“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.





“Ice Pirates” (1984)

22 10 2009

Ice Pirates (1984):
“Shouldn’t you be at the controls?”

I’ve been letting this particular film stew in my mind for a couple weeks after I was given the opportunity to view it by the great folks at the Denison Film Society. I had heard of the legend of Ice Pirates, but nothing could prepare me for it. The truth is, its one of those rare films where exorbitant amounts of money were spent, but to no real effect. Ice Pirates is, at its core, little more than a less-famed Waterworld. Honestly, they just froze the water from Waterworld (after straining out the Kevin Costner), dressed everyone as futuristic pirates, threw in some Anjelica Huston, and added a dash of Star Wars plot theft.

Your heroes, everyone!

Basically, the movie starts off with stock footage stolen from Battlestar Galactica: 1980. The space pirate’s awe-inspiring leader, Jason (played by Robert Ulrich), is kind of a huge closet rapist. He likes raping and pillaging, and wearing ruffs. His crew of miscreants includes Anjelica Huston wearing clothes made from birdcages and a bunch of Dutch extras. Jason is a self-proclaimed ladies man, and his partner, Roscoe, is a black engineer who specializes in robotics and looking exasperated. Another crucial member of this motley crew is the guy who looks vaguely like Hellboy. Know why? BECAUSE IT ACTUALLY IS HELLBOY. That’s right, there’s an actor in this film other than Anjelica Huston that wasn’t thrown into total obscurity as a result of Ice Pirates.

Made in 1984, Ice Pirates is the heroic tale of a man and his crew fighting the powerful, evil Supreme Commander (played by a near-death John Carradine) and struggling to avoid contracting the exceptionally gross-looking Space Herpes. Sure the plot meanders into total confusion, sure it wanted so badly to be a soft core porno, sure it has a sex sequence in it that looks like a cross between a Danielle Steele novel cover and a Whitesnake video…sure, it has all these things. But it also had…well, it had pirates in space…and eunuchs.

White-wigged slave men from THE FUTUUUUUURE!

That’s right, kids, eunuchs. And not just any eunuchs, spandex-wearing, white-wigged, slave eunuchs from the future! How do these slaves play into the plot, you ask? Well, simple. When Jason and his crew have escaped with the water, they are then recaptured by the Supreme Commander’s foppishly-dressed second in command, who threatens to “kill the wounded” and be generally not nice. Jason, being the consummate survivor, surrenders.

It’s around this same time that he falls head over heels for a princess who is somehow vaguely related to the Supreme Commander? I’m really not sure, all I know is that Jason, upon seeing her, bemoans the lack of rape and pillaging that he and his crew get up to during their exploits. He considers stealing her from her sleep pod (its a little Snow White), but is ultimately forced to leave her and flee only with the water.

It's a close shave n' wax for our hero.

It’s after this slight digression that Jason gets caught, along with his black friend, and transferred to one of the imperial planets. It is here that the pair of them are almost castrated to become white-wigged eunuch slaves, but the princess, who has an odd attraction to the generally uninteresting Jason, spares them from becoming eunuchs. Instead they are just forced to wear white wigs, white spandex, and be servile, sex-drive-less manbots. To cap it all, the princess convinces her mother to pick them to be her slaves.

Normally, it wouldn’t be hard for a guy to pose as a eunuch slave for awhile to

How can you not help but feel emmasculated wearing that?

escape attention and plot his flight, but in the case of the exceptionally dense, exceptionally horny Jason, this becomes a seriously difficult task. Turned on by the princess and wearing revealing spandex, Jason and his first mate have to navigate the tricky social situation of an 80’s disco dance party hosted by none other than the princess’ government lackey of a father. It is during the dance party that the pair of them escape in the general chaos of bumping New Age beats. There’s some crazy government plotting that follows, the princess betrays her father to have Jason transport her and her nanny through to a long-lost world, and there’s some stock footage stolen directly from Logan’s Run. They are in search of the illusive-sounding “7th World” where, apparently, shit happens. Maybe they have clean water? Maybe they have an excellent ruff dealer? Or perhaps its just an attempt at creating a sense of depth to the shallow world created to house Ice Pirates. Either way, the princess needs to get there to find her long-lost father, and uses Jason, his pirate buddies, some black-face robots, and her creepy British nanny to help.

After stealing a government ship they slink away to the pirate moon to get the help of a man who has traveled to the 7th World. His name is Lanky Nibbs. He’s old. He’s cranky. And he hangs out in the desert with gophers that have tits on their heads. Unable to traverse the pirate moon without ground transport, Jason gets the help of a frog lady that the princess set him up with in exchange for the woman’s help. With all this covered, they head out into the desert in her weird car. In a scene reminiscent of Mad Max’s return to the Thunderdome, the pirates arrive at Lanky Nibbs place only to discover they have been followed by the terrifying desert vikings.

WWE Raw, or Space Vikings? YOU BE THE JUDGE.

