Let the experiment begin!
"Turn Down Your Lights (Where applicable)"Experiment #323 ~ THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU (1969)
Original Air Date: January 18, 1992
Studio: Balcazar Producciones Cinematograficas
Starring: Christopher Lee, Tsai Chin, Maria Perschy, Howard Marion-Crawford, Gunther Stoll, Rosalba Neri, Jose Manuel Martin, Richard Greene
Directed By: Jesus Franco (Jess Franco)
Theatrical Running Time: 95 Minutes
Tagline: "HE'S BACK!!! THE WORLD'S MOST EVIL MAN WITH A FIENDISH PLAN OF CONQUEST!"Film Synopsis:
The evil genius Dr. Fu Manchu (Christopher Lee
) returns to the big screen, to once again pair wits against Scotland Yard Commissioner Nayland Smith (Richard Greene
) and his assistant Dr. Petrie (Howard Marion-Crawford
). This time Fu plans to dominate the world by freezing the Earth's oceans. He first sinks an oceanliner sailing in the Caribbean by causing it to collide with an iceberg.
However, Fu's methods have not been perfected. While demonstrating his nefarious plan Fu's equipment overheats (ironically), his lair is destroyed, and he must flee to find a new location for his secret headquarters. Fu's daughter Lin Tang (Tsai Chin
) enlists the aid of an Istanbul gangster named Omar Pasha (Jose Manuel Martin
) and Omar's prized female assassin Lisa (Rosalba Neri
). Together, they take over the palace of a provincial governor.
Fu's henchmen double-cross Pasha's thugs and kills them all but keeps Lisa alive, infatuated with her. Omar escapes to fight another day.
Fu sets out to perfect his freezing technique (which includes using the palaces' vast stores of opium), but needs crucial information from dying Dr. Heracles (Gustavo Re
) (a complete Burt Young lookalike), whose theories have made the protoype ice weapon possible. Fu kidnaps Heracles' PCP (primary care physician) Dr. Kessler (Gunther Stoll
) and his assistant Ingrid (Maria Perschy
Kessler is ordered to perform a heart transplant, keeping Heracles alive long enough to garner his secrets. If he refuses, Ingrid will be tortured to death. Nayland and Petrie track Fu to Istanbul, where a local police captain tells them how to contact Omar Pasha, who obviously wants to rescue Lisa, as well as exact revenge against Fu for the double-cross. They all team up to stop Fu Manchu's evil scheme of world domination..Intro:
The 'Satellite of Love High School Marching Band'. Yep, that's pretty much how I'd describe it. Dressed in shako hats and rank cords the band performs an original song (explaining the show's premise) with Tom Servo on saxophone, Crow on glockenspiel, Gypsy on bass drum and drum major Joel leading them all with his streamer adorned mace.Invention Exchange:
Joel is caught off-guard by the Mads at the invention exchange. While Joel regroups, Crow and Servo present their own new invention. "A new long-distance telephone transducer that operates at 7ohms, and a nominal temperature range of 0 to 50 degrees celsius." "Yeah, it's a marked improvement over the old configuration that often required up to 25 seconds to connect Trans-Continental signals, and it does so at 1/2 the cost." "And it's solid-state!" Joel rushes back onto the bridge and recycles (once more), the 'Big Head'.
Dr. F. and Frank present the Joe 'Stinky' Besser bomb. "Now, you can turn any of your friends into that 'loveable buffoon who was a lisping man-child', long before it was fashionable."Host Segments:Host 1:
Crow emotionally reads a self-penned conservative editorial titled "The Miss Saigon Syndrome", which condemns the Hollywood practice of casting caucasians in non-caucasian roles. Some examples cited are 'The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao' in which, "all seven faces were played by the white, musical theater actor Tony Randall! That's seven examples right there!". Charlie Chan... "a Swede named Warner Oland!". 'Teahouse of the August Moon'... "why, it's your precious method actor Marlon Brando!". Crow and Tom eventually break down into tears and Joel chastizes the Mads for their evil-doing. Dr. F. and Frank gloat, seeing such great pain being inflicted upon their test subjects, then laugh maniacally until Frank suffers an apparent heart attack!Host 2:
Joel and the Bots are the 'Shriner Flying Carpet Squad' (probably inspired by all the red fez hats in today's experiment). Once more, Tom breaks down into tears and Joel chastizes the Mads. The Mads are so very, very happy that they decide to order out. (Frank
): "...I was thinking more along the lines of one of those delightful stuffed pesto pizzas from McGuardo's". (Dr. F.
