Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Children of the Speckled Corn

I hope everyone's having a pleasant day, untroubled by work, racist relatives, or an uncomfortable proximity to turban squash. Mary is making her traditional Thanksgiving feast -- turkey, mashed potatoes, and Brussels sprouts, I believe -- while I am practicing the custom of my ancestors, staying-the-hell-out-of-the-kitchen, because it's roughly the depth and breadth of a coffin, and my presence tends to test the limits of patience and the bonds of matrimony, while increasing the likelihood that the kitchen itself will transition from a tiny food preparation area to an actual casket, in that it will suddenly contain a dead body.

I mean besides the turkey.  (And spare me the turkey jokes -- I'm looking at you, Actor212 -- because you really need to be a Seventies icon of Earl Holliman, or Ben Murphy quality to pull off that kind of insult with any degree of panache.)

So I'll be in the recliner, with my coffee, my lower back pain medication, and a lapful of cats, watching the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day Marathon on ShoutFactoryTV, or YouTube, or whatever damn streaming service I can coax into compliance.

What are you guys up to this year? Please let me know in the comments, because while I don't live well, I do live vicariously.

Mmm, boy! That's good flesh!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Slumgullion: Episode 41

Scott and Jeff discuss Opie Taylor's new Star Wars movie, Han Solo: Why?, then make Star Trek: Discovery and The Orville square off and fight like Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots. Afterwards, the New Movie Crew considers Justice League. Did we like it? Even we don't know at first, as we get sidetracked about The Flash taking a stealth poop and why Batman is so confused about Miller Time.

Also, Jeff gets suddenly sucked away by a storm like Dorothy Gale.  Please enjoy...

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How It (Probably) Happened One Christmas

By Bill S.

The year: 1977

The place: The office of some network tv executive who greenlights bad ideas. A brainstorming session for a new Christmas special is taking place. Let's listen in, shall we?

"Hey, I've got a great idea. Let's remake It's A Wonderful Life!"

"Are you nuts? That's a movie classic."

"We're doing it with a twist: we're making the George Bailey character a woman."

"Oh, so it'll be a modernized version with some feminist take. That'll be interesting."

"Um, no, we're setting in in 1944."

"Well, that could still be interesting, since a woman's options in the 40's were very different from a man's. It'll change the story in big ways."

"Um, no, we're keeping the exact same story, even a lot of the same dialogue."

"But...that's preposterous. Why bother setting the story in the 40's if you're just gonna pretend gender equality already happened?"


"Oh, well, maybe it could still work, if you get a female lead who's of the same caliber as Jimmy Stewart. Who do you have? Anne Bancroft? Shirley MacLaine? Jane Fonda? Diane Keaton? Marsha Mason?"

"Are you kidding? This is TV, we could never get one of them."

"So...Mary Tyler Moore maybe?"

"Marlo Thomas."

"Oh, the decaf version of Mary Tyler Moore."

"She's co-producing."

"Then I guess we're stuck, what about the male Donna Reed?"


"If you're making George Bailey into a woman, I assume you're making Mary into a man. Unless this is a lesbian--"


"Damn, I knew that was too much to hope for. In any case, a big part of the original film's appeal was that romance between George and Mary. Donna Reed was like, the perfect woman. If George could be married to her, and still contemplate suicide, you know he's in big trouble and needs divine intervention. So, who's the guy you found to fill that role?"

"Wayne Rogers."

"Trapper John? Shit, you couldn't even get Alan Alda? Oh well, maybe the supporting cast can salvage it. The original had a great one--Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers, Thomas Mitchell, Beaulah Bondi, Gloria Grahame--"

"We've got Cloris Leachman in the Clarence role."

"Ah, Oscar and Emmy winning Cloris Leachman. That should give this thing a shot in the arm."

"Speaking in a silly Cockney accent."

"What the fuck? Why? Wait, is this a parody? Is Mel Brooks writing it?"


"Damn, I knew that was too much to hope for. Okay, who else?"

"Barney Martin, Doris Roberts, Christopher Guest, Archie Hahn--"

"You're sure this isn't a comedy?"

"We've got Orson Welles as Mr. Potter."

"Finally some casting that makes sense. Um, he isn't, by any chance, direct--"


"Damn, I knew that was too much to hope for. Is there anything that might sell this remake to an audience?"

"It's in color."

"Who gives a shit?"

"We think it would make a great companion piece to that remake of Miracle On 34th Street with Sebastian Cabot."

"Yes, I suppose it would."

"In fact, we were thinking of releasing them on videocassette next year. In a box set. The Beta format, of course."

"Beta? But that' know, actually, releasing those two together on Beta is the perfect way to preserve them. The only way, in fact."

The Hallmark holiday movie season is upon us. Beware.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Doc Armstrong Versus Thor!

It's another new Slumgullion, and this episode we're joined by Writer-Director-Actor-Author-Human-Hyphen Larry Blamire (Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, Dark and Stormy Night) to talk about his two-fisted pulp novel, Doc Armstrong: Suburb on the Edge of Never, which has recently been awarded a coveted Third Fist by the National Association of Pulp Manufacturers' Sub-Committee on Fist Metrics.

We also chat about Larry's graphic novel series, Steam Wars, his book of Western horror stories, Tales of the Callamo Mountains, and its upcoming sequel, and his three alternate universe dictionaries, Larry Blamire's Blammary: Terms You May Not Know: With Unrelated Illustrations #1, #2, and #3.

Also, a whole lot of goofy stuff, and even a few tough, probing, thoughtful questions, but the answers are hard to understand, because everybody's eating scones.

