Archive for the 'What the F did I just watch' Category

20
Jan
17

The Demoniacs (1974)

It’s not that I don’t like Jean Rollin, because I do, actually. Even still, every time we watch one of his flicks the first thing I wonder is how long it will be before I end up drifting off to sleep? Well, the magic number with The Demoniacs was 46 minutes.

demoniacswreckers

The wreckers are out for loot… and blood!

Rollin definitely has his thing, namely mute naked chicks roaming around in gothic settings. And fear not, there is plenty of that to be had here. The mute naked chicks in question in The Demoniacs are the latest victims of a ragged band of wreckers (folks who trick ships into wrecking on the shore and then pillaging their contents). Their ship crashes, they wander towards the wreckers in their white linens all helpless and stuff, and of course are raped and left for dead.

demoniacsghost

Seeking ghostly revenge

Somehow the mute naked chicks end up at the local ruins where they find a clown, a Jesus, and I dunno, a devil or something? They make a deal with the devilish character, and obtain his power through sex (just in case you forgot you were watching a Jean Rollin movie) in order to seek revenge against the evil wreckers.

demoniacsclowningaround

Clowning Around

So, as is usually the case with Rollin’s flicks, there are some really good-looking moments (perhaps he should’ve done photography instead of film?). Alas, he can’t seem to string them together in any meaningful way. More than any other flick of his, The Demoniacs left me perplexed as to what it was actually about or what, if anything, it was trying to say. It was almost good, which makes it all the more frustrating that it wasn’t really worth a damn in the end. That being said, there are some truly bizarre moments that I don’t regret having experienced, and the boldness with which Rollin plants naked women in unlikely scenes and poses amused me until the very end. Still, I can’t really say that I’d recommend this movie to anyone.

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27
Nov
14

Mad Cowgirl (2006)

It’s very rare that I sit down to write about a movie and have absolutely no idea where to start. Sometimes a good lead-in escapes me, but that’s usually nothing a few minutes of thumb-twiddling can’t sort out. But with Gregory Hatanaka’s Mad Cowgirl nothing comes easy, especially not the task of writing about it. The movie fell into my lap as so many others have; a random recommendation that I decided deserved a chance probably on its title alone. What I encountered was an experience far more strange than I was ever prepared for.

The Mad Cowgirl contemplates beef.

The Mad Cowgirl contemplates beef.

The film is very fragmented, frenetic and above all weird. The action centers around Therese (Sarah Lassez), a beautiful young meat inspector who can’t seem to get enough beef in her life. Despite the ever-present news reports of tainted beef imported from Canada she devours the stuff morning, noon and night; it’s the one constant in her life. She suffers from a never-ending string of failed and/or strained relationships, especially with the men in her life, all of whom treat her with pretty blatant disregard, desperation or contempt. We don’t know what happened really between her and her ex-husband, but he doesn’t seem quite willing to let her go. She is currently sexually involved with a local televangelist played by Walter Koenig of Star Trek fame, but not far into the film he rebuffs her gruffly over the telephone. Her brother, with whom she has an incestuous relationship, runs a meat-packing plant and has been selling tainted beef – some of which he gifted her way. Is the tainted beef the cause behind a brain disorder that she may or may not be dying from?

Walter Koenig as the eternally sexy televangelist

Walter Koenig as the eternally sexy televangelist

Written down, it all seems like it is kind of straight-forward, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We get mere clips of Therese’s life as it happens; there is no narrative thread holding any of it together other than Therese herself. Some of what we see are tortured memories, others are acts of desperation: making love to the television set while her ex-lover preacher flame expounds on God’s glory; gnawing on a nearly-raw steak prepared for her by a new friend acquired in the Catholic church, and finally in the last act assuming the role of The Girl with the Thunderbolt Kick, a kung-fu favorite of hers in which the titular Girl must slay the Ten Tigers of Kwangtung.

Who could blame a girl?

Who could blame a girl?

To be honest, Mad Cowgirl is kind of a difficult film to appreciate. Watching it for the third or fourth time, I remain mostly mystified at what exactly Hatanaka aims to prove. That being said, I still really enjoy this movie and find it rather a shame there aren’t more people to whom I can recommend it. This certainly isn’t the movie for you if you’re interested in a clear plot line with an unambiguous resolution. I will say at the very least the film is definitely thought-provoking, and perhaps makes more sense when the weird ride is over and you’ve had some time to mull it over.

Anyone hungry for a bit o' beef? What's your favorite cut?

Anyone hungry for a bit o’ beef? What’s your favorite cut?

What I think Hatanaka may be trying to convey is just how difficult life is for a typical American woman. Therese is obviously a very confused woman, and with society expecting her to switch between roles as it sees fit, how could she not be? She must be a good daughter, ex-wife, sister, lover and patient all at once. She must be chaste one moment and insatiably horny the next, a point made most obvious by her sexual relationship with her brother. As Therese loses her grip on reality, she forgets when each role is appropriate. Sure Mad Cow Disease provides an easy scapegoat for Therese’s mental deterioration (and obviously a poke at the ills of consumerism), but social pressure seems like a pretty likely candidate in explaining her descent into madness.

While I really like the idea of the film being about a woman’s difficulties in today’s society, for all I know I may be barking up the wrong tree. The movie leaves virtually everything up to its audience’s interpretation. I’m not really sure how else to describe it other than ‘Batshit Arty,” which I don’t think is a widely accepted genre term… yet. If you’re more interested in attempting to solve a puzzle that may not be solvable, you should check this movie out. I still dig it after multiple viewings. I am glad it exists and glad to live in a world where movies like this have been made; I can only hope that more Batshit Arty gets made in the future!

02
Nov
14

Fear No Evil (1981)

There are terrible horror movies, and then there are terrible horror movies. Surely ‘so bad it’s good’ is a phrase you’ve heard uttered before in reference to a terrible horror movie that does nothing right, but still manages to keep its audience engaged and entertained. Then there are the terrible horror movies, the ones that are just so incredibly poorly made and make no sense, but in this really terrible, irritating way. Unfortunately Day 29’s selection of 31 Days of Horror, Frank LaLoggia’s Fear No Evil, falls into the latter category.FearNoEvilposter

Part of the problem with this movie is there is just absolutely way too much going on, so synopsizing it isn’t going to be easy. Basically, a couple living in small-town upstate New York (LaLoggia obviously has a preferred setting) give birth to Lucifer (or Andrew). It just so happens that two of three archangels reside in the same small town. The eldest angel (Mikhail or Margaret, depending on who you are) tries to convince the local Priest she needs help slaying the monster, but the Priest is still pissed off at her because her brother killed the last incarnation of Lucifer, and that was murder! All the while, Lucifer has really neat hair, gets straight A’s, and makes out with boys in the shower at the local high school. Everyone there listens to really awesome New Wave.

When blood explodes all over the place from an unknown origin while your kid is getting baptized, maybe he is Lucifer.

When blood explodes all over the place from an unknown origin while your kid is getting baptized, maybe he is Lucifer.

Mikhail/Margaret fails to convince the priest he should postpone the church’s annual free performance of the Passion play, even though she is certain some terrible evil is about to take over the town. That same night Andrew/Lucifer somehow raises the dead from this dilapidated castle place where the old Lucifer ran a company and killed a bunch of the workers or something and now they’re all zombies and they’re going to do Lucifer/Andrew’s bidding. I really hoped at this point the zombie horde was going to overtake the peaceful parishioners at the Passion play and the movie would end in a crescendo of zombie vs. churchgoer mayhem, but instead in the end Lucifer just ends up being a glam-rock version of Dracula, swooping his cape and sacrificing women at altars and stuff.

Lucifer likes birthday cake and tidy hair cuts.

Lucifer likes birthday cake and tidy hair cuts.

