Red Zone Cuba (1966) (part 9 of 9)
When we fade back in, we hear a rooster crowing, and Ruby is sipping coffee at the breakfast table. Then we see Cook buttering some toast and pronouncing, “Mrs. Chastain, you sure cook fine vittles!” And believe me, Cook has a very discerning palette.
Next we find Ruby bringing table scraps out to the dogs. You mean, the three hobos actually left behind some crumbs of food? That just isn’t possible. Landis, standing completely behind a tree somewhere, asks where the “pick and shovels” are. As Ruby tells him, we see Cook smoking and looking around utterly confused. Well, I’m glad it’s not just me. We then see Griffin pull a Geiger Counter out of a shed and blow dust off of it. For some reason, this leads to a shot of Cook raising his eyebrows [??]. Don’t ask, don’t think about it, and let’s just keep moving.
We then see Ruby and Cook standing over by her car, and she says to no one in particular, “Nice to have friends. Bailey always had friends.” But mostly, he knew a lot of jerks. Griffin comes over with the Geiger Counter and Landis comes over with a pick axe. They all hop in and drive off. Call me kooky, but I think you need more than a pick axe and a Geiger Counter to mine for tungsten.
The next thing we see is the car parked, and Cook and Ruby heading into a general store. While some very wrong, upbeat music plays in the background, the two of them buy groceries, and outside, Griffin paces around the car. They come out with the groceries, everyone hops back in the car, and then they’re back on their merry way. And thus ends the mesmerizing “general store” sequence.
Suddenly, the tooty upbeat music abruptly changes to “suspense” music, as we see two guys in black suits standing by a car somewhere. After a useless shot of our family of four continuing on in their car, we cut back to the black-suited guys looking around, and I swear one of them could be played by Ryan Phillippe‘s dad.
Ryan Philippe’s Dad sees the Hobo Mobile cruise past and yells, “Steve!” Steve is all like, what dude? Ryan Philippe’s Dad says they ought to call this in, so Steve gets on the radio and tells somebody named Kelley that “We’ve spotted the fugitives!” Then we get a completely useless shot of Kelley just sitting in his car.
The family of four rolls along for a while, until we cut back to Steve telling Ryan Philippe’s Dad that they’ve got their marching orders to go nab the hobos. Then we see Four on the Floor stop the car and get out. For some reason, this prompts Landis to open the hood and check the oil [?]. Griffin then stares at a mountain way, way off in the distance. “Is that the mountain?” he asks. Ruby says, “That’s the mountain.” Now go tell it on the mountain.
Then we cut back to Kelley talking on his radio to somebody named Tinsley. Tinsley responds that the sheriff has a helicopter waiting at the airport, and Kelley replies that Tinsley should meet him there. Strangely, even though we only hear Tinsley’s voice from over the radio, it sounds much, much clearer than Kelley’s voice.
We next cut to Landis slamming the hood down and telling everyone, “It’s okay.” Not that we ever knew that there was something wrong with it in the first place, but whatever. They all get back in the car, and the driver’s side door must be broken because Landis climbs in through the passenger side [?] and slides over behind the wheel. God, this movie is so random.
Then some Dragnet-style music plays as we see a car pull up to an old train station, and a guy dressed like Johnny Cash jumps out. Seconds later, some other cars pull up, and a bunch of other guys jump out, and they’re all wearing suits and carrying rifles. Kelley is among them, and someone tells Kelley that the helicopter is ready, so he turns and says, “Fine. Ready, Tinsley?”
We cut to Tinsley, and gah! It’s Frederic Downs, the same guy who played Prof. Erling in Terror from the Year 5000, which makes him the Agony Booth’s fourth Repeat Offender. Anyway, Prof. Erling is all ready to go maniac cop on the hobos, so everyone runs to the helicopter. Okay, now what happens next is just plain bizarre. Four guys run over to the copter, and Kelley jumps inside. It appears that the other three guys have just now realized that the copter only holds two people, because as soon as Kelley hops in, all three awkwardly turn around and run off in the opposite direction. [?]
