Friday, August 24, 2012

More Diller Memories - Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!

God I loved this movie as a kid - a silly sex comedy with Bob as a nervous husband, Elke Somer (before her feud with Zsa Zsa Gabor) covered in bubbles and my favorite atheist Republican Phyllis Diller playing (essentially) herself. What a riot. What's not to love?

More Diller Memories: Garbage Soup

Wow.

Diller Memories: THE FAT SPY

A special trip down memory lane with the late Ms. Diller from my 2nd post - way back in 2007!After recently reading Phyllis Diller's autobiography (brilliantly titled Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse), I have decided to seek out her rare appearances in film. In her book, Ms. Diller describes 1966's THE FAT SPY as "one of the worst things ever committed to celluloid, full of lousy jokes and terrible music." With a description like that, I just had to find it!

Well, I found it (via Netflix). I'm just not sure what to say about it. It's basically a beach party movie without Frankie and Annette and without much of a plot. But what it does have is love goddess Jayne Mansfield!!! Our favorite 50s sex bomb (that's right, Marilyn, you heard us). From THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT to THE WILD, WILD WORLD OF JAYNE MANSFIELD... from the TV-movie bio starring Loni Anderson to the awesome Siouxsie & the Banshees song "Kiss Them For Me" - Jayne has always been one of my special guilty pleasures. Phyllis describes Jayne as "overweight, hooked on pills and firmly on the skids." How could you NOT love that? Jayne was Anna Nicole before Anna Nicole was born!

Well, back to the movie. From what I can ascertain, the plot goes like this: there is some island, which is is supposed to be the fountain of youth. An annoying teenage band, The Wild Ones, and their girlfriends, descend on the island for a scavenger hunt — which pisses off the island's owner, who enlists his daughter named Junior(?) (played by Jayne), to evict the kids. Junior 's lover Irving (played by comedian Jack E. Leonard) is asked to "spy "on the rowdy teenagers hence the "Fat Spy" title. Ugh. Irving's twin brother Herman, (also Jack E. Leonard) and his lover, Camille Salamander (Phyllis Diller), also show up - looking for the fountain of youth. In between all this The Wild Ones manage to perform about 100 crappy songs. Oh yeah, and some guy drowns himself so he can live with mermaids!

Phyllis describes the filming of THE FAT SPY on location in Florida as being a nightmare. Between the heat, swarms of mosquitoes and production problems, she often skips over discussing this film and calls 1966's BOY DID I GET A WRONG NUMBER her REAL first film. (Much like how Carol Channing dismisses the LSD musical-comedy SKIDOO).

Any Phyllis fan should check THE FAT SPY out as a curiosity. A friend of ours recently played it at a party and said it became a great conversation piece - definitely a movie that makes you say "huh?". Directed by Joseph Cates. Rating: 7 outta 10 "huhs".

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Diller Memories...HAPPILY EVER AFTER

In the wake of the two recent SNOW WHITE feature films, here's a little gem from 2008 - reposted for your reading pleasure!From the creative geniuses at Filmation that brought us the HE-MAN/SHE-RA CHRISTMAS SPECIAL  comes HAPPILY EVER AFTER (made in 1988 - but released in 1993) an animated feature that thinks it's a sequel to Disney's 1937 classic. With voice talent like Carol Channing, Phyllis Diller, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Sally Kellerman and Tracey Ullmann - one expects to be in for a treat - or at least a camp classic. One should not have such great expectations.First off, the much-loved Dwarfs have been replaced here by a group of mismatched grotesque female trolls called (believe it or not) Dwarfelles (all idiotically named: Muddy, Sunburn, Blossom, Marina, Critterita, Moonbeam and Thunderella) and the fierce Evil Queen is replaced by her fey brother Lord Maliss (Malcolm McDowell, CALIGULA), who looks like every Scooby-Doo bad guy rolled into one. Jolly Dom DeLuise is the voice of the magic mirror, who recounts the entire plotline of SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS as this film opens. This is actually the best part.Meanwhile, cigar-smoking Scowl the Owl (voiced by Ed Asner) and a bunch of bats, rats and ogres are celebrating the death of the Evil Queen, when her shape-shifting brother arrives looking for his sister. The mirror tells him that the Queen is now dead and Snow White (Irene Cara of FAME fame) is to blame! He asks the mirror, "Who's the pretty boy she's with?" Hmmmm...Maliss (or Malice) then declares himself all fabulous and vows to "control the laws of nature and bend them to (his) will!"  Then he transforms himself into a big, blood-engorged red dragon and leaves.Scowl the Owl then begins rapping about being the "Baddest". And he's right. You have not lived until you've heard Ed Asner do hip hop. At this point I consider ejecting the dvd and using it as a coaster, but alas, it belongs to Netflix and not I. Meanwhile, because Evite doesn't exit yet, Snow White and her Prince are traveling on horseback to deliver invitations to the Dwarfs for their wedding. Maliss in his dragon form attacks them - first capturing Snow White, but the owl helps her escape. Maliss then tells the Prince that he "has something VERY special in store for him". I'll bet. ;)Snow White flees "into the woods", where the Dwarfs used to live, only they've gone "bye, bye" and their female cousins are now in charge. Each Dwarfelle (I can't believe I'm typing that word!) magically and inexplicably controls an aspect of nature - Muddy (Channing) makes earthquakes, Blossom (Gabor) grows flowers, butch lesbian Sunburn (Kellerman) controls sunlight and Thunderella (Ullman) manages the weather. They all report to Mother Nature (Diller). After we meet all the gals, Ullman warbles a horrible song that sounds like it was played on a Casio keyboard. Okay, I think I'm really done with this now, when someone I like is forced to sing a dreadful song - it's time to hit STOP.To be honest with you, the animation is so bloody awful, even worse than the usual Filmation crap , I could barely watch it. Every character seems like they were drawn in a different amateur-ish style and the unimaginative backgrounds and murky colors don't help at all. All-in-all a very feeble attempt at trying to fool audience into thinking that Snow White's story continues to unfold in this horrific way. So I FFWed. In the end, the troll women defeat the villain and Snow White and the Prince are reunited. Big surpise. They then invite all the Dwarfelles and Dwarfs to their royal wedding! And they all lived...well, you know what.If you have kids and want to punish them HAPPILY EVER AFTER is highly recommended. Otherwise, steer clear and watch any Disney original instead. FYI...Filmation also made A SNOW WHITE CHRISTMAS (though there seems to be no continuity between the two projects whatsoever).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Diller Memories...MAD MONSTER PARTY?

