Sunday, December 27, 2009

For Your Height Only (1981)

Director: Eddie Nicart

Starring: Weng Weng

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Bigger than Goldfinger's Finger - Bigger Than Thunderball's (. . . . . . .)

Plot: Mr. Giant has kidnapped the brilliant Dr. Van Kohler and is planning to use the Doctor's invention, the N-bomb, to hold the world hostage. The only one who can foil Mr. Giant's evil scheme is Agent 00, a 2'9" Filipino martial arts master, expert marksman, top-class romancer and all-around superspy. Can Agent 00 rescue Dr. Kohler before it's too late?

My Rating: 9/10

Would I watch it again? Uh, about twice annually

I will go to my grave with the following statement:

FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY is one of the greatest films of...all...time! Screw you, CITIZEN KANE!

It's a gift from the gods. It's fucking priceless. I discovered this about six years ago and I've probably watched it about twice a year since then, and 3 times the first week I had it. It's a wall-to-wall laugh riot and the entertainment value never diminishes. FYHO is the kind of movie you throw on with a group of friends and call it a party. Hell, you don't even need drinks 'cause this'll be the highlight of everyone's movie-watching life. I guarantee it. Chances are, if you know me, if I haven't shown this movie I've at least thrown some highlights your way.

It stars 2'9" Filipino megastar, Weng Weng, as Agent Double O. Fuck the plot. Some scientist gets kidnapped and Weng Weng's on the case. Lots of dames and action drive this 87 minute masterpiece all the way to its explosive finale on Hidden Island where Weng Weng must confront and destroy Mr. Giant.

OMFG! He's got pepperoni nipples!
Now everybody's gonna want some!

It's dopey as hell. The acting is horrendous, the English dub is stupendously funny (the voice actors must have had a blast recording it) and every nickel of the $87 budget is on screen. AND IT WORKS!

Weng Weng is a GOD among men!

He's smooth...

He's a killer...

And he gets the ladies!

I've read that the director worked with Weng daily for three months on stunt work to prepare him for the role. He'd have to. There's no one that could double him. This guy's fearless. He leaps off of rooftops that are 5 times his height, fights dozens of men with all manner of weapons and fisticuffs, zip lines, the works.

There are far too many amazing moments to cover them all. Besides, I wouldn't want to spoil everything. Here's a great one of what you can expect in this quality piece of work. To infiltrate Hidden Island, Weng straps on a jet pack, ala Bond in THUNDERBALL. He's clearly struggling with the waist belt and there's this jump cut to where he's ready to go.

Clearly he couldn't do it so one of the crew probably helped him with it and then they resumed filming. Classic. But it gets better. You can see that once he takes off he's suspended by a wire. Weng looks terrified! Ahahahahahha. But it gets better still.

As he's flying around he starts to rotate but still flying in the same direction so he's literally flying sideways. AWESOME! F U, James Bond and THANK YOU, Weng Weng, for risking your life for the entertainment of strangers!

Goofy moments like this are all over the picture. Weng Weng is hysterically bad and we love him for it. He stops firmly on his marks and turns, looks at the camera frequently and tears through scenes like he's a big-time Hollywood action star. What a trooper.

He's literally (offscreen) thrown down a stairwell to subdue some baddies...

He's literally tossed (offscreen) like a human bowling ball in what seems to be his signature kill move; sliding across the floor with his gun poised to fire.

"OW! My little head!"

If there's one thing that could make this even better is the battle royale between Weng Weng and Mr. Giant. The problem? It doesn't last long enough but what's there is fucking hilarious.

The cookie cutter goons at the end...ahahahaha. Priceless. They did a great job with their budget limitations. You can kind of tell they had about 8 guys in uniforms (with what appears to be pseudo-targets on their chests) that they used over and over and over fighting in different spots around the compound.

I...LOVE...THE...DUBBING! It's brilliant! The bad guys all sound like classic Hollywood actors like Bogart, Cagney, Robinson, Eastwood, Bronson and so on. It's fucking hysterical! Yeah, see? Probably my favorite is this guy who looks like a pimped-out Redd Foxx which reminds me of how much the outrageously dated clothing is a whole other character in this thing.

And some classic lines that just bring tears to my eyes...

"You're such a little guy. Very Petite, like a potato."

Anna: (spoken with that "rally I do" posh accent) You're a great person, you know.
Weng Weng: You know what they say, "It ain't the size but the way you use it."
Anna: Maybe. But are you a sexual animal?
Weng Weng: I don't know.
Anna: I'm crazy about you, Agent Double O. Whyyyy, I don't know. Maybe it's the way you strut your stuff. You know, like tequila. Take one sip and you're a goner.
Weng Weng: Shall we get it on?
Anna: Yes, darling, bare your bod.

"So this is how you communicate with your little Weng."

Here's a scene where they've hidden drugs in loaves of bread and the Cagney-voiced leader says with rapid fire precision...

"There's a lot of dough in this dough. The butcher, the baker the candlestick maker."

