Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thriller Video Hosted By Elvira, Mistress of the Dark: Alabama's Ghost

Alabama's Ghost is one of the Thriller Video releases that was not also an episode of Elvira's Movie Macabre. Although I have the movie on both VHS and Beta, I've never seen it before, so I found it on You Tube and am about ten minutes into watching it right now. And I don't have one damn idea or another what is happening. Like all the Thriller Videos, Elvira does do an into and outro but does not appear to comment during the movie, unfortunately.

"And it's me again, the video beauty with the cute little booty, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. And I'm just the gal who can't say no. Well, actually, I did say no once, but only when asked if I had said no before. Oh, golly. How do you like my outfit? (Voices off) Shut up, sister. If I want your opinion I'll beat it out of you. She's just jealous because she's always trying to impersonate me. Nice try, sister. You can pad the bra all you want, but you'll never get your hair as high as mine. So, there, nnn. Well, I've got a great movie for you tonight. I mean, great that is if you're into Surrealism. I tell you, it has got everything. Ghosts, robots, vampires, voodoo, and vanishing elephants. Not to mention drooling idiots. Tonight's movie is called Alabama's Ghost. No, no, no, it's not about some cotton picking poltergeist, it's about this guy who's name is Alabama, which makes a lot of sense because his sister's names are Virginia, Georgia, and Wisconsin. Anyway, don't let this scare you, but Alabama is being haunted by a ghost. Well, if you're ready, I'm ready. And it looks like Alabama's just itching to begin. Enjoy the movie, and I'll see you at intermission."

It's entirely possible there's some sort of plausible plot to this movie, which I entirely missed while I was typing out Elvira's introduction. Perhaps something like an aspiring jazz musician/forklift driver mistakenly drives his forklift through a wall and finds the secret stash of a dead magician, who shares the secret of his magic, asking only that Alabama doesn't reveal any of the secrets he has learned. Does he? No idea yet. 

After meeting this groovy promoter who's mind is blown by his act, Alabama takes it on the road, all leading up to a final performance where he will perform Carter The Great's most famous trick: a disappearing elephant. There are long scenes of dancing Hippies. I'm actually watching Night of the Comet on another screen and have only looked over three or four times and it all seems like a weird mess. 

Then another musical number with go-go dancers. This is actually a pretty good musical number reminiscent of Sly and the Family Stone, then Alabama takes the stage with his overblown voice. 

But all arcane secrets come with a steep price, and soon Carter the Great begins to haunt Alabama. "I am the spirit of Carter the Great. And I come to warn you. Heed my warning before you die." Then something about robots and vampires. "I just met an old white racist ghost." Whoa, the woman he was in bed with just turned into a vampire. He's making a run for it. Then there's a scene where the vampire chick chases him through an abandoned little village in makeup reminiscent of Demons and he somehow comes to a door where his mother takes him in. 

You were promised voodoo, and Alabama's Ghost delivers. Rejuvenated after a voodoo ceremony, Alabama is back on the road. What, what? What the hell was that scene about? His promoter is striking a deal with a futuristic media conglomerate type who wants to use the vanishing elephant act as a springboard for his mind control network. Or something like that might have happened. With a little more effort this movie could have been really bonkers. 

In this scene the voodoo priest has returned to save Alabama from the ghost of Carter the Great, to which Alabama says "He's a racist. Tell him to go away." Then everything goes a little apeshit and there's a Dr. Caligula and a conveyor belt of chicks that vampires in dark hoods are feeding on and some mumbo jumbo about converting the whole thing into some sort of digital broadcast that can be used to control the minds of the world's population. 

"He's got twin Frankensteins, and they're trying to kill Alabama." This movie has officially crossed over into WTF land. 

"This is an out of sight experience."

Sort of.

For some reason that makes no sense, this movie reminds me of Phantom of the Paradise, a movie that was released a year later. 

I'm about ten minutes away from the end of this film when i realize I'm watching something truly unusual and completely idiosyncratic, and apparently that was evident in all four films by director Frederic Hobbs. Hobbs wrote, directed, and/or produced four highly distinctive and idiosyncratic films: Troika (1969), Roseland (1971), Alabama's Ghost (1973), and Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973), none of which I have ever seen before, and all of which I will soon be watching. I don't do reviews, per se, I just do reactions, and one of my favorite reactions when I encounter a piece of art is "What the fuck did I just see." 

What the fuck did I just see?

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