Ankle Biters (2001)

Reviewed by Simon Drake

Directed by Adam Minarovich.
Starring Adam Minarovich, Michael Moore (not that one!) and a bunch of midgets.

    A rare entry into the catalogue of midget vampire films (the only other I can think of is Interview with a Vampire starring Tom Cruise). It features a group of midgets who represent the last vampires on earth. They steal an antique sword that contains the blood of the last tall vampire and can turn mortals into vampires. 
    Luckily for the human race there's Drexl Vennis and his midget sidekick T-bone a pair of half breed vampires that randomly show up and are hired by an antique dealer (possibly David Dickinson) to reclaim the sword and save mankind. 
    What a Bobby Dazzler!…actually it isn't!

What's wrong with it?

    After seeing this film whenever a date is mentioned you'll probably refer to it as either B.A (Before Ankle biters) or A.D (After Depression therapy). This film is that biblical. It's a dark day in bad movie watching as I feel I have reached the end…I have achieved the Holy Grail of badness. The chasm has been leapt, and there's no returning. I can't possible find a film worse, can I? (actually yes!)  
    Ankle Biters is a dangerous example of what happens when you have a bunch of N.R.A redneck idiots with too much time on their hands, a camcorder and a copy of the script of Blade with most of the pages missing. 
    Yes sir, that joke about the camcorder isn't an exaggeration, it's all filmed on a camcorder, no High-8 digital camera either but your average holiday in Disneyworld quality camera. With a narrative about as exciting as watching your neighbour's shuffle around in Florida and an incompetence level of camerawork usually associated with your average seven-year-old that's had too many cans of Pepsi Max. If you are making a film on a camcorder with obvious budget restrictions, you need to make sure the script and/or acting is strong enough so as it won't matter about the rough edges…right? Sadly Ankle Biters have neither, they have a bunch of mumbling swear words and pointless exposition (here's a hint for the filmmakers if they are reading, invest in a boom mike rather than using the in-camera mike so we can actually hear the dialogue, actually on second thought…). There's also a nice line in monosyllabic delivery from the blonde bimbo who simply utters the line 'where's my bruvver?' in a southern accent repeatedly from a cue card. She says it so much that you could probably invent some nice drinking game around the film  'now here's another midget punch up…everyone down a pint!'
    Speaking of midget punch ups, I'll just touch on the 'fight' scenes of the film, I'm going to use the term 'fight' in it's broadest possible sense as it's more of a bundle than a form of physical combat. It's like Jackass without the laughs, and slightly more cringe inducing and painful.

What's right with it?

    Nothing. Even the end wasn't any sort of reprieve as we had the Ankle Biters power ballad to contend with.
    Imagine the worst slamming guitar power riffs you can think of…then think of worse. Then add the lyrics 'Three feet tall and two-inch fangs' screamed at full volume in a jarring voice…then repeat…for five minutes…And you have the Ankle Biters song.
    If anyone has seen Ankle Biters and can think of any redeeming features (this is going out to the makers!) I would honestly love to know. There must be a Ying to its yang…surely.

How bad is it really?

    To quote Nigel Tufnell in This is Spinal Tap 'It's like, how much more black can it be? And the answer is none…None more black'

Best bit?

    There is actually quite a funny scene where a bunch of midgets are nibbling two antique dealers to death. The old pervy guy looks like he's enjoying it a little too much. The other one runs off leading to a 'dramatic' foot chase involving an ankle-less man and a group of midgets, surely a cinematic first?

What's up with?


Production Values - Camcorder footage, awful sound (that in fact goes silent throughout a key explanation scene) and painful music…oh God the music! 19

Dialogue and performance - Rednecks that you drink with do not for good actors make. Midgets can't fight. And I couldn't hear the dialogue over the power rock techno. 20

Plot and execution - Imagine Blade starring a fat idiot that can't act and produced the film (hey it's a stretch!) on a camcorder with midgets. 20 

Randomness - 'Where's my bruvver?' 20 

Waste of potential - I rented a film called Ankle Biters about midget vampires, so I knew I was in for something special…However I wasn't prepared for it's home-made level of awfulness. Peter Jackson, Kevin Smith etc have proved with a little ingenuity, a good script and an obvious degree of talent that you can create something home-made and well-made. But those guys had talent…These guys have none. 19

