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 WOOLEY's Pre-Horrorthon Movie Extravaganza! 
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Yup, went there.
This movie was on HBO a bunch when I was young, but to be honest, I assumed it was gonna be just awful when I revisited it. It is actually apparently out of print and on no streaming services, almost certainly for obvious reasons.
The movie stars George Hamilton as the titular swashbuckler and his brother... Bunny. But I get ahead of myself.
Don Diego de la Vega is summoned home from Spain to his birthplace of Los Angeles in the 1840s. Upon arrival he learns that his father has died and he has inherited the ancestral lands and home... as well as the family legacy and his destiny. His father was the famous Zorro and his dying wish was that he - or his long-lost brother - take up the mantle of El Zorro and fight for the rights of the pipples. Unfortunately, his childhood friend is now the evil Alcalde whose tyranny knows no bounds and so begins his path into legend - until he is injured showboating and is unable to buckle any swash. While he recovers, the people suffer mightily under the Alcalde, who knows no mercy and has become obsessed with finding Zorro.
Things seem hopeless until one day he receives a surprise visitor: his long-lost twin Ramon. Well, er, Bunny. Bunny Wigglesworth. You see, Ramon actually ran off and joined the British Navy and, while ascending to become an officer, also learned something about himself... Diego urges him that the mantle of Zorro was his legacy as well and he must take up the cape and mask and defend the pipples in Diego's absence. Bunny reluctantly agrees, but under the stipulation that if he is to be Zorro, Zorro is going to need a bit more panache. And so is born Zorro, The Gay Blade.

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"Gay blade" is a term dating back to the 1600s when it meant a skilled swordsman. It later came to refer to a dashing young gentleman, later as more of a dandy, and finally as a more flamboyant homosexual. It is used in the title and in the film for literally ALL of these reasons, a clever idea that plays out, which his why Hamilton pressured the studio to keep the title.

So now, to answer the question... how was it?
Honestly, it was pretty damn fun. It's a surprisingly good little movie. And by that I mean that it is a small film without a huge budget, but it doesn't require one and is just a helluva lot better than I expected.
For the most part it rides on Hamilton's shoulders and I was left wondering, "Was George Hamilton always this good and if so, why didn't he get more serious work?" (Of course, it turns out he was nominated for a Golden Globe 3 times and at least one BAFTA). Here he plays Diego, a dashing, skilled, yet not-always-the-sharpest, upper-class Spaniard and, obviously, Zorro, the suave swashbuckling hero of the people. He also plays Bunny Wigglesworth, a somewhat flamboyantly (I live in New Orleans so he wasn't that flamboyant to me) homosexual British Naval Officer, who is the smartest person in the movie and quite the swashbuckler himself. But Hamilton also plays Bunny PLAYING ZORRO. For which he does not merely go back to Diego but plays a new version that is trying to mimic Diego but is always just having too much fun to help himself. Bunny also goes in disguise as a woman to a masquerade ball. So you have Hamilton as Diego and Zorro and Bunny and Bunny-playing-Zorro, as well as Bunny playing a ridiculous woman to boot. There is a great scene where Bunny is trying out being Zorro in front of a mirror and has only half of his face/hair made up to look like Diego and the other like himself and he actually does a back and forth dialogue between himself as a female peasant calling for help and Zorro coming to the rescue. It's really surprising.
Yet I guess it shouldn't be since, if I had done my homework I would have known that George Hamilton was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor for this performance.
He is not the only standout, though. Ron Leibman was, I thought, hilarious as the tyrannical, obsessive Alcalde and Brenda Vaccaro gets her laughs in as well. (Lauren Hutton, sadly, is given very little to do as she quickly goes from Champion of the People, to Lovestruck Fool.)
But all of the performances work because the script is surprisingly sharp. The dialogue really kinda whips (sorry) and while it's really, really silly at times, it almost comes off like a decent Mel Brooks movie, which I would say really was the inspiration for this. You can kinda feel the lineage between Blazing Saddles and this film, not to compare the two in greatness in any way, but there's a shared spirit, especially between how Blazing Saddles features an African-American character who is really the sharpest person in the movie and ultimately the hero, despite facing the usual racist barbs and setbacks and how Zorro: TGB features an openly-flamboyantly-gay character who is really the sharpest person in the movie and ultimately the hero, although there are a lot fewer jokes at his expense compared to BS, beyond a little mocking of his mannerisms. It's especially strong that upon his introduction, when Diego has not seen him for years, he is completely unfazed by Bunny's sexuality and flair and just embraces him as his long-lost brother and sets about scheming with him. In fact, to my amusement, the first time anyone refers to his behavior despairingly, that guy gets punched in the face. Whether they pulled off the same fine line that Saddles did with a sensitive subject, I don't know, but it seemed to me like they tried and it worked more often than not. The script's jokes about Diego's absurdly thick accent may not play so well today however. I don't know if jokes about a Spaniard having a really thick accent are inherently racist (I work with a guy I still can't understand after knowing him for 15 years and even HE jokes about it), but I did read one modern Latin American review that didn't take all that kindly to it. I suspect it doesn't play as well when the actor is not Spanish.

