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Now in our third calendar year
PCR #101 (Vol. 3, No. 9) This edition is for the week of February 25--March 3, 2002.

La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
Locally-Produced Movies

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In previous issues of NCPCR I have given a brief history of some of the locally-produced fanzines of the Tampa Bay area. Those fanzines, primarily published in the 1970's and early 1980's, were products of teenaged-to-early-middle-aged crazed fan boys and fan girls with big aspirations to be a part of the comic, pulp, literary, or science-fiction movie or TV world that they loved so much. Some persisted at their talents and love for their craft and moved on to become professionals. Such would include Denis Lebrun (Artist for "Blondie" who appeared in the fanzines 'period' by science fiction and horror writer Alan Rodgers, Vincent Blesi's "Advent", and my own "Zeta 1 Reticuli"), Alan Rodgers (Noted author who was editor of 1980's publications "Night Cry" and "Rod Serling's Twilight Zone" magazine), and Corey Castellano (make up artist for several movies and television series). In a similar vein are locally-produced movies. Most are rooted in the science-fiction and horror genre, as were the older fanzines before them. And in a similar fashion there are actors who are regionally or nationally recognized in some of these efforts. These movies are not Grade A productions, to call the majority of them Grade B would be to dress them up in a tuxedo, but the overriding love that I have for movies of this type is that most of the producers, directors, and actors have their heart in the right place and do it for the love or fun of it. I am going to review three such movies, or compilations, two from Tampa, and one from Miami. I know there are many more out there, the but I have not had the opportunity or availability to acquire these for viewing and reviewing. Hopefully, through publications such as this, such movies might become available in the near future.

Joel and Gus
Joel Wynkoop (left) and Gustavo Perez on Tampa's Public Access TV
Tampa actor Gustavo Perez has a collection of outtakes from various commercials, television appearances, and movies in this recently released videotape. The outtakes feature a younger Gus Perez in his rock band days performing the Who's "The Kids Are All Right". Next we are treated to an en Espanol cut from a Disney World advertisement, used on Spanish speaking networks such as Univision and Telemundo. In the ad, a somewhat older Gus is featured as a family man with a wife and several kids enjoying the noted attraction.

Fall of an Actor
Close-up of Gus from "Fall of an Actor"
Gus's TV series cameos are featured as we see him playing the role of a soldier in the "Hollywood" Hogan series of the early 1990's, "Thunder in Paradise" (featured in last week's "La Floridiana"). From a locally-produced public access show, we see Gus accepting a lifetime Public Access award. We also get to see several film clips of his locally-produced movie acting roles on fellow actor Joel Wynkoop's public access series. The most interesting film clip comes from the movie "The Raging Bells". The scene where Perez (presumably playing a dapper detective, one of his most typical local movie roles) pulls into a beer can laden trailer off of some desolate Hillsborough County road to discuss some bizarre local goings on is quite well done and memorable. It is both chilling and humorous. This is a movie I would truly like to see.

The character of Detective Gus Perez (also featured in "Jen-Gal 2-The Beast Returns") is also featured in "Brain Robbers from Outer Space" which also stars the late 1950's science-fiction movie actor Joseph Miller. Detective Perez recounts his working the "Jen-Gal" case in this movie, and describes lots of local color, such as his work in strange strongholds such as "Gibtown." There are also clips from the movie "Fall of an Actor" and some more cameo shots from the ABC series "Second Noah".

This is the second and final chapter of actor Conrad Brooks's series on Jen-Gal, the caveman beast that haunted the woods of West Virginia and allegedly fell to his death from a mountainside in "Jen-Gal".

Conrad Brooks
Conrad Brooks from "Jen-Gal 2"
Brooks, known for his cameos in the Edward D. Wood's productions of the 1950's low-budget movies "Plan Nine from Outer Space", and "Glen or Glenda" also appeared in the more recent 1994 Tim Burton tribute to the man from Plan Nine, "Ed Wood". Brooks has also appeared in lesser known locally produced videos such as "Conrad Brooks Meets the Werewolf", produced by David "the Rock" Nelson, "Grand Parents from Outer Space", the surf music inspired "Saturn Avenger", "The Ironbound Vampire", and of course "Jen-Gal".

