Sunday, September 23, 2007
Any film that exposes you to (in chronological order): a serial murder, a karate demonstation, an accidental electrocution, disfigurment, ESP, a witch, more serial killings, a ghost, an LSD trip and a sniper attack all within 80 minutes can't be all that bad...can it?
Well, 1967's SOMETHING WEIRD (directed by the legendary Hershall Gordom Lewis) is all that bad - and much, much more. Never before have I seen a cast that looked more like insurance salesman than actual actors. Never before have I seen so many people "pretending" rather than acting. It's almost like everyone is improving their dialogue - but not knowing what they are supposed to be talking about. Never before have I wished I was ON LSD just to make sense of it all!
So here's the premise: some guy named Cronin Mitchell gets zapped by a downed electrical wire and the result is a half-burnt face and some newfound psychic powers. Who knew? He wakes up in a hospital and is able to guess what playing cards his nurse is holding up. Then he tries to rape her. Charming fellow.
Meanwhile, we meet Alex Jordan, a karate-chopping federal agent who's hunting down a serial killer in Wisconson. Alex looks a bit like Al Gore, so we know he's the good guy.
After being told that no surgery can repair his face, Cronin sets himself up as a psychic reader wearing a mask to disguise his scarred face. He also uses a table lamp instead of a crystal ball and treats his clients like crap when they actually ask him to predict things. One of his patrons turns out to be an ugly haggard old witch (actually an over-acting young actress in the worst witch make-up EVER). This witch makes Cronin a deal - she'll repair his face if he becomes her lover. In an instant, she transforms herself into a blonde konockout named Ellen - and the two bump uglies.
So, somehow the duo end up helping Jordan with the serial-murder case - but first they must attend a glamorous cocktail party where Cronin levitates to entertain the guests. The next day, Cronin (without Ellen) decides to help the local Reverend contact a ghost who has been haunting his church (or is it a funeral home?). Of course the second he actually makes contact with this ghost, the Reverend tells him to stop. What the fuck? Meanwhile, Jordan starts to make his moves on Ellen - who tells him that she cannot be his lover until Cronin is dead!
SPOILERS AHEAD: Ultimately, Cronin drops acid (best part of the film) and cracks the murder case - and Jordan and Ellen wind up together. But after she reveals her true face to Jordan, he freaks out - running from her (as she cackles at him) falling on a traffic flare and burning half his face!!! Of course, old haggy Ellen makes a bargain with him...THE END. Totally 8 out of 10 on the "Huh?" meter.
The best thing about SOMETHING WEIRD is that it actually gave birth to an amazing video label, Something Weird. They specialize in finding the most obscure exploitation films, particularly the works of Harry Novak, Doris Wishman, and H.G. Lewis. Have the largest selection of weird films in the world and most are genuis!