Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Join the Fiend Club

You know who used to really be scary back in the pre-internet punk rock days? The Misfits.

You never really heard that much about them, and what you did hear was shrouded in mystery.

"I heard they killed a guy in California."

"I hear they only play on Halloween night."

"No, they play other nights, but they only play shows in graveyards or haunted houses or Indian burial grounds."

You'd see pictures of them in fanzines looking all creepy - that devillock thing and the all black on a bunch of huge weightlifting Frankenstein guys was a pretty distinctive look when most punk bands just wore T-shirts from other bands.

Plus, while their contemporaries were shouting about Reagan and cops, the Misfits were signing about the stuff that mattered - songs referencing Night of the Living Dead, Teenagers from Outer Space, and other awesome movies. Hell, they named their record label after Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Vampira and the Misfits. Only thing that would make this cooler would be Neil Armstrong, Dolemite, and Elvis in the background.

It's pretty amazing actually, that these guys came up with a overall theme, a look, and some kick-ass songs, creating a genre all to themselves. The post-Danzig stuff might have tarnished their legacy a bit, but damn, if I don't have to break out "Walk Among Us" and the coffin box set every October.

These were some of the things I was thinking a few weeks ago while I was driving around listening to "Walk Among Us" for the thousandth time. I had the windows down, since October in Florida means that the temperature is only in the low 80s. I could feel my throat getting a bit hoarse because you can't let "Skulls" or "Astrozombies" or "Vampira" go by unassisted, you know?

I didn't have it too loud, but it was audible outside the car. At least that's what I figured when I noticed the nice lady next to me giving me a strange look. Thinking back on it, while we were waiting for the light to change, the absolute most ridiculous part of the most ridiculous song came up.

Originally, the last song on the first side of the album was a live version of a song called "Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight." It sort of chugs along there in the beginning then stops while Glenn Danzig shouts out, "Mommy...can I got out and KILL TONIGHT," then kicks in faster.

So here I am, a pillar of the community, happy that I had found a good deal on both cat food and laundry detergent at Target. But all the lady next to me hears is a guy screaming something about mommies and killing then even more screaming.

I lead a very normal life. I go about my job, try to go running, go to the movies or whatever like normal people do and don't try to draw attention to myself. But every once in a while I get a reminder that no matter how adult I am, certain things like the trashy movies, punk rock, and Halloween will wipe all my maturity away in seconds.

That being said, I still feel sorry for the nice lady.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Help Me, Loyal Readers. You're My Only Hope.

You know when you get a song stuck in your head? How it keeps playing over and over again, ricocheting through your grey matter like a pinball? Well, the past week or so, I've had a story rattling around in my head. Normal people get that, right?

This happens fairly often. I'll be riding into work or mowing the yard or running and a phrase or story will appear out of nowhere. It is then my job to write it up until I get bored, embellish it with some jokes I probably stole from old Simpsons episodes, get sleepy or distracted and not write an ending, hit 'publish,' and cringe over the typos the next day.

This story, however, is haunting me because it doesn't have an ending. Even more so than all my other stories.

Somehow I vaguely remember a story from high school (I think) about someone, either a cool, older student or a celebrity who replaced the windshield washer fluid in his car with Jack Daniels.

This has been bugging me.

I narrowed the celebrities down to Burt Reynolds or David Lee Roth, but that's probably because those are about the only two celebrities I think about.

As the people I have decided to share this tale with have pointed out, I have no idea why you would want to do such a thing. Why would you want whiskey all over your windshield, instead of in a handy carrying case, like say, a bottle or glass? Wouldn't your car smell like alcohol all the time, resulting in more hassles from The Man? You couldn't even use the fluid to refresh your drink unless you got out of your car and were standing on the sidewalk or garage or something.

So obviously, I'm fairly sure this story is fake, but it still haunts me like a ghost. An alcoholic ghost doing that David Lee Roth "Heeeeey-yaaaah" scream. Or possibly that Burt Reynolds' laugh.

