Plot: A construction crew in the
Caribbean raises two frozen dinosaurs, a tyrannosaurus and a brontosaur
(more accurately an apotosaurus), as well as a cave man. A small boy
befriends the latter two while the first goes on a rampage.
Like the movie’s
dinosaurs, this obscure film was drenched up from the long ago past, here
via the DVD revolution. It proves to be a fun little flick, although
obviously aimed at the younger members of the audience. The T-Rex is an
all out monster, and his reign of terror is fairly violent, while the
brontosaur and cave man are more often played for humor. If you guessed
that the cave man eventually ends up involved in a pie fight, give
yourself two points.
- The first point of interest is the
ungrammatical title. You gotta appreciate people who go to such
extremes to come up with an exciting name for their movie. And that
exclamation point really goes the extra mile.
- I like the way the title appears letter
by letter across the wide screen. Nifty.
- Ah, a Jack Harris production! Mr. Harris
was also responsible for The Blob.
- Stanley Cortez was the Director of
Photography? Why, he worked on They Saved Hitler’s Brain, Navy
vs. The Night Monster and Doomsday
Machine (!). There’s a pedigree.
- That’s guy’s got a certain flare.
Ha ha…oh, wait, you can’t see the movie.
- Filmed in the Virgin Islands, huh? Way
to write off your vacation, dudes.
- "Si! Soon big boats will land in
the harbor. Then much happiness!" Hmm, Hispanic, are we?
- And the villain, Hacker (who looks like
Bluto wearing a white Boss Hogg suit) is French?
- Back Projection Alert!
- And Bart, the hero, is American?
- Evidence that Hacker is a jerk: He
mistreats his girlfriend. He’s mean to his ward Julio, the film’s
Cute Young Boy. In his capacity as ‘island manager’ he makes life
heck for Bart and his crew. Oh, and he’s big and fat and has a black
beard. (Plus he’s French.) Boo! Hiss!
- Boy, that guy looks rather buff.
- That explosion effect didn’t look that
- Look at Bart and Betty argue. (Still and
all, I think they really like each other, though. You know, like
- So the explosion knocked Betty’s
Mother’s ice cooler down into the waters of the bay? Whatever. If it
gets her to strip down to her swimsuit and dive in, I’m not
- Aiiee! Underwater dinosaur sighting!
(Needless to say, Betty faints, so it’s a good thing Bart followed
- Uh, I hope you’re only trying to get
her breathing again, buddy.
- Actually, if water is ‘ice cold,’ it’s…oh,
- So, wait, Betty saw the dinosaur and
Bart didn’t? How does that work?
- Buff Guy (he’s in a swimsuit now, and
yeah, he’s rather beefcakey) runs in and reports finding two ‘monsters’
down in the bay. I think the idea is that the bay-clearing explosions
blew open a subterranean cavern, making visible the two beasties.
Still, I’m impressed that Buff Guy could determine that they were
"frozen solid" just be swimming past them.
- Being the villain, Hacker immediately
exclaims, "This ought to be worth a fortune!" You realize
that your greed seals you a horrible fate by the end of the movie, don’t
- "Some compressed gas caused the
freezing, I guess." Huh?
- So your plan is to remove the dinosaurs
from the water, heave them onto the beach and wait for scientists from
the Smithsonian to arrive? Yeah, the bodies should be in pretty good
shape by the time they get there.
- OK, Buff Guy, we know you’re all cut
and everything, so you can put your shirt back on now.
- Watch out! That frozen dinosaur almost
crashed into the rear screen projection!
- Bart looks at the dinosaur and asks
Betty "Is that what you saw?" No, she was talking about some
other giant monster entirely. The dinosaurs were just an amazing
- Julio is an expert on dinosaurs? Well,
he is a ten year-old boy, so that’s fair.
- Hmm, a drunken Irishman. (Forgive me for
being redundant.) This island is a regular multicultural paradise. I
don’t know if the drunk guy should be left to watch the dinos all
night, though. I wonder what will happen now…
- I was going to make a joke about O’Leary
saying "Saints preserve us," but then he actually said it.
You have to hand it to him, the man knows his stereotypes.
- Wait, is that rainstorm supposed to be
thawing out the dinos? Wouldn’t the heat do that pretty well by
- Enough with the brogue, O’Leary. Yes,
we get it, you’re Irish.
- You know, I’ve been looking at Hacker
and…evil, fat, bearded guy on an island…holy crap, it’s Rich
- Ha, Hacker just tried to break a bottle
to threaten Bart with and sliced his hand all up. How come I’ve
never seen that happen in a movie before?
- Wait, when the dinosaurs have thawed
out, they’re alive?! What an amazing twist!
- Even so, why are they generating dry ice
- Why are they thawing out at the same
time? Doesn’t the Bronto mass about five times as much?
- Yeah, try to protect yourself from the
cave man with a stick of dynamite, O’Leary. Good one.
- There goes the T-Rex after O’Leary and…ewww!
That was surprisingly gross.
- Wait, how did O’Leary manage to blow
up the dynamite shed from way over there? Oh, well, there go the
- And all the island phones are out, eh?
- Island Girl: "My father taught me
how to make bombs out of bottles and gasoline." Boy, good thing
you remember the recipe.
- Why’s that fat guy called ‘Dumpy’?
And do I want to know?
- Ahh…stop-motion dinosaurs. Nothing
- Wait, they’re not going to let that
T-Rex eat that whole busload of…ewww!
- Hey, the lady in her cold cream and Cave
Man saw each other at the same time and they both screamed and ran
away! Now that’s comedy!
- Does a Brontosaurus really need to be
told to run when a T-Rex roars from nearby?
- Hmm, Cave Man is over by the island’s
only short wave radio. What will happen now?
- Hey, Cave Man, don’t eat that wax
fruit! Ha, ha, what mischief will you get into next?
- OK, enough of the ‘Cave
Man-in-the-modern-house’ comedy, already!
- How come whenever somebody calls a dense
guy a big word (here, anthropologist) he always thinks you’re asking
about his religion? I’m pretty sure the answer isn’t ‘it’s
funny,’ because it’s really not.
- Hey, more ‘Cave
Man-in-the-modern-house’ stuff. Thanks.
- Why is that woman’s picture in that
round frame? Because she’s making a cameo appearance. Ha, I
- Hmm, a pie. I’m starting to get a
- Hacker’s taking on the Cave Man? Well,
he’s not a coward, anyway.
- Ha, Hacker took the pie right in the
kisser. Bet you didn’t see that…oh, you did? Never mind.
- "If we have to run all night we’re
going to catch them." Wasn’t that a Duran Duran song?
- Now wait, how the heck did Julio get on
the back of that Brontosaurus? And did Syd Hoff know about this movie?
- Oh, come on, why do girls always trip
over stuff like that?
- Girl wakes up in cave with Cave Man and…whoa,
- Ha, now he’s poking at her and she’s
trying to distract him with jewelry. I swear, this is right out
of Eeagh! Boy, someone should have been sued here.
- Watch out for the T-Rex! Oh, crap, looks
like the Bronto’s going to buy it. Ouch! Goodbye, big fella.
- "Not that way, it’s
quicksand!" Hmm, I’m starting to get a premonition…
- People trapped in cave…giant monster
trying to claw its way in…where do they get their ideas?
- "These things [the Molotov
cocktails] don’t bother [the T-Rex] a bit!" Yes, it’s well
known that dinosaurs were fireproof.
- "Maybe if I could pop [a Molotov
cocktail] right in his mouth he’d decide to beat it out of
here." Yeah, even a dinosaur might not like that too much.
- "You throw one of those [Molotov
cocktails] as close to his eyes as you can. That’ll attract his
attention." Yeah, I’d think so.
- Hacker’s going to feed Julio to the
T-Rex. OK, now he’s been upgraded to a major league jerk.
- Cave Man dies heroically to save the
others. Ah, the pathos.
- Ha, Hacker’s been buried under the
rubble. That’ll learn ‘im.
- Hey, the Bronto’s the nice
dinosaur. It’s bad enough you had him get all chewed up by the
T-Rex, but now he has to stagger into the quicksand and sink away?
- OK, you picked Drunk Irish Guy to guard
the dinosaurs earlier. Now you picked Narcoleptic Guy to stand watch.
Who’s running this chickenstuff outfit?
- Hey, that guy just said the title!
- Somebody get those extras to act, would
ya? There’s supposed to be a T-Rex headed your way, you know.
- Ahh, a T-Rex fighting a crane scene!
Man, they don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
- Tonka Toys to the rescue!
- There goes the T-Rex over the cliff. Ha,
that’ll learn ‘im.
- Ouch, right on his neck. I don’t care
how big you are, that’s got to hurt.
- Hmm, T-Rex back in the water, the words
"The End" making an appearance, and…yep, there’s the big
question mark. Bum bum bum.
Summation: Fun monster
pic suitable for all but the youngest viewers. The DVD looks very nice
and contains the trailer and a photo gallery.
For another take, check
out Lyz's thoughts at And
You Call Yourself a Scientist?
Face the Evil
Plot: A film star and her
associates visit an art gallery slated to be used as a set for her next
picture. She also wishes to reestablish her relationship with her
estranged curator sister, who is jealous of her sibling’s fame.
However, petty bickering must be put aside when a band of terrorists
traps them in the gallery and they are forced to fight for their lives.
This is a sequel (!) to No
Contest, starring DTV and cable movie queen Shannon Tweed as an
action film actress who stumbles regularly into Die Hard like
terrorist situations. As in the earlier film, Tweed is supplied with a
male B-Movie star second banana (Robert Davi in No Contest, Bruce
"Passenger 57" Payne here). Each also provides her with
top-notch B-Movie villains. Earlier it was Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay (!)
and Roddy Piper, here Lance Henriksen, who, as usual, is way too good
for this film. The picture is technically proficient, and Tweed and
Payne are fine, with Henriksen much better than that. Compared to most
such pics, this one is pretty good. It has its flaws, though:
- For a film described as "Die
Hard in an art gallery," and featuring terrorists trying to
get their hands on a deadly leftover Nazi nerve gas (!!), the flick is
way too serious.
