Tag Archives: Cult

BLOG: YTC_Hollyweird: Episode XIX: Banzai Drop

Follow me on Twitter: @You_Total_Cult.

In the short term, the YTC podcast can currently be found at http://www.chrisandphilpresent.co.uk/blogs/youtotalcult/

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The blog below was under an older name of Hollyweird. I have kept the numbering the same so that I could keep track of my posts, but this is where it all begin back in the heyday of 2012…

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As some of my readers (all two of them) may have noticed, the last few Hollyweird entries have been a little more academic than some of my earlier posts.

When I first started this blog my initial aim was to write about movies that can be found somewhat off of the beaten track just to give them some exposure. However they were not so heavily dissected as the movies in my most recent posts. Although I am enjoying these more focused critiques I also do not want to lose sight of the sheer ‘weird’ in Hollyweird.

So to remind myself and my readers (both of them) the simple value in cataloguing forgotten, undervalued or even over -valued oddities, this Hollyweird is dedicated to prime example of a one-of-a-kind flick, The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension.

BBAT8D (as the film will henceforth be known)is somewhat akin to the Indiana Jones series. The film is built on the pretence that Buckaroo is a well known adventurer and this is just another one of one of his wacky exploits.

Unlike Indiana Jones though, Buckaroo Banzai is not *just* and academic and a hero- he is a whole renaissance man. Viewers are dropped into a world where it is a well established fact that Buckaroo Banzai is a top level physicist, a talented neurosurgeon, a brave test pilot and a best selling rock star. He even spear-heads an entire scientific research plant called The Banzai Institute that is dedicated to nothing less than the betterment of mankind.

Imagine, if you will, that Bruce Wayne called a press conference and said to all of the worlds media and governments ‘I’m Batman. I am outstanding at absolutely everything. Let’s all work together to save humanity and then we can play some gigs in our downtime ’.

What a guy!

Then again, perhaps the Batman comparison is not apt enough since Buckaroo Banzai is played by none other than Robocop himself, Mr. Peter Weller.

It’s a visual realization of an analogy! Oooh!

 

Buckaroo is surrounded by his close confidants from The Banzai Institute. Each one of his crack team is an expert in their respective field. So long as they will fight injustice, can play instruments on stage, and are seemingly willing to wear pastel colours, then they’re a part of his crew.

Collectively his fellow scientists/adventurers/band mates are known as The Hong Kong Cavaliers. Not a great band name, but then neither was Supergrass and they did alright for themselves.

As this particular adventure begins, Banzai is trying out his latest invention- a car that can drive through solid matter. Buckaroo drives it right through a mountain via bypassing the mysterious realm of the 8th dimension.

Fuck Team Edward. Team Banzai!

 

Meanwhile, off in a Loony Bin somewhere is John Lithgow, a.k.a. Dr. Emilio Lizardo. Lizardo once worked on a similar cross-dimensional experiment with one of Banzai’s mentors. However his previous experiment did not run as smoothly as Banzai’s one. During the previous attempt, Lizardo’s head was temporarily stuck in the 8th Dimension, whereby he was then possessed by an alien called Lord John Whorfin.

This is actually a very civilized name given Lord John Whorfin likes to eat electricity and kill humans. Slightly less civilized is the fact that the combined Lizardo-Whorfin has been waiting decades for a chance to bring over his fellow race from the 8th Dimension, the Red Lectoids, to conquer the Earth.

Having now seen Banzai’s success on the news, Lizardo-Whorfin knows his time has come. Lizardo-Whorfin promptly escapes the asylum and hooks up with some of his fellow Red Lectoids who were freed during the failed experiment. These Red Lectoids have disguised themselves as Caucasian men and all go by the name of ‘John’. They also all work as weapons contractors under the US Air Force. They have used this cover to secretly built a space ship ready to cross the dimensional bridge. All Lizardo-Whorfin and his fellow Red Lectoids need now is Banzai’s dimension hopping engine…..

This is actually very serious!
If you know the film, you’ll know this line.

