Manic Monday Apocalypso: The Wages (and Prices) Of Sin

The beauty of the Apocalypse is that it comes in so many flavors, to appeal to so many people. Ya gotcher Rapture, your Ragnarok, your Mayan 2012, and of course such modern classics as nuclear holocaust, zombie-or-zombie-like contagion, overpopulation or just good old famine. Something for everyone to enjoy.

But, of course, the end of the world is more likely to come in a more banal way, or at least always has in the past. Which brings us to Forty Centuries of Wage and Price Controls, a book written 30 years ago, in the wake of Nixon’s (et al.) disastrous experiments with wage and price controls.

Schuettinger and Butler show us the decline of great civilizations that followed those civilization’s “elite” tampering with the free market. From Hammurabi and the Pharaohs to the Soviets and Weimar, the drives are similar and the results always the same.

Despite this, these “experiments” are repeated over and over again. Keep that in mind next time you talk to someone calling himself a “progressive”.

Seems like the only truly progressive idea is that man should be free to govern his own affairs.

Manic Monday Apocalypso: Miracle Mile

Here’s a kind of obscure movie that wasn’t out long enough for me to see back in the ‘80s. It perfectly captures the Reagan-era atomic annihilation paranoia which, interestingly enough, seemed to peak at the end of the Cold War.

The press reveled in presenting Reagan as an amiable dunce with an itchy trigger finger which, curiously, never took effect. They and their Democratic masters called him the Teflon President. They tried to smear him and were frustrated by their failure. (It is hard to understand, really, the Press spoke with one voice back then that can scarcely be imagined now. But the economy was going gangbusters and that pretty much determines popular success or failure, I think.)

This had two effects. One was, they perhaps bizarrely gave Reagan a kind of credibility with the Communists that scared them into bankrupting themselves. But the more obvious one was that they scared the bejeesus out of the West, giving rise to apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic narratives like at no other time in history. Possibly at a time when they were least like to happen.

So let us look at this 1988—no, really, the wall would come down the next year—nuclear war film, which stars a bunch of TV luminaries, like Anthony Edwards, Mare Winningham, Denise Crosby and Mykelti Williamson, as well as cult favorites O-lan Jones, John Agar and Jenette Goldstein, to say nothing of a cameo by actor/director Peter Berg.

The story goes that trombonist Harry (Edwards) and waitress Julie (Winningham) meet each other at the museum, but due to a stray cigarette and some sleepy pills, Anthony ends up missing a late-night date with her. This puts him at his date location at 4:00AM in the heart of the Miracle Mile district.

While waiting outside Johnny’s Diner, the phone rings, but it’s not Julie, it’s some guy in a nuclear silo trying to reach his dad. He’s distraught because, apparently, he’s been ordered to launch.

Now, Anthony has about an hour and fifteen minutes to live, and he ends up trying to convince others in the coffee shop that it’s for real, and they’ve got to get out of the city. But as they’re in progress, he decides he has to get off—he has to go get Julie.

So it’s sort of a surreal love story.

Why the movie works (for me) is the surreality that attends this adventure. The love-at-first-sight-turning-to-boning-on-second-date. The bird that carts off the cigarette. The possums that fall from the tree. The transvestite. The 1988 cell phone. The cop covered in gasoline who shoots her gun. The old couple that refuses to talk to each other till the day they die. The helipad search for vitamins. The eerily lit all-night gym. The rioting. The elevator make-out.

All in an area I had lived in for a couple of years. Not Miracle Mile—I didn’t have that kind of money. But I knew Johnnies. (I didn’t eat there; I was more a Norm’s guy. But I’m pretty sure that they didn’t have the Bob’s Big Boy-style giant dude with twirling hamburgers.) The Fairfax district (where the museum is) still looks basically the same, and I visit the museum and other sights occasionally. So there’s a little of the Volcano-type thing that appeals to me, too.

Some people just think it’s all stupid. I don’t know: None of us really knows how we or anyone else would act in that circumstance. I think a little weirdness is in order, frankly. Some say this movie was originally meant to be part of “The Twilight Zone” movie which, I suppose, wouldn’t have fit any better or worse than John Landis’ entry, though Vic Morrow might still be alive.

