The Catch-Up: Somewhere in There Was a Crapfest

I guess the title says it all, eh? I unfortunately had a Saturday off, so a Crapfest was thrown together. Due to its thrown-together nature, a couple of the regulars couldn’t make it: Erik and Paul, leaving David, Alan, Rick, my son Max (having arrived that same day for Spring Break), and myself. Erik usually handles the meal for the evening with great aplomb, and Alan stepped in to fill the void with an exceptional chili with several different meats: beef, steak, venison, narwhal, sasquatch, and I believe I detected the slight tang of unicorn.

Yes, obviously a Jackie Chan movie.

Alan made up for that largesse by bringing Cannonball Run, claiming that it was due to the fact that Max had likely never seen it (he hadn’t) and so it began.

(There was an odd dynamic about this Crapfest – David, Alan and Rick have known each other since high school, so this event was largely a chance for them to catch up and shoot the breeze. Not much movie watching was accomplished by that side of the room.)

Now Cannonball Run – if, like Max, you were not alive during that period of HBO/Cinemax showing it 24 hours a day – is a supposedly comedic retelling of a high-stakes and illegal transcontinental race that actually existed. The first half of the movie shows the gathering of the contestants and star Burt Reynolds’ and Dom DeLuise’s quest to find the vehicle that will score him the million dollar prize. He finally settles on a souped-up ambulance (director Hal Needham had actually run the race in just such a vehicle), but he needs a doctor and a patient to make the ruse work (so did Needham), Enter the movie’s MVP, Jack Elam, who so effortlessly upstages everybody that I wanted him to get a standalone sequel. The patient role is supplied by Farrah Fawcett and her nipples (the bar where Reynolds first spots her must have been very cold). The fact that Fawcett is essentially kidnapped and transported across state lines by Reynolds and crew is only one of the problematic aspects of the movie.

Our last chance against Thanos.

Among the other participants: Adrienne Barbeau and Tara Buckman as racers who use their spandex outfits to get out of any traffic stops (until they run into a female cop); Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. as gamblers disguised as priests; Jamie Farr as a sheikh who just sort of vanishes; Jackie Chan as a Japanese driver with an experimental high-tech car (being cast as Japanese reportedly pissed Jackie off); and Roger Moore as a guy who thinks he’s Roger Moore and has a different girlfriend in every scene (who, when they are allowed to talk, are all voiced by June Foray).

He, too, would like to hit Dom Deluise.

This section of the movie concerns the dirty tricks played by the racers on each other and the various subterfuges to avoid the law. The whole thing has no significant plot to speak of, just an excuse for comic vignettes (and, to be fair, some pretty damn good stunts). I’d only seen this movie piecemeal over the years, and my experience of it this time remains just as piecemeal. I was wondering if Needham’s comic chops had improved since The Villain, and…

Well, most of our amusement that was not Jack Elam-based was shouting at the screen for Reynolds to hit Dom DeLuise again.

This pissed off David enough (really, anything pisses off Dave enough to justify his choices) that he sprang Incubus on us. Not the Cassavetes horror movie, the Shatner Esperanto one. (Paul later admitted that a contributing factor to his non-attendance was the possibility of Shatner, so there is a Crapfest insider trading scandal brewing)

Kia (Allyson Ames) is a succubus who lures men to their doom at Big Sur (although the ambience is 16-17th century European). They’re all wicked men, though, so she finds the work boring, and wants to test her mettle against a good man – Marco (Shatner). The results are disastrous – Kia passes out from the exertion and the innocent Marco carries her into a church to recover. The succubus world regards this as an act of rape and they summon the Incubus (Milos Milos) to deal with him. Kia turns to the light side of the force to protect Marco (Polo) and is attacked by Black Phillip (a cameo which I must admit surprised me). The end.

Talky films are death at a Crapfest, and talky films in a foreign language, well… This is where the kaffee klatsch nature of the other side of the room truly kicked in. Most of the time was spent in using Google Translate to find out what “Shatner is a dickbag” is in Esperanto (Shatner estas pikilo, if you were wondering) and other such wonders while occasionally asking Max to explain what was going on in the movie.

Incubus is actually fairly intriguing, and I’m still not sure why Esperanto was used, except that it was 1966 and stuff was starting to get weird. Shatner was reportedly an enthusiastic supporter of the man-made language, but everybody in the flick learned their lines phonetically, and the more serious Esperanto community is very critical of their skills. Shatner, being Canadian, is habitually defaulting to the French pronunciation for several words, for example. It remains a curiosity at best, but it is far better than its reputation, its inclusion in Crapfest, and the trailer below would have you believe.

And everybody who complains about Woody Allen’s earlier mature films being overly imitative of Ingmar Bergman really needs to see Incubus. Or ĉiuj, kiuj plendas pri la antaŭaj maturaj filmoj de Woody Allen, kiuj tro multe imitas de Ingmar Bergman vere bezonas vidi Incubus, if you will.

It was my turn, and I admit that I phoned it in. If you look at the chronological listing of Crapfests, you will note that its origins lie in the realm of R-rated drive-in movies, or to use the (appropriately) vulgar, T&A. If I was into the introspection thing, I might wonder if I took the lazy route because I knew there would be fewer people to hurt with my choice. In any case, I brought Orloff and the Invisible Man, a movie which I hate, but it has to be admitted, has lots of T&A. There is one lengthy sequence where a servant girl undresses for bed to convince her loutish boyfriend to go grave-robbing, and when he agrees, undresses again to don her grave-robbing clothes. It also has the most luxuriant thatch of pubic hair seen this side of actual vintage porn. All ignored, probably because they were still translating stuff like “luxuriant thatch of pubic hair” (luksa tegmento de publikaj haroj) into Esperanto on their phones.

Hell, even the big pay-off, that the Invisible Man is actually a guy in a cheap gorilla suit, went unnoticed.


The Original

Dave wrapped things up with the definite high point of the evening, and I wasn’t even displeased about having to watch Revenge of the Sith againIt’s a bit of internet lore about a (bootleg?) version of the movie with subtitles translated into Chinese, then translated back into English via Google Translate (there it is again), with hilarious results. This is the origin of the “Do Not Want” meme.

That’s good enough, but someone went to the trouble to actually re-dub the movie using these mammocked subtitles. The result is astoundingly disorienting at first, because it’s really well done – the guy they found to dub Christopher Lee is spectacularly on-target. Yoda may have somehow become an old woman, but that’s part of the fun. The other part of the fun was figuring out what certain repeated phrases meant – “Sector Ratio” for “General Kenobi” and the Jedi Council’s transformation into “the Presbyterian Church”.

The rest of the fun was listening to the other side of the room bitch about how many years they had looked forward to the final showdown between Anakin and Obi-Wan and the many ways in which they were dissatisfied with what they got. “Do not want!” indeed.

We will be having another Crapfest this coming Sunday, with hopefully better attendance and a better choice from me (no promises). Max will be bringing his first selection, and new vistas of hurt will open for everybody, I am sure.



O: Orloff and the Invisible Man (1970)

Hubrisween 3 BlackClick ^^ for Hubrisween Central, here for our Letterboxd page.

Oh dear God, not Jess Franco again! Why? Whyyyyyyyyy

003012-01What’s that you say? It’s not Jess Franco? It’s Pierre Chevalier? And what is more, you claim that after the first ten minutes, I am going to be begging for the return of Jess Franco? Pish tush, I say! And furthermore, folderol!

You are, incidentally, going to be right.

This is known by many names – even on its own DVD. Sure, the cover says Orloff and the Invisible Man, but the menu claims it’s Orloff Against the Invisible Man. Go to the IMDb and it’s Dr. Orloff’s Invisible Monster. In the UK, The Invisible Dead. And if you use Letterboxd, it’s the original title, The Love Life of the Invisible Man. That last one is going to turn out to be – rather horrifyingly – the movie’s raison d’etre.