 

As if this initial set up of Team Banzai vs Inter-dimensional aliens wasn’t enough to take in, it turns out that the Red Lectoids actually have their own natural enemies in the form of the Black Lectoids.

The Black Lectoids know of the threat that the Red Lectoids pose. In fact, the Black Lectoids once defeated the Red Lectoids in their-joint home, the 10th Dimension, and were responsible for banishing them into the 8th Dimension in the first place.

Fearing an potential reprisal, the Black Lectoids come to Earth to ensure that the Red Lectoids are stopped at any cost. Disguising themselves as Rastafarians, the Black Lectoids sneak around Earth until they can find Buckaroo Banzai. They issue him a very clear ultimatum; defeat the Red Lectoids or the Black Lectoids will use their own UFO to initiate a fake American nuclear attack on Russia, with the resultant war amongst Nations killing everyone on Earth.

So to recap, the race is on for a Buckaroo and the Hong Kong Cavaliers to stop one alien race from conquering earth before another alien race destroys earth.

Aw……

Should all of these plot strands sounds a little crammed in there are also two more reoccurring stories that come into play.

Firstly there is a romance brewing in the background of the whole film. Amazingly this is based around Banzai discovering the long-lost twin sister of his murdered wife. This character is called Penny Priddie and she is played by Ellen Barkin. Incidentally, Barkin who seems to have never-ending legs.

“Kiss me, you fool!”

 

In addition to that romance angle, the second side story that runs throughout BBAT8D regards some unknown actor called Jeff Goldblum, who sadly never worked in Science Fiction again (Yeah, right!). Goldblum plays an old friend of Banzai’s and is trying to become a member of The Banzai Institute. He’s a talented surgeon who dabbles in playing keyboards, but his personal aim is to become cool enough to become a fully-fledged member of The Hong Kong Cavaliers.

Phew. Add those tow stories to the general narrative and suffice to say, this whole film is crammed to the gills with oddities.

I haven’t even attempted to yet mention the character of John Bigboote played by Christopher Lloyd or Clancy Brown’s sidekick role as Rawhide or even touched upon the square watermelon. Yes, you read that right. A square watermelon.

square-watermellons_1
B.B. had them years before they really existed

The most amazing aspect to BBAT8D is that so much is squeezed into its 103 minute run time. Unfortunately these imaginative aspects are also its Achilles Heel. The sheer overload of story, characters and back stories is just too much to be concisely presented.

I struggled to write, and re-write, the above plot synopsis quite a few times to simplify it enough to be comprehensible. Yet, there really is still even further sub-plots present in the film that I have not dared to touch upon!

This level of ‘sink-or-swim narrative’ actually takes the viewer out of the film on the first viewing. It is simply too much to take in at once. Curiously though, on repeat viewings the level of packed-in detail actually helps support the weight of this fictional world.

This mass density of mystery and adventure helps to create a universe where anything can turn in any direction at a moment’s notice. But it is also a universe where Buckaroo Banzai is always present to save the day.

For any problems with the digestion of so many ingredients simultaneously, one thing that cannot be levelled at BBAT8D is being short of flavours.

Peter… Wailer?

 

Whether or not experiencing BBAT8D is good fun or a terrible train wreck is hard to know. It depends how much a viewer likes being dropped into a bigger story than is on screen.In many ways BBAT8D feels more in the style of slopped together Saturday Serial shows than a single film. The whole movie plays almost like one small event after the next that are forcibly tied into a single story towards the end of the film.

If this amalgamation of mass concepts, characters and plots does work at all then it is down to one sole reason. BBAT8D is played completely straight.

Ladies and Gentleman; two respected thespians.

Think about the following. Respected thespians Peter Weller, John Lithgow, Clancy brown, Jeff Goldblum, and Ellen Barkin appear in a film that revolves around dimension hopping, rock and roll crime fighters, and Rastafarian aliens.

By treating the whole film seriously in-camera the net result is we laugh along with the absurdity of it all and relish the lunacy. We do not laugh at the film directly, but we do slyly grin alongside the cast and film makers. This makes the whole ride across the 8th Dimension casually fun instead of fantastically dumb.