Yes. That is correct. Desert vikings. They ride a giant bike thing with a skull and launch missiles at everything. The frog lady is killed, but Jason, his buddies, and Lanky Nibbs are able to escape by fighting the space vikings and slaying them. After this absurd scene, they are directed by Nibbs to the disgustingly obnoxious character of Wendon who fills in more of the gaping plot holes and happens to be a robot.

With Wendon’s help they realize they can get to the 7th World and set out to do so. They are being followed by the princess’ father, unknown to them, who wants to unlock the secrets of the 7th World for reasons that are not fully explained, though vast government conspiracy comes to mind. It is during this journey that two inexplicably disgusting/hilarious things happen. (1) The space herpes — or “sperpes” — arrives on the scene and (2) Jason and the princess have some of the weirdest, most dramatic sex in the history of cinema. As is so often true of cheap, bad cinema, it verges on the

Ice Pirates! Whitesnake called! They want their music video back!

pornographic. It also utilizes a shocking amount of water…in a universe where water is supposed to be scarce and ridiculously valuable. But, taking a cue from a mixture of Danielle Steele book covers and the terrible music videos of Whitesnake, Jason and the Princess have sex in the middle of a simulated tempest, in the rain, on a rocky cliff, with lightening and thunder. It’s the part of the movie that reveals how much everyone involved wanted it to be a porno, and also how badly written it is. As the princess, in a bit of innuendo, asks Jason “Shouldn’t you be at the controls?” To which he replies with a little bit of “Whoa! NC-17″ near-missery.

Moses and an aged Superfly in the 7th dimension.

Then there’s a time warp, because apparently to get to the 7th World you have to pass through a time warp.  It’s at this point that the government lackeys show up to do battle. It’s convenient because this way everyone gets to do battle as they age insanely fast in a scene that begs for the Benny Hill theme. As the battle wears on and everyone gets older and more and more robots die, it looks dire for our pirate hero Jason, until we discover that his crazy sex times resulted in a baby with the princess. By the time the battle looks its worst the kid is already 30-something, looks exactly like his father (because he too is played by Ulrich), and is a hell of a swashbuckler. Also, the nanny dies and decomposes. The government invaders are repelled.

Also, I forgot, there were unicorns earlier.

In any event, the battle rages on until everyone is ancient and sprouting ridiculous white hair. Thankfully, Jason’s son saves the day and the ship is able to escape the time warp and everyone is restored to their original age. The princess, I assume, hurries for Plan B. They find themselves looking at the 7th World. Their mission is a success, the evil government thwarted, and Jason gets to say some more pithy lines before the movie closes.

Breakdown!

Best Sexual Healing Moment:

Clearly the terrible sex scene.

Best Tie-In To Real Events:

Sperpes and the ensuing water crisis.

Best Un-Real Event:

White spandex ever becoming fashionable/robots peeing on the floor in fear.

Best Plot Twist:

TIMEWARP!

Best Family Moment:
Probably the hurried birth/childhood/adulthood of Jason and the princess’ asshole son.

Worst Cast/Crewmember:

Whoever it was that played the British nanny. Mostly because she annoyed me. Everyone annoyed me really, except Anjelica Huston.

Best Quote:
Jason: [being ushered away from the sleeping princess by his companions] Whatever happened to “we rape, we pillage”?

Overall score? 6.5/10 stars. It was dirty fun. It certainly wasn’t clean fun.





“Queen of the Amazons” (1947)

4 08 2009


Queen of the Amazons (1947):

“White Goddess of the Dark Jungle… She offered ECSTASY and DEATH!”

From 1947, “Queen of the Amazons” is easily the oldest film I’ve reviewed for “Cheap as They Come” thus far. It is also easily included in with some of the more racist films I’ve burned through from the dollar bin — which is no small feat considering some of the competition. (The Black Gestapo, anyone?) The category which it is most assuredly the leader however, is in “Percentage of Film that is Stock Footage.” I swear, at least 20 minutes of this flick is gratuitous stock footage of dancing Africans, random animals, or…well, more dancing Africans. Honestly, it was probably one of the duller movies I’ve viewed — though the 61 minute run time did help make it seem considerably less boring. The lines, as in most terrible movies made during this period, were delivered in a flat monotone, like a third grade play, but I will give the movie some props: the plot made sense. With a film titled “Queen of the Amazons” you pretty much know what you’re going to get. There’s no surprises here as racism, sexism, and terrible stunts abound in this jungle caper straight out of Africa:

“Join us on a woman’s thrill-packed expedition in search of Greg, the love of her life who seems to be lost in the African jungle. Unfortunately her guide, Gary, sees her, and all women, as dead weight on such a trip. Despite this, he agrees to help her while searching for Ivory poachers. In the course of their journey they must face imminent danger from man-eating lions and a plague of locusts. Eventually they encounter a lost tribe of Amazon warriors. Is Greg held captive by their desirable White Goddess or is he there of his own free will?”

Like I said, you know what you’re about to get. A woman, pining for her lost fiancee, travels into the heart of darkest Africa to find her Mr. Kurtz. She takes a motley band of merry men with her, including the hyper-manly Gary (their guide), the quirky and bespectacled bug biologist who only goes by Professor throughout the movie, the dumpy cook, Gabby, who refuses to speak in normal words, instead preferring limericks, stupid songs, and folksy sayings, as well as a cadre of black “savages” to be used as fodder in the lion attack sequences. There are some other white dudes too, but they’re not that important.

Gary, as you’ve gathered from the summary, is a sexist prick. Well, most of the people in this are. But he’s probably the worst of them. He has a reputation of “hating women” and bitches about how they are “dead weight on a sah-fair-ee” as he pronounces it. He thinks women are worthless. Of course, our heroine Jean (who they make a point of making uber-independent at first, but breaking down in the jungle into a screaming mess constantly in need of a man) sufficiently changes Gary’s mind by shooting out a bunch of targets. It’s like some kind of 1940’s, “chicks with guns” bullshit.

Gary, sufficiently turned on, tries desperately to impress her with his trick crow, who can do mundane tasks and squawk obnoxiously. Gary uses the crow quite a bit actually, to try to make new friends, but no one seems to notice, except Gabby the cook. Gabby has his own trick monkey and the two trade moderate blows throughout the film in what is supposed to be a cute manner. Sadly, it never devolves beyond that into the trick animal death-match that I, and Michael Vick, had been hoping for. There’s other animals as well that feature in their trek through the jungle quite prominently. Namely, lions and tigers, that occasionally savage the black guides and try to kill Gary. Probably because they got tired of his stupid crow tricks. Or maybe they just didn’t like him. I know I didn’t. Unfortunately they fail to do the job. Gary lives and the animals go back to being miserable for being stuck in this crap film:

But, I suppose I should get back to the plot, seeing as I haven’t really covered it yet at all. The fact is, the plot is pretty involved for only a 61-minute film. There’s intrigue between Gary and Jean, Jean’s angst for her fiancee, white voodoo women who’ve kidnapped Jean’s fiancee, intrigue with ivory smugglers, and unbridled racism. It’s all crammed into an hour-long, black-and-white celluloid sandwich of crazy.

It all starts out at a hotel in India…for some reason I don’t quite understand. When Jean arrives she asks around the hotel for any clues to where her future hubby might have gone. Of course, this ends with disaster, as it turns out much of the hotel staff is involved in some secretive crime ring out to get her and her fiancee. It’s not really clear — there’s a lot of phone conversations, a man who we only see as a shadow projected on a blank wall, and the lamest homicide in cinema. Jean, after scouring for informants (i.e. asking the concierge desk) finally finds a man willing to part with information. She bribes him with, what I swear to God, is a shiny penny from her handbag. A single, shiny, friggin penny. Since he’s Indian, oppressed, and dressed in an odd approximation of all the Indian stereotypes imaginable, he takes it with much bowing and excitement.

But folks, the hilarity and the racism doesn’t end here. Oh no! You see, as he is telling her where he thinks her fiancee went on safari he is shot in the back by a sinister hand extending out of the curtains. It slowly, ponderously retracts, and there is some delayed screaming before the scene fades out. The Professor and the others join Jean in her room just in time for some hasty dialogue on restive natives and bad stock footage of rioting Indians that looks like it was stolen from “The Adventures of Kubla Kahn.” It is at this point that they throw out a line about “Americans and British not being wanted here” before fleeing to Africa, where I’m certain that the privileged whites are even more greatly appreciated than in India.

Oh, and there’s some trick crow bullshit.

Once they get into Africa, Gary, (whose name I italicize in the hope that you will read it in a whiny, plaintive manner, which is the only manner in which anyone says it in the whole movie) has to go and recruit his favorite cook: Gabby. Or Chubby. Or Fatty. Or Sleepy. I don’t really remember. It’s all a little fuzzy. He, as I mentioned before, is fond of moaning out the stupid lyrics to some dumb, long-forgotten song that was probably in the public domain when this crap-fest came out. It goes a little something like this: “All the men are destined to do is work/while all the women are destined to do is cry/but they all sleep at the end of the day.” He says this…over and over…and over again. Its pretty much his only line, except for a few instances of belching and inappropriately-timed laughter. Basically he’s a creeper, but no one else notices.

Once they gather all their intrepid explorers they head into the savannas and the jungles, and shit goes down. Namely some awful, awful lion attacks where those being attacked have to, literally, hold the savaging lion’s head in place to make it look like it actually wants to eat their faces. The film is also sped up during these sequences, and accompanied by overly dramatic music as well as some bad sound effects. There are about three of these throughout the movie, but the most hilarious is the one in which the group’s native guide is mauled.

I suppose I should offer some further exposition on their little group. By and large, the only important people are Gary and Jean and their local, black, guide who, as far as I can remember, was never named. There are a few other Africans in their party, but the guide is immortalized by his unintentionally funny death by lion. After he is unceremoniously mauled, the real fun begins. First, Gary is approached by one of the other African guides who insists that the strange lion attacks happening to the group are the result of “the white voodoo goddess” who lives in these parts of the jungle. Of course, this is all delivered in incomplete sentances missing words because that is obviously how the “savages” would talk. The only drawback is that it sounds like it was written in perfect English ahead of time, but then the crew — in order to make it “authentic” — went through and pulled random words out.

