“Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace” (1996)

2 04 2010

Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996)
“God made him simple. Science made him a god. Now he wants revenge.”

Big budget flicks are rare on this blog for obvious reasons. Few studios are willing to commit any kind of budget to the crappy scripts behind most of these films, but Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996) is the exception that proves the rule. It is a sequel, which means it is already hobbled in a way that dooms it to be inferior to the original. To make matters worse, it is sequel that carries over with none of the original actors. The general rule in the film business is that if you want your sequel to be a mind sucking, vacuous mess, you make sure to introduce completely new actors in the roles of both old and new characters to permanently make the plot incomprehensible and confusing. Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace does this with aplomb and earns a spot on the IMDB Bottom 100 list, clocking in at #69 (the most smutty number). The film is, apparently, also Beyond Cyberspace, which means that the sequel will probably be relying upon a plot heavy with nonsensical techspeak and overbearing special effects. The only actor of consequence I recognize from this mess is Kevin Conway who must have been desperate for work to hop onto this project. If all the original actors either bailed or couldn’t be paid enough money, its usually a bad sign. That, and has anyone actually heard of Lawnmower Man 1: Contained within Cyberspace? Really, this movie had nothing going for it.

Right off the bat we are exposed to the double whammy of a reliance upon unintelligible, overbearing effects and the lack of any sort of explanation of what the fuck we are actually seeing. I realize this is a sequel, but even so, you can’t just drop us into a bizarre, ultra-verdant world littered with stupid, mid-90′s computer effects and flying adolescents and expect the audience to understand what the hell the writing and production staff are trying to convey. There’s shattering backgrounds, digitally-appearing motorcycles, a dog controlling a computer system, and a bunch of teens dressed in weird knit clothes and silly hats. It’s like getting high and watching a Nickelodeon special from the 90′s. None of it makes sense and you yearn for the stable presence of Linda Ellerbee.

And then there’s that one sort of famous guy who pops out of nowhere after a completely unexplained motorcycle chase through an exploding jungle. I’m assuming he’s somewhat famous as he seems familiar. For what, I do not know, but its clearly not this movie. Oh, thank you IMDB, its Matt Frewer, who has appeared on TV shows and had a bit part in Watchmen (2009). Thanks to IMDB I also know he is the main chracter, Jobe, who was made simple by God, or something to that effect. Really all I know about Jobe comes from the film’s tagline and the spangly gold suit he’s wearing. He may be a Vegas showgirl lost in cyberspace for all I know. COME ON, WRITERS, GIVE ME SOME FUCKING CONTEXT HERE!

Or I guess you could just throw another horde of unexplained characters at me. That’s cool too. I like my film viewing to be like wading through a murky swamp of disconnected, overpowering digital graphics, children who look like rejects from Gullah, Gullah Island (1994), and a super-shady corporate and government alliance back-lit by a horde of blue spotlights. Yes. This is just what I want at the five minute mark of an 78 minute film. I want to be so thoroughly confused and bombarded with disconnected characters and images that I have no hope of ever understanding what the actual fuck is supposed to be happening. But, please, keep dazzling me with bright lights and early CGI. No, really, please do. I love the strategy at work here: dazzle the audience with garbage visuals and vacuous characters to hide the plotless mess you’ve cobbled together. There’s a reaosn you only did shit TV movies after this, Farhad Mann. Its because, when given the reigns to this movie you drove it straight into the ground and then pissed all over it.

Oh my God, kid, just go form a boy band already before the nineties are gone forever. Go. Just go. It was clearly your calling, because your whiny, nasally voice and shit acting skills give you no reason to stay in film. Also, this film is going to kill your career in the crib. No one ever made it big after portraying a character the audience knows nothing about, nor cares two shits about. He’s apparently back in the real world riding his motorbike through the desert to a cruddy old hut inhabited by a poor man’s Don Henley. He’s there to warn this Dr. Benjamin Trace character about Jobe, the evil corporation and the “Chiron chip” they are making. It has something to do with virtual reality, the internet, and crappy plot devices. Dr. Trace tells the kid to scram because he was done with this shit after the first crappy movie, but ends up getting involved anyway.

Then we get some scenes ripped off from Blade Runner (1982). Honestly, a homage is supposed to be a subtle thing, guys. Dr. Trace finds the kids in a subway car in an abandoned tunnel in a futuristic, shitty version of “The Boxcar Kids” novels. The kids and he exchange some “witty banter” designed to make the audience like the kids and identify with them, but all it makes me want to do is go out and kick a street urchin in the face. We also learn a bit more about Jobe, who was apparently a simpleton before some science-types got to him and made him a tortured, man-boy genius who is now building an entire virtual world. He also used to be the kid’s mom’s “lawnmower man,” which may or may not be sexual.

So the kid goes into the virtual world by “jacking into the VR,” which also sounds dirty. Though not as dity as jacking off it and the random incest jokes made by Jobe once he gets inside. Dr. Trace refuses to come in which irritates Jobe, who then goes apeshit when Trace won’t give him “Egypt,” which is apparently the codeword for something and a central part of the plot that is also lost on the audience. Also, Jobe waxes poetic on the Chiron chip before going crazy and pulling out a virtual sword to virtually stab virtual boy band kid. Unfortunately the VR is somehow real and it could kill him? I really don’t know, all I know is Trace pulls him out of VR and the obnoxious, overly-used world of graphics to return him to the hyper-stylized, blue lamp lit realm of the subway system.

Jobe unleashes the might of his control of the subway system from his chair in the VR Corp to cause the train to come towards the kids’ car. Dr. Trace leaps into action and sets the car on a different course, but not before it explodes unleashing a ball of fire throughout all the tunnels and causing the children to flee through them like, oily, greasy, dirty sewer rats with bad 90′s haircuts. They manage to escape through a manhole as Jobe smirks like a big smirking ass and the audience wonders what the hell they’ve stumbled onto. Who is Dr. Trace? What is the Chiron Chip? Why is VR World? Who are these kids, again? And why the hell should we care at all?

Also, why does Dr. Trace suddenly have a southern accent and drive a kidnapper’s van? And why is he taking a bunch of street urchins to the library at what looks like 3 AM? But you know what, I’m not even going to worry about all these basic plot questions that should’ve been remotely addressed by the writers because I’ll tell you what, those effects are wonderful! Oh yes, I could just watch this movie for the effects, which is, apparently, what the producers were intending/hoping audiences would do. Anyway, they dazzle us with more graphics, some cyber-stalking, and a bunch of fake hacker/computer speak that is meant to tell us that Dr. Trace is trying to find out where Jobe is at in the real world. Also, they find some Dr. Cori Plat who is like a total babe or something, I don’t know.

So the street urchin kids break into a Future Radioshack to steal some electronics for a poorly-explained reason. In the meantime, Jobe is having more fun with public transportation, this time causing a passenger jet to crash in some sort of retaliation over a Senator rejecting funding for VR. Its the most intense funding battle ever and Jobe just cackles to himself and then has to virtually kill one of his fellow scientists named “Guillermo” for being “nosy.” He kills him by tapping him on the head with a giant sword, which manifests itself by frying his eyeballs in real life. Also, they dazzle us with more meaningless effects and Jobe’s love of spangly gold clothes.

So they track down the hot doctor lady, because every movie needs one. And she and Trace also probably had a thing back in the day, because these plot lines are so predictable. He distracts her with his new accent of choice (Spanish) as the urchins attach a tracking device to her car and generally just roll around the parking garage floor like a bunch of dirty ferrets. They track her to the ~evil~ corporate headquarters that is foreboding and ominously lit by moving spotlights. Then there are some arguments and catfights between Dr. Codi and some other blond chick with strangely cut hair and whose only clear role in the film is to provide cleavage and cat fighting. And then there is some awkward arguing while peeing in the bathroom? I don’t know what was going on, mostly because I was too fixated on the fact that the writer honestly felt the men’s room was a necessary setting for the scene between the CEO of the company (Kevin Conway) and Dr. Cori to have a chat.

And then some bullshit happens leading to Dr. Trace and little Mister Boy Band sneaking into the corporate HQ using Dr. Cori’s stolen ID card to steal the “Chiron Chip.” Unfortunately, the security firm contracted for this joint also did private security work for Nazi Germany. Fortunately, they also were contracted out to Mussolini’s Italy. Some random fist-fighting and lasers and gunfire and Jobe controlling shit with his brain and Dr. Cori showing up, happens. Dr. Trace manages to smash a TV on someone’s head and then escape down a garbage chute reminiscent of a scene made almost twenty years earlier. Dr. Trace is no Han Solo, however that kid is almost annoying enough to be Luke Skywalker.

Then we get some more of the Dr. Trace/Dr. Cori love story that no one really gives a rat’s ass about because this movie is full of characters that are as hollow and uninteresting as a hole in the ground. They’re living rough in Dr. Trace’s cabin, which, when filled with the children, is more like a halfway house for a bunch of adolescent Vanilla Ice groupies. They also discover that, through a plot hole designed to further extend this clusterfuck of a movie, they stole a fake “Chiron Chip,” which means the past 53 minutes and eight seconds of this movie have been as much of a futile was of time for the protagonists as they were for me! Oh, joyous day!

In the meantime, the evil CEO Walters and Jobe are celebrating the start of the VR world with an elaborate virtual ceremony designed to lure the audience into staring at the cacophony of images and away from the gaping holes in the plot, terrible acting, and awful one-liners. This virtual world is supposed to be menacing, but its never made clear why other than Jobe’s occasional forays into public mayhem. Of course, those were done before the VR world was ready, so doesn’t that make the VR world a moot point? Isn’t all the danger from Jobe’s being locked into the “Beyond Cyberspace” (whatever the fucknuts that is) or am I just asking too much of this movie? Just unplug the Jobe guy and end this!

