For anyone who knows the background to ‘Schlock’ and indeed has witnessed film for themselves will know that it doesn’t really warrant reviewing, and as such I will class this piece of literature as an ‘acknowledgement of watching’.
The first film to be directed by the masterful John Landis (who incidentally also stars) is a very blatant and very silly spoof of the 1950/60 and 70s monster movies prevalent at the time. Rumour has it that Landis was struggling to get a gig making films, after several pitches failed, so he went ahead and finance the movie himself – or at least part of it; the whole affair reportedly costing only $60,000 to make. The end result? Well it’s a nice blend of ape suit violence, and both verbal and visual gags; humour akin to (although) further refined and developed in the Zucker Brothers films. I didn’t notice the connection before, but this pre-dates the equally goofy (and superior) ‘Kentucky Fried Movie’ which followed in 1977, also directed by Landis, and its humour is very much in the same vein.
The ‘plot’, and boy that’s a loose use of the term, surrounds a police investigation and the team of hapless law enforcement who are trying to apprehend the ‘banana peel killer’, a stalker so dubbed because a tell tale trail of banana skins is left behind at the scenes of his carnage. Of course, it’s not a he, its ‘Schlock’ the missing link between Neanderthal and Homo-Sapiens – or, John Landis in a cheap ape suit!
When it’s funny, I found it laugh out loud amusing – but then I am an avid fan of that style of slapstick. Expect plenty of puns, conversational mishaps, and some just downright goofing around which only work with movies this self-aware. There’s plenty of repeated gags, and plenty of situational satire.
When it doesn’t work so well, more abundant in the films second half, its just the camera rolling whilst the ‘ape’ roams around engaging in drawn out scenes of the mundane – things like offering a cake to a group of kids and operating a vending machine, for about 5 minutes!
Needless to say the whole films a bit of a mixed bag, but nothing short of an impressive accomplishment never the less, considering the medium and logistics of the time.
Its an odd one for me to recommend, or not to recommend. As a film its pretty engaging, but it’s well on the way to outstaying its welcome by the end. That said, its definitely got a lot of those silly moments which make films like this persist half a century later, and as a fan of movies such as the aforementioned ‘Kentucky Fried Movie’ and ‘Police Squad/Naked gun’, it was great to see a movie which was, in its own way a precursor, to a niche genre of comedy – hell even ‘Troma’ has got to have taken something from Landis’ effort here.
Overall, even its title is a warning as to its content, and Landis himself jokingly cites it as a terrible film; but it has that charm; but I think you have to understand its context.