Movies

Friday A/V Club: Rock 'n' Roll Invasion from the Moon

Two Firesign Theater veterans recut some ancient movie serials into a conspiracy comedy.

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Waiting for the man or someone like him.
International Harmony, Inc.

In 1979, two comics from the Firesign Theater—Philip Proctor and Peter Bergman—took a bunch of sequences from some pulpy old Republic serials, dubbed in new dialogue, added some linking material, and called the result J-Men Forever. The film is often compared to What's Up Tiger Lily? (1966), the movie Woody Allen made by redubbing and rearranging a Japanese spy picture. And there are obvious similarities. But to me J-Men feels more like a precursor to Mystery Science Theater 3000: As Proctor and Bergman add their smartass comments to these scenes, it's sometimes easy to imagine their lines coming from a couple of robot silhouettes.

The story, such as it is, involves a lunar conspiracy to subvert the Earth with rock music and drugs. At its worst, this deteriorates into stale square-baiting and rote stoner humor. But at its best, it takes some old movies that were already pleasantly weird and amplifies their strangeness into something grand.

The person who posted the movie to YouTube divided it into nine chapters. You'll find them after the jump:

Bonus links: See the Firesign Theater's car commercials here. Watch scenes from another Proctor & Bergman picture here. Check out past editions of the Friday A/V Club here.