- Tweed can kick but she can’t really
fight, and her brawls are obviously edited in short cuts in a failed
attempt to disguise this. Her character also seems strangely hesitant
to kill her opponents, leaving the same ones to pop up over and over
again to terrorize her. (Meanwhile, she intentionally and quite
cold-bloodedly murders Henriksen in the most horrific fashion
possible.) You’d think after being in a similar experience before --
which is never really referred to, oddly -- that she’d have
developed a bit more of a killer instinct.
- The running bit with the heroes and
Henriksen calling each other over walkie-talkies is a little too
baldly reminiscent of its primary forebear.
- The jealous younger sister routine and
her inevitable rapprochement with Tweed is pretty grim stuff. And the
‘revelation of past child abuse’ angle is just distasteful.
- What’s with the henchman who complains
about an innocent being killed, but who then takes great joy in
needlessly murdering a bystander just a few minutes later?
- Lots of little things don’t go
anywhere, like the death of Henriksen’s girlfriend that momentarily
has him calling for revenge and then is forgotten about. Or how about
the comic relief klutz actor who’s too clumsy to believe, as when he
can barely run down a flight of stairs without keeling over, but is
then brutally murdered in a drawn-out sequence.
- There are the usual magic guns that fire
forty or fifty shots until the script calls for them to run out, etc.
The hero’s MacGyver-ish abilities are a bit of a stretch as well.
Why not throw in an f/x director, so that the technical knowledge
- I especially like how Henriksen turning
out to be the villain is supposed to surprise us, since the casting
utterly telegraphs it. Why would you blow money on Lance Henriksen in
a movie like this if he weren’t the Bad Guy? Duh.
Summation: Let me put it
this way. If you watch a lot of Cynthia Rothrock and Don "The
Dragon" Wilson movies, this will seem pretty good. If you only see
theatrical stuff, though, this probably won’t be your cup of tea.
Plot: An alien force
takes over the director of Lab Central, a strategic U.S. research
facility. Soon he telepathically activates a gigantic robot in Mexico,
quickly dubbed Kronos after the mythical Greek giant who devoured the
world. Like its namesake, Kronos only consumes, absorbing any and all
electrical and atomic energy sources. The Earth is doomed unless the
remaining staff of Lab Central can figure out how to stop this unearthly
The ‘50s provided slews
of interestingly varied cinematic monsters, many of which were basically
elemental forces. The greatest such is undoubtedly The Blob. What
makes it unique is that it is entirely non-intelligent and reactive. It
basically just rolls around and eats anything it can attach itself too.
(This is why I strongly disliked the remake, where The Blob is at least
semi-sentient.) Other like menaces include The Magnetic Monster
and The Monolith Monsters. Perhaps the most interesting after The
Blob, though, was Kronos, a ten-story tall cubist robot sent to suck our
planet dry of all artificially generated power.
The most interesting
aspect of this film (other than it’s truly neat looking ‘monster’)
is that it stars Jeff Morrow of The Giant Claw fame. This allows
us to compare two otherwise generic ‘50s sci-fi films, one of which is
utterly torpedoed by it’s horrendously ill-conceived and realized
menace, the other raised above average by dint of it’s equally
well-designed and executed monster. Both films are laughable
scientifically, quite evidently cheap (although The Giant Claw is
noticeably ahead on that count), stolidly acted and filled with reams of
unintelligible techno-babble. Yet one features a wildly inept alien
threat and the other an impressively interesting one, and therein lies
all the difference.
Despite its good points,
the film boasts many bits of silliness.
- The main characters are right out of
central casting. There’s the manly scientist who seldom thinks of
anything but Science, his comically exasperated and horny fiancée,
who can barely get his attention, and the obligatory sexless male
scientist sidekick. (To give the film points, the sidekick actually
makes it through the movie alive.)
- Much of the comic relief here is fairly
brutal. For instance, Lab Central’s gigantic mainframe computer is
named Susie, which we eventually learn stands for Synchro Unifying
Sinometric Integrating Equitensor (!!). (This is explained via a sign
spelling all this out. Oddly, Morrow’s fiancé, who has been working
at the Lab for some time, has to have this pointed out to her, despite
her standing right in front of the sign.) Morrow in particular is
provided with some groan-inducing repartee.
- Morrow, of course, was famously
victimized in The Giant Claw by the post-production special
effects. Here he is too, although in a different way. At one point he’s
tracking what he believes to be an asteroid via a special telescope
display and is surprised when it appears to shift course. However, in
the finished film, the ‘asteroid’ he’s looking at is a classic
and quite patently constructed flying saucer. It even pulses with
light! Meanwhile, to suggest the ‘subtle’ change of course, we
watch as the craft zips all over the place. In relation to Morrow’s
constantly referring to it as an asteroid, this is pretty funny stuff.
- There’s too much going on in this
picture. The guy-possessed-by-an-alien subplot could easily have been
jettisoned and made room for further use of the intriguing Kronos.
(Although it’s quite possible that the effects budget dictated how
much screentime the robot got.)
- The special effects are quite variable.
Many of the copious matte shots are pretty obvious, and the techniques
used to realize Kronos fluctuate greatly in quality. Especially silly
are some cartoon shots used to portray the mechanoid scooting about
- We see the standard newspaper headlines
trumpeting the film’s plot developments. Per usual, these are added
to mock-up newspapers that come pre-printed with generic sub-articles.
