Monday, February 28, 2011

Murder in Circus (India, 1971)

The Friends VCD of Murder in Circus, which looks to have been mastered from a VHS tape of an old television broadcast, may be about the worst I’ve seen quality-wise. Seriously, this thing looks like something you’d find in a dead serial killer’s basement. Add to that the fact that so much of the film takes place at night (car chases can be recognized only by the intermittent visibility of headlights accompanied by tire squeal sound effects) and you have something that’s almost as impenetrable as that video in The Ring, though hopefully less lethal.

Which is a shame, because what can be seen of Murder in Circus looks like a moderate amount of fun. Our star here is Jaymala, which can only mean that Jaymala’s husband, B.K. Adarsh, is lurking around somewhere behind the scenes. And he is, of course -- this time acting as producer, with someone named A. Salam directing. Now, by pointing that out, I don’t mean to lend credence to the idea that poor Jaymala would rarely have gotten acting gigs if not for her husband, even though that seems to have somewhat inexplicably been the case. The fact is that hers and her husband’s involvement generally serves as a marker of high B movie quality, as we’ve already seen demonstrated by the wonderful Spy In Rome and Putlibai.

Here Jaymala plays the star trapeze artist at a circus where a string of mysterious murders is taking place. For personal reasons that will later be made clear, she takes it upon herself to solve the crimes, and is helped in this by Gopal (Putlibai’s Sujit Kumar), the circus’ resident lion tamer and fill-in trapeze guy. The murders seem to revolve around a stolen case of diamonds, and there is a sizeable gallery of familiar rogues on hand to make up a list of possible suspects, among them dependable 60s B movie bad guy B.M. Vyas and N.A. Ansari, who this time around is hidden behind a red beard and specs. Shetty -- who is also credited with fight composition -- also makes an appearance, only to be killed off early, after which his corpse continues to pop up at inopportune moments for his fellow cronies.

Lucky for us, the lovely Bela Bose also makes an appearance as this noirish tale’s requisite vamp, most memorably taking part in a song and dance number that cleverly incorporates a fight taking place in the bar in which she’s performing. Here and elsewhere, music director Usha Khanna’s tunes are generally passable, but it’s the film’s background score that’s of particular interest, consisting almost entirely of then-contemporary Western pop hits. One fight scene involving Shetty is set to Shocking Blue’s “Venus”, while, on two different occasions, Gopal’s lion tamer act is accompanied by a cheesy instrumental version of Paul Revere & The Raiders’ “Kicks”. You might think this would give the proceedings a hip, timely feel, but the truth is that it all comes off as a bit anachronistic, given the film itself feels rather old fashioned, and could just as easily have been a product of the 40s or 50s, rather than the 70s.

While it’s enjoyable, it’s hard to imagine anyone feeling all that passionate about Murder In Circus, unless they’re someone who just really, really likes to watch stock footage of old circus acts, of which there is indeed much. That said, I will say that the film’s final act really picks up steam when the killer all of a sudden starts to wear a creepy, Mardi Gras style mask. This leads to a hallucinatory musical number in which all of the circus performers are wearing bizarre masks, with Jaymala and Sujit Kumar running around tearing those masks off as they desperately try to figure out which of them is the homicidal maniac. Of course, they do eventually solve the mystery. I’d tell you who it is, but…

The ultimate Bollywood movie disclaimer

THIS FILM IS A WORK OF FICTION. No resemblance is intended to any persons living, dead, or yet to be born or conceived. Neither is any resemblance intended to any type of artificial human created by science, such as a life-like android, Robocop, or a man made out of dead body parts like Frankenstein. It should also be said that any resemblance between the characters and the actors who play them is purely accidental, as those actors are only as God made them, and neither they or the producers had any say in the outcome. Were we at the point where actors were farmed, rather than bred in the wild, it might be a different story, but that is simply not the case. Moving on, any resemblance to any real event, situation, circumstance, contingency, notion, or similarity is coincidental, as is any resemblance to any recognizable bodily function or action. Also, no resemblance to any religion is intended, especially Scientology. Any resemblance to any nation, region or state is also unintentional, as is any similarity to any of said nation, region, or state’s flags, uniforms, anthems, geography, ideology or pastimes. Needless to say, this is true not only for any nation, region, or state on this Earth, but also for those on any other planet anywhere in the galaxy or universe, and also in any possible alternative or “mirror” dimension like on Fringe. Also, if we’ve forgotten anything, please don’t sue us.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Napoleon Doble and the Sexy Six (Philippines, 1966)

