Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Silent Films on TCM November 2023


Hello, my friends as I know many of you like me are fans of both TCM and silent movies. Because of this, here is a list of all the silent films on TCM, this November,

Wednesday, November 1st

Within Our Gates (1920)
Director: Oscar Micheaux. Starring Evelyn Preer, Flo Clements. 11pm Pacific. 2am Eastern.

Sunday November 5th

The Golden Age of Comedy (1957)
A Compilation film featuring clips from various silent comedies. 5pm Pacific. 8pm Eastern.

When Comedy Was King (1959) A Compilation film featuring clips from various silent comedies. 6:30pm Pacific. 9:30pm Eastern.

MGM's Big Parade of Comedy (1964) A Compilation film featuring clips from multiple silent comedies. 8pm Pacific. 11pm Eastern.

The Show (1927) Director: Tod Browning. Starring John Gilbert and 
Renée Adorée. 9:30pm Pacific. 12:30am Eastern. 

Sunday November 12th 

Souls for Sale (1923) Director: Rupert Hughes. Starring Eleanor Boardman and Mae Busch. 9:15pm Pacific. 12:15am Eastern. 

Wednesday November 15th

The Monster (1925) Director: Roland West. Starring Lon Chaney and Gertrude Olmsted. 6am Pacific. 9am Eastern. 

Sunday November 19th

The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927) Director: Ernst Lubitsch. Starring Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer. 9pm Pacific. 12am Eastern. 

Sunday November 26th 

Cleopatra (1912) Director: Charles L. Gaskill. Starring Helen Gardner and Harley Knoles. 9:15pm Pacific. 12:15am Eastern. 


Movie Review: Inspector Sun and the Curse of the Black Widow (Inspector Sun y la maldición de la viuda negra)


Michael's Movie Grade: C

An okay animated film from Spain. 

This movie is a comedy starring an inept detective. Because of this it can feel quite similar to many films based around similar characters. While it may not be as funny as The Pink Panther movies, it does have its moments. There are not many laugh out loud moments here, but there are definitely some gags that made me smile or giggle. The main character is a fun one and his ineptness as well as his misplaced self-confidence, lead to a lot of fun. His relationship with his sidekick was also quite good. While the mystery may be very similar to what we have seen before, it has enough to keep its audience entertained. The animation is honestly quite good, and I very much enjoyed the design work as well.

Unfortunately, many of the side characters here, come off as very bland and boring. The film also never really took advantage of its interesting setting. Also, even at less than an hour and half this movie can feel longer than it needs to be. 

This is not a great movie by any means, but it is entertaining enough.   

Happy Halloween Scooby-Doo! (2020)


A really fun direct to video Scooby movie. 

This movie begins with the gang stopping the Batman villain, The Scarecrow, from ruining Elvira Mistress of the Dark's Halloween parade. Scooby and Shaggy are happy because solving the mystery earlier than expected has allowed them to go trick or treating. However while out to trick or treat they find toxic waste and fear toxin dripping into a pumpkin patch. This brings many of the pumpkins to life creating scary pumpkin monsters. The gang must save the town of Crystal Cove (putting this film in the same continuity as the TV series, Scooby-Doo!: Mystery Incorporated) and team up with Elvira and Bill Nye the Science Guy to do so. As they try to save the day, they learn that their earlier mystery might not have been as clear cut as they thought it was. 

There is a lot to love about this movie. The pumpkin monsters are delightfully creepy. This is not only true of their wonderfully spooky designs, but also their truly creepy laughs. There are also some truly spooky scenes involving them as we see them attack many people. This is honestly pushing how far you can go in this direction with a Scooby movie, and I love it. Even the look for Crystal Cove in the dark and after the destruction the monsters wrecked creates a very creepy atmosphere that again goes beyond the average Scooby movie. Even the action scenes here appear to be on a grander scale and that really pays off as this movie has a great sense of suspense. This movie also does a very good job of digging a little deeper into these characters. This is especially effective as the film looks into Velma having to deal with her skepticism in the face of something she cannot explain. This part of her character arc is very well handled and unlike other looks into this part of her personality she remains the very likable character she should always be. This film also deals with her denial that she can ever truly feel fear. The movie also does a good job at looking into the relationships between Velma and Shaggy and Scooby. Thie leads to some truly heartwarming scenes. 

The humor is hit and miss here. There are times when it is absolutely hilarious and other times when it falls completely flat. The scenes between Daphne and Elvira made me laugh out loud, as did many of Scooby and Shaggy's lines here. Yet on the other hand the gags involving Bill Nye and the man, and his daughter fell flat for me. 

The Scarecrow and Elvira are very well incorporated into the film. However, Bill Nye feels completely tacked on. He doesn't really add much to the movie except for some unfunny moments. This film also (even at only 80 minutes) feels a little overlong and can drag at times. 

This film was directed and written by Maxwell Atoms, creator of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. He would also later direct and write the direct to video Scooby-Doo! The Sword and the Scoob (2001). 

This movie is a real delight for Scooby fans like me and you. 

Monday, October 30, 2023

What's New Scooby-Doo?: The Unnatural (2003)


The final episode of the first season of What's New Scooby-Doo is one of the weaker episodes. 

In this episode the gang goes to a baseball game and discovers it is being haunted by the ghost of former baseball player, Cab Creig. The gang has another mystery on their hands. 

The main problem with this episode is that the ghost himself is very forgettable. His design looks just like a bunch of ghosts we have seen in previous Scooby mysteries with nothing to make him stand out. As well as this neither his voice nor design feel creepy or threatening. The humor also falls flat through much of this episode. The baseball setting also does not feel very atmospheric and does not have the spooky feel that is in the best Scooby episodes.

However there is still enough for Scooby fans to enjoy here. The mystery is pretty well handled with some good misdirection throughout. Also the baseball player who the gang befriends, Luis Santiago is quite a likable character. 

This is definitely a weaker episode from this season but there is still enough for Scooby fans to enjoy.   

