BODY BAGS: UN-FILLING
91 mins | Horror/Sci-Fi anthology | 1993
HBO had Tales from the Crypt, Showtime had nothing. But that all changed on August 8th 1993, Body Bags an anthology TV movie aired on Showtime…and that was it.
A star studded of a cast came together to make an extremely un-filling 91 minutes. Tales from the Crypt had the Crypt Keeper hosting its episodes, Body Bags had “The Coroner” played fantastically by the great John Carpenter. Yes I know I’m comparing apples and oranges, TV show with TV movie but clearly this is what Showtime had in mind. They had the power to do something unique but instead came up short.
The three best things are John Carpenter playing The Coroner, who is the most entertaining piece in this puzzle of a film. The second is the first story, “The Gas Station” which is a solid story that sets you up to be disappointed. The third is the cast, a balls to the wall of this guy and that comes up short. I liked this cast alot. It’s a shame they didn’t make more, it would of been fun to see where it goes with others making special appearances.
Is the glue that holds everything together. The Coroner is the Crypt Keeper here hosting the stories in a flat out entertaining performance by John Carpenter.
Stacy Keach as Richard Coberts
David Warner as Dr. Lock
Sheena Easton as Megan
Dan Blom as Dennis
Gregory Nicotero as Man with Beautiful Hair
Kim Alexis as Woman with Beautiful Hair
Deborah Harry as The Nurse
He see a commercial and decides to try it. “Dr. Lock” played by David Warner (Titanic, Tron, The Omen) is the doc that can help. He asks Stacy what kind of hair he’d like using a 90’s computer generated program, you know how that looks without me saying anymore. Keach picks the Stallion. Yep it is its name, long black hair (see picture). And the whole things was done over night, without surgery! Sounds to good to be true hun? Well it is… And when you find out why, it feels like a copout. When its revealed I could hear myself say, “Really?!” I didn’t care much for it but I did like it more then the “Eye”. “Hair” was so bad yet I honestly think I liked this story about a guys hair more then the guy and his eye.
Your wrong it is about…
A eye. Let that settle in a bit. We have a film that is made up of three stories. Two are about something on your body. Not much to pick from apparently. “The Gas Station” stands out for its pacing and the fact its different then the others. “Hair” and “Eye” are about two guys getting transplants. And its goes wrong, like it feels like they didn’t try. “The Gas Station” isn’t a perfect film, but the “Eye” and “Hair” come off like they ran out of ideas and gave it to their 8 year old son to write. When you have three films it should feel like three and not two.
“Eye” is about a baseball player with an annoying accent. His wife played by Twiggy losses her American accent a few times and that too becomes annoying. Mark Hamill here is somewhat a joy to watch. The thing is he has always been but here I feel he was wasted. When he gets into a bad car accident in which his right eye is destroyed. He ends up losing it but receives one from a donor. The donor ends up being a serial killer who killed woman and had sex with them. This eye begins to take over the good old southern wholesome baseball player who was making his way to the top.
And thats it. Still feel hungry for more don’t you? Yeah thats how I felt.
“The Gas Station” = Solid
“Hair” = Short
Should of been left out. Or give us more. I didn’t mind the story but there could of been more, the story came up short for me on creativity.
“Eye” = Weak
Like the “Hair” I think it should of been left out. What would of been cool if they connected it to “The Gas Station” and its serial killer. Maybe that was his eye, sure it sounds like Im doing a copout but at least it’s something.
Because what we got in the end was very un-filling.
