Friday, March 25, 2016

049. Abraxas: Guardian of the Universe and 050. R.O.T.O.R.

Jump to R.O.T.O.R. (1987)

049. Abraxas: Guardian of the Universe (1990)
Director: Damian Lee
Writer: Damian Lee
From: Sci-Fi Invastion
Watch: Rifftrax

Abraxas, a Finder, an intergalactic policeman, must follow his former partner, Secundus, to Earth and capture him before Secundus can find the Comator, a 5-year-old boy who unknowingly carries the “anti-life equation.”

I am giggling just trying to write the capsule summary of this movie. Jesse Ventura is Abraxas, Sven-Ole Thorsen is Secundus, and the movie is unrelentingly stupid.

Of course I love it with a passion that burns like the hearts of a thousand suns!

The movie starts with Jesse “the Body” Ventura explaining, in voice-over, what a Finder is while strapped to a table getting electric shocks. His body is undergoing special treatment to keep him as a superhuman space cop. During the voice-over, he reveals that he's just over 10,000 years old.

We then cut to a dark room that's actually one of the police stations where the two guys on duty basically repeat what Ventura just told us. Turns out, Secundus, Ventura's former partner, has turned bad and is trying to create the Comator, the being that will carry the anti-life equation and give Secundus the power to destroy this and several other universes.

Exposition done, we now cut to Earth where Secundus and Ventura are having a laser battle. Secundus briefly eludes Ventura, finds a woman, and puts his glowing hand on her stomach thereby impregnating her with the Comator. Ventura captures Secundus, sends him back to base, and then refuses the order to kill the woman before the Comator is born—which happens within the next five minutes.

Yup. Space rape to fully-formed child in five minutes.

Ventura leaves and we now see the drama of the mother, Sonia. She initially considers throwing the baby off a bridge, but doesn't. Instead, she returns home where her parents are incredulous of her story, but somehow not curious how Sonia hasn't been pregnant the previous nine months. When she won't say who the father is, they kick her out. Five years later, she's a single mom raising Tommy, who is mute and getting picked on bullies. The principal, played by Jim Belushi, suggests that Tommy stop being weird. She suggests he do his job and tell the bullies to stop picking on him. Around this time, Secundus escapes space jail and Ventura follows him back to Earth to find and save Tommy.

The movie never stops having “What?” moments. It's an obvious Terminator rip-off, tries for comedy that never lands, and is just constantly weird. One of my favorite moments is when Ventura, having found Sonia and Tommy, is staying in their house. Tommy walks into Ventura's room where Ventura is sitting up, shirtless, in bed. He says, “Do you want to sit up here with me? I'll tell you a story. It's about two men who were partners.” I initially saw this with my friends and we were just dying. The movie is constantly like that—unintentionally laugh-out-loud funny from start to finish.

I actually grabbed the Rifftrax version of this because I had already seen it and I'd listened to the amazing We Hate Movies episode of it many times. The riff is okay, certainly fun, but the movie itself is so goofy and weird that it's difficult to be funnier than the film itself. It's a good riff, but, my God, it's a funny movie. Obviously, I highly, highly recommend this. Be sure to follow it with We Hate Movies' breakdown.


050. R.O.T.O.R. (1987)
Director: Cullen Blaine
Writer: Budd Lewis from a story by Cullen Blaine
From: Sci-Fi Invastion
Watch: Rifftrax

R.O.T.O.R. is a project to create a robotic cop that can't be stopped by criminals. However, an accident causes the prototype to activate 25 years early and go on a killing spree. The only hope is that its creator can figure out a way to disable the robot before it's too late.

Another “we're totally not a Terminator/Robocop rip-off. What? No. How could you even think such a thing?” Possibly even weirder and sillier than Abraxas. I also pulled the Rifftrax version of this because I was familiar with it due to the Best of the Worst episode that featured it, had watched it with friends, and wanted to do a Rifftrax double-feature here.

It's actually difficult to talk about the movie without just repeating Best of the Worst because their response to it is so good.

“One of the most fascinating bad movies I've ever seen.”-Jay Bauman
“Establishing shot: the movie!”-Rich Evans

This is a presentation of such stunning incompetence that it's almost a work of genius. But it's not. Not by any standard or stretch of the imagination.

