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From the Desk of the Unimonster...

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14 November, 2011

Uni's Tales Not for the Faint-of-Heart: The Yellow Room

the Yellow Room

              The sudden bolt of lightning stabbed toward the ground outside the window, as sheets of rain pummeled the glass.  Edward looked toward his hosts with a wan smile.  “I say, it’s come up a frightful storm.  I’ve an eight-mile ride ahead of me; I’d best be off.”

              Sir John Wycombe shook his head.  “Nonsense, my boy, you’ll stay the night.  This is no fit night to be out on the back of a horse.  I did my share of that in India.  You’ve not seen rain until you’ve experienced an Indian monsoon.”  He reached for the bell-pull next to the fireplace mantle, and gave it a sharp tug.

              As he spoke, Edward noticed a look of alarm cross the face of Lady Jane, Sir John’s wife and mistress of the house.  Not wanting to be an imposition, he hurriedly spoke up.  “That’s quite all right, Sir John.  I shouldn’t wish to put anyone out.  I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

              The old man noticed the look on his wife’s face, as the butler entered the room in answer to the summons.  “My dear, why don’t you and Charles prepare a guest room for Edward?  We can’t allow the only physician in the village to catch his death of pneumonia, now can we?”

              A frightened glance was exchanged between the butler and Lady Jane, and then she looked to her husband.  “John, I’m afraid that the guest rooms aren’t inhabitable at the moment.  Remember dear, that wing of the house is being renovated.  Edward would have to sleep in the… yellow room.”

              “Then the yellow room will be fine.  See to it please.”  To calm his obviously terrified wife, he placed a hand on her shoulder and gently caressed her cheek.  “Jane, it will be fine.  We will not send the lad out in this weather.  I’ll talk to him.”  As his wife led the butler out of the drawing room, Sir John lifted a bottle of Scotch, and poured three fingers worth into a tumbler, handed it to Edward, then repeated the process for himself.  Dr. Edward Leigh just stared, embarrassed, at the parquet floor.  “I must apologize, Sir John.  I fear I’ve intruded on something very private and personal.”

              “No, lad, it is I who must apologize.  My dear wife is a superstitious sort; a lovely woman, wonderful wife, but very easily spooked.  She, and most of the servants, believe the yellow room to be haunted.”

              “Surely you’re joking!  We’re nearly in the twentieth century.  Such superstitions can’t exist in the light of today’s scientific age.”

              “My son, we are products of an earlier age.  I can … understand, my wife’s apprehensions.”

              “Do you share them?”

              The gaunt old man shook his head.  “No, lad, I don’t.  But I don’t dismiss them, either.  Lady Jane isn’t a fool, Edward.  She is a wise old woman.  I may not share her beliefs, but I do respect them.”

              “I see.  Might I ask the story of the haunting?”

              “Of course, my boy, of course.  It’s quite simple, really.  My ancestors, in the time of the civil war, were Royalists, as well as Catholics.  A poor combination under the rule of Cromwell, I’m afraid.  One night, a group of Roundheads, while getting drunk in a pub, heard a rumor that they were hiding a relative of Charles II.  They stormed the manor, and, not finding the lord and lady present, demanded that the frightened servants take them to the ‘guest’.  So, that’s what they did.  Only the ‘guest’ was a fifteen year-old niece of the Lady of the house.  They fell upon her; they … abused, her; then, when they realized what they had done, they murdered her, along with two of the servants who came to her aid.  It all took place in the yellow bedroom.”

              Edward downed half his whiskey in one quick swallow, then gave out a nervous chuckle.  “But surely that’s just a story, a legend?”

              “On the contrary, the murders are well-documented fact.  Indeed, the Roundheads responsible were punished.  Not for rape and murder, however; but for being drunk on duty.”

              “And the ghost?”

              “That, Edward, is the legend.  The story goes that, ever since the murders, her spirit reenacts her death, at the hour of her death.  That is why we seldom use the room.”

              “You said ‘Seldom’?  Then it is used occasionally?”

              “Certainly.  Come, come, my boy, don’t let my wife’s fears bother you.  Those murders were 230 years ago.  You should view this as an opportunity to shine the ‘… light of today’s scientific age’, as you put it, on our superstitions.”

              Edward laughed.  “Quite so, Sir John, quite so.  Very well, if you’ll lead me to my ghostly bedchamber?”

              Sir John continued to reassure his guest as they climbed the stairs to the second floor.  “It’s really quite a comfortable room.  Every modern convenience, a well-stocked bookcase, you should be quite snug, I assure you.”

