The Antici-(The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975)

I had never seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show until 2020. Like, I have heard many of the songs. I have seen pictures and heard about the midnight screenings. I am fully aware of Tim Curry’s fame largely being inspired by this role. I know of the film and it’s legend. But I have never, simply sat down and watched it.

And so now I have watched the the legendary film and…uh…

I did not hate it…it has it’s charms. But I don’t know that I loved it.  Maybe this is because the film made its cult status through being an interactive audience experience…and sitting in my living room alone is not the same.

The story feels largely like an inconsequential mess. But there is no denying that when Tim Curry comes on screen, he is just an absolute delight.  Curry is reckless in his enthusiastic performance and I really enjoy every moment he is on screen. This is not to downplay the other performances, as the central characters are all memorable and fun. But Curry has a habit of outshining people in films for me.

I am glad I finally took the time to watch the film for the music and the performances, feeling like I have filled in one of the most beloved midnight films of all time.



Oh the Horror! (Cats, 2019)

Cats_PosterCats has a scene where Rebel Wilson’s Jennyanydots unzips her fur to reveal more fur and a costume and she eats cockroaches with human heads.

This is a nightmare.  And I do not know where the responsibility all is falling too.  The story is pretty odd and nonsensical. And the film never really justifies the nonsense. The visual effects work against the film as they are largely creepy and sometimes feel incomplete.  I don’t blame the effects artists…they were over worked and trying to deliver for an incomplete vision. The cast is amazing and practically the only person who seems to care is Ian McKellan, like everyone feels as if they are in a different movie.

I really cannot think of anything I liked.  I mean, some of the songs were enjoyable?

Cats is already going the Rocky Picture route, so maybe see one of the Cats Rowdy Screenings at an Alamo Drafthouse? I mean, I would consider watching it again there.

What a Scrooge Part 10 (Scrooge, 1970)

Scrooge_Finney_Poster_originalBefore cementing his career as Jedi Ghost Ben Kenobi, Alec Guinness played non-Jedi Ghost Jacob Marley. As you may recall, Marley had been seven long years as our tale begins. Scrooge is, in this adaption as prior adaptions, uncharitable and cold.

Along with the traditional mockeries of Christmas as humbug, and he unwillingness to offer support to charity, we see him seeming merciful to two older women, offering to let them wait to pay their rent, only to let them know it would be costing more than they even take in there shop in a weeks time.

At his door appears the face of Marley…but he quickly discounts it.


Entering the house he starts to prepare dinner, only to notice the bells in his home start ringing uncontrollably.  He cries out for them to stop and in enters Marley.  While the visual queues of Marley are there…his chains, the cloth holding his jaw (though the film never has this come untied, so the cloth just seems to be a fashion choice)…but Guinness makes an interesting choice in Marley’s movement.  He walks almost as if he is trying to elegantly walk through water.


The film makes a great use of his chains when he becomes angry with Scrooge, they all seem to lurch forward as he rises into the air. I do wish they had kept the line about there being “More of gravy than the grave” when Scrooge explains why he refuses to accept what he is seeing.  It is just a great line.  The other interesting style choice is the phantoms.  In most adaptions, these phantoms are humans tormented by their inability to help the living…and that is if we see them at all.  In this film we get something out of a horror movie.


The ghosts stay pretty traditional for the Present and the Future…but I confess, the Ghost of Christmas Past seems to be an odd stylistic choice. Admittedly, the book’s version is pretty unfilmable but this just seems to be…uninspired.


Although, I do get a chuckle when Scrooge tells her that she does not look like a ghost and she politely thanks him.

Christmas Present deviates the least of the three ghosts.


But truthfully, the ghosts in this adaption don’t really excite me all that much.  They are kind of lackluster performances.  And then we see the face of the the Ghost of Christmas Future.  Bad idea.


This is where the film deviates from previous (and later adaptions in a massive way.  You see, Scrooge finds himself in Hell.


Marley really seems to delight in Scrooge’s misfortune here.  He lets Scrooge know that the Satan himself wanted to have Scrooge work as his clerk.


