Tuesday, March 01, 2016

It Came From Hollywood

Paramount actually got IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD into theaters late in 1982, but umpteen times as many people saw it a year or so later when it was an HBO staple, showing several times per month (or so it seemed). It’s likely a lot of horror and science fiction fans got their first taste of films like PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE and ROBOT MONSTER from watching this.

Co-directors Andrew Solt and Malcolm Leo (THIS IS ELVIS) and producers Jeff Stein (MR. BELVEDERE) and Susan Strausberg brought in some of the era’s hippest comic minds to contribute a few wisecracks to this collection of clips, as well as act in introductory segments shot by Fred Koenekamp (BILLY JACK) on the Paramount lot (probably in a day) and presumably penned by credited screenwriter Dana Olsen (THE ‘BURBS).

In one, Dan Aykroyd, clad in a bra and angora sweater, rides up on a motorcycle to pick up John Candy in a parody of GLEN OR GLENDA. Outside of an occasional barb aimed at a film that truly deserves it (such as Gilda Radner’s pointing out the comical ineptness of a blond actress’ hapless attempt at pretending to play piano), the humor is lame.

Of course, most of the films spotlighted in IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD are today readily available on DVD, Blu-ray, or online streaming sites, but back then, you had to really bust your back to find films like MATANGO or MARS NEEDS WOMEN unspooling to unbelieving eyes on the late show. While some may find the comedians’ commentary intrusive, this film provided a real service to monster kids of the early ‘80s. And with Radner and Candy dying so young, any 35mm footage of them performing has value. The stars do appear to have some affection for the films, and there is novelty in seeing Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Candy, Aykroyd, and Radner together, even briefly.

A worse crime than mocking schlock movies (though many of the pictures featured are quite good indeed) is IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD’s failure to identify most of its clips. Anyone wowed by glimpses of half-nude Indian girls dancing like in a Busby Berkeley routine or a boggle-eyed monster smashing cardboard skyscrapers and desperate to track down the films they come from will receive little assistance. Don’t expect to see this movie on DVD anytime soon, since the several dozen different movies represented would be a nightmare to clear (an announced 2002 DVD had to be cancelled).

The films are broken down into categories, each hosted by a different act. Radner presents Gorillas (THE TIGER WOMAN), Musical Memories (MATANGO), and Monsters (THE BLOB). Aykroyd gets Aliens (I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE), Brains (THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS), and breaks out his Broderick Crawford impression for Troubled Teenagers (HIGH SCHOOL HELLCATS). Cheech and Chong mock Giants (THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN), Animals Gone Berserk (THE GIANT CLAW), and Marijuana Movies (REEFER MADNESS, natch). Candy salutes Technical Triumphs (KING OF THE ROCKETMEN), Trailers (BLACK BELT JONES), and Edward D. Wood, Jr. (PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE), not long after Harry & Michael Medved’s book THE GOLDEN TURKEY AWARDS brought Wood into the spotlight two years after the director’s death.

1 comment:

Grant said...

I haven't seen it in some time, but I remember that John Candy's segment shows the other side of the coin, how relatively GOOD a lot of the movies are considering their budgets and other things. In a way, that segment looks ahead to the show "Reel Wild Cinema."