Assassin of Youth (film #1 on disc #1 of Schlock Hysteria, section #10 of Total Movie & Entertainment free DVD set). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

This is one of the campiest of the pseudoeducational exploitation films of the 30s. An investigative reporter infiltrates a group of small-town teenagers to get the scoop on teen marijuana use. He gets in the middle of a plot to swindle "good girl" Joan out of her inheritance by making it look like she's gone bad. The film has everything you look for in this kind of film: cheesy production values; a total ignorance about the effects of and the culture surrounding marijuana use ("I want one of those cigarettes that pep you up!" "Oh, you mean reefers?"); a film-within-a-film about the evils of the drug (The Marijuana Menace); lots of jazzy party scenes; a shadowy undressing scene which, of course, is essential to the plot; and lots of scenery chewing. It also has more character actors than you can shake a stick at, including a Margaret Hamilton wanna-be who rides around town on a bizarre scooter shouting gossip everywhere, a cranky curmudgeon of a town druggist, and a judge who is only slightly more reputable than W. C. Fields. About two-thirds of the way through the film, these character actors practically take over the film, turning the courtroom scene into something out of the Marx Brothers. Which is pretty weird in a film that was supposed to be a serious expose of the drug problem. But it certainly adds to the entertainment value of this film. If you're looking for a great, campy "party film," this is it. Just watch out for investigative reporters and old ladies on scooters before handing out any cigarettes that pep you up.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: *****.

Boy in Court (film #6 on Our Secret Century, Vol. 5: Teenage Transgression CD-ROM (Voyager). Also, film #138 on Prelinger Archive. Also, track #3 on Teenage Confidential (Rhino, 1987)). [Category: Public Service]

This optimistic 1940s film tries to convince us that enlightened, compassionate juvenile court systems can be more effective in reforming young offenders than punitive courts. 15-year-old gang member Johnny participates in a gang car theft, but is the only one caught. A kindly judges sentences him to probation, assigning to his case a compassionate probation officer who sets about getting social services for Johnny's poverty-stricken family, getting Johnny to go to church, and interesting the boy in aviation. By the end of the film, Johnny is a thoroughly clean-cut upright young man, who admits to the judge that stealing a car is "pretty dumb". Although it has some valid points, this film is incredibly simplistic in its portrayal of the causes and solutions to juvenile delinquency. It leaves you both wondering if any court system was that compassionate (Johnny's probation officer appears to have no other cases in his load), and if such treatment would really be very effective against hardened youth-gang members. Naive, and therefore fairly campy.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

Al Tudi Tuhak - Long, Long Ago (film #2 in the Film Festival section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

This short animated film tells a Native American creation myth from what looks to be the Eskimo people. God is shown as a giant Eskimo woodcarver who creates the earth and all life on it through whittling––the shavings are transformed into all forms of animal and plant life, as well as the sun and the moon. The story also involves a lonely duck and a whale who ends up in an unexpected place. The artwork is done in a Native American style and the narration is done in the form of traditional storytelling. The total effect is charming and true to the spirit of the traditional story. The duck and the whale, in particular, will make you smile.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

Beatlemania! (extra on The Beatles: Celebration DVD (LasarLight, 1999)). [Category: News]

This newsreel clip documents the Beatles' return to London after their successful storming of America in 1964. They are absolutely mobbed at the airport by screaming fans. I don't care what you say––no other entertainers have created this much "mania" in their fans. This was made near the end of the newsreel era, like Universal Pictures Newsreel. The Beatles were a symbol of the huge changes that would happen in the 60s, so it's kind of odd to see them documented by such an old-fashioned technology.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

Activision (easter egg on Boxing on the Playstation 2 Game Activision Anthology (Activision, 2002)). [Category: Commercial]

OK, folks, I know that the vast majority of you are not so rabid fans of ephemera that you would dig up this one, unless you also happen to be a fan of vintage video games. Not only does it require you to have a Playstation 2 and the game, but you have to get a certain score in Boxing to unlock this film. But it just so happens that my husband is a video game fanatic, and he got the requisite score. So I'm going to take advantage of it, even though I feel like I'm at a carnival and he just won a large stuffed bunny for me at the shooting gallery. This film announces the brand-new 1982 Activision video games for your Atari game system and lets you meet some of the game designers. Remember Atari, folks? That ultra-primitive game system that was just a step above Pong, but was nevertheless the cool thing to have back in 1982? I know it's unfair and way too easy to laugh at old technology, but seriously, it's hard not to get the giggles when watching those Activision executives and game designers be so excited about those blocky, primitive games. While they rave on about Activision's "state-of-the-art graphics", you get to see a designer actually draw a game character by filling in squares on a piece of graph paper. Add to that the fact that everybody looks so 70s, and you've got a film that's a real hoot to watch. They throw in several of Activision's tv commercials during the film as well, and they're fun to watch too.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

All Star Bond Rally (film #7 on WWII V for Victory War Bonds & Rallies Show (Something Weird, 1996)). Category: Military & Propraganda

A bunch of Hollywood stars, including Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Betty Grable do their level best to get us all to buy War Bonds and to entertain us, to boot. The most charming segment involves a bunch of pinups coming to life and making GIs do double-takes. A fun slice of WWII-era pop culture.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

Across the Border (film #6 on Blood of Floor Sweepings (LSVideo)). [Category: Industrial]

A bunch of Goodyear employees go to Canada for no other reason, it seems, than to be tourists––and we get to see their home movies! This silent film from 1934 must have had some other purpose than what I've just said, but I can't figure it out. You do get to see some historically interesting footage of old-fashioned farming methods, when the excursioneers (they're always referred to in the title cards with cute names like that) tour the countryside.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

Argentina

Argentina. Standard geography film about the South American country of Argentina. There’s some historical interest here as you get to see ...