The Extra-Terrestrial Cat in Boots (1990)

Watching foreign movies without subtitles is an art. It's something only a handful of movie fans are willing to subject themselves to and only as a last resort. When the alternative is NOT watching a movie called "The Extra-Terrestrial Cat in Boots" featuring Coffin Joe, there really is no option at all. It simply must be done. I had hoped that my vague memories of "Puss in Boots" would  be favorable in my comprehension of the film. On a very basic level, it was, but as soon as I saw spaceships and wizards I knew this would be yet another subtitle-less testament to my obsession with both bizarre and cat related movies.

On that note, let's meet O Gato himself...

Clearly one of the greatest Man-Cats to ever grace the screen. The mask was actually pretty well made and at times reminded me of the Beast in Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast. Not THAT well made of course, but in the sense that it was kind of life-like, partially animated and TOTALLY creepy. If you're not as enthralled with the appearance of O Gato as I am, you probably won't like the rest of the movie because there's a lot of him just walking around catching ducks and shit. Unless of course you speak Portuguese  then you may dislike the movie for a number of other reasons.

The spaceship of course being nowhere on that list.

For the most part the film does follow the original story. The Cat from outer-space comes to earth in a Star Wars-esque ship with a group of fellow spacemen (regular looking men, no more man-cats unfortunately). All but one seem to disappear after the first scene. It's pretty clear after about 15 minutes in that O Gato's companion is supposed to be the Miller's Son from the original fable whom the Cat hooks up with treasures and princesses and what-have-yous. 

The bad guy is a cool-looking Sorcerer with a really cute pet owl. He spends a lot of time in his castle making poo-poo faces and pouring blue liquid into beakers. 

Look how cute that owl is! Omg.

I was under the false impression that José Mojica Marins was a primary character when I procured this little gem. He's in the film for maybe five minutes. Although I have no idea why or what he's saying, he gave the film the Coffin Joe touch, which makes ALL films complete. He basically floats around, follows O Gato, confronts him, says something menacing then disappears  I can only assume that he's a shape-shifted version of the Sorcerer/Ogre character that lives in the castle.

Who's that on that thar' mountain?

Oh Snap! It's Zé do Caixão! Hide your town virgins!

The castle. Just because it's cool.

The things that made O Gato De Botas Extraterrestre confusing were the things that also made it interesting and set apart from your garden variety Puss in Boots Kiddie Matinee feature. If you know the story, you could probably get through it easily and take from it a bounty of strangeness. I'm still on the prowl for a subtitled copy but as for now I'm satisfied with my subtitle-less Man-Cat-Alien-Sorcery-Coffin-Joe experience.

I'd like to start reviewing all the different versions of Puss in Boots as a personal project. I have the K. Gordon Murray one in my possession which will probably come soon. This will of course exclude the recent Hollywood film which I have no interest in whatsoever. I recall a straight to video version from the late 80's with Christopher Walken that I'll probably revisit as well. Any suggestions, dear readers?


Roseland - 1971

Fredric Hobbs is one of those cult filmmakers who you either get it or you don't. His movies may appear to be just a few of the thousands of low budget genre films being cranked out in the 70's, upon closer inspection you'll find a whole world of mutant sheep, mystic ganja, ghost magicians, frankenstein vampires, mind control, race relations, voodoo, naked hippies, weirdly sculptural cars, a black Hieronymus Bosch and quirky sexual peccadilloes. I'm a little obsessed with him and I'm so happy to finally be able to review the last of his three accessible films, Roseland.

By far Hobbs' most sexually driven story. It follows a man named Adam (played by Hobbs alumni E. Kerrigan Prescott) who's become obsessed with voyeurism after studying the painting The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. He's unable to perform sexually so he steals porno reels and becomes a bonafide peeping tom. His obsession has ruined his career as a singer so he now spends hours in a therapist's chair trying to come to terms with his problems. Roseland, like all of Hobbs films, takes many creative liberties. Adam's hypno-therapy puts him in a deep state of sleep where we see an expressive nudist hippie dream sequence in slow motion. Extended even more with Adam and a particular girl rolling around naked in a filtered softcore love scene. Not the most interesting part of the film, but relevant. There's also the infamously amazing song and dance flashback where Adam and his band perform "You Cannot Fart Around with Love", which is one of the more endearing moments in the film. I like when it becomes clear that although an experimental filmmaker, Hobbs isn't taking himself TOO seriously.


Our hero Adam, also know as the Black Bandit for his porn thievery, gets a job in the box office of a burlesque theater where we get to see a very raunchy strip-tease from a lady performer and and even more entertaining strip-tease by Adam himself where he's shimmies down to nothing but a pair of lacy panties. He's inevitably hauled off to a metal institution where he seduces nurses which I suppose would mean he's cured of his little problem, thought it's never directly addressed. A black Hieronymus Bosch appears (played by Christopher Brooks, another Hobbs alumni) and begins explaining everything to Adam in a very poetic, somewhat irrational Hobbsian way. Simply put, the reason Adam was so drawn to the Garden of Earthly Delights is because it is Adam's future. Adam is intended to be ADAM (of Adam and Eve fame) after the impending apocalypse which is sure to happen because of how shitty we treat our planet. Gotta love the eco-political undertones. We're then propelled into the future where the evil therapist is flying overhead in a plane spraying some kind of poisoned gas into the air where Adam's nudist hippie fantasy was taking place, only this time it's real? Everyone dies except Adam and his fantasy Eve (the girl he was rolling around with) who float away on a giant phallic rose, making love, probably repopulating the human race.

