January 1, 2019

Blues Brothers 2000

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Happy New Year, everybody!

And what better way to kick off 2019 than with a look at the sequel to the film they covered in their fifth episode ever? To save you the time of scrolling back, we'll just tell you what it was: 1980's The Blues Brothers, starring John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and a ton of Blues and R&B legends.

This time, however, Belushi couldn't make it, what with being dead and all. So for the sequel,  1998's Blues Brothers 2000, Aykroyd is joined by John Goodman, Joe Morton, and J. Evan Bonifant to take on the Blues moniker and accompany him on an almost carbon copy adventure of the first film,but with all the stuff that made it watchable missing.

Elwood Blues (Aykroyd) is released from prison, eighteen years after the events of the last film. In that time, his brother Jake (the late, great Belushi) passed away, as has Curtis (the late, great Cab Calloway), who raised the two of them in the orphanage they grew up in, instilling in them a love of the Blues. However, nobody bothered to tell Elwood about Jake, who you would imagine might have heard at least a rumor, being that he and his brother were in the same prison. Instead, he is left to wait outside the prison for a whole day before the warden (the right-on-time and always great Frank Oz) tells him what happened. Our criminal justice system at work, folks.

Not long after, a young woman arrives and picks Elwood up. Without a word, he gets in the car and is taken to downtown Chicago, where he first sees an old police car he wants to buy, and then goes to visit Mother Mary Stigmata (the late, great Kathleen Freeman), who was but a lowly nun when we last saw her at the orphanage eighteen years ago.

18 years later, Matt "Guitar"Murphy still looks like he doesn't know how to stand.
The sister offers condolences to Elwood on the loss of Jake and tells him about Curtis, and before giving him a chance to properly grieve, she saddles him with the knowledge that Curtis had a son (the great, but thankfully not-yet-late Morton) with a married woman before turning to the church, giving Elwood the idea that he has a "brother" out there somewhere, and then she gives him a young boy named Buster (the adequate, but not-even-a-little-late Bonifant), whom she expects Elwood -- a recently paroled felon -- to mentor. Elwood is not keen on the idea, but after a solid whipping from Mother Mary's retractable rod, he relents, promising to take Buster to the library.

Elwood does take Buster to the library, but leaves him there and heads to the Illinois State police headquarters, where Cab, his newfound "brother", is supposed to be. When he gets there, he discovers that Cab is, in fact, a police commander. Undeterred, Elwood introduces himself, explains Cab's history to him, and then asks to borrow five hundred dollars to buy the used police cruiser he saw earlier. Not especially thrilled at the revelations Elwood has delivered to him, Cab has Elwood ejected from the building. As he watches, Buster accidentally runs into him, lifting Cab's wallet, from which Elwood takes five hundred dollars (because don't all cops carry large sums of cash on them?) and returns the wallet. Time to get a car!

A quick trip to see Melvern Gasperon (the late, great B.B. King) results in new wheels, and then Elwood and Buster are off to see Willie (Blues Brothers Band drummer Willie Hall), who now runs a "stripster"(?) club, about getting the band back together. Willie isn't interested, but he introduces Elwood to the bartender, Mack (the not-at-all-late but still pretty great John Goodman), and gives Elwood a job as an emcee for the club.

A Belushi was needed. A King Ralph was acquired.
When Russian gangsters show up to shake down the bar for money, Elwood gets them drunk and recruits Mack to help him strip the gangsters down and leave them tied up in an alleyway as a warning. This backfires, and the Russians come to the club and burn it to the ground. When they see Elwood, Mack, and the others escape, the Russians give chase, but they are thwarted by what appear to be explosive drywall nails. One of the Russians is killed, and nopbody says a damn thing about it.

Having begun his reign of death and destruction, while simultaneously drawing his newfound friends and former drummer into his web of terror, Elwood starts to round up the rest of the band in a similarly horrific fashion. Really, the only ones who didn't suffer any kind of loss were Matt (the late, great Matt "Guitar" Murphy), Lou (the currently alive, but also great "Blue Lou" Marini), and Murph (the not-late, and really one of the only ones in the band who can act Murphy Dunne). The rest are swept up in Elwood's rampage of terror and forced to play blues standards and stiltedly deliver their lines.

Okay, Lou Marini did suffer a little.
A quick visit to Maury Sline (Steve Lawrence), agent to the stars, sets the band up to play at a battle fo the bands hosted by a Louisiana voodoo queen called Queen Mousette (Erykah Badu). He also promises to set up some "gas money gigs" along the way. These gigs turn out to be just one, which involves playing bluegrass music behind a monster truck show at the Tennessee State Fair.

Off and running, they stop at a few familiar-ish places to interact with people from the first movie. (The ones that are still alive, that is.) The whole time, they are being followed by Cab and his lieutenant, Lt. Elizondo (Nia Peeples), and several hundred other police officers from various states and counties. Oh, and the Russians are still looking for them. As are a group of white supremacist militiamen led by Darrell Hammond, who gets a boat full of explosives dropped on him but turns out to be fine.

When the band reaches the state fair, they discover that they are supposed to play bluegrass, and immediately don fake beards and hillbilly hats before diving into a rendition of "Ghost Riders in the Sky" that the people at the fair will most likely never forget, what with the actual ghostly skeletal horses and steer running across the sky as the band plays. Nobody comments on this at all. It's almost like it never happened. Weird.

