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Bizarre Japanese TV commercial for dog-shaped speakers starring Quentin Tarantino
01:03 pm


Quentin Tarantino

Americans have long found Japanese advertisements peculiar—the “Mr. Sparkle” commercial parody from The Simpsons (“I am disrespectful to dirt!”) is certainly an excellent representation of why we regard them as so strange.

In this 2009 commercial for a Japanese telecom named SoftBank, renowned director and would-be actor Quentin Tarantino makes his best pitch at being the Mickey Rooney of his generation (watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s if you don’t get that reference) when he dons a kimono, waves his hands around martial arts-style, and says a few words in Japanese.

The product in the commercial is a cell phone speaker shaped like a dog, which is SoftBank’s mascot. The dog is actually the patriarch of the family featured in SoftBank’s commercials. They are known as “the White Family,” and as David Griner observes, the family consists of “the most popular recurring commercial characters in Japan” in which “the father is a human in a dog’s body ... the son is a black American, and their maid is an alien incarnation of Tommy Lee Jones.” Hooo-kay! But then again, try summarizing any Geico commercial and you end up in Weird Town pretty fast.

See it for yourself, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Damn fine teeny-tiny ‘Twin Peaks’ dioramas

A diorama based on Agent Dale Cooper’s dream about the ‘Red-Room’ from David Lynch’s 1990 television series ‘Twin Peaks.’
An artist based in Babenhausen, Germany named “Kristina” is currently selling her super-small DIY Twin Peaks diorama sets that come in three different versions based on scenes from the original television series that made its debut over 25 years ago.

A tiny David Lynch is included with this version of ‘Red-Room’ diorama.
Available in her Etsy store Boxartig you can pick up what Kristina refers to as “Dodos” of Agent Dale Cooper’s dream about the Red-Room, a scene from Lydecker Veterinary Clinic that features Agent Cooper and a Llama getting acquainted; and a grim miniature recreation of the body of Laura Palmer resting on the beach wrapped in plastic. While they are pricey ($58-$94 bucks a pop) they are really well done and it’s my hope that the talented German artist will continue to create others as I’m quite sure the one’s currently available at Boxartig will quickly disappear (the Lydecker’s Vet diorama already has).

Images of Kristina’s tiny homages to Twin Peaks follow.

A diorama based on the Lydecker Veterinary Clinic in ‘Twin Peaks.’

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Witty and macabre Addams Family coloring book from 1965
03:13 pm


coloring books
Addams Family

I’ve been following that “pick 3 fictional characters to represent you” game on Facebook with great pleasure. I’m dead certain that more than a few people in the Dangerous Minds readership have picked Morticia Addams as one of their role models….. then there’s Wednesday, I"ll bet Wednesday made some lists…. or Gomez? How about Gomez? Give Gomez some love!

The Raul Julia/Anjelica Huston movies of the 1990s were all well and good, but for me nothing beats the eccentric and buoyant Addams Family TV series of the 1960s. (We mustn’t, however, forget the essential contributions made by Charles Addams in the pages of The New Yorker.) John Astin and Carolyn Jones were pitch-perfect as the morbid and independent-minded heads of family. Just yesterday we featured some death-obsessed cartoons that succeeded in getting readers’ attention, but really, who beats the Addams Family at that game?

Nobody, that’s who.

This charming coloring book was produced in 1965, the second year of the series, with a bitchin’ color cover. My favorite page here is the one with the caption “Touché, Darling!” because the joke, as far as I can tell, is simply that they’re weird because they enjoy fencing in the middle of the day, while the rest of the world is at work. No wonder the Addams Family are such great role models!


More excellent Addams Family images after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Siskel and Ebert give ‘Faces of Death’ two thumbs down, 1987
09:16 am


Roger Ebert
Gene Siskel
Faces of Death

The 1980s were marked by a spike in parental crusades—the widespread “satanic panic” of the day has been well-noted, and Tipper Gore’s Parents Music Resource Center seeking to censor or label music acts like Prince, AC/DC, Madonna, and Judas Priest, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving looking to raise the legal drinking age as well as other measures.

The arrival of video rental shops in many towns in America created an opening for a parental panic over “video nasties,” which is to say, exploitative and cheaply made videocassettes selling little more than death and human dismemberment under the cover of regular horror movies, of which the Faces of Death series was the best known example. Faces of Death purported to be a documentation of people in the act of experiencing death in various ways, with dubious veracity. Some were clearly quite real.

