Greetings again, mellow readers, and welcome to A Mind Occasionally Voyaging, where my ceaseless efforts to recapture my long-lost youth will take me to the very depths of terrible old movies I dimly recollect from childhood. This week we’re going to look at an old classic from–
EEEGAH! It’s– Um. It’s. Okay, No idea.
Roseb– Oh. Sorry. Is this better? I forget what I look like to morals sometimes.
EEEGAH! It’s the ghost of Orson Welles!
Yes. Long ago, I shuffled off this mortal coil, and since then, my meanderings in the great beyond have led me to acquire deepest knowledge of the great mysteries of the universe.
Wow. And you’re going to share them with me?
Of course not. Why, the merest sentence of the infinite knowledge I possess would cause your thyroid gland to dissolve into delicious frozen peas. Mmm… Peas…
Right. So then, what brings you here, former Mr. Welles?
It recently came to my attention that you expressed concern over my later carer in a conversation with a Mr. Prime.
Oh, that. Yeah. I thought it was really a shame how you never got the respect you really deserved in your later years.
That’s why I have appeared to you now. I wanted you to understand that here in the afterlife, I am beyond all such material concerns. I can see all the days of my life laid out before me, and I realize that, all in all, I had a pretty good run and I regret nothing.
Not even Future Shock?
Not even Future Shock.
Wow. The afterlife sounds awesome.
Yes. But I have come to you with a grave warning.
Oh crap. Am I going to be visited by three spirits?
Probably. But that’s not really relevant to my warning. As the maker of what is unarguably the greatest film ever made, I have come to warn you: your choice of films to review lacks any sort of cohesion. Why, it’s as if you’re choosing films entirely at random without any thought to how your body of reviews work as a whole.
My God, you’re right Former Mr. Welles! If I don’t clean up my act and fly right, will I be doomed to wander the earth after my death, bound in chains, never stopping, never knowing a minute’s peace?
No. You’ll just go to hell. But I wouldn’t worry too much about that. You’re pretty much damned anyway for practicing the wrong religion.
What? But I thought all religions were paths to God!
Nope. The only true religion is Frooblintarianism. Unfortunately, the great prophet Froblintar was born on the planet Gelgamar IV in the year 500,023 BC.
Oh. Sucks to be us then.
So I guess there’s really only one thing for it. One way to make my reviews more coherently themed. I need to do… A miniseries. A movie-thon all bound together by the common thread of one man. A man whose contribution to modern film is unquestionable. A man whose name is already famous in the annals of cinematographic history.
Good to see you’ve come to your senses.
Yes! I can see it now. There’s no other choice. I shall do a marathon. A marathon dedicated to the greatest star of film history. A marathon of the film masterpieces of… Michael Moriarty!
Yes! No, wait. Who?
Michael Moriarty! Isn’t it obvious, Former Mr. Welles?
I mean, with last time’s The Stuff, I’m already one film in. There must be ones, nay, tens of ones of fine films starring the most fantastically-foreheaded man of action that the 1980s ever produced.
I think I’ll be leaving now.
Oh no you don’t, Former Mr. Welles. You got me into this, and you’re going to see it through with me. Now, let’s pull up IMDB and see what we’ve got…
Oh. Huh. That’s… Okay. Well, maybe we’ll have a spot of luck with this one..
Starring Michael Moriarty (and Michael Moriarty)
Directed by Alberto de Martino
We open from a peeping-tom shot looking in on a freeze-framed ballroom as the credits run, gently reassuring us tht this film will indeed star Michael Moriarty and — HOLY CRAP!
I mentioned once before that Moriarty, during this phase of his career, bore a striking resemblance to a doughier Ben Browder. Cameron Mitchell is, of course, the recklessly loveable Air Force Colonel who replaced General Jack O’Neill in Stargate SG-1’s final seasons. And he was played by none other than Professional Michael-Moriarty-Impersonator Ben Browder. And now we find mention of a Cameron Mitchell in a Michael Moriarty film. Clearly this can be no mere coincidence, and must point to some kind of deep occult link between the two, like how Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy and Kennedy had one named Lincoln.
The action finally starts up and we are treated to the back of Michael Moriarty’s head as he dances with a slightly older womanWho kinda looks like but is not Ma’am from Web*Ster to no music. Bystanders comment on how the couple seem so happy, what with the continuing to dance even after the music stops. Moriarty courts his date using his seductively honeyed southern accent (Michael Moriarty is from Michigan, I think). She is clearly smitten, and a little flabbergasted by the fact that someone so rich, so handsome, and so full of forehead as Michael Moriarty could be so loving to a woman so hideously wizened as her, what with her advanced age of perhaps 35 or 40. The music starts up again, maybe. I can’t tell. The music sounds like incidental music and while the other dancers take the floor, they aren’t moving anything like in time to the music the audience hears.
Michael Moriarty thanks the aged crone for the beautiful gold watch she gave him, then dances her into an empty area and apparently hugs her to death. It takes only a second. One good squeeze and she’s dead. I’m reminded of the Cybermen in Revenge of the Cybermen, who similarly like to kill people with what’s meant to be a show of cyber-strength, but look like they’re administering death in the form of a vigorous shoulder massage
As Michael nonchalantly leaves the part, his date’s body slumps forward a bit, showing what I’m guessing is a small scratch on her shoulder, which is no where even close to where Michael Moriarty’s hands were when he killed her.
