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Monday, March 23, 2009

The Last Man on Earth, The Adventures of Mark Twain and the freak of the week, the worst movie ever made

Hello, and welcome back, freaks.

Sorry for the delay in posting the films, but as it tends to, real life got in the way of entertainment. Which is weird because my real life is entertainment; just ask a cop, judge or lawyer? They all get a lot of good laughs from my existence.

Enough of that real life junk, let’s watch some movies.

Due to my tardiness I tossed up a quintuple secret feature, which, in my opinion (and I’m not alone) is not just one of the worst movies of ‘08 but of all time. That’s right, several months ago
Lions Gate dumped a 500 pound, steaming gorilla turd on pop culture and a few poor souls who thought it was a sequel to another film. I usually would not post a film that was (sort of) still in theaters, but, believe me; this view will not cost Lions Gate more money than they already have. It is a film so bad that the only bordering on clever bit are three characters whose names in the film are from Aristotle, who suggested that these three elements are necessary for persuasive rhetoric. I only say clever because I am astounded and or doubtful that the films writer/director has even heard of Aristotle.

The ongoing gag is one of the worst comedic bits in cinematic history. In all fairness, this falls into the SO BAD IT'S FUNNY arena of cinematic war crimes, but with the money involved, the sheer ineptitude is astonishing. If not for a major star and a few recognizable B actors, you would think this was shot for Youtube.
Fortunately our features and intermission should make up for this film, so dreadful that I swear I saw the ghost of Ed Wood sitting in the theatre, pointing at the screen, shouting “What a loser!” It has taken the heat off of Battlefield Earth and Catwoman.

The worst of the worst. Well, it’s not as torturous as Gone With the Wind, but at least that had good cinematography. Our Freak of the week is actually worse than MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE (1966) and that is major statement of contempt as you can make in regard to a film. Not as bad as GONE WITH THE WIND, but WORSE than MANOS.

Tonight’s features are the classic Vincent Price Film, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964) and The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985) First off, Vincent Price gives an atypically restrained performance as the sole survivor of a worldwide plague that revives its victims as bloodthirsty vampires. During the day, he canvasses his abandoned hometown, tracking down and stalking his former friends and neighbors, always making sure to return before nightfall, when the dead rise to assault his fortified house. Hope arrives in the form of an apparently normal young woman (Franca Bettoia), but her agenda proves to be even more sinister than that of the vampires. Based on the 1954 novel by coscripter Richard Matheson Italian-made production is best known for its influence on George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. The similarities between the two films go beyond the presence of shuffling zombies and housebound heroes; both feature taboo-breaking scenes of interfamilial murder, and both end on bleak, dystopian notes. While The Last Man on Earth lacks the political and darkly satirical shadings (and graphic gore) that make Night of the Living Dead a more memorable experience, the combination of Bava-esque Gothic atmosphere and bleak, documentary-style camerawork by directors Ragona and Salkow (the brother of Price's agent Lester Salkow) lend themselves to moments of pure frisson that compare laudably to Romero's film. Matheson's novel also provided the source material for the dreadful 1971 Charlton Heston vehicle The Omega Man. And a third imagining, a Will Smith vehicle which actually used the books title “I AM LEGAND.” Not a perfect film, but very scary, with loads of action and a fantastic performance by Smith. I would call I AM LEGEND a great horror film if not for the tacked on happy ending.

Enough of that… THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964)

This one is chock full of goodness

Our second feature is one of the weirdest claymation films of all time and I’m including the works of Jan Svankmajer in that bold statement:

Instead of writing my own review of this strange little gem, I thought I’d let you hear what a kid had to say about it:
A must see movie, October 8, 2008
A Kid's Review
This one of the most creative and interesting movies I have ever seen!
It's very detailed and smart. Butif you live in Australia it will only play on your computer.
It is about two boys and a girl, who sneek into Mark Twain's hot air balloon, and all the adventures they have in it.
It is a sensational movie and lots of fun to watch.

Roll on drum, hit the high hat and blow your kazoos: THE WORST MOVIE EVER MADE

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Movie Friday at midnight and book review

Sorry for the skipped week, I was really busy. So, out of left field, I just had to recommend a book that anyone following the CastleFreak midnight movie experience would just love. I am still 100% committed to sharing weird films with you every seven days an will get back on track tomorrow with THE LAST MAN ON EARTH.