Then we make a seamless transition to the Unknown Movie Challenge, as the New Movie Crew has its legally binding say on Thor: Ragnarok. Oh, and we murder Tinkerbell. Sorry about that.

Also available on Stitcher and iTunes

Sunday, November 12, 2017

World O' Crap Remembers Roy

While Time's Arrow flies in but one direction, History is a circle, as Sheri reminded me today with this post from August, 2011.  We were celebrating the eighth anniversary of World O' Crap by rooting through the first week's postings, which were mostly concerned with helping then-Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore for proving that he's dumb as a rock. I mean, a literal rock. Like, two tons of granite worth of dumb.

So I thought I'd repost this, for the benefit of newbies who only think of Roy as a hebephile:

Just two days after the publication of her founding manifesto, s.z. took on the Judge Roy Moore-Big Rock Candy Commandments Controversy, which was just then coming to a head.  For those who may not recall the details, Moore was the newly elected Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, who felt the wooden Ten Commandments plaque that hung in the Courthouse wasn't ostentatious enough.  So he commissioned a 2½-ton granite monument carved with a graven image of the Decalogue, and had it delivered to the Rotunda after business hours.  Chief Justice Moore seems to have anticipated that his actions might be regarded as irregular, if not downright illegal by the Federal judiciary, since, according to Wikipedia:
The installation was filmed, and videotapes of the event were sold by Coral Ridge Ministries, an evangelical media outlet in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which later used proceeds from the film's sales to pay Moore's ensuing legal expenses. Coral Ridge was the operation of the late Reverend D. James Kennedy, a staunch Moore supporter.
Moore also had a Copyright notice chiseled into the monument, presumably so he could help fund his extra-Constitutional activities by selling paperweight reproductions in the Supreme Court Gift Shop. 
The next morning, Moore held a press conference in the central rotunda to officially unveil the monument [and] declared, "Today a cry has gone out across our land for the acknowledgment of that God upon whom this nation and our laws were founded....May this day mark the restoration of the moral foundation of law to our people and the return to the knowledge of God in our land."
 While most bloggers discussed the First Amendment implications of Moore's actions, s.z. decided to go directly to the top:

God Comments On Alabama Ten Commandments Rock 

It seems that this guy Rob Moore is just not going to get his rock out of the rotunda -- at least, not until the media stops covering this story.

And while there have been a lot of people interviewed about the situation (Rob, his supporters, the Alabama State Attorney General, the ACLU, Jerry Falwell, etc.), it seems that nobody has talked to perhaps the key player in all of this: God.

So, I got in touch with God's press secretary and managed to set up a short lunch meeting. Here's a transcript of our conversation:


Me: Thanks for agreeing to talk with me.

God: No problem. I meet so few reporters these days that I felt it was my duty.

Me: Hey, was that a slam?!? But let's move on. As you know . . .

God: Yes. I'm omniscient.

Me: . . .Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has said "he would be guilty of treason" if he didn't fight to keep a monument of the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the state judicial building. Do you agree?

God: Yes. But since Ann Coulter branded everybody she doesn't like (Democrats, liberals, women, airport baggage screeners, all the kids who made fun of her girlish crush on Joe McCarthy, etc.) as traitors, treason is now cool and hip.

Me: Moore has also said that he needs to keep the monument in the rotunda "to fulfill the campaign promise that he made to the citizens of Alabama to restore the moral foundation of law." What do you think he means by this?

God: That he wants to do Law & Order, Old Testement-style. You know, stoning homosexuals. Stoning adulteresses. Stoning kids who sass their parents. Stuff like that.

Me: And do you agree with him on this?

God: Hell, no! I sent you people my son and licensed representative to give you Commandments Version 2.0, which has a root code of "Love thy neighbor as thyself." I don't see anybody putting a two-ton granite block of THAT in any state buildings!

Me: So, what do you think of Reverend Falwell's comparison of Moore "with slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who defied segregation laws in the white-dominated U.S. South in the 1950s and 1960s"?

God: Well, I hardly need Moore or Falwell to fight for MY desegregation. I AM omnipresent, you know.

Me: I think Falwell meant that it's okay to break "man's law when needed to preserve God's law."

God: I knew that. (Might I remind you of that omniscience thing?) I just thought it was a stupid analogy. And by the way, my law was never "Put a big granite monument of the Ten Commandments in a public place." My law was "Obey the damn commandments, and even more than that, love your enemies. Oh, and don't make a public spectacle of yourself by trumpeting your good deeds in the street or praying to be seen of men. And no worshipping of graven images!" But I guess it's my fault that I didn't package this stuff as "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Commandments."

Me: And what do you think of Alan Keyes urging of Moore's supporters to "take back America from the unruly courts"?

God: I think that Keyes and Moore should first work on taking back daytime television from those unruly court TV shows! They are annoying, irresponsible, and demeaning to all involved. Plus, they take up valuable air time that could be used for reruns of "Highway to Heaven" and "Touched by an Angel." And "Perry Mason"--I've always liked that one. Oh, and speaking of sedition, don't you think that what Keyes is advocating comes close?

Me: Um, I really couldn't comment--except that if being a traitor is now cool, I don't think Keyes is one. One last question: what do you think of Moore's vow to file a formal appeal with the high court “to defend our constitutional right to acknowledge God"?

God: Being omniscient and all, I'm pretty sure that the constitution doesn't say that one has the right to acknowledge ANYTHING by sneaking 5,300-pound slabs of granite into public buildings in the dead of night. Unless perhaps Moore is speaking of the "Pranksters, Hazers, and Practical Jokesters Constitution."  

