Archive for October, 2006

"One of these things is not like the others…"

Posted in Uncategorized on October 29, 2006 by bigruta
Three Card Monty, The Cups, The Bait and Switch, all things where what you expect to happen next does not. Just like tonight’s review! The difference is that in the above cases there is a con-man trying to do you wrong. I would never do anything to intentionally harm you, my loyal minions! Why I wouldn’t hurt a fly! Moths, that is altogether different. All moths must die! Die I tell you! Die! Die! DIE! Sorry. I lost my head for a moment. Which brings us to…

Sleepy Hollow You don't know Jack.

Paramount, 1999, 105 minutes, R

actors: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Marc Pickering, Michael Gambon, Miranda Richardson, Jeffrey Jones, Ian McDiarmid, Micheal Gough, Christopher Walken, Christopher Lee, Casper Van Dien, Lisa Marie, Martin Landau

writer: Andrew Kevin Walker

director: Tim Burton

executive producer: Francis Ford Coppola

Taxonomy: New twist on classic tale flick.

Plot: Constable Ichabod Crane is assigned to solve the perplexing murders in the small village of Sleepy Hollow.

Bluntly: A wonderful re-think of the Washington Irving classic.
Welcome!
Overview:

Okay. I’m calling an audible. I can not write out an outline of the plot as I usually do. Why? Because this flick is really rather complex. The more I think about it the more directions I want to go, but none of them do the film justice and would give too much away. I have a vision of a long wordy mess. So. Tell ya what I’m gonna do! I will throw a wide net, paint with broad strokes, lie and make shit up. That last part was a joke. I am going to just give you the big picture version of the set-up for this flick. I won’t mention specifics and I certainly will not tell you the ending. You will then do your part and watch the movie!
Hessian chop!
Remember English class? Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow?” No? Well if you want a refresher, you can read the story. Briefly, Ichabod Crane is a gangly superstitious school master in a small New York village. He loves a rich farmer’s daughter and competes with a local young buck for her affection. He eventually is attacked by The Headless Horseman and disappears. The end of the story lets you decide if the supernatural was involved. Got that? Good. Now you can forget most of it.
CSI New York
In Sleepy Hollow Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is a young New York city constable who champions rational scientific investigation techniques. Today we call this forensics, but in 1799 they called it disrespectful to the tradition of law. The Burgomaster (Christopher Lee) challenges Crane to prove himself by sending him to the little upstate village of Sleepy Hollow to solve a series of murders where the victims were all decapitated.

Once Ichabod gets to Sleepy Hollow, the plot thickens like old oatmeal. The town elders tell him point blank that the murderer is The Headless Horseman (Christopher Walken), a revenant from the nearby haunted Western Woods. It seems the horseman is the restless spirit of a Hessian mercenary who loved bloodshed, filed his teeth to points to scare his opponents, and used a broadsword and axe to decapitate the enemy. Eventually, the Hessian was hunted down, beheaded with his own sword and buried in the Western Woods. This version of Ichabod Crane does not believe in ghosts and vows to get to the bottom of the mystery.
He has no head for business.
Ichabod takes up residence in the Von Tassel home and is soon smitten with young Katrina Von Tassel (Christina Ricci). Ichabod then proceeds to study a recent death scene, gains an assistant in the form of the latest victim’s son young Masbath (Marc Pickering), performs an autopsy (!), and begins to suspect a conspiracy. This is done very well with Depp portraying Crane as determined yet insecure. He does not like the sight of blood or dead bodies, for example. Depp’s Ichabod Crane comes off as sort of a prototypical Sherlock Holmes a century early!

Then things get a bit messier when Ichabod sees the town magistrate beheaded by The Headless Horseman right in front of him! The film starts to pick up speed and witchcraft, dream visions, the question of Ichabod’s past, the importance of the color red, more detection, supernatural fun in the Western Woods, and the question of why the horseman is killing certain people and not others all come into play. Nearly every character’s … uh … character is questioned and it all rushes to a climax that pays homage to the Universal Frankenstein movies as well as the Gothic flicks of Hammer and Amicus. Alternative power.

Goodies:

Babeage: For those who like Christina Ricci, they should dig her here as a blond. My pick for babe of the flick is Lisa Marie who plays … nope, not tellin!

Sleazeploitation: Some sexual stuff, not very explicit. Some bad family vibes.

Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: The Hessian/Headless Horseman, a cool witch, some neat scarecrows and of course Christina Ricci.

Violence: Yes indeed! The tag line on the DVD menu says, “Heads will roll” and they do! They also bounce, spin and fly! Some very cool fight scenes too!

Gore & F/X: The heads, lots of blood, a creepy tree and a neat transformation scene. Plus the great town which was built for the film.

Great Lines:

Ichabod Crane: “I have found something, which was lately … a man.”

Burgomaster: “Remember, it is you, Ichabod Crane, who is now put to the test.”

Ichabod Crane: “We have murders in New York without the benefit of ghosts and goblins.” Baltus Van Tassel: “You are a long way from New York, constable.”

Ichabod Crane: “The assassin is a man of flesh and blood, and I will discover him.”

Ichabod Crane: “You have moved the body?” Dr. Lancaster: “I have.” Ichabod Crane: “You must never move the body!” Dr. Lancaster: “Why not?” Ichabod Crane: “Because!”

Ichabod Crane: “There is no horseman, there never was a horseman, there will never be a horseman!”

Ichabod Crane: “It is truth, though truth is not always appearance.”

Ichabod Crane: “You’ll soon get your bearings young Masbath. The Bronx is up, the Battery is down and home is this way.”

Moral: How many times do I have to say this? If your opponent is undead, guns don’t work!!

Conclusion: Sleepy Hollow is the best kind of ‘based on’ adaptation. It takes the best parts of the original source and makes them better by adding entertainingly original ideas to the mix. Believe me, if you think Irving’s story is a bore, then try this movie. I guarantee you will be swept up in the great combination of gothic horror, mysticism, Holmesian detective story, terrific action, wonderful effects and some very nice acting. One word of caution; some of the scenes in this flick would be too much for younger kids, just so you know.

Highly recommended.

Congratulations to Jeffrey Jones for being in three of the six Halloween reviews for 2006!

Do you believe in Pumpkinhead?

Ichabod Pumpkin Ale

New holland Brewing Company, LLC
Holland, Michigan

Well, you knew I had to review a pumpkin ale for Halloween didn’t you? You remember from last year, I’ sure, that pumpkin ale is simply a light ale, possibly wheat, made with pumpkin and the traditional pumpkin pie type spices. This one opts for nutmeg and cinnamon.

ABV: 5.50% IBU: maybe 20 to 30

Color: A cloudy amber with just the slightest hint of orange. Cloudy from wheat proteins? Perhaps. However, it might just be from the pumpkin and spice.

