Wednesday, December 31, 2008

RockaFire Explosion (2008)

Ever since I saw the trailer for this bad boy back in July, I had been foaming at the mouth to see it. I remember Showbiz Pizza from when I was a kid, but I was even more excited to get an intimate look at the man behind last year's RockaFire Explosion YouTube Phenomenon. Simply put, about a year or two ago, a man in his mid-30's named Chris Thrash began to upload videos on to YouTube of his in-home animatronic band, Showbiz Pizza's very own RockaFire Explosion. He had programed the band to perform modern radio Rock hits. Although the music wasn't that great, what made these videos so fascinating was the fact that somewhere out there someone had the RockaFire Explosion in their house. The mere thought of that boggled my mind.

Let just say that after watching the documentary, my mind has been boggled 100-fold!!!! Beginning in February, the Alamo Ritz will be holding screenings of the "RockaFire Explosion" documentary and I strongly urge everyone to check it out and learn about the power of dreams and the unwavering strength of the human spirit. Okay, so that's a lot of praise, but seriously, this movie was a lot fun and strangely moving at joke. It's all about the pros and con of nostalgia, and the bizarre places we find happiness.

Here's the trailer that changed my life.

The Rock-afire Explosion Movie Trailer from The Rock-afire Explosion on Vimeo.

Wendy and Lucy (2008)

This was a slow moving train that seemed to really bore the hell out of my friends. It did not bother me as much, but I understand why they didn't like it. It's the "deliberately paced" tale of Wendy (Michelle Williams), a woman on her way to Alaska to work for the Summer when her car breaks down in a small town. Low on cash and options, her struggles to figure out her next move are complicated even more by the mysterious loss of her dog and companion, Lucy. She spends the whole movie wandering around looking for her dog, barely scrapping by, and having strange encounters with the locals. The movie has garnered a lot praise recently and has surprisingly ended up on a lot of year end Top 10's. whatevs, it was o.k.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

35mm Shorts (Passages, Frankie, The Adventure, Love You More) (2008)

This was the one shorts program this year that I actually built up. Whenever you build a movie for a film festival, they never screen it before hand so you never really know if you made mistake until it first screening. It's kind of like working without a net, and it can be pretty stressful watching it for the first time with an audience. Every approaching reel change filled my heart with anxiety, but alas, there were no problems on my end. Anyway there were 4 shorts in this one.

The black and white animated piece entitled "Passages" about a botched delivery of a baby, directed Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre. It was intricate, fascinating, sad, and infuriating.

The film "Frankie" about a 15 year old Irish boy who is preparing himself to be a dad. It was interesting, but not my cup of tea.

For me, one of the 2 standout films of this collection was the curiously hilarious and uncomfortable, "The Adventure," by writer/director Mike Brune. It's about an older couple on a leisurely drive through the woodsy country side that gets interrupted by a bizarre encounter with a pair of mimes. Really Great!

Love You More preview from Matt Cooper on Vimeo.
And finally, there was the other standout short, "Love You More," by Sam Taylor Wood. It's the completely badass tale of two teenager drawn together by the Buzzcocks' single 'Love You More' during the summer of 1978. Right up my alley!

Just for the hell of it, here's "Love You More (mp3)" by the Buzzcocks!

Paper or Plastic? (2008)

This was a surprisingly compelling documentary about a yearly competition that I had no idea even existed. It follows 8 very different grocery store clerks on their individual journeys from various humble beginnings to the National Championship of Grocery Bagging in Las Vegas. It's a nice little gem of a movie. There were times where I just laughed at how ridiculous it all was, but when the grand finale came around I was totally enthralled.

