Friday, July 13, 2018

Gosar the Gosarian

"By the way I'm a dentist. I read body language very, very well. And I can tell you're lying, Agent Strzok, because now I'm reading your MIND, using Dental Telepathy...!"

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Happy National Kitten Day!

Well, even though they're no longer kittens, and certainly no Brett Kavanaugh, I would like to formally nominate the cats for Supreme Kitty of the United States!

Moondoggie 2007

Shadow 2015


Your National Kitten Council recommends you snuggle kittens at least three times a day.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Ninjas and Kaiju and Samurai, Oh My!

By Hank Parmer

The Magic Serpent (1966)

After slogging through so many cinematic train wrecks for you guys, I've decided it's time for a bit of a change. The Magic Serpent differs from my typical review fare because for once, this is a film I like. Mostly because it never pretends to be anything other than a gloriously bonkers mashup of kaiju and samurai flick, with a generous side of sorcerous shenanigans.

If you were a fan of MST3K in its early years, you're already well acquainted with how downright loopy Japanese giant monster films can be, from such choice selections as Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster -- i.e. an enormous lobster -- and Godzilla vs. Megalon -- that is, a cockroach the size of a skyscraper, unleashed upon an unsuspecting world by the secret undersea kingdom of Seatopia.

But what really drove the point home was the deep dive Joel and the 'Bots took into the entire first Gamera series. For example, there's nothing like the sight of a five thousand ton, rocket-powered flying turtle doing a gymnastic routine on the five-kiloton-turtle-sized horizontal bar -- which brain-eating alien hotties have thoughtfully installed in their city beforehand -- to make the Western viewer conclude that the Land of the Rising Sun's approach to fantasy can be ... well, different.

The Magic Serpent (a.k.a. Kairyu Daikessen: "Mystic Dragons' Great Decisive Battle") debuted over a decade after the Big G. emerged from Tokyo Bay, in that somber, almost documentary-style first entry in the Toho series. (If you've never seen the original film, instead of the Americanized release starring Raymond Burr, you really should check it out sometime. I was lucky enough to catch it on the big screen in its 50th anniversary re-issue, and I have to tell you I was floored by how much better the original was than that staple of mid-20th-Century afternoon and late night TV.)

By the mid-Sixties, Toho Studios had accumulated quite the stable of giant monsters. Beginning with his second movie, Godzilla Raids Again, Gojira was joined by the likes of Anguirus, Rodan, Varan, Manda, Mothra and (my favorite) Ghidorah the Three-Headed Space Monster a.k.a. Monster Zero. So it was only natural other studios would be eager to get their own piece of that sweet kaiju action. Unlike the Gamera series, though, most of these were imitative one-offs like Monster from a Prehistoric Planet; Gappa, the Triphibian Monster; and the superbly screwy The X from Outer Space.

Sooner or later, given the popularity of both giant monster films and the even more ubiquitous samurai epics, someone was bound to try out kaiju in a medieval Japanese setting. And in fact, 1966 was also the year Daiei, the same outfit who gave us Gamera, kicked off its Daimajin series, starring a huge stone idol that comes to life in the last act and saves his oppressed worshipers by squishing the bad guys like bugs. (Think of it as a Japanese version of the Golem.)

The Magic Serpent, on the other hand, is a Toei concoction. The name may not ring a bell, but these are the people who had previously brought us such immortal classics as Prince of Space and Invasion of the Neptune Men, and, in the near future, would partner with MGM to produce that legendarily cheesy alien infestation flick, The Green Slime.

This was Toei's first color film, though sadly, my copy is badly faded. It was also their second picture in a widescreen format. Unfortunately, this print is the American International TV version. And forget about pan-and-scan: They simply cropped the edges, so often you'll see only a sliver of a character who ought to be in the scene.

Yet even in this washed-out and mutilated version, it's obvious Toei decided to pull out all the stops.

They certainly don't waste any time getting down to business, as a gaggle of ninjas poke their heads over a wall and immediately launch a night attack on a castle sited on a high bluff overlooking a lake. Using enough pyrotechnics to satisfy even Big Jim McBob and Billy Sol Hurok, castle guards are blowed up real good and slaughtered right and left by the ninjas.

Lord Ogata and his wife are awakened by the commotion. When his chief vassal, Yuki Daijo, appears, the daimyo demands to know what's going on. Yuki tells Ogata he's been betrayed by someone close to him. Real close. Like, standing in front of him right now.

Ogata lunges for his sword, but before he can draw it from its scabbard, he's slit up a treat by his treacherous servant. His wife tries to run for help, but she's impaled through the shoji by Yuki's ally, wicked sorcerer Orochi-Maru.

There's still one prospective victim unaccounted for, though: Lord Ogata's son, Ikazuchi-Maru. (Since I don't want to take up the space required to explain what's up with that "Maru" suffix, I encourage any reader who has some time on their hands and a yen for philological trivia to look it up. What's important is this doesn't mean he's related to the bad guy.)

While the castle burns behind them, some loyal retainers spirit the young boy to safety in a boat. Ikazuchi-Maru thinks the conflagration makes the castle look pretty, all lit up like a lantern. Which is a line that -- assuming the dubbing is a more or less accurate translation -- is actually both poignant and believable, coming from a child his age.

Pretty much your standard set-up for a dispossessed-heir-seeks-revenge adventure, right? It seems as if they're in the clear, but the lake begins to bubble and seethe. Up pops a very large and very traditional-looking oriental dragon, who is in fact our naughty wizard. ("Orochi-Maru" can be translated as "demon serpent".)

"Help me, Rocky! I seem to be a sea serpent!"

The fearsome beast overturns their boat, drowning everyone except Ikazuchi-Maru. Orochi-Maru the were-dragon is poised to finish the job, as the boy clings desperately to the bottom of the overturned skiff. Then a huge eagle appears.

It swoops down and nicks the dragon on the forehead. I know cuts to the head tend to bleed freely, but in this case the red stuff positively sprays. This critter really ought to have his blood pressure checked.

The bird rescues the child -- at least, let's hope that's what it has in mind -- and wings away with Ikazuchi-Maru dangling from its claws.

"I hope you don't mind if I make another stop at Mt. Doom ..."

