And to be sure, Red Zone Cuba took its toll on Mike and the bots. As Crow put it, "I want to hurt this movie, but I can never hurt it the way it hurt me."
Personally? I kinda dig it! You could say I find it entertainingly appalling.
See, what you have to understand about Red Zone Cuba is that it's part of the Coleman Francis trio (along with Skydivers and The Beast of Yucca Flats, both of which have also been MST-ified), which means it's going to have no redeeming features whatsoever.
From the moment you hear the theme song, you know you're in for hard time. I mean, after all, it was sung by...
As Mike (I think) notes in the clip, Coleman Francis looked a lot like Curly Howard of the Three Stooges. In fact, perhaps he was mistaken for Curly too often, as Francis seemed to work overtime to create a story and a character that were the opposite of the goofy, happy-go-lucky Stooge's image.
Woo woo-woo-woo-woo? I don't think so.
The story begins with Curly—er, Coleman breaking out of jail and joining two itinerant ex-con migrant workers. "We follow da harvest," one of them bleats, and you know that Francis was going for a Steinbeck/Hemingway vibe with that, but instead it just sounds kinda stupid.
The three decide to join up with a force that's planning to invade Cuba, since they're supposed to receive "a t'ousand bucks ta join, and a t'ousand bucks when it's over." The guys don't really take to the training, and who can blame them when their invasion map looks like this?
Nonetheless, they do some activities on a hillside and eventually shove off for Cuba. (To my delight, the constant MST3K response to the movie's use of "shove off" is a cry of "You shove off!")
This, apparently, is Cuba. (Its resemblance to New Mexico is completely coincidental.)
And this, apparently, is Castro! Hee!
After some skirmishes that appear to take place in someone's front yard, Coleman and compadres are captured and imprisoned.
They escape and flee by way of...
... the Cuban Air Force!
They land somewhere (we're never told where), and find the restaurant of the damned.
I think this clip really summarizes Red Zone Cuba: the mindless violence, the lack of explanation for anything, the relentless unattractiveness of settings and characters and the total disconnect to what passes for the rest of the plot.
From there, they hop a train and visit the presumed widow of one of their fellow invaders. Back in "prison" in "Cuba," Sargeant Chastain had made the mistake of telling them there was a fortune in pitchblende in a mountain he owned.
Mrs. Chastain is agreeable to the plan.
Now, you see that expression on Mrs. Chastain's face? That's the closest to happy anybody gets in this film—but you wouldn't know it from the music! Red Zone Cuba has the most inexplicably perky incidental music I've ever seen. Here's a montage:
But, of course, such lighthearted shenanigans can never last in a Coleman Francis film, and before long, everyone is arrested, wounded or just plain gunned down.
And on horrible film stock, too.
Is there a moral to the story? Not really, unless you want to count "Don't invade Cuba with only 7 guys." But perhaps a greater lesson can be learned from the works of Coleman Francis as a whole, and that lesson can be taken from a character in City Slickers:
"Lord, we give you Curly. Try not to piss 'im off."