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‘Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown’: Future ‘Simpsons’ director turns ‘Peanuts’ into a bloodbath


 
In the mid-1980s, Jim Reardon was at the highly regarded Character Animation program at the California Institute of the Arts, and one of his student projects was a remarkable mashup of the Charlie Brown universe and the Sam Peckinpah universe—all of it undertaken with what must have been a deep affection for both worlds. The four-minute film’s title is “Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown,” an obvious reference to Peckinpah’s 1974 movie Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.

The short is presented as the commercial for a “heartwarming holiday special” featuring the Peanuts gang. So the Great Pumpkin places a bounty on Charlie Brown’s head, which causes an immediate death spiral into ultraviolence. All of the familiar characters (Lucy, Schroeder, Linus, etc.) attempt to assassinate Charlie Brown, until finally the hero is forced to take matters into his own hands, grabbing a machine gun and mowing them all down.

The second half of the short is truly a bloodbath, and definitely Reardon has Peckinpah’s masterpiece The Wild Bunch on the brain most of all. Peckinpah was known not just for violence but most of all for lush slow-motion sequences focusing on the carnage, and “Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown” certainly has several of those. The moment when Lucy nips Charlie Brown in the shoulder is a direct callback to a sequence from The Wild Bunch involving William Holden’s character Pike Bishop.

Reardon’s short, which is in black-and-white, is a little crude by professional standards, but for a student project it’s incredibly effective and engaging. “Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown” is dense, somewhat akin to MAD Magazine, with references covering everything from Popeye and Travis Bickle to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Godzilla. The closing zinger, spoken in Arnie’s trademark accent, is “Happiness is a warm uzi,” a remarkably canny mix of the strip’s treacly motto “Happiness is a warm puppy” and John Lennon’s memorable ditty “Happiness Is a Warm Gun.” 

“Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown” also owes a debt to the old Warner Bros. cartoons, particularly in the bomb Lucy creates to dispose of her football-kicking buddy.

Based on the strength of this short—one imagines—Reardon was quickly hired by John Kricfalusi (later of Ren and Stimpy fame) as a writer on Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures. Later on he would be a supervising director for seasons 9 through 15 of The Simpsons  and co-wrote the script for WALL-E.

Watch it after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Happy happy joy joy!’: Hyper-realistic Ren & Stimpy masks
04.14.2017
10:23 am

Topics:
Amusing
Animation
Art
Pop Culture
Television

Tags:
Ren & Stimpy


 
Andrew Freeman of Immortal Masks made these insanely detailed Ren & Stimpy masks! The only word I can think of for these is “grotesque.” I simply cannot get over how real they look. They’d give me nightmares if I owned them.

The masks made their debut at the fabled Monsterpalooza convention last weekend. Bravo.


 

 

 
via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Leonard Cohen sings the Chiquita Banana song
04.05.2017
01:21 pm

Topics:
Animation
Food
Music

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Leonard Cohen
Chiquita Banana song


 
In 1991 Leonard Cohen was on a TV show and he sang a cute song about bananas that Chiquita featured in commercials that ran in movie theaters back in the 1940s. I have no idea how it came up or what inspired Cohen to break into the song, but he clearly wants a close pal of his, Canadian poet Irving Layton, to register how much of the song he knows by heart.

The original singer of the Chiquita Banana song was Monica Lewis, who many years later appeared in two of the Airport movies.
 

 
You probably know that on the cover of his 1988 album I’m Your Man, Cohen is depicted munching on a banana. Bananas were even used in the promotional items produced for the album, as seen at the top of this page.

This page would have you believe that Cohen is the second most banana-obsessed musical artist after, well, the Velvet Underground.

The original Chiquita Banana advertisement from 1947:

 
Cohen’s rendition:

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Everything on the Internet is a LIE (except for this)
04.01.2017
10:19 am

Topics:
Advertising
Amusing
Animation
Art
Television

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Cris Shapan


 
I reckon my pal Cris Shapan is a bonafide comedy genius. If he weren’t so dagblasted funny, then I honestly doubt I would laugh so much at his gags. But laugh I do, my painfully cramped stomach testament to the obtuse brilliance of his singular comedic vision. But he’s a funnyman with a difference, as you’ll see. He’s an entire comedy genre of one.

