A Word Before We Go On...

Long before I even thought about attempting this inane quest to see every single movie in the Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, there was It Came From Hollywood. Critical opinion about the movie be damned, I loved this goofy flick in much the same manner that I loved the PEofF: it introduced me to literally dozens of science-fiction and horror films that I had yet to see, given my limited technological means up to that point in time.

The film is a collection of B-movie clips broken up by skits starring some of the top comedy talent of the day: Gilda Radner, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd and Cheech y Chong, and was released upon a sleepy public late in 1982. I say "sleepy", because it seems that much of the world seems to not have noticed it, but the film represented to me an awakening moment; in fact, it was this film that drove me to purchase the PEofF, needing a resource book to supplement my then nascent knowledge of the B-movie world. Subsequent cable and VHS viewings (many, many subsequent viewings, to be precise) solidified the schlocky imagery in my head far more quickly than viewings of the actual films could, even though the comedic slices swiftly started to erode in appeal to me (except for the stoner pair, whom I still find amusing in their section -- as always with Cheech and Chong, it's not so much the jokes that were funny, but the manner in which they were delivered).

It Came From Hollywood was supposedly built around the interest in a popular book at the time, The Golden Turkey Awards by Harry and Michael Medved, who acted as consultants on its filming, though they were highly dissatisfied with the results and pounded mercilessly on the film in their later books. I did have the Medveds' book at the time of this movie's release, so I must give it some credit for my burgeoning interest, even if the book is a rather dry affair written by a pair whom you would think would love this stuff, but spend most of the book tearing Hollywood apart for even considering making most of these films, harmless fluff or not. The book comes off as not so much a "look at this silly movie -- ya gotta see this!" type of book than as a catalogue of supposed cultural crimes for which the film industry should answer -- as if someone must pay for creating The Creeping Terror. (Michael's post-Turkey assignments as a conservative radio host and Christian movie reviewer seem to be quite telling in retrospect.) Whatever the Turkeys' -- I mean, Medveds' faults, the book is a fine resource when looking for information on the films dragged over the coals within its pages. Just beware of the fake review. (In case you actually find a copy of it, I won't tell you what the phony entry is...)

The problems with the Golden Turkey Awards also catch It Came From Hollywood from behind: the film takes much of the same tack as the book, even with the phrase "Can you believe that for this, too, we have Hollywood to blame?" invoked incredulously by Radner at one point, a tone which is struck repeatedly in the film. The movie scene in question, that of an unapologetic racist musical sequence in Heaven with giant watermelons and Al Jolson in his ever-present blackface, can, if you wish to do so, perhaps be blamed on Hollywood, but many of the other scenes CAN'T... a good portion of the films have nothing to do with Hollywood, unless you speak of the film industry at large as an all-encompassing definition as "Hollywood" (a concept, unfortunately, to which many people do ascribe). A good portion of the low-budget sci-fi and horror flicks were made well outside the realm of Hollywood's grasp. (Eventual distribution by big film studios doesn't count as "Hollywood" -- what matters is who "made" it.) A good number of the scenes are from Japanese films, and a couple come from Europe, so it seems that, indeed, that larger definition of "Hollywood" is in use. I find this a dangerous idea, especially when there are so many media watchdogs that do want to take Hollywood for task over the "junk" they are creating. If you are going to blame someone for something, get your facts straight before the accusation. Why, it's like accusing a country of having weapons of mass destruction when there is no proof that they actually possess them. Sure, that country is guilty of mass genocide and other horrendous crimes, but when you invade on trumped up charges, you come off looking like a lying dick in the end.

The chief crime of It Came From Hollywood has bothered me since I first saw it: it seems to lump all science-fiction and horror films into the "bad" category, whether they are genuinely egregious examples of cinematic dreck, or a recognized classic like The Day the Earth Stood Still or an Oscar-winning film like George Pal's War of the Worlds (of course, just because it has won an Oscar doesn't necessarily make it a good film, just a popular or overrated one). I will agree that most of the films on the list of included scenes are silly beyond compare (and since when this a crime?), but there are a handful of decent, if not excellent, films jammed in amongst the sublimely ridiculous, which little regard for context or quality. If it fits the category that the host comics are introducing, then any scene from any film of the correct genre will apparently do. And all scenes are up for equal ridicule: I don't have a problem shooting sacred cows, but the point that is pressed by this film is that these films are all "stupid", "bad" or both. Which some of them aren't...

After all of these faults, though, I still will never be able to dismiss this film. This is because, despite my anger at It Came From Hollywood's intent and construction, its actual effect was to make me nothing but absolutely intrigued in each and every film contained within it. Even the most bottom-dwelling scene caused my eyebrows to raise in immense interest, and for a good many years, my focus was on, if not collecting all of the films in its roster, to at least see every film with a scene in it. (You can see the results of my search at the bottom of this post.) Yes, I had seen much of the Universal roster to that point, as well as a bulk of the Hammer catalogue and most of Harryhausen's films. I was already knee-deep into my early video rental days, and I was already a regular
lurking figure in the science-fiction and horror sections. But I must give credit to It Came From Hollywood for, perhaps accidentally, truly taking me to that next step in my geekdom.

The capper on all of this? Well, I did have a cable-recorded copy of It Came From Hollywood for many years, but I never actually got around to purchasing a prerecorded copy. Then DVD hit, and I felt for sure that I would see the film in that format before too long. A while back, Paramount announced the release of the film on disc, but then shelved the release, it is rumored, because clearances for all the film clips would cost more than it would be worth to the studio to release it. (You can see the proposed DVD cover to the right.) So, the project was dead. And now, the reason for this post, is that I have given up on the DVD at last, and purchased a real VHS copy of the film. In 2006.

Feels like 1982 to me...

Films with Scenes Used in IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD (1982)
COLOR GUIDE: Red: Have It on DVD Green: Have or Had It on VHS Orange: Seen It

The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) Ape (1976) Atomic Rulers (1964) Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978) Attack of the Puppet People (1958) Bat Men of Africa (1966) Battle in Outer Space (1959) The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) Beginning of the End (1957) Black Belt Jones (1974) The Blob (1958) Blonde Savage (1947) The Brain from Planet Arous (1957) The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962) The Bride and the Beast (1958) Bride of the Monster (1955) The Cool and the Crazy (1958) Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) The Creeping Terror (1964) Curse of the Faceless Man (1958) The Cyclops (1957) Daughter of the Jungle (1949) The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) The Deadly Mantis (1957) Don't Knock the Rock (1956) Dragstrip Girl (1957) Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956) The Evil Brain from Outer Space (1964) Fiend Without a Face (1958) Fire Maidens from Outer Space (1956) First Man Into Space (1959) The Fly (1958) The Flying Saucer (1950) Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974) Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965) Frankenstein's Daughter (1958) From Hell It Came (1957) The Giant Claw (1957) Glen or Glenda (1953) The Hideous Sun Demon (1959) High School Confidential! (1958) High School Hellcats (1958) The Horror of Party Beach (1964) House on Haunted Hill (1959) The Hypnotic Eye (1960) I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957) The Incredible Melting Man (1977) The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? (1964) Invasion of the Neptune Men (1961) Isle of Forgotten Sins (1943) The Killer Shrews (1959) The Lost City (1935) The Loves of Hercules (1960) Maniac (1934) Marihuana (1936) Married Too Young (1962) Mars Needs Women (1967) Matango (1963) The Monster and the Ape (1945) Monster from Green Hell (1958) Musical Movieland (1944) Octaman (1971) The Party Crashers (1958) Perils of Nyoka (1942) Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) Prince of Space (1959) Reefer Madness (1936) Reptilicus (1961) Robot Monster (1953) Rock Baby, Rock It (1957) Rocket Attack, U.S.A. (1961) Runaway Daughters (1956) Shake, Rattle & Rock! (1956) The Slime People (1963) Son of Godzilla (1967) The Space Children (1958) Street Corner (1953) Sunny Side Up (1929) Teenage Monster (1958) Teenagers from Outer Space (1959) The Thing with Two Heads (1972)The Tingler (1959) The Trollenberg Terror (1958) The Violent Years (1956) The War of the Worlds (1953) The Weird World of LSD (1967) White Pongo [The White Gorilla] (1945) The X from Outer Space (1967) Wonder Bar (1934) Yongary, Monster from the Deep (1967) Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952)

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