We didn't see a thing. And neither did anybody else.
Almost to the gig at Queen Mousette's, the band's one vehicle runs out of gas, and a defeated Elwood tells the band that they might as well give up. Buster, in his "Oscar Speech Moment," convinces Elwood to press on, and the band leaves on foot, only to run across a tent revival run by Reverend Morris (the alive-and-kicking, and also great Sam Moore of Sam and Dave) and Cleophus James (the late, great, but also deeply felonious, James Brown). The police catch up with them, but Cab is overcome with the power of the reverends' words and gives up his life as a policeman...to...sing the blues...because...uh...Jesus...?

Now overflowing with frontmen, the band once again escapes and makes its way to Louisiana, where they are forced to audition for Queen Mousette in order to gain entry into the battle of the bands. Of course, they get in, which is helpful because, otherwise, there would have only been one band playing. This would not be so much a "battle," as a "regular show." It should be noted, however, that the other band, The Louisiana Gator Boys, is pretty darn good, containing as it does the likes of Mr. Gasperone, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Vaughan, Steve Winwood, Isaac Hayes, Coco Taylor, Dr. John, Travis Tritt, Clarence Clemons, Lou Rawls, and what appears to be every great Blues and R&B artist available at the time.

Reminder:The Blues Brothers Band had...this.
How will the Blues Brothers band fare against the Louisiana Gator Boys? Will Elwood finally be made to pay for the death and destruction he caused all across the country? Will somebody explain the need to have a ten-year-old boy involved in all of this? You'll have to tune it to find out!

Derek loved the music. The movie...not so much. It all felt too forced, and it appears that Aykroyd and director John Landis felt the same way. However, it still happened, and someone needs to pay, because the viewing audience certainly didn't. He is also sad that a solid half of the cameo stars are no longer with us.

Jake also enjoyed the music, but he disliked the movie even more. He is almost enraged at the idea of adding a small boy to the movie just to draw in a younger crowd. They didn't need that when they almost single-handedly revived the public's interest in the Blues back in 1980! Heck no! All they had was some music, some dark sunglasses, and the late, astoundingly great Carrie Fisher with a rocket launcher!

So break out those old 78 RPM records, put on a dark suit and sunglasses, and check out this week's episode!

December 24, 2018

A Christmas Carol (1984)

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Merry Christmas!

And now, it's time for the final episode in our Holiday Moviepalooza: A Big Bag O' Dickens series. And what a way to end it! We delved deep into Jake's repressed holiday memories to bring you the 1984 TV adaption of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, starring, of all people, George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge!

Away, knaves! I can buy and sell you!
We're not going to go through the whole story, because you should know it by now. We all know Scrooge (Scott) is a bitter old fart. We know he treats his clerk, Bob Cratchit (David Warner), like garbage. By now we know he blames his nephew Fred (Roger Rees) for the death of Scrooge's sister, Fan (Joanne Whalley). And we know he get a visit from his dead partner, Jacob Marley (Frank Finlay), who tells him to get his shit straight, or else. And to help, three ghosts are going to show him what a miserable cuss he is.

Marley kills with his Bill the Cat impression.
The Ghost of Christmas Past (Angela Pleasence) takes him to his old boarding school as a reminder that his father pretty much hated him. But she also takes him to his first job, where he also met the love of his life, Belle (Lucy Gutteridge), only to get dumped by her later because he loves money even more. Truly, he sucked as a youngster.

Worst Eurythmics cover band ever.
The Ghost of Christmas Present (Edward Woodward) takes the reigns and shows Scrooge that he is, in fact, still a giant turd of a person, based on how little he pays Cratchit, who has a wife and half a dozen kids to feed, including a crippled son named Tint Tim (Anthony Walters). Despite the way Cratchit is treated, he still insists on toasting his boss at Christmas dinner. Bob's wife (Susannah York) doesn't feel so cheerful about it, but she does it anyway. Next, the Ghost takes him to see how Fred also still cares, despite his uncle's rage and anger at nothing in particular. Scrooge, however remains disinterested and remains unsure exactly why this is happening, as he doesn't feel he has done anything wrong. So he is shown that Belle is now happily married with a brood of her own children, and then he is left to wait for the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Michael Carter).

God, I hate you.
The new ghost kicks things off like a good ghost should, by taking Scrooge to a morgue, to have a look at a dead body. It then drags him around London, showing him how everyone will continue to hate him, and how, for some reason, Tiny Tim died and it's Scrooge's fault, for some reason, and not the fact that he lives in disease-ridden Victorian England.

We all know how this ends, right? We just want to call special attention to Scrooge's nephew, Fred. What the hell, Roger Rees? It seemed like an odd choice to play him that way, That's all. Back to whatever you were doing.

Shown: Not Fred.
Jake started having flashbacks about a quarter of the way through, but (he claims) they were the "good kind." He still ended up enjoying the movie and being impressed by George C. Scott's performance, although it's pretty dark and unrepentant.

Derek does not remember watching this before, although he is certain he has. He liked it, and agrees with Jake about how dark George C. Scott is in this.

So light a fire in the fireplace, warm up some soup, and listen to the latest episode!

December 22, 2018

Bonus Episode: Scrooged

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Merry Christmas, everybody! We're still rockin' Holiday Moviepalooza: A Big Bad O' Dickens, and we realized he had time for an extra episode! And since we couldn't get together last week for our regular recording, we did a special session and invited a friend of ours, Brian Roskey, to join in the fun! And not only that, but we even picked another movie based on Charles Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol: Scrooged, starring Bill Murray, Karen Allen, Alfre Woodard, Carol Kane, David Johansen, Robert Mitchum, Bobcat Goldthwait, Buddy Hackett, Jamie Farr, and a ton of other great actors to round out the cast!

Bill Murray is Frank Cross, a television executive preparing for a live presentation of Scrooge on his network, IBC. He is also an incredibly narcissistic jerk who treats his family and employees like garbage, especially his secretary Grace Cooley (Woodard), whose son Calvin (Nicholas Phillips) hasn't spoken in five years, since he saw his father murdered. Can't you just feel the Christmas cheer?

During a meeting with his team, Frank is unhappy with the Scrooge promo that they have come up with, and he presents his own version, which not only sickens the team, but eventually causes a viewer to die from a heart attack when it is aired. Before that, however, one of the team, Elliot Loudermilk (Goldthwait) explains to Frank that his promo is going to scare people because "it looks like The Manson Family Christmas Special." Frank responds that he will do something about Elliot's complaint within five minutes. He then has Elliot fired and removed from the building in a little over four-and-a-half minutes.

Things do not improve after that.
Frank's boss, Preston (Mitchum), hires an "L.A. slimeball" (in Frank's words) named Brice Cummings (John Glover) to "help" Frank with the production, but Frank wants no part of Brice because, well, they're basically polar opposites. Unfortunately, Brice is tight with Preston, and appears to be slowly worming his way toward Frank's job.

That night, Frank is visited by his deceased best friend, Lew Hayward (John Forsythe), who warns him that her is heading down a dark road that could end up condemning him in the afterlife. He tells Frank that he will be visited by three ghosts, starting at noon on Christmas Eve. Then he drops Frank from his office window near the top of the office building, only for him to land in his own office chair, just as his phone self-dials his former girlfriend, Claire (Allen), who now runs a homeless shelter. Frank leaves her a message telling her that he needs to talk to her and hangs up.

Almost no makeup was used on Forsythe for this part.
The next day, while Frank is arguing with the network censor (Kate McGregor-Stewart) of a Solid Gold dancer's nipples, Claire shows up at the studio to check on him. They talk briefly before he gets distracted by noisy workers, and she sneaks away. Frank looks for her, but he can't find her, so he goes to lunch with Preston and Brice where, at noon, weird things start to happen; an eyeball appears in Frank's drink, and he thinks he sees one of the staff catching on fire, causing Preston to worry that Frank has taken on more than he can handle. Frank throws a bucket of water on the unsuspecting (and not-at-all-on-fire) waiter, and then goes outside to get a cab and go back to the office.

The cab, however, turns out to be driven by the Ghost of Christmas Past (Johansen), who takes Frank to see himself as a child. His mother is very pregnant with his brother James (later played by his real brother John Murray), and his father (his real life brother Brian Doyle-Murray) is a butcher who gives Frank five pounds of veal for Christmas.

Almost indiscernible from a regular New York taxi driver.
Next, they jump ahead to 1968, when Frank is working in the mail room of IBC. Lew spots him and tells him he needs to relax and enjoy the Christmas party, and although Frank tells him he will, he instead chooses to leave. Walking home, he meets Claire for the first time, after she hits him with a door as she's walking through it. Shortly after, Frank sees himself a year later. He and Claire are living together, and he is working on a children's show as a giant dog named Frisbee. Lew invites him and Claire to Christmas Eve dinner and Frank accepts, but Claire doesn't want to go because they had already made plans with their friends. An argument ensues, and Claire breaks it off with him, leaving Frank to continue working. Present day Frank sees what a huge mistake it was and decides he is going to talk to her about it, so he heads to the shelter she runs.

She uses the funds the shelter raises to stalk  an archaeologist she knows.
After being confronted by a group of homeless people who think he is Richard Burton, Frank finds Claire and offers to take her away from the city so they can spend time together. She wants to, but there are problems that need to be handled at the shelter. Frank tries to convince her to let the other volunteers handle it, but she wants to get them started before she leaves. Frank gets impatient and tells her to forget it, and then he leaves.

He returns to the studio in time to catch Brice calling dinner break, and after a few unfriendly words between them, everybody leaves except for Frank. As the lights in the studio shut off, he sees the Ghost of Christmas Present (Kane) -- a relentlessly cheerful fairy with a dark side that enjoys roughing him up through their journey. She takes him to see Grace's family, where he learns about what happened to Calvin, and watches as the whole family gets into a tickle fight. They seem pretty happy despite being so poor because Frank is cheap.

She also checks his lip tattoo to make sure he's not a Wakandan spy.
Next they visit Frank's brother James and his friends, who are playing Trivial Pursuit and talking about, of all things, Frank and why James keeps inviting him to Christmas dinner despite knowing he will say no. James points out, "He's my brother and I love him." The Ghost points out what a turd Frank is and then nearly tears his lip off before hitting him with a toaster, which sends him to the sewer under the street.

While Frank is trying to get someone's attention to get him out of there, he finds Herman (Michael J. Pollard), one of the homeless people who thought he was Richard Burton, frozen to death. Quite reasonably upset, he searches around for a way out of there and finds a door, which he shoulders open, only to find himself stumbling around the Scrooge set again, knocking things over and, once again, injuring the censor, who is now heavily bandaged and sitting in a wheelchair.

