Please note that I'm not trying to punish you, loyal readers, by subjecting you to this. Forgotten films are often forgotten for good reason, and this week I offer a case in point--the disastrous bomb Slapstick of Another Kind.
The movie, a very loose adaptation of the Kurt Vonnegut novel Slapstick, stars Jerry Lewis and Madeline Kahn (both in dual roles) and Marty Feldman (his last film). As for the plot, I'm going to paste the description directly from Wikipedia so you can get exactly what goes on in this film. You will rub your eyes and take another look after reading through it the first time.
"The People's Republic of China is severing relations with all other nations. They have mastered the art of miniaturization, and have shrunk all their people to the height of 2 inches. The ambassador of China, Ah Fong (Pat Morita), announces during a press conference that the key to all knowledge can be found from twins.
Caleb Swain (Jerry Lewis) and his wife Letitia (Madeline Kahn) are called "the most beautiful of all the beautiful people" by the press. However, when Letitia gives birth to twins who are called "monsters", the family doctor, Dr. Frankenstein (John Abbott) informs the parents that the twins won't live more than a few months. The Swains decide to allow the twins to live their short life in a mansion staffed with servants, including Sylvester (Marty Feldman).
Fifteen years later the twins (also played by Lewis and Kahn) are still alive. They have large heads and appear to be mentally retarded. Their parents, who have not seen them in all those years, receive a visit from the former Chinese ambassador who informs them that their children are geniuses who can solve the world's problems.
The parents, along with the US president (Jim Backus), pay the children a visit. They reveal themselves to be well-behaved and intelligent, explaining that they acted "stupid" around the servants because they were simply emulating them. A series of tests reveal that there is a telepathic connection between the twins, and their intelligence is only functional when they are together. Furthermore, when their heads are touching they reach a level of intelligence that has never been surpassed.
Their parents, fearful that incest may be prevalent, separate the two. They become despondent without each other, and the Chinese ambassador appears again to tell them to seek each other out. Once united, a spaceship appears and reveals that they are really aliens who were sent to Earth to solve all of the planet's problems. However, their alien father (voice of Orson Welles) reveals that Earth cannot handle their intelligence and returns them to their home planet."
What does this insane plot look like? Take a look at the trailers below.
The film was originally slated for release in 1982, but stayed on the shelf until 1984, released to horrible reviews and box office. Go figure.
The great thing about this feature is that you can not only applaud a film that was underappreciated and unfairly ignored, you can take the opportunity to discuss a film that makes you scratch your head and wonder, "What were they thinking?"
So, I ask you readers--what were they thinking?
Who was their intended audience? Were they trying to be satirical, or just wacky, or what? Was this a project filmmakers were excited about, or did they know what they had on their hands during filming? These are questions I ask myself when I come across something this weird. I'd love to hear your responses. Thanks!
For more (and better) forgotten films, check out Todd Mason's Sweet Freedom!