Friday Fright Night B Movie-O-Rama: Spider Baby!

Lon Chaney Jr

Lon Chaney Jr

And me stone-cold sober!

It’s time for a seriously cheesy, seriously un-serious movie starring one of the Great Old Ones of Hollywood: Lon Chaney Jr. He had a Freudianer, or at least Oedipalier time of it than most, as his father will be forever famous for his portrayals of various costumed monsters. Lon Jr started that way, too, as name recognition is quite useful when it comes to starting a career sometimes; he even changed his name from Creighton Tull Chaney to Lon Jr. He had to wait till his father was safely dead before stepping into his shoes, though. Soon enough he proved himself as a character actor and even, when cleaned up, a leading man, in one of my favorite oldie melodramas, The Shadow of Silk Lennox. But it was just so easy to get jobs in horror films.

His particular niche was slightly dumb, generably amiable, inadvertently sinister character roles. There were quite a lot of them to go around, too. Basically if it was insufficiently classy for Boris Karloff, Chaney got it. He’s most famous for playing the Wolf Man, although to my taste the Spaniard Paul Naschy was better at that role.

Here he is as the faithful servant of a decayed and sinister family in the weirdly mod (check out those opening credits!) 1967 horror flick Spider Baby, or The Maddest Story Ever Told! Someone needs to make an Austin Powers version of this, seriously. Or at least a Scooby Doo one.

In a dilapidated rural mansion, the last generation of the degenerate, inbred Merrye family lives with the inherited curse of a disease that causes them to mentally regress from the age of 10 or so on as they physically develop. The family chauffeur looks out for them and covers up their indiscretions. Trouble comes when greedy distant relatives and their lawyer arrive to dispossess the family of its home.

Bonus: CAROL OHMART! You remember her! From the Vincent Price 1959 classic The House on Haunted Hill (the one that was actually filmed IN the house reputed to be haunted)? She played the conniving trophy wife. Of COURSE she did; just look at her! Anyway, she’s another leading lady who could act rings around most, and who never enjoyed the success she deserved.

Carol Ohmart should have stayed a pantherian brunette rather than a leonine blonde

Carol Ohmart should have stayed a pantherian brunette rather than a leonine blonde

The suggested cocktail pairing with tonight’s gruesome entertainment is the White Spider Cocktail. Oh yes, there’s another version, but it’s made with vodka and therefore clearly inferior. We’ll wait while you mix yourself one…

White Spider

1 ounce Gin
1 ounce Lemon Juice
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 tsp Simple Syrup

Combine ingredients with ice in cocktail shaker. Give it a few vigorous shakes and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

There, ready? Click to enjoy Spider Baby or The Maddest Story Ever Told in full!

Tomorrow: NOT going to be another day

Davy Jones RIP

They're real and they're spectacular!

RIP Davy Jones, the first of the Monkees to make it to that center stage spotlight in the sky.

Just like every cute British kid who could act and sing, he played the title role in Oliver when he was young. When he was just a little bit older, he was chosen to form 25% of Menudo 1.0, the Monkees. A synthetic, cynical response to the popularity of the Beatles, the band turned out to be not 50% bad indeed, and when Rebecca Black referenced “Pleasant Valley Sunday” in her symphony of clusterfuckery, “Friday,” it could well have been the blow that started Davy on the road to his eventual expiration.

When my friend told me Davy was dead, at first I didn’t believe her.

And then I saw her face.

Bonsai Kitten 2011!

bonsai pint kitten is a full 20 ounces

bonsai pint kitten is a full 20 ounces

Are you old enough to remember back in the days of Pet Rocks, when the biggest act in the world was the Osmonds and everyone and his dad (literally) collected Bonsai Kittens? Ah, those were the days (of Naugahyde and ponchos).

Sadly, after a brief but ubiquitous burst of popularity, the flame of the Bonsai Kitten‘s fame flickered and died, having only a brief revival once the Web had been invented and they could suddenly do mail order. Since then, they’ve been relegated to the back rooms of curiosity shops and the less reputable kitten mills of remote Mongolia.

All that is about to change, my friends.

Announcing the Self-Bonsai Kitten!

