Directed by: George Pal
Starring: Tony Randall, Barbara Eden, Arthur O’Connell
Part of me had wanted to see this movie for a long time, but I didn’t know what the name of it was. It’s because I’m a huge nerd and in the last Joel episode of MST3K, he leaves behind a plaque with the final quote from this film. Turns out I actually liked the movie pretty well, though, so I guess it all worked out!
A businessman is trying to buy up all the land in a small old west town because the railroad is about to come through and he’ll make a ton of money. What he doesn’t expect is a magical Chinaman named Dr. Lao to come through town with his bizarre circus full of crazy exhibits and mythological creatures. Lao befriends a kid, gets two characters to finally hook up, and even gets the town to overthrow the rich evil guy. Oh, and there’s a giant monster at the end which runs off the other evil henchmen.
The effects in this movie are great. They’re mostly claymation, which I am of course a huge fan of, and they’re just such weird things that it doesn’t seem out of place in the otherwise standard 19th century surroundings. That’s the big thing I get out of this movie: It’s fuckin’ weird, but I like weird. On top of the really generic old west story, you’ve just got this layer of fantastic insanity which never seems weird just for the sake of it. Somehow. That’s usually the issue with movies with a lot of weird shit not directly associated with the plot, but Dr. Lao pulls it off. He really is magical…