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Posts Tagged ‘Strange Movie Sunday’

It’s Strange Movie Sunday – the best day of the week. I’ve taken to visiting the Wikipedia page on the “List of films considered the worst” for inspiration. This week’s selection comes from that illustrious source. “The Robot Monster” is one in a long line of films featuring aliens who want to eradicate the human race. It just happens to involve a robot monster/alien that looks like a shag rug.

Cast of key characters:

  1. Aforementioned alien whose helmet appears to be made out of a metal bowl and two radio antennae.
  2. Alien overlord communicating orders from somewhere off-world.
  3. Human father who’s a scientist with a German accent.
  4. Human mother – no particularly distinguishing qualities.
  5. Alice, daughter, young, pretty, exceptional scientist.
  6. Roy, German accent-scientist’s assistant.
  7. Little boy – we could call him a little bit of a brat or we could say he’s “spirited.”
  8. Little girl – likes to play house a lot.

So basically, the little boy is on a picnic with his mother and two sisters. He sneaks off into a cave and encounters a terrifying alien.

……spoilers……

Suddenly and inexplicably, the little boy and his family are the only humans left alive. The alien has wiped out the rest of the population with a death ray, but the survivors are immune due to an antibiotic serum invented by the father and Roy. They’re hiding out in a protected headquarters. The alien can’t find them there but is aware of their existence and is trying to hunt them down.

The alien wants to speak to Alice for some reason, but her father and Roy won’t allow her to go. Her little brother once again sneaks away and goes to talk to the alien to discover why he hates them so much. He accidentally gives away the secret of the serum, which puts the alien on a quest to change the makeup of the death ray so it will effectively kill them.

Roy and Alice, who don’t get along in the flirtatious sort of way that indicates they’ll end up together, go out to find the little boy. Suddenly, Roy is accountably shirtless. When he sees the alien coming after him, he picks up Alice and runs away, surely less effective than both of them running on their own two feet.

 Roy and Alice are off somewhere outside their hideout. Not surprisingly, they start making out, return to the hideout and tell the rest that they want to get married. The father agrees to marry them. Alice finds some sort of filmy white cloth to use as a veil. Roy is still shirtless.

 The marriage is actually sort of bittersweet, as they’re the last humans and are being pretty brave about it.

 They go off to have their honeymoon somewhere outside the protection of their headquarters. The little girl comes after them to give them flowers as a present. They tell her to run back quickly but don’t follow her to make sure that actually happens.

 The alien catches up with her and strangles her, then attacks Alice and Roy, strangling Roy and carrying Alice away. She’s struggling, but she looks way happier than she’s supposed to. Roy wasn’t effectively strangled and manages to crawl back to the remaining survivors before falling over dead.

The little boy suggests a cunning plan. He’ll act as bait while the father and mother rescue Alice. No word on how the little boy is going to escape.

The alien has a strange connection to Alice and decides he wants to be human, something his alien overlord will not allow. He goes to meet the little boy, as planned, strangles him and is killed by the overlord. Father and mother are seen untying Alice. Perfect stratagem, except for the whole leaving the little boy vulnerable thing.

 Then the little boy is being woken up by archeologists he met before going into the cave and his mother and sisters. It was just a dream. Or was it, the audience wonders as the human robot emerges again from the cave and comes at the camera with his arms outstretched. Three times.

This film would be better if so much of it wasn’t spent on the human robot talking to his overlord and the surviving humans blabbing on amongst themselves.  The special effects also left a lot to be desired. At one point a rocket blows up, and it looks as if they spliced actual rocket footage with footage of a paper rocket being swung around on fishing line. In the credits, they mention a billion bubble machine, and the filmmakers must have wanted to get their money’s worth because they use it every chance they can – in the cave, in the overlord’s lair. I’m willing to believe that “billion” is not an exaggeration.

The movie also makes you feel like you’ve missed a scene when it jumps from the little boy on a picnic to a world with only a few living humans. It’s supposed to line up with the whole little boy having a dream/maybe it’s real theme, but it just makes the viewer confused. There are better ways to accomplish what they’re trying to do. The actors do manage to act a bit better than the cast of “Plan 9 From Outer Space” and at least there are no dancing angels a la “The Music Box” … and no Santa. (See the rest of the Strange Movie Sunday entries if that last sentence is confusing to you.)

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This Strange Movie Sunday selection is the mother of strange movies: “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” This film has the distinction of being called the worst movie ever made, and it certainly makes a valiant effort at living up to its name.

It has zombies, vampires and pretentious aliens who wear ridiculous clothing and are trying to stop humans from developing a bomb that could blow up sunlight. Although, in some moods, I feel the main alien has a point when he says “all you of earth are IDIOTS!”

When I first watched this, the DVD included a number of special features, among them, a person reading off the many things wrong with this movie, which went on for several minutes. Think of any characteristic that makes for a good film and this movie will be lacking it – meaningful plot? No. Good acting? Absolutely not. Eloquent dialogue? No. Suspenseful action? Well, it tries.

The one thing this film does manage to have is entertainment value. It’s the embodiment of the idea “it’s so bad, it’s good.”

Everything is unrealistic and ridiculous, and that can be pretty amusing.  I would suggest watching this with a bunch of people who haven’t gotten enough sleep and are in the mood to laugh at everything.

If you enjoy this movie, you may also enjoy the film that depicts the life of its director – “Ed Wood,” starring Johnny Depp. In it, you’ll learn that Wood wasn’t one for reshooting a scene, but if you watch “Plan 9 From Outer Space” first, you’ll know that already.

I’ll just close with a line from the movie’s narrator: “My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts about grave robbers from outer space?” And also, “can you prove it didn’t happen?”

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It’s Strange Movie Sunday – be excited!

For this week’s Strange Movie Sunday, I selected “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.” The title itself is a masterpiece of strangeness. I had been planning to feature a different movie involving low-budget child cannibals, but when I started watching it, I realized I’m just not in a cannibalistic mood tonight. Maybe next time.

I’m going to review “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” in a sort of live blogging, stream of consciousness style – just because.

“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” or SCCM, as it’s commonly known, opens with a new broadcast from Santa’s workshop in the North Pole. Apparently he thinks one of his reindeer is named Nixon?

The reporter makes the fatal mistake of saying he hopes any inhabitants of Mars have someone like Santa Claus to bring good cheer to all the children.

He’s overheard by the Martians, who apparently are humanoids who wear strange green garb and smear green makeup on their faces. Their children spend their days watching educational programs broadcast from earth. Also, they must live fairly grim lives, as the first two children we encounter have the following exchange after hearing these terms on the TV:

Child 1: What are dolls?

Child 2: I don’t know. What is tender loving care?

Child 1: I don’t know.

Their elders go to seek advice from the old wise man of the wood who tells them they need a Santa Claus on Mars because their children never have the chance to have fun. So they set out to steal him because “Earth has had Santa long enough.”

They kidnap a couple of kids on earth, take them to the North Pole; the kids escape and go to warn Santa, blah, blah, blah.

I was getting a bit bored, but suddenly the most hilarious looking fake polar bear has risen from the snowy landscape and chased the children, who find it difficult to look convincingly scared.

And now, the little girl mistakes a very tin-canny robot for Santa’s workshop. I think she may need an eye exam. And the evil Martian (most of them aren’t evil, but this one is, as evidenced by his ferocious mustache) is telling the robot to crush them. The good Martian prevents them from being crushed.

The robot enters Santa’s workshop. Santa greets him by telling him he’s the biggest toy he’s ever seen. Santa is captured, and later Mrs. Claus positively identifies the kidnappers as Martians because there’s nothing else that men in green capes could possibly be.

Santa is a charming fellow who tells jokes like this one: What’s something that’s soft and round and you put it on a stick and you toast it in the fire and it’s green.

A martianmellow. Har, har, har…knee slap.

