Tuesday, May 23, 2017

No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You To...Oh. Sorry.


Cheers and farewell to Roger Moore, my second-least favorite Bond (okay, maybe it's a dead heat with George Lazenby, but that seems like an insensitive use of the idiom). He did entertaining work on Maverick, as English cousin Beau, and hit just the right tone in The Saint, before his tenure as 007 got off to a prophetically ludicrous start in 1973 with Live And Let Die, where the producers chased hipness and social currency by surrounding Bond with the trappings of a blaxploitation film. Still, it was no stupider than Diamonds Are Forever, which is basically a two hour commercial for Zales and Jimmy Dean Pure Pork Sausage, and I remember being surprised that I didn't hate Moore in the role (that would come later).

He was, by all accounts, a fine person, a philanthropist who dedicated his last years to humanitarian efforts as an ambassador for UNICEF, and I'm sure he'll be lovingly remembered by all who knew him. I didn't, of course, so all I have to go on are some crap films he made; and in that spirit, let's get the remembrances going with this look back at the nadir of the Bond series, Octopussy.

R.I.P. Sir Roger Moore, dead at 89.

[The following is taken from the spy film chapter in the upcoming sequel to Better Living Through Bad Movies, a chapter that is, perforce, heavy on the Roger Moore films.]


Octopussy (1983)
Directed by John Glen
Written by George MacDonald Fraser and Richard Maibaum & Michael G. Wilson

We open in a fake Latin American country which the filmmakers picked up cheap at a Mission: Impossible estate sale. Roger Moore arrives at the world’s most listless steeplechase event (nobody’s moving fast enough to call it a race, so I presume it’s some sort of occupational therapy for depressed horses on Thorazine), accompanied by the first of our nubile Bond Girls. She doesn’t make out with the 56-year old Roger, because that would be gross, but she does glue a pencil mustache to his lip so he looks more like a child molester.

Bond tries to sneak into a high security military hangar, the kind full of top secret fighter jets that’s usually located next door to a race track, and plant a bomb. He’s immediately caught by Fake Latin Americans, but saved by Nubile Bond Girl, who’s not only smarter than Bond, she’s smarter than the us, because she gets the hell out of this movie during the pre-credit sequence, while we just sit here. Anyway, Bond’s horse trailer turns into a flying horse trailer and he escapes, and also accidentally blows up the hangar he was trying to bomb while trying to evade a missile, but he burns up all his fuel, so he crosses the Latin American-Appalachian border, lands at a gas station, and asks a confused hillbilly to “fill ‘er up.”

BAH DAH DAH DAH!  As pre-title sequences go, it’s no Goldfinger, but then we never got to see Sean Connery arguing with a pump jockey about how his purchase should entitle him to a full page of Green Stamps.

After the theme song (“All Time High” [no it isn’t], sung by Rita Coolidge, who delivers it with all the sexy abandon of Calvin Coolidge) we cut to East Berlin, where a clown attempts to flee a circus (but not a flea circus). He’s pursued through the woods by twin assassins (sadly, not conjoined twin assassins, because how awesome would that be?) in what quickly begins to resemble an All-Bozo remake of The Most Dangerous Game. But when his position is betrayed by his floppy clown shoes and bouquet of constantly popping balloons, the twins throw knives into him until he falls into a river. The pin-cushioned clown crawls up the muddy bank, crashes through the French doors of the British Ambassador’s residence, drops a Fabergé Egg on the carpet and dies. Because it’s funny!

Cut to London, where Bond and Moneypenny indulge in a bit of senile flirtation. I don’t want to say they’re perhaps a shade too old for their roles, but it does start to feel like a production of The Gin Game.

Bond meets with some other elderly gents who are fussed because Fabergé eggs are flooding the market, which smells like Communism. Store Brand “M” (just as good as the national brand “M” because he’s dead) confesses that he assigned 009 to go undercover as a clown, but that didn’t seem to help, and now it’s 007’s turn. So stand by for action as Bond attends an an auction at Sotheby’s. Sure it doesn’t sound exciting, but there’s always the chance he’ll make rude gestures to his friends like Dick Van Dyke did in that one episode where he accidentally bid on a hideous clown painting. (Coincidence? I think not).

Meanwhile, in the Soviet Union, General Orlov is playing Risk with the Politburo in the hopes they’ll get distracted and accidentally invade Western Europe, but he keeps getting heckled by General Gogol (who made a career out of playing the Reasonable Russkie role in these movies), winds up putting too many game pieces on Irkutsk and gets totally reamed on his next turn.

