Archive for the Mutants! Category

Scoring Horror: Interview with MARCO BELTRAMI (Part 2 of 2)

Posted in 2013, Action Movies, Barry Dejasu Columns, Based on Comic Book, Marvel Comics, Movie Music, Music for Film, Mutants!, Scoring Horror, Soundtracks with tags , , , , on July 3, 2013 by knifefighter

Scoring Horror Presents:
An Interview with MARCO BELTRAMI
By Barry Lee Dejasu
(Part 2 of 2)

Composer Marco Beltrami

Composer Marco Beltrami

Part Two: THE WOLVERINE

 TheWolverinePoster

Directed by James Mangold (with whom Mr. Beltrami worked on 3:10 TO YUMA), THE WOLVERINE stars Hugh Jackman as the eponymous character, a metal-clawed (and indestructible) mutant of the X-MEN franchise, left wandering the world alone in the wake of the events of X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006).  Logan’s travels take him to Japan—where his own mysterious past comes back to haunt him in ways that could challenge his whole future.

BLD: Superman, Indiana Jones, and many other staple cinematic heroes have a central musical theme—something to identify them with as soon as it’s heard.  How did you approach the character of Wolverine, in these regards?

MB:  THE WOLVERINE is a very unique take on the superhero movie.  In that respect, it’s a very stylized picture.  Most of it takes place in Japan, and there’s a little bit of a mystery to it, almost a noir-ish mystery to it; the character Wolverine is a bit of a loner.  Having said that, there is a sound and melodic structure and harmonic structure that is used for him, but it’s not like a Superman type of theme; it’s much more reserved.  I used early on when you see him, in the woods, (a) harmonica.  The harmonica has a fairly strong thread throughout the score, as Wolverine’s sound.  Sometimes it’s processed and treated, other times it’s fairly straight, but it seems to work well for him, and it goes well with the harmonic structure that’s used for him.

Hugh Jackman as Logan, AKA Wolverine.

Hugh Jackman as Logan, AKA Wolverine.

BLD: The fact that the movie is set in Japan immediately puts into mind, of many a typical American moviegoer, images of exotic locale and culture.

MB:  Things that we consciously avoided, musically.  I think the last thing that Jim (James Mangold) and I wanted to do was Japanese music associated with Japanese places.  There’s a reference; I do use Japanese instruments, (but) not really in a traditional way; koto is used, but as a percussion instrument.

Koto, a Japanese instrument used in the score.

Koto, a Japanese instrument used in the score.

There’s Japanese flute stuff, but it’s treated in more of a Western way; it’s not really based on any pentatonic scales.  There’s echo tunnel drumming that takes place in there, but often times it’s processed, and different effects are put on it; so it’s nothing really traditionally Japanese as part of the score.

BLD: How was it to work on this (particularly unique) superhero movie?

MB:  It was really refreshing.  It really went smooth.  Jim was really into the stuff; he’s very musical, and had really interesting comments and ideas that would spur me, creatively, in different ways.  It was a lot of fun.  Again, it was a short schedule; we started on it…it doesn’t seem that long ago, but it was sort of fast, and there was a lot of music in it.  It goes off in a lot of different directions.  The ride goes from the woods of the Pacific Northwest to part of urban Japan.  It’s a really fun movie to watch.

***

Part Three: In Closing

BLD: In what portion of a movie’s production do you usually come aboard?

MB:  It’s different in every project.  This, THE WOLVERINE, was all shot except for a couple of pickup shots, and I had a full edit.  The next movie I’m doing, which is called THE HOMESMAN, a Tommy Lee Jones project, they’re just finishing shooting right now, and we’ll start talking about stuff (in the) next week.  It can be early in the process, which I like, because it gives time to think about a new way to approach things.  There’s a certain time factor; if you rush what you’re doing in too short a time, it can handicap the process of exploration.  Coming on a little bit earlier is a bit better.  Although, having said that, I don’t like working from scripts; if someone sends me a script, I usually don’t start working right away, because it’s really deceiving.  I’ve tried that in the past, and stuff that I’d come up with invariably (had) nothing to do with the movie that was shot.  It changes dramatically.

BLD: What particular (or non-particular) movies would you most want to work on, if you had the opportunity?

MB:  The movies most influential to me are probably the (ones) scored by Bernard Hermann—you know, the Hitchcock stuff; the spaghetti westerns (scored by Ennio) Morricone, and the Fellini movies by Nino Rota.  And to some extent, I’ve been able to do some Western stuff, which I really enjoy doing.  Just…the way Morricone was able to make non-orchestral sounds part of the score, that really inspired me.  Similarly, the Rota scores, the music doesn’t take itself seriously, and it skipped genres, and plays with a lot of different colors.  There are some I haven’t done much of yet, but are something that would be very appealing to me.  They don’t make movies like that now, but if there were, I think that’s what I’d be most excited about.

BLD: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

MB:  You know, maybe, I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to work in a variety of genres, and I’ve had a lot of fun exploring musically.  The worst thing to me would be to keep repeating things over and over, and (to) repeat the work of other people.  To explore other areas is what I find interesting about film scoring, and I hope that I can continue to be able to do so.

THE WOLVERINE opens on July 26th.

© Copyright 2013 by Barry Lee Dejasu

Transmissions to Earth: THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN (1977)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 2013, 70s Horror, B-Movies, Bad Situations, Disease!, Horror, LL Soares Reviews, Low Budget Movies, Monsters, Mutants!, Science Fiction, Trasmissions to Earth, Unfortunate Astronauts with tags , , , , , , , on June 13, 2013 by knifefighter

TRANSMISSIONS TO EARTH Presents:

zontar6

THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN (1977)
Review by L.L. Soares

Incredible Melting Man (1977)In this business I come upon a lot of bad movies. But what makes them “so bad they’re good” or just plain bad? Sometimes it’s pretty easy to answer that.

But I’m still not sure which one THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN (1977)  is.

Sure it has some funny aspects about it. But it’s also pretty much a waste of time, and has a storyline so thin, it could slip between your fingers.

It’s actually amazing that this one was made in 1977. It has the look and feel of a bad 1950s sci-fi film.

As we begin, three astronauts are passing through the rings of Saturn! Pretty cool. This must be in the far future, right? Well, not really, when we get back to Earth, it still looks an awful lot like 1977. Who knew we’d perfect faster-than- light interplanetary space travel so quickly?

As they pass through the rings, something goes wrong. This is when we see stock footage of sunspots close up, in negative. It’s supposed to be the astronauts “seeing the sun through the rings of Saturn,” and they’ll use it a few more times in the movie.  Two of the astronauts die soon after. The third one, Steve West (Alex Rebar) survives, but is horribly disfigured.

