Archive for the ‘60s’ Category

Up, Up and Straight Up My Ass – Batman the Movie (1966)

June 6, 2008

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The back of the DVD case reads: “When Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) get a tip that Commodore Schmidlapp (Reginald Denny) is in danger aboard his yacht, they launch a rescue mission. But the tip is a set-up by four of the most powerful villains ever, who seek to defeat the Dynamic Duo once and for all! Armed with a dehydrator that can turn humans into dust, the fearsome foursome intends to take over the world! Can the Caped Crusaders use their high-flying heroism and groovy gadgetry to declaw Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), ice the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), upstage the Joker (Cesar Romero), and stump the Riddler (Frank Gorshin) in time?”

Holy camp classic, Batman! If that doesn’t sound like a fun time, what does? Batman and Robin, four villains and a deadly dehydrator?! Sounds like director Joel Schumacher time-traveled to the 60s with the moisture-robbing plot device from Batman Begins in tow! Sounds like something … meant to be laughed at … on purpose. Hm.

While in my pupae stages I thought this movie was just poorly conceived, like a bunch of guys went out to make a really epic Batman movie and failed miserably. I was used to the Batman in Batman: The Animated Series and Tim Burton’s movies, where he’s a dark, brooding anti-hero spending every agonizing moment of his miserable life stewing in the childhood memory of the murder of his parents. If Adam West’s Batman witnessed such tragedy in his youth there’s no sign of it. He prances, flirts, waves his arms in the air as he leaps around and everything in the Batcave is obsessively labeled, even the water cooler – the Bat Water Cooler. He’s still a bit unhinged but he’s nicer about it in this version. Now that I am older and wiser I can appreciate the beloved hero in his various interpretations, especially this warm-hearted, well-written goofy version. He’s a farce, a parody of action/adventure yarns, one that actually influenced the comic books to take on a less-serious tone, and it managed to increase sales and popularity of the character.

Based on the 60s TV series, Batman the Movie is the first in my new series of superhero movie reviews that will continue right up to my inevitable review of anticipated The Dark Knight, out July 18th. I’m a tremendous Batfiend bristling with excitement for the new release, so it’s with great pleasure I stalk, glide and pratfall down the memory lane of Gotham Cities past. Welcome to the latest installment of …

You want ... SOME CORNFLAKES?

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Watch Out, Men – The Housemaid

March 17, 2008

Years before Play Misty for Me and Fatal Attraction it was Korea that warned young men, the beasts of civilized society, of the wiles of young women and what they can do to tear apart the foundation of the family. In the midst of the counterculture free love and women’s lib movements The Housemaid (or Hanyo) came along and told guys point blank to watch out for those crazy home wreckers. You’re already married to a pregnant wife, have a steady job teaching piano at the factory, and two lovely kids, even though the daughter’s in crutches and the son’s a bit of a smartass. So, why, why, WHY throw it all away for a night with the housemaid?!

ZOMG

The father pays for his mistake, his face planted firmly in his palm half the time. It’s a wacky, unpredictable situation enhanced by that special blend of psychotic Korean melodrama (think Oldboy) that, similar to Possession, goes from high drama to pure trauma in zero to 60 flat. The father is constantly grimacing from his mistake, the women tear their clothes off and the wife is stoic and noble to the point of absurdity. When the housemaid – with the fearsomeness of a classic movie monster – somehow takes over the home she orders the dad to get out of bed with his wife to come sleep with her, threatening the kids with rat poison in the meantime. Throw in an abortion, infanticide, suicide and pure lusty madness and you got all the psychological trauma you can stand.

It’s a brisk, bizarre movie shot in all sorts of weird angles with cheesy symbolic special effects, like lightning flashes and thunder for whenever something dramatic happens. “Lightning” (really, a crude white line drawn over the frame) strikes a tree outside the house in a Fall of the House of Usher type of fashion, because the housemaid is disrupting the natural order of marriage and family. Nature itself is in turmoil! It’s all very heavy-handed and the politics of desire and gender are off the wall but it’s pretty funny in a retro, campy kind of way. The missing frames and typo-ridden subtitles (that sometimes slide across the frame like skates on ice) add to the charm.

Unfortunately, Housemaid doesn’t appear to be commercially available anywhere so if a local theater has it up on the marquee go see it! To save your family! To save yourself! From … the Housemaid!

High drama!