): "You fly, I'll buy!". (Frank
): "Solid, Jackson! heh,heh,heh!!!".Host 3:
The Bots are now completely disconsulate. Joel tries to cheer them up with another in his series of 'artist's renditions', this time... 'The Life of Fu Manchu'. The effort falls flat and the SOL is in despair. Dr. F. is so thrilled, he tells Frank... "there's some pie in the kitchen. Why don't you go slice us up a couple of nice big slabs of French Silk, hmm? Oh... and don't skimp!". Gleefully, Frank salutes and responds "YES, SIR!!!".End:
Joel starts to read a fan letter, but the spirit of the SOL seems to be broken. The Mads celebrate with a toast, but Joel and the Bots appear to be rallying back! (Joel
): "You haven't won Dr. Forrester, you've lost. And I feel sorry for you. You're nothing but a sad little man in a hole in the ground, that can only feel power by hurting others. Well we've won because we survived, and we survived because, well... we're Robinsons!... roughly. And that's what Robinsons do is survive!... basically. And you know what...if you think it's so easy, you should give it a try once! Yeah! You should try to watch the movie sometime!!".
The Mads are feeling totally confident with Dr. F. declaring, "I'll beat you at my own experiment!". Frank and Dr. F. (painfully) attempt to 'riff a segment of film, and fail miserably in quicker than one minute.
WOO! The Mads get a 'GOTCHA!' from the Satellite of Love. Frank gets his head put in a wood vise.Stinger:
Dog pile on the castle guard.Items of Note:
~ Some nice callbacks. Most noteably...
~ "NO!!" ('Cave Dwellers ~ Experiment #301'
~ Servo does music from ('Catalina Caper ~ Experiment #204'
~ "Glen Manning, get off that dam!" ('Amazing Colossal Man ~ Experiment #309'
) Personal Notes:
~ Frank does an admirable Joe Besser
impression. (If there can truly be such a thing).
~ Again with the Big Head! Sheesh!
~ Today's film is the fifth (and last) in a series released in the late 1960's by producer Harry Alan Towers
~ The character of Fu Manchu has been portrayed on the silver screen as early as the late 1920's.
~ In Reel 1, the sinking of the oceanliner is footage lifted from the 1958 film about the Titanic, "A Night to Remember".
~ Its interesting that Crow, during his Host 1 rant, singled out Warner Oland
. I most remember Sidney Toler
as portraying Charlie Chan.
~ A 'Rosco' is an industrial 'fog making' machine. The 'Riffs':
~ (ship sinking
) - (Crow
): "Women, children, spacemen, Indians and sort of idealized representations of 16th century Polish merchants first!".
): "Rula Lenska as 'The Turkish Lieutenant's Woman'!".
): "Gee, I don't recognize him, but the 'fez
' is familiar!".
): "Chester A. Arthur!. Woo!, Chester just shot us some buffalo
): "Bob Hope is
... 'The Mechanic'!".
): "I think I've figured out what this movie is all about, guys! Dry ice, rosco fog and blood!".
Pop culture references ranging from Bette Midler, Maxwell House coffee, David Byrne, Carnival Cruises and 'Annie Hall', as well as They Might Be Giants, Bob Dylan, Ivanna Trump and Charles Bronson.
Probably unwatchable on it's own, underlit, over-acted, and apparently un-directed, but with unrelenting 'riffs, the gang at BBI pulls it all together for a surprisingly nice offering, almost 20 years after it's original airing on 'Comedy Central'. As Tom Servo puts it..."I think this film qualifies as the "Dark Night of the Soul", referring to one's feelings of loneliness or desperation. Some really great 'riffs in a truly adverse situation. Kudos to 'BBI'. One more to go in 'Season 3'!Rating:
3-1/2 'Marble-mouthed British accents' out of 5.
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