At Sotheby’s, Bond gets in a breathless bidding war with Louis Jourdan (in that they’re both old and wheezy  – okay, I’ll stop). Louis wins the auction, but before he can collect, Bond switches a fake egg for the real egg, which means – I’m not sure what, but I guess someone’s cholesterol count will be going down.

Bond follows Louis to India, where he finds him cheating at backgammon the way Goldfinger cheated at gin rummy, but they switch things up this time by making the villain a stylish Frenchman in a black silk Nehru jacket instead of a stocky German in a terrycloth onesie.  Credit where credit is due.

Bond and Louis play a tense board game, then Bond flashes his egg, and Louis’ turbaned henchman crushes a pair of dice with his bare hands.  007 wins a huge bankroll from Louis and hands it to his local contact, saying, “Here, that should keep you in curry for a few weeks.”  Sadly, the Indian agent doesn’t peel off a few rupees and say, “Here, that should keep you in Liver-Spotted Dick.” Then we get a chase scene between a couple of motorized rickshaws through the streets of Downtown India, which are crowded with snake charmers, sacred cows, and men walking on fire and sleeping on nails. Fortunately, the rickshaws are only going about 7 mph, so no racist clichés were killed in the making of this film.

Q shows up with a bunch of crap from the Sharper Image, including “the latest liquid crystal TV” (Bond uses the camera to zoom in and out on a buxom secretary’s cleavage, making me think that Austin Powers wasn’t actually a parody of these films, just a reboot).

Louis’s girlfriend, Miss Bonestructure, invites Bond to a formal sit down dinner with double entendre to follow. Cut to his hotel room, where the two are naked in bed and drinking champagne. Miss Bonestructure says, “I need a refill” in such a sultry way that Bond does a take to the camera that seems to ask, “How many times does she think I can ejaculate?”  Instead, he quizzes her about the cephalopod tattoo on her back. “That’s my little octopussy,” she coos. Wow. Koalas only have two vaginas; no wonder Bond looks so tired.

Bonestructure steals Bond’s egg, and Hench-Turban knocks him out. He wakes up at Louis’ palace just in time for dinner, where we’re served stuffed sheep heads and aimless dialogue. Realizing the scene is going nowhere, Louis plucks out a sheep’s eye and ostentatiously gnaws on it like a hardboiled egg, obviously hoping this movie will lead to something better, like a part in a John Waters film.

Back in his room, Bond slips into an action leisure suit and uses his acid-squirting fountain pen (25¢ plus 3 Proof of Purchase seals) to dissolve the window bars, just as General Orlov drops by the see how his plan to conquer the world through fake Fabergé eggs is progressing.  Bond does a lot of sneaking around and eavesdropping, making me wish they’d replaced Roger Moore with that lady who played Gladys Kravitz on Bewitched, because she had real flair for this kind of thing.

Bond escapes the palace by pretending to be a corpse, but Louis’ henchmen catch on, since he’s basically pulled this same ruse in every other scene of the movie.  Louis mounts an elephant and proceeds to hunt 007 through the jungle, but Bond evades him by swinging from vine to vine while bellowing a Tarzan call. 

No. No, I’m not kidding. Not even a little.

Bond infiltrates the private island of Octopussy, which is kind of like Themiscrya, or Lesbos, as it’s occupied solely by women, some dressed as sexy harem girls, some dressed in bright red unitards like William Katt’s character in The Greatest American Hero.

Bond confronts Octopussy, who suspects he’s come to assassinate her for being the world’s leading jewel smuggler and circus owner, but Bond doesn’t really know why he’s there, and the script is certainly no help. Happily, they discover they have something in common, since it turns out that ten years earlier, 007 made her father commit suicide, so naturally they start to party. But Louis interrupts their tête-à-tête to utter the immortal line, “You have a nasty habit of surviving” (by the way, this is the answer to that age old bar bet, “What do James Bond and post-apocalyptic cockroaches have in common?”)

Bond and Octopussy do the nasty (habit of surviving) but they’re interrupted, again, this time by hatchet-wielding pirates in diapers, and a guy who uses a circular saw like a yo-yo.  007 does a competent job of fighting them off, but then he falls out a window and gets swallowed by a crocodile. Presumably the rest of the film will involve Bond just trying to find ways to amuse himself with Captain Hook’s hand.

Turns out, he’s okay, because it was a fake escape crocodile made by Q, and Bond wants Octopussy to think he’s dead so he can go to the circus.  Cut to East Berlin where Bond watches a guy get shot out of a cannon, then skulks around a bunch of boxcars like a hobo with helmet hair.

General Orlov and Louis have also come to the circus, in order to sell Octopussy some costume jewelry and hide an atomic bomb in the funnel cake wagon.  Bond, using his License to Kravitz, overhears a day player in a Russian uniform explain the whole plot, and takes it as a cue to skulk around some more.

Orlov plans to smuggle the bomb onto a U.S. Air Force base in Germany and detonate it, making the world think American negligence is responsible. Western Europe will instantly become a Nuclear-Free Zone, and the Red Army can just waltz in and take over. Fortunately, Bond has a chance to stop the plot when he corners Orlov in a circus train car. Unfortunately, he’s so busy triumphantly monologuing about how he figured out the General’s scheme that Orlov easily escapes.

Bond tries to catch up to the train with the bomb, but the Russians shoot out his tires. Surprisingly, his sedan is the exact same gauge as a railroad car, and he somehow gets his rims onto the rails, and drives along the tracks, and ordinarily something this stupid would piss me off, but the filmmakers have cleverly spent the last 90 minutes building up my tolerance by gradually exposing me to greater and greater doses of stupidity, until now it doesn't even faze me. I’m like a heroin addict taking a Tylenol.

Bond manages to get on board the train and hide inside a gorilla suit (honestly, I’m fine. Can’t feel a thing). Hench-Turban sees Bond’s eyes behind the mask, and begins to suspect there’s someone in there, especially when Bond clumsily shuffles around in his big ape feet and bangs into a bell. Hench-Turban grabs a sword and decapitates the costume, but fortunately Bond used those precious few seconds to teleport onto the roof.

There’s a dull and inconclusive fight on top of the train with Hench-Turban. Then one of the deadly knife-throwing twin assassins appears, and it looks like the end for 007. But the producers apparently won’t let him throw a knife for fear of tearing the rear projection screen, so he and Bond just engage in a bit of roughhousing and spirited horseplay until they fall off the train.

Well, so far it’s been a festival of fail for 007. Fortunately, General Gogol shows up and plugs Orlov, and even though Bond doesn’t even get to kill the villain, I feel pretty good that at least somebody accomplished something today.

Meanwhile, at the Air Force base, the atomic circus is in mid-performance (apparently it takes about ten minutes to set up one of those big top tents; I don’t know why more people don’t take them camping) and the bomb is counting down to detonation. Bond steals a car and races to the base, but manages to get the whole West German Polizei chasing him, so instead of heading straight to the commander and saying, “We have to defuse a nuclear device!” he skulks around, then spends twenty minutes applying elaborate clown make-up, leading to the one line I personally never wanted to hear spoken about James Bond, “The suspect’s wearing a clown suit!”

007 runs into the big top shrieking about a bomb, kicks a cop in the crotch with his clown shoe, and panics the audience. Fortunately, Octopussy shoots the lock off the trunk holding the bomb, and Bond defuses it at the last second, barely justifying his existence.  Unfortunately, there’s still fifteen minutes to go. Let’s see…Gogol killed the big bad, so I guess that only leaves Louis. True, he was just a middle management villain, but Bond’s got to kill somebody or he’s going to have a very tough time getting his expenses reimbursed.

Cut to India. Louis is already there (apparently he can teleport too). But then so is Octopussy, and she was back at the circus with Bond, so I’m thinking maybe a TARDIS is involved.  Anyway, Octopussy and her highly trained girls infiltrate Louis’ palace, taking out the guards with ruthless efficiency in a scene that’s exactly like the climax of The Dirty Dozen, except everyone’s dressed like a belly dancer.  (I’m sure Bond would have liked to be a part of this operation, but he had to take off his clown makeup first, and someone borrowed his Neutrogena Cleansing Towelettes and didn’t put them back.)

So anyway, it’s Girl on Henchman action, but then after awhile Bond and Q dodder onto the scene in a hot air balloon, having apparently drifted away from their breathtaking tour of wine country.  Louis and Hench-Turban grab Octopussy and try to take off in a airplane, so 007 switches to a horse, because that makes sense.

Bond rides up behind the plane as it races down the runway, jumps out of the saddle, over the head of his horse and onto the tail of the moving aircraft, causing the laws of physics to just say "screw it" and leave the universe in a huff. Louis takes off, Bond and Hench-Turban have a knife fight on the roof of the aircraft, and…

Okay, this is the stupidest scene yet, but you know what? Thanks to the mithridatic effect of the previous scenes, my liver is handling it just fine.

So Bond pulls some wires out of the fuselage and makes the plane crash, but on the way down he and Octopussy jump onto the edge of a cliff so they’re fine, but Louis doesn’t have the presence of mind to step out and keeps crashing, so he dies.

