Sunday, October 08, 2006

I Have Witnessed Genius And Its Name Is Arizal

If you know me at all, by now you must have realized that THE STABILIZER is the most amazing motion picture ever produced. An insane mixture of violence, incomprehensible plotting, absurd Woodian dialogue and hilarious costuming, THE STABILIZER was made sometime during the early 1980s in Indonesia by a director known only as Arizal. It's packed with wall-to-wall violence and is perhaps the most hilariously awful film I've ever seen. It literally has drawn tears of laughter from me.

I don't know who the hell Arizal is, but I will make a point of watching any movie with his name on it. This afternoon, I saw LETHAL HUNTER, which was apparently made a few years after THE STABILIZER and is almost as brilliant. Arizal even managed to lure some Big American Stars for this followup. Christopher Mitchum (son of Robert), who sleepwalked his way through many a Crappy Movie in his day (Italy's THE MEAN MACHINE being one of the more memorable), signed on to play Jake Carver, whom I believe is supposed to be a U.S. government operative. He's after some valuable microfilm that is almost stolen in the opening scene when a villain drives his dune buggy off the roof of a building and into an office in the building next door and starts shooting his Uzi at the guys with the microfilm!

A scumbag named "Tom Selleck" (!) gets the microfilm and begins negotiating with two sides: Carver and an evil badass named Judas, played by American karate champion Bill "Superfoot" Wallace in a wildly OTT performance. Selleck is played by the Great Peter O'Brien, whom you should remember as the Rambo wannabe in the mesh shirt and poofy mullet from THE STABILIZER and THE INTRUDER. The microfilm (we never find out what's on it) turns up missing, and everyone else in the film starts beating the shit out of one another in their efforts to find it. Arizal presents car chases, whippings, crashes, exploding cars, exploding buildings, helicopters, gun battles, kung fu fights (Mitchum's character performing ninja-style backflips is hilariously stupid), all kinds of wall-to-wall action footage guaranteed to keep you awake and laughing. Lines like "Fine, die a motherfucking nobody" and "You kill the bad guys. You are a lethal hunter" prove that Arizal hasn't lost his touch for out-of-his-fucking-mind dialogue.

It perhaps isn't as great as THE STABILIZER (what the hell could be?), but, Jesus, LETHAL HUNTER is not to be missed. It's right up there with SAMURAI COP for sheer batshit insanity.

Another terrible movie with a well-earned reputation for being funny is DON'T GO NEAR THE PARK, recently out on DVD from Dark Sky. Its director, Lawrence D. Foldes, was just 19 when he helmed this confusing and ambitious gore pic in the Los Angeles area, primarily the old Paramount ranch and Griffith Park (including Bronson Caverns).

It opens "16,000 years ago" with two caveperson siblings being stricken by a curse that dooms them to a life of immortality. To remain young-looking, they kill teenagers and chomp on their entrails to drain their youth. The only way the two can ever die is if one has a female child and sacrifices her on her 16th birthday. Gar ("Crackers Phinn," obviously a nom de plume) plans to do just that, and makes it happen by stalking a cute blonde (Linnea Quigley in her first of many films that required her to perform full-frontal nudity) and mesmerizing her into marriage. His devotion to their daughter Bondi (Tamara Taylor) earns Linnea's resentment, and a fight between the parents spurs Bondi to run away from home on her 16th birthday.

Surviving a rape attempt by potheads in a shitty custom van by using the power of The Force locked inside her magic amulet to explode the van, Bondi ends up at an abandoned cabin hidden inside Griffith Park, where dozens of children have gone missing over the centuries. The cabin's only inhabitants are Nick (Meeno Peluce from TV's VOYAGERS), a wiseass 10-year-old; Cowboy, a wimpy teen; and--coincidentally--Gar's sister Tre. Tre, usually seen in a gray wig and an eyepatch, is played by a pseudonymous actress named "Barbara Monker." In his audio commentary, director Foldes claims that "Monker" is actually famous actress Barbara Bain, who starred with her then-husband Martin Landau in the TV series MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (for which she won three Emmys) and SPACE: 1999. I believe this claim to be absolute bullshit. It's true that Bain's career (and Landau's, for that matter) was no great shakes in 1979 when DON'T GO IN THE PARK was filmed, but just a glance at the actress in the film proves that she is not Bain. I'm not certain whether Foldes is mistaken or is trying to pull the wool over our eyes (and DVD moderator David Gregory doesn't challenge Foldes' assertion), but he is wrong, no doubt about it.