And this is when we get to the meat of this sordid tale. The White Voodoo Goddess — who is rumored to have come from a shipwreck — has captured Jean’s fiancee! And hidden him in her voodoo layer with the other “Amazon Women.” Jean does some whimpering upon hearing this, Gary clutches her tightly in a reassuring way, and the natives embark on a hunt to kill the lion that savaged the guide. There’s some stock footage of natives dancing, running zebras, and the observation by Gary that the lion that attacked him earlier (failing to kill him, but eliciting shrieks from Jean who stands by holding a pistol helpelessly?) had been wearing…wait for it…a collar!

Oh, ho, ho, I get it now “Queen of the Amazons.” The White Voodoo Goddess is really a multifaceted diety known as Siegfried and Roy. They train lions and apparently get themselves involved in the ivory trade. That’s right, this movie involves the ivory trade. And its not like, oh the ivory trade is illegal because it can make certain animals extinct. No, its, “we can’t let the savages run the ivory trade, because then us imperialists don’t get any of that sweet, sweet green.” So Gary, is, guess what, secretly an ivory trade investigator! And so was Jean’s fiancee!?! What can it all mean? Well, clearly it means there’s more to this White Voodoo Goddess than meets the eye. She’s like a transformer. Only, she’s like a worthless one. That stupid Sweedish Hovercraft transformer. Yeah, you know the one I mean.

So, forty-some minutes into the film we finally meet the White Voodoo, Amazon Queen, Maid of the Mist, Goddess. She’s not exactly scary. In fact she’s actually got that whole “Wholesome Fifties” thing going for her. Impeccable teeth, well-groomed, and clothed in what appears to be something manufactured in the industrialized world:

It’s really all rather disappointing. She doesn’t look like someone who’s spent her whole life in the jungles killing lions with her bare hands and bewitching the natives. Not only that, but she and Jean’s fiancee really hit it off. She likes him because he’s probably the only man she’s ever seen and he likes her because…well I’m not sure. I have to assume its because she appreciates his burgeoning art skills. Or maybe she’s great in the sack. I have no idea how the mind of a 40’s adventurer works.

I digress. The adventure party of Jean, Gary, Gabby the Cook, and the Professor arrive at the White Goddess’ village and its really not at all scary. Or remotely dangerous. In fact, they all seem like a pretty easy-going lot — verging on the outright timid. When Jean finds out her fiancee and the voodoo white woman are together she gets moderately upset, but not really as upset as I’d expect my fiancee to be if I disappeared in the Serengeti for weeks and shacked up with some chick in a loincloth as the woman I’d claimed to love enough to marry was risking lion attacks, a dangerous trek, and an asshole named Gary to find me. Honestly, I’m pretty sure any amount of verbal or physical abuse would be considered justified. But as it is, Jean is pretty vanilla, so she and the Voodoo goddess actually strike up a friendship. How you ask? Apparently she and Gary are in love now, or some such nonsense. Frankly, I’m pretty sure they’re all crazy by this point for exhaustion and malaria and the white goddess herself? Well, I hate to say this, but she seems incredibly ditsy.

Of course, after this quick friendship Gary reminds them they have unfinished business — the ivory smuggling. It is at this point that we find the real mastermind behind all the death, mayhem, and trick animals — Gabby! He’s probably the least-convincing mastermind ever, but his fight scene with Gary is priceless. Mostly because the audience can’t decide which to root for as they are both offensive people. I think you’re supposed to side with Gary, but its really a toss-up. Both Jean and the home-wrecker queen stand idly by, screaming, interjecting with shouts of “Gary!” and not bothering to move when spears are thrown in their direction. Miraculously neither of them are harmed, but the same can’t be said for women’s lib. The movie ends with a huge assault by the superstitious natives on the village and Gary finally getting the better of Gabby with help from one of the amazon women’s well-placed poison blow darts. He dies reciting his favorite, stupid-ass song. The world rejoices. And the longest 61 minutes of your life draw to a close.

Breakdown!

Best Sexual Healing Moment:
Hmm…a toss-up here between Gary’s creepy, pointed questions regarding Jean’s opinion of him, or Jean’s fiancee issuing the forties equivalent of a big ole “fuck you” by standing up his fiancee for a jungle harlot.

Best Tie-In To Real Events:
Umm…trick crows?

Best Un-Real Event:
Probably how cleanly and American the savage voodoo women look. And how not savage they are.

Best Plot Twist:
After building up Jean as an independent woman, they mercilessly tear her down in any remotely dangerous situation.

Best Family Moment:
There’s a lot of home wrecking going on here. Not sure if there are any real families either. The dialogue is too wooden and forced to discern anything like human emotion.

Worst Cast/Crewmember:

I’m going to have to go with John Miljan, who was the obnoxiously-awful narrator throughout this turd of a film.

