Friday, April 6, 2012

Mike and Ike's Grindhouse (Now available for download)

[MIKE AND IKE'S GRINDHOUSE is available for download for a small donation from Geek Planet Online.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

So what exactly is MIKE AND IKE'S GRINDHOUSE? Well, it's part Mystery Science Theatre 3000 on drugs, with the titular duo making fun of what's on the screen in between bong hits. It's part scholarly audio commentary with the boys providing interesting fun facts about the films and their makers. It's also part gonzo mix tape, cramming an early Warner Brothers cartoon and two feature films into one hour and a half chunk of entertainment.

The fun starts with Hittin' the Trail to Hallelujah Land, one of the “censored eleven” Warner Brothers cartoons that the studio doesn't officially distribute any more due to what many would construe as racist themes. Like everything in MIKE AND IKE'S GRINDHOUSE, it's now in the public domain. The cartoon is offered here without commentary and, aside from the offensive aspects, it's a typically creative and well done Warner Brothers short. I don't believe stuff like this should be suppressed, as that just gives it more power than it deserves, but I'm not entirely sure this was the right way to start things off. 

Mike and Ike first chime in during an abbreviated version of THE BEACH GIRLS AND THE MONSTER, an inept black and white monster flick from 1965 that was ostensibly aimed at the teen drive-in market. There's some bad rock n roll numbers, a rubber suit monster, and some bikini clad dancing girls. It's no HORROR OF PARTY BEACH, but there's still plenty for Mike and Ike to rip on. They've also cut the whole thing down to about 10 minutes, which is probably all you'd ever need to see.

 The main feature is Jack Hill's SPIDER BABY. This is another late sixties black & white shocker, but it's in a whole other league than BEACH GIRLS. The boys cop to being fans, something you'd never hear Mike and/or Joel and the Bots doing. They still deliver some good jokes, but they're laughing with the film (it's a black comedy) more than at it.

For those who aren't familiar with this minor classic, it concerns a family that suffers from a rare degenerative disease which eventually turns them into childlike cannibals with only the family chaufeur (Lon Chaney) to look after them. This premise is combined with a fairly by the numbers plot about some distant relatives trying to get hold of what they believe to be a family fortune.

Since Mystery Science Theatre 3000 went off the air, the various performers from that program have spun off into different factions doing more or less the same thing they always did. They've also spawned numerous imitators. Now I know this seems like the kind of thing that anyone can do, but just like punk rock, not everyone necessarily should. Thankfully Mike and Ike are actually pretty good at this film riffing schtick. Maybe not up there with the best MST3K episodes good, but still funny more often than not. 2 1/2 out of 4 stars (add an extra 1/2 star if you're stoned).

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