Sunday, July 28, 2013

Short Reviews - July 2013

Ah, close enough.  I don't feel like looking for an image.

Looking forward to George Romero's latest: Twitter Feed of the Dead.  Boy, those zombies really know how to compete in a 21st century world!

The Way Way Back - Oh, I hope it's based on the Wayback machine!  What was that, Hanna Barbera's Harlem Globetrotters?

Mooz-Lum - Danny's getting too old for this $#!...........

Dumb & Dumber 2 - Just got word from a Facebook ad that principal photography begins on this in September.  Then I just realized ... Holy crap!  Jeff Daniels is doing that HBO show "The Newsroom" or whatever it's called.  Maybe the Farrellys can get Aaron Sorkin to do a little ghost writing on the script!  Nah, probably too many Chayefsky-an references.

Finding Forrester - OVER THE RAINBOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Meet Joe Black - OVER THE RAINBOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Girl Most Likely - Oh no... this isn't another one of those Richard Curtis monstrosities, is it?

Having Babies II - With Paula Prentiss, so NO, it's not a porno.

The Bride Wore Black - Kill Gilles, Vol. Un

Paradise - Oh, Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith... why canna you make-a nice-a movie about two people in love?  Too bad Nicholas Sparks wasn't invented yet!

Shoot to Kill - Good double bill with Last of the Dogmen.  Make it a Tom Berenger night!

Out For a Kill - To call it the worst Steven Seagal movie would be kind.  Let's just say it's comfortably average.  Somewhere between Out For Justice and Hard to Kill, of course.  Seagal himself apparently didn't find it that interesting, as he dubbed in most of his lines!

The Two Jakes - LEBOWSKI!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Heathers - Seen by Diablo Cody

"Alfred Hitchcock Presents" - Saw the one with Zalman King.  I'm assuming he was in only one.  It didn't make any of the papers I read, but he died last year at the age of 69.  See?  The punchline writes itself!

Paranoia - Wait... who was that old, old man in it?  HARRISON FORD??!!!?!!  Ouch...

The Beast - With Erick Avari in his last serious role... have I done that one already?

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story - I never realized how much Bruce Lee's life was like a bad Bruce Lee movie!

Fruitvale Station - Well, I don't know what true story this film is based on, but I know Dick Wolf is sitting there going "I've been doing this true story stuff for years!  But where's MY Indie Spirit award?"

Fast & Furious 7 - This is getting out of hand... they should've stopped about four or five sequels ago

Taxi for Two - TOTAL rip-off of the scene from Super-Hooper Dyne Lizzies... then again, they both have the same director.

Day For Night - With the lovely Jacqueline Bisset, who still can't help but wonder what the hell she was doing in this crazy-ass movie to begin with

The Passion of the Cuspid, or There Will Be Pain

Whew!  I hope the next one's not another Western!... oh, crap, it is.  But tis another childhood favourite for some reason.  Whoever put these on VHS way back when, almost a generation ago, picked the best ones first.  Time for The Tooth Will Out.


They're not mincing actions this time!  Spoiler alert: the Stooges get fired from not just one, but two jobs within the space of a minute... thanks to judicious editing, of course.  Their first employer at the Dainty Dolly Dish Co. sounds like Emil Sitka.  In a fit of rage, he apparently has the strength of at least four men, as the Stooges come tumbling down the steps of the Dainty Dolly Dish Co. and onto the pavement.  But at least their ex-boss has the decency to throw them their hats!
Now, apparently, this Stooge short is an old-timey Western, but you might not know it from the scenery.  They're big city cowboys at the moment, dressed in fancy old-timey cosmopolitan duds.  As Moe informs us indirectly, they just got fired for dropping a bunch of dishes.  Their next job: as dishwashers at a restaurant.  What'll they think of next?  Hiring an arsonist as Fire Chief?
Cross-fade to the egg-zact moment when they lose their jobs at Vesuvius Restaurant.  The Sitka boss at this place is not so forgiving.  We don't really need specifics, do we?  The Stooges were apparently hired before their résumés could come over the telegraph.  After that, however... all bets are off.  The Stooges barely have a minute to rest on the pavement after this firing when Sitka the Chef is standing in the restaurant's doorway, brandishing a rather sinister looking meat cleaver.  And.... they're off!  Thereby inspiring a similar scene in Woody Allen's Radio Days.
Now, maybe it's just me and a minor detail, but none of the people on the sidewalk look particularly old-timey, aside from the bowler hats.  Okay, back to the action.
Fortunately for the Stooges, Sitka's not a good tracker, and they're able to zig into a doorway.  Sitka runs by, and the Stooges find safety in an office.  They'll find out what it is soon enough.  I think Tassels in the Air started off in a similar fashion... okay, maybe not.  But I'm pretty sure they've found a new occupation after running from the cops at least once.  Boobs in Arms is sort of like that.  They confuse a breadline for an army recruitment line and Boom!  Whoops, I'm a soldier!
It's a little early for Act Two, but it seems like it starts here, as the plot makes what I like to call a big creaky left turn.  Vernon Dent welcomes the Stooges to his office and asks "You came in answer to my advertisement, of course?"  Of course!  Fake it 'til you make it: that's the Stooges' motto.  Or maybe, fake it 'til you're sure that whoever's chasing you is gone.  And so, it's time for a little fun with verbal ambiguity.  Hey, it worked to gangbuster effect in 1995's Houseguest, right?  Am I alone on that?  Probably.  And so, having no idea what Dent does or what he wants the Stooges to do, Dent says "This way, please!" and off the Stooges go, at Moe's stern non-verbal suggestion.
Next scene: it appears to be a lab for students!  Sorry, I already know what the place is.  Larry is very interested by a Bunsen burner burning away on the table.  And then, Dent introduces the instructor, Miss Beebe, portrayed by the Stooges' Katherine Helmond, a lucky gal named Margie Lizst.  Wow!  According to her IMDb Top 4, this is one of the things she's known for!  I feel a little lucky myself.  She plays ugly by wearing glasses and giant buck teeth.  Even at 55 years old, Shemp can still afford to be picky.  He gets one look at Miss Beebe... note the name, by the way (pronounced B. B.) ... and he does a massive double take.  Thank goodness his heart didn't as well.  Shemp makes a weird, high-pitched nasal noise at that exact same moment.  Then he says "Hello, Miss Buckshot!"  GET IT?  GET IT???!!!  Miss Beebe is no stranger to sarcasm, and she looks rather pissed off.  Shemp tries to avoid getting a second look at Medusa and he looks out the window instead.  To his horror, Shemp sees Sitka the Chef talking to two policemen.  Now, screenwriters take note: at that very same time, Dean Dent is discussing tuition with Moe and Larry.  Moe tells Dent, and I quote, "Huh!  Not interested."  Dent looks deeply hurt by this.  You cut me deep, Shrek.  You cut me deep.  That's when Shemp goes into full-on distress mode.  I hate to spoil how he gets the message across to Moe, so I'll skip over that.
Moe is suddenly interested in enrolling.  What was that tuition again?  Dent says "Five dollars apiece, or three for twenty-five."  Moe responds "A rare bargain!  We'll take the three!"  Now, all you fans of math out there, and economics to a lesser extent, you might think this is insane.  Moe then tries collecting from his fellow Stooges.  I like Larry's answer: "Well, when I left the house this morning..."  LOL.  Moe gets two dollars from Shemp, and two from Larry.  "All we have is four dollars!" Moe tells Dent helpfully.  "I'll take it," says Dent, grabbing the money as fast as he can.  It is at this point that the Stooges realize they've finally, after all these years, come across someone crazier than they are.
Dent tells them they can get their diplomas in one week if they study really hard, and he exits Stage Left.  Miss Bebee eventually tells them that they're going to be dentists.  The trio of idiots swells with professional pride, especially Larry.  He starts to give a big sweeping gesture with his hands and says "I see it all."  But rather than launch into his big plans, he opts for a terrible, terrible joke instead, which Moe proceeds to punish him for.  In Stooge Land, this is how the punishment fits the crime... okay, I'll explain in ghastly detail.  Larry points to a tooth and says to Moe "You see that tooth?"  Moe says "Yeah."  Larry responds with "That's funny!  I can't!"  Well, he can't always do the "I can't see, because I got my eyes closed" gag.  That was just getting old.  Anyway, Moe picks up a nasty extraction tool and says "Here!  Let me show it to you!"  Shemp gleefully helps Moe sit Larry down into a nearby chair.  "Anesthetic!" declares Moe, and Shemp quickly hits Larry on the head with a geologist's hammer.  Larry quickly looks up and goes quiet... that was a favorite moment of ours growing up in the Movie Hooligan household.  Are they really going to do it?  Is Larry really going to lose a tooth this way?  Fortunately, Miss Beebee sees this scene unfolding, and steps in on Larry's behalf, saying "GENTLEMEN, PLEASE!  YOU HAVEN'T GOT YOUR DIPLOMAS YET!!"  Close enough.  That's about all the empathy Larry deserves anyway.


