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Deep-Fried Cheese Movie Review: Jersey Shore Shark Attack (2012)

 

Jersey Shore Shark Attack (2012)

by Jason D. Grooms

In July of 1916 an unprecedented heat wave led thousands of tourists to the Jersey shore seeking relief.  But instead of relief, all they found was a tooth-filled horror that filled every newspaper in the country. The terror that filled the waters that summer launched a national obsession with shark attacks and even inspired Peter Benchley to write his classic horror novel Jaws.  It’s an event that is responsible for our modern obsession with Shark Week and the dozens of films about the deep-seated fear of being eaten alive by nature’s perfect eating machine.

So what does the Jersey shore shark attacks of 1916 and the incredible lore they inspired have to do with Jersey Shore Shark Attack (2012) the movie? Nothing you mook! This is the Jersey Shore. It ain’t about history and such the like.  It’s about
looking and being fabulous!

Nooki: “What didn’t ya understand on the ferris wheel – the part where I said I never wanted to see you again or the part where I said I was gonna cut your nuts off and set them on fire?”

It’s about the Jersey Shore with Nooki and The Complication and more guidos than you can shake a can of AquaNet at. This movie makes the Italian Stallion look like a polo-wearing poser from Hoboken. If you don’t talk with an accent after watching this movie, then you didn’t really watch it.

Paulie: “Hey, isn’t that Vinnie’s stuff?” [Pointing to a boat floating in the water.]

Donnie: “Which Vinnie? Vinnie Noneck?”

Paulie: “No bro. Vinnie Bananas.”

Donnie: “Bananas is in Florida bro.”

Paulie: “No. I mean Vinnie Knuckles”

Donnie: “Knuckles is dead. That must be Vinnie Bombatsa’s boat!”

TC: “Hey stunods. It’s Vinnie Crabs.”

“Hey bro. Is that a mojito? No yo. It’s Paulie’s show fro.”

Sure this movie has sharks in it but that’s just an excuse to give our gang of spray-tan gumbas something to do. The real meatball in this plate of spaghetti is the cast of Jersey-Shore-mimics dealing with life and preppies and what to do with all those muscles.

Our band of happy cannolis is Donnie, Paulie Balzac, and TC ‘The Complication’ who are smitten with their leopard-pant-wearing girlfriends BJ, J-Moni, and the indomitable Nooki.

Synopsis: Recent construction near the pier has disturbed an undersea cave containing a school of deep-water albino bull sharks that look like a fishy version those freaky red-eyed bunnies. As is always the case, our team of heroes tries to convince local authorities to close the beach only to be met with a volley of ‘get outta here.’  And so it’s up to them to try and stop the menace and prevent more bloody deaths from happening while also fighting to protect their pier from the evil developer Dolan and his douchebag son Bradford. The question isn’t ‘will they succeed.’  The question is ‘will they succeed with their hair and

“Help! The foam white shark from Shell World broke free and is floating in my general direction!”

gold chains still neatly in place.’  What do think, bro?

Paulie: “Yo! What’s a boat doin’ out here?” 

BJ: “Guys, why is it covered in blood?”

Paulie: “Aaah. It’s probably just spaghetti sauce. What? My father never went fishing without some spuntini.”

There are a lot of recognizable names to fill the bill including Tony Sirico (Pauli Walnuts from the Sopranos), Joey

Fatone (Backup singer to Justin Timberlake in N’Sync), William Atherton (Walter Peck from the Ghostbusters), Paul Sorvino (Paul Cicero from Goodfellas) and real life Jersey Shore cast member Vinny Guadagnino.

While this really isn’t what I’ve come to love in a CGI creature-feature gorefest, it is a lot of fun and will without a doubt hold a permanent place in my colllection.  The acting of our six main heroes is really good (and funny) and the guido jokes never seem to get old.  I’d call this a big ol’ heap of cotton candy rather than deep-fried cheese, but something you still can’t resist.  [It also doesn’t hurt that nearly every single injury or kill seems to come with at least a gallon of high-pressure blood spatter and a 10 feet of splash zone.]

The Jersey Shore and gallons of blood. Cinematic perfection be thy name.

If you want to take the viewing pleasure up a notch, make you and your friends a couple of bingo boards with every Italian, good fella, Sopranos, New Jersey stereotype you can think of and see how many of you get bingo by the end of the movie.  You can even make it a drinking game by taking a shot every time someone says “bro.” Although I take no responsibility for the alcohol poisoning that may follow.

Jersey Shore Shark Attack played most recently on the Canadian sci-fi channel Space on June 9th at 9E/6P and can be found on their website.

