Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cinderella 2000 (1977)

          Usually, the closest thing to enjoyment that one can derive from watching a movie directed by Al Adamson is laughing at something unintentionally funny—a cheap-looking prop, a nonsensical plot twist, a terrible performance, whatever. Whereas the incompetence of some bad filmmakers is charming because they keep trying to achieve something that’s beyond their ability, Adamson’s brand of cinematic awfulness is mostly just tiresome. In that context, it’s almost heartening to discuss Adamson’s bizarre softcore sci-fi musical Cinderella 2000, because while it is unquestionably as schlocky as anything else bearing his name, at least Cinderella 2000 was designed to induce laughter. So even though very few people will actually laugh with the picture, seeing as how it’s stupid and tacky from beginning to end, at least viewers can laugh at the picture with a clear conscience. Any reaction is better than no reaction, right?
          Shot on a meager budget, Cinderella 2000 takes place in the year 2047, where The Controller (Erwin Fuller), a riff on Orwell’s Big Brother, has outlawed sex outside of government-sanctioned encounters. Naturally, this means the citizenry is horny, so folks break the rules whenever possible. Only vaguely related to this premise is a retelling of the Cinderella story. Wholesome-looking blonde Cindy (Catherine Erhardt) lives with The Widow (Renee Harmon), this film’s avatar for the wicked stepmother in the classic Cinderella story. The Widow’s daughters, black Bella (Bhurni Cowans) and white Stella (Adina Ross), won’t share their male lovers with put-upon Cindy, so she’s even hornier than everyone else. Yet because she’s the heroine, she’s more lonely than lustful, the notion being that she’s a potential savior who can reintroduce the concept of romantic love. Or something like that.
          Anyway, Cindy mopes in the forest one day until a spaceship (!) delivers her Fairy Godfather (Jay B. Larson), a singing-and-dancing queen who croons a number called “We All Need Love.” This is where Cinderella 2000 crosses the line from dopey to deranged. As the Fairy Godfather prances around the forest, he summons forest animals to demonstrate copulation. They appear in the form of two extras wearing leotards and creepy-looking bunny heads, and as the song drags along, these two hump while the soundtrack punctuates each thrust with a bouncy sound effect. Later in the number—which goes on forever—more forest creatures emerge, including a pair of extremely disturbing man-sized flowers.
          The musical style of Cinderella 2000 is all over the place, with some numbers sounding like show tunes and others sounding like R&B bump-and-grinds; the country ditty performed by a robot that’s upset about not being able to screw a computer is particularly cringe-inducing. Complementing the peculiar music is a generally cheap visual aesthetic, with characters wearing silly-looking sparkly costumes and garish makeup. Naturally, the acting is terrible, although the ladies who spend most of their screen time completely or partially naked have attractive figures. As for the film’s smut content, viewers should know better than to expect real erotica from Adamson, who had a special gift for draining the vitality from anything he captured on camera. Ladies writhe atop interchangeable studs, but the resulting imagery is about as hot as some National Geographic stag reel of actual stags.
          Nonetheless, Cinderella 2000 stands out among Adamson’s filmography because even though it’s low-budget crap, it’s ambitious low-budget crap. The movie fails at every single thing it tries, but at least Adamson left his comfort zone.

Cinderella 2000: FREAKY

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