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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.

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"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.

"Anne Francis stars in…Oooh woo woo!…"

Posted in Uncategorized on September 14, 2006 by bigruta

Hello all you poisoned girls! Big Ruta is back and I got another boffo-socko b-movie review all lined up for ya tonight! A real sci-fi gem complete with strong heros (that ain’t too bright), scantily clad women (well one scantily clad woman), an evil genius (sort of), dumb comic relief, a damn cool robot and some pretty neato special effects! Plus the usual 50s sexism and goofy costumes. I’ll be away on vacation from September 18 to September 25, but don’t let that keep you from leaving comments!

Forbidden Planet

MGM, 1956, 99 minutes, G

Actors: Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis, Walter Pidgeon, Earl Holliman, Robby the Robot

Taxonomy: Classic 50s sci-fi (almost real science fiction) flick.

Plot: The crew of a space cruiser sent to determine the status of a scientific expedition find only one man, his daughter, their very advanced robot and … an unnamed terror!

Bluntly: One of the few great 50s sci-fi films which helped shape later sci-fi.

Overview:

Would you like to play a game? Here’s how we play; as I outline the story of Forbidden Planet you try to find as many similarities to Star Trek and Star Wars as you can. Okay? What? You would rather play a nice game of chess? Maybe later.

The valiant and capable crew of the United Planets Cruiser C57-D have just spent 378 days in hyperspace journeying from Earth to Altair. Their mission is to make contact with the crew of the Bellerophon, a scientific expedition that had landed on Altair 4 20 years ago, and act as their relief. This is a bit odd as it is made clear that the crew of C57-D are military personnel. Whatever. A quick web search reveals that the star Altair (scientific name Alpha Aquilae) is somewhere between 16.3 and 17 lightyears from Earth. So, the ship was traveling approximately 16 times the speed of light. Dang! I bet that thing’s got a Hemi! Kirk, Spock and Bones

The captain of the UPC C57-D is J.J. Adams, played by Leslie Nielsen. This was long before Nielsen became type-cast in ultra-silly comedy roles. In fact prior to Police Squad Nielsen had usually played the heavy. In Forbidden Planet he gets to try on the hero mantle and if he introduced himself as “James T. Kirk” no one would be surprised. Included in J.J.’s crew are a science officer, a medical officer, an engineer, a communications guy with an ear-piece – you get the idea. Oh yeah, and a stupid cook played by Earl Holliman with an accent that sounds like a cross between Brooklyn and Dixie. He is the obligatory completely non-funny comic relief.

When the ship comes out of hyperspace, we see the crew protected from the deceleration by force fields – neat touch. The ship slows to 0.3896 of light speed. Pardon? Oh, well that’s 72,465.6 miles/second. Still pretty dang fast! They scan the planet and find only one 20 square mile area of possible technological design. Then they receive a message from a Dr. Morbius, one of the crew of the Bellerophon. He tells them that they are in danger and must leave and that no assistance is necessary.
J.J. brings her in.
Kirk…I mean J.J. is not about to just turn around and go home. He has his orders and by gosh he’s going to carry them out! J.J. lands the UPC C57-D himself. What a guy! Did I mention that the ship is a flying saucer? Yeah. That’s what spaceships look like! Everybody knows that! The landing sequence is well done. The effects are colorful and must have been quite impressive in 1956. I have read on the web that these effects were done by Disney, but have been unable to confirm this. In other words, I’m too lazy. The ship uses a force field to cushion the landing, but in a nice touch, it wobbles as it settles to the ground – remember J.J. is landing her manually.

Once the ship is down we learn that Altair 4 has 4.7 times the oxygen content of Earth and the gravity is 0.897. I assume they mean that Altair’s gravity is 0.897 that of Earth, but they never clearly state that. There is some other scientific technobabble made even funnier because it is 50s scientific technobabble, but the effort is appreciated. The science officer guy has a little handheld gizmo that provides him with all this data. Remember that thing about the oxygen content, we will bring that up later.

J.J. and crew are soon met by a robot who tells them that he speaks 188 languages and has been sent to bring them to Dr. Morbius. This is Robby the robot – or Robbie depending on who you ask. Robby quickly became one of the most recognizable sci-fi icons of our time. You can still buy little toy Robby/Robbie the robots and their knockoffs to this day. The cook’s reaction to Robby, “Is it male or female?” No doubt about it, the guy’s a laugh riot!
Morbius and Robby
Once at the compound J.J., science guy and doc meet Dr. Morbius. Dr. Morbius is a philologist, an expert at word origins and meanings. Morbius tells them that he “tinkered together” Robby. J.J. seems incredulous and says that Robby is, “beyond the combined physical resources of all Earth’s scientists!” When J.J. and company ask if Morbius is afraid of Robby, Morbius demonstrates that Robby is incapable of harming rational beings. He tells Robby to take J.J.’s gun, which Robby describes as, “A simple blaster.” and shoot J.J. with it. Robby then short circuits.

Next Morbius explains what happened to the rest of the Bellerophon’s crew. They were victims of, “some dark terrible incomprehensible planetary force” that tore them limb from limb and vaporized the ship when they tried to escape. Only Morbius and his wife survived, then not long after that his wife died. Since then the force has not returned and he has led his life in quiet study with Robby to help him. He wishes to remain away from other people.
Hello boys!
Then suddenly a young woman appears. Dr. Morbius sheepishly introduces her as Altaira, his daughter. Altaira is played by the young blond and cute Anne Francis. Altaira meets the men and likes what she sees! The guys have not seen a woman in over a year, so they are quite happy to meet Altaira whom they soon refer to as Alta. Yep, it is at least 250 years in the future, but there are no women in the spacefleet. Ah the 50s! No doubt the guys also appreciate Alta’s diaphanous clothing.

Alta was born after the horrible disaster that killed the rest of the Bellerophon’s crew. Her mother died soon after her birth, so the only relationships she has ever had are with her father and her animal friends. The animals seem to recognize Alta and enjoy being with her. She introduces J.J. and company to two of her friends, a deer and a tiger. Both are completely placid toward Alta and each other. Dr. Morbius says Alta has always had a way with animals. J.J. rightly thinks that this is a strange situation.

Alta has reached the age where she is interested in men, but she is an innocent. She swims in the nude and does not even know what a bathing suit is. She thinks the idea is silly when J.J. explains it to her.
In the 50s, this was dang hot!
It does not take long for members of the UPC C57-D crew to start hanging around Alta. The science guy / executive officer even pulls the now classic and corny scene of explaining kissing to her! Soon enough though J.J. shows interest and the other man backs off. J.J. is a bit of a prude and there are several amusing scenes where he tries to explain the adverse effects Alta is having on his crew.

Eventually the “terrible incomprehensible planetary force” damages the ship and kills a member of the crew. J.J. tells Morbius that he must inform Earth of the situation and get instructions. In order to do this they will have to cannibalize the ship to build a transmitter. What!? They have a ship that can travel at 16X the speed of light, but they can’t communicate with Earth without tearing the ship apart? Bad kitty!

Meanwhile ‘Cookie’ has convinced Robby to synthesize some bourbon for him. Robby asks, “Will 60 gallons be sufficient?” Yep, that’s a knee slapper alright!

Morbius warns J.J. that the force will attack again and the next attack will be worse – he can visualize it. J.J. orders a perimeter defense system put up around the ship in case the force returns. Well, you knew it would didn’t ya? Yep it sure does! It manages to make it through the force field and the 3 billion electron volt neutron disintegrator beams and kill 3 more crew before retreating. During the attack we see an outline of the usually invisible force monster.

Okay time for a technobabble reality check! 3 billion electron volts! Sounds powerful don’t it? It’s not. At all. An electron volt is a very tiny unit of energy. A volt is a unit of electrical potential. They are two very different things. 1 electron volt = 1.602 E -10 joules. A joule is another standard measure of energy. A 100 watt lightbulb burning for 1 hour produces 360,000 joules which equals 2.2 E 24 electron volts. 3 billion electron volts would be 3.0 E 9 electron volts. Gee, that there planetary force thing must be awfully strong to survive a storm of Hellfire like that! If all that is over your head, simply realize that the next time you swat a mosquito you are delivering vastly more than 3 billion electron volts of energy.

