Sunday, March 31, 2024

channel freakboy: POPULAR (1999-2001)

Poster for The Mismatched Couples Blogathon, hosted by Barry of Cinematic Catharsis & Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews, March 29th - 31st, 2024, Shows a scene from the odd couple.
This post is part of The Mismatched Couples. Blogathon, hosted by Barry of Cinematic Catharsis & Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews! 
Popular beginning credits shows Sam and Brooke looking at the camera.
created by Gina Matthew’s & Ryan Murphy 
With my apologies to Buffy and Dawson, out of all the WB series I watched back in the day, POPULAR was and still is my favorite!  This two season wonder was co-created by Ryan Murphy, the mind behind AMERICAN HORROR STORY and SCREAM QUEENS, and his twisted touch is present, especially in the first season.  The setting is Kennedy High School, where teen-angst is on display with a wildly satirical bite to its bullseye truth. 
The brunettes, Lily, Sam and Carmen
Team Brunette
It’s sophomore year for Sam McPherson, a brunette reporter for the school newspaper, and she is ready to make a fresh start.  She even encourages her widowed mom Jane to go on a singles cruise.  Meanwhile, Brooke McQueen, a blonde cheerleader captain, says farewell to her divorced dad Mike as he heads off on a business trip.  This lack of parental guidance provides the perfect opportunity to throw the first party of the year, thus securing and reinforcing the social hierarchy at Kennedy High.  
The blondes, Nicole, Brooke and Mary cherry
Team Blonde
Brooke is on top of this pecking order with her two main cohorts, cheerleader co-captain/manipulative witch Nicole Julian and ridiculously rich southern transfer/possible psycho Mary Cherry.  Also at Brooke’s disposal is her  jock boyfriend/aspiring musical thespian Josh Ford and his jock friend/aspiring white rapper Michael ‘Sugar Daddy’ Bernardino.  Sam rules the area between popular and unpopular with her hardcore activist friend Lily Esposito and her singing-dancing-wants to be a cheerleader friend Carmen Ferrara.  Also at Sam’s disposal is Harrison John, her supportive guy friend/golfer.  Meanwhile, butt bolo and forged doctor’s excuse seller Emory Dick unofficially heads the bottom of this Teen Beat cover model heap with chess aficionado Freddy Gong and the Tuna twins, inappropriately oversexed April and dirt eater May.  This unpopular quartet may be more entertaining than most of the main characters. 

Chaos erupts at Brooke’s party when Sam and her posse crash, but they aren’t the only uninvited guests.  Mike and Jane show up together with a bombshell.  These two available adults bumped into each other at an airport lounge, started talking and Mike decided to go on the cruise with Jane.  Now they are engaged!  If the parental units officially merge, Sam and Brooke will become sisters, a repugnant thought to both. 
Sam and Brooke, covered in food, glare at each other.
Teen war is hell
Brooke sees Sam as an intrusive wannabe who stirs up trouble with condemning editorials on the jock and cheerleader culture.  Sam sees Brooke as a stereotypical superficial teen who only cares about being popular.  How do these two smart young women handle impending sisterhood?  Well, not very well.  There’s an argument over the bathroom sink, a full-on school cafeteria food fight, a scheme to make it appear Mike is cheating on Jane and even a synchronized menstruation cycle smackdown in the girls luxurious lavatory named after actress Kim Novak.  After all of this, Brooke begins accepting the situation, but not Sam, who feels she is losing her mom to Brooke.  In a last ditch effort to stop the wedding, Sam runs away to find Brooke’s mother who left Mike when Brooke was just a kid.  This seems to help Sam understand Brooke a bit better. 

By the first season finale, Sam and Brooke have made peace with their merging families and maybe finally see that they are more similar than different.  Unfortunately, this détente may be short lived as they deal with an earthquake, a cheesy boy band, a terminally ill May Tuna, a double wedding, which includes Delta Burke and Erik Estrada as CHIPS star Erik Estrada, and the class possibly murdering their tough-as-nails biology teacher Bobbie Glass!  It’s a wildly hysterical episode that needs to be seen to be believed and ends with a life-altering wedding crasher! 
Brooke and Sam give each other a questioning look
Confused yet?
Season Two deals with most of the aftermath of that wild, wacky and wonderful fiasco, but overall isn’t quite as good as the first one.  The WB wanted more “real” teen drama and issues, which meant the satirical elements weren’t as fully blended in with the drama.  Brooke and Sam accept they are now family, of sorts, but continue having ups and downs with each other.  They even compete for the affection of Harrison John.  In my opinion, he plays them both, so they could do better.  The series ends with a cliffhanger over who Harrison chose and if Brooke survived being hit by a car driven by a drunk and vengeful Nicole Julian.  To keep with the blogathon theme, I should note the second season introduced Josh Ford and Lily Esposito as an extremely mismatched romantic couple, with overly serious results.  
Bobbie Glass looks serious
Satire is a serious business 
Since POPULAR mostly exists in a hyper-reality bubble and is a Ryan Murphy production, the acting ranges from sincere to over the top and women have the best roles.  Carly Pope (Sam) and Leslie Bibb (Brooke) give solid lead performances.  Sara Rue (Carmen) gives the series a relatable heart.  Tamara Mellow (Lily) is believable as a feisty activist.  Tammy Lynn Michaels (Nicole) and Diane Delano (Bobbie Glass) are incredible as they portray often brutally ruthless characters with vulnerability beneath the hard surface.  Props to Adria Dawn (April Tuna) for plunging full-throttle into awkward outcast geekdom!  Oh, and I must not forget the familiar faces who pop up as parents.  Peggy Lipton is aloof perfection as Brooke’s mother.  Alley Mills is sweet and understanding as Harrison’s mom.  Delta Burke is phenomenal as Cherry Cherry, the sharped-tongue beauty queen mother to Mary Cherry! 
Mary Cherry looks shocked and scared
Were  you scared I forgot Mary Cherry?
Speaking of Mary Cherry, i was obsessed with this southern fried psycho diva back in the day and I still am!  She carries around cyanide and vials of E. coli in her purse.  She longs to be a mismatched couple with Joe, her nickname for Harrison John.  She will do ANYTHING in her pursuit of fame, including lip-sync to “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco.  She will even dye her golden tresses the color of dung, and get possessed by Barbra Streisand, just to prove popularity isn’t about hair color and to feast on a lobster.  Ok, fine!  I’ll just say it!  Forget about Sam and Brooke!  Watch POPULAR for Leslie Grossman as Mary Cherry and the tragically too few appearances by Delta Burke as Cherry Cherry!  You will NOT be disappointed! 
Mary Cherry and Cherry Cherry visit a plastic surgeon
Webbed fingers won’t fix themselves 
In conclusion…
I think POPULAR still holds up 20-some years later.  It’s funny, it’s daring and ultimately there is a heart beating underneath, even during its crazier moments.  So if you’re looking for a different kind of teen comedy-drama with mismatched couples, POPULAR may be the series for you! 

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

(SIDE NOTE: click the pic ⤵️ to read about a very POPULAR book…)

A book based on Popular

Freak Out, 


P.S. click the pic ⤵️ for a different WB series from another blogathon… 🛸
Liz and Max from Roswell

P.P.S.  Obsessively maladjusted fans, like me, will notice how I mixed and matched POPULAR character and actor names to create Leslie Johns and Joe Grossman in STURGEONS! 🤓📗
The book Sturgeons, the complete serials, by John L. Harmon

Sunday, March 24, 2024


Poster for Riverside by john L. Harmon shows waves in a body of dark blue water.

    It was all fun and games until it wasn’t.  They had gathered around a campfire on the man-made beach to relive their college days, not that those were so long ago.  Two years had passed since they became productive members of society. 

    Lev sat nursing a bottle of beer as the general catching up conversation landed on him.  The six others were shocked he and Adam were still together.  “Adam was always such a loner.  Never came to parties or anything,” Stacie commented as she moved closer to the drenched Derek.  

    Derek had jumped in the river first thing, now he sat half-naked, glistening in the evening light.  “Why didn’t he come with you this time, Lev?” he inquired between handfuls of pork rinds. 

    “Adam doesn’t like the water,” Lev answered with a shrug, hoping his display of nonchalance would change the subject.  

    Maybe it was the atmosphere of the fire in the fading sunlight or maybe the group was realizing they didn’t have much in common without college, but Beth pushed up her glasses and suggested telling ghost stories.  Brad groaned as Beth mentioned the Peach Lady.  They all had heard the legend.  A ghostly woman wearing a peach dress would visit the graves of those she murdered in life and if you saw her, you’d be her next victim.  “Sorry, but that’s a buncha bullshit!  An apparition can’t manifest in such a physical sense,” Brad demonstratively voiced, nearly spilling his beer on Beth.  They had been a couple back in the day, nerds in love as Derek used to call them, but the look on Beth’s face said those days were over. 