Fast forward fourteen years. Fortunately, Ikazuchi-Maru wasn't eaten, but has instead grown into a strapping young lad. Out for his daily jog down the precipitous side of a ravine, with no warning at all, throwing knives come at him from out of nowhere. He narrowly avoids them, but then he staggers and topples back out of sight behind a low rise. Flames shoot up from behind the hillock -- so the guy was highly flammable?

A white-haired, luxuriantly bearded elder flies down from the top of the ravine and peers into the blaze. But not so fast: Tricky Ikazuchi-Maru sneaks up behind the geezer and puts one of those throwing knives to his throat.

The wizard, Dojin Hiki, is pleased: He congratulates Ikazuchi-Maru on finishing his training. Now, declares the Master, the boy is ready to go out into the world and make a name for himself. Dojin Hiki surprises the graduate, though, when he mentions he had another student. But this one went to the Dark Side. (He never visits, he doesn't call or write -- not even a postcard!) His mentor refuses to sully his lips with the nogoodnik's name.

Ikazuchi-Maru bounds off to the forest to gather some herbs for their farewell dinner. After he departs, the Master suddenly whirls around and chucks his staff at the cliff face. It buries half its length in the (dirt? really soft rock?) for a moment, then returns to the wizard's hand. After a dramatic pause, the spot where his staff struck the cliff crumbles away; a ninja emerges -- but keels right over.

The Master grumbles that lately these guys are getting to be real pests. And you know what they say: For every one you see ...

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Papa Don't Preach

By Bill S.

It's once again Father's Day, that time when fondly remember our dad, if we're lucky enough to have fond memories of our dad. We can take comfort in knowing they're nothing like these guys--


Modesto Cunanan (Jon Jon Briones) on "American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace" Who could possibly be more creepy and gross than spree killer Andrew Cunanan? Only his father, who, according to this series, played a big role in molding Andrew into the monster he became.

Kevin MacArthur (Stephen Rannazzisi) and Andre Nowzick (Paul Scheer) on "The League".

The MacArthurs are both terrible parents-for instance, they send their kids to Sunday as "free day care". Jenny made last month's list of terrible TV moms, and Kevin makes our list of terrible dads for, among other things, inviting the kid who's been taunting his daughter with bullying insults over the house. Not to resolve the bullying problem, but to learn some choice insults he can use on his friends.

As for Andre, sometimes, a picture's worth a thousand words...

He doesn't become a father until the final season, when he begins dating Pete's ex-wife. They have a baby, Andre Jr. (or, as Andre insists on calling him,"The Deuce"). It becomes obvious to everyone (except Andre), that Pete is actually the biological father, and when (in a "flash-forward" sequence) Junior learns the truth on his 18th birthday, he reacts the way any kid would to the news that Andre's not his dad: overjoyed, he flees the house immediately.


J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) in All the Money In the World (2017). 

When his grandson is kidnapped, Getty is reluctant to pay the ransom, because, he says, he doesn't want to set a precedent that could lead to more kidnappings. Which might be true, but it seems a more likely reason is that he's a miserly, penny-pinching bastard. When his daughter-in-law, desperate to raise the money, tries to sell a gift he'd given her (which he told her was a valuable antique) she discovers it's virtually worthless. 

Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford) in Get Out (2017) 

His wife Missy made last month's list of terrible moms, and Dean makes this month's list of bad fathers. If his efforts to welcome his daughter's black boyfriend into the home seems forced and insincere, it's probably because mad scientists aren't known for their social skills.

Max (Edward Herrmann) in The Lost Boys (1987) 

Father to a brood of rowdy (if hunky) teen vampires, Max courts single mom Lucy Emerson, hoping to merge the families to create, in the words of Edgar Frog, "The Blood Sucking Brady Bunch'. Which, now that I think about it, would actually have been awesome.

Finally, to sing us out, here's Malcolm Gets, as Gordo in "A New Brain", recalling a tale of his terrible dad:

Happy Father's Day Everyone!

(For more examples of terrible movie and TV fathers, check out my previous columns! 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

No! Trump Walked Right Into Kim's Trap!

I'll admit, I didn't closely follow the recent U.S./North Korean summit (although it lasted only a few hours, so I'm not sure they actually reached the "summit"; it seems more like they got to the mountain, looked up at the cloud-wreathed peak, and Trump said "screw it" and just bought one of those "I Went to the Summit and All I Got Was This Lousy Denuclearization Agreement" from the gift shop). I did see where the President[sic] unilaterally surrendered our right to conduct military exercises with South Korea, which seems like a stupid and dangerous concession to make, until you read the fine print and realize that in exchange he got in on the ground floor of the Pyongyang Secrets®, The People's Most Luxurious All-Inclusive, Adults Only, Clothing Optional Beach Resort.

Still, with force readiness degraded and our allies fuming, it seems like we're getting closer to the postbellum nightmare of 2012's Red Dawn, which saw Chinese invaders morphing, Power Rangers-style, into North Koreans, and then ruthlessly despoiling our supply of both domestic and imported hunks.

And since I'm stuck at the Portland, Oregon airport right now, it seems the perfect time to dip into the archives and exhume this old chestnut. Enjoy!

Our aim at World O' Crap has always been entertainment, not education, and yet -- as humanity seems to teeter on the edge of a precipice -- it is useful to recall that George Bernard Shaw believed great art not only could, but indeed must, be didactic. Which brings me to Red Dawn. Not, not that one, the other one. 
When Sheri and I wrote Better Living Through Bad Movies, we climaxed the whole thing with a chapter on Red Dawn, that 1984 paean to Reagan-era priapism, in which an armada of Russians, Cubans, and Nicaraguans subdue the United States.  The vaunted U.S. military proves useless, undoubtedly due to budget cuts, leaving the task of repulsing the invaders to a rag-tag band of American teenagers. But even they are woefully ill-equipped, and for much of the movie can only respond to Russian artillery fire with nocturnal emissions.
When it came time to release the audiobook version, we added some bonus features, including a review of the 2012 remake of Red Dawn, because it operated from an even more ludicrous premise:  that the United States gets bullied and geo-politically pants'd by North Korea.
I don't know, it seemed hilarious last year. But since satire has now become current events, we better prepare by taking this peek at Kim Jong-un's battle plan.
First, however, a bit of background:
In 2009 MGM remade Red Dawn, replacing Patrick Swayze with Chris Hemsworth, and the defunct Soviet Union with the People’s Republic of China. But the studio had financial problems, and then a change of heart about offending the world’s second largest market for movies, so the picture sat on the shelf for three years. Eventually they used dubbing and digital effects to change the villain, and now instead of China, the United States gets invaded and conquered by…North Korea. Which has an interesting effect on the narrative; I mean Red Dawn has always been a David and Goliath story, but in this version, we’re the guy who gets hit in the head with a rock.
Red Dawn (2012)
Director by Dan Bradley
Written by Carl Ellsworth and Jeremy Passmore, based on the 1984 screenplay by John Milius and Kevin Reynolds

Global tensions are high; the American military is deployed to hot spots all over the world, leaving the homeland undefended; and North Korean is threatening to destroy our entire country. Granted, that feels a bit like getting the hem of your Wranglers gnawed on by a teacup Chihuahua, but as various panicky cable news anchors remind us, North Korea is the fourth largest army in the world, behind the Peoples Liberation Army of China, the U.S. Army, the KISS Army, and Armie Hammer.

We're watching a high school football game in Spokane, where Chris Hemsworth, a marine on leave from Iraq, has come to watch his brother, Josh Peck, lead the Wolverines to defeat. Later, Chris goes to a bar, where he gets hit on by Adrianne Palicki (from – oddly enough – Friday Night Lights) whose idea of a saucy pick-up line is to remind Chris that he used to babysit her, and that he has a dead mom. And while we can’t see his crotch in this shot, Chris’s eyes tell us that with her clumsy attempt at flirtation, Adrianne has just committed an act of premeditated bonercide.

There's a blackout, and everybody goes home. The next day, Chris and Josh awaken to see the sky filled with computer generated North Koreans. They jump in their Dodge truck and run into a bunch of stuff, until they literally run into their Dad, who's a cop. He repeatedly orders them to "get to the cabin!", which I like to think is the movie's subtle way of telling us, "if you have to see a Chris Hemsworth film, why don't you go watch Cabin in the Woods instead?" 

You know what? I think the movie’s right. What do you say we turn this crap off right now and head for Redbox. Who's with me?!

No one?  Fine...

You know, sometimes I think you people want me to suffer.

Josh insists they pick up his hot blonde girlfriend, but when they get to her house they find the Korean invaders are rounding up all the cheerleaders. So they drive off in a screaming panic, in the process collecting a convoy of soon-to-be-recognizable actors (that other Josh from Hunger Games), already forgotten legacy-celebrities (Connor Cruise, adopted son of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman), a trigger-happy, argumentative dick named Pete who -- I'm calling it now -- will betray our heroes to the North Koreans before long; plus Adrianne, some male models for cannon fodder, and a pretty Latina named Julie, because even though it's wartime there are still labor laws, and somebody will eventually have to spell Adrianne on the vagina shift.

The next day, Chris and Josh go look at the town while their voices – dubbed in post production when the studio decided they couldn’t make the bad guys Chinese -- assure us the thought of North Korea conquering the west coast is crazy! But so crazy it just might work! Then they go back to the cabin and find that Pete has stolen all their breakfast cereal and betrayed them to the Koreans. Even worse, our designated villain, Captain Cho, has captured Connor Cruise's dad, the mayor, and Chris and Josh's dad, the cop. The mayor takes a bullhorn and tries to lure the boys out of the woods, but Cop Dad, who's playing the Harry Dean Stanton role, points at Cho and commands the boys to "go to war with this piece for shit!"

Cho looks at one of his soldiers with an expression that seems to say, "Did this bitch really just call me a piece of shit?"  The soldier gives him a nod that says "you know it, girlfriend", and Cho pulls his pistol and recreates that famous photo of the Saigon police chief shooting a Vietcong in the head. So I guess it takes being invaded by North Koreans to make North Americans empathize with the North Vietnamese.

The next day, Chris's truck is bogged down in a creek bed. All the characters get out and push, but the wheels just spin uselessly in the mud, which is a pretty good visual metaphor for the plot. Since nobody's going anywhere they decide to kill time with an argument. Hunger Games wants to go home to his parents until Adrianne says, Oh. Hey. I forgot to tell you, they're dead. Chris gives a speech about how they're going to fight and become fleas; and while they may only be larvae now, if they work hard they will soon pupate and become parasites who will make the big dog that is North Korea feel itchy. Which is all well and good, but I kind of liked it in the first film when they cried "Wolverines!", and I'm not sure it'll have the same effect when they thrust their AR-15s skyward and shout "Fleas!"

Ready for a training montage? Wait, there's more: ready for the World's Dullest Training Montage? Okay then, let's join the Fleas as they take shorthand, learn to parallel park, and roll around in leaf mold. After thirty-four seconds of boot camp, they start ambushing Korean soldiers and stealing their lunch money. But Hunger Games pukes while corpse-robbing, so Chris and Josh make him shoot a deer and drink its blood, because when remaking even a stupid movie, filmmakers should try to honor its legacy and its fans by including the stupidest part. But they do update the moment for a modern audience, because this time the sacred act of communion between hunter and prey turns out to be a frat-style prank. I'm surprised they didn't hand him a Sharpie and make him draw a dick on the dead deer's forehead.

The Fleas go on the offensive, bombing the Koreans with explosive skateboards and commandeering sliced turkey from Subway. But Josh can't stop lurking around Cheerleader Concentration Camp to peep on his imprisoned girlfriend. Chris tells him he’s endangering the Fleas, but Josh has an idea for how to end the war, and it’s a plan that does the impossible: it’s vague and incredibly complicated at the same time.

But the Fleas seem to know what they're doing, and what they're doing is failing, because in the middle of it Josh spots his girlfriend and runs off to save her. The one Latino flea doesn’t get any lines but he does get killed, and Chris sustains a wound that requires him to take off his shirt and get stitched up without anesthetic, because he got his Patrick Swayze movies mixed up and thought he was in a remake of ROAD HOUSE.

Girlfriend tells them a Russian spetznaz unit has been brought in to handle the Fleas, because that's what happened in the first movie. Then a North Korean general arrives to shout at Captain Cho, but because the characters were originally Chinese and the dialogue has been dubbed into Korean, everyone is subtitled and still out of sync. It may be the best thing in the movie, and after the General storms out, Cho and his aide exchange fraught looks that seem to say, "Did you understand a word he just said?" "No, I don't even understand what I’m saying."

Three Marines show up, led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who's pulled the Power Boothe shift, and explains the plot: the North Koreans destroyed our electrical grid and communications with an EMP, which allowed them to conquer the entire West Coast, because our morale plummeted without access to Internet porn and Pokemon Go. But Captain Cho keeps a radio-telephone in a suitcase, and if the Fleas can steal it, they’ll win the war. Which seems stupid, but I assume everyone agreed to the rules before they started, so whatever.

They sneak into the Police Department, steal the radio, and Chris shoots Cho in the face. They go back to the hideout to celebrate, but the Koreans interrupt Miller Time by shooting Chris in the back. Seeing his brother's brains spattered all over the six pack changes Josh, and he immediately turns into the greatest guerrilla general since Ho Chi Minh. He leads the Fleas to safety in a Country Squire station wagon, then goes on a grand tour of occupied America, making speeches and recruiting Scabies, Crotch Crabs, Deer Ticks -- a whole army of patriotic parasites. The End.

So what is this version of Red Dawn trying to tell us? Well, we think it offers an important lesson about bullying. Suppose a classmate was intimidating your child on the playground. You could complain to the school, give your kid a few self-defense pointers, or do what we’d do and show them Red Dawn, which demonstrates that while anyone can be bullied, anyone can also be a bully.

Even America, the world’s richest nation, can be successfully beaten up by one of the world’s poorest. So the moral of the story is, if you see a poor person, punch them hard, then run away. And by teaching this lesson to children, it also teaches us, as adults, that it’s probably a good thing we don’t have children.

Additionally, Red Dawn illustrates the rule that casting a hunky but unknown Australian in your movie won’t help get it released; but if you let him ripen on the shelf for three years, he’ll turn into Thor. Or he’ll get black and squishy like an avocado, in which case you should just put your film in a Cuisinart and make guacamole (serves 6 to 8 persons, bores 10 to 12).

Perhaps the biggest difference between the Red Dawns is that the 1984 film was very concerned about guns, and the temperature of the hands that held them. But that’s a quaint artifact from a less heavily armed period in America’s history, when sweet old granny’s still kept cut-glass dishes full of ribbon candy on their coffee tables instead of bowls of bullets. 

In the 2012 Red Dawn, guns are abundant, but patriots freak the hell out because the North Koreans turned off their wifi. And unlike Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen, who spent much of their movie hijacking ammo and AK-47s and fighting a guerilla war against the Soviets, Chris and the Fleas lay down their lives to get the one working electronic device that will finally allow them to check in on Grindr.

This reflects an important change not only in social values, but military tactics, and if this trend continues, the next war will dispense with tanks, aircraft, and infantry, and be fought virtually, and by proxy. So start training up those Pokémon now.

For me, though, the main lesson we can take from the Red Dawn remake is that Yes, It Can Happen Here. If Kim Jong-un precedes his invasion by knocking out Twitter, Trump will be effectively muzzled, unable to communicate with his generals, or tweet excuses to his followers about how this whole invasion thing is the Democrats fault, and have you tried the chocolate cake?

So get used to being run by Poppin Fresh with a flattop, America.
(Sure, he may kill you, but if you press his belly, he giggles!)

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Episode 48! Babylon 5! Deadpool 2! Solo 1...and Done

Jeff and Scott have come not to praise Deadpool 2 but to...Well, actually to praise it, but they get distracted by the release of Babylon 5 on Amazon Prime (which sounds like we're stuck in yet another stupid Star Trek timeline), and the Shakespeare in the Park production of Pirates of Penzance, starring Kevin Kline, Linda Rondstadt, and Rex Smith as Street Hawk!

Then it's on to the mean streets of Corellia (A Quinn Martin Production) for Solo: A Star Wars Story:

Saturday, May 26, 2018

'Wisk Gets Out Ring-Around-The-White-Collar-Crime!

[Stolen from Sheri's Facebook page]:

My recap of the commericals I just watched.

Uber: "Hi, I'm the chairman of Uber. You might have heard that we suck, and we used to suck, but my Dad always taught me not to suck, so now we won't. Give us money."

Facebook: "We used to be about ranking college coeds. And then we were about keeping in touch with friends and other people you like. And then we were about trying to one-up people you tolerate. Then came the click-bait, the fake news, us selling your data to people who used it to influence elections, and us becoming a plague on all humanity. But since we got caught, we are working on returning Facebook back to its true purpose: ranking college coeds."

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Post-Friday Beast Blogging: The Dynamic Duo Edition

MOONDOGGIE: I'll save you! Old...chum...!

SHADOW: He's dreaming he's Batman again.

MOONDOGGIE: If I could only...reach my...utility belt...!

SHADOW: I keep hoping I'll show up in his dream as Catwoman, but since he obviously thinks he's the '66 Batman, all that sexual tension probably wouldn't go anywhere. Sigh.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Slumgullion #47: HELP! (Not The Beatles One)

The boss is out of town, it's the end of the world, and we've gone CRAZY! Jeff has returned from the Upside-Down with eerie, unearthly powers of hypocrisy! Scott is being pants'd by his TV! The New Movie Crew has that monkeypox from Outbreak! And Thanos has gotten ahold of the Nintendo Power Glove, and he's bedazzling the crap out of it!

Join us, won't you?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day!

By Bill S.

It's Mother's Day, and if you're lucky enough to have a mom you love, don't hesitate to tell her today, and every day.

And be grateful you didn't get saddled any of these moms...

Worst TV Moms

Bonnie Plunkett (Allison Janney) on "Mom" Made Edina Monsoon look like Donna Stone.
"Kids need their space. Take it from me."
"Is that why I never saw you my entire sophomore year?"

Jenny MacArthur (Kate Aselton) on "The League". 

On a show in which everyone cursed enough to make a sailor blush, she had the foulest mouth of anyone, a habit her daughter picked up. But maybe the worst of her (many) transgressions was faking breast cancer to get out of a bake sale...without letting her daughter in on the ruse.

Bev Harris (Estelle Parsons) on "Roseanne" In the series' original run, she was an overbearing, crazy old lady. Now in the reboot, she's older and crazier, much like the show's star.


Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener) in Get Out (2017). She's such a gracious hostess, inviting her daughter's boyfriends to share a cup of tea...

Halley (Bria Vinaite) in The Florida Project (2017). Hey, it's not like she turned tricks in front of her daughter -- she sent the kid into the bathroom.
LaVona Golden (Allison Janney) in I, Tonya (2017). 

Sheesh, and you thought Mama Rose was a pushy stage mother. As far as we know, Rose never made June continue performing after she peed herself.

(For more examples of terrible movie and TV motherhood, be sure to check out my previous Mother's Day columns: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Days of Pant Past

Hollywood Boulevard at Whitley, 1986

Occasionally I like to look back at my neighborhood, to the days when Fashion was a price. Not at a "discount", oh no, but for a price, and that price was a human life. It's just as well the the joint next door was called "Reflections", because it behooved the prospective shopper to pause and consider: Would you kill for a fashionable pant? Granted, it was the Reagan Administration, and human life was cheap, nevertheless, what profit a man to gain the latest Pant, and lose his immortal soul? But that was the Boulevard in the mid-80s, when many a wide-eyed innocent breezed into the Pant Station, only to emerge a different person. A person who has not only bought a spectacularly fashionable Stretch-Stirrup or Parachute Pant, but has also faced the fact that -- like John Huston in Chinatown -- at the right time and the right place, they're capable of anything.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Post-Friday Beast Blogging: The "Do You MIND?" Edition

SHADOW: Please go away, we're having Spoon Time. And if you don't mind, I've been waiting allllll week for this.

MOONDOGGIE: Is this a bad time? Should we maybe spoon later...?


Monday, April 16, 2018

Beast Blogging: The "Moondoggie's Drag Race" Edition

Moondoggie found a plastic shopping bag, and as a lifelong West Hollywood (adjacent) resident, decided to get Glam with it:
MOONDOGGIE: Shadow! Shadow! Who am I?

SHADOW: The light of my life, the fire of my loins--

MOONDOGGIE: Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant's Woman! Get it?

SHADOW: Hey, cool! Let me in there, I'll do Jeremy Irons...

MOONDOGGIE: No! This is my drag show!

Then -- predictably -- it all went to hell:

MOONDOGGIE: Damn the Glam! Why can't I resist it?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Join the Prune Party!

I've been scrambling to meet a deadline, so I missed Keith's birthday last week, but that's no reason we can't make it up to him now with a bacchanal of prunes! Yes, prunes...The desiccated, rectum-relaxing, mummified corpse of a plum, recognized the world over as the Birthday Fruit! Biting into one will magically transport you to those first screaming, slimy, bloody moments of life, when you were yanked from a maternal orifice or incision and slapped by a rubber-clad hand as fair warning of what to expect from the next three score and ten years of life, just as Proust, lying in his bed in a cork-lined room was suddenly transported through lost time by the taste and fragrance of a madeleine, with the minor difference that Proust didn't immediately have to call for a bedpan.

This plump, meaty fruit "cooks up" fast.
Del Monte: it's the meth of dried fruits!
Stuff cooked Del Monte prunes with cottage cheese, nuts, sliced celery.
No need to shit your pants like Ted Nugent. Behavior like this is more than enough to excuse you from the draft (but if not, the prunes are an essential ingredient of the Nugent Method).
Easy eating--
Which is why they spoon it into Grandpa's slack jaw at the nursing home every day!
--Because Del Monte's "Natural Flavor" process protects both flavor and delicate fruit tissues while it "plumps" the prunes with moist, sterile heat.
People laud George R.R. Martin's gift for writing vivid, sensual descriptions of food, but if you ask me he's met his match in the copywriter who penned this ode to soggy, sterilized prune tissue.

But we come here not to praise prunes, or even to eat the nasty bastards, but to wish a Happy Birthday to Keith, who's both a contributor to the blog and a longtime member of the Crapper community. So when I say I searched high and low, far and wide, to find just the perfect Sexy Birthday Lizard, well...check out this reptilian diva:
"It's time to lip-sync for your life!"

Okay, not actually a lizard -- it's an endangered Mary River Turtle -- but it's just so fabulous I had to bend the rules this once.

We leave you know with this Classic Slice of Hollywood Cheesecake, silent film heartthrob Ramon Navarro, working out nude on the rowing machine, like you do, in preparation for his star-making role in the 1925 Ben-Hur.
Happy birthday, Keith!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Post-Friday Beast Blogging: The "Earworm Game" Edition

Since Facebook users are now shying away from those once ubiquitous games and quizzes ("What Bugaloo Are You?" or "Answer 10 Questions and We'll Guess Your Favorite War Atrocity!"), I thought we could fill the gap with a fun little recreational activity that won't scrape the contents of your wallet, address book, and whatever compromising bits of personal history you divulged to the Scientologists during that Free Personality Test you took on Hollywood Boulevard because you were hot and tired from walking and that folding chair next to the E-Meter looked so very enticing...


Based on what you know about these two, what song was each cat involuntarily singing in their head when they were surprised by the photographer?



Leave your informed or fanciful guesses in the comments.  We'll get things started...

Scott: You can tell by Moondoggie's stricken expression that at the moment the paparazzi caught up with him, he had "Billy, Don't Be a Hero" stuck in his head.

Mary: Judging by Shadow's expression -- moody, distant, melancholy, yet with a touch of Gallic fatalism -- I'm going to guess "Seasons in the Sun". The super lame Terry Jacks version.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Easter Fools Day!

Mary was planning to make an elaborate meal to celebrate the day, but a short while ago she suffered a mild flare-up of her trigeminal neuralgia. I urged her to put on one of her herbal "Muscle Melt" patches, but she was reluctant, since the supply is dwindling. It went a little something like this...

ME: You don't want to be suffering from jaw pain on a feast day.

Mary considers this, then nods and peels a patch from its foil envelope. Suddenly, as is my wont, I suffer a moment of crippling self-doubt:

ME: Is Easter a feast day?  The Feast of Easter?

