It's kind of sad when your film's history is more potentially intriguing and compelling than the actual product that shows up on the screen. Legend is almost always better than the truth. Such is the case with IMPS, or I.M.P.S. , or Imps - whatever you want to call it. The brainchild of one Scott Mansfield, this Kentucky Fried Movie rip-off sat on a shelf somewhere in a studio back room until DVD determined it was worth releasing. And judging from the sagging star power involved (Linda Blair! Sybil Danning! John Carradine! Keenan Wynn!), it should have remained a long LOST artifact of its time. Let's face it - any film that makes The Groove Tube look contemporary and Can I Do It Till I Need Glasses seem subtle deserves to be buried in some executive's private lyme pit. Yet here we are, faced with reviewing an artifact from almost three decades ago with humor almost twice as old. May God have mercy on us all.
In a sketch comedy style, IMPS offers us various takes on pop culture circa the early Reagan years. There are commercial lampoons, a visit with the Three Mile Island Family ("America's favorite sitcom clan"), movie trailer take-offs (Alienski - about a Polish immigrant extraterrestrial coming to the US) and the difficulties of dealing with the first African American man on the moon (NASA needs help with the mandatory translation of instructions into "jive" talk...ha, ha, ha). In between, Lenny and Squiggy play "good Nazi, bad Nazi", Linda Blair essays the important horror movie role of "the 'Don't' girl" (don't ask...) and Julia Duffy goes on a meandering, pointless monologue about the various soap opera aspects of her sex life. Porn star Marilyn Chambers even shows up in a parody of the famous American Express commercials - and no, she's not naked. Toss in the unfunny long form efforts "Teenage French Stewardess Nurse Babysitter" and "The Hanukah Horror" and you've got garbage stacked on top of sewage...I mean, satire.
Oh...no...To quote the Pet Shop Boys, what have I done to deserve this? Deodorant ad spoofs? Politically incorrect Polish jokes? A music video about wife beating? Huh? What? If I hadn't been such a pure breed pothead in college, I would swear I was having some kind of hideous acid flashback. I.M.P.S. , in any of its varied moniker meanings, actually stands for The Immoral Minority Picture Show. Incredibly Mediocre Piece of Sh*t would also be an apropos acronym. This unfunny, often unpleasant attempt at topical wit is so bereft of anything remotely resembling a sense of humor that Republicans are thinking of running it for President in 2012 (sorry, couldn't resist). As an example of what Scott Mansfield brings to the table as a filmmaker, this structure-less stool sample is about as appetizing as variety meats, and twice as gamey. It's god-awful, unfocused, unrepentant, and just plain stupid. Grade schoolers giggling over genitalia jokes have a clearer sense of wit than this turgid tripe.
Now humor is indeed personal, and what makes one person laugh might leave another stone friggin' cold. But if scientists ever locate the people who think an overlong take on slasher films (complete with and elderly Jason Voorhees utilizing a walker) is hilarious, they should quarantine them, dissect them, study the specimens, and bury the remains at Area 51. They're just not human. Frankly, Mansfield's ideal of burlesque would make old vaudevillians weep. He goes for the painfully obvious, the politically and purposefully incorrect, and can't be bothered with things like subtlety, insight, or intelligence. About the only thing he doesn't resort to is fart or feces gags, and that's because they would probably be too sophisticated for his panto-palette. A perfect example of Mansfield's mannerism comes early on, when hyperactive children are cured by the miracle drug known as Quaaludes for Kids. I'll wait until you've finished snickering. Or better yet, how about a Shake-N-Bake riff where people are the main source of batter coated goodness. Wow, better watch it. You might bust a gut.
Again, most of what IMPS wants to do is harmless, tasteless, and talentless. It packs quite a star power punch, with many famous faces from TV and movies making complete and utter asses of themselves. There are times when you wonder aloud what these so-called celebs thought of the script, if they really believed a Miller Lite style send-up of vampires and blood was viable big screen comedy. It's clear that Mansfield feels confident about his muse. He sticks with skits long after they've worn out their one note welcome and indulges in performances both asinine and amateurish (wanna know what killed Jimmie "JJ" Walker's career? Look no further...). In retrospect, it's clear why IMPS stayed locked away for so long. In the '80s, something like this would have gone direct to VHS, its lack of sex and skin a real deterrent toward finding a formidable home video fanbase. Now, some two decades later, DVD makes things a little easier, and with an entire demographic dumbed down by an endless stream of cinematic chum, IMPS may actually find some viewers willing to give it a chance. If and when it does, may God have mercy on us all.
Offered in a slightly above VHS quality 1.33:1 full screen image, IMPS looks like it was left to rot in someone's private vault of shame. The colors are faded, there's grain in abundance, and the overall look is cheap and unprofessional. It's as if a bunch of people got together on their off hours, slapped some leftover film stock into a camera, and commenced to shootin'. Definitely not reference quality. It's not even retard quality.
Again, the aural aspects of this title fail to match the mandates of the post-millennial age. This drab Dolby Digital Stereo lacks anything remotely immersive, and the musical numbers are flat and lifeless. For better or worse, the dialogue is adequately recorded and easy to understand. Just our luck.
Divided up into three categories, the added content here runs the gamut from text based updates on the cast ("What ever happened to..."), text based jokes about certain scenes in the film ("What should never have happened to...") and three deleted scenes ("Not suitable for viewing"). None of it is very interesting, and the removed material is so dismal it makes the actual film seem sensational.
Wow - this will be an easy assessment. Skip It. No caveat. No qualms. Skip It. There is not enough nostalgia or '80s revival juice to give this groan-inducing attempt at comedy a halfway, half-assed chance. It's simply not funny. Not in any way, shape, or failed film form. And don't get the wrong idea regarding such a dismissal. This is not 'so bad it's good', or 'so amateurish, it's laughable'. There are simply no guffaws here - intentional or otherwise. In a world which sees such motion picture masterworks as A New Leaf, The Gong Show Movie, and Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid unavailable on DVD, it's a shame that something this crappy gets an opportunity to stain the current digital format. Back before the advent of such technologies, this movie might have worked. Today, it's just terrible.