Brice and Grace get him calmed down and send him up to his office (after a brief scare at the elevator by what he thought was the third ghost) to check on the satellite feed for the show. As he sits, drinking a vodka and Tab (with the minimal amount of Tab), a giant skeletal hand reaches out of his TV monitors to grab him, but is interrupted when Elliot returns, very drunk and armed with a double-barrel shotgun. He wants to kill Frank for destroying his life, but he's pretty drunk, so he's not the best shot, and this gives Frank an opportunity to dive into an elevator to escape. Unfortunately, he is not alone in the elevator; he is joined by the third and final ghost: The Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come.

This is the kind of problem you get when you do a live broadcast.
This ghost takes Frank to see what will happen to Grace and her son Calvin, who still doesn't talk and is now in a mental institution. Then they visit Claire, who took Franks advice to "scrape them off...If you want to save somebody, save yourself." She's rich, rude, and has no time for poor people anymore. And finally, the Ghost takes him to a funeral. Unsure who it is for at first, Frank spots his sister-in-law, Wendie (Wendie Malick), and assumes it's hims brother's funeral. But when James shows up, he realizes it is his own, and he goes into meltdown mode.

But will it make a difference? Will Frank quit being a jerk and start treating people better? Will he learn to care? Let's be honest; you know how this story goes. But hey, there's a singalong at the end while Bill Murray yells at the viewers to take part and quit talking through the movie! So there's that!

Brian has seen bits and pieces of this movie before, but had never seen it all the way through, which made him viewing it this time pretty fun for everybody. He seemed a bit confused by some of the references -- Lee Majors, Solid Gold Dancers...That sort of thing. But the guys explained them to him.

Derek has liked this film since the first time he saw it. He still does. The jokes hold up, even if the very eighties references don't. Bill Murray is truly the gift that keeps on giving, and both Carol Kane and Bobcat Goldthwait alone make this movie worth viewing regularly.

Jake also has enjoyed this movie since he first saw it, and nothing much is going to change that. In particular, he seems really excited and amused to hear Robert Mitchum say the word "butthead". Like, excessively excited. It's a little worrying, to be honest.

So break out that company towel, fire up your VHS home video recorder, and check out this week's episode!

December 16, 2018

Scrooge (1951)

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It's Holiday Moviepalooza: A Big Bag of Dickens, Week Three, and the guys are ready to dive into yet another version of A Christmas Carol!

This time around, it stars Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge, a man who is basically irritable bowel syndrome personified. He hates Christmas and anybody who doesn't, including his clerk Bob Cratchit (Mervyn Johns) and his nephew Fred (Brian Worth).

It's a card from Mr. Scrooge! It says, "How do you keep an idiot clerk in suspense?
Turn over this card..." Okay, I guess I w--HEY!
Scrooge is, as noted previously in this space, a miserable old fart who only cares about money. But then his business partner, Jacob Marley (Michael Hordern), visits him, despite having been dead for seven years, and warns Scrooge that he is not going to have a very good afterlife if he keeps being such an awful, awful man. There is, however, a chance to set things right. All Scrooge has to do is meet a few of Marley's undead-ish colleagues for a chat. Scrooge is not too keen on the idea, but Marley informs him that he doesn't really have a choice.

Spirit, why are you showing me to dogs fornicating in the alley?
The first of Marley's associates to visit is the Spirit of Christmas Past (Michael Dolan). In the longest segment of the movie, we again see how Scrooge was left at his boarding school for years until his father finally decided to let him come home, as well as his first job with Fezziwig (Roddy Hughes) and his time with Alice (aka Belle in all the other versions, played by Rona Anderson). But then we get to see his first meeting with Marley and the start of their business together. We also see the death of his sister, Fan (Carol Marsh), during Fred's birth, which goes a long way toward explaining why Scrooge dislikes him so much.

No, I am not "basically a ginger Santa Claus," Mr. Scrooge.
Next up is a slightly more low-key Spirit of Christmas Present (Francis de Wolff). He doesn't start out gigantic this time around, and he's not nearly as angry by the end of his time with Scrooge. During their travels, they visit Fred's house, and then head to the Cratchit household, just in time to see Bob bring home Tiny Tim (Glyn Dearman). Bob's oldest daughter is there to visit, and Tim displays an upsetting predilection toward pudding. Bob's wife (Hermione Baddeley) makes it very clear that she doesn't think Mr. Scrooge is worth a toast, but she concedes "because it's Christmas."

Mother Theresa? Is that you?
Finally, the Spirit of Christmas Present leaves Scrooge in the capable, if somewhat quiet, hands of the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come (Czeslaw Konarski), who takes Scrooge around town to show the horrible results of his continued nastiness. Tim is dead, Bob is sad, and Scrooge's maid, Mrs. Dilber (Kathleen Harrison), is a crafty thief who steals from her deceased boss. All-in-all, a pretty dim outlook, almost as bad as the alternate 1985 in Back to the Future II.

Now pretend to be a parrot!
Scrooge insists he'll change his ways, blah blah blah...Look, you know how this goes by now, right? But think about this: What, as the fat businessmen ask in the dark version of the future, actually happened to Scrooge's money after he died? Did Fred get it? If so, did he become a jerk like his uncle? Or did he take an alternate route involving cocaine, absinthe, and a string of unsolved prostitute murders in London's West End? You got us. But it's fun to talk about, right?

Jake thought this movie was okay, although he was fascinated with Jacob Marley's ghost, and how he displays an impressive vocal range over the course of a single sentence. This dude is Nicolas Cage-level unstable, and it's pretty awesome.

Derek thought even less of the movie, but he admits that he was distracted by how much Scrooge looks like the Klingon Gowron from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Also, there's Tiny Tim's pudding obsession.

So warm up some bland soup over the fireplace, confront your demons, and check out the latest episode!

December 9, 2018

A Christmas Carol (2009)

To listen/download, click here!

It's Holiday Moviepalooza: A Big Bag of Dickens, Week Two, which means that the guys have settled in for another version of Charles Dickens's immortal classic, A Christmas Carol. But this time it's animated!

See/ Whimsy!
Jim Carrey stars as Scrooge (as well as the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come), the bitter, joyless man who fails to acknowledge what a horrible turd of a human being he is to everybody around him, including his cross-eyed nephew Fred (Colin Firth), his old girlfriend Belle (Robin Wright), and his giant-headed dwarf accountant, Bob Cratchit (Gary Oldman, who also plays Tiny Tim and Jacob Marley).

Gary Oldman is Corky in Life Goes On: Special Victims Unit
As we all know, Marley visits Scrooge to warn him that he had better get his head on straight, or he's going to spend the afterlife dragging around chains and not being able to help people. in order to help him avoid this, Marley schedules a meet-up with three of his ghostly buddies, who will show Scrooge the error of his ways by bringing him into settings that warm his heart...and then slapping him down when he gets too cheerful. Tough love. You know how it goes.

Bruh...You are so screwed!
The only ghost that doesn't seem interested in showing Scrooge anything good is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, because go to hell, Scrooge! Instead, the ghost drags him around town, shows him that everyone hated him and is glad when he's dead, and then makes him run from an out-of-control carriage and rats that want to eat him. Adding to that the numerous possible internal injuries and brain trauma from the eighteen different falls he takes, it's a wonder Scrooge even survived to see Christmas morning, let alone remember that he was supposed to be nice now. Or even remember who he was, really.

Scrooge's nephew Fred looks as though he is watching an ice pick lobotomy
while simultaneously experiencing one.
The most worrying of the ghosts, however, is the Ghost of Christmas Present, who seems jovial and friendly at first, but then becomes kind of a dick as he sees the same things Scrooge does. Admittedly, Scrooge is not the greatest guy in the world, but keeping him constantly terrified by throwing him around the room seems a bit much for the old dude. But maybe we're projecting.

Touch the sleeve of my coat...and I WILL KICK YOUR ASS, wormy!
As we all know, Scrooge changes his ways, because th' hell else would happen? And he takes care of Cratchit and Tiny Tim, as expected, but also appears to be completely and totally pants-crapping insane by the end of the film. Was that the ghosts' goal? If so, why? The world may never know.

Derek was concerned he wouldn't like this movie because of his long standing claim of intestinal distress in the presence of a Jim Carrey performance. However, he actually quite enjoyed it. He was, however, distracted for a good portion of the film by Cratchit's bulbous, balloon-like head. It's really pretty upsetting.

Jake also enjoyed it, and was also upset by Cratchit's weird head. Additionally, he has real problems with the score and a particular sequence that plays more like a YouTube video of someone playing a video game than an actual haunting story of a man confronted with the life he's wasted by being awful instead of helping those around him.

So pull on that old-timey nightcap, light a candle, and join us for the latest episode!

December 2, 2018

Holiday Moviepalooza: The Muppet Christmas Carol

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It's the most wonderful time of the year! Unless, of course, you are a bitter, broken person who finds the holidays little more than a painful slog through memories of previous holiday seasons that scarred you with horrible memories and dark thoughts...And those people are Derek and Jake! And they want to kick off this year's Holiday Moviepalooza (aka A Big Bag of Dickens) by setting just the right tone. And what better way to do that is with a gaggle of Muppets?

This week, the guys sat down to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol, a telling of the classic Charles Dickens tale, starring Michael Caine and the usual roster of much-loved Muppets, including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear, Rowlf, Gonzo, Rizzo the Rat, Animal and the rest of The Electric Mayhem, and perennial hecklers Statler and Waldorf. It also includes a number of new ones, as well as a few more humans, but we all know Michael Caine and the Muppet regulars are the real draw here.

The screen can barely contain the raw sexual chemistry between these two.
Gonzo (Goelz) is Charles Dickens. He, along with his rat friend, Rizzo (Steve Whitmire), want to tell you a story...It's Christmas Eve in 19th Century London, and Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly, bitter man who refuses to acknowledge the the cloying sweetness of celebrating Christmas. His head bookkeeper, Bob Cratchit (Whitmire as Kermit), and numerous rat-based bookkeepers suffer Scrooge's rage as he deals with charity workers (Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker - Goelz and Whitmire, respectively) and Scrooge's nephew, Fred (Steven Mackintosh). He also assaults Bean Bunny (Whitmire again) with a wreath, in case you didn't despise him before that point.

