27 August 2013

THE URANIUM CAFE MICROPOSTS/MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 FILMS

This posts marks my return to one of my favorite categories here at The Uranium Cafe, the Microposts, formally known as the Necrofiles but that title was simply too corny and not as original as I first thought. The focus is on short quick reviews, with about four films per Micropost. I watch way mre films than I can cover with longer posts and this is one way to touch on more of what I am watching. Lately watching lots of Mystery Science theater 3000 and so this particular Micropost (as well as select futures ones) will feature on MST3K films. Big fan of MST3K and I simply feel that many of the films there I would never be ale to finish if not for Joel and/or Mike and the bots supplying the movie with their witty jabs and barbs.


TRACK OF THE MOON BEAST: There are straight to tape and straight to disc films we have all had to sit thorough at some point in our movie watching careers, but here is a film that was actually went straight to TV after it sat on the shelves for four years, untouched by even 70’s film distributors. The 1976 film is the only film ever directed by Richard Ashe and that is something we can all be thankful for. It is a total 70’s film and while better than Manos: Hand of Fate it is really nothing I could recommend… unless you watch the MST3K version of course. Plenty of gags that mostly center around Prof. John Salinas and his tribal name of Johnny Longbow and his legendary stew (see Johnny’s promotion of his stew below). There is also the band that played California Lady and a terrycloth clad 70’s chick and loads of corny dialog and situations that keep Mike and the bots busy. Paul, a pretty 70’s looking guy, is struck by a small piece of a meteorite and soon transforms into a reptilian beast and runs amok when the moon rises. But overnight a love has blossomed between him and terrycloth chick Kathy, a real 70’s looking gal. Paul id pals with Johnny Longbow who is not only adept At making his famous stew using various sundry ingredients (like corn, chicken, green peppers, chili... and onions) but also of retelling old Navajo Indian legends to curious grad students. For some reason the police chief figures he can let Johnny in all the details of the recent spat of murders in the small New Mexico (or is it Arizona? I don’t know) town they eek out their existences in. Paul struggles with his fate and Kathy proclaims her undying love for him until the very end, and what an end it is really, with effects that look like an Iron Butterfly concert at the Filmore West. I would not have been able to make it through this one were it not for the MST3K touches, but to be honest, it was still m0re riveting than our next feature, The Touch of Satan. 

THE TOUCH OF SATAN: While Track of the Moon Beast was a pretty bad movie you could argue that at least things sort of happened now and then. You can hardly say the same for this 70’s style Satan flick, where the long pauses in the dialog and the contrived situations are too much to endure really. Lots of Satan movies from the 70’s and most of them were simply some of the worst films ever made. I guess if you believed in Satanic cults and Satanic conspiracies then films like rosemary’s baby would haunt you in your sleep, but there is no way a film like 1971’s The Touch of Satan is going to haunt anybody. Okay, it did me, but only because I sat through the whole thing. Again, unless you’re going to do the hilarious MST3K version steer clear of this turkey. Director Don Henderson did a couple other films that look like the sort of things that would wind up being put out by Something Weird Video, a couple late 60’s sexploitation films called The Babysitter and weekend with the Babysitter. In Touch of Satan our hero Jodie (that is his name) drives his Maverick (actually it looks like a Comet, a car often mistaken for Mavericks and I owned not one but two Mavericks in my life) aimlessly about just searching for the meaning of life I guess and while eating a sandwich on the banks of a cheery little pond (“where the fish live”) he encounters Melissa, a bad acting (as in the actress just can’t act and that she is a local girl who act improperly) local girl whom the towns people accuse of being a witch. There is the weird sister Lucinda who looks all her 150 some years who ambles around pitch forking people and making poor Jodie more and more confused and we the viewer along him. Things drag on at a torturous pace and Mike and the bots save the day on this one big time. I have never been a fan of 70’s styled Satan movies. Not that I have anything against the Prince of Darkness and his ilk, but just that so many movies of the genre are abut the same as this one. Plotless and plodding. To be viewed as as an MST3K flick only.  Our next film takes us off the land and into the eighties.
DEVIL FISH: Lamberto Bava was an apple that fell pretty far from the tree as far as talent goes when you consider his father was the great Mario Bava. The one film I would say that showed some degree of competence was 1985’s Demons, and that is still stretching things a bit. Super overrated Dario Argento had his hands all over that mess as co-writer and producer and it is debatable whether his presence helped things or only made them worse. With Argento I tend to lean towards the latter in terms of results. But you can’t blame Argento for anything in 1984’s atrocious Devil Fish. A low level Jaws rip-off with shoddy editing, poor acting and a monster that you never really see makes this a really hard film to sit through. Italians posing as Floridians find evidence of a possible prehistoric fish (that winds up being a scientific experiment of a hybrid shark/octopus creature, and therefore predating by more than a couple decades the debacle we now know as Skarktopus) roaming the waters off Florida’s coastline somewhere. I am not sure where. And who cares. But again the MST3K gang liven things up and make the film more than entertaining for fans of the hilarious onrunning commentaries by Mike and his robot friends. The last film features more Europeans posing as Americans in Arizona this time and mispronouncing simple words like Werewolf.

WEREWOLF: Martin Sheen’s brother Joe Estevez has a small role at the beginning of this film and it also stars b-movie bad guy Richard Lynch sometimes. But for the most part there are not too many familiar faces or accents in this very odd werewolf film. Joe Esetvez is the near spitting image of Martin and while his name is not as known as some of the others in the Sheen/Estevez clan he is quite active in b-movies. But his character is written out of the script rather quickly, and it is a bouncy and incoherent script in any case. An Indian (or native American I guess) digger is cut in scuffle by the bones of an ancient Indian (or Native… ah, you know what I mean) shape shifter. He is soon shifting shapes himself into a werewolf. But that goes nowhere fast and soon there is another werewolf character named Paul and some of the transformation scenes are simply, well, memorable. As memorable as the horrid looking werewolf costumes and weird accents from the cast. Of the four movie I comment on here I would say this one might be watchable by bad movie fans without the MST3K commentaries, but only for the true bad flick aficionado. While the first three films just lacked any sort of momentum or coherency there is some degree of a story here and the acting, while utterly bad, is also pretty fun. The scenes of Paul crouching on the floor and groaning like a dog are lots of fun, as are the lackluster death scenes. The characters of Paul’s gal pal Natalie and the grounds keeper Sam or watch looking for as well. And while I say it could be watchable without Mike and the bots, I suggest taking the safe route and watching the MST3K version as there are simply some great gags in this one .






 

2 comments:

Mantan Calaveras said...

Mmm Mm, that good old Navajo stew, including; corn, chicken, green peppers, chili... and onions! De-lightful.

Bill D. Courtney said...

I am thinking of having a batch of Johnny Longbone's ...er Lobngbow's... legendary Navajo stew for dinner tonight!

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