              “I am certain I shall sleep like the de--, like a baby, Sir John.  Tell me, have you ever slept in the room?”

              Just for a second, a shocked look crossed the old man’s face, then it was gone, as he chuckled nervously.  “No.  I suppose I’m more superstitious than I claimed to be.  Well, here we are.”

              Edward surveyed the surroundings, noting that, on the surface, it did indeed seem to be a very comfortable room.  The bed had been turned down, and Charles, the butler, was lighting the large fireplace.  Lady Jane was not in evidence, and Edward assumed that she had retired for the night.  He turned to his host.  “Eminently suitable, Sir John.  I thank you and your wife for your wonderful hospitality.”

              “Think nothing of it, lad.  It wouldn’t be Christian of me to do any less.  If you need anything, just ring.  The servants will hear.  Good night.”

              As he closed the door behind him, Edward sat down on the bed and pulled off his boots.  Not quite tired enough to sleep, (and not willing to admit that he was nervous as well) he grabbed a book at random, intending to sit in front of a roaring fire, reading peacefully until sleep claimed him.  He regretted his choice as soon as he saw the title:  HAMLET by William Shakespeare.  More ghosts.

              But Shakespeare had always been a favorite of his, and HAMLET was his favorite of the bard’s works.  Soon he found himself, as always, enthralled by the story of the Prince of Denmark, as the storm raged outside.

              The storm, as most do, passed quickly, and the sun rose bright and clear, if somewhat colder.  Sir John, conditioned by a lifetime spent in the Queen’s service, was up at dawn.  So, of course, was the rest of the household.  As Lady Jane supervised the breakfast preparation, she sent one of the maids to awaken Dr. Leigh.  Within moments, her screams reverberated throughout the large manor house.

              The village Constable, along with the local Veterinarian, (the only other person with medical training in the village of Wycombe-on-Thames) arrived by noon, though it was patently obvious that they could be of no assistance.  The vet conducted what examination he could, however.  “I’m no medical doctor, mind you Sir John, but I believe that this man died of coronary seizure, induced by fright.”

              The Constable looked up from his note pad.  “Come now, Mr. Harris, surely you don’t mean that.  We know Dr. Leigh.  He was a young, strong man.  What on earth could frighten such a man, a man of intellect, of reason?”

              “Jimmy Newbury, I may only be a cattle and horse surgeon, but you look at that man’s face and tell me different!”

              Sir John paid little attention to the argument; he now knew the truth of what killed his houseguest.  He knelt beside the body, and noticed the book on the floor, and a scrap of paper in the dead man’s hand.  He pried the cold, stiff hand open, and retrieved the paper.

              “Here now, what’s that?” said the constable reaching for the paper.

              “Nothing much.  A page from Shakespeare’s HAMLET.  Act I, scene 5.  “There are more things in Heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in our philosophy.”

              “Well, then that’s of little consequence.  I’ll send Mortimer’s for the body, Sir John.  I think it’s obviously a case of death by natural causes.  We’ll not trouble you any further.”

              As the old man closed the door on the horrific scene, his last view was of the yellow wallpaper, splashed with the brightly shining sun.



Year of Release—Film:  2011

Year of Release—DVD:  2011

DVD Label:  Horse Archer Productions

[Ed. Note:  If you happen to be a horror-host with a current program, and would like to see it reviewed here, please contact me at unimonster64@gmail.com.]

Readers who recall my delight with the last effort out of Horse Archer Productions [http://www.horsearcherproductions.com], the superb VIRGINIA CREEPERS: THE HORROR HOST TRADITION OF THE OLD DOMINION, will not be surprised that I’m equally pleased with the latest documentary from the team of Sean Kotz and Chris Valluzzo, the tribute to Petersburg, Virginia’s Bowman Body, Bill Bowman.  For more than forty years now, The Bowman Body has been a northern Virginia institution; an inspiration to horror-movie fans who eagerly tuned in throughout the 1970s and ‘80s to see a rumpled, pasty-face ghoul in a tuxedo and sneakers, band-aid prominently affixed to his bald head, rise up out of his coffin to entertain them with his unique style of homespun humor.

He would invariably greet his viewers with a cheerful “Hi there Horror Movie Fans,” a catchphrase that is the title of Kotz and Valluzzo’s new offering.  Being a devoted fan of Horror hosts in general, and having previously been exposed to the Bowman Body through the aforementioned VIRGINIA CREEPERS, I have been eagerly awaiting the debut of this feature dedicated to Bowman’s character since the first announcement of it, and I must say the wait was worth it.