Surviving examples of Filipino pulp cinema from the 1960s are so few and far between that it's always exciting when one turns up -- even though, admittedly, I was less excited about the prospect of actually watching Napoleon Doble and the Sexy Six than I was by the mere fact of its existence. Like the previously reviewed James Batman, Doble is one of many spy spoof/action comedies from the period that starred the (still!) massively popular comedian Dolphy, and, having seen James Batman, I felt that I had already pretty much gotten what those movies were all about. Basically, they combine standard action movie tropes with broad, Mad Magazine style parody. And, while the ability of Mad's writers to substitute the word "blechhh" for any similar sounding word struck me, at age 8, as being the height of wit, it's not the sort of humor that stands up to repeated exposure once you're well into your adult years.

That said, Napoleon Doble did hold a few surprises for me, not the least being just how dark it was willing to go in the process of fulfilling its mandate to be a full fledged action thriller in addition to a rollicking comedy. As in James Batman, Dolphy plays a double role here, this time as both police agent Napoleon Doble (for you youngsters, that's a pretty obvious play on the name of Napoleon Solo, one of the heroes of the old Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV series) and Doble's arch nemesis, Elias. The film begins with Doble interrupting Elias and his gang in the course of a bank robbery, leading to a violent shootout in which Elias is gravely wounded. Elias, a putty-faced grotesque reminiscent of a Dick Tracy villain, then attempts to make a getaway in his car, but passes out at the wheel and crashes. Later, under the care of his private plastic surgeon, he orders that his face be altered to look exactly like Doble’s –- a task that, once accomplished, enables Elias to wreak all kinds of predictable mistaken-identity-based havoc in the hero’s life.

While Dolphy’s Napoleon Doble comes across as something of a likeable doofus (most of the film’s comedic episodes center around him and his crew of fight-happy domestics), his portrayal of Elias offers something altogether more sinister. Steely eyed, cold and merciless, this villain rules over a shadowy mansion staffed by armed goons and a personal harem of beautiful women -- the “Sexy Six” of the title -- whom he treats with predatory callousness. Especially creepy are the scenes in which Elias stalks and abuses the young dancer Anna (Lourdes Mendel), a woman he has targeted as a future addition to his collection of mistresses; there is even a sequence in which he paws over Anna’s drugged and unconscious form, his cupped, jittery hands obsessively outlining the curve of her breasts. In essence, Elias is the Anti-Dolphy, and it seems telling that the actor digs into the part with such apparent relish.

Like most Tagalog language films of its time, Napoleon Doble, despite being a vehicle for a hugely popular star, is a pretty threadbare affair, and indeed has its odd moments of looking a bit drab and undernourished. However, director Carling Marquez more frequently bucks his limited means to fill the screen with some surprisingly inventive visual compositions, which alternately call to mind the look of film noir, the French New Wave, and the pop art sensibility of the Batman TV series. Most of these are used toward either accentuating Elias’s fearsomeness or making manifest his twisted interior world.

While the darker aspects of Napoleon Doble may in part be the result of the respective creative quirks or its director and star, they are more reliably the product of the Philippine’s populist film industry, and, in particular, that industry’s staunch dedication to the business of providing a little bit of something for everyone. It is thus that a film marked by such sinister trappings, not to mention some fairly violent action scenes, can go on to deliver the expected parade of dumb boob and toilet jokes, a couple of song and dance numbers, and, finally, a downbeat, melodramatic ending that requires one last, hasty sight gag in order to remind us that it is, above all, meant to be a comedy.

Throughout all of this, I found myself grateful for Dolphy’s particular brand of comic delivery, which I’d have to describe as being distinctly low key. Touring through the cinematic comedy of Dolphy’s era -- be it perpetrated by one of his fellow countrymen, like Chiquito, or the Etruscan horror that is Franco and Ciccio, or even a screen comic who I’ve been known to like on occasion, like Egypt’s Ismail Yassin –- can be a soul sapping exercise, soundtracked by endless shrill exclamations of cowardice and explosions of desperate, rubber-faced mugging. Fortunately, the fact that Dolphy, in addition to being a funnyman, must also comport himself as a man of action precludes him from any of the tiresome “feets don’t fail me now” shtick that so many of his contemporaries all too easily fall back upon. This, of course, doesn’t guaranty that I’ll find him funny. But Dolphy, with his unique combination of sardonic baring and secret agent cool, gives the impression that he doesn’t really care whether I do or not.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Haram Alek, aka Ismail Yassin Meets Frankenstein (Egypt, 1954)

With Egypt at the center of the news lately, has gone so far as to publish a sidebar article about the country’s prominent role as a producer of pop culture in the Arab world. However, nowhere in that article was Haram Alek mentioned, nor was its star, beloved screen comedian Ismail Yassin. Fortunately, I’m here to fill the hole in the internet that CNN’s glaring omission left.

