Missiles and Mayhem
by Turtle Jones
The last day of World Cup. We have about another hour til the game is over and the Greatest Punk Rock LP of 85-89 ends. You won’t see much of us till after the match and winner is decided. And really, after that we will both probably nap out. Cause it's Sunday. That’s what we do.
But, what to do today? The polls will be closed soon. The winner will be put up after that. The nominations for the 90’s will go up tomorrow morning. You guys will put your own in and we will make a list. But that’s tomorrow. What to do now?
After looking through our ideas and tossing them back and forth, we decided on one. We both like horror movies. Both like games. But, we did that already this weekend.
What to do?
Yes! The end is coming soon! Stand or fall! Channel your best Charlton Heston or Gene Hackman and grab a shotgun cause these are some of our favorites. Ready?
This movie was awesome. Pure pleasure and pure delight. Nothing better then to watch some futuristic machines take over. There was something about the start of the movie. Something about how humans failed at destroying civilizations when the chips were down. Two keys. Two soldiers. One missile. One gun. A test that was failed. Chairs were pulled out and the humans replaced.
Joshua was installed.
Things already were looking grim.
But not for Matthew Broderick! His career as a Missile Command kickass was just coming up. He was so good at that game. The other kids watched him play it with astonishment in their eyes. They watched his movement, concentration and stare. He would save the world. They knew it. He would. Yeah, pretty cheesy foreshadowing but hell, this was the early 80’s.
Jump to turtle. See, at least I tell you when I’m doing that now. I used to just leave you confused when I jumped from topic to topic. But, I have changed my ways! When I totally go off topic now, I will put an icon in the top right hand corner that will let you see a webcam of me eating some tacos or some other shit. Just a warning. I might be naked. And eating a chilidog. And it might have extra relish. And I might be playing with myself. Or Legos.
But anyways, I was a kid in summer school at the time this came out. In a class about computers. Those new things. You know, the ones with the screens. That had the typewriter attached to them. And plugged into the wall. Truth be told, all we did in that class was play Castle Wolfenstein and get stoned every once on awhile. Joan Jett’s “I love rock and roll” blasting out of the speakers. Want to see paranoid? Take a little kid, load him up on dope, crank that type of music, sit him down in from of that game and get ready to see him jump when one of those SS guards starts chasing him, screaming something about cheese or hamburgers.
Hey, I was hungry.
Our teacher decided that his class was now on the “Most Worthless Summer School Class Of All Time” list so he decided he wanted to see a movie. Educational movie. Something that parents would buy into. They would sign the parental slip and let him get out of the place for a day so he didn’t have to listen to John Cougar's “Hurt so good” anymore then he already had to. Just one day he could not smell pot and cheeseburgers with kids giggling about Frisbees and SS Nazis.
So it was done. Our parents signed the forms and we were off! Movie day! Joints were passed around and tickets were paid for. Sitting in the back of the bus while talking about how many Nazis we had killed that day or how we thought Joan Jett was so fucking hot. We were all going to marry her. All of us. Little did we know what was going on back then. But hey, really, a lesbian Joan Jett puts better fantasies in your head then a straight one does. Really. I’ve run both scenarios in my mind and have come that conclusion. And being a card carrying member of “Those Who Know Porn Club” I think I can speak on authority here.
Seriously. All I remember about that movie was Joshua asking if we wanted to play a game. Then everything going bad. Then some mind fuck at the end with lights flashing scared soldiers and ….
Tic Tac Toe?
So, in the end all I learned was that computers are bad, nuclear wars are bad, Nazi SS are bad, and pot was good.
And maybe I’ll come back to summer school next year! -T
Before I start talking about the drama, the disturbing sexual undertones and Richard Roundtree in a jumpsuit, I need to talk about Sensurround.
Earthquake wasn't going to be just another disaster movie. It was supposed to be revolutionary. Interactive movie watching! And I don't mean interactive like throwing toast in the air during Rocky Horror. We're talking real interaction. And I know where your mind is going with this. Interactive movies. Porn. Yea, I know how you work. But that's not what I mean either. See, orginally, the idea was that Earthquake audience was supposed to have Styrofoam blocks bounced off their heads during certain scenes. I am not shitting you. I swear.
There were two problems with Sensurround. One, the theater had to buy a system. Would the movie attract enough people to be worth the cost? Hey, it was the 70's. We were all about cheesy gimmicks and novelty fads. This was the age of pet rocks. 8-tracks. Disco. Trans Ams. So, yea. Most of the big theaters at the time bought into the fad and presented Earthquake in Sensurround. Because we loved a gimmick.
