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Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Sunday, December 11, 2005
The Wonder of Weng Weng
Thanks to Tolemite for visiting this weekend and giving us all a great time. It seems as though everyone around gets Toler Fever when we've gone too long without a visit from him. Chicken, Stiner and Grady came out for a night with Toler last night, which started later than anticipated since he didn't make it to Champaign until about 9:30pm. We had to start Crappy Movie Night without him, which had us in good humor by the time he arrived. Here's a quick rundown on what we subjected ourselves to:

* THE UNSEEN--one of the sleaziest and strangest horror films I've seen, this low-budget laugher alternates between suspense and unintentional hilarity so frequently that each rental should come with Dramamine enclosed. Beautiful Barbara Bach (THE SPY WHO LOVED ME) stars as a TV reporter who makes the acquaintance of eccentric but kindly little Sydney Lassick (ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST), who invites her and her hot friends to stay with him and his wife Virginia at their huge old house in the country. Cult movie fans know better than to enter a creepy old house owned by Sydney Lassick, since I've never seen him play anybody even close to a normal human being. Not surprisingly, there's something else living in the house too: an "unseen" antagonist dwelling in the Kellers' cellar. THE UNSEEN certainly offers its share of distasteful moments and uncomfortable horror, and I think it's a pretty effective sleeper. Lassick's performance really sells the absurdity of the third act, which has some pretty crazy stuff in it, well directed by Peter Foleg and scored by Michael Lewis.

* MUTANT HUNT--Tim Kincaid (BREEDERS) directed this cheapass ripoff of BLADE RUNNER that contains the lamest fight scenes you've ever seen. Rick Gianisi (SGT. KABUKIMAN, N.Y.P.D.) plays the world’s wimpiest mercenary with a badass mercenary name, Matt Riker, who fights robots in his tighty whiteys. Three out-of-control cyborgs are on the run with a belt of an illegal sex-enhancing drug called Euphoron, which causes them to turn into mad killing machines. Sets and set dressing are terrible; Riker’s apartment consists of three partial brick walls, a bed, a table, a punching bag and a few random weapons hanging on the walls. Barely a notch above the cheap sets is the lame stuntwork and fight choreography; the fight scenes look as though they’re being performed by 11-year-olds acting out old BATMAN episodes in the backyard. Barely 75 minutes long, MUTANT HUNT is definitely worth watching if you’re in the mood to laugh at inept filmmaking.

* THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, "Crime Wave"--With Toler getting close to Champaign, I popped this 25-minute TV episode in to keep us entertained 'til he arrived. It's probably one of the last filmed episodes of the first season, since it contains a shitload of stock footage. A lot of it is clips of Superman (George Reeves) beating the shit out of thugs in fedoras, so that's cool. Superman, with the help of the Daily Planet, police inspector Henderson (Robert Shayne), and a crusading attorney, is on a mission to capture Metropolis' ten most wanted gangsters. The mystery man at the top of the list organizes a deathtrap for Superman involving a locked room and lightning bolts that zap Supes. What's funny is how much shit Superman talks to the bad guys after he plays possum and kicks all their asses: "I can't believe you actually thought your lameass little electrical trap could stop me. I'm Superman, you assholes."

* HOLLYWOOD COP--A pseudo-sequel to SAMURAI COP, one of the most hilariously inept movies ever made, by the same director, Iranian idiot Amir Shervan. I think it was written as a direct sequel, but Shervan couldn't get the same cast back. It's not quite as crazy as SAMURAI COP and it has more dead spots, but, man, when it cooks, it really cooks. A pissed-off Cameron Mitchell, an embarrased Troy Donahue, a drunk Jim Mitchum and a confused Aldo Ray (playing a Chinese!) comprise the "name" cast. Highlights include "I know that guy fucked your wife", hot oil wrestling, blood cancer, "yeah, he's a good cop", and Mitchell's gas attacks. You gotta see it.

