Music Video of the Day: The Cooler with Ringo Starr (1982, dir. Godley & Creme)


I’m terrible with anniversaries or other things I should be aware of to make tie-in posts for. That’s why I missed the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I’m sure everyone posted the music video for Strawberry Fields Forever yesterday. So let’s go with something else Beatles related.

Back in 1982–or 1981 according to mvdbase–a short film was made starring Ringo Starr that is an extended music video for the songs Private Property, Sure To Fall, and Attention. From what I’ve read, this earned Lol Creme and Kevin Godley a nomination for a Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Best Short Film. Also from what I’ve read, it not only has Ringo in it, but Paul, Linda, and Barbara Bach.

I know I’ve said on numerous occasions that when something crosses the into A Hard Day’s Night territory then I don’t include it in one of these posts, but I’m making an exception here. Besides, it’s only about 10 minutes long. It’s not like the ABC film Mantrap (1983). That is over 50 minutes long.

I’m guessing this is Barbara Bach. I’m not really sure. I have no idea where Linda is in this.

I do know that this is definitely Paul.

The gist is that the audience travels with Ringo as he goes through a bunch of references to prison movies like The Great Escape (1963). As we go along we see Ringo try to escape in different ways. He has to shine Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS’ boots. He has a delusion that he is in the Old West where Paul may have also played the following cowboy:

I’m quite sure it’s him. I’m just not 100% sure.

Eventually Ringo McClane…

comes across what he thinks is going to be an exit, but it just takes him back to the cooler again.

Seeing as this came out in 1982, that would make this year the 35th anniversary of The Cooler. I found it to be enjoyable. It’s a nice little piece of post-Beatles work that I have to imagine has all but fallen into obscurity.

We can do one better than just that though. Since it is 2017, that means it’s also the 30th anniversary of when Ringo did commercials for Sun Country Classic Wine Cooler.

Ringo and a polar bear. I love it. I would have enjoyed it more if it were the polar bear played by Vincent Price, but I still enjoy these.

Enjoy!

Sci-Fi Film Review: The Humanoid (dir by Aldo Lado)


humanoid

When all the editors of the site got together at the TSL offices and discussed who would review what during our sci-fi month, there were two films that I immediately claimed for myself.  One was Luigi Cozzi’s Starcrash, which is one of the best-known and most popular of all the Italian Star Wars rip-offs.  The other was The Humanoid, which is considerably less known.

What is The Humanoid?  It’s an Italian film from 1979 that was designed to capitalize on the popularity of both Star Wars and James Bond.  While the plot was largely ripped off from Star Wars (with a dash of The Golem tossed in for good measure), the film’s cast featured three performers best known for their roles in two then-recent James Bond films.  The Spy Who Loved Me’s Barbara Bach played the evil Lady Agatha.  Moonraker‘s Corinne Clery played heroic scientist Barbara Gibson.  Finally, the title character — the Humanoid — was played by none other than Richard Kiel, who previously played evil henchman Jaws in both of those films.

The main reason that I wanted to see it was because the film was directed by Aldo Lado.  Aldo Lado may not be as well-known as Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, and Ruggero Deodato but he still directed some very memorable films.  Short Night of Glass Dolls, Who Saw Her Die?, and The Night Train Murders are all classics of their genre, combining shocking violence with Marxist political subtext.  What, I wondered, would an Aldo Lado-directed Star Wars rip-off be like?  Fortunately, The Humanoid has been uploaded to YouTube and I was able to find out.

The answer, to that question, is that the Aldo Lado-directed Star Wars rip-off isn’t very good.  But it’s so strange that it’s never less than watchable.

Allow me to attempt to explain the film’s plot.  If things get confusing … well, it can’t be helped.  That’s just the way this film works.  The Humanoid opens in outer space, with a lengthy opening title crawl that informs us that evil Lord Graal has escaped from prison and is planning on attacking the planet Metropolis (yes, the planet is named Metropolis) and overthrowing his brother, the benevolent ruler known as Great Brother.  As the title crawl disappears into space, the camera pans over to a giant spaceship and basically, it’s the exact same shot that opened Star Wars.  You have to admire a film that, in less than a minute, can rip-off Star Wars, Superman, and George Orwell.