Here we get some doozies. "ASTEROID HEADING FOR EARTH!"
screams The Daily Chronicle, while smaller above the fold
headlines inform readers that "Increase in Commuter Fares
Debated" and "Court Seeks Adjournment." Meanwhile, the
"FAILURE" of an atom bombing to destroy the menace is
accompanied by "New Petitions Against Tax" and
"Building Code Under Fire." However, I especially like
"GIANT ON RAMPAGE / HEADED FOR H-BOMB STOCKPILE", followed
by "Limited Farm Bill Favored" and "Fund Reaches Goal;
Building to Start Next Month".
- Ouch! Stereotyped Mexican couple.
- The scene where a doctor (Ankrum)
examines the possessed lab director and fails to notice that his face
is strobing with light is pretty riotous. Actually, all of the
time-wasting stuff in the hospital is pretty lame.
- Why is there a carved wooden rooster
behind that TV newscaster?
- Hmm, two lovers on the beach. They run
from the water and fall to the sand, kissing passionately as the waves
crash upon them. Hey, wait a minute! Was this made before or after
From Here to Eternity?!
- Boy, that file copy list of NUCLEAR AND
THERMONUCLEAR SOURCES is pretty handy!
- I don’t know, I think if I heard my
fiancé shrieking in terror I’d respond faster than that.
- Ah, the classic "Stray Remark that
Inadvertently Inspires the Solution." Nor is the "We’ll
turn its energy back on itself!" idea all that novel.
- Uh, when Kronos gigantically exploded
like that, didn’t it kill the entire population of nearby Los
Despite my nitpicking,
though, many facets of the film are above average:
- The opening score is quite good and
strangely familiar. For some reason I’m thinking it was used as
background music for some cartoon series or other, although the
composers worked on myriad other genre films and might have recycled
the motif in other flicks. Unsurprisingly, a Theramin makes its
presence known early in the movie.
- Casting wise, we not only get Morrow,
but the ubiquitous Morris Ankrum as well. Robert Shayne, star of Neanderthal
Man and Morrow’s co-star in The Giant Claw also pops up
for about thirty seconds, in a bit so disconnected I wondered if it
were shot for another film.
- The opening scene of a man driving late
at night on an empty desert highway, a pretty standard ‘50s sci-fi
sequence, is quite well done. I especially like that the radio is
playing a recognizable song, the Nelson Riddle-Johnny Mercer standard
"Something’s Got to Give," rather than a generic bit of
library music. And while the song is an instrumental version, it’s
still a rather wry joke. The opening lyrics of the tune, well known to
audiences of the time, are "When an irresistible force such as
you / meets an old immovable object like me / you can bet as sure as
you live / something’s got to give, something’s got to give,
something’s got to give." Given the nature of the film’s
menace, the implied reference to irresistible objects and immovable
forces is quite droll.
- As I mentioned, some of the effects work
is questionable. On the other hand, much of it is quite good,
particularly the matte paintings used to depict Kronos itself. The
saucers shots are also decent. The scene where Kronos absorbs the
energy of an atom bomb (other than the stock footage of the atom bomb,
which is run backward -- mushroom cloud and all -- to suggest the
digestion of the blast) and the robot’s eventual destruction are
both surprisingly spectacular.
- The lab sets, including super-computer
Susie, are quite elaborate for this kind of thing.
- Ah, boy, they made cool cars in the ‘50s!
But I digress.
- The crash of the saucer (especially the
resultant tidal wave) and the subsequent first appearance of Kronos
- The artist’s sketch which accompanies
the initial newspaper account of Kronos’ appearance is noticeably
inaccurate. That’s a nice touch.
- The scene where Morrow and the others
land on top of the towering robot to investigate it is genuinely
creepy. You keep wanting to shout "Get off of there, you
- Kronos’ first attack, on an electrical
plant, is pretty nicely done, too.
- Again, the bit where Kronos absorbs the
atom bomb blast is really neat. In a nice moment, the robot
consolidates itself into a cube so as to protect its extremities from
harm prior to assimilating the energy.
Summation: All in all, a
standard ‘50s genre pic elevated by an unusually cool menace. This is
one film I’d actually like to see re-made, maybe as a cable film, so
that modern effect techniques could be used. Fans of the era will not be
disappointed. Make sure to get the DVD, which gorgeously presents the film
For another opinion (although from a non-letterboxed copy, apparently),
check with our good friends over at Stomp
Nude on the Moon
Plot: Two astronauts go, uh,
well, you know, and find women who…look, do I really need to spell this
out for you?
This feature was one of the
‘nudie cuties’ directed by sexploitation goddess Doris Wishman.
Jabootuians with a historical bent will remember Ms. Wishman from one of
our earliest reviews, Double
Agent ’73 with Chesty Morgan. This film has been released to DVD
by Something Weird, who has similarly released her two collaborations with
Ms. Morgan, as well as a double feature of a couple of her ‘roughies’
(harder edged sexploitation films containing more distasteful elements
such as rape and disturbing violence), Bad Girls Go to Hell and Another
Day, Another Man.