Cratchit himself is having a rough go as it is, receiving very little pay from Scrooge to support a wife (Piggy - Frank Oz) and four kids, one of whom -- Tiny Tim (Jerry Nelson as Kermit's nephew, Robin) -- is severely ill. When, at the encouragement of the rat bookkeepers, Cratchit asks for Christmas Day off for all of them, Scrooge allows it, but threatens to make things bad if they don't show up early the day after.

After shutting down the shop and watching some penguins skate (it is a Muppet movie, after all), Bob goes home to see the family.  His wife, Emily, is not happy about the way Scrooge treats her husband, but she tries to keep a happy face so little Tim doesn't get upset. There's something suspicious about that kid, as well as the other three; the girls are pigs, but the boys are frogs. Something sketchy is going on here.

Somebody hasn't been honest in this relationship.
Scrooge goes home to his cold, dark apartments. But before he can enter, the knocker on his door turns into the face of one of his deceased partners, Jacob Marley (Nelson as Statler). Briefly frightened, Scrooge gets it together long enough to get himself inside. As he sits down to some soup before his meager fireplace, he is interrupted by the spirits of both partners, brothers Jacob and Robert (Goelz as Waldorf). They are there to tell him he needs to get his head on straight and stiop treating other people like garbage. And to tell him that, in order to help him along a different path, he will be visited by three spirits that will show him the error of his ways. Scrooge is not keen on the idea, but he has no choice.

It's either that, or deal with Robert's weird-looking "area".
The first ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Past (voice by Jessica Fox), takes Scrooge back in time to see his lonely childhood in a stuffy boarding school run by Sam the Eagle (Oz). Years pass, and he is taken to his first job, working for Fozzywig (also Oz, but as Fozzy Bear), and the party where Scrooge first met Belle (Meredith Braun), the love of his life. But just as he's getting cheerful and reminiscent, the Ghost of Christmas Past slaps him down by showing him walking away from what would have probably been a great, long-lasting relationship, had he not been so fixated on money. then she sends him home.

If old me and young me both sleep with her, does it still count as a threesome?
The next ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Present (voice by Nelson, performance by Don Austen), is large, loud, and relentlessly cheerful. After a brief musical number (more on this later), the ghost takes Scrooge to see what a piece of shit everyone thinks he is.

First, they go see his nephew Fred, whose wife, Clara (Robin Weaver), says mean things about Scrooge, encouraging the others to do the same. Saddened that his only remaining family hates him, he begs the ghost to take him somewhere more cheerful and full of love, so it's off to the Cratchit household, where opinions of Scrooge are not much better. Although, in Bob's defense, he does insist on saying something nice about his boss because it's Christmas. Emily reluctantly agrees and toasts Scrooge, but Scrooge is more concerned about Tim. Before much can be said about him, the ghost tells Scrooge he is a cheap, miserly garbage person, and then leaves him with the Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come, who looks like a cross between a Dementer and a discarded foreskin. But what will he show Scrooge?

You are horrible, Ebenezer, and these animals will feast on your corpse!
And will whatever Scrooge sees convince him to change his ways? And what about Tiny Tim? Will he survive to dance on the graves of those who doubted him? Or will it all go to shit and turn even more into a Victorian dystopia? You'll have to tune in to find out!

Derek refuses to admit there is even the possibility of this movie having any sort of flaws. He does have theories about what all of this is, however. Maybe it is a hallucination brought on by consumption of illicit (but, at the time, legal) substances, and Scrooge is the only one seeing this happen, while outsiders see a crazy old man, naked and masturbating in the streets while they try to enjoy their Christmas dinners.

Jake liked it, but not as much as Derek. And he has a different theory, as well, choosing instead to believe the entire encounter with the ghosts is perhaps the twisted dreams and thoughts of a man in the last few seconds of his life, brought to a (barely) premature end by his own hand. Sort of like Jacob's Ladder crossed with The Room, but with less jerking-off after shooting himself. Some jerking-off, sure. But not, like, a ton of it.

So put on some upsetting plaid pants and your favorite holiday top hat, and listen to this week Holiday Moviepalooza episode!

November 22, 2018


To listen/download, click here!

Once in a while, it is still possible to surprise one of the guys with a movie that not only meets the expectations that the others establish, but actually exceeds them. This new episode's film is one of those.

Snatch is a 2000 film by Guy Ritchie, starring an amazing cast, including Jason Statham, Brad Bitt, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Farina, Alan Ford, Jason Flemyng, Robbie Gee, Stephen Graham, Lennie James, Vinnie Jones, Rade Šerbedžija, and Ade, among others.

You know it's going to be something when Brad Pitt's is a secondary character.
After an 86-carat diamond is stolen during a heist in Antwerp, one of the robbers, Frankie Four-Fingers (Del Toro), travels to London to sell the stone to Doug "The Head" (Mike Reid) for a New York jeweler called Cousin Avi (Farina). On the way to Doug, Frankie stops and acquires a gun from ex-KGB agent Boris "The Blade" (Šerbedžija). He shows the diamond to Boris, who decides that he should be the guy who owns it, and makes a plan to steal it.

