US / 1966
Do you remember that recurring bit from the Three Stooges where a couple of innocent diners would look on in horror as one of the boys chased a rascally cat or dog from the kitchen and would later return with dishes whose contents were highly suspect? Watching THE UNDERTAKER AND HIS PALS is not so very far removed from that experience. While I had been vaguely aware of the film’s Sweeney Todd-inspired “accidental cannibalism” conceit and its tongue-in-cheek manner, the abundance of overt slapstick found here did give me a good goosing. The proper frame of mind to enter this film with is to understand that nothing is to be taken seriously, not even the verbal interactions of the characters, to say nothing of the snowball’s-chance-in-Hell likelihood that our three eponymous criminals could possibly get away with their “master plan.” That probably sounds like a knock against the film, but it isn’t really. It’s refreshing to take a dive into the deep end of lunatic cinema from time to time, where women enthusiastically punctuate every fired round from their guns with a pelvic thrust; where slaughtered girlfriends are instantly forgotten as soon as a new piece of cheesecake walks through the door who is in turn instantly forgotten as soon as she’s killed and her identical twin walks through the door; where restaurants come equipped with vats of acid in the kitchen for the sole purpose of dunking bodies both living and dead. And so on. With a running time barely clocking in over an hour and a director helming the production by the Stooge-worthy moniker of T. L. P. Swicegood, THE UNDERTAKER AND HIS PALS ensures a goofy afternoon folly for those crypt-kickers who like their treats with an extra helping of kinky treats.