May 16, 2018

Catalina Caper

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For the second episode of Derek's Birthday Month Un-Riffed MST3K Movie Fest-O-Vention, he chose a film that even the MST3K writers had a hard time writing jokes for: Catalina Caper (aka Never Steal Anything Wet) starring Tommy Kirk, Del Moore, Peter Duryea, Robert Donner, Ulla Stromstedt, Jim Begg, Sue Casey, Lyle Waggoner, Michael Blodgett, Peter Mamakos, and dozens of other people you probably don't recognize, not to mention Little Richard, Carol Connors, and the Cascades! It's a musical romp of mystery, comedy, scuba diving, and art theft. Not to mention the biggest draw of all...

Pensive-looking ship stewards in bowties.
It's summer! And Don  Pringle (Kirk) is heading to Catalina with his buddy Charlie (Brian Cutler), a chick-magnet who wants Don to have himself the best time ever. And Charlie recruits another friend, water cop Bob (Blodgett), to help him get Don some action/

For his part, Don is into the idea of having fun, but he has no interest in the girls because on the boat to Catalina, Don meets the mysterious and enigmatic Katrina (aka "Creepy Girl," played by Stromstedt). She is dark and vaguely European, with a thick accent. Don is immediately smitten, despite Charlie throwing girl after girl at him.

So...You have those. I like that.
Everybody else on the boat, however, is busy listening to a doped-up Little Richard blandly lip sync a song called "Scuba Party". You would think a live performance from Little Richard in the mid-sixties would be pretty exciting, wouldn't you? But no...He looks like he's not even sure where he is for most of the song.

Look at that face. He has no idea where he is.
Over on Catalina, Lawrence (Begg) has been dispatched to the local museum to steal a valuable scroll as part of a plan to rip off an art collecting criminal named Lakopolous (Lee Deane), whom Derek and Larry refer to throughout the show as "Totopoulos." because they didn't pay close enough attention.

Lawrence's boss, Arthur Duval (Moore), and his wife, Anne (Casey), spend their time trying to not look like criminals while also avoiding their straight-as-an-arrow son, Tad (Duryea), who looks almost as old as his father.

After Lawrence delivers the scroll, Don and Charlie arrive, and Arthur takes the opportunity to dump Tad off on them, allowing the elder Duval and his wife to get on with arranging a meeting with Lakopolous.

Say, fellow teenager, do you happen to have a copy of the Wall Street Journal?
Arthur's plan involves having his wife make a replica of the scroll and, after showing Lakopolous the real scroll to convince him to pay up, switching it out for the fake scroll, and then putting the original back in the museum, leaving nobody the wiser. Tad, of course, is suspicious, but as a 45-year-old teenager, he cannot blow off the opportunity to look at young girls in bikinis and go scuba diving.

And that's exactly what they do, but dumb ol' Don is still hung up on Creepy Girl. And it gets even worse when she shows up on the beach in a modest bathing ensemble that, for some reason, everybody freaks out about.

But the guys seem to like it.
This causes some anger from the other girls on the beach. They all storm off to go stand on a boat and look sad, and most of the guys follow and try to make them dance by kicking them in the ass. Seriously. That happens.

Don, however, stays behind to talk to Creepy Girl, who goes into the water and almost immediately loses her top. Don, ever the gentleman, offers her his jacket so she can cover up, and her boyfriend Angelo (Waggoner) shows up to yell at her and Don. Creepy Girl wants no part of that, and she sends Angelo packing.

Lakopolous sends one of his goons, Borman (Mamakos), to meet with Arthur on the Duvals' boat. A scuffle ensues, and the scroll, which is stuffed into a protective tube, is thrown off their boat and into the water. Whoops. Fortunately, Bob is going by on his boat and interrupts the fight. When Tad finds out about it, he checks on his parents who offer to throw a diving party as a cover for getting the kids to find the lost scroll.

As all of this is going on, a detective by the name of Fingers O'Toole (Donner) is keeping an eye on Arthur, hoping to catch him doing something sketchy. Unfortunately for Fingers, he misses a lot because he spends a lot of his time falling into the ocean.

You're a moist sonofabitch, aren't you?
The kids get together for the party and start diving, trying to find the the scroll, as well as a bunch of other junk Arthur threw overboard, for prize money. Don and Charlie find the scroll, but they are harassed by Lakopolous's men, who try to steal it back. Charlie gets punched a lot, so at least it's fun to watch. But where is the scroll?

Will the scroll be returned to the museum? Will Don realize that Creepy Girl will never truly be his because she's like the wind, baby? Will Tad start collecting Social Security before his own father? Will we get to see the inevitable doctor visit for Charlie where he learns he has all the STDs? Will Fingers ever stop being soggy? You'll have to tune in to find out!

Larry was surprised to find that he actually enjoyed this movie. He also thinks that Creepy Girl is "beautiful." (His own words.) Also, he is a big fan of Robert Donner falling into water. It's a little weird, to be honest, but who are we to judge?

Derek just doesn't understand anybody's attraction to Creepy Girl. She is by no means CHUD-ugly, but he doesn't think she is all that great, and goes out of his way to point out that there are many more women on the beach that he finds more attractive. It's kind of rude on his part, really.

So put on your swimsuit, get your flippers, and tune in to this week's episode!

May 11, 2018

Jack Frost (1964)

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Guess what, you guys! It's Derek's birthday month! (That's a thing, right? He sounded like he knew what he was talking about...) And to celebrate, he is picking four weeks' worth of movies! And he even picked a theme: Unriffed versions of movies he loves from Mystery Science Theater 3000.

This week's movie is the 1964 Russo-Finnish co-production, Jack Frost starring Aleksandr Khvylya, Natalya Sedykh, Eduard Izotov, Inna Churikova, Pavel Pavlenko, Vera Altayskaya, and Georgiy Millyar.

Georgiy is there to provide the raw sexuality of Baba Yaga.
Ivan (Izotov) is a narcissistic, kinda dumb pile of muscles who can't stop looking at himself in the mirror. He is off for a walk in the woods, as one does, to see what he can see. And one of the first things he sees is a bunch of bandits who want to rob him and possibly eat him. Most disturbing of all is that the chief of these bandits (Anatoliy Kubatskiy) looks like a Schnauzer.

He robs people to fund his chew toy habit.
When he and his bandits confront van, he makes short work of them, and throws all their clubs in the air. When they don't immediately come back down, Ivan tells them they will come fall when the next winter comes. Then he goes on his way.

Meanwhile, somewhere else, young Nastenka (Sedykh) is doing the best she can to appease her evil stepmother (Altayskaya), as is normally required for this sort of story. The stepmother demands that Nastenka knit some new socks for her stepsister, Marfusha (Churikova), the stepmother's pride and joy. In order to get them done by her stepmother's arbitrary deadline, Nastenka convinces the sun to hold off on coming up, potentially throwing the entire Earth into total chaos, just so she can finish her little socks on time.

Back in the forest, Ivan continues strolling around and runs across Father Mushroom (Mikhail Yanshin), an elderly dwarf who is so hard-up for entertainment that he asks Ivan to play hide-and-seek with him, offering Ivan a new bow and some arrows if he catches the old man.

C'mon, old man...Lemme just lick your head once.
The game goes on for way too long, but the old guy cheats, so he gives Ivan the bow and arrows anyway. However, when Ivan refuses to bow to the old man in thanks, Father Mushroom decides to teach Ivan a lesson.

Blissfully unaware that Father Mushroom has all but doomed him, Ivan comes across Nastenka, who has been tasked by her stepmother to water an old stump until it blooms flowers. Ivan is instantly infatuated and asks her to marry him, despite the fact that he is in his early- to mid-twenties, and she is only about fourteen. She refuses, telling him she's not feeling it because he's too full of himself.

Not to be refused, Ivan tells her he'll shoot a bear with an arrow to show he can provide for her. She's not keen on it, and sticks a bucket on his head to keep him from doing it. When he pulls it off, he has the head of a bear.

Oddly, it makes him slightly less annoying.
Ivan is upset, so he goes looking for Father Mushroom to get his normal head back. Father Mushroom tells him that he must stop being such a self-centered dickhole, and, of course, Ivan gets it all wrong and assumes that all he has to do is a good deed, so he sets off to find someone in need of his help. His first few tries don't work, but when he finds an elderly woman who is having trouble carrying a bundle of wood, he gives her a piggyback ride across the mountains to her house.

Unfortunately, it still doesn't change him back, and he runs off into the forest, only to find the old woman's walking stick. Knowing she won't be able to get around without it, he decides he has to take it to her. Father Mushroom suddenly appears and sees that Ivan is finally willing to do something selfless, and he turns the young man back to his human form. Ivan realizes what happened, and heads out to find Nastenka again and win her love.

Nastenka's stepmother, meanwhile, is trying to get Marfusha a man of her own. She has arranged a meeting with a potential husband for her daughter, and she wants everything to go perfectly, so she gets Marfusha all gussied up.

Maybe she's born with it...Maybe it's beets and pancake batter.
However, when Marfusha proves unable to strangle a goose to cook dinner for her potential mate, he says he wants Nastenka, which sends the stepmother into a blind rage and she demands that Nastenka's father (Pavlenko) take his daughter into the forest and leave her there to die. She's super fun like that.

Nastenka's father takes her out into the woods, which are now covered in snow, but before he gets to the spot where he is supposed to leave her, he decides to stand up to his wife. He's not going to leave Nastenka! He's going to put his foot down!

Nastenka, however, is not willing to let her father take the fall for her, so she jumps off the cart and runs into the forest without her father realizing it until he gets back home. She finds a nice tree to sit under and maybe freeze to death, if that's okay with everyone. But before she can, she is found by Father Frost, who takes her to his castle where it is a little bit warmer. He leaves her there wtht he warning to never touch his staff, because it will cause her to freeze.

They have to call it an ice castle because "frozen sex dungeon" was not
received well by audiences.
Ivan, now lost and still unsure where to find Nastenka, decides to speak to a local witch, Baba Yaga, who lives in a cabin that rests on giant chicken legs. (No, really.) She tries to kill him by stuffing him in her oven, but he turns the tables on her and forces her to tell him where Nastenka can be found. When Ivan leaves to go after her, Baba Yaga sends her cat out to kill Nastenka.

The cat finds Nastenka before Ivan, and in doing so, causes her to do the one thing she was warned against doing: Touching Father Frost's staff. She freezes, the cat leaves, and Father Frost comes home to find her as a Nastenka-sicle.

