Thursday, January 5, 2012

Village of the Giants

Ohhh... where to begin with this one. The recently concluded extended vacation of Turner Classic Movies' Robert Osborne was traumatic for many of us. I can't help think that it was TCM's month-long "Drive-In Cinema" program that sent him 'round the bend. A man who's had dinner with Bette Davis more times than he can recall, called upon to introduce films like Village of the Giants.

So, roll call! Leading our cast, Beau Bridges, brother of Jeff son of Lloyd. Tisha Sterling, better-known as Ann Sothern's daughter and the Edie Sedgwick knockoff in Clint Eastwood's Coogan's Bluff (I was told by a friend who seems to know everything that "she taught Cloris Leachman everything she knew about shooting up," but i can find no documentation for that, although it is a great thing to have on your resume...) Toni Basil, choreographer to stars like David Bowie and Bette Midler as well as singer of 80's one-hit "Mickey." Throw in former Disney child star Tommy Kirk and, oh, did I mention Ron Howard, Lil' Opie Cunningham himself?

It is said Opie Cunningham who sets this sci-fi beach party gigantism epic in motion. As "Genius," he invents a substance called "goo," that causes creatures to become very, very large. The goo grows two ducks to giant size, where they waddle into the local disco and begin dancing with the kids. Only the guitarist for the Beau Brummels seems to react to the human-sized ducks with appropriate chagrin, if not the even more appropriate fit of shreiking hysterics. A pack of passing juvenile delinquents -- led by that master of menace, Bridges -- see the ducks and plot to steal the goo and sell it for big bucks. There's also an unrelated attack by a big fake spider.

But then after the world's least menacing gang fight (Disney teen idol, Reagan-era one-hit wonder and Opie Cunningham vs. the world's least-imposing Bridges and two go-go dancers), the bad kids steal the goo from the good kids, ingest said goo, become huge and proceed to "take over the town," as is said. The giant teens terrorize the populace by ordering lots of tapas and every now and then gyrating in slow-motion to a repetitive, bass-heavy groove. During which Tisha Sterling stuffs one of the tiny little villagers into her cleavage, offering seemingly endless closeups of an underpaid actor clinging to a giant pair of fake plastic boobs. And not like they usuallly do in Hollywood: I'm talking really big plastic tits. However, no one uses the annoying little pompadoured guy for a butt plug. Also, the weird thing about Opie Cunningham's dope is that it makes people 15 feet tall, then 50 feet tall, then 25 feet tall....

They also have Toni Basil do the epileptic watusi for them in a Bozo the Clown wig and sequined pantsuit. The villagers try to stop the giants with the help of some boss Ed  Roth hot rods, but fail. Finally, Tommy Kirk in dolphin shorts and loafers faces off against giant Beau Bridges in his brocade toga (As Mr. Diva asks: "How is it that Bridges is 20 feet tall and still has no basket?"' Answer: Because he's Bridges.) Disney may have dumped Kirk for being gay, but the fact that the man could seem like a square even next to Beau Bridges might have had something to do with the lack of heavy interest elsewhere. Finally, Opie Cunningham rolls through with his little bicycle full of antidote and saves the day. I have no idea whether it was bad taste or some kind of female giganticism fetish that blinded them, but someone on that set had to know just how ludicrous Village of the Giants is...

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