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Well, ladies and gentleman, this might be it: the “breakthrough” episode of the series. As with all previous episodes, you can ignore the title...there's nothing here that will be scary for any child over the age of three, nor is it the show's point to scare. What it is, however, is a clever play on the typical “switch parts” trope, in which Simon's crazy brother, Harley, ends up in a mummy flick. But, as Marshall and Simon wonder, if he's in the television, then where's the mummy? In their house, of course!

It all starts on Halloween. For reasons never made clear, Simon's younger brother, Harley, who looks like he'd be the perfect age for trick or treating, is forced to stay at home and be babysat by Marilyn, Marshall's mom, while he and Simon go out monster hunting. At least, that's how the night's supposed to go. But as we already know, things in Eerie, Indiana often don't turn out the way they're supposed to. In this case, Marshall's father is stranded with a dead car, so Marilyn has to go pick him up. This leaves Marshall and Simon in charge of Harley.

Trying to make the most of the situation, Marshall decides to have Simon unwittingly film Harley playing with lizards, in the hopes that what transpires will be funny enough to win $10,000 on a certain home video show. That plan doesn't take long to backfire, and before Marshall knows it, he has a lizard of his own down his pants.

So they set Harley up in front of the television, forcing him to watch “Bloody Revenge of the Mummy's Curse” while they plan on keeping themselves busy. Bad luck follows poor Harley, though, and after biting down on the remote (?), he ends up in the mummy movie, while Marshall and Simon now have a mummy of their own to deal with. They might not have been able to go monster hunting, but one certainly found them!

As it turns out, this isn't a real mummy, but rather the actor that plays the mummy: self-proclaimed “international star” Boris von Orloff, a curmudgeonly old man who's been dead for fifty years. They hatch a plan to reverse the effects and send Boris back into the set of his own movie—which Harley is trashing. The scenes of Harley knocking stuff over and causing general havoc while the female star, who's stuck in the movie's loop and thinks she's being chased by the mummy, simply runs away and screams the whole time is the kind of thing that makes “Eerie, Indiana” special...it has a unique self-awareness missing from shows in general these days.

This is the first episode where everything felt like it was firing on almost all cylinders for me. The writing is pretty sharp, there are more than a couple laugh-out-loud moments...even a risque sex joke finds its way in there (courtesy of Marshall's stranded mom and dad). It's kind of a shame that Cindy continues to exist only in the background...it's like the creators were forced to include a cute female character, but didn't have any way to utilize her (though listening to her reciting shapes based on boys from her school, which she does on the phone to a friend, is pretty funny).

With all this in mind, I'd have to say this is the best episode yet, and the perfect example of what this show could be when it was on its A-game. I honestly have paid no attention to who's directed what thus far (until right now, obviously), but of the five episodes I've watched, Joe (Gremlins) Dante has directed three of them, with two going to Pillsbury...and in a blind viewing, I've disliked two of Dante's, and loved both of Pillsbury's. Who would have expected that, coming from a man whose most notable works are Free Willy 3, and the classic Lifetime film Fifteen and Pregnant?

Hopefully it can build off of this and continue on its upward trajectory.

EPISODE RATING: 7.5/10
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[personal profile] froodle
I know, I know, it's like 20 minutes of adverts every episode (though it has less padding in the form of prolonged pauses than Tanis, so...?) but spoiler for episode seven ) and it's kind of made me want a crossover between it and Eerie.
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[personal profile] froodle
As the buzz wears off following our Richard Whorf love-fest, let us carry on, from the oddness of the early-60s to the oddness of the early-90s, where the epicenter of weirdness can be found in the name-appropriate...

Eerie, Indiana

So, this is kind of like your proto-Buffy, what with its mystery-solving and its acknowledgement that strange things are going down everywhere in Sunny- uh, Eerie, leading to supernatural stalls that must be mucked. Marshall Teller is an everykid who has been relocated from the Garden State to eerie Eerie (insert obligatory Jersey-bash here), and whose Mom would go on to live by a creek and become the mother of that insufferable bastard, Dawson. Oh, how we wish this series had been picked up instead.

