Monday, May 13, 2013

Stuff I Scrambled to See on Netflix Before It Expired Theater (Part 1)

The May 1 Massacre which decimated my queue ultimately had much less impact than I feared; within days most of my missing titles returned. But, oh, what fun I had in April scrambling to see a lot of the more interesting and/or rare movies while I still could (so I thought). Here then are capsule reviews of some of the stuff I saw:

High School Hellcats (1958): This teen exploitation flick isn't as lurid as it sounds (and might I say, "Damn!"), but it is an entertaining saga of a sweet girl who falls in with the bad crowd at her new school. Actually, though her parents seem like complete tools, it's hard to fathom why she would hang with the Hellcats gang at all. They don't have much going for them other than sass and matching jackets, and she herself doesn't need any social assistance. She finds a nice older soda jerk who clearly has no qualms about dating high school chicks and starts a relationship with him even while experiencing some misadventures. It all culminates in a tragedy and then a scene that's shot like a horror movie. It's worth watching for genre fans--teen exploitation, that is, not necessarily horror, unless you find bobby soxers as fearsome as mummies.

GORP (1980): Oh, this is a horrible film. It's poorly written, directed, acted, and it's cheap, derivative, and tasteless. Yet it's absolutely worth seeing. I believe this is a "so bad it's good" kind of movie, but I warn you that you might well disagree.

It's a raunchy teen comedy about hijinks among the staff at a summer camp. Only problem is it's not very funny. Oh, it strains for wackiness, but though it uses just about every teen sex comedy trope you can think of (I think all it's missing is the scene in which the guys drill a hole in the wall to watch the girls shower), none of it works.

It is worth watching in a weird way, though, to see how flat it is and also catch a glimpse of the stars of tomorrow (well, now they're the stars of yesterday) like Fran Drescher and Rosanna Arquette. Michael Lembeck has the "honor" of headlining this fiasco, but the one who steals the show (and you can tell they really intended him to be the breakout Bluto Blutarsky of this thing) is Dennis Quaid, who makes a complete ass of himself as Mad Bob Grossman. He snarls, he cackles, and he moons, and he's totally over the top all the way.

Canon City (1948): Somehow this prison breakout movie never connected with me the way I hoped, but I'm not gonna say I'm not recommending it. I strongly suspect the John Alton cinematography would have been more impressive had Netflix offered a better copy of the film; after all, John Alton cinematography rules the world. There are some tense moments, and the movie picks up once the convicts hit the road, but it just never hit that next level for me. Maybe I'll give it another shot the next time it's set to expire in two weeks.

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