- I generally try to go to the main menu
of a DVD right after I’ve loaded it, because some discs will start
the film up immediately if you just let them play. Meanwhile, the menu
reveals what extras, if any, have been included. On the Something
Weird discs, however, if you go directly to the menu, you’ll miss an
entertaining montage of film clips from their various outré video
holdings. After this has run, the disc drops you off at the start
- The print quality at first is sharp (it
is a DVD) but rather scratchy. Given the film, though, this largely
seems appropriate. In any case, it quickly smoothes out. We open on a
less than credible moonscape against a Christmas light star field,
with the Earth represented via a painting. An amusingly old fashioned
tune, "Moon Doll," accompanies this image. You know, many
would think this static sequence a good spot for the credits, but
Doris Wishman has her own way of doing things, as always.
- Oooo, cartoon credits! Ahhh! Ohhhh!
- If these stills represent our movie, we’re
in for a treat, me thinks.
- "All characters and situations in
this film are ficticious [sic]." You don’t say?
- OHMYGOD, LOOK AT THAT AWESOME CADDIE!! I
could do without the purple paintjob, though.
- Royal Castle Hamburgers? Don’t mind if
- Uh, Professor, silver spray paint and
shellac should not be applied to your hair.
- Well, there’s nothing cheaper than
long swaths of expository dialog, I guess.
- Those matching belted jumpsuits you guys
are wearing sure are nifty!
- So a rich uncle has left Our Hero Jeff
the three millions dollars he needs to build his long-dreamed of
rocket ship, eh? (Even in those days, I doubt three million clams
would have cut it.) That’s handy. I especially like how Jeff could
wait for the government to pay for the project, as they promised to,
but just decides not to.
- Oh, I see, the silver spray paint is so
when the Professor claims he’s too old to join the flight, we won’t
notice that he’s about thirty-seven.
- Well, there’s nothing cheaper than
long swaths of expository dialog, I guess.
- So…two guys can build a rocket in six
months, eh? (To be fair, they’re planning to work more than eight
hours a day.)
- Oh, Jeff, can’t you see that your
secretary Cathy secretly pines for you! She’s the one that loves
you, not this Mary Foster. Admittedly, we haven’t met Mary Foster
yet, but I’ve seen lots of movies, so I feel pretty secure making
- So you can build a moon rocket from a
lab that looks like a Walgreen’s Pharmacy and sports a typewriter
from 1927? Where’s their phone? I bet they have to crank it and ask
Edna to connect them to their party.
- Don’t all secretaries keep eight by
ten headshots of their bosses in their desks? And don’t all rocket
scientists have eight by ten headshots made up?
- What’s going on here? We’re twelve
minutes into the movie and no shoe shots yet? Are you sure Doris
Wishman directed this picture?!
- Hmm, larger beaker containing a
blue-colored foaming liquid making wacky Flubber-like sounds? Yep,
that’s a lab, all right.
- Oscilloscope Alert!!
- Well, there’s nothing cheaper than
long swaths of expository dialog, I guess.
- Oh, Professor, stop talking about how
old you are, ya phony. You’re not fooling anyone, you know.
- Um, so Jeff has a brilliant career in
"Nuclear Physics" before him, eh? And he can design and
build a spaceship and create a fuel for it in six months? Talk about
your Renaissance Man!
- "Jeff, I’m almost old enough to
be your father!" Dude, you’re both the same age! Deal with it!
- Hmm, so Jeff is virulently against
getting married, eh? I wonder how this movie ends?
- Monkey In A Cage Alert!
- Boy, is anything more versatile in a lab
than dry ice?
- How come your facilities are so much
larger on the outside than the inside? It’s like a reverse TARDIS.
- So, by not notifying the Press you can
launch your rocket ship without anyone noticing, eh? Well, you learn
something new every day.
- Damn, look at all those cool cars! This
is killing me!
- Wait, what? You guys aren’t even at
the rocket yet and you should be back from the moon in four days?
- Hmm, what’s that on that movie theater
marquee over there? Hideout in the Sun (in NUDEARAMA)? Gee, I
wonder who directed that?
- You know, I find it very strange that
typing NUDEARAMA didn’t trigger one of those squiggly red spell
- Nope, not the second time, either.
- Oh, it’s because it’s all in caps.
- You know, ordinarily when you tell
someone to turn on the radio and try to find some music, you then
actually have to turn the radio on before the music starts. (On the
other hand, when I was a kid my Uncle Doug had a button under the
floor mat of his car. By tapping it with his foot he could turn the
radio on and off. [Of course, he used to tell us to touch his nose and
said it was magic. Lying Bastard!] So maybe Jeff’s got one of those,
- I have to say, this film is
extraordinarily well directed compared with the Chesty Morgan ones.
- When did you guys drive all the way out
here and build your rocket? We’ve only seen you at your lab.
- Yeah, that HUNTLEY ROCKET PROJECT sign
really sells the scene.
- Here’s at tip for you filmmakers. Save
money on your rocket ship movie by not showing your rocket ship. Matte
paintings cost money, ya know!
