30 August 2016

MICROWAVE MASSACRE. (1983) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




MICROWAVE MASSACRE. (1983) DIRECTED BY WAYNE BERWICK. MUSIC BY LEIF HORVATH. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY KAREN GROSSMAN. STARRING JACKIE VERNON AND CLAIRE GINSBERG. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I groaned a little bit initially when I was given this film to review. I figured that a horror film with this title wasn't exactly going to turn out to be another 'THE EXORCIST' or 'THE SHINING' or 'THE AMITYVILLE HORROR.' Well, I guess it isn't, but I was still pleasantly surprised to find out how brilliantly, blackly funny and outrageous it is just the same. It really goes there, haha.

It's a black comedy/horror movie/ borderline soft porn flick that no-one in their right mind would consider to be in good taste, but it's the best one of these that I've seen in a long time nonetheless. It's kind of like a funny video nasty, if you can imagine that, from a terrific era for video nasties, and it has famously deadpan comedian Jackie Vernon (1924-1987) in the leading role.

He plays Donald, a middle-aged American construction worker whose wife is driving him nuts with her refusal to cook him good solid food for his dinner or give him decent lunches for work anymore. Trouble is, May's got it into her head that she wants to 'classy' up their lives with some fancy-schmancy gourmet cooking, which can only spell trouble for the long-suffering Donald.

It's a bit like the way that sitcom character Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced 'Bouquet') from terrific 'Nineties sitcom KEEPING UP APPEARANCES would have unwittingly tormented her hubby Richard with her constant 'keeping up with the Joneses.'  Remember Hyacinth on the blower?

'The Bouquet residence, the lady of the house speaking...!'

On a culinary level, however, it reminded me a lot of Alfred Hitchcock's superb horror film FRENZY from 1972, a paragraph from my review of which can be seen below:

'Alec McCowen and Vivien Merchant are both superb as Chief Inspector Oxford and his housewife missus. Mrs. Oxford is taking a gourmet cookery course and is using her long-suffering hubby as her guinea pig. The scenes where Oxford has to choke down his wife's vile-looking culinary efforts while pretending to enjoy them provide us with just the right amount of comic relief in this tense horror film.'

There's at least some love remaining between the Chief Inspector and his wife in FRENZY, however, whereas Donald's and May's marriage is clearly all but over. They hate each other's guts in the way in which only long-married couples can manage to do. Familiarity breeds contempt and all that, eh what? Donald himself keeps reminding us that he hasn't had sex since 1962...! The poor guy.

The last straw is probably when May gives Donald an actual whole crab between two slices of bread for his lunch one day, much to the bewilderment of his buddies on the construction site. It doesn't even look as if it's been cooked.Well, that's one of the last straws, anyway.

He's also terribly aggrieved that May's bought a giant microwave (everything was bigger in those days!) in order to produce the dreadful new meals all the quicker, and in bigger quantities. One night, he flat-out refuses to eat the dinner May's cooked for him and demands a plain old no-nonsense honest-to-goodness baloney and cheese sandwich instead. The ensuing row has catastrophic results. Well, for one of 'em, anyway...

You can tell from this film why the late great Jackie Vernon was known as 'the King of Deadpan' in comedy circles. He delivers his gruesome, gory lines with relish and expert timing and the funny lines just keep coming right at you like a freight train hurtling down the track at top speed.

Donald commits the most illegal and immoral acts right in front of us, the viewers, with the same nonchalance with which he'd pick up his dry-cleaning or make himself a 'cuppa cawfee,' as those nice folks over in America might say.This apparent air of good-humoured casualness is part of what makes him such a good comic actor.
 
The fun and games Donald gets up to in the second half of this short enough film has to be seen to be believed. The film has pretty girls and perky titties and bouncy butt-cheeks going for it as well as Vernon's comedy lines and Donald wastes no time in getting to grips with all of the aforementioned body parts, no pun intended. Or was it? Intended, I mean! You'll have to watch the film yourselves to find out, guys and gals.

Yes, sure, this gory, sexy, literally blood-soaked movie has a few red herrings and loopholes in it but otherwise I'd call it a virtuoso comedy performance from one man, Jackie Vernon. His two work buddies Philip and Roosevelt are pretty funny too, especially when they're all togged out in their 'going out on the town' gear. I generally love 'Seventies clobber but Jesus Christ Almighty, their clothes are out of this world, man...!

The funniest scene has got to be when Donald consults the pyschiatrist, the doddery old Dr. Gestalp,
about his weird, sexually deviant urges when it comes to women. Also, I would have liked to have seen something happen between Donald and the sexy blonde neighbour but I suppose that Donald gets up to more than enough in the film as it is...!

By the way, MICROWAVE MASSACRE is out now in a brilliant Dual Format Edition (Blu-Ray and DVD) courtesy of ARROW FILMS and there are plenty of extra features in there to make you feel like you're getting good value for money. I like when that happens. And by the way again, keep watching the credits at the end of the film as there's a wee culinary treat at the end for you.

I'm off now for my dinner. Oh wait, I forgot that I can never eat solid food again after watching this brilliantly disgusting, stomach-churning film. Oh well. I could probably stand to lose a few pounds anyway...

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com





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