“A LOVE STRANGER THAN KING KONG!”
With “Schlock”, writer/director John Landis brings us a love story that transcends the boundaries of nature and good taste…” I just watched it for the first time and I must say that I am at a loss for words.
The mighty prehistoric ape Schlocktropus has emerged from hiding to begin a full-scale rampage across a quiet Southern Californian suburb. Everyone is at a loss as to what to do including the police and the army and the body count is rising. But when Schlocktropus encounters a kindly blind woman (Eliza Garrett) who sees beyond his ugly face and body, Schlock finds a chance at redemption.
This is no big-budget movie and in fact it was shot in just twelve days and on a very tiny budget. It is an irreverent satire on monster movies and love stories and it is totally outrageous and … great fun. Schlock is the link between the creature features of yesteryear and its creators’ subsequent varied and celebrated careers which includes some really good films.
John Landis not only wrote and directed but he is Schlock and spends much of the film running around in a cheap-but-impressive monkey suit designed by Rick Baker. The film was made in 1971 and tells the story of the title creature, a missing-link sort of fellow who runs amok and terrorizes a California town. The film shows us many of the traits that would lead Landis to become a top maker of films for and about frat boys. Grounded in Landis’ abiding love of silly gags, cheap monkey suits, monster movies, inside jokes, and women with large breasts, “Schlock” contains many of the gags and themes found in such later Landis classics as “Kentucky Fried Movie”. Unfortunately, though, while Landis’ debut is clearly the work of the same smart-ass college film geek who would go on to make smart, funny films like “Animal House” and “An American Werewolf In London”, it also shows that Landis needed artistic collaborators with more to offer than just use of their own rooms for interior shots. The jokes essentially stop coming about 20 minutes into the film making us think that the film was made up on the spot and as they went along.
“Schlock” is a terrible movie. As I said, I had never seen this film before so I had no idea what to expect. I came away pleased. This movie is not for everyone. Landis pokes fun at numerous sources way before it was popular to do so. The acting is so impossibly bad that it is always funny and one opening scene with four teenagers discovering Schlock in his lair is funnier than any Scary Movie or other horror parody could hope to be. What makes this film so entertaining is that everyone involved has talent and they knew how to laugh at themselves.
Landis uses many interesting camera setups and angels throughout the film to maintain interest. The active use of first person shots and shadows keep you interested in even the slowest moments. Even the worst of jokes is made funny by the perfect timing that Landis has. They are played out long enough that regardless of how short or extended the take, our only reaction is to laugh. Landis also does a great job as the prehistoric creature Schlock. Buried underneath Baker’s makeup, his performance has emotion and mischievousness that makes you love the character.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original lossless mono soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio commentary by writer/director John Landis and makeup artist Rick Baker
New video interview with author and critic Kim Newman
Birth of a Schlock, a 2017 video interview with John Landis
Archival video interview with cinematographer Bob Collins
1972, 1979 and 1982 US theatrical trailers
US radio spots
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Joe Bob Briggs