Monday, October 31, 2011

Short Film: Face Like A Frog (USA, 1987)

Remember that big budget remake of the Twilight Zone from 1983? The infamous one for which the actor Vic Morrow and two child extras lost their lives to a helicopter while filming the John Landis segment? Among the various segments is one directed by the ever-entertaining Joe Dante, a remake of the 1963 episode It's A Good Life about a mutant kid (Bill Mumy) with the powers of god. (The episode was also the subject of a sequel episode It's Still A Good Life in the 2002 revival of the TV show in 2002.) In the remake, at one point the little brat sends one of his "family", Ethal (Nancy Cartwright), to her demise by popping her into a cartoon hell on TV, where she ends up being eaten by demonic monster rabbit? The episode itself may not have been as good as the original TV version, but damn! That cartoon hell was great! And it was created by Sally (née "Sarah") Cruikshank, the animator behind A Wasted Life's "Short Film of the Month" for October, 2011.
Cruikshank (website), born in New Jersey in June 1949, made her first animated film while studying at Smith College. She went on to study filmmaking under the independent filmmaker Larry Jordan at the San Francisco Art Institute. Her best known short, the ten-minute-long 35 mm animation Quasi at the Quackadero, was released in 1975; in 2009, it was selected for the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Her career as a professional animator includes animation sequences for feature films, the most recent possibly being the opening credits to the highly atypical Gregg Araki movie, the stoner comedy Smiley Face (2007 / trailer). For awhile, from 1989-1999, she also did short animations for Sesame Street. Never the most productive of animators, she seems to have moved into the realm of inactivity — even her blog seldom gets an update.
Her short presented here, Face Like A Frog, is a perfect film for the season — as is pointed out on her own website, the 5-minute-long film is an "expressionist Halloween cartoon", though it plays as if it owes more to good drugs and Surrealism than Expressionism. Possibly originally made for MTV's sorely missed program Liquid Television, it is in part set to one of the early songs of The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, "Don't Go in the Basement". 
Face Like A Frog: a wild and fun ride and a perfect film for Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (USA, 2010)


"Oh hidy-ho officer, we've had a doozie of a day. There we were minding our own business, just doing chores around the house, when kids started killing themselves all over my property."

Tucker (Alan Tudyk)




Eli Craig, occasional actor (The Rage: Carrie 2 [1999 / trailer]) and the youngest son of Sally Field, makes his feature-length directorial debut with an extremely sovereign piece of bloody fluff that takes the piss out of the conventions of the teenage bodycount and killer hillbilly film genres. With a directorial debut as fun as this one, one gets the feeling Craig could have a viable future ahead of him...
In truth, the opening scene of Tucker and Dale vs. Evil – an obvious homage and persiflage of both the ever-popular introductory death scene of dead teenager films as well as the generic Blair Witch Project (1999) through-the-viewfinder technique – doesn't help to build any faith in that which is to come during the rest of the film, but the expectation of a dud that the first scene instigates is quickly dissipated once the film rolls back time and begins its main narrative. (The opening scene of the film actually takes place after the end of the story.)
As in a thousand of other films – dozens of which you find reviewed in this blog – the main story of Tucker and Dale vs. Evil opens with a scene introducing those you would expect to be the true protagonists of a normal dead teenager film: a gaggle of fun-loving (over-aged) generic teenagers (complete with the mandatory Afro-American pair) on the way to the always deadly campout in them-thar hills. And as they drive down that country road, they are passed by two glaring, generic horror-film hillbillies in a typically battered hick pickup, the eponymous Tucker (Alan Tudyk of Death at a Funeral [2007 / trailer]) and Dale (Tyler Labine of Evil Alien Conquerors [2003 / trailer]). At the next pit stop, the film segues wonderfully from the viewpoint of teenagers – who feel as if they're surrounded by a dangerous mass of in-bred West Virginian murderers – to that of the backwoods inhabitants, who simply view the teens with the normal curiosity one has for strangers or, in the case of Dale, with total infatuation at the beauty of the gals – specifically, one gal: Allison (Katrina Bowden of The Shortcut [2009 / trailer]).
But Dale's emboldened attempt to introduce himself goes hilariously awry, to his total ignorance of why, and, from the viewpoint of the teens, in a manner that indicates that hillbillies are indeed psychos. The teens head for the hills in terror, and the best buds Tucker and Dale head on up to Tucker's recently bought "fixer-upper", a wreck of a lakeside mountain cabin that looks as if it was decorated by Leatherface, to drink beer, fish, eat grits, fix-up the grounds and have a good time. But a late-night fishing excursion disturbs the nearby teens as they are doing what teens do – skinny-dipping – and the demurely bedecked Allison almost drowns, only to be saved at the last second by Dale. Her friends, however, think that that the hicks have kidnapped Allison and plan to kill her. The misunderstandings and misinterpretations increase and the college students, in their desperate attempts to save their classmate, and to the baffled horror of Tucker and Dale, kill themselves one by one...
With the exception of Allison and the eventual evil of the film's title – Chad (Jesse Moss of Ginger Snaps [2000 / trailer] and the forgettable Final Destination 3 [2006 / trailer]) – the teens are as attractive and bland and interchangeable as in the average slasher, less real people than types; but for a change, this feels intentional and serves only to underscore their judgmental superficiality. Tucker and Dale, on the other hand, have definite character and over the course of the film become the most likable a pair of redneck losers since, say, Earl (Fred Ward) and Valentine (Kevin Bacon) of Tremors (1990 / trailer).
The film itself is well shot and tightly edited, with a narrative that wastes little time and is surprisingly grounded in reality – yes, everything goes massively wrong in ways that defy reality, but the steps leading up to the results never skirt into an obviously unrealistic, fantasy level like that of some other recent horror comedies such as, for example, Zombieland (2009 / trailer) or Evil Aliens (2006 / trailer). But like Zombieland and Evil Aliens – or Shawn of the Dead (2004 / trailer) or Botched (2007 / trailer) or Slither (2006 / trailer), to list a few of the more successful recent horror comedies – Tucker and Dale vs. Evil balances the blood and guts with the laughs extremely well, and never underplays the gore aspects of the genre even as it injects the events with both humor and (during the big final showdown) tension and excitement.
Like the less funny but just as equally creative and surprising horror film Trick 'r Treat (2007 / trailer), Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is yet another recent genre film that really deserves a wider release than it ever got and that, one hopes, will eventually be discovered by a broader audience – as it deserves to be. Be the first one on your block.

Monday, October 10, 2011

R.I.P.: David Hess


19 September 1936 – 7 October 2011

David Hess (homepage), a popular cult actor who tended to specialize is psychos and assholes, died of a heart attack at the age of 75 on October 7th, 2011, in Tiburon, California. He is survived by his wife Regina Mardek, three sons and a daughter, and a brother and two sisters.
The son of an opera singer, David Hess was born in NYC on September 19th, 1936. Prior to entering films, as a handsome young man he first tasted success in the music industry under the name of David Hill. In 1956, he recorded the first version of the perennial classic All Shook Up, which Elvis turned into a top ten hit the following year in 1957, the same year that Hess (as Hill) began working as a songwriter for Shalimar Music. He wrote songs for Elvis Presley (among others, I Got Stung and Sand Castles), Conway Twitty, Sal Mineo and the Ames Brothers. In 1962 co-wrote and released (as "David Dante") the original version of the classic song Speedy Gonzalez, which, when rerecorded by Pat Boone, went on to sell over eight million copies worldwide. Following two solo LPs for Kapp Records – and a top ten folk hit with the song Two Brothers – he became an A&R man at Mercury Records. Perhaps his most interesting project at this time of his life was the rock opera The Naked Carmen, which he wrote with the classical composer John Corigliano.
In 1972, however, Hess made his acting debut in the grindhouse classic Last House on the Left, and had he only made that film it would already be reason enough to pay our respects here at A Wasted Life. His performance – like the film – is unforgettable. But he did not stop with that film; instead, Hess went on to give a number of other memorable performances in a number of other noteworthy (and less noteworthy) films, mostly of the variety we here at A Wasted Life like to watch. And that is why we're paying our respects to him today here on A Wasted Life.
David Hess was a talented musician and actor, and by all accounts – and belaying his usual screen presence – a friendly and cultured man. We thank him for all he contributed to this world.
Below is a presentation of selected filmic projects he took part in – the good and the bad ones. Appearances on TV series are not covered, nor are those of which no visual information could be located on the web.


