12/15/06

418 Attack of the Eye Creatures

(1965, SciFi/Horror, color)

Blasted smoochers on my property!

Rating: ***1/2

In a nutshell:

Fragile, incompetent aliens invade the earth.

Summary:

Proof positive that Larry Buchanan just doesn't care.The title that appears on screen is “Attack of the the Eye Creatures,” which does not bode well for the rest of the film. This is another one of those “multiple plot” movies that would be impossible to summarize coherently all at once. Let’s try them separately:

Plot #1: “The Leopard-Print Colonel.” Grim officers do tense paperwork in a high school classroom. A pimply young lieutenant arrives to watch a short film narrated by Peter Graves, chronicling a flying saucer that keeps swooping down over the earth. The lieutenant agrees to convey this vital information to his immediate superior, a rotund, bald little colonel with horn-rimmed glasses and a leopard-print bathrobe.

Their instructions are to watch the sky, just in case the hostile saucer shows up, but the cringe-inducing comic relief guys hijack the spy cameras to peep at the libidinous teenagers of Plot #4 while they make out endlessly on the hill. The spaceship lands undetected, and when the nauseating soldiers finally see one of the eponymous eye creatures (who look like Michelin Men with permanent yawns) roaming the forest, they assume that they’re watching a really bad monster movie by mistake. Ah, the irony.

Somehow the leopard-print colonel and his pimply lieutenant find out about it anyway and go to investigate. They surround the spaceship, hailing it with threats and gunshots before they send a welding team to try and burn their way in. One of the welders accidentally lights a fuse that blows the whole saucer to hell. They lieutenant feeds the cops a story about a jet crash and everyone goes home, complimenting each other on a job well done.

Plot #2: “Driving With the Headlights Off.” Teen heartthrob Stan and his bulbous-headed girlfriend Susan drive down a forest road in the dark. They run over an eye creature, completely severing one if its clawed hands. The body dies but the hand survives to puncture their tires so that they can’t escape. They run into the woods and break into the shack of an ornery hermit, who drives them out with a shotgun.

The hermit calls the police to report their trespassing. They come out to find the body of the libidinous oily carnie from Plot #4 lying in front of Stan’s car. They arrest Stan and Susan for vehicular manslaughter, despite their insistence that they ran over a monster instead of a man. Even Susan’s high-powered attorney father doesn’t believe them. They escape to try and clear their names, going back to the scene of the crime to look for evidence. The evidence finds them; the crawling hand (déjà vu) climbs into their stolen cop car and attacks Susan. They run back to town and recruit Mike (the surviving carnie) to hunt down the aliens in the woods.

From here their plot merges with plot #4, except for a short scene where the autopsy shows that the libidinous carnie died of a heart attack, and had never been hit by their car at all. Despite their acknowledged innocence, the authorities stubbornly refuse to help them against the rampaging eye creatures.

Plot #3: “Blasted Smoochers On My Property!” This isn’t really a plot, per se. Mostly it’s just an excuse to have a grizzled old coot that talks like Yosemite Sam wander the woods with a shotgun at night. (I use the words “at night” rather loosely. Most of the scenes were obviously intended to be shot “day for night,” a process that involves darkening brightly lit scenes to make them appear as if they had been filmed in the dark. Except that in this film, they didn’t bother to darken half of the film they shot. The whole story takes place in one night, but it appears to be noon in every other scene.) The grizzled old coot doesn’t really have much to do with any other storyline, except that most of the other characters break into his shack at some point to use the phone.

Plot #4: “Oily Carnies In Sweater Dresses.” A pair of down-on-their-luck carnies exchange innuendo in a diner. One of them (Mike) puts on a stripy sweater dress and goes to bed, while the other heads out to make-out hill for sweet, sweet lovin’. Since he didn’t bother to bring a girl with him, we can only assume he intends to borrow someone else’s when he gets there. On his way he discovers the eye creature that was run over by Stan and Susan in Plot #2. He excitedly calls his partner from the grizzled old coot’s shack. Mike listens to him talk about the alien for while before plugging his ears and going to sleep.

The libidinous carnie goes back to recover the alien corpse, but is quickly overwhelmed by the fallen monster’s friends. They beat him to death, drag away their fellow’s corpse, and leave him in front of Stan’s car.

Mike finally wakes up again with Stan and Susan on his doorstep, anxious to clear their names of his murder. He accompanies them back to where the hand is locked in a stolen patrol car. Mike tries to take a picture, but the flash disintegrates the murderous appendage, revealing the aliens’ extreme vulnerability to light. The rest of the eye creatures come to avenge the hand’s death, and of course the car won’t start, but our heroes keep them at bay with a floodlight until the battery goes dead. Mike runs into the woods, only to be knocked unconscious and carried away.

