Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bachelor Movie Marathon, Part V: The Final Chapter

In the final few days before my family got back from California, I made it a post-work habit to make dinner and eat it while watching an MST3K episode. Because I had exhausted all the episodes in my new Volume XVII collection, I started rewatching the first volumes in the series. I  skipped Volume 1's The Creeping Terror since I had watched it only a few months before and because it's one of the most excruciatingly bad movies I've ever seen. Maybe even worse than The Blood Waters of Dr. Z.

Bloodlust! (1961)
A ripoff of The Most Dangerous Game (1932) with two teenage couples filling in the roles of Joel McCrea and Fay Wray as the ones who are pursued by a mad hunter across his private island. Not only does this movie "borrow" the overall premise of its inspiration, but it recreates such details as the soon-to-be-dead drunk character, the villain who hunts with arrows to be more sporting, and the not-so-dead-as-previously-thought character returning to defeat the villain. Really, beyond "inferior ripoff of The Most Dangerous Game", there's not much to be said about Bloodlust!  (although the crew of MST3K do a great job with this movie). One element that's missing is that, by replacing Joel McCrea's character with a bunch of teenagers, this movie lacks the irony of the intended victim being a world-renowned big game hunter who finds out the hard way how his prey feels.

Catalina Caper (1967)
Much to our dismay, the movie forces us to follow a bunch of teenagers heading to Catalina Island by cruise liner (with a special musical number by Little Richard!). Immediately before leaving for Catalina, the well-meaning but not particularly law-abiding parents of one of the teenagers steal an ancient manuscript. They intend to counterfeit the manuscript, sell the copy to a shady antiquities collector, and return the original to the museum. In between scenes of teenagers being "groovy" on the beach and of villains trying to obtain the scroll without paying for it, we get "comic" scenes of an insurance investigator spying on the parents and trying to bust them for some form of insurance fraud.

This movie is the perfect example of why the MST3K guys stayed away from comedies. Unlike a purportedly serious movie, which can be funny without trying to be, a bad comedy is unfunny by definition. There was little Joel and the 'bots could do for this movie, making it agony from beginning to end. The only reason this movie doesn't get an "F" from me is because it predates today's notion of extreme skinniness being the ideal of feminine beauty. Thus, many of the movie's actresses are naturally attractive.

Skydivers (1963)
The title says it all. Really. Well, I guess there's some sort of plot going on. A couple having marital problems runs a small airport and makes a living by giving skydiving lessons. There's an unfortunate death when one of their regular students violates the rules and tries to open his parachute below the required altitude. Scratch one minor character. Then the husband's jilted mistress teams up with a disgruntled former employee to put acid in the husband's parachute just before the big public demonstration. Scratch one major character. As the murderers flee by car, the cops follow by light aircraft, shooting at them along the way. Although I don't remember the villains carrying guns, the cops shoot them down during the foot chase anyway. Scratch the two most interesting characters in the movie.

Unfortunately, most of this movie is padding (much of it stock footage of skydiving) with the murder plot taking up only the last 15 minutes or so. Mike and the 'bots don't have a lot to go on with this one.
D (it avoids a lower grade because I actually like stock footage of skydiving)

Pod People (1983)
Here's another movie that was released under a variety of titles. An odd, furry alien with a long snout leaves its eggs in a cave somewhere in a forest. A poacher who comes across the eggs and smashes all but one of them is killed by the alien. In the meantime, a band (and one unwelcome groupie) goes off camping in the same woods. When the groupie falls off a cliff (and is infected, or injured, or... I don't know... the alien does something to her), the band takes her to the cabin of a grumpy man, his sister, and his irritating nephew. The nephew has found the surviving egg and brought it home where it grows into another alien being the nephew names "Trumpy". While the nephew goes through sitcom-esque adventures trying to hide Trumpy from the humans, mommy alien goes around killing the cast. The method of killing is never really explained; the alien seems to simply touch the victim, leaving behind a corpse with four glowing spots on the forehead. It's very confusing.

The most bizarre thing about this movie is its tone. While Trumpy is supposed to be cute and to invoke a sense of wonder (he has goofy stop-motion powers that make a single appearance and have no bearing on the plot), the other alien literally kills the majority of the cast before she herself is killed. It seems like the makers of the film tacked a kid-friendly E.T. ripoff into the middle of a typical alien horror movie late in production (rumor has it that the producers demanded exactly that based on the success of E.T. (1982)). Joel and the 'bots make the movie a lot more tolerable.

1 comment:

  1. Catalina Caper was a fun film in the 70's. Definitely not the greatest but I enjoyed it.



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