September 12th, 2009

SPIRITUAL KUNG FU (1978) ** ½

A ninja steals a sacred book detailing the “7 Fists” style from a Shaolin temple.  Since Jackie Chan was on guard and let them steal the book, he gets punished.  Later, a bunch of ghosts show up and haunt the temple.  Jackie fights the ghosts and eventually earns their respect.  They teach him Kung Fu so he’ll be able to get back the book from the no-good thief and return honor to the temple.

 

Spiritual Kung Fu probably shouldn’t work as well as it does.  I mean the ghosts look like Kate Bush dressed like Raggedy Ann and the special effects are the same kind used by Cable Access shows.  What’s more, the ghosts seem shoehorned into the mix and only have about two scenes where they really do anything cool. 

 

I guess the filmmakers had to spice things up somehow.  The plot is strictly your standard Good Clan vs. Bad Clan stuff, so the goofy ass ghosts really make the movie stand out from the rest of the pack.  Chan gives a funny performance and the above average Kung Fu choreography helps whenever things start getting too silly.  (There is beyond-the-grave flatulence humor.)  Spiritual Kung Fu is no classic or anything, but those weirdo ginger-headed clown-faced karate-chopping ghosts are the kind of thing you don’t easily forget.

 

Director Lo Wei reused the scenes of Jackie catching frogs and worms in his pants for Fearless Hyena 2.

 

AKA:  Karate Ghostbuster.

BEACH BLANKET BINGO (1965) **

Frankie Avalon wants to try skydiving.  His girlfriend Annette Funicello wants to do it too but Frankie says ixnay to that.  His typically chauvinistic reasoning behind that is that it’s too dangerous of a sport for girls.  Annette then seeks out to prove her boyfriend wrong by jumping out of a plane and parachuting.  Meanwhile, Frankie’s pal Bonehead falls in love with a mermaid and the dumb ass biker Eric Von Zipper kidnaps a singer.

 

Beach Blanket Bingo was the fifth entry in the Frankie and Annette Beach Party Movies.  The only other Beach Party Movie I’ve seen was Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, so I’m not the best judge of quality for this series, but this was pretty damn weak.  It’s only slightly better than Ghost in the Invisible Bikini as there were actually a handful of funny gags in this one.

 

I thought it was sorta bizarre that hardly any damn time was spent playing Beach Blanket Bingo.  The only time Frankie and Company play it is during the opening credits.  The flick should’ve really been called Beach Blanket Skydiving because that’s what the whole movie is about.  I guess when you’re singing a really crappy song, “Skydiving” is a harder word to rhyme with than “Bingo”.

 

Another thing that struck me as odd about the movie was the subplot involving the mermaid.  It doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the film and only serves as an excuse to give Bonehead a bigger role.  The real reason I think the mermaid was even there was because she was played by the insanely hot Marta Kristen from Lost in Space.  

 

I don’t care how inane the mermaid scenes in this movie were, they were at least a hundred times better than any of the parts with Eric von Zipper.  This guy is odiously unfunny and grated on my fucking nerves every second he was on screen.  Thank God he gets sawed in half during the Perils of Pauline inspired finale. 

 

I’ve never been a Beach Party fan, so this movie may just not have been my cup of Mad Dog 20/20.  On one hand, you had about a half dozen truly nauseating songs.  On the other hand, you had a bunch of hot chicks in bikinis (including a young Linda Evans).  Then again, you had to put up with Annette’s constant feminist protesting.  Still, you had some cameos by the always reliable Paul Lynde, Don Rickles, and Buster Keaton, who at least made things bearable.  So it’s pretty much a toss-up.

 

The best line of dialogue came at the very end when Annette asked Frankie if he believed in mermaids and he incomprehensibly replies:  “Is there a moon?  Is there a sky?  Are there dreams?”  Try working THAT into a normal conversation sometime.  EXAMPLE:  “Hey, are you going to finish your fries?”  REPLY:  “Is there a moon?  Is there a sky?  Are there dreams?”