look of the thing enough, and it's at least fairly competently put together. No great shakes overall but one of the more fun cheapo SF films from it's decade.