Friday, July 27, 2012

The Gods Must Be Crazy 5: The Gods Must Be Funny in China (1994)

Well here's the final entry in the Gods Must Be Crazy series, and it's a mix between the craziness of Part 3 and the realism of Part 4...

The movie starts off in China with a group (four guys and a gal, who they call 'aunt') of people jogging, and who else would jog ahead of them other than a certain native with a giant coke bottle on his back! The group is jogging as practice for a marathon competition to run all the way from the Great Wall of China to 'Si Chuan' (and the movie's subtitles say 'there're'. I feel so happy knowing that the person who wrote my only understanding of this movie barely knows English!). Along the route is a wildlife preserve, that has pandas (CUTEPANDASCUTE!!).

A competition thing starts off (no, I don't have a clear idea of what's happening here either), and Aunt and her group are missing one of the guys, so she goes with them for their act which is a drag scene with the guys singing a song that sounds like they're singing the tune of Jingle Bells over different lyrics! Later, Auntie is walking around the street and sees N!xau, who she calls 'Mr Black'! He's talking to a bunch of kids about a bird (hey, N!xau is subtitled! That's a first) and when he leaves, Auntie goes on a long slapstick chase to catch up with 'Mr. Black', but fails. She later goes to a fairground and sees N!xau there at a presentation of some sort.

She negotiates with the presenter, Fatty, to let her use N!xau for the marathon, and he agrees once she decides to let him have part of the prize money. Later, Auntie introduces N!xau to the guys, in a scene with pretty mean humour.

The next day, the race starts, and up against N!xau and his team are Shaolin warrior guys, among others. After a cramped and cluttered start to the race (in short-exactly what you'd expect to happen if you make a sea of people race each-other in the Great Wall of China!), the race stretches far and wide, all through the countryside (dammit, I rhymed!). N!xau's's team go across a lake, through a forest, encounter wolves in the dead of night, and eventually get to the finish line for this leg of the race first.

Everyone is given day of rest. Later that night, at dinner, there are the shaolin guys fighting over the one morsel of food that their training regiment has allowed them, and they end up destroying a brick wall bare-handed!

Later, the next day, the race starts again, but sabotage is afoot when panda thieves switch some signs around, so no-one stumbles upon them at the nature reserve. The only group to head the direction of the preserve is N!xau and the guys (yeah, their names are never revealed). They stop when they see coffins poking out of the cliff by the side of the walkway on. One explains what they are (something about a village), but one is curious to the point where he rappels down to see what's inside the coffins. He fails and ends up knocking N!xau down.

The guys go to look for him, and N!xau, meanwhile, is safe down below, as he was caught up in some vines. Still tied up in vines, a panda approaches the stuck N!xau. N is scared at first, but instead of attacking N!xau, he busts a move with him! Right after, a local woman, Ginzi comes onto the scene. She's an owner of the panda, as well as several others. She takes N!xau back home with her to help him recuperate, and later find his teammates.

They arrive at Ginzi's panda filled home, and PANDAOPENSDOORWITHSTRRINGAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!! Meanwhile, back at race headquarters, the police have been contacted via phone by the guys, and send out 'superdogs' to look for N!xau. Back at Ginzi's house, she and N!xau have dinner, and THEPANDASAREATTHEDINNERTABLESOCUTTEEEEEEEEEE!! The next day, the guys are found by N!xau and Ginzi. They rest, then set out for the race.

Ginzi and panda Ling Ling are netted by the panda thieves. Hearing her screams, the guys go back to rescue her. There's a massive fight   (which involves a talking turtle!, yeah), but everyone is tranqualized and N!xau is incapacitated. Suddenly a talking monkey comes onto the scene, and knows who N!xau is! The monkey wakes N!xau up and explains who he is-the sorcerer Tai Shan in the body of a monkey N!xau encountered at some point before (or it is the fellow monkey, rather than a sorcerer-it's not clear). HUH?! And no, this isn't the wizard (Taoist monk actually, but he'd might as well be a wizard, with what he does) from TGMBC-3-although that would be an awesome bit of continuity!

After N!xau explains what's happened, the monkey does what Ron Burgundy's dog did at the end of Anchorman! Call dozens of different animals to build an army! Tigers, elephants and bears beat the hell out of the villains. And one guy screams 'indecent assault' as his clothes are shredded by one animal! All the bad guys are eventually taken down-the last few by the monkey, using kung fu while the theme to Once Upon a Time in China plays!