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Cowboy Church #248

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

Today's musical selection begins with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with May the Good Lord Take a Likin' To Ya

Afterwards is The Louvin Brothers with This Little Light of Mine. This song is often credited to Harold Dixon Loes, but there is some debate as to whether or not he wrote the song. This hymn is said to date back to the 1920's. However the first known recording of the song comes from 1934, where it was sung by a man named Jim Boyd, who at the time was imprisoned in the Huntsville, Texas State Penitentiary. In 1939 a recording was made of a woman named Doris McMurray, who was serving time in a prison in Huntsville. She stated that she learned the sing from her grandmother in Waco. Since she was an African American woman this supports the belief that this song was originally an African American spiritual. In the 1950's and 60's this song would take on a whole new meaning as it would be used for the Civil Rights movement. Civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer would state, "Singing is one of the main things that can keep us going. When you're in a brick cell, locked up, and haven't done anything to anybody but still you're locked up there and sometimes words just begin to come to you and you begin to sing. Like one of my favorite songs, 'This Little Light of Mine, I'm Going to Let it Shine.' This same song goes back to the fifth chapter of Matthew, which is the Beatitudes of the Bible, when he says a city that sets on a hill cannot be hid. Let your light shine so that men would see your good works and glorify the father which is in heaven. I think singing is very important. It brings out the soul." 

Then comes The Carter Family with their 1941 recording of Something Got a Hold of Me

Up next is Stonewall Jackson with Save a Little Place for Me. This recording comes from his 1969 gospel album, The Old Country Church

Then is Del McCoury with Get Down on Your Knees and Pray. One of the easiest things for a Christian to do and one of the most harmful is for us to not pray. To speak to God is one of the greatest privileges we have as Christians, and it is our best way not to fall into temptation. It also keeps our minds from drifting from the things of God and on to the things of this world, until we get to the point that we are no longer living for God. Being able to talk directly to the God of this universe is an incredible blessing and one we should never take for granted. How truly blessed are we. 

Following will be Randy Travis with Blessed Assurance.  This hymn came about when songwriter Fanny Crosby visited composer Phoebe Palmer Knapp. Knapp played a tune for Crosby and asked what came to her mind with that tune. Crosby said, "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!" She then immediately followed it with more lyrics that would be in the finished song. The song was published in 1873 and first appeared in a monthly magazine for which the editors were Joseph Fairchild Knapp and Phoebe Palmer Knapp (who were husband and wife). When it later appeared in 1887's Gospel Songs, No. 5 by Ira Sankey, this we lead it to greater fame as it would be commonly sung in the revivals of Dwight L. Moody and Sankey. By 1889, the hymn commonly appeared in Methodist hymnals. 

Now for Tim Spencer (from the Sons of the Pioneers) and his family with Circuit Riding Preacher

Afterwards is George Jones with How Beautiful Heaven Must Be. Though we like to think about Heaven and what things will be like when we get there, the truth is none of us can come even close to comprehending just how beautiful Heaven truly is. 

Today's musical selection ends with The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1937 recording of Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. This hymn began with a man named Anthony Showalter. As a fan of gospel music and an elder in a Presbyterian church, he held many "singing schools" at various churches in the south. One day he received two letters from former students who were struggling after their wives had passed. To respond to these letters, Showalter consulted scripture. He came across Deuteronomy 33:27, "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." After reading this verse lyrics for a song chorus went through his head and he wrote down, "“Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms; Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.” After using this in the letters to his former students he sent this chorus to his friend hymnist, Elisha Hoffman. In the letter he also wrote, “Here is the chorus for a good hymn from Deuteronomy 33:27, but I can’t come up with the verses.” Hoffman then wrote the rest of the lyrics to which Showalter put to music. The hymn was published in 1887.

Now for an episode of Roy Rogers' radio show. 

Now for a message from Billy Graham.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? Romans 10:13-14 

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matthew 6:27

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13 

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24

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

What's New Scooby-Doo?: Pompeii and Circumstance (2003)


A fun episode.

In this episode the gang takes a trip to Italy. However they soon discover that there is a zombie gladiator roaming around. Before you can say Jinkies, the gang has another mystery on their hands. 

There is a lot of fun to be had with this episode. The mystery is quite well done with multiple completely believable suspects. The villain is quite creepy and dangerous, actually putting our heroes in real danger instead of just scaring them. This makes the chase scenes here more suspenseful than the average Scooby chase scene. There is also a real sense of atmosphere here as Pompeii proves to be an excellent location for a Scooby mystery. This is especially true of the night scenes which have a delightfully creepy feel to them. The scene in the gladiator arena is especially effectively creepy. 

The only real problem with this episode is that the humor often falls flat.

All in all this is definitely a fun episode.  

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Some Cartoons for Saturday Morning #249

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

Today's cartoon selection begins with Betty Boop in A Hunting We Will Go (1932). This short film is among one of the last of the Talkartoons cartoons, before Betty Boop got her own series of short films. This cartoon is full of all the bizarre and surreal humor that makes me love the Fleischer films of this era. 

Next comes Woody Woodpecker in Spook-a-Nanny (1964). This is the only original cartoon made for TV's Woody Woodpecker Show. For the most part the cartoons on this show consisted of the theatrical short films from the Walter Lantz studio. However, this cartoon has become a Halloween tradition for many cartoon fans (including me). The title song is ridiculously catchy. 