Best Quote:
Zita, the Amazon Queen: …Greg has promised to marry you, and men are stupid when bound by such promises. All I know is that he loves me, and if he were free, he’d marry me.
Jean Preston: As far as his promise goes, don’t think I would hold him for one instant if he really wanted to be free.
Zita, the Amazon Queen: Do you really mean that honestly?
Jean Preston: Of course, I mean it!
Zita, the Amazon Queen: I’m glad you’re inclined to feel so sensible about it because I would have had you keeled rather than give him up. You see, here in the jungle such things are easily managed, and I’m not bound by the conventional laws of society that hamper you. Greg says that I’m more than half savage, and maybe I am. All I know is that I’m willing to fight for what I want.

My final word? Eh, its not awful enough to be interesting, but not good enough to be interesting either. Its just sort of a bland amalgamation of a bunch of bad adventure novels. There’s nothing really to distinguish it from the many other cheap films I’ve watched. I’ll give it a middle of the road 4/10. As for your moment of zen?





“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” (1964)

27 07 2009

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians! (1964):

“It’s Ho-Ho-Horrible!”

It’s Christmas in July folks and what did I find under the Christmas Palm Tree? Why, it was a big lump of coal called “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.” A 1964 made-for-TV holiday special, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” will be familiar to the MST3K faithful as a film that they mercilessly lampooned in what is widely regarded as one of their best episodes. However, I made the foolish, foolish mistake of watching it without Joel and the Bots. Because, to tell you the truth, this movie is incredibly awful, ineptly executed, and poorly acted. It takes all the kitsch of the holidays and barfs a mixture of eggnog and tinsel all over until your childhood memories of Christmas have been irrevocably perverted. The aftermath of watching this film is bound toleave you feeling more awkward and shame-faced than even that time you woke up next to Angela Lansbury did.

I digress. Seriously though, this movie is campy, but its not campy in the awesome way you’d expect. There’s no Santa-led armada to our red neighbor. Santa doesn’t even fight anyone, actually. He just sort of laughs creepily at everyone. It all starts when:

“Martian children are addicted to Earth’s television shows featuring Santa Claus. This enrages their parents who travel to Earth to kidnap Santa himself. On arrival, they kidnap two zealous children who lead them to Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. They return to Mars with Santa and the children in tow, but are thwarted when he converts the Martian children with unstoppable yuletide joy.”

First off, I call bullshit on this synopsis. This cute little summary makes it sound too organized and too interesting. The reality is, this movie makes little to no sense and is not so much interesting as it is emotionally scarring. If I had to write a summary it would sound a little more like something like this:

“Martian children, being part of the poorly-crafted Cold War allegory that is their shitty lives, long to experience real joy, rather than be confined to their one-dimensional roles as foils for democracy and capitalism. Unfortunately, their constant mind control and stingy, warrior-based society will not allow them to experience real joy. Jealous of Santa and the Earth children, they stop eating and sleeping, which greatly distresses their parents — the King and Queen of Mars. As a result, the King kidnaps Santa and some zany yuletide nonsense follows unintelligibly. Also, Santa laughs creepily about everything.”

Fortunately, I wasn’t given such an onerous task. Still, I get to recount it to you lot, which will be painful. For the both of us. I apologize in advance if I ruin Christmas for you forever. Or if I cause catastrophic organ failure by telling you this sordid, yuletide tale of woe in the dog days of summer. Either way, prepare to have some irrevocable damage done. I know it hurt me. This film hurt me so bad.

As I’ve said a number of times before, the film is an obvious allegory for the Cold War. The Martians, godless, green, oppressive, and without laughter are the “Soviets.” They come from the Red planet. Ideas of happiness, free thought, and not attaching stupid brain helmets to their heads are completely foreign to them — as is the patron saint of capitalism, Santa Claus. The Earthlings, of course, are the freedom-loving, gift-getting, more than slightly obnoxious “West.” Their constant laughter, wonderment, and fondness for adorable sweaters makes them the true bringers of Yuletide joy. The Red Martians on the other hand are a bunch of Grinches. And the children of Mars? All they want is to be free of their ugly, cheaply-made brain helmets and get to see Santa and experience his hypnotic, neurotic, yuletide-inducing laughter firsthand. In fits of depression, the children Bomar and Girmar (get it?), watch disgusting amounts of Earth TV programs — pouring over everything and anything to do with that fat bastard Santa.

Kimar and Momar are getting worried. The children will no longer eat. Nor will they sleep without the help of the Sleep-Shower. Kimar is so desperate to learn what ails them that he actually pretends to give a crap about their depression. He also stops yelling at them to go to bed…for about five seconds. Then he yells again. But for that brief moment of pretending to care, he learns that Martian children pine for the joys of Santa. He knows what he must do. He goes and collects the Martian idiot Dropo, who spreads his moldy old antics throughout the film like manure-enriched humor. Dropo however, is asleep, being the dirty, Red, slacker that he is. Kimar, using the helmeted brain control devices made from only football helmets and the hoses from a ’57 Chevy, manages to wake him up with some creepy burst of energy that tickles him:

What are we doing to our children?

