Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Night of the Dribbler (1990)

Directed by:
Jack Bravman

At all North American border crossings, firm rules have been established about what Canadians cannot bring into the U.S. and vice versa. It's too bad "copy of Night of the Dribbler" never made the American list. Not since IMPS* has so many painfully unfunny jokes been crammed into just one film. Dribbler, an AIRPLANE-style kitchen sink "comedy" which includes a serial killer, is so unbelievably bad that it was allowed to rest peacefully in someone's garage for around two decades as not to humiliate anyone involved. Code Red eventually had to ruin everything by finally putting this thing out on DVD; marketing it as a recently-unearthed slasher flick. Director Jack Bravman has previously directed several other low budget genre films: JANIE (1970), about a murderous Lethal Lolita with severe daddy issues (which was made with help from NYC erotica pioneers Michael and Roberta Findlay), and ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE (1986), a voodoo / zombie revenge tale starring Canuck hair rocker Jon-Mikl Thor. The latter managed to pick up a small cult following (thanks primarily to being featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000), but there's zero hope for Dribbler doing the same. It should have never seen the light of day.

At Watergate High School, their basketball team "The Plumbers" are in the middle of a 6-year-losing streak thanks to untalented players and thoroughly incompetent leadership from Coach Cherry (Fred Travalena). A psycho wearing a smiling basketball mask and with a constant irritating giggle - begins trimming off all the players one team captain at a time. Things are centered around Stan Bates (Gregory Calpakis), a "lower on the evolutionary scale than a slug" benchwarmer who's stuck as the team's equipment manager and ball boy. Whoever's doing the killings seems to be trying to get Stan on the court. Stan's overbearing father (Bill Saddler), who pressured him to join the team in the first place, constantly smacks him in the head and even hits him with his car, is one suspect. And so is a supportive goth girl named Becky (Flavia Carrozzi), who appears to be stalking Stan and speaks in annoying Afterschool Special cliches ("Confidence is something that comes from inside you!"). Dean Marks (Cynthia Mantel) really wants her team to win or else she's going to have to ride the rival team's parade float nekkid and get an unflattering tattoo. There's a weird science teacher who's always at the wrong place at the wrong time and Stan himself could also be the culprit. So desperate to make the team, he listens to self help tapes and tries to hypnotise the basket but ends up hypnotizing himself instead.

As I've already stated, the comedy aspects are completely and painfully unfunny. None of the jokes or "witty" lines really work. Maurice Thevenet's script has got to be one of the worst ever produced, combining consistently terrible dialogue, lousy and childish sight gags and a thoroughly predictable mystery. To make matters even more insufferable, there's also a sappy "message" thrown in that's sure to have you throwing up a little in your mouth. The acting is very amateurish and the film also looks incredibly cheap; the majority of it was filmed in a high school gymanseum. Cast as not only the coach but also an obnoxious announcer and an inept police detective, Travalena seems to have some talent as a comedian but he's completely unrestrained and damn near unbearable to watch here. He sings, screams, cackles, contorts his face, rolls his eyes, talks a mile a minute and never shuts up. He also does all kind of celebrity impersonations, including Bela Lugosi, Michael Jackson, Zelda Rubinstein and Jack Nicholson. I'll give him an A for effort when it comes to enthusiam, but making any of the atrocious dialogue he's handed amusing is an impossible task.

"Last time I saw faces like yours... was on the court fifteen seconds ago."

"Coach, can I have a word with you."
"How about semi-conductor?

"I'm the coach, which is the next best thing to being your father, which is the next best thing to being your mother, which is the next best thing to being your cousin, which is the next best thing to being a total stranger."

Ouch mommy, it hurts!

So the film fails on laughs big time. It also refuses to throw us a bone by at least being tasteless or trashy. There's no sex or nudity and next to no violence. There isn't even any foul language. You can see tape on one of the actresses breasts even when she's doing an above-the-shoulders shower scene and there's no gore unless you count a few rubber body parts being tossed around. One guy is decapitated (the killer throws the head through the hoop), there's an electrocution in the hot tub, someone gets scalded by hot water in the shower and another is blown up. The one and only clever moment is when the killer lines a hoop with a razor and it ends up cutting a guy's hands off when he tries to dunk a ball.



spookyx3 said...

maybe the worst movie i've seen all year. took three weeks to get through in fits and starts.

(leafing through dictionary)
secular. calcium. terrific. wallpaper. feel any different?



you already said that.


don't be. becky, who am i trying to kid? this whole thing is silly. i feel really dumb for bringing it up in the first place. you were right: one word can't make a man.


The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

This movie was so unbelievably terrible it actually pissed me off!

spookyx3 said...

i didn't judge the next few losers as harshly, that's for sure.

kontoculai said...

So this movie is so bad that it didn't even get the SBIG;I should watch thiss

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Yes it's THAT bad. One of the worst (not in a good way) I've seen out of thousands.

spookyx3 said...

takes more to make a good movie than having access to a high-school gym location and the means to pay fred travalena's day-rate, apparently.

spookyx3 said...

i watch 'em so you don't have to:

in many ways, their follow-up, CENTERFOLDS FROM HELL -- a sort of CHRISTMAS CAROL riff with a chauvinist in place of the miser -- is even worse. the big issue (besides a lack of dramatic heft, and the non-existent direction) is that they haven't any idea how to generate sympathy for the sexist jerk of a main character, so unlike scrooge, there's no subtle transformation, shifting of attitudes or any groundwork laid for redemption. by the end, when he suddenly catches on, i actually thought he was faking, to escape punishment, that's how falsely it plays. ugh.

PENTHOUSE pet dominique st. croix talks a lot. she memorably transposes "rice paper" and even mispronounces "misogyny" (hard g).

Unknown said...

Watching it brought back bad memories of that terrible, cheap Rocky spoof called Ricky 1.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Centerfolds is so rare it doesn't even have 5 votes on IMDb. This is the first time I've even heard of it. Bravman's Janie really wasn't all that bad. The Findlay's were involved so maybe they really directed it and he somehow got credit.

I've somehow never even heard of Ricky 1 either.

spookyx3 said...

> Bravman's Janie

thanks. there's also ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE, which has an awful rep.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I watched ZN a LONG time ago and hated it. Not in any hurry to rewatch it either. It would have vanished completely had MST3K not resurrected it.

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