Tag Archives: joe don baker

YouTube Round-Up

Howdy there, loyal readers! This weekend wound up being a real doozy, so I don’t have a new review ready for today. Never fear though, because there is some good stuff coming up later this week, particularly as I start delving into my accumulated archive of bargain bin acquisitions.

In the meantime, I decided to round up a lovely bunch of full movies that are currently available, totally free, on the wide world of the internet. Enjoy!

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Willard

willard

I have had the damnedest time finding a physical copy of this 1971 classic, but luckily it has been hanging around on YouTube unimpeded for a while (though it is obviously a VHS rip). I particularly like “Willard” because of the way it blends a revenge story with a monster movie. The hybridization worked splendidly, and has been mimicked many times since. You also can’t help but identify with Willard, even as he starts going over the edge with his rat-fueled rampage. It is definitely worth a watch, particularly as it seems to be fading from the public consciousness. Here’s hoping it gets a blu-ray treatment at some point.

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Martin
martin

“Martin” is a clever 1977 George Romero vampire movie that has managed to slip through the cracks of history, and is one that the writer/director highly regards as one of his finest films to this day. On debut, it wound up being overshadowed by “Assault on Precinct 13” at Cannes, and never managed to get much off the ground. I recently read about the film in Shock Value by Jason Zinoman, and the described counter-supernatural style really stuck out to me. The question of whether Martin is actually a vampire follows throughout the movie, and Romero uses this to poke at the over-tired tropes of vampire movies. It sounds like the sort of film that would work well today, so it may just have been long ahead of its time. What luck that this forgotten gem is hanging around in the annals of YouTube!

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A Bucket of Blood
bucketofblood

I absolutely love “A Bucket of Blood,” and think that it might just be Roger Corman’s true masterpiece. This film has been popping into my head quite a bit recently, particularly while re-watching Martin Scorcese’s “After Hours” and the modern cult classic “Murder Party.” Both of these films feature over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek assaults on the contemporary art world, something that has never been done better than in “A Bucket of Blood.” The story follows an awkward and incompetent aspiring artist who is shunned by his local arts community. Through a bizarre series of accidents, he winds up becoming a hit artist after plastering a mold over his neighbor’s cat, which he accidentally killed out of frustration. Loving the attention, he decides to replicate the success by going on killing spree, an immortalizing his victims by coating them with plaster. The movie horrifying, hilarious, and has one of the most relate-able and sympathetic serial killers that I have ever seen in a film. If you haven’t seen this, it gets an enthusiastic recommendation from me.

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Walking Tall
walkingtall

Nothing gives me quite as much joy as seeing Joe Don Baker show up in movies where I am not expecting to see him. I covered a few of his movies back in the IMDb Bottom 100, but I still hold that he is the best part about all of those awful movies. And, honestly, I kind of like “Mitchell.” I’m planning to cover Joe Don Baker in at least one upcoming review, but I think “Walking Tall” deserves a special little mention. Not only is this the Joe Don Baker-iest of all the Joe Don Baker movies, but like “Willard,” it has really fallen out of the public consciousness. I have likewise had no luck finding a physical copy of this movie, apart from the recent remake starring Dwayne Johnson. However, that flick definitely lacks the odd charm and grittiness of the original flick. I hope this gets a re-release of some sort in the near future, but for now, you can catch Joe Don Baker whacking people with a slab of wood to your heart’s content on YouTube.

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Hercules

hercules

There are an awful lot of Hercules movies out there. In fact, I’m going to be spotlighting one of the lesser ones later this week. However, I don’t think any of them are as entertainingly bizarre as this 1983 Italian film by Luigi Cozzi. And, of course, it stars the Incredible Hulk himself, Lou Ferrigno.  If you thought that either of the 2014 Hercules flicks were disappointing, then this one is sure to never let your hopes get up again. The bear fight / tossing sequence has become particularly infamous, but there are a whole lot more things to enjoy in this film than just that brief clip. This one is almost certainly worth your time, if you are up for wasting an hour and change on YouTube. It is an experience. And, if you are up for more, there’s even a sequel out there!

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IMDb Bottom 100: Mitchell

Mitchell

mitchell

I genuinely feel like there is a good, entertaining movie hidden inside of “Mitchell” somewhere. The idea of an eccentric, schlubby cop with curious and unclear ethical boundaries solving a major crime sounds pretty great to me. Unfortunately, “Mitchell” doesn’t live up to its potential, which is a real shame.

mitchell1

In the hilarious MST3K riff of “Mitchell”, Joel and the bots have a lot of fun poking at the acting and physique of star Joe Don Baker. For the record, I didn’t think he was all that bad in this movie. I personally feel like he did the best he could with the writing, but it just wasn’t a good enough foundation for the movie.  None of the banter works, particularly the brief interaction between Joe Don and a young child which plays out in an incredibly grating fashion.  Also, there is a serious problem with the tone of the film: it seems like it wants to be an action movie and a comedy movie, but somehow does neither well enough to be an action-comedy. I’m still not sure how the audience is supposed to feel in the infamous sex scene, which features the song “My My My My Mitchell”: a tune as silly as it is catchy.