The Skelton Dance (1929) was the first of Disney's Silly Symphonies and one of the best. The idea for the series came from musical director Carl Stalling (who would later work on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies). The Silly Symphonies were designed to revolve around music. Walt Disney loved the idea and felt that a second series would allow him to experiment more and not be tied down by the formula of a Mickey Mouse cartoon. The idea for the first film also is believed to have come from Stalling. Stalling would tell historian Michael Barrier about the genesis of the movie stating, "He thought I meant illustrated songs, but I didn’t have that in mind at all. The Skeleton Dance goes way back to my kid days. When I was eight or ten years old, I saw an ad in The American Boy magazine of a dancing skeleton, and I got my dad to give me a quarter so I could send for it. It turned out to be a pasteboard cut-out of a loose-jointed skeleton, slung over a six-foot cord under the arm pits. It would ‘dance’ when kids pulled and jerked at each end of the string. Ever since I was a kid, I had wanted to see real skeletons dancing and had always enjoyed seeing skeleton dancing acts in vaudeville.” Though Carl Stalling would use an excerpt from Edvard Grieg’s March of the Dwarfs, most of the music was an original by Stalling. The animation for the movie was completed in six weeks. The majority of the animation was done by Ub Iwerks, the Disney studio's main animator at the time. He animated some of the earliest Mickey films entirety by himself. On this film he was assisted by Wilfred Jackson and Les Clark. It is not known for sure what Les Clark animated as some sources state he animated the opening scene and others (including his own) state he animated one skeleton playing another's ribs as a xylophone. Wilfred Jackson most likely animated the scene where the rooster crowing (which was reused in The Cat's Nightmare (1931)). When Walt tried to sell this film, it did not go as smoothly as he excepted. Walt's daughter, Diane Disney Miller, would later speak about this, “Father wasn’t easily discouraged. He took The Skeleton Dance to a friend who ran the United Artists Theater in Los Angeles and asked him to look at it. ‘We’re looking at some other things this morning,’ the man said, ‘and I’ll have my assistant look at it. You go with him’. Father sat beside the assistant while the film was run. It was just before the first morning show; a few customers had drifted in and it was obvious they liked The Skeleton Dance but the assistant didn’t listen to them. ‘Can’t recommend it,’ he said. ‘Too gruesome’. Father got a hold of another friend and asked him if he could put him in touch with Fred Miller who managed the Carthy Circle, one of the biggest and most important theaters in town. Father’s friend sent him to a salesman on Film Row. ‘Maybe he can get him to look at your skeleton film’. Father found the salesman in a pool hall shooting a little Kelly (a game played on a standard pool table with sixteen pool balls where each player draws one of fifteen numbered markers called peas or pills at random from a shake bottle which assigns to them the correspondingly numbered pool ball, kept secret from their opponents, but which they must pocket in order to win the game). ‘Leave your picture here, Disney,’ the Kelly player said. ‘I’ll look at it. If I like it, I’ll get in touch with you’. It sounded like a stall but he actually did look at the film. When he looked he said, ‘I think Fred will like this. I’ll take it over to him myself’. As a result, Miller showed The Skeleton Dance with a feature picture he was running. It went over big. Father clipped the local press notices and mailed them to Powers with a note: ‘If you can get this to Roxy (the nickname of Broadway showman Samuel L. Rothafel who ran New York’s prestigious Roxy Theater), he’ll go for it the way Miller did. Powers got a print to Roxy and Roxy liked it. He ran it in his huge New York theater.” This movie premiered at the Carthy Circle on June 10, 1929 alongside F.W. Murnau's feature film, 4 Devils (1929). The Carthy Circle is where later Disney features like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Fantasia (1940) would make their Hollywood premiers. 

Next comes our old friend Gandy Goose in The Ghost Town (1944). 

Now it is time for a commercial break.

Next comes the Coyote and Roadrunner in Fur of Flying (2010). This short film played in movie theaters before the feature film, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010). This is the 2nd of 6 Looney Tunes shorts directed by Matthew O'Callaghan. 

Next it is silent movie time with a classic Felix the Cat cartoon, Switches Witches (1927).


Now for our old friend Scrappy in Sandman Tales (1933). 

Today's cartoon selection ends with The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror segment, The Raven (1990). This cartoon comes from the first of The Simpsons' many Halloween specials. This still though ranks as one of my favorite Treehouse of Horror segments. 

Thanks for joining me. Come back next week for some more animated treasures. Until then, may all your tunes be looney and your melodies merry. 

Resources Used

Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons by Leonard Maltin

Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series by Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman

What's New Scooby-Doo?: Lights Camera Mayhem (2003)


A delightful episode. 

In this episode the gang visits a movie studio. However, they soon find that an action film's production is being hampered by a ghost who is demanding that they stop filming immediately. The gang gets jobs as stunt doubles so that they can solve the mystery. 

There is a lot to enjoy about this episode. The ghost's design and voice are fantastic. There is a real creepy feel to this character that reminds one of the monsters in Scooby-Doo! Where Are You? The ghost also feels like a real threat to our heroes as he actually puts them in real danger rather than just scaring them. The humor in this episode also works very well. There are quite a few great jokes. The idea of cartoon characters being stunt doubles is a standard cartoon story, but this episode still manages to get some very good laughs out of it. The scene with Velma doing her stunt is especially funny. The mystery is also very well done. The reveal of who it is makes perfect sense, yet it is not who you might automatically guess. 

This is a sheer delight for Scooby fans. 

Friday, October 27, 2023

Video Link: The Wolf Man (1941) KILL COUNT

What's New Scooby-Doo?: Toy Scary Boo (2002)


A really fun episode. 

In this episode, toys seem to come to life an wreak havoc in a toy store in the middle of the night. 

What makes this episode stand out is the idea of having a group of toys instead of one monster or ghost. This gives the episode a very unique feel, which makes it really stand out. It also helps that the toys feel like a real threat. While their designs are not creepy, the toys prove to be quite dangerous. In one scene they nearly kill the gang, when they are in an elevator. This gives the episode a very effective sense of suspense. The mystery is also very well handled here, with some great misdirection used throughout. 

My only real complaint about this episode is that the humor often falls flat with little of it being that funny here. 

This is a delight for Scooby fans.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Movie Review: Freelance


Michael's Movie Grade: C

An okay action-comedy. 

This movie seems to have an irresistible premise for an action film. An army vet who is now working as a lawyer and hates his job, gets a chance to go on one more mission to protect a journalist who is traveling to a dangerous country to talk to its controversial dictator. However, they soon find themselves in the middle of an assassination attempt. While this film does not live up to the full protentional of its premise, it still definitely has its moments. What is surprisingly is that one of this movie's biggest strengths is that it fully sets up why we should care about its main character. The start of this movie really delves into what it is like to be in a job you hate and feel there is no way out. Because of this, from the very start you cannot help but strongly sympathize with this character. You continue to not only sympathize with him but fully understand just why he felt compelled to take this job. This also makes the film feel relatable even when it gets very over the top. The story itself moves by very fast and the film never really drags. While there are not as many action scenes as one might hope for, the action scenes that are here are quite good. The climatic action scene is excellent.

The main problem with this movie is that for an action-comedy, there are no real laughs. There were a couple of comedic moments that made me smile but I never once laugh out loud (nor did anyone in the theater with me). There are also many of these comedic moments that are painfully unfunny and obvious. This film also wants to make some sort of political point. However, it never truly delves into the politics and much of the commentary is too simplistic to really say anything. Also, while our main character is easy to care about, the supporting characters are often quite boring. 

This is not a great film by any means, but there is still has its moments. 

What's New Scooby-Doo?: She Sees Sea Monsters by the Sea Shore (2002)


A really fun episode. 

In this episode the gang takes an island vacation. However, when Daphne goes surfing, she runs into a sea monster and the gang must get to the bottom of this mystery. 

There is a lot to enjoy about this episode. The sea monster has a wonderful design. This monster looks threatening to our heroes and the way her eyes are designed (as well as the lines around his neck) give her a very unique and effective look. The underwater scenes also have a very effective atmospheric feel to them. The humor, while not laugh out loud, did put a smile on my face. The chase scenes are quite fun and well done. The mystery is also quite well done with quite a few believable suspects. The reveal of who done it is actually a pretty good surprise. 

