Mad Prof. Mike's Headbanger Movie Reviews

1995 by Mike Marano

Hello, America!! This is Mad Prof. Mike with the Headbanger Movie Reviews!!

In honor of America's sweetheart, Nancy Kerrigan, taking the role of Cruelle De Vil from Disney's One Hundred And One Dalmatians on her recent TV ice show spectacular, I decided to dust off the animated original.

One Hundred And One Dalmatians is the most harrowing, terrifying motion picture experience I've had since I saw Psycho at the tender age of ten. This is a breakthrough horror film, and by all means, you should encourage your kids to see it. It'll traumatize them to the point where they'll be as malleable as old Gumby dolls; they'll do whatever you say. Just tell them to be good or Cruelle De Vil will get them.

That's right. Nancy Kerrigan's new role on her ice show is one of the great villanesses in history, leaving in the dust lightweights like Lucretia Borgia, Typhoid Mary, and Patty McCormick in The Bad Seed. She looks like an obscene hybrid of Zsa Zsa Gabor and an anorexic Siouxie Sioux. And if that weren't scary enough, she wants to kill and skin 99 Dalmatian puppies in order to make luxurious dog-skin coats out of them.

Now, let me spell out a little formula for you. A little paradigm. In a kid's mind, a Dalmatian puppy equals... a kid. Therefore, One Hundred And One Dalmatians equals Silence Of The Lambs!!

(Remember how Jame Gumm purred: "IT PUTS THE LOTION ON ITS SKIN OR IT WILL GET THE HOSE AGAIN!!??")

And the really sick thing is, in the ice show, the Dalmatian puppies were played by.... LITTLE KIDS IN DOG SUITS!!! Oh, maaaan! If she takes this thing on the road, it's going to be the nastiest live performance since de Sade's little productions in the nut-hatch!!!

So, if it comes around, take your kids to see the new ice show, Mr. and Mrs. Suburban America. You'll never have to worry about a dirty bed-room or unwashed dishes again. Just tell the little darlings Cruelle will get them. Heh, heh, heh.

Let's see if anyone has balls enough to bash Nancy's kneecap after this role.

One Hundred And One Dalmatians gets, on our headbanger scale of 1-4, FOUR BIG HEADBANGS.

Boy. Unca Walt must have HATED KIDS!!!

As T.S. Elliot wrote: "I grow old, I grow old. I shall wear my combat boots rolled."

Your humble professor is feeling his years. It was a little disheartening when I had to grow out my hair becuase I looked really stupid with a receeding mowhawk. It was a little disheartening when, while standing in line to see the U.K. Subs, I realized that I could have fathered some of the spiky-haired, barely weaned, weenbags I stood amongst. I nearly fainted when a guy who writes for the same Punk Rock Magazine that I do was recruited by MTV for almost 100 grand a year as part of MTV's campaign to be more "authentically punk."

I bring all this up because the new movie TANK GIRL is an attempt to cash-in on this new MTV-type Punk Rock Resurrection. TANK GIRL is a pre-fab piece of crap, that is, above all else, boring. It looks really cool. But it has no heart, no REAL spiky-mean attitude. Everything that's cool about the TANK GIRL comic book has been tossed by the wayside. Lori Petty just runs around and giggles, "Hey! Look at me!! I'm Tank Girl! Aren't I cute?" The action scenes are edited like a rough cut. There are gratuitous animated sequences cynically added for the MTV LIQUID TELEVISION crowd. This is Punk film making for dumb suburban kids.

Don't get me wrong. The Lost Boys was MTV-influenced Punk film making for dumb suburban kids, but it was an okay vampire movie in its own right. TANK GIRL isn't a good action movie, or a good comic book movie. The only good thing about TANK GIRL is Malcolm McDowell playing what he plays best: A PSYCHOTIC FROM THE FUTURE. Well-well-welly-well-well-well!! But Malcy-Walky is in the viddy just a malanky bit. It's a big tolchock to the yarbles that he's not like, the real star. He's real horrorshow.

So, on our headbanger scale of 1-4 TANK GIRL gets two headbangs, mostly just for the 20 minutes or so that McDowell is on screen.