For my second offering of Simply Anime, I wanted to tackle a different brand of animation. American cartoons, and in particular Cartoon Network’s prime time line up of animated shows. I can already hear the groans and complaints about how this particular review is supposed to be dedicated to anime and not cartoons, or some rubbish like that. Well folks, these reviews are about animation, so be prepared to sample my insight into a wide variety of shows that the medium offers. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s a little history or my crib notes version of how we got to where we are in regard to Cartoon Network’s current prime time lineup. It all started in 1993 with Donovan Cook’s 2 Stupid Dogs. This show would signify the rebirth of Hanna-Barbera. An animation studio of using homegrown creators who produced original animated shorts the likes of which hadn’t been seen since 1984’s the Snorks. Then, two years later in 1995, the first ever “What a Cartoon” debuted on television and changed the game. The brainchild of Fred Seibert, this revolutionary show and format gave birth to and was the launching pad for not only shows that many of us grew up watching, but for their creators as well. Such shows included The Powerpuff Girls (Craig McCracken), Dexter’s Laboratory(Genndy Tartakovsky), Johnny Bravo (Van Partible), Codename: KidsNext Door (Tom “Mr.” Warburton), Cow and Chicken (David Feiss), Courage the Cowardly Dog (John R. Dilworth), Whatever Happened to Robot Jones (Greg Miller), the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy(Maxwell Atoms), and a show called Larry and Steve (Seth MacFarlane) which would ironically become the format for a little show called Family Guy.
Even if the names of those creators are lost on you, their shows most certainly are not. The Looney Tunes style presentation (minutes-wise) would become the hallmark of nearly every animated show that would be aired on Cartoon Network. In addition, What a Cartoon, (which would become its own show), would birth clones of its own on rival network Nickelodeon and produce even more shows. All of this would lead to a long string of shows that some see as the “Golden Age” of Cartoon Network. This age would not only boast many of the aforementioned shows as stand alone half hour programs, but also bring about shows like Ed, Edd, n Eddy (Danny Antonucci), Time Squad (Dave Wasson), Sheep in the Big City (Mo Willems), Samurai Jack (again Genndy Tartakovsky), Megas XLR (Jody Schaeffer and George Kristic), Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends(again Craig McCracken), Camp Lazlo (Joe Murray), My Gym Partner’s A Monkey (Julie McNally-Cahill and Timothy Cahill), Class of 3000(Andre Benjamin and Thomas W. Lynch), Chowder (C.H. Greenblat), TheMarvelous Misadventures of Flapjack (Thurop Van Orman), and the juggernaut known as Ben 10 (Man of Action). There are many more wonderful shows that were a part of the the “Golden Age” and if you are interested knowing just what they are, you can see them in all listed here.
In 2009, Cartoon Network began to make changes in format and pushed toward live-action programming. That push fell flat. (Certainly did with me at least. Though, I was not their target audience.) A year earlier, they would acquire the rights to Johnny Test. A show many viewed as a much worse version of Dexter’s Laboratory. Although there are many similarities between Test and Dexter, they just weren’t the same. Cartoon Network would also make a move at this time that hurt me deeply. Always lauded for its balance of comedy and action cartoons, they would inexplicably change format again. This time moving from an action oriented evening lineup to a more comedy-centric approach that remains to this day. Gone were shows like Generator Rex, The Secret Saturdays, and Teen Titans. In its place, more Johnny Test. It wasn’t just that action cartoons were gone or were only on sporadically. It was the type of cartoons they were replaced with. Finally, a bright light was cast back on the action cartoon wasteland when CN announced the DC Nation block. It would host DC original shorts as well as shows like Green Lantern the Animated Series and Young Justice. With a super strong lead in show like Ben 10, it seemed like a slam dunk. Alas, it was not to be. Green Lantern the animated series was canceled after only one excellent season (Shout outs to Giancarlo Volpe) and Young Justice would also suffer the same fate after only two seasons. Their replacements would be Beware the Batman (now on indefinite hiatus) and Teen Titans Go! (a chibi version of the original Teen Titans show that features the same voice cast).