"Hey, ain't those choppers done yet?" Moe asks Shemp.  And so, we cross-fade to Act Two... now, is it me, or does Shemp make a Robert DeNiro face when he closes up the oven?  Li'l bit.  I think so!  I think li'l bit!!  In comes Miss Bebe and she flirts with Shemp.  It's Graduation Day, and the pressure's on for the final exam: producing a set of dentures, or "uppers and lowers" as Moe uncouthly refers to them.  Miss BeeBee looks slightly miffed when Moe talks to her after she talks to Shemp, the ladies' man of the trio.  Miss Bebee exits, and Shemp says "Ain't she gorgeous?"  Well!  His attitude about her has certainly done a 180!  The other two are surprised by this plot development as well.  "What's the matter with him?" Larry asks Moe about Shemp.  Moe replies "He's been standing next to that oven too long."  Wotta pal.
And so, after that, it's time for Shemp to take their set of dentures out of the oven, much like they would take a small pizza out of an oven.  Come to think of it, the oven looks more like a pizza oven than an oven for dentures!  Not that I would know, of course.  Now, I hate to be cynical at this point, but screenwriters take note.  Shemp sets his dentures down on the table.  We cut to Moe and Larry so that the dentures currently on the table can be swapped out for the comedy dentures to come.  For once the residual heat of the dentures has dissipated, why... they've taken on a whole new energy, to put it mildly.  "Ain't it beautiful?" says Shemp.  Moe and Larry look over, and their eyes widen.  Boy, Shemp must've been too close to the oven for a long, long time!
It was a little hard to tell from the charred mess that Shemp pulled from the oven, but the dentures are now clean as a whistle, and they snap shut once, and open back up again.  Note the giant fangs, naturally.  I guess they missed that detail when they were creating them.  The Stooges react in horror when the dentures come to life, with Moe even "Nyaah!"ing from fear like Curly might have in the same situation.  Apparently he's not going to gobble like Curly did on a few occasions.  It would seem that, in this new set of teeth, we have the perfect hybrid of Frankenstein and Dracula: the creation of artificial life of Frankenstein, and the bloodlust of Dracula.
And so, like the Neanderthals becoming acquainted with the Monolith, it's time for the Stooges to learn a thing or two about the nature of the universe.  Meantime, these teeth are still friendlier than the Chef Sitkas of the world.  Larry declares "It's alive!" but his manner is not of the joyous doctor in Frankenstein.  Moe dares Larry to pick up the teeth.  Larry fails.  Teeth: 1, Stooges: 0.  Moe's turn now: he takes a small bit of wood... a pencil, perhaps... and sees if the teeth will bite.  Oh, not only do they bite, but they bite the piece of wood in half!  Cold-blooded.  Teeth: 2, Stooges: 0.  I'm tempted to rank the Stooges in terms of the Five Stages of Grief, and now that I've read the Wikipedia entry,  I see that it's almost an isomorphic fit.  Larry took us through the denial phase (are these teeth alive or not?), and now it's time for anger.  More specifically, Moe angry at Shemp for unleashing this monster set of teeth upon an unsuspecting world.  Shemp's too afraid, however, and rightly so!  The teeth plays no favorites, and seems especially unforgiving towards its creator.  Shemp tries three times to grab the dentures, but they snap three times.  Teeth: 5, Stooges: 0.  At this point, the teeth give a menacing laugh!  That's gotta be worth some points, but I guess my score will just reflect the teeth's bites.  Imperfect, I know, and I don't think I have the energy to stay committed to this newfound paradigm, but we'll see what happens.
Next attempt: Larry uses a bit of his brain this time.  He tries a fake attempt at bargaining, saying to the teeth, "Hey, Teeth!  Look!"  Larry points to someplace behind the teeth... and the teeth turn around.  These teeth are more human than most humans!  So now, this set of enfangulized false teeth now have phantom lungs, a phantom voice box and phantom eyes with which to see!  They are over-compensating to the max for their lack of a physical vessel.  Strange that they only seem to stay in one spot on the table, tee hee hee.  They've got some abilities, but they can't fly like the skeleton head of If a Body Meets a Body.
...oh, right.  The teeth turn back around and try to snap at Larry.  Teeth: 6, Stooges: 0.  I knew I wouldn't be able to keep this up!  Moe continues the Stooges' descent into strategy, saying "We'll all sneak up on it together."  The teeth, of course, are already aware of this group encroachment.  The Stooges all raise implements at the same time and... the teeth start singing.  The Stooges quickly put down their weapons and join in.  What's the point of keeping score anymore?  I mean, really?  These teeth just might be the new Moe we've all been looking for.  And as Wikipedia or someone rightly points out, the teeth sound like Vernon Dent holding his nose.  "One of you guys is flat!" the teeth complain.  This snaps the Stooges out of their temporary hypnosis.  Now it's back to the primordial struggle, and Moe forces Shemp to deal with his creation once again.
Shemp lets down his guard and the teeth get a hold of his hand.  Shemp says "Ow!  Let go!" the exact same way twice.  Moe and Larry stand off to the side as Shemp struggles alone.  "He made that freak thing!  Let him suffer!" says Moe.  It's a nice point of view in theory, but this time there's more than enough suffering to go around.  Shemp eventually dislodges the teeth from their pivot foot on the lab table and, after a lot of thrashing around in pain, Shemp throws the teeth into the air, and where they land he doth not care.  But where do they land, just out of curiosity?  Why, on Moe's face, of course!  And so, the baton of pain is passed from Shemp to Moe.  I missed the part where that was my problem!  Moe says "Help!  Hey, fellas!  OHHHH!" the exact same way twice.  And so, just as when Moe was threatening to pull out Larry's tooth, the other two Stooges swarm around one Stooge in solidarity.  Shemp tries prying the teeth off with his hands, while Larry uses a small extraction tool on it.  It certainly doesn't help that Moe is conscious and thrashing around.  And then, in a fit of inspiration, Shemp picks up a geologist's hammer and declares "I'll KNOCK it off!"  Moe objects, despite his pain, but it's already too late.  Shemp hits Moe on the head and DOWN GOES MOE!  Larry and Shemp shake hands and congratulate themselves rather prematurely on a job well done.
Now, even though these kind of links don't work anymore, I'm going to keep the home fires burning on this one, because it's a masterful one-take shot, and the cameramen worked harder than they probably should have on it.  And while they don't stray too far from their initial position in front of the lab table, the camera starts as a close-up near where Moe's going to stand up from his harrowing ordeal.  Well!  Even though those teeth from hell were taking a pretty good bite out of his face, there's no blood or teeth marks!  Moe stands up, staring at Shemp, and doesn't seem much worse for wear.  Cartoon violence made flesh, kids.  Never forget that.  And so, the camera dollies back and follows the Stooges as Moe runs around the whole lab room hitting Shemp on the head with that same hammer.  Boy, that's gratitude for ya!  Shemp's head resonates in a variety of tones with each new strike from Moe's Hammer.
Next scene: the Stooges ran and ran and ran, but they never realized it would get them anywhere.  But sure enough, they go through that door from the lab into the waiting room of this small, two-room dental school and there they are for graduation day.  And Professor Dent seems eager to hand out diplomas.  Too bad he wasn't a little more discerning.  However, there thankfully is the requirement of presenting the final exam of the sample dentures.  Moe starts to explain that they didn't turn out well, and concurrently Shemp spies a set of choppers on the mantelpiece next to him.  And naturally, being the combination Ladies Man / Klepto that he is, he quickly palms them and passes them to Larry.  Larry passes them to Moe and, when Moe sees what he's got in his hand, he does a massive double take and quickly changes the tone of his narrative.  Too bad for the rest of humanity that Professor Dent and Miss Beebe didn't see that maneuver.  "Why, they're beautiful!" declares Dent.  I'm assuming that implies a little functionality as well.


Dent begins the speech that the educational higher-ups have to give.  "It is time to take you out into the world," says Dent.  He keeps it short and sweet and talks about the quality of the graduating class of October 1951.  Dent says, "Most of you have done well here."  However, he also says "Others, I'm sorry to say, have not done quite so well," and drives that point home a little bit further in the next sentence.  The Stooges thank Dent for not singling them out for incompetence more explicitly.  Just wait til he finds out about their final project!  Dent asks the boys to go somewhere far away to practice.  I guess they're part dentists, part missionaries.  Dent quotes Horace Greeley ("Go West, young man!") and the Stooges take the opportunity to go into song before going West.  Ah, that brings back a flood of memories.  It's one of their best three-part harmonies.  Professor Dent eventually covers his face with his hands, while Miss Beebee's concerned that the boys didn't get their diplomas.  The Stooges, like Snagglepuss, exit Stage Right and head back into the lab apparently.  Fade to black.
Fade in on Coyote Pass... hey, wait a tic!  Footage from an actual Western!  While we may never know what film this footage was used in (I have the interest, but not the time nor place... I mean, energy), why not take this opportunity to read the IMDb Trivia page about The Tooth Will Out?  I think I will!  Sounds interesting.  Pardon me..... All right, back to the grind.  I mean, movie.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot: it's a Western, remember?  Scene: the boys arrive at their new office in Coyote Pass, and they all try to jam their way through the front door at the same time, naturally.  Larry's been relegated to Hat Man as he's wearing three hats.  Soon after, he's also tasked to place the sign on the outside.  We only get a brief glimpse of it, but you can probably see that it says "Dr. Shemp Howard: Painless Dentistry."  That's just a small legal technicality, of course; if things get bad enough, the angry mob will string up all three of them.  The camera dollies in on Moe and Shemp, and Shemp's able to confide in Moe a little bit.  For one thing, he's concerned about being a professional dentist.  Thank God one of them is!  Moe tries to calm Shemp's fears by reminding him that he did receive a diploma, and that he worked all week to get it... well, it is the Old West.  Besides!  Remember Cider House Rules?  The dude in that was a doctor and he only went to high school or something?  Side note: now that I'm a certified and certifiable Stooge expert, I can't help but notice how Shemp says that the diploma cost him "four bits extra!"  He kinda reminded me of post-stroke Curly, as that's how post-stroke Curly might have delivered that line.
When suddenly... boom!  Larry's been busy!  He drags in their first customer.  I've seen this already, so I know it's going to get pretty ugly... hmm!  Do those words even go together?  I mean, in the Internet Age even?  Better call it "epic ugly" or "actual sick" because this is a blog.  Anyway, the cost of this dentistry?  Two bucks!  Moe has a weird look on his face when he hands Larry one of the dollar bills.  Meanwhile, Dr. Shemp puts on his glasses and proceeds to put Moe in the victim's chair... I mean, the dentist's chair.  Oh, Moe ain't having any of that crap!  This isn't Larry telling what he thinks is a joke, after all!  This is serious business time!  Incidentally, their first customer is an actor named Slim Gaut, and this film (scene cut from Merry Mavericks) is one of the four things he's best known for.  And he had an unbilled part in My Little Chickadee!  Are they saying this scene is more iconic than Chickadee?  Could be!