 

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Deep-Fried Cheese Movie Review: Bigfoot (2012)

Bigfoot (2012)

By Jason D. Grooms

There are scant few creatures that speak louder or bigger to the American fascination with monster lore than the super-hairy, unkempt, woods-tromping, barefooted beast we all know and love.  No, I don’t mean me.  I’m talking about the one and only Sasquatch or as you common folk might refer to him, Bigfoot.

OK, I admit there may possibly be a common hairy branch or two between our family trees, but that’s not the point!  The point is that the mystique and folklore that surround this mountain of a creature is without comparison in the United States.  There is no other mythical creature that comes close to this legend of Americana.

Thus it would seem logical that there would be a plethora of movies telling the tale of this long-lost pseudo-human wandering hill and dale, but alas, the pickings are actually relatively slim considering the monster’s status.  Vampires, werewolves, zombies, hell even mermaids have more movies.

I know what you’re thinking, “What about Harry and the Hendersons?” but that doesn’t count.  That had John Lithgow, Don Ameche and makeup artist legend (and goatee god) Rick Baker for God’s sake. (Rick also worked on a couple of other projects you may have heard of: Star Wars, The Howling, An American Werewolf in London, My Science Project, Thriller, Captain EO, etc. etc. etc.)

The six-million pound man vs. the six-million dollar man. [Not from this movie, duh!]

So why the gap?  Why aren’t there more successful movies about the big guy?  I have a theory.  Aside from the brilliance of Dr. Baker’s Harry, it’s really, really hard to make a good looking Bigfoot creature.  They almost always come out looking like a guy wrapped in brown shag carpet (although I have to admit that Andre The Giant gave it something special in his episode of the Six Million Dollar Man. [I miss you Mr. The Giant.])

But that has to be because no one has tried to make a CGI Bigfoot, right?  If we were able to craft an artistic rendering of the wild American yeti in computer form it would look great right? Wrong! Case in point the SyFy original movie Bigfoot (2012) directed by Bruce Davison.

Brrrraaaaaiiiiinnnnnssss…..

The Bigfoot in this most recent version is not the 7 foot-high man-beast that Mr. The Giant was, but a ginormous 20-feet tall monstrosity more like a giant Hulk than a walking ape.  Exciting and scary, right?  Wrong! He’s covered in oddly-layered, cagey, cheap, PS1-style hair and walks with a worse-then-robotic stomp that barely interacts with the scenery.  While stills of the beast’s snarl are actually rather impressive, the long shots are lackluster with odd sounds effects that don’t seem to match the action. Harsh words, I know, but stick with me.

Either I get a ride on the Partridge bus or I start biting off heads.

So you would guess that with such a tough critique that I hated the movie, right?  Wrong again cupcake! I really liked it.  In fact, I loved it, but not because of the creature. This movie has a LOT going for it and despite the low-budget creature effects it has a cast that delivers on all levels.  In a rare departure from the typical SyFy flick, the actors and actresses actually upstaged the creature.

The primary trifecta of amazingsauce comes in the form of Danny Bonaduce (Danny from the Partridge Family), Barry Williams (Greg Brady) and Sherilyn Fenn(Twin Peaks and Just One the Guys).  All three not only act the hell out of the script, they do not fail to deliver on the cheese.  While all of them seem to be fully aware of the fact

What did you say about my mom?!

that they are in a made-for-SyFy creature feature they chew up the scenery with reckless abandon.  Central (and a “Bigfoot among men” if you will) is the man Danny Bonaduce, who plays a fast talking local radio DJ and concert promoter who is determined to put on the best 80s reunion concert of all time, even if it does only have Alice Cooper.

His foil is one Simon (Barry Williams); a tree-hugging ex-band mate of Danny’s whose self-proclaimed mission in life is to save the forest where the Bigfoot lives (even if it does cause dozens of fatalities) and to do whatever it takes to make Danny look bad.  Sherilyn Fenn plays the once-big-city detective now turned sheriff of their small town. While battling her own demons (and some minor daddy issues) she tries to bring a little sanity and drama to the situation.

While the CGI is nothing to write home about (unless you hate your mother – then definitely write her about it) the kills and death scenes are truly fun.  I won’t spoil it for you but I will tell you that Bigfoot has two primary methods of dispatching his victims: 1) stepping on them and reducing them to bloody puddles or 2) biting off their heads and throwing away the body.  I have to say that the head biting does not get old at all, trust me.  I won’t give away the ending either but our 13th president, an F-16, and an epic 70s TV show death match may or may not be involved.  It’s worth the price of admission.

That is one BIG foot

The rest of the movie is packed full of famous faces that will make you jump out of your butt mold on the couch and scream “I know that guy!” more times than you can count. Of special note are Howard Hesseman, Bruce Davison (director and actor in this one) and Andre Royo.  (I’ll let you IMDB those for yourself.)

Bigfoot is a perfect Saturday evening spectacular and will leave you clapping and laughing in glee, at least it did for me.  Any true lover of big B creature features would be proud to have this gem under his or her cinephilic belt and eventually as a proud part of their DVD collection.

Bigfoot airs on SyFy channel and Space channel in Canada on Saturday June 30th at 9:00 PM EST.

Bigfoot Trailer

The trailer isn’t on YouTube (yet) but you can find it here on SyFy’s site.

http://www.syfy.com/videos/Syfy%20Movies/Promos%20&%20Trailers/vid:18676960

 

*Full disclosure – I did receive a free prescreener of this movie from Spacecast.com, however I guarantee you that had no impact on my review or thoughts on the film.

 

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Deep-Fried Cheese Movie Review: Arachnoquake (2012)

The world will quiver with fear.

 

by Jason D. Grooms

When I say “New Orleans” and “disaster” what comes to mind? Hurricane? Flooding? Levies breaking? Giant tidal surge? Katrina?  Not this time mon cheri. This time it’s something worse.  Something way worse.  It’s Arachnoquake.  I bet you didn’t think of an earthquake that unleashes giant, fire-breathing dungeon spiders did you?!  You heard me. Fire breathing spiders!  The kind that’ll lay an egg in your neck as soon as look at you. The kind that’ll suck your eyeball out if you threaten to call the exterminator.  The kind that can light up the Louisiana swamp with a deep breath and a bad attitude.  We’re talking world enders here.  Well…city enders anyway.

It all starts with a seemingly harmless earthquake that rocks Louisiana in the middle of the night which opens up a crack in the earth not far from a chicken farm.  When workers from the farm head into the woods to investigate what might have killed some of their chickens that same night, they get more than they

Bend over. This won't hurt a bit.

bargained for – eight times more.

From the crack in the earth has risen a previously unknown species of spider intent on killing everything in sight and taking over New Orleans.  It’s an unknown species because Carol Seaver (Tracey Gold) from Growing Pains told us it was.  Well, not quite Carol.  In Arachnoquake Tracey plays an 8th-grade science teacher named Katelynn and she told us so.

Katelynn: Did you see those things? This is definitely a brand new species.

Paul: Yah? Maybe they’ll name it after you.

Katelynn: You don’t get it. I have a Masters in zoology and I have never even heard of this.

Paul: You must be a big hit with the 8th-graders.

The wheels on this bus go "crunch" and "splat."

Zing! Paul, played by Bug Hall (Yes, I said Bug Hall and I’m sure he’s NEVER been teased about that) is a trouble-maker slash party-animal tour guide trying to help his dad with the family tour business.  A small band of tourist, who’ve come to New Orleans to see the sights, get wrapped up in the disaster with Paul and his giant trolley as they try to navigate the deadly streets and get out alive.

Paul: Spiders!

Katelynn: They’re coming! They’re coming!

Gramps: Jumbo spiders, some as big as dwarfs!

Clerk: Jumbo dwarfs?

Two side stories play out including that of Charlie, the father of two of the tourists on the trolley.   Charlie is played by

Daisy Dukes and bats are just part of the uniform on Charlie's team.

none other than the Edward Furlong (John Conner from T2!).  He’s driving his gang of 20-something sex-pit softball players to a tournament when their bus is attacked by the very same white-webbed demons that are overrunning the Big Easy.  Charlie has to win the trophy for Most Creepy Coach but he is supportive.  After one of his players bats away a jumping spider into a high flying home run he yells, “Yes! And that’s why you’re my most valuable pinch hitter!”  The hardest part about accepting Edward Furlong as the father of two 18-year-olds is that he’s old enough to have two 18-year-olds.  He still looks like John Connor to me.

Roy, I think there's something on you shoulder.

The other side story involves Paul’s dad (played by the amazing Ethan Phillips from Benson, Glory and Star Trek: Voyager) who finds it hard to believe that his son isn’t the cause of all of this and whose WWII grit keeps him alive…for a while.

As it turns out, all of the spiders our heroes have been fighting off are merely workers in a giant spider colony.  When they finally decide to go after the queen, that’s when all hell really breaks loose.  I won’t give away the final and exciting conclusion but I will say that one of the best shots in the whole movie is of Paul wearing deep-sea-diving gear, shooting a shotgun and big mama from at least 2 miles away.  Give ‘em hell Paul!

While the spiders do come across as a little robotic, they more than make up for it with fire breathing and with some

Nobody move. Is it still on my head?

more-than-adequate CGI.  It’s a really fun flick with some great one-liners.  This movie doesn’t disappoint in the cheese factor and has some great death scenes.  Of note is the fantastic homage to Samuel L. Jackson’s famous speech in Deep Blue Sea.  I won’t give it away, but if you’ve seen Sammy’s scene you’ll see this one coming 3 miles away.

Sit back, relax, and watch as a bunch of albino, echo-locating fire-breathing cave-dwelling prehistoric spiders take their revenge on a city that doesn’t already have enough damage.  In the end I’d put

Don't worry. I've got this one. I'll kill it with this diving suit and my shotgun.

this movie on any night of the week, although I may carry a can of spider spray in my car from now on, just to be sure.

Arachnoquake premiers on SyFy and Space (the great Canadian SciFi channel) this Saturday, June 23.  Don’t miss it!

 

 

 

 

Arachnoquake (2012) Trailer

*Full disclosure – I received a free prescreener of this movie from Space.  However I guarantee that had no affect my review or thoughts on the film.

 

 

 

 

 

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Return of the Living Deep-Fried Cheese

Jersey Shore Shark Attack (2012)

by Jason D. Grooms

After a long hiatus, the Deep-Fried Cheese column is returning. Why? Quite frankly I’ve been watching a lot of great cheese lately and I feel like they’ve been lost in all of the Avengers/Prometheus/Hunger Games/blah blah blah chatter that has dominated the movie scene this year.  Where is the hype for Piranhaconda or Arachnoquake? And what about recent classic “versus” films like Dinocroc vs. Supergator or Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus? It’s a cinematic travesty I tell you!

And so, to prevent my fellow cinephiles from being completely consumed by films with a so called “budget” and “A-list” actors I’m shocking Deep-Fried Cheese back to life.  I can no longer stand by and watch movies with “choreography” and “acting” and “effects” take the spotlight away from a wholly underappreciated genre of films.

Razortooth (2012)

It’s a genetically mutated piranha that grows from 6 inches to 30 feet in one day and can fly through the air to crush buildings along the riverside or a 12-foot-long swamp eel that climbs through trees and across land to sever people cleanly in half with a single bite.

These aren’t movies that will touch your soul or change your life (although a few might cause spastic colon or itchy-twitchy bladder.)  Instead, these are movies that just plain entertain you, pure and simple. Movies that make you laugh and give you something talk about or even laugh at around the proverbial water cooler.

For me it started with a love for the original Godzilla (Gojira)movies. They were so ridiculous, so

Gojira (1954)

unreal, that I loved to love them.  I knew that was a guy in a rubber suit stomping Matchbox cars with firecrackers taped to them, but none of that swayed my affections.

Maybe it’s my love for an extreme underdog – the fact that so many people make fun of these movies or hate them.  Maybe it’s just my teenage antiestablishment attitude that draws me to a movie full of 8-foot-tall rabbits terrorizing innocent produce trucks.  Maybe it’s experiencing stories, themes, or effects so ludicrous that I have to admire the sheer guts it takes to produce and direct.  Then again, maybe they just entertain me.

Whatever the case, I can promise you that I’ll continue to adore these movies and do all that I

Eegah (1962)

can to help spread the word of their cheesy brilliance any chance I can.  Over the next few months here are a few of the titles I plan on covering – a mix of both old and new.

Before you read the reviews, go to your local video vendor (or bargain $3 movie bin) and watch them for yourselves.  If you have a favorite that isn’t on the list, leave a comment and let me know.

 

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Deep-Fried Cheese: Movie Review – Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus (2010)

by Jason Grooms

It’s a calm, normal day deep in an African blood-diamond mining operation. The workers are digging away in a muddy, unsupported mineshaft overseen by an machine-gun-wielding slave driver. What is the worst thing that could happen? A 1,500 foot prehistoric crocodile gets woken up and goes on a rampage, that’s what. Oh, don’t forget the fact that there is a ship crushing mega-shark tooling around now destroying everything in it’s path. I’ll stay in the mines thank you.

Mega Shark versus Crocosaurus is the sequel to the outrageously campy Sci Fi Channel TV movie production of Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus (2009). Unfortunately the first installment was at least endearingly cheesy and had the relatively regurgitated star power of one 80’s pop star Debbie (Deborah) Gibson and long-haired hero Lorenzo Lamas.

In the first movie scientist Debbie Gibson unwittingly frees a prehistoric giant shark (a megaladon) and giant octopus which were frozen in arctic ice. Debbie and Lorenzo spend the rest of the movie trying to stop the sea-going calamity these two prehistoric titans cause throughout the seven seas. The finale involves an epic battle between the fishy behemoths and what we believe to be the end of both.

