Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Hidan of Maukbeiangjow (1973)

          Unsurprisingly, this low-rent comedy/horror picture is rarely marketed by its ridiculous original title. Instead, prints usually bear the moniker Invasion of the Girl Snatchers, which was first slapped onto the movie by an enterprising video distributor in the ’80s. By any name, however, this is disposable stuff on every level. The convoluted plot involves cops investigating a string of abductions, only to discover that the culprits are cult members in the service of an alien/demon/wizard/whatever. The movie also features some vague trope of replacing women’s minds with those of aliens so the women become automatons or zombies or something. The Hiden of Maukbeiangow is incrementally more palatable than the usual ’70s exploitation=flick sludge simply because it features attempts at humor, and there’s a lot to be said for a bad movie that doesn’t take itself seriously. Nonetheless, the combination of an incomprehensible plot, shoddy production values, and terrible acting is toxic no matter the circumstances. There’s a reason why Lee Jones, the cowriter, director, and cinematographer of this dud, never helmed another feature.
          To be charitable, however, it’s somewhat possible to see what Jones was after, even though he clearly lacked the skills needed to realize his vision. For instance, there’s a lot of interplay between Aph (Charles Rubin), the alien/demon/wizard, and the lead kidnapper, Freddie (David Roster). While Aph tries to cast a spell of dramatic intensity through faux-Shakespearean language, hip counterculture type Freddie takes the piss out of him by explaining that he doesn’t understand what the hell Aph is saying. This running gag almost works, thanks to Roster’s enthusiastic performance—the actor resembles modern-day comedian Jack Black in terms of behavior and physicality. Less successful are sight gags like the bit about a poorly made self-destructing audiocassette. Plus, of course, long stretches of The Hidan of Maukbeiangjow are simply boring or sleazy, if not both. (Case in point: A long scene of a topless woman tied to a slab during an alien medical procedure.) Some viewers might have fun reveling in this movie’s awfulness, and some might chuckle occasionally at bits that were indeed meant to be funny, but it’s hard to imagine anyone truly enjoying all 93 minutes of this muddle-headed misfire.

The Hidan of Maukbeiangjow: LAME

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