Now for the sexy coda. We’re back on Octopussy Island, and for once the grim toll of Bond’s injuries is realistically portrayed – his arm is in a sling, his leg immobilized and elevated. But Octopussy is horny, so Bond flings off all this therapeutic impedimenta, says, I was just kidding about the traction! Psyche!, and then they smooch while Rita Coolidge again warbles “All Time High,” which I now realize wasn’t a theme song, but a prescription.

Oh, and James Bond Will Be Back in A View To A Kill.  I, however, won’t be here when he gets back, and I’m not leaving him a forwarding address either.  He can just keep my LPs. And that five bucks he owes me.  But I want my mother's Pyrex casserole back.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get all time high.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Concentrate and Ask Again

A rare glimpse of Splendida testiculum nervumque, or The Glowing Testicle. This ancient Illuminati artifact, seldom removed from its basalt sarcophagus, can only be ignited by the combined touch of three powerful men: a king, a president, and a sales manager from the Men's Wearhouse.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Kelly Anne Conway Prepares For Her Interview on MSNBC

Hey! I said I wanted Voss water in my dressing room! Whats this Poland Spring crap?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

News From Tomorrow!


By S.Z.

8:00 a.m. New York Times reports that the President has shot a Democratic senator.

8:45 a.m. The White House Press Spokesman, Sean Spicer, tells reporters that nobody was shot, that the Senator just cut himself shaving, from what Spicer was told.

10:15 a.m. The new FBI Director, James Woods, tells reporters that it wasn't a senator whom the President shot, it was an evil alien replicant of the Senator.

1:00 p.m. Democrats call for the President to be investigated for violations of the Senate rules regarding decorum.

2:30 p.m. The President tweets that as President, he is allowed to murder anybody he wants to, so he murdered a Senator, and what you gonna do about it?

3:00 After being mobbed by reporters asking about the President's murderous rampage, Sean Spicer hides under a parked car and refuses to come out.

5:30 p.m. New White House Spokesman Sarah Palin shoots the entire press pool from a helicopter.

6:30 p.m. Fox News announces that it is now the only news service for the entire United States. And that America is now great again.

6:41 p.m. President Trump decides over pudding to divorce Melania by nuking New York. Law firm Morgan Lewis sends certified letter asserting this successfully voids their pre-nup. Millions die but pudding reportedly delicious.

7:00 p,m. Sean Hannity airs hard-hitting expose on the debauched girls of Spring Break.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!



By Bill S.

It's Mother's Day once more, and time for us to look at some movie and TV moms who make us grateful for ours (we hope)

WORST MOVIE MOMS

MAY CAMERON (Kate Harrington) Rachel, Rachel (1968). Rachel's mother is so shocked--shocked, I tell you!--to learn that her unmarried 35 year old daughter is --gasp! -- having sex, that she fakes an attack and summons her doctor, and laments, "Why couldn't you just have gotten married, like your sister Stacy?" Um, gee, maybe because she spent the last 14 years of her life sacrificing her own happiness to look after her lazy, ungrateful, judgemental nag of a mother, while resisting the urge not to force-feed the old bat an entire bottle of "sleepy-bye pills"?

OTHER MOTHER (Teri Hatcher) Coraline (2009)
She looks like an exact duplicate of Coraline's real mother, except that she's fun and perfect and tries to create a perfect world for Coraline. Oh, and also she's different in that she has creepy button eyes. Oh, and she's a beldam who wants to keep Coraline prisoner and drain the life out of her.

ILISE CHANDLER (Gretchen Mol) Manchester By the Sea (2016) When we first see her she's a stoner who barely even seems to notice her son Patrick, which explains why her ex-husband Joe winds up getting custody of the kid. Years later, after Joe has died, Patrick contacts her and we discover she's turned into a Stepford mom engaged to marry a passive-aggressive religious fundie douche. It's hard to decide which incarnation is worse, but easy to see why Joe preferred having his emotionally crippled brother get custody of his son.

PAULA (Naomie Harris) Moonlight (2016)
The year's Oscar winner in the Best Picture category, and if there had been a category called "Best Depiction of an Awful Mom", it would have easily won that too. The story follows its lead character, Chiron, through three chapters of his life: child, teen and young adult. Paula is in all three chapters too: neglectful crack whore, neglectful crack whore who shakes down her teenage son for money, and reformed, apologetic ex-junkie. Chiron doesn't accept her apology, with good reason.

WORST TV MOMS:

LUCY CARLYLE (Bijou Phillips) "Raising Hope": Serial killers simply don't make the best role models.

