Thursday, June 26, 2014

Video Cheese/Oddball Film Report: THE GOLDEN GOOSE (1964)

NOTE: This piece was originally written for www.jabootu.net's Video Cheese. It has been published here instead by the kind permission of Mr. Ken Begg.


THE GOLDEN GOOSE (1964 - color)
   "A young man finds a Golden Goose and saves the kingdom, and gets the sexy Princess as a lovely parting gift."



   This was my first German kiddie film. If it serves as any indication, the European stuff isn't as psycho as the Mexican brands. That's not to say they can't have their weird moments, certainly, but at no time during this feature did I find myself questioning reality!

   (Since seeing this film, I have seen the German version of PUSS N BOOTS from 1967. It made for a fascinating comparison to the same decade's Mexican take. Had one never seen the Mexican version, I suppose the German one would be kinda weird, but only mildly so. It has nothing on the scarring terror of the Mexican film! If anything, the German take was fairly fun after my little trip south of the border....)

   Really, this plays more like a longer, live-action version of one of Jay Ward's Fractured Fairytales. Only instead of Edward Everett Horton, our narrator sounds more like Joan Alexander. Although obviously filmed on sets (as I just seem to expect from a kiddie flick for some reason), the production looks fairly lavish. The sets tend to be sparsely decorated (especially the higher up we go the royal ladder) but there are a larger number of sets than one might expect to find in such a production. Its no Snow White and the Three Stooges, but I'd say it looks more expensive than Abbott and Costello's Jack and the Beanstalk.



   Anyway, the first part of our story concerns three brothers. Klaus is the hard-working optimistic one, Karl is the stupid and arrogant one, and (rats, I already forgot his name, I'll just call him Peter) the always-expecting-hard-luck case. 

   Karl goes to chop some wood, but doesn't know how (or so I thought at first, we'll learn later the indestructible trees are part of the story). An old woman gathering sticks wanders up to Karl and asks for a bite of his pancake and drink of his wine. Karl seems unphazed by the fact that this old woman knows both his name and the contents of his pouch, but as the narrator notes "Karl is so very stupid!"



   Karl sends the woman on her way without anything to eat or drink and she exits via a dissolve. This alerts us to the fact that she's supernatural in some way, looking for the kind soul who is worthy of the titular object. 

   Characters like these confuse me. How long have they been doing this routine before the hero shows up? Do they get weekends off? Once they reward somebody with the precious gift they had guarded up to that point, what happens? Has it all been a magical form of community service? Do they move onto another kingdom and see who they can give away a new treasure to? At least Shazam's job was pretty straight forward, he only had to wait for one guy to show up and he knew who that would be long before they got there (and on the televised version, Mentor travelled the country with Billy Batson acting as a, well, mentor). What purpose do these magical gift-givers serve after they've bestowed their wares upon the tale's hero?



   Anyway, Karl is not IT, and neither is Peter. When Peter runs across the old woman, he at least notices her disappear before him. Not that this changes him in any way. This leaves shoe-maker Klaus as our hero. 

   Per tradition, the brothers live in poverty but limp along on Klaus' responsible nature (like Eddie Haskell and Wally Cleaver. No. More like Brian and Joe Hackett). In a sad sequence, they start to break apart and burn their last chair (sad because I can sort of relate, having had to burn a chair to stay warm during one of our recent freakishly cold winters. I also had to burn the joists from the attic stairs. I must not be pure in heart enough, because I never got a Golden Goose for my troubles).



   The King's soldiers are wandering through town spreading word of a new proclamation. The Princess has been moody lately and hasn't laughed in the longest time, and the King is canvassing for a young man to make her laugh. Should he achieve this effect, the lad will receive the Princess for a bride and inherit half the kingdom! That's a pretty sweet deal, given that the Princess looks a bit like Janet Leigh. (I'd be game, just let me grab my copy of Buck Privates Come Home and I'll be off to make the Princess laugh!) Klaus thinks the whole thing a tad silly, but his brothers decide to take the challenge, knowing there's a big cash reward involved.



