Monday, October 31, 2022

Scooby-Doo! and the Monster of Mexico (2006)


A fun direct to video Scooby-Doo! movie. 

This movie begins with Fred getting an email from his Mexican pen-pal, who invites them over to Veracruz, Mexico for a Day of the Dead celebration. Fred excited for the trip invites the rest of the Mystery Inc. Gang. When they get there, they stay at Fred's friend's house. They are enjoying a relaxing vacation, but then they find out that there is a monster on the loose, the legendary, El Chupacabra. Before you can say Jinkies, the gang has another mystery on their hands. 

 There is a lot to enjoy about this film. The humor is often excellent. I really enjoyed a lot of the slapstick with Scooby, which offers some wonderful cartoony comedy. This is especially true with the scenes where he tries to impress a female chihuahua. The chase scenes are a lot of fun and full of delightful gags. Fred's difficultly with the Spanish language also gives us some pretty good laughs. The mystery is also quite well realized with some very good plot twists. Yet all the clues add up and make perfect sense when the villain is revealed. This film also has quite a bit of the wonderful looking artwork and atmospheric feel that makes this franchise so wonderful. With a completely different type of setting this film can also stand out among the many other Scooby mysteries. The scene in the museum is also delightfully creepy. El Chupacabra is a lot of fun and I really enjoy his design.

However this movie does have its problems. The main monster does not actually appear onscreen as often as other Scooby villains do. Many of the new characters are not that interesting as they don't have much in the way of personality. Also while it may be a matter of personal taste, I did not find the songs all that memorable. 

This film marked the last time that Nicole Jaffe voiced Velma and Heather North voiced Daphne. Nicole Jaffe was the original voice of Velma and perfromed the role from 1969 to 1974, only to return to it for two direct to video movies, this one and Scooby-Doo! and the Legend of the Vampire (2003). Heather North was the second voice of Daphne and began voicing the character in the second season of the original series. She continued to voice the character through 1997, when Mary Kay Bergman took over voicing the character starting with the movie Scooby-Doo! on Zombie Island (1998). She return to voice the characters for the same two movies as Nicole Jaffe. 

All in all this may not be the best Scooby movie, but it is still a lot of fun. 

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Cowboy Church #193

 Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church. 

Today's musical selection with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing In the Garden. This song was written by C. Austin Miles. As well as a hymnist, Austin's hobby was photography. He wrote this song in 1912 while waiting some film to dry in a cold and leaky basement. Miles had discovered earlier that he could read the bible in the red lighting of his darkroom and often did. This day he was reading John 20. He read about how Mary went into the garden to see Jesus' tomb. Her heart was full of sadness, but when she learned that Jesus had overcome the grave she was moved to great joy. This passage moved Miles as he read it, and this song started to come to him. Miles originally intended this song to be an Easter song and for it to be from the point of view of Mary Magdalene. Miles would later say about this song, “This is not an experience limited to a happening almost 2,000 years ago. It is the daily companionship with the Lord that makes up the Christian’s life.” Learning this story has made this song all the more powerful for me and I hope it enhances the power of this great hymn for you as well.

This followed by Randy Travis singing Don't Ever Sell Your Saddle. This song comes from his first, but far from last, gospel album, 2000's Inspirational Journey

Next comes The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1948 recording of The Touch of God's Hand. This song was written by founding member of the group Bob Nolan. There is a lot of poetry in all the lyrics Bob had written over his career. This was no coincidence. Bob would once state in an interview, "You see, during my schooling I had been very impressed by a few of our most prominent poets—I guess you would call the 19th C poets—modern poets—namely Keats and Shelley and Byron, Burns and those fellows. I even tried my hand at it—writing poetry—and, as I say and I believe, they were…. I would try to write like Keats, say, but I would write about the desert and try to use his cadence and his rhyming. I copied. Let’s say it right out, I copied their style and wrote…. Although I was writing about a different topic, naturally—the desert—I think I was copying their styles."

Now for Eddy Arnold with Love Lifted Me. This song was written by James Rowe in 1912 and was based on two stories from the book of Matthew. One was asleep in the boat with the apostles during a storm. As the apostles were terrified of the storm, they couldn't understand how Jesus was so calm that he could take a nap. They wake Jesus up from his nap and Jesus simply tells the storm to stop and it does. The other story also involved the apostles, Jesus and the sea. It was about how when his eyes were fixed upon Jesus, he was able to walk on the water, but he lost the ability when his faith faltered, and he looked away. Still Jesus was a faithful friend and lifted Peter into a boat. 

This is followed by Tennessee Ernie Ford with I Love to Tell the Story. No one can sing an old hymn better than Cousin Ernie.

Next is Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer (from The Clash) with Redemption Song. Producer Rick Rubin spoke about how this recording came about, "We were working in my house with Johnny and one day Joe just showed up - he was in L.A. on vacation and he came every day, lay down on the floor against the glass wall of the control room so he could watch Johnny sing. After he'd been there every day for ten days or so, I said to him, when Johnny wasn't around, if you can come up with a song you can do together we'll try it and he was really afraid. Johnny had a home in Jamaica and spent a lot of time there, he loved Jamaican music, so when I told Johnny that The Clash was a punk band who brought reggae into punk, John said, 'I love reggae.' We pulled out a bunch of reggae CDs and listened to a whole lot of songs and this is the one that won. As a matter of fact the first song that John suggested was 'Three Little Birds,' a different Bob Marley song. I suggested 'The Harder They Come,' because Joe had been singing it live and it was great. But we listened to those songs and every other song anybody else had suggested, and when we got to 'Redemption Song' - which I think John Carter, Johnny's son suggested - as soon as we heard it Johnny said, 'We'll do that.' There was one line I was wary about because it was not good English and I said, 'Johnny do you want to change this word to the way you'd say it?' And he looked at me and said, 'Bob Marley wrote that. I can't change that!'" John himself said about this recording, "This is a Bob Marley song that I recorded for the last album, but I just didn't feel I did the song justice. Maybe I did, I just wanted to feel like it was something really special, it has to be if you're covering a Bob Marley song. I chose it because I love Jamaica, and if you're going to do a song from Jamacia, it's got to be a Bob Marley song. Joe Strummer was on that session in Rick's house. What a good musician he was - and a good man."

We continue with Ray Price singing What a Friend We Have in Jesus. This recording comes from his 1976 gospel album, Precious Memories

Today's musical selection ends with The Carter Family's 1934 recording of Working on a Building.

This week's movie trailer is for a really fun, Gene Autry film, Shooting High (1940). Gene does not get top billing in this trailer, which instead goes to Jane Whithers, a popular child actress at the time. Jane was a fan of Gene Autry and really wanted to make a movie with him. However she was under contract to 20th Century Fox and could not make a film for Republic Pictures (where Gene made his films). However she talked to the studios and convinced them to have Gene appear in one movie with her at 20th Century Fox. This marked the only time Gene ever made a film for 20th Century Fox and one of the rare times his screen character was not named Gene Autry. Also in this movie were Jack Carson and Charles Middleton (movie serial fans might know him for playing Ming the Merciless in the Flash Gordon serials).

Now for a message from the Reverend Billy Graham. 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. Jeremiah 32:17 

Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue forever before thee: for thou, O Lord GOD, hast spoken: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed forever. 2Samuel 7:29

Thank you for joining me. Come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again. 


Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster (2010)


This live action made for TV movie is a sequel to Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins (2009). It is excellent when it focuses on the mystery and less so when it focuses on romance. 

In this film the gang gets summer jobs caddying at a country club owned by Daphne's uncle. Here they learn about a creepy legend of a lake monster and witch who controls him. When the monster crashes a party, the gang has yet another mystery on their hands.

What works about this movie the best is the typical mystery and spooky elements. The villains here are wonderfully and delightfully spooky. The lake monster has a really creepy design and the cheaper CGI actually works perfectly to give him a more other worldly feel. The scene with the character's backstory is also wonderfully done. The climatic scene of this film is also delightfully creepy. I could easily see this scaring me as a kid and that gives me great respect for this film. The reveal of who the witch is wonderful. It is a fantastic mystery as it takes some figuring to guess but all the clues add up perfectly. This movie also does a great job of capturing the delightfully atmospheric look and feel of Scooby-Doo! Where Are You in live action.

The humor is hit and miss here but I admit that there are a few jokes that made me laugh. Also even though Scooby himself is underused in this film, I did really enjoy some of his cartoony slapstick here.  

Unfortunately this film spends too much time on the romance between the characters. Fred and Daphne are dating and he thinks it is serious and she doesn't. Meanwhile Shaggy has a crush on Velma but is afraid to tell her. This leads to some really bland soap opera like shenanigans, we have seen a million times and done much better. The problem is that this takes up too much time away from the mystery and considering how well done the mystery is here, I definitely wish that we could have spent more time there. This film came out the same year the TV show, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated premiered and frankly that show did this much much better. I will also say that Nick Palatas often tried too hard with his Shaggy voice and this could get a little distracting and annoying. If he toned it down a little, it could have been a much better performance. 

All in all this is a very uneven movie and when it works, it works very well and when it doesn't it falls flat. 

There were two more live action Scooby-Doo! made for TV movies planned but due to disagreements between Warner Bros. and Cartoon Network, this never happened. The first was already written and had begun the storyboarding process. The other was in the process of being written. 

Saturday, October 29, 2022

The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo!: Horror Scope Scoob (1985)


Luckily the last episode of this wonderful series is a gem. Unfortunately it doesn't finish the show's storyline. 

 In this episode, our heroes are asked to appear on Boris Kreepoff's TV show, where they will talk about their ghost chasing adventures. Zimbulu, one of the 13 ghosts hires Weerd and Bogel to steal the Chest of Demons. However someody steals thw chest before he can. Our heroes must find who stole the chest before Zimbulu.

This is a really fun episode that combines a classic-style Scooby mystery with real ghosts and monsters. The mystery is a pretty good one that keeps the viewer engaged and there is a pretty good twist towards the end. Zimbulu is a wonderful villain, who is delightfully creepy looking and has a wonderfully intimidating voice. This episode also does a wonderful job of creating a really spooky atmosphere and the background art is once again wonderful. Some zombies appear briefly and I love their creepy designs. While this may not be one of the show's funniest episodes, it does have some really good gags that I simply loved. 

The problem with this episode is that it is the last one and that not all the ghosts have been captured. I simply wish that the show could have done a couple more episodes to finish its storyline. It is unfortunate that the first Scooby-Doo show with an overarching storyline, can't finish its own story. Much later there would be a direct to video movie, that would attempt to finish the storyline called, Scooby-Doo! and The Curse of the 13th Ghost (2019). Unfortunately this movie's continuity with this series was very loose and it would go against what made this series stand out among other Scooby-Doo! shows. 

This would mark the last appearance of Scrappy in a Scooby-Doo! episode, though he would later play a major role in the made for TV movies, Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf (1988), Scooby-Doo! and the Ghoul School (1988) and Scooby-Doo! Meets the Boo Brothers (1987). 

Some Cartoons for Saturday Morning #197

 Hello my friends and happy Saturday morning. It is time for a special Halloween themed selection of classic cartoons.

Today's cartoon selection begins with one of my favorite Halloween time films ever (including live action feature films), Trick or Treat (1956). In this cartoon Donald Duck goes up against not only his nephews but a witch named Witch Hazel. Looney Tunes fans will recognize this name as the Bugs Bunny antagonist from a few short cartoons. The similarities between the two witches go deeper than just their name. They were both voiced by June Foray (though the Looney Tunes character was voiced by Bea Benederet (Betty Rubble) in her first cartoon in all the subsequent films she would be voiced by June Foray). Trick or Treat's director Jack Hannah would later recall in a 1978 interview, “I enjoyed directing Trick or Treat because I got a chance to work with a different personality. June Foray, who did such a great job as the voice of the witch, still mentions the film to me whenever I see her.” In a 1995 interview June Foray stated, “I did Witch Hazel as a short at Disney. She was a very funny character that I created the voice for. Chuck Jones loved it so much that he called me over to Warner Brothers to do her again. I went over there and they said, ‘You’re going to do Witch Hazel.’ And I thought, ‘how in hell are they going to do that?’ Disney owns it and they’re so litigious. But we did it. Chuck just went ahead and did it! So I asked him, just a couple of years ago, ‘How the heck did you ever do that and get away with it, taking a character out from under Disney’s nose?’ And he said, ‘Because it was an alcohol rub! He didn’t own the name!’ So Disney couldn’t capitalize on that or stop Chuck because it was already a copyrighted name.” Disney's Witch Hazel would appear in other Disney media besides just animated cartoons. She would appear in the 1953 Little Golden Book, Donald and the Witch for instance. Most importantly though Carl Barks would adapt Trick or Treat into a comic book adaption. Though it deviated from the source material in certain ways, Barks would reuse some of Witch Hazel's dialogue from the film. 

