Ha ha!

You certainly never know what movie he'll review next!

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Burl reviews Rio Bravo! (1959)

The sun is sinkin’ in the west, the cattle look out at the view, the red bird settles in her nest, and it’s time for a Burl to review! Ha ha, yes, I’m here to talk about that great late-period Howard Hawks picture Rio Bravo, a longtime favourite of mine! Now, I don’t think I’ve reviewed a Hawks picture yet, but rest assured, he’s a director I admire!
And this was one of his best! Yes, it’s got John Wayne, whom we all know so well from Randy Rides Alone, in one of his finest roles in all of Dukedom! He plays Sheriff John T. Chance, who finds himself in a typically Hawksian siege situation with a colourful passel of allies! There’s a great, wordless opening in which Chance’s deputy, a bestubbled inebriate played by Dean Martin in perhaps his finest performance ever, scrounges for a silver dollar tossed into a used spittoon by Claude Akins of TV’s Lobo; this leads to a sudden, pointless murder and the jailing of Lobo!
The movie gets right to it from the beginning, and then unfolds at a leisurely but never draggy pace! In fact, the pace of things is one of this movie’s greatest achievements! Ha ha, all credit to Hawks, screenwriters Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett, and editor Folmar Blangsted, who has one of the great names in Hollywood editorial department history, for this accomplishment!
The situation comes down to this: Chance with help from his deputy Dude (that’s the shaky-hands played by Dino), his other deputy Stumpy, played by Walter Brennan, the young pistoleer Colorado, essayed by Ricky Nelson, and a cardsmith called Feathers played by Angie Dickenson from Dressed to Kill, must keep Claude Akins in jail long enough for the Marshalls to collect him, without getting plugged by all the fellas who want to break Akins out! Because Akins, you see, is Joe Burdette, brother of Nathan Burdette a local richman with enough fifty dollar gold pieces to hire all the gunmen he wants!
There are all sorts of terrific scenes in the movie, and one of the best is when Chance and Dude follow a muddy-booted gunman into a Burdette saloon! Dude takes the lead in unearthing the fugitive and the scene unfolds beautifully, thanks to some blood dripping into a mug of beer! And of course you can’t have Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson in a movie without a couple of songs, and we get the marvelous “My Rifle, My Pony, And Me,” which I used to sing to my son every night at bedtime! Ha ha, I really do love all the scenes where the fellows are just hanging out in the jailhouse, kicking back, drinking beer and hanging out, waiting to see what will happen!
And there’s a solid gold climax with shootings, punch-ups and explosions! Ha ha, it’s kind of amusing how many Burdette men get plugged by our heroes throughout the movie, in fact, and by the end the bad guys are slinking out with their hands up, claiming to have simply had enough!
It’s one of the most purely enjoyable Westerns ever made, relaxed, professional and beautifully done in every respect! No doubt just about all of you have seen it before, but it’s intensely rewatchable, so I recommend giving it another spin whenever you get the chance! I give Rio Bravo four tumbleweeds and an extra donkey face suddenly appearing at the window! Ha ha!

Friday, 18 October 2019

Burl reviews The Ninth Configuration! (1979)

Ha ha and mop dogs, it’s Burl, here to review a truly unusual picture! Yes, it’s William Peter Blatty’s The Ninth Configuration, and it’s truly one of those movies that you ponder on - as the name of that movie podcast goes, How Did This Get Made?
Of course, the glib answer to that question is: The Exorcist! Even though he wasn’t the director, Blatty got himself some credit in the Hollywood bank with that one; or maybe the executives got confused because his name also was William! At any rate, six or so years after the big devil hit, he got to take a terrific all-dude cast to Hungary or somewhere, put them in a castle and get them to act all crazy! And then he called the result The Ninth Configuration, or sometimes Twinkle, Twinkle ‘Killer’ Kane! Ha ha!
Though later Blatty would make the strangely terrific Exorcist III, this was his first adventure behind the camera! He had the presence of mind to hire the great cinematographer Gerry Fisher, a favourite of mine (he also shot Malpertuis, which this movie resembles in some ways), but the Blattster was not what I would call an accomplished and elegant filmmaker! The picture comes off a bit stagy, which is perhaps not a surprise as much screen time is given over to one character’s attempt to adapt Shakespeare’s plays for dogs!
There’s not so much a plot as there is a bunch of fine actors doing crazy things and riffing on the usual teleological arguments for the existence of God! The setting is a castle, ostensibluy in the Pacific Northwest, repurposed as a treatment center for servicemen who’ve gone bats, or possibly are only pretending to have gone bats! New psychologist Colonel Hudson Kane, played by Stacy Keach from Escape From L.A., arrives on the scene, and seems to fit in all too well with the inmates! Scott Wilson from Blue City and Malone plays Cutshaw, an astronaut who panicked during the countdown (he’s the astronaut Regan warned in The Exorcist, ha ha!); Jason Miller hams it up as the Shakespeare-for-canines point man, with Joe Spinell from The First Deadly Sin helping him out; Moses Gunn wears a Superman outfit and George Di Cenzo tries to walk through walls; Robert Loggia from Innocent Blood and Alejandro Rey from Mr. Majestyk play other patients; Ed Flanders from ‘Salem’s Lot is the physician in charge, though he's hard to differentiate from the other patients; Neville Brand from Without Warning and Tom Atkins from Halloween III play some of the guards! Whew! So you can see what I mean about that cast, ha ha!
Of course there’s the question of, first, whether the men are mad or merely pretending to be, or else, like Hamlet, fervently pretending to be in order to stave off true madness; and the old problem of whether the doctor is crazier than the patients is also raised! Ha ha, with Keach’s intensely somnolent performance, how could it not be! But even with these colourful characters and pressing problems, the grey cloud and constant rain outside this castle, and the clammy atmosphere within, become oppressive, and we’re grateful for a change of location in the third act! Yes, this new location is a biker bar, where first Cutshaw and then Kane are turned into living beach balls, and beaten and humiliated by a gang led by Stryker himself, Steve Sandor, and also Richard Lynch from The Premonition, both of them dolled up in eyeliner for some reason! But when Kane reveals his true nature, there comes one of the most cathartic bar fights ever committed to film, and the eyeliner gang is left lying in puddles of blood and beer! Ha ha!
As teenagers my friends and I were very much into this movie, ha ha! We had not one but two book versions of it, one called The Ninth Configuration and the other Twinkle, Twinkle ‘Killer’ Kane, which we traded around and quoted lines from! We were not so much into the theological arguments made throughout the picture and its literary companions, which seemed very Intro Philosophy even then! No, I think the appeal came more from how funny it all was! This was so at odds with what we expected from the guy who wrote The Exorcist that it seemed a string of delightful surprises from beginning to end!
It seems less so now, though it’s still frequently funny! Blatty’s dedicated Catholicism now feels overwrought, and Cutshaw, the chief doubter in the company, a little more like a straw man than he used to! I still feel fondly toward this unique motion picture, because where else are you going to see something like this! Ha ha, it’s a true meli-melo, and I’m going to give The Ninth Configuration two and a half moplike dogs!

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Burl reviews Splitz! (1982)

Good day, it’s Burl! Yes, I’ll be reviewing a movie for you, and the picture under discussion today is a collegiate comedy called Splitz! In fact it’s a sort of hybrid: part collegiate comedy, with the standard issue competing Greek houses and the usual grumpy dean, and part good-time rock ‘n’ roll let’s-put-on-a-show show! Ha ha!
All of it is sort of, kind of, not really tied together by copious amounts of narration, which is of course always the last gambit of a desperate filmmaker! Our narrator is a guy named Chuck, who may or may not be a college student, and who manages an all-girl band called Splitz, or possibly The Splitz! Either way their tunes are pretty poor, and not made to sound any better by the presence of real bands like Blondie on the soundtrack! Still, we get to see the ladies play the actual CBGB’s stage at one point, and that’s a nice treat! Band leader Gina, a tough New Yawk broad played by Robin Johnson of D.O.A., has a mobster dad, essayed with all the mafia clichés by Raymond Serra from Wolfen, and the whole subplot of Chuck trying to get them a decent gig is solved merely by the dad exerting his influence over the owners of “the hottest club in town!”
Meanwhile, for absolutely no particular reason, the band get themselves mixed up with an underdog sorority at nearby Hooter College, ha ha! Yes, that’s the name they came up with, and it really says something when you can’t find it within yourself to be as clever as a movie like King Frat, which, as you’ll all recall, took place at Yellowstream College, or Up the Creek, with its Lepetomane U! The dean of Hooter College, played by the imposing Shirley Stoler of Grumpier Old Men, is called Dean Hunta, and the filmmakers steal a gag from Mel Brooks by having thunder roar and lights flicker every time her name is spoken aloud!
But speaking of gags, there are very few in this picture! In fact there was only one laff in the whole thing, a visual gag that accompanies the dean's cry of “There’s a lot at stake!” That made me say ha ha! Otherwise it’s pretty bereft of uproariousness and ribaldery! Somehow it all comes down to a series of sports contests between the sorority houses, and one of these is a game of strip basketball, ha ha! There is indeed a bit of stripping, but not so much as some of you fellows would probably wish for!
One more curious note: the picture was shot by, of all people, the British cinematographer Ronnie Taylor, the same year he shot Gandhi! That’s mighty weird, I have to say, and stranger still, the movie nevertheless has the same dishwater East Coast look of such contemporary fare as Cherry Hill High or Cheerleaders Beach Party! Ha ha! Anyway, for this odd hire and for showing CBGB’s in action and for the one effective joke, I give Splitz one single cleavage fish!

