801-"Revenge Of The Creature" (1955)-B&W-MST3K,
ignominiously dumped from Comedy Central's 1997 schedule, found a home
on the Sci-Fi network, in part, by agreeing to concentrate on the science
fiction genre in the 13 shows produced for this inagural season.
The first movie, the only 3-D sequel to a 3-D film (the 1954 classic "Creature
From The Black Lagoon"), stars B-movie mainstay, John Agar and featured
Clint Eastwood's debut performance (he's a lab assistant), is but a minor
backdrop to the bigger changes which have occurred with the Peabody Award-winning
television show. When we last left Mike and Co., they had become
pure energy-type things at the edge of the universe while Pearl Forrester
(Mary Jo Pehl) was given another opportunity to raise baby Clayton Forrester
(Trace Beaulieu). Since that time, however, Beaulieu left the program,
taking Crow's voice with him. Fans were worried over the past year
on how this would effect the whole bad-movie-watching-scenerio, but in
a stroke of genius, the SOL returned to Earth, but the Earth of the future,
"Planet Of The Apes" style, with Pearl as the all-powerful demi-dominatrix,
who continues to hound them with poor examples of cinematic compost, as
well as chase them across the universe in a Volkswagen van. The monkey
costumes also allow Kevin Murphy and others to re-create Deep 13, a la
Bedrock, and make Clay's absence a bit more soothing to take. I hope they
continue with this concept. Crow's voice, however, with new writer, Bill
Corbett taking over, sounds like a hyperkenetic Josh Weinstein, and that
threw me for a loop before I got used to it. He also makes Crow as
tentative as Clay did during the KTMA and Seaon One years, and needs to
work on his puppeteer skills. He does, however, have a decent old Jewish
The quips, which began slowly at first, hit their stride around the middle of the film, and by the conclusion, the trio seemed to feel comfortable with one another. It was a bit hard to enjoy since many of us who call ourselves "fans," were on the edge of our seats hoping the show would not fall flat on it's face. Thank goodness it didn't, and even though there was a ridiculous number of psychic phone line ads, the riffs and sketches, which included trying to repair the SOL, Crow making coffee, and Tom's dealing with a hilarious alien, were good enough to make this a B- episode, which bodes well for the future, when some REALLY bad films will be viewed.
802-"The Leech Woman" (1960)-B&W-After
a lame introductory sketch about Crow vacuuming prairie dogs (and then
denying it), the apes in Deep 13 are shown wearing diapers and tutus, rollerskating
and riding tricycles as they introduce the film, a supposed horror installment
about a woman who resorts to several murders in an effort to stay young
and beautiful. It's been a long time since I laughed out loud at so many
riffs (at least since "The Sword And the Dragon"-see #617) fired at such
a quick pace. This episode reminded me of the heady days when the show
was younger and not afraid to be politically-incorrect, which was why I
became a fan. Great lines, such as, "Real Africa-Hollywood Africa!"; "This
is the fifties, why am I explaining things to a WOMAN?! Get in the
car!"; "Should I trust him? Whadda you folks think at home?
We'll be right back."; "Uh, let's see, I reach speeds of seventy, she goes
three miles an hour, and I can't catch her."; and "Miss Jane Pittman and
George Clinton were wed today.", among others, pepper this silly tale of
an alcoholic oldster, June Talbot (Coleen Gray), shunned by her endocrinologist
husband (Phillip Terry) and despising her looks, who journeys to "Africa"
(via stock footage) and gets revenge and beauty, but then has to continue
"borrowing" male pineal gland juice to keep that look. In addition to this
insanity, the director (Ed Dein) contrived a convenient way to avoid having
too many cast members by making the doctor's nurse his lawyer's girlfriend.
And while most of the acting is either wooden (Terry), or over-the-top
(Gray), there is one exception. Playing the part of the Malla, old bag
who brings everything together, Estelle Hemsley (better known as the mother
of "actor" Sherman Hemsley) reminds me of a black version of Maria Ouspenskaya
in "The Wolf Man." One of the best actresses in an MST3K film in
quite a while, she gives a sincere and
convincing performance. Unfortunately, she isn't on the screen very long, and we're forced to deal with the other amateurs.
But, with such rapid-fire, right-on-target MiSTing, this one was enjoyable from beginning to end, and, with the exception of the first skit, the rest were in top form. Even the the whole "nanite" concept, which seemed pretty goofy to me last week, was hilarious as the strike sequence featured Mary Jo Pehl intoning, "It were during the union summer the pairie fires started. Some say they caved that mine in on purpose, but I just couldn't hardly believe it. Ma told me just to mind myself." in a bumpkin-type monotone. Other sketches included Pearl giving her first laws as "The Lawgiver" ("No parking on Sundays and no soup with buffet."), the robots trying to drain Mike's pineal gland, and, in one of the most creative and funny closers in years, Servo (who had been yelling, "Jedddd!" throughout the film), in a grey wig and dress, forces Mike and Crow at gunpoint to participate in a bizarre "Beverly Hillbillies" reading ("Oh nonsense, Granny Clampett is a complex and highly nuanced character."). Simply marvelous. An "A-" show all the way. Here's hoping this trend will continue.
803-"The Mole People" (1956)-B&W-Episode
opens with amusing sketch about Crow (Bill Corbett) as an evil "space child,"
complete with flashing eyes from the J & B Novelty Co., about to enslave
the crew, and the Apes, forced by Pearl, to honor her with "Lawgiver Daze,"
("All are ordered to make merry and be light of heart under pain of horrible
and lingering death."). Tom and Crow, meanwhile, are in charge of
the event's bake sale, and while Crow takes a dive off of a "mile-high"
lemon pie, Pearl discovers Professor Bobo (Kevin Murphy) doesn't really
care for the whole affair, forcing him to beg for forgiveness ("Oh, kill
me, Lawgiver. No
other punishment will do!") Film then begins with a "Dr. Frank C. Baxter," a professor of English at USC, postulating on the existance of life beneath the surface of the Earth. This ridiculous disclaimer is MiSTed perfectly. We then see the Grade B-movie mug of John Agar ("Revenge Of The Creature," see #801, and one of Shirley Temple's ex-husbands) along with MST3K veteran, Hugh Beaumont ("The Lost Continent" and "The Human Duplicators") as archealogists searching for a lost tribe of Sumerians on some mountain somewhere, with annoying Nestor Pavia (Load), and barely-seen Phil Chambers along for the dig. Falling into a plothole left over from "Alien From L.A.," Pavia and Chambers are conveniently knocked off as Agar and Beaumont stumble upon an underground matte painting. There they discover two separate races, a pale, sophisticated, badly-dressed, ruling class, and their slaves, ignorant, hunchbacked and clothed in cheap costumes from the second season of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," (see Jerry and Sylvia). Brandishing their only weapon, a Radio Shack flashlight, the two are able to subdue everyone in their path, thus become diety-like objects. However, in an attempt to be the Abe Lincoln of the nether regions, Agar envokes the wrath of Ishtar, not to mention a weirdly-accented Alan Napier (Alfred the Butler on the "Batman" TV series). Soon the mole men come to his rescue, allowing him, Beaumont, and "marked one" love interest, Adad (Cynthia Patrick), to scramble up a hole to escape. Not having very much intelligence, though, Adad inexplicably runs back to the pit only to be crushed by a falling pillar. Although not as drop dead hilarious as last week's gem, "The Mole People" has its classic riffs, such as "Four million in revenue bonds, and THIS is the bridge you get."; "Treasure these brief moments when John Agar ISN'T talking!"; "You know, I think I'd rather watch David Crosby eating a McRib sandwich than watch THIS scene."; It's a pride of Dr. Smiths!"; "Cruel (punishment), but she DID drop the mushrooms."; and "Ishtar's gonna fry somebody's ass for booking her." And the skits, Mike's impression of "Dr. Frank C. Baxter," Servo's failure as a Burl Ives-type balladeer ("You're STILL better than Marc Cohn!"), Crow finding archealogical evidence of himself, two Sumerians (Patrick Brantseg and Paul Chapin) found living on the SOL ("Oh, you are the marked ones! I sentence you to die!"), and Pearl being given "Howard" (Robert Smith) as a well-oiled gift, are funny, if not laugh-out-loud, side-splittingly so. A rather competent show that I liked enough to give a "B" to.
