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 sakes...no. 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 that...it'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.

Late To The Party

Well, between my exile to Alabama and a ton of work that piled up in the meantime, and certain ch-ch-ch-changes in Jeff's life, The Slumgullion is way off schedule. Waaaaaaaaay off.

But good news:

Episode 38 is here! Or as we like to think of it, 38 Special!

Okay, we'll stop thinking of it that way.

Current events have sent a tender and bruised Jeff scurrying for his safe space - talk radio. Meanwhile, Ike returns to face off against Mother!, while the remains of a Revolutionary War soldier musically whines about how long it's taking his own mom to come collect his corpse.

Then it's spies, housewifely drug lords, and implied buttsecks with the composer of The Lion King, as the New Movie Crew gathers at Golden Corral to watch Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

[Click here to subscribe on iTunes]

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Happy Birthday Annti! Enjoy These Slightly Irregular Homosexuals!

I am neck-deep in swamp water and only wearing hip waders, so I hope you'll pardon me for postponing the party a few days. However, there's a classic Bill S. review from 2011 that I think would be the perfect way to celebrate the day. So please sit back and enjoy some gay that you can't pray away, no matter how hard you try...

Just Call Him Angel of the Morons
By Our "Goes Where Angels Fear to Tread" Correspondent, Bill S.

As we all know, October 11 is the birthday of Anntichrist S. Coulter. Additionally, it's the birthday of the beautiful and talented Matt Bomer, who in the parallel universe where my life is perfect, is my husband.

But October 11 is also National Coming Out Day, and I'd like to mark the occasion (which, unlike Columbus Day, isn't a national holiday) with a look at a movie aimed at LGBT youth.  In their book Better Living Through Bad Movies, Scott and s.z. failed to include such an entry -- a forgivable oversight, since there are only so many bad movies a human being should be expected to endure. Fortunately, I'm here to pick up the cause. Every movie genre gets the Manos: the Hands of Fate it deserves, and I do believe I've found it: a 2007 gem titled An Angel Named Billy.

One of the comments posted at YouTube reads, "omg i used to work with that guy at jamba juice!" The commenter doesn't specify which guy, or when they supposedly worked together. It could be anybody in the cast, and as recently as a month ago. But I'd rather not focus on the batch of virtual unknowns who populate this movie, except to note that the actor playing the titular role was, according to the IMDb, born in December of 1987, which means he was over 18 when this was made. At least I hope so; who knows how long it was sitting on a shelf before it saw a release date?

Instead, I think most of the credit for this movie should go to one George Osborne, who wrote, directed, and co-produced it. Mr. Osborne's artistry and insight into human nature take him where Todd Haynes and Gus Van Sant would never go -- on a fast track to total obscurity. At least I hope so.

Before I dive into the plot synopsis, I must confess I only watched this once before mailing it back to NetFlix. While I'm 99% sure I'm recalling it right, there does exist a possibility I've misremembered the order of some scenes. I offer my apologies for any errors, and I offer my sympathies to anyone who saw it enough times to spot an error.

This is the story of Billy, a teenager living in an unamed rural area. We know it's rural from the presence of cowboy hats and bales of hay. Billy's mother left the family years earlier, and he's being raised by his dad, who's a religious fanatic, an alcoholic, and an abusive asshole. We know these things because he sits at the kitchen table poring over a Bible, slugging down one Scotch after another, and screaming at Billy's younger brother Zack, who looks like a scared rabbit everytime the camera is on him.
Billy has one close friend, Rick, who we rightly, and incorrectly assume will be a major character, since he's featured prominently on the video box, but only has one scene with him. Rick may be moving away. Before he does, he wants to reveal his True Feelings for Billy, and one blissful sunny day, they share a kiss. Billy is dumbfounded (not just now, but frequently.) It never occurred to him Rick might be gay; it seems to have never occured to him that he might gay himself. This moment of clarity, and budding romance, are both disrupted by the appearance of Billy's dad, who's been spying on the boys, and comes lumbering down a hill like a drunken water buffalo, screaming homophobic epithets. He catches up to Billy and drags him back home to berate him in a more appropriately private setting. Seething with rage, he snarls, "Fer all ah know, yew might alriddy have AAAAIDS!!!"

He orders Billy to leave, and the young man trudges over to a nearby closet, grabs a tiny bookbag, and heads for the door. Zack appears in the stairwell and pleads with him not to leave, but Billy shakes his head mounfully and exits. We rightly, and incorrectly, assume the brothers will try to remain in contact, but for the rest of the picture Billy seems to completely forget about Zack, or maybe the director does. As Billy walks down a long, desolate stretch of road, a car stops, and Billy gets in to journey to places unknown.

A scared, broke, homeless teenager is traveling the state by hopping into strange cars, and this seems like a good time for the director to cut away from him to introduce us to some of the other characters. Thomas, a bald, aging drag queen, is seated at his vanity table, dabbing on makeup and talking to himself, announcing each action before he does it. This is the most depressing, humorless drag queen in movie history ("Priscilla, Queen of the Desolate"), and as this scene played on (and on and on and on), it marked the first of many times during the film that I began to wonder if it might be some kind of stealth project by an anti-gay wingnut. Who else would have such trouble coming up with a decent drag queen name?