Stan and Susan run to make-out hill, disintegrating monsters with Mike’s discarded flash bulb as they go. The other lovebirds of the hill follow them to the monster’s hideout where they surround them with their cars and disintegrate all the monsters at once with their headlights. Everyone but the lonesome Mike goes back to their previous osculatory exercises.

Introduction:

Special guest appearance by the uncaring Mr. Buchanan.Tom and Crow are best friends. They talk at length about how much they like each other, gradually devolving into hatred. Tom accidentally rips Crow’s arm off.

Host Segment One:

Joel reattaches Crow’s arm. The Mads have invented the Ouija router, which contacts the spirits of woodworkers past. The spirit of Ethan Allen carves out the words, “Bless this Mess.” Joel has invented the squirting phone and the squirting fax. He sends a squirting fax to Dr. Forrester. Quoth Dr. Forrester, “Just for that, Joel, I’m going to send you the Attack of the Eye Creatures—which I was going to do anyway.”

Host Segment Two:

Tom wants to make out with someone. He instructs Crow to “tilt your head back and moan,” but Crow runs away screaming. Gypsy has a similar reaction. Magic Voice rejects him also, citing a lack of corporeal form. Tom forlornly delivers a long list of questions about the nature of kissing. Joel sneaks up behind him and then plants one right on his beak.

Host Segment Three:

Joel and the ‘Bots do a tribute to a lesser-known character actor named Earl Holliman. Apparently he appeared in the TV drama Police Woman, but not in this film. “Earl Holliman: who would have been William Shatner, had there not already been one.”

Host Segment Four:

Joel, Tom, and Crow are the Rip Taylor Trio. They don gray wigs and mustaches and prance merrily about, tossing glitter in the air and shouting bad puns like, “The eye creatures’ favorite president was Eisenhower!”

Host Segment Five:

Joel and the ‘Bots display a variety of stills from the film to show that the filmmakers “just didn’t care.” These include various night scenes that were obviously filmed around noon, zippers on the eye creature costumes, eye creatures wearing black turtlenecks, eye creatures wearing athletic shoes, and the repulsive voyeuristic soldiers. Down in Deep 13, TV’s Frank has brought director Larry Buchanan to rebut them, but he won’t. He just doesn’t care.

Stinger:

An oily carnie in a sweater dress thoughtfully hangs up the phone.

Thoughts:

I guess he cares about making us cringe.In The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, Paul Chaplin makes a big deal about the oily characters in the film. On the one hand, though these characters certainly do not skimp with the pomade, they’re not really all that much oilier than anyone else in the sixties. They don’t come anywhere near the liberally applied pectoral grease of Ator or Hercules. On the other hand, I can see his point in that most of the film’s characters have a kind of quease-inducing spiritual oiliness. They’re smarmy, self-congratulatory, and gleefully voyeuristic to the point of nausea. They’re not oily in body (at least, not outside the norm for that time period), they’re oily in mind, which is probably even worse.

This movie itself is something of a paradox. It tries so hard to be goofy, fails miserably, and then unintentionally ends up that way anyway. It’s hopelessly overacted, and steals shamelessly from everything in the genre that ever came before it. Many of the teenagers in the film seem to be actual teenagers, zits and all, and most of those that aren’t seem to be in their early twenties at the oldest. Of course most the soldiers, cops, and carnies are around that age as well. I could count the number of old and middle-aged people appearing in the film on one hand.

There were some good host segments in this episode, with the high point at Tom’s make-out scene and the low point in their bizarre and overlong tribute to Earl Holliman. Perhaps it would have been funnier if I had ever seen Police Woman; as it is, it just confused me. The kissing scene was excellent, however. “Tilt your head back and moan,” still makes me giggle. The Rip Taylor trio was fast and funny. The still screen montage at the end was hilariously accurate. Mike Nelson as director Larry Buchanan somehow manages to convey incredible depths of apathy without speaking a single line.

The there are some really good quips in the film segments, mostly from Tom who narrates the diner scene with, “brought to you by white beer—a trailer park of flavor in every bottle.” When a creepy theremin attempts to heighten the suspense he suggests “Mariah Carey’s running through the woods.” When the eye creatures attack an oily carnie he cries, “He’s being attacked by creamy nougat centers.” When Stan delivers instructions to his fellow smoochers, Joel says, “and don’t be alarmed if it suddenly becomes two in the afternoon.” In spite of the despicable comic relief soldiers, good host segments and strong riffing make this episode well worth watching.