Sunday, October 31, 2010


Unable to provide you with proposed posts about either PROM NIGHT or HALLOWEEN 2, please accept this previously aired post as my Halloween treat to you.
Let's say Roman Polanski decided to cast TV's lovely Barbara Eden (I DREAM OF JEANNIE, HARPER VALLEY PTA) in ROSEMARY'S BABY instead of Mia Farrow (PEYTON PLACE). Then let's say Polanski forgot EVERYTHING he ever knew about filmmaking...the result would be a 1974 ABC Movie of the Week called THE STRANGER WITHIN.
This rediscovered camp classic comes to us via the WARNER ARCHIVE COLLECTION.
Written by Richard Matheson (THE NIGHT STALKER) and directed by Lee Phillips (THE WALTONS), THE STRANGER WITHIN is a thriller devoid of any thrills. This is the story of Ann Collins (Eden) and her grizzled husband David (the appropriately named George Grizzard), a California couple living somewhere near Lake Hollywood before Madonna moved in and ruined the neighborhood.
Ann is a stay-at-home artist who is blue because she has missed her period and had "trouble" with a pregnancy a few years back.
Perhaps something to do with an astronaut and a purple bottle with throws pillows in it? David is not amused because he went under the vasectomist's knife three years earlier - so the future rugrat cannot be his!
Here is where we see the first of many repeated closeups of a bronze phallic clock with an axe aimed right at the said phallus. Ann swears up and down that she's been faithful, but David doesn't believe her.
He takes her to an abortion doctor (recommended by Dr. Bellows?).
This doc is clearly so popular in sinful Hollywood that he has TWO telephones! Ann decides to go all "pro life" on our asses and keep the baby. David is not amused.
Their marriage begins to crumble, as Ann becomes obsessed with the baby. And starts exhibiting strange behavior. And because it's 1974 (the year after THE EXORCIST), we naturally believe that Satan is the papa.
Ann's best friend Phyllis (Joyce Van Patten) thinks something's fishy and convinces her husband Bob (played by CHARLIE'S ANGELS' creepy sidekick "Bosley", David Doyle) to hypnotize Ann.
A hypnotist isn't exactly a priest but we'll go along with it. Ann then learns that her pregnancy is even further along that she originally thought. What a total slut!
What would Major Healey say? Soon poor pregnant Ann begins experiencing wild mood swings and hot flashes.
You'll pee yourself when she declares "I'm sorry I've been acting so terribly". That's okay Babs, we're used to it.
 After that admission, Ann puts herself on a high-sodium and caffeine diet.
She starts covering all her foood with salt... and begins downing cups, then whole POTS of scalding hot black coffee like a swing shift hooker at an all-night truck stop.
Then when we think things can't get any crazier, Ann goes all Evelyn Wood and starts speed-reading just about any book she can get her hands on.
She also begins going galavanting in the Hollywood Hills at night, returning to her avocado, yellow and brown home all scratched up. Cat fights with Julie Newmar perhaps?
Without explanation her wounds begin to heal, causing Ann to believe that her unborn child is a gift from God. Ummm... right.
Or maybe it's a genie?
Before you know it, Ann begins speaking in tongues (an acting tour de force for Ms. Eden!)...
and starts preparing exotic gourmet meals like pigs feet and guts. (Pipchicks for dessert?)
 Then things turn real dark as she pulls a knife on her husband!!!
Bob/Bosley puts her under hypnosis again and just when we think we are gonna find out who the devilish baby daddy is...we learn the real truth about THE STRANGER WITHIN!!!
SUPER RIDICULOUS SPOILER ALERT: Ann is NOT pregnant with the child of Satan. She was impregnated by an extraterrestrial being...or maybe Michael Jackson. Tests soon reveal that the fetus has not one, but two healthy heartbeats!
Ann flees her home and prematurely gives birth in the woods. No room at the inn?
The next morning, she is revealed to have given birth to a healthy baby boy...but she's not alone!
She is just one of many women who have been going through the exact same thing! It's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Spaceship!
Meanwhile, David discovers the a painting that Ann has been working on. It was her blue period after all.
Creepy! Kinda, sorta. But mostly very, very funny. THE STRANGER WITHIN gets a glowing 8 outta 10 because watching Barbara Eden pour salt on food and drink gallons of coffee is a million times more entertaining than THE HURT LOCKER will ever be. And that's how I see things.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tragic Halloween Costumes Megapost