Movies from Egyptian cinema’s golden age take a lot of cues from Hollywood, but Haram Alek (in English: Shame On You) is the first I’ve seen to take a Hollywood film and actually remake it, that film being Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. The fondness with which that 1948 Universal monster mash is regarded has made Haram Alek something of a novelty item among English speaking cult movie enthusiasts, as such giving it the odd status of being one of the few Egyptian popular films that such folks are most likely to have seen. Not only does this serve to present a somewhat skewed picture of what Egyptian pop cinema from the 1950s is actually like for those viewers, but it also on occasion makes Haram Alek –- unfairly, I think -- victim to the eager readiness of American fanboys to Jeer at any foreign appropriation of their nation’s pop culture as a laughably inferior copy.

Given the above, let me first say that Haram Alek is not quite the inept mess you may have heard, or assumed, it is; in fact, it’s typical of mainstream Egyptian films of its day in the slickness and stylishness of its technical execution –- although that style does fall pretty much in lockstep with the template set by black and white American movies from the 30s, 40s and 50s. It is also not, as some sources suggest, a “shot-for-shot” remake of A&CMF, although there are certainly a few gags and entire sequences that are lifted of-a-piece from the original. Really, Haram Alek is not so much trying to copy its inspiration as it is trying to adapt it both to the culture of its audience and to the screen personas of a pair of already established stars.

At the time of making Haram Alek, Ismail Yassin was in his third decade as a screen performer, and was popular enough that he had already fronted a number of tailor made comic vehicles (the previously reviewed Haunted House among them –- not to mention Ismail Yassin’s Phantom, which was released the same year as Haram Alek). His co-star, Abdel Fattah El Kasri, had also established himself as an actor and comedian, and, while not commanding Yassin’s level of adulation, had become a familiar presence in comic sidekick roles, many of them alongside Yassin. The fact that neither of these stars fit into the traditional “straight man” role (El Kasri’s tubby build and wonky eyes, as well as Yassin’s famously rubbery visage, saw to that) meant that a straightforward emulation of the Abbott and Costello dynamic was out of the question. Instead what we get is something a bit more schizoid, with both actors at times playing the lily livered, comic bumbler, and El Kasri occasionally, when the script requires it, stepping into Bud Abbott’s thankless role as the easily peeved, stern talking killjoy. As for Yassin, this is certainly not one of my favorite performances of his, as his essentially filling the Lou Costello role plays to some of the least appealing aspects of his screen persona –- gibbering, exaggerated and shrill –- with less of the slyness that offsets them in other films.

In the film, Yassin and El Kasri play “Ismail” and “Abdel”, a couple of -- well, I already said “bumbling”, but to consult the thesaurus would sacrifice clarity –- antique shop employees charged with delivering a mysterious crate to a mysterious Professor Assem. Interestingly, the film takes it upon itself to deliver to its audience all of the iconic monsters that were a main draw of the original –- in that case, Dracula, as played by Bela Lugosi, The Wolfman, as played by Lon Chaney, Jr., and Frankenstein’s monster –- while at the same time winkingly trying to place them within a specifically Arabic context. The crate that the men are delivering, of course, turns out to contain the Frankenstein monster. However, in the dialog, that monster is referred to as being the mummy of an ancient Egyptian scientist whom Professor Assem wants to revive in order to obtain some great “secret”. Assem, for his part, stalks about in a black cape and sleeps by day in a sarcophagus, and is even said to be capable of turning into a bat, but is nonetheless characterized as also being some kind of preternaturally long lived denizen of ancient Egypt. Of course, given the look of these two, the movie has no choice but to cheerfully acknowledge that no one could possibly be fooled as to who they’re really supposed to be. (Ismail, while miming Lugosi’s classic cape over the face move, at one point describes Assem as looking like “the guy in the movies”.)

Overall, Haram Alek keeps good pace with its inspiration in providing a cozy mix of slapstick caterwauling and good natured, boardwalk haunted house level chills. It should even be given credit for tightening up A&CMF’s story in some significant ways, especially in how it folds Lon Chaney Jr.’s Larry Talbot/Wolfman character into that of Dracula/Assem’s conscientious assistant, Dr. Morad (a part played by Charles Bradstreet in the original). In this version, that character’s lycanthropy comes about as the result of a spell that Assem casts upon him in order to keep him from blowing the whistle on him. As with the other monsters on display, the make-up work on this wolfman is perhaps not up to par with that of the more well-funded and experienced hands at Universal, but is nonetheless worlds better than some attempts at recreating these same classic creatures that I’ve seen coming from other countries. (I’m looking at you, Mexico. Yes, you heard me.) In the case of Frankenstein’s monster, the look seems to be less the result of ineptitude than it is of it being intentionally stylized, with the end product having a charmingly caricatured appearance.

I could take up several posts cataloguing all of the telling ways in which Haram Alek departs from it’s source material –- just as I could the instances in which it is slavishly faithful to it. But, for now, I’ll just tick off a few that struck me as being particularly significant for one reason or another. One was the conspicuous use of French greetings –- “bonjour”, “au revoir” -- on the part of Professor Assem and his female accomplice, a “Europeanized” affectation that I’ve seen crop up as a telltale sign of villainy in other old Egyptian films. (Is this equivalent to those often frowned upon ‘Westernized” Indians in old Hindi films?) Another was the fact that the Assem/Dracula character’s house, imposingly gothic and decrepit in the original, was impeccably modern in this version -- which could be a reflection of Egypt’s forward thinking aspirations at the time, or simply the fact that, for a country with such a long history, a home that we in the States might consider unfathomably old and creepy would seem barely lived in, and thus not imbued with that much creepiness at all.

Of course, if I were asked to name the one thing above all that most marked Haram Alek as being unmistakably a product of the Middle East, I would have to say that it was all the belly dancing:

In the end, Haram Alek certainly wasn’t one of my favorite Ismail Yassin films. As a straightforward crowd pleaser, it lacked the satirical edge of some of his better efforts. Nonetheless, as others have noted, it is not without its charms. Most notably, it seems to regard the original Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein with much the same warmth and affection as that film’s fans do, and treats its monsters with much the same mix of reverence and fond familiarity. This makes it something that’s hard to hate, despite Yassin’s somewhat hysterically pitched performance sometimes seeming dedicated toward making it so. As I may have noted before, there’s something about this type of old school monster romp that is redolent of rainy Saturday afternoons spent rapt in front of the TV, and that translates just as strongly in Arabic as it does in English.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fighting Femmes, Fiends, and Fanatics Episode 7: Hey, You, Go!

With this latest episode of Steve Mayhem's Fighting Femmes, Fiends, and Fanatics, I rev up my magic bus and take you on a magical mystery tour through the world of 1960s Japanese Group Sounds movies. My subject: Hey, You, Go!, an engaging bit of psychedelic fluff starring the Jaguars, who were just one of Japan's many answers to the Beatles.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

La Venganza de los Punks (Mexico, 1987)

It's those goddamn punks again.

One of my favorite things about Intrepidos Punks -- for the obvious reason and others -- was the end. In that final scene, the cops are celebrating their victory over the punks when the elder police captain's face clouds over. When asked by the film's putative hero what the problem is, the superior officer replies that he fears this just concluded battle may be "only the tip of the iceberg". This ominous note suddenly lends Intrepidos Punks the air of a cautionary tale, the message being that The Road Warrior was real, and that there are actual post-apocalyptic glam-punk motorcycle gangs roaming our present day streets and highways, a threat for which we must remain ever vigilant.

And I'm certainly not one to argue that such threats shouldn't be dealt with. Because if they aren't, they're sure to come back again, just as they do in the belated sequel to Interpidos Punks, La Venganza de los Punks. In Venganza, this return is effected when gang leader Tarzan (El Fantasma) is freed from prison by a couple of his conspicuously middle-aged punkette minions. No time is wasted then before the punks' venganza is put into action. The home of Marco, the prolifically mustached cop who arrested Tarzan (played by Juan Valentin, a man who did double duty as both a popular ranchera singer and Mexico's answer to Charles Bronson) is invaded during his daughter's quinceanera celebration. As Marco, overpowered by the gang, watches helplessly, the punks rape his wife and daughter before savagely murdering them along with all of the assembled guests. Tarzan then decrees that Marco should be left alive to be tormented by his loss, and presumably also so that he can seethe with an overpowering lust for vengeance, thus guaranteeing that the remaining hour or so of the movie can be bestowed with something that has some vestigial resemblance to a plot. So, yes, anyway, "this time it's personal", bla bla bla.

