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The Death of the Incredible Hulk

Director: Jim Sharman

USA - 1975

    Hoff! Hoff! Hoff!     

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I’ve been in Germany now for about six weeks. Coming here in the capacity of a student, it is logical to deduce that I am, in fact, studying German. It is also logical to deduce that since I am in Germany, have limited access to a (good) computer, and am constantly immersed in homework (this German crap is tough, I tellya), updates to the site will probably be few and far between. So what’s my excuse for the irregular updates before I came to Germany? Oh bite me already! Sheesh!

The Death of the Incredible HulkAnyway, as I was saying, I’ve been in Germany for about six weeks. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s also been a lot fun. Unfortunately, trips to the video store are a rarity. Occasionally I can sate my bad movie appetite with some of the late-night crap shown sporadically on basic cable, but I really have no choice in the matter as to what I see. So far my bad movie diet has consisted of Surviving the Game (Ice T!), Three Fugitives (Martin Short!), and a repeat of Surviving the Game (Ice T - again!).

One bad movie highlight since my arrival to the Land of Schnitzel has been a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I know, everybody and their brother have seen Rocky Horror. But how many can say that they’ve seen it in Munich (outside of those living in Germany, smart-ass)?

I’ve always been a big fan of the film. Rocky might be beyond stupid, but it’s not without a certain naïve charm. OK, “charming” might be pushing it, but the movie could’ve been a lot worse. Like, for instance…it could’ve been longer. In all honesty, my fondness for Rocky Horror probably stems from the many fond memories I have from seeing it with friends. Friends that “Time Warp” together, stay together. Naturally, it goes without saying that the only way to truly experience Rocky Horror is at the theater.

The Death of the Incredible HulkMy Gastvater and I went to a little theater located in the heart of quaint downtown Munich. It was a Mom and Pop joint; a sad rarity in the States nowadays. I have less of a problem spending exorbitant amounts of cash in Mom and Pop joints than I do wasting it in some generic Megaplex. And to be honest, the prices for both admission and snacks were quite reasonable. And you have your choice of either sweet or salty popcorn. What will they think of next?

The auditorium showing Rocky was pretty cool in and of itself; a convincing replica of the theater used during the film’s finale. Mini-statues of David (no, not that David) adorned the walls; lipstick smeared across their mouths. Two gargoyles, with green glowing eyes, guarded the screen in the front. The curtain was old-timey red with gold trim; like something you’d see at the opera, perhaps. The screen itself was a bit dainty for my taste, but as frequent readers can attest, I always have to find something to whine about.

The print they showed was remarkably well preserved. A few unavoidable scratches (cut ‘em some slack, the movie was released a long time ago), but nothing like the ones I’ve seen in the States. I remember quite a few instances where I had thought, perhaps, someone had taken the liberty of relieving his or herself on the feature.

But to me, the quality of the actual print isn’t of the utmost importance. It’s the film itself.

Well, that sucks too.

But for those unfamiliar with Rock basics, here’s a brief plot summary:

The Death of the Incredible HulkBrad and Janet (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon, respectively) are a young couple on the verge of getting married. One night, in the midst of a nasty storm, they blow a tire and are forced to seek help at a nearby castle. Once inside, our young heroes are held at the mercy of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a mad transvestite scientist (seen one, you’ve seen them all) who has created the ultimate sex slave, Rocky (Peter Hinwood).

Frank has three servants: Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien), Magenta (Patricia Quinn), and Columbia (Little Nell Campbell). Riff Raff and Magenta are incestuous siblings who look to overthrow Frank and return to the planet Transsexual (oh yeah, did I mention they’re aliens?). Columbia, on the other hand, only wants to be loved. She once had a thing for Frank, but her current flame is Eddie (Meatloaf), a juvenile delinquent who was forced to donate half his brain to Frank’s creation. Last and definitely least, you have Dr. Everett Scott, friend to Brad and Janet, and rival scientist to Frank-N-Furter.

Frank fools around with Rocky, Brad and Janet. Columbia fools around with Eddie. Riff Raff and Magenta fool around with each other. Eddie ticks off Frank, Frank kills Eddie, and the rest of the cast (albeit unwittingly) eats the corpse. Janet, upset by the fact that Brad had fooled around with Frank, fools around with Rocky (despite having fooled around with Frank herself). Frank finds out, gets a bit ticked, and forces everyone to dress in drag and dance (poorly). Riff Raff and Magenta, sick of Frank’s shenanigans, kill their one-time leader (as well as Columbia in the process) and set the others free. The castle, as it turns out, seconds as a spaceship, and Riff Raff and Magenta blast off back to Planet Transylvania while the earthlings writhe about on the ground and occasionally sing (depending on the version of the film you see). The Narrator then makes a few inane closing comments. The end.

The Death of the Incredible HulkBasically, that’s about it. Don’t ask for an explanation, because I don’t get it either. There are only two saving graces to The Rocky Horror Picture Show: great songs and an inspired performance by-then fledgling actor Tim Curry. Said performance is, perhaps, magnified by the moronic film encompassing it, but nevertheless, Tim Curry is excellent as Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Few actors can slip seamlessly into roles, but it’s as if this particular role was tailored specifically for Tim Curry. Considering the character, I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not.

As a matter of fact, hardly any of the actors in RHPS give a really lousy performance. Dr. Scott and Rocky are fairly forgettable (given the fact that Rocky’s lines consist solely of grunts and groans I guess we can cut Peter Hinwood a little slack), but the rest of the cast appears to be inspired. Inspired by what, your guess is as good as mine, but inspired nonetheless.

The Death of the Incredible HulkBut, alas, people don’t go to RHPS for its story or its performances. People go to make fun of the movie while simultaneously making asses of themselves. Personally, I don’t find this concept very difficult to fathom. I make fun of almost every movie I see. And making an ass of myself is a given. The difference here is, RHPS is tailored for such endeavors. I mean, I don’t think Richard O’Brien had the intention of writing (and starring) in a film that will be mocked (albeit beloved) for over 25 years, but I’ll be damned if RHPS doesn’t come off that way. From surreal dance sequences to inane dialogue, Rocky practically begs to be ridiculed.

The first time I saw Rocky was around 1992. I’ve seen it a zillion times since. The film is a mainstay in my movie library. When I heard that they were playing Rocky in Munich, I was fairly excited. I had been in Germany for about three weeks and was ready for a little slice of home. Given the fact that said slice was a bad movie (as stated above, my bad movie diet here is relatively slim), that made the prospect just that much more enticing. Plus, I was curious to see what type of audience RHPS attracts abroad. Is there such animal as a German Goth?

The Death of the Incredible HulkAnyway, we get to the theater, grab some snacks, and find some seats. Surprisingly, not too many people show up for the picture. I’d estimate about a dozen. When the film actually began, lo and behold, it was in English! I expected German dialogue (or subtitles, at least) and English songs. But no, all English and no subtitles whatsoever. My second surprise came in the form of silence. A few lighters. A little popcorn and rice. But everyone basically behaved themselves. Where’s the fun in that? Only one guy spoke throughout the course of the movie. He sat toward the front, and had an accent reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenneger* (cliché, I know, but true). And heck, he only spouted off two lines! They were as follows:

Lips: “…and Flash Gordon was there, in silver underwear, Claude Raines was the Invisible Man…”

German Guy: “I saw him.”

And later…

Narrator: “I would like, if I may…”

German Guy: “You may not.”

The Death of the Incredible HulkNow, say those lines again in the thickest German accent you can muster. It’s fun!

Sadly, these lines came merely ten minutes apart, and the rest of the film was unnervingly silent. I know a few RHPS jokes, but I was never really big into hollering at the screen. I usually sat back and listened to others make quips. For most of the film, I kept quiet here as well. I didn’t want to be the American idiot who couldn’t keep his cakehole shut. I could not, however, resist the slut-eating basin scene, nor the scene with Frank floating in the swimming pool on a Titanic life-ring (“The ceiling, Michelangelo! I said the ceiling!”). Said jokes were well received, fortunately, and we all went home happy. Next time, perhaps, I’ll try out a couple more.

Overall, despite the silence, it was a lot fun. A bit of a culture shock, but fun nonetheless. It simply warms my heart to know that love for bad movies knows no boundaries. In America, in Germany, and beyond – movies still suck and people still love them.

* And for the record, yes, I know that Ah-Nuld comes from Austria, and not Germany.

 

-- Copyright 2002 by J. Bannerman

 

   

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