T(ween)-Fest 2010: The Dawn of a New Era*
[*Please ignore at the bottom where it say the article is by "Ken Begg". That's automatic. This piece is all the Rev's.]
Standard Unnecessary Intro
This past weekend, I got to be the part of a first. While I’ve never been to a B-Fest, missed out on NOWFF, and didn’t get into the secret T-Fest club until Part 3(D!), I was a part of the first (and hopefully not last) T(ween)-Fest. It’s like T-Fest, but in March.
We had a slightly smaller crowd than we did at T-Fest ’09, but a few familiar faces made it out. Along with Mr. Begg and Mr. Petersen, we had Kirk and Patty (now known as “Katty” when I somehow managed to mangle their names whilst greeting the latter), Chad, Frank, Guy, and Our Lady of the Cookies Angela (and her guy—regrettably I’m blanking on his name, so feel free to chime in if you know it).
We had newer faces, including some of Sandy’s students, one of his sons (congrats to him and his wife, who are expecting their first child), Katty’s friend Rachel, Katty’s daughter (again blanking on the name), and He with the Billy Jack T-shirt (to be fair, I didn’t forget his name…I just never caught it). He made a big splash with this shirt, which he said he’d gotten free when he ordered one of Laughlin’s book from his site. While the book apparently wasn’t that great, we all agreed that the shirt was well worth the $30 he’d spent.
In a reversal of T-Fest ’09, I made it on time and the guys running the show did not. To compensate for a late start, we had very little in the way of shorts. Along with a few classic Popeye cartoons (from that great DVD collection Warner’s has put out), we got one with a woman describing an acid trip. She and a friend go out while on acid, and she gets a hot dog that proceeds to scream when she tries to eat it. Then it starts talking to her so much that she bites it, but this just makes it scream louder. She ends up throwing it on the sidewalk and stomping on it until it shuts up. Then she and her friend walk away. The end.
To add to the weirdness, when the hot dog’s talking, it’s represented by a troll doll with red hair. The red hair represents the ketchup, see? This made Ken and several others angry, ‘cause, you know, you don’t put ketchup on a hot dog.
I don’t know that Ken should be the one arbitrating wiener dressings,* considering that neon-green sweet relish Chicagoans slather on theirs, but anyway. I don’t know what it’s called or what DVD it was on, but MAN it was weird. (I’m guessing it was on one of Sandy’s, so either he or Ken can enlighten us, I’m sure.)
[Editor Ken: The short was entitled LSD A Case Study, and can be found on the Sex And Drugs (Educational Archives Volume I) DVD. I actually saw this in a drug class in jr. high, and always remembered it. It's also on YouTube.]
We also reduced the movies from eight to seven [due to time constraints]. However, despite this, we ended up with the nastiest line-up of movies I’ve yet seen at one of these things. (I hear murmurs of Chesty Morgan and something called Shredder Orpheus from the first T-Fest, so maybe that was comparable.) We got one pretty good movie, one crazy fun one, and five bad ones, with an unprecedented three films vying for this year’s Excruciator. (I hope Chad doesn’t mind my borrowing that term.)
If this is what we’re to expect when Sandy and Ken are at the helm, we might want to consider asking them to never do so again.
At gunpoint if necessary.
The New Gladiators
In Rome, 2072 A.D., things generally suck and the masses are entertained by a televised, oh, I don’t know…death sport, I guess you could call it. The current champion of the death sport is framed for a couple of murders and is forced to…play in the death sport. He and his rag-tag team of fellow convicts and a plucky young woman who works at the television station must survive and uncover the mysterious conspiracy in the depths of the shadowy realm of the network and do I really need to continue describing this?
Right off the bat, we’ve got one of our three contenders. This was made by Lucio Fulci. It proves that he should’ve stuck to zombie movies. To be fair, though, he’s not helped by the screenwriters, actors, cinematographers, cameramen, effects people…well, everyone, really.
Jared Martin is Drake, our protagonist. I remember him from that “War of the Worlds” TV series that ran in the late ‘80s. I liked him all right in that, although he was no Lt. Col. Ironhorse. Here, though, he mostly just looks bored and confused, which I guess makes him the audience identification figure. He plays in the death sport I mentioned above, which is pretty much X-TREEM!! Motocross, although they spice it up by fueling the bikes with Atomic Gasoline™ and nitroglycerin. This gives them the amusing tendency to explode in a huge fireball when they hit a wall, barricade, speed bump, random pebble, what have you.
