She's been blind since her husband was killed in the war
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 12/17/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Some important people in Hollywood obviously lost some bets; that is the only way I can possibly rationalize the fact that someone let Coleman Francis write, direct, and star in this incredibly lousy movie. Francis lumbers through this movie like a zombie-a very lazy zombie. His penchant for close-ups is probably explained by a desire to show as little of the set as possible. He doesn't even bother about making smooth transitions between scenes; he just cuts each one off and jumps immediately to the next one. Of course, bad movies make for great Mystery Science Theater 3000 experiments, and this is no exception. While Mike and the Bots add a lot of humor to the viewing of Red Zone Cuba, even they are powerless to mute its incredibly boring and bewildering effects on the viewer. When the best part of the movie is John Carradine's singing, you are in trouble. Carradine also apparently lost a large bet; unlike everyone else in this movie, he at least has at least a semblance of a reputation in the industry, and his "guest appearance" is totally unimportant and generally unexplainable.Here's what might be the plot if Red Zone Cuba had one. Coleman Francis' character has apparently broken out of prison, and he ends up tagging along with two of the most uninteresting characters you would ever meet. When you are on the outs, running from the law, and in need of money very badly, where do you go? Why, to a secret training camp where a handful of men are planning to invade Cuba and take up where the Bay of Pigs invasion failed, of course. Much to the frustration of our three heroes, they are not actually paid up front the thousand dollars they are expecting, and after training for about a day (it's hard to tell because night and day change continuously and look pretty much alike), they're off to Cuba. For a second, it looks like the invading forces (all seven of them) stand a chance-there can't be more than 10 Cubans there to oppose them (including a fellow with the worst Castro [imitation] beard you will ever want to see). Despite being captured and never attempting to flee through the incredibly big hole in the wall of their "prison," the trio somehow make their way back to the States (presumably, but all of the locations look alike) and try to go legit-the key word here is try.There are some quite funny bits by the guys on the Satellite of Love. Mike, Crow, and Tom Servo are hilarious as they begin the show pretending to be rich, smarmy, pompous gamblers. Halfway through the movie, Mike begins to think he is Carol Channing, thus providing Crow with a golden opportunity to do his wonderful Carol Channing impersonation. There is a short before the film, but it is quite forgettable; posture was seemingly all the rage in the 1950s, and this little film seems to argue that, when giving a speech, how you look is more important than what you say (let me clarify the fact that this is not the famous "plenty of lip and tongue action" short on how to give a speech). For me, the funniest moment of the whole movie has nothing to do with Mike and the Bots-one of the characters says that his daughter has been blind ever since her husband was killed in the war. What? Oh, man, they just don't write movies like this anymore-or if they do, moviemakers have enough sense not to film them."
NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNDO FINE!!!!!!!
Robert I. Hedges | 04/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oh, man. This is a painful one. Production values worse than Manos. Plot less coherent than The Hellcats. Coleman Francis. And theme song sung by John "Oh, to be blessed with such an instrument" Carradine! I personally love this movie, as it is THE worst example of film production I have ever seen, but it isn't for everyone....you have to work up to this one....if you can watch Manos and Hobgoblins back to back, you are ready to try this one. Do not use sharp implements after viewing. Interestingly enough, I recently had the opportunity to speak to Mike Nelson. I asked him which were his most and least favorite episodes were. He said this was, by far, his least favorite because "It's basically watching three guys in a room talking for an hour." He is, of course, correct. This is why you must be prepared for the stench that is Red Zone Cuba."
"You want the paint in your face? That's optional, ya know"
hamilcar barca | nowheres in particular | 06/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here is yet another example of an excellent non-science fiction MST3K episode.
Here's the deal:After an opening credit sequence featuring John Carradine belching out the theme song, Coleman Francis stars as Griffin, an escaped felon who teams up with two illegal tire-changers named Cook and Landis. After they bond over beans and coffee, the trio decide to join up with the local army to invade Cuba. They hire a rather uncharismatic fellow named Cherokee Jack ("I'm Cherokee Jack") to fly them to the military base. After the absolute worst training session in history, which consisted of wrestling, climbing a rope and jumping off a cliff, the impressive force leave for Cuba. The riveting beach landing scene is a close second to Saving Private Ryan's as far as intensity goes (uhhh...not really). As the invasion force of 8 guys gets picked off one by one by the Cubans, led by a faux-Castro in the worst fake beard of all time, Griffin, Cook and Landis are captured along with their injured "friend" Sergeant Justine (Chastain, actually). They have to spend time in a little shack with "Viva Cuba" scrawled on the wall (so you know it's really Cuba), and all the while watch their fellow soldiers get paint thrown in their faces. After an ingenius plan to strangle the guard that gives them a bowl full of water, the guys escape and fly in a plane back to good ole US of A, leaving Justine behind. When they get back home, they track down Justine's wife, who rather naively gives them directions to and offers to help them with the plunder of the family's tungsten mine. Cook and Landis are captured by the cops, Griffin and Mrs. Justine are shot, and Justine himself makes a triumphant return, only to find his dead wife in the back of a pick-up truck. A dark, dark movie, is this one.I really love Mike and Bots treatment of this one. It is so disjointed and mistake-riddled, that it must be hard to sit through, but somehow they manage it, and make it my favorite episode in the process. Much like Mitchell, I think the fact that the main characters are so loathsome, that the writers cruelty was unfettered. A true classic."