We fast-forward two years from "Jen-Gal" to "Jen-Gal 2: The Beast Returns". This 2001 production was written, produced, and directed by Conrad Brooks. It features Brooks in his recurring role as a West Virginia detective in search of the cave beast "Jen-Gal". Brooks was put on six months probation by his commanding officer because no body of the "Jen-Gal" could be produced. Turns out that the reason why is that the beast is alive and well and working on his tan in none other than Tam-pah, Florida! It also turns out that "Jen-Gal" is being used as a look out for a local gypsy "Mitzi" (played by Mitzi Reid) and her two sons to rob banks and video stores in the Tampa area.

Garland Hewlett
"Chief" Garland Hewlett
Enter Detective Conrad Brooks, in his signature black hat and outfit, who pays a visit to "Chief Garland", (played by Garland Hewlett) of the Tampa P.D. to discuss the possibility that the thefts plaguing Tampa are in part due to the "Jen-Gal". After the meeting Brooks is urged by Garland to watch Channel 58 news anchor "Chad Dunham" (played by same) break a story about the latest "Jen-Gal" sighting and heist. "Jen-Gal" is shot in the robbery and taken to the lab of a deranged former mob plastic surgeon "Doctor Rockula", played by the late 1950's veteran science-fiction actor Joseph Miller. Rockula, a first class weirdo, practices his evil medical malpractice with his assistant (Al) "Gore" (played by Grady Stiles III,) from what appears to be a TARDIS-like Wally Watt shed located somewhere near Myrtle Hill Cemetery. Rockula is seen sweet talking to and kissing a glass case containing a throbbing brain---whew! Baker Act this Bubba!

Conrad and Gus
Conrad Brooks and Gus Perez in "Jen-Gal 2"
Meanwhile back at Detective Brooks's room at the St. Francis Hotel, Tampa P.D. "Detective Gus Perez" (played by same) pays a visit to his West Virginia counterpart in order to meet with Rockula's Parole Officer "Joel Wynkoop" (also played by same). I give Wynkoop best actor award in his brief, but believably bureaucratic cameo. After Brooks and Perez (who also investigated "the Moth Man", "the Boggy Creek Monster", "the Gator Man" , and now this "out of state monster") speak with Rockula in his Wally Watt mansion, Brooks decides to go it alone. Walking the boardwalks of either Eureka Springs (next my T.R.E.E. Inc. nursery) or Lettuce Lake Parks, Brooks utters "This is the Everglades here in Tampa. Who knows I'm looking for my beast "Jen-Gal". He couldn't exist in a city like Tampa." Uh, sorry Conrad, but the 'Glades are about 300 miles south of here--you'll be about 6' away from the 'Glades in the next movie I'll be reviewing, Jose Prendes's "The Monster Man".

Well, once "Jen-Gal" survives the operation and bad dialogue, he goes on a killing spree, whacking "Rockula" and (Al) "Gore". He then escapes, head-bandaged, into an Ohio-filmed version of the Everglades where he meets his end under the wheels of the "432". One of Brooks's other great lines in this flick is the closing "The primitive must die to make way for the future". Filmed primarily in Tampa, Florida, it was also filmed in Warren, Ohio, and Hagerstown, Maryland.

This "Creature Feature Productions" movie by Miami filmmaker Jose "Super Genius" Prendes, and co-produced by Javier Castineira is truly enjoyable. The cast of characters is as follows:

Jake "the Snake"..Jose "What Was I Thinking" Prendes (a.k.a. "Super Genius", "Half Assed", "411", "You Guessed It "
Katherine "the Great"....Denise "not Dennis" Duff (a.k.a. "Homer Loves")
Lord Gideon "Bible"...Conrad "Playin the Ponies" Brooks (a.k.a. "Plan Nine From Outer Space")
Special Guest Appearances By:
Uncle Joe...Tom "Tiny Genie" Savini (a.k.a. "Sex Machine")
Aunt Ruth....Linnea "B Movie Queen" Quigley (a.k.a. "I Was in Return of the Living Dead")
Dad...Carmela "Director's Dad" Perez
Mom..Lourdes "Director's Mom" Perez
Lt. Paps (oh sorry, it's Pat)...Rachel "Jackie Chan" Chin (a.k.a. "Steak 'N Cheese")
Commander Max..John "the Italian Stallion" Bellomo (a.k.a. "Just Sucked On a Lemon")
Costume Design:
Lourdes Perez
Music By:
Eddie "Not Tony Hawk" Castineira
Creature Effects, Production, Screenplay, and Directed by:
Yes--Jose Prendes!

