Bill's Bizarre Bijou -- Scorpion Thunderbolt!
William D. Carl
This week’s feature presentation:
SCORPIAN THUNDERBOLT (1988)
Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made. If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it. Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open. Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.
Godfrey Ho’s name rings out on the landscape of bad cinema like Gabby Hayes’ triangular dinner bell in one of John Ford’s Westerns – loud, annoying, and, when you get closer, stinking to high heaven. He is a ‘master’ of cinematic mash-ups, where several partially shot movies are combined with newly shot footage, then unleashed on an unsuspecting public. Al Adamson was the original director who favored this method, giving viewers such gems as HORROR OF THE BLOOD MONSTERS (1970), DOCTOR DRACULA (1978), and BLOOD OF GHASTLY HORROR (1972). In this new era of literary mash-ups, we’ve been offered classics by Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte with new writing featuring SENSE AND SENSIBILITY AND SEA MONSTERS, LITTLE WOMEN WITH WEREWOLVES, and my new favorite, Ayn Rand’s ATLAS SHRUGGED with Democrats. (Please don’t ask your local bookseller for this made-up title; they will punch you in the neck). Godfrey Ho made his living off movie mash-ups. In fact, the writer credited on most of his movies is AAV Creative unit, a conglomeration of Ho and his pals. I think they had fifty words or so, and they combined them in different ways to get titles. How else do you explain COBRA VS NINJA (1987), HITMAN THE COBRA (1987), INFERNO THUNDERBOLT (1986), and today’s messed-up, mashed-together SCORPIAN THUNDERBOLT (1988), which features neither a scorpion nor any kind of thunderbolt. It does, however have witches, snake men, boobies galore, Richard Harrison as himself, hitch-hiking assassins, and more nonsense than you can shake a MAJESTIC THUNDERBOLT (1985) at.
Our story (excuse me while I have a laughing fit) begins in an unknown Asian city where a blind man plays his flute in a creepy way, and a witch with some seriously long fingernails works some sort of spell, and a young woman works in an office. The young woman is drawn by either the flute player or the witch who is spanking several slices of bread on a table as voodoo drums, and she goes outside, where she is promptly assaulted by a man wearing make-up and flowers in his hair. Then, some kind of snake thing attacks her, and, I guess, kills her as the police suddenly appear to investigate her gory murder. A young female reporter/photographer Helen Hughes pushes her way into the crime scene and takes pictures of the woman’s wounds while the blind flute player lurks in the shadows.
The police have a meeting about the fourteen women who have been murdered, and one group decides to show a monster mask they figure will match the teeth marks on the body – a big snake man/sperm cell creature.
The reporter, Helen Hughes, gets a phone call while she’s jazzercising that says they have caught the murderer. Cut to a crowd attacking a crazy man who acts like Jerry Lewis. He climbs a tree and throws nuts at the doctors trying to get him to an asylum. Helen offers him a kitty to eat, and he falls for it. The docs throw a big net on him and they take him away. Suddenly, a witch with long silvery fingernails is playing with snakes and eels while weird Theremin music plays (Jean Michel Jarre’s Oxygene!). She orders her minions to find Richard Harrison and bring her his ring.
A hatchet-faced hitch-hiking woman flashes Richard on the freeway, and he picks her up. She says she’s an actress, and he wants to see her newest movie. Luckily, the studio is open, and she gets him into a viewing booth where they see her newest opus, which mostly entails her being tied up and body-painted by a tiny Asian man. “I’ve got to admit,” Richard Harrison says. “You’ve got f****ing talent!” Oh, Richard…how you have fallen! This is even worse than EVIL SPAWN (1987). Then again, Harrison made more than ten of these Gordon Ho movies, so he had to know what he was getting into. Suddenly, the hitcher is stripped naked, and they have sex in front of the movie, which is still playing the same scene, until she vomits orange and dies on top of him. He screams, “Who sent you?” She does not answer. She is dead, Richard.
A young couple, Inspector Lee and his police-woman girlfriend (where did they come from?), are victims of a home invasion of a man Lee put away years ago. Now, he’s out of jail and tying up the girlfriend and cutting off her clothes while laughing like Dwight Frye. He injects her with something and the doorbell rings. Inspector Lee breaks loose and a karate fight ensues while the woman hangs bleeding and naked and tripping like crazy, man. Helen is at the door (how does she even know these cops?), and she cuts the policewoman down while the blind flute player plays his music outside. And there goes the witch with her Theremin music again as the karate battle moves outside.