Second problem. In the days before multiplexes, the larger places had two full sized theaters, side by side. At the time these theaters were playing Earthquake, with all of its shaking and rumbling, they were also showing Godfather II. So if you were sitting in a Sensurround theater trying to enjoy some Italian style mayhem, it would go something like this: I know it was you Fredo. Rumble. You broke my heart. RUMBLE. You broke my heart! Seats shake. Sodas tumble. Pacino emotes. The ground moves. People run for the exits.
So Sensurround had its problems. But that didn't stop people from coming to see an otherwise crappy movie, nor did it stop them from using Sensurround again.
Really, if you think you missed out on the Sensurround thing, let me tell you that you didn't miss much. I actually saw Earthquake in Sensurround and all it did was make me anxious. But that's just me. You know: What if there is a real earthquake outside while this is going on in here? We'd never know. We'd think it was part of the movie and we'd just die right here in the theater with sticky floors and dirty seats and a mouthful of popcorn and we'd never, ever know that it was all real. Nevermind that I was in New York, where there really isn't an earthquake problem. Like I said, that's just me. I worry about things like zombies and aliens and whether it's going to rain on my sometime in the future, as yet to be determined wedding date. Just me.
Ok, the movie. Yes, there was a plot to go with the gimmick. It had all the hallmarks of a disaster flick. Airport survivor George Kennedy. Skyjacked and Soylent Green hero Charlton Heston. A beautiful woman. The beautiful, yet cheated on wife. The kid in peril. The stoic authority figure. Plus, it had motorcyle daredevil, Victoria Prinicipal with a 'fro and Ava Gardner (born 1922) playing Lorne Greene's (born 1915) daughter.
There were so many subplots in this movie, you almost forgot that you were waiting for an earthquake to happen. And everything was shot in wide angle, so you felt like you were viewing the movie from a vast distance, which takes away any kind of suspense the film should have. And when the quake finally made its appearance - an hour into the film, after all the drama crap - it wasn't the Sensurround that got you shaking, but the laughter.
Holy shit. Oh my jesus. This is what you call special effects? There's one scene where a guy is standing in front of a crumbling office building and he's hit in the head with this huge boulder. Which bounces right off of him. I swear. Rent the movie. Watch for that scene. Bounces right off the guy's head. Plus, there were really bad attempts at blood and gore. And misplaced cows. Yea, cows. People were dying, choas was ensuing, fires were erupting and we were giggling. Not a good sign.
There's more. Between all the death and destruction, you had some guy with a case of sever angst over his motorcyle jumping career, Victoria Princicpal being sexually assaulted by the creeptastic Marjoe Gortner, Heston having to choose between saving his lover or his wife, a cameo in which Walter Matthau is dressed like a pimp, and dialogue like Give me your panty hose, damn it!
Let's talk a bit more about this Gortner dude. See, I've had nightmares about him. Although Marjoe didn't have much of a career after Earthquake (he was in another favorite cheese film of mine, Food of the Gods), his role in this movie left quite an impression on me. I think I could walk the halls of a thousand prisons and never come across anyone more terrifying than Gortner. And it's not just the character he plays in Earthquake (who goes by the rather non-threatening name of Jody) that makes me squirm, it's him. No, I don't know anything about him. I don't know what he's like in real life. But the creep factor I get when I look at his face transcends the screen. Yes, I'll always remember the terrifying moment in Earthquake when the little boy almost got electrocuted, and I'll never forget Heston's torn between two lovers moment, nor the upside down cows in the truck or the elevator scene where the dead man takes a breath or Richard Roundtree's lightning bolt jumpsuit or Victoria Principal's oh-so-tight t-shirt, but it will always be Gortner's Jody that will define this movie for me. Hey, maybe he was a metaphor for the earthquake itself - a predator, a destroyer of lives. Yes, that's it! The movie was not as bad as you all think because it worked on so many different levels! Like an Iron Maiden song! Two levels!
Ok, not really. This movie really is bad. It's a disaster movie in all ways. Yet, every time it's on tv (usually during some AMC disasterthon) I watch it from beginning to end. Jesus. I might as well confess. I have the DVD. The special edition. I'm a sucker for disaster movies, what can I say. I can't help but watch them, even one as bad as this. Oh, I have to avert my eyes when Gornter eats up the screen so I don't have a repeat of those nightmares in which Jody corners me in a grocery store and threatens me with a cucumber, but I still manage to get through all of it, flying chunks of Styrofoam concrete and all. And that, movie fans, is what makes a film rise one level above suck.
If you haven't seen Earthquake, rent it. Don't buy it. Unless, like me, you're a sucker for Richard Roundtree in a jumpsuit. Or Victoria Prinicipal in a tshirt and afro. -M