Anyway, they all get back in their cars and drive off, and the helicopter flies away. Amazingly, Coleman Francis actually had the budget here to film a helicopter taking off. We then cut to the Family of Four stopping again and Landis again lifting the hood. He shows the dipstick to Griffin and says, “We’re out of oil.” Yes, and we’re also out of plot and dialogue, but that hasn’t stopped anyone in this movie yet.
Ruby says, “We better go back!” This infuriates Griffin and he pulls out his gun [?]. This prompts Landis to suddenly take off running [?]. Okay, at this point I’ve given up try to follow this movie. We hear the helicopter and see it passing overhead (I think). Griffin shoots at somebody, and that person collapses to the ground. I have no idea who that was supposed to be. Then Griffin takes off running.
Johnny Cash pulls up in his car to find Landis and Cook just standing there, completely oblivious to everything that’s happening around them. Wait, didn’t we just see Landis run off a second ago? What happened to that? Johnny Cash orders both men to put their hands in the air, and they quickly surrender. Because if there’s one thing their tour of duty in Cuba taught them, it’s how to easily give up. And so ends the story of Landis and Cook. Take care, fellas.
Then, suddenly, we see the shoes of some guy standing somewhere. As we pan up from his shoes, we note that he’s got a torn pants leg and he’s using a cane. The camera reaches his face, and it’s Bailey Chastain [!!]. What??
Then a pick-up truck pulls up next to the person Griffin shot, and it hilariously slams into some bushes as it comes to a stop. A guy gets out and puts the body into his flatbed, and it turns out to be Ruby Chastain. Okay, I definitely was not getting that. Even funnier is how there just happens to already be a pillow in the back of the truck in the exact spot where Ruby’s head ends up.
Then some “action” music starts as several cars screech to a halt, and all the lawmen with their rifles hop out and start running. We see Griffin still on the move, and somewhere along the way, the music has morphed into a goofy sped-up instrumental rendition of “Night Train to Mundo Fine”, completely with squawking sax.
Then we cut to Chastain limping up to the house on his ranch. Suddenly, the pick-up truck carrying Ruby’s body pulls up. I mean, don’t worry about taking to her a hospital or anything like that. Chastain looks in the back of the truck and sees his dead wife. Or, actually, I guess she’s not completely dead yet, because she looks back up at him. They have a heartfelt reunion, and that completes the tale of the Chastains. Goodbye, Ruby Chastain. Who could hang a name on you when you change with every new day? Still, I’m gonna miss you.
Suddenly, we cut to footage of Griffin taken from the helicopter flying over him. Some gunshots are dubbed in, and Griffin falls to his knees. He collapses, and the helicopter just continues flying off. Okay, I guess technically they could have waited to see if Griffin was actually guilty of a crime before shooting him dead, but considering the amount of money they just saved taxpayers, we should all be grateful. Then, to follow up on the shooting, here come some lawmen with their rifles who swiftly frisk Griffin’s limp body.
Suddenly, there’s a loud thunderclap [?] foleyed in as all the lawmen gather around and stare at the bloated corpse. We hear someone, I have no idea who, say, “Griffin! Ran all the way to hell with a penny and a broken cigarette!” Meanwhile, Prof. Erling, Kelley, and all the random law dudes just give each other pointless, meaningless glances. Wait, Kelley? What the hell’s he doing here? Wasn’t he the one in the helicopter?
We then close in on one law dude’s hand, and sure enough, there’s a penny and a broken cigarette in his palm. The worst part is, they could have made this a quarter instead of a penny, and actually had some continuity with the scene where Griffin robbed the diner. Dumb ass movie.
The lawman closes his hand to the sound of more thunderclaps, then all the law dudes eventually start casually strolling away. At long last, we get a caption reading “THE END”. And underneath that, Coleman Francis had the gall to say “MADE IN HOLLYWOOD, U.S.A”. Somehow, I doubt the accuracy of this statement.
As a wierd postscript, years later in ’98 and ’99 someone would mount an off-off-off-off Broadway (read: Pennsylvania) amateur theatrical production of Red Zone Cuba. Funnier yet is that it was a musical [!] that featured songs like “Ruby, Where’s the Tungsten Mine?” This gives me hope that someday we’ll finally see that shot-for-shot remake of Skydivers.