Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Next Stooge: Dopey Di... I mean, Ropey Richards


Scene: the offices of Sam Shovel, private investigator.  Wasn't The Maltese Falcon, like, nine years ago?  Anyway, either Moe is going to play Shovel himself, or they'll be buzzing around him like flies on... yup, the latter.  We start with Larry touching up the paint job on Shovel's door.  Now, on to the interior of the office, where the real action is.  Moe sets the scene for us by saying "Wotta day.  Moving that guy all the way from the thirteenth floor!"  To which floor?  Screenwriters, take note: always specify the floor he's been moved to.  Shemp walks up with a big handful of stuff.  Why, you can barely see Shemp's face!  And maybe that's a good thing.  First disagreement: Moe wants the lamp to go in the corner, but Shemp thinks it'll be better against the wall.  We get reduced to:

Moe: The corner!
Shemp: The wall!
Shemp: THE WALL!!!

Moe beats Shemp into submission just one time.  But before Shemp goes, Moe puts his feather duster in front of Shemp's face.  You know, just for good measure.  Shemp grumbles his way off camera.  Now, where's that other chucklehead?  Moe opens the front door and... yup.  Even though Larry was doing a dainty touch-up job earlier, he's moved on to more brute force work, and Moe ends up with a paint mustache.  Lol.  My joke tolerance level must be set kinda low today.  Gee, I wonder how Moe will retaliate this time?  Too good to spoil.  But they barely have time to wait for the laughs, as we hear Shemp sneeze, followed by a giant crash.  Next scene: Shemp in a heap on the floor, surrounded by all the stuff he was carrying.  We must actually be short on time this time, given Shemp's reaction.  Shemp laughs and says "Sneezed!"  I was expecting him to say "I faw down!" but we'll have to wait at least for Goof on the Roof for that.
Cross-fade to next scene.  Moe and Shemp come in to Shovel's office, dressed as dapper as can be.  Larry's still in uniform, but he's also asleep.  Larry has perfected the standing nap.  "It's five o'clock!" barks Moe.  Boy, those were the days, weren't they?  An actual nine-to-five job.  How quaint.
Now, it's time for Shemp to do a little role-play, or fantasize, or whatever you can think of to call it.  Time to kill some time, probably.  "Gee, it must be great to be a private eye," he says.  Hoh boy, here we go.... Reminds me of the episodes of All in the Family that hinge on a flashback, but they always start with one solid opening gag, kinda like the Stooges.  But rather than physically hitting each other, All in the Family hits at America's fragile psyche instead, with the eye pokes and smashings with foam tools of political incorrectness.  "You always have a stubby little gun in the top drawer, just in case of trouble!" says Shemp as he sits in Shovel's chair.  He looks in the drawer and it's filled with guns.  Lol.  But back to Shemp's description.  "What a life.  You could be relaxing just like this, when a beautiful dame rushes in."  And in rushes a beautiful dame... oh, wait, it's just Christine McIntyre.  Well, she seems more like a sister to me.  I guess she was a bottle blonde as well, just like Marilyn!
McIntyre rushes over to Shemp, and repeats the dialogue he just did.  "Strange men are following me!" she says exasperatedly.  "They'd be strange if they didn't!" retorts Shemp.  Moe and Larry just stand there, watching this train wreck unfold.  McIntyre persists.  She says "I can't make a move without..."  They all look at the front door.  There's a threatening looking silhouette of a man about to open it.  Boy, she wasn't kidding!  The silhouette quickly vanishes, and McIntyre screams.  The Stooges go to the door in strict single file.  Lol.  Next scene: the hallway, where the Stooges briefly scatter like marbles, then come back together for one of their trademark huddles.  "SPREAD OUT!" says Moe in the huddle.  Larry and Shemp leave the huddle and slam into the wall closest to them.  You know, I know the feeling.  Happens every time I try to look cool by swinging into the next task at hand.  Inevitably I end up stubbing my toe or slicing open my hand.  Actually, what happens a lot to me is someone will be walking towards me, but they're talking to someone behind them, so they can't see that they're about to crash into me.  Then they turn to walk forward and I have to jump out of the way to avoid crashing into them.  That kinda crap.  Well, it's only human, I suppose!  So, Moe tries the door at the far end of the hall, then heads left, while Larry and Shemp meander past the camera like two zombies.  Lol.
Back to McIntyre, hiding out in the offices of Sam Shovel, Private I.  She's busy looking through some paperwork on the desk when... she gets kidnapped by a guy in black gloves and a trenchcoat.  That was fast!  Back to the Stooges, reconvening in the hall outside the offices of Sam Shovel, Private Eye.  Larry and Shemp have de-zombified, and have nothing to report to Moe.  They all go back inside to talk to McIntyre and... they notice she's gone!  Larry tries the other door, while Moe and Shemp "accidentally" bump heads under Shovel's desk.  Moe's about to let Shemp really have it, when... wait a second.  Hold everything.  Did Moe actually hit Shemp in the face?  Because Moe looks a little concerned!  Guess they couldn't do a second take.  Anyway, back to the plot.  Larry's on the trail of the crime.  He notices that McIntyre left some jewelry behind, and a note for them... well, for Sam Shovel, Private I.  But the Stooges will gladly take it in his stead.  Gladly.  It's a Stooge world short, after all!
Moe takes the lead and reads the note aloud for our benefit: "Please help me.  Take my jewels.  They're all I have.  Come to 275 Mortuary Road quickly, or it will be too late."  Why, it's a crime caper even the Stooges could solve!  And it gives the Stooges a chance to not only be heroes, but gallant heroes in the tradition of Uther Pendragon and the house of Merlin.  It's not about the financial remunerations!  The nobility of the deed is recompense enough, and Moe says as much... just not as eloquently.  Also, gotta admire Larry's line reading of "We gotta help her."  Some could be cynical and say that he sounded tired, but I say he sounded... meh, close enough.  Shemp goes back into Impresario / Storyteller Mode about being a private eye.  Moe, growing weary of his elder brothers' shtick, turns to Professor Moe mode, but with a mean streak.  "Well, Sherlock, how are you gonna handle the case?" he asks Shemp.  "I'll use my wits!" says Shemp.  "Now, she's REALLY in trouble!" retorts Groucho... I mean, Moe.  Shemp goes for one of the guns in the gun drawer.  "Oh yeah?  I oughta letcha have it!" says Shemp, pointing the gun at Moe's gut.  God bless the NRA.  I wonder sometimes if they're confusing "freedom" with "chaos."  Professor Moe's not backing down, however.  He is now in Sing Sing, no question about it.  Moe says "Well?"  Oh, dude.  It's GoodFellas and "What do you mean?  Funny how?" time.  No question.  Shemp gives Moe the gun and says "You can have it."  My mere description doesn't do this exchange justice.  It gets better, if only for me.  Moe hits Shemp upon his hat... but wait!  Where's the tell-tale bonk sound?  It's just the sound of a hat getting hit!  No less painful, though.  Shemp removes his hat, shows the damage to Moe and says "Look what you did!"  "I'm not finished," says Moe and smites Shemp on the head proper with the gun, unimpeded by a hat this time.  NOW we get the trademark "bonk" sound.  That's more like it.
Now it's time to move the plot forward.  Moe kindly escorts Larry and Shemp out of the offices of Sam Shovel, Private Investigator.  For some reason, Shemp has a little trouble getting out the door.  Hope that didn't hurt too much!
Next scene: a dark country road someplace, hopefully not the Pacific Coast Highway.  That can be tricky, even if you're sober.  It's that kind of road that makes people drink and drive!  A bolt of lightning disturbs the quiet of night, but soon it's back to a small patch of uphill desert terrain, illuminated by the full moon, I assume.  A car passes by.  Must be the bad guy.  Next scene: the offices of the bad guy, where a fella is hanging up a trench coat.  Much like the one we saw earlier!  Boo, hiss...  The guy removes his black gloves and goes over to his boss, Frank Costanza... I mean, Philip van Zandt, who's about to test his prototype of a mechanical monster.  The Stooges are now competing with Ed Wood!  Fortunately, the Stooges have production values and unionized labor on their side.  van Zandt watches in amazement as his mechanical man looks for a tar pit to wander into.  Unfortunately, the mechanical man gets quickly beheaded by a metallic chandelier, making an hilarious gong sound.  Alas, this is why lone mad scientists never get anywhere: no time for good quality quality control.  I mean, what's the point of having an army if the soldiers lose their heads over things potentially dangling in front of said heads?  "That's the third head he's ruined!" says van Zandt.  Good punchline.  Also, there's probably something wrong with the vacuum tube computer technology used to guide the "mechanical man"... I mean, mannequin.  van Zandt does some quick thinking and decides that he has to... sheesh.  I'm trying not to use the phrase "game change" here.  How about paradigm shift?  Well, fortunately for the fans of comedy out there in the audience, he doesn't do much of a shift.  Apparently, there's nothing wrong with the soldier the way it is.  Just the head!  As van Zandt tells his assistant, "He simply can't see where he's going."  Therefore, get the mechanical guy a human head and... problem solved!  Well, if all you use is a hammer, pretty soon every problem looks like a nail.  And van Zandt has at least planned ahead a little bit.  He takes his assistant, and us, over to his fancy-shmancy head-chopping apparatus.  Basically a table with a human head-sized hole in the middle of it, and a giant blade that swivels around and beheads whatever is sticking through the hole at the time.  It's like a giant Swiss army knife; at least, the giant blade part of the apparatus.  Now, this device may look silly to you and me, but I'm sure the Stooges' screenwriters will find some clever way to get the Stooges to stick their heads up through that hole.  You just wait.


Yup, it looks like we're headed back into A Bird in the Head territory.  Comfort cinema, if you please.  The Stooges arrive at the front door of 275... 275 Mortuary Road!  I recall that now!  Epic.  Iconic.  Not "Room 237" iconic, but close enough.  It's got the Stooges' bump now!  Scene: the dark of night.  The Stooges walk up to the door, and another bolt of lightning splits the night in half.  The Stooges shudder with cold and fear.  It's God at work with his Polaroid camera again.
The Stooges ring the doorbell.  "Ah!" says van Zandt.  Finally!  Someone he can use for his half-assed head experiment, seeing as how his assistant pussed out... say!  What happened to McIntyre, incidentally?  Oh well.  No time for that now.  The Stooges are tightrope walking on the precipice of danger!  No one answers the door right away, so Shemp says "No one's home!  Let's go!"  Moe grabs Shemp and says "You wanted to be a private eye.  Now you gotta go through with it!"  van Zandt looks at the Stooges with his periscope, conveniently located in his lab.  van Zandt sends his assistant to let them in!  In this rare instance, three heads are indeed better than one... even though they are the Stooges' heads.  Go figure.
Moe starts knocking on the door... they're not gonna... yup!  No gag is too moldy for the Stooges.  Moe knocks on the assistant's head.  The assistant does not flinch.  He says "Come in, gentlemen!" rather creepily.  The Stooges oblige, of course.  At least, after Shemp tries to walk away a second time.  Lol.  The assistant is named Ralph and is played by Stanley Price.  I don't know if he's actually related to Vincent Price, but Stanley does seem to be doing an impression of him, even if he doesn't fully realize it himself.  Check out his face when the lightning strikes a third time.  Lol.  Ralph offers to take the Stooges' hats, but Moe insists on hanging on to his.  Therefore, they all do.
Moe subtly gets to work being a detective, and he asks Ralph about McIntyre.  I almost forgot about her myself!  This gives the boys a chance to do their "YES?  YES YES?" routine.  Love it.  Someone ought to have a website dedicated to all those instances... Ralph says "Haven't seen her."  Lol.  Nice try, buddy.  Moe's not having any of it and digs in his heels.  Ralph gives Moe the Jedi mind-meld, saying "Suppose you step in and see the master."  Ralph's in charge again.  The Stooges all head off to see the master.  "Just a moment... one at a time," says Ralph.  Ralph's doubly in charge.  Oh, right.  They'll get beheaded one at a time.  Wicked clever.  Ralph then takes a shine to Larry's shiny head, much like Vernon Dent's head fetish in A Bird in the Head.  Jealous of the attention lavished upon Larry's fine head of bone, Moe says "Just a minute!  I'm the brains of this outfit!"  "BRAINS!  Come with me," says Ralph.  This guy's a Jack Brown Genius, I tells ya.  Lightning strikes again.  Ralph escorts Moe to the master's room.  Larry and Shemp turn to leave.  Boy, that's loyalty for you.  Ralph has to do everything around here!  "Don't go away, gentlemen!" he says.  Ralph and Moe disappear into the master's lab.  Larry takes charge, ordering Shemp to keep an eye on Ralph, while he goes to look for the girl.  Considering the previous Stooge short, McIntyre's not going to be happy to see Larry.  Her pecking order seems to be Shemp, then Moe, ... then ANYBODY ELSE... THEN Larry.
Ralph introduces Moe to the master / professor.  "This is the best of the lot, Professor, which isn't saying very much," he says about Moe.  I love this guy more and more each second.  The professor tells Ralph, "That will be all, Ralph!"  Moe parrots the professor, and Ralph walks off looking pissed.  Ralph!  Ralph!  Ralph!  I'm missing that crazy bastard already.
And so, the professor gets to work, trying to remove Moe's head from his neck.  "Look into that hole!" he tells Moe.  There's a dirty joke there someplace.  For some reason, I thought they'd have to go under the table and stick their head up through, but seeing as how the blade slices perpendicular to the table rather than parallel to it, I guess that does or doesn't make sense.  Either way, the ruse is dubious at best, and criminally stupid at worst.  Moe takes a brief look and quickly pulls his head back.  He says to the professor, "Sort of a garbage disposal!  I didn't see anything!"  Gee, what's the professor going to do next?  Tell Moe to take a longer look?  ...what's the opposite of evil genius?  The professor makes the blade swish, and Moe ends up running for the door, screaming... with his head still intact, incidentally.
Shemp's on the other side of the door and says "Every man for himself!"  Lol.  Shemp tries to open the front door to leave, but the doorknob is a comedy doorknob, and it won't let him escape.  Shemp runs back down the hall.  But before he does that, he does a little jump before running, like Stan Laurel used to always do.  Shemp tries the curtain on the right side of the hallway and stumbles upon McIntyre, bound and gagged in a chair.  Could this mystery get any simpler?  The professor would've gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling Stooges!  "Well, untie me!" says McIntyre after he removes her gag.  Geez, what a dummy.  Meanwhile, the professor's got Moe cornered in his lab.  Moe knocks some stuff off the table, and it makes an awful racket.  The kind of racket you usually hear when an even more epic fight breaks out in a room, and the people fighting really go to town destroying the place.  In this case, Moe and the professor are trying not to do any damage.  It's a Columbia set, after all!  They're not made of money.  Moe runs to Stage Left and tries to open the door.  The professor grabs a long-ass sword and goes after Moe with it.  Moe nyaahs like Curly used to and tries to reason with the angry professor.  The professor lunges and the sword goes through the door.  What's on the other side of this door?  Larry's ass, of course.  Boioioioing, goes Larry's ass.  As if that wasn't bad enough, Larry lunges forward and sticks his face on a cactus-like thing on a table in front of him.  He pulls it off and looks at it, but the scene ends too quickly to get a good look at the object.  What was that, anyway?  A comb?  A cactus?  A cactus comb?  Back to Moe, who's managed to subdue the professor enough to get away.  Moe tries to talk some sense into the professor's headless soldier, but Moe eventually gets scared and heads for the exit.  Boy, Ralph was right.  Moe is the least rotten apple in the barrel!  (This just in: check out the shadow of the light fixture on the door that Moe goes through.  Nice job, Farrar!)