LILLIAN LUTHOR (Brenda Strong) and RHEA, QUEEN OF DAXIM (Teri Hatcher) in "Supergirl". It can be a blow to parents when their children don't live up to their full potential. Lillian, for example, is disappointed that her daughter Lena didn't follow in the footsteps of her brother Lex and become a power-mad psycho. And Rhea is disappointed that her son Mon-El won't return to the people of his home planet to lead them, preferring to stay on Earth with his Kryptonian girlfriend. It's especially rough now that Rhea is a widow (having murdered Mon-El's father). Gosh, what's a mother to do? Well, Rhea emotionally manipulates Lena by presenting herself as the mother figure she longs for, in order to trick Lena into developing a transporter that will allow the people of Daxim to invade Earth, possibly wiping out humanity. (NOTE: As I'm writing this, there are still two more episodes of the season to go, so I don't know what the outcome of this will be. For the characters, I mean; I'm guessing Earth will win.)

KAREN WALKER (Megan Mullally), "Will & Grace". America's most beloved booze-swilling, pill-popping, hedonistic gal pal shouldn't be trusted to raise a house plant, let alone children, although at least with children there's less chance she'll try to roll them up and smoke them (we hope). Karen is stepmom to youngsters Olivia and Mason, though it's easy to forget that since we only saw her stepdaughter once, and never saw her stepson at all. We THOUGHT we did, in a episode where she tries to assure him that, while it may seem like she doesn't pay him any attention to his, she's actually proud of him and gosh darnit, she loves the little guy! It would be a touching moment, if only Jack didn't ruin it by pointing out that the boy she's hugging isn't Mason, but a complete stranger. Whoops.

WORST MOVIE AND TV MOM:

JANINE "SMURF" CODY (played by Jackie Weaver in the 2010 film, and by Ellen Barkin on the TV series) "Animal Kingdom":


There are a lot of differences between the two version of the crooked Cody clan-- to begin with, the movie is set in Melbourne, and the series in California. But one thing is the same in both: the family is ruled over by a ruthless, scary, and disturbingly sexy matriarch. Weaver's Smurf hasn't a twinge of guilt about plotting to have her grandson killed. Barkin's Smurf actually does have her daughter-in-law killed (she's also a little TOO comfortable seeing her sons and grandson naked). Either way, you do not want to get on her bad side, and finding the good one is a challenge.

Happy Mother's Day everyone. Sing us out, Mama Brady!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Ichabod Crane Meets the Guardians of the Galaxy

Season 2, Episode 8

Scott arrives late! Jeff leaves early! There's a game show, a funeral, and a lengthy arbitration process governing who gets screenplay credit for Elektra (2005). In other words, it's the Confuse-A-Cat edition of The Slumgullion this week, as we mourn the passing of Sleepy Hollow, dead at the age of four. But the show gets a deservedly stylish send-off as we chat with M. Raven Metzner (the "M" stands for "Mysterious" we've decided, since he never did tell us what it actually means), co-executive producer, and writer of the season (and series) finale, "Freedom".

Then the New Movie Crew arrives to review Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 by playing "What's My Line?"

It'll make sense when you hear it.

(In the spirit of making sense, we should mention that the interview was conducted before Sleepy Hollow's cancellation was announced, so you're spared our joint crying jag.)


[Cross-posted to The Slumgullion]

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Czech It Out

Our friend Jim Donahue has written a new piece at The Daily Grindhouse, on Czech filmmaker Karel Zeman and The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1958), a unique proto-steam punk adventure that looks like the results of cold fusion between Georges Méliès and Industrial Light and Magic.

If you are of a certain age, you may have seen this black-and-white wonder on TV or at a Saturday matinee, and will be relieved to discover it actually exists, and wasn't just another chick pox-induced fever dream. For younger readers denied a chance to catch the film before it disappeared -- like Butch Wax and cigarette commercials -- in the 1970s, Jim provides a fascinating exegesis, along with a helpful link to a very watchable print.

Click here to read the article.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Caballero and Aliens

Ship of Monsters (La Nave de los Monstruos) 1960


By Hank Parmer

A Sotomayor Production ["It's Supreme-ly Entertaining!"]

One thing you can say about Mexican B-films of the Fifties and early Sixties, they weren't afraid to mix things up: robots and Aztec mummies, vampire women and masked crime-fighting playboy wrestlers. You name it, they could make a genre mashup out of it. Which brings us to today's space oddity, a singing cowboy sci-fi horror-comedy. As far as I'm aware this highly specific sub-genre begins and ends with this one example. Whether the world ever truly needed a singing cowboy sci-fi horror-comedy in which there's no horror and precious little comedy is something I'll leave up to the reader to decide.