If there’s a moral to this week’s entry, it’s that a lot of people, even into 1988, months before the wall came down, thought the end was nigh. In the next few years, nuclear apocalypse movies would take a big hit. (Even though an unstable Russia may have been far more dangerous than a decaying USSR.)

Now, while people still worry about nuclear bombs, they worry a lot less about total nuclear annihilation. Which goes to show you that sometimes it really is darkest before the dawn.

Manic Monday Apocalypso: This Is Not How The World Ends

Well, gosh, folks, despite all the dire predictions, it turns out that the world may actually be in for an extended cooling period before we go through the horrors of global warming. The above New Scientist article (hat tip Ace Of Spades HQ) is priceless on so many levels.

We have “scientist” Mojib Latif insisting that cooling should not be taken as proof that there won’t later be warming. Reassuring us that despite the evidence, he’s still a true believer and he’s only bringing up these ugly questions because, you know, deniers will point to this as some sort of validation, and question the whole premise of man-caused disaster.

Note that “global warming” carries the implicit guilt of Man in it: “natural variability is at least as important as the long-term climate changes from global warming.

Even the arctic ice loss may, in fact, be at least partly, no matter how minutely—we hate to even bring it up lest it give the easily led the wrong idea—due to natural causes! The money quote, for me, as it admits what I’ve said all along:

Model biases are also still a serious problem. We have a long way to go to get them right. They are hurting our forecasts.

Yeah. No kidding. Look, anyone using a computer model to predict something should minimally be able to: “predict” the past and also predict a short way into the future. The climate models I’ve seen couldn’t even predict the past.

When you model something, what you do is feed your algorithms with your data starting from some arbitrary past point where you know the outcome well. Ideally, your model then shows what happened. If it doesn’t, you rework your algorithms until your model actually works.

And then, it can still be wrong and completely unable to predict the future. Because what you’re really doing with the above process is, basically, cheating. You know the desired results. Even if you’re completely honest and pure, you can glean what changes in the algorithm will tend to favor the desired outcome, and it can’t be easy to stop yourself from coming up with a theory to justify those changes. But the game is already rigged at this point.

Never mind if your intention is to create certain results. The Civilization games have off-and-on done an excellent job of modeling certain aspects of actual history. It wasn’t unusual in Civ 3, for example, to have world wars break out at the beginning (and middle) of the 20th century. It could be positively eerie.

To the degree that it matters, the real shame is probably that global warming as an actual phenomenon has been demonized. But global warming would probably be a very good thing. It’d be a little (more) uncomfortable for those of us living in the desert, though the difference between a 118 degree high and a 120 degree high is not that much, perceptually.

But just look how much of the world’s land is under permafrost. It’s a cold world, overall, and a little more warmth would give us a much bigger food supply, shorter winters, fewer freezing deaths, and on and on.

Not that it really matters to the earth what we think or what is good for us: It’s gonna get colder. Right now, I think, ironically enough, we might be headed for a new ice age.

But, honestly, that probably won’t be the end of the world either.

So, until next time, stay frosty, non-mutants.

MMA Bonus: We are devo.

I follow Steve Simon on Twitter; he’s one of the guys I followed early on in my far less discriminating days. But he has interesting stuff, so he survived the big purge I did when I realized there was no way I could keep up with all the tweets.

A few weeks ago he talked about retiring, and then about cutting costs by doing a variety of tasks–lawn care, oil change, etc.–on his own. Nothing wrong with that, especially if these are things he derives some pleasure out of.

But at a social level, it’s a symptom of poverty: We specialize because it’s more efficient. An expert with the right tools can do something better and more cheaply than you can at home. This is not really a different discussion than the previous one on fast food. Economies of scale, expertise and specialization (why even fast foods are usually separated by variety of slop: chicken, burger, Mexican, sandwiches) both result from and drive wealth.

One thing Americans don’t get about European countries is that it’s kind of a big deal to go to lunch. Even Canada, with its $9 Subway footlongs–which must suck given they can see the $5 footlong ads from America.

It’s sensible–necessary, even–to do more for yourself if it saves money. And there are good non-monetary reasons to do things, too: Just so you know you can fix the pipes, change the oil, etc.

But it’s better if that’s a luxury you do because you like or want to, not because the economy is such that you can’t get paid more at your specialty than it would cost you to do on your own.

