Red Zone Cuba (1966) (part 7 of 9)

Meanwhile, Chastain is still sweating like crazy. Meanwhile, Landis is still out of focus. And meanwhile, a now painting-less Sancho Panza is still asleep. And so it goes. In a clip that was totally reused from a few minutes ago, Chastain again begs for water, so Griffin tells Cook to go to the window and ask the guard for water. He says if the guard gives them water, that means “we have a chance to make a break.”

“They won’t give us none,” a sedated Cook says, as we get a close-up of a random tin cup propped up against the wall. Griffin supposedly grabs the tin cup, and tells Cook to just go ahead and do it, and to tell the guard that Chastain has “got a fever”. And the only cure… is more cowbell!

Cook goes to the window and cries out, “Guard. Sentry. Water.” With his face all the way out of the frame, we hear Cook say that Chastain has a fever and asks for “just a cupful”, so the guard obliges him and fills the cup from his canteen. And I swear, the guy playing the guard is the same actor who was playing Philip Michael Thomas a few minutes ago [!!]. Cook then takes a sip and slowly nods. Yep, this must be good water, alright.

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The cup is then passed around from Landis to Griffin to Cook (and Cook, I should point out, has now had two sips) before it finally reaches the guy who actually has the gangrene. As Chastain polishes it off, Griffin tells Cook to basically do the same thing again tomorrow at midnight, which will be right after they change guards.

Red Zone Cuba (1966) (part 7 of 9)

The best part of being locked up, is Folgers in your cup!

Suddenly, El Presidente’s jeep drives back into Camp X-Ray. Landis sees this and tells the other two that they had better move out now. Cook asks Landis if he can pilot one of the Cuban planes, and Landis assures him that he can. Well, at least I understand now why they overdubbed that line where Griffin said he had a friend who could fly a plane.

Griffin tells Cook to go ask for more water, and specifically, he wants Cook to get the guard to lean in close. “If I can get my hands on him,” a bored Griffin says, “I’ll snap his neck.” Or maybe I’ll take a nap. Either one would work out just fine right about now. Cook wonders about that whole “wait ’til the guard change tomorrow at midnight” plan, but apparently that’s been completely tossed out the window. Well, it’s a good thing we got to watch them take ten minutes to carefully set it up.

Cook remarks that the airstrip is two or three miles away, and Landis realizes that they need a plane with enough fuel to get back to the mainland. Well, that’s sure using your gray matter, Landis. Suddenly, Chastain crawls over to Griffin and pleads for them to take him along, too. Then he plays the “Ranch Card”, saying there’s a mine on his ranch back in Arizona that’s got “uranium, tungsten, diamonds, maybe!”

As expected, Griffin brutally grabs Chastain by the collar. In fact, I hereby decree that the act of brutally grabbing someone shall now be referred to as “Griffinizing”. Griffin reminds Chastain that he’s got gangrene, meaning they can’t take him along. Chastain turns and pleads with Cook instead. A seemingly barely conscious Cook asks, “What kind of cock and bull story are you laying on us?” Chastain promises that there are “riches on my mountain” that are “worth thousands!” Cook repeats to no one in particular, “Uranium…”

Cook turns to Griffin and says, “I know it sounds crazy, but I believe him! Griffin… let’s go to Arizona!” I wanna see the Grand Canyon! In response, Griffin simply tells him to get up and “check the window”.

Cook goes to the window and says, “Water. Thirsty. Sick man.” and then in a dumb “corner of the mouth”-style aside, Cook says, “I don’t think he’s gonna buy that!” Well, if you keep saying things like that at the top of your voice, he might not.

Griffin, standing off to the side of the window and out of sight, makes Cook ask again. When a guard responds, Griffin lunges out of the window and totally Griffinizes him, then moves onto a clever “strangling and killing him” ploy to take him out. The guard collapses, meaning this one actor has now had two death scenes in this movie. Then the three hobos jump out of the window and take off into the brush. Yes, that’s right, we just witnessed exactly how to escape Camp X-Ray. John Walker Lindh, I hope you were paying attention.

Soon, we hear poorly overdubbed Spanish yells and see the feet of several Cuban soldiers as they scurry around in pursuit. Apparently, the escape of three hobos has raised the alert status of Cuba to Defcon One. We then cut to everyone’s three favorite hobos hiding under a shack momentarily, and then an instant later, they take off running. They sprint through what looks like the set of an old Western, where a Cuban jumps out behind them with a rifle. However, it seems that, at least in this universe, a guy built like Griffin can be a quick draw, because he “swiftly” spins around and shoots first with his pistol. The guard drops and the hobos continue to run across the plain.

Red Zone Cuba (1966) (part 7 of 9)

By the time you know you’re being Griffinized, it’s already too late.