   As the brothers head off to the castle, they send Klaus out to gather wood. I think we all know where this is going. Klaus has been given only a piece of stale bread and some water before he heads out to the same tree the others failed to make a dent in. Klaus too fails to make a mark on the tree, but his intellect makes him pause and consider this event. The narrator even chimes in, letting us know how how Klaus believes this to be a test. (Doesn't his knowing he's being tested make it sort of like cheating?) 

   The old woman wanders over, makes her request, and Klaus is happy to share what he has with her. And would you look at that, Klaus' stores have been magically replaced with a pancake (or whatever uncooked tortilla the Germans are calling a pancake) and wine! (Are they trying to imply the woman's being is angelic in some fashion? Turning water into wine seems a bit on the nose (though it seems Klaus has actually read his Bible and is acting in the manner Christ instructed us, so maybe there's supposed to be something to this).



   Klaus also spends his time examining and making a temporary repair to the old woman's basket for hauling sticks. She thanks him, and lets him know that he will now have success in chopping down the tree. Exit Mysterious Supernatural Old Woman. 

   Klaus takes a few swings at the base of the tree, but before he can make much of a cavity the whole tree topples over, roots and all. Sitting in the middle of the hole where the tree was based, Klaus finds the Golden Goose. (In general, this print -a Something Weird Video VHS- has great color. According to the note on the back, it comes from a 16mm print. It's an impressive one! Sharp and without faded color, very minimal wear, this is what you want from a video distributor who specializes in oddball older movies. Later on, we can see the bird has been painted gold. In this first scene though, it looks like just a normal white bird. Now this could be because the print has a light spot, and/or because my loaner television set is a tad too bright (being one of those models where you can't adjust anything without a remote, which is missing). If that be the case, I don't want to take an unfair shot at the film, but I was amused by characters awed by the golden color of what seemed to be a perfectly normal white goose.)



  Klaus is impressed with his Golden Goose, and who wouldn't be? The characters here keep talking about the bird as if it were an inanimate object made of solid gold rather than a living creature that's colored gold, something I was never really able to follow. 
   Anyway, along comes village girl Lisa, who is understandably impressed with the goose. She strokes the bird, then finds her hand glued to the goose's wing. Somehow Klaus is still able to set the bird down at will, but everyone else becomes glued to each other after contact with the bird. Next up is Lisa's sister Gretel, who is able to pull away after touching the bird, but the sisters soon find their skirts welded together. For some reason, Klaus continues to sing merrily as more and more people become captives of The Golden Goose. It gets sorta creepy pretty fast.


   You have to feel for Lisa, who will spend the rest of the flick with her right hand stuck to the goose. Gretel, on the other hand, should be able to get free by removing her dress. (Actually, I'm sure she would find the dress stuck to her skin, but this very idea is overlooked completely). Klaus, as noted, can escape at will, making him look a tad sadistic as he sings and laughs as another victim falls into place. The girls are the daughters of the local tavern keeper, and have to get home soon, goose or no goose. Klaus decides the magic sticky goose will make the Princess laugh and hopes to herd the girls over to the castle after they check in at the tavern.



  At the tavern, there is trouble. Prince Troublemaker(!) and his band of roughnecks are in town and they're terrorizing the old man. They're even loudly making plans to siege the castle and make off with the Princess. Klaus and the girls overhear this before they enter the tavern. Klaus' plan is to make a production of the Golden Goose, showing his 'wealth' and calling for unlimited drinks for his new friends, the Troublemakers. The tavern owner catches on pretty quickly for one of these things, despite his constant eyeing of the bird. 

   Long story short, Troublemaker and his stooges get staggering drunk and are lead into the wine cellar to sleep it off. The miscreants locked inside, we turn our attention to the kids being stuck together by "a very mean goose." In a scene I don't think we'd see in an American kiddie flick, Klaus, Lisa, and Gretel are allowed to sleep in the same room without much production over the issue. Yeah, they're stuck together, but shouldn't the Father of the girls issue a token "what are we going to do, you can't all sleep in the same place" kind of line?



   After he's sure the girls are asleep, the Father comes into the room and tries to pluck a feather from the Goose (he'd earlier speculated what economic fortune such a feather would fetch). As you'd expect, he gets stuck too. He pulls free at first, but finds his hand glued in Gretel's. 