804-"The Deadly Mantis" (aka-"The Incredible
Praying Mantis") (1957)-B&W- As Servo attempts to introduce "Casual
Day" on the SOL, the Apes in Deep 13 try to repair an atomic warhead belonging
to a bunch of bomb-worshipping mutants (a la "Beneath The Planet of the
Apes") only to have it explode, wiping out Earth (again). While this
is going on, Mike and the robots are forced to watch a Universal cheapie
that begins with a small island in the Wendall Sea blowing up, releasing
a flood of stock footage showing this nation's various lines of radar defenses
in the 1950's, as well as a giant, unseen menace, which later turns out
to be a big praying mantis, hence, the title. The principals in this
lame "thriller" are, Craig Stevens ("Since You Went Away," "S.O.B," and
TV's "Peter Gunn") as Air Force colonel Joe Parkman; William Hopper ("Conquest
Of Space," and "Rebel Without A Cause") as Dr. Nedrick Jackson; and Alix
Talton as Marge Blaine ("the budget Rosalind Russell"). They are
joined by a few others, notably Paul Smith ("Dune," "Gor," and "Maverick")
as a "Corporal" in the unfunny Sid Melton mold (see #208, "Lost Continent,"
and #520, "Radar Secret Service"), as well as the huge, lumbering, not-so-special
effect that plays the title character. Accompanied in
flight by what sounds like the United Servo Men's Academy Chorus, this goofy, lethargic, barely-frightening creature manages to damage a few buildings in the North Pole, eat a couple of idiots here and there, and land on the Washington Monument, but that's about it, before meeting its doom in the Holland Tunnel. It also causes a bunch of Eskimoes to grab their kayaks and paddle real fast in a hilarious sequence, but not much else. The presence of such a giagantic mutant, however, does not stop Stevens and Talton from making out in the front seat of his Ford, or, at the end of the film, in front of the dead insect (or 20 other guys standing around watching), but then again, this was the era of large bugs and lotsa hanky panky. Or so it would seem. Once more, the crew manages some classic riffs ("Filmed in bald-spot vision."; "It's the Mighty Quinn!"; "Oh man, he's Donny-Mosting out of control."; "I will destroy Christmas this year. I will."; "Where'd you stash your 30-foot claw, ma'am?"; and "Typical human. Brings a gun to a car fight."), although most are average, at best. The sketches, though, including Pearl and Professor Bobo escaping the blast and pursuing the SOL, nothing but county & western on the satellite's radio, the alien who begins to digest Crow, and who becomes a meatloaf, are all well-done, giving this week's show a "B-" in my gradebook.
805-"The Thing That Couldn't Die" (1958)-B&W-MiSTies
like myself may find themselves becoming spoiled after the fifth week of
Season Eight. This is another superb tour de force; a combination
of on-target riffs, funny sketches, and a film (another Universal-International
"fright" fest) that holds the viewer's interest long enough for the quips
to take effect. The opening segment has Mike & Co. being whisked
away from wherever they were to a planet populated by "The Observers;"
Paul Chapin, Bill Corbett, a nd Nelson in white face make-up, black robes,
who carry their blue brains in large petri dishes. The trio, who
constantly refer to the SOL's occupants as "like amoebas," and boast of
their superior intellect, are nevertheless under the large feet of Pearl
Forrester, who, with Professor Bobo (Kevin Murphy) are now "guests" on
the planet. After that banter, it's movie time, and despite what
others may feel, this film is not that bad. In fact, it's one of
the few I could watch unMiSTed (if I had absolutely NOTHING else to do).
Jessica (Carolyn Kearney) is a "dowser," or a person who locates water
by means of a "divining rod." While engaged
in this rather bizarre activity on her Aunt Flavia's (a senile performance by Peggy Converse) farm, and spurred on by a group of miscreants, including perverted artist, Hank (Jeffrey Stone); his Suzanne Pleshette-look-a-like squeeze, Linda (Andra Martin-not to be confused with ANDREA Martin of SCTV), obligatory stud, Gordon (William Reynolds); and two farmhands, the lubricious Ash (Forrest Lewis-who reminded me of the racist Bob Euell character in "To Kill A Mockingbird"), and the dim-witted, Lon Chaney,
Jr. knock-off, Mike (Charles Horvath), she detects something "evil" under the soil, and refuses to cooperate further. Ignoring her portents, Flavia orders the two hired hands to dig up the chest that Reynolds says "could be worth thousands." As usual, greed takes over, and the two goofballs break the box's seal only to discover that instead of untold riches, it contains only the decapitated cranium of Gideon Drew (Robin Ash), which prompts Servo's comment of "Bring me the head of Edward Mulhare.". The head, duly lopped off in the 16th century by Sir Francis Drake, now begins to take on a life of its own, much like the arm in "The Crawling Hand" (see #106) and the skull of Vi in "Tormented" (see #414), as its "evil" eyes cause normally stupid people to become abnormally stupid killers. All of this is done in an effort to reunite the long-separated noggin with Drew's body, so that the cycle of "evil" can start all over again (he even manages to get his hypnotized dupes to carry him around by the hair). However, wearing a protective amulet found in a rat's nest, Jessica is able to defeat Drew in a rather uneventful and witless conclusion, turning him into a cheap prop from "Teenagers From Outer Space." Continuing the trend that started halfway through "Revenge Of The Creature," Mike and the 'bots fire shot after hilarious verbal shot at this picture, blurting out such winners as, "You're all evil and I hope you have snacks!"; "He's a geometrical savant."; "Old-timer Billy Slater's doin' three years community service."; "Insert me into her cleavage and GET LOST!"; "You know, I hope this doesn't stain like the mummy last summer."; and "The whole movie was leading up to this (closing cleavage) shot." They also manage to parody "Oklahoma!" a few times with, "There's a dark, oily film on my headband," and "There's a black, greasy stain on my pillow.", as well as to insert a few really obscure lines, including, "Ever since we pulled you (Jessica) outta that well." (referring to the 1987 baby Jessica incident), and "Have you seen the 'Children's Hour'?", which is a film about lesbianism. One skit, which features Chapin, as an impartial, albeit annoying Observer, who comes aboard the SOL to study the occupants (he describes Crow as "one of the odd, grim marionettes that accompany the biped.", and Mike as "an ungangly, peach-colored creature."), is terrific. Other segments have Mike being beaten up by "Finnigan" (Chapin), Emperor Hadrian (Murphy), and Adrienne Barbeau (Bridget Jones); Crow's massive 18-part "Civil War" documentary; and Mike's failed attempt to scare Crow with Servo's disembodied head. I also like the relationship between Pearl and Bobo (who would rather sleep on a rock than upset her), which is like the one Dr. F and TV's Frank had in the early days (see especially the tupperwear sketch in "Catalina Caper" (#204). This very funny episode earns a "B+" from me, but also a lingering fear that these high grades may have to come down sometime.
