The title MIAMI GOLEM, what images does that evoke?
Any non-Yiddish student of useless information probably has heard
at least the term "Golem." The legend goes something
like this, A Rabbi in the city of Prague wanted to help out the
working class citizens who never had a chance to enjoy their lives
or spend time with their children. He wanted to create a servant
for those folks so they might arrive home earlier in the evening
and have time to enjoy life a little more. The Rabbi found instructions
in the Cabbala on how to make this servant. A Golem, that could
be made out of a lump of clay. The Rabbi followed the instructions
and this lump of clay, with the help of three followers was constructed,
the head was rags wrapped together the limbs were tree branches
covered with clay. After a ceremony that involved chanting around
the clay figure it began to glow and long hair and finger and
toe nails sprouted. The Rabbi told the Golem "This is the
city of Prague. The city where my people live. You will help them
do their work and protect them." The Rabbi placed instruction
under the Golem's tongue, each night and the Golem would follow
whatever instructions the man would give. This legend was more
likely than not the inspiration for Mary Shelly's Frankenstein,
it also spawned the 1920 Horror classic THE GOLEM, one of the
first full length horror movies and still damned creepy.
Well, with that info and the huge retired Jewish community down
in Florida, no doubt you figure it might be a modern take on a
well-worn piece of folklore. You'd be terribly wrong, if there's
people of Jewish faith in the film, it's never mentioned, if there's
a big clay, hairy, long toe nailed Golem doing folk's chores and
shit with a piece of paper in his mouth, I missed it. But there's
something, man is there something, something, bad, something ,
.almost, watchable. I said almost.
Dr. Swigert, has been working on something of great importance,
something that will change the course of human history. Dr. Swigert
has discovered a way to create life by mixing some pink goo from
a meteor, with some sort of "chromosome of a DNA strand and
the genetic code," his words not mine. For you layman he's
cloned some life from a meteor shower after doing thousands of
experiments. He has a Petri dish with a couple cells. A big deal,
for a guy with a couple of young assistants and a little lab at
a Miami Junior College. Needless to say this is big news, so big
that top TV reporter Craig Milford, has been sent to interview
the doctor. You heard me Craig "Fucking" MILFORD! Craig
asks a lot of hard hitting questions (like "what will this
new life form mean, Doctor?and "Will it do all the Jew's
chores?") the doctor searches for words, they step on each
others lines and Craig handles the interview like an FM DJ talking
about nuclear physics with a 45-year-old Down's Syndrome sufferer,
basically this scene is so fucking awkward, it's unbearable but
you have to have this fucking information or you miss what the
fucking movie is about. Craig cuts the interview short and informs
the doctor that because he can't just point his camera at the
Petri dish, he has to use his "special apparatus" to
capture the pink goo. Dr. Swigert leaves his ace assistant with
Craig with fond wishes and a "Try not to disappoint a filthy
old Nazi!" Every character that mentions the doctor laughingly
refers to him as the filthy Nazi
why, I'll tell you we never
learn. Craig sets his equipment up and we get some great plot
exposition about Craig being a guy who has settled into a rut
as a TV guy for a tiny station that uses antiquated equipment
and he could be happier. About that same time, a bulbs fizzes
and sparks fly and the cell stops doing what ever it was doing.
But only briefly and when it comes back to life, voices, floating,
globs of goo, heads, hands and other body parts float around the
room while the two of them glare, Craig captures it all with his
camera. When it's over they both discuss whether it actually happened.
To even refer to this sequence as a special effect is giving it
too much credit, so I won't. The both witnessed ghostly images
and crazy dialogue, but neither show signs of giving a shit about
Somewhere else 3 men stand on an airboat in the middle of an
isolated marsh. One of the men is ranting about being sent there
by extraterrestrial forces, that its been confirmed that whatever
Dr. Swigert has been doing in his lab is of "Great Importance."
As he continues to try and convince the 2 guys, one pulls out
a gun and shoots the guy in the back.
Craig takes his shit back to the TV station and watches the playback
on the Moviola, it's all there, once again, indifference to the
whole proceedings, Across town at Swigert's lab, the gunman from
above walks into the lab kills everyone and leaves with the Petri
back to Craig, he's discussing with his Police detective
friend his tape of ghosts as they talk about the 5 killings and
the killing of the UFO guy.
Okay there's a little actually plot, this is the first act of
MIAMI GOLEM. Sounds pretty harmless, really, a cool science project,
UFOs, bad guys who want the creation, a TV reporter who's all
full of piss and vinegar and world altering implications. What
I have to take a few minutes to talk about is HOW HORRID EVERYTHING
ABOUT THIS FIRST ACT IS. I felt like I was watching secret code
being translated the dialog was so poor and so poorly delivered.
