Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cinematic Pain Part II: Red Zone Cuba (1966)

You'd think that a film called Red Zone Cuba would mostly feature something happening in Cuba, maybe an invasion of Cuba, an invasion by Cuba, or perhaps espionage involving Cuba. Well, this movie shows a truly pathetic invasion of and escape from Cuba, but that's merely a subplot to the main story. The main story is, of course, horrendously boring.

The movie opens with a completely pointless appearance by relatively famous actor John Carradine as a railroad worker. A reporter asks Carradine's character about three criminals who hopped his train several years before. How Carradine would know anything about this is a mystery since the criminals don't seem to interact with anybody when they hop the train later in the movie. Carradine doesn't appear in the movie again until he wraps up his story.

Escaped convict Griffin (director, writer, and producer Coleman Francis) comes across two sympathetic ex-cons. The three eventually find out that they can make quick money by signing up for some sort of military training. The training turns out to be in preparation for an invasion of Cuba's Bay of Pigs (I'm pretty sure we all know how this one turns out). Our "heroes" make poor soldiers considering that Griffin is rather portly and the two ex-cons are past their prime. When the promised up-front money doesn't materialize, the three try to go AWOL but are quickly discovered and returned to the training camp.

The thoroughly disappointing invasion of Cuba consists of less than a dozen ersatz soldiers (the real invasion involved hundreds) who are captured within about 100 yards of the beach. They are put in a prison camp and are executed one-by-one by firing squad. While awaiting execution, our three stooges find out from their wounded superior officer that his family has a mine back home. The three overpower the guard, abandon the officer, and make their way to an airstrip where they steal a small airplane. And thus ends anything directly related to "Red Zone" Cuba. I can't imagine this takes up much more than 30 to 45 minutes of a 90 minute movie.

Warning: Spoilers ahead (although I don't know if it's possible to spoil such a dull, aimless film)

Griffin and company commit several crimes to get to the mine, where they convince the officer's wife that they're friends of the officer and are there to help. However, the law eventually finds them, the movie proves that it's possible to make a shootout boring and perfunctory, and Griffin is killed. The officer, who we last saw injured and waiting for execution in Cuba, arrives home alive. The best part of the movie then follows when John Carradine finishes his story and the blessed words "The End" appear.

The man playing Griffin, Coleman Francis, was also guilty of writing and directing two other movies on my list of the worst movies I've ever seen. I'll get to those later.

Next up: The Wild World of Batwoman (it does have a "Batwoman" in it, but it's not exactly wild).

Why do you hate moviegoers so much, Mr. Francis?

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