9 Cincinnati movies you've never heard of

Posted at 8:00 AM, Dec 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-21 09:24:49-05

Hollywood has again come to the Queen City. Films such as “Miles Ahead,” starring Don Cheadle and Ewan McGregor, the recently released “Carol,” starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, and two films by James Franco -- “The Long Home” and “Goat” -- are just some of the latest movies shot in and around Cincinnati.

While most in the area are familiar with past films shot here – “Rain Man” and “Traffic” being perhaps the most high-profile – there have been plenty of lesser-known Cincinnati flicks.

Ranging from the obscure, the weird, to the just plain bizarre, here are nine other movies either filmed in or about Greater Cincinnati.

Artworks (2002)

A pre-“Sideways” Virginia Madsen stars in this heist movie as a home-security expert who falls for a local art gallery owner played by Rick Rossovich (who had minor roles in “Top Gun” and “The Terminator”). They conspire to steal artwork from Rossovich’s clients, replacing the stolen pieces with counterfeit replicas.

Cincinnati connection: The film was shot Downtown and in Over-the-Rhine, and features local character actor Daniel Von Bargen, who died this past March, as Madsen’s police chief father.

Where to watch: You can buy the DVD here

Immortally Yours, a.k.a. Kiss of the Vampire (2009)

Remember Martin Kove? No? How about the evil sensei of the Cobra Kai dojo in the first three “Karate Kid” movies?

Yeah, thought that’d jog your memory. Kove is perhaps the only recognizable face in the straight-to-DVD schlock vampire film “Immortally Yours.” Also known by its alternate title, “Kiss of the Vampire,” it’s the story of a vampire tired of immortality, who falls for a woman whose scientist father is searching for a cure for death. Throw in a evil coven of vampires, the Illuminati, and a lot of long, plodding glances between characters and you get a film that I’ve tried to watch several times, but have never actually finished.

Cincinnati connection: It was shot in Hamilton and around Butler County.

Where to watch: You can buy the DVD here

Ultimate Force (2005)

This Croatian action film stars Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovi, a martial artist (who has also been a soldier, an anti-terrorist cop and a member of the Croatian parliament). Filipovi plays an international assassin who gets kidnapped by his own agency after he fails an assignment, is forced to fight other assassins Mortal Kombat-style, and has to save his former lover (also an assassin). The plot is a head-scratching jumble, and was released theatrically only in Croatia.

Cincinnati connection: While the movie was shot primarily in Croatia, cinematographer and Cincinnati resident Jeff Barklage filmed several shots of Filipovi’s assassin riding his motorcycle through the Lytle Tunnel and downtown, which were used to double as a generic Eastern European city.

Where to watch: You can stream “Ultimate Force” on Amazon Prime.

Vamps: Deadly Dreamgirls (1995) and Blood Sisters: Vamps 2 (2002)

What it’s about: I’m lumping “Vamps” – which rocker Alice Cooper called “The Gone With the Wind of vampire stripper movies” – and its sequel together.

Yes, vampire stripper films. Directed by late local B-film auteur Mark Burchett, the movies revolve around a young woman named Heather who starts working at a Cincinnati strip club called Vamps, which, coincidentally, is staffed by vampire strippers. A Catholic priest named Seamus (played by my friend Paul Morris) is torn between saving Heather from the vampires and falling in love with her.

Cincinnati connection: The first “Vamps” was filmed at what is now the Monmouth Theatre in Newport, while the sequel was filmed on Vine Street.

Where to watch: You can buy the DVD here

Seven Below (2012)

What it’s about: It's a supernatural story about a group of strangers who are trapped in a house where brutal murders were committed 100 years before, starring Ving Rhames and Val Kilmer. The most memorable thing about the film to me is the day I spent on set, chatting with English actor Luke Goss and nearly destroying some of Kilmer’s footage by dropping a camera memory card onto the pavement. Oops!

Cincinnati connection: “Seven Below” was filmed in Cincinnati and Goshen.

Where to watch: “Seven Below” is streaming on both Netflix and Hulu.

A Mom for Christmas (1990)

What it’s about: This made-for-TV Disney holiday film stars Olivia Newton-John and Doris Roberts (Raymond’s mother from “Everybody Loves Raymond”). A young girl whose mother died years before is wandering around a department store and encounters a magical store clerk named Philomena(Roberts). The girl wishes for a store mannequin to come to life and be her mother during Christmas. Her wish is granted and the mannequin, played by Newton-John, literally barges into the girl’s home one stormy night.

Cincinnati connection: It was filmed in Cincinnati, with the old Shillito’s store on Seventh Street Downtown serving as the film’s magical retail store.

Where to watch: You can find the entire film on YouTube here.

Babes in Toyland (1986)

“Welcome to glorious Cincinnati, queen of Ohio’s alpine ski resorts!” shouts a pre-Bill and Ted Keanu Reeves before belting out a song about our fair Porkopolis in this made-for TV film.

It also stars a young Drew Barrymore, “Empty Nest’s” Richard Mulligan and “The Karate Kid’s” Pat Morita. A young girl finds herself transported away from the Queen City to the magical world of Toyland, where the running gag is that no one in Toyland can correctly pronounce the word “Cincinnati.” Unlike most of the other films mentioned in this story, “Babes in Toyland” was not filmed in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati connection: Drew Barrymore and Keanu singing songs about Cincinnati (or “Cinci-whatski,” as it’s called by the residents of Toyland).

Where to watch: You can find the entire film on YouTube here

Watch the C-I-N-C-I-N-N-A-T-I song here.

The Black Dove (2012)

What it’s about: This one’s a bit of a mystery. “The Black Dove” is the story of a has-been musician, played by “The Deer Hunter’s” John Savage. He's recently been released from prison, and goes searching for both his daughter and his rare guitar. The film also stars Sean Young, best known as Harrison Ford’s robotic love interest in “Blade Runner.”

While the film was premiered in 2012 at AMC Newport, it doesn’t appear to have been released other than on the festival circuit, and there do not appear to be copies available for purchase.

Cincinnati connection: “The Black Dove” was shot in Cincinnati.

Where to watch: Your guess is as good as ours.

Anomalisa (2015)

What it’s about: Written and co-directed by Charlie Kaufman, who wrote “Being John Malkovich” and “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” among other films, “Anomalisa” is the story of an author, Michael, who checks into a hotel while on a book tour. Everyone he meets at the hotel and during his book lecture seems to speak with the same, monotone voice. Except of course, one woman he encounters at the hotel, Lisa.

Being a Charlie Kaufman film, it’s sure to be a heartbreaking, mind-bending film. And it was done entirely in stop-motion with puppets. That’s right.

Cincinnati connection: The film takes place in a fictional Cincinnati hotel, and Michael’s estranged wife and son both live in the Queen City.

Where to watch: “Anomalisa” will be released in select cities in December with a wide release in January.