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Burl reviews Halloween 5! (1989)

Ha ha ha, ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha, it’s Burl! Yes, in case you didn’t catch it, that was me trying to laugh John Carpenter’s theme from Halloween! It’s a cheap trick, so is an entirely apt way of introducing a review of Halloween 5, which itself counts as a cheap trick on anyone who ever enjoyed a Halloween picture! It's surely no treat! (And, just to be clear, while the full title on the poster is Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, the title card simply reads Halloween 5, so that’s what I’m calling it too!)
This foul cronkite follows directly from Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers in the same way that Halloween II followed the original Halloween, by showing the last few moments of the previous picture! Unlike Halloween II, it then proceeds to utterly betray the spirit of its predecessor by ignoring the disturbing set-up in which a nine year-old girl becomes the fearsome primal killing force behind the now traditional late-October pokefest! Ha ha!
As in the previous picture, the little girl, Jamie, is played by Danielle Harris, whom we saw recently in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood! Ha ha, she really gets put through the wringer in this one, not just by Michael Myers and his poking knife, but by the increasingly hoarse-voiced and crazy Donald Pleasance, who of course returns with a putty on his face to play the burn-scarred Dr. Loomis! He alternately shouts at and pleads with the little girl in a seemingly endless series of scenes, when in reality such a person would never be allowed near a child, no matter how much of a psychic connection she may have to her supernatural maniac uncle! Ha ha, Maniac Uncle would have been a good subtitle for this one!
The sheriff from the previous picture, the one played by Beau Starr from Fletch and Summer School, returns too, but the action is so confused that I can’t be sure if he survives this one! Other victims include a faux-Fonz called Mikey, played by Jonathan Chapin from Rubin and Ed, who is obsessed with his sweet Camaro and catches a gardening implement in the head! A mid-picture sequence set at a party farm gives Michael a chance to diversify from his kitchen knife and use a few other agrarian tools on his victims, like a pitchfork and a scythe!
I’ll tell you, this is an incredibly scattershot production, lacking in many things but especially in a good script! People are always running from one location to another, and nothing makes any sense; and a fancy-booted man is clomping around the town with no discernible goal in mind! Just about every character is a jerk or an idiot, and you’re glad to see them dispatched just so you don’t have to hear their grating voices or see their smarmy faces again! The opening credits imply the presence of Special Makeup Effects in the picture, and indeed there are brief, near-bloodless flashes of the old KNB artistry in the picture! But they’ve been trimmed to within an inch of their lives, ha ha!
The story seems to have been made up as they went along, the dialogue is bad, and the acting, for the most part, is worse! (The little girl is quite good though!) There is no hint of style to the direction, the picture is completely free of any Halloween atmosphere, and it’s not very well photographed, except for one decent shot of Michael appearing in a dark forest! If not for the existence of Halloween: Resurrection - which I’m not even sure I’ve seen, or at least don’t remember much of, but have heard is very bad - I would say this is far and away the nadir of the Myers saga! I give Halloween 5 one cookie woman!

