Reel Talk

The Invisible Man and the Power of Anonymity

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Happy Halloween everyone! That’s right, all those articles yesterday weren’t enough. I have more Halloween nonsense to talk about today. Because Halloween is a whole lot of fun. I love the holiday, although I will say that I do run into a bit of a snag with the holiday when it comes to celebrating with movies. Because I’m not really a horror guy. Sometimes it’s a matter of me being a big wuss with certain topics, but mostly I think it’s that I’m just not that interested in the genre. I definitely don’t find slasher movies interesting, or gore for the sake of gore, so that removes a whole lot of horror that I’m going to check out. Honestly the type of horror that I like most are films that rely more on suspense and dread than scares. Jump scares feel cheap to me, and they become more startling than scary. But there’s another type of horror movie that I do enjoy that barely qualify as “scary.” And that’s monster movies! Monster movies are the best you guys. It probably stems from a long standing obsession with Mystery Science Theater and their showcasing of terrible old monster movies, but I’ve always been pretty enthralled with people in ridiculous makeup running around and scaring people. When I was a kid I loved the classic Universal monsters, as they frequently showed up in cartoons and whatnot, and I found them along the same line as superheroes as fun modern mythological beings. However, I will say, there have been a lot of blindspots for me when it comes to the classic Universal movies. I’d seen most of them throughout my life, but there were a couple biggies that I had never seen before, and took the chance to check them out this year since I’m still trying to watch 366 movies I haven’t seen this year. Which led me to filling in those gaps with the classic horror movies, and finding some great stuff. And I watched a real great movie recently that I just had to talk about.

When you think about the Universal Monsters, there are some big ones that pop up in your mind. Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy, the Wolfman, and I guess the Gillman. But there are other movies that get lumped in with the Universal Monster label, that you maybe wouldn’t have guessed counted. And one of those was the Invisible Man. He’s not quite a monster, but apparently if it was a horror-ish film made by Universal in the thirties, it counts. And I’m not going to complain, because despite the fact that this movie didn’t feel all that much like the other Monster movies, this movie was fascinating.

I’ve kind of always been obsessed with the idea of the Invisible Man, probably ever since I saw that horrible League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie that featured an Invisible Man. I just thought that the idea of being invisible was really cool, and quickly read the HG Wells novel, not really sure what to expect. And what I got was not what I had assumed it would be. It wasn’t a rollicking adventure about a borderline superhero, it was a dark and twisted tale about a crazy man wrecking havoc on the world that he thought wronged him. Which is still pretty fascinating. It maybe was a little over my head as a kid, but I reread the novel during an odd summer that I spent reading a bunch of Victorian sci-fi like Dracula, Frankenstein, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and the Island of Dr. Moreau, because I was the coolest kid in the world. So of course I was going to be interested in seeing a cheesy old adaptation of the film from the 30’s.

And I wasn’t disappointed. The movie is actually a fairly faithful adaptation of the novel that at least got the tone down perfectly. It tells the tale of a scientist named Griffin who shows up at a small Inn one night, covered from head to toe in clothes and bandages. Everyone is sketched out by him, but they kind of deal with him despite he’s such a jerk. But things escalate when they go to evict Griffin for being such a slob, and they find out that the reason that he’s covered in bandages is because he’s invisible. Girffin freaks out that the people have found him like this, and he attacks people, fleeing into the night while cackling like a madman. We find out that Griffin has developed a serum that turns himself invisible, and that causes him to go insane, and that he has a plot to take over the world somehow with these abilities. He blackmails a colleague into becoming his assistant, and begins a reign of terror on the land, taking advantage of the fact that he’s so hard to catch. Unfortunately it turns out being invisible doesn’t also make you bullet-proof, so when a cop catches him and shoots him, his glorious reign is brought to a sad end as he dies visible and naked.

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So yeah, it’s the Invisible Man. The story isn’t an exact adaptation, but it’s still pretty close and definitely gets the feeling across. And I know that not everyone loves old films that are in black and white, but I have to tell you all, if you have any interest in visual effects you have to check this film out. I am utterly baffled at how they pulled so much of this movie off in 1933. This movie is a technical marvel that uses every advancement that they had at the time to create this wonderful little gem. There are some pretty basic effects that are clearly stings pulling things, but there are other shots that really blew me away. The practical effects on display in this movie are tremendous and really made this movie work, even in the modern age.

But the thing that I really wanted to talk about after watching this film was that there was an interesting bit of modern commentary in this episode, that obviously wasn’t intended. I feel like the real moral of both the film and the novel is kind of a combination of the general “science is scary” moral that stories from this timer period had, and the question of morality when invisible. That’s obviously not something that was coming up that frequently in the 1890’s or the 1930’s, so I suppose at the time it was more of a thought-experiment. The question of if people would remain moral and civil if people couldn’t see them. Which surely sounded ridiculous in the days before the internet. But now? This story is shockingly prescient. We live in a world where people regularly communicate to each other in anonymity, and guess what? More often than not people are like Griffin. Apparently humanity can’t hold up to the seduction of anonymity, and we quickly become monsters. Looking at the world today and the rampant abuse and hate that the internet seems to foster really does show that when given the chance to be invisible, we’re going to ditch all of our senses of morality and become monsters. Obviously not everyone falls into this trap, but I’m legitimately shocked at how many people use anonymity to become monsters. Hiding behind screen-names is the new invisibility formula, and unlike Griffin we don’t even have the benefit of blaming one of the chemicals on driving us mad. This is apparently just what humanity is. The real monster is us.

 

The Invisible Man was written by R.C. Sherriff, directed by James Whale, and released by Universal Pictures, 1933.

 

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Lifetime of Simpsons

S15 E07 – ‘Tis the Fifteenth Season

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Happy Halloween everyone! Or, more accurately for today’s episode, Merry fake Christmas! We’re back for another week of Lifetime of Simpsons, continuing to make our way through the fifteenth season of the Simpsons (by the gods that’s a lot of seasons), and we start out week off with a truly bizarre Christmas episode that was barely in my memory.

The episode starts off with the family watching some sort of Channel 6 Christmas special where Krusty, Sideshow Mel, a cardboard cutout of Kent Brockman, Tina Ballerina, Itchy and Scratchy somehow, and Mr. Teeny in a sweater have Thanksgiving dinner together before informing the people of Springfield that it’s now the Christmas season, and that everyone needs to start shopping! And as someone who worked retail for several holiday seasons, it sure is a joy knowing that mere hours after Thanksgiving dinner I was going to have to go work a 15 hours shift and hating my very existence.

