William Girdler was a curious guy. He only made a hand-full of movies in his career before tragically dying while out getting aerial shots in a helicopter. As such, he only has a small resume of bad films to his credit, including Grizzly and Day of the Animals. The only real notable thing about them is that he cast Christopher George in a rip-off role of Sheriff Brody from Jaws in the first film...and did it again with Day. However, his last film is a real curiosity of storytelling and logic. On top of that, it does not star Christopher George, so it has one thing going for it at least. Instead, it stars Tony Curtis, the man that dared to replace Walter Mattheau in The Bad News Bears Go To Japan. Rather than lingering on that cinematic abortion, let's focus on the movie at hand. It is...
Our story begins with a woman going to the hospital with a mysterious ailment. It is diagnosed as a tumor, but has some curious aspects to it. For one thing, it is growing on the back of her neck at a quick rate. Secondly, it has a completely different shape and texture than any other tumor. Finally, it has a heart beat! This pushes her to go get it removed, but that presents some problems. While she is under an anesthetic, a mysterious force takes over the laser machine- really- that they were going to use to cut out the thing. Here's a thought guys- use your damn hands! A little freaked out, our heroine contacts her ex-husband (Curtis) who is a psychic that dresses like a Chinese man as part of his routine. Great Moments in Race Relations, anyone? Anyhow, he contacts her and she explains the situation...as well as anyone can. He takes her to see a doctor who specializes in tumors, but he cannot help. Desperate, Mr. Curtis goes to an old friend who can help, played by Burgess Meredith with a Colonel Sanders beard. He tells them all about old Indian lore involving witch doctors reincarnating themselves in other people's bodies. Of course, why didn't I think of that?!?
Curtis goes out into the middle of nowhere to see an Indian who can help. Our hero is still not convinced, but does what he can to help his ex-wife. I'd be curious to see if Alec Baldwin would do that! The Indian man is not 100% on board with the idea, since it would endanger his life for someone he does not know. Curtis gives him a version of the whole 'do no harm' thing and he eventually decides to go help. By the way, the 'Indian' is played by Michael Ansara, a character actor who is actually Lebanese! Our heroine is back in the hospital now because the tumor has grown quite large. He shows up to help, but appears to be too late. The ancient wizard has been reborn...as a midget. Wait, what?!? I don't get the logic here at all, but okay. He takes over the hospital floor using his magical power to summon coconut scrapings...I mean, snow and causing electrical objects. As we learned from Supergirl, ancient magic always works on modern devices! The battle is tense and dramatic. Oh wait, it is actually just a midget chanting in another language and the 'Indian' banging a drum while chanting. Oh my God, it's a chant off! But wait, it gets better.
All of the chanting is for naught and the evil Shaman seems to have the upper hand. In a fun effects shot, he freezes a nurse, only for Curtis to bump into her and make her shatter. In a bit of extreme movie logic, they decide to use the power of modern electricity to counteract the Shaman's powers. They step out into infinity and do battle! Despite having a human being pop out of her back, our heroine suddenly comes back to life and attacks the villain with the power of the building. Words cannot describe what the hell is supposed to happen here, so I will rely on this clip from www.badmovies.org instead. Go ahead, try to make sense of it. The villain is defeated and the day is saved. That is, providing you were not that nurse. She's still dead. The End.
*As far as final films go, you could do worse. I'm looking at you, Orson Welles and Jim Varney! That said, this movie is a weird mix of the mundane and the absurd. It is a bit slow getting anywhere good, but overdoes it in the ending parts. I can appreciate you using digital effects and the flashy stuff, but it has to make some sense! 'Sense' is not something that you get a lot of here though. Why did the evil Shaman choose her? I don't know. Why did Curtis need to be a fake psychic? I don't know. Why the hell did Burgess Meredith have that goatee? I don't know. These kinds of movies usually have giant plot holes or logic gaps, but this one is still a doozy. In spite of that, it has a certain appeal to it. I mean, it has a midget Shaman reborn out of a woman's back. How often do you see that formula?!?
*Up next, I tackle the first in my series of lesser Ed Wood films. There is no Plan 9 here- just the weird stuff that people try to forget. Stay tuned...