The format is identical to the earlier documentary, including being hosted by Mr. Lobo, of the nationally-syndicated Cinema Insomnia program.  It features clips of the various shows which Bowman hosted during his career, as well as still photographs and audio clips.  By far the bulk of the documentary, however, is given over to anecdotal interviews with those who worked with Bill Bowman, those who were fans of Bill Bowman’s, those who were inspired by Bill Bowman, and with the Bowman Body himself.  The stories told are fascinating, funny, and informative, and give the viewer a good sense of what it was like to tune in to one of Bowman’s programs.  Some of the footage was previously used in VIRGINIA CREEPERS, but that’s not an issue in a documentary; there’s only so much surviving Bowman footage, and as far as the interviews are concerned, those, like testimony in a court of law, have a value and permanence that outweighs any arbitrary desire for ‘new’ or ‘fresh’ material.

That’s not to say that there’s nothing new here.  Indeed, most of the interviews are new, especially much of the filmmakers’ conversation with Bowman himself.  This provides the viewer with much-needed background on Bowman, and his journey from radio station disc jockey to a television icon who was, in 2005, honored for his “… distinguished career in television broadcasting and for his many contributions to the success of the Legislative Studio for Commonwealth Public Broadcasting …” by the Virginia State Legislature.  It is a fitting tribute to a deserving man—as is this documentary.  I heartily recommend it to all who can still recall the joys of curling up in front of the television set on Friday and Saturday nights, as a dedicated cadre of horror-hosts guided our initial explorations into the world of classic (and not-so-classic) Horror and Science-Fiction movies.

Bobbie's Essays: Whatever Happened to Horror-hag Movies?

According to Wikipedia, Psycho-biddie movies, or as I prefer to call them Hagsploitation, is defined as “a dangerous, insane or mentally unstable woman of advanced years ... Often (but not always), there are two older women pitted against one another in a life-or-death struggle, usually the result of bitter hatreds, jealousies, or rivalries that have percolated over the course of not years, but decades ... The psychotic character is often brought to life in an over-the-top, grotesque fashion, emphasizing the unglamorous process of aging and eventual death. Characters are often seen pining for lost youth and glory, trapped by their idealized memories of their childhood, or youth, and the traumas that haunt their past.”

It all began in 1962 when an aging and forgotten ex-child-actress, Jane (Bette Davis), goes all whack-a-doo on her reclusive and wheelchair-bound ex-ingénue actress sister, Blanche (Joan Crawford), screaming “Ya are, Blanche!  Ya are in that chair!”  With that declarative statement, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE slammed open the doors to the golden age of horror-Hagsploitation!  Youth-obsessed Tinseltown sat up and took notice as one drunken and slattern former Hollywood leading lady tried to force-feed another aging ex-screen star her own cooked parakeet while the invalid ex-star sister tries in vain to get someone’s—anyone’s—attention to her dire and ultimately deadly plight!  (Personally, I would have force-fed Blanche that damned buzzer she was always pushing!)  Made for a paltry $980,000, it took home $4,050,000 and was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning for Best Costume Design.  

Suddenly, all that was old was new again and Warner Bros./ Seven Arts, eager to continue milking that cash cow, quickly signed both actresses to another movie, HUSH, HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE (working title: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO COUSIN CHARLOTTE).  But, what the Studio didn’t count on was the contemptuous relationship between the two stars.

Joan Crawford, desperate not to play opposite the conniving Bette again, took to her sick-bed long enough to force director Robert Aldrich to sign another aging actress, Olivia de Havilland, as a replacement.  This time, instead of playing dueling sisters, the two acted as sparring cousins, one a slightly off-her-rocker Southern Belle (Bette) who was believed to have killed her married ex-lover with an axe years before and one sweet-seeming but scheming cousin (Olivia) sent to settle affairs at the old mansion.  In actuality, her purpose is to drive her cousin insane and steal her fortune.  HUSH, HUSH also pulled out of the mothballs two other aging stars of yesteryear, Joseph Cotton who plays the lawyer boyfriend of Olivia and Mary Astor who was the long-ago slain ex-lover’s then wife, now widow.  While HUSH, HUSH didn’t do the box office that BABY JANE did, it still pulled in $7 million.

