Friday, November 23, 2007

Camera Obscura: The Strangest, Weirdest Movie Ever Made?

I was reading some reference books the other day and read about a movie released in 1970 which I had never heard about, a movie that boasts a cast which includes Richard Pryor, Guy Lombardo, Colonel Sanders and Ultra Violet (just to name a few). From what I have been able to learn about it, it may well be one of the strangest and weirdest movies to ever tumble out of America, if only for the huge cast of celebrities who agreed to be in it.

The so-called plot of the movie, called "The Phynx", is centered on how the country of Albania is kidnapping the most famous American celebrities of the day (um, yeah, we'll get to that list in a minute), so a sort-of CIA operation is launched with their plan to create a rock and roll band and send them into Albania as a touring act to rescue the celebs. The band is called The Phynx - a sort of psychedelic spelling of the Finks (I guess).

The movie is a bit hard to describe since no video or DVD copies exist. Bootleg copies are out there, but I am fearful of what dark nether regions of the world one must go to to find one.

Anyway, a crazy communist Albanian general (Michael Ansara) kidnaps celebs to entertain the imprisoned King and his wife happy (played by George Tobias and Joan Blondell). A host of cameo appearances by other 'stars' train the Phynx members for their tactical action on Albania.

Here is a partial list of the 'stars' in this train wreck of a movie: Dick Clark, Ed Sullivan, Colonel Sanders (yes, the one from KFC), James Brown, Richard Pryor, Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan (Tarzan and Jane!), Huntz Hall and Leo Gorcy (from the old Bowery Boys movies), Harold "Oddjob" Sakata, Guy Lombardo, Xavier Cugat, Joe Louis, Rich Little, Busby Berkley, Ruby Keeler, Rudy Vallee, Edgar Bergen, Martha Raye, Butterfly McQueen (from Gone With The Wind!!), Ultra Violet, Rona Barrett, Andy Devine, Dorothy Lamour, Jay Silverheels and John Hart (Tonto and the Lone Ranger!!!), George Jessell, Clint Walker and even more odd choices.

There's even a shot in the movie (according to sources) of stock footage of Richard Nixon signing into law a day celebrating "Phynxgiving Day."


Unlike, say, an Ed Wood movie, which is bad and awful and made on a shoestring, this one was a big budget major studio release from Warner Bros.

Maybe the reasons it is not available on tape or DVD are good ones. Maybe the nation of Albania has all the copies and has them hidden in some vault.

Still, this sounds so bad it might just be good. Maybe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Futurama Returns With New Movie

"Good news everyone!!"

Fine news for fans of the once-cancelled and now revived animated sci-fi comedy show "Futurama": the show is back next Tuesday with a direct-to-DVD movie called "Bender's Big Score."

This review says

""Bender's Big Score" is an absolutely wonderful return for the series, as not only does the film deliver a clever (a late twist is not only unexpected, but rather sweet) and often hysterical time travel tale, but a film that will both please fans (who get some references to episodes, as well as the return of supporting players Nibbler, Zapp Branigan and Kiff) and hook in newcomers.

As much as I liked "Futurama" (although especially later seasons, as the show continued to get funnier in later years as it developed characters and built further upon the concept), I found "Bender's Big Score" exceeded my expectations, as despite the direct-to-DVD nature of the flick, it really feels like a full feature film and not an extended episode with a lot of filler. I'm looking forward to the next film (which will apparently come out early in 2008), and hopefully if these direct-to-DVD films are successful, Fox will consider bringing back the series.

Note - the film does end with
a cliffhanger, and the commentary notes that there will be three more "Futurama" features."

Plus Al Gore and Evil Santa make appearances in this new feature.

I am estatic with nerdly joy.