Will Ivan arrive in time to save her? Can she even be saved? Will Mafusha ever get hitched? Is the sex between Nastenka's father and stepmother as hot as we all imagine it to be? You'll have to tune in to find out!

Derek picked this one because he is fascinated by the mixture of beautiful cinematography and batshit crazy storytelling. And the people who are a part of it are totally committed to it. You've got to respect that.

Larry was surprised to find that he enjoyed this movie. He gets a lot of fun out of the the stepmother and Marfusha. And what's not to like? They're funny, and they work well together. Also, we're pretty sure Larry thinks they're hot.

So put on your babushka, stretch out your barely-working bow, and tune in to this week's episode!

April 25, 2018

The Cannonball Run

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A lot of people might look down on the works of Hal Needham as a series of ridiculous, one-note stunt shows with jokes. And those people would, for the most part, be correct. But that's okay, because not everybody wants to sit through 180 minutes of two people discussing their feelings, even if it stars Meryl Streep and Sidney Poitier. Sometimes, a moviegoer wants to sit down and watch a 90-minute laugh-fest featuring Burt Reynolds slapping Dom DeLuise while Jack Elam mugs in the background.

Derek and Larry are two such people.

Straight-up raw sex appeal...and Burt Reynolds.
That's why they are finishing up their Hal Needham troika with a commentary of 1981's Cannonball Run, a film that pays tribute to the actual coast-to-coast race that ran for a number of years until 1979. (Needham himself took part in the final race, driving in the exact ambulance used in the movie.)

Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise are J.J. McClure and Victor Prinzim, respectively, and want to race in the Cannonball Run. However, they need a plan so they can make the trip without police interference. After throwing around a few ideas, they decide that driving an ambulance is the way to go. All they need is a doctor and a patient to make it look legitimate.

Meanwhile, we also meet Jamie Blake (Dean Martin) and Fenderbaum (Sammy Davis, Jr.), a couple of hard-drinking gamblers who are looking for a way in. They lay down a big bet with Jimmy the Greek (as himself), and head out to the starting line.

The line is hard to find when you are tanked to the gills, but they manage.
On the way, the two decide that dressing as priests is the way to go, although it is never quite explained how two priests driving a Ferrari will somehow avoid scrutiny, but that's for future scholars to discuss.

Over in Japan, we meet the Team Subaru, which consists of two drivers, Jackie Chan and Michael Hui. Their car is fully computerized, with a powerful rocket mounted in the trunk. They yell at each other a lot, and none of it is subtitled.

It's probably a safe guess that they are yelling about being cast as Japanese,
even though they are Chinese.
Other racers include Seymour (Roger Moore), who believes he is Roger Moore; Marcie and Jill (Adrienne Barbeau and Tara Buckman), a couple of Spandex-clad women who use their cleavage to get out of tickets; a sheik (Jamie Farr) who wants to buy his way into the race to show the superiority of Arabs; Mel and Terry (Mel Tillis and Terry Bradshaw), a couple of beer-swilling racers; Brad (Burt Convey) and his pal Shakey Finch (Warren Berlinger), who dress up as a married couple on a motorcycle; as well as a load of other people who don't get nearly as much screen time.

The "and the rest" of this movie.
The entire race, however, is in danger, as a naturalist named Arthur Foyt (George Furth), in an attempt to impress a beautiful photographer named Pamela (Farrah Fawcett), tries to get the whole thing shut down. Pamela, meanwhile is erotically fascinated with trees, it seems.

J.J. sends Victor on a mission to find a doctor to ride with them, and he himself decides that Pamela is the perfect candidate to be their patent, mostly because she is hot and bra-less.

Yeah, we're good with that.
Victor finds a doctor in the lumpy form of Nikolas Van Helsing (Jack Elam), who is really into sedatives, and the race gets underway.

There are too many storylines to keep track of, and most of the plot is a series of funny vignettes involving booze, sex, and Victor turning into his alter ego, the superhero named Captain Chaos. Chaos has a tendency to show up when he is not wanted, and never when he is needed, much to the chagrin of J.J. He does have his moments, though, such as when the entire race (at least the ones we recognize) gets into a fight with a biker gang led by Peter Fonda, because why the heck not?

Because once you've got this, Peter Fonda is almost a step back.
But who is going to win the race? Will it be J.J. and Victor? Will Pamela give up the goods to J.J.? Where does Foyt disappear to? How did Dean Martin manage to drive when he was so obviously hammered? How did Burt Convey get cast? What about Jamie Farr's character? (Not why anything in particular...Just why?) You'll have to tune in to find out!

Derek enjoys this film for the plain goofiness of it all, but he doesn't feel like it has the rewatchability of the first two Smokey and the Bandit movies. He wants to know more about the racers, as there wasn't really a lot of time spent on their stories. He would also like to see a Captain Chaos standalone movie. Maybe Marvel can get on that.

Larry disagrees with Derek, in that he is happy to watch it over and over again. He gets a real kick out of the pairing of Reynolds and DeLuise, and considers the addition of Jack Elam a huge plus. He, too, is worried about Dean Martin's liver, and is fascinated with the pairing of Terry Bradshaw and Mel Tillis. Who wouldn't want to see a movie with just those two?!