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Burl reviews Curtains! (1982)

Ha ha, it’s Burl here, reviewing another Canadian horror picture from the early 1980s! It’s called Curtains, and when I say it’s from the early 1980s, I mean it’s from practically all of them! It was shot partly in 1980, partly in 1981, it was finished in 1982 and then not released until 1983 in the US, and 1984 in its native Canada! Ha ha, but the copyright date on it is 1982, so that’s the year I went with!
So yes, this was a Troubled Production! Ha ha, apparently it started out as a story about a 500 year-old banshee who possesses a lady and kills the other ladies in the house with her; something not dissimilar to Incubus! But along the way it changed to a more prosaic story: a tyrannical director named Jonathan Stryker is casting for his newest film, “Audra,” and invites a half-dozen actresses to his house to try out for the role! But one of them is willing to kill for it, ha ha, and so the bodies start a-tumblin’!
Well, I guess there’s some potential there for a mixture of suspense and showbiz satire, but Curtains takes no advantage of this potential whatsoever! There’s some catty drama, and Stryker gets called a bastard a lot, and there is much creeping around the hallways of his hotel-like house, and now and again there is a poking! Ha ha, the best and most Canadian of the killing scenes involves a lady skating on the ice, when suddenly the killer, sporting an old hag mask and hefting a small scythe, skates after her for a little bit of wintertime chopping!
But other than that, there’s not much horror here! What the picture does have going for it is a thoroughly Canadian cast of mostly ladies! The great John Vernon, from Fraternity Vacation and Herbie Goes Bananas, plays Stryker, using his well-deep voice to good effect! Samantha Eggar from The Brood and Demonoid is his old ladyfriend, a famous actress and great star; and the rest of the would-be starlets include Linda Thorson from Sweet Liberty, Anne Ditchburn from Six Weeks, Lynne Griffin from Black Christmas, Sandee Currie from Terror Train, and Lesleh Donaldson from Funeral Home! Creeping around the fringes of the film are such familiar faces as Michael Wincott from Alien: Resurrection, Maury Chaykin from The Bedroom Window, The Sweet Hereafter, and Wild Thing, and Kate Lynch from Meatballs!
At some point late in the production, the producer canned the director and shot a new last act himself! This involves the sudden demise by defenestration of two important characters and, subsequently, a long cat-and-mouse chase in what appears to be some sort of prop warehouse adjacent to the mansion, and then a climactic reveal of the killer’s identity in a kitchen scene, complete with a final poking! All this new stuff sits ill with the rest of the picture, and the whole thing has a ragged, stitched-together feel reminiscent of Bad Meat, ha ha! And the director credit was given to the fictional director played by Vernon!
Wintry Canadian horror pictures can often have a cozy familiarity to them, but Curtains rarely manages this! Some pep and a dose of the red stuff might have helped, but despite the presence of makeup maestro Greg Cannom in the credits, who was responsible, apparently, for “prosthetics,” there are no real Special Makeup Effects in the picture, unless you count the old hag mask and a creepy doll that pops up now and then! Oh, and there's a head in the toilet too! I guess Cannom made those things, ha ha, and maybe the banshee face that they never ended up using! As I said, there's wasted potential all over this thing! I give Curtains one and a half Burton Cummings songs, and that’s mainly for the cast! And the Burton Cummings song too, ha ha!

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Burl reviews The Lonedale Operator! (1911)

With a silent ha ha, it’s Burl, here to review The Lonedale Operator, one of the hundreds and dozens of short subjects that D. W. Griffith made in the days before his ambition brought him to make Birth of a Nation, Intolerance, Broken Blossoms, and all the rest of the pictures that made his reputation for both good and ill! Ha ha, I think this might be the first silent picture I've reviewed for you since Eternal Love, and I found it on a compilation tape of old silent railroad dramas! There were a couple of Griffiths on that tape, and a less interesting film about rescuing an old grouch from an oncoming train that was produced by Thomas Edison’s company, and a little mini-documentary on the railroad genre as well!
But The Lonedale Operator was well worth a gander! If you’re anything like me, you’re wondering “Ha ha, but what does he operate? A station? A telephone exchange? A train?” It turns out he’s a telegraph operator, but he’s feeling poorly that day and turns over the operation of his post to his lovely daughter! She’s having an affair of the heart with a train engineer, and they share a happy moment before he zooms off in his iron horse!
The next thing you know another train arrives, this one bearing the payroll! But it’s also bearing something else: two rail-riding hobos who climb down from the rods and observe our pretty young operator hauling the heavy cash bag into the station! Ha ha, they seem to say as they rub their hands together with glee! An easy mark! Or so they think!
The young damsel espies these rascals lurking outside her window and almost falls into a faint, but manages to lock the door just in time! As the scoundrels begin bashing their way into the hut, she hurries to send a telegraph of her predicament to the next station down the line - but the operator there is asleep, the dirty dog! The bandits are that much closer to getting in - the door is starting to buckle! Meanwhile the sleepy telegraph man wakes to hear the frantic beeping! He conveys the situation to the young engineer, who jumps into his train and speeds to the rescue!
But alas, he might be too late! The hobos have crashed through two doors now and are in the telegraph office! But wait! What’s that shiny object in her hand? It must be a gun, and the two would-be thieves are kept at bay until the engineer and his fireman burst in! And what was the metallic item in her hand? Not a gun, but a wrench! The two rapscallions offer humble bows before the bravery and bluffing artistry of the heroic young woman! The end!
So it’s got a pretty good plot, but it’s a noteworthy bit of cinema too, being one of the hundreds of one- and two-reelers Griffith made for Biograph, where he was helping to figure out the visual language of narrative cinema, ha ha! He hadn’t fully gamed out reverse shots yet, or eyelines - the bandits outside the window are not at all in line with where the young woman is looking, for example! But on the other hand there are thrilling shots taken from the train’s tender, and a great early example of crosscutting for suspense! It’s a sweet little country thriller, and I give The Lonedale Operator two and a half enormous black bowties!