Ship of Monsters kicks off with narration, over a montage of miniatures and other special effects lifted from the 1958 Soviet space documentary Road to the Stars:

"Man has learned to release the power of the atom, and with it wants to conquer the universe, but he dreams of leaving the Earth and leaving his seed on a distant planet [Wankers in Spaaaaace!] perhaps with the subconscious desire of starting a new race, one that will remain ignorant of atomic power and warfare. And that is a planet known to us. Let's go, on a characteristically dark night, to Venus."

Oh yes, let's!

"A night on which they are organizing the most important flight in their planetary history."

It certainly seems important, considering there are almost a dozen fetching young women from the chorus line of the Venusian Ice Capades thronging about the tail fins of a rocketship.
 "Okay, girls, line up for the sauna!"

Although, judging from this shot, nights on Venus aren't all that dark. Throughout this sequence, more special effects pilfered from that same Russian educational film, of guys floating around in Michelin Man spacesuits and doing Fifties astronautical-type stuff, are senselessly intercut with the planet-side action.

The Regent and head of the Venusian Council delivers the sorrowful news that the last male on Venus has perished from the "Atomic Scourge". Strange, that ... But why just the men? Did some prankster prey on these guys' insecurities by insinuating lead shielding was for girly-men? Or are the Venusian women made of sterner stuff?

Regardless, the Venusian gals desperately need some new sources of sperm now, to keep their race from dying out. Plus, there's this humongous spider in the Council's bathroom ...

The Regent introduces the commander of this momentous expedition, amply curvaceous blonde Gamma (Ana Bertha Lepe) who vows, "I will bring the most beautiful male specimens to Venus, and the most perfect of them will sire the new generations of Venus." You know, this could make a dynamite pitch for a futuristic new reality show!

The Council has also chosen a companion for Gamma: Beta (Lorena Velazquez -- rowr) a real hot tamale from Ur, the Planet of Shadows. Her superb navigational skills and sly, naughty-girl demeanor will doubtless prove invaluable as they scour the galaxy for hunky aliens.

The Regent wishes them a bon voyage; they board their space ship and prepare to depart. Some more ill-matched classic sci-fi film footage is "borrowed" from 1936's Things to Come. And if, like me, you've seen far too many cheesy SF films, you'll also notice that control room has several leftover props from 1958's craptacular Mexican-American production of From the Earth to the Moon, including that ridiculous horizontal centrifuge with its "acceleration tubes".

While the credits roll, their spaceship lifts off -- okay, so it's more footage from Road to the Stars -- and the girls do a montage tour of the galaxy. Where, except for a brief touch-down on the Planet of Dairy Queen, all the other heavenly bodies they visit look like the Moon. Sometime later, while cruising through the cosmos, their robot pal Torr abruptly informs them the left engine has lost two tons. I'm not certain why this causes Gamma and Beta to exchange pleased smiles. It must be one of those lady things. Like those mysterious products that make them feel fresh and confident.

The kidnapped males get to partying too hearty in the compartment next door and wouldn't you know it, that left engine chooses exactly this moment to act up! So Beta opens the door to their berth, waves her freeze ray at the boys, and hastily closes it again.

The ship is forced to make an emergency landing on where-else-but-Earth, in the state of Chihuahua. Our intrepid manhunters naturally want to take advantage of this opportunity to explore a bit and stretch those superlative gams. So it's time for Gamma and Beta to go traipsing about the wilds of this new planet in a one-piece and black silk lounging pajamas, respectively, and high heels, of course, while Torr repairs their ship.

Now we're introduced to our protagonist: lovable rascal and singing caballero Laureano Gomez. (Played by Mexican actor, humorist, singer/songwriter and screenwriter Eulalio "Lalo" Gonzalez Ramirez, AKA "Piporro".) As he rides into town this fateful night, he sees the rocket pass overhead but mistakes it for a meteor. This, sadly, provides him an excuse to serenade his horse with a tuneful description of his happy-go-lucky ways, and to wish upon that falling star for the perfect woman.

At the cantina, Larry wastes no time in establishing his character as a teller of tall tales, beginning with that classic chestnut about taking out two bandits with a single shot -- by putting his knife blade in front of the pistol and splitting the bullet! Then his story wanders into stranger territory, something about boneless dinosaurs with beautiful plumage, living down by the lumber yard. After this, he segues into a totally whacko narrative about a black-haired, blue-eyed stag who turns into a French bear that he takes on by getting face-to-snout with it and throwing crap in its eyes.

Either this guy's been kicked in the head by his livestock one too many times, or he's sampling the peyote. Or whoever did the subtitles wants to see if we're paying attention.

