August 22, 2010

Whether you love his work or hate it, you’ve got to admire Roger Corman’s dedication to schlock cinema, as he’s been making movies like SyFy’s upcoming grand opus Sharktopus for over 50 years.  Battle Truck, Deathsport, and Humanoids from the Deep are Shout Factory’s latest restored Corman productions, on sale on DVD today.  If you’re a Corman fan or just looking for something crazy to watch, you might want to check these out.  Hit the jump for reviews.

Humanoids from the Deep is a film not to be missed if you enjoy gratuitous female nudity, special effects so hilarious they deserve to be remembered forever in the annals of history, or movies in which not one of the characters knows what’s going on at all.  The movie is about the fishing village of Noyo, a small fishing town that’s suddenly plagued with dog murders and questionable fashion choices.  But the dogs aren’t all the mutant fish monsters are after.  This film has one of the best taglines ever: “They’re not human.  But they hunt human women.  Not for killing.  For mating.”  Most of the women in the movie are terrified of everything, even their dishes, so of course they’re no match for humanoid rapists.

The best thing about this movie is the score by James Horner, which is ominous nearly all the time.  The second best thing is the creature design, as the salmon-coelacanth monsters look more fishlike and less human than I expected they would.  Nobody dies for at least 20 minutes in, but when the attractive teen couple start frolicking happily on the beach, you know they’re done for.  The guy gets his face ripped partly off while wearing jean shorts worthy of Tobias Funke, and there’s really no worse way to go.  Oh, but wait, the girl gets impregnated by the monster, so that’s worse.  And these monsters couldn’t have come at a worse time than during Noyo’s annual Salmon Festival, oh no!  Then there’s a creepy sex scene involving a ventriloquist dummy that’s thankfully(?) interrupted by another monster attack, at which point I decided this movie really needed less fish rape.  There’s a female journalist that tries to figure shit out, but I was too afraid she’d get fish-raped to pay attention to the mystery.  She’s also kind of dumb, especially when she says the fish are smart.  A smart fish would have maybe not raped all those ladies, but oh well, I guess some flowers or chocolate wouldn’t have done the trick.  Despite all the interspecies sex crimes, this was still the second best movie of all three.

Battle Truck was undoubtedly the best of the three, and it starred John Ratzenberger from Cheers in a Mad Max-inspired story about a post-oil wars world where all the fuel is controlled by the evil Colonel Straker who needs it to fuel his battle truck.  Luckily for the commune he attacks, there’s a rebellious, devil-may-care biker who steps in to save the day!  It’s actually not too bad, and it’s vastly better than Deathsport, which is pretty remarkable in how awful it is.  There are a lot of truck fights, which makes watching Battle Truck a fantastically trashy, semi-futuristic demolition derby experience.  And thank God, there are no fish in this movie.  None at all, so the ladies can rest easy.  I liked it a lot more because the characters were somewhat realistic even despite the scenario, and the truck kicked ass.  Who doesn’t want to see a tricked-out 18-wheeler fight other smaller trucks?  If that sounds even remotely appealing to you, this movie is for you.  If that does not sound like your thing, then Eat, Pray, Love comes out this month, so enjoy that.  I’m voting for the truck fights.

Deathsport is a movie that’s much better when watched with the optional audio commentary, in which the directors acknowledge the film’s intrinsic crappiness and basically shit on it the whole time.  It stars David Carradine as a guy who has to fight the brilliantly named Count Zirpola, who’s trying to start some kind of war, the kind that can only be settled by riding motorcycles irresponsibly.  The movie is a lot like Death Race 2000, except not as good.  The sound is a bit weird at times, like the music is too loud and it drowns out the dialogue, but you won’t miss it a whole lot.  Deathsport is watching for the commentary, but Battle Truck is way better.  Overall the three films are really well-restored and it’s a good collection for a Corman fan, and there are a lot of bonus features except on Battle Truck that are cool.  For production values and extra features, Humanoids from the Deep is your best bet, but Battle Truck is the best of the three.

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