1/12/07

812 The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies

(1964, Horror-ish/Musical, color)

You dirty feelthy peeg!

Rating: ***

In a nutshell:

A carnival fortuneteller sends a hypnotized young man on a psychedelic murder spree.

Summary:

You dirty feelthy peeg!Madame Estrella entertains a doughy man in a suit, plying him with liquor and sexual advances. He accepts the liquor but rebuffs the advances, as he’s not attracted to greasy fortunetellers with enormous warts/moles/pimples/latex prosthetics/whatever. Estrella calls him a “feelthy peeg” and summons the knobbly-faced, cigar-smoking Ortega to hold him down while she pours acid on his face. They stash him in the closet with her other “leetle pets.”

Later, rebellious youth Jerry and his big-haired foreign friend Harold pick up Jerry’s even bigger-haired girlfriend Angela for a day at the carnival. They ride the rollercoasters and scramblers, frolicking along the beach until well into the night.

Even laterer, nightclub dancer Marge gets drunk before a performance and makes critical mistakes during her routine. Her boss tells her to take the next show off and sober up, or she’s fired. She screams at a cat and wanders off to consult with Madame Estrella about her arbitrary feelings of foreboding. Estrella tells her she will die, so she freaks out and runs out the wrong curtain, finding the evil fortuneteller’s collection of “leetle pets.” She shrieks and runs into the streets.

She runs into Jerry, Harold, and Angela on her way out. They meet Madame Estrella, who charges them fifty cents for more vague pronouncements of doom. She secretly hypnotizes Jerry while they’re there. He ogles the girls at burlesque show next door, causing Angela to leave in a huff. Harold drives her home while Jerry heads in to see more.

Several amateurish performances by feathery half-dressed women later, Ortega hobbles in with a note. Lead stripper Carmelita wants to see him backstage after the show. Jerry obediently shows up in Carmelita’s dressing room. Turns out she’s Estrella’s younger and better-looking sister, and one of her doors leads to the slimy fortuneteller’s quarters. Estrella, Ortega, and Carmelita sit him down for a session of extended hypnosis. Jerry dons a hoodie and shows up at Marge’s next performance to stab her to death.

He tosses and turns that night, dreaming of face paint and intricately choreographed psychedelic strippers. He doesn’t wake until afternoon. He heads to Angela’s house to apologize. Angela pouts and twirls her spiral parasol, triggering a murderous hypnotic trance. Her brother Madison aborts Jerry’s attempt to strangle her. Jerry runs back to the carnival.

Meanwhile, amateur exotic dancer Stella has read about the murder, and recognizes the picture of Marge. She remembers Marge was just there the previous night, and remarks about the odd coincidence to Estrella. Estrella lies, claiming she’s never seen Marge before. Jerry arrives to demand an explanation, so she hypnotizes him again, sending him to murder the overcurious Stella and her carnie boyfriend. Then she pours acid on his face and tells Ortega to stash him with her other “leetle pets.”

Ortega doesn’t close the door all the way and several bulbous-faced monsters jump out, including the deformed doughy man from the beginning. They strangle Ortega, Estrella, and Carmelita and head into the burlesque show, killing at will. The cops arrive to gun them down. Harold, Madison, and Angela arrive to chase the now-deformed Jerry across the beach and up some rocks. The cops shoot him to death before they can reach him.

Introduction:

Mike must cross Crow's palm with silver.  Crow's lack of palms makes this difficult.It’s walkathon season on the Satellite of Love. Crow will walk for WALKATHON, which stands for “Walkers At Large Kinetically Altruistic Through Hygiene Or kNowledge.” Tom will walk for HELPING CHILDREN THROUGH RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, which stands for, “Hi Everyone, Let’s All Pitch In ‘N Get Cracking Here In Louisiana Doing Right, Eh? Now Then, Hateful, Rich, Overbearing Ugly Guys Hurt Royally Everytime Someone Eats A Radish, Carrot, Hors d’ouevre, And Never Does Dishes. Eventually, Victor Eats Lunch Over Peoria Mit Ein Neuesberger Tod.” He repeats the full name of his sponsoring organization at every opportunity.

Host Segment One:

Pearl has gathered the preternaturally powerful Space Children from the previous episode and is flying them home to their omnipotent parents. They fight and whine in the back seat until Pearl hands out such treats as garlic salt, cocktail weenies, and Argentinean corned beef product. Bobo and Brain Guy take over the experiment while she’s gone, but without Pearl they can only manage to contact the Satellite via audio feed and still photo. Brain Guy calls Bobo an “addlepated homunculus.” Bobo responds by flinging poop.

Host Segment Two:

Tom and Crow charge Mike fifty cents to tell his fortune. Crow taps into Mike’s aura for a long time, and then runs away with the money. Tom tries to run after him, but he can’t. As the crystal ball, his head is still bolted to the desk.

