Jan-Gel: The Beast From the East/Jan-Gel II: The Beast Returns 2004 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
Conrad Brooks is hereby declared the worst actor, director, and producer since his mentor, Ed Wood went to the great cutting room in the sky.
Brooks has been in over 200 films, and this duo (the first of which is dedicated to Wood and Tor Johnson) are two recent entries (from 1999 and 2001). The movies are the twenty-first century touchstone for bad movie aficionados such as myself. Both films are short, incomprehensible, feature non-actors failing to act, no sets, costumes, or production values to speak of, and stars a monster (Dale Clukey) who is a rotund ancient caveman (evidently with Graves’ Opthamolopathy producing extremely protruding eyeballs; exophthalomos) from Iceland wearing a loincloth of pumaskin. In other words, these films are perfect for anyone hungry for cheese.
The first feature, “Jan-Gel The Beast From the East,” starts with Jan-Gel’s ship from Iceland sinking and Jan-Gel somehow alighting in West Virginia. He goes on a rampage through the countryside, although there are no funds for special effects, so all we get to see of the horrifying attacks is Jan-Gel wagging his fingers at his victims in a manner reminiscent of the harem scenes from “Manos, The Hands of Fate,” only much less scary. The plot has many detours along the way, from a disc jockey introducing a song about earwax (really, I absolutely swear), to a sheriff discussing the other creatures they have previously chased but have now eliminated from the case. These creatures include Bigfoot, the chupacabra, the Jersey Devil, and, most entertainingly, a monster ostensibly from Maryland called “Snoutagaster.”
Conrad Brooks plays an agent named Conrad Brooks, and along with the least credible law enforcement presence ever filmed (and I include Paul Marco’s performance from “Plan 9” in my assessment) pursue the creature through the woods after encountering the single worst actress in the history of film, whose daughter has been kidnapped. Please watch for the longest and most ridiculous man versus rubber snake scene in film history (which will definitely make all Wood fans recall Bela Lugosi in the pit with the giant rubber octopus) resulting in a little Stockholm Syndrome induced compassion for Jan-Gel. After Brooks and crew catch Jan-Gel they shoot him. Yes, Jan-Gel is dead…or is he? I won’t spoil the ending but I will say it is perhaps the most singularly abrupt and inconclusive ending in cinema history.
The second film starts extremely strongly when a typo in the credits yields “Jengal The Beast Returns.” Only Brooks could do that (whether intentional or not I don’t know or care, but either way it is the stroke of the true master). This time Jan-Gel is a lookout man for some fortunetelling gypsy bank robbers in Tampa. During a video store robbery he gets shot in the head, and in the single worst scene ever filmed he has the bullet removed by a lunatic former plastic surgeon to the mob, Dr. Rocula. (Oh, the hilarity!) Dr. Rocula has a very disquieting dialogue with a brain in a box that tells him what to do by ESP: I absolutely dare you to follow the good doctor’s dialogue. Rocula is on probation, and after a brief bit of padding while Brooks and fellow paranormal investigator “Inspector Gustavo Perez” (played by none other than Gustavo Perez, in an imaginative bit of casting) drop by and see Rocula’s parole officer, they find that the doctor is now caretaker of “Tampa’s oldest cemetery,” and lives in the old abandoned mansion beside it. In a bit of sublime location selection, we next see Brooks and Perez visiting the “mansion,” which is actually a small, aluminum tool shed, complete with metal door. The two ask Rocula some hard-hitting questions and examine his orange hairpiece (which is the least natural pelage in history) at great length, and eventually resolve the mess as well as it can be resolved with the help of a train and the worst special effect of the new millennium. I want to point out that the first film featured the worst actress in history, and that the sequel features easily the worst actor in film history in the character of Inspector Gustavo Perez. If you do not believe me, please watch the gripping scene when he discusses the pitfalls of parole violations with Dr. Rocula. Watch it two or three times. I defy you to find a more wooden performance this side of the spruce family.
These two films are an absolute treasure for the lover of films so bad they are good. These are unbelievable in all regards, and I can’t imagine that Ed Wood isn’t smiling at Conrad with deep admiration for the homage he has paid him.