Christmas Evil (1980)

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Have you ever watched a movie and thought, “man, this has too much good taste?”  I know what you’re thinking; yes, Christmas Evil (a.k.a. You Better Watch Out and Terror in Toyland) from writer/director Lewis Jackson may have pre-dated Silent Night, Deadly Night by four years and how tasteful can a movie about a killer Santa really be?

To be sure, the plots for Christmas Evil and Silent Night, Deadly Night are pretty darn similar save for a few little details.  Like Silent Night, Deadly Night, the movie begins with the killer’s childhood, where he witnesses a traumatizing event that eventually manifests in his adult life, resulting in his going on a killing spree while dressed in a Santa costume.  What’s surprising is that the event in Christmas Evil could probably be explained by a simple talk of the “birds and the bees” (Santa getting it on with mommy).

Years later it’s revealed the boy in the opening sequence has grown into a lonely, pathetic man-child named Harry (Brandon Maggart) who has creepily filled his home with nothing but Christmas decorations and Santa toys.  At night he works in a factory with typical assholish types, one of whom takes advantage of his generosity and convinces him to switch shifts with him only later to reveal to his buddies how he “suckered Harry into taking his shift.”  In addition to that, Harry closely watches the neighborhood children, taking note of who’s been naughty or nice.  He catches one boy reading Penthouse, thus making him not “nice.”

Harry suppresses is rage, of course making everyone around him think that he’s just an eccentric but harmless man.  So far, so good.  You’re just anticipating the brutal payoff, the moment when Harry will snap and go on a rampage just like the killer in Silent Night, Deadly Night.  So we finally get to that crucial moment when Harry glues on the Santa beard, puts on the costume and arms himself with a knife and nutcracker doll with bayonet.  And then…

Major freakin’ letdown!!!

There are so many people in this movie; all those people at the company Christmas party, the neighborhood children, Harry’s own brother and his family, all those potential kills and only four people get it!  The asshole guy who tricked Harry into taking his shift is one and three completely random people on the steps of some memorial site and that’s it!  The rest of the movie is Harry either running or driving away from trouble!  Can you imagine my major disappointment when there’s a whole mob after Harry and Harry doesn’t run them down with his van?  What’s his problem?  What’s the problem of the filmmaker?  What’s with that stupid ending where Harry drives to the moon?

I really hope Lewis Jackson wasn’t trying to make a “serious” character study.  I’d like to chalk it up to a poorly written, poorly paced script and very few shocks.  Have you seen Silent Night, Deadly Night?  That’s the one where Santa impales the woman on a pair of antlers and decapitates the kid sledding down the hill.  Don’t expect anything even remotely that cool to happen.  Yes, in this movie, Santa stabs some people but other than that.. what wasted potential!

The Curse of the Living Corpse (1964)

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Now that’s just ridiculous.  There is no creature that “undrapes the passions of the living” in The Curse of the Living Corpse.  It’s clear from the first stalk and kill sequence that the menace of the movie’s namesake is just a guy with a hat and cloak and that there are no supernatural elements in the film.  To be honest, though, two crosses seems a little low for a movie which had some pretty neat sequences but three seems a little high for a movie I didn’t enjoy all the way through.  If any of you loyal readers can render me an image of a “half cross”, then I’ll amend this post by using it!  Thanks in advance!

Coming from the same Del Tenney double feature DVD as The Horror of Party Beach, I was little a disappointed that The Curse of the Living Corpse didn’t give me the same charge as the other film.  It was going places at first but sorta began meandering into needless comic relief and endless scenes of nothing going on, which strung together the few gory and suspenseful sequences.

The plot is pretty basic; set in New England in 1892, a rich man’s heirs stand to inherit his will given that they follow his post death instructions properly.  Of course none of them do and allegedly, the old man leaves his grave and begins picking off his ungrateful, unruly kids, their spouses and some other hangers on one by one.  This group of WASPs includes the non-WASPy Roy Scheider as a smart ass alcoholic named Philip, Philip’s brother and failed doctor Bruce (Robert Milli), Bruce’s main squeeze who I think is played by Linda Donovan, Philip’s wife Vivian (Margo Hartman), Philip’s and Bruce’s mother Abigail (Helen Warren), the caretaker Seth (J. Frank Lucas) and some other guy whose name I forgot.

