Weird,Wild Stuff: Brainiac (1961)

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Take the creeping dread of Gothic horror and Universal monsters…Fold in the lurid chiaroscuro of film noir…Add a dash of the fever dream logic found in German Expressionism and Surrealism…Garnish with the loopy pseudoscience and chintzy special effects of B-Sci Fi…Bring it all to a roiling boil in a witch’s cauldron…and what you brew up  still wouldn’t be as mindboggling as Brainiac, the classic Mexican flick that caused drive-in and grindhouse patrons, readers of Famous Monsters Of Filmland and bleary-eyed viewers of Zacherley to collectively say “What the fuck?!

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I was somewhat prepared, having read about it in my Bible, The Psychotronic Encyclopedia Of Film…and I was still thoroughly scoobified. Do yourself a favor and let Brainiac slip you the tongue…

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Return Of The Big Bad Mofos from Toho: King Kong VS. Godzilla

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Just rewatched King Kong VS. Godzilla for the first time in decades…and man, it was even more fun this time…and funny! Intentionally so! You could tell they were having fun making this one…It’s just balls-to-the wall silliness from frame one. Of course the fight scene is funny as hell…but so are the expressions on Kong’s face. He manages to do alot of emoting through that gorilla suit head. The scenes where he gets stoned on Soma berries are priceless gimme-ribs-of-steel moments…

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So much of the stuff we love when we’re young, upon revisiting, we think “What the hell was I thinking?” I’m glad that these movies still hold a sense of wonder and joy…

King Of The Indies

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When you think of B/exploitation films, certain words may not immediately leap to mind, such as: quality, production value, acting talent, great storylines, etc… but all these words and more describe the films produced and/or directed by Roger Corman…and all for a budget less than what the majors probably spend on catering. Corman began as a hired gun for American International Pictures, the heavyweight champ of B-movies from the 50’s to the early 70’s, cranking out classics like X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes, Not Of This Earth, A Bucket Of Blood, Little Shop Of Horrors…before striking out on his own to form New World Pictures, which brought us Death Race 2000, Caged Heat and Piranha…

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These films all feature great (usually intentional) humor, intelligence, and thought-provoking morals and political themes. What other exploitation studio could have discovered and trained the likes of Johnathan Demme, Joe Dante, John Sayles, Paul Bartel, Francis Ford Coppolla and Martin Scorsese? Independent films went legit and respectable in the 90’s, winning Oscars…but most of these “indie” companies were actually tax-shelter projects funded by major studios. (Miramax was owned by Disney, fercrissakes.) Hollywood these days is virtually creatively bankrupt, stuck in a rut of remaking their classics and rebooting successful franchises…and, most odiously, making high-budget remakes of cult classic B-movies. All the while, under the radar, true independents like Corman keep restoring my faith in cinema…

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Big Bad Mofos From Toho: Mothra Vs Godzilla

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When I was a kid, Godzilla (and other Toho movies) played on t.v. regularly and I loved every one of ’em. I can remember making clay models of ‘Zilla and Mothra in school. I haven’t seen these movies in decades, so I decided to revisit one of my faves, Mothra Vs. GodzillaSure, when you’re a kid you don’t so much notice the chintzy special effects (obvious miniature model sets, toy tanks.) which become glaringly apparent when you’re older…but that only adds to the charms of these films, as does the adorable pop singing duo “The Peanuts” (twins Emi and Yumi Ito) as Mothra’s teensy emissaries.

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And there’s just something about every time ‘Zilla goes to stompin’ and whompin’, honkin’ out that radioactive breath and that weird keening roar (achieved by playing an upright bass with a leather glove, then electronically futzing with the pitch, fyi.) that takes you right back to being 8 years old on a Saturday morning, all hopped up on Monster Cereal and cartoons. ‘Zilla and Mothra’s dust-up in this one is intense, hilarious, rollicking and awesome…one of the top Toho throwdowns of all time. (‘Zilla is still a cranky bastard in this one, not the heroic, almost Muppet-cuddly lug he became in the 70’s.) It definitely left me craving more kaiju fu

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A Rebellion Of Human Garbage

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“You’re right. I am a rotten bastard. I admit it. I got alotta hate inside. But I’ll tell ya somethin’. Even though I got alotta hate inside, I got some friends who ain’t got hate inside. They’re filled with nuthin’ but love. Their only crime is growin’ their hair long, smokin’ a little grass, gettin’ high, lookin’ up at the stars at night. Writin’ poetry in the sand. And whaddya do? You bust down their doors, man. Dumbass cop. You bust down their doors and you bust on their heads. You put ’em behind bars. And you know somethin’ funny? They forgive you. I don’t.” – Anchor

Like the rest of Al Adamson’s filmography, Satan’s Sadists is a strange mutant hybrid animal of a movie. It plays like a cross between The Wild Angels and The Searchers. But unlike, say, Horror Of The Blood Monsters, it’s not a paste-up job mixing pre-existing footage with newly shot material and stock footage. It’s a single, simple, unrelenting gut-punch of a story. Russ Tamblyn plays Anchor, leader of the Satans biker gang, a band of damaged, angry misfits who terrorize and brutalize everyone who crosses their path on a hellbent quest for damnation. Anchor is the kinda guy who thinks he’s Brando in The Wild One but is more like Alex in A Clockwork Orange. Still, villains are heroes on their side of the story. And as someone once said: “The one truly terrifying thing in this world is that every man has his reasons.”…

“What I See Is Beyond Your Dreaming…”

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Man…the last week has been one of those bummer, lose-two-or-three-of-your-idols weeks. Karen Black…George Duke…and now Haji. Strangely enough I just happened to be watching Ilsa: Harem Keeper Of The Oil Sheiks, in which she has a great part as a would-be Mata Hari, the day that she died. I loved her so much in Russ Meyer’s movies…she personified the word “exotic”…in looks, manner, accent (I especially loved her Chico-Marxist version of an Italian accent)…and she had this irrepressible, powerful spirit that shone whether in supporting or lead roles (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Motorpsycho) or cameos (Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, Good Morning And Goodbye). 

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Russ had a keen eye for casting awesome, almost superheroic ladies…and with Haji, he found someone especially special…I’ll never forget her.

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Let’s Get Ready To Rumble!

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Dracula V.S. Frankenstein, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways! First off, any time you’ve got a mad scientist setting up shop in an amusement park you know you’re in for a treat. And before you can say “scooby-dooby-doo” the good Dr. (J. Carrol Naish) is laying down a diabolical plan so convoluted and illogical it would make Ed Wood Jr. scratch his head. You’ve got Lon Chaney Jr. giving his all as the Fritz/Igor type henchman Groton.

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You’ve got Zandor Vorkov as a Kabuki-faced Dracula speaking in a hypnotic monotone.

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You’ve got Regina Carrol doing what she does best…displaying bodacious cleavage and freaking out on acid. You’ve got Angelo “Gooble Gobble” Rossitto getting less respect than Rodney Dangerfield. You’ve got Russ Tamblyn putting one more nail in the coffin of his family-friendly image by portraying yet another scumbag biker. And you’ve got the incredible (but not two-headed this time) 7’4″ John Bloom as Frankie. I think they were kinda going for a cross between the classic Karloff look and maybe the Christopher Lee versions with his makeup,but he ended up looking like, well…this:

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ZOINKS! And not to give too much of the climactic battle away, but fans of Monty Python And The Holy Grail  will especially dig it. Seriously, folks…this flick has got to be seen to be disbelieved…

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