I think that the MST3K treatment of “Mitchell”, while perhaps unfair at times, is one of their best. It also holds a important place in the series, as it is the last episode to star creator Joel Hodgson.  I recommend the episode highly, though I can’t necessarily say the same for the film on its own. The pacing and editing are almost as bad as the writing, which makes it pretty dull to sit through. Even the ending is anticlimactic, which means there isn’t really any payoff to the wait. There are a few clips, like the sex scene, that are absolutely worth catching, but not much else.

mitchell

“Mitchell” has a pretty firm placement in the IMDb Bottom 100, though not as highly as another Joe Don Baker movie: “Final Justice”. Truthfully, it is hard for me to pick between the two of them.  “Final Justice” is probably objectively worse, but “Mitchell” irks me in a unique way in how it squanders what I see as a promising premise. Then again, I might be biased: some of my friends have claimed that my destiny is to successfully remake “Mitchell” into an awesome movie. Maybe I will get to that some day.

IMDb Bottom 100: Final Justice

Final Justice
finaljustice

For quite some time, Final Justice actually held the top slot in the IMDb Bottom 100. Personally, I don’t think this is anywhere near the worst movie in the Bottom 100. The plot is repetitive, Joe Don Baker is far from an inspiring lead, and there are some moments of really poor editing in the movie. All of that considered though, this is definitely a watchable movie. The pacing slows down quite a bit in the middle, but it doesn’t drag in the way in The Starfighters or Devil Fish do, and it isn’t as incompetently composed as Birdemic. I am at a loss as to how it was propelled to the #1 position for so long.

The writing for the movie isn’t good, but it didn’t stand out all that much. Something that definitely does stand out is the somewhat shoehorned setting of the movie in Malta. Honestly, I think that the Malta setting was written in as an excuse for the crew to film in an exotic location. It seems like an odd choice to me though, and not your typical fish-out-of-water setup. In any case, the audience gets to see quite a bit of Malta for better or worse.

The plot follows a Texas Sheriff named “Thomas Jefferson Geronimo” (Joe Don Baker) as he is escorting a captured criminal overseas. Do to some mistake, the criminal gets free during a stop over in Malta. Baker’s character then spends the rest of the movie trying to track down the criminal across the island, while repeatedly annoying the local Maltese police. That is pretty much the extent of the movie: it is unquestionably a Joe Don Baker vehicle, and none of the other actors stand out at all. I would go so far as to assume that a good number of the accessory cast members are local Maltese folk who were roped into the filming, but I haven’t been able to dig up much information on the movie at all to confirm any of my suspicions.

There isn’t a whole lot to say about Final Justice. The fish out of water concept works pretty well in a comedy setting, but throwing it into a crime drama just strikes me as odd. Beverly Hills Cop managed to use the concept in a hybrid crime drama/comedy, but it relied pretty heavily on Eddie Murphy’s abilities to make it work. Joe Don Baker doesn’t have the same wit or presence as Murphy, nor is the writing for Final Justice comparable to Beverly Hills Cop. Hell, it isn’t even comparable to The Golden Child. That said, this might have been an interesting movie if there had been a better comedic focus on the culture shock between Texas and Malta, or if they had just ignored it entirely. As it stands, the writing just half-heartedly pokes at the differences in the cultures. Doing it half-way just doesn’t cut it, and makes the movie less focused and distracted overall.

As mentioned previously, there were a number of editing goofs throughout the movie. I think the whole movie could have used a little more hacking from another set of eyes, but it may have been too much of a jumbled mess to save. Surprisingly, the editor of this movie is still working today in television and film alike, and has some pretty big credits to his name now (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Mighty Ducks). Color me surprised.

I’m not sure how strongly I can recommend Final Justice. There is a lot of repetitiveness in the plot, which really makes most of the movie a dull experience to sit through. Even the MST3K treatment does a bit of joke retreading, but it does improve the overall experience without any doubt. The only thing that I can strongly recommend about the movie is the awesome theme song. Give that a good listen and you are probably set for this one.

If you are interested in a Joe Don Baker shitty movie showcase, I’d recommend watching Mitchell instead of this. I think there is bit more enjoyment to get out of that movie, and his character is way more over the top than “Thomas Jefferson Geronimo”.