A Flintstones Christmas Carol

So Scrooge becomes good? Way to give away the ending on the cover!

So Scrooge becomes good? Way to give away the ending on the cover!

So some of us want our kids to watch less cartoons and read more classical literature. How do we do that? Why not try doing adaptations of classical literature with cartoon characters in the roles? Why not do an adaptation of Treasure Island with Ronald McDonald? If that doesn’t get kids to read Robert Louis Stevenson, nothing will! And of course, since A Christmas Carol has been adapted so many times, there are countless versions of it for kids with famous cartoon characters filling the roles of Scrooge, Marley, etc. The three most famous Christmas Carols in this vein are the Muppet version, the Mr. Magoo version and the Mickey Mouse version; all three of them used silly cartoon characters, but were all quite faithful to the source material.

Similar to these three, but often overlooked, is A Flintstones Christmas Carol. Yes, that’s right, the Flintstones. The guys who celebrated Christmas before the birth of Christ…actually, that little plot hole is brought up in this special, but we’ll get to that later.

Like the Mr. Magoo version, A Flintstones Christmas Carol has the main character of the cartoon starring as Scrooge in a play version of A Christmas Carol and a good lot of the special is made up of the play the character is starring in. Unlike the Mr. Magoo version, the non-play antics of the character is given more screentime than it should. Fred Flintstone has gotten the role of “Ebonezer Scrooge” (yay for Stone Age puns) in a community theatre production of A Christmas Carol, and has become so obsessed with the role he’s forgotten everything else and Wilma is pissed at him for it. He leaves his present shopping until the last minute, forgets to pick up Pebbles from “Cave-care” (uuuugh)…it’s the same old crap we’ve come to expect from the modern Stone Age family; lame wife-is-mad oh-that-wacky-husband sitcom shit that wouldn’t fly in a post-Season 11 Simpsons episode. If I want a family sitcom Christmas special, The Royle Family does it much better. Hey, did you know The Flintstones was a rip-off of The Honeymooners, and the only reason Jackie Gleason didn’t sue was because he didn’t want to be known as “the man who killed Fred Flintstone”? Oh, you did? Carry on.

Then we get to the play portion of the special, where we get to see the production that Fred got so excited about. It’s pretty much a straight adaptation of A Christmas Carol, only peppered with some “It’s a living” gags here and there. Narration is provided by “Charles Brickens” voiced by John Rhys-Davies (yes, Gimli himself), and we actually get some scenes from the book that weren’t in Muppets, Magoo and Mickey ie. Sister Fan and even Scrooge seeing his corpse under a bedsheet. Of all the scenes to include, they include that one.

To tell the truth, when the special is adapting the book, it actually does a decent job. The dialogue is simplified a bit, but is close enough to what Dickens wrote and sounds quite natural even coming from the mouths of Flintstones characters. Most of it, at least. It’s too bad then, that we have to keep cutting back to that boring subplot about Fred forgetting Christmas and ticking off Wilma. In fact, the two plots intersect at points, worsening each other for it.  In the play, Wilma has to play both the roles of The Ghost of Christmas Past and Scrooge’s lost love Belle (the actresses originally playing those roles come down with “the Bedrock Bug”) and since she’s still pissed with Fred when playing Belle, she steps on his feet while dancing with him in a rather annoying scene.

The Muppet Christmas Carol mixed classic Muppet comedy and the words of Dickens seamlessly, but Dickens’ story and a generic Flintstones plot don’t mix together well. We get a boring Flintstones plot, then an actual pretty good Christmas Carol adaptation, then that stops after the Christmas Past sequence so we can have an awkward scene where Fred tries to get his family’s presents, and then back to the adaptation. It’s like watching an adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities that suddenly has an episode of I Dream of Jeannie shoved in halfway through.

