Collector's Edition, Special Edition
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A LOVE STRANGER THAN KING KONG!
A LOVE STRANGER THAN KING KONG!
From writer/director John Landis, the mind behind The Blues Brothers and An American Werewolf in London, comes a love story that transcends the boundaries of nature and good taste the one and only Schlock!
Carnage! Terror! Banana skins! The mighty prehistoric ape Schlocktropus has emerged from hiding to embark on a full-scale rampage across a quiet Southern Californian suburb. The police are baffled. The army is powerless. The body count is rising. But when Schlocktropus encounters a kindly blind woman (Eliza Garrett, National Lampoon's Animal House) who sees beyond his grotesque visage, the homicidal simian is presented with a chance at redemption.
Shot over twelve days on a micro-budget, Schlock launched the careers of both Landis and legendary effects makeup artist Rick Baker (Videodrome). An uproarious pastiche of monster movies, packed to the gills with irreverent humor and biting satire, Schlock serves as the outrageous missing link between the creature features of yesteryear and its creators' subsequent varied and celebrated careers.
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The movie opens on a playground strewn with bodies...and banana peels. The police arrive in time to speak to one survivor, but he offers little in the way of assistance, uttering one word before he passes..."Bananas!" Not much to go on, but we do learn in the last three weeks the Banana Killer (as he's been dubbed by the media) has been the cause for 789 deaths, and Detective/Sergeant Wino (who's in charge of the investigation) sees no end in sight to the carnage stating the only reason he even ventures outside anymore is because it's his job. Also, he thinks the deaths will continue unabated...not exactly the reassurances the general public is looking for, but then that's part of the comedy here. After a group of teenagers stumble across a hidden lair in the California hills and give the police an actual lead, it's determined by the scientific community that the killer is a Schlockthropus, or Schlock, for short (played by Landis himself in a Rick Baker created monkey suit), a prehistoric apeman and missing link in the human evolutionary chain, frozen for the last 20 million years, recently revived somehow in an unfamiliar world. There's a confrontation as the authorities try to apprehend the beast, but it escapes and finds its way to the home of a blind girl named Mindy Binderman, who mistakes Schlock for a dog she names `Willie'. Anyway, the two develop a relationship of sorts, but once Mindy gets her eyesight back, she freaks. Eventually, after a series of seemingly unrelated semi-comic episodes (Schlock in a bakery, Schlock in the movie theater, etc.), all roads lead to the big high school dance where Schlock crashes the party in an attempt to profess his monkey love to Mindy (as only a primate can), but his monkey woo woo is interrupted as the national guard show up and a standoff begins...
First off this isn't going to be a film everyone will enjoy. Diehard fans of Landis and especially Baker will want to check this out, not only to get a glimpse at this early pairing, but also to catch the really funny and worthwhile commentary track featuring the two. The comedy is staggered throughout (mainly consisting of silly sight gags and predictable parodies), as this sort of reminded me of how SNL began turning a lot their skits into feature length films after Wayne's World (1992) hit it big. Problem is, while most of those bits were funny as 10 minute skits, there's just nowhere near the amount of material (or interest) to sustain a hour and a half film...a prime example being the 1994 film It's Pat...ugh, talk about a career killer...anyway, I got the sense Schlock would have been a great ten minute piece for one of Landis' later films in The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977), but stretched out over a 79 minute run time it drags a little. The film started out strong (the scenes with the news reporter are among my favorites), wears thin in the middle, and then picks up again at the end. The drag in the middle is highlighted by there being about five to ten minutes of Steve McQueen's The Blob shown as Schlock goes to the movies. Given this was Landis' first film, I thought the direction was really good as he shows a great deal of knowledge in terms of setting up shots and maintaining a sense of continuity...that's not to say he had any great visuals or settings to shoot, but he seemed to make the most of what he had...speaking of making the most of what one has, the ape suit actually looks kinda decent considering Baker created it on a scant $500 budget (sure he's done better, but then he's also had much larger budgets). As far as the acting, well, it's suitable for the film, which is to say it's really bad, but then I think that was the intent. It's interesting that the best performance should come from Landis himself buried inside an ape suit, as he makes the most out of small gestures and other nuances. All in all Schlock reminded me of a really well done home movie (one that cost $60,000) featuring some humorous moments, and provided an indication of things to come (The Kentucky Fried Movie is one of my favorite comedies).
Anchor Bay Entertainment provides a sharp and clear anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) transfer on this DVD. The Dolby Digital Mono audio isn't as good, but good enough given the source material (I doubt anyone will rush out to re-master the audio). There are a few extras including a theatrical trailer, radio spots, still gallery, and fairly extensive and informative talent bios on both Landis and Baker. There is also a commentary track, as I mentioned earlier, featuring Landis and Baker, as they relate all kinds of fun and interesting facts and tidbits, and generally come off as two friends just hanging out and having a good time. Oh, one more thing, there is also a reproduction of an original promotional poster on the small card in the DVD case, with the flipside featuring the chapter stops.
First film. And makeup is done by Rick Baker. They later did American Werewolf in London.
The budget in Shlock was so low, that Landis played the monster himself. Interviews w/ Landis & Baker are great!
This DVD is considered Highly Collectable!
Seriously, I firmly grasp that this is trying to be a parody, and I really tried to cut Landis some slack for being young, but there really is no excuse for this tripe. I did not laugh once, and found the humor to be not only terribly derivative, but also very repetitive. I love comedies, and I love camp, but I hate "Schlock." I think it tries too hard to be funny with virtually no material. Unless you are legally required to watch this film (and if so, I would sue for cruel and unusual punishment), please do yourself a favor and skip it.