DIRECTED BY: Herschell Gordon Lewis
FEATURING: Tony McCabe, Elizabeth Lee, William Brooker, Mudite Arums
PLOT: Electrical worker Mitch is horribly disfigured in an accident, acquires psychic powers, and is blackmailed by a hideous hag who promises to restore his looks in exchange for becoming her lover.
WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE APOCRYPHA: It is honestly surprising that we haven’t yet found a way to include the Godfather of Gore among our honorees, although it would be amusing if the movie that did so failed to feature any of his trademark bloodshed or exposed skin. Still, it says a lot that the man responsible for such no-room-for-nuance titles as Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs chose to call this one Something Weird. The combination of ESP, LSD, and witchcraft ladled with heavy doses of terrible acting, barely decorated sets, and herky-jerky editing make Lewis’ titular assessment feel pretty spot-on.
COMMENTS: Before I’ve watched a frame, this movie has me at a disadvantage. Look at that title, practically daring me to leave it off our list. Think you can do my job for me, do you, movie? Well, I’ll be judging whether you’re truly something weird, thank you very much.
It does seem like they’re on to something, though. The first few minutes make a strong case for its peculiarity, with dramatic swings in tone and a schizophrenic mix of characters and locations. The opening credits share the screen with a murder-in-progress. (The interruptions are a mercy, as Lewis offers a credit to seemingly every actor in the film, and possibly a few that aren’t.) This is immediately followed by a karate demonstration in which one untalented black belt lectures another even-less-talented black belt. Their sparring gives way to a different kind of wrestling, in which a couple’s heavy petting leads to the woman’s to declare, “You’re electrifying!,” which gleefully segues into an actual electrocution. Even at this point, there’s room for a quick educational voiceover about the fascinating and totally real world of extrasensory perception before our story can truly begin. It’s a dizzying kickoff.
The actual tale threatens to be a major letdown, as our hero is the newly scarred, newly psychic Mitch (an insufferably smug McCabe). He’s immediately unlikeable, assaulting a nurse, bemoaning his fate, and barely concealing his contempt for the clients who visit his fortune-telling parlor. Fortunately, he meets his match in a hideous crone resembling a “Laugh-In” dancer whose makeup was done by a 5-year-old and whose laughter is so forced that it manages to go past sarcastic and come all the way back around to creepy. We don’t see it happen, but Mitch and his mysterious companion Ellen (the unnamed harridan now in disguise as a beautiful young woman who can’t act) quickly become the toast of the town with their incredible abilities.
Somehow, the story still hasn’t gotten started at this point, because Lewis seems unsure where the focus belongs. Is it Mitch trying to Continue reading APOCRYPHA CANDIDATE: SOMETHING WEIRD (1967)