Three girls in an apartment are watching it through their window. When the fighters move away, the girls dance wildly to disco music (which sounds suspiciously like Midnight Starr!) while disco lights throb. Then, a rubber-suited snake man appears and kills them all. I think we just moved into a different movie. One with a particularly awful man in a suit monster, so bad that they had to Vaseline the lens up before showing the creature.
Then, we’re at a totally different place with Helen who has cats thrown at her by production assistants. She has a weird friend who has invaded her house. She throws a birthday cake in his face, and he tries to rape her. Flashback to the happy(?) couple frolicking on beaches to bad electronic music. Wait, that friend is Inspector Lee. How long have they known each other? What the . . . oh never mind.
And there’s that damn flute player again, playing in a street full of prostitutes. In a nearby building, more girls are discovered killed by the monster. When the cops arrive, the hookers scatter like roaches when the light is turned on. It’s Inspector Lee (I hope his girlfriend’s all right…nobody said anything). It seems a woman has been tied up spread-eagled on the floor while a drunken ex-boyfriend shoots pool balls into her vajayjay. Who are these people? No idea. But there’s Helen, untying the poor pool table chick.
And now, we’re in a real disco where lots of people dance, the witch works her spells in her place, and Richard Harrison is attacked by his plumber while he’s doing shirtless push-ups! Even sweaty, he can karate chop this guy into oblivion. “Who sent you? Tell me!” The guy dies, I guess.
Next, inspector Lee takes Helen out to the woods shooting small adorable animals like bunnies! They play cute for a while, falling in love in a bad montage of hunting and fishing. Yep, that’s romance in a Gordon Ho flick, people. They are attacked by a ninja (probably from some other movie), but it’s really their criminal who got away going after Lee again. How did he find them all the way out in the woods?
On their way back to the city, their car fills up with snakes. They don’t notice at all, even when the little creatures are crawling all over them. Lee reacts by admitting the snakes killed the car’s brakes and they crash into a culvert. Luckily, snakes hate upside down cars, and Helen and Lee escape.
The blind flute player is interviewed on TV, and it turns out he is a night watchman (wait a minute! How good can he be when he can’t even watch at all?) Lee and Helen go to a sleazy hotel, where she freaks out in the hot springs and the snake monster is back in all his rubbery glory, tearing up the wait staff and other hot springs victims. Obviously, the witch is controlling the eight foot tall snake man. And now, Helen has disappeared! Oh no, there she is on the bed, but she looks totally psychotic.
More assassins attack Richard Harrison for his ring. He never seems to be wearing a shirt, and he seems to be just extraneous footage, nothing to do with the other plotlines . . . like the snake man and Helen and Lee and the escaped convict or the witch. How many movies did Ho use in this one?
And we’ve only hit the halfway point, folks! Before the movie’s over, we’ll get Richard Harrison consulting his kung-fu master, a vampire witch in a red castle who is “thoroughly evil”, a golden sword and a mystical mirror, a fabulous confession scene, the Prince of Snakes vs. a family of redneck snake killers, some revolting mondo footage, some softcore outdoor sex scenes including snake sex, fingernail stabbings at orgies, a blue-haired ninja, and, yes, a kitchen sink scene! And just what the heck does the blind night watchman have to do with anything and how’d he get up in that tree?
Does any of this make a lick of sense? Nope. Is any of it boring for even one second? Oh, hell no! This is one of the best flicks I have ever seen to show to a group of drinking buddies to prove how fun a lousy movie can be. You ain’t seen nothing till you see a breastfeeding baby turn into a snake creature and chow down on Mommy. Or Richard Harrison snapping thrift store ninja necks to electronic dance music. Or an eight foot rubber snake monster flying through the tree tops attacking the entire police force. And the final music during the end battle is stolen from the last scenes of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)!
It seems Godfrey Ho pasted together pieces of a Taiwanese film, GRUDGE OF THE SLEEPWALKING WOMAN (1983) with another kung-fu flick and new scenes with Richard Harrison. In the process, he created one of the wackiest movies ever to shoot its stain upon a drive-in movie screen. The tone shifts constantly, from high camp humor to gory killings to sexy rom-com to violent kung-fu chaos, all atrociously dubbed. Just after his hitch-hiking trick pukes orange Julius on him, Richard Harrison asks, “What the hell does it mean?” I couldn’t agree more!
Now, I need to watch more Godfrey Ho fiascos. Maybe, ROBO-KICKBOXER (1992) or NINJA DEMON’S MASSACRE (1988) or THUNDER OF GIGANTIC SERPENT (1988) or NINJA THUNDERBOLT (1984).
For normal people, I give SCORPIAN THUNDERBOLT one snake monster out of four.
For sick souls like us, I give it three and a half shirtless Richard Harrisons out of four. Unbelievable!