Mary absently nods as she fiddles with the packaging.


Mary ignores me and focuses on applying the herbal patch to her face.

ME: That sounds more like one of the monsters in Dennis Muren's 1970 stop-motion horror movie Equinox.

Mary ignores me.

ME: Also known as Equinox...A Journey into the Supernatural.

Mary really ignores me.

ME: Which, what with the dead rising from the grave and all, is actually a pretty good description of Easter.

Mary visibly gives up on me and any hope that this conversation with improve, which is actually a pretty subtle and complex piece of pantomime, yet her meaning comes through with amazing clarity.

Happy Feaster everyone!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Happy Birthday, MaryC!

By Wo'C's Special Birthday Correspondent, Bill S.

It's time once again to wish a Happy Birthday to our own MaryC, and of course, try to select that perfect gift. As always, let's look through our favorite catalogues. let's see what we can find among the THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW EXISTED!

Perfect for announcing visitors or scaring critters out of your yard...any time of day! Place this wicked canine in a spot where it can receive direct sunlight, and it will howl for 11 seconds any time it detects movement with its built-in sensor.

They determined that 11 seconds is the exact length of time you can endure that noise before you wind up kicking it across the yard when it goes off as you're getting the mail. Personally, I'd prefer a replica of the blues singer.

BOOBIES FISHING LURE SET--Guaranteed To Land The Big One! (2 sets for $14)
Even fish like a big rack!
These Double D's are certain to coerce even the most shy fish to take a nibble!

Except for rainbow trout, which, for some reason, seem somehow less susceptible.

JELLY BELLY BEER-FLAVORED BEANS IN A TIN ( $10.98; 2 sets for $17)
Pop the top, and enjoy the authentic taste of a freshly-poured brew! SET OF TWO contains 5 sample bags (total 3.5 oz) of alcohol-free beer-flavored jelly beans.

$17 for jelly beans, and you won't even get a buzz? Moving on...

Let's check out what CAROL WRIGHT GIFTS has to offer
Great Gift Ideas and As Seen on TV Products. Carol Wright Gifts is the world’s 1 source for great Gift Ideas and As Seen on TV Products since 1972.

F-I-T-T-E-D TABLECLOTHS (as low as $6.99)
These wipe-clean tablecloths are elasticized for a smooth, snug, no-slide fit.

And they're perfect for people who aren't getting enough exasperation from trying to fold fitted sheets.

BRING SONGBIRDS TO YOUR BACK YARD (only $5--why pay $7.98)
Brighten your yard with this sunflower! Use as a bird bath or feeder...

...or, if you have cats, as a serving dish.

WARMING FOR HER/COOLING FOR HIM (Why pay $14.95? Ours only $7.99)
Enhance your arousal and intensify your sensitivity with these powerful lubricants. A cooling sensation for him helps improve his erection for maximum satisfaction while a warming sensation for her increases sensual stimulation for greater fulfillment. Simply apply a small to your intimate areas and massage gently for an erotic experience that will have you quivering with desire in no time.

As long as you don't get the bottles mixed up.

POCKET HOSE-The Hose That Grows!(As low as $12.99)
Super-Light, Super-Small, Expands When Water Is Turned On...

Well, I guess if that warming lubricant fails, this thing will do.

POP CHEF-Turn Snacks into Works of Art (only $10.99)
Simply attach one of the six included shape cutters, push into your favorite food and squeeze the bulb to pop out perfect shapes every time.

But...what if your favorite food is pudding? Well, it may not work on every food, but it seems useful if you get invited to a party where you're expected to bring something but don't feel like doing any actual cooking. So it looks like just the right gift!

Happy Birthday, MaryC!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Post-Friday Beast Blogging

Shadow's Journal, Day 5: I attempted to reach the summit of Mt. Mission Chair by negotiating the treacherous Couchback Traverse, but fell into a crevasse, and for all my struggles, I continue to slip deeper and ever deeper toward oblivion. I have but one request: Please cover my final resting place with Temptations brand Shrimpy Shrimp and Tantalizing Turkey Flavor Cat Treats, in the hopes that Moondoggie will eat his way down to me.

MOONDOGGIE: Huh? What day is it? Wha--SUNDAY? But I left a wake-up call for Tuesday!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

It's Tentacular!

I spent most of 1977 waiting for things to die.  Disco. Wide collar Qiana shirts (but I repeat myself). Matching (or worse, contrasting) plaid sofa 'n' curtain sets. Jaws rip-offs. But as history shows, all those trends still had a few years of life left in them, and instead, Elvis died.

It wasn't a great year for me, is what I'm saying.

But if you weren't me, if you were, to take a random example, a washed-up, aging American actor or a tow-headed, talent-free moppet, then times were good. Because no matter what else may have cratered in your life, chances were good that somewhere there was an Italian in tinted aviator glasses and hip-hugger double-knit slacks willing to point a movie camera at you.

Tentacles (1977)
Directed by Ovidio G. Assonitis (as Oliver Hellman)
Written by Jerome Max & Tito Carpi & Steven W. Carabatsos

The movie opens on a palisade overlooking the beach in La Jolla, one of the most scenic spots in Southern California. After giving us a brief glimpse of its natural splendor, the director cuts inside a grungy taxi cab, where the main credits roll over a long close-up of a radio speaker as the dispatcher squawks out street names and addresses. This seems like an odd way to start a monster movie, but maybe it’s clever foreshadowing, and we’ll later find out that one of these apartments is where the giant octopus lives.

A badly dubbed Italian actress gets a vacation to the Greater San Diego area, but pays for it when her baby is abducted from its stroller by a Point of View shot.  Then the director decides his movie has a foot fetish. A salty old sea captain wearing clamdiggers wanders around on deck while we enjoy his naked ankles. It’s implied that he’s grabbed by the monster and skeletonized, but we don’t have time to show that because there’s more feet coming, as John Huston’s shoes take a long walk to Claude Akin’s face. Claude’s the local Sheriff, John’s the local newspaperman, who offers his opinion that “We’re in for a nightmare!” (So while you and I may feel we have good grounds for a class action suit against this movie, the filmmakers were unfortunately smart enough to add a disclaimer.)

