Apr 13, 2010

J-Men Forever (1979)

This midnight movie favourite is a surprisingly well-thought out compilation of the great old serials of yore courtesy Phillip Proctor and Victor Bergman, alumni of The Firesign Theatre. The sole new footage is some black and white scenes with Proctor and Bergman, who try to sort out the dilemma of evil people from the moon who attempt to take over the world, first by rock and roll, then by cannabis! (I'm sure a lot of the film's cultists wouldn't have objected). In any case, this is an infectious What's Up Tiger Lily for the serial crowd, in which some classic moments are re-dubbed and edited together for this crazy story. It features Captain America, Captain Marvel, The Spy Smasher, etc. in an effort to thwart the bad guys, led under the wing of the diabolical Lightning Bug (who apparently has a penchant for disguises, which is why so many different serial villains, from The Crimson Ghost to The Scorpion, appear under the same name. Ha ha). Although this attempt at stringing together all these superheroes and supervillains gets to be a bit much at the end (in a way, it becomes just as episodic as the serials it plunders), the effort is there, and for the most part it's damned funny. I love how they use a lab experiment from one film which results in an explosion cribbed from another source. Although the film is re-dubbed, in a way it begs more comparison with Carl Reiner's underrated Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, which also succeeds in telling a complex story from a wide range of source material.

(originally published in ESR #9)

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