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DVD Review: Cinematic Titanic Live – War of the Insects

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Stock footage of a nuclear explosion is shown, to wit veteran movie-riffer Trace Beaulieu quips, “Michelle Bachman’s first day as President.” And thus begins Cinematic Titanic’s journey into Genocide, a crazy Japanese flick from 1968 that is better known to American audiences (well, the ones who have actually seen it, that is) as War of the Insects. Filmed before a packed house, the dedicated staff of Cinematic Titanic — Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff (in a Man from U.N.C.L.E. shirt!), Mary Jo Pehl, and J. Elvis Weinstein — exercise the heckling skills they oh-so-masterfully honed in on during their respective days on cult TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000.

And, with a title like War of the Insects, the bashing is truly deserving. The bizarro tale brings us the account of a crazy white lady (played by beautiful Cathy Horan, who also appeared in The Green Slime and Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell the same year and vanished completely after 1969) on a remote Japanese island who is determined to bring about the destruction of mankind via poisonous insects that “hit the nerves causing insanity!” There’s also a hotel/bar owner that looks like a Japanese Hitler, who opens the door to many witticisms, as do the rest of the film’s cast — including an overacting Chico Lourant (aka Chico Roland, who, strangely enough, continued to work after this) who suffers from frequent flashbacks and loves to shout out “Insects!” and “Genocide!”

Yeah, it’s bad. But these folks make it good with a verbal arsenal of well-timed puns and jabs at movies, people, and events from the past and present alike. One point in the film finds two of the film’s unlikable “heroes” asleep, prompting Beaulieu to state “Ah, finally: a scene the audience can relate to.” Other memorable moments include an appropriate Gamera reference by Joel (something the longtime MST3K fans in the audience go crazy for, as well as a Tom Servo comment) and plenty of Frank’s patented giggling. The performance is introduced by the great Dave “Gruber” Allan (of The Higgins Boys and Gruber fame), and the DVD contains glimpses at other live releases, which are all available from the Cinematic Titanic website.

Recommended.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.