Saturday, December 21, 2013

Adamo ed Eva, la prima storia d'amore (1983)

... aka: Adam and Eve
... aka: Adam and Eve: The First Love Story
... aka: Adam and Eve vs. Cannibals
... aka: Adam and Eve Versus the Cannibals
... aka: Adamo ed Eva
... aka: Adan y Eva, la primera historia de amor
... aka: Blue Paradise

Directed by:
"Vincent Green" (Enzo Doria)
"John Wilder" (Luigi Russo)

Seeing how Christmas is right around the corner, TV's been flooded with two of the most popular types of shows this time of year: heartwarming, family-friendly holiday specials and religious-themed programming. Since I've already sat through "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" (featuring fine voice work from Mr. Boris Karloff, I might add!) and - my personal favorite - "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," I needed a God flick to make it all complete. After all, my procrastinating ass is really dreading the marathon of last-minute shopping I have to do tomorrow. I could really use some sound moral guidance or else I may start screaming unholy profanities at complete strangers while getting pushed, bumped and standing in hour-long check-out lines. So, what will it be this year? The Greatest Story Ever Told? Nah. The Ten Commandments? No thanks. I've already had to sit through it at least a dozen times. The Passion of the Christ? Not even if you paid me. Adam and Eve Versus the Cannibals? Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! Blasphemy, you say? Well, what did you expect? This is The Bloody Pit of Horror, not The 700 Club.

After the creation of the universe (insert stock footage of explosions and volcanoes here), a cocoon rises from beneath the Earth and a bloody, naked, long-haired Adam (Mark Gregory) comes crawling out. He watches a beautiful waterfall, takes a stroll around the Garden of Eden to pet tiger cubs, gets scared by his own reflection in a pond and finally ends up on the beach staring at the horizon longingly. Yes, poor Adam is lonely. He sculpts a woman out of sand, lightning strikes, it starts raining and, as the water washes away his sculpture, Eve (Andrea Goldman) is underneath. Unlike the actor who plays Adam, who looks like the unholy offspring of Fabio and an aborigine, Eve is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned hottie. The two frolic around for what feels like an eternity as a God awful romantic ballad plays on the soundtrack. Any song that chooses to rhyme "sweet caress" and "tenderness" has gone one step too far in violating the upchuck factor if you ask me. And then a sinking feeling begins to fall over me... This is starting to remind me of two movies I absolutely detest: The Blue Lagoon (1981) and Paradise (1982). Both of those stomach-churners were nothing more than thinly disguised excuses for adult audiences to be able ogle underage teenage flesh and pretend like they're watching a "real" movie in the process. This one really doesn't want to make us feel guilty about it by having the religious angle, but it starts out being the same old thinly-disguised smut all the same.

So Little Miss Strategically Placed Hair gets bored, watches a couple of lions humping, is talked into eating the forbidden fruit from an apple tree by a talking python and thus the world gets its first taste of "sin." She and Adam have doggy-style sex and God gets pissed off because apparently it's only OK for large African cats to screw. As a result, the puppet master causes a hellacious wind storm and tries to smash Adam and Eve with a huge, stop-motion boulder Indiana Jones-style. He also levels the entire planet, leaving behind only rocks and sand. Thankfully, from here on out, this thing starts going off in all kinds of bizarre directions. They find a nest with large eggs inside... and then are attacked by a pterodactyl (!!) Adam snaps its neck, rips open its chest with his bare hands and then he and his girl begin eating its raw innards. Not wanting to waste it, Eve creates a fashion forward bikini out of the creature's wings. From there, they encounter a tribe of cannibal ape men, who kidnap them, tie them to poles and take them back to their caves, but a tiger scares them off so Adam and Eve can escape.

After getting into an argument about how to get to the ocean, Adam and Eve part ways. She ends up running across a tribe of peaceful vegetable eaters who paint themselves green, taking a particular liking to one of them (Ángel Alcázar) she dubs "Green Man." The two hit it off, have sex and then Adam stumbles upon them lounging together by his favorite waterfall in their post coital glory. The village of green people is invaded by a slew of pug-nosed mutant cannibal men in huge, puffy orange wigs who start killing and eating everyone. They drag Eve and "Green Man" back to their village, where they kill and eat a naked green woman. Adam saves the day and the three manage to escape into the forest. Torn between her two lovers, Eve chooses Adam, but when he finds out she's knocked up he takes her on "The Maury Show" for a paternity test and discovers she got drunk at a party and slept with 20 other guys and has no clue who the father really is. OK, so that last part didn't really happen... but it might as well as far as this being biblically accurate is concerned.

Bogged down somewhat by numerous icky romantic interludes (and damn if they didn't play "the song" two more bloody times!), this is quite an interesting film otherwise and is actually much-better than either Lagoon or Paradise. The acting is surprisingly decent, the score, costumes, makeup and photography are all good and the various outdoor locations and scenery are superb. This also scores major audacity points for going all gonzo on the bible at a time when it certainly wasn't popular to be doing so. And did I forget to mention this also includes a hilarious fight scene between Green Man and one of the worst man-in-a-bear-suit bear's you'll ever see? Check it out.


Last Bride of Salem (1974) (TV)

... aka: ABC Afternoon Playbreak: 'Last Bride of Salem," The

Directed by:
Tom Donovan

The night before her family's big move, little Kelly (Joni Bick) has a really bad nightmare about a black-robed cult chanting over a potential human sacrifice. A bad omen? Offff course. Dad Matt Clifton (Bradford Dillman), a painter, and mom Jennifer (Lois Nettleton) have decided to move from Boston to tiny Salem Village in New England so that Matt can have some peace and quiet to concentrate on his artwork. And with a name like Salem Village, you may already know what to expect (if some Lovecraftian character names don't also clue you in). They've been set up in a home owned by another artist - the famous Sebastian Mayhew (Paul Harding) - and been allowed to rent it dirt cheap. When they show up, they discover just why it's so affordable. The place is dusty, dirty, dark and well over 200 years old and looks like it hasn't been inhabited in about so long. Well, all except for one upstairs room, which has a fresh coat of white paint, a skylight and modern furniture. The strange out-of-place room appears to have been added on just recently. Across the street is a gloomy old mansion, and it's the same one Kelly had seen in her premonition. Their first night in the home, the lights flicker on and off and Jennifer is startled when the home's stern caretaker Seth Whately (Ed McNamara) and his strange mute son Thomas (Robert Hawkins) wander into her kitchen unannounced.

The next day they're off to church, where they meet some of the locals, including Dr. Hiram Fletcher (Murray Westgate) and his wife Grace (Susan Rubes), and the village's only doctor, Dave Glover (James Douglas), and his wife Rebecca (Patricia Hamilton). Everyone seems nice and friendly, so Jennifer invites them all to dinner. Dave takes it upon himself to then tell all about their home and what had supposedly gone down there. According to local legend, back in 1691, accusations of witchcraft spread like wildfire around the village, but the real witches and warlocks actually ran the entire town and the innocents they branded witches and later executed were actually being killed as sacrifices to Satan. A man named Prosper Morgan, who lived in the same farmhouse the Clifton family now occupy, supposedly burned down the witch's house, killing all of the evildoers... except for one. The sole survivor then made a pact with Satan to continue on living until he could destroy Morgan and all of the family bloodline. Being wily, the man decided to let one descendant keep living each generation just so he himself can remain alive.

Kelly's doll turns up missing, Seth peaks in windows, draws an upside down cross on their door and cuts off a lock of Matt's hair while he's sleeping and Thomas keeps trying to unsuccessfully warn the family. Not long after, Jennifer notices changes for the worse in both her husband and daughter. Both have become antisocial, short-tempered, secretive and moody. Kelly's premonitions continue and she stops wanting to do things with her (they think) imaginary friend named "Abehu;" who she claims lives in the woods. Matt becomes immersed in his work, barely leaves his studio and keeps painting the house across the street over and over again. As it turns out, the mansion across the street is occupied by a witch named Elsbeth March (Moya Fenwick), a coven of followers and a young man known only as "The Master" (Rex Hagon); all of whom have dark designs on both Matt and Kelly. Jennifer, with help from the local reverend, must try to get to the bottom of things before it's too late.

This ABC Afternoon Playbreak presentation (which runs just 73 minutes minus commercial breaks) is well acted by the leads and is competently made and plotted within its low-budget limitations. The most fascinating thing about it though is that somehow this meager, completely unknown videotaped TV presentation seems to have influenced Stephen King in his writing of "The Shining." The similarities are actually quite striking. Parents with one small child go to a secluded area so that the father can have peace to concentrate on his work. Matt and Jack Torrance are actually quite alike. Both work in an artistic profession; one's an artist, one's a writer. Both become completely and unhealthily immersed in their work. While Matt paints the same thing over and over again, Jack writes the same sentence over and over again. Both snap at their wives for disrupting their creative flow and both seem to be going crazy, possibly because of some supernatural force. Comparisons can also be drawn between the child characters as both have premonitions and both have imaginary friends; as well as the Jennifer character, who's at first almost annoyingly overly cheerful, just like Wendy Torrance, until she's forced to try to get to the bottom of things. There's certainly enough here to raise eyebrows.

Never released on VHS of DVD, Last Bride (which was a 20th Century Fox production) hasn't even been shown on TV for many, many, many years, and is extremely difficult to find these days. Dillman won a Daytime Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Daytime Drama Special for his work here (the film itself and Nettleton were also nominated). A very young John Candy can be spotted several times as a cult member.