806 - The Undead
Regression therapy, so controversial here in America, fails miserably on Mike, too, as he goes back to the time he was fired from a temp job, causing Crow to whisper, "Uh, Mike honey, y-you're scaring us."
Meanwhile, the Observers give out IQ tests to every one. The results show that Crow slept on his (it's full of drool), Mike and Bobo are idiots, Gypsy scored an 88 (high for a robot of her type), and that Servo is smarter than the Observer played by Bill Corbett. Pearl, on the other hand, considers the quiz "sexist" and slams it into Paul Chapin's brain pan.
To understand the film, a person has to know a little bit about the Bridey murphy phenomenon that took place in the 1950's. Evidently someone hypnotized a woman into regressing back to Ireland in the 1850s, where she lived in a past life. Her ability to name things only from that period left many believing in reincarnation, while others scoffed that it was a sham.
Never one to let a current cultural blip escape him, Roger Corman's "The Undead," tackled this issue with the same hard-hitting, documentary-style that his previous film "Creature From The Haunted Sea" addressed the Castro regime, or "Gunslinger" touched on topics in the Old West.
Anyway, a quack psychologist pulls a hooker off the street, and, for no apparent reason, puts her under in an attempt to contact one of her past lives. The boring hynotism scene is only interrupted (at least when I saw it) by an equally dull Bob Villa commercial pushing a "Pocket Socket."
The prostitute eventually does go back-to Medivial times-and has just been sentenced to death for bewitching idiot (Grave)Digger Solkin. Corman then tries to get arty by introducing witchcraft, Satanism, philosohy and 1950s psychobabble (not to mention terrible acting by all concerned) to offer the suggesting that the woman should die now, so she can live later.
This doesn't make much sense, since she would be reincarnated anyway, no matter WHEN or HOW she dies in this present existence. To make matters worse, the hypnotist then hynotizes HIMSELF (don't ask HOW) and goes back to convince her to have her head chopped off, even convincing the Devil (a prissy actor with a deformed Adam's apple) to RENT her soul, or something like that.
There's plenty of Medivial stuff like a woman hiding in a coffin with a bearded corpse, guards and witches and Bruno Ve Sota (whose appeared in more MST3K films, including "Daddy-O," "Gunslinger," "The Giant Leeches," among others, than almost any other actor) getting his head cut off. There was another decapitation scene, in which dozens of townspeople gathered to see a witch go to the chopping block, and when the axe falls, they all turn AWAY, causing Tom to comment, "What did they EXPECT?!"
The worst of Corman's crimes, however, is in casting the annoying midget Billy Barty, who plays a retarded imp so irritatingly that you just want to reach back in time and slap the crap out of him.
A dumb, dumb movie, but the gang gets off a few zingers with, "Dirty, greasy walls, a short-lived design trend."; "This is how Anthony Quinn's wife must feel." "Corman's theory of directing-light and get away." "Sir Bob of Packwood!"; "If this was a Coen brothers' film, he'd be in the woodchippers so fast......"; "Fight choreography by Leo Sayer."; "The June Taylor Corpses!"; and "I've never known more about what ISN'T going on in a movie."
The sketches are pretty good, too, as Crow, being smarter than everyone else is made into an Observer, but is caught stealing spoons, soliciting a goofy Three Stooges-like chase. Then Bridgette Jones pops aboard the SOL and turns into a cat, bird, baby hammock, football, inflatable penguin, Pearl Forrester, and a bottle of bleach. Later, Mike finds and plays part of his Digger Smolkin LP featuring the voice of Kevin Murphy "signing" such greats as "Send in the Clowns"; "I Cain't say No"; Seventy-six Trombones"; "Hello Walls"; "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes"; "Beethoven's Fifth Symphony"; and "Greensleeves.
The closer has Crow as an imp as Servo reveals that Leonard Maltin actually gave the film three stars. Tom is so disgusted by this idiotic move, that he forces Mike to don glasses and a fake beard and read a prepared script detailing what a moron he (Maltin) is for doing so ("I renounce this and all I stand for.").
Then in a ten-minute tour de force, Bobo makes a sandwich out of Bill Corbett's brain, mistaking the Enhancement Chamber for the fridge. Hey, who wouldn't? Despite Ve Sota and Barty, I give this one a solid B, for being, at least, entertaining.
809-"I Was A Teenage Werewolf" (1957)-B&W-This
one opens as Servo, for whatever reason, decides that Mike, due to incompetence,
should no longer be in charge of the satellite. Unfortunately, no
one ELSE wants to be in charge, either, so it's Nelson's command again.