Psycho Sleepover (2008)

This is an ultra low budget Slasher Comedy (a blending of genres that I'm not a big fan of) that was at times fun and entertaining, but that I'm willing to bet disappointed 95% of the audience that saw it during AFF. Here's the way I viewed the movie, yeah it's not a real "film" and yeah it's not "well made," but I'm guarantee if your best friend shot this exact same movie just for fun and never intending on showing it to anyone outside of their living room, you would think it was pretty awesome. Don't get me wrong, it's still bad, but it's not worth beating up because as Ian MacKaye yelled: at least it's "fucking trying, what the fuck have you done?"


The Boogens (1981)

This Taft International production centers around an old mine shaft that runs underneath a small rural town in Colorado. Deep within the shaft live the Boogens, vicious turtle-like creatures with sharp teeth. After the shaft is blown wide open at the onset of the film freeing the little nasties, it's takes the movie a full hour to produce even the first sight of one Boogen. That's a lot of stalling or in this case tension building mixed with a lot of goofy 80's acting. Our heroes in the film are a pair of girls, their boyfriends who are part of the local mining crew, and an incredible Poodle named Tiger. Seriously though, the dog gives the best performance in the entire movie.

Despite not having a lot of action up front, the film manages to avoid being boring and provides a pretty solid payoff.

Among my favorite moments/details in the movie:

--The opening credits with it's silly "Newspaper Exposition."

--The foreman's one simple rule: “Don't Fuck Around”

--The film's main horndog announcing to the group that he was in fact "Hormone Man"

--The phrase "Doggie Electric Chair"

--The music that accompanied the Creepy Old Man, not to mention his amazingly scared uttering of the line: "The Boogens!!"

--The Unicorn Apron.

--The story of the First Girl Paperboy!

--One of our female protagonists singing “She'll be Coming Around the Mountain” in the Shower.

Role Models (2008)

Comic hotshit David Wain has eked out a pretty decent career and amassed a nice following for his work on “The State” and “Stella,” not to mention his film “Wet Hot American Summer,” but he has yet to find box office success. All that's changed now though with “Role Models,” a film that fits nicely alongside the Judd Apatow sect and it pretty much follows the same formula as those films: a man-child is forced to grow up against his will and comedy ensues.

In this case there are two man-children, cynical energy drink promoter, Paul Rudd (who co-wrote this), and his obnoxious co-worker, Sean William Scott. After Rudd loses his girlfriend played by Elizabeth Banks (ot as my gf puts it, the new Rachel McAdams), he finds himself sentenced to community service along with Scott. The two of them have to participate in a mentoring program in which both of them are assigned a problem child. Rudd gets a introverted role-playing nerd named Augie (played by “Superbad'sChristopher Mintz-Plasse), while Scott gets the extroverted foul-mouthed Ronnie (played by Bobb'e J. Thompson). I won't spoil surprise as to who will help who grow up.

Bottom line on this one is that the first two-thirds is okay with enough chuckles to not leave you bored, but there's very few big laughs. The last act of the film though comes together so triumphantly that it pretty much makes the movie worth seeing.

Zero Effect (1998)

Man, this was a totally random AFF screening. I saw this movie at the Gateway in 1998 and I bought it on VHS not too long after. Since then, I have watched it at least 3 times a year, if not more, and shown it to countless friends. Honestly, it's one of my top 20 favorite films of all time. Needless to say, seeing it on the big screen again (for FREE no less) with the director, Jake Kasdan, in person for a Q & A was just what the doctor ordered. First and foremost, I love Bill Pullman's incredibly odd and affective turn as Daryl Zero, the World's Most Private Detective. Ryan O'Neil is great as the complicated and realistic “villian,” Gregory Stark, and Kim Dickens is absolutely perfect as the cool and enigmatic Gloria Sullivan, the only woman to ever crack the exterior of Zero. I love so many aspects of the film, but the one thing that continues to pull back viewing after viewing is the exquisite crafting of the final 15 minutes. As my girlfriend points out regularly, they just don't know how to end movies anymore. I agree, and when one gets it right, it can be the hook that brings you back again and again.