Aroma: A very soft, slight aroma. The kind way to say this would be “delicate.” The accurate way to say this would be that there is very little aroma. I could not detect pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon or much hops or malt for that matter. Aroma hints at taste so this does not bode well.

Head: White, fairly dense and not persistent. Probably not much wheat. Another bad sign.

Taste: A slightly sweet start moves to a mild sweet and sour hint of spice middle and then to a small bitter finish and short aftertaste. I did not taste pumpkin.

Recommendation: I can not recommend this beer. It is very close to being bland. There are no high notes, nothing distinctive about it whatsoever. The label is the best feature of this beer. I will have to give New Holland brews another try, but this one did not impress. Walk on by.

Okay all you minions get back to … uh … minning. Whatever. Hope you have a great Halloween! Give freely to the weeners and as always: Watch fun movies and drink Real Beer!

-BigRuta

Remember: comments, questions, suggestions, requests and contributions welcome!

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"Instead of being my deliverance, she had a strange resemblance to a cat named…"

Posted in Uncategorized on October 28, 2006 by bigruta
Have you caught on to this years Halloween review theme? I sure hope so, but on the off chance that too many illegal substances or too much election advertising have dulled your mental abilities to the point where you can no longer remember your own name, tonight’s review should leave no doubt.

Young Frankenstein

20th Century Fox, 1974, 106 minutes, PG

actors: Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Teri Garr, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Kennith Mars, Madeline Kahn

writers: Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks

director: Mel Brooks

Taxonomy: Loving gothic horror spoof flick.

Plot: Baron von Frankenstein’s grandson returns to Transylvania and picks up where gramps left off.

Bluntly: Unquestionably the best horror spoof ever!

Overview:

When Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder), an eminent surgeon and professor of medicine, who is so ashamed of his mad grandfather’s acts that he passionately insists that his name is pronounced “Fronkensteen,” learns that he is the sole heir of his grandfather’s estate, he zips off to Transylvania to check it all out. This does not sit well with his betrothed Elizabeth (Madeline Kahn), but such is life.
Any late fees?
Once at Gramp’s old castle, Freddy meets his staff. Igor(Marty Feldman), a hunchback with a moving hump who is so amused at Frederick’s insecurity that he insists that his name is pronounced “Eyegor” and proceeds to refer to his new boss as “Froderick.” Inga (Teri Garr) a cute blond who is soon falling for Frederick. And Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman), an old crone the mere mention of who’s name upsets horses and who we soon learn had a fling with Freddy’s gramps.

Well, Freddy soon finds his grandfather’s medical library and reads his experimental journal entitled “How I Did It.” After a night of frenzied reading Frederick exclaims, “IT…COULD…WORK!” Seems Frederick does not think that his grandpappy was all that nuts anymore and he, Igor and Inga plan to carry on with Baron von Frankenstein’s work.
Give him a sedagive!
Before you can say Boris, Frederick and Igor are robbing graves and setting up all the wonderful electrical equipment in grandpappy’s lab. I have read reports on the internet that the sets used in this flick were original leftovers from the Universal Frankenstein and other monster movies. I have not been able to confirm this, but the sets and props are great! The rooms are huge and all the crackly sparky electric lab equipment looks better than it did in many of the old flicks! That is one of the cool things about this movie, it looks like it had a bigger budget.

Igor has a little mishap while stealing a brain for Frederick’s creation and has to settle for an abnormal brain instead of the one Frederick wanted, that of Hans Delbruck, “scientist and saint.” In fact, there was a real Hans Delbruck. He was a historian who specialized in military history and how it was related to politics and economics. I guess the scientist and saint thing is sarcasm.

On a dark and stormy night, naturally, Frederick, Igor and Inga try to bring their creature to life. It don’t work. Frederick says that they should face defeat with, “Quiet dignity and grace.” He then flips out and starts to strangle the body screaming, “Son of a bitch! Bastard! I’ll get you for this! What did you do to me!? What did you do to me!? I do not want to live!”
Kemp is the man.
Cut to the town hall in the village below the castle. The place is full of angry villagers who want Fredericks blood. One of the town elders states, “We still have nightmares from five times before!” This is a reference to the five Universal Frankenstein films! We are then introduced to the fantastically silly character of Inspector Hans Wilhelm Friedrich Kemp, player brilliantly by veteran character and voice actor Kennith Mars. Inspector Kemp is my favorite character in the flick. He is an over-the-top stereotypical provincial German policeman who likes to strike dramatic poses, wears a monocle over his eye patch and speaks in such a strong German accent that even the other villagers do not understand him half the time! He also has an articulated wooden arm that is used to great physical humor effect. This character is a parody of the Burgomeister from The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) who has his arm ripped of by the monster.
Soup, it's good and good for you!
Hey guess what kiddies! The monster is alive! Never saw that coming did ya? The monster is played by Peter Boyle with wonderful style that makes us feel fear and sympathy much like Boris Karloff did, but with more humor. Of course he gets lose and goes on a rampage – three times! During which we are treated to great parodies of famous scenes from Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein. There is the famous scene where the monster meets a little girl throwing flowers in a lake and the scene where the monster comes across a poor blind hermit. This scene is just a riot with great physical humor from Boyle and an uncredited Gene Hackman who plays Harold the hermit. And when the monster abducts Elizabeth we get to witness perhaps the funniest sex scene ever!
Sharp dressed man.
Well, Frederick tries to get everyone to understand that the creature is not evil and can be like other people, but that don’t work! We do get to see a swell dance number though! Villagers storm the castle, with torches and pitchforks natch, even using Kemp’s false arm as a battering ram! Frederick tries one last desperate attempt to make the creature a normal person and…Nope, not going any farther! If you have not seen this flick, I don’t want to spoil the end.

Goodies:

Babeage: Teri Garr is cute and a bit sexy as Inga. Kahn and Leachman are both very funny, but let’s face it, neither one would be mistaken for a babe. Ssss!

Sleazeploitation: Some great sex humor between Wilder, Garr and Feldman as well as between Boyle and Kahn.

Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: Boyle’s monster, Inspector Kemp and of course Marty Feldman.

Violence: Very little and done with silliness in mind.

Gore & F/X: Actually there are some good effects and a couple of yucky props, but certainly no gore.

Great Lines: The following quotes are presented without context cues. You just have to see the flick to see where they fit! Ha!

Frederick Frankenstein: “Hearts and kidneys are tinker toys! I’m talking about the central nervous system!” “My grandfather’s work was doo-doo!”

Inga: “Vould you like a rrroll in ze hay? It’s fun! Rrroll, roll roll in ze hay!”

Inga: “Werewolf!” Frederick: “Werewolf!?” Igor: “There.” Frederick: “What?” Igor: “There wolf; there castle.”

Frederick: “What knockers!” Inga: “Oh! Sank you doktor.”

Inga: “Put ze candle beck!”