In conclusion, and damn I write way too much in these... write-ups, I will say that Zorro: The Gay Blade is a fun little parody with a fairly witty script, an impressive central performance, some good supporting characters, and a surprising complexity with regard to how people are portrayed on-screen.

"Remember, my people: there is no shame in being poor, only in dressing poorly!"


Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:31 pm
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Wooley wrote:
Zorro: The Gay Blade

Dang, I haven't thought about that one in forever. My mom was a fan if I recall. You're really diggin' deep, I like it.

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Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:06 pm
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Captain Terror wrote:
I think the Bava comments weren't any deeper than "it's foggy", but I've watched movies based on less, let's be honest. :)

Some of the early scenes are halfway atmospheric in a certain way people associate with some Bava movies (the fog helps), but it doesn't go much further than that.

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Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:58 pm
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Captain Terror wrote:
Dang, I haven't thought about that one in forever. My mom was a fan if I recall. You're really diggin' deep, I like it.

Yeah, the month has started to take a weird turn into early-80s deep-nostalgia, I gotta try to get it back on course. Which I shall.


Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:38 pm
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Rumpled wrote:
I need to see Class of 84 again (i actually was class of 84 as well) ;)


It's well worth it just for the bravura finale alone. :up:

So, the Nun wasn't utter nunsense?


Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:45 am
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Apex Predator wrote:

It's well worth it just for the bravura finale alone. :up:

So, the Nun wasn't utter nunsense?

I don't know man, I feel like that long-ass review I wrote basically said it was utter nonsense. Not without some pleasures, but not enough for the utter nonsense.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:22 pm
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Predominantly, but not entirely, utter nonsense.

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Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:24 pm
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Wooley? It pains me to inform you that Ganja & Hess is no longer available on Prime. I don't know exactly how they do these things, but I've noticed that some titles are far more limited than others, probably for promotional purposes. G&H was available for barely two weeks or so. Meanwhile I've had other titles on my watchlist for well over a year, patiently waiting for my sweet time.

But they've also recently added one of the Paul Naschy "Hombre Lobo" werewolf films, Fury of the Wolf Man. So if you haven't seen any or many Naschy Lobo films, then, well, good luck with that.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:35 pm
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Jinnistan wrote:
Paul Naschy


Even I don't understand the appeal of this guy.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:37 pm
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crumbsroom wrote:

Even I don't understand the appeal of this guy.

I kinda do. 1) He looks like a sober John Belushi; 2) Werewolves are cool and their fans are desperate; 3) Voluptuous actresses; 4) Utterly bizarre editing schemes.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:40 pm
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If I wanted to get in on these utterly bizarre editing schemes (or points 1-3), what would be a good place to start?

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Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:44 pm
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Jinnistan wrote:
I kinda do. 1) He looks like a sober John Belushi; 2) Werewolves are cool and their fans are desperate; 3) Voluptuous actresses; 4) Utterly bizarre editing schemes.