Suddenly, Michael Moriarty wakes up in bed to a phone call. Ah, the first scene must have been a dream — surely the great Michael Moriarty couldn’t be a murderer! On his way to work, he stops to apologize to his maid for not gathering up his laundry for her. And then he kisses her. Given the reaction it gets, I’m going to guess that this was an unscripted addition by Moriarty.
Entirely unprofessional. I would never have kissed a woman in a film. Utter rubbish!
Moriarty next encounters the maid’s husband, Santa Claus, so they can get off some exposition to let us know that Michael Moriarty is a doctor and is in a sort of relationship with another doctor named Julie Warren. As he walks to work, he has a flash of Moriartyvision in a dome mirror, seeing the tuxedo’d Moriarty of the previous night.
His drive to work is punctuated by several beer-goggle’d visions of himself picking up a trashy blonde in a fur coat and nothing else. She seductively removes her coat, then puts it back on, and then Moriarty sees himself in a gray coat, murdering the blonde. Black-coated Moriarty cuts his hand on some window glass trying to run away, giving us a good chance to notice that he’s not wearing a watch.
When he arrives at work, he gets cuddly with Julie and explains how he’s had one nightmare and one hallucination of himself killing women, and he’s worried that his new experimental therapy technique has unlocked some kind of evil Mr. Hyde side to his personality. He also plays with the hair at his temple, so that Julie can point out the the audience that it’s a very distinctive mannerism that he has.
A board meeting expositions to us that Moriarty (Whose name is “Dr. Craig Mannings”, but I object to that, so instead I will continue to call him Michael Moriarty for as long as possible) is working on a new therapy tehnique which can control dreams, memory, fear, depression, and all personality flaws using a combination of accupuncture, electrocution, and “courage”.
Moriarty has another vision during his next self-therapizing session, and it prompts him to fly to Cleveland.
While I am forbidden to hand out the secrets of the universe, I do feel compelled to tell you that nearly two thirds of all electo-therapy-induced visions lead people directly to Cleveland.
In Cleveland, he visits a senile old woman in a nursing home, who recognizes him, but calls him “Keith”, prompting Michael Moriarty to reveal that he is, in fact, Keith Mannings’s identical twin brother! More, Craig (grr) and Keith were… Siamese Twins!. His parents had died, and, I gather, as is the usual practice in movies, the state made a concerted effort to separate the twins and ensure that they never ever met again. Does this ever happen in real life? I mean, I know that, in spite of their attempts, it’s not always possible to keep families together in foster care, but even when they end up having to break upfamilies, they’ve got to make an effort to keep siblings at least in contact with one another?
Well, they never tried to keep you in touch with your Siamese twin brother.
I don’t have a Siamese twin brother. And also, I think “conjoined” is the polite term for that.
That’s what you think. Didn’t you ever wonder about that strange scar on your hip?
I don’t have a scar on my hip. I — HOLY CRAP HOW LONG HAVE I HAD THAT SCAR?
I’ve said too much already.
Y.e.a.h… The senile old lady tells Michael Moriarty #1, thinking that he is Michael Moriarty #2, that she’d been kind to him by keeping him out of is court-ordered therapy for his nacient insanity. Moriarty notes that both his own caretaker and the senile old woman both are unwilling to admit to their respective wards that they’d had a conjoined twin, and the old woman reveals that Moriarty #2 had not, as Moriarty #1 thought, died in a fire when he was 17.
Back home, Moriarty #1 enjoys a gratuitous topless scene from Julie as and explains that he didn’t really need to go to Cleveland, because he’d intitively known the entire time that his long-lost brother was still alive and that his recent visions had been him seeing through his brother’s eyes. Rendering most of Good Moriarty’s scenes so far entirely pointless. Still, I guess it was polite of him to take the audience with him as he demonstrated all these things he already knew. Julie is understandably worried that the effect might work both ways, allowing Evil Moriarty to see her moderately nice breasts. Neither one of them is especially concerned by the fact that they’ve just discovered the secret to psychic remote viewing powers, or that Good Moriarty’s brother is a serial killer. I think the idea here is that Julie doesn’t really believe Good Moriarty, but as the alternative is that her boyfriend and research partner is insane, she seems to be taking it in stride.
Good Moriarty gets another message from the Big Giant Forehead, leding him to a harbor in Germany, and he’s off on the trail! Evil Moriarty sets his eyes on a new victim, but is cockblocked by a Cameron Mitchell. No, not him: him, who I now remember is the guy who played the santa-like captain of the space ship in Space Mutiny and the heavy in that Fugitive-In-Space pilot that they did on MST3K. Cameron Mitchell is a washed up prize figher who mistakes Evil Moriary for Good Moriarty, who’d fixed his broken arm some years back. (Wait. He’s that kind of doctor? That makes no sense. I thought he was some kind of psychiatric researcher.), Evil Moriary plays along. Meanwhile. I think Good Moriarty visits the ballroom from the opening scene and meets the dour majordomo. But it’s hard to tell when you’ve got your main character in a double role and don’t ahve the decency to give one of them a goatee.
(Continued after the jump…)