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Burl reviews Apollo 13! (1995)

Blast off it’s me, Burl! Ha ha, I’m here to review a movie of rocketmen, and I have to say that it’s a picture I’ve always held in fond regard! I’m not much for the rah-rah Americana - ha ha, I’m not even American! - so that this picture avoids all the obvious touchstones, like the snapping flags that, say, Peter Berg or Michael Bay would have added had they told this story, makes me like it all the more! Oh, I just shuddered at the thought of Berg, Bay or some like-minded simp making this instead of Opie “The Paper” Cunningham!
And if Opie Cunningham were here, I would clap him on the back and tell him he did a fine job with this tale of accidents in space! In fact it’s my second-favourite of his pictures, right after Grand Theft Auto! He’s always been one of those craftsmanlike directors, but he’s got his high points and low points like anyone else! Rush, for example, was pretty good, and Cocoon and Backdraft both have their moments! Gung Ho, on the other hand, is an unfunny anti-union jackanapes, and those DaVinci Code pictures are crazy nonsense! Yes, the more I think about it, the more I realize Apollo 13 is streets ahead of most of Opie’s work, and that’s even before I recall that Roger Corman has a cameo in it, playing a senator, ha ha!
Of course we all know the true-life story! Three astronauts bound for the moon have their plans changed when an electrical blauchup plays havoc with their spaceship! The commander of the mission, Jim Lovell is played by the imperturbable Tom Hanks, whom we all know best from Dragnet; pilot Jack Swigert is portrayed by Kevin Bacon, famed from his appearance in Friday the 13th; and third guy Fred Haise is brought to life by the sadly late, but always great, Bill Paxton, beloved for his appearances in movies as diverse as Mortuary and Streets of Fire! All of these actors acquit themselves marvelously from the opening bar-b-que scenes (there has to be a bar-b-que scene in these astronaut movies, ha ha!) through the space crisis and right up to splashdown!
The scenes in Mission Control are excellent too - some of the best moments involve these gentlemen (and they were all men back then) solving problems and doing math! Ed Harris, who’d been to space himself in The Right Stuff, but who’s best known for his roles in eccentric productions like Knightriders, Creepshow, and Walker, rules the roost down in Houston, but he has able support from the likes of Clint “Ticks” Howard and Gary Sinise, who would get a chance to attend a bar-b-que before going to space in Mission to Mars! Kathleen Quinlan from Wild Thing helps ensure that the family scenes are not a drag, as they could easily have been in a story like this! It helps that the editors ably keep things bouncing around from the ship to Mission Control to the home front so that you never get tired of any one group, location, or situation!
Well, it’s a solid middlebrow Hollywood picture, and that can hardly be denied! It doesn’t juice up the action or overplay the drama or invent bad guys or try to lay blame! It looks good thanks to the portly cinematographer, Dean Cundey, and it projects an air of absolute plausibility! And the moment where Lovell’s young son (played by Miko Hughes, who was Gage in Pet Sematary) asks “Was it the door?” always makes me momentarily misty for some reason! Good work, Ron Howard, ha ha! I give Apollo 13 three steely-eyed missile men!

