Wednesday, July 17, 2013

REVIEW: Sting of Death (1965)

For this week’s review, I will take you back in time. Back to a time when things were more innocent. When people just liked to dance all day on sun-drenched docks and didn’t have to worry about anything except guys dressed up like mutant fish monsters killing them. Oh those were the days. Put on your nostalgia goggles and let’s dig into the wonderful wrongs of Sting of Death.

Director: William Grefe
Starring: Joe Morrison, Valerie Hawkins

Got your nostalgia goggles ready?

Okay then! How about some booze?

Great! And the weed?

You’ll need it. Trust me.

We start off by establishing that girls wear bikinis and put on suntan lotion while sitting on docks - and they did so back in the 60s, too! And then we see that apparently sitting around sunbathing while fancy music plays is enough to make you a target for the worst scuba diver since Goofy and Donald Duck tried to find Atlantis and came up with a plastic fishbowl accessory.

Those fins are really dirty. Go clean them you neanderthal!

It’s also amazing how she gets replaced with a blow-up doll when he’s dragging her through the water…

If they got her to stay underwater that whole time, she's the one who deserves a movie made about her, not the shitty looking monster. If not, well, I guess one of the actors had a blow-up doll lying around in his trailer.

After that, I guess we get introduced to our main characters. For the uninitiated to 60s horror, they’re sort of like 80s slasher characters. Except instead of drugs and beer, they tuck their shirts into their pants, slick their hair back and talk about going to church or something. They’re all pretty interchangeable, except for one character, which is Egon.

No, not the Ghostbusters character…this guy is a shy and socially awkward misplaced caveman who can apparently sneak up on people even though he’s the size of a house. I bring this up because it’s a big deal. And because he is the killer.

Yeah, try not coming to work hungover next time, buddy!

I know, I know – I really disappointed a lot of people by revealing that fact. But just hear me out. If I had not told you guys that, the reveal would have been so terrifying that none of you would be able to sleep for weeks. Did you know that the Chernobyl disaster was caused because the people at the plant were watching Sting of Death at the time and were so surprised by the twist, that dozens of people died? It’s true. Most people won’t tell you about that part because they don’t want it to happen again.

They talk about boring things for a while. Mostly it’s a bunch of shit about who’s coming to the party and what not. They find a dead body washed up on the docks and say that maybe they should call a doctor who can do an autopsy and find out what’s wrong with him. Uh, I don’t think it matters THAT much to you guys what’s wrong with him. And yeah, maybe calling an ambulance would be the best idea when you find a dead body. Isn’t that like saying “hey, there’s a fire over there. Maybe I should call the fire department”?

But screw that shit, we have dancing to do!

Yeah, this becomes a “thing” in the movie for way longer than it probably should be. It’s a party, sure, we get it. Does that really mean we need creepy close-ups of people grinning like they just sucked in helium?

Or an abundance of ass shots?

Well I guess that isn't AS bad...

Not to mention the music, which is about as nerdy as you can get. I guess it’s still better than the 90s and early 2000s disposable waste featured in the Hitcher remake. Ugh – shivers, every time…

So eventually Egon shows back up and they decide, as a hive mind apparently, to make fun of him and chase him off the dock, like a bunch of jackasses. Why? Because they are jackasses. I mean seriously, what kind of cretins pick on somebody just because they look a certain way? What kind of asinine, horrible person would actually do that? I guess it’s just what passed for fun before the Internet, because nowadays we prefer to keep our bullying online.

But I digress – he gets chased off and then they just continue dancing. Even the one chick who scolds them for it stops caring in a second or two and just rejoins the dancing like nothing was wrong…talk about a short attention span. And seriously, MORE DANCING?! Why do we need more? In what unholy, hellish dimension is this considered entertainment? I’ve seen more enjoyable spectacles watching fat trailer park families at Walmart! It’s seriously just embarrassing. I bet if we showed this to these people all these years later, the ones who are still alive would pretend to have dementia so as to not have to face what they created. Nobody could watch this even a year or two later and pretend they were proud of it.

After that we get some more talking about boring stuff like who’s going to do what at the party…I can almost see my boredom as a physical entity. I mean good god. It’s like being at a party with an old folks’ home. Even 80s slashers had more compelling dialogue than this! I may not be speaking for everyone here, but I’d sure as hell take booze and sex over ‘what are we going to do next at the party?’ I mean come on! Give us a death scene or something!

Oh, and we also see one girl jump in the pool and then everyone starts talking about how she might die in the water. I can’t tell if it’s supposed to be ironic, if they really think you’ll die if you go in a pool alone, or…

Ohhhhhh. Was it supposed to be foreshadowing? Well, then it was the worst attempt at foreshadowing I have ever seen. Thank you, Sting of Death…you deserve a goddamn medal for that.

Anyway, yeah, she gets killed somehow in the water and nobody seems to see the monster, how amazing…I guess they were all too busy talking about their oh-so-important party chit chat. Seriously, how can they be so blind? HE’S RIGHT THERE. You’d think a full-grown dark figure in a swimsuit, in a tiny swimming pool, would attract a little attention, but I guess in the 60s it was pretty commonplace. I guess whatever this guy was saying to this woman was just too important to notice someone being attacked in the pool.

Real stand up people there…better not hang out with them. If you ever get mugged, they'll probably just ignore it. But don't worry - they're having a really good conversation!

After that we see one of the guys get attacked too, so everyone goes out on the water in a panic to take them to a hospital. While they’re doing that, I guess they get attacked, because the boat flips over and several of them die.

Like every party in the 60s, it started with bullying, had some dancing in the middle and ended up with complete carnage and chaos. No wonder our generation is so fucked up.

What is our heroes’ next move? Well, the only logical course of action: go home and eat dinner calmly!

Oh okay, this isn't the immediate next thing they do, but come on, it might as well are they so casual? One of them says "Today was awful." Heh heh, yeah, THAT'S a bit of an understatement..."two people got attacked and many more were injured, what a bad day! If only we hadn't just ignored the big, dark, noisy shape in the water the first time..."

You sad, despicable pieces of crap.

The movie also shows us a GREAT plot twist by revealing Egon as the killer!

I never woulda guessed! You have completely taken me off guard, movie! Bravo. I also love how they show you he's the killer this early, thus effectively eliminating any suspense for the next 45 minutes of the movie.

Yeah, he goes into some cave with flashing spaceman lights and computers all around, puts his hands in some kind of opening and then transforms from a jellyfish space-alien monster into human again. Now, keep in mind this was before drugs got big in the 70s. Your guess is as good as mine what the hell the explanation behind this is…how does he have this stuff and, more than that, know how to use it? Is he an alien? I dunno. The movie never tells us! Perfect.

Then we get some more long drawn out bullshit where a bunch of the characters leave to try and go to the mainland. They stop in some Everglades type clearing and enjoy the wilderness for a while, because nothing says “people are getting attacked in the water” like going even further out into the wilderness, right? This one chick leaves the group and gets attacked by the monster. I think she deserves it. How can THIS sneak up on you? Is the guy really that hard to hear coming? There have to be some leaves or sticks or something cracking underneath those gigantic swimming fins!

Nothing? Nothing at all? Fine…ugh…

There are some other scenes with Egon trying to romance this one girl back at the camp. They’re really short and not all that fleshed out, but that’s not a surprise. We also get shower scenes, like this one, which rips off a kind of famous movie from a sort of well-known director…I can’t place which one though…

I always thought Psycho could have been improved if the killer wore elephant droppings and dirty vines as a costume. This movie gets it right.
Yeah, keep rubbing your forehead there, princess; someday you'll get it clean...

Hmm. Must be Rear Window.

So he kills this girl by putting a hand on her throat. I guess the special effects are really just that bad. He looks kind of like an astronaut that got eaten by a lawnmower.

Look at that thing on his head. I've seen that in the pillow sections of Walmart.

Then he kidnaps the one girl he likes and takes her to a cave under the water where he threatens her for thinking he’s ugly even when she insists she doesn’t. She hasn’t given any indication that she does, but still he throws a fit anyway. Then, because he doesn’t want to be ugly, he sticks his hands back in that thing again and electrifies himself. Because electrified people are totally not ugly at all! I bet nobody will make fun of you now

Also, seriously, what is up with this underground alien robot magic cave? How can he just stick his hands in that thing and transform into his costume, which we see him take off like regular clothes in an earlier scene? In fact, what even is that thing? Is it a spaceship? Is he a superhero? An alien? What? WHAT?!

Okay, whatever…so in a very sexist re-enactment of how a caveman usually got a new girlfriend, this one guy comes and saves the girl.

"I'm here for the Asylum remake of The Time Machine?"

Seriously, the women in this movie are portrayed as weak as hell. She barely puts up a fight at all, which at first makes sense because he’s a fairly large guy. But when her friend comes in, they fight for a few seconds and then he kicks Egon once or twice and that’s the end of it! He wasn’t that tough! Are you telling me a woman has such a hard time standing up for herself at all that she couldn’t get away from this wimp? Come on!

Oh who am I kidding, look at the movie I’m reviewing, at the time it was released…I’m wasting my breath.

Anyway, yeah, check out the awesome fight scene these guys have. They shove each other’s arms a little, kick each other once or twice and that’s it. Real gripping. Kind of like the last time I watched my four year old cousins play-fight in the backyard.

And your guess is as good as mine what THIS shit is:

Looks like a science fair project done by Doctor Who villains.

The cave blows up or something and the two heroes get out, but sadly drown in the ocean before they can resurface, because they forgot they couldn’t breathe underwater.

Okay, that didn’t really happen, but wouldn’t it have been a much better movie that way? I think so. This was just ridiculous. Terrible story, no good effects and very little suspense. It’s just crap. But it is very enjoyable crap in its way…I won’t lie and say there’s absolutely nothing of worth in it, because there are very funny moments here and there, even if the movie didn’t intend them to be. But that’s usually the best kind of camp anyway, the schlocky kind. It’s terrible, but it’s also terribly endearing. I’d rather not see those dancing scenes again though. That was far scarier than the monster in the movie.

*Heart attack*

You can watch the full movie of Sting of Death at this location: