October 29th, 2008

THE BEAST (1977) ** ½

Good golly Miss Molly, this is one weird movie. 


Okay, so there’s this horse trainer who’s about to be married off to a woman (Sirpa Lane) he never met.  When the chick finally arrives, all she does is masturbate and fantasize about being raped by a hairy beast with a giant penis that continuously ejaculates all over her.  In the end, we learn that her husband was actually the beast, but he ends up dying in his sleep, so the wedding is called off. 


Like I said, weird.  I’ve seen some fucked up shit in my time, but the scenes of a hot, horny and hairy monster shooting jizz all over a hot French broad’s ta-ta’s has to go down in cinema history as some of the craziest shit ever put on the silver screen.  There’s also a pretty hot scene where Lane masturbates with a rose and shoves that bad boy up her hoo-ha!  I’ve heard of a rose bush before but that shit was ridiculous. 


The problem with The Beast is that it takes one whole hour before we get to the beast sex.  The first sixty minutes of this movie play out like some half assed Masterpiece Theater shit with a bunch of stupid French people trying to organize a wedding.  Supposedly director Walerian Borowczyk had planned this as part of his anthology movie, Immoral Tales but he decided to expand it to feature length.  I think he made a big mistake.  The Beast would’ve been a perfect movie if it only ran about 45 minutes or so.  As it is, it’s got entirely too much of that Masterpiece Theater shit in the beginning that gum up the works. 


The opening scene is a doozy however as we get to see some graphic scenes of horses humping.  I never thought I’d ever see throbbing horse cock ever penetrating pulsating equine pussy in a movie, but here it is.  (This flick would make an excellent double feature with Emanuelle in America.)


Had the film been nothing but the beast scrumping and shooting cum every which way, The Beast would’ve been a classic.  Unfortunately, the first hour (horse humping scenes excluded) of the flick is some of the most boring shit ever committed to celluloid.  One Star for the first half of the flick, Four Stars for the second.  That works out to be a ** ½ average.  Still worth a look for all the scenes of the monster using Sirpa Lane as a cum dumpster.


AKA:  The Beast in Heat.  AKA:  The Devil’s Ecstasy. 

MARNIE (1964) ***

Tippi Hedren stars as the titular dame, a compulsive thief (with a penchant for dying her hair) who freaks out every time there’s a lighting storm or whenever she sees the color red.  Sean Connery stars as her boss who catches Marnie with her hand in the cookie jar and blackmails her into marrying him.  He tries to figure out what makes the no-good lying and thieving chick tick and eventually falls in love with her. 


There are a lot of Alfred Hitchcock’s trademarked themes are at work in Marnie.  The scheming blonde, the overbearing mother, the domineering husband, etc. all figure prominently into the plot.  While this patchwork of ideas might have made for a classic, the problem is that the story is too thin to sustain its overlong running time.  Essentially, the film often feels like a two character play as Connery constantly dogs Tippi into remembering her bleak past. 


Marnie’s story maybe one-note, but at least the performances anchor the flick and keep you watching.  Hedren is quite good (especially whenever she goes into Freak Out mode) and Connery is excellent at playing a cold-blooded bastard.  I also had fun spotting a fresh-faced Bruce Dern (also in The Master’s Family Plot) popping up in a small but pivotal role. 


Since the film is basically just a bunch of scenes where Connery forces Marnie to remember a bunch of shit, it leaves little room for Hitchcock to work his cinematic magic.  The scenes where the screen turns red whenever Marnie wigs out was cool, although it seemed more like a William Castle gimmick than something you’d expect from Alfred Hitchcock.  There was also a decent scene where a frantic Marnie had to shoot her horse, but my favorite part was after she robs a safe.  Marnie goes to leave and notices a cleaning lady in the same room, so she takes great pains to sneak around her without being heard.  Then afterwards, we learn that the cleaning lady turned out to be deaf!  If the flick had more black comic moments like this one, it would’ve rocked.  I still like it quite a bit though.


Hitchcock (who makes his usual cameo while walking through a doorway) made Torn Curtain next. 

TOPAZ (1969) * ½

Alfred Hitchcock directed this boring as a dog’s ass spy flick about an American agent (John Forsythe) trying to bring down a global spy ring known only as “Topaz”.  The French also send an agent of their own (Frederick Stafford) to investigate and together with Forsythe; they get embroiled in some international intrigue with not only Russia, but Cuba as well.  Once Stafford figures everything out, he says:  “That’s the end of Topaz!”


You’ll wish he said it about an hour earlier.


I got pretty fed up with Topaz fairly quickly.  The opening scenes didn’t really draw me in to the movie and the comatose pacing sunk whatever chance the flick had to keep me engrossed in the story.  The plot is deliberately vague, which doesn’t help matters, and the international globe-hopping wasn’t nearly as interesting as it should’ve been.  By the time the movie was over, I just couldn’t find it in myself to give a shit about what the fuck was going on.