Hobbs films appeal to a very small audience. Look up reviews for any of these. Roseland, Godmonster of Indian Flats or Alabama's Ghost (you can find my reviews for the other films HERE and HERE, and mentioned in my review for Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is a conversation I had with his editor Richard Brummer). His style doesn't jive with a lot of people's taste.  He's definitely trying to convey a message with these films and being that they are also b-movies, that can be difficult to get across to an audience. You really have to have a strong appreciation for both low budget and outsider cinema to dig Hobbs' work. The ability to suspend disbelief doesn't hurt either. The political aspects of his films haven't moved me much, most likely from such a huge generational gap. The strong imagery and artistic stylings hold it all together in a way I can only loosely compare to the work of Russ Meyer and Andy Milligan. I enjoy seeing the same cast return for each film as well. I mentioned in my review for Alabama's Ghost that E. Kerrigan Scott was a personal favorite of mine. Roseland has secured a place in my heart for that guy. I just love seeing his bearded face, and you can tell her really loved making these movies. 

He would have to love making these movies to let Hobbs put a rose in his anus.

I'm not sure where I would rank Roseland in correlation with the other two Hobbs films I've seen. As a general rule I tire of sex scenes quickly.  Roseland is a little different. It FEELS different and the gonzoid plot kept me completely captivated. They're all so unique, atmospheric and wonderful. I know this will probably be the last Fredric Hobbs review I do for a while, if ever again. His remaining films are near impossible to locate. I'm currently trying to track down a copy of his film Troika from 1969. I've spoken to a few people who have seen it so I know there are copies floating around out there somewhere*, hopefully one day I'll be able to experience it myself. I have little hope for ever finding his first film "Trojan Horse" (1967), a documentary on the creation of one of his parade sculptures. His website also cites a final film from 1978 called "The Richest Place on Earth", which I had previously read was a book he co-wrote and illustrated. Not sure if that's misinformation or if he actually made a film based on the book. 

I wish there was a bigger following for Fredric Hobbs. His films and artwork deserve more exposure. I'm just happy to have experienced these three wonderful films that have become pivotal pieces in my huge cannon of movies I'm obsessed with. Something Weird no longer carries Roseland so if you're lucky enough to find a copy, give it a spin and let me know what you think.

*If anyone knows where I can find a copy of  Troika, I will make it worth your while.


Ubu Roi - 1965

Movies heavily influenced by a political or anti-political agenda have never really been my forte. However, in Europe (mainly Eastern Europe and definitely in Russia) fantasy and sci-fi films are used as a creative outlet for retelling tales of communist oppression in a much prettier package. It's safe to say that the subject only appeals to me, enough to write about at least, if it's done in a visually stimulating and theatrical way. When I came across Jean-Christophe Averty's adaptation of Ubu Roi and it's expressive black and white cut-up style visuals, I knew it was something I needed to see no matter what it was about.

Based on Alfredy Jarrry's 1896 play about a greedy, overweight, selfish asshole named Pere Ubu. [Yes, Pere Ubu, one can only assume that this is where the seminal post punk punk band drew their inspiration.  Having never heard of Ubu Roi or Jarry's other plays, I had never caught the reference.] Ubu Roi follows Pere Ubu on his journey to overthrow the current ruler and become King of Poland. Along the way he betrays many of his followers ("the Pere Ubists", if you will), taxes the civilians to an unreasonable degree and eventually slaughters just about everyone. Along his side, is the equally crude but somehow more likable Mere Ubu, who's like a foul mouthed Lady Macbeth. Despite her showing similar infantile and heartless characteristics, she's a good foil for Pere Ubu and I can't help but enjoy seeing her giving him a hard time.

Jarry's plays were often criticized for being juvenile and unfinished, but it was these kinds of bourgeoisie and pretentious sentiments that he was mocking to begin with. His plays are the earliest examples of Theater of the Absurd, and not only that, they're fucking hilarious. Ubu Roi is like Shakespeare with fart jokes. Jean-Christophe Averty's influence is not to be overlooked either. His made for tv adaptation features simplistic but highly effective and visually exciting animation. I couldn't help but be reminded of the work of Karel Zeman with films such as Baron Prasil and A Deadly Invention using more expansive but similar cut-up animation techniques. I also noticed some striking similarities to Forbidden Zone, not just in it's vaudevillian cartoonish style, but thematically as well. And I would be remiss to acknowledge one final reference, as my husband pointed out, Pere Ubu bears a striking resemblance to Oogie Boogie from Nightmare before Christmas. It didn't take much research to come to the conclusion that he was in fact a major inspiration for that character.

Don't you want to see it now???  Luckily, you don't have to look very far. The entire thing is on youtube with subtitles...

An illuminating viewing experience indeed. Not only did I learn about this admittedly famous character that I probably should have already been familiar with, but it lead me to discover Jean-Christophe Averty who is officially on my "Directors-to-Obsess-Over-In-The-Future" list. He's probably most known for directing the 30 minute short "Melody" aka "Histoire de Melody Nelson" starring Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. He also has a myriad of experimental art films to his credit, all of which I need in my life. Hopefully I'll have more to say on Averty in future reviews.

A brief apology for my absence. I've been in a transitional period between jobs but movies have recently come back into the forefront of my priorities and I have a dozen or so titles I want to review from just the past few weeks. You'll be seeing much more of me in the future, I promise ;-).