The Memorial Crapfest

It had been six months since the last Crapfest. There are many reasons for that. The holidays, certainly. There was also the fact that I was really tired of the cat-herding involved with setting a date that everyone was available. It was just much easier to find a day to meet with Rick, or Dave, or both, and just quietly watch some movies.

Life, though, has a way of forcing our hands.

A couple of weeks ago, in my semi-annual bitching about my life post, I mentioned that I skipped out on the memorial service of an acquaintance because that evening was the only chance I had to rest, recoup and heal in a physically grueling week. The deceased was Mark, who was responsible for such Crapfest entries as Skyscraper, The Black 6, and Evil Town. It wasn’t a memorial service, but a Celebration of Life (Mark would not have appreciated a moribund memorial service, not at all) and it was apparently crowded, which is to the good.

I’m a simple man, and I memorialized Mark the best way I knew: by inflicting terrible movies upon my fellow man, as he would.

The evening began with host Dave testing out his new AV setup with the first 20 minutes of Pacific Rim. Now, Pacific Rim is not crap. It is, however, quite loud. I sat and stewed that every time I tried to start things out nicely with some vintage Rolling Stones or Tom Jones, I get castigated for daring to put some “quality” into everybody’s precious crap. No one understands that this only makes the scalpel cut deeper. Yet here is Dave, receiving no such complaints while he projects giant robots punching kaiju.

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NOT. CRAP.

When you’re the host, you get to do stuff like this.

But you know when nobody complains about “quality” in a Crapfest? When that quality is in the form of cartoons. I curated another set of cartoons, if only because Mark had really enjoyed the Halloween set at the last Crapfest. We start off easy with Feed the Kitty, one of Chuck Jones’ best, followed by Tex Avery’s Bad Luck Blackie, which is its polar opposite: in the first, a bulldog adores a little kitten; in the other, a bulldog continually tries to kill a little kitten.

Tom & Jerry were actually the worst about this.

Tom & Jerry were actually the worst about this.

The next section grew out of a discussion that Dave, Rick and I had after watching Diplomaniacs, about what Dave termed “blackface dynamite” (a scholarly term, to be sure) in cartoons, where an explosion turns everyone onscreen into minstrel show participants. The one instance he could recall with certainty was in Droopy’s Good Deed, which I surprisingly had in its uncensored form… but I still started off with Chew Chew Baby, a 1958 Harveytoon that played semi-regularly in the weekday morning cartoon slot, alongside the Bugs Bunny and Sylvester the Cat cartoons. It terrified me, and in short screwed me up for some time. It was a horrible thing to show a 5 year-old, and once again it is temporarily on YouTube, so look quick:

Oh, all right, here’s the censored Droopy scene in Japanese, which doesn’t make it any better:

Surprisingly, there are some (pretty awful quality) examples of the Betty Boop cartoon I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead You Rascal You, featuring Bimbo and Koko being chased by the giant flying head of Louis Armstrong:

Again, I fully expect all of these to be purged from YouTube in the next week.

I laid out my usual four movies to be voted on. Dave was having none of this voting crap, however (the fascist), and snatched up the recently-released Sorceress DVD. I have gone into Sorceress in far too much detail elsewhere, so let me be brief, and you can visit me twenty years ago at your leisure.

Sorceress is yet another Roger Corman-produced New World Pictures attempt to cash in on the sword and sorcery fad. It was directed by Jack Hill, who has a bunch of good, influential cinema under his belt, like Coffy and Switchblade Sisters. He asked that his name be removed from the movie. It is an intriguing script, full of amazing effects that Corman was not willing to pay for, so what you’re actually watching is a cheap piece of junk. It does feature the Harris twins (Playboy Playmates) and their nudity, Frampton the Barbarian, and for some reason, a Viking and his traveling companion, a satyr. I’m usually pretty forgiving about the acting in these things, but in this one it gets pretty dire.

