DECEMBER 6 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : FLESH GORDON
A mysterious affliction has changed the face of Planet Earth: an irresistable effect from outer space known as the "Sex Ray" for its powers over the inhabitants. Orgies are breaking out across the globe, but respected scientist Professor Gordon (John Hoyt) calls a press conference to announce that not everyone is affected and his son, Flesh Gordon (Jason Williams), is on his way back from an ice hockey tournament in Tibet to sort things out. Unfortunately Flesh's flight is hit by the ray, leaving no one at the controls - is his adventure over before it has begun?
Flesh Gordon reputedly started life as a hardcore porn spoof of Flash Gordon, but somewhere along the way the hardcore scenes were lost: opinions differ about where exactly they went, but although the end result was fairly explicit, there didn't appear to be anything unsimulated in it. No matter, because the sexual side wasn't the film's strongest point anyway, where it really succeeded was in its surprisingly effective visuals. Scripted by co-director Michael Benveniste, the project was pretty faithful to its original, and had some real craftsmen working behind the camera.
In front of the camera, maybe not so much, but the special effects men included a few who would work on Star Wars such as Rick Baker and Dennis Muren, and stop motion animation by expert Jim Danforth (with his name spelled backwards in the credits). As far as the tone went, smut ruled the day, with Dale Ardor instead of Dale Arden, or Dr Flexi Jerkoff instead of Dr Alexis Zarkov (it's amusing to hear Flesh continually shouting "Jerkoff!" without any trace of malice).
It's interesting to compare this version of Flash Gordon with the official one that arrived about six years later, as they both share a distinct sense of high camp, although in this one the kinkiness is less sublimated. The plotting is very similar, prompting one to muse over whether the filmmakers of 1980 caught their less respectable little brother. Flesh bails out of the crashing plane with a parachute and Dale (Suzanne Fields, who spends most of her time having her clothes ripped off) wind up at the remote home of Jerkoff (Joseph Hudgins), who just happens to be building a space rocket (guess what it's shaped like).
The trio make their way across the gulf of space to the origin of the sex ray, the planet Porno, and the lair of Emperor Wang (William Dennis Hunt) who has put this plan into action, though he seems at a loss to explain why. Wang takes a liking to Dale and plans to make her his bride, much to her horror, but before he can be destroyed Flesh is spirited away by Amora, Queen of Magic, who has fallen for our hero. Wang shoots down her spacecraft, and Flesh escapes to save his friends and indeed the day. Against the odds, this effort does raise a few laughs, mainly due to good lines, a sense of the ridiculous and amateurish but somehow appropriate playing from the cast, and those effects are a real bonus. Followed by a sequel, but not the one which is trumpeted at the end of this film. Music by Ralph Ferraro.
DECEMBER 6 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : FLESH GORDON
First of all, don't let anybody, especially me, fool you: as a decade, the 60's kinda sucked. For every good thing you could name that came from that time period, I can supply you with two bad ones; and chances are, most of the good things you could come up with are related to music or art, in some way. Like any period consumed with turmoil and upheaval, the 60's produced some great art.
Why am I going on about the 60's? Mainly to get us to the 70's - if the 60's was a long, hard political work-week, the 70's were the beer-keg fueled self-expressive weekend. It was a goofy damn decade, full of disco, sex and drugs. And it was the only period in which an X-rated parody of the Flash Gordon story could possibly get made.
Comparatively big-budget productions in the adult film trade were common at that time. Titles like The Erotic Adventures of Zorro and The Long, Swift Sword of Siegfried tried to add some epic flair to the carnal goings-on. And in those pre-home video days, adult films were actually shot on film, with mainstream-quality trailers trumpeting their arrival at the local grindhouse. So somewhere in there, somebody had the idea to use a Flash spoof as a vehicle; what's insured it a more durable place in film history than other films of this type is the fact that they decided to do a good job of it.