This episode is a joy to watch for Scooby fans.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The World's Greatest Super Friends: Rub Three Times for Disaster (1979)


A delightful start to a delightful show. 

In this episode, the Wonder Twins discover a magic lamp with a powerful genie inside it. An evil villain from the planet Zaghdad comes to retrieve it and kidnaps the Wonder Twins. The Super Friends must save the Wonder Twins (and the planet Zaghdad) from this villain, but it will be no easy task because this villain is now the master of this powerful genie. 

Though The World's Greatest Super Friends may not be among many cartoon fans' favorite Super Friends series, it is one of mine. The reason for this is because it is so delightfully different from any other version of Super Friends. Its difference lies in that this series often puts them in fairy tale and other fantasy inspired stories. Sure, this often makes these episodes very corny, but that is another reason why I enjoy this series so much. This is the type of corny superhero fun that I simply love. 

All this can already be seen in this first episode. The corniness here is perfectly silly fun. There is also a lot besides the corniness to enjoy about this episode. The villain feels like a real threat, and this creates a true feeling of suspense. This episode is also chock full of pure imagination and creativity. This is especially true of the fantastically creative world inside of the genie's lamp. Adding to this is the wonderfully atmospheric and detailed. This makes the whole episode simply a joy to look at. The action scenes in this episode are also wonderful and a lot of fun to watch.

The only problem I have with this episode is that Gleek the Space Mokey remains just as unfunny here as always. 

A real treat of an episode.

What's New Scooby-Doo?: Safari So Goodi! (2002)


An okay episode. 

In this episode, the gang goes on a Safari. However the run into spooky yellow glowing demon animals. Before you know it, they have another mystery on their hands. 

This is not one of the strongest Scooby episodes. One of the main faults is that the humor consistently falls flat. This is especially true of the scenes involving Fred with his camera. This ongoing joke is often more annoying than funny. Even the usually reliable comedic antics of Scooby and Shaggy aren't as amusing as usual here. The demon animals are also not especially creepy or memorable. They simply look like regular animals only there is a yellow glow around them. 

However there is enough to enjoy about this episode for Scooby fans. The mystery is quite well done with multiple believable suspects. The Safari also provided this mystery with a good sense of atmosphere. 

This is not one of the best Scooby episodes, but it works well enough. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

What's New Scooby-Doo?: Roller Ghoster Ride (2002)


A really fun episode.

In this episode, the gang visits a theme park after Scooby and Shaggy win a contest. The also get to meet two sisters who run the park. However when various roller coasters get shut down due to a monster, the gang has another mystery on their hands. 

There is a whole lot to enjoy about this episode. The humor here is probably the best of any episode of this show yet. Nearly every gag lands perfectly. I especially love Scooby and Shaggy's idea for an all-you-can eat buffet crossed with a roller coaster (the idea that won them the contest) and how quickly Daphne goes from hating roller coasters to being addicted to them. The supporting characters, especially the sisters, are simply a lot of fun. Also, the mystery here is very well done, with some good misdirection. 

My only complaint is that the monster's design is rather bland and forgettable. 

This episode was written by the great Dwayne McDuffie. Superhero fans will immediately recognize this name. He has worked heavily in superhero comics, both for DC and Marvel. He was also one of the co-creators of the superhero Static (also known as Static Shock) and the comedic Marvel comic series Damage Control. As well as this he also wrote for such animated TV shows as Teen Titians, Justice League Unlimited and various of the shows in the Ben 10 franchise. He also wrote the direct to video animated movies,  Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010) and Justice League: Doom (2012). This episode marks his only Scooby-Doo! writing credit. 

Monday, October 23, 2023

What's New Scooby-Doo!: Riva Ras Regas (2002)


A fun but far from one of the best episode.

In this episode, the gang travels to Las Vegas to meet pop star, Lindsay Pagano. However, they soon find she is being haunted by the ghost of magician Rufus Raucous. 

There is quite a bit to recommend about this episode. The mystery is very well done, with lots of good twists and turns, that keep you trying to figure it out. The fact that there are quite a few suspects, who all make sense and some great misdirection used here that works very well here. When the villain is revealed, the result is surprising but makes perfect sense. The scenes involving magic also work quite well here with some great visuals. 

The humor here is hit and miss. Some of it is quite funny while some of it falls flat. The introduction of Fred's Elvis impression is not that funny but the scene in the steam bath that comes from it is very funny. Much of the slapstick with Shaggy and Scooby is quite fun as always. However everything that comes from the comedic magician Fancy Pants falls completely flat. While the joke is supposed to be that his jokes are bad, his jokes aren't bad in a funny way but rather an annoying way. 

The ghost here is also completely forgettable without anything truly memorable about his design or voice. The ghost never comes off as creepy even for a moment. 

This is far from one of the best episodes, but for Scooby fans it is still an enjoyable watch. 

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Cowboy Church #247

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

Today's musical selection begins with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with a wonderful version of the classic hymn, How Great Thou Art. In their book, Happy Trails: Our Life Story, Roy tells of a story that had to do with this song. "I'll tell you about one time we nearly got into a real war with the promoters: at the World Championship Rodeo at Madison Square Garden in 1952. During the first rehearsal I started to practice 'How Great Thou Art,' a religious song I wanted to make the centerpiece of our musical act. There's a line in that song that goes, 'Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee...' Someone in the front office heard the rehearsal and came to me that night to tell me I wasn't allowed to mention Christ at the rodeo. 'It might work for the kids in Houston, Texas' he told me, 'But this is New York. You can't preach to kids here.' I told him I wasn't preaching but that the Savior was a part of the song and I fully intended to sing that song in New York or anywhere else we performed. They suggested that I could change the words of the song, so it didn't mention Him. I'm not one for grandstand plays but I told those fellas that if I couldn't sing 'How Great thou Art' just how it was written, Dale and I would pack up and leave town. The song stayed in the show. That year we did forty-three performances over twenty-six days and broke all Madison Square Garden attendance records."

This is followed by Tammy Wynette with I Believe. This recording comes from her 1969 gospel album, Inspiration

Then comes Hank Locklin with Nothing But the Blood of Jesus. In 1876 Robert Lowry visited Ocean Grove (in New Jersey) to minister the summer crowd there. As well as giving a sermon, he also introduced this hymn to the crowd. The song had a major effect on audience and a revival broke out because of it.  