While this is going on, Pearl, Bobo, and Observer Corbett are camping out,
and place the SOL's security systems on battery power, which causes the
shields to become disabled, allowing an alien to enter and attach itself
to Servo's face. The film, another Universal-American-International black
and whiter, stars Michael Landon (who has appaeared on TV Guide more than
any male in history) as Tony, the troubled youth (actually he's a JERK),
whose trips to a psychiatrist (Whit Bissell) result in regression, injections,
lycanthropy, two dead teens and a slaughtered dog. Really the movie
is just an updated
version of "The Mad Monster" (see #103) with better special effects (as if THAT'S saying anything). Tony's girlfriend, Arlene, (Yvonne Lime) spends most of the picture apologizing for his boorish and offensive behavior, and when he's killed at the end, no one (especially in the audience) cares very much. MiSTies may also have a "High School Bigshot" flashback when they see Malcolm Atterbury ("Apple's Way") playing the same boozy, widowed father character, and the stock newspaper shot after the first murder contains the same "Building Code Under Fire" headline that we've seen (literally) a dozen times before. Also look for Guy Williams (John Robinson of "Lost In Space" fame) as a policeman and Grade-B horror actor, Vladimir Sokoloff, as "Pepi," the all-knowing janitor. There are some great opportunities for riffs here, and Mike and Co. do not let us down, coming up with zingers like, "I'd better go back to work on the Black Dahlia case."; "Bruno Hauptmann and Julie Nixon cut up on the dance floor."; "When clowns mate."; "Ralph Fiennes IS Little Abner."; and "I was a teenage DORKwolf!" I cannot, however, say the same about the skits. It seems that they could have done a lot more with the whole alien on the SOL-thing, besides have Tom dress as Rambo (his crying WAS funny, though), and then making omelettes out of the eggs. Even the closer, where Pearl frightens her two minions by telling them scary stories, was lame. Kind of disappointing after so many weeks of great shows. Gotta give this one a "C", though, and hope the coming weeks provide us with better material.
810-"The Giant Spider Invasion" (1975)-Color-There's
nothing "giant" about this movie except a huge yawn, but more about that
later. Episode begins as Tom (getting sillier and sillier as Season
Eight goes on), dressed as a cheerleader, tries to give the SOL a little
"spirit." Unfortunately, Mike and Crow are having none of it.
Meanwhile, on an unnamed planet, Pearl, Bobo (Kevin Murphy) and The Observer
(Bill Corbin) are camping when they are turned into zombies by large zucchini/throw
only Bobo and Mike remain unscathed. As far as the movie, other reviewers have wondered, "why was this film made in 1975?" I'll go one step further and pose this query, "why was it made AT ALL?!" After a strange meteorite falls, an ignorant Wisconsin cracker farmer (Robert Easton-he also co-wrote this crap) and his drunken mate (it's never made clear exactly WHAT their relationship is) find several stones on their dilapidated property. Speaking of Easton, never has there been a more repulsive lead character in cinematic history (yet he has TWO women fawning over him, I guess it pays to be one of the writers) thank goodness he's devoured halfway through the picture. Anyway, this dimwit believes them to be diamonds, but in reality, they're spider eggs, thus the title. At first the arachnids are only tarantulas who crawl about harmlessly, but then we see several muppet-like creations (one even powered by a small car) that supposedly kill a few idiots here and there. Later, more "die" during a hilarious county fair riot scene, but who cares? In fact, the entire cast, which includes Alan Hale, Jr. (the sheriff, making his third MST3K appearance),
Barbara Hale (played Della Street on the old "Perry Mason" show), and Steve Brodie (MiSTies will remember this guy as the vice-president of the Ajax Development Corporation" from "The Wild, Wild World Of Batwoman"), among others, would make the stars of Tom Browning's "Freaks" look like supermodels. The film's only "stud," reporter Dave Perkins (Kevin Brodie), with his pink, flabby face, pageboy hair style and silk, multi-colored shirt, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that there were NO good-looking
people in the 1970's. The "special" effects aren't, and the whole mess has one yearning for the high-tech production values of "Plan 9 From Outer Space." So, if you like fat, homely, greasy, inbred morons, or pudgy, middle-aged people rolling down hills, then this film is for you, otherwise, rent "Mannequin II: On The Move." Despite all of this, Mike and Co. make a valiant attempt to help it go down easier. Lines such as "Meanwhile, a glowing splint from a high school vo-tech class speeds towards Earth,"; "Not a joke, but an incredible simulation,"; "This movie tested well with sexual predators,"; "Honey, let's play William Burroughs and Joan," "The family in `Tobacco Road' had a better farm than THIS!"; and "Charles Manson, jeweler," aid in that process. The skits, all
running gags about aliens taking over the bodies of their sleeping hosts, aren't particularily memorable, except for the one where Servo has trouble convincing Mike and Crow of his real identity in the face of his monotoned doppleganger. Not as good as past shows this season, but still enjoyable enough to earn a "C+" grade.
812-"The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who
Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies" (aka "The Teenage Psycho Meets
Bloody Mary," "The Incredibly Strange Creatures") (1963)-Show opens with
Crow and Tom soliciting donations from Mike (Crow's for W.A.L.K.A.T.H.O.N.,
Servo's for Helping Children Through Research And Development, which is
one huge acronym). Meanwhile, Pearl is driving home the Space Children
from last week's episode, leaving Bobo and Observer on an unnamed planet
to send the film to the SOL. This results in a hilarious still store photo
of the two ("Professor Bobo-Ape, Has Red Butt" and "Observer, Pale, Carries
His Own Brain") and an implied crap-throwing sequence. As for the
movie, well, let's just say it makes
"Manos" look like "The Bicycle Thief" and is a picture that only Timothy Leary and William Burroughs could love. In fact, it makes me want to put a shot glass on top of Ray Dennis Steckler's head and play William Tell. A film about the carnival sideshow that even Zip, the What-Is-It wouldn't watch. But, like most of Season Eight, Mike and Co. do a great job on the inane dialogue, awful cinematography and horrid production values, riffing like mad at what has to be one of the single worst films EVER made. Steckler, who briefly appeared in "Eegah!," takes the Orson Welles role here, producing, directing and starring. Utilizing the ridiculous
pseudonym, "Cash Flagg," he falls below the Coleman Francis plateau, earning kudos as the most inept person to ever make a movie. Playing deadbeat Jerry, Steckler is joined by his completely unintelligible partner, Harold (Atlas King) as they encounter an ugly palm reader, Madame Estrella (Bret O'Hara), while taking his stupid girlfriend, Angie (Sharon Walsh) to a cheap carnival. For reasons only clear to a complete idiot, Jerry is soon hypnotized to commit several silly murders before being splashed with acid, running to the beach and being killed. In between are horrible musical numbers ("The Mixed-Up Zombie Stomp," "It's Not You,"
"The Pied-Piper Of Love" and "Schick Out Of Shape") embarrassing dance routines, totally unarousing strippers and some of the most unintentionally hilarious camera work ever seen. I'm sorry, but some reviews praise Joseph V. Mascelli for the latter achievement, but it's just plain annoying and amateurish. In addition, the acting would make Tommy Kirk and Tor Johnson cringe, and Steckler is about as sexuelly alluring in this lead role as Rondo Hatten. The only decent jobs are performed by the demented cretin, Ortega (Jack Brady), and the two crazed zombies who appear at the end. Tom's freakout (like most of the audience's, no doubt) and quips such as "Ray Dennis Steckler must have had some issues with women."; "Recorded on Edison cylinder."; "Ladies and gentleman, Leslie Bore!"; "But first I'm going to unnaturally twirl my umbrella at you."; "A dimension not of sight and sound but of CRAP!" and "At long last movie, have you NO decency?!", among others, add to the overall hilarity. The sketches, for the most part, are also great, especially the hair sketch where Mary Jo Pehl perfectly impersonates a ditzy hairstylist ("Has your head always been this big?", "Is today your day off?") and the Ortega Catering skit. All in all, a terrific, funny, grade "A" experience. Another Sci-Fi Channel masterpiece that makes one wonder what "Comedy" Central executives are thinking right now.
813-"Jack Frost" (aka-"Morozhko") (Russian-1966)-Color-To
begin with, Mike is Michael Flatley, "Lord of the Dance," but Gypsy fails
to be impressed. Then, while Pearl is driving the Space Children home,
Bobo (Kevin Murphy) and Observer (Bill Corbin) argue over who's "in charge."
Mike, taking on the mantel of "Dr. Laura," is willed to the planet and
upon the discovery of Corbin's crippling body odor problem, a breakthrough
is made. The movie, on the other hand, is as depressing a vision
as anything else coming out of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, including
such goodies as poverty, oppression and governmental corruption.
A disturbingly horrid version of "Cinderella," this picture is populated
with the usual untalented Russo-Finnish "actors" and retarded special effects
seen in such stupid films as "The Magic Voyage Of Sinbad" and "The Sword
And The Dragon." I'm sorry, but when I read the "Variety" reviews
stating that this is "an enchanting tale," and "the competition between
U.S. and the U.S.S.R. is
heating up into a `hot war,'" I can't help but think of how full of crap the writers were. Let's face it, the only lasting effects of Communism, if judged by "Jack Frost," was their ability to constantly reverse the film. But I digress. The plot, what there is of it, has goofy blonde braggart, Ivan (Eduard Isotov, no explanation is given for amazing strength, by the way) following a feather, meeting a mushroom gnome, turning into a bear, meeting the overly cute Nastenka (Natasha Sedyka), fighting a witch ("Baba Yaga," played by Yuri Milyar) and defeating a group of bearded reprobates. Fortunately, the producers made NO attempt to translate the songs, and the dubbing is ten levels below ANYTHING Sandy Frank or K. Gordon Murray could have thought up. It's a nightmarish movie that is NOT charming, or even appealing. More like the last film someone would have watched before being executed in one of the many Soviet Blood Purges, or something only Jeffrey Dahmer could enjoy. The gang, however, does their best to make mincemeat of the silliness, banging out such gems as "I thought Jerry Garcia was Father Mushroom."; "Every time I meet a man, he's either gay or a bear."; "Beauty consultant, Mrs. Kruschev."; "The pond scum is fleeing in terror from her face!"; "Come to Knott's Berry Farm and ride the Unstable House." and "Proving again that slightly unattractive people ARE evil." The skits during the film, Crow spending Mike's money to hire Yackov Schmirnoff and a butcher (Paul Chapin) to explain the movie, and then turns into a bear, are kind of lame, but the closer, in which Bobo and the Brain Guy argue over the best "ape" film, makes up for them. All in all, I find that the more ridiculous the picture, the funnier the MSTing and this is no exception here. A bit weak on the sketches, but the riffs are good enough to earn it a "B-" grade.
814- RIDING WITH DEATH (Made for
TV-1976)-Color-Mike, like an insane chef at Benihana's, is slicing and
dicing everything in sight, including Crow's hand, as the show opens. Meanwhile,
Pearl calls from an embattled planet (where "renegade, war-like robots"
are running amok) asking for air support. Mike complies by mixing household
items, creating a lethal bomb, and destroying the entire world, his third,
"Film," is nothing more than two episodes of the short-lived (actually, that's an understatement, considering the show lasted only from Sept. 23 to Oct. 28, 1976) NBC series, "Gemini Man," which was itself simply a re-warmed version of David McCallum's "The Invisible Man," also a failure from the same network earlier that year.
To late-coming MiSTies, the concept of tying two shows together from unsuccessful series began in the KTMA years with "Cosmic Princess" (merely "Space: 1999"), and continued with "Master I & II" ("The Master"), but this one reaches an all-time low.
In this program, Ben Murphy ("Being From Another Planet," "Alias Smith & Jones") plays "Sam Casey," an employee of Intersect (a government think-tank of some kind), who, because of an underwater explosion, and by using a special watch, has the power to become invisible -up to 15 minutes a day. This is based, very loosely, on something that H.G. Wells wrote-once.
Murphy's co-workers include Katherine Crawford as "Dr. Abby Lawrence," who serves no useful purpose other than to get in the way or observe the proceedings on a large TV screen), and his boss, "Leonard Driscoll (played by William Sylvester, "Devil Doll," "Gorgo," "2001: A Space Odyssey)," who is obsessed with the "elusive" Robert Denby.
First segment has an evil scientist (John Milford) trying to embezzle money for some reason by hiring the dimwitted Murphy to drive a semi full of explosive "tripaladene (so named because it "triples vehicle mileage")." During this siliness, he (and, unfortunately, the audience, as well) meets up with one-time minor league pop and country star, Jim Stafford ("Spiders And Snakes," "My Girl Bill," "Wildwood Weed"), typecast perfectly as a braid-dead, redneck trucker named "Buffalo Bill.
His introductory shouts of "Ah'm on t'hair! Ah'm on t'hair!" over his citizen's band radio bring back all of the horrible memories we thought had vanished with C.W. McCall, Cletus Maggard and all of the other idiots who populated the high point of the C.B. craze. Later on, Richard Dysart (a decent actor who starred in "L.A. Law," "Being There") makes a cameo appearance, but it doesn't do any good, although the conclusion of that part, when Milford is taken away and Sylvester's hair looks like Bill Murray's at the end of "Kingpin," is drop-dead (unintentionally) hilarious.
Part two features Murphy, posing as a pit crewman for the ever-annoying Stafford, who has miraculously become a stock car racer. Both work for Denby, who finally shows up in the form of Ed Nelson ("Teenage Caveman," "Night of the Blood Beast"), and is a villain who invents a radio that can blow things up, or something to that effect.
This half is lamely tied to the first by Murphy saying to Sylvester, "I understand you grew a mustache while I was away," and proves, if nothing else, that stock car racing was just as boring in 1976 as it is today.
Highlight comes as Stafford, attempting to perform during "Amatuer Night" at the Pit Stop Saloon, gets into a fight with a Robert Shaw look-a-like and a Margo Gortner clone. He later lets out an embarrassing series of whoops and yells in a public because he's allowed to drive a car that eventually explodes.