So, R.O.T.O.R., which stands for “Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research” (which doesn't make sense and is stupid), is a project dedicated to building a robotic police officer for our world's inevitable descent into a dystopian hellscape where the only way we can protect against crime is to unrelentingly stalk and murder each and every law-breaker, no matter how small and petty the offense and y'all are cool with this plot cause you've never read Judge Dread, right? Right. The hellscape will be here within four years.

Not “four years from now,” as in 2020, but “four years” from the time the movie is set, which seems to be its production year of 1987. Best of the Worst notes that the project is supposed to launch in 25 years, so that's when the movie posits humanity will be beyond hope, but it's actually more pessimistic than that. Four years—before the end of the first Bush administration!

Anyway, the head scientist on the project is Coldyron (pronounced Cold-Iron, so mark “stupid names” on your Bad Movie Bingo Card) who gets pressured by some government representative to accelerate the program. He refuses and quits. The next most-senior scientist, with the help of his sarcastic robot assistant (mark “inexplicable tech” and “failed comedy” on your card), start a diagnostic on R.O.T.O.R. Meanwhile, in R.O.T.O.R.'s room, a low-level tech is “flirting” with his co-worker (mark “sexual harassment”) while making weirdly racist comments about himself (mark “racism”). He sets his headphones on some contacts and, when picking them up, accidentally completes a circuit waking R.O.T.O.R. up (mark “convenient accident”). R.O.T.O.R. leaves on his own motorcycle (why is there a motorcycle for a project that won't launch for 25 years?) to do his job protecting citizens. This is more than half-an-hour into a ninety-minute movie (mark “failed pacing”).

Cut to a car with couple having an argument about whether to go to IHOP or get married. Now, you may think this is not grounds for an argument as the two choices are not mutually exclusive and, indeed, do not operate on the same timeline. “Should we make long-term, life-altering plans that require a lot of logistic consideration, or have a gnosh?” In fact, isn't that a discussion you don't want to have on an empty stomach? Really, they should be arguing about where they're going to eat to discuss whether they should get married or not, not arguing about whether to get married or to go eat. I know I'm giving a lot of space over to this question, but it's really important. I'd say it's even fundamental to the film. It must be since we spend an eternity in this goddamn car with these pricks whining at each other! I honestly wondered if somehow a reel from another film hadn't accidentally been swapped in and nobody noticed because no one else had watched the film.

R.O.T.O.R. shows up, shoots the guy in the head for speeding, the woman lays on the car horn, which is apparently R.O.T.O.R.'s weakness, (but don't count on them to take advantage of that. Mark “pointless weakness”), and then speeds off with R.O.T.O.R. in pursuit. Dr. Officer Stupidname eventually finds out, and does what he can to save this woman. Sorry, wait, I have that wrong. He does nothing to save her and tells her to be bait. In the meantime, he takes a nice trip to the airport to pick up a colleague and fill them in on what's going on.

The movie is gloriously incompetent. Literally nothing is done right down to the copyright card that comes up at the end of the credits. The MPAA gives filmmakers a template to put in their movies with the copyright information. Just add the year, your production company, and the number on file with the MPAA and you'll be fine.

This is the card R.O.T.O.R. has. Yup, that's right, completely blank. They added the template but never bothered to fill it in. I don't know if that means it's even legally copyrighted or not.

R.O.T.O.R. is delightfully awful. There's a dropped sideplot with a love interest, Dr. Stupidname looks like he's doing a Grumpy Cat impression the entire movie, and the colleague he calls for help has an odd white stripe in her hair that leads to Best of the Worst referring to her as “Skunk Lady.” It is such a trainwreck and I was absolutely agog watching it. I was on the cusp of sputtering, “How is this a movie” the entire time. So much fun, but not to be watched alone.

Friday, March 18, 2016

047. Coach and 048. Horror Express

Jump to Horror Express (1972)

047. Coach (1978)
Director: Bud Townsend
Writer: Stephen Bruce Rose and Nancy Larson, from an idea by Mark Tenser
From: Cult Cinema

Olympic medalist Randy Rawlings is hired to coach the Granger High School basketball team, but everyone's shocked to find out she's a woman. Now she has to turn around the losingest team in the league while also proving all the naysayers wrong.

From the director of The Beach Girls (and thank Bob I never have to say that again), comes a hi-larious sports comedy—with a message about gender equality! Or pedophilia. I don't know, it wasn't particularly clear.

