Trashterpiece Theater: Exploring the Strange and Unusual Side of Cinema: Volume 5

Death Force (1978)

Death Force AKA Vengeance is Mine is a revenge film albeit one with an incredibly ridiculous premise. Three associates smuggle gold back from their tour in Vietnam but for whatever reason two of the decide to murder the third dude (Doug Russell played by James Igalhart) and dump him off a boat. Russell washes up on the shore of an island occupied by Japanese soldiers left over from WWII. One of the soldiers trains Russell in the art of swordplay and he goes back to the states to use his righteous blade to avenge himself and protect his family. 

The film takes itself very seriously, but everything is so inept and poorly implemented that it makes the entire affair unintentionally hilarious. There is a groovy '70s funk soundtrack, some pretty legit sword battles, terrible dubbing, afros, and even some gore at the end! The movie does drag quite a bit since it's close to two hours long, but if you can make it to the end you will be greatly rewarded by one of the most baffling endings of all time.

Available on DVD from Vinegar Syndrome.

Bohachi Bushido: Code of the Forgotten Eight (1973)

If you are looking for a sleazy samurai flick along the same lines as Lone Wolf and Cub (but way less classy) then look no further! Bohachi Bushido is a nudity and blood filled chambara film from the master of titillation himself Teruro Ishii (Horrors of Malformed Men). The story concerns a nihilistic ronin named Shiro who tires to kill himself by throwing himself into a river. He is rescued by the nefarious Clan of the Forgotten Eight, so-named for their disregard of the "eight virtues": god, servitude, loyalty, trust, propriety, justice, conscience, and shame. 

They run an underground prostitution ring and hire Shiro to murder all the rival rings in the district. Shiro doesn't give a shit about anything or anyone, so he spends the rest of the film smoking opium and brutally killing everyone. He is one of the most deplorable protagonists I have ever seen, and in this film he isn't even the most evil person! Like many films in this period, it's filmed beautifully despite the subject matter and the third act is filled with wild neon colors and crazy editing.

Available on an out-of-print DVD from Discotek.

Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983)

Fans of cavemen movies AND sci-fi flicks will find lots to love in Yor, the Hunter from the Future. Starring hunky Reb Brown as the titular muscular caveman Yor, it starts out as a prehistoric romp (complete with dinosaur fights) then transitions to an equally campy retro styled science fiction aesthetic complete with robots. Yor also has a kicking rad theme song sung by famous Italian musicians Guido and Maurizio De Angelis that kicks in whenever he is doing awesome shit.

The special effects aren't too bad, especially with some of the animatronic dinosaurs. Yor flirts with every available woman on the planet and there are no shortage of beautiful cave ladies who want to take him back to their villages. As is the case with most Italian productions, the dubbing is awful but that adds to the charm of the movie.

Available on Blu-ray from Mill Creek.

Mystics in Bali (1981)

Indonesia was a popular and cheap destination for exploitation filming in the '80s and they often exported their movies overseas for foreign markets. Black Magic horror films were popular at the time and Mystics in Bali was part of that group of flicks (along with Lady Terminator). Most of these films involve an individual (usually foreign) dabbling in black magic rituals out of curiosity or for personal gain and having terrible events befall them as a result. In Mystics in Bali the story follows an American woman named Cathy who travels to Bali to write a book about black magic and voodoo. She ends up having an encounter with a local witch, known as a Leyak, who promises to teach her magic and spells.

As is usual in these films, Cathy is in way over her head and ends up being controlled by the Leyak and used to do her evil bidding. One of the Leyak's abilities is to detach their heads from their body and have it fly around to attack people. Poor Cathy gets her head used in this way (with her guts danglin' from it) which results in some bonkers sequences with her head floating around to kill victims. To be honest, Mystics in Bali is one of the tamer films in the black magic sub-genre, but it still has enough crazy visuals to keep one interested.

Available on DVD from Mondo Macabro.

Challenge of the Tiger (1980)

After Bruce Lee's untimely death, a strange genre of films cropped up which was dubbed Brucesploitation. These films have titles similar to famous Lee movies and feature actors who look similar to him. They even took stage names meant to invoke the master: Bruce Le, Bronson Lee, Bruce Lei and so on. Movie studios thought that the only way to market a martial arts film was to make the lead feel like Bruce Lee. Unfortunately, most of these flicks are terrible but they are still fun for B movie aficionados.

Challenge of the Tiger stars Bruce Le (real name Ho Chung Tao) as a CIA agent who is trying to stop the proliferation of a sterility drug from a laboratory in Spain. His womanizing partner is played by Godfry Ho schlock-film alumni Richard Harrison (Ninja Terminator) who spends the majority of the film playing tennis with topless chicks and taking sensual baths. The pièce de résistance has to be Bruce Le's epic fight against an angry bull complete with a finishing move. Definitely an oddity worth checking out.

Available on a double feature DVD with For Your Height Only from Mondo Macabro.

--Michelle Kisner