Saturday 17 May 2008

Fairy Tales (1979)

I've spent many years getting as many people as I can to see Peter Jackson's debut film, Bad Taste. It's my favourite film of all time, the only seen I've seen over fifty times and probably the only film I've seen over ten. It's not a great movie, though it's astounding in many ways, but favourite movies are not always great movies and they don't have to be. A good case in point is Cinderella, which is to my wife's ex husband what Bad Taste is to me. We discovered Fairy Tales via Cinderella, as it's another soft porn comedy musical that shares the same subject matter and quite a few of the same cast and crew.

This time out the prince has turned 21 and three kooky doctors serenade him with a ballad designed to instigate him into providing an heir. He'll inherit the kingdom if only he can produce one by Thursday. The only catch is that he doesn't get turned on by beautiful naked women willing to do anything he wants, even when they're Little Bo Peep wearing nothing but her cute little bonnet. So off he goes on a quest to find the princess of his dreams who was lost years ago, because he's the only one who he'll be able to get it up for.

Because this film is called Fairy Tales instead of just Cinderella, it would hardly be surprising to find that he gets to meet a lot more famous fairytale characters thn just one. The old woman who lives in a shoe does live in a shoe but it's a brothel, featuring such clients as Snow White and her seven dwarfs and Scheherezade. Jill wants to do Jack but Jack's gay. Old King Cole is a lecherous old soul who employs Tommy Tucker, who's an old time gangland enforcer. And the ones we don't meet become subjects for jokes, and the most surprising thing is that some of the jokes are surprising.

Sy Richardson is back, with a better costume this time, as Sirus. He's the pimp for Gussie Gander, who is the old woman who lives in a shoe. He's great fun, as are some of the others. Martha Reeves of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas is one of the few women in the film who don't get naked, and it's hardly surprising that her song as voodoo queen Aunt La Voh is the best actual song in the film. However it's not the most fun: that honour has to go to 'Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar' performed as an Andrews Sisters spoof in an S&M chamber by some masked naked women including Pat Morita's future wife, Evelyn Guerrero.

There are other notable people here too. Sleeping Beauty is Linnea Quigley, shortly before becoming one of the most memorable 80s scream queens. Robert Staats has a double role and provides most of the laughs. There's also 2' 11' Angelo Rossitto, who amazingly doesn't play one of Snow White's seven dwarfs, though he did in Cinderella 2000 (not the same Cinderella that preceded this film). He was one of the founders of the Little People of America, was discovered by John Gilbert and his films ranged from the silent era up to the late 80s. The earliest I've seen him was 1927 in Old San Francisco and the latest was in 1985's Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. In between he appeared in everything on the quality scale from Freaks to Mesa of Lost Women. This is far from the worst film on his filmography.

The songs aren't as memorable as they were in Cinderella but the jokes are funnier, more frequent and more consistent. Even the plot is based on a joke, that we only see as the tagline of the movie: 'Some day your prince will come'. The story is more consistent too and it just feels more natural and seems to have a better heart to it. Ultimately it may or may not be as good as its predecessor but it's a worthy other half if you're in the right sort of mood for a soft porn comedy musical double feature.

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