* SATAN'S CHILDREN--This schizophrenic regional (Florida) horror movie is one of Toler's all-time favorites, and it was fun to introduce it to the rest of the gang. It has some bad acting, pretty outrageous story twists and a slow-going second act, but, man, the opening and closing reels are really laughable stuff. Wimpy red-haired teen Bobby, sick of being mistreated by his bullying stepfather and seductive stepsister, runs away from home, only to be gang-raped by four bikers who leave him unconscious and naked near a compound for Satan worshippers. Since their leader Simon is away, second-in-command Sherry orders Bobby taken inside and cared for. She has sex with him, but is later buried in the sand, covered with honey and attacked by ants at Simon's command. Simon also tells Bobby, who whines about how much his butt hurts, that being raped means he is weak, and Satan has no room for weaklings in his flock. So he busts out of the compound, eludes his captors, grabs a shotgun, kills his mean family and his rapists, cuts off their heads, and delivers them to Simon's breakfast table. Beauty, eh.

* FOR Y'UR HEIGHT ONLY--I've seen this one three times this week, and it stands as one of the most amazing motion picture experiences I've ever had. I'll be writing a piece on this and its Mondo Macabro DVD co-feature CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER for The Hub next week, so I'll keep this short. Suffice to say that it's a Filipino spy movie about Agent 00, a 2'9" action hero portrayed by a creepy-looking dwarf with an odd hairline named Weng Weng. You really can't call yourself a well-rounded film fan until you've seen Weng Weng kicking ass and taking names, using his powerful kung fu skills to smash the testicles of his enemies. Whether he's using his mighty midget mojo to sex up the Filipino hotties or mowing down dozens of red-bereted henchmen with his deadly trick pistola, Weng Weng makes Sean Connery and Steve McQueen, in their primes, look like pantywaists. Let me put it this way--there are two kinds of people in this world: those who have experienced the awe and mystery of Weng Weng and those who have not.

* RAW FORCE--Toler and I watched this one together this morning before our trip to the flea market. RAW FORCE may be the world's first kung fu/zombie/cannibal movie. It drags somewhat during the second act too, but otherwise is a crazyass tale of Nazi white slavers, Burbank karate instructors, cannibalistic monks, naked Filipino women, and drunken partiers thrown together on Warriors Island, which contains a graveyard for kung fu criminals who escape from their graves to munch on some human sacrifices. Cameron Mitchell is in this one too. Jesus, they don't make movies like this anymore, and I sure as shit wish they did.

* THE CANDY SNATCHERS--I was excited to introduce Toler to Guerdon Trueblood's downbeat crime thriller, one of the best and most disturbing drive-in flicks of the 1970's. From its witty theme song, "Love Is The Root Of All Happiness", to its daringly pessimistic final crane shot, THE CANDY SNATCHERS is full of story twists, amoral but well-developed characters, sleaze, violence, social commentary and good acting. Again, I don't want to go it too much, because I imagine the film works best the less you know about it. It isn't a fast-moving, action-packed thriller, but if you have the patience to absorb the dialogue scenes, I think you'll take a lot away from THE CANDY SNATCHERS.

I spent only $2 at Gordyville, but it was fun to ramble around anyway. It's a lot bigger than it was the last time I was there over the summer, I think because there's less to do this time of year and more vendors are available to attend. Lots of NASCAR, Elvis, Johnny Cash and STAR WARS stuff. I picked up six old paperbacks on the 3-for-a-buck table: Alistar MacLean, Richard Prather and Brett Halliday.

I downloaded iTunes last week...accidentally really, because I updated QuickTime to 7.0, and iTunes comes with it. I have been using Windows Media Player and Winamp to play music on my computer. I'm not sure there's a big different among them, but iTunes is fine. For the heck of it, I put it on shuffle mode and started playing everything in my library, which runs the gamut from TV themes to radio spots for old Crappy Movies to '60s rock to obscurities to really terrible music. One of these days I'll listen for an hour or so and write down everything I hear. It'll make for an eclectic experience, that's for sure. I just heard "Timothy" by The Buoys, bookended by Leonard Nimoy covering "I Walk the Line" and Lalo Schifrin's MEDICAL CENTER theme.

Posted by Marty at 10:51 PM CST
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Saturday, December 10, 2005
Tolemite Is His Name
Toler is coming to town this afternoon, so expect an upcoming blog entry about the crappy movies we watched and the terrible food we bloated ourselves with. I expect many of our friends to join us tonight, and hopefully some to come along on our sojourn to the Gordyville flea market tomorrow. I need to go to Gordyville like I need a hole in my head, considering the stacks of unread paperbacks and unwatched VHS tapes from past Gordyville trips cluttering my house, but you never know what cool stuff you might find. Or what crazy person you might meet. On our last trip, Toler, LD, J Brown, Chicken and I encountered an older woman who started babbling some nonsense to us about...what was she babbling about? I don't recall all of it now, but I do remember that, after we finally escaped from her, she came up to us later while we were resting on some metal bleachers. She started talking to us about women and where our women are. LD said something like, "We get women the old-fashioned way. With alcohol." (great line) She laughed, took a playful swipe at LD's head, and said, "You fool." Finally her daughter came and dragged her away from us.

Posted by Marty at 1:17 PM CST
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Wednesday, December 7, 2005
Lots To Report
It sucks when life gets in the way of my blogging. Plenty of strange stuff has happened lately, but I haven't had the time to put it into writing. My plan is to write some of it up now and post it later at work when I have five free minutes.

I believe I may finally be free of USAA General. Well, I guess I won't really be free of their idiocy until I actually receive that settlement check, but it's allegedly in the mail.

I have been waiting for them to receive the title to my demolished car, which I mailed to them on November 10. I have called them several times, and each time they would say, "It takes 7-10 business days" or "10-14 business days." They could not release the check to me until they got that title. They would say, "Maybe it got lost in the mail" or "maybe it's down in our mailroom" or "we have 20,000 employees here, it sometimes takes awhile." I was even scolded by one woman who said it was the law that they could not write me the settlement check until they received my title. Since they are an insurance company, I don't know how much of what they ever say is true (in fact, I know they are liars, because twice they made excuses for not returning my calls by claiming they left messages on my "voice mail"; there were never any messages at home or at work).

After nearly a month of this, I talked to USAA's guy in Recovery Paperwork again yesterday. He says they still haven't received my title. I tell him I have a Xerox of it, is that good enough? He says to fax it and he will talk to his manager.

I am in the process of faxing it when my phone rings. It's him again. And I know he hasn't gotten my fax yet. "I talked to my manager and we have decided to go ahead and mail you the check." Why they can do it now and not two weeks ago, I don't know. "You should have it in 5 or 6 days." USAA had already promised me they would send the check via Overnight Delivery, and I tell him that. "Oh, I'm sorry, no one told me that. It's too late, we have already issued the check." How come five minutes earlier he was all "blah blah we still haven't received your title in the mail" and now he's, "Yeah, that check is already in progress"?

I admit that I was negligent in following up with the guy. At this point, I just want the money, and I want to no longer have a conversation with any of these people again. On one hand, I was told that it was against the law for them to demolish my car without the title. Now he's apparently telling me that he can, but "there's no way for us to make money on it, we have to foot the bill for it ourselves." I'm not terribly sympathetic--the whole deal is costing me $12,000, and it's all the fault of his customer. Boo hoo, man. Why should you make money out of all this?

Bottom line: the check should arrive next week, and that's really all that counts, I suppose. I suspect that the title got there a long time ago, and they were just sitting on it for who-knows-what reason. There's no way to figure their logic, since there's no way of knowing how much of their bullshit is factual.

As if that wasn't enough stress, it appears as though somebody has been vandalizing my mailbox and possibly stealing my mail. I first noticed the day after Thanksgiving (I have since learned that this happened at least as early as Thanksgiving Day, if not one or two days earlier), when I checked my mail, that my mailbox was open, but empty, and the card which contains my name and apartment number had been stolen. I live in a house with four apartments. There are four mailboxes--unlocked--on the front porch. Mine was the only one touched; the other three were stuffed with mail and their name cards were intact.

This was late Friday. I made a new card out of paper and used packing tape to attach it to the mailbox. The old one was a plastic sleeve glued to the box and a paper slipped inside of it that had my name on it. Saturday, the mailman brought something from my brother that was sent Delivery Confirmation, so he rang my doorbell and I went down and signed it. I asked if he delivered anything yesterday, but he didn't have my route.

Monday, no mail. Tuesday, no mail again, and my new name card is gone. Not just ripped off and left on the porch, but gone. Whoever did it took it with him. So I called the police, who said they would do nothing, called the post office, who said they could do nothing, called the landlord, who said he would get new locking mailboxes in a week or so. I don't know if these will go outside on the porch or inside the vestibule, which is locked to the outside.

I have no idea who would steal my mail or why. I'm the only one affected; none of my neighbors lost anything. The thief got nothing of any real worth. And why bother to take my name off the mailbox? There's nothing to gain by it. It's a mystery. My only theory is that it's someone who knows I'm expecting a check from the insurance company. Luckily for me, the insurance checks are going directly to my sister-in-law, whose name is still on the title for the car. The package my brother sent contained a check for the same amount from her, who lent me the money in advance so I could make the down payment on my new car. My brother was smart enough to send it Delivery Confirmation, and I was lucky enough to be home when the mailman rang my bell to have me sign for it. I'm not certain what all was taken; I bought a Harlan Ellison paperback on eBay that I never received, and even though I signed the papers for my new car two weeks ago, I haven't yet received a statement or payment book from the loan company. I don't know whether that would have arrived in the mail that soon or not, but I'll check into it.

One thing that I did (hopefully not too late) was to call TransUnion, one of the three major credit agencies, and put a fraud alert on my name. I'm always getting preapproved credit card offers in the mail. Usually I tear them up and throw them out, but it's likely one was taken from my mailbox, and the last thing I need is someone spending a $5000 credit limit in my name.

Posted by Marty at 1:42 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, December 7, 2005 1:53 PM CST
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Saturday, December 3, 2005
The Great White Hope
Kudos to Fox for releasing the first season of THE WHITE SHADOW on DVD (and Season 2 is coming early next year). I actually remember quite clearly watching the pilot when it aired on CBS in 1978. We had some relatives over at the house for a visit, and while the adults were chatting in the kitchen over coffee, my brother, my cousins and I were in the living room watching THE WHITE SHADOW. It was a terrific show and went on to spawn what, to this day, remains probably the finest sports-related TV series.

MTM was a production company well known during the 1970's for its sitcoms, primarily THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, THE BOB NEWHART SHOW and WKRP IN CINCINNATI, but with LOU GRANT, it had begun to move into the arena of one-hour dramas. THE WHITE SHADOW creator and executive producer Bruce Paltrow, the husband of actress Blythe Danner and father to a little girl named Gwyneth, cast 6'6" actor Ken Howard in the title role as Ken Reeves, an NBA journeyman whose basketball career was ended by a knee injury and was invited by his old college chum Jim Willis (Ed Bernard, a veteran of POLICE WOMAN and COOL MILLION), the principal at Carver High School in inner-city Los Angeles, to coach basketball there.

For Reeves, a brash, blond, blue-eyed pro ball player, life at Carver was a revelation, as he seemed to have little in common with his players, who, with the exception of a Chicano, an Italian and a Jew, were poor black ghetto kids. They were all basically "good kids", but not the best students, and they had a penchant for getting into trouble. He soon came to care about them, however, and became the Mary Worth of the hardwood, constantly sticking his nose into his team's day-to-day problems and bailing them out of trouble.

Paltrow and producer Mark Tinker used the show's format to tackle hot-button issues of the day in a manner that threatened to turn the show into The Social Problem of the Week. In the first eight episodes, THE WHITE SHADOW looked at teenage alcoholism, teen pregnancy, gangs and homosexuality. In the latter, Peter Horton (THIRTYSOMETHING) guest-starred as a young transfer student who joins the Carver basketball team, but is soon plagued by the same rumors that drove him away from his former school, "fag rumors", according to Carver's officious vice-principal and Reeves' frequent nemesis, Sybil Buchanan (Joan Pringle).