So fire up the radar detector, fuel up the race car, and tune in to this week's episode!

April 19, 2018

Smokey and the Bandit II

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Waaaay back in the late 70s, there was a kind of renaissance taking place. CB radios were becoming all the rage, country music was gaining popularity due to likes of people like Ray Stevens and Kenny Rogers, and Burt Reynolds' mustache roamed the Plains in all its glory. It was a wonderful time to be alive.

Reynolds, who had starred in serious films like Deliverance and The Longest Yard, was catapulted into stratosphere of fame when he took the lead role opposite Jackie Gleason in 1977's comedy classic, Smokey and the Bandit. It was a huge hit, so plans were made a short time later for a sequel, which brings us to this week's movie, Smokey and the Bandit II, which brings back the original cast, including Reynolds and Gleason, as well as Sally Field, Jerry Reed, Paul Williams, Pat McCormick, and Mike Henry, as well as drawing in the hilariously funny Dom DeLuise.

Reynolds and DeLuise: The pairing that America was waiting for.
Big Enos Burdette (McCormick) and Little Enos Burdette (Williams) are running for governor of Texas. Unfortunately, a battle is escalating between them and their rival, John Coen (David Huddleston). After Coen drops cow manure on the Burdettes with World War II-era planes during a campaign stop, they retaliate by dropping paint on him at a party he is throwing. This leads to all of them being summoned to the current governor's (John Anderson) office for a dressing down. As they are leaving, big Enos overhears the governor on a the phone, arguing with someone about getting something delivered from Miami to the Republican National Convention in Dallas. Big Enos decides that he can get back in the governor's good graces by having the delivery made himself, and hatches a plan.

The Burdettes track down Cledus "Snowman" Snow (Reed) at a truck race and offer him $200,000 to make the delivery with his partner, Bo "Bandit" Darville (Reynolds).  Cledus agrees, and he approaches Bandit with the offer. Unfortunately, Bandit is in no shape for the job; he is a drunk, and no longer has a car. Cledus enlists the help of Bandit's ex-girlfriend, Carrie (aka "Frog", played by Sally Field) after he and Bandit convince Big Enos to double the payment for the delivery.

Frog, however, is kind of busy at the moment, finally getting married to Junior Justice (Henry), whom she ran away from on their wedding day in the first movie. When Cledus tracks her down at the church, he calls and offers her $50,000 to come help, and she agrees, but not before having to deal with Junior's father, Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Gleason), who draws his gun to keep her from leaving a second time. Frog tells him she has to help Bandit, which sets off Buford's heart monitor, allowing for her to get by him.

And hilarity, as they say, ensues.
Frog arrives in time to get Bandit back into shape, after which she and Cledus present Bandit with a brand new Trans-Am, and they head out to pick up the crate in Miami.

When they arrive, they find out that the crate has been quarantined for three weeks, so they break into the warehouse and search for it so they can get it on the truck and get going. When they find the crate, it is way too big, so Bandit suggests they just open the crate, remove what is in there, and put that in the trailer. When they do, they discover that there is a full-grown elephant inside. It flips Bandit onto its back and takes off running. Stopping only after it gets a splinter in its foot. Bandit pulls it out, and the elephant, which they name Charlotte, immediately falls in love, saving Frog the horror of being pawed by Bandit.

But it doesn't stop him from administering the occasional "shocker" when
she gets in the car.
As they leave the dock where the crate was, they are confronted by Sheriff Justice and Junior, who intend to arrest them. Bandit challenges Justice to show his marksmanship abilities, thereby using up all of his bullets. As Bandit and Cledus drive away, Justice tries to shoot at them with Junior's gun, but it is empty because, according to Juniorm, the bullets make the gun too heavy. (Junior is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.)

After a little while, Cledus suggests stopping for gas and checking up on Charlotte. When they get her out of the trailer, they decide she looks unhealthy, and they try to figure out what to do about it. At the same time, an ambulance also arrives at the gas station, and they go speak to the doctor riding in the back, Dr. Carlucci (DeLuise). At first, he is reluctant to take a look because he is with a patient at the moment (and also having his lunch), but giving him a lot of money clears his schedule pretty quickly. However, when he discovers they want him to look at an elephant, he tries to run away, only to discover that his ambulance is leaving without him. He agrees to go along with them, provided they take him to Miami so he can treat his patient's swamp fever.

When they make a stop to check on the elephant again, Dr. Carlucci tells them he has discovered that Charlotte is pregnant, and he thinks they need to let her rest a little bit. Bandit reluctantly agrees, and while Charlotte rests, Bandit and Frog start talking, and he tries to get things going with her again. Charlotte is having none of that, and she essentially takes bandit as her prisoner, keeping him from hooking up with Frog.

Pregnant elephants be crazy!
After another bit of driving, Dr. Carlucci insists that they have to stop because all the bouncing around in the trailer is causing problems for Charlotte. They park the truck and head to a local club to see Don Williams perform. As they sit watching, Frog notices Bandit doodling on a piece of paper. he lies and tells her it's a poem, but she takes it and sees that it's a sketch of a harness that he thinks will take the pressure off Charlotte's legs, allowing them to finish their trip. Frog gets angry and insists Bandit is thinking of nobody but himself, and she leaves. Bandit, now drunk and angry, goes ahead and makes the harness, and it does its job, allowing them to get back on the road.