The network that owns the show, in an effort to increase ratings, send three goons to kill Drake’s wife/girlfriend/live-in hooker/whatever. For whatever reason, the goons look like they’ve come from an all-gay stage production of A Clockwork Orange. He comes home and supposedly kills the three goons, which makes him a murderer and thus allows them to put him in the death sport. Again. I guess those pesky self-defense and heat of passion rules no longer apply in the future.
This isn’t enough, though, so they turn him over to some jackass dressed like a commissar who’s supposed to “train” them for the big game. This consists of torturing Drake to make him a cold-blooded killer. They act like this is a big deal, but considering he was at least partially responsible for a couple of deaths in the opening sequence, I’m not sure why. Since it doesn’t work, it’s kind of a moot point. Naturally, it was a set-up, and Drake eventually finds out that more goons killed the first goons after someone knocked him unconscious.
So many things wrong here. One of the biggies is the casting of Fred Williamson. I’m sure you’re asking how that could be a problem, and my response is: He’s criminally underused. He’s hardly in the movie, and when he is he mostly growls and looks mean. What the hell? It ends up being cruel, because at first we were all cheering his name, and his first couple of appearances, but eventually you realize he’s got nothing to do and it makes you sad and angry. They should’ve hired a no-name bodybuilder and saved the money to make the movie watchable. I mean that literally.
This movie was full of too-bright lighting which sometimes obliterated the scene, and WAY too many instances of glare on the lens from various headlights and searchlights. This movie set up our theme this year: bad prints and lens flares. My eyes were sore by the end of the night.
Lots of little things are ridiculous. As mentioned, Drake plays the death sport, so why do they have to do this to make him play it again? Why did he keep a laser gun in an easy-draw sheath right in the middle of his living room? (To make it easier to frame him, apparently.) Why are the laser guns in this movie so weak? It takes about ten shots to kill someone with them. Why do all the women (save the lady at Drake’s) have pageboy wigs? If those bracelets the convicts are forced to wear can disintegrate them, why wait until two minutes before the end of the movie to show and tell us this? Why did the bad guy’s satellite blow up at the end, and when it did why was there sound and smoke floating up and debris floating down? (OK, I know the last one there…) Why do the bikes have shields on the front in the shape of butterflies? (Of course, after Kirk pointed out they were iron butterflies, I was cool with them.)
Most of all, what was up with the woman who gets murdered? She wanders a big “futuristic” house for 20 seconds, is stalked and terrorized for 20 seconds, and then dies. If it wasn’t for Drake’s “torturous” flashbacks, we’d never see her again. Are we supposed to care about someone we barely know? Seriously, my description of her above is apt; I never did figure out their exact relationship. For all I know, she was just the maid, but Drake’s mad because she got the toilet so clean and it’ll be too hard to show someone else how to fold the towels just right and who’s going to bring him warm milk to help him sleep now?
Another problem: not enough gladiating. You call your movie The New Gladiators, you’re going to raise certain expectations. Those expectations are not 30 seconds of X-TREEM!! Motocross at the beginning, and then five minutes of mayhem near the end! To be sure, the ULTRA X-TREEM!!! Motocross at the end’s a bit more exciting; its first part is like the clip we saw at the beginning, but now there are fire pits and spiked barricades and piano wire strung up and weapon racks full of sharp things. Decapitations and impalements and explosions abound.
The second part is like a chariot race, with special bikes kitted out with sidecars. The passengers each have a weapon, mostly spears and halberds. On one extreme, there’s a guy with a little knife (!) and on the other is Fred Williamson with a flamethrower (!!). I repeat: FRED WILLIAMSON WITH A FLAMETHROWER. If this had ever happened in real life, we’d all be living under the brutal reign of the NWO (New Williamson Order). Christ, why not just implant rocket launchers on grizzly bears while you’re at it?
There are a couple of small bits that aren’t horrible. The top competition for the death sport is “The Death Game,” or something like that, where people are tortured via VR, and the brief bit we see of it is not bad. (The throat-slitting pretty much pegs it as a Fulci film, for those familiar with his oeuvre.) Even though he barely does anything, “The Hammer” still makes an impression with his screen presence, charisma, and badassness. Despite the goofiness present, the final death sport match is pretty violent and a lot more entertaining than the rest of the movie (not saying much, but you take what you can get). The commissar guy gets impaled and then run over, which got some cheers. That’s really about it, though. Believe me, these crumbs of fun are not NEARLY enough to make watching this movie a worthwhile use of time. I can tolerate a bad movie, but a bad BORING movie? Forget it.