And we discover that Jobe’s only real powers come from his random, if very real, control over any and all forms of transportation. He smashes a helicopter into the side of Dr. Trace’s crappy hut thing and there’s more explosions and fire. New Line Cinema really broke the pyrotechnic/bad CGI budget on this one. So, after Jobe tries to kill them all with a helicopter, he then turns to causing meyhem by gaining control of credit cards, ATMS, banks, public water and power all in a plot to take control of the world and establish himself as the “new messiah.” It would’ve been nice if we had heard about this plot a little sooner, but apparently the writers and director were just making this up as they went.

So Jobe’s boss, Walker, gets pissy and Jobe ends up taking over corporate security which kills Walker because they mistake him for a terrorist in the discoteque-like halls of an alarm-riddled VR Corp HQ. Seriously, the code red alert for that place looks like a rave. All that they needed was some ecstasy. Also there is a random bike chase through virtual world as Dr. Trace becomes the reluctant leader of a children’s crusade to stop Jobe. Honestly, he’s got to be boned, since the forerunners to Hanson are bound to be useless in combat. Anyway, the bike chase gives them more excuses for shinies, explosions, and unnecessary “Whooping.” It also makes me completely forget about the fact that there should be a logical plot established from the beginning. By now I’m just happy with any scene that makes sense for more than the first…oh…twelve seconds.

Anyway, there’s a sword fight between Jobe and Dr. Trace who looks like a cross between an extra from Dances With Wolves and a poor man’s Jack Sparrow. He also cannot compete with the golden spangles of Jobe’s outfit, which even Elton John wouldn’t wear. They do the whole sword fight over a bottomless (virtual) pit thing before Jobe gets Dr. Trace on the ropes, only for the spry doctor to come back and win it for the good guy’s from behind as all the stupid little kids stand around and do diddly-squat. Jobe explodes in a ball of over-produced, digital, green explosions as he somehow destroys himself through a plot device that is completely unclear, and maddeningly related to the “Egypt” thing from the beginning that still has yet to get any context.

Thus with the enemy defeated and a cornucopia of virtual explosions, we get back to where this movie started: with flying children. They escape out of the VR World and this movie comes to a close, right? WRONG! No, we have to deal with the lead boy’s past affections for the “regressing” Jobe who is lying on the floor in the lab muttering and dying…I guess. Oh, and that CEO, Walker, he comes back and randomly captures the stupid Hanson boy look-alike and holds him ransom for the chip. Jobe in his twitching knocks Walter over though into a pile of live wires that electrocutes him. So much has happened in this last scene that I don’t care about, and I think it has to be a record for CaTC. I have never cared so little about characters I know next to nothing about in my entire time reviewing awful movies.

Anyway, the end is supposed to be touching…or something. I really don’t know because, well, the context still isn’t there. 73 minutes into the film, and what do I know about the film? Squat. Except that there is apparently a Lawnmower Man, whatever the fuck that is. I realize it is a sequel, but seriously, you need to catch the audience up somehow. You can’t rely on glitzy effects and the typical plot of “Children V. Corporation” without, well, characters. And a plot. And a clear villain. Also, WHAT THE FUCK IS A LAWNMOWER MAN? Seriously! Also, we meet the children first, but they become background characters to Dr. Trace, Jobe, and Dr. Cori. And…you know what, nevermind. Just suffice it to say that this movie is crap and probably cost a lot of money to make. So it is one expensive pile of shit all whored up with CGI and pyrotechnics. At the end of the day though…still a pile of shit.

Breakdown!

Best Sexual Healing Moment:
Dr. Trace and Dr. Cori make-out in front of a room full of adolescents.

Best Tie-In To Real Events:
Virtual Reality is a bad thing. Especially for movies that rely upon it as a crutch.

Best Un-Real Event:
Probably the 95% of this film that was CGI.

Best Plot Twist:
THERE IS NOT REAL PLOT AND ALL THE CHARACTERS HAVE NO DEPTH WHATSOEVER! OH, LOOK, SOMETHING DIGITALLY RENDERED!!!

Best Family Moment:
I’m assuming Trace and Cori adopted the herd of children and Jobe into their family. I honestly don’t know though. Maybe they all hated each other deep down. We’d never know because the character development was written by someone with a severe social disorder.

Worst Cast/Crewmember:
Ooooh, tough call here kidlets. I’m going to go with Austin O’Brien because he played a character named “Peter Parkette,” which really offends me for some reason.

Best Quote:
Dr. Cori Platt: Jobe, what happened to the memory?
Jobe: I forget.

Well, I really don’t know what to say. It certainly deserves the spot it has, as the movie is utter garbage. But what makes it most mind-numbing is the fact that you can tell a lot of money went into this stinker. I mean, a lot more than I’m used to in these flicks. All the same, it was pretty damn awful. Hobbled from the beginning by a number of “Rules of the Sequel,” this movie never recovered, becoming a shitty movie, devoid of a message, devoid of characters, devoid of anything really. It’s just one, big, expensive nothing. For 74 minutes. Choke on yourself, Farhad. I’m giving this stinker a 2.5/10, which is probably generous, but I’ve still seen worse. But not by much. On a side note, I’ve decided to make this blog’s posts more regular. In other words, you can expect a new movie each week on Fridays. Ideally, midnight Thursday. Until next Friday!





“The Beast of Yucca Flats” (1961)

4 03 2010

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961):
“A clock ticks. A beautiful girl. A hidden killer. The clock stops. There is no connection.”

Well, the last movie I watched was so bearable that I had an immediate desire to backtrack as quickly as possible to my normal fare for this blog, which means nearly unwatchable schlock. Of course, I wanted to go big, not just a typically bad b-movie. No, I needed a Tour-de-Force of awful and only one man comes to mind when such a phrase is uttered: The Legendary Coleman Francis. And when I say legendary, I mean legendarily bad. Francis has such eye-gouging epics on his resume as the unintelligible mess that is Night Train to Mundo Fine (1966) and the The Skydivers (1963), both of which are rather low on the IMDB Worst 100 list (at #2 and #6) respectively. Francis’ first outing, The Beat of Yucca Flats clocks in at #20 with a 1.6/10 rating, which makes it his own personal Tour-de-Force. Honestly, this will likely mean that this is the worst film I have ever watched for this blog. It is, I am almost certain, the lowest IMDB ranking for any of the 40 films I have reviewed thus far. I can be certain it is the worst movie I will have ever watched for one reason: this film ended the career of Tor Johnson, a resilient actor whose career survived such perils as an earlier review of mine, Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) and an episode of the appalling Rocky Jones, Space Ranger serial. Now, I think it is fairly safe to assume that if Plan 9 does not kill your career, you are one hell of an actor. That is, unless, The Beast of Yucca Flats captures you in its web of Zen-like dreams from the American southwest. This film killed Tor Johnson. Will it kill me? Only time will tell.

Yucka, yucka!

Apparently there is a plot to this movie. Or there was supposed to be one, but it got lost in the mail, or on the side of the road in New Mexico, or wherever they were shooting. What we are left with is a black and white mess of meaningless subliminal messaging (so, the worst, most useless kind), the loud, grating, ticking of clocks, the hulking figure of a radiated Tor Johnson, and a topless woman being strangled in her bed. Ladies and Gentlemen, I may be in over my head. An inexplicable topless scene in the opening seconds? The ticking of a clock for a soundtrack? Such bad cinematography that half of the opening sequence is a blurry close-up of Tor Johnson’s ass? Yes, my friends, this is Coleman Francis at his finest, ironing out and laying out his signature style for future films. I’m immediately intimidated and repulsed. Bile rises in my throat. I can hear the sounds of thousands of children dying in agony. This, my friends, is….THE BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS!

Tor Johnson in his pivotal role as a...MONSTER.

Strange narration. Only sentence fragments. Russian Scientist. Briefcase. Escape from Hungary. Russians want secrets. Something about Nukes. A plane in the night. Or is it day? Cars have their lights on and everything is blurry, but that is one bright moon. Perhaps in Coleman Francis’ mind, the world is a perpetual haze of confusion, haiku, and gloom. He is setting the tone masterfully. Right from the start you know this movie will be utter garbage, and, as a result, expect little of it. It’s like that girlfriend/boyfriend you settled for Sophomore year. You know the one. Kind of boring, a bit slow. Grainy. Yeah, that is this movie. Like then, don’t get your hopes up for much.

Communists! ...probably!

The narration continues: a slurred droning of incomplete sentences and unfinished thoughts. Much like the case with the plot, someone forgot to sew all the disparate nonsense together into something resembling an intelligible film. There is a gun battle at the airport, apparently the Southwest is crawling with KGB agents. That’s why Southwest Airlines doesn’t charge you for extra bags, I guess. The dialogue is surreal, not because it is choppy and free of any known sentence structures and conventions, but because whoever is issuing it is never in the frame. The person it is directed at is shown, but the speaker is always cut out. This was, apparently, to avoid miss-syncing as the audio was added later, after filming. The result is a strange gerrymandering of the audio and images on the screen that is done for an hour straight. It’s one, long, not-so-elaborate ruse that makes it look like a silent film at times.

Funeral procession or car chase?

There is a car chase, I think. The only reason I have for assuming this is there are two cars following one another with exceptionally frenetic and bombastic music in the background. It is not clear if it is night or day. Perhaps the camera just had cheesecloth on the lens. And then we get a dark stretch of road and the narrator has returned, muttering and slurring: “Flag on the moon. How did it get there? This is not my beautiful house. My beautiful wife. Secret data. Pictures of the moon. Secret data. Never before outside the Kremlin.” It’s like the chorus to a Talking Heads song as covered by the Nixon Tapes. The chase leads them to “Yucca Flats” where there is another gun battle as the cars stop. The doctor flees as the KGB kills his guards. And by flees, I mean walks away at a leisurely pace. The gunshots don’t match the action on the screen. No further Haiku. I’m suddenly tempted to review in Haiku.