Holy moly, this movie just makes one mistake after another. Where do I even start? I guess its worst offense is that it has no idea what kind of movie it actually wants to be. Is it a zombie movie? A vampire movie? A religious movie? A teen slasher flick? A family drama? The movie is none of these, but aspires to be all of them. The film can’t even manage to hold a tone for an entire scene. Not only that, scenes seem to end prematurely; just when you think there’s going to be an interesting confrontation, we cut to a different movie entirely. There is no cohesion from one moment to the next. If you played a ‘what the hell’ drinking game while watching this movie, you wouldn’t get through it without downing a few bottles of liquor.

Never a good sign when Lucifer's eyes turn yellow and he's sweaty...

Never a good sign when Lucifer’s eyes turn yellow and he’s sweaty…

I’m not even sure if it’s worth getting into the lack of character development here. Put it simply, there is none. Lucifer’s parents hate each-other, and the dad is convinced it’s because his child is evil incarnate. He is right, of course, but he and Lucifer’s mom never actually have a conversation about it. They get into a fight over Lucifer’s birthday cake and she gets brain damage as a result well before they can actually discuss repairing their marriage. Then there’s the slew of high school kids we come into contact with. Most high school movies have a range of stereotypical characters, and Fear No Evil is no different, but here even having most of the high school scenes is pointless and irrelevant to what I think is supposed to be the main plot. I haven’t decided if the weirdest high school scene is where Lucifer possesses the gym teacher into dodgeballing a boy to death, or the part where Lucifer is taunted in the gym’s shower by a couple of bullies and ends up making out with one of them in front of everyone.

DEATH BY DODGEBALL

DEATH BY DODGEBALL

Then there is Julie/Gabrielle, another high school kid whose boyfriend was the poor kid that got dodgeballed to death, right after they got engaged. She’s confused and sad and also an archangel and has dreams about fucking Lucifer. Did Lucifer kill her boyfriend specifically because he knew she was an angel? Or was it because he liked her like a human boy likes a human girl? No sense in pondering a question to which there’s no answer, I suppose. But she goes and hangs out with the creepy old lady/Mikhail/Margaret and they get their hands on a glowing staff in hopes of slaying Lucifer before his zombies can kill everyone in town, or something.

I'm sorry, when did Lucifer turn into a vampire?

I’m sorry, when did Lucifer turn into a vampire?

If you’ve ever eaten a burrito bowl at Chipotle, you’ll know what I mean when I say Fear No Evil is missing the guacamole: there is no cohesive element to keep all the fragments glued together; there’s an errant grain of rice everywhere you look. LaLoggia really likes the look of seemingly every movie he’s ever seen and tries to incorporate it all in one film with absolutely disastrous results. It is easy to see the roots of Lady in White here, especially in the first fifteen minutes of the film, which is dripping with sentimentality and nostalgia. But then he must have gone to a new wave concert in the middle of filming and decided Talking Heads, Ramones, Richard Hell & The Voidoids among other great bands should be included in this film about angels hunting Lucifer on earth.

Last but not least, there’s the whole Lucifer thing. I don’t know what kind of Lucifer LaLoggia grew up with, but I never got my Lucifer mixed up with Count Dracula. By the end of the film, Lucifer/Andrew is a cape-swooping glam-rock vampire, which sounds amazing, and probably would be in any other movie, but here it is just like… WHERE THE FUCK DID THIS COME FROM? It just does not make any damn sense no matter how you slice it.

I didn't even mention the really shitty special effects. Look at the shitty special effects. And crying Lucifer.

I didn’t even mention the really shitty special effects. Look at the shitty special effects. And crying Lucifer.

While this movie may seem like it has all the perfect elements for a so-bad-it’s-good joke-a-thon, it’s missing the most important thing: watchability. This movie is just so absolutely dreadful, frustrating and exhausting to watch, I can’t imagine anyone having fun with it. It’s not often I insist in the middle of a movie we pause it and venture out into the world for ice cream, because only ice cream can make it tolerable, but that is exactly what happened with Fear No Evil. It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the ice cream did not help improve my feelings towards this piece of garbage. All that being said, though, I think there is a very, very small audience of folks who would want to spend the time to watch this movie. If you have the sort of tolerance for a legitimately terrible, horrible, irredeemable movies and this blog post has poked your curiosity, it might be worth your time, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

29
Oct
14

House II: The Second Story (1987)

Note: Hi! This is Mike Q, and I’m not the one who usually writes here. I got this guest-spot because Katy’s fallen behind in writing up movies of late, so I’ve been called in to do some of the titles she doesn’t especially want to deal with.

Perhaps ten years ago, I got into a conversation with a co-worker about Weekend at Bernie’s II (1993). I listened incredulously to his description of the plot: a voodoo witch puts a curse on Bernie’s corpse, such that it dances towards a buried treasure whenever music plays near it. The hapless friends tasked in the first movie with pretending their friend is still alive now are tasked with keeping the world from finding out that their friend is a boogieing zombie. It seemed hard to believe that there was a movie out there that would live up to the promise that description offered for over-the-top hijinx. When a while later I got my hands on a copy, I found out that, indeed, Weekend at Bernie’s II didn’t. A while later, though, I found myself in a situation where I was watching through a healthy backlog of movies at a clip, and made a double feature of the Sean Cunningham-produced House (1986) and House II: The Second Story. While House didn’t do a lot for me (it couldn’t settle on a tone, and seemed like its best bits were done better in Evil Dead II — sorry, Fred Dekker!), House II was a revelation: THIS was the zombie buddy-comedy that I’d been hoping for all this time… the Weekend at Bernie’s II  that delivered on its promise. We watched it again for Katy’s first time as the 25th movie in the 31 Days of Horror.

house 2 thai

A Thai poster. Not as cool as the disembodied hand ringing the doorbellon the VHS jacket, but more in line with what this flick holds in store…

In the 1950s, a couple that lives in a creepy house give their baby away for safekeeping just minutes before a nightmarish figure (voiced by Fred Welker, using the same voice he used for Darkseid on Super Friends) kills them both. In October of 1986, that baby, now grown, comes back to claim his birthright. He is Jesse McLaughlin, an up-and-coming artist, and he and his music-biz girlfriend Kate have come to make the family mansion into their new home away from the city. Before too long, they’re joined by Jesse’s meathead “entrepreneur” best friend Charlie (Fright Night‘s jonathan Stark) and his aspirant rockstar girlfriend. After only a few minutes have passed in screentime, Jesse explains that he’s named for his great-great grandfather, who was a bandit in the old west, and who built the house they now live in. Seems the elder Jesse had found one of the legendary Mayan crystal skulls along with his partner,  the ominously-named Slim Razor. When great-great Jesse absconded with the skull, Slim felt he’d been cheated. The younger Jesse and Charlie figure that there are big bucks in it for them if they can find the skull, and rashly decide it must have been buried with the elder Jesse. Why not dig him up? So they do, the night before Halloween… and that’s when the REAL fun begins.

Look! It´s a prehistoric bird...

Jesse, Charlie, and a prehistroric bird

I won’t say too much more, but it should come as no surprise that the elder Jesse isn’t dead at all — he’s been kept alive by the mystic powers of the skull, and is played delightfully by Royal Dano. Grandpa Jesse explains that the house has been designed as a temple for the skull, and that it acts as a gateway to alternate universes. They all have to work to keep it out of the wrong hands… This state of affairs — zombie grandfather, dimensional gateways — is something the fellows decide is best kept from an increasingly incensed Kate (who’s being egged on by her lecherous asshole boss, played by a young Bill Mahr), and leads to all sorts of wacky cross-time adventures. This movie at times feels like the pilot for an especially zany Sunday-afternoon adventure show of the sort produced by Sam Raimi in the ’90s, by way of a multiple-camera sitcom of the same period. It’s stupid, and even childish, but never really mean-spirited or cruel.  It gets away with its increasingly outrageous twists through charm and goodwill, and some moments that feel really heartfelt in the midst of the silliness. It’s no surprise, perhaps, that Slim continues to be a threat, but Cheers‘ John Ratzenberger’s guest appearance as an electrician with a helpful sideline comes as an unexpected delight. While, sure, it isn’t horror in the strictest sense, this seemed like a nice break from the gialli that we’d most recently consumed. Even Katy, who holds the ’86 House in high regard, was charmed by this one.