The sequence gets goofy as a much of muscled men in hoods march in to wrap his chain around him.  Again, Marley seems to delight in this turn of events, and that flies in the face of the Marley of the story. This sequence is a bold idea that ends up just feeling a little on the nose. Fear of hell is not what drives this story, and this borders on a Chick Tract.

At 34, Finney would normally be to young to play Scrooge, but he is aided by some simple makeup and a bit of physical acting to sell himself as much older. Aside from a couple of moments where it gets almost campy, Finney turns in a good performance as Scrooge.

This is the first Musical adaption of Dicken’s tale, and it ends up a bit hit or miss when it comes to songs.  The Marley number is pretty dull and thankfully short. Many of the songs are decent and enjoyable.  I think the best two are the song sung at Scrooge’s funeral and the final big number as Scrooge goes around making merry.

This is a strong adaption overall, in spite of some random mis-steps and certainly an enjoyable take on the classic tale.



Little Lake of Horrors (The Monster of Phantom Lake, the Musical!, 2016)

Mihm_Monster_Phantom_Musical_CoverYou know…if they were truly dedicated to authenticity, they would have painted everything and everyone in black and white.

But still…the story follows closely the film.  Scientists and teens encounter an angry swamp monster.  A swamp thing, if you will.

With Music and Lyrics by Adam Boll and directed by Mihmiverse Regular Michael Cook, the musical takes a fun and slightly lighter approach.  Not that the original film is heavy and dark, but adding songs adjusts the tone a bit.

Taking his queue from Mihm’s films, Boll composed songs specifically to evoke well-known musicals. There is a song in which the character Elizabeth is singing about her fears in which harkens back to the theme song of HBO’s Tales From the Crypt.  Another is reminiscent of Grease.  The songs are a lot of fun, filled with humor (and fans of the Mihmiverse will likely notice plenty of in jokes).

The performances are quite good and the full orchestra really gives everything a good punch.

Mythical Voyagers (Moana, 2016)

moana_posterDisney’s Moana is the second time they have visited Polynesian.  The first was the fun Lilo and Stitch. This time around, Moana goes for mythical adventure.

Moana is a young woman, destined to be chief of her island, like her father before her.  But part of her longs to go beyond the reef at the entrance to the island’s cove.  She tries to fulfill her duties, and is doing well, until she suggests going beyond the reef, as the fishermen are catching no fish.  The coconuts are spoiling.

The reason is, because long ago, the Demi-God Maui stole the heart of Te Fiti…and this resulted in a malevolent force spreading across the sea.  Moana’s people have not left the island for fears of what lies beyond the reef, but Moana finds no choice when the sea gives her the Heart of Te Fiti.  She seeks out Maui to make him right his wrong.  The two are forced to endure each other on the mission.

Mismatched heroes is nothing new, and yet, the personalities of Moana and Maui are quite charming.  This is in spite of the fact that Maui is a tremendously egotistical guy who sees everything he has done as heroic.  Moana is both responsible and adventurous, which is a bit more unique.  Often, it seems brash and impulsive heroes have to learn the lesson of responsibility.  Not Moana.

The fact is, rather than take the easy route of making impediments for Moana some brand of villain?  They opted for making them likeable and relatable.  The one time we see Moana’s father express anger, it is not cruel or abusive.  It is out of personal fear that Moana may be to much like him.  Her parents are loving.  Her grandmother is gentle, wise and goofy.

The writers and Dwayne Johnson are able to imbue Maui with charm even when he is being stubborn and selfish.  You want to see him turn it around.

The animation in Moana is vibrant and beautiful.  It is fluid, like the ocean it crosses.  The concept of Maui’s tattoos being a living part of him that act as a conscience is a terrific idea.  It is also worth noting that the tattoos are hand drawn and animated.  They are seamless with the digital animation.

The songs, by Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i and Mark Mancina are both powerful and engaging fun.  The more Polynesian influenced songs play, they swell and explode with a certain power.  The more pop songs (there is one Bowie-esque songs that is truly enjoyable) make you want to move.

The story is inspiring, built on thoughtful dialog, along with a whole lot of humor.  I have tried to find something not to like.  But you know what?  I cannot.  Moana was pure joy to watch.

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