Back to Shemp, who's just finished untying McIntyre.  Editors take note: just cut to the chase.  Unless you're Lars von Trier's editor, cut to the chase.  If you're Lars von Trier's editor, leave everything in.  Meanwhile, back at the lab... sorry, wrong non sequitur.  McIntyre says "Those men are fiends!  LOOK!" and shows Shemp a newspaper.  Shemp reads the banner headline for the benefit of the audience, and the filmmakers who couldn't afford to do a cutaway to a newspaper.  The professor and Ralph apparently escaped from a state hospital, which back then meant the looney bin.  Ah, the socialized medicine of old.  How quaint, like the Geneva Conventions.  Shemp tries to assure McIntyre that she's safe with him, saying "Nothing's gonna happen while I'm around."  Great setup, huh?  Also, a Sweeney Todd reference, but who cares?  And so, a hand with a knife in it rises up like an oil derrick behind Shemp, thereby contradicting what he just said.  McIntyre screams, and exits Stage Right.  Shemp shudders and turns around to try and figure out what the hell just happened.  She wasn't screaming because she finally got a good look at my ugly mug, was she?  No, it must've been something behind me.  Meanwhile, we go back to McIntyre, who's standing next to a bookcase.  And before we get a chance to blink, the bookcase starts turning around at about 12 fps.  This is the real deal kinda haunted house, my friends.  Oh, it's the real deal Holyfield, don't kid yourselves.  The wall does a 360 and McIntyre gets swallowed up completely.  Shemp turns back around to find that McIntyre's lost, and he does a double take, or a shudder, whatever you prefer to call it.  His fear quickly dissipates, and he brushes off her disappearance by saying "Gone again!  What makes her so restless?"  But then... he turns back around and sees that the curtain behind him is moving.  Time to get a heavy, blunt object.  A candelabra!  That'll do nicely.  And CLANG!  Yup, it grunted like Moe.  And sure enough... lol.  Moe appears from behind the curtains with an angry look on his face.  "Is your head okay?" asks Shemp.  Moe says "Yeah, yeah, pretty good!  What did you hit me with?"  This has got to be a first.  Now, some of you might say that Moe's violating the Stooge code by saying that line, but I like that kind of thing.  I'm a sick boy, what can I say?  Of course, Moe has Shemp hand him the candelabra.  "Oh!  Pewter!" says Moe before he smites Shemp on the head with it.  Shemp has to keep the plot moving, though.  No time to nurse his latest head wound.  He tells Moe that he found the girl, but that she disappeared again.  Moe echoes the language, saying "That's it!  Disappear!  That's what we gotta do!  C'mon."  That's right.  Screw Larry and McIntyre.  It is indeed truly every Stooge for his Stooge-self now.  But Moe and Shemp will have a little trouble vanishing from this crazy-ass haunted house.  First obstacle: the window, which seems to be blocked by Ralph clenching a scimitar between his teeth.  I mean, it's bad enough already getting scared by the old-timey flapping window curtain.  The duo run the other way.  Just then, the professor comes into the room and holds aloft a big-ass knife of his own.  Moe and Shemp delicately back away.  The professor's out for blood, but he's apparently not ready to swipe at the Stooges for it yet.  Moe and Shemp fall through the trick bookcase at this point, delicately falling to the ground in the next scene.  Oh, dude!  I guess it was them, after all!  Shemp stays on the ground to take a nap, apparently, while Moe heads for the nearest door.  Moe tests the door and then hides under the covers of the bed... hmm!  What deviltry is he up to?  After that, a clap of thunder rings out as Shemp crawls under the bed.  Bad sound work, guys.  Bad direction.
Next scene: Okay.  So now we got Moe in bed, and Shemp under it.  Time to kill some time, guys.  Shemp turns over on the floor and apparently gets scared by the camera, so he pulls the sheet down to cover himself up, thereby uncovering Moe, who's just trying to hide.  The secret bookcase panel opens up, and out comes Ralph with a big meat cleaver.  He eventually sees Moe, and his face lights up with delight.  Ralph kicks ass! We see Moe sitting there, with his fingers over his eyes.  Pathetic.  Ralph moves in for the kill, Michael Curtiz style!  Epic.  Alas, Moe notices at the last second, and Ralph just makes a hole in the mattress with the cleaver.  He missed Moe completely... there's a joke there someplace.  Anyway, Ralph's on the mattress, and apparently he's of a higher density than Moe, because the mattress buckles under his weight and falls to the ground, thereby lightly crushing Shemp, who moans low.  Next scene: Shemp didn't scream as loud to their liking in this part, so they dubbed him in later.  This second one doesn't look dubbed in, though!  It passed the smell test.  Meanwhile, Ralph chases Moe back through the bookcase.  What is this?  A video game?  They're going to wear the bookcase out!