We have no clue how he gets back to Earth, but he does, and it’s kept under wraps (how do you keep the return of an astronaut secret, anyway?). Astronaut West is also “under wraps” literally as he’s wrapped up in bandages. When we see him after his return home, he’s bandaged and strapped to a bed in an undisclosed hospital. All of a sudden he just gets up, breaks the straps, and runs away, chasing an overweight nurse through the hallways.

Suddenly, Steve West is on the loose. But he’s not the same guy anymore. Now he’s the INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, whose skin is constantly oozing off his body. His face looks like a skull covered with dripping wax. Oh, and he’s radioactive! So you don’t want him to touch you. He goes around killing people, and we’re told he needs new cells to survive, but it’s not clear how he gets those cells. Is he eating people or what? One guy has his head torn off and thrown into a waterfall, another person is ripped apart – if Steve is eating people for their cells, then he sure does love to play with his food!. We never actually know what’s he’s doing to his victims, but they end up a bloody mess.

Meanwhile, everywhere he goes, he leaves dripping oozy flesh in his wake. You would think someone like this would be easy to track down, but no way! Doctor Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning) is ordered to go find Steve and bring him back to the army hospital by General Michael Perry (Myron Healey), but Nelson spends most of the time goofing off. At one point he’s home making a sandwich for his wife. Pretty awful tracking job, Dr. Nelson! He tells his associate Dr. Loring (Lisle Wilson) that his wife has had three miscarriages about this same stage in her pregnancy and she’s nervous something will go wrong again. This is about the time Nelson realizes that Steve West, who he is supposed to recapture for the government, is radioactive, and he’s worried that this might affect his wife (one of the few real dramatic aspects of the script, although it’s soon forgotten). Maybe that’s why he doesn’t seem to try very hard to find West.

Incredible-Melting-Man-LC-2-kleinWhen Dr. Nelson has no luck finding West, General Perry comes to town, demanding results. Meanwhile, the monster who used to be Steve West continues on his rampage until there’s a big showdown in some kind of power plant.

There’s not much of a plot, as you can tell. It basically amounts to 1) man comes back from space as some kind of monster, 2) government guys try to track him down when he goes on a killing spree, and 3) big showdown where the monster is killed.  Pretty-by-the numbers, and not very compelling.

The acting is so-so for the most part, but no one stands out here as a Shakespearean actor! Burr DeBenning (also in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: DREAM CHILD, 1989, and lots of TV shows like MATLOCK and FALCOLN CREST), as Dr. Ted Nelson, seems to love standing around, wasting time, and I’m not sure if he’s supposed to be funny, but he is. He comes off as completely incompetent. Myron Healey is convincing as General Perry, in a “TV general” kind of way. Healey had a long career as a cowboy or a military man in the movies and on TV, and was actually in tons of westerns in the 1950s and 60s, as well as such other horror/sci-fi classics as VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE (1962) and THE UNEARTHLY (1957) , and the TV-movie V (1983), and was also Colonel Wright in one of the best episodes of KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER, “Mr. R.I.N.G.” (from 1975). Local Sheriff Neil Blake (Michael Alldredge, who was also in THE ENTITY, 1982, and V, 1983) is okay as the frustrated cop who wants answers – that the government just isn’t giving him. Ann Sweeny is likable enough as Ted Nelson’s wife, Judy, and Alex Rebar is serviceable as Steve West/the Melting Man, since all he has to do is put on crazy makeup and run around causing trouble.

There’s also a great (but short) scene where a photographer tries to coerce a model to take off her top on the beach, until the monster shows up. The model is played by genre legend Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith. Future movie director Jonathan Demme also has a cameo as a character named Matt Winters, another one of the monster’s victims.

Probably the biggest star in this one is the makeup artist, the legendary Rick Baker, in one of his earlier jobs. The Melting Man is not one of his best creations, but it certainly looks too good for this movie! It’s amazing what Baker would do with a bigger budget and real equipment (see AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, just four years later in 1981).

Rick Baker's makeup effects for the monster might be the ONLY reason to see THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN!

Rick Baker’s makeup effects for the monster might be the ONLY reason to see THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN!

Star Alex Rebar (the Melting Man) had roles on TV shows like THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS and MURDER, SHE WROTE. He was also one of the (9!) writers of the Italian exorcism classic, BEYOND THE DOOR (1974), and his first acting job was in a movie called MICROSCOPIC LIQUID SUBWAY TO OBLIVION (1970), which I would love to see, just for the title alone.

Director William Sachs also gave us GALAXINA (1980)  and SPOOKY HOUSE (2002).

Not bad enough to be good, and not good at all, THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN is for fans of bad cinema only- who don’t mind wasting 90 minutes of their lives – or Rick Baker completists.

© Copyright 2013 by L.L. Soares

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou: SHE DEVIL (1957)

Posted in 1950s Sci-Fi Films, 2013, 50s Horror, Bill's Bizarre Bijou, Femme Fatales, Insect Horror, Lost Films, Mad Doctors!, Mutants! with tags , , , , , , , on April 11, 2013 by knifefighter

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou

William D. Carl

This week’s feature presentation:

SHE DEVIL (1957)

shedevilposter

Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made.  If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it.   Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open.  Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.

Kurt Neumann is the well-known director of one of the greatest mad scientist/monster movies of all time, THE FLY (1958).  We’ve all seen it, and we’ve all quoted the infamous “Help meeee!” line in a falsetto voice.  Neumann, however, was quite a prolific filmmaker, with many terrific little movies under his belt, including KRONOS (1957), CARNIVAL STORY (1954), ROCKETSHIP X-M (1950), and numerous Tarzan titles.  Yet, everyone remembers him for his creation of a bulbous, fly-headed human.  Far less known, is Kurt Neumann’s other insect/mad scientist horror movie, SHE DEVIL (1957), which he also wrote.  No, this isn’t the Rosanne atrocity, but a full-blooded, low-budget shocker that surely freaked out the drive-in crowds.

The film opens in glorious black and white – A Regal Film (a company that went bust just after the release of SHE DEVIL, which explains the obscurity of the title…also, the movie was shot in Cinemascope, and most theaters weren’t able to handle the technology).  We see a view through a microscope of an obviously hand-drawn fruitfly, which is what Dr. Scott (Jack Kelly of CULT OF THE COBRA, 1955 and FORBIDDEN PLANET, 1956,) is looking at when he gets a visit from his colleague, Dr. Bach, played by stalwart character actor Albert Dekker (who was in THE KILLERS,1946, THE FURIES, 1950, EAST OF EDEN, 1955 and THE WILD BUNCH, 1969, but who is probably best known to genre fans for his portrayal of DR. CYCLOPS, 1940,).  They discuss Scott’s new research, in which he is using the invulnerability of the fruitfly, which can heal itself through adaptation to its environment.  Since fruitflies are the most adaptive of all insects and produce the most neutons (?), he creates a serum that has worked wonders on lab animals.  “These guinea pigs were tubercular, and the serum cured them in three days!”  His leopard turns from spotted to black after taking the drug, and it grows very aggressive (uh-oh!).  He needs a human test subject, but, darn it, nobody wants to volunteer to ingest the serum during their final days.

