Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Bad/awesome flixxx review: The Amazing Spider-Man (1977)
Found a copy of this on VHS for a dollar in KCMO last weekend. I was a huge fan of this series when it ran in reruns when I was super young. I had done a little research on the show years ago, even captured some of the episodes when they ran on TNT or SCI FI or something like that back in high school over Thanksgiving when they used to show a lot of marathons. The thing was, this show didn't even have bad ratings. It only got cancelled because some dipshit at CBS didn't wanna be known as the super hero network. So they canned this and Wonder Woman, and kept The Incredible Hulk for a few more seasons. Bummer, there were only 14 episodes I believe counting this pilot/ feature length movie. Starring Nicholas Hammond (one of the kids in THE SOUND OF MUSIC) as Peter Parker, and the nosy neighbor from BEWITCHED as J. Jonah Jameson, AND Thayer David, the dude who was the Albino in THE EIGER SANCTION and the promoter in ROCKY as the bad guy, I present to you THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN!!!
We all know the story of Spider-Man by now. Even dudes and dudettes who have never even opened a comic book know the story. What's the special significance here? Why and what made this so good? Well for starters, its got a super funky 70s soundtrack that is hypnotic if not repetitive. A lot of people put this down as camp, but the 1966 BATMAN was camp, this was a full on action series. Sure its super funny in retrospect, but nothing was really being done like this at the time, and the stunts were incredible and difficult. It was definitely aimed at the same demographic as DUKES OF HAZZARD or the like, and suffered only because they either didn't get the rights to the villains or decided not to use them in favor of real life criminals a la the 50s SUPERMAN show.
This version of the story has Peter Parker as a lab assistant at college while trying to freelance as a photographer at the ol Daily Bugle. When Parker gets bitten, he automatically gets his powers super fast. The story here when it begins is that for some reason a lawyer and a doctor for no apparent reason leave work and rob a bank, then crash their car and some crooks run off with the dough. When Parker is trying to get a gig at the paper, the news comes on and says that some dude claims responsibility for the crimes by mind control, and if the mayor doesnt pay him half a mil by midweek, 10 prominent citizens will take their own lives. Up to you.
So when Peter is walking out of his lab after being bit, the 2nd robbery guy who is hypnotized almost runs him over, and he jumps like 15 feet in the air and climbs the building. When the cops come he kind of freaks and acts suspiciously. He goes home, passes out, climbs out onto his roof and climbs around the walls in the funniest way because the format that they achieved the effect with is so out of date. Peter then foils a purse snatcher and is spotted by citizens. JJJ chews him out for not getting pics of the "spiderman" and Peter, feeling confident brags that he did. So then he has to set up the whole deal and get pics for the paper. He busts out a costume like that night, no thought, no struggle to find the right design, bang he just has it. They are psyched, but as always, JJJ is skeptical and jerkish. So, Spidey foils the 3rd guys death, and then saves him from jumping out of a window. The daughter of that guy ( who I assume is supposed to be like Mary Jane Watson) wants to go to see some guru. This turns out to be the bad guy who is putting a button on everyone's jacket and brainwashing them.
So everyone knows about Spidey now and the cops and the bad guy and the paper all want to catch him. The bad guy tells them to place the money in a seaplane in the middle of New York harbor. And he stands somewhere and watches the plane with binocs. HA! Like they were ever gonna let him slide on this shit. Peter finds out that its microwaves that is mind controlling everyone but its too little too late, because he was brainwashed too when he went to confront the bad dude. Luckily for him right before he almost jumps off the Empire State Building the little hook grabs his button and he isn't under the influence anymore. Then he beats up 3 samurai dudes, blows up all the equipment and fries the brain of the bad guy who he tells to turn himself in. BANG. The day is saved thanks to everyone's favorite wall crawler. I love this old shit, and wish like hell the whole series would drop on DVD. See it if you can.