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Archive for the 'Movies' Category

Heretic and Flea Collar

Posted by scott on November 22nd, 2010

Sorry for the light posting around here lately, but we’ve been beavering away at the sequel to Better Living Through Bad Movies — anyway, that’s our story. But just to prove we weren’t actually snorting crystal meth off of naked call girls at a Minerals Management Service mixer in the Interior Department Grotto, here’s a piece from the chapter tentatively entitled When Bad Movies Happen to Good People.

Exorcist 2: The Heretic (1977)
Directed by John Boorman
Written by William Goodhart, based on characters by William Peter Blatty

The sense of dread begins with the credits, as blood-red words appear in a black void, while our ears are haunted by the strange and sinister score.  Not quite music, and too eerie to be a human voice, it sounds as though the composer somehow persuaded an elephant to fart into a vuvuzuela.

We open inside the Haunted Shack at Knott’s Berry Farm, which has been filled with twinkly Christmas lights and Richard Burton, who is dressed as a Roman Catholic priest and looking extremely uneasy, as if he expects at any moment to be handed a subpoena.

Richard is there to exorcise a young woman, but he can’t find the right page, and the Bible doesn’t have an index, and while he’s flipping through it the girl sets herself on fire and burns to a crisp right in front of him.  As an exorcist, this represents a personal best.

Cut to Linda Blair tap-dancing as a kid with a limp Shaun Cassidy hair-do honks out “Lullaby of Broadway” on a baritone sax.  Just in case you doubted that Satan is real.

Cut to Louise Fletcher, who is sitting face to face with a teenaged girl and shouting “Debbie!  Debbie!  Debbie! Can you hear me?” into a microphone.  Louise is a distinguished pediatric psychiatrist who is famous for pioneering the technique of screaming at deaf people.  Or she got the lyrics to Tommy wrong.

Linda breezes into Louise’s office, which for some reason is on the Space: 1999 set, and stretches out on the couch.  Louise asks Linda if she has flashbacks to the earlier, better film, then shows her “a machine we can use together,” which gives me flashbacks to Requiem for a Dream.

Fortunately, it’s just an AM radio with a couple of flashbulbs on top, which will put them in synchronized hypnotic trances so doctor and patient can make each other cluck like chickens.

Cut to the Vatican, where Cardinal Victor Lazlo orders Father Richard to investigate the death of Max von Sydow in the original film.  But Dick doesn’t want to do it because his faith in God has been shaken, and he’d rather it was a cocktail.  But then Cardinal Victor says “we all have a destiny – for good, or evil,” and he lights two cigarettes and gives one to Dick, and they decide not to ask for the moon, because they have the stars.

Cut to the Moonbase Alpha set, where Father Richard is staring through a window at disabled children.  Linda notices Dick, and stops to smile at him in apple-cheeked, sparkle-eyed delight, because she’s just so gosh-darned cute and nice, or because it’s been an awful long time – maybe too long – since she’s killed a priest.

Father Richard tells Louise he wants to question Linda, because Evil is “alive, living.  Perverted and perverting.”  That’s Linda’s cue, and she barges into the office to announce that she wants to use the machine with Louise, and she wants the priest to watch, because they can make a lot more money with a two-girl show.

The next day, Linda sits in Louise’s office, wearing a headband of electrodes and what appears to be Stevie Nicks’ wedding dress, while Father Richard stands over her looking worried about Evil and kind of hungover.  Then Louise turns on a strobe light bright enough to give Satan a headache, and he’s not even in the room yet.  Linda stares at it for three seconds, then her eyes roll back in her head; perhaps she’s having an epileptic fit due to the flashing light, or perhaps Louise has hypnotized her to be really sarcastic.

Louise slips on a headband and keeps telling Linda to “make your tone go deeper,” getting my hopes up that she’ll spend the rest of the film talking like Barry White.  Instead, director John Boorman points the strobe light at the camera while Louise murmurs, “You will remember none of this,” presumably addressing the critics.

Louise orders Linda to go “deeper…deeper,” then says, “Now I want to come down and be with you.”  She adds, “We will obey the commands that Father Richard gives us.”  This is the worst phone sex ever.

There’s a flashback to the first movie, with Linda in demonface and Max von Sydow having a coronary.  Except it’s not actually footage from The Exorcist, since it’s clearly Linda’s body double in the makeup, and Max’s ostensibly fatal heart attack seems about as serious as one of Fred Sanford’s.

After it’s all over, Linda borrows art supplies from an emotionally disturbed child so she can draw a picture of Father Richard with his head on fire.

“What does it mean?” Richard whispers, clearly worried that it means he’s going to die and go to Hell, or worse, live long enough to appear in Ghost Rider.  Then it suddenly hits him, and he realizes that the fire in his portrait means there’s a fire in the basement, because to Linda, his head symbolizes a dark, moist place filled with canned peaches and porn.  He runs downstairs, finds a flaming cardboard box in a closet, and smacks it repeatedly with a crutch.


Happy Birthday, Sting!

Posted by scott on October 2nd, 2010

Amazon offered the following party planning notion in an email yesterday, and if I had any doubts about who the online retailing giant likes better, me or Sting, this pretty much clears it up.  Still, I’m trying to take their suggestion in the spirit in which it was offered, but I can’t figure out how to virtually flip them off (I’m sure there’s an appropriate emoticon, but giving someone the finger digitally just seems redundant).  So instead of watching The Bride again (because, what with working on the sequel and all, we have fresh hells to visit), I thought I’d put on a little Kool and the Gang and just post our summary of it from .

The Bride (1985)
Directed by: Franc Roddam
Written by: Lloyd Fonvielle

Tagline:  ”A woman born of electricity…a man driven by passion!”

This film stars Sting, and is probably the best example you’ll ever find of Police brutality.

It’s a dark and stormy night.  Baron von Frankensting is sitting around his ancestral home, Schloss Kardboard Kutout, playing “Mousetrap!” with Quentin Crisp and a crash test dummy.  For some reason, the game causes Frankensting’s Monster to experience nocturnal emissions, so they pack it in and decide to electrocute Jennifer Beals instead.  True to the genre, a bolt of lightning succeeds in giving unholy life to her corpse, but it frizzes out her hair something awful.

The newly animated Jennifer loses a game of “Mystery Date,” and the Monster promptly arrives at the lab door to pick her up.  It seems that Frankensting is a sort of necrophiliac’s Chuck Woolery, but his matchmaking doesn’t go very well.  Rejected and emasculated, the Monster flees the castle and stumbles blindly into the forest, where he attends a John Bly workshop and attempts to get in touch with his inner corpse.

The Baron, we now learn, is a radical feminist who hopes to use Jennifer to create “the New Woman.”  Equal and assertive.  Fearless as a man.  Able to bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.

Frankensting sits by the fire, contemplating his utopia of sexual equality, when Jennifer toddles in stark naked, squats at his feet, and begins sucking her fingers.  The Baron reassesses his priorities.

Meanwhile, in a cave somewhere in the Alps, the Monster receives relationship counseling from a dwarf.

Frankensting gives Jennifer the Eliza Doolittle treatment, and her education progresses swiftly.  Soon she has learned to wear a hoop skirt and spin rapidly in a circle until she projectile vomits.  But somewhere in Bavaria, at that very same moment, the Monster becomes urpy, thus proving that there is a psychic link between the Baron’s two creations, or that the curried wurst the Monster had at Oktoberfest isn’t agreeing with him.

Frankensting takes Jennifer on a field trip to a mausoleum, and a pleasant time is had by all, picking through the loose femurs and ulnas.  But the Baron becomes insanely jealous over Jennifer’s infatuation with a rotting skull, and refuses to show her his bone.

By this point, Jennifer has become sufficiently refined that the Baron and Colonel Pickering decide to take her to the Embassy Ball, where she meets the extremely blond Cary Elwes, who is dressed in a Prussian Hussar’s uniform and looking slightly more Aryan than Beowulf.  Predictably, Frankensting becomes jealous of Cary’s skull, and runs off to hide in his secret fort and smoke crack.

Later, in an astonishing scientific breakthrough, the Baron invents glitter, and throws a party to celebrate.  But when he peeks into the master suite and finds Jennifer and Cary making out, he goes ballistic, because his parents are coming home soon and he told everybody to stay out of their bedroom.

Even later, Jennifer goes to Cary’s house, and in a tender, erotic scene, they strip down to see which one of them has the frilliest underwear.  This triggers the creatures’ psychic link, and the Monster, who lies chained and rotting in a dungeon somewhere, finds his nipples becoming perky.

All this talk of engorged nipples finally proves too much for the Baron, and he snaps, becoming so sexually abusive toward Jennifer that Louisiana Senator David Vitter tries to hire him as his chief of staff.  Suddenly, the Monster bursts into the room to rescue her, but has second thoughts when the Baron chases after him with a torch.  They run all over the castle in a weird, pyromaniacal Benny Hill sketch, until Frankensting, after several attempts, finally succeeds in falling off the tower.  And while the Baron’s death doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, it does answer a question the audience has been asking with increasingly impatience for the last 90 minutes:  Sting, where is thy Death?

As the superimposed face of a dwarf looks on and recites weird platitudes like Obi-Wan Kenobi, the two reanimated lovers go to Venice, where their rotting bodies cause a cholera epidemic that winds up killing Gustav von Aschenbach.  The End.

Piranha 3D: Filleted By Fish

Posted by scott on August 29th, 2010

D.Sidhe was kind enough to give WO’C first crack at publishing her review of Piranha 3D, and naturally we leaped from the water and snapped at it. Enjoy!

You know, I’d say I was disappointed with Piranha 3D, but that would require me having expected it to be good cinema or filmed with an actual script or something. It was 90 minutes of naked tits, in 3D. The second half, there was blood on them.

In terms of plot-oriented-excuse-for-blood-and-nudity, you have an inland lake, a pile of drunken college kids, a female sheriff (Elisabeth Shue), her teenage son (Steven R McQueen), his underten precocious sister and stubborn brother, and some random chick the teenage son sort of likes, and the random chick’s jerk boyfriend. Also, Eli Roth, who is not required to act but merely to spray water on drunken t-shirted college girls (and what the point of that is, I dunno, we’ve got naked fucking tits across the screen for much of the film, and we’re supposed to be in any way interested in clothed ones? Who bothers to hold a wet t-shirt contest with chicks who’ve spent all damned weekend in string bikinis in and out of a lake to begin with? It’s like watching a porno director dismiss the stars to film ten minutes of drawings from bathroom walls). And you have the guy from Sliders, who is pretending to be the guy from Girls Gone Wild with the serial numbers filed off him. (It’s been noted in some reviews that this is an attempt at satire, but I would suggest it’s actually just an excuse for gratuitous sex and violence. Robocop may have managed satire in its over-the-top violence, but this is closer to asking your sister’s friends to take off their shirts so you can satirize men who want women to take off their shirts.)

The creepy director (Jerry O’Connell) hires the teenage son of the sheriff to be his location scout around the lake, despite the teenage son having already agreed to watch the underten siblings. The kids agree to lie to mom and stay home and out of trouble, for cash, of course, and promptly decide to hop into the canoe and go fishing on some little barren island in the lake, thus setting up a future rescue of adorable kids rather than just drunken sluts, who, frankly, mostly do not get saved. See? A moral message!

You also have some random earthquake which releases a bunch of prehistoric piranha into the lake who, while crazed with hunger and attacking everything in their path, actually eat surprisingly little of it, and in The Scene You’ve Already Heard All About actually spit food out. Because, you know, millennia in an underground lake and resorting to cannibalism is one thing, but when someone sets out a buffet, it’s only polite to try a little of everything.

Without spoiling it too badly, I will say Eli Roth would probably have wanted to go that way, though he might have preferred going the way that guy from Sliders did. Elisabeth Shue has three kids and no discernible belly, to my partner’s delight. And, holy fuck, people, they make transparent swim fins for a reason! For THAT reason! That reason right there, the two naked chicks making out underwater with the stupid blue flippers on. Man, spend a little cash.

Everybody dies who you’d expect to die (Another pointed theme of the movie: Men who refer to women as “bitch” will die, and people who try to save themselves rather than others mostly will die as well. Who says horror can’t be morally upstanding?), and also a whole lot of people you never see before they die, and now I’m considering a theory that there’s a specific number of people you can kill in a horror movie to hit the sweet spot between too-few-boredom and too-many-boredom. I mean, apocalypse movies are different, having the whole world end seems disturbing on some level, but when they’re killing several hundred people in ten minutes or so, you basically don’t give a damn after the first dozen or so, especially not if they’re people you know damned well you’d fucking hate to begin with. Also, attn: directors. When you’ve got fish killing and maiming several hundred people in ten minutes, it’s fairly stupid to (almost) pause the carnage around minute seven so you can play sad music and kill someone you think we’re supposed to care about. Because, you know, we really won’t.

The resolution of all this caused actual groans of annoyance from the people sitting behind us, being the sort of plan MacGyver might come up with after repeated head trauma. It’s basically the same ending as Piranha 2, with added stupid. (My God, what they can do with advanced movie technology nowadays!)

Also, try not to let your marketing people fuck up the last scare by stuffing it in all the damned commercials.

None of which is to say I didn’t like it. It definitely benefits from low expectations, and I personally will watch anything that involves aquatic creatures eating humans, because I am easily amused. Piranha 3D isn’t My Dinner with Andre, but it’s not Mansquito either, and it is absolutely watchable if bafflingly high budget. To be scrupulously fair about the movie, when it was over I couldn’t remember any lines from it, and neither could my partner. Just an awful lot of boobs and blood. We remember laughing, and at things that were even intentionally funny, but don’t remember what any of them were. So it’s a great movie if you’re looking to waste a couple hours in an amusing and entirely pointless way.

It would actually probably be the best piranha movie I’ve seen if I was, you know, really into blondes or big tits, but I’m not. My nod still goes to Siffy Channel’s Mega Piranha, starring Greg Brady and what turns out to be a surprisingly hot aging Popstar Tiffany (After seeing this one and Debbie Gibson in Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, I can’t wait for them to cast Britney Spears opposite a hoard of slowly invading venomous sea cucumbers), if only because of the sheer missing-the-pointness of the whole piranha concept. Look, piranha are scary because they’re small enough to sneak up on you, and while one can’t do that much damage, they tend to bring their buddies. If you have piranha big enough to leap from a river and destroy buildings and bridges and naval destroyers, you wind up with a movie where most of their victims die from being crushed, and you have to wonder why they didn’t just CG in, say, meteorites or rains of elephants or something. Killer bees, for example, are scary. But if you’re alone with one of them the size of a polar bear, how much scarier is that than simply being in a room with a pissed off polar bear? Decide what kind of money shot rampage you want your beasts to go on before you pick a genus, is all I’m saying. Especially when the plotlike pseudoreason you’ve decided to go with is, “Well, we wanted to make giant fish to feed the hungry! So, you know, gigantic pack killers who’ve been known to attack humans! I mean, sure, pacu might taste better–or even, say, cows–but what’s the fun in that?” (If you haven’t seen it, do try. Tiffany can’t act and toward the end simply dissolves into a puddle of her own hilarious melodrama, screaming about how she just wants all the fish dead, in amazing imitation of  13 year old girl “I hate you! I wish I was adopted!” tantrums.)

My partner wishes to note that the very worst most unbearably stupid part of this movie was the scene where Agent Taciturn McJaw is attacked by giant piranha who leap from the water, and defends himself by falling on his back and kicking them away one after the other. Also watch for the magically morphing getaway cars in the jungle chase scenes. Given Mega Piranha‘s provenance ( The Asylum–yes, the people who just announced they’ve signed Urkel to star in Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus) it’s possible at least some of the laughs were intentional.

Piranha 3D is inexplicably referred to by assorted reviewers as a remake of the 1978 Joe Dante-directed Piranha (now rereleased on DVD without closed captions), which I guess it sort of is, if you assume they were concerned about being sued for infringement if their plot made any sense. (Director Alexandre Aja says it’s not, but who listens to what the director says?) The original movie, you may recall, involved a climax at a summer camp full of underten girls and significantly less–not to say no–nudity, or for that matter violence. Ah, we were more innocent back then, sort of.

Plotwise, Piranha 3D is actually closer to Piranha 2: The Spawning. But I would say James Cameron still gets to keep his line about the best flying killer fish movie ever, since these guys don’t fly, they just sort of jump. Piranha 2, a largely troubled film that is apparently what scared James Cameron off of attempting plots more complicated than his graphic effects, is a passing fancy, most notable for early eighties hair, Lance Henriksen, and fish that squeak and actually flap their pectoral fins to leave the water. It is not without gratuitous nudity, though we now know that there’s a point far beyond gratuitous.

I’m completely ignoring the 1995 remake, as I haven’t seen it and Wikipedia suggests it’s basically new actors reading the 1978 script, with special effects footage actually lifted from the first movie.

I’ve decided not to see anymore movies in 3D, though. I don’t think my brain works that way.  All I got was blurry edges, and flat but layered dimensional effects. It was like ninety minutes of watching crew carry standees of the actors back and forth past each other. Like when your Bible study teacher cut out those pictures of the apostles and pasted them to popsicle sticks for the puppet show, only with T&A and more swearing, though possibly a similar amount of drinking.

In any event, probably the best part of the movie was seeing a great many small children being brought into the theater. It was a matinee, but still. Some eight year old girl was brought in by what was clearly her dad and that friend of her dad’s who her mom thinks is such a bad influence. We moved to sit two rows behind her, because, frankly, I hate kids, and I thought her reactions would be entertaining. In retrospect, we’d have been better off behind the three thirteen-ish boys who were escorted in and abandoned by someone’s mother’s lackadaisical  parenting  skills. They clearly enjoyed the female nudity (giggles, smirky nudges, “Dude, you’re gettin’ a boner, I can see it!”), the male nudity not so much (gagging, farting noises, “That’s gay!”), and The Scene You’ve Already Heard All About had them yelping and hunching over their laps. That said, the kids all clearly knew what they were in for, and none of them seemed unduly traumatized, which, actually, might mean they’re already fucked up beyond where a movie like this can take their little psyches, but there you go.

The saddest part was the trailer for Tron: The Legacy, at which no one in the theater hooted derisively. Really, audience? Really?

You’ll be delighted to know that the guy at BigHollywood with the silly macho name just loved this movie, especially the naked chicks making out underwater, which for whatever reason didn’t annoy him the same way it annoyed me. Either he was willing to overlook the clunky blue swim fins, or he wasn’t actually focusing on the actresses’ feet. Meanwhile, the Movieguide.org people have apparently elected not to review it at all, which is just as well, I suppose, since they think Eat, Pray, Love is going to lead you into new age darkness. Also, their “high” profanity count is 25 instances, which I’m pretty sure we hear in the first three lines of Jerry O’Connell’s dialogue. After twenty five “fucks”,  Ted Baehr probably goes over like a fainting goat and neg-3s your appalling worldview just on principles. If they get around to it, I would expect them to make much outraged note of the fact that Elisabeth Shue’s husband is not in evidence, and possibly to note that the young daughter declares bras unwearably “itchy” as part of its feminist worldview, because they have a way of picking out the weird shit to freak out over.

Focus on the Family’s Pluggedin.com, however, took the hook, and is choosing to look on the bright side, at least briefly–they note that various characters behave heroically in saving the unsaved partiers. Hilariously, they offer as “spiritual content”: “The Wild Wild Girls director whispers to a girl, ‘Your body is a temple and now is the time to give thanks,’  as he licks her bikini-clad and tequila-covered body”. Credit where it’s due, at least they remembered some lines.

The much-touted girl-vomits-at-the-audience-in-3D scene is highly overhyped, but the other Scene You’ve Already Heard All About is gratuitously everything they say it is, even if it makes no real sense. If you want more details, the good folks at themoviespoiler.com provide. There’s also an official movie website piranha-3d.com and, in case you can’t find brief flashes of bare tits anywhere else on the web, a site for the movie’s “Wild Wild Girls” content linked from there. Me, I’m hoping the already-announced sequel (“Piranha 4D: Ad Infinitum” *) will include candiru.