onset_house2

The whole House II gang… at least, all the regular humans

Don’t expect anything groundbreaking, scary, or intellectual here — it’s dumb laughs. But, like the Japanese House (1977) that I prefer to imagine this is the sequel to — this movie has nothing to do eith either other than its loose haunted house premise — this film is made all the better by virtue of its light spirit and easy demeanor.

06
Oct
14

The Visitor (1979)

VisitorPosterDo you like The Exorcist & The Omen, or any of their sequels? What about Rosemary’s Baby? What about every other sci-fi horror movie from the 1970’s? If you answered yes to any of these, then why waste your time re-watching any of them when you could just watch The Visitor, a dazzling blend of everything you’ve already seen before, with a weird scientological, blonde Jesus twist! That’s what we did for day 6 of 31 Days of Horror. I think I don’t regret it.

The beginning of The Visitor happens somewhere else. I’m not sure if we’re on another planet, or in another dimension, or what, but blonde Jesus is telling a bunch of bald kids about the evil Sateen, who impregnated a bunch of women so his demon seed can spread through the cosmos. During this serious lecture, in walks Jerzy (John Huston – yes, that one) signaling to blonde Jesus they’ve found the latest demon seed. It’s time to rally the bald kids and send them to Earth in search of an eight-year-old girl named Katy, a creepy, southern-drawled version of Linda Blair who uses her telekinetic powers to rig basketball games and stuff.

Katy’s mom Barbara is having an intense relationship with the owner of the interested basketball team, Raymond (Lance Henriksen). He’s trying his damndest to get her to marry him, but she won’t because she knows there’s something wrong with Katy and doesn’t want to give birth to another creepy little shithead monster thing. Of course it turns out Raymond isn’t actually in love with Katy, he is part of a satanic cabal interested in populating the world with more of Sateen’s mutant seed. If Jerzy and his band of baldies can’t steal away with Katy in time, the whole universe will feel the ripples of that evil tidal wave!

This movie is like, whoa, all over the place; it is excitingly schizophrenic in that way. It is a bit like The Sentinel or The Manitou; there’s so much going on and it’s all crazy weird conspiracy shit tinged with religion and mythology. But all of its freneticism does not work in its favor; the movie is a tangled mess of tropes and what seems like possibly a weird religious agenda. The confusion results in a muddled and incoherent plot. Of course, none of that matters to a person like me: I still loved watching it; I had to know what the hell was going to happen next, even though (or perhaps especially because) I knew whatever it was wasn’t going to make any sense and was going to be delivered with questionable dialog!

The best part about movies like The Visitor isn’t on the screen at all; it’s wondering how a film like this ever got off the ground in the first place. What compelled the writer to sit down and come up with this story? Who financed it? Why? What about the actors; what are they thinking when they deliver these terrible lines? And specific to The Visitor, how the hell did they get people like John Huston and Sam Peckinpah (yeah, he acts in this too, by the way) to be in this movie? The whole thing is just so gloriously bizarre you have to love it. Though it is obviously a pastiche of a million movies that come before it, it automatically sets itself apart from every one of those by its sheer what-the-fuckness.

Should you see The Visitor? Well, that clearly depends on what type of person you are. If you’re the kinda guy or gal that only likes “Good” movies, then, uh, NO, you should not see The Visitor. However, if you’re reading my blog right now that probably is some indication that you’re at least a little bit interested in the weirder fringes of cinema, and in that case then I direct you to watch The Visitor as soon as possible, and to get on your knees and thank the fine folks at Drafthouse Films for resurrecting this nearly-forgotten shitsterpiece.