- As they get ready to take off for the
moon, Jeff observes to the Professor, "This is the biggest moment
of my life. How about you?" Yeah, people never forget being the
first humans to blast off for the moon. We’re just sentimental about
stuff like that, I guess.
- OK, I don’t know what episode of Thunderbirds
Are Go! you stole those shots of a rocket ship from, but it ain’t
working. Still, they did show the ship.
- Are you guys being affected by g-forces
or are those radishes you had for lunch just acting up?
- Uhm, are you sure that’s the cockpit
of a rocket ship?
- I really, truly believe that I’m
looking at Mother Earth from outer space. It’s uncanny.
- Why are you guys talking to each other
over CB radio handsets? You’re literally sitting right next to each
other, and you’re not wearing helmets or anything.
- Cartoon Meteor Storm Alert!
- You realize that the landing module in
no way matches the shots of the rocket as seen earlier, don’t you?
- I have to say, it’s a well-designed
rocket ship that lands itself when its occupants are unconscious.
- OK, and I think I’m qualified to make
this judgment, those are without doubt the goofiest moon suits that
have ever been used in a movie.
- How come when we saw the module land
seconds ago it was on your typical barren rocky landscape, but now the
moon looks just like the wilds of Florida? Hey, wait a minute, where
was this film shot?
- In a lame effort to shirk responsibility
for the life-on-the-moon idea, they have Jeff note "How do we
know it’s the moon, Professor?" Because they fell unconscious,
remember? You know, if they rip off that bit from Abbott and
Costello Go to Mars where the boys’ rocket lands at Mardi Gras
and they think it’s another planet…
- "What irony, Professor," Jeff
philosophizes. "The very first arrive to land on the moon and we’re
limited to so short a time." Uh, how exactly is that ‘ironic’?
- OK, the reason that they’re limited to
exactly thirteen hours on the moon is that’s how much air is
contained in the small scuba tanks hanging from their backs. Now, I’m
no rocket scientist, but did they even think of, oh, I don’t know,
packing a spare tank or two on board their ship?
- So we have these two brilliant
scientists, and they’re surrounded by a lake and verdant foliage,
and the notion that maybe this area sports an oxygen atmosphere hasn’t
occurred to them yet?
- Oh, brother! Yep, there’s just big
hunks of gold sitting around on the grass. (?) Hmm, usually it’s
diamonds (which makes more sense plot-wise, since I’m not sure
transporting gold on a rocket ship back to Earth could even
conceivably be profitable). Gee, I wonder if the Professor will get
gold fever, while Jeff stalwartly attempts to advance Human Knowledge?
- Oh, oh! The Professor’s developed gold
fever. Good thing Jeff’s there. He, at least, remembers that the
point of the mission is to advance Human Knowledge.
- Jeff examines the gold and notes,
"Once we leave the moon the radiation belt may alter the
characteristics of this metal." In fact, we’re told, it could
change to "worthless dust." Hmm, I wonder where this is
going. (Nowhere, actually. After this scene the gold idea is never
broached again.) And this phenomena only works on gold? Because I’ve
been sort of assuming that their ship was made out of metal, too.
- Can you really tell how pure gold is,
and what the grade of it is, by glancing at it through a tinted
- OK, we get the point of the scene. Can
we move on now?
- Our Heroes spot a ladder leaning against
"Professor! A ladder."
Professor, remarking on it:
"The same construction as on Earth!"
- Look, behind the wall! A nudist colony!
Well, I never. Although, now that I think about, it does explain the
- OK, to be precise, it’s actually a
- What’s with that lounge music?!
- And to think, at one time this was ‘hot
- So…she taps the Professor with a wand
and electronic HAL music plays and then…what? And wow, it even works
through his helmet. Well, I guess that’s supposed to be a jail cell
or something. Oops, there goes Jeff, too.
- So this is it? All this for the chance
to stare at topless women from before the days of the health club for
- Why is The Queen’s ‘telepathic’
voice so whispery? Don’t tell me it’s supposed to be ‘cool’ or
- You know, if I lived in a society of
(almost) nudes, I wouldn’t fashion all of the furniture out of
- Boy, one minute later and that whisper
voice is already driving me up the wall. And what an innovative plot
device. The Queen argues (why?) that she believes Our Heroes have come
in peace, while others argue they should be destroyed. Where do
filmmakers get their ideas?
- If the Queen can unilaterally decide to
free the earthmen, why did she bother to call for a meeting of *cough*
the Great Council? Speaking of: Here’s a clue as to whether one is
destined to be an actor or not. If you can’t shake or nod your head
without it looking really phony, then the answer is no.
- Wait, they use the antennas on their
heads to communicate? But they’re attached using that ‘arrow
through the head’ novelty gag technology. I don’t know, that just
doesn’t seem right.
- With all they’ve seen so far, it’s
some dry ice vapor that makes Jeff exclaim, "I must get a record
of that!" Uh…OK.
- "Notice anything strange?"
Jeff asks. Hmm. Well, the moon is a verdant plain with trees and lakes
and chirping birds and, oh yeah, a society of telepathic nude humans
living on it. Other than that, though…
- I’m not sure if the line "I saw
you on the throne before" is really the icebreaker to use when
approaching a topless alien woman.