"Rawr." - The Beast

Yucca Flats. A doughy man wanders. A pasty man wanders. My attention wanders. Something, something, A-bomb. Tor Johnson looks just as confused as I am. Is this movie going anywhere? How will it get there? If the KGB kills a man in the desert will anyone care? Another blurry close-up of Tor Johnson, this time of his midriff and cotton dress shirt. A bright flash of light! Is God intervening? Is he ending the film? Or did the entire array of Sodium Lamps for the filming explode all at once? Perhaps Coleman Francis’ brain processes just emit a ton of light, just like before a fuse pops. Alas, no, as the narrator haiku-ed it was “A-bomb.”

The only known briefcase to survive a nuclear explosion. That's som good leatherette.

Briefcase on fire. KGB dead. Briefcase smoldering. Needless, fragmented repetition. A nuclear blast and God is not as merciful as I had hoped. The movie marches on. I could object to the many plot holes in this situation, but if I did that this review would become a novella. Burning briefcase and smoldering hand cuts awkwardly to a family driving in their station wagon through the desert. More robotic narration. A family on a picnic. Mother smoking. Child fussing. Dad being gruff and authoritative. Probably about to get mauled by a savagely radiated Tor Johnson, or just by bad scripting. I’d say this movie could use a good mauling, but Coleman Francis already accomplished that.

Tor Johnson's dehabilitating skin condition was pretty bad by this point in his career.

Some more close-ups of objects we can’t really perceive very well. I guess it is the side of Tor Johnson’s radiated head. Or is it a basketball with a skin condition? He strangles the father, then the woman. Her dead body’s chest still heaves with panicked breathing. Like me, she probably wants to run away from this movie as fast as she can. Still, she is one of the worst corpses I’ve seen in a movie. The Beast, Tor, picks her body up and lumbers off the road toward the desert and we get more narration. The only dialogue so far in this movie has been one line: “Dr. Javorsky, get in the car.” Everything is so black and grainy. Is my vision finally failing me? Also, this soundtrack has some sort of anti-social disorder. It’s either inappropriately giddy or overly bombastic.

THRILL...as shit happens.

We get some more narration, because a character can’t be introduced in this movie without a fragmented explanation of who they are. He’s a patrolman. He can’t act. Neither can the other guy. He reports the murder, the car takes off. That car, by the way, far and away the best actor in this film. Granted he was typecast, but still. Disconnected images fill my mind. The dialogue returns! Stiffly delivered, poorly-written. Like the rest of this movie it is choppy, nonsensical and makes me want to stab my ears. The “policeman” looks more like Shane than a cop. An awkward close-up on the policeman. “Joe Dobson. Caught in the wheels of progress.” We’re treated to Joe’s inner monologue, which is a scattered, disconnected report by the narrator about footprints, the desert, something about wheels. I just don’t understand anymore. What was Coleman Francis thinking? And what have I gotten myself into? AND HOW HAVE ONLY FIFTEEN MINUTES PASSED?

Tor Johnson likes the ladies. :-9

The desert wind is often the only sound in this film. Much like Coleman Francis’ head, the film is an empty shell, buffeted by the winds of idiocy. The Beast drags the woman through the desert. Is she alive or dead? I originally thought her dead, but he’s all sniffing her hair and up in her biz-naz. I don’t know anymore. This film is so grainy and dark its almost like Coleman Francis’ vision was for no one to actually see his movie. Just experience its visceral sound of nothingness occasionally interrupted by inappropriate music and dialogue spoken by off-screen characters. Breasts. A half naked man. More breasts. Fragmented dialogue between two characters hiding in the muddy distance of a shot. Everything in this movie is fragmented, disconnected. Is it a commentary on reality, or just awful editing and screen direction? Perhaps it is poetry. Perhaps I’ve gone mad.

Jim and Joe: Two ordinary shits.

Jim and Joe. Two ordinary cops. Two ordinary American cops. Did some shit in Korea. Atom Bomb. Progress. Yes, yes, Mr. Narrator, we know. Jim and Joe find the body of the woman in the cave of the Beast. She is still alive, but barely. Jim or Joe makes a remark: “Feel that pulse. Doctor’s can’t help her, but maybe Angels can. Maybe Angels can.” Is this movie real? And then there is a scene with coyotes and pigs, and kids feeding soda pop to them because they are “Not yet caught up in the city. Progress. Feed soda to pigs.” Honestly, what is going on? My brain cannot connect all this disparate images and words into a coherent train of thought. This whole movie is like water bugs on cocaine. Damnit! Now it has me making allusions that make no sense. I just can’t figure out if this is the result of a bold, unique vision by Coleman Francis that ended up looking like shit, or if it was simply Coleman Francis’ shitty vision that became shitty. Either way I’m the one left eating shit.

This movie can't really afford a plane sequence, so how will they get out of this?

How does this movie have enough money for a parachuting scene? That’s right, in order to kill the monster, Jim or Joe will have to parachute onto a plateau and “Shoot first, ask questions later” as the cliche-laden dialogue says. Or maybe its: “Shoot first. Ask Questions. Later.” Delivery, after all, is important to meaning. As it stands, this movie means a lot of nothing. Confused, muddled, I-want-to-slap-it-in-the-privates nothing. It’s the disjointed vision of an addled mind. The worst part is, it addles you as you go on. There’s a family. In the desert. Children lost. Go to find them. Their shots with dialogue are cut off at the shoulders so the heads are out of frame. I couldn’t make this stuff up. This movie is a lesson in how not to make a film. It makes Plan 9 look Oscar-worthy.

If only the filmmakers had heeded this sign and given up.

So the kids run off into the missile range. Jim or Joe is about to parachute out of a plane. The Beast is nowhere to be seen. There are still, somehow, twenty more minutes of this film to endure. The parents are the most ineffectual search party ever. They just sort of walk around frowning. The father chain smokes. They hardly say a word, except for a few feeble calls to their children which are either out of sync or dubbed in while the camera is focused on the backs of their heads. The father finds the missile sign and looks vaguely panicked, in that way only bad actors can. This is the most consecutive intelligible plot the movie has. About five minutes of concerned parents wandering through sagebrush interspersed with the two blandest sheriffs this side of Mayberry.

BAM! BAM! BAM!

North by Northwest? Cheap charter planes? Worst shot in any police force? This sums up the next, seemingly endless scene that looks like it was terribly copied from North by Northwest. Sheriff Jim/Joe shoots at the father of the lost children from the plane, apparently mistaking him for the Beast? It seems hard to do, the father is pretty spry and not terrifying-looking. A shot. A miss. A shot. A miss. A re-used camera angle. The world on loop. Touch a button. Shoddy editing happens. In the end, the sheriff finally triumphs and shoots the guy, who tumbles down a ledge landing sadly on his face. The narrator takes the time to chime in with a pithy bit of wisdom: “Shoot first. Ask questions later.” And the kernels of wisdom just keep on coming: “A man runs. Someone shoots him. An innocent victim. Trapped in the wheels of justice.”

If this movie doesn't end soon I'm going to slap a baby.

Shot through the heart. And you’re to blame. Still, I can go out and run a marathon. Seriously, how does this guy do it? He stumbles around for a few minutes, looking vaguely wounded, but its never clear where as he alternates which limbs he is clutching/dragging. He suddenly runs back to his car, mumbles about getting help and then takes off, leaving his wife behind in an area with a guy who chased him down by plane and shot him. But, as the narrator would say: “Shot through the leg. The ______(adj.) of man. Progress.” Honestly, the narration, which was apparently done by Coleman Francis himself, makes absolutely no sense. It’s just a scatter-shot, string of unconnected thoughts, possibly brought about by heavy drinking. Indeed, his slurring would seem to indicate as much. Either that or he is an exceptionally pretentious and stoned beatnik. It’s most similar to a badly narrated docu-drama.

"RAWR." - The Beast

A monster waving a stick. Fleeing children. A monster threatening with a stick. A class-action lawsuit. The monster finally finds the children, bellows like a hungry hippo and chases after them, feebly waving a big stick and groaning. Also, it has magically turned back to night. Or what passes for night, anyway, which is a grainy sort of blur. They run around for a bit, there is some inappropriate music and even more inappropriate groaning, until finally the dumb kids hide themselves in the Beast’s cave. In a real horror movie this would provide tension. Here it just passes by like a fart in the wind. An inconsequential moment in a pastiche of a movie full of them.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, JUST END!

The children escape and in a fit of what some would call uncontrollable anger, but I say uncomfortable anger, the beast harmlessly throws a rock. This whole movie makes me uncomfortable. And a bit confused. More than a bit confused, actually. This entire movie is a confusing, intimate look into the mind of a madman. Coleman Francis must be the craziest fucker on the planet, or just a genius on a completely different plane of existence. A plain where day and night are in constant flux. A plain where “Progress” can be said alone in a sentence and make perfect sense. A plain where random topless-ness, strangulation, and cheap maneuvers to avoid syncing dialogue. Basically, this universe is where good movies don’t exist.

Oh thank God, already.

A dead Beast. Howling wind. A noted scientist. A jack rabbit. This is what we are left to ponder. And by ponder, I mean promptly work to forget, much like the rest of this film. The only problem is, you can’t forget it. Like an exceptionally poorly translated bit of Asian poetry it has this odd Zen quality that sticks with you. You want to understand it. You want to know what it all means. You want to know what Coleman Francis was thinking when he made this movie. You want to know what you are supposed to take away from this mess. There has to be something. Why? Because the fragile human mind cannot accept that all of this disjointed, oddly philosophical musing and disparate imagery was for nothing. There has to be some meaning. Something. Anything. But no. Only a ticking clock. A nude woman. The cry of the coyote. Hungry pigs. Soda pop. And the whistle of the desert wind. The Beast of Yucca flats leaves you haunted, confused, and in a state of disbelief that such a film could be made. But it was. The Beast of Yucca Flats. A director’s inhumanity to man.