Flowers in the Attic
Ah, yes, the Jabootu classic about a family rife with incest. I don’t think I need to explain the plot, do I? We’ve all read the review, right?
While it’s bad, and ridiculous, and not something I want to watch again…somehow, it didn’t seem as bad as I thought it would be. This could just be in comparison to the competition. Don’t get me wrong; it’s overwrought, full of stuff that’s supposed to be menacing but is just stupid, is creepy and disturbing…but it was rarely dull. I will say, it’s been a while since a movie has skeeved me out so badly. Between the incestual undertones (and overtones) and the leering the camera does at Kristy Swanson, I felt dirty. If you can get past the skeeviness, though, there’s a bit of bad movie fun to be had.
None of the characters are endearing. The little kids are “pwecious” Hollywood constructs who do nothing but engender seething hatred. I really wish both of them had kacked it, although if only one had to go, they picked the right one. I was about weady to wip that widdle bwat’s head off. Has that EVER been cute? I submit it has not. The grandmother’s an EEEEEEVIL Christian—imagine that! I think there’s only one scene where she’s not carrying a Bible, I guess in case we don’t get the point. Door-to-door Bible salesmen don’t carry Bibles around that much. The mom’s a conniving creep, the older kids are milquetoast, the groundskeeper’s an angry murderous drunk…really, I’m not sure who we’re supposed to root for. I guess the butler, who stands around looking creepy and not saying a word. Yeah, he was cool. Good job, Jeeves! Oh, and the mouse. I like the mouse. Why’d they have to kill him? Stupid movie. I’d root for Grandpa Howard Hughes, but he gets in on the incestuous stuff too and I’m not rooting for that.
This had a lot more unintentional comedy than the first movie. The scene with Grandma Jesus Freak picking up the little girl by the head is just as hilarious as I’d heard. The slow-motion destruction of the ballerina statue…also a knee-slapper. The amazingly voluminous house, the “tense” escape scene, the brother managing to find enough books in the attic to make him a doctor and scientist, the “feeding the little brat blood” scene…all funny stuff. Of course, the hilarity highlights are the “horrifying” cutting-of-the-hair scene, and “Eat the cookie!”
Those last two scenes led to hilarity in the room, too. During the former, Kirk advised us to watch for the “Follicle Flasher and the Haircut Horn” to warn us of the gruesome scene to come. That about floored me, as well as the rest of the room. I returned the favor during the latter. For some reason, Kirk started describing how the scene would play out if it was a Schwarzenegger movie, with him ramming the cookies into the mom’s mouth and saying, “EAT DA COOKIE!!” I responded, “Looks like she got her JUST DESSERTS.” Despite it sounding more Wolfcastle than Schwarzenegger, a lot of people found this amusing, especially Kirk. Making our King of Quips laugh…good times.
This is becoming a favorite addition to the Fests down Texas way. Also a source of much heated exchanges and fistfights.
This year, the theme was monsters. While some, like Kirk, are into bad comedies, I’m all about the monsters, so I prepared to retain my geek cred. We got 41 different monster shots, in four categories (You Better Damn Well Know This, You Most Likely Know This, Most People Won’t Know This But You People Probably Will, and Sandy Thought This Was Obscure*), plus a tiebreaker. We needed to name the monster, or the movie it was from. Sandy was stricter on this than he had been last year. Prizes were in the form of a Godzilla book and some videotapes of various bad movies.
*This one is real.
Everyone did well on the first two sections. I got 8 on the third, which was the highest, and Ken and I also tied on the last section at 8 each. He and I both got the tiebreaker, and ended up the overall leaders with 37. Afterwards, Ken shook my hand and told me it had been a well-fought battle, which it had. This was much nicer than last year, when I had to endure a stream of curses and death threats.* Like the Wookie, I guess I should let Begg win, or at least draw. We didn’t do much lamenting over the ones we’d missed, unlike last year. Of course, before falling asleep that night, I silently berated myself for not remembering The Reptile. Then I remembered that I’d actually remembered the critter from The Unnamable and felt better.