Next scene: Larry returns from contract negotiations.  He always gets the worst of it, despite his seniority.  Larry runs over and struggles to lift the mattress off of Shemp.  Wotta weakling!  Geebus.  But just then, and screenwriters should probably take note of the timing of this, the professor comes in with a knife and a bucket.  The two most important tools of a wannabe beheader, of course.  Larry sees the professor at the last possible minute, but is quick enough to give the professor a light punch in the gut and run off, leaving Shemp alone with the madman.  It's still every Stooge for himself, especially since it's nowhere near the end of the flick yet.  "Gimme a hand!" says Shemp to who he thinks is Larry.  The professor, still eager for someone's severed head, gladly extends a hand to Shemp.  Shemp takes about ten seconds to get on his feet from under the mattress.  But the professor is nothing if not a gentleman, and he gives Shemp a fighting chance before trying to behead him.  Shemp manages to push against the professor's hand holding the knife.  These kinds of knife struggles seem to happen a lot in the movies.  I wonder if they ever happen in real life?  Shemp and the professor head over to the wall, which they bump into... thereby, dislodging a vase.  Fortunately, God has seen fit to bless Shemp, and the vase hits the professor, thereby putting the professor in yet another daze.  That's like, what, the third daze for this poor guy so far?  I've lost count.  Shemp goes through the bookcase wall, and makes the chair swivel a little bit.  Apparently, it's hanging by a peg on the wall.  Lol.  Oh, and as YouTube's Anahi Davila rightly points out, apparently Shemp says "Mary" in addition to Moe and Larry.  More fun.


Oh dear!  Four minutes and change left.  Time for the Third Act.  And I can't think of a better way to start it than with this next scene.  It's a dilly, I tells ya!  Shemp comes out into the hall to hear Moe and Larry screaming.  Moe and Larry head for different doors, followed by Ralph and his cleaver.  What's interesting about this scene is that Shemp's a witness to it.  Normally, just the audience is the witness in these hallway situations.  Next scene: Ralph picks the room Larry went into.  And as you can see, Larry has disguised himself as a lamp, much like Moe did in Dutiful but Dumb.  Ralph instinctively pulls Larry's tie, and the light comes on, of course.  Larry can't leave the room, on account of he'll ruin the light bulb gag, so we go to Shemp using a bit of brain.  Shemp heads for the phone to make a call.  The police?  No, of course not!  The state hospital!  Duh!  Unfortunately, the operator needs the number.  Fortunately, there's a big stack of them on the table a few feet away from the phone.  Shemp hangs up and goes over to look through the directory.  Are you not on the edge of your seat, folks?
Meanwhile, back to Larry.  Ralph's on the verge of discovering Larry, so Larry tries to make a break for it.  He opens the door, but the professor's waiting there with his knife, so Larry hits the professor in the gut with his lampshade... thereby totally disarming the professor, of course.  Larry pulls his tie and turns off the light, then prepares to do battle with Ralph.  Thank God there are no loose ends for me to fret about!
Next scene: Larry runs around that noisy-ass tray.  Unfortunately, it's empty now, so nothing nice and metallic drops.  The tray just gets shaken up a bit, but that's it.  Then, Larry runs around the headless mechanical man, and Ralph desperately tries to hack at him with the cleaver.  Lol.  Larry escapes through the other door, and this is where Ralph gets defeated.  Huzzah, Lawrence!  Next scene: Larry's in the next room, so time to find a place to hide in plain sight.  How about under the table?  Perfect.  Absolutely perfect.