Usually Hitchcock films his movies with panache, but Topaz is flat and unremarkable.  The action doesn’t pop like it should and the flick on the whole just isn’t very suspenseful.  There are no memorable set pieces and none of The Master’s trademark touches are present.  (Save for his cameo at an airport.)  Of all of Hitchcock’s films I’ve seen, this one has to be the worst.


Forsythe (who was also in Hitchcock’s The Trouble With Harry) and Stafford make for two thoroughly bland leads that get lost in the shuffle of Hitchcock’s sprawling narrative.  Hitch would’ve been better off with two mannequins instead.  At least you get to ogle the sexy Karin (You Only Live Twice) Dor and have a little bit of fun seeing John (Animal House) Vernon as the Fidel Castro-esque Cuban leader.


After the failure of this film, Hitchcock retreated to his home turf of England to make his next picture, Frenzy. 


A scheming forger and a no-good card shark swindle a bunch of land from the honest, hardworking people of Mesquite, including the ranch owned by The Three Mesquiteers, Stony Brooke (John Wayne), Tucson Smith (Ray “Crash” Corrigan), and Lullaby Johnson (Max Terhune).  They fight back against the shady land snatchers and come to the aid of the oppressed townsfolk by robbing the villains’ tax collectors, and returning it back to the people a la Robin Hood.  They even get a boost from President Garfield, who helps them in their quest for justice. 


This was Wayne’s fifth time in the saddle as the leader of The Three Mesquiteers and it’s one of their best.  Props has to go to a beefier story, more despicable villains and better action scenes (featuring everything from shootouts, to runaway stagecoaches to barroom brawls).  Usually, these hour long programmers reuse the same plot again and again, but The Night Riders is a little different.  I especially enjoyed the way the Mesquiteers dressed up in white masks and capes and robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.


Wayne’s easy charisma carries the flick along and fine turns by Corrigan and Terhune help a lot too.  What gives The Night Riders the edge over the other Mesquiteer flicks is that the trio of do-gooders actually has a mythic kind of status in this one.  Sure, they were always the good guys, but here they attain a larger than life quality that they’ve never had before. 


Director George Sherman also helmed another Mesquiteer adventure, New Frontier the same year.


The Night Riders is a solid enough oater to make it go right to the Number 7 position on The Video Vacuum Top Ten for 1939, right below the Charles Laughton version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and just above the Dead End Kids’ flick, They Made Me a Criminal.


John Wayne stars as a Texas Ranger who is bringing a fugitive (Stuart Whitman) to justice while simultaneously tracking down a bunch of bad guys called The Comancheros.  These dudes make their bread by running guns to The Comanche Indians, who are looking to scalp any white man that gets in their way.  When Whitman proves himself in a fight, the Duke gives him a tin star and the duo goes off to infiltrate the Comancheros from the inside and take down their organization.


The Comancheros was the last film for director Michael (Casablanca) Curtiz, who died the following year.  (Supposedly, Curtiz was constantly ill during the making of the film and Wayne had to step in to direct some scenes.)  While having someone of Curtiz’s stature directing a Wayne oater seemed like a great idea, the film itself is pretty forgettable.  That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining.  I always enjoy a John Wayne movie just for John Wayne himself and he gives a solid performance in this one.  He’s a little cagier than usual in this flick and has good chemistry with Whitman.  Ultimately though, the flick runs on longer than it should and is kinda sparse in the action department.


The best thing about the picture though is Lee Marvin.  He does a marvelous job in his all too brief role as a drunkard Comanchero with a partially scalped noggin.  His scenes where he constantly bickers and spars with Wayne make the film worth a look, and will have you wishing his role was a lot bigger. 


But the film really belongs to John Wayne.  The Duke is the only man I know of who can wear a pink shirt and a white neckerchief and still look like a total badass.  For that fact alone I can’t bear to give the film any less than ** ½.


Don Henderson (AKA:  Tom Laughlin of Billy Jack fame) directed this uneven tale of a successful District Attorney (producer George E. Carey) who lusts after his sexy babysitter, Candy (Patricia Wymer).  While the hotshot lawyer is out tomcatting around with his nubile trollop, a biker’s moll takes pictures of him slipping the babysitter the old salami surprise and uses it to blackmail him into releasing her scumbucket biker boyfriend (biker movie staple and the original Mr. Clean, Robert Tessier) from prison.


The Babysitter was popular enough to spawn a semi-sequel, Weekend with the Babysitter two years later.  Like that flick, this one features way too much plot for its own good.  At least The Babysitter features lots of scenes of the old geezer actually balling the Lolita-esque Candy.  The weird thing about these films is the continuity.  In Weekend with the Babysitter, the role of Candy is played by another actress (Susan Romen) and even though both films star Carey, he plays an entirely different character in each movie. 


Not that any of this matters.  As with its sequel, The Babysitter is a pretty ordinary softcore May-December love story.  I’ll give this one the edge over Weekend as this one features a lot more titties than that flick did.  If you are a die hard Laughlin fan, you may want to check it out.