Huge Ants, Skank Pants and Kids That Can’t Dance.

Movies. We love them…we hate them. They make us happy. They make us sad. Rarely, We are indifferent to them. They bring out the best in us – or sometimes the worst. I’d like to just use this part of my site to air my views on various ones that I’ve  seen over the years ; ones that have impacted me either negatively or positively. The good. The Bad. The Ugly!

The Good.

thTHEM! (1954)

Warner Brothers B&W classic about a nest of giant radioactively mutated ants that were  discovered in the desert of New Mexico. The original Sci Fi story was by by George Worthing Yates, being given a screenplay treatment by Ted Sherdeman and Russell Hughes. It was superbly directed by Gordon Douglas, and starred James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon and James Arnesss.

This was one of the first 1950’s Atomic Creature movies, and the first giant insect film, Them! It was nominated for an Oscar for its Special Effects and won a Golden Reel Award for the  Best Sound Editing. The opening shots of the traumatized little girl wandering alone in the desert in her dressing gown is a classic. The plot proceeds with the local State Cops investigating several mysterious disappearances and horrific deaths. It hooks the viewer as it slowly develops into a horror story about the giant ants, the Them of the movie title. To build up the suspense, the giant creatures are only heard on occasion and not seen until nearly a third of the way into the film.

OK. I saw this movie first in 1967 at home. I was a kid of six and I’d played up rotten to be allowed to see it. So my dad, very unwisely in retrospect, allowed me to. I was frightened shitless. I had weeks of nightmares about giant ants outside the house and in my room.

Thanks dad! I remind him of what he inflicted on me on a dark windy fall evening years ago every chance I get – but at the same time I also remind myself of how just a few simple ideas or images can strike fear into someones very being. A premise and device I hope I’ve used effectively in my craft as a writer. But even now, I cant help yelling out Them! ever-time I see those big-assed containers of Raid with the giant ants peering off the packaging at me when I’m in Lowes.

The Bad

Lost horizon

Lost Horizon (1973)

Columbia put the horrible musical movie mishmash  out in 1973. The actors were good – 70’s A-list stars like Peter Finch, Liv Ullmann, John Gielgud, Michael York..err…and John Gielgud. On paper it must have looked great. It had everything! They couldn’t fail! Taken from the classic Hilton novel; it had catchy toe-tapping music by Burt Bacharach – there was action and adventure – a story of timeless love… of paradise lost and regained. It couldn’t fail but to bring paying audiences streaming into the movie theaters!! Couldn’t it??!! HELL NO. It couldn’t. The people who actually put their bankrolls into this lead lined zeppelin un-affectionately called it Lost Investment instead of Lost Horizon…It was a huge steaming turd of a film. Something you lay in a toilet bowl and no matter how many times you flush it, it keeps coming bobbing back up to haunt you.  I mean, where the hell do you start to describe how bad this film was? Having had test audiences watch the movie the producers noted that their reactions were, shall we say kindly, less than favorable. And in answer to that in true Hollywood style they proceeded to butcher it into something approximating a palatable experience for movie goers… However, this proved to be to no avail. The beast would not die. It raised itself up once more to haunt audiences for two generations to come. The choreography was dire. The kids in the movie couldn’t keep their bodies or movements in time with the music if their lives depended on it. And from looking at some of their fixed expressions during the scenes I’m willing to bet it probably did.

Even if Olivia Hussey had exposed her extremely large triple digit considerable charms and did a really hot sex scene with Liv Ullmann – well even that couldn’t have saved it.

Here’s what the New York critic Pauline Kael said about it at the time. She noted that:

‘Shangri-La was depicted as a middle-class geriatric utopia [where]… you can live indefinitely, lounging and puttering about for hundreds of years… the Orientals are kept in their places, and no blacks… are among the residents. There’s probably no way to rethink this material without throwing it all away’.

The movie, you’ll be happy to know, was selected for inclusion in the Medved book 50 Worst Films of All Time.

The film is also listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson’s book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.

However, on a lighter note, star Peter Finch did say he enjoyed making the film.  Cheers, Peter. Shame the audiences couldn’t say the same about watching it though.

The Ugly

zombie assZombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead (2011)

This movie is one of the most disturbing pieces of horror movie I have ever seen. Even more so than the much talked about Human Centipede. I don’t know if the director Noboru Iguchi is into water sports, brown showers, panty fixations, face farts, human torture or dismemberment…I really have no idea. The plot of the movie was both convoluted and bizarre – quite incomprehensible in parts. But I don’t think that mattered overly to the director as much as the grotesque images and imagery seemed to be ALL that mattered.

Let me give you the plot rundown, such as it is, of this 85 minute shit fest.

Megumi , a teenage karate expert who is guilty as hell over the suicide of her bullied sister, accompanies four older friends on a trip into the woods: This unlikely quad of folks include a smart girl, called Aya; her messed up sociopath druggie boyfriend Taka, full-figured model Maki (the inevitable contribution of big tits that are needed in Japanese horror) , and a nerdy yet semi-hot guy Naoi. Determined to be a model Maki finds a parasitical worm inside a fish taken from a river in the woods – and wolfs it down, in the hope that the fishy parasite will keep her skinny. Soon after, the group is attacked by a crowd of poop-covered undead who emerge from a nearby outhouse toilet. The outhouse scenes really do defy description. You’d just have to see it to believe it (ewww!) The group then seeks refuge in the home of the strange Dr. Tanaka, who conducts experiments on both zombies and the parasites … and who has a plan in mind for the five strangers who have unwittingly come into his sphere of influence. Can Megumi’s karate skills help them all escape a fate worse than death, or will she have to rely on the liberating power of her ass and its excessive flatulence to defeat her demented captor?

Let me assure you that Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead is really an UGLY movie. Watch it at your peril and don’t say you weren’t warned!

It’s available on Netflix.

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