There is, however, a little bit of hope for Jurassic Punks like me in the midst of this 90's colonization of Punk Rock. I mean, The Business is back, and I actually got to see them on their (I think) first ever US tour. It was incredible! Worth the 16 years wait.

"Do I dare to eat a peach? "

You damn well bet I'm gonna eat that peach!! I'm gonna EAT THE LIVING HELL OUT OF IT!!!

If you love movies cheezier than mountains of molten mozzarella moving like magma over the surface of a cheap pizza, I've got a winner of a loser for you. It's so bad, it transfixes you as it plays out before your aesthetically disbelieving eyes.

The movie is WHITE COMANCHE, a 1968 Spanish Western starring William Shatner as half-breed identical twins. One twin is a Comanche warrior bad guy, the other a noble gun-slinging Cowboy. AND IT'S EVERY BIT AS BAD AS YOU COULD HOPE IT TO BE!!!

WHITE COMANCHE is prime "let's-drink-beer-and-make-fun-of-this-piece-of-crap" fodder. There's this amazing scene where Shatner, as Notah, the evil Comanche warrior, is chasing a woman to have his wicked ways with her. He's shirtless, in full war paint, AND HE'S RUNNING IN THAT TRADEMARK PIGEON-TOED WAY, JUST LIKE CAPT. KIRK DODGING MORTAR BLASTS FROM THE GORN!! You expect Finnegan to jump out, deck him, and say: "Ahhh! Jimmy, me boy. Look at you! You're an old man!" His buckskin pants sag, so you can see the false tan line where his Comanche body make-up has worn off.

The Comanche women have big, poofy late 60's bouffants and fake eyelashes, like the wives of Apollo astronauts. You keep looking for Mirimani, and you just know that at any moment Shatner's gonna scream "I AM KIROK!!" You won't believe how Notah's lines sound delivered in Shatner-ese. "My brother is afraid to live like Comanche," as said by Shatner, sounds like Jay Silverheels explaining to some sherbet-colored brains that humans don't wager anything as petty as kwatloos.

As Cowboy Johnny Moon, Shatner says great lines like "Notah is well named. His belly is white, like the snake!" There's a saloon brawl where Shatner uses his Federation hand-to-hand combat training to bust a guy's head and break all the furniture in the joint.

And when you see Cowboy Shatner confronting his Comanche body double, you'll swear you're watching the product of some weird transporter malfunction. And what the hell can you say about a Western with a JAZZ SCORE?

On our headbanger scale of 1-4, WHITE COMANCHE gets four mega-camp Headbangs.

I'm reviewing an early 60's TV production. True, this is a movie review column, but the TV production in question was written by Joseph Stefano, directed by Leonard Horn, starred Bruce Dern, and had special effects by Wah Chang and Jim Danforth. How many early 60's movies had credentials like that?

I'm talking about one of my favorite episodes of THE OUTER LIMITS-- THE ZANTI MISFITS!! (Out on MGM home video.) Someone slipped me a tape of the first episode of Showtime's new OUTER LIMITS show: SANDKINGS, and it really ticked me off!!!

Both new and old OUTER LIMITS episodes deal with hostile alien bug-creatures, and it's a shame that Showtime took George R.R. Martin's amazing science fiction story, "Sandkings", and turned it into an episode of THIRTYSOMETHING... complete with an aging, long-haired hippy protagonist whose daddy doesn't approve of him and who isn't getting along with his son. The only thing missing is a scene where the guy's wife, over coffee, says: "John... we just don't talk anymore!!"

The whole mega-Gothic tone of the old OUTER LIMITS is missing from the new show-- the sense that the universe is big and scary and malignant, and that all scientists are updated Faust figures.

THE ZANTI MISFITS is about powerful, unseen aliens who coerce the US Government to close off a section of desert so the aliens can use it as a penal colony. The alien criminals escape, giving the special effects guys the chance to show off some pretty amazingly disgusting, surreal-looking creatures. THE ZANTI MISFITS has all the punch and science fictional sense of confrontation with unknown that George R.R. Martin put into his story, "Sandkings," and that Showtime had no clue what to do with when they filmed it.