23
Mar
14

Rubber (2010)

rubberposterUsually after watching a film, I have some idea what it was about. Additionally, it is normal for me to have some sense of how the movie made me feel: did I like it? Dislike it? Did I feel nothing? Almost always I’m able to answer all of these questions in some way, shape or form. In the case of Rubber, however, I must confess I am not entirely sure of the answer to any of those questions.

The movie starts off with a little lesson on Hollywood films. Movies have always had things happen for no reason at all, and we are told that this movie will be no different at all – in fact, Rubber is a sort of ode to “No Reason.” So when a group of random people who have no connection to one another collect together in the desert and don binoculars to watch a “movie” I try to let go of my skepticism and just go with it. Soon enough though, it is apparent the weirdness has only begun.

Finally, the “movie” starts: a tire named Robert has been left out in the desert to rot, and seemingly out of nowhere wakes up and begins to move. As it starts its journey out of the desert, it runs into things and has an urge to destroy them: water bottles, bunny rabbits, cars on the road with pretty girls behind the wheel, you name it! He has no problem destroying most of these things, he just vibrates insanely until the object of his ire explodes. Anyone who crosses Robert’s path is subject to his telekinetic whims.

Robert follows the pretty girl to a motel, where he leaves behind a trail of destruction. Eventually the cops show up, and it is here we find out that the Sheriff, Chad, is also in league with the people showing the “movie.” It seems they are on a quest to make the “movie” as short as possible, and will stop at nothing to destroy their own audience.

This movie is nothing if not filled with surprises, so it would be silly of me to reveal them all here. Suffice it to say, whatever you think is going to happen is probably not going to happen and vice versa. Rubber is truly one of the most bizarre and baffling films I’ve ever seen, and as I’ve already said, to this day I am still not sure if I liked it or not! Either way, the movie is certainly intriguing and I’m curious to see what else the director (Quentin Dupieux) has to offer. It is definitely entertaining; really, what could be more fun than watching a movie that could go in any direction it wanted? I’m still not sure what the point of the thing is, or if there was a point at all? Was this story shared with us for “No Reason”?

I can safely say that if you are a person who likes a movie with a clearly told plot, a discernible beginning, middle and end and lovable, relatable characters this is NOT going to be the movie for you. But if you appreciate a film that plays with its audience’s head and turns everything upside down, this is a must-see. That’s not to say that you’ll like it, but at the very least it will get you thinking.

 

15
Mar
14

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)

I’m going to start this one off on a slightly personal note. I’m a normal person who just happens to watch a lot of movies. The great thing about the internet is I need no qualifications whatsoever to write and “publish” whatever I think and feel about everything I watch. Potential audiences can choose to read it or not, and I owe nothing to anyone. This blog originally started as a place to log my impressions of everything I watch, because frankly I tend to forget details. It’s now turned into its own kind of monster, with actual, faithful readers (thank you, readers!) So, I guess I’ve decided to take it a little more seriously, especially when a particular film warrants a little more attention. Recently I’ve come across quite a few flicks that I feel deserve more than just a quick write-up, and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is definitely one of them.
In an interview with The Onion’s AV Club, Peter Weller, who plays the titular hero, said of the film: “I had no idea what that movie was about, I still don’t, but I had a ball making it.” That comes pretty close to my experience watching it; I had no idea what it was happening, but I loved every minute of it. The first time felt like such a whirlwind I had to sit down and watch it a second time just to make sure I had my bearings enough to write about it! Even so, I’m certain to get some of the finer plot points wrong; there is an awful lot going on. I will try to stick to the basics.

Buckaroo plays piano for Penny Priddy

Buckaroo plays piano for Penny Priddy

Within the first ten minutes or so, we are introduced to Buckaroo’s many talents: namely surgeon, physicist, and rock star, but let’s not forget he’s hobnobbing with the President of the United States on a regular basis, and happens to be a comic book hero as well. He’s long been part of a scientific experiment led by Professor Hikita to use a handy-dandy thingamajig called an oscillation overthruster which reorders the particles that make up solid matter in such a way that people should be able to pass right through them. The overthruster has been tested before by Hikita and his former colleague Dr. Emilio Lizardo (John Lithgow), but not with much luck (in fact, Lizardo ended up in the loony bin as a result), so the whole research team is biting their collective lip as Buckaroo gets behind the wheel of a mega-racecar and drives at extremely high speeds towards a giant mountain.

The perpetually suave and cool Buckaroo of course makes it, and he sees some pretty wacky shit in there too. He even brings back a strange creature from the 8th dimension, which he reveals to curious onlookers, particle physics enthusiasts, journalists, and undercover Red Lectroids at a press conference after the successful event. What’s an Red Lectroid? Well, that’s where it gets a little complicated…

A Black Lectroid

A Black Lectroid

Enter Planet 10, where years ago a civil war raged between the Red Lectroids and the Black Lectroids. The Black Lectroids won, and banished some of the most evil Red Lectroids to the 8th dimension, including their leader John Whorfin. When Dr. Lizardo failed to pass through the wall all those years ago, he was possessed by Whorfin; that’s why he’s so bonkers. Because of Lizardo, the Red Lectroids caught wind of the oscillation overthruster’s potential capabilities, and infested earth in hopes of gaining its technology and releasing their imprisoned comrades from the 8th dimension. Years of failed experiments seems to have paid off, now that Buckaroo has successfully proved the thing works. Now all the Red Lectroids have to do is steal it.

A transmission from the Black Lectroids helps get Buckaroo and his backup band The Hong Kong Cavaliers up to speed and tell him if they don’t succeed in destroying the Red Lectroids, they will simulate a nuclear missile headed for Smolensk; an act the Soviets will obviously see as an act of American aggression. It’s now up to Buckaroo and his crew to save the world from destroying itself!

The Electric Emilio Lizardo

The Electric Emilio Lizardo

Though no one in their right mind would call a four-paragraph plot synopsis “succinct” it might actually be the appropriate word to use here – there is still so much going on that I have left out! Either way, the plot is really just a vehicle for great performances and hilarious jokes. It’s no secret that I think Peter Weller is the man, and his role as Buckaroo Banzai is no exception – he is fantastic; totally cool the movie through. John Litghow as John Whorfin/Emilio Lizardo is exactly the opposite; a totally over the top villain, hamming it up every chance he gets (and that accent!). The Red Lectroid crew (Christopher Lloyd, Vincent Schiavelli and Dan Hedaya) are hilariously incompetent as they fumble towards the overthruster. Other notable performances include Ellen Barkin as Penny Priddy and Jeff Goldblum as “New Jersey”, but it’s not just the big names that make this movie – everyone plays their part to a tee.

For some terribly sad reason, I never watched this movie as a kid, and as a result have been left out of the culty joke for too many years. It’d been floating around as a possible viewing option for a year or so, but my husband had a hard time marketing it to me, just as, I have read, they had a hard time marketing it to kids in 1984. This is totally understandable: a movie as all-over-the-place as this one is pert-near unmarketable. No matter, over the years it has carved out a nice little following for itself, and deservedly so; it’s an extremely quotable film with plenty of in-jokes, the perfect recipe for an underground hit. I see evidence of its reach in some recent films: it’s quoted directly at the end of Beyond the Black Rainbow, and though I might be reaching, that Jamaican dude from John Dies at the End reminds me an awful lot of a Black Lectroid!

Forever dorky, New Jersey.

Forever dorky, New Jersey.

The good news is, even if you’re late to the game there’s still a spot for you on the team. Buckaroo Banzai is as much fun to watch as an adult as I imagine it might have been for me as a kid. My husband wrapped up the sentiment in a pretty neat package when he said: “you’d have to have a soul to not like this movie.”  I completely agree. I get the feeling that this is the kind of movie that only gets more charming the more you watch it, and it can undoubtedly withstand multiple viewings; I think husband noticed at least two or three little jokes that he never had before the second time we watched it together – and he’s no Banzai novice. And, let’s get real, any movie that ends like this has got to be irresistible.




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