But the Simpsons apparently aren’t down for door-buster sales, because they don’t head out to shop, they just start decorating their house for Christmas. We get some silly sight-gags with the family decorating the house, until we cut over to the Power Plant where there’s a secret Santa exchange happening. Homer makes out great when Carl gives him a DVD player and some box-sets of Magnum PI, but he’s a bit of an asshole when it becomes evident that he forgot he was supposed to get Lenny a present, and just gives him mints.

But Homer’s ridiculous display of selfishness is undercut when Mr. Burns arrives to give everyone their paltry Christmas bonus. Man is it awkward when people give the bonus in front of everyone else. Anyway, the actual bonus is basically nothing, but as a lark Mr. Burns gives Homer what he thinks is a trifle, and ends up being a rookie Joe DiMaggio card. Homer doesn’t really think much of it, but goes to the Android Dungeon and is baffled when Comic Book Guy just gives him all the money he has for the card.

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So Homer heads home, having no idea why he’s suddenly flush with cash, and announces to the family that they’re going to the Springfield Heights shopping mall, where the richest people shop, to go on a shopping spree. They wander around the snooty stores, giving us silly gags. Like Bart playing some educational video game until he realizes that it’s educational and Marge shopping for giant underpants for Homer.

But things hit a snag when Homer’s in some sort of Sharper Image shop and finds some fancy $500 astrolabe. Now, I looked this up, and I still don’t exactly understand what an astrolabe is, especially in the context of this episode, but it appears to be a fancy clock that has a robotic voice that says random facts. Homer of course needs this, despite the fact that the $500 price tag makes it so that they can’t afford a Christmas tree.

But Homer doesn’t really care about that, and buys his fancy astrolabe before taking the family down to the sketchiest part of Springfield to buy the cheapest tree they can. The family get a little worried about Homer’s sudden thriftiness until they stumble upon the astrolabe, and realize that Homer put his own stupid wishes in front of the rest of the family, and they are not pleased. Everyone yells at Homer, and Marge doesn’t even let him sleep in the bed that night, making him camp out on the couch.

At first Homer’s down with this decision, remaining stubborn that he did nothing wrong. Plus he gets to watch TV all night! And since it’s Christmas, that means Homer’s going to end up finding some adaptation of a Christmas Carol. This time it happens to be a Mr. Magoo rip-off called Mr. McGrew, and Homer becomes enthralled with the cartoon, seemingly seeing the story for the first time. And it really hits him hard. He spends the whole night having nightmares about the moral of the cartoon until he wakes up the next morning.

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He goes to have breakfast with the family, and tells them all about his revelations. The family explain that a Christmas Carol is nothing new, but Homer insists that it’s changed them. He vows to become the nicest person in Springfield, and immediately gets to work. He goes and gives his old clothes to homeless people, gives Lenny a thoughtful Christmas present, gives Marge the last pork chop at dinner, and builds an ice-rink in his backyard for the people of Springfield.

But not everyone is loving the new Homer. His sudden role as the nicest person in Springfield is rubbing the previous nicest person in town the wrong way. Ned Flanders. He’s super irritated that Homer is getting all the glory for the things he used to do, and quickly becomes incredibly jealous. Everything Ned thinks to do, he finds Homer has already one-upped him. And the people of Springfield are loving it.

Ned’s jealousy eventually reaches the point that he decides he needs to escalate things. And he does this by buying everyone in town a present, and delivering it to them while dressed as Santa. The people of Springfield are a little confused by this, but they’re down for free presents, so they don’t really mind it. But Homer is irritated. He’s enjoying his new role as nicest guy in town, and doesn’t want any competition from Ned.

Homer needs an idea how to beat Ned though, and asks Lisa for advice. She tells Homer that as a Buddhist she believes people will be happier without presents, and to gain enlightenment. Homer then takes that message and decides to pull a Grinch and steal everyone in town’s presents. So Homer and Santa’s Little Helper then go around town, stealing all the presents while singing a parody of “He’s a Mean One.”

And after a night of theft and chloroform, Homer has succeeded in stealing everyone’s presents, and goes to the town square to burn them. But as the people begin waking up and realizing their presents are gone, they aren’t exactly enlightened so much as enraged. They quickly form a mob and storm to the square to kill Homer. Ned tries to talk the crowd down, but they’re too bloodthirsty to listen. That is until a flare that Hans Moleman fired off in the mountain appears, and they mistake it for one of those Christmas stars. The town then realize what’s really important about the holiday, and they all spend a lovely Christmas together, exchanging presents and spending time together.

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As far as Christmas episodes go, this is a pretty sweet one. I really remembered next to nothing about it, but I liked the idea of Homer really taking the message of a Christmas Carol to heart and trying to change himself for the better. Honestly, it seems like a type of episode that we would have gotten in the Golden Age of the show. A simple little tale about Homer trying to better himself, and Ned getting jealous. It’s a little too similar to “Homer Loves Flanders,” but it still works. It seems like a Christmas episode in the fifteenth season should have something more ridiculous, like the Funzo episode, but this was a simple and sweet episode that I really enjoyed.

Take Away: The holidays are about being together, and being nice to one another, not just presents. But you probably shouldn’t use theft to get that message across.

 

“‘Tis the Fifteenth Season” was written by Michael Price and directed by Bob Anderson, 2003.

 

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Film Library

Rosemary’s Baby vs Rosemary’s Baby

Hey there everybody! I haven’t done one of these in a while, but I figured that since tomorrow is Halloween that I should check out a classic horror novel/movie pairing and do a Film Library about it. The only problem being that I’m still doing the DLM Challenge and thus needed to find a classic horror movie, based on a book, that I hadn’t seen before. My own weird issues with the Exorcist kept that one from being chosen, so I decided to do something a little different. I’m not sure if this novel/movie are really considered horror so much as thrillers, but I decided to finally check out the devil-worshiping weirdness of Rosemary’s Baby. And here we go! Hail Satan!

 

THE BOOK

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I’ll say right off the bat; I’m not typically a horror guy. I really love the classic horror novels, like Dracula, and I suppose Frankenstein, and I do tend to be a big fan of Stephen King, but other than that my usual interest in horror is pretty low. I think that’s because I’ve always had a pretty over-active imagination, and have been able to build much more from a novel than it was intending. I know as a kid when I was reading Jurassic Park my mind found much more terrifying scenarios involving dinosaurs than Michael Crichton seemed to be able to. So I usually need something really interesting to get me to check out some horror. And Rosemary’s Baby is one of those stories that seemed to take horror in a different light. And that’s mainly because the novel took its source of horror from the idea of parenthood. I’ve heard about the movie, and the weird real-life stories that surround it, but I hadn’t known much about the novel, so I went in pretty blind, and was fairly impressed.

