SCHLOCK is ridiculous, offensive, ignorant, and childish. It's also really funny, and it's now available on DVD with, yes, a great commentary track that you may have to listen to more than once; because in their enthusiastic recollections of making the film, director John Landis and special makeup artist Rick Baker reveal a surprising number of historical details.
FAMOUS MONSTERS did an article on SCHLOCK way back in 72 or 73, with nice pictures of John Landis on location, wearing the hairy Schlockthropus suit...I didn't see this issue until 1979, I think, when I ordered a back issue; but when I saw the pictures, I said to myself, "I have to see this. There's something profoundly fascinating about this!" Maybe my curiosity was aroused by the fact that Landis directed the film largely while wearing a realistic ape-man costume! This alone seemed to be proof that something strange and perhaps even unnatural was going on here.
Looking back on that time in 1979, I now realize my motivation for wanting to see the film so badly. The 70's were slipping away and I wanted to capture the "flavor" of fantasy films in the 70's. It was obvious, even before the 70's had wrapped up, that many films from this decade had a very particular style and tone--a very wild and innovative quality.
This was some years before VCRs and home video releases were really commonplace; and I still had not seen the film by the time 1983 rolled around, although I had seen a couple of clips on the Science Fiction Awards show on TV. And that had only served to confirm something that I sensed about "Schlock"--that it was unique and energetic. It just made me want to see it more. Some time in 1983 I was walking through a video store with a friend, looking at tapes to possibly rent. And there was the box. "Hey, look, 'Schlock!'" I exclaimed, figuring that we could maybe rent it. "I've seen it," my friend said with real disdain. "It's not very good." For some reason I believed the comment, and forgot all about the movie for several years.
And I think I FINALLY saw it in 1990 or something like that, after much searching; and it was under the title of "BANANA MONSTER" (I would've preferred the original title, but if a person had to change the title, "BANANA MONSTER" is as good a title as any). I don't think I ever laughed so much.
This film is STRANGE. The title monster is unpredictable. He'll be friendly and silly one moment, and straight-up murderous the next. There is a song which repeats throughout the film, called "Your Sudden Impulses." So I guess this unpredictability was the main concept for the monster. On occasion he is quite frightening, and he does kill quite a few people, for example the entire "Canyon Valley Metaphysical Bowling Society" at the opening. A stimulating and sometimes unnerving farce comedy that is not devoid of blood. Quite a lot of fun! See it any way you can.
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