First, slumming character actor John Hoyt (as Professor Gordon) informs us that the Earth is, in scientific terms, "in big trouble". The reason for this: a mysterious ray from outer space is tripping off the mating circuitry of everyone exposed to it; there is humping in the streets, and civilization (as we know it) is bump-and-grinding to a halt. Fortunately, Gordon's son, Flesh (Jason Williams), is returning from a hockey championship, and he will help us all get to the bottom of this (God only knows why that should be, but there you are).
Flesh is indeed en route on a plane, where he meets the lovely Dale Ardor (Cindy Hopkins). Immediately after that, the plane flies through the Sex Ray, prompting an onboard orgy, which the pilots gleefully join. Unaffected by the Ray (he's the hero, after all), Flesh attempts to land the plane, but the controls break off in his hands. Desperately, he and Dale parachute from the afflicted aircraft.
And land, conveniently enough, near the lab of a bearded madman who is convinced that they have arrived to steal his "Stratos-ship". Flesh recognizes him as unorthodox genius and old family The Oscar Meyer Weinermobile...of the FUTURE!friend Dr. Flexi Jerkoff (Joseph Hudgins). Jerkoff recognizes the now-grown-up Flesh, and recruits him (and Dale) on his mission to stop the Sex Ray. Boarding the Stratos-ship (which, of course, looks like an erect penis), the three blast off into....adventure! Or something like.
After a mandatory encounter with the Sex Ray, our three heroes discover themselves over the planet Porno, where they are shot down by the minions of emperor Wang the Perverted (William Hunt). The three escape into a cave, where they are summarily attacked by wild Penisauruses, and are saved only by the timely arrival of Wang's soldiers and their ray guns. ("Capture them and tie them up!" "I dibs the girl!" "I get the blonde giant!" "And that leaves the bearded one for me." lustfully grins the captain of the guards).
Well, save may be the wrong word. Wang sends Jerkoff to his Labs, and announces he will wed Dale because "she is exquisite!" Flesh is about to be executed when Amoura, Queen of Darkness, arrives to claim him. "Only if he survives the torture I decree!" lisps Wang, throwing Flesh into a pit filled with Savage Hermaphrodites. Flesh, of course, beats 'em all up, then falls to the floor, exhausted. Amoura makes off with him, much to the wrath of Wang, who never plays by the rules anyway.
As Wang's forces search for them, Amoura is on her ship, shall we say, consummating her "GET them, you DILDO!!!"relationship with Flesh. A very brief relationship, as Wang's warship blows them out of the sky. Only Flesh survives, and is amazed to run into Jerkoff, who has escaped Wang's clutches. Then they are both amazed when the dead Amoura appears to them in a Cheap Special Effect, and bequeaths to them her Power Pasties, that they may have the power to fight Wang.
Meanwhile, Wang, resplendent in a wedding gown, is preparing to marry the unwilling Dale. The ceremony is cut short by one of the bridesmaids spiriting Dale away via a secret passageway, just as Flesh and Jerkoff burst into the room. She has been kidnapped by the Secret Lesbian Underground, "No, I do NOT want a copy of The Watchtower!"led by the Dyke Queen, played by Candy Samples (who wears a patch over both her right eye and right breast). Dale is about to be Initiated Into Their Ways when she is rescued by Jerkoff and Flesh, but NOT before the Lesbians summon their guardian, who is, for some reason, a metallic beetle man (?). It overpowers Flesh, who would surely be doomed if not for the intervention of the Robin Hood-esque and quite gay Prince Precious of the Forest People, and rightful ruler of Porno (Mycle Brandy).
Hiding in the idyllic (and extremely wanton) Forest Kingdom, Jerkoff creates a weapon which, using the Power Pasties as a battery, is powerful enough to completely destroy the Sex Ray. Unfortunately, one of Precious' lackeys is a turncoat who steals one of the pasties and sabotages their ship, with only Flesh, Dale, Jerkoff and Precious surviving the resulting crash. Doggedly, they troop into Castle Wang, only to be trapped in a giant toilet called the Royal Flush.