The novel follows a young couple living in New York named Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse. Guy is a struggling actor and Rosemary (being that it’s the early sixties) is his dutiful wife. The novel opens with the pair buying an apartment in a big gloomy apartment complex called the Bramford that has a fairly shady reputation. An aging novelist named Hutch that’s friends with Rosemary tells them all about the dark deeds that have happened in the building, including the occupation of a man named Adrian Marcato who was a devil-worshipper who claimed to summon Satan. The couple ignore those ominous warnings though, and get to work living their life. Guy starts trying to audition while Rosemary gets their apartment decorated, meeting a woman in the laundry room and making friends. However shortly after meeting the woman, they come home to find that she’s committed suicide. Which isn’t a reassuring event.

And things take a weird turn when the elderly couple that the woman were living with, Minnie and Roman Castevet, end up inflicting themselves up the Woodhouse’s. The Castevet’s are very odd and eccentric, and Rosemary doesn’t really intend on spending much time with them, but after a couple nights where Guy stays up to talk with Roman, he begins to become obsessed with them. And right around that time things start changing in their lives. A rival of Guy’s goes blind out of the blue, giving Guy his big break, and he announces that he wants to start having a baby with Rosemary. And he shows that ambition by essentially raping Rosemary one night when she passes out, seemingly from too much alcohol. She had a series of insane nightmares that night, but doesn’t think much of it, especially when she learns that she’s pregnant.

Things then start to get weird. Guy keeps insisting on hanging out with the Castevet’s and a motley crew of other old people in the apartment, to the point that they begin influencing almost every aspect of their lives. The Castevet’s begin spending all of their time with the Woodhouse’s and they even set up Rosemary with a weird OB/GYN who gives her strange orders. And the pregnancy doesn’t seem to be agreeing with Rosemary. She’s wracked with pain almost constantly and doesn’t seem to be gaining any weight, all of which starts to concern her about her new OB/GYN’s true motives, and why Guy is so deadset on following all of the Castevet’s decisions. And it just gets weirder from there, because after a conversation with Hutch, where he meets Roman, Hutch starts investigating. And while he suddenly falls into a deep coma, he does get a message to Rosemary, and a book about witches. She begins investigating the book, and eventually realizes what Hutch was trying to tell her. That Roman Castevet is actually the son of Adrian Marcato, and that he’s probably a devil-worshiper who wants to steal her baby and use it for nefarious purposes. Thus begins Rosemary’s slow descent into madness and she starts to question everyone around her, terrified that everyone in her life has been lying to her in order to give her unborn child to the devil. And after a lot of running around, hiding from people, and trying to solve the mystery she suddenly gives birth in her apartment. But when she wakes up after the birth she’s told that the baby didn’t live and that it was all a misunderstanding. Well, that is until she realizes that there’s a baby crying somewhere in the complex. She then breaks in to the Castevet’s apartment, and find that a) they have her baby, b) the baby is the son of Satan, c) they want it to conquer the world, and d) they want her to still be the mother of it. And, after a bit of a mental breakdown, the novel ends with Rosemary considering it.

So that’s Rosemary’s Baby. I enjoyed the book. I really wasn’t expecting the novel to hit me on such a visceral level, and I can only assume that as I get older and my wife and I start trying to have children it’ll get that much more affecting. Because the horror doesn’t really come from the Devil in this story. No, that stuff wasn’t frightening to me. Nor really were the malevolent elderly people that were hiding in the shadows. Honestly, I wasn’t even that creeped out by the idea of the husband manipulating the wife and doing something so evil. The thing that really affected me about this story is the idea of something happening to your child. Rosemary becomes convinced that people are after her child, and there’s nothing she can do about it, and the novel does a good job at showing how shattering that that would be. For a while I was kind of fascinated by the idea that the novel would end without there actually being any Devil shenanigans, and that it would end up just being Rosemary being insane, but regardless of how supernatural the novel actually did end, the visceral horror that comes along with your child being stolen from your is enough to make this a fascinating read.

 

THE FILM

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Whenever I write one of these posts, I usually watch the movie first, and then read the novel so that I can make notes on the differences. And there comes a point when reading the novel that I start to kick myself on the decision to pick this pair of stories, because it becomes evident that the stories are virtually identical. I much prefer books that were adapted in theme or name only, rather than the direct adaptation because there’s often not much to talk about when discussing whichever story I write up second. And this is maybe the greatest example of this conundrum that I’ve encountered so far on this site. Because, despite your feelings toward Roman Polanski and your own personal abilities to separate the art from the artist, you have to hand it to him. He adapted the novel pretty much spot on. There’s basically nothing different between the Ira Levin novel and this film. They even primarily use the exact same dialogue from the novel in this film. Which probably makes sense, since the film came out a year after the book. It was clearly fast-tracked, and pushed out as fast as they could to capitalize on the success of the novel.

But if there’s not much I can describe in this article about the plot of the film, I guess I’ll have to talk about some of the other aspects of the film. Primarily that it’s wonderfully crafted. Now, I know that people have serious issues with the films of Roman Polanski, and ten to discredit them or decide that they’re going to ignore them since they’re the films of a child rapist. And while I can’t argue that Roman Polanski isn’t a scumbag, I can say that labeling his movies unwatchable because he directed them is doing a serious disservice to everyone else involved in the production. Polanski is credited as the director and screenwriter of the film, but as you begin learning more and more about the process of film-making, you know that that doesn’t mean he’s entirely responsible for the end result. Countless other behind-the-scenes workers and a score of actors are also responsible for creating this film, and choosing to just ignore the film seems wrong to me. Separating the art from the artist is one of those things, like watching movies in their own historical context, that really helps you appreciate stories more, and I think it’s integral to appreciating films like Rosemary’s Baby for what they are. Great films.

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Rosemary’s Baby is an expertly created film. It’s filled with a masterful amount of dread that just has every frame dripping with a slowly growing existential horror. From the eerie singing that makes up the score to the wonderfully disturbing exterior of the Dakota apartment building we just can’t escape how other-worldly and menacing this film is. All of the acting in this film is spot on, and I adore the idea of taking an army of charming old character actors and having them be the unassuming geriatrics that make up the coven. The sets in the film are wonderful, making you forget that about 95% of this film takes place inside the walls of the inescapable Bramford apartment complex. And all of these aspect come together to create a true classic film, one that manages to be frightening and tense, despite how insane things get by the end of the film.