Thomas gets a call from his straight friend Mark, who he appears to have a crush on. His slurred speech suggests Mark is recovering from a stroke; his dialogue however, suggests a far more severe form of brain damage. Mark has an adult son named James, who lives in an apartment next door to Mark's house. James is a gay photographer in his late thirties. Thomas and Mark are concerned that James is lonely; they'd like to see him settle down with Mr. Right. Mark has even started looking at websites for gay singles, hoping to find his son a date. Which isn't creepy and disturbing at all, at least not to the director.

Before Mark can sign his son up with Manhunt.com, tragedy strikes: late one evening, James is awakened by a noise next door. Sensing it's a medical emergency, he LEAPS OUT OF BED URGENTLY...dutifully hunts for his bathrobe and carefully puts it on, then...RACES TO HIS FATHER'S SIDE. He realizes it's another stroke and dials 911, sobbing hysterically. This second stroke leaves Mark confined to a wheelchair. It becomes clear to James that his dad will require round-the-clock assistance from a qualified health care proffessional, or failing that, the assistance of the first person he can find who can work cheaply and move in immediately.

Billy arrives at Donna's Cafe. At least, I think it's supposed to be a cafe; it looks more like someone set up a bunch of patio furniture on their lawn and hung a sign out. He befriends the waiter, Guy, a spiky-haired twink who has a laid-back attitude about everything, including the fact that Billy can't pay for anything. He helpfully directs Billy to a bulletin board where there might be want ads posted, and offers to let him crash at his apartment until he can find a place of his own. He then introduces Billy to his boss, Donna, a self-proclaimed "fag hag", who Guy says is helpful to many a young gay newbie, offering protection.

Billy asks, "Protection? From what?" Guy replies, "From them!" pointing at a pair of leering old queens who look like they were bussed in from the '70's. We rightly, and incorrectly assume Donna will be an important figure in Billy's life, but she disappears after this one scene, which is just as well since she's super annoying.

Billy finds the want ad placed by James, and tears off the phone number, then he and Guy retire to Guy's apartment. We are treated to a tour of the place that showcases the director's keen eye. For instance, when Guy a opens the door to the bathroom and lists the available items for use, the camera then cuts to a closeup of the bathroom, revealing all those items, to prove Guy was telling the truth.   (The moral of the story so far: man-pimpin' your offspring leads to cerebral blood clots, and never trust a stranger who picks you up in a diner and takes you home unless you can verify the location of his Listermint and bunion pads.)

The two young men strip to their boxers and climb into bed. We rightly and incorrectly expect them to hook up, but they shut the light, turn away from each other and go to sleep. The director was more interested in showing their pecs than showing any aspect of their relationship.

Billy arrives at Mark and James' place, and James offers him a glass of water, which Billy eagerly accepts (yes, this conversation occurs.) He meets Mark, and the old man hits it off quite nicely with the teen, so he's hired right away. I guess puppy dog eyes and a sweetly blank-faced grin qualify someone to care for an elderly stroke victim. But he soon proves his job skills, taking Mark to the park to do wheelies in his chair. Mark declares Billy is "an angel". Uh, okay. James also begins to take a shine to Billy. His father notes, "I haven't seen such a spark in you in a long time." Perhaps it's the way James looks at Billy: namely, the way he peers into the kid's bedroom as he sleeps, clad only in his boxers. Which isn't creepy and disturbing at all, at least not to the director.

Billy asks James to show him the studio where James does his photography. The studio is a sparsely furnished space with no lighting equipment or darkroom, only a single camera set up on a tripod. We rightly and incorrectly assume this may lead to some kind of erotically charged scene, but they barely look at each other. Billy does however take note of some pictures on the wall, depicting a rather uninteresting-looking middle aged man. James identifies the man as his ex-boyfriend, Todd, who was a drug addict. The two walk back to the main house, and James asks Billy if he'd like to join him later for margaritas. Which isn't creepy and disturbing at all, at least not to the director.

Billy has written to his Aunt Sharon, telling her about his new home and job. She relays this news to his mother's place of work, where the note is intercepted by a Sassy Black Woman whose eyes look like they're about to bug out of her head. S.B.W. delivers the note to Billy's mom. We rightly and incorrectly hope we'll get some insight into why she deserted her family and didn't retain custody of her sons, but this leaves us more baffled than we already were.

Billy takes up the offer to share margaritas, and they have an intimate chat, which goes like this:

BILLY: So, if Todd was your boyfriend, does this mean...you like...guys?

JAMES: Yes, I do.

BILLY: Are you still in love with Todd? Do you ever think of getting back with him?

JAMES: No, I'm not still in love with him, and I don't want to get back with him.

BILLY: Then why do you keep his picture up on the wall?

JAMES: It hides a messy stain that's lying there.

Okay, I added those last two lines, but the rest is almost word for word what they say to each other. Billy gets an invitation from Guy to go out to a club. He asks James if he'd like to come along. James declines, saying his days of hitting clubs are over. (Yeah, from the looks of him, he hasn't set foot in one since Falco was big.)