Meanwhile, Joan Crawford hit the horror hag circuit hard and signed to act in schlock-meister William Castle’s STRAIT-JACKET (1964).  In this film, Joan plays Lucy Harbin, a trampy young wife who finds her husband in the sack with another woman and chops both of their heads off.  Twenty years later, a subdued Lucy is released from the mental hospital where she was sent after the double homicide and reunites with her now-grown daughter Carol (Diane Baker) and the murders begin again.  For this movie, Joan, now age 60, plays both the 29 year-old younger Lucy and the 49 year-old older Lucy and she does so with somewhat believability.  You can see the wardrobe/ make-up tests here:

While Joan was busy hacking up half the County, Bette starred in DEAD RINGER (1964) in a duel-role as twin-sisters, one who kills the other, then assumes the dead twin’s identity and husband (Paul Henreid).  But, what she doesn’t know is that her now-dead sister had a younger lover in the form of Peter Lawford.  (UGH!)  DEAD RINGER also features perpetually ancient Estelle Winwood (who played Sybil in Bert I. Gordon’s THE MAGIC SWORD) who was 80 when she made this movie!

Not to be out-done, Joan next starred in another Castle shocker I SAW WHAT YOU DID (And I Know Who You Are) in 1965.  Well, starred in is stretching the truth somewhat as Joan was only hired for four days work but Castle, recognizing the star power of her name, gave her first billing.  Here she acted for the final time opposite John Ireland, whom she’d first worked with in 1955’s QUEEN BEE.  This was also her last American acting job and she only appeared to two more foreign films before quitting the silver screen for good.  In I SAW WHAT YOU DID, Joan plays the part of the cheating husband’s demanding girlfriend whom he kills.  Just then, the phone rings and two young girl prank callers chant “We saw what you did!”  Terrified of being found out, John tracks down the young prank callers with more murders on his mind.
Bette next crossed the Big Pond to act in THE NANNY (1965) where she played the title role with a noticeably un-Mary Poppins-flair.  Harboring a deep dark secret, Nanny goes about her duties with a clinical detachment.  Here she gives a terrifying performance as the overly-protective mother-figure to long-suffering wife, Virgie, while a little boy, Joey, harbors the belief that it was Nanny who drowned his little sister in the bath!  Joan also took her show on the road to the UK and filmed BERSERK (1967) in which she’s a circus owner whose performing troops at set upon by a psychopathic killer.  Actor Ty Hardin, 25 years her junior, plays her tightrope-walking love interest.  Joan, always conscious of how she’d look on camera, ordered Desmond Dickinson, the director of photography, to only use medium-long shots and, should the camera come closer, to artfully film the dark bars of shadows that crossed her neck.  The film was short on plot so it was padded extensively with shots of various circus acts, including Diana Dors, England’s answer to Marilyn Monroe, being sawed in half during a magician’s trick gone awry.

While Bette went on to play the one-eyed domineering mother in Hammer’s THE ANNIVERSARY in 1968, Joan was reduced to starring in her last film, the laughably bad TROG (1970).  Here Joan plays an anthropologist opposite a man wearing a left-over monkey outfit from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.  While Bette spent the next two decades appearing in many fine horror movies such as SCREAM, PRETTY PEGGY (1973/ TV), BURNT OFFERINGS (1976) and THE DARK SECRET OF HARVEST HOME (1968/ TV), none were of the horror-hag variety.

Other aging and largely forgotten actresses followed in the footsteps of Joan and Bette.  Olivia de Havilland went on to play in LADY IN A CAGE (1964) as an invalid woman trapped in her own private elevator and terrorized by a gang of thuggish brutes lead by James Caan (in his first credited movie role).  This surprisingly nasty film also stars another aging former beauty, Ann Sothern (who would later meet up with Bette in THE WHALES OF AUGUST (1987).  Another star hitting the horror circuit was Tallulah Bankhead in DIE!  DIE!  MY DARLING (1965), opposite Stephanie Powers.  It is reported that when Tallulah saw herself in this movie, she apologized for “looking older than God’s wet-nurse” and never acted in another film.  Roman Polanski pulled silent-screen actress, Ruth Gordon, out of moth-balls, casting her as Rosemary’s pushy and nosey neighbor in 1968’s ROSEMARY’S BABY, a role that landed her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.  Geraldine Page put in her best effort in WHATEVER HAPPENED TO AUNT ALICE (1969) as the murdering wealthy employer of hapless companions, including Ruth Gordon.  In this movie, we get to see the greatest physical fight between two old biddies ever filmed!  Unfortunately, Gordon only shows up for her paycheck in the awful 1978 made-for-TV movie LOOK WHAT’S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY’S BABY with ex-child star Patty Duke playing the Rosemary Woodhouse role.

