My Buddy is a Cage – Werewolf Women of the SS (2007)

Werewolf women of the ss Nicolas Cage Rob Zombie Fu Manchu Grindhouse

It’s got an iMDb credit. It counts.

And marking a rare moment for My Buddy is a Cage, it’s also available on YouTube in its entirety.

Faux trailer or not, I love Rob Zombie’s Werewolf Women of the SS. Setting aside the irony that the worst of the four Grindhouse trailers was the only one actually greenlit for a feature, those fake coming attractions presented a little something for everyone — at least if you were into Nazis, S&M, Hammer Horror or senseless gore. Sounds like my Friday night.

More than Eli Roth in Thanksgiving — admittedly my favorite of Grindhouse’s trailers– Zombie completely nails the blend of gloomy decadence and fabricated melodrama perfectly. There’s the low budget History Channel intro, a statement about the film’s greatness that’s neither fact nor quote. There’s the inexplicably topless soldiers in lederhosen or the overly serious Nazi pomp. Bill Moseley as Dr. Heinrich von Strasser is also wickedly hilarious. What’s the deal with that weird rigid salute? He’s like this gleeful robot from another planet. “You have been chosen… rejoice!” Genius line reading.

If nothing more than pointless exercise, trying to figure out the plot of Werewolf Women of the SS is a blast:

At some point in his military campaign, Adolf Hitler commissioned a secret science experiment where buxom blonde German women were injected with a gas that transformed them into rabid, hairy werewolf women. Of the SS.

Based on Udo Kier’s warning, I’d guess that this secret Death Camp 13 project begins somewhere after the tide of the war turns against the Axis Powers. See? I’m already going overboard with this shit. And to be honest, knowing too much takes some of the fun out of what Zombie is aiming for, never mind that it totally defeats the purpose of a non sequitir trailer.

Sherri Moon Zombie Werewolf Women of the SS Grindhouse

Werewolf Women of the SS marks a turning point in Nic Cage’s self-awareness. It’s a safe bet Rob Zombie specifically went to Cage for this role, just like it’s a safe bet Cage had a hoot rolling around in his own ham as Dr. Fu Manchu. First appearing in old British fiction, the character of Fu Manchu has become a ubiquitous icon for evil masterminds — He’s your grandpa’s Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

While an over the top white dude playing such an over the top Asian stereotype seems random, it most definitely isn’t. Zombie and Cage don’t opt for as offensive a take on the character as Henry Brandon, but Fu Manchu has a long tasteless history of being played by white American actors. So really — even looking past Cage’s royal purple robe, the long fingernails, the classic goatee — it all makes sense. In a super fucked up way.

I remember Cage’s cameo catching a lot of laughs in the theater. Part of that is due to the actor, who seems right at home with camp that requires not a shred of restraint. At the same time, Zombie knows exactly what he’s doing, too. When Cage solemnly approaches his vaguely “Oriental” throne, Zombie cuts out the extra sound and succumbs to a Chinese lute; the rest of trailer just seems to get out of Cage’s way and run for cover.

Rob Zombie’s trailer for Werewolf Women of the SS oozes with the exact same seedy stench it’s aiming for. That hard zoom right on Cage’s face is priceless as the “Ode to Joy” chorus kicks back in and Cage’s flaming eruption of zany self-possession pours over everything within earshot. It’s like getting burned alive by a molten flow of marshmallow and chocolate lava. Sweet, sweet, burning lava.

* * * * *

Want more Cage? You got it.

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