 This is followed by Willie Nelson with It's Not for Me to Understand. Willie talked about this song in his book, It's a Long Story: My Life, "The questions raised by the Bible - questions that had been entertained by deep thinkers like Khalil Gibran and Edgar Cayce - had no easy answers. I imagined a blind boy in a school yard, listening to the other children play. Again, the questioning began ... 'It's Not for Me to Understand' became one of the key songs and led to even more pleadings on my part. The sign came in the form of the lyrics. I don't feel that I wrote them. More accurately, I have to say that I felt like I channeled them." This song comes from one of Willie's best albums 1971's Yesterday's Wine. Willie himself would say, "I thought Yesterday's Wine was my most honest album to date."

Afterwards is Uncle Dave Macon with his 1927 recording of Shall We Gather at the River.

Next is Elvis Presley with Amazing Grace. This hymn was written by John Newton in 1772. It is no coincidence that John Newton wrote this hymn, as he was someone who badly needed God's grace. Looking at his life before he gave it to God, there is not much to find that is admirable and in fact some of what we see is downright horrific. He played a part in one of the darkest (if not the darkest) parts of American history. He was a slave trader. To say that slavery in the United States (and in any country at any time) was a tragedy and a horrible part of our history is an incredible understatement, and this man was a part of that horrific system. Later he even admitted that he treated the human beings that he was bringing over harshly. If there is anyone, we in our humanness would think is beyond God to reach it would be this guy. Yet God did reach him and being God completely changed him. He not only abandoned his job, but he gave his life to God's ministry and helped fight slavery every step of the way. If God could do this with him who is to say that any of us or anyone, we know could possibly be out of God's power to reach.

Then comes George Jones with Mama Was a Preacher Man. This song comes from George's 1974 gospel album, In a Gospel Way. The song was co-written by George with Earl Montgomery. Though we may not all be pastors of a church, we are all called to spread the word of God and let people know about what Jesus Christ did for them and how they can all achieve salvation. Salvation is not for the select few, nor is Heaven for "good people." Instead, salvation and Heaven are for whoever will believe in Jesus, turn from their sins and follow him.

Today's musical selection ends with The Sons of the Pioneers with There's a Goldmine in the Sky. Though there may be many beautiful things in this world, none of them can compare to the glories that await us in Heaven. The treasures that await us there, shine much brighter than gold. 

Now for a message from S.M. Lockridge. 

Now for an episode of Gene Autry's TV show. 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:25

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3

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

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. 1 Chronicles 16:11

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Philippians 2:12

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. Hebrews 10:36

God will forgive our mistakes and help us bounce back. 1 John 1:9

God’s people will get over defeats and rise above it. Proverbs 24:16

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. James 2:18

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

What's New Scooby-Doo!: It's Mean, It's Green, It's the Mystery Machine (2002)


A very fun episode. 

In this episode the Mystery Machine seems to be running on its own and Scooby and Shaggy start to believe that it is haunted. 

This episode stands out because it has a very unique idea behind it. To have the ghost be the Mystery Machine rather than your typical ghost or monster of the week, is a wonderful idea that makes this episode feel like something very different. The idea of the Mystery Machine having a mind of its own also makes this episode feel more suspenseful as this is just as major of a threat as the best ghosts and monsters. Some of the sense have a real creepy feel to them and the use of green lighting gives this episode a really atmospheric look. It also great to get a look at the history of the Mystery Machine and why it looks the way it does and how the gang got it. The backstory is simple but quite good. The mystery of who is behind this is very well-done. There are quite a few suspects and all of them make perfect sense. 

The only real problem I have with this episode is that the humor is not that funny, but with how delightful everything else is, this is hardly a problem. 

An excellent and very unique Scooby mystery. 

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Some Cartoons for Saturday Morning #248

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

Today's cartoon selection begins with Betty Boop in Bimbo in Admission Free (1932). This short film is part of the Talkartoons series, as it was before Betty got her own cartoon series. The first Betty Boop film to be released as a "Betty Boop Cartoon" was Stopping the Show (1932), released later the same year. Admission Free was the next to last film of the Talkartoons series. The last film in the series was The Betty Boop Limited (1932). 

Up next Heckle and Jeckle are messed up movie makers in Messed Up Movie Makers (1966). This cartoon was the last theatrically released Heckle and Jeckle short film. 

Next comes Toby the Pup in Circus Time (1931). Though this film is definitely crude compared to what Disney, The Fleischers and even Warner Brothers were making at this time, there is a certain charm to this film that I simply love. 

Now for a true Disney classic, Alpine Climbers (1936). Though this film teams Mickey, Donald and Pluto, it follows the same format as the Mickey, Donald and Goofy cartoons that Disney made around this time. Like those films, here each of the characters goes his separate way and has a separate adventure. Mickey tries to collect an eagle's egg. Donald tries to pick flowers. Pluto has a run in with a St. Bernard dog (designed by Joe Grant). This other dog actually has a name, and that name is Bolivar. The character however is unnamed in the film, nor would he ever be used again in an animated cartoon. Instead, the character would be named in the Disney comics. He started appearing in 1938 in Al Taliaferro's Donald Duck newspaper comic strip. Bolivar would soon become the family dog of the duck family and would even be a reoccurring character in Carl Barks' beloved Donald Duck comic books. Despite this being an odd name for a cartoon animal the name had almost been used before. A cartoonist named Pinto Colvig (best known to cartoon fans today as the original voice of Disney's Goofy) was interested in entering the making of animated cartoons when sound came to the movies. He felt due to the fact that he was a cartoonist, who was also capable of doing various voices and playing multiple musical instruments, he felt sound cartoons were a wonderful opportunity for him. He created a character named Bolivar the Talking Ostrich. Teaming with Walter Lantz (later of Woody Woodpecker fame), he made a film with this character called Blue Notes (1928). In this film, the animated ostrich interacted with a live action Pinto Colvig. Unfortunately, this film is considered lost and despite Colvig's best efforts, a series never materialized. Colvig would however talk much about this ostrich in later years, however Lantz would barely ever mention the character. It may be possible that Al Taliaferro named the dog character after Colvig's ostrich character, but there is no real proof either way. Alpine Climbers would be reissued to movie theaters in 1948. The short film would make its TV debut on an episode of TV's Disneyland entitled, The Adventures of Mickey Mouse (1955). The following is a review of Alpine Climbers from a 1936 issue of World Film News. "I laughed immoderately at the latest Mickey Mouse, Alpine Climbers. The spectacle of the frozen Pluto getting tiddly with his savior, a St. Bernard with a handy keg around his neck is wonderful. - Ian Coster" 


Now it is time for a commercial break. 