Craig, brought into being by the much adored David Warbeck, is
so fucking cocky and self-assured it reminds you of what hanging
with Bruce Willis on blow must feel like. Warbeck had a full
FAB PRESS book on his career published a few years back, I
love FAB PRESS and the
book is incredible (I believe it is out of print) but his only
real claim to fame is the lead in Fulci's wonder THE BEYOND. Warbeck
is praised far and wide by Italian horror fans
tell you something, he is bad, I mean terrible, God bless him
he's dead now, and his resume is nothing if not impressive for
the sheer amount of exploitation films from Italy and the US,
that he was in. From the fairly enjoyable BLACKSNAKE to his last
picture, RAZOR BLADE SMILE, Warbeck did his dead level best to
be all he could be
and that was a less talented John Saxon.
A I said his book is an enjoyable read, and Warbeck made no bones
about the quality of the pictures he was in. Fans of Italian genre
pictures seem to hold his work in reverence because of the amount
of so-called great directors he worked with. Fulci, yes, Fulci's
work, some of it, is quite enjoyable, as is the work of my personal
favorite Italian director, Antonio Marghereti. Warbeck offered
up some good work in HUNTES OF THE GOLDEN COBRA and its even more
superior follow-up ARK OF THE SUN GOD. Unlike Saxon, Warbeck never
had the opportunity to dabble in the mainstream instead complacent
to be a leading man in small budget projects from horror to exploitation
films and giallos. Okay, an example, Warbeck as Craig, when he
basically fries the embryonic cells killing Dr. Swigert's creation,
keep in mind this is life that has been cloned and created from
a bacteria from a meteor, a pretty big deal, right?
Craig to Dr. Swigert's assistant, Janet:
Dammit, I keep asking for new equipment
(sparks fly about
2 feet away from the Petri dish) Hell! Hey Janet, I think we got
trouble! Look at this, look on top of that there!
Janet (looking in the microscope):
My God it's not moving anymore, I think it's dead, It is dead!
Craig: Oh C'mon!
Craig (peering into the microscope):
Hey have a look at this, look, I think it's come back to life.
Janet: Thank God, the filthy Nazi
would have had a stroke, but first he would have had us shot!
Craig giggling: I believe it, really!
Then the voices and ghosts appear.
Okay, first off the writers gave them nothing to work with, but
to witness this one brief scene proves my first reaction to MIAMI
GOLEM, this project could not be made for the budget the filmmakers
had, the talent could not make anything about this film remotely
believable and finally, man this is atrocious.
Okay the villain, the bad guys, the man who wants the new being,
the man willing to kill for it. The legendary John Ireland, who
was closing down on what can only be described as, an absolutely
brilliant career in cinema. Ireland's early work was in brilliant
studio releases such as SPARTACUS, GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL (he
was Johnny Ringo), THE 49th Man and THE BUSHWACKERS, in the 60s
he made his mark as a leading man in European epics like DED FOR
A DOLLAR and BADLANDS DRIFTER. The decade of the 70s had him absolutely
working his ass of in scads of cheap shit like Greydon Clark's
SATAN"S CHEERLEADERS and Rene' Cardona Jr.'s ultra sick take
on the Jonestown Massacre, GUYANA: CRIME OF THE CENTURY. Ireland
worked until his death in 1992 doing a lot of television from
the soap SANTA BARBARA to made for TV dreck like PERRY MASON movies.
My favorite is 1981's THE INCUBUS, where Ireland starred beside
the brilliant John Cassavetes for this psychological thriller
directed by John Hough (American Gothic). My point here, John
Ireland was better than this abysmal material. Ireland looks uncomfortable,
old and has trouble with lines as if there had been no rehearsal.
His single, rich, businessman character, Anderson, is Hell-bent
to take over the entire world and has hired his own scientist
to take Dr. Swigert's work and bring it to life. But the convoluted
plot has Anderson talking about speaking to Congress and waiting
around for airplanes at airstrips on other shit that does nothing
and moves the plot nowhere. His order to his right hand killing
machine, "That TV reporter, get rid of him." "Sure
boss." Of course, is the reply. Painful.
So the cats out of the bag, folks are dead, someone has the new
life form cells, Craig, his cop pals and Dr. Swigert's university
replacement are on the case. Craig, while en route to meet an
interpreter that this replacement has recommended gets a bogus
call from the TV station, he's to go to an abandoned airstrip
where a guy has gone crazy and wiped out his family. When Craig
arrives, it's deserted except for the chopper he see approaching
at a distance. Stop, right here. Everyone familiar with the classic
Hitchcock film NORTH BY NORTHWEST? MIAMI GOLEM'S director Alberto
De Martino was also. The chopper begins to bare down on Craig,
he grabs a pistol from his glove box and runs from the chopper
on foot, hiding under his car, they blow the tires out, then behind
a wall the chopper makes another pass. Up in the distance a school
bus approaches, for some reason oblivious to the gun battle from
air to ground that is taking place, Craig pulling off shots from
his .357 and the chopper hitman missing him with a sub machine
gun. Craig reloads and makes a run for the slow moving bus and
jumps into the conveniently open rear emergency exit, grabs a
seat and continues to fire out of the window. There are 2 ultra-black
men on the bus watching in amazement, the driver and his passenger.