Manic Monday Apocalypso: The Charleton Heston Three

Although he became a right-wing icon, it’s hard to think of the guy who uttered such cynical and dark anti-human sentiments in three iconic apocalyptic films of that cinematic cesspool known as the late ‘60s/early ’70s as being conservative.

Well, okay, it’s hard to imagine Ronald Reagan saying those things. We don’t have to imagine Heston saying these things, because he did.

In the first, and by far the best, movie of the pseudo-trilogy is Planet of the Apes. Heston wanders around a sort-of 19th century desert world where non-human primates struggle with Enlightenment ideas and a hugely restrictive religion that’s bent on covering up a dark past. It’s a grossly cynical movie that works because it’s also a great action film, a Twilight-Zone-esque mystery, and for all its cynicism, does not come across as a nihilistic film.

I should read Pierre Boulle’s novel. If I understand correctly, his story took place in a world more like the world of the 1960s, and I think was more meant as an indictment of consumerism and social satire. Tim Burton’s remake sort of touches on that idea–but that movie is haunted by the greatness of the original and contorts itself into absurdity trying to surprise.

The second film in the trilogy is The Omega Man. This is the second adaptation of Richard Matheson’s classic post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller I Am Legend. I’ve talked about it in the link there, so I won’t rehash it much. This movie is the most wildly uneven of the three: The high points–the horror and action setup–are as high as the low points–the whole hippie-as-vampire thing–are low.

I mean, I’ve been impressed by how good parts are, and also how much other parts make me positively wince.

So, I suppose, it’s fair to argue that Soylent Green is a better movie. Meh. It’s so steeped in the sort of thing that our current science czar believes that I find it too hard to take seriously. And it was meant to be taken seriously–and people did.

Omega didn’t really leave any culturally legacies. Soylent left one really prominent one (and a few lesser known ones). And of course Apes is almost up there with Wizard of Oz as far as iconic screen moments and bits of dialogue go.

Still, it’s hard not to look back at those days and think, “Thank God, they’re over!” At least for me, from a cinematic standpoint, anyway. The ’80s would set its own post-Apocalyptic tone with the highly entertaining Mad Max series. Then the point became not “here’s how the world ends” but more “well, now that the world’s ended, let’s party!”

Manic Monday Apocalypso: The Fate Worse Than Death

Another “serious” MMA, no fun movie or comic book or game to talk about. This topic comes courtesy of Darcysport, with whom I had a heated exchange about the fate of GM. She, as a Michigan resident who knows lots of good people who will personally suffer from GM’s failure, wants it to succeed.

I, an asshole, want it to fail. (My words, not hers. We were civil. Mostly.)

My logic is simple, ruthless and uncompromising: The actions involved in the “saving” of GM were illegal, unConstituional, and represent a serious step on the road to fascism. I’m not saying we’re fascists now, or Obama is a fascist; I’m saying that (yet another) barrier to fascism has been removed.

Therefore, whatever ill happens to GM workers pales in comparison to the ills that will follow any “success” GM has. (Any real success is unlikely. A redefinition of the word “success” is most likely.) This was my feeling about the initial, massive financial system bailout–a feeling I think has been vindicated (in a very short time) by the subsequent actions and failures.

But it’s easy to say this about people you don’t know. “Let them suffer, so that the Republic may live.” It’s all so abstract. (Principles are like that.)

But I’ve said it before: It is better that my children die than the government should get more involved in health care. The government is involved, and is largely responsible for the mess they’re now proposing to save us from. (“Savings” is another word commonly redefined in this discussion.) The solution never, ever involves more freedom.

There’s a concrete angle to this: My employers sent out a missive encouraging us all to vote for the massive tax propositions on the latest ballot. But I still voted against it, even though it might cost me my job. (Or I would’ve voted against it had I bothered to vote this time; my perfect voting record is somewhat sullied, I’m afraid.)

And this is where we get to the whole apocalypse tie-in: Though it’s more fun to pretend the world ends with a bang, it of course ends with a whimper. In practical terms, the whimper is the slow enslavement of a once free population. With each step, we’re supposed to quietly accede, precisely because good people will be hurt, our families will suffer and the good times we have enjoyed will come to an end. Or, maybe only the sorta-okay times will get less okay. (You can see that prominently in communist countries: Life sucks, but it sucks a little less for a few, and they’ll do any horrible thing imaginable to hold on to that slightly less sucky existence.)

