Sunday, December 23, 2007

16/03/07: Hollywood Hall of Shame double!


USA 1965 b&w

Director/Writer Leslie Stevens

Cast William Shatner (Marc), Allyson Ames (Kia), Eloise Hardt (Amael), Robert Fortier (Olin)

Welcome to Schlock Treatment’s “Hollywood Hall of Shame”. After the break is the first feature for the Governator, Schwartzie’s Hercules Goes Bananas, but we start tonight with an amazing 1965 b&w horror film starring William Captain-Kirk-TJ-Hooker Shatner with English subtitles, as it’s spoken entirely in the failed would-be international language of ESPERANTO!!!

Incubus is one of those films that seem to have appeared from a parallel universe - a wonderfully atmospheric film (imagine Lovecraft filmed by Ingmar Bergman!) that was completely lost until the mid 90s. A floating allegory set on a mythical island, a pre-Star Trek Shatner stars as Marc, an innocent Christ-like figure tempted by a sister tag-team of succubi out collecting souls for their infernal master. The younger demoness Kia (played by Allyson Ames) falls in love with his purity which has dire consequences for both of them. After Kia runs screaming from a church Marc has blissfully dragged her to, her sister Amael (Eloise Hardt) raises an Incubus from the pit of hell (which, despite being some scaffolding and cheap theatrical lighting tricks, is a sight to warm the cockles of Brueghel’s heart).

Esperanto was devised in the late 1800s by Ludovic Zamenhof, an idealistic professor who wanted a universal language to unite humanity. It was quite popular until the Great Wars, which proved once and for all that mankind is destined to remain dumb, angry and divided. Beatnik and would-be mystic director Leslie Stevens obviously shared Zamenhof’s idealism, and thus Incubus stands as the language’s only feature. It’s a bizarre soundtrack to Stevens’ visuals - stark black and white photography, beautifully composed, with the robed figures representing a grand battle between good and evil. It’s as if Bergman’s The Seventh Seal was painstakingly transcribed and translated into pigeon Norwegian.

The results are surreal, to say the least, and the final appearance of the Devil as a bedraggled farmyard goat is too much, even for a low-budget horror film with SERIOUS pretensions. Arty, insane, and with Shatner reportedly spouting the worst accent in the history of Esperanto, we unleash the beast from the pit: the 1965 Incubus.

Hercules Goes Bananas

USA 1970 colour

aka Hercules In New York, Hercules (on-screen title)

Director Arthur Allan Seidelman Writer Aubrey Wisberg

Cast Arnold “Strong”/Schwarzenegger (Hercules), Arnold Stang (Pretzie), Deborah Loomis (Helen Camden), James Karen (Professor Camden)

Everybody, I want you to clear your minds of all thought.

Now... imagine a Noo York Jewish parody of sword and sandal films.

Imagine Arnold Schwarzeneggar, an Austrian bodybuilder with an inpenetrable German accent, playing a Greek hero and dubbed over by an American.

Imagine a producer looking for someone to play Hercules seeing Arnie and saying, “That’s our mensch!”

Imagine Arnie, billed as “Arnold Strong”, strutting around a $22 set of Mount Olympus in a loincloth looking terrified his thighs were about to chafe.

Imagine the same greek bazouki music errupting from the soundtrack every few minutes.

Imagine Arnie’s big fight scene with a man - in a bear suit!

Imagine Arnie riding a chariot through Times Square!

Imagine re-releasing the film after Conan The Barbarian and expecting the general public to buy the film a SECOND time as a straight action movie!

Imagine no further, for you are about to witness one of the most witless so-called comedies ever to be inducted into the Hollywood Hall of Shame. Arnie, you crazy swastika-wearing rent boy, this one’s for you: the 1970 Hercules Goes Bananas.

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