[Continuing with my series of reruns of old posts. This one was originally posted on September 21, 2012]
The 7 Faces Of Dr. Loa: A George Pal film, starring Barbara Eden as the schoolmarm and Tony Randall as everyone else. A fantasy allegory, and under the rather blatant tale of a greedy land developer thwarted by a mysterious circus are some surprisingly deep questions about reality and how our perceptions shape the world we live in.
The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T: Written by Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Suess, it’s a tale of an evil piano teacher who wants to take over the world and the heroic plumber who saves the day. It’s also about creativity and the sad consequences of trying to force people into a mold that doesn’t fit them.
The Abominable Dr. Phibes: You may never have heard of this film, but you’ve been watching bits and pieces of it all your life. Phibes was the original mad genius driven to revenge from beyond the grave.
Artists And Models: Okay, so it’s Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, but, wait, don’t run off just yet. Shirley MacLaine gets tied up! Not convinced yet? It’s actually quite funny, and the theme of censorship and artistic freedom is just as topical now as it was in 1955.
Bubba Ho-Tep: Elvis Presley and Jack Kennedy (who is now black) defend a nursing home in Texas from a predatory mummy. Let that sink in for a moment, and then let me add, it’s not a comedy. Yes, there is a lot of humor in it, and some of it is quite absurd, but it’s really a very disturbing look at how our culture treats its elderly.
The City Of Lost Children: Uh. This is a hard one to describe. It’s really easier to make people watch it and then talk about it afterward. It’s about innocence and experience and loss and hubris and dreams and stuff like that. Visually amazing–some of the images will haunt you forever. Plus Ron Perlman!
How To Murder Your Wife: A screwball comedy with Jack Lemmon about how really terrible people are. It isn’t morality that keeps us from being killers, this film opines, it’s fear. And it makes you laugh as it twists the knife.
The Return Of The Living Dead: The bit about zombies eating brains? Don O’Bannon invented it, and in the director’s commentary on this film he explains why, and it makes sense. More to the point, he made a zombie apocalypse film about how real people would react to hordes of the walking dead decades before it was cool. “send… more… cops…”
Shakes The Clown: Again, this is one that gets billed as a comedy that isn’t. It’s a very dark story about the struggle of one man to take back his life from alcoholism that just happens to use a whole lot of absurdist humor to make its point. You’ll remember the funny bits, but the serious story will stick with you in a subtler and more lasting way.
Suicide Kings: Four college kids kidnap a retired mob boss to try to force him to pay the ransom for another kidnapping. It’s… complicated. Much isn’t what it seems, and what is what it seems is more than that. Amazing performances all around, a very tight, very breathless little film that mostly takes place in one room.