Now that our "boy who cried wolf" scenario has been set up, Laureano wends his way homeward. He's observed from some bushes near the road by the astro-mamacitas. They're astonished to see a human being, especially one of the hitherto-believed-extinct masculine variety. After a quick discussion, they decide to introduce themselves.

Laureano's horse shies at the sight of them and throws him. Which is understandable, because if you believe this movie, these two lovelies appear to be the sole representatives of their sex in this part of Mexico. It's entirely possible this horse has never seen a woman.

Laureano complains to his lucky star that it screwed up: He only asked for one girl. What's he supposed to do with two? What, indeed ...

To avoid the questions which might be raised by their odd yet alluring choice of evening attire, they go along with Laureano's guess that they're acrobats from the circus. During their conversation, from time to time Gamma puts the caballero on "Pause" for a moment with her scroonch ray, so she can use her portable TV communicator and all-purpose remote control to query Torr about these exotic Earth people and their quaint customs.

(Torr was captured on yet another planet where all the guys got aced by an atomic war, which seems to be a depressingly common occurrence in these parts. But not before they downloaded everything they knew into his computer brain. Thereby turning him into an unbeatable contestant on Galactic Jeopardy, as well as an insufferable know-it-all. Which raises the question why Torr, who seems quite familiar with our Earth civilization, never mentioned to the ladies that there was a planet chock-full of eligible males, right next door to their own. Yeah, yeah, I know: They didn't ask.)

When Laureano starts to get a little too fresh with the ladies, he's scroonched again. They leave Larry standing in the road, immobilized by their ray, until a falling leaf knocks him over.

The gals return to their spaceship. Gamma reports back to the Regent, who's ecstatic to hear they've found a male of their own species. Particularly since the ones they've collected so far, who've been sealed in big, frosted glass display cases, don't appear even remotely human. One of the abductees manages to get loose after she signs off, and he's basically a big hairy spider-tick. He might almost have been a discarded character concept for Sesame Street.

But I guess if you're desperate enough for mating fodder, anything will do. And from spider-tick guy's perspective, even if he is forced to mate with these hairless, repulsively pink and squishy females, he'll probably figure not ending up as a post-coital snack for a lady spider-tick puts him way ahead of the game.

Torr waves his arms and rays the creature back into his case lickety-split.
 Joke ice cubes -- of the Gods!

Too bad he's doubtless lost a big chunk of his value now as a collectible. As a precaution, Gamma decides to have Torr warehouse the creatures in a conveniently-located cave nearby until the repairs on the ship are finished.

Half-convinced he hallucinated his encounter with the mysterious ladies, Laureano returns to his ranch. He has a cow named Lolobrijida, which I imagine is intended to be an arch reference to the outstanding endowments of a certain Italian actress of the era. Given the evident paucity of women in these parts, he might also be a trifle confused about the actual definition of "animal husbandry".

Laureano casually insults Lolobrijida's milk production before he heads indoors. You see, he's employing reverse psychology in their ongoing battle of wits -- a contest in which the outcome is by no means preordained.

Our hero also has a much younger brother, Chuy, who's fast asleep in his bed. Look, the kid's at least eight years old. He'll be just fine looking after the ranch while big brother's boozing it up in town. In a touching piece of business, Laureano lifts the lid of Chuy's chamberpot, wrinkles his nose, and decides it needs emptying.

After Torr moves all the males into the cave, the robot releases the creatures so the commander can have a quick word with them. Gamma informs them that due to engine trouble, there will be a slight delay before they can proceed to Venus. She apologizes for the inconvenience to these "guests" of her planet.

But they angrily demand their freedom, giving the script a chance to formally introduce our merry monster quartet.

First, the scrawny little fella with the huge, naked, pulsating-veined brain and a mouth like a leech: Tawal, the Artist (formerly known as Prince) of Mars. You should check out his cover of "When Doves Cry" -- it's totally awesome! The prince says he'll never forgive the Venusians. Or the costume designer who's made him look like a cheap knock-off of the bug-eyed "Mut-ant" from This Island Earth, by way of Paul Blaisdell's pint-sized invaders in Invasion of the Saucer Men.

Next there's Uk, King of the Fire Planet, whose costume is another rip-off -- I mean, homage, in this case the Cyclops from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. He's kinda big, kinda strong, always speaks in declarative sentences, and doesn't waste much time with articles, prepositions or words of more than two syllables.

Then spider-tick guy, whose name we now learn is "Crassus, of the Red Planet", even though I'm pretty sure the opening credits identified him as "Utirr". He promises to devour his captors' entrails by the light of Utare and its seven moons. (He's the poet of the group.)

