Saturday, October 5, 2013

"Stridulum" (1979) d/ Giulio Paradisi

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From the producer responsible for such genre gems as Chi sei? aka/ Beyond the Door (1974) and Tentacoli (1976), and the director who brought you 1982's Spaghetti House, comes an Italian sci-fi / horror hybrid with elements borrowed from pretty much every major motion picture of the day, from Damien: The Omen II (1976) to Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1978). With a cast that boasts of names like Franco Nero, Mel Ferrer, John Huston, Shelley Winters, Lance Henriksen, Glenn Ford, and even a coke-zooted cameo from Sam Peckinpah, one could arguably say that never have so many collaborated on a single genre project to produce so very, very little entertainment. Electric bills don't pay themselves, I guess. Throw in a completely unsuitable disco soundtrack by Franco Micalizzi, and there you are.

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"Sai quanto 'L.S.D.'  ho appena preso?" 
We see Jesus Christ (Franco Nero, looking more than a little like Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn, blond variant, no?) as he relates the story of intergalactic good and evil to a bunch of bald kids in a greenhouse. To negate the evil of Zateen's seed, now inside unsuspecting single Earth-mother of one, Barbara Collins ( Joanne Nail), Jesus sends Jerzy Colsowicz (Huston), an elderly guy, to Atlanta. Sounds reasonable. Meanwhile, Barbara's boyfriend, Raymond (Henriksen), has been using her daughter Katy's psychokinetic powers to win games for his professional basketball team, as we see the ball explode just as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar goes in for the winning lay up. The snarky, foul-mouthed Katy (Paige Conner) wears gaudy sunglasses,  paralyzes her mother with a handgun at her birthday party (Barbara isn't the least bit upset, from her wheelchair afterwards, either), sends a nosy detective (Ford) to eye-pecked, flaming car wreck death at the beak and talons of her pet hawk, and brutalizes some shopping mall ice rink bullies (the worst kind, believe me), Bob Probert-style, when she isn't playing Pong on her state-of-the-art projection tv or nailing gymnastic routines.

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It rubs the lotion on the skin, or else it gets a bad case of Gianni Ash again...
The new babysitter (Winters) mumbles a lot, annoyingly hums "Shortenin' Bread" over and over(...and over), bitchslaps Katy, and promises Barbara that she's there to protect her from her daughter, who promptly sends her mother face first into a huge plate glass aquarium(!!!) moments later. Meanwhile, Jerzy sets up  magical operations atop a downtown building, where some bald guys in gimp-wear do some synchronized movements around metal boxes, and he painfully grimaces and waves his arms, which sets off some less-than-impressive visual phenomena in the sky. When Barbara refuses to marry Raymond and bear a second male child (for Katy to mate with, as the prophecy foretells...blech), she's kidnapped and impregnated by Mel Ferrer and his cohorts, and thus, forced to see Sam Peckinpah for an impromptu emergency abortion. You still with me? After playing her in Pong, Jerzy faces off against a mirror-patch grillpieced Katy in a slam bang finale of lackluster visual effects and inappropriate disco stabs, that ends with the brat, now bald headed as Savalas and among the other grinning, young eggheads forced to listen to Jesus' long winded glory days stories in that ethereal greenhouse in the sky. Credits.
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Forecast: There's a fifty percent chance of color-filtered milk clouds, so be sure to wear your wizard's robe when travelling.
Don't let the low score steer you away from this one altogether, folks, as I'm pretty sure the wall-to-wall insanity of the thing might prove entertaining, at least, one viewing's worth. Anything more than that might prove detrimental to your sanity, unless watching John Huston stumble around and make a lot of weird, constipation faces over a blue screen is a kick you feel like revisiting, that is. Hard to believe Glenn Ford followed up his role in Superman (1978) with this. One Wop.

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On a clear night, you can see how the stars form the constellation of Ovidio, The Italian rip-off King.
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