Red Zone Cuba (1966) (part 2 of 9)

Some public domain classical music starts up as we then cut to an extreme wide shot of a big blob of flesh running across hills, and then the title of the movie comes flying at us. This blob of flesh, as it turns out, is Coleman Francis, the director and star of this movie. Meanwhile, there’s a total jump cut to a train rolling down the tracks. It’s pretty sad when a movie can’t even get through its opening credits without a jump cut. The classical music fades out, only to be replaced by minor chords being frantically strummed on an electric guitar. The film then begins its imbecilic Fugitive-style opening credits wherein the actors’ faces and names are both flashed on-screen at the same time.

First up is the star of our show, auteur Coleman Francis himself, who we find ducking down into some weeds on the other side of a barbwire fence. Next up is fellow cinematic genius Tony Cardoza, who we see talking MOS directly into the camera while wearing a dorky cowboy hat. Receiving third billing in this movie (and hence, becoming the third most worthless person to have ever been alive) is Harold Saunders. Harold is looking around warily while wearing a goofy Savino cap, like he just wandered off the set of Newsies.

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Then we see the credit introducing John Carradine as a “Guest Star”. Since the thirty-second intro is the extent of his appearance here, obviously the clip is something we just saw ten seconds ago. I’m not sure why he’s listed as “Guest Star”, but if you’re in the mood for a good scare, just ponder the possibility that this movie might have been intended as the pilot for a TV series.

Red Zone Cuba (1966) (part 2 of 9)

Tonight’s episode: “Have Gun, Will Stagger”.

As John Carradine’s picture fades away, we suddenly hear the voice of Satan himself. No, wait, I’m sorry, I got that wrong. Actually, what we hear is John Carradine singing [!!!!] this movie’s theme song. Carradine’s croaking baritone is a lot like painful, cancerous death put to song, and it’s quite clear that the chain-smoking thing wasn’t just something John happened to pick up for the Mr. Wilson role.

Hey, here’s another crazy thing. I almost tried to figure out how to play this song on guitar, since it’s pretty obvious the whole thing is just three minor chords. I didn’t get very far with this, because I suddenly realized there were far more productive things I could be doing, like, say, smoking more crack.

And yet, I still found time to transcribe the lyrics (most of them, anyway) and record an MP3 sound clip. That’s right, not only do you get to hear Mr. Carradine singing, but you also get to follow along with the words at home! You guys are the luckiest website visitors ever.

“Night Train to Mundo Fine”
written by: Ray Gregory
“music played by”: Ray Gregory and the Melmen
“sung by”: John Carradine

Night train to Mundo Fine
Night train to the end
Running hard and running fast
To meet my future and away from my past
Taking that gamble that cannot last
Night train to the eeeeeend!

Hell’s ride to Mundo Fine
Hell’s ride to the end
Sold my soul to the devil’s men
He draws me hard with a merciless hand
And all I bought is a handful of sand
Night train to the eeeeeeend!

I’m on this ride ’cause I have no pride
In myself, or in men, or in God!
Now if you want to share in the price of my fare
Then fill your mind with greed and blind
And wander in a G Bill fog

Night train to Mundo Fine
Night train to the end
Running hard and running fast
To meet my future and away from my past
Taking the gamble that cannot last
Night train to the eeeeeend!

Throughout the song, we see random “action-oriented” shots. Actually, it’s mainly just Coleman Francis oozing through some weeds. Then there’s a shot of an empty road, then a shot of the back of somebody’s head as they drive. Then it’s back to that empty road again. Wow! Do you feel the suspense? The intrigue? I feel a tingle up and down my spine. Oh, sorry, that’s actually the feeling returning to my body after I slammed my head into a brick wall in an attempt to escape the misery.

Then there’s more of Coleman Francis, International Man of Mystery, as he climbs across some rocks adjacent to a concrete wall. There’s a random shot of a mangy, diseased dog sniffing around in the dirt. Actually, this is much better than having to look at Coleman Francis, but unfortunately, we go back to him climbing some more rocks. Then we see Coleman Francis with a pistol in his hand and running, desperately hoping to have a heart attack. Or maybe that’s me hoping that. Anyway, same difference. Then we see several men off in the distance being led by that old mangy dog.

