Low-budget film about a young man given a mystical medallion by an Aztec shaman, in order to become a puma-empowered champion like his father before him. In trying to initially locate the ... See full summary »
Alberto De Martino
Walter George Alton,
Miguel Ángel Fuentes
Professor "Johnny Longbow" Salina, a man who really knows his stews, introduces Paul Carlson to the practical-joking Kathy Nolan. Paul and Kathy seem to hit it off rather well but, during a meteor storm, a meteorite fragment strikes Paul, burying itself deep in his skull, which has the unpleasant side-effect of causing Paul to mutate into a giant reptilian monster at night and go on murderous rampages. It turns out that this sort of thing has happened before, when Professor Salina rediscovers ancient Native American paintings detailing a similar event many centuries ago. Kathy, however, still loves Paul, and tries to save him. Written by
Leo L. Schwab <firstname.lastname@example.org>
'California Laaaadeeee, Won't you shorten your dress for me???" - Tom Servo
My mom used to say, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". She said this approximately 356 times a week, which helped make me the man I am today. (Thanks, Mom!) So I'll start out with some nice things to say about TOTMB.
Paul and Kathy are a nice looking couple. Paul looks good with his shirt off, kind of a Chippendale dancer physique, and Kathy has spectacular legs. The director realizes this and exploits it for everything he can get.
The guy who plays "Johnny Longbow" has a nice screen presence and a good, sonorous voice. Even saddled with a lugubrious, windy character who makes long, boring speeches, he is the most watchable thing in the film.
The script tries to work in some potentially interesting Indian stories and myths into the film - in real life, Indian lore does exist about the trickster god "Coyote", and some of it is funny as hell. Plus, the idea that there was another moon beast sometime in pre-history whose presence was recorded in ancient scrolls adds just the least little bit of resonance to the story.
Oops. That's about all the good things there are to say.
On the other hand, the blonde is a massive sinkhole of suck. She's not a bad actress, she's the "Anti-Actress". She only delivers effective readings of her lines by accident. 60-70% of her lines are stiff, flat, stilted, or just plain jarring to the ear. You can't believe the director let her get away with these takes, or worse, that these were the best takes they could get from her. She barely sounds like a human being. And there are times when the director, makeup people, and costumers conspire to make her look like a total skank on camera. It makes me wonder: how did she get this part and who did she anger during the course of the film? Did she stop sleeping with someone, and part of their revenge was to make her look like a 45 year old Las Vegas hooker?
"Paul" isn't much better. He's a chunk of beefcake who looks good with his shirt off, but he can't carry a film because he speaks in a dull monotone and shows absolutely no facial expressions that I can see. In a more modern era, with different lighting and film stock and camera angles, he might come across better, but here he's just a Ken doll who goes through the motions. See Malibu Action Ken ride his motor cycle! See Ken pose shirtless! See Ken clutch his head and act dizzy! See Ken wear pajamas and lie on a diagnostic ironing board! See Ken turn into a walking lizard and tear people apart like bread sticks!
And as usual with films like this, no one has any idea of how to pace a scene, or carry the story forward. My favorite example of this is the 2nd scene, where Johnny Longbow and Kathy explain and explain and explain and explain and explain their unfunny practical joke to Paul for what seems like the entire afternoon, while the camera stays frozen like a Jim Jarmusch master shot and all the actors stay rooted to the ground in an awkward chorus line as if they were tent pegs. The whole movie is like this.
There are even more bizarre story-telling choices in other spots. For instance, take the scene where Paul goes to a folk music concert with his new girlfriend and Johnny, only to come down with a case of the vapors. The rest of the scene is a montage alternating between the three folkies on stage singing their drab little stripped-down Eagles song, and Kathy and Johnny putting Paul to bed to the strains of "California Laaaaaadeeeee". This makes no sense at all. What are you trying to tell us, Mr. Director? That the band kept on playing even when Paul had to go home sick? (I think we all assumed that would be the case). That Kathy is Paul's "California Lady?" (But we know literally nothing about her history or origins, and the whole movie takes place in New Mexico). That you filmed some concert footage of some unknown band and got the rights to use their song and by GOD you were going to get your money's worth? (Then why not have Paul get sick near the end of the song, or have something interesting happen at the concert while the song plays, and let the frigging band have their little moment in the sun?) To top things off, Kathy wears the most alarmingly skimpy dress in the history of cinema for this scene, along with a completely different hair style - she displays so many acres of flesh that it completely distracts the viewer from whatever the heck the film is trying to say during the scene.
In summary: Ugly, dull, badly paced, badly shot, badly constructed story, with a mostly talentless cast playing cardboard characters. But I've seen worse. It gets a couple of points for Johnny Longbow, for the great legs on the blonde, for trying to add some depth and mood to the story with Indian lore, and for not trying to be anything more than a drive-in style B movie.
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