Shout! Factory // 1958 // 90 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Erich Asperschlager // September 11th, 2007
"So God is a three-foot alligator who can get beaten up by a girl?"
Three down, untold millions to go. It's another day at the office for The Film Crew (Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett), the Mystery Science Theater 3000 expatriates tasked with recording commentary tracks for all the movies that have so far gone without. With an impressive third release in as many months, the "crew" tackles its toughest challenge yet: Wild Women of Wongo. Is this alliterative cavewomen exploitation flick too awful to salvage, or can our boys once again make silk purses out of sows' bladders?
From the beginning of Mother Nature's voiceover, it's clear The Film Crew: Wild Women of Wongo is going to be rough. Apparently Ms. Nature, feeling bored, devised an experiment: she made two tribes -- one with beautiful women and ugly men, called the Wongos, and another with handsome men and not-so-beautiful women, called the Goonas -- put them on separate islands, and waited to see what would happen when they met. Guess what? The wait is over.
Under threat of attack by so-called "Ape Men," the Goona prince visits the Wongo beach, inviting the Wongoans back to the Goona island (at least that's what I imagine it's called) so the tribes can band together to fight the brutish invasion.
"Ooh," I hear you say. "Invaders and intrigue. This might not be that bad." Sorry. Though we see the Ape Men eventually (they look normal to me), this set-up is, of course, the movie's flimsy excuse to introduce the Wongo women to the beefcake buffet they've been missing.
Indeed, the titular females go gaga for the Goona prince. Blinded by lust for the slightly more good-looking strangers (in reality, the "ugly" Wongo men look pretty average), they turn against their people, saving the Goona prince from a sneak attack by the jealous Wongo men, and, in the process, knocking over an idol representing their "Dragon God" (a stuffed alligator on a stick). Their god humiliated (and their dudes peeved), the Wild Women of Wongo are banished to the Dragon God's temple, so their reptilian deity may choose one of them as a sacrifice. Not exactly digging this plan, these "wild women" seek the protection of the Goona prince and his hunky fraternity brothers.
Skinny dipping, alligator wrestling, revealing animal skin dresses, and a comic-relief parrot. Who knew exploitation could be so boring? For a film that tries to be funny, exciting, exotic, and sexy, it fails miserably on all counts. As Bill Corbett says while all of the Wongo women do a writhing temple dance: "I can't tell if this is sexy or stupid." And don't even bother asking questions like: if the only men the Wongo women have ever seen are "ugly," shouldn't they be repulsed by the good-looking ones? I've seen that episode of The Twilight Zone, too. Just forget it, okay?
Okay, so we've established that Wild Women of Wongo is not good. No big deal. That's what we came here for, right?
As any dyed-in-the-wool MST3K fan can tell you, finding the right bad movie to skewer can be tough. Believe it or not, there's such a thing as a movie being "too bad" to make fun of. It's simple math (or something ending in "-ometry"): if nothing happens in a movie, there's nothing to make jokes about. The trick is finding that sweet spot of awfulitude. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, but for every Manos: The Hands of Fate, there's a Red Zone Cuba...or a Wild Women of Wongo.
The Film Crew probably did all it could with this train wreck of a movie, but, in the end, it's not enough. The belly laughs come few and far between, and, too often, it seems the guys are so stunned by the bad acting and wandering camera they're unable to say anything. It's not that there aren't any good jokes (I liked the running gag voiceover battle between God and Mother Nature, for example), it's just that there are too few laughs compared to the trio's past work.
The interstitial sketches are a little better this month, especially Kevin's explanation of Wongo's geographic location, as marked on a "Map of the World" that includes Narnia, Fantasy Island, Margaritaville, and Toon Town (in case you wondered, Wongo's between Shangri-La and The Island of Misfit Toys). The extras feel more like deleted interstitials: "Make the Film Crew Dance!" is less interactive (and amusing) than it sounds, though "The Film Crew Says 'Goodbye' Wongo-Style" is funny in a "seeing-someone-get-sprayed-in-the-eye-with-rubbing-alcohol" kind of way.
Fair or not, I've come to expect a lot from Mike, Kevin, and Bill. They're kings among men (men who make fun of bad movies, anyway), and as such are responsible for some of the best comedic moments of my life. Mystery Science Theater 3000 managed to be drop-dead funny about 95 percent of the time. That's pretty impressive. Sure, they dropped the ball on occasion, but the best episodes more than made up for the weakest.
In my review for The Film Crew: Killers From Space, I hemmed and hawed a bit about the price of these discs -- not that they're priced unfairly, but if the monthly release schedule continues, keeping up with The Film Crew could become an expensive habit. They've only announced four DVDs so far, and while I hope they sell well enough to keep the series going, I feel responsible to you and your bank account, which is why I recommend passing on Wild Women of Wongo. If you're a Film Crew completist -- or are afraid not supporting these releases means there won't be any more -- go ahead and pick it up. Heck, maybe you'll like it more than I did (if not, at least it comes with a cool sticker). If you're more casual in your fanaticism, however, save those pennies, and maybe see what's new on rifftrax.com. There's always next month.
Review content copyright © 2007 Erich Asperschlager; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1958
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Make the Film Crew Dance!
* The Film Crew Says "Goodbye" Wongo-Style
* The Film Crew's Official Site