Monthly Archives: March 2013

Missing in Action

Image

At the tail end of the banner year of 1982, came this film which baffled audiences but became an obsession with this writer: It Came from Hollywood.

By that time, I had made the Medved’s Golden Turkey Awards my bedside reading. This movie was originally supposed to be based on the book but some bad blood erupted over the project the Medveds were relegated to status of Advisors. They would rag on this film in their second book Son of the Golden Turkey Awards.

A lot of “purists” hate this film for including bona-fide classics such as The Creature from the Black Lagoon and War of the Worlds in the mix. From an editing point of view it makes perfect sense as it hooks viewers on the limit of what they perceive as cheesy using films they may be familiar with before taking down into the rabbit hole of true B-movie madness.

The film is obviously the kindle under Mystery Science Theater 3000‘s fire. The riffing is not constant barrage like the boys of the Satellite of Love deliver but that’s not the point as It Came from Hollywood is more intent on letting the biggest laughs come from the clips themselves with Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Jon Candy and Cheech & Chong merely providing intro segments and the occasional quip.

Needless to say, this film became an instant obsession with me. From the first time I’ve laid eyes on it, it has become my life ambition to track down and see (and eventually own) all the films stuffed and mounted on this celluloid mantle. (In fact, I purchased one of them, the giant gorilla feature A*P*E, just a few minutes ago on Amazon).

It goes without saying that this film was destined to be the crown jewel of my OCD-fueled “bad” movie collection. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.

Image

Sadly, just as the film was due to be released on DVD, it was shelved due to rights issues. It occasionally shows up on cable (often with the wildly politically incorrect excerpt from the Al Jolson musical Wonder Bar chopped out).

I often refer to this film as a Cinemasochism Primer. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve viewed this film. Now it’s loaded on my phone permanently in case I need a quick fix.

I’m seriously considering a Medic-Alert bracelet engraved with instructions to play this film should I fall into a coma.

Pain Level: 10/10 – It just keeps coming!
Quality of Pain:
Smorgasbord!
Painjoyment™ Level: Maximum

Advertisements

We’re off to see the unofficial Turkish ripoff of the Wizard, the wonderful unofficial Turkish ripoff of Oz…

Image

One wonders if Turkish gays are called “Friends of Aysa”.

Like many other Turkish “adaptations”, Ayşecik ve Sihirli Cüceler Rüyalar Ülkesinde (Little Ayşe and the Magic Dwarfs in the Land of Dreams) is one of those films I suspect gets your brain to secrete a coating of Teflon in a desperate attempt as not “sticking” to your memory.

Image

Follow the brown dirt road!
Follow the brown dirt road!

 

Director Tunç Basaran directed over 40 such films that thrust little Aysa into such “unofficial” retelling of fairy tales.

This version is subtitled and seems to have cuts here and there. Trust me, you won’t miss anything.

Pain Level: 8/10

Quality of Pain: Culture shock meets Synaptic breakdown.

Painjoyment™ Level: High. 

 


Have a thunderous Year of the Snake

Image

There comes a time in any film writer’s life where you get hit with a major case of “ennui”. You feel stuck in a rut. Everything feels the same. What once made you wince in delightful pain is merely a tickle.

And then, miracle of miracles, you stumble on something entirely and utterly new (at least to you) and oh so satisfying. Such a film is Thunder of Gigantic Serpent.

The origins of this massively schizoid epic are a tad muddled. The original title is Daai se wong and it was directed by Godfrey Ho (at least according to IMDB but what do they know….) and its release date is 1988.
However the film’s credits and English poster credit the film to “Charles Lee”. It could be Ho, whose signature style is to cut and paste a film together from various sources for exportation, is using a pseudonym.

The bulk film also seems to have been filmed in 1980 and incorporates footage from another film released in 1984. Chances are Ho may have pieced this together by salvaging bits of a couple of failed productions.

That would explain the film being a celluloid equivalent to Sybil- It’s an epic monster movie, Asian snake horror film, R-rated shoot ’em up and feelgood kiddie movie – for girls to boot.

The film begins with the Caucasian villain shooting beer cans in his driveway. This character- which will never come in contact with the film’s protagonists orders his henchman to get “The Formula” which will allow him to control the world’s food supply.

Then, we are introduced to Ting-Ting, a bouncy little chinese girl with the most grating dubbed-over “adult trying to sound like a child” ever committed to film. A lonely child whose only friend is a snake which not only understands her, it responds by nodding its head.

Did someone change channels? We’re in a lab now.

“The Formula” looks like a clear plexiglass pet transport with electrodes built in. Lock in a frog, zap it and it become doggie sized. They’ll make a fortune in France!

But as terrorists burst upon the scene, the scientist flee into the woods where they are all shot – but not before losing the Formula/pet transport thingie.

This is where Ting-Ting, our little girl protagonist stumbles upon the box and decides to take it home as it would make a good home for Martha. Once the snake in in the box, Ting-Ting turns on “the pretty lights” which activates the thingamajig and Martha pops out of the box, now anaconda sized and screaming like a chimp.

The next day Martha scares off bullies and develops the kind of friendship with Ting-Ting that montages set to 80s synth music were made for.

Image

Special ops are called in. These are guys who wear camouflage fatigues and vivid red berets with Harley-Davidson logos on them. There’s one white dude in this team who distinguishes himself from his colleagues because his hat is way bigger and his scenes are shot separately (just like, coincidentally, the bad guy with the beer cans).

Image

For some reason (I zoned out- paying attention is really taxing at this point), the terrorists suspect Ting-Ting has the box. They try to get her but Martha protects her. So they try to capture Martha via some jury-rigged electric fence which causes the snake to become the behemoth we all came to see.

Oh, it gets better. Here’s another tease.

As it attacks the city, Ting-Ting keeps crying out her name. She’s so loud, I swear I could still hear her with the sound off.

Image

“Martha! Maaaaaarthaaaaa!”

 

After all is said and done, we go back to the white guys to wrap things up with them. The special ops guy, whose oversized beret looks like Papa Smurf’s hat get into a martial arts demonstration routine that ends with the bad guy shot point blank. The end.

Image

Here is the complete feature. It’s in (painfully) dubbed English with Greek subtitles. Somehow, I suspect this film got released there as a consequence of the austerity measures imposed on them by European banks.

 

Pain Level: 9/10

Quality of Pain: Thunderous

Painjoyment™ Level: Off the scale!

Image