Breakdown!

Best Sexual Healing Moment:
The naked woman at the beginning has had her breasts immortalized forever in one of the worst movies of all time. Some may see this as a bad career move for her breasts, but in my opinion, the rest of this film guarantees that they will be looked back upon more fondly than any other part of this flick.

Best Tie-In To Real Events:
Touch a button. Things happen. A scientist becomes a beast.

Best Un-Real Event:

In this poorly woven tapestry of plot holes and nonsense? Everything.

Best Plot Twist:
Flag on the moon. How did it get there?

Best Family Moment:
Family vacation. Chain smoking parents. Stupid children. Why do people copulate?

Worst Cast/Crewmember:
Everyone in this movie is terrible. Everyone. Its remarkable since the narrator has the most lines, hardly anyone actually has to act, and its so grainy that you can’t even tell what is going on anyway. The cars are the best actors in this movie.

Best Quote:
Narrator: “Nothing bothers some people, not even flying saucers.”

Normally I wrap up with a final critique and score, but today I think I need to address a question I get a lot. Not for you all, but for me. My own personal question: why do I do this to myself? I just don’t know. See a movie. Things happen. A college student turns into a Beast. 1.0/1o stars. Easily the worst I’ve seen, but oddly poignant.





“Evil Brain from Outer Space” (1964)

11 02 2010

Evil Brain from Outer Space (1964):
“THRILL at an hour and eighteen minutes of man junk in leotards!”

February is traditionally a dreary month. The time of year that makes me question whether getting up in the morning is worth it, whether I will ever see the sun again, or why even though it is the shortest month of the year, it seems to drag for an eternity of gray, gloomy, cold hell. This February, I’ve taken a different tack to dealing with the horror that is February. That is, I’ve decided to put it in perspective by watching as many appalling movies as possible. I’m thinking that if I compound the horror I will somehow negate it. It’s like math and adding negative numbers or some bullshit. I have no idea, I promptly forgot math the second someone gave me a calculator. I, however, have not forgotten my duty to CatC and its, perhaps, non-existent audience. Have I driven you all away yet? No. Jesus, you people are almost as masochistic as I am. Well, let’s see if we can fix that with today’s flick, 1964′s Japanese Sci-Fi epic starring the superhero Starman: “Evil Brain from Outer Space.” I’ve had some lovely experiences with Japanese films before, if you’ll recall my past torture sessions: Warning from Space (1956) and Gammera the Invincible (1966). They are about to be added to, with this next addition sure to melt your brains and make your accelerator stick at unsafe speeds!

This sort of thing is always a warning sign for the viewer.

Oh boy, this is going to be a good one. It’s looking already like it will be The Prince of Space‘s retarded younger brother. If you’ve seen this movie you’ll know exactly what I mean, and are likely in the process of hitting “Home” on your browser. I understand. Fly, you fools, fly! I, however, must do battle with this Balrog of a movie. Also, I promise never to use Lord of the Rings lines ever again to describe my review process. Anyway, the Evil Brain from Outer Space opens up as most films do, with a credits sequence. Of course, this one is narrated, to fill us in on all the complex plot details of the finely-woven tapestry of a movie we are about to witness.

The Space Council of Trent meets to consider the ramifcations of two Space Popes.

What we get is the story of an assassinated leader who had his brain preserved even though his body died. Using his massive brainpower he managed to save his brain even as he lay dying from wounds inflicted by a “De-regulated robot” he was able to construct a device to save his mind. How he did this without hands, remains a mystery. Bitter and super-intelligent, the brain now wishes to control the galaxy and decides to take over Earth. His council of fellow aliens/robots/shit costumed co-stars meet on the “Emerald Planet in the Marpat Galaxy” to discuss how to best control the Earth. They discuss how to infiltrate Earth using the brain guy and prepare an invasion army to follow. Also, half the council look like Cuisinarts with various attachments for heads.

The Starfish Cardinal objects loudly.

The aliens are going to use nuclear weapons to destroy the planet and…wait a minute…is that one of the Starmen from Warning from Space lurking among the invasion council? Can it be that every Japanese sci-fi movie is little more than the recycled cobbling together of all its predecessors? Have they no shame? This council in its entirety is little more than an assemblage of stupid costumes recycled from past movies or made from kitchen appliances. Suddenly this movie holds some promise for entertainment. Apparently this council is worried that radiation from the nuclear blasts will spill out into space and…well, I’m not sure what else. It’s not very clear, all we have are a bunch of aliens (or are they robots?) sitting flapping around at a semi-circular table as the camera pans back anf forth over them hypnotically.

The awe-inspiring Space Pope and his papal space court.

So, apparently the alien council are not actually bad guys? Oh, I get it. It’s one of those alien movies where the two different groups of aliens use Earth to wage their proxy wars of oppression against one another under the guise of “Saving Earth” from the other. Honestly, I’d rather just be destroyed by the brain guy than accept help from this alien council. They look like the kind of alien council a kid would invent at age 6. You know, the kind with stupid hats. Also, the number of giant starfish people has jumped from one to four in about three seconds flat. Either they’re breeding, or someone is going around cutting them in half just to be a dick. Whatever it is, this council of starmen, anthropomorphic chess pieces, and toaster ovens with bodies has elected to send to Earth a man armed with a special watch that allows him to do three things: (1) Fly through space. (2) Have super-strength. And…

The Space Pope chooses, YOU, small, castrati boy with a penis for a hat!

(3) Have a small, penis-like protrusion coming out of his laytex jumpsuit. Yes, this is the Emerald Council’s awe-inspiring hero! The Starman! He’s basically a proto-teletubby. You know, like the one that also has a penis-like thing on its head. So too does the Starman harness the power of the phallus. Does this mean that the Starwoman has a Georgia O’Keeffe painting on her head? I fear that question will never be answered because, for Evil Brain from Space we are totally and completely focused on one kind of sexual organ and that is the phallus. Unless of course you count the asexual reproduction of the Starfish people.

Hey look!  It's some dude, doing something!  At night!

The Starman leaves for Earth, dressed like a complete buffoon in order to “blend in.” In the meantime, we catch up with the universe’s smartest brain as it manages to infiltrate Earth…via suitcase? What is going on here? No, narrator, I heard you when you explained that police chasing the man with the suitcase assumed he was a bank robber, but I’m confused at the part where you said inside the suitcase was the alien bad guy. Is this human helping conquer Earth? Or has he somehow managed to trap the infiltrating brain? And if so, how does he know what the brain is? Is it possible that this unexplained man is actually the Starman? I honestly can’t tell because the film is so grainy and he so unrecognizable without man bits sticking out of his head. I suppose the point becomes moot however, as he is quickly arrested by police and, at the same time, manages to drop the suitcase in a river, shouting “No! The Brain! Someone grab the brain or we’re all doomed!”

Guess who is getting charged with drug possession now too!

"What do you mean we can't annex the planet of the Starfish people? WON'T SOMEONE RID ME OF THIS MEDDLESOME POPE?"

Anyway, the assistant gets dragged into Japanese Night Court where no one believes his story of an alien brain monster and how it is controlling the scientist he works for. His boss, apparently controlled by the evil brain calls and tells them to let the boy go as he has quite an imagination and was only stealing diseased guinea pigs. No, I could not make this up. I’m too lazy to make this up. Anyway, the mad doctor looks completely absurd with a goatee and what looks like a GIANT FALCON perched on his shoulder. He convinces the police to let the youth leave, who does so screaming about how we’re all doomed. The police just laugh it off and get back to eating doughnuts and discussing schoolgirl panties.

The Space Pope's castrati is ambushed by a wild pack of Martin Luthers.

Of course, the doctor only wanted his assistant to be released so he could send the brain’s evil henchmen (who wear bandannas and fedoras at the same time!) to kill him as he searched frantically for the brain he dropped in the river. Just when it looks like he’s about to get finished a guy in a fedora and suit but no bandanna shows up and starts punching the crap out of the henchmen. He then ducks just out of frame for a half second, popping back up as our penis-clad hero, Starman! He manages to go all Dragonball Z on the henchmen and rescues the young assistant who tells him about the brain and how he was seeking to take it to yet another scientist in order to destroy it. The only problem is, he tells the scientist once Starman teleports him there, or flies him there, or takes him on a superfast bullet train there, that the brain happens to be “indestructible, which will make it very hard to destroy.”

"Father, can I be space pope one day?" "No."

Ok, that’s not how that word works. It either can or cannot be destroyed, there’s no middle ground with indestructible. But I suppose I can’t fault the Japanese for this oversight, the American pigeon dubbing leaves much to be desired.

Oh goddamnit, children. In every single one of these Japanese films there are always children who are obnoxious and overly enthusiastic about the impending apocalypse. It doesn’t help that their dubbing is even more atrocious than that of the adults. Starman, of course, befriends them and encourages their obnoxious enthusiasm for everything. Of course, the children can’t do anything. It’s all too dangerous for them, but Starman understands. Starman, with his extra peen on his head knows what it is like to be social outcasts that are never taken seriously. He tells the children not to worry, that he will save the planet and destroy the evil brain. Then he does his rapid clothes change thing again and flies away like a big nerd.

Space Shiva!!!

