Monday, November 30, 2009

Parodying a Parody

In the words of an old National Lampoon cover, “you can parody anything” even parody itself (Harvey Kurtzman proved that in Mad #18). But parodying a parody is never easy. For further proof check out this spoof of the old Batman series that ran on an episode of Fast Forward. Too much of the comedy relies on Batman and Robin’s ambiguous relationship (and, please let’s officially retire this joke along with any gag about Peppermint Patty and Marcy’s sapphic tendencies or Scooby and Shaggy’s unspoken love of pot. It’s so hacky) but there are some interesting moments. Adam West’s acting style is amusingly mocked as is the show’s over-reliance on alliteration (which seems kind of dumb being that Batman’s use of alliteration was intentionally over-the-top). It’s not really funny but if you like Batman you’ll tolerate this.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Making of The Beast Must Die

I wrote this quasi-review of The Beast Must Die for Screem magazine several years ago. It was rejected. Typically, whenever something of mine is rejected it's rejected for a very good reason: it's terrible. But for some reason or another, I still really like this review and for that reason alone I'm now going to inflict it upon both of my readers. I'm sorry gents.

The time is the early 1970s, director Paul Annett is discussing his latest project with producer Milton Subotsky in the offices of Amicus Studios...

Milton Subotsky: I understand you have a new script for me.

Paul Annett: I sure do(he tosses the script onto Subotsky's desk). What do you think?

MS: Well, first of all this isn't actually a script it's just a tattered copy of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians...

PA: Uh huh.

MS: ...and it appears that someone crossed out the word "Indians" and replaced it with "Werewolves"

PA: Right, right. Do you have a problem with that?

MS: Well, yes a number of problems actually.

PA: Woah! Wait a second! Before you jump the gun let me describe the premise.

MS: (Sighs) Fine.

PA: Great. OK. Picture this. There's this great white hunter type, OK? And he's sick of hunting down elephants and jaguars, right? So he decides to go after something a little different: werewolves!

MS: (Holding his head in his hands) Go on.

PA: OK. So this hunter invites suspected werewolves to his sprawling estate so he can track them and kill them. But the only way he can find out which one of his guests is a werewolf is by forcing them to suck on
a silver bullet while they touch a candlestick.

MS: (glaring at Annett) Pass.

PA: What if I told you that the hunter was a fearless black superhero like John Shaft?

MS: Hmmm. Blaxploitation films are pretty big at the moment. Who exactly did you have in mind for the role?

PA: Robert Quarry.

MS: He's white.

PA: Oliver Reed.

MS: Again. White.

PA: Who's that one guy? Richard...Something?

MS: Roundtree? From Shaft?

PA: No...Little. We can get him to do his crazy impressions. Have you ever seen his "Duke" Wayne? (impersonates Rich Little doing "Duke" Wayne) Oh, man he is so hi-goddamn-larious.

MS: (Sighs) Look I just don't think-

PA: I can get Peter Cushing to play a Danish Professor of Werewolf-ology!

MS: What the hell does that have to do with anything?

PA: Look, do you want to make this picture or not?

MS: Not really, no.

PA: Well, what if I told you we can make it next to nothing?

MS: I'm listening.

PA: What if our "werewolf" was actually just a dog covered in the remnants of an old shag rug I found in the dumpster near the Burger King my uncle manages?

MS: That could work I suppose. But it's still missing something.

PA: What do you mean? Like a gimmick?

MS: Exactly. Towards the film's climax we could grind the film to a complete halt with a "Werewolf Break" or something. For an entire minute we can ask the audience to figure out the identity of the werewolf or we can just have an usher dress up as a werewolf and smack a couple of the audience members around.

PA: Oh, I like that last idea. Maybe we can give him a shotgun that shoots delicious gummi worms?

MS: Now you're talking! Here's a check for 500 dollars. I want Ten Little Werewolves in the can by next Thursday.

In 1973 Ten Little Werewolves was made and released (minus Rich Little, the werewolf usher and the gummi shotgun gimmick) as The Beast Must Die. The film, which mixed UK Horror, Blaxploitation, The Most Dangerous Game and country house Who-dunits, went onto become one of the greatest minor footnotes in horror movie history and its star the late Calvin Lockhart will forever be remembered as "That black guy who played the asshole hunter in that shitty movie my friend made me watch last week".

To commemorate this non-enduring anti-classic Dark Sky films has released a special edition of The Beast Must Die on DVD. This disc includes trailers, commentary from Annett and a featurette in which he threatens us with the possibility of a remake.

Although boasting an interesting cast that includes Anton Diffring, Michael Gambon, Charles Gray and Marlene Clark ,The Beast Must Die never fully realizes its potential and gladly becomes just another bland horror
film. If anything it's a solid indication of how clueless and desperate the British horror industry became in the 70s.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jack Benny Mocks the Fall 1965 Television Line-Up

Pretty self-explanatory. I'm also surprised by not only how well it holds up but by how timely the Medicare reference still is.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This Is The Chorus

Although unknown in the US, Morris Minor and The Majors seemed at one time to be the British answer to Weird Al when their novelty song The Stutter Rap became an unexpected hit in the UK and Australia. Their follow-up, This is the Chorus, an unrelenting pisstake on Rick Astley, Kylie Minogue and other members of the Stock, Aitken, Waterman hit factory, was a failure. Why it was remains a mystery. The song was extremely catchy and actually had a valid satirical point to make unlike The Stutter Rap which made the lame, out of touch observation that 'those rapper guys sure sound like they got a speech impediment'.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


There’s a common misconception that you can’t make fun of comedy. The fact of the matter is that you can it’s just not that easy and even if you can pull it off there’s only going to be a small amount of comedy nerds that will appreciate it. Case in point, this short parody of the obnoxious yet alarmingly popular Britcom On The Buses doesn’t just nail the creative bankruptcy of its target but of all leering 70s Britcoms. Yet I can’t see many people really liking this apart from a handful of Anglophiles and geeky Britts.

A Modest Collection of Drunk, Stoned and Largely Unknown Celebrities

If you’re like me then you probably enjoy when a celebrity appears drunk or stoned on television. However, if you enjoy watching a drunk or stoned celebrity you’ve never heard of then you’re probably just me. So I invite myself to enjoy the following clips of mostly unknown (apart from Iggy Pop, Robin Gibb and Oliver Reed) foreign celebrities embarrassing themselves on TV shows you’ve never heard of or care about.

Here’s the full Iggy Pop interview

Monday, November 2, 2009

Another Goddamn Sketch From Fridays

Admittedly, I’ve gone a little overboard with the Fridays clips but here’s a sketch that kind of succeeds. The long, protracted pace actually works in its favor and the twist at the halfway point is a surprise. Plus Father Guido Sarducci actually manages to be funny for once! But after awhile the idea simply runs out of steam. Why none of the writers attempted to further escalate the craziness is a mystery. Consider this sketch Exhibit W in why Fridays will never be released legitimately on DVD.