Saturdays off from The Show are not all that uncommon, but prior notice of an upcoming dark night is, so when I found out I was at liberty Memorial Day weekend, I of course set about to bullying my fellows to gathering for a Crapfest. To my surprise, this worked. Saturdays are always easier to gather for these things.
I arrived a bit late – I was still recovering from some major dental work on Thursday, and running the technical end of the graduation exercise for my wife’s school that morning. While waiting for the others to arrive, host Dave, Alan and Rick were playing some Wii golf game that had Tiger Woods in it. Knowing sports video games as I do, I realize that narrows it down to about a hundred and fifty games.
In any case, Paul finally arrived, and the tournament was cut short. I’m reasonably certain Dave was winning, as he had been playing the game obsessively for the last few weeks. While snacks, or the evening meal and so forth were being prepared, I put on what was left of my Tom Jones set.
This lead to some consternation. There is nothing to inflame the crap purist quite like injecting some quality into his evening. I laughed at them, for they did not realize that starting with a bit of quality only makes what comes worse. Like Alan Moore’s flower from the northern bank of Heaven set to bloom in the fields of Hell, it only makes the suffering worse.
Or, you can look at it this way: I like making Paul happy, and as this disc had Tom Jones jamming with Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, he was very happy.
However, jealous forces – and in these tales, there are always jealous forces – were at work, and Dave, finally not able to stand the quality anymore, cut off Aretha in mid-scat and started the first movie of the evening, Mr. Hercules Against Karate.
It is damnably hard to find information on this 1973 wreck. We know it was directed by Antonio Margheriti, which means I got to say things like, “Wow, it’s hard to believe this was by the same guy who did Yor, Hunter from the Future!” What we have here is a couple of Terrence Hill and Bud Spencer clones, who are working on an oil derrick in Australia. The Bud Spencer clone is not and never will be called “Mr. Hercules’ – in fact his name is Percival – but he is outlandishly strong, and wrecks everything he touches, leading to both he and Not Terrence Hill – “Danny” – getting fired, but eventually hired by a Chinese man voiced by Paul Frees to get his ten year-old son back from his wife, who ran away to Hong Kong with a kung fu instructor named Hung Lo.
Yes, Hung Lo. The guy hiring them is named Ha Chu, which will present us with many “Gesundheit!” jokes. These are the jokes, folks, and should give you some idea of what we were subjected to for the next hour and a half.
Percival and Danny destroy things wherever they go, nonchalantly and unapologetically. They are, in fact, massive jerks, and frankly we were rooting for Karate. Unfortunately, Karate is represented by Hung Lo’s henchmen, led by (ahem) Skrew Yu, and they are not up to the task. Which brings us to an odd point: Hung Lo brings in a “Samurai” to equalize things, and he punishes failure by plucking out eyeballs. Kinda gruesome, for a comedy.
Anyway, eventually our “heroes” run out of things to break and asian extras to throw around, they’ve got the kid and the police have Hung Lo and the kid’s mom (who for some reason wears heavy geisha makeup and may have been played by David Bowie), and the movie still goes on for fifteen, twenty years, while Dave wails, “The movie was over! IT WAS OVER! WHY IS IT STILL GOING?”
Incidentally, remember what I said about quality accentuating the pain? Paul’s spirit audibly broke five minutes into Mr. Hercules Against Karate.
There was a call for something featuring actual martial arts afterward. The assembled masses were given a choice: Sonny Chiba or Disco Godfather. They chose Disco Godfather. Given what we had just seen in Mr. Hercules, it was a pretty safe bet that a Rudy Ray Moore movie would have at least a thousand times more, and better, martial arts. There is, in fact that very thing just in the trailer:
The first indication of trouble here arises at the very beginning, the MPAA rating screen, which tells us that his movie is rated PG. Wait a minute… a Rudy Ray Moore movie rated PG??? He never gets to say “motherfucker” even once, which leads one to ask, Can this truly be called a Rudy Ray Moore movie?
Rudy Ray is playing Tucker Williams, a former cop who gave up the force for the glamorous life of a disco owner (and Godfather, needless to say). The crux of the matter here is PCP, especially when a promising young basketball player has a “whack attack” in the disco. It took me three-quarters of the movie to figure out the guy was Tucker’s nephew. This, even though Tucker’s old boss informs us, “There are three things that make Tucker mad. Number one is messing with his family.” He never bothers to tell us what the other two are, so we should just really watch our steps.
Social relevance has a tendency to get in the way of our story here, in that achingly 70s way. There’s a lot of time spent at an anti-PCP rally, and a young girl who’s stuck in psychosis after her whack attack. Her mother, pastor and a bunch of bible-toting parishoners crowd into her room, and will spend most of the movie praying and shaking, and generally making the poor girl feel like she’s in hell. That… doesn’t seem all that helpful, really.