Rymdinvasion i Lappland (1959)

... aka: Horror in the Midnight Sun
... aka: Invasion of the Animal People
... aka: Space Invasion from Lapland
... aka: Space Invasion of Lapland
... aka: Terror in the Midnight Sun

Directed by:
Virgil W. Vogel
Jerry Warren (1962 U.S. release)

Director Vogel began his film career as an editor in 1951. By the middle of the same decade he'd make his directorial debut with the somewhat fun THE MOLE PEOPLE (1956) and then became an in-demand TV director who worked on hundreds of television shows until his death in 1996. Here and there, he'd work on a low-budget movie. This is one of those, and it was made the same year he helped edit Orson Welles' masterpiece Touch of Evil (1958). As far as I can tell, Rymdinvasion i Lappland ("Space Invasion of Lapland"), a Swedish / US co-production filmed in English, received two different releases here in America after a 1959 release in Sweden. The first and (unfortunately) most common of these versions, which was a fixture on TV for years, was the one titled Invasion of the Animal People. Released in 1962, that version was victim of a Jerry Warren raping. He had it re-edited, cut out footage and then added new, cheap, talky scenes starring the original film's star, Barbara Wilson, plus new cast members George Mitchell, Katherine Victor and Fred Hoffman. Name value star John Carradine was then drafted to narrate the entire mess. This version also played in theaters on a double bill with Warren's Terror of the Bloodhunters (1962). An un-tampered with version titled either Horror in the Midnight Sun or Terror in the Midnight Sun later showed up. The Something Weird DVD contains both versions for easy comparison. The original cut before Warren got his grubby mitts on it is clearly the one to go with.

A large, round, glowing meteor-like object slides across the ground and crashes into a mountainside in the Midnight Sun Territory in Lappland above the Arctic Circle in Northern Sweden. Because natives reported that the unidentified object moved across the horizon for miles before finally deciding to fall, authorities begin to suspect that it wasn't really a meteor as reported, but some kind of spacecraft. American scientist Dr. Frederick Wilson (Robert Burton) shows up in Sweden to lead the investigation. He goes to the Royal Academy of Science, where Dr. Walter Ullman (Gösta Prüzelius) hooks him up with young playboy geologist Erik Engstrom (Sten Gester). Upon arriving in Lappland, Dr. Wilson and Erik meet up with military man Colonel Robert Bottiger (Bengt Blomgren), another scientist named Dr. Henrik (Åke Grönberg) and the rest of their expedition and they're off to survey the site by helicopter. Finding the still-smoldering object lodged in the snow, they decide to return the following day. Before that can happen, a bunch of slaughtered reindeer and giant footprints belonging to something "at least 20 feet tall" are found...  Is there a correlation between the fallen "meteor," the dead deer and the footprints?

The men, plus Dr. Wilson's rebellious (and pretty annoying) Olympic figure skating / skiing star niece Diane (Wilson), who sneaks on board the helicopter, head out to the site. There, they discover what the meteor truly is (a spherical ship), but something really tall and powerful shows up destroy both their helicopter and their pilot. Stranded miles from anywhere, Diane and Erik - the best skiers in the group - head out toward the nearest village for help. While the other men wait, one falls prey to something else lurking inside the spacecraft. Diane injures her knee hitting a tree, but luckily she and Erik find a safety cabin, which turns out to not be so safe when a very tall, hairy monster shows up and causes an avalanche. It grabs Diane and takes her back to the ship where she also encounters a trio of cone-head aliens dressed in black, hooded robes. After the creature destroys a village, our heroes and the natives head out after it for the cliff-top finale.

Far more enjoyable than usually given credit for, this hearkens back to several classic American monster movies of the past; most notably King Kong (a big hairy monster having an affinity for the pretty leading lady) and Frankenstein (the torch-carrying mob [though amusingly on skis] heading out after the creature). The sense of place and the desolate, snowy environment - vividly captured by very good on-location filming and nice aerial photography by Hilding Bladh - also helps to distinguish it. And like any good monster movie, naturally this needs a good monster to succeed. Thankfully, this film has one. The big, shaggy-haired, man-in-a-suit, Yeti-like creature has a flat pig-like snout and protruding tusks, is pretty expressive and charming, and gets several small scale sets to tear through at the end. It's saved for the last 20 minutes of this 71 minute film, but it's worth the wait and gets a lot of scenes once it finally does show up. Odert von Schoultz did an above average job on the special effects for the time.

There's also a lot of well-photographed skiing footage (even sometimes utilizing skier POV camerawork), a musical number and even an amusing theme song ("Midnight Sun Lament"). Fans of 50s monster movies should definitely check this one out. In 1960, starlet Wilson sued the producers for 150,000 dollars for utilizing a body double to film a nude scene (seen from behind a sheer curtain) without informing her. Some prints have this brief scene, while others do not.

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