[Editor Ken: To be fair, I only cursed and issued death threats last year because he beat me. Sadly, I suspect such death threats are likely to be par for the course. If I couldn't beat him on his quiz, I don't expect to ever do so. Sandy let me in on the probably subject of the next quiz, for instance, and I expect to come in about 25th place.]
From the prize pile, I deliberated over Curse III and The Kiss. I was leaning toward the latter, which I’d remember seeing in video stores growing up, only for it to vanish when I was old enough to rent it. That was when I noticed Venerated Horror Icon Sir Christopher Lee was in the former. Well, that settled that, even though the first two movies in that series were pretty bad. I will rely on the power of Lee to save me from myself.
Little Red Riding Hood Against the Monsters
All the monsters in the Land of Evil are righteously peeved at Little Red Riding Hood and Tom Thumb for turning two of their number, the Ogre and the Furious Wolf, to good and veganism and liberalism and what have you. The Ogre and the Wolf are condemned to be tortured and killed. Meanwhile, the Queen of Badness casts a spell on a nearby village’s water source, making them all turn into monkeys and mice. She then makes an antidote for it, which seems counterproductive. LRRH and TT aren’t down with that and set out to kick some monster ass and get that antidote, with a little assistance from the Aurora Fairy and a whole mess o’ other kids.
Oh man, I love these insane Mexican kiddie movies. I had thought this was one I’d seen years ago on “Reel Wild Cinema”; turns out this is the sequel to that movie (and probably another one that had TT in it), which I really wish I’d known about sooner. There is never a dull moment in a movie like this. Well, maybe during most of the songs, but luckily they knock that crap off about halfway through. Until the very end, anyway.
The monsters…man, what an eclectic collection! There’s the Furious Wolf and the Ogre, of course, the Queen of Badness and her assistant the Worst Witch, Vampiric Coffin Joe, El Monstruo de Frankenstein, and some various critters that never get named. Then it gets strange. There’s a pinhead–toss Torgo and a Conehead into the Brundlefly machine and you’re there; The Child Kidnapper, a creepy guy with a giant sack he crams kids in; back-to-back Siamese twins, one who looks like a chubby Mr. Clean, and the other a black man–or possibly a painted non-black man–in a leopard skin caveman toga (!); a robot (!!); and my favorite, the Hurricane Elf, a balding Mexican sumo wrestler who can suck or blow really hard. He reminds me of the Wind Demon from that one Russo-Finnish movie they had on “MST3K”…The Sword and the Dragon, I think.
The most astounding one is the Queen of Badness, because I don’t know how they avoided lawsuits from Disney. She’s totally Maleficent in a slightly different dress. When she was pleading with the Prince of Darkness for help, I expected that big demon from the “Night on Bald Mountain” sequence in Fantasia to show up, until I remembered the budget for the movie was a couple hundred pesos at best.
The Wolf and the Ogre are the OCRs for this movie, although sometimes they’re actually funny. Generally they’re not, and since they’re main characters we’re stuck with them a lot. Being a kiddie movie there’s a lot of broad comedy, which makes the threats of torture kind of shocking until it turns out to be tickling and making them drink a whole lot of water. I was sure this was leading to a pee joke, since kids like that sort of thing, but instead we just get them spitting water in people’s faces. A lost opportunity, if you ask me.
The kids generally manage to be cute without being cloying, but not always. I will say Stinky the Skunk, the Wolf’s partner, is utterly odious…except for the point where it bends over and sprays the Child Kidnapper with talcum “spray,” at which point I could almost forgive its high-pitched voice and annoying antics.
We don’t expect much in the way of special effects for a movie like this, but that’s part of the charm. The costumes are generally good (the townspeople’s “monkey” make-up is pretty atrocious), the monsters tend toward creepy but not scary, and the sets are imaginative. Of course, the Aurora Fairy’s “wand” is a stick with sparklers glued to it. She likes to wave this close to the kids’ faces, though, so there’s that.
The absolute best effect comes when El Monstruo de Frankenstein attacks the kids, accompanied by a dragon. A dragon done in the tradition of those Chinese dragon costumes you see during Chinese New Year celebrations, except it’s clearly midgets in there. The dragon alone is wonderful (and forget sparklers, we’ve got a dozen or more kids getting jets of flame shot at them!); then you realize it’s midget-powered and it’s pretty much the greatest thing ever, even better than Fred Williamson with a flamethrower, not to mention a lot less terrifying.