The movie works because it toes the line of one of the worst movies ever made, on ever single level. From the awful stock footage seemingly dug out from some underfunded backwoods library, to the garage built submarine set, and the cartoon-like CGI monsters that appear to change size dramatically depending on what they happen to be chomping on. It’s a perfect storm of badness mixed with a bolt of magic lightning, unrepeatable. If nothing else, it’s worth it just to catch the scene when the shark jumps to 30,000 feet to catch a 747 out of midair.

Unfortunately, in the sequel the SciFi channel tries to repeat the formula almost exactly. The dug-up stars in this one are Jaleel White of Urkel fame and Robert Picardo best known for his TV work on of Star Trek Voyager and two of the Stargate series. They realize that the shark was not in fact killed during their last encounter and now it’s back for revenge. Meanwhile the crocosaurus has gone hermaphrodite and impregnated itself so it can lay hundreds of eggs all over the globe.

Jaleel White plays a shark researcher with a set of guns and about as much scientific knowledge as Dr. Doolittle. He uses his newly invented shark caller to lure the shark and croc together for another titanic battle. Robert Picardo plays the admiral of the US Navy ship tasked with killing the gargantuan menaces.

At first blush it would appear that they’ve recaptured previous magic. The creatures are still over-computerized. The sets still look like something you could put together from a half-day shopping trip to the army surplus store. The actors deliver performances on par with something out of a 1950s propaganda film. The story is as ridiculous and illogical as Charlie Sheen’s comedy tour.

And yet with everything the first movie had, MS V CS doesn’t have the same sparkle even if you count the final shot of the two sea creatures biting each others tails as they slowly spiral sink into the undersea volcanoes and burn into bizarre yin-yang symbol of scaly cinders.

These movies really open up up the broader question of cinematic philosophy, “Is a campy movie cool if it tries to be campy from the beginning?” I’m not sure if we can really answer that question in a single review, but one thing is for sure, it didn’t work with this one.

Even the most hard-core cheese lover will have a hard time watching the DVD bloopers on this one without fully expecting one of the actors to look straight into the camera and mouth the words “kill me, please.”

Even with that all said, the latest SciFi Channel atrocity  is already in my queue and will soon be on its way to my house. Mega Python Versus Gatoroid. Hey! It has Deborah Gibson AND Tiffany.  I couldn’t resist.

 

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Deep-Fried Cheese: Movie Review – Night of the Lepus (1972)

by Jason D. Grooms

There are few things more terrifying than an enormous man-eating creature with a penchant for terror and a lust for wanton destruction.  It’s even worse when that creature has enormous teeth that can chew through steel and attacks in droves with no emotion or remorse for the mayhem they cause.  Now what if those creatures were the product of man’s hubris and pompous belief that he can control nature and bend it to his will?  I’ll tell you what.  It’s a produce truck driver’s worst nightmare – 10 foot tall rabbits with a lust for blood.  Be vewwwy vewwwy quiet – or they will KILL you!

"Maybe we could set up a giant box with a carrot underneath."

Night of the Lepus is one of those wonderfully rare examples of a phenomenal B-movie that’s so corny it’s wildly entertaining.  With the star power of DeForest Kelley (Bones from the original Star Trek) this movie tromps along with one after another insanely unbelievable shots of rabbits thumping through a miniature town or chewing on poor townsfolk.

It opens with the plight of a rancher who needs to rid his land of the pesky rabbits who have overrun his pasture land.  Looking for an environmentally friendly alternative to just gassing the whole damn 1,000 acres, he turns to professor Elgin Clark (Kelley) for help.

The good professor begins injecting the rabbits with a serum meant to disrupt the rabbits reproduction cycle and stop them from breeding like…well…rabbits, but there is an unfortunate side effect.  They begin to grow, at an alarming rate.  At first only to the size of those odd, dog-sized state fair rabbits that look like they’d be fun to walk around the block and kick the ass of that stupid chihuahua that lives around the corner.  But it doesn’t take long for them to begin to grow to a much more dangerous size.

As the rabbits make their way to town the deputy calls out with his police bullhorn perhaps one of the greatest lines in cinema.  “Attention!  Attention!  Ladies and gentlemen, attention!  There is a herd of killer rabbits headed this way and we desperately need your help!”  Who wouldn’t respond to that?  I mean I would totally grab my pitchfork, torch and chicken wire and follow him into battle.

Here come the bunnies!

Once they rabbits have reached “killer” size they begin to seek revenge on the town and kill indiscriminately.  In one horrific scene (and probably one of my favorite film scenes of all time) the rabbits attack a produce truck and not only murder the driver but completely gut his truck and devour all of the contents therein.  Oh the poor carrots…  It’s a gruesome sight indeed.

"Give me your celery!"

Nothing escapes their bloodlust as they continue the rampage – not cow, nor horse, nor goodly shop keepers.  By the way if I’ve learned nothing else from watching all of these movies, it’s that there is never a kindly shop keeper that comes out on top.  They always seem to meet a most untimely and bloody death.