The film cuts to Auntie and Fatty (that's all they're ever called!), who are eating, then they start laughing, and the film trips out. They start laughing insanely, and the camera goes right up close to their faces, as they make crazy looks! Stop tripping acid, movie! The movie takes back normality, and the two trek on, until they encounter a group of 'natives' (the film calls them that, and they are, but you wouldn't know it from seeing what they wear!) and are kidnapped and put in boiling pots...

Ginzi and the guys arrive, and it turns out that Auntie and Fatty (*sigh* Do some Asian movies just not feel the need to ever name their characters?) ate poisonous fruits, and the natives are helping them.
and the chase is one to save the Ling Ling the panda from crazy-panda-guy...

The Gods Must Be Crazy 5 is a lot of fun! And it's different from the two movies that preceded it! If there's one thing the GMBC HK trio can claim, it's that they were all different! This particular entry is different in a very unexpected way! N!xau the naive, simple bushman actually understands everything now! He understands the city, he knows what cars are, he has a job, and he's back in China again!

That does lead to the movie's biggest problem. Does N!xau speak Chinese in this film? The film is inconsistent on whether people can understand N!xau. Sometimes it's because they know his !!! language, and others don't know what he's saying, and other times, everyone can understand him! Maybe it's a Cousin Itt deal...

Sure, the whole point of N!xau's character is that he's a simple bushman, but after four movies of the like, a change was welcome (not that I would have minded if he was still a simple bushman though).

Unlike GMBC-4, which was horrible dubbed, 5 is subtitled! But unfortunately, the subtitles came with the 1994 movie print! So that means that if there's a bright or white background at the bottom of the screen, the subtitles are unreadable!

Just like TGMBC-3, there's plenty of Engrish!: "Don't murmur even muscle cramped"-"What's the different?"-"What scare you?"-"We'll send whoever there to hell"-"Your wound is alright, but you've bleed a lot"-"Why don't you response?"-and there are a few misspellings here and there, like 'there're', and 'moom'.

The film's characters are fun, the villains stupid, and the main baddie is completely off his fucking rocker! Like in the scene at the end where he's on a motorcycle, dragging the panda (which is in the broken off cariage of another motorbike) behind him, through a crowd of joggers, screaming 'I like the panda! I like the panda!'!

As for the villain's defeat and capture...: Lesson learned-Do NOT steal a panda from China! The military will aim at least ten rifles at your face, with intent to blow you into tiny panda-thief chunks!

The film's best part is definitely the adorable pandas! PANDAS!

To conclude, the Hong Kong The Gods Must Be Crazy 'trilogy' are all lots of fun, and very varied! I do recommend them for fans of the first two, and everyone else too! These movies are very entertaining!

The Gods Must Be Crazy 4: Crazy Hong Kong (1993)

Well here I am with the next Hong Kong The Gods Must Be Crazy sequel, TGMBC-4: Crazy Hong Kong! Time to answer your inevitable question. 'Is this as loopy as Part 3?'. No, it isn't, GMBC-4 is rooted in reality, not the world of vampires and possessions by long-dead martial artists. It's a fish-out-of-water story, which sees N!xau in Hong Kong of all places!

The film starts off with a narration fron N!xau's nephew, with him talking about N!xau and his village. The narration soon ends and N!xau goes hunting. He's eyeing a lion when he sees an a woman (Carina Lau Kar Ling) kitted out in safari gear goes towards it, roaring. After the madness of GMBC-3, it wasn't too strange of a guess for me to think that she was really a lion wearing a Hannibal Lector-style skin suit, but no, it's normal-it's for a commercial being shot.

While on break, the woman, Shirley Huang, becomes friendly with N!xau after accidentally throwing a coke botle (yep, there it is again) at his head. A rich cowboy guy, Jack (Conrad Janis) calls Shirley from L.A., and they talk business. When the call ends, she gives N!xau a gift-her nametag, and her coke bottle with a ceramic (or plastic or something) bird she stuffed inside it. As the shoot continues, N!xau goes back to his village and shows off his prize, and the tribe parties with it all night long.

The next day, the tribe feel that the bird needs to be set free from the bottle, so N!xau leaves to find Shirley, as she's the one who put the bird in, she can probably take it out. N!xau follows tire tracks nearby the ad shoot and tracks them all the way to a plane, and acidentally falls inside a crate and is packed into the plane.

