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January 30th, 2017

THE SUPER INFRAMAN (1975) ***

What are you going to do when Princess Dragon Mom awakens and sends her mutant monsters to destroy the world? Well, if you’re the Professor, you get an average Joe and equip him with a nuclear suit complete with “Thunderball Fists” and rocket boots. Then you name him “Super Inframan” and send him to fight the monsters.

Part Ultraman, part Power Rangers, part Godzilla, The Super Inframan is good goofy fun. If you’re a fan of men in rubber monster suits getting thrown around, stomped on, and squished, you’re going to have a ball with this movie. There’s a tentacle monster that shoots acid, a red insect that grows to enormous size, a reptilian creature with knives for hands, a fire-breathing monster, and a pair of twins that have detachable heads attached to industrial-strength Slinkys.

Princess Dragon Mom is a cool villain. She looks like a dominatrix cosplaying as Rita Repulsa. Her climactic battle with Inframan is awesome too. She turns into a dragon and he cuts her head off, but it keeps growing back. So he does it again and again until finally there are about a dozen heads on the ground.

The scenes that don’t revolve around cheesy monsters aren’t nearly as much fun, but you probably already knew that. It’s kind of like watching porn. You could probably fast forward right past the dialogue scenes and still not miss a damn thing.

What really matters is the monster mashing. There’s some damn fine monster fights in this movie. We also get some trippy visuals and colorful psychedelic sets too.

I only wish the filmmakers doubled down on the weirdness. Although the monster fights are fun, they do get a bit repetitive and interchangeable after a while. That’s a minor quibble, especially when so many men in rubber monster suits are punched, thrown, torched, and dismembered in a span of 90 minutes.

AKA: Infra-Man. AKA: The Infra Superman. AKA: Zombie 13: The Bionic Zombie. AKA: Chinese Superman.

THE MAFU CAGE (1978) **

Lee Grant’s social life is pretty much ruined because she has to take care of her nutcase sister, Carol Kane. Because their deceased father spent a lot of time in Africa, Kane thinks that if she keeps the place looking like the Dark Continent, daddy will somehow come home. Grant gives Kane a series of pet apes to cage up and play with, but inevitably, she snaps and kills them. Grant starts up a romance with a co-worker, which makes the jealous Kane become increasingly deranged. When he drops by the house unexpectedly, Kane proceeds to make a monkey out of him.

The Mafu Cage was based on a play and it certainly shows. The whole film feels stage-bound due to the lack of supporting characters and limited location work. Kane’s performance is overly theatrical too, but she at least is unhinged enough to keep you watching. In fact, her performance is just about the only worthwhile thing about the movie. Whenever she flips out on someone, she gets all bug-eyed and starts saying, “Dumb shit” over and over again. There’s even a scene in which she dresses up in blackface as witch doctor to kill someone! Grant has the thankless task of trying to be her sister’s keeper. Although she isn’t bad, she’s never really given much of a character to play.

Those expecting a horror movie might be disappointed. The focus is more on Kane’s psychological deterioration while Grant struggles to break free from her. The horrific elements are subdued, as is the incestuous relationship between the two sisters. I don’t know that if the filmmakers went a more exploitative route that it would’ve been necessarily been better, but it definitely would’ve been more memorable.

AKA: Deviation. AKA: My Sister, My Love. AKA: The Cage. AKA: Don’t Ring the Doorbell.

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