So now that you know the history, whether you wanted to or not, let’s get to the reason why you’re here. Cartoon Network’s current prime time lineup. Let me start by saying that I was not entirely fond of many of the shows at first. And as a recent Game of Thrones quiz has shown me, I can have some Ned Stark like qualities when it comes to change. That being said, once I’ve given something a shot objectively, I can say that it is either enjoyable or not. Many of the shows that CN is currently boasting in the prime time slots I can say I highly enjoy and recommend. Especially if you’re looking for something a bit different, or just looking to continue riding the high from Sunday night after watching the Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy and American Dad. To start off, let’s begin with Pendleton Ward’s Adventure Time.
Adventure Time follows the life and times of Finn the last human boy on the planet, his magical dog and brother Jake through their adventures in the Land of Ooo. The show is laced with continuity that won’t alienate new viewers (which is something that nearly all the shows do quite well also) along with comedy for both adults and children alike. Of all the shows currently airing, I would say that Adventure Time was the one that took the second longest to grow on me. Once I really gave it a shot, however, I came to really enjoy the show. Now let me say that all these shows are aired in the same Looney Tunes style format of 7 minute or so shorts. So character development is going to be a bit tough. Motivations are either revealed quickly over the course of many episodes, or in the case of the Ice King, in special episodes like “Simon and Marcy”. Adventure Time also pushed the envelope when it was implied that Princess Bubblegum and Marceline the vampire may have been involved in a relationship in the past. To my knowledge, the topic of homosexuality had never been covered on a show geared toward kids before. For the record I applaud the writing staff and all involved with the show if that was the case. If only because it is something that is very real in our society. Parents SHOULD be watching television with their children and be there to explain things in a prosocial manner. My mother certainly did. (And off my soapbox) Occasionally dark, but always fun, Adventure Time is excellent show.
A personal favorite for me, my friends and anyone born in the 80’s is J.G. Quintel’s modern masterpiece Regular Show. In it, you follow the dynamic slacker duo of Mordecai the blue jay and Rigby the squirrel as they live out there strangely entertaining lives. Mordecai and Rigby have terrific comedic chemistry together, but the unsung strength of the show is its amazing cast of supporting characters. From the ironically bad bodied Muscle Man, to Skips the yeti, to the large headed, yet sweetly insane Pops, to High Five Ghost (The name says it all) to their uptight gumball machine boss Benson. This show fires on all cylinders. There are doses of dark humor, death (You don’t come back unless magic is involved), friendship, adult humor slid in, and 80’s music every now and then. This show gets it right more often than not.
The Amazing World of Gumball, created by Ben Bocquelet, was a show that I had a hard time getting into. I wasn’t happy that Chowder (Which I was slow to get into) and Flapjack had come to an end, so I was very resistant to Gumball without ever seeing a full episode. I initially was not a fan of the animation style and judged it only on that. I. Was. So. Wrong! This show continues in the rich history of silly, madcap comedy. Gumball Watterson, the titular character, is a 12 year old, unapologetic, d-bag cat that finds himself constantly in trouble. He is joined by his adopted brother Darwin Watterson. Darwin is a goldfish that is often innocent and often times follows Gumball to their comedic ruin. Anais Watterson, is their 4 year old genius sister that is a rabbit that goes to the same middle school as Gumball and Darwin. Their parents are Nicole Watterson, a parentally responsible cat and Richard Watterson, the laziest rabbit in town. This show is clever in its delivery and a pleasure to watch.
Then there is The Annoying Orange created by Dane Boedigheimer. I simply can not get past the opening credits. It’s just, no. Simply no. I can’t do it. Maybe you can, but even I have limits. And this is one.
Peter Browngardt’s Uncle Grandpa is a show that I mentioned in my first podcast and I panned it. I had only seen a a few episodes and I honestly was barely paying any attention to it. The promos for the show where a special brand of annoying and I quickly lumped it into the same category of disdain that I hold for the previously mentioned Annoying Orange. Uncle Grandpa is everyone’s Uncle and Grandpa, and puts children in unnecessary adventures or hijinks. I’m not overly crazy about him, but I do enjoy his sidekicks Pizza Steve and Mr. Gus. Pizza Steve is a self absorbed living slice of pizza who is the life of the party. (Because why else wouldn’t pizza be the life of the party) Mr. Gus is a dinosaur (although he reminds me of the Creature from the Black Lagoon) that plays straight-man to all the calamity going on. There are other colorful characters in addition to the kids and adults that also fill out the show. Uncle Grandpa may not be for everyone but the characters play well off each other and I am giving it more of a chance then I originally did.