Igor: “Two nasty looking switches over here, but I’m not going to be the first.”

Frederick: “Damn your eyes!” Igor “Too late!”

Inga: “He vould haf an enormous schwanzstucker!” Frederick: “That goes without saying.” Igor: “He’s going to be very popular.”

Frederick: “What a filthy job!” Igor: “Could be worse.” Frederick: “How?” Igor: “Could be raining.”

Igor: “Abby someone.” Frederick: “Abby someone? Abby who?” Igor: “Abby Normal.”

Inspector Kemp: “Vee hadt better confeerm ze fact dat yunk Frankeschtein is indeed vollowing een ees grandfadda’s vootschtops!” Villagers: “What?” Inspector Kemp: “Vollowing in his grandfadda’s vootschtops. Vootschtops, vootschtops!” Villagers: “Oh, footsteps!”

Frederick: “Sedagive!!?”

Little girl’s father: “Ven monsters are loose, boards must be tight!”

Harold the hermit: “I was going to make espresso!” This was ad-libbed by Gene Hackman!

Moral: Fire is our friend.

Conclusion:

Wow! Young Frankenstein is the best gothic horror spoof ever made – period! The writing is great, the physical humor top notch and the film was made in the same great black and white style as the films it parodys. It is obvious that Wilder and Brooks love the old Universal horror flicks. There are little in jokes and references to these earlier films all throughout the flick.

If you have not seen Young Frankenstein…have you been living in a cave? Anyway, there is no excuse not to see this movie, Comedy Central has been running it every Halloween for years now! But I would recommend getting the Special Edition DVD. You need to see this flick unedited and the DVD has some nice extras like deleted scenes, interviews and a documentary.

Is this Mel Brooks’ best film? Many say yes. I admit I am torn between Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, but in the end, you will laugh your ass off to either!

Highly recommended, especially during Halloween season.

Not your Grandfadda’s bier!

The Kaiser: Imperial Oktoberfest Lager

Avery Brewing Company
Boulder, Colorado, USA

Imperial Oktoberfest Lager? Okay, an Oktoberfest lager is a variant on traditional Munich style lager that emphasizes sweet smooth maltiness over sharp hop bitter flavors. Not surprisingly, this style originated during Oktoberfest celebrations in Germany. The Imperial part? Remember when I told you about Imperial Russian Stout? No? What a surprise. Imperial simply means that the flavors and alcohol content are intensified.

ABV: 8.90% IBU: 25

Color: A deep honey amber, almost, but not quite, red.

Aroma: Soft honey and caramel notes highlighting the malt and downplaying the hops.

Head: Small bubbled, tight, cream colored and persistent. A very attractive beer.

Taste: The taste starts off with a smooth rich malty sweetness that gently turns to a slightly sour middle and then moves to a smoothly bitter finish and a light short hoppy aftertaste. This beer is a very good example of the Oktoberfest style. The flavors do not jump out at you or try to out compete each other. This beer has very nice balance with the sour and bitter elements seeming to slowly rise up under the malt sweetness yet never becoming overpowering. Hopheads will not think it has enough zap, but those who can appreciate a well crafted mild sweet beer should be happy.

Recommendation: The Kaiser is a good American version of a traditional Munich Oktoberfest lager that should appeal to anyone who likes European amber lagers and would be a great introduction to the style. Recommended.

One more thing, all beers should be decanted to fully appreciate their characteristics. If you just drink straight out of the bottle or can you are missing much of what the brewers worked so hard to create. Sometimes this can’t be helped. No glasses at ballgames, ya know. But when drinking a beer as pretty as The Kaiser you owe it to yourself to pour it into a good clear glass. Hold it up to the light, check the color, swirl it a little, admire the head and aroma, then breath in while you tip the glass up to drink so you can get the aroma and taste together. When you drink, don’t do the little timid sip, quaff it baby! You’ll be glad you did!

Well folks, you all have a safe and happy Halloween! Be good to the little weeners or BigRuta might come and drink all your beer!

-BigRuta

Remember: Comments, questions, suggestions and requests always welcome.

"Well, don’t look at me like I was freakin’…"

Posted in Uncategorized on October 24, 2006 by bigruta
And now we go back to the days of the classics…

Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Universal International, 1948, 82 minutes

actors: Bud Abbot, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange, Lenore Aubert, Jane Randolf, Vincent Price (voice)

director: Charles Barton

Taxonomy: Early horror/comedy flick.

Plot: Two railroad porters encounter Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein’s monster while hauling exhibits to a horror attraction in Florida.

Bluntly: Universal’s best from the 30’s and 40’s together in one film!

Overview:

When the owner of McDougal’s House of Horror learns that his highly anticipated shipment from England has arrived in his native Florida, he is overjoyed. When he meets the railroad freight handlers that are to deliver the items to his business, he is less than thrilled. The porters, Chick Young and Wilbur Grey (Bud Abbot and Lou Costello) don’t care how Mr. McDougal feels, they just want to do the job and get away from the cranky customer.

Upon unpacking the two large crates, Wilbur learns that the bodies inside are not dead or props as everyone assumes, but in fact the actual live Count Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster (Bela Lugosi and Glenn Strange). Drac hypnotizes Wilbur and then he and Frank make a run for it. A furious McDougal vows to talk to the police about Chick and Wilbur, who he believes have stolen his merchandise. Sure enough our boys are soon thrown in jail.

When Chick and Wilbur get back to the boarding house where they live, they meet Laurence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) who backs up Wilbur’s wild story about Dracula and Frankenstein. Chick thinks they are both nuts. Larry asks Wilbur to lock him in his room for the night. Wilbur thinks it is odd, but does so – stealing an apple while he is at it.

The next morning Chick and Wilbur meet Joan Raymond (Jane Randolf). She was the woman who bailed them out of jail. The guys had thought it was Dr. Sandra Mornay (Lenore Aubert), Wilbur’s squeeze, who also seems very concerned with Wilbur’s head. Joan thinks Wilbur is cute and he invites her along to the masquerade ball he is attending with Sandra that evening. Chick seems incredulous that two attractive women would fall for Wilbur. Of course we know that Joan’s real reason for cuddling up to Wilbur is to try and get a lead on the missing cargo for the insurance company.

When Chick and Wilbur check on Larry, they find his room wrecked and him a mess. He then confides in them that he is a werewolf. Wilbur is concerned and Chick thinks Larry is doubly nuts.

Well, our heros boat out to Sandra’s castle on an isolated island. Yep, this young attractive physician lives in a castle. On an island. Off the Florida coast. Uh huh. Anyway, Chick, Wilbur and Joan meet Sandra and her guest Dr. Ligos (guess who!). While Joan is snooping in a book by Dr. Frankenstein, Sandra peeks in her purse and finds her insurance investigator license – doh! You see, Sandra is working with Dracula – oops, I mean Dr. Ligos – to try to find a submissive brain for Frankenstein’s monster. That’s why she is hanging on Wilbur! Why would she do such a thing? Well, Drac is blackmailing her! Seems Dr. Mornay is wanted. Just for good measure, Drac turns her into a vampire. You can’t be too careful.