   We'll, we're wasting time, let's get on over to the castle. Karl and Peter are on their way too. When we meet the Princess, we can see why she isn't laughing. She's being entertained by a troupe in black tights and wearing animal masks (I'd make a Mummenschanz joke, but I'm not that clever). Despite their act being little more than wandering around in their costumes, the King finds this frightfully funny. I just find it sort of frightening. 

   The Princess, we see, isn't in a funk or anything, she just doesn't have much reason to laugh. It's the old poor-rich-girl-who-has-never-tasted-life-outside-her-pampered-existence ploy that we've seen in every Disney movie since The Little Mermaid. Some may recall the Animaics spoof of Disney's Pocahontas which included the song "The Same Old Heroine." Lest ye mock Disney unfairly, The Golden Goose reminds us that theme goes back quite a ways.



   The Princess is bored, and spends much of her time with Wiserthan (yes, 'wiser than') the King's accountant/adviser and the Princess' tutor. He's a bit of a drip, and might have been played in a more entertaining American version by Hans Conried or Jim Backus (or Buster Keaton had AIP been producing). Wiserthan presents the Princess with a Royal Seesaw (we called them teeter-totters where I was raised), then prompts her to take a seat on one end while he takes the other and shows her how much fun it is. 

   To the film's credit (?), Princess isn't one of those sleepwalking zombie-types you might expect from the setup. She's got full control of her emotions, she just doesn't find anything funny. Laugh out loud funny, at any rate. She smiles quite a bit, and here takes evident pleasure in trapping Wiserthan above the ground by refusing to teeter (or totter, whichever, she's just sitting there).



   Klaus and his goose are forming quite a train of people on the trip to the castle. He may have planned it this way to make things funnier, since he stops before a trio of musicians (who are lounging about in the woods having lunch) and the Father (still clad in his night-shirt) lures them over to see the goose and become trapped. Happily, no one else panics at being supernaturally glued to a metallic water fowl, and all greet the situation with giggles and cheer. 

   Meanwhile, Karl and Peter try to entertain the Princess with predictable results. When Klaus and his company enter the castle, the Princess indeed starts laughing. It's amusing, I suppose, but I didn't think it a laugh riot. She acts like she's watching a Bob Hope movie!



   But wait, there's still a pretty good chunk of movie left! Princess wants to marry Klaus, and the townsfolk connected to his goose are in favor of it too. The King and Wiserthan try to go back on their published agreement, but Prince Troublemaker is headed toward the castle. The King now decrees that whomever protects the castle and the King's massive chest of gold shall be given Princess to bride. The idea is to haul the giant treasure chest into the upper room of the castle, and Karl and Peter and the guards rush outside to move the item, despite that fact it is too big for the door. 

   Since Klaus is the only one about with a brain, he sets a plan in motion involving hanging a pulley directly over the over-sized window to the King's court. Despite the obviousness of what he's doing, much is made of the crowd (even Wiserthan) not understanding what the boy is up to. The Royal Seesaw is employed to raise the chest in order to get the rope around it, just so you know that item wasn't scripted without reason. I know that had you on the edge of your seats.



   The chest in place, now we get to the big action finale as Troublemaker and his four or five henchmen storm the castle and Klaus takes up a sword and fights them off better than the King's soldiers are able to. (Who knew shoemakers had such good combat training?) 

   The kingdom safe again, the King grants Klaus permission to marry Princess. Karl and Peter even get something out of it all, since their brother is now loaded. Everybody is now freed from the grip of the gluey goose (its magic and all) and there's a little hoedown in the palace. The goose is roaming around free during this scene, so let's hope Ray Rayner isn't in attendance! (And yes, I know there won't be a gigantic number of readers who get that joke, but I find it funny.)



   As the gang has a square-dance type affair, we see Father has found a woman of his own and his daughters have spontaneously hooked up with Karl and Peter! Lisa tries to get Peter to kiss her, but he chickens out. Karl, meanwhile, laughs and smacks Gretel on the caboose as they dance! Klaus and Princess are, of course, the most handsome couple in the room. 

   Pan over to the goose, which flips a page in a book to note that we've reached ENDE. Good night, boys and girls!