Now it is time for a classic silent film starring Felix the Cat, Comicalamities (1928). This film perfectly shows why the Felix cartoons are considered by many film buffs to be the best cartoons of the silent era. This is a creative and clever cartoon that has a truly hilarious ending.  

Sponsor, 1950

Next comes the Coyote and Roadrunner in Coyote Falls (2010). This short film played in theaters with the feature film, Cats and Dogs 2: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (2010). In theaters, this film played in 3-D, making it the first Warner Brothers cartoon in 3-D since Lumber Jack Rabbit (1953). This is the first of 6 theatrically released Looney Tunes cartoons directed by Matthew O'Callaghan.

Next is Woody Woodpecker in To Catch a Woodpecker (1957).

Today's cartoon selection ends with The Simpsons in Punching Bag (1988). This short was created for the Tracey Ullman Show, before the famous cartoon family got their own TV show. 

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

Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons by Leonard Maltin

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: The Ultimate History by David Gerstein and J.B. Kaufman



What's New Scooby-Doo!: Big Scare in the Big Easy (2002)


An excellent episode. 

In this episode the Mystery Inc. Gang spend their spring break in New Orleans. When they discover that visitors are being scared by two civil war ghosts (one union, one confederate) known as the Leland Brothers, they have a new mystery on their hands. 

This is one of the best episodes of the first season of What's New Scooby-Doo. Much of this is due to a real good sense of atmosphere. New Orleans is a perfect setting for a Scooby-Doo mystery. The look of the city at night has a real creepy but very appealing look to it. Not only this but the scenes in the graveyard are also effective creepy. This sense of atmosphere is reminiscent of the original Scooby-Doo! Where are You series in the best way. Speaking about creepy, the opening scene (before we even see our heroes) is wonderfully done. The images in these scenes remind one of horror filmmaking at its best. This episode also benefits from a really well-done mystery that does not play out the way you would think at first. This is the type of mystery that keeps you guessing. The humor here is also very good, and the chase scene is one of the series' best. 

My only real complaint with this episode, is that the ghosts look too similar to many other Scooby-Doo villains, making them not especially memorable. 

All in all this is an excellent episode and a pure delight to Scooby fans. 

Friday, October 20, 2023

Movie Review: The Other Zoey


Michael's Movie Grade: F

A painful romcom. 

When this film begins the main character states that she does not believe that romantic love truly exists and not long after that she hates romantic comedies because they are completely unrealistic. If after this you can't guess how the film is going to end, you have never seen a movie before. Naturally because she hates romantic comedies, you know that this movie is going to follow every romantic comedy cliché in the book. Not only this but the film feels like it is trying to be clever by following the clichés while the main character denounces them. However, this is not clever in the slightest, it is simply just overly predictable. Honestly this makes these clichés seem even more painful by calling attention to them. Yet these painful moments might be the highlight of this film's humor. Every single joke here falls flat and I didn't even once smile while watching this. In fact, many of the comedic moments are so obvious and forced that they are just as painful as the typical romcom tropes. This is especially seen in the much of the awkward dialogue from the main character, which simply is trying too hard to be funny, it comes off as obnoxious. Speaking of our main character, I don't know how we are supposed to like this person. Not only is what she is doing completely wrong, but this film shows us time and time again that she is completely self-centered. Because of this we don't want to see her get together with the guy at the end of the movie. He may not be the most interesting character, but he deserves better than our main character. Plus, it is hard to feel any real romantic chemistry between characters, when one of them is completely selfishly using the other in such a mean way. If this was played only for broad comedy, such a relationship could work, but when we are actually supposed to care about the characters, it just feels unpleasant.

So, at the end of the day, what we have is a romantic comedy that is neither funny nor romantic. This simply means that it fails on every level.  

What's New Scooby-Doo!: 3-D Struction (2002)


A really fun episode. 

In this episode, Daphne's uncle invites the gang to Costa Rica to see a new museum exhibit on dinosaurs. However when the gang sees a 3-D movie about dinosaurs in the museum's theater, a giant dinosaur hops out of the screen and attacks the museum. Before you can say "jinkies" the gang has another mystery on their hands.  

There is a lot to enjoy here. Strangely enough before this episode the gang did not meet too many dinosaurs. The only real exception being The New Scooby and Scrappy Doo Show episode, The Dinosaur Deception (1983). The use of the dinosaur here is really effective. While his design is not especially creepy, it is very well done and threatening. The chase scenes with the dinosaur are also simply a lot of fun. The museum is a very effective and atmospheric setting for a Scooby mystery, especially during the night scenes. The mystery is very well done and every suspect is completely believable. Due to the focus being on the mystery aspect we feel like we get to solve the mystery along with the gang, which makes it feel all the more fun. 

My one real problem with this episode is that the humor often times feels like it should have been funnier. There are a few good gags but most of the jokes fall kind of flat. 

This episode was directed by Tim Maltby. Maltby had previously been a storyboard artist for the Scooby-Doo! direct to video films Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost (1999), Scooby-Doo! and the Alien Invaders (2000) and Scooby-Doo! and the Cyber Chase (2001). This episode was written by Ed Scharlach. This was his first time writing for Scooby-Doo. However he go on to write more episodes of this series as well as the direct to video movies, Scooby-Doo! and The Loch Ness Monster (2004), Aloha Scooby-Doo! (2005) and Scooby-Doo! in Where's My Mummy (2005). 

All in all this is a fun episode, even if it doesn't rank among one of my favorite Scooby-Doo mysteries. 

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Movie Review: Killers of the Flower Moon


Michael's Movie Grade: A+

Martin Scorsese at the absolute top of his game. 

Despite the length of this movie (nearly 3 and a half hours) and its large name cast, this is not your typical large-scale epic. Instead, this is first and foremost an intimate and deeply emotional drama. Though this film may often center around its male characters, the real heart of the film lies in Molly (wonderfully played by Lily Gladstone), the Osage woman whose family is being killed off one by one. She is one of the few fully likable characters in this film and she gives us a strong emotional connection to all the horrific acts that are committed in this film. Because we can about her, even when she is not on screen, we are emotional drawn in because we don't want to her to go through any more of these horrors. As for most of the rest of the characters, they are truly despicable human beings. Yet anyone who has ever watched a Scorsese film knows that he excels at making us feel very invested in characters that are far from likable. These characters draw us in with a certain undeniable charisma, that not only makes it hard to look away but makes what they do far more terrifying. With Scorsese's incredible talent he even makes us for short periods forget how terrible these people are and have us briefly sympathize with them. However not long afterwards we are back to recoiling in horror. This mastery of playing with our emotions and how we connect to the characters is just part of why Scorsese is a master filmmaker. Of course, it does not hurt that Leonardo Decaprio and Robert DeNiro give performances that just as great as any of their classic movie roles. 