THE VERDICT

You may be thinking that this is going to be a hard one for me to decide on. Usually when I find a novel and a film that are so similar like this film, I generally can’t decide which one is better. I usually just cop out and say that they’re both good, and that you shouldn’t experience them too close together since their similarity will diminish whichever you experience second. And, yeah, do that. But, surprisingly, I do have a decision on which one was better. And it’s the film. That may seem odd, since they’re so similar, but I legitimately had a better time with the film than the novel, while enjoying both quite a bit, and I think that it mainly came down to decisions they made to enhance the story that Ira Levine wrote.

I mentioned earlier that the film used quite a bit of the dialogue from the novel, but there’s one thing that the film didn’t use. The inner monologues. The film is from the point of view of Rosemary, and mostly takes place in her head. Which does give us some great moments in the novel, where she’s questioning her sanity and is becoming increasingly paranoid, but there are some other issues. Now, it could be because Ira Levin was a man in the sixties, but his characterization of a woman was less than stellar. She was frequently a hysterical mess who was constantly blaming herself for her marital woes and worrying about how she was going to take care of Guy’s every whim. And taking that out from the film was a big step up for me. The film also was a little less obsessed with religion. I couldn’t quite tell from the novel what Ira Levin’s thoughts on religion was, but there was a lot of complaining about how little people in the sixties were caring about religion, and how not caring about God was leading to rampant devil-worship. The movie did have Rosemary look at the famous “Is God Dead?” Time cover, but the book had a whole spiel about it, hammering in the point.  And that got a little grating.

But aside from that, the film just visualized the story so much better, to me. They somehow created Rosemary’s insane dreams that she has throughout the novel in a way that made them work, and as I mentioned earlier, I love the casting of all the elderly people. They just came across so much more lovable and kind in the film, which makes the eventual twist better. Plus, the movie wisely didn’t feature a lot of the Devil baby at the end, which was a great call. I didn’t need to see a baby with horns and a tail like the book had. I still think the story could have been even better if there actually was no cult, and Rosemary was just cracking, but the film actualized the cult reveal in a more visceral and affecting manner than the novel. So, overall I would still recommend that you check out both stories, but I would say that if you want to experience the best version of this story, check out the movie. Get past the issues and baggage that come along with a Roman Polanski movie and check out an extremely affecting, creepy, and tense horror film.

Rosemary’s Baby was written by Ira Levin, 1967

Rosemary’s Baby was written and directed by Roman Polanski and released by Paramount Pictures, 1968.

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Marvel Madness

That Time Doctor Strange and Dracula Fought to the Death

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Happy Halloween everybody! Or at least Halloween weekend. Whatever, I’m here to talk about silly-as-hell Marvel stories! And folks, I’ve found a fun one. I decided to looks for something appropriate for Halloween to discuss, since despite what I usually think Triumph and Torment isn’t actually a Halloween tale. And it was surprisingly difficult. I spent a long time reading through just about every appearance of Man-Thing that I could find to come across a silly enough story to talk about here, but despite all assumptions it turns out that Man-Thing stories aren’t particularly insane. That lead to a lot of trying to find various stories featuring Marvel’s version of Frankenstein and the Werewolf By Night, but none of that really panned out, so I had to go back to the old classic. Dracula. I’ve previous discussed Marvel’s Dracula when I told you all about his ill-fated invasion of Britain with an army of moon-Vampires, and I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t think I would ever find anything to top that story. And I still don’t think I did, but I found something fun nonetheless. Because there’s a shocking amount of Dracula stories in Marvel history, especially from the Silver and Bronze Ages. Now, I was tempted to check out some X-Men stories, since the X-Men oddly deal with vampires way more than you would think, but since I just did an X-Men story on here, I decided to try for a different Dracula story. And just in time two write this article, I found something wonderful. I’ve been doing a massive read-through of Doctor Strange, mostly in anticipation of the upcoming film, but also just because I adore the character. I haven’t read everything that Doctor Strange has been in yet, but just about everything I’ve read I’ve loved. But there’s an odd problem with his comics in regards to this series. Doctor Strange stories all tend to be weird, so I would either be talking about them every damn week, or never. But lo and behold, I found an outlier of weirdness, this strange little cross-over event between Doctor Strange and Tomb of Dracula where two cape aficionados fight to the death. And folks, if you think I’m not going to tell you about a wizard and a vampire fighting to the death, you’re mistaken.

The story begins in the pages of Tomb of Dracula where we see Doctor Strange hanging out in the Sanctum Sanctorum, looking in a crystal ball to try and find out where his manservant Wong is. He’s searching for Wong’s presence, and ends up finding him in the orb, seemingly dead in an alley. This freaks out Strange enough that he uses some power of the Orb of Agamotto to create what essentially amounts to a hologram of Wong’s body. He then begins inspecting the body, finding two puncture wounds on Wong’s neck. Strange then doesn’t waste any time, and decides that vampire shenanigans are afoot, and he’s going to have to stop them. So after briefly using the powers of Agamotto to seize the soul of Wong in the Orb long enough to save his life, he heads out to investigate Wong’s attack. He projects his Astral Form into Wong’s mind, reliving the last moments before he was attacked. And what he finds is Wong wandering down an alley to help a woman screaming for help. But when Wong reaches the woman, he finds that it wasn’t some typical mugger attacking her, it was Dracula, Lord of the Vampires, who then quickly attacks Wong as well.

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Tomb of Dracula #44

Doctor Strange then leaves Wong’s memories, and prepares to track Dracula down and stop him, while we’re treated to some ongoing plotlines from Tomb of Dracula that I didn’t understand, and didn’t super care enough about to research. We see some dude mad at a woman who is publishing a trashy book about her love affair with Dracula, and some old man stalking Dracula. Don’t really know what’s going on there, but we do learn that Dracula’s homebase in America is apparently Boston, which strikes me as kind of odd. But I guess it’s explained away that he likes the architecture. We also see Blade sneaking around doing god-knows-what, in his wonderful 70’s costume, before establishing that Dracula is pissed about everything that’s been going on in his book, and is getting ready to take a nap in his coffin after destroying some TVs.

But enough about that nonsense, because we see that Doctor Strange has been tracking down the alley that Wong ran into Dracula. And once there he’s able to use the Amulet of Agamotto’s light of truth to track down Dracula. He silently flies through the sky, getting ever closer to Boston, until he ends up at the abandoned building that Dracula is living in. And, seemingly with no fear, Strange just marches up to Dracula’s coffin, opens it up, and prepares to throw down. But Dracula is apparently  a light sleeper, because he immediately wakes up and gets ready to fight Strange. After a momentary exchange of pleasantries where they both admit that their familiar with the others work, they start having a straight up wizard duel. Apparently Dracula has picked up some magical abilities in his centuries on Earth, and the two being slinging spells at each other. But no matter how good of a wizard Dracula is, Stephen Strange is the goddamn Sorcerer Supreme, so he’s able to attack Dracula with the power of the Images of Ikon, which makes Dracula relive the pain that he’s inflicted on all of his victims. Which for some reason takes the form of Dracula becoming Vlad the Impaler, and Doctor Strange attacking him on a magic horse!

 

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Tomb of Dracula #44

 

And after a brief joust in Dracula’s mind, Strange seems to gain the upper hand. Mainly because Dracula start wigging out, reliving all the personal deaths that he’s caused, and feeling the emotional turmoil that he’s apparently been ignoring for centuries. Unfortunately, that pain just gives him the initiative he needs to start fighting back. And he pretty quickly finds that there’s one weakness in Strange. His anger over Wong’s death. Dracula begins needling Strange about how he killed Wong, and didn’t even care about it. He calls Wong a “mere hireling” not to be worried about, and when Strange start to get pissed, Dracula strikes. He takes the opening that Strange’s anger leaves, and uses his abilities to hypnotize Strange, dropping his defenses in time to grab Strange, and bite him on the neck. Yep, the first issue ends with Dracula seemingly turning Doctor Strange into a vampire!

But that’s not the end of the story, because when we turn over to the second part in Doctor Strange we find that Dracula isn’t counting Strange out yet. He gloats a bit over Strange’s body, but remembers that besides the cross the only thing he fears is magic, and knows that Strange could still find some way to best him. So he responds to that realization by just tossing Doctor Strange’s knocked out body down a trap door into some dark and dank cellar, knowing that in three days time Strange will become a member of the undead, and he’ll have won. Dracula then leaves, not realizing that Strange is still alive, and his Astral Form is able to escape. However, he then realizes that because his body is kind of undead at the time, he can’t get back into it.

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Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts #14

 

Strange is a little pissed off about this, mainly because in his book he’s recently saved all of existence and basically became immortal, only to have been beaten by some damn vampire? Bullshit! So Doctor Strange begins meditating in his Astral Form, trying to come up with a way to outsmart Dracula despite the fact that he cannot use his corporeal form. And while he’s figuring that out we cut back to Dracula to see what he’s up to. And it’s just kind of nonsense to me. We see him devour some random old homeless lady before thing get really weird. Now, I’ve never read Tomb of Dracula, and I do want to, so I have no idea what’s going on here, but it’s nuts. Dracula is randomly visited by some old foe of his, called Dr. Sun, who Dracula has apparently killed and is now haunting him as a floating brain. The brain makes fun of Dracula for a while, until Dracula realizes that something isn’t adding up. He apparently killed Sun a while ago, and has been living in his house, so it doesn’t make sense that he’s suddenly being haunted. He thus determines that it’s some trick of Strange’s.

However, when he goes to check on Strange in that cellar he finds that his corpse is still just laying there. This confuses Dracula more, but he still decides that there’s still something going on, and that Strange is involved. So he zips out to New York, trying to find Wong’s body and see if that was involved. However, when he gets to the alley that he killed Wong in, he’s surprised to find that the body is gone, since he didn’t know that Strange had teleported it into the Orb of Agamotto to save. But as Dracula is fuming in the alley, he’s suddenly approached by another ghost, this time taking the form of a woman named Maria that he apparently loved. Dracula freaks out, thrilled to see this woman that he loved, but she just vanishes, and ends up attacking Dracula with magical fire, making everyone wandering by the alley to just assume that Dracula is a crazy person.

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Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts #14

So Dracula freaks out at the random passersby, vowing to find this ghost that’s following him around and mocking him. But before Dracula can calm down and rationally think about what’s going on, the ghost flies off into the night, and he decides to become a bat and chase it. So Dracula follows the ghost all through the night, not thinking of anything else. Which turns out to be a bad call when the sun comes up, and he realizes that he hasn’t been thinking about the sun, and now has to flee. Dracula begins booking it away from the ghost, trying to get back to the house of Dr. Sun which he’s been living in, all while the ghost finally admits that it’s Doctor Strange, and that he’s just been trolling the Lord of the Vampires.

But, against reason, Dracula has made it back to Boston, and flies into a hole in the roof, narrowly missing the first rays of sunlight which would vaporize him. He then gets a hold of himself, and realizes that there’s no point in messing around with Strange anymore. This would be the day that he will officially turn into a vampire, and instead of turning Strange into one of his minions, Dracula decides to just stake him through the heart. So Dracula uses his abilities to awaken Strange’s newly vampiric form, only to let Strange’s Astral Form slip back into the body. At which point Dracula has made his situation much worse, because now he’s dealing with vampire Doctor Strange! The two begin tussling, throwing each other around the dungeon while Dracula relies on his brute strength and Doctor Strange on his mystic abilities. However, Doctor Strange realizes that he has one ace up his sleeve. Now, in case you aren’t familiar with Doctor Strange, his magic works in an odd way. It’s not really a lot of magic spells or anything like that, more often than not it’s portrayed more similar to praying. Doctor Strange works with a bunch of magical deities, and beseeches them to give him their powers. So when he gets his hands around Dracula’s throat, he decides to change things up, and pray to the Christian god, using Dracula’s aversion of Christian magic against him. And, shockingly, Doctor Strange’s prayer works. Dracula is bombarded with Holy Light, and is straight up killed! He becomes a shriveled husk, and has seemingly been defeated. Strange then uses his abilities to bring Wong back to life, and uses his magic to heal his own vampirism, and the duo leave the castle of Dr. Sun, never to speak about this again.

 

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Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts #14

 

This is some grade-A goofiness folks. I walked away from this little story very interested in checking out the Tomb of Dracula series, because it seems to be incredibly silly. I double checked, and that book went on for years after this story, so I assume it wasn’t actually the death of Dracula, unless that book got seriously retooled after Doctor Strange straight up desiccated the dude. But regardless of how things followed this story, it was a hall of a time. I just adore Doctor Strange so much, and I’ve been dying to find a story to talk about here on the site. But like I said earlier, it’s kind of hard to find ones that are noticeably weirder than average. This period of Doctor Strange stories from the mid-70’s are pretty flawless, and I’ve seen Doctor Strange do some insane things, but not really “ha ha” insane. That is until he started dueling with a Nosferatu. That tends to amp things up in the ridiculous department. Especially when you have Doctor Strange end up conquering Dracula by basically praying at him, and then being stunned that that worked. It’s just a hoot. I mean, I would check out any story that you say includes a wizard duel between the Sorcerer Supreme and the Lord of the Vampires, and this story more than delivered. So this Halloween please dip into some fun Marvel Madness and watch Doctor Stephen Strange open a can of unholy whoop-ass on Dracula.