There is a fate worse than death, and that’s slavery. We were founded (somewhat ironically) by men who refused to be slaves. Death was preferable to them. And yet we are nowhere near as free as they were under Britain’s rule. Maybe that’s why it always sort of feels like the End is Nigh.

And rather intriguingly, every post-apocalyptic scenario I can think of pits a few freedom-loving rebels against a dysfunctional society.

The left has come at us anew with Orwellian tactics of redefining words like “taxes” as “revenue” and “big, ugly programs that benefit only entrenched political power” as “investment”. What I suggest now is for freedom-loving folk to call political programs what they are: An attack on freedom.

If being against nationalized health care means you want people to die, it’s fair–and more accurate–to say that being for it means you’re against freedom. Financial bailouts? Anti-freedom. Auto bailouts? Anti-freedom.

Freedom by definition includes the freedom to fail. Just as freedom of speech includes the freedom to say stupid and offensive things, freedom of action includes the freedom to do stupid and offensive things.

I also took it up with Amba over healthcare: Yes, We The People have the freedom to die because we’ve made poor choices. We The People also have the freedom to set up charities to help people who’ve made bad choices (or who were just unlucky).

If the car companies have to fail, so be it: Clear the barriers to making new car companies, or maybe companies dedicated to a brand new paradigm of travel.

Freedom, in the form of liberalism, grew Western Civilization. Ossification, in the form of “liberalism”, will cause it to crumble.

Manic Monday Apocalypso: Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe!

My parents were of the Saturday matinee generation, where a nickel (or was it a dime?) would get you into the movies at the crack of dawn and entertain you till dusk. (And, oh, where to begin with the analysis of cultural shifts in that slice of Americana?)

My mom was a big fan of Buster Crabbe, though she surely must have seen the reruns of the serials since she was too young (or not born) for the originals. And when I was young, we had a UHF channel that would show a variety of old, old, really old or unpopular stuff like the late ‘50s black and white “Felix the Cat” cartoons (compared to the bigger stations’ WB and MGM ‘toons), the “Life of Riley” (versus “I Love Lucy”), silent movies (I watched Nosferatu and Metropolis this way) and serials like “Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe”.

I loved this show. Even as part of the Star Wars generation–or perhaps especially because–I loved the rockets on strings, with sparklers in the back, the cheesy composed shots with giant geckos sorta-kinda chasing tiny humans, the guys with the vampire fangs or gorilla suits.

I have this box set of the serial, though if you dig around at Archive.org, I’m sure you can find it. (And feel free to notice that the #1 staff pick is an anti-Bush film by MoveOn.Org. There’s no escaping this crap, is there.) I should say that I’m referring here to the original Flash Gordon serial, not really “Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe”.

In the original serial, the planet Mongo is flying through the universe and headed on a collision course with the earth, which it will apparently destroy at no significant harm to itself. Burning meteors are dropping from the sky (at alarmingly slow speeds) and this causes the plane that champion polo player and Yale man (really!) Flash is on with Dale Arden to, uh, be in danger somehow.

Fortunately, they all have parachutes except Flash who hangs on to Dale on the way down. (Pleasure to meet you, ma’am!)

They happen to land on the lawn of crazed scientist Zarkov who has built a spaceship that he’s going to use to land on the renegade planet and try to talk some sense into the driver.

At the helm of said planet is Fu Manchu’s twin brother, Ming the Merciless, who very practically decides to put Zarkov to work in his labs (and in a space-onesie!), give Dale the “fate worse than death” and kill Flash. (Can’t use you, man! Got enough dumb thugs in security as it is.) The princess, Aura, has other ideas and rescues the hunk of man from various fates worse than–no, that actually are death.

From there on, Flash meets the other colorful members of Ming’s empire. And, I don’t want to give anything away, but he does get out of a lot of tight spots.

I think what entertains me the most about the serial is probably the Art Deco influence. Just like the original “Star Trek”, where everything is all hippied out in post-modern (?) style, and the ’80s series features oodles of big hair and, well, very ’80s-looking design. I don’t know if it’s just the lapsed time between Art Deco and now, or if it’s that Art Deco is just that much cooler than all the intervening styles.

I mean, seriously, the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s styles have their moments, but there’s a lot of ugly in them, at least to my eyes. And my opnion hasn’t changed much over the decades. ’70s style, of course, was both uniquely ugly at the time and still ugly today. I am painting with broad strokes, of course, as there are always good things around, but to my eye the Art Deco style of the serial–the curved ships, the rays coming off Ming’s throne, etc.–give it a flair that outshines the cheapness of the sets. (And is completely missing from the ’50s version, to its detriment.)

I actually liked the 1980 remake, which was surprisingly faithful to the original. It’s campy, of course, but intermittently so. Sometimes it is genuine in its earnestness. It also captures the strangely small feeling of space in the series, and eschews realism for a more colorful, interesting “space”.

Of course, these days, most people remember Freddy Mercury’s song more than anything, and probably with good reason. Mercury could sell it.

Well, until next time, mutants, stay radiated!

Manic Monday Apocalypso on Friday!: Terminator Salvation

We were going to see the new Michael Keaton movie (he directs) called The Merry Gentleman, but it had cleared out to make room for the new Terminator movie, so we saw that instead.

I would save this review for Manic Monday Apocalypso but I figured some of you might consider seeing this this weekend.

I’d skipped the third movie in the Terminator series, feeling that it was really James Cameron that was the heart-and-soul of those flicks, that raised them above standard B-movie fare. (I’m dubious of Harlan Ellison’s claim on the property. Not that Cameron didn’t steal the ideas, only that the ideas are both fairly generic and not at all the point.)

A chilling factor for me is that this movie is directed by the infamous McG, who helmed the two Charlie’s Angels movies. There was much to dislike about those strangely uneven films but they at least weren’t boring. And that’s not a bad way to describe the new movie, though it’s not nearly as uneven as those earlier films. Unfocused might be a better term.

So, let’s talk about the good things. Fine acting, as you would expect from Christian Bale. In smaller roles are Jane Alexander (who could be her own MMA feature for her 1983 role in Testament), Helena Bonham Carter and the great Michael Ironside. The primary supporting roles are played by Sam Worthington and Moon Bloodgood, who I thought were fine, but seem a little callow in comparison. (Partly and maybe mostly, this is their characters, and by the end I think the actors have fleshed them out more than the writers did.) Anton Yelchin, fresh of his Checkov role in Star Trek manages to come off pretty dang tough, and evocative of Michael Biehn in the original movie. They even have a little girl in the Newt role.

Elfman does the music, and does a fine job, though there’s not enough of it. This may sound strange, but there’s not an over-reliance on CGI. The T-800–the classic Terminator–has been slightly redesigned. It was a skinny, skeletal thing in the original, stop-motion animated. But we’re sort of jaded to that now, I think, and the redesign has a more muscular build–like it’s a guy in a Terminator suit. This is a good choice.

Also, the CGI is really good. That helps a lot. It might not be a guy in a Terminator suit, but if not, it’s smooth. This helps the action feel a lot more credible, and to McG’s credit, there are some good old-fashioned fights and vehicle stunts, instead of the CGI spectaculars that get so numbing.

There are a lot of other really nice touches, too, which I won’t spoil by enumerating here.

This movie falls well short of greatness, though. First, we have the time-travel problem. The story requires John Connor (Bale) be the savior of the human resistance, but he mostly seems like a pain in the ass. In fact, I went through 2/3rds of the movie wondering what the hell he was doing that was even necessary, given the way the war was going. That was nicely resolved, though, and ultimately made sense. So I didn’t count that against it.

No, the real problem is with the characters of Marcus and Blair. We see Marcus put to death in the first scene of the movie (in 2009, presumably), and yet he’s walking around in 2018, and Connor and Reese (Yelchin) are secondary characters to him, and–to a degree–his relationship with Blair.

But because the story really should be about Connor and Reese fulfilling the prophecy of the first movie, we get a lot of cuts from Marcus to Connor or Reese, sometimes disrupting the flow of the action. Also evoking Star Trek, in the sense that the baggage the movie is required to carry is both its strength and its weakness.

This forces some awkward scenes, such as Connor having to decide what to do with Marcus. He actually makes up his mind and then yells, inexplicably, “Who are you?!” Bale does a good job, but the whole scene–a dramatic focal point–flops.

The next big dramatic moment, where Connor delivers a speech about how humans are different from machines, also flops out of sheer silliness and inappropriateness.

And without giving too much away, the story hinges on this bit of information which allows the main Skynet base–and silly me, I thought the Skynet base would be, you know, in the sky–to be attacked. Things don’t come off as expected (do they ever?), yet the Skynet base ends up seeming ridiculously easy to get in and out of.

And there’s the other thing, the big thing, which is that the view of the future doesn’t quite hold up. The original concept had humans as a ragtag underground resistance. This movie carries that idea forward, but at the same time, features humans with subs and jets–neither of which would really be sustainable in that context–and says there are areas the robots haven’t ventured. (And, queerly, at the same time, those areas are not where the humans are strongly based.)

To top this all off, there’s a strongly hierarchical command structure and traditional military at the begining of the movie, with a suddenly completely casual rebel feel at the end. And they communicate via radio. Like, regular radio.

But I suppose I’m just overthinking it. One of the nice thing about those old WWII movies, though, was that were enough people around who had been there, that movies had a certain verisimilitude I’d like to see more strongly applied to post-apocalyptic stuff. (As you know if you’ve read this blog for long.)

Anyway, The Boy liked it very much, though he was a bit taken aback by the PG-13ness of it. And it’s true, this is a much gentler movie than the first two. There were certain things that didn’t hold together for him, but it didn’t keep him from enjoying it.

So, once again, a good summer popcorn movie, like Star Trek, but rife with flaws, like Star Trek.

Manic Monday Apocalypso: If One Atom Bomb Can Ruin Your Whole Day, Two Would Probably Do You In For A Week

Today’s MMA recognizes Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a man who survived the blast at Hiroshima, then went home to Nagasaki just in time to catch then next A-bomb!

It’s interesting to me that a victim meme has sprung up in Japan about this. I guess it all fits in with anti-American sentiments–oh, we’re so horrible because we’re the only ones to have used an atomic bomb in war–but it doesn’t seem exactly Bushido to bitch about being slapped by the guy you picked a fight with.

But then, Japan wasn’t acting very “Bushido” during that time period, anyway. I’ve heard that they don’t really study WWII that way. That is they don’t study their attack on China, and the atrocities there, or their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. As if WWII “just happened”.

I don’t know if that’s true. But it is kind of weird that the whole giant rubber-suited monster genre of movie–Godzilla (Gojira)–begins with an atomic blast, just from a symbolic level. If you’ve never seen the original Godzilla, I recommend it, too: The obvious parallels to Hiroshima and Nagasaki are a little surreal. Just that mix: Now you’re watching footage that looks like a documentary of a true horror, now there’s that goofy looking rubber suit.

Japan had its Apocalypse back in 1945 (though its roots go way farther back, obviously) and emerged a peaceful powerhouse, something I think few would have predicted.

As always, a reminder that while civilization is fragile, dedicated work can bring it back stronger than ever.

Manic Monday Apocalypso: Cannibal Women In The Avocado Jungle Of Death

This little known camp gem is the story of a–well, I’m not exactly sure, really, that it’s post-apocalyptic. All I know is that somehow, the Avocado Jungle has sprung up between San Bernardino and the Arizona border, it’s the only source of the apparently vital avocado crop in the US, and a hyper-feminist group of cannibals known as the Piranha Women are refusing to let the precious fruit (vegetable?) be harvested.

This is a profoundly ridiculous movie, part Apocalypse Now, part Indiana Jones, and a kind of kissing cousin to the Richard Chamberlain/Sharon Stone camp spoof Alan Quartermain and The Lost City of Gold.

Adrienne Barbeau (hi, Troop!) is Dr. Kurtz, leader of the feminists, while Shannon Tweed heads a crew consisting of Karen Mistal Waldron and–I’m not making this up–Bill Maher. There’s some very good chemistry between Barbeau and Tweed, and Karen Waldron is surprisingly good as the dumb blonde. (I mean that seriously, she looks like a bimbo, but she has good comic timing.)

Obviously, this isn’t Citizen Kane, but I laughed like an idiot. (“Like” he says.)

Actually, Bill Maher is the weak link in this, which surprised me at the time I saw it because I was a big fan of his. But the reason the movie works to the extent it does is because everyone is playing it straight, like a ZAZ movie, and Maher can’t stop smirking. That aspect of it is painful to watch.

You definitely have to have a taste for this style of camp, which was really huge in the low-budget direct-to-video ‘80s, but if you do, it’s one of the better ones. (And if you are, you should also check out Nice Girls Don’t Explode from the same era.)