As for acknowledging ME, I would prefer it if people would, you know, visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and keep themselves unspotted from the world. Sure, it's easier to lug around big rocks, but it's not really the way I want to be worshipped. The big chunk o' granite thing just makes me look stupid in front of my friends.

Me: I'll pass that along. Well, thanks for your time. And best of luck to you in your future endeavors.

God. Same to you. See you at the second coming. Um, wear something nonflammable! 

There you have it. I hope this ends this little contretemps, and we don't have to read anymore about it ever again. Because it only encourages Moore and rewards him for acting out, and we don't want that. Or the next time he's up for reelection he'll lug the Dome of the Rock into the court house parking lot and refuse to move it, even though it's in a handicapped space, as a way of showing his constituents that he's a moron.
And then a week or so later, s.z. very kindly tossed me the keys and let me take her blog for a spin:

Roy Moore Draws Support of Rock-Worshipping Cults
By World O'Crap Special Correspondent Scott C.

The recent debate over Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s monument to the Ten Commandments has exposed and to some degree exacerbated the tensions that exist between mainstream and fundamentalist Christianity. At the same time, however, the 5,300 pound cause celebre has also served to unite several previously hostile religious movements.

"Initially, church elders declined to take a position on this controversy," said Ronald Zietlow, Chief Mameluke of the Igneous Brotherhood. "We mistakenly believed that Chief Justice Moore and his followers worshipped an omniscient, omnipresent, but non-corporeal diety, and that the granite monument was merely symbolic. 

"Naturally, that sort of abstract cosmotheism doesn’t interest us, since we worship the sturdy and tangible Three Stones of Fintoozler. But once we heard the protesters screaming, 'Get your hands off our god, god-haters!' (Protesters React Angrily to Monument Removal ) we realized that the granite carving was in fact their diety. Naturally, we felt obliged to offer our support in the spirit of stone-worshipping ecumenism. Plus, we admired their forethought in placing a copyright notice on their god. Many’s the time I wish that the High Prophet had taken a moment to visit the Trademark Office, since we’re losing quite a bit of potential merchandising revenue at the Three Stones. Particularly sales of T-shirts and those foam drink sleeves."

This sentiment was echoed by Timothy DeLongpre, a deacon at Our Lady of Feldspar in Sterling, Virginia. "As a minority faith which reveres consecrated sandstone, we are firm believers in defending the right to practice one’s religion, free of interference by Federal bureaucrats. We are also staunch supporters of anything which strengthens the ecumenical bonds of friendship and respect among the world’s leading rock-worshipping cults, because, frankly, some of them practice human sacrifice and they scare the crap out of me." DeLongpre added that many in his congregation have admired the way Chief Justice Moore championed his faith by hiring workmen to sneak his god onto public property in the middle of the night, and the way he boldly secured a copyright on his own Maker. "In our own parish, the poor often go hungry because our product line has been diluted by the unlicensed theme mugs of third party heretics."

Father Rodolfo, pastor of the First Church of Mexican Wrestlers Who Worship Rock Men From the Moon has closely followed the contretemps in Alabama, and believes that whether Moore’s effort succeeds or fails, he will long be honored as a peacemaker.
"Ours is a very inclusive church," said the priest as he took a break from calling Bingo on a recent Wednesday night. "And we are saddened by all this factionalism: Shale versus gypsum, sedimentary versus metamorphic. These doctrinal squabbles threaten to overwhelm our faith and blind us to the one thing we should never lose sight of: that despite our different beliefs and customs, we are all children of a big rock."

Rawiri Gaia, priestess of Rapa Nui agrees. "I believe that Moore’s crusade can already be counted a success, for it has helped to heal the theological divisions within my own faith." She gestured eloquently toward a towering head carved from the native rock.

"For countless generations we have venerated these enormous graven images of Richard Kiel. Or possibly Ted Cassidy. That’s another doctrinal sore point. But the fact is, in recent years we’ve seen a graying of our congregations. We needed to modernize our services, do something to appeal to the younger set, so we began outfitting our monoliths with gigantic Devo hats from the ‘Whip It!’ video.

"Some of our more traditional members threatened a schism, but fortunately Judge Moore’s timely stand on behalf of boulder fetishists everywhere reminded us that when it comes to eternal salvation, it doesn’t really matter what accessories your god is wearing. Only that he was carved with loving care, and legally trademarked."

Not all devotees of stone deities welcome the attention brought by the Ten Commandments imbroglio. Dave Bradley of Appleton, Wisconsin, who worships marble ("I like a smooth god," he says) claims that all the publicity has brought "kooks and whackos" flooding to his faith.
 "None Dare Call It Necrophilia"

Still, whether Moore’s Take Your God to Work Day program is successful may prove less important in the end than the comfort and inspiration it has provided to hundreds of pagan Alabamians. "It’s like the Stonewall Riot," said protester Cyrus Fletcher of Mobile. "Except with a big rock. And fewer drag queens."
So there you have it.  On November 13, 2003, less than three months after World O' Crap published a series of whimsical japes on the Ten Commandments Controversy, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary voted unanimously to defrock Chief Justice Moore.  The connection is inescapable.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Friday Beast Blogging: The "Take the Long Way Home" Edition

Well I missed International Cat Day, but what the hell; that just means all the seasonal cards and catnip candies are half off. Anyway, I thought we'd take a look back at our two feline inmates:

Moondoggie -- 2007

Moondoggie 2017

Shadow - 2015

Shadow - 2017

Speaking of looking back...If you haven't consumed our latest multimedia offerings, please check them out and let us know what you think They're both short, but amusing; much like Nancy Walker.

