Tuesday, May 25, 2004

In addition to any other weirdness this past weekend, I watched just about the weirdest 4-pack of movies on video that you could imagine: Westworld, Rashomon, Russ Meyer's Up!, and Trog.

Westworld was that type of pre-Star Wars '70s scifi that I loved and it was fun, but it totally ripped off the Itchy and Scratchy Land episode. Rashomon was exactly what I'd heard it was--ponderous, interesting, well-made--but that's just my perspective. Up! isn't exactly a cinematic classic, but with Russ Meyer you know what you're getting, and it did exactly what I wanted it to do for me. Um, twice. And then there's Trog.

Here's the pitch meeting for Trog in a nutshell: Joan Crawford was a big bankable movie star 25 years ago, and now she's not, but if spend a low enough amount of money on the rest of the movie, maybe it will make a profit.

In Trog, the game(y) Crawford is sort of an anthropologist, or maybe a biologist, or something, and she runs this scientific institute in Britain. (About one-third of the time she seems to be trying a British accent; the rest of the time, not so much.) Some local biology (or something--it's not clear) students (or something--it's not clear; smell a trend?) go spelunking and find what seems to be the missing link, who is fearsome in spite of being about 5-foot-8 and totally human looking except for a monkey-head that's about as convincing as the masks you'd still find at Family Dollar on November 2nd. One of the "students" is killed, the other in shock, and the third never sees Trog. The third one goes to the institute and gets Crawford to go back in the cave with him, where they lure out Trog (short for troglodyte) and subdue him with a tranquilizer gun. Then Crawford spend the next hour studying Trog, teaching him rudimentary skills, and having a team of internationally renowned scienticians study and do surgery on him. Oh, and she has her eye-candy moron British daughter in short skirts feed him. All the while there's this subplot where one local hates Trog and wants him killed for some reason (say it with me: it's not clear). Then with 10 minutes to go they all realize nothing has actually happened yet, so Trog goes on a murderous rampage for some reason, kidnaps a little girl, gives Crawford back the girl, then gets blowed up by the military. Meanwhile, Crawford makes a lot of speeches that sound like extracts from high school science textbooks and/or beauty pageant speeches about world peace.

Speaking of beauty pageants, The Swan had it's pageant last night. I only watched the last half hour, but I just about swallowed my tongue at one key moment. After winnowing from 9 to 3 contestants, they announce the 2nd runner-up, and then in a ludicrous nod to beauty pageant tradition the host announces that the 1st runner-up (or as Kristan put it when I told her this story at work today, The Cygnet) will assume the title should The Swan be unable to fulfill her duties. What the hell duties does The Swan have? floating on top on water, and giving speeches to average-looking high school girls saying that with hard work, perserverance, and $250,000 worth of plastic surgery and therapy, they too can fulfill their dreams. Provided their dreams consist of appearing on Fox reality shows and crying a lot. But don't worry, The Cygnet is standing by in case that proves too daunting.

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