Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Gore Gore Girls (1972)

Crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap.

How do I really feel about this turd? AMRU 1.5.

What Netflix called "classic horror" was in reality mystery/horror themed porn. An IMDB reviewer commented "not so much a film as an endurance event." I couldn't agree more. Through most of the first half I had to force myself to continue watching in hopes it would get better. During the second half, I felt I needed to see this thing through to the end.

A dancer at the sickest strip joint on the planet is brutally murdered. A young female reporter hires famed detective Abraham Gentry to solve the case in exchange for exclusive rights to the story. More strippers (or Go[re] Go[re] dancers ... get it? Do ya?) die and eventually the mystery is solved. So, how does this movie fail? Let me count the ways.

Audio and video quality: F. Indoor shots are almost acceptable. Outdoor shots look like they were done by an amateur with a cheap hand held camera. The quality was reminiscent of the outdoor shots in Sesame Street episodes from my youth. All around the audio quality was bad. Low budget.

Sets and locations: D-. Looked like they had no resources and weren't really trying.

Script, story, and dialog: F+. Stretches of dialog would have earned a D, but overall bad.

Special effects: F. Not for a moment could you think the bloody head being bashed in and mutilated was an actual body part. A melon with a wig and lots of fake blood.

Editing: F. Long, boring focuses on the murders and the (ugh) strippers.

Comedy: D. Not funny.

Horror: F. Not the least bit scary, and we never get to know any victim to even care if they die.

Mystery: F. Didn't care who did it.

Porn: D. While most of the nekkid women in the movie weren't as enchanting as the wall behind them, one or two were.

There are a couple interesting things about the movie: Frank Kress, who played detective Gentry, was the only person in the movie that might have actually been an actor, yet this is his only movie credit. He did absolutely NOTHING prior or after. Another was the appearance of Henny Youngman. Shame, shame.

Some movies are charming or unintentionally amusing because of the makers ineptitude, others strive for the "so bad it's good" quality. I can be very forgiving of these. Gore Gore Girls was just bad. Director Herschell Gordon Lewis is something of a cult icon to some for his low budget, campy horror movies, but with apologies to him and his fans, The Gore Gore Girls sucked. There is a way to do low budget Sexy Horror, but this isn't it. I wonder if there is a Hammer film in my future.

Monday, September 20, 2010

King of the Rocket Men (1949)

Because of disk problems with Seven Samurai, my hundred and first post is my one hundredth movie. Because this one is a serial, I actually had a choice of what would be my 100th. I started watching episodes of Rocket Men first, but saw another movie before I finished. I chose this to be my 100th because it didn't totally suck. Boy, can't you wait for my next post!

Jeff King (Tristram Coffin) is a scientist and member of "Science Associates". Top scientists are being killed off by the mysterious "Doctor Vulcan" (no, he doesn't use a death grip). One scientist thought killed was saved by King and hides in a cave doing research. Where they got the tons of scientific equipment to stock this cave, and where do you rent a cave with proper electrical and plumbing facilities, I won't ask. He finishes working on a Rocket Suit, so King (King of the Rocket Men? Get it?) uses it to do battle with the Evil Doctor Vulcan!

So, basically, King flies around, narrowly escaping death, gets into two fist fights per 13 minute episode, and slowly gets closer to the baddies. And his suit is a real hoot. It has three dials. One reads ON and OFF, another UP and DOWN, and the third SLOW and FAST. To take off, he runs and jumps superman style, then turns ON, UP, FAST. To land he turns the dial to DOWN. SLOW is never used.

This and serials like it delighted kids back in the day when they would walk to the cinema (alone) every week. They would see another cliffhanger episode before the feature. Today, this is boy-repellent. All three of my sons would run from the room in disgust when I would play one. And it didn't help that favorites like Star Wars and Indiana Jones were based on serials just like this one. And the dude looked strangely similar to iron man. No sir-ee bob. They'd have nothing to do with it.

But I liked it. Maybe I would have liked it better had Netflix put them into the correct order. I saw episodes 1 to 3, then 7 to 9, followed by 4 to 6, then finally 10 to 12. Sad thing is that I caught on after watching episode 9. I decided not to start from the beginning.