Jose Prendes
Jose Prendes as "Jake" from "Monster Man"
Our story begins with "Jake" (played by Jose "Chief Cook and Bottle Washer" Prendes) sitting by a Miami-Dade County lake when he suddenly attacked by Ninja-dressed mutants who make a bird-like sound before lunging toward our hero. Strangely, a quite alive human cleans off "Jake's" blood stained sword in the opening shot-clearly, Prendes is a humorous dude who likes to play with your head as I'll point out later. Most notable are the aerial shots of Miami in the opening credits and in another mid scene of the movie described later.

"Jake", who kills several of the attackers, claims to be the "last man left on the earth" after a virus kills, presumably, everyone but him, leaving only an invading army of black, purple, and white alien ninja mutants. Heavily armed with pistols, shot guns, machine guns, knives, and a not so bad ability to kick box, "Jake" resides in his dead parent's house waiting for the next mutant attacks. But "Jake" finds out he his not the only human left. For on a shopping trip he happens upon the mutants attacking a very pretty young woman known as a "Katherine".

Denise Duff
Denise Duff is "Katherine"
"Katherine" is played by Denise Duff who gets my vote for the best actor in this movie-she seems the most genuine and at ease with her lines and pretty much, along with Prendes, makes the film move along well. Anyway, "Jake" saves "Katherine's" life and takes her into his house and into his world. In true Prendes form, Duff's script says, "You can call my "Kathy". When "Jake" does, she weeps and says "My parents called me that-call me "Katherine". Poor guy. Also, "Jake" changes hats twice, and puts on reading glasses to look scholarly when explaining the different alien ninjas to "Kathy"-oops--- "Katherine" all in about a minute!

But unknown to our two heroes, evil is brewing, for "Lord Gideon" played by Conrad Brooks, is intent on finding and killing our two heroes. "Gideon", who operates off of a park bench about 6' from the Everglades, dresses like a deranged nun who has a Sprite and Twinkies jones. He has his henchmen kidnap "Katherine", and in order to free her, "Jake" must battle two of "Gideon's" most formidable henchmen,

Conrad as Gideon
Conrad as "Gideon"
"Goremon" and "Valiant'. "Jake" whups hiney on both, but "Gideon" has other plans. He decides to torture our heroine, and in the most memorable line of the movie says " I can smell the fear in your eyes and see the fear in your skin! Ha! Ha! Ha! (Ad nauseum)". The second aerial shot of Miami has lettered across it "Gideon's Headquarters-(Location Unknown)-Phone 305-555-SEXY Fax 305-BIG-SEXY".

Deranged Nun?
"..dresses like a deranged nun."
The final fight scene between "Jake" and "Gideon" is a hoot. "Gideon's" black hood keeps falling over his eyes, giving "Jake" an opportunity to slay him. "Gideon" mumbles or should mumble something to the effect of "I'm melting" as you see his robed garb steaming and falling to the ground.

In addition to Prendes' great tongue-in-cheek humor, the fight scenes are fast-paced, and his attention for detail is extraordinary, such as the alien ninjas practicing in the background at "Gideon's" lair, and his efforts to try to not film while cars are moving by. Prendes attempts to film a non-human world only fails a few times when you can see cars in the far distance moving, and again when a commercial jet can be heard roaring overhead. His shots of the South Florida Pine Rocklands are really well done, as are the shots of clouds and summer thunderstorms which are a trademark of that region.

All in all, a great effort.

"La Floridiana" is ©2002 by William Moriaty. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova