Thursday, December 13, 2007
Up from the ground comes a bubbling white creamy substance. Some guy stumbles upon it, tastes it and since it's so delicious, decides to market it. The world loves it, but some people, a Texan detective and a kid in particular are highly suspicious. The detective is hired to find out what The Stuff is made of and a kid who sees this yummy dessert moving about his fridge. People start showing clear signs of dependency on The Stuff and are turning into yogurt zombies called "Stuffies", encouraging everyone to eat The Stuff, because it's so tasty and good for you too. They discover that there is no mixing or processing of The Stuff, it's just being mined out of the ground without even being tested. The Stuff is pretty aggressive in large quantities and can attack at will. The detective sneaks into the factory where The Stuff is being distributed from and plants a few land mines and blows up the geyser that the Stuff is bubbling out from. The Stuff is outed as a mind altering bacterial substance and the people vow to get rid of all of it. At the end, when all seems right with the world, you see what looks like some kind of drug deal, and you learn it's a couple of Stuffies getting their fix and transporting it like a drug cartel. This has been a great cult favorite and a great time capsule from the early 80's too.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
This is a true masterpiece of film. It has reached a high cult status and is just as scary today as it was when it was released in 1922. It's taken almost verbatim form Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula", which didn't sit well with Stoker's widow who had never given away rights to the story. Therefore, all references to "Dracula" must never be used and then she went a step further and decided that it was completely plagiarized and tried to have all copies of the movie destroyed. Fortunately, she was unsuccessful at halting the movie entirely. Director F.W. Murnau changed a few characters names, slightly altered events, including the name of the movie to Nosferatu. Instead of Count Dracula, we have Count Orlock. Even with the changes, this is without a doubt, an obvious adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel. Rights or no rights, we have it today to enjoy and that's all that really matters. The part of Count Orlock was played by Max Schreck, who was a very very eccentric person who actually thought he was a vampire in real life, only filmed at night and traveled around in a coffin at all times. He ate bats and rats and pretty much freaked out anyone who had the non advantage of being around him. Due to his vampiric ways, the movie took much longer than anticipated, special sets had to be built of a ship because Max Schreck refused to film on a real ship. Despite the controversy about Max Schreck and the ongoing problems that plagued the making of the film, Max Schreck delivers a bone chilling performance. He's so creepy looking, it literally gives me chills and has been scaring the hell out of people for over eighty years now. The filming of this movie and the antics of Max Schreck have been legend for years and was used as the topic of a recent film called "Shadow of the Vampire" starring John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe.
This was Ed Wood's second movie, but first feature film. Glen or Glenda had a horrible reception and seemed more like a semi-autobiographical documentary on transvestites, when it was supposed to be about sex changes. I think with Jail Bait, Ed was just trying to make some money. Crime dramas were very big at the time and he thought he cash in on it, then take the profits from that and make a sci-fi horror flick as was his usual M.O. Miraculously, a young Steve Reeves (Hercules) managed to make it into this little flick. Crime drama wasn't really Ed's favorite medium, but he did the best he could with it. Not a bad story really. I mean of course it has all the trademarks of being an Ed Wood film... deplorable acting, totally improbable plots and cheap sets. Speaking of sets, these here are exactly the same ones from Glen or Glenda, (this being the first film following Glen or Glenda, I guess Ed thought he could successfully recycle without anyone noticing). It also had the same actors which again just made it seem like Glen/Glenda was a murderer having plastic surgery to alter his/her face to escape the police. Basically, the story is about a guy who commits a murder, then he himself is murdered. His murderer tries to blackmail the original killers father (a prominent plastic surgeon) to alter his appearance to escape the authorities. The plastic surgeon thinks his son has only been kidnapped, but soon learns that his son is dead. He performs the plastic surgery (at the guys house, armed with a scalpel and a tub of hot water) and when the police finally start to catch up with killer #2, it's conveniently time for the unveiling of bandages to prove that he's someone else. Amazingly, the father managed to completely alter his face to look exactly like his dead son that was wanted for murder. He's shot by the cops, the end. Like I said, this isn't very much like most of Ed's stuff, but still has that totally cheaper than cheap feel to it that we've come to love in all Ed Wood's movies.
Contrary to popular belief, "Chastity" was not Sonny and Cher's first movie attempt. Before Chastity, there was "Good Times". This very unknown part of Sonny and Cher's career went unnoticed since the day it was released. At this stage of their career, they were looking to do something different aside from singing to support their act and keep it alive and up to date (all kinds of musicians and bands were making movies as well), and this was their first try at movies, therefore it is the ONLY movie that stars both Sonny and Cher. It looks like it's gonna be a great comedy played by a famous duo, but is ends up coming out boring and depressing. I think the folly of this film is that Sonny not only wrote it, but he also played all the major roles. Cher by contrast isn't allowed nearly as much screen time. And let's be honest, between the two, who would you rather watch? Anyway, Sonny and Cher Play themselves (painfully honest, I assume). They are solicited by some weirdo named Mr. Morticus (George Sanders, who committed suicide not long after making this pile of crap) to make a movie because he rather fancies them and thinks their "with it, man.". Mr. Morticus has people wrestling and fighting in his office and stewardess looking women who are delivering drinks and whatnot to everyone (a truly bizarre scene that is never explained). Morticus and Sonny strike a deal, Morticus tells the writers to just plagiarise "Rags to Riches" and just change a few names around. Sonny and Cher hate it and Morticus gives them ten days to come up with something themselves using props from the studio. The rest of the movie is Sonny trying to think of a cool movie theme (still thinking that they actually have a say in the movies story). Sonny has a western themed scene, a jungle themed scene and Dragnet with girl Friday themed scene. All are pretty boring as Sonny does most of the talking and singing, and Cher is just this stubborn spoiled side dish that gripes about anything and everything throughout the entire movie (and wears some of the wildest clothes ever seen). Morticus hates all Sonny's ideas (who wouldn't?) and still insists on the "rags to riches" story. They say "no", he says "you'll never work again, blah, blah, blah." Sonny and Cher walk out and happily stroll down the street. The End. What can I say... in this move Sonny is stupid and Cher is a Bitch. Painfully contrast to the squeaky clean image that they had at that time. As a funny side note: This film was directed by William Freidkin (The Exorcist). From Sonny and Cher to demon possession. A bit of a leap there Mr. Friedkin?
Wow, what a great movie! Even though this film is very well known (which is definitely contrast to the general definition of a cult classic. But this movie has without a doubt gathered a huge cult status and has been recently remade as a comedy starring Nicole Kidman, Mathew Broderick and Bette Midler. The original is far superior to it's remake in both style, creativity, suspense and depth of character. A growing family is tired of the city (and all the craziness that comes with it) and decides to move to the cleaner suburban outskirts of the city to raise their children in a more wholesome environment. They choose Stepford, a town that from the start seems a little off kilter. For one thing, all the housewives are extremely vapid, caring only about cooking, cleaning and tending to their husbands every need with the utmost enthusiasm. When they talk, they sound like living TV commercials (If Shiny Clean Dishwasher soap were to ask me to do a commercial for them, not only would I do it, but I'd do it for free.) Despite it's oddities, this new couple manages to cope. The kids are doing well in school, making friends. The husband joins the Stepford Men's Association. Only Joanna the wife is not content, believing that something is odd, but just can't identify it. Fortunately for Joanna, another couple have recently moved to Stepford. The two wives (Joanna and Bobbie) instantly bond and very much agree that Stepford is just plain weird. It's TOO clean, everyone's TOO friendly and the wives are sexy and gorgeous, yet they fawn over overweight ugly old men (their husbands). Because all the men in town belong to the "Husbands Only" lodge they try to organize a womens club. Only one other woman in town is interested, a wife that has only been in Stepford for a few months, named Charmaine. Anyway, after returning from a "trip" with her husband, Charmaine is now acting like all the other wives in Stepford. Cooking, cleaning, and wearing flowery aprons while dusting the house in heels (totally Donna Reed style). This is a tremendous contrast from the independent, free thinking woman she was before who needed a recipe just to make ice. Joanna and Bobbie find this incredibly disturbing and can't understand how these transformations could possibly be taking place. Then soon after, Bobbie asks Joanna to babysit her kids while her and her husband go on "second honeymoon". When she comes back, she's