It's a little premature to start Act Three, but we'll be cutting into the middle of this scene anyway, so might as well start it here.  If I remember correctly, as a youth I found this scene more painful than funny, but who knows?  Maybe I'll get the joke in this second go-round.  For starters, I can see that one of the principal components of this comedy analysis is Shemp's glasses.  Shemp once again confuses Moe for the patient.  For the benefit of Shemp, Moe bites Shemp's finger, then points to the patient... but he points to the patient's belt buckle.  Close-up of Shemp and the buckle... easy!  Well, it was a simpler time.  Shemp points to the belt buckle and says "Oh!  He's got a filling!"  Now, sure, I could be cynical and say that we're going to see this same joke over and over, but sometimes it's done well, right?  Take the Addams Family movies (1 and 2).  Basically a one-joke premise but done well, right?  The patient moans after Shemp's diagnosis, and Shemp says "Save that for later, pal.  You'll need it!"  Lol.  Great foreshadowing.
And so, the drilling proper begins at about 1:34.  Oh, it's time to kill some time.  Frankly, you might want to skip this part, so you'll have to jump right to... 3:55?  Good Lord!  Is this a three-reeler?  Come to think of it, I'll just give a few highlights, besides Gaut's legs trying to upstage the Stooges.  Because of his glasses, Shemp eventually ends up with the drill in his own mouth, and for a little bit longer than I thought, too!  Strange.  Well, the Stooges needed a good dentist or two.  Also, Spoiler Alert: at about 3:17, the patient's chair starts to swivel, and Moe has to bring it round again a full 360 degrees... wait a minute, they're not doing this just to get the drill into Moe's mouth by any chance, are they?  ... they ARE!  BASTARDS!!!  This time we can more plainly see that Moe's a professional and he's able to talk normally with a mouth full of fake teeth to spit out.  Now, at some point, smoke starts coming from the patient's mouth in the midst of drilling.  It happens on a second occasion, but the drill is so obviously not in the patient's mouth that we can't take it too seriously.  It's like a dollop of oil of cloves, it is!  I still hate dentists, though, but I nevertheless promise to visit one again someday.  And the suffering of Slim Gaut keeps the scene grounded.
Okay, back to the end of the action.  Gaut has slumped out of the chair, and he's covering his face, but it's over.  Shemp hands the drill to Larry, and it's time to heal.  Shemp and Moe go over to the table.  Shemp says "Let's see what's next." mean, he's going to get another something done to him?  I better buckle up, or at least go to Wal-Mart tomorrow to get a seatbelt for my own damn chair!
Drs. Moe and Shemp consult their handy textbook: "Practical Dentistry."  And on page 50 it says, as Shemp informs us, "After you drill a tooth... you're supposed to fill it!"  Shemp and Moe enjoy a hearty laugh over that one.  Well, they've got the whole rest of their lives to learn the rest of the craft of dentistry, I suppose.  When suddenly... the bad guy enters.  Shemp gets scared just from the sound of the guy's boots walking up!  "WHERE'S THE DENTIST?" barks the bad guy.  The bad guy is Dick Curtis, and sadly, this is his last Stooge film ever.  According to the handy "Credited With" feature of IMDb, Curtis enjoyed a brief break from Stooge films between 1946 and 1951, but then it was back to work, making three total in 1951: this, along with Three Arabian Nuts and Don't Throw That Knife.  I'm gonna miss that guy, especially when I start reviewing Joe Besser shorts.  SHEESH!!!
Where was I?  Oh, right.  Hold on, gotta get my toaster strudel before it gets cold again... okay, back to the action.  Anyway, "Shemp's Last Patient," as the screenwriters of Tooth have apparently dubbed him, complains about an aching tooth.  Shemp explains that there's someone ahead of him in line.  Curtis picks up the case of Gaut from the dentist's chair and politely escorts him to the front door.  A few seconds later, we hear the sound of falling crates, perhaps coming from outdoors.  "Now I'M first," says Curtis.  Kinda looks like Tom Waits, doesn't he?
Now, probably because he's a bad guy, but more likely because he somehow saw the previous patient, Curtis has a short verbal agreement that he wants Shemp to be aware of.  Apparently, the last dentist that worked on Curtis didn't do such a good job, so Curtis had to shoot him.  "Notch number nine" on Curtis' gun.  Shemp gets a little concerned about this, and Curtis then gets concerned about Shemp's concern, as a bad guy would.  Shemp reassures Curtis that he's thinking of little else besides delicately pulling Curtis' tooth, and Curtis relaxes a bit... hey, wait a second!  Curtis is wearing a star!  That makes it worse somehow.  Gaut is going to have to go to Congress to find some justice.
And so, Shemp hits the books again.  Moe asks "What's the matter?  Are you nervous?"  Shemp: "Just in my left arm."  Lol.  It's a visual joke, you see.  And so, just as Nikola Tesla perceived the earth to be a conductor of acoustical resonance, so too it is with people.  People and their teeth.  And just like in the Wham! Bam! Slam! / Pardon My Clutch duet, the Stooges, and people operating on the Stooges, use the old sound test to find bad teeth.  Kinda like how you're supposed to tap a watermelon to see if it'll be a good one.  This may be the first and last time where the Stooges use the phrase "Metal object!" over and over again.  Where's the "Ana-cana-pana"?  Where's the ... pathetic.  Can't think of another one right now.  Soldemus?  Well, for the fans out there, there's also a request for an "ammer-hay" to be used in conjunction with the metal object.  And so, having ditched his glasses, Shemp's competence has improved significantly.  He's able to find Curtis' mouth right away and stick the metal object onto a tooth, lightly tap the tooth, and see what happens.  Also, we're now dealing with a very different Curtis.  For one thing, he's putting up with all of this foolishness!  Oh sure, he could just point to the problem tooth but... ah, I know.  I'm missing the point.  Shemp finds the tooth on the fourth try, and Shemp gets knocked backwards by Curtis's flailing arms (gee, nice acting, Shemp!).  Screenwriters take note: this is for a reason.  Shemp reaches for the dentist's book and doesn't look to do it.  Spoiler alert: just as the Stooges keep a bottle of gasoline handy for comedy-related emergencies, Shemp picks up the wrong book.  I hate to reveal the topic of the book, so I won't.  That much I'll do for you... oh, right.  The filmmakers do as well!  Sheesh.  Meanwhile, while Shemp's setting up the next few jokes, Moe and Larry are busy delivering Curtis some actual anesthetic, not the usual Stooge anesthetic of a hit on the head.  You know, like the one Lawrence received around Act One of this very same pic!
And so, with Curtis asleep, the boys follow the instructions as foretold by their textbook "The Amateur Carpenter."  Sandpaper the chest?  Larry's already hard at work exposing Curtis's chest, the perv.  There's a great tattoo joke that no one will find funny these days, as tattoos are serious business now.  Moe is confused by the next instruction: varnish the lid.  The confusion dissipates after a few seconds, and then it's "VARNISH!"  Larry gets some varnish, and Moe paints the inside of Curtis's hat and the top of Curtis's head.  Good thing he's asleep!  He's either asleep or dead.  And then, Shemp starts reading a long passage from the book, pronouncing "putty" like the word "put."  LOL!!!  Ah, that takes me back.  Shout out to my buddy out there on that one!  Larry points to the cover of the book, and Moe starts to let Shemp have it...


Sheesh!  According to the YouTube, we're down to less than a minute!  The ending title card sequence takes about twelve seconds, so... will they resolve this in time?!!!!  Let's find out.
...boy!  They really tightened it up!  Moe gives Shemp a face full of varnish for good measure and, without wiping his face, Shemp proceeds to take a pair of pliers and starts trying to pull some teeth.  You might want to skip this part.  Apparently he forgot that the tooth in question was a left molar.  He goes right for Curtis's buck teeth and heads to the right from there.  Third time's the charm, and they pull Curtis plum from the dentist's chair, and they all fall onto the floor at about 8 fps.  There's a squeaking sound that I know best from Loose Loot, and it means that the tooth has been pulled.
Now, Shemp is positively beaming with professional pride at this point, as he holds the pliers and pulled tooth as aloft as he can from his place on the floor.  He says "I got it!  I got it!"  Curtis barks "You got the WRONG TOOTH!!!!!"  Dr. Shemp declares "Whoa!" and his two dental assistants, Moe and Larry, pull down Curtis' hat as far as they can, before the fugitive trio take off running.  Curtis manages to get off two shots, but it's unclear if he hit any of the Stooges.  As per the tradition of comedy gunshots in Stooge films, he probably hit the Stooges in their soft glutes, if at all.  Fade to black.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Bluto's Ferry's Day Off

Once again, I should probably recuse myself from our next Popeye cartoon, Bridge Ahoy!  After repeated viewings, it became a childhood favourite, but ... and it's more psychologist couch time here... I did find it a bit traumatic when I saw one particular scene, and probably for the same reason you did.  So let's face our demons and dive right in to another four-star Popeye cartoon.


Still tired of the conventions of the first ten or so Popeye cartoons, it's time for another different song up front... well, the Internet still doesn't have everything!  Nothing on the Yahoo, nor on Lycos... geez, Lycos is still in biz?  Anyway, no information about the song that Bluto sings up front... except for this page, maybe.  Ironic, because it's a very bridge that will put his ferry business out of business in the show.
First scene: a nice river background.  We can see the New York City skyline in the distance, and in the foreground is a sign for Bluto's ferry business.  ("Bluto's Ferry")  Cars are piling into it and... gee, but that's a small ferry!  There must be a bottleneck behind that, and Olive and Popeye are about to get squeezed by it.  There's a capital letter 'B' on the smokestack of the ferry, lol.  Nice background noises as well: there's ambient sounds of a ferry's horn and general traffic.  We've just been watching some Taxi Boys shorts, where not as much care was put into the sound editing, to say the least.
Next scene: Olive's car pulls up and squeaks to a stop.  It finds itself lodged between two trucks.  There's a meat truck behind Olive, and the dorky driver with big buck teeth starts pumping his bulb horn.  "Aw, keep your shirt on!" mumbles Olive.  Now, I know egg-zactly what you're thinking: there's a nice truck-sized space next to Olive's car, but you're totally, totally missing the point.  Right, screenwriters past, present and future?
Bluto comes over to micro-manage the ferry traffic.  "Hey, Skinny!  Drive that junk heap up so that truck can get in!" he barks at Popeye... or is it Olive he's talking to?  Good Lord!  She seems to be driving a European car; the steering wheel's on the right side!!!  "I have no room!" says Olive politely.  "Oh, you have no room, huh?" sneers Bluto.  Popeye says "No!" without moving his lips, lol.  Bluto's solution: he lifts Olive and Popeye out of their car, and pushes the meat truck into the ferry, thereby squishing Olive's car and making enough room.  I wonder how many cars just splashed into the river on the other side of the ferry.  That reminds me!  The meat wagon hasn't stopped by our house lately.  I think they finally figured it out: we get our meat from the gas station like normal Americans.
Needles to say, Popeye protests Bluto's actions.  "You can't do that!" says Popeye.  Bluto doubles down on Tripoli, of course, and he gives Popeye's ugly mug a mighty shove.  Not only that, he winds up first like a pinball machine, then shoves Popeye's face.  We see Popeye's hands hanging on the side of the boat, and only his hands.  I think the animators cut some corners!  Soon enough, Popeye's hands and arms are back together again.  Popeye regains consciousness and trills and twirls his pipe.  "Give it to 'im, Popeye!" says Olive.  Popeye's about to... but then he stops.  Well, first of all, it's awful early in the proceedings, but there's another reason closer to Popeye's heart as a sailor.  He looks at Bluto and says "You're lucky a sailor ain't never allowed to hit a Cap'n on his ship!"  Damn, almost got it the first time.  I forgot the 'never.'  Bluto just laughs, the big fat jerk he is.  "All aboard!" says Bluto as he closes the ferry's gate.  Well!  Bluto follows at least one safety regulation.
Next scene: the series' most notable glutton, J. Wellington Wimpy, is sitting at yon local hamburger stand.  There's a big plate of hamburgers in front of him.  Geez!  It's a pretty huge pile!  Anyway, the ferry sounds a nice falsetto note a couple times.  They're playing Wimpy's second song.  He needs to take the ferry for whatever reason.  Now, here's a crucial plot point I feel like discussing, maybe because I'm kinda hungry.  But it is 11:30pm and I'm trying to cut back on the Taco Bell.  Too much sugar.  Anyway, like Newman and his aversion to broccoli, Wimpy starts to run for the ferry, but he doubles back to grab some more hamburgers.  I think that means he didn't pay for the plate of burgers at the counter.  If he did, wouldn't he make every effort to take all of them with him?  And if Wimpy didn't pay, well, what kind of fool leaves Wimpy alone with such a large pile of burgers?  The kind that won't stay in business very long... thanks to the likes of Wimpy.
And so, his coat pockets stuffed with burgers, Wimpy just barely makes it to the ferry.  Bluto saves Wimpy from falling into the water... but at a price.  "The fare is two bucks!" says Bluto, as he holds Wimpy by the neck of his coat.  Wimpy, he's not... he's not going to do the "gladly pay you Tuesday" bit is he?  For a ferry ride?  He is!  Well, nuts to that.  Bluto tosses Wimpy into the water, sneering "Why you little... BAH!"  I'm with Bluto on that one.  Alas, Wimpy doesn't drown so easy, and he's left in the water repeatedly yelling "ASSISTANCE!  ASSISTANCE!"  Lol.  The nerdy burger glutton.  Popeye saves his sorry ass, of course, using the ferry gate.
Wimpy shakes the water off of himself like a dog.  He sees Bluto, says "Oh!" and starts to run away, lol.  Bluto grabs Wimpy by his actual neck this time, not just his coat neck.  "I said the fare is two bucks!" says Bluto.  Is Wimpy dead?  Maybe he's just scared to death.  And so... it's right then and there that Popeye takes a stand for socialism versus Bluto's mob-backed capitalism.  Ick, I know.  Alas, the fascist dreams of toll roads in America will have to be deferred a little more.  Bluto laughs, and Popeye mutters "Laugh while you can!"


Scene: the bridge proper.  Triumphant music plays because the project has been started.  Now, I'm no engineer, but the bridge is far from finished, and there only seem to be three employees on the job: Popeye, Olive and Wimpy.  I'll leave it to a bridge maker to describe the nightmare that is this bridge.  I mean, only half of the arch is finished!  There's barely enough of the bridge's girders laid out, and they're not even connected to the other side.  Good Lourdes!  Despite all this, we zoom in on the happy workers, hard at work.  They may not be building the bridge as efficiently as possible, but they're doing it in style and having fun.  Olive's on hamburger cooking duty.  She hits the cooked patties tennis style down to Wimpy, who's on rivet cooking duty.  "Thirty Love!" says Olive as the first patty goes down.  Wimpy eats, throws a rivet up to Popeye, who tapdances it into place, rather than using a jackhammer like everyone else does.
"Forty Love!" is the second burger, and "Deuce!" for the third.  However, the gears of the machinery hit a snag, and for once, Popeye screws up his part!  He misses the rivet, but Wimpy catches it in his mouth.  Now, I'm torn on this part.  The humanitarian in me says Jesus!  Wimpy's burning the... heck out of his mouth.  But the sadist in me says, wow.  Twenty-four frames a second on that animation.  Bob Clampett would've made Wimpy too elastic.  But it is just a cartoon, and Wimpy spits out the rivet and cools his mouth with a hand-held bellows.  The humanitarian in me says Jesus!  JUST a bellows?  He needs to go to the emergency room!  Oh, right... cartoon character.  Perfect health in the next scene, unless there's a joke to be had.  Example: that time when Jerry Mouse sawed Tom in half, and in the next scene Tom's got big bandages around his torso.  Huge laughs.
Next scene: Bluto doesn't like all this fancy bridge stuff.  He strokes his chin and decides to go check out the construction site.  There's one ladder up to it and tiny Bluto makes the climb.  Next scene: Popeye's got a jackhammer now!  The hamburgers have apparently run out, but Wimpy's back to normal and throwing rivets faster than ever.  Maybe they should heat the rivets on the level they're at... ah, skip it.  Logic has little place in a cartoon.  Next scene: time for Bluto to throw a monkey wrench into the midst of these three scabs... I mean, hard-working bridge makers.  Bluto picks up a whole girder and sneaks quickly up on Popeye.  Bluto raises the girder and... cool!  Looks like it's in 3-D!  Anyway, back to the action.  Olive sees Bluto and says "Oh Popeye!"  And, once again, it's too late.  Bluto hits Popeye with the girder, and the girder coils around Popeye like a giant Popeye-sized python.  It's either a testament to Popeye's strength or the girder's weakness.  Hope they're not using cheap materials like that French tool that masterminded the destruction of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
Bluto laughs heartily at his handiwork, but Olive's had it with him.  She runs over and puts the rivet catcher over Bluto's head and says "Ha Ha Ha yourself!"
"Crown me with a bucket, eh?" says Bluto, as he starts to violate Olive's personal space.  Olive slowly backs away, and Bluto slowly advances on her.  Next scene: kewl!  An actual 3-D Fleischer background of the bridge!  Now, sure, I could nitpick and point out that the section of bridge that they're on is the curved arch, and that this part is straight... but never mind.  I know Pixar can do it much better, but that's beside the point.  And so... we come to the childhood trauma part.  Olive reaches the end of the bridge and falls, but her smart foot catches her at the last possible second.  And so, she's dangling there by her shoe.  Let's see... what can Bluto do to torture her a little more?  Why, tickle her foot, of course!  Olive laughs, then beats herself up for laughing.  Arguably, it's a rather unusual position to find yourself in.
Popeye's sense of outrage is touched by all this.  His pipe twirls, and he finally finds a reason to get himself out of that twisted girder that has him trapped.  He still has to untwirl himself after dis-girdering, lol.  And then, Popeye gets on his pogo stick, the jackhammer, and he wails.  Time to use that 3D background again!  Popeye ain't even had spinach yet, but he's able to turn the tables on Bluto by flipping the whole girder he's on.  Ah, cartoons.  Anything's possible.
And so, Bluto's now the one hanging on for dear life.  Olive gets some revenge by trying to step on Bluto's fingers.  Popeye does the Fleischer jiggle as he watches.  Olive eventually figures out that she can't get Bluto by stepping on his fingers with one foot, so she tries both at the same time.  Bluto plummets to Earth, but doesn't quite land in the river.  He grabs onto a rope and quickly climbs back up.  Damn, but he must have arms stronger than most people's legs!
Bluto's back on the bridge and he breaks off the rope.  I like the music when he pulls the rope up.  Good flourish!  Meanwhile, Popeye and Olive have made the mistake of not keeping an eye on Bluto.  "Well, I guess we took care of him!" Popeye mumbles.  Suddenly... now, things often have the habit of assembling themselves in Fleischer cartoons, and cartoons in general sometimes suspend the normal rules of entropy.  In this case, Bluto uses his bit of rope on Popeye, and the rope wraps itself around Popeye, tying him to a vertical girder of the bridge.  Time for Bluto to have a little fun with Popeye, mostly using his head as a punching bag.  Wimpy sees this and gets outraged... well, outraged about something, anyway.
And so, after giving Popeye about as severe a concussion as he can, Bluto stands there stroking his chin, trying to think of the next deviltry.  Bluto doesn't have to wait long for inspiration, however, as Popeye soon provides it.  Popeye is helpless when he's tied up, so he has to break off the whole girder instead.  Bluto starts walking away, and Popeye beans him with the girder.


Bluto plummets to the ground, but quickly shakes it off.  He's resting at the bridge's foundation.  Now, Popeye's pretty strong when it comes to these girders, but Bluto's just as strong, and soon enough, he's twisting some of the foundational girders out of shape.  And then, with one mighty lift, Bluto lifts the whole bridge, then drops it, and the whole thing crumbles into the river.  The animation is epic.
Our trio of heroes lightly splashes into the water, and they quickly dog paddle their way back to shore.  Meanwhile, Bluto's looking around for something to do, or something to hit Popeye with, more likely.  Popeye emerges from the water and climbs to the summit of the mountain of fallen girders.  "Hey!" says Bluto.  Oh, it's spinach time.  It is so spinach time.  Popeye's left arm starts spinning like a plane's propellor.  God bless him, Bluto hasn't learned his lesson yet.  He picks up one of the smaller girders and starts to go after Popeye again.  One punch from Popeye, and Bluto sails far away, taking his ferry with him as well.  The ferry flies across the river and into a building on the other side!  Such wanton destruction.  But that's the bridge business for you.
And then... wait a second!  Two helpings of spinach in the same pic?  Oh, this is unprecedented... or is it?  Ah, it's probably happened already.  Gee, too bad I didn't keep better track of such things!  Anyway, Popeye's no Luddite, and he bends a girder into the shape of a giant magnet.  A second helping of spinach turns the girder into said magnet, thereby inspiring the beginning of the Beatles song I Feel Fine.


And so, with one swell foop, Popeye and his magnet builds the bridge entire in about four seconds.  Again, more waterworks... you know, botched face lift and what not.  Notice how cars are already starting to use the bridge even though it hasn't been finished yet!  What a story to tell your grandkids!  Kinda like how people used to see how fast they could drive cross country when the roads were first being built.
Last scene: our three heroes are driving across the bridge.  Popeye sings "This is the berries.  You don't need the ferries with Popeye the Sailor Man!"  Who knew?  Even sailors can embrace technological change, as there are some societal problems that even the best of boats can't handle.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Michael J. Arbouet

Wait a minute... Kevin's got a brother?  Sheesh!  Everybody's got a brother.  Every director's got a brother director these days!  The market's oversaturated at this point.

Oh, right... The Wolverine

Well, Jackman's chicken diet finally paid off, and here it is!  The latest Wolverine movie is at #1.  Of course, didn't the previous Wolverine movie make, like, 90 million or some crazy amount opening weekend?  Alas, the novelty's worn off a li'l teeny bit.  Meanwhile, indie sensation Fruitvale Station debuts at #10.  Where's the justice in that?  I guess people want escapism instead, rather than reminders of just how screwed we all are.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Godfather of "Tales From The Crypt"

As all bloggers know, you gotta put highly searchable terms in your blog posts so that the Google web-bots can find them more easily.  But I was hesitant to call 1982's Creepshow the grandfather of "Tales From The Crypt," the HBO series that was yet to come, as that doesn't quite do it justice.  But for some reason this was a childhood favourite of mine.  Well, you know how kids are, right, adults?  Always wanting to do the adult things before they're ready to: sneaking into the liquor cabinet, smoking cigarettes... sex, drugs, rock and roll, you know how it is.  And I say, why not?  After all, it's better to do those things when you're young.  Have you seen some of the snarky comments people were making about all these recent pictures of Iggy Pop?  Barton Fink's right: people can be god damn cruel.
But I digress again.  Me myself, I personally think I'm getting too old to be watching films like this.  That being said, the production is about as top-notch as it gets.  And for all you Star Wars fans out there, editor Paul Hirsch.  Am I right?  Of course, a film like this clearly needs more than one editor, but I bet Thelma Schoonmaker could've handled it... but only if Scorsese directed, of course.
Now, for those of you who don't know, the film is broken up into five separate short stories.  Yes, believe it or not, films like this used to appear in theaters!  Spoiler alert: the first three involve characters finding their zombie voices, and different types of guns that all sound the same when they shoot.  Now as a licensed and bonded film critic, it's probably my responsibility to rank the five in terms of which is my favorites, but this is a task which I must recuse myself from.  I'll just say that four (The Crate) and five (They're Creeping Up On You) are the strongest, probably because animals are involved.  One (Father's Day) and three (Something to Tide You Over) are about the same as well, but slightly less potent than four and five.  And, well... I suppose Stephen King's used to getting his segment bashed by now (The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill), particularly on his acting ability.  But me, I'm a positivist, and while I probably can't go so far to say that it's the role he was born to play, (that might be his cameo in Maximum Overdrive... oh s'z'nap!) I think he does a fine job with the role.  As a kid, I felt sorry for Verrill, what can I say?
I was originally going to do a full-fledged review of each of the five segments, treating each like a separate film in its own right, but as I said earlier, I'm getting too old for all this fun stuff.  Gotta keep it short and sweet.


Spoiler alert: it's basically Night of the Living Dead, but instead of a bunch of dead people coming back to life, it's one dead guy with a rich back story.  At least, as much as Stephen King could write for him.  He was a busy guy!  Didn't have time to make every character so deep and personal now!
Anyway, let me get this straight.  So the old man was a greedy rich bastard that deserved to die, and he gets to come back to life to get revenge?  See, he gets killed by his daughter because the daughter was a little upset that her father had her fiancée murdered.  Makes perfect sense.  So the old dude comes back to life, kills the daughter and a couple other people in the house, and turns one woman's head into a cake!  What kind of sick crap is this?  I'm with Tom Atkins, damn it!
Now, most of these other segments have a high "Where Were They Then" factor.  Here, it's pretty much Ed Harris.  He doesn't have much to work with, but he does what he can.  For example, check out his dancing!  Love it.  And his gruesome death is, of course, the best part of this segment.  I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who watched it over and over again.  Now, as a younger man, I couldn't help but wonder why he couldn't get out of the way of that damn headstone, spoiler alert.  But now that I'm getting on in years, I can relate to his dilemma.  First of all, it's not just the looming headstone.  He's got two dead bodies to deal with as well, one of which is up and walking around, for Christ's sake!  My eyes would be popping out of my head, frankly.  Also, props to Carrie Nye for her role.  She puts everything into it when her moment of truth comes.


This harkens back to a similar time when country hicks would actually think of a college as an option for something.  In this case, one night a meteor lands in a hick's backyard... ah, who'm I kidding.  See, Stephen King apparently used to be a college professor or something.  Let me Wikipedia that here... there you go.  Hampden Academy... hmm!  Sounds like a college from one of his stories!  Anyway, the hick thinks he can take the meteor to the college so they'll buy it.  Ah, the days before Pawn Stars and Meteor Men.  And then... the one moment that changes everything.  Few people can point to such clarifying, life-altering events, but Jordy can, and that's when he touched the damn meteor.
Things go from bad to worse when Verrill tries to cool the meteor off with water.  It breaks in half, and as we all know, no college worth their weight in salt's going to pay for a broken meteor, especially if they knew how it was broken.  Boy, hicks are so stupid.  Anyway, to cut to the chase, weird plants start growing from the liquid inside the meteor at an alarming rate, almost as fast as the beings in 2001's Evolution!  Verrill himself turns into half-man, half-plant by the next morning, and he ends up blowing his brains out with a shotgun.
I don't know if there's a moral in all of this, but it just might be that sometimes you just gotta get out more, especially if your only friend is your angry dead father in the mirror.


As far as I know, the MythBusters haven't tackled this one yet... and I know I'm certainly not going to.  No, the closest we get is the time when Homer Simpson parked the car on the beach right over Ned Flanders' head.  No, I'm still convinced that, if I ended up trapped in the sand like Ted Danson, I could wriggle my way out of it.  But this part of the story assumes, for the sake of argument, that a young athletic type couldn't handle it.
And with Leslie Nielsen and Ted Danson, this segment probably has the strongest "Where Were They Then" factor: Danson just before "Cheers" and Nielsen in perhaps his last serious role before going full Zucker for the rest of his life.
Let me just say that, even though it's not John Williams, the score of the movie's pretty effective.  When the zombies confront Nielsen, I think of it as the composer's ode to the beginning of Simon and Garfunkel's song "Fakin' It."  Ah, but not all the production values are top notch.  Take, for example, the use of matte photography.  Now, in the olden days, your big time blockbusters, as David Letterman might say on the TV, used to have what were once called "matte paintings" to give the illusion of an impressive background.  Here, when the jeep's driving to and from the beach in one particular part, they use a matte photograph of some clouds!  You can tell because they're the same clouds when the jeep's coming and when it's leaving!  Even Spielberg's not that good; take Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, for example; he used the same technique during the opening credits when the Boy Scouts go past that giant rock impossibly still on top of the tiny stalagmite.  But I digress.
What else?  I guess that's it.  The finest video technology of the day: a VCR with a long length of cable on the beach.  Ah, nostalgia.


Without doubt, the bloodiest of the quintet.  I now think of it as Stephen King's modern take on an Edgar Allan Poe story: The Crate of Amontillado, perhaps.  This is the one edited by renowned editor Paul Hirsch, and of course this one is the best edited.  Take, for example, the scene just before the janitor gets attacked by the crate.  Does it make me a bad person for watching the scene over and over?  Probably.  But think of the number of times Hirsch had to watch it!
And so, there are two innocent victims of the crate: the janitor dies for being too curious, and the nerdy student for... well, for listening, like Aaronow in Glengarry, I suppose.  Of course, these days the court of public opinion is probably on Adrienne Barbeau's side.  I'm sure film reviewers for Maxim magazine, for example, will ask "Is the Hal Holbrook character gay?  I mean, he's only married to the most awesome woman, like, ever!  She'd only be more awesome if she was a nympho who owns a liquor store."


Judging from the Encore! special I saw about director Romero, the cockroach segment was his favorite, and not just because of working with respected actor E. G. Marshall.  He was one of the original 12 jurors, you know!  He seems to be having fun playing a rich old bastard who makes Monty Burns look amateurish in comparison.  At least Burns lives in style, for one.  No, Mr. Pratt's one of the original computer nerds, but instead of constantly checking email, he's constantly checking stock prices, domestic and international.  Even cockroaches know that you don't eat a guy like Pratt all at once!  I understand that David Mamet wrote Glengarry Glen Ross after he saw this segment.  Okay, maybe not, but things change.  Also, he's never ever sick at sea... no, wait, that's Aaron Sorkin.


Anyway, the point is, Warner Brothers needs to do a better job with their DVDs.  According to Wikipedia, there's a new widescreen transfer of Creepshow on DVD, but only in the U.K.!  Bastards.  Well, they could at least show the new widescreen transfer on Encore or something!  Of course, they probably screwed that up, too, and it's all wobbly like the second to last digital transfer of Blade Runner.  That's another thing
There's talk of Creepshow 4 but it'll probably be done around the same time Vin Diesel starts his Hannibal project... the elephant Hannibal, not the cannibal one.  We started to watch Creepshow 2 but we didn't make it through the third segment.  Something about gratuitous shots of Stephen King trying to act that did it, I guess.  Yeah, you know... everyone talks about how bad and hammy King was as Jordy Verrill.  Not a WORD about his appearance in the sequel!  Somehow, there was something missing from Creepshow 2, but the two segments I saw did feature someone throwing up.  This was back when that used to be a taboo.  Now actors have it in their contracts to spew chunks at least three times.  As for Creepshow 3, well... I say it's still a step up the slope from Creepshow 2.  It's more like a horror version of Short Cuts, and probably shouldn't have had the Creepshow label slapped onto it, but you know how it is.  Apparently Dudelson bought the rights to the name, and you wouldn't want to throw away something like that, right?  Well, he's living with the consequences of that decision, anyhow.  That's the way it works these days.  Creepshow 3's available on Blu-Ray, and we have to move to England to get the new widescreen transfer of Creepshow 1.


-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cowboys vs. Ghosts

Merry Mavericks, I believe it's called.  Yes, before Sarah Palin and John McCain, the Stooges were the mavericks of their time.  And they won the West for the White Man by poking Indians in the eye and giving them the ol' "See that?" routine.  But it all balances out, as Curly got scalped, and Larry got half-scalped.  Let's move on.............


As you can see from the handy graphic on the left, we open on a "Wanted" poster.  Easy way to build dramatic tension.  Moe rips the sign from its post and repeats its headline: "How do you like that?  Wanted for vagrancy!"  They then have some delightful comedic sparring over the meaning of the word 'vagrancy.'  "Boy, are you stupid!" Larry gets to say to Shemp.  But Moe quickly brings his boys back in line: he's in full-on serious mode now for some reason.  Moe tells them... it's the Old West, by the way... they have to pull up stakes, get out of town and go to work.  I should probably point out that this exchange is punctuated with Larry and Shemp saying "Yes?"  The last one, however, about work, gets a resounding "No!"  Shemp even goes so far as to tell Moe "Oh, you said a nasty word!"  Well, work is a four-letter word.  Shemp points at Moe, and Moe, in full-on Hannibal mode, bites Shemp's finger.  Shemp manages to pull his finger from Moe's toothy grip, and it makes a comical popping noise.  I didn't know Moe's mouth was a champagne bottle!  Weerd.
Now it's time for Salesman Moe.  Even though they're already in the West, technically, Moe tells Lawrence and Shemp that they're heading West to a town called Peaceful Gulch.  Moe gives a sales pitch similar to the one that W.C. Fields gets from the huckster in The Bank Dick about easy living vis-a-vis the medium of shares in a beefstake mine.... beefsteak?  Anyway, Moe does such a good sales job that Larry and Shemp fall asleep.  Maybe he should start a hypnosis business!
Now, screenwriters take note: this is how you do more with less.  Moe tells the boys "We gotta get goin'!"  Larry and Shemp start to go, but Moe grabs them and says "We're heading West!"  They all walk away from the camera.  Fade to black... really?  That's it?  That's odd.  The Stooges don't often leave me underwhelmed like that.
Next scene: fade-in on a sign for the town of Peaceful Gulch.  There's no sound, but then... gun shots start ringing out.  See how they did that?  Hmm... this all seems vaguely familiar... BUSTED!!!  That's right, not only is it another bloody Western, it's another bloody re-imagining of a previous Stooge short, Phony Express.  And so, the conceit of that one is that the Stooges are magically turned from vagrants on the run from the law to deputies helping out the law.  And even though actor Victor Travers died in 1948, he lives forever in celluloid form.  See?  Nothing new under the sun.  Sure, everyone complains now about Marilyn Monroe and Martin Luther King Jr. doing ads for vacuum cleaners and toasters.  WHAT ABOUT VICTOR TRAVERS?  Oh, no one cares about that... and it gets worse.  Travers will magically reappear again in 1955's Bedlam in Paradise.  To add insult to injury, Travers' voice seems to be dubbed in after he gets a face full of ink.  Fade to black... in Phony Express, they cross-fade to the Stooges hiding behind a tree.
Next scene: it's already in the paper.  That was fast!  Okay, so arguably it's a stroke of genius to deputize three vagrants.  Now here's the question: shouldn't you also tell said vagrants that they've been deputized?  Of course not!  What's funny about that?  Anyway, as in Phony Express, the arch-bad guy this time is named Red Morgan.  Unfortunately, he's not played by the doughy, Lou Dobbs-ish but in a good way, Bud Jamison.  No, it's some alpha male Gary Cooper wannabe who just doesn't realize how far he is from that goal.  One of his literate flunkies reads the paper and warns Red that they should hold off on robbing the bank.  But hotter heads prevail and Red says they'll do it before the lawmen get there.  Next scene: the lawmen come in through the saloon doors.  Red quietly tells his henchmen to get ready to shoot, but to also be careful.  We don't want to end this Stooge short too soon now!
Next scene: time for a new character to enter the fold.  And this is where I begin to think about taking exception.  Just as the Oracle was replaced between Matrix 2 and Matrix 3, so too do we have a replacement here.  Enter the bumbling Western hero, and he's NOT Jock Mahoney!  Jock has been replaced by Paul Campbell and... you know what?  He's not that bad.  Not quite the all-American face as Jock, but darned close.  Kinda looks like Michael Nesmith!  Anyway, he plays a character named Cassidy.  The Stooges get excited.  "What might your front name be?" asks Larry.  "Aw shucks... Clarence," says Paul Campbell.  Even he's disappointed.  Now, let me get this straight... are the Stooges, in fact, time traveling celebrity autograph seekers?  Were they expecting Hopalong Cassidy?  Looks like Clarence was expecting that too!  Poor fella.
And so, Clarence is off to tell Mr. Higgins... whoever that is... that his three new Marshals are here.  "I'm ridin'!" declares Clarence, and then he promptly trips over a chair.  That's JOCK's shtick, damn it.  Jock's.  Oh, right.  I forgot; I'm over that already.  Anyway, Chairman Moe takes charge in The Stranger's absence once again.  The Stooges are still well in the "Safety" section of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, and they'll take work as close as they can get it, or make up a job if they have to.  Moe figures the saloon they're in is pretty dirty, so why not try and start there?  Boy, they're the stars of this picture, so they're not going to get shot... but they're really pushing it.
Now, screenwriters take note.  Just as when cousin Vinny first visited our two young, scared defendants in that Southern jail, so too do the Stooges take advantage of the delicious ambiguity of language.  They waltz right up to the bad guy and Moe says "Well, Mister, we aim to do a little ... cleanin' up around here!"  "Now, wait a minute.  Let's talk this thing over," says the so-called bad guy.  Wotta wuss!  He's not going to kill a damn thing.  And because he's not much of a conversationalist, Red smartly offers the Stooges a drink.  The Stooges accept, of course.  See, they still don't know what's going on.  Besides!  The Stooges always have comedic reactions to the alcohol.
I suppose Act Two was about the point when the Stooges came into this place, but I'm going to hold to my usual five minute mark this time.  And now, our next plot development... you know, Shemp does seem an odd choice at first to be the ladykiller of the Stooges.  But, when you consider what nerds Moe and Larry are, then the choice is clear.  As was Curly, Shemp is the lesser of three evils... I mean, clearly the most romantic of the Stooges.  Alas, there's no Christine McIntyre (and this is an Edward Bernds pic!!!) or Nanette Bordeaux to work with this time.  Instead we have... Marion Martin?  Sheesh!!  Well, from her IMDb bio, she seems like a nice lady.  Then again, she came from old money.  I'm just so conflicted over this one!  Anyway, she starts hitting on Shemp.  Shemp can hardly believe it himself.  "Hey, handsome!" she says.  "Who came in?" asks Shemp, looking around.  Obviously she has to be a little more direct, and Gladys practically yanks Shemp's arm out of its socket to get him over to the dance floor section of the saloon.  But soon enough, Shemp starts getting into it.  Dare I say he's making Gladys smile?  Just as long as he doesn't crush her toes, for God's sake.
Showing incredible restraint for the bad guy, Red says to Moe "Your partner's doing all right!"  Moe, showing considerably less, goes over to cut in.  Red does, however, strongly suggest to Lawrence to stay and have a drink.  "It's on the house!" he says.  "Thanks!  I reckon I'll have a whole bottle!" says Larry.  Leave it up to Larry to make things more expensive for the bad guys.  Sheesh.
Back to Moe, who asks to cut in on Shemp's dance.  There's a brief moment of levity when Moe and Shemp start dancing together.  Oh, those goofballs!  They're just lucky they didn't get called to meet with the HUAC in D.C. for that!  And for that one about the microfilm in the watermelons.  Moe steps on Shemp's toes and Shemp heads back over to the bar for some fermented medicine.  Moe starts to dance with Gladys instead, lucky grrrl.
Next scene: two bad guys are on either side of Larry, and Shemp's on his way over.  Red motions to his flunkie, and the flunkie moves away from Larry's side.  Shemp soon finds himself standing next to Larry, none the wiser.  Boy, with that level of synchronization those bad guys ought to have the drop on the Stooges when it comes time for the shootin' to begin.