Click here for a Better Living Through Bad Movies audio special: Exorcist II: The Heretic!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween (1978): Now, Improved By Polka!

You know how it goes on The Slumgullion. What started off as a respectful, even adulatory discussion of John Carpenter's music career turned into something weird -- as our conversations tend to do -- and before you know it, words were exchanged, a challenge was laid down, and now, well...

I had no choice. I had to do it...!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Horror Is Job One

We all know that the active cultures in yogurt can help keep you regular. But not every spoiled milk product has the bowel-blasting power of Activia. It's the same way with horror movies. Some get the job done, some leave you stranded on the porcelain, but in this year's Halloween special, Jeff and Scott identify two films that go do that voodoo that horror films are supposed to do. And they're not afraid to name names.

MUSIC NOTE: The opening theme is from the OST, not Anthology. Jeff regrets the error, because it was totally his fault, not Scott's.

A Very Heretic Halloween

Happy Halloween, guys!  What are your plans? We don't get Trick or Treaters in our neighborhood, which is evenly divided between young, heavily bearded hipster dudes, and middle-aged, heavily mustachioed Russian women, so I'll just be sitting around, drinking and watching a bad movie. Which is what I like to think Richard Burton would be doing if he wasn't quite so egregiously dead, except he'd probably be making a bad movie, so maybe the dead part's just as well. Speaking of which...

Open up your pillowcase! No, it's not a Fun Size Snickers, a razorblade-equipped apple, or a rock; this year we're giving out another preview from our upcoming book, Better Living Through Bad Movies II: The Sequelizer,  and it is -- appropriately -- one of the worst sequels ever made.

So please join us as John Szura and Blanche Ramirez go full Mercury Theater of the Air to bring you the spine-tingling horror that is Exorcist II: The Heretic, a film that ruthlessly kills priests, grasshoppers, and Linda Blair's career, and so desperately cries out for pain relief that you may actually get as drunk watching it as Richard Burton was while making it. Enjoy!

Click here to listen on Stitcher

Monday, October 30, 2017

Hannity Meets Jigsaw

My friend and podcasting partner Jeff Holland saw Jigsaw (don't judge, we all have dirty habits) and, as is his wont, texted me about it afterward:

I don't personally plan to see the movie (Jeff is like a Distant Early Warning system for crappy horror films), so I can't speak to its flaws or virtues with any authority or even vague familiarity. Fortunately, this is the Internet, so who gives a shit?

The problem with Jigsaw is likely the same problem that plagued the Saw franchise as a whole: it would be a better movie if it had better victims. Fortunately, while this country remains divided politically, it appears united in its desire to see one group of people padlocked into damp, rusty, Rube Goldberg death devices: TV pundits.

And it seems that Jigsaw has heard the vox populi and is already working on his next opus, at least judging from this photo lifted from a panicky right wing website:

The headline says "Victory is mine!", but Hannity's face tells another story, suggesting the Jigsaw Killer has placed a blood pressure cuff around his scrotum, and is slowly inflating it -- one squeeze of the bulb for every lie that pops out of Hannity's gob.

Already things are more suspenseful, right? Will Hannity relent and join the rest of Fox News in devoting his airtime to Google's criminally inept cheeseburger emoji...

The cheese goes on TOP, not UNDER the patty, you idiots! 

Or will he stick to his business model and projectile prevaricate until he's castrated like a sheep? I don't know, but I'm already popping up the Orville Redenbacher Sea Salt & Vinegar.

And unlike the other movies in the Saw franchise, you've actually got somebody to root for, since this scenario makes Jigsaw a much more sympathetic character.

You're welcome, Hollywood.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Happy Birthday to Scott

By Sheri

Today is a holiday at the blog, for it is the birthday of the "World" portion of "World o' Crap," the smartest, kindest, funniest, talentest, and Scottest person I know. So, let us all wish many happy returns to Scott! This image came up when I googled "Happy Birthday, Vintage Scott," and Google know what lurks in the hearts of men, so it must be applicable. Maybe you can tell us how.

Of course, no Wo'C birthday would be complete without some vintage refreshments. So, let's all partake of some birthday pie made from Jello pudding, debris from the vacuum cleaner bag, and some of those killer white blood cells from "Fantastic Voyage."

And don't forget the sexy birthday lizard, a tradition started when some folks objected to getting photos of Ann Coulter for their special days. So, here is a gecko who is not only way cuter and younger than Ann, but whose syndicated columns have replaced Ann's in many major markets.

So, in conclusion, Happy Birthday, Scott. You are not just a great writer, a fine human being, a fun guy to have around, a cat lover with a big heart who always roots for the underdog, and a friend, you are also friend to all children.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Replicants and Replicans

The latest Slumgullion has dropped, and on this episode, the New Movie Crew goes back to the future to see Blade Runner 2049, then forward, into the past to visit Blade Runner, then laterally, into an alternate dimension where The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner starred Marvel's daywalking vampire Blade!

