Dracula vs. Frankenstein: 1971 Bad-Acting Award-Winning Film…

As I was downstairs this morning toasting a sourdough English muffin, I was flipping through the channels on the TV. I noticed a “film” on the MGMHD channel called “Dracula vs. Frankenstein,” from 1971, starring Lon Cheney, Jr, with this horrible description:

Count Dracula forces fun-park operator Dr. Frankenstein to revive his infamous monster.

Oh, yeah. That sounds like a recipe for box-office gold! Given that I had ten minutes or so before my breakfast was ready, and seeing as there was nothing else on, I decided to check it out. I hoped to learn how Dr. Frankenstein had come to such a low station as a “fun-park operator,” and perhaps what his qualifications were for such a position. I also hoped to learn how Count Dracula, who was vanquished in the 1800s was still around to wreak his particular brand of havoc. Alas, I didn’t get answers to either of my questions. Here’s what I did see.

The scene I came into was two hippies, a man and a woman, talking about the kind of crap that movie hippies normally talk about. The hippie man rolls a tire down the alleyway and tells the hippie girl, “Go get it!” as if she were a dog. She scampers down the alley, and stops dead in her tracks. Coming toward her, very slowly, is the local violent biker gang. All three of them. They kind of reminded me of the Black Window gang from Every Which Way But Loose, if you remember them. Anyway, the leader says to the girl, something like, “So… where have… you… been?” in his most menacing-ish voice, and with appropriate pauses for high-school-quality effect. She dreamily replies that “I’ve pulled myself… out… of the… gutter! Why don’t you all… cut out!” The boy hippie sashays to the girl’s side and dramatically intones, “Are you… OK?” She doesn’t reply. Biker gang henchman #1 says, “I don’t think she likes us very much,” or something like that. The leader continues, “Nobody leaves us. I need a new girl… today. So why don’t you… climb on the back of this… bike… and we’ll… cut out…” Oooh, throwing her own words back at her! Such moxie! Such acting chops!

The two henchmen dismount and walk to the hippie man, menacingly, and at this precise moment, a savior arrives! A police car comes slowly down the alley. The henchmen saddle up, smirking menacingly-ish, and the gang then cuts out. Slowly, and with feeling.

The police car passenger door opens, and Sgt. Martin gets out. Hey! It’s Jock Ewing, from Dallas! (Is Miss Ellie in the backseat? No? OK.) Hippie girl #2, who has just arrived, gets up in his face and accuses him of not doing enough to protect the city. He replies that this is “my part of town” and that after so long there, one “learns the games people play” and from this knowledge knows when to “break it up” and when to “walk away.” Kenny Rogers could not have said it any better. He turns to get back in the squad car, then turns and says, very dramatically, “Stay away from the beaches! There’s a maniac on the loose!” He gets back in the car, and I turned off the TV. I did consider recording the rest of it, but then I decided I had much better things to do, regardless of the fact that I didn’t get my questions answered. Ah, well.

Now, perhaps the movie improved as it went on. And perhaps a preposterous-sounding plot was actually well-thought-out and developed. And perhaps the acting in the rest of the film was much better. Yeah, probably not. The things one sees on early morning TV.

I Am Legend Sucks

I just saw I Am Legend and I seriously want my money back. The only two things it shared with the novella were the title and the main character’s name. My friend Tim suggested they should have included a disclaimer in the credits saying “Any similarity to a story of the same name by Richard Matheson is purely coincidental.” I agree.

You can hear my 30-second review of the movie, recorded as I drove home, using the widget below.

“The Departed” Won Best Picture? What’s Up With That?

I got The Departed from NetFlix over the weekend. We started watching it Saturday afternoon, but turned it off after about 30 minutes of incredibly foul language and boring setup. After reading several glowing reviews yesterday, I decided to finish watching it. What a waste of time. I just don’t get what everyone thinks is so great about this movie.

If you want a really good mob film, go with The Godfather (of course) or Donnie Brasco.

Cars – Excellent Film

Thomas and I just got back from seeing Cars. What a great movie. I haven’t laughed so hard since… well.. since I saw Over the Hedge but that’s not important right now. Cars is great. There are times when you really can’t tell that it’s an animated film; it just looks so real. It’s funny and touching with a great story and stunning graphics. I give it 2 Fenders Up!

The Amazing Has Happened

The amazing has happened. It really has. I mean it. What am I talking about? I’ve seen a film, a remake, that I actually thought was better than the original. What movie am I talking about?? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We went to see it because our son really wanted to, and I was curious what Tim Burton did with it. What he did is make a much mo’ better movie. While I do love the original, I think the new incarnation is a much better film. It’s funny and very Burton-esque, and it’s surprisingly not as “dark” as the original. I was in stitches through most of it.

This makes, I believe, only the second time I’ve found a remake better than the original. It doesn’t happen very often.

Go See “Robots.” Now.

We went to see Robots last night. What an excellent film. Robin Williams, who I haven’t really liked since Mrs. Doubtfire and Good Morning, Vietnam was absolutely brilliant! I really enjoyed his voicing of the robot called Fender. The movie is a non-stop laugh-fest; it’s funny and touching at times, though slightly scary for young kids at one point. There were a few lines and sight gags that were not really appropriate for a family film; they go over the heads of the kids and the adults get them, but I would prefer them not be there. Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is no profanity, which was nice to see.

Grab your family and head to the theater, today, to see this great movie.

Hey Hollywood! Come Up With Some New Ideas!

Is every single screenwriter in Hollywood completely out of ideas for new films? It would appear so. After the absurd remake of the classic Flight of the Phoenix, I now hear that Wolfgang Petersen is remaking the absolute classic The Poseidon Adventure. Noooooooo!!! The original was great. A true classic. It doesn’t need to be remade.

In fact, I am against remakes in general. I have never seen a remake of a film that I liked, or thought was better than the original, or even thought was somehow worth making. The sole exception to this is when Hitchcock took his 1934 The Man Who Knew Too Much and remade it in 1956 with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day. That was a great remake, and I applaud Hitchcock for doing it. Every other remake I’ve seen, like Planet of the Apes, Psycho and The Manchurian Candidate all sucked compared to the original.

Schultze Gets the Blues

I just saw the preview for a new foreign film called Schultze Gets the Blues, and it looks great. It’s about a German salt mine worker who is out of work when the mine closes. With nothing better to do, he just sits around the house practicing his accordion. One day he hears some Zydeco music on the radio and is hooked. He ends up moving to Louisiana to learn to play Zydeco and, I would guess, lives happily ever after. IMDB has a rating of 7.4 stars out of 10, and Rotten Tomatoes has an 80% freshness rating. I can’t wait to see it. It opens in America on February 18.

Fat Albert

Thomas and I went to see Fat Albert (or “Fat Albret” as Thomas says it) Monday night. Believe it or not, it was great! I was prepared for a mind-numbing movie resurrecting the cartoon that would be painful to watch. But what I got was much more.

First, it was the first time in a very long time that I’ve seen a “family” film that was truly family oriented. There was no cursing, and only one use of the now ubiquitous “Oh my G_d!” [As an aside, that exclamation really bothers me. People use it without even thinking; it gets said by some people almost as often as they say the word “the” or “and.” I hate how so many “kids” shows or “family” shows have characters saying that every other sentence.] Anyway, the film got a PG rating for “momentary language,” but I didn’t detect any. There were two scenes where Mushmouth says something which is completely unintelligible, to which Old Weird Harold exclaims “Watch your mouth!” That was funny.

Anyway, it’s a very funny film. Parts of it are unbelievable, but so is the premise: Fat Albert and the gang come through a girl’s television to help her solve a problem. So you just have to suspend disbelief a little bit more.

There are also lessons to be learned here, about achievement, effort, and knowing who you are. And it’s funny. Did I mention that?

The end of the film is great, too. But to discuss it, I have to give it away. So if you don’t want it spoiled, read no further.

At one point, Fat Albert seeks out the real Bill Cosby. After Bill recovers from his initial shock, Albert tells Bill what has transpired. Albert says he came to help “Doris” with her problem. Cosby asks, “Who’s Doris?” Albert responds that she’s “Doris Robertson.” Cosby then tells Albert that Albert Robertson was a friend of Bill’s, was Doris’ grandfather, that he had died recently, and that when Cosby designed Fat Albert, he designed him after Albert Robertson. Now you see the connection, and the supposed reason why Albert was able to come out of the television.

Anyway, at the end, the camera opens onto a cemetery. It zooms in on a headstone that says “Albert Robertson” and below that “Our ‘Fat Albert'”. We then see Cosby lay flowers on the grave. The camera pans around and there are several old men standing with Cosby. As the camera pans past each man, there is a brief shot from the cartoon of one of the characters; these are the men on which those characters were based! Cosby’s old friends from North Philly. It was at this point that a tear ran down my face… It was a very touching scene to see all these old men at the grave of their friend.

Now, these men are not listed in the credits. IMDB does not list them. So far no one has been able to get definitive proof that those men really were Cosby’s inspirations for the characters, but that’s the general consensus. I hope it turns out to be true.

Anyway, go see it with your family. It’s excellent!