Saturday, February 7, 2009

Galactic Gigolo (1988)

Directed by Gorman Bechard
Starring Carmine Copabianco, Debi Thibeauld, Ruth Collins
Rated R

“I’ve been chosen to study the sex drive of a vegetable. I’ve been waiting my whole life for this.”

I was all for Urban Classics, a short-lived, Empire Pictures-backed straight-to-video production/distribution company in the late 80’s that catered to the burgeoning cult-vid/Incredibly Strange Films market. Blockbuster Video, at the time an absolute godsend to b-buffs (and not yet the movie-slashing, pro-censorship, religious nut rat bastards they’d later become), actually assembled (at least in Boston area stores) their first ‘cult’ sections around that time, beefing up the well-worn copies of Eraserhead and Videodrome with new, insta-cult items like Frankenhooker (with talking VHS box!), Dead Alive, Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders, and pretty much the entire seven-film run of Urban Classics. The terrible true tale of what happened to Urban is yet to be told, but the dusty video boxes remain. Two of the titles still make the rounds in the now mainstream ‘cult’ market – 1988’s Assault of the Killer Bimbos, a puffy, girl-powered action-comedy directed by Anita Rosenberg (Modern Girls, 1986) , and the infamous David DeCoteau-directed Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama (also 1988), a horror-com gag-fest starring that holy trinity of 80’s scream queens, Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, and Brinke Stevens. Much less well-known but still deserving of cult-hood are the works of Urban Classics’ in-house auteur, Gorman Bechard.

The oddly named Bechard is now an east coast king of all media. In the ensuing decades since his early b-work he’s written a slew of novels, directed award-winning indie-flicks, and is currently establishing himself as Connecticut’s own Richard Kern, a stark-erotica photographer specializing in waif-ish nudes. But back in the day, he was an unabashed garbage-man, churning out low-budget swill like 1987’s unforgettable Psychos in Love. As the title implies, it’s a love story about two grapes-hating serial killers (Carmine Capobianco and Debi Thibeault) who stumble upon each other during an attempted murder-spree and live happily and gorily ever after. 90% absurd and 10% sweet, Psychos in Love did enough brisk rental business to justify a follow-up, and so, Galactic Gigolo. Essentially a Psychos redux with a horny spaceman in place of the serial slayers, Bechard smartly brought back his two appealing leads and returned to the urban sprawl/bleak rural landscape of his beloved Connecticut for another empty-pocketed z-flick romp.

Galactic Gigolo opens on another planet, one populated by wise-cracking vegetables who love game shows. The one we are currently tuned into is hosted by a carrot dressed up like Groucho Marx, who awards a trivia-buff head of broccoli named Oej an all-expenses paid two-week trip to Earth. More specifically, to Prospect, Connecticut, apparently the ‘horniest’ town on the planet. Being a vegetable, he must choose a disguise to blend in with the locals. Luckily for Carmine Capobianco, he chooses the one that looks just like him – the “Lovable Sleazoid”.

Oej crash-lands in the Connecticut woods wearing a silver fat-Elvis jumpsuit, and after shlepping by foot to town, he knocks on the first door he sees. Luckily, two cute girls answer, and after he explains who he is and why he’s there, they proceed to fuck him senseless. And then he takes a sexy hot tub with three giggly bottle-blondes (including long-gone A-cupped b-goddess LeeAnne Baker (Necropolis, Breeders, Mutant Hunt, Bad Girls Dormitory…come back LeeAnne!). So things are going well for Eoj.

Then he holds a press conference wherein he munches on Haagan Daz and transforms into a kitten (wearing a mini-spacesuit, naturally) just to prove he can. Everybody in town is pretty impressed with this interstellar parlor trick, especially a gang of Jewish hillbillies (!) who are afraid he may infiltrate their ranks, and a group of bungling, would-be mobsters led by a goombah named Sonny (Michael Citriniti) who overuses his catch phrase (“Cut the frabba-jabba!”) and thinks he can use Oej’s cosmic shape-shifting powers to commit a slew of crafty crimes.

One uptight reporter (Judy Coppola) is skeptical of our fearless brocoli’s cocksmanship, so he throws some mojo her way. She falls into a trance and strips down to some slinky black heavy metal underwear. Everybody claps.