John stays up all night, searching through books for the answer to these mysterious disappearances. He doesn’t find it, because they’re cookbooks, but if they ever do catch the giant octopus, the authorities can look forward to a zesty Polpi in Umido that’ll make you want to kiss your fingers.

John’s sister is Shelly Winters, a loving, caring, slatternly drunk who regales him with tales of her latest one-night stand while chugging her first Bloody Mary of the day. There’s also a mop-headed tween boy in the house who’s too young to be either John’s son or Shelly’s; I assume he’s a member of the Partridge Family who fell off the bus and nobody’s noticed yet.

Cut to Henry Fonda’s house, where he’s reaming out the Mayor from Animal House about John’s newspaper article, which implies Henry’s underwater construction company might have kidnapped a baby and stolen all the meat off a man in capris pants. Henry appears both angry and confused by John’s insinuations, and though he doesn’t come right out and say it, you also get the feeling he’s deeply uneasy about the caliber of roles he’s being offered these days.

A doctor shows Claude x-rays of the sailor’s body, and says “even the marrow has been sucked dry”, except he pronounces it “morrow”. But the soundtrack is kind of muddy, so maybe he’s actually saying “even Vic Morrow has been sucked dry”, which I hope is true because it's a better way to go than being decapitated on the set of a crappy John Landis movie. We're told the missing baby was also reduced to bones, but we don't discover if the monster spat it out, or if its tiny skeleton was collected from a stool sample.

John decides to recruit the world’s foremost marine authority, Bo Hopkins, who we find at Sea World, telling the trainers to get tough with their killer whales.  Bo would like to search for the sea monster, but four months ago he had a tragic diving accident (he got water in his ear, or something) and now he’s only qualified to yell at people for mollycoddling Shamu. Instead, he sends two of his best and most expendable divers. A harpsichord riff predicts they’re going to die.

The divers find that Henry Fonda’s high tech underwater tunneling equipment (so advanced, we’re told, that “Buck Rogers couldn’t have dreamed of it!”) has been vandalized and stripped for parts. The police suspect a sub-aquatic street gang (possibly the Jets, but probably the Sharks), but before anybody can break into a Jerome Robbins water ballet, a giant octopus squirts ink into the camera lens and murders the divers off screen so we can’t prove it in court. Nevertheless, the harpsichord wins five bucks.

Meanwhile, Shelly has gone into town wearing a comically oversized sombrero like Speedy Gonzales. We discover the Partridge Family tween is Shelly’s son, Tommy, and despite the constant string of gruesome deaths at sea, she wants to enter him and his friend, Cousin Oliver, in a sailboat race. (Pardon me for getting sentimental, but it's amazing how much Shelly’s character reminds me of my mother. Although to be fair, Mom’s sombreros were more reasonably proportioned, and very few of her plots to kill me required an entrance fee.)

Bo decides to get revenge for his two deboned employees and checks into the La Jolla Holiday Inn with his superhot Italian trophy wife, who played Athena in the Lou Ferrigno Hercules.  Meanwhile, Shelly is shoveling ice cream into her face in a desperate attempt to appease the monstrous sombrero, which appears to be some kind of alien symbiote, like Spider-Man’s black costume.  Even better, Partridge Family Boy and Cousin Oliver are obsessing about the sailboat race, raising the tantalizing hope they’ll get skeletonized before they can break into a chorus of “It’s a Sunshine Day” or “Together (Havin’ a Ball)”. Instead, Shelly (or the alien sombrero controlling her) frets about how frequently Cousin Oliver has to urinate, while Partridge Family Boy affectionately calls his mother a fat whore.

Hey, want to see Bo and a sidekick take snapshots while they cruise around in a two-man submersible craft they bought at a Thunderball garage sale? No? Well, I don’t think that’s really your decision, it’s the filmmakers, and they haven’t steered us wrong yet, have they? I mean, they did give us a monster that makes all the meat fall off a baby, and where else can you find that? Okay, maybe a Chile’s franchise on All You Can Eat Babyback Rib Night, but it’s still pretty rare.

Anyway, hang with this sequence, I’m begging you, because it becomes hilarious when the divers find a dozen large fish doing headstands on the ocean floor. That’s not a metaphor, by the way, these are literal fish with their tails up, balancing on their noses, like we’ve wandered into an all-mackerel hot yoga class.

Meanwhile, some Italians are cruising around the Channel Islands in a yacht while pretending to be Americans, but their boat has broken down, and so have their accents. The big fat guy jumps in the water, and we cut to the giant octopus's eyes popping open as we hear that “Dramatic Prairie Dog” music. This is like ringing the dinner bell for sea monsters, and the fat fake American tries to save himself by pretending to be Mexican.

Fake American #1 shouts, “Shark’s gonna kill ya!” and if this were a better movie, perhaps it would. Alas, Fat Fake Mexican is killed by poorly matched footage of an octopus filched from a National Geographic TV special.

Back on the broken-down boat, Sherry Buchanan, who was born in Biloxi but worked exclusively in Italian films and is dubbed by the same woman playing all the other female parts, making her an American pretending to be an Italian pretending to be an American, sees the fat guy’s feet sticking straight up out of the water (apparently he’s joined the sub-aquatic yoga class) and screams. This attracts the octopus footage, which tears apart her boat.

Cut to Bo, who suddenly figures out that the unseen monster is a giant octopus. How? Does he use forensic evidence, or deductive reasoning? No, he employs the Think System, just like Robert Preston in The Music Man.

“Are you thinking about sharks?” The Sidekick asks, for no good reason.

“No,” Bo replies. “I’m thinking…Giant octopus.”

So there you go. If your movie features a mysterious killer creature, but you don’t want to go to all the trouble of figuring out the clues, just have one of your characters think of the solution! It works equally well for cryptids and cornet-playing.

Now let’s watch Bo’s wife Athena pose in the prow of a yacht as it heads out to sea. Nothing happens, but the shot goes on so long you keep expecting her to break into “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl.

Later that night, Athena and two new Italians find the wreck of the earlier Italians’ cabin cruiser, but before they can do anything about it, Athena’s boat turns into a toy and sinks.

Athena survives and clings to the first wreck, but almost immediately gets sexually harassed to death by some Hentai tentacle porn.

Time for the Death Beach Annual Child Endangerment Regatta!