We then are sent back to the evil scientist’s lab where the over-eager assistant breaks in to try to re-steal the brain and some documents in order to help the good scientist figure out how to destroy it. It’s all very complicated and unnecessary of me to explain this as the plot is really secondary to all the costumed nonsense happening on screen. First off, the assistant gets clubbed by the evil doctor’s henchman and the audience discovers that both main baddies are physically disabled (the doctor in a wheelchair and the henchman on crutches with a missing leg), because what is more scary than the handicapped, right? Anyway, the doctor decides that in order to secure the safety of their brainy leader they must kill the good scientist with one of their…WAIT, WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT? It’s a mutant, apparently. And it would’ve killed the scientist immediately had Starman not shown up and the two fought like an episode of Power Rangers. Starman eventually chases the mutant away and follows to finish him.

"I could use my massive bulge to stop them...oh, or you guys could machine gun them. That's cool too."

The two fight until Japan’s imaginary Army shows up and starts shooting the mutant which begins to multiply. Starman, in a fit of wisdom, elects to end the battle and “fight it another day” before it turns into many, many mutants. He tells the army to back off, and they have no choice but to address the strangely-dressed man. Why? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that he has what looks like a rather large phallus in his pants as well as dangling from the top of his head. Either that or the mutant kicked him so hard in the crotch that he swelled to the size of grapefruits. The mutant is similarly attired, and its just a really unfortunately addition to the fight scenes. I really don’t need to see laytex codpieces on my poorly-costumed super heroes/mutants. Japan, Note to Self: No more spandex-clad heroes with stuffed undies.

The Space Pope's arch-nemisis, the Avingnon Faux Space Pope in full regallia.

In the meantime, the brain’s absurd alien henchmen, who dress like a combination of Batman and…well, a shitty Batman impersonator, are all lurking in their underground base. They all give each other the fascist salute, in a pair of scenes that are more than a little uncomfortable before they start whining about Starman and how he’s threatening their whole plans. Dudes, listen to me. If your plans didn’t account for a bozo in a stupid leotard with a dick on his head that is no cause to whine. No one can anticipate that shit. It’s like predicting the end of the world. Or just how obnoxious Tim Tebow is. It can’t be done. But this shouldn’t cause panic, I mean look at the guy. HE HAS A DICK ON HIS HEAD. Granted, you guys look like rejects from a terrible episode of Flash Gordon, so I suppose silly, outrageous costumes wouldn’t seem so ridiculous to you.

"He's like a flying space squirrel!" - The Space Pope

And we get some more quality time with those stupid kids. Apparently they fancy themselves to be detectives now and the young boy manages to find one of the secret entrances to the brain henchmen underground lair. His sister, worried at his disappearance, calls on Starman. She thinks that the hospital her brother was staying at (for reasons unexplained) is suspicious. Starman thinks so too. And so does the narrator who tells us point blank as the screen zooms in on the hospital’s doctor: “This is no doctor, this is an alien!” I love how un-subtle the American voice-over narration is. It was like they realized how shit-tastic their translated dubbings were and how confusing the plot, characters, locations, and basically everything else had become as a result of it. so they stuck in this clunky, overly-dramatic narration to fill in the gaps in an overbearing American accent.

The Space Pope's visit to Atlantic City is met with much rejoicing and gathering of crowds.

Starman manages to find the underground base and (unfortunately) save the stupid kid. It takes about ten minutes of non-stop fight scenes that look like they were choreographed by someone who had never seen an actual fight before. In the process of defeating this contingent of the brain’s minions, Starman learns that they plan to start killing world leaders to begin their invasion, beginning with one from “the Far East” who comes dressed like a sheik and followed by a retinue of turban-wearing bodyguards. As they land in Japan at the airport, they are assailed by the evil Doctor from the hospital (not the evil scientist, I have no idea what happened to him) who begins shooting the Sheik, only to discover that it has no effect!

"Allow me to show you my package." - Starman

Why, it’s Starman! Playing the old switcheroo, Starman turns their ambush against them, which makes them momentarily shit their pants. The Doctor, however, quickly recovers, even in the face of Starman’s cocky rejoinders. He pulls a cylinder out of his pocket and tells Starman that if he does not back away he will throw “this nuclear grenade!” First off, if I were Starman I’d call bullshit. Second off, I’d never, ever, ever want to be Starman. Unfortunately, Starman believes the doctor and he also happens to be Starman. He didn’t follow my advice on two counts. Also, apparently that nuclear grenade happens to be a legit explosive, and it blows up before the screen fades to black!

"I don't know what this is, but I disapprove of it." - The Space Pope

But lo! Starman is not dead! He chases them down and fights them all in a long, drawn out fight sequence reminiscent of those that happen all the time in the Japanese Parliament. With the help of the police he captures the evil doctor. In the meantime, the narrator tells us that the mutants have begun killing humans indiscriminately. We are then treated to a five minute montage of happy children at an amusement park. Where is my in-discriminant human killing? I feel mislead! But wait! Finally a mutant shows up and kills…one woman. The same, female mutant shows up in a ballet school and kills…another lone woman. Ok, mutants, I know you may be new to this and all, and that you may have more chromosomes than you need, but you cannot take over a whole planet by killing one person at a time. Seriously, get some efficiency.

"I'm not evil, just misunderstood..." *sniff* - This guy.

And the alien brain’s plans are drawing to a close, even though we have yet to even see the brain. Instead we get yet another evil scientist to add to this film’s maddeningly large collection of white-coated arch-villains. So, too, is this one disfigured in some way. Do these Japanese scientists have a bad union or something? What is with all the injuries? This time it looks like the scientist may have lost a fight with a waffle iron, or its one massively large birthmark. Whatever it is, it has clearly addled his brain as he chews through the scenery, croaking like a frog man and muttering to the germ mutants he’s created about how they owe everything to him, including their obedience. Science and germ warfare: you are doing it wrong. He also has a secret underground lair, because apparently Japan is secretly North Korea…or inhabited by mole people.

"Look at that boy's ass!" - The Space Pope

But his underground lair cannot protect him from Starman and his oddly lumpy body structure. Flying through the air at an improbable angle, our hero finds a dying worker on the hillside who was exposed to some of the doctor’s crazy germs. He dies, but Starman is able to figure out that the hideout must be close. When the doctor hears Starman’s approach (a sort of silly, tinkling, farting sound) he immediately asks his assistant if he’s betrayed their hideout. The assistant says no, but that he did test one of the germs on a worker. The doctor gets all “You fool!” up in his face, realizing that Starman and his dual packages are streaking towards him at improbable angles. He’s right and Starman bursts in for another poorly choreographed scene of fighting that is boring and formulaic, much like every other movie I’ve watched for this blog.

Honestly, what am I doing with my life?

"SOY UN MONSTRO!"

The latest mad scientist decides to unlesh the most powerful mutant ever to stop Starman, who is now destroying their hordes and hordes of, I’ll call them, leotarded minions. Apparently they’ve decided to give an unstable mutant a nuclear weapon. This seems like a bad idea, almost as bad as a nuclear grenade. Oh, wait. In the meantime, the doctor’s assistant, who is responsible for this whole catastrophe, goes and tries to fight Starman with his…hook for a hand. Seriously? Does Japan not have any labor laws for its scientific workers? Or do they just make them work long hours with cotton gins, huge mechanical presses, and dangerous chemical solvents? Every. Single. Scientist. Every single one is somehow deformed or injured. Man, there have got to be some potential lawsuits there.

"God, he's just poured right into that thing!" - The Space Pope

Anyway, Starman fights the nuclear mutant in one of the dumbest fight scenes of all time. The mutant is dressed like a gypsy, can shoot flames from her hands, and makes cat noises every time she swipes at Starman. He finally manages to defeat her, but its not clear how, she just sort of…blows up. Starman once again has to fight that other mutant thing that he let get away and he also dispatches it with confusing ease. It sort of just shrivels up like a snail in salt. Maybe something was lost in translation. Or maybe in Japan, mutants just sort of up and die at random moments. Or perhaps Starman’s massive crotchal region is responsible.

That is a mystery I do not want to solve.

Old baked potato, or brain? You make the call.

With all the mutants inexplicably dead, the disabled scientists now officially disabled, and the stupid henchmen arrested, Starman and his good scientist cohorts are able to find the Evil Brain from Space–the terrifying namesake of this film is about to be revealed. And…its a shriveled, veiny ball of what could be crumpled tin foil. It beats feebly like a heart in its little glass jar. Starman and the scientists, flush with triumph, use their special formula to dissolve and kill the indestructible brain. It looks like they pour a combination of dry ice and milk on it, which causes it to fog (though I assume they were going for more of a steam look) and stop beating. It is pronounced dead and the bad guy of the whole movie is dead. By warm milk.

SPAAAAAAAAAAAACE POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPE!

Of course, Starman must now return to the Emerald Planet, now that Earth is, at last, safe. He floats away, lazily, waving down from space in one of the strangest scenes yet (which is saying something). He offers Earth one last glimpse of his package and silly flying squirrel-like wings before departing for deep space to…do whatever it is Starman does when he’s not being a huge, sanctimonious ass with a stuffed crotch. If I had to guess, I’d say he watched a lot of Two and a Half Men while waiting for stupid giant brains to attack planets and get melted by baby formula. Screw this movie man. I’m through with it.

Well, almost.

Breakdown!

Best Sexual Healing Moment:

"Come, gather around my buldge."

Best Tie-In To Real Events:
With these Japanese movies I always have to wonder if Japan is really like this. Perhaps their movies are, in fact, hyper-realistic.

Best Un-Real Event:
I’m going to go with there being anyone insane enough to use a NUCLEAR HAND GRENADE. Seriously?

Best Plot Twist:
ALL SCIENTISTS ARE BAD! EXCEPT FOR THAT ONE. BUT ALL THE OTHERS, BAD!

Best Family Moment:
I friggin’ hate when they cram kids into these types of movies. Mostly because dubbed kids are even more obnoxious than dubbed adults. Also, they are almost always stupid.