wearing beautiful makeup, her kitchen is so clean it's sanitized and she is all of a sudden madly devoted to her husband. Joanna freaks and stabs Bobbie in the stomach. Bobbie pulls out the clean, non blood stained knife and proceeds to go haywire like a short circuited robot, opening and closing cabinets, dumping cup after cup of coffee on the floor, repeating things like "How could you do a thing like that", "When I was just going to give you coffee", "I thought we were friends". Noticing that it had been exactly six months after moving to Stepford that Charmaine changed and now Bobbie had been in town for exactly six months and has suddenly changed. Realizing that she has been in town for almost six months herself, Joanna becomes frantic. She seeks help from a psychiatrist who ends up being the only person that believes Joanna's story. The psychiatrist advises her to get out of town now... take the kids and run. But when Joanna returns, the children are nowhere to be found. She goes to the Mens Lodge to confront her husband and to get her kids. The only person she finds is the President of the Mens Association who basically tells her that she has no choice. She runs and hides in a room, but to her amazement the room looks just like her bedroom at home. There's even a replica of Joanna sitting at a vanity table brushing her hair. The replica has considerably larger boobs and has completely black eyes (the assumption is that she's not quite finished with her replication process). A shocked Joanna is strangled by the replica and the next thing you know, she's dressed all frilly and is obsessed with the grocery store. Oh, didn't I mention that one of the members of the Men's Association used to work at Disneyland... making robots.
Some idiot is driving down a dirt road smoking a joint with his dog, supposedly attempting to deliver a few barrels of toxic waste. The scene is now obviously set for a movie from Troma. Toxic waste, bad acting, and the appearance of being filmed with a home movie camera. Anyway, the guy loses the barrel, a fat redneck finds it and uses it for an an alcohol still, therefore making toxic moonshine. One by one, these rednecks start becoming toxic zombies. Fortunately for the story, there are a group of campers nearby that make for some tasty vittles. This movies starts out quite comically with the stereotypical rednecks being their weird little country selves, but about halfway through the film it just turns into outright gore. Troma movies can be pretty gross, but this one is totally disgusting. Not much plot, really. Just colorful characters and lots of gore. Absolutely do NOT invest any time trying to understand anything in this movie, for it just isn't relevant. Just sit back and enjoy the humorous zombie make-up, cheap special effects and non funny one liner jokes.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Ed Wood's Night of the Ghouls is an unofficial sequel to Bride of the Monster. There are several references to "The Old Willows Place" (Dr. Vornoff's residence and lab that explodes in Bride of the Monster) and even Lobo, the kind hearted monster from "Bride" makes a reappearance (with much more gruesome make-up than before). A Swami scam artist that bilks people into believing that he can channel the dead, recruits an actress to plays a roaming ghost at night to frighten people. Unfortunately for her, a real ghost dressed in black is following her with the same intentions. As the Swami (who's actual name is Dr. Acula. (DrAcula, get it? Of course you get it, you just don't want it.) holds his fake seances, he fools people with the weirdest tricks. One is a floating trumpet, a guy in a white sheet scuttles by every now and then with a very whimsical tune that plays as he shuffles by. There was some other "floating" (obviously on a string) object that I couldn't identify. All this weirdness doesn't even phase the people at the seance. This cheap crap never even strikes the seance members in the slightest as strange or odd, they actually think it's "normal", although I use that term loosely. At the seance, two attendees are skeletons wearing cheap wigs. Eventually, after committing an endless list of criminal offences, the Swami isn't taken down by the law but instead by ghosts of the families that the Swami scammed. They crowd around him and the next morning, he's gone and the "ghosts" are now a pile of bones on the floor. This Ed Wood film came a little later in the game than most of his movies. You see, Ed didn't make movies, he made crap. Therefore was broke and fit the perfect stereotype of the starving artist. Since he was so broke, he couldn't afford to have this film developed. Decades later when Wade Williams bought the rights to Ed Wood's movies. He had the film developed decades after it was filmed, so that now we can enjoy this almost nearly lost classic. If you loved Bride of the Monster, then Night of the Ghouls should definitely be sought out. I think it's one of Eddie's better pieces of doo doo.