I mentioned before that A Flintstones Christmas Carol adapts the scene where Scrooge sees his late sister Fan and remembers her death. Here, Fred as Scrooge sees her and says ‘When she died, I swore I would never love anyone again.’ It’s a line that wasn’t in the book, and is certainly too dark a line to be coming from the mouth of jolly old Fred Flintstone. It’s not the type of line you’d expect to hear in the same special that has Fred zipping around doing last-minute shopping. Imagine watching a Scooby-Doo episode where Scoob is running away from a monster, trying to trick it with a costume, and then he sees Scrappy and says, ‘Oh why did my dear sister die, leaving this poor child motherless?’ The adaptation element of this special is good, but it makes the subplot and lame jokes all the more jarring.

We’ve all made that joke about the Flintstones celebrating Christmas before Christ’s birth but A Flintstones Christmas Carol solves that mystery, sort of. Bamm-Bamm as Tiny Tim says ‘God bless us everyone’  and Barney as “Bob Cragit” says that line from the book about ‘who made lame beggars walk and blind men see’. So I guess Jesus was born before the Flintstones, or at least a cartoon stone-age version of him. I’m pretty sure Fred has mentioned Stone Age versions of famous historical figures before, like “Thomas Edistone”, so why not a…um…Rocksus Christ?

In fact, this could be support for the internet theory that The Flintstones is actually set in a post-apocalyptic future as opposed to the past (some have even said that The Flintstones and The Jetsons are set in the same time period, with the Jetsons being higher-class and the Flintstones being lower class). Imagine in a miserable and desolate future, some poor souls find a copy of A Christmas Carol among the ruins of the past society. They read it, and for a brief moment, feel what they haven’t felt in years. Hope. They share the story with others, and they embrace it, with one person even believing he is Charles Dickens. What else can they do but adapt it into a play, reminding them of the god they hope hasn’t abandoned them? That would probably be more interesting than the misadventures of that goofball Fred when will he ever learn?

The thing is that this isn’t actually the first time Fred and Barney have appeared in an adaptation of classic literature. There was a Halloween movie where they met “Rockula” and “Frankenstone” but they also appeared in a Hanna Barbera adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, where they both played the Caterpillar. Just makes you wonder what other books they could adapt. With the above theory in mind, I can see Barney and Bamm-Bamm in McCarthy’s The Road. Fred as Mr. Darcy and Wilma as Elizabeth? The Flintstones meet Stephen King with a foot-powered Christine and Cujo-saurus.

So yeah, A Flintstones Christmas Carol is a decent adaptation marred by a tired sitcom subplot. Kids may like it, I guess, but it’s not as good as the Muppets or Magoo versions.

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A Christmas Carol (2006 version)

Mrs. Cratchit's as high as fuck right now but who could blame her?

Mrs. Cratchit’s as high as fuck right now but who could blame her?

Does anyone remember when I did a countdown of the dumbest moments in Christmas Carol adaptations? Well, there’s one version I sadly overlooked, one that was packed with ridiculous and asinine moments. The 2006 animated version by BKN Entertainment was one that I forgot to put on the list, and I’m going to remedy that right now.

Now, considering that A Christmas Carol is so well-known, it can be adapted for kids mostly unchanged. The Muppets and Mr. Magoo versions were entertaining for both children and adults, were faithful to the source material and even included some of the book’s darker moments. Not so with the BKN version, one so sanitised that Tiny Tim doesn’t even die in the Christmas Yet to Come segment.

This version casts anthropomorphic animals in the roles of Dickens’ famous characters, so we have Scrooge and his nephew as skunks, the Cratchits as rabbits, Jacob Marley as a giant mutated Jiminy Cricket, Christmas Past as a stork, Christmas Present as a kangaroo and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come as a freaking walrus. Well, goo goo goo joob. Still, you want to make the characters furries, be my guest, just don’t make them disturbing-looking furries. I’m not expecting Pixar-level animation from a small-scale release like this and it’s not as bad as Foodfight, but the characters’ plastic-looking bodies and blank expressions mean that even the most perverted of furries wouldn’t jack off to this.

Mr. Herriman was never the same after all that Prozac

Mr. Herriman was never the same after all that Prozac

So how does it adapt the novel? Well, remember how in The Muppet Christmas Carol, Gonzo played Charles Dickens and quoted lines from the book almost word-for-word? Fuck that, the only quote from the book you’ll find here is “Bah, humbug!” I wouldn’t have minded new dialogue if the new dialogue was any good. For example, during the Jacob Marley scene, Marley says he is a ‘ghost of [his] former self’ and ‘It is not your soup that has soured, Ebenezer, it is your soul!’ He sounds like some sort of hellfire preacher crossed with a five year old dressed up as a ghost for Halloween.

