Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters – review

Director: Peter Balakoff (segment)

Release date: 1965

Contains spoilers

Expectation can do a lot, I guess. I think I expected the little rascals or maybe the Bowery Boys. It certainly wasn’t the former and probably had more in common with the latter (there are young kids occasionally but the primary focus is on grown adults acting like kids) but this made the Bowery Boys seem like high art.

the mummy
It is actually three shorts stitched together. The first short "The Lemon Grove Kids meet the Monsters" is primarily about the gang of “kids” having a ruck with a rival gang that becomes a foot race. The monsters come into it at the end when overtly comedic (and unfunny) character Gopher (Ray Dennis Steckler) has failed to finish the race and then comes across a gorilla (Bob Burns) and a Mummy (also Bob Burns) – actually characters in an amateur film. The last segment "The Lemon Grove Kids Go Hollywood!" has no monster aspect.

groovy band
It is the centre segment, "The Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Green Grasshopper and the Vampire Lady From Outer Space", that we are bothered about and this sees the kids having a party with a groovy band playing. That is until leader Slug (Mike Kannon) gets a call to clear Mr Miller’s (Coleman Francis) yard. Off the gang go, there is a mix of adults and kids along for the ride and “hilarity” ensues.

We see several of the gang taken by felt monster hands and, when most of the gang have vanished, a one-seater flying (or inter-dimensional) saucer appear piloted by the Green grasshopper (E.M. Kevke) – a man in grasshopper makeup. Joining him is a vampire lady (Carolyn Brandt) and she bites Miller who has been mesmerised by the Grasshopper. They head into the house.

Mr Miller and the Vampire Lady
There is concern amongst the gang that the house is haunted – until it is suggested that it is the Vampire Lady not the house that is haunted. They go inside and discover that the gang are all there mesmerised. It is suggested that the Vampire Lady is so pale because she has no good red blood in her. They seem to be siphoning blood into a bell jar. The Vampire Lady gets her hands on Gopher and bites him, so he bites her back, she screams, the mesmerism ends and everything descends into chaos.

Gopher the vampire
The only other thing to report from the segment is that Gopher seems to turn (or at least have bad plastic fangs!) Honestly though, it is probably the best of the three segments as it is just so psychedelic and trippy. That said the whole trilogy is lacking, there isn’t a laugh to be had really and the acting is just atrocious. Not a portmanteau (there is no wraparound), this is more like three separate episodes of a really bad TV show. I score, when it comes to these things, for the vampire segment and – as best of a bad bunch I’ll give that 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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