Wednesday, May 13, 2009

20th September 2008: "The Sons of Ed Wood Jr" double!

The Creation of the Humanoids

USA 1962 colour

aka Revolt Of The Humanoids

Director Wesley Barry Writer Jay Simms

Cast Don Megowan (Capt. Kenneth Cragis), Erica Elliott (Maxine Megan), Don Doolittle (Dr. Raven), George Milan (Acto, a clicker), Dudley Manlove (Lagan, a clicker)

Schlock Treatment viewers will remember Dudley Manlove as the slightly effeminate alien captain in Plan 9 From Outer Space. “Plan 9… ah yes, the resurrection of the dead!” Manlove is also in tonight’s first film playing a renegade robot, but if you’re expecting Ed Wood Jr, think again: The Creation Of The Humanoids means serious business, a dystopian vision of Social Darwinism and a philosophical musing on faith and morality. Well, it tries on its meagre resources, and because of its over-reaching ambitions, is one of the most eccentric and out-there science fiction films of the Sixties.

“It did happen,” the narrator informs us, “the Atomic War.” Over 90% of humanity is wiped out, and those left on the planet rely on over a billion worker droids to do their bidding. There’s the Clickers, freakish looking grey-skinned humanoids with pinball eyes intelligent and almost human enough to be employed as live-in lovers. They even have a pseudo-religion, a computer mainframe known to them as the Father/Mother”Then there’s the Order of Flesh and Blood, a quasi-masonic religion and secret police rolled into one, who are concerned about their dwindling control over the planet. Enter Captain Craigus, a Flesh and Blooder investigating the clickers’ plan to create a super-robot, one human enough to circumvent the Prime Law and be able to kill – or at least clone humanity out of existence.

A deathly serious movie masquerading as a cheap B picture, it attempts the grand ideas of a science fiction novel. What does it mean to be human – to lie, and to kill? Who or what is God, and what is a soul? It’s a distillation of the collected works of Isaac Asimov, right down to his Three Robotic Laws, with shades of Blade Runner (only twenty years before the film, and six years before Dick’s novel!). However hard it tries, however, it can’t hide its B film budget, and is dialogue-heavy at the expense of the visuals, somewhat limited to its grey sets (to match the humanoids) with startling splashes of reds and blues. Pretentious and utterly original, and with a Phillip K. Dick ending worth the occasional snooze over, we’re proud to present the 1962 Creation Of The Humanoids.

Mesa Of Lost Women

USA 1953 b&w

aka Lost Women, Lost Women Of Zarpa

Directors Ron Ormond, Herbert Tevos Writer Herbert Tevos

Cast Jackie Coogan (Dr. Aranya), Allan Nixon (Dr. Tucker, camp physician), Richard Travis (Dan Mulcahey, foreman), Lyle Talbot (Narrator), Mary Hill (Doreen Culbertson), Robert Knapp (Grant Phillips), Tandra Quinn (Tarantella), Harmon Stevens (Dr. Leland J. Masterson), Nico Lek (Jan van Croft), Dolores Fuller (Blonde 'Watcher in the Woods')

Next - what started out as “Lost Women Of Zarpa” ended up on the shelf for several years until it was bought by Ron “If Footmen Tire You…” Ormond, wrapped in extra scenes and released it as “Mesa Of Lost Women”. It’s hard to see where the old footage ends and the new footage begins – in fact every scene barely hangs together, it’s like a patchwork quilt held together by moth spit and fading hope.

It starts in a fairly straightforward fashion - two lost souls wander endlessly across the Muerto Desert as the Narrator informs us it means “the desert…of death!” before launching into a rant about the war the bipeds – that’s us pathetic humans – and the hexapods. What could he mean? Well, pathetic humans, all will be revealed soon enough…

Once rescued, the male, pilot Grant Phillips, manages to spit out his story of “supermonsters… superbugs” to an incredulous foreman, but Pepe the sympathetic Mexican is a believer. The Narrator then talks directly to Pepe and flashes him back even before Grant’s story to an earlier one: that of Dr Masterson, leading organotherapist, visiting the famed scientist Dr Aranya, in his Mesa hideout in the Mexican mountains. There he finds actor Jackie Coogan, former child actor, future Uncle Fester and now single name actor in Mesa… with a bung eye and mole the size of a German cockroach perched on his face, and his experiments in crossbreeding humans and spiders using venom from an enormous spider puppet he keeps in his closet.

The women are gorgeous, decked out in diaphanous gowns and Bo Derek wigs, but the males end up as dwarves, “puny” and “insignificant”. The wills of both sexes are controlled by Aranya, whose ambitions are (not surprisingly) to take over the world. Masterson has an attack of conscience and tells Aranya he’s insane. “Gibberish!” (not jibberish) Aranya yells back, and does something off-camera to Masterson to send him straight to the Meurto State Asylum.

Cut to the Muerto Cantina, in which rich guy Van Croft and his unimpressed fiancĂ©e Doreen watch one of Aranya’s most successful creations Tarantella do her spidery dance of seduction before she’s dispatched by a wiggy, gun-toting Masterson whose male nurse informs everyone he’s not supposed to be outside his rubber room, and is not the full tray of sausages. Masterson forces Van Croft’s group and his pilot – ah, finally Grant’s story begins! Welcome, old son - at gunpoint to fly over the Muertos Desert, only to crashland in Aranya’s Mesa that’s crawling with his experiments.

And that’s just the beginning of a classic bad (and I mean BAAAAAD) film that seems much longer than its seventy minute running time, though you’ll wish it would never end. If the preposterous narration sounds like Orson Welles reading an Ed Wood Jr script, you’re close – it’s actually Wood regular Lyle Talbot. And the Ed Wood Jr connections don’t just end there; that’s also Wood’s girlfriend and erstwhile leading lady Dolores Fuller as the 'Watcher in the Woods'. Like Wood’s films there’s a jaw-dropping weirdness and delirium about the proceedings that’s utterly addictive, and always – ALWAYS! – that fluttering, stuttering flamenco guitar in the background that’ll send you right to the Muerto State Asylum (“the asylum…of death!”). Superbugs, Superbad, Superfreaky – it’s the 1953 Mesa Of Lost Women.

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