1) A sober John Belushi sounds like a terrible thing.

2) Fair point

3) I guess.

4) Don't make me watch more of these.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:52 pm
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Rock wrote:
If I wanted to get in on these utterly bizarre editing schemes (or points 1-3), what would be a good place to start?

Probably either the first one, Mark of the Wolfman, or Curse of the Beast, or The Werewolf vs. The Vampire Woman (with Barbara Steele). They tend to all have four or five different names each, so be careful. For example, Curse of the Demon is one of the very worst, not to be confused with Beast.

crumbsroom wrote:
1) A sober John Belushi sounds like a terrible thing.

Correction: a terrifying thing.

crumbsroom wrote:
4) Don't make me watch more of these.

I thought that vaguely psychotic amateurism was right in your wheelhouse. Anyway, the films are not so different as to require seeing more than a handful. You should know when you've seen enough.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 2:21 pm
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Jinnistan wrote:
Wooley? It pains me to inform you that Ganja & Hess is no longer available on Prime. I don't know exactly how they do these things, but I've noticed that some titles are far more limited than others, probably for promotional purposes. G&H was available for barely two weeks or so. Meanwhile I've had other titles on my watchlist for well over a year, patiently waiting for my sweet time.

But they've also recently added one of the Paul Naschy "Hombre Lobo" werewolf films, Fury of the Wolf Man. So if you haven't seen any or many Naschy Lobo films, then, well, good luck with that.

Well, I actually have a LOT of streaming services so I may still be able to find it.
And I will definitely get on the Paul Naschy stuff, I have let them remain a mystery far too long.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:54 pm
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Jinnistan wrote:
I kinda do. 1) He looks like a sober John Belushi; 2) Werewolves are cool and their fans are desperate; 3) Voluptuous actresses; 4) Utterly bizarre editing schemes.

Sold.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:54 pm
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Jinnistan wrote:
The Werewolf vs. The Vampire Woman (with Barbara Steele).

Sold and sold!!!


Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:56 pm
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Wooley wrote:
Well, I actually have a LOT of streaming services so I may still be able to find it.

Yes, I see now that it's on Shudder.


Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:51 am
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So I watched another movie and I said, Oh man, you gotta start writing down what you watched since sometimes you're coming back to write about them days later, and I thought, nah it's not like you're gonna forget you watched a movie.
So I forgot the last movie I watched. Cannot for the life of me remember what it was. Pretty sure I watched it from Prime, but that doesn't seem to let you track what you watched unless you had to pay for it.
So I have no content at the moment. I'm hoping it'll come back to me and hopefully tomorrow night and certainly Monday, I can get some more movies in.


Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:58 pm
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Wooley wrote:
So I watched another movie and I said, Oh man, you gotta start writing down what you watched since sometimes you're coming back to write about them days later, and I thought, nah it's not like you're gonna forget you watched a movie.


Did you watch it on a streaming service? Should be in your history if so.


Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:27 pm
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Takoma1 wrote:

Did you watch it on a streaming service? Should be in your history if so.

I looked, I can't find any history in Amazon Prime (which is what I think I used) or iTunes. But I may have actually watched it on YouTube, but I definitely don't see it in my history there.
I actually started to watch Survivors and I thought, "This'll be fun but you're too far afield and undermining the purpose of this exercise. This is supposed to be a wind-up to October, not a nostalgia for forgotten 80s movies." So I turned it off and watched something more thrillery, I think. But I cannot remember what it was. And I was sober. Weird.


Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:44 pm
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Wooley wrote:
I looked, I can't find any history in Amazon Prime (which is what I think I used) or iTunes. But I may have actually watched it on YouTube, but I definitely don't see it in my history there.


I don't remember about Prime, but for some weird reason, Hulu's watch history is only accesible via mobile device (cell phone, tablet). Don't remember if Prime is like that also, but a quick Google search should help you find it.

