November 30th, 2009

THE PIT (1981) ***

“I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you… after all, I’m only twelve!” 


So says Jamie, the hero of The Pit.  He’s a psycho kid who has a talking teddy bear with glowing red eyes that orders him to throw people into a giant hole so they can be eaten by hairy troglodytes.  When he isn’t out doing that, he’s trying to get a glimpse of his babysitter’s tits or blackmailing the foxy librarian into taking off her top so he can snap Polaroids of her boobs.


You know, this Jamie kid reminds me a lot of myself at that age; except that I never had a possessed teddy bear and fed assholes to troglodytes.


Anyway, after Jamie disposes of a good half dozen people, he decides to show his babysitter the pit.  She promptly falls in and becomes Troglodyte Chow.  Having just lost his object of lust, Jamie gets all Emo and gives up tending to the monsters.  He allows them to escape and they run rampant eating skinny-dippers until being shot down by a lynch mob.


The Pit suffers from a disjointed plot and an inconsistent tone (it veers from humor to horror with mixed results) but it’s loaded with enough random weirdness to qualify it as a minor classic.  I’ve never seen a movie before or since that combines killer kids, talking teddy bears, and carnivorous cavemen so effectively.  The highlight of the flick was the hilarious scene where Jaime kidnaps a wheelchair bound old lady and gives her the old heave ho into the pit.  Coming in a close second was the part where Jamie ogled over the pictures of the naked librarian with Teddy. 


Like most horror films, The Pit concludes with the obligatory set-up for a sequel.  Tragically, that never happened.  It’s a shame too because The Pit is legit.


AKA:  Teddy.

HELLGATE (1989) ** ½

A guy sees his hot daughter (Abigail Wolcott) get killed by unruly bikers in the 50’s and gets revenge by chopping them up with an axe.  Later, he finds a magic crystal that has the power to bring dead bats back to life (as well as make turtles and goldfish explode).  Naturally, he uses that hunk of rock to resurrect daddy’s little girl.  Forty years later, the dead daughter goes around picking up hitchhikers and lures them back to her father’s tourist trap western-themed ghost town.  Four college kids make a wrong turn and wind up in the ghost town and the sexy succubus sets her sights on turning the ringleader (Ron Palillo, Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter!) into her new loverboy.


Hellgate’s narrative is clunky because it keeps hopping back and forth from the 80’s to the 50’s.  It has a lot of good ideas but director William A. (Blackenstein) Levey doesn’t make too many of them stick.  Still, how many movies do you know of feature exploding turtles and goldfish?  Wolcott gets naked a lot and the gore (decapitated heads, axes into the skull, etc.) is passable, so there’s always something to keep you interested.


You know, I was going to deduct One Star from this movie because it showed me Horshack buck ass naked.  On second thought, I decided not to since very few horror films are actually horrifying.  And let me tell ya something folks; seeing Horshack naked is the true meaning of horror.


Palillo also starred in Levey’s Skatetown, USA.

THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T (1953) ***

Bartholomew (Tommy Rettig) hates taking piano lessons from the odious Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conried) so he takes a nap instead of practicing.  When he wakes up, Bartholomew is horrified to discover that he is being held prisoner by Dr. T in his fortress.  Dr. T’s big plan is to kidnap 500 kids and force them to play endlessly on his big ass piano.  Bartholomew wants no part of that and with the help of a kindly plumber (Peter Lynd Hayes), they plot to escape.


The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T was co-written by Dr. Seuss and as a result, it’s the only live action Seuss film that actually “gets” Seuss.  It’s much better than say Ron Howard’s abominable Grinch movie.  The art design is awesome and the film looks like a living breathing Dr. Seuss book.  Because of that, it’s highly recommended. 


Story-wise, it’s very similar to The Wizard of Oz in many ways (it’s all a dream, people from the kid’s life appear in the dream, etc.).  I personally think it’s better than Oz, but that’s just me.  The reason is that Tommy Rettig gives one of the best performances by a child actor ever.  He’s quite likeable and doesn’t go overboard with trying to act cute.  Conried also puts in a quirky turn as the megalomaniacal Dr. T.


The flick has it’s share of problems which prevents it from being a true classic.  Nearly all of the musical numbers go on too long and aren’t very memorable.  The story is also stretched too thin for too long but these are all rather minor qualms and won’t get in the way of your enjoyment.


This was a big flop and subsequently, it took five decades before another live action Seuss movie was made.


AKA:  Crazy Music.