At the same time, an unlicensed boxing promoter called Turkish (Statham) tries to convince a mobster called Brick-Top to put Turkish's boxer, Gorgeous George (Adam Fogerty), into a match with one of Brick-Top's guys. Brick-Top agrees, and Turkish sends his partner Tommy (Graham) to go buy a new caravan for them to use as an office. Stephen goes to a local Pikey (Irish gypsy) camp, taking George with him, where, after an intentionally incoherent-sounding man named Mickey (Pitt) sells them a caravan whose wheels fall off, George challenges Mickey to a fight, only to get knocked out and have his jaw broken with one punch. Turkish convinces Mickey to replace George in his upcoming fight, but when they go back to Brick-Top, he tells them that he will only allow the fight if Mickey takes a dive in the fourth round. Mickey agrees after Turkish promises to buy Mickey's mother (Sorcha Cusack) a new caravan for herself.

Want to feel old? This is Hanson now!
Boris tells Frankie he can have a gun if he places a bet for him at Brick-Top's bookie. When Avi finds out, he flies to London,with his bodyguard Rosebud (Sam Douglas), because he is worried Frankie, who has a gambling addiction despite not being very good at it (hence the name "Four-Fingers"), will do something stupid. This seems a definite possibility because Boris hires Vinny (Gee) and Sol (James) to rob Frankie at the bookies.

Vinnie and Sol hire a friend Tyrone (Ade) as their getaway driver,despite his inability to park properly. He runs their car into the van Frankie is in, knocking him out. Vinnie and Sol go into the bookies and fail miserably to rob the place, getting away only with a bag of pennies, as well as showing their faces directly to a security camera. Tyrone "rescues" them, however, and spots Frankie crawling out of the van with a briefcase cuffed to his wrist, and even manages to kidnap him so he can be taken back to Vinnie's shop to be interrogated as to the whereabouts of the diamond.

Not the best criminals around, but somehow they manage.
Mickey's fight takes place, but he doesn't dive in the fourth round; instead, he knocks out his opponent with his first punch,pissing-off Brick-Top, who takes all of Turkish's money and insists on another fight from Mickey, but this time he had better lose like he's supposed to.

At the same time, Boris finds Vinnie, Sol and Tyrone at their place, shoots Frankie in the face and saws off his hand, taking the briefcase with the diamond in it. He pays the guys $10,000 and leaves. Meanwhile, Brick-Top and his guys are hunting for Vinnie and Sol, and they find them a short time later, trying to dispose of Frankie's body. Brick-Top tells his guys to kill them,but Vinnie offers to find the diamond for Brick-Top. He reluctantly agrees, giving them forty-eight hours to find it.

Avi is pissed (largely because he is in London), and Doug hires a guy named "Bullet Tooth" Tony (Jones) to find Frankie, whom they are not yet aware has been killed.

Suddenly, in the middle of the movie, Dennis Farina lashes out at Jake!
Avi, Rosebud and Bullet Tooth find their way to the flat of Boris and stuff him in the trunk of their car. Vinnie, Sol and Tyrone pull up, hoping they find Boris before anybody else does. And finally, Turkish and Tommy come cruising down the street in a van, on their way to see about getting another gun from Boris and arguing about whether humans should consume dairy products. Tommy throws Turkish's milk out the window, causing Bullet Tooth to hit someone crash, accidentally killing Rosebud and popping the car's trunk, allowing Boris to get out. As Vinnie and Sol argue about the replica guns Sol brought, he fires it off, blowing out the car's windows and distracting Tyrone, who hits Boris.

Turkish and Tommy walk up to speak to Boris, only to have him shove past them and re-emerge from his house with a rocket launcher, ready to fuck somebody up.

Not a happy guy.
Vinnie, Sol and Tyrone follow Tony to a pub, where they try to get information about where the diamond is, but Tony notices that they only have replica guns, and promises his gun is very real. The three wisely retreat to the hallway, where they catch Avi coming out of the bathroom with the briefcase in his hands. But as they confront him, Boris comes in with his much bigger gun, demanding the diamond. Tony hears the conversation and fires his gun through the wall, hitting Boris and Tyrone. Vinnie and Sol escape with the diamond, and Tony empties two clips into Boris, but can't kill Tyrone because he is out of bullets. He gathers up Avi, and they leave, heading for Vinnie and Sol's place.

When they get there, Vinnie swears the diamond is at their shop, but when Tony threatens to just shoot them, Vinnie pulls the diamond out of his pants, only for it to be swallowed by a small dog that Sol got from the Pikeys. Avi grabs Tony's gun and starts shooting blindly, accidentally killing Tony. That's when he decides he's had enough and goes back to New York.

Turkish and Tommy talk to Mickey, who says he won't fight again unless they buy his mother an even nicer caravan. Turkish, who is now broke because Brick-Top took all his money, can't do it, and when he tells Brick-Top, Turkish's gambling arcade is destroyed, and the Pikey camp is burned to the ground, killing Mickey's mother. That can't be good.

But will Mickey fight? Will Brick-Top consider switching to contacts? Will Vinnie and Sol get the dog back? Will that dog experience the most painful poop ever? You'll have to tune in to find out!

Jake loves this movie, claiming he has watched it dozens of times, despite the fact that he only just learned Rosebud's name, as well as believing Mickey had three fights for Turkish, even though there were only two, Jake. Say it. SAY IT.

Derek loved it, too. It felt like a Tarantino movie was violently molested by an Elmore Leonard novel. Maybe with Carl Hiassen watching. He likes the editing, giving the film a real seventies vibe. And he was able to discern in one try how many fights Mickey had for Turkish. SAY IT, JAKE.