I don’t think most people would dig this movie, but if you’ve ever seen Santa Claus and loved it, this is right up your alley. Frankly, anyone who can’t appreciate this movie has obviously lost their inner child, and I can only pity them. MIDGET-POWERED DRAGON SHOOTING FIRE AT KIDS, people. I don’t know what else to tell you.
This year’s chosen destination was the Purple Cow, a burger joint with a diner-type vibe. After some shuffling of tables, we were all set. I chatted with Kirk, Patty, Ken and Sandy over tasty burgers (mine had pepperjack cheese, jalapenos, salsa and chipotle mayo…spicy!) and an “adult” milkshake. This meant dumping booze into it. Ice cream and alcohol…I failed to see how that could be anything but fantastic, and sure enough, it was. Pretty good breaded mushrooms too; the breading stayed right where it should instead of coming off in the first bite.
Fortified, we returned for more cinematic pain…
…although in this case, the pain was minimal.
In this particular world of the future, beauty is king and the crippled, ugly, and “different” are rejected. The guerilla force Accion Mutante wreaks havoc, attacking symbols of this shallow culture, such as beauty pageants and plastic surgeons. Well, they did when Ramon was leading them. He went to jail for a few years, and now the leaderless group is more or less a joke. Luckily for them, Ramon is released and returns to lead them in the kidnapping of a health food magnate’s daughter on her wedding day. Despite his bumbling crew, Ramon pulls it off and the group escapes in their spaceship / headquarters to a distant planet, there to collect their ransom. However, one by one Accion Mutante are murdered by a traitor in their midst…
We didn’t get one of Sandy’s crazy-ass Asian movies, but this served well enough. For the most part, it’s a funny, violent, madcap romp. I mean that in a good way. AM’s opening caper is an attempted kidnapping, wherein they put a plastic bag over their victim’s head to shut him up…and then while they argue about their next course of action, the guy suffocates. We find out, via news reports, what kind of world this is and what the “imperfect” members of AM are up to. With the release of Ramon, they quickly fall back into line. Despite some mishaps that result in the deaths of two members of AM, the rest manage to escape with their quarry. Not long after take-off, though, it turns out Ramon is apparently tired of dealing with his followers.
The news reports a much higher ransom than Ramon told his fellows, though he manages to fast-talk his way out of trouble when questioned on it. Ramon moves quickly, dumping one of his partners into the maw of the “cat,” a ravenous, hideous alien (?) beastie that, for no discernible reason I can think of, they keep in a pit in the floor of the ship’s bridge. Ramon manages to make it look like he’s trying to save the poor sap, and announces the presence of a traitor.
He also manages to set off the explosives that another member wears on his torso (again, for no reason I can think of). Finally, he makes his move on the last two, who happen to be Siamese twins. One wakes up to find his brother with a meat cleaver in his forehead. Why Ramon didn’t kill them both, or why the one didn’t wake up when the other was murdered, I couldn’t tell you. Despite having to drag his brother’s body around, he manages to get a gun and wound Ramon.
Before he can finish Ramon off, though, the ship crashes into the planet they were heading for. The brake lines, which were established to have trouble, get shot, and that’s why they crash. No, I don’t know how that works either. Believe me, though, the movie’s fun enough that you don’t really care until later when you think about it.
The Siamese twin’s left for dead, and Ramon drags his prisoner off. She ends up falling for him, leading him to cry, “Not the Stockholm Syndrome! Not again!” He drags her off, unaware the other twin’s still alive, and still gunning for him.
I don’t want to spoil the rest, because I encourage you to seek this out. The climax is full of violence and humor, and is quite fun. The first 20 minutes or so, with our glimpses of this future and the nonstop insanity of the wedding party attack, are definitely the best parts.
There are a few bits in the middle section that are pretty tasteless. The victim takes a LOT of abuse in this, most of it a bit squirm-inducing. She starts off getting her lips stapled together to keep her quiet, and later has them ripped out by Ramon. Ramon tends to punch her when she talks too much, and even drags her around by her hair at one point. The worst comes when they come across a family of intergalactic rednecks who end up gang-raping her (at least we don’t see it). It’s kind of a shock, because most of the movie, while just as violent and tasteless, has a sense of cheerful excess and is hard to take seriously.
I even liked the music, which tended toward hard rock and metal. The theme song, which sounds like Rabia Contra la Maquina*, is pretty infectious, and would make a good driving song. I think the cops would understand if you were pulled over for speeding while listening to it. I take no responsibility if you try this.
*No, I probably didn’t write that correctly. Shut up.
Still, overall this movie is very entertaining. If you liked Peter Jackson’s earlier movies, you will probably like this. It’s got a similar vibe to it, and while it may not be as polished or over-the-top as his, you should still have a good time with it. I know we did.
Test Tube Babies
A couple gets married and goes to parties full of booze and swinging. Eventually they decide their lives are kind of empty, and they can only fill that hole with a baby. Too bad the guy’s impotent. What can they do?? It’s science to the rescue! The couple end up with the culturally-mandated 2.5 children and everything’s hunky-dory.
The title’s a bit misleading, since they talk about artificial insemination, rather than actually growing kids in a test tube. (I think. I admit to being a bit too bored to care by that point.) Mostly this is an excuse to present some women in various states of undress for various reasons and give it the veneer of being educational.
I suppose it is, but most of it’s about the domestic issues of our two main characters, and a large part of the film is given to a party full of drunken people fooling around with each other, regardless of what their spouse thinks. I have to admit, the women are good-looking enough to make their various little outfits (and occasional states of undress—granted, almost always seen from the back) something to look forward to. Granted, this means straight women and gay men are mostly going to be bored senseless…
The acting’s meh, the story’s dull, it’s long and meandering…really, the women are the only thing to awaken any interest at all. Two of them get in a catfight at the party, and it’s a pretty good one by the standards of such things. The wife has a habit of running around the home in tiny little outfits (for the time, anyway) which is appreciated. Seriously, though, that’s about it.
I find it amusing that the cure to the guy’s stress is going to be having kids. Yeah, no stress at all from kids. Maybe he can have his mother-in-law come move in with him while he’s at it.
I think the doctor was those kids’ daddy, frankly.
There is one thing that’s a hoot, though. No, not the drunken comic relief guy. What the hell are you talking about? Is he EVER funny? I’m talking about the scene where the husband comes home, stressed about work, and the wife goes and changes into a somewhat see-through black nightgown and comes sliding up to him with one thing very obviously on her mind. The hilarity comes from his reaction, in which he barely bats an eye, continues to complain, and only eventually comes around to what his wife’s hinting at when she all but tosses herself into his lap and start grinding away.
This is possibly the most unrealistic thing I’ve ever seen in a movie, and I once saw a man plug a TV into a cute Japanese girl’s navel before proceeding to drag a foot-high sushi chef from said TV’s rectum. No man could possibly take that long to realize what’s up. I don’t care how tired or stressed he is about his job—his wife comes out of the bedroom in something sexy and slinks her way towards him, she’s gonna be on the living room floor or over his shoulder being carted toward the bedroom before she can finish saying, “How do you like my new outfit?” Hell, he could be on fire, and in between screaming and stopping, dropping and rolling, he’d take a moment to think, “Oh boy I’m getting laid tonight!” before returning to his agonized attempts to smother the flames. I know this was made decades ago, but I doubt anyone bought it then either.
The Wizard of Gore
A wizard brings up a series of women in hideous ‘70s fashions to participate in his stage shows. The wizard seemingly kills them in horrible ways, only for it to be revealed as an illusion…until the women drop dead hours later, sporting the same wounds they received on stage. The police are confused, as is the audience. The audience is also bored.
Ah, HGL. Sandy’s been beating the tar out of him around these parts lately. This is the fourth of his movies I’ve seen, and so far, except for 2,000 Maniacs!, he pretty much deserves it.
Read that little synopsis above. That could be a damn interesting movie. Unfortunately HGL made it, so the potential was DOA. In fact, this movie was Contender #2 for the day. I made the mistake of thinking this movie would have a plot or a point or something. Silly me! I was so young and naïve back then. Don’t fall into that trap, because your brain’s going to be very angry at you by the end of the movie. Just try and enjoy the hideous fashions and the gore, because that is ALL that this movie has going for it. Well, that and any fun you can make for it. We ended up shouting “MONTAG!!” fairly regularly whenever he showed up or did something “scary” or “mysterious.” We were desperate, I tells ya.
The gore is actually not terrible for HGL, although it does tend to be repetitive. You can only watch MONTAG~! play with guts so many times before it’s just kind of dull. I tried to liven it up by identifying different organs but that only worked for so long. We do get the patented HGL “playing with a sheep eye” scene, guaranteed to make Ms. Kingsley squirm and turn away should she ever bother with this movie. Although only women get massacred, the movie somehow doesn’t manage to hit the depths of misogyny that The Gore Gore Girls did, and for that I am very grateful.