Worst Cast/Crewmember:
Whoever the hell decided a narration was called for. Seriously, this movie was confusing enough without adding another layer of bullshit to sift through.

Best Quote:
Lab Assistant: The Brain is indestructible, which means it will be virtually impossible to destroy it!

I dunno what to say after this one. While it made no sense, had shitty narration, and tread the dangerous line of the Toschio Factor, it was also hilarious. It’s one of those movies that makes me wonder if, perhaps, the writer and director had such a mind-blowing, paradigm-altering vision that the rest of us simply couldn’t understand it. Or maybe, even they couldn’t understand it. I just want to know what directorial vision was behind such a mess of bad dialogue, massive plot holes, and just outright absurdity. For all that, I have to admit it was entertaining, and blessedly short at a little over an hour. In the end, I’ll give it a 5.5/10 for sheer hilarity. It at least kept me entertained, which is something with a lot of these flicks.





“Atom Age Vampire” (1960)

7 02 2010

Atom Age Vampire (1960):
“Apparently there’s a nipple flash in this movie, you should totally watch it for that.”

Welcome back, for the decade’s third installment, the lovely Italian film, Atom Age Vampire (1960). You know how much I enjoy mocking Italian films from the 60′s and 70′s. I thoroughly enjoyed both Hercules Against the Moon Men (1964) and Cosmos: War of the Planets (1977). Logically I should’ve hated both. Logically I should’ve torn out my eyes and sworn never to watch another film from a country that can’t keep a single government for longer than it takes me to watch one of their films. Logically, however, doesn’t factor into CatC. No, here is a logic-free zone that, apparently, is also rife with Italians. But how could I resist a film with a plot summary like this one: “A stripper is horribly disfigured in a car accident. A brilliant scientist develops a treatment that restores her beauty and falls in love with her. To preserve her appearance the doctor must give her additional treatments using glands taken from murdered women. His unexplained ability to turn into a hideous monster helps with this problem but does nothing to win her love. The doctor’s woes multiply as the police and the girl’s boyfriend begin to close in on him.” Like anything the Italians do, the central plot of this film is shallow, revolves around sex, and ends with a fascist police state crackdown. In any event, on to the film, Atom Age Vampire!
Batman? Is that you? The film starts off with the obligatory credits sequence. Dramatic clouds swirl behind what appears to be the names of everyone ever in the Sicilian Mafia, or every pasta dish imaginable. Smooth jazz flows out eerily, adding to the overall feeling of despair. But that is not surprising, because jazz generally makes me despair/cower in fear. It’s just too cultured for me. Once we’ve read all the credits of people who are either dead (of shame) or hiding (out of shame) by now, we can move on to the opening scene. You know, the part that’s supposed to draw you in, grab you by your sensitive bits, and keep you riveted till the end. How do the Italians accomplish this in Atom Age Vampire? Is it with a vampire? No. Is it with a mad scientist? No. Is it with a stripper in a car crash? Sort of. It’s got a stripper at least. She and her lover, an officer in the Italian navy are arguing about how he cannot be with her if she continues her profession. She ham-handedly professes her love for him, but he can’t be with her. It’s him or stripping. As a result he leaves her to board his ship.

It’s ok, stripper lady, you know what they say about sailors. Also, there’s no Italian navy anyway, they have no armed forces, he was totes lying to you.

So stripper lady gets all weepy and drives off in her Fiat at breakneck speeds. Its at this point that I realized this film has the appearance of being shot from inside a fishbowl, by a particularly inept fish camera man. The night scenes are even worse. It’s like a fish bowl after an octopus inked all over the inside of it. Thankfully the woman’s car careens off a cliff and catches fire so we can actually see what is going on. We then fast forward to an Italian Hospital which looks more like the sort of room a Trappist Monk would live in. Spartan, bare, entirely cement. And we learn that even the most intense disfiguring and bandaging cannot affect this woman’s perfectly glossed lips, or rigorously-applied eyeliner. No, my friends, this woman manages to make even bandages following a near-death car accident hot.

But fear not! She will not have to be beautiful in her bandages forever. A concerned citizen and his creepily mind-slaved mistress are there to help like the concerned citizens of Italy we know so much about. Our disfigured stripper is about to kill herself when in walks Miss Dallas 1963 and dissuades her not too. First off, if a woman in a full trench and Far Side glasses walked into my room and talked in horribly dubbed English, I’d probably just finish the job. Honestly, that would’ve been awesome because this movie would’ve ended after six minutes and I never would have had to deal with the 80 or so minutes of utter crap that constitutes this film.

Finally we get to some science-y sort of mumbo jumbo. The scientist and his Assistants Sasha and Monique are in the lab as the good doctor records a bunch of his douchy, philosophical ramblings about the Atom bomb, his cure for cancer, variously numbered serums, and how much he secretly hates women, but needs to pretend to like them because he’s Italian. His assistant, Monique, injects herself with one of the test serums so that the doctor, too chicken shit to test the cure serum on humans, will be forced to do it to her. She wants him to thank her for all she’s done and “thank Monique, not your assistant! Let’s stay home tonight, together! With our records!” I’m not sure if she meant music records, or scientific records. You know how hot and bothered science-types get when confronted with, say, spontaneous cell re-growth or perhaps how it could be used as a bullshit cure for cancer invented by the Italians. Italians invent a cure for cancer? Yeah. Ok.

Oh God, what fresh horror is this? It looks like a dance number led by that band that sang “Labamba.” This movie is vastly veering into the waters I fear so much. The musical-infested, dangerous waters of the TERRIBLE MOVIE TRIANGLE. Yes, the Terrible Movie Triangle manifests itself through musical numbers, bad dubbing, a lack of plot, and spinning navigational tools. You get lost, confused, terrified, occasionally aroused, but not in a good way. A creepy, dirty way inspired by Italians and their need for everything to be soft core porn. They pull you into the Triangle with promises of Vampires, but instead they give you a film filled with mad dermatologists and cosmetics company CEOs, unexplained scenes of mad scientists knocking down walls with Sledgehammers, and talk of killing strippers if the operation to make her “a real woman again” fails, because everyone knows women are only good for their beauty.

And hey! Jeanette, the stripper is back to her beautiful self! And only a half an hour in! So the movie can end now, right? What do you mean, the scientist is worried it won’t continue? What do you mean he wants to keep her to assure himself scientific glory? What do you mean Monique is so desperate she will say anything to get shaken by his centrifuge? MY GOD, END IT NOW. JUST END IT. This plot is meandering into the realm of questions of scientific funding and random stage owners wondering where their prize stripper went. Also a lot of weeping for no reason. Oh and sexy, sexy smooth jazz. And wait, what? The doctor thinks the stripper loves him now?!? This is turning into a shitty soap opera! What will Monique think? Are the Italians ok with three ways? Of course they are, what a stupid question. Somehow though, I don’t see this movie getting that interesting in the remaining hour.

And now the doctor has slipped pills in her wine? Dude, he totally just knocked her unconscious! Oh, wait, he needs to do more “surgery?” Uh-huh, sure buddy. And Monique sees that he’s gone crazy, but she still tries to blackmail him into loving her. It’s ok, she figures, he’s just a crazy date-rapist who suffers from passing bouts of “infatuation” and needs to “dominate the girl and possess her, creatively!” Does he, like, want to make finger paintings with her? Or maybe those silly noodle art things they make toddlers do? No, actually, he just wants to make her more beautiful, because what is 1960′s Italy without rampant sexism, shallow desire, and governments changing faster than the stripper girl changes out of her clothes for a 20 Italy dollars, which is like $0.000005 according to the exchange rate.

The second operation is apparently a success, as Jeanette wakes up as blond and buxom as ever. However, Sasha the silent, creeping man-boy of a servant comes into her room without warning and, without words, tells her that…something about Monique. It’s like translating those scenes from Lassie when the dog tries to tell them Grandma’s trapped in the well, or those two neighbor kids are experimenting with homosexuality in the hay-loft, you know, things like that. Except this is harder to watch because Sasha is not a cute, lovable dog, but instead a dirty-looking, moronic man-boy. Finally, Jeanette’s lack of brain and his lack of speaking are able to rectify with one another and Jeanette finds out that Monique is dead!

And the police arrive! I’d say I was hopeful they would bring this criminal movie to an end, but they are the Italian police and unless I can offer them enough bribes I don’t see this cavalcade of awful ending anytime soon. Their ineptitude shines forth as they are satisfied with the mad scientist’s own autopsy of “heart failure” even though we clearly know he killed the girl to keep Jeanette alive because only the blood of beautiful women can keep other beautiful women beautiful and, therefore, useful to society. The scientist doesn’t even have to bribe them, they’re just like: “eh, whatever. Let’s go a-eat some a-pasta!” These idiots would probably mistake blood stains for prego and a dictator for an awe-inspiring leader.

Also, why does every dubbed Italian movie immediately make me think of sweaty people? Is it because everyone in this movie has a fine sheen of sweaty glaze upon them at all moments? Is this a staple of “Spaghetti Horror?” Maybe so, but what comes next most certainly is not. The Doctor, in order to keep Jeanette’s tenuous hold on beauty intact must continuously kill beautiful young women to keep her alive. Unfortunately he’s a total wet blanket and pees himself at the thought of murder. To solve this he injects himself with some magical, atomic vampire serum? It supposedly turns him into a vampire. I, however, think he looks more like the lovechild of Mark Twain and a particularly wrinkly raisin. Does this herald the new age of vampirism? Eat your heart out, Edward Cullen, the new Samuel Clemens Vampire is in town and his wrinkles bring all the girls to the yard.

All this talk of Samuel Clemens vampire makes me really want a Samuel Gompers vampire, to, like, flap and trust bust in the night.