In 1987 the two best known movie critics in America tackled the issue head-on in a segment of Siskel & Ebert. In the segment they warn parents that the “video nasty” trend is infiltrating video stores, with irredeemably violent movies masquerading as more conventional horror fare. Siskel says that the genre describes movies that are “full of blood and guts—sometimes real, sometimes faked.”

As soon as I heard the term “video nasty” in connection with this show, I had the hunch that only the British would invent a term like that, and I was right. “Video nasty” was a term invented in the U.K. to refer to violent movies distributed on videocassette that came under fire for their content. A group called the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association (NVLA) popularized the term in the early 1980s. Essentially, the furor over “video nasties” in the U.K. led directly to the imposition of a rating system.

The Director of Public Prosecutions released a list of movies with the goal of “prosecuting” them under the Obscene Publications Act 1959. According to Wikipedia, “39 films were successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act but some of these films have been subsequently cut and then approved for release by the BBFC [British Board of Film Classification].” The list of movies prosecuted by the DPP included Faces of Death, Gestapo’s Last Orgy, Cannibal Holocaust, Abel Ferrara’s The Driller Killer, and Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein

“The most popular nasty of them all,” says Siskel, “is a piece of trash called Faces of Death.” Obviously the Siskel and Ebert look at Faces of Death is not a regular review at all, merely an instantiation of the general thesis under discussion, that more parents need to be alarmed by “video nasties.” Still, Siskel and Ebert review movies, so they do show an obviously faked clip of a supposedly lethal bear attack, and then return to the studio to comment on how obviously fake it was.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Jack Kirby’s unpublished adaptation of ‘The Prisoner’

Jack Kirby was the man who imagined our world of superheroes. In partnership with Stan Lee and Joe Simon, Kirby created the likes of Captain America, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor, Doctor Doom, the Black Panther and many, many others.

Kirby’s input had a bigger and longer lasting effect than just the words or concept. His drawings helped shape our worldview—for he was the artist who created the look of these superheroes. When we think of Captain America or Iron Man—we’re seeing these characters through the prism of Kirby’s imagination.

Jack Kirby was born in New York to an Austrian-Jewish immigrant family in 1917. Though life was poor and tough, Kirby had an inkling he was going to be an artist. Hardly the sort of work for a working class kid from the Lower East Side—but Kirby had a compulsion that made him draw. He started doodling, then sketching, and then drawing full comic strips. He knew he would never be a Rembrandt or a Gauguin but he did know that he would become an artist. He took to drawing comics because the comic strip was the art of the working man. Kirby later recalled:

I thought comics was a common form of art and strictly American in my estimation because America was the home of the common man, and show me the common man that can’t do a comic. So comics is an American form of art that anyone can do with a pencil and paper.

His talent for drawing led to his early career as a graphic artist. He created single panel health advice cartoons such as Your Health Comes First!!! and various advisory comic strips. When Kirby switched jobs to Fox Feature Syndicate, he teamed up with Joe Simon—together they created Captain America.

After the Second World War Kirby worked for DC Comics and then Marvel—where his legendary partnership with Stan Lee was responsible for creating our world of superheroes—a world comparable to the myths of ancient Greece. However, disagreements with Lee over credit, led Kirby to quit Marvel and rejoin DC in the late 1960s, where he produced his superb Fourth World series.

In 1968, Kirby became obsessed with a new TV series called The Prisoner. The series depicted a spy relocated to a mysterious island where he is interrogated for information. As an anti-authoritarian libertarian, Kirby identified with the central character No. 6 played by Patrick McGoohan. Kirby said the series represented: individual’s stubborn attempts to wrest freedom from subtle but oppressive power.

This was analogous to his view of politics as well as his creative relationships with others—most notably Stan Lee.

In the early 1970s, Marvel decided to produce a comic book version of The Prisoner. Marvel’s then editor Marv Wolfman set Steve Englehart and Gil Kane to work on it. However, Stan Lee—knowing how much Kirby liked the series—intervened and asked him to work on the comic book.

Kirby produced a complete first issue lifted directly from the series’ first episode “Arrival.” Unlike his other work, Kirby’s The Prisoner is an almost faithful retelling of the TV show. The finished drawings were partially inked and lettered by Mike Royer–but the idea was dropped and the comic never saw light of day.
Read the rest of Jack Kirby’s ‘The Prisoner,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
That ‘Star Trek’ episode where Jack the Ripper takes over the Enterprise so everyone gets super high
09:08 am


Star Trek
Jack the Ripper

I didn’t want to write this post, but the burden of TV history weighs heavy on my shoulders. The 50th anniversary of Star Trek came and went, and in all the fanfare, I saw no mention of the original series’ single most bizarre episode. Forget the one where they’re back in the 1920s, or the one where they’re at the O.K. Corral with Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, or the one where Kirk and Spock fight Genghis Khan alongside Abraham Lincoln; this right here is the goods.

Before last night, I hadn’t seen “Wolf in the Fold” for about 30 years. I watched it again to make sure my memory was accurate, and I can confirm that this is without a doubt the most insane episode of Star Trek that ever made it to the screen. It is actually even weirder than I remembered. A space séance is involved.

I don’t want to give away much more of the plot, but you’ll see what I mean if I set it up briefly. Kirk, Bones, and Scotty go whoring on the “hedonistic” planet Argelius II, which looks just like foggy London town. Next thing you know, Scotty’s standing over a dead belly dancer with a bloody knife in his hand. Kirk asks what kind of legal process they have in this jerkwater, when the Prefect, making a grand entrance, declares: 

The law of Argelius is love.

Then comes the Jack the Ripper business and the whole crew getting messy on tranks. And there is so much more I’m deliberately leaving out.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘Alice Cooper à Paris’: His totally cracked-out 1982 French TV special
10:14 am


Alice Cooper

Poster for Alice Cooper’s 1982 French tour
Though the man himself doesn’t remember much of it, heavy Alice fans of my acquaintance adore his new wave period. It’s been some years since I worked in a record store, but I bet you can still pick up most of these albums for a song: Flush the Fashion, where AC out-Numans Numan on “Clones”; Special Forces, the one with the manic cover of Love’s “7 And 7 Is”; Zipper Catches Skin, where Alice’s dead dog comes back to life to save him from getting run over by a truck; and the no-shit start-to-finish masterpiece DaDa, which reunited the singer with writing partner Dick Wagner and producer Bob Ezrin.

To promote the French leg of the Special Forces tour, Alice and band filmed this hourlong TV special in France. Roughly the first two-thirds consists of promo films they made on the cheap in the Republic’s wrecking yards, escalators, Métro stations and meat lockers. Then, after a gag “interview” by a really familiar French journalist named “Vincent Furnier,” there follows a TV studio recreation of the Alice Cooper live experience as it was in 1982.

To be sure, these are not the definitive versions of classics like “Generation Landslide” and “Eighteen.” However, I think this video for “Clones,” filmed in front of a heap of junked cars with the band holding a bedsheet and AC wrapped in duct tape, lays waste to the official one they made with a smoke machine, a wardrobe and a second camera. And director Agnès Delarive’s sequencing and setting of “Cold Ethyl” and “Only Women Bleed” is inspired.

Skeleton Alice and his ‘82 band mime “Model Citizen” in a Métro station
If you’re wondering why Alice looks like a moldering cadaver in this footage, check out Supermensch, the documentary about the improbable life of manager Shep Gordon that’s still streaming on Netflix. There (unless it’s Super Duper Alice Cooper I’m thinking of), Alice is pretty open about the cubic miles of freebase smoke he was sucking down during the early ‘80s. (No fool, Gordon stuck to slam-dancing with Mr. Greenjeans, as I’m sure he affirms in his new memoir, They Call Me Supermensch. “Let’s burn another one soon, Shep,” Willie Nelson says in his blurb.)

See it, after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Stranger Peaks: Someone mashed-up ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Twin Peaks’ themes AND IT WORKS!
01:36 pm


Twin Peaks
Stranger Things

I’m going assume by now you’re all completely done with the Stranger Things hoopla. I know I am. Yet here I am blogging about the damned Netflix TV show again. I sorta kinda really wanna kick myself over it right now. I do.  But this mash-up is just too good not to share with you fine folks. Seattle-based Prom Queen on SoundCloud mashed together the theme from Stranger Things with Twin Peaks “Laura Palmer’s Theme.” It’s synth nostalgia heaven, if you ask me. Who knows, you might actually like it and not hate me for bringing up Stranger Things again.

Last time I do this. Promise. Until next time…

Just kidding! (No I’m not.)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
That time Alice Cooper moved next door to Gene Wilder

Alice Cooper and Gene Wilder on the set of the short-lived TV sitcom ‘Something Wilder’ in 1995.
After Gene Wilder’s passing last week I’ve been trying to clap my eyes on anything from Wilder’s long cinematic career. I even rewatched 1974’s classic Young Frankenstein even though I could recite lines from that film in my sleep. Today I’m really excited to share with you one of my finds: an episode from Wilder’s sadly short-lived mid-90s sitcom on NBC Something Wilder guest-starring none other than Alice Cooper playing himself as Wilder’s annoying neighbor.

Gene Wilder, Alice Cooper and Wilder’s TV wife actress Hilary B. Smith on the set of the fourteenth episode of ‘Something Wilder.’
On what would be one of the last Something Wilder shows (the fourteenth episode called “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper”) Cooper moves in next door to Wilder’s character “Gene Bergman” and since this is Alice Cooper we’re talking about, things don’t go so well. For Gene.

After being kept up all night listening to the same song being blasted out of Cooper’s windows over and over again Wilder heads over in his adorable plaid robe to see what’s happening. And again, since this is Alice Cooper we’re talking about, Wilder walks in on a wild party that includes a tall red-headed dominatrix, a rat and for some reason a juggler (Now that’s kinky....) After hearing of Wilder’s death, Cooper posted this heartfelt message on his Facebook page about his experience working with one of the greatest screen comedians of our time:

I count working with Gene Wilder on his TV sitcom Something Wilder to be one of the most precious memories of my entire career. Doing ‘one on one’ comedy with Gene was like jamming with the Beatles. It doesn’t get any better. Gene Wilder is IRREPLACEABLE and will always be an American treasure.

I don’t want to give anything else away but if you love the image of Cooper and Wilder at the top of this post, there’s more where that came from. I don’t recall seeing the show myself back in the mid-90s, but seeing it now made my day. Since Something Wilder had such a short run and never really connected with an audience, the show hasn’t made its way to DVD yet.

Watch ‘Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper’ after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Hey Netflix, we need some ‘Swedish Dicks’ in our lives (and for once, that doesn’t mean porn)
09:44 am


Swedish Dicks

I spent the Labor Day weekend in Stockholm, and while I was there I noticed plentiful advertisements for a new Swedish TV series called Swedish Dicks, starring Peter Stormare as a private eye in Los Angeles. You probably know Stormare from his work for the Coen Bros., as taciturn Gaear Grimsrud in Fargo and the nihilistic Uli Kunkel in The Big Lebowski.

Swedish Dicks happened to have its premiere while I was in Sweden. The entertainment service that produced the show is called Viaplay and it’s sort of the Netflix of Sweden. Swedish Dicks is, in fact, the first show it’s ever produced.

I was intrigued enough by Swedish Dicks to get a subscription to Viaplay and check out the first two episodes, and I enjoyed what I saw. It’s nothing earth-shattering but it’s a diverting show, a fine start for the network. I think Americans would have an interest in seeing it.

Swedish Dicks is a comedy catering to a Swedish audience that is set in Los Angeles that has made some interesting choices in terms of keeping interest up among Americans. Aside from the two leads, Stormare and Johan Glans (who in this show at least exhibits a Rainn Wilson-y vibe), every actor in the show is played by an American, and the show is shot entirely in Los Angeles. All the dialogue is English except for the two-handed scenes featuring the two leads. Swedes are accustomed to watching American movies in English (often with subtitles), so the strategy makes sense for that audience. Meanwhile, were an entity like Netflix or Amazon to gobble it up, the show’s probably 70% English in the first place, so there are not many scenes at all that require subtitles. Plus, thanks to domestic shows like The Americans that make frequent use of subtitles, even U.S. viewers are becoming less resistant to the practice.

In Sweish Dicks, Stormare plays “Ingmar” as a cross between both the Dude and the Stranger from The Big Lebowski. Ingmar has been in the States awhile; he has a grown daughter who’s an attorney and disdains “Swedish” as a concept. Ingmar ends up taking on a partner named Axel (Glans), who is more of a naif. The show also features the contributions of Traci Lords and—remarkably—Keanu Reeves

Swedish Dicks has an easygoing B-movie quality that reminds me, variously, of The Nice Guys, Burn Notice, Seven Psychopaths, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. If you liked any of those, you’ll probably like this—just remember that it’s a comedy, not a drama. I’d say it elicited winces and laughs in about equal measure.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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