Benetton, the Buckaroo years.

 

Although BBAT8D is too long and bustling to be endlessly watchable, it is also too full to simply dip into. This is perhaps why this film is not so well remembered or regarded as other films of a similar tone. (such as Ghostbusters or Big Trouble In Little China). Still, in an age of ongoing remakes, sequels and franchises it is important to take stock of films that truly exist as completely unique creations- and BBAT8D is clearly one such experience.

 

I tend to close with trailers for the films I highlight. This time here is a scene that plays alongside the end credits. It sums up the 80’s-ness and strangely optimistic note of this truly bizarre film.

Next week I’ll be detailing something that has bugged me for a decade. After all these years I finally solved a zombie-based conundrum. Go me!

Thanks for reading,

MJ

BLOG: YTC_Hollyweird: Episode V: The Disabled Strike Back

 

Follow me on Twitter: @You_Total_Cult.

In the short term, the YTC podcast can currently be found at http://www.chrisandphilpresent.co.uk/blogs/youtotalcult/

BLOG PIC

The blog below was under an older name of Hollyweird. I have kept the numbering the same so that I could keep track of my posts, but this is where it all begin back in the heyday of 2012…

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During a rare crossover period at the height of Grindhouse and the tail end of Kung-Fu-sploitation, The Crippled Masters……… WHOA! WAIT! What am I doing?!?!?

We interrupt this blog to report that my hetro-life partner, Craig, and I are now podcasting- and that’s not prison slang, folks.

Ant and Dec had never looked better

 

 

Podcasting is a lot like blogging but quicker for us to record. Meanwhile, you don’t have to use your eyes to enjoy it, just your ears. So podcasts are theoretically more useful for Ray Charles rather than Beethoven, but Helen Keller had no chance either way…. Though to be fair she probably didn’t experience films much anyway.

 

Should you decide that Hollyweird just does not cover your cult of comedic needs then below is the first entry of You Total Cult. Within its realms two men act like bickering children whilst revealing why they will never EVER be cool. The least you can do is listen out of pity for their wastes of adulthood.

[wpaudio url=”http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/YouTotalCult/~3/IWmNnlF9yks/ytc_e1_07052012.mp3″ text=”You Total Cult ep1: The Geekest Link” dl=”http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/YouTotalCult/~3/IWmNnlF9yks/ytc_e1_07052012.mp3″]

You Total Cult is also available at http://feeds.feedburner.com/YouTotalCult and on that fancy iTunes thing. So please review it on iTunes if you like it, and please keep it to yourself if you don’t like it.

 

Right,we now return back to our main feature………

 

He looks hard, but you could just push him over

 

During a rare crossover period at the height of Grindhouse and the tail end of Kung-Fu-sploiation, The Crippled Masters stood out like Mike Tyson at a Klan rally; It was hard to believe that it had turned up, nobody knew what to say, and all you could do was wonder how in the hell this had come about.

 

Allow me to explain. The Crippled Masters uses a pair of real-life, disabled martial arts masters- or ‘crippled masters’ if you will.

 

In this tale, a fella called Lee Ho, is betrayed by his Kung-Fu brethren and has his arms chopped off. Yep, just like that. It’s how the film begins. This attack was ordered by the evil Lin Chang Cao, who you can tell is evil as he has a scar and a hump. Soon after, the thug Tang, who was wielding the swords on Lee Ho, is similarly betrayed by ol’d Humpty Dumpty, Lin Chang Cao. Tang has his legs burned off -by acid, for no particular reason. But I suppose in medieval China, this was the closest thing to enjoying others pain like on Britain’s Got Talent, so let’s not judge Lin Chang Cao too harshly.

Ironically they would have each traded an arm and a leg for the others outfit.

 

As luck would have it both Lee Ho and Tang end up running into one another (well, not exactly walking…). Before Lee Ho can kill Tang in retribution, a wizened, old, alcoholic Sensei appears and begins to teach Lee Ho and Tang to fight back in their new states; one man with no legs and the other with no arms. Frankly I have yet to meet an old drunk who can teach me an exclusive skill set beyond the ability to puke on ones shoes without noticing, but perhaps I need to go to Asia.

