Pop Culture Ephemera
- Ben (1972) (Directed by Phil Karlson): “Hey! They’re biting me! They’re biting me! Mother! Mother! Mother! Mother!” – Henry. This sequel to Willard picks up right where the previous film left off but in the hands of Phil Karlson, takes a much less creepy feel. Willard had trained Ben to be his “attack rat” out of his frustration at the world from being a social outcast. Now Ben and his army of killer rats have befriended Danny, another social outcast who had heart surgery, plays piano, and has his own marionette show setup in the basement. The film doesn’t really explain the conversations between Danny and Ben. Does Danny understand Ben’s squeaks? Does Ben understand Danny’s instructions as he seems to? The flaws are somewhat covered with a few gruesome deaths. In the end, the conclusion in the sewers doesn’t live up to the potential of the spooky setting. Oh yeah, Michael Jackson song, blah, blah, blah. It’s much more entertaining when Danny sing/talks the lyrics as he “writes” the song.
- The Simpsons – “Habeas Tortoise” (S.34 E.1) (FOX) (2022): “The Internet thinks I’m smart.” – Homer. Thirty-four seasons and 729 episodes into the series, it’s hard to figure out what the producers could do to change anyone’s opinion on the show. I still find the show to be one of my most consistent laughs in a week. Is it groundbreaking? Nope. Is it cutting edge? Not at all. It still has the best look into pop culture told towards an all-ages crowd. Homer feels bad about his intelligence after a comment of his about Little Free Libraries is laughed at by the town. He turns to the internet to investigate the disappearance of a tortoise from the zoo. The internet group he forms to solve the mystery turns into a conspiracy group. The reflection on conspiracy groups is funny including Comic Book Guy’s “squids aren’t real” when they talk about what calamari is made of. There’s also a funny self-reflection moment about a “TV show that predicts the future.” The show might not push societal buttons anymore but it still gives me giggles after 34 years.
- Jet Screamer – “Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah” (1962) (from A Date With Jet Screamer): “Get in the capsule, baby / We are blasting off” – Jet Screamer. From Judy saying, “Zoom, Dad, zoom,” to that drum solo at the start, this song was way different than any usual episode of The Jetsons. This is a series that originally aired during the 1962/1963 television season and only has 24 episodes. This was the second episode ever. Howard Morris (best known then for his appearance as Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show) played the pop idol with the Ricky Nelson haircut. The song is allowed to play in full and the animation switches to this colorful abstract style unlike anything else that will show up in the series. It’s fascinating.
- Halloween Kills (2021) (Directed by David Gordon Green): “It is the essence of evil. The anchor that divides us. It is the terror that grows stronger when we try to hide.” – Laurie. This sequel picks up right at the end of Halloween (2018) and much like Halloween II (1981) much of it takes place in a hospital. The David Gordon Green reboot in 2018 was not my favorite version because it didn’t feel like it understood what made the series so alluring in the first place. It was essentially a long revenge film. This one follows the slasher genre tropes much closer but in a way that I thought we had abandoned at the turn of the century. The worst offender being Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), the boy that Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) was babysitting in the original. He’s every stupid headed, rushes into danger without thinking and gets others killed, including characters from decades of these films. Now he somehow gets crowds of strangers to follow him and just yells versions of “Evil dies tonight”. The film delivers quite a few gory kills compared to the previous film. But it relies heavily on people acting stupidly. Let’s lock ourselves in a car; let’s go investigate a strange knock on the door and the even better’ let’s split up and I’ll go somewhere spooky all by myself. It is filled with terrible decisions. The film leans upon some nods to the original films and adds in some new mythology and it all becomes a bit of a logical mess. Some very cleverly shot death scenes are wasted. Jamie Lee Curtis is barely in the film after such a great comeback in the last one. I’m not sure how the next film fixes any of this.