Next to dip her toe into the genre was former glamour-girl Shelley Winters in WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH HELEN?  and WHOEVER SLEW AUNTIE ROO?, both made in 1971.  In WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH HELEN, Winters plays opposite another fading screen star Debbie Reynolds, as a pair of older women who decide to movie to Hollywood to escape the shame of their two son’s murder spree.
Penned by Henry Farrell, the man who started the whole genre with WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE, HELEN is filled with pot-holes and wasted opportunities.  In WHOEVER SLEW AUNTIE ROO, Winters plays a wealthy if daffy woman who keeps the mummified corpse of her long-dead daughter in a secret room of her mansion, where she sings it lullabies at night and holds séances to communicate with the dead daughter’s soul.  On Christmas Eve, Winters throws the annual Christmas party for local orphans and spots a young girl who bears a striking resemblance to her dead daughter.  However, not even with her Oscar-nominated role as Mrs. Rosen in THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE in 1972 did Winters manage to grab Hollywood’s fickle eye again and Winters once again hit the horror hag trail, acting as the drunken and slovenly ex-star Bertha in the white trash flick, POOR PRETTY EDDIE (1975).

Sadly by the end of the 1970’s, horror hag movies had gone out of style and not even TV movie producers would take a flyer on them.  However, the genre had one last surprise up its ragged sleeve and that surprise was CARRIE (1976) starring Sissy Spacek as the shy girl with enormous powers and Piper Laurie as her demented and domineering mother, it shot it’s author Stephen King into instant pulp horror fiction stardom.  The title character, Carrie, is a high school student tormented by fellow female students.  Her mother, Margaret, is a religious nut case who believes her daughter will burn in Hell if she attends the school prom when one of Carrie’s tormenters has her boyfriend ask Carrie to the dance.  The mother’s right.  All Hell does break loose but not in the way the mother envisioned!  Audiences ate it up and it grossed almost $34 million for MGM Studios.

Some loyal readers might argue it didn’t end there and mention MOMMIE DEAREST (1981) and MISERY (1990) as examples.  However, I contend that MOMMIE DEAREST was a bio-pic and, therefore, doesn’t count.  And with MISERY, Kathy Bates was only 48 when she starred in that movie...too young to be any kind of a “hag”...and could never be thought of as a classic Tinseltown beauty.  No ... I believe the genre died a much-deserved death because the audiences that first saw the actresses perform saw them at an earlier time of beauty and grace, the gentler years of slim bodies well-dressed in Dior gowns, smiling for the cameras.  And now, like neck-cranners at the scene of an accident, the audiences wanted to see them at their worst, chewing up the scenery and looking every bit the hag the audiences paid good money to see.  But whatever the time-line and for whatever reason, horror hag movies as a genre ended.  We shall never see their likes again.  And more’s the pity.  So, here’s to Bette and Joan, Olivia and Tallulah, to Shelley and Debbie and Piper.  Thanks for the frights, ladies!


Bobbie's Movies to Look For: PAUL

Title:  PAUL

Year of Release—Film:  2011

Two British fanboys (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) travel to the San Diego Comic-Con.  There they meet like-minded geeks, Star Wars freaks, a sexually active Wookie, sci-fi author and personal idol Adam Shadowchild ... and one small, wise-cracking alien named Paul.

Graham (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost) are traveling buddies out to visit the most famous UFO sighting hot-spots, including Roswell Area 51 where, in 1947, an alien UFO crashed and was confiscated and it’s discovery covered up by the Government.  After visiting the near-by Little A’Le’Inn restaurant where they have an unpleasant encounter with two red-necks, the two leave to visit Area 51 when suddenly a speeding car comes screaming by and crashes.  Graham and Clive stop to offer help and meet Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), a alien who has successfully escaped the Area 51 encampment and needs a ride to the place where his fellow aliens have promised to pick him up for a return to his home planet.  UFO sites forgotten in the excitement of meeting an actual alien, the duo agrees to the new destination and off they go!

Along the way, they meet an eye-patch wearing ultra-religious young woman named Ruth (Kristen Wiig) and her controlling father Moses Buggs (John Carroll Lynch).  While spending the night at the Buggs RV camp sight, Ruth catches sight of Paul and faints.  When she wakes and she begins to spout religious dogma, Paul, quickly tires of it and transfers his vast knowledge of evolution to her mind and Ruth, finely freed of her father's twisted Biblical history, begins swearing ... like a little child whose just learning swear words!  And Paul, seeing her blind eye, heals her with a gentle touch.  Now on the lam from men in black who take orders from a steely-voiced but as yet unseen woman and from Ruth’s gun-toting zealot father, they race against time to reunite Paul with the mothership!

Penned by SHAUN OF THE DEAD’s Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, PAUL is a sci-fi geek’s wet-dream, chock-full of references to other classic science fiction films.  Paul, rather than being kept hostage by the Government agency, was given free run on the facility and was an incalculable aid to Steven Spielberg via phone conversations while ET: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL was in the planning stages.  And in the honky-tonk scene, the band is playing the “Cantina Band” tune from STAR WARS.  And how can one possibly dislike a movie in which Pegg and Frost reenact Captain Kirk’s epic fight with the Gorn from the Star Trek episode “Arena”!?!  In an effort to avoid being called a MAC AND ME rip-off (noted by Clive/ Nick Frost when he says “I have dreamt of meeting you ever since I saw Mac and Me,”) the team did their best to make their alien different.  And they succeeded!  Paul is a profanity-spewing little wise-cracker who smokes dope and talks about the size of his sexual equipment.  In a June 12, 2011 interview with Den of Geek blog Simon Pegg is quoted as saying:
“We could have toned down the language a little bit, and maybe we should have done.  We could have got a bigger box office take if we’d made it a PG.  But we didn’t want it to look like a children’s film.  We wanted people from the off to know that it wasn’t a kids’ film.  And so, we stuck to our guns, as ... we wanted an R.  And we got it.”

Still, cigarette-smoking, occasionally invisible Paul isn’t all bad.  He has highly sensitive empathic powers healing powers as seen in the eye healing scene with Ruth.  And he did bring a dead bird back to life (even if he did eat it immediately afterwards!).  And even in his rush to find his mothership, Paul takes the time to settle an old score with Tara Walton (Blythe Danner) who has been thought crazy by the townsfolk for the past 60 years for claiming a spaceship killed her dog.

The cast in PAUL showed they were clearly up to the task and their performances were all above par.  Kristie Wiig was both believable and unbelievably funny as the reformed girl Ruth.  Her swearing need some work though!  Jason Bateman as the secret agent tough-guy Zoil and Sigourney Weaver in a stellar cameo were a great bonus!  Pegg and Frost play their bro-mance a tad too realistically (IMO) but still come off as a natural pairing with enthusiasm and wild humor.  But, the star of this movie is Paul!  Profane and all-around crass, Paul has a sensitive side, too and is an agreeably laid-back kind of fellow.  Seth Rogen does a good job voicing Paul and the CGI is above average.

Is it a perfect buddy-flick?  No.  PAUL will delight sci-fi movie fanboys (and fangirls!) with it's inside jokes and will probably leave those not familiar with those movies feeling they are missing something.  But, the humor is top-notch, the pacing fast and the acting great!  A word of caution, though—should you rent or buy PAUL, watch the unrated version as the theatrical version cuts short some of the jokes.

Enjoy!  And I know you will!


Cambot's Voice by S. J. Martiene: EXPERIMENT 8: NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST

Cambot’s Voice by S. J. Martiene

EXPERIMENT 8:  Night of the Blood beast

Ah Sweet, Sweet November!!  Yes, NOVEMBER, when football is high gear, the house is a mess because of the Halloween-to-Christmas decorating transition, AND we get to celebrate one of my FAVORITE days:  THANKSGIVING!!!  And what is Thanksgiving without turkey?  No, not the Tryptophan-Inducing Fowl….MOVIE TURKEYS!!!  Years ago, when MST3K was airing on Comedy Central, the network would run a Turkey Day Marathon of some of the best Mystery Science Theater shows.  This marathon would last all day and caused dissention in our home, because I wanted to forego Macy’s parade and the football games to watch my favorite riffers.  It was the show’s final season on Comedy Central which brought a sad end to this tradition.  And it is this Turkey Day Marathon I wish to honor with EPISODE #701T, NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST.
Episode 701 has a unique history.  It not only began the 7th and final season on Comedy Central; it also was a feature a couple of weeks later during 1995’s Turkey Day celebration.  The host segments were changed to highlight the holiday.  This episode also features the short, ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON.  Don’t try to figure it out, it stinks!