Rudy Ray finally takes the fight to the local angel dust factory, leading to the best scene, where a guy jogging by sees Rudy Ray confronted by a bunch of thugs. ‘They’re runnin’ an angel dust factory here!” says Rudy Ray. “Well, then, let’s kick their asses!” says the man, who proceeds to do so. Luckily that was Howard Jackson, Rudy Ray”s martial arts instructor! What a coincidence! (which seems to happen in every Rudy Ray movie)
Rudy goes ahead of his backup and gets captured, and dosed with PCP, oh no! (The most surprising thing about this turn of events was the discovery that all PCP users have the same hallucination!) The successful local businessman who was running the operations makes the mistake of crossing paths with the whacked-out Rudy, who kills him with his bare hands. The movie ends with the insane Rudy screaming into the camera. (oh, yeah, incidentally: spoiler alert)
Not at all what I expected. Doggonit, I never did get to ask him what I was supposed to put my weight on!
This is, I suppose, Rudy Ray’s serious movie, his message movie. Intriguingly, Rudy is actually pretty good in this venue. You can also see a whole lot of inspiration for Black Dynamite in several scenes. I think we were expecting something more along the lines of say, Dolemite or Petey Whitestraw, but no, this movie is very serious in tone. I wonder if Rudy Ray fans were similarly disappointed, which might explain why the flick got re-released as Avenging Disco Godfather.
Well, enough delays. It was Chiba time. Chiba Fever had been slowly building since the last Crapfest, when the previews for The Bodyguard wowed everybody. I brought both that movie and The Streetfighter, which won the vote thanks to its reputation.
Sonny Chiba is Terry Tsurugi, who was to continue our streak of unlikable badass protagonists and proceed to paint that streak a mile wide. To call Terry mercenary is an understatement. He saves a killer from execution in the very beginning, and when his clients can’t pay the other half of his fee (and the guy half of the pair kills himself trying to beat Tsurugi), our Streetfighter hero sells the girl half of the duo into prostitution. At this point, we decided Tsurugi was perhaps something of a jerk.
Well, the mobsters he sells the girls to (whom we are told are Yakuza, and that the Yakuza run the Triads, and they are all run by the Mafia, which I am sure was surprise to all of them) try to hire Tsurugi to kidnap a girl who just inherited Exxon, or something. He turns down the job, and eventually winds up helping to protect the heiress, because he “hates punks worse than anything!”
Yeah, this movie has the devastating X-ray punch, as seen later in Story of Ricky. Tsurugi does indeed fight dirty as hell, culminating in an episode where the heiress gets kidnapped, and unfortunately finds herself in the care of the single black man in the Yakuza/Triad/Mafia, who is the Vice President in Charge of Rape (“That’s racist!” Rick helpfully informed us.) Tsurugi swings in through the window, and rips off the guy’s member with his bare hands, because if there’s anything he hates worse than punks, it’s a punk’s junk.
There was more than enough carnage on hand (on hand! get it!) to satisfy all, and many were the “Whoas!” and “AAAAAAA!”s uttered in the course of the movie. Stuff like this is why it was such a gas seeing Chiba do comedy in Kill Bill Part 1.
Paul now exercised his Wuss Clause and left. Which is just as well, because he didn’t get to see my charity bite me on the ass. You see, in the e-mail roundabouts preceding the Crapfest, Rick, after enduring the 93rd e-mail beatdown of his crusade to get us to show The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, e-sobbed that his life would be complete if he only had a copy of The Savage Bees.
Flashback: This goes back a few years, when Rick was exclaiming about a movie where bees were covering a volkswagen and it was rolled into the Astrodome, where the cooling system was turned way down and the bees were frozen. This might have happened while we were watching the godforsaken director’s cut of The Swarm. Anyway, like a lot of movies seen in our youth, it was misremembered. That wasn’t the Astrodome, it was the Superdome, and it wasn’t The Swarm, it was The Savage Bees, a made for TV movie.
I had a copy of it. I made Rick a copy of it, so his life would be complete. And after every movie, he would hold up the DVD and say, “Bees! I have a movie with thousands of bees!” until Dave shoved me bodily aside and finally put the DVD in. That will teach me to be charitable.
The horrifying African killer bees (“That’s racist!” Rick helpfully explained) sneak in on a Brazilian Banana Boat (“It’s a bad Brazilian Banana Boat, with bees!” “Balderdash!”) and keep swarming closer and closer to New Orleans during Mardi Gras. I was severely disappointed that no one ever said “We can’t shut down the Mardi Gras!” Now there were some pretty good bee stunts, I will admit. Somehow our heroes get the entire swarm to light on that VW and slowly drive it through New Orleans (“We’re lucky this is Ash Wednesday! It’s the quietest New Orleans will ever get!”) into the Superdome, which is chilled down to 45 degrees, the exact temperature that puts bees to sleep. And that’s the end. What?
Alan decided the general direction given to any scene was “Milk it! Millllllllllllllk it!“, and oh yes, there were more extended takes here than during a Bergman film. Ben Johnson and Michael Parks are our heroes, with Horst Bucholz providing the requisite doomed bee scientist. Good cast, at least. A fairly decent cooldown movie.
And then we sort of disbanded before anything else terrible could be inflicted on us. I’m older and slower, and stood around talking with Dave for a few moments, then, when we opened the door, found Rick there, waiting, arms outstretched, just outside the door. “Willllllllllllllllllliams!!!”
Yeah, I was parked behind him. That moment made it all worthwhile.
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