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Song of the South (1946)
Nasty and vicious
Sorry, racists. Even if you can ignore the endless hyuk-yukkin' (cause you know they all talks that way) and the scenes of weary but happy slaves/sharecroppers/happy non-exempt employees with good dental plans singing lustily as they stroll in the gloaming towards home, Song of the South sucks on toast.
Story lines are dropped like cell phone calls in a salt mine, characters act because the script says so, not from any meaningful motivation, and the relations between the races are as believable as the relations between Hogan's Heroes and the Wehrmacht.
Particularly offensive is the scene where Bobby Driscoll's daddy comes home, speaks to his son, and is rewarded by the little newt calling out in pain for Uncle Remus.
As far as the underlying morality of the story, yeah, sure, I took Cultural Anthro in school because that's where the hot babes were: I know that every culture has its tales of The Trickster. I ALSO know that the kid's mother was 1000% right in cutting him off from Uncle Remus--I don't want MY six-year-old having some old guy in a shack teaching him that you win in life by lies, deceit, and misdirection. Nice stuff.
Get real. The only thing worth preserving for future generations here is the story of the Tar Baby. "He got into big trouble because he messed with something he didn't know about and never should have messed with in the first place," or words to that effect. I WISH we could have used that line over and over during the ramping up of the Iraq War.
Otherwise, you take the time and expense to glam onto a copy of this fece, you'll watch it once, be really p.o.'d the only thing worth watching is the twenty minutes or so of animation, put it on the shelf, and never, never, never, never watch it again.
Why you should demand the release of this movie on DVD
We saw this on a decent-sized screen at a showing presented by the Mexican Consulate (!). The "monsters" are so hilariously bizarre that your treasured memories of vampire women and Aztec mummies will be left in the dust.
But why go on? All you need to know is that Santo and Blue Demon vs the Monsters contains the following line from mad scientist Otto Halder, as he confronts the entire crew of good guys in his lab, all momentarily under his power: "You called me insane!" (Turns to evil invention, calmly.) "I will now disintegrate my niece."
What more could a True Believer ask from a movie than a line like that?
Tell the truth, kids
As noted, there's a lot to like about Lemora. The cinematography in places is shockingly good, some of the night exteriors in particular. Robert Caramico, who shot it, was already a blooded professional, his first credit being Orgy of the Dead, and he went on to another dozen and a half movies before his untimely death. The low budget is apparent from time to time: note that at some point Caramico set up on a hillside overlooking a roadway at night, took the same shot half a dozen times of every vehicle used in the production passing by beneath, and then Blackburn scattered them throughout the picture.
Anyway, the problem is the Big Finish, where vampires leap on churchgoers and vice versa. It sucks. It means nothing. You can watch the film a dozen times and it still makes no sense whatsoever. You want to know why a terrific little flick like Lemora isn't on everybody's top-ten list of cult masterpieces? The ending. Boo. Hiss. The little snapper at the finish, which you could see coming a mile away with its brights on, gives Cheryl Smith a chance to be a hot babe for about two minutes, after a marvelous, utterly believable performance as a simpering virgin 2/3 her real age.
But boy that ending. As clear a failure of a scriptwriter's ability to produce as the ending of Blazing Saddles.
Tobacco Road (1941)
Vicious, mean-spirited, and demeaning
By sheer chance, I happened to get hold of copies of three difficult-to- find DVD's within about a month of each other: Tobacco Road, Tortilla Flat, and Song of the South (this is the 21st century, kids, EVERYTHING is available if you look hard enough).
What a nasty insight into the mindset of America in the 1940's: let's all us respectable white folk rush to buy tickets to see darkies, white trash, and wetbacks demean themselves. Here's a quick test to see if you want to hunt this particular vile artifact of our politically incorrect past down: do you think Gene Tierney rolling around in the dirt trying (unsuccessfully) to get a genetic defective to come over and give her a little pleasurin' is A) side-splittingly hilarious B) stomach-wrenching? If your sides aren't already aching with laughter, pass.
As good or better than you remember...
It's a mini-series, they had several hours to fill, so, no, it doesn't play like a movie. Fresno does drag a bit in the second half. Doesn't matter. Relax, enjoy, and look for the details: Anthony Heald, as noted elsewhere, is hilarious; breakfast at the Kensingtons' involves Terri Garr and Carol Burnett dressing for a Presidential Inaugural Ball and tossing Bloody Marys in quick succession, with Terri Garr's gown, at one point, nearly releasing BOTH bazongas onto the tablecloth, worth the price of admission on its own; there was clearly someone in on the script who's spent a LOT of time in the Central Valley, f'rinstance Jerry Van Dyke as a country bar owner named Tucker Agajanian, or the marvelous fly-in shot at the opening. And, yeah, from time to time they DO show a print of this at various artistic functions in Fresno.
