Friday, May 13, 2016

63. Prisoners of the Lost Universe and 64. Blood Sabbath

Jump to Blood Sabbath (1972)

063. Prisoners of the Lost Universe (1983)
Director: Terry Marcel
Writer: Terry Marcel, Harry Robertson
From: Cult Cinema and Drive-In
Watch: Rifftrax, archive.org

Carrie, Dan, and a scientist fall through a portal to a parallel universe populated by strange prehistoric tribes and medieval warlords with modern technology. Carrie and Dan have to survive long enough to find both the scientist and a way back home.

Starring Richard Hatch from my favorite movie ever, Best Friends and his character’s just as charming here!

That is unfair. This movie is nowhere near as nihilistic and grim as Best Friends and even manages to reach some level of goofy fun. It’s not an accident that there’s a Rifftrax version of this.

Anyway, the movie opens with super upbeat and heroic music and then cuts to a shot of a woman hypnotizing a snake by humming. This is our heroine (and the term, unfortunately, needs to be gendered), Carrie who hosts a show about weird science. It may be the most WTF opening sequences I’ve ever seen since it goes from this tense stare down with a snake to a chipper, “we’ll see you next time” style closing sequence.

From there, Carrie learns that her crew is going to be delayed for her next shoot, an interview with Dr. Hartman who’s doing interesting sciencings. She goes on ahead to do a preliminary interview, but there’s an earthquake along the way that causes her to have a minor fender-bender with Dan, Richard Hatch. Dan’s car ends up stuck on the side of a mountain and his bokken (wooden practice sword) broken. Seeing as he’s our hero, he takes the whole thing as a man.

Sorry, I meant he takes it like a whiny pissbaby screeching at her about his broken stick. She’s so awful, such a bad driver, women like her, amiright? I mean, who can’t control their car in an earthquake? Richard Hatch couldn’t, but, *mumblemumble* bitches, amiright? When can I open for Daniel Tosh?

He bullies away her offers of help, which he needs, and money to cover the damages, which he needs, so she leaves to get on with her life like an adult. She gets to the scientist’s house where the doctor isn’t played by Clint Howard but should be. He shows her his experiment, a device that opens windows into other dimensions. While he’s demonstrating it, there’s an aftershock and he stumbles through the hole.

Meanwhile, Manbaby can’t get his car to move so he stamps up the hill to the doctor’s house, doesn’t get an answer when he rings the bell, breaks in, and gets hit on the head by Carrie because he’s an intruder breaking into a house! Sorry, I meant because, pfft, women, amiright?

She explains what happened to the doctor, Manbaby makes fun of her, sarcastically repeats the machine’s start-up sequence, and also falls through. Then Carrie follows him because she’s scared, or worried about him, or also falls. I forget because just the work of making them all fall into the hole was so contrived.

Relatively quickly into the movie, we’re in the titular Lost Universe. Carrie’s alone, saves a giant from quicksand, and he proceeds to follow her from a distance, periodically saving her from the curious threats of this world. Manbaby also shows up and starts just unrelentingly insulting her. Seriously, he just negs her the entire time. Of course, 27 minutes into the movie, they screw. This is shortly after she’s arrived in the world. Basically they’ve been on a long walk together so that’s time enough.

From there, she’s kidnapped by the evil warlord Kleel who’s played by John Saxon. Oddly enough, the film doesn’t list him as a star, just as a cameo, but he’s in a lot of the picture and is the central villain. Also, he’s hands-down the best part of the movie. He gets that it’s stupid and just hams it up throughout.

So, it turns out Kleel’s using modern technology developed for him by the doctor to keep his people in check. The rest of the movie is Carrie being abused/seduced by Kleel and Manbaby wandering across the world gathering a party to rescue her.

There’s a lot of goofy fun to be had here: the sound design is just off the wall including people making jaguar growls being thrown over a cliff to a videogame WOMP WOMP sound effect, there’s a character referred to as the “Green Man” who’s at best blue or grey, and, of course, Manbaby is just the worst sort of 80’s machismo dickishness that you love to laugh at.

That last element, though, is also what makes the movie a bit of a slog. This feels like what MRA’s wanted Mad Max: Fury Road to be and that’s what undercuts a lot of the fun. The plot is kind of obvious and there's more than a hint of camp at work here which elevates that very obviousness, but we have to spend so much time with this douchenozzle that it can be a touch wearying.

