September 29th, 2008

SHOCK (1979) ** ½

A wife (Daria Nicolodi) and her new hubby (John Steiner) move into the house where she murdered her first husband with an Exact-o knife.  At first things seem normal, but when her ex’s ghost possesses their young son and he starts doing weird shit like stealing momma’s underwear and trying to dry hump her, Daria starts to suspect that something’s up.  Finally the ghost stops pussyfooting around and makes the Exact-o fly around by itself and chase her around the house.  This gets Daria so upset that she has to land a pick axe into poor John’s chest.  In the end the ghost causes the house to topple on top of his no good skank wife so he can play Tea Time with his snot nosed brat of a kid.  


Shock was the final film by Italian horror maestro Mario Bava.  Supposedly he was so frail that he had to get his son Lamberto (who also co-wrote the script) to help him direct a lot of scenes.  It certainly shows as the end result is kinda patchy.  The film lacks a lot of Mario’s usual visual flair and the opening scenes move at a snail’s pace.  What’s worse is that the supernatural shenanigans are mostly weighted towards the last fifteen minutes or so. 


While the flick may have several weaknesses, it does have an undeniable hypnotic charm that holds your attention even when things are getting particularly slow going.  The gore, when it comes, is solid and the scene where Nicolodi is ravaged by her invisible husband is reminiscent of The Entity.  Shock may not be the swan song you would hope for from the master but it still has its fair share of memorable moments to qualify it as a must-see for rabid fans of the late, great Bava.


Lamberto also directed the Exact-o themed A Blade in the Dark.


AKA:  Beyond the Door 2.  AKA:  Suspense. 


Director Bert I. Gordon usually makes flicks about giants.  The Amazing Colossal Man was all about a giant Colossal Man.  The Beginning of the End was all about giant grasshoppers.  Earth vs. the Spider was all about a giant spider.  With Attack of the Puppet People, Gordon decided to go the other route and do a movie about small people.  And I’m not talking about Gary Coleman; I’m talking about REALLY small people. 


The plot has this kindly old doll maker who actually isn’t very kindly at all because he likes to shrink people down to doll size and keep them locked up in little tubes.  B Movie stalwart John (Revenge of the Creature) Agar and his fiancée are the doll maker’s latest victims and they try to convince the other half dozen or so puppet people to stop living in a doll house and try to get back to normal size.  They reluctantly agree (being the size of a Ken doll is more fun than you’d think) and they plan their escape during one of the old man’s puppet shows. 


Attack of the Puppet People isn’t nearly as much fun as Gordon’s other cult classics but there is enough cheesy goodness here to make it worthwhile for fans of 50’s junk.  See one of the doll women belt out a love song!  See the puppet people try to dial a rotary phone!  See the little folk chased by a giant rat!  See the infinitesimal Agar get cornered by a humongous dog! 


I got to hand it to Bert.  Even though the man makes movies of varying quality, he sure knows how to film a pint-sized chick taking a bubble bath in a coffee can.  Bert is also no slouch when it comes to shameless self promotion as he even threw in a few scenes from his classic Amazing Colossal Man during Agar’s drive-in date. 


In short, Attack of the Puppet People is no classic, but it’s a lot better than Honey I Shrunk the Kids. 


Random Note:  I didn’t know lingerie for dolls were so popular!


AKA:  Six Inches Tall.  AKA:  The Fantastic Puppet People.