So, on our headbanger scale of 1-4:

The original OUTER LIMITS episode THE ZANTI MISFITS gets three and a half headbangs. George R.R. Martin's story, "Sandkings," gets four headbangs. The new Showtime episode of THE OUTER LIMITS based on "Sandkings" gets one and a half.

That about wraps it up.

You know, there's no monster in 1957's THE ELECTRONIC MONSTER. The alternate title for this movie is ESCAPEMENT, and there's no real escapism in it either....

What is in THE ELECTRONIC MONSTER is lots of baaaad French accents. The movie's set in the South of France, in a small private clinic where super-duper high-tech dream therapy is given to lots of really rich industrialists, so all the minor characters get to mumble in hokey Inspector Clouseau speech patterns that are as convincing as Tonya Harding's defense arguments.

I counted at least twenty uses of the phrase "How you say" in this movie. You know what I mean... that quintessentially French saying. "But Monsieur!! We must wait for the results of the ... how you say? zee autopsy!!"

Then there was the classic, "No, Monsieur!!! Ze Doctor ees not in!! Please have a seat in zee ... how you say? Ze waiting room!!"

And the ever popular, "Please pass the... how you say? Zee salt! ce vous plait!"

My favorite hokey Fake French character in the movie is a coroner who looks and sounds like Jaques Cousteau after a bad industrial accident. The dude looks worse than the bodies on the slabs.

It turns out that some bad guys are using the super-duper hi-tech dream therapy machines to brain wash rich people in an attempt to conquer their bank accounts and maybe conquer the world while they're at it.

By the time the evil plot is revealed, you really don't care. Along the way, we're treated to the old 1950s sci-fi flick ploy of having our hero run into a former girlfriend as the plot thickens and she is placed in danger, so he can eventually rescue her.

And of course, midway through, he has to recount everything we already know to her, in case anyone watching this dumb flick is too dumb to follow the plot.

It's hard to believe THE ELECTRONIC MONSTER was written by Charles Eric Maine, who wrote another, pretty amazing science-fiction thriller set in a psychiatric clinic, THE MIND OF MR. SOAMES. But then again, THE ELECTRONIC MONSTER was directed by Montgomery Tully, the guy who directed BATTLE BENEATH THE EARTH, so these things even out.

On our headbanger scale of 1-4, THE ELECTRONIC MONSTER gets 1 and a half bored headbangs.

The ELECTRONIC MONSTER is available from Sinester Cinema in Medford, Oregon.

I'm a big fan of Italian horror maestro, Dario Argento. The man has an unbelievable gift for elevating your standard drive-in flick full of arterial spray to high art. Check out SUSPIRIA, some time, or TERROR AT THE OPERA, if you don't believe me. He not only directs great flicks, but he writes and produces them, as well. He did the writer/producer teatment for Lamberto Bava's incredible DEMONS, one of the best splater-fests of the 1980s.

But sometimes, even the mighty Dario Argento stumbles. THE CHURCH, produced and written by Argento and directed by Agento protogeŽ Michele Soavi, is a serious dud, a pretty lame attempt to re-make DEMONS set amidst the trappings of a Gothic cathedral.

The idea of THE CHURCH is that after a group of Teutonic Knights kill a village of Satanists, they put the bodies in a mass grave and build a church over it to contain the evil. Now, you know what happens whenever you try to contain evil in a horror movie, folks. Some lame jerk of an archeologist or histotorian comes along and breaks the seal off the tomb, or reads an incantation he shouldn't, or removes a mummy, or something like that.

A few years ago, I was in grad school studying Medieval History, and the professors NEVER told us to do any of that stuff!!!

Maybe because they'd seen enough movies like this.

The problen with THE CHURCH, and it's a BIG problem, is that whenever something cool and creepy happens, we cut to something lame. So, when an ugly fish demon jumps out of a baptismal font and bites a guy's face off, we cut to the priest whose Latin is bad trying to read an inscription. When a dead guy comes back to life and kills a teacher leading a field trip, we cut to a guy whose Latin is bad trying to read another inscription. Nothing's followed through. THE CHURCH is a waste of time. Unless, of course, you haven't done your Latin homework. I guess it would provide incentive to work hard on it.

On our headbanger scale of 1-4, THE CHURCH gets two headbangs.