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“And my axe! …except I don’t have one.”

The major heartbreak in all this: Jack Hill wanted Sid Haig to play Pando, the satyr, but Corman wouldn’t pay for that, either. I weep over the loss of this portrayal. And you know what else is not in Sorceress? A sorceress! None. Zip. Zero. Corman apparently took a list of possible titles to a local high school and asked them which movie they’d go see. “Why, the one that gives me a chance to see boobies,” they replied, and so it was.

After this, Alan had brought something. When Alan brings something, it is always horrific. This time, it was, at least, horrific and short. It was the premiere episode of the shortest-lived M*A*S*H* spin-off ever, W*A*L*T*E*R*. Yes, Gary Burghoff’s shot at a show featuring his Radar O’Reilly character.

There are a few points of interest: using one of the best episodes of M*A*S*H* as a springboard – the one featuring a TV crew filming a documentary of the 4077th – a “Where are they now?” special catches us up on what happened to Radar – excuse me, Walter – in the intervening years. He lost the family farm and got abandoned on his wedding day, among other things. So now he is a beat cop in St. Louis.

walter2Now, Walter using his Radar O’Reilly powers to solve crimes is the series I would have tuned in to every week. Instead, what we have here is some gently uplifting comedy about how being a nice guy and having an affinity for animals makes Walter a good cop. Any warm feelings toward the show engendered by having Dick Miller crop up as the manager of a burlesque house besieged by warring strippers is wasted by the fact that Walter’s eventual love interest is played by Victoria Jackson. Possibly before she went insane, but still.

You know what? Screw you. Why should I be the only one to suffer?

There needed to be some filler while dinner was grilled (We were too wrapped up in W*A*L*T*E*R* to attend to such things, it seems), and this fell to me. I had two trailer compilations, labeled “Adventure” and “Satanism” “Satan!” chose Paul, enthusiastically. He would regret that.

There are a lot of movies with “Satan” and “The Devil” in their titles, and the most amazing thing about this is that most of these movies are boring. How is this even possible? They don’t even have enough good stuff in them to make a good trailer, and this is sad.

fitnessRick had prepared a ton of hamburger patties. Dave imperiously strode through the kitchen, proclaiming, “You will have double cheeseburgers! This is the LAW!!!” In a rare gesture of restraint, I only had two double cheeseburgers. I miss those double cheeseburgers. They were good double cheeseburgers.

(Why yes, I did just have my semi-annual visit to my doctor, during which we discussed my weight gain. I told her it was all Rick’s fault. She sighed and scribbled something in the TO BE KILLED column.)

lost planetThen Dave put on his choice. It was a choice that would make us miss boring old Satan. Like many of Dave’s choices, it had more names than a petition against closing a local community center. The name it had chosen for the evening was Galaxy Destroyer, but it is apparently better known as simply Galaxy or Battle for the Lost Planet (“uncensored TV version of Kampf um den verlorenen Planeten”) or “Do you even watch these fucking things before you show them?”

SO there’s this thief named Harry Trent (Matt Mitler) who has stolen a very valuable data tape, and hijacks a space shuttle to escape the security guards chasing him. First problem: he damaged the shuttle and can’t maneuver it, so he has to take a comet’s route back to Earth, which will take five years. Luckily (if not realistically) , there is sufficient fuel and food for this. Second problem: he passed a fleet of wannabe Vogons who reduce the Earth to a scorched black ball.