In the end the professor and his posse must find a way to stop this lop-eared menace and put an end to there furry frenzy.  Finding that the rabbits have holed up in an abandoned series of caves outside of town during they day, the heroes attempt to blow them up with good old fashioned dynamite and trap them in the tunnels.  Incredibly the plot does not work.

In the end the National Guard is called in and the heroes are forced to try to drive the herd of fuzzy death-bringers into a deadly trap.  I’ll leave the ending for you to experience on your own because it is a fantastic scene indeed.  I will tell you that it features lots of great shots of rabbits flopping wildly around in what looks like a finely crafted model train set.

OK. Seriously. How do you get a rabbit's lips to do that? Superglue?

Of all the creatures that could be considered scary or frightening or unnerving, rabbits have to  be at the bottom of anyone’s list.  In fact, there is no mention of rabbits in the trailer, poster or even in the movie’s name, which uses the animal’s genus, Lepus (perhaps because it’s more scary than calling it Night of the Killer Bunnies).  Maybe that’s what makes this movie so good.  The absolute absurdity of it.  The rabbits tromp through fantastic miniatures and the close-ups that are meant to show a menacing toothy visage of evil are cause for some serious laugh-out-loud moments.

Yet despite it all, I LOVE this movie.  This was the first uber-cheesy movie that I ever watched and it got me completely hooked on the genre.  It is a must see for any creature feature lover, MST3K aficionado, or really anyone looking for a movie that delivers 2 tons of furry, bloody awesomeness.

Night of the Lepus (1972) Trailer

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Deep-Fried Cheese: Movie Review – The Alligator People (1959)

by Jason Grooms

Have you ever worked with someone and thought, “I wonder if they have anything interesting or strange in their past or maybe there’s a deeply repressed memory in there somewhere?”  Well if you worked in Dr. Lorimer’s office, had a degree in psychiatry and a handy dandy syringe full of sodium pentothal, you would be in for a world of fun.  Not only that, but your coworker will smile and say, “Why wouldn’t I be ready for my ‘session.’” But what happens if you learn in that session that your coworker had a seriously screwed-up former life that was so traumatic, so unbelievable that she had buried it somewhere deep and dark under a Donna Reed exterior?  You shoot her up and record the fun of course!
“I really need some Pro-Active Solution.”

The Alligator People is more than just a raving 50’s B classic from director Roy Del Ruth featuring some classic man-monster action.  It’s also a must see for fans of the classic horror legend Lon Chaney Jr.

The story opens with a psychiatrist named Dr. Erik Lorimer (Bruce Bennet) telling a colleague about his amazing assistant, but he wasn’t discussing her incredible transcribing skills as you might expect.  Instead he is describing her completely repressed former life and how he discovered it using measly injections of dangerous drugs.

The heroine, Joyce Webster (or Jane Marvin, depending on whether you ask before or after the mind-altering drugs) is played by Beverly Garland of Scarecrow and Mrs. King fame.  Her story is one of pain, betrayal, suffering, and good old fashioned WTF?

Before she became a trained nurse, Joyce was once a blushing bride.  On their honeymoon train ride, her husband Paul (Richard Crane) receives a mysterious telegram that causes him to mysteriously, and without explanation, disappear at the very next stop.  As it turns out, years earlier during the great war (WWII) Paul was involved in a terrible plane crash which caused injuries rendering him almost unrecognizable.

Unbeknownst to his wife, he had volunteered for a super secret experiment in which the scientist, Dr. Sinclair (George Macready) infused his subjects with alligator DNA to help them attain amazing reptilian powers of regeneration.  The good news is it gives the subjects the ability to heal from almost unimaginable injury.  The bad news is that it also causes them to slowly transform into terrible mutants.

"What's the matter baby? Is there something in my teeth?"

After the disappearance of her fiance from the mutant express, the lovely Joyce sets out on a journey to find her husband, who apparently she knows next to nothing about except that he once lived at the Cypresses Plantation.

When she reaches his childhood estate, she meets Manon (Lon Chaney, Jr.), a worker at the estate, along the road who warns her that the swamp is no place for a girl like her, and that the “damn slimy gators” will eat her alive as soon as look at her.

The Cypresses turns out to be an estate run by Mrs. Lavinia Hawthorne (Frieda Inescort) who is eventually revealed as Paul’s mother and who runs an extremely tight [lipped] household.  The telegraph that Paul received was to warn him that the treatment was a failure and that he would soon be turning into a reptilian mutant.  He is so ashamed of his new, scaly visage that he hides himself from his love and convinces his whole family to take part in the murky charade.

Nothing goes together like moonshine and radioactive experiments.

One night as Joyce tries to deal with the reality that she may never know what happened to her new husband, a strange figure tracks mud onto the beautifully manicured carpet downstairs and begins playing a haunting piano solo.

When Joyce investigates, she smells a rat (or reptile as the case may be.)  Eventually she decides that she has to take matters into her own hands tromps into the swamp looking for Paul.  Unfortunately, all she finds is a drunken Manon who does his best to bed the fair maid in his picturesque swamp shack.

After tripping over a few obviously-sedated gators and more than one African python, the blond beauty makes it back to the estate and convinces the good doctor to try a risky new experiment to save her beau.

Unfortunately, in the middle of the incredibly sensitive radiation treatment, Manon returns even more drunk than before and botches the whole procedure, effectively turning the only-slightly mutated Paul into a full on gator-headed freak.

I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that the whole thing ends in a strange pseudo-ethical debate between Joyce’s employers about whether to tell her the truth or let her go on blindly oblivious.

If for nothing else The Alligator People is definitely worth a watch to catch Lon Chaney going all whiskey-crazy no less than twice and for the kick-ass rubber gator head donned by Paul towards the end.

The Alligator People (1959)

 

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Deep-Fried Cheese: Movie Review – The Quick and the Undead (2006)

Quick and the Undead Poster by Jason Grooms In a bizarro world where Clint Eastwood forgets how to act, zombies eat their own guts, and being a cowboy means hunting the undead with a bb gun, one man stands alone as the hero, a man who faced impossible odds.  This man who did what no ordinary human being could possibly do, what no one thought could be done.  He watched every second of Quick and the Undead. That man…was me. OK, so it wasn’t really that bad.  In fact for a (really) low-budget indie horror flick it was pretty damn good. But like a ripe tub of limburger, some bites required a little nose pinching. Written, produced, and directed by Gerald Nott (most known for his assistant editor credits), Quick and the Undead was released in 2006 by Anchor Bay Entertainment who is responsible for releasing the Evil Dead trilogy on VHS on DVD.  It features the nearly unknown talents of Clint Glenn as the hero Ryn Baskin, Parrish Randall as Blythe Remington (the J.R. Ewing of zombie hunters), Nicola Giacobbe as the underhanded Hans and Erin McCarthy as the lone female lead Hunter Leah.

"Say... headcheese!"

"Say... headcheese!"

The story begins 80 plus years after an unknown viral apocalypse, and the government has put a bounty on all zombies and which is what all of the movie’s characters have settled into for an apparently profitable vocation.  The movie opens with a gnarled montage of a Clint-Eastwood-esque character named Ryn Baskin amputating a finger then carefully arranging it, along with a dozen others, into neat little rows.  Then slowly and dramatically he injects himself in the arm with a strange clear liquid (and more than a few bubbles). After a little more careful preparation Ryn sets out on his motorcycle and meets up with a weaselly character named Hans to make a deal for a bucket of zombie chum.  After a rousing albeit brief game of zombie-head target practice, Ryn is promptly double-crossed and left for dead over a bag of zombie fingers. Once the bad guys (and girl) are gone, Ryn slowly awakens and seems to recover from a point-blank gut shot (and a zombie bite to the forearm) and begins his quest for vengeance against the evil-doers.  With the help of a seemingly repentant Hans, Ryn tracks the unethical zombie hunters to a place called Union City where we learn that the lead ne’er-do-well, Blythe Remington has been infecting people with zombie juice on purpose in order to keep his hunting business going.  The climax has a few twists including a spy amongst Blythe’s gang and lots of zombie irony including a cool “reawakening.”

"You found me beautiful once."

"You found me beautiful once."

In a year when Big Momma’s House 2 grossed over $137 million internationally, it’s easy to lose perspective and think that a micro-budget film like Quick and the Undead should have makeup and effects on par with the remake of Dawn of the Dead.  This movie was made with a scant $100,000 and completely unknown actors, yet it still managed to tell a decent story. The protagonist Ryn was a not-so-subtle amalgam of Clint Eastwood’s past western characters but he had attitude and a completely badass duster and hat combo going on.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a few plot holes and some lines of dialogue that make you squint and say, “um….what?!”  Take this exchange between Ryn and Hans after Ryn puts down a couple zombies. Ryn: “Every Hunter has rules, kill the fresh ones first, their muscle tissue is still intact, they’re still capable of running and lunging, then pick the rotting ones off one by one.” Hans: “What if you are outnumbered?” Ryn: “Numbers don’t matter if you stay in an open field. Most zombies are slow, you can outrun them. That is why you never go inside; a zombie will always outlast you, and get you when you’re trying to escape. Never go inside.” Huh? What does going inside have to do with outlasting?  Is it suspension of disbelief or suspension of logic?  It is after all a zombie movie. On that note, zombie purist may not take to movie because of the distinct lack of flesh eating action and weird mix of zombie makeup styles (not to mention the weird roaring sound they seem to make toward the end of the movie) but there are a few good gore-hound satisfying scenes including one in which a captive zombie is made to eat his own guts.  There also isn’t a lot of real western or cowboy action either.  In fact aside from Ryn’s cool-as-hell wardrobe, the whole thing has more of a “modern redneck Texarkana” vibe than old west meets living dead. Quick and the Undead gets 2 out of 5 wedges.

The Quick and the Undead Trailer

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Deep Fried Cheese: Movie Review – Empire of the Ants (1977)

Empire of the Ants Poster

by Jason Grooms

There is nothing worse than attending one of those high pressure time share meetings.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  You get a free boat ride, drinks and a meal and in exchange you have to put up with the pushy sales lady who keeps bugging you about buying into some crazy vacation resort.

After 30 minutes on the stupid tram tour of the half-finished resort all you want to do is get out of there but then some 6’-tall ants, who’ve been exposed to radioactive waste, completely trash the boat.  Then you have to sit and listen to nothing but complaints from the other guests as you have to ride an overcrowded boat through the swamp to survive the onslaught of killer insects.

You know the meetings I’m talking about.  I hate those things.  Totally not worth the boat ride and free scotch.

Empire of the Ants is a wonderfully “B” sci-fi/horror flick that was released in 1977, the same year as Star Wars IV: a New Hope and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It stars Joan Collins as the pushy sales lady and a young Robert Pine as the philandering sexual predator.  It’s directed by Bert I. Gordon, who also directed many other great sci-fi classics such as Earth vs. the Spider and Food of the Gods, about an island filled with giant bugs, chickens and an army of giant, blood-thirsty rats.

Empire of the Ants is based very loosely on an H.G. Wells story of the same name.  The movie opens with the foreboding scene of a strange boat methodically dumping barrels of radioactive waste into the ocean. Then our entire band of characters boards a boat of their own to be transported to a remote beach in the Florida Everglades for a high-pressure sales presentation with cut-throat saleswoman Marilyn (Joan Collins) on a yet-to-be-built vacation resort called Dreamland Estates.

After a few cocktails, we find out that many of the “buyers” are only attending for the free trip and Empire of the Ants - Choke Holdbooze.  While on a guided tram tour of the resort’s undeveloped grounds, they come across the mangled body of an island worker and eventually other guests.  It doesn’t take long before they meet up with the giant ants, who subsequently destroy the boat and the remaining survivors are forced to trek through the swamp by foot and using a small boat.

They find a town on the edge of a massive sugar plantation, but their relief is short-lived when they find the town’s residents have been brain-washed by the queen’s pheromones into serving the new colony of giant ants.

This was one of those movies that I caught on late night cable TV back in the day when cable was brand new and you still controlled the cable box with a wired remote that slid between 15 channels.  I’ve always loved creature features with a cast of unlikable human characters that make you cheer for the monster when he finally chomps into one.  This movie is no exception.  From sexual assault Larry to land-scam Marilyn, the “heroes” keep you begging for more mauling.

Empire of The Ants - Water FightOne of the things that always amazed me about this movie is how they got real, live ants to cooperate for the wide angle shots.  Some of the scenes are obviously just shots of the ants moving about in a miniature set, but there are a lot of different shots of the ants standing still and twitching menacingly.  Although in a few scenes you begin to get the distinct impression that the film makers got a little creative with super glue.

The full sized ant puppets weren’t too bad, but are more typical of a 1950’s puppet monster than something you’d expect out of 1977.  A bit hairy and not too scary, they did move rather well although as with most large puppets, they didn’t move nearly fast enough to seem real.

Some of the best scenes in the movie are when the ants finally get hold of a human snack and go to town on them.  The best scene of all comes at the end when they encounter the queen.  I won’t give anything away, but I’ll tell you it involves a road flare, a sugar refinery and a lot of pissed off ants.

I definitely recommend this to any lover of fine cinema cheese.  It’s an absolute classic and, if  for nothing else, is worth watching for Joan Collins.  The last ¼ of the movie involving the ant queen and the strange town doesn’t seem to fit whatsoever with the rest of the movie. It does, however, leave you asking how the ants could set this whole, elaborate “empire” up in a matter of a couple of hours. Regardless, it’s definitely a fun ride.

There’s nothing quite as fun as calling out the absurdities in a plot or character motivations and this flick provides plenty of fodder. On my Deep-Fried Cheese scale Empire of the Ants gets a solid 3.5 wedges, fully ripened.

Empire of the Ants Trailer

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