As I mentioned above, Rifftrax did a pass on this and that may be the way to go. Also, apparently it's public domain. Here's the post on archive.org. I'd add a DVD version, but Mill Creek stamped their logo on my copies, so I can't. This is definitely a pizza-and-beer/mock-with-friends film, but falls a little short of being an enjoyably bad watch if you’re alone.


064. Blood Sabbath (1972)
Director: Brianne Murphy
Writer: William A. Bairn
From: Pure Terror

David, a Vietnam vet, falls in love with the water nymph Yyalah. To be with her, he must become involved in the power struggle between the witch Alotta and the town she and her cult cruelly rule over.

Folks, I'm going to be straight with you. I've watched this movie, read its IMDB page, even read a blog post about it on WFMU, and I still don't know what the hell I just watched.

David is a drifter, just walking through the woods, when he gets buzzed by a vanload of hippies who initially seem to be offering him a ride, and then just flash him their tits and drive off. Later, after he's camped out for the night, the same band of hippies, now all naked, find him in the woods and start to chase him. It feels like it might be echoing Orpheus' death at the hands of the Bacchanal as the three naked women chase him until he slips and hits his head on a rock . . .

I'm kidding. It's just an excuse for titties.

Fearing he's dead, they leave him to be found and saved by the water nymph Yyalah. He wants to stay with her, but she tells him to come back tomorrow. He wanders until he finds the home of the hermit Lonzo who lets him stay, but tells him not to pursue Yyalah as water nymphs are fickle. Or something. I missed it because Lonzo asks David, “Where do you come from?”

“I came from Vietnam.”

Oooh! Brace yourselves, folks, we've got an important film here with a message!

Later, while looking for Yyalah, David, in voice-over, wonders, “She said 'tomorrow.' That was yesterday. Or was it? Vietnam. Was that yesterday too?” which leads to a flashback to Vietnam where it's revealed that David killed some kids.

Is it my birthday? Did you guys get me self-important bullshit? You shouldn't have. Really. You shouldn't.

So David finds Yyalah again who was avoiding him because she's an immortal and he's not. For them to be together, he has to get rid of his soul.

Meanwhile, Alotta [insert puns at your leisure], Queen of the witches, meets with Lonzo to convince him to turn David over to her. Normally, Lonzo brings a child from the nearby village to Alotta as an annual sacrifice in exchange for the village's prosperity. This year, she wants David instead. Lonzo refuses, but David finds out about Lonzo's job, condemns him, then learns that Alotta can take away his soul. So David cuts a deal with Alotta to be the sacrifice, she accepts on the condition that if Yyalah leaves him, he has to return and serve her. They have the ceremony, which is just basically a giant orgy, and David runs off to be with Yyalah.

Then Alotta starts playing everyone off each other. There's a priest in town that's been moving against her, so Alotta has David murder him. Lonzo tries to kill Yyalah because he thinks she's going to doom David, but David shows up and kills him instead. Yyalah leaves anyway because she's convinced she's a threat to David, which puts him in Alotta's service. When he returns, though, he kills Alotta instead.

Real blood-thirsty hero we got here.

As she's dying, she curses David to be killed by his “own people.” We flashback, again, to Vietnam, where it turns out David's in a friendly-fire situation, then back to the field where David is walking only to have the van of hippies from the beginning show up and run him down. He's knocked into the river from the beginning where Yyalah appears, wakes him up, and they embrace as the film ends.

What sort of Z-grade, Inception-style bullshit is this? Did David die in Vietnam during friendly fire and the whole movie is him traversing purgatory to eventually land in paradise? Is it all a dream from when he hit his head at the beginning of the movie? Is the movie pro-hippie or anti-hippie? The hippies that frame the piece are pretty monstrous, but isn't David on some sort of free love trip himself? Does Alotta even have magical powers or is she just tricking the townspeople into giving her new members for her lesbian sex cult each year?

Obviously a total recommend. Not really, but the movie is hilariously bad. The acting is at “I hate sand” levels of inept, the story makes no sense, and it's just relentlessly silly. Definitely fun if you have a group of friends and a few drinks. Outside of that, it's interesting for starring Philo From UHF as David and Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS as Alotta. A light Googling will find you a copy if you don't want to rent it from Amazon.

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