Crap Friday

This Dawn of the Dead reboot sucks.

If nothing else, Black Friday has simply become another reality show opportunity; a chance for the well-off to sneer at news media reporting on the less fortunate engaging in impromptu gladiatorial battles for the possibility of affordable consumer goods. I’ve only been badgered into journeying out on Holiday Fury Road once, and all I came out with was a five dollar blu-ray of the Nick Cage movie Drive Angry. For the record, I enjoyed the movie. Then Rick watched it on my say-so and proclaimed me a horrible human being, so that was a nice bonus. In any case, that one experience did not convince me that poking my head outside the relative safety of my home on Black Friday would be made a yearly event.

Which is why the day was perfect for a Crapfest.

In attendance were myself, my son Max, Rick, Erik, and of course, Host Dave. Alan was a bit late, and poor Paul worked for Communists, so he could not attend. Erik made a truly wondrous mess of Rice ‘n’ Beans with attendant sausage, which we filled up on, and then rolled ourselves into the Mancave to see if we could make ourselves lose that lunch.

In the gap since the last Crapfest, Dave had to switch out some elements in the AV setup to construct a death ray or something, so the first portion of the evening was spent making the new setup work. The guinea pig for this process was the pilot episode of the Japanese TV series, Magnificent Zubat, which is going to require some explanation.

Our hero is Ken Hayakawa, a wandering, guitar-strumming detective. In the first episode, he rescues childhood friend Asuka (“a penniless scholar with an interest in mountain climbing”) from the gun-slinging henchman of the “Consortium of Evil, Dakkar”, unquote, by proving he’s a better gunman. He does this by shooting the dude’s bullets out of the air. This will become traditional in the series, as Ken is just that damn good at everything. YouTube only has this showdown from a later episode:

So I think you get the drift. It’s a kid’s show, pure and simple, with little grounding in any sort of reality not associated with the smoking of certain herbal substances. Asuka is eventually murdered by someone in the Consortium of Evil, Dakkar, and Ken will spend the rest of the series trying to find out whom. To do this, he visits the “penniless scholar”s high tech lab and finishes his projects, the Zubat suit for space exploration, and the Zubat-mobile (excuse me, Zubacar), for flying around. The Zubat suit can only be used for five minutes, which certainly moves the episode’s closing minutes along, but seems a really odd feature for a space suit.

Anyway, if you have a love of the absurd and a penchant for seeing black-clad bad guys beat up women and orphans, this is the series for you. I’m quite certain that the Magnificent Zubat will return in a future Crapfest.

I also have to bear some responsibility for the next part.

Erik had wanted to bring the 1987 movie The Barbarians and had ordered the new blu-ray for that purpose. The problem: Amazon wouldn’t be delivering it until the Tuesday after Crapfest. The solution: ask Freeman if he had a copy of it, or the co-feature on the blu-ray. No to one and yes to two, as Buckaroo Banzai would say, and that is how we wound up watching The Norseman.

Possibly the best part of the viewing was the introductory crawl, referencing lusty blonde giants on longboats, which made the poor unsuspecting among us think that we were in for a comedy. Alas, no, what you get is an adventure movie written, produced and directed by Charles B. Pierce, best known for Legend of Boggy Creek and The Town That Dreaded Sundown. At least this time he didn’t cast himself as the comic relief.

It is the tale of a Viking expedition led by Lee Majors (!) to what will be eventually known as America, because their king Ulrich (Mel Ferrer) led a similar voyage the year before and vanished. What we will discover is that they encountered a tribe of the whitest Indians ever (well, theoretically they’re supposed to be in Canada, so I guess that possible). The two bands of warriors apparently hit it off pretty well, until the comely Indian princess Winetta (Susie Coelho) started making time with one of the Vikings, and the jealous chief captured them, had them blinded, and now they’re slaves continually pushing a stone mill. Good thing Winetta doesn’t agree with this, so she helps Majors and his men rescue them.