    “Ricky Jones wasn’t bullshit,” Derek muttered just loud enough for everyone to hear. 

    “What?  Did the Peach Lady get him?” Brad asked in a fit of laughter which made Beth move closer to Marnie and Alice. 

    “No,” Marnie answered, firmly silencing the laughter.  “Ricky Jones disappeared during a paranormal investigation on campus.  We heard him scream, but we couldn’t find him.  Even the police turned up nothing.  He was just gone.”

    “I don’t remember him,” Alice spoke up, feeling ashamed.  Marnie took her hand and gave it a sympathetic squeeze. 

    “Most people forgot about him.”  Derek shook his head and glanced at Lev before finishing the bag of pork rinds.   

    Lev remembered Ricky Jones and the night he disappeared.  They had known each other threw off-campus meetings, but the main reason he remembered was Derek.  It had been late when he returned to their dorm room and shook Lev awake.  The typically handsome young man was a mess of fear and tears as he tried to explain the unexplainable disappearance of Ricky Jones.  Lev didn’t know what to think or say, so he pulled Derek into his bed, allowing his distraught friend to safely sob away the trauma until they both fell asleep entwined in a comforting embrace.  They never talked about that night, but Lev felt like this wasn’t the time to bring it up. 

    Stacie was about to say something, but she moved away in annoyance and disgust when Derek started coughing.  Alice moved closer, worried he was choking.  Her nurse training kicked in as Derek collapsed and began violently convulsing in the sand, but her aid seemed pointless as his body suddenly went limp.  The others stood up as Alice incredulously pronounced Derek dead, except he wasn’t quite. 

    Derek sat up and lunged at Alice.  She screamed and Marnie, usually so jumpy, raced to help, but stopped.  None of them could process the sight of Derek tearing off a chunk of flesh from Alice’s face with his teeth and then swallowing the pulpy mess.  Stacie ran screaming.  Brad vomited and passed out.  Beth tried to stop Derek as he continued feasting on Alice but his attack on her was just as bloody and brutal. 

    Within the horrifying seconds of eternity, Lev locked eyes with Marnie across the campfire.  He had once drunkenly told her Adam’s story, told her what Adam said to do if anything strange happened.  Stay calm.  Stay focused, and run.  Run to me Marnie’s curly hair blew back and Lev’s hazel eyes focused ahead as they ran through the night, as they ran for their lives. 

2024, John L. Harmon 

Click the pics ⤵️ to read stories which may share threads with RIVERSIDE…

Poster for night calling by John L. Harmon shows four yellow bars in a window

Poster for into the fold by John L. Harmon shows an eerie illumination coming from a condensed television monitor.

Poster for last moments by John L. Harmon shows a face in profile staring ahead.

Poster for scar tissue by John L. Harmon shows a hand reaching out

Poster for a grave situation by John L. Harmon shows a dead tree stretching over the night sky.

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

Freak Out, 

P.S.  Take a holiday in the small town tranquility of Sturgeonsjust don’t expect to survive… 
Poster for Sturgeons the complete serials by John L. Harmon shows the green and black book cover with text that reads population 4,017 and dropping.  Available from an Amazon near you.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

freakboy on film: EVIL DOLL BLUE (a WALT DAVIS triple feature!)

DVD of Evil come evil go, oh you beautiful doll and widow blue shows a woman holding a crucifix as a weapon.  Text reads, hell hath no fury.
I was perusing Mélusine’s Valentine’s Day sale when this 2-disc Vinegar Syndrome DVD peaked my interest.  I had never heard of writer/director/actor Walt Davis, but the description of his films  made me want to get to know him.  Plus, the collection was marked down to $5. 