After the press event, a tomboy-ish reporter named Hildy (Thibeault) proposes a book based on Eoj’s story, and after he calls home to make sure it’s ok (on his planet, everyone communicates via 50’s rock n’ roll nonsense, i.e. “A bop-bam-a-lula to you too, sir!”), they get to work. Work, in Eoj’s case, amounts to banging an endless series of chicks while Johnson and a greasy-haired nerd photographer named Waldo (Frank Stewart, Party Girls) document it.
After the dirty deeds are done, Hildy conducts snotty exit interviews like this:
“So how was it?”
“He fucked my brains out.”
“Well, that’s a task and a half.”

At this point, the curious viewer will be wondering why all these women succumb to this fat jerk. He’s unattractive, slovenly, overweight, bald, and wears a silver spacesuit. He’s also an over-confident jackass. He’s like an outer space Ron Jeremy with leafy green genitalia. So what’s the big deal? To answer our questions, we next tune into a local talk show where a sex therapist named Dr. Pepper (Ruth Collins, Party Girls, Sexpot) explains the sex appeal of broccoli. For some reason, the entire crowd is full of men in elderly women drag. Anyway, it’s some bullshit about hormones. Oej watches the show and decides he has to fuck Dr Pepper, so he gets the gang together and they tromp over to her house.

Meanwhile, dark forces are conspiring against him. There’s the redneck clan (including the gorgeous Angela Nicholas), who are desperate to capture Eoj for god knows what. They give each other code names based on various Kentucky Fried Chicken menu items and skulk around in the woods. You start to get the feeling that Gorman shot all of these sequences in one weekend and never really explained to the actors what they were supposed to be doing. Same vibe with the gangsters, who drive around in a very bouncy little car and trade Vaudevillian gags:
Carmine: “We’re lost, boss.”
Sonny: “How do you know we’re lost?”
Carmine: “Because I don’t know where I am.”

Eoj visits Pepper, who takes an instant shine to him. While enjoying an impromptu striptease from the good doctor, the Jewbillies burst through the door with plans to abduct Eoj. He is, naturally, confused. So am I, to be honest.
“What do they want me for?” He asks Dr. Pepper.
“Frustrated homosexuals, most likely,” she whispers. “Most rednecks are.”

By the way, you’ve got to hear the Casio-country theme that plays whenever the rednecks show up. It’s incredible.

The gangsters snatch Eoj and the women and split. During this whole scene, the camera kept making smash-cuts to Ruth Collins’ tits while an alarm shrieked on the soundtrack.

So anyway, Oej agrees to help the gangsters rob a bank, but before they can pull off the heist, the ‘billies show up and the two groups of idiots have a shoot-out. They run out of bullets before anybody actually gets hit. The girls dress up in leather and join the fray. Oej beats the gangsters with an ironing board and some cheerleaders show up to encourage the spaceman. Then a banana cream pie salesman shows up (how could one not, really? We’ve gone this far, might as well take it completely over the top), as does a reporter who does a Howard Cosell impression, and a bunch of Indians (one with a flaming arrow in his chest). Oh, and there’s a blow up sex doll.

In the end, Oej must make a tough decision. On the one hand, he’s in love with Dr. Pepper. On the other hand, he’s a vegetable from outer space. Should he stay or should he go?

He should probably go. That guy wears out his welcome fairly quickly.

For most of its running time, Galactic Gigolo is gleefully stupid, a sub-moronic goonshow that tosses every sex-com cliché into the mix. Were it not for Capobianco’s performance (he also co-wrote the film), it would probably be unwatchable, but Eoj is such a compelling character – I mean, who does this fat asshole think he is, anyway? – that he keeps the film from completely sinking into the muck. And although it’s hardly wall-to-wall, there’s enough topless girls to keep boner-seekers busy, as well. Some of the ‘comedy’ is pretty dated at this point – I remember howling during the redneck cursing sprees twenty years ago, but this was in an era where people didn’t say “Goddamn motherfucking cocksucking motherfucker!” in movies all the time. Now there’s MF bombs everywhere, including television, so it no longer has the same bite. And, you know, we’ve kind of gotten beyond “Boing!” sound effects in this modern age. But womanizing loudmouths and Elvis jumpsuits are pretty timeless, so it all balances out. Don’t watch this if you’re worried about frying brain cells – you will, surely – but for dumb late night fun, Galactic Gigolo does the trick.

PS: Despite the lush environment - all the dead trees, stagnant ponds, mud, strip malls and dead-eyed locals - Berhard’s noble efforts did not spark a worldwide interest in filming in Connecticut. Hollywood East remains unclaimed.

Availability: Galactic Gigolo is available on DVD.

-Ken McIntyre

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