And truly, Cornel of Wilde didst wonder what happened to his career, that he did find himself playing the second of bananas to a cyborg.

There’s a good movie in there trying to get out, and almost succeeding. MGM certainly thought so. That cast includes Cornel Wilde, Jack Elam as a wizard (who needed more screen time) and TV staple Kathleen Freeman as the evil medicine woman. As it is, though, it is largely a case of watching Lee Majors run along the beach in slow motion, and Historical Inaccuracies on Parade. Of course all the Vikings have horned helmets, with the same fur from the same skein of faux fur lovingly attached to each one, although that was dreamed up by the costume designer for a Wagner opera some 1100 years later. The Vikings are also wearing what appear to be Roman armor breastplates. And using crossbows. I’m still not sure about Majors’ helmet, which has no horns but for some reason incorporates a Lone Ranger mask. I haven’t even addressed Deacon Jones as Thrall, the Black Viking, who is given absolutely nothing to do, but at least I got to name him Motherfucker the Barbarian.

“No I will NOT call you Kimosabe!”

Such wasted potential is pretty much the byword for The Norseman. What would have been the best scene takes place offscreen: Majors and the rescued Vikings are trying to make it back to the boat, with the tribe’s braves in hot pursuit. Olif (Jimmy Clem), a Viking who has shown himself adept at drowning Indians, starts slipping into a berserker rage, and stays behind to buy time for Majors and crew. That would have been an incredible sequence, and it happens offscreen. I now demand that scene with Iko Uwais’ fight team doing the choreography.

The Norseman is pretty much a displaced Saturday afternoon matinee, looking unsuccessfully for a second feature, probably a Western.

Then it was Dave’s turn, and he opened up Amazon Prime Video to inflict Chatterbox upon us. Alan and I had already seen it, so the damage to us was minimal. This is the tale of Penelope (Candace Rialson) who one night discovers that her vagina can talk. That’s the joke, folks. Tip your waitress.

This of course ruins her love life, as the vocal vagina (named Virginia) criticizes her lover and eventually drives her out on the streets dressed like a hoochie mama to get laid (she eventually has to go to a basketball team for protection, with predictable results). Virginia also has a nice singing voice, so Penelope’s psychiatrist (Larry Gelman) convinces her to go into show business, even getting the FCC to allow her to appear on TV bottomless, so Virginia can sing her hit song, “The Wang Dang Doodle”. Hopefully, you’ll like that song, too, because you’ll hear it a lot. Though not as much as we did, because Dave left the room and then sadistically ran the movie back so he could hear it. Eventually Virginia lands a film deal and it’s during the big opening number “All I Need in the Morning (Is a Little Cock-a-Doodle-Doo)” that Penelope freaks, runs from the studio and decides to kill herself.

Want to know how it ends? Go watch it on Amazon Prime. Alan and I have had to watch it twice, you can manage it once.

There are some bit players worth looking out for, not the least of which is Rip Taylor as Penelope’s boss, and Professor Irwin Corey (I was the only one to recognize Corey, because I hang out with kids). Penelope’s mom is played by Jane Kean – that’s Trixie Norton from The Honeymooners, you heathens! There is a subplot about Penelope/Virginia going on The Dating Game and the resulting date, which for padding, is actually pretty good. Max counted as many as eight jokes during the course of the movie that were not specifically talking vagina-related. This movie is shot by Tak Fujimoto, for God’s sake. And if there is a silver lining to this second viewing, it is that I was able to notice that Candace Rialson is really good in this bizarre role. Pity that she gave up acting a couple of years later.

So now it was my turn, and a return to Crapfest’s roots with Fred Olen Ray’s Bikini Drive-In. The genesis of this choice goes back a few Crapfests, when Dave showed The Great Bikini Off-Road Adventure,  and I started wondering exactly how many movies have “Bikini” in the title (I stopped counting around 115). Most of them seem to follow the formula of a cherished family business in deep financial trouble, which is salvaged through the magic of wearing bikinis with a sprinkling of R-rated nudity. How this formula is applied in something like Bikini Hoedown is beyond me, and I have a lot more movies to watch before I’m going to be tempted to find out.