The film is made well and has some neat sets, primarily the tomb where the father’s body is kept and the old looking mansion they all live in.  The kill scenes are superb; you get a head on a plate, a bloody face, a live burning and a bathtub drowning and some of the characters are completely, hilariously self centered, especially Bruce, a domineering, womanizing pig.  So yeah, it’s fun watching them get picked off.

What’s not fun is the sort of meandering, roundabout way in which the events happen.  They need to make this shit snappy, come on!  Also, what’s with the goofy cop who accidentally handcuffs himself and gets coerced into drinking booze, passing out and waking up hungover?  How is the film supposed to keep its sense of creepiness and suspense with all that tomfoolery going on?

Oh well, it’s not perfect.  On the plus side, there’s some borderline nudity in the bathtub scene.  In the U.S., official “above waste” nudity is constituted by the exposing of a nipple or two, which didn’t happen due to the way in which Margo Hartman was positioned in the bathtub; if she just sat up a bit… also the twist at the end does come as a surprise.  I just wish the movie was more evenly and quickly paced.

Mudhoney (1965)

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I finally saw the movie from which one of my favorite bands got its name.  I guess I don’t really “get” Russ Meyer.  I’ve seen Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and I found those and Mudhoney entertaining enough.  I guess they’re supposed to be a mix of satire with some titillation?  Mudhoney is certainly well made – albeit with a couple continuity jumps – and has its tense dramatic moments but was he just trying to make trashy melodrama?

That might be the issue I have with the movie; I’ve seen films like Common Law Wife, Jenny Wife/Child and Shanty Tramp and I watched those for their shoddy film making, antiquated look and occasional nudity.  Meyer’s film isn’t nearly as shitty as the crap Something Weird puts out yet seems too trashy to be taken as “real” cinema.  Was he trying to be the b-grade Douglas Sirk?

For those unawares Mudhoney tells the depression/prohibition era tale of a hired hand named Calif (John Furlong) who comes from Detroit to some non-disclosed location in the deep south where he begins working for a farm owned by some guy (forgot the character’s name) and his hot, blonde niece Hannah (Antoinette Cristiani).  Only problem is that Hannah is married to an abusive, alcoholic nut job named Sidney (Hal Hopper) who, along with raping and beating his wife and visiting the local whore cabin, plans on inheriting his wife’s uncle’s farm when the old man kicks off.

Naturally the story heats up when it’s revealed that Calif has a thing for Hannah and, given that Calif isn’t an abusive drunk like her husband, she likes him back.  This creates all kinds of tense and melodramatic situations; Hannah screams a whole lot and even finally fights back against Sidney.  Meanwhile Sidney also attempts to get the townsfolk against the hired hand through the help of a naive preacher.

In my opinion the movie would be a tad more dull if it weren’t peppered with colorful side characters, most of whom inhabit the local whore cabin I mentioned earlier.  This tacky bunch definitely add a lighthearted if a bit sleazy touch to the story.  Eula (Rena Horton)  and Clara Belle (Lorna Maitland) are two hot, busty blondes.  The former is a deaf mute and both bathe nude outside and are always horny.  In fact Eula ingratiates herself to the local preacher who, after doing his thing, yells “sinner!” to the amusement of the rest of the group.  The barn is tended to by the hilariously weird and ugly looking Maggie Marie (Princess Livingston) who jovially exclaims about how she hasn’t turned a trick in 15 years.

The film does make its statements on morality.  The preacher accuses everyone of being a sinner while the inhabitants of the happy whore cabin basically celebrate their sexual freedom.  Yes we see both Eula and Clara Belle naked and yes, it’s meant to excite – I mean, come on – but both scenes have a natural, carefree tone about them.  Clara Belle even says to Calif, “oh you’re one of those city boys who uses a bathing suit.”

But the main crux of the story lies in what Sidney does and, indeed, he’s one awful son of a bitch.  I don’t want to give too much away but he does some pretty selfish, mean-spirited and downright sociopathic things eventually leading to the film’s cataclysmic conclusion.  The ending is pretty epic.

