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Stay Tooned (1990)
A sadly bygone age...
Copying some old episodes of Rolf's Cartoon Club from tape to DVD recently, it dawned on us how much more educational and valid Tony Robinson's approach was. It's absolutely true that not only was Rolf tracing his "freehand" drawings, but his segments were just filler between cartoons.
Robinson provided necessary information for those watching, putting the cartoons in historical context. There were a couple of occasions were he had to explain that a certain animation was from an age were social values were different, including the use of the racist term "s*mbo".
There are probably very few people in possession of copies of this show, and with copyright being what it is, we'll never see it again, and this is a damn shame. Sure, you can buy sets of cartoons on DVD, but they only come from individual studios, and you have to put up with people like Leonard Maltin dripping smarm as he recounts their history.
You'll never see a finer showcase than this one.
The Adventures of Superpup (1958)
This pilot was rightly put to sleep..
This travesty has only come into the public arena because of its release as part of the Ultimate Superman collection. After watching it, it comes as no surprise as to why it has been hidden away for so long...
If those out there in TV land thought that kiddies would watch any old garbage shoved in front of them, they were proved wrong with The Adventures Of Superpup.
Not so much a pup, more a mange-ridden mongrel, Superpup is really Bark Bent (non-US English-speaking countries will get an added laugh with this name), mild-mannered reporter, but has a head so big that if he didn't have super powers, his neck would snap if he was the passenger in a car (or a locomotive) that was hit from behind by another vehicle.
The sheer awfulness of this lousy pilot has to be seen to be believed - Superpup is aided by an annoying hand-puppet that provides expository dialogue (in one instance, this puppet is even employed to cover over a HUGE continuity error!). This character is SO annoying that one would wish arthritis on the person operating it.
The models of the main characters aren't too bad (the Perry White bulldog character looks like something from Peter Jackson's Meet the Feebles), and there is enough action to keep the most undemanding kids amused (though they would probably not be allowed access to sharp objects), but the sheer ghastliness of trying to create an extension of the hugely popular Superman TV show leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
If there was one moment of unintentional hilarity, it comes when Superpup's sidekick, Mongomery Mouse (a glove puppet), has to call the police - the operator of the puppet makes no attempt to try and use the hands of the puppet to pick up the receiver, instead just grabbing the thing the way anyone wearing a glove would pick up a receiver. Funny stuff! The Adventures of Superpup only gets a 2-star rating because of the hysterical moment mentioned above - otherwise, it's an abomination.
Thankfully, Superpup was neutered and didn't beget a full series.
Night of the Zombies (1981)
More fun could be had...
...by booking yourself in for an unnecessary proctological examination.
This truly is one of the worst movies it has ever been our sad duty to sit through.
The acting, direction, editing, lighting, cinematography, scoring, and pretty much everything else is among the very worst you will ever experience. If you thought that some of Jess Franco's lesser movies were painful to endure, then, to quote Jolsen "you ain't seen nothing yet" This movie has more aliases than the aforementioned Mr Franco, but whatever name is travels under, it is always appalling.
If you have truly lost the will to live, then you will want to head toward the light after watching this abortion of a movie.
Quite possibly the worst of the worst...
We enjoy watching British sex comedies - there is great enjoyment to be had watching the comparatively innocent antics of hapless male protagonists trying desperately to get their end away.
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman barely stands up as entertainment even on the undemanding terms of British sex comedies. It is as boring as hell and has production values (and we use the term loosely) that make the Confessions series look like something from the Golden Era of the Hollywood studio system.
Barry Stokes makes for an objectionable protagonist - the arrogant theme song "wouldn't you like to be me" (not, really) gets the viewer off on the wrong foot. Instead of wanting to see Stokes f**k, you just wish he would f**k off. Robin Asquith at least had charm and a likable quality that endeared him to male and female viewers alike, come to think of it, even Jeremy Bulloch as Gil Masters in Can You Keep it up for a Week? was a more sympathetic character than Barry Stokes' Bob.
This was released on video with the cash-in title of Confessions of an Odd-Job Man, but the title fooled few people, as this catchpenny knock-off is quite simply appalling.
Avoid it in the same way that you would avoid and aggressive, hydrophobic dog foaming at the mouth.
Love Feast (1969)
Gruesome with a captial "G"
Ed Wood was in a pretty sorry state by the time The Love Feast came around. He was an alcoholic and his Errol Flynn-like looks had been eradicated by years of over-indulgence.