In this particular case, it’s Kim’s (Ashley Rhey) grandfather’s drive-in theater, left to her after his death. Grandpa believed in family entertainment and only showed G-rated movies, hence the theater is in the hole to the tune of $10,000, due at the Bank after the coming weekend. Local shady businessman J.B. Winston (no less than David F. Friedman himself) wants the land for a mall. His goons (Ross Hagen and Peter Spellos) are more the breaking legs sort than handling financial jiggery-pokery, so Winston’s son Brian (Richard Gabai) gets the job. Too bad Brian is smitten by the plucky Kim, and decides to help her save the drive-in. He has a plan, and it involves bikinis.

It also involves getting a Scream Queen to make a personal appearance – Dyanne Lynn (Michelle Bauer), by telling her the President will there that night. And finding out that the projectionist Paul (Conrad Brooks) had been saving the movies that Grandpa wanted to throw out, which means they’ll have a full evening of potboiler material, climaxing (no pun intended) with Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (“I love that movie!” Brian exclaims).

That night at the newly-rechristened Bikini Drive-in is the main reason to watch the movie. There are a ton of cameos by which you are going to be able to rank your nerd-dom: Forry Ackerman is easy to spot, as is Gordon Mitchell in a joke trailer for Goliath and the Cheerleaders (mined by Stomp Tokyo for one of their April Fools gags years ago). You’re going to have to be up on your personnel lists to spot David L. Hewitt, Anthony Cardoza, Donald F. Glut, and Jim Wynorski. Fred Olen Ray crops up as a DJ, and John Carradine appears as a picture of Kim’s grandfather. Conrad Brooks, as we all know, was Kelton the Cop in Ed Woods’ Plan 9 trilogy.

Nikki Fritz is in there, too, and had one scene that made me go “Holy Mother of God!” while previewing it for (harrumph) quality:

And it doesn’t end well for him, either

This is the sort of movie where a guy is forced to wear a Syngenor suit  (look it up, non-nerds) and we immediately started a betting pool as to how long it would be before one of the goons wound up wearing it. I think Erik won with ten minutes.

After the movie finished, Dave looked at me and said, “That was a really stupid movie.” Yes, it was, and it was glorious. If I had one complaint, it’s the schizophrenic nature of the flick: the stupid part (my favorite) and the commercial parts, where we have our softcore porn and the movie style suddenly switches into Cinemax slickness for a sex music video. Prior to the opening night sequence we mainly busied ourselves making fun of Kim’s best friend, who was so white she could have been one of the Indians from The Norseman. No fooling, she was so pale that she blew the white balance for any other characters photographed near her. We were really hoping for a Haunted Drive-In subplot, and every time she was in a scene, we could pretend it was The Grudge.

Thank you! Tip your waitress! Again!

The Christmas Spirit is upon me, and so long as the YouTube Gods are, also:

The next day I was going to  have to get up early and drive Max back to college, so I had to squelch the “One more?” urge. Well, wait, there was one thing on my flash drive, labeled “Thanksgiving Treat”, that I knew was only 40 minutes long. We could do that.

And that was how I got Crapfest to watch He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special.

I’ve already gone over that in length, so I’ll direct you there. You only need to know A) Dave does a very good Skeletor, and B) Dave was actively angry that Stinkor did not show up, make of that what you will.

That was actually a fairly typical Crapfest outing, looking back. There wasn’t a real breakout hit (except for my son demanding I turn over every single episode of Magnificent Zubat I possessed), but there wasn’t a soul crusher, either. A fine way to wrap up the year.

Especially since I made the write-up last almost to New Years! See you on the other side!