As noted earlier, the 90s saw the media in the hands of those raised on the media of the 60s, so we're going to see a lot of carefully-trivial deep cuts and throwback-nods here; this caliber of adoration would eventually fuel a thousand fan-sites online, where liking things so much that you almost hate them has become the currency of the day.

But not here - not yet. Here is strange little bastion of early nerd-culture, a safe-haven that was needed for those of us who watched Universal monster pictures on AMC and sopped up the Bob Dorian-laced trivia about Jack Pierce's scar-tissue appliques and Lon Chaney Jr.'s sad dog-face before going out to look for Bigfoot in the backyard. Let's go there now, and let's pull the rope-ladder up after us - the other kids will never understand.

Space: Eerie, IN
Time: October 20th, 1991
Episode: "America's Scariest Home Video" Season 1, Episode 5

Now here's a show that gets it. Just look at these guys, suiting up for their Halloween adventure, just as star Omri Katz would do in a few years as Max on Hocus Pocus. They are itemizing like soldiers, synchronizing the watches of of their trick-or-treating supplies like they're fresh out of the castle break-in from Where Eagles Dare. But hey, look at this get-up:

Rubber crone masks, back in vogue! What was old is new again, except they are, by definition, still old (Richard Whorf, these masks are for you!). And as a true sign of the times, we're getting Bush 41 and Gorbachev, who were and remain pretty decent crones.

But then, we do catch further glimpses of Halloween '91 throughout the ep - please note the tasteful use of what we now recognize as Lambert Lanterns (#LambertLanterns), and just look how far mask technology had advanced from the days of Chip and Sudsy!

It's difficult to articulate to the modern audience just how much of a phenomenon America's Funniest Home Videos was at the time. You've got your ambitious stand-up, Bobert Saget, taking invaluable time from the Tanner's hugging schedule to host this weekly tribute to the idiocy of Americans. Hey, we all know that no matter what school of comedy you hail from, be it the Bob Newhart School, or the Richard Pryor School, or the Dane Cook School etc., I think we can all kind of agree... watching dudes get hit in the balls is pretty hilarious, right? I thought as much. So, count on the power of a sit-com star, the power of dudes getting hit in the balls, the realness of the ball-hitting, and the fabulous $10,000 cash prize, synergized with Coulier on America's Funniest People - whoo boy, you have entertainment for an entire nation's worth of families.

Anyway, young Marshall and his buddy, Simon, were of the perfect age to know a good scam when they see it, and so, try to videotape Simon's brother, Harley, doing something crazy so they can win that sweet Saget prize money. One thing leads to another, and the janky A/V set-up that was standard issue in this age before streaming is fried in a way that suggests Mom and Dad are going to be so mad when they get home.

This is because 1.) What did you do to my VCR, do you not know how heavy and expensive these are in 1991!? and 2.) Lil Harley - a king mixer if ever I've seen one - is trapped inside the mummy movie they'd been watching.

Whoops! And of course, due to the transitive property of entering a television world, if you are going to recast the Incredible Hulk with your pet cat, expect a Bill Bixby and/or Lou Ferrigno in your living room. We have this here, in the shape of said-movie mummy.

Surprised to the point of evacuating the house and smacking each other around, the boys anxiously follow some prospective trick-or-treaters back up to the Teller front door to see what the hell happens next. And who could be so wicked as to answer a rung doorbell on Halloween, I ask you?

What!? Why, it's Marshall's sister, Syndi, as played by Julie Condra. Now, J-Con is best known in my mind for portraying "Madeline" in what has to be a top-10 episode for The Wonder Years, "It's A Mad, Mad, Madeline World," in which she comes as close as any woman ever would to besting Winnie Cooper (Kevin, of course, was far too weak to deal with such a self-assured powerhouse, and so went back to wallowing in his broken childhood romance for many more seasons, the dolt).

Anyway, she does her big sister-thing to everyone involved, and because she's not a psycho, does not realize the mummy is an actual mummy. Classic older-sibling move. This eventually leads to the fellas capturing the mummy, only to realize he's not the actual mummy, but rather the famous actor Boris Von Orloff, played by Judge Claude Frollo himself, Messr. Tony Jay. "Hellfire" indeed, my friends!