That bartender looks familiar!  He's been in a buncha Stooge films before.  He doesn't get credit on the IMDb page for Merry Mavericks... and frankly I'm not that interested in who that guy is to try and look him up... okay, okay, I know.  What kind of attitude is that?  This is a man we're talking about, after all!  Welp, it seems to be longtime Stooge collaborator and specialty stunt man Al Thompson.  I'd be more disappointed in the IMDb for not listing him, but they're too busy compiling lists of nip slips and what not.  Besides, Merry Mavericks clearly isn't one of the alpha Stooge shorts.  However, he's about to have a crucial part in the plot here!  He walks over to Red and discreetly slips him a copy of the original vagrancy handbill.  "I thought they looked familiar!" says Red.  That's the Old West for ya: vagrant one day, Sheriff the next.  Something about being so close to the law, I guess.
With the dramatic tension ratcheted up, time for one of the Stooges to release some dramatic steam.  In this case, it's done by Moe!  Usually it's Shemp or Larry who unleashes the chaos, but he's the boss and the boss wants to have some of the fun this time.  He's still dancing with the blond floozy when... dayamn!  He's stealing Curly's dance moves!  Oh, this aggression will not stand.  And of course, Moe forgets about his dangerous boot spurs and ends up boinging Red in the ass.  Red yelps in pain, jumps up, and unleashes his fury upon Moe.  He can't hide behind the façade any longer.  "Vagrant!" he calls Moe.  "Try to fool me, will ya?"  Red draws his gun to shoot Moe, and Red and Moe struggle over the gun.  Maybe Moe's sheriff material after all!  The gun fires and it dislodges a hanging lantern from the ceiling.  There's three bad guys watching the struggle from afar: two of Red's flunkies and that turncoat bartender.  The lantern knocks out the bartender and one of Red's flunkies.  There's still one flunkie who's conscious, but he's a bad shot, so he has to pistol whip Moe into submission.  Moe and Red keep spinning around so the bad guy's waiting for the right moment.  You know, like when you're trying to do the double jump rope and you're having a hard time just getting in, for God's sake!  But suddenly... the girl throws a bottle.  The bottle hits the bad guy.  Back to the girl, who makes a "Sorry!" face.  I guess it was an accident then.  The bad guy lurches forward and hits Red on the head with the gun!  See?  It all balances out.
However, the Stooges' chivalrous nature will have trouble with the dame, for she picks up the gun and sticks it into Moe's back.  She lines up the Stooges against the bar and says "Now I'm gonna let you have it!"  Shemp leads the charge in the pleading for their lives.  "I got a golden-haired sister that looks just like you!" says Shemp.  The waterworks are starting to flow now, at least from the Stooges.  Wait... he's not going to do the "I've got a brother THIS HIGH" bit, is he?  He is!  But surely he's not going to strike a lady?  That's a crucial part of the bit, you know... he does!  That misogynist bastard.  Well, he just slaps the gun from her hand, which is tame for the Old West.
And so, the Stooges are once again in control of the situation.  Larry goes over to a couple of the unconscious guys and says "Don't move a muscle, you guys!"  Real productive, Larry!  Way to help out.  Next scene: the triumphant return of that clumsy ox Clarence Cassidy.  Clarence, of course, tries to take credit for all the hard work, the little sneak.  And so, Clarence leads the charge of getting all the bad guys to jail.  Maybe they should handcuff them first!  Shemp's not going easy on Gladys.  "Come along sister, or I'll knock your brains out!"  Moe says to Shemp, "Hey!  Is that any way to talk to a lady?"  Shemp then removes his hat... and says the same line.  "That's better," says Moe.  Ah, the Old West.  And so, with their guns on the bad guys, Moe and Larry wake up their unconscious prisoners and walk them to the jail cell.
Next scene: the jail.  It's not a co-ed jail, so Gladys gets a cell all to herself.  Shemp almost gets locked in with her.  "Hey, bud, you got a calendar?" says Shemp to the jailer.  It seems like the Stooges are in one jail cell or another.  If only there were a blogger out there who kept better count of such statistics.  "WAIT A MINUTE!" barks Shemp and is released.  Shemp takes out some of his anger on the jailer, but Moe slaps Shemp into submission.
Next plot wrinkle: Clarence, within earshot of the bad guys, tells the Stooges as quietly as possible that the money's been moved to "the old Horton place"?  And, much like Butch Cassidy and Sundance were briefly hired as payroll guards, so too are the Stooges.  "A job's a job!" says Moe as the good guys exit.
Now here's a nice modern touch.  I kinda hate to spoil it... so I guess I won't.  Needless to say, the bad guys get out of jail, and rather soon after they were put in!  Nice touch.  Something Elmore Leonard probably came up with.
Next scene: the old Horton place.  Clarence has got one large bag and one small bag, but really, both of the bags are rather small.  It ain't Fort Knox, basically.  Seems like an awful lot of hoopla swirling around an awful small amount of money.  But it's probably a good first assignment for the Stooges.  Clarence puts the bags into a cabinet to hide them.  Maybe the drawer's got a combination lock on it or something.  And then, Clarence gives the Stooges a little backstory of the old Horton place.  Rumor has it... right, Adele?  Anyway, rumor has it that the ghost of an old Indian chief returns every once in a while looking for revenge against Jeff Horton, the (old) head of the old Horton place.  Note how Cassidy laughs inappropriately as he recounts the tale.  As he tells it, Horton blew the Indian's head off with a shotgun.  Sounds like an Indian version of the Sleepy Hollow Headless Horseman.  The Stooges laugh nervously because they're so damn afraid of ghosts.  Clarence makes a quick, non-clumsy exit, and the Stooges are left to their own devices, as they try in vain to calm their fears alone.  Larry's no help, of course.  He always seems to be asking the "suppose" question.  Case in point: he asks Moe "Suppose the chief comes back looking for his head?"  Perhaps to take their minds off the crippling fear, they get hung up on little details.  Moe asks Larry, "What are ya... scared?"  "No, just apprehensive!" says Lawrence.  Moe does a double take and says "...That's a mighty fancy word!  What does it mean?"  Larry replies "It means you're scared!... with a college education!"  Oh, s'z'nap!  See, in the olden days, going to college didn't used to mean sitting on the couch in your shorts with a laptop doing tests in a web browser by clicking radio buttons and typing in text.  You actually had to dress up and travel to buildings!  Imagine doing that today!
Anyway, Moe's only temporarily impressed with encroachments on his supremacy by the other two.  He punishes Shemp just for existing, and he does it before hitting Larry.  Therefore, Larry must've done something right!  And furthermore, Larry gets sleeping privileges, while Moe and Shemp have to stand guard!  Larry notices the thick layer of dust on the couch, puts his shootin' iron under his hat, rests hat and gun on the arm of the couch and proceeds to lie down.  He hits his head on the couch's arm, the doof.
Next scene: Moe and Shemp are standing guard in... a warehouse?  Boy, this old Horton place must be quite a place!  And seeing as how there's no other place around the place... anyway, Moe's in a bad mood.  A little extra bad, it seems like.  Take, for instance, his reaction to Shemp's line: "Gee, I hope nothing happens."  I think he did this once before, and he does it again.  Moe says to Shemp, "What could happen?  Well, ANSWER me!  What could possibly happen?"  Geez, Moe!  Step it back a little bit, why dontcha?  I think we're overdue for another character to enter the fray.
Next scene: another character enters the fray.  Someone flown in from the Eyes Wide Shut masked orgy peeks up from behind an old crate in the old Horton place.  This shot is a close-up.  Next scene: a wide shot of the warehouse room.  The masked person's still looking at Moe and Shemp.  Shemp swings his head around and the masked individual ducks back down behind its hidin' crate.
Next scene: back to Larry who hasn't fallen asleep yet, but he did find a nice blanket with which to cover himself.  Actually, it looks like a throw rug.  He just covers his torso with it, the doof.  I mean, awwww, isn't that sweet.  NOW the boy's ready to do some serious snorin'!  Just then... the sound of footprints!  Lawrence's eyes bug out of his head.  The footprints are gettin' closer!  Larry asks if it's Moe or Shemp... geez, but I hate to see him like this.  He covers himself up with his pathetically small rug and... next scene: the door opens, and there it is... White Man's worst nightmare come to life.  Okay, maybe second.  I learned from Bill Maher's little HBO show that White Man's absolute worst nightmare is having their castle in the gated suburban community stormed by the marauding poor people, like some kind of scene from 300 or Lord of the Rings.  I know, probably more like 300.  At least it turned out badly for them!  The second worst nightmare is a headless Native American come to life, brandishing a weapon of some sort.  And here it comes, slowly marching into the room, while Larry shivers under his teeny little blankie.
And yet... Larry still can't help but look.  Larry gets an eyeful of the headless body, gets very scared, and then he RUNS AWAY!!!  Better link to that, I guess...  The headless Indian takes a couple of swipes at Larry with its tomahawk, but to no avail.  I guess the ghost doesn't have good eyesight.


