Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Revenge of the Stolen Stars (1986)
Journey with me, back to a time when Ulli Lommel could actually make movies, with Revenge of the Stolen Stars!...
Revenge of the Stolen Stars is an adventure/comedy/horror about Gene McBride, a guy trying to find and retrieve three mystical gems in order to remove his family curse.
This sure is an obscure film! There are barely any reviews for it online, and what ones there are (i.e. a lone comment on the movie's trailer on youtube, and a review on the movie's IMDb page...the only review) call this movie one of the worst movies ever made! Uh-huh...Dudes, this is SOOOO not one of the worst films ever made! I don't even think it's bad! If you guys want to watch some REAL worst movies ever made, then I'd be happy to direct you to some other films! Ever hear of Night of Horror?!...
The movie opens with an Orson Welles lookalike (James Marshall) who overacts like he has a gun trained on him. He is talking with a man and woman (Barry Hickey and Suzanna Love), about their recent adventure, and he decides to relate their story to the audience.
"It all began a very short while ago in the tropical paradise of Sindenau, the least-spoiled-that is, the most neglected-island of the South China seas. It is said even God only visits when the rent is due. And the rent was indeed due on the little patch of Sindenau attended by one Donald McBride"
While Kelly Scanlon (Love) and Max Stern (Ulli Lommel), Donald McBride's secretary and attorney, respectively, talk downstairs with Lupe Rivera (Kitty O'Shea) and Alex von Bentz (Andy Lyon), two insurance agents (I guesss, the movie never goes into detail), McBride (Klaus Kinski) is arguing with Malu (Eugene Choy), an associate who McBride thinks has stolen one of his six-star rubies. McBride pulls a gun, and the two men shoot/stab each-other to death.
A little while later, Gene McBride (Hickey), a regular joe in LA, recieves a letter from Sindenau informing him of his father's death. He goes to the Sindenau consulate, and talks with the Orson Welles lookalike (yep, he's never named), who gives him a visa and tells him that Max Stern has already paid for a flight over for Gene. Gene heads off to the airport as the Consul guy narrates some more-"Picture an excited young man on his first real adventure. Horribly unprepared as it turned out, but then, it's not a proper adventure if you're thoroughly ready for it, is it!"
After arriving in Sindenau, Gene arrives at the McBride villa (which is adorned with what look like christmas lights...for some reason) and meets up with the house's staff, which includes housekeeper/butler Alfred, and Suki the maid.
Later, after a mysterious insect scare in the shower, Gene is told about the McBride family curse by Kelly.
Not knowing that Gene's room has been bugged by Lupe and Alex, Max reads McBride's will to Gene. Among other things, Gene has inherited the McBide family ruby mine-a mine where six-star rubies (a rare type) are occasionally found, and given to the local villagers by law. Gene is also shown a mysterious sacred burial chamber in his room.
Later that night, some plants come into Gene's room and try to strangle him...
The next day, Gene goes up to McBride's study, where he died, and is shocked to see McBride in the room, as a ghost. McBride apologizes for the curse, and tells Gene that the only way to lift it is to retrieve the three six-star rubies that McBride stole from the Barahgi-a native tribe-and return them. He says that he gave two of the rubies to a Shale Maron (which, like me, you'll most likely mishear to be Shelly Marone), and a Prince Kali, respectively. As for the third, McBride doesn't know where it is, as he thinks Malu stole it.
As Gene and Kelly go to see the Barahgi (with Kelly not believing Gene's ghost story), Suki cleans Gene's room, including the sacred room. And then the film turns into a horror for the next few minutes.
Really, if I was a dead magician-spirit thingy, and people were forbidden to enter my burial chamber, and someone came in to dust the place, I'd be pretty grateful, not murderous...
After some convincing, the villagers send Gene and Kelly (yes, I DO see the joke there! That's as bad as naming characters Crash and Byrne!) to locate three six-star rubies that were stolen from the tribe by McBride and Malu.
A weird thing about this scene is when at one point, Gene speaks, but it's obviously dubbed. I guess the script was originally different in that part, and was revised by dubbing.
Gene and Kelly set off on their journey to get the rubies back from Shale Maron, a madam whose murderous ways "cut deeply into her repeat business", and the "evil, and frankly kinky" Prince Kali...
Revenge of the Stolen Stars is largely a fun movie, albeit with some problems. One weird thing is the genre switches. This is an adventure/kinda-comedy, but the film veers into horror a few times, especially with the climax. I guess Ulli Lommel, who predominately makes horror films, must have really wanted some creepy stuff to happen.
The acting is mostly decent. Barry Hickey and Suzanna Love are good, as are Ulli Lommel, and others. The actors playing Prince Kali and Alex however, are pretty awful! There are a couple of other bad actors here and there, but there are mostly good actors all round.
As for the Consul, who doubles as the narrator, He's a bit of both. While I'm still not entirely sure that James Marshall can act, his narration is frequently hilarious, thanks to his delivery of his lines (as well as the funny dialogue), and he laughs like a maniac, all the time! It kinda sucks that his narration pretty much disappears halfway through the movie.
While the actor playing Alex is unimaginably awful, Alex and Lupe still make for a fun duo.
It's hard to see in that screenshot-Yes, Alex is still holding the monocle to his eye, despite the massive mask!
Among other things, the film's use of lighting and shadows is done really well in parts
The film had a pretty tumultuous shooting. For one, the crew were allowed to film at a house free of charge until the owner apparently suddenly demanded ten large. Another was the insanity-ball that was Klaus Kinski! Rather than have me explain it, here's a link to an interview with Ulli where he talks about it*.
*Speaking of, why did Kinski's scenes take two/three days to shoot?! He has less than five minutes of screentime!
Also, one scene is filmed in several different places, and it shows! In said scene, when Klaus Kinski and Suzanna Love talk, it's very obvious that they're not in the same room together.
Onto the film's negatives, the plot does get a bit forced during the Prince Kali segment-His guards just happen to pick the time of the arrival of Gene and Kelly to take action against Kali's abuse of his magic?! Really?! It's also pretty stupid that after getting Kali's ruby, Gene and Kelly, who don't know where the third ruby is, think that the Barahgi will be happy with just two rubies. It'd make more sense for the two to investigate Malu, who supposedly had it last. This slightly works in the long run, since it's revealed soon after-back at the villa-who really stole the ruby, but it stills feels forced and stupid. Also, the finale feels partly anticlimactic-Gene and Kelly would have been killed by the main villain if the curse didn't just happen to kill the villain at that moment.
Another problem is Suki's death scene. She's attacked by insects until she dies, but we never see any insects (minus one she grabs), so it's a tough sell to believe that insects are stinging her-especially since most of the 'insects' don't cause any wounds. Really, the only thing that shows Suki is being attacked by insects other than a little bit of fake blood on the actress' arm is the sound effects.
Also, the kinda annoying main theme is repeated several times throughout the movie.
One very small, but still annoying thing about the movie is the VHS/DVD cover-Instead of actually having stuff from the movie, and looking cool and interesting, the cover is only a profile picture of Klaus Kinski! That's it!
The biggest problem I have with Revenge of the Stolen Stars is it's running time. At just shy of 80 minutes, the movie feels too short-I wish it was longer. It's still a pretty fun adventure movie though, even if it does forget what genre it's supposed to be every now and then...