From there he gathers more of his entourage, including the villainous Voldar. How do you know he’s evil? He has an absurdly large, Stalin-esque mustache. He’s also really bitter and has a fondness for appearing with and without his green face makeup throughout various points in the film. He’s immediately against the idea of toys, “happy children underfoot,” and shaving off his offensive facial hair. Even when Voldar and Kimar visit the sketchy old elder in the cave who tells them the children need Santa in a faltering, unnecessarily breathy voice, Voldar fails to be moved. The rest of the film, however, trucks on like a particularly large bowel movement.

Once the old man disappears they all board the royal spaceship which, as it flies through space, looks like someone lit a roll of toilet paper on fire and chucked it at a black background. There’s a lot of unnecessary dialogue here revolving around their trip to Earth as they talk about all the stupidly-named technologies they have on Mars — the “Radar Box,” the “Q-Ray,” “nuclear curtain[s],” and “underground cities.” There may also be mole people. I don’t know. Maybe my brains just started imagining there would be, to make some sense of it all. Because, while the movie initially had a plot, it jumped aboard the Night Train to Mundo Fine and lost me, as well as itself, in the process. The Martians start debating technology, Earth cities, and whether all the Santas at the salvation Army buckets are real Santas or not. Then there is a bunch of stock footage of military stuff being scrambled. Missiles, jets, bombers, and even giant computers with those old-school spinning reels all get kicked into gear and launched against the alien menace — which then activates the “Radar Box” and renders itself invisible.

Then the aliens land somewhere in middle America (apparently) and capture the brother and sister pair Billy and Betty. Now we’ve upped the annoyingly hammy child actor count to four. This film has now entered the “QUADRUPLE THREAT ZONE” where the damaging “Toschio Factor” is taken to the fourth power. The film was reaching catastrophic levels of ham, and also becoming more and more riddled with plot holes and gaping inconsistencies in the makeup department. It’s as if the further they got along into this movie, the more and more they just sort of threw in the towel.

Anyway, the aliens take the children captive at Voldar’s suggestion since he doesn’t trust them to keep the alien plans to kidnap Santa secret. The kids, being naive and stupid, tell them where to find the real Santa. This is only after Betty is briefly confused by the appearance of the Martians with their attenae — to which she asks “Are you a television set?” The Martians, weary of the silly humans — especially Voldar who asks pointedly “Is this what you want to turn us into? A bunch of fools?” — haul the kids off to their ship and fly to the North Pole. As they land and plan their assault on Santa’s workshop, the children escape the inattentive guardianship of Dropo and hurry to warn Santa. Voldar discovers them missing and gets pissed. Kimar is as stoic (boring) as ususal upon hearing this and continues with the assault — adding a robot named “Torgo” to their assault force because he is elite and never fails. He is also made of cardboard, isulation tubing, and a bucket with lights glued on it.

Why do we harm our children so? Why? Why do we teach them sub-par, half-assing is acceptable?

Voldar, however, wants to find the children first. He eventually does, but not before the kids are almost savagely mauled by a man in the worst-looking polar bear suit ever. Not only does it look like total crap, you can actually tell its just a man on his hands and knees. How, you ask? Simple. THE POLAR BEAR ACTUALLY HAS FUCKING KNEES. You see, they just covered his legs in polar bear suit material, but you can clearly see the bottom half of his legs behind his knees as he flails around. In any event, it randomly ambles off, just in time for Torgo and Voldar to discover the children. Torgo awkwardly picks them up and Voldar orders him to kill them, but Torgo won’t because Kimar is the only one who can control him. Blah, blah, blah. Let’s get to the attack on Santa’s workshop already.

Festooned in Christmas cheer, lace, and garish decorations, the interior of Santa’s workshop is suddenly ravaged by Torgo who bursts through the door, scaring the elves, making Santa laugh appreciatively, and getting the obnoxious Mrs. Claus all screechy. Santa, through some unexplained plot-hole witchery is able to freeze Torgo in his tracks, proclaiming “What an exceptional toy! And so well made!” He also laughed. I’m sure he did. The man laughs non-stop. Voldar gets all cranky and re-states the obvious: “Torgo is nothing but a toy!” They then burst into the room and hit everyone with their freeze rays, except Santa. Santa remarks that this is the first time he’s ever seen Mrs. Claus shut the hell up for more than two seconds and gets all maudlin about how all this Martian nonsense isn’t his fault. Thankfully Kimar and the gang head him off before he gets too weepy and they cart him back to Mars with Billy and Betty.

On Mars Kimar sets up an automated factory for Santa, telling him, “You belong to Mars now.” Santa and the chidlren are doomed to never return to Earth. Surprisingly they take it all in stride. Santa with his typical joyful apathy for everything except saying “ho-ho-ho” and making awful jokes. The children just mope around a bit. Other than that though, everyone’s great. That is until Voldar strikes, sabotaging the factory so it makes substandard toys and also kidnapping a Santa-suited Dropo mistaking him for the real thing. Dropo, who now has an unhealthy fascination with becoming Santa himself (which manifests itself in binge-eating so he can be fat like Santa) gets more than he bargained for, but manages to escape when Voldar and his cronies return to the factory to relate their ransom to Kimar. Kimar, Santa, and the children fight back with toys, water, bubbles, and Santa’s totally batshit-crazy laughter. Voldar is finally defeated, Dropo becomes the next Santa, the real Santa completely loses his goddamned marbles, and the children get back to Earth just in time to sing along to the uber-obnoxious theme song.