Full cast and crew for
Night of the Blood Beast (1958) More at IMDbPro »

Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)



Cast (in credits order)
The Creature

 Mike and the Bots are talking about “THE GAME”, confusing any and all sports terms from EVERY sport imaginable.  They end it with a hearty “TAKE DOWN!  TAKE DOWN!  TWO POINTS!”—The ONLY wrestling cheer I ever remember.  Since TV’s Frank died the previous season, Dr. F. is surprised at having to host a cast of characters for a Thanksgiving feast.  These characters include the arrival of Pearl Forrester, Dr. F.’s mother, who will eventually take over the “Mad Scientist” role in Season 8 as the show moves to the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy).  As Dr. F. laments over the guests invited by TV’s Frank the previous April, Pearl recognizes Crow (she calls him “Art”).  Crow/Art recognizes her as well.  *You look 10 years younger since the scars were sandblasted off*  Dr. F. explains the movie concept and much to his chagrin…since TV’s Frank died, there is no one to send the movie down the Umbilicus.  FORTUNATELY, Pearl has one of her favorite movies in her bag….and a short that *sucks on toast* (Pearl).

The short, ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON (1956) is SO NOT to be confused with the 1942 movie of the same name that stars Cary Grant.  It is interesting that TWO of the actors in this short appeared in some pretty good movies in their day.   Alan Mowbray (Gordon) appeared in The Man Who Knew Too Much, The King and I, Terror By Night, and My Man Godfrey.  Russell Hicks (Angel Chief) appeared in The Little Foxes (one of my FAVORITE Bette Davis films), The Bank Dick, Follow the Fleet, and Scarlet Street. ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON is about a couple named Jeff and Mary.  Jeff is a songwriter and because of work obligations, he has had to postpone the couple’s honeymoon.  The newlyweds are about to head out the door when Gordon calls and says the “star” of the show LOVES the lyrics to *The Wishing Song*, but does not love the melody.  This stops the couple from leaving.  OH…I forgot the most important part, their Guardian Angel named Wilbur *insert favorite Mr. Ed line here* is sent down to help them out.  Mary begins *WISHING* for house repairs.  One part of this short, when she is on the red phone was featured on a Tennessee Lottery commercial a few years ago.  Mary wishes for a new kitchen *Wish in one hand, crap in another and see which one fills up first* (Mike) That riff is one I use often with my boys.  Mary also wishes for a new living room, a bedroom…Well, you get the point.  There is a dance segment, a glowing telephone, and lots of cigarette smoking.  Ultimately, they do get the song written with help from the Angel Dust that Wilbur sprinkles on the telephone.  *Honey, your cocaine is everywhere* (Crow).  *This would be a great companion film with ERASERHEAD* (Crow).  *Who the hell was that about anyway?* (Servo)

It is the STUFFING VS. POTATO Controversy.  Crow and Servo give their opinions based on more facts than most network newscasts.  Mike decides to have both.  The Bots agree.  Mike has a fit.

When you have a movie based on a story by Gene CORMAN, one can only conclude that Roger CORMAN is the Executive Producer.  *I’ve been Cormanized* (Mike) Like MANY genre movies of the day, it begins with an astronaut in trouble.  I cite THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN, and THE CRAWLING HAND as only TWO examples of this storyline.  The astronaut (John) crashes and burns.  A jeep, carrying Dave and Donna, is sent out to find the remains.*Someone is burning leaves and NASA is there* (Crow) *Did I crash land in the ocean?* (Servo) *No, this is Spooner, Wisconsin* (Mike).   Dave radios the others, Steve, Julie, and Alex.  John and Julie were to be married.  Alex asks, “How bad is it?”  *Ever see stroganoff?* (Crow) Donna notices some type of “carpet-like” mass.  The fears of this turning into THE CREEPING TERROR begin as the rug escapes.   Alex notices that John is still alive and they take him back to their lab. *Is your freezer empty?* (Servo).  Dave is examining the “carpet remnants”.  We also have a shot of the RESTRICTED AREA sign.  *Please, no terrorists.* (Mike) Dave tries to radio for help.  He can’t get through.  The others examine the body.  They notice marks on John’s body.  For some reason, a running gag of how everyone is named “Steve” begins.  Steve tries his luck at the radio.  Suddenly John has a blood pressure reading.  Dave tries to fix the radio issues.  THEN, the power goes out.  Dave is approached by The Creature.  The others rush to help. *The Steves are there!* (Mike) They come back in and check on John and spot some more of that carpet-like substance.  *That’s mine, my back has been flaking like crazy* (Crow) They decide to board up the broken windows.  *We’re all set in case the birds attack us* (Mike).  Julie finds something amiss in the blood cells.  Just the animation of the cells send Mike and the Bots into incessant giggles.