Enter gorgeous Kyra Zelas, a dying woman in the final stages of tuberculosis, played by the lovely Mari Blanchard (ABBOT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS, 1953 and DESTRY, 1954).  She has no relatives or friends or money, and no hope of surviving.  The perfect subject for Scott’s serum!  They inject her, and in just six hours, she is doing much better.  In another day, she is fully recovered and admiring herself in a mirror.  Her hair was never so lustrous!  Dr. Scott starts to fall for Kyra, even after he can barely get a needle through her newly-strengthened skin.  Luckily, it seems it has also given her a Max Factor makeover that is permanently beautifying her face.

Dr. Bach (Albert Dekker) operates on Kyra.

Dr. Bach (Albert Dekker) operates on Kyra.

Dr. Scott decides she should be kept under observation in case there are any side effects, so when she is released, she will be living with the good doctor so he can, ahem, keep an eye on her.  When she heads to his house, she informs the men that “From now on, I’m going to do only what I want…everything I want.  I’m going to get everything I can out of life.  Everything I always wanted.”  She starts by going to an expensive boutique where she observes a sugar daddy buying stuff for his woman and flashing a lot of cash around.  She grabs the money, bashes the man over the head with an ashtray, and heads for a dressing room.  By shaking her hair out, shampoo-commercial style, she changes from brunette to blond, a really cool special effect for the time.  After changing into another dress, she fools everyone, even the police, and uses the stolen money to buy a new wardrobe.

Dr. Scott is easily fooled by the beauty, but Dr. Bach sees her for the conniving little tramp she is.  He discovers she hasn’t dyed her hair blonde; she is mutating!  His warnings fall on deaf ears as Scott throws a sort of coming out party for her.  This is where she meets insanely wealthy no-goodnik Barton Kendell (John Archer of DESTINATION MOON, 1950 and BLUE HAWAII, 1961) and his shrewish wife Evelyn (Fay Baker of NOTORIOUS, 1946 and THE STAR, 1952).  “Now, Evelyn, you know we never quarrel till our third drink.”

Barton flirts shamelessly with Kyra, who encourages his attentions, but when Evelyn says she wants to leave the party, Kyra does her head-shake again, turning her blond hair brown (there’s a Crystal Gayle song in there somewhere.)  Then, she kills Evelyn in the garden by using her super-strength to strangle the older woman.  She’s spotted, but everyone is looking for a brunette, and she’s reverted back to blond again!

Scott and Bach decide to create an anti-serum in case Kyra gets out of hand.  They are too late, however, and she’s had a taste of freedom.  She allows the black leopard in the lab to claw her, and the bloody wound heals in seconds.  She can’t be injured, no matter how badly she is attacked.  They try to drug her, but she wakes up and threatens them before departing for richer shores.

She marries the smitten millionaire Barton Kendell, but she grows bored with him quickly and their marriage turns sour.  “Stop pawing me!” she cries out.  On a drive, she spins the car’s wheel, sending the car over the cliff with Barton and herself inside.  “Stop it, Kyra, you’ll kill us!”  “Not US, Bart.  Not US!” (The car crash footage is from a Robert Mitchum movie, ANGEL FACE, 1952).  At the bottom of the cliff, she emerges unscathed from the wreckage and walks back to Dr. Scott, who welcomes her with open arms, even though he knows how evil she is!

She devil Kyra meets the leopard.

Blonde she-devil Kyra meets the leopard.

Will Dr. Bach convince Scott of what a monster Kyra has become?  Will she succeed in taking out Bach and living with the man who loves her?  Can they operate on her to restore Kyra to normalcy (in other words, not a murderous, thieving witch with fabulous hair)?

SHE DEVIL is loaded with bitchy, fun dialogue (“I’m not creating a scene.  You are.”  “Oh yeah?  I’m not the one necking with this trollop!”  SLAP!  “You don’t want a divorce; you might actually have to marry one of your girls.”).  Sometimes, the script gets a bit too talky for its own good, but when the words coming out of the characters’ mouths are so tasty, who cares?  The crisp cinematography is by the great Karl Struss, who worked on SUNRISE (1927), Chaplin’s THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940), and ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932), before moving on to trashy greats like THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE (1959) and Neumann’s own THE FLY.  The acting is fine, if a bit over the top, with Mari Blanchard standing out as the murderous, monstrous, indestructible femme fatale.  She gyrates and whispers and is sex personified.  Plus, that hair trick is awfully cool.

On a side-note, co-star Albert Dekker, the star of so many terrific, Oscar-nominated films, is also the victim in one of Hollywood’s most notorious death scenes.  In May of 1968, he was discovered on his knees, dead in a bathtub with a noose around his neck, hand-cuffed, a ball gag in his mouth, blindfolded, with sexual words written on his body in lipstick!  The coroner declared the death was “accidental”, and he was cremated.  Today, he is remembered more for his sexually kinky death than his body of work, and that’s a sad thing.  We at Bill’s Bizarre Bijou loved the guy’s over the top performance in SHE DEVIL, as well as his nuanced portrayals in other, more mainstream films.

Kyra as a brunette.

Kyra as a brunette.

SHE DEVIL is a fun sci-fi/horror hybrid with an unforgettable female lead and more than a few memorable moments.  Plus, Olive Films has released a stunning Blu-Ray of the film which looks absolutely beautiful.

I give SHE DEVIL three fruitflies out of four.

© Copyright 2013 by William D. Carl

Cinema Knife Fight/New Filmmakers Edition: CELL COUNT (2012)

Posted in 2013, Body Horror, Cinema Knife Fights, Conspiracy Theories, Disease!, Indie Horror, Mad Doctors!, Mutants!, New Filmmmakers, Science Fiction with tags , , , , , , on March 25, 2013 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT.NEW FILMMAKERS EDITION
CELL COUNT (2012) Directed by TODD E. FREEMAN
Review by Michael Arruda & L.L. Soares

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(THE SCENE: A lab, almost prison-like, with plain gray walls, and security doors and cameras all around.  Several “patients” sit around a table.  The security door buzzes open and MICHAEL ARRUDA & L.L. SOARES enter wearing lab coats.)

L.L. SOARES:  Welcome everyone to a special edition of CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT.  Today we bring you the latest installment in our “Up-and-Coming Filmmaker” series, where we review movies by new directors who are trying to make a name for themselves.