Another one of Ed Wood's classics in the can. This is officially Bela Lugosi's last movie. He is credited and seen briefly in one of Ed's later films Plan 9 From Outer Space, but this is only because Ed happened to have some home movies of Bela and wove them (not so gracefully) into the plot. Anyway, this movie is an attempt at a Sci-Fi thriller, but like all of Ed's other work, turned out to be crap. Dr. Eric Vornoff (Bela) has been run out of his native country and bought an old house out in the woods called the " Old Willow's Place". Armed with his muscleman slave Lobo (wrestler Tor Johnson) he plans to use nuclear technology to create his own army of "super beings". A nosy newspaper reporter named Janet Lawton is investigating the legend of the monster at the Old Willows Place (technically we're never really told what the monster was... was it Lobo, the octopus or what Dr. Vornoff becomes after being zapped with his own raygun). Probably because the original title of this film was Bride of the Atom, but was changed so as to have a scarier sounding title. She gets too close, gets kidnapped, forced to dress like a bride and is strapped to a table, apparently to be one of the first people that Dr. Vornoff plans to turn into a super being. Lobo saves her at the last minute and straps the doctor onto the table in her place. Dr. Vornoff gets zapped by his own machine and turns into something, not sure if it's a super being or if it went terribly wrong and made him into a monster. The only noticeable differences is that he looks kinda burnt, with messed up hair and is wearing huge black 6 inch pump shoes. All through the movie, Ed tries desperately to match the stock footage to his own footage. He fails miserably. The doctor has a pet octopus, which at the end of the movie ends up eating the good doctor for dinner, but nevertheless looks faker than fake when compared to the stock footage of a real octopus. The same with a snake in a tree... a shot of a real snake and then the rubber one in the tree that doesn't move. And as a final flaw in the movie, Dr. Vornoff's residence/laboratory explodes at the end for no reason and the explosion is stock footage of an atomic bomb that would have destroyed half the globe, yet everyone near the house isn't even blinded as they look upon what's become of a mad geniuses work. True crap, and is therefore strongly recommended for cult fans.
Orgy of the Dead was one of Ed Wood's last films. And if you thought Glen or Glenda or Plan 9 was bad, this farce makes them look like masterpieces. Towards the end of his life, he had already been a raging alcoholic for years and had begun making monster/nudie films. Light weight porn with a vague monster theme, basically. This movie has no plot at all and only the bare bones of a story. A young couple are traveling down the road and run out of gas near a cemetery. Day instantly becomes night as we move from an outside shot to a studio shot (one of Ed Woods favorite continuity goofs). They are tied up by a werewolf (you can actually see the actors whole neck because the mask is too small). The infamously incorrect self proclaimed psychic (and Ed's favorite drinking buddy) Criswell rises out of a coffin and gives some kind of speech about the creatures of the night, blah, blah, blah. He is obviously reading a cue card, as his eyes move back and forth. He even moves his head back and forth a little too. It also looks like he has on enough make-up to carve your initials in. He is joined by some Vampira wannabe that looks like Elvira's younger sister. Throughout the rest of the movie, the captive couple are subjected to striptease after striptease, by heavily endowed females jiggling around to a "spooky" soundtrack. Each girl comes out "dressed" as something different. There's the Voodoo girl, the jungle girl, the skeleton girl, the mummy girl, etc. They come out half dressed to begin with and "dance" around until all clothes are a distant memory. One after the other, like it's Halloween at a strip club. Then it abruptly ends when the couple untie themselves and escape. I truly believe that there's something out there for everyone, so if you like big bosoms and strippers on Halloween... this Bud's for you.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
