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It Came from Hollywood

Part Two of The IT-athon!

    "Man, I'd hate to be the one to make him pull his pants down!"

--  Cheech Marin on the Colossal Man's diaper   

 

     

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Gonzoid Cinema

 

 

Buzzkillers!

"And a Hi-de-Ho!"

And this, too, we owe to Hollywood.

 

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Sights &
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It Came
from
Hollywood
(1982)
 Paramount
 Pictures

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It Came from Hollywood

Terror in the Aisles

Terror on Tape

Filmgore

 
 

As far as B-Movie geeks go, as a child growing up in the 1970's, I was deprived. Living in a farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere, Nebraska, I was stuck with a rabbit-eared television that had a grand total of four stations. Let me repeat that: FOUR STATIONS! The three major affiliates and a PBS station was all we had, and every stinking one of them went off the air around midnight. No cable. No satellite dish. And no local monster-movie showcases hosted by a cool ghoul announcer. Once an eon, you'd might get lucky and there'd be something on the late-late show that almost qualified as a B-movie, or perhaps on a weekend afternoon, when one of the affiliates wouldn't pony up for the fees for an NFL game and dig something strange out of their libraries (-- which is how I was introduced to Mario Bava in the form of What? a/k/a The Whip and the Body). Unfortunately, this was more naught than often, and by the close of the '70s, aside from a few Godzilla movies, the Planet of the Apes franchise, and a few Harryhausen re-releases, the number of B-movies that I had actually seen could probably be counted on one hand.

To make up for this, every nook and cranny of my room was overcompensated with stacks of monster magazines and books devoted to the subject. Devouring every bit of information I could get my hands on, I would drool at the back-pages of my Famous Monsters of Filmland, CREEPY and EERIE magazines, where the offers for film projectors and Super-8mm outtakes of these classics lurked that I could only read about. Alas, a dream that never reached fruition.

On came the '80s and the birth of the VCR, and I honestly don't believe that this generation of B-Movie fans know how lucky they are with things as simple as a VCR -- let alone DVD or the internet. But luck was against me again when a shifty salesman conned my mom into buying a Betamax. Well, we all know what happened there. Stuck with an Edsil, all the stuff Iíd been longing to see was readily available in VHS for rent or sale, but it was still agonizingly out of my reach. Occasionally I'd scrape some money together and rent a VHS VCR and dub off some prized treasures. I got the original Thing From Another World and King Kong this way, along with Steve McQueen in The Blob and Earth vs. The Flying Saucers.

Eventually, Santa brought me a VHS player for Christmas in í86. (Wohoo!) And that wonderful black box popped my B-cherry on many a cinematic challenge for over ten years as I frantically caught up on what I'd been missing. Iíve lost count of all the bug-eyed alien invaders, irradiated bugs, and other monsters running amok and threatening mankind, and it immersed me into the world of Edward D. Wood Jr., Bert I. Gordon, Del Tenney and Roger Corman. Then, after going through two sets of heads, she finally wheezed and died on a rainy day in October of Ď97. The old girl still sits proudly on a shelf bearing a paper plaque that reads: "She tampered in Godís Domain."

So this review's for you, old girl. *sniff*

Okay, is this coming off as earnest or pathetic

Be honest now.

Well, on second thought ... Don't.

Alrighty then, enough with the nostalgia and childhood trauma, on with this week's film.

One of the few films available on Betamax to feed my need for a B-movie fix was It Came From Hollywood. Six years before the greatest show on earth premiered on a local Minnesota TV station, this movie came out where a group of comedians showcased some of the oddest things ever committed to film. While they watched, they commented on the insanity playing across the screen. And the most exciting part was, I was finally getting to see things, albeit in short clips, that until then Iíd only been able to read about.

Dan Aykroyd tackled aliens, troubled teens and the brain. (Eek! A brain!) And it was a here that I got my first glimpse of the invading "hostile pipe welders" in Prince of Space, Ed Woodís take on juvenile delinquency during The Violent Years, and the disembodied brains hopping around in The Fiend Without a Face.

Next, John Candy gives us a touching tribute to Ed Wood, some wonderfully demented previews of coming attractions (-- and does anyone else think the preview for Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is more entertaining than the actual movie?), and a nice, sincere segment defending the minor technical triumphs of these budget-strapped epics.