The Last House on the Left
(1972, dir. Wes Craven)
Trailer:


Hess made his film debut in this classic grindhouse production, the film that jump-started the careers of its producer, Shawn S. Cunningham, and debut director, Wes Craven. Inspired by the 1960 Ingmar Bergman film The Virgin Spring (in turn based on the 13th century Swedish ballad Töres döttrar i Wänge ("Töre's Daughters in Vänge"), Last House on the Left is a primitive and uneven but unforgettable piece of exploitation that remains far more effectively shocking and political than its unnecessary glossy 2009 remake (trailer). The film, which was banned in Australia for over 34 years, incurs strong reactions: one of the film's stars, Fred J. Lincoln, who went on to a long-lasting career directing and acting in porn (doing such fine films as Enema Obedience 2 [1994], The Enema Bandit [1994], The Enema Bandit Returns [1995] and Abducted by the Enema Bandit [1997]), has even gone on record as considering the film to be the worst movie he ever took part in. The plot: Two teenage girls on the way to a rock concert want to buy some pot and cross paths with a quartet of psychopaths who torture and kill them; a twist of fate brings the killers to the house of one of the girls, and when the parents figure out what has happened, they take merciless revenge. Hess stands out as Krug Stillo, the group's leader, in an amoral performance only matched by that of his costar Jeramie Rain (later and now former wife of Richard Dreyfuss) as Sadie, the killer bitch of the group. The clip embedded below (featuring stills from The Last House on the Left) features the original version of Wait for the Rain, one of the many songs David Hess provided for the film's soundtrack.
Wait for the Rain:



The Swiss Conspiracy
(1976, dir. Jack Arnold)
David Hess appears in this German/U.S. coproduction as the hitman Sando, and while he was hardly deemed worth naming on the poster of the film, he can be seen more than once in the film's trailer. The extremely forgiving blog Ninja Dixon – which supposedly once referred to me as a "retard" for dissing the crappy film Zeder (1983) – says the film is "a good little movie that fans of eurocult and seventies action-thrillers might enjoy more than they think". The second-to-last feature film of the great Jack Arnold, The Swiss Conspiracy has a fab cast (just look at the names on the poster!). The plot, according to Jeremy Perkins at imdb: "When a Swiss bank finds that the confidentiality of some of its more vulnerable customers has been compromised it calls in an American investigator, who soon uncovers a web of deceit and blackmail. With old debts being paid off his own health is soon in danger, but at least he starts to gets to know one of the bank's female customers pretty well."
Trailer:



21 Hours at Munich
(1976, dir. William A. Graham)
A TV movie directed by the man who called the shots for masterpieces such as Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991 / trailer), Honky (1971 / trailer) and Elvis's wonderfully tacky nuns-in-love flick Change of Habit (1969 / trailer). In this film based on the true story of how, on September 5, 1972, at the start of the 1972 Olympics games, a group of Arab terrorists known as Black September took eleven Israeli athletes hostage, David Hess is seen as "Berger", one of the athletes that is killed.
ABC Sunday Night Movie – 21 Hours At Munich:



Montana Trap
(1976, dir. Peter Schamoni)
This film, a Eurowestern also known as Potato Fritz, is a rather odd outing for the director, who generally lensed more culturally inclined topics. Hess, as "Sleeve", makes it in small print onto at least one version of the film's poster. He can be seen, bearded, in the excerpt presented below. The plot, according to the Spaghetti Western Database: "Potato Fritz (Hardy Kruger) and his friends have moved from Germany to the American Wild West, settling eventually in the Rockies. They are besieged by what appear to them to be hostile Native Americans. Before too long, it becomes clear that the hostiles are in fact a gang of gold thieves. This movie is notable among German-made Westerns for its use of authentic period costumes and firearms." David Hess later coproduced the documentary film Niki de Saint Phalle (1976), the third-to-last film directed by Schamoni.
Excerpt from Montana Trap:



The Naked Prey
Aka Autostop rosso sangue, Hitch-Hike, and Death Drive. Supposedly based on Peter Kane's novel The Violence and the Fury, but the novel proves untraceable on the web. Hess, as über-nasty Adam Konitz, is the third lead in this depri Italo-crime film starring Franco Nero and Corinne Cléry as the unhappily married Walter and Eve Mancini. The plot, according to Matt Patay at imdb: "Walter Mancini (Nero) is an egotistical newspaper editor driving across California with his spiteful wife, Eve (Cléry), on a weekend getaway to save their troubled marriage. But things take a turn when they pick up a stranded motorist, named Adam, who takes them hostage revealing himself to be a fugitive running from both the police and his two accomplices after robbing a bank and making off with all the loot. But things are not always as they seem as Walter and Eve try to find a way to not only get rid of their unwanted car guest, but find a way to deal with each other when both see the tempting offer of the stolen $2 million in cash Adam always has on him." Anchor Films, which released the film on DVD, says The Naked Prey is "one of the greatest exploitation films no one has ever seen".
Trailer:



Avalanche Express
(1979, dir. Mark Robson)
Based on the Colin Forbes novel of the same name. Avalanche Express is the last film of director Robson (the director of such memorable films as Isle of the Dead [1945 / trailer], Bedlam [1946 / full movie], Valley of the Dolls [1967 / trailer] and Earthquake [1974 / trailer]), who died mid-film; an uncredited Monte Hellman finished the final release. Star Robert Shaw, also in his final film, died too soon to dub the flick. The plot according to TV Guide: "An all-star cast highlights this action adventure as a Soviet KGB agent (Shaw) attempts to defect to the West with important information. Both natural and man-made disasters threaten his passage to freedom aboard a train bound for Holland." Hess is there for the ride in a small part as "Geiger".
Trailer:



House on the Edge of the Park
(1980, dir. Ruggero Deodato)
Original title: La casa sperduta nel parco. One of the last truly memorable, grimy spurts of prime Italo-trash from the great exploitation master Ruggero Deodato, who had pretty much lost his touch by the time he got around to making Dial: Help (1988 / trailer). In this legendary "video nasty", Hess steals the show as yet another scumbag, this time named Alex, one of a duo who terrorize, torture and kill a variety rich snobs before getting their comeuppance. His first victim is no one other than his real-life wife, acting under the name Karoline Mardeck. The plot, according to The Terror Trap: "Two men (David Hess and John Morghen) disrupt an upscale dinner party by raping and torturing everyone there. The generally unconvincing story has a twist too ridiculous to believe."
Trailer:



To All a Goodnight
(1980, dir. David Hess)
The only feature-length film Hess ever directed is an entry in the killer-Santa slasher subgenre; the script was supplied by Alex Rebar, who played the title role in the cult bad-film fave The Incredible Melting Man (1977 / trailer / full movie) and also wrote the forgotten nasty Demented (1980 / trailer). The relatively generic plot, according to Jean-Marc Rocher at imdb: "It's Christmas break at the Calvin Finishing School for Girls, and the students are planning a big party while the president of the school is away. A group of boys show up and the fun begins, until mysterious killer starts bumping off couples one by one. The police show up and promise to keep everyone safe, but they prove ineffectual against the crazed psycho. Could the killings have anything to do with the girl who was killed in an initiation stunt at the school a few years earlier?"
Review of To All a Goodnight:



Swamp Thing
(1982, dir. Wes Craven)
We here at A Wasted Life have a soft spot for this rather campy and cheap and fun version of the DC comic character, which in no way comes close to the quality of the original comics by Len Wein and the great Berni Wrightson (a review of the film is due to appear on this blog next year) but does have a naked Adrienne Barbeau. Hess has a feature role as Ferret, an underling of the film's main bad guy Arcane (Louis Jourdan), who also appears in Jim Wynorski's sub-quality sequel, The Return of the Swamp Thing (1989 / trailer).
Trailer:



White Star
(1983, dir. Roland Klick)
Aka Let It Rock. David Hess appears as "Frank" in this, the second-to-last directorial project (and possible worst film) of the unjustly unknown (outside of Germany) and forgotten (in Germany) art-trash director Roland Klick, who made the great German exploitation masterpiece Supermarkt (1974 / trailer) and the proto-postmodern Eurowestern masterpiece Deadlock (1970 / trailer). (Although officially retired from films, rumor has it that Klick is still active under an unrevealed pseudonym.) About this film, The World of Mr Satanism says: "This dude (Terrance Robay) just wants to play his shitty new age music [...] but his crazy producer (Dennis Hopper) keeps coming up with these ludicrous schemes, like booking him at a TSOL concert and then starting a huge riot so they get in the papers and shit. [...] Later this other guy [...] sends these punk rockers to wreck the new age dude's studio. The producer [...] ends up fighting them in a public bathroom with a pool cue. This might be the lamest fight ever filmed, by the way, and I'm even taking YouTube into consideration when I say that. The best part is the end though: the new age dude goes to the hospital to see this chick who got shot during a fake assassination attempt on him, but he's so stoned he pisses in a bottle right in front of everybody and then throws it at some photographers. [...] This is definitely the most punk rock movie about new age music ever made." David Hess makes it onto the DVD cover in small print.
Trailer:



Let's Get Harry
(1986, dir. Stuart Rosenberg [as Alan Smithee])
David Hess appears as a "Mercenary" in this feature-length miscalculation... he's not seen in the trailer... but then, everyone who is probably wishes they weren't. As Wikipedia correctly points out, "Almost all of the ensemble cast was famous at the time of the [making of the] film, and it is rare that a film with so many known actors is so forgotten." But then, it never made it to the theatres, and was instead instantly relegated to late-night local TV. The plot, according to Paul Brenner at Rotten Tomatoes: "[An] action film concerning a soldier of fortune sent into a South American country to rescue a kidnapped American during a revolutionary upheaval. Harry Burk Jr. (Mark Harmon) and United States Ambassador Douglas (Bruce Gray) are held hostage by Colombian drug dealers who demand the release of associates who are imprisoned in the United States. But the U.S. government refuses to negotiate with the drug dealers. In disgust, Harry's brother Corey (Michael Schoeffling) and three of his friends (Tom Wilson, Glen Frey, and Rick Rossovich), along with an adventurous auto dealer named Jack (Gary Busey), hire mercenary soldier Shrike (Robert Duvall) to sneak into Columbia and rescue Harry."
Trailer:



Armed and Dangerous
(1986, dir. Mark L. Lester)
This film is a true oddity: a (terrible) comedy directed by a specialist of exploitation and action (i.e., Class of 1984 [1982 / trailer], Commando [1985 / trailer] and Showdown in Little Tokyo [1991 / trailer]). Hess appears somewhere as "Gunman #4". A masterpiece of comedy.... NOT!!!!
Trailer:



Camping del terrore
(1987, dir. Ruggero Deodato)
Trailer:

Aka Body Count. The back of the video description: "A fun-loving gang of college kids explore the Colorado wilderness during their long summer vacation. But at a campsite managed by the mysterious Robert (Hess) and his wife, Julia, they hear the old legend of the Shaman, half-man, half-beast. When strange noises in the night suddenly become terrifying reality, the campers realize that the legend is true. This horrifying tale of murder and mayhem twists and turns as fast as the bodies drop and the thrilling climax is guaranteed to make even the toughest squirm!" By all accounts found on the web, despite a cast that includes Hess, Charles Napier (R.I.P.), Ivan Rassimov and Mimsy Farmer, Body Count is just another latter-day dud by the once great Ruggero Deodato.
Great proto-techno title track by the great Claudio Simonetti, the original keyboardist of Goblin:



Buck ai confini del cielo
(1991, dir. Tonino Ricci)
Aka Bucks größtes Abenteuer (Germany), Buck en las alturas (Spain), Trustful Buck (U.K.) and Buck at the Edge of Heaven (U.S.A.) – inspired by the short stories of Jack London. The plot, according to Spaghetti Western Database: "Trapper Wintrop lives in a lonesome hut in the mountains, together with his father, son Tim, his wolf dog Buck and the dumb scout Matt. When a gang of villains robs and kills grandpa in their absence, they are determined to hunt them down." Hess has one of the main roles as "Dan". Followed in 1999 by the sequel Buck and the Magic Bracelet (trailer).
Six minutes of Buck ai confini del cielo:



Omicidio a luci blu
(1991, dir. Alfonso Brescia)
A search of the web reveals little to no information about this Italo crime film in which David Hess plays a lead role as "Sergeant Flanagan"... but thanks to the help of the website Nice Translator, we would hazard to say the plot is as follows: Jezebel (Florence Guérin) is the most famous prostitute of Cannibal Street; she specializes in satisfying the strangest requests of her highly particular clientèle. Starlet, a rather sophisticated woman who cultivates her privacy, is a highly demanded fashion model. In fact, Jezebel and Starlet are one and the same person: the reason for this duel lifestyle lies in the fact that the woman is hunting for a mysterious sex maniac who some months earlier killed and horribly mutilated her brother. The film's director Alfonso Brescia, who died in 2001, is perhaps better known under his anglicized pseudonym "Al Bradley"; among his numerous psychotronic films are Ator III: Iron Warrior (1986 / trailer), Beast in Space (1980 / trailer), War of the Planets (1977 / title track), Super Stooges vs the Wonder Women (1975 / trailer), and Battle of the Amazons (1973 / trailer). Since we couldn't find a clip to Omicidio a luci blu, we've embedded the following clip for eye candy: it features a variety of Florence Guérin's nude scenes from a variety of unknown movies – who knows, maybe from Omicidio a luci blu as well.
NSFW clip of nude scenes:


Jonathan degli orsi
(1995, dir. Enzo G. Castellari)
Aka Jonathon of the Bears. Hess, found on the poster but not in the trailer, appears as "Maddock" in this film shot in Russia (with an Italian, US American and Russian cast). Spaghetti Western Database says the film is "an unbelievable drag". The plot, also according to the SWDB: "Jonathan Kowalski (Franco Nero) saw the murder of his parents as a child, but was able to flee into a bear cave, where he was ultimately found by local resident Indians. The Indians adopt the boy and treat him like one of their own, but Kowalski is determined to track down the murderers of his parents. The arrival of money hungry oil baron Goodwin (John Saxon), who wishes to exploit the sacred land of the Indians, interferes with Kowalski's quest."
Italian trailer:



Nutcracker

(2001, dir. Glen Grefe)
The plot: "It's another crazy Christmas and psychotherapist Dr. Carlton Fairfax Jr. is losing control of his patients and his sanity; especially when he encounters one particularly mysterious patient who sees to it that the good Doctor continues down the road to insanity." The "mysterious" patient is played by David Hess, who made the cover photo of at least one poster.
Trailer:



Zombie Nation
(2004, dir. Ulli Lommel)
How low can you go? Hess appears in a small part as "Aaron Singer III" in a film about which Absolute Horror says: "Ulli Lommel makes a zombie film this time around, and manages to do more damage to the genre than anyone before him." And that is about the nicest comment to be found on the web regarding this film. Lommel has sunk a long way since he made The Bogeyman (1980 / trailer), which is arguably his only passable movie. Plot: "A psycho cop with a weakness for killing his female arrests gets what's coming to him when a pack of zombie women rise from their graves in order to get proper revenge."
Trailer:



Zodiac Killer
(2005, dir. Ulli Lommel)
One assumes that Hess and Lommel got along, for after taking part in Lommel's filmic fuck-up Zombie Nation, Hess also appeared (as "Mel Navokov") in Lommel's next direct-to-video cinematic abortion, Zodiac Killer. Obviously too lazy to create – or perhaps simply incapable of creating – a new film, Lommel even cannibalizes footage from his a variety of his earlier films for this non-film about a young guy working at a nursing home who kills using the Zodiac Killer's m.o. Over at Obscure Horror, they say the obvious: "This is a really bad film by a really bad director. [...] It's nonsensical [and] all over the place... Don't waste your time. Ulli Lommel definitely ranks with Uwe Boll [...] as one of the worst [directors] of all time." We here at A Wasted Life are still unsure whether Lommel is seriously delusional and actually considers his product as films or whether he actually considers himself as some sort of conceptual artist playing an obscure intellectual joke on the film-going public, but either/or, his "films" (including this one) remain unpalatable.
Trailer:



Fallen Angels
(2006, dir. Jeff Thomas)
Aka Seven Deadly Demons. David Hess appears as "Kajal" in Jeff Thomas second film, a direct-to-DVD horror film which, according to Jeff Thomas himself, tells the following tale: "When a turn of the century prison reformatory is slated for demolition, a grisly discovery is made. Hidden deep underground beneath the west cell block is a sub-basement structure that has not been entered in 100 years. Inside are the skeletal remains of several brutally slain children. As a CSI team arrives at the prison, an even more disturbing discovery is made that will eventually unveil a legion of seven demons and their even more chilling origins: each demon is responsible for one of the seven deadly sins. Seven deadly sins...Seven deadly demons...Seven more deadly ways to die..." Cult-heavy cast includes names such as Ruth Buzzi, Christopher "Peter Brady" Knight, Kane Hodder, Michael Berryman, Michael Dorn, Bill Moseley, Kevin McCarthy and more.
Trailer:



The Absence of Light
(2006, dir. Patrick Desmond)
Another direct-to-DVD directorial debut with a cult-heavy cast, this time around including (aside from David Hess as "Whiplash"): Tom Savini, Caroline Munro, Michael Berryman and Tony Todd. Plot: In the near-future, two warring corporations vie for control of North American politics. One corporation, 'Plague', run by the sinister ex-government operative Whiplash, consolidates its power by creating chaos and discord. The other, 'Section 8', is run by someone called the Higher Power. Two burnt-out agents of Section 8, the professional Puritan and the newcomer Sultan, are sent by the Higher Power to protect a corrupt U.S. Senator named Criswell seeking re-election, leading Puritan and Sultan on various missions across the USA; other employees of both Plague and Section 8 also have adventures of their own in this episodic story featuring everything and but kitchen sink.
Trailer:



Used
(2007, dir. Rob Nilsson)
Image above taken from the blog A Filmmaker's Life. David Hess goes art film and plays "Aldo Modisco" in this film by independent director Nilsson. Plot, according to Anonymous at imdb: "Certain he's been betrayed, Malafide leaves his lover and hops freights to Reno to find a Cherokee healer he met in prison named People T. Joined by a black homeless man named Johnny, they set out into the desolate beauty of the Nevada desert." One of the 9 films of Nilsson's series 9@Night films.
Trailer:



Go Together
(2007, dir. Rob Nilsson)
Hess returns as Aldo Modisco in another film of Nilsson's 9@Night films. Plot: "The culmination of the series takes self-referential and expressionistic curves, as a couple (Denny Dey and Michelle Anton Allen) struggle with the survival of both their marriage and the failing Oakland art cinema they own… ironically showing the 9@Night movies. Homeless gather in the alleys, and the theater itself wants to speak to them."


Smash Cut
(2009, dir. Lee Demarbre)
Another intentional cult film by the intentional cult-film maker Demarbre, who also made the less professional cult film Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001 / trailer). Hess stars as film director Able Whitman, who will do anything to complete his latest film. Smash Cut also features the eternally hot Sasha Grey – but not enough of her, going by what Dr Gore has to say in his review of the film found here.
Trailer:



Aside from his movie roles, he also appeared on a variety of TV series, including Baretta, Manimal (ranked 15 on TV Guide's list of the "50 Worst TV Shows of All Time" list in 2002), Knight Rider and The A-Team. At the time of his death, David Hess was involved in four film projects in various states of production: The Beautiful Outsiders, Manson Rising, The House on the Edge of the Park Part II and The House That Wept Blood.

R.I.P.: Charles Napier

Charles Napier
12 April 1936 – 5 October 2011


Square-jawed cult and character actor Charles Napier died Wednesday, October 5th, 2011, in Bakersfield, Calif. He was 75 years old.
Born in Mt. Union, Kentucky, a blink-twice-and-you-miss-it community close to Scottsville, high-school basketball star Napier joined the US Army in 1954 after graduation before eventually receiving a major in PE and a minor in art at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green in 1961. He worked at his old school as an assistant coach and as an art teacher in Clearwater, Florida, before getting bit by the acting bug while doing graduate school in Kentucky. In 1965, after a number of years doing community and little theater in the Clearwater area, he packed his bags and ended up in San Diego by way of NYC. It wasn't long before he was in Hollywood, parking cars and doing other odd jobs as he tried to break into the movies and/or TV. Despite appearances on TV and a variety of films ranging from now-forgotten schlock to cult faves, his career did not take off. After making the trucker film Moonfire, he took a break from acting for two years, travelling the country writing and taking photos for the trucker magazine Overdrive Magazine, an interlude that ended with the truck strikes of 1973. Soon after, he found himself back in La La Land living out of his car in a parking lot. It is at this point that one of those continually told Hollywood stories – you know, like Lana Turner at Schwab's Drugstore – comes into play: one day while in his car, a limo pulled up and the driver told him that Alfred Hitchcock would like to see him. A trip to Universal Studios later, he was under contract and soon had a viable career, mostly as a character actor on television and in the movies – though he never did work for Hitchcock.
Over the course of a film career that spanned 44 years, Napier "became one of the most recognizable actors movie and TV audiences never heard of" and appeared in credited (and uncredited) roles of varying importance in over a hundred films and possibly as many TV shows. His specialty was bad guys and military or police types, though he could on occasion be seen playing something totally against his normal type, like his brief appearance as a hairdresser in Jonathan Demme's Married to the Mob (1988 / trailer). (Napier appeared in every film Demme made after 1977, if only in a tiny part.)
Many of the films Napier took part in were of the schlock and lowbrow-culture type that we here at A Wasted Life do so love. And it is for his appearances in many of these films as well as some of Russ Meyer's best color productions we feel compelled to honor him and his lengthy career. Indeed, it was his excellent performance as the psycho cop in Supervixens that engraved his face permanently in our memory, a face that was always happily seen again in any film, many of which he was the best thing involved.

What follows is a review of some of his films of note or lesser note; many we have never seen, many we have not. The decision to include a given film was made – when not arbitrarily – due to his name appearing on the poster, he is to be seen in the trailer, or we simply like the film or the poster.

Charles Napier, a talented and much-liked character actor – he will be sorely missed.


The House Near the Prado
(1969, writer & director Jean Van Hearn)
Aka Diary of a Madam. Charles Napier makes his debut in this early softcore exploiter costarring the pulchritude of 60s softcore queen Marsha Jordan. (Seen here to the left in her prime, she was the granddaughter of a minister and grew up in a Catholic convent. Her most above-ground role was probably as one of Robert Quarry's brides in the cult classic Count Yorga, Vampire [1970 / trailer].) According to the American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures, the plot of The House Near the Prado is: "Frank Doyle a salesman from a Los Angeles electronics company arrives in a large South American city to discuss a million dollar contract. A revolution is in progress and Doyle must contact the city's police chief, Juan Valdez, and, if possible, collect the money due his firm. Valdez arranges to meet Doyle at 'The House Near the Prado', a luxurious bordello where Doyle enjoys himself until Valdez arrives. Several assassins invade the heavily guarded whorehouse and, during an exotic Arabian dance, attempt to kill Valdez. Angered, Valdez has all the women tied up and whipped until one of them confesses her part n the conspiracy and is put to death. Valdez is killed in an exchange of gunfire, and Doyle suddenly finds himself faced with execution by one of the scantily clad women.


Star Trek – The Way to Eden
(1969, dir. David Alexander)
Charles Napier as Adam in one of the most hilariously corny and badly aged of all the original Star Trek episodes. Plot: Captain Kirk versus the Space Hippies! The nineteenth episode of the third season, it was broadcast February 21, 1969. Look at his hair! His dialog matches it.
Ten minutes of the episode:



The Hanging of Jake Ellis
(1968, writer & director Jean Van Hearn)
Aka The Calico Queen and Sex Cats of the West. Napier does another exploiter with forgotten auteur Van Hearn, who may possibly have written a sleaze novel or two in his day (see the image of a Brandon House novel found on the web). It costars the late Bambi Allen, seen here below left, best remembered from Al Adamson's Satan's Sadists (1969 / trailer). The grapevine says that she died from health complications resulting from silicon injections to increase her breast size. Dan Pavlides at Answers.com gives the plot of The Hanging of Jake Ellis as thus: "Jake Ellis (Napier) is a cowboy who arrives in a two-fisted cattle town looking for work. Frank Hall (Jim Lemp) and his gang frame Jake for a crime he didn't commit. Dance-hall girls and cowgirls [...] are shown in various stages of undress in this western featuring nudity." Napier once recalled, "It was a bad western that nobody saw." Another female costar, Deborah Downey, here above right, had also costarred with Napier on Star Trek as a space hippy; she even sings a duet with Spock. She also appeared in Van Hearn's last known film We, A Family (1971). This film seems to be a lost film, as no visual trace of it can be found anywhere on the web... thus, we include it here primarily as excuse to show a nice poster with boobage.


Cherry, Harry & Raquel!
(1970, dir. Russ Meyer)
"I don't like women messing around with women. It's un-American."
Harry (Charles Napier)

This is the first appearance of Charles Napier in a Russ Meyer film – one his less successful ones, though it is enjoyable in a disjointed way. Napier plays Harry, a corrupt sheriff smuggling drugs out to get an Apache who has gone into the business for himself. Harry is shacked up with Cherry (Linda Ashton), a nurse, and bonks Raquel (Larissa Ely), a hooker writer. They guys all die violently and the gals smoke pot and get it on.... in between Uschi Digard romps around the desert naked. There are three stories to why she does so: Russ Meyer supposedly needed to fill the running time after 1) one of the lead actresses quit the film early, 2) a photo lab fuckup resulted in the loss of much of the original footage, or 3) it was an intentional artistic decision on Meyer's part. (Meyer always claimed the last after he gained critical respectability.) Napier once said that the scene of him wearing nothing but a cowboy hat and boots as he romps across the desert with Ely was the most embarrassing thing he ever had to film.


Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
(1970, dir. Russ Meyer)
"This is my happening and it freaks me out!"Z-Man (John LaZar)
Co-written by Roger Ebert and Meyer, it is one of the best films ever made – a campy cult classic featuring the hot bods and exceptional talents of Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers (R.I.P.), Marcia McBroom, Edy Williams, and Erica Gavin back when they were all prime tens-plus-ten. Originally planned as a sequel, due to legal difficulties it was claimed to not be a sequel (despite its name) when released. Charles Napier appears as nice guy Baxter Wolfe. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is frequently touted as Pam Grier's film debut – she has on-screen credit and a photo of her in a party scene appeared in a 1970 Playboy – she is nowhere to be seen at any time during the film. This film is definite "must see" for any fan of fun campy films and boobs – though there could've been more of the latter.

