Tuesday, March 30, 2021

freakboy on film: SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED (1974)

 "And remember...the heartbeat you hear may not be your own." 

screenplay by Ed Adlum & Ed Kelleher /
directed by Michael Findlay 

One thing I miss about video stores is searching for a particular title but finding a completely different, but equally entertaining film instead.  The closest I've encountered this phenomenon in the streaming world is via Amazon Prime Video.  I was recently searching for various films directed by Andy Milligan when I stumbled across this crazy, possibly offensive, low-budget excursion into furry terror.

Those meddling kids.

Keith, Karen, Lynn & Tom are college students hand-picked by Dr. Ernst Prell to join his Yeti expedition.  While suck-up Keith dines on exotic cuisine at a specialty restaurant with Dr. Prell, the others attend a super-groovy, swingin' popcorn party.  The party really starts poppin' when Spencer, a former student, arrives with a tale of mutilation.  Seven years ago, he and three other students went on a similar field trip with Dr. Prell, but the Yeti killed his friends.  This story doesn't cause Tom, Karen and Lynn to shriek because Spencer, who became a teacher, is now just a maintenance worker at the college after a nervous breakdown.  Oh, and Spencer drinks...a lot...much to the frustration of his wife. 

What to do before watching this film. 

Bright and early the next morning, with no popcorn hangovers, Dr. 
Prell and his students drive to an island owned by a colleague of his.  Dr. Karl Werner has informed Dr. Prell that a Yeti with horrible body odor has been lurking about.  He has seen and smelled the beast, but failed to take photographs of the creature or its sizable footprints.  Maybe Dr. Werner was too busy playing records with his Native American housekeeper to bother grabbing a camera. 

  Move over, Hazel.  There's a new housekeeper in town!

Laughing Crow is a burly, hairy, intimidating housekeeper.  My half-blind eyes thought he looked maybe more Italian than Native American, but the character is portrayed by an actor named Ivan Agar.  So, Laughing Crow's actual heritage may be more of a mystery than the Yeti, especially when the character's backstory is totally blown out of the water by the end.  I'll leave it for others to decide whether or not to be outraged over the character of Laughing Crow in this utterly outrageous film.

(We now interrupt this post to bring you the Broadway musical stylings of Tom...) 

🎵The Snowman's on the prowl 
He's mean and he's ugly 
And some people say that he's downright nasty 
Yeah, he's mean and he's gruesome 
He'll make your threesome into a twosome 
Now's your chance to make a break 
Don't let a moment go to waste 
On the prowl 
Hear him howl 
Here comes the Yeti now!🎵

The Yeti boogies to Tom's song.

The whole film is nuts, but in a surprisingly good way.  The acting and the Yeti  are perfect for a low-budget 1970's flick.  In other words, nobody is going to win any awards, but the performances and costumes will haunt you long after the credits roll.  The most shocking and impressive aspect is how the plot mostly makes sense, which shouldn't happen with this type of film.  

Dr. Werner & Dr. Prell make Yeti-hunting fashion statements.

Will they find the Yeti?  Will the mutilated shriek?  Will Lynn and Tom get it on or does she only have four eyes for Dr. Werner?  Will it be revealed that Dr. Prell uses Prell shampoo?  There is so much more I could say, but I don't want to spoil the insane surprises waiting for you! 

What to do to get a friend to watch this film.

In conclusion, there is nothing I didn't enjoy about SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED.  I'm thankful Prime Video suggested it in lieu of what I had been searching for.  So, grab a bottle of booze (if you're of legal age), some better-looking popcorn and join this crazy hunt for the elusive Yeti! 

Seriously, this popcorn looks sketchy.

Now I have the urge to dig out a very different Yeti movie I have on DVD.  Hmmm...there may be more furry action to come! 😱

Another Yeti movie?   Pack the essentials!

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 

P.S. A different crazy film...

In case you missed my very short film....


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

channel freakboy: JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS (1970-1971)

For those who don't know, JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS started life in 1963 as a comic book in the Archie universe.  Then they were in two early 1970's Saturday morning animated series, one in  the Scooby-Doo universe and the other in outer space.  In the 21st Century, the all-girl band turned up in a vastly under-appreciated 2001 live-action film and appeared in RIVERDALE, The CW's moody, broody take on Archie and the gang. 

For this post, and my continuing Saturday Morning Mid-Life Crisis, I'd like to examine 4 aspects of the first animated series.  So, come along now, pour a bowl of your favorite breakfast cereal and put on long tails and ears for hats...

1. The characters...
Josie, on the guitar, is sweet and understanding.  Valerie, on tambourines, is so clever and mechanically inclined that I'm convinced she taught MacGyver everything he knows.  Melody, on the drums, may seem like a ditzy blonde but she is more aware than people think.  

Along for the crazy ride is Alan, the roadie (I assume), who may be sweet on Josie, but I think he's secretly crushin' on Alex.  Alexander Cabot III, the band's manager, tends to be a chicken, but manages to book gigs all over the world.  His sister Alexandra, a schemer with a punk rock white stripe in her hair, tags along because she can and because she has it bad for Alan.  Last, but not least, there is Alexandra's cat Sebastian, who ultimately gives his feline brethren a good name.  He saves the gang on occasion, even from the bottom of the ocean in the first episode.

2. Groovy tunes... 
Ive been wanting an official collection of Josie and the Pussycats for years.  I could've dropped $900 of my stimulus money on a used CD via Amazon or just buy the series on DVD for $10.  It was a no brainer because I'm a cheapskate.  The songs have always been the thing I remember most from watching reruns as a kid. 

