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"An impressive debut for then-21 John Landis, who wrote, produced, directed and even starred in the title role of a prehistoric gorilla, "Schlock" has grown in the years to cult classics. However, it was rather successful in the first place, winning a major prize in the Trieste SF film festival and earning good money for producer Jack Harris, who bought it from Landis at a very low price and went on to distribute it in theaters. Some 30 years later, "Schlock" finally gets DVD treatment with an extra-packed edition that features a feature-lenght commentary from director-star Landis and make up Rick Baker (who at the time had only made "The Octaman" but would later do the transformations in Landis' "An American Werewolf in London"), the original theatrical trailer, a bunch of TV commercials and even a few radio commercials. Although the film's no masterpiece, it is chock-full of funny bits and also features a surprising homage-parody to Landis' beloved "2001: A Space Odyssey". Be sure to check out celebrity cameos: in the movie theater scene you can spot Forrest J. Ackerman, but look out for makeup veteran John Chambers and directors Andrew Marton and Laszlo Benedek."
BALD STEVE COULD NOT BE MORE RIGHT.
Darkknight13 | Gotham South | 01/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a true masterpiece of its time. The importance of this film could not be measured by anything I could possibly say. It introduced us to monkey loving like we've never seen before. Simply put, my life has not been the same. Neither will yours."
"I feel more like I do now than I did when I got here."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 05/17/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In the continuing series of `everyone has to start somewhere', here we are presented with Schlock (1973)...no, I'm not saying this film is schlock (okay, it is), but, in fact, that is the actual title of the movie (it was once known as The Banana Monster when Troma own the rights, but has since reverted back to its original name). But in terms of starting out in the biz, this was the first film written and directed by John Landis, the man behind such movies as Animal House (1978), The Blues Brothers (1980), and Trading Places (1983). Also, while not his first film, this does mark one of the first collaborations between legendary make-up artist Rick Baker and Landis, which would be followed up with great success in the popular movie An American Werewolf in London (1981).
The movie opens on a playground strewn with bodies...and banana peels. The police arrive in time to speak to one survivor, but he offers little in the way of assistance, uttering one word before he passes..."Bananas!" Not much to go on, but we do learn in the last three weeks the Banana Killer (as he's been dubbed by the media) has been the cause for 789 deaths, and Detective/Sergeant Wino (who's in charge of the investigation) sees no end in sight to the carnage stating the only reason he even ventures outside anymore is because it's his job. Also, he thinks the deaths will continue unabated...not exactly the reassurances the general public is looking for, but then that's part of the comedy here. After a group of teenagers stumble across a hidden lair in the California hills and give the police an actual lead, it's determined by the scientific community that the killer is a Schlockthropus, or Schlock, for short (played by Landis himself in a Rick Baker created monkey suit), a prehistoric apeman and missing link in the human evolutionary chain, frozen for the last 20 million years, recently revived somehow in an unfamiliar world. There's a confrontation as the authorities try to apprehend the beast, but it escapes and finds its way to the home of a blind girl named Mindy Binderman, who mistakes Schlock for a dog she names `Willie'. Anyway, the two develop a relationship of sorts, but once Mindy gets her eyesight back, she freaks. Eventually, after a series of seemingly unrelated semi-comic episodes (Schlock in a bakery, Schlock in the movie theater, etc.), all roads lead to the big high school dance where Schlock crashes the party in an attempt to profess his monkey love to Mindy (as only a primate can), but his monkey woo woo is interrupted as the national guard show up and a standoff begins...
First off this isn't going to be a film everyone will enjoy. Diehard fans of Landis and especially Baker will want to check this out, not only to get a glimpse at this early pairing, but also to catch the really funny and worthwhile commentary track featuring the two. The comedy is staggered throughout (mainly consisting of silly sight gags and predictable parodies), as this sort of reminded me of how SNL began turning a lot their skits into feature length films after Wayne's World (1992) hit it big. Problem is, while most of those bits were funny as 10 minute skits, there's just nowhere near the amount of material (or interest) to sustain a hour and a half film...a prime example being the 1994 film It's Pat...ugh, talk about a career killer...anyway, I got the sense Schlock would have been a great ten minute piece for one of Landis' later films in The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977), but stretched out over a 79 minute run time it drags a little. The film started out strong (the scenes with the news reporter are among my favorites), wears thin in the middle, and then picks up again at the end. The drag in the middle is highlighted by there being about five to ten minutes of Steve McQueen's The Blob shown as Schlock goes to the movies. Given this was Landis' first film, I thought the direction was really good as he shows a great deal of knowledge in terms of setting up shots and maintaining a sense of continuity...that's not to say he had any great visuals or settings to shoot, but he seemed to make the most of what he had...speaking of making the most of what one has, the ape suit actually looks kinda decent considering Baker created it on a scant $500 budget (sure he's done better, but then he's also had much larger budgets). As far as the acting, well, it's suitable for the film, which is to say it's really bad, but then I think that was the intent. It's interesting that the best performance should come from Landis himself buried inside an ape suit, as he makes the most out of small gestures and other nuances. All in all Schlock reminded me of a really well done home movie (one that cost $60,000) featuring some humorous moments, and provided an indication of things to come (The Kentucky Fried Movie is one of my favorite comedies).
Anchor Bay Entertainment provides a sharp and clear anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) transfer on this DVD. The Dolby Digital Mono audio isn't as good, but good enough given the source material (I doubt anyone will rush out to re-master the audio). There are a few extras including a theatrical trailer, radio spots, still gallery, and fairly extensive and informative talent bios on both Landis and Baker. There is also a commentary track, as I mentioned earlier, featuring Landis and Baker, as they relate all kinds of fun and interesting facts and tidbits, and generally come off as two friends just hanging out and having a good time. Oh, one more thing, there is also a reproduction of an original promotional poster on the small card in the DVD case, with the flipside featuring the chapter stops.
Everyone must love Schlock!
Bald Steve | Greenhell, NC USA | 10/06/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the directorial debut of John Landis and also practice for Make-Up Artist and Creature Creator Rick Baker as they were both very early in their careers for this venture; as well as well before An American Werewolf in London. The film revolves around basically a sasquatch type apeman (played by Landis)who falls in love with a woman and all the campy hijinks he gets into in the town. If you like other Landis movies this thing rules! Plus tons of camp as in Kentucky Fried Movie... GO SCHLOCK!"
Banana Monster is the Blazing Saddles of Horror fans.
Bald Steve | 03/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This early John Landis film pays homage to nearly every classic horror film made,blends it with the slapstick humor of Laurel and Hardy,add the touch of a Columbo-isk detective and you have an extremely funny and entertaining film. A police investigator comes upon a crime scene littered with body parts and banana peels. What could have possibly happened here in this quiet community? Little does he know,that awakened from his frozen tomb, the dreaded Schlock-thopterous ( the gorilla-like missing link. Actually it's John Landis in a very well made monkey suit )has risen and is on a ravenous rampage. Running amuck through the streets and neighborhood, Schlock endures a number of adventures in the civilized world. Irrate drivers, rude movie goers, children, a beautiful blind love interest, the media hype ( keep those cards and letters coming ) all keep occupied whilst a band of Keystone cops and a schleppy detective remain hot on his trail. You will find this film filled with humor and worth every cent spent on it. Get it, watch it, enjoy the hell out of it !!!"