"You will drink the black sperm of my vengeance."Z-Man (John LaZar)
Trailer:



Love and Kisses
(1971, written and directed by Don Dorsey)
"CHERI... she's an expert in the most exciting sport of all!" The sport, going by an old article in the Jan 22, 1971 issue of The Banger Evening News, is skiing. Love and Kisses is supposedly the 1093rd most popular film of the 3140 titles released in 1971, but no one seems to remember it. Director Dorsey was a drive-in owner from Maine, the film is his only credit. This forgotten sexploiter, according to movieposter.com, was the first non-Meyer film to be distributed by Meyer's Eve Productions. The film stars Charles Napier, Kathy Knight (billed as "introducing Kathy Knight"), Ruth Alda (best known for playing Joan Crawford's personal secretary in the camp classic Mommy Dearest [1981 / trailer]), and Paul Norman. Paul Norman went on to become a productive porn director of such porn faves like 1991's Edward Penishands 1 (full NSFW film) and 2.


The Seven Minutes
(1971, dir. Russ Meyer)
Napier is there ever so briefly as Officer Iverson in the second of Meyer's only two Hollywood films; it was also one of his least successful ones, but it's still a great flick – it's aged well into prime camp. The plot, according to Mark Deming at Rotten Tomatoes: "[A] surprisingly straightforward drama [... with] little of Meyer's traditional tongue-in-cheek humor or remarkably proportioned women in favor of a serious message about the evils of censorship. A bookstore sells a copy of a notorious erotic novel, entitled The Seven Minutes, to a teenager who is later arrested for rape. A prosecutor on a crusade against pornography seizes upon this as an opportunity to have the book declared obscene, and the trial sparks a heated debate about the issue of pornography vs. free speech, as well as revealing a startling revelation about the novel's true author. Adapted from a novel by Irving Wallace, The Seven Minutes features one of Meyer's more interesting casts, including veteran character actors John Carradine and Alexander D'Arcy, a post-Munsters Yvonne de Carlo, a pre-Magnum P.I. Tom Selleck, lounge comic Jackie Gayle, and Wolfman Jack as himself."
The Seven Minutes in 10:



Moonfire
(1973, written and directed by Michael Parkhurst)
The film that inspired Napier to take a break from acting for two years and travel the country writing and taking photos for the trucker magazine Overdrive Magazine. Napier has a co-starring role as Robert W. Morgan. DVD blurb says: "Truckdriver Charles Napier gets driven into a sinister crime operation working along the Mexican border. And to make things even more interesting, the operation is run by an ex-Nazi! You'll have to hold onto your seat in this pedal-to-the-metal tale filled with cool action and cool trucks!" Director Michael Parkhurst says: "Charles Napier, in his first PG film, actually learned to drive a tractor trailer for his role. Sorry, folks, no gratuitous violence or sex scenes except a little teaser in the beginning, and no cursing." The full film can be watched for free here at YouTube.
A funny (NOT!) scene from Moonfire:



Supervixens
(1975, dir. Russ Meyer)
Perhaps Meyer's last truly entertaining and successful films, starring the memorable Shari Eubank in the dual roles of SuperAngel and SuperVixen, Charlie Pitts as the put-upon Clint Ramsey and Napier as the psychopathic cop Harry Sledge. This was the first film we at A Wasted Life ever saw with Napier, and we never forgot his face. Other faces (and breasts) of note are supplied by the Haji, Colleen Brennan (as Sharon Kelly) and Uschi Digard. Plot: Clint Ramsey has to leave his job at Martin Bormann's gas station and go on the run after psycho cop Harry Sledge murders his wife. Throughout his travels Clint gets raped and harassed by hot wanton women before meeting his dream woman. But then Harry shows up, intent on killing Clint and his new squeeze.... Thank God for Polish dynamite.



Handle with Care
(1977, dir. Jonathan Demme)
Napier as Chrome Angel, a bigamist truck driver... the first film he made with Demme, for whom he became a favorite character actor; Napier subsequently appeared in all of Demme's feature films to date, if only in a miniscule role. Dave Kehr of the Chicago Reader says: "The film's original title, Citizen's Band, evokes its origins as an exploitation film designed to cash in on the short-lived CB craze, but [...] the picture was too good for its own good: audiences weren't expecting humor of this degree of piquancy and charm, and it was a failure. The action takes place in a tiny southwestern town, where the residents—among them Paul Le Mat, Candy Clark, Roberts Blossom, and Marcia Rodd—use their adopted radio personas as a means of escape from the dingy identities life has imposed on them."
Scene from Citizen's Band:



Thunder and Lightning
(1977, dir. Corey Allen)
A rare feature film from TV director Corey Allen, who six years previously (1971) directed the disappointing film Erotic Adventures of Pinocchio (trailer), with its great tagline "It's not his nose that grows." T&L – which was scripted by William Hjortsberg, the man who wrote the novel Falling Angel, the book that inspired the great Alan Parker film Angel Heart (1987 / trailer) – stars the then TV-personalities David Carradine (Kung Fu) and Kate Jackson (Charlie's Angels) and is a labored comedy about hicks and poisoned moonshine. Napier has a lead role as the bearded Jim Bob.
Trailer:



Big Bob Johnson and His Fantastic Speed Circus
(1978, dir. Jack Starrett)
Napier as Big Bob Johnson in a TV movie aimed at the Smokey and the Bandit (1977 / trailer) crowd, directed by the director of Cleopatra Jones (1973 / trailer) and Slaughter (1972 / trailer). Big Bob Johnson is the fearless leader of the "Fantastic Speed Circus", a group of misfits going from fairgrounds to race track to perform death defying stunts. The Bob main stunt – an attempt to jump a Trans Am onto the back of a flatbed trailer – always fails, but he never stops trying. A man offers him a large sum of money (needed to save his failing circus) to participate in an all out race between two souped-up Rolls Royces... the climax of the movie is Bob's attempt at jumping the Rolls Royce onto the moving flatbed to finish the race.


Last Embrace
(1979, dir. Jonathan Demme)
Demme's first film after Handle with Care is imitation Hitchcock, and Napier is there in a larger than normal part for a Demme film as "Dave Quittle", the brother of the dead wife. Napier even makes it in small print onto the poster! What's it about? According to Filmfantic.org, which says "This is a fun thriller, but not essential viewing", the plot is as follows: "While recovering from his wife's accidental death, CIA agent Harry Hannan (Roy Scheider) believes someone is out to eliminate him. He receives mysterious notes in Aramaic, is trailed by his brother-in-law (Charles Napier), and befriends a mousy young woman (Janet Margolin) whose grandmother worked in a Jewish brothel run by Hannan's ancestors." Remembered by many as the film featuring a scene with eternally tanned Roy wearing nothing but black bikini briefs.
Music from Last Embrace:



Wacko
(1982, dir. Greydon Clark)


"Death to all teenagers who fuck."
The Lawnmower Killer

Napier has a cameo as "Chief O'Hara" in this unjustly forgotten so-unfunny-that-it's-funny horror spoof starring a still hot (despite her hair) Stella Stevens and the eternally slumming George Kennedy; directed by the man who, after an acting in film such as Satan's Sadists (1969 / trailer) and Dracula vs Frankenstein (1970), went on to direct such infamous non-masterpieces like Black Shampoo (1976 / trailer) and Satan's Cheerleaders (1977 / trailer). This film, which basically takes a swipe at horror movies past and then-present, comes across as a template for the Scary Movie franchise.
Trailer:



The Cartier Affair
(1984, dir. Rod Holcomb)
A TV movie and "star" vehicle for Joan Collins and David Hasselhoff! Plot: Joan Collins as Cartier Rand, an American TV star, with Napier as her unsatisfying long-time lover Morgan. Rand needs a new assistant after her old one trashes her house; in comes young, gay Curt Taylor (David Hasselhoff). Actually, he's an ex-jailbird who owes prison top-dog Drexler (Telly Savalas) money, and he's been installed in Rand's house to steal her jewelry. But he turns out to be less gay than he initially seems... Someone at Amazon says: "This movie tries to be a blend of comedy, thriller and erotic drama. It doesn't really work out." Who cares if this film is any good; with a cast like this, it has to be included on this list!