Join us, won't you, and listen as Ryan...whatshisname...BabyGoose?...screws up a lot, while Harrison Ford spends 30 years fluttering around Vegas, abusing Endust!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Farewell, S.Z.'s Dad

Please join us in a moment of silence for Van H. Zollinger, a good man who, among his many other achievements, fathered one of the best people it's ever been my pleasure to know, the wonderful Sheri Zollinger:

Van Howard Zollinger, 86, passed away peacefully at his home in Providence, UT. He left behind his loving wife of 61 years, Helen Burton Zollinger. He is also survived by his sister Rosalind (Henry) Astle; his 6 children, 12 grandchildren and 1 great-grandson. He was preceded in death by his brother, Don Zollinger. 
Van and Helen are the parents of Sheri, Jeff (Merla), Linda (Randy) Larsen, Marc, Michelle (David) Walker, and Scott (Laurie). Van loved all of them, and was so happy that he got to spend time with them this year. He was especially glad that Jeff, Michelle, and Scott and his family traveled to see him during these last months. Linda and her husband Randy were always a support to Van and Helen. Van was very proud of his 12 grandchildren: Darci, Coltin (Amy), Jaden, Connor (who is currently serving an LDS mission in San Diego, CA), Robert, Jacob (who just returned from the Hawaii Honolulu mission), Matthew, David, Savannah, Dallin, McKay, and Tate, and great-grandson Ty.
Click here to read Van's obituary. Click here to send flowers.

Our very deepest sympathies to Sheri, who has helped so many people and pets through so many difficult times, and to her family. Crappers represent.

Veggie Tales Part II

By Hank Parmer

[Click here to read Part I: The Woman Eater!]

The Maneater of Hydra (1967) AKA Island of the Doomed (La Isla de la Muerte) and Bloodsuckers, is a Spanish-German co-production, a taste in Euro-horror that goes together like gazpacho and blutwurst! But there's a connection between this film and the above-mentioned ultra-low-budget Roger Corman genre parody (see Part I) that tickles my B-movie geek lobe: Seven years earlier, Maneater's director (Mel Welles, who also has the story credit and co-authored the screenplay) played the harried Yiddish-wisecracking florist "Gravis Mushnik" in the original Little Shop of Horrors.

This time, though, we're in for a far more conventional story, featuring another mad botanist. This one runs a bed-and-breakfast on an isolated island somewhere in the Mediterranean, and a gaggle of doltish tourists and their guide will serve as Maneater fodder.

They're the inaugural guests at Baron von Weser's world-renowned botanical gardens and creepy villa, which the baron has graciously opened to the public for the very first time. Their handsome young tour guide, Alfredo (Richard Valle), meets them at the dock with a snazzy 1930s-style Mercedes touring car. A ferry takes them over to the island, and the drive up to the villa gives the dialog a chance to batch-introduce everybody:

There are the young Americans, handsome David Moss (George "Not the Beatles Guy" Martin, born Francisco MartÌnez Celeiro) -- and lovely Beth Christiansen (Elisa Montes). Julius Demerist (Hermann Nehlsen) -- who bears a remarkable resemblance to "Dr. Eldon Tyrell" in Bladerunner -- is a professor of botany on sabbatical. For comic relief we have an abrasive widow from the Bronx, compulsive shutterbug Myrtle Callahan (Matilde Sampedro). Plus there's late-middle-aged millionaire businessman James Robinson, played by Rolf von Nauckhoff (Rolf von Namebrandt had another commitment that week) and last but most definitely not least, his bored trophy wife, Cora (Kai Fischer).

Cora clearly has the hots for Alfredo; she toys with him while sitting by his side in the front seat, in plain sight of her sourpuss sugar daddy. With a pair of binoculars, the Prof excitedly surveys what he describes as a "horticultural wonderland", as Myrtle takes snapshots right and left. David notices the island seems to be deserted, and questions Alfredo about it. As it turns out, the Baron and his retainers are the only inhabitants now -- the rest of the islanders fled, because of some silly old vampire scare.

Just before they arrive at the Baron's residence Alfredo hits a man who bursts out of the bushes and staggers in front of the car. The men pile out of the vehicle, while Mrs. Callahan ghoulishly snaps a couple of photos of the victim. Alfredo's terribly upset and blames himself, but David assures him there was no way he could have stopped in time. James, however, doesn't think it was the accident that killed the guy.

The deceased's pasty-gray face and neck are covered with what look like hickeys. That must have been one hell of a party.

As they're about to drag the corpse to the side of the road, the Baron (Cameron Mitchell) materializes out of the shrubbery and tells them not to worry themselves about it. The man was his cook; another servant will take care of the mess.

According to von Weser, the poor cook was suffering from an incurable disease, went nuts and ran screaming out of the villa. (His last words were something about the wallpaper.)

Cameron Mitchell of course needs no introduction to connoisseurs of schlock; like Coulouris, his career has seen far better days. But as often seems to happen with European productions of that era featuring B-list American actors, someone else dubbed Mitchell's voice for the English version. That can be disconcerting, but in this particular case it was clearly the better choice to use another actor. Because even though they've dressed him up like Emilio Largo and given him a pince-nez so his hands will have something to do, if you're trying to pass him off as an aristocratic European that ineradicable hint of El Paso twang in Cameron's own gravelly voice would have immediately spoiled the effect. Although you think with that character's surname they'd have employed some thespian with a bit more of a Teutonic affect, rather than this cultured and vaguely Italian accent.

After expressing the hope that his guests won't let this unhappy incident spoil their holiday mood, the Baron personally conducts them through his horticultural wonderland. There are orchids from all over the world. (We'll just have to take von Weser's word for that, though.) Demerist mentions all the carnivorous plants he spied on the drive up, which he finds puzzling since they usually thrive in nitrogen-poor soils, and yet this garden is so lush. The Baron quickly changes the subject -- his prized composting formula is not for the uninitiated! Demerist picks up a soil sample while the Baron's back is turned.

