Saturday, October 21, 2017

Spooktober: The Skeleton Dance (1929)

Now, this will make your skin crawl.

Walt Disney's "The Skeleton Dance" was the initial entry in the Silly Symphonies series, and the biggest surprise, perhaps, is that acclaimed composer Carl Stalling, better known for his work at WB, not only composed most of the music for this short, but came up with the basic idea! Scope!



Elements of "Skeleton Dance" would later be reused in the Mickey Mouse short, "Haunted House", which apparently was also released in 1929. Hmmm.

Rating: A.

Krofftverse: The Lost Island (1978)

The other day, we presented one of the two regular features from the short-lived Krofft Superstar Hour, that being Horror Hotel. Now, here's the other feature, which was equally short-lived, The Lost Island.

H. R. Pufnstuf (voiced by Len Weinrib), Weenie the Genie (Billie Hayes, reprising from Lidsville), and Sigmund, far, far away from his sea monster family (Billy Barty, voice by Walker Edmiston) are stuck on the island, which also serves as a gateway to the Land of the Lost, as the stop motion footage looks like it may have been recycled from that series, which had only ended a year earlier, only to return in the 90's.

And, then, there is Dr. Deathray, formerly known as Dr. Shrinker (Jay Robinson). Similarly, Shrinker's assistant, Hugo (Barty) has been rechristened Otto. You'll notice that in this episode, Otto & Sigmund are never in the same scene together, else another actor would be wearing the Sigmund costume.

Anyway, Robinson chews up even more scenery than he did on Krofft Supershow two years earlier. Not good.

The plot to this episode: Pufnstuf is ill, and Weenie, along with Barbie (Louise DuArt), must find a cure. To do it, the ladies have to travel to the "City of the Doomed" (Land of the Lost),. where they meet the Sleestak king, Enik (voiced by Walker Edmiston). Unfortunately, Deathray is headed in the same direction, but on a completely different quest.......



Robinson must've had Rudy Vallee as a voice coach, they sound so similar. Seems as though the Kroffts picked the characters at random to use here, but viewers saw right through the disjointed format, which is why the series was trimmed to a half-hour after about a month or two, leaving the Bay City Rollers and the Horror Hotel skits.

Rating: D.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Krofftverse: The Lost Saucer crashes in Beautfiul Downtown Atlantis (1975)

Should it surprise anyone that the Kroffts would have their take on Atlantis? Of course not.

In this episode of The Lost Saucer, Fi (Ruth Buzzi) & Fum (Jim Nabors) have another malfunction that sends the saucer splashing into the underwater city.

Now, I'm not entirely sure if guest star Bob Quarry is the same guy who headlined a couple of horror movies as Count Yorga.........



We noted this before, but it bears repeating. Tommy Oliver, who arranged the theme song that was composed and sung by Michael Lloyd (ex-Cattanooga Cats), is better known for his own stints as a musical director for Name That Tune and Face The Music. Like, who knew?

Rating: B.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: A Ricochet Rabbit 4-pack (1964-5)

Following is a 4-episode block of Ricochet Rabbit, taken from a VHS release.

"Space Sheriff" (1965): Ricochet (Don Messick) & Droop-a-Long (Mel Blanc) travel to outer space to catch a monster of an outlaw.

"Cactus Ruckus" (1964): Droop's nephew, Tag-a-Long, drops by, so Ricochet tells him a tall tale about an earlier adventure.

"Big Town Show Down" (1964): A big city police chief (John Stephenson) sends for Ricochet to catch the Creep (Stephenson again) and his two simian bodyguards.

"West Pest" (1965): Ricochet squares off against Rocky Rattler.

Plus, a trivia segment.



Blanc voiced some of the outlaws by recycling his Yosemite Sam voice.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Toons You Might've Missed: Li'l Abner in Kickapoo Juice (1944)

Al Capp's backwoods hero, Li'l Abner, appeared in only 5 animated shorts, all produced by Columbia during Screen Gems' 1st go-round as a theatrical brand, and all in 1944. The first, "Kickapoo Juice", offers the origins of the oddball moonshine, which apparently was created by Hairless Joe and the Native American Lonesome Polecat.



Unfortunately, the black & white print is all that's available right now. Too bad no one's willing to take a chance today.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Spooktober: The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper (1996)

In the wake of the live action/CGI adaptation of Casper that starred Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci a year earlier, the Friendly Ghost returned to television after 16 years away in a mid-season replacement series that aired on Fox (and later, Fox Family).

As established in the movie, Casper's full name is Casper McFadden (voiced by Malachi Pearson), who died of pneumonia as a youth, and it seems he's smitten with young Kathleen "Kat" Harvey (Kath Soucie), whose father is a scientist. As we'll see in the first short, "Paranormal Press", Casper's school schedule isn't quite the same as Kat's, enabling him to join Kat at Friendship Junior High against her wishes, though she finds that he can be quite helpful.

I cannot recall if Spooky's girlfriend, Pearl, or, Poil, as Spooky always calls her, had appeared in the 1963 series. Here, though, she's presented as being a bit of an absent-minded airhead, contrary to her comic book portrayal as a domineering type. Spooky is established as being Casper's cousin, which I'm not sure might be the case in the books.

Kat has her share of struggles dealing with the mean girls in school, as we'll also see. The supporting cast also includes Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons, Aladdin) taking over for Bill Pullman as Dr. Harvey, and Ben Stein, one year before getting his Comedy Central game show, is heard as a teacher. Since this was a Universal-Harvey-Amblin co-production, some of the Amblin crew (i.e. Sherri Stoner) came over from Tiny Toon Adventures, Pinky & The Brain, & Animaniacs.

The lineup:

"Paranormal Press": Casper helps Kat start her journalism career at Friendship Jr. High, with predictable results.

"Another Spooky & Poil Moment": Spooky tries to impress his teacher, but Poil seems to be uncharacteristically fouling things up. Weak point of the show.

"Deadstock": Casper takes up the bagpipes, annoying Kat, but it leads to a concert....



I like the idea of Casper actually wearing clothes in this series as he tries to fit in. Fox farmed the show out to Fox Family (now Freeform as a Disney cabler) after ratings began to decline.

Rating: B (down from my original review).

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Mighty Man vs. Big Mouse & Magnetman (1979)

Mighty Man (Peter Cullen) was Ruby-Spears' answer to DC Comics' Atom, who was appearing occasionally over on Super Friends. Unfortunately, this mighty mite was not a scientist, but rather another Bruce Wayne knockoff, Brandon Brewster, whose best friend, his dog, Yukk (Frank Welker, using a variant on his Dynomutt voice) was the world's ugliest dog, such that he had a toy dog house cloaking his face.

Let's take a look at the duo's first two adventures from 1979. "Big Mouse, the Bad Mouse", and "Magnetman".



Pedestrian. Seems R-S were parodying themselves, since they created Dynomutt and Blue Falcon 3 years earlier.

Rating: C.