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Burl reviews The Children! (1980)

Ha ha and rug rats, it’s Burl, here to review a movie about scary kids! You know, there’s a lot of talk about that Spanish picture from the 1970s, Who Can Kill A Child?, a lot of chatter about how taboo-flaunting it was, and that’s true! But the picture I’m discussing today, The Children, seems to me just as outrageous, though of course it came along a few years later and is not nearly as well made, so I guess that’s why people don’t give it as much credit for its transgressions!
The picture begins with a pair of lazy nuclear plant inspectors shirking their duties and going to hoist a couple of cold ones instead! Soon a yellow cloud of radioactive gas is traveling the countryside, leaving unaffected the adults who travel through it, but when a schoolbus full of kids drives through the fog, they become black-fingernailed zombies with the power to frizzle-fry anyone they touch! Soon they’re wandering the countryside delivering killer hugs to their parents and any other adults unlucky enough to encounter them!
On their trail is Sheriff Billy, played by Gil Rogers of Eddie Macon’s Run, and John, the father of one of the kids! Ha ha, John looks a bit like Jason Miller, and his wife, who is very pregnant in the movie, is played by none other than Gale Garnett! You might be familiar with her from the band Gale Garnett & the Gentle Reign, or maybe from her strange little folk song about a prism, which is how I myself got to know her work! Anyway, I had no idea she acted, and it sure was a surprise to see her in this movie! But it’s a real shame what happens to her family in the picture! Terribly sad, in fact, and I almost had to turn the movie off!
For you see, I’d watched this movie before, but the last time was long before I became a father myself! Needless to say, it has a different impact now, and the scene with the little boy in his bedroom is very hard to watch! But I persevered, knowing it was all a fiction, and that the goopy burn makeup might have been as hard to wash off as it looked to be, but it was still only makeup! When they realize the only way to stop the kids is to chop off their hands, it gets even more gruesome for the kidlets, and by the end we even see one little girl get completely chopped into cordwood, Friday the 13th part V-style! (And speaking of Friday the 13th, the score for this one will sound very familiar if you’ve ever seen one of those Jason Voorhees pictures!)
There are plenty of fry-ups in the movie, enough so that it gets to be a bit repetitive! Two idiot slapheads, one of whom is played by Peter Maloney from The Thing (he’s Bennings, ha ha!) help the sheriff out at one point, but strangely we never see these two particularly deserving specimens get the atomic hug! I guess just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, ha ha! And whatever happened to that weirdo in the limousine? And what about Miss Button?
It’s an okay little rural horror picture: goofy, to be sure, but grim as well; crudely done, but spiced with effective moments, like the death of the old shopkeeper lady! It could have used a bit more pep and a little more profundity in its approach, but I’ll give The Children one and a half Superman posters!

Burl reviews Frankenstein's Daughter! (1958)

Ha ha and monster makers, it’s Burl, here with a review of another of the Four Cunhas! That is to say, another one of the quartet of movies made by Richard Cunha in 1958! I’ve already reviewed Giant From the Unknown for you, and today it’ll be Frankenstein’s Daughter! (Ha ha, She Demons and Missile to the Moon will come along sometime in the future, I’m sure!)
This one is maybe not the best of them, but it’s got a certain something! Our story is set in the house of a scientist, an elderly German called Carter, the type of kindly scientist who’s trying to perfect a serum for the good of mankind! But his assistant, Oliver Frank, has a different sort of project in mind! Oliver is nightly turning Carter’s niece Trudy (played by Sandra Knight from The Terror, the future ex-Mrs. Jack Nicholson) into a monster, in which form she roams the streets scaring her friends with booga-booga! Oliver spends much of his time either gaslighting Trudy or clumsily macking on her, and her boyfriend, played by John Ashley from Beach Blanket Bingo, unwittingly helps the bad guy out! Frankly the boyfriend does not seem like the swiftest boat in the fleet, ha ha!
Oliver Frank, who's an especially prickish bad guy, abuses his goblin-like assistant and says things like “From here on in I decide what’s evil!” Of course he turns out to be not Oliver Frank but Oliver Frankenstein, and soon he's constructed a monster out of some of Trudy’s friends! There’s a rampage, some biffing and bashing and some pretty stiff neck-twists, and finally rough justice is meted out when Oliver Frankenstein gets a face full of acid!
There are some real 1950s delights on view here, like a boss pool party at where a clean-cut band keeps the groove, while enormous skewers are barbequed and the twentysomethings dance like apes! But we’re expecting the Frankenstein monster to rampage through the party and biff people into the pool, and it just never happens! There’s a lost opportunity for you, ha ha!
And speaking of the monster: this picture has taken a lot of grief for the gooper-faced makeup, even from Cunha himself, but you know what? I like this monster, and I even think it’s kind of scary! Ha ha, still, I can’t deny it’s a little chonky! But it’s chonky-charming, if you know what I mean! The acid-burn makeup and the monster-Trudy makeup (all fangs and heavy eyebrows) are less endearing though!
It’s a modest little picture, and it seems to go on forever, and it’s got some major missed opportunities too! But it also has the 1950s monster charm I love so well - the kind you find in pictures like Monster of Piedras Blancas or Monster on the Campus! I give Frankenstein’s Daughter one and a half swinging bookshelves!

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Burl reviews The Young Marrieds! (1972)

Ha ha, it’s Burl here with an erotic mystery! Before we get to the review portion of this entry, I should tell you the circumstances which brought me to watch today’s movie, The Young Marrieds! It’s a little odd!
I found a videotape in my basement the other day, in a plain black box with no label, just the word PRON written on it in gold ink! Ha ha, I thought, what’s this! I have plenty of old VHS tapes, but I couldn’t remember ever seeing this one before! Well, out of curiosity, I put it on, and guess what! It was a picture called The Young Marrieds, directed by someone called Richard Trent, and, after a strange opening scene featuring bizarre narration describing the birth of mankind from the primordial ooze, the movie quickly revealed itself as a genuine pornoo! It was clearly a product of the early 1970s and the tape looked looked as though it had been Poor Man’s Transferred off the side of a smoke-stained rec room wall! I watched for a while, through scenes of a jerkish man suffering from severe homophobia who first watches a stripper, then, departing the club in his dune buggy, picks up a hitchhiker and is given whistle-dog by her in a remote forest location! Then I turned off the movie and went to my computer, curious to find out what exactly I was watching!
Well, ha ha, would you believe it! The Young Marrieds turns out to be the last feature film directed not by “Richard Trent,” but by none other than Ed Wood! I could hardly believe it! Not only that, but it had apparently been considered a lost film before a print was rescued from a falling-down Vancouver cinema in 2007! That’s odd, I thought to myself - I didn’t think I’d looked in that box of basement videotapes since sometime in the late 1990s! So could I have had my own tape of The Young Marrieds this whole time, before even the 2007 discovery? If so, where did it come from? Who had written PRON on there in golden ink? Very weird! Oh well, I thought, might as well watch the rest of it!

It’s the tale of a young husband, Ben, a total cras-cren-bon, who’s all bent out of shape because his wife doesn’t care to please him in the bedroom! So he receives whistle-dog from strangers and spends half his time in the strip club, and even when he’s at work he can’t keep his mind on things! One day Ben brings home a camera and starts shooting provocative pictures of his wife, and she starts to loosen up! Ha ha, she even performs whistle-dog on him!
Then he takes her to his co-worker’s house where a desultory orgy is in progress, and the wife returns to her chilly ways! But the bare-chested he-man she is paired with soon has her on the floor with his dominance, at least according to the flatly intonated narration! We then get more out-of-focus whistle-dog and various other oro-genital amusements, all set to a steady soundtrack wash of moans, groans, wet smacking sounds and lounge music!
Then suddenly the orgy takes a turn to “another strata of sex play” which threatens to take Ben “through the gay veil!” The scene ends inconclusively, with Ben, evidently assailed by imbecilic doubt, imagining still images of himself kissing another man! Then we get some more shots of the ocean, and the narrator drones “Let us be patient, tender-wise, forgiving in this strange task of living, for if we fail each other, each will be grey driftwood relaxing in the sea!” Ha ha!
Well, it’s an odd denouement, but entirely keeping with the oddness of the thing entire! And it’s not just the windy pronouncements of the narrator: this picture has sexual politics so bizarre as to be alien, even for 1972! The virulent homophobia of the main couple is pretty off-putting, and the long scenes of whistle-dog are just boring! Ha ha, I zoomed them, I must admit! Sexcula notwithstanding, I’m not really a great one for pornoo - watching other people make sweet love is like watching other people play Pac-Man: you’d really rather be doing it yourself! But as pornoo goes, I suppose The Young Marrieds is compelling enough just for being so weird, and that it was old Eddie’s last picture makes it of historical interest! I have no idea where I got this tape, but I’m going to give The Young Marrieds one little falling-down framed picture! Ha ha, can you prove it didn’t happen?