Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Olive Films - THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS and JEKYLL & HYDE...TOGETHER AGAIN on Blu-ray ""

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Olive Films - THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS and JEKYLL & HYDE...TOGETHER AGAIN on Blu-ray

THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS (1959; Irvin Berwick)
As far as B-movies from the fifties go, this one seems a bit less known than others. This may be partially due to a lack of home video releases outside of VHS. The movie certainly seems to have something of a fanbase (probably from old TV airings over the years). In the wake of THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON and its success and its sequels, it is no surprise that some lower budget knockoffs would spring up. Instead of a jungle setting, PIEDRAS BLANCAS takes place at a small seaside village where some bizarre murders have been occurring. The victims are often found near the beach with their heads cut clean off. The towns people are baffled and scared and only the ornery lighthouse keeper seems to know anything. He's not talking though - just complaining about not getting his meat scraps while the local grocer whips the town into a frightened frenzy with his tales of the legend of the Monster of Piedras Blancas (who he blames for the killings). While it's a bit of a slow-mover, Monster movie fans will likely want to add this to their collections as the Blu-ray looks nice and certainly tops any video transfer or bootleg they had prior to this release. Though we don't see him until late in the picture, the monster himself is pretty memorable and worth waiting for. The mere fact that the monster decapitates his victims and carries their heads around also makes this one a but more freaky than most of its contemporaries. If you enjoy this type of movie, this one will likely be a solid fix for you on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
And now to provide a much more useful commentary, I've attached Joe Dante's Trailer's From Hell Commentary below:

You can buy PIEDRAS BLANCAS on Blu-ray here:

JEKYLL & HYDE...TOGETHER AGAIN (1982; Jerry Belson)
Of all the movie monsters of cinema, Mr. Hyde gets the least amount of love from the masses. Everyone remembers FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA, THE WOLFMAN, THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, THE INVISIBLE MAN and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (granted, these are all Universal horror icons at this point), but the Jekyll & Hyde characters - though they've been made many times into films - don't get too much credit. Perhaps it is because they have been done so much and there is less of a definitive version of them that one can point to? Not sure, but regardless, I've always found it a wonderful metaphor on the duality of man. The push and pull of the need to be civilized and the want to be unabashedly animalistic and crazy. This movie isn't really interested in any of that though as it's pretty much a head-on goofy spoof. It has one of the more "Huh?" inducing opening credits sequences that I've seen in a while. It's very short and basicallay consists of white cursive credits of the producer's names that are connected by a long white line to the title of the film. When we get to title, the screen angles slightly and it becomes apparent that the credits are in fact lines of cocaine which are promptly snorted up by a big nose just to the left of the frame. Then the movie cuts its first scene (in a hospital) as the credits continue. Right away, it's made clear that we are in a heightened and very silly universe where characters look preposterous and do dippy and broadly comedic things at the drop of a hat. As we watch Dr. Jekyll performing a delicate surgery, a woman comments about how he has the steadiest hands of any man she's ever seen. Cut to: Jeykyll pulls down his mask and we see he has like half a dozen bits of toilet paper on his face from all the cuts while shaving. That kind of visual gag as well as folks just doing odd voices run rampant in the film. It reminds me of stuff like STUDENT BODIES and PANDEMONIUM (both of which came out around the same time) - where it's the kind of thing that amuses you a whole lot more as a child than it might as you get older. As much as I end up comparing everything like this to AIRPLANE! (and they all inevitably fall flat), I still don't mind the occasional brainless comedy - especially from the early 1980s. JEKYLL AND HYDE ...TOGETHER AGAIN plays things both seriously and not seriously in a way thats reminiscent of the Zucker output of the period, but not as good. That said, the style of dumb comedies back then is not like the SCARY MOVIE and it's lesser spinoffs we see most often today. There's something about them that makes me oddly nostalgic. Maybe it's the fact that you can feel a bit more of the silent comedy influence on some of their gags and slapstick? I can't say for sure, but this one amused me nonetheless and if you like 80s spoofy ludicrousness, you may enjoy it too. 

You can buy JEKYLL AND HYDE on Blu-ray here:

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