Sheriff Justice, having been eluded all this time, decides it's time to call for back-up in his pursuit, so he contacts his brothers: Reginald (also Gleason), a Canadian Mountie, and Gaylord (Gleason, as well), a Texas sheriff with a weird little deputy who looks like Fred Armisen with dreadlocks and a banjo.

Seriously, what is that creepy little dude's deal?
They bring their officers with them, setting up an ambush to get Bandit once and for all. Of course, Bandit goes for it, leading them on a chase in the desert, where they look like they are going to catch him!

Will he get away? Will they deliver Charlotte on time? Or will Charlotte deliver her baby instead? Will Frog come back? Will Derek and Larry ever stop pronouncing "Enos" as "anus"? You'll have to tune in to find out!

Larry had never seen this before. He was impressed with Jackie Gleason stepping up to play three different roles, even if one of them had that creepy little banjo guy following him. He also got a kick out of the cameos, of which there are many. In particular, he got a kick out of Mel Tillis showing up again.

Derek has seen this movie more times than he cares to remember, but he still enjoys it. And although he, too, is freaked out by the banjo guy, he enjoys seeing Dom DeLuise actually try to do some kind of serious acting, albeit in a funny context. Overall, he's pretty happy with this one, although he is adamant that the follow-up is absolutely awful.

So gas up your Trans-Am, put on your good mustache, and tune in to this week's episode!

April 12, 2018

The Villain

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Thousands of years from now, archeologists will be trying to figure out what we were like in the early days of our supposed "civilized" period. They will attempt to piece together the truth of our existence by looking at books we wrote, art we created, buildings we put up, and the ways we documented life.

One can only hope that they will not watch the movie Derek and Larry watched this time around and assume that it was a documentary, because it would cause all kinds of uproar and new, unanswerable questions.

F'rinstance, what is going on behind that cactus?
This week, the guys sat down to watch former stuntman Hal Needham's underappreciated 1979 classic Loony Tunes/Western hybrid, The Villain (also know as Cactus Jack in the UK and Australia), starring Kirk Douglas, Ann-Margret, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Strother Martin, Foster Brooks, Mel Tillis, Jack Elam, Ruth Buzzi, Paul Lynde, and Robert Tessier.

Douglas is Cactus Jack, a not-especially-talented outlaw whose horse, Whiskey, is smarter than he is. When Jack tries to rob a train and misses, he rides into the nearby town to rob the bank, which is run by a drunken clerk (Foster Brooks). When the clerk tells Jack that he doesn't have the combination to the bank's safe, Jack decides to blow it open with dynamite. Unfortunately, all he manages to accomplish is blowing up the bank, but not the safe. And when he tries to escape, he is caught by the local law and put in jail, where he is visited by the owner of the bank, Avery Simpson (Elam).

Finding Jack proves difficult, as Simpson's vision is based on movement,
like the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Simpson offers Jack a deal: He will get Jack out of jail if Jack agrees to find Charming Jones (Ann-Margret) and steal the money her father (Martin) sent with her before she gets to town, or be hanged for trying to rob the bank.

Jack agrees, and sets off with Whiskey to find Charming, who has met up with the powder blue-encased Handsome Stranger (Schwarzenegger), a not-so-bright pile of Austrian muscles that Charming's father saved from being beaten up by a group of firemen, for reasons that are too ridiculous to go into, some time ago. Handsome was sent to protect Charming as she made her way to town with the money.

Put those things away, ma'am, before I prematurely discharge my...firearm.
In his attempts to stop Charming and Handsome from reaching their destination, Jack begins setting traps; starting with a rope across the road meant to trip up the horses pulling the cart in which the two are riding. It doesn't get the horses, but it does get caught on the back of the wagon, dragging Jack and destroying his pants.

After a few more failures, including having a boulder dropped on him, running head-first into a rock wall he painted to look like a tunnel, having yet another boulder roll over him, and falling down a mountain while trying to see Charming stripping down to bathe in a river, Jack approaches the local Indian chief, Nervous Elk (Lynde), for help.

Yes. You read that right.
Nervous Elk agrees, completely failing to mention that he and his tribe have already been contacted by Simpson to keep an eye on Jack, making sure he doesn't steal the money for himself.

A plan is hatched for Nervous Elk and his men to join Jack in a raid of Charming and Handsome's camp at dawn. Unfortunately, this completely fails to happen, as it turns out that most of Nervous Elk's tribe do not know how to ride horses. They all fall off as soon as they start the raid, and all but two of the braves are injured and unable to continue riding. So Jack, Nervous Elk, Mashing Finger (Tessier), and the two braves who were not injured, ride after Charming and Handsome.

The entire time this is going on, Charming is doing everything within her power to get Handsome to give up his good stuff, but he is either too virtuous or too stupid to do so, causing Charming a lot of consternation.

How can she go after that lunkhead when she has the option of this
prime cut of beef?
After a few more failed traps, Jack gets ahead of Charming and Handsome and prepares to ambush them at Charming's family's property, stacking barrels of gunpowder in the main house to blow it up once they get inside. But will it work?

