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January 19th, 2017

PRETTY PEACHES (1978) ***

Peaches (Desiree Cousteau) is a cute, bubbly, and naïve young woman who comes to see her father (John Leslie) get remarried. She feels awkward hanging out with her new stepmother, so she gets drunk and winds up crashing her Jeep in the woods. Two guys find her lying on the ground unconscious and when she wakes up, Peaches has no memory of who she is. The guys decide to “help” Peaches, but when they learn her family is rich, they try to get some money out of her father.

As played by Desiree Cousteau, Peaches is a cherubic cutie who is often very funny; not to mention sexy. In another lifetime, Cousteau could’ve been a comedienne in a screwball romantic comedy from the ‘40s. Because of her game attitude and overall innocence, the sex scenes are often quite sexy, even if some of them are potentially disturbing.

I mean there’s one scene in which Joey Silvera balls her while she’s unconscious. Sure, to you and me that’s rape, but when compared to a lot of porn, the innocence and good-naturedness in which Cousteau throws herself into these situations is pretty funny. While I know that sounds odd, you have to accept that this was a different time. You could’ve only made a movie like this in the ‘70s.

There is also a rather crazy forced enema scene. Unlike the scenes in something like Water Power, this one is played for laughs. I mean how can you not laugh while Cousteau is getting an enema while a sign that says “Conserve Water” looms large in the background?

Then there’s the scene where Cousteau auditions to be a nude dancer and winds up getting ganged raped by a group of horny women with strap-ons in front of a paying audience. This scene escalates rapidly and while I can’t exactly say it’s hot, the way Cousteau gamely goes along with it is admirable. Again, even though in the real world, all of this would be non-consensual, but her pouty, “Fool me once… shame on me…” attitude is good for a laugh.

Director Alex de Renzy has a way of diffusing the rampant kinkiness with moments of humor. Other directors would’ve wallowed in the filth, but thanks to his handling of the sex scenes and Cousteau’s irresistible charm, it somehow seems light and fluffy. It’s a real tightrope act to be sure, and de Renzy and Cousteau pull it off. I mean how many movies do you know of end with an amnesiac regaining her memory at a swinger party in a bed filled with baby oil with her father in attendance? Folks, they just don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

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FullSizeR (2)

Produced by Hanna-Barbera, Legends of the Superheroes were two hour-long television specials that acted as something of a companion piece to the animated Super Friends show. Since Christopher Reeve was starring on the big screen as Superman and Lynda Carter was on TV as Wonder Woman, their characters are notably absent. At least we have Adam West and Burt Ward reprising their roles as Batman and Robin. If there’s any reason to check out this mess (and frankly, it is a mess), it’s to see them donning their tights once again. We also get to see Frank Gorshin as the Riddler and (briefly) the Batmobile too.

The first episode is “The Challenge” (* ½) and it’s something of a chore to sit through. Batman and Robin, along with Flash, Green Lantern, Black Canary, Hawkman, and Huntress team up to stop a group of super villains from setting off a doomsday device. While the villains hang out on a cheap set, our heroes run around different locations (mostly a gas station where Night Court’s Marsha Warfield cracks jokes about their costumes) and make fools of themselves.

This episode is just painful to watch. If it wasn’t for Adam West and Burt Ward, I’m not sure I could’ve made it all the way through. Sure, who wouldn’t love seeing West and Ward as Batman and Robin again? West still has the charm that made him a legend and Ward looks like he’s having fun, although it’s obvious that he’s more than a little long in the tooth to play Robin. The lone funny scene revolves around the Batmobile breaking down and Batman being forced to buy a used car. Naturally, Batman is more concerned with safety than price, which causes Robin to say, “Holy Ralph Nader!”

While it’s cool seeing West and Ward together once again, I was irritated by the fact that Batman’s cowl looked weird (it’s way too big) and the Batmobile looked like it was covered in cheap primer. At least their scenes are watchable. Everything else is rather unbearable as the annoying laugh track punctuates every single unfunny joke.

The villains are all pretty dire. Sure, Charlie Callas LOOKS the part as Sinestro. However, when he starts doing his usual shtick, it just takes you right out of it. I’m not even going to bring up the scene where he dresses up in drag as an old gypsy woman to throw Green Lantern off his trail. It’s just too painful.

The humor is all juvenile, bordering on infantile. I mean there’s actually a scene in which a villain sets up a lemonade stand to stall the heroes. There’s a difference between “comic book” and “cartoon” and these bozos didn’t know it.

The whole thing looks fucking cheap. It looks like a Sid and Marty Krofft show or something with costumes taken right out of the Salvation Army’s Halloween selection. It’s shot on tape too, so the scenes of the heroes walking around various outdoor locations look REALLY awful.

For DC fans, this will be the ultimate curiosity piece. The presence of West and Ward alone make it worth a look. Everything else just reeks.

When the episode was over, I was kinda glad. I went to turn it off. Then, another episode came on. I didn’t think my mental state could take any more punishment, but I toughed it out.

Thankfully, the second episode is “The Roast” (** ½ ) is a big improvement. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a Friars Club-style roast of the superheroes, hosted by Ed McMahon. It’s a good idea too since the set already looks like a cheesy Vegas stage show to begin with.

McMahon does get a few laughs as he introduces the various super villains and lesser-known superheroes to come on stage and poke fun at the heroes. The most un-PC character is “Ghetto Man”, a black superhero. At first, you might think this is pretty offensive, but it is kinda funny because he takes them to task for not including any black superheroes on the team. (“I don’t see any brothers!”)