Now, I understand and comply with the guidelines posted for IMDb that says Thou Shalt Not Discuss Availability. But there's an easy way to find out for sure. Just Google the name of the show, with the URL of the IMDb entry. Oh, yeah--remember to enclose it all in quotes, so you don't use up a lot of resources unnecessarily searching the entire Net.
Please, please, preserve your lovely memories...
...and do NOT go looking for Dondi to share with your kids.
I've got 'em all, kids, four hundred titles of the vilest filth and degradation ever burned into film. I've got Alien Private Eye, three different copies of Skidoo, Puffing Your Profits with Balloons, and two different releases of Night of Horror. Dondi, Chairman of the Board, and The Misery Brothers are the only three movies I own that neither I nor any of my fellow Stinker Ninjas can sit through in one shot.
Yeah. It's that bad. Remember, you can't blame the kid for the horrifying lines, the brain-damaged phrasing, or the ketchup-on-pizza accent: this is 1000% on the head of Zugsmith, unless Gus Edson contributed anything but the title to earn his writer's credit. Ever see Sex Kittens Go to College? There's that same sickening feeling about ten minutes in, that there is no God, no hope, and that the balance of the universe can be restored only by deep-frying Al Zugsmith's carcass like a Thanksgiving turkey on the deck of a double-wide for all eternity.
Gak, yuk ptooey, and Gah! Prunes!
Now, several commenters have mentioned that this isn't available on VHS or DVD. There's one way to find out for sure: google the name of the movie and the IMDb URL for Dondi. Oh, and to save Google money, enclose the name Dondi and that IMDb URL for Dondi in quotes, like,
Them electrons is expensive.
Anyway, this way you'll know for sure.
Born Yesterday (1950)
Sorry, bad news direction, uncomfortable script
We're working through the films of our younger days; some are astonishingly better than we remember (Rebel Without A Cause, Summer Place), some are absolutely unwatchable (The Apartment).
Sorry, this is Category II. Cukor is the problem: a visitor from a distant galaxy could instantly recognize that we're supposed to already know that Judy Holliday is hilarious, that there's going to be big boffo laffs, and that she can therefore play it very, very small and, OK, here's the huge pause in the action so you've got time for the obligatory laugh. Awful.
That's before we get to the content of the cruel, demeaning script. Politically incorrect? Of course, but even without that it has no compunctions about embarrassing the principals for humorous purpose. Pity, because what Judy Holliday is doing here is incredibly quirky and individual, like a young Shirley Maclaine.
When does it stop being a movie?
We're exploring new territory, kids.
Think of all the icons and touchstones of Bad Bad Bad we love and respect: Manos, Plan 9, Eegah! Think of all the big-budget stinkburgers we've forced friends and relatives to sit through, trying to infect them with our disease: Skiddoo, Myra Breckinridge, Showgirls. Think of how we all felt when we realized that MST was only able to scratch the surface of Bad, since they had to track down the perpetrators and get rights, and since they had to stick to movies that COULD be ripped. I mean, how do you make fun of Acid Eaters, Night of Horror, Broadway Jungle? Now, for you lucky ones, you true connoisseurs of cr*p, think about those very special flicks even you couldn't take in one sitting, the absolutely unwatchable: Misery Brothers, Jimmy the Boy Wonder, Microwave Massacre.
This. Is. Worse. This is hallucinatorily bad. This is so much further down the scale than Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare that you'll laugh hysterically rereading all the one-star Comments on IMDb for the original-poor fools! You think this is bad? Wait till the sequel comes out twenty years later, then you'll REALLY see something that'll bring up your lunch!
If you believe, really believe, in the healing power of bad film, this is a can't-miss. No hints, no clues as to what you'll be exposed to-OK, just one: the magic scene in which Jon-Mikl, now pushing three hundred pounds, in floppy rubber armor, is attacked in a park by a SINGLE STRAND of Swedish ivy. Does he defeat it with his mighty broadsword? You'll never know till you see The Original Rock Warrior in...INTERCESSOR!!!!
Jimmy, the Boy Wonder (1966)
Deep, homicidal impulses rise to the surface like bubbles in a tar pit
I think if you haven't seen this-thing-the other comments pretty much cover what goes on up there on the little screen.
[Actually, let's establish right here that no matter how detailed the comments are, there really is NO WAY IN HELL you can possibly imagine what actually goes on up there on the little screen without actually seeing this horrifying cowflop. But I digress.]
So I'd like to make a comment, vs. write a review. I've mentioned in other Comments that I found out early on that, in my hunt for the world's worst movies, there's different dimensions of "worst." There's big-budget worst (Skiddoo, Myra Breckrindge, Battlefield Earth), low-budget why-are-watching-this? worst (no finer example than Night of Horror), utterly whack wolverine-hit-by-a-car-eating-its-own-leg worst (Troll 2, Blood Freak), stately, elegant, completely insane worst (Godmonster of Indian Flats! Godmonster of Indian Flats!), run-screaming-from-the-theater worst (King Kung Fu), and just-plain-depressing worst (Pink Motel, Microwave Massacre).
Jimmy, the Boy Wonder, creates its own class of worst. Jimmy, the Boy Wonder, makes you want to rise, smoldering, from your Barcalounger, go out on the street, and assault perfect strangers with a two-quart Mason jar full of nickels. It makes you want to get a buddy with a jailhouse tattoo, drive to western Kansas, and do an entire family of hardworking Republicans in a remote farmhouse. It makes you want to go to an orphanage and pour sugar in the gas tanks of the busses. Jimmy, the Boy Wonder is violence-inducing worst. Instead of Mike and the Bots, Jimmy, the Boy Wonder needs a simple silhouette of Sam Kinison at the bottom of the screen, going, "AAAAAAH! AAAAHHHHH! AAAAAAAHHHHH!" for ninety minutes, to help you scream away your pain, but it won't help, believe me, it won't help, your humanity will fall from you and you will run out like a horde of Mongols on hairy ponies looking for a nunnery to despoil.
There's my comment. I'm going to go watch Night of the Zombies about forty times to wipe the memory of Jimmy, the Boy Wonder out of my mind.
Deadly Blessing (1981)
Where did this nice little flick go wrong?
Almost twenty years after I first saw this on HBO, I found a copy for a buck in a bookstore, without a slipcase, and figured it was worth checking out to see if the scene with Maren Jensen in the tub with the snake was as thoroughly dumb*ss as I remembered.
Kind of a shock. Most of it was so good that it became irritating that Wes Craven blew the chance to make a true minor classic by cheaping out on the script. Run down the list: There's SIX of the hottest women ever to grace the screen (oh, please DO include Colleen Riley-rrrowwwf!) AND Jeff East, so good-looking you want to punch him in the nose. There's some absolutely gorgeous photography of the Texas countryside. There's some of Wes Craven's trademark completely original set-pieces. And, also as usual, he does a terrific job of somehow shamelessly exploiting the women while letting them keep their dignity-only David Lynch gets away with this to the extent that Wes Craven does.
But, boy, is that script messed up. Censer-swinging, hymn-singing Amish? OK, not Amish, "Hittites," supposedly up-tighter than Amish-and they burn incense? Storylines that go absolutely nowhere-***SPOILER****Faith is a WHAT???? Uh, yeah, and actually, so what? Ernest Borgnine keeps ranting about the "incubus"-ultimately, what does this have to do with the Hittites? Did they bring it on themselves, or are they the only ones who can deal with it, because they're sufficiently righteous? And, oh, yeah, by the way, did anyone actually look up "incubus" in the dictionary before they used the term?
Then there's that big near-the-end scene that others have commented on. Guns go off, knives are waved about, women in jeans, women in nightgowns, guys in women's clothing, hot babes in designer clothes are all running around to no real purpose, and eventually several end up dead. The End. Or not, if you got the longer version where a demon rises up through the floorboards for no reason anybody can figure out.
And it's really irritating, because there's flashes here of serious talent that Wes Craven apparently stifled because this movie didn't make a nickel. A couple of the countryside shots started looking a whole lot like "Days of Heaven."
Oh. More spoiler. The bathtub scene was, in fact, as dumb*ss as remembered. Maren Jensen shucks her clothes and climbs in, clearly and unequivocally buck nekkid. When the snake climbs in with her and she starts to jump around in the tub, she's magically donned a black bikini bottom. Come ON, Wes. This is your money shot. Either pay Maren the extra bucks for the full frontal or cut this thing better to keep her pelvis out of the shot.