J.J. confronts Morbius who then tells him of the Krell. They were an incredibly powerful alien race who lived on Altair 4. Morbius says the Krell were at least one million years ahead of mankind. Robby was built with the Krell knowledge that Morbius gained from using what he calls the ‘Plastic Educator.’ This device can double ones IQ, but is very dangerous and could be fatal. The Krell could use their technology to make thoughts visible and even substantial! Morbius has been studying the Krell technology all these years. He shows J.J. some of the underground facility and we are treated to scenes of gigantic computer like machinery that make up a huge portion of the interior of the planet. These scenes are still quite impressive and make one think of the scenes on the Deathstar in Star Wars. Morbius says that the Krell were working towards having a civilization with no ‘physical instrumentality.’ In other words – pure thought. A brief glimpse

So, there is the set up for the climax. Needless to say more weird things happen, the force monster attacks again, Alta screams and falls for J.J., and J.J. and crew realize that they need to get a look at this ‘Plastic Educator’ thing to help them get out of this mess. What happens to Morbius? Alta? J.J.? Robby? Dumbass Cookie? The force monster? Do they survive? What about the Krell? Do J.J. and Alta ever get jiggy with it? You’ll have to see the movie and find out for yourselves! Nyuk, nyuk, nuyk!

Goodies:

Babeage: Sure the clothes and skinny dipping is pretty lame to modern viewers, but there is no denying that the young Anne Francis was quite a cutie.

Sleazeploitation: Come on! It was the 50s! Well, I suppose one could draw some rather uncomfortable conclusions about Altaira and her father, but that is not even hinted at in the movie, you pervs!

Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: The planetary force monster is a very frightening concept when we finally learn just what it is and this idea was used in later sci-fi films. Of course as with all
sci-fi cinema, this idea was old in science fiction literature by 1956. I guess Robby the robot goes here too even though he is a cool character. Cookie is definitely a freak in my book.

Violence: Blaster fire and rampaging planetary force monster.

Gore & FX: No gore – again, it was the 50s. Some beautiful sets and landscape matt painting effects. The force fields are done well as is the blaster firing which takes the form of short spurts of energy not complete beams and reminds one of machine gun fire – like in Star Wars.

Great Lines:

Opening narration – “In the final decade of the 21st century, men and women in rocketships landed on the Moon. By 2200 AD they had reached the other planets of our solar system.”
That’s what’s wrong with the world today, technology is just developing too fast!

Cookie – “Nothing to do but throw rocks and tin cans and we have to bring our own tin cans!”

Robby on the subject of oxygen – “I never use it myself, sir. It promotes rust.” Robby explaining to Altaira why he responded slowly to her call – “I was giving myself an oil job.”

Dr. Morbius responding to J.J.’s doubts about the benefits of the Plastic Educator – “It’s all right, sir. A commanding officer does not need a brain, just a good loud voice, hum?” Dr. Morbius reacting to the death of one of J.J.’s officers – “He was warned! Now he has paid! Let him be buried with the other victims of human greed and folly!”

Altaira upon meeting J.J. and his two officers – “I’ve been so terribly wild to meet a young man, and now three of them at once! You’re lovely Doctor, and the two end ones are unbelievable!”

The Science / Executive Officer tells Altaira – “Any girl or woman that lets him [J.J.] get her alone in any way…” He shakes his head in a ‘bad news’ sort of gesture.

J.J. upon catching Altaira’s kissing lesson – “Well it so happens that I am in command of 18 competitively selected, super perfect physical specimens with an average age of 24.6 who have been locked up in hyperspace for 378 days! It would have served you right if I hadn’t…and then he…!” That’s right J.J., she was asking for it! Love that 50s sexism!

Moral: Listen to your elders! – OR – Don’t play with other children’s toys.

