August 13th, 2008

SEX MANIA (1987) ***

Exploitation guru Johnny Legend pulled out all the stops this time with this compilation, giving us a taste of sex education of yesteryear, spanning from the 20’s all the way through the 60’s.

 

It all begins with some silent footage of a guy helping a naked girl by removing a pesky rat from out of her shower, but he turns out the be a rat himself.  Next is a Navy enforced VD filmstrip where we see slides of gonorrhea germs under a microscope, a discussion about “blue balls” and the dangers of “Clap Doctors”, as well as a model of a penis.  Then there’s an unintentionally hilarious short about syphilis in which a gratuitously Italian (his accent is about as believable as Chico Marx’s) shopkeeper’s newborn son dies because of complications from the deadly disease.  A social worker tells him:  “With proper medical treatment you can be cured and you can have all the little bambinos you want!”  Things kind of go down hill from there as the filmstrip about teenage marriage (from the 50’s) and the short about teenage pregnancy (from the 60’s) aren’t all that entertaining, but the final short about “photographer’s models” ends things on a high note as this segment has plenty of nudity to keep any heterosexual male happy.

 

Interspersed between the various shorts are clips from silent stag reels that help spice things up.  We also get to see a trailer for the nudist colony/artist’s rights picture, The Naked Venus as well. 

 

Like most of these compilations from Johnny Legend, Sex Mania is a little on the uneven side, but at least it makes up for it with a generous heaping of female flesh.  Although some of the shorts tended to drag, I definitely enjoyed the “Rent-A-Girl” portion of the flick and the Naval short was a hoot.  (It was also responsible for the funniest line of dialogue:  “Wearing a rubber is like taking a shower with a raincoat on!”) 

 

AKA:  Rhino’s Guide to Safe Sex.

DOPE MANIA (1987) ***

 

The one and only Johnny Legend scraped together a bunch of anti-drug propaganda, movie trailers and short subjects about the dangers of pills, pot, and heroin and put them all into this compilation.  Like most of these collections, it’s fairly hit and miss but there’s some pretty priceless stuff here and there to make it worth a look. 

 

There’s a short about how poppy seeds are turned into opium and a police training video on how to spot a doper.  (“Pot smoke has a musty odor that’s easy to identify!”)  We also get to see trailers for such drug scare films as Marihuana (featuring scandalous nude bathing), Assassin of Youth (“People say it’s suicide, but to me it’s murder by marijuana!”), Smoke of Evil and Mary Jane (starring Fabian!) as well as a montage of people having hallucinations from similar grade Z anti-drug pictures. 

 

The filmstrip about a guy who moves up from “Bennies” to weed to heroin runs way too long but the public service announcement featuring Sonny Bono is worth the price of admission.  We see the fuzz busting a bunch of hippies having a pot party; then Bono is seen wearing golden pajamas and dispensing advice and anti-drug sentiment.  I don’t know about you, but hearing “Just Say No to Drugs” from Sonny Bono is like kind of like learning Driver’s Ed from Jayne Mansfield.

 

Scenes from Mondo Keyhole and a silent western serial featuring Yakima Canutt called “Weed of Death” (“If you smoke that, you’ll go bughouse loco!”) rounds out the collection. 

 

If you enjoyed such anti-pot classics as Reefer Madness and She Shoulda Said No, then you will no doubt enjoy this compilation immensely.  Just try to watch it straight, okay?

MAZES AND MONSTERS (1982) *

 

There are few things in this world more stupefyingly boring than sitting around a bunch of virgins and playing Dungeons & Dragons, so watching a movie ABOUT a bunch of virgins sitting around and playing a Dungeons & Dragons type game is actually twice as bad. 

 

A pre-Splash Tom Hanks stars as a kid who is transferred to a new college where he meets three new friends (one of whom is an honest to goodness FEMALE) who are as heavily into D & D (or in this case, M & M) as he is.  They assure him that they “are NOT fanatics”, even though they only play “a few times a week”, but when Chris (Meatballs) Makepeace’s role-playing character is killed during a game, they decide they should play M & M FOR REAL.  That means that they all have to dress up in bath robes and bed sheets and run around bat infested caverns; generally acting like a bunch of fucking idiots in the process. 