Overall the film is pretty entertaining.  The opening sequence of Sidney driving drunk, storming into his own house and raping his wife – as awful as that is – does an excellent job establishing the twisted, white trash world we are about to enter.  Is that the point then?  Should I re-rate this movie and give it four crosses?  Only time will tell!

The Horror of Frankenstein (1970)

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Well now I’ve seen all of Hammer’s Frankenstein movies thanks to youtube.  With so many horror movies that I haven’t seen yet, such as The Creeping Flesh, Vampire Circus, Countess Dracula and Frankenstein’s Daughter, available, I wonder if there is even a reason to have a netflix account anymore.

One important thing to note about The Horror of Frankenstein is that it is not canonical with the rest of the Frankenstein movies, all of which feature the continuing struggle of Peter Cushing, the famed mad scientist/anti-hero and his experiments to bring the dead to life.  Instead The Horror of Frankenstein, directed by in-house Hammer-man Jimmy Sangster, tells the story of Dr. Victor Frankenstein all over again.  But, even moreso, I feel that it tells the story of an entirely different doctor who happens to be called Victor Frankenstein.  Let me explain.

The Horror of Frankenstein begins with Victor Frankenstein (Ralph Bates) as a student.  The opening sequence is Frankenstein drawing dotted lines all over the picture of a naked woman; an action which obviously foreshadows his later work.  When he is caught, the headmaster threatens to beat him but Frankenstein convinces him not to and it’s immediately revealed that Frankenstein is not some sick, antisocial weirdo but a cunning, manipulative and charming young man.  He even has all the young ladies pining for him

It’s also revealed that he’s a sociopath; when his charm doesn’t get him what he wants, he simply kills people.  Thank god forensics and fingerprinting didn’t exist back then or he would have been caught for his little trick of booby trapping his father’s gun so he could inherit his estate and use his dad’s money to go to college.

Ralph Bates does a fantastic job as the morally bankrupt mad scientist who will do anything to get his way.  And it’s good fun watching him move his plan forward to create life from death by various forms of cajolings; it’s pretty amusing his sidekick Wilhelm (Graham James) was so naive that he thought he convinced Frankenstein to stop his experiments by threatening to go to the police only to have Frankenstein kill him.

Basically Frankenstein through the help of a grave robber collects parts to create his monster.  The doctor also finds time for a few casual shack ups with hot as hell house maid/sex worker Alys (Kate O’Marra).  In addition to that, there is a subplot in which a woman named Elizabeth (Veronica Carlson) inexplicably falls in love with Frankenstein only to become his replacement house maid.

And all that is fine and dandy and enjoyable for a time but that does not warrant it taking 66 out of 95 minutes to finally introduce the monster.  Granted, when this happens, the monster does stalk and kill a few people.  It’s not some misunderstood creature; it’s just a mindless killing machine that either works on its own or when the master tells it to.  How it managed to understand English is best left to suspension of disbelief.

The Horror of Frankenstein is a Hammer film through and through with neat looking gothic set pieces, characteristically hammy acting and low-cut, cleavage exposing dresses.  Allegedly it’s supposed to be somewhat of a comedy and, though there were moments of dry humor, including its brilliant ending, it’s still pretty much a monster movie.  My only other complaint aside from its taking forever to show the monster (which kind of resembles Pluto from The Hills Have Eyes) is that the severed limbs looked a little too rubbery at times.

Punk: The Early Years (1998)

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Also keep in mind that this four “iron crosses” rating is mainly for people who’ve seen literally every other movie that exists about punk rock (which I have!  Thank you very much!).  I saw some pretty negative Amazon.com reviews stating that the Generation X footage isn’t synced up or that there’s too much interview footage with a Seditionaries employee and not enough Pistols live footage.  If you’re looking for that sort of stuff, check out the brilliant The Filth and the Fury or, if you’re looking for an overall gloss over of 70s punk, there are plenty of VH1 style documentaries on youtube.