I thought it might have been in one of the crappy movies I've seen, possibly something with the word Moonshine in the title, but I don't think so. An exhaustive* internet search has pulled up nothing. So was this a high school urban legend? Did I dream it? If anyone has ever heard this story before, I'm begging all both of you to let me know.

*Exhaustive search = One Google search that took 0.55 seconds yielding no answers.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lizzie Borden Took An Axe

I was rarely scared of movies as a kid, mostly because there was so much real life stuff for me to be afraid of: teenagers, little dogs (there was a one-legged chihuahua that lived my grandparents that absolutely terrified me), the future, grades, nuclear war, getting in trouble, sudden death, the explosion of the sun, you know, plausible real-life situations.

So yeah, ghosts, devils, Frankensteins, vampires, whatever you had, for the most part I could handle it. But put a psuedo-scientific sheen on it, and it became terrifyingly real. Like In Search Of, a popular TV show in the '70s/early '80s in which Leonard Nimoy, Spock himself, would present stories about the Bermuda Triangle or poltergeists or voodoo curses with just enough "This might maybe possibly could happen" to keep me tossing fitfully in my Star Wars sheets later that night.

However, every once in a while a movie would legitimately scare the crap out of me. Three of them I still remember. SSSSSSS, about a guy turning into a snake was one. We've discussed Dark Night of the Scarecrow. Now it's time for The Legend of Lizzie Borden, a movie that scared me when I was way too old to be scared of movies.

According to a quick internet search, The Legend of Lizzie Borden was a made for TV movie back in 1975 starring Bewtiched's Elizabeth Montgomery that actually won a couple of Emmys, probably for outstanding achievements in the field of creepiness. I caught it years later in the '80s.

At the time I had figured out how to get in pay channels on my parent's TV. It wasn't perfect, and it was jumpy and in black and white, but it worked, so would stay up late on weekends after searching the TV guide for nudity, violence, and the wild card, "adult situations."

The Legend of Lizzie Borden hit all three, and it was on regular TV so I wouldn't have to assume my usual position of kneeling in front of the television, ready to switch back to non-cable at the slightest sound from the house.

The movie covers the trial of the infamous murder case, while Lizzie has flashbacks or daydreams to the earlier events. I don't remember exactly how old I was but by this point I had seen all sorts of murders and killings in movies and had rarely been bothered or upset. Probably because it all seemed so far removed. I mean, what were the chances I was going ever going to be having sex in a deserted summer camp? Or have sex while I was supposed to be babysitting? Yes, it seemed almost impossible that I would ever have sex at all.

But Lizzie's flashbacks - holy crap. According to the movie Lizzie's dad kept an embalming room down in the basement, where at one point it looks like he's feeling up one of the corpses. There's also a strong current of incest down there, which, just to be even creepier, results in Lizzie accidentally pulling out one of the corpse tubes, resulting in blood splattering all over the place.*

Then there are the murders. According to the movie Lizzie took her clothes off before killing to avoid bloodstains. So my brain would go from "Wow! Lady from Bewitched is naked!** Holy crap, this is awesome!" to "Oh shit! She totally just chopped up her stepmother while smiling!" resulting in all sorts of disturbing feelings that the right medications and an army of psychiatric professionals have only recently gotten to the bottom of.

But what might have creeped me out even more is the overall tone, where Lizzie remains emotionless throughout her trial, even though her parents have been all hacked up. Naturally, the viewing audience knew she did it, and to see a completely remorseless killer who wasn't a Jason or a Terminator or something really freaked me out. It ends with her back at her hacked up parents' house after being declared innocent, and her sister asks her if she really did it. Lizzie doesn't say anything  (BECAUSE SHE TOTALLY DID IT! WE JUST SAW HER GET NAKED AND AXE THEM ALL UP LIKE A DWARVES ALBUM COVER!), and then the creepy slow ragtime piano starts up.

That creepy slow ragtime piano riff would be stuck in my head for years, by the way, as a sort of sign when something creepy happened.