 

It’s at this point where Hanks totally starts wigging out and imagines seeing rubbery green dragon monsters everywhere and making proclamations worthy of a third rate jester at a Renaissance Festival.  He even takes his role-playing character, a priest; a bit TOO seriously as he wishes to remain celibate and avoids his new girlfriend like the plague.  (This I just totally don’t buy.  I could accept that one of the four players was a girl, but we all know that ALL D & D players are in fact celibate, just not by choice.  That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t jump on the next available Poon Train if given the opportunity.)  

Hanks also starts to see a mysterious figure who stands in the middle of what looks like the James Bond gun barrel opening, that beckons him to come to “The Two Towers”. 
This leads to a lot of jaw-dropping scenes where a completely spaced out Hanks wanders around New York City thinking muggers are dragons and slicing them up with a switchblade.  The height of the insanity comes when he bumps into an old homeless man who claims to be the “King of France” and Hanks takes him at his word and calls him, “Your Majesty!”  Hanks asks the dude about the Two Towers, and the old fart naturally directs him to the World Trade Center.  In the end, Hanks threatens to jump off the roof of the WTC, but unfortunately for us, his little role-playing buddies talk him out of it.  The coda is especially hilarious with Hanks’ mother keeping him out of sight in the back yard and allowing him to totally act bat shit insane just as long as the neighbors don’t see him.   

 

I wish I could say that all the scenes of Hanks freaking out and being menaced by vaguely Tolkien figures was stupid enough to be entertaining, but I can’t.  This movie is so lame that I don’t even know where to start.  If the film was all about Hanks fighting mythical monsters, that would be one thing, but this flick is a cautionary tale for Christ’s sakes; warning the viewer about the perils of role-playing games and the dangers of getting way too wrapped up in your own little fantasy world. 

 

My question is:  Were we really SUPPOSED to buy all of this horse shit? 

 

I can almost understand someone making a heavy-handed moralistic movie about the dangers of sex, drugs, or alcohol, but Dungeons & Dragons?  C’mon!  I agree with the message:  Don’t play that fucking game or you’ll become a social misfit, but the filmmakers get the facts all wrong.  If you play Dungeons & Dragons, you won’t go crazy and wander around New York City; you’ll just stay at home in the basement and never let your skin see the light of day. Also, Dungeons & Dragons won’t cause hallucinations, unless that is you’re taking some heavy LSD in between dice rolls.  The biggest mistake this movie makes is that it says that if you play Dungeons & Dragons, you’ll have to turn down the advances of halfway decent looking females looking to get busy with you, but more than likely you’ll never ever see a real woman and opt for the services of a blow-up pleasure doll instead. 

 

The filmmakers also go to great lengths to show that the teens in the movie are troubled and disaffected so that we know why the board game appeals to them.   They all have parents that don’t listen or care (Hanks’ father, in an effort to show him how much he loves him, tells him that he can call him COLLECT if he needs him) and the quartet finds a family environment through playing the game.  As if they were victims who just need a little bit of TLC or something!  Jeesh.   

 

And just wait until you hear the theme song.  You’ve been warned. 

 

If anything, the movie does feature a good look at the pre-Disneyfied Times Square of the early 80’s. 

 

Hanks naturally looks to have a lot of talent in one of his early roles, but he is woefully miscast and just isn’t believable playing an introverted, hallucinating virgin.  (Which I guess is the best compliment I could give him, if you think about it.)  The grown-up cast led by Anne (Forbidden Planet) Francis, Murray (Jaws) Hamilton and Vera (Psycho) Miles are OK, but they all get very little screen time. 

 

Next time you hear some moron say, “Oh I’d watch Tom Hanks in ANYTHING!” show them this.  They’ll shut their face real fast.

 

AKA:  Dungeons and Dragons.