Now that we’ve “separated the wheat from the chaff” as they say, let’s get down to business.  Punk: The Early Years was originally shot for a British TV program in 1978. The movie captures the feel of being right in the world of these events as they’re happening.  We get live footage from the Slits, Generation X (not synced up, wah-wah), X-Ray Spex, the Adverts, Eddie and the Hot Rods and Souxsie and the Banshees along with interviews with all members of Gen X, the Slits, the Adverts, Polly Styrene from X-Ray Spex, Marc Bolan from T. Rex (regarding his recent tour with the Damned), the writers of the Sniffin’ Glue zine, random punk rockers on the streets, some nobody punk bands from other countries (one guy even has an early mohawk!), Jordan, the painted up Seditionaries clerk with liberty spikes and various major label execs.

The interviews are pretty insightful.  The A&R guy at CBS all but entirely dismisses the politics of the Clash by saying, “eh, they’re young and naive.”  It’s such a trip hearing the label exec using outdated record industry lingo when describing a punk band.  Marc Bolan, while showing respect for the new groups, alleges that the Pistols and the Clash would eventually use strings (“aggressive strings”) on their albums.  He was right about one of those!  Other interview highlights include Polly Styrene discussing the meaning to “Oh Bondage Up Yours”, the Sniffin’ Glue guys talking about the hypocrisy of British clubs and authorities for banning the Pistols, Jordan of Seditionaries talking about how punk has helped break down gender barriers and Siousxie Sioux defending herself against accusations of fascism.

On one hand, the film functions as a time capsule of how much stuff has changed; in less than a year after the doc was made, punk would evolve/de-evolve into multitudes of different sub-genres that its original creators could never have dreamed of and hardly any major labels would touch punk anymore giving rise to the independents.  On the other hand, it shows how much hasn’t changed; the live footage in the dingy clubs (or are they clubs) looks exactly like dingy basement/club/VFW shows that you or I have attended all our lives!  You can practically see kids  that you’ve seen at those shows right in this video before you realize, “hey, wait a sec, this footage is from 1977!”

It’s 2013 and punk rock has been defined, redefined, analyze to death and turned into a cartoony parody of itself.  In the words of Mudhoney, it’s “overblown.” There are countless articles, books and TV specials out.  There are so many different factions, it’s hard to believe they’re all under one genre umbrella – how did garage rock, arty post punk and macho bro-core all have roots in the same-ish music genre?  Punk: The Early Years takes us all back to a more innocent time.

But why trust me?  See for yourself!

The Horror of Party Beach (1964)

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All right, I know that seems like an overblown grade to give a cheap beach party horror movie but, for once, the movie delivers everything that the poster promised!  And, for once, the movie is never boring!  The 78 minute run time could have gone on for, hell, another 10 or 15 minutes and I wouldn’t have minded one bit!  Not only is producer/director Del Tenney’s The Horror of Party Beach a hoot and half, it has all of the elements of a great, early 60s drive-in picture!

In fact, the film’s opening immediately drew me in with its fast paced tracking shot of a group of motorcyclists following behind the movie’s main character Hank Green (John Scott) and his lady Tina (Marilyn Clark) in a car, speeding down the road while surf music played.  Regardless of what the film would be about, I was already hooked.  Shortly after we learn that Hank’s and Tina’s relationship is on the rocks because Hank has grown up and has become a scientist while Tina only has one “experiment” on her mind, heh heh…

Of course, all that romantic mumbo-jumbo is just a red herring that detracts from what the film is really about; a bunch of cool looking, rubber monsters that walk around violently killing people for no particular reason.

The opening scene after the title sequence is equally awesome.  As mentioned earlier, it’s evocative of everything cool about early 60s pop culture, including the frat/surf rock band the Del-Aires rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’ to a bunch of swinging beach cats, who dance around all care free like a bunch of goofy, early 60s cats would do – albeit with a really nice ass closeup.  Then Hank gets in a fight with one of the local bikers over Tina before the film cuts to a ship which hauls around barrels of toxic waste.  One of the ship’s inhabitants doesn’t think twice about emptying the contents into the water and, well, I don’t think I have to tell you the rest.

The film most certainly delivers; the monsters kill a lot of people.  People are introduced in the film just to be killed!  There’s an obnoxious group of girls at a sleepover that make you think the film is turning too corny and then they all get slaughtered by the monster, and then there’s a trio of sassy broads who say a bunch of suggestive stuff to a gas station employee before also getting killed!  At first I thought the monster was just killing women but there were male victims as well.