I enjoyed all the songs, but a few really stood out.  The theme song is terrific and nicely sets up the series, but there is so much more to hear.  Inside, Outside, Upside Down is a catchy song about stalking your crush.  Lie Lie Lie is one of the most realistic songs about romance ever recorded.  Roadrunner is unfortunately not about a fellow cartoon character, but it is about a woman warning another of a male hussy.  My favorite is You've Come A Long Way Baby.  This song is about a woman not being impressed with the glitz and glam of an old beau's success.  She wants the boy she used to know, not the tricked out mack-daddy he's become.

3.  Mystery-solving teens..
When I was younger, I believed Josie and the Pussycats belonged with the Scooby gang in the genre of teen sleuths.  Now that I'm older and allegedly wiser, I'm not so certain.  Yes, there are similarities, but there are also notable differences. 

Josie and the gang aren't really solving mysteries.  They are often swept up in the world domination plans of James Bond-style villains.  Typically, these baddies are introduced in the opening scene, so there is rarely a big unmasking at the end.  Also different is the constant antagonistic behavior of Alexandra.  She has no comparison character in the Scooby gang.  Last, but once again not least, Sebastian isn't really a sidekick like Scooby or Captain Caveman because he's not front and center.  Maybe these differences stem from Josie and the Pussycats being a comic book first.  

4. Insensitivity issues... 
It was 50 years ago, so 21st Century viewers should expect to be offended by something.  There is cultural insensitivity, especially a scene where Alan goes through a series of stereotypical disguises.  There is also body insensitivity, with some overweight jokes.  I must add there is age insensitivity when a villain transforms Alexander, Melody and Alexandra into slow, sleepy, complaining senior citizens.

Oh, and some might find Melody offensive because she may contribute to the ditzy blond stereotype and Alexandra may encourage bullying.  Plus, there is little representation of the LGBTQ community, other than maybe Alan.  There may also be an outcry over The Pussycats' skimpy cat outfits.  Are they a product of male chauvinist sexism or female feminist empowerment?  I don't know, but I believe the most important question centers around one of The Pussycats.  

Does Valerie, a strong, intelligent, independent woman of color, counterbalance the potentially outrage-inducing aspects of JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS?  
I believe the answer is far more complex and runs much deeper than an early 1970's Saturday morning cartoon.

In conclusion, despite its flaws, i enjoyed this trip down Saturday Morning Lane.  Memorable characters and great songs keep JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS groovin'.  However, 21st Century parental discretion is advised. 

Freak Out, 

P.S.  4 reasons to see the 2001 film...

My Saturday Morning Mid-Life Crisis, so far...

Friday, March 5, 2021

channel freakboy: THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN (1980-1981)

"Lords of Light!" - Thundarr

I was often terrified by the idea of the end of the world as a child.  I would hear the volunteer fire department siren and was certain that nuclear war had begun, or at the very least a tornado was coming, which also terrified me.  On top of those destructive forces, I was also seriously worried that an asteroid or comet would crash into the Earth.  So, it's no wonder that the ominous opening credits of THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN fascinated and horrified me on Saturday mornings.  

The year, 1994. From out of space comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the moon, unleashing cosmic destruction. Man's civilization is cast in ruin. Two thousand years later, Earth is reborn. A strange new world rises from the old. A world of savagery, super-science, and sorcery. But one man bursts his bonds to fight for justice. With his companions, Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel, he pits his strength, his courage, and his fabulous Sunsword against the forces of evil.  He is Thundarr, the Barbarian! 

I'm sure I spilled my Quisp cereal and wet my Aquaman Underoos the first time I experienced the animated end of the world.  Seeing the runaway planet cracking the moon like an egg and apparently disrupting the Earth's atmosphere was my nightmare come true!  Then add the huge tidal wave, erupting volcanoes and jagged rocks suddenly jutting up through the ground and I was properly traumatized...but hooked.  I enjoyed watching Thundarr, Ariel and Ookla as they traveled on horseback through the remnants of our decimated civilization, freeing humanity from the clutches of evil.  

Thundarr waving his Sunsword around.

Now, with older and allegedly wiser eyes, I still enjoyed the trio's adventures.  Sure, Thundarr is not going to win any 21st  Century sensitivity awards, but he is a barbarian.  Yes, Ariel should use her sorcery powers more often to save people, but she's the most intelligent of the trio.  Of course, Ookla is like a Wookie on steroids, but he may be the fuzzy heart of the series. As for the plot, it's a mixture of CONAN THE BARBARIAN (obviously), STAR WARS (his fabulous Sunsword), and PLANET OF THE APES (the 1974 live-action TV series because they travel around helping others).  

Ariel, Thundarr and Ookla almost literally streak into action! 

I was disappointed there wasn't an actual first episode showing how Thundarr, Ariel and Ookla met.  However, there was plenty to entertain and intrigue along the way.  For example, the runaway planet appears to have caused a massive continental shift.  There is now an ocean near where South Dakota was located and our heroes travel to what was once England from what was once the US on horseback.  Maybe an animated remake needs to happen to fully explore the altered landscape and flesh out the characters a bit more.

The trio ponder what exactly is a Mok.

In conclusion, THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN may not be perfect, but I'm happy for this trip down Saturday morning lane.  Oh, and I still felt tense during the opening credits, but I did not spill my 21st Century bowl of Quisp cereal or wet my orange underwear. 

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 

P.S. Solve this Saturday morning mystery...

New Month! 
New Eye! 
New Interview!