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  So today we are reviewing CELL COUNT (2012) by writer/director Todd E. Freeman.

But let me say first, that our good friend, best-selling author Rick Hautala passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, and both out of respect for Rick and his family, and out of genuine grief, I’m not much in the mood for joking today.  I almost prefer a straight review.

LS: I agree that it was sad news, but knowing Rick, I don’t think he’d want us to tone down the column on his account.

MA:  True.  For me, it’s more that I’m not in a joking mood this weekend, but I don’t see why we couldn’t throw in a few jokes here and there, I guess.

Anyway, let’s get things started.  CELL COUNT  is—.

PATIENT #1:  Excuse me?  What are we doing here exactly?

LS:  You’re our audience.

PATIENT #1:  We didn’t sign up for this.  We’re supposed to be—.

(LS suddenly Tasers the guy, who falls to the floor, writhing in pain.)

LS:  You’re also the comic relief.  Anyone else have any questions?

(Other patients shake their heads.)

LS:  Good. Let’s continue.

MA:  So much for toning things down.

As I was saying, CELL COUNT is a science fiction horror movie about a group of people subjected to one very weird and unsettling medical experiment.

The film opens with Russell Carpenter (Robert McKeehen) comforting his dying wife Sadie (Haley Talbot) in a hospital.  It’s clear that these two are very much in love. Russell is informed by Dr. Victor Brandt (Christopher Toyne) that his wife is going to die in no uncertain terms, unless…and then he makes Russell an offer.  He tells Russell that he’s involved with a special study that is seeking test subjects like his wife in order to treat this deadly disease.  He tells Russell that he can guarantee his wife will be cured. But Russell will have to be part of the experiment as well if he wants to come with her.

I guess Russell never heard “if it sounds too good to be true, it really isn’t” because he agrees…

LS: Of course he agrees! He doesn’t want to lose his wife.

MA: … and he and Sadie find themselves inside a weird prison-like facility with other “patients.”  All of them have small incisions in their chests, where Dr. Brandt supposedly implanted the powerful viral cure into their bodies.  In addition to these patients, there are also two “special” patients housed in a secure part of the building—two convicted criminals who are highly dangerous.

Cell-Count-2012-Todd-Freeman-movie-3When the group begins to suffer from weird side effects, they begin to suspect that something is wrong, and they discover that Dr. Brandt’s vision of a cure isn’t quite what they expected.  They’ve been implanted with a strange worm-like creature that burrows out of their mouths at will, and does some other things as well, like one wrapping itself around its victim’s face, forming a mask that resembles an alien in a bad science fiction movie.

LS: I actually thought the “mask face” thing looked pretty cool.

MA: I liked the idea of the “mask face” but I didn’t think it looked good.  It looked like Dumb Donald from FAT ALBERT.

So, it’s up to Russell and Sadie to lead their fellow patients out of Dr. Brandt’s high security lab, while trying to defeat the monstrous “cure” that they now have inside their bodies, a cure put there so it can literally eat the disease. The trouble is it devours other things as well.

(Patient #1 keels over onto the floor, and a large worm-like creature oozes out of his mouth.  LS Tasers the worm creature and then stabs it with a giant fork.  He carries it across the lab and deposits it into a huge pot.)

LS:  Gotta let this simmer.

PATIENT:  I’m cured!  I’m cured!  Thank you for curing me!

LS:  Keep your shirt on.  You’re not cured yet.

PATIENT: I’m not?

LS:  Not until after you’ve had my soup.

MA:  If you survive his soup, (Points to large pot on stove.) you’re cured.

PATIENT:  Couldn’t I just take a pill instead?

LS:  And skip my all-natural worm soup du jour?  No way, buddy.  Soup for everyone!

(There is a collective groan.)

MA: I hear it tastes like chicken.

Anyway, CELL COUNT succeeded in drawing me in initially.  I liked the opening scene where Russell comforts his wife, and then listens as Dr. Brandt entices him with his offer to cure her.  Anyone who’s had to deal with very sick loved ones can attest to the temptation of doing whatever it takes to cure that person, no matter how unconventional the method may seem.  So I bought this set-up.

LS: Yeah, I got hooked early on, too. While I don’t think they ever actually say it’s cancer during the course of the movie (they just say “the disease”), it seems pretty obvious that’s what is going on here. And it would make sense that people would do just about anything to avoid the inevitable.

MA: I liked the acting performances, even if they weren’t as polished as you might find in a mainstream movie.  I enjoyed Robert McKeehen in the lead role as Russell Carpenter.  He made for a believable hero, and I bought that he’d go the extreme route to save his wife.  Admittedly, there were a few scenes where his performance was uneven—the scene where he first sees the worm thingie climb out of someone’s throat, for instance, his over the top reaction made me laugh out loud.  I don’t think that was the reaction he was looking for.

LS: Yeah, I agree there are a few missteps, but overall, McKeehan is really good here. He looked like an elongated, big-eyed Christoph Waltz to me at times.

MA: I also enjoyed Haley Talbot as his wife Sadie.

LS: Sadie was my favorite character. Once she gets “better” and has a major role in what’s going on, I found her strong and very likable. Despite “the disease,” I think she’s the strongest one in the movie. Kudos to Haley Talbot.

MA: I agree.  Christopher Toyne made for an effectively mysterious Dr. Victor Brandt, although at times, especially towards the end of the movie, he tends to overact.

LS: I actually thought was a little over-the-top from the first time we meet him. He’s effective here, but he does tend to ham it up. Which isn’t completely bad. He’s entertaining at least. He’s just not as believable as some of the other characters, and you distrust his motives right away.

MA: The supporting cast is actually very good.  Adrienne Vogel and John Breen stand out as fellow patients Mary Porter and Billy Mayor, and Ted Rooney’s performance as Abraham Walker, one of the “violent inmates,” who it turns out isn’t such a bad guy after all, is especially memorable.

LS: I liked Rooney a lot. Don’t forget Judd Eustice as  Timothy“Tiny Tim” Jacobs, He’s the other dangerous criminal who “agreed” to be part of the experiment, and he’s pretty creepy. He’s the closest thing the movie has to a human villain, except for maybe Dr. Brandt.

MA: Even one of the Baldwin brothers shows up, Daniel Baldwin, in what amounts to nothing more than a cameo, so I guess someone needed a paycheck!

LS: Yeah, what was up with that? I know he was hired to give the movie a little bit of star power, but his role actually made me laugh. He comes onscreen like he’s some heroic figure, but he’s actually kind of a dud.

MA: Again, the set-up to the story works.  I believed that these people would subject themselves to this kind of test treatment if they believed they would be cured.  The middle part of the movie, where you really weren’t certain as to what was going on, and who to trust or who to believe, reminded me a little bit of some those early episodes from the TV show LOST, where you weren’t sure what Benjamin Linus and his family of “Others” were up to.