For the record, there are quite a few real life piranha species and some of them… eat fruit. And I have now, in addition to crushing your joy, taught you at least one thing. Unless you already knew that. Lastly, let me show you something pretty, from Ray Troll (No boobies, but if you wander his site you will see a few in paintings, generally in the form of visual puns.) This picture of the prehistoric megapiranha is not yet available on a t-shirt, but lots of other cool things are.

* Yes, I made that up. Not about the sequel, but the title. I’m actually guessing they’ll go with “Piranhas” and skip attempts at sorting out what sequel ordinal this deserves.

Sunday Cinema: Hercules

Posted by scott on August 8th, 2010

The sequel to  is coming along nicely, so Sheri and I thought we’d revive our practice of posting bits and pieces of the work in progress.  Today it’s a selection from our chapter on heroes, legends, and dummi-gods.

Trivia Time:  The Latin word for bear, ursus, comes from the Greek arktos, which means “unlubricated.”

Hercules (1983)
Directed by:  Luigi Cozzi (as Lewis Coates)
Written by:  Luigi Cozzi

The screen is black.  Sadly, it doesn’t stay that way.

An heroic anthem lumbers across the soundtrack, played by the Ambien Philharmonic Orchestra, and conducted by a slow loris.  A deep-voiced, but effeminate narrator (sort of a cross between Darth Vader and Paul Lynde) rumbles at us,

“In the beginning, before Creation, there was darkness.”

$1.75 worth of Black Cat firecrackers explode, indicating that the Big Bang has occurred, and getting some flakes of charred paper stuck on the camera lens.

“From the primordial explosion,” Darth Lynde explains, “Emerged the Fire of Chaos.”  At this performance, the Fire of Chaos will be played by a Kingsford Charcoal Briquet, confirming Stephen Hawking’s theory that the Universe has no boundary in space-time, and that its edges light quickly.

“Chaos merged with Darkness, and from this union were born the elements:  Night, day, matter, and air.”

We’re pretty sure that Night and Day are not elements; nevertheless, we’re willing to split the difference and agree that out of the Primordial Darkness and the Fiery Chaos of Creation, there emerged a pretty catchy Cole Porter tune.

“Then,” the Dark Lord of the Lisp continues, “Out of this misty radiance of the cosmos, there came forth a jar. Golden and glittering.  Pandora’s Jar.”

Pandora’s Jar?  I thought she had a box.  (I know, I know, that’s what she said.)

Then some Minoan hillbillies put Pandora’s Jug on a fence post and take pot shots at it.  It blows up real good.

“From the fragments of the Jar, the planets and the solar system were formed.”  So according to the filmmakers, the Ancient Greeks attributed the origin of the cosmos to the Pottery Barn Rule:  You break it, you create the universe.

Due to layoffs and budget cutbacks, the Greek pantheon has been reduced to three gods, and outsourced to the moon.  This understaffed celestial call center is ruled by Zeus, father of gods and men, lord of creation, and judging by his wig and beard, an off-season Salvation Army Santa with one of those crowns you get when you taste Imperial margarine.

The gods live in a crater, in the middle of an open air (or open vacuum) temple which recalls the majestic architecture of Classical Greece; except the columns look like giant plaster dildos, and appear to be covered in melted wax like Chianti bottles, so it’s sort of like ancient Athens if the Parthenon were a gayer, more fetish-oriented Shakeys.

Zeus creates a champion “who is stronger and more intelligent than all other men,” a process which involves a “Spotlight Dance on Lou Ferrigno!’ while he goes through his Mr. Universe pose down routine in front a green screen.  Ordinarily this would just be horrifying, but Hercules goes the extra mile by having Lou wear a flesh-toned G-string to simulate nudity.  And for those who’ve wondered about the steroids/shrunken genitalia connection, check out the contrast between Lou’s bloated musculature and flat-front thong; it’s like someone grafted Barbie’s crotch onto a Stretch Armstrong doll.

Zeus plays flashlight tag with the earth, before depositing a glowing glob into a baby, in a scene about which the less said, the better.

Sybil Danning, who is dressed like one of King Tut’s molls from the old Batman TV show, conspires with the Captain of the Guard to kill the king and the queen, and the “little Hercules” (apparently Sybil saw Lou in his flesh colored jockstrap).

Before our regicide gets underway, however, the Captain has Viet Nam-like flashbacks to more expensive cheap Hercules movies from the 50s and 60s, with actual costumes and sets and battle scenes.

Meanwhile, an archer with a patent leather do-rag pulls a big sword out of a hibatchi and is rightwise born king of all England as soon as they invent it.

The Captain rallies his troops, and again we get a fresh perspective on the founders of Western Civilization.  In addition to their Illyrian helmets, Boeotian shields, and bronze spears, Greek soldiers were also equipped with Bedazzlers, judging by the generous use of rhinestones on their armor.  Apparently there’s a previously unnoticed footnote to the Iliad which reads, “Fashions by Bob Mackie.”

So the royal family is slaughtered, but a maid snatches up “Poor Little Prince Hercules” and flees through the forest, although according to the Foley artist she’s running through corn flakes with a goat in her arms.

She puts Baby Hercules in a boat and sends him drifting down the river, where he bumps into Moses going the other way.  The boat drifts past some View-Master slides, then goes over a waterfall, but the infant is saved at the last moment when his boat is caught in mid air by a giant cartoon hand from Monty Python.

Hera is one of the three remaining gods and is pissed that she has to work a double shift, so she sends two snakes to kill Hercules.  And when I say “snakes,” I mean “two yard long turds that have been flocked like Christmas trees and spray-painted the color of split-pea soup, then given two bicycle reflectors for eyes.”  It doesn’t work out.

Herc is plucked from the river by two Greek peasants who live in the Flintstone’s house for some reason (possibly Fred was laid off from the quarry after the transition from stone to bronze tools, and he and Wilma walked away from their mortgage.  Or maybe Dino matured into a velociraptor and learned how to open the front door).

Herc’s foster mother is barren, but likes to press the infant to her dry breast just to mess with him.  Nevertheless, he grows up into big ‘n tall Lou Ferrigno, who mercifully trades in his invisible G-string for a Naugahyde diaper.

Herc is out in the forest, harvesting Styrofoam trees, when his father is mauled by stock footage of a bear.  Hercules is so enraged that he screams and punches the camera, then throws a Build-A-Bear into orbit.  It collides with a bone hurled by a slightly more intelligent hominid from 2001: A Space Odyssey, then the murderous plush toy explodes into a Laser Floyd show, finally settling down and becoming the constellation of Ursa Major.

Meanwhile, Minos has abandoned Crete and is also now living on the Moon (it’s getting really built up over there), where he has been crowned king of an exterior set from Star Trek.  He uses the transporter to summon Dedalus, who in this version of the myth is an alien chick dressed in a plastic unitard and a shower curtain with a cellophane Dracula collar, a codpiece, green spray-painted cowboy boots, and a golden leather football helmet with fish fins.

Minos believes in Science!, so he commands Dedalus to create some mechanical monsters which can destroy Hercules.  She responds with some Mexican Day of the Dead figurines and a Millennium Falcon model someone assembled while on acid, then burned in the driveway.

Back on Earth, Hercules is plowing a field by dragging some rocks behind him.  Weaker men might have preferred to plow using something with an edge on it – like a plow – but Herc likes to flaunt his demi-godly strength, and frequently uses rocks in place of ordinary household items, like forks, or toilet paper.

Suddenly, Hercules’s friend Mulletus gallops over the hill and screams, “Your mother is in danger!”  Then he turns and trots off.   Herc’s expression is rather blank, but he undoubtedly appreciates Mullutus telling him that his mom is about to be killed.  He probably would have appreciated a ride even more.

By the time Hercules arrives, his foster mother has been killed by an infernal machine (it’s supposed to recall the mechanical owl from Clash of the Titans grown to Brobdignagian proportions, but it more closely resembles a Norelco shaver made out of Legos and despair).

After an implied fight with the Tinker Toy monster thing, Herc cremates his mother, then torches the Flintstone place.  Mulletus asks why he’s burning down his own house, and Herc replies, “I don’t have a house anymore.”  Well, no, now that you’ve just set it on fire.

Hercules goes off to audition for some king (I think his name is Brad) who’s looking for bodybuilders with a minimal amount of stage combat training.  Our hero doesn’t seem to qualify, but his Fairy Godeditor helps out by enchanting Herc’s sword, so that whenever he smacks someone it burps out a crappy video effect.

Next, Hercules must fight twenty men at once.  Unfortunately, he never learned the complicated rules of Greco-Roman wrestling, so he just picks up a giant log and crushes everybody.  Then he hurls the log into deep space, where it becomes the Duraflame constellation.

The king’s daughter Cassiopea wears a veil, because it is foretold that she will marry the first man who sees her face, or maybe because she just hasn’t waxed her mustache lately.  She’s Greek, after all.  The king subcontracts Hercules to escort Casio to Athens, but first he has to clean all the horseshit out of the stable, then see what he can do about rinsing some of it out of the script.

Herc tosses a rock into the Grand Canyon, which somehow makes the Colorado River take an elevator to the top and drown all the horses.  It also turns the stable into a sparkling gay bathhouse

The mildew-free tile and wet, dead horses arouse Calliope, and she removes her veil in slow motion.  She and Herc stare at each other blankly for a minute, then they kiss; but suddenly, a badly superimposed Zeus appears and shoots a lightning bolt at them from his forehead.  Then Sybil Danning shows up in a formal swimsuit and has the unconscious lovers taken aboard her ship.

You know those majestic triremes people in Hercules movies are always sailing around the world?  Well, they can’t afford one of those, so instead we just get to watch Herc go swimming (apparently he was thrown overboard in lieu of chum).

Herc washes ashore on that island where H.R. Puffnstuf is mayor, and is immediately molested by Witchiepoo.  She takes him to the Cave Room at the Madonna Inn and tests him for steroids and diabetes, then drinks his blood sample and transforms from a hideous crone into a beautiful maiden!  Or at least into a pleasant-looking woman in her thirties without a lot of dried rubber cement on her face.

Cut to the Los Angeles County Arboretum, where Circe (for it is indeed she!) and Hercules are standing beside a waterfall.

