Sunday, June 21, 2020

My Heart Belongs to Daddy (Because He's an Organ-Collecting Psychopath)

By Bill S.

It's Father's Day, and, as we do every year, we celebrate by remembering the movie and TV dads who make us grateful for the ones we had. This year, we'll spotlight three memorably awful TV dads (if your own dad was worse, you have our sympathies.)

Billy (Denis Leary) on "Animal Kingdom"

It might not come as a surprise that none of the Cody brothers has the same biological dad. Apparently when Smurf was on the road, she hooked up with a different guy and added a new kid to her brood. (Instead of forming a pop band, like Shirley Partridge, she opted to make petty crime the family business. Probably because the wardrobe was cooler.) It's hard to decide which of Smurf's exes was the biggest waste of space, but I'd pick Billy, the father of youngest son Deran (the "nice" one). After abandoning him for years, Billy drops back into Deran's life, reeking of cheap liquor, skunk weed, and poor judgement (all of which were probably factors in the kid's conception). He nonetheless earns Deran's trust, and repays that trust by sticking around long enough to help the Codys pull off one job, then heading to Deran's bar to help out with some cleaning -- namely, the safe, which he empties, and takes off all over again.

August Cartwright (John Emmett Tracy)/Dr. Ethan Campbell (Sebastian Roche) on "Batwoman"

After witnessing a car plunge into a lake, he dives into the water to rescue 13 year old Beth Kane. He brings her to his home...and holds her prisoner, to be a playmate/pet for his facially deformed son Johnny, who's also basically a prisoner, isolated from the outside world. He turns those children into monsters. As a bonus, he also recovers the body of Beth's mother, and keeps the dead woman's severed head in a freezer, with plans to transplant her face onto his own mother. He later surgically alters his own face to assume the identity of a respected doctor.

This guy would scare the crap out of Norman Bates.

Dr. Martin Whitley (Michael Sheen) on "Prodigal Son"

A prominent surgeon, responsible for saving countless lives. Also, a serial killer responsible for at least 23 murders. When his son discovers one of the bodies, and with it, the truth about his father, he's emotionally scarred for life. 

Michael Sheen deserves an Emmy for turning "My boy!" into the creepiest phrase in the English language. In the Season one finale, we learn Whitley has also done severe damage to his seemingly normal daughter, leading him to proudly beam, "My girl!"

This guy would scare the crap out of August Cartwright.

I'll close with a message to all you Dads out there: Parenting is tough, and you may, at times, wonder if you've made the best choices for your kids. Take heart -- if you're not a murderous sociopath, chained to the wall of a prison cell, wondering when your kids will visit, then you're probably doing an okay job.

Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Episode 77: Picard's Ass

Scott and Jeff sit down -- on their asses, to preserve the theme -- and talk about the ass-end of Picard (the series, not the character. Although they do have a brief group therapy session about that Speedo scene). Also featuring Special Guest Villain, Time Dick!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Episode 76: May the Fifth Be With

It's All (okay, Mostly) Star Wars on this almost May 4th Adjacent day, as big nerd news sets fan brains a'bubbling and geek tongues a'waggin'.

[Note: We actually recorded this on the 4th, posted it on the 5th, but flacked it on the 6th, because I clearly don't know how the 12 Days of Christmas work...]

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Happy Easter

It was the most difficult and joyless Easter the kids had ever known, separated from friends and family by the quarantine. But they didn't complain, or lose faith, and the Easter Bunny was so touched by their pureness of spirit and the goodness in their hearts that he rewarded the children by revealing his true form to them. It wasn't as enchanting as they'd hoped, and things didn't improve much when he whisked them away to a shuttered AMC multiplex and made them watch his entire collection of vintage 35MM porn.

How Do You Handle a Hungry Man-Fish?

By Hank Parmer

The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959)

When The Creature from the Black Lagoon premiered in 1954, it spawned not just two sequels, but an entire sub-genre of amphibious man-monsters (along with the token She-Creature) coming up from the depths to terrorize unwary land-dwellers. And, typically, to lust after the wimmins, a theme that reached its nasty apotheosis with 1980's Humanoids from the Deep* -- but the less said about that one, the better.

The real heyday of this genre's popularity was the mid-Fifties to the mid-Sixties, an era which at its tail-end brought us such timeless classics as Del "I Eat Your Skin" Tenney's The Horror of Party Beach (1964) and the straightforwardly titled The Beach Girls and the Monster (1965).

As for The Monster of Piedras Blancas, it falls somewhere between those and the original Creature, both chronologically and in terms of production values. Producer Jack Kevan, director Irvin Berwick and cinematographer Phillip Lathan were contract workers at Universal-International, which was experiencing a major money crunch at the time. So the studio was willing to look the other way while its people did some freelancing, even going so far as allowing the producer to borrow equipment as well as bits and pieces of U-I's monster suits.

Because of this, the titular critter looks unusually convincing for a low-budget film and Lathan's cinematography -- while nothing to write home about -- was a cut above what what you typically encounter in this sort of outing. I just wish I could say the same about Berwick's screenplay and direction.

The Monster opens with an establishing shot of the scenic Point Conception lighthouse, followed by a quick dissolve to a close-up of a battered tin pan, chained to a stake driven into the rock. An inhuman, claw-tipped hand reaches up from behind the rocks, snatches the pan out of sight. But it's instantly tossed back.

Someone's impatient for their din-dins.

Cut to curmudgeonly loner, lighthouse keeper Sturges (John Harmon). He yells at a couple of teenagers who're hiking along the edge of the cliff to keep away from his light, then hops on his bicycle for a grocery run down to the sleepy coastal community of Piedras Blancas. (Spanish for "White Rocks".)

Down at the beach, Constable George Matson stares glumly at the off-screen corpses of two fishermen, the Rinaldi brothers. According to the guy standing next to the constable, the brothers' heads have been "ripped clean off". Matson remarks their skin is oddly pale, as if there's not a drop of blood left in their bodies.

When the lighthouse keeper pedals past, Joe Exposition mutters to the constable he's convinced old Sturges knows more than he's telling. Matson orders a couple of the men to take the brothers to Kochek's store, so their corpses can be kept on ice until the coroner arrives. (What with the Rinaldis' hemoglobin deficit, Kochek can probably just stack them right on top of the Swanson's.)

At Kochek's meat and grocery market, the proprietor is a garrulous soul, eager to impart the grisly details while he fills Sturges' order. He was the one who discovered the bodies, after all. Although Kochek claims the Rinaldis had their throats cut from ear to ear, not that they were decapitated.

I suppose, technically speaking, if your head's been removed your throat has to have been been cut at some point in the process, but still...