Cris Shapan’s comedy is all about the little details. He might have the most exactingly detailed comic mind on the planet. His work is complex, multi-layered and maniacal. It also brutally takes advantage—in the nicest way possible, mind you—of how gullible people can be on the Internet. You see, prior to when he started working on various cult television programs—you’ve seen his stuff on Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Kroll Show and Baskets—Cris was a corporate art director working for evil entities like American Express. Taking what he learned employed on the darkside, his idiosyncratic output—clearly inspired by a misspent youth obsessively reading National Lampoon—creates counterfeit realities that are bust-a-gut funny, but often sail right over the heads of the very people sharing them on Facebook (who quite often unwittingly announce this fact as they post them. Which then makes his gags TWICE as funny, of course).


 
Nope, the members of Spooky Tooth never did a print ad for Birds Eye frozen vegetables, but try telling that to their Wikipedia page! And poor Brian Eno having to deny that he did an advertisement for Purina in the mid-70s with his blasé cat Eric. Stevie Wonder never did an Atari ad, either, sorry to break it to ya pal. It never happened.

And that guy on Facebook posting one of Cris’s album cover parodies and announcing that “My dad had this record when I was a kid!” (and all of the Facebook “Me, too-ers” as well)? He’s either a bold-faced liar… or else he truly does “remember” his father owning a record that has never existed. And maybe he ate some Potato Fudge while he listened to it… Why assume the worst in people, right?

For this special April Fool’s Day post, I asked some questions over email of the man, the myth Cris Shapan

Richard Metzger: I know who you are, but for the sake of all the young, impressionable minds out there reading this, how would you describe yourself?

Cris Shapan: I’m a hack. I started decades ago in movie advertising, did a bunch of years in corporate art departments, and then 13 years ago I answered an ad on Craigslist and wound up working on Tom Goes to the Mayor at Tim and Eric.  Since then I’ve been bouncing around on the fringe of edgy comedy, on shows like Awesome Show and Kroll Show and Baskets, doing silly art & deliberately awful effects.  It’s a high-pressure gig for an artist, but it can also be a whole lot of fun.
 

 
With your Photoshop skills you can “edit” the past—in a very Orwellian sense—and it’s frightening to see how fucking gullible people can be. I recall we posted one of your Alan Hale parody album covers and idiots on Facebook were commenting “I used to have this record!” “Me too!” and “I still have mine!” Ummm… no you don’t.

Cris Shapan: Yeah, it’s scary to see something I did purely to entertain friends become someone else’s reality.  Some claim to remember or even own something that never existed.  Others will repost a parody ad as real, especially if it reinforces some agenda they’re touting (sexism in advertising, the past was a horrible place, frankenfood, etc.).  People read the fake ad copy and leap to the wildest interpretations, often expressing outrage at something that never actually happened.  It’s just bizarre.  Some people are so convinced these parody pieces are genuine that they’ve gone in and modified Wikipedia pages to reflect their existence, which of course compounds the stupidity.
 

 
At what point did Snopes.com find it necessary to “debunk” some of your gags?

Both Dangerous Minds and The American Bystander (the only humor magazine in existence, I think) had run my ad for a product called “Johnson’s Winking Glue.”  The premise alone should have established this as a parody; it was for a product that ostensibly glued your eye shut so you could wink properly.  A few months later, some dickhead blogger reposted the ad as factual without citing the source, and it went viral on its own to the point where Snopes got involved.
 

 
Did they get it right? They’ve got a real reputation for accuracy.

Cris Shapan: Yes, thank goodness for the fine folks at Snopes - I mean that, they’re like the Sheriff of Internet Misinformation.  Not only did they track me down, but the author tracked the ad back to a photo gallery on my Facebook page.  Of course, I’ve never tried to pretend these are real or hide my tracks, so they didn’t have to Sherlock themselves too hard.  I’m glad they understood these were parodies…It pisses me off so much when people debunk my humor as a ‘hoax’ - it’s like debunking MAD magazine or Waiting for Guffman.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Concert screen projections from Pink Floyd’s 1974 and 1975 tours
03.31.2017
11:11 am

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
Pink Floyd


 
Few bands did as much to push forward the visual experience spectators could enjoy at arena shows as Pink Floyd—the very phrase “a Pink Floyd concert” conjures a very specific idea of an arena show as a kind of hallucinogenic mass orgasm, an event not to be experienced without some form of pharmaceutical enhancement.

In the 1970s the Floyd periodically worked with a filmmaker named Ian Emes. For the 1974/1975 Dark Side of the Moon tour they hired Emes to make some suitably mind-blowing short movies to be projected on the back of the stage while the band went through the comparably mind-blowing songs “Time,” “Money,” “Speak to Me/Breathe,” and so on. 

Dark Side of the Moon is one of the few albums where the band toured the material extensively before fans could buy the album in March 1973. That long tour began in January 1972—more than a year before the album was released—and lasted through the early summer of 1973, technically coming to an end in London on November 4, 1973. Emes’ films were unveiled for Floyd’s 1974 tours of France and England and the 1975 Wish You Were Here tour of North America.

The French/England tours of 1974 saw Floyd’s use of a circular screen onstage for the first time, a facet for which the band would become renowned. The only non-American date on the 1975 tour was the closer, at the Knebworth Festival on July 5, which was the last time that Floyd would perform “Echoes” and the entire Dark Side of the Moon album with Roger Waters.

The sights and sounds of the Pink Floyd, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Sexy sci-fi lobby cards for ‘Heavy Metal’
03.15.2017
01:15 pm

Topics:
Advertising
Animation
Movies

Tags:
Heavy Metal
lobby cards


 
In the early 1980s, cable TV was an important and marvelous new development for Young America. For one thing, MTV was on it. But there was also soft-core porn and other adult programming, and parents often weren’t conversant enough with the technology (or the TV schedule) to prevent their offspring from watching things they probably shouldn’t. For a male preteen such as myself around 1982, there wasn’t much on the premium cable schedule I was interested in watching more than Heavy Metal. A sci-fi cartoon for adults that was both scary and sexy? With music by Blue Öyster Cult, Journey, and Cheap Trick?? You have got to be fucking kidding me. I was 12 years old and had no way of seeing an R-rated movie. But I could dial up Cinemax when my parents weren’t around…...... 

I think I dimly understood that there was a “magazine” out there called Heavy Metal that was for adults. I definitely did not know that so many of my favorite Canadian entertainers (think SCTV) were involved, including John Candy, Eugene Levy, Ivan Reitman, and Harold Ramis, although I’m certain I would have recognized the name “John Candy” in the credits.

As I say, I never saw the movie in the theater, but if I had I might have spotted some of these handsome lobby cards while entering. I suspect that Heavy Metal has not dated all that well, but I’m impressed at how effortlessly these striking images, after more than 30 years, communicate Danger - Sex - Adventure - FUN.
 

 

 
More ‘Metal’ after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Kodoku Meatball Machine’: Nipple guns, four tons of blood and a shitload of gore and mayhem
03.14.2017
01:11 pm

Topics:
Animation
Movies

Tags:
Yoshihiro Nishimura


 
Yoshihiro Nishimura’s over-the-top, body-horror, sci-fi/fantasy Kodoku Meatball Machine had its world premiere at SXSW this past week and it more than lived up to its hype for being a splatter epic. In a video introduction to the film, director Nishimura claimed he used over four tons of fake blood in the movie. That might be a bit of hyperbole but Kodoku Meatball Machine has more arterial spray than the Bellagio Hotel has dancing waters. It’s a hilarious gorefest that combines sublime silliness with some cutting social satire. Plot? We don’t need no stinking plot! This film is a frenetic mash-up (literally) of everything we love about Japanese science fiction and horror. Shit happens. And keeps happening. Things fall out of the sky, humans mutate, chicks blow people away with nipple guns and limbs are severed with the maniacal zeal of a meth-crazed chef at Benihana.

Nishimura, who directed the insane Tokyo Gore Police and the 2007 short film Meatball Machine: Reject of Death, is justly renown for his superb special effects creations and wild makeup. He’s worked on dozens of Japanese horror films, creating brilliantly inventive costumes, prosthetics, masks and jaw-dropping visual mayhem featuring heavy metal samurais, wildly choreographedswordplay, kung foolery and flesh-fused weaponry from the planet Id. The cartoonish excess of his creations keeps them from being truly horrifying. There’s too much wit and absurdity in what’s on the screen to be truly upsetting. Laughter displaces screams in Nishimura’s bloody phantasmagorias. His atom-age nightmares are surrealist twists on Shaw Brother Toho flicks of the 1960s and 70s…with loads of viscera and severed limbs. A chase scene involving a topless woman astride a mutant who is half-man and half-motorcycle is like something from a demented western. Yee haw! 
 

 
Cinematographer Keizo Suzuki has given Kodoku Meatball Machine a neon sheen that recalls some of Nicolas Refn’s recent work and there’s an eerie nightclub scene that evokes the palette and vibe of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. Some groovy stop-motion animation comes on like Ray Harryhausen on DMT and a load of intentionally cheesy special effects give the movie a deranged hallucinatory brilliance. The second half of the film is a relentless mindfuck.


Fans of Takashi Miike, Sion Sono, and Shin’ya Tsukamoto will find Kodoku Meatball Machine an irresistible hoot and folks who’ve never experienced extreme Japanese cinema will be introduced to a unique viewing experience that really has no western equivalent in the world of film.

Watch the trailer for ‘Kodoku Meatball Machine’ after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Sunday Morning’ animation celebrates ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico,’ released 50 years ago today
03.12.2017
08:37 am

Topics:
Animation
Art
Music

Tags:
Velvet Underground


 
When illustrator James Eads saw the morphing gifs Chris McDaniel (aka TheGlitch.og) made from his work, he described the result as not “moving so as much as breathing. My work started coming to life.” McDaniel feels that their collaboration is, for both of them, a form of meditation. He told the Creators Project:

It’s a place of refuge where we can breathe and take in the world and in return give back some peace. And I think other people can feel that, and when they come across one of these illusions they pause and allow themselves to get lost in it. There’s something extremely calming and mesmerizing about the illusions, there is magic is in the subtlety.”

Now the pair has teamed up for an animated music video for “Sunday Morning” by the Velvet Underground and Nico.

James Eads had this to say about the piece:

“For me one of the biggest takeaways of ‘Sunday Morning’ is the relationship that Lou Reed has with time. The way something can feel so far away when it was only the night before. I wanted to play with that fluidity of time and personify the day and the night and use their relationship to tell a simple story. Sometimes the subtleties of change make it hard to see how quickly time passes by, but the stark brightness of the morning contrasting a night of intoxication can create a strangely sobering yet nostalgic feeling. It’s almost as if within the first few minutes of waking up on ‘Sunday Morning’ there is a haze of hopefulness of a life ahead before reality sets in.”

This Sunday morning, with it being Daylight Savings Time, things might seem a little hazier than normal for some of us…

The Velvet Underground & Nico with its iconic peeling banana album cover designed by Andy Warhol came out fifty years ago today.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Images from John K and Spumco’s mid-90s Terrytoons ‘reboot’ pitch


 
Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi had a lot of early gigs in the late 1970s and 1980s, including stints at Filmation and Hanna-Barbera and DIC Entertainment—he later characterized this work for shows such as Heathcliff as “the worst animation of all time.” Legendary animator Ralph Bakshi “saved” John K in the 1980s. In 1987 Bakshi spearheaded a successful revival of Mighty Mouse, and John K worked on that project.

Terrytoons was responsible for a number memorable characters in the 1960s and thereabouts, including Heckle and Jeckle, Mighty Mouse, Hector Heathcote, Possible Possum, and Deputy Dawg. Six years ago John K posted on his blog art that he and members of his team had put together for pitches a few years after the founding of Spumco in 1988.

As John K writes:
 

Here is some presentation art from a pitch we did at Spumco in the mid 90s. I wanted to get Paramount to let me revive the Terrytoons characters. I would have shown some of this stuff earlier but it had all suffered water damage. But now, thanks to Alex, Jojo and Tommy, some of it has been restored through the magic of insufferable digital technology.

 
 
John K doesn’t claim perfect memory on who drew which of these images, but he credits Mike Fontanelli, Shane Glines, Rick Altergott, and Richard Pursel as some of the people who probably worked on these.

In one of the stories, Petey Pate, a boar cat with a bald spot, “steals all the eyebrows from the mice in Mouseville and Mighty Mouse has to come save the day.”

We’ve all been there….....
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The worst music video of all time, redeemed by a LEGO remake


 
The music video for David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s 1985 cover of Martha and the Vandellas’ Motown classic “Dancing in the Street” is considered one of the worst, if not THE worst, of all time. The clip, originally recorded for the Live Aid benefit, has been called “cringe-worthy” and the “worst music video ever made” HERE, “the worst video ever produced” HERE, and “one of the worst crimes of the ‘80s” HERE. It’s universally thought to be a massive exercise in “what the fuck were they thinking?”

A couple of years ago here at Dangerous Minds we showed you a hilariously-foley’d “musicless” version of the video.

Today we’d like to draw your attention to a wonderful stop-motion LEGO recreation of the video, uploaded a few days ago by stop-motion animator and Vimeo user William Osbourne. This is so good it practically redeems the sheer craptacity of the original.
 

 
After the jump, the original, as if you need a refresher on how truly awful it was…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
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