We are apparently once a-goddamn-gain in some superstitious 19th century Carpathian village, and the new doctor in town can’t understand why no one wants to take him to the castle of Professor Orloff for an emergency call. At least the doctor in Kill Baby… Kill! made it almost to his destination, this poor sod gets ditched in the middle of nowhere, and in a rainstorm, to boot.

Dr. Garandet (Paco Valladares) finally makes it to Castle Orloff, where the two remaining servants also refuse to tell him what’s going on. He finally talks with Orloff’s daughter, Cecile (Brigitte Carva), who tells him she’s seen an invisible man, and also her father is always in his laboratory. Papa, of course, is Professor Orloff (Howard Vernon), who not only somehow survived our last encounter with him at the other end of the alphabet, but also managed to add an “f” to the end of his name.

orloff-and-the-invisible-manOh, good God, why keep pretending? This has absolutely nothing to do with that Orloff except it’s still Howard Vernon, and he’s still tampering in God’s domain like a mofo. In this case, he has created an Invisible Man (exactly how is never revealed), an entirely new form of life which is “Intelligent and obedient” and will rule the world, or something mad science like that.

But never mind that, let’s while away the next twenty minutes with the tale of how, six years ago, Cecile had some sort of cataleptic fit and was interred alive, and saved only by two wicked servants robbing her grave for the jewelry. When she revived, they panicked, stabbed her, and ran off. Well, the smart one, the woman (Isabel del Rio) ran off, the man stuck around to be used for experiments. Oh, don’t worry, the woman is tracked down with dogs, which causes her blouse to unbutton.

This suspiciously modern underwear does not appear in the actual movie.

This suspiciously modern underwear does not appear in the actual movie.

You see, to get back to the Invisible Man stuff, and the Love Life thereof, if you see a woman under the age of 30 in this movie, you can rest assured that at some point you are going to see her naked. Isabel del Rio, to convince her fellow servant to do some grave robbing, will coquettishly (ie., slowly) change into a nightshirt. Then take it off and put her clothes back on for some resurrectionist action. The one remaining female servant in the castle – who is the one who sent for Garandet – will be punished by handing her over to the Invisible Man, mainly because Orloff “wants to see what he will do with a human female.” It involves the poor girl jerking herself around, trying to convince us that she is being pulled along by something invisible, and then manhandling herself on a bed of hay. Then, when we thankfully start running short on time, the Invisible Man also wants to rape Cecile, so say goodbye to that particular nightgown, too.

(I must give Image Entertainment props for giving us, as a DVD extra, the Alternate Clothed Footage of these scenes, unlike yesterday’s feature)



In other words, a better title would have been The Rape Life of the Invisible Man. The plot is entirely superfluous, and were we not distracted by naked breasts and unshaven pudenda (I would like to thank modern pornography for making pubic hair exotic again), the entire enterprise would be so generic and unoriginal, so padded with lugubrious claptrap, that the only way to deal with it would be to take a restful nap or perhaps read a book while you coexisted in the same room with it during its mercifully brief 82 minutes.

There are points at which somebody on the crew said, “Hey, you know, that Bava guy’s been doing some pretty cool stuff” and breaks out the colored gels in the numerous catacomb scenes, but overall the scenes are way too brightly lit – there are obviously big lights on the other side of the camera, eliminating all atmosphere and period ambience.  There is also a bizarre reliance on close-ups that are out-of-focus, but now perhaps I’m just being bitchy.

The invisible effects are, at least, handled pretty well… at least until Garandet tosses some flour on the Invisible Man and we discover it was a man in a monkey suit all this time. Don’t believe me? Here:

Soccer blue! Buy Orloff and the Invisible Man  on Amazon!