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This would be true if it were a different movie. Red Zone Cuba is not a movie, yes movie film (black & white) was used and shot through a camera lens. It featured people who spoke words in English and they physically moved around. And then it ends. What you, the viewer need to do is try to comprehend and make sense of everything that you had witnessed. Is it difficult for you to do this? OK, I understand. After several viewings myself of Red Zone Cuba I am not sure if it was an actual film or not. Why? Well most film makers try to have things like plot, story, acting and continuity. Coleman Francis decided to go against the grain and not have any of listed ingredients to make what we refer to as a film. If RZC was made today it would not even be released as a direct to video product. In the decades to follow this may be viewed as a piece of abstract art. But let not hold our breaths.
It staggers me that people would put money - however little - into something this awful. Who in their right mind could ever think this garbage even approaches the quality of a B movie? One viewing and you'll see what I'm talking about. There is basically no plot. Three men sort of wander around a little, take a plane to Cuba for whatever reason (maybe money, though that point is not made clear), train for one day, lie around on some cots, and take part in an 8-man invasion of the island where a Castro "look-a-like" in a ridiculous fake beard awaits. The rest of the plot is so absurd I won't bore you with it. Suffice to say it is a colossal mountain of pointless celluloid. But it's fun to watch with the bots. In my opinion this and MANOS are tied for worst film ever.
Where can one even start on this film? It's most certainly one of the Top
worst films I've ever seen in my life, and winner of my impromptu "Most
Incoherent Film" award, due to incredibly shoddy editing and exceptionally
unmemorable performances. If anything, the best way to sum up the film is
"Curly look-alike goes to Cuba, returns from Cuba, throws a man down a
The most nightmarish thing about the movie is not the poor acting, poorer writing (where the hell's the plot? WHAT the hell's the plot?), abysmal editing, grainy footage, or Curly in Hell as played by Coleman Francis. Rather, it's the rather paradoxal nature of the film. Individually (and even when put together), all of the aspects of the film are quite forgettable. Yet, once you've watched this film, you can somehow never forget it. Ever. It will haunt you for the rest of your life, taunting you for ever having experienced it. Even with the help of MST3K (where I and most others got a glimpse of this trainwreck), it can give you nightmares. Only recommended for the foolhardy or masochistic. All others should not view this film without a crash course in Coleman Francis' other catastrophes (Beast of Yucca Flats, Skydivers), or the aid of MST3K (thought admittedly, it doesn't help much).
Everyone has already commented about this film, but I'm here for one reason: A plea. Please, someone tell me what exactly was going on? There's obviously some sort of embryo of a plot that isn't mentioned to the audience. Just trying to sort things out makes my head hurt. Only watch this movie in the MST3K version, and even then be careful not to pay too much attention to the movie, just the wise-cracks. Oh yes, and take breaks and get some sugar in you. Treat the movie like a series of unrelated, boring scenes. You've been warned.
Look, Folks, a lot of the reviewers here are missing the finer distinctions of artistic expression. There is a difference between being a fine work of art and being an excellent example of a given genre. Red Zone Cuba (by any name) is a stinker of a movie. It is execrable. It is abominable. But it may be a work of genius. Let's look at the facts: everything about this film is wrong. Every scene is inept, every element is unfit. The editing is botched, the sound is miserable, the acting dead and naturalistic, the characters are anti-appealing, the mise en scene is as flat and barren as capitalistic materialism, the direction is directionless, the story isn't one. Whence John Carradine and this great train robbery? What about the blind woman interminably playing that piano? Francis subverts every expectation we have of a movie. It does not entertain, nor does it provide spectacle. He gives us nothing with which to justify watching this Wretched Thing. Only a determined genius tapped into a conduit from Plato's realm of the Forms could have so deconstructed Film. It is ugly, it is dirty, it is mean and it is boring-- sounds like the world we live in. This is a portrait of our empty American existence. It is about the tyranny of a system that doesn't care about anything except its own perpetuation. It's about the Bay of Pigs invasion, which was arguably as corrupt, doomed and ridiculous as Francis portrays it. Francis shows us the dark underbelly of American hegemony. It's not surprising that everyone loathes it so much and fails to see its (admittedly sub-textual) merits. If movies are about lies, this film is about Truth. Just as the little boy discovers in Flannery O'Connor's The River, Truth isn't pretty and it isn't what you've been told to expect or what you want to see.
In the prologue of "Night Train to Mundo Fine," a reporter named Jim Benton
(Bruce Love) from "The Gazette" interviews Mr. Wilson (John Carradine), a
train engineer, about the time three criminals hopped a train he was working
on four years ago, in 1961.
After Carradine sings the title song (not a bad track), we journey to 1961. We witness Griffin (Coleman Francis) escape from prison. He meets two ex-convicts, Landis (Tony Cardoza) and Cook (Harold Saunders). Together, they decide to join a group of government sponsored mercenaries and invade Cuba for $2,000 each.
Hiring pilot Cherokee Jack (George Prince) to take them from New Mexico to somewhere near Cuba, they sign up with the group, headed by Joe (John Morrison) and Bayiev Chastain (Tom Hanson), the latter of whom wants to overthrow Castro so that his grandparents can get their sugar mill back.
