Bug Vaudeville (film #8 on Animation Legend Winsor McCay DVD (Lumivision, 1997)). [Category: Hollywood]

Well, you've heard of a flea circus, haven't you? So why not a vausdeville show performed by insects? If this had to exist, then McCay was the man to do it. Like all the cartoons on this DVD, this is beautifully animated and quite charming. The insect performances are simultaneously anthropomorphic and quite bug-like––McCay must have closely observed real insects before making this. Another great McCay early cartoon, with great soundtrack music, too.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

Automotive Service (film #179 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

Part of the “Your Life Work” series, this vocational training film presents the exciting career field of auto mechanics and makes it seem dull and requiring lots of education. Good thing most mechanics got into the field through tinkering with cars or we wouldn’t have anybody to fix our vehicles. A very ordinary film.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.

Are You Ready for Marriage?.

Larry loves Sue. Sue loves Larry. Larry and Sue want to get married. Problem: Sue's parents don't approve. So Larry and Sue visit a marriage counselor over at "the church" and he tells them they won't be ready for marriage until they become one fused unit––otherwise, their marriage might snap like a rubber band! ("Where'd it go??" they cry.) The marriage counselor's props alone provide great camp value (Mike: "Roger Marris' Action Marriage Set, with Real Marriage Action!"). It's also fun to watch Sue's parents (who must be at least in their 70's) spout psychobabble. And the msting is great fun.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Msting: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

Arabian Gun Twirler (film #13 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]

An Arab twirls his rifle like a baton in the greatest display of gun handling since the detective in Plan 9 from Outer Space. An 1899 Edison film.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.

Brandon (film #240 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Commercial]

This filmed sleeping pill is a promotional travelogue about Brandon, a historical plantation in the James River area of ol’ Virginny (sorry, this film makes me lapse into a bad southern accent, and I’m not even from the south). Narrated by somebody’s southern great aunt after being given a good dose of Valium, it mostly features footage of flowers and trees, enough so that you begin to suspect the Ladies’ Gardening Club was behind this. African-American plantation employees are portrayed as if slavery was only recently repealed, and parts of the plantation have yet to hear the news. Seeing that footage, though, will require you to stay awake beyond the first five minutes of the film, which, believe me, is not easy. “Goin’ Home” is played more times and more slowly than at FDR’s funeral. Insomniacs should enjoy this because it will cure their problem. Others will find it somewhat less than satisfying.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.

The Bangville Police (film #4 in the Silent section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

Mabel Normand thinks she hears burglars in the barn, so she panics and calls the Bangville Police, a rustic version of Keystone's finest. While they are bungling their way to her she informs a neighbor of the situation and baracades herself in the house. It all turns out to be a misunderstanding, of course, but it allows lots of silly antics to ensue. Unfortunately, this is one of Keystone's weaker efforts. A 1913 Keystone film.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.

Drive-In Movie Double Feature #26 (Sinister Cinema). [Category: Commercial]

Another fun collection of snack bar promos, featuring terrible-looking food and the Ubiquitous Family, who appears in almost every promo!


  • Dr. Pepper made several great animated beatnik jazz snack bar promos. Watch for one on this tape, featuring a pretty 60's blonde singing "Drink Dr. Pepper, Doc-Dr. Pepper, 'cause it never lets you down!" Crazy, man!
  • You can now enjoy your favorite form of movie entertainment, regardless of rain, thanks to a Drizzle Guard! This and the Bernz-O-Matic show us the one big weakness of the drive-in––bad weather––and the proprietors' pathetic attempts to deal with it.
  • After warning potential speaker thieves that a $50 reward is being offered for information leading to their arrest and conviction, we see a guy with a halo, crossed fingers behind his back, and a guilty expression turning in a broken speaker to the snack bar. Just what is that about??
  • Trailer for Pajama Party: No real-life teenagers were ever this perky. And why couldn't they let Buster Keaton, et. al. retire gracefully?

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

Mondo Balordo (2nd feature on Drive-In Movie Double Feature #58 (Sinister Cinema)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

Mondo movies are the cinematic version of freak shows: they exploit people's morbid curiosity, they're designed to shock, you know some of the stuff is fake and some is probably real but you can't tell one from the other, and they're sleazy. This one is typical of the genre, though the truly shocking moments are vastly outnumbered by stuff that would only shock those with the most straight-laced of sensibilities. Did you know that lions actually kill and eat zebras, men actually ogle women's bodies on the street, fat ugly people actually wear swimsuits on the beach, rich people actually pay for expensive medical treatment for their sick dogs, Neapolitans actually play the numbers a lot, lesbians actually exist (gasp!), or that midgets actually have sex (double gasp!!)?? The only thing lamer than these supposed shocks are the moments of supposed "social commentary". Example: footage of old men in formal dress is juxtaposed with footage of penguins––ever notice the similarity? Still, if you can get past the sleaziness and cynicism, there are genuinely bizarre and interesting images in this film, though the filmmakers seem to be the last ones to know about them. An example is footage from a Las Vegas "Miss Breast America" contest, where women are judged on their two most prominent assets. You're supposed to be shocked that such a contest exists, and struck by the irony that the contest is a benefit for the preservation of Egyptian pyramids, but the really weird thing about it is that all the contestants are wearing industrial-strength bras with visible trusses and supports, making it impossible to really tell the natural shape (or even size) of the women's breasts at all. Whether or not you can stomach Mondo movies ultimately depends upon your tolerance for sleaze. I personally don't get into them a whole lot, but in small doses they do offer an interesting dose of weirdness.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.

Double Deal (film #7 in the Black Culture section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

In this all-black cast film, a pretty nightclub singer's boyfriend and his brother get involved in some dirty dealings with some gangsters that the nightclub owner has been dealing with. It's a pretty standard B-movie gangster plot that ends with the good guys prevailing over the bad guys. It's not too badly told, though, given the cheapness of the production. But other than the all-black world it seems to exist in, this is pretty ordinary.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.

General Hospital episode excerpt (MST3K Episode #417: Crash of the Moons). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

Yet another depressing "General Hospital" excerpt. The married man takes the engaged woman home and they confess their love for each other. The man seems to want the woman to put her life on hold forever, even though he has no intention of leaving his wife. Bleah! Well worth msting.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Msting: ***. Overall Rating: ***.

Beginning Responsibility: Taking Care of Things

Beginning Responsibility: Taking Care of Things . Grade-schooler Andy is a slacker in the taking-care-of-things department, so he suffers t...