Here is Bill Pullman's rendition of his “song,” “Let's Run Off and Get Married.” It's not quite as good as the scene in the movie, but I still find it amusing.

Let's Run Off and Get Married (mp3) - Bill Pullman as Daryl Zero

Phantom Punch (2008)

So this film, "Phantom Punch," is about the life of boxer Sonny Liston was the second biopic in row for me at the Austin Film Festival along with “Crazy.” The two films finally opened my eyes to an alarming fact; most people live clichéd lives. All of these movies have the same formula: Rise to power, Fall from grace. Why don't they make biopics about truly strange lives? Perhaps a biopic about Andy Milliagan or Timothy Carey? At any rate, Ving Rhames stars as Liston. Apparently he considered this project to be his “baby” and worked on it for over 10 years. Supposedly, back in 1996, Tom Cruise (who co-starred that year with Rhames in “Mission Impossible”) considered producing it. As it ended up, the Meteor Man, Robert Townsend, directed it and he was at this screening for an introduction (a very Zack Carlson one at that). The movie had just as many clichés as “Crazy,” but the story was a little more interesting, although both films have subplots about infidelity and lonely housewives, but this movie had the girl from “Clueless” in it!! Again, this one felt like a made-for-TV production, but it's a decent movie with an inspired performance by Rhames.

My favorite line: “In that ring, I'm a deadly sin.”

How To Be (2008)

So here it is just one day away from the end of the year and I'm 35 reviews behind. Since the purpose of this blog is for me to keep track of how many movies I'm watching a year (and approximately what I thought of them), I figure I have to resort to disparate measures. So I'm going to attempt to bulldoze through these 35 reviews, hoping to keep them within about 5 sentences a piece. If I have a lot to say about something, I'll put as much as I can now, and I might go back later to add stuff. To give you an idea of how far behind I am, I'm starting with my reviews of this year's Austin Film Festival, which took place in October!

Last year at AFF I remember thinking to myself that the nearly-30-year-old-white-male-loser-living-at-home had become by far the most overused lead character in the Indie film industry, and Oliver Irving'sHow To Be” is no exception to that trend. The main character, Art (Robert Patterson), is a depressed and pathetic young man in the mists of a “quarter-life crisis,” who after his girlfriend dumps him (“When we first met, I thought you were deep and mysterious, but it turned out that you were just sad and unhappy”), turns to Canadian self-help guru for help. He pays to have the famous author come to London to observe his daily interactions and be his life coach. The movie started out fun and off beat, but more or less ran out of steam before the third act. I do give it credit for avoiding the urge to sympathize with it's protagonist too much, opting instead to fun of his whinny self-centered overreacting. Also, the actor who plays Art's best friend is absolutely great. My favorite line in the movie comes when Art is lying about his mother's failing health; “She's been painted with the cancer brush.” Overall, the movie was not bad, but it wasn't really that good either.

Here's the trailer.

How To Be Trailer from How To Be on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1981)

So I really enjoyed Music Monday's rare 35mm screening of "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains," it's a true cinema anomaly. The film was produced by Paramount Pictures and shot on location in Pennsylvania, L.A., and Canada in an attempt to cash in on the burgeoning popularity of Punk Rock. It tells a story that is now a familiar cliche, but at the time I'd be willing to bet that it wasn't. Since Punk had been in full swing for sometime though, screenwriter Nancy Dowd managed to articulate the fundamental contradictions of the genre while still staying true to what made the initial movement so interesting.

Young all-female band, the Stains, spawn from a small town, led by Corinne "Third Degree" Burns (16 year old Diane Lane) and also feature a young Laura Dern and Marin Kanter. The trio's sound is simplistic, amateurish, and honest, not unlike the Shaggs. After Corinne gains some unwanted publicity from a local newscast, the band sneaks aboard a tour bus of a cocaine-fueled-band of has-beens called The Metal Corpses, fronted by Lou Corpse (played extremely accurately by Fee Waybill). His performance reminded me a lot of the lead singer of this band.

