Friday, December 27, 2019

Attention Deficit Disorder on Steroids

John Landis, Joe Dante and several other directors teamed up in 1987 to deliver a paean to late night TV watching that ranks in the top 20 of my favorite comedies.  The format of the movie features a low budget sci-fi movie called "Amazon Women on the Moon" which a Tv station keeps trying unsuccessfully to broadcast "without commercial interruptions" but is consistently having to deal with the film breaking and thus having to put the viewing audience on standby.

Amazon Women on the Moon (1987):

An unseen TV watcher is thus channel surfing trying to find something to watch, occasionally going back to the station broadcasting the film.  Thus we are treated to a couple dozen vignettes that represent the programming on other TV stations.  The highlight for me is a segment in which a man and his wife (Lou Jacobi and Erica Yohn) are checking out his new TV which supposedly has excellent reception, but a glitch in the electronics zaps the guy and he wanders through some of the TV segments begging his wife to get him out of the situation.

In the meantime our unseen TV viewer who keeps changing the channels stops on several stations, and watches a few commercials and TV shows.  This is the glue, such as it is, that holds the film together.

Among the segments is a pretty cool parody of the 70's Leonard Nimoy hosted TV show "In Search Of..." and of "Ripley's Believe it or Not".  The show, hosted by Henry Silva, is titled "Bull**** or Not?" and this particular episode discusses whether Jack the Ripper may have actually been The Loch Ness Monster.

In another segment an infomercial tells how balding men can live a life of glamor with "real" hair by having segments of floor carpeting stapled to their bald pate.

"Critic's Corner" involves two smarmy movie critics, kinda like Siskel & Ebert, (played by radio show team of Barkley and Lohman.  I never heard of them either, but apparently they were a huge hit on LA radio for a number of years.).  The two introduce a new segment of their show in which they critique the life of an average Joe, Harvey Pitnik (Archie Hahn), who coincidentally happens to be watching the critics on TV and is exasperated by their comments on his less than spectacular life.

David Alan Grier appears in two segments as singer Don Simmons, one of which is a segment touting his greatest hits and another in which B. B. King enlists support for a charity for "Blacks Without Soul".  (Don "No Soul" Simmons is basically an African-American version of Pat Boone...)

In one scene a young man (Matt Adler) tries to surreptitiously buy a package of condoms only to find himself as the center of attention for being the 1,000,000 customer to buy that particular brand.

Throughout the film our unseen viewer keeps going back to the station showing the classic low budget sci fi movie of the title,  which feature Steve Forrest as the commander of a spaceship trying to engage in a battle of wits with the leader (Sybil Danning) of an all-women race of inhabitants on the Moon.    If you've seen enough of these low budget types of sci-fi movies from the 50's you will appreciate the zingers the film gets off at this genre.

This is only a handful of the segments within the film.  There are a whole host of cameos in this film, some familiar and some maybe not so familiar to you.  The cast reads like a who's who of late 80's character actors, including Rosanna Arquette, Paul Bartel, Ed Begley, Jr., Ralph Bellamy, Andrew Dice Clay, Griffin Dunne, Carrie Fisher, Steve Guttenberg, Arsenio Hall, Phil Hartman, Peter Horton, Mike Mazurki, Marc McClure and Michelle Pfeiffer.  It also includes in one rather gauche but still funny segment, involving a roast at a funeral, appearances by well-known comedians Steve Allen, Charlie Callas, Rip Taylor, Slappy White and Henny Youngman.

Be warned.  There are a couple of scenes of nudity in the film.  After all, two of the cameos are by Playboy and Penthouse models.  And there is a reason that the top of the movie poster above includes the word "Shameless".   It is not a movie for the prude, in other words.

Well folks, time to fire up the retro-rockets and go back to the planet I came from (wherever that is).  Drive safely, folks.



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