R.I.P. Jess Franco

Dracula,_Prisoner_of_Frankenstein

 


Missing in Action

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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.

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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


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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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“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.

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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!

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 23,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 5 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.


Merry War on Christmas

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Here’s a holiday treat!

Never mind that creepy as hell Micheal Keaton weepie about the dad reincarnated as a snowman.

This is the real deal. The killer snowman movie!
Shot on a shoestring budget in a town with NO SNOW!

Happy Holidays, suckers!

Pain Level: 8/10

Quality of Pain: Brainfreeze from Hell

Painjoyment™ Level: This will tide you into the new year when I start writing again.


I would LiLo for a while if I were you.

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The news was almost too good to be true.

The actress whose professional work ethic (or lack thereof) cost her a gig at portraying Linda Lovelace was going to tackle the role of what is arguably one of the biggest movie star to ever come out of the studio system.

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Frankly, a more appropriate tag line would have been “Elizabeth Taylor WAS Lindsay Lohan” as it seems more in tune with what P.O.S. is trying to convey.

For months, I have secretly anticipated this moment. Lifetime’s Liz & Dick carried the double whammy promise of a massive train wreck of a movie starring a train wreck of an actress.

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Before

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After

It did not disappoint.

Where can we begin skewering this thing? Pretty much everywhere. How about the idiotic narrative “When Dickie met Lizzy” wraparound segments? Who the f*** are they talking to? Is the afterlife a reality show style debriefing?

But wait! This is not another review panning the much maligned Liz & Dick. This is The Cinémasochist, dammit. I am praising it!

And while I’ve bitched that The Three Stooges was all pain and devoid of any “enjoyment” earlier this year, and that the hateful revisionist Tippi Hedren biopic The Girl wasn’t even worth mentioning (except to say that it wasn’t worth mentioning), I can categorically state that Liz & Dick is a treasure trove of Cinemasochistic delights. Lindsay Lohan is a freaking dominatrix and dispenses more nipple-hardening cringing moments than Dyanne Thorne could ever hope to- without even once taking her top off.

If the afterlife has a gym, Liz is now taking spin classes.

Let’s be frank. Mommy Dearest is Citizen Kane compared to this.
John Waters did an audio commentary for Mommy Dearest‘s DVD where he gushes about the film with famed drag Joan Crawford impersonator Lipsynka.
Now, if Waters did a commentary track for this epic trashography, it would be 90 minutes of him huffing “poppers” and masturbating.

As an actress, LiLo is just plain hopelessly and helplessly out of her league- more so than usual. Not only with who she has to portray but the much better cast that surrounds her. Brian Howe betrays their true talent: keeping a straight face no matter how absurd. No wonder Larry Blamire puts him in his camp epics like Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. Here, Howe portrays Joe Mankievicz, the director of Cleopatra.

Lilo’s own talent as a (*cough*) thespian (a word, by the way, which she pronounces as “thesbian” in the film) has to be her uncanny ability of making one giggle uncontrollably while suppressing major acid reflux. For some reason (her tits, perhaps?), someone out there keeps pushing her as a celebrity .  She, in turn, believes her own press (thanks Disney media brainwashers) and remains convinced this is where she should concentrate her career therefore robbing the world of what could be her true talent:  Somewhere an “All Girl/All Anal” lesbo porn is suffering. To her credit, the “downing pills with vodka” scenes made me wonder if she if she did a stretch at The Actor’s Studio.

Part of the “guilty pleasure” fun of watching Liz & Dick is trying to figure out how they’ll work their way around having to recreate some of the most opulent scenes in movie history. The answer to that is creepy unsexy bedroom scenes. Lots of them. And since the “action” of this film takes place behind the scenes, parking lots crammed with trailers should do fine. After all, the movie biz is just a big trailer park with better booze and expensive jewelry. Call it “audience identification”.

Most of Liz & Dick‘s narrative (actually “drivel” is a much better word) consists of our leads spitting liquor-scented venom at each other in a variety of hotel and dressing rooms wearing costumes from the corresponding production or period. If they threw in a gorilla in a tutu, parts of this film would feel like an old Ernie Kovacs skit gone horribly and hilariously wrong.

Check out the blonde zombie “selling” us the trailer as if she had any idea what she is reading off the teleprompter:

Caution: As tempting as it is, do NOT make Liz & Dick into a drinking game. While it is true that “beer goggles” might finally make you “see” the resemblance more, the quantity required is such that you’ll end up looking like Liz herself, somewhere around husband 7 or 8- when John Belushi’s mercilessly unflattering impersonation was spot on. Honest, giving Jim Belushi a full body shave would have been a better choice.

You may also have to use a gag ball and some restraints on yourself while watching it. Trust me, your hands WILL seek out the remote so you’ll need to find a way of fighting that instinct. Let the sweet sweet ineptitude of this movie wash all over you and make all the crap in your life seem insignificant by comparison.

Be warned, though, that a lot of the pleasure comes from “first exposure”. I wouldn’t recommend watching this more than once. This is not the kind of experience one should repeat. Your system will rebel if you do.

For her next project, I wanna see her play Jane Fonda.

Pain Level: 9/10

Quality of Pain: Sweeeeeeeeet! Sweeet!!

Painjoyment™ Level: Off the charts!