Kennedys....of the FUTURE!!!Wang's celebration (a bunnyhop line comprised of naked people) is a bit premature, as our heroes simply swim through the sewer system to another part of the castle, and (once again) charge into Wang's throne room. Wang, in return, activates his Rapist Robots - wonderfully constructed Old Bad Movie tin men with strategically-placed drills. Flesh manages to turn the robots on their master, however, and Wang must utilize the escape hatch behind his throne, vowing to blow up the Earth.
First, though, he has to take care of business, which he does by calling upon a huge idol to come to life and destroy the heathens. Harryhausen-like, the idol animates, intoning in a rather soothing voice, "Oh, boy.... I just love murder." The monster chases our plucky quartet, but manages to grab Dale "My... what a charming miniature."(being a girl, she has to trip), and climbs up a nearby tower ("The Tower of Murder... that's where I hang out.") Flesh and crew hijack one of Wang's ships, while Jerkoff feverishly rewires the recovered Power Pastie into his gun. Meantime, Dale and the Idol re-create the scene in King Kong where Kong tears off Fay Wray's clothes (well come on... it's X-rated, for crying out loud!). Jerkoff manages to shoot the Idol in the butt, provoking it into dropping Dale and attempting to catch the strafing aircraft... but it only manages to clumsily trip and fall upon Wang and his Sex Ray, wiping all three out in a huge explosion. The Earth is saved, hoorah. The end.
You see, like the serial adventures that were its primary inspiration, Flesh Gordon's story is just One Damned Thing After Another. In fact, I had considered writing the plot summary in one long sentence without punctuation, meant to be read in one breath. But heck, I like you guys, so I changed my mind.
First, let's ignore the acting, okay? Okay.
DECEMBER 6 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : CEMETERY MAN
For a while now, I have heard about "Cemetery Man" (as Dellamorte Dellamore) but was never really able to get my hands on it. I had no clue that when Anchor Bay sent a copy my way, that it Cemetery Man, was in fact the same film, until I did my research. Well after years of letting this film pass me by, I must say that it was a real treat and was in a weird way kind of worth the wait. I say that, because the film is very good, however it ends on a very weird note, that kind of leaves the viewer wondering what just happened.
In a l aspects of filmmaking, Cemetery Man is a gem, it has brilliant shots, great dark scenery and an array of wacky and gory effects. Did I mention that it has one hell of a plot as well? Well it does. And that's what kept my interest. Normally with a film as odd as this one, my attention span sometimes can't handle it. However, this film is just as much of a black comedy, as it is a horror film.
The plot takes place in a graveyard, where it seems no matter who you bury there, the dead always come back to life. Francesco Dellamorte, the cemetery grounds keeper of sorts, lives in the graveyard. His main responsibility is to not only make sure the place is run professional, but rather kill the dead when they decide to come back to life. However after meeting a women in the graveyard whom is grieving her husbands death, Francesco fall in love with her and pursues her, she then falls in love with him, but is then killed during a zombie attack. From that point in the plot the film starts to get weird, as over the coarse of the film new women show up that look just like this chick. There is also a grave digger who falls in love with the Mayors dead daughter's head. Yes I said head. From there the story spirals into one hell of a ride, filled with death, love and a lot of dark humor.
The acting is very, very good in this film, Rupert Everett is great in this film, and to be honest, in my opinion I think it's his best film to date. Ok well that he appears in at least. Unless your a big Inspector Gadget fan. However one must not pass up the performance given by François Hadji-Lazaro as Gnaghi. What a performance that reminded me a lot of Karloff's Frankenstein. The whole cast of this film is for the most part outstanding, and is one of the main reasons for this films successfulness.
In terms of effects, we get so good old 1990's based CGI and make-up effects. I mean there not bad, but compared to today's CGI standards as it gets better, you can't compare. Still though the effects hold there own.
Overall, I really liked this film. The dark humor along with the gory love story, toped off with a few zombies. How can it go wrong. We do get an odd an strange ending however which leave the film open to interpretation, I for one have my theories. But while doing my research on this film, and reading though multiple reviews and posts, it's pretty much up to the viewer. So check out Cemetery Man, have a good time watching it and draw your own conclusion when your done watching it.
- Horror Bob