The Return of Captain Invincible (1983)

Rating: C-

Dir: Phillipe Mora
Star: Alan Arkin, Christopher Lee, Kate Fitzpatrick

You can tell the target this one is aiming for, even before you discover Richard O’Brien’s involvement – welcome to Rocky Horror territory, in this spoof musical about an ex-superhero (Arkin) brought back into circulation to fight evil racist Mr. Midnight (Lee). It starts promisingly enough, with a series of archive ‘newsreels’ detailing Invincible’s decline and fall as a result of the McCarthy hearing (hell, his cape was red, after all); it’s the middle, after he gets rescued, that drags horribly. You’d think there’d be plenty of scope for a retro-hero trying to come terms with modern-day crime and criminals; unfortunately, the makers here didn’t and the film lurches around without direction or enthusiasm.

Lee, however, is great as Midnight, and when he finally confronts Invincible, things warm up again – there is one genuinely brilliant joke about pits that’s straight out of Airplane and is sadly underplayed. Lee was both a Rocky Horror narrator, and a trained singer, which may be why his song, Name Your Poison, is easily the best in the film, even if the lingerie-clad dancers make it seems like a Rocky out-take. But anyone who can deliver lines like “If you won’t name your poison/I’ll have to send the boys in” with a straight face, is a real trouper. Those three minutes alone are worth seeing.