   One last note, the tape includes about a dozen trailers for other wacky kiddie flicks, including Little Red Riding Hood, The Wonderful Land of Oz (which looks just terrible, by the way, although it features a mini-skirted army of young women....), and Sleeping Beauty. One film I would like very much to acquire now is The Secret of Magic Island (which looks to be a science-fiction spy movie of sorts populated by cute little animals in place of actors!). You gotta love the 60s!

Monday, June 23, 2014

RARRR!


Movies I'd Like To Make: GRAVE-ROBBERS FROM OUTER SPACE


   For all it's faults, and they are numerous, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE remains a sort of triumph for Ed Wood. It's epic in scope, has a beginning, middle, and end, and he got it made. True, he never saw any money from it, but the film has achieved cult status in the decades following his death in the late 1970's. 


   It's sort of hard for a man who loves genre pictures not to have a grudging admiration for Wood. While the guy was hopelessly inept and in over his head every step of his career, such as it was, he had a tenacity that made him singular. Amid the seas of hack and bottom-line B producers, Wood alone seemed to love what he was doing to a point where one can see the excitement behind the camera show through. You get that "Hey, I'm making a movie!" vibe from all his films, no matter how dreary they may be. It isn't talent, but it is infectious. 


   Wood can be considered something of an underdog, the Preston Tucker of Hollywood, if you will. That may be the major reason he still has fans, despite the quality, or lack thereof, of his work. I had the thought of paying tribute to the troubled man via a good remake of his most famous film.


   PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE is a mess, there's no denying that, but it has a few promising elements. Basically, I'd like to take the bones of the film and make from them the picture Ed thought he was making. Take the basic premise, clean it up a little, and shoot it on good sets with strong actors working from a well-written script. Not to get too carried away, I'd keep it black and white, with much the look and feel of a 50's Universal picture. I'd even wish to use the same musical score, which is rather stronger than one might think.


   Why the GRAVE-ROBBERS FROM OUTER SPACE title? Because that was Wood's original title, and I have to admit it has a nice ring to it.


   So who knows, a decently-budgeted film about Martians reviving the dead could really work. Had they been better constructed and shot, the bleak and dark graveyard sets of the original film would've had a certain punch to them. Tackling the script with the intention of turning it into something that makes a degree of sense would certainly be a challenge!


   I think it might be interesting to see what the film looked like in Ed's mind...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Video Cheese roundup

NOTE: These reviews were for a feature of www.jabootu.net called Video Cheese, and are presented here by the kind permission of Mr. Ken Begg. These reviews were fairly shot, so they've been lumped together here:


THE MEDUSA TOUCH (1978 - color)
    "Who tried to kill the man who kills with his mind?"

   I've not seen a lot of Richard Burton's work. In high school I saw The Taming of the Shrew, and more recently I've seen some of his war movies, like Raid on Rommel. I know Burton, as most do, as a fine actor from the British Stage. Whatever problems The Medusa Touch has, none of them can be blamed on Dick. 

   The film is populated by fine performances, and the technical end of the production is expertly done. No, the problem lies within the script. Half the time I was thinking "this is pretty good" while the other half found my thoughts more in line with "I can see why Ken put this flick on Burton's 'bad' list." The film has a few really good moments, but the picture itself never rises to 'good' territory. The best it manages is 'interesting.'

   Burton plays Morlar, an anti-establishment writer who believes he has telekinetically caused the deaths of many people during his life. He is found bludgeoned to death in his apartment, but later begins to breath again. Morlar is rushed to the hospital, where we discover that his brain is incredibly active even if his body requires machines to keep it alive. 

   A French detective working with the Yard on an exchange program attempts to uncover the identity of the attempted murderer. Morlar isn't expected to survive. 

   We learn Morlar's backstory as the detective questions Morlar's beauteous lady psychiatrist. Morlar seems to have some power that causes people to die when he dislikes them. His parents were run over by the family car, his unfaithful wife and her lover were killed in a crash, a judge who passes a verdict he dislikes (Morlar was briefly a lawyer) was terrified by Morlar's fixed gaze, later suffering a heart attack with his features said to be locked in an expression of fear. 

   Morlar was beginning to become sickened, more than before that is, with the Establishment and decided to focus his powers of destruction on what he felt would be a dark blessing on humanity. There's to be a celebration at a large Catholic church to repair the cracking foundation of the historical marvel. The place will be stuffed with royalty and celebrities. He intends to further weaken the foundation and bring the building down "on their undeserving heads!" 