LS: This movie looks great. But I had trouble understanding some of the motivations here. And the way the “facility” was set up—I know this abandoned prison must have seemed like an amazing location to set a film, and it is—but there were more than a few things that didn’t make sense to me.

For example, in one part, Billy takes Russell through the facility. You have to press your hand against a pad so that it can identify you and give you access to certain areas. They go to this locker room where Billy’s dog, The Kid, is. We hear Dr. Brandt tell them that they shouldn’t really be interacting with the animals that are part of the experiment, but then he pretty much says it doesn’t matter. Later, in another scene, Mary Porter brings the dog back to where the people are, and Dr. Brandt comes to visit. He doesn’t have any problem with them having the dog there. Then why make an issue of it initially?

MA:  Yeah, that didn’t make any sense to me either.

LS:  Also, characters are able to get into the section of the facility where the dangerous criminals are located. When they get to that area, a recorded voice tells them that this is a dangerous area, and they should turn back. Why not just have the door there coded so that it denies access? That didn’t make any sense to me.

MA:  Right.  I kept thinking there was a reason Dr. Brandt wanted his test subjects to interact with the dangerous criminals, but we’re never given that reason.  And then later the recorded voice does announce that it’s time to intermingle, and the dangerous prisoners are released, but for what reason is never explained.

LS:  There’s another scene where they “coax” one of the worm monsters out of someone, and instead of trying to pull it out when it makes an appearance, they simply take this as a sign that the person in question is beyond help. Why not just try to get it to come out again and grab it?

MA: And, when it gets to pay-off time, the film falters.  First off, visually, the special effects weren’t all that special.  I’ve seen worse, but the effects here weren’t good enough for me to buy into them.  And several key moments, which could have made for some very dark grisly scenes, were glossed over, as the camera would cut away at the last minute.  I expected that this was going to turn into a gruesome—or at the very least, intense—horror movie, but it never reaches that level.

LS: Well, this is a low-budget movie (although, once again, it looks great). So it makes sense that in certain scenes, the camera cuts away. They probably couldn’t afford to show everything they wanted to.

I didn’t think the effects were bad. For the most part, they worked for me. I really liked how Tiny Tim’s insides come out of his mouth and then cover his head for that “bag head” effect. That was pretty cool. The worm thingies weren’t perfect, but they looked good, too.

MA: At times, it seems to be striving for that WALKING DEAD feel—a story about a group of survivors against a deadly threat—and while the characters in this movie are somewhat interesting—enough so that in a better movie I’d follow their plight—the situations they find themselves in here never become so riveting that I was really into it.

For the most part, I liked the story, as written by writer/director Todd E. Freeman, but I certainly could have used more information.  I never really had a firm grasp on what the cure was or even what the disease was.  I understood the reactions of the victims, but I didn’t understand the motives of the guy causing all the trouble, Dr. Brandt, other than a generalized notion that he was seeking a “cure.”  While the patients seemed real, Dr. Brandt played like a mad scientist in a bad science fiction movie.

LS: I wasn’t always clear why people did the things they did. Motivations seemed cloudy to me. It was almost like they did things to further the story, but they weren’t necessarily things that made sense.

I just thought that the script, also by director Todd Freeman, was the weakest aspect of the movie.

And yeah, Dr. Brandt does seem like your typical mad doctor. It would have been nice if he had more depth to him. Early on, he says that he was the first patient to be experimented on, when they first created the cure. That was a step into humanizing him more, but the script really doesn’t flesh him out much more than that.

MA: Behind the camera, director Freeman does an adequate job, but his effort needed to be stronger.  There are some cool scenes here, but at the end of the day, it’s simply not enough.  The film needed more of an edge.  Perhaps it was budget restrictions that caused those unfortunate cutaways and mediocre special effects.  If this was the case, then more creative direction should have been in order.  I just wasn’t feeling it at the end.

LS: I wasn’t completely sold on the ending, either. I wasn’t clear on why some of the characters did what they did.

MA: But I’ve seen much worse, and for the 90 minutes I spent watching CELL COUNT, I was entertained.

I give it two knives.

LS: I thought there were a lot of strong aspects about this movie. I liked Freeeman’s direction for the most part, the actors were mostly good, the effects decent (considering the budget constraints), and I just thought the movie looked slick and professional (the cinematography is by “The Brothers Freeman,” i.e., Todd and Jason Freeman). But the script was uneven. I give it two knives as well.

But I do see a lot of potential here, and I’d be interested in seeing what Freeman does next.

MA: Well, we’re done here. I guess it’s time we headed out.

(DR. BRANDT suddenly bursts into the room)

DR. BRANDT: No, you cannot leave. It is too dangerous. The “cure” has infected you.

LS: What are you talking about? We didn’t have any surgery to have the cure implanted in us.

DR. BRANDT: But you did eat the meatloaf in the cafeteria!

MA: Oh no. I thought that tasted funny.

DR. BRANDT: Yes, you must stay here in Quarantine now, until I am ready to extract the cure.

LS: Screw that (Tasers Dr. Brandt, who writhes on the floor)

MA: Nice job.

LS (to other patients): Let’s blow this joint. I hear Daniel Baldwin has a bus ready for our escape. If he can start it up!

-END-

© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares

Michael Arruda gives CELL COUNT ~ two knives!

LL Soares gives CELL COUNT ~two knives.

Suburban Grindhouse Memories: THE BEING (1983)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 1980s Horror, 2012, B-Movies, Monsters, Mutants!, Nick Cato Reviews, Suburban Grindhouse Memories with tags , , , , , on September 28, 2012 by knifefighter

Suburban Grindhouse Memories
Buzzi’s BEING in the Land of the Spuds
By Nick Cato

Released shortly after Halloween in 1983, THE BEING may very well be the epitome of low budget 80s horror/exploitation cinema. Directed by Jackie Kong (who would go on to create BLOOD DINER (1987), the first sequel (of sorts) to 1963’s BLOOD FEAST) and featuring a simply mind-blowing cast of psychotronic superstars, I don’t even know where to begin explaining the trashy goodness this baby has in store…

…once again the (now defunct) Amboy Twin Cinema hosted this gem for one week only. Opening night had a near sell-out crowd, and whether that was due to people thirsting for an ALIEN-type film, or to see Ruth Buzzi’s career continue to go down the toilet, is anyone’s guess. After a music-free opening credit sequence (I wonder if this was the director’s way of attempting to create tension?), we see some guy running for his life through a toxic dump yard (that looks more comical than the TOXIC AVENGER’s back yard) but we don’t see what’s chasing him. He manages to steal an abandoned car (because, y’know, cars in junkyards are always tuned up and ready to rock ‘n’ roll) but it doesn’t take long before something rips the roof off and tears the sucker’s head clean off: talk about a wild transition from the lifeless opening credits! THE BEING then hides in the trunk, and when a couple of brain-dead cops come to investigate the car (which has crashed into a warehouse and is covered in blood), neither one of them figures on checking the trunk.

