Last summer’s box-office disappointment Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter hits DVD and Blu-ray today — just in time for the inevitable “Where’s the vampires?” jokes w/r/t the upcoming Spielberg Lincoln biopic (and seriously, you guys, just keep those coming). So we should probably take a moment to pause and reflect on the fact that they actually went and made Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a film whose mere concept is so utterly insane that, yes, of course it’s a real thing. If you’re looking to catch up with AL:VH on home video, it might not be a bad idea to pair it up with some of the other films that, against all notions of good sense and taste, are real things that actually exist. We’ve got some suggestions after the jump.
FDR: American Badass! THE HIGH CONCEPT: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, werewolf hunter
Riding the AL:VH revisionist history train last summer was this wildly overdone camp comedy, in which FDR (who contracted polio from a werewolf bite) uses his souped-up wheelchair to single-handedly end WWII by hunting down Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito — all of whom are werewolves, by the way.
They Saved Hitler’s Brain THE HIGH CONCEPT: Pretty much right there in the title.
Originally called Madmen of Mandoras, then given its more on-the-nose title and padded with poorly matched new footage, this 1968 turkey concerned the recovery and preservation (for future Nazi uprising) of Hitler’s head — which, according to The Golden Turkey Awards, is “a gooey, waxed face poured into a pickle jar” that “shrieks away in a bogus German accent that couldn’t even past muster on Hogan’s Heroes.”
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats THE HIGH CONCEPT: See, it’s a bed, and it eats people.
Death Bed (which you saw a bit of in yesterday’s supercut of ridiculous horror movie villains) would have probably languished in total obscurity, were it not for the efforts of our friend Patton Oswalt. His 2007 album Werewolves and Lollipops includes the four-minute piece above, in which he discusses the long-forgotten horror (sort of?) film, shot over several years by writer/producer/director George Barry (astonishingly, the only film he ever made!) but not released until its belated DVD debut in 2004. It concerns a large four-poster bed possessed by a demon, which chomps up any nap-seekers and love-makers that dare stumble into it.
Chatterbox! THE HIGH CONCEPT: Deep Throat, in reverse
In 1972, the porn film Deep Throat became a national sensation — less for its story (of a woman with ladyparts in her throat) than for its timing as part of the porno chic movement. Five years later, director Tom DeSimone devised a sex comedy that flipped the script: Chatterbox told the story of a hairdresser who discovers that she has an extra voice box, erm, down there. That voice has a personality of its own, and wouldn’t you know it, said personality wants to go into show business — which leads to cameos by the likes of Rip Taylor and Professor Irwin Corey. Yes, this movie actually happened; what’s more, the premise was given a sex change and done again, in the 1988 talking-penis comedy Me and Him.
Theodore Rex THE HIGH CONCEPT: A buddy cop movie — with a dinosaur!
The buddy cop flick had gone through all sorts of iterations — a black cop and a white cop! A cop and a convict! A Russian cop and an American cop! — so it would only make sense to pair up a human and dinosaur, right? Well, it would only make sense in the aftermath of Jurassic Park’s gigantic grosses. A $5 million payday was enough to sell Whoopi Goldberg on the dubious concept, though she later wised up (or, more likely, sobered up) and tried to back out of the verbal agreement. Producer Richard Gilbert Abramson slapped Goldberg with a lawsuit, so she agreed to do the film (for a total paycheck of $7 million), though she certainly plays the role like an actor held hostage. Shockingly, test audiences ran gagging from early screenings, so the $33 million movie went straight-to-video — the most expensive picture ever to do so.
The Terror of Tiny Town THE HIGH CONCEPT: A rootin’ tootin’ Western musical extravaganza — with a cast full of little people
A year before The Wizard of Oz, this Povery Row program filler employed dozens of Hollywood’s small-in-stature for an effort that, as The Golden Turkey Awards notes, “remains in a class by itself in terms of bizarre tastelessness.” Directed by bad-movie ace Sam Newfield (director of such MST3K favorites as I Accuse My Parents and Lost Continent), Terror puts its diminutive cast through the standard oater paces, but with such wacky touches as actors walking under (rather than through) saloon doors, or riding around on Shetland ponies.
Blackenstein THE HIGH CONCEPT: Classic horror meets blaxpoitation
William A. Levey’s 1973 film wasn’t the first to try and meld horror with the black exploitation movement of the early ’70s — the year before had wrought Blacula, after all. But the acting talent of William Marshall in the title role made that film at least somewhat credible; Blackenstein, advertised with the tagline “To Stop This Mutha Takes One Bad Brutha,” offered no such relief. It tells the story of a young black medic named “Dr. Stein” who sews a dismembered vet back together, with predictable results. It’s not the silliest horror movie on our list, though…
Deafula THE HIGH CONCEPT: A vampire movie told entirely in sign language
Yep, really. This 1975 black-and-white horror effort from director Peter Weschberg begins with a disclaimer that it was made for deaf and hard of hearing audiences, and that although a voice track will be offered for hearing viewers, sign language “is totally visual with a unique grammatical structure.” And then we plunge into a tale of two detectives on the trail of a vampire, in which every single actor communicates via sign language. Except for the character who is missing his hands, which is conveyed by the tin cans on his hands. Yep. Really.
Matilda THE HIGH CONCEPT: Being the uproarious adventures of a boxing kangaroo
Boxing movies were all the rage in the late 1970s, thanks to the box office windfall and Oscar success of Stallone’s original Rocky. There was the inevitable Rocky II, the Barbara Streisand-Ryan O’Neal effort The Main Event, Scorsese’s Raging Bull… and then there was Matilda. This 1978 film from Albert S. Ruddy, producer of (no kidding) The Godfather, concerned the rise of a 6′ 1″ boxing kangaroo. Elliot Gould and Robert Mitchum co-starred in the expensive flop, which was marketed as a family comedy — even though, as The Golden Turkey Awards notes, “any normal child could tell that the celebrated Matilda is nothing more than an actor walking around inside an outrageously bogus kangaroo suit.”
Pink Angels THE HIGH CONCEPT: It’s a biker movie — but they’re gay!
Biker movies were ubiquitous in the late ’60s and early ’70s, thanks to the highly profitable The Wild Angels, Hell’s Angels on Wheels, and (especially) Easy Rider. But as the biker movie cycle began to sputter, exploitation filmmakers began looking for new angles, and that’s how we ended up with Pink Angels, a stunningly stupid oddity from 1972. The story: the titular gang is a group of six San Francisco hair dressers (we’re not making this up), roaring down the coast on their way to a Hollywood drag ball. Shenanigans ensue, each more swishily stomach-churning than the last; some gay audiences have claimed Pink Angels as a landmark of sorts, but it’s mostly just a nightmare of dated stereotypes and limp-wristed “comedy.”
Those are just a few of the movies we can’t believe actually got made — what films would you add to the list?