Friday, February 22, 2008

Hall of Strangeness Part XXVI

Space is the Place – (John Coney) Returning to Earth in his jazz-powered spaceship, a pharaoh-decked Sun-Ra finds the black people unfairly oppressed and vows to teleport them to a planet with “better vibrations” (even against their own will). A Seventh Seal style tarot match with an evil pimp, The Overseer, ensues with cosmologic stakes. While attempting to be provocative and experimental, “Space is the Place” only succeeds at inspiring bemusement and wonderful blaxploitation cheesiness.
Artistry: * Fun: *** Strangeness: *****

Spider Baby – (Jack Hill) In a dilapidated California mansion, the butler (Lon Chaney Jr.) of the late Mr. Merrye takes care of three young wards. Each is in different stages of Merrye Syndrome (guess where the name comes from) which combines juvenile behavior with violent spidery tendencies and occasional physical mutations. The low-budget fun goes up a notch when four clueless yuppies arrive. Surprisingly good acting raises the amusing material in this long-lost cult horror film.
Artistry: *** Fun: **** Strangeness: ***

Stagefright – (Michele Soavi) In 1987 Michele Soavi almost single-handedly resurrected the Italian giallo. After apprenticing under Dario Argento and Terry Gilliam, Soavi conceived this film about a serial killer on the loose at a stage production of a serial killer musical. Most effective is the mysterious villain who dons an enormous owl mask for the majority of the film and seems to be collecting corpses for a monstrous tableau of his own. Made vulnerable by an uninspired script with a fair share of plot holes, but ultimately rescued by its commitment and style.
Artistry: ** Fun: **** Strangeness: **

Stalker – (Andrei Tarkovsky) A writer and a scientist ask a guide with a crippled daughter to lead them into an evacuated government-restricted wilderness called “the Zone.” Years earlier an asteroid landed in the Zone and a military facility was built to investigate. At the very center lies “the Room,” a place where wishes are mysteriously granted. If the three travelers can survive the invisible traps surrounding the room and keep their true motivations a secret, they may have their dreams fulfilled… but maybe not. An elaborate and lugubrious mediation on faith with stunning, influential camerawork.
Artistry: **** Fun: * Strangeness: ****

Star Crash – (Luigi Cozzi) This heinously awful attempt to ride on the fame of Star Wars will be a blast for any trash-loving retrophilliac. It was made in the weeks immediately following the release of Star Wars and marketed to an intended audience of people who don’t check the exact titles on the marquees. Star Crash stars David Hasselhoff (of Baywatch "fame") and Carolina Munro in some oddly impractical outfits (I doubt bikinis are protected against the vacuum of space). Set in a galaxy so “far, far away” and alien that our own race can not hope to grasp its logic or dialogue.
Artistry: * Fun: **** Strangeness: ***

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Why do we not own stagefright?

The owl killer is the best villian ever.