Pearl has another conversation with Crow (Art).  Pearl laments about her zygote (Dr. F.)  *Kill him, that’s what I’d do.” (Crow).  Guest Mr. B Natural (Bridget Nelson) and Jack Perkins (Mike) enter the picture.  Jack is really drunk.

They make arrangements to transport John’s body and try to figure out what is happening with his blood and the blood beast has even stopped their watches.  *EVERYTHING is going wrong in this movie* (Mike) Julie asks, “What would cause a thing like that?”  *God hates us* (Crow) The cast of characters discuss the strange mass that was on the ship.  Alex:  “We need an explanation and a good one for this” *ELVES* (Crow)   They decide to have round-the-clock watches and Alex takes the first one.  *Here comes the nutty part* (Crow) We see a creeping shadow of the blood beast.  Dave and Steve wake up and investigate *EWWWW, the patient has blown a gasket!* (Crow) Alex is dead.  John awakes.  *EWW I just blew all over the operating room!* (Mike) *Let’s shoot him back into space and see what happens* (Crow).  John is confused.  Julie sees another mark on John’s body.  *Did that thing pop?* (Servo) They conclude Alex has become part of John because of John’s sudden medical knowledge.   They recheck the John’s blood again and they are normal.  He goes under the fluoroscope and he is *Loaded with shrimp!* (Crow) Suddenly, The Creature appears.  *Barney has been in a fire!* (Crow) A battle ensues.  *You can’t stop me from seeing my children!* (Servo) John doesn’t want The Creature killed.  John passes out and is put back on a bed.  Steve tells Julie that John is dangerous.  She says, “Not to me.  He won’t hurt me” *unless the Packers lose* (Mike) They all are armed now.  *Here’s your Frankenberry Pistol* (Mike) Steve, Donna, and Dave hunt for The Creature.  *I don’t see the blood Beast but I see the beast of Yucca Flats* (Mike).  Suddenly watches start working.  The guys leave Donna and reach the capsule.  The Creature grabs Donna.  *Sigmund the Sea Monster!!  NO!!!* (Crow) They start shooting and it drops Donna.  Cut to the lab, John grabs Julie’s gun and starts a speech on how they’re lives may or may not be in the future.  He tries to assure Julie that The Creature is harmless.  He hands her the gun.  *Here’s your Count Chocula pistol* (Servo).  When the others return to the lab they discuss AGAIN about killing The Creature.  *Let’s review, what are we talking about?* (Servo) They come away with no plan because no one knows anything.
Mike and The Bots sit down to dinner after singing The Star-Spangled Banner.  They look for Crow to say the blessing, but he is down in Deep 13 enjoying that meal with Dr. F., Pearl, Kitten with a Whip (Kevin Murphy), Mr. B, James Lipton (passed out at this point) and Pitch.  They start with Pearl giving thanks to God of the things for which they are thankful.  Jack Perkins announces the engagement of himself and Mr. B Natural.  They chow down.

The crew is standing watch ... Steve and Dave discuss their concern over John.  They choose weapons:  A Molotov Cocktail.  *It’s a little early to start drinking* (Crow).  MORE TALKING about what they are going to do.  John inspects Alex’s dead body.  Dave and Steve join him.  ..and AGAIN the KILL/NOT KILL segment is rehashed.  *Once, Twice, Three Times and Blood Beast* (Mike) The next day, John leads them to where the beast is hiding.  *If the name says Corman, there will be walking* (Crow) *OH, blood beast scat, careful* (Mike) They finally get to the cave and argue about what is going to happen.  The Creature speaks with Alex’s voice. *I’m hiding in here because the dogs keep burying me and digging me up* (Mike)  *In our country it is customary to throw gasoline on the new couple* (Crow)  The Creature explains AGAIN how he is using Alex’s voice and defends his position on why he should not be killed.  Mike and The Bots giggle every time they show the beast. Let’s face it…THAT BEAST is just funny.   John somehow FINALLY realizes he has alien babies inside him.  He pleads to be killed.  The Creature grabs John…John stabs himself.  The Molotov Cocktails are thrown and the blood beast is killed.  *So what was the point again?* (Servo)

Mike is ready to serve pie.  The argument over Mincemeat Pie is discussed.  Mike is too distracted by what is happening on Deep 13.  Pearl served her Turkey Surprise which has killed all of the guests except Jack Perkins.  Pearl announces she is staying.  Jack delights in the Holiday’s importance.  *Should you kill him or should I* (Dr. F).

Yes, I am wistful for these Turkey Day celebrations.  Though, those days are long gone, we still have the advantage of seeing the movies on Netflix, Hulu, and fan-trading sites.