Conclusion:

If you have any interest in sci-fi films at all you should see Forbidden Planet. It paved the way for the dominant American sci-fi to follow. If you don’t catch the Star Trek elements, you just are not paying attention! This is a classic 50s sci-fi film with wonderful effects, good acting and a decent story. If none of that turns you on, then at least watch it simply to see where that “classic robot” design came from and to see Leslie Nielsen as a staunch hero type.

Some trivia: Forbidden Planet was one of the first American films to have an all electronic soundtrack. Louis and Bebe Barron are listed in the credits as providing ‘electric tonalities.’

Oh yeah, that whole thing about Altair 4 having 4.7 times the oxygen content of Earth; seems like a bad place to be shooting blasters and causing electrical circuits to short. All, that oxygen plus hot blaster beams and open sparks…?

This is the first film reviewed at The Duh Spot to earn the title Sci-Fi Classic. Highly recommended.

Far superior to the Disney film…

I was strolling through my local beer store and thinking what would go well with a bit of classic 50s sci-fi goodness. When before my eyes there appeared a black hole!
Another fun label.
Weyerbacher Black Hole Ale

Weyerbacher Brewing Company, Inc.
Easton, PA, USA

The label call hails this as “A new dimension in beer.” I would not go that far, but this may be one Black Hole you would not mind getting near! The brewer’s intent was to make a dark, semi-rich yet bitter and dry ale. Perhaps not as dry as Porter and also not as rich as Stout. In my humble opinion, the folks at Weyerbacher got it just right.

ABV: 7.00%, IBU: I would guess between 30 and 40.

Color: A very dark opaque caramel brown – almost, but not quite as dark as a stout.

Aroma: Rich yet soft with hints of toffee, coffee and chocolate and a tiny dry hop tang.

Head: Foamy fine bubbled nugat colored semi-persistent head. Just like many stouts, there are the tiny nitrogen bubbles that flow down the inside of the glass.

Taste: Smooth, but not too rich, nutty with the roasted malt imparting coffee and hazelnut flavors. This semi-creamy start moves to a roasty middle and then to a gently bitter slightly dry finish. There is a bitter dry aftertaste that lasts several minutes after you swallow.

Recommendation: Weyerbacher Black Hole Ale is a smooth medium bodied dark ale that will please porter and stout fans alike. It would also make a good introduction to these more robust English styles of ale. With Autumn getting closer every day, Weyerbacher seems to have things covered; you may recall that this is the same brewery that produced last years Halloween Imperial Pumpkin Ale. Weyerbacher has several beers that I am eager to try now that I have tasted two winners! Recommended.

Well, I’m off to my little cabin in the woods. Halloween is only a few weeks away, so get those movie recommendations in to me soon! See you in a week!

-Big Ruta

Comments, suggestions, questions and requests welcome.

"So where were the Spiders? While the fly tried to break our bones?"

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27, 2006 by bigruta

Howdy film freaks! Big Ruta here after a long unexpected break. Renovation are fun! Really! Loss of electricity is a blast! I won’t bore you with all the gory details, but I will say that this post was originally intended to be a companion piece to h&m’s review. That should give you some idea of the delay involved. To make up for this post being late I decided to make it a big one! Lot of fun ahead! Sadly, Ida Sue said she could not take any more critter flicks and ran off with a guy who does custom trailer detailing. I’ll miss her – she was a live one! Good luck to them, no hard feelings. Anyone who got the whole Ida Sue thing – you are true b-movie fans!

Giant Spider Invasion

1975, 84 minutes, PG

actors: Alan Hale Jr., Steve Brodie, Barbara Hale, Robert Easton, Leslie Parrish, Diane Lee Hart
director: Bill Rebane

Taxonomy: Cheapo home-grown giant critter flick.

Plot: Giant spiders create havoc amongst northern rednecks when they emerge from a black hole that crashes into rural Wisconsin.

Bluntly: Absolutely need to see The Skipper’s chesthair? This film’s got ya covered!

Overview:

Now this is a gen-yoo-wine classic! Oh yeah! A cheap as dirt flick with a cast full of b-movie and cult TV folks shot in and around Harrison and Gleason, Wisconsin, U S of A! Wisconsin native Robert Easton cooked up a – ahem – story and got Bill Rebane to direct. I have a feeling this will not be the last time these guy’s names turn up at The Duh Spot! They got the movie made and it was apparently distributed to drive-ins and TV at roughly the same time. Ain’t ‘Merica great!?

The flick starts out, as all great cheap drive-in flicks do, with real crappy synth music and cheap titles. Then we get to see a black hole fall to earth on a farm in rural Wisconsin. Cool effects? That would be no. The black hole effect resembles a lava lamp.

So after that intro, we meet the cast of characters we become oh so interested in during the rest of the flick. There are three main groups of characters:

1. The Kesters: money hungry Dan (Robert Easton), his hottie boozey wife Ev (Leslie Parrish) and her teen lil’ sis Terry (Diane Lee Hart). Later we meet Dan’s cousin the money hungry and lecherous Billy. The Kesters are a fine and loving example of northern white trash. Dan runs what I guess is a dairy farm, though it is never clearly stated, and he and Ev spend time bitching at each other. Ev is a mature hot blond who has turned to the bottle after the death of her baby. Terry is a cutie who’s only in the film for flashes of skin and to give Billy (and lets face it – Dan) something to leer at. Guess who’s farm the black hole smacks into!

2. The sheriff and local police. Sheriff Jeff Jones is played by none other than Alan Hale Jr.! For those of you who may not recognize that name, Mr. Hale just happened to create one of the finest TV characters of all time – Jonas Grumby! Still don’t get it? He was “The Skipper” on Gilligan’s Island! So what does The Skipper do as sheriff in Giant Spider Invasion? Does he figure out how to stop the spiders? No. Does he protect the locals from the crazed beasts? Not really. Does he sit around with his shirt open way to far down his chest, do dumb phone gags and tell prune jokes? Damn straight! The very first line in the movie is Sheriff Jones saying, “Hi little buddy!” That’s the level of humor we are dealing with here.

3. The scientists. Dr. J. R. Vance comes to Wisconsin from “NASA.” So he came from Texas? Florida? California? Washington DC? No idea, Dr. Vance is just from NASA. Unless he is from the Bahamas. Given his scientific skills, that would be more likely. Dr. Vance meets up with local professor Dr. Jenny Langer. Ooooh! A woman scientist! How progressive! And sure enough there is the same old stupid awkward introduction as Dr. Vance assumes that Dr. Langer would be a man. Okay folks, this shtick was old even in 1975. Dr. Vance and Dr. Langer set out to solve the enigma of a local gamma ray / X-ray source – oh and to find out what happened to a fully loaded B-52 that dropped off radar and disappeared. Details shmetails!

Well, grumpy old Dan gets grumpier when he finds out that some of his cows have been violently killed. And there seems to be a big crater on his pasture land! Dan takes home some funny round stones he finds near the crater. What will he do about the cows? Butcher them and sell the meat to the local bar & grill, what else?

What Dan should be grumpy about, but ain’t is that his wife is flirting with and flashing thigh at her teen sister’s boyfriend! Why does Dan put up with this? Maybe he’s just a progressive kind of guy, this was the 70’s after all. Nah! He’s having an affair with the local bimbo!

Dan and Ev fire zingers at each other until he cracks open one of the round rocks and finds it full of diamonds! Gee, all of a sudden Ev is all lovey-dovey, hmmm. What neither of them notice is that a tarantula was in the rock too. I would have seen it first thing, but I guess the lure of easy money blinded the Kesters.

Well no sooner than you can say, “Big hairy spiders!”, Dan and Ev collect as many of the rocks as they can. Oh and they hide the body of a dead neighbor they find on their land. Can’t let no one else get the magic rocks now can we? Eventually Ev is claiming to have seen big hairy spiders in the house, but Dan thinks that is just the booze talking. Then one of those great b-movie moments happens! Ev starts adding all the ingredients for a Bloody Mary into a blender and…you can see it coming can’t you?…a tarantula plops into the blender while her back is turned! She blends up the drink and takes a big hit! Spit-take baby! Got to love the spit-take!

During all this Dr. Vance and Dr. Langer are throwing around physics jargon like snowballs. Gamma rays, x-rays, black holes, worm holes, higher dimensions, and all the while Einstein is spinning in his grave. In one scene, the good doctors are in a collage lab getting some data from a computer. Oh yeah, a mid-70’s computer! Huge buttons, tape reels, superfluous lights and a 3 inch wide raster printout! In the background there is a huge teaching aid of a slide rule! They finally use satellite data to find the energy anomaly. Why, it’s coming from a local farm!

Meanwhile Dan has gone to see his cousin Billy who runs a gem and mineral shop in the city. Billy tells Dan that the round rocks are geodes and his diamonds are industrial grade and that he would need a barrel full to make him rich. Dan seems to think this is just fine!

Back at the homestead we are shown what we already guessed, the geodes are popping open by themselves and there is a tarantula in all of them – they’re eggs! Dun dun daa!

Finally we get to see the giant spider and it is a sight to behold! According to web sources (what else?) this thing was built over the frame of an old VW bug and had several people in it to work the legs!

Next a little more flesh as we see Ev tormented by spiders as she sleeps. She eventually runs out into the shed – nice ass Ev! – and gets munched by the giant spider. Dang! At least she was nice to look at!

Dan comes home and goes looking for more geodes, oh and Ev, and gets eaten by the giant spider. This is a cool scene! He is drawn up into the spider’s mouth (Huh? Nevermind, just go with it!) and we see literally gallons of blood spill out! Then the spider spits out Dan’s bones! That would have made some kids stop necking at the drive-in! Well, maybe. At least there would have been some horn honking!

Two Kesters gone, two to go! Billy shows up the next day to talk to Dan about the diamonds. Dan and Ev are not there, but Terry is and Billy puts the moves on her! Terry kicks Billy out of the house. On his way home, Billy is attacked by some baby spiders and than he runs into the giant spider’s web! He pops the car into reverse and speeds off, but the lil’ spiders are still hungry. He runs into the pumps and building at a gas station and ends up roasted when he can not manage to break a window and get free. Seriously, this takes way too much time and makes the whole scene ever funnier!

Next poor nubile little Terry in her undies with the crack of her ass showing is terrorized by the giant spider who has crawled up onto the house! Does she die? Not sure, I had to take a potty break at this point and since this flick was on broadcast TV I could not pause it. Ah well – here is a great reason for you to hunt down this movie!

The giant spiders get sick of picking off individuals and hoof it over to the Gleason Days festival for some serious chow! We see the good folks of Gleason playing games and eating corn on the cob and BBQ chicken in a wonderfully obvious bit of stock fair footage. Then the spiders strike and people scream and run and get caught in webs and eaten and stepped on and run over by panic stricken drivers who’s cars eventually crash and burst into flames. The the spiders move on down the road back toward the black hole.

Sheriff Jones calls in the National Guard (can a small town sheriff do that?) and we see some townsfolk get accidentally shot by guardsmen. This was 1975. Kent State was only five years ago at the time. All this and political commentary too! Hot damn! No wonder this flick was ignored at the Oscars! Fight the power!

Dr. Vance and Dr. Langer, who seem to have some sort of awkward romance starting (ugh!) realize that if a neutron bomb could be dropped on the black hole, it might destroy it! Huh? I said go with it! Right before that happens a deputy empties his gun into a giant spider and when that does nothing…yep! he throws the gun at the spider! Then we all cheer as the spider eats him.

Well Dr. Vance gets on the phone and gets a helicopter to drop a small neutron bomb on the crater on the Kester farm. Damn, them NASA guys got power! I did not even know helicopters could drop nuclear weapons. Live and learn.

We get more great effects as the black hole goes boom! To be exact, we see an explosion in reverse. Then all the spiders turn into melting ice cream, Dr. Langer kisses Dr. Vance, the end.

Goodies:

Babeage: Leslie Parrish! Yummy! She was Daisy Mae in Lil’ Abner, on Star Trek and Batman, The Wild Wild West, and too many others to count. A true cult hottie. Diane Lee Hart was in a few exploitation flicks in the 70s.

