Monday, October 20, 2008


HYSTERICAL is a 1983 AIRPLANE-style comedy showcasing the Hudson Brothers, a '70s-era comedy troupe now relegated to obscurity (and if this movie's any indication, obscurity couldn't have come quick enough). Astonishingly low on laughs, it's notable only for the respectable character actors roped into it (including Murray Hamilton, Bud Cort, and Julie Newmar).

Bill Hudson stars as a Harold Robbins-esque bestselling author who takes a soul-searching vacation to a coastal Oregon town. His relaxation is cut short by the appearance of a vengeful spirit who appears in the lighthouse home he's renting 100 years after her suicide; as part of her plan, she raises the corpse of her long-dead lover Captain Howdy (Richard Kiel, cast only to justify a vague JAWS reference), who turns the townsfolk into zombies so . . . actually, I have no idea why.

Even if the plot didn't jump around like a caffeine-addled child, or had made a lick of sense, HYSTERICAL still would appeal strictly to undiscriminating ten-year-olds, thanks to its abysmal joke-to-laugh ratio. I would say most of the gags are tremendously dated, since it mines early-eighties pop culture for much of its comedy, but it sticks to high-profile mainstream material--RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, THE EXORCIST, THE SHINING, etc.--so what little jokes there are somewhat hold up. (And should give you an idea of what EPIC MOVIE will look like in twenty years.) Only a brief bit involving John Larroquette as a pot-smoking boat-tour guide--Bob's Big Buoy, ho-ho)--got any real laughs out of me.

With production values giving it the look of a '70s TV movie, HYSTERICAL is little more than a curio. The Hudson Brothers, along with co-writer and director Chris Bearde, made a movie that might've been funny at a Catskills comedy club circa 1952, but remains relatively worthless in the harsh reality of the new millennium.

It's still better than MEET THE SPARTANS, though.

(Special thanks--I think--to Michael Anthony for providing a copy of this film.)

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