Overall 98%


AbrAxas: Guardian of the Universe (1991)

Reviewed by Simon Drake

Inflicted by Damien Lee
Starring Jesse Ventura, Sven-Ole Thorsen and guest starring James Belushi

    Taken from the back of the box, with comments in italic:
    "ABRAXAS is an intergalactic cop (played by everyone's fave wrestler/actor/senator/mayor Jesse Ventura). His prime directive is to monitor the planets of two galaxies and use his incredible strengths (erm Ozone enhanced bones) and weaponry (erm…none actually) to prevent their destruction through ecological suicide or senseless wars. (is there any other kind?)
    "SECUNDAS, once his partner, is now a ruthless renegade, obsessed with solving the anti-life equation…a secret formula who's (that's how it is written!) power could destroy the universe.
    To unravel the formula's mystery, SECUNDAS must first impregnate an Earth Woman in order to create a "Comater"…a mutant child. Only this alien child's brain will be able to compute the equation (despite having a moron for a Dad and a Mum who didn't even want to participate…and also an idiot to boot)…and whoever possesses it's secret inherits the powers of a God.
    Pursuing SECUNDAS across the vastness of space, (well a small Canadian town) ABRAXAS discovers that his old foe has already created a "Comater" (He's very quick…Oh behave!) and the awesome energy that has been incubating inside the innocent child is about to be unleashed. (he makes a school bully wet his pants)
    After more than 1000 years, (Abraxas says 10000 at the beginning…that's a lot more!) as a Guardian of the Universe, ABRAXAS must now face his most terrifying challenge…(the dole office!) 

What's wrong with it?

    Words alone cannot describe the sheer vastness of it's awfulness.. This film could break you. It broke the Prophet …He made the decision to stop…He knew his limits (I want it on record that this was after watching the Silent Flute - The Prophet). But I felt somehow duty bound (or a little sado-masochistic) to watch the whole thing, but on doing so I opened Pandora's video box and it was a big mistake. I thought I could take it, but I was wrong…Not a scene went by that didn't induce pain from either the dire acting, the reeking script or the incessant use of 'elevator jazz' for every scene, including the fights. 
    Basically rather than actually choreograph any fight scenes, the director simply wobbles the camera around whilst Jesse Ventura and Sven-Ole Thorsen push each other around in the woods.
    It is quite simply an embarrassment on every possible level. Witness the horror of hearing Sven-Ole's 'Ro…bot…ic…del…iv…ery' of his entire script in his McBain from The Simpson's Austrian accent (okay he's a robot of sorts…and clearly struggling with the English language; What's the rest of the cast's excuse?) Contemplate the wrongness of a naked Jesse Ventura inviting a five-year-old boy to share his bed so he can tell him "a story about two men who were partners"! Be confused by the most pointless and random guest appearance from James Belushi! Relive the pain from watching the stupefying acting, direction and camera work! Listen to the worst elevator sax/soft core porn soundtrack in film history! And top it off with a side order from the script of all that is unholy! This script could well go down in the Guinness book of records for it has the most amount of terrible dialogue ever in a feature film, even the lines ripped off from other movies (notably Terminator and Robocop).
    And for you brave enough to stand it…Here is a few of the choice morsels from the script. Read at your peril!

    'Are you a birthing member of the human race?' (by way of a chat up line)

    (Sonia, the impregnated Mum, has a talk with Principal Jim Belushi) 
    'This is a normal school for normal Children.'
    'My Son is normal…he just needs special attention'
    'He does get special attention. He's causing a problem with the other students; he scares the piss out of them. They act out, they push him, they call him names, they tease him…Constantly.'
    'Why don't you tell them to stop teasing him and calling him names? Ever thought of just telling them to stop it?'
    (Pause) 'No. No I hadn't…I'll try that.'

    (Secundus calls the shots) 'One more bark or whimper from you and her brain is dust'

    (Sonia lets rip on Abraxas) 'I don't even know the name of whatever it was that impregnated me. I think one of you space guys, or whatever it is that you are, could have dropped me a note or something. You know, just to let me know I'm not crazy, that this thing did happen. Oh no, that would be too much! You're probably too busy saving the universe. Do you ever think what I'm going through? Or how difficult it is making ends meet? Do you have any idea how much a two bedroom house costs?'

    (Secunda checks out the sights) 'I'm not familiar with the term 'exotic dancer''
    (His 'answer box' replies) 'Exotic dancers are Earthling members of the species performing contemporary fertility rites…You don't have time.' 

    (A cop speaking to another right in front of a small boy whose Mum has just been killed) 'We did a blood sample, scraped it off the wall over there and had it ferried down to the city…They'll probably send a fax later…Wanna Coffee?'

    'Tommy just entered an unconscious resting state.'
    'No he hasn't…. He's asleep'

    'I have a birthday soon. I'll be eleven thousand, eight hundred and sixty two next Tuesday. That's a little bit older than six isn't it.'

What's right with it?

    Quite simply nothing.

How bad is it really?

    Imagine Satan vomiting his demonic Saturday night piss up kebab into a video box…Mixing in some Macdonald's Milk shakes…Add some Pop tarts…Simmer on gas mark 6 for a millennium and that's only a tenth of how bad this is.

Best bit?

    Jesse Ventura saying 'My box has V.D'

What's up with?


Production Values - Nothing on Earth can prepare you for the music and the sight of Secundas' head exploding (hey he's made from Spectrum graphics!). 20

Dialogue and performance - Some of the worst in recent memory on both counts. 20

Plot and execution - The Terminator meets Robocop directed by rabid Monkeys in Canada. 20

Randomness - The Anti-Life equation? Ozone bones? An Art Garfunkal lookalike as Jesse Ventura's boss? Whose kid is that? Help me Mummy…19 

Waste of Potential - Jesse Ventura in a low brow version of Terminator guest starring James Belushi…Somehow I knew this wasn't going to be any good…and unsurprisingly it wasn't. 15

Overall 94%


The Silent Flute (1979) (aka Circle of Iron)

Directed by Richard Moore
Starring David Carradine and Jeff Cooper

BMM Keywords: Dull, dull, dull.

    "The film Bruce lee wanted to make"! Screams the box, and I can see why. The film deals with Lee's favourite subject - the weakness of formal martial arts schools compared to the more flexible style that he developed. Of course, it's hardly a tribute to the man to cast David Carradine - the man who they got to take his place in Kung fu because they wanted a white guy - in the roles (yes, plural) that he would have played.
    Basically, this fluffy-haired rebel, Kord (Cooper) fails to win the right to quest for a book because he doesn't follow the rules. He tails the champion, who gets killed, then passes all the tests with the help of a blind and cryptic flute player (Carradine). He has to fight a monkey man (Carradine), face death (Carradine) and defeat a nomadic warrior (Carradine) after sleeping with his wife (not, thank God, Carradine), all in order to complete a journey of self-discovery, get to the island of Zetan (Christopher Lee) and win the book.
    And that's it, really.

What's wrong with it?

    In short, it's a mess; a mish-mash of not-very-interesting fight scenes intercut with waffly philosophy both of which might have been more convincing had they come from Bruce Lee instead of Carradine. It's not always entirely clear what the point of the various trials is, nor how exactly Kord overcomes them.
    At the end of the film, Zetan begs Kord to release him from the tedium of his endless duty. I know how he felt.

What's right with it?

    Not much really. Nothing about this film grabs the imagination or the attention.

How bad is it really?

    The Silent Flute does not suck on the level of many bad kung fu movies, but it is almost entirely uninteresting. This is only one for the hardcore bad movie completist; for anyone else it just isn't worth the time.

What's up with...?


Production values: Second-rate at best. The filming is overly dark and the 'special effects' (mostly involving David Carradine switching between his roles between cuts) are not very special at all. The whole thing looks distinctly cheap. 15

Dialogue and performances: The script is filled with sub-Lee kung fu waffle, and the actors deliver it with leaden solemnity. Only Christopher Lee and Roddy McDowell (as the master of the tournament that rejects Kord) escape with any dignity intact. 18

Plot and execution: A leaden trek through a series of kung fu encounters does not a plot make, and the heavy-handed direction does nothing to alleviate the boredom. 17

Randomness: Bruce Lee films are often pretty weird, but this one takes the biscuit. The Man-in-Oil is the top of the line, but the Panther Man/Death is also a stand-out. 17

Waste of Potential - Bruce Lee made some of the seminal 'hard' kung fu movies, and this looks like it could have been another in the vein of Enter the Dragon and Game of Death. As it is, it is nothing of the sort. 16

Overall 83%