- Halloween Ends (2022) (Directed by David Gordon Green): “The other kind of evil lives inside of us. Like a sickness or an infection. It’s more dangerous because we may not know we’re infected.” – Laurie. I’ll start off with my best compliment for the film. The opening credits, which reference Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), gave me the biggest smile. The third film of the reboot trilogy takes place four years after the end of the last two films. For much of the film, I wondered if this wasn’t riffing off of Season of the Witch and setting itself up to be alternately titled, Halloween: The Tangent Story. We start off with new guy Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) as a babysitter who has a killing issue that plays out like an alternate world Halloween. We keep strolling back to Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) but the journey here is that of Corey who they attempt to make into a Norman Bates like character at times. He’s dating Allyson (Andi Matichak), Laurie’s granddaughter, and that helps draw Michael and Laurie back together again. But it just doesn’t feel there’s the urgency we should have when the ending of a conflict started back in 1978 is finally upon us. It’s like they are trying to play against type for a slasher film, end a franchise, and start a new version of that franchise at the same time. I appreciate some of the choices with the camerawork, music, and Jamie Lee’s narration. It’s clunky because nothing feels developed. The legacy of John Carpenter deserves more.
Best of the Rest
- Last year, one of my favorite ads was “Vax That Thang Up.” Here comes the sequel for the BLK dating app that encourages you to only date people who vote. Maybe lacking slightly on the parody elements of “Vax”, this is still a catchy tune and tickles me. Like they say, let’s “put the bi in partisan.”
- The “Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah” song seemed to languish in relative obscurity for years but it got a nice comeback with this cover by the Violent Femmes from 1995 that was on a cool album of Saturday morning song covers curated/hosted by Drew Barrymore.
- Coincidentally, it was merely two weeks after Jet Screamer aired on The Jetsons that Rock Roll came to perform “The Bedrock Twist” on The Flintstones. First performed on “The Ed Sullystone Show,” Roll would later succumb to laryngitis from eating a pickled dodo egg by mistake. Fred comes to save the day by lip synching this song at a fundraiser. It’s no Jet Screamer, but even they can’t keep singing “twitch” and throw in a “twist” just so we know what they are parodying.
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 6/3/2007, the baseball season was coming to a close and we had a regional tournament that morning. The NBA Finals were starting with LeBron vs. the Spurs. Bindi Irwin had a show coming out, there was Destination Truth debuting, and Saturday night was all about the Sci-Fi Channel.
- Ice Spiders (2007) (Directed by Tibor Takacs): “Take that, Army dudes! We don’t need you to kick spider butt.” – Johnny. Tibor is a known name in the world of Sci-Fi Channel movies with Mansquito and Mega Snake to his filmography among others. Like all good Sci-Fi Channel films, it all starts in a government laboratory. I enjoy the Creature Features over the Weather Wizards films and these are fun. Is it stupid? Of course it is, the victims are mostly skiing Olympic hopefuls in training, and the kills are worthy of their low budget heritage. The plot is hilariously bad also. But not completely in the way that would make this a classic. If you want the tops of the tops in bad oversized animal films from Sci-Fi, you have to jump straight into Big Ass Spider. In a pinch, these dudes will meet your spider needs.
Flash From The Past
What the Hell Did I Put In My Mouth?
Sun Chips Black Beans: Southwestern Queso
I don’t typically have Sun Chips as a snack by themselves. Sun Chips are a good add-on to a sandwich but they usually lack any satisfying flavor alone. These are different in that they have a decent salty flavor and the low heat version of Southwestern Queso made these very snackable. I know they aren’t “healthy” despite the Black Bean but they don’t give you any of the greasy taste of potato chips and you can trick yourself at the very least.
Kellogg’s Hocus Pocus 2 Cereal
The Hocus Pocus 2 cereal tie-in is curious. I don’t love the artwork on the cover and it’s repeated on the backside. I would have liked a photo cover in addition to the mediocre art. It’s Berry Brew flavor and has a good crunch even in milk. It’s hard for me to identify exactly which berry is involved in the berry brew. The days of the movie tie-in cereal has almost died out other than some franchise ones like Star Wars or Marvel movies. I won’t miss this one when it’s gone.
Twinkies: Spooky w/S’Cream Filling
Much like the Caramel Ding Dongs, the Spooky Twinkies have been out previously but until now I haven’t tried them. When you take a golden Twinkie, substitute it with chocolate cake and the usual cream filling, what you have is a Hostess Cupcake without the frosting. Are they good? They are but you would be pressed to identify them as a Twinkie except for the distinctive Twinkie shape. Satisfies my chocolate cravings.
“Yeah I read my baby loud and clear
(Eep epp ork ah ah)
She just said, ‘I love you dear’
(Eep epp ork ah ah)
Now when I reply the way I do
(Eep epp ork ah ah)
I just said. ‘I love you too'” – Jet Screamer