The cops aren’t quite as useless as they are in other HGL movies, despite there never really doing anything useful. I guess that’s better than nothing.
OK, yeah, I’m stretching at this point. Time for the bad stuff.
The story is threadbare, and then makes a sharp turn into incomprehensibility near the end. Things happen that are never explained. While it gave me the chance to make Phantasm jokes, MONTAG~!’s habit of digging up the bodies, carting them to some building near the graveyard, and dumping them into a small ground-level window while everything’s filmed through a red filter, is NEVER explained. I’m not even sure anyone ever mentioned it.
The ending, like I said, is stupidly nonsensical, and don’t even THINK you’re getting any kind of explanation for why MONTAG~! is doing this, or how he’s killing them hours later, or anything important like that. The acting’s terrible, although I have to say MONTAG~! is the worst, simply because he’s the lead and man he’s not at all convincing or enthralling. I was more interested in the scenes where they forgot to paint his hair gray.
HGL definitely made worse, but this is still pretty painful.
The Sea Serpent
This year’s Mystics in Bali. *sigh* [Ken: He means the DVDr wouldn't play. Yeah, it sucked. I had been saving the best movie for last.]
The Beast of Yucca Flats
Another Jabootu Special. Tor Johnson is a scientist *snort* who is turned into…well, Tor in raggedy clothing…by a nuclear blast. He kills a woman or two and menaces some kids before getting shot down by the police. Tor pets an adorable little jackrabbit that hops up to him just before he expires. The end.
Our final contender, this one is at least mercifully short. The opening sequence, wherein Tor’s character supposedly enters a house to kill and post-mortemly molest a woman, is very obviously something that was filmed and added in later, even before you see that the movie entirely takes place in the high chaparral. I can only guess they put it in there for some action and cheesecake. The implications of what Tor’s doing, though, are very tasteless.
Actually, there’s no implications here; they make sure you know damn well what is going on, in a manner surprisingly graphic for the time, and in comparison to the movie that follows. I want to find the person that decided to have this opening scene filmed and added so I can shake their hand. Then, while they’re distracted, I can proceed to punch them in the face.
The rest of the movie’s harmless, stupid, boring…well, “fun” is probably not the word, but anyway. The voiceover narration is shamelessly used to explain and advance the plot, because otherwise we’d just have scenes of people flying light aircraft (In a Coleman Francis film? No way!) and standing or wandering around the desert. (Thanks to Ken’s review, I know why the narration thing was done, but that doesn’t make it any better.)
The narration is ridiculously pompous, which is kind of fun. Still, you wouldn’t think an hour could go so slowly. Barely anything happens in the whole movie of any import. The only interest I had in the movie came with the arrival of the little hare. Awww, bunny!
Ummm…that’s about it, really. I have no more to say on this one.
I can hear your disappointment from here.
The Final Analysis
Well, looking at our three contenders, to me it’s not too hard to pick a winner for worst. Beast is boring and stupid, but its shortness is a saving grace. Well, that and Tor. Wizard is pretty bad, but on the HGL scale, he’s done much worse. It’s stupid, but it’s not as boring, and there are some things to laugh at. That leaves us with Gladiators, which I think was the longest of the three (and if not, it sure felt it), was definitely the hardest to watch with all the lighting issues, wasted the potential it had, and was just as boring as Beast.
So, congratulations to The New Gladiators, the winner of the inaugural Tween-Fest’s Worst Movie of the Fest award!
Some may disagree; I know a couple of the lady folk hated Test Tube Babies. This makes sense, since most of the parts I liked wouldn’t really appeal to them. Still, I stand by my choice.
As always, my thanks to those who were a part of Tween-Fest.
Thanks (and threats of retribution) to Ken and Sandy, for putting this on for everyone.
Thanks to my movie buddies, the Katty Crew, and the gentleman who came in late; I didn’t catch a name, and I’ve never seen you before, but you read the site, so you know who you are!
Thanks to everyone else who added in their own way to make this a great day.
Well wishes to Lawyer Chris, GalaxyJane, Dr. Freex, and anyone else who couldn’t make it out; I hope we get to see you this summer!
And to the readers: thanks for honoring my words with your attention!
The Rev. D.D.