October 30th, 2008

SUPERHERO MOVIE (2008) **

Spoofmeister David (The Naked Gun) Zucker produced this sporadically amusing send-up of superhero movies.  You’d think that superheroes would be a ripe target for a movie like this, but the gags in Superhero Movie miss more often than not. 

 

Drake Bell stars as a high school nerd who gets bitten by a radioactive dragonfly and turns into a superhero named… Dragonfly.  Christopher MacDonald plays the villain, Hourglass who can zap people of their youth just by touching them.  (Just like The 4-D Man!)  Of course they fight each other and end up being the butt of several (mostly unfunny) jokes.

 

Director Craig Mazin (who also did the superhero themed comedy The Specials) spends too much time trying to ape the look of the superhero genre and not enough time on putting in funny gags.  Although most of the jokes center around the Spider-Man films, Superhero Movie is at its best when it’s parodying X-Men.  Tracey Morgan is pretty funny as Professor X but the Barry Bonds cameo is the best.  When he takes a bunch of steroids, he’s able to shoot lasers out of his eyes like Cyclops!  Brilliant. 

 

There are a handful of random ass cameos that almost makes things worthwhile.  Robert (Death Wish V) Joy was great as Stephen Hawking and Simon (Scary Movie 3) Rex had a few good moments as The Human Torch.  I also enjoyed seeing Robert Hays (who starred in Airplane, the one that started it all) in the Batman Begins style flashbacks as the Dragonfly’s father. 

 

Unfortunately like the film’s hero, most of the gags don’t fly.  While a lot of the jokes are aimed squarely at computer obsessed teens (there are numerous Craigslist, Myspace and Facebook references), they are still preferable to the desperateness of the likes of Date Movie and Meet the Spartans.  At least you can always count on Leslie Nielsen for some funny shit.  Whether he’s shooting people in the nuts with a nail gun, humping corpses, or talking about bitches, he’s the best thing about the movie.  He also gets the flick’s best line when he tells his wife:  “Your thighs look like cottage cheese someone threw up on the sidewalk on a hot summer day.”

PINK ANGELS (1971) **

Pink Angels is the first gay biker movie.  Imagine if Gregg Araki directed Easy Rider and this might be what you get.  The flick is all about the titular motorcycle gang taking a road trip to a drag queen ball and along the way they predictably get hassled by The Man.  In the film’s best scene, The Pink Angels play a prank on a bunch of straight bikers by putting make-up on them while they’re passed out.  In the end, the transvestite bikers run into a deranged general on a hippie hunting mission who strings them all up by their necks for being a little bit… different.

 

What separates The Pink Angels from other biker movies of the era is that instead of getting harassed for having long hair and being hippies, the bikers get harassed for being homosexuals and cross dressers.  The overly swishy performances will ensure that this film won’t win any GLAD Awards, but at least it doesn’t paint its gay characters in a negative light, the way most films at the time would’ve. 

 

On the downside, the episodic nature of the film leads to a choppy narrative and sloppy pacing.  The extended scenes of gay bikers partying while irritating hippie music plays in the background is just as annoying as the similar scenes found in straight biker movies like The Hellcats and The Wild Rebels and the long ass montages of people driving around on motorcycles only helps to pad the running time.  Despite the fact that the movie is all about gay bikers, that doesn’t stop the filmmakers from tossing in a moderate amount of topless women into the mix, which is always a good thing. 

 

Michael (Rocky IV) Pataki and Grizzly Adams himself, Dan Haggerty co-star as hetero bikers.

SINGLE ROOM FURNISHED (1968) ½ *

Jayne Mansfield stars in her last performance playing three different characters in this dull and depressing flick from her husband Matt Cimber.  In one vignette she plays Johnnie, an unhappy newlywed who has a miscarriage after her husband leaves her.  In the next, she plays a pregnant waitress and in the finale, she portrays a prostitute whose stalker John commits suicide after she calls him a “monkey”.  There’s also an overlong segment about a lonely fisherwoman and an overweight dock worker that gives new meaning to the word tedious.

 

Mansfield died before this flick was completed, so that explains all of the unnecessary padding.  The boring scenes involving various other people living in the apartment complex aren’t nearly as interesting as the stuff involving Jayne.  There’s also an odd “tribute” to Mansfield given by none other than Walter Winchell that opens the film that feels out of place as well.

 

Single Room Furnished is borderline unwatchable.  Too much of the film feels like a stage bound play and a lot of the supporting cast seem like rejects from an off-off-off Broadway play.   Jayne is OK though in a rare serious role but most of the “drama” in this flick is tepid and uninvolving.  The problem is that you don’t want to see Jayne Mansfield “act”; you want to see her being a sex goddess.  Unfortunately you have to wait a long time for her to look hot and that's only near the end when she’s playing the prostitute character.  The flashbacks and flashbacks within flashbacks don’t help matters any either.

 

Cimber later directed such classics as Lady Cocoa and Hundra.

BLOOD MANIA (1970) ***

Peter (Point of Terror) Carpenter stars as a crooked doctor who is treating a terminally ill crotchety old millionaire.  The old timer has an insanely hot daughter (Maria de Aragon) and she’s always trying to get Pete to hop into the sack with her, but he stupidly says uh-uh.  When Pete’s blackmailed for doing back alley abortions, he schemes with Maria to do her daddy in and grab some of that inheritance cash.  They kill the old man, but as fate would have it, Maria’s equally hot sister (Vicki Peters) is the one who gets the estate.  Predictably, Carpenter makes a play for her in order to get his grubby hands on the loot, which sends Maria in a… you guessed it, Blood Mania.

 

Promoted as a horror flick, Blood Mania is actually more of a modern day film noir.  Its strengths are that most of the chicks in the cast get naked a lot and/or have long, drawn out sex scenes.  Seriously, whenever the plot threatens to thicken one of the dames will toss all their clothes on the floor and do the horizontal Hokey Pokey with Carpenter.  It’s that kind of movie.  My favorite scene though was when de Aragon tries to seduce the hapless pool boy.  After she pops her top and comes on to him he says, “I’ve heard of people like you!” before turning tail and running away.  What a fucking idiot! 

 

Blood Mania is not a perfect movie.  I certainly could have done without that Renaissance Fair montage, that’s for damn sure.  The ending kinda sucks, but I’m willing to forgive director Robert Vincent (Avenging Angel) O’Neil since he built the rest of the movie up decently.  That and he threw in lots of topless broads too.

 

De Aragon later played Greedo in Star Wars.