Then we see somebody’s jeep driving somewhere. After a few seconds of this, we cut away. Um, okay. Then it’s back to the three guys running through the weeds of “Cuba”. We see them trying to make it up a hill, and learn that the airfield is on the other side. Don’t ask me how they know exactly where the airfield is. I guess that Cocktail Napkin Doodle had more detail than I previously thought.

After more disconnected footage of jeeps circling around in the dirt, the Three Stooges finally reach the top of the hill. All three lie on their stomachs and survey the huge fleet of airplanes amassed below them, by which I mean three prop planes with one guard casually strolling around.

Griffin looks at Landis, who scurries down the hill and easily jumps into the one of the planes. He quickly climbs out, however, and a helpful Cook informs us, “Must have been low on gas.” Or maybe he just didn’t like the color scheme in there. So Landis jumps into the next plane just as the guard comes walking past.

For some reason, the guard gets suspicious, so he goes over to check out the plane. Thankfully, another moment of excitement is easily avoided as the guard just decides on his own to move along. Landis hops out of the plane and runs into the next one [?]. Okay, so was wrong with that one? Don’t tell me it was low on fuel, too? Do the Cubans usually keep a lot of planes sitting around without enough fuel to reach the US?

The guard then comes walking into the frame from the right, even though we clearly saw him walking off to the left a second ago. Landis gets the plane started, and Cook and Griffin make a run for it. Cut to some other guards reacting, and they all come running. We get a close-up of Cook’s face as he runs, and it’s hard not to notice an odd shadow over his shoulder that closely resembles a camera in the back of a pickup truck.

Landis gets the aircraft rolling down the runway, forcing Griffin to jump into a moving plane while a Cuban soldier shoots at him. And you know, I didn’t think there would be a boring way to film what I just described, but Coleman Francis somehow found it. I’d also mention that he completely forgot to insert a shot of Cook getting into the plane, but I think by this point that goes without saying. We then see close-up shots of Landis piloting the plane as random guards appear on the sides of the runway firing at them.

A jeep chases the plane, and soon one guard in the jeep stands up and shoots at them. We keep cutting back to Landis during this, which makes no sense at all, because he’s not reacting to it in any way. And then we just fade out.

When we fade in, their plane is conveniently already up in the air in flight. Then we cut to the plane already landed, and the three men jump out. I guess footage of “taking off” and “landing” wasn’t in the budget. Of course, I have to wonder if it’s really this easy to fly a plane from Cuba directly into the United States. You’d think that the military might be a little concerned about something like that.

Now, if you thought this movie was pointless and disjointed before, I’m sorry to say that things are about to take a turn for the truly unwatchable. From here on in, the movie becomes nothing more than a random sequence of pointless events, mostly revolving around Griffin brutalizing people, Griffin chain smoking, and Griffin brutalizing people who chain smoke. I mean, even more than before.

The three hobos walk down a dirt road, then they pass a fence and end up in a grassy area, and I have no idea where they’re supposed to be. For some reason, Griffin tells Cook to stand watch up by the road, so Cook splits off from the group and we get a lengthy sequence of Griffin and Landis just strolling around.

Then from out of nowhere…. we get of shot of them still walking. They pass by a brick-lined well, and both men stop to give it expressionless stares so that we’ll remember it later. They eventually come to a roadside diner where everything they serve is spray-painted on the outside walls. According to the walls, this diner serves SHRIMP SCALLOPS CHICKEN FROG LEGS TOP SIRLION STEAK TROUT CAT-FISH FRIED OYSTERS ABALONE. Well, at least it’s cheaper than having menus printed. Griffin and Landis watch a middle-aged gentleman come out of the establishment, and he appears to be dressed far too well to be in this movie. He checks a mailbox and finds he’s got a newspaper and a letter, and then he heads back inside.

Red Zone Cuba (1966) (part 7 of 9)

But do they have hog jaw, or rib in can syrup?

This prompts Griffin and Landis to walk over to the diner, and of course we get to watch every single second of this. Inside, the middle-aged guy picks up the letter, shakes his head, and tosses it in the trash. Must be his paycheck for appearing in this movie. Eventually, Griffin and Landis walk in and sit down at the counter. They order coffee from the Middle Aged Guy, which he proceeds to pour as slowly as possible into two mugs in front of them.

Griffin notes some piano playing in the background, and the Middle Aged Guy says it’s his daughter. Then we cut to the daughter, who’s staring vacantly off into space. I don’t see a piano, but I guess this was meant to be a special effect technique known as “using your imagination”. Then it’s back to Griffin and Landis as Middle Aged Guy explains, “She’s been blind since, y’know, her husband got killed in the war.” Yeah, we know. When a man dies, his wife usually gets a case of hysterical blindness. Makes perfect sense to me.

