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  Thundercrack! And All Because The Gorilla Loves...Buy this film here.
Year: 1975
Director: Curt McDowell
Stars: Marion Eaton, Melinda McDowell, George Kuchar, Mookie Blodgett, Ken Scudder, Bernie Boyle, Mark Ellinger, Laurie Hendricks, Moira Benson, Virginia Giritlian, Michelle Gross, Rick Johnson, Margo O'Connor, Billy Paradise, Pamela Primate, Maggie Pyle
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Sex, Trash, Weirdo
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: It was a dark and stormy night, stormier than usual and in her isolated country house the lady of the manor, Gert (Marion Eaton), was sitting alone lamenting her lost husband and son, and drowning her sorrows in drink in the process. However, she was not going to spend the evening alone, as she was about to find out, as there were a few vehicles passing by on the highway outside, braving the weather, and a hitchhiker (Ken Scudder), glad to be picked up by widower Chandler (Mookie Blodgett). But after they both notice an explosion across the way, they have to investigate...

If the phrase "peeled cucumber" means anything to you in relation to cult movies, then you've probably seen Thundercrack! and will possibly shudder at the thought that image brings to mind. This was the epic, well over two hours long in some versions, underground classic, or at least it was a classic according to some, as everyone else found it an endurance test of gargantuan proportions even in its abbreviated two hour variation. It was a collaboration between two giants of the scene, if that was not a contradiction in terms for works so obscure: George Kuchar and Curt McDowell, the latter handling the direction.

George, not a man aversed to outright camp, also appeared onscreen in what could be described as a typical role if such a term were applicable, for he played Bing, the man from the circus who happens to be transporting Medusa the gorilla through the storm. Perhaps this role is the most surprising, but after his big revelation arrives some time after the halfway mark, and if you've lasted that long, it's likely that nothing will truly surprise you about this movie. It did some business as a midnight movie from the seventies onwards, as let's face it, where else would it be shown? That was due to its mix of spoofy old time melodrama and outright hardcore sex scenes, both straight and gay.

That combination was not going to appeal to everybody, indeed there were very few of the filmgoing public who would be interested, but this was patently a case of McDowell and Kuchar joining forces to make the work they wanted to, and if anyone else liked it that was a bonus. To make it an even less attractive proposition it was shot in 16mm black and white, and its very cheapness was apparent in every frame, not the most obvious choice for sending the audience into an erotic state of mind even if they did find something to float their sexual boat in this. Add to that the lack of anything except the most impoverished of locations - essentially a few cramped rooms - and a cast not picked for the thespian talents and you had a very particular movie proud of its strange virtues.

The cast assemble in Gert's house, represented from the outside by a drawing (that's right, they couldn't even afford outdoor locations), and a curious melange of soap opera, horror movie and porno flick results, with even Gert getting into the act as she spies on the others as they pair off, sometimes with themselves, if you see what I mean. She was evidently expecting company because one of those rooms she peeps at is furnished with various sexual toys and paraphernalia, which get the party off to a swinging start. Yet our auteurs were just as interested in the tribute to old dark house movies so there were long passages of overripe dialogue for our cast to chew on, and by the point where the gorilla makes her entrance in flashback you will either have been worn down by the weird grottiness of it all or, less probable, will be thoroughly enjoying the audacity. For specialised tastes, one thing's for sure, they don't make them like this anymore, if they ever really did, Thundercrack! being the exception. Near constant piano tinkling by Mark Ellinger.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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