I’m grading on a curve here — not good in the sense that I could have paid $11 to see it and walked away satisfied. But certainly way ahead of the other movies in this collection. And better than some movies I actually have paid $11 to watch.
Keepsake (2008) – Probably the best in the collection. Maybe more than any of the others, it seemed like an effort by serious film-makers. I just today discovered that I have owned this movie for years and did not realize it. It was in another cheapo collection that I never finished because I didn’t have the voracious gaping maw of a blog to feed on a deadline.
Hell’s Highway (2002) – I’m not 100% positive if this was the 2nd best, or if I was just giddy because this was the last entry. It is more that there were a few scenes I appreciated rather than sustained goodness. Micro-budget, but not afraid for their reach to exceed their grasp, and show some seams. I could imagine the crew scrambling and running in between takes to get it as right as possible.
“Not Bad” might literally be a synonym for “Good”, but I still have to hedge a little on these. 20 years ago, I could have imagined re-watching one of these on a rainy Saturday afternoon. That standard is long gone with so many better movies available on demand, but it stills works as a metric.
White Zombie (1932) – I cut this a lot of slack based on the age. Had this been part of the Universal Monster scene, it would not be in the public domain, would have been better preserved, and would be more highly regarded. It’s an entertaining watch.
Trancers (1985), Prom Night (1980), Puppet Master (1989) – These seem like a little bit of a cheat since they were actual theatrically released movies — or at least cult videos — with some recognizable faces.
I’m confident I could sit still and watch these again without being tied to a chair. But I really can’t imagine voluntarily watching them again without such restraints.
Curtains (1983) – I’m giving this the benefit of the doubt. The transfer was so terrible, it was tough to watch, but others seem to like it. If I got a free Blu-Ray, I’d give it another chance.
King of the Zombies (1941) – Very dated, and probably raaaacist. But make some allowances and it is not a torturous watch.
Inside (2006) – Very slow, but not in a bad way, with an intriguing premise and some good performances.
Cruel World (2005) – Really a train wreck that I am being very charitable to. On another day, this could easily be in the next bracket down. Whenever I have doubts that acting is actually a skill, I will remember Edward Furlong’s “performance.”
Grave Mistake (2008) – Kind of fun in its micro-budget silliness.
Nurse (1997) – In the Watchable category only because it doesn’t really do anything wrong. It is just slow, melodramatic, and fails to adequately exploit an interesting concept.
The Gingerdead Man 3 (2011) – No effort at all was expended in the making of this film. It is so shameless, however, that it is kind of likable.
Participation Trophies (i.e. Crap)
Night Shadow (1989) – Man-childs, men-children? Whatever, just embarrassing. Infantile acting and a story that takes forever to go nowhere.
Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988) – Another slow start that seemed very slow to end also.
Teenage Zombies (1960) – I feel kind of sorry for this one. It was clearly just some yahoos trying to make a quick buck in the old AIP days. There is no pretense of art; but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch.
Shaded Places (2000) – Just awful. Awful performances, unbearable score, leaden pace, and I am guessing a largely improvised script — not necessarily a bad thing, but there is not a Christopher Guest or Larry David in this bunch.
Awaken the Dead (2007) – Well, somebody had to be last. From the original review:
- Cinematography: Just dreadful. I don’t even think it was incompetence or budget constraints; it was just terrible choices.
- Acting: Mostly terrible.
- Dialogue: Terrible.
- Make-Up: Really looked more like Insane Clown Posse than zombies.
- Story: Adequate. You don’t really need much for a good zombie movie.
- Sound: Not well-recorded. Sound does not get enough respect — in this, and many low-budget movies, expectations are lowered upon hearing the first word of dialogue.
Despite the crap, I was actually surprised at how watchable most of the movies were. I’ve seen worse blindly choosing on NetFlix. And all of them were still more enjoyable than watching a movie on Hulu.