Isn’t that fantastic? Instead of growing Bonsai Kittens the old way, by hand, you can now purchase one of the specially bred kittehs who will auto-bonsai when presented with the proper receptacle.

No more this:

Bonsai Kitteh does not want to bonsai

Bonsai Kitteh does not want to bonsai

And we stumble gaily towards a world where everything, even our Bonsai Kittehs, are automatic.

The Seventh Seal Party Conga Line

The Seventh Seal Party Conga Line

Anon and On

Anonymous vs the Police which is not exactly a new thing

Anonymous vs the Police which is not exactly a new thing

Dear Nonymite: you do realize you’re flipping off the photographer, not the cops, right? Jesus, EVERYONE hates the paparazzi!

Compare and contrast to our earlier Nony in London:

Work it, V!

Work it, V!

This is a democracy! VOTE, DAMMIT!!!

Whichever you prefer, the mere existence of Anonymous reminds us that the present moment, yes, this exact moment, is one that has never come before, and will never exist again. It won’t be long until existing power structures have either shattered into a new, digital Brownian Motion model of solipsistic yet collaborative civilization OR the fascists have infiltrated and wiped out the free thinkers, resulting in something akin to the Orwellian KleptoReich that Putin’s got going in Russia.

And that, my friends, reminds me of this, from the great prophet Hunter S. Thompson. Think carefully about these words, because for just this particular second of time, they apply again.

“It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run… but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant…

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of ‘history’ it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time — and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights — or very early mornings — when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour… booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turnoff to take when I got to the other end… but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: no doubt at all about that…

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda… You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning…

And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply PREVAIL. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave…

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

Where will you be when it does?

UPDATED: a couple of hours after I posted this, I found the following video, which claims to lay out the one-year plan of Anonymous. Presenting The Plan:

“While the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power.”

I have a copy of the Manual of Afghani Jihad (the CIA translation) and selections from the Japanese Kamikaze documents, and said back then that if we in the West had any documents as spiritually compelling as those, we would have no alienated teens, no existential crises. It’s literally unthinkable to most people in the affluent nations that their individual lives could actually have meaning; why is this so, when their nations wield the greatest financial and political power on the planet? When they enjoy personal freedoms undreamed-of in most of civilization and throughout history? Why is this, when destitute citizens of the poorest states on Earth change history every day as if it’s their birthright?

And it is.

Could this video and plan from Anonymous actually be That Call, the call to the hearts of the people of the West, for which we have been waiting?

Only you can answer that.

The Greatest Musical Performance of All Time and Space, in Any Universe, Anywhere

I think I have that outfit at home, actually

I think I have that outfit at home, actually

Pretty much. Oh, you have your Rebecca Blacks. You have your Posh Spices. But you could have a whole Spice Rack of untalented songbirds, put them all together, and they still wouldn’t sound anywhere near as bad as this:

That is the immortal Jonathan Edwards on piano, accompanying his showstopper of a vocalizing wife, Darlene, performing the Bee Gee’s greatest tune, Stayin’ Alive. That’s “vocalizing” like Siamese cats vocalize when you slam their tales in car doors. And you have Bunk Strutts to thank for the fact that I have a new favorite musical act.


Jonathan and Darlene Edwards, explained. Sorta
Jonathan and Darlene Edwards, explained. Sorta

Jonathan and Darlene Edwards will always work. Some people have no tolerance for failed art. It just gives them goosebumps. The enlightened mind, however, has boundless appreciation for an artist putting him/herself out there and failing spectacularly. Even though the Edwardses (real names: were Jo Stafford and Paul Weston) were perfectly functional pro musicians (he pianoed while she sang), they are remembered now for acting clueless. The tragedy of artistic failure is deeply funny to me – even when faked – and it takes an artist of great courage to pretend they are completely inept. Apart from music like this, such failure can be found in Mystery Science Theater and various portfolio submissions from job applicants, but for differing reasons.

Jonathan and Darlene were truly underappreciated in their own time, despite a grammy win in 1960, but enjoyed a late renaissance in the Seventies with the release of this epic effort, along with the very of-its-time “I Am Woman.”