Will Jack finally manage to steal the money and deliver it to Simpson? Or will Charming and Handsome continue to unwittingly foil Jack's plans? And will Whiskey finally realize he is the brains of the operation and leave Jack for a more competent outlaw? You'll have to tune in to find out! (Or pick up the flick at Amazon for about $10, which is totally worth it.)

Larry is fascinated with Ann-Margret as Charming, and who wouldn't be? He is also endlessly amused by the different traps Jack sets up, only to have them fail, especially the ones involving boulders. He finds Handsome Stranger's cowboy outfit incredibly disturbing, however.

Derek is impressed with the way Kirk Douglas goes all-in with the over-the-top goofiness of Cactus Jack. He, too, is infatuated with Charming, as well as Whiskey the horse, who is clearly the smartest character in this entire movie. He is also terribly, terribly sorry to any Native Americans who had to sit through Paul Lynde as Chief Nervous Elk.

So shine up your spurs, watch out for falling boulders, and tune in to this latest episode!

April 4, 2018

The Princess Bride

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Well, it has finally come to the last in our series of Fantasy movies, and what a way to finish! This time around, Derek and Larry watched Rob Reiner's classic The Princess Bride, an incredible cast, including Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Andre the Giant, Fred Savage, Robin Wright, Peter Falk, Carol Kane, and Billy Crystal.

A sick boy (Savage) receives a visit from his grandfather (Falk), who tries to entertain the boy with a story about Princess Buttercup (Wright) who falls in love with a stable boy named Westley (Elwes) wo, whenever she asks him to do something, responds only with "as you wish."

Westley would later go on to become a tornado chaser in the Midwestern U.S.
Westley leaves to find his fortune (as one does when one wishes to marry a princess, we assume), but is thought to be dead when his ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts.

A few years later, Buttercup agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck (Sarandon), because she presumably does not want to die a spinster at the ripe old age of about twenty-ish, as people tended to do back in medieval times. However, before she can give up on life and marry the prince, she is kidnapped by three bandits named Vizzini (Shawn), Fezzik (Andre the Giant), and Inigo Montoya (Patinkin). Inigo and Fezzik do not seem to care for Vizzini, but they help him anyway because he might be able Inigo find the six-fingered man who murdered his father.

The bandits, shown here in a Tarantino-esque shot before Tarantino was a thing.
While escaping with Buttercup, the three find they are being followed by what appears to be the ship of the Dread Pirate Roberts. They stop at a high cliff face and Fezzik carries all three of them to the top, where they make a plan (except for Buttercup, who really seems disinterested in helping them for some reason) involving using Inigo as a primary defense, Fezzik as a secondary, and Vizzini as the guy who runs away with his kidnapping victim in tow.

Inigo waits on top of the cliff for Roberts to climb up so he can be killed. When it doesn't look like Roberts will make it, Inigo offers to throw down a rope to speed things up. After a bit of arguing about whether or not Inigo can be trusted, Roberts finally agrees, climbs up the rope, and the two talk while Roberts catches his breath. (Inigo is really a pretty friendly and helpful bandit.) Inigo even tells Roberts about the six-fingered man who killed his father. Then they fight with swords, and Roberts eventually wins and escapes, leaving an unconscious Inigo behind.

Next, he catches up to Fezzik, who basically throws Roberts around a bit and smashes him against a rock until Roberts chokes him out. He goes down hard.

When he catches up to Vizzini, he challenges him to a duel of the brains. Roberts takes two cups of wine, does some stuff behind his back, and tells Vizzini to choose, warning him that one has poison in it. Vizzini, believing himself a superior intellectual, goes on a long and unnecessary rant explaining why he believes he is smarter than Roberts, and then chooses a cup, which he drinks, and then immediately dies.

Genius has far less practical application in the real world
than you might think.
Roberts takes Buttercup and tries to leave, but she is having no part of it. When he tries to force her, she pushes him down a tall hill so she can get away. As he falls, he yells, "as you wish," about the only thing Westley said to her before they fell in love, and Buttercup realizes she made a mistake. So she throws herself down the same hill.

The two, now reunited, make their way through the Fire Swamp, where Westley tells her how he had been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts, only to learn that there had been several Dread Pirate Robertses and, when this one was ready to move on, he gave the name to Westley, who used his resources to track down Buttercup.

Aside from one minor attack by a giant rat, things go swimmingly through the Fire Swamp, only to end up with the two of them being caught at the end of it by Humperdinck and Count Rugen (Guest), Humperdinck's vizier who also happens to have six fingers on one hand.

Buttercup agrees to go with Humperdinck and marry him, provided he doesn't harm Westley. Humperdinck agrees, but then he secretly tells Rugen to take Westley prisoner and torture him.

When Buttercup complains that she is not happy and intends to kill herself if Humperdinck forces her to marry him, he agrees to search for Westley, although he really plans to killer her and make it look like a neighboring country did it in order to start a war. When Buttercup discovers Humperdinck never tried to find Westley, she starts mocking him, and he kills Westley

 Later, when Humperdinck orders all the thieves in the forest arrested, Inigo and Fezzik meet back up, and Fezzik tells Inigo about Rugen. They decide that the only way to get into the castle and kill Rugen is to get Westley to help them. They hear Westley's screams and follow them to where he is being kept, but it is already too late. Westley is dead.