Then Cheech and Chong guide us through a tour of giants and little people, the animal kingdom gone berserk, and an intervention to "Just say no" by highlighting films about getting high. Colossal men and puppet people indulged my senses, and I also learned to avoid the fog at all costs our face the wrath of the 50-foot Chicken Wing (-- better known as The Deadly Mantis.)

Gorillas, oddball musicals and monsters get the Gilda Radner treatment. This was special because here I got my first glimpse of a personal hero -- Ro-Man the Robot Monster, and A*P*E, the giant horny gorilla. Icky tree monsters and burnt casserole men also plodded along, warming the cockles of my heart.

Now as much as Cheech and Chongís drug segment cracked me up, Radnerís memorable musical moments is my favorite part because, out of all the films featured in the movie, these came off as the most bizarre. Who can forget the Everly Brothers other brothers, the singing duo of Chip and Emil. (Emilís the one with the slight muscle disorder.); the grand display of synchronized dancing during the banana ripening number in Sunny Side Up; and no matter how hard I try, I can barely get the 'La-La" song from Mantango (a/k/a Attack of the Mushroom People) out of my head. But the one clip that I canít shake is the really disturbing "Going to Heaven on a Mule" number from the musical Wonder Bar that featured Al Jolson and others in black face as singing stereotypes. Don't believe me? Well, take a look for yourself:

 

Man that is just wrong. Weird, but wrong (-- and a hi-de-ho.)

The film was the tandem brain-child of Malcom Leo and Andrew Solt. The year before, the two had collaborated on This is Elvis, another clip compilation project focused on the meteoric rise and tragic fall of the King of Rock-n-Roll, and the two would continue to collaborate over the next two decades on tributes to other rock acts and several TV reunion specials. Allegedly, It Came from Hollywood was inspired by the Medved brother's recently released book, The Golden Turkey Awards; one of the first efforts to draw attention to Hollywood's cinematically challenged epics. Not as scathing as their book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time, the Golden Turkey book was more a celebration of the ineptitude of some films and filmmakers -- most notably, Ed Wood, whom they unfairly branded as the worst director of all time. However, even though the Medveds were hired as consultants for the picture, they weren't all that impressed by the finished film, and made sure to take a few pot-shots at it in their follow up book The Hollywood Hall of Shame.

And even to this day the film takes a lot of grief because along with the usual cheese-o-ramas, there are some genuine, bona fide classics like War of the Worlds, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Incredible Shrinking Man. These are the same folks who took the Mystery Science Theater folks to task for having the temerity to lampoon This Island Earth. How dare they besmirch these films! The audacity! The utter gall! Please. Lighten up, folks. I swear I will never understand the pompous doucheitude of some people on this subject ... It just smacks of someone trying to justify a juvenile habit -- like how some people insists comic books be called graphic novels. And that's just sad. Look, these movies aren't museum pieces to be kept under glass and analyzed from afar. Hell no! These movies are sandboxes, and whether you jump in feet first or head first is up to you -- have a blast, and just be wary of the turds you might turn up. And I do love and respect these movies just as much as the next film freak, some of them fairly dearly, and they sure as hell don't need anyone's protection. Really -- it's okay to laugh when others poke fun at them, because if you'd stop bitching for a moment and listen a little closer, you can see a true affection for these films shining through the all the jokes and barbs.

Unfortunately, nobody will be seeing this film again anytime soon anyway. Paramount was going to release it on DVD in 2002, but some last second copyright issues tanked it and it appears to be scuttled for good. So unless you can get your hands on an old VHS copy you're shit out of luck. However, at last check the film pops up on YouTube once in awhile, and hopefully it's still there.

It Came from Hollywood was by no means the seed by which my fandom sprung, but it helped fertilize a sapling that soon grew into a mighty, B-Movie lovin' oak. And as I look back through the credits and the list of films dismantled by the comedians way back then, I recalled how I vowed to someday view each and every one. Iím still working on it, but Iím happy to report that itís now the number of films that I havenít seen that I can count on one hand.

It Came from Hollywood (1982) Paramount Pictures / EP: Malcom Leo, Andrew Solt / P: Susan Strausberg, Jeff Stein / AP: Jim Milio, Susan Walker / D: Malcom Leo, Andrew Solt / W: Dana Olson / C: Fred Koenekamp / E: Janice Hampton, Sarah Legon, Bert Lovitt / S: Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Gilda Radner, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong

Back to the IT-athon!

Originally Posted: 03/03/00 :: Rehashed: 04/18/09

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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