My only complaint is that I wasn’t exactly sure what effect they were going for.  When the monster kills its first victim, the camera turns away Psycho-style and it looks as though ooze is flowing down the victim’s leg.  It turns out that ooze was in fact supposed to be gore, which we later see in closeup.

Eventually Hank and his scientist pals figure out how to dispatch the monsters bringing the movie to its expected finale.  Again, great movie with some neat killings and fun early 60s vibe.  Also it’s an absolute fact that, no matter how outdated some of the elements in this and similar films are, black Levis, motorcycles and curvy cuties in stretch pants will never go out of style.  If only the ladies figured out to get tattoos back then.

Primitive Love (1964)

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Again, let me stress, the rating system is based simply on how much I enjoyed watching the movie.  It’s not a recommendation to anyone who reads this unless you like films that are very bizarre.  If you’re one of Roger Ebert’s contested “geek show” lovers, then this mondo fits the bill perfectly.  Yeah, I watch mondos.  I have no shame.

Primitive Love is bizarre even by mondo standards though.  This movie came on the same DVD as Mondo Balordo (which I’d seen a while ago) and the two films share one thing in common aside from their being part of one of the sickest, most exploitative film sub-genres; they both star actors who were clearly not making the Hollywood a-list.  I forgot why exactly but I guess Jayne Mansfield’s career had really gone south if, after a few promising roles in films such as Frank Tashlin’s The Girl Can’t Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, she had to be in Primitive Love.  I mean, come on.

In Primitive Love Jayne Mansfield plays Dr. Jayne Mansfield – no need to name our characters – who goes to Italy to show a professor that, ahem, male attitudes towards sex are just as primitive now as they were before man became civilized.  So is the film educational?

Of course not, it’s a shock show.  If you’re not familiar with “mondos”, they are pseudo documentaries in the National Geographic style except that, rather than actually trying to teach you about different parts of the world, they just show footage of bizarre mating rituals from primitive tribes, various types of underground fetish clubs, weird religious customs and disturbing footage of animals being tortured.  Often times, when there isn’t enough footage, the filmmakers pad it with mundane stock footage and “pepper” it with narration that attempts to give the footage heavier meaning.  In Primitive Love, somewhere in Africa, some guy was playing the bongos while a woman danced.  Jayne Mansfield described this as a mating ritual or something.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let me start from the beginning.  Primitive Love isn’t entirely a mondo.  The “documentary” portion is framed in a ridiculous sex comedy romp!  I kid you not!  I don’t know how this thing was put together but I’m assuming the producers scored some vaguely intriguing (albeit in a racist, “look at those primitives” kind of way) stock footage along with Jayne Mansfield and, well, just decided to combine the two.  It’s amusing how director Luigi Scattini (emphasis on “scat”) really tries to meld the two into a cohesive movie and boy is it weird.

For the first 15 and last 10 or so minutes (out of 77 total) two bumbling janitors that are basically a grade-z Jerry Lewis and Jerry Lewis Jr. try to get close to Mansfield in all manner of “hilarious” situation.  Mansfield does her normal thing; that high pitch squeak and suggestive behavior – coming out of a shower in towel only, feigning a strip tease, etc. – all while clarifying that she’s not interested in either of the buffoons.  The mondo portion begins after Mansfield sets up her projector for the professor and begins her “thesis.”  Unfortunately, the two moron characters don’t go away during the mondo portion.  They continuously try to sneak peeks and, when they do, picture themselves in parts of the film, daydreaming about their own African jungle fantasies with Mansfield.

One of those scenarios leads to a HILARIOUS racist joke; one of the guys sees a “witch doctor” in the documentary then turns around and sees their black manager and says, “it’s the witch doctor!”  Oh me, oh my!  How racism used to be so funny back in the day!  But, what can I say?  I watch this shit so I guess I’m a hypocrite.

Anyhoo, the mondo portion shows lots of footage of various “primitive” cultures from Africa, Asia and Brazil and, of course, the necessary animal killings and abuse.  Yes the extraction of the snake venom as an aphrodisiac, the cock fight and slaughtering of pig, chicken and crocodile were not easy on the eyes.  On the less grotesque but no less bizarre tip, a woman in China is punished for her lechery by having eggs pelted at her by her husband.