Many early episodes were directed by Jackie Cooper, who won an Emmy for the pilot. The basketball scenes are fluidly staged and lensed with Cooper managing to acquire some interesting shots while not letting the camera interfere with the action. Whether Howard and the supporting cast knew anything about basketball, I don't know, but it sure looks like they do. THE WHITE SHADOW earned two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Dramatic Series during its three-season run, but Cooper's was the only trophy the series won.

Also of note are the actors who did such a good job playing the Carver basketball team. It must be a testament to Paltrow (who went on to create ST. ELSEWHERE), Tinker (a producer on NYPD BLUE) and Cooper that three of them--Thomas Carter (Hayward), Kevin Hooks (Thorpe) and Timothy Van Patten (Salami)--have gone on to very successful directing and producing careers in television and features. In a way, their decision to forgo acting careers is a shame, in that Carter and Hooks, in particular, were very good on the show (Carter has a magnetic presence that meshed well on-screen with Howard).

On a trivial, if no less memorable, note, THE WHITE SHADOW boasted a kickass sax-driven theme by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter, and replaced the usual MTM Productions "meowing cat" logo with one of a kitten dribbling an animated basketball.

Posted by Marty at 11:32 PM CST
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Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Writing That Big Check
Well, tonight is the night. I'm driving up to Rantoul after work to drop off my down payment for my new car. The insurance company still hasn't sent my settlement check yet, but my sister-in-law has graciously lent me the money. USAA General is sending the settlement check directly to her anyway, because she's still the legal owner of my trashed Altima. You see, the post office lost the title when she mailed it to me a couple of months ago, so she had to file for a replacement. By the time she received the new title and mailed it to me, I had already crashed the car, and it didn't seem prudent to transfer over to me the title to a car that basically no longer existed. The loan from my sister-in-law came in last Saturday's mail, so time to drive up tonight and write that big check. I hope I don't sweat too much.

Posted by Marty at 2:55 PM CST
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Monday, November 28, 2005
A Robot For Toler

Better yet, a "Runaway Robot", as in the title of this episode of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN. A scatterbrained inventor named Horatio Hinkle (Lucien Littlefield) builds a robot that he can control using a large remote control device that contains a television screen. Why he builds it, I don't know, but he uses it to foil a jewelry store heist being carried out by a couple of mugs named Rocco and Mousie. How Hinkle knew about the heist, I don't know.

Inspector Henderson (Robert Shayne), never the sharpest mind among Metropolis' finest, jails Hinkle, even though it seems as though the jeweler who was held up would be able to vindicate him. Somehow, the real crooks, who escaped the robot's grasp, manage to steal the robot from the police garage (!) and take it to their boss, Chopper, who's played by Russell Johnson aka the Professor from GILLIGAN'S ISLAND.

Chopper decides to kidnap the Professor, now lounging on Clark Kent's couch, and force him to use the robot to break into a bank. Hinkle refuses, but that dumbass Lois Lane (Phyllis Coates) manages to get herself kidnapped as well, and Chopper threatens to go apeshit on Lois' face with a hammer unless Hinkle changes his tune.

Meanwhile, Kent (George Reeves), who appears to his friends to be sleeping during all this calamity, puts on his super-longjohns and flies to the crooks' hideout in time to beat the shit out of them and prevent the robot from smashing in the Professor's head (Professor Hinkle, not Gilligan's Professor).

This is not one of SUPERMAN's best episodes, although it provides a strong hint as to how future shows would play out. Under the supervision of producer Robert Maxwell, the black-and-white episodes of the first season were generally tougher and slightly more mature than the show would become. When Maxwell left the show, the series became more comical with Superman battling a bunch of idiot gangsters like the ones in "The Runaway Robot." It's hard to argue with the approach, as SUPERMAN stayed on the air for several more seasons, all in color, a total of 104 episodes from 1951-1957.

Posted by Marty at 7:15 PM CST
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Sunday, November 27, 2005
I had a good time on this rainy afternoon catching up with ONE CRAZY SUMMER, a barely memorable '80s movie that I saw in theaters and had a good time with. It stars John Cusack and was directed by Savage Steve Holland, who had teamed up the year before to make BETTER OFF DEAD..., which I think most people of a certain age have seen ("I want my two dollars!"). SUMMER has an oddball cast of familiar faces, including Demi Moore as the love interest, Bobcat Goldthwait (whom I hated back then), Mark Metcalf of ANIMAL HOUSE, Joe Flaherty of SCTV, Curtis Armstrong (then riding high as Booger in REVENGE OF THE NERDS and about to join the cast of MOONLIGHTING), Bill Murray's brother Joel (not to be confused with brother John Murray, who starred in MOVING VIOLATIONS about that time), impressionist Rich Little, "Sniglet" king Rich Hall from NOT NECESSARILY THE NEWS (I was a big fan of that HBO series), and Jeremy Piven, now big on ENTOURAGE.

SUMMER is marked by the same absurdist humor and colorful animation blackouts that were popular in BETTER OFF DEAD..., so it's strange that this unofficial sequel should have fallen off the map. It's nothing special, of course, but it does engender some warm memories and a bit of sympathy towards its misfit characters, and I remember the audience cheering at one shot near the end where the heavies receive their comeuppance.

I picked up the DVD awhile back in a Wal-Mart bargain bin for $5.99. It's been out for awhile, but was never anything approaching a must-buy. Now that I've seen it, I'm glad I bought it, because, in addition to the movie, the disc features a commentary track by director Holland and actors Armstrong and Goldthwait. This is a funny and entertaining commentary and a bonus I wasn't expecting. These three are obviously having a good time watching the movie together and do a lot of laughing and ribbing--of the movie and each other. They also dish a little bit of dirt; for instance, Mark Metcalf was reportedly a surly presence on set, and Murray, a novice actor, was sometimes nervous before takes.

The three seem to tread lightly on the subject of John Cusack, maybe because he still holds some power in an industry where they still work. In an online interview I once read, director Holland said he and Cusack had a falling out after the movie was completed in which the star trashed the film and its unusual comic style.

I don't know how you feel about DVD commentaries--some people never listen to them--but this one is almost like getting two movies for the price of one. It's almost as entertaining as watching the movie itself.

I hope Thanksgiving was a good time for all. I spend the afternoon in Urbana at my aunt and uncle's house with my dad, my cousins, and some of my uncle's relatives. We used to spend a lot of Thanksgivings with this part of the family when I was a kid, and it's interesting to note that some things never change. My cousin and I were, once again, relegated to the "kids' table" in the kitchen. Ah, well, at least we were closer to the food.

Posted by Marty at 10:49 PM CST
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Thursday, November 24, 2005
No More Threshold

Looks like my wife Carla Gugino is out of a job again. Just two years after the incredible KAREN SISCO was cancelled way too soon, CBS has axed her latest series, THRESHOLD, after it finished third in its first airing in its new Tuesday timeslot. Any dummy could have predicted that it wouldn't be able to compete longterm with NBC's LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT and ABC's BOSTON LEGAL (LEGAL was preempted this week), so the news doesn't surprise me. I thought THRESHOLD was a good show with an incredible cast...and it was preparing to add a new cast member: the mega-hot Catherine Bell (JAG). No word on whether THRESHOLD will be allowed to play out the rest of its filmed episodes; I believe nine have so far aired, and three or four more are ready to go.

Posted by Marty at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, November 24, 2005 11:59 PM CST
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Too Heavy To Hang, Too Big For The Gas Chamber
Now Playing: KILLDOZER
Many of you under-30s are going to think I'm full of shit, but I swear to you this is a real movie. Oh, for the days of THE ABC MOVIE OF THE WEEK, which, back in the '70s, served up a whole mess of deliciously silly and sometimes genuinely creepy and effective horror and science fiction movies. KILLDOZER, as you can imagine from its ten-cent title, falls into the "silly" category.

