Totally awesome video games! 1970s and 80s schlock director Greydon Clark gets a tribute, Joy Sticks and all
Thus 1976's Black Shampoo, an outrageous blaxploitation cash-in on Warren Beatty's heterosexual hairdresser lothario hit, followed quickly by the unforgettably named (if otherwise forgettable) Satan's Cheerleaders (1977), tentacled-alien-Frisbee-creature horror Without Warning (1980, with a very young David Caruso as one victim), and so forth. They inevitably featured once-hot, now economically-priced Hollywood names of a certain age (Clu Gulager, Jack Palance, Yvonne De Carlo etc.), attractive youngers mostly never to be heard from again, and Clark regulars like actress spouse Jacqueline Cole. (The fact that so many of his actors and crew came back for more suggests that he's a pleasant guy to work for.)
Some of these movies actually require the MST3K treatment they got (i.e. 1985 Joe Don vs. Mafia shoot 'em up Final Justice) to be watchable. Some, like 1990 psychological thriller Out of Sight, Out of Her Mind or 1980 sci-fi fantasy The Return (a rare upgrade to then-current B-level stars in Cybill Shepard and Jan-Michael Vincent), didn't get it and aren't.
But others are inspirationally silly, with enough hints to make it clear that their creator was in on the joke. Probably the most widely seen of his films is acknowledged camp classic The Forbidden Dance, one of two lambada movies released on the same day in 1990. It stars former Miss USA and future Mulholland Drive (2001) enigma Laura Harring as an Amazonian tribal princess who comes to Beverly Hills (accompanied by "witch doctor" Sid Haig) to attract attention to rainforest destruction via the healing power of public ass-grinding. All this and an ozone depletion message make it Clark's Inconvenient Truth, just as The Bad Bunch was his Crash.
Less socially conscious but equally nuts are Uninvited (1988), in which a yacht full of the expected veteran actors and hot young 'uns are terrorized by a mutant lab-experiment cat puppet; and Russian Holiday (1992), a daft espionage thriller with Susan Blakely as a tourist haplessly playing Nancy Drew amidst Moscow neck-snappings.
Then there's 1989's Skinheads: The Second Coming of Hate. Its hilarious racist, sexist, swastika-emblazoned goon squad makes the mistake of pursuing clean-cut "good" kids into the wilderness lair of survivalist Chuck Connors, who fought in World War II and knows just what to do with a buncha neo-Nazi scum. It's pretty much the Reefer Madness of Reagan-era fascist punk gang movies (1982's Class of 1984, 1984's Savage Streets, etc.) — a category that surely calls for its own Midnites for Maniacs tribute.
"MORE FUN THAN GAMES! A TRIBUTE TO GREYDON CLARK"
Fri/2, triple-feature starts at 7 p.m., $12
3117 16th St., SF
(415) 863-1087 www.midnitesformaniacs.com