Bill’s Bizarre Bijou
By William D. Carl
This week’s feature presentation:
INVASION OF THE GIRL SNATCHERS (1973)
Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made. If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it. Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open. Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.
Every once in a great while, I make a discovery—a film that was created and distributed and absolutely nobody has ever heard of it. These movies are so unknown, they are only noticed by late night cable viewers, who have probably suffered enough evenings of insomnia to question their sanity. ‘Surely,’ they whisper to themselves, ‘Nobody could have really made this or unleashed it on poor sleep-deprived viewers.’ In the morning, they believe they dreamed the whole incredible movie.
Oh, but they didn’t.
Such a film is THE HIDAN OF MAUKBEIANGJOW (1973), also known under the much more attention-grabbing moniker of INVASION OF THE GIRL SNATCHERS. The culprits involved in the making of this spoof of detective and science fiction features used a lot of pseudonyms. It was the only directing credit for Lee Jones, although he did produce many William Girdler films, such as GRIZZLY (1976), THREE ON A MEATHOOK (1973), and the hideous ASYLUM OF SATAN (1972). The writers, Carla Rueckert and Don Elkins (who used the pseudonym Phineas T. Pinkham) never worked again except as producers of a 1978 documentary THE FORCE BEYOND. The cast never graced the screen again, with the exception of Hugh Smith, who DID star in THE GET-MAN (1973) and an episode of THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1981). It makes me believe a bunch of friends got together one weekend and decided, “Hey! We have a farmhouse! Let’s put up some curtains and build a stage! We could put on a show!” It has that free-wheeling early seventies feel, and that’s not a bad thing.
In fact, you get past those non-credits, and you end up with a very funny little no-budget movie starring some pretty girls and a bunch of hippies about white slavery rings, UFO cults, private detectives, goofy songs, zombies, and lots of funny (no, seriously, it is funny) dialogue. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night.
The song at the beginning of the film, done in funny sing-song narration, a la CAT BALLOU (1965), claims, “If you think that you understand what’s goin’ on, my friend let me tell you for sure that you’re wrong…somehow it oughtta make sense, but I really don’t see how it can.” Wiser words were never spoken, er, sung.
After a hippie on a motorcycle named Kaspar witnesses two men snatching a pretty girl, he returns to a hotel where his boss, private detective Sam Trowel, and Sam’s stoned-looking girlfriend Ruthie—who is played by the illustrious writer of this film, blonde, bewigged Carla Rueckert—are staying. They listen to their instructions on a cassette tape, which informs them that six girls have been kidnapped, but one girl, last Tuesday, reappeared engaged to a senator. Is this a plot against the government? To find out, we have a mole, Freddy Fingers, and they’re going to have girls delivered to their hotel in forty five minutes. “This tape will self-destruct in three seconds.” The group then stands around for at least thirty seconds waiting before giving up on the fireworks. Ruthie is going to switch places with the girl they have kidnapped while wearing a homing device shaped like a bra. “The homing device is in the boning.”
Freddy Fingers arrives with a hit man who never speaks named No Name. Ruthie takes the place of the girl, but when she is changing her clothes, she is caught and, topless, is tied up with her hands behind her back. The homing bra is left on a dresser. The kidnappers leave her alone for a moment, getting another girl, and Ruthie attempts to dial the police on a rotary phone using her left breast! Now, that is talent ladies and gentlemen. The bad guys get her and take her away with the other girl.
When Sam discovers Ruthie’s been abducted, he has to count on Kaspar, who knows where the two men have gone – a farmhouse in the country. Freddy Fingers and No Name lead the way to the house, followed by Kaspar and Freddy Fingers Jr, the hippie/hipster/psychotic brother of Freddy Fingers.
At the farmhouse, Ruthie is tied to what looks like a piece of plywood on two saw-horses while the sorcerer Ath, sporting a cool white robe, writes runic symbols on Ruthie’s boobs. Gadgets are adjusted (an oscilloscope), and the wizard Ath performs a ceremony that makes no sense whatsoever. “She is weak, un-strong, and out of tune.” He calls down aliens from the Red Star, who proceed to inhabit Ruthie’s body.