Rambo: First Blood Part II
(1985, dir. George P. Cosmatos)
OK, we here at A Wasted Life think this film sucks poodle weenie, but Napier does have a sizable role as a two-faced America intelligence officer more concerned about his reputation than for saving US POWs – and he even makes it onto the poster. So here's the trailer – complete with a two-second scene with Napier. Director Cosmatos, a trash filmmaker at heart, made The Cassandra Crossing (1976 / trailer) – a prime example of bad big budget trash – and then went on to do the much more entertaining sci-fi horror Leviathan (1989 / trailer) and the surprisingly good western Tombstone (1993 / trailer).
Trailer:



Something Wild
(1986, dir. Jonathon Demme)
Napier has a very tiny part in this film, but it is a good film (despite being a pure product of the 80s) and you see him for two seconds in the trailer (as the "Irate Chef"), so it earns it place on this list. Made at a time when Melanie Griffith – who followed this film up with the ever-entertaining trash classic Cherry 2000 (1987 / trailer) – still looked like a real human being and Ray Liotta was fit and hot.
Trailer:



Camping del terrore
(1987, dir. Ruggero Deodato)
Aka Body Count. Charles Napier appears as Charlie, the Sheriff in a Deodato film starring cult faves David Hess (R.I.P.), Ivan Rassimov and Mimsy Farmer. The back of the video description: "A fun-loving gang of college kids explore the Colorado wilderness during their long summer vacation. But at a campsite managed by the mysterious Robert (Hess) and his wife, Julia (Mimsy), they hear the old legend of the Shaman, half-man, half-beast. When strange noises in the night suddenly become terrifying reality, the campers realize that the legend is true. This horrifying tale of murder and mayhem twists and turns as fast as the bodies drop and the thrilling climax is guaranteed to make even the toughest squirm!"
Trailer:



Kidnapped
(1987, written & directed by Howard Avedis)
Napier once again appears briefly as a man in uniform: Lt. O'Bryan. Ed Sutton at imdb says: "Sisters Bonnie (Barbara Crampton) and Debbie (Kim Evenson) visit San Diego on Debbie's sixteenth birthday. After telling a sleazy pickup artist to take a hike, he follows them to the zoo and has Debbie kidnapped on behalf of his sleazy boss in order to shoot her full of dope and make her perform in porno films. Despite admonitions from the abductors, Bonnie teams up with detective Vince McCarthy (David Naughton), and together they try to infiltrate the porno industry in order to rescue Debbie." This is the final film of the great unsung exploitation director Avedis, who unleashed numerous under-appreciated trashpectacles onto the world, including Mortuary (1983 / trailer), The Fifth Floor (1978 / trailer), Scorchy (1976 / trailer), the Edy Williams vehicle Dr. Minx (1975 / trailer) and The Teacher (1974 / trailer).
Trailer:



The Night Stalker
(1987, dir. Max Kleven)
Napier has the lead role as Sgt. J.J. Striker in the The Night Stalker, an extremely timely project "based" on the Richard Ramirez – "the Night Stalker" – murders in Los Angeles that occurred in the summer of 1985. Robert Z'Dar plays the serial killer. The film is a rare directorial job by stuntman and actor Max Kleven, who once appeared in an unknown film entitled Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966).
Trailer:



Deep Space
(1988, dir. Fred Olen Ray)
Napier stars in a Fred Olen Ray film! Sounds great! The plot, according to Tom Zoerner at imdb: "An American satellite with a new biological weapon gets out of control and crashes onto US territory. A slimy monster emerges and manages to escape, killing everyone who crosses his path. Police Lieutenant McLemore (Napier) gets the job to stop the killing machine." The film also features Julie "Catwoman" Newmar as a psychic.
Trailer:



One Man Force
(1989, dir. Dale Trevillion)
Comeuppance Reviews opinions: "One of the best types of films are the 'cop on the edge' ones. You know the ones I'm talking about: The cop gets thrown off the case by his chief and he goes renegade to bring a criminal to justice. [...] One Man Force is one of the best. Every line is a cliché like, 'Get off my back chief!' John Matuszak plays Jake Swan, a no-nonsense cop who doesn't play by the rules, but when his partner is killed, he becomes a One Man Force to stop the bad guys. Matuszak puts in a fun performance as Jake. [...] If you can find a copy, it's definitely one for your collection." Matuszak died just before the film was released.
Trailer:



Alien from the Deep
(1989, dir. Antonio Margheriti)
Napier has a sizable role as the main heavy Col. Kovaks in this oddly popular piece of Italo-trash. A Wasted Life wasn't so amazed by the film, though, as is obvious by our review of the film found here.
German trailer:



Hit List
(1989, dir. William Lustig)
What a cast! Jan-Michael Vincent! Rip Torn! Lance Henrikson! Leo Possi! And Napier, seen briefly in the trailer, as "Tom Mitchum". Comeuppance Reviews asks: "Why is this movie so under-appreciated and unrecognized? If you said to someone 'Oh, I watched Hit List last night', more than likely, they would say, 'Huh'? That's unfortunate, as a movie with the star quality this movie has, directed by William Lustig, SHOULD be a well-known 'video store classic' as we say." Plot: A gangster boss (Torn) must face his day in court, but he has a police snitch tell him names and locations of the witnesses so he kills them all – all but one. During the last hit, the hitman (Henrikson) goes to the wrong house. When Mark Collins (Vincent) comes home, his pregnant wife is unconscious in the kitchen, his friend dead in the living room, and his son kidnapped. To ensure that Luca believes he has the real witness's son, the prosecutors send Collins to prison. But he escapes to take things into his own hands...
Trailer:



Maniac Cop 2
(1990, dir. William Lustig)
Napier does a second film with Lustig, the fun sequel to his classic trashploitation Maniac Cop (1988 / trailer). For the life of us, we can't remember the part he plays – "Lew Brady" – but the film is so good, it deserves mention here. Undead cop Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar) returns and teams up with a Times Square killer to, well, kill everyone he can. Great stuff!
Trailer:



Miami Blues
(1990, dir. George Armitage)
Napier has a small part in this truly hilarious cop film as Sgt. Bill Henderson – he's even seen briefly in the trailer. One of the great unseen movies around, with an excellent Fred Ward, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alex Baldwin. Based on a novel by Charles Willeford. If we had a star system of rating here at A Wasted Life, this flick would get 5 out of 5. So why the fuck hasn't you seen it yet?
Trailer:



Cop Target
(1990, dir. Umberto Lenzi)
Napier (playing "John Granger") gets his name shown and fires a machine gun in the trailer below to the probably justly unknown cop flick starring Robert Ginty that Italo-trash master Lenzi, in his twilight years, sandwiched between making the horror films Nightmare Beach (1989 / trailer) and Black Demons / Demons III (1991 / trailer). This film about a typical cop-on-the-edge given a babysitting job that of course goes wrong and thus gives him reason to go rogue seems most famous for the cop's cat-feeding machine.
Trailer:



The Last Match
(1990, dir. Fabrizio De Angelis)
Napier makes on the poster in this unbelievable piece of Italo trash. And when it comes to Italo-trash, there are few directors as trashy as producer and occasional director Fabrizio De Angelis, who has directed written or produced numerous crapsterpieces – to list a few: Killer Crocodile (1989 / trailer), Zombie Holocaust (1980 / trailer), The Beyond (1981 / trailer), The New York Ripper (1982 / trailer), Rat Man (1988 / trailer) and Paganini Horror (1989 / trailer). This non-horror entry of De Angelis's directorial oeuvre is one of the most surreal – there's really nothing like watching a US football team go Rambo. And that is exactly what this team does – in their playing uniform – when they rescue their coach's daughter from a Caribbean prison. Napier must surely have been proud of this film....
What a shootout!



Soldier's Fortune
(1991, dir. Arthur N. Mele)
Image from Movie Poster Shop. Napier makes as a headlining star for appearing mere minutes at the end of Arthur N. Mele's only known directorial credit. A movie that inspires as much déjà vu by its plot – rich girl gets kidnapped; mommy hires ex-mercenary to gather team and rescue her – as it does inspire boredom in its execution. As The Unknown Movies Page puts it simply: "[...] There are movies like Soldier's Fortune – movies that don't show any sign that anyone involved in the project is trying, and any smidgen of merit found in the movie is just there by accident."
Trailer:



Indio 2 – La rivolta
(1991, dir. Antonio Margheriti)
Napier appears again as yet another bad guy in yet in another ecologically-minded exploiter by Margheriti, only this time there is no monster from space – instead, there's Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
Trailer:



The Silence of the Lambs
(1991, dir Jonathon Demme)
Napier appears all of three minutes in this modern classic, and in all truth his acting is surprisingly stale (one can literally see him working in his head: "OK, now I'm supposed to notice I have to put the tray down; OK, now I look up surprised"), but his character – Lt. Bill Boyle – does become one of the iconic images of the movie, namely the gutted guard hanging from Dr. Lector's cage, so the film simply had to be included on this list.
Trailer:



Homicidal Impulse
(1991, written & directed by David Tausik)
Aka Killer Instinct. Oddly enough, for Italian releases of his films, Napier often gets a headlining credit even when the English-language release ignores him. This is also the case in this Roger Corman produced erotic thriller about an assistant DA who gets a new assistant who decides to help his career...
Trailer:

Trailer provided by Video Detective


Eyes of the Beholder
(1992, dir. Lawrence L. Simeone)
Napier appears as Det. Wilson in this umpteenth rehash of The Desperate Hours (1955 / trailer), which also features the presence of George Lazenby. Nut-case serial killer Janice Bickle (Lenny Von Dohlen) undergoes an experimental operation to cure him of his killer urge, but he ends up more fucked up than before. He escapes and beelines for the responsible doctor.... body-count time.
Trailer:

Trailer provided by Video Detective


Mean Tricks
(1992, dir. Umberto Lenzi)
Aka: Hornsby e Rodriguez – sfida criminale. Charles Napier finally gets the lead role as Hornsby in an Italo crime film in this, (possibly) Umberto Lenzi's last film. Monster Hunter says: "From the absurdly spectacular slow-motion shootout on the docks that opens the film all the way until star Charles Napier (Hornsby) banters with his local partner Rodriguez and their sexy sidekick about Rodriguez marrying her despite him having heard Hornsby screw her while she was wearing a wire earlier in the movie, Umberto Lenzi's Mean Tricks is an appallingly proficient bad-ass cop movie that not only delivers every cliché you freaking demand from such films (Rodriguez's gruff captain is nicknamed Iron Balls!), but in the best Italian movie tradition invents its own along the way!" Too bad we couldn't find any video documentation online.