There was this great movie I saw about ten years ago. Blew me right out of my socks. But, every time I recommended it to folks, they said, "Yeah... it was kind of cool, but it wasn't THAT good..."

I couldn't figure it out. Until I rented 1970's BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW myself, and saw that the US video release was ten minutes shorter than the version I'd seen and loved. BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW is a dark, murky, hard-to-follow flick, and with ten minutes chopped out, it becomes a jumbled mess.

Well, hot damn... I found the uncut version of BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW. It's the 1989 Cannon Home Video release. This is the one you should see, not any other.

BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW is a grim, depressing, REALLY SCARY flick set in rural 17th century England -- sort of a cross between ROSEMARY'S BABY and THE SEVENTH SEAL. I won't tell you the plot; the beauty of this flick is that you have to figure it out for yourself. There are no BS scenes where the local priest wisely explains what's going on, because none of the characters DO know what's going on, and you're just as confused and scared as they are. There's something big and bad and hairy loping around the countryside taking specific chunks out of people... it's part of a truly twisted puzzle that comes together in the last ten minutes, and the more you figure out, the more sick this movie becomes.

BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW was made for about ten dollars and fifty cents, but the atmosphere and photography are great, and the re-creation of the time of Cromwell is absolutely convincing, more so than a lot of big-budget movies set during the same period.

The movie also has a kind of hippy aesthetic that I'm a sucker for... you know what I mean. There was a whole slew of movies made in the late 60's and early 70s, set in the 17th century, that were about witchcraft: THE CONQUEROR WORM, CRY OF THE BANSHEE, a couple of Hammer movies. These movies transposed the late 60s generation gap on to Witch Hunting, so there are lots of scenes of horrible old people persecuting young people with long hair.

Ooooooh! Groovy!

Maybe middle aged pus-guts who jerked off about the 25th aniversary of Woodstock last year should rent a couple of these movies and get a sense of perspective. "Don't take the brown acid!" should be replaced by "Don't take the stale Ex-lax!" but I digress.

On our headbanger scale of 1-4, BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW, the complete, 1989, CANNON HOME VIDEO REALEASE, gets four headbangs. It's 100 minutes long, watch out for cuts that are 90 minutes long.

Something kind of ugly may be coming on the horizon.

I'm talking about the MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 MOVIE that's in the works. For those of you who don't know... MST3K, as it's known, is a show on cable where we, the viewers, watch a guy and two little robots watch cheesey movies and make fun of them. I like MST3K... even though they sometimes make fun of movies I really love, such as TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE, and THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE. But I freely admit that these are movies that are cheesey, and can be made fun of with no lasting ill effects.

But a MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 MOVIE? Where we sit in a theater watching a movie of a guy in a theater watching a movie? I don't know if that will work... especially if the movie that's going to be made fun of in THE MST3K MOVIE is... THIS ISLAND EARTH!!

THIS ISLAND EARTH is a really cool movie!!! It's a nifty 1950s sci fi flick, partly ghost directed by JACK ARNOLD, for God's sake!!! It's about these funny looking aliens, led by Jeff Morrow, who kidnap Earth scientists so they can work on their planet's defensive barrier against their mortal enemies.

I love THIS ISLAND EARTH. It has all kinds of cool stuff, like a car driven by the guy who plays the Professor on Gilligan's Island getting blasted by a death ray!!! And a flying saucer abducting a airplane in mid-air!! And a nifty space battle 20 years before STAR WARS. And, one of my favorite bits... an exploding German scientist!!!

THIS ISLAND EARTH is the only movie I know of where you get to see an entire planet bombed to smoldering crap by spaceships piloting meteors to the surface. And there's a really cool Bud Westmore Space Monster Mutant, too... And nifty Technicolor special effects by Clifford Stine. Sure, the star of THIS ISLAND EARTH is Rex Reason, and he's kind of easy to make fun of, but it's one of the best sci fi flicks of the 50's, the only one that really feels like the kind of pulp sci fi that was being published back then, the only one that really feels like a comic book.

So, on our headbanger scale of 1-4, THIS ISLAND EARTH gets three headbangs... FOUR if you're in a really goofy mood.

Later.

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