Friday, June 4, 2010

Canon MST3K Review: Red Zone Cuba

Well, I should have known better. A few years ago, I saw the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 version of Red Zone Cuba with some friends of mine. I remember it being very bad, but I had forgotten just how bad. Until today, when after coming home from work, I decided, what the hey, I'm going to watch me some Red Zone Cuba. Well, that was a mistake. Red Zone Cuba is not a movie for people that like movies or being entertained, rather, it is a task to prove how mentally tough one is. If you are able to survive it all in one setting, you should be proud of yourself. I survived, but with two caveats. One, I at least had the comforting words and jokes of Mike, Servo, and Crow, even if Mike seemed exhausted by the ineptness of this film halfway through, and two, this movie is so mentally draining that I had to get off the computer, take a step back, and sit on the couch for 10 minutes just to comprehend the horror I had just witnessed. As Crow said during the movie, "I want to hurt this movie, but I can never hurt it in the ways it has hurt me."  Directed, produced, and acted in by Coleman Francis, Red Zone Cuba is currently listed as the worst movie of all time according to the ratings system at Say what you will about the denizens of that site, but they nailed one right on the head. A few notes from this torturous film.

- I would describe the plot, but I don't think they had a script. Instead they would film one sequence of scenes, go to bed, show up tomorrow and shoot a bunch of other scenes that had nothing to do with the stuff they just shot. As best as I can tell, Griffin (Coleman Francis) joins up with two drifters named Cook (Harold Saunders) and Landis (co-producer Anthony Cardoza). They need work, so they decide to get a pilot named Cherokee Jack to fly them to Cuba so they can take part in the revolution there as soldiers of fortune. From there it falls apart, I think there's something about a tungsten mine or something, I don't know, and I wonder if Francis actually knew himself.
- Griffin, Francis' character, looks like Curly from the Three Stooges, and seems to be the most miserable man alive. He has a constant scowl on his face, yells at and even strangles one of his cohorts, shoots and kills people for no good reason and seems to take pleasure in absolutely nothing. He gives the audience no reason to care for him or to feel sympathy towards him.
- Everybody in this movie acts as if they lost their best friend, and yet for some reason, the score of the film is full of light-hearted, happy songs. I'm guessing Mr. Francis just put whatever song was available to him on the movie without considering how it would fit.
- If I could sum up this movie in one scene, it's this. After the three escape a Cuban prison (which seems to be somebody's toolshed), the three find an airfield nearby. One of them is a pilot of sort, and is able to go into three planes before settling on one to fly, without detection of the armed guards. After he starts the plane, Griffin and the other guy run towards the plane, and the Cuban guards pursue them with the enthusiasm of a man forced by his wife to see Sex in the City 2. They catch up to the plane, and just as when things actually start to get exciting, the movie cuts to another scene with the plane landing in a desert somewhere, without any explanation or footage of how exactly did they escape the guards shooting at them.
- Speaking of desert, the whole movie was set there, even the scenes in "Cuba". But what's worse is all the repeated shots in the movie. In a rope climbing sequence where Coleman and the other six revolutionaries invade Cuba, they show the same guy climbing a rope twice, and when that didn't fill up enough time, they decided, what the hell, let's just show that entire rope climbing scene again. Then there's the chase scene where the action manages to take place both at day and night, at the same time. My goodness, how is that possible?
- The movie features a cameo by John Carradine, a star of many, many films. He's in the movie for about 20 seconds, but for reasons unknown, is tapped to sing the theme song to Red Zone Cuba, "Night Train to Mundo Fine." As Servo put it, "they don't call John Carradine 'the voice' for nothing."
- The movie is proceeded by a short about posture while delivering a speech. It's basically ten minutes of telling you to stand up straight during a speech, but compared to Red Zone Cuba, this short was like The Dark Knight.

Overall, this is one movie that, as Tom Servo puts it, "dares you to watch it". Even with the riffs and some rather funny host bits in between the movie scenes, this is just hard to watch. If you are interested in making movies, you should watch Red Zone Cuba so you know what not to do, and just do the opposite of every single thing in the movie. This is the worst movie of all time. People rag on Ed Wood or other directors of B-movies, but at least in their movies you can tell that they at least were trying to make something good, even if they failed horribly. In Red Zone Cuba, not only is it low-budget, but it seems as if nobody is even trying to make this good. I'll give this movie a negative 5.4 out of 10, and the episode a 1.5 out of 10, as they try hard, but damn it is a hard pill to swallow.

Well, thanks for reading, as a reward, here's a couple of videos relating to Red Zone Cuba.

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