Entering the villa, von Weser informs his guests that the place is full of art treasures dating back to the 4th and 5th Centuries. So don't touch! And no pictures, he warns Mrs. Callahan. But otherwise, they're to make themselves at home.

Up in their room, the millionaire rags on his wife for behaving like a -- a prostitute! He warns Cora she's pushing him too far. Right on cue, Alfredo shows up with the couple's luggage; sullen James offers him a gratuity, which Alfredo politely declines. It's clear he has a another sort of compensation in mind, and Cora is all too obviously willing to supply it. James scowls.

That evening, everyone sits down for an elegant nosh with the Baron. Von Weser proudly informs them everything comes from his own garden, and oh, by the way, all the meals will be vegetarian. Meanwhile, please sample the cucumbers.

Which they do, with nearly identical "What a jerk!" expressions on their faces. This wasn't in the brochure.

Mrs. Callahan is amazed: "It tastes just like meat!"

Von Weser smugly explains he's been mucking about with forced mutations, and one of them just happened to end up tasting like beef. But, like its ill-fated cousin the beefalo, is the world ready for the beef-umber? Apparently James thinks so; he tries to interest the Baron in a little joint marketing venture, until his wife tells him to shut up.

Much consternation is caused by the appearance of Baldi, von Weser's mute manservant and identical twin to the cook with that terminal case of love bites. David's suspicions are aroused by Baldi's emotionless countenance: "He doesn't look like someone whose brother just died!"

"You rang?"

The Baron answers that Baldi knew of his brother's condition, so his death didn't come as a shock. Besides, if it comes right down to it, the guy could hardly be described as chipper. In fact, he looks and acts more like a golem that's been painfully afflicted with piles.

Von Weser suggests some unknown tropical disease was responsible for the cook's illness. (I'm assuming they began ordering take-out when those sores first appeared.)

Out in his luxurious quarters -- that is, the touring car, with the top up -- Alfredo's brewing some espresso (I have that very same Bialetti 6-cup model!) on a camping stove while he listens to music on the radio. Looks like they're in for another one of those frequent storms the Baron mentioned earlier.

Back in the villa, everyone's having coffee, too. Except for Cora, who's fairly lit by this point, and in rare form. The Baron's sparkling conversation about earthworms gives her an obvious opening to crush James' masculinity. When the talk turns to natural selection, she wobbles to her feet and sneers at their dull, wimpy book-larnin'. Cora promises she'll show them some real nature, and starts to shrug out of her evening gown.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Two Sides of Veggies

By Hank Parmer

Two Sides of Vegetables -- That Want to Eat You: The Woman Eater (1958) and The Man-Eater of Hydra (1967)

As my readers are probably all too aware by this point, I can be a bit ... well, obsessed with oddball film genres of the mid-20th Century.

And you can't get much more obscure than vegetable horror. I don't mean lobster-clawed pickles from outer space or "intellectual carrots" like The Thing from Another World or the occasional oversize carnivorous jungle plant with a sweet tooth for starlets. I'm talking straight-up horror films featuring murderous monster veggies. These make up a remarkably small share of Fifties and Sixties B-movie output, and none of them seem to be as well-known as parodies like Little Shop of Horrors and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

Although this essay's cinematic tag team might be utterly deserving of their obscurity, you must admit there's an appealing symmetry to this pairing: Think of them as the botanical equivalent of Jack Sprat and his wife, when it comes to anthropophagy. (To forestall any nit-pickers, though, I should mention that the Maneater isn't quite so selective about its meals, gender-wise.)

One possible explanation for the relative rarity of this horror sub-genre is that right off the bat, there's a big drawback inherent in casting a member of the plant kingdom as your principal nasty, namely, limited mobility. Unless it's a Triffid, if the monster wasn't foresighted enough to secure a very large planter and a Hoverround it tends to stay rooted in one location.

This presents the screenwriter with a dilemma: how to lure enough victims within its reach to justify a feature film's run time. Obviously, the trick is to give the thing a human accomplice. In the case of today's double-feature George Coulouris and Cameron Mitchell, respectively, will be our Judas Goats.

Coulouris is of course familiar to classic movie buffs as Charles Foster Kane's despised guardian and financial nemesis, the banker Walter Parks Thatcher. It's been quite a while, though, since his glory days with Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater. This role is clearly a data point well on the downward arc of the actor's career.

The Woman Eater kicks off with a brief establishing shot of the entrance to the famed Explorer's Club in London. Inside, Dr. Moran (George Coulouris) holds forth to his audience: Lewis Carling, and another guy who merely rates a credit as "Man in Club". The doctor has a map he obtained from a dying explorer, which Moran claims shows the way to a lost Inca tribe. And if that's not sufficient to pique his listeners' curiosity, these strange and mysterious natives are rumored to be able to revive the dead. Which is just like catnip to your budding mad scientist. So of course Moran is in a lather to go haring off to the backwaters of the Amazon.

He manages to interest Carling in his expedition; the doctor gives him an invite and hurries off to make final preparations for the trip. The Man in Club warns his friend that Moran is the end product of a long line of major loons, but Carling shrugs it off.

Some stock footage of an airliner, then a biplane -- they must have boarded a connecting flight in Hooterville -- then a quick detour to Africa via clips of crocs sliding down a riverbank and a tree full of camera-shy birds, and voila, the doctor and his companion are hacking their way through some rubber plants on a soundstage. Moran appears to be a bit under the weather, but he assures Carling he's had the "jungle fever" before -- and he won't let it get him down. (The randy little bugger!) They follow the sound of tom-toms and soon stumble upon a native ceremony in progress.