Without any prompting, we hear Middle Aged Guy say, “Doctors have done everything for her. With no effect. Spent all my money. Since that freeway went in, I lost all my business.” Okay, but did we ask? “I guess there’s not much use trying! May as well fold up and pull out.” Damn! Where will I get my SHRIMP SCALLOPS CHICKEN FROG LEGS now? Then we finally cut to MAG just in time to see him take a sip of coffee.

For no particular reason, Griffin suddenly appears behind MAG, and he puts him in a chokehold [!]. In a really lousy bit of overdubbing, we hear MAG’s voice blandly beg for his life and say, “No one can take care of my daughter!” And as this happens, we continue to check back in with the daughter as she just stares vacantly into space. What, is she deaf, too?

Then we cut to the front of the diner and see the guys waiting for their cue to start moving. They drag MAG off, but he breaks away and tries to escape. As he runs off, we finally see the sign in front of his diner, and the place is appropriately called the “Sleepy Valley Café”. Anyway, MAG “trips” and “falls”, and Landis comes up to him and does a very unconvincing job of pounding on him. Landis and Griffin eventually pick him up and continue carrying him away.

They drag him over to the well we saw earlier and then they drop him in [!!]. Tough luck for MAG, huh? But hey, Jessica McClure got out of one of these, so all hope is not lost. Landis shuts what looks like a cellar door on top of MAG and the two head back towards the diner. Suddenly, the blind daughter starts singing. Griffin indicates a convertible to Landis and says, “Check that junk box, see if it’ll run.”

Griffin heads back into the diner, then finds the room where the blind daughter is “playing piano”. He gets behind her, puts her in a half nelson, and pulls her away from the piano. Hilariously, this move is accompanied by a thundering piano glissando [!!]. Ooh ooh, try playing scales! Maybe that will ward him off! Then we see Griffin pull her onto a bed while she makes a really lame attempt at “fighting back”.

Then it’s back to Cook, just wandering around. Hi, Cook. Then it’s over to Landis fiddling around under the hood of that convertible. So, Landis can fly a plane and hotwire a car? He’s like the hobo version of MacGyver! Finally, it appears Griffin is all done pounding on the blind daughter, and has moved onto pounding on the diner’s cash register. He finally gets it open, revealing that all that’s in there is a quarter. Well, that sure was worth dropping somebody in a well over. I mean, it’s not even a state quarter or anything. And knowing Griffin, let’s just hope there’s no Ms. Pac Man game in this diner, or that quarter’s history.

He hears Cook yell, “Car up the road! Car up the road!” In a series of really confusing edits, Griffin and Cook both go running over to the convertible. Then we see the blind daughter with her clothes all mussed up as she gets out of bed. That’s right, babe, you’ve just been Griffinized! The three men jump into the car, then we see the blind daughter resting her face against a doorframe and despondently sliding to the floor.

Red Zone Cuba (1966) (part 7 of 9)

Don’t feel bad for her. After all, she’ll never be able to see this movie.

Next we find the Three Hobos cruising along in the hotwired convertible. Then, for absolutely no reason, there’s a quick cut back to the blind daughter for a shot that consists of nothing but the doorframe and one of her calves in the background.

Then it’s back to the Three Amigos speeding down a scenic road, and I swear it’s the same road Hal Warren pulled off of at the start of “Manos”. They pass through a small town, and then suddenly we see them heading down a road with snowy mountains all around. Cook is in the back looking like he’s freezing his nuts off, so Griffin calmly tells Landis, “Pull over. Get that top up.” Why, Griffin, I never knew you cared.

And now comes a bit that defined the word “pointless” for an entire generation. They pull over, and Griffin and Landis get out and try to pull the top up, but can’t do it. Yes, that’s right, this scene actually goes on for several minutes [!], and we even get to see close-ups of the two of them as they tug at and struggle with the top. They even switch sides [?], but amazingly enough, that doesn’t work either. Boy, I’ve seen some bizarre moments in movies before, but I am just dumbfounded here. I have absolutely no idea where they were going with this. Griffin wanders away, happening upon some Burma Shave-type roadside ads that say “WHERE WILL YOU SPEND ETERNITY?” Apparently, watching this movie. Anyway, after a shot of Cook looking really cold and unhappy, the car just continues on its way.

Multi-Part Article: Red Zone Cuba (1966)

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  • Strelnikov

    I’ve seen “Red Zone Cuba” more than once….I think all the Cuba scenes were shot at a ranch somewhere on the outskirts of Los Angeles, all of the outdoor scenes feel really Californian. The “Cuban airfield” might have been in the desert near El Centro or out near Palm Springs. People don’t know how rural California can get, especially as you move closer to Nevada.