Another one of those, “this is a comedy, right?” movies that has no sense of comic timing or really any jokes at all. Five minutes into the film, I wasn't sure what tone they were going for. We open with a woman running in slow motion to the sound of heavy breathing. They're shot from the shoulders up so it doesn't seem like we're supposed to be leering at her (Listen, this is a Marimark Production. There was a better than half chance that we were going to cut to someone jerking it while watching her run). It quickly becomes clear that it's the lead runner breathing as she's finishing and winning an Olympic race.

After she gets her medal, we cut to her leading an aerobics class for middle aged and elderly women. Laughing yet? Cause that's a joke. That's what the movie thinks of as a joke. Adults doing aerobics. From there we cut to a high school locker room where a Poindexter coach is failing to motivate his team and then to the bleachers where a nerd spills a soda on the lap of a girl he likes. Comedy.

The core problem of the film is that it imagines its premise is inherently funny—a woman trying to teach a boy's basketball team. Only, the film places that sentiment squarely in the hands of the villains, so we're implicitly told not to think that and, excepting the initial encounter, the team doesn't seem to think that either. So if that's not the case, then the movie must be about her struggles turning around this demoralized team and proving what a great coach she is. To a degree that is what the film's about, but the team rallies around her pretty quick and already have the basic skills. Literally all they needed was a coach to make them operate as a team.

So if it's not a comedy about being a female coach and it's not a story about making the underdogs the champions, what's left for the movie to be about?

How about the love story between the coach and one of her players?

Yup. While The Beach Girls just toed the line at portraying pedophilia (the characters there are all off to or done with their first year of college), this is an adult having sex with a high school student. And the only way it becomes a problem is when the kid sees her kiss someone else and gets jealous, not the threat of anyone finding out that she's screwing a child.

As with all these Marimark Productions, there are hints of something better just below the surface. One of the players gets hypnotized to perform well on a test and then is hypnotized again to be a great basketball player. Wouldn't it be great if that were spun out into something larger, maybe one of a series of goofy set pieces in a sports comedy? Here's a thought: Animal House meets Hoosiers. Doesn't that sound like fun? I'd see that movie. Unfortunately, I saw this one instead.

It's a comedy with no jokes, a sports movie without any investment in the sport, and it doesn't even have a real ending. They win the game and credits roll. There isn't even any sort of epilogue or conclusion with the school owner (yeah, I'm not even going to try to unpack that part) giving her grudging respect. The movie just cuts to credits leaving us with a dull, dull 95 minutes.

Only because this movie is nominally about sports, I spent a lot of the run time thinking of Next Goal Wins which I highly recommend. It's the story of the American Samoan FIFA team and is an amazing, relentlessly compelling sports documentary—and I say that as someone who hates sports. If you want a movie where you're rooting for the characters every moment of the way, whether they win or lose, you will be hard-pressed to find anything better than Next Goal Wins. Don't waste any time trying to see Coach.

And I bet you thought I was going to mention Craig T. Nelson.


048. Horror Express (1972)
Director: Eugenio Martín
Writers: Arnaud d'Usseau, Julian Zimet
From: Chilling
Watch: archive.org

An anthropologist discovers what he believes to be the missing link in China. While trying to transport the frozen remains back to England, the beast awakens and proves to be an evil far older than he could have imagined.

This is a public domain classic, probably up there with Night of the Living Dead or Carnival of Souls in terms of play on midnight movie shows. If only it were at their level of quality. It's a real shame, too, because the movie has Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Telly Savalas. These are actors who know B-horror inside and out, but there's just nothing to work with here.

Lee is the anthropologist who believes he's found the missing link in China. He's trying to transport the frozen remains back to England via Russia, but is getting stymied by corrupt officials. Cushing arrives as a rival anthropologist who's much more cavalier about the rules and gets by in the bribe-based space just fine. Lee flexes his authority and they both end up getting tickets for the train.

Meanwhile, a thief tries to break into the crate holding the frozen man and is struck dead, his eyes gone completely white. A Rasputin-esque priest says the contents of the crate are evil and proves it by showing how he can't draw a cross on the box. Lee chases him away and they load the train.

Nice seed, and it plays out about how you'd expect for the first third of the movie. The monster escapes, claims some victims, and there's general fear and confusion as to what this prehistoric beast is and how it can not only be alive, but successfully navigating a moving train without being seen.

I don't know if the writers got tired of the monster-on-a-train story or if they couldn't think of a way to stretch it out for 90 minutes because the plot shifts pretty abruptly. The monster is found and shot, but not before it transfers its consciousness into the mind of a police inspector on the train. Now he's evil and sucking people's minds through their eyes trying to cobble together enough knowledge to build himself a space craft to return to whatever extraterrestrial realm he fell from.

