Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Hands Are Tied: Manos/MST3000 is My Fate

Torgo, played by the great John Reynolds, who came to an unfortunate end.

The Master, in his Hands of Fate duds

Portrait of the Master as a Young Fiend

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) is widely considered to be the absolute worst movie of all time, and for good reason. According to Wikipedia, which has an amusingly lengthy entry, the film was made more or less on a bet, with no money, no experience, and no clue. It played mostly in drive-ins in West Texas and eastern New Mexico, and the star committed suicide.

But finding Manos is not easy. I had to settle for the Mystery Science Theater version, which means fast-forwarding through the sketches (con) and excellent running commentary (pro).

Well, mostly pro, because the riffs cover the flick pretty thoroughly. Not a lot of room to move for the humor writer.

The story, so to speak, is a couple with a young daughter get lost and blunder into a ramshackle ranch way the hell out in Nowhere, Tex.

They seek shelter, and Torgo, the misshapen caretaker, agrees, but only after repeating this line many, many times: "The Master will not approve."

When the Master finally arrives, it seems the folks have stumbled into some kind of devil worship cult, with polygamy and substantial ladies undergarments.

It's an incoherent film, but it does feature an extended wrestling match. This is where the substantial ladies u. figure.

Poodle death, blurry. Night-for-night shooting, which is either very avant-garde or very inept, depending on your level of postmodernism. Moths. Dead snake. Nightgown wrestling. Master in Frank Zappa mustache and black cloak with orange hands on it. Making out in a tiny sports car. Flying buttress brassieres. No nudity (automatic one-coil deduction). Massive problems with Torgo's pants. Magic white sweater that never gets dirty.

With the fast-forward over the MST space ship stuff, Manos is about 45 minutes long, which is about 37 minutes too much. Even the most dedicated disciple of Derrida would have trouble finding the hidden crypto-fascist agenda. Excellent commentary from the MST gang.

Three coils.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Night of Boring Yawns

The Douglas Library in North Canaan, Conn. is my new source for inexpensive bad cinema on DVD. And Night of Bloody Horror (1969) for a buck seemed like a good idea at the time.

This flick is so crummy that I can't bring myself to say much about it. It's bad enough that I sat down and watched it — without hitting the fast-forward.

Luckily I found a review by someone who devoted an inordinate amount of thought and time to the subject.

So read that and here's the lone coil.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Big Lee and Big Richard in Big Phooey, with O.J. On the Side

The main thing about The Klansman (1974) is that Richard Burton, whatever his other talents, was not good at assuming a Southern accent.

I mean, not even close. He sounds like a drunk English actor who doesn't really give a shit whether he gets the accent down or not.

Which makes this a documentary.

Lee Marvin is also drunk in this film, making it a milestone of Anglo-American cooperation.

We also get O.J. Simpson, post-NFL, pre-Hertz, and all cheese.

The story, such as it is, concerns a little town in a sleepy county in the Deep South. Linda Evans get raped, it is never clear by whom, but the rednecks are sure it's a black guy.

Meanwhile commie-pinko Jew atheist outside agitator types are coming in to stir up trouble and have some sort of stupid demonstration.

Most everybody who counts in town is a member of the Klan, except Breck, the Burton character, who lives on his mountain and rents shacks cheap to the black people.

Lola Falana is in this too, in tight pants.

The best scenes are with O.J., carrying a rifle, being pursued. Or O.J. riding in the back of an old Bronco. Okay, maybe it's an International Scout, but you get the idea.

A monumentally incoherent film, hard to watch and even harder to understand.

So bad it's...bad.

Half a coil.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Iron Coil

This is a tentative list of the greatest CACA flicks of all time. By "greatest," of course, we mean "worst."

I compiled a top ten exploitation flicks list in October 2010. Looking back, I see some significant omissions.

So rather than a Top Ten, let us proceed with the movies that are of lasting value — of such unredeemed awfulness that they will endure forever, and thus earn — The Iron Coil.

I Spit On Your Grave. Made in Kent, Conn. for $11.87. A valiant, doomed attempt was made to recast this as a feminist film, because the grave-spitting is done by the female lead, with good reason. Nice try.

Make Them Die Slowly. The ultimate "Stupid White People in the Jungle" flick. If "Survivor" had anything to do with reality, never mind justice, it would look like this.