Glenda Thomas, cub reporter, was played by Mae Clarke, described as an all time great sci-fi hottie, and for this role no less. Sorry, no. Maybe back when she was dating the good doctor Frankenstein, but not when pushing 40. Her role was get-in-the-way girl. Not a love interest. AMRU 3.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Spider Baby (1968)

or, The Maddest Story Ever Told.

Written, shot, and edited one afternoon back in 1964, this movie sat on the shelf for four years while everyone associated with it filed for bankruptcy. It was finally released in 1968. Spider Baby is significant for me because three actors I've noted in my blog-life come together for one of their last films. Lon Chaney Jr only had four movies released after it, Mantan Moreland had five (one uncredited) and hottie Carol Ohmart had but one. Of course those numbers go up if we use the 1964 filming date, but hey, I'm manufacturing a theme here, people!

This is the story of the Merrye family. They live is a large rural home, have a faithful family chauffeur, and are apparently fairly wealthy. The bad news is that they are sick, degenerate, murderous, inbred cannibals. Think The Addams Family, only more so.

A messenger (Moreland) arrives to deliver a letter from a lawyer. The lawyer, his secretary, and two distant cousins will be arriving with the intent on claiming the family fortune. Mr. Messenger is promptly hacked to death.

The Merrye family consists of two hot sisters, Elizabeth and Virginia, and brother Ralphie, who is in advanced stages of Merrye Syndrome, a degenerative disease causing them to regress mentally, socially, and physically. Chaney Jr is their caretaker.

The unusually short, cigar chomping lawyer with a hitler mustache arrives with his pleasant-enough looking secretary, along with Emily and Peter (husband and wife? Brother and sister?), who are distant relatives with a claim on the estate. They insist on staying the night. Does anyone here see that as a bad idea?

At the moment I can think of one example (Temple of Doom), but I know that the "disgusting dinner" scene has been done several times. Here it was not done well, methinks. Roasted cat, garden fungus, and weeds. Maybe if the video was clearer it would have had a bigger impact.

Apparently the key for the Merrye sisters to act as menacing as possible is for them to act as outrageous as possible. And, quite frankly, as bad as possible. Even Ohmart isn't buying the script. Not until she finds creepy Ralphie spying her goody-goody yum-yums that she realizes she's in trouble.

The sub-title was a reference to The Greatest Story Ever Told, which would have been cool had they been able to release it in a timely manner. Renamed and re released several times, it has been given names like Cannibal Orgy and The Liver Eaters. Yum. A couple of the characters mention liking horror movies and express their fondness for The Wolf Man, which, of course starred Lonnie.

It's hard for a comedy/horror to strike a good balance. Slightly too much humor destroys the horror. Spider Baby was creepy. Was it funny? Kinda. Spider Baby did some things right. Unfortunately, it did a lot wrong as well. Parts of the script absolutely sucked. There is a remake in the works. I'm curious if they can right the wrongs, or if they will simply screw it all up.

AMRU 3.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Nothing Sacred (1937)

Frederic March is Wally Cook, a newspaper man who needs to redeem his reputation after promoting a man claiming to be a sultan who turns out to be a lowly janitor (why, that uppity ...). He takes on the story of a poor, hot Vermont woman (Carole Lombard) dying of radium poisoning.

Here's the deal, though. It turns out that she isn't REALLY dying. Seems o'll Doc Enoch screwed up the diagnosis. Apparently the only thing worse than a slow painful death is living a long life in Vermont, so Hazel Flagg (that's the character name) decides to play along in hopes of getting an all expense paid trip to New York.

Hazel becomes the toast of the town while Wally slowly falls in love with her. Will her secret come out? Will Wally's reputation be totally ruined? Will their love triumph? Well, this is a screwball comedy, so you figure it out.

I've mentioned before that I long believed The Wizard of Oz was the first color movie, but two years before Oz we have here a Technicolor film. Margaret Hamilton plays a Vermont drug store patron, so it wasn't even HER first color movie. Technicolor meaning, of course, technically color.

Here's something weird. In the 1974 animated feature Journey Back to Oz, Hamilton lends her voice as ... Aunt Em? I suppose the witch was dead. Liza Minnelli (Judy Garland's daughter, people) plays Dorothy. For the youngsters in the audience, back in the day, Liza was ... well ... ok looking.

Fun, entertaining, predictable. AMRU 3.