The inevitable happens, Craig shoots the helicopter
of the sky or to the point of explosion, this budget could handle
that, so a smoke bomb trail leaks out of the side of the chopper
as the lone ebony passenger utters, "Hey fool, you just shot
a helicopter with a handgun!' Craig retorts, "Yeah, I don't
manage it everyday, I guess I was lucky." "Anyway, thanks
for the lift." The smirk on his face begs you to punch his
fucking lights out. What self-respecting director would dare rip
off this well-know scene with a budget of $6 and one camera, not
mention, a guy who couldn't carry Cary Grant's truss trying to
do a Cary Grant while asking us to believe he shoots a chopper
out of the air with a pistol? Who would? Uber fucking hack De
Martino. Responsible for such laughable "films" as PUMA
MAN, here's another case of an Italian director who has gotten
praise and has not made a decent film ever. The closest was his
derivative take on THE EXORCIST, L' ANTICRISTO. And that film
is barely worth mentioning. One website actually praised him as
a director who got out of the business before making a bad picture.
What? Sure bub, the free DVDs are in the mail. Easy on the teeth
while sucking my rod Argento breath.
So back at the Anderson lab, the cells are quickly doing their
thing, theirs a fetus, then a bigger fetus, then finally a baby
in a jar. This baby, is a latex baby with ventriloquist dummy
eyes, pointy teeth and the ability to do kind of the Elvis lip
thing, when it senses impending doom. IT begins to sense this
dom when Craig hooks up with this mumbo jumbo interpretor, a short-haired,
somewhat unattractive, dykish sort who speaks in riddles and asks
great questions of Craig like "are you happy." She also
inexplicably proposes marriage to Craig upon their first meeting.
Why not, he seems like good people. Time passes, rather quickly
in Miami, the gestation actually takes months according to some
dialogue sequences, I guess, no one has really figured out the
multiple shootings or who was in the chopper shooting at Craig.
Sure I get it. Eventually Craig talks with the interpreter, we
eventually find out she's an alien from Atlantis but her name
is Joanna and she disappeared 3 years ago, Look I don't know what
to tell you here, it's just fucking stupid. Which for all these
years I had thought was an underwater city on earth but come to
find out I guess it's in outer space. She has telepathic powers
which tell Craig the ghosts and shit were trying to warn him about
So if we didn't have enough going on with Craig and Anderson
and a fetus, now we got a space alien dyke woman, who has taken
to the idea of fucking Craig. Of course, who could really blame
here he is rad. The space alien woman is Laura Trotter, another
veteran of Italian genre work such as NIGHTMARE CITY and RAGE.
Ms. Trotter, will get nekkid, she does here, I'm not sure why,
it's hard to imagine a less attractive female lead cast on purpose.
Craig has to figure out what Joanna is all about, he finds a crop
circle with a weird symbol and he's beamed aboard a UFO where
he is confronted with himself, that's right he talks to a projection
of himself, I mean I know this fucker is an egomaniac but everything
is being explained to him by him in that snide, shitty tone that
by this point in the film has you wondering how and why David
Warbeck ever made it out of community theatre. His mission to
destroy the fetus is set in motion by the threat that his ugly
assed Euro-toothed baby will be the end of all creation, Craig
has no choice but to save the whole universe. He told himself
so. The rest of the film involves that. Craig and Joanna, trying
to get the baby and return it to the crop circle so it can be
transported back to another dimension or some stupid thing which
won't allow Craig to just destroy the little fucker.
But before any of that can go on, Craig has to fuck Joanna, she
has chosen Craig as the savior of the world and the man who is
going to peel her grape as well. The universe will just have to
wait for Craig "Fucking" MILFORD to get his bang on.
I'd like to tell you that this at least was exciting to watch
MIAMI GOLEM should have been titled PUNTA GORDA PIECE OF SHIT
because it is, all of the b-movie hutzpah in the world can't lend
enough moxie to make this one work, but I know that won't stop
you from having to see it. Had they gotten the Golem to at least
toddler stage and had a real knock down, drag out with Craig and
Junior at the end, it might have been a schlock masterpiece. A
film that on paper would have to have a multimillion dollar budget
ultimately had one closer to $500,000, enough to pay for the,
then lowly, services of FX-man Sergio Stivaletti (ultimately Serg
would get that God-like, anything Dago, reverence for his creations
in DEMONS). I will admit, if you choose to set through this one,
there's enough camp value in the inane chatter and lack of action
to have a little fun with, but you'll still wind up praying to
your glossy 8X10 of David Warbeck for more
of anything. I'll
still give it a recommendation, but I want you to consider this.
If your film tastes are dying for a movie trip to Florida and
you want to be more joyously stupdified, visit a real American
like Larry Buchanon, Brad Grinter or the master H.G. Lewis and
you won't have to pack any Euro-pretense in your overnight. MIAMI
GOLEM is available at www.witchinghourvideo.com.
|Bush? Not George
but still a puss.
|Maybe, I'm a little
rough on Joanna, fellas, what do you think?
|The Golem looks
a little sad...
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