Here's my entire Tragic Halloween Costumes series from 2008 for you to enjoy (again).
Ben Cooper costumes were always the highlight of the season for me. Even as a kid I knew that some of the costumes were pretty lame. For example, take a gander at this Kaye Ballard costume. Kaye, co-star of TV's lost treasure THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW has never looked better with her reverse flip hairdo and big bright smile...Oh wait a minute, why is Kaye Ballard wearing a plastic smock that says "Marie Osmond" and holding a box that pictures Donny, Marie and the dreaded Jimmy Osmond? Oh - because it's NOT a Kaye Ballard costume - it's Marie Osmond!!! Or is it? You decide...
Spooky. To complete the unholy Osmond trinity, here were have the frightening duo of Prop 8 supporter (boo! hiss!) Donny and Jimmy Osmond...Donny (pictured above) also looks a bit like Kaye Ballard...or perhaps even JoAnne Worley! There is something extremely unsettling about this mask - especially grouped with Marie and little Jimmy (pictured below).Jimmy, in the non-Halloween world, was always the creepiest and least talented of the Osmonds - and his Halloween mask has a certain sadness about it. The mask looks like it's saying "I know I'm not as pretty as Marie or as non-threateningly cute as Donny, but please try to look into your heart and try not to hate me - my parents forced me into this. I wish I wasn't born an Osmond, there's just too much pressure. Help."

Long before the madness known as AMERICAN GIRL became our latest national nightmare, young girls (and some adventurous boys) imagined themselves living in the pioneer world of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. Yes, there were kids who actually enjoyed making believe they worked the fields in Walnut Grove, taught in a school for the blind and battled the devil incarnate herself, Nellie Oleson. Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls Wilder was extremely cute, but it didn't hurt your teeth to look at her (like many other sugary child stars of the 1970s). She had a sweet, wholesome and believable cuteness that kept us tuning in on Monday nights, even into the 1980s when Laura had a husband and kids of her own.So why then, did they make a Halloween mask that made her look more like, um...Perez Hilton?Poor "Half Pint". Next, let's take a look at some magically themed Halloween costumes. Starting with BEWITCHED's Samantha Stephens herself...Well, looking a bit like a drunken drag queen, Sam came in two un-fabulous versions. Both with garish mustard yellow capes and old school witch hats. Why not make the costume match the famous animated Samantha from the opening titles? Oh Ben Cooper, you were such a tease! Well, at least they got her hair color right, unlike...Jeannie from I DREAM OF JEANNIE! Why on Earth would they give her red hair? And again with the yellow! Yuck! Jeannie was known for wearing PINK, not yellow! It's almost like they went out of their way to make her look nothing like the actual character. And these were official licensed products! Ironically, the mask looks more like Barbara Eden today...Getting back to witches...
Here's Witchiepoo from Sid & Marty Krofft's psychedelic kiddie classic H.R. PUFNSTUF. This costume actually works for me. The mask looks like the character and the trippy graphic is kinda cute, even though the illustration makes her look more like 70s era Bette Midler than Billie Hayes. I think this is the best costume I've come across (so far).

Next we have THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, who looks more like CBS newsman Dan Rather. Also, the graphic illustration is perversely out of proportion. I did not realise that Steve Austin has elephantitis of the head.
And then there's THE BIONIC WOMAN...which isn't half-bad, but why does she look like she's sleeping? Oh - this must represent Jamie Sommers' in a coma - after her parachuting accident. Wake up, Jamie - wake up!!!
I wonder if Ben Cooper ever made a FEMBOT costume? Now that would have been terrific - especially if it came with the requisite rainbow smock and Ronald MacDonald fright wig!Now let's take a at some Garry Marshall inspired fright masks. No, not a Julia Roberts/PRETTY WOMAN hooker costume, but some 1970s classics from the days when Marshall was behind almost every ABC sitcom. He-ey! Check out this great Abe Vigoda wait's Henry Winkler as Arthur Fonzerelli...
Why did they feel the need to make Fonzie's ears, nose and chin gigantic??? Moving right along, we have those lovable roommates, LAVERNE & SHIRLEY...Yikes!!!
Actually and sadly, these masks are pretty accurate. But what Laverne without her giant "L"??? Boo! Hey does anybody have a Pam Dawber mask? Nope, just the annoying alien known as Mork from Ork...
Na-No, Na-No...Shaz-Bot! I have nothing else to say. After Garry, Aaron Spelling was responsible for some of the most memorable TV shows of the 1970s. His ABC shows of this period ran the gamut from crime dramas to romantic comedies. Most were Top 10 hits and were mostly aimed towards "adult" audiences, but a few inspired Halloween costumes.Nothing like dressing up your little girl as the late Farah Fawcett-Majors, the queen of "jiggle tv". Not sure why Farah's costume isn't branded as a CHARLIE'S ANGELS costume like Kate Jackson's Sabrina. Oddly enough, the horse-faced Kate mask looks more like Tori Spelling!
Wow - a Gavin MacLeod costume! Well, he didn't get one as Murray from MARY TYLER MOORE, but I wonder what little kid actually wanted to be Captain Stubing from THE LOVE BOAT for Halloween.
And finally, Tattoo from FANTASY ISLAND. What a wonderful way to empower your short child! Wonder if they had a Mr. Rouke get-up for the taller kids?
Who is that masked man? The Lone Ranger? The Red Arrow? The Red Lantern? Nope - it's "One of The Brady Bunch"!!! This has got to be the lamest costume yet. "One of The Brady Bunch"??? WTF? They couldn't make a Greg or Marcia mask - or even a generic set of brunette guys and blonde gals??? I feel sorry for the kids who had to wear this dumb get-up. Even cousin Oliver wouldn't be caught dead in this one.