One remarkable aspect of this cheesy tableau is that casting was apparently unable to locate any extras who might, if you kinda-sorta squinted your eyes right, appear as if they were in fact descended from a lost Incan tribe -- or any other indigenous inhabitants of South America. Instead, the filmmaker decided to go with sub-Saharan African, plus a smattering of European brunettes in heavy body makeup.

A very fetching young woman (Marpessa Dawn, just before she got her big break playing Eurydice in Black Orpheus) is swaying dreamily to the pulsating rhythm of the drums. There's also a guy wearing an ostrich-feather headdress, leaping and prancing about, raising and lowering his arms while he grips a fairly large snake in each hand.

Pretty much your standard Grade-Z-movie voodoo, really -- except for that stump with the shaggy pelt and flapping claspers, plus a couple of puny pincers thrown in up top to balance the composition. It looks like an emotionally needy refugee from the creature-of-the-week stable for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

Carling senses something unpleasant is in the offing. He barges onto the scene, shouting "Stop it, you devils!" This untimely interruption earns him a spear through the chest. (Remember: There are no small parts.)

Dr. Moran wisely stays put and continues to surreptitiously observe the ceremony. As tonight's offering is led toward the plant, she suddenly has second thoughts about this hookup. But it's too late for that. The luckless sacrifice is seized by a couple of men and hustled toward the monstrous thing. Blackout.

Sometime afterwards, Dr. Moran, delirious and raving about the secret of Life, is rescued by another party of explorers.

England: "Five Years Later"

There's something peculiar going on in the dank, gloomy cellar of this country estate. Tanga the Drummer Boy whales on a couple of drums, while another young lovely has been enthralled by that irresistible beat. This gorgeous redhead seems mildly horrified ... and yet, aroused, as she stares past the camera at something.

Fully recovered now from his harrowing ordeal, Dr. Moran is up in his study, scribbling away. He pauses to consult a volume in his library, jots down a few more notes, then crosses to a curtained alcove. He unlocks a steel door that leads down to the cellar.

Where, in addition to Tanga and his date, there are also a bunch of test tubes, flasks and bubbling retorts. The Drummer Boy ramps up the tempo, then abruptly stops, stands up -- my, that silk diaper doesn't leave much to the imagination, does it? -- and slowly approaches the girl. Standing beside her, he puts his arm around her shoulders and gently but firmly urges her toward the camera.

"And let's see who our lucky bachelorette's picked for her Dream Date!"

After his near-fatal jaunt to the Amazon, has Dr. Moran found a more rewarding hobby, perhaps involving moving pictures tailored to the gents? But no, he must have brought a seed or a cutting back with him, because the doctor now has his very own woman-scarfing stump. And it really wants a hug. This should totally wow them at the Royal Horticultural Society's next shindig!

But once again, the stump's intended balks at the last moment. Tanga glances meaningfully at Dr. Moran. His boss gives him the nod and she's shoved into the creature's greedy clutches, while the Drummer Boy grins maniacally.

As this victim is being devoured off-camera, the doctor informs the audience he's only feeding her to the stump for the sake of Science: "She'll become part of the plant, and from it, I'll extract a serum that can bring the dead back to life. She won't have died in vain!"

Well, if he puts it that way ... I'm certain the lady would have found this a great comfort. But scientific breakthrough or no, if truth be told Moran looks as though he's manfully yet not altogether successfully suppressing a chubby.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Post-Friday Beast Blogging: The Camouflage Cat Edition

MOONDOGGIE: What? Oh, nothing...Just still depressed about Shadow's mysterious disappearance. One minute she was here, eating half the treats, the next she jumped up on the couch and then just...disappeared. I guess she fell into one of those Narnia furniture portal thingies. Sad, really...

SHADOW: I'm right here.

MOONDOGGIE:  I can almost hear her voice. Eerie. But I'm all right. Don't worry about me. My heart will go on.

SHADOW: He knows I'm sitting here, right? Hey! Moondoggie! Look over here--

MOONDOGGIE: Oh, I suppose we could look for her, but should we defy the dark forces that absorbed her? Probably not. Whatever the answer to this mystery may be, it's something cat was not meant to know.

MOONDOGGIE: Anyway, you should probably give me her treats, as a tribute to her. She would have wanted it that way.

SHADOW: (Sigh)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Happy Birthday, KWillow! I Got You a Gross Listicle!

Well, this one is late, but it's still officially the 18th for another fifteen minutes, so I'm hoping to get off on a technicality. Anyway, today is the natal anniversary of one of our favorite people -- the kind, witty, and cat-worthy KWillow -- and in her honor, I went where I usually fear to tread these days: the referrer logs which list the Google search strings bringing people to World O' Crap. Here are the Top Ten (Mostly Not Pornographic) ones...

1.)  images of cat dander: If TV was honest with us, this would probably be the climatic moment in any given police procedural. "There! Zoom in! Enhance...Enhance...Enhance!...Yep. Just as I thought...The cat did it."

2.) codpiece ballet: I'm sure you recognize this lovely melody as "A Stranger in Paradise". But did you know that the original theme is from "The Magic Dance Belt of Prince Igor" by Borodin?

