Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Curious Dr. Humpp

1969 **

I never actually owned an issue of Dynamite magazine, but I saw enough to remember the "bummers" on the back cover, little illustrated life foibles that all started with "Don't you hate..."  Well, don't you hate when you sit down to watch a nice horror movie and it turns out you're watching soft-core porn?  Me too!

Hi everybody, really sorry I've been such a ghost so far this month.  I finally got my computer back and blah blah boring.  If I'm going to bother making excuses, I should think of one for not guessing "Dr. Humpp" would be a doctor of mad sex-science, because that's what he is.

The movie surprised me right out of the gate for the combo of full-frontal nudity in black-and-white, and this just a few minutes in.  Saucy!  I soon realized what I'd wandered into, thanks to the subtle clue of a full fifteen minutes of dialogue-free scenes of tawdry people behaving in a tawdry manner, only to be menaced (and sort of off-screen kidnapped) by a hideous lurching creature with a silly mask, or maybe a silly face.

That little bump in the center of his forehead is a blinking light.  And why not?

This movie is brave enough to unflinchingly depict scene after scene of society's worst engaging in sex-like behavior.  I say sex-like because what happens is a lot of twisting and writhing and hands kind of nearing various naughty bits but never actually touching them. It's like minute after minute of first-stage foreplay, with a voice track of feminine moany noises and breathing.  Some kids making out in a car, a pair of lesbians, a quartet of stoned, orgy-having hippies, that woman in the top photo just having the same weird non-sex with herself -- everybody gets a visit from Mr. Lopsided Coconut Face and then we're onto the next scene of guttery action. For FIFTEEN MINUTES.

It took me three nights to watch this movie.  The same vibe that informed the opening cavalcade of yawn sex is felt throughout the movie, so for every boring quasi-sex scene there would be two scenes of Dr. Humpp's nurse ruthlessly measuring how long it takes to check things on a clipboard, prepare an injection, or put away stuff.

That's not to say the film is not completely without merit.  It's from the late sixties, when even an exploitation movie from Argentina could possess a certain stylish classiness.  And Dr. Humpp is a bona fide mad scientist, albeit not a very good one.  In addition to his big ugly monster, he has gang of mindless henchmen,

"Psst!  Hey dude, are you a statue or a guy?"

he takes his orders from an angry brain in a jar,

"No, I am not growing sea monkeys in there.  Stop asking."

and he maintains a colony of doped-out sex fiends so he can use the brain's vital sex-juices to keep him from succumbing to some awful deteriorating skin condition.

And the monster plays the lute!  Or whatever the heck that is.

He backs up these stylish trappings with the right attitude.  At one point the forgettable hero gets in his face and declares "You're a murderer!"

"So what." says Dr. Humpp.

Nevertheless this is one of those times in which the quirky vintage charm of the movie just doesn't make up for the Kmart clearance aisle quality.  I want to like Dr. Humpp's lecherous evil, but I don't want to spend three whole minutes watching him sit at his desk playing with flasks.

Trying to sum up this movie's dissatisfying vibe, I keep thinking of the many scenes in which people who are supposed to be on opposite sides of a room were clearly shot in different rooms on different days.  That disjointedness can get distracting.  The overall product isn't quite bad enough to be good.

For fun I like to pretend the cheapness of the production infused the narrative; that in the world of Mad Science, Dr. Humpp is considered third-rate, a hack.  Even his brain in a jar is crappy at being that, in the end it goes on an angry tirade and catches on fire.


Like many, many Horrorthon viewings past and future, I can't exactly recommend this, but it might be enjoyed with a friend or two, or some fireball whiskey, or all of those things.


JPX said...

(clapping hands slowly) Well, well, well, look who's back and better than ever! You have been missed, Octo, and I hope your silence means that you have been watching movies all along...

Hilarious review of (what sounds like) a terrible film. I'm surprised you were surprised by all the nudity given the title of the film includes the words "Dr. Humpp"! Hilarious photos and captions!

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Great to see you Octo! I started watching this movie once but couldn't get through it.

Trevor said...

Welcome back Octo! Great review - hilarious. I was going to make some jokes about this title being soft core porn, until you revealed that it really was soft-core porn. Oh well - that shut me up.

DKC said...

"Even his brain in a jar is crappy at being that..."

Laughing all through this one, Octo! So happy to see you here!