I recently found a copy of The Legend of Lizzie Borden and yeah, it still holds up. Like Dark Night of the Scarecrow, I was initially amazed that this sort of thing could be shown on regular old TV where anyone could stumble upon it, and was thinking there was no way something like that could air today, but then I remembered all the hours of CSI shows all full of semen stains and decapitations and stuff.

The movie is still creepy, still unsettling, and like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Halloween, effective enough that you'll think you remember much more blood and gore than is actually in the movie.

Of course, after I bought a bootleg copy of it, I found that it's freely available on Youtube, so don't take my word for it - sit at your computer and creep yourself out. Just don't blame me if that slow ragtime piano riff keeps rattling around in your head.

* This scene would affect me almost as much as the scene in Return of the Living Dead when the old lady corpse is talking about how it hurts to be dead.

** True, it was TV nudity, but when you're 13 or 14 years old, that's more than enough. Hell, the bra mannequins in Sears were like walking though the red light district in Amsterdam.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What I Did Last Weekend

I don't know who you people are (although if the search terms are accurate, you really love pictures of Aunt Esther from Sandford and Son), but I'm pretty sure that once again I had a better weekend than you.

My friend Todd's 40th birthday was last weekend, so it was back up to Atlanta for hijinx. And not just any hijinx. Limo hijinx. That's right, we were going out in a stretch Escalade, just like the rappers on the MTV show.

He planned it all out, where about 20 of us would take the limo from his house, go to Trader Vic's for Polynesian treats, then to a fancy beer place, finally ending up at Atlanta's famous Clermont Lounge.

I don't think I've ever actually been in a limo before. I never had one for prom, because I drove a '77 Lincoln Continental in high school, which was pretty much the same thing, only I didn't have Jeeves driving me around. It was pretty awesome, even if the driver got lost and our fully stocked bar was unstocked except for some water bottles, which was probably for the best.

But even though it didn't have booze, it had all these cool Tron lights all over the place. Check it out.

Doesn't it look like some sort of sci-fi judgement chamber? "I find you ...guilty."

It also had a stereo system playing My Bloody Valentine, Wire,  Naked Raygun, Jesus Lizard, Radon, Guided By Voices, Misfits, and uh...that Billy Joel "Heart attack ack ack ack ack ack" song on it really loud.

And you know, if you're cruising around Atlanta with your good friends listening to that stuff, you don't really need booze at the moment. Although we'd soon take care of that at Trader Vic's.

Trader Vic's is this awesome tiki bar, which means that most of the drinks are basically a whole bunch of rum with some pineapple juice thrown in there for Island Flavor. They also come in cool looking containers. Check it - this is called the Rum Giggle, and it's served in a conch shell. Look how impressed your narrator was with it.
Extra! Extra! Drink comes in shell!

Oh yeah - the hat. I stole it early in the evening from my friend Dave since he wasn't wearing it and I thought the night needed an olde tyme newspaper seller to add some period flavor. Here's a better shot. As you can see, the resulting ensemble was so awesome my girlfriend Sherri took off her glasses to ...better see it or something.
I would like to add that I was not as drunk as this picture suggests. I only ripped my shirt off once the whole night.

After that I stole a little pumpkin at the fancy beer place. The host would hit me in the balls with that little pumpkin later that night. I was told it was an ancient Sicilian tradition, so who am I to argue with the birthday boy. I also managed to take some decorative dried corn, but someone made me give it back as we were leaving. People are always trying to ruin your fun.

We didn't make it to the Clermont, which is probably just as well. Who knows what I would have decided to steal there.

Later that night Jerry Lewis cleaned up after us. No, really, check it out:
He was just happy we were having fun.

So how was my first (I think) ride in a limo? I'll let the sci-fi judgement chamber pronounce sentence on that one.

"We judge your Earth limousines to be...awesome."

The next day I carved a pumpkin for some early Halloween atmosphere while Sherri took photos, because that stuff has to be recorded for future generations. I noticed in one photo that I looked like my dad when he got mad at me for not doing chores. That was some Halloween scary.