While all of this takes place, Crawford is watching, unemotionally, on a big TV screen from Intersect headquarters. There is NO explanation for this, and no practical demonstration on HOW there can be cameras at the various locations, but thinking about this too much can be mind-boggling, so I'll leave it at that.
The end has Stafford "singing" a "thank you for saving my life" song to Murphy, while Crawford continues to watch-this time in SLOW MOTION!
Great riffs about here, including, "If Clu Gulagher isn't in this, it'll be very wrong," "Peter Fonda IS Richard Petty in the 'Marcel Marceau Story'", "It's so funny when girls try to do something", "You're a hick, aren't you?", "Pete Duel, forgive me. I've defiled your memory," and Tom's comment during the closing credits. mocking the Executive Story Consultant, "Yes, I advise you to hire the most annoying cracker you can find and slap together two incomprehensible stories."
Well-done skits have Tom singing about the 70s, NOT the 1970s, but from 71-79 A.D. ("The city of Pompeii was doin' all right, but Vesuvius blew her top."). He then sings, "Do you remember the fifties, when Emperor Claudius died?" Other sketches have him with new legs, a plad shirt and a red cap, having become a trucker, and Crow's dumb take as Turkey Volume Guessing Man.
Even the closer, in which Mike and the Bots are being watched by a cardboard Crawford, and Pearl receiving medals is a nice touch for a classic B episode.
816-"Prince Of Space" (Japanese-1959)-B&W-Crow
and Servo have engaged in a game of "Bear and Dog" that goes array, and
while Crow's long-winded explanation is fairly gross, it's one of the funnier
openings in a long time. While this is going on, Bobo (out to relieve
himself) wanders into a "worm hole," as Pearl, Observer and the SOL follow.
This exploration into a frankly undefined theory, leads to running sketches
that match the silliness of the "Matter Transference Device" from "Last
Of The Wild
Horses" (see #611). The film is taken from a Japanese TV series (although the two other reviews contradict one another and neither has the synopsis correct) about a superhero, disguised as a shoeshine boy (called a "bootblack" here), who engages a weak group of pointy-nosed idiots bent on taking over Tokyo. Evidently, the humans are too stupid to even handle these clowns, so, in essence, Japan, which fended off the Mongol horde in 1281, crushed China twice (1898 and 1933), defeated the Russians in 1904, almost succeeded against the Allies in World War II, and has stopped gigantic, mutated monsters over and over again, has to be delivered from a gaggle of inept, chicken-faced invaders by a prancing, effeminate Liberace knock-off. In fact, never before have I seen such a display of horribly-homely and talentless buffoons in one place. Not the cast of this movie, mind you, but the women who populate those stupid psychic phone line commercials. Anyway, the film features Three Stooges-type slapstick chases, a myriad of hilarious camera shots, a wise-cracking Niponese kid with a Brooklyn accent (prompting Crow to say, "I love this kid."), and ridiculous flying contraptions that make Ed Wood's models look like Spielberg effects. There is also no explanation as to how the prince became the "Prince," how he came to be immortal, why the "feared" Dictator of Krankor, complete with
beak and annoying laugh, is about as menacing as Arnold Stang or why there's so much smoke visible in outer space. But along with "Godzilla vs. Megalon" and "Gamera (The Invincible)," this has quickly earned it's way onto my favorite MST3K/Japanese film list. Such classic riffs as, "I can't believe they're showing Dennis Franz's butt!"; "Go, you bizarre little man!"; "Those Heaven's Gate people were supposed to meet us here."; "Do you guys listen?! Your guns DON'T work!" and "Didn't they ever consider taking over one of the GOOD nations?!", and many more. But the killer line of the entire program has Mike saying, during the rocket explosion scene, "Oh, the humanity!" and Crow retorting, "Oh, the JAPANITY!" But, strangely enough, the film's characters get off a few good cracks of their own, such as "No, wait a minute. Who could put a note like this up in a cage?!"; "Give everyone four hours off."; "Ya scum!"; "Switch on the heating currents of that griddle!" and "The stench of your foul breath is more than my stomach can stand!" Skits, of course, as previously mentioned, all deal with the worm hole thing (in fitting with the Sci-Fi Channel's motiff), as time is manipulated, Mike is turned into a Danny O'Day-type puppet, the SOL crew ends up in a forest (the first time an actual outdoor set has ever been used in the show's history), Krankor (Bill Corbin) pays a hilarious visit and Pearl and The Observer Guy are captured by Roman couple, Callipygea (Kevin Murphy) and Flavia (Bridgette Jones). A very funny show that had me rolling (figuratively) on the floor at times. For that alone it gets an "A-."
818 - DEVIL DOLL (1964)-B&W-The Bots
want to have a wild frat party, but they can only afford an Anderson window,
while Pearl (Mary Jo Pehl) and The Observer (Bill Corbett) are in "Roman
times" throwing a pants party. After the commercial, Crow is supposed to
be drunk, and breaks the window "for Debbie."
Movie is an Associated Film Dist. Corp. release of a Galaworld Ldfilm-Gordon Films production, directed by Lindsey Shonteff, and tells the story of a ventriloquist who is outwitted by his dummy. This plot has been done better many times before including the "Twilight Zone's" version, "The Dummy," The Great Gabbo (1929)," and "Michael Redgrave's segment in the chilling, "Dead Of Night" from 1949.
You know it's going to be bad, though, because picture takes place in England, and the headliner is the pale, gaunt, pockmocked loser from "The Projected Man," Bryant Haliday, the poor man's Anthony Cardoza. Also on the menu is the pudgy, laconic William Sylvester, who has appeared in three MST3K episodes over the last two seasons ("Riding With Death" and "Gorgo"), as well as "2001: A Space Odyssey."
It seems that Haliday plays "The Great Vorelli," a ventriloquist with a tacky beard and a dummy named Hugo that can perform amazing routines, such as walk towards the audience and eat ham. The act also consists of Vorelli berating the dummy and arguing with it like a second-grader (saying things like "The
sawdust in your stomach will explode," and "You're ugly.").
Vorelli then ingratiates himself into a rich family with an above-average-looking daughter (for Britain), Marianne (Yvonne Romain). He hypnotizes her to fall in love with him, which makes her "boyfriend, reporter Sylvester pout like a little baby.
Here's my gripe with that. It seems in a lot of these films, the hero is someone who doesn't deserve it. Like the reporter is "Teenagers From Outer Space," among others. They get the girl with no effort, while the villain, or alien, in some cases, in much more interesting. Here, Vorelli is homely, deeply disturbed and
psychotic, but he's light years more intriguing than the dullard Sylvester. which makes me wonder what a normal-looking woman would see in him in the first place. And as much pawing and groping as Vorelli does to his assistant, the brief make out scene between Sylvester and Romain is nauseating beyond description.