At this point, you’re either walking out the door asking for your money back (or if you’re at home, hitting the EJECT button), or cheering in uncontrollable glee at the on-screen stupidity. No one left the screening I attended, despite several groans heard around the room. And when I realized the film was taking place in Idaho, I was even more sold on the whole project, hoping this beast would turn out to be some kind of mutated potato. Sadly, it wasn’t.

THE BEING spends a lot of time hiding in trunks and back seats, making me wonder if it was at one time a car salesman. What little we do find out about the creature is it was once human, and its mother is played by the legendary Ruth Buzzi (best known as a cast member of ROWAN AND MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN from 1967 to 1973). Toxic waste has turned the poor kid into some kind of ever-changing shape-shifter: in one sequence, it attacks a drive-in after turning itself into a slime state and oozes through the dashboard of an unsuspecting couple. In another scene, the monster looks like a large stuffed animal covered in latex gelatin. And yet again it shows up looking like a poor-man’s ALIEN (similar to the poster image above). But I guess, considering this abomination was spawned from toxic waste, anything is possible.

Filled with plenty of gore and cheap monster goodness, THE BEING also works well as a “drinking game movie”: have some friends come over and make everyone take a shot each time the film’s ‘day-to-night-differential-within-too-short-a-time’ goes down. You’ll be hammered within 25 minutes. If memory serves me, a dull single-night house party seems to go on for two or three days. Besides special effects, the producers apparently saved money by not hiring a continuity supervisor. But these are the quirks that make B-movies more entertaining than your standard Hollywood fare.

Fresh off his role as an escaped mental patient in ALONE IN THE DARK (1982), Martin Landau plays a government scientist who spews some of the worst lines you’ll ever hear in a horror/sci-fi film. While the dialogue isn’t his fault, it makes his role on the classic MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE TV series look like Oscar-worthy material. Then again Landau did win an Oscar for his role as Bela Lugosi in 1994’s ED WOOD, so maybe I’ll stop ragging on the poor guy and move on…

Ruth Buzzi plays a real whack-job here (talk about stretching things for the screen) and dies in a gloriously over-acted choking-by-mutant-monster-son-tentacle-strangulation sequence that must be seen to be believed (see picture below). With its various bodily forms, THE BEING sometimes has tentacles, sometimes human-like arms, and sometimes has a tongue that would make KISS’s Gene Simmons envious. And for some reason it decides to mutilate some victims by throwing others into walls, while allowing others to live. Perhaps the toxic waste has messed with its conscience, too?

Cult film icon Jose Ferrer stars as the small town’s mayor. I need to do an imdb check on him one day to see if he or Dick Miller have starred in the most cameos and throw-away roles. It’s probably Miller, but Ferrer seemed to be everywhere in the 70s and 80s.

With decapitations, a heart ripped out of some poor redneck cop’s chest, all kinds of cheesy blood galore, a lengthy flopping boob shot, priceless dialogue, a plot that’s beyond incoherent, and arguably the worst daytime/nighttime continuity ever to (dis)grace a film, grindhouse cinema is rarely as fun as THE BEING.

Add a HUGE plus here for the sequence where two potheads are attacked during the drive-in assault. I still laugh just thinking about it…

© Copyright 2012 by Nick Cato

Ruth Buzzi faces THE BEING in one of the more absurd death scenes in cinematic history…

 

 

Lady Anachronism’s Fallout Shelter: THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK (1976)

Posted in 2012, 70s Horror, Apocalyptic Films, Lady Anachronism's Fallout Shelter, Mutants!, Sheri Sebastian-Gabriel Columns, Zombies with tags , , , , , , , on September 18, 2012 by knifefighter

“Lady Anachronism’s Fallout Shelter” Takes on
THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK (1976)
By Sheri Sebastian-Gabriel

Pull up a chair, pass around some rations, and get comfortable. Here at Lady Anachronism’s Fallout Shelter, I’ll take you back into time, when Atomic Age cats and dolls fretted over the bomb and visions of alien invaders flickered on the big screen at the local drive-in. Technological or political developments may have made these films obsolete, but I hope you’ll join me in rediscovering forgotten Cold War-era cinema.

THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK (1976) is a rare treat, a mélange of science fiction and horror, all while blatantly ripping off George Romero. Directed by Argentinian director Leon Klimovsky (THE WEREWOLF VERSUS THE VAMPIRE WOMAN, 1971), the film opens to a bright bedroom. Lily (Maria Perschy) is awakened by her husband, Victor (Tomas Pico). They have to plan for a party they’ll be throwing later that night.

The scene cuts to the office of a Russian ambassador. We know he’s Russian because he calls someone “comrade,” and there’s a picture of Lenin proudly displayed in his office. He’s speaking with someone on the telephone about leaving the country. We discover something bad might happen, but maybe not, at least according to the ambassador.

We move on to the party at Lily and Victor’s mansion in the countryside. Lily and Victor discuss who will be attending. It becomes clearer that this is going to be a kinky party. Doctors and businessmen, who are instructed to wear these bizarre rubber masks, are there to have a decadent meal with plenty of wine and narcotics—and a lovely selection of prostitutes to satisfy their needs. (For the under-18 or nudity-sensitive crowd, there is no explicit sex and only a small amount of nudity.)

Before things can get really kinky, the basement room where the Marquis de Sade-inspired debauchery was to take place begins to shake violently. The ceiling cracks open. The servants come in screaming, their eyes completely white. A pigeon crashes into the house, also devoid of its eyesight.

Dr. Fulton (Alberto de Mendoza) tells everyone he believes Europe has been hit by a nuclear bomb. The cellar-level bordello is the perfect place to hide out until it becomes clearer what steps they should take.

The following day, the men venture out to the village to gather supplies in a scene that looks remarkably like something straight out of THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964). While there, they discover everyone in the village is blind, suffering from some strange disease brought on by the nuclear fallout. In one of the stranger scenes, the men break into a grocery store to get some food. They’re accosted by the storeowner, who is blind and doing his best to protect his store. Victor, who seemingly lacks all human decency, takes out his switchblade and jabs it into the guy.

The rest of the men attempt to deliver some of their ill-gotten food to the monastery, where the blinded masses are moaning and wandering around aimlessly. Victor wants nothing to do with their sappy, bleeding-heart charity, and he steps outside to smoke a cigarette. Some of the blind villagers find him and grab at him like zombies. He begins shooting them, but Dr. Robertson (Ricardo Palacios) strangles him to death before he can hurt anyone else.