This is for your kid hitting me in the balls last night.
So yeah, I carved a pumpkin, hung with some old friends and the new girlfriend, rode around in a limo listening to the Misfits, drank out of a shell, a pretty awesome weekend all around. You really should have been there.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I'm Your Garbageman

I had a serious craving for some trashy movies before October came and shifted things to horror. And yes, I realize that I'm usually in the mood for trashy movies, but sometimes only a particular sub-genre of crap will get the job done.

The last week of September was time for a mountain of garbage from the '80s.

Like Tougher Than Leather, in which Run DMC use WW2 vintage German Lugers and grenades to fight gangsters (this was almost disqualified since it is sort of a real movie, with like, plot and stuff, even if a large portion of the movie embraces the  "Hey, do something. I don't know...talk or walk around or something, I'm filming. There, that's great. CUT" school of filmmaking.).

Or Intrepidos Punks - which featured movie punks running around doing crimes and being bad and stuff. It was in Spanish, but like those cheap Mexican DVDs of Santo fighting monsters, you sort of figure out what's going on. Awesomeness transcends racial and language barriers. This one was also almost disqualified since it technically wasn't from the '80s, but come on. Movie punk rockers!

And one magical night I made a double feature of Joysticks and Surf 2.

The first 10 minutes of Surf 2 featured topless ladies, the sheriff from Blazing Saddles, an Oingo Boingo song, movie punk rockers, a cop named Chief Boyardee and a big fat guy eating a chain link fence.

Again, this is just the first 10 minutes. Eddie Deezen hasn't even shown up yet and we already have a classic.

Joysticks featured Joe Don Baker, more movie punks, more topless ladies, '80s video games (including a showdown using Satan's Hollow, a real, actual game that was available for little kids and stuff to play back then), a nerd, and another big fat gross guy.

Both of these movies were gloriously trashy, with no sense of reality or bringdown like so many of today's comedies, which feel the need to screech away from the laughs with 20 minutes of "But I only did all that crazy stuff to show I loved you," or "I've grown up now and gotten rid of my cool stuff," or "Dad, why didn't you ever come to my baseball games," No, these movies are pure ridiculous garbage from start to finish, and viewers are a little better for watching them.

Which brings me to Baggies, a movie that would have been the crown jewel of '80s trash comedy film making, had it ever actually been made.

Back when my roommate Todd and I worked horrible jobs at Kash n Karry, we spent a lot of time coming up with scenarios for this imaginary movie. We had a lot of time on our hands and used the power of our imagination to create a beautiful, magical world out of the boring, structured life around us.

Which was pretty amazing, considering we worked there less than a week.

Baggies was to tell the story of a group of heroes working as bag boys at a grocery store (hey, write what you know). It was to climax with the World Championship Bagging Competition, which I swear I've seen used somewhere since.

We would discuss all manner of situations for our heroes to get into, including the classic scene where one of them insists to his friend, "I am not having a party while my parents are out of town," which would cut to Oingo Boingo playing a house party (yes, with a pair of panties on a statue and a pizza on a turntable).

We also had a sexy lady bringing up two cantaloupes to be bagged. Possibly with the nerd fainting.

We were always looking for a good joke to run into the ground, so even after we quit the job we would spend much brainpower going over more jokes and scenes for our imaginary movie.

Our friend Pat joined in and contributed even more scenes. Regrettably, after almost 20 years many of these prize-winning scenarios are lost in the sands of time. Apparently we had a chimp loose in the store because of ...I dunno, hijinx. We also had a downhill buggy race between the bakery and produce departments.

At one point we considered actually sitting down and hammering out a screenplay, but that would require, you know, work and stuff, and it was hard to imagine any movie or screenplay matching the movie that was in our heads.

I'd like to think our unmade movie taught us all a valuable lesson. Not only that we were lazy, but that even a crappy movie takes motivation, energy, and effort. Not every movie can be a Surf 2. These movies are rare jewels, and we must cherish every one.

So please. Support the arts. Support Eddie Deezen. Support party scenes set to Oingo Boingo. Watch a crappy '80s movie soon and feel your mind and heart expand just a little.

Eddie Deezen, Greatest Actor of the 20th Century