One of the great thrills of appreciating retro pop culture is delving into the campiness and cheesiness of bygone eras. Over the years, io9's "found footage" series has featured hundreds and hundreds of weird clips from movies and TV shows, plus other cultural detritus. Like the above clip, which comes from The Humanoid.
Here are some of the absolute campiest and most ridiculous moments from old movies that we've dug up. Warning: A few of these clips are NSFW, and are labeled as such.
Here's what we wrote about the above clip: The Humanoid stars Richard Kiel ("Jaws" from the James Bond movies) as a super-soldier — who decapitates like eight guys by throwing one pylon in this clip. It also has some of the best Darth Vader dialog ever, a robot dog named Robodog, a psychic Jedi-child, and an evil queen who has to absorb the juices of one topless young fashion model every day to stay young. The directors of Star Crash and The Humanoid had an undying rivalry, that endured 23 years later, when one of them was working in a gift shop. The Humanoid was directed by "George Lewis," the pseudonym for Aldo Ladi, who also directed 1975's slasher Torture Train.
We wrote: In this showdown where Geisha Cop reveals herself, we discover that the greatest spy gadget of all - the AssSword - draws its power from shame. It's not clear whether this is the shame of the person wearing it, or the people watching her. At any rate, it's a great weapon that can even deflect bullets, and I can't wait to see Tom Cruise wear it in the next Mission Impossible movie.
We wrote: We talk about scenery-chewing mad scientists, but nobody does it like 1934's Maniac anymore. Dr. Meirschultz is so excited about raising the dead, he's bellowing and rolling his eyes like a busload of Brian Blesseds.
Warning: Clips are very NSFW!
We wrote: Made in 1970, this European trainwreck of filmmaking features fashion statements that would make Lady Gaga faint, plus nonsensical storylines and horrendous special effects. There are two Devil Twins who wear outfits made out of windchimes, or panties with metal spikes coming out of them. (At one point, the Devil Twins get obsessed with grooming a baby cheetah pelt, complete with cheetah head.) There are dancing girls with fang pasties. There are strange laboratory experiments, in which people wearing animal heads and weird velvet hoods remove blood from naked hooded women. There's a Suicide Cult in which anyone whose picture appears on the overhead projector is forced to shoot him/herself. And so on.
Yongari, Monster of the Deep
We wrote: In the 1967 South Korean Godzilla rip-off Yongary, The Monster of the Deep, the film's plucky boy protagonist catches the beast napping. Upon waking up, the monster begins swaying groovy to the spontaneous sounds of surf rock. He's not a great dancer, but he's got better moves than Pulgasari.
We wrote: Do you wish Superman had a moronically catchy Eurodance song that blasted from the heavens whenever he took flight? If you answered in the affirmative, you'll go gonzo for Juan Piquer Simon's 1980 superhero flick Supersonic Man.
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky
This movie might actually be the most gruesome martial arts film ever made. To celebrate, we've gotten the most high-quality version we could track down, and made a clip of the movie's final boss fight, in which Ricky takes on the warden of his prison - who mutates into a giant monster. Which Ricky then feeds into a meat grinder, until only the grotesquely deformed head remains. Oh, and it could be NSFW for intense violence.
We wrote: Deathstalker is one of our favorite movies*, and it's hard to pick just one moment to share from this fantasy cheesefest.
We could have picked the scene where a swordswoman attacks Deathstalker and her friends in the middle of the night, wearing nothing but a cloak and a sort of loincloth thingy, so she's swordfighting topless. Or the bit shortly after that where she has sex with Deathstalker in front of all his friends. Or the bit where the evil overlord forces women to mud-wrestle for his amusement. Or the bit where the crone first tells Deathstalker to go after his heroic destiny, and he has a try at acting callous and caddish before giving in to his inevitable heroicness. Or or or... there are so many other scenes. But here's the most empowering moment.
Barbarian Queen 2: The Empress Strikes Back
We wrote: Barbarian Queen is a lovely movie in its own right, but Barbarian Queen 2: The Empress Strikes Back is superior in many respects. Just check out this sequence where the eponymous barbarian queen duels with the main villain to the death. And meanwhile, the sorcerous Princess Tamis meets her fate at the hands of her own father.
Black Scorpion 2
We wrote: Here are the greatest moments from Black Scorpion 2, the Roger Corman-produced superhero film about the woman in the shiny black bustier and mask. This movie is what you would get if you forced Halle Berry's Catwoman to guzzle Everclear until its IQ dropped into single digits.
The scenes above consist of: 1) a snippet of the opening action sequence, where a "bride" and an Elvis impersonator with a star painted over one eye rob a jewelry store and then get chased by the Black Scorpion, who in turn is being chased by a cop. 2) A fantastic sequence where that same cop confronts the Gangster Prankster, who's basically the Joker and Two-Face rolled into one, sort of like Prince's "Batdance" video. "How do you like my balls?" Indeed. 3) The big fight scene between Black Scorpion and Aftershock. Notice that Aftershock has somehow gotten some gigantic tubs of Vibranium, the rarest metal in the Marvel Universe. (Somebody tell the Wakandans!) 4) The final confrontation between Black Scorpion and Gangster Prankster, in which the fakest looking half-clown severed head in history goes flying through the air.
War of the Robots
We wrote: It's not just the hideous special effects, although those are pretty terrible - especially the closeups of pilots' faces while random rear-projection saucers float around behind them. It's not just the hideous acting, especially the guy who puts way too much processed cheese into lines like, "It's not easy to get away from me." No, it's the fact that you can't tell what the hell is going on half the time during this space battle. See another great War of the Robots clip here.
We wrote: The Hoff, wearing buckets of makeup, fences with killer bots in Star Crash. The worst of the late 70s Star Wars knockoffs, Crash features lots of Harryhausen-style stop motion animation alongside widescreen space battles. Caroline Munroe has really shiny hair and low-cut tops.
Blue Demon Y Las Invasoras
We wrote: The great Mexican wrestler Alejandro Muñoz Moreno, aka Blue Demon, saved us from a variety of unthinkable menaces — but none so insidious as the aliens he vanquishes in the classic Blue Demon Y Las Invasoras. A crew of beautiful babes in gold baby-doll dresses and silver gloves lands at the bottom of a lake and starts controlling men's minds. It's up to the man in the blue mask to set things right. Here's the final climactic spaceship battle, which comes after Blue Demon has already taken the main group of invaders prisoner. Who needs Green Lantern when you've got Blue Demon?
We wrote: Plucky scientists decide to shoot Dracula with a laser. But they've miscalculated, because Dracula can shoot laser-like beams out of his eyes. Is Hong Kong's Doctor Vampire the greatest movie of all time?
Message From Space
We wrote: Every late-1970s Star Wars-ripoff had to have a cantina scene, but few of them offered as much panache as Message From Space, the 1978 Japanese film. You have the dancers, wearing eye-liner, spangly metal bikini tops and g-strings, including the boys. You have the drinks-serving robot, who wears a bright pink robo-bikini. And then the obligatory dancing robot, who's got more game in one servo than R2 had in his whole body. But the film also features one of the greatest spaceship dogfight/sword-fight battle scenes of all time.
We wrote: Could 1983's Hercules be the perfect movie? Consider the evidence: It stars Lou "Incredible Hulk" Ferrigno. He fights robot centaurs, travels to other planets by throwing a big rock tied to a chariot, and grapples with a bear.
Fehmi the Astronaut
We wrote: Back in the day, every science fiction movie or show had to have a scene where the Earthman teaches the aliens/future people how to have sex. Captain Kirk did it. So did Woody Allen. (Warning: This clip is definitely NSFW!)
But few of them come close to this incredibly bizarre sequence from the 1978 Turkish movie Fehmi the Astronaut, in which a guy (who I'm guessing is Fehmi) is recruited to have sex with a hot alien babe. The only trouble? The aliens have sex by attaching toilet plungers and tubes to their crotches. And there's a bucket. Fehmi will have none of that, so he convinces the aliens to have sex his way — which involves Fehmi wearing his spacesuit while the aliens are naked, for some reason.
Endgame: Bronx Lotta Finale
We wrote: Today's mutants are effete and insipid, looking like plain humans or CG bastardizations. Leave it to post-apocalyptic mega-classic Endgame: Bronx Lotta Finale to show us the way, with fish-headed sex-fiends and uzi-toting monkey guys. Endgame: Bronx Lotta Finale is what Samuel Beckett would have done, if he'd been clever enough to think of monkey guys with machine guns. (And if he'd been albe to let go of that whole "trashcan" obsession.) Yet another classic Italian Mad Max ripoff, in the vein of 2019: After The Fall Of New York and Bronx Warriors, Endgame is a cut above the rest.
Night Train to Terror
We wrote: A group of teenagers jams on a train, not realizing that they're actually on the special train where God and Satan are debating theology and watching crappy short horror films. It can only be the classic Night Train To Terror.
It's hard to fathom the thought process that went into Night Train To Terror, honestly. It seems as though the makers somehow ended up with three short horror films and decided to string them together in a kind of anthology — but the idea that God and Satan are watching these terrible exploitation films in order to decide which souls should go to Heaven and which to Hell? And that they're doing this on a train which is going to crash at dawn, killing a train full of happy breakdancing teenagers? Kind of random.
Warning: VERY NSFW!
We wrote: The last human alive, grown in a test tube, begs her robot guardian to teach her about sex, in this hilariously awful scene from 1979's Star Virgin. "You are a messy biological organism and your erogenous zones are useless." It's NSFW!
We've featured some terrible Star Wars knockoffs in the past, but Star Virgin may actually be the worst. (It's probably not fair to compare a porno with "serious" space opera films anyway, but even as porn, Star Virgin is very, very bad.)
We wrote: Among the many amazing post-apocalyptic movies to come out of the early 1980s, few are as demented as Bronx Warriors, which features tap dancing gangs vs. biker gangs, plus a hero named Trash. In this scene Trash and his pals are trying to get through the Bronx as fast as possible, to rescue an innocent (and hot) girl who has somehow gotten herself lost in the semi-prison world of New York City. But before they can pass through, Trash has to do battle with the, um, tap dancing gang of shiny people!
Samson Vs. The Vampire Women
We wrote: If there's one thing people just don't understand, it's the kinds of special bonds that form between vampire women. Luckily, one movie truly gets it, and gives us a truthful (and sparkly) vampire female-bonding flick. I refer of course to Samson vs. the Vampire Women, a touching movie about wrestling. MST3K has already explored this fine film, but I think in a way that neglects the importance of the vampire women. I mean, the wrestling guys are cool and all but they don't have sparkly tiaras OR sparkly wands OR awesome eye makeup. Nor do they have large-breasted women in low cut robes telling them, "You order and I obey."
We wrote: Captain Mother knows how to keep order on her ship: with a silvery glitter-covered flogger and a bad attitude, in this awesome sequence from the 1968 exploitation movie Space Thing. Click through for two more eye-bleeding clips. (It's very NSFW!)