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Yup, make no mistake about it, this one stinks, and stinks bad! Yes, for every good flavor, there must also be one that is rotten, and has to be thrown out with the rest of the trash. Thing is, I never expected it to be one of Frank Henenlotter's Sexy Shockers (Vol. 57)! But the truth must be told (as Criswell would say)!
The story centers around the infamous Dr. J whose great grandfather was seemingly the man! Now would that be Fredric March, Spencer Tracy, Ralph Bates, or maybe even Tony Perkins? Which one dammit! Ah, doesn't matter. Fact is he is now conducting experiments that center on bringing out the animal instincts of man. Well he does achieve these results, but they produce some top notch martial arts performers! Yup, we are treated to lots of scenes with some of the top fighters of the karate/kung-fu skill. Add to that the fact that his sister is a lobotomized fool, and the women of his dreams rejects him, and you can see how this guy is messed up. By mixing the horror element (weird experiments) with chop-socky, director James Wood had an interesting idea to work with. But the problem is, he blew it!
The lead of Dr. J as portrayed by James Mathers (...as the Beaver!) Is simply the worst acting job I think I've witnessed. I don't mind actors who act over the top (unless they're being directed by Stanley Kubrick), but when they do it ad nauseam its gets mighty irritating. The ‘ol doc goes wacky with every single scene (especially after he has been injected with his own serum), and even when he is in control, his voice over narration is so mono-tone and lackluster, you just want him to shut up! A line spoken in the film pretty much sums up my opinion of his acting..."What are you blubbering about, you simpleton!". Add to that some terrible supporting characters like his assistant Boris (who is a joke unto himself) and you have one helluva mess. The fight scenes are the only thing that was keeping me from pressing the fast forward button. But even then, they are staged so clumsily, you wonder how they even managed to look real (the fact that they seemed shot in a basement doesn't help!).
This mess should've been kept in the doc's dungeon! I
can see how Frank Henenlotter may have thought that some fans of bad cinema
would eat this up, but I can't find anything positive to say about it.
I could go on and on about the faults, but that is a moot point. Avoid
this one like the Dr.'s serum folks, it is bound to give you temporary
(or even permanent) insanity.
- Dave Kosanke