TRUST ME, alphabetically: H (part 1)—-you know the drill from previous entries: this is yet another public service roundup of junk I saw for you, so you could thank me profusely later. I can take it–after enduring these, what’s a little slobbering adoration?….18 in this haul
#1 & 2
HALLOWEEN II and HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH—-the first cleverly arranged thriller left victims of good taste in its bloody wake by way of a slew of crummy sequels. Working in a video store, I had the first two inflicted on me by fellow clerks who thought they were ‘awesome, dude’. Kill, kill, kill, money, money, money. Number Two (1981) brought back Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence, upped the gore (the original Halloween was suspenseful, not blood-soaked), and budget ($2,500,000), making back ten times it’s investment. Number Three (1982) deviated from the story-line, and delved into the more distasteful area of wreaking mayhem (or at least planning it) on younger children. Isn’t that a nice gift for the public? Somehow snaring a good actor, Dan O’Herlihy, it cost as much as the second, but returned quite a bit less. Boo hoo. Panned initially, it’s somehow developed a new round of re-evaluation and applause. Count me out. Directed by and running, respectively (not respectably), Rick Rosenthal, 92 minutes, and Tommy Lee Wallace, 98 minutes.
THE HANGOVER 2—-dead on arrival sequel to the very funny original. Lazy, cruel and a cheat to the audience. Dismally, it grossed $586,000,000. “Attention: doom, dead ahead!” I’m surprised Thailand (where this tastelessness is set) didn’t kick the cast and crew out of ‘The Land Of Smiles’. Spewed in 2011, the 102 minutes were directed by Todd Philips, and star Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifiankis, Justin Bartha, Ken Joeong, Paul Giamatti, Mike Tyson (now there’s a funny guy), Jeffrey Tambor, Jamie Ching and Jasmin Lee.
HANNIE CAULDER lasts only 85 minutes, but that’s 84 too many to spend with this idiotic nonsense that has Raquel Welch, outfitted like a frontier sex-bomb, becoming a gunfighter to avenge the messy murder of her husband and her disgusting rape at the hands of the vile and filthy Ernest Borgnine, Strother Martin and Jack Elam. Robert Culp helps her, while Christopher Lee and Stephen Boyd show up in cameos. Directed, badly, by Burt Kennedy, the script mixes coarse comedy with bloody mayhem. Again with the Spanish locations. Some people actually like this movie, which laid an egg when it came out, continuing the beauteous Raquel’s string of flops. I liked looking at her as much as the next caveman, but this one tests the limits of desire.
THE HAPPY HOOKER GOES TO WASHINGTON—-you’re thinking “How come the original The Happy Hooker (with Lynn Redgrave) isn’t on this list? Will he really devote a full-page review to that?” Finish your latte, I just don’t recall seeing that one, but I felt compelled to catch this sorry sequel because Joey Heatherton was in it (panting sound). Anyway, I read the book (what? you didn’t?). This 1977 ‘comedy’ is about as poor as they get: it’s boring, not funny and it isn’t sexy (FAIL!). With a cast that gets more boggling the farther you go into the lineup: George Hamilton (like hanging a billboard advertising quality), Ray Walston, Jack Carter, Joe E. Ross, Larry Storch, Rip Taylor, Billy Barty, Harold Sakata, Edy Williams (as a professor) and Will Hutchins. Heatherton could dance like Hotness Personified, but her acting?…ouch. Directed by William A. Levey, it lasts for 89 minutes. There was a third, The Happy Hooker Goes To Hollywood, with naughty Bond girl/cavewoman wrestler Martine Beswicke, but this second boinker is perhaps best seen on a bill with Billy Jack Goes To Washington.
HARD CONTRACT—-deadly dull James Coburn stall-out about a hitman with second thoughts. We always liked Our Man James, but he did pull his share of losers, and this is one of the worst. Fine cast: Lee Remick, Burgess Meredith, Lilli Palmer, Patrick Magee, Sterling Hayden, Claude Dauphin, Karen Black. Produced for $4,070,000, with Belgian, Moroccan and Spanish locations photographed by Jack Hildyard and scored by Alex North, it crawled back hitless with $1,750,000. Coburn blamed director S. Lee Pogostin, who also wrote the pretentious script. Can’t sleep? Put this on.