   Someone believed he could do it, and tried to kill him before he could follow through. And, after seeing him 'will' down a jet-liner, they had cause to....



   Well, of course his brain is still active so he's been building his mental energies. The climax of the picture is pretty good. Our detective hero tries to convince the church leaders to move the celebration, seeing the structure beginning to stagger. Too much preparation has been made, and it's assumed the building is in no danger of collapsing anyway. 

   Convincing his colleagues, the detective attempts to move everybody out with a bomb scare. Before everyone can get clear, though, Morlar's brain starts going crazy and the structure begins to fall apart. Our hero races to the hospital to disconnect Morlar from the machines. He does, but too much damage has occurred and the church building falls to pieces.

   Then Morlar's brain becomes active again. Morlar has indicated that his next target will be an atomic plant which is the scene of a protest. The movie ends as Morlar's brain activity begins soaring.

   Again, this could have been something if handled right. The theme here is certainly good for a dramatic story. The premise would have made a decent Quatermass film, I think. In the end, though, it becomes yet another tiresome poke at the Catholic church. Yawn.  

   Still, the performances here are quite good. As an actors' showcase, it isn't bad. Likewise the effects work is well done and I liked the climax. Sadly, though, the best assessment I can give the film is "Not Terrible."  For a more, well, American, take on the subject, see George Pal's much less degrading The Power. That one includes my favorite Richard, Carlson, in a supporting role.


GOODNIGHT, SWEET MARILYN (1988 - color)
   "The Many Rapes of Norma Jean Baker."

   Marilyn Monroe remains one of the most beloved movie stars in the world, holding her own against such powerhouses as John Wayne and Elvis Presley. As seems to be the habit, Monroe died in suspect circumstances that have given rise to countless conspiracy theories. Here are the facts as we know them.

   In 1962 the troubled starlet had been less and less reliable about getting to work. Her latest picture, Something's Gotta Give with co-star Dean Martin, was cancelled as her temperamental behavior caused seemingly endless delays which caused the budget to expand. 

   This lead to the memorable moment at the President's televised birthday celebration in which Marilyn sighed her way through "Happy Birthday to You." She was introduced multiple times before she was due to hit the stage, setting up the gag of the MC finally introducing "the late Miss Marilyn Monroe." 

   Having just reached a birthday when most actresses end their careers and still stunning as ever, friends saw Marilyn's spirits start to pick up from her recent bouts of depression. Monroe was ready to put her recent escapades behind her and start fresh. If memory serves, she even had a few scripts lined up.

  The actress was found dead one morning, lying naked in bed, her hand grasping her Princess telephone. She had made a few calls the previous night, sounding delirious and detached. The cause of death was determined to be an overdose of prescription drugs, sleeping pills I believe. 

   Almost at once the rumors began to fly. Some blamed an unknown assailant, some blamed the Secret Service, while others felt poor little Norma Jean had just reached the end of her rope. Lunacy ran in her family and, compounded with all the hard knocks she'd taken on her road to stardom, some felt her glamorous but empty life at the top had to get to her eventually. 

   The confused details of her death remain the subject of much speculation to this day.

   Larry Buchanan is a sick jerk. 

   In Goodnight, Sweet Marilyn, Buchanan lovingly details the endless sexual and mental abuses the actress is said to have endured on her road to the top. I guess I was expecting a less depressing film, more along the lines of a police procedural. 

   Buchanan had earlier directed another film about the actress, Goodbye, Norma Jean. Those used to the TV monster movies Buchanan made in the 60s will be shocked to learn that our current subject actually looks like a real movie. Technically speaking, the film is quite well made. I was a little taken aback to see the copyright tag read 1988, however, as I spent the entire movie thinking it had been made about ten years earlier!

   Basically, the film details the final hours of Marilyn's life, as related to us by her bodyguard "Mesquite." We see a pair of Secret Service agents (one female, I think to help put Monroe at ease once the interrogation begins) fish Monroe's near-dead body from the swimming pool. 