“This,” Herc exclaims, “is a Garden of Eden!”  Apparently it’s the beta version.

Circe was exiled to this Sandals Resort by Minos, but she can help Hercules find Callista if he will only help her to recover a lost talisman.  “We need the charm, to carry us wherever we want to go,” she tells him.  “Even to Thera!”  Which is where Sybil took the kidnapped, Chlamydia.  Unfortunately, “they threw it where no one could possible get it.”

But Hercules can get it.  All he’ll need is both hands and a flashlight…

Meanwhile, Casserole is imprisoned in one of those cardboard jails where people pay “fines” to get “bailed out” at Rotary Club fundraisers.

Circe leads Herc across the “Rainbow Bridge,” which leads to “the Gates of Hell.”  They don’t find his girlfriend or the charm, but they are greeted by lots of dead pets.

Charon, the skull-faced boatman ferries them across the Styx (at this performance the role of the River Styx will be played by a cement floor and a fog machine) to “Skull Island,” where they can presumably rescue Princess Tiger Lily.

Circe and Herc find her talisman; it’s in a big plastic Easter egg on a papier-maché nest, but it’s “protected by a triple barrier,” according to Circe.  Herc reaches for the egg, which makes his hand disappear, and weird electronic music play, so apparently two of the three barriers are a process shot and a Theremin.

Herc reaches for the egg again, and this time his arm bursts into flame and burns cheerily like the WPIX Yule Log.  Then it freezes.  Then he reaches inside the egg (which is squishy – apparently ickiness was the third barrier) and pulls out a Christmas ornament.  And just in time for the holidays!

Okay, so now they can go find Cassette, right?  Nope.  Circe uses the talisman to transport them to the set of a Beach Party movie, where Herc has to fight the King of Africa, who arrives on a sedan chair borne by the Washington Generals.

The King offers to give our hero a ride to Thera, but only if the demi-god agrees to irrigate the land, because apparently Herc went to Agricultural college.  This could take awhile, so Circe transforms Hercules into Ultraman, and he grows large and tall enough that we really can’t help but look up his skirt.  Thanks Circ.

Unfortunately, one upskirt shot and Circle falls in love with Hercules, which makes her lose all her powers.  But they accidentally arrive at their destination anyway –  “the Green Isle of Thera,” so named because everything is shot with a green filter.  And wouldn’t you know, the instant they arrive, Circe is shot with a laser by – I’m not kidding – a robot Cyclops centaur.  Hercules smacks the thing around until it makes a sound like a 1970 Plymouth Duster swallowing a valve, and then, in it’s death throes, it performs anal sex on itself with its own tail.

I’m still not kidding.

Herc breaks into the Green Lantern Corps’ central power battery for some reason, then falls down a hole.

Meanwhile, Sybil takes Cassavetes to her father, who turns out to be that Minos guy from the Moon.  He watches Herc futz around inside a snowglobe for awhile, then suddenly stands and shouts, “Science!” like Thomas Dolby if he were dressed like an Amish Burger King.

Herc wakes up chained to the floor, just as Sybil arrives with a chalice full of “The Black Lotus” and tells Herc they’re going to get high and then boink.  But for probably the first time in the history of these movies, Hercules doesn’t actually drink the roofie.  Instead, he pulls off the fake chains, and then actually fights some opponents who weren’t made out of miss-matched Aurora model kits and added later in post production.

Minos takes Cass Sunstein into Mount Doom, where he plans to stuff her into a picnic basket and lower her into the lava.  She seems okay with this, probably because the “lava” appears to be Campbell’s tomato soup on a low simmer.

Herc arrives, freshly unboinked, and goes mano a mano with Minos.  But the king is armed with a glowing, flaming, multi-colored sword that’s kind like a light saber if they came in Neopolitan flavor.

Since our two foes are elderly and lumbering, respectively, it’s not exactly the climax of the 1938 Robin Hood.  But Herc does accidentally make the volcano erupt with stock footage, setting fire to the entire island, and killing hundreds of extras from other, less cheap Hercules movies.  Castrol and Herc panic and run around the tiny set, while we cut to shots of burning Styrofoam pyramids and hear the ADR folks shrieking gamely from the looping stage.

So, Herc has managed to kill everybody on the island, but he did get the girl.  He just doesn’t seem to know what to do with her.  Mama Cassiopea tries to give him a kiss, but he deflects it and retaliates with a little pack-patting hug.  Then they suddenly shoot into the stars, where they become the Just Good Friends constellation.

I went with our friend PJ to a screening of The Last Airbender the other night and yes, indeed, it gave me the bends.  So now while I lie helpless in a hyperbaric chamber, trying to steal a bit more of the covers from Michael Jackson’s corpse, Peej has struck back with another of her classic One Minute Movie Reviews.

Click and enjoy the schadenfreude (then scroll down for her learned appreciation of the other Avatar).

He Just Didn’t Care

Posted by scott on May 12th, 2010


Friends of the blog are a pair of film-savvy, smart-mouthed stoners who specialize in dissecting movies so bad they can actually piss off a stoner. (They’re also the creators of my favorite non-Simon Pegg, 6-minute zombie flick: Surprise.)

Season 2 of their movie review show launched with a vivisection by video of The Vampire Bat (in which they were kind enough to cite as an influence or an irritant) and they’ve just posted their second episode, which takes on Larry Buchanan’s masterpiece-of-shit, It’s Alive, starring Tommy Kirk.

its alive tommy kirk.jpg

MST3K fans will fondly recall Buchanan’s The Attack of the the [sic] Eye Creatures, which, along with It’s Alive, was one of eight made-for-TV quickies the director cranked out down in Texas in the Sixties, most of them remakes of only slightly-less-cheap monster and sci-fi films that were cranked out in California in the Fifties. These included Zontar, the Thing from Venus, a retread of the Peter Graves/Beverly Garland anti-classic It Conquered the World, and Mars Needs Women, also starring Tommy Kirk, which we wrote about in BLTBM, in the chapter entitled Weird Sex, or: Making the Beast with Two Backs with the Beast with Two Backs.

Over the course of his baffling career, Buchanan proved himself a master of the unconvincing creature effect, but he surpassed all previous high water marks of hackery in It’s Alive, which I fervently contend features the single worst monster in the history of moving images, and I’m including a flipbook I made in Second Grade about a carnivorous fire hydrant that traps people like flies by spraying maple syrup, and whose mortal enemy is a baseball bat-wielding dog on a bicycle. Anyway, the thing that’s alive in It’s Alive is a forced perspective “dinosaur” that looks like a cross between Kulka and Ollie, and this doesn’t even begin to describe the horror. Seriously. It makes The Giant Claw look like that thing from Cloverfield.

So if you’ve got a moment, drop by and share a little THC-buffered outrage with the boys:

It’s Alive, Part 1

It’s Alive, Part 2

Bill S. Walks a Mile in Rob Lowe’s Christmas Shoes

Posted by scott on December 31st, 2009

I’ve got a treat for you, kids. Today we’re fortunate to be visited by longtime Wo’C guest columnist Bill S., scourge of wingnut movies and critics alike, who had the nerve to go where I feared to tread this year. Take it away, Bill!

Earlier this month, the Lifetime Movie Network treated us to a heartwarming trio of films aired back-to-back: , a made-for-TV movie inspired by the Worst. Christmas. Song. Ever., followed by its two sequels, The Christmas Blessing and The Christmas Hope.

[Note from Scott: It appears that the movie, The Christmas Shoes was based on a novel, which was based on a song -- at least, that's the lineage according to author Donna Van Liere, and why would a writer lie about swiping her literary premise from the crappiest Christmas carol ever (unless she's just trying to shift the blame a bit)?]

I taped them all, with the intention of offering a review of all three in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, I was only able to get through the first one, so the other two will have to wait til next Christmas. Something to look forward to, I suppose. Even more unfortunately, I still hadn’t finished writing the first draft by Christmas day, so you’ll excuse my tardiness. You might think of this as a package that arrived a bit late. Or maybe a fabulous post-holiday markdown. Or a slice of leftover, moldy fruitcake. I like to think it’s all three…

Our story begins, fittingly enough, in a cemetery. Rob Lowe is visiting his mother’s grave on Christmas Eve. The only other visitor is a mysterious young man in a baseball cap, standing at another grave just a few feet away. Who could he be? We don’t know yet, but we soon will, as the film flashes back to a Christmas many years ago…

It’s 1985, although many of the cars, and Rob Lowe’s face, are clearly from two decades later. Rob is a lawyer, and his wife Kate is a stay-at-home mom who looks after their daughter Lily. They seem to have a perfect life, except he’s such a busy, workaholic yuppie he has no time to enjoy the small, incidental pleasures like attending his daughter’s concert recitals, or actually talking to his wife. What a tool.

Lily begs him to attend her next concert, and Rob promises her he will. His conviction is so strong, so clear, that we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that he will screw up and miss it. While in town for some important lawyering, a delivery truck whizzes by him and a package drops out the back and hits the ground by his feet, flying open. Rob picks it up to examine its contents: a pair of tacky red women’s shoes with little sprigs of holly drawn on them. CHRISTMAS SHOES! Noting they aren’t his style (he actually DOES say this), he tries to return them to the truck, which by this time is about half a mile away. His attempt to return the box consists of standing in the same spot, holding one shoe aloft and saying, in a slightly louder tone, “Hey!” What a tool.

Later, he passes the home of Maggie Andrews (Kimberly Williams). She’s out in the front yard, teaching her son Nathan the finer points of hurling footballs at moving vehicles. Rob gives her pointers and departs. Nathan races his mother back to the house, but Maggie seems to be having trouble keeping up. Her pace gets slower and her breathing gets shallow, which either indicates that she’s got a Movie-of-the-Week disease of the week, or she’s just trying to match the director’s tone, since most of this movie is slow and shallow.

Maggie’s husband, Jack, is a schlubby auto mechanic. Nathan pleads with him for a puppy, and his mother supports this. Jack, however, shoots down the idea by going into Nathan’s room and hauling out a bowl containing a pair goldfish floating belly-up. He declares Nathan “irresponsible,” which is ironic coming from a guy who let his son keep a pair of dead fish in his bedroom for two weeks.