One of the finest, funniest episodes. A must have!
Ryan Harvey | Los Angeles, CA USA | 03/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" offer up the movie "Red Zone Cuba" (which was originally released under the title "Night Train to Mundo Finé"). This awful, incomprehensible, and completely bizarre 1961 film (re-released in 1965) made for one the greatest episodes of the show. This is classic comedy, a must-have for fans, and a must-see for anyone who has never watched an episode of this hysterical TV program.For those of you unfamiliar with "Mystery Science Theater 3000," (MST3K for short) it is a ninety-minute show featuring a silhouette of a man and two robots in movie theater seats projected in front of a terrible movie. The hosts provide side-splitting, satiric, and culturally-savvy wisecracks to accompany the movie. Each episode also includes sketches and songs and adds up to some of the most hilarious comedy you will ever see.This DVD offers up episode #619, from late in the show's run on Comedy Central. Mike Nelson had been the host for a full season at this point, and he had really hit his stride with his two robot co-hosts (Tom Servo, voiced by Kevin Murphy, and Crow T. Robot, voiced by Trace Beaulieu). The riffing is razor sharp and wickedly biting, and "Red Zone Cuba" is possibly the best Mike Nelson episode of all time.This is the second of three movies from director Coleman Francis that MST3K took on. Thanks to his exposure on the show, Mr. Francis has become a bad-movie legend on the level of Ed Wood. But Coleman Francis's flicks make Ed Wood's look like Stanley Kubrick movies by comparison! Coleman Francis was originally a bit-part movie actor, appearing in many Westerns and other b-programmers in the 40s and 50s. He decided to take a crack at movie directing himself, and along with his producer/drinking buddy Anthony Cardoza, crafted three mind-numbingly horrendous yet startlingly bizarre films: "The Skydivers," (available in DVD the collection: "Mystery Science Theater 3000, Vol. 1), this movie, and "The Beast of Yucca Flats" (not on DVD, but it should be some day).Francis's films have a weird atmosphere: bleakly washed-out gray, packed with scenes of cars approaching, planes landing, people walking, bursts of sound and silence, and plots that are impossible to follow. The acting, from Francis's buddies like Tony Cardoza, is so wooden as to be unbelievable (third grade Christmas pageants have better acting), and the characters are so inexplicably bizarre and the editing so blunt ("I think my neck just got snapped in that jump cut!" Mike screams at one point) that his films seems to take place in another universe. In the hands of the MST3K team, his movies achieve a level of sublime comic entertainment."Red Zone Cuba" is Francis's finest (in other words, worst) hour. A runaway convict named Griffin (played by the greasy, obese Mr. Francis himself) joins two drifters, Landis and Cook, somewhere in New Mexico. They fly down to Florida (which looks like New Mexico) to join the Bay of Pigs invasion. It fails because the U.S. only hires eight insurgents and gives them twenty minutes of training in how to jump before unleashing them on Cuba. Imprisoned in Cuba (which looks like New Mexico), Griffin and his buddies stage a daring escape, fly all the way to...New Mexico, I guess...and then stuff a guy down a well, find a mountain of pitch blend, have trouble with a convertible top...Well look, your guess is as good as mine as to what in the heck is going on in this film. I can't really describe what a wonderful experience this movie is with the MST3K team heckling along. Oh, and did I mention John Carradine pops up in a cameo and actually sings? Because he does! The film eventually drives Mike Nelson insane, and he thinks he's Carol Channing.As a bonus, the MST3K boys watch a short film before the movie, "Speech: Platform Posture and Appearance," designed to help the salesman of the 50s present a speech effectively by putting his hands on his knees and rotating them. (I'm not kidding.) As with most short films on MST3K, this one is hilarious.If you are new to MST3K, this is one of the best episodes to start with - it's as funny as they come! If you are fan, this is one of the MUST HAVES of the whole series run. But you already know that, Cherokee Jack!"
Coleman Francis: Comedian of the Century
Robert I. Hedges | 10/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I would have loved to see _Red Zone Cuba_ straight up, no sillouette. The "invasion" scenes rival some of the better work of Monty Python. And the Castro look-alike! "I'm Cherokee Jack!" The movie alone would have you paralyzed with laughter. But then you get M&TB to sit in front of it and you are in for some kind of treat. It was no problem for them to get good riffs out of this one: the riffs came gently and easily, amplifying Francis' spectacle to the nth degree. I was reluctant to laugh as much as I had the need to for fear of missing another comment. This is one of my favorites to be sure. Thank you Coleman Francis, and thank you MST3K!P.S.- Is it just me or in Red Zone Cuba has Mike not yet found his niche yet in the SOL host segments? Instead of the Mike of the Sci-Fi years whom we could always expect a focused personality from, late S5 Mike is kinda foggy-headed and aimlessly goofy. But then again, replacing Joel had to take some guts, and if Mike hadn't yet found his place in the show I can understand that. But "it's just a show, I should really just relax!""