Return to Frogtown
(1992, dir. Donald G. Jackson)
The world lost a truly unique talent when director Donald G. Jackson died of leukemia on 20 October 2003. This flick is the second film to follow the cult fave Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988 / trailer); it was followed by Toad Warrior (1996) and Max Hell Frog Warrior (2002) – all directed by Jackson. In the post-apocalyptic, it's mutant frogs verses mankind. Another film Napier can be proud of...
Trailer:



Skeeter
(1993, dir. Clark Brandon)
One of three films directed by Clark Brandon, a former Teen Beat pinup boy and former actor (and, seeing that he hasn't directed a film since 1997, former director). Napier gets star billing on the cover of this straight-to-video horror film; he plays the bad guy, Ernie Buckle. We here at A Wasted Life saw this film once, somewhere, but damned if we remember anything about it – or could it be we're confusing this film with Bug Buster (1998 / trailer), a lousy film in which Star Trek's James Doohan plays Napier's traitorous sheriff role. Like that film, Skeeter is not a masterpiece, but hell, we're sure that everyone involved figured that a day's work sure beats unemployment.
Trailer:

Trailer provided by Video Detective


Body Bags
(1993, dir. John Carpenter and the genre director everyone loves to hate, Tobe Hooper)
This film is an excellent one to play "spot the face", as it is heavily populated with cult names, but in the end it is also entirely forgettable: we actually caught this on video years ago – anyone out there remember video cassettes? – but we can't remember anything about it. Final Girl says she likes the film, but then she also says "[...] I never met a horror anthology I didn't like. Plus, it's got Charles Napier, and I fucking love that guy – so much so that I need to swear about it." Body Bags was originally made as a pilot for a proposed anthology horror TV project, but it never made it past this threebee outing, which is generally available in a severely cut form (where did the blood go?). Napier, by the way, appears briefly as the baseball team manager in the segment "Eye", which stars Luke Skywalker and Twiggy.
Trailer:



Silk Degrees
(1994, dir. Armand Garabidian)
An unknown film by an unknown director that is supposedly AKA in a longer version with more T&A as Target Witness; Napier gets star billing on the poster before Luke Skywalker, but after Miss USA 1970. He's also seen briefly twice in the trailer. Plot: Miss USA is a witness who must be protected, Luke Skywalker and Lori Singer's bother are the cops who are assigned to do so. Chase scenes and shootouts and a remote cabin location are the result. And Luke learns the hard way never to trust hillbilly chicks with nice tits.
Trailer:

Trailer provided by Video Detective


Raw Justice
(1994, dir. David A. Prior)
Trailer:

Aka Good Cop Bad Cop and Strip Girl. The third film Napier made with Alabama-based director Prior. Cast includes the love pillows of Pamela Anderson, who plays a hooker and later described the experience of filming her "love scene" (seen below) as thus: "I was thrown around, I was scratched, I was bruised, I was bitten. I cried, I went home, I called my mother." Napier (seen twice in the trailer above) has a decently sized role as the Mayor that hires Mace (David Keith – the director of the super-trashy cult flick The Curse [1987 / trailer]) to find the killer of his daughter. To do so, along the way he kisses Pamela's ass... and what an ass it is.
The only reason most men watch the film (NSFW):




Hard Justice
(1995, dir. Greg Yaitanes)
An early film by TV director Yaitanes, with Napier playing yet another asshole – this time around, the corrupt warden of the prison where cop Nick Adams (David Bradley) goes undercover to find out who killed his best friend. Comeuppance Reviews says: "The plot is basically a rip-off of the Van Damme movie Death Warrant (1990 / trailer), but it makes up for that in the action sequences. The opening is fantastic, with almost non-stop action. The climax is also well-executed. But the middle, where Adams is in the prison does lag a little. Charles Napier is great as the evil warden."
French trailer:



Max Is Missing
(1995, dir. Mark Griffiths)
In between all the violent adult trash, Napier appears in this kiddy film directed by the director of Ultraviolet (1992 / trailer). A family film made for TV, now available on DVD. Napier's on the poster and in the trailer of a film A Wasted Life will probably never bother watching...
Trailer:



Alien Species
(1996, dir. Peter Maris)
Charles Napier as the headlining star of this film by Z-film director Peter Maris, a film that no one who has watched it seems to like. We here at A Wasted Life have never managed to get past the first ten minutes, so we reserve our opinion. Watch it yourself – the full film is embedded below. The plot, according to DJ Heinlein at imdb: "A fleet of UFOs is circling the Earth and a top scientist races to discover their true intentions for the planet. When the UFOs begin an attack on Earth, the scientist finds himself thrown in with a sheriff and his deputies transporting some prisoners to jail. The unlikely group is forced to seek shelter from the attack in a nearby cave, not knowing how significant the location is to the alien's plans."
Full film:



Limp Fangs
(1996, dir. Christopher Michael)
Afro-American character actor and background filler Christopher Michael made this comedy horror home video and somehow even managed to talk Napier into appearing in a dream sequence as a singing cowboy named Adam that sings the same song that the intergalactic hippy Adam sang 27 years earlier in Star Trek – The Way to Eden. Artificial fangs, artificial breasts and a malt-liquor loving vampire who drinks so much his fangs won't get hard add up total idiocy...
Trailer:



Riot
(1997, dir. Joseph Merhi)
From the man who brought you the killer transvestite-ghost movie, The Newlydeads (1987 / trailer). General opinion on the web seems to be that this is one of Gary Daniels better films – a statement of qualification that is about as convincing as, dunno, "one of Fox News's more intelligent political commentators". Plot: daughter of an English ambassador gets kidnapped, ex-boyfriend Daniels comes to save here. Napier is to be seen twice in the trailer below... or just go for the whole film, also below.
Trailer:


Full film:



Macon County Jail
(1997, dir. Victoria Muspratt)
Charles Napier is the redneck Sheriff of this Roger Corman produced remake of the 1976 Roger Corman production Jackson County Jail (trailer); the reference to the low budget exploitation classic of Macon County Line (1974 / trailer) probably added for commercial reasons. In this version of the depressing tale, David Carradine takes over Tommy Lee Jones's role and Ally Sheedy, Yvette Mimieux's. LA woman (Sheedy) on the way to a new life has some setbacks along the way and ends up in a redneck jail run by Napier, whose son rapes her; she kills him and ends up on the run with lifelong criminal Carradine. One assumes the depressing Hemingwayesque ending of the original is retained...
Trailer:



Fatal Pursuit
(1998, dir. Eric Louzil)
Napier appears somewhere in this z-level production by Eric Louzil, the director of Fortress of Amerikkka (1989), Class of Nuke 'Em High Part II (1991 / trailer) and Class of Nuke 'Em High Part III (1994 / trailer). The plot, according to the DVD back cover: "An ex-cop turned private eye (L.P. Brown) and his sidekick find more than they bargained for when they team up with a feisty British female investigator (Shannon Whirry). They must recover $8 million from a heist. The brutal mastermind of the robbery (Malcolm McDowell) and his gorgeous French cohort (Lydie Denier) will stop at nothing, including police bribery, torture, and murder, to protect the jewels. Romantic sparks fly as the two detectives are thrown into a thrilling adventure through the streets of New Orleans. The stakes are high as they face certain death." A film so bad, that it hardly merits including here... but damn, Shannon Whirry does have a nice pair on her.
Gratuitous nude shower scene (NSFW):



Armstrong
(1998, dir. Menahem Golan)
Napier on the poster but not in the trailer of this post-cold-war "thriller" – as in cheap, badly made trash. But then, he does die early in the film – thus denying the film of its best actor. DVD plot description: "The cold war just heated up. Someone in Russia is selling live nuclear warheads to terrorists all over the world, and only Rod Armstrong (Zagarino) can find the culprits. Taking over this top secret mission started by his recently murdered friend, Robert (Napier), Armstrong teams up with his widow, Susan (Kates), to find the killers and expose the black marketeers. From the crime-ridden streets of Moscow to the isolation of the nuclear weapons depot, the murder and mayhem are non-stop. Both Rod and Susan face gangsters and military might in their efforts to end the terrible, world-threatening trade. In the ultimate showdown, with the threat of a nuclear explosion counting down the final seconds, Rod and Susan lead the action to its hell-bent conclusion."
Trailer:



The Thief & the Stripper
(2000, dir. L.P. Brown III John Sjogren)
Aka Strip N Run, Final Reckoning and LA Nights – but no matter under what title, most people seem to find in a lousy flick. Napier (as "Face") is deemed important enough to be on the poster but doesn't get named in the trailer, though he does pop up in it – and he sure can growl a line well. Anonymous at imdb outlines the plot: "Jack just lost his P.I. license and his life is on a downward spiral. He decides to steal a cash briefcase from the local gangsters. He hides in a strip joint owned by a local mob legend Jimmie D and pays a stripper to help him escape. The gangsters find her and want her to lead 'em to him. She is also interested in the case, as are other local mobsters and dirty cops. "
Trailer:



Very Mean Men
(2000, dir. Tony Vitale)
Anyone ever hear of this film? What a cast! Trailer looks good – keep your eyes peeled and you'll even catch sight of Napier in it.
Trailer:



Never Look Back
(2000, dir. Mike Tristano & Frank Zagarino)
Aka Innocent Man. A film no one seems to have seen – there isn't even a poster or DVD image online anywhere. Napier is seen in the trailer twice. Anyone out there know anything about what looks to be a relatively stupid film?
Trailer:



Down 'n Dirty
(2001, dir. Fred Williamson)
Fred Williamson always reminds us of the Eveready Bunny: he just keeps on going and going and going... Plot, taken from Amazon.com: "Someone murdered his partner. Now, someone's got to pay. Dakota Smith (Fred Williamson) is a tough honest cop. Now, he's got to enter the world of corrupt politicians to find out who killed his partner. It's a dirty job, but he swore he'd get revenge. It's a bold and bloody battle that will take him from the corruption of the stationhouse to the highest offices of city hall. Get in on the action of this two-fisted story of killer lies and street justice." Napier appears in the film as Capt. Jerry Teller; on the poster above, oddly enough, the recently deceased Bubby Smith is pictured, not Williamson – but, for that, here's a photo of prime Williamson playing with a pussy for Playgirl magazine.
Trailer:



Forgive Me Father
(2001, dir. Ivan Rogers)
The plot, edited from an online source: "Virgil Garrett (Rogers) was once a ruthless and feared hit man for organized crime boss, Frank Ransom (Charles Napier), until he faked his own death to get out of the "business". Unbeknownst to almost everyone, Virgil Garrett has spent the past 12 years living and working in Canada as a priest. He learns that his brother Clarence (Alexander Hill) has been senselessly murdered by Frank Ransom's cocksure son Tony (Chris Elbert) and four of his criminal cohorts. Garrett now makes a transformation and returns to his old ways, but with a different purpose. He is now the personification of retribution with a Bible in his hand and a divine wrath in his heart..."

Trailer:



Dinocroc
(2004, dir. Kevin O'Neill)
From the director of Dinoshark (2010 / trailer). Plot as found on Amazon.com: "Imagine all the fury of a prehistoric carnivore combined with the ferocity of the largest crocodile known to man and you have the makings of nonstop terror. Run for your life as Gereco Corporation's experiment to manipulate a rapid-growth hormone gets out of control, and a ravenous monster gets out of its cage. Now the residents of the once-peaceful Grant's Lake have only the talents of a crude Australian reptile hunter, the short-handed local sheriff (Napier), his daughter the animal control expert, and her boyfriend, to save them from the insatiable jaws of a beastly feeding frenzy."
Trailer:

Trailer provided by Video Detective


The Kid & I
(2005, dir. Penelope Spheeris)
Who would have ever expected that the director of The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization (1981) and Suburbia (1984 / trailer) could ever sink as low as she has? What the hell – it probably beats flipping burgers. Normally we would never include a film like this on our blog, but hell: this probably the biggest name cast Napier ever worked with, though it is doubtful he met many of them. Biggest disappointment of the film: Shannon Elizabeth keeps her clothes on. Biggest plus of the film? It isn't The Little Rascals (1994 / trailer).
Trailer:



Suits on the Loose
(2005, dir. Rodney Henson)
Hah hah hah. Mormons sure are funny. Hah hah hah. Napier, seen in the trailer and in the mall print on the poster, as General Wilkins. Mormons. Hah hah hah.
Trailer:



One-Eyed Monster
(2008, dir. Adam Fields)
Fake poster above (with Napier!) from Dread Central. According to Dr. Gore, "Charles Napier actually shows up [in this film] for no reason so he can give a monologue about the penis monster he met back in 'Nam." Amazon says: "In a comic homage to Alien and The Thing, the cast and crew of an adult film, stranded in a blizzard, must band together against a mysterious and deadly alien, which has possessed the actor with the biggest part, Ron Jeremy (naturally). Now, with the monster on a killing spree, the race is on to trap and destroy it before there are more victims of its peculiar skills." Anyone who gets the film based on that description alone is in for a surprise, that's for sure... the film currently sits in our "future watches" pile.
Trailer:



The River Bridge
(2008, dir James Hunter)
A low-budget independent crime film, and the trailer below already reveals that Napier is probably the best actor in the whole thing. DVD blurb: "Jack Kellerman is a small town boozing, womanizing private eye who gets caught in a massive political conspiracy involving the governor's daughter. After much soul searching, Jack realizes he must change, but it could be too late..."
Trailer:



bgFATLdy
(2008, dir. Adam Pertofsky)
Aka Black Crescent Moon and Small Town Murder. Napier is on the DVD cover and in the trailer of this unknown independent murder-in-a-small-town-full-of-quirky-characters film. No one who has seen this flick and put an opinion online seems to have liked the movie. Pop Matters says: "Black Crescent Moon wants to be a Coen Brothers movie. More specifically, it wants to be Fargo (1996 / trailer) or No Country for Old Men (2007 / trailer). It's none of these things. Not even close."
Trailer:



Your Name Here
(2008, dir. Matthew Wilder)
Arrow in the Head's bottom line on the film says: "Weird for weird's sakes, Your Name Here was a dull, dull and dull film [....]. Maybe it could've worked as a short but as a feature, even 10 hits of acid couldn't bring this glorified student film back to life. Granted it had a couple of cool moments acting and visual wise but not near enough to make it worth the trip." Film Threat loves it. Napier, as "Chuck", is named nowhere but is seen for a split second in the trailer. Oh, yeah: the film is sorta about a science fiction author and reality and all that Philip K. Dick stuff.
Trailer:



Life Blood
(2009, dir. Ron Carlson)
A direct-to-video movie from the director of Gray Coleman's last film, Midgets Vs. Mascots (2009 / trailer). Final Girl, who supposedly likes them lesbian vampire films just as much as any of us, says about the film: "It just... none of [the film] made sense. Maybe...maybe...MAYBE there's an interesting kernel of plot or premise in there somewhere, [....] but for fuck's sake if that kernel was, in fact, present, then it was completely wasted." The plot, from Amazon: "Forty years ago a supernatural force vanquished Brooke and Rhea, a sexy lipstick lesbian couple, after they committed an inconceivable murder. Now, on New Year's Eve, they'll rise from the dead. Still hot and still a couple, they're back as vampires. Enamored with their newfound power, it's no longer a question of whether they will kill again, but of how." Napier, as Sherriff Tillman, can be seen in the trailer.
Trailer:



The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
(2009, dir Neal Brennan)
This film came and went, but the trailer looks sorta fun – and shows a lot of Napier towards the end. (Napier plays car salesman Dick Lewiston, "who swears at customers and goes after them with a baseball bat", in this comedy about hard selling used cars.) Plot from the DVD cover: "Smooth-talking salesman Don Ready (Jeremy Piven) and his crazy crew of closers have just one weekend to move over 200 cars and prove that when it comes to conning, conniving and ..."
Trailer:



Shadowheart
(2009, dir. Dean Alioto)
Fittingly, perhaps, in his last film appearance, Napier plays a sheriff – you see him in the trailer, as normal for mere seconds. The plot according to Amazon: "As a boy, he saw his preacher father murdered. As a soldier, he witnessed the horrors of the Civil War. Now bounty hunter James Conners (Justin Ament) has returned to the town of Legend, New Mexico to marry the beautiful girl (Marnie Alton) he left behind and capture the psychotic land baron (Angus Macfadyen) who destroyed his childhood. But when Conners is ambushed and left for dead, he discovers a Native American world where justice has no name and vengeance rides in the shadows." DVD Verdict says "The molasses pace and lackluster performances make for a stumbling cowboy adventure."
Trailer:

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