Speaking of Speaking Ill of the Dead…

Posted by scott on December 22nd, 2009

Via Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, I see that veteran character actor (and the man from whose dandruff Eddie Deezen was cloned) Arnold Stang has passed on to the great adenoidal void at the age of 91. One of the films Ivan mentions which Stang appeared in, and hopefully won’t be remembered for, is Hercules in New York, which we subjected to the treatment back in 2007. Therefore, consider this, if you will, a tribute, rather than a rerun.

Hercules in New York (1970)


You can tell your film career isn’t off to an auspicious start when you’re playing the title character, and you still get second billing behind the voice of Top Cat.

Our story opens at the summit of Mount Olympus, where the Greek gods, in their limitless wisdom, have chosen to live on the steps of a community college library on Long Island. Arnold Schwarzenegger (”Arnold Strong” in the credits) is Hercules, a demi-god celebrated in myth and ballad for his ability to recite lines phonetically. On earth, Hercules was lauded as the mightiest of warriors, while on Olympus he is chiefly famous for showing off his veiny, trunk-like thighs in a side-slit mini skirt.

Hercules is bored in the realm of the gods, but Zeus will not permit him to visit earth, because, “these mortals are bedeviled by as aggravating a collection of annoyances as it’s possible for one to imagine,” so adding Arnold to the situation would just be gilding the lily. When it’s pointed out to Hercules that he’s only a demi-god anyway, and should quit putting on airs, Arnold slowly recites, “My father may have been a mortal, but you Zeus, my father, are a god.” So, Hercules Has Two Daddies.

Under the circumstances it’s forgivable that the star doesn’t understand English, but you’d think that kind of thing would have disqualified the screenwriter. Especially since he then starts mixing up the Greek and Roman pantheons (Zeus is king of the Gods, but is married to Jupiter’s wife, Juno, which doesn’t make any sense unless we happened to catch the gods while they were competing on the hit ABC reality series, Wife Swap.). Finally, Herc can’t stand it anymore and jumps off the mountain. He lands on the wing of a Pan-Am airliner, pausing just long enough to scare the crap out of William Shatner, before hopping off again.

Hercules splashes down, and the next thing we know, he’s aboard a tramp freighter—naked and glistening—toweling his massive physique in front of the crew and their flinty-eyed captain. If the filmmakers had chosen this moment to give up on the whole ancient-hero-in-modern-times scenario, and just make a gay porn version of Jack London’s “The Sea Wolf,” I think we all would have been a lot better off.

Unfortunately, they stick to their game plan, and Hercules jumps ship in New York. In keeping with the classic myths, he immediately encounters pretzel vendor Arnold Stang, whom the filmmakers call, with malice aforethought, “Pretzie.” At first glance, they would seem to have little in common—the wormy, adenoidal peddler and the unintelligible slab of waxed beef—but they bond over their equally annoying voices.

Herc and Stang embark on one of those Legendary Journeys that Kevin Sorbo milked for four years in first run syndication. Except, instead of engaging in epic battle with Cerberus or the Nemean Lion, Hercules pits his brawn against a junior college track and field team working out on a softball diamond in the Sheep Meadow, because the special effects budget is a little skimpy.

Meanwhile, comely co-ed Helen and her father, The Professor, sit in the bleachers watching her track star boyfriend, Rod. Helen, with her pert nose and long, center-parted brunette hair does a credible job of pretending to be Ali McGraw, but then blows it later in the film by refusing to die of leukemia.

Helen invites Herc and Stang over for tea. When Rod arrives arrives, Hercules asks, “is he your lover?” Both Rod and Helen are scandalized (in 1970, the Sexual Revolution was going strong in bohemian haunts like Fresno and Wheaton, Illinois, but apparently it had yet to hit Manhattan). Rod demands satisfaction, but since they appear to be filming in the producer’s grandmother’s apartment, and Grandma has lots of porcelain knick-knacks, they can’t afford to stage a fight scene. So Hercules violently yanks Rod off his feet, and then cradles him gently against his bosom, while Helen screams and Stang hops up and down. And thus does this battle take its place amongst the legendary Labors of Hercules—the slaying of Anteus, the destruction of the many-headed Hydra, and the breast-feeding of Rod.

Naturally, Helen immediately agrees to have dinner with Herc, and later to take a ride in a hansom cab through Central Park. Suddenly, a man in the worst bear costume since Santa Claus Conquers the Martians appears beside the cab. Herc immediately leaps out and begins an inter- (or intra-) species smackdown. Helen screams, “Beat him up!” She’s off camera, so it’s not clear whom she’s addressing, but one assumes it’s the bear. She watches the two ursine antagonists wrestle for a moment, then has an orgasm (no, I’m not kidding) and falls back against the upholstery, spent and dewy.

Arnold finally works his hand inside the costume, but can’t find a breast, and he goes berserk, beating the ersatz bruin into a bathmat. Instantly, the WWE comes calling, and a newspaper from one of those Make Your Own Headline booths at Coney Island informs us that Hercules is now Champion of the World.

Meanwhile, on Mount Olympus, Zeus sits upon his throne, serene and majestic, except when a co-ed who’s late for an eight o’ clock class runs down the steps and clips him in the head with her backpack. Otherwise, all is well in the mystical abode of these all-powerful beings, as demented young women in filmy togas run around on the grass, bouzouki tapes from a Greek restaurant play relentlessly on the soundtrack, and Audra from The Big Valley serves cocktails.

Unfortunately, down on earth, Hercules is consorting with Vince McMahon, pretzel salesmen, and Ali McGraw impersonators, so Zeus orders Mercury to take Hercules a Pick-Me-Up bouquet. Ah, the viewer senses, at last, the filmmakers will deliver a battle royale between two legendary warriors endowed with powers of cosmic proportion! Let the combat commence!

Cut to Hercules, who takes some snapshots at Rockefeller Center, then has coffee and a bagel at the Automat. Mercury, having apparently missed his cue for the fight scene, finally shows up and stages an intervention. Herc takes it about as well as Charlie Sheen usually does, and Zeus dispatches Nemesis to open an amphora of whup-ass on Hercules. But Juno intercepts Nemesis, and gives her a mood ring that will render Hercules both mortal and mellow.

Stripped of his demi-divinity, Herc is now vulnerable to Juno’s malice. She immediately sets in motion a cunning plan to kill Hercules by…I’m not sure, actually. It has something to do with Hercules losing a weight lifting contest on a TV variety show that’s filmed in front of a shower curtain. And even though we’re not sure what the hell is going on, we suspect that no good can come from this, since nothing good has come from anything else in the movie, especially the opening credits. Anyway, during the power lifting, Hercules sustains a rupture of heroic proportions, and is forced to flee the TV studio, clutching his groin and pursued by the Mafia.

In the Elysian environs of Olympus, Great Zeus is displeased by this turn of fate. At least, I think he is—it’s hard to tell, because most of the dialogue is being drowned out by the sound of nearby cars honking.

Herc runs outside and just happens to discover an unattended chariot parked at the curb (well, they’re easier to find at rush hour than a cab). Herc cracks the whip and drives his two-horse two-wheeler through Times Square (passing a movie theater showing Easy Rider), and then he cruises aimlessly around for awhile, rendering it unclear whether the movie is ripping off the chariot race from Ben-Hur, or the Amish buggy scene from Witness.

Thanks to a jump cut, Herc is now in Central Park, where Helen and the Professor are being chased down by Mobsters, one of whom has apparently borrowed his mom’s station wagon for the day (sure, the modern capo shows a predilection for late model black sedans, but in 1970 the Mafia’s car of choice was apparently the cream-colored Country Squire).

By this time, however, the wheels are coming off the chariot (as well as the movie), so our hero and Pretzie jump into the backseat of the Professor’s car. Almost instantly, Helen shouts, “We’re out of gas,” followed by a moment of pure terror as we realize the rest of the movie may consist of Herc and Stang making out.

Mercifully, they go into a warehouse instead, where Hercules gets his ass kicked by a pick-up group of thugs. Suddenly, Atlas and Sampson appear! Or rather, a beefy guy wearing the bottom half of a monk’s habit, and another dressed like Fred Flintstone show up, and start smacking around the crooks while our hero scrambles onto a pile of boxes and cowers.

(By the way—Sampson? It’s one thing to mix up the Greek and Roman gods into some kind of Reese’s Peanut Butter Pantheon, but now we’ve got characters out of the Old Testament? Who’s going to show up next? Gilgamesh? Jesus? The Dukes of Hazard?)

Anyway, Herc gets his strength back and immediately rips off Sampson’s act by pushing over two stacks of empty cardboard boxes, which apparently frightens off all the thugs, because suddenly the fight is over.

We cut to Olympus, where Hercules is concluding the tale of his earthly adventures. “It all sounds revoltingly noisy,” Juno sniffs, and we’re forced to agree, since she has to shout to be heard above the off screen traffic.

So there you go, fans of 300 and Victor Davis Hanson. To the ancient Greeks, heaven is filled with scheming, immortal harridans and mini-skirted lummoxes who talk like Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles. On the bright side, Mount Olympus — judging by the soundtrack – is convenient to schools, shopping, and the Long Island Expressway.

R.I.P., Pretzie.

Zardoz It Hurt?

Posted by scott on March 20th, 2009

I’m starting to finally feel a bit better, but not yet sound enough to survive an expedition to Townhall or RenewAmerica, so I hope you’ll all forgive me for dipping into the archives and presenting another encore.  Back in 2006, longtime friend of the blog D.Sidhe suggested that we give the BLTBM treatment to John Boorman’s celebrated masterpiece of cinematic What-The-Fuckery, Zardoz, and like an idiot, I fell for it.  Enjoy…!
Zardoz (1974)
Directed by:  John Boorman (at his most Boorish)
Written by: John Boorman

Our story opens in a style reminiscent of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, except instead of a pair of crimson lips superimposed on a black screen, we get the disembodied face of a flamboyant Englishman, who has scribbled facial hair on himself with an eyebrow pencil and donned an Egyptian-style head-dress made from a periwinkle dishcloth.  This is “Zardoz,” and he’s here to explain things so we don’t get confused.

