Schlock (1973)

Back before John Landis became a big deal and killed Vic Morrow, he was making movies like this, inspired by 1950s monster movies. Landis wrote, directed and starred as the ape in this, wearing one of the first special effect makeup jobs by Rick Baker.

Landis couldn’t find anyone willing to release this movie, but then Johnny Carson saw the film, loved it and booked Landis as a guest on The Tonight Show. Clips got shown, Carson laughed and the film was released*.

Schlock is a prehistoric apeman — you know, just like Eegah — who has come out of a cave into Southern California to terrorize some teens. He falls for a blind girl named Mandy who really likes him — well, she thinks he’s a dog — until she regains her sight and realizes that he’s a beast. That means that the military has to put him down, with Mindy quoting Love Story and a cop says the immortal final line from King Kong. As for Professor Shlibovitz, who studies the hairy creature, he comes out of the cave with the subject for a sequel, the Son of Schlock.

Landis originally wanted to make an adult movie, but then found out that he’d have to work with the underworld. So instead, he got his family and friends to donate money and made this.

*Jack H. Harris agreed to distribute the film if John Landis added ten minutes to the running time. He gave Landis $10,000 and allowed him to use footage from The Blob and Dinosaurus! Landis almost advertised that Steve McQueen was in his film, but didn’t. Still, McQueen told him years later that he was owed money for Schlock.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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