Breakdown!


Best Sexual Healing Moment:

Kimar: How are you feeling today? Tired?
Santa Claus: Oh, no, I’m not tired. But my finger is.

Best Tie-In To Real Events:
In Soviet Union, all must wear the brain helmets.

Best Un-Real Event:
Hmm, probably a toss-up between yuletide joy ending the Cold War and the actual existence of a “Nuclear Curtain.”

Best Plot Twist:
Santa conquers the Martians…WITH LOVE!

Best Family Moment:

Kimar and Momar stand around awkwardly at the door to the room of their children as Santa cackles mercilessly inside.

Worst Cast/Crewmember:
John Call, who played Santa. Was that dude fucking high the whole time? Because he really crashed bad at the end. Laughing maniacally and pointing and random things.

Best Quote:

Kimar: Santa, you will never return to Earth, you belong to Mars now.
Santa Claus: Ho Ho, Hooo…

God it was truly terrible. I’ll need industrial cleaner and a grout remover to get rid of the chunky bits of poo that attached themselves to my retinas after this. All-in-all a 1/10 for this new holiday tradition. Your moment of zen?





“Kiss Daddy Goodnight” (1988)

6 07 2009

Kiss Daddy Goodnight
She was cold. He was old.”
By Alex Bieler
Hey people. Alex here instead of Aaron. Due to his constant begging and… favors, I have come on as a guest writer. It seems the constant exposure to bad movies has been eating away at Aaron’s brains, similar to the way a zombie would, except not as cool and sans awesome video game based on such an event. After a long search for crappy movies (one night at a Dollar General and the next day at a Dollar Tree. Thank you nice lady of Dollar Tree) I discovered the movie section. Also, it was nice that this crap was on sale, from $1 to fiddy cents. Hells yeah. Anyway, to the task at hand…

Kiss Daddy Goodnight, a self proclaimed “independent neo-noir” from 1988, caught my eye as it was apparently Uma Thurman’s film debut. Also, Steve Buscemi is in it! What can go wrong? Hopefully a lot.

Kiss Daddy Goodnight (which I will now refer to as KDG, because I’m quite lazy) starts with what I’m hesitantly guessing is a trashy fashion show, which is appropriate because people are, in fact, throwing trash at the “models,” which includes Laura (Thurman). Immediately after this we are shown our first example of how badly KDG was filmed AND edited. Thank you Ila Von Hasperg. Not only does every zoom in seem like Michael J. Fox was behind the camera, the zooms are either way too short or unnecessarily long (insert penis joke here).

After some awkward dialogue with her unimportant friend, we sit some awkward silence, all made possible by Sound Editors Patrick Nersesian and Thomas Szabolcs! After our first of many silences is a phone conversation involving Laura and her apparently famous actress mother. This conversation is wooden and has the chemistry of a stump and the stump’s mother, which are both incidentally made of wood, thus being even more wooden. All that is important for the weak plot is that her mother’s birthday is coming up, making her an old wench. Shortly after we see Laura walking through somewhere grungy, where we meet William for the first time! William is old, knows both Laura and her mother, and is fairly nice. He does, however, have a penchant for staring at nothing for long periods after Laura leaves, which I’m sure means nothing whatsoever… right?

This is the rabbit that came up on screen and scared the crap out of me due to the already noted shitty editing. However I forgive its transgressions as it is adorable and has no lines of dialogue. This rabbit marks the first scene with Sid, who remarkably looks like the child that would emerge if Matt Dillon, Marlon Brando and Bert from Sesame Street jerked off in the same cup. He is accompanied by a woman that “knows rabbits when [she] sees them.” She drops him off and we never see from her or her bunny spotting skills again.

