Raw Meat (1973)

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Christopher Lee has  to be a in a movie for more than two minutes for it to be fair for American International to advertise him on the bill, I think.

I realize that this movie really doesn’t deserve three out of four iron crosses and that most people who might stumble upon it will find it incredibly boring, but what can I say?  It appealed to me because it has some creepy looking sets and surprisingly realistic looking gore for 1973.  If I’m not mistaken, the old blood formula made most blood look like red paint; at least this is what Tom Savini said in a special feature to some movie I saw a long time ago.

There isn’t much in the way of plot in Raw Meat.  In fact, you’d be pressed to think of a reason for it to even be 87 minutes because there is almost nothing going on!  An American student and his adorable, red-head gal discover a body of someone who’s important or something laying on the steps of a subway and go report it to the police in Scotland Yard.  The police chief is Donald Pleasence who is delightfully dry and sarcastic the entire time.

After that, it’s basically a police precedural crossed with a gross horror movie.  All of the horror takes place in a grimy, underground sewer-like hideaway, where dwells a grotesque looking man, and, over the course of the film, we get to see some awesome shots of half-eaten and decomposing corpses laying around old furniture in a dirty underground hideaway.  There are some hints as to how these were apparently people who got stuck in the subway due to something happening.  I honestly don’t remember the explanation and didn’t find it all that important to story.

Eventually, the not quite bad guy, who is more just a confused or retarded mutant like thing, with sick looking head wounds and messy strands of hair, kidnaps the cutie and the police go to find her.  And that’s it!  There is absolutely nothing else to say about this movie!  There are very minor plot points here and there, like when the girl leaves the guy out of anger because he didn’t feel like reporting his finding a corpse to the cops, followed by her going back to him and a brief interrogation of whoever Christopher Lee is supposed to play.

But most of that is just padding for time.  Again: I gave the film three just because I enjoyed the dimly lit set and gory makeup effects, but if you’re one of those “story” people who wants a movie to move from point a to point b in a reasonable amount of time with actual bits of intrigue and characters you care about, then you’d best look elsewhere.

The Food of the Gods (1976)

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I wonder if the poster above is for the British release because I don’t know any movie that has a giant rooster as the bad guy that would get an X rating… ohh boy, don’t go there!  The British X rating wasn’t like the U.S. X rating; it was just a catch-all meaning “not appropriate for children.”  But then again the movie was made in 1976 not 1956 so I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Anyhoo, The Food of the Gods is an “eco-terror” horror movie but really it’s just a 1950s giant animal movie which happens to have been made in 1976 so there were no restrictions on violence and that’s why it earned the daring PG rating in the U.S.  That’s right!  This movie is rated P fucking G!  That means if you’re a parent, you may want to use caution when taking your kids to see this!

There isn’t much to say about this movie except that it’s entertaining and features Ralph Meeker and Ida Lupino, two very talented people who mostly played in the b pictures of yesteryear.  Meeker’s big role was in Paths of Glory but I prefer to remember him as MIKE FUCKING HAMMER in Kiss Me Deadly!!!  Ida Lupino was in some film noirs or something but more importantly she directed the classic, creepy thriller The Hitch-Hiker.

Uh yeah, there’s some plot about animals eating some weird chemical that causes them to grow really big; you’ll see giant roosters, giant larvae, giant wasps and, of course, giant rats.  One little white one is so adorable that I couldn’t find it scary no matter how big it seemed in comparison with the miniature it was attacking.

I love these kinds of movies so don’t expect some kind of real analysis here.  I like watching the director, in this case Bert I. Gordon, attempt to build a serious case around animals attacking miniature models in the master shot and then puppets eating the characters during the closeups.

Meeker plays a jerk scientist who only cares about money.  Lupino plays someone who lives in a cabin in the woods.  There is a football player, an assistant to the scientist, a couple with a pregnant woman and another guy who dies pretty early on from wasp stings.  The ending is a hoot but I really, sincerely hope no animals were hurt during the movie’s final scene.  I can’t give that way but, from what I read, the climax scene is real and though it works for the movie, pretty much qualifies as animal cruelty.  So I can’t back that but, at the same time, I like Cannibal Holocaust so I guess I’m a hypocrite.

Apparently, The Food of the Gods got a Golden Turkey award but I’m at a loss as to why as it’s no worse than any other “eco terror” film of the era and it’s certainly better than a lot of schlocky drive-in horror films.  I guess I should have mentioned that it’s based on a work by H.G. Wells so people know I ain’t no ignint dumbass who cusses a lot in film reviews.

Panic in Year Zero (1962)

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I was debating between 3 and 4 but, you know me; even the slightest hint of sentimentality or people being decent to each other and down goes the grade.  I’m being slightly facetious here.  I like nice people who don’t hurt others; I just don’t like when films tell me to be a good person.

With that said Panic in Year Zero is a very entertaining “self preservationist”, end of the world movie.  The obvious influence is Roger Corman’s 1956 film The Day the World Ended but clearly the post-apocalyptic theme is pretty common in science fiction these days.Back then, however, with atomic fear right around the corner, the film was also very topical.

Also, it should be known, that I love cold war cinema a lot!  A lot lot!  I love watching Commies invade the U.S. and watch people fighting back.  And I know, it’s not politically correct to say this but I love anti-Commie propaganda.  I don’t believe it, mind you.  I just enjoy watching Jack Webb telling you how to spot a Commie.  But I especially love atomic bomb mushroom clouds that result in gross mutations.

Panic in the Year Zero is a very entertaining movie from actor turned director Ray Milland.  Ray Milland is great!  He’s hammy as all hell and old fashioned but so much fun!  How fun you ask?  Look at his IMDB photo!
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The story begins when a fishing trip is cut short by several hydrogen bomb blasts that set L.A. ablaze and set the L.A. area’s population into panic.  Thinking on his feet Harry Baldwind (Millan) leads his family, consisting of Rick (Frankie Avalon) the son, Ann (Jean Hagen) the wife and Karen (Mary Mitchell) the daughter, to a cave hideout in some far away town, where they fend for their lives.

On their way they pick up supplies and fight with people. Among those who they fight are various local folks who are also fending for themselves and a trio of juvenile delinquents turned homicidal maniacs and rapists.  Basically the film’s premise exists on the fact that in situations such as these, we are forced to fend for ourselves and not care for others.  The film’s entire moral crux is displayed in this exchange, following Rick’s almost nailing one of the delinquents, Carl (Richard Bakalyan, who plays in The Delinquents if you can believe that!) and then says, “but Dad, I could have blown his head off!”  In response Harry says, “you’re not supposed to like killing people!  You’re just supposed to do it for self defense!”  Right on, pops!

Indeed the majority of the of the good stuff is given to Milland and Avalon.  Unfortunately the female characters are entirely one-dimensional.  Ann, the wife/mom is constantly trying to derail their progress under the notion that you’re supposed to be kind to people always.  This got REALLY frustrating!  The reason Avalon missed one of the thugs with his shotgun blast is because his mom pushed his gun away!  I was ready to reach into the screen and strangle her!  What are you thinking, lady?  Are you TRYING to get your family killed?  The daughter on the other hand just functioned as scenery; her only purpose was to be raped by one of the thugs only to be avenged later.  I suppose that would count as a spoiler.

Fortunately the wimpy female is balanced by a strong female character who can shoot guns, whew!  Milland might almost have been branded a sexist!  Her name is Marilyn and she’s played by Joan Freeman if you must know.  And that about covers it.