May is a pathetically lonely person who's only friend is a doll named "Suzie" that is special and isn't supposed to be taken out of her glass display case (gee, what fun). She also has a lazy eye and has to wear an eye patch to school, ensuring that she will have no friends. May grows up, but still has no friends (except Suzie, whom she talks to all the time). Tired of being alone, she seeks love and friendship. So one day she spots Adam, specifically his hands for which she has an unnatural liking for. They have a date or two until he discovers just how weird she is. She stalks him for a while, until overhearing Adam tell a friend how he successfully dumped "that nutcase". Distraught over Adam, May takes interest in Polly, a coworker of May's (her neck fascinates May) at the veterinarian hospital that has been hinting that she likes May for some time now. Polly seems sincere about having a relationship with May... that is until Ambrosia (Betty Grable on steroids) comes along and soon Polly's interest in May simmers down. Every time something goes sour in May's life, we hear the cracking of Suzie's glass case in the background, symbolically representing the cracking of May's sanity.. Hurt for the second time now, she desperately craves love, so she volunteers at a daycare for blind kids. This works out fine until May brings Suzie to the daycare for show and tell. An accident happens and the glass case gets broken and every child in the place gets shredded with broken glass (remember, they're blind kids, they see and discover through touching), thus ending her new hobby as a care giver. After some time, she's sitting on a city bench when some punk named Zero drops in. As oppose to his punk appearance, he's an overly polite nice guy. May is again searching for that one person that won't screw her over and will be her friend. Unfortunately, May had killed her cat a few days prior and stuffed it in the freezer, so when Zero goes looking for ice cubes, he gets a surprise. He calls May a freak and says that he'd never be her friend. This is the last straw and May snaps. She kills Zero by stabbing him in the head with scissors (something I've wanted to do to George Bush for a long time now). May finally catches on to the phrase "If you can't find a friend... make one." She decides that she needs more parts, so on Halloween she dresses up like Suzie and armed with scalpels and a beer cooler, sets out to collect all the parts she needs to make her "new friend". She collects Adam's hands, Polly's neck, and Ambrosia's legs. Nobody notices anything peculiar since it's Halloween. Once home, May sets to work "making" her new friend (May has a knack for sewing). With all the right parts, May now has the perfect friend. One thing is wrong though. May's new friend has a fabric head (I guess May never liked anyone's head enough to use it) and cannot see May. She tries putting her glasses on it to no avail. It appears that one last sacrifice can bring life to May's perfect friend. She gouges out her good eye and puts it on the "quilted cadaver". Then... the arm moves slowly up to May's crying face and strokes her hair, comforting her. Creepy to say the least. I suppose the installment of life to the "friend" is symbolic of May going right off the deep end, with this final comfort from the new friend she just made. This is probably one of the newest films to be awarded a cult status. Released in 2002, it was slow to catch on but it has gained a huge cult following in a pretty short period of time. One of my all-time favorites.
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane is a rather recent addition to a cult status. You see, it had a large budget, Oscar winning actresses and was a huge success when it was released... all of which are traits that would be really hard to include in any kind of cult film. I think the reason it's gained a lot of cult status is that this was intended to be a suspense/drama and turned out to be incredibly funny. Unintentional humor is usually a large part of what makes a cult film. Another aspect that makes this movie great is the off-screen antics of the films two main actresses. Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, who were in constant competition of the coveted title of Queen Bitch of Hollywood, a feud that had been growing for years before "Baby Jane" was filmed. Both actresses were practically fossils when they made this movie and were considered very low profile. One director even stated "I wouldn't give a wooden nickel for those two old broads." But director Robert Aldrich saw it differently and had struck upon a great idea... take two actresses who literally hated each others guts and put them both in a movie where their characters hate each others guts. Absolutely brilliant!! That hatred for each other fueled some of the best acting ever produced, with absolutely no inspiration needed at all. The story goes a little like this... In 1917 Baby Jane Hudson was the child star to end all child stars, singing and dancing her way across America's heart. But then she went and committed the worst crime that a child star can do... she grew up. Fast forward to 1935, Jane's sister Blanche has become the most successful actresses of her time and Jane's career is in the toilet. One night, the two of them are returning home from a party, we see one sister get out of the car to unlock the gates and the other sister hits the gas and outright runs her down. Fast forward again to "yesterday"... Blanche is in a wheelchair and Jane is her care giver. Basically two old biddies living in an old Hollywood house, and have been out of the spotlight for some time now, one was a star for a few years as a child and the other sister a much more successful actress as an adult for a much longer time. For years, the hatred and resentment has been building, until Jane is quite fed up with what she considers to be the sacrifice of her career for the sake of caring for her sister. The insinuation being that Jane ran Blanche down (just to be a bitch, I guess), so out of guilt takes care of her sister. Jane begins to treat her sister very badly and we soon learn that she also appears to be losing her grasp on reality. When they begin showing some of Blanche's old movies on television (before we had VCR's) Jane is terribly jealous and her abuse against Blanche become bizarrely inhumane. She takes out the phone in Blanche's room, is keeping flowers and fan mail meant for Blanche, she even cooks Blanche's parakeet and then serves it to her for dinner. Oh and didn't I also mention that Jane is now a raging alcoholic? The loonier Jane gets, the more desperate Blanche becomes, after all it's gotta be pretty scary to be dependent on someone who hates and resents you, cooks you parakeets and rats for dinner, is forging your signature and stealing from your bank account, and is by all means becoming a complete lunatic. All while slowly starving her sister to death, Jane is also trying to revive her act as "Baby Jane Hudson". Acting and dressing like when she was a young star, which of course looks totally creepy on someone who is now in her late 60's. Through the newspaper, she places an ad for a partner in reviving her career. She meets Edwin, who also thinks she's a nut, but a nut with money. He's just after the cash, therefore he indulges her looniness for the sake of making some money. Blanche's friend Elvira comes to find out why Blanche can't be reached on the phone and why Jane won't let her go upstairs to Blanche's room. Opening the door and finding Blanche hog tied to the bed with her mouth taped shut, she tries to help. Unfortunately Jane clobbers Elvira with a hammer from behind and kills her before she can help. That night, Jane dumps the body. A day or two later cops come questioning Jane about Elvira's disappearance, so Jane panics, grabs her barely conscious sister and heads for the beach. While lying on the beach, Jane plays in the sand while Blanche lies there dying. A wonderful twist ending occurs (which I normally wouldn't tell people, but what the hell, it's my blog). As a dying confession, Blanche reveals that it was actually her that was driving the car that fateful night, and not her sister Jane. Blanche had a hatred for Jane ever since they were little when Jane was getting all the attention. Apparently, Jane had been a real bitch to Blanche at the party that they had just returned home from and that it was Blanche that was driving, not jane who was unlocking the gates, and tried to run Jane down with the car, snapping her spine and crippling herself. She crawled out of the car and up to the gates and when the cops arrived they assumed Jane had done it. Jane was apparently too drunk to know what had happened. Then, one of the best lines of the movie... "You mean, all this time we could've been friends?". By now people are noticing a dying Blanche and a dancing Jane, so pretty soon the cops arrive, the end. We're left with the assumptions that Blanche gets the help she needs within minutes of losing her life, and that Jane is finally carted off to the funny farm where she seriously belongs. As I stated before, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis hated each other so there was definitely some awful tension going back and forth off camera (which greatly enhanced their performances on camera). A few examples: Joan Crawford was the CEO for Pepsi Cola at the time, therefore Bette Davis had Coca-Cola (Pepsi's biggest rival) machines installed everywhere. There's a scene where Jane is kicking the crap out of Blanche, and they had to use a dummy because Joan Crawford didn't trust Bette Davis to not actually kick her. In a scene where Jane is dragging Blanche out of bed and into the hall, you can tell that Bette Davis is really having a hard time carrying and dragging her, this is due to the fact that Joan Crawford hid heavy weights under her dress so that she would be much heavier when they had to do the scene. I could go on and on, the trivia for this movie is as fascinating as the movie itself. Even director Robert Aldrich was surprised (and relieved) when Bette Davis opted to do her own make-up for the film which is really terrible. He also stated that he would be literally too scared of her to make her look that bad. This truly is a great movie and is now really becoming a true cult classic.