Rebecca Sugar’s Steven Universe is my absolute favorite show in the prime time lineup. This was the other show that I mentioned in my first podcast and I errantly did not give Sugar her credit for the show as much as I lauded it. Rebecca, you have made an excellent show and I look forward to Monday nights to watch it. Your protagonist is Steven Universe (Yes that’s his name), a young boy that has inherited his mother’s quartz gem and is learning how to control his powers. His teachers are Garnet (Voiced by British signer Estelle) who is the unofficial leader of the Crystal Gems (The group of which Steven is apart of) who seldom speaks but is the powerhouse of the group, Amethyst, the roguish member of the group that has a “devil may care” attitude and also moonlights as an underground wrestler, and Pearl, the member that is all policy and procedure. She wants Steven to succeed but is very concerned about his safety, almost to a smothering degree. Steven Universe is reminiscent of the Powerpuff Girls in its delivery, yet fresh in how it drops nuggets of the past events, in addition to dealing with emotions that characters are experiencing. It makes them so much more endearing. I gush about this show.
Lastly, a special that aired last week Monday night called The PowerpuffGirls: Dance Pantsed. Personally I felt like CN dropped the ball on this special because they had an opportunity to air this on the 15thanniversary of the PPGs. (I mean, this show was announced in January of 2013) Also this was the first episode of the Powerpuff Girls that was made without any input from show creator Craig McCracken. It seems wrong that he wasn’t a part of this show. That being said, it did feel like an episode of the PPGs thanks in part to long time Powerpuff director Dave Smith. The story was fun and it was a nice throwback to days gone bye.
All in all, as time goes on, all things grow old and eventually must change. For good or for bad, Cartoon Network has changed and continues to do so. Although it currently is not focused on action cartoons, we at least have Toonami back (thanks Williams Street and Adult Swim). The current crop of shows, that are still Cartoon Cartoons as far as I’m concerned, continues to revolutionize American animation and produce new creators and no matter what, that is a good thing; but you don’t have to take my word for it.
Hocus Pocus: Immortal
As a kid growing up in the 90’s things were pretty awesome in the world of film and TV. Disney had a gold mine of 90’s kids movies that became instant classics to us of the 90’s and we still hold that to ring true to this very day. If you go to a flea market, I can almost guarantee you will see a flood of Disney VHS for sell. They were cranking them out every single week, sure a few kinda suck but a good majority of them are classics children films that as a “adult” now I still find myself watching every now and then.
Hocus Pocus is one of them. And every year in October this is a film I pop in and watch. Why because its fantastic. It holds up well and still allows me to dive into a bit of excitement that a children’s Halloween film should. They don’t make films like this anymore. Halloween films are made mostly for teens and adults these days. The younger children don’t get the focus anymore. Sure when I was 7 I was watching Freddy frighten teens in their nightmares and Leatherface doing what he does best with a door and hammer, but that’s that. Some kids can’t do that. And honestly shouldn’t experience that stuff at such a young age. But hey I turned out somewhat… decent.
After 300 years, Three sister witches are resurrected in Salem Massachusetts on Halloween night, and it us up to two teenagers, a young girl, and an immortal cat to put an end to the witches reign of terror once and for all. (IMDB)
Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Park and Kathy Najimy star as the three sister witches, who steal the souls of children! Omri Katz, Thora Birch and Vinessa Shaw are the hero’s who go up against the witches. The three witches steal the show with their goofy antics and song, “I Put a spell on you” that will be stuck in your head. Thora Birch’s acting stands out good. She’s young and doesn’t turn in to one of those annoying forced line delivering children actors can sometimes bring. The cast works pretty well and only add to the wonder of a story Disney put out.