It's like the entire film is a compilation of my favorite scenes. Well one is when Weng Weng is getting briefed by his boss (played by Tony Ferrer who was HUGE in the Phillipines for being the Filipino James Bond in a string of 14 Tony Falcon pictures from 1964 through the 70s). He issues him a gang of gadgets that's got to be seen to really understand why it's so goddamned funny.

And to top it all off, the music is awesome! There's only really, I think, 3 maybe 4 cues in the whole picture and they're used repetedly. That's totally OK because THEY ROCK! One is a total Bond sound-alike, then you've got your upbeat rockin' action theme that's got some SERIOUS trombone playing honkin' out those low notes and some great double-tonguing, and then there's the sneaking around theme. GREAT musicians! The music repeats so much that it's not long before you humming along. I desperately needs me a soundtrack on this but I'm too lazy to record the music off the DVD.

DVD you say? Mondo Macabro, a fantastic 'out there' genre release company, put this out a few years ago, a couple of years after I had been watching a VHS rip. It's time to replace it. Buying it now from for $17. It's worth it. MM has it as a double disc set with a Bruce Lee clone chop socky flick from 1980 called CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER that looks like a hoot.

To my knowledge, and BELIEVE me when I say I have been searching feverishly for 6 years, there are only two other Weng Weng films out there. There's the follow-up to FYHO called, THE IMPOSSIBLE KID (not as campy as FYHO but still fun), and then there's his Filipino western, D'WILD WILD WENG. He did a few more but they have not surfaced. I want them. I need them.

Watch the above fan trailer. If it piques your interest, rent it, buy it, find it. You'll be oh so glad you did. Once you've seen this masterpiece you will forever have a special place in your heart for Weng Weng. Now, if I could only find myself a 2'9" wannabe actor, I'd quit my job and drop everything to start making movies. It's a shame he's not around anymore. He could have been a giant among us mortals, making movies that would cripple the likes of Schwarzenegger and Stallone. Viva la Weng Weng!!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mad Love (1935)

Director: Karl Freund

Starring: Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive, Ted Healy, Keye Luke

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Dead hands that live... and love... and kill!

Plot: An insane surgeon's obsession with an actress leads him to replace her husband's wounded pianist's hands with the hands of a knife murderer which still have the urge to throw knives...and kill.

My Rating: 9/10

Would I watch it again? Oh, yeah!

WOW!!! Does this movie pack a punch! At 68 minutes MAD LOVE delivers, and how! It's got several unexpected plot developments and a somewhat shocking ending that will leave you speechless. Hell, I saw this months ago and I'm only now able to talk about it.

The twists and turns are just a small part of what makes this a truly great film. Director Freund doesn't waste any time getting us into the picture. It's obvious from the start that Peter Lorre's Dr. Gogol has an obsession and, since Lorre is a creepy looking dude to begin with (here in his best Uncle Fester attire), you get the idea that this isn't healthy and it's not going to be a pretty ride. You'd be right. Lorre, as usual in his 30s & 40s output, is outstanding and nails the part as if it were written for him. Ever seen him in his breakout role in M (1931)? WOW! This guy really brings the goods.

The supporting cast is also strong including Drake as Gogol's object of affection, Yvonne,

her husband with the new "hands", Stephen, played by Colin Clive who you should remember playing Baron von Frankenstein in FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and its sequel.

Then there's the requisite comic relief play swimmingly smooth by Ted Healy as the American reporter who is instrumental in bringing Gogol down. Interesting side bar...The Three Stooges got their start with Healey. They were originally known as Ted Healey and His Stooges.

Another character that you can't miss is the brilliant cinematography by Chester Lyons and Gregg Toland but I suspect it's Freund's German influence as a DP for Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau that really set the look. The German expressionism that was so prevalent in the 20s and 30s is certainly one of the stars of this picture. Wow!

It's really something what the right artists and talent can do with such a base story. Man loves woman. Woman is married. Husband loses hands to be replaced by the wife's obsessor. Hands belonged to a murderer. Hands feel the urge to kill. Bam. That's about it. Again, Lorre does a convincing job of a man obsessed spiraling out of control in his own neurosis. And when he's finally over the edge, no one is safe.

Gee. D'ya think George Luca$ was inspired by this for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK?


The climax of the film finds Yvonne trapped in Gogol's study. Gogol mistakes her for the lifelike wax figure he purchased when Yvonne's stage show ended. She's frightened as hell and ultimately blows her cover. Gogol's delusional at this point and, after she's taunted him, he snaps and goes to strangle her. She falls in his arms limp from fainting. He lays her down on the sofa and then, very slowly, takes her long braided hair and attempts to strangle her, tightening with each slow turn until her breath has all but left her. That was one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time and it happened 74 years ago. Wow.


Nice. I had really hoped for the bleak ending but, as this is Hollywood circa 1935 where happy endings were all the rage, I didn't get one. Still, it's a great flick that deserves to be seen. Find it. You'll be hard-pressed to find a better way to spend an hour and eight minutes. Well...a-hem...almost.