Like Criswell, he informs us that what we are about to see are future events, that will affect us in the future, while his towel-draped head slowly bounces from one side of the screen to the other, like the cursor in Pong.  Zardoz confesses that he’s a “fake god” with a “fake mustache,” but assures us that the boredom we’re about to experience will be genuine.

The credits roll, and “ZARDOZ” appears in a strange, dramatic font (I think it’s Xanadu Bold Condensed) followed by the most chilling words in the film: “Written, Directed, and Produced by John Boorman.”  Yes, John’s reward for the success of his previous film, Deliverance, was a bag of peyote buttons and carte blanche to film the subsequent hallucinations.  The resulting motion picture was largely deemed a failure by those members of the audience who were not concurrently hosting a large amount of psilocybin in their cerebrospinal fluid, but fortunately, Boorman redeemed himself with his next effort, Exorcist II:  The Heretic.

The future gets off to a goofy start when a giant paper-mâché bust of Santa Claus screaming like a howler monkey hovers over the English Midlands, while cavalry soldiers wearing nothing but Angry Santa masks and scarlet hot pants ride around below, the wan light reflecting from their white, hairless, Poppin Fresh-like thighs.

The Giant Screaming Santa Head lands and we learn that this is Zardoz, god and motivational speaker.  Zardoz reads the minutes of the last meeting, recounting how it raised the Hot Pants Men from brutality and taught them the sacred catechism (“Who wears short shorts?  We wear short shorts!”) so that they might go forth and slaughter everybody who had the decency to wear slacks.  To accomplish this, Zardoz reminds them, “I gave you the gift of the gun.  The gun is good.  The penis is bad.  The penis shoots seeds [and occasionally kidney stones] and makes new life.”  So auteur Boorman’s vision of the future comprises a society of hot pants-wearing Santa fans who worship the head of Andrea Dworkin.

Anyway, the service ends with the traditional admonition to “go forth and kill!”  Then Zardoz suffers a painful attack of acid reflux and vomits guns, just like Hobo Kelly’s toy machine if her mid-60’s syndicated kids’ show had been sponsored by the National Rifle Association rather than Milton Bradley and Bosco.

Zardoz lifts off, and suddenly a topless Sean Connery fills the frame, sporting a French braid, Harry Reems’ mustache from Sensuous Vixens, and enough armpit hair to knit a Cowichan jersey.  He looks around at his masked compatriots with a perplexed, irritated expression that seems to say, “What the hell?  Boorman told me I’d be playing King Arthur.  This looks like a bloody nudist camp on Guy Fawkes Day.”  Sean turns toward us, points a revolver, and shoots the cameraman.  Alas, he’s not getting out of the film that easily…

He makes a break for the car.  But it’s parked on the far side of the catering tent, and before he can reach it, director John Boorman foils Sean’s escape by cutting to a scene of Zardoz, the Giant Screaming Santa Head, floating serenely through the clouds, as it belts out an aria in its surprisingly lovely mezzo soprano voice.

Inside the head, we see a huge mound of sawdust.  Apparently, when he’s not defending the Second Amendment and preaching against the penis, Zardoz likes to relax with a little decorative woodworking.  But wait!  It turns out the sawdust was only there so that Sean could emerge dramatically from the pile (also so that they’d be prepared in the event the audience suddenly barfs).  As Sean rises, we can see that he’s dressed like the other pro-gun/anti-penis types (let’s call them The Cheneys), except he has spurned hot pants in favor of a pair of pleather Depends, and he’s accessorized his ensemble with hip waders and crossed bandoliers, creating a look that’s sort of And a River Runs Through It meets the Frito Bandito.

Sean looks around the interior of the head, sees a bunch of naked English people in man-sized Shake ‘N Bake bags, then spies the guy with the blue tea towel on his head, who tells Sean, “Without me, you’re nothing!”  Sean promptly shoots him right between the towel, and he falls out of Zardoz’s mouth and plunges screaming to his death.  (Well, we’re later told he falls a thousand feet and dies, although at this particular moment he appears to be thinking his Happy Thoughts because he just sort of hovers there in his pajamas like one of the Darling children.)

Anyway, the Giant Santa godhead and its precious cargo of boil-in-the-bag nudists lands at “the Vortex,” an impregnable, futuristic 17th century village where everyone dresses like Flemish peasants but talks like they’re on Space: 1999.  Sean wanders around the place and gets successively terrorized by flour, hydroponic Brussels sprouts, and a jack-in-the-box.  Fortunately, he finds a talking ring that explains everything in the movie, even when you don’t want it to:

Sean:  What is it?
Ring:  Flower.
Sean:  Purpose?
Ring:  Decorative.

This is a pretty cool gadget, and I wish I’d had one when the Netflix envelope first arrived:

Scott:  What is it?
Ring:  Zardoz.
Scott:  Purpose?
Ring:  To give self-indulgent crap a bad name.

A plain-looking woman appears.  Like the other residents of the Vortex, she is immortal, possesses deadly psionic powers, and is very, very boring.  Unlike the other “Eternals,” she also apparently thought Scarlett Johansson’s costume from Girl with a Pearl Earring would make the perfect fashion statement if you just accessorized it with a hat made from a damp Handi-Wipe and dyed the whole thing orange.

Anyway, Orangina mentally bitch-slaps Sean, then places him in a Mylar pup tent decorated with Playboy centerfolds, and we get to watch home movies of Sean riding around with a bunch of other guys sporting Pampers and porn ‘staches, shooting dress extras in the back and forcing themselves on women trapped in gill nets.

The raping and killing doesn’t bother blank-faced Eternal Charlotte Rampling, but she is so traumatized by Sean’s graphic memories of forced wheat farming that she can only speak in words beginning with the letter Q.  “Quench it,” she recommends.  “Quell it.”

Orangina wants to keep Sean, but there’s a no-pet policy in the Vortex, so the Homeowners Association has to take a vote.  A male Eternal named “Friend” with preternaturally poofy hair takes a liking to Sean and promises to feed him and pick up after he does his business.  The condo board agrees to let Sean live on a trial basis, but insists that in order to prevent him from digging up the flower beds, he has to be crated every night.

The next morning, Friend appears dressed in a skirt and a low cut macramé halter top, his hair ratted like Nancy Sinatra’s, and proceeds to methodically beat the half-naked Sean with a bullwhip in a scene that Robert Mapplethorpe found “a trifle excessive.”

The rest of the Eternals sit down to lunch, where they pass a green baguette around the table and ritually sniff it, while Sean hauls Friend around in a rickshaw as he delivers oddly-hued baked goods to the Apathetics –- a group dressed like late Renaissance Walloons who stand motionless and stare into space all day, slack-jawed and drooling.  Friend explains that these are the sole survivors of a Zardoz test screening in La Jolla.

After lunch, Sean attends Charlotte’s PowerPoint slide show on The Lost Art of the Erection.  Apparently, the Eternals can conquer death and construct giant flying heads, but they can’t figure out how the peepee works.  Charlotte, as part of her Show ‘N Tell segment, makes Sean watch Cinemax After Dark in an effort to put a Lincoln Log in his Huggies, but it doesn’t have the desired effect.  However, just when her presentation is circling the drain, the Soundtrack from Fantasia arrives and awards Sean a huge pulsating boner, which is symbolized by a cutaway to a llama.

The next day at lunch, an embittered Friend decides he doesn’t want to sniff the baguette.  The other Eternals respond to this mutiny by humming like a model train transformer while Carrot Top does a sinister jazz hands routine.

Sean decides he’s had enough of this and climbs a hill so he can do mime in peace.  Despite presenting a killer “trapped in the invisible box” routine, he sustains a critical drubbing, so he heads to the Sizzler to blow off steam and gets badly mauled by a group of elderly patrons who don’t appreciate him gadding about in a diaper while they’re trying to enjoy the Early Bird Special.

Then Charlotte and Sean fight over a poncho and Sean goes blind, but Princess Leia suddenly appears and performs Lasik on him, then warns him that his strength will inevitably fail, and when it does, he should eat some spinach.

The Eternals trap Sean in one of those inflatable Jolly Jumpers and start beating him to death, but he confounds them at the last possible second by throwing a handful of Gold Medal flour in their general direction and escaping!  Then he runs back to the top of the hill and violently vogues.  When this doesn’t seem to help, he goes to hang with the Apathetics since at least Boorman didn’t give them any dialogue.  Unfortunately, the catatonic women magically awaken when they taste his underarm perspiration.  This inspires a tepid lesbian makeout scene, but it doesn’t last, and suddenly all the apathetic Flemish chicks are moaning and licking Sean, so he frantically eats his spinach, then runs a 10K while an angry posse with severe erectile dysfunction gives chase.

Eventually, he’s saved by the elderly Sizzler patrons, who make him wear Miss Haversham’s wedding dress while they wander around with Roman candles and the Apathetics, still hopped up on Sean sweat, hump on the lawn ornaments.

Orangina realizes that, although the members of the Vortex possess the sum of all knowledge, Sean is a physically superior mutant who can pop a chubby at will, so he wins.  She figures that, if you can’t lick ‘em, then…well, lick ‘em, and tells Sean, “We will touch-teach you, and you will give us your seed.”  Sean agrees to this bargain, but adds, “Um…I’m gonna need a magazine.”

So Princess Leia gets naked and speaks Swedish while math problems are flashed on her skin by the Eternal AV Club’s Kenner Give-A-Show! Projector.  Then suddenly everybody is nude and covered in algorithms and speaking Albanian and nattering on about Ethelred the Unready and the Gadsen Purchase as Sean crams for his midterms.  Finally, Sean’s apotheosis reaches a climax as a girl with staticky hair offers to sell him a large cubic zirconium at a substantial discount.

Sean absorbs the sum of all human knowledge, and promptly realizes that he looks ridiculous in this diaper, so he goes and puts on some gauchos.  Charlotte sneaks up behind Sean with a huge knife, but she’s so moved by his attempt at pants that she instantly falls in love.

Then Sean sneaks into the Mormon Tabernacle, which doesn’t look at all like I thought it would – a lot more labyrinths, bleeding mirrors, and interpretive dance recitals by disembodied heads than you’d expect.  Meanwhile, the Flemish peasants break into the workroom on Project Runway and vandalize some dress forms.