Oh, right!  The Act break.  Anyway, back to Moe and Shemp.  The masked person is tired of waiting, so they start sneaking up on Moe and Shemp with a knife.  When suddenly... we hear Larry yelling from a distance, lol.  I gotta hear that again... that may be the highlight of the film.  Larry's obviously quite agitated, but Moe's still pretty fed up, and Moe's moods usually win the day.  "Ya dreamed it, ya birdbrain!" declares Moe.  Then, perhaps as a punitive measure, Moe sends Shemp to get some sleep, and Larry will stay with Moe instead.  Moe might end up regretting that, however, seeing as how fed up he is.  Moe calls Larry a fraidy-cat, and Shemp responds "But Moe!  I'm a fraidy cat, too!"  Moe slaps Shemp and sends him on his scary way.
The masked knifer starts to make his approach again.  Moe calms Larry down some more, then says "Why don't you get yourself a book and improve your mind?... Aw, skip it."  Nailed it!  See, because... ah, skip it.
"C'mon, you're blocking my light!" barks Moe as the masked knifer gets closer.  But how can Larry be blocking his light when he's.... "NYAAAAAHHHHH!!!!" Moe and Larry squeal in unison.  And yet another chase is on.  What is it, like, the 150th or something?  Does somebody have that data in XML form?  Anyway, Moe and Larry run away like cowards instead of facing their demons.  Well, they are getting on in years, and the demon has a knife, and he almost gets Moe when he goes around the tables.  Larry and Moe go to the door on the left and open it... nyaaah again!  'Tis pity it's a ghost!  Time to run the other way.  They go to the window against the wall and... NYAAAAHHHH!!!  A third daemon which looks like the first's twin brother!  This is almost as action packed as the big finale of If a Body Meets a Body!!  "We get..." yells Moe as he and Larry do everything they can to move Heaven and Earth and the furniture in front of them to get to the door at Stage Right.  Note the audio during this section.
Next scene: Shemp in the sleepin' room.  Remember the audio I told you to make a note of?  Moe or Larry at about 4:02.5 says "Yep," which gets repeated at 4:06.  That's Cannery Row for ya!  Anything to cut corners.  And God bless 'em for that.  It helps you remember it better when it's repeated.  Shemp hears all this commotion and assumes it's coming his way, so he pulls a giant piece of Western furniture in front of the one door; it's some strange combination of a desk and a tall closet.  Ask someone else about it.  So he pulls the giant piece of furniture in front of the first door, and puts a tiny table in front of the second door.  Lol.  Barricade complete!  Well, it could arguably be a little bit sweeter.  Shemp goes over to the chair and starts to pull it.  As always, he doesn't look at what he's doing, and he doesn't see that the headless Indian ghost is sitting in the chair.  He eventually turns to apologize to the ghost, saying that... GHOST!!!!  It takes a swipe at Shemp with the axe and just barely misses.  And so, the hard work of un-barricading the doors begins.  Shemp, of course, starts with the big piece of furniture instead of the small table, lol.
Next scene: Shemp manages to move the giant piece of furniture enough to get the door open just enough for him to slip through.  He's now out in the hall.  The other Stooges come around the corner at that precise moment and... NYAAH!!!  They scare each other and run in opposite directions.  However, the Eyes Wide Shut twins are also barreling down on Moe and Larry.  Larry reverses course a second time, while Moe manages to sneak past one of the bad guys.
Next scene: Larry's in a room by himself again.  Meanwhile, even though we don't see them, we hear the screaming of multiple Stooges and the sound of multiple footsteps as they run from more bad guys.  I'm going to assume that it's just sloppy work on the part of the audio editors.  They however get one crucial detail right: Larry gets hit on the head with a rather dusty box which makes a "bonk" sound at the right time.  Larry clutches his head in pain; hope it wasn't too heavy!!  The extra noise eventually stops as Larry approaches a suspicious-looking chair-shaped object in the center of the room.  Gee, there's no chance that it's suddenly going to come to life, is there?.......... sheesh!  Larry didn't even give it a chance to grab him!  And then... Larry runs smack dab into one of the masked bad guys.  "Hey, turn on the lights!" cries Lawrence.  What a dweeb.  And then... the disguises come off.  It was Gladys as the chair, and Red Morgan as the masked bad guy.  Gladys takes over for Red and grabs Larry around the neck!  Damn, that's a butch move.  Larry's in a tight spot!
Next scene: Shemp's in a furnished room for once!  It's a bedroom, and he must be confused by the furnishings.  He doesn't know which way to go.  He zigs, then zags, then heads for the closet.  The cameraman had to do extra on this one, that's for sure.  The camera dollies after Shemp when he starts running towards the closet.  Next scene: the closet interior proper, where Shemp shuts the door behind him.  Gee, I wonder who's in the closet with him!..... oh no!  It's the headless Indian!
Next scene: we're back out in the room looking at the closet door, and we hear Shemp cry for help from his fellow Stooges, but to no avail.  Is this the end of Shemp as we know it?  Will we need that Shemp double early?  Could be!  Shemp stops making noise.  The closet door opens, and the headless Indian emerges triumphant from the struggle.  The Indian heads for the door and exits.  Oh, this just does not bode well at all for Shemp.
Next scene: Moe has just discovered the piece of furniture blocking the door to the sleepin' room.  He only moves it enough so he can get in.  I guess we're not doing the bit where... ah, skip it.  I'm tired.  And Moe is too, frankly.  I mean, look at him!  Is he about to have a heart attack?  He's clutching his chest and breathing short rapid breaths!  It's all he can do to get over to a chair and sit down... oh, no.  He would pick the one that looks like a dude covered with a cloth.  Actually, there seems to be quite a few of them!  But for now, only Moe's chair moves, and it takes too long driving the point home.  Yes, we get it.  It's a guy pretending to be a chair.  He raises his arms like a cat about to pounce on a harmless grasshopper and... a might struggle ensues.  All Moe can say is "Lemme go!  Lemme GO!!!!"  I think Moe thinks it's Larry strangling him.  The struggle goes on for about thirteen seconds, as the chair guy struggles to free his arm so he can grab Moe's gun from its holster.  The bad guy takes off his mask, and the struggle stops.  Moe looks at the guy and says "Oh!  It's only you!"  I forget which one of the bad guys it is!  Then Moe sees the gun aimed at his belly, at which point he snorts and raises his hands reluctantly.  Next scene: apparently, it's Pete.  Red Morgan and Gladys come into the room with Larry.  "Nice work, Pete" says Red.  But where's the other one?  I mean, Shemp?  Oh, Red's not too worried about him.  He must've seen his boxing from previous Stooge shorts.  Shemp just flails his arms as much as he can and says "Cop a sneaker, eh?"  Then he leans in for a chance to punch the other guy and WHAM!  Right in the kisser for Shemp-a-rino.  No, Moe and Larry will tell Red where the money is, or it's lead poisoning time.
Moe seems ashamed, but he's nevertheless standing on principle, and taking Lawrence with him.  "I don't know" says Moe when Red asks him where the money is.  Larry starts to tell but Moe says "WE DON'T KNOW!!!"  Moe makes things worse by daring the outlaws to shoot, saying that they'll hang if they do.
And then... damn, for some reason I really don't want to spoil this, even though it probably seems obvious to you jaded screenwriter types out there.  Far too easy to put two and two together these days.


Needles to say, Shemp saves the day, and the boys once again find themselves alone with Gladys, forced to walk the fine line between gentleman and lawman.  And then... it's the triumphant return of Clarence Cassidy!  He does his usual shtick, not exactly trying to take credit this time, but saying that he really would've let the bad guys have it, etc.  And then... I think this is a Stooge first!  Clarence looks at one of the bad guys, and he has a relatively tiny streak of blood coming from his mouth.  Blood is not usually seen in Stooge films.  No, they know how to hurt and not leave marks somehow.  Needless to say, Clarence is as shocked as any Stooge fan, and his eyes roll up and he falls down backwards.  Wotta wuss.  The camera dollies in on Moe.  Moe doesn't look directly into the camera, but he seems to be gazing at some unseen fourth wall when he says "What's the West coming to?"  He's the man for his time and place, no question about it.  Oh, but this is a Stooge film!  We gotta end with a corny joke, not a statement of irony!  Gladys ends up providing that, which probably makes her role all the more demeaning.  But I'm going to give this haunted house Western three and a half stars, which probably makes me a chauvinist.  Now this is how you blend genres!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

What - No Russians??!!!!!!

Oh my garschk!  Time for another Popeye!


We start with Popeye, yodeling in the snow.  To be honest, he's terrible at it, but he gives it his all.  As the best yodelers among us know, it's always important to stretch out your neck like a turtle when you yodel.  Being a cartoon character, Popeye's got an unfair advantage.  And... why, look!  Popeye's sometime friend Bluto is trudging along in the snow and yodeling as well!  Well, the fighting will start soon enough.  It always does.
Next scene: they get to a cabin in the snow.  It's Olive's place!  Go figure.  Oh, those two have a one-track mind.  They're both standing outside the window.  Bluto calls to Olive first, then Popeye.  Olive opens the window and says "Oh, hello, boys!"  It's time for some singing.  Popeye starts singing a rousing rendition of "Won't You Climb the Mountain With Me."  I'll leave it to the historians among us to figure out if that's an actual song, or one of the Fleischers' own devising.
And so, Popeye and Bluto invite the fickle Olive to go mountain climbing through the medium of song.  But whom to pick?  Olive uses the old, time-honored "Eeny Meeny Miney Moe" process... but perhaps she knew all along she wanted to go with Popeye.  Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Jerry picks Costanza with "Ink-a-Dink."  Must be an East coast thing.  I'll leave it to the Seinfeld freaks among us to figure out what episode that's from... hint: The Statue.
"Good choice, Olive!" Popeye mutters to Olive as she steps out into the snow through her window.  Popeye tells Bluto "Sorry, old pal.  Bet-ter luck next time!"  I like the way he split up the word "better."  Popeye extends his hand in friendship.  Bluto takes it, and punches Popeye head first into the snow, enjoying a hearty laugh.  Olive was already on her way, but she doubles back to dig Popeye out of the snow.  "You're just a sore loser!" he tells Bluto.  The ass-kicking is a mere five minutes off, I'm afraid.  But Bluto isn't prepared to write himself off just yet.  This isn't nature, after all!  Bluto fancies himself the alpha male, and he's going to try changing Olive's mind.  As in Sindbad the Sailor, after he gets hit by the falling pieces of telescope, Bluto says "Whyyyyy..... I'LL fix him!!"