Love Feast sees Ed as Mr Murphy, a priapistic photographer who shares with the viewer his technique of getting women in the sack. It simply involves phoning a modelling agency and getting eager young models over to his place and getting them to disrobe before seducing them into his boudoir.
Soon Ed realises that he has been sent over more crumpet than even HE can handle and eventually reinforcements arrive in the shape of a cab driver and a couple of plumbers (which is appropriate for this movie, really) and they join in the fun on Ed's bed, which is now a seething mass of arms & legs.
Despite the fact that there are numerous open-crotch shots during the movie, there is a remarkably childish attitude towards sex and the treatment of women in general.
Ed finally cracks and is seen in women's underwear (must have taken some persuading to get him to do that...) and needless to say that by the end of the movie, he doesn't get his end away.
Ed Wood was clearly in poor health and the watching him in the movie makes you feel very sorry for him - it looks like he was being exploited by giving him plenty of booze on camera.
The cinematography is simply atrocious - the worst kind of "point-and-prey" film-making - the copious amount of nudity is not erotic in the slightest, with no make-up to disguise the numerous bruises on the women involved.
Love Feast is the kind of movie that Ed Wood was probably grateful that he didn't direct - it is simply ghastly and tragic to see Ed sing for his supper during his twilight years. It was a pity that all copies weren't destroyed. OK, Ed Wood wasn't a great director, but we can think of other people more deserving of the "Worst Director Of All Time" accolade.
Director (and war buddy of Ed Wood) Joseph F Robertson said that Ed Wood "made slop pictures" - there are worse words to describe Love Feast, but they can't be printed on here...
Absolute garbage. Avoid like Black Death.
Carry on Emmannuelle (1978)
Making the Confession movies look classy...
By the time that Carry On Emmannuelle rolled around, the boom in smutty sex comedies in the UK reached it's zenith and the comparatively innocent double-entendres of the Carry On movies were looking increasingly dated with audiences preferring to seek out something with strong nudity and some crude laughs, rather than watch another Carry On movie in the hope that there might be a fleeting glimpse of a pair of breasts.
With the Confession movies pulling in the punters, and with David Sullivan muscling into the scene with movies like Come Play With Me & Playbirds, Gerald Thomas & Peter Rogers ventured into previously unexplored territory and plunged into spoofing adult movies.
The result was ghastly.
Featuring only a handful of the regular cast, most of them had flown the coup by this time. Kenneth Williams only appeared in the movie as a favour to Gerald Thomas, Kenneth Conner (the unsung hero of the Carry On series in our opinion) tries to have fun with the appalling material, but just ends up making himself look foolish - a great pity. Of the others, only Joan Sims, Peter Butterworth & belated regular Jack Douglas are on hand to help tie this car-crash of a movie to the Carry On series.
One joke that will have a modern audience spitting their drinks across the room involves Dino "Mind Your Language" Shafeek as an immigration officer at an airport.
The saddest slight of all in this non-starter of a movie has Kenneth Conner as Leyland, the Ambassador's chauffeur, showing Suzanne Danielle around London, in a bid to get her sexually excited - driving past Nelson's Column, he starts gurning and emoting "corr", or terms along those lines. Dear oh dear...
Ultimately, Carry On Emmannuelle was too tame for the Dirty Mac Brigade and too strong for those who loved the more innocent Carry On movies. No wonder this was the last regular entry in the series.
Inspector Clouseau (1968)
A tragic waste...
...of the comedic talents of Alan Arkin.
Arkin is a fine actor, with a flair for incorporating pathos into comedy. Arkin's Clouseau was different from the one that Sellers had portrayed (though the Clouseau in The Pink Panther & A Shot In The Dark was far removed from the Clouseau in the 70's movies) - Arkin's Clouseau KNEW that he was hopelessly clumsy and introduced a side to the character that Sellers steered clear of when the three picture deal was stuck during the 1970's.
Inspector Clouseau is also one of the shortest entries in the series; this would most likely be down to the fact that it seems choppy, with all the hallmarks of a movie being butchered down to around 90 minutes when a studio loses faith during post-production and test screenings.
Even if a restored version was released (though it's a pretty safe bet that the original elements ceased to exist decades ago), it would be a far from perfect movie, but it would at least give fans of the series a chance to properly evaluate the movie as a whole, rather than as just a series of disjointed set-pieces where characters appear and disappear and situations occur with little-or-no-reason.
Alan Arkin may have been mauled for his interesting interpretation of the character, but there was more inventiveness and creativity into his single stint as Clousea than Sellers put into the three seventies Pink Panther movies.
The PJs (1999)
It was amusing, but...
...the show seemed like it was a bunch of rich white writers laughing at poor minority groups.
The hang-overs from some of the creative people behind The Simpsons is evident. There are numerous references that the unemployed are all scroungers and perfectly happy with their lot in life, unless of course they are trying to demand more from the system.
As the series went on, it seemed to degenerate into a series of movie parodies, with numerous pop-culture references to movies such as Star Wars, E.T, Terminator 2, etc, moving away from the original intention of the show. You are left with the impression that there are just too many puns on black culture/pop-culture to be anything other than the "haves" chuckling at the "have-nots".
Eddie Murphy is the key figure in making the show work - his vocal performance stands head & shoulders above the rest of the cast, not that this comment is in any way sidelining the others in the show, but the fact that Murphy seems to have used his creative/production credit to make sure that he gets all the plum lines.
It was a bold move to have a stop-motion animation series on TV at a time when conventional animation and CG shows were so very popular. As the series went on, the quality of the animation just got better & better, eventually having the kind of shots that are usually seen on the big screen. If The PJ's is remembered for anything, it will be for the innovative use of a dying art-form.
The Paul Hogan Show (1973)
"I'm here to prove that when it comes to producing thick-skulls, we Aussies is second to none..."
Channel 4 in the UK started playing this as one of their very first programmes and, at the age of 9, it had us hooked for life. The easy-going charm of Hoges combined with his love of TV meant that either his spoofs, sitcom-sketches and his stand-up material always won audiences over.
Bloody hard to find now, we were luck to tape a number of them when Channel 4 played a batch of them again (as The Best of the Paul Hogan Show) in the 1991. The show has not been heard from since.
This is a shame, as the format is much more welcome than the ususal "long-winded-build-up-for-a-scathing-putdown" favoured by most shows these days.
We thankfully were able to transfer out tapes to the wonders of recordable DVD, so we have them backed-up once the tapes have packed-in through sheer age.
The wonders of The Incredible Weed, Benny 5-0, Leo Wanker, Perce the Wino, A Fistful of Ravioli, Arthur Dunger, Mullet and numerous others will not be lost to time so easily.
Entertaining, obscure gem
We saw this movie at the 1994 Eurofest in London and have been singing it's praises to anyone who will listen ever since.
This Italian movie is an anthology based with no linking material, only that all of the stories have a horror/suspense/surreal theme.
The titles of the stories are as follows:
Our Guys Are Coming - A manic pre-credit sequence
Home Delivery - The occupants of a house try & fend off a determined delivery guy, who isn't too thrilled about being called out after hours.
Just Another Vampire Story - An aged vampire tries to impress a young man about his blood-sucking antics
Is TV Bad For Kids? - An evil television stalks a young girl around her home
Empty Gift - Big business and over-population clash in a Blade-Runner-like world
Chains - A guy is inducted into the world of S&M, where chains are the ultimate fashion statement
Outlook - A young woman has her dreams invaded by her psychiatrist
India 21 - A cab driver picks up a mysterious invisible passenger
Finally Together - A couple set up home in the country, but death plagues their thoughts
Squeak - Anarchic low-budget filmmakers try & make a snuff-movie
The stories are diverse, ranging from routine stories with twist-endings to social satire. The directing styles are equally as eclectic - compare the frenetic Peter Jackson-style opening segment, Our Guys Are Coming to the surrealistic, dreamlike qualities of Outlook. Though Italian in origin, there is more of a hint of modern US cinema about a few of them, with Home Delivery easily being mistaken as the early work of Sam Raimi, and with a little Anglo influence of Ridley Scott in Empty Gift.
The best segment is arguably India 21, which in these troubled times is more relevant now than when it was originally shot. Not just a showcase for some of the lesser-known beauty-spots of Roma, but a thoroughly absorbing premise which keeps you intrigued right the way through what is the longest of the segments.
An honorable mention has to go to Squeak, in which the filming of a snuff-movie is hampered by such problems as the microphone appearing in shot. You have to love it for throwing everything, including nunchaku-wielding ninjas into the mix.
We were in the 3rd audience to see it. Before the screening, it was announced that Degenerazione was about to be edited for release with a couple of the stories removed, but said release has yet to happen. Seeing as movies made that long ago are generally considered `commercially dead' it isn't looking likely that it will ever surface. If it does it will certainly be missing the Our Guys Are Coming segment.
However, with all the feverish interest surrounding Asia Argento at the moment, there may be a chance that some enterprising company will finally release this little gem to a waiting audience.