Shelly sees the two brats off to their doom, then we cut to Bo and John and Claude sitting around a classroom somewhere. John tries to sell the premise of the movie by saying, “I’ve read that the suckers on a tentacle are like the claws of a tiger.” Bo one-ups him by taking a Harold Pinter-sized pause before answering, more in sorrow than in anger, “Compared to suckers on a tentacle, claws are nothing…Nothing.”

John learns that Shelly has entered the local sitcom kids into a boat race, and declares the “giant squid” must be destroyed. He asks Bo, “Can you do it?”

Bo winds up for another big pause, then says, “I only got one thought on my mind…Just one.”


Meanwhile, the monster massacres the boating children. This is symbolized by shots of young actors in life jackets staring open-mouthed at the camera while a prop octopus head gets towed behind a speedboat, making it seem like the creature wants to water ski, but can’t quite keep his tips up.

Some kids live and are picked up by the Coast Guard, including Partridge Family Boy, but apparently he was out there long enough that he had to eat Cousin Oliver to survive.

Bo tows a huge yellow tank into the ocean. It contains his two pet killer whales, which he’s going to use to hunt down the octopus like a couple of coon hounds. He delivers a long speech celebrating all the “love” and “affection” in their hearts, but the tank sinks and the orcas leave him, proving just how intelligent this species is. If we were half as smart, we'd all have stripped to our skivvies and be clinging to a fin right now.

Having accidentally freed the Willys, Bo and Sidekick are forced to dive into the ocean with spearguns, where they spend the next two minutes getting startled by marine life making weird sound effects, in what feels like a Candid Camera episode directed by Ivan Tors. (Sidekick is frightened by a grouper operating what sounds like a staple gun, while Bo pees himself when he’s pranked by a manta ray with a snare kit).

The octopus buries Bo under an avalanche of coral and proceeds to taunt him, but the Orcas arrive in the nick of time like the 7th Calvary, then everybody turns into a puppet and things get confusing. The killer whales play tug of war with the monster while the Red Army Choir starts singing the Soviet national anthem out of nowhere. It's an odd needle drop for the end of a monster movie, and I can only assume the octopus ate he composer.

Sidekick rescues the hapless, buried Bo and gets him to the surface, making me wish I’d learned his name, because apparently he’s the hero of the film. Meanwhile the orca puppets dismember the octopus puppet, severely reducing its collectible value. So while this film wasn't terribly original, I give it points for trying: in most monster movies, the monster dies, only to reappear a couple years later in a sequel. In this Tentacles, the monster died, then reappeared in the same film as an appetizer platter from Red Lobster.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Damian Maffei (The Strangers: Prey at Night)

The new Slumgullion has dropped. In this episode, Scott and Jeff sit down for a conversation with Damian Maffei, the "Man in the Mask" from the new horror film The Strangers: Prey at Night (check local listings for a theater near you).

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Happy Birthday Bill S! & The Minx!

I've been really remiss in the birthday department lately, but that's only because I've been remiss in every department of life; and while some friends caution me against spreading my laziness and incompetence too thin, I'm having a good day and feel like I still have more to give! Or withhold! Whatever.

Anyway, today's a Twi-Night Doubleheader, with Corsican Twins Bill S. (Wo'C contributor and He Who Must Be Referred To For The Next 24 Hours as Bill S! under penalty of law) and The Minx!

And okay, yeah, when we phrase it that way it does sound less like a birthday party and more like an action-packed comic book issue about a superpowered heroine dropping in on an unusually exciting Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and getting in a fistfight with a super villain near the coffee urn. But what if I said there was cake? Hmmm...? And what if I lied, and really just meant there's dessert? And what if I stretched the definition of "dessert" to the point where we all just collapse on the ground and start eating grass like a dog trying desperately to cope with intestinal worms? Because that's the World O' Crap Birthday Way?

Let's begin, shall we?

There were a lot of disgusting crypto-desserts on Pinterest, but I went with this one because Elsie the Borden Cow is something of an unofficial Wo'C mascot, having made her debut in s.z.'s very first post, way back in Ought Three. And since I can't cook, I figured it was safest to go with a "no cook", "no bake" recipe. Plus, it's "thrifty," and who doesn't enjoy that on their special day? Why, I've lost track of the times I've come home after a hard day at my imaginary office, smacked my lips meditatively and announced, "Mmm! I'm in the mood for something thrifty!"

So as the ad says "Why not try this salad today?" Well, there's literally a million reasons, but I'll just go with #45091: "If your aim is to poison a Russian refugee you're better off just putting a nerve agent in his tea, because he's gonna see this shit from a mile away."

Still, I'm pretty sure I can pull this off, because my Grandma actually used to make a version of it for Thanksgiving, except she suspended the cottage cheese in the lime Jello, rather than having it erupt out of the interior like so many maggots, and there was no tuna, because I guess she never really got over the Depression.

Okay, let's see...Package of lime gelatin...Yeah, that'll taste like crap, but at least it'll toughen up our toenails. Hot water...vinegar...salt...Mm, tastes like dessert already. Tub o' cottage cheese...Mayonnaise... Chopped celery...Y'know, this is more complicated than I thought. I need some volunteers from the audience -- someone chop the onions, someone thinly slice the radishes, and someone drain and flake the tuna, okay? Just think of it as an Amish barn raising, except afterwards we'll eat the barn and it'll taste disgusting.

Wait, there's a problem...My store doesn't carry Borden's. Damn! And despite that tone of blasé assurance at the bottom of the add, I don't have my own Borden's Man. Do any of you have your own Borden's Man? And if you do, will you unchain the poor bastard and let him out of the basement to help me?

No? Fine. Okay, change of plans, let's just tune into Borden's TV shows, "The People's Choice" and "Fury."  I can't seem to find them on my cable guide, but I'm sure Ivan can explain what the hell they're about. (By the way, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear has moved, so please adjust your bookmarks accordingly.)

Okay, instead of the Cottage Cheese Tuna Salad, how about we all just wish The Minx and Bill S! a very happy birthday, and we'll call it even.

But first, the traditional Sexy Birthday Lizard!

And because The Minx is also the human companion of Famous Internet Cat ZoeLuna, there's a bonus damp cat in the pic. Enjoy!