I digress. There’s some plucky prostitutes wandering around smoking, getting harassed by the police, and, oh yeah, abducted by a creepy man-gorilla scientist injected with THE POWER OF THE ATOM. He claims another victim, blah, blah, blah. Also Jeanette panics and tries to get her navy squeeze to help her, but he’s as useless as the Italian Navy itself and only serves to ham up the screen as only an Italian actor can. He also gets his ass beat, as only an Italian military can. I swear, its in an Italian actor’s job description to overact like crazy. It’s also apparently necessary to link everything in this movie to the Second World War, the atom, sex, shitty male characters, the domination and manipulation of women, and tiny, funny little automobiles that make me giggle because I cannot take them seriously as cars.

Also, who did the costuming for this movie? Did they have a sale at the Burlington Coat Factory? Or were they just modeling all the scenes with men off of accounts of J. Edgar Hoover’s sexual escapades? Or did they just think the audience needed obvious cues to remember what social roles each male lead had? I mean, it is a fair concern, all these European types tend to blend together in a foppish, sweaty blur of bad dubbing and soap operatic plots that make me want to punch someone in the face. All this terrible blending of shitty police work, shitty male attitudes towards women, and shitty, shitty romance scenes makes me want to make even more jokes about Italian stereotypes, but I honestly think I’ve used them all.

Also, a lot of significant eye darting and glances. And a lot of this guy (to the left) being friggin’ stupid. It’s Jeanette’s one time lover, turned stupid trench coat wearing fake cop. I don’t know what his name is and I don’t particularly care. There was a point when I did these reviews that I went for a modicum of seriousness and respectability, but that’s long gone. I just can’t take the stupid dialogue and stupid people in this movie. The doctor, who helped knock the crap out of this guy on the docks manages to convince him that he never saw a panicked Jeanette there, and instead had been “perhaps mistaken by your love for her. Perhaps it was a foggy night. Perhaps someone wanted to mug you. Perhaps you had been drinking. Perhaps you are just so easy to mentally manipulate that you dreamed the whole thing because some turd in a white coat told you to.”

WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL, ITALY?

I can’t take it. I literally cannot take it anymore. I can handle crap costumes. I can handle crap scenery. I can handle crap plots. I can handle crap acting. I can even handle crappy rubber suits and bad scale models. But there is one thing in this universe that I have found I cannot abide. And that is stupid people. And also Italian films. Atom Age Vampire combines them both in a deadly cocktail of crap. Thankfully this movie is almost over, the cavalcade of stupid is drawing to a close. It will end in a torrent of stupid, of that I have no doubt, but thank the Lord the end is in sight! Our doctor vampire needs a fresh victim and with the dim-witted, but determined police catching on, must be cautious not to arouse suspicion. Where can he go to bite a woman’s neck and then kill her without noticing? Why, a movie theater of course!

And so he marks his target and follows her out of the theater only to have to end up boxing a dog. Or that’s what it looks like, anyway. Of course, he fails to kill her like the big, dumb, furry idiot he is. And he also gets his leg bitten, and the police on his trail. They sort of dilly-dally about like a bunch of incompetents, but they somehow manage to figure out that its not a giant gorilla savaging the women, but just your ordinary Italian guy. Seems pretty obvious once you think about it, but you know, they want to build tension. Namely, that kind of tension that makes you want to tear out your eyes with a pair of rusty, needle-nosed pliers. Or maybe crush your skull with a really big rock.

Anyway, the cops dress exactly like cops, with long coats and jaunty hats. I mean, at least this movie got one thing right. They also smoke constantly. And bicker. And make excuses. And use their power to hit on women. So, yeah. They decide to try to hunt down this Atom Aged Vampire once and for all! Fortunately for them, the Vampire is having strange inner monologues of guilt, lust, cowardice, and is just generally stupid. He still tries to manipulate the hell out of Jeanette and take credit for her cure, which magically works all of a sudden? He doesn’t have to kill anymore? Oh, I get it, all he needs to do is possess her and he says something about needing her to help stop the evil force within him? It’s like Pat Robertson on a date. All clawing with scaly old man hands up in your face, talking about evil, and redemption, and pity, and his vampirism. Yeah, what a shitty date that would be.

Anyway, Jeanette almost does two things to make this movie interesting. (A) She almost gets topless. (B) She almost shoots the vampire in his hideous facial region. Unfortunately, she does neither, she just weeps and cries and lets herself be further abused by the megalomaniac vampire who alternatively threatens her and asks her for pity, all while slurring horribly from his rapidly deforming face. Thankfully girl’s got a set of lungs and she manages to attract the attention of her lover, who springs to the rescue and, rapidly, becomes useless in a fight between him and the doctor that involves a lot of her screaming, a lot of things getting thrown, dramatic music, and growling. Also, a lot of dude ass shots.

In the end, the creepy, groveling manservant Sasha does the deed because all of the other men in this movie are too busy smoking or being useless fops in a fight and everyone knows a woman can’t do it. Come on! Anyway, The vampire doctor dies. Sasha gets all “what-have-I-done” weepy, but without the words because he never talks. Jeanette and her lover go off and make whoopie, probably since she is magically cured with all those dead women. The police smoke some more. The End. Give me a break, Italian film industry.

Breakdown!

Best Sexual Healing Moment:
I’m going to avoid the obvious answer of picking one of a billion vaguely rape-like sequences from this movie and go with the obvious love affair between Sasha and his master, the Vampire Doctor. While abusive and hate-filled at times, it still had an odd beauty. Or perhaps that was a sheen of sweat.

Best Tie-In To Real Events:
Every stereotype about Italians is true. Italy is a land of people who nothing about science. No one in Italy actually knows what a Vampire is.

Best Un-Real Event:
The “Vampire” Doctor is no “Vampire.” In fact, he’s just a hideously deformed, radioactive man-beast who can see his reflection, doesn’t flee from Garlic, doesn’t actually bite anyone, and probably couldn’t seduce his way out of a wet paper bag.

Best Plot Twist:
There are no real vampires! I’ve been mislead and bamboozled by this movie, Italy! Damn you!

Best Family Moment:
There aren’t really families here, so I’ll just pick a scene I liked. Namely, that stupid lover guy getting his ass beat by what looks like a deformed Steve Martin.

Worst Cast/Crewmember:
Alberto Bevilacqua who was the writer. Honestly, did he do anything? There was writing involved? I just thought they threw a bunch of bit actors in a room and said: “Have at it!”

Best Quote:
So, so many. I guess I’ll just say that bad dubbing in general was the best quote, because that sums up this movie better than any one instance of dialogue.

I will never watch another Italian film as long as I live. The 3.1 rating on IMDB could not have prepared me for this colossal stinker. The Roman Empire would be ashamed of this new Rome. They’d probably sack the fuck out of it. Or just have the Visigoths do it. Or tag team with the Visigoths in the fight of the century! They would, of course, also be lead by Stone Cold Steve Austin. I really just want to see that man pile drive an entire city. Is that so wrong? Anyway, at the end of the day I’ve got to give this flick a paltry 2.0/10. It really was just awful. Not the worst I’ve seen, but up there. Europeans should stick to the things they know. Like cars. And fucking everyone over with giant wars. Till next time.





“Hercules Against the Moon Men” (1964)

22 11 2009

Hercules Against the Moon Men
It almost doesn’t suck…

“Hercules Against the Moon Men” or “Maciste el la regina di Samar,” in its original Italian, is one of many entries into the Hercules series. This one in particular is from 1964 and stars Alan Steel in the title role of Hercules. His continuously sweaty, baby-oiled body suits the role well, even if it is mildly disturbing. Still, there’s a lot about this particular movie that boarders on the mildly disturbing, much like how it just barely misses the mark for not completely sucking. However, as always, I will recount the tale to you, through my incredibly biased lens, and let you be the judge.

The movie opens with a credits sequence filled with a plethora of incredibly Italian names. I assume these names correspond to the cast and crew, but they could very well be a listing of Italian leaders since the end of the Second World War to the 1960′s. Since none of these people really became very famous, I can’t really fill you in on interesting factoids. I could, however, make the necessary Alan Steel jokes. But, I’m pretty sure you already know what I will say on that score. And yes, they did involve a lot of porn jokes. But, I digress, back to the plot! It opens, as many of these 60′s b-movies do, with a voice-over narration as the audience is shown a meteor crashing into a scale model of a mountainside. We are informed that this meteor brought with it the terrifying, alien Moon Men, who now reside in this mountain. In order to appease the monsters, the leader of the nearby city of Samar (Queen Samara) has entered into an agreement with the aliens, where they will make her the most powerful woman in the world as long as she keeps a steady flow of sacrificial children pouring into their volcano hideaway. She does so in order to become a “moon goddess” at the expense of her people. Finally, they get fed up with it and recruit the help of Hercules. Her chief advisor, Claudis, goes so far as to secret Hercules into the kingdom, quite possibly under his bargain-basement costume, but Queen Samara finds out Hercules is on the way and prepares an ambush.

Of course, no one in the kingdom is sure she is allied with the “monsters” that live in the mountain. Even Claudis tries to get her to agree to invite Hercules to save them, but she basically just screams at him to shut up until he is forced to get his wrinkly ass in high gear and beat a hasty retreat. Queen Samara, still unaware of this mythological strong man’s name, asks her chief guard what his name is, to which he replies: “HERCULES!”

Que the dramatic music and the exposed torso! Hercules gallops onto the screen, astride a white horse, and looking like the long-lost member of the village people…or a stand-in for the original Hulk. He spends about three minutes too long trotting around in a rocky valley before the soldiers of Queen Samara launch their ambush. Tipping rocks down into the valley they knock him off his horse and charge down the mountainside, screaming and hollering like a pack of badly-dubbed idiots. Hercules jumps to his feet and begins fighting in various stances that give him the appearance of a buff, but constipated toddler.