Despite this movie's very long length, it never feels overlong. Every moment feels like it has a reason to be there and adds something to either the story or the film's emotional resonance. Also, while the movie may be long, it is never once boring, nor did it ever once lose my attention. By the end of the film, I was just as entranced by what I was watching as I was at the start of the movie. 

Of course, an important (and often overlooked) part of any Scorsese film is the music. The music here is simply wonderful. The original score is by Robbie Robertson, formally of The Band (the stars of the Scorsese directed concert film, The Last Waltz (1978)). His music here is simply incredible, often times perfectly combining traditional film music with traditional native American music to create something that is very powerful and emotional. Many scenes here, would not have anywhere near the emotional power they have without this score. The movie also makes great use of old country gospel songs, which both add to the movie's sense of atmosphere as well as providing an effective contrast to the horrible violent acts. This often helps emphasize the pure hypocrisy of many of the characters, who present themselves as good Christians but are anything but. 

For any true cinema lover, this is essential viewing. 


What's New Scooby-Doo!: Space Ape at the Cape (2002)


A really fun episode. 

While visiting the Extraterrestrial Information Search (E.T.I.S.), where Velma won an award in the Future Scientist Contest, Velma gets to meet her hero scientist Janet Lawrence. Janet mentions that complications are getting in the way of her completing her newest experiment. The gang soon have another mystery on their hands when a space alien shows up. 

There is a lot to enjoy about this episode. Once again the mystery here is very well done. There are once again multiple subjects that make perfect sense. And once again solving this mystery is at the forefront of everything. Because of this we get to have fun trying to solve the mystery along with the gang. This episode also benefits from having strong supporting characters, each with their own unique personalities. While the humor in this episode may not be laugh out loud funny, it does work and can certainly put a smile on my face. The episode also finds good ways to use each of the members of the gang.

The major fault of this episode is that the monster is not all the memorable. The design is rather bland, making the monster neither as creepy nor as fun as it should have been. The monster's design also never makes it feel all that threatening. 

This episode was directed by Swinton Scott, who also directed the first episode of What's New Scooby-Doo! This episode was written by George Doty IV, who not only wrote episodes of this show, but also the animated direct to video movies, Scooby-Doo! and The Loch Ness Monster (2004) and Scooby-Doo! in Where's My Mummy?). This episode marked his first time writing a Scooby mystery. 

All in all this is a fun episode, even if it isn't one of the most memorable. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Movie Review: Leo: Bloody Sweet


Michael's Movie Grade: B

A really fun action flick from India. 

This movie has a very simple and familiar premise. A man lives a peaceful life and seems just like a regular guy. However, when bad people mess with his family, he turns very violent and kills them all like a pro. This makes people begin to question just what his past is. We have seen this type of story many times, however it is very well told here. I love that this film not only has its (extremely) violent action scenes, but it also takes a further effect into the effect this violence has on the characters. This works especially well when it comes to his youngest daughter. Most of this type of film, would simply overlook how such violence might affect the little kid in the picture. However, this movie takes a very well-done look into the effect such violence would have. While this is not the focus of the film, it does add an extra layer that makes this movie feel more human. You also see how much of an effect this violence has on the main character. While he is never afraid for himself, the way that this might affect his family pays an emotional toll on him. This again adds a very effective human element. Of course, though this is first and foremost an action film and the action is excellent. This is the type of over the top and very bloody action that is simply a lot of fun to watch. Plus, many of these action sequences are well thought out set pieces that are wonderfully choregraphed and staged. This movie also works very well as a suspense film. Many of the suspense sequences are very tense and simply wonderful. The story also keeps you guessing at times whether it will go down the obvious path or not. 

On the downside the villains are all very bland here, with nothing that makes them feel especially memorable. These are just typical movie villains we have seen many times before. This film also has no need to be as long as it is. Because of this it can feel overstuffed and can really drag in some parts. 

While this may not be perfect, it is a really funny and quite well-made action movie. 

What's New Scooby-Doo!: There's No Creature Like Snow Creature (2002)


A fun start to a fun show. 

In the first episode of What's New Scooby Doo, the gang heads to the mountains to watch a snowboarding competition (of which Fred is a big fan). However the snowboarding competition may be off as a giant snow monster has appeared. 

What's New Scooby-Doo! was a return to the basics for the franchise. After the past few shows and movies had real monsters, members of the main gang missing, non-spooky adventures and the gang as kids, this show had the gang return to the original formula of all the gang solving mysteries involving monsters that are really bad guys in disguise. This first episode does a wonderful job of setting that up. There is a lot to enjoy here. The mystery is pretty well set up and unlike some earlier Scooby mysteries, there are multiple suspects, all of whom seem very likely to be the monster. Not only this but the main focus of the episode is on trying to solve the mystery, where much of the dialogue involves the gang trying to find out who done it. This gives us the feeling that we are solving the mystery along with the gang. The humor in this episode is also pretty good, with Fred's excitement over the snowboarding competition providing some good laughs. The chases and action scenes are also simply a lot of fun. 

The real problem with this episode is that the monster is rather generic and not especially memorable. The gang has faced snow monsters before, and there is little to make this monster stand out from the previous snow monsters. Because of this, the monster here is not one you will remember when you think of Scooby monsters. 

This is a really fun episode and a good return to the basics for the franchise. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Movie Review: still playing possum: Music and Memories of George Jones


Michael's Movie Grade: A-

A simple wonderful concert film that will delight all country music fans. 

