Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Catman in Lethal Track (1990)

It's taken us a while but we're finally here. Today we're talking about Godfrey Ho. Now, for those of you who aren't fans of bad films from Hong Kong, Ho was a director who made a name for himself by taking unfinished films and splicing new footage of his own actors into them, resulting in two separate plotlines that were supposed to be related. This is usually done via badly dubbed exposition scenes edited in to make it seem two characters, one from each plotline, are talking to one another. He also made a lot of movies about ninjas. Ninjas who wore headbands that had NINJA emblazoned across them and had incredibly brightly coloured outfits.

I know you're hoping I'm making this up. I'm not.

I like to refer to his films as Hosploitation, because they really are a genre unto themselves. They even inspired a rather brilliant spoof that you should go check out sometime. but we're not going to be talking about the obvious targets from his filmography or the glouriousness of Pierre Kirby today. No, this is Superhero Week and that means we're going to be talking about the movie series that introduced me to Godfrey Ho as a child. We're going to talk about Catman.

No, not that one. We're not that lucky. Not you and not me.
Now, I'm not really sure what to say about this movie from the outset. As a kid I saw it on the video store shelves and just rented it because I was getting interested in superheroes and curiosity kicked in. I was so innocent back then, with my horror movies and dismembered G.I. Joes. I knew not what cesspool I was diving into. I just knew that it was clearly a superhero film I had not seen or heard of, so it needed to be watched. How'd that go? About as well as you might expect but it's probably best that we go over it anyway.

And try not to think about the better Catman we could be talking about instead.
Our hero is a guy named Sam, who is a fairly normal guy. You know, as normal as you can be when you and your best friend may both be on the cusp of becoming CIA agents. As one does, they spy a gang breaking into a vehicle that is probably full of things that will cause a normal person to become a deformed bag of explosive gore just waiting to wander out in front of Red Foreman as he attempts to escape from Robocop's partner.

I'll take any excuse to talk about a better movie.
The two buddies beat up the acid-washed assholes but something silly and entirely expected happens. A radioactive cat...yes, you read that right...sitting calmly in cage in the vehicle, gives our hero a light scratch. Behold, instant superhero! Just add radioactive animal and stir. I just love how silly this is, I really do. No supernatural origin involving animals, no genetic tampering, no mutation brought on by natural evolution even a glowing space rock. Nope, he's attacked pitifully by a radioactive kitty. I can only assume the cat then made its way to Egypt to live in tunnels in an underground pyramid.

It all makes perfect sense now.
This means that, of course, Sam is going to get cat-like abilities like napping for hours at a time, having multiple nipples, growing barbs on his penis, and licking his own nethers at length in the kitchen while other people are trying to make food. Okay, I'm joking...we don't find out what powers he gets yet. First we've got to meet his villain! Yes, before he's even got a costume, we're introduced to Father Cheever, Catman's future nemesis that confirms that some priests just can't be trusted. Actually, that was a lesson I learned when I watched Poltergeist II and learned what true pants-shitting terror looks like.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHH!
And yes, before anyone asks, there is another story running concurrent to all of this lunacy. I won't be talking about any of it. Not a single frame. We're here to talk about Catman, not the movie stapled on his side. Moving on past that, Sam is having some issues that either mean he's hallucinating because he's getting new superhuman powers or he's a bout to make a cameo appearance in Videodrome. His television is coming on, seemingly on its own, you see. Then he begins experimenting, learning that he apparently has the ability to tell electronics to turn on and off at his command. Interesting, but what do that have to do with cats, exactly?

POKEMON DOESN'T COUNT AS AN EXPLANATION, DAMMIT!
He also has laser vision, super strength, and possibly a super penis. Not really sure about that last one. Maybe his buddy Gus just looked at his crotch because he really wants to blow his newly barbed dick? Sam putting his hand through the wall must really get him in the mood. I can only assume Gus wants to fuck him regardless of powers anyway, since he sort of busted in the room uninvited, probably hoping to catch Sam undressing or cleaning himself with that new cat tongue.