No one tells Lily what has happened to her husband, beyond the fact that he is dead, out of respect for Dr. Robertson. Even so, murdering Victor takes a toll on Dr. Robertson. He wanders around in a catatonic state for a while, but then starts acting like an animal. The rotund doctor even takes to crawling around the mansion on all fours in the nude. Dr. Messier (Emiliano Redondo) tries to comfort the nutcase with a transistor radio. The radio has been silent since the bomb hit, but Messier tells Robertson that perhaps one day the radio will play music again.

Fulton and the lovely Clara (Nadiuska, who is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Conan’s mother in 1982’s CONAN THE BARBARIAN), find love despite the horrifying circumstances. It’s actually a believable, beautiful relationship, a bond that lasts throughout the film.

The film features Paul Naschy, Spain’s answer to Lon Chaney, who also starred in Klimovsky’s THE WEREWOLF VERSUS THE VAMPIRE WOMAN. He portrays Bourne, a man with flared nostrils who is ready and willing to shoot, punch, or kick anything in sight. Between Bourne and the blind zombie-like folks, the members of the party are in a dangerous spot.

Meanwhile, the blind zombies are being led around by a man who was blind before the bomb struck. He instructs them to attack the members of the party. One woman has her eyes gouged out by the horde. Another is shot in the mouth.

Suddenly, the transistor radio begins playing music. An announcer comes on to tell the survivors of the blast where they should report for further instructions. Between the blind people and the shotgun wielding Bourne, the remaining party members must fight for their lives. Few succeed.

Fulton and Clara make it after escaping into the woods while the others fight it out among themselves and the zombie horde. They flag down a bus driven by two men in radiation suits. Fulton gives them his identification. The two board the bus, which is occupied by other healthy people.

I won’t give away the ending to those who are eager to see this Spanish delight, but it left me feeling cold and frustrated. This was an exceptionally good film with an ending that fell flat for me.

It is obvious Klimovsky was heavily influenced by NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) and THE OMEGA MAN (1971), or its predecessor THE LAST MAN ON EARTH. He brought his own style and vision to the table, and it makes for a refreshing take on the theme. The film is not without its plot holes. Some of the characters’ reactions to a horrifying situation don’t make much sense, but perhaps Klimovsky intended to demonstrate that people act irrationally when faced with a crisis. Despite its flaws, I highly recommend it.

© Copyright 2012 by Sheri Sebastian-Gabriel

THE OOGIELOVES in THE BIG BALLOON ADVENTURE (2012)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 2012, Apocalyptic Films, Deformed Freaks!, Demons, Evil Puppets!, Fantasy Films, Fun Stuff!, Just Plain Bad, Just Plain Fun, Just Plain Weird, Kids Movies, Musicals, Mutants!, Peter Dudar Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2012 by knifefighter

THE OOGIELOVES in THE BIG BALLOON ADVENTURE (2012)

A Satirical Lesson in Writing and the Dangers of Drug Use

 By Peter N. Dudar

With Help From Vivian (age 5)

Vivian:  Daddy…Daddy, wake up. You promised we could have fun today.

Peter:  Gimme a few more minutes, honey. Daddy is still tired.

Vivian:  Now, Daddy!  You said we could go see THE OOGIELOVES today. C’mon, get up!

Peter:  What the hell are THE OOGIELOVES?

(Vivian throws the covers off her dad and drags him out of bed. Daddy chugs down a cup of coffee and then herds the family off to the car to go see the new Matthew Diamond film, THE OOGIELOVES in THE BIG BALLOON ADVENTURE.)

Peter:  You know, I don’t remember promising this. In fact, today was the day I wanted to talk to you about something very important. I wanted to talk to you about the dangers of drug use.

Vivian:  What are drugs?

Peter:  I’m glad you asked. Drugs are substances used to alter the physical and mental faculties of the human body. For instance…how do you feel right now?

Vivian:  I’m really excited. I can’t wait to see this movie.

Peter:  Now, you see…grown-ups don’t ever feel that kind of excitement ever, ever, ever. Some adults need a little help to feel that kind of enthusiasm. They need stimulants to maintain that kind of high. I can see by the way you’re shifting around in your car-seat that you’re pretty jacked up. Cokeheads look the same way after they’ve done a few lines. Seeing YOU doing it almost scares me a little. Looks like I’ll just have to grit my teeth and ride this one out. What is this movie about, anyway?

Vivian:  It’s the Big Balloon Adventure. It’s Schluufy the Pillow’s birthday, and the Oogieloves have to throw a party for her, but the balloons get all lost and stuff, and they have to rescue the balloons.

Peter:  Wait, back up a second. They’re throwing a party for a pillow?

Vivian:  Yeah, this is gonna be so great!

Peter:  Sounds like the guy who made this movie is on drugs.

(They get to the theater and take their seats. The movie begins, and the Oogieloves come out and explain what we’re about to see. Apparently, this is an interactive movie, and they will cue us for when we are supposed to get out of our seats and dance).

Vivian:  Okay, Daddy?  When we see the butterflies, we’re supposed to jump up and dance.

Peter:  This is such a drag. THE POSSESSION is playing in the theater right next door. Are you sure you don’t want to get up and go sneak in?

Vivian:  I want to watch THIS movie!

(In the film, the Oogieloves are beginning their day. J. Edgar, the vacuum cleaner, is some type of adult/authority figure. He’s gone off to get five magic balloons for Schluufy. On the way home, the vacuum accidentally lets the balloons float away. He gets back to the stately Oogielove Manor and tells the three grown-up sized kid puppets of his mishap, so they swear by Odin’s hammer that they will retrieve all five balloons. Okay, I made that last part up.)

Vivian:  This is so amazing…I love the music and the colors.

Peter:  Yes…this brings us to narcotics and hallucinogens. The natural state of euphoria you’re experiencing is akin to an adult dropping some acid or ingesting some psychedelic shrooms. You may even feel like getting up and dancing. There are other types of drugs…ecstasy, for example, that will make a person lose their inhibitions and just trance out to the music. Those drugs are all very dangerous, and you should never, ever touch them. But here in the theater, it’s groovy. Get up and shake that thing. Daddy’s just gonna sit here and munch on some popcorn.

(The movie continues. Goobie—the genius of the group, Zoozie—the playful sister, and Toofie—the jokester whose pants always seem to fall down at awkward moments, begin their quest for the balloons. They are aided by Windy Window-a magic pane of glass with a hot southern accent, and J. Edgar-the vacuum. Schluufy the Pillow remains sleeping on the couch).

Vivian:  Daddy, how come Schluufy never wakes up?