Next scene: Popeye and Olive get to the mountain proper.  "Oh, we're going to have a swell time," coos Olive.  Now maybe it's just me, but they seem dangerously unprepared to go mountain climbing, dont'cha think?  No packs, no particularly wintry clothes... the only equipment to speak of is a length of rope that Popeye ties around Olive's waist.  Olive seems a bit concerned about the mountain's steepness, but Popeye reassures her, saying "It's just perpendicular, Olive.  Poi-pen-dickalar."
The climbing begins in earnest, and you can tell because the Disney-esque incidental music begins.  For shame, Fleischers, for shame.  Popeye climbs to a ledge and pulls Olive up.  He climbs up to the next ledge and... hmm!  It seems to be the same distance as the first ledge!  Would the animators by any chance, be cutting a few corners?  For shame, Fleischers, for shame.  Meanwhile, Bluto arrives at the base of the mountain, saying "Whyyyyyyy......." in his usual way.  The part of the mountain he's at has no snow on it, and he looks up and shakes his fist at Popeye and Olive.  But... where is he, exactly?  In some alternate universe where he can see a Popeye and Olive that we can't?  For shame, Fle... okay, Movie Hooligan.  Time for a self-intervention.  I'm just never going to get through this review if I keep doing that.  Anyway, at some point, Bluto starts climbing the mountain himself, to that snake charmer's tune.  Boy, he's really shaking his tush!  He kinda looks like a snake trying to climb a mountain.  I was going to point out that the way Bluto climbs the mountain is kinda gay, but you can see that for yourself.  There's just no getting around it.
And so, Popeye has pulled Olive up to three ledges, and rather rudely at that.  Just one quick jerk and up she flies to the next ledge.  Kinda like I imagine Bluto would've done!  But Olive seems to be enjoying herself.  They yodel to each other.
And now... my vertigo-afflicted friend would like this part... I mean, this part.  Boy!  The YouTube's starting to crack down!  We get a "3-D" view of the mountain from just above Popeye.  Olive's on a ledge far below, and Popeye pulls her up this time, rather than in just one quick jerk.  The only difference this time is Bluto is now in the same shot.  He's on the ledge far below where Olive just was, and Popeye's rope has ended up in a loop down near Bluto's head.  Bluto is in full Machiavelli Mode now as he bites the rope in half (as if he's taking a big bite out of a cow's leg), and ties Popeye's half to a giant rock.  Oh, this ain't going to end well... BAM!  Yup, right in the head.  Popeye tugs so hard on the rock that it flies up and hits him in the back of the head.  He's okay, though, just a little bit dizzy.  Olive's okay as well; apparently she doesn't get hit by any of the falling pieces of the rock.  In fact, she's a bit annoyed, saying "Oh, Popeye, if you aren't the one.  Always stringing me along."  Huh?  No time to ponder that, though, as Bluto makes his move, grabbing on to Olive's ankle.  She starts freaking out and screaming, though.  Bet Bluto didn't expect that!  Or did he?  Either way, Bluto has a way with women.  It's a way that hasn't been tried for a long, long time, but now that the Battle of the Sexes seems to have become a Race to the Bottom, maybe it seems quaint in comparison, who knows.  I don't watch Jersey Shore all that much.
Needles to say, knowledge is power, and Popeye's aware of Bluto now, but it's not yet time for fighting yet.  "How did that mountain goat get here?" mumbles Popeye to himself.  Popeye makes a lasso out of his end of the rope, and ropes Olive by her left hand.  Bluto's holding on to Olive by her left ankle, and Olive's trying to resist.  Bluto just doesn't get it, you see.  Popeye's solution to this impasse is elegant yet chauvinist, as he gives Olive a good yank, and she goes flying up to Popeye's ledge far above and away from Bluto.  Popeye waves at Bluto and yodels "Toodle-ee-oooo!!!"  Popeye and Olive continue their ascent.  There's apparently no turning back now!  Me, I wouldn't have gone in the first place.
Bluto stews on his ledge far below and says "Toodle-ee-ooo, eh?"  And so, God is smiling down upon Popeye and Olive, but the Devil's given Bluto a shortcut up to the top of the mountain: there's a cave just inside the mountain's outer crust, for lack of the technical terms at my fingertips.  And so, Bluto starts his ascent, and the "camera" follows.  As we rise, we get a brief glimpse of Bluto, and in that brief glimpse as he continues his inner climb he says "Hmmm..."  Lol.  Can't let a moment like that go to waste, I guess!
Suddenly, before you know it, Bluto's above Popeye and Olive!  He takes a tree branch and rips it out of its natural place, places it on the ledge and steps on it.  See what I mean?  Talk about your devilish tricks!  Soon enough, Popeye sees the branch, but not the rather large man stepping on it.  "Just in the twig of time!" says Popeye.  So corny, so dumb, as a once-famous figure skater once said about Disneyland.  And then... whoa, dude.  Bluto lifts his foot and Popeye falls to what I can only assume is his death.  Talk about mean.  Epic mean.


We might as well start Act Three here, as numerically it's about right.  I mean, the cartoon's 6 minutes 17 seconds long, so Act Three would be starting around 4 minutes 12 seconds, right?  Not counting the time of the intro and the ending, of course... anyway, we're starting it at a critical point in the plot, because it's pretty much every mountain climber's nightmare, especially if there's two or more of you, tied to the same rope.  I think 2000's Vertical Limit started with such a nightmare.  Damn you, Stuart Wilson!  NEVER go mountain climbing with that wanker.  Point is, Popeye falls and starts to take Olive with him.  Thankfully, Olive's feet are quick thinkers... or maybe they're just lucky.  Her feet keep her from plummeting down the mountain, as her left foot is clinging to a ledge, and her right is clinging to a tree stump.  Popeye's thrashing by his rope far below, but he makes a comedic spring noise to dull the horror.  Fortunately, that cold, cold mountain air hasn't slowed Popeye down much, and he quickly climbs back up the rope and over Olive to the relative safety of the ledge.  Popeye has to lift Olive from where she was hanging, as a form of rigor mortis seems to have taken hold of her body despite her still being alive.  Oh, right, maybe it's that darned old fear of heights!!!  Popeye tries to mold Olive back into a normal shape; more specifically, Olive's legs are frozen in place, and Popeye tries to put them close together again, but it's like trying to close a particularly stubborn pair of scissors.
There.  All back to normal.  Olive's ready to climb again.  Good thing for Bluto that they couldn't see him this time!
Next scene: the top of the mountain, or as close to it as cabinbuilders could get.  We see Bluto at the tippy top next to a cabin, which is right flush with the mountain's edge.  A note to mountain climbers of all stripes: if there's a cabin that close to the edge, do not use that cabin.  It may be tempting, it may be too cold out, but I'm pretty sure you'll end up being sorry.
And so, Bluto looks down and sees that Popeye and Olive are almost there.  Bluto looks around for something he can use for his next bit of deviltry.  Bluto sees a couple of trees... nah, did that trick already.  Bluto decides to just hide behind the cabin.  He hides... then he sneaks back real quick to grab a pair of skis leaning up against the cabin.
And so, Bluto's completely hidden at this point.  Concurrently, Popeye and Olive have finally made it to the top.  Popeye gestures to Olive to be quiet, and Popeye looks around for Bluto.  Unfortunately, Popeye looks back down the mountain to see where Bluto is.  Olive's looking around, and doesn't see Bluto quickly sneaking up on Popeye.  Bluto's wearing the skis, and he gives Popeye a good swift kick in the ass with one of them.  Well, that just wasn't clever at all!  As Popeye's falling to his death for what may be the final, last time, Olive screams and says "Popeye!  Watch out!"  Er, thanks for the warning, babe, as Alanis Morrisette might say.
Next scene: Popeye's falling to earth at about 9 feet per second squared... something like that.  And I'm supposed to be studying physics in the fall.  For shame, Movie Hooligan, for shame.  Oh, it's well past spinach time.  Popeye reaches into a phantom pocket next to his pants pocket, lol, and grabs his ubiquitous can of spinach.  Fortunately, the spinach is Superman-grade, and Popeye ends up flying back up towards Olive and Bluto.  Just don't let it go to your head, Sailor Man!
Next scene: Bluto sees Popeye flying back up.  You can tell because of the lines emanating from his head.  Bluto starts skiing down the mountain with Olive in his arms.  The Superman powers of the spinach must've just worn off, because Popeye tries climbing up the rope dangling over the side of the mountain, but the rope isn't tied to anything and it quickly ends up flying down the mountain in its own right.  Popeye nevertheless gets to the top and slowly runs after the skiing Bluto, lol.
Next scene: Popeye punches a whole tree.  The tree flies up into the air, and down comes a pair of skis and a pair of poles.  Popeye just uses the poles to launch himself, and now it's a more equal fight.  Next scene: Bluto's skiing right along with Olive in his arms.  Olive keeps screaming "OH POPEYE!  OH POPEYE!!!"  Frankly, I don't kow why she bothers with either one of those guys; they do tend to always seem to be together.  When suddenly... Olive's feet take control again!  Olive slips out of Bluto's grip as her feet stick to the branch of a passing tree.  Popeye skis right by her and says "I'LL BE BACK!!!"  He's like some kind of termite or something... what's the reference I'm looking for?  Anyway, for those of you who never forgave Indiana Jones for leaving Marian Ravenwood tied up in that tent in the desert, is this not a similar situation?  Something about the 1930s, I guess.
And so, Bluto and Popeye are skiing side by side now.  They survive a huge gap in the mountain, and then they end up in a Hanna-Barbera-esque loop.  Kind of a sine wave-shaped split in the mountain, which they follow faithfully.  They only have a couple radians of space in which they can really wail on each other, and they of course use the opportunity to their fullest.  This loop eventually ends, and Bluto gets a slight advantage over Popeye.  It's all pointless, of course, but it's still a little bit exciting, no?
Next scene: a normal stretch of mountain!  Thank Goodness!  Bluto zips by first, then Popeye about a second and a half behind, who says "Here I come!"  Oh, Popeye's out for blood this time.  Next scene: more danger.  There's a curve on this stretch of the mountain that I sincerely hope no skiier in real life has ever had to deal with.  As you can tell from the animation, there's some snow that's going to break off.  Bluto passes by and... yup, it breaks off.  A little more challenging for Popeye, but he's more than ready for it, but says "Whoa!!!" ne'theless.  Okay, Daily Show/Colbert time!  Gotta run.
I'm back!  Next scene: a ski jump platform.  Damn, this cartoon's got everything!  Bluto goes on it first, with Popeye a close second.  But Popeye's got some serious momentum behind him and he ends up stepping on Bluto's head as they both fly through the air.  "I'll be skiin' ya!" says Popeye.  Literally!  That'd make a great title for the sequel.  Next scene: okay, play time's over.  Popeye delivers a single punch, and Bluto goes flying through not one, not two... but three tiny snow peaks, leaving behind three Bluto-shaped holes in them.  Bluto lands on an ice floe in the middle of the lake.  Is he dead?  Tune in next week to find out.


Okay, so Bluto's been disposed of, for all intents and purposes of this short... but what about Olive?  She's still stuck in that tree.  So much for Popeye's promise of coming back to get her!  Olive gets out of the tree, but starts slipping on the snow.  And even though Popeye's really really far away, he can see what's going on and immediately sets off to be by Olive's side.  As often is the case, however, Popeye's all shagged out from his spinach high and he makes a half-assed attempt to get to Olive.
Next scene: A long shot of the mountain, and it's time for some 3-D-ish effects.  Olive's engaging in some extreme skiing without skis.  Drumroll, please!  She navigates a crevass in the mountain on her way down, then she starts falling, and she starts screaming.  Screaming even louder when she was trying to free herself from Bluto's manly grip.  Poor Mae Questel!  She really gave her all in this one.  Fortunately, Popeye catches Olive, but he ends up getting buried in the snow.  Popeye sticks his head out and sings the ending theme... wait a second!  Popeye's got his hands on Olive's ass!  Three and a half stars.

Good double bill with: I'll Be Skiing Ya ... maybe