Once at the ball, Larry Talbot shows up and accuses Dr. Ligos of being Count Dracula. Ligos laughs this off because he is dressed as Dracula after all. Well, it’s the full moon again and Larry turns into a werewolf and tries to attack Wilbur, but Wilbur runs away. Yes that’s right, Lou Costello can outrun the Wolfman! Bet you didn’t know that, did ya? Eventually Larry attacks McDougal, but everybody thinks it is Chick because he was wearing a wolf mask. Dracula abducts Joan as well as Wilbur, and Larry and Chick have to save them while avoiding the cops sent to arrest Chick.

It all comes to a boil at Sandra’s castle where the monster rebels against Dracula and ends up throwing Sandra out a window! Larry changes into the Wolfman – twice in one night! – and goes after Drac while Chick first saves Wilbur and then the two of them try to save Joan while Frankenstein is chasing them! Finally the minor character of Dr. Stevens, Sandra’s assistant, saves the day by pouring gas all over the dock Frankenstein is standing on and flamb├ęs poor old Frankie! During this scene I could not help noticing how much gas Dr. Stevens spilled on his pants. He would have gone up like a torch in real life!

Just at the end of the flick, there is a joke about The Invisible Man featuring Vincent Price’s voice.

Goodies:

Babeage: While Lenore Aubert and Jane Randolf are attractive, considering the age of this flick, referring to them as babes is kind of like telling someone that their Grandma is hot.

Sleazeploitation: 1948, okay?

Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: Drac, Frankie, the Wolfman, The Invisible Man and of course Bud and Lou.

Violence: The only scene I would call violent is when Frankie throws Dr. Mornay out the window. No dummy was involved, that is a real stunt person getting flung through the glass. This quick scene comes as sort of an unexpected shock between the silly stuff.

There is also a scene where it appears that Lou Costello gets accidentally punched when Frankenstein’s fist comes crashing through a door!

Gore & FX: Nah. The make-up is more mask like than in the original Universal monster flicks.

Great Lines:

Wilbur to McDougal: “It’s going to cost you overtime. I’m a union man and I only work 16 hours a day.” McDougal: “A union man works 8 hours a day!” Wilbur: “I belong to two unions!”

Chick on Sandra’s attraction to Wilbur: “Frankly, I don’t get it.” Sandra’s response: “And frankly, you never will!”

Chick to Joan: “He’s [Wilbur] going to a masquerade ball, but I’m not doing anything.” Joan: “Then you’ll be awfully lonely.”

Larry to Wilbur: “But you and I have a date with destiny!” Wilbur: “Let Chick go with destiny, please, huh?”

Dracula to Frankenstein when he first sees Wilbur: “Don’t be afraid! He won’t hurt you!”

Dracula as Dr. Ligos: “That’s what we need today, young blood! And young brains!”

Dracula to Sandra: “This time the monster must have no will of his own. No fiendish intellect to oppose his master!” Sandra: “There my dear Count, I fell I have exceeded your fondest wishes. The new brain I have chosen for the monster is so simple, so pliable, he will obey you like a trained dog.”

Larry: “In half an hour the moon will rise, and I’ll turn into a wolf.” Wilbur: “You and twenty million other guys!”

Wilbur to Chick: “It’s nearly sunset. If Dracula lives here, he’s going to want breakfast. I’m fatter than you! It ain’t going to be me!”

Wilbur to Frankenstein: “Frankie I’m telling ya it’s a bad deal! I’ve had this brain for thirty years and it hasn’t worked yet!”

The Invisible Man: “I was hoping to get in on the fun!”

Moral: Anyone dressed as Dracula, is Dracula!

Conclusion:

Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein is a hoot! It is fun and family friendly and should definitely be on your Halloween movie list. One of the great things about this flick is the fact that although A & C are there for laughs, the other actors play it straight! This makes it a fun comedy and a rather silly but fair monster flick as well. Because of this, many monster movie buffs consider this to be a continuation of the Universal monster cycle – a legitimate monster movie! I’m not sure I would agree, but the story does pick up where the older Universal films left off, with Dracula trying to control Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolfman trying to hunt them both down.

It seems that Bud and Lou were not real keen on the idea of this movie because it seemed like the focus would be on physical humor (it is) and not their trademark verbal routines like “Who’s On First?” However, this movie proved to be a real moneymaker for Universal International. It was the second cheapest film they produced that year and made the second highest profit! And so it spawned many other Abbot and Costello Meet… flicks that kept the box office cash flowing.

One classic deserves another…

Lindemans Gueuze

Brouwerij Lindemans, Vlezenbeek, Belgium

What the heck is gueuze? Gueuze is the traditional naturally fermented ale of Belgium. This is the style of beer that Belgians, usually housewives, have been brewing for centuries. Gueuze is the most basic form of lambic. No fruit, just water, grains, some hops and natural yeast.

ABV: 4.00% IBU: low

Color: A slightly cloudy tawny amber. The cloudy part comes from wheat proteins. Remember lambics are made with at least 30% wheat.

Aroma: Soft and rather subtle. There is a bit of the cider character lambics are known for as well as a slight fruit or floral component. The hops come through but not strongly. There is an interesting sort of musty scent in the background, this may be what I have read beer snobs refer to as “wet wool.” There is also a hint of spice.

Head: The white head is dense, foamy and persistent. It forms the uneven surface beer snobs call “rocky” and leaves the strands of foam on the side of the glass called “Belgian Lace.”

Taste: Very fruity cider like taste. Crisp and not very bitter at all. Slightly hoppy and spicy, rather like ginger beer but without the burn. The fruity start moves to a mellow smooth middle and leads to a slightly bitter finish with a short cider aftertaste.

Recommendation:

Lindemans Gueuze is a very refreshing beer. It would be perfect for those times when you do not want a heavy or very hoppy beer. Those who prefer less bitter beer will love it. It is refreshing enough to have at a summer picnic, but the cider taste would go down well in Autumn and I am willing to bet this would be great warmed and mulled during Christmas. Lindemans produces another winner! Highly recommended!

I feel that I have to mention that h&m (you know, my cohorts who referred to beer as tasting like cat piss) tried this beer and liked it. I rest my case.

Okey-dokey friends and neighbors! Another Halloween review in the bag! Catch ya next time.

-BigRuta

Remember: comments, questions, suggestions and requests always welcome.

BJ

Posted in Uncategorized on October 17, 2006 by bigruta

Well, after the travesty that was Transylvania 6-5000, you would think that the actors involved would not be very keen to sign up for another horror/comedy flick. And you would be wrong! A mere three years later two of the stars of Transylvania 6-5000 did indeed appear in another horror/comedy. The big difference was that this flick was actually funny.

Beetle Juice

The Geffen Film Company, 1988, 92 minutes, PG

actors: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Jeffery Jones, Catherine O’Hara, Wynona Ryder, Michael Keaton, Sylvia Sidney, Glenn Shadix, Patrice Martinez.

director: Tim Burton

Taxonomy: Death as humor flick.

Plot: As newbie ghosts a cute nerdy couple try to scare the new owners out of their beloved old Connecticut farmhouse. Barb tells Adam that he is werfwess.

Bluntly: Fun early Tim Burton mass market weirdness.

Overview:

Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) are a sweet, dorky and hopelessly in love couple living in a small town in Connecticut. Adam’s hobby is building a scale model of his beloved little town in the attic of the old farmhouse in which the couple live. Barbara is his sweet pretty New England country gal wife. On the way home from a trip to the local general store to get supplies for the model, Adam and Barbara die when they try to avoid hitting a stray dog. Their yellow Volvo station wagon tumbles off a covered bridge and into the river. Later that evening, they find themselves at home and slowly come to the realization that they did not in fact survive the crash. Barbara points out that they have no reflections in the mirror and they find a book entitled ‘Handbook for the Recently Deceased.’ The book seems to be hard reading and they don’t pay much attention to it. Betelgeuse

The Maitlands soon learn that if they try to leave their house, they end up in a strange desert world with odd purple trees and giant threatening sandworms. They realize that they are trapped in their house. This does not seem like a big deal as they love their old farmhouse anyway.

Well, with the Maitlands dead the house goes up for sale and is bought by Charles and Delia Deetz (Jeffery Jones and Catherine O’Hara), an obnoxious yuppie couple from New York. The Deetz’s daughter, Lydia (Wynona Ryder), is a proto-Goth chick who dresses in black, enjoys annoying her stepmother Delia and is an amateur photographer. Charles is an overworked real estate developer who simply wants some peace and quiet in the country. Delia is an pompous shrill who thinks her horrid modern sculpture is actually art.
The Deetzes and Otho
In addition to the Deetzes, their interior designer Otho (Glenn Shadix) shows up. While Charles thinks the house is charming, Delia and Otho think it is in bad need or redesign and immediately begin spray painting the names of the colors they want on the vintage wallpaper. Soon they are ripping the house apart and turning it into an ugly art nouveau monstrosity.

The Maitlands have locked themselves in the attic, but soon they cannot stand what has become of their farmhouse. They set out to scare the Deetzes away. There follow some great scenes where Barbara is hanging in the closet and pulls her face off when Delia and Otho open the door. Then she is found standing in the den with a knife and Adam’s severed head in her hands while his body stands nonchalantly nearby. Unfortunately, because they are new at this dead thing, no living person can see or hear the Maitlands.

Cut to a scene of a dirty guy reading a newspaper that has a headline announcing that sandworm activity is up 13%. The guy remarks that he needs a job, turns to the obituary section and we see a picture of Adam and Barbara with the caption, ‘Please welcome THE MAITLANDS.’
He knows how to make an entrance.
Adam and Barbara find an ad for Betelgeuse in the handbook and soon see a TV commercial with Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton) acting like a used car salesman and claiming to be ‘the afterlifes leading bio-exorcist.’ Betelgeuse tells them all they have to do to get help from him is say his name three times.

Well, Adam and Barbara eventually make it to the waiting room in the afterlife and meet their caseworker Juno (veteran character actress Sylvia Sidney). Juno tells the Maitlands that they must haunt their house for 125 years. When they ask her for some help getting rid of the Deetzes, Juno tells them that everything is covered in the handbook. They mention Betelgeuse and Juno tells them that he used to be her assistant and that he is bad news. They should just scare the Deetzes off by themselves. The scenes in the afterlife waiting room and offices are great! You notice that all the employees seem to be people that have killed themselves. Juno has a huge gash in her throat that her cigarette smoke drifts out of, there is a office worker who glides along a cable lead because he is still hanging from a noose and the receptionist (the lovely Patrice Martinez covered in green make-up) is an ex Miss Argentina who slashed her wrists!

Anyway, the Maitlands get back home to discover the horrible redecoration and try to scare off the Deetzes by putting sheets over themselves (so as to be seen) and moaning! This fails miserably, and we discover that Lydia can see and hear Adam and Barbara! Why? Because she wants to die or some stupid shit like that. She also read a bit of the handbook when she broke into the attic while the Maitlands were in the afterlife.
Are you scary?
Frustrated and desperate, Adam and Barbara look to Betelgeuse – which everyone pronounces “Beetlejuice” for help. Well, actually he haunts Adam’s model town and cons them into meeting him. Michael Keaton is great in this role! Beetlejuice is a moldy, crazy, manic and very horny ghost! He kisses and comes on to Barbara several times including lifting her skirt. After a short exchange where Beetlejuice proves how scary he can be, and reveals some lustful feelings for Lydia, the Maitlands decide against his help. When Barbara says home three times, she and Adam are back in the attic looking down at a tiny Beetlejuice who calls then losers.

With Lydia’s help Adam and Barbara come up with a new plan and spring it on Charles and Delia while they are entertaining some artsy fartsy New York friends. Unfortunately, the plan is more silly than scary and Charles comes up with the hair-brained idea to turn the town into a haunted amusement park and resort!
Otho meets the ghost with the most.
Well! Adam and Barbara try to protect Lydia from Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice tries to trick Lydia into summoning him and all Hell breaks loose when Otho gets his hands on the handbook and uses it during a seance in order to convince Charles’s boss that the house is actually haunted!

Goodies:

Babeage: Geena Davis is more sweet than hot in this one and as I mentioned above the gorgeous Latin actress Patrice Martinez is less than perfectly presented as a dead receptionist. Ah well, can’t have everything. It's not easy, being green.

Sleazeploitation: Beetlejuice’s intentions with Lydia are a bit disturbing, but they are covered with so much humor that the sleaze goes unnoticed. Except by me. Of course.

Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: Wow! A ton of dead folk! Sandworms – now admit it, a movie with sandworms has to be cool! Otho, and of course, Wynona Ryder.

Violence: Beetlejuice munches on a few bugs.

Gore & FX: Plenty! But of a decidedly innocent and silly nature. This was the film that really let folks know how odd Tim Burton could be!

Great Lines:

Adam after starting to read the handbook – “I don’t see anything about Heaven or Hell. This book reads like stereo instructions!”

Barbara – “What’s the good of being a ghost if you can’t frighten people away!?”

Lydia when told by Charles that they will build her a darkroom – “My whole life is a darkroom. One…big…dark…room.”

During the dinner party Charles offers this toast – “May all your buildings go condo!”

Charles describes the architect he plans to hire to make the resort – “He’s the genius who gave us the talking Marcel Marceau statue – it was a sensation!”

Otho – “You know what they say about people who commit suicide – in the afterlife they become civil servants!”

Bernard (Dick Cavett), one of the dinner party guests – “Delia you are a flake. You have always been a flake. If you insist on frightening people, do it with your sculpture.”

Juno – “Never trust the living!”

A fly that Beetlejuice is about to eat – “Help me! Help me!”

Beetlejuice – I’m feelin’ a little, ooh, anxious, if ya know what I mean. It’s been about 600 years after all. I wonder where a guy, an everyday Joe like myself, can find a little action!”

Beetlejuice when asked about his qualifications – “Ah. Well, I attended Juilliard. I’m a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I’ve seen The Exorcist about a hundred and sixty-seven times, and it just keeps getting funnier and funnier every single time I see it!”

Beetlejuice when he is finally summoned – “It’s showtime!”

Moral: Never swerve to avoid running over a little dog.

Conclusion:

Wow! What a difference a good director and writers make!

Beetle Juice is a fun movie. It moves along well and tells the haunted house story from the ghost’s perspective, and it does all that without mentioning religion at all. It would be great to show during a Halloween party. It is family friendly, but some of the effects might scare very young children. This film is sure to spark some discussion about Tim Burton, Michael Keaton and movies in general.

A word about the title; since it is a character’s name, it would make sense for it to be one word, Beetlejuice. This is the way the title appears on the DVD box. However, at the beginning of the film it appears as two words, Beetle Juice. Odd.

If you like the music of Harry Belefonte, then this flick will do ya good!

What kind of beer do you drink while watching a movie full of people with dark eye make-up?

Black Eye Ale
Olde Saratoga Brewing (Mendocino Brewing Company, Hopland, California, USA)
31 Excelsior Ave., Saratoga Springs, New York, USA

Ah the Black and Tan! A true ale lover’s treat. When a bartender makes a Black and Tan he draws half a glass of amber ale and then he “floats” half a glass of stout on top of the amber ale. This often requires the use of a special spoon. Because the stout is less dense than the ale, the result is a glass that is amber (or tan) on the bottom and black on top. Some say you should not try to mix the two brews while you drink, others say that mixing is fine. But all agree, a real Black and Tan is a mixed drink and should always start out as a bi-colored glass.

Because of this, many beer snobs do not think kindly of bottled Black and Tan. There is no way to keep the brews separate in the bottle and therefore what you have is a blended ale. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not a Black and Tan.

That is why I was happy to see that Black Eye Ale is labeled as a blended ale. The brew is a blend of Mendocino’s Black Hawk Stout and Eye of the Hawk Ale.

ABV: 6.50% IBU: I would guess in the 30 – 40 range.

Color: A deep honey amber brown, not quite what I have heard referred to as “mahogany.”

Aroma: Sweet and malty, not overpowering, it only hints at what the taste will reveal.

Head: Small bubbled tight persistent head with the tiny nitrogen bubbles typical of stouts.

Taste: Sweet and rich, silky but not cloying. The nutty slightly spicey start moves into a rich coffeeish middle which leads to a nice clean bitter finish and aftertase on the back of the palate. Not much hop character, but there is a dryness to this brew that helps cut the richness.

Recommendation: Black Eye Ale is a very nice blended ale that shows how good a mixed Black and Tan can taste. This beer would make a good introduction to stout or the Black and Tan for those who have never tried them. However, Black Eye Ale is a seasonal product so you may have to seek it out. Happy hunting! Recommended.

There is also a drink called a Black and Velvet – stout and champagne! Never tried it, but would sure like to! It must be great with oysters!

Okay! Halloween movie review number three, done! Can you spot a theme?
-BigRuta
Remember: Comments, questions, suggestions and requests welcome!

Oh Bugs! Where are you when we need you?

Posted in Uncategorized on October 9, 2006 by bigruta

Not to sound paranoid or anything, but my spies tell me that they have been hearing whispers complaining that I only write positive reviews. While it is true that most of the reviews I post are at least a little positive I also think that I have not shied away from including reviews of stuff I did not like. Of course, the nature of b-movie appreciation is such that even a real dog of a movie can be entertaining by virtue of the unintentional comedy value. Also I tend to want to review movies I thought were at least a little entertaining. Well, in order to reassure you all that BigRuta does not pull punches, I present the following reviews. Proceed at your own risk.

Transylvania 6-5000 Oh Yeah!

New World Pictures, 1985, 94 minutes, PG

actors: Jeff Goldblum, Ed Begley Jr., Joseph Bologna, Jeffery Jones, John Byner, Michael Richards, Carol Kane, Geena Davis, Teresa Ganzel, Norman Fell.

writer/director: Rudy DeLuca

Taxonomy: Oh so 80s CRAPPY horror comedy spoof.

Plot: Two tabloid reporters are sent to Transylvania to hunt down a good Frankenstein story.

Bluntly: A young nubile Geena Davis in a skimpy vampire outfit!

Overview: Oh yes I would!

I have a rather perverse fondness for bad comedies. I don’t know why, it’s just something about films that are supposed to be funny and turn out not funny that, well, amuses me. Yeah, I’m weird. Maybe it is because I came of age during the early 80s when low budget crappy comedies were slapped together and pushed out the studio door to local theaters just about every week. We kids would go see them even if they were junk because back then it was still cheap to go to the movies. Of course the makers of these films knew very well that if they tossed in some gross humor and scantily clad babes, the teenaged boys in the audience would at least pay the $1.50 Saturday matinee price so we could talk about the flicks Monday at school.

Transylvania 6-500 is definitely one of these bad comedies. The fact that it stars people with actual talent makes it even more of a rubbernecker attraction. I have pointed out before that one of the fun things about watching b-movies is seeing actors that went on to be big stars in movies that they would no doubt want to forget. This film has at least three folks who I would bet do not list this flick on there resumes. I hate Ed Begley Jr.

So, Jack Harrison (Jeff Goldblum) and Gil Turner (Ed Begley Jr.) are reporters for ‘The Sensation’, a Weekly World News type of tabloid. The editor of The Sensation (Norman Fell), who also happens to be Gil’s father sends them to Transylvania to find Frankenstein after viewing a video shot by collage kids. By the way, the “collage kid” in the video is Michael McKean who played Lenny in Lavern & Shirley, is an alumnus of Saturday Night Live and is perhaps best known for his work in This is Spinal Tap. Gil’s loving daddy makes it clear that if they don’t give him a story, they will be fired.

The two intrepid reporters travel to Transylvania – via stock airline footage and a very obvious model train. Jack is a serious journalist who considers his current post an insult and Gil is a big dork. Gee, Ed Begley Jr. playing a big dork – what a strech! Once in Transylvania, Gil demonstrates how big of a dork he is by openly asking people if they have seen Frankenstein. The good people of Transylvania then laugh and mock Gil every chance they get.

While Gil tries his best to track down the story, Jack tries his best to make time with a hot blondThe old banana ploy. single mom named Elizabeth Ellison (Teresa Ganzel). Ms. Ganzel was an 80s TV staple. She was on any show that required a cute, well built dumb blond. Perhaps her claim to fame was that she replaced the late Carol Wayne as Johnny Carson’s Teatime Movie Lady. Although she looks great (even with 80s make-up) and her character is not as dumb as usual, her considerable figure is never shown off, which means Elizabeth is a straight nonsexy character in an unfunny comedy. Yeah, lots of viewer interest there!

Okay, this is already taking too long so I am going to try to speed things up a bit. Jack and Gil went up a hill to…no…sorry. Jack and Gil talk to an old gypsy woman who tells them that her son is a werewolf and asks then to help him. Gil is concerned, Jack thinks she is nuts.

Later a gorgeous scantily clad future Oscar winning nymphomaniacal vampire Damn you Ed Begley Jr!named Odette (Geena Davis) comes on to Gil. I just realized that I have never written the word nymphomaniacal before; and now I have written it twice! Ha! A young Geena Davis prancing around in her skimpy vampire outfit is by far the best part of this flick! In one scene Odette pulls Gil’s face into her cleavage. This is the most terrifying scene in the movie! Why? Because when I saw it I wished to be Ed Begley Jr. if only for that scene. If that ain’t terror I don’t know what is!

Jack and Gil find hints of corruption between the mayor and chief police inspector and try to get a look inside the sanatorium of mysterious Dr. Malavaqua (Joseph Belogna). Jack and Elizabeth go out on a picnic and Elizabeth’s daughter Laura gets lost in the forest. Laura is abducted by Frankenstein and during the search Jack and Gil come face to face with Frankenstein, the werewolf, a mummy and a freaky contortionist type guy.

Gil is captured and taken back to Dr. Malavaqua’s lab, where Laura is beating Frankenstein at poker. Jack finds the lab and with the help of Odette learns that Dr. Malavaqua is a nutcase while he is in his lab, but a gentle man outside of the lab.

Eventually everyone shows up at the local Wine Festival and Jack, Gil and Dr. Malavaqua explain that all of the “monsters” are really ordinary people with severe physical and mental problems that Dr. Malavaqua has been helping under the table because the mayor and chief inspector embezzled the money his clinic was getting from outside organizations. Yeah.

Jack and Elizabeth fall for each other as do Gil and Odette. Odette was suffering from pathological insecurity and pretending to be a vampire because she thinks she is ugly. Yeah.

The end of the flick sees several stories published in The Sensation with headlines like “Frankenstein lives! Reveals huge bolt!” and “Vampire sucks town dry!”

Wow! Talk about a wasted opportunity! The writer/director of this thing also co-wrote Caveman and Mal Brooks’ High Anxiety, so you would think he had learned how to make an effective comedy. Guess not.

To be absolutely fair there are some funny moments in this film. The frontpage headlines the editor of The Sensation has hanging in his office: “Man runs through Vatican nude.” “I was dead for a week and liked it.” “Wet Dreams: Are alien creatures using your body for sex while you sleep?”

He's low, she's lower.
The staff at the hotel where Jack and Gil stay are quite odd characters. Radu the caretaker (John Byner) has a love hate relationship with his goofball wife Lupi (Carol Kane). We learn that they are both masochists, Radu simply cannot refer to anyone in any way except as “Master” and Lupi is simperingly subservient to him, which he can’t stand.

The hotel bellhop Fejos (Michael Richards after Fridays but before Seinfeld) wants to be a comedian and is always pulling Kramer comes out of the closet.jokes on Gil and Jack and asking “Is good, huh?” We get a hint of Richards great odd character acting and physical humor, but all it amounts to is padding as Fejos is completely unnecessary to the story. The really stupid story.

Goldblum and Begley work well off of each other, but their lines end up sounding like a vaudeville routine that has been memorized and performed so often that the fun is long gone.
The whole thing is a shame really – but it’s kind of fun to sneer at!

Goodies:

Babeage: Just in case you have not been paying attention, GEENA DAVIS IN A SKIMPY VAMPIRE OUTFIT!!! Teresa Ganzel for you blond lovers.

Sleazeploitation: None, just stupid jokes and sight gags.

Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: The “monsters”, crazy Dr. Malavaqua, Radu and Lupi, Fejos and of course Ed Begley Jr.

Violence: Nope

Gore & FX: Nada

Great Lines:

Jack to his editor – “You ran the headline, ‘Women forced to work in rape factory’, when that was a rope factory!” The editor’s reply, “That was a typo.”
When Jack tells his editor that the Frankenstein idea is crap, the editor says, “Crap! I like crap! I love crap! I need crap! Crap is what sells newspapers!”
Jack to Gil – “You incredible asshole! We’re here five minutes and you make me the laughing stock of Transylvania!”
Radu rejects Lupi’s sexual overtures, so she tells him, “I’ll keep it warm for you!”
Jack wondering what sort of questions one asks a werewolf – “How often do you shave? Are you a loner or do you go out in a pack?”
Dr. Malavaqua to Radu and Lupi, “Shut up you low lifes!” Radu’s reply, “I am low!” Lupi, “I’m lower!”
Jack fed up with Gil upon hearing about Odette – “And now, today, a woman tries to, uh, eat your head!”
Dr. Malavaqua to his “mummy” – “Does this hurt?” (nod) “Does this hurt?” (nod) “Does this hurt?” (nod) “Does this hurt?” “Good! Everything hurts.”
Dr. Malavaqua to Odette when she says that she loves Gil – “What do you know about love nympho knees? If I didn’t have you chained to the wall, no man in town would be safe!” Odette tries to caress the Dr., “Stop that! I’m your doctor! Get against that wall!”Ed Begley Jr. must die!
Gil asks Odette to help unbind him – “Here, undo this belt.” Odette, “Oh yes!” Gil, “Not my pants! This belt, this belt!”
Moral: You can’t go back home again.

Conclusion:

Transylvania 6-5000 is a dumb, rather slow, unfunny piece of 80s junk that could have been so much better. Feeling bad about your career? Watch this flick and cheer up. If these folks can survive this, then your problems can’t be that bad.

Almost as abominable…

I had hoped that the beer I paired with Transylvania 6-5000 might save my night’s entertainment. Alas, twas not to be.

Yeti Biere

Brasserie des Cimes, France

I should have know better. When all the information you get on a bottle of beer is the name, a rather vague brewery name and the alcohol content, chances are you are not in for a taste sensation.

Well, there was more on the label, but it was just marketing flapdoodle. “From the French Alps.” “High Fermentation” Wow! So is it an ale or a lager? The label did not say, however the French have an ale tradition, so I will go with ale.

