The Most Pagan Christmas Special You Will Ever See

The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus (1985), based on the book by L. Frank “OZ” Baum, is one of the few movies that, if I catch it on television, I will call my friends and yell, “DUDE! HAVE YOU SEEN THIS SHIT?!?!?!?!?!”

Other movies that I place in that category are mostly weirdo foreign horror movies like “the Beyond” or “House” (the Japanese one).

So that should tell you something.

It’s not that “The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus” is that weird, because there are tons of fantasy films out there that will have you scratching your head quicker than a cat can lick his ass, it’s the context of L&AoSC that make it weird.

If this wasn’t a Christmas special, one of the last bastions of good old Puritan American values, and if it wasn’t made by Rankin/Bass, the “Frosty” and “Rudolph” people, it wouldn’t be so strange.

But, it is a Christmas special.

And, it was made by Rankin/Bass.

I don’t remember the first time I saw it, but it has always been one of the ones that is kinda hard to catch on TV, for obvious reasons. I just know that I grew up with these images in my head of weird pagan forest gods, mixed up with Santa Claus and Christmas for some reason.

From what I’ve gathered, it was out of print for years. VHS tapes of it were going for well over $100, alluding to the fact that there were probably a lot of other people like me out there who vaguely remembered it and would pay exorbitant amounts of money to have their memories confirmed.

In fact, I purchased the dvd of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” thinking it was L&AoSC. It was not. Good, yes, but it was not the esoteric memory validation I was looking for.

Nowadays, you can easily find it on dvd on amazon, b/w “Nestor, the Long- Eared Christmas Donkey”, which is also a rare Rankin/Bass Xmas gem, but isn’t nearly as eccentric as L&AoSC. If you’ve seen the Don Bluth Christmas classic “The Small One”, then you kinda know what Nestor is all about.

You can also get the book on amazon and on Kindle FOR FREE.

Now that you know where you can get it and watch it yourself, preferably not while on the goofballs if you value your sanity, we’ll get to the main program. You can follow along with me in your book….

santa claus 0Before we go any further, I want to say that if a stoner rock/metal song could somehow be personified by a Christmas special, it would come out as L&AoSC. In fact, I am seriously considering making a tribute video with some random stoner song.

Look at that font! Is this a Christmas special or the new Electric Wizard album? Is this a Christmas Special or a new season of Game of Thrones? You get the idea. I want this font on my computer so bad, I’d be willing to watch “Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey” at least one more time, to get it.

santa claus 1“The Forest of Burzee: An Age Ago”

The film starts in the ancient mythical Forest of Burzum. Errrrr… I mean, Burzee.

I really can’t get over that font. There will probably be a lot of moments in this breakdown where I just kinda geek out for a minute about how cool something looks. Get used to it.

The Forest of Burzee is a place where the Immortals live. It borders on the mortal world, but it is also separate, and no mortal can enter it.

santa claus 2This is Tingler. He is an immortal and is kind of a messenger/trickster kind of character. His main deal is that he can talk to anyone because he knows every language, even the languages of the animals.

Sometimes I wish I could converse with my cat, but then I think it’s really for the best that I don’t know what animals think of me. My cat probably thinks I should lose some weight, shave, and scoop his litter box more than twice a year.

Moving on…

santa claus 3This is the Great God Ak. The Great Woodsman. Chief Asshole of the Forest of Burzee.

Besides Santa, Ak is the main character. And how could he not be? Just look at him! Giant beard, antlers for a hat. I wish I was Ak. He is both good and fearsome.

santa claus 4Here Ak is telling Tingler to summon the other Immortals. They must have a meeting to discuss bestowing the one and only “Mantle of Immortality” on Santa Claus, because Santa is about to die.

Firstly, the “Mantle of Immortality” sounds like some fat loot. The kind of loot you may find when you beat the final boss of a video game, but since you just beat the game, the loot is basically useless.

Secondly, this special is all based around Santa Claus dying. That is some heavy duty shit for the target market for this special, which I assume isn’t mid-30’s grown men with dumb blogs.

santa claus 5This is the Queen of the Forest of Burzee. She is a minor character, and possibly banging the Great Ak. I can’t remember her name, but I felt like she should be included because she looks pretty damn cool. Here, she is all like, “Santa Claus is a mortal! Don’t do it!”

Like most men, Ak doesn’t listen and summons the Immortals anyway.

santa claus 6And here they come….

Most of these don’t ever even have a word of dialogue, but they are all just so awesome looking, you have to see them.

Such is the case with this one. Goddess of Something or Other. Probably Water.

santa claus 7Here comes ol’ Grandfather Shroomeater. This guy is wearing clothes made of mushrooms, is carrying a mushroom, and is so stoned he can’t even open his eyes.

If you think I’m reading too much into that, check out what happens next:

santa claus 8He shoots some kind of shroomjuice, or mist, out of his mushroom scepter…

santa claus 9Which goes all over this little gnome/elf guy, whose eyes get all dilated and he passes out. I am not making this up. That is seriously what happens.

I guess by the time this was made (1985, 21 years after Rudolph), Rankin/Bass was just like, “Screw it, we’re gonna have gnomes gettin’ high in this one.”

santa claus 10Here’s my cameo. The nose is a prosthetic. I had to bring my costume from home. Rankin/Bass didn’t have a lot of money by this point. The hat is a grill that I turned upside down and covered in tinfoil.

That’s not really me.

It’s the God of Eating Chicken Wings & Drinking Beer Every Day. An important role in the Forest of Burzee, but not in this special, because I don’t think he ever opens his mouth.

santa claus 11This muhfugger right here. He is the “Commander of the Wind Demons”. If there is a bad guy among the Immortals, I guess he is it. But really, I think he’s a sweetie at heart. He’s like some black metal dude in corpsepaint that, when you meet him, he’s really just some sweet computer geek that played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons in middle school. I should be in a black metal band.

Anyway, he is one righteous looking puppet. Is he supposed to look like a Fall leaf? Maybe so. Look at Tingler! He doesn’t want anything to do with that pointy-head rascal.

santa claus 12I don’t know who these two birds are. I’m just including them for eye candy. One of them has what looks to be an icicle, and the other one has a Christmas tree or something. These are probably the baddest two in the bunch, like when you see a blind guy in an anime movie. Speaking of, I’m bringing back the word “Japanimation”. So these two weirdos are like blind guys in a Japanimation movie: don’t mess with ’em.

santa claus 13Slug guy. Possibly related to the dancer in Jabba’s palace that gets fed to the Rancor.

I also just noticed that every one of these Immortals have their eyes closed! Was ol’ Grandfather Shroomeater dusting everyone with his Goofy Juice behind the curtain before Call-Outs? Probably. These are Immortals, they don’t have to work tomorrow.

santa claus 14Last, and probably least, is this guy who looks like a castaway from the Smurfs. I would approve of him, simply due to his beard, if he hadn’t shaved his moustache off. I hate the Amish beard.

santa claus 15To me, this is one of the most iconic shots of the whole film. A whole metal album could be written just about this one shot alone.

If you are sitting at this table, late at night on a full moon in the Forest of Burzee, you are officially a somebody. Like, if this same meeting were happening in a different dimension, Ak might be replaced with Dracula and Frankenstein and the Wolfman would have been coming down the stairs high as Bobby Brown.

These are the chiefs of the chiefs. And they’re gathered here to decide whether Santa(!) should live or die.

santa claus 16“I have gathered you all here to decide whether Santa should live or die.”

See? Told you.

santa claus 17Look at that mofo right there. The one in the middle wearing a tree trunk on his head. I wanna hang out with that guy. Slug God and Goldust (on the right) would probably be lame, but Tree Trunk Mask knows how to party. Slug God probably just wants to get high, hang on the couch, and watch old episodes of “the Young & the Restless”. Goldust is just into too much weird shit, in a bad way, for me to hang with.

santa claus 18“As Commander of the Wind Demons, and as the only one here who could kick everyone else’s ass, I say Santa should die like all the other mortals!”

Ak sez, “You may be right, but let me tell you about my man Santa Claus…”

santa claus 19“I found him in the snow. Having just been dropped there by someone in the middle of nowhere.”

santa claus 20“After thinking long and hard about what might be best for this manbaby, I gave him to a lioness.”

santa claus 21“Great God Woodsman Antlerhead Ak, what the devil is a baby???”

santa claus 22“Let me sing you a song about it.”

In this shot, Ak is singing about how the Immortals don’t know what a baby is because they have always been as they are now. Look at that majestic sumbitch.

santa claus 23“IGOTABABYIGOTABABYIGOTABABYIGOTABABYIGOTABABY!!!!!!!!”

Ak’s song about babies drives this she-elf into a Maternal Instinct Overload and she flips her green wig and steals the baby from the lioness and runs into the Forest of Burzee with it.

Now, friends, I realize that to an Immortal, time must seem like nothing. But somehow here, Ak’s song in the present about babies is so powerful that not only does it send Elfgirl into a baby-stealing frenzy, but it somehow melds past and present. Wasn’t this whole meeting about whether Santa should be allowed to die? How did she go back in time to swipe the manspawn from the lioness? This may be a plothole, or it could just be that the Shroom Mist is finally peaking.

santa claus 24Peter Nook: “Great Beardface Antlerskull God Ak! A lioness is raising hell in the forest!”

santa claus 25“WHERE’S MY BABY????”

santa claus 26Ak: “What the fuck, dude?!?!?! Did you steal that baby?!?!?!?!”
Elf Maiden: “Pleeeeeease let me keep it. I NEED A BABY!!!!!”

The Elf-Maiden here is being interpreted as Holly Hunter’s character in “Raising Arizona”.

santa claus 27Lioness: “This tramp ran off with my dinner!”

santa claus 28The Ladies of the Forest need to know what Ak wants to do with the baby.

santa claus 29Ak: “I guess he can stay here. Lioness, you can also stay to watch over him and protect him from ol’ Grandfather Shroomface.”

I have included this shot because it is awesome. Three fairies are sprinkling the baby Claus with some “pixie dust”. I love all the 1980’s fantasy stuff like this. This would fit right in on a movie night, coupled with The Last Unicorn, The Dark Crystal, Legend, and maybe even Heavy Metal.

I also think it’s interesting how Rankin/Bass have numerous stories about how Santa Claus came to be. Like they don’t mind contradicting each other. I don’t know what I believed about Santa’s origin story as a kid, but I was probably pretty confused after seeing all these Santa prequels.

santa claus 30We get a montage of Santa growing up in the Forest of Burzum. In this scene, Tingler is teaching a young Santa how to speak to the animals… yet no one ever speaks to the lioness in her native tongue. Not once. You gotta wonder what she’s thinking this whole time.

It’s also interesting that in this one, just like in “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, Santa learns a lot of his skills from the animals. I guess I never thought about how he could slip down a chimney, but I guess “he’s just a magic man” was too simple of an explanation for the folks at Rankin/Bass.

santa claus 31Ak: “Santa. You see that rainbow over there? Cool, huh? Check out my house made of trees. Neat, right? Well, it is now time for you to visit the land of the mortals with me, where everything flippin’ sucks, so you can see them. Since you are one and all.”

santa claus 32Ak: “Up, up, and awaaaayyyy! I can fly toooooo! I am so coooollll!”

santa claus 33After reaching their cruising altitude of 50 gajillion feet, without any sort of protection for Santa Claus, Ak tells him that the mortal world sucks a big one. Not only that, but he’s gonna prove to him how awful humans are and, by proxy, how awful he is.

santa claus 34In a scene reminiscent of “A Christmas Carol”, Santa and Ak visit a farm where indentured servants are picking turnips. The nobleman’s lacky (think Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Django Unchained) threatens to whip a poor boy who tries to snag a free turnip.

I imagine the nobility would be all about a completely unregulated market economy. If that is true, how did this person ever get rich growing turnips?

santa claus 35They then visit the nobleman’s house where he and his terrible family have way more than they could ever eat. It’s so fun to hate the rich, isn’t it?

The Scrooge here says typical rich-guy-antagonist stuff like, “Stephen told me a little scamp tried to steal a turnip today! A TURNIP!!!! Can you believe it? Pretty soon they will want what we have! We have to squash these poor people or they may realize that they want turnips to eat every day! I hate poor people!”

Santa is appropriately disgusted at this behavior. This pleases Ak.

santa claus 36Next they visit a dojo, where little kids learn the art of war. One of the little ninjas whacks the other one with his stick, then the sensei whacks the victorious little bastard.

Ak tells Santa that they are learning to be hardasses, so they can win in war.

Santa: “Men kill each other when they disagree???”

We all nod knowingly.

santa claus 37Ak: “These kids are homeless.”
Santa: “That is a bummer.”

santa claus 38Ak: “These guys are also at war.”
Santa: “Yeah, I already said I didn’t like war.”

santa claus 39Santa: “But Gandalf, why do humans suck so bad?”
Ak: “Dunno, but you better get used to it because you’re not staying at my house your whole life!”

santa claus 40Santa: “Well, everybody, Ak says I gotta go live in the mortal world because I am a mortal. And I’m 18 now and it’s time to get the f—-…..”

Ak: “AHEM! What Santa means is that he feels like it’s time for him to go and live among his native people!”

Santa: “But you said…”

Ak: “Nevermind what I said! Tingler and your Lion Mama will go with you to help you.”

santa claus 41This is the border between the mortal world and the Forest of Burzee. On one side, you have the Forest, and on the other is a frozen tundra. But the tundra is called “the Laughing Valley of HO-HA-HO”, so it can’t be that bad, right?

santa claus 42WRONG. This is the best “shelter” that a multilingual immortal, a teenager with no practical skills, and a lioness can come up with to shield them from the elements. Couldn’t Ak have flown them to Hawaii and dropped them off?

santa claus 43Here they are, relaxing and enjoying the sub-arctic climate in their fancy new house made from Lincoln Logs.

santa claus 44Luckily, a bunch of elves and fairies show up and build them a house that looks suspiciously like a church. Thanks, yall!

santa claus 45Next thing you know, the house is in the middle of a town. I guess Santa moving in would drive property values through the roof. Who wouldn’t wanna live next to Santa? Instead of borrowing a cup of sugar, I could go next door and “borrow” an official Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle!

Or get read to. Whatever.

santa claus 46“Ho ha ho! I like kids! And I’m getting older!”

santa claus 47Santa gets better at reading to the local kids. His audience has grown from three to five. Take that, youtube! At least back then a bearded guy could read to kids without getting arrested.

santa claus 48One night, as Santa sits in front of the warm hearth, whittling something (a hobby I now desperately want to get into), he hears a noise outside.

santa claus 49He goes out there and finds a lost orphan, nearly frozen to death in the snow!

Santa: “This is my buddy Tingler. He’s kind of a weirdo.”

He also gives the foundling the toy he has been carving. A little black cat with yellow-green eyes, modeled after Santa’s own cat, Poopsy. It is also insinuated here that Tingler, cunning linguist that he is, comes up with the word “toy”.

santa claus 50When Santa takes the kid back to the orphanage the next day, all the kids want “toys”!!!

santa claus 51They even sing a catchy little number, starring toy Poopsies.

santa claus 52They dance around a bewildered Santa Claus, in an effort to charm him into making them all toys.

santa claus 53“Hmmmm…. maybe they all want toys……”

santa claus 54BRR-ZAP!!!!!

santa claus 55Santa gets to work making toys for all the little orphans, with a little help from his immortal friends and a floating head! eep!

santa claus 56Santa: “I’m gonna give this doll to that little girl I saw in the castle!”
Tingler: “But she’s rich!”
Santa: “All kids need Santa’s love!”

santa claus 57Just then, a brick comes through the window! The plot thickens!

Santa (reading): “Dear Santa, we don’t like you. Quit being nice to the kids. Or we’ll get you bad. – King Agwa”

santa claus 58Tingler: “Oh no! The Agwas! They influence kids to do bad things! They are mean and bad and evil!”
Santa: “Whatever. Eff that guy. We’re making the toys anyway.”

santa claus 59King Agwa: “So! Santa thinks he can disobey me??? I’ll show him!”

santa claus 60Look at these goons. King Agwa is clearly the Alpha here, but the guy on the right looks like he might could be related to Shaggy from Scooby Doo, and the little guy is like the Grover Dill to King Agwa’s Scut Farkus. He’s a toady, for sure.

santa claus 61They grab some rope and disappear! Oh yeah, they can turn invisible.

santa claus 62They tie Santa up and kidnap him to their cave hideaway!

santa claus 63Where he is menaced by….. a cobra? Cobras are so 80’s.

santa claus 64And another 80’s doofy-guy pet, a tarantula. Lucky for him, his gag falls off and he calls to the Nooks, rulers over all beasts, with their secret call:

“Come to me, Nooks!”

I’m not making that one up. I know I have a little fun with the dialogue, but the uber-secret call, to get the Nooks to appear really is, “Come to me, Nooks!” I guess you would have to know what a Nook is to say that, but you hafta wonder how many times someone messed up and accidentally called a cadre of confused immortals out of the ether.

santa claus 65“Who is it, that calls out the Nooks and knows our super-secret phrase????”

Despite not knowing Santa, they rescue him anyway. “Come to me, Nooks! And rescue me from my dead end job!”

santa claus 66Cobra-la: “Sssssss ssssss sss ss sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!!!!!”
King Agwa: “You let him get away! I knew a giant snake would be no match for a bearded fat guy with a heart of gold!”

santa claus 67Santa: “Just got kidnapped and menaced. No big deal. Let’s take these toys to town!”

santa claus 68The Agwas turn invisible and steal the toys. Santa is a dumbass. Why do the Agwas even need to turn invisible to rob a guy? He already knows who did it, and it’s not like they couldn’t just overpower him with muscles and their robust collection of facial bullhorns.

Again, just like in “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, Santa must overcome obstacles and bad guys that wish to keep him from getting the toys into the hands of the children.

santa claus 69Santa: “The Agwas have stolen the toys every single damn time I try to get to the city!”
Peter Nook: “The definition of lunacy is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

santa claus 70King Agwa: “Bwa ha ha! Look at all these toys we stole!”
Grover Dill: “Yes! A mint Gen 1 Grimlock! That’s mine! And a zeppelin!”

santa claus 71Santa: “I know what I’ll do! I’ll throw them off by going to town at night! And by myself!”

Good idea, Santa. No one ever gets robbed at night when they’re alone.

santa claus 72King Agwa: “You are so stupid! I laugh in your face and take your toys… again!”

santa claus 73Santa: “Damn! They took the toys again!”
Lioness: 🙄

santa claus 74Ak: “King Agwa! You have messed with my buddy for the last time!”

santa claus 75King Agwa: “You don’t scare me, Antlerhead! I do what I want!”

santa claus 76Ak: “Then this means WAR!!! And I see no irony in that at all!”

santa claus 77Meanwhile, back at the crib…

santa claus 78Ak gets ready for war, which he hates but for some reason has a sweet magic silver axe. I don’t EVER wanna hear another judgey thing come out of your mouth against us mortals, Ak! Your L.A. Privileges are hereby revoked!

santa claus 79Ak: “Oh Great Silver Axe of Decapitation with +10 Dexterity!!! You have never failed me in the past! Smite my enemies once again with your razor sharp blade and lightning bolt proc!”

santa claus 80Santa: “But I wanna go to war with the Agwas, too!”
Peter Nook: “Nah, man. Nah.”

santa claus 81BAM! An army of formidable good guys forms, armed with sticks and flowers, and lead by the powerful Deer God of the Forest Ak, with his silver axe of smiting!

santa claus 82King Agwa: “HA HA!!! Looks like you brought sticks to a dragon fight! Get ’em, Oh Dreadful Wyrm of the Deep Earth!”

santa claus 83Ak: “Oh fuuuuuu…… they got a dragon.”

santa claus 84Dragon: “BLLLLEEEEEeeeeeAAAAaaaaRRRRGH!!!!”

santa claus 85It’s the baby crazy she-elf! Armed with just a branch!

santa claus 86“NOBODY GONNA HURT MY BABY!!!!!”

santa claus 87Peter Nook faces down a three-eyed troll… in a fez.

santa claus 88No problem for ol’ Peter Nook! “Come to me, shrinking spell!”

santa claus 89Oh geez. Look at this joker.

santa claus 90Ak: “Begone, foul thing! Or my silver axe will smite you in the balls!”

santa claus 91Magic Silver Axe: “Awwwwww, yeaaaahhhhh…”

santa claus 92Ak & the Gang: 3
King Agwa’s Getalong Pals: Zero

santa claus 93King Agwa: “Let’s get out of here!!!!”

santa claus 94Ak: “The Agwas will trouble you no more…”
Santa: “Really? Why? Are they dead?”
Ak: “Ahem. Well, uh, no. Not exactly. But I gave them a stern talking to. WAR IS BAD, M’KAY!!!!”

santa claus 95Santa: “Now I can deliver all these toys! But they’re too heavy for me to drag! Where’s that Lioness when you need her???”
Tingler: “She’s been dead for 50 years, Claus! A lion’s lifespan is only 10 to 14 years in the wild! Much less at the North Pole!”
Santa: “Really?”

Yes, really.

santa claus 96Peter Nook: “Try these reindeer on for size!”

The reindeer came from Peter Nook, kids!!!

santa claus 97Santa: “You didn’t tell me they could fly!!!!”

You would think this is the end, but you would be wrong. We get still more “why things with Santa are the way they are” stuff:

santa claus 98Santa: “Door was locked, so I had to go down the chimley!”

santa claus 99Santa: “Socks! This is a good place to put some toys!”

santa claus 100Peter Nook: “You had my reindeer out too long last night, Santa! For some unknown reason, I wanted them back by dawn! From now on, you can only use them once a year!”

santa claus 101Santa: “Once a year, Tingler! When should I go? Which night?”
Tingler: “Hell if I know, man.”
Santa: “I know! Christmas Eve!”

This is the only mention of Christmas in the entire show. Again, I’m not kidding. As though you needed more proof that this interpretation was completely pagan, there is no mention of Christmas being special for any other reason than that it is the night Santa randomly chose to deliver the loot.

santa claus 102santa claus 103I don’t really know why I included these shots, other than they look like classic Rankin/Bass Santa Claus moments.

santa claus 104We go forward in time again, and it’s Santa’s last ride. Tonight, after delivering the toys, he will die. Unless the Immortals decide to grant him the Mantle of Immortality.

santa claus 105Tingler: “We’ll decorate this tree like this every year to remember you!”

This is a strange scene for two reasons:

1. Santa knows he is going to die tonight after his yearly toy delivery. Yet he does it anyway! What a guy! I’d probably lay down on the couch with Evil Dead 2 on the TV and try to sleep through it.

2. No one decorates a Xmas tree to remember Santa. This is neither the pagan roots of the tradition or the co-opted Christian interpretation. Rankin/Bass, you are indeed full of surprises.

santa claus 106Ak: “So you see, yall, if we don’t do something now, Santa will die tonight.”

santa claus 107The Gang: “We vote yes!”

Completely unexpected outcome, right? It’s like the end of Titanic. Titanic is still on the bottom of the ocean, and Santa is still alive.

santa claus 108Ak: “Behold! The Mantle of Immortality!”
The Gang: “Sheeeeeeiiiiiiit.”

santa claus 109She-elf: “Sleep, my baby. My baby my baby my baby….”

santa claus 110Santa: “Thanks for making me immortal! I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to get caught up on all those episodes of Breaking Bad!”
Ak: “No problem. Except that there was only one Mantle of Immortality. And we kinda want it back. Chevy Chase ain’t lookin’ so good.”

santa claus 111THE END.

This is Santa’s house that looks like a church. In the credits, which I dodged to get you guys this picture and behind-the-scenes pics like these:

santa claus 112santa claus 113Mushrooms again.

santa claus 114American Horror Story, Season 4: “A Circle of Gods and Goddesses”
Let’s see what else they can co-opt.

BEFORE YOU GO!!!! Let me show you a couple videos I made:

The first is the opening credits to L&AoSC. It includes a badass song about immortality and the arrival of the immortals. You can watch it over and over and learn all their names, which I did not bother to do:

ALSO THIS ONE!!!
This one took me all damn day to finish. I wanted to really convey how much like a stoner/doom metal song this holiday special actually is:

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Whistle and I’ll Come to You

Before I put away the orange and green and black lights, and shove my GORZAK suit in a box, I wanted to do a sort of Halloween wrap-up post. I want to share one of my favorite spooky films with you, and give a trip report… to my house, for my Halloween party. Specifically, I wanted to give the winners of our costume contest the minuscule notoriety they deserve.

This was a great Halloween. I came away from it with 15 boxes of monster cereal that will probably never be eaten. I also met lots of nice internet people and fellow bloggers. Most of whom you can find in my blogroll. I have somehow managed to get worse at making youtube videos, and still increased my youtube presence by about a gajazillion percent.

I tried Hershey pumpkin kisses. Too sweet.

I bought a gorilla suit. Too itchy.

I passed out at my own party. Too early.

In other words, while everyone else was posting photos on Instagram of walking on Mars and eating curried jackalope, I was doing nothing of  any consequence whatsoever.

___________________________________________________________________

Costume Contest Winners!

I have requested permission to post these photos, so all two of you who read this, don’t go stalking my peeeeeepppps.

A minute ago, when I plugged my camera into my computer, I was greeted with about 50 photos from Halloween night. I remember a grand total of about 3 of them. I knew I took victory shots of the winners… and of bourbon.

costume contest prizesThese are the trophies for 1st and 2nd place (l-r) and the Apple Bobbing trophy is all the way on the right. We have this lovely photo framed by mess on the left and La Croix carbonated dog water on the right.

We also had an Apple Bobbing Competition, which I do not remember happening, but someone apparently won it because the trophy is gone. Congratulations, Mystery Mister-or-Miss Hold-Your-Breath-Good!

Presenting our third place winner, dressed as Ralphie from A Christmas Story in the “Aunt Clara Still Thinks I’m 4 Years Old and Girl” Rabbit Pajama Suit Thing:

carla ralphie costumeAround her neck is the 3rd Place prize: a medal that doubles as a bottle opener!

In 2nd place, Wembley Fraggle!!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWembley is the one on the left.

And, in first place, the Grand Prize Winner of the 7th Annual Costume Tournament, the Witch Doctor!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInspired by the Diablo 3 Witch Doctor, my friend here made everything from scratch. Most of the bones are from fish that he roasted himself, in order to extract their skulls for his strange and esoteric rites and rituals. I think I had a hex on me the whole time that caused me to have a mighty hangover the next day that felt like a whole tribe of Witch Doctors were doing a dance around my brain. The skull sippy cup was a nice touch, as Garfield would say.

There was some seriously stiff competition this year. Some good entries that I saw were “Precision & Accuracy” (as an Arts & Leisure sort of chap, I had to get my scientist wife to really explain that one to me), Casey Jones & Da Shredder from TMNT, a couple of Coneheads, and many other strong contestants for those coveted trophies and mile-wide fame!

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“O, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad!”

This last little bit here is rather fitting for a post-Halloween, pre-Christmas blog entry. It is appropriate because it was produced by the BBC in 1968 as part of their “Omnibus” series, which was a predecessor of their incredibly famous (rightfully so) series, “Ghost Stories for Christmas”.

As a little kid, we drove up to my great-grandmother’s house up in the country on Christmas Eve, and my favorite part was always when the adults would tell tales of their encounters with the supernatural. I was both thrilled and terrified, of course, but I attribute these times as one of the main reasons I like spooky stuff today.

The first time I saw, “Whistle, and I’ll Come to You” was at a friend of mine’s house in Dublin. We all gathered ’round and he turned on a projector and we all sat, enraptured, as this incredibly unsettling tale of the supernatural unfolded onto a sheet on the wall (get it?).

I didn’t sleep good that night.

See, I’m not one of those people who goes around beating my chest, proclaiming that nothing can scare me or that I’ve never been scared of a horror movie.

Honestly, I’m in it for the art and imagery of it all, but some of it still gets to me. Especially on nights like tonight when I have the house to myself. I count on Fletch, our cat, to alert me to any unwelcome presences. Although he’s really much more in tune with the backs of his eyelids or knocking something breakable off of a counter somewhere.

Anyway, I get scared at horror movies. Particularly ghost stories. For some reason, ghosts have always been more believable to me than other types of horror. If Jason came through my front door, I might could slow him down enough with my shotgun, or I could at least have him chase me over to the neighbor’s house, bwa ha ha! I figure a fella like Jason wouldn’t mind the ol’ Bait & Switch trick, especially if it netted him a full family of 3 kills, versus a measly one dead overweight, mid-30’s, nerdlinger.

All that written, when all I really wanted to say is that I dare you to watch this with the lights off, the sound turned up, and without any distractions. Seriously. I dare you.

It is slow, creeping horror. It sneaks up on you. It plays dirty, but in a covert, subversive way. Don’t expect The Conjuring, or anything close to a modern horror story. This is something else entirely. It is a descent into madness and hell… in quiet baby steps.

Also, consider yourselves lucky, this film was out of print for forever, and copies of it were super expensive. I used Clip Converter and saved it to my computer, just in case this gets taken down.

Enjoy and you were warned:

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I AM GORZAK

It was probably a few weeks ago now. I was adrift in a sea of potential Halloween costumes, not knowing where I was headed. Usually, such an important decision would have been made months, if not years, prior to the season.

Granted, I’m not known for my elaborate Halloween costumes. As one of the official hosts of the area’s best Halloween soiree, my job is to throw the party. Let others worry about such inconsequential matters as “costumes”, right? My job is done when people show up and have a good time.

My costumes usually consist of a grim reaper robe and a half-mask, in accordance with my number one rule of cosplaying: Just Make Sure You Can Easily Drink.

Despite this, a few weeks ago I was reading one of my favorite blogs to ever exist: Dinosaur Dracula (a link to which you will find in my blogroll to the right).

Actually, to save you a little time, allow me to just link directly to the post in question.

As soon as I saw this post, and saw this video…….

…I knew it was destiny.

After a little prodding/encouragement from Matt (Double D himself) via Twitter, I knew my fate was sealed. And rule number one was thrown promptly out the window.

If you’ve read this blog, even a little bit, you know that I don’t know how to make shit.

Therefore, rather than learn how to make things, it was up to me to collect the items necessary to transform myself into GORZAK (GORZAK insists on all caps).

The main problem is that GORZAK is not just any black werewolf. He is some sort of barbarian-demon-alien-werewolf hybrid, for maximum fear and intimidation.

Plus he is a giant.

Being bigger than most of my friends (hence the slight attempt-to-fitness angle to this blog), this was not the problem.

The problem is that wonky armor he has on. What the hell is that? It looks almost biological. Tubes and shit.

I briefly entertained the thought of going to Home Depot and buying a bunch of black hoses.

That seemed like too much trouble, and so I decided to start with the basics:

20131023_125141This is a gorilla costume. Size Deluxe.

A gorilla suit is like a tux, in that every person should own one, so that you’re prepared when the situation arises.

My cousin always says that a party isn’t complete until someone shows up in a gorilla costume, so I bought one in case I ever needed to take one for the team.

Also, in case you’re wondering, I am going with a black werewolf style, instead of brown, because I figure I’m the Real GORZAK. Much like the Real Ghostbusters, the Real GORZAK is the toy, the cartoon in the commercial is just an artist’s rendering. Coming from the town that gave the world the Crichton Leprechaun, I feel like I deserve a little leeway. No matter what I come up with, if it has a snout and fur, I’ll be closer to GORZAK than the artist who reinterpreted the leprechaun.

As you can see in the video, GORZAK is not a monkey. So I needed a werewolf mask.

20131023_125200It was only a quick amazon search for “black werewolf” before I found this. A good costume, in and of itself, but I needed full-body fur. Not just gloves. GORZAK hasn’t ever done an honest day’s work in his life, nor do I truly believe he was ever human, so the ripped-up leatherneck garb is completely unsuitable.

This left 3 things: the weirdo alien armor, shackles, and an axe. As though being a giant werewolf were not enough. Where did GORZAK find an axe big enough for him?

Also, when he breaks out of the good guy’s castle(?) he has A GIANT AXE. Did they not take his weapon when they locked him up? Not to mention how these pitiful human insects got a gnarly creature like GORZAK locked up in the first place.

The commercial leaves a lot to the imagination and conjecture. As DD said, GORZAK has no frame of reference. As in, he’s not from a show or anything. But, does he really need to be? GORZAK is seriously enough for me, in and of himself.

Don’t go changing, to try and please me, GORZAK.

20131023_125052Got these from the local Spirit store. All I need to do is cut them apart in the middle because, unlike GORZAK, I am not strong enough just to bust them with insane wrist strength.

20131023_125149I found this on amazon also. I like that it is collapsible, because you can’t really tell in the clip if the axe is a long-handled executioner-style axe, or a hand axe.

Once you see my “armor”, you’ll wonder why I worried about axe accuracy at all. My attitude was that the armor may look like a doodie, but if everything else was close enough, that was good enough for me.

20131023_125036This is the “armor” It’s a “Spartan Chest Plate” that I got at Party City for like $10. It is seriously flimsy. Although if I’m fighting tiny humans, it could probably stop a tiny bullet or tank shell.

The two shoulder spikes, which I thought were essential to distinguish GORZAK armor from just your everyday Roman or Spartan bullmess, came from a child’s “Rotten Rocker” costume, which is a zombie member of KISS.

Is this close enough? It’s more or less the same color, has spikes, and was cheap and I didn’t have to make anything. Yes, it is close enough. Plus, for some reason, fake muscles are molded into the armor. Look out, ladies! This will definitely fool them into thinking I am ripped.

As I said in a tweeter, “with these items combined…

… I AM GORZAK!!!!!”
(Press play on the video above, it’s a remake of the TYCO commercial starring me as a slightly more realistic vision of how Toy GORZAK operated)

20131023_204252 20131023_204301

And yes, at around 00:09 in the video, I break the shit out of my axe. Happy Halloween!

Posted in About Me, About Media, General dorky shit, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Mad Monster Party

The Legend:

This is the way I’ve heard it told:
In the 1960s, Rankin/Bass was a film production company, headed by partners Arthur Rankin, Jr and Jules Bass. They produced many animated films, but are most famous for their holiday specials and for an animated version of Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” (still my favorite film version).

It was due to the success of holiday films like “Rudolph, the Red-Nose Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman“, that the Rankin/Bass company felt like they could finally compete with Disney in the Feature Film arena.

To that end, Rankin/Bass pooled all their resources, called in all their L.A. privileges, and did anything they could to produce a full-length film, which was basically an extended classic-style Rankin/Bass Halloween special.

The film failed financially, and it helped lead to what was more or less the end of Rankin/Bass.

The Plot:

Before I bombard you with loads of screenshots, and a tribute video I made, I’d like for you to know the plot, to streamline the breakdown process a bit. I would say there were spoilers ahead, but a person probably wouldn’t read this sort of post if they were afraid of spoilers.

Here goes: Baron Frankenstein has created a formula that would enable him to rule the world. He is also the chief bad guy in the whole world, and is head of all the monsters in the world. They look to him for leadership.

The Baron is planning to retire and invites his only living relative, Felix Flankin, to his castle to turn things over to him. Little does he know, Felix is a pharmacist and a huge Jimmy Stewart fan. And kind of a screw-up.

The Baron also invites all of the monsters in the world to his castle to witness his new creation, and to see him turn things over to his nephew.

The monsters, being bad guys, do not like all this one bit. They have been loyal to the Baron all this time, and now he’s gonna leave some nincompoop human in charge?!?!?!

A struggle for power ensues, Felix bumbles his way through the whole thing, Don Knotts style, and falls in love with Francesca, the Baron’s assistant, and whom I firmly believe was a huge inspiration for Jessica Rabbit in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?“.

The Main Cast of Characters:

Baron Boris von Frankenstein. Voiced by none other than Boris “the Grinch” Karloff. Head of all the monsters everywhere. Creator of a top-secret, rule-the-world, potion. Uncle to Felix Flanken.

Felix Flanken. Voiced by Allen Swift, who does most of the other voices also, but does one helluva Jimmy Stewart impression for Felix’s voice. Bumbling, but good-hearted, nitwit. Allergy Sufferer.

Francesca. The Baron’s hot-as-hell assistant, who may have ulterior motives.

Yetch. Head of the house servants at the Baron’s castle. Clearly inspired by Peter Lorre. In love with Francesca. Can remove his body parts at will.

The Monster’s Mate. Voiced by Phyllis Diller. Also looks like her and may not be a monster at all, other than being Phyllis Diller. I would have no clue who Phyllis Diller was if she wasn’t on Scooby Doo that time. This is the Frankenstein Monster’s ladyfriend. The brains of the operation. Has a funny laugh, is a bit of a creeper, and is power and money hungry.

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Now that you are armed with all that information, on with the show!

mad monster party 1

Originally, I planned to not do a full breakdown of this movie, for two reasons. For one, I made a tribute video that featured a lot of the really cool scenes. And for two, this is a full-length movie. Clocking in at 95 minutes, to fully show Mad Monster Party would take about 300 screenshots. Plus, I really don’t wanna ruin the magic for anyone who has never seen it.

I also should be honest here: Mad Monster Party is incredible, but it kinda lags in parts. You’re really in this one for the visuals of stop-motion monsters and the badass, elaborate handmade sets.

It’s not that the plot is bad, or the dialogue is bad, but there are several scenes that could have been cut out entirely and it would have really helped the pacing of the film. I have taken the liberty of cutting several of them out here, but if you watch the movie you’ll get to see them.

Really, to put a fine point on it, Mad Monster Party would have made an amazing hour-long Halloween special on television.

Anyway, in the first scene, shown above, we get a brief prologue of Baron Frankenstein completing his potion and testing it out. It makes a mushroom cloud right outside of his castle window, by which the Baron knows, “It’s ready!”

He then sends invitations to all the monster in the world. This is shown in a montage of the monsters receiving their invitations while the opening credits roll:

Starring: The Wolfman!

Starring: The Wolfman!

Look at that Wolfman! Gee Minetty, he is so cool looking!!!!! And if you think this photo of him is cool, just imagine seeeing him walk around and do wolfy-type stuff!

Next, we get introduced to Felix Flanken, pharmacist and Goof Extraordinaire:

mad monster party 3Felix is mixing up a soda. I can barely remember when drug stores still had real soda fountains and lunch counters. Showing Felix mixing up this sugary cocktail is clearly a parallel to the Baron mixing up a rule-the-world potion. The fact that he is a pharmacist doesn’t hurt, either.

In this scene, Felix receives his invite from his Uncle, whom he has never met. He decides he is due for a vacation, thinking that a castle on a remote island is some sort of resort.

mad monster party 4We get back to the castle now, and Phyllis.

mad monster party 5Right here she’s really giving her husband, The Monster, the blues. Word has gotten out that the Baron is inviting all the monsters to his Castle for one last party, and to announce his retirement from the horror business.

We deserve that formula! We deserve that inheritance! You need to get it for us!”

She really is a shrew, isn’t she?

mad monster party 6The Baron discusses his plans with Francesca, his assistant and probably the hottest puppet ever created. Definitely hotter than Janice from the Electric Mayhem. Although I would probably date Janice. Francesca is more of a fling, Janice is more of a serious commitment.

Ahem. Right.

mad monster party 7“What’s this? You have a nephew? But you never told me you had any living relatives!”

Francesca may not be as trustworthy as the good Doctor, errrr Baron, believes.

mad monster party 8“Yes, Felix! He’s my sister’s boy! And a pharmacist too! He’ll make a fine replacement for me! I just know the monsters will all be ecstatic to hear this news!”

You see, the Baron, despite being the honcho over all the monsters, is really just a kindly old man at heart. And naive as a mofo.

Next we see all the monsters getting onto a ship. A freighter that will be passing close to the Baron’s island, which they wish to be dropped off at.

Check out this Dracula:

mad monster party 9“Now, how much for the passage, hmmm?” Dracula asked the ship’s Captain and First Mate. When they tell him, he says he should probably just fly, and turns into a bat. This, coupled with the other weirdos who wish to sail with them, make ol’ Cap and his Mate feel mighty jubous.

mad monster party 10The First Mate doesn’t know whether he should trust this guy or not. He probably shouldn’t, since he’s obviously a dracula.

mad monster party 11By the time Felix arrives to book passage on the SS Herring, the Captain is so scared of everything that he tells Felix that he can just ride for free. “No charge! Just don’t do any of your surprises on me!”

mad monster party 12Later that evening, the Captain tells the Mate to go invite the passengers to have dinner at the Captain’s Table with him. This shot right here just about sums up what all happens when the Mate goes to do that.

Meanwhile, Felix meets some of his fellow passengers…

Like the esteemed Dr. Jekyll.

Like the esteemed Dr. Jekyll.

mad monster party 14Felix: “Gee, Dr. Jekyll, you look seasick! Are you all right?”
Mr. Hyde: “Hyde! Grrrr! Hyde!!! Me, Hyde!!!”
Felix: “You want me to hide? Ok, I’ll hide and you come find me!”

Felix meets most of the other passengers in a similar fashion, always narrowly escaping death through sheer dumbassery.

mad monster party 15Back at the Castle, party preparations are in full swing. This is an army of the Baron’s zombie bellhops.

mad monster party 16Lined up for inspection, with Maitre D’, Yetch, at the end of the line.

mad monster party 17See? He even talks like Peter Lorre!

the Baron: “These guys better be ready for the party, Yetch! It better be fun! The food better be good! And my guests better have a good time! Or it’s your ass!”

Yetch: “Yes sir, Mr. the Baron, sir!”

mad monster party 18“Gazongas! Great! Big! Gazongas!”

Yetch runs into Francesca here and gets a little cheap feel. You can see how Francesca feels about that. Yetch is in ecstacy and doesn’t come out of it for a few seconds.

Francesca: “You better not ruin this, you creepy little turd!”

mad monster party 19“My guests should be arriving any minute! Until then, I’ll practice my Little Richard…”

mad monster party 20“Dracula! Welcome, my old friend!”

Look how aloof Dracula looks right here. I love it. I don’t know how they got the facial expressions on these characters to be so perfect most of the time, but they did. Look at Phyllis! She’s gauging whether the Baron may give the inheritance to Dracula or not. The Monster is obviously wondering if he could kick Dracula’s ass or not, if it came down to it.

mad monster party 21Dracula: “Wolfie, you old dog, you!”

You just knew that joke was gonna have to come out at some point, and here it is. They saved it for the arrival scene.

mad monster party 22The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the Mummy arrive together. The Hunchback carries in the Mummy’s coffin. I guess I never really thought about the Mummy needing to sleep in a coffin like a vampire. But then again, I guess I never really think about the Mummy. The Mummy has definitely been my most-overlooked monster in the pantheon of classic monsters. Poor Mummy.

mad monster party 23The Castle Kitchen is preparing for a huge banquet in honor of the Baron’s guests.

mad monster party 24Yetch decides to check in with the Chef and make sure things are going according to plan…

mad monster party 25He nearly gets strangled by the tentacles in the pot!

Yetch: “The octopus soup is too strong!!!”

mad monster party 26The Baron: “Welcome, honored guests! Tonight, I unveil to you my secret formula! It’s a liquid nuclear bomb!”

After the oohs and aahs die down, and the banquet is over, and everyone is shithouse drunk, it’s time for the band:

mad monster party 27

This is probably my favorite part of the whole movie. They play this really awesome garage-rock song about the Mummy. Note the “beetle” on the bass drum. This was 1967, ya know…

mad monster party 28Phyllis grabs the Mummy for a dance, some of which you can see in the video below. The Monster, a typical meatheaded jealous guy, looks ready to waylay some poor mummy’s ass.

I think this is also the first time you get a decent look at one of the under-appreciated monsters at this mad party: the fish thing. Look at him on the right in the above shot. He’s not really a Creature from the Black Lagoon, but he is certainly of some sort of aquatic origin.

"It's the Mummyyyyy!!!"

“It’s the Mummyyyyy!!!”

The shot above is cool because the guitar is actually accurate. It’s the nice little touches, like an accurately assembled puppet guitar, that really set this production apart.

Francesca, plottin’ mofo that she is, invites Dracula outside for a dance:

mad monster party 30

Some of the dance is in the video below, but needless to say, Dracula mistakes Francesca’s intentions. She has called him outside to see if he’ll help her get the formula and the inheritance.

mad monster party 31“This sneaky bitch was hiding behind the drapes, dropping eaves!”
“Let’s get her!!!!”

mad monster party 32“Blahhh!” You know the sound I mean. The one Dracula makes.

mad monster party 33Phyllis: “Not so fast, Toothy! Kick ‘is ass, Frank!”

Francesca: “Why you mean old witch! I’ll fix you good!”

CAT FIGHT!!!! LINGERIE CAT FIGHT!!!

complete with cat sounds.

complete with cat sounds.

I love Phyllis’s underwear.

In the meantime, the rest of the monsters have gotten good and sauced at the banquet and get into a food fight, which leads to a real fight…

mad monster party 35That shot cracks me up. Something about a merman with pie in his face really gets me.

Next, it’s the Invisible Man’s turn, with his fez and smoking jacket and everything:

mad monster party 36

mad monster party 37You might say Yetch really lost his head in that fight! yuck yuck yuck.

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The next morning, everyone is sleeping one off…

mad monster party 38

mad monster party 39

mad monster party 40

What’s interesting is that they make no bones about what is going on here. Broken bottles and empty bottles are all over the place! And before you think, “I bet Disney would never have the balls to do something like this!”, go watch Dumbo and get back with me. In 1967, people weren’t so damn sensitive.

While everyone is sleeping off their own little ornery hangovers, Felix and the Baron and Francesca have a chat on the beach:

mad monster party 41“Let me show you around my Castle, nephew! Oh, I do hope you like it!”

mad monster party 42They take a viking ship (!) into the dock in the bowels of the Castle. Yetch is waiting to take Felix’s things.

Felix and his uncle go off on their own for a tour of the grounds, while Francesca schedules another meeting with Count Chocula:

mad monster party 43“Here’s a map of the entire island!”

mad monster party 44“I’ll lure Flanken out for a walk, and you rally the other monsters and ambush him here, here, and here…”

mad monster party 45“Sure is nice of you to give me a tour of the island, Francesca!”

I need a pith helmet in the worst way.

mad monster party 46“Why this feller here is injured! Look at those bandages! I’m a pharmacist, I’ll help!”

mad monster party 47“There! That’s better!”

Say huh?

Needless to say, none of the ambushes work out and Felix escapes every one in an equally obtuse manner.

mad monster party 48“How do you like the Castle so far, my dear boy?”

mad monster party 49“Let’s sing about it!”

mad monster party 50“You put one foot in front of the other!”

They don’t really sing the song from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town“, but it’s instantly recognizable as a Rankin/Bass classic. Plus it features a green mouse, a bird creature, and…

and…

boo2Boo, from Monsters, Inc.??? I seriously wonder if Pixar got their inspiration from this little character in this musical number from Mad Monster Party.

mad monster party 51Moving on from Boo’s cameo, Frankenstein tells Felix that this is a family business. Do you recognize any of these faces from the Frankenstein family? A correct answer may net you a big prize! Or it may not. I’m kinda broke, yall.

mad monster party 52“We have to get that stuff, Drac!”

mad monster party 53“Oh no, a double cross!”

What did you expect, Francesca? They are monsters, after all, and probably not the most trustworthy creatures on earth. Not to mention, you’ve been living it up in the lap of luxury, up here in the castle with the Baron, while the real monsters have been living off the sweat of their proverbial brows. There could be a little class war tension coming out here also. Not to mention that Francesca is, as far as they know, a human, and they are monsters. And the formula should go to the monsters! Racists.

mad monster party 54Francesca finds herself alone, betrayed by her “friends”. You reap what you sow, Francesca. And you sowed betrayal.

mad monster party 55“Before they catch me, I’ll send a note, via bat, to someone!”

mad monster party 56“And I’ll read this new edition of War & Peace I just got!”

mad monster party 57“Get her!” Make your own Library Ghost reference here.

mad monster party 58“You monsters! Stay away from me! I have a torch! And a twig!”

The monsters close in on her and she is forced to jump out of the window, into the moat below…

mad monster party 59Which is where the alligators live! EEP!

Fortunately, Felix Flanken was fishing in the moat, in a boat, with a dry coat.

mad monster party 60

"Oh, Felix! You saved me! How did I not see it all along?"

“Oh, Felix! You saved me! How did I not see it all along?”

mad monster party 62BAM! LOVE!

To be honest, Felix slaps her around a little bit, which makes her love him. I’m not kidding in the least. But I didn’t want to show that. Different times and whatnot. But I suspect that this scene could be why you never see Mad Monster Party on television.

mad monster party 63Francesca sings a song and does some erotic dance for him. Makes you wonder what her job was before, “Mad Scientist’s Assistant”. Not to mention that she clearly has some emotional issues if getting smacked causes her to fall madly in love with this nerd.

mad monster party 64“Felix! We have to get off this island! The monsters will be coming for us!”

mad monster party 65“Now see here, you monsters! We deserve that formula! Now let’s go get it! I think they’re in the woods!”

mad monster party 66I just liked this shot. A close-up on the crowd just seemed weird, to me.

mad monster party 67Francesca gets snagged by Audrey. It seriously is Audrey, because it even says, “Feed me!!!”

But this is no time to play with the local flora, Francesca! There are monsters in the woods, and they are after you!!!!

mad monster party 68mad monster party 69Phyllis has a small case of the tangle-eye in this picture.

mad monster party 70mad monster party 71The Invisible Man, ever the International Playboy, stalks through the jungle in his fez, smoking jacket, and sunglasses. No shoes, though, apparently. Yippee ki-yay, right?

mad monster party 72The Hunchback and Aquaman have teamed up.

mad monster party 73“Put up yer dukes, Wolfman!”

Felix really shows what he’s made of here. Deep down inside all of us is a fighting spirit, despite how much of an indoorsman we are. Felix has his glasses on and is aware of what is happening, and he chooses to fist-fight a werewolf!!!

mad monster party 74The monsters close in on Felix!

mad monster party 75“He has the potion! Aiieeeee!”

mad monster party 76“That’s right, bitches.”

mad monster party 77“Don’t kill us! We’ll do whatever you say!”

mad monster party 78Who was that mysterious message, that Francesca sent by bat, addressed to?

That is correct. King-muhfuggin-KONG!!!

mad monster party 79“YOU BETTER RUN!”

mad monster party 80“OH SNAP! Formula AND a giant monkey! Cheese it, boys, we’ve been out-classed!”

mad monster party 81“Maybe Francesca is in the Castle. That’s probably where the party is. The party she invited me to.”

mad monster party 82“And she sent me this picture. Look at those bazonkers!”

mad monster party 83“I love Francesca! And I love this photograph of her, even though she isn’t smiling!”

mad monster party 84“Ow! Sunuva bitch!”

mad monster party 85“Hello? Helloooooo? Francesca? Are you in there??? It’s me, your Kongy-poo!”

mad monster party 86“There you are!”

mad monster party 87“Run, boy! Run! I’ll take care of that giant idiot with this formula right here!”

mad monster party 88He also picks up the monsters and climbs a mountain, as all giant apes do instinctively.

mad monster party 89“Duhhhh, now I have Francesca AND you guys, who didn’t invite me to the party!”

mad monster party 90“When this is over, I’m gettin’ a divorce!”

mad monster party 91Never fear! The Baron has arrived in a plane with his army of zombie bellhops! Who are also in planes!

mad monster party 92mad monster party 93mad monster party 94Francesca: “Let me go, darling. You know it could never work. Our love was doomed from the start.”

Kong: “Uhhhh, ok.”

mad monster party 95“Thanks for picking me up, Felix! Let’s get the hell out of here!”

mad monster party 96“But what about my uncle?????”

mad monster party 97“Surprise, asshole! I have the formula!!!!!”

mad monster party 98I guess that answers that question.

mad monster party 99Felix: “Yay! Now we’ll go home and get married and have kids and stuff!”

Francesca: “Oh boo hoo hoo! I can’t do any of that stuff! I’m a robot!”

Felix: “That’s ok, Francesca, nobody’s perfect… perfect… perfect…”

Felix is a robot too! He glitches out, right here at the end. Now they can go home and build some laptops or calculator watches or something.

mad monster party 100

Before you go anywhere, I want to share this Mad Monster Party tribute video I made and put on youtube. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to my channel, so you don’t miss any more terrible videos. There’s too many good videos out there, join me and watch my bad ones!

turn up the volume…

Posted in About Media, General dorky shit | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Lemax Spooky Town

The only time of year that I can tolerate Michael’s is at Halloween.  I’m not saying that to demonstrate my machismo. I’m saying that because without that knowledge, nothing wonderful can come of the story I am about to relate.

Michael’s, during Halloween, is a different animal altogether. The Halloween section, anyway. I am quite sure that if you still needed to cross-stitch a barracuda onto a t-shirt, you could still find it, but the Halloween section is genuinely magical.

It was about 8 years ago or so that I quit rockin and rollin and whatnot and settled down with a wife and got a real job. It was early in our marriage, or late in our engagement, that my wife and one of her friends dragged me and another friend to Michael’s.

My friend and I perused the Halloween section, while our ladyfriends found the materials necessary to make black cat socks or something.

We heard a noise coming from the adjacent aisle. I remember it like it was yesterday.

The sound was a mix of tiny gears turning, tiny whirring little engines, and the distinct sound of tiny, muffled, human screams.

We rushed to the next aisle and found, under a huge piece of glass, Michael’s’s annual Lemax Spooky Town display.

Inside this glass dome was a whole little world. A Halloween Town that would make Jack Skellington smile. A little terrarium of spookiness.

Tiny gears geared. Tiny motors motored. Trick or treaters ran from ghosts. People were being tortured. A tree was eating a kid. In the town square, the annual Costume Contest was being held.

It was a world that I wanted to live in. A world where trick or treating was still dangerous, but fun. A world where Frankenstein had a pumpkin patch. And every house on the block was decked the hell out for Halloween.

I guess you could say it was a world where Halloween was as it should be, not as it really is.

To say I was captivated would be an understatement. My friend and I gawped at the town that seemed genuinely alive under that thin sheet of what was, probably, cheap clear plastic. I honestly could have stood there and just watched it do its thing for hours. Maybe all day.

See, I don’t care what anyone says, guys love tiny versions of real things. We also love tiny mechanical stuff. While the stuff that moved in Spooky Town wasn’t entirely mechanical, it was powered by little gears and levers, which was/is close enough for me. The whole thing was like a Halloween cuckoo clock, busily humming away in perfect time to give the appearance of tiny, creepy, life.

Really, it was more like a badass Halloween model train set, and if any guy tells you that they don’t enjoy gazing at giant model train sets, they are a bald-faced liar.

Personally, I’ve never had any interest in putting together my own model train set, but I do enjoy seeing them, accompanied by their retiree handlers in their conductor hats.

But this. This was something a guy could sink his fangs, and money, into. Because this wasn’t just tiny buildings and stationary families waiting at the depot. This was fences made of bones, this was the house that you were afraid to trick or treat at, but did anyway.

This was Fall.

I knew, then and there, that if I ever purchased even the smallest piece of Spooky Town, that it would be an extremely slippery slope into bankruptcy.

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With all of that build up, I know you are expecting that, during Halloween, I have a whole room of different levels of tables set up with Spooky Town stuff.

But I don’t. For one thing, Spooky Town is expensive. A big piece, like a house, can be upwards of $65 or so. Even the small pieces, like Fall trees or skeleton fences, can run at around the $20 mark.

However, the main thing is space. I don’t have room to display the Spooky Town stuff I have now, so I have quit collecting. Besides that, Spooky Town has changed over the years.

It seems to have gone from “Town Populated By Humans that is Dangerous on Halloween”, to “Town Populated by Good Hearted Monsters Who Just Want to Have a Good Time”.

Gone are the “Torture Factories” of yore. The tiny, mechanical guillotines. The kids being chased and eaten by all manner of ghouls.

In their place, we have this:

Monsters-Go-Round

Monsters-Go-Round

While cool, a bunch of monsters friendly coexisting with humans, and riding a Merry-Go-Round with them, ain’t why I got into Spooky Town.

Nothing about this says to me, “Don’t you wish you lived here? Wouldn’t it be exciting to live in Spooky Town? Exciting, but kind of dangerous?”

This says, “Yawn.”

And unfortunately, a lot of the new pieces are like this (they introduce new pieces annually).

Monsters having contests, monsters giving out candy, ghosts chilling in the graveyard (not chasing anyone!), and what is almost worst of all: monster couples holding hands in a sarcophagus.

The edge is gone. The dark side of Spooky Time is lost. Whether the human inhabitants of Spooky Town finally got tired of having their children eaten and ran the spooks off is unclear.

What is clear, however, is that Spooky Town is no longer exciting.

Let me illustrate my point with a pic I just took of one of my favorite pieces from my personal collection. It’s a small, simple, piece, but it clearly illustrates what Spooky Town useta be ’bout.

20131010_134320

As you can see, this trick or treater has met an unfortunate end at the limbs of a malevolent tree. His dog, Buddy, is trying his best to get the tree to let him go, but it ain’t gonna work. This is one trickertreater that won’t be separating his candy and inspecting his haul later tonight in front of the tv.

See what I mean? Spooky Town is spooky. Or was.

Let me give you a tour:
(photos by CNLH, my wife)

spooky town 1

Here we have the local Spooky Town Cinema. It’s a one-screen affair that boasts, “Live Undead Movies ALL NIGHT”. Inside the theater, you can see that some monsters and ghouls are enjoying film. I picture the scene inside being much like the Gremlins watching Snow White. You can also vaguely make out the moon over the theater, not glowing for some reason, and a tree with its leaves turned, out front. There’s a zombie working the ticket booth.

This is honestly a newer sort of piece, but I got it because I love movies. You can’t really tell, but it makes shadows like a movie is really going on inside.

Zombie Cafe

Zombie Cafe

This is the Zombie Cafe. Nothing on it moves, but it lights up and is covered with zombies and blood and human body parts. Used to, the inside light would light up and you could see a bunch of zombies in there munching on arms and legs and torsos and stuff. I must add that this piece came out before Walking Dead and zombies were kinda played out.

The light no longer working illustrates another reason I quit collecting: as you can imagine, little buildings with little moving parts and tiny lights are fragile. Every year something else doesn’t work quite right when we get this stuff down out of the attic and my wife puts it up (thanks, C!). At over-$50 a pop, these things should be a bit more durable than a sack of empty eggshells.

spooky town 4

This is a Saloon. It features ghost cowboys, gunshots, talking, and all sorts of moving parts, like a skeleton cowboy who struts out of the front swinging doors with pistols drawn. The vulture here does not come with it, but adds a good touch to it, I think (my wife did it). The Saloon is where any ol’ spirit might get a shot of the ol’ ectoplasm, then get in a fight with the ghost of John Wayne or the ghost of Clint Eastwood’s balls.

The next two pieces are my favorites in my meager collection, and they are coincidentally the first two pieces I got:

Goosebumps Manor

Goosebumps Manor

This is Goosebumps Manor (no relation to the books or tv show). It’s just a spooky house that has left the light on for the trick or treaters. This is the style of Spooky Town that I really like: it’s just a normal house, but with a genuine sense of foreboding. Like you just know that if you got up the nerve to ring that doorbell that something just awful would answer that door… and it might give you candy, or it might rape your soul.

This was the first piece of Spooky Town that I ever got, and I got it when my wife brought it home to me randomly. I had resisted getting into Spooky Town, knowing that once I started, I would never go back.

Like an alcoholic who had just been bought his first shot of whiskey in 30 years, I both loved this house and knew it meant trouble. I told my wife this, but for the moment we both just basked in the glory of having this one piece that epitomized everything I liked about Spooky Town.

You can’t really tell in this picture, but here is what is sitting out in the front yard:

20131010_151256

It’s someone, or something, dressed up in a skeleton costume, sitting on a pumpkin. With a black cat. Does it get any more Halloween than that???? You can also see some fall leaves, part of the bone fence, and a Fall tree.

This piece is perfect. Why? Because like a lot of the early Spooky Town stuff, the menace and danger are implied. It’s very subtle, but you definitely know that if you were a trick or treater in Spooky Town, you would cross the street to avoid this mofo.

The next, and last, thing on this tour of Spooky Town is a genuine classic piece, and was the first Spooky Town thing that I bought with my own money. It has always been the centerpiece of our set-up, but when I originally saw Spooky Town in Michael’s on that fateful day, it was up on a hill, overlooking the town. And that’s how I’ve always thought of it: as a terrible place that exists outside of the normal day-to-day operations of Spooky Town. It’s a place that Spooky Town might send their petty criminals, a la Hot Fuzz, or a particularly foolhardy trick or treater might dare his friends to approach.

“Dr. Stretch-N-Pull’s Torture Factory”!!!

spooky town 2

This thing is not only the biggest piece of our Town, but it also has the most moving parts. Through the front gate, a poor soul spins on a torture rack. Through the windows, you can see people strapped into diabolical devices of all types. Iron Maidens open and close, a guillotine drops its blade in infinite ghostly repetition, and over it all, Dr. Stretch-N-Pull’s maniacal voice cackles out warnings and puns like the madman he is.

You don’t actually get to see Dr. Stetch-N-Pull, but I hafta wonder what he would look like. Is he a mad scientist, obsessively rubbing his hands together while you sit strapped to his patent-pending 20-zillion-watt chair? Is he human at all? What exactly goes on in a torture “factory”?

This piece is dark. There is no denying that this is a vast departure from the Spooky Town of today, with its stupidly-grinning Frankensteins riding bikes, or Dracula waving from the window of a blood-red VW Super Beetle.

But it’s the pieces like this that initially captivated the macabre side of my imagination.

Like I said, Spooky Town used to be a bad neighborhood, but since then it’s been gentrified and, while safer, its soul has been swept under the rug.

I have no desire to live in the Spooky Town of 2013.

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