It Came from Hollywood (1982)
Like Mr. Utterson in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I use to love the theater but haven't stepped through the door of one in twenty years. The last movie I saw in an actual theater I think, was Mel Gibson in Signs. And that was probably twenty years ago. Since then, it has become unwise, for various reasons, to congregate too freely in large numbers with our fellow citizens. But there was a time when movie theaters and drive-ins were prime places of entertainment.
It Came from Hollywood is a collection (anthology?) of clips of the most wretched of bad monster horror, giant bug, J.D., and government anti-dope propaganda films. In between, we have SNL-style skits from the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, two of whom, Gilda Radner and John Candy have since departed for those tinsel town hills in the skies. Cheech and Chong and Dan Ackroyd also deliver performances as theater managers, moviegoers, school vice cops, little girls scared of monkeys and, obsessed with musicals...you get the picture (no pun intended). A movie this charming could not possibly be made today,
Along the way, we have a sneering "tribute" to Edward D. Wood Junior (strange they picked him out of all the others), in which Candy and Ackroyd appear in semi-drag, in a way that is mildly offensive. Gilda Radner portrays her "little girl", giving snarky and naive comments on monsters and guys in gorilla suits. Dan Ackroyd is a "brain expert" and also a cannibal (his performances are the most over-the-top), but the most endearing are Cheech and Chong. Doped and offering comic quips in perfect characterization, Tommy Chong buys the entire contents of the theater snack bar, and Cheech Marin delivers funny lines about the Amazing Colossal Man, suggesting his farts could qualify as "chemical warfare."
O only John Candy seems somewhat bored.
The movies themselves are the typical fare one would expect. I won't post the entire roster, but we have clips from The Amazing Colossal Man, The Brain That Wouldn't Die, The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Violent Years, Glen or Glenda, Plan Nine From Outer Space, Reefer Madness, Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster, Teenage Frankenstein, Horror of Party Beach, and many, many more. The segments of clips are divided into such subjects as "Gorillas," "Giants and Little People," Musical Memories," and (obviously for a movie starring Cheech and Chong) "Getting High." Each segment begins with a short skit or monolog from the chosen comedian.
T here are a few snarky voice-overs, and a few bad tunes to underscore the action. Otherwise, we are treated to a delicious array of clips from sub-sub par films, one of which is so wildly politically incorrect by modern standards (angles in blackface singing imitation spirituals in a "heaven" whose dress and decor are blindingly white. I suppose when this was made it was considered to be the height of humor. It is shocking to see today.
Cheech and Chong, of course, have fun with the inaccuracies and misinformation of the very straight-laced and wildly hysterical government anti-drug films. Making faces in imitation of LSD-tripping "bird men" flying through space, and actors of the Thirties who, quite obviously, were unaware that one does not simply "puff" a marijuana cigarette and get high; the smoke has to be held in the lungs and blown out slowly. All things considered, their appearance n the picture is one of the best things it has going for it.
But it has ALOT of entertainment value, chock full, as it is, of scenes from movies most of which you'll never see. Men in rubber monster suits, stop-motion dinosaurs, shrinking scientists (and growing ones, too), and guys wearing gorilla outfits in 1936. what's not to love?
It would be thirteen years before cable television caught onto the trend for what John Waters calls "barnyard films," and created the show "Reel Wild Cinema" (1995), hosted by the wonderful Sandra Bernhard. That show plumed the bottom of the cinematic sewer to bring much-edited movies stripped of all their most boring elements: Mexican wrestling films, "Nudie Cuties," "Sword and Sandals," you name it. Monster-A-Go-Go. It was the video vault proffered by Mike Varney's Something Weird Video, and it was turd after turd pared down to the littlest gems hidden amongst all that dreck.
But It Came from Hollywood was almost two decades first in line. And for the sake of nostalgia, for a time when going and seeing a movie in a theater was still fun and not a risk-taking proposition, it is...worth the price of admission. Oh, and did I mention the animated commercials exhorting the audience to "go out to the lobby...for a snack." I suppose preferably more stoned than Cheech and Chong.
W ow. Times sure have changed.
It Came From Hollywood (1982)
About the author
Author of Haunted Indianapolis , Indiana Ghost Folklore, , Midwest Maniacs, Midwest UFOs and Beyond, Scary Urban Legends, 50 Famous Fables and Folk Tales, Notorious Crimes of the Upper Midwest : http://tombakerbooks.weebly.com