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Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:06 am
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Jinnistan wrote:


I thought that vaguely psychotic amateurism was right in your wheelhouse.

That's a pretty fair description of what whets my appetite, but I never found that with the handful of Naschy's I watched. I thought they were dull in the way the worst Jess Franco movies are (a la Orloff Vs. The Invisible Dead). It's possible I watched the wrong ones. I don't even remember what they were, to be honest. Probably some wolfman shit. But they didn't leave me with any great sense that I should be investigating any further.


Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:55 am
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I watched my first Naschy film last year, The Hunchback of the Morgue. It was terrible, but definitely a memorable experience. Here's a couple of tidbits from the IMDB trivia page:

Permission was given to use a real corpse for the head-severing scene. However, Paul Naschy took two swigs of whiskey because he couldn't get past the first cut into the throat. A dummy head was used thereafter.

In the most talked-about scene, Paul Naschy was set upon by real rats. He had to be inoculated against possible rabies. It was also María Elena Arpón, and not a mannequin, lying on a slab with the rodents nestling and nibbling all over her. Some of the rats were burned alive on camera.

I'll let you decide if this is a recommendation or not.

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Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:06 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
Some of the rats were burned alive on camera.


Hard pass.


Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:16 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
Some of the rats were burned alive on camera.[/i]


I've seen my share of films with such scenes in them, and my reaction is always the same: Never again. It never sticks, but it is always my reaction. Any examples of true life cruelty never fails to enrage me, and keeps me from ever revisiting the work, even if I love the film (there are some exceptions for this, like Andrei Rublev, or Rules of the Game, but that's usually because I usually forget about the scene until it happens). I'm equally adverse to the poor treatment of actors on camera. It's why I'll never go near Deep Throat, why I question if I'll ever watch Last Tango again (one of my favourite movies of all time) and why pigshit like Forced Entry is to this day only one of two films I regret having allowed myself to come in contact with (and forever ended my pursuit of more and more socially unacceptable films). I generally will give a pass to scenes of slaughterhouses, because as a person who does eat meat, it would be grossly hypocritical of me to turn my nose up at what I am contributing to, but it still makes me painfully uncomfortable. As hardened as I am to fictionalized acts of vile behavior, I'm pathologically sensitive to actual cruelty. An episode on 60 minutes about a mother lion having to abandon her cub kept me bedridden for days. I can barely even bring myself to watch a Maury Povich paternity test without burying my head in the covers until the universe disappears. So that particular film won't be happening in my near future.


Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:31 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
As hardened as I am to fictionalized acts of vile behavior, I'm pathologically sensitive to actual cruelty.

Same here. In this example, the screen is full of rats scurrying around and some of them are clearly on fire but it happens so fast that it's enough to put some doubt in your mind. I had to go to IMDB to confirm it. So it's not quite as traumatizing as a prolonged closeup of a burning rat or anything, but its still disturbing enough when you learn the facts.
I always wonder about the mentality that leads a director to believe that this shitty movie is worth actually killing animals for. Not that a "better" movie gets to do it either, but this one? THIS one? Hunchback of the Freakin' Morgue was worth it?

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Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:55 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
I watched my first Naschy film last year, The Hunchback of the Morgue. It was terrible, but definitely a memorable experience. Here's a couple of tidbits from the IMDB trivia page:

In the most talked-about scene, Paul Naschy was set upon by real rats. He had to be inoculated against possible rabies. It was also María Elena Arpón, and not a mannequin, lying on a slab with the rodents nestling and nibbling all over her. Some of the rats were burned alive on camera.

I'll let you decide if this is a recommendation or not.

Nope.


Mon Sep 17, 2018 5:50 am
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Takoma1 wrote:

Hard pass.


There's nothing particularly hard about that pass at all. Now I'm not as protective of animals as Takoma or Z would have been, but having been adopted by cats for most of my life, I just don't see the point of it. Who gets that on camera and decides that it's entertainment?

If I do decide to see a Naschy, I'll have to make sure something like that doesn't occur in the film.


Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:27 am
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