Sean tells Orangina and Charlotte, “Stay close to me.  Inside my aura,” then sticks out his hand, which causes the film to reverse (but not, thankfully, to the beginning).  Then the Santa-Head Hot Pants People ride in waving their guns.  Suddenly, the screen is filled with men and women staggering around shouting “kill me!  Kill me!”  Since we’ve never seen most of these people before, I can only assume they’re members of the film crew who have finally snapped.  Meanwhile, Sean and Charlotte run off and hide in Injun Joe’s cave.

Suddenly, Charlotte’s nude and giving birth.  Then she and Sean are sitting on a rock in the cave, and staring expressionlessly at the viewer just like American Gothic, except they’re both topless and she’s nursing a baby.  Then, the film dissolves and they age a bit -– the kid is about 5 years old now –- but they’re still sitting on the rock, although now they’re dressed in forest green, Napoleonic-era greatcoats.  Another dissolve.  They’re still there, still modeling the coats, and the kid is about ten.  Another dissolve.  Nobody’s moved.  The kid is about 18 and sporting long, unkempt hair and a rawhide loincloth like Tarzan.  He looks at over Sean with an expression that plainly says, “Um, Dad?  Can we get up off this rock now?”  Sean doesn’t respond, so the kid pulls one of those “You guys are so bogus!  I am so out of here!” faces, and stalks off camera.

Now that the kid is no longer sitting between them, Sean and Charlotte join hands, and continue to decay in their overcoats.  Through a series of painfully slow, yet hilarious dissolves, they rot into skeletons.  Then the connective tissue decomposes, and at last they’re a big, disorganized pile of bones, and the camera pans up to Sean’s rusted gun hanging on the wall of the cave, beside two handprints that were apparently created using the science of Kirlian photography.  Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you?!


Oh.  Um.  The End.

Prophet And Loss

Posted by scott on March 18th, 2009

Over at WorldNetDaily, our old friend Janet Porter (neé Folger) is doing a little damage control after swallowing a Snopes-worthy urban legend hook, line and sinker, as well as rod, reel, class ring and the fisherman’s Swatch.  Last week, she reported that David Wilkerson, the minister portrayed by Pat Boone in the movie The Cross and the Switchblade, has forecast an “imminent, earth-shattering calamity” that will result in “fires raging” through the Tri-State Area.  And to establish Wilkerson’s bona fides as a prophet, Janet recounted the story of The Lunch That Predicted 9/11, otherwise known as The Miracle of the Miracle Whip.

It seems that in 2001, God came to Wilkerson and revealed to him an impending attack on the World Trade Center, so that the minister might get a head start on making sandwiches.  (Janet appears to have deleted the original column from WND, but we found a cached version):

Wilkerson felt God telling him something that seemed rather bizarre. He felt God telling him to make sandwiches – lots of sandwiches. What were they for? Who would eat them? That part wasn’t clear, but his church did what they believed God was telling them anyway.

And on the 10th of September they stayed up all night making hundreds and hundreds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. By morning they had about 2,000 sandwiches. At 8:46 a.m. the first plane hit the World Trade Center and Times Square Church was ready to feed and minister to rescue workers and victims of our nation’s worst attack.

I don’t mean to quibble, but if God was going to drop a dime on Al Qaeda, perhaps he should have called the FBI, or the FAA, or any organization prepared to take stronger anti-terrorism measures than simply cutting the crust off the bread.  But as it turns out, the Lord didn’t actually appear to Wilkerson on the eve of 9/11 and order a party platter:

Despite the fact that multiple people told me they read about Times Square Church members making sandwiches prior to Sept. 11, 2001, in the Times Square Newsletter – and the fact that when a staff member of mine called the church he got someone who answered the phone who confirmed it, saying they knew “exactly” what we were talking about, that information was wrong.

There were sandwiches. There were lots of them. But they were not made prior to Sept. 11, according to the officials at Times Square Church I talked with Thursday (who were unavailable at my deadline last week). WND has already added an editor’s correction to my column, but, while the sequence of the sandwiches was incorrect, the rest of the story was confirmed to be true.

That is, because of Wilkerson’s prophecy, his congregation was mentally prepared for disaster, so that in the immediate aftermath of the attack they were still able to make PBJs, unlike their fellow New Yorkers, who had apparently slipped into some sort of fugue state which made sandwich assembly impossible.  But the minister has been visited by an even more apocalyptic vision, a disaster that cannot be so easily salved by edible unguents such as Skippy and Smuckers.

For 10 years I have been warning about a thousand fires coming to New York City. It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires – such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago.

There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting – including Times Square, New York City.

God has foretold the fall of the ESPN Zone.


First, I give you a practical word I received for my own direction. If possible lay in store a 30-day supply of non-perishable food, toiletries and other essentials. In major cities, grocery stores are emptied in an hour at the sign of an impending disaster.

… I will behold our Lord on his throne, with his eye of tender, loving kindness watching over every step I take – trusting that he will deliver his people even through floods, fires, calamities, tests, trials of all kinds.

Note: I do not know when these things will come to pass, but I know it is not far off. I have unburdened my soul to you. Do with the message as you choose.

Well, usually in the event of a floods, fires, and calamities, choosey prophets choose Jif.  But as we said, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches won’t be enough to survive the smoldering hellscape of Pastor Wilkerson’s vision.  You’ll probably need a juice box too.

Anyway, since I’m still feeling feverish and phlegmmy and doped up, I’ve decided to take Janet’s Punking by the Prophet as a sign to recycle some material.  So here’s a revised version of an old piece s.z. and I did on The Cross and the Switchblade.  It’s about Pastor David Wilkerson’s journey of faith; it’s about love; it’s about redemption.  But mostly, it’s about Erik Estrada’s junk.


Director:  Don Murray
Written by:  Don Murray and James Bonnet

Our movie begins with a twilight shot of the Williamsburg bridge and a voiceover from the producer, who tells us that if the story we’re about to see were the mere product of a writer’s imagination, we would be entitled to call bullshit. But we must believe him when he says these events really happened, because if we’re watching this movie then chances are we’ve already agreed to spend the evening at a Baptist Youth Center, so we can probably be talked into just about anything.

We join a PF Flyers commercial already in progress. A young hoodlum runs his fastest and jumps his highest through Central Park, with The New Christy Minstrels in hot pursuit.  But even with the patented Posture Fitness insole, the clean-cut, fresh-faced thug can’t evade his tormentors, and the Glee Club throws him down and surrounds him.  Armed with switchblades, bike chains, and baseball bats, they proceed to administer the most listless beating in movie history; it looks less like a wilding and more like a pajama party pillow fight sponsored by Quaaludes.  On the bright side, they’re the most racially diverse group of juvenile delinquents since Kid Power, including Al Pacino’s stand-in from Panic in Needle Park, that guy from the Dry Look ads, and Ben Shapiro, and co-starring a Cowsill, Fareed Zakaria, and Jeb Bush.  But since they can’t be bothered to actually hit the kid they’re supposedly beating to death, Officer Krupke steps in and arrests the entire cast for loitering.

In court, Prosecutor Sam Waterston Lite (only one-third the talent of the national brand) is murmuring to the short, fat, angry defense attorney and repeatedly groping him, so either the State’s case isn’t going well and he wants to cut a deal, or the two actors got bored and started pretending they’re in Adam’s Rib. The judge, who gave up a guaranteed 5-and-under on a soap opera to do this stupid movie, grumpily admonishes counsel to hurry up and present his case against the New Christy Gangstas, because those slices of honeydew melon on the craft service table aren’t getting any fresher.

Suddenly, Pat Boone bursts into the room and says, “May I have a word with–-”  But before he can even finish the sentence, the judge leaps to his feet and screams, “Get him out of here!” Two cops instantly seize Pat by the scruff of the neck and violently eject him from the court room. Okay, we’ve changed our minds; this is the Best.  Movie.  Ever!

Out in the hall, the cops frisk Pat, demanding to know where “the weapon” is.  But since they’re patting him down in the upper pants area, they probably just mistook him for Harry Reems (who plays “Uncredited Gang Member”), since Pat doesn’t strike us as the kind of guy who’s…heavily armed.  In fact, Pat holds up a Bible and insists, “This is my only weapon!”  It turns out that he’s a hep young street preacher from Nowheresville, Pennsylvania, who’s come to help the gang and to get some hair care tips from the Dry Look guy, because his own tortured combover lacks body.

The cops tell Pat to get lost. He literally hangs his head to indicate sadness, then trudges off toward the elevator while the Mike Curb Congregation croons:

You’ve got to face the fact,
You’re just one guy.
But on the other hand the fact is,
You’ve got to try.

We admittedly don’t have a lot of experience with schizophrenia, but nonetheless feel that if you’re going to have easy listening voices in your head, they should be a bit less wishy-washy.

Cut to the next morning. Pat has covered the windows of his car with depressing headlines from the newspaper, and is sleeping inside. Some 12-year old black kids noisily begin stealing his hubcaps and stripping the car for parts. Two of the kids pause for the following colloquy:

Thug: There’s a dude asleep in the back seat.
Girl Thug: I dig.
Thug: What if he wakes up?
Girl Thug: He look bad?
Thug: He don’t look too bad. But he don’t look too good either.

As urban contemporary patois goes, this doesn’t seem to drip with authenticity, but it’s the best description of Pat Boone we’ve ever heard. Anyway, Pat eventually notices that a racially integrated group of children are dismantling his car and steps outside so they can stab him. But Girl Thug, who is wearing hand-me-downs from Huggy Bear and Mushmouth, recognizes him from the opening scene and commands him to “lay it on me.”

He attempts to shake hands, but the thugette demurs, and offers Pat his first lesson in Applied Badness. “Don’t wrestle with me, baby. Just lay it in the sky.” They slap palms, and the girl introduces herself as “Bo,” short for Little Bo Peep. Pat immediately pries into her religious affiliations, but Bo Peep rolls alone, and doesn’t worry about God, “just about the pigs, and hustling bread.” She does offer to hook him up with the Mau Mau gang, which involves introducing Pat to what we can only assume is the World’s Least Successful Hooker, since she’s dressed like a Mennonite hausfrau.

