The Power of Salad - a review by Dave Fischer
The Power of Salad is a cheesy sci-fi monster movie, taking liberally from the fountains of Ed Wood, H. G. Wells, and Doc E. E. Smith. Surprisingly, this results in a respectfull semi-parody of classic sci-fi monster movies sure to please the retro fans of the original pulp fiction era. Not as silly as "Mars Attacks", this piece is more of a tastefull throwback to classic bad movies.
A mad scientist who has been kicked out of his prestigious Stalingrad research institute has wound up on an isolated pacific island, where he can persue his diabolical research without intereference from the media or the law. (This does not come off as such a rip-off of "Bride of the Atom" as it sounds in the retelling. The ambiance is completely different, although it is clear that the director is aware of the Ed Wood parellels.)
There are other, more subtle nods to various classic films of the monster genre sprinkled throughout the movie. When we first see the good Doctor's current tropical setup, there is a clear hint that it is the same island as "The Island of the Mushroom People" just before the visitors enter the laboratory.
As with any insane genius, our anti-hero is intent on nothing short of Total World Domination. In this case, his primary obsessions are with the plant kingdom, and popular culture. Killer plants disguised as humans are to be the weapons, and manipulation of mass media is to be the route of attack.
His plan requires that his two humanoid-plant hybrid soldiers be immersed in current popular culture in order to pass in their disguised roles. This is where the plan begins to backfire.
The plants like rock.
The movie could have easily veered off in a "Rock and Roll High School" direction at this point, but thankfully it didn't. (No disrespect to R-n-R High of course, it's just that it would be a bad genre cross-over.) The rock and roll is simply treated as an aspect of the outside world, to be manipulated, overcome, and destroyed by the good Doctor.
Soon enough the two plant-creatures are headed off on their long journy to the distant land of evil, "America", which is their target for destruction. Accompanied by a towering collection of musical equipment, the two are using the cover of being a band on tour.
The obvious slapstick jokes of odd creatures trying to pass for human are kept to a minimum, thank god, and are mostly used for a horror effect, rather than humour. The first few performances of the two are highly disturbing, in a sort of Eraserhead way. But each show becomes better, as the two watch the audience and begin to learn the subtleties of "rock music".
By the time they're approaching "ground zero" for their diabolical act against America (which we are still completely in the dark about) they've gotten fans, achieved a bit of fame in the music press, and have almost completely forgotten about the good Doctor back on Evil Island. They live to rock, and nothing more.
I won't give away the ending, but good and evil have the obvious showdown, as pleasureable musical entertainment and evil genius world domination battle it out for the fate of mankind in a dark San Francisco nightclub.
Great movie, on many levels. Retro by someone who actually respects the classic pulps & monster movies is a refreshing change from the standard retrosploitation. Great soundtrack, great performance scenes. It kind of makes you wonder where some of these underground bands actually do come from...