ABV: 8.00% IBU: 20 – 30 I would guess.

Color: A soft, slightly cloudy amber. Hmmm, cloudy – so there are suspended proteins? A strong wheat ale perhaps? Or a traditional light ale with a high wheat content?

Aroma: Hoppy and clean with a bit of maltyness. A very slight floral scent; clover? The floral aspect pegs this as a French beer. The French like to put herbs and flowers in their beers to enhance the aroma. Yeah, well what can I say? They’re French.

Head: White semi-persistent small bubbled head. Hmmm, wheat ales tend to have a much more robust head due to the wheat protein. So, I would say not a full wheat ale.

Taste: Sweet and slightly cloying. Smooth with a hint of sour. A hoppy finish and slight aftertaste. Not bad, but nothing to get excited about. The floral scent combined with the cloying sweetness turned me off.

Recommendation: There has been a lot of France bashing in the last couple of years and I think it is pretty stupid. No, I will not call them “Freedom Fries!” They are not even really French! “French Fries” are originally from Belgium! Anyway, Yeti Biere is not going to change Franco hater’s opinions of the land of stinky cheese. Serve this – in a glass – to your most outspoken anti-Frog friend. Stand back and watch the reaction!

Okay, well I think I have put that nasty “BigRuta never writes any negative reviews!” rumor to rest. And please note that I did it during the coveted Halloween reviews! Ha!

Remember: comments, suggestions, questions and requests alway welcome.

-BigRuta

"Heeeeey! Nice beaver!"

Posted in Uncategorized on October 7, 2006 by bigruta

Oh yeah! It’s Rocktober baby! And…uh… Sorry. I was listening to the radio. Anyway, it’s October and you know what that means! “Soon it will snow and be cold and grey and I’ll get the flu and have to shovel the driveway and it will be a pain to drive and…” Shadap you sniveling whiners! No, what I am getting at is that it is Halloween Month! That’s right – the whole month of October is a feast for those who love horror/monster/psycho/goofy movies, all things creepy (like Alice Cooper), and of course, CANnnnnDay!

Yes my minions this is indeed the first of the 2006 Halloween Duh Spot reviews! Thank you, thank you! You’re too kind!

The Day the World Got Really Screwed Up!
The Angry Beavers Halloween Special

Nickelodeon, 1998 season, episode #13, approx. 24 minutes Funny Show

voice actors: Nick Bakay (Norbert), Richard Horvitz (Daggett), Tom Kane (Oxnard Montalvo), Adrienne Barbeau (Toluca Lake), William Schallert (Dr. Cowtiki), Jonathan Haze (Mann Servante), Peter Graves (General Warning, narrator), John Byner (alien object, Mann’s normal voice)

Written by: Mitch Schauer
Storyboard by: Mitch Schauer, John Statema, Michael R. Gerard
Directed by: Patty Shinagawa

Taxonomy: Fantabeaverlus cartoon parody of b-movies.

Plot: Brothers Norbert and Daggett Beaver help their b-movie idol save the Earth from an evil alien.

Bluntly: One of the best Halloween cartoons ever made.
Alone in the dark!
Overview:

The Angry Beavers ran on Nickelodeon from 1997 to 2001. The show focused on the relationship between Norbert and Daggett Beaver; twin brothers who were kicked out of their parents lodge when a new litter came along. Why? Because as Norbert explained to Daggett, “That’s the beaver way.” So they find a river, build a damn and a swinging bachelor pad lodge and wackiness ensues. The Angry Beavers was a great cartoon that was silly enough for kids and also threw in lots of hip social and pop culture humor for the parents who would have to watch the show with their youngins.

This episode – the only one longer than the standard 11 minutes – aired in October 1998. “Norb” and “Dag” are out trick-or-treating on October 30th, the night before Halloween, because Dag is certain that they will score more candy without any competition. Norb wants to quit after the first house because the man there laughed so hard he had to be taken to the hospital. Dag begs him to try just one more house and Norb reluctantly agrees. The next house is a swanky place at the top of a hill. When they get to the gate and read the address, the beavers realize that they have found the house of their hero b-movie star Oxnard Montalvo. Or as Norbert puts it, “Our FAVE-o-rite b-movie AK-TOR: OXnard MONtaaallllVO!” I should mention the beavers Halloween costumes; Norbert is dressed as Oxnard Montalvo and Daggett is Oxnard’s nemesis The Crawling Spleen.
What a guy!
Once inside the beavers encounter Mann Servante, Oxnard’s man servant, who has been possessed by the alien that has crashed into the hillside at the back of Oxnard’s house. The Evil Mann wants to capture the beavers for his master. And to this end he uses the alien power to turn all the monster props in the house into real live monsters.

Well, soon Norb and Dag meet Oxnard himself as well as his sweetheart Toluca Lake and Dr. Cowtiki. Everything inside Oxnard’s house is drawn in the style of 50/60s horror comic books – very different than the silly style of the beavers themselves. This leads to Oxnard and friends not knowing what Norb and Dag are. They refer to them as strange little pointy creatures. When Norb and Dag inform them that they are in fact beavers, Oxnard and company look doubtful.
Hmmm
Well, soon the alien and the monsters are tearing the house down and the beavers have to help Oxnard and posse save the day. The alien gets it’s power from Norb and Dag’s overactive imaginations and actually turns everything (except the beavers) black and white! Thus begins parodies of many b-movie cliches such as the woman always falling down while running from the monster, the tough hero fighting the monster while the scientist shows instructional films and creates a super weapon, the military getting involved, stock footage and of course a happy ending.

Goodies:

Babeage: Well, Oxnard’s girlfriend is voiced by Adrienne Barbeau.

Sleazeploitation: It’s a cartoon!

Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: The alien, the b-movie monsters, Mann Servantes and of course, Norb and Dagget.

Violence: Suprisingly enough the limited violence is comic bookish – go figure!

Gore and FX: Some nice animation.

Great Lines: Yes, but they make no sense out of context and some of them require you to be an Angry Beavers fan.

Moral: An angry beaver can be pacified by giving him “CANnnnDAY!”

Conclusion: The Angry Beavers was a great show and the Halloween special episode was one of the most delightful things I have ever come across while channel surfing. The show is still being rerun on NickToons, I believe, but there are no DVDs available. So check the local TV listings or bop on over to YouTube and check out part 1 and part 2 of this fun episode. The video kind of stinks, but it is an upload of a video taped off of TV. The bad video quality kind of makes it like an old b-movie itself!

Well, we are off and running! More Halloween reviews soon, stay tuned! Oh, what about a beer review? Well it seems kind of, I don’t know, white trashy to drink beer and watch cartoons. How about rootbeer? Or better yet, you could partake of the real life inspiration for Norb and Dag’s FAVE-o-rite beverage.

-BigRuta

Remember: Comments (Leave some comments you spootheads!), questions, suggestions and requests welcome.