He dispatches the soldiers with ease and continues on his journey towards Samara unhindered, though he can’t resist looking smugly at his defeated foes before hopping on his horse and resuming his journey. We once again cut back to Samara at this point for a brief plot diversion, where Samara’s younger sister is plotting to marry a suitor in their garden. Samara, listening in, gets angry and flounces off to her chambers, just in time for it to get suddenly windy indoors, as well as a nasty, gloomy shade of green better suited for a Winger album cover than a film. She suddenly finds she is not alone in the chamber and turns around to see the MOON MAN.

Yes, this is our first glimpse of the monsterous Moon Men, who look a bit like Robin Hood and the main character from Grim Fandango mixed together. The Moon Man scolds Samara for her failure to kill Hercules with her soldiers, and warns her that if Hercules isn’t taken care of she will lose out on her end of the deal and no longer be in the running for the “Miss Moon Goddess” contest. With that, he disappears in a less-than-dramatic fade-away that restores everything to its normal light, and leaves Samara looking both confused and even paler than usual. From her we cut back to Hercules, mounted on his steed, as he is met along the road by a young woman, who we soon find out is Claudis’ daughter. She delivers a message to Hercules before hopping onto his big, white…horse, and guiding him off to the city of Samar. Once there she sneaks him into the palace to meet her father, whom is conspiring against the queen to save the city. Unknown to everyone is the fact that Queen Samara is spying on all of them through the walls.

In the meeting, Claudis tells Hercules that another sacrifice is about to take place soon, as the full Moon nears. His daughter expresses doubt and fear, which her father creepily quells with a stroke of the hand and awkward, toothless smiling. Hercules chuckles. But then he gets all serious business, and tells them both that he will help their stupid, stupid city with his oily man nipples and short, tiny, leather pants. Claudis, is enthused and guides Hercules down into a dark network of caves, which Queen Samara, aware of their plans booby traps.

As a result Claudis gets seriously f-ed up by a bunch of spikes and Hercules gets dropped in a pit that quickly begins to fill with water. Thankfully, Hercules maintains a constant coating of baby oil on his body, so the water just rolls off him like he was a giant, homo-erotic, mallard duck. He manages to escape, but Claudis is dead, letting out an awkward old man scream as he falls to the ground. Hercules, wet, but still possessing the sheen of well-broiled pork, is suddenly attacked by a giant furry bear-pig. It’s basically a warthog with fur that can stand on two legs. Hercules quickly smashes it around into the stone walls, where it squeaks like a plush toy until finally dying. With these dangers out of the way, Hercules has to stop to bend some obviously rubber bars with his shiny man chest.

This takes Hercules a minute or so, until he finally bounds through them, chest heaving, beard sweating, and man nipples glistening like Promethean Fire. Yes, that is the only way to describe them: as homoerotic and Greek as possible. He runs into the old man’s daughter who blubbers a bit about him being dead, before saying she now has to be the one to lead him to the “secret rendezvous site.” And its so secret the audience doesn’t even know about it–or that they had even been intending to go there. Meanwhile the Queen keeps plotting to kill the superhuman Hercules as her quarry flees to hide until nightfall. Also, the townspeople start bitching about how Claudis died and Hercules disappeared, then they vaguely plot to take on the monsters themselves until one of the villagers tells a story of how he almost died when he ventured near their hideout. Soon the Italian national pastime of cowardice kicks in and they flounce around uselessly, hoping for Hercules to return while complaining about how their children keep getting sacrificed. Hercules suddenly arrives and gives a rousing pep talk while flexing his pecks reassuringly. The townspeople are immediately given fresh hope.

Hercules is led by one of the brave townspeople to the site of the sacrifices, the road that leads to the “mountain of death.” Every good movie has a mountain of death, and apparently some bad ones do too. Anyway, there’s some more side-plot swordplay before night finally falls with an eerie full Moon and creepy mood music.

Queen Samara and her loyal guards are prepping the civilians for their march to be sacrificed, as well as possible interference by Hercules. In the meantime, their captives can be heard moaning and pleading in the background in obviously-dubbed English. Hercules and the others still have yet to realize that Queen Samara is allied with evil, and they discuss her abilities to woo men with magic powder. Apparently they can’t quite connect the dots between her and the Moon Men problem. During all this speculation, the Queen’s troops round up a ton of townsfolk for sacrifice, and its a wonder the town is still populated at all. They begin marching them up the mountain of death as Hercules follows behind them. He ambushes the royal guards in an attempt to free the prisoners, but sadly its a trap as he’s immediately caught in a giant net. Hercules has finally got his oily ass captured.

Meanwhile, Queen Amara traps her own sister within the mountain of death to act as a sacrificial blood offering for the Moon Men, who’s rocky minions capture the young princess. The leader of the Moon Men then goes on to talk of their plans for Earth with Queen Samara, telling her that once the planets align and through “the evil influence of Uranus” (tee hee) his people will take over the Earth, as only their kind can live. Thankfully they have some sort of loophole for Samara, though its not clear what that is. The Moon Man just sort of mutters about her beauty and how she’ll have all the riches of the world, which shuts her up pretty fast. He then tells her she must first kill Hercules before this can happen, to which she smugly replies that this should not be difficult, as he is already in her possession. She hurriedly has Hercules brought to her preferred method of execution–a giant smusher thing with spikes.

Yes, a giant spiked thing. And here the audience is treated to a drawn-out, torturous, arduous, and exceptionally oily scene as Hercules tries to prevent himself from being crushed. Queen Samara, watching the execution, smiles smugly as the death machine slowly closes. Hercules sweats pure baby oil as the director focuses the camera in on his nipples for extended periods of time, filling the background with the noise of heavy breathing. The something a little off about that, but to be fair this is a movie about ancient Greeks, so certain things are to be expected. One of them is lots and lots of heavy breathing. And apparently Samara is turned on by this as, after Hercules throws down the sides of the torture machine she orders her guards to escort him to her chamber, where we shortly see her waiting sprawled on her bed. She also seduces Hercules with some creepy talk about how he could “crush her neck like the stem of a flower.” And then gives him a drink to make him her slave, fortunately, Hercules, having been warned only fakes drinking the potion, though Samara believes he has.

Unfortunately, we still have to endure creepy Hercules sex slave scenes, where he wears a little white leather vest and lounges around trying to turn the seduction tables on the evil Queen. He tries to use his pecks to get information out of her, but she refuses to tell him, saying only that he will know by the evening. And then they profess love to each other, blah, blah, blah. We then jump to the townspeople again, where a gathering of men try to be not Italian and take up arms effectively against something. They, of course, can’t come to a consensus and instead flounce around like the candy-asses they are. It’s about this time that the audience realizes that this film is longer and more difficult to endure than any of the Labors Hercules faced. At and hour and a half long, it quickly becomes obvious that it is too long by at least twenty minutes…if not by an hour and a half. Anyway, Hercules escapes, revealing his trickery after learning of Samara’s plans to use the mountain of death and the sacrifice of her sister to gain ultimate power. The Queen rushes to warn the Moon Men that Hercules is on the way.

Unfortunately for Samara, the Moon Men are not amused and they kill her with their stone minions, which awkwardly crush her in between their multiple stone bellies. In the meantime, Hercules and the new townspeople militia try to fight their way through a dangerous sandstorm to the mountain of death. Hercules, of course, is the first to arrive because the mob of Italian citizens gets too tired to keep going, plus its almost four in the afternoon and they are tired, you know? Hercules has to hurry though, because the Moon Men have begun the arduously slow process of sacrificing the dead Queen’s sister in order to bring the Queen of the Moon Men back to life. Of course, the stupid sandstorm sequence goes on FOREVER. Finally, Hercules arrives at the cave, just as the weather starts getting weirder (presumably because of the planets aligning). Que stock footage of hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and the Full Moon.

Hercules burst on the scene, just in time to throw a cog in the plans of the Moon Men. He tosses around the stone minions like the fake, plaster of Paris models they are, punches out the leader of the Moon Men and topples the idol of the Moon Men queen in the cave, causing a sudden burst of lava and fire. Hercules, worried that his constant sheen of baby oil might catch fire, grabs the young princess and flees. The movie then cuts to a period well after the disastrous events of the Moon Men, where Hercules and Claudis’ daughter ride off on Hercules’ white steed together. Blessedly, after 90 minutes of sweaty Italians and moob shots, the film crawls to an end.
Breakdown!

Best Sexual Healing Moment:
I want to say its the part where Hercules gets doused in gallons and gallons of water. It’s like the Golden Shower moment of this film.

Best Tie-In To Real Events:

Greeks were creepily sweaty, Italians are notoriously bad at standing up to shitty governance, and mythology is full of man nipples.

Best Un-Real Event:
Moon Men, giant rock people, Hercules, the entire plot of this film.

Best Plot Twist:
The Queen is evil!?! NO WAY!

Best Family Moment:
Probably Claudis creepin’ on his daughter, or better yet, the Queen nearly sacrificing her sister.

Worst Cast/Crewmember:
Jany Clair as Queen Samara. To be fair though, everyone in the movie is terrible, though that could be as much the result of bad dubbing as anything else.

Best Quote:
Moon Man: We will gain our power through the conjunction of the planets under the evil influence of Uranus.

Overall score? If it hadn’t been so damn drawn out I might be tempted to give it a 6/10, but since it dragged on forever, I have to bump that rating down to a 3.5/10. It really gets unbearable down the stretch, especially because of the director’s growing fascination with Alan Steel’s oiled chest. All the same, its what is to be expected of Italian sword and sandal flicks–a terrible, dubbed, drawn-out time with plenty of homo-eroticism. In the end, I’ve seen worse. To be fair, this film almost didn’t suck, but in the end it was saved only by the fact that it had a stupid plot with aliens. Otherwise it would be no different than the billion other Hercules v. [blank] films.