   They revive and dry off the movie star (and do a great job, her hair is perfect in the next scene), then take her to her bed. They give her an injection, then question her to see if she knows anything that might jeopardize national security, as she has announced plans to tell all in a television interview. (This is the first I've heard of such a program, how about you?) 

   This leads to some flashbacks showing how small town girl Norma Jean Baker (no relation) vowed to become a movie star, went to Hollywood, and defied the notions of every casting director to become the most famous actress in the world. And, sucking any inspirational overtones from that theme is that she gets raped every ten minutes or so. 

   This is, after all, the tragic story of a tragic figure. In the end, even after she became the dream girl of every American male with red blood in his veins, we are left with the idea that she never got a break in her life. That is, until Mesquite released her with the fatal overdose the pair had planned should she ever go off the deep end. Had this not be handled in such a sleazy manner, it might have had some substance. 

   Mesquite also tells us of how somebody found Marilyn and tried to rush her to the hospital, only to have her die along the way. So they turn back and pose Monroe's body in the position it was later found! Frankly, the conspiracy theories on display here are so muddled, I have no idea what Buchanan is trying to say!

   Playing Marilyn Monroe are two actresses. First-timer Paula Lane plays the weirdly beefy (and aged, she looks a good ten years older than she should) end-of-her-life Marilyn. Young Norma Jean is played by Playboy Playmate Misty Rowe, who looks rather more like Fay Emerson than Marilyn Monroe (but, it must be noted, looks absolutely fetching in her period undies -and sometimes less- in the scenes where she's not being violently raped). 

   Wisely, Buchanan has Rowe handle the bulk of the movie, since she's a much better actress than Lane. She jumps back and forth between perky-happy and broken-sad expertly, and handles everything in between with visible talent. One wonders why she never went very far in the business. 

   In an odd cameo, Misty Rowe at one point shares a scene, and exchanges a couple of lines, with Phyllis Coates. Coates had been a fairly busy B actress in the early 50s, most famous as being television's first Lois Lane on The Adventures of Superman. I always thought she to be the best looking of the Lanes, but she was eventually replaced by Noel Neil, who had earlier played Lois in a pair of serials.

   Far more grimy than needed, but a technically solid production. Those who like to eyeball vintage cars will find the flashbacks (parts of them, anyway) a real treat.

ALIEN PREDATOR (1985 - color)
   "Not one to watch over dinner, but better than you'd expect."

   When I popped into my VCR an 80s horror flick shot in Spain and boasting heavy gore, I didn't expect I'd actually run across a pretty good movie! Like The Deadly Spawn, Alien Predator proves to be a shockingly decent monster movie for something sold almost entirely on the fact that it's dripping with blood. 

   It shares some elements with the under-rated Mutant, though it's not quite that good (although the pair would make a dandy double bill). I was quite shocked. This film is genuinely scary, and, even more difficult, genuinely funny! (Not every joke hits the mark, but a surprisingly high number of them do.) One can easily imagine that this film was one of the inspirations for Slither.

  Three college kids are travelling through Europe in a motor-home. There's handsome Michael, prankster/loudmouth Damen, and perky gal Samantha. (The quite sexy Samantha looked familiar to me during the film and I knew I'd seen her before. She's played by Lynn-Holly Johnson, who played the jail-bait figure skater in For Your Eyes Only who tried to bed Roger Moore. Seeing 007 not want to have sex with an eager lass makes the scene stick in one's memory!) 

   Despite being stock characters, the trio is strongly etched and the actors come across as quite natural. They run into a dead bull on a lonely country road before arriving in an isolated town.

  The bull comes from an earlier scene where the animal gets sick and then (thankfully off-screen) its stomach blows out. (The use of sickening sound effects is another of the movie's strengths.) There follows a scene in which two wild dogs are feeding on the remains. The mass of flesh begins to move and the dogs back away. Seeming to think it safe, the larger of the two dogs moves in to investigate. He's grabbed by something and pulled inside the carcase after a rough struggle. The sequence is nicely edited and sets up a good mystery (although when solved, we find a dog the size shown would have a better chance of escaping).

  The trio finds the townsfolk are acting rather strange... and I'm not sure how much more to get into, as I'd hate to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it. I will say that the title is misleading, though not altogether inaccurate. 