Inside the gang’s clubhouse, it’s one freaky scene, man. The Mau Maus (who are ostensibly a Puerto Rican group) are waiting for a pow-wow with the Bishops, an association of African-American youths. Pat is attempting to avoid toking on the plentiful Maryjane (“Smoke my peace pipe” commands a hippie who apparently walked straight into the movie from a Dragnet episode) when suddenly the door bursts open, and Linc from Mod Squad announces, “The Bishops are here!” Oddly, he announces it in the voice of Dudley Do-right. And no, that’s not a joke; it’s deeply saddened reportage.

Linc and his warlord, dashiki spokesmodel Abdullah, have come to parlay with the Mau Mau’s leader, Israel, and his warlord, Erik Estrada (playing gangbanger-cum-evangelist Nicky Cruz). Erik is quite the bad dude, even if, like all the other Mau Maus, he gads about in a Tyrolean hat and a bright red pleather windbreaker. The two factions are cordially negotiating the terms of their upcoming rumble, when suddenly Pat jumps between them and shouts, “You guys talk about getting high. God’ll get you high. But he won’t let you down!”  Inexplicably, no one shoves a handmade shiv into his liver.  But it’s implied that Pat’s rap was received cooly, because we cut to an exterior shot, as he sulks around Spanish Harlem while Up With People sings about what a loser he is.

Eventually, Pat is adopted by Hector Gomez, pastor of the Mean Streets Storefront Congregation. This allows Pat to stop living in his car and taking whore’s baths at the bus station; it also means Pat has access to a telephone, which is convenient since his wife back in Pennsylvania is about to give birth.  (“All right, honey, I’m gonna drive up to New York now and go irritate some hoodlums.  Give me a ring when you’re crowning.”)

Finally the Mau Maus and the Bishops meet in the park to savagely battle over which group is dressed more like the Partridge Family.  But it’s sort of a Guitar Hero version of a street fight, since they’re just bouncing around and brandishing Wiffle bats, while the Ray Conniff Singers harmonize:

Na na na na na,
We got a rumble,
Gettin’ it onnnnnn.

Pat is devastated.  Not only did his inspirational message about the hallucinogenic effects of God fall flat, but when heroin-addicted hooker Rosa comes to the storefront church and seeks his help, he has to admit that he can’t actually do anything about her problems, like getting off the street, or kicking the junk.  “Then why did you come here,” she asks, clearly puzzled.  Why, it’s simple, young horse-addled doxy.  He came to get away from his pregnant wife, and to translate the Gospels into jive.

Pat and the Apostle Bo-Peep stand on a street corner, where the thugette plays the trumpet to gather a crowd (granted, it doesn’t attract a friendly crowd, but it’s at least as efficient as throwing the burgemeister’s young daughter into the lake, then holing up in a burning windmill). Pat starts preaching, but a cop immediately tells him to shut up, and the crowd to move along.

“Officer,” Pat whines, “don’t I have a constitutional right to speak on any street corner in America?” The cop retorts, “Only if you’re standing under an American flag!”

Really? This is the first we’ve heard of this clause, and it makes us think we probably should have read the entire First Amendment, and not just skipped right to the parts with sex. But Linc, the Dudley Do-Right-voiced leader of the Negro gang, snaps off a car aerial with a tiny American flag ornament and gives it to Pat. Then he uses the rest of the antenna to make a zip-gun so he can give Pat one of his bullets, too.

Warlord Erik Estrada and Mau Mau CEO Israel stumble upon Pat’s soapbox sermon. The preacher offers his hand to Erik, who spits into it. Pat turns the other cheek and oozes, “God loves you, Nicky.”  Erik responds to this behavior in the only logical way by screaming, “If you come near me, I’ll kill you!”

“Yeah, you can do that,” Pat replies.  “You can cut me up in a thousand pieces and lay them in the street. And every piece will still love you.”

Erik stares at Pat with what we imagine is the same look you’d give a man standing next to you in an elevator if he suddenly set his own pants on fire and began to juggle fetal pigs.

It’s three o’clock in the morning and Erik is asleep in his cramped, shabby room at the YMCA, when there’s a loud pounding at the door. He gets up, wearing nothing but his tighty whiteys, and leans back against the wall with his groin jutting into the camera as though someone had mistakenly told him the film was in 3-D.  He opens the door, revealing singer, actor, and stalker Pat Boone. Erik recoils and shrieks, “Didn’t I tell you to leave me alone?!

Pat says, “You didn’t really mean that.” Then, as the swarthy, sweat-glazed youth stands there in his underpants, breathing heavily, Pat murmurs, “Aren’t you lonely, Nicky?”

It’s the next day, and The Association is singing:

Love is only a word to me,
A word you use when you’re not sure what to say

Rosa, the remarkably wholesome junkie streetwalker, finds Erik moodily enjoying a phosphate in Ned Glass’s candy store from West Side Story. She tells Erik that although she was gang property and had to share her favors equally with all of the Mau Maus, it was Erik whom she always loved, for he was the Mau-Mauiest in bed. Then she tries to cadge 10 bucks for a fix. But Pat’s late night visit has gotten under Erik’s skin and into his tighty whiteys, and Erik is suddenly having trouble relating to the other hoodlums his age. Instead of having quick, grunting coitus in a trash-choked alley in exchange for a dime bag, Erik hands her a switchblade and subcontracts her to kill Pat.

Meanwhile, at the storefront church, Pat’s mission to the Mau Maus has apparently been having some amazing, if off screen success, because suddenly everyone is abuzz over the way all the gangsters were flocking around him today.  But the joy of saved souls is tempered by the sting of an unsuccessful booty call, as Pat pouts, “I didn’t see Nicky.”

But Erik can’t get Pat out of his mind, either, and at that very momment he’s slumped down in a chair at the Mau Mau clubhouse, glowering into space.

“Are you still thinking about him,” Israel asks.  When he doesn’t respond, Israel inserts a cigarette in Erik’s mouth. (You may recall Pat’s public hissyfit over the frank homo-eroticism in Brokeback Mountain; having seen The Cross and the Switchblade, we suspect he felt the same way about the man-on-man love scenes in that film as Fats Domino felt about Pat’s cover of “Ain’t That A Shame.”)

Anyway, Rosa finally shows up at the storefront church.  She doesn’t want to kill Pat for some reason, but she really needs that ten-spot Erik promised her, so she tries to bargain with Pat — 10 dollars for a fix in exchange for some overacting.  But Pat gets up on his high horse to the junkie and says, “I’m no easy touch. I’m a man of God.”  Yeah, what was she thinking?  If she wanted Christian charity, she should’ve gone to a libertarian.  Reminded of her bootstraps, and that business is business, Rosa belatedly tries to fulfill her contract by shanking the Randian prick.

Pat defends himself by fighting like a girl, but he’s not woman enough to take Rosa, and we’re seconds from seeing strapping young Preacher filleted by the frail, strung-out junkie, until a bystander tells Rosa that God wants Pat to help her get off Horse.  Oh, really?  Okay.  We instantly dissolve to a montage of Rosa writhing and moaning as she goes through the agony of a cold turkey withdrawal from heroin. Or maybe she’s just reacting to the sappy soundtrack, “Jackie Gleason’s Music To Have The DTs By.”

Meanwhile, the Mau Maus throw a lovely funeral for Mingo, a gang member Erik accidentally murdered for chickening out of the last rumble. But the solemn proceedings are crashed by the Bishops, who want to pick up the fight where they left off. Floral arrangements get crushed. Somebody gets pushed into the open grave. Erik gets stabbed. It’s just how Mingo would have wanted it.

A bleeding Erik manages to stagger home. But Pat, to whom restraining orders mean nothing, barges in and continues to pester him. “Can’t you give a poor Spick a break,” pleads Erick. Good question, but I think we all know the answer to it . . .

Pat replies, “Some day you’re gonna stop running. And when you do, I’ll be there.”  The great thing about this motto is, it works for both youth ministers and Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.

Having completing her 3 Step Program (Step 1:  Admit that you are powerless over drugs and your life has become unmanageable.  Step 2:  Attempt to knife Pat Boone.  Step 3:  Have a montage), love-sick Rosa shows up at Erik’s apartment and coos that she’s clean now.  But when Erik learns that she’s drug-free because of Pat, he shouts, “The Preacher! The Preacher! All I ever hear is the Preacher! I’m sick of the Preacher!” Hey, man, we feel your pain.

Erik rejects Rosa because of her Preacher-taint, so she immediately scores some H from a handy central casting pusher. However, thanks to Pat’s rehab program, the drug no longer has the power to get her high. It’s a miracle! (Or it was mixed with too much baby laxative.)

In any case, it’s finally time for Pat’s big anti-gang preach-a-thon at a local movie theater. The police, who don’t want to cramp Pat’s style (and who are still angry about that toy flag stunt), are boycotting the event, thus making it the perfect locale for the Rumble-to-End-All-Rumbles planned by the M&Ms and the Bishops. But the power of Pat compels them, and when dashiki supermodel Abdullah asks the gangbangers if they’re ready to rummmmmble, Erik, who was deeply touched by Pat’s words (whatever they were — we kinda nodded off at this point) interrupts.

Erick advises everyone to “cool it” and listen to the Preacher. He adds that, “He’s here, in this room, and He wants to touch you.”  Erik was either talking about God, or  Pat’s nocturnal visits to the YMCA, but in either case you can understand why Abdullah tries to stab him. However, Erik manages to grab the knife from Abdullah — and to show that he has completely fallen under Pat’s spell, he spares the Bishop’s life and tells him that that God loves him. Erik then announces that he’s “gonna give my life to God, baby.” He chirps to Rosa, “I’m two-minutes old.” She takes this as a cue to go find a moist towel and wipe the afterbirth off him.

Meanwhile, the gang members all eagerly take the free Bibles that Pat is passing out.  Israel opens his and declares, “Hey, my name is all over this book!”  In addition to being the inerrant word of God, the Bible is also a rap sheet!

Pat intones something about how this was just the start of his ministry, and that there would be “more Nickys, more Israels, more Rosas,” for . . . (get ready for it!) “The Cross is mightier than The Switchblade.”  And judging by this screenplay, both of them can beat the shit out of The Pen.