– this special has a higher rating on IMDb than Home Alone, proof Chris Columbus faulted by not hiring Charo to play Macaulay Culkin’s mom
– Spellcheck knows “Macaulay” but not “Culkin”
– it’s just now dawning on me that despite his physical adultosity Pee Wee Herman is supposed to be a child and therefore lacks the maturity to always make correct judgments or decisions; it helps to consider this when viewing, for one minute PW is telling us that giving to others is the real meaning of Christmas and the next he’s enslaving Frankie & Annette to draw his Xmas cards so he can play in the snow with Magic Johnson
– every celebrity you’d expect to appear on a Pee Wee Herman Christmas special from 1988 does: Cher, Little Richard, Dinah Shore, Zsa Zsa Gabor, the Del Rubio Triplets, k.d. lang, and Grace Jones (who arrives en route to a White House visit; because she is Grace Jones, however, she is traveling via the U.S. postal system in an oversized Christmas present box; probably cheaper than a plane ticket)
– similarly, every “Playhouse” regular you’d expect to appear does: Pterri, Randy, Chairy, Floory, Konky, Miss Yvonne, the King of Cartoons, Reba, Cowboy Curtis, Clocky, the Countess, Cool Cat, Chicky Baby, Dirty Dog, Penny, the dinosaurs in the wall (who are Jewish!), and of course Billy Bologna (my personal favorite for reasons I will never be able to fully convey/understand)
– this is the tv special that birthed the famed “Feliz Navi-blah” exchange; Ricardo does a great job keeping his patience as Pee Wee butchers his native language (does PW even go to school or is he just another dirty uneducated backwoods truant?)
– there’s a scene where Randy, the obnoxious marionette whose usual rap is cruelly teasing Pee Wee/the Playhouse denizens, attempts to make a point about the commercialization of Christmas; PW counters with something like, “Fine, then we won’t give you any gifts!”, which prompts Randy to backtrack; I don’t know why I expected PW to acknowledge Randy’s point or allow the least likable character to engineer a teaching moment, I don’t even know why PW lets Randy live in his Playhouse when all he does is disagree with and shit on everyone else (I have to assume they’re brothers and they were willed into joint ownership of the Playhouse)
– Joan Rivers cameos for a nanosecond from the set of “Hollywood Squares,” the only indication all of this is taking place in “the real world”
– Little Richard should have received an Emmy/Golden Globe/extra pinky ring for his dramatic “I quit ice skating!” speech
– the climax of “Xmas @ PWP” occurs when Santa Claus shows up to basically announce he’s canceling Christmas because Pee Wee asked for too many toys; this could have been the tipping point for PW’s transformation into complete sociopath, but (SPOILER ALERT) the man-child quickly remembers “the true meaning” of 12/25
– at first the fruitcake jokes seem like they aren’t going anywhere, but trust me, they pay off in a marvelous visual gag
– they should have added another hour to this gaudy cheese-fest and released it theatrically in place of Big Top Pee Wee
– if you’re forcing a grade out of me, how about A for vision, B for execution
– speaking of execution, I’d like to see Randy die in the electric chair
– they’ve finally discovered the best way to move a robot around the desert: glue it to a beach ball
– every single film made in this day and age must feature a sequence that takes place in the rear of a cargo plane; if you don’t like it, move to Siberia
– yo, that girl is driving a giant stick of deodorant
– yo, that lightsaber has a mustache
– YOU WANTED THE BEST YOU GOT THE BEST THE HOTTEST SPACESHIP IN THE GALAXY THE MILLENNIUM FALCON [guitar solo]
– can America accept a Millennium Falcon with a square satellite dish?
– no shot of C-3PO clasping hands w/ Chewbacca a la Predator?
– this entire movie might take place in one afternoon on the last day of school (excuse me, the last day of space school)
– overall these table scraps make Star Wars 7 look reasonably exciting; guess I should start working on the Bib Fortuna costume I will wear when I camp out for opening night
– on the other hand, if I find out Max Rebo isn’t in this I’m switching to Battlestar Galactica (the original, with Dirk Benedict)
My name is James Greene, Jr. (please, call me James) and I am a freelance writer. My work has appeared in such storied publications as Crawdaddy!, Orlando Weekly, New York Press, PopMatters, Splitsider, Geek Monthly, Nerve, and Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader. I also wrote the liner notes to Gluecifer’s best of/rarities album Kings Of Rock (currently out of print).
The one book to my name is This Music Leaves Stains: The Complete Story Of The Misfits. Please to be consulting the This Music Leaves Stains F.A.Q. for pertinent details. According to the Austin Chronicle I “pull no punches” as I “accurately and respectfully” relate the tale of New Jersey’s most celebrated punk rockers. According to Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster my book is good enough to photograph yourself with at an airport.
