Movie Sign Again! New MST3K Capsule Reviews, Part 2
4 – Avalanche – This is by one of Mst3K’s favorite directors, Roger Corman, and this is his
attempt at a star studded ‘70’s disaster film. Being a Corman film, there really isn’t that many walking scenes – he is as famous for those as Ed Wood is for parking scenes – but there is a lot of padding in this sad attempt at a film. Even star power like Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow – seriously! Doing the worst acting of their careers – doesn’t stop this from being a lesser Corman effort, ticking absolutely every box in the ‘70’s action movie cliché list (except no super pregnant lady – probably couldn’t afford to film a labor sequence). It’s more like Swamp Diamonds Corman, than Night of the Blood Beast Corman, which means a flabby movie with not a lot of point, and no ridiculous costume to distract you from the tedium. You spend most of the movie waiting for the avalanche of the title, and wishing it would hurry the hell up. There’s a comedy love song duet between Felicia Day and Neil Patrick Harris (with little additions by Patton Oswalt), but it’s a little too good. It’s not as naturally funny as “When Loving Lovers Love” by Pearl and Brain Guy back in the day (if you’ve never seen that, Google it, or find it in the MST3K episode Overdrawn At The Memory Bank). But it’s weird to say something’s too good, isn’t it? Especially in proximity of this movie. When the avalanche finally comes – about thirty minutes before the end of the goddamn film – thanks, Roger! – the effects are as terrible as you expect from he king of the $1.25 budget. This movie also suffers from a lack of genuine characters, which is the one through line in all the films so far. It does make you wonder how all theses filmmakers actually sat down and thought, “Do my characters need any recognizable personality or reason for moving through the plot? Nah!” Although I will say that Hudson’s character does make some aggressive romantic moves that make his character vaguely appalling, and you hope he gets some comeuppance, but – spoiler alert! – he never really does. Thanks again, Roger!
5 – The Beast of Hollow Mountain – This is a hybrid film, a Western giant monster movie, involving a white guy living in Mexico, who encounters a legendary “curse” that is actually a giant monster. It’s a creaky, underfed story with a few cringeworthy Mexican stereotypes, and a bland hero who’s just aching for a punch, and yet I enjoyed this one too. Maybe because it came after a flabby Corman film, or maybe it’s because the entire cast wasn’t completely white, or maybe the homo-erotic subtext, but I got some good laughs out of this one. But this commits a grave sin of many a monster film, in that our monster – a stop motion, claymation dinosaur, that actually looks a bit adorable – doesn’t show up until over an hour of tepid melodrama has elapsed. Of course, once you see it, you understand why the filmmakers held off on showing it. It is lame for several reasons, but the fact that rope swinging plays a part in the end of the dinosaur is just … oy vey. No wonder this movie got lost to time.
6- Starcrash – Star Wars is responsible for a lot of bad sci-fi rip offs, but any worse than this? I guess it’s up for debate, but this one has David Hasselhoff in it, so your arguments are invalid. It’s cheap and exploitative – yes, there’s a kick ass female in it, but they put her in a leather bikini almost immediately, and she needs to be saved by a country bumpkin robot within the first half hour (I wish I was kidding). Also there’s a giant “amazon” stop motion robot with boobs. Again, I wish I was kidding. It’s cheap, poorly thought out, derivative, and ridiculous, so it is pretty fun. The story makes no sense, but it’s clearly a cash grab, so no one cared. Why should we? The villain looks more like Ming the Merciless than Darth Vader, and what pass for robots in this movie are either cheap stop motion, or half-assed costumes that let you know there’s an actor in there. The ship models are little better. I dare you to make any sense of any of the fight sequences, especially near the end. I mean, it’s no Space Mutiny, but what is? At least the villain chews the scenery as much, and no disabled man is roasted in an expulsion stump, so it has a couple pluses. Yes, you’re going to want to see this one. Especially if you’re into leather bikinis or robot boobs. (I’m sure there’s a Venn diagram that shows how complimentary this circle is.)
7 – The Land That Time Forgot – Did you know Doug McClure was one of the inspirations for The Simpsons Troy McClure? I guess the name is a giveaway. But he was a sort of a blandly handsome ‘50’s actor who was known more for looks than acting skills. And this is exactly the kind of movie I could see Troy McClure starring in. A bunch of horse hockey about survivors from a sunken British ship – torpedoed by the damn jerrys – finding an island that time forgot, along with some of the German sub members who sunk them in the first place. The dinosaur effects are very poor, which you probably could imagine being an MST3K movie. But in the first monster attack on our hero, it looks like a stage hand is violently whipping a rubber mask near him. There are also stereotypical cavemen with some disturbing racial implications, and predictable plot developments. Let’s face it, this is a story that’s been filmed a thousand times … and are any of them really any good? Law of averages would dictate there’d be at least one, but if so, I haven’t seen it. A solid effort by the MST3K crew.