Posts Tagged ‘botched

19
Aug
13

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) or “Why is there a Watermelon there?”

adventures-of-buckaroo-banzai-poster-1

“No, no, no, don’t tug on that. You never know what it might be attached to.” -Buckaroo Banzai

a Primal Root written review

He’s a rock star, neurosurgeon, mystic, nuclear physicist and the star of his own comic book series, Buckaroo Banzai (Weller) is a man of many trades. But above all, he is a man of action.  Let me try and lay the story out for you to the best of my ability…which spells out trouble, really.  Deep breath, here we go!

“The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” drops us right in the middle of this action as Buckaroo is testing out a new jet propelled Ford Fiesta, equipped with his when he takes an unscheduled detour into the side of a mountain the side of a mountain going at speeds that break the sound barrier…and passing right through unharmed thanks to the vehicle being equipped with a piece of hardware of Buckaroo’s own design named “The Oscillation Overthruster.”  However, this impromptu experiment in dimensional travel unleashes more than Buckaroo and his colleagues/ team /bandmates, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, ever imagined. Within this rock were stashed several Evil Black Lectoids from Planet 10 who have been exiled there and have now been unleashed from the 8th Dimension.

buckaroo 02

“Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!”

News of Buckaroo’s successful journey across the 8th Dimension spreads quickly and manages to reach Dr. Emilio Lizardo (Lithgow), whose failed Overthruster experiment in 1938 ended up leaving his body possessed by Lord John Whorfin, an evil alien creature who is compared to Adolf Hitler. See, Whorfin is the leader of the Red Lectroids, a race of  reptile, alien creature who waged war against Planet 10 and were later banished to this 8th Dimension.

Still with me? Groovy.

Well, due to Lizardo’s botched overthruster experiment,  and the release of Lord John Whorfin, many of these Red Lectroids pilgrimaged to earth and now work at YoYodyne Propulsion Systems posing as employees and working on a spacecraft while pretending it’s a project for the U.S. Air Force.  Their plan is to rescue the remaining exiles in the 8th dimension and take over Planet 10m which is populated by the far less aggressive Black Lectroids, who threaten Earth with a fake nuclear attack which will set off World War III if Lord John Whorfin’s plans are not halted within 24 hours.

Now, the fate of the entire planet lies in the  hands of Buckaroo Banzai, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, the civilian Banzai Institute volunteers known as The Blue Blazers,  John Parker (the Black Lectroid messenger) and the beautiful Penny Priddy (Barkin).

Buckaroo Barken

“I can see your whole clam bake, Penny.”

As you can kind of guess, “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” is one VERY convoluted, complex, whacky mess of a story. It’s a story it took a couple viewing for me just to wrap my mind around just what the Hell was happening. TAOBBAT8D never gives the audience a moment to catch it’s breath, from the very get-go TAOBBAT8D starts flinging ideas, concepts and theories at break neck speed and dares us to try and keep up with the action on screen. We and jarringly catapulted from scene to scene, character to character in a film made to play like an episode from a serial that has a long standing history with fans, only there was NOTHING that came before this and NOTHING to come after. Well, there was a sequel planned (Buckaroo Banzai Against The World Crime League) but since the movie bombed like Hiroshima, that sequel never had a chance. So we are left with a movie that is bafflingly complex, silly and rallies against the typical dramatic structure we, as viewers, are accustom to, But all of these elements always left me exhilarated by “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension’s” end credits begin rolling.  You are an outsider invited to be a part of this incredibly cool cat’s latest journey.  you are thrown into this wild world and either you can make the decision to hold on for dear life and enjoy the ride or throw your hands in the air and declare that this stuff makes no sense, and just walk away.  If there is one major flaw in the film, it’s pretty slap dash and difficult to follow. But I have a feeling that’s by design.

One thing is certain, The Adventure’s of Buckaroo Banzai and it’s mix of action, science fiction, and comedy are not for everyone. Where some might find a lot of great concepts bubbling forth from the film;s narrative, others might find this flick more than a little tedious, which is a totally understandable view point. for me, the strength of the film lies in the fact that Buckaroo Banzai is unlike any other film ever made, or ever will be made again. It’s a high concept oddity with A.D.D. crackling under with the static of a head full of crazy ideas.  To me, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai is one of the coolest, strangest fucking movies ever made, and with every new viewing, I take away another level of appreciation.  It’s one I don’t recommend easily. If you’re a Hong Kong Cavalier or a Blue Blazer, you will have an instinct to check this flick out for yourself.  As for me? “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” holds a special place of honor in my collection.

SIDE NOTE: Also, Breaking Bad fans, watch early on for an appearance by a young Jonathan Banks (aka: Mike from TV’s Breaking Bad) as an orderly at the mental asylum where  Lord John Whorfin is held.