 

Tomb of Dracula #44 was written by Marv Wolfman, drawn by Gene Colan & Tom Palmer, lettered by John Costanza, and colored by Tom Palmer, 1976.

Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts #14 was written by Steve Englehart, drawn by Gene Colan, inked and colored by Tom Palmer, and lettered by John Costanza, 1976.

 

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Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts #14
Bat Signal

Issue 540 – “Something Scary”

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Howdy folks and welcome back to Bat Signal, my stupid project where I pull random issues of Detective Comics and talk about them, with no context! And I have a real weird one for you all today. Plus, it even happened to fit in with Halloween. A couple weeks ago I posted that ridiculous story where Batman fought a straight-up vampire, and was kind of bummed that the luck of the draw gave it to me before Halloween, but apparently the Batman Gods have smiled on me, because I happened to pull an issue that a) is completely confounding, b) crosses yet another villain off of our Batman Supervillain Bingo with the Scarecrow, and c) fits in great with the Halloween theme. But before we dive in, I want to reiterate the point that this issue is completely bat-shit crazy. And I really don’t know why. I’ve had some baffling issues before, but they’ve mainly been confusing because I’m lacking the proper context. They’ve been the second-parts of stories, things like that. But near as I could tell when getting the credits and info about the issue, this issue wasn’t connected to anything. It’s just weird as hell. So buckle up folks, because things are gonna get weird, and they’re gonna get weird quick.

The issue starts off with alternating panels showing Batman and Robin looking for the Scarecrow. They aren’t together, Batman is at a zoo and Robin is at some spooky mansion that they think Scarecrow is hiding out in. The panels switch between the two locales, making it pretty hard to get a grip of what’s going on. Which isn’t helped by the fact that what is going on is insane. Because as soon as Batman enters the zoo he’s affected by the Scarecrow’s new fear device. Which is kind of odd, because it usually has taken the form of gas in the Scarecrow books I’ve read, but this time it comes from some sort of pulse from a skull-shaped device. So Batman runs into a little skull, and immediately starts fantasizing about Robin (Jason Todd here) being attacked by crocodiles.

 

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Meanwhile Robin is investigating the Scarecrow’s mansion, noticing a regular scarecrow hung up in the field in front. He decides to ignore it and just walk into the house when it’s revealed that that wasn’t a fake scarecrow, it was the real one. He springs into action and stars fighting with Robin, tussling all over the field outside the house. The battle goes on for a while while we cut occasionally back to Batman to see him punch crocodiles and whine about what he thinks is Jason being eaten. But things get bad for Robin when Scarecrow is able to get a hold of his fear device, and bombard Robin with the pulse, getting him afraid.

But while Robin chases Scarecrow into the house we see that Batman has finally figured out that he hasn’t witnessed his ward being devoured by crocodiles, and is instead tripping balls. Batman manages to find Scarecrow’s fear device and breaks it, heading out to find Robin and stop Scarecrow’s plot. But before we get back to that, we see what’s going on inside Scarecrow’s house, which is nuts. Turns out Scarecrow has pimped out his house to basically become a carnival haunted house. So when Robin comes in, already reeling from the effects of the fear device, he gets to be spooked by rubber spiders and plastic skeletons jumping out at him. Which is hilarious. Robin primarily keeps his cool, trying to find Scarecrow in the house without losing it.

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But when Scarecrow realizes that Robin is getting too cocky, he blasts him with more of the fear frequency and then drops Robin down some funhouse stairs before dropping down into a cellar full of guys in Scarecrow costumes ready to beat him up. But while Robin is taking care of that, we see Batman running around, trying to find Robin. First he calls Harvey Bullock, I guess in case Robin stopped by? But Bullock doesn’t know where Robin is, and then almost gets assassinated. I assume this is a continuing plot, because the sudden attempted murder of Harvey Bullock was never mentioned again, because we’re too busy seeing Batman calling up Alfred to check if he’s seen Jason. That’s a negative again, so Batman just heads out to try and find Robin.

And things are going pretty well for Robin. He’s beaten up all of the guys in Scarecrow costumes, who turn out to just be dummies that the fear frequency has made him hallucinate into people. And when he breaks through that hallucination he decides to start breaking out of the cellar. He starts digging out of the cellar, while the Scarecrow begins wandering around the house, taunting Robin. But when Robin gets out of the cellar, he’s shocked to find that it isn’t Scarecrow waiting for him, it’s Batman. I’m not sure how Batman found Robin, but whatever, he’s brought along the damaged fear device, and has figured out how to mess with it until it becomes a sort of blocking device. He and Robin tinker with the thing until it successfully blocks Scarecrow’s signal, and then Batman goes off to kick Scarecrow’s ass. Scarecrow isn’t really anticipating the sudden appearance of Batman, especially when Batman delivers the insane line “Yes, me – the terror of all punks like you!” And when Scarecrow realizes that Batman had devised a way to block the signal, he freaks the hell out, and runs away, only to run into Robin who was waiting in one of the spooky traps that Scarecrow had set up, and promptly punches him out. And then they go home, hopefully to begin investigating who tried to shoot Harvey Bullock and why.

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This issue was a whole lot of fun. I really like Scarecrow as a villain, and his whole fear gimmick is really great. Batman Begins didn’t take full advantage of how trippy and frightening a Scarecrow story could be, and while this one didn’t really reach those heights either, it was a lot of fun. The whole thing with the fear devices that looked like skulls and admitted some sort of frequency was a little odd, but the end result was the same, so it’s all good. Honestly, the thing that I really liked about this issue was just how crazy it was. You’re probably noticed by now, but for Bat Signal articles (and several other types of articles on the site) I try to end the article with a particularly goofy image from the issue. And usually that’s not too hard. Basically every issue of Detective Comics has some goofy image or line of dialogue that makes me laugh out loud, and I feel would work great as the stinger on the end of the article. But this time? I could put about 50% of the panels up there. Mainly because of the weird format that the first half of the issue used, where every panel switched between Batman’s psychedelic freak-out and Robin’s Scarecrow tussle. It just led to a really silly, weird, and fun issue that became pretty emblematic of everything I love about these comics. So have a great Halloween everyone, enjoy some of the other Halloween related goofiness I have on the site this weekend, and I’ll see everyone next week for more Batman silliness.

“Something Scary” was written by Doug Moench, drawn by Gene Colan, inked by Bob Smith, colored by Adrienne Roy, and lettered by Ben Oda, 1984.

