FEBRUARY 9, 2010
You can’t go wrong with Cameron Mitchell... is a phrase that no sane person would ever think to utter. He managed to find his way into some pretty good movies every now and then (Haunts), and anyone involved with Raw Force is set for life in my book, but the bulk of his movies are more like Nightmare In Wax, which is “groovy” 1969 ripoff of House Of Wax/Mystery Of The Wax Museum, albeit without the actual wax people.
See, the victims are once again propped up in a wax museum, but the twist here is that they aren’t regular folks made up to look like famous people, but rather the actual famous people (everyone in the movie is a Hollywood type. And they’re not wax, or even dead - they’re victims of this serum that leaves them unable to move, or under Mitchell’s control, or something. The horrid audio on Mill Creek’s release (which, once again, is surprisingly given an anamorphic transfer) made several lines of dialogue hard to make out, and this is a very talky movie.
Either way, that’s not even the biggest problem with the movie. The “investigation” is. Apparently, the dumbest motherfuckers in the world were assigned to solve the case of the missing actors, and it takes them the entire movie to figure out that maybe, just maybe, the weird, one-eyed and burnt guy who acts like Cameron Mitchell, and has “wax” figures of all of the missing people on display in his weird museum, might have something to do with it. Devoting a hefty amount of the movie’s running time to two guys trying to “solve” a mystery that doesn’t even exist is not the most economical use of film stock. It would be like watching a couple of private investigators trying to figure out who cooked Michael Douglas’ bunny in Fatal Attraction.
But it’s not a total loss. Mitchell is hamming it up as always, and unlike those other movies I mentioned, he’s front and center for the bulk of it, which is a good thing. There’s also a guy who simultaneously reminded me of Anthony Perkins, Harry Dean Stanton, and Elisha Cook Jr, so there’s something. And there are even a few sort of creepy moments, like when one of his robot/faux wax people begins saying what sounds like “Hello, Maurice.” over and over. I also loved the chase scene in which Mitchell terrifies this girl for like 5 straight minutes, and when he finally catches up to her, he kisses her passionately, which she is charmed by. Ladies, if a disfigured guy chased you around a creepy wax museum for a while, and then shoves his tongue down your throat, would you be turned on by it? Even if it was Cameron Mitchell? Note - he then stabs her.
I was also curiously reminded on several occasions of certain films from the Sci-Fi Channel era of MST3k: The Projected Man, The Girl With Gold Boots, and The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (mostly for the dance numbers in the latter two cases). In fact, I’m surprised that the film never made it on the show - it’s the perfect fodder for them - obscure, public domain, and with some inherent entertainment value (some episodes are nigh on unwatchable due to the films in question being so dull and lifeless - see Season 10’s episode of the German Hamlet for an example). And since they always trimmed their movies down to 80 minutes, it might have actually IMPROVED the film, because at 96 minutes it is far too long. Bring the show back, BBI!
One final note - this comes from the same team who gave us last week’s Blood Of Dracula’s Castle, which I was quite amused by, thus possibly making me more excited for this movie than I had any right to be. But regardless - if you are a connoisseur of their work, please let me know which others I might enjoy, using this and Dracula’s Castle as a guide.
What say you?