The invasion goes haywire and all are captured; Chastain is shot in the leg, and Griffin says that within 24 hours he will die of gangrene. Joe and several soldiers are executed. The three criminals escape, but not before learning about the tungsten and pitchblende that is located on a mountain near Chastain's home.
In Arizona, they throw restaurateur Cliff Weismeyer (Charles Harter) down a well, leaving his blind daughter (Elaine Gibford) and stealing his car. They eventually ditch it and hop the train. They get off the train. Griffin and Landis fight for possession of Landis's ring, given to him by his father; Griffin wins and uses it to buy another car.
They reach Chastain's home, where they meet his wife Ruby (Lanell Cado). Together, the four conspire to raid the mountain. However, the criminals are spotted. Cook and Landis are arrested. Griffin shoots Ruby and flees. Chastain shows up, somehow surviving and escaping, and takes his wife back home. Griffin is gunned down by cops, who find that "Griffin ran all the way to Hell, with a penny and a broken cigarette." End.
WOW! This is one horrible movie! The only redeeming factors are the music (pretty good) and Tom Hanson's performance, which he actually tried to invest dimension into. The script, the other performances, the editing, etc, etc...all are bad.
And yet, I love this film. Why? Is it because of the witty remarks of Tom Servo, Mike Nelson, and Crow T. Robot when they viewed it on "Mystery Science Theater 3000" under the title "Red Zone Cuba?" Or perhaps because of some mysterious quality of the film itself? I don't know. I just know I love it.
And I'd love to see a remake.
As far as I can tell, Coleman Francis and two other losers, escape from the cops hook up with "Cherokee" Jack and hightail it to some para military camp that's training for a invasion of Cuba. After their failed attempt to capture Cuba from a very fake Castro, our heroic trio steals a plane, make it back to the states and then throw some old guy down a well while his blind piano playing daughter goes about her music. Then they start searching for tungsten and decide to go legit.(?) This movie makes absolutely no sense. Coleman Francis cuts and cuts and those cuts hurt. There are also scenes of Coleman strangling other characters and sitting in his cell in a very provacative manner. Watch this with Mike, Tom and Crow and try to keep a straight face when John Carradine sings the haunting title track, you'll shake for weeks to come.
Come on, folks! Coleman deserves a break. If the film's credits said
DIRECTED BY JEAN LUC GODARD critics would praise it as revolutionary "new
Coleman challenges our conventional notions of narrative & structure. Coleman challenges our suspension of disbelief by DELIBERATELY making things fake & unconvincing, by distorting time, place & sequence in true "cinema verite" fashion. Remember, there are people out there who think Marcus Welby & Obi Wan Kenobi are REAL - so, rather than exploit the viewer, Coleman DEMANDS that we face our concepts of "reality."
Try an experiment: take just about ANY Godard film (but especially NUMERO DEUX) and pretend it's a COLEMAN FRANCIS film; you'll see what I mean. ANYONE can make a horrid self indulgent incompetent "movie" & be successful if the film has a European (preferably French) director's name on the credits... [note that Numero Deux is French for "#2" - translation: caca] ...Ok... RED ZONE CUBA really did hurt; it was abysmal; it was obvious that many script pages blew away while shooting & Coleman never noticed. It deserves a special place of honor with MONSTER A GO-GO, PLAN 9, ROBOT MONSTER and MANOS as one of the all time worst.
Coleman hurt me; I think I'm suffering the movie watcher's equivalent of the Stockholm syndrome... pardon me while I check out BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS again; I am sure to find relief therein. I will imagine BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS is a Jean Luc Godard film...
As far as I'm concerned this flick resets the bar for terrible movies.I have never been subjected to so much pain in such a short span of time since my last root canal.in fact, I think I would rather Laurence Olivier give me a root canal than to ever have to watch this piece of celluloid schitzen again.It had no discernible plot,the filming was horrible,and the acting nonexistent.The editing looked like it been done by Leatherface.The director(who was also the leading man)spent way too much time trying to play the tired antihero to really do any directing.If there was any kind of storyline,then it was beyond my grasp.It seemed to me like some sort of psychotic flight-of-ideas tale.The characters just amble on from one disastrous screw-up to another(which could have made a good story if you could have followed it).In the final analysis,it was just a painfully unwatchable waste of time.But,if you like,cinema terrible', then this is the one for you.rp
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For many years, I felt secure in my opinion that Plan 9 From Outer Space was truly the worst movie ever made. But, after seeing Red Zone Cuba, I'm seriously considering revising my opinion. Ed Wood, for all of his confusion about whether certain scenes take place during the day or during the night, is a master of clarity compared to Coleman Francis. At least in Wood's features, the viewer has some sense of a story being told with a point to it however confusedly that point may be presented. This film, Red Zone Cuba, dispenses with any clear narration. In fact, it doesn't bother to show or tell how the characters get from one place to another. Half of the time, the viewer isn't sure where the characters in the story are. In fact, the whole Cuban episode from the film derived its name is in fact a digression that sets up the sort of Treasure-of-Sierra-Madre climax of the film. Essentially, the cast goes to Cuba so they can be taken captive and put together with Lieutenant Chastain (sp?) who tells about his pitchblende mine. That, as far as I can make out is the point of the story.
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