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Lifetime of Simpsons

S15 E06 – Today, I Am a Clown

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It’s been a real lackluster week here on Lifetime of Simpsons. Not really the best way to come back from my week off. But what can you do? The show has its ups and downs, and we sure are getting a lot of downs lately. But let’s end the week on a goofy-as-hell episode about Krusty having a bar mitzvah.

The episode starts off with Homer waking up in the morning and singing a song about toilets to the tune of “Ring of Fire.” Unfortunately when he goes out to the hallway bathroom, instead of the one in the bedroom for some reason, he finds that the rest of the family are also waiting for the bathroom. Which seems a little strange, since someone appears to be in the bathroom, but it’s none of them. Not a good sign.

It takes a while, but they realize that the only missing Simpson is Maggie, and figure out that she’s locked in the bathroom alone. They obviously then freak the hell out, and start trying to free her. Homer’s idea is to try and unlock the door with a coat hanger, but all that does is almost kill Maggie. Next up they use Homer’s head like a battering ram and try to break the door down. But that doesn’t work.

Luckily though Lisa tries the coat hanger again, and gets it to work, freeing Maggie. But none of that matters, because as they’re celebrating freeing Maggie they hear a knock at the door and head downstairs to see who is visiting them. And surprisingly, it’s Dr. Hibbert. But it’s not a house call; it’s a social call, because Hibbert is there to yell at the Simpsons for Santa’s Little Helper’s behavior. Apparently Santa’s Little Helper has knocked up his poodle, giving birth to a littler of weird little poodle/greyhound puppies, and Hibbert is dumping the dogs on the Simpsons.

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They take the puppies, and are a little confused since Santa’s Little Helper was supposed to have gotten neutered when he had puppies last time. Lisa even checks that old Simpson’s Episode Guide that I had as a kid to make sure that that was canon. But Homer reveals that when he drove Santa’s Little Helper to the vet, he got sorry for the dog and decided not to get him neutered and instead treat him to some sort of bachelor party complete with dog prostitutes.

So that explains that. But now they have a new issue, a box full of weird looking dogs. So Bart and Lisa take to the streets of Springfield with a box of puppies, trying to get rid of them. They drop off puppies to Willie and Snake before making their way to Krusty’s mansion with the last one. And they’ve come at a good time, because Krusty is hung-over and depressed as hell. But the sight of the little puppy warms his heart, and he immediately loves the little thing.
Krusty now has a little dog, and the two begin spending all their time together, going on a long walk. And the dog apparently has magical powers, because it just happens to guide Krusty to the old Jewish district of Springfield where he grew up. Krusty reminisces about his childhood for a while, before coming across a Jewish walk of fame. Krusty being a narcissist, he decides that they’re going to follow that road until he finds his star.

And he fails. He walks the entire sidewalk and never finds his star. Which obviously means he has to storm into the office of the Walk of Fame to complain. And the guy he talks to is actually pretty open about the complaint, and is all ready to give Krusty a star. But there’s a slight snafu. It turns out Krusty never actually got a bar mitzvah, so they apparently can’t give him a star because he’s not a man. So Krusty has to just leave, depressed, and inform Bart and Lisa (who of course are there) that he never had a bar mitzvah.

This is kind of strange, as Lisa points out, since Krusty’s father was a rabbi. Krusty had not thought of that wrinkle, so he and the kids go find Rabbi Krustofski, and ask why Krusty never got a bar mitzvah. And the answer is pretty weak. Apparently Rabbi Krustofski was worried that Krusty would make a laughingstock of his bar mitzvah since he never took anything seriously, so he just kept a crucial part of a Jewish man’s life from him. That’s weird. But, as Lisa points out again, adults can get bar mitzvahs, so Krusty decides to get one.

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He then goes to the studio and tells them that he’s going to need time off to embrace his faith and study for the bar mitzvah. However for some reason Krusty needs to find a replacement for his show, and decides to just give Homer his show temporarily. Because of course he does. However, against all reason, Homer just doesn’t keep doing the Krusty show, instead he makes his own weird talk-show with himself, Lenny, Moe, and Carl.

Homer’s new show is primarily four middle-aged men sitting around complaining about things, which quickly turns off the children, but oddly gets quite the following from the men in the city. Lisa had told Homer that he should use his chance to reach the people to say something wise, but he just complains about mundane things, which really speaks to the people of Springfield, quickly making Homer’s show massively popular.

But that popularity quickly goes to Homer’s head. He becomes extremely controlling of the show, and starts being really annoying. He even fires Lenny after a slight inconvenience, and then replaces him with Barney. That doesn’t last long though, and Disco Stu takes over. But the behind-the-scenes drama doesn’t distract from the fact that the people love the show so much that they decide to cancel Krusty’s show, and just give Homer the time-slot permanently.

Krusty is obviously not pleased with that news, but he really does take it in stride, being too focused on getting ready for his bar mitzvah. But he needs a show, so he begins shopping around his show to different networks, and ends up meeting with Fox. They aren’t really interested in his show, but they do strike up a deal to host a live bar mitzvah for Krusty, and turn it into a ridiculous extravaganza. Krusty accepts.

Oh, and around this point Homer’s vanity gets the best of him, and he starts trying to smarten up the show, quickly losing his audience before the show gets cancelled. So that’s over. Let’s go talk about Krusty’s bar mitzvah! It’s ridiculous. It’s in a stadium and has fireworks, acrobatics, the cast of the Broadway Lion King, and of course, Mr. T. But, in the end, Krusty successfully completes the bar mitzvah and he’s now a man. But when Krusty sees how disappointed his dad is in the ridiculous bar mitzvah, he agrees to have a sensible one in the Temple too, with the Simpsons of course.

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This episode is odd. It’s another one of those episodes that have a really strange feeling between their A and B plots. Because they really feel like two episodes that got smashed together rather than following the A and B plot structure. The episode basically abandons the bar mitzvah plot for a while to get the Homer plot going, and then ends that so we can return to the Krusty plot, there’s not much connection or feeling of the stories being intertwined. But, whereas this usually turns me off the episode, I kind of liked this one. The idea of Krusty needing to have a bar mitzvah was fun, even though the logic behind him not getting one was pretty weak, and I thought that it was a good story with Krusty and his father. And I really like the Homer plot. I’m not sure if it’s referencing anything in particular, but the idea of Homer and his stupid buddies getting their own talk show, and having it become a massive hit is a lot of fun. It just felt weird with the bar mitzvah plot. They both seemed like they could have been full episodes on their own. Which I guess is a good sign if I likes both stories enough that I want to see more of it, but it’s just odd to see them stitched together.

Take Away: Maybe don’t withhold ceremonies from your children for petty reasons. Oh, and if you try to go high-brow people will stop caring.

