Saturday, 26 April 2014

April Fools: Trail Of The Screaming Forehead (2007)

Apparently, writer-director Larry Blamire has been churning out a number of enjoyable comedies lovingly spoofing b-movies from the '50s and '60s for a few years now. On the recommendation of a friend, Trail Of The Screaming Forehead was the first one that I finally decided to check out. I'm glad I did. While it's not a great film, because a number of the jokes are overused and many moments are just a bit TOO ridiculous, it is an amusing one, and it manages to skirt close enough to the feel and style of the movies that it's paying tribute to.

Here's the basic, silly, premise. A small, American town is invaded by alien foreheads. Yes, crawling foreheads that plant themselves over human foreheads and end up controlling their human hosts. This happens, coincidentally, at the same time as Dr. Sheila Bexter (Fay Masterson) is conducting her ground-breaking research on foreheads, in an attempt to show that it's the forehead, and not the brain, that houses our intelligence.

Ridiculous? Oh, indeed. But also very funny, if watched in the right frame of mind. The movie revels in a mix of lame gags, all-too-familiar moments that seemed to be present in every film of this type, and daffy special effects created on a low budget.

Blamire may not get everything perfect, but he does a great job of ticking plenty of boxes. Theme song using the title of the movie? Check. Newcomers in town stumbling on to the bad situation? Check. Scientists taking their work too far? Check. Dick Miller? Check. Disbelieving local police? Check. A potential solution to the problem that seems very silly, but also seems to make sense? You may have guessed by now, but . . . . . . check.

The cast are all being deliberately awkward and (slightly) wooden, but they all do a great job with the material. Hmmm, I MEAN that as a compliment, honestly, even if it doesn't seem like it. Daniel Roebuck may be the most familiar to viewers (not counting Dick Miller, James Karen and a fine actor who makes a cameo appearance at the very end of the film), but Brian Howe, Dan Conroy and Alison Martin are the main trio trying to keep the foreheads at bay. Masterson is great as the scientist, Andrew Parks raises numerous laughs as the fellow scientist who agrees to be her guinea pig, H. M. Wynant is great in every scene he gets, and Jennifer Blaire is suitably hard-nosed with a touch of sexy in the role of Droxy Chappelle.

If the title is enough to put you off then don't watch it, it's as simple as that. Give it a chance, however, and you may find that there are a lot of plus points throughout the never-ending silliness.


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