4 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

31
Dec
12

Rotten Reviews Episode 27: Home Sweet Home

Home-Sweet-Home-Front

Hey Gang!

It’s your old pal, The Primal Root, and to celebrate the holiday season I’ve decided to throw a Trashmas New Year’s Bash over at my pad and everyone is invited! That includes YOU! But beforehand we’re checking out an all time favorite Trash Cinema Slasher film  from 1981 called ‘Home Sweet Home’. It’s supposedly a holiday themed horror movie, but a turkey dinner does not a holiday make, gang. In fact no one even mentions what holiday it is! From what I understand I think it’s supposed to be Thanksgiving?

I digress, get prepared for feral children, satanic electric guitar playing magical Jewish mimes, Body by Jake, body builder body glaze, sex with your pants on, spanish racial sterotypes, bribing cops with “bazooms”, roid rage, flattened grannies,  disapearing balls, hostage negotiations, the missing peas and so much more! It’s The Primal Root’s Rotten Reviews Episode 27: Home Sweet Home! Gather round and share it with those you love.

Thank you for all your support and for spreading the word! See you in 2013!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

24
Aug
12

Wicked Stepmother: Low Rent Surrealism

a Primal Root written review

I’ve never seen a movie like it. That’s probably the most accurate critique I can give Larry Cohen’s jaw-droppingly bizarre and nonsensical 1989 supernatural comedy opus, ‘Wicked Stepmother’.  A forgotten oddity of the VHS era,  probably best known for containing Hollywood empress Bette Davis in her final screen performance, ‘Wicked Stepmother’ has got to be some kind of hallucinatory cinematic comedy milestone. Who knows if Cohen & co intended this movie to be such a rapid-fire array of awkward moments, dumbfounding performances and cheesy effects. All I know is that it all comes together as an if not totally enjoyable film, certainly an outlandishly botched witch’s brew movie delight. One thing that may be said with total confidence for ‘Wicked Stepmother’, you will never, EVER see another like it.

This fiasco begins with a police investigation led by TV’s Tom Bosley who you may remember from ‘Happy Days’ (RIP) or if your grandparents were fans of the ‘Father Dowling Mysteries’.  His mission? To locate an evil witch with a penchant for marrying her way into families and using her powers to make them unimaginably wealthy before robbing them blind, shrinking them to the size of plastic army men, and stashing them in shoe boxes under the bed.  It sure seems like a waste of time for a witch of such immense power. There’s just gotta be a more effective way to maintain a steady cash flow.

The witch in question is Miranda Pierpoint, played by the legendary Bette Davis (RIP) putting forth a stiff monotone and (we can only assume) unintentionally  disturbing performance. Miranda has just gotten hitched to an elderly widower, Sam  (played by the late, great character actor Lionel Stander with that unmistakably gravely voice). In one of my favorite sight gags of the movie, we see images of Sam’s first wife on his night stand.  Low and behold, it is Joan Crawford,  Bette Davis’ long time rival.

The new marriage comes as a shock to his adult daughter, hyper-allergenic and moderate psychopath, Jenny (Colleen Camp, who should win some kind of lifetime achievement award for this one, single cringe-inducingly campy performance).  Her husband Steve (David ‘I’ve gotta’ Rasche, desperately try to keep up with Colleen’s camp) though surprised by the sudden change in homestead seems to be taking things well, and attempts to mediate between his wife’s control freakery and his new chimney stack of a mother-in-law.  Their son Mike (Shawn Donahue, who would play his final role the next year in 1990’s immortal classic, ‘The Willies’) is appropriately willful and mainly just refuses to refer to the new addition ‘grandma’.

To Jenny’s fury, Miranda smokes more than the entire cast of Mad Men, combined, in the families’ WASPy digs. She also cooks, eats, and tempts the family with nothing but grilled meats despite Jenny’s insistence in that everyone bow to the nutritional excellence of her broccoli souffle. Although Steve is clearly inclined to give into Miranda’s politically-incorrect ways, Jenny throws her hubby one of her well-practiced psycho glares and puts the guy back in his place. He hunches over the dining room table to choke down his helping of lettuce and oatmeal while thinking about his genitals and how nice a home Jenny’s made for them in her handbag. Miranda also has a cat which unlocks an avalanche of comedic potential as Jenny is…get this…ALLERGIC to cats!  So she spends much of the movie sneezing at inopportune moments and standing around sniffling and delivering her lines with her stuffed up, mongoloid voice. Really. It is a laugh riot. Yeah.

However, my favorite scene in this mayhem shows up early as young Michael is at a beach, unchaperoned, watching some coeds in bikinis bounce & bop around via a game of volleyball.  Earlier, Michael has told Melinda he’d never call her “Grandma”, that she can, basically, burn in hell, then proved himself the deeply cool thug he is by popping the collar on his jean jacket and walking away. Apparently he was strutting his way to the beach where his requests to join in the volleyball game were denied.  However, as luck would have it, the lovely young witch Priscilla (played byTia Carrera’s sister, Barbara! SHWING!) shows up, complete with beflowered sun hat and black veil and winks at Michael, which apparently bestowed upon him with the power to do front flips over the volleyball net. For what purpose? Who knows. It impresses no one in the game and even seems to piss off the more hyper-hormonal boys of the pack. And yet, poor little 12 year old Michael has caught the eye & libido of a twenty something beach bunny. Unfortunately, as often happens at movie beaches,  two buff, blonde dickweeds start kicking sand in Michael’s face while he’s chatting up his new dish.  Again, the young lad is in luck as Priscilla gives him yet another power of Filipino Flip fighting through which Michael hops around cracking bimbo dude skulls.  All of this results in a scene of total prepubescent wish fulfillment, the busty beach bunny takes off her modest shirt to reveal her ample cleavage and offers herself up to the young man with the unmistakable innuendo, “Come here, I’m gonna show you something…” A goofy grin spreads across Michael’s mug as she leads him off to rock the freckles off his face.

The kind of Wicked Stepmother all young boys dream of.

It was around this moment I began to wonder just who was the projected market for this film? It’s a wicked stepmother, fairy tale kiddie charm, sure, but the focus is primarily on adult relationships. In fact, Michael is led off to be statutorily raped, and that’s pretty the last we see of the kid with the exception of him showing up for group shots  lasting mere seconds in the final scene. This thing’s obviously not quite for youngins… but the humor is on a pretty even keel for adolescents despite it meandering between adult issues (i.e. marriage difficulties & geriatric homicide) and it’s unchecked childish hokeyness.  99.9 % of the films run time is spent dealing with figuring out how to murder an elderly woman and a married man fantasizing about/having adulterous sex with Tia Carrere’s sister while a writhing cat tail wags around out of her pooper, growing vines in the yard against an painfully-obvious blue screen under the guise of “decorating for the holidays”, answering trivia questions on game shows, and figuring out a way to write Bette Davis out of the movie since she walked off set about two days into production.  The leave was publicly attributed to her disgust with the script, though it was later stated that the true cause was her deteriorating health.

How do they write her out, you ask? Remember Priscilla? Well, she and Miranda apparently share the body of a black cat. But, see, both spirits can’t cohabit in one body at the same time. “There’s no room for two people in one cat!” a witch academy instructor exclaims revealing this terrible piece of plotting. So,  after Miranda’s 11 minutes or so of screen time are up, she vanishes to be replaced by Priscilla.  Don’t fret, gang, the cat Miranda inhabits also smokes as much as she did, so it’s like she never left! In fact, one of the most bizarre moments of the entire film are cutaways to a black cat hand puppet paws holding cigarettes up to it’s little feline mouth and puffing away, it’s unnaturally large, bugged out yellow eyes and dilated pupils nervously darting around in their sockets.

Eventually the detective character shows back up at a clandestine witch class where Jenny also happens to be attending so she can look for answers as to how to get rid of Miranda/Priscilla for good. Priscilla learns a couple words in Latin and is ready to take on Priscilla in head to head in the ultimate blue screen combat! It’s a breathtaking sequence that pulls no punches in the bargain basement action and effects arena.   Will Jenny be able to banish the money hungry witches from her home? Or will her family end up pint-sized, broke, and shoe-boxed? To be honest, I was too busy laughing my ass off to care.

The bottom line is that ‘Wicked Stepmother’ is one of those films that must be seen to be truly understood. It’s terrible. I mean, this thing is bad. This sucker is Samurai Cop, Troll 2 level bad. But it is still ridiculously entertaining. The intended jokes all fall flat on their faces, but it is totally made up for with unintentional hilarity. It’s like some kind of surrealist fever dream that just keeps getting more absurd and illogical as it progresses. None of it makes a lick of sense and there are an abundance of moments that will leave you wondering if you just actually witnessed what you did.  Better Davis’ performance alone make up for the absurdity of the opening portion of the film.  She is never without a cigarette in her hand and recites her dialog in the emotionless drawl of a late 60’s TV robot.  Once Bette departs the film, the hammy acting, and cheese ball effects really become the stars of the show and lift this sucker up onto another plateau of Trash Cinema altogether.

I may have said too much already. I don’t want to spoil this sucker for you. But when I look back lovingly upon ‘Wicked Stepmother’,  no words can really do this acid trip of a film justice.  I’m not sure if exactly if it’s my strong palette for trash that allowed me to enjoy this thing or if it can be experienced by others and be loved just as thoroughly. I was not expecting myself to end up with the affection I now have for this piece of wack-o film making. Please, if you haven’t seen it, do so. And if you have, please, share your thoughts with us here at The Trash Cinema Collective.  Again, in the annals of cinema, there is nothing like ‘Wicked Stepmother’.

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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