SHOCK CINEMA
HOME PAGE
SUBSCRIPTIONS
AND BACK ISSUES
FILM REVIEW
ARCHIVE
Hundreds of Reviews from Past Issues!
AD RATES
MAGAZINE
REVIEW INDEX

An A-Z list of SC's
Print Reviews
SHOCKING
LINKS

Our Favorite Sites for Cinematic Dementia and Fringe Culture
SHOCK CINEMA
FACEBOOK PAGE
'Chirashi'
MOVIE POSTERS

A Gallery of Japanese Film Posters
SHOCK CINEMA
BLOG
MISTER KEYES
At the Flicks and Shit
SHOCK CINEMA
Film Favorites

"Some of the best
bizarre film commentary
going... with sharp, no-nonsense verdicts."
-
Manohla Dargis,
The Village Voice
 
"One of the few
review zines you
can actually read
and learn from...
You need this."
-
Joe Bob Briggs 
 
"Whenever you
see a film critic,
pick up a brick and throw it at him...
No great damage
can be done
to his head."
-
Jonas Mekas 
 

 Need additional
 information?
 E-mail us at:

 ShockCin@aol.com















CRACKING UP (1977).

This seemingly-forgotten comedy had its world premiere in Champaign, Illinois, with a reported seven customers per screening. I'm not surprised. But two decades later, this hit-and-mostly-miss feature is awash with recognizable faces, in some of their earliest gigs. Misguided from its first moments, this strives to be a GROOVE TUBE-styled success, but is such a ragged concoction that only isolated moments make the grade... When a massive earthquake sends California sliding into the ocean, cities are gutted and dead bodies litter the landscape -- so bring on the laughs! The Firesign Theatre's Phil Proctor and Peter Bergman (infinitely funnier in J-MEN FOREVER) play newscasters Walter Concrete and Barbara Halters, who cover the chaos and provide a framework for leaden comedy sketches and commercial parodies which have little to do with the quake. One amusing exception is the Pasadena Rose Bowl Parade, which now consists of injured, moaning survivors, dragged along by nurses. Fred Willard (along with his Ace Trucking Company pals) turns up in a tasteless bit about a job interview conducted by the handicapped and plays a posh maitre d' at a roadside diner. Other skits include Edie McClurg and pre-AIRPLANE flamer Steve Stucker. The best moments are courtesy of Credibility Gap members Harry Shearer, Michael McKean and David L. Lander. A (pre-Squiggy) Lander hosts a Polish talk-show, with a hair-netted (pre-Lenny) McKean as his barely sentient guest -- an Irish-Pole (who's both stupid and drunk). Later, Lander and Shearer play a reporter and a concert promoter, doing a hilarious send-up of "Who's on first?" (substituting the bands The Who, The Guess Who, and Yes). Finally, McKean and Shearer take up pre-SPINAL TAP instruments, with Lander on vocals during the Illegal Alien Variety Hour. The segues between the skits play like a post-apocalyptic version of LAUGH-IN, while The Tubes' Fee Waybill plays a scientist who surveys the damage and contributes soundtrack tunes like "White Punks on Dope." Directed by Rowby Goren and Chuck Staley (I know... who?), this is a severely mixed bag, pocked with gratuitous nudity and drug humor, in order to garner an R-rating. Oddly enough, CRACKING UP most closely resembles present-day SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE shows, by never knowing when to put a limp skit to rest. Even at only 69 minutes, this celluloid crapshoot needs a good trimming.

© 1998 by Steven Puchalski.