So avoid dairy, pick a silly nickname for yourself, and listen to the latest episode!

November 15, 2018

The Blob (1958)

To listen/download, click here!

Bullitt. The Great Escape. The Towering Inferno. The Magnificent Seven. What do they all have in common, aside from being straight-up awesome and, because of that, they will most likely never be discussed on this podcast? They all starred Steve goddamn McQueen, that's what.

McQueen had a helluva career. He started out as a television actor, but eventually felt it was time to step up and hit the big screen with a two-fer in 1958: the forgettable Never Love a Stranger and the spectacularly weird movie we watched for this episode, The Blob.

"Young" Steven Andrews (McQueen, who was 27 at the time) is on a date with his best girl, a cardboard cutout named Janie (Aneta Corsaut), and he is putting the moves on her hard (which, by 1958 Pennsylvania standards, means "gently holding hands and gazing wistfully into each other's eyes") when they see and hear something fall from the sky. They decide to investigate, and they drive off toward where they think it landed.

At the same time, an old man who looks like mid-eighties Lloyd Bridges (Olin Howland) also hears the noise and, since it landed only a few feet from his Evil Dead cabin, does what any of us would do: He goes and pokes it with a stick. It turns out to be a small meteorite, but poking it causes it to break open, revealing its gooey center. He collects the goo on the end of his stick, and it oozes down onto his arm, causing him immense pain.

His joy at discovering an extraterrestrial money shot is short-lived.
Steve and Janie are still driving toward the site when the old man lunges out of the woods, right in front of Steve's car. They stop to help the man, discover the goo attached to his arm, and throw him in the back of Steve's car to take him to the town's doctor, Dr. Hallen (Stephen Chase).

They catch the doctor just as he's leaving for the day, and he quickly ushers them inside his office. He takes a look at what's going on under the coat Steve wrapped the old man in and immediately calls his nurse/assistant, then tells Steve and Janie to go find the impact site because he has this covered.

They leave, only to find a group of middle-aged teenagers hanging all over Steve's car, demanding a drag race.(Because it's the fifties!) Steve agrees, but only if they do the race backwards. The "teens" agree, and Steve beats them easily, only to get busted by Lieutenant Dave (Earl Rowe), the town's "good cop" who can "relate" to the "teenagers" because they are the "same age" as he is, which is to say, in their "early" thirties.

Lieutenant Dave is not "hep"to Steve's "jive".
Dr. Hallen decides the old guy's arm has to go, and his nurse arrives. He tells her to go have a look at the old guy, but when she enters the examination room, the table is empty. As she looks around, the one lamp in the room falls over, causing the one fuse the office's entire electrical system apparently runs on, causing the entire building to go dark. Dr. Hallen goes to the basement to fix it, and when the lights come back on, the nurse finds herself face-to-...er...amorphous globule with an angry murder snot, which attacks and kills her, and then the doctor, just as Steve and Janie show up outside the office to see how things are going.

Cold-and-flu season in rural Pennsylvania is hell.
Steve and Janie go to the police station to tell them what happened, and Lieutenant Dave sort of believes them. His partner, Officer Bert (John Benson) doesn't buy it, though, insisting it's all a prank to mock him personally because of his war record. Seriously; he actually says that. However, the "kids" persist, and they all go to Dr. Hallen's office to check on him.

When they get there, there is nothing; no doctor,no nurse, no victim, and no blob. There is, however, an elderly woman who says Dr. Hallen is supposed to be out of town, so there is no reason for him to be there. Vindicated, Officer Bert drags Steve and Janie back to the station and calls their fathers (Hugh Graham and Elbert Smith), who make stern faces and take the kids home.Minutes later, both Steve and Janie sneak out of their respective houses and go looking for the other retirement-age teenagers to hunt down whatever Steve claims he saw eating Dr. Hallen.

Steve and Janie eventually end up at the local grocery store, which has been inexplicably left unlocked, even though it is well past closing time. Also, Janie finds the old guy's tiny dog, which she scoops up to bribe her brother from telling their parents where she went. When the blob shows up. Janie throws the dog at it, and then he and Steve hide in the walk-in cooler, but the blob doesn't follow them. Instead, it oozes down the street to the movie theater.

"Blob" is short for "Blobert".
Steve and Janie grab their friends and start honking horns and setting off air raid alarms to get the people in town to listen to them so they can fight the blob. It works, for the most part, but a bitter and spiteful Bert refuses to buy it until the crowd that was in the theater comes running around the corner, screaming in terror. But they still need a plan...

Will that plan, which involves giving Bert a weapon around a bunch of the teenagers he so hates, work? Or will it get derailed by Janie's idiot little brother? How close to retirement age are the teens? What happened to the dog? And what's up with the cop playing chess over the radio back at the station? You'll have to tune in to find out!

Derek unabashedly loves this movie, despite the terrible acting that everybody is doing. Or perhaps because of it. He is, however, upset by Janie's lack of emotion. Even worse, when she tries, it looks like she's having all the emotions at once, and they hurt.

Jake liked it, too. He is pretty upset about just how old the "teens" look. Especially McQueen. It's like they didn't even try to hide it. Also, he questions McQueen's acting chops, as it appears the guy has only scanned his copy of the script.

So put on your most neat-o slacks and cardigan, gather your pensioner-teenage friends together, take some antihistamines, and tune in to the latest episode!