They look on, stunned, as that little fucker, Harley, trashes the set of his movie and loves every minute of it. As do we, the audience.

Moments later, it's all over and the body-switch/TV-reality pseudo-science circuit is completed right before Mom and Dad get home. Well done, all round - they'll never find out!

In conclusion, check out this series, it was a weird little gem of its time for weird little people, and one that celebrated the weirdness of previous eras as well. I give it 10 out of 13 rubber crone masks
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The cultists who lived in the run-down rental property down the road had run into the street and were currently blocking traffic as they fell to their knees and wailed. A half-dozen milk trucks had been dispatched to deal with the obstruction, but even a team of Eerie’s most senior Dairy Produce Distribution Specialists were having trouble.

Most of the cult members had already clawed out their eyes, and their screams drowned out the warning honks of the approaching fleet. To make matters worse, the heavy black robes of the mowed-down pedestrians got tangled in the wheel axels and the cultist’s non-human anatomy made them distressingly resilient to high-speed impacts.

“I hope you’re proud of yourself,” said Simon, in a tone of voice that indicated the exact opposite.

Harley stepped over the broken fragments of a toppled altar, tracking blood and flavoured butter-substitute in his wake. He was holding a yellow-white tentacle of bubbly and uneven appearance, and he met his big brother’s gaze without flinching as he raised the severed limb of an eldritch horror to his mouth and took a bite.

“Dang it, Harley,” Simon exploded. “Why do you always have to go around eating other people’s Gods?!”

Read the rest of the Holmes Brothers series here )
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[personal profile] froodle
The construction site homunculus had twisted arms made from spring-headed roofing nails. Its teeth were bared in a broken-toothed grin that mimicked the tread on a workman’s boot and it juddered unsteadily towards the interlopers on legs of hardened steel that punched holes in the breeze block barrier that separated them.

Its face was a rough suggestion etched in rolling papers and cigarette ash, and in shape it resembled a child’s snowman, a round head on a rounder body, albeit one constructed of trampled mud rather than freshly-fallen snow.

Harley picked up a discarded stick and jabbed the approaching thing in the stomach. It wobbled, tipped over, and the head came off and rolled away down the uneven slope. He watched in silence as it bounced over the churned earth, eventually coming to rest against the rusting wire fence that had so spectacularly failed to deter trespassers.

Marshall set the heavy video camera down, stretching to relieve the cramp in his shoulder. He was scowling.

“There goes our Unsolved Mysteries fame and fortune,” he said. “Six weeks of Hebrew lessons down the drain.”

“Dang it, Harley,” said Simon. “How many eldritch abominations can you destroy in a day?”

Harley giggled.

Read the rest of the Trusted Associates verse here )

Read the rest of the Holmes Brothers series here )
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[personal profile] froodle
The metal frame of the old fashioned lampshade was bent and warped and slightly rusty. Tinsel had been wrapped around the skeletal struts and liberal amounts of masking tape held tarnished baubles and moulting wire-framed robins to the shining web formed by the sagging strands. Skeins of partially-shredded cotton wool balls, coated in glitter, were randomly dotted over the whole assemblage, and a length of mostly burnt-out fairy lights flickered spasmodically beneath the tattered remains of the lampshade's silken tassels.

"Thank you, Harley," said Simon, setting it in a place of honour atop his desk. "It's a beautiful Christmas tree."

Read the rest of the Holmes Brothers series here )

Read the rest of the Christmas series here )
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[personal profile] froodle
The demon was a great swarm of black flies, loathsome and buzzing and constantly in motion. It rippled, bulged, burst apart into all it's disparate pieces, then came together again in the rough outline of a person.

"I'm sorry," said Simon. "I didn't... could you say that again please?"

The demon hummed and buzzed, spreading out it's great arms for emphasis. A few fat-bodied blue bottles broke away from the makeshift body and began slamming themselves face-first into various shop windows along the street. Simon knew how they felt.

"I can't understand you," he said apologetically.

Beside him, Harley giggled.

Read the rest of the Holmes Brothers series here )

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