Host Segment Three:

Inspired by the incomprehensibly foreign Harold, Tom and Crow have acquired rich, full heads of hair and moussed them up into enormous pompadours. They urge Mike to do the same. After a little session with nanite hairdresser Shelley, Mike gets a pompadour so high it reaches through the hull and into space.

Host Segment Four:

Crow has hired the nobbly-faced Ortega to cater the break. Mike raises some concerns about Ortega’s hygiene and catches him ashing his cigar in the quail’s eggs. Ortega is mortified by the complaints and commits suicide with a bottle of acid.

Host Segment Five:

Tom and Crow have built a rollercoaster called “The Screaming Lemur.” They duct-tape Mike into the car, give him some hot coffee, and push the whole thing off the desk. Puzzled by Mike’s screams, they wonder if they ought to have included tracks. Out in space, Pearl has arrived at the children’s celestial home. Their grateful parents invite her in for carrot cake, but she declines. Quoth she, “I’d probably melt in your presence.” She drives off, reveling in her regained freedom.

Stinger:

Harold the big-haired foreigner. As far as I can tell, he says, “Wadya thin we came heahfo, drieh?”

Thoughts:

Ortega is the new Torgo.Let me see if I understand. If you upset Madame Estrella, and you’re a man, she disfigures you and locks you in the closet. If you upset her, and you’re a woman, she hypnotizes a random passer-by to stab you, then disfigures your assailant and locks him in the closet. If you accidentally discover her closet full of deformed unfortunates, then you determine your gender and head back to the applicable option above. Why does she keep a closet full of bulbous monsters, and what does she do with them? Was Ortega one of them, and why did she let him out? Why does the lovely Carmelita help her sister maintain her uglified menagerie? The answers are probably rather Jungian (or worse, Freudian) and don’t matter anyway. The secrecy surrounding the freak show in the armoire must be protected at all costs. We wouldn’t have a movie otherwise.

Or rather, we would, but it would consist simply of an embarrassing frolic on the beach, followed by an endless parade of amateur burlesque acts. What kind of dancer is Marge? She isn’t wearing much but she doesn’t strip, no poles are involved, and she certainly isn’t “exotic.” Plus, her male dancing partner remains fully dressed in a tuxedo. The other acts are similarly confusing. What does “Schick Out of Shape” mean? Why would you dress like a stereotypical African tribe and then paint your face white? Is that jazzy rendition of “Silent Night” supposed to whip the crowd into a frenzy? And speaking of the crowd, does the audience for this kind of show normally consist of middle-aged women in turbans? I know I’m supposed to come away aroused, but the whole sad affair reminds me more of a church talent show, only with more feathers and fewer clothes.

Given his tendency to film the exuberantly bizarre, director Ray Dennis Steckler is often considered to be the poor man’s Ed Wood. (Dubious praise, considering Ed Wood is already the poor man’s Ed Wood.) Mr. Steckler is most famous for directing Wild Guitar, starring wannabe idol Arch Hall, Jr. of Eegah fame. Steckler appears briefly in Eegah as well, during the ill-fated caveman’s final rampage by the pool. He stars in The Incredibly Strange etc. as Jerry, acting under the pseudonym Cash Flagg. (Dennis Kesdakian costars as Harold under the equally manly pseudonym, Atlas King. This is the kind of name a muscle-bound Italian thinks up for himself when his sword and sandal movie gets imported to the United States. Alan Steel née Sergio Ciani, I’m looking in your direction.) Though he’s never done me any direct harm, rumor has it he gave Coleman Francis his start in show business—something I will always hold against him.

My favorite host segment is the first appearance of Ortega. His crumbly cigar, misshaped face, and incomprehensible growl will appear in numerous other episodes from here on out, replacing wobbly-kneed Torgo as the deformed mascot of MST3K. My second and third favorite are the nauseating list of specialty foods Pearl feeds the Space Children, and the ridiculously lengthy acronyms for Crow and Tom’s charitable organizations, respectively. The rest work well, but aren’t special.

The movie is so bad it’s almost unwatchable, but the Satellite crew does a stellar job with the comments. While Jerry drives to the carnival, Harold points his finger out the car window for longer than could be considered reasonable, prompting Tom’s cry, “Come on world! Pull my finger!” When Madame Estrella reads Angela’s palm, Mike says, “You’ll have a big house and (snag, ptui) there’s a swimming pool.” During the many badly sung and badly recorded songs, Crow notes the movie was “recorded on Edison cylinder.” Considering most movies this bad are usually painful even with the running commentary, Mike and the ‘Bots pull off a minor miracle by overcoming the incomprehensible bizarreness of the film to make it actually enjoyable. It’s definitely worth at least one viewing.