Personals: I was born and raised in the southwest corner of Connecticut, the Nutmeg State. Oh, what a state of nutmeg in which we lived and breathed. Brooklyn, Albany, and Florida have also been home. I’ve never been married and I’ve never owned land. I’ve also never had my tonsils out. I had a dog once. Her name was Minnie. I fed her carrot sticks.
I have a BA in organizational communication from the University of Central Florida. Yes, the college where they shot “Superboy.” Somehow Disney still reigns as Orlando’s most popular tourist destination.
You can hear the sound of my voice on Yaxzon Jackson, the podcast wherein I discuss Michael Jackson’s Dangerous with Rollie Hatch.
That’s all for now. Thanks for visiting.
– following my umpteenth multi-season binge I have to lock “Larry Sanders” in as my second favorite tv program ever; it pulls off the show-within-a-show concept masterfully, presenting top tier Hollywood parody along side deft exploration of humanity’s awkward, painful flashes (Garry Shandling says “Sanders” is really about people searching for love, and he’s right)
– my first favorite tv program ever is “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast,” which takes the “Sanders” concept and swaps humanity for outer space-themed absurdity (elsewhere in my top five: “The Simpsons,” “Duckman”)
– for a program that ran from ’92 until ’98 it’s hard to sniff out any super dated aspects of “Sanders”; that said, it’s trippy to see the episode where they let a pre-“Daily Show” Jon Stewart take over for Larry and he runs everything into the ground, considering he did the exact opposite in real life
– I’m never prepared for that Garry Shandling/Roseanne make-out scene, and I mean that in the best way; you really get caught up in their attraction (similarly, the Mary Lynn Rajskub/Jeffrey Tambor kissing scene that you expect to be weird turns out very sweet)
– so many great little character flourishes pop up once and are never mentioned again, like Artie’s enjoyment of Pod era Breeders and the fact Paula cuts Darlene’s hair
– watch this show for too long and your head will reverberate with all of Rip Torn’s thunderous growling
– my brain would collapse into its own black hole if you asked me to name my favorite “Sanders” guest star; David Duchovny’s up there, Roseanne’s up there, Bruno Kirby’s up there, Paul Mooney, the Butthole Surfers, Wu Tang Clan, Kevin Nealon…I can already feel neurons dying
– if the holodeck from “Star Trek” was real I’d spend a stupid amount of time lounging around Larry’s office
– my favorite line from this series and possibly from television as a whole is when an exasperated Larry tells Artie, “You know, talking to you is like talking to you”; that’s a top three contender for inscription on my headstone
– my roommate acquired a secondhand copy of this game recently and invited me to play it “whenever”; this is a dangerous thing to say to an underemployed freelance writer
– for all of GTA V’s realism and expertly rendered landscapes it’s still just a dumb video game, something outlined clearly when you want your character to jump a fence but it’s too high so his gangly body just slams against it like a fish out of water (another good example: get enough cop cars chasing you and the game becomes The Blues Brothers in terms of police vehicles soaring through the air and recklessly slamming into things)
– every in-game radio station plays the same five or six songs over and over and over again, which is very true to life
– GTA V uses the T.S.O.L. song “Abolish Government/Silent Majority” on one radio station, but considering the objectives of the game maybe they should have gone with “Property Is Theft?”
– I’ve never been to L.A. so I can’t speak to the accuracy of the game’s Los Santos facsimile; it seems legit, but at the same time certain portions appear to be modeled after specific blocks or areas in other lesser celebrated cities, which maybe the designers did on purpose re: hometown pride?
– the coolest auto I have grand thefted so far is a lifeguard’s pickup truck, which is the closest GTA V comes to offering an Ectomobile (yes, I know there are codes/mods you can put in to make an Ectomobile, but come on, I’m a thirty-five year old ex-gamer who dipped before Super Nintendo came out, I’m lucky to have figured out what all the XBox buttons do)
– according to this game there are vicious mountain lions waiting just off the California freeway, desperate for their next taste of human flesh; if they ever make GTA Connecticut they’re gonna have to change that to deer ticks
– one thing you definitely cannot do in GTA V is throw it all away to become a dancer; you can go into the strip club but you cannot climb up on the stage to show everyone your stuff a la Magic Mike, which is total fucking bullshit and forces me to give this game a C
The chilling climax of Assisted Living Dracula, which did not make the list.
Since I wrote a book about a horror punk band maybe people care to know my favorite horror movies. Emphasis on “maybe.” It’s understandable if you’re only here killing time until the next dumb cat video.
AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)
So close to perfection you can barely talk about it. Seems like the most accurate portrayal of what lycanthropy might be like (see: uncontrollable gore, psychological fraying, corpse humor). David Naughton and Griffin Dunne are genius together, the Hope and Crosby of onscreen bloodshed.
THE BAT (1926)
Bob Kane copped much of Bruce Wayne’s alter ego from this story, and it’s not hard to see why. Such striking imagery, thick atmosphere (particularly for a movie that takes place almost entirely in one house). The Bat is the best pre-Burton Dark Knight, though this flying rodent has no heroic intent.
THE BLACK CAT (1934)
Lugosi. Karloff. A torturous secret. Great suspense. Delicious turns from two spook masters. Should be up there with Dracula, Frankenstein, et al.
EVIL DEAD 2 (1987)
Gonzo horror at its finest. Could you breathe the first time you watched this one? Bruce Campbell delivers a career-defining performance. Makes Elm Street look like “Sesame Street,” Friday The 13th look like Nancy Drew.
Bonkers carnival movie that also succeeds at skewering our country’s sick tabloid culture. Funny, sardonic, but I can’t stand to even glance at Alex Winter in that mutant bat makeup. Also, those giant sentient eyeballs with arms and legs (that are also Jamaican for some reason) wig me out.
The ultimate power trip: harnessing the fury of the atom to capture evil spirits for profit. Only bureaucracy stands in our heroes’ way. Even when it does, they still have that boss car and an endless stream of wisecracks.
The first time we realized William Shatner’s pasty visage could be an instrument of evil. What’s more horrifying, though: the anonymous killer hunting teenagers or the fact these teens have no grasp of local history?
Frightening beyond belief because there is no supernatural element. Sharks are real, and there’s nothing fantastical about them nibbling on a human.
Max Schreck’s makeup is amazing and his movements are hypnotizing. On top of that, Murnau’s direction is wonderfully feverish. None of it seems real. Sticks in your craw like the best kind of haunting.
It’s a testament to this film’s genius that so many decades and parodies later you can still watch it and hope against hope that Anthony Perkins is innocent. The score might be the greatest in horror history. The entire score, that is, not just the “ei ei ei ei!” part.
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925)
Everything is sort of romantic and intriguing until Lon Chaney’s mask comes off. Then the fur starts flying. Unlike most modern horror movies where the titular evil is allowed to escape in case of sequel, here we get to watch a zealous crowd beat their ghoulish tormenter to death. Cathartic.
“The Simpsons” made a joke out of “can’t sleep, clown will eat me,” but in Poltergeist that terror is all too real. Ground zero for the movement against all grease-painted jesters. Not that I’m downplaying the movie’s bigger theme: manufactured communities are evil, as are those who develop them.
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991)
Not traditionally in this genre but sneaks in thanks to its bleakness. Two robots fighting over the seed of the only woman who has foreseen the apocalypse. Of course no one believes her, so they have her committed. Also, one robot is comprised of an indestructible liquid. Any way we can downgrade to evil clowns?
Please feel free to bombard me with angry comments and angrier e-mails concerning the lack of Leprechaun movies on this list.
– I have no affinity for the first Grease but my house mates were watching this last night and I have an iron clad rule about always stopping to view anything with Eddie Deezen
– Michelle Pfeiffer often resembles Deborah Harry in her role as Stephanie, which is probably no accident; according to Grease 2 lore (now there’s a phrase) the filmmakers approached Harry for the female lead but Deb felt she was too old to be playing a high schooler (never mind that everyone in Grease 2 is too old to be playing a high schooler save Pamela Adlon)
– if we’re to believe this movie, the sport of bowling is an alien concept to the British and they need guidebooks just to have conversations about it
– if we’re to believe this movie, Adrian Zmed is a fucking great singer
– Eddie Deezen is only in Grease 2 for about three minutes and does not seem to be present at the final graduation scene (spoiler alert); this must mean Deezen’s character flunked out or died…we’ll never know for sure, though, because plans for Greases 3 & 4 were scrapped after this one imploded at the box office
– can you imagine the suffocating reheated hell of a Grease 4?
– it’s incredible how absolutely bland the music is in this high profile major studio musical; Michelle Pfeiffer’s big number is called “Cool Rider,” about how she wants to date a cool rider (of motorcycles), making “Greased Lightning” from the first movie look like Chaucer
– Tab Hunter is in this; yes, they make him sing, but he emerges unscathed
– of course the action climaxes in a motorcycle melée/pie fight that breaks out in the middle of a homecoming luau, but since this is Grease 2 the entire set piece is less exciting than a trip to Big Lots
– if you’re in the market to make ninety minutes feel like five hours, run don’t walk to the nearest copy of Grease 2
– if you’re in the market for gratuitous Deezen, take your ass to War Games