As you may recall from a month ago, I made an attempt at a somewhat thorough list of the top 50 French films ever made. I quickly discovered that there were many that I hadn’t seen, and consequently made a checklist of 40 or so more French films that I’d need to watch prior to next Bastille Day. It would enable me to make a far more complete list next year. And I quickly set about my task. As a result, from July 14th until earlier this week- approximately forty days- I’d watched heavy, intellectual French films almost exclusively. It tallied out to around twenty movies.
And then, my brain broke. As truly fantastic as many of those films were, they were giving me a cramp in my frontal lobe. It was time to take a break. And that’s precisely what I’ve done this week. St. Louis summer finally broke its’ back (temps fell from the 90’s every day to the much more reasonable 80’s) and October is very quickly approaching. In other words, it’s time to start the annual rite of passage that involves watching loads and loads of crappy horror movies for 45 to 60 days. What did I accomplish?
1. The Exorcist 3
Of all of the films I’ve seen this week, The Exorcist 3 undoubtedly had the largest budget and the best production values. Obviously, it had some very serious flaws (plot holes that you could drive a truck through, George C. Scott’s comical overacting, etc.). Having said that, there were quite a few genuinely creepy moments in this film. Watching it in a darkened basement at 11:00 at night by myself only enhanced the effect. Consider me surprised at the quality of the film.
2. Death Bed: The Bed that Eats People
I first heard about this from a friend, and he first heard about it from a Patton Oswalt stand-up bit. I really don’t even know where to begin describing this movie. There’s a bed and it’s possessed by some red-eyed demon from the 16th century and it’s in a castle or something. All sorts of people- most notably topless 70’s floozies- happen upon this bed, lie down on it, and find themselves enveloped in a strange yellow foam. They sink into the bed, which is apparently full of yellow stomach acid, the bed starts making chewing noises, and then it eats the people. The bed possesses the capability to throw a sheet across the room to lasso potential half-eaten escapees and it also has the ability to get indigestion. At one point, it showed the yellow stomach acid consuming a bottle of Pepto Bismol. That’s no lie, sports fans. It also ate fried chicken, a lot of flowers, some guy’s hands (and yet he still retained the ability to move the bones in his hand around, even though there was no muscle or cartilage, but who cares- it’s “Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People”), and drank wine. A clip:
3. Frankenstein Conquers the World
This was made as part of the series of Toho Studios monster flicks from the 50’s and 60’s. I’m sure you recognize the others- Rodan, Gojira, Mothra, etc. The general gist of the movie is that as Germany was about to lose in World War II, they handed over their super secret military research on the still-beating heart of an unkillable monster named… FRANKENSTEIN!!!! The Japanese took the heart back to their own military base for research. It just so happens that this military base was in Hiroshima. The ensuing atomic bomb mixed radiation with the heart and 15 years later, a small grunting boy with a sloped brow showed up. And thanks to the radiation, he grew and grew until he was 30 feet tall. He was befriended by a Japanese scientist and (apparently) an American doctor who was the Japanese stereotype of what Americans are supposed to be (as of 1965, anyway). At one point, the American doctor was barbecuing while wearing an apron that said “BARBECUE” on it in big bold letters, and it had a matching hat that had a field of blue and white stars all over it. Uh… yeah. Anyway, Frankenstein escapes as he’s starting to grow to 30 feet tall, and then he fights a gigantic prehistoric subterranean monster named Baragon. For good measure after defeating Baragon, he then fights a gigantic land-based octopus in a fiery forest. I’m no marine biologist but I would think that the octopus, no matter how large, would’ve wilted on land, and especially in the middle of a forest fire. I guess in summation, Frankenstein Conquers the World was unrealistic based on its use of land-based octopi surviving forest fires.
4/4.5. Troll/Troll 2 double feature
Netflix offers these on the same disc for a reason. They’re intended to be watched back to back, regardless of the fact that neither film has anything at all to do with the other beyond their name and the implication that the second one is a sequel. Troll featured the following, an astounding list of things to compile all in one movie:
- Sonny Bono
- Julia Louis Dreyfus (and her bare butt cheeks, which you see momentarily as she frolicks around as some sort of plant fairy woman)
- A talking animatronic mushroom…
- that is owned by a witch…
- who later becomes a talking tree stump
- Not one, but TWO protagonists named Harry Potter (Harry Sr. and Harry Jr., with Sr. played by the King of Crappy Movies, Michael Moriarty)
- A dwarf (by which I mean, a little person with a barrel chest)
- Fish and pig monster trolls…
- who perform a song and dance number
It was nothing short of an amazing film. I then moved on to Troll 2, a film with a rich subtext about animal rights, greed, and corporate awareness of the environment.
Ok, just kidding. As goofy and bad (but a fun bad) as the first Troll movie was, Troll 2 made it look like Citizen Kane. The acting was astonishingly bad, there weren’t actually any trolls, and the effects were on par with Killer Klowns from Outer Space (which was at least funnier than Troll 2). The original trailer for it speaks volumes and the lady at 1:40 of the clip might be the worst actress I’ve ever seen:
All in all, both were fun to watch in a schaudenfreude kind of way. In fact, if you ever want to check your brain at the door, I’d recommend both.
5. Uncle Sam
Made in the mid-90’s, Uncle Sam is about a victim of friendly fire in the Gulf War becoming zombified and exacting revenge upon unpatriotic people in his hometown. It sounds like a formula for something really hilarious but it took itself way too seriously and was far too crappy (but not in a good/fun way). On the plus side, it starred Isaac Hayes. But that’s about the only reason I’d even dream of recommending it to anyone.
I’ve got several more films just like these coming my way and I’m looking forward to almost all of them. I’ll be sure to keep all of you posted.