The Wolverton Bible The Wolverton Bible by Basil Wolverton

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
A book that I have waited half of my life to get my hands on. If you are a religious weirdo, and want a glimpse into the mind of how another religious weirdo interprets what they read in the bible - here you go.

I have always loved Wolverton's work, but this is not just him sharing his id with us unknowingly, like most of his creations, no, this is Wolverton sharing his warped and wonderful view on the Old Testament and Book of Revaluations. Wolverton was a deeply religious man, so he was not joking around with this work. It is no more demented than any other whacked out take on the source material (including the source material) but it is Wolverton's incredible, painstakingly rendered art that makes this a champ. If you like weird comics that are shot out of left field via outer space, this, my friend, is the brass ring.

If this weirdo bible had been around when I was a kid, I would have been an alter boy.

View all my reviews.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Turist Ömer Uzay Yolund (AKA Turkish Star Trek and Jim Henson's The Cube

Tonight's double feature:
Turist Ömer Uzay Yolund (AKA STAR TURK) and 1969's THE CUBE by Jim Henson

First Feature: Turist Ömer Uzay Yolun

Afterword by Steve Ahlquist

To think of this movie as a rip-off of Star Trek or as a parody of Star Trek is a big mistake, even though Turist Ömer Uzay Yolunda (1973) is both these things. The title literally means "Ömer the Tourist in Star Trek." Ömer the Tourist was played by Sadri Alisik, (1925-1995) an extremely popular Turkish comedian, who played the part in at least seven previous films. Among Turks Alisik is held in the highest regard as a comedic actor.

Ömer, Alisik is a hobo, (think Charlie Chaplin) who wanders from place to place, getting into trouble. His trademark is a great care for truth, and little concern for money. In the previous film in the series, Ömer finds himself in Spain, returning a wallet full of money to its rightful owner. Before that Ömer found himself in Arabia and Germany. In this film, Ömer finds himself pulled out of a shotgun wedding and time traveled to an alien planet. Ömer finds himself during an actual episode of the show, the episode called "The Man Trap." "The Man Trap" was the first episode of Star Trek broadcast in the United States. It may well have been the first episode broadcast in Turkey as well. (I have never been able to determine if it was.)

Let's back up.
Star Trek was extremely popular in Turkey at this time. The entire country was going through a Star Trek craze. This movie is an attempt to cash in on this phenomenon by combining Star Trek with Ömer the Tourist. The Turks therefore did the first big screen Star Trek film, and they worked hard to keep the film in continuity. This episode becomes a sort of "What If?" scenario. What if, the movie asks us, just before the first episode of our favorite series began, Ömer the Tourist was beamed aboard the ship?

The movie proceeds, as
Spock (or as the Turks call him, Mr. Spak), logically from this premise. The first episode play out, roughly as it did originally, with the addition of Ömer. Ömer spends his time teasing the crew, and generally making a nuisance of himself. He's a charming rogue, and the crew likes him. I love the use of the stolen incidental music, the nods to bits of Star Trek mythology that that hadn't been seen yet (such as the Vulcan neck pinch) and the entirely too short miniskirts the female crewmembers have to wear.

The production is both great and terrible, the special effects not better or worse than the original series per se, just... different. The sound effects on the Enterprise when the turbolift doors open are provided by a guy saying "whoosh" into a microphone. The phaser blasts are scratched onto the film like my old super-8 projects. The monsters are guys in suits.

It would have been great to continue the
Star Trek adventures with this crew. Imagine seventy eight more movies, each a Turkified remake of an original Star Trek episode, each episode weirder than the last.

With the new
J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie on its way, people will get a chance to see their old favorite characters re-imagined and reinterpreted by new actors, for a younger generation and a new audience. Back in 1973, in the heart of the Ottoman Empire, it was done first.

Cartoon Freak Show, featuring Paul Friedrick's Onion Head Monster

If you like what you have just seen you can order Paul’s OHM Graphic novels and merchandise HERE!

Second Feature: Jim Henson's THE CUBE (1969)

The Cube was an hour long teleplay that aired on NBC's weekly anthology television show NBC Experiment in Television on February 23, 1969. The production was produced and directed by puppeteer Jim Henson, and was one of several experiments with the live-action film medium which he conducted in the 1960s, before focusing entirely on the Muppets and other puppet works. The screenplay was co-written by long-time Muppet writer Jerry Juhl (who also appears in a cameo). Drop it if you got it, because this is a merry trip down Blue Tab-Gooney Bird Lane. Be sure to bring a mandolin playing midget along as your guide.