Inigo, not one to let something like a little bit of death get in the way of his vengeance, has Fezzik carry Westley's body to the hut of Miracle Max (Crystal) and his wife (Kane), who determine that Westley is only mostly dead, and they might be able to fix that.

No, you put the lime in the coconut. Not the other way around, idiot.
But can they? Can they bring Westley back from (just) beyond the grave to save the princess? Will Inigo put Rugen, who most assuredly has difficulty finding comfortable gloves, out of his misery? Or will Fezzik get tired of the whole thing and just eat them all? You'll have to tune in to find out!

Derek picked this one, and with good reason. Rob Reiner is great at movies like this, and it shows he loves the material he is working with. The cast is phenomenal, the story is fun, and the whole thing is beautifully shot. Wallace Shawn's character was really obnoxious, though.

Larry has nothing bad to say about this film (except, like Derek, the Vizzini character's over-the-top personality), and he would watch it again without hesitation. He says he liked it so much that he had a hard time making jokes!

So buff up that tiara, put on your pirate mask, fire up your Princess Bride DVD, and listen to this week's commentary!

March 23, 2018

The Dark Crystal

To listen/download, click here!

Holy cow, you guys! Can you believe we're three-quarters of the way through our month of Fantasy movies that has taken a month and a half already? And to add to that, the guys sat down to watch another Jim Henson movie that involved a lot of puppets!

This time, the guys sat down to watch and comment on 1982's The Dark Crystal, featuring performances from Jim Henson, Kathryn Mullen, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, and, of course, the inimitable Frank Oz. It also features the voice talents of, among others, Stephen Garlick, Lisa Maxwell, Billie Whitelaw, Percy Edwards, Barry Dennen, and Jerry Nelson. Edgar Winter.
A thousand years ago (you know; four years before Labyrinth, a powerful and magical crystal was cracked, which led to the creation of two different species: the peaceful and benevolent Mystics--wizards on this world--and birdlike creatures called Skeksis. The Skeksis retained the now broken crystal and use it to replenish their energy.

The Mystics' High Priest (Henson/voiced by Nelson) is dying of old age. Before he goes, he tells Jen (Henson/voiced by Garlick), a Gelfling the Mystics rescued after his family was killed, that he must travel to see Aughra, an astronomer, to retrieve a shard and repair the crystal before the Great Conjunction, when their planet's three suns all align, Or the Skeksis will rule forever.

Only the best people...
In the Skeksis' castle, their Emperor (Brian Muehl) is also dying, and the others prepare to fight over who will take his place. The Chamberlain (Oz/voiced by Dennen) challenges the General (Goelz/voiced by Michael Kilgarriff) for the right to rule, but the General defeats Chamberlain and exiles him from the Skeksis' castle.

The Skeksis have a vision and learn of Jen's quest, so they send out an army of crab-like monsters called Garthim to find him. But just as they are about to catch him, Chamberlain stops them, giving Jen a chance to escape.

I'm sexy and I know it...
After much wandering around and talking to himself, Jen finally finds Aughra (Oz/voiced by Whitelaw), and she takes him back to her house where she has a box of shards that he has to go through to find the right one. He does, and she starts to explain the Great Conjunction to him, but before he can ask any followup questions, the Garthim show up, destroy the house, and take Aughra prisoner.

The Mystics hear the call of the crystal, and they leave the village and head--very slowly--toward it. Meanwhile, Jen continues his journey, and he meets up with Kira, a female Gelfling that has the ability to talk to critters, including Fizzgig, a wad of fur and teeth that looks a lot like Derek's dad's old dog.

But slightly less yappy.
They join him in his travels, and Kira takes them to a village of Podlings, where they attempt to get a good night's sleep. This is, again, ruined when the Garthim show up, destroy the village (these things are not subtle), and kidnap all the Podlings to take back to the castle.

Moving on, Jen and Kira discover an old Gelfling village and find a prophecy painted on a wall that describes Jen's journey to repair the crystal. As they look at it, Chamberlain arrives and tries to convince them that they should come with him to the castle because the Skeksis want peace. The Gelflings are not buying what he is selling, and they ditch him, choosing instead to ride Landstriders (they look like walrus/bat hybrids, but they have super-long legs and run really fast) the rest of the way to the castle.

Where they hope to get Fizzgig neutered. It's for the best, really.
The Chamberlain finds them in the lower levels of the castle and offers peace again, but they continue to not take him up on it, so he does what anybody would: He drops a bunch of rocks on Jen and takes Kira to the General, who reinstates Chamberlain to his old job and sends Kira to the Scientist to get her essence so he can stay young.

Will Kira become the General's personal juice box? Will Jen dig his way out and fix the crystal? Or will he die slowly, only to be consumed by Fizzgig in the bowels of the castle? And what about Aughra? Will someone please get her a bra? You'll have to tune in to find out!

Derek has loved this film since he first saw it. That has not changed. Sure, he said some mean things during the recording, but it was all meant with love. He did not, however, reveal that he had a serious crush on Kira when he was a kid, because that would just be weird and embarrassing.

Larry also loves the movie. He says it is perfect. He also does a pretty disturbing imitation of Chamberlain's creepy moan/whine. It's really off-putting. But that's okay because, as with Derek, it is done with a deep love of the film.

So put on your pointed ears, Hop on your Landstrider, and tune in to this week's episode!

March 17, 2018


To listen/download, click here!