As the song continues, we cut to two bums on the side of the road. They’re standing next to the pickup truck from Sanford and Son, and there’s a lengthy shot of the two of them just staring off into space. Meanwhile, Coleman Francis continues wheezing as he runs through the weeds. Actually, it’s funny because at this point we hear John Carradine sing the line “I’m running hard and running fast”, and I think I can safely say that at this point Coleman Francis is not running hard or fast.

During the guitar solo, we get more footage of the two bums just standing there. Then it’s back to the guys with the dog. It then becomes apparent that these are police on a manhunt for Coleman Francis. (And I don’t mean the Movie Police.) I guess this means having mange doesn’t necessarily disqualify a dog from working in the K-9 unit, after all. Then it’s back to Coleman Francis, who slips underneath what has to be the most useless barbwire fence ever constructed in the history of mankind. He ducks behind some bushes, and I’m going to guess these bushes are not far from the two bums with their Sanford and Son truck.

Over at the truck, we find the two bums performing activities that bear a faint resemblance to normal human beings changing a flat tire. Suddenly, a cop car pulls up behind them, and for some reason, the two men put their hands up [?] while some “cricket” noises are very abruptly dubbed in. Finally, we see the two bums are being played by Tony Cardoza and Harold Saunders.

The cop looks at the tire iron and tells Cardoza to “Get rid of it.” The tire iron, not Cardoza, unfortunately. He tosses it away, and the cop frisks the two of them. We learn that Saunders is named “Cook”, and Cardoza is named “Landis”. See, these are two of the “desperados” mentioned by the Gazette Guy in the opening scene. By process of elimination, I’m guessing that Coleman Francis is “Griffin”, and that he’ll be running all the way to hell before this movie is over. Boy, I can’t wait to see that part. The cop, since he’s a cop in a B-movie, is wearing a customary cowboy hat. He asks where they’re headed and Cook yells out, “Lookin’ for work! We follow the harvest!”

The cop asks if they’ve seen anyone around there, and they tell him they haven’t. Despite this, the cop pokes his head into their truck a little bit, then wanders around in the bushes for a while. We see Coleman Francis hiding behind some bushes with his face stuck in a drain pipe. I guess he’s looking for his next script.

Then, some guy off-screen yells, “Attention! All cars report to Three Forks immediately!” Oh, wait, that was supposed to be the radio in the police car [!], but that voice didn’t even remotely sound like it was coming out of a radio. The cop rushes back to his car, telling Cook and Landis to get their truck out of there before he runs them in.

The two men frantically comply, picking up a jack and a hubcap and scurrying around their truck like the Keystone Cops, and Cook even takes a spill and ends up face down in the dirt [?]. Then we cut to the cop car pulling off and see Griffin still getting friendly with that drain pipe.

Griffin looks behind him and sees the mangy dog and the lawmen getting closer, so he makes a run for it. He climbs up the embankment to the road, and in a daring stunt (and by “daring” I mean “retarded” and “my mom could probably do it”) Griffin leaps into the bed of Cook and Landis’ pickup just as it pulls off at a dizzying eight miles an hour. Strangely, neither Cook nor Landis appear to notice the addition of this massive amount of weight to their vehicle.

Red Zone Cuba (1966) (part 2 of 9)

I think the dog just neutered himself.

We see the mange-errific dog lead the police up to the barbwire fence that Griffin slipped under, and the dog totally gets tangled up in the barbwire. Ouch! Ah, well, who needs that Humane Society anyway? The dog sniffs at the drain pipe and immediately recoils, obviously detecting the scent of incompetence.

Meanwhile, Griffin is in the bed of the pickup covering himself with a blanket, and the truck speeds down a dirt road. A “crow of the rooster” sound effect is dubbed in to let us know it’s near dawn.

Multi-Part Article: Red Zone Cuba (1966)

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