 

“Today, I am a Clown” was written by Joel H Cohen and directed by Nancy Kruse, 2003.

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Lifetime of Simpsons

S15 E05 – The Fat and the Furriest

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Season Fifteen has gotten off to a really weird start. We’ve had an unnecessary addition to an emotional story, a random musical homage, and a lackluster vacation episode. Not the greatest. But you know what can right that ship? An insane episode about Homer’s feud with a bear. Buckle up!

Things start off with Homer waking up and suspiciously sneaking out of the bedroom without waking up Marge. He gets out into the hallway, and meets with the kids, who are all waiting for him. Turns out it’s mother’s day, and they’ve gathered to make sure that everything is covered. Which it isn’t. Lisa picked some flowers, and Homer, Bart, and Maggie just made terrible mugs. They all decide that this isn’t good enough, and decide to sneak away and go shopping for Marge.

Homer and the kids end up at Sprawl-Mart, which gives us some goofy sight-gags, like even more Christian than normal Veggie Tales, seeing Grandpa working there as a greeter, and Nelson shoplifting with his mouth. But after goofing off for a bit, they realize that they still haven’t found a good gift, and start panicking. Luckily they run into Patty and Selma who are there buying booze and cigarettes, and they give them an idea. The Kitchen Carnival!

The Kitchen Carnival is basically some machine that deep fries food, makes cotton candy, and is full of hot caramel to make horrible carnival food at home. So the family buys it, and shockingly Marge loves it, getting super into the idea. And the rest of the family loves it too, and they begin putting as much sugar into their bodies as humanly possible. They start experimenting with the machine, making all sorts of terrible treats as the slowly get addicted.

But things take a dark turn when Homer wakes up one night and heads down to use the machine unsupervised. He starts off making some cotton candy, before realizing that he could pour the caramel on it too. So Homer spends the whole night slowly putting layers of cotton candy and caramel on this monstrosity until it’s the size of one of those yoga balls. And he’s so psyched. The kids are too, just eating this giant ball of solidified sugar with their father. Hell, Homer even takes it around with him and uses the HOV lane with it.

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Unfortunately, after Homer accidentally gets some ants, birds, cats, and Flanders stuck in the ball, Marge decides that it’s outstayed its welcome. Just like that gross sandwich from that early episode. Anyway, after briefly considering listening to the evil ball of candy, Homer realizes that he should probably get rid of the candy, and drives it out to the dump to dispose of it.

But as Homer is throwing away the candy, something disastrous happens. A bear pops out of nowhere, and seems to attack him. We then cut directly back to the house, where Homer has come home, clearly disheveled but not wanting to talk about it. He starts acting really weird, and even seems to have some PTSD when he sees bears. Everyone seems confused by this, but it’s all made clear when Kent Brockman plays some footage from a local hunter that shows the bear attacking Homer.

Well, not really attacking him. It kind of spooks him a bit, and then gets creeped out by how embarrassing Homer acts as he begins crying. And instead of realizing how terrifying it would be to be cornered by a bear, the town makes a laughingstock of Homer and his bear encounter. Everyone in town start to mock him, the bullies make fun of Bart because of it, and the people at the Plant even prank Homer with Burns’ giant stuffed bear.

Homer even has a terrifying fantasy where all of the bear mascots from products start attacking him, leading to this hilarious interaction:

Homer: “Are you a Care Bear?”

Bear: “I’m an intensive Care Bear.”

Homer: “Why does a bear need a crowbar?”

Bear: “Eh, I don’t like to get my hands dirty.”

So that’s great. And after the fantasy Homer ends up weeping alone in the kitchen until Grandpa shows up and offers some advice. Grandpa claims that Homer will never be freed from his fear until he shows that bear whose boss, and for some reason Homer decides that this makes sense.

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So Homer goes to meet with the hunter than filmed that footage of him on the news, and asks for some advice. The hunter tells Homer that he has a tracker on the bear, and gives Homer the homing device. And with the bear’s location in hand, Homer decides to even the playing field by crafting an insane Ned Kelly style suit of armor to fight the bear in. It’s pretty ridiculous, and even has no ass on it, in case he craps his pants.

Marge obviously shoots down this ridiculous idea, but that doesn’t really seem to matter to Homer, and he just sneaks out the next morning with Lenny, Carl, and Bart. The quartet then drive out to the woods, using the tracking device, and hunting for the bear. But when they get to the area where the bear should be, it turns out it’s not there, and they quickly start to get bored. Homer decides he’s hot, and wanders off to take a bath in the river, taking the suit off.

Unfortunately it turns out that Lenny and Carl took the batteries out of the tracing device so they could listen to the radio, so that’s why the device hasn’t been going off. Turns out the bear is right next to them, and it finds Homer down in the river, sans suit. And while all of this is going on, Marge, Lisa, and that hunter show up at the campsite, only to find Lenny, Carl, and Bart sitting around, not sure where Homer went to.

And they aren’t going to find him, because the bear has apparently dragged Homer to its cave. But the bear doesn’t want to eat Homer or anything, he just wants help. That tracking device apparently hurts the bear, and once Homer realizes that, he pulls it off the animal, instantly making it friendly. Homer is shocked at this transformation, and instantly switches from hating the bear, to loving it. The two quickly become little pals, and start wandering the forest, goofing off and having fun.

But no one else knows about the bear’s actual temperament, and that hunter has organized a large party of idiots to start traipsing around the woods to kill the bear. Homer hears about the plan over a radio, and decides to bring the bear to a nature reserve where the bear will be safe. So the two hike over to the reserve, and find the army of hunters waiting to kill the bear. But Homer saves the day by sticking the bear in his suit of armor, which apparently is bullet-proof. The bear is then able to sneak past the hunters, and make it to the nature reserve where it’s free to fight elephants like nature intended.

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This is episode is dumb as all hell, but I really enjoyed it. There are some serious issues with it, mainly the fact that it’s so repetitive to things that have already happened, but it was just goofy enough to work for me. It’s weird that they did the candy thing just like Homer’s sandwich from “Selma’s Choice” and have a member of the Simpson family befriend a bear in the wood like “Call of the Simpsons,” but none of that distracted me from how goofy and fun the episode is. I love the idea that Homer builds a Ned Kelly suit of armor to fight a bear, and that he eventually befriends it in a Lion and the Mouse scenario. There’s not a lot to this episode, but it’s fun, and that’s all I’m expecting at this point in the series.

Take Away: Bears are scary, and except for in special conditions, hunting them is a sketchy idea.

 

“The Fat and the Furriest” was written by Joel H Cohen and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2003.

 

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