Afterwards we sit through really dark footage (not dark in plot, I just can’t friggin’ see, thanks to Lighting Director Aldo Tonazzo. Did anyone do their job on this set?) until our “femme-fatale” finds some rich douche. This leads me to state that no rich person would be found dead in that poorly-lit, grungy as hell danceclub. I now call shenanigans on KDG. Laura go to this rich horndog’s house, where she eventually drugs him after she drops her glass which magically makes no sound after falling on the ground. She ends up stealing some stuff, including a dagger which is zoomed in on (badly) quite often in possibly the least subtle attempt at foreshadowing ever. She also steals his cat, which she puts in her apartment and is never seen from again, causing me to worry for this cat.
She eventually meets up with Bert, I mean Sid, who is looking for Johnny in order to start a band again. He also says the cops are looking for him, but I severely doubt this because there are no cops that look for him in the entire movie. His search is boring, and includes him talking to a man while he is using a urinal. Exhilarating. Laura has dinner with William, who stills seems pretty nice, until we see pictures of his daughter Lara, who looks like Laura, and starts the suspiscions that William likes Laura because she reminds him of his daughter, which is just plain creepy. After Laura leaves we see William go and pick up none other than the rabbit, which he pets whilst staring oddly at pictures of his daughter. In a flashback we see his ability to make pigeons disperse by staring at them. William steadily becomes more creepy.
Eventually Sid looks around enough that he finds Johnny, who’s played by the undeniably awesome Steve Buscemi. Despite the awkward dialogue, his weird love for a dog toy and the quick solution (Sid aks Johnny to join a new join with him, Johnny essentially says “ah, hell no.”) Buscemi is the most fun to watch, just because he’s STEVE BUSCEMI. Despite being one of the two headliners for the movie, he only has 3 minutes and 20 seconds of screen time. However his loving stare at the dog toy does amuse for much longer than that.
In less exciting news, Laura finds and drugs a new guy, this one an art critic. I swear, if all you do is steal some stuff, you shouldn’t be called a Femme Fatale on the back of your DVD cover. I mean, fatale is one letter away from fatal, so you should at least TRY to kill someone. Once more I call shenanigans. Sid gets a job to make Laura happy, so I will assume he has no spine. After she leaves the art critic’s house, a mysterious car follows her, eventually trapping her in an alley. You can’t see in the car from her perspective (it’s too dark, no surprise there), but we see that William is in the car with some random guy, and tells the man to drive away after scaring Laura. When she gets home she calls none other than the very William that wanted to scare her! GASP! She goes to his house, where he comforts her (get those dirty thoughts out of your head) by telling her “you can never trust anyone.” Go figure. Soon we discover that the rabbit’s name is Spinoza! When she leaves they say some more awkward lines followed by 20 freaking seconds of silence. DAMN YOU ILA VON HASPERG.
At her apartment Sid discovers Laura’s wigs for her rich guy prowling. They fight for a minute, then are suddenly friends again, and they end up having sex about a minute later, showing you how fast mood swings can be. The next morning, Laura’s mother calls about her birthday again, asking Laura to come by. After they hang up the phone, someone knocks on mom’s door. “Who?” you ask? It’s a stranger! But you can tell it’s William when he says “happy birthday.” Eventually Laura shows up, finds her mom dead (OMG Liek who did it!?), shows no emotion about this and has 20 second scuffle with a stranger armed with a flashlight! She runs like a dirty coward. William is exposed (Liek no wai!) as he calls Sid and tells him that something bad has happened and to meet him in a parking lot. At the parking lot William gives Sid the mom’s ring and shanks him like an Oakland Raiders fan before a game. Laura finds Sid with the ring and blood on his shirt and runs to William, believing Sid to have done the deed. It should be noted the chase scene is short and very crappy and involves her throwing a trashbag down a stairwell at him. I call it karma.

William locks the door on Sid, claiming that no one can get in. He holds Laura and admits his love to Laura, become REALLY creepy in the process. He even reads poetry to her. POETRY!! The fiend… Laura eventually realizes who actually murdered her mum and they struggle while William tries to mount Laura on his bed, right in front of the once-innocent Spinoza. Meanwhile, Sid is going up the fire-escape and slowly (very slowly) breaking thorugh the window. Laura gets free and grabs the knife she stole from her first victim. William slowly approaches and is stabbed as he tries to hug her. Sid walks in. The whole sequence is almost as dull as the entire movie.

The movie ends with a passage of poetry that I didn’t read because I didnt care. I also have no idea where the go the title from. I was just happy the movie was done.
Breakdown! (Lovingly stolen from Aaron because I can)
Best Sexual Healing Moment:

After waking up with each other, Laura plays around with the knife she stole, poking it at Sid after a night of him poking his “sword” at her.

Best Tie-In To Real Events:

Steve Buscemi is the best part of everything.

Best Un-Real Event:

Very wealthy people going home with women they find in shitholes. They just buy women.

Best Plot Twist:

Finding out after the movie that the actor that played Sid is Paul Dillon, Matt Dillon’s older, much less famous, brother, thus my joke about his brother jacking off into a sperm donor cup regrettable, but still amusing.

Best Family Moment:

Laura reluctantly agreeing to go to her mother’s house on her birthday.

Worst Cast/Crewmember: (NEW, just to piss off Aaron):

This is tough, as the lighting, sound and editing were horrid. However, the prize goes to Sound Editors Patrick Nersesian and Thomas Szabolcs, as there were TWO of them and they still fucked up!

Best Quote:

“What do the cops want you for”

“Robberies”
“Of what?”
“Music stores”
“I guess that’s one way to break into the music business.”

I’m sad to admit that my first movie was undeniably boring. I wouldn’t say KDG was terrible, but all the intangibles sucked big time. I’m most angry at the amount of lies on the DVD case. Femme Fatale? Steve Buscemi as a headliner? Please. I’d have to say a 4/10 for Uma’s first try.
Your moment of zen?

"You use christmas lights instead of lightbulbs? It's BRILLIANT!"