Last Foxtrot in Burbank
This is the story of a little boy, living in Italy, who had big dreams of making horror movies about killer puppets. Well, that may be over-simplifying things, but anyway, that little boy's name was Charlie Band.
When he came back to the U.S. with his family, he wanted to make a movie. Not just any movie, but a HORROR MOVIE! Most of his favorite movies were horror movies, and he couldn't wait to finally make one.
When the time came, he met a funny middle aged man named Frank Ray Perilli. Mr. Perilli had been a comedian. He had an idea for a funny spoof of the soon to be released Last Tango in Paris. Against his better judgement, young Mr. Band made the spoof rather than the horror movie. That film turned out to be Last Foxtrot in Burbank.
The boy wished he had made a horror movie instead.
I'm certainly not here to bash Charlie Band's first effort (which may have actually been directed in part by star Michael Pataki). I mean, we all have to start somewhere.
The film, which only runs 65 minutes, begins with an introduction by Band in which he explains the circumstances of how the film came to be and its disastrous premiere. (No one laughed.) He goes on to say he decided to destroy the prints they made up and all the print materials he had made and act like it was never a thing. Out of sight, out of mind.
Years later, a trailer surfaced and appeared on Trailers from Hell. Band didn't think it was as bad as he remembered it. Later, when he was compiling his outstanding autobiography in 2020, his co-writer kept asking him about Foxtrot so Band finally came clean.
Then, the film's negative was found. It was found in the lab it was abandoned in nearly fifty years before, like a baby on the steps of an orphanage, only in box covered in dust, grim and rat droppings.
Is Last Foxtrot in Burbank as bad as its maker claims it is? That's for you to decide. If it was a two hour epic, I would go into specifics, but I know you have 65 minutes you can spare if you're really curious. Hell, people will watch a video of someone talking about a movie for longer than that than actually watch the damn movie.
The first joke in the movie made me laugh and honestly, a lot of the humor has been picked up and done by others since. (Movies like Kentucky Fried Movie and Chillerama are quick to jump into my head.)
It has the same vibe as The Groove Tube. There's no comparing the two, but Foxtrot has that same feel. In fact, there's a penis that does an impression of Groucho Marx that could have very easily inspired Ken Shapiro to write a similar gag in The Groove Tube.
Pataki does a decent Marlon Brando impersonation, but it is probably less effective now, especially for younger viewers. (Marlon who?)
Familiar face Simmy Bow shows up. You might not know him by name, but you'll recognize him as soon as you see him. He was in a ton of films over the years and a lot for Band. He was the pinball playing short order cook who gets tossed through a plate glass window and a Pabst Blue Ribbon neon sign at the beginning of End of the World. He was a bug-eyed bum in Vamp and followed that up as the bug-eyed janitor in Beetlejuice. (You'll recognize him.)
A young John Carpenter was the editor. You can listen to him talk to Band about that gig on Band's podcast. It's entertaining.
In his introduction, Band warns that most of the jokes will go right over the viewers head if they have not seen Last Tango in Paris, as Foxtrot is a near scene for scene remake. I don't know how accurate that is. I tried watching Last Tango once and couldn't get much past the first fifteen minutes. At two hours and nine minutes, I'll stick with the shorter spoof version.
All in all, I enjoyed it for what it was. Was it ridiculous? Of course. But it made me laugh, and a lot of recent comedies don't even do that. If you're curious, give it a watch. It is a slice of weirdness from the history of one of cinema's most engaging characters.