The Hidden Gems Kick Back! - CineMania - Home Of The B-Movie Fan

Go to content

Main menu:

The Hidden Gems Kick Back!
By: Mickael
The pursuit of money is the cause for which we destroy our most honorable ideologies. We sacrifice our souls on the altar of compensation every single day when we go to work, put our noses to the grind stone, and lose out on a third of our most precious commodity in exchange for a pittance. This compromise has been a plague upon mankind for centuries, but only now do I dare to stand up and fight back against its subjugating grasp. Why? Because now this economic treadmill, this dastardly mechanism designed to keep the middle class in check, is impacting my ability to discover cheesy movies.

When a publication or website dedicated to films has to choose what gets printed and what doesn’t, the decision doesn’t come down to the quality of the content. The decision is made by how many new customers the cover will attract at the newsstand or how many unique visitors a headline will draw online. The reason for this is simple: the larger your circulation, the more you can charge for ad rates. This has been the truth behind the editorial process of publications since long before the age of the internet. Newspapers in the 1930’s, desperately competing for declining sales dollars amidst the radio's rise as the standard delivery system for news, would create BIGGER and bolder headlines designed to tittilate instead of inform. Often, unscrupulous news editors would create a story out of whole cloth just to increase sales. But who cares about people in the 1930’s? I sure as hell don’t. What I care about is discovering movies, and these greedy bastards make it harder than my nipples at a $5 DVD bin to do so. Every October, I have to sit through 7,948 articles about the Halloween franchise. It’s not because they’re the best horror movies, it’s because they’ll resonate with a large enough percentage of the audience to gain clicks and the site can get more ad revenue.
Lately, the deluge of articles about the next Star Wars movie has taken up more gigabytes than Jared's kiddie porn folder. Meanwhile, Crimson Peak came and went but because it wouldn’t draw clicks, it didn’t get nearly enough press. Goosebumps got more press. In 20 years, do you think you’re going to sit down on your hovering space-couch and watch Goosebumps? No, you’ll watch Crimson Peak, because it’s wonderful. The thing is, the internet movie community is far too unpredictable and bipolar for websites to take a chance on unique content. This is illustrated in the two biggest movie-related news items of this week. Item 1: Mystery Science Theater 3000 is coming back from the dead thanks to a crowdfunding campaign! Woo hoo! The IMC rejoices! “We love MST3k,” they say, “So we are happy to have more of it.” Item 2: Memento is getting a remake. “Boo hoo!” the IMC laments, “We love Memento, so we want you to leave it alone!” Get your shit together, internet, you have no fucking idea what you want. If there was a Kickstarter campaign for a Memento sequel or remake then you would all contribute your $5 and tweet your support. But, because it wasn’t your decision, because someone else decided this one for you, you’re rebelling. You’re a petulant child, Internet Movie Community... go to your room and think about how you’ve behaved. While you’re there, here are some other movies you can watch. Movies that aren’t on the covers of any magazines or in the clickbait headlines of any mainstream movie sites. None of these films stand to earn anyone a dime. They’re outdated and forgotten. They’re not being resurrected on Blu-Ray or celebrated in listicles. They’re hidden gems, which (by our definition) are films that have received fewer than 5,000 votes on IMDb despite having plenty of time to catch on. In fact, these particular films all have well under 1,000 user ratings! They’re not necessarily underground (because mass media entertainment, by it’s very definition, is attempting to be noticed), but they are underappreciated and underpromoted. They’re underdogs in the fight for film supremacy. Now, these hidden gem underdogs are prepared to kick back:
#7: Dirty Ho (1976)
The Shaw Brothers production company was so prolific during the 1970's, it's easy for any one of their classics to get lost in the shuffle. Dirty Ho, though, stars Chia Hui-Liu (aka Gordon Liu) who would go on to achieve fame in Kill Bill, Man With The Iron Fists, Kill 'Em All, True Legend, Last Hero In China, and Executioners From Shaolin. This beautiful kung fu movie is elevated by it's clever fight sequences and strong performances. Equal parts action, comedy, and drama, I would put this movie up there with any of the more popular martial arts films of the era. If you're a fan of Iron Monkey, this one's for you.
#6: Sledgehammer (1983)
Sledgehammer is divisive. It's an incredibly low-budget indie horror film from the early 80's, the first movie by David A. Prior (Killer Workout, Future Zone), and it's among the pioneers of the homemade video genre. It's Sledgehammer (along with Boardinghouse) that sort of paved the way for later video films like Redneck Zombies and Woodchipper Massacre. Even movies like Bad Taste and The Blair Witch Project owe a debt to these early D.I.Y. video filmmakers. Though it isn't heavy on the gore, the cast and crew tell an occasionally compelling, albeit basic, tale of a killer who terrorized a group of teenagers with nothing but a sledgehammer and some deadly intentions. It's guerrilla moviemaking for fans of the Troma style.
#5: Karate Frightmare (1980)
Also known as Kung Fu Rebels, Trouble Maker Coming, The Jackal Against The Frog, Kung Fu Troublemaker, and Nan Weng Bei Gai; this old school chop socky flick is exactly what you need when you have a craving for over-the-top comedic fighting. With a very thin plot consisting of "bad ass kung fu master comes to town, destroying everybody he comes in contact with" used as a framing device for constant martial arts battles, you can enjoy this one even in an altered state. Some funny voice over work makes it the rare kung fu film that I'd recommend seeing the English dubbed version of instead of seeing the Hong Kong original with subtitles. Forgotten fun for fans of Drunken Master, Last Hero In China, and karate komedy in general!
#4: The Bloody Judge (1970)
Ladies night at the bar. The smoothie counter at your gym. OkCupid. Nowadays, there's plenty of options for an eligible bachelor to meet a prospective mate. Back in the 1600s, though, what was a morally corrupt judge to do? Well, as long as you're abusing your authority to advance your political power, you may as well accuse young women of being witches so you can take advantage of them as well. Christopher Lee plays one such judge in this tale of sleaze, torture, and corruption. Directed by prolific exploitation master Jesus Franco.
Billy Blanks is the vile streetfighting villain in this campy martial arts flick that is both a knock off of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s superior 1989 film Kickboxer as well as the third sequel to the film “No Retreat, No Surrender” which, co-incidentally, launched JCVD’s career! Even though this low budget actioner is Van Damme-less and light on plot, it’s still worth a watch for the brutality and creativity of the fight scenes. Also, with costumes directly out of a Double Dragon or Final Fight videogame, there’s enjoyment to be had merely viewing the movie as a time capsule of late 80’s culture and fashion. If you’ve never seen Billy Blanks as a formidable antagonist, or even realized that his Tae-Bo schtick actually came from his real-life accomplishments as a 7-time world karate champion, then this is the film to see.
#2: Video Violence (1987)
If Boardinghouse and Sledgehammer are the foothills of the shot-on-video film movement, then Video Violence is the genre’s Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s everything you want from a shot-on-video film: bloody, campy, and full of taboo subjects unfit for wide release movies. The cheesy acting and over-the-top gore effects combine to create something truly enjoyable in this tale of a video store owner who discovers that the townsfolk renting films from him want more than to just watch horror flicks: they want to create their own twisted tales of video violence in the form of snuff films. Imagine if 8MM, Be Kind Rewind, and The Wicker Man were all combined and then filmed by a few local college students on a $450 budget, of which $400 was spent on corn syrup.
#1: No Contest (1995)
With a cast that features "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Robert Davi, Shannon Tweed, and Andrew "Dice" Clay, this film should be among the most memorable of the cheesy 90's action films. Yet here we sit, 20 years hence, and there's not a lot of love or fond memories for this funny and intense version of "Die Hard at a beauty pageant". Unexpectedly, Shannon Tweed gets to play the "John McClane" roll to the Diceman's version of "Hans Gruber". Roddy Piper chews the scenery as the dangerously unstable lead henchman, while Robert Davi plays the fat cop from Family Matters who's trapped outside of the building. So, no, it's nothing new. But, it's a fun and lively diversion with the perfect cast. Great for fans of Die Hard clones, Wrestlemania III, and outdated comedy routines.
Are you fixing to pitch a bitch fit over what I had to say? Please let us know at:
or Follow us on Twitter: @RealCinemania

No comments
Back to content | Back to main menu