Now we join The Inspector for Transylvania Mania (1968). The ending of this film makes it obvious what time period this was made in. 

Up next is Porky Pig and Sylvester in Claws For Alarm (1954). This short film is the second of two cartoons with the two characters staying in a creepy building that is full of mice wanting to scare Sylvester out of his mind. Sylvester sees all the dangerous things going on in the hotel but Porky does not making Porky think Sylvester is crazy. This plot was used before in Scaredy Cat (1948), however there are enough differences to not make this feel like a complete repeat of the earlier film. The idea of a scared Sylvester and an oblivious Porky in a frightening situation was reused again later in Jumpin' Jupiter (1955). All three films were directed by Chuck Jones and feature no dialogue from Sylvester at all. Claws for Alarm would later be used in the feature length compilation movie, Daffy Duck's Quackbusters (1988). The ending gag of this short made it a favorite for me as a kid. 

Now for a real Halloween classic, Betty Boop's Halloween Party (1933). If Halloween parties were more like this everyone would want to go. The following are a couple exhibitor's reviews from The Motion Picture Herald. "BETTY BOOP'S HALLOWEEN PARTY: Talkar- toons—Better than the average Betty Boop. Good short for any program. Running time one reel. -H.E. Newberry, Y.M.C.A. Theatre, Whale Shoals, S.C. Small Town Patronage." "BETTY BOOP'S HALLOWEEN PARTY: Betty Boop Cartoons - Good cartoon and sound. It's just a toss up which is the best cartoon, 'Mickey Mouse,' 'Betty Boop' or 'Popeye the Sailor,' with 'Popeye' slightly in the lead. S.H. Rich, Rich Theatre, Montpelier, Idaho, Small Town and Rural Patronage."

Now it is time for a commercial break. 

The famous cat and mouse were not the first cartoon duo named Tom and Jerry. In the 1930's the Van Beuren Studio made a series of short films featuring human cartoon characters named Tom and Jerry (later TV showings would rename the characters Dick and Larry). Joseph Barbera commented on this in his autobiography My Life in Toons: From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century. There he wrote, "Historians of animation might point out that one of Van Beuren's justly forgotten series featured a pair of characters named Tom and Jerry. This was the era of rubber-limed animation - when as far as movement was concerned arms and legs might as well have been worms - and Van Beuren's Tom and Jerry, humanoid if not precisely human, bore a far closer resemblance to the funny papers' Mutt and Jeff than to the cat and mouse Bill Hanna and I would invent in 1940." Up next is the first cartoon featuring these characters, Wot a Night (1931). This film is not only their first cartoon but also one of their best. By the way if you ever wonder which one is Tom and which is Jerry refer to this film. 

The next cartoon features the character who would soon be known as Mighty Mouse. Frankenstein's Cat (1942) marks the character's second appearance and in my mind is one of his best films. You may notice that the narrator's voice changes as he says, "Mighty Mouse." This is because at the time this movie was made the character's name was still Super Mouse. After the character was renamed, this part of a the narration was dubbed over. The name change was made to avoid confusion with a comic book character called Super Mouse.  Mighty Mouse is a better name for the character anyway. In the first Super Mouse film, the character lived in a supermarket and gained his powers after using all sorts of items with the word super in the name. Here he still lives in a supermarket but gets his power from Limburger cheese. 

Next is one of my favorite of the Walter Lantz produced Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons, Spooks (1930). This cartoon parodies the 1925 silent feature film version of Phantom of the Opera. That feature film is perfectly parodied in this short film's unmasking scenes, which parodies probably one of the most famous scenes of that feature. 

Today's cartoon selection ends with The Pink Panther in Pink Plasma (1975). 

Thanks for joining me come back next week for another selection of animated treasures. Until then may all your tunes be looney and your melodies merry. 

Resources Used

My Life in Toons: From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century by Joseph Barbera

Friday, October 28, 2022

Movie Review: Till


Michael's Movie Grade: A-

An incredibly moving film. 

This movie is based off of the true-life story of Emmit Till, a young 14-year-old boy, who in the 1950's visited the south to see family and was brutally murdered by racists. Naturally this is not always an easy film to watch and that is why it should be seen. After the senseless murder of this innocent teenager, it is hard not to feel a wealth of complicated emotions fueled by sadness and anger. The fact that something like this could happen in our country, in a part of our history that is not as long ago as we like to pretend it was, is heartbreaking and scary. What this movie so powerfully does is show us that this is not just historical facts that we may hear or read about, but something that happened to real people who thoughts and feelings just like we have. This makes the message hard to ignore or overlook. Watching this film we have to look at a very dark moment in our history face to face. Though we all know this story, this film tells it in a way that is much more human and personal. The main characters here are presented in a completely three dimensional and real manner and the acting from everyone in the cast is top notch, which draws us into the emotion of the story very deeply. Yet this movie also has an important message of standing up for what is right even when it is incredibly difficult. It teaches us that we need to stand up against any injustice and we can't just say that it doesn't affect us. The character arc of the mother is incredibly powerful and inspiring, even among such great sadness and it is here that this becomes much more than just another tearjerker, but a call to arms against the mistreating of anyone. 

A powerfully sad, but incredibly inspiring film. 

The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo!: The Ghouliest Show on Earth (1985)


A wonderfully creepy episode. 

In this episode the gang heads to Dooville to visit Scooby's parents. When they get there no one is there to meet them. Instead they are all at a traveling circus where everything is free. The gang is having the time of their lives there, but Scooby and Shaggy discover there is something much more sinister going on and Flim Flam may be in extreme danger. 

There is something about a circus setting that always brings out the creepiest side to the Scooby franchise and this episode is no exception. While most Scooby adventures have villains that look and outwardly act creepy, this episode does the exact opposite. The main villain looks like a normal person and pretends to be a good guy. This is honestly quite a bit creepier, because it gives one the feeling that no one can be trusted and makes us realize that if this as real, we could easily fall into the same trap. There is something creepy about something sinister hiding underneath something that seems so pleasant and innocent as a free circus. This episode understands that and does a wonderful job of building up the suspense and creating an uncomfortable feeling in its audience. Even with the darker edge, this episode still has some really good humor, I especially love the bizarre reoccurring joke involving the man married to a cow. Even for this series that is an incredibly surreal and off-beat joke, and that just makes it all the funnier.  

The only complaint, I have aout this episode is that when the true nature of the circus is reveled the designs aren't as creepy as they should be. However this is a small complaint for such a good episode. 