A classic post from October 2008 in memory of Ms. Diller.One of my alltime favorite Halloween treats when I was a kid was when local channel 9 WOR in New York would broadcast MAD MONSTER PARTY? (the question mark is part of the title-who knew?) on their 4:00 MOVIE.This wonderful Rankin/Bass "Animagic" feature was released theatrically in 1969-but really found its legs when it was syndicated to local stations in the 1970s. It's cast boasts a who's who of movie monsters - Count Dracula! The Wolf Man! The Mummy! The Invisible Man! Frankenstein's Monster! Dr. Jekyll! Mr. Hyde! The Creature (from the Black Lagoon)! The Hunchback of Notre Dame! It! (aka King Kong) and Phyllis Diller! The only one missing was John McCain.Boris Karloff voices Baron Von Frankenstein - who assembles these characters (The Worldwide Organization of Monsters) to announce his retirement - and introduce his nerdy nephew Felix and shapely new creation Francesca to the group. Even as a gay kid, I knew Francesca was HOT! I wonder if Francesca was the visual inspiration for MAD MEN's Joan Holloway? Hmmm...With character designs by the great Mad Magazine cartoonist Jack Davis, and some of the best stop-motion imagery ever, MAD MONSTER PARTY? is an absolute must-see for animation lovers. While the story may now be a bit slow-moving, and not as clever as I remember it from my childhood - I'd rather sit through this than the more recent "monster mash" called VAN HELSING any day of the year.MAD MONSTER PARTY also features some great musical numbers...and come on, you gotta love Phyllis Diller - here a pic of me and my husband John with Ms. Diller at her lovely Brentwood home in 2008. She's was 90+ and still a hoot!
For more info about Rankin/Bass visit Rick Goldschmidt's enchanting blog.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

Phyllis Diller (1917-2012)

My favorite Republican Atheist has taken her final bow. Goodnight, Ms. Diller.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Legends of the Super Heroes

Here's a re-post from October 2010.
Not a bootleg. Not an imaginary story. Not a hoax.
Yes. The notorious two-part NBC special from 1979 that has lived on in infamy as a bad childhood memory is now officially out on DVD thanks to The Warner Archive Collection. 
Part 1 is "The Challenge" in which several Justice Leaguers take on a cadre of super-villains. Part 2 is "The Roast" where the villains go all "Dean Martin" on the heroes' asses.
This videotaped canned-laughter oddity from Hanna-Barbera brought your Saturday-morning cartoon favorites to life in living color played by actual living, breathing actors!
Adam West, Burt Ward and Frank Gorshin of BATMAN fame recreated their roles from the 1960s ABC campfest. 
They are joined by TV stalwarts Jeff Altman (as the Weather Wizard), Charlie Callas (as Sinestro), Gabriel Dell (as Mordru), Ruth Buzzi (as Aunt Minerva) and Ed McMahon (as the host of the "roast" portion).
Lesser known actors brought the JLA heroes Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman and The Atom to life. Also featured (in the place of Superman and Wonder Woman) were Captain Marvel and newcomer The Huntress. 
The Black Canary was played by someone named Danuta - who never acted again. Imagine that.


On the villain side, Dr. Sivana, Solomon Grundy and Giganta (played by transexual performer A'leshia Brevard) rounded out the cast.
Other characters appearing included the ridiculous and offensive Ghetto Man, the cringe-inducing Retired Man (aka The Scarlet Cyclone) and Pat Carroll as Hawkman's mother! 
NIGHT COURT's Marsha Warfield has an uncredited cameo as "the phonebooth woman".
As for the storylines, special effects and writing - the less said the better. LEGENDS OF THE SUPER HEROES is best viewed as a product of its time - a time when just about anything could get onto primetime TV. These were the days of the STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL, THE PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL and PINK LADY & JEFF (starring the Weather Wizard himself!).
So if you are like me and can't get enough vintage bad TV and men in tights - check out LEGENDS - the legendary program so unwatchable that it HAS TO BE SEEN!