 

Along the way various things happen, but ultimately it comes down to the fact that even the Crippled Masters skills are not enough to defeat the evil hunchbacked gang boss- for it turns out that his hunch is metal and he can block any attack with it! That’s right, just when you thought that this film couldn’t get any weirder you were proved wrong. Perhaps the only way for Tang and Lee Ho can defeat Lin Chang Cao is if the could somehow team up… perhaps even be strapped together to form a solitary mighty Un-crippled Master!!! I won’t ruin the end, but…. uh, I suspect I may have just done so.

 

But seriously, how can you not be at least curious to watch a film that involves real life-disabled marital artists, a metal-humped villain and absolutely no good taste whatsoever?!

 

Make no mistake, beyond the shock-value, The Crippled Masters is not a good film. The dubbing is atrocious, the plot all over the place, the quality of the film footage poor and the very taste of the whole project is beyond questionable.

 

Yet I do put it to anyone reading this piece, if you were a qualified martial artist with no arms, wouldn’t you want a chance to showcase what you had achieved? To inspire other people with disabilities? To get to be a film star for once? Heck, even just to purely show off how cool you are? These are the reasons I can justify owning this film and also promoting it here. In truth I cannot recommend this from any quality perspective, but also in truth I can greatly recommend it from an eye-opening life-experience perspective.

Next time will be something very different indeed- a fully realised and immersive Soundtrack for a Giallo film… even though the Giallo film was never due to exist at any point. Hmmmm.

 

Thanks for reading… and hopefully listening, too.

 

MJ

 

BLOG: YTC_Hollyweird: Episode II: Attack Of The Groans

 

 

 

Follow me on Twitter: @You_Total_Cult.

In the short term, the YTC podcast can currently be found at http://www.chrisandphilpresent.co.uk/blogs/youtotalcult/

 

BLOG PIC

 

The blog below was under an older name of Hollyweird. I have kept the numbering the same so that I could keep track of my posts, but this is where it all begin back in the heyday of 2012…

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There are many strange films in the world. Some can thrive in their oddness, films that act as great artistic endeavours. Films such as El Topo or Eraserhead. Others you just wonder why the film maker didn’t seek therapy sooner. Ladies, gentlemen and non-applicable transgenders, I now present a perfect example of such a film; The Nostril Picker.

 

The Bizarro Fonzie

 

Now I’m going to take a wild punt that few people have heard of this film. So here is a summary of it. And for the record, no I am not on magic mushrooms as I write this.

 

Joe, a strange and unattractive man in his late thirties, tries hitting on schoolgirls. Predictably enough, this action does not go well for Joe. Fortunately for Joe, but unfortunately for schoolgirls everywhere, a tramp happens to witness this. Not just a normal tramp- a tramp that learnt mystical powers in Vietnam. Within seconds he’s taught Joe how to turn into a girl through the power of whistling ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’ and doing a little dance.

Joe scoffs, but gives it a shot. Sure enough, it works! At least I think it does- all the other characters refer to Joe as a girl from this point onwards, but he still looks like himself to us. A bit like Quantum Leap if it had dodgy, pervy overtones. Joe decides the best use of this power is to start hanging out at school, makes some friends, has a music montage- you know, everyday stuff.

The new girl was quite the looker


At last it’s everyday stuff until he randomly kills, rapes and cannibalises one of the girls.Yep. Just like that.

 

It’s pretty much at this point that the film shifts from a weird, camp adventure about the dubious morals of a shape shifter into a gritty sexual-slasher flick. But this shift is not a smooth one, rather both styles just get jostled up together for the remainder of the film. It is neither one nor the other- just as David Cameron is neither a leader nor a loser, but somehow both at once.

One memorable moment for me that jostled these two different styles is when Joe, now appearing as a school boy, trying to sleep with a prostitute before deciding to beat them up with a dildo instead. Naturally. After that, Joe then chats to the ghost of his dead mother, before killing and eating a bit more of another school chum. Joe is then hunted down by a cop, whom the film starts to follow instead of Joe…. And if all of that reads as a bit out of the blue, try actually watching the film!

Ultimately it turns out that the lead actor, the screenwriter and the director never worked again in their respective fields. If you watch this film you’ll know that their loss may have been for the greater good of logic everywhere.

That’s not a knife- THIS is a knif… oh wait. no it’s not.

 

A rather shocking fact about The Nostril Picker is that it sat shelved for years. Surprisingly for such a coherent, expensive film, I know. But there it is. Made in 1988, this flick was unreleased until 1993. You’d be hard pressed to know this was an 80’s movie unveiled in a 90’s world though. It was seemingly shot on low grade video at the time and has subsequently been transferred to DVD via filtering the negative through a mix of sandpaper and broken glass. This is rougher than Jordan without make-up, folks. Or maybe rougher than Jordan with make-up. Either way, it’s rough. It is not just the quality of the image that is atrocious- the lack of budget is clear. Stylistically looks more like something from the early 70’s, filled with faded denim, bushy haircuts and beige backgrounds.

 

But the fact this movie is both visually indistinguishable from its own time period and is also just really, really poor quality actually add a lot to the film. They both help bridge the most curious thing about this film to my mind- is it a parody/homage to exploitation trash of the 70’s, or a genuine attempt to make an off -the- wall horror-comedy? Frankly it’s just impossible to tell. Consequently this means The Nostril Picker is either a work of genius that exists as a perfect replica of poor taste films, or else is it just sheer lunacy given corporeal form. Either way it is certainly more Hollyweird than Hollywood.

 

So the above ‘Hollyweird’ pun aside, why would I chose to write about The Nostril Picker? Because it proves an essential point crucial to looking at all forgotten films, completely regardless of whether they are discarded trash or hidden gems.

This is a film that somebody out there had a need to create. They had a vision- a misogynistic, head trip of a vision limitedly- but it was a vision that they saw out. Somehow the creators managed to write it, fund it and release it.

In fact, the way this film was shelved for half a decade before it managed a release shows that the film makers must have just kept at their strange dream. Truthfully, this happening is just an amazing event.

Is this a good film? In absolutely no way. Is this a funny film to watch with friends and beer? Sure. But it’s also inspirational just for its existence. Hell, I’m writing about it 19 years after it was made! Ultimately, who’s going to be doing that for any slick but forgettable McG movies??

 

My next blog is inspired by Cabin In the Woods (I refuse to call it the re-named ‘The Cabin In The Woods, indecently. That’s a needless ‘the’ which makes it sound less cool). Next time I’m using Cabin as a jumping off point to give credit to one of the most over-looked post-modern horror films or the last 30 years- and although it is well known, it will not be what you’re thinking of….

 

Thanks for reading,

-MJ

 

PS

Ah, a final thought before I go.

Last week, my début blog was dedicated to how I came to be writing film analysis. Well, on hindsight I wanted to give one additional shout out to a blogger out there who had an impact on me. A blogger who doesn’t even know me beyond a few random Facebook messages, but a blogger who convinced me to get my bum in gear for the right reasons; Johnny Boots, aka Freddy In Space.

Freddy In Space is a horror blog. It is not from a professional critics perspective, or any insider of Hollywood or anything like that. It is simply written by a passionate fan, one Mr Boots. The articles vary from reviews to featurettes to competitions with his own stuff, meaning he doesn’t pin himself down. More than just that though, Freddy In Space entwines Boots’ own personal life within his articles. Whether that is doing drunk Q & A’s with readers or highlighting how much of an awesome girl he has (and having seen the photos of her and her skills at painting Day Of the Dead skulls, I’m considering bumping him off to get to her!). Seriously though, fundamentally what I love about Johnny Boots writing is just that he’s having fun. Sure, it has led him to some great opportunities, but those are just bonus incidentals. He writes what he wants to write because he wants to write. F’n A to that.

So thanks Freddy In Space!