November 18th, 2009

POOR PRETTY EDDIE (1975) **

An R & B singing sensation named Liz (Leslie Uggams) goes on vacation to get away from it all.  Her car breaks down in a small redneck town and she winds up staying in a crappy motel ran by the mentally imbalanced Eddie (Michael Christian) who immediately gets a crush on her.  This predictably makes his fat and ugly ex-stripper girlfriend (Shelley Winters) jealous.  Despite her protestations, Eddie sets out to woo Liz.  And by woo I mean kidnap and rape her.  Since everyone in the town is an A-1 nutbar, the sheriff (Slim Pickens) doesn’t see a problem with that and even gets the whole town together for their “wedding”.  Luckily, the one decent guy in town (Ted Cassidy) decides to break up the nuptials with a shotgun.

 

Poor Pretty Eddie is marinated in a grimy grindhouse atmosphere that sorta worked.  Much of the film is muddy looking but that kinda enhances the overall mood.  Unfortunately, it’s all pretty tasteless; even for my usually low standards.  There is a buffet of loathsomeness here.  While the scene where Liz gets molested in front of the entire VFW was bad, I say the film hit the bottom of the barrel during the first rape scene.  Director Chris Robinson (not the guy from The Black Crowes) crossed the line when he edited a pair of humping dogs in with the attack.  I mean there’s poor taste and there’s no taste.  This scene is a case of the latter.  It gives new meaning to the term, Doggystyle.

 

Although the film isn’t a whole heck of a lot of fun, the great supporting cast keeps you watching.  In addition to Shelley Winters’ over-acting, you can enjoy western veterans Dub Taylor and Slim Pickens (playing yet another slow-witted sheriff) as two of the viler community members.  I also dug the understated work of Cassidy.  I had no idea that Lurch from The Addams Family was such a good actor.

 

Taylor gets the best line of the movie when he says, “I don’t care if she farts Channel No. 5!”

 

AKA:  Heartbreak Motel.  AKA:  Redneck County.  AKA:  Redneck County Rape.  AKA:  Black Vengeance. 

THE UNDEFEATED (1969) ** ½

John Wayne stars as a Union colonel who gets a job corralling horses after the end of the Civil War.  While on the trail, he runs into his Rebel counterpart (Rock Hudson) who is taking a wagon train of people to start a new life in Mexico.  Despite their obvious differences, the two men earn each other’s respect before going their separate ways.  When Rock’s people get kidnapped by some greasy Mexican revolutionaries, The Duke steps in to help out his new pal and kick a little ass.

 

The pairing of the machoest man in film history, John Wayne with gay icon Rock Hudson is a strange one indeed.  The good news is that they make a solid team.  The bad news is that the story is pretty flat and overlong.

 

The film does have a terrific opening scene.  Wayne leads his troops into battle and they quickly massacre a bunch of Rebel soldiers.  Then a messenger comes onto the battlefield and announces that the war was over three days ago.  The look of disgust that Wayne gives to the fallen soldiers on both sides is memorable and only goes to show that The Duke was a much better actor than many gave him credit for.

 

What takes The Undefeated down a notch is the ungodly amount filler in the middle section.  (The subplot about Wayne’s adopted Indian son romancing a Southern Belle is particularly gratuitous.)  Once The Duke and Hudson join forces, things pick up considerably.  Director Andrew V. McLaglen’s pacing is uneven to be sure, but he does give us a pretty good Yankees vs. Confederates fight scene.  It’s not as good as the immortal mud pit brawl from McLintock, but it’s still tight.  McLaglen re-teamed with Wayne the next year for Chisum.

SUPERGATOR (2007) ** ½

Supergator is exactly the sort of thing you would expect from a Sci-Fi Ch… err… Sy Fy Channel Original Movie produced by Roger Corman.  This time instead of say, a giant mutant snake terrorizing a carnival or something, it’s an enormous genetically-engineered prehistoric alligator attacking an island luau.  Everything else is practically the same; including the characters.  There’s the stern faced scientist, the great white hunter, the stupid teens, and of course, the extremely shitty looking CGI monster. 

 

The film is no better or worse than it should be.  The gore is better than average though.  Supergator bites off heads, arms, and legs; leaving lots of CGI blood in it’s wake.  Most of the film is kinda ho-hum but things do get quite lively during the finale when Supergator starts chowing down on hula girls, tourists, and chicks in bikinis.  There are even attempts at humor (a gay fashion photographer gets eaten), which is always appreciated.  (I emphasize the word “attempts”.) 

 

The acting is crappy but you probably knew that already.  Giving the worst performance of probably her career; Kelly McGillis looks almost as bad as she acts.  She has aged about as well as a turd in the sun.  With her craggily face and closely cropped gray hair, she looks like Judi Dench’s stunt double.  Top Gun wasn’t THAT long ago, was it?  Brad (Always) Johnson fares slightly better and he sorta looks like Tom Berenger’s disinterested brother or something.

 

The great white hunter dude gets the best line of the movie when he says, “She called it a Supergator.  I just didn’t realize how super it was!”

BABA YAGA (1973) ***

Valentina (Isabelle de Funes) is a sultry fashion photographer who has a run-in with the mysterious Baba Yaga (Carroll Baker), a MILFy witch.  Baba Yaga immediately becomes obsessed with the delectable photog and pretty soon, she’s sending Valentina bizarre gifts (like a kinky S & M Barbie doll) and playing odd pranks on her (she turns her camera into a death magnet).  As Valentina falls deeper under Baba Yaga’s spell, it’s up to her smug cartoonist boyfriend (George Eastman, the Grim Reaper himself) to save her from the clutches of the bitchy witch.

 

A lot of Baba Yaga is pointlessly artsy-fartsy for the sake of being artsy-fartsy.  There’s a sex scene that’s almost entirely comprised of still photographs as well as a bunch of completely random dream sequences that help pad the running time.  While the film is uneven and disjointed, I still dug it for it’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink attitude.  I mean how can you go wrong when your movie features mature lesbian witches, sexy fashion photographers, nude modeling, cameras that kill, Nazi dream sequences, and dolls that come to life and become S & M sex slaves?

 

Carroll Baker does an OK job as the title character.  She looks alright I guess but she doesn’t really radiate the air of sexuality the character needed.  De Funes is the reason to check the flick out.  Her sexy wide-eyed stare and absolute willingness to disrobe at the drop of a hat totally endeared her to me. 

 

AKA:  Baby Yaga, Devil Witch.  AKA:  The Devil Witch.  AKA:  Kiss Me Kill Me.  AKA:  Black Magic.