Billy gets a call from his mother. We rightly and incorrectly expect him to be furious with her for deserting him and his brother and leaving them with an abusive drunk. But as we've already seen, the boy's as sharp as a bag of wet hair, so he's happy to talk about his new job, and the two "cool guys" who've taken him in. (Yes, this conversation occurs.) Mark beams, "I'm cool!" and adds, "Chickenpot, chickenpot, chickenpot piiiiiee!!!"

The evening at the club, which happens off-screen due to obvious budget constraints, doesn't go over well. Billy returns in tears, telling James that Guy's friends teased him and called him a "nerd" for having a job caring for an old man. WHAT THE FUCK?

Seriously...what the fuck?

James puts his arms around Billy, and assures him there's no shame in the job he has. They share a kiss, and head into the bedroom. We rightly and incorrectly expect a romantic love scene, but instead they lie on the bed, fully clothed, about a foot apart, and the scene fades to the next morning.

Mark has been waiting up all night, and as James shuffles into the kitchen looking disheveled, his father cheerfully notes that he's aware of what happened. He also observes, "You were pretty loud", and proceeds to make heavy breathing sex noises. Which isn't creepy and disturbing, at least not to the director. Billy then enters, equally disheveled, and Mark repeats the observation, because the first time wasn't gross enough.

Now that he knows his son has found True Love with a teenaged runaway, Mark is content that he can die happily. He calls up Thomas to discuss his will. Why, is Thomas a cross-dressing lawyer? And if he is, why didn't they make that movie instead of this one? ("Priscilla, Queen of the Default Judgment.")

With less than 20 minutes left to go in the film, a new complication arrives: Todd wants to get back together with James, and figures the best way to do it is to break into his house. But James catches him and insists he never wants to get back together. He then adds, "I've found somebody else. He's younger, cuter, and less likely to give me hepatitis." (Well, he would have said that, if I'd written the script.) He kicks Todd to the curb.

Mark finally kicks the bucket, once again reducing James to a puddle of tears. Billy's mother arrives. She tell him she's known all along her son was gay ("a mother knows these things."). She then rather matter-of-factly tells Billy his father died in an auto accident, his brother is staying with his Aunt temporarily, and she plans on moving to be closer to him. Billy reacts with a blankness that suggests nobody on the set has the slightest clue how a person would react to such news.

It's time to wrap things up, so we get a montage of the characters as Billy tells us what happens in voiceover:

His mother and Thomas start a computer dating service for gay singles (who better to play matchmaker than an insecure drag queen and a deadbeat mom?), Billy and James get married (we see them in a limo with the words "Just Married" on the back window) and Guy "surprised us all" by moving back to Billy's old hometown, where he inherited a house he now shares with Rick.

Um, okay then.

We rightly and correctly assume there have been porno films better directed. And better written. And better acted. And more rooted in reality. And less skeevy.

But what message of hope does it offer to LGBT youth? I guess it might be this:

If you're a gay teen who feels rejected by your family and you're struggling to find your place in the world, try to look on the positive side of things -- after all, you could wind up being married, at the age of 18, to a creepy, reclusive, middle-aged loser who still lives with his dad. Aren't you glad that hasn't happened to you? So cheer up kids, things could be a whole lot worse.

I guess the movie was inspirational. Just not in the way it was intended.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Scott here again. Thanks again to our own Billy S. for handling the Bad Gay Film Beat around here (and if you enjoyed An Angel Named Billy, check out his review of the execrable Ben & Arthur).

And because birthday traditions -- especially where Annti is concerned -- are a sacred thing around here, let us now close with the traditional...

Sexy Birthday Lizard!

Please join me in wishing Joanna (oops! I outed her. Oh well, it's National Coming Out Day) a very happy natal anniversary.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Saturday With S.Z.

[Re-posted with permission from Sheri's Facebook]

FB kindly scanned my brain and printed out my memories...

It is only now that I realize that these seemingly random photos are actually a story:

1. Young Tennessee Tuxedo the Cat fell under the spell of Young Zamphyr, Master of the regular flute, and was brainwashed into performing a special mission.

2. He reacted in shock and horror when he realized what he was being asked to do.

3. He was charged with bringing down the moon, which the cats know is really a ball of yarn, unless the government gave Zamphyr some shoes, and gave the cats some of that good canned food.

4. The government refused to negotiate with kid and cat terrorists, and so the earth was laid waste, and all the people had to live underground, leaving the empty cities to the cats, who liked to sun themselves on the ruins.

5. Tennessee said, "Now I am become Cat Death, Destroyer of Worlds." And he was pretty happy.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Zombie TV

I try to get out and walk four miles everyday. Not that I expect this will thwart the Angel of Death in her appointed rounds, but I'm hoping she finds it slightly more of a challenge to hit a moving target. Anyway, I keep encountering posters for this TV show on bus shelters -- evidently it's a reboot of the night time soap from the 1980s -- and they're everywhere. I see them so often, in fact, that they've begun speaking to me.