"I really like your shorts, Sam, but I'd like them better with your penis inside of me."
Moving on past Gus' need for seed, we next see him undercover as a construction worker. Either that or he's disguised as one of the Village People, which doesn't really matter as there's likely a desire for man-meat regardless of the role he now plays. The denim doofs show up with their leader, who I assume is named Medicin. It's on his vest, so we're gonna roll with it. Things happen, Gus is about to get a mean fisting that is not at all what he hoped it would be, and we finally get to see Sam in costume as he shows up to save the day.

It's moments like these that remind me why I still keep coming back for more.
I can't decide what I love more, his receding hairline, the studded bracers, the cat symbol that is just a picture of an entire cat, or that strangely complicated looking mask. Catman is here and he's the best kind of silly. I adore him. It's like Green Hornet is going through his punk phase. The situation gets handled and the two men end up with a test tube that needs checking out on the Cat Computer. Oh my god, this fucking movie. After this they also end up with a piece of jewelry marked with someone's initials...which I guess is scene that we didn't see because the other movie has to take place alongside this far more entertaining acid trip. They attempt to guess what the initials stand for but are idiots, so these guesses include hot clam chowder. Eventually they realize it's the Holy Church of Cheever, which they express all surprised despite the fact that Gus is aware of Cheever being bad.

They're the heroes we deserve, apparently.
They bribe a bum with food to get him to talk about the bad guys, which I guess he does? I don't know, he doesn't seem to help much and they don't really describe the actual guys they're looking for very well. Hell, Gus seems to think one of them wore a turban based on this whole scene, which just leaves me incredibly confused at how he got a job at the CIA. Maybe he screwed his way in?

"How dare you! I would never cheat on Sam! Now hold this sombrero while I find the Ushanka to put on."
Our heroes arrive as the bad guys are about o execute one of their own...which I guess is to boost morale...and she returns the kindness by spraying them with knock-out gas or something. They awake to find the words "Don't Fuck with Cheever" and whole lot of me wondering why nothing else was done to them. They're not restrained, injured, dead, maimed, comatose, or poisoned. They're not even sexually molested, but I guess that's just something Batman saves for initiating people into his team of crime fighters.

"Yes, Robin. Cover her nipple so Brian doesn't have to blur anything for once."
After being beaten rather pathetically, Sam pouts and draws for a while, leaving it to the television to literally give him the answer as it shows a commercial for Cheever's  Everybody Go to God event, which you'd think the name of would raise the suspicions of law enforcement. It literally sounds like, just based on the name alone, he's going to attempt to kill a whole lot of people. Sam and Gus go and find the bum again, give him a nice shot to the gut, and he points them in the right way...which they should know already, since one of them is clearly in the CIA and the other saw the event ADVERTISED ON TV.

"You can't trust everything you see on TV! Clarissa didn't explain it all! I was lied to repeatedly!"
Luckily, no one really showed up for the clear "hey, let's all go die" rally and Cheever and his goons get their asses kicked summarily by our two stupendous heroes. We even see an Asian priest fight Catman which ends...with Gus shooting him. More fun than that though is when Catman removes a piece of his mask/goggles and throws in at Cheever, killing him. I have to say, I didn't see that coming. I just thought those things looked that way because someone on set thought they looked cool.

They'd be right too. I want a pair.
That's all folks! Okay, that's not actually all, as there is a sequel that I never actually watched. I don't remember being particularly fond of this movie when I watched it back in the day but now I have a hard time hating it. It's completely ridiculous on every level, is so cheap that it appears to have been filmed in a day, and the other film stuff distracts from what is clearly meant to be the main attraction. Overall, it's a bad movie that deserves to be watched and enjoyed for how beautifully bad it is. I almost expected pink ninjas to attack Catman and that would've still felt in line with the tone.

"I only hire ninjas that wear jean jackets!"
If you love so bad they're good movies, put this movie on your list. It makes no sense and has a worse script than the worst Power Rangers episodes, but dammit it was fun as hell. It's definitely more watchable than some other larger budget ninja focused films. It's funnier too. So, until we get a reboot of this glourious franchise starring Christian Bale, I'll be here trying to figure out in my cats have laser vision. Later days, bleeders.

Well, my face isn't melting yet...

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