The evil Martian traps Santa and the children in a room with the door to space opening in 60 seconds. The suspense is killing me. The Martians have a hilariously fake fight, and Santa and the kids escape through the air vent.

They’ve landed on Mars. Santa makes kids laugh. Ho ho ho. Then Santa is told he’ll never go back to earth. Oh noes!

One of the Martian’s dresses in Santa’s other suit and is kidnapped by the evil Martian due to mistaken identity.

The Martians have a “nuclear curtain” that disintegrates people when they pass through it, but the nuclear curtain machine can be effectively sabotaged by switching two light bulbs.

The evil Martian is attacked by toys and children as Santa laughs maniacally.

I won’t spoil the ending for you. I’ll just say that Santa and the earth children are able to return home and Mars continues to have a cheery Santa-ish presence.

This film certainly won’t bump “The Christmas Story,” “A Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” out of their spots as Christmas favorites, but at least it gave me a new joke to tell.

Martianmellows. Hilarious. And there’s a catchy ending tune. Hooray for Santy Claus!!!!!

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When I was a kid, my dad had this tendency to rent movies that the family ended up hating. My family were very conservative Christians (we didn’t even have a television for most of my childhood, but that’s a story for another time), so he usually selected films from our local Christian bookstore. Some of those were pretty terrible. One featured a British family screaming at each other for the majority of the movie, and he kept forgetting we’d seen it and renting it again.

For this first Strange Movie Sunday, I’ve decided to review one of those ill-fated rentals that we both hated and kind of loved because of its oddity: “The Music Box.”

The movie opens with the main character screwing tops on what look to be plastic containers of antifreeze in a factory. Is that a real job? Because while it would be terrible in most ways, there are days when I wish my career was as stress-free and mindless.

As he wends his way cheerlessly home, he’s startled to hear the sounds of a music box wafting through the bleak streets.

Suddenly, the heavenly hosts appear.

And they are angels dressed in white tuxedos with tiny wings on their back who burst into gospel song and dance. The dancing is … special. Let’s just say that I think Michael Jackson might be one of the angels.

As suddenly as they appeared, they disappear, leaving behind a music box that plays the tune they sang for our weary protagonist.

His wife is shocked when he returns home, greets her with a kiss and actually says hello to their son. Apparently screwing on bottle caps also sours your personality. Instead of sharing his music box discovery with her, he listens to it in secret. Can’t say I blame him much for that, as the music makes him break into what are, frankly, quite embarrassing dance moves.

The next morning he decides to share something “of great importance” with his wife and son who are giving him the stink-eye for the happy way he’s eating his cereal but chickens out and tells them he was named employee of the month at the plant.

Every chance he can get, he’s listening to the music box – even gargling the tune while he’s brushing his teeth, which is as painful to watch as it sounds. His wife can’t understand why he’s so happy. She says he’s changed so much she feels like he’s lost to her. She’d think he was someone else, but he’s home with her all the time, except for when he goes and hides in the bathroom or the closet. Um…

He knows he should tell her, but he’s afraid. He’ll tell her as soon as he figures out how to say it. Um…

The angels return while he is sleeping. Their little white wings are super creepy, if I’m being honest.

They tell him he’s not supposed to hoard his gift. “It was meant to be shared.” He’s not sure about that, but when they break into song and dance in his bedroom, his wife wakes up and is in on the secret. She’s a bit nervous at first. I would be too if I awoke to find four men with white gloves dancing in my bedroom. She gets over her fright surprisingly quickly, and their son wanders in, and everyone joins in the dance.

Then our mustachioed protagonist begins sharing the music box’s gift of song, holding it out his window, calling his friends and playing it over the phone. Then everything is happy and wonderful and the movie ends.

Now, I know the music box is supposed to represent the gospel, but I think my own takeaway message is that campy dancing angels make everything better.

If you’d like to enjoy this fine film yourself, there is a link below. If you have any suggestions for Strange Movie Sunday, feel free to leave a comment.

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