Thursday, October 27, 2022

Movie Review: Eternal Spring


Michael's Movie Grade: B+

An excellent animated documentary. 

This film is about a group of people in China from the Falun Gong spiritual movement. This movement has been outlawed in China and to stand up against this and for their faith they take over a Chinese TV station to talk about their faith.

This film is an example of a type of documentary that is becoming more popular and that I simply love. This is the animated documentary. This movie has the real-life people tell their stories, while these stories are accompanied by live action. This works perfectly and I am glad to see more movies in recent years embrace this idea. Documentaries that consist heavily of interviews and talking can have a way of feeling uncinematic and visually bland. However, documentaries that feature live action reenactments of events have a way of feeling phony. Yet with animation, there can be visually accompaniment to the dialogue while feeling like an illustration rather than a reenactment. This especially works well here as the animation brings a sense of excitement and suspense to the film. In fact, this movie can feel like a really good action and suspense film at times. The scenes with them trying to take over the TV station feel like they could have been from a fun heist movie. This is helped by the fact that we actually get an idea of who the people involved were (and are). We don't just get a rundown of a historical event but a deeply human movie. However, this film has much more to say than a simple suspense movie. This movie shows how the Chinese government oppresses people from many different religions and the extreme cruelty they use to implement the banning of various religions. This gives us a dark and disturbing look at how a government can oppress a people. Many of the scenes are hard to look at or see because of the cruelty involved. Yet it is important to know that such things happen in our world. 

This movie does have one major fault that really hurts it. That is the film's description of Falun Gong is incredibly vague. Little is said about it that can't apply to other spiritual movements. Those who know nothing about this movement will leave the theater knowing not much more. This is a problem as our main characters are being tortured and risking (or even losing) their lives over it. With that in mind, I think it would be important to know what they believe and why it is so important to them.

A very involving and well-made film.  

The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo!: Coast-to-Ghost (1985)


A delightfully spooky episode. 

In thi episode, the gang faces off against Rankor, one of the 13 Ghosts. Rankor tricks Vincent Van Ghoul to look into the eye of a jewel that begins turning him to tone. Our heroes team up with Weerd and Bogel (who are using the gang to get to the chest of demons) to save the day. 

This is a truly delightful episode. Rankor is a great villain he is incredibly powerful and a huge threat to our heroes. He also a wonderfully creepy design. Yet at the same time there is a fun childish side to his personality (as is evidenced by his less than creepy voice). His goal is simply to impress an elite group of spooks, so he can be a member of this gang. This gives us a wonderful combination of the creepy and the silly, which is just what I love about Scooby-Doo! Adding to the fun is the delightfully creepy designs of the group of ghosts our main villain wants to join. These characters are pretty darn creepy but never too much so to take away from the silliness of much of this episode. Speaking of silliness, Weerd and Bogel are shown to great advantage in this episode and get some truly great gags. This episode also has a great atomspheric feel to it that is simply a lot of fun. 

If I were to make any complaints about this episode, it would be about the cops that are here for comedy relief but are never that funny. 

All in all this episode is a lot of fun.   

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Classic Short Film: Buzzy Boop at the Concert (1938)

It is a cause of rejoicing in every movie buff's life when a "lost" film has been found. Especially when the film is a Fleischer cartoon and has been restored as beautifully as this one. For more information on this cartoon and how it came back, click here to read about it from animation historian Jerry Beck.

The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo!: Scooby in Kwackyland


An episode that seems tailor fitted to me.

In this episode Demondo, one of the 13 Ghosts traps our heroes in the newspaper comics page. 

For pretty much my whole life I have loved newspaper comics and to have an episode of Scooby-Doo! that is a tribute to this wonderful artform is something that really appeals to me. I love that the comic strips that the characters visit are loosely based off real comic strips. They have their basis in these real comic strips but are not simply parodies or copies of the famous comic strips. Instead they are their own thing. Also to see these characters interact in a completely different type of environment (and one that is so dear to me) is something that was a lot of fun. The artwork here really takes advantage of this unique environment for Scooby and it is just as delightful to look at as your typical Scooby artwork. There is also quite a bit of good humor in this episode and the scene with Weerd and Bogel impersonating Shaggy and Daphne was simply delightful.

If I had one complaint it would be that Demondo's design is not all that creepy or memorable. 

This is a really fun episode. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Movie Review: Tár


Michael's Movie Grade: A+

A brilliant and thought-provoking character study.

Though Lydia Tár is a fictional character by the end of this film she feels more real to us than the real-life characters in real musical biopics do. She is an endlessly complex character whose actions can range from cruel to kind. These contradictions only make her feel more well. This is because we all have moments when we can be very kind or when we can be very mean. Real people are far from perfect but are also very capable of being nice. These types of contradictions are also quite common in people who have a brilliant artistic mind, which this character certainly does. They also make the overwhelming stress she is going through seem more real. She is a brilliant and much praised musical conductor who is who working on a major and often stressful project. Meanwhile she is having much trouble at home with her wife as well as intense conflicts with others in her life. At the same time as this she is being accused of sexually exploiting another conductor, who has recently committed suicide. There is no telling how we would act in the same situation. Through much of the movie we are seeing things through her eyes and feeling like we are right there with her. We practically breathe when she breathes. There is no way to deny that much of this is due to the always wonderful Cate Blanchett giving one of the finest performances of her career (and that is saying a lot). Yet there are major gaps in our understanding of who this character is. How we chose to fill in these gaps can completely change our understanding of the movie as whole. Depending how you feel in these gaps she can either being an innocent victim or a truly deplorable person. We might automatically assume the first option because she is the main character of the film and have become so invested in her character. This gives us an automatic bias, but there are times when we are unsure whether we can trust this bias. Yet when we fall into these moments of doubt, we have to ask ourselves, if we are the same as those who are accusing her with no proof at all. This also provides us with an uncomfortable look at today's social media influenced world where anyone's judgements on someone will be taken by many as absolute truth. Because of all this, this is a movie that cannot be watched passively. If you watch this while you are starting to doze off or (when it gets out of theaters) while doing things around the house, you will miss the entire point of the film and everything that makes it great. However when you truly experiance this film, it is a true masterpiece. 

This is director/writer Todd Feild's third feature film and his first since 2006's Little Children. If his fourth feature film is anywhere near as good as this, I hope we don't have to wait anywhere near as long for it.  

Halloween Spooks and Movie Theatre Owners

 I have stated before that one of my favorite things about old movie magazines is these articles where the magazine writers will give advice to movie theatre owners about how to promote various films and put on special shows that will attract crowds. The following is a wonderful article from Boxoffice Magazine giving advice on how to put on a Halloween show. For any trouble reading click on the following pages and use your touch screen to zoom in. 

The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo!: It's A Wonderful Scoob (1985)


One of my favorite Scooby-Doo! episodes ever. 

In this episode, the gang faces off against Time Slime, one of the 13 Ghosts who has gotten the power to control time. Time Slime gets ahold of Scooby-Doo personally and scares him further than even he has been scared before. This causes Scooby to actually quit the gang. Without Scooby's help the gang hires a new dog to take his place. Unfortunately this dog proves to be completely useless to the gang and quite boring for the viewers at home. Kids everywhere not only stop watching the show, but they won't eat, go to school or anything until Scooby comes back on his show. This gets so dire, even President Ronald Reagan gets involved. However this isn't the worst of it. Without the help of Scooby, the gang loses and Time Slime takes over the world. Vincent Van Ghoul then takes Scooby to the future where he can see what happens to the world with Time Slime in charge. 

This is a perfect episode and I love everything about it. While there is a lot of humor, seeing what happens to the gang without Scooby has some very dark undertones that help make this one of the best written stories of the series. In fact this whole episode does an amazing job of balancing the humor, the creepiness and the story. It is also great to see how much more Scooby means to the gang than being a comedy relief cowardly dog. Time Slime is a wonderful villain and definitely one of the greatest threats the gang has been up against thus far. Yet the humor here is some of the best Scooby humor ever. The fourth wall breaking humor here is fantastic and cracks me up every time, especially the scene with Ronald Reagan. 

I can not praise this episode enough. 


Monday, October 24, 2022

Movie Trailer: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Movie Trailer: Jesus Revolution

The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo!: When You Witch Upon a Star (1985)


A delightful Scooby episode.

In this episode Marcella, one of the 13 Ghosts gives three inept witches a powerful book of spells, so thet can release her from the Zone of Eternal Evil, where she has been trapped. The gang goes to get the book of spells away from the three witches, while Vincent Van Ghoul, goes to the Zone of Eternal Evil to stop Marcella in person. 

This is a very fun episode. The humor works especially well here. The three witches are based on The Three Stooges. While as a huge Three Stooges fan, I know nothing can top the actual Stooges, these are really fun takes on the classic funny men of the movies. After seeing the gang take on some of the most powerful ghosts in the world, it is a nice change of pace to see them face off against three silly and fun characters as these. Yet we still get the spookiness and major threat with Marcella, who is delightfully creepy and whose magic is even a major threat to the great Vincent Van Ghoul. The story itself moves at a fast pace and is never dull for a moment. Yet despite this fast pace, it also never feels rushed. All the members of the gang get time to shine here and none of them are ever pushed to the background. This episode also benefits from the wonderful background art that so many of us Scooby fans love. 

I love a little in-joke here, where Scooby changes the channel on Vincent's crystal ball and finds a re-run of Scooby-Doo! Where Are You?

All in all this is a very fun episode.  

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Cowboy Church #192

 Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church. 

Today’s musical selection begins with Roy Rogers singing What a Friend we Have in Jesus. One of the most wonderful things about being a Christian is that we can have a personal friendship with our lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We can always talk to him personally about anything that is happening in our lives, whether that is something that is making us happy or something that we are struggling with. 

This is followed by Hank Snow singing Lord It’s Me Again.

Next comes Anne Wilson with That's What We Need. Mark 8:36 states "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Nothing this world (even the most wonderful things) can offer can compare to what God offers us every single day. There is no problem with enjoying the creation, but the creation is not what we need in this life. What we need is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This recording comes from Anne's 2022 debut album, My Jesus

 Next comes The Carter Family's classic 1927 recording of Can The Circle Be Unbroken. This song was based off of the 1907 Christian hymn (written by Charles H. Gabriel and Ada R. Habershon), Will the Circle Be Unbroken. Uncle A.P. Carter reworked this song changing the lyrics to be about the death of a mother. Though this version would be covered by an incredible amount of artists, many of them would change the title back to Will the Circle Be Unbroken as well as changing that one word in the chorus. However these cover versions would use A.P.'s lyrics for the rest of the song. This is one of my all-time favorite songs, because it is a sad song, but one which also finds hope within its darkness. This is a song about trusting in God in times when it is very difficult to, which is something many gospel songs don't cover but which many Christians struggle with. 

Now for Randy Travis with Which Way Will You Choose. This recording comes from Randy's 2000 album, Inspirational Journey. This was his first, but certainly not his last, gospel album. 

Afterwards is Johnny Cash with The Old Rugged Cross.  This version of the song comes from John's 1975 album, Johnny Cash Sing Precious Memories. This album (which entirely consists of traditional gospel songs) abandons John's traditional sound for a more lush and orchestrated sound. Much of this was due to arrangements by Bill Walker, who had been the musical director for John's TV show. This album was dedicated to John's late brother Jack, who had died at the age of 15 in a sawmill accident. His death took its toll on John and affected him for the rest of his life. This is written on the back of the album, "Dear Jack, We lost you one sad day in May 1944. I was twelve years old. Some of these songs were the songs we sang at your funeral. As you were dying you gave us a description of heaven and singing angels. Could these be some of the songs the angels were singing? See you later. Your little brother J.R."

Then comes The Sons of the Pioneers with How Will I Know Him. This song was written by one of the group's founding members, Bob Nolan. Roy Rogers (who was another founding member of the group) once stated about Bob Nolan, " I just don’t think he liked show business to start with. He was just that type of guy. He was his own man and he didn’t particularly enjoy it like the rest of us did. Bob was kind of a private man. I’ve known him since 1932 and he was a very quiet man. He didn’t like groups, crowds, or anything. I’ve seen him sit out and gaze off into the sunset and he was writing a song all the time but you didn’t know it. When you go over some of the lyrics he that wrote, he really did a lot of deep thinking about it." 

Today's musical selection ends with The Sons of the San Joaquin with It is Well with My Soul.  Though this is a hymn of hope and peace it was written in a time of great sadness. The song was written by Horatio G. Spafford in 1873. He had planned a European trip for himself, his wife and four daughters, however because of his work he was unable to go, and he let his family go without him and after he finished his work, he would meet them there. However, the ship was hit and quickly sank. Though his wife was saved all four of his daughters had gone down with the ship. Amazingly he wrote this hymn when approaching an area near where his daughters had sunk. 


This week's movie trailer is for a true classic John Ford's Stagecoach (1939). Today this is often remembered as the film that rocketed John Wayne from starring in B movies to major A pictures and that established him as one of the most iconic movie cowboys. This was also the first western director John Ford had made in 12 years and helped establish him as one of the finest directors the genre ever had. This was also his first movie to be shot in Monument Valley (located on the border between Airzonia and Utah), where he would shot many of his best films. In fact the area is now sometimes called John Ford Country. Coming out in what was considered Hollywood's greatest year, it would have been easy for this film to completely get lost among the score of great movies realesed in 1939. However with incredible perfromances, an intellgent script and great direction this movie rised above much of its competion to be considered a truly great film. At this time westerns were known as B movies and not something Hollywood took seriously. This film did a lot to change that. In fact this movie was even nominated for Best Picture (it lost to Gone With the Wind (1939)). This was not its only Oscar nomination. Joh Ford was nominated for Best Director, Bert Glennon for his cinematography, Alexander Toluboff for his art direction, Otho Lovering and Dorothy Spencer for their editing and Richard Hageman, W. Franke Harling, John Leipold and Leo Shuken for their music. Thomas Mitchell won for Best Supporting Actor. This was a great year for him as he also starred in the year's Best Picture, Gone with the Wind. This was a huge step towards Western films being taken seriously as an art. 

The following is an article from a 1968 issue of Hollywood Studio Magazine. If you have any trouble reading the pages click on them an use your touch to zoom in.

Next is C.S. Lewis' essay, The Horrid Red Things.

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 1 Peter 1:13

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5

 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. Isaiah 9:3

The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing. Proverbs 10:28

 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:17

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:22

A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word! Proverbs 15:23

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Thank you for joining me. Come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again. 

Resources Used

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die edited by Steven Jay Schneider

The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo!: A Spooky Little Ghoul Like You (1985)


An excellent Scooby episode. 

Vincent Van Ghoul is the winner of this year's Warlock of the Year Award. The gang travels to New Orleans to watch him win one of the awards. Unfortunately they are not the only ones in attendance. One of the 13 Ghosts is there as well. This ghost is the demon, Nekara. On the Friday the 13th, she gains the power to make any warlock to fall in love with her. Then with one kiss she can drain them of all their power and gain the power for herself. Unfortunately she sets her sights on Vincent Van Ghoul. It's up to our heroes to save their friend.

This is a completely delightful episode. Nekara is a wonderful villain. She is incredibly powerful and feels like a major threat to our heroes. While she isn't scary per-say, she is very intimidating, and her design perfectly fits her seductive personality perfectly. She does still get one great spooky moment (a scene in a graveyard), that is delightfully creepy. It is also great to get an episode that centers around Vincent Van Ghoul, who does a wonderful job headlining his own episode.  Yet the gang also gets some great moments to shine, especially Scooby and Shaggy's scenes with the gargoyles. Though this episode is more story driven then comedy driven, some of the jokes do land very well. I especially like the joke involving the gang pretending to be Vincent's kids. 

On the downside, I don't think this episode takes enough advantage of its New Orleans atmosphere, but this is a small complaint. 

All in all this is a delightful episode. 

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Michael's Christmas Movie Guide: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)


A true holiday (a two holiday in fact) classic. 

To talk about the story of this film feels silly, as you all know it. Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King, which means he is in charge of the Halloween festivities in Halloween town. Yet deep inside he longs for something a little different in his life. To find what this is he leaves Halloween Town. When he finds Christmas Town he is in awe of what he sees and wants to help spread Christmas cheer by bringing it to Halloween Town and giving Santa Claus (or Sandy Claws) a night off. Unfortunately he still has a lot to learn about Christmas and messes things up. However when the evil Oogie Boogie gets a hold of Santa, Jack may just have to save Christmas and Halloween. 

Co-writer and producer (as well as the writer of the original poem this film was based off of), Tim Burton stated that a major influence on this movie was the Rankin and Bass stop motion TV movies, such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964). This is very evident and what makes this film work is what made those movies work. That is to say that this movie is an example of a simple story wonderfully told. As we live in a time period, where it is often believed that bigger is better, it is important to remember that sometimes there is an incredible beauty in simplicity. This is especially true when it comes to holiday movies, especially those revolving around holidays that were such an integral part to our childhoods such as Halloween and Christmas. Perhaps this is why this film brings so many people back to their childhoods as it perfectly captures the childlike simple joy that Halloween and Christmas can bring. This movie has a short runtime for a feature film (only 76 minutes), but it never feels like anything more is needed than what we see. The story moves by at a fast (but never rushed) pace and retains its wonderful charm for every second. This is not only a testament to Tim Burton's wonderful story but also the mastery of director Henry Selick (who also directed James and the Giant Piece (1996) and Coraline (2009)). He knows how to keep the story moving and fun all the way through. 

There is still much more to recommend about this film. I have long been a fan of composer/songwriter Danny Elfman, whether it be his movie scores or his work with the rock band Oingo Boingo. Here he is at the top of his game. Every song is wonderfully catchy and fun. They also perfectly capture the feel of this movie. As such they not only sound good on their own but they add to the story and atmosphere of the film. Not only this but Danny Elman lends his beautiful singing voice to Jack Skellington himself (Chris Sarandon provides the character's speaking voice). This is also a beautiful looking movie. Every scene is filled with visual beauty. There is a lot of work and many little touches in the environments of Halloween Town and Christmas Town. You may not notice these little touches upon your first viewing, but you can feel the extra care that went into them, and this heavily enhances the viewing experience. These perfectly capture the magic of both holidays making it perfect holiday viewing. The character designs are also perfect. There is a bit of creepy feel to these characters, but there is also a lot of sweet and likable charm to how they look as well. Tim Burton once said of Jack, "He looks scary but really isn't." Again, how much work and care that went into these characters can be fully felt. 

Tim Burton wrote the poem this film was based off of when he was a Disney animator in 1980. He felt the story would make a great TV special, but the Disney studio showed little interest in such an idea. After Tim Burton had great success with his Batman movies and had established himself as a filmmaker, the studio would finally show interest in the idea this time as a stop motion animated feature film. However, despite this the studio would not release the film under the Disney label. Instead, they released it under the Touchstone Pictures label, which is where the studio released their more adult oriented films. The reason for this is that the studio felt the movie was too scary for small kids. 

This movie was a modest success when originally released to theaters. However, over the years it has deservedly become considered a real classic. This is both a Halloween and a Christmas movie and it is more than good enough to watch during both seasons.

Resources Used

Christmas in the Movies by Jeremy Arnold 

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #196

 Hello my friends and happy Saturday morning. Once again it is time for some classic cartoons. 

Today's cartoon selection begins with the first of Chuck Jones' cartoons featuring Charlie Dog, Little Orphan Airedale (1947). Despite this being the first Charlie Dog cartoon, the template for these films was clearly set up by the Bob Clampett cartoon, Porky's Pooch (1941). This film is pretty much a remake of that earlier film. This cartoon also has one of my favorite Chuck Jones jokes in it, where Charlie tells us why he "shouldn't be roughly handled." 

Curse of the Pink Panther (1983) is by far my least favorite of all the feature length Pink Panther movies. This was the first of The Pink Panther features (with the exception of Inspesctor Clouseau (1968)) to not feature Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau. Instead of recasting the character for a whole movie, it was decided that this film would star a new character, Sgt. Clifton Sleigh, who would be played by Ted Wass. Ted Wass stated in a studio publicity release, "Blake Edwards says that if Clouseau was Charlie Chaplin then Sleigh is Harold Lloyd." If only the character was anywhere near as funny as Harold Lloyd. Unfortunately this has the biggest fault any Pink Panther movie can have and that is that there are very few laughs. The only good thing about this movie is the animated opening credits. Like Trail of the Pink Panther this sequence would be directed by the always wonderful Art Leonardi, who was a veteran of Warner Brothers and DePatie-Freleng (which did the opening titles for most of the previous Pink Panther feature films) and was produced by Marvel Productions (DePatie-Freleng's successor). The title sequences for this film and Trail of the Pink Panther were produced back to back, much like how the live action majority of both movies were filmed simultaneously. This sequence is a delight and should have been part of a much better film. 

Now we join our good friend Gandy Goose in The Frame-up (1938).

Next we join Goofy in The Olympic Champ (1942). As I have stated many times on this blog, the Goofy cartoons, Jack Kinney directed for Disney are some of my favorite cartoons of all time. This short perfectly shows why, it is a fast moving and very funny example of slapstick humor at its best. To me Jack Kinney was a master of pure cartoon slapstick and deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Tex Avery or Chuck Jones. This short film made its TV debut on the episode of the Disneyland TV show, The Goofy Sports Story (1956). It would appear again on the episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, In Shape with Von Drake (1964). 

Now it is time for a commercial break.

Now for something completely different here is a completely serious cartoon short of the 1950's, The Tell-Tale Heart (1953). This film is not surprisingly from the UPA studio. The UPA studio at this time sought to move away from the violent slapstick of Warner Brothers or MGM cartoons, or the more realistic "illusion of life" featured in many Disney cartoons. They often experimented with what could be done with the color and design in animated films. These films often experimented with flat backgrounds, purposely limited animation and abstract color schemes that reflect the emotion of a scene rather than what something would really look like. As is true of all cartoon studios that do a lot of experimenting, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. Tell-Tale Heart is one of the most successful and one of the most extreme experiments. Most American audiences at this time had never seen an animated short quite like this and many would never see something like this again. When a 1954 article in Home Movies talking about the Cannes Film Festival got to Disney's Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom (1953) winning a prize, the writer had this to say, "It is unpardonable however that Disney should so openly and fully steal the style of the cartoon developed by the most excellent groups of artists, Steven Bosustow's UPA. It was no secret this was the case among those as the festival as UPA is well known and well respected in France. It is a shame that UPA recent and excellent 3D cartoon, The Tell-Tale Heart could not be shown at the festival, for it most certainly won the prize awarded to Disney." This cartoon is placed at 24 in Jerry Beck's book, The 50 Greatest Cartoons

Next enjoy one of the Fleischer Studio's early Talkartoons, Wise Flies (1930). 

Next comes the Coyote and Roadrunner in Rushing Roulette (1965). This film was made after Chuck Jones had left the Warner Brothers cartoon studio and therefore unlike the earlier Roadrunner films, this one was not directed by Chuck Jones. Instead this cartoon was directed by Robert McKimson. 

Today's cartoon selection ends with one of the Simpsons shorts for The Tracey Ullman Show, Zoo Story (1988). 

Thanks for joining me. Come back next week for another selection of animated gems until then may all your tunes be looney and your melodies merry. 

Resources Used

The 50 Greatest Cartoons edited by Jerry Beck

Pink Panther: The Ultimate Guide to the Coolest Cat in Town! by Jerry Beck

Of Mice and Magic: A History of the American Animated Cartoon by Leonard Maltin.


The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo!: Ship of Ghouls (1985)


One of the best episodes of this series.

After so many encounters with real ghosts Scooby is left traumatized. The gang decides that Scooby could use a vacation to calm his nerves. So the gang goes on a cruise. Unfortunately for Scooby the two ghosts, Weerd and Bogel follow them and scare Scooby at every turn. This makes Scooby's nerves even more shot. Flim-Flam decides to hypnotize Scooby to laugh at danger instead being scared. However when the gang turns out to be in real danger, this turns out not to have been the best idea. 

I love everything about this episode. Though it is heavily played for laughs, the idea of Scooby being pushed too far after too many ghost encounters is a great one. The fact that this series would explore such an idea shows why I love it so much. I also have how creepy this episode is. There is a real eeriness here that works fantastically. Some of the twists and villain designs are delightfully creepy. Speaking of twists and turns, this episode has some great ones and each one makes the episode more creepy, suspenseful and exciting. What makes this all the more impressive is that the episode accomplishes all this so well, while still being a very comedy heavy episode. The comedy itself is quite funny and at the same time never distracts from the great storyline. 

This to me is a near perfect episode.  

Friday, October 21, 2022

Movie Review: Black Adam


Michael's Movie Grade: B+

An excellent superhero film. 

This may not be one of the most complex or groundbreaking superhero films, but it is a really fun movie. I love how DC lately has been balancing out its very serious and dark movies with some more lighthearted and fun ones. This movie is of the latter variety and it provided this superhero fan with a very fun trip to the movies. This is somehow Dwayne Johnson's first live action superhero movie and he excels at it. This is a passion project for him and it shows here. He works perfectly as this famous anti-hero, balancing out this character's darker side with the actor's natural likability. The Rock simply brings a likable quality to pretty much every character he plays, and that works here as it makes us easily root for this character, even when what he is doing is morally questionable. Yet the character doesn't simply come off as The Rock instead of Black Adam, as some of the scenes require him to go a bit out of his typical screen persona. Yet he handles these scenes very well. Still The Rock is not the only actor who works very well here. My favorite Superhero comic books are the Justice Society comics and I am happy to say the filmmakers and actors did a wonderful job with these characters. Pierce Brosnan is perfect as Dr. Fate, and I don't think I could have picked anyone better for the role. His performance is simply how I picture the character when reading the comics. I was also happy to see one of my favorite Justice Society characters Cyclone here, and though the character is not given enough time to shine (I do wish she got to go on one of her excited talkfests here like in the comics) Quintessa Swindell is wonderful in the role and does a good job capturing the great charm of this character. This film also has a quite good storyline. While it doesn't offer anything in this department that superhero movies haven't done before, it delivers this familiar story very well. There was never a moment where I was bored or uninterested in what was happening on screen. It also moves at a really fast pace and doesn't feel like it is too hours. The humor is also very good here. The banter between Black Adam in the Justice Society is often quite funny and Black Adam gets some really good one liners. 

This movie does have some faults though. Like many DC films, there is some very forced and awkward dialogue, especially the open narration. As I said before the story feels quite familiar and there are times when it feels too obvious what is going to happen next. There are two rock songs used during action scenes and both feel out of place. There is also often an overreliance on CGI during the action scenes and it can be really obvious at times. 

All in all this is a really fun superhero movie and just what I love to see from DC. 

The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo!: That's Monstertainment (1985)



A wonderful Scooby adventure. 

In this episode our heroes sit down to watch an old horror movie on TV. Unfortantly the creepy ghoul hosting the movie happens to be on the 13 ghosts and ends up trapping our heroes within the film in an attempt to get the chest of demons before the gang can trap them in it. 

This is a Scooby episode that focuses heavily on the comedy and it succeds very well. Probally much of this is due to the fact that one of the writers is Tom Ruegger, who would go on to create Animaniacs. There is a lot of playful parodying of the classic Universal horror films. This paordying shows great respect for the movies it is parodying and should delight my fellow fans of those films. The episode even does a great job capturing the look and espically the lighting of those classic horror films. This gives the episode a very unique feel among Scooby episodes. The episode not only parodies those classic horror films but also the classic Popeye cartoons in one of the most delightful homages to those classic shorts. Zomba is also a wonderful villain. While she isn't too scary, she has a wonderful and unique design among Scooby villains. I also love her voice. She also proves to be a major threat to our heroes.

This is a very unique and delightful episode.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo!: Reflections in a Ghoulish Eye (1985)


A really fun Scooby adventure.

In this episode the gang travels to Morrocco after receiving a telegram supposedly from Vincent Van Ghoul telling them to go to a paranormal convention there. Unfortunately that telegram was not actually sent by Vincent but rather one of the 13 ghosts, a mirror demon called the Reflector Specter. He hopes to suck them into a mirror dimension where he can control everything. 

The Reflector Spector is a wonderful Scooby villain. His design and his voice are wonderfully creepy and his power to suck our heroes into another dimension makes him a major threat to our heroes. The first scene where he appears is fantastic, as we seem him sucking in a completely innocent victim, who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This scene already sets him up as quite creepy and a real threat to our heroes. 

The episode also benefits from the Moroccan setting. This gives the episode a unique atmosphere and feel that sets it apart from other episodes in the series. The background art is also as wonderful as ever and the detail and effort put into it really shows. The mirror dimension is also wonderfully designed.

Unfortantly the humor here is not as good as in the previous episodes. There are no real laugh out loud moments here, though there are a few jokes that do raise a smile. Too much of this humor revolves around the one time character Sandy. Sandy is a takeoff of Martin Short's Ed Grimley character, a character I always found more annoying than funny. This takeoff of him to me is just as annoying and unfunny and I feel this episode would have been quite a bit better if it didn't have him.

While Sandy brings this episode down a little, this is still a delightful Scooby adventure.  


Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Video Link: The Birds (1963) KILL COUNT - Dead Meat

Movie Trailer: Creed III

The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo!: Me And My Shadow Demon (1985)


A really fun Scooby adventure.

As this episode begins a shadow demon breaks Vincent Van Ghoul's crystal ball and steals the Chest of Demons. The gang follows the demon to Befuddle Manor, where they run into one of the 13 ghosts, Queen Morbidia and an army of real monsters she has gathered. 

This episode is a lot of fun. Once again the humor hits wonderfully. There is another delightful sing-along that is even funnier than the last one. There is also a wonderful bit of self parody, where Flim-Flam leads the others through a maze, resubliming the in and out of doors scenes in Scooby-Doo! Where Are You. The scene where Shaggy and Scooby sing Me and My Shadow is probably one of my favorite distracting the villain gags in this whole franchise. This episode also has the gang interact quite a bit with Vincent Van Ghoul and these interactions are wonderful, especially the ones involving Flim Flam. The Shadow Demon is also a wonderful character, with a wonderfully creepy and fun design. There is also a great twist involving this character that is very well thought out and executed.

Unfortunately Queen Morbidia is a rather weak villain, who never feels as creepy or memorable as she should be. 

This may not be my favorite episode of the series but it is still a lot of fun. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Movie Review: Doctor G


Michael's Movie Grade: B

A very effective comedy-drama from India. 

This film has a simple story that is a pretty obvious comedy setup. A medical student who wishes to get a career in Orthopedics instead finds himself in Gynecology. He is the only male student and is naturally uncomfortable working in a job that involves the private parts of the female body. While this does lead to many easy jokes, quite a few of them are very funny. The film started off a little slow on the laughs, but the humor soon picked up and I found myself laughing more than I thought I would. The humor is wonderfully timed and a lot of it comes perfectly out of the characters and the story with each bit of humor moving the story along and never stopping it. This also helps the film's later transition into more dramatic territory. The latter part of the movie is quite a bit more dramatic than the more comedic earlier part. However, this transition works perfectly not only because the comedic moments help move the story along but also because the movie gets more dramatic gradually over its runtime instead of just immediately changing from comedy to drama. Yet even in the latter parts, there is some humor to keep the film from becoming too serious. These more dramatic parts are also pretty touching and quite well written.

Unfortunately, the romantic subplot is not very interesting and can often bring the movie down. Not only does it come off as cliché and distracting from the main story, but it also pushes the likability of the main character. It is true that his character is not supposed to "understand women" but there is a difference between not understanding women and just being a jerk. He too often crosses this line and it can make a character who can be very likable and relatable during other scenes feel too unlikable. This movie also relies too heavily on montages that are supposed to signify some sort of change in character. There are too many of these and they can become repetitive and distracting.  

This film does a wonderful job of balancing the comedy and the drama and there are some truly funny moments.