Shirley arrives in Hong Kong, and she goes off to a carpark and meets with John (Ching Wan Lau), a coworker who seems to be missing a few marbles. Back at the plane, two diamond smugglers (who look like Bert and Ernie! One's tall and thin, the other short and stocky!) unpack their crates of diamonds and N!xau pops out. The duo realize that N!xau has (unknowingly) stolen their diamonds, and they chase him through the streets of Hong Kong.

After losing is pursuers, N!xau realizes that he's in a strange new place, and he wanders around the city, getting into trouble, eventually being confronted by some cops. They see Shirley's ID card and assume that she's N!xau's girlfriend, and N was just a guy at a fancy dress party who got drunk and wandered around the city. The chief tells the other cops to take N!xau to Shirley.

Shirley recognizes N!xau, who is dumped onto her by cops, claiming that it's her responsibility to look after him..

The company Shirley works for is a fast food conglomerate, and it's built thirty-nine fast food outlets all through Hong Kong, but forty is the number they want to reach. There is a fortieth location, and the lease to the building has expired-and living there is Shirley's mother. Shirley leaves to go do stuff, and tells John to take care of N!xau while she's gone. Shirley leaves and N!xau immediately follows her. They go to a clothing store and Shirley buys some clothes for N!xau.

Later, Shirley calls John and instructs him to gets her a cake (holy shit! She must have a heaps higher position if she has the balls to do that!), and she and N!xau go to her apartment. John soon arrives, and Shirley gets pissy when she sees that he got an an ice cream cake not a 'birthday cake'-crazy lady!

After John leaves, Shirley's mother arrives, and they talk for a bit. Later in the night, Shirley's got a candlelit dinner set up, but her husband doesn't show up. The next day, Shirley comes into work and finds out that her husband has stolen all of the company's money and fled the country with his mistress.

Shirley tells John to take N!xau around the town and show him a good time (no, not in that way). Several things happen, but the greatest thing, N!xau dancing at a disco nightclub is sadly cut short (NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!).

The next day, not only are things getting worse for Shirley, but the diamond smugglers have caught up with N!xau...

The Gods Must Be Crazy is a fun movie, just like the previous entry, but it's very different! TGMBC-4 isn't set in a crazily supernatural world, but the real one, and as I said before, it's a fish-out-of-water story for N!xau. That was a good move for the series to make, because if I saw another one of these films about some people stuck in the wilderness of Africa, I'd go postal.

Unlike GMBC-3, this is dubbed, and the dubbing is hilariously bad! Especially when people's mouths were barely moving, yet their dub actors were still talking! I did get used to it pretty quickly though.

The film is narrated by N!xau's nephew. I have no idea if this was in the non-dubbed version-it doesn't really seem like it, but maybe it is. The narrator is ok, but he tends to get weird sometimes though, and sounds crazy!

As for the characters, they're especially fun, namely John, the loopy, forgetful guy who I think has a crush on Shirley. John seems to have an Addams family-Cousin Itt deal with N!xau-he understand N!xau perfectly most of the time. Among other things, John's also part of an unexpected and awesome ending!

There is one really weird scene near the end though. When N!xau presents the bottle with the fake bird to Shiley, she smashes it and 'sets the bird free'. N!xau picks the fake bird up...and becomes real! What the what?!...Wait, why am I questioning this?! I've seen N!xau be possessed by Bruce Lee and fight cross-continental vampires, and it's a ceramic bird coming to life that I question?!

So in closing, for fan's of this series, and for comedy fans in general, I recommend this movie.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Gods Must be Crazy 3: Crazy Safari (1991)

For those not in the know, The Gods Must be Crazy is a well-known 1980 South African comedy about a bushman named Xi[xo] (N!xau), and misadventures of other people in the wilderness, and one that got an equally cool sequel a few years later. And it's beyond that point in the series where I guess most fans of the first two have no idea about. You see, not only does TGMBC have THREE more sequels after 2, but they're crazy! These three movies were all Hong Kong productions, and surprisingly, they all starred N!xau himself! The Gods Must Be Crazy 3 is about N!xau and his tribe coming across a hopping vampire, and a Cinese wizard has to get it back! I'm not lying!

The movie starts off with some stock safari footage (or, considering where this was shot, maybe actual footage for this movie), scored to a nifty theme, then cuts to an auction, somewhere. Two guys, Kid (Sam Christopher Chow) and Master (Lam Ching Ying), one of whom is a wizard (um...yeah), are there to buy the body of Kid's vampire ancestor. Before the bidding, the auctioneer tells the bidders the difference between European vampires and Eastern ones (in a way that sounds like the existence of vampires has been discovered in the Gods Must be Crazy universe!) and shows them a video slideshow. The bidding for the body then starts.

After a bidding battle, Kid has lost, and begs the winner to give him the body, as it's his ancestor. The man refuses, unless Kid can bring the body back to life. Master suddenly gets into wizard gear and starts performing a ritual to the body (crazy auction!). The vampire comes to life, and Master pins a yellow note to its forehead (one of the things that can stop a Chinese vampire), and he and Kid leave, with the vampire following them (apparently Chinese vampires are like dogs-ring a bell and they follow!).

After some misadventures in the streets of wherever they are, the film cuts to Africa, where N!xau has come across a couple of slave traders. Meanwhile, up in the air, Kid and Master are flying to Hong Kong, but with a broken compass, and they end up in Africa. Low on fuel, they need to dump things, and they dump cases of coke bottles (of course!), which land below onto the slave traders, who get knocked out. Up in the air, the plane's still going to crash, and the pilot holds the two 'heroes' at gunpoint, saying that there are only two parachutes, and he's taking one.

The pilot jumps out of the plane, but Master had switched his parachute with a knapsack, and the pilot falls to his death (mean comedy!). Master gets a parachute on, and Kid is an idiot who cares more for his undead ancestor than he does himself, as he puts the last parachute on ancestor!

The vampire lands down by N!xau and the slave traders, and once N takes the pinned post-it-note from the vamp's head, it beats the crap out of the slavers, and the bells the slaves have attracts the vampire to their village.

N!xau figures the vampire out and pins the note back to its forehead and tests the bells, to see their effect on it. Also in the village is a lady slave trader, who, after being knocked out, was taken in by N!xau's tribe to heal her. While there, she notices the presence of diamonds nearby, and she runs off.

Kid and Master have various misadventures across the country (including emu hang-gliding!) until they eventually come across N!xau's village. After a whole bunch of things happen in the village, the duo eventually find the body of Ancestor (yeah, that's what he's always called, never by name, just like Kid and Master!), which was kept in the village, and they start to leave, but things turn bad when N!xau's village is attacked by the slave traders-who are looking for the diamonds-who have an African vampire in tow!...

And the continent-vs-continent vampire duel isn't even the crazest bit about the film's climax!

The Gods Must Be Crazy 3 is not only a fun movie, but surprisingly enough, for a film packed with hopping vampires, wizards, African Hulk (as in SMASH!) vampires, and channeling the spirit of a dead monkey to beat up a witchdoctor, Crazy Safari actually feels like a Gods Must Be Crazy film!

As a sequel though, it doesn't stand up, as it isn't as funny as the first two movies. On its own though, TGMBC-3 is a heap of fun! Who would have ever thought that there'd be a movie where N!xau and his tribe come across a Chinese bunny vampire! The ending is blissfully insane as well! How are the evil slavers defeated, you ask? Simple!-The wizard resurrects the spirit of Bruce Lee and puts it in N!xau's body, and he beats the crap out of all of the bad guys!

One of the funniest things about the movie is the Engrish subtitles! Most are fine English, but some, well...-"Does it worth taking me to bringing him all the way to Hong Kong?"-"Stop talking or your skin peeling off your tongue."-"I'm just hurry to find my ancestor."-"How can I let them jeopardizing your renown?"!

One big problem though is the narration-none of it was subtitled! The only other negative that I can think of is a pretty minor one. After being knocked out by the falling coke bottles, the German slave trader lady is taken back to N!xau's tribe for recuperation. After she wakes, she notices that all the tribes' tools have diamonds stuck in them, and she realizes that the tribe must get heir rock from a diamond mine. She goes off to look for the mines or something...and she vanishes from the movie for over half-an-hour! She ends up reappearing at the climax, but until that point, I thought the movie had just forgotten about her.

As for The Gods Must Be Crazy 4 and 5, I haven't seen them yet, so I can only imagine what they're about! Maybe they're even crazier than this movie! Maybe 4 is about a bunch of giant monsters attacking Africa, and N!xau, naively unaware of the danger, sees some eggs left behind by one Kaiju and goes on a journey to give them back. After this movie's plot, the possibility of that being TGMBC-4's plot isn't too far of a stretch!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Geek Maggot Bingo, or the Freak from Suckweasel Mountain (1983)

 "If you cut a face lengthwise, urinate on it, and trample on it with straw sandals, it is said that the skin will come off. This was heard by the priest Gyojako when he was in Kyoto. It is information to be treasured.".