Overall, as mentioned earlier, the combination of the two entirely different concepts is very weird.  If you wanted a Jayne Mansfield sex romp that isn’t any good, you have to deal with sick mondo footage and if you wanted a mondo, well you have to deal with an honestly pretty awful, unfunny and embarrassing set of scenes before and after.  But if you’re a weirdo like me, hoo boy, are you in for a treat.

Sole Survivor (1983)

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Well, if you ask me, the poster for this movie is a tad misleading.  I know this poster was made way after the movie and references Final Destination so it should give some indication as to what this film is about.  But I don’t look at taglines; I look at pictures!  And, as far as I was concerned Sole Survivor from writer/director Thom Eberhardt, appeared to be some sort of sci-fi/horror hybrid involving a futuristic ship picking up an apparition of some sort on its radar screen.

Just look at that picture and tell me you wouldn’t assume the movie is about that!  Alas, it’s not.  It’s about fate (huge sigh), hence the tagline on the poster.  I don’t like when religious/philosophical themes are dressed up as horror films because I honestly don’t care about this kind of crap.  I don’t believe in fate or any of that nonsense so when the movie’s lead character is being chased around by an apparition, the last thing I want to picture that apparition coming from is God!  It sort of undermines the whole “scary” and “evil” thing for me.

But, hey, it was still a pretty compelling movie even if the ending left me cold.  Granted it was unexpected but I didn’t want it to happen since it made God the hero and the characters the villains or at least “destined.”  That’s my take on it.

Sole Survivor is about a TV actress named Denise Watson (Anita Skinner), who is the only person to survive a plane crash.  Her doctor/love interest Brian Richardson (Kurt Johnson) warns her that people who survive this type of stuff get the notion that they’re invincible and do crazy things like walk out in traffic, “testing” death.  But because Watson is smart and logical, she takes it all in stride.  Of course, in a movie dominated by fate, this simply won’t do.  So poor Watson basically is forced to survive near death experience after near death experience among which include a failed elevator and driving her car off the road.  Oh, and for some reason, all of it is caused by dead people who come back to life at the hands of some crazy medium.

Yeah, I know, it doesn’t make much sense.  There’s this crazy woman named Karla Davis (Caren Larkey), who keeps having visions that predict Watson’s demise.  Why?  I don’t know what that has to do with the rest of the movie but corpses come back to life.

So why did I give the movie three out of four iron crosses?  Because it was entertaining and there were some neat scary parts in it.  And I thought the Watson character was kinda cute (what can I say?  I like sassy red heads).  There were some neat shots of dead people coming to life and there were a few moments of suspense and there was a pointless but titillating game of strip poker.  The gore was kind of minimal save for the wicked plane crash at the beginning of the movie over which the camera pans over the carnage.  This gives false hope since there is only very minimal gore throughout the rest of the movie.

The Silent Scream (1980)

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According to someone on IMDB, The Silent Scream grossed $15 million at the box office.  Really?  I’d never heard of it.  No matter though.  I really wanted to like the movie and it looked as though I was definitely going to but, unfortunately, someone dropped the ball in the third act.  I would like to think there was some sort of time or budgetary restrictions and that the blame can not be placed entirely on director Danny Harris because, if that is the case, then Harris needs to back to film school 101 or something.

The Silent Scream apparently was marketed as a slasher but it’s more just a horrific thriller with very little killing or violence.  Other than its being a supposed slasher, the film’s other main draw is Barbara Steele and Yvonne de Carlo, both of whom do fine jobs in this movie.  In fact every actor does a good job with the movie as does the director in the first half or so.

The set up is well made if pretty standard but the plot doesn’t follow any of the genre cliches such as “sex = death” that are so typical to slashers.  Scotty (Rebecca Balding), Peter (John Widelock), Dorris (Julie Andelman) and Jack (Steve Doubet) are college students who move to a creepy mansion being rented out by Mrs. Engels (Yvonne de Carlo) and her geeky son Mason (Brad Reardon) for the semester.  I was fairly impressed by the characterization and the acting; not half bad for this type of movie.  All four college kids have their personality quirks and the movie builds that up – perhaps a little too much.  For instance the romance between Scotty and Jack goes on so long that it makes the movie seem more like a drama than a horror film.

The shocks start right where they should when the first kid is picked off while drunkenly passed out on the beach.  This inevitably leads to a police investigation and the tone of the movie turns towards the horrific.  So far, so good, right?  But then, the ball is dropped.  Way too much time passes until the next person is killed; albeit the kill is juxtaposed with a sex scene and the moaning and groaning occurs in tandem with the stabbing so that’s a neat trick.

But then the film delves way too much into past events and apparently just begins to reveal information way before necessary, stripping away any possible shock or twist that would occur.  It would have been way better if the Barbara Steele character wasn’t revealed until later in the movie in a Psycho-like twist.  But, alas, we see flashbacks of her attempting suicide and being taken to a psyche ward and other bits of history which are revealed to no useful end.

The end result is anti-climactic.  We’re not quite sure who the true villain is and all we really know is that the college students happen to be innocent bystanders in a family’s past squabbles, something to do with a father that was killed and some other such nonsense.  It’s unfortunate that whoever was involved couldn’t have stepped back and seen what they were making and asked what the point was.  There are a few great scenes but it doesn’t really add up to much.

How to Make a Doll (1968)

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It’s mind boggling as to what exactly constituted “watchable” enough that a movie theater would spend the money to get it.  But what do I know?  Apparently Herschell Gordon Lewis never lost a dime on any movie he made.  That makes the situation even more dire because that means people paid and were forced to sit and watch How to Make a Doll.  How the HELL on God’s green Earth was it possible for this tedious, unfunny and annoying movie to be shown in a theater?  For that matter how was it possible for Lewis to watch the finished product without any sense of guilt over ripping off the public?

This movie isn’t even worth talking about.  It was a bonus feature on the Doctor Gore DVD from Something Weird.  That means the folks at Something Weird didn’t even feel comfortable mentioning it on the cover of their DVD as part of a double feature like they usually do.

So what’s all the fuss?  H.G. “I only make exploitation films with no thought to any quality at all” Lewis made a comedy.  A fucking comedy!  As evidenced by the negative tone this review is taking, it should be painfully obvious that H.G. Lewis CAN’T DIRECT A FUCKING COMEDY!!!

So what constitutes “comedy” in the world of H.G. Lewis?  A bumbling, 32 year old college professor, who lives with his exceptionally (deliberately?) creepy mother and doesn’t notice the sexy ladies around him, goes to a make-shift, low budget looking laboratory and, with the help of a mad doctor/sleazy old man, creates women to have sex with. HIIIIILARIOUS!!!

No actually, there IS potential with this topic.  After all John Hughes made Weird Science (not that I’m a John Hughes fan, mind you) so there is potential for humor to come out of the situation.  But alas, that is not the case with this film.  There are definitely attempts at humor, primarily the professor bumbling and stumbling; he gets his tie caught in a door and has to cut a piece off in one scene and he doesn’t notice all of his students getting it on in class in another.  Oh and he drives a funny car.

The laboratory looks neat and retro futuristic, with all those outdated computers and other gadgetry, and the machine which creates the women looks like a Star Trek transporter, but daaamn is that laboratory annoying!  While the dialogue is barely audible, the laboratory sure makes a lot of the sounds!  Just a bunch of buzzing and whirring.  Also the doctor goes into the sex making machine to make more sex with the women he creates.  God this movie sucks.

Honestly, after 2/3 of this pile of tedium, the novelty wears off and you just want it to end.  And, to be perfectly honest, the fact that I couldn’t hear a lot of dialogue combined with the numbing tedium made it difficult for me to really get what was going on by the third act.  I guess he got sick of the crazy life he created for himself and wanted to settle down with a real woman he loves?  If that IS the case, then it means technically the climax occurs at least 15 minutes before the movie actually ends.  I don’t know, it’s all such a blur at this point.

The poster is also completely misleading; “Will sexy girls overrun the country?”  Who knows?  Maybe?  Either way this question is never even broached in How to Make a Doll or, rather, if it was, I couldn’t hear it because of all the annoying sounds being made in that laboratory!