Deathstalker II. Sword and sorcery epic, with an evil, yet gay warlock — Torxartes. In II he is played by the immortal John Lazar; in the original Thom Christopher (who occasionally shows up on the various Law & Orders) combines gay warlock with Gloria Swanson.

Freaks. Tod Browning's 1931 circus geekfest anticipates reality TV and gave the Ramones their "Gabba Gabba Hey" chant. The film effectively ended Browning's career.

Basket Case. A "Freaks" for the 1980s that also captures pre-Disney Times Square. Joe Bob Briggs said that Belial, the monster, looks like "a squashed octopus," and you can't get much more evocative than that.

Zombie Lake. This gets the nod over "Shock Waves" in the underwater Nazi zombie category with its tender love story and nekkid volleyball. And there's an underwater shot of passing gynecological interest.

Bloodsucking Freaks. The flick that gave us the deranged midget Ralphus and a renewed appreciation for the techniques of modern dentistry. Also a textbook example of using footage from an Italian police procedural to pad out your tale of the macabre.

Evil Dead II. In which the hero, with a new group of dopes, goes to the exact same cabin and reads the exact same words out of the exact same Book of the Dead — and is then surprised when the forces of Hell are unleashed. Again.

Night of the Living Dead. For pure horror nobody has ever come close, certainly not director George Romero in his innumerable rehashings of the subject.

Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS. If you wish to alienate someone forever — someone normal, that is — show her this film. There are moments when you think it might degenerate into a harmless bit of kinky softcore, but it quickly reverts back to its majestically perverted glory.

And some new additions:

Sharktopus, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, — ok, I ran out for the moment. I'll be back...

Russ and Hooters

When I think of Russ Meyer movies I think of breasts — which is what the auteur intended.

I also think "tedious" because despite the great titles and promise of flicks like 1965's Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens (1979), the fact is that Russ Meyer movies generally suck, unless you're drunk.

So it was this prejudice that kept me from watching "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," Meyer's collaboration with Roger Ebert. Ol' Roger kept his hand in all kinds of trashy projects, — a little odd for the man who denounced Night of the Living Dead, but hey, he unrenounced it later when it became apparent the world saw him as a fat gooey liberal donut-head.

Anyhoo...BVD, as the flick is known to aficionados, is either an unintentionally funny and inept attempt at a sequel to the film version of a trashy novel, or a brilliant send-up of same, or some sort of postmodern meta-something that would make sense to a French philosophy professor.

These gals are in Texas, I think, and they have a rock band - a trio, ostensibly, which features an invisible horn section and organ player.

They also have a dopey doe-eyed manager with Greg Brady fashion sense. They all pile in the van and sing their way to Los Angeles, where Kelly drops in on her long-lost rich aunt who in turn invites the gang to a party that night at Ronnie "Z-Man" Barzell's.

And this is where BVD really takes off, because Z-Man is played with considerable camp by the immortal John Lazar, who also played the evil and campy warlock Troxartes in Deathstalker II. (As I have opined elsewhere, if you absolutely must watch a sword-and-sorcery flick made in Mexico by Russian Jews for $11.87, Deathstalker II is the obvious choice.)

The next hour is so depraved that I can only fondle a few highlights: Sex, of all kinds, everywhere. At least a couple dozen breasts. Lesbitation to an extent that was pretty out there in 1970. John Lazar running around saying things like "No more words, I pray you. Let the games begin!"

Also: Fat Nazi. Transvestite, or maybe she-male. Nature Boy in jungle pattern Speedos, and decapitation of same. Wheelchair, and miraculous recovery from passive-aggressive suicide plunge by a distraught Greg Brady. Some of the worst lip-synching and pretend instrument-playing in cinema history. (The drummer chick looks like she's stirring batter.)

And don't forget: Death by sword. Death by handgun. Death by the Strawberry Alarm Clock, wearing matching magenta shirts and black vests.

BVD is a monumental piece of crap, and earns the highest acclaim possible — a four-coil rating, and eligibility in the next Iron Coil all-time list revision.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Put a Sock In It

The sock drawer was a mess — orphaned socks, symbolic of plans gone awry and dreams unrealized...

Yeah. Anyway, Campmor is a great online source for camping and hiking stuff — including the Wigwam El-Pine sock, in assorted festive colors.