Yeah. I'm totally down for that plot, too. I mean, yeah, that could have been the whole movie, but I'm fine with just 60 minutes of that.

Unfortunately, with about half-an-hour left, Telly Savalas enters as an alcoholic authoritarian Russian Captain who starts throwing his weight around. The monster attacks him and his soldiers, manages to kill all of them, possesses the priest from earlier and comes to an end. It has taken me, literally, years to finally make sense of the ending in an, “Oh, that's what happened” way because I could never pay close enough attention to the final moments to care.

Like I said, I've seen this movie a bunch and every time get excited and disappointed by it in the same ways. An early 70's horror flick with Lee and Cushing? Even if it's not officially Hammer, it smells like Hammer. And then there's Telly Savalas on top of it! Kojak (who is not Kolchak which I admittedly had confused in my head, but still)! Personality and class and camp and a caveman in a box! This should be fantastic and it's really dull and disappointing.

The movie never decides what its actual plot is and I keep misremembering it as three different movies each time I see it. Telly Savalas isn't really part of it and the second plot—this alien consciousness working as a mind vampire—feels like it could have been the whole movie, becoming a paranoid horror pic like The Thing. You never know who the monster is, only who they were and it's never clear who can be trusted. Instead, it's this competently acted piece of sloppiness. If you're running a Call of Cthulhu game, this certainly suggests some adventures that would make for really solid sessions. Otherwise, I'd give it a pass.

This is public domain and there are several versions on the Internet Archive. I've linked to the MPEG2 version.

Friday, March 11, 2016

044. 045. 046. Black Cobra 1, 2, & 3

044. Black Cobra aka Cobra Nero(1987)
Director: Stelvio Massi
Writer: Danilo Massi
From: Cult Cinema
Watch: archive.org

Chicago Detective Robert Malone must protect the only woman who can identify the leader of a roving motorcycle gang.

045. Black Cobra 2 (1989)
Director: Edoardo Margheriti
From: Cult Cinema

Detective Robert Malone is sent to Manila on forced sabatical, but finds himself immediately tied up in an investigation of an international crime syndicate.

046. Black Cobra 3 (1990)
Director: Edoardo Margheriti
From: Cult Cinema

Detective Robert Malone once again must travel to the Philippines, this time to investigate the disappearance of an arms shipment being investigated by the son of an old friend.

To celebrate my birthday, I invited my bad movie friends, the Space Dukes, over for a triple-feature of Black Cobra 1, 2, & 3. During the course of the films, I baked cookies, brought out hummus and a cheese plate, reheated some black bean soup for myself, one of my friends left to get Indonesian, and we drank, and drank, and, upon seeing what the movies had to offer, drank and drank and drank. Also, my friend gave me a copy of Buttageddon by Chuck Tingle. Read the description there at Amazon if you're not already familiar with the works of Chuck Tingle or you can just follow Kindle Cover Disasters to truly appreciate the levels of what-the-fuckery.

I have little to say about the movies as we did not pay particularly close attention to them as they did not warrant it. Fred Williamson plays Detective Robert Malone, a Chicago cop who plays by his own rules and other cop movie clichés. The first movie is an attempt to make a black Dirty Harry including lines about the bullet capacity of a .44 Magnum being addressed to a “punk” who's asked if he feels “lucky.” All of this comes at the end, though. The majority of the movie is a gang of criminals committing random acts of violence and trying to find a young woman who can identify the gang's leader. The movie, overall, is pretty silly and forgettable.

All three of these movies are Italian productions so enjoy those opening establishing shots of Chicago because that's the last you'll see of the city. The rest of the film is shot in, as my friend said, “Shitaly,” and the film looks it. While Black Cobra 2 and 3 have English-speaking co-stars, this first one only has Williamson who's clearly talking to heavily dubbed people. Add that he's always chewing a cigar and a final sequence that looks like it was choreographed in Crazy Taxi and you have a moderately enjoyable bad movie.

There are two more, though, both of which send our hero to the Philippines because I guess it was cheaper than shooting in Italy (although they're done just as shittily). In Black Cobra 2, Williamson, after shooting a hostage-taker in the face through a motorcycle helmet (which, yeah, is pretty boss), is sent on a forced sabbatical to Manila on the pretense of being trained by Interpol. Before he can get through customs, though, his wallet is stolen which embroils him in some kind of international crime thingy whatsit.

I don't care because, as my friend pointed out, his co-star is Spiderman from the 70's live-action TV show (and I only just noticed that the IMDB doesn't list a writer for this movie. I find that completely plausible).

This movie is dumber than the first and way more fun. It's a generic action-cop flick shot in Manila—the kind of thing they talk about in Electric Boogaloo, the excellent documentary on Cannon Films—featuring silly slo-mo, villains watching Williamson roll across a floor before shooting them, and various moments that pop up out of nowhere like a woman at a bar who's actually the bar's lounge singer and just launches into a song—badly.

Oh, so deliciously badly.

There's a whole lot of silly to this film, but some disappointments as well. Williamson has a brief romantic interest and we don't see the love scene. I'm not sure we even see them kiss, and that felt like a purposeful absence, like the filmmakers weren't willing to show an interracial kiss on-screen.

The third movie, the best of the three, (and how often can you say that of sequels?) opens in the Philippines without Williamson at all. Some guy is trying to infiltrate a military/rebel/terrorist/??? base using 80's fake technology and white-guy karate. He does . . . stuff? . . . and is then chased away. He escapes, but not before being shot and somehow gets a message to Williamson. Williamson worked with rando's dad and was the best damn cop he ever knew. Since rando has uncovered some heavy shit, Williamson is the only one who he trusts to come down and handle it.

This third movie abandons all pretense. It's just silly action sequences. In fact, this may have been the inspiration for the final act of Black Dynamite. Williamson has to get permission to leave from his police chief—the same angry chief that sent him to the Philippines in the second movie—and their meeting is interrupted by a call from the mayor relaying a message from the governor to send in Detective Robert Malone!

So he goes down, meets his co-stars, much shooty, much splodey, much silly. I thought I saw an obvious twist on the horizon that never manifested and I don't know if that's to the movie's credit or a failure on their part. While I don't have much to say about this third one, it was the one that kept my friends and I laughing the most and was definitely the most fun.

Apparently there's a fourth one of these, but there's no description. The only review makes it sound like someone recut the first and second to make a new sequel. However, IMDB also lists what looks to be a reboot, The Black Cobra Returns, starring Coy Duke and Sheriff Little from The Dukes of Hazzard. I highly recommend poking around that IMDB link, especially to see the bio of writer/director Markus James. It is a glorious piece of autobiography masquerading as biography.

Overall, the films are forgettable, potentially interesting examples of blaxploitation, late-80's action-generica, and made-for-export Italian film. A black version of Dirty Harry would have been pretty interesting if honestly pursued. It feels like they aimed for that a bit with the remake of Shaft, but missed the mark there too. If you stumble across these or feel like hunting them down, just go straight to the third. No plot elements carry over and that's the one that gets closest to all killer, no filler.

Edit: Black Cobra apparently is PD so I've uploaded an MPEG-2 to archive.org.

Friday, March 04, 2016

043. Evil Brain From Outer Space and Bonus Attack From Space

Attack From Space (1965)
Directors: Koreyoshi Akasaka, Teruo Ishii, and Akira Mitsuwa
Writer: Ichirô Miyagawa
Watch: archive.org

043. Evil Brain From Outer Space (1965)
Directors: Koreyoshi Akasaka, Teruo Ishii, and Akira Mitsuwa
Writer: Ichirô Miyagawa
From: Cult Cinema,Sci-Fi Invastion, and Pure Terror
Watch: archive.org

The leaders of the Emerald planet, fearing the effects upon their own of nuclear fallout on Earth, dispatch their creation, Starman, to save our planet from destruction.

The second half of the Starman tetralogy and the one that ends up running into the worst structural challenges. As I said in last week's post, these movies were cut from the nine-part Super Giant series from Japan. Parts 1-6 were three two-part stories so editing them into movies doesn't provide that much of a challenge. Parts 7-9, though, were each complete, individual stories. Added to that, parts eight and nine were filmed in widescreen. So not only were the American producers trying to cobble together one story from three very different ones, the shape of the screen didn't even remain consistent throughout. That work of editing, though, does suggest an interesting way of looking at these films, but I'll get to that at the end.

First is the third Super Giant/Starman film, Attack From Space which wasn't on any of my Mill Creek box sets. I don't know why. Nor do I know why none of these box sets contained more than two of these movies. It couldn't have been for fear of repetition: these sets are the definition of filler. I couldn't see any reason not to include it in my watchlist, though, and so grabbed the copy from archive.org.

Aliens are approaching Earth intent on its nuclear destruction. Meanwhile, a rocket-building project on Earth is suffering increasing acts of sabotage as it nears completion. Starman, naturally, is dispatched to “save the Earth,” aka prevent any fallout from inconveniencing the Emerald planet. Let's be honest, these films are all prequels to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where the Emerald planet finally gives up and just decides to demolish Earth for an intergalactic bypass.

Although Starman swoops in to destroy one of the alien space crafts, the majority of the story happens on Earth with the family of the head designer on the rocket project. His two children double as his assistants and I'll admit to some initial “the goddamned kids” impulses. The kids, of course, see something shady happening and then, of course, follow the villains to their secret lair where, the stupid kids, of course, decide to leave and call the police.

. . .

All right, kids! Way to be! Of course there's another batch of villains to catch the kids immediately, but they were generally making responsible decisions: acquire information from a seemingly safe distance and then turn to the authorities when you have enough to be of use.

The kids are held as ransom to get their father to join the aliens and give them all his technology and research. To make sure he complies, he and his children are put into a mind-control device. As the movie goes on, the control weakens and the kids start to sabotage the aliens and plan their escape.

Starman does very little in this movie, which is to the film's credit. The kids generally make the efforts to save the day, including the young girl shooting the hell out of the space Nazis.

Oh yeah, did I mention the aliens aren't so much aliens as just space Nazis? You get to watch space Nazis get stomped. By a little girl. It's as awesome as it sounds.

So the kids generally defeat the aliens, help their father escape, and Starman comes in at the last minute because he's contractually obligated to be present. In the final battle, it is largely him standing in the middle of a room, grabbing people's guns, and shooting them while laughing. Oh, he has such a joyful laugh as he just kills and kills and kills.

This was my second favorite of the four movies. Even though it didn't have any interesting alien make-up, it had space Nazis and felt the most like an actual movie. Unfortunately, it's followed by the least of the four, Evil Brain From Outer Space.

Balazar, an evil genius bent on intergalactic domination, has had his brain preserved in a jar from which he sends out psychic orders to his mutants who start spreading chaos across the planet Earth.

I don't even know where to begin with this one. On the one hand, “Evil brain seeks to take over Earth!” is right up my street. You want to get me excited? I'm excited. On the other hand, this movie put me to sleep more aggressively than the other three. There's just nothing holding it together and no real through line.

Very funny. Now show me the real costume.
A big reason for that is that this is three hour-long movies spliced together into a 78-minute piece. The Wikipedia page for Super Giant says the three plots are the evil brain, a disfigured doctor turning his dead daughter into some kind of witch monster, and a terrorist army trying to overthrow a peaceful prince.

This movie's just about an evil brain. You don't get to see the brain much and it doesn't communicate psychically with anyone, but it's there and it's bad. Naughty naughty brain. I think Starman steps on it at the end.

More interesting than the film itself is how it was constructed. This is cut from three other movies that, individually, aren't too much shorter than this final product. More than that, though, even though the evil brain plot is used as the dominant one, the witch comes into play and the terrorist army is reimagined as alien mutants facing off against Starman. Knowing those three plots in retrospect, I can start imagining which element from the movie was in which episode, but I didn't have them broken down that way beforehand.

All of which suggests a way to view and use not just these Starman movies, but all the public domain material on archive.org. Viewers fill in an astonishing amount of gaps and will assume a context that may not be there. Rather than watch these movies as films, look at them as bits of raw material. How can they be sliced up, rearranged, and re-understood? Of course that's a way many people do look at these old movies, but with Evil Brain From Outer Space you have a practical example of movies being recut into a new film that almost makes sense. Could the same be done with the entire Starman series? Could you make Starman vs. Flash Gordon or even Starman/Flash Gordon slash with some creative editing? Since the source material is already a rearrangement of preexisting materials, already a remix, is there any moral obligation to some imagined “original vision”? When this is your starting point, is there any original or final version at all? As I tell my students, editing is as much a creative, authorial act as writing itself. So what kind of compositions can you make using these things?

Since Attack From Space isn't on any of my box sets, it's not properly part of the Misery Mill. However, to catch up, next week will be a triple-feature where the third movie proves to be the best in the series.