Peter:  Well, honey…Schluufy is a metaphor.

Vivian:  What’s a metaphor?

Peter:  It’s a tool writers use to draw a comparison between fiction and reality. I believe that Schluufy, there, is supposed to symbolize crack babies. See how she lays there like a vegetable?  No arms and legs or anything, but still sleeps peacefully with that big, goofy smile?  Crack babies are infants that are addicted to drugs because their mommies were users during pregnancy. They do that all day long. That’s why the Oogieloves want to throw a big party for her. They feel bad that she’s so messed up, so they want to be really, really nice to her. Maybe the magic balloons they are off to rescue will restore her brain capacity or give her new legs or something?

Vivian:  I still don’t understand.

Peter:  Neither do I. Somebody was obviously tripping when they sat down and wrote this.

(The Oogieloves find the first balloon at the top of a tree. The tree boasts a tree house in the shape of a giant teapot. Inside are Dottie (an ancient-looking Cloris Leachman) and her niece, Jubilee (Kylie O’Brien). They go into this whole dance number that gets Vivian out of her seat to dance. Daddy yawns and checks his watch. The song ends, and then Toofie climbs the tree and recovers the first balloon. When he gets to the ground, his pants fall down. Vivian howls in laughter).

Vivian:  Did you see that, Daddy?  That was so funny!

“Goofy Toofie, Pull Up Your Pants!”

Peter:  Yeah. Hysterical. Which brings us to marijuana. Marijuana, or reefer, contains an active ingredient called THC, which messes with the doohickeys in your brain and makes everything funny as hell. The hilarity you find in Toofie’s pants falling down is childish and stupid. Marijuana makes childish, stupid things seem really, really funny to adults. And it gives you the munchies. Speaking of which, I kinda wish we had some Girl Scout cookies. Ain’t you old enough to be a Girl Scout yet?

Vivian:  Shhh…I’m watching the movie.

(The movie continues, and the Oogieloves find themselves in Milky Marvin’s Milkshake Manor. The Oogieloves get caught in a milkshake-drinking contest to win back the second missing balloon. Marvin Milkshake (Chazz Palminteri begins another dance number that is actually the best song in the film. Sadly, I’ve already forgotten how it goes. The Oogieloves’ fish, Ruffy, wins the drink-off, and they escape with the second balloon.)

Vivian:  I’m having so much fun. I wish this would never end!

Peter:  That sounds like the cry of a heroin junkie. Now, that’s some heavy-duty stuff that you don’t want to mess with. Junkies are the lowest. It’s like throwing all your pride and your hope away. Remember that commercial where the girl breaks an egg open into a hot pan and tells us it’s our brain on heroin?  Plus, sharing needles can lead to some really bad blood-diseases. You’ll end up like brainless Schluufy, drooling all over yourself. Do you want that?

Vivian:  No, Daddy.

Peter:  That’s my good girl.

(The movie continues. The Oogieloves find the third balloon in an airplane hangar where Rosalie Rosebud (Toni Braxton) is ready to embark on her next world-tour. Rosalie is a self-centered diva who trips on her popularity and is addicted to roses, which ironically make her sneeze uncontrollably. She, too, breaks into a dance number, and I really hate this song. But Viv loves it, so I get up for the first time and dance with my daughter. There is only one other family in the theater, and they, too, are up and dancing. Goobie somehow rescues the balloon and the Oogieloves move on.)

Vivian:  She really loved her flowers.

Peter:  Yes, and that’s called addictive personality disorder. It’s a metaphor for alcohol. Now, alcohol is a depressant. It numbs the senses and makes you a little tired. Rosalie needs her roses to help cheer her up, but, because of her allergies, it’s really bringing her down and destroying her life. You dig?

Vivian:  You’re so weird, Daddy.

(The movie continues. Next, they track down the fourth balloon stuck at the top of an 18-wheeler belonging to Bobby Wobbly the Bubble-Blowing Cowboy (played by an unrecognizable Carey Elwes). Bobby Wobbly freakin’ loves bubbles, but he doesn’t understand why people just aren’t into bubbles anymore. Vivian disagrees vehemently and vocally as I just shake my head. There’s no end to this movie. They launch into ANOTHER song and dance, and I get up and join Viv again. It’s either that or fall asleep. This movie is assaulting all my senses, and I’m wishing the  movie projector would fall apart or something…)

(After this escapade, the Oogieloves track down the final balloon stuck at the top of a windmill. But the Oogieloves can’t cross the grassy field by foot. Instead, they have to ride to it in a giant sombrero piloted by Lero and Lola Sombrero (Christopher Lloyd and Jaime Pressly). In order to get the giant sombrero to hover across the field, everybody has to dance really, really fast. I’m bummed at watching the great Christopher Lloyd reduced to a one-line cameo and beating on bongos while Lola shakes and dances across the screen. Eventually, they rescue the final balloon, and then it’s back off to Oogieloves Manor for the party.)

Vivian:  They did it…they rescued all the magic balloons!

Peter:  Big duh!  What did you think would happen?

The Oogieloves. A children’s dream come true, or an adult’s worst nightmare?

Vivian:  Now they can have the party for Schluufy. I’m so happy.

(They wake up Schluufy the Pillow, and sure enough, the damn thing can’t do more than mumble incoherently and coo a lot. But she feels loved and looks happy. The Oogieloves rock out to one last dance number, and then, finally, the film is over.)

Vivian:  Did you like the movie, Daddy?

Peter:  I found it to be derivative.

Vivian:  What does that mean?

Peter:  It means that the screenwriter borrowed liberally from other sources. It’s obvious that they stole ideas and concepts from Sesame Street, Pee Wee’s Playhouse, The Teletubbies (and to little surprise, creator Kenn Viselman, actually has production ties to the Teletubbies), and Yo Gabba Gabba. But I did have fun watching YOU have fun, and that, to me, makes the last hour and a half all worthwhile. Did you like it?

Vivian:  I loved it. But I’m sad now that it’s over.

Peter:  And THAT, dear one, is called coming down. It’s a bummer. We had so much fun and excitement, but it all has to come to an end. But at least we’re not slumped over a toilet bowl and yarking our brains out, so bonus for us!

Vivian:  I don’t understand.

Peter:  I don’t, either. But let’s just be glad it’s over. How many stars would you give this movie?

Vivian:  I give it a hundred zillion, million, billion stars, all the way around the earth and back.

Peter:  I give it two. I’m going back to bed now. I have to work tonight.

Vivian:  Thank you, Daddy. I love you.

Peter:  I love you, too. And remember…drugs are bad. Just say ‘NO’.

The End

© Copyright 2012 by Peter N. Dudar

THE OOGIELOVES. A sure sign that the End Times are comin’