So after five years of komedy, like discovering he also broke the ship’s stove so that the food is crap and drawing a naked woman on a pillow to seduce, Trent returns to an Earth that has regrown into a bunch of B-movie communes, and discovers he has become a legend, because the data tape he stole will operate a mega-weapon that will destroy the pig-faced aliens. He picks up a feisty liberated woman (Denise Coward), runs into space crabs, has to deal with Mad Dog Kelly, the Maddest Mad Man on the Q Morning Zoo… no I’m sorry, he’s Joe Genitissi in a role that should have gone to Frank Stallone, a Mad Max wannabe who thinks all women should willingly be in his harem and Trent fights him to the death AND OH MY GOD WILL YOU JUST END I REALLY MISS BORING SATAN.

semistalloneSemi-Stallone gets Trent into the Mega-weapon complex and finds out it can kill anybody or anything just as long as the particulars can be programmed into it. Even with the data tape, the surviving scientist (Bill MacGlaughlin) can’t figure out how to program it to kill the aliens. Semi-Stallone says that’s because he’s “too cordial” and he just has to program in human beings and tell the machine to kill everything else. Congratulations, asshole, you just destroyed the biosphere, animals, insects, bacteria and all.

But no, this works, and the aliens dissolve like the demons at the end of the original Evil Dead, but this is deemed so cool that they show many, many instances of it until even that becomes boring. Gaaaah.

This is the work of Brett Piper, who some of you will know from A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell, and you are nodding sagely right now.  Some fair stop-motion animation, almost nudity (“MY movie had boobies,” I once again entoned from the back), komedy, and some tiresome social commentary.

Dave sneered that we had lost our “bad movie legs”. See for yourself, the three minutes where the movie almost got exciting:

And lest that make you think you might actually want to watch this, here’s the actual trailer:

The only comment on YouTube:

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And you know what else wasn’t in Galaxy Destroyer, besides entertainment value? A galaxy, being destroyed or not.

Sometime during this Paul scapered off into the night, claiming work the next morning (he was lying, he wanted to watch the Rockets game in peace. Incidentally, they lost that night.) and also Erik, claiming a hangover (the veracity of this is unknown). This left Dave, Rick, Alan and myself. “What else you got?” asked Dave. I presented two discs which I knew to be around an hour long. “What else you got?” he asked again, and I realized I was the only person in the room who had to get up for work the next day.

Short sleep rations are a fact of my life. You don’t scare me.

Can-que_e39fe8ffI presented two more movies. And with some sort of hell-spawned wisdom, Dave chose the movie that would be of a fit with the rest of the evening: The Return of the Five Deadly Venoms, which has nothing to do with the earlier movie, Five Deadly Venoms. It is, in fact, a re-titling of Crippled Avengers, because people are idiots.

Chan Kuan-Tai plays To, a famous kung fu hero, whose wife and child are hideously mangled by enemies (To then kills the scumbags with one tiger blow each). His son survives, though his arms have been cut off, and To raises him to be a great fighter with iron arms that have some proto-Tony Stark weaponry in them. They also become colossal jerks, ruling the local village with an iron (ha!) fist, and crippling most of the cast of Five Deadly Venoms for various minor infractions, like talking back or bumping into them on the street.

So, a newly blind man, a deaf-mute, a legless guy, and a brain-damaged hero who tried to help them (but still has excellent kung fu skills in his muscle memory), learn kung fu and come back to rid the world of To and his iron-fisted son. If you need more details, once again you can commune with my younger self.

Chang Cheh’s Venom movies (as they are known) tend to end in spectacular fight scenes that rely more on acrobatic skills than martial artistry, but the fights are so dizzying, like a gymnastic tournament gone ballistic, that it is damned near impossible not be sucked in. Another special shout out goes to Wang Lung Wei as To’s second-in-command, whose battle cry of “Let’s go!” whenever his men were losing, became the quote of the evening.

It washed away the Boring Satan and Boring-er Galaxy Destroyers and ended the night on an up-beat. Nyah nyah on Erik and Paul who have to nurse their delicate psyches through horrid memories of Galaxy Destroyer when they think of this night, and not the exhausting final fight of Crippled Avengers or the ta-tas of the Harris Twins (“My movie had boobies!”)

And rest assured that Mark is laughing at us all, and probably making a joke about an obscure Richard Burton movie.

Looks like I’m back to my cat-herding duties.