   The film isn't a masterpiece or anything, but it holds together much better than I ever expected. Just be sure you have a strong constitution for some scenes, such as the one described above with the dogs and the dead bull. (For what it's worth, the opening sequence is probably the roughest in the picture. Most of the picture relies more heavily on atmosphere than outright gore.)

   I really liked the film. (The picture is so obscure, though, I don't know how likely a pristine DVD release will ever be -on the other hand, several equally obscure treasures HAVE been released....) 

   One thing though, when will American students learn it's a bad idea to travel across the back roads of Europe?

IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD (1982 - color)
   "Clips from various oddball movies are hosted by comedy stars of the early 80s."

   This movie had a huge impact on my youth, as it was the only way I was able to see so many of the movies that provide clips for this entertaining quasi documentary. 

   Although the idea seems to be one of showing clips from "bad" movies, its more an assortment of scenes from all over the spectrum. We get snippets from War of the Worlds, The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Deadly Mantis, House on Haunted Hill, From Hell It Came, and on down to Plan 9 From Outer Space, Glenn, or Glenda?, and the Starman movies. 

   The clips are divided into themes (Gorillas, Aliens, Troubled Teens, etc.) each introduced and/or hosted by a different performer. Though the clips could stand on their own, and were certainly what drew me to the film, we get host segments and occasional voice-over from Dan Akroyd, John Candy, Gilda Radner, and Cheech and Chong. 

   Candy is probably the funniest (with Akroyd right behind) as he hosts segments devoted to Ed Wood and Special Effects, while the least amusing is Cheech and Chong. That may have more to do with me than the picture, though, as I've never understood the draw of Cheech and Chong (though I will grant that in their era, when such pothead humor was new and different, they had their fans). Losing much of their effect on me is when the stoned duo offer their thoughts on various anti-drug movies (which, while crude, I've never been comfortable poking fun at. I hold to the notion that illegal narcotics are, in fact, a scourge and an enemy to be fought by good citizens. You can imagine how warmly I'm apt to respond to C & C).

    The assortment of clips we see are nicely edited, and there's some glimpses of some real gems in there. (There are even a number of flicks represented here I have yet to see, whereas I think I've seen every film used in the similar clip flick Invasion Earth, The Aliens Are Here!). Nearly 100 movies find snippets from themselves on display here. Helpfully, the end credits include a seemingly endless string of movie titles, even for films from which we see only a few seconds of footage (or even when the clips come from public domain trailers). It's a great show for genre movie fans.

   Sadly, It Came From Hollywood (and Invasion Earth, The Aliens Are Here! as long as I'm mentioning it) has fallen into legal complications that prevent any release on newer home entertainment formats. The various owners of the many clips each want their piece of the action, creating a pool from which, if everybody drinks, no one has their thirst quenched. 

   Paramount Pictures (who released the original film) readied a DVD release, but was never able to follow through. If any disks got pressed, and escaped the factory, I imagine they would draw a pretty penny. 

   The Paramount home video from the 80s (as well as the laserdisc) has become a highly sought-after collector's item, fetching big bucks on Ebay. Most copies command between $50 and $80, well over $100 if the tape is in mint condition, making it one of the harder titles to acquire. 

   Happily, Paramount pressed some very nice tapes for the rental market, meaning that if you can hunt down a copy it will likely play like new if in moderately good condition.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Space-mates



Pix from Godzilla movies. Just because.

 GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS -1954-56
 ditto
 GIGANTIS, THE FIRE MONSTER -1955-59
 KING KONG VS GODZILLA, 1962-63
KING KONG VS GODZILLA, 1962-63

ditto

MOTHRA, 1962


GODZILLA VS THE THING, 1964
ditto

GHIDRAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER, 1964-65

MONSTER ZERO, 1965-70
GODZILLA VERSUS THE SEA MONSTER, 1966-67

ditto

DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, 1968-69

GODZILLA VS THE SMOG MONSTER, 1971-72

ditto
ditto, good detail of the back of the suit

ditto
GODZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND, 1972-78

GODZILLA VS MEGALON, 1973-76
GODZILLA VS THE COSMIC MONSTER, 1974-76

THE TERROR OF GODZILLA, 1975-78
ditto

ditto

GODZILLA VS THE THING, 1964, still considered the best entry by many fans