Aldo Ray, a former Academy Award nominee on hard times in 1979, pops up briefly as an investigative reporter looking into the mysterious Griffith Park deaths who tries to rescue Nick from his homelessness. More murders occur until the far-out climax inside Bronson Caverns that includes zombies, fire, eye lasers (!) and more ridiculousness. It's pretty obvious that Foldes and his co-writer Linwood Chase had no fucking idea what they were doing when they snapped this picture together, but if it was any better, it would probably be less entertaining.

Foldes went on to direct more bad movies, including NIGHTFORCE, a laugh-inducing ripoff of WAR GAMES in which a bunch of rich college kids (including Linda Blair, James Van Patten and Chad McQueen) drive to Central America to rescue their female friend, who has been kidnapped by terrorists, after her dickless father, a U.S. senator played by Cameron Mitchell (!), refuses to pay her ransom.

Oh, and I also saw C.H.O.M.P.S. this weekend, which I guess fulfills an old dream of mine. This Hanna-Barbera live-action comedy played theatrically in 1979, and I kinda wanted to see it because it was about a robot crime-fighting dog with super powers. Uh, sure, why wouldn't I want to see that? I never did though, and, for some reason, over the years I never caught up with it. Finally, after more than 25 years, I have seen C.H.O.M.P.S., thanks to Netflix. And, um, it's about as good as I suspected. It's typical slapstick of the type that Disney was doing a lot in those days with films like THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG and GUS.

C.H.O.M.P.S. stars LAND OF THE LOST's Wesley Eure (just coming off the grimy horror flick THE TOOLBOX MURDERS, a complete 180 from the sweetness of C.H.O.M.P.S.) as a super-smart security expert who invents a Canine Home Protection System that looks like a cute dog. Its powers include super-strength (it knocks a truck over), X-ray vision, super-speed and explosive-detection. Naturally, some bad guys try to steal C.H.O.M.P.S., but the robot Rover knocks them all on their asses, figuratively speaking. Super-cutie Valerie Bertinelli (ONE DAY AT A TIME) is the female lead, probably another reason I wanted to see this as a kid, and Conrad Bain (DIFF'RENT STROKES) plays Eure's boss. Also yukking it up are Chuck McCann ("Hi, guy!") and Red Buttons as the bumbling burglars, Jim Backus as Bain's rival, and Larry Bishop, most recently seen stealing KILL BILL, VOL. 2 as Michael Madsen's strip-club boss, as Eure's rival for Val's affections.

C.H.O.M.P.S. is actually kinda cute and fun and would likely still entertain children, as it has a lot of harmless action scenes with the robot doggie doing its tricks. Hoyt Curtin's score sounds exactly like a typical DYNOMUTT episode, which makes sense when you think about it. MGM's DVD is a bonus in that it resurrects American International Picture's original PG cut, even though the DVD packaging promises a G rating. When C.H.O.M.P.S. first came out in the summer of 1979, it was rated PG because of a mean rival dog who "talked" to the audience, occasionally using mild swear words like "shit" and "up your pooper." AIP redubbed that dialogue and re-released C.H.O.M.P.S. at Christmas time in a G-rated cut. MGM, as it often does with its DVDs, whether purposely or not, used the original PG version for the DVD, just like when they released the R-rated SWAMP THING, the X-rated REVENGE OF THE NINJA and an early version of THE VAMPIRE LOVERS with full-frontal Ingrid Pitt nudity.

Whew. So did anyone actually read all that?


Anonymous said...

Sounds like I'll have to check out one of those funny/crappy action flicks next time you're showing them. I haven't seen any of them.

Robert Plante said...

I read it!