Charlie Callas is actually a good fit here because he was a veteran of many roasts. He gets some laughs too. (“He’s so ugly that if it wasn’t for Parkay margarine no one would talk to him!”) Another roast vet, Ruth Buzzi is also on hand playing probably the funniest character, Aunt Minerva, who shows up looking for a husband. When she learns The Flash is “the world’s fastest man”, she says, “Pass”.

Not all of this is funny. The scene of Solomon Grundy (Mickey Morton) beating up McMahon every time he mentions a swamp goes on far too long. The bit where Robin tries to tell Batman he totaled the Batmobile by playing charades is as bad as anything in the previous episode. The final musical number will make your eyes roll too. Still, it’s a vast improvement over the first episode, but the producers were smart to cut their losses when they did.

As far as bad ‘70s TV specials go, Legends of the Superheroes is so bad that it makes The Star Wars Holiday Special look like Roots.

Next time on It Came from the Thrift Store: Mars Needs Women!

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved watching movie trailers. In a lot of cases, the trailers are even better than the movies themselves. When I go to the movies, I even get there extra early because I don’t want to miss a single preview.

Over the years, I have grabbed up just about every single movie trailer compilation I can get my hands on. Because of that, I would like to think of myself as a connoisseur of movie trailer compilations. For years, the 42nd Street Forever compilations held the mantle for being the most consistent movie trailer series, but they unfortunately are no longer in the movie trailer game.

Earlier this year, the fine folks at Garagehouse Pictures released Trailer Trauma, and it was one of the best comps ever made. That was quickly followed by part 2, which was even better. Now, at the tail end of 2016, they released Trailer Trauma 3: 80s Horrorthon. No company; and I mean no company has done more for the art of movie trailer compilations than Garagehouse.

It is an art, by the way. You can’t just slap a bunch of trailers together and call it a compilation. There has to be a common theme there to latch onto. The theme for this one is general, broad, and far-reaching: ‘80s Horror. When you close your eyes and think “’80s Horror”, you think of everything from low budget slasher films to major horror franchises. You think of works from acclaimed directors and untalented nobodies. You think sequels, remakes, and rip-offs. All of them are represented here.

I usually get on movie trailer compilations for going on too long and not knowing when to quit. Usually, two hours is too long, especially if they can’t sustain a consistent rhythm of entertaining and outrageous trailers.

Trailer Trauma 3 clocks in at 7 ½ hours.

Yes, you read that right. 7 ½ hours of ‘80s horror trailers on two discs. I spread it out over a course of two nights and never once did I feel bored or sluggish. The reason why was because the trailers just keep coming. Just when you think they can’t get any better, another classic trailer comes along and wows you, dazzles you, or just plain scares you.

Yes, some of the trailers are scarier than the actual movies themselves.

This is without a doubt the single greatest trailer compilation of all time. As someone who has sat through hundreds of these things, I can attest that there you will never find a horror movie trailer compilation to match it. There are over 250 trailers here. 99% of them are amazing. You can literally count the bad ones on both hands.

The reason why it works so well: EVERYTHING IS SHOWN IN CHRONOLOGICAL AND ALPHABETICAL ORDER! I’ve never been properly diagnosed, but I’m pretty sure I have OCD. Because of its strict adherence to structure, there’s a fascination to Trailer Trauma 3 that no other compilations have (at least for me). You can actually see the trends rise and fall over time. You can see the tail end of the Jaws rip-offs giving way to killer rat movies. You can see the major horror franchises grow in number year by year. Jason giving way to Freddy… Freddy opening the door for Chucky…

You can see your favorite actors subtly age over time. Watch as Jamie Lee Curtis cranks out picture after picture before vanishing from the genre completely. See George Kennedy appear in more and more dreck. See David Warner continually cashing a paycheck.

You can also see the landscape of horror slowly change. You can see the direct-to-video films slowly merging in with the major theatrical releases. You can see New World becoming Concord. You see 3-D’s rise and almost immediate fall.

The most thrilling aspect is seeing just how on the ball guys like Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, Stephen King, David Cronenberg, and John Carpenter were. They were churning pictures out year after year; and many of them in the prime of their career. Seeing their films (if only in brief glimpses) in their proper chronological context gives you a real appreciation for them.

Most of the trailers are for well-known films, which is fine. When you do get a real obscure one in the mix it only adds to the fun. Several times, I’d see a trailer for a movie I never saw, but can vividly recall its video box. Goddamn it, how come I never rented Eyes of Fire?

What’s really cool is that a lot of times, especially for the major franchise sequels, the final trailer isn’t shown. Instead, we are given a shorter teaser trailer. Often, they don’t include any footage from the actual film, or in some cases are composed of only footage shot expressly for the trailer itself. While some may not like that aspect, I for one loved it because it captures an anticipation for the movie that will never again be regained.

Take for instance the Nightmare on Elm Street 4 trailer. It just shows a little girl gluing a house together with popsicle sticks before Freddy’s glove bursts out of it. Would you rather see footage from a flick you’ve already seen a dozen times or would you rather see this trailer as its own creepy mini-movie? Or the Jaws 3-D trailer. It slowly has roman numerals appearing over a calm sea before a shark fin hurtles towards the audience while the narrator says, “This time the terror doesn’t stop at the screen!” I have fond memories of watching this trailer as a kid and I can tell you, it’s scarier than anything in the actual film (which I still love by the way).

God, just the trailer narrator’s voices alone are worth the price of admission. No one narrates trailers like the guys in the ‘80s. Sometimes, their voices were scarier than the films themselves.

Seriously, if you only buy one trailer compilation this year, make it Trailer Trauma 3: 80s Horrorthon. If you only buy one Blu-Ray this year, make it Trailer Trauma 3: 80s Horrorthon. If you are a fan of ‘80s horror and horror movie trailer compilations, it is the cinematic equivalent of dying and going to Heaven.

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