Schlock (1973)

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Schlock (1973)

Post  BoG on Thu Jun 11, 2015 6:41 pm


The first feature directed by John Landis (his next was Kentucky Fried Movie in '77, followed by Animal House and The Blues Brothers), a very low budget ($60 grand) satire on cavemen or apemen out of their time; a slightly earlier film with nearly the same premise was Trog (1970). This begins in a decidedly non-comic fashion, showing us a bunch of bodies, including kids, at a rest stop; we're told by a stuffy newscaster that there has been a massacre of a bowling society on their annual picnic. However, there's no blood and it's mentioned in a tongue-in-cheek manner that leftover banana peels are the only clue in these continuing murders (789 and counting!). So, you get the tone by this early point. Landis also, supposedly, put on the ape suit created by Rick Baker to play the starring character - The Schlockthropus, this film's version of a missing link.
At the start of the film, I got the impression that Landis was emulating Woody Allen films, though there are sight gags recalling Laurel & Hardy or Abbott & Costello, and this is more crude and amateurish, especially the acting. There are specific scenes and mentions (Dr. Heywood Floyd)  parodying 2001:A Space Odyssey (68) and King Kong. Some of the humor revolves around people not noticing the apeman even though he's prowling around right in front of them, suggesting - I guess - the self-involved L.A. culture. Most of the plot just has him wandering from place to place, beating people up (technically, he kills them - he's very strong - but the scenes always end before it looks like murder). Then there's the old trope - meeting a young blind woman who thinks he's a dog; she regains her sight a bit later and doesn't like what she sees. Due to the budget, the police force is represented by one moronic detective and 2 or 3 uniformed cops, no more.
But, in the end, the army or National Guard show up - all one dozen of them - and it ends on the standard cliched note of most monster pictures. In all, this shows that goofy, immature humor done by a mediocre talent can get one to places in Hollywood. Landis returned to hairy creatures for An American Werewolf in London (1981).  BoG's Score: 4 out of 10
Whacky free-for-all comedies are a special type of movie. Some just work for us. Some just don't. Forbidden Zone is one that didn't work for me. Schlock is one that did. Virtually the only scene in Schlock that I didn't get was the pie-eating episode with the twins. Otherwise, I was fully entertained. If you're on my wavelength, please see it, and see also Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Note that unlike Tomatoes' humor which arises mostly from role reversals, Schlock's humor arises mostly from hyperbole: the overdone whistling, screaming, shooting...

Goldweber, David Elroy (2012-06-14). Claws & Saucers: Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Film: A Complete Guide: 1902-1982 (Kindle Locations 61962-61978). David E. Goldweber. Kindle Edition.
Schlock Trivia: in a theater showing sf movies, we see scenes from Dinosaurus! (1960) and The Blob (58), though it's done in such a way that it appears to be one film; cameo by Forrest J Ackerman as a theater patron seated next to the Schlockthropus
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