'HUH?!' will be a common thought for anyone who's game enough to watch Nick Zed's Geek Maggot Bingo, a weird-as-hell horror film about a mad scientist, Dr. Frankenberry, who's trying to create life, and standing in his way are a group of vampires, and The Rawhide Kid!

Geek Maggot Bingo, or the Freak from Suckweasel Mountain (what a title!) starts off with well-known horror host John Zacherle, who acts like he took the same overacting juice Mario Van Peebles and Bruce Payne took for their respective Highlander films! He talks about the upcoming movie, and laughs. A lot.

The movie starts with Dr Frankenberry (yeah, that's really his name!) (Robert Andrews) being fired from a university for insane experiments involving corpses. Frankenberry tries to dissuade his boss from firing him by showing him proof that life can exist after death-by bringing a spraypainted cat out of a bag (um...yeah). It doesn't convince his boss, and Frankenberry is fired.

Some time later, hunchback Geeko (Bruno Zeus) is down in the dumps, until he sees an ad in the newspaper-"Wanted: Lab assistant to help mad scientist create life from dead bodies". He goes over to Dr. Frankenberry's cardboard cut-out castle, and Frankenberry hires him ("I've noticed in your resume that you have an extensive arrest record for murder and assault. This is good!"). He instructs Geeko to dress up as a prostitute (um...yeah) and murder people, so Frankenberry can have body parts for his experiments.

While Geeko lures a guy off the streets and axes him up, Frankenberry's daughter, Buffy (Brenda Bergman) is worried about her father. Later, Buffy's lover Flavian (Gumby Sangler) comes over, and the two have sex until Flavian sees Geeko spying on them, and he runs off into the night. He bumps into a vampire, Scumbalina (Donna Death) and is bitten.

Dr. Frankenberry tries to convince his skeptical daughter to help him stitch up the body parts he plans on reanimating. She agrees, but faints once she sees...something. She is taken to her room, where a bat flies up to. The bat morphs into vampire-Flavian and bites her. Frankenberry burst in and forces Flavian out of the castle with a cross, then sends Geeko out to kill the vampire.

Geeko leaves the castle and is attacked by Scumbalina and bitten. Now under her control, she instructs Geeko to spy on Dr. Frankenberry for her. When Geeko comes back to the castle, Frankenberry tells him of his plan to make a 'formaldehyde man' to counter the vampires.

The two set out to look for another person to use for their experiment, and they find The Rawhide Kid (Richard Hell...yeah, THAT Richard Hell!), a cowboy who's walking around the forest, accompanied by the The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly theme. They invite Rawhide back to the castle under the promise of a party, and they booze him up until he's unconscious.

Soon, Buffy is kidnapped by the vampires ("She saved the world. A lot."...yeah, that was the best Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference I could come up with off of the top of my head) and Dr. Frankeberry's monster finally comes to life...

Geek Maggot Bingo (no, that title has nothing to do with the film) is a terrible movie, but a fun one...almost. It's full of drawn-on cardboard wall sets for rooms and Return of the Killer Tomatoes-esque outside shots of buildings (as in, cardboard again), and full of either terrible acting, or massive overacting. Robert Andrews as Dr. Frankenberry constantly talks overdramatically, and is heaps of fun! He also talks with over-the-top, dramatic, and sometimes pretentious dialogue-like his final words: "This labyrinth of pain and fear that we call life, is but a prelude to the cosmic symphony of oblivion, which I call, the anatomy of death!". John Zacherle is also a lot of fun as the film's opening host, but he only has about five minutes of screentime.

When I say that this movie is almost fun, what I mean is that the film, while not wearing out its welcome, does go on for a bit long (which is saying something, since Geek Maggot Bingo is only 74 minutes long!)

The film has decent scoring, but the music is tonally all over the place, switching from scary, to goofy, to scary again, usually in a single scene!

The effects are simultaneously terrible, and good. They're all very unconvincing, with cardboard phones, bad wigs, and walls in rooms with the backgrounds painted on, but to make the backdrops and backgrounds has clearly taken quite a bit of work, as opposed to if Nick Zedd has simply filmed in normal buildings and places.

The gore effects are the cool, very fake, mannequin-y effects that are usually present in super-low budget films that don't care about having convincing gore. As for Dr. Frankenberry's monster, it looks pretty good (and one of its heads closely resembles the aliens from Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!).

So, in closing, I recommend Geek Maggot Bingo for those who want to watch a really bizarre flick! If otherwise, I wouldn't.