(A Note from Derek: Hi, everybody. Sorry for the late post. It has been a bleh week, motivation-wise, and I just got behind. Also, we have been working with Larry's schedule, as he's been getting a lot of overtime, which means he ends up working on days we usually record. Hopefully, both of these issues will be under control soon. Anyway, enjoy this new commentary episode!)

The 1980s were a good time to be a muppet.

In 1979, Jim Henson released The Muppet Movie into the wild, where it garnered heavy accolades and opened up all kinds of doors for him. One of those doors led to his now famous Creature Shop. Another led to him being able to expand his horizons and make movies that were his dream projects. One was The Dark Crystal--in fact, that was his dream project. After that, went on to do this episode's movie, the second in our quartet of Fantasy-type films, 1986's Labyrinth, starring Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie, and a ton of the regular Henson muppeteers.

With special guest, David Bowie's horrible, terrible pants.
Jennifer Connelly is Sarah. She's your average 1980s teenage girl who fancies herself an actress and/or princess(?). Unfortunately, she has an infant stepbrother named Toby (Toby Froud) that she is saddled with when her father (Christopher Malcolm) and stepmother (Shelley Thompson) want to go out and enjoy themselves on the town.

Naturally, this teenager immediately gets tired of having to be in the same house as this crying poop machine, and she does what any other teenager would; she recites a spell that excites a bunch of tiny goblins and opens a doorway from their world to hers, allowing their king, Jareth (Bowie), to come and take Toby away to his castle. Happens all the time.

Holy shit, you guys! She said it! let's go!
Now terrified that she is going to get grounded for giving her stepbrother away to the king of the goblins (as one does), she freaks out and summons Jareth and begs him to return Toby. Jareth refuses, but offers her a chance to rescue the boy. However, she has to do it by making her way to his castle in the the middle of a gigantic labyrinth. And she only has thirteen hours to do it.

She starts on her way and, trying to be smart about it, marks each turn she makes. Unfortunately, everything in the labyrinth is stupid and evil, so that fails almost immediately. Fortunately, in her wandering around blindly, she runs across Hoggle (Shari Weiser/voiced by Brian Henson), a dwarf that is kind of a dickweed, but wants to have friends.

Bernie Sanders in a rare cameo!
He offers to help her, but his motives are not exactly on the up-and-up. Especially when Jareth comes to see him and insists that Hoggle keep Sarah going around in circles so she cannot save Toby in time.

Not long after, Sarah meets Ludo (Rob Mills/voiced by Ron Mueck), a gigantic hairball with ram horns and an underbite that makes him look like he is terribly sorry for whatever it is he did. But he's big and friendly, so Sarah brings him along to help her reach things on high shelves and dust hard-to-reach things. Hoggle, already the shortest of their group, feels threatened by this giant teddy bear and runs off.

Sarah and Ludo make their way to a pair of doors with talking doorknobs that require her to answer a riddle. She solves it and is allowed past and into a forest, where she misplaces Ludo.

Meanwhile, Jareth learns that babies are, in fact, rather moist most of the time
and wonders what's taking Sarah so long.
Hoggle is confronted by Jareth, who demands that the dwarf take a drugged peach and give it to Sarah, which will cause her to lose all of her memories and forget why she is there. Hoggle is reluctant, but he agrees.

In the forest, Sarah meets the Fireys. They try to pull her head off, only to be stopped by Hoggle, who has made his way back to her. Sarah is so pleased with Hoggle that she kisses him, and Jareth sends them both to the Bog of Eternal Stench, probably because even a Fantasy movie needs fart jokes.

While jumping on farting flat stones, they meet back up with Ludo, and then are introduced to Sir Didymus (Dave Goelz and David Barclay/voiced by David Shaughnessy), a fox that rides around on a sheepdog.

Hoggle! Can't you stop touching yourself even for a minute?
They continue on, but they're hungry. They stop for food, and Hoggle gives Sarah the peach, and then he runs off again. Sarah falls asleep and starts to dream about Jareth (and his upsetting pants), who proclaims his love for her. However, she starts to remember, and she wakes up in a fake version of her room in the middle of a junkyard. The Junk Lady (Karen Prell/voiced by Denise Bryer) tries to brainwash her, but Ludo and Didymus show up and save Sarah before it can happen. As an added bonus, they discover that they're not far from Jareth's castle!

As they are leaving the junkyard, Sarah finds Hoggle again, and although he tried to poison her, she forgives him, and he rejoins the group and they head toward the castle to confront Jareth and save Toby.

But will she save her stepbrother? Will Didymus ever come to the horrible realization that his riding a sheepdog is a metaphor for the slave trade? Will Ludo finally get tired of Hoggle and just eat him? You'll have to tune in to find out!

Derek picked this one because it's a cult classic and that sort of thing is right in his wheelhouse. Also, the music is pretty catchy, as it is in any Jim Henson film. Really, the only bad thing he has to say is about Jareth's pants. Why, oh why, did nobody consider giving him a codpiece?

Larry is willing to give Jareth's batch a mulligan and just enjoy the heck out of this movie. He loves the puppets, the music, Jennifer Connelly, and everything else about this movie. And, really, who can blame him? It really is great.

So put on your upsettingly form-fitting pants, poof up your hair, and listen to this week's commentary!