Thursday, December 29, 2011

Screening Diary: Wolfie and Roughie

CAPERUCITA Y PULGARCITO CONTRO LOS MONSTRUOS ("Little Red Riding Hood and Tom Thumb vs. the Monsters"): This is the original Spanish version of the film later imported to the US by K. Gordon Murray Productions as LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND THE MONSTERS, available for the first time with English subtitles. Following other LRRH sequels, this is both sequel to LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD and 1957's TOM THUMB, as it finds Wolfie (from LRRH) and the Ogre (from TT) imprisoned in the castle of the Witch Queen by their fellow monsters for turning good. (We see them taken to a torture chamber where their feet are tickled.) Red and a slingshot-happy Tom Thumb (restored to full size by the Morning Fairy, which brings out a latent macho swagger), along with lovable Stinky Skunk and a pet dog, coincidentally rescue them when they must go to the Witch's castle to undo the haunting of their village's local water source, which has turned all their townsfolk into monkeys! In addition to the green-skinned Queen out of SNOW WHITE via THE WIZARD OF OZ, the monsters include a Hurricane Fairy (like the one seen in Ptushko's THE SWORD AND THE DRAGON), Two-In-One (half-man, half-monster like the Manster), a robot called "the Alien", Mr. Vampire (dressed in a Carradine-like top hat and cape, with Christopher Lee fangs), Frankenstino, and a pinheaded Boogie Man (amusingly subtitled as "the bugger man"). Stinky actually combats one monster by bending over and gassing him from his posterior, and Tom sings a song boasting that he's so tiny, "even with a magnifying glass, you could not find my hiney." Not unlike a weird conflation of Bert Gordon's THE MAGIC SWORD and THE BOY AND THE PIRATES, with songs. The entertainment value speaks for itself. Viewed on DVD.

THE PICK-UP: Sloppily-made but ambitious and attention-grabbing, this obscure 1968 roughie from R. L. (Lee) Frost first aroused fan interest when an exciting, hard-hitting trailer was included on one of Something Weird's TWISTED SEX trailer compilations. It was considered lost till one last-known surviving print was discovered, with hard Danish subtitles, in an overseas film vault. Two pick-up men are driving over a million dollars in protection money from Vegas to a mob rep in LA, but plead car trouble in order to take in a motel party with two attractive ladies picked up along the way, raising concerns at both ends of their itinerary. A bad idea turns worse when the women handcuff them and abscond with the dough, but are they in it for themselves, or are they working for someone else? The mostly handheld B&W photography is unconcerned with composition, but there are occasional arty touches like cuts to still-photo montages during the more violent moments. The dialogue is no more than you'd expect, the acting barely acceptable, but the sleazy paperback plot is pleasingly elaborate and stocked with twists and plenty of back-stabbing characters, so it plays similarly to Bava's BAY OF BLOOD; even the silly finale is not tonally unlike the surprise postscript of Bava's film. This was anonymously co-produced by David L. Friedman, who actually plays a pivotal role and seems to enjoy his long career's only bed scene with a naked lady. The library cues scoring the film are well-chosen and amount to a distinctive, edgy score. Pretty much the missing link between the 1960s roughies and the more ambitious crime sleaze epitomized by the GINGER films of the early 1970s. Viewed on Something Weird DVD-R.

1 comment:

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