Anyway, Sylvester, with the help of several pug-ugly Brits, discovers that Hugo is embodied with the spirit of a murder victim from Berlin. Sylvester's obsession with Hugo borders on the perverted and makes you want to slap him around, especially during the scene where he sneaks in the room to fondle it. A
lame fight at the end (not unlike the one that concludes "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians"), however, causes Hugo to become alive and take Vorelli's place, while the audience is left feeling sad and empty.
Despite that, however, the MiSTings were terrific, and made it a joy to watch. Here are some of them: "Ah England, the land of jug-eared, chinless stomach-eaters," "Good bye credits! Thank you!" "Just keep clapping, he may not get to his act!" "Leave Robert Denby alone!" "If this guy could juggle, he'd rule
England," "She's dancing with a 'Spitting Image' puppet," "This is my father at a wedding," " The guitar stylings of Mel Bey," "The Puppet Haters Club will be right back," "Roy Clark-cross-dresser," "Okay everybody, thrill as I get my own onion dip," "You think he likes ham, wait'll you see me like ham," "So his act is to get up and bicker with his doll?!" "Did I just wake up and see somebody walk in and paw my puppet?!" "I should warn you, the name 'Great Vorelli' doesn't necessarily mean what you thingk it might," "I just found out my bee-hind has been hangin' out for the last nine years!" "The guy's got an upper back fetish," "Well, I'd better go. She just wanted me to tell you that you were ugly," "Dead puppet walkin'!" "Oh, Peggy Fleming, no!" "H-hey, a Julie Kavner doll," "Hugo, the other white meat," "Ladies and gentlemen, Siegfried and Gein!" "Look familiar Mike?! Girls leaving you for ventriloquists?!" "Hey guys, I just remember I gave a Devil Doll to my neice, once," and "I hope Beany Babies don't get this kind of power."
These lines, balanced with terrific sketches (Pitch-Paul Chapin-returns and tries to sell Crow some "Devil Dolls,"; Tom and Crow set up an "authentic" British pub complete with thick beer that never comes out of the faucet; and Pitch transfers Tom's soul into a toaster strudel) make this one of the funniest episodes of all-time. Even the closer, where Crow turns Mike into Hugo and then taunts him by saying, "Oh, you're an ugly little dummy, aren't you, Michael?" An ugly, smelly, horrible little dummy stuffed with sawdust. A dummy who will never have ham," is hilarious.
All of this takes the mind away from the whole pathetic "Roman times" thing, produces a laugh almost every joke, and makes this one an unqualified A+ in this humble scribbler's book.
819 - "Invasion of the Neptune Men" (AKA
"UCHU KAISOKU") (1961)-Black & White- Mike is convinced by the 'bots
that his eyelash mites have to be eliminated ("......and you end up with
monstrous demons feeding off the garbage dripping from your eyelashes......"),
so he agrees to have the Nanites take care of it. Allusions to "Platoon"
are hilarious. Meanwhile, Observer and pearl are forced to pay homage to
"mad god" Bobo and his anatomically-correct 40-foot statue. Toei (Japanese
TV) Company movie is in same mold, but not a sequel to 1959's "Prince of
Space (#816), with the usual addled scientists, doltish reporters, unlikable
kids in short pants, terrified crowds, and the obligatory teenage dance
club scene playing the same annoying song.
Evidently, these idiots are all terrified, not of inept, chicken-looking beings, but of clumsy, ridiculous clowns in silver suits and pointy helmets. In fact, I've seen scarier trash cans. The kids, as irritating and poorly-dubbed as any in this kind of movie (and that's going back to "Kenny," "Itchy" and the two morons from "Gamera Versus Guiron"), are assaulted by the wanna-be tin woodsman from Neptune (a ball of frozen methane gas), only to be routed by the effeminate "Space Chief" and his silly, futuristic convertible that makes the Batmobile look subtle and trails smoke like a broken-down '53 DeSoto. No one knows who this guy is, where he comes from, or how he got to be a "Chief," and, frankly, no one really cares at this point. Repulsed again by an "electro-barrier," the Neptunians finally get it right, and with the aid of soldiers in lipstick and rouge, as well as some stock footage from World War II (which explains the hilarious shot of the "Hitler Building"), they begin to decimate Tokyo, or Osaka, or Yakuska, or whatever city they happen to be attacking. Finally, "Space Chief" arrives and shoots down a few planes, but it's a film of the
American missile technology of the 1950's that finally stops the mothership and ends this 90-minute abomination. Mike and Crow reflect viewers' pain, even leaving the theater for a few minutes, forcing Tom to watch by himself. As bad as movie is, the gang fires more on-target verbal shots than the invaders, banging home such gems as "Don't worry kids, it's a promotional gimmick for Sushi Cereal"; "Tojo's death car"; "Kirosawa eat your heart out"; "General psychosis and freakiness all around"; "But we're Japanese children. We can go anywhere we want at any time"; and "Ya know, I hate to say it, but suddenly 'Independence Day' seems a richly nuanced movie." Skits include Mike playing Abbott & Costello with the 'bots in "Noh Theater Versus No Theater"; their will to live is sapped until Krankor (Bill Corbett) pays a visit; and Crow's suggestion box which is filled with notes like, "Japan, stop making movies;" "Japan, please reconsider cartoon gun-toting, big-eyed, pre-pubescent blondes as your national heroes"; and "Dear Japan, maybe it's just me and the rest of the world, but huge, naked fat men hitting stomachs is NOT a sport." In the closer, Pearl and the Observer wait in an autograph line for Bobo, but when Pearl bops him on the head, he admits to the Romans that they are not deity, so they're seized, again. Despite goofy ending, I loved this one, almost as much as "Prince." Therefore it gets a "B+."
821-Time Chasers (1991)-C-Crow is Dr. Smith to Servo's "Robot," while Mike visits with Pearl in her van. She admits that she is evil because she has "so much hate inside," but sends them the movie, anyway.
As putrid a piece of slop ever released, this Edgewood Entertainment crapper was filmed entirely in the state of Vermont, the least-known and cared-about of all 50, and tells the ridiculous tale of Nick Miller (Matthew Bruch-one of the single ugliest leading men in cinematic history, in fact, he makes Rowsdower from "The Final Sacrifice," look like Brad Pitt), who invents a time-traveling device that is powered by a Wang computer and a Piper Cub.
He jumps ahead to 2041, sees some "futuristic" stuff, then comes back and sells the invention to a huge corporation. Later, after a lame trip to the "1950s," he goes back to the future, where a cheap matte painting shows that a war took place and the (unnamed) city is in ruins. He fights off a bunch of rejects from 2041, goes back to the present, highjacks his own plane, crashes it and kills his girlfriend, Lisa (Bonnie Pritchard), goes back to the present and then travels to the Revolutionary War, where he dies, but his double and his girlfriend's doppelganger are still alive, so they go back to the present just before he was to sell the invention, and stops himself from doing it.