story by Bob Chinn/written & directed by Walt Davis
Sister Sarah Jane, dressed in virginal white, gives a look of disdain in Evil come evil go.
Sister Sarah Jane will not be amused if you derive pleasure from my review!
Sister Sarah Jane is an intense traveling evangelist on a Holy crusade against pleasurable sex.  Along with Penny, her lesbian disciple, they lure oversexed men to their bed of death.  Cleo O'Hara as Sister Sarah Jane gives a maniacally unhinged performance and is the main reason to seek out this low-budget sex thrill-kill fiasco.  The folksy theme song, which appears to be performed by a hippie following Sister Sarah around, is another reason to experience EVIL COME EVIL GO

written & directed by Walt Davis
Gaye Ramon lounges in bed wearing a big poofy black wig while reading the newspaper in oh you beautiful doll.
Gaye Ramon hopes my review will put her name back in the papers!
Gaye Ramon is an aging Hollywood star who spends her days writing her boudoir memoirs while overly enjoying cherries and bananas.  When that’s not enough to fulfill her, she offers personal acting lessons to young men after they measure up to her standards.  Cleo O'Hara as Gaye Ramon channels Divine as she deals with her shutterbug assistant, eager students, intrusive women, and a sex burglar.  Bizarre and inappropriately hysterical, this feels like a John Waters film from another dimension.  The twisted use of the song “I Wanna Be Loved By You” is also a reason to experience OH! YOU BEAUTIFUL DOLL

WIDOW BLUE (1970) 
written & directed by Walt Davis 
Eva blue doesn’t care her husband’s blood is smeared on her face in Widow blue
Eva Blue just wants my review to be killer!
Eva Blue just wants to be happy, but what’s a 1970’s housewife to do?  Pay her brother to have a torrid tryst with her queer husband Jerry, of course.  Things go from torrid to tortuous as Eva and her lover Nick sneak into the bedroom so Nick can plunge a meat cleaver into Jerry’s neck.  After extended scenes of an incestuous nature on Jerry’s coffin and a swingin’ party with unexpected visitors, Eva and Nick must also cleaver his wife to be truly happy together.  Sadly, Cleo O'Hara isn’t in this one, but we get a full-on appearance from writer/director Walt Davis as Jerry Blue and a not-so-small cameo from legendary porn superstar John Holmes as one of the unexpected swingers.  This makes for eyebrow raising viewing amidst the copious crazy sex and visceral violence.  The climactic gory ending before the baffling dreamy second ending is another reason to experience WIDOW BLUE

After watching this triple feature, I feel I’ve gotten to know Walt Davis pretty well.  He was wickedly funny, deliriously perverse and unabashedly demented.  I also learned, thanks to his appearance in WIDOW BLUE, that Walt must have sunbathed with a speedo on.  Either I wasn’t looking in the right place or there’s not a lot of info available, but I couldn’t find much about him online.  According to IMDb, his film career was strictly a 1970’s affair with softcore and hardcore sexploitation flicks under his belt, so to speak.  In a DVD interview with producer Bob Chinn, he said Walt got along with the actresses in his films because Walt was just one of the girls.  That turn of phrase makes me believe Walt Davis is in good company with my other favorite renegade queer filmmakers: John Waters and Andy Milligan
Writer/Director Walt Davis looks either scared or in ecstasy in a scene from widow blue.
Is Walt Davis watching a Walt Davis film?
Producer Bob Chinn also dropped a fascinating behind the scenes nugget about EVIL COME EVIL GO.  John Holmes created the gore effects for Sister Sarah’s victims.  Sure, the blood is 1970’s neon red, but he did an effective low-budget job.  I assume Holmes also created the effects for WIDOW BLUE since the gore shares a similar style and he actually appeared in the film.  Guess his talents were more immeasurable than originally thought.

As an unexpected bonus in my Mélusine order, a love glove popped out when I opened my package.  I don’t know if this is something the company does for their Valentine’s Day sale or if they are trying to say I watch too many films with coffin sex.  Either way, I literally laughed out loud because a surprise condom seemed wildly appropriate with my purchase! 
A condom with the mermaid Mélusine logo printed on the go,den wrapper
Unlike Sister Sarah, Mélusine believes in pleasurable sex!
In conclusion…
I’m maladjusted enough to brazenly confess I enjoyed this triple feature and would totally purchase a more complete Walt Davis box set if Mélusine, Vinegar Syndrome or Severin are ever brave enough to release one.  However, it’s fair to say his films are not for everyone, just for freaks like me.  So, if you’re in the mood to explore the fringes of the fringes of ‘70’s cinema and you’re not offended by very fake gore or very real, though very unappealing s-e-x, then this may be the Walt Davis triple feature for you!  

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

Freak Out, 

P.S. click the pic ⤵️ for more about coffin sex…
The coffin from Necromania, a tale of weird love.
My queer little books are available from an Amazon near you… 📚 
3 books by john L. Harmon include dark excursions the complete set, vision bent half blind poems and sturgeons the complete  serials