As anyone who reads this blog knows, as well as movies, I am also passionate about country music. To me and many other country fans, George Jones is not just a country singer, but he is the embodiment of country music. The very idea of someone calling themselves a country music fan and not loving George Jones seems completely impossible to me. Naturally because of this it is only appropriate for country singers (both those who are fairly new and those who have been around a while) to put on a concert to pay tribute to the possum. I am even more grateful that this concert was not only filmed but was put on movie screens so that those of us who couldn't be there in person could enjoy it to. The line up of singers in this movie is incredibly impressive. Performing here is Tanya Tucker, Trace Adkins, Tracy Bird, Tracy Lawerance, Brad Paisley, Janie Fricke, Jelly Rolly, Travis Tritt, Wyonna, Sam Moore, Mark Chesnut, Gretchen Wilson, Uncle Kracker, Justin Moore, Jamey Johnson, Joe Nichols and Dierks Bentley. Not only is this a wonderful line up but all of them are at their absolute best. As they perform George's most famous songs, there is not a single performance that misses here, each one is wonderful. I guess there is something about paying tribute to one of the greatest country singers of all time that brought out the best in each and every one of these artists. 

If I have on complaint, it is that the way this movie was filmed is not very cinematic but feels more like a concert that also airs on TV.  However I would still rather watch this concert and a movie theater rather than on TV and the lack of cinematic visuals can hardly take away how great the music is. 

This is a pure treat for country fans. 

Classic Short Film: The Voice of Hollywood (1929) with Lloyd Hamilton

Chill Out Scooby-Doo! (2007)


A delightful direct to video Scooby-Doo! movie. 

In this movie the gang decides to take a vacation to France. However, while Velma, Daphne and Fred are in Paris, Scooby and Shaggy find themselves in trouble. Their flight over there goes south and the two find themselves lost in the Himalayas, where the Abominable Snowman is said to have been sighted. Velma, Daphne and Fred head over to save their friends. 

What makes this movie work so well is the very splitting up of the gang. While the gang always splits up on purpose, having Scooby and Shaggy lost in a place with a monster without their friends gives this film not only a more unique feel but also a greater sense of suspense. Also having the rest of the gang more concerned about saving their friends than solving the mystery also gives this film a unique feel. Adding to this is that the Himalayas is a perfect setting for a Scooby mystery. There is a very atmospheric and threatening feel to how the mountains are designed. This is especially true during the nighttime scenes as the look of the dark clouds upon the mountains is simply wonderful to look at. The design of the monster is also fantastic. Though the gang has faced snow monsters before this, this one isn't a copy of any of them. In fact, this monster looks creepier and more threatening than the previous snow monsters. 

This movie also has a good sense of humor. While there are a few jokes that fall flat, the majority of them work very well. There are quite a few moments which made me chuckle. Some of the humor is even quite clever. One of these includes Shaggy filling in for a radio DJ. Of course, Casey Kasem, Shaggy's voice artist, was a real-life radio DJ. 

This film also benefits from some surprisingly good supporting characters. While these characters may not be deep or complex, they are likable and do their jobs in the film quite well.  

A fault with this film is one that dates back to the earliest Scooby mysteries. This is that there is a lack of suspects, therefore making solving the mystery not as fun. If you are able to solve this mystery, it is not because you have given it much thought but because there are not that many people to suspect. However, since the mystery takes a back seat to the adventure in this movie, this is not as big of a fault as it could have been. The songs in this movie are also not that great.  

This film's director and co-writer, Joe Sictha had directed the gang facing a snow monster before with the What's New Scooby-Doo! episode, There's No Creature Like Snow Creature (2002). His co-writer Adam Scheinman was a writer on such live action movies as Little Big League (1994) and Mickey Blue Eyes (1998) as well as the direct to video animated movie, Kangaroo Jack: G'Day U.S.A.! (2004). THis film was dedicated to Iwao Takamoto, who had passed away shortly before this movie's release. Takamoto had been a character designer for Hanna-Barbera and had designed Scooby himself.   

This movie is a pure delight for Scooby fans. 


Monday, October 16, 2023

Happy 100th the Alice Comedies


You may have heard today referred to as the 100th anniversary of Disney. The reason for this is that this is the day, Walt Disney's first widely released film made it to movie theaters. This film was the short Alice's Wonderland (1923). As well as the importance of this being Walt's first major film, it was also the start of a series of short films that would last for 57 films. This series was called the Alice Comedies. The series would star a live action little girl named Alice (over the course of the series she had been played by Virginia Davis, Margie Gay, Dawn O'Day and Lois Hardwick), who would enter an animated cartoon world. Walt himself admitted that this was a simple reversal of Max Fleischer's Out of the Inkwell shorts, which featured an animated Koko the Clown entering a live action world. I personally have a strong fondness for this series. So instead of looking at all the amazing feature length movies the Disney studio has released (which I am sure most movie blogs are doing), I am going to share some of my favorite Alice Comedies with you and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. 

Alice's Wild West Show (1924). This film is much more of a live action comedy short than a cartoon. Fans of the silent era Our Gang (or Little Rascals) shorts will find that this film very much resembles those classic comedies. Since I have a fondness for those comedies, it should come as no surprise that I love this short. Those who may be expecting a cartoon may be disappointed by the focus on live action here but, for me, this is a very delightful and fun little comedy that always puts a smile on my face. 

Alice's Day at Sea (1924) Another short that is part live action comedy and part cartoon. This is another fast paced and fun film that is full of clever and inventive gags. 

Alice Gets in Dutch (1924) I love this short because it makes me think of myself as a kid. I had a very active imagination in the same way that Alice does and if I got in trouble there is no doubt that I imagined something similar to what Alice does. To me this film perfectly captures that aspect of childhood, and this makes it a pure delight. 

Alice Solves the Puzzle (1925) This film is much more of a pure cartoon than the previous shorts listed. However it is a delightful cartoon with a lot of really fun gags and a clever ending. This film also introduces a Disney character that is still being used today, Mickey's nemesis Pete, still a few years before there would even be a Mickey. 

Alice Gets Stung (1925) This is another film that is pretty much a pure cartoon. Being a hunting cartoon, this film is full of lots of fun clever and well put together gags (I especially love Julis the cat removing his face). This is pure silly cartoon fun. 

Alice's Orphan (1926) With how much Disney cartoons are talked about being too sentimental for some cartoon fans, I love a cartoon like this. This is the type of story, where you would expect a lot of sentimentality but you find none at all. I admit that this is not one of the series' funniest entries but that doesn't stop me from having a real fondness for it. 

Alice's Spooky Adventure (1924) This is another early entry that is just as much a live action comedy as it is a cartoon. Once again it is very remenisicant of Hal Roach's Our Gang shorts in the best of ways. This one is especially memorable due to a surprising and funny ending. 

I hope you enjoyed these films as much as I do. If you have any favorite Alice Comedies that I did not list here, please let me know what they are.

Also credit where credit is due, I got the idea to do a post on the Alice Comedies today after reading this post by blogger Pete Hale.