Friday, September 6, 2013

Less is Mora: Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills

This is...just wow.  I mean, wow.  Today's film is Pterodactyl Woman From Beveryly Hills, a 1997 Film by Philippe Mora.  Remember him?  He has many weird, weird films.  He is the man who brought us Howling II (featuring Reb Brown and Sybil Danning's boobs), Howling III (featuring Were-Tasmanian Tigers), Communion (featuring Christopher Walken and anal-probing) and, most silly, Snide & Prejudice.  Remember that one?  That is the film in which a bunch of people- including Jeffrey Combs, Richard Moll and Angus MacFadyen- all share delusions that they are Nazis in WWII, so their 'Therapist' has them act out Hitler's rise to power and fall from grace.  Seriously- that's a movie!  This is the kind of person we're dealing with.  So what's this film about?  A Paleontologist offends an Indian, so he turns his wife into a Pterodactyl.  Don't you hate unoriginal plots?  In all seriousness, this starts out weird and only gets weirder.  Throw in silly effects, a Zappa and Meta jokes about said effects & you've got a giant bowl of crazy gumbo.  To see just how random and strange this gets, read on...
The film IMMEDIATELY begins with Stock Footage.  Despite the DVD being a Troma release, they resist the urge to just say that this takes place in Tromaville.  Thank God!

So yeah, this is footage I saw in Planet of the Dinosaurs.  Joy.
In the Present (of 1997), two Paleontologists run afoul of an Indian (who calls himself Salvador Dali, since...funny?).  He tells them that they're assholes and he curses them.

Well, actually, he curses one guy and curses the other's guy's wife.  He doesn't even know her, but whatever.
Sure enough, the lady goes throw some changes in Beverly Hills.  She's a super-sized version of the WASP cliche driven to the max.  Beverly D'Angelo is really infectious here, even when she is only allowed to just make silly noises and wave her arms.
In a cheap and silly effect, she is just now a full Pterodactyl and gets inexplicably-chased by a Stealth Bomber, which just happens to be flying around Beverly Hills.  Why?  How?

It doesn't matter, as this just sets up a Government Agent (Stephen McHattie) going after her.  She's never in full-form again.
Here's something odd: Aron Eisenberg plays the teenage-son of D'Angelo and the Husband.  The problem: the Actor is 28 years old, only appearing young and being short due to a medical issue.

Oh and I just keep running into the guy.  He was in House III, Amityville IV and Puppet Master III.  I don't even know you, so stop showing up in sequels!
Here's another quirk: Barry Humphries shows up in this film, making it his second Philippe Mora film (after Howling III) that I'm aware of.  He adds NOTHING to this film, so thanks for that.
The Husband takes the transformations very well and actually engages in some pseudo-inter-species whoopie.  To horribly paraphrase the Queen: I am not aroused.
They dump a ton of crazy exposition and sub-plots on you.  Here's a quick summary:
* A manipulative 'friend' turns out to be working for the Government.
* The Neighbors want the Dinosaur lady out.
* D'Angelo gets pregnant with a Dinosaur Egg.
* McHattie schemes to get the baby.
* The family goes to the Desert, leading to the return of Stock Footage.
After a lot of Stock Footage (which they Lamp Shade by saying it's a land of Bad Effects and Stock Footage) and a silly speech, the whole problem is resolved.  Your wife still gave birth to an Egg, but whatever.

Oh wait, the real ending is that it might have all been a dream.  Oh...okay.  The End.
I am really confused by this whole thing.  Seriously, I've watched some crazy shit.  I've seen a man time-travel to meet Mary Shelly and Dr. Frankenstein.  I've seen people interact with a ghost in an animatronic doll.  Hell, I've seen Surf Nazis Must Die!  Having said all that, the film is random, silly and has humor broader than the Atlantic Ocean!  There are sometimes jokes, sometimes sight gags and occasionally clever bits.  When all of that fails, they just have people run around and make noises.  Beverly D'Angelo is a Co-Producer on this film, so it makes her tendency to just act silly all the more strange.  The film's other Co-Producer/Star (Brion James) is usually like this, so I'm not surprised.  Usually in films where Actors are only performers, they tend to get thrown into roles like this.  The Director says 'jump' and they ask 'In what silly way?'  As a Co-Producer, it's certainly curious.  I don't fault her for having fun- I just find it odd.  Speaking of odd, everything else.  James plays 3 Roles (sort of) and just acts silly.  Philippe Mora himself even plays a part.  Was your Budget that low or did you just get bored working behind-the-scenes (a la Eric Bischoff in 1996)?  Regardless, this is a tricky recommendation.  If you like purely-silly Comedy and have an open mind, check this out.  I can't guarantee that you'll like it (I'm still not quite sure how I feel ATM), but you are the audience.  As for everyone else, well, you were never going to watch Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills.  Isn't that right, Philippe Mora?
Up next, another Phantom of the Opera film, albeit with a weird twist.  Every Netflix review is 1 Star, so it should be a classic!  Stay tuned...

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