3.) inflatable bat inflation: As Halloween approaches, we're all feeling the pinch at that pop-up stop in the former sprinkler fitting warehouse on the frontage road that runs along State Highway 31, as the prices for pneumatic pumpkins and blow-up bats has skyrocketed! Well phooey on that. I'm just gluing eight pipe cleaners to a plastic L'Eggs pantyhose egg and calling it a tarantula and a night.

4.) hitler campaign poster: Let's face it, Trump may get indicted or impeached before the next Presidential election (I mean don't get your hopes up, but it's possible). But the Republican National Committee is on the job, and is already focus-testing some very experienced candidates.

5.) it’s only rock and roll but i like it gay bear: This seems to be a trend, with Hanna Barbera stalwart Snagglepuss being rebooted by DC Comics as...well, I'll let them explain it:

"Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, written by Mark Russell with art by Mike Feenan, presents Snagglepuss as a gay Southern playwright in the style of Tennessee Williams.

"“Snagglepuss in this story is having to live a double life as a gay playwright living in New York, and he's closeted,” Russell explains. “But he has values and integrity as an artist, and he's trying to stand up for people who otherwise would be shoved under the stairs in this time of great national paranoia in the Red Scare mentality."

I know what you're thinking, but this is true. I learned it via Ivan of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, who, as Doghouse Riley used to say, is "the last honest man on the Internet".

So my theory is, Question #5 means that somebody is rebooting the William Friedkin film, Cruising, with Yogi Bear in the Al Pacino role.

6.) Arthur batanides nude: I thought about it. I really did. But for all our Just...No.

7. slim big ass: This is probably what Slim Goodbody calls himself in the mirror on days when he's feeling depressed and fat.

8. ruth buzzi nude pics: Stop it! Stop it STOP IT STOP IT!

9. gut bondage: Also known as "tied-up tripe" or BDSM - Bondage Discipline Sadism and Menudo. I mean Slim's gotta do something with his large intestine when he's not prancing around, singing about the trip your food takes on its way to your anus.

10. naked gold glamour wallpapers: I'll take "Things Liberace Would Pick From the Lowes Wallcovering Swatch Book" for 200, Alex.

Please join me in wishing KWillow a very happy birthday. And to make it official, here's a...

Sexy Birthday Lizard! Apparently delivering one of the Fifty Great Monologues For Young Actors.

Friday, October 13, 2017

This Flagboy's Life

As Told to Scott Clevenger

My name is Lachlan Henley. I'm 23 years old, and I grew up in the small community of Blanched, Connecticut. I'm not sure why they picked me to be principal Flagboy to His Serene Majesty Ryan Zinke, First of His Name, Rider of Jets, Breaker of Regulations, and Queen of All the Interiors. I mean, I wasn't in the Army or the Boy Scouts or anything, but I did work as a PA one summer during junior college on Martha Stewart's TV show, and  maybe that's why, because this job is all about etiquette and protocol and stuff. But more than's about honoring the flag. Specifically, the flag we had designed and made by AAA Custom Flag & Banner of Sepsis, Maryland...I think I'm supposed to mention their name, 'cause we got a discount.

You see, raising His Majesty's Own Standard over a building to show Queen Zinke is in residence...Well, I mean, that's an ancient military ritual -- so ancient nobody in the military's actually heard of it -- so it's kind of boring. I can say that, right? C'mon, you've seen military guys when a flag goes up or down; they just stand there like they're all playing freeze tag while somebody blows a sad song on a trumpet or a French horn or whatever the hell it is. Bor. RING.

But the Queen has a sense of style. He likes to zoom off in private jets to exclusive destinations like the Virgin Islands -- not when they're all soggy and gross after a hurricane, but like, when the weather's nice and there's a lot of European tourists, 'cause sometimes they take their tops off! It's true! Me and my friends Liam and Ethan and Blake went to St. Croix for Spring Break one year, and we all felt like we were the mayor of Nip City!

So I guess when you think about, I do have some government experience after all [laughs]!

More than most of the Cabinet, anyway. [Laughter dies. Smile is slowly replaced by a pensive and foreboding look as he stares across the Interior Department parapet toward the Potomac]

Anyway, so it's a solemn ritual that proves His Majesty's commitment to transparency by showing you what building he's in. Most of the other cabinet secretaries, you gotta file a Freedom of Information Act request to find out if they're in their office or not, but I haul down the flag when Queen Zinke leaves the office, and raise it over the Starbucks on E Street NW whenever he takes his motorcade for a macchiato. So really, people should be thanking me, instead of being such dicks, 'cause now they know which Starbucks to get their coffee at if they want to be in the radiant presence of the Queen of All the Interiors, or at least rub elbows with a guy who's seen areolas in the Caribbean.

When you get past all the glitz and the ritual and the bullshit, this job is about solemnity. First, I put on white gloves. Then I unfold the flag (refolding it's a bitch, but I took Elective Origami at Phillips Academy when I got cut from the Lacrosse team). Then I turn on my Bose SoundLink Revolve+ Bluetooth speaker, and play "God Save the Queen" as the motorcade approaches the building. But you gotta be constantly thinking in this job, 'cause the first time I hit the wrong playlist on my iPhone and accidentally blasted the Sex Pistols' version.

It's an awesome and humbling responsibility, but as I look back I realize how much I've grown as a person these past few months, and how much I've learned (like, always bring sun screen to work, 'cause you never know when you're gonna wind up standing on the roof). In some ways this has been the hardest job I've ever had, but like I told my friends last week when we were doing shots at the Caliente Cab Company in Arlington (it was Thirsty Thursday), I know that ultimately I'll miss it when I have to leave next week to take up my new position as National Security Advisor.