The Doomsday Machine & Werewolf of Washington
- Rated PG
- Buy the DVD
Reviewed by Will Harris
s the creator of a far-too-rarely-updated website called Sale-Bin Cinema, I’m usually one of the first people to launch to the defense of movies that are so bad they’re good, and most people know what I mean; by now, just about everyone has seen an episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and they understand the enjoyment you can get by pointing, laughing, and making fun of how awful a movie is. Inevitably, however, someone will ask the question that always proves to be a bit of a stumper: “Why would I watch a movie that’s so bad it’s good when I could just watch a movie that’s actually good?”
Well, in this case, Elvira’s seductive stroll down the long, cobweb-covered hallway at the beginning of each episode of “Movie Macabre” is a damned good…and damned sexy…reason, particularly if you ever went through a Goth phase.
After 25 years in the business, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark – a.k.a. Cassandra Peterson – is a staple of Halloween, and to celebrate this year’s All Hallow’s Eve, she’s teamed with Shout! Factory to release three DVDs, each containing two episodes from her syndicated late-night schlock horror series. After the aforementioned stroll and the obligatory opening credits, we’re led into Elvira’s opening remarks, where she does her airhead hostess schtick. It’s silly fun, and it shows right off the bat that she’s not even pretending that these movies are any good…and that’s neither the films themselves nor the prints they have of them. When Peterson commented to Bullz-Eye that “they had to search all the dumpsters in L.A.” to get these six flicks, you sense she probably wasn’t too far away from the truth; they look pretty crappy, sometimes even jumping over a second or two of dialogue…which, of course, makes them seem even worse than they already are.
If you’re only going to buy one of these sets, there’s no question which one you should go with: the pairing of “The Doomsday Machine” and “Werewolf of Washington.” The former is a rare foray of “Movie Macabre” into sci-fi – done, Elvira claims at the beginning, due to viewer demand – that’s so awful that you can’t believe “MST3K” never tackled it. You’ll spot a few famous faces throughout the film, like Mike Farrell (“M*A*S*H,” “Providence”) as a reporter and Casey Kasem fronting the mike at Ground Control. And, yes, Elvira does make a joke about him telling the astronauts, “Alright, gentlemen, we’ll keep our feet on the ground, and you keep reaching for the stars!” As far as “Werewolf of Washington”…dude, the president’s press assistant may be a werewolf! You barely even need to know that he’s played by Dean Stockwell (“Quantum Leap”) to know it’s a must-see! Of the other two sets, they’re really no less awful; just check out the titles of the films and you’ll pretty much know that you’re still in for all the badness you can stand.
The only thing, of course, is that – unlike Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, and whichever human happens to be on the Satellite of Love – Elvira isn’t with you throughout these movies; she only pops up at the points where, when these episodes were originally broadcast, they were going to a commercial. While her comments are funny, it leaves a whole lot of time for the viewer to just sit and watch the movies; if you’re not able to make your own snarky jokes as you go, you’ll a fair amount of these “Movie Macabre” discs to be a real endurance test.