- Wow, the Queen is attracted to the
handsome Earthman. There’s a plot twist.
- Huh? Where did he get that pen and
- Am I the only one to notice that the
Queen looks exactly like Cathy, Jeff’s lovelorn secretary?
- Hey, where did those aliens get that
Nerf football? "That’s a good shot, get that too," the
Professor remarks as the aliens toss the football around. Yeah, that’ll
astound scientists back home, as our Earth nudists only play
- So, uh, this is pretty much it, then?
- You know, if Andy Borntreger was
reviewing this, he’d get tunnel carpel syndrome from typing
"RANDOM GRATUTIOUS BREAST SHOT!!" over and over again.
- So, humor on the moon involves moon
women donning a leaf mustache, eh? Well, the Earth certainly leads the
all-important Comedy Gap, anyway.
- [Five minutes later.] So, uh, this is
pretty much it, then?
- I was going to say "That’s more
nudes than you can shake a stick at," but apparently I was wrong.
- Yikes! Work on those glutes if you’re
going to display them that way, would ya?
- Look, a space wheel barrel! And it’s
the same construction as on Earth!
- No offense, but I think the zither was
used to better effect in The Third Man.
Topless interpretive dance!!
- Those topless people sitting in a
semi-circle look about half a minute away from saying
"Zoom!" to one another.
- Should that little (totally) nude tyke
really be waving the all-powerful Whammy Wand around?
- Given all the butt crack on display, I’d
have to guess that this is a society of Space Plumbers. (Suggested
alternate film title: Moon on the Nude.)
- "Notice the vapor rising from her
bath! I wonder what causes it. Get a picture." What, again with
the vapor? What’s the big frickin’ deal? Hel-looo,
Brainiac. Dry ice, ever hear of it?
- [Ten minutes later.] So, uh, this is
pretty much it, then?
- OK, you’re on a planet with water,
plant life, birds, fish and some being obviously pretty human-like
beings. And you’re still worried about your oxygen supply? Boy, I
remember when space explorers used to doff their helmets at the first
- OK, third rendition of "Moon
Doll." Let it go.
Further topless interpretive dance!!
- Wait, you brought candy along on
your exploration of the moon’s surface? And let’s see now: Candy,
a camera, that pen and notebook…where’s this stuff coming from?
You’re not carrying backpacks or anything.
- Hey, don’t give the Queen that
chocolate! What if it’s poisonous to her, ya moron?! Sheesh.
- "Well, Jeff, we’ve only got an
hour of oxygen left, and it might take us that long to get back to the
ship." Yes, especially as it was established earlier that you two
had been walking for three hours before hitting the colony.
- Jeff’s decided to stay although it
means his doom. Ah, the pathos.
- Oh oh, Whisper Voice. Why does she call
him ‘Earth Man’? Is they can communicate telepathically wouldn’t
she have gleaned his name by now?
- One touch of the Whammy Wand and he’s
ready to reboard the ship, eh? Boy, could the A-Team have used that to
get BA on all those airplane flights!
- Uh, so it took six seconds to get back
to the ship?
- OK, again, you’re using that same
module landing footage again, only running it backwards. And now it’s
even more noticeable that the green tinted traditional moonscape
portrayed here doesn’t exactly match what the characters have been
wandering through for the last half hour.
- I’m not buying all those flames in
- What, you left your camera behind?
"Oh, no, our only proof!" What an idiot!
- [Back on Earth] Uh, that model you’re
holding doesn’t remotely look like your ship, you know.
- What, Jeff’s just noticing the
resemblance between Cathy and the Queen now? And he’s a scientist?!
- Hmm, movie’s over, but we get a fourth
play of "Moon Doll." Well, you win some, you lose some.
- For those wondering, the extras on the
disc include the trailer, a film short called "Moon Strip,"
– har har -- that’s almost worth the price of the disc alone
("Maybe space driving is easier for dizzy dames," the
narrator chuckles. "There less traffic."), and a gallery of
advertising materials from various Doris Wishman movies. The problem
with the latter, as is unfortunately true with all the Something Weird
discs I’ve seen, is that the posters proceed at a quick set pace, so
that you can’t freeze frame and examine them more closely. What the
heck is that about?
Summation: Harmless fun for
the Star Trek crowd.
Plot, such as it is: The
adventures of The Debs, a female gang, and their inevitable downfall.
Holy crap, they sure don’t
make them like this anymore. One of the things Quentin Tarantino did to
avoid directing movies after Pulp Fiction was to select cheesy old
exploitation films for re-release to the art house market. Then either he
lost interest or the films didn’t do that well, because I haven’t
heard much about the idea since they put out Mighty Peking Man a
year or two ago. In any case, Switchblade Sisters is the real
cheese. Its quintessential ‘70s roots are apparent directly during the
opening credits. These feature a classic wakka-chicka theme song
("Black Hearted Woman") and black and white still shots of the
films characters, which are examined via the zoom in and freeze-frame
method so emblematic of that decade. Said credits, by the way, skitter
about in a manner more than a little reminiscent of Sergio Leone’s Once
Upon a Time in the West.
The film is truly a peak of
the era. It’s sharp, well written, acted and directed and looks great.