(1993, 110mins, Comedy)
Originally I was reviewing 1995’s Nixon. I always thought it was a underrated film, one that was well acted and directed. But as I was watching it, I said it just the same old, same old. I wanted something I thought was unique. I then remembered the 1993 film, Dave. Here’s a film that has no historic importance and is made up completely from the ground up.
The story is simple, the U.S. President has a stroke. He’s now in a coma and the news is kept quiet. Why? Because this President was “getting around” and if this got out, it could be potentially a large scandal for the country. A temp agency owner who looks exactly like the President is now a part of this. He is put in the President’s place to keep the scandal at a stand still with no one noticing any issues.
This idea in the end becomes a big back up plain that works perfect for the former and new President. The original President isn’t a likable guy, in fact even the first lady doesn’t like him. The new President is a likable guy. When he comes into the Presidency, he also in turn restores the Presidency. But the real pleasure of this film is the little pieces that not to many people notice. I tried to think of another film that centered around a President and it didn’t even tell you his party. I think this might be the only one. This creates a generic President and the film doesn’t get wrapped up into the two parties. This is something that doesn’t happen much in films about politics, which make things even more enjoyable.
Perfect in casting I would have to say.
And the rest is awesome…
All in all this is a fun film to watch. It’s even family friendly and one I think everyone would get a kick out of watching where all one guy wants only to do good for the country.
Schindler’s List – Remember
With the Jewish High Holy Days under way, I felt it only appropriate to include a movie that I not only find amazing, but in a way, a birth rite of sorts for the Jewish religion. Move over “Hebrew Hammer,” step aside “Fiddler on the Roof,” that film would be “Schindler’s List.”
Let me start with this; I’m in no way a religious person, you might even call be a very poor example of what a Jew should be. I eat cheeseburgers, I enjoy baby back ribs, and I do not actively attend temple on either Friday, Saturday, or any day for that matter. However, I respect a religion that doesn’t push it’s ideology all the way down your throat, maybe just the tip (as long as it’s circumcised).
Just in case you haven’t seen, or heard of “Schindler’s List” I’ll give you the rundown; Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson, or the bad-ass in “Taken 1 and 2”) is a factory owner, and Nazi Party member, who hobnobs with the Reich in the evening to keep up good relations in the lead up to Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution.” As the German war effort ramps up, and the Krakow ghetto is liquidated, Schindler begins to see his Jewish workers as more then just workers, but victims in a senseless crime committed by the party he is affiliated with, and he tries to save as many of his “workers” as he can with his “list.”
Along with Neeson, the cast is aces, with Ralph Fiennes starring as SS guard Amon Goeth and Ben Kingsley as Itzhak Stern, but it would be nothing without the direction of Steven Spielberg. Spielberg captures Poland in the late 1930’s and 40’s perfectly, and shooting the film in black and white adds to the stark backdrop of the era. The film only features two scenes with color as Schindler sees a young girl in a red coat being lead away from the ghetto, and later that same girl, in her red coat, seen by Schindler again as just another dead body. The color usage is supposed to be the point where Schindler starts to see the Jewish people as not only his workers, and/or property, but as human beings, and we begin to see his transformation from factory owner to savior.
Some people might see “Schindler’s List” as exploitative, or narrow-minded in its view of World War II, but it’s a film that shows people the horrors of the Holocaust (sure, it’s a movie made in America, by the man behind “Indiana Jones” and “Jaws”) and you have to merit a film that just about anyone can relate to. There are themes of redemption, perseverance, faith, sacrifice, and love, and seeing where Oskar Schindler started, a well-to-do Nazi Party member, to where he ends up, on his knees wondering why he couldn’t save more people, is as beautiful as it is tragic.
Fun Fact: “Schindler’s List” was based on “Schindler’s Ark” the 1982 novel by Thomas Keneally.