Once aboard the bus thanks to the driver, a Rastafarian named Lawnboy, the Stains negotiate a opening slot in front of The Looters, a young British Punk band fronted by Billy (played by a young Ray Winstone). The Looters are also made up of Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols, and Paul Simenon of The Clash. The film follows the unlikely rise of the Stains, from rebellious teen runaways to gimmicky Pop act, and the whole thing is fueled by the outrageous antics of Corinne. Along the way, her jaded outlook on life is challenged in the ways of love and success.

The movie is interesting for many reasons. For starters, it feels like a made-for-tv production (very "after school special"), but at the same time, it has slightly grimy edges to it involving Corinne's transparent clothing and her relationship with Billy. The film has a strange and awkward honesty to it that's not unlike the Stains themselves, but then the natural and obvious ending to the film is replaced by a tacked on "happy" ending that COMPLETELY UNDERMINES THAT HONESTY, NOT TO MENTION THE ENTIRE REST OF THE FILM. The ending was changed after test audience found it to be unsatisfactory. It's interesting though because they didn't omit the original ending, they just added to it, so if you watch on home video, take my advice and stop the dvd after the bus drives away.

So yeah here's the soundtrack to the movie:

Ladies and Gentlemen....The Fabulous Stains (Original Soundtrack)

1. All Washed Up [Rock] - Lawn Boy
2. Professionals - The Looters
3. Roadmap Of My Tears - The Metal Corpses
4. La La La - The Looters
5. Curfew - Lawn Boy
6. Waste Of Time - The Stains
7. All Washed Up [Reggae] - Lawn Boy
8. Professionals - The Stains
9. Don't Blow It All Away - The Looters
10. Conned Again - The Looters
11. Professionals [Video Version] - The Fabulous Stains

Plus, Here's an 7" and a couple other tracks by Black Randy and the Metrosquad who make small appearance in the film.

Black Randy the Metrosquad - Idi Amin 7"
"I Slept in an Arcade" (mp3)
"Give it up or Turn it Loose" (mp3)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Redneck (1973)

Redneck" was not the Southern-set rural Hicksploitation flick that I thought it was going to be, but rather an Italian-made crime-gone-awry film starring Franco Nero and Telly Savalas as Mosquito and Memphis respectively. The two of them play jewel store robbers who in process of getting away (via an outrageously crazy car chase sequence) accidentally kidnap a young boy named Lennox (Mark Lester of “Oliver” fame). Lennox is an effeminate lad who is in disparate need of a father figure, so much so that he projects that need onto Mosquito. Nero's performance is one of confusion, repressed anger, and despair.

Telly's Memphis on the other hand is in a different world entirely; he's a hayseed chewing, spiritual singing caricature that has more in common with Robert Downey Jr's performance in “Tropic Thunder” than with any 'redneck' I've ever met. He shoots a kid, assaults a prostitute, and kills a German family in the middle of their picnic, and all the while hysterically maintains his innocence to God, claiming repeatedly that it wasn't his fault, and that they made him do it.

By the end of the film Franco Nero is completely fucked up, shivering in the snow, covered in filth and blood, and forced to wear a woman's Tiger-skin jacket. Lennox and him are reduced to dragging a wounded Memphis through the woods and across the snow in an attempt to reach the border. All the while, Memphis suffers near-death hysteria as his crotch is covered in blood, and the police zero in on them. This movie is so crazy that the final gun battle involves a person being shot by bullet that causes them to perform a cartwheel before quietly exiting this world.

Overall, "Redneck" is a surprisingly good Thriller that's really worth checking out for Savalas' bizarro performance.

Religulous (2008)

I'm a pretty big fan of Bill Maher's HBO panel show, Real Time, and I genuinely think he is a funny and insightful guy, but as a “documentary” (it's really propaganda), “Religulous” is fairly pointless. I would be surprised if anyone with an even moderately different opinion than Maher's walked away from the theater feeling their views were challenged in any way. Maher's condescending mockery will never change the minds of the people whose beliefs are the butt of his jokes. In other words, the film basically preaches to his choir, and because of that, fails as a persuasive piece. It's doesn't help that the film tacks on a ridiculous doomsday montage in the finally 5 minutes thats supposed to scare us into thinking rationally (wrap your mind around that logic).

The most interesting aspect of the film, I thought, was the interviews that Maher conducts with his mother and sister (I believe) about their upbringing. It's pretty much the only time in the movie that Maher doesn't come off as an intellectual schoolyard bully.

All this considered, I didn't hate “Religulous” because, well, I'm one of the choir, but I recognize that the film really serves no purpose.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Splatter Farm (1987)

It was a little over a year ago now that Lars upped the ante on the Weird Wednesday & Terror Thursday series by unleashing “Black Devil Doll from Hell” on to an unsuspecting audience. I say that because I remember thinking after that experience that the gateway of possibilities had officially been opened. There was no longer an unwritten rule that maintained that only “legitimate” movies would be screened. Weekly audiences were now no longer safe from the results of full-blown incompetent amateurs shooting movies on VHS camcorders and editing them with VCR's. The door was opened and homemade movies found an audience that they were never meant to find, a theater going audience.

The “Black Devil Doll” crowd had their brains melted that night by the sheer uncomfortableness of it all. It was like the entire theater was being forced to watch their parents have sex while listening to brutally loud Casio tones. Though only a mere 70 minutes long, the film seemed to make time grind to a slow-motion halt with every thrust and smoky exhale from that dreaded Devil Doll. To put it another way, it was legitimately awesome.

This past January, Zack over at Terror Thursday followed up the triumphant “Devil Doll” screening with Chester Turner's second and final film, “Tales from the Quadead Zone.” Again shot on VHS, it proved to be an even more odd experience than “Devil Doll,” because it allowed the objective audience member to actually pinpoint the improvements Turner made as a filmmaker. While still completely amateurish, you could see how in it's own way, it was a vastly different level of movie-making.

All of this brings us to the recent Terror Thursday presentation of “Splatter Farm.” The 1987 shock-a-thon is truly a testament to the human spirit, of both the filmmaker's and the audience. Two twin teenage brothers, Mark and John Polina (for whom this screening was a memorial for), play Alan and Joseph. When we meet the two brothers, they are on the way to their Aunt Lacey's (Marion Costly in a performance for the ages) farm for the Summer.

When they arrive, they are greeted by Aunt Lacey and her handy man/son, Jeremy (Todd Smith giving arguably the best performance in the movie). When not working around the farm, Jeremy kills people (and horses) and uses their corpses for sex. That's just the beginning of what "Splatter Farm" has in store those brave enough to press "play."

Alan and Joseph are pretty slow when it comes to figuring out that there's something really wrong with life on the farm, but I guess that's how the plot is perpetuated. There's an impressive visual effect (seriously) about 25-30 minute into the movie in which one of the twins suffers horrendously while trying to take a dump. Seriously, really really gross.

It's not until lonely Aunt Lacey drugs and rapes one of the boys and the other one finds some human remains in the woods that the full scope of what Jeremy's been up to is revealed, but by that time it's too late for everyone including the audience; the grand finale begins.

The ending of this movie is pretty awe-inspiring. There is "the line" and there is "stepping over the line," and then there's "erasing the line, but not before fistin' it and rubbing shit all over it's face." That's pretty much what "Splatter Farm" does, and then some. It is truly a barometer of good taste, but not in the way you would think.

A lot of the time when I watch old exploitation films I try to imagine what the people outside the frame look like. I sometimes think about the time period that film was made and what the people who made it were really like. "Splatter Farm" is all of the things that I've said, but it is also a time capsule. The people in it weren't designed to look like they lived in 1987, they lived in 1987! This is where they lived and this was how they spent their time. They were friends and family, and in a strange way, "Splatter Farm" is the coolest home movie a family could have.

