Reviews

Revenge Of Dr. X, The (1970)

From the concrete of Cape Canaveral to the beaches of Japan, the brilliant Dr. X has his stuff together. He knows what he wants and he gets what he wants. Alas, great power always comes with a price. In this case, the good Doc just happens to be the crankiest a-hole on the face of the earth. Line it up, ladies. Your Prince Charming is here.

The bizarre warmth that surrounds The Revenge of Dr. X is beautifully insane. Scripted for hire by Edward D. Wood, Jr. during the early stages of his porn work, this is a truly cracked film that exists in a reality unknown to everyone but the filmmakers themselves. The general push of the movie concerns mood-swingin’ Dr. X (40s western vet James Craig) and his experiments with monstrous Venus flytraps. But comprehension doesn’t come that easy. Gently unfolding like a living Clutch Cargo episode in the context of your Grandpa’s Super 8 vacation footage, Ed Wood and Toei Studios put the money — and booze — where their mouth is. Result: half a dozen drained bottles of vodka and the blackouts to prove it.

For some reason, Dr. X is super stressed out at his rocketship base in Florida. His Japanese assistant suggests a working vacation in Japan. For the next hour, we tag along with Mr. X as he meets his new assistant (barks insults at her, falls in love, then barks more insults), drives around in his convertible, leads a diving excursion with a crack team of topless women, and finally experiments on a Venus flytrap comprised of Play-Doh and banana hair clips. There’s also a hunchback, complete with organ death march music whenever his smiling face pops up. Soon enough, a two-dollar Frankenstein lab transforms the flytrap into one of the most amazing cheapo monsters I’ve ever seen in my life. Move over, Sting of Death! The monster begins scarfing down puppies and rabbits, then moves to the hunchback, then onto regular villagers. If only that volcano can explode in time!

Led with much gusto by James Craig’s unbelievably insane performance, Dr. X packs so much technical absurdity into its 90-minute runtime that the “plot” becomes invisible. Hammond organ exotica twinkles away on the score accompanying a Baby Huey cartoon while overlaid images, grainy stock shots, and extreme close-ups relay the day-in-the-life affairs. The first hour of the film is comprised entirely of padding and montage sequences, giving way to the strange dialogue that would most likely never come out of a human being’s mouth. Eddie, baby, you still had it. When the monster bursts forth, he communicates through waving his arms and emitting backwards sound effects. The screen turns red and somebody’s dead. Could this film be anymore breathtaking?

Eventually, the broken English and gutter dubbing made me feel like I was stranded in a foreign country with no means of communication. Panic. Naturally, I saw stars and fainted. When I woke up, James Craig yelled at me, laughed hysterically, then fell off of his chair. What a pal.

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