Sleazeploitation: No nudity, but the lecherous misogynist incest implications are stronger than spider silk!

Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: Tarantulas (kind of cute really), a goofy giant spider VW contraption, and of course Alan Hale Jr.

Violence: Not much shown.

Gore and F/X: One blended tarantula, a lot o’ fake blood and a few unnecessary explosions. Plus the lava lamp black hole thing.

Great Lines:

Ev to Dan – “Sometimes the only way I know you are alive is when I hear you on the toilet!”

Dan to Ev – “You’re so dumb you wouldn’t know rabbit turds from Rice Krispies!”

Dr. Langer talks about a, “gamma ray shower.” Say what? Also, “An amazingly potent ground level x-ray source!” Huh!? And, “The x-ray shower came from the ground up!” I give up.

Sheriff Jones – “I used to take physics, but I find prunes do a better job for me.”

Dr. Langer: – “Looks like our black hole just turned into a doorway to Hell!”

Sheriff Jones – “Ever see the movie Jaws? This thing makes that shark look like a goldfish!” Oh good move! Mention a vastly better giant critter flick!

Moral: Black holes striking the earth equals diamonds aplenty! – or – Giant spiders from space are attracted to cheese producing regions.

Conclusion:

Giant Spider Invasion is cheap and dumb and a little sleazy. And gobs of fun! The giant spider prop looks silly, but you have got to give them credit for trying! The best part of the flick? Simple, the flesh on display! As I noted above, no actual nudity but the tease factor is high and none to subtle! What could have made this a better movie? Replace everyone except Alan Hale Jr. and Leslie Parrish with the rest of the cast from Gilligan’s Island! Think of it! The scientists could be Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer (Mr. and Mrs. Howell), Russell Johnson (The Professor) could be Dan, Bob Denver (Gilligan) could be Billy and the deputy – so we could see him die twice!, Tina Louise (Ginger) could be Ev – wouldn’t you pay big money to see Ginger puke up a Tarantula Mary?, and of course Dawn Wells (Mary Ann Summers) could be Terry – Mary Ann running around in her undies with the crack of her ass hanging out! Leslie Parrish could replace the less attractive actress who played the bimbo Dan was fooling around with. The best part is, several of these actors are dead! So we could just use computer imaging from their old stuff to morph them into the film and not have to pay anyone! It would be a monster blockbuster I tell you! Hollywood is already doing remakes of 70s cult flicks and old TV shows! Get Roland Emmerich on the phone! He’ll jump at this shit in a minute!

I’m goin’ back ta Brooklyn…

And now for something completely different! Well, not really. The Duh Spot’s first ever book review! Thank you! Thank you! You’re beautiful! I love you all! And I mean that!

The Brewmaster’s Table, Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food.

Harper Collins, 2003, 372 pages, color and black and white photos, ISBN #: 0-06-000570-X

By: Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster, Brooklyn Brewery

Taxonomy: Great entry level beer primer.

Plot: Real Beer – what is it and how to pair it with food.

Bluntly: READ THIS BOOK!

Overview:

The Brewmaster’s Table is a wonderful introduction to the history and appreciation of beer. The author is a brewmaster at one of America’s best craft breweries. He labels himself a great drinker and a great eater, and stresses that the emphasis should be on quality in both cases.

The book is presented in three parts. Part One: The Basics answers the question, ‘What is beer?’ and then goes on to discuss the history and lore of beer and brewing. Part Two: Brewing Traditions covers the major beer styles of: Lambic, Wheat Beer, British Ale, Belgian Ale, Czech-German Lager and American Craft Brewing. Sound familiar? Mr. Oliver covers these styles in language the non-beer snob will understand and throws in plenty of humorous anecdotes about his own beer education. Sure not every beer style is covered – no corn beer or other Latin traditions – but these are the major styles. Part Three: Last Word where things like glassware, storage and the all important beer/food chart are presented.

Goodies:

Learn: What beer, Grapenuts, malt vinegar and scotch have in common! How the art of brewing created the concept of the magic wand! Why beer is vastly better with desserts than wine – especially chocolate! Why so many great brewers were monks!

See: Beautiful pictures of the art and craft of brewing, the people who make beer and the places where they make it!

Understand: Why Real Beer is better and mass market beer is crap!

Conclusion: This is a great book. Mr. Oliver is a fine writer who entertains while he enlightens. I particularly liked the accounts of his many conflicts with sommeliers! If you want to learn more about beer and how to enjoy it to it’s best with food, then give this book a try. You will not be disappointed!

Oh yeah – he thinks quite highly of The Great Lakes Brewing Company which was founded the same year as The Brooklyn Brewery!

And to drink while you read? Why how about a couple craft brews from The Brooklyn Brewery!

Brooklyn Lager and Brooklyn Brown Ale

The Brooklyn Brewery, #1 Brewers Row, 79 North 11th Street, Brooklyn, New York, USA

Brooklyn Lager is labeled as ‘Pre-Prohibition Beer.’ It is a Vienna style lager that has the novelty of being dry hopped for added zing! Brooklyn Brown Ale is labeled as ‘The All American Beer.’ This reflects the fact that prior to the 20th century American Brown Ales, based on English Brown Ales, were the most popular style of beer in the United States.

ABV: 5.20% and 5.60% respectively

Brooklyn Lager is a warm amber in color and the aroma lets you in on the dry hopping. The beer forms a nice persistent white head and is very refreshing with a nice crisp hoppy bitter finish.

Brooklyn Brown Ale is a rich roasty brown color and the roasted malts come thorough in the aroma. The head is a rich nugat color and the beer has a wonderful combination of sweet and bitter flavors with the sweet starting off and moving to the roasty center and finally finishing slightly dry and bitter.

These are the only two Brooklyn Brewery beers I have had the pleasure of tasting. Unfortunately, Brooklyn Brewery beer can be a challenge to find round these parts. I first had these beers at a local bar & grill that prides itself on having a large beer selection. Then when I had a 90 minute layover at Newark Airport, I was able to sample these beers on draft at the Brooklyn Brewery Brewpub. The beer was worth the wait for my flight!

If you can find Brooklyn Brewery beers in your area you should feel lucky. Highly recommended.

Say it loud, say it proud!

Penn & Teller: Bullshit!

Showtime, 2003 to present. 30 minutes.

Yeah, I know, I am way behind the times as far as this show goes. I had heard that it was a cool show, but I live in an HBO house. We ain’t got no Showtime round these here parts! So, I had not seen this fine program. Then, like an angel of mercy there came Google Video.

The show stars the comic/magic team of Penn Jillet and Teller. If you have never seen them before, Penn is the big guy with glasses and a pony-tail who screams alot and Teller is the quiet one. Teller, in fact, does not speak. That’s okay because Penn has no problem telling you just what is on his mind. I got hooked on Penn and Teller on Letterman in the 80s.

So, the show is called Bullshit! and what is it about? Well, lets just say that the exclamation point is not superfluous. In this tight, savvy, very unpolitically correct and damn funny half hour show P&T do a better job of ripping apart cultural and political crapola than 60 Minutes ever has! The thing that makes this show so much better than the network newshour shows is that they do not even try to be objective. Fairness is attempted, but they are here to vanquish the stupid and don’t take prisoners!

To give you a taste of some of the subjects examined on Bullshit!: UFOs and Alien Abduction, Conspiracy Theories, Creationism, Gun Control, Recycling, 12 Step Programs, PETA and Bottled Water. Quite a variety huh? Just when you think they are leftys, they swing to the right, but mostly they represent people with working brains.

If you have Showtime and have not given this show a chance, please do so. If you do not have Showtime, use the link above.

Remember, if you are not a critical thinker, some cheating bastard wins – again!

*****

Well, that’s it folks! Hope you all had a great summer! That reminds me! Halloween will be here before we know it, so give me some suggestions for this year’s Halloween movie reviews!

Have fun and drink Real Beer!

-BigRuta

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