Last, but not least, there's the nameless male who tells us his people lost their material forms. (Butterfingers!) Which doesn't explain why he's swanning about now as a human skeleton topped with a dog's skull, much less how he's expected to sire a new generation of Venusians without the necessary material, so to speak, but just go with it, okay?

To make him even more weirdly annoying, this character is unable to make it through more than a couple of sentences at a time without cackling like a UHF channel late-night horror movie host. "Our visage as well as our power are terrible," he warns Gamma and Beta. Though if the ladies let them go, he swears he and his mates won't retaliate.

But Gamma is not to be swayed from her mission. When the frustrated monstruos attack the girls, Torr zaps them back into their cases.

While I can only admire our Venusian's pluck, and dedication to her quest, even if it makes me look shallow and hung up on appearances I have to believe she's either applied some insanely broad criteria in selecting these "most beautiful male specimens" or the pickings in our galaxy must be awfully lean, humanoid-wise. Then again, since the men on her home planet were dying off, it may be she skipped hygiene class that day at Aphrodite High and has only the vaguest of notions how this mating stuff actually works.

Much to Laureano's delight, next morning the girls turn up on his doorstep. They feed him a line about looking for a place to stay until the rest of the circus arrives. He hastens to inform the ladies there's no hotel in town. Pausing only to wipe the drool from his chin, Larry invites them to crash at his pad. It's "Three's Company", Mexican singing cowboy sci-fi style! Alright, four, if you include Chuy, but really, in this story the kid is little more than an afterthought.

Our south-of-the-border horndog's somewhat dismayed, though, when Gamma mentions they have a friend with them who'll take care of everything. Since she is of course speaking Spanish, her use of the masculine-gendered "amigo" prompts Laureano to scowl and sullenly claim he's run out of beds.

But Gamma gives Torr a tinkle on the communicator, anyway. The robot instantly teleports in, popping up right behind Laureano and causing no small amount of allegedly comical consternation to our hero. Gamma explains Torr is the star attraction of their circus. Laureano's laser-like focus on getting into these ladies' pants prevents him from questioning this obvious fabrication.

The robot suddenly raises its arms and advances on little brother, while it emits a weird shrilling, something like a triangle mixing it up with a musical saw. The Venusian commander reassures nervous Laureano that Torr likes children.

"Raw, or cooked?" demands the caballero.

No, she explains, he likes to play with them. (Yeah, well, didn't you ever read "Of Mice and Men"?)

But Torr gently cradles Chuy in his metal arms and croons a wordless electronic lullabye to the terrified-looking child. Laureano snidely observes Torr's acting more like a lady robot. Convinced now that the metal hombre isn't muy macho enough to be a threat to his prospects, Larry gets back down to business, inquiring if the girls are single, married ... or do they [leer] "swing the other way"?

They don't understand the question, and are even more perplexed when he enthuses about this mysterious Earth emotion called "love". So, as is all too predictable, it's time for Laureano to explain it with another of singer/songwriter's Piporro's own compositions.

Laureano somehow got his hands on a jukebox, which will supply the instrumental track for this next musical interlude. The script tries to milk some laughs from Laureano's annoyance at Chuy, because the kid mislaid their coin on a string. So Larry has to grudgingly cough up a 20-centavo piece of his own before we can get to the song. Yep, that's our boy: horny and cheap.

During the course of his tune that ol' green-eyed monster rears its ugly head, when the lady from the shady planet Ur realizes our hero prefers wholesome Gamma. But headstrong Beta scroonches Laureano and for some unfathomable reason calls "Dibs!" on this sweaty weasel, although she graciously offers to let Gamma keep any other Earth guys they might collect. Gamma insists it's up to the Council to decide these things. Uh-huh ... She cuts the argument short and orders Torr to teleport Beta back to the ship.

Gamma un-scroonches Laureano; he immediately begs her to marry him. He even reluctantly admits he's willing to have that robot hanging around the house. (At least he's not likely to spray, or claw up the furniture.) Although mightily tempted by his proposal, Gamma is still bound and determined to carry on with her mission.

Laureano follows her out the door, leaving Torr alone in the house. The robot takes advantage of their absence to molest the juke box. "Oh baby, what lovely bulbs you have!" he pants, as he thrusts himself against the helpless machine's console. (No, I'm not making this up.)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Post-Friday Beast Blogging: The He Said/She Said Edition



MOONDOGGIE: Sometimes I like to let my mind wander, but it doesn't always come back.

SHADOW: You're not woman enough to take my man!