Anyway, it turns out that Lord Graal is a tall and imposing figure who dresses in black armor, a black cape, and a black helmet.  (Sound familiar?)  He’s played by Ivan Rassimov, who played a lot of villains in a lot of Italian exploitation films.  Sadly, he never takes off that helmet so we never get to see the truly impressive head of hair that was almost always a highlight of every Rassimov performance.

humanoid_07

Graal’s main ally is Lady Agatha (Barbara Bach), who is actually several centuries old but she remains young by daily injections of a serum that is made up on virgin blood.  (The Bathory Method, in other words.)  Lady Agatha is really evil but she does have really great hair and she gets to wear this V-neck dress that is simply to die for and provides an interesting contrast to the amazingly boring white jumpsuits that all of the good people seem to be wearing.

The youth serum was developed by a mad scientist named Dr. Kraspin (played by five-time Oscar nominee Arthur Kennedy).  And Dr. Kraspin is good for more than just youth serums!  He’s also developed a method of mind control, a way to turn humans into … humanoids!

(“Come quickly!” Dr. Kraspin cries, at one point, “I am creating my first humanoid!”)

Dr. Kraspin tests his method out on interstellar police officer, Golob (Richard Kiel).  Good Golob has a beard and mustache and spends most of his time talking to his pet robot, Robodog.  (“This is my robot dog!” Golob enthusiastically says at one point.)  However, when Golob gets hit by Kraspin’s Humanoid Ray, the beard and the mustache vanish and Golob just growls.  Much as in The Golem, Kraspin places a device on Golob’s forehead which allows him to control Golob’s actions.

Good Golob

Good Golob

Bad Golob

Bad Golob

Meanwhile, Kraspin also has a grudge against Dr. Barbara Gibson (Corrine Clery) and sends Golob to destroy her.  However, Barbara is hiding out with enigmatic child genius Tom Tom (Marco Yeh) and the Han Soloish Nick (Leonard Mann).  And, fortunately for all of them, Tom Tom has the power to make crossbow-wielding angels descend from the heavens…

One of the things that makes The Humanoid an interesting viewing experience is that it’s essentially a kid’s film that was made for an exploitation audience.  Hence, scenes featuring cute Robodog and precocious Tom Tom are mixed in with scenes of brutal violence and a naked virgin being drained of her blood so that Agatha can remain young.  It makes for a notably odd viewing experience.

But that’s appropriate because The Humanoid is one weird movie.  Much as he did with Night Train Murders (which was “inspired” by Wes Craven’s Last House On the Left), Aldo Lado doesn’t allow The Humanoid‘s rip-off status to prevent him from tossing almost everything you could imagine into The Humanoid.  Full of melodrama, bad special effects, over-the-top performances, and way too much plot for a 90 minute movie, The Humanoid is one of those movies that simply has to be seen to believed.  It’s utterly ludicrous and, as a result, oddly likable.  It may not be good but it’s never less than watchable.

Golob and RoboDog

Golob and RoboDog

 

James Bond Film Review: The Spy Who Loved Me (dir. by Lewis Gilbert)


For the past few days, the Shattered Lens has been taking a journey through the history of the James Bond film franchise.  Today, we continue that journey by taking a look at 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me.  This was the 10th film in the “official” James Bond series and the 3rd to star Roger Moore as 007.  It was also the first of Moore’s films to be embraced by contemporary critics and it’s still considered to be one of the best films in the entire series.  It’s also one of my personal favorites.

The Spy Who Loved Me opens with one of the most of brilliant pre-credit sequences in the history of the franchise.  British and Russian submarines are mysteriously vanishing.  M (a returning Bernard Lee) summons James Bond (Roger Moore) to investigate.  Not surprisingly, Bond is with a woman at a ski resort when the summons comes.  As Bond starts to leave, the woman says, “But James, I need you.”

“So does England,” Bond replies.