Next scene: Ralph's still struggling with the door, but the headless mechanical man has fired up again, and is slowly walking around the room.  Surely, his part in the story's not over yet?  Next scene: back to Shemp, still struggling with the phone book, but I have a feeling he's about to find the right number.  Did I call it or what?  Oh no.  He's not... yup!  It's Oxford 0614 all over again.  Rip-off artists.
Next scene: yup.  That was quick!  The headless mechanical man finds the hallway and is heading towards Shemp.  Surely, this headless man's not been programmed to kill?  I have a feeling Shemp might get freaked out a little, though.
Shemp finds the number again and starts to make the call.  But before he can say the number, the headless man bumps into Shemp.  "Larry, is that you?" asks Shemp.  Lol.  Shemp doesn't turn around, and just tries to feel the person behind him to see if it's Larry.  He doesn't find a head with curly hair, though... in fact, no head at all!  The headless mechanical man moves away from Shemp and continues his journey down the hall.  Bam.  Shemp gets freaked out and runs into the nearest room he can find.
Next scene: Shemp gets into this room and slams the door shut.  Larry reacts by hitting his head on the table he's under.  Wotta dope.  Reminds me of the Phil Spector movie, for some reason.  It's one of those tables you can split in half, of course.  Stooge films always should have one.  Why, even Twice Two had one.  How else to get the cake on Stan's wife?  Larry splits the table and sticks his head up through the opening.  He says "Hey Shemp!", then freezes so he can freak out Shemp, and stretch out time to 16 minutes.  Wotta putz.  Shemp freaks out and leaves the room.  "What's the matter with him?  I'm still in one piece!" says Larry.
"Oh, yeah?" retorts Ralph and his cleaver.  RALPH!!!!  Love that guy.  Unfortunately for Ralph, he's about as smart as a Stooge.  Larry removes himself from under the table, and Ralph ends up where Larry once was, and Larry is able to close the two halves of the table onto Ralph, thereby freezing him and his cleaver in place.  I didn't know you could lock those tables into place, but that's apparently what happens.  "Now, don't go away!" says Larry.  Ralph is totally subdued, but Larry gets scared anyway.  That figures.  Larry runs off, back through this maze called the haunted house.  Ralph goes "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh...." like a pissed-off rattlesnake.
Next scene: Shemp starts to go through a door of his own, but finds Moe on the other side of it.  Scary enough, seeing as how often Moe beats the crap out of Shemp, so he slams the door in Moe's face and runs some more.  As it happens, Moe's in a closet, but he doesn't know how big the closet is.  And before you know it, the head-hungry professor's behind him.  But Moe finally realizes it after he's trying to open the case that the professor handed to him, and after he sees the professor's knife.  Moe lets out a half-assed whine as he struggles with the professor over the knife's final destination.  Back to Shemp, who finally realizes that it was Moe all along, so he doubles back.  Meanwhile, Moe quickly overpowers the professor and escapes the closet.  Just after that, Shemp heads back into the closet.  This seems very familiar... well, usually one of them has piled a bunch of stuff in front of the door, so they have to move it all and let the bad guy in.  So it's a little different.  Shemp gets into that closet and says "Oh, for a look at a friendly face."  Oh, the irony.  Shemp peels back the coats and... dayamn.  van Zandt looks like one of the Gremlins!  Shemp tries to escape the closet, but finds himself in the opposite situation from a few seconds ago.  Moe's in the hall this time, and not only does he close the closet door, but locks it as well!  Figures.  To rub more salt into that wound, McIntyre and Larry run up to Moe.  They've found a secret passageway, so the three of them minus Shemp head off to it.  Larry does wonder aloud where Shemp went, but Moe says "He got away, and I got the professor locked in the closet."  Moe quickly swallows the key for good measure, and to amp up the dramatic tension.  How's Shemp going to get out of this one?


Next scene: where the hell are they?  They seem to be outside in the dark.  A car passes by.  Fortunately, Shemp catches up to Moe, Larry and McIntyre.  The car stops, and they all quickly pile into it.  "Safe at last!" says McIntyre.  That is, until she sees who's driving.  Gee, I hate to spoil that one............

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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