Last Friday I made it over to The Lawgiver's to talk trash, eat garbage and watch kick flicks. Lately the Lawgiver has been relegating the kick portion of the evening to one flick, with the second feature often consisting of some laughable attempt at a horror movie. This evening was a pretty memorable double bill along those lines.
The martial arts pick was Watari The Ninja Boy (1966), a film I'd never heard of until Sarah stumbled onto it a few weeks ago on the web. This led us to the Japanese trailer for the film. We notified the Lawgiver, who used his powers for chaotic good to track down a copy. This might be old news to some of you folks, but it was new news to us. Apparently it floated around in a dubbed version on T.V. stations a ways back, I'm one of the unluckies who missed it. It would have blown my mind and ruled my world as a kid, as an adult, it merely blew part of my mind and lorded over my world for a few hours. Meaning, I loved it.
It's based on a manga by Sanpei Shirato (The Legend of Kamui) and it has a real cartoonish, go for broke whatever-the-hell attitude, very inventive and over the top and entertaining, even if the effects and ideas come up short a number of times. If you like old Japanese tokusatsu stuff, or the fantasy themed martial arts stuff, or just oddball movies in general, you might dig this. There's lots of crazy action, nutjob villains a'plenty, wild art direction and costumes and makeup, expressionistic sets (which often involve models), a fat comedy relief kid, and even a musical number with dancing kids and shenanigans. Don't worry, most of the kids die, even without the dark stuff reportedly jettisoned from the source material, this is still Asian cinema. Die, kids, die, die in the kiddie film from Toei.
One thing I always appreciate in a film like this is that nothing is explained. Watari is a ninja boy. This other guy has a death ring. That guy over there can fly and do crazy shit, that other idiot has magic he forgets to use when things get crucial, boom boom boom, go, man, go. It starts with fighting and ends with fighting, and in-between there's more fighting. Ninja Boy Watari goes up against mean people. They fight. People die. Crazy shit happens. They play the theme song a few times, which rocks, if you like 60's J-pop/ theme music. Thank you, Asia. Fuck you, Hollywood, for eating up half of everything with stupid explanations.
So, I give this the nod. I say find your very own Lawgiver, or be your very own Lawgiver, and obtain this by whatever means necessary involving as little cash as possible (wink wink).
Um, the second movie was called Weasels Rip My Flesh. Not to be confused with the Frank Zappa album, Weasels Ripped My Flesh. Or with an actual movie. This is, I mean, this thing...it's really bad. I mean, wow, it's something else. Apparently this was made by a high school student in the late 70's, "filmed" in Super 8 mm, and left sitting around until somebody put it out on DVD a few years ago. It's a home movie. So you can cut the guy who made it some slack for this being so incredibly awful. I don't know how much slack, but a little slack. A modicum of slack. It plays out like a filmed version of a kid's comic. And if that sounds good to you, by all means, track down this blight, because there is entertainment here to be had if you like yourself some stupendous trash.
I won't lie, we had a blast watching it. Bad gore effects, insanely bad monster designs, laughable special effects, sub-amateur acting, hilariously stupid characters, mind-numbing dialogue, incoherent plot elements, cheap-ass sets (a mad scientist's newly-built lab is a living room and a basement, he can't even afford matching drinking glasses) and possibly the best/worst mad scientist ever captured on film ever, played by a Ron Jeremy lookalike. It has an ending that I still can't figure out in regards as to whether it was a joke or not.
This is possibly the worst movie I've ever seen. Quite honestly. Ed Wood would be embarrassed. Perhaps it isn't fair to compare a giddy Super 8 nightmare from some kids to other movies, but, hell, someone dared to release this in order to make a few dollars, and the rotten thing's on Amazon like a real grown-up motion picture and all. For the first ten minutes or so, we weren't sure of just what the hell we were looking at. I thought someone slipped us a Stan Brakhage film by mistake. The opening consists of a pan past some trees with some idiotic narration spoken over it, followed by grainy close-ups of who the hell knows what, some smoke and a terrible model of a rocket and a lamp that's supposed to be the rocket blast, and some gunk being poured into something, some lights, some more gunk...gah. My head hurts a little thinking about it. Then it stopped being incoherent and became straight-out crazy stupid-ass, with some radioactive crap turning a weasel into a giant turd-looking weasel puppet thing that kills some very killable people. And then there's the mad scientist in the basement, and eventually there's a weasel-man monster that shows up. He looks like a bunch of turds, too. And then there's that ending. I won't say this is so-bad- it's-good, but I will say it's so-bad-it's-entertaining. If you go for this sort of horseshit. And if you're reading this, then you probably go for this kind of horseshit.
It's sort of amazing that the Film Gods decided that the world gets to have the complete and unsullied Night of the Ghouls and Weasels Rip My Flesh, but fuck 'em if anyone wants the Magnificent Ambersons and Greed intact. On the other hand, I sincerely doubt I'd have had a ton of fun sitting around with my friends during ten hours of Von Stroheim. So, there is that. Whatever that is.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, ends another useless internet post.