Here are some more specific "highlights," during a chase scene where Nick is trying to escape on a ten-speed bicycle, the bad guys actually get out of a truck and pursue him on BIKES. Scenes in the future depict "actors" walking around in loud, garish, baggy clothing and talking on cell phones, much like they do today. There is also a sign that reads, "This building is constructed of recycled material, 2021." The voyage to the 1950s shows a few classic cars and a malt shop. As bad as the two leads are, the corporate clowns (Peter Harrington-Pink Boy, and George Woodard-J.K. Robertson) are just plain awful. The Revolutionary War scenes are included for no other reason than to show off a bunch of fat re-enactors, and during these sequences, the single dumbest lines ever written for an MST3K (or any other) film is uttered.
Speaking of some fleeing American colonists, running from machine gun fire, Nick says, "I don't think they've ever seen an Uzi before." Duh! Terrible from every vantage point, the movie is nonetheless the vehicle for a series of skits that make this particular episode a joy to watch.
Using the time-travel theme, Crow
goes back to 1985 in an attempt to persuade Mike (a Journey fan who works
in a cheese factory with Patrick Brantseg) to take another direction in
life by concentrating on his band, Sex Factory. Unfortunately, Mike is
killed on stage by motel room keys, which means his surly, violent older
brother, Eddie, is now on the satellite. So, to avoid this, Crow goes BACK
to 1985 to tell Mike to forget everything he told him previously, asking
him to stay in a "life of menial, low-paying jobs."
Some great MiSTings are thrown around, as well, for example, "Hey, wait a minute, this isn't our star, is it?! I will NOT accept this as our star. Sorry!" "Co-starring Bruce Springsteen's little brother, Wayne," "Oh, come on, this CAN'T be the hero of the film, he has a geeky ten-speed," "You've got male-pattern baldness," "The future means cheesy graphics," "So, in the future, kids become gay agents?!" ""And we fly through another Spiro-Graph drawing," "Now see, you hire a guy who works in you dad's print shop, as an actor, and this is what you get," "Ya know, now THAT guy could use Chinderwear," "Vermont-city on the go!" "As Gena Rowlands arrives for her temp shift," "He didn't count on the ASSISTANT janitor," "This is as good as any Bond film-GOLD BOND MEDICATED POWDER, that is!" "The movie really heightens the lack of interest in the film," "So history is just circling the drain at this point," "Aww, he's trying to ask himself out," "Man, our forefathers were DUMPY!" and "Vermont, the other, smaller Wisconsin."
In the closer, the Bots play "Gilligan's Island while Pearl and Mike share a Yoo Hoo and discuss the second Crow left back at the cheese factory. A tough film to get through, but the skits and riffs make it well worthwhile, and deserving of a B-.
822- "Overdrawn At the Memory Bank" (1985)-C-Episode
opens with Crow introducing his trademark catch phrase ("You know you want
me, baby!"), while Pearl speaks in hushed tones from a PBS set. great
skit has Paul Chapin as Ortega (from "The Incredibly Strange Creatures......")
and a film short entitled, "The Nature Of Bobo." Public broadcasting
motif is appropriate, since film was produced by WNET in New York, with
post-production work done in Canada. In the undetermined future, Aram Fingal
(the late Raul Julia-"The Addams Family," "The Burning Season") is a data
processor for the gigantic Novicorp Corporation, who, after being caught
watching "Casablanca" on company time, is forced to submit to a mental
rehabilitation (called "doppling" here). At the Nirvana Center (a
large mall), he meets rehab programmer, Apollonia James (Linda Griffiths),
who eventually becomes his tepid love interest. As he is "doppled"
into the brain of a baboon (a series of stock footage with Julia's lame
voice overs adds to the
unintentional hilarity), a smart-assed kid on a tour switches his identification tag with a corpse. (Why a group of unruly moppets are allowed to run free in an operating roam is never answered, but it does prompt Tom to say, "Is it 'Children Of The Damned' Day at the Brain Institute?!")
Meanwhile, Fingal, with the assistance of plot holes that Dom DeLuise could fit through, creates his own fantasy world based upon the classic, Academy-Award-winning 1942 film starring himself as Rick as played by humphrey Bogart, Griffiths as Elsa (Portrayed 350 million light years better by Ingrid Bergman), and Louis Negin as a prissy and annoying Peter Lorre knock-off. The Chairman of Novicorp, "The Chairman" (Donald C. Moore) also joins in the fun as "The Fat Man," as if anyone cares. A confusing series of events is not left well enough alone as the ending clears up nothing, causing an exasperated Crow to sigh, "You know, 'Eraserhead' was easier to follow than this movie." And what was the point of the whole cube thing, the "I've Interfaced!" baloney, the poorly conceived masturbation scene, and the spinning electron Julias, anyway? As bad as the writing and acting (Julia is twice as bad in a dual role and Griffith spends most of the time staring at a computer screen), however, it's the not-so-special effects that drop this turkey a few feet below sewer level. Ultra-cheap graphics conjure up images of Pong, Wang Computers, the video by The Buggles, and the season they videotaped episodes of "The Twilight Zone." State-of-the-art technology it's not, and today, high school kids can design better looking graphics on the Macs.
Film also tries to tell us that ridiculous names such as Aram, Apollonia, Crull Spier, Emmaline Ozmondo and Geddy Arbeid, will be commonplace. As terrible as all that is, though, it's pure joy to see what The Brains do with this load of manure. Like Tomahawk missiles fired into the slums of Baghdad, each salvo explodes with the vicious wit once only reserved for great shows like "Godzilla vs. Megalon," "Santa Claus," and "Mitchell." MiSTings, such as "TV's Frank!" "So, aging lesbian nuns run the future." "Mike, the comic relief lady is making me very tense!" "You must remember this, this movie really SUCKS!" "He thought I was a black male construction worker. It's CUTE!" and "This is how much pure cocaine you would need to enjoy this movie." are delivered with deadly accuracy, but were never more welcome. Also lots of fat jokes, anteater put-downs and word plays of "Fingal." abound. Sketches, which include Tom and Crow receiving a mail-order monkey (named "Henry"), Corbett and Pehl sing "When Loving Lovers Love," from the PBS special, "Pearl, Pearl, Pearl, Pearl, Pearl," and Crow being "doppled" down to scare the Nanites, but is reduced too small and has the crap beat out of him, are superb. And the closer, where Bobo tries to talk "Henry"
down before both are felled by Mike with a blowgun, is first-rate. Horrible film, great show. An "A-" effort and cheers all around.