I wanted to mention that, immediately after the sequence described above, La Venganza de los Punks signals its serious intentions by having a scene in which one of Marco's partners, surveying the aftermath of the quinceanera massacre, makes an emotion strangled speech in which he declares, "We are all guilty. We are all accomplices. All of us!" I wanted to pass that bit on so that you people out there who are merely reading about this movie on the internet rather than actually watching it cannot escape the blame. THIS IS YOUR FAULT. Personally, I have to admit that I lack the elevated moral sense that would enable me to understand what the hell Marco's partner -- and, through him, the makers of La Venganza de los Punks -- are talking about, if anyone even knows. Man, I wasn't even in Mexico at the time. Still, the rest of you should be ashamed of yourselves. Seriously, gaze upon the carnage and rend your garments in shame.

 I mean, seriously, fuck you guys

Anyway, Venganza then goes on to tick off a nice little catalog of "rogue cop" movie cliches in short order. Marco insists upon being put on the case, but is sternly rebuffed by his superior, who feels that he is "too close" and will turn it into a personal vendetta. Instead, the superior orders him to take some time off, to which Marco responds by angrily tossing his badge down on the desk and quitting the force. Marco then takes to the road in his deluxe pick-up truck with camper shell, and, in literally no time at all, comes upon the gang completely by coincidence, after which he surreptitiously follows them to their combination camp ground and satanic shrine.

And it is at this point that La Venganza de los Punks can really get down to the business of being what La Venganza de los Punks is all about, and that is a long series of sequences in which Marco exacts revenge against the members of the gang one by one -- male and female alike -- in a variety of gruesome ways. These include immolation, head spiking, beheading (not the same thing), poisonous animal friending, and that method so curiously beloved by homophobic movie he-men worldwide, rectal impalement. Note that, throughout this, Marco is presented as being completely in control, and never in danger of being imperiled, so that there is no element of even attempted suspense or drama to cloud our understanding of these scenes' pleasures as being anything but for their own sake. Furthermore, the punks are shown to be going through some internal power struggles of their own, which makes them even less equipped to defend themselves.

This, combined with the fact that Marco increasingly takes to his sadistic acts with a cackling, wild eyed glee, marks the second half of Venganza as being clearly an old school slasher film in the Friday the 13th mold, with the formerly intimidating punks reduced to being the hapless, bubble headed campers who continually wander directly into the unstoppable killer's trap. It's as if Venganza is, quite understandably, so in love with its own cheesy, exploitative elements that it doesn't even really care what kind of cheesily exploitative movie it is from one moment to the next, even while going from being a moralizing cop vs. the system revenge film to being a nakedly prurient, vicarious stalk-and-slasher.

As you might have already guessed, La Venganza de los Punks -- which was directed by Damian Acosta Esparsa, taking over the series from Intrepidos Punks director Francisco Guerrero -- is a noticeably more mean spirited film than its predecessor, with an even more blatant level of misogyny thrown in just to make the aftertaste that much more bitter. Still, like its predecessor, the nastiness of its ideas more often than not meets up with a harebrained level of execution. In one scene, Marco slowly pours acid over the body of a bound and helplessly pleading female member of the gang. It's an unquestionably vile scenario, but leavened somewhat once you note that the effect of the acid on her body manifests itself in the form of fizzing green foam that makes it look like she's been blanketed with Airborne tablets and doused in water -- not to mention the stratospheric yet somehow still mismatched pitch of the acting that's going on. Elsewhere, the mayhem is realized by exactly the kind of cheap, rubbery prosthetic effects that are most guaranteed to bring a smile to the heart of any debased genre fan, regardless of context.

Ultimately, La Venganza de los Punks fulfills the chief mandate of any sequel by giving us more than what had preceded it: more gore, more punks, more sex and nudity, and, most importantly -- if you can believe it --, an even more insane level of absurd costumery. Tin foil hair extensions, fin shouldered plastic ponchos, and a bearded punk dressed as a Roman centurion are among the calamities on display. El Fantasma, in particular, shows a lot of flourish in the variety of headgear he models; in addition to the mask he sported in Intrepidos, there's a bell-shaped chain mail number and, during a Satanic ritual, something that looks like a full head dunce cap rendered in multi-colored pastels.

If there was anything that impressed me about La Venganza de los Punks while watching it, it was its makers' willingness to push their formerly righteous protagonist to such grotesque extremes. That is, until they offered themselves a cheap "out" with a final twist that will quite literally make you want to kick your screen into little pieces, eat it, and then projectile vomit it out the window. I'm not gonna spoil if for you, though. After all, Venganza is a dish best served cold.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Two crackers in search of Polly

After a brief hiatus, the joint Tars Tarkas and 4DK podcast has returned, and this time with a proper name: The Infernal Brains! (Or, as you lucha movie purists might prefer it, Los Cerebros Infernales). To kick off this new era of awesomeness, we couldn't think of a better subject than our favorite goddess of weird fu, Polly Shang Kwan. The podcast can be either downloaded as an audio file or streamed with pitchers below.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Intrepidos Punks (Mexico, 1983)

Back in the day, most of the punks that I knew, once you really got to know them, were pretty nice. They partied hard, sure. But they also worked hard at their bike messenger jobs, and studied diligently at the Art Institute so that they could one day make the borderline pornographic Marxist art film that would finally alienate their parents once and for all.

But then there was that one group that everyone was afraid of. They lived in a cave, and their mohawks were big and fuzzy -- like their mustaches -- and colored in every shade of the rainbow. They had names like Tarzan, Pirate and Caligula. The girls in this group were particularly scary; something about their breasts seemed somehow… unnatural. And, oh, the violence! On more than one occasion, I was tempted to alert the authorities of their activities, but feared that no one would believe the tale. Fortunately, someone made the movie Intrepidos Punks –- did I mention that they were Mexican? -- so that the onus of proving their existence no longer lays with me.

Intrepidos Punks is basically a biker movie that uses the excuse of those bikers being punks to have them act like a bunch of spastic, wantonly destructive morons. (And by the way, I’m going with the book Destroy All Movies’ release date of 1983 for this, rather than the IMDB’s 1980, because there’s just no way this movie predates The Road Warrior.) Even Alex and his Droogs might try to sit this bunch down and counsel them about thinking before they act. With all reason thus removed from the equation, the whole field of depravity is open: rape, devil worship, torturing and killing random strangers for kicks… even the accompaniment of sex scenes with godawful bar band blues rock in condoned. Nothing is forbidden, I tell you.

Yet, amazingly, it’s still hard at times not to side with the punks in their war against authority, because every representation of that authority in Intrepidos Punks is miraculously more odious than that of the punks themselves. The gang are able to free their leader, Tarzan (played by the luchadore El Fantasma), from prison because the jailer and his male staff are busy taking part in an orgy with a bunch of hookers. The two cops charged with tracking the gang down are a pair of stereotypical 1980s action movie “loose cannons” who openly get their rocks off by roughing up suspects. When they’re not making jokes about each others' sisters, most of their police work involves making cars blow up, including one fleeing hood’s car that drives off a cliff and somehow explodes before making contact with the ground. (Lesson: When you’re a badass movie cop, cars explode just because you hate them.)

Despite being a shameless work of exploitation, Intrepidos Punks manages time and again to undermine its ability to shock with its own ridiculousness. An impending home invasion and gang rape looks like it might prove to be uncomfortable viewing, until a live rock band suddenly appears in the room for no reason and you have no choice but to be overwhelmed by bemusement. The simulated sex is plentiful, but it is all of that particular variety of softcore that sees tentative boob nuzzling as the consummate sexual act rather than as tepid foreplay. At a celebratory orgy, the punks display the whole gamut of perversions, providing your idea of “the whole gamut of perversions” runs from mild S&M to compulsive masturbation followed by weeping.

At ninety minutes of pure, unadulterated stupidity, Intrepidos Punks acts as its own anesthetic. Your brain will never be awake long enough to realize it’s being insulted. On the other hand, I’m laughing now, but who knows? I remember that, when some friends and I went to see the original Class of 1984 back when it opened, we were deeply offended by the fact that the punks in it were portrayed as racists. (We had yet to meet real racist punks.) Who knows what we would have made of Intrepidos Punks? We might have felt compelled to burn down the theater and rape everyone on principle.