Kaspar finds a girl all trussed up and Freddy Jr. finds a hippie chick all tied up. Yep, lots of tying up in this movie. Kaspar’s girl, Bunny, gets away from the wimp, stealing Freddy’s car, but the other girl, Prudence, fights like a hellcat, only to be overpowered and tied up. Kaspar is ordered to watch her, but she convinces him the bindings hurt and that she has a cramp in her leg which he must rub out. The doofus frees her. She gets caught, and she is tied up again, this time alongside Kaspar. While they lie on a bed, unable to move, she reveals she is the apprentice to the wizard Ath (It thoundth like she’th lithping.), but now she has converted to some weird branch of Christianity, and she is trying to prevent an invasion from another dimension, from the Red Star. The two fall in love while tied up. Again.
Sam is seduced by a beautiful woman who tells him his body is ideal and she “has need of his body.” But she is an alien, and she kills him. Zombies, victims of Ath’s voodoo, attack the group. Sam Trowell becomes an alien with a hole in his head, and Ruthie delivers a message. Freddy Fingers says, “You look awful, baby. You been smokin’ ragweed?” The message is a map to another farmhouse where Ath and the hoodlums and a couple of micro-skirted female zombie/aliens are lurking. Ruthie guards the two prisoners, Prudence and Kaspar, while removing her blouse for no reason except to wipe off the glyphs Ath painted on her boobs. “Nice glyphs!” Kaspar says.
Oddly, those who are possessed by the aliens act like feeble-minded zombies, stumbling round, drinking cans of nitroglycerin (oh you just KNOW that’s coming back somehow), and futilely trying to figure out how guns work.
Freddy Fingers, Freddy Fingers Jr, and No Name arrive at the second farmhouse, where Ath is delivering a speech on the balcony like Eva Peron if she was an effeminate gay man. “For I will harvest in the forests of Seth.” What? None of his speech makes a lick of sense. But he gives it his all. Points for enthusiasm.
And not much about INVASION OF THE GIRL SNATCHERS makes much sense. Are these voodoo zombies or aliens possessing people or just bimbos without brains? If you’re looking for coherence and good plot and characters, go watch CASABLANCA (1942). This is a zany spoof, full of funny (and terrible) one-liners, references to other movies and TV series, and did I mention the pretty girls trying to rub the cramp out of Kaspar’s…well…that’s better left unsaid. In any case, it wasn’t meant to be anything but silly: the AIRPLANE(1980) of 1973.
And now a word about the musical narration written and sung by James DeWitt, that rambling banjo/guitar accompanied by Roger-Miller-on-LSD patter. As far as I can find, Mr. Dewitt never recorded any other music or wrote any other scores for films. Now, that’s a pity. The songs act as a witty counterpoint to the action of the movie, making everything funnier and sillier while also sometimes explaining the plot (as much as anyone ever could.) It’s a terrific score, part Bob Dylan and part Weird Al Yankovich and part John Denver. I wish I could find these songs on a CD, so I can relive lyrics like:
“The Jesus Freak that I met last week
Told me he could see my soul.
So I smiled and said I didn’t know it was showin’.
It seems everybody’s got an answer
And they spread it like a cancer
Hopin’ someday that they won’t all be liars.”
Or the immortal:
“When I was a boy, I followed you around,
With my tongue hanging halfway down to the ground,
And a beautiful bizarre beatin’ in my brain.
Ice cold shower in the middle of the night,
That freezin’ water, I was all uptight,
But it really didn’t help, ‘cause I loved you just the same.”
James Dewitt…where are you?
HIDAN OF MAUKBEIANGJOW – As the original tag-line says, “If you can’t say it, go see it!” I couldn’t agree more, although it will be hard to find a copy under either title!
I give INVASION OF THE GIRL SNATCHERS three and a half phone-dialing boobs! What a whacked out movie!
(By the way, a Hidan is a holy place, and I can’t find anything about what the hell a Maukbeiangjaw is, so your guess is as good as mine.)
© Copyright 2013 by William D. Carl