THE HARRAD EXPERIMENT—-torpid 1973 filming of the famous 1962 book. Students go to ‘Harrad College’ to learn about sexuality (this makes it somehow different from other colleges?), and Free Love. James Whitmore and Tippi Hedren run the school; students include Don Johnson, Bruno Kirby, Laurie Walters and Gregory Harrison. Directed by Ted Post, the screenplay was by Ted Cassidy–yes, ‘Lurch’ of The Addams Family. Done for a reported $200,000 (it looks it), it managed to entice $3,000,000 and generate a sequel the following year, Harrad Summer. Skipped class on that one.
HARUM SCARUM—-many consider this 1965 embarrassment to be the nadir of the Bad Elvis Movies. Budgeted at $2,400,000, its $4,005,000 gross clocked number #40 for the year, which had already endured Girl Happy and Tickle Me. Joining the abdicating King are Mary Ann Mobley, Fran Jeffries and Michael Ansara. 95 minutes, directed by Gene Nelson. With Jay Novello, Philip Reed and Billy Barty.
HEART CONDITION—-racist cop Bob Hoskins has a heart attack and gets a transplant from a drive-by-shooting victim, sleazy lawyer Denzel Washington, who sticks around as a ghost while recovering Bob tries to find Denzel’s killer. Oh, the humor-in-irony possibilities! What we can learn! Washington learned that he needed to fire his agent (which he did) and stick to drama. Comic fantasy nonsense mixed uneasily with some unpleasant urban crime action. Dudsville directed by James D. Parriott squanders 100 minutes and ended in a heap at spot #131 for 1990.
HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE—-part of the first foul wave of slasher films heaved up by the success of Friday The 13th and Halloween, this 1980 murder slop is noteworthy only for introducing a 24-year-old hopeful named Tom Hanks. Done on a chicken feed budget of $250,000, it cannily lapped sickness o the tune of $4,875,000 This story’s killer favors brides: for real fun, find screenwriter Scott Parker and director Armand Mastroianni and give them electro-shock. With Paul Gleason.
THE HELLIONS—-essentially a South African version of High Noon, this unpleasant, unconvincing 1961 one-man-vs.-outlaw gang saga is uneven as all heck, attributed by director Ken Annakin to his being stricken with polio during the shoot, and having to call shots from his hospital bed. The script and story were not much to start with. With Richard Todd as the good guy, and mean behavior supplied by over-the-top Lionel Jeffries and James Booth. Others on hand include Anne Aubrey (the producers girlfriend), Jamie Uys (who 19 years later would direct The Gods Must Be Crazy) and Ronald Fraser. 86 minutes, it does have one pretty wild title song that might snare you into watching.
HELL NIGHT—-more dumb horror, with Linda Blair among those undergoing fraternity hazing in a mansion, a night-of-passage that goes too far when a deformed madman gets busy with implements. Wait–there are two killers! Quick, leave the theater or shut off the DVD player: it’s your only hope. From 1981, with Vincent Van Patten. 101 minutes, directed by Tom DiSimone.
HERBIE GOES TO MONTE CARLO—-the only reason I recall (and had reason to see in the first place) this silly 1977 kids movie was that it was part of a double-bill. My eight-year old nephew was there for this Disney opus, while Uncle Mark was along for co-feature March Or Die, a Foreign Legion epic pitched at man-kids; I was 22). Of such wacky duos are family bonds bolstered. In fact, this third ‘Love Bug’ effort made such an impact on me that for years I was convinced I had seen Herbie Goes Bananas, but when I checked dates and aligned with that aforementioned action film (not exactly the greatest of all adventures, to be sure) I was stunned to realize that My Herbie had gone to Europe, and Banana Herbie went to Mexico. It’s all too much. This one stars Dean Jones and Don Knotts. It made $29,000,000, including $4 from me and my no-doubt enraptured nephew. Directed by Vincent McEveety, it chugs 105 minutes. The larger question, lurking in the background: did I somehow also see (and what for?) Herbie Goes Bananas, years later? When you’re a List Person, this sort of mystery nag can drive you to seek professional help. I need to get out more….
HEROES OF THE ALAMO—-since I was old enough to don a coonskin cap, the Alamo has been my favorite Americana fascination, and like a goodly section of a generation I was raised on Walt Disney’s version in the last segment of Davy Crockett, and floored by John Wayne’s mighty 1960 epic. Imagine my disgust when I caught this 1937 cheapie, which looks like it cost $25 and is about as exciting as lettuce. Using action footage from a 1926 silent, this 75 minute hooter concerns itself with secondary defender Almeron Dickinson (Bruce Warren) and wife Susanna (Ruth Findlay). The film flopped (I can’t see how it could lose much money to start with) and producer Anthony J. Xydias gave up on the movie biz. His bad luck continued when he was caught in the Philippines in 1941 and spent four years as a guest of the Japanese in Santo Tomas internment camp. That’s overmuch punishment for anyone. The 75 minutes were directed by Harry L. Fraser.
THE HILLS HAVE EYES—-“It makes me want to puke, if you really want to know” has one line of the dialogue from this 1977 ‘horror classic’, and it’s hard to improve on that as a summation of this sick dreck. An extended family goes off the road in the desert and are stranded. They’re preyed upon, with lip-smacking relish, by a band of moronic, mutant psychopaths, and we get to watch. We get to see the father crucified on a cactus and set afire. Mom and daughter get blasted with handguns. One of the pet dogs is gutted. The killers swipe an infant with the intention of eating it. Oh, and a rape. And… just another fun first date-movie (and no doubt it was for fans of such offal). Directed & written by Wes Craven, who hadn’t insulted Life enough with The Last House On The Left. After this $230,000 viper made $25,000,000, Craven gave birth to a sequel, and in 2006 there was a remake. Bring on the asteroid already. 89 minutes, with Dee Wallace.
THE HOLLYWOOD KNIGHTS—-crass 1980 cheapo comedy about a bunch of obnoxious jerks, set in Beverly Hills in 1965. Running 901 minutes, directed by Floyd Mutrux, it made money thanks to an effective ad campaign, but it’s a nasty piece of work, of trivia note only for introducing Tony Danza, Robert Wuhl and Michelle Pfeiffer, with early work as well from Fran Drescher. Not good.
HOMEWORK—-1982 comedy that was shot three years earlier, shelved (where it should have stayed) and then released to mesh with star Joan Collins new lease-on-fame with Dynasty. It’s another badly written, edited and directed ‘coming of age’ flick (coming- of-age in this instance chiefly boiling down to Getting Laid). It didn’t cost much to make, but somehow the distributors got on the hook for millions and the producer had apoplexy. He was already being sued by Collins, since publicity had grafted shots of her head onto pix of a nude stand-in. That was because she’d welshed on her promise to do nude scenes, as part of her scanty $25,000 salary. Along came Dynasty. There was a surfeit of coming-of-age flicks in the early and mid 80s–witness Ferris Buehler’s Day Off, Risky Business, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Porky’s, All The Right Moves, My Tutor, even Red Dawn–and they were all better than this one (even Porky’s ). Running 90 minutes, directed by James Beshears.
HONEY—-‘Honey’ (Jessica Alba) wants to make it as a backup dancer in hip-hop videos. Meantime, she juggles several jobs and has relationship difficulties. How will it end? It’s too much to ask for the moments you get to approve of her moves (go ahead, say “yes, but it didn’t stop you, did it?” and bask in your righteousness). Directed by Bille Woodruff, moving through 94 minutes, the producers put $18,000,000 into the little featherweight drama and came back with $62,000,000, so I guess there are a lot of hip-hop dance dreamers out there (and more than a few Alba oglers). I bear my guilt like chains.