Cinemalphabet: Z is for Zorro the Gay Blade (1981)
Spoofs are one of my least favorite genre of film. I tend to shun them way I shun historical dramas and films starring Kurt Russell. So much can go wrong in a spoof and often does spectacularly. No worries though. When your spoof tanks you can adopt an Erkel approach and claim ever bit of hot buttered fail was intentional. And doesn’t that make us all feel better about wasting our time? Oddly enough, one of precious few spoofs I actually enjoy also stars George Hamil-tan – Love at First Bite – the success of which producers of this drecky, hot mess were trying desperately to reproduce.
What worked about Love at First Bite was Hamilton playing Dracula earnestly and letting everyone behave foolishly around him. Here – in dual roles as both Zorro and twin brother (the titular “gay blade”) – Hamilton plays it loose, sloppy and is at his most painful to watch. Even as a child I knew this was a terrible movie. Its jokes unfunny, offensive and largely pointless. There are far more laughs in previous Zorro incarnations than to be had in this soggy spoof.
When I recently screened this I found myself cringing and hiding my face behind my hands in between going, “what in the name of Xena are they doing?” Whenever Zorro’s stereotypical depicted swishy twin appeared in a scene I could feel my insides curdling. The film never seemed to explain why Bunny was depicted in that manner; at least not in a way that satisfied me. Look, I’m totally not an uptight, sour cinemaphile. I love me some lowbrow humor. But this was just poor attempts at humor that weren’t funny at the time and age hasn’t changed that fact one bit. What an embarrassing waste of George Hamilton’s likable, cheesy charisma.