(1959, Horror-Giant Critter, b&w), with:
Undersea Kingdom, Chapter One: Beneath the Ocean Floor
(1936, SciFi-Serial, b&w)
I’m a danger to myself and others.
In a nutshell:
Short: A naval officer and his band of misfits take on contentious Atlanteans.
Film: Semi-intelligent giant leeches prey on stupid backwoods folk.
In chapter one of Undersea Kingdom, navy superman “Crash” Corrigan has graduated from the Naval Academy by participating exclusively in the various sports programs. He becomes an officer whose sole responsibility seems to be to wrestle for the amusement of other officers. An admiring young boy climbs to a dangerous height to see his idol in action, dangling precariously by one hand when he slips off a windowsill. Crash interrupts the wrestling match to save him with a series of daring gymnastic stunts.
The boy turns out to be Billy Norton, whose father is a figure of some prominence in the field of ridiculous science. Billy takes Crash home to his goofily bemused dad, interrupting the unveiling of his latest invention, a device that places blame for earthquakes.
Just then, feyly dressed men with lightning hats cause a devastating earthquake from the bottom of the ocean. The earthquake-blaming device finds them out, so Crash, Billy, the professor, and a number of expendable characters voyage in an atomic submarine to the lost continent of Atlantis. Crash goes on ahead to find out if the natives are friendly. They aren’t, but Crash starts beating people up before he bothers to ask.
The medieval-ish Atlantean brigade is no match for his keen navy ingenuity, but then tank-driving robots with ray guns arrive. He and Billy climb a mountain to draw their fire, but an invisible (read: clearly visible) ray gun and some hot dog shaped missiles trap them on a fiery cliff! Oh, how will they ever escape?
In Attack of the Giant Leeches, repulsive backwoods crackers gather in the general store to boast about their otter-poaching prowess while the buttery storeowner ineffectually tries to assert himself over his sexy but unfriendly wife. The ugliest poacher tells a tale about a giant slimy thing and then goes out to check his traps. The sexy wife goes out at about the same time to avoid her husband’s clumsy advances.
Meanwhile the local game warden and his neurotic, coffee-obsessed girlfriend are out hunting for poachers and confiscating their traps. The game warden locks her in the truck while he goes to investigate a scream. He finds out that the wandering sexy wife has discovered the now-bloodless body of the ugliest poacher.
After telling the grumpy sheriff to “go soak your head” numerous times, he discusses speculative zoology with the local vigilante doctor, who’s also the father of his neurotic, coffee-obsessed girlfriend. They wander out in the swamp looking for giant blood-sucking creatures, but don’t find anything.
Meanwhile, the sexy wife wanders out into the swamp to get it on with the handsomest poacher while the buttery storeowner makes some deliveries. The storeowner finds them tenderly discussing their feelings and chases them through the swamp with a shotgun. He forces them into the water, but finally relents when they plead for mercy. It’s too late; the eponymous leeches grab them and drag them away.
Blamed for their murders, the storeowner hangs himself in prison while a pair his former poacher customers search the swamp for the bodies. The leeches find the poachers and drag them down to an underwater cave where all of the missing victims lie around and moan while the leeches slowly drink their blood.
The vigilante doctor and the coffee-obsessed girlfriend drop dynamite into the swamp, over the strenuous objections of the game warden. The resulting blast brings up the now-bloodless bodies of the three poachers. The game warden and his skin-diving friend head underwater to investigate and engage in a knife-and-harpoon fight with the oversized invertebrates. They recover the sexy wife’s body while the girlfriend and the doctor blame the space program for the leech’s size and aggressiveness. The bloodied underwater adventurers come back to shore and blow the whole swamp to hell. The bodies of three leeches float to the surface, while the last surviving leech slinks away.
The holo-clowns have been stuck in the Hexfield Viewscreen for weeks. Joel tries to turn them off while they engage in horrible clownish antics and bemoan their horrible clownish fates. Quoth a holo-clown, “Did I show you my rash?”
Host Segment One:
The Mads have invented Patches the Leech, who will suck the desire to smoke out of TV’s Frank, even though he never smoked to begin with. As Dr. Forrester applies the leech to his neck and ear, Frank says, “This is the most action I’ve gotten in…” Joel has invented the insta-adolescence kit, which brings on adolescence with a variety of sebaceous oils and rebellious catch phrases.
Host Segment Two:
Joel and the ‘Bots discuss how they would dress to take over the world. Crow settles on a Lone Ranger mask and a swimsuit made of string cheese. Down in Deep 13, Dr. Forrester has dressed up in a velvet suit, hook hand, and enormous feathered hat.
Host Segment Three:
Joel and the ‘Bots drink A LOT of coffee and talk about their odd dreams. Quoth Gypsy, “I dream I fly in color.”
Host Segment Four:
Joel and the ‘Bots dress up Hee Haw style and sing the song, “A Danger To Myself and Others,” before they spontaneously explode. “I’m a danger to myself and others / I like shows with Sally Struthers.”
Host Segment Five:
Joel and the ‘Bots try to figure out the leech’s intelligence level. Crow muses that they’re probably smart enough to say Chili’s is their favorite restaurant, but not smart enough to know it’s a national chain. Down in Deep 13, Patches the Leech has been on Frank too long. Dr. Forrester takes the now-gigantic leech out to lunch so that they can discuss show business while the bloodless Frank collapses on the button.
Little Billy cheers for Crash.
Plausibility isn’t even in lexicon for these old SciFi serials, and that’s probably a good thing. All the heroes are staunchly patriotic and faultlessly moral, while all the villains are ridiculously dressed and impractically evil. The idea that someone would need to invent a device to prevent villains from causing earthquakes is absurd in and of itself. I liked the serial short, but it’s just as well I don’t have to watch the whole series on MST3K. After a certain point they seem to repeat themselves endlessly.
Wow, do you think coffee might have anything to do with that girl’s tension? There was one scene where she offered everyone muffins, but then stopped, as if realizing her mistake, and offered coffee as well. I’m guessing the writers couldn’t think of a purpose for her beyond standard girlfriend whining, and padded her part with continuous offers of the caffeinated beverage. Doesn’t stop her from being in the movie a lot. Her game warden boyfriend takes her into every dangerous situation, for coffee purposes I guess, or maybe because he’s hoping the leeches will eat her first and give him time to get away.
All of the host segments are quite funny, and a couple of them (coffee dreams and world conquest fashion) do the mundane-conversations-taken-to-bizarre-extremes thing that the Joel-era cast does so well. The song “A Danger To Myself and Others” is the best segment, where they sing about how stupid they are and why they keep getting asked to do stupid and dangerous things. The holo-clowns come in at a close second, moonlighting from Being From Another Planet. Frank Conniff and Mike Nelson do a hilarious pair of angsty clowns who don’t like to perform any more than the SOL crew likes watching them perform.
The comments go fairly well during the film segments, starting with Crash’s academy graduation where Crow has the officer handing out diplomas say, “Go out and kill,” to each and every graduate. When the atomic submarine gets dragged to Atlantis, someone in the short says, “We’re being dragged down by some mysterious force,” to which someone in the theater says, “The plot?” Crow also has several funny comments about the Atlantean’s “fascist underoos.” In the film, the poachers’ horrible dialects prompt Tom to say, “When you get near a sentence, let me know.” While the Elmer Fudd-ish storeowner chases his wife and her lover through the swamp, Joel says, “I’ll catch you, you wascally adultewers.” It’s a fun episode.
(1959, Horror-Giant Critter, b&w), with: