Thursday, March 29, 2012

List O' Links For Week of 3/26-4/1


As you can tell the last few months, I haven't been nearly as prolific a blogger as in the past. But that doesn't mean I'm not on the Web--quite the contrary. I'm always coming across cool and interesting stuff, so much so that I'd like to start a new feature at the blog that showcases some of the things I find. I hope to do this weekly, but we'll see how it works out. Here we go!

At comic book journalism site Comics Alliance, staff writer Chris Sims explains in fascinating detail why Spider-Man is the best comic book superhero ever.

At the espionage in pop culture blog Double O Section, author Tanner educates us on the surprising antagonism between two British pop culture icons--The Beatles and James Bond.

At ComicBooked.com, writer The Ronyn explains why Michael Bay isn't to blame for desecrating the Transformers--Hasbro is.

Pac-Man is still a video game icon, even after 30 years. But you know who doesn't get credit--the Ghost Monsters. D.S. Cohen at About.com remedies that here.

Finally, Tuesday's Forgotten Film/TV has been one of the most important features sustaining the blog the last year or so, but that's not the only way to experience overlooked art. You should also check out the Monthly Underappreciated Music at Todd Mason's blog and Friday's Forgotten Books at Patti Abbott's blog.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: Slapstick of Another Kind


Please note that I'm not trying to punish you, loyal readers, by subjecting you to this. Forgotten films are often forgotten for good reason, and this week I offer a case in point--the disastrous bomb Slapstick of Another Kind.


The movie, a very loose adaptation of the Kurt Vonnegut novel Slapstick, stars Jerry Lewis and Madeline Kahn (both in dual roles) and Marty Feldman (his last film). As for the plot, I'm going to paste the description directly from Wikipedia so you can get exactly what goes on in this film. You will rub your eyes and take another look after reading through it the first time.

"The People's Republic of China is severing relations with all other nations. They have mastered the art of miniaturization, and have shrunk all their people to the height of 2 inches. The ambassador of China, Ah Fong (Pat Morita), announces during a press conference that the key to all knowledge can be found from twins.

Caleb Swain (Jerry Lewis) and his wife Letitia (Madeline Kahn) are called "the most beautiful of all the beautiful people" by the press. However, when Letitia gives birth to twins who are called "monsters", the family doctor, Dr. Frankenstein (John Abbott) informs the parents that the twins won't live more than a few months. The Swains decide to allow the twins to live their short life in a mansion staffed with servants, including Sylvester (Marty Feldman).

Fifteen years later the twins (also played by Lewis and Kahn) are still alive. They have large heads and appear to be mentally retarded. Their parents, who have not seen them in all those years, receive a visit from the former Chinese ambassador who informs them that their children are geniuses who can solve the world's problems.

The parents, along with the US president (Jim Backus), pay the children a visit. They reveal themselves to be well-behaved and intelligent, explaining that they acted "stupid" around the servants because they were simply emulating them. A series of tests reveal that there is a telepathic connection between the twins, and their intelligence is only functional when they are together. Furthermore, when their heads are touching they reach a level of intelligence that has never been surpassed.

Their parents, fearful that incest may be prevalent, separate the two. They become despondent without each other, and the Chinese ambassador appears again to tell them to seek each other out. Once united, a spaceship appears and reveals that they are really aliens who were sent to Earth to solve all of the planet's problems. However, their alien father (voice of Orson Welles) reveals that Earth cannot handle their intelligence and returns them to their home planet."

Yeah.

What does this insane plot look like? Take a look at the trailers below.




The film was originally slated for release in 1982, but stayed on the shelf until 1984, released to horrible reviews and box office. Go figure.

The great thing about this feature is that you can not only applaud a film that was underappreciated and unfairly ignored, you can take the opportunity to discuss a film that makes you scratch your head and wonder, "What were they thinking?"

So, I ask you readers--what were they thinking?

Who was their intended audience? Were they trying to be satirical, or just wacky, or what? Was this a project filmmakers were excited about, or did they know what they had on their hands during filming? These are questions I ask myself when I come across something this weird. I'd love to hear your responses. Thanks!

For more (and better) forgotten films, check out Todd Mason's Sweet Freedom!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: Heartbeeps


Tuesday's Forgotten Film this week is one that I've never seen, but have vivid memories of TV commercials for it when the film was released--the infamous 1981 comedy Heartbeeps.

Set in the then-future 1994, Andy Kaufman stars as robot Val Com, a butler robot who falls in love with hostess robot Aqua Com (Bernadette Peters). The two robot lovers run away from their human owners and are chased after by the AI-infused robot tank Crimebuster, which has no problem destroying everything in its path to find the android fugitives.


Along the way, Val and Aqua are joined by cutesy robot Phil and comedian robot Catskill, voiced by old school comic Jack Cater.

Oh, and Randy Quaid is in it too, for what it's worth.

The film, as one can imagine, did extremely poorly at the box office and with critics. Kaufman hated the movie so much that he apologized for the movie on an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman and promised to refund anyone's price of admission who didn't enjoy the film.

This movie seems so bad, so ridiculous, that I have to see it! It's currently available on Amazon Instant Video. It was once available on DVD, so if new copies can't be found, it's available on Ebay and the usual second hand outlets. A trailer for the film appears below.



Thanks! For more forgotten greatness, please visit Todd Mason's blog Sweet Freedom here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Regular Show Prequels "Naive Man From Lolliland" and "2 in the AM PM"

 A few weeks ago, I posted the pilot cartoon for what would become the Cartoon Network hit series Adventure Time. Another CN series I've sampled lately is The Regular Show. This series showcases the wacky adventures of Mordecai the blue jay and Rigby the racoon as they work in a privately owned city park, along with a staff of similary strange beings, such as a gumball machine, ghost, and lollipop-shaped people.

Like Adventure Time, the characters had origins in earlier, amateur-made productions. Here are two of the earlier appearances made by Regular Show creator J.G. Quintel. Quintel made these cartoons while a student at the California Institute of the Arts. The characters themselves are largely different, but the designs are very similar. WARNING: CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE AND ADULT THEMES!!

Here is an early sighting of the character Pops in "The Naive Man from Lolliland."



Here you see the first sightings of Mordecai and Benson in "2 in the AM PM."



For comparison, here is the first episode of The Regular Show. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: Waking Ned Devine

Top o' the mornin' to ya! I'm getting my Irish on this week, and this week's Tuesday's Forgotten Film reflects this. Today I discuss the 1998 film Waking Ned Devine.

The film is set in a rural Irish town where all the local folk play the lottery regularly. One day one of them, the titular Ned Devine, finally gets lucky and wins it all--then promptly dies from the shock of it. Two of the senior residents plot to have someone pose as the late Mr. Devine to collect the winnings and then divide them evenly among the town populace. As you can imagine, the task proves much more difficult than expected.

The movie plays up the stereotypical happy-go-lucky Irish townsfolk image--In The Name of the Father this ain't--but the movie is thoroughly enjoyable and funny, which is exactly what it intends to be. The film is currently available on Amazon streaming video, and possibly on Netflix as well.

Here is the film's trailer. Enjoy, and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Have Yourself a Shamrock Shake!

Erin Go Brah! With St. Patrick's Day less than a week away, it's time to grab yourself a McDonald's Shamrock Shake while you can. Actually, they'll be available until March 25th, but why wait?

I got some for my family last week, and just like in the commercial below, green bowlers magically appeared on their heads!




Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: Krull


Hi everyone! Time is short, and so is this post, so I'll get right to it. This Tuesday's Forgotten film is the 1983 scifi fantasy film Krull.

Krull is a planet ruled by an evil alien entity simply referred to as "The Beast." He and his horde of minions reside in a rock-like spacecraft that appears in different areas of the planet each day. Two warring kingdoms make an uneasy truce to defeat the Beast through the marriage of Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa. During the ceremony, the Beast's army attacks the parties and kidnaps Lyssa, leaving Colwyn the only survivor.

Colwyn is granted assistance by an Obi-Wan-like figure to rescue Lyssa and defeat the Beast with the aid of the Glaive, an ancient star-shaped weapon. Along their journey to the Beast's lair, they enlist the help of several characters, including an ancient seer, a cyclops, a comical magician, and a band of escaped prisoners helping Colwyn in exchange for freedom (two of whom are played by Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane).

I recently watched the movie on demand on my cable system. While certainly not a four-star film, I enjoyed it more than I expected to. I watched it mainly for a "so bad it's good" experience, but I didn't find it all that bad.  Cliched certainly, with its mixture of Star Wars and medieval motifs, but an enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half at home on a Saturday night.

I'm not sure if the film is in print on DVD right now, but there appear to be plenty of used ones floating around, and you should be able to find it pretty easily.

Here is the film's trailer. Thanks!

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