Anguish (1987) with Zelda Rubenstein LIVE!!!!


I seriously don't know where to begin with this Terror Thursday classic. It was the second part of a double-feature of Zelda Rubenstein movies, the first part being "Teen Witch." I was at the "Teen Witch" screening, but since I fell asleep during it, I chose not to review it.

I had no idea what "Anguish" was about when I walked into the theater that night, and I'm so glad that I got to experience it completely cold. I'm even more pleased though that I got to view it in pretty much the best possible manner that I can think of, with maybe one exception that I won't go into right now.

Having an enthusiastic sold-out crowd fawning over the film's diminutive star, a Horror cinema legend, and one of the most adorable creatures to ever walk the earth, Zelda Rubinstein, only amplified the surrealism of not only the film, but the night as well. When Terror Thursday host, Zack Carlson, explained to the crowd that Zelda and him had taken to calling each other Big Z and Little Z, and then from somewhere in the audience Zelda's squeaky voice eked out "I love you Big Z," my heart exploded from unrivaled sweetness.

The film, made by Spanish director, Bigas Luna, opens with a scene of uncomfortable despair as John (Michael Lerner), the meek optometrist and son of Alice (Rubinstein), tries frantically to retrieve his pet bird from behind a standing closet. As we watch the bird flap it wings, wedged between the furniture and the wall, we sense that something awful is about to happen. The feeling of entrapment that the bird experiences is merely foreshadowing of what other characters in the film will feel later on, and maybe even some of the audience members in our theater.

John is a perpetually nervous and bad optometrist. He is also a severe momma's boy. When he suffers a humiliation at work from a customer that threatens to cost him his job, his "extra perceptive" mother hypnotizes him to enact revenge on the customer. His payback is brutal and stomach-churning. When it's all said and done is when the real fun begins. To say anymore would ruin the fun. I know the film has been available for 20 years, but there's got to be some magic left in the world, so I will end my synopisis here.

"Anguish" is really quite remarkable; it's a Slasher film, a Dark Comedy, a Thriller, and above all else, a movie-going-experience. In this age of home theaters and creatively lazy multiplexes, it difficult to go to movies and have significantly different experiences from week to week. Rarely does a movie offer something that's completely different from everything else, and although the central devise in "Anguish" has been reused into cliche, it's arguable that it's never been done as well as it is here. At one point in the film, the audience simultaneously marveled at a solitary shot, so simple, yet so completely uncommon, that we had no choice, but to laugh with awe.

Sometimes people will tell you a joke that they think is really clever even if it's not. "Anguish" is so clever that you never suspect that you are being told the joke.

On a side note, the most fascinating piece of information that Zelda offered about this gem was that it was that the entire production crew was made up of 5 people and that it was the best production that she had ever been apart of.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tarzana, the Wild Girl (1969)

Rich Englishmen, Sir Donovan, had long believed his daughter had perished in a plane crash in Africa along with his wife and family, but when strange reports arrive over 15 years later of a local tribe crowning a white woman their queen (known as Tarzana), he sends a rescue expedition to Nairobi on the slim chance his daughter survived.

This Italian production finds Safari expect, Glen Shipper (resembling an older, taller Aaron Eckhart) accompanying Sir Donovan's representatives, Doris (Franca Polesello), and the sinister Groder (Franco Ressel, resembling a younger, thinner, Alan Rickman) in search of Tarzana.

They bring along a team of helpers including the tribal dancer/trail-leader, Kamala, grizzled hunter, Lars, lecherous villain, Fred, and Shipper's driver who is a fat black man with a machete, who dresses exactly like Gilligan from “Gilligan's Island.” Along the way, the expedition wanders through a cave that looks strangely like the same one from “The Boogens.” They also find the 15 year old plane wreckage and they ward off stock footage of a lion that magically turns into a “dead” stuffed lion on a sound-stage.

