Friday, May 25, 2012

Alabama's Ghost (Fredric Hobbs, USA, 1972)

I watched Fredric Hobbs' ALABAMA'S GHOST tonight and what a wild and crazy film it is! Wauw, I mean... just... WAUW!!! It's part blaxploitation/crazy voodoo/magic/supernatural/ghost/what-have-you film all mixed into one. There's an insane Nazi scientist too (a woman this time). I'm not even gonna try and review it or explain the story-line but I'll just reprint FRED ADELMAN's (RIP) review from CRITICAL CONDITION here:

ALABAMA'S GHOST (1972) - When Alabama (Christopher Brooks) accidentally drives a forklift through a wall in the basement of San Francisco's famed Earthquake McGoon's nightclub, he finds a hidden passageway that leads to a room that contains all the possessions of "World's Greatest Magician" Carter The Great (E. Kerrigan Prescott), who mysteriously died years before.

Alabama finds a box that contains the address of Granny (Ken Granthan), Carter's "sister". The box also contains some magical herb (called "raw zeta"), which he and Granny smoke in a pot pipe. Alabama is forced to team up with Zoerae (Peggy Browne), Granny's assistant, as he wants to become a master magician using Carter's found possessions. This leads Alabama on a weird journey that includes vampires, robots, voodoo ceremonies, ghosts, rock music, go-go dancers, a disappearing elephant, a biker gang, a disembodied heart and the occasional drooling fanatic.

Alabama puts on magic shows at Earthquake McGoon's, billing himself as "Alabama, King Of The Cosmos", to packed houses. He is picked-up by promoter Otto Max (Steven Kent Browne), who tells Alabama, "Surrealism is in. Surrealism is where it's at!" Otto books him on a tour across the United States, where he achieves much acclaim. Things start going wrong for Alabama when one of his female assistants is severely injured while he performs a sword trick (she also has two puncture wounds on her neck). More accidents happen which leads up to the grand finale: A world-wide televised showing of Alabama doing Carter's "disappearing elephant act", which will have dire consequences on anyone who watches it. How it ends: I'll never tell. I've barely scratched the surface on this off-the-wall, rarely-seen supernatural thriller.

Director/producer/writer Fredric Hobbs (ROSELAND - 1970; GODMONSTER OF INDIAN FLATS - 1973) has crafted an intricate, multi-layered film which can only be described as one-of-a-kind. Hobbs was way ahead of his time, kind of a David Lynch of the 70's. ALABAMA'S GHOST veers off into many different directions, but never disappoints the viewer. Watch it straight or stoned; it doesn't matter. It's a facinating experience no matter what state you're in. E. Kerrigan Prescott, Christopher Brooks and Steven Kent Brown have appeared in all three of Hobb's above mentioned films. Also starring Karen Ingentron as Dr. Caligula, Ann Weldon as Mama-bama, Ann Wagner Ward as Marilyn Midnight and Neena the elephant. With special appearances by musical groups The Turk Murphy Jazz Band and The Landing Zone and improvational group The Cockettes.

I've unofficially heard that Hobbs gave up film to become a sculptor after making GODMONSTER. That's filmmaking's loss. This film screams out for a re-release as it is now only available on VHS on the OOP ThrillerVideo label hosted by Elvira, who interrupts the film midway to do some of her shtick. Anchor Bay should do a restoration and release it on DVD so it can get the cult following it deserves. Believe it or not, this film was Rated PG when originally released. This is the strangest PG film you will ever view!

The copy I watched wasn't the VHS Fred mentioned but a bootleg DVD from ZDD in the UK. Their "release" uses an old TV broadcast as source. Fortunately that version came without the ridiculous comments from Elvira. I'm fully aware a lot of fans, especially in the US, are fond of Elvira (she does have nice tits) but I really can't stand someone making a name for themselves by mocking the psychotronic films I love. Boobs or no boobs (besides she's a third rate clone of Vampira and without the latter's '50s sex appeal). I certainly hope ALABAMA'S GHOST is gonna get a proper DVD release some day. More people need to see this wild & crazy psychotronic masterpiece.