KILLDOZER, which aired on ABC on February 2, 1974 in a 90-minute timeslot, has received much notoriety in recent years from viewers who remember seeing it on television back then. Helping to ground the ludicrous story in some sort of reality is its small cast, which consists of six (then-)familiar television actors who play construction workers digging up a six-square-mile island 200 miles off the coast of Africa, transforming a World War II refueling site into a base camp for an oil company.

The deadline is short and morale is low, partially due to the strict work ethic of reformed alcoholic boss Kelly (Clint Walker), whose charges resent his taciturn manner. With five days to go, the work schedule hits a major snag when young Mac (a not-yet-famous Robert Urich) is felled by a sudden and mysterious ailment that seems to have been triggered when his DC-9 bulldozer ran into a strange metallic rock. Mac dies that night, but not before muttering something about "warning" and "blue light" privately to Kelly. The rest of the men--snide Dennis (Carl Betz), mechanic Chub (Neville Brand, just off playing sicko masturbating rapist George Fromley in THE MAD BOMBER), happy-go-lucky Dutch (James Wainwright) and young Al (James A. Watson)--take Mac's death hard and are repelled at Kelly's seemingly cold orders to get back to work. What Kelly is afraid to admit and the others eventually learn is that the 'dozer has been possessed by an alien presence with a real mad-on for the crew. Impervious to fire, explosives or even an empty gas tank, "Killdozer" chases the cast around the island for the rest of the movie, leading to an electrifying finale.

Of course, the concept is as hokey as the campy title implies, but no-nonsense direction by Jerry London and the professional cast's wise insistence upon playing straight makes KILLDOZER a lot more watchable than you might think. None of the actors has much more to do than look suspicious and act frantic, but the old pros pull off the silly proceedings with admirable aplomb, particularly Betz as a snarky jackass. Gil Melle's score adds some menace, while the teleplay by noted SF author Theodore Sturgeon and Ed MacKillop, based upon Sturgeon's lauded novella (producer Herb Solow lands a confusing "adaptation" credit), conjures up some creative methods for a bulldozer to murder people. Wainwright was just coming off his shortlived JIGSAW series, whereas Walker (CHEYENNE), Betz (THE DONNA REED SHOW) and Brand (LAREDO) were already well-known television leads. Urich's first series, BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE, had been cancelled a couple of months earlier.

Believe it or not, I own a Marvel comic book adaptation of KILLDOZER, printed in WORLDS UNKNOWN #6 and carrying a cover date of March/April 1974. Ostensibly based on Sturgeon's story, "Killdozer", as scripted by Gerry Conway (currently a writer on LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT), drawn by Dick Ayers and Ernie Chan, and edited by Roy Thomas, is a faithful adaptation given a bit more oomph by the movement in the art. "As seen on TV!" blares the cover blurb. For some reason, Thomas and cover artists Gil Kane and Ralph Reese put a talking killdozer on the front of the book! Maybe it talks shit ("You dared DEFY ME--and so you must DIE!!") in the novella, but, sadly, not in the movie.

After conquering print, film and comic books, I can only assume a KILLDOZER video game is on the horizon. Can you imagine playing something similar to Halo 2, except you and your party are fighting a killdozer? Make it happen, game designers!

Posted by Marty at 9:16 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, November 24, 2005 9:20 PM CST
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Happy Thankgiving, Gang
That goes out to all the American readers of this blog. To you Canadians, happy Thursday. Geez, just because you guys don't know when Thanksgiving is supposed to be... (although I will always, this time of year, think about that SCTV gag about Canadians inventing Thanksgiving because you celebrate it earlier)

I'm meeting my dad over at my aunt and uncle's house in Urbana. I presume my two cousins will be there too. This is the first Thanksgiving since my mom passed away that I haven't gone to my brother's mother-in-law's house. Which is a good time with nice people, but it will also be nice to be with my family for a change.

It'll also be nice to eat something that isn't wings. Had 18 mild wings at Buffalo Wild Wings last night, which I didn't think were particularly great. Monday night during football, Chicken, Grady and I plowed through 60 (!) Mo Joe's wings with ease. When they were gone, we were sitting around going, "Damn, we need some more food."

I think I could eat wings everyday. And spaghetti.

Posted by Marty at 10:07 AM CST
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