The real star of the film is Tarzana (Femi Benussi) herself, or more specifically, Tarzana's breasts. Much of the film consists of Tarzana walking around completely topless, wearing nothing but a jungle g-string, while posing on a sound-stage with an elephant, a baby lion (or was it a tiger?), and a particularly human-sounding monkey. Every once in a while she pauses to let out a bellowing toneless yell to summon various animals to her aide. To help give you an idea of how obsessed the movie is with Tarzana's breasts, in the climatic sequence at the end where Doris is appealing to Tarzana to come with her and Glen, she actually appeals to Tarzana's breasts by removing her own shirt and comparing her breasts to Tarzana's: "Look, we're the same.

That's pretty much everything you need to know about "Tarzana, the Wild Girl," an unremarkable movie that was a sometimes boring, yet ultimately enjoyable Weird Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Shape of Things to Come (1979)

So I can safely say that this unfaithful H.G. Wells adaptation was a pretty unmemorable Weird Wednesday, especially considering that it screened a mere month ago, and sitting here now, I'm struggling to recall what I thought about it. I guess what I'm saying is bear with me on this one.

The plot, as provided by goes something like this:

Planet Earth is a devastated wasteland, and what's left of humanity has colonized the Moon in domed cities. Humanity's continued survival depends on an anti-radiation drug only available on planet Delta Three, which has been taken over by Omus (Jack Palance), a brilliant but mad mechanic who places no value on human life. Omus wants to come to the Moon to rule and intends to attack it by ramming robot-controlled spaceships into the domes. Dr. John Caball, his son Jason, Jason's friend, Kim, and a robot named Sparks embark on Caball's space battlecruiser on an unauthorized mission to Delta Three to stop Omus.

Now let me just say that reading this synopsis now, I guess I can see how a plot could be strung together by the scenes I saw, but at the time (perhaps it was my tired mental state, but I never fell asleep once during this one) I swear my mind was not processing a plot, but merely absorbing scene after scene.

That being said, the most painful problems with the film are obvious from the get-go; the lumbering pace, the low production value (for a Sci-Fi film at least), and a completely flat script are among the film's worst crimes. The absolute worst though, without a doubt, is the complete under-use of the incomparable Jack Palance. He shows up briefly early on and you're primed for some damn fine scene-chewing, and then there's nothing for an hour or so. He shows up in the last 25 minutes or so to unload some pure cinematic insanity, but it's too little, too late.

It wasn't a total loss though, there were some pretty laughable moments here and there, among my favorites:

--Jack Palance giant floating/rotating holographic head. His incredible overacting, arm gesturing, and his delivery of the line: “Where's your humanism now doctor!?!” You can also tell how evil he is by how many times he laughs out of pure amazement and delight with what he's doing.

--The hallucinogenic space travel sequence (something that seems to be a standard in 70's Sci-Fi films) that's capped with the line: “What the Hell was that about?”

--The ridiculous "robots." Sparks actually seems more human than most of the humans in the film.

--The crazy space-gladiator weapons.

--There's a group of kids in the movie that are supposed to be mutants, or fallout victims, or orphans or something. I don't know, but half of them have on awful blond wigs. The other half have either naturally blond hair or just naturally dark hair. I'm pretty sure that the idea here was that they would all have blond wigs, but the filmmakers didn't have enough to go around so some ended up with them and some didn't. The only reason I think this is because one of the kids wearing a blond wig was Asian.

To be fair to this one, I know there were a lot of other funny bits, but I just can't remember them. I leave you with this, did you know that Jack Palance's birth name was Volodymir Ivanovich Palahniuk? Me neither.

"The Shape of Things to Come" screened 10/8/08 at the midnight and was presented by Weird Wednesday.