Now, this was long before my time so I can’t say for sure but I always like to imagine  that line got some applause when it was first heard in theaters.  It is with that line (and, even more importantly, with his self-assured but humorous delivery of that line) that Roger Moore truly claims the role of James Bond as his own.  No, this scene seemed to be telling us, Moore would never be Sean Connery.  But he would be James Bond.

After leaving the chalet, Bond finds himself being pursued by several Russian agents.  This downhill ski chase, filmed by real people who were truly putting their lives in danger in the days before CGI, is one of the most exciting of all the chases to be found in Bond films and it builds up to a perfect climax.  After Bond manages to kill one of his pursuers, he skis right over the edge of a cliff.  Luckily, he has a parachute in his backpack and, of course, it’s a union jack parachute.  Again, I like to imagine that audiences applauded at this moment.

Bond’s escape leads to the opening credits and, even more importantly, Carly Simon singing the film’s theme song, “Nobody Does It Better.”  Seriously, I love this song.

Both MI6 and the KGB discover that the plans for a submarine tracking system are being sold on the Egyptian black market.  Suspecting that this is connected to the missing submarines, both James Bond and the Russian agent Anya Asamova (Barbara Bach) are sent to Egypt.  Bond and Anya team up to find the plans.  Along the way, they are attacked multiple times by Jaws (Richard Kiel), a hulking man with steel teeth.

Eventually, Bond and Anya discover that the man responsible for the missing submarines is Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens), a shipping magnate who is planning on destroying the surface world so that he can start a new society underwater.  The two secret agents work together to defeat Stromberg even though Anya assures Bond that she’s going to kill him as soon as their mission is completed.  Remember the man who Bond killed during that opening ski chase?  It turns out that man was Anya’s lover and she’s only putting off getting her revenge so that she and Bond can save the world first.

With its confident mix of humor, intrigue, and spectacular action, The Spy Who Loved Me remains one of the most popular of the Bond films.  It’s certainly one of my favorites.

Along with From Russia With Love and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, this is the most romantic of the Bond films.  Roger Moore and Barbara Bach have a very real chemistry and, as a result, you actually care about whether or not Bond and Anya will still be together after the end credits.  As played by Barbara Bach, Anya is one of the strongest of the Bond girls.  For once, Bond and his lover are truly equals.  For anyone who doubts the importance of having a strong Bond girl, I invite them to compare this movie to The Man With The Golden Gun.

For those who are more into action than romance, The Spy Who Loved Me will not leave them disappointed.  This film features some of the best set pieces in the history of the Bond franchise.  Along with the ski chase at the start of the film, there’s also a genuinely exciting car chase that features Bond and Anya being pursued by a helicopter piloted by Caroline Munro.

(Speaking of cars, this film also features one of my favorite Bond gadgets — a car that doubles as a submarine.)

Karl Stromberg makes for an interesting villain.  His plan makes absolutely no sense but he may be the first Bond bad guy to motivated by perverted idealism as opposed to pure greed.  As you would expect from a Bond film, his secret underwater HQ is quite an impressive set.  However, the best thing about Stromberg is that he employs Jaws.  With his stainless steel teeth, Jaws was the best henchman since Goldfinger‘s Oddjob and he proved to be such a popular character that he actually returned in the next Bond film.

One final note: As has often been noted, The Spy Who Loved Me was the first Bond film to have absolutely nothing in common (beyond a title) with the book that it was based on.  This is largely because the literary Spy Who Loved Me wasn’t really about James Bond.  Instead, it told the life story of Vivienne Michel, a Canadian woman who just happens to meet Bond towards the end of the book.  Fleming reportedly considered this book to be a failed experiment on his part and reportedly he only sold the film rights when he was assured that only the book’s title would be used.

That said, I recently read The Spy Who Loved Me and it’s not that bad.  Vivienne Michel is a compelling character and it’s interesting to, for once, see James Bond through the eyes of a lover as opposed to the other way around.  If it is a failed experiment, it’s still an experiment that’s worth reading.

As for the cinematic James Bond, he conquered the sea in The Spy Who Loved Me so it only made sense that, in his next film, he would attempt to conquer space.  We’ll take a look at Moonraker tomorrow.