Hello readers, It’s Tanner. I’ve decided to try something new. This column Blindfold Imbibe, heretoafter marked as BI, will be devoted to lesser-known titles I watch where I know little going in. The most I will typically know are the title and a one-sentence synopsis. For this inaugural entry of a sporadic column, I will be talking about This Stuff’ll Kill Ya and The Gumball Rally.
I apologize if the reviews seem spotty. I watched them either one month or two months ago without originally intending to review them. As such, my memory might fail me on the less notable parts. Spoilers below the cut.
First up, we This Stuff’ll Kill Ya, directed by legendary horror director Herschell Gordon Lewis (HGL). Now, HGL is legendary for helping to usher in the widespread use of gore effects in the 1960’s as the old draconian Hays Code was losing its meaning and eventually replaced by the current MPAA. For his contributions, HGL has been referred to as “The Godfather of Gore”.
So I’ve decided to talk about a movie that wasn’t made to be centered around gore, according to people more seasoned in the man’s filmography.
This Stuff’ll Kill Ya was released in 1971 and tells the story of a con-artist priest named Roscoe (Jeffrey Allen) in the Deep South who runs a moonshine operation and has to deal with law enforcement trying to shut him down. Oh and someone’s killing off young females in his congregation for ultimately vaguely defined reasons.
This movie isn’t very good, but it has a certain charm to it. Like a typical HGL feature, the acting is mediocre at best and the plot points often laughably dumb. The first altercation with some recurring Feds. takes place when they show up at a dance or something at the church. The congregation, led by the reverend, basically crowd them into chairs and force-feed them mass quantities of moonshine (apparently killing the younger one) and take pictures of them with ’em holding jugs of the stuff, standing with the ladies of the congregation, as some form of blackmail. The opening has him featuring a young recently-engaged couple in his sermon and then instigating the men of the congregation to take turns having their way with her (against her will) “Because Corinthians done say..”
That’s the trademark of Reverend Foghorn Leghorn, by the way. At least a third of his lines feature the phrase “As [Bible Book] says…”. It gets insufferable pretty quickly. It doesn’t help that most of the characters in the movie speak in what was assumedly their natural dialect of Red-neck hick.
Given that it is what his name was made off of, I suppose I should address the gore/death scenes. The number of sequences is very limited, but for the most part it works. One young woman gets stoned to death, but it looks more like she’s getting hit with pebbles soaked in red paint. At the end, in a choppily-edited sequence, a man gets his head blown open with a shotgun, with his brains spilling out, that actually looks above decent. The aftermath of a dual-crucifixion is similarly nice looking.
All of this being said, I got some enjoyment out of the movie. I wouldn’t recommend watching it more than once but if you’re willing to give it a shot, you might have some fun laughing at it.
Now, onto The Gumball Rally from 1976. This movie features an ensemble cast and tells the story of an illegal race from New York City to Long Beach, California. All the while, an LAPD officer, coincidentally also named Roscoe (Normann Burton), is hopping across country alongside their journey, attempting to intercept and arrest individual racers for their flagrant violations of traffic laws. This is not the first time this race has been held nor is it the first time Roscoe has been on their tail
I loved the hell out of this movie. It was an immensely enjoyable thrill ride. I will provide a few highlights that hopefully illustrate the kind of movie you will be in for. Namely slightly over-the-top in a way that mixs awesome and knowingly silly
One of the many highlights was Franco, played by the inimitable Raul Julia. Franco is your typical hot-blooded Italian, who has a background in formal racing. There are two instances of him passionately and animatedly ranting at someone before pulling a gun on them, pulling the trigger only to reveal it’s merely a squirt gun.
He’s also quite the poon-hound. We are introduced to him in bed with a beautiful woman, who he proceeds to serenade with string quartet accompaniment as he’s leaving for the race. When he and his racing-partner Steve stop-off to re-fuel, Franco makes his partner resume the race without him so he could score some tail with a woman at the gas-station. Later on, Franco’s bed partner catches up with Steve and Franco re-joins the race.
The antics involving the cop characters are also enjoyable. For one vignette, Roscoe has secured the setting-up of a road-block about half-way through the route. A racing duo avoids this, having secured an allied eighteen-wheeler that drops its loading ramp which they ride up to the bed. When Roscoe stops the vehicle and orders the driver to raise that metal backing-thing, he is greeted with a false ending that gives the appearance of the bed being full of boxes.
As said, I really loved this movie and would definitely recommend it. I anticipate this movie will remain a favorite of mine for years to come.