Our main characters are members of the Dagger Debs, the girls who service
the members of the Silver Daggers, the local Italian street gang. Lace is
their leader and attached to Dominick, the head of the gang. Her character
is pithily summed up in the opening moments of the film. We first see her
sharpening her knife on a wet stone, after which she applies perfume and
preens in her tight gang outfit in the mirror. Living in a ghetto-y
apartment complex, we are introduced to her crew as they rob a merchant
(who’s a leech, of course). This fellow’s ‘crime’ was taking Lace’s
lay about Mom’s last forty bucks by threatening to repossess her TV set.
On the other hand, it’s hard to feel sorry for someone who gives up the
family food money rather than surrendering their TV.
All the clichés are
present and accounted for here. The Debs meet up with the Silver Daggers
at a local meeting place and harass all the other customers. There they
meet the foxy Maggie (well played by Joanne Nail), who stands up to them
and holds her own in a fight with gang psychopath Patch, so called
because, inevitably, she has only one eye. We know Maggie has the right
stuff when she blinds Patch by tossing pepper into her one good eye (!),
but she refuses to join the gang. Briefly sent to juvie for robbing the
merchant, they encounter your classic fat bull dyke jail keeper, ‘Mom’
Smackley. Then, when ‘Ma’ starts working over Maggie, Lace and the
others kick Smackley’s ass. This, of course, creates a bond between
Maggie and Lace, and she joins the gang.
Complications pile up.
Patch is jealous, perhaps in a sexual manner, of Lace and Maggie’s
blossoming friendship. Then Dominick, uh, forcibly makes Maggie his number
two girl, so to speak. Patch, playing Iago, uses this as a wedge between
her and Lace. (Maggie, due to Lace’s feelings towards him, doesn’t
inform her of his actions.) Meanwhile, another high school is closed down
and members of a rival gang, led by a fellow named Crabs, end up in The
Silver Daggers’ school. Eventually, Dominick rebuffs Lace entirely and
all hell breaks loose. "If you go," Lace screams, "It’s
gonna turn out bad!" That’s not much of a threat, though. Movies
like this always turn out bad.
Films such as this can still
startle today. As with Blazing Saddles, for a more mainstream
example, this film could only have been made in a brief period. Prior to
the ‘70s, the film’s fragrant violence, nudity and overall nastiness
would have precluded its existence. A few years later and the beginning of
the political correctness movement would have made it equally impossible
to be produced. It’s hard to imagine a film being made today with such
uniformly unsympathetic characters, although we are, no doubt, supposed to
identity with the Debs more than anyone else. More unlikely is a film that
so casually employs the lexicon of slang terms for the female reproductive
parts as colorfully as this one does. Not to mention the scene where
putative heroine Lace cavalierly humiliates Donut, the only remotely ‘fat’
member of the gang, who’s perhaps fifteen pounds overweight.
Still, the Debs are the
ones we’re supposed to root for here. In a world in which everyone is
corrupt, the Outlaw Code prevails: Loyalty to your own is the only mark of
personal honor. However, Lace, for all her hellion ways, is given a fatal
flaw: She deeply loves Dominick. He, meanwhile, is naturally a prick. When
Maggie gives him a sappy letter from Lace, he mockingly reads it aloud to
his laughing crew. Still, although the characters are uniformly
unpleasant, they are also vividly drawn. In the bit mentioned before,
Dominick becomes slightly hesitant as he reads out Lace’s letter,
obviously as he starts to realize just what an insult this is. When an
irate Maggie slaps him, he moves to hit her and then stops and shruggingly
admits that he is, as she accuses, a bastard. This is confirmed in spades
when he shows up at Maggie’s apartment and rapes her. When he finishes
-- in a realistic thirty seconds -- he views her angry reaction (driven
partially from the pleasure she received from the act) with surprise.
"What are you complaining about," he asks, honestly confused.
"You asked for it, didn’t you?"
Like I said, we hit all the
notes. There’s the classroom scene, wherein Lace and Maggie beat up a
loudmouth jerk, mostly because they view themselves as having the
franchise on being disruptive. Nor do you have to be Nostradamus to
predict the fate of Dominick’s inept younger brother. Meanwhile,
hilariously, the rival gang is a group of white – and hence ersatz --
anarchists, writing subversive literature while polishing their AK47s.
(Ah, the ‘70s.) Their real crime, we eventually learn, is that they
really yearn to be part of the corrupt power structure. They are also
introduced, I suspect, to dissuade us from our earlier thoughts that the
Silver Daggers must represent some of the oldest high school students in
history. At least they don’t entirely ignore this. Later in the picture,
Dom asks "Getting a little old, ain’t ‘cha Crabs? When you gonna
I’ll leave the final half
of the film for you to see.
Summation: Well crafted exploitation sleaze for those who like it without
sugar or cream. Influences of its time include a raw feminism and
aggressively cynical Leftist social commentary. The easily offended should
steer clear, but buffs will find this B-Movie heaven. Check out the DVD,
which is packed with extras, including an amusing and informative
commentary track with Quentin Tarantino and writer/director Jack Hill.
Tokyo has something to say about this one, too.
-by Ken Begg