Hey Mr.Kotter, show you how much we love ya- here's a costume with some badly drawn caricatures of you and your favorite students...

As a bonus we have everybody's favorite sweathog, Vinnie Barbarino as played by everybody's favorite Scientologist–John Travolta!
The mask is not that bad, but once again the costume leaves much to be desired. "BARBARINO" it screams with electrifying Dianetically-inspired red and yellow mortices behind a black & white illustration of Travolta's head. Actually, it's growing on me–it kinda has a pop art appeal, in fact it would make a pretty awesome tee-shirt.

Okay, next here's a duo of Halloween costumes that I guess were progressive for their time. First up - we have David Carradine as half-Chinese 19th-Century monk and martial artist Caine from the cult TV series KUNG FU. Of course as a kid, I thought the character was actually named "Kung Fu" and the costume graphic doesn't dispute that concept. Also, I never questioned why the actor was clearly caucasian - I just took it for granted - I guess bald=Asian, like Yul Brynner in THE KING & I. It's believable that Carradine might be at least half Chinese, right? (In fact, the late Carradine had Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, German, Spanish, Italian, Ukrainian and Cherokee ancestry - seemingly everything BUT Chinese).
As far as the costume goes, the mask is pretty good - but once again the costume part is pretty bad. Though, much like Barbarino - this would make a hot tee-shirt. If Caine ever travelled through time and needed someone to nurse his battle wounds, JULIA would be the perfect woman for the job!
I really like this costume, mostly because it doesn't say "JULIA" across the front of it. The mask is pleasant enough, though a bit dark compared to Diahann Carroll's skin tone, but I'll let that slide. I do like that it has a white nurse's cap on top and that the "cape" is emboldened with medical symbols, making it very authentic (for a kid's costume). What I also like is that this is actually a costume that could be used year-round whenever kids decided to play doctor - unlike most of the Halloween get-ups which seem so specific. This is totally one of my faves.

Sid & Marty Krofft created some of the freakiest and best-loved kids shows of the 1970s. Because most of their shows featured people in strange costumes - Halloween was the perfect time to celebrate the weird and wonderful world of Krofft. Let's start with the classic sci-fi adventure LAND OF THE LOST. This NBC outing was the saga of a family (Marshall, Will and Holly) who, on a routine expedition, met the greatest Earthquake ever known! Somehow they wound up in a strange world populated by friendly and not-so-friendly dinosaurs, ape-like creatures called Pakuni and lizard-men called Sleestaks. I could go on for days about the show: how Marshall was replaced by "Uncle Jack," and how the big-budget, big-screen adaptation sucked so much. But instead, here is a Sleestak costume:
The mask is pretty good - but too bad the smock isn't as fabulous as the shimmering one worn by the TV Sleestaks. I guess I should stop complaining about these damn costumes by now, but WHY is there a horrible drawing of a Pakuni family rather than a portrait of Marshall, Will and Holly??? Another fun Krofft adventure show was ELECTRA WOMAN AND DYNA GIRL - which aired as part of ABC's KROFFT SUPERSHOW. Electra Woman was brilliantly portrayed by delightful daytime diva Deidre Hall (best known as the sometimes Satan-possessed Dr Marlena Evans on DAYS OF OUR LIVES).
Okay, I have to admit - this costume is pretty good, but I wonder how many little girls (or gay men) recycled the mask and put on a lab coat and green contacts to go as Marlena for Halloween???A lesser known Krofft show was ABC's BIGFOOT AND WILDBOY . Here's the costume...
Bruce Vilanch never looked better.

And finally - just for fun here's the over-the-top Witchie-Poo from H.R. PUFNSTUF again cause I just love Billie Hayes. Check out her cool website! She's adorable and does great things for animals.
So there you have it – the good, the bad and the ugly. But enough about Jimmy Osmond.