Magic Land of Mother Goose (1967)
Article 5464 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Featuring Roy Huston, David Hammond, Judith Snow
What it is: For when your kids have been REALLY bad
Merlin the Magician visits characters from “Stories from Mother Goose” and using magic, helps them with their personal problems.
Here’s a practical joke to play on your friends. Dare them to watch the most horrible, unwatchable movie that you know. Hint that it’s directed by goremeister Herschell Gordon Lewis. If they’re familiar with the name, they’ll probably not want to seem like wimps and take you up on the challenge. Then show them this movie. The only downside to this practical joke is that you’d have to watch it with them.
This is my nominee for the worst movie ever made. When I screened it for a bad movie group I once belonged to, we couldn’t watch it one sitting and had to space it out over six nights, meaning we could only handle about ten minutes of it at a time. It is for all practical purposes the equivalent of a photographed stage play of a high school children’s production; the only reason it doesn’t quite qualify is the cast is made up entirely of adults and there are a handful of bare-bones special effects that I’m sure Melies had already mastered before the turn of the last century. It seems to be mostly an excuse for a stage magician to ply his trade; practically every plot development ends with a magic trick. It’s static as hell and looks like it may have been shot in less than one day. It’s the epitome of a snoozefest, and the movie gives a whole slew of clues to this.
1) Notice that during the introduction by Santa, he immediately falls asleep. That is a warning.
2) Old King Cole says that “nothing ever happens around here”. He’s not exaggerating.
3) The rag doll is asleep when she is first introduced. No movie this dull should have this much sleeping in it
4) When Sleeping Beauty shows up, she’s distraught because she’s NOT asleep. She knows the best way to handle this movie.
5) The witch’s main spell on the other characters is to freeze them in their tracks, making them static and lifeless. Hint. Hint. Hint.
6) When the discussion turns to making Jack Spratt lose weight, the comment is made that he has “too much power”, which I take to mean as too much energy. Doesn’t it say something that this movie is seeking to reduce the amount of energy it has?
As always, remember the Merlin rule – If a movie features Merlin the Magician but not King Arthur, it probably stinks. This movie is the equivalent of skunk roadkill.
One final warning – the only thing you’re likely to remember about this movie is the rag doll’s disturbing mask; I’m surprised some slasher movie hasn’t borrowed the look.