The basic plot of A Christmas Carol is still followed, I guess. Scrooge is mean to Bob, his nephew and the charity workers, gets haunted by ghosts who show him his past, present and possible future, and Scrooge becomes all nicey-nice. I mean, hell, they actually have Scrooge give Cratchit his raise on Boxing Day like in the book, as opposed to most other kiddie versions that have Scrooge visit Cratchit’s house on Christmas Day. There are some additions made, however, utterly idiotic additions. Like at the beginning, there’s a scene that revolves around Scrooge losing a farthing and finding it on his head.

And of course, there’s the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come scene. I don’t really mind him being a walrus that talks – in fact, he probably has the best design out of everyone in the entire film, with his broken tusk and electric sparks covering his body. I could totally buy him as a walrus version of Death; if they made a funny animal remake of The Seventh Seal and used his design, I’d be totally down with that. Too bad they had to jettison Tiny Tim’s death, considering this Tiny Tim is one of the most annoying portrayals of the character ever and that’s saying a lot. He looks atrociously adorable and sounds like a Mary Poppins reject, and yet in the Christmas Yet to Come sequence, he just ends up growing up to be as much a dick as Scrooge. So, he lived a long life then? Scrooge’s grave is shown in this sequence as per usual, but, get this, he dies in the possible future because he was crushed by his coins. Maybe he thought he was the other Scrooge or something, I dunno.

"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to talk of many things..."

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things…”

Still, there is actually one change to the story I kinda like. During the Christmas Past sequence, this version attempts to do what the 1951 Alistair Sim Christmas Carol did and expand upon the relationship between Scrooge and his sister Fan. In fact, the whole sequence is dedicated to Fan, removing Fezziwig and Belle entirely. A young Ebenezer Scrooge is sent to boarding school on Christmas Day by his asshole father, and years later, Fan promises to take him back to live with her. However, when she gives birth to Fred, there’s no room for Scroogey. So young Ebenezer thinks his sister doesn’t love him and marches out, not hearing Fan say to Fred she does love Scrooge, which sort of mirrors the Sim version where young Scrooge marches out on his dying sister and doesn’t get to hear her ask him to take care of Fred. Then again, comparing the 2006 version to the 1951 version is like comparing Goodfellas to Shark Tale, which is especially apparent when the 2006 version has Christmas Past use the term “diapers”.

The movie on a whole is badly animated and poorly acted. Even when Scrooge changes his ways, it feels less like he wants to make things right and more like he just wants to feel better about himself. It’s supposed to be set in Victorian London (even though the town looks like it’s in the middle of bumfuck nowhere) yet the language used feels really American. It’s not as bad as the company’s later Alice in Wonderland adaptation (which reuses the Bob Cratchit model for the White Rabbit, among others) but still pretty lame. Yeah, it’s for kids, but so’s the Muppet version and that’s much better.

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Why Five Nights At Freddy’s is the Most Christmassy Game Ever

There a lot of video games that seem to be made to play at Halloween; there’s no better way to get into the October spirit than a couple of Amnesia custom stories. But are there that many games made for Christmas that aren’t DLC for non-Christmassy games. Well, there’s Elf Bowling, if you’re one of the few people who remember that, Batman: Arkham Origins, Five Nights at Freddy’s

‘Wait, what?’ I hear you say.

Five Nights at Freddy’s is an indie game created by Scott Cawthon. In it, you play as the night watchman of a pizza place which uses animatronic animals – Freddy the bear, Bonnie the rabbit, Chica the duck-like chick and Foxy the fan-favourite pirate fox – to entertain the children. At night, though, they come alive and wander around the pizzeria, killing all humans they come across, and you have to keep them out of your office. The game enjoyed a phenomenal amount of popularity, and in only a few months, a sequel was released. Again, you played a security guard working the night shift at a pizza place, only we had over twice the amount of animatronics, with two Freddies, two Bonnies, et al (for every animatronic from the first game, there’s a new version and an old version that had been kept in storage) and a creepy puppet that you had to soothe with a music box.

‘But that doesn’t sound very Christmassy!’ I hear you say. From those of you who have played the games I hear, ‘But both took place in November!’

Yes, and which month is when most shops put up their tree and turn on the Christmas lights? Which month is it when some people start buying presents? Some people playing Freddy’s wonder why the protagonist would keep coming back to work for the pizza place when he almost gets killed every night. You wanna know why? He’s trying to get some extra money for Christmas shopping. How heartwarming! Not only is he buying presents for his family early, he risks his life at the hands of disturbing animal animatronics just to make money to buy those presents! Sure, Gift of the Magi was touching, but I don’t remember any evil robot pirate foxes.

Plus the games are littered with tonnes of Christmas imagery. The title character is a teddy bear, for (Black) Pete’s sake. Not only that, but when the old Freddy kills you in the sequel, he looks like a Nutcracker. The sequel not only has a giant doll with candy cane arms as a villain, but a doll that lives in a giant gift box and, according to the drawings found about the pizzeria and a minigame, gives presents to the kids. Chica is a chicken, and what do you eat at Christmas when you can’t get turkey? We also have a fox and a rabbit, little woodland creatures you see on Christmas cards and South Park Christmas specials.

In the first game, newspaper articles about five children being killed at the pizzeria sporadically appear on the walls, and the sequel introduces a series of Atari-style minigames based around this. This has led to a theory that the animatronics, the old ones at least, are the way they are because they are possessed by the spirits of the dead kids. So, not counting the mysterious and rare “Golden Freddy”, the first game has the protagonist dealing with four ghosts. Isn’t there a famous Christmas story about four ghosts?

In fact, the four main animatronics in Freddy’s do have similarities to the ghosts of A Christmas Carol

freddycarol1

Foxy=Jacob Marley

  • Jacob Marley takes off the bandage around his head and his jaw drops to his breast. Foxy’s mouth is perpetually hung open and does seem to reach to his breast.
  • In the first game, Foxy is the only animatronic you see coming through the door, while the other three materialise into the security guard’s office. Marley is the only ghost Scrooge saw coming through his door while the others simply materialised before him, and Present was waiting for him in another room.
  • When Foxy leaves his “Pirate Cove” to go to the office, the sign outside the Cove changes from “Out of Order” to “It’s Me”. When Marley haunted Scrooge, Scrooge’s doorknocker and fireplace tiles change to Marley’s face.
  • In both games, Foxy’s suit is rotting away, allowing you to see his exoskeleton. Says Dickens, Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no bowels, but he had never believed it until now.
  • Foxy’s counterpart in the sequel, “The Mangle”, has been rendered a mix of wires and tubes by naughty children, and now resembles Marley’s chain.

freddycarol2

Bonnie = The Ghost of Christmas Past

  • Both utilise summery nature imagery. One is a rabbit, the other has a dress trimmed with flowers.
  • People can’t decide whether Bonnie is a girl or a boy (he has a feminine name yet the creator says he’s male, even then there have been several fanworks with a female Bonnie); ditto for Christmas Past (in some adaptations he’s a dude, in others it’s a chick).

freddycarol3

Chica = The Ghost of Christmas Present

  • Both constantly carry around food-related items. Chica is almost never seen without a cupcake, Christmas Present is almost never seen without a Horn of Plenty.
  • Christmas Present is first seen in a room filled with food, while in the first game, Chica spends a lot of time in the pizzeria’s kitchen.
  • Both of them have a resemblance to Jesus. Christmas Present has  a beard, a robe and a wreath on his head, and Chica, well

freddycarol4

Freddy = The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

  • The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is the last ghost to haunt Scrooge, and in the first game, Freddy is the last to stalk the player, not moving from the stage until around the third of the five nights.
  • Both of them are almost always seen in the shadows.

Also, there’s this annoying new animatronic in the sequel that resembles a creepy human child that disables your lights, and sometimes, what looks like it with different colours appears under the player character’s desk. If that means there are two “Balloon Boys”, that means Freddy’s 2 has its very own Ignorance and Want. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing is a fitting way to describe how they look, don’t you think?

The aforementioned newspaper articles that appear on the walls in Freddy’s also tell of the past (the kids getting killed), the present (the pizzeria getting complaints about the stench in the animatronics) and the future (the pizzeria is going to be closed by the end of the year). The Atari minigames in the sequel also act as more substantial visions of the past, showing a child getting killed while Freddy is serving cake, and the puppet apparently putting the souls of the dead children in the animatronics. Freddy’s 2 is actually a prequel to the first game (if you win, the newer animatronics are scrapped and the older ones are fixed up) and yet a minigame about Foxy shows the Pirate Cove from the first game, so some have theorised that it shows the future.

So does that mean the player characters in the games (the player character in the first game is a different character from the one in the second; the first game’s guard is called Mike Schmidt and the second game’s is called Jeremy Fitzgerald) act as the Scrooge in this story? Well, they both are in Bob Cratchit-esque situations. They work a horribly crappy job, and get paid minimum wage for doing so. If anything, whoever owns “Fazbear Entertainment” should be haunted.

Well, if the animatronics are possessed by murdered children, then their intended “Scrooge” should be the one who killed them. They shouldn’t waste time trying to reform him, because a kid-killing sicko is beyond such a thing, but then, showing him visions of the past would serve a purpose: showing him why he should die, and why they deserve revenge. Scrooge needed to live to prevent Tiny Tim’s death, the murderer needs to be brought to justice for causing children’s deaths.

There are two theories about the player characters and how they relate to this whole thing. One theory says that one of the player characters is the killer and is either suffering hallucinations from guilt or the ghosts are trying to get revenge on him. Another is that both player characters are innocent and that the animatronics trying to kill you is a case of mistaken identity.

In the latter case, you can play Five Nights at Freddy’s and witness what is probably the darkest, most depressing adaptation of A Christmas Carol ever made. Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas were all people murdered by Scrooge, and instead of reforming him, want him to pay for his crimes and show him why he deserves to die. And because they’re confused, they end up tormenting Bob Cratchit instead, making him pay for a crime he didn’t commit while he simply just wanted to make some extra money.

Merry Christmas!

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The Five Best Renditions of the Penguin from Batman

You know, at Christmas time, you see a lot of certain animals decorating shop windows, dioramas and Christmas trees. You see several reindeer, maybe a polar bear or two, and of course, penguins. Penguins aren’t really that Christmassy given they live in the South Pole while Santa lives in the North, but they’re cold-related, and the internet loves them, so why not? I mean, a penguin was the subject of a recent Christmas ad:

Though when I think penguins, I think a certain Batman villain. A Batman villain that is simultaneously famous and underappreciated.

The Penguin is probably Batman’s second best known enemy next to the Joker, but there are some that think a little fat man with trick umbrellas is a bit too silly for the DARK AND EDGY Batman. He was intentionally left out of the Nolan movies, and made the fifth worst Batman villain on an IGN list (it’s IGN, so take it with a grain of salt, but still). Nonetheless, he still enjoys quite a bit of fame and popularity, and though he hasn’t appeared in the Dark Knight trilogy, he has made appearances in almost every other Batman adaptation ever.

And I can’t just help but love the fat little bugger. Like Batman and the Joker, he’s seen many varied yet similar interpretations, from a goofball baddie to a ruthless mob boss, from a sophisticated aristocrat to a snarling curmudgeon. All of them different yet you can trace their roots. Since I like him so much, I’m going to count down my five favourite interpretations of the character.

5) Gotham

gotham_posters_penguin

The most recent screen interpretation of the Batman rogue is low on the list for two reasons: 1) this is the Penguin before he became the Penguin, before he got his top hat and probably ate a thousand pancakes for breakfast, and 2) Gotham isn’t really that good a show. A show revolving around James Gordon and the Gotham PD could have been interesting, but Gordon here is too bland to really get involved with, and the show tends to beat you over the head with comic book references. Look, here’s Poison Ivy as a kid and she’s playing with a plant! Look, here’s Catwoman as a kid who feeds cats and is called “Cat”! And c’mon, having her witness the Wayne murders?

As is the custom with Batman stories, the villains are more interesting than the heroes, and Robin Lord Taylor as the Penguin-to-be is the most interesting character in the whole show. While the adventures of Gordon and Bullock aren’t really worth writing about most of the time, Penguin’s rise to power actually did have me wondering what would happen next. Taylor creates a character that is dangerously underestimated by his peers, a snivelly, weasely exterior masking true malice. True, he has some weird scenes like when he is given a sponge bath by his Bonham Carter-esque mother, but that makes his darker moments more significant in contrast. He’s like the Gotham equivalent of Tony in Catterick if you’ve ever seen that show.

His appearance is also striking, and a good way to evoke the character without a monocle or lard. He has the pallor of the Danny DeVito rendition (you know, like the show’s Selina is played by a Michelle Pfeiffer lookalike?) but has the smart wardrobe of his comic book counterpart. And speaking of comic books…

4) Joker’s Asylum: Penguin

Joker's_Asylum_Penguin_1

The Joker’s Asylum comics were a bunch of short character study stories about Batman’s various rogues, told Cryptkeeper-style by the Joker, and the Penguin one was probably the best of the lot. This Penguin looks more of a human-penguin hybrid than DeVito’s, but this works in his favour, making him naturally alternate from adorable to terrifying.

This story begins with the Penguin having a bit more humanity than usual, with a flashback to his childhood where he is made the subject of a prank and him falling in love in his adulthood. This is not to last, however, as on a date, Penguin thinks a chef is laughing at him. So he goes and ruins the chef’s life until the chef commits suicide. As you do.

So the best Batman villains are those that are human beings (even the Joker, at times) and here, Penguin is human without losing any of the menace he is supposed to have. Penguin has always had an affinity for birds, well, here this facet is given a pretty freaky twist; a young Oswald pets one of his beloved birds, it bites him, he beats it, and then ends up cuddling the poor little dying thing. That really sums up this Penguin; he may appear sad but you really, really don’t want to get on his bad side.

3) Penguin Triumphant

Batman_Penguin_Triumphant

Now there’s an image that tells you everything you need to know about the Penguin. He has that refined dress sense and manner, but also has a grimier Joe Pesci appearance to reflect his darker criminal tendencies. Like Bruce Wayne, he mingles with higher society as well as play a part in silly superhero stories.

This story turns one of Penguin’s faults into an advantage; he may look comical, but that means people underestimate how truly manipulative and brilliant he really is. Here, he joins up with Randy Holmes, who used to bully Penguin as a kid, to manipulate the stock market. Holmes tries to catch the Penguin out by taping his confession ala Batman Returns, but Penguin’s umbrella has a scrambler that means all he gets is static.

So here the Penguin is more sneakier than usual, but he still stays true to his roots, wauking like the 60’s interpretation and at the end, becoming a dead ringer for his Silver Age self. Also, a pretty big plot point in this comic is Penguin’s hero, the gentleman thief Raffles, which leads to some amusing fantasy sequences.

2) Batman: Arkham City

Batman-Arkham-City-Penguin1

Batman: Arkham Asylum did bring us some pretty frightening takes on Killer Croc and Scarecrow, and its sequel does the same with the Penguin. I don’t think there’s ever been a take on the Penguin more ruthless and sadistic than this one.

This Penguin keeps the basics of his character – he owns the Iceberg Lounge, has an umbrella weapon and has a monocle. Well, the latter isn’t really true; his monocle is actually a beer bottle shoved into his face. Okay then. Still, it’s not too jarring. The fact that he now talks in a Cockney accent may seem arbitrary at first, but Nolan North plays the character so well. Every syllable he speaks drips with malicious glee and it’s utterly glorious to listen to.

Thugs in the game talk to each other about how the Penguin could rival the Joker and you actually believe it from the way he displays his victories in the abandoned museum, and the joy he takes in the Wayne murders in the interview tapes. Arkham City may not have the atmosphere of Arkham Asylum, but it still knows how to make a scary villain.

1) The 1966 Series

The_Penguin_2

What else could I put as number one? All of the preceding Penguins on this list are interesting and intimidating in their own way, but it’s the one from the campy TV series that’s the best. Without him, these other Penguins wouldn’t exist.

The 1966 TV series actually did do a lot to shape the Batman mythos as we know it. It improved sales of the comics, it turned Mr. Zero into Mr. Freeze, and elevated Penguin into a top tier threat with how beloved Burgess Meredith’s performance as the character was. And how could it not be beloved? This Penguin had more vigour than even the Joker, and the ludicrousness and ridiculousness of the character and his schemes made him even more lovable.

In the movie, he had flying umbrellas and a penguin-shaped submarine, and had such wonderful chemistry with the other three villains of the piece. When they dehydrate goons into powder so they can be rehydrated in the Batcave later, Penguin says, while putting them in vials, ‘Every one of them has a mother.’

And how can you refuse someone in a purple top hat?

And yes, I know this was a pretty stretching Christmas article. Deal with it.

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Avenger Penguins – A Christmas Carol

With less than a month to go until Christmas, I guess I better start writing some Christmassy shit.

I’m pretty sure nostalgic Brits remember the cartoons of Cosgrove Hall; Danger Mouse, where Del Boy Trotter played a spy mouse, The Wind in the Willows, where Del Boy played Mr. Toad, and Count Duckula where Del Boy played a vampire duck. Well, you won’t believe this, but today we’re going to look at a cartoon of theirs that doesn’t have Del Boy in it! You’re shocked, I know.

Avenger Penguins is what we’ll be looking at, and it’s a show about motorbike-riding penguins. Isn’t that all the information you need? Oh, okay, I’ll say a few more things.

Avenger Penguins was meant as a parody of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and all the ripoffs that followed in its wake. It revolved around the three titular penguins, led by the brash, cocky Marlon, and though Marlon may not have been voiced by Del Boy, he was voiced by Mike McShane of Whose Line Is It Anyway fame.

Now there’s a voice you want for a cartoon.

His teammates consisted of Rocky, the moron of the team complete with “duuuuh” voice, and Bluey, a Donatello-esque tech whiz who spoke in weird sound effects like Gerald McBoingBoing on crack. They were fighting against the evil of one Caractacus P Doom (also voiced by McShane), who looked like the aborted lovechild of Dracula and Don Vito Corleone. His goal was to take over the world (yes, gotta use this) and the penguins stop him. Sounds pretty straightforward, but I’m making the series seem saner than it actually is.

So, without further ado, let’s look at their Christmas Carol parody episode (which aired in October, shame, considering Count Duckula’s Christmas special aired on Christmas Eve), entitled…A Christmas Carol.

First things first: the intro

is fucking awesome.

The episode begins with a panning shot of “Big City” at Christmas while some woman talks about how awesome Christmas is. Then we enter the evil tower of Caractacus P Doom, and we get a big honking closeup of the guy himself. His face is covering the screen and he says ‘Come’ in a weirdly sultry way. And that is the face of someone who’ll watch you masturbate, let me tell ya. Just imagine, you’re off to do one, you’ve got your porn mags and your loo roll, and then suddenly, what looks like an undead Nick Griffin clouds your vision. ‘Come’ is all he says.

Someone probably would still fap to that

Someone probably would still fap to that

Then we meet Doom’s henchman, Harry Slime. Yes, that is a reference to The Third Man. A kiddie show has one of its main characters named after the 1949 noir flick written by Graham Greene. This is because Caractacus P Doom was modelled off of Orson Welles. Yes, that’s not a typo; Doom is modelled off Welles, but Harry, who is named after an Orson Welles character, is modelled off of Peter Lorre. Weird that. Fittingly enough, Slime is almost as pathetic as Lorre’s character in M was, begging Santa to bring him at least one present.

Yes, Harry Slime was actually the most sympathetic character in the show. In fact, earlier on, there was a two-parter about Slime redeeming himself with the help of a magical fairy. I told you this show was weird. Also, remember that for later.

Then we join our heroes. Marlon, with a hat that looks like Donald Duck’s head, Rocky all big and blubbery, Bluey with his weird talky thing. There’s an awkward scene where they’re trying to put a fairy on top of their tree – they left it until Christmas Eve to put up their tree? – before all the power is turned out in Big City. Who could have done such a horrible deed, you might ask? Caractacus P Doom? No, it was Fred Astaire. Pscyh, it really was Doom, who tells the Penguins this via a weird satellite thingy that flies up to their window.

Yes, Doom does know where the Penguins live. No, he’s never burst in there with a shotgun, or blasted the entire place with a laser. Well, he did try to raze it one time, but that’s another story.

So Doom has took away all the power. How did he do that? By taking out a big plug that happens to be in his lair. Who the fuck thought it was a good idea to put the source of the city’s power in the villain’s lair? Following on from that, Doom has the most obvious evil lair ever, a big tower with statues of his grinning mug. Why haven’t they sent the police in there or something? He’s constantly being beaten by three idiot penguins, several cops should handle him no problem.

Doom has gotten rid of the power and thus ruined Christmas. A statement on the commercialisation and materialism of Christmas? I dunno. Doom has power though, with a generator powered by Harry Slime on an exercise bike. Geez, I kinda wanna give him a hug. Anyway, Doom then goes off to bed. And since this episode is called “A Christmas Carol”, I bet you can guess what’s going to happen. Yes, everyone in the city’s gonna hold hands and sing, and his heart’s gonna grow. Given how fat he is, he probably has heart problems already.

So, with Doom’s plan in motion, the Avenger Penguins rush to the rescue, infiltrating his…just kidding, they’re just sitting around talking about what a meanie Doom is. Then they decide to follow Cinderella’s example and solve their problems by standing around wishing. They’re even visited by a fairy; the Sweetheart Fairy Angel of All Things Fluffy and Nice.

Who is the SWFAoATFaN, you may ask? Well, in one episode, Doom threatened to destroy the Penguin’s home unless they raised a million quid. If I were Doom, I’d just flatten the house while the Penguins were goofing around, but whatever. Slime got fired by Doom, and was visited by the SWFAoATFaN, who tried to help him change and gave him three wishes. With two of the wishes (the first was to help a kitty find its way home), Slime helped the Penguins raise the money and banished Doom to Mars. The spell that put Doom on Mars wore off after a year, and he tried to get revenge, but his doomsday machine blasted him back to Mars. Nonetheless, in the next episode, he was inexplicably back on Earth with Slime as his sidekick. Yes, I did just describe an actual cartoon and not a fever dream.

If you touch me again, I'll rip your goddamned wings off! Okay?

If you touch me again, I’ll rip your goddamned wings off! Okay?

The fairy knows what’s up. Why? Because she read the script to the episode. And this leads to a bunch of fourth wall breaking jokes.

SWFAoATFaN: That’s terrible!
Rocky: The script? It ain’t that bad.

And when SWFAoATFaN tells them about A Christmas Carol:

SWFAoATFaN: It’s an old story by a writer named Charles Dickens.
Rocky: Doesn’t he write scripts around here?
SWFAoATFaN: He’s been dead for more than 100 years.
Rocky: Some of our gags are at least that old!

Well, I’ve heard worse fourth-wall breaking (I’m looking at you, Wacky World of Tex Avery).

So you can guess where this is going. The SWFAoATFaN uses her magic to turn the penguins into the ghosts of Christmas to haunt Doom to try and get him to change his ways. While they’re doing that, maybe they could pop on over to Fabletown too; there’s an awful lot of assholes there, as well as Tiny Tim even.

They jettison Jacob Marley out of this story, but Rocky as the Ghost of Christmas Past has chains though so I guess that evens it out. Rocky also says ‘Come’ while the camera is close on his face, but it’s not as horrifying as when Doom did it. Using the Force, I guess, Rocky makes Doom float out of his bed and takes him to the past. Says Doom of this, ‘Can’t a guy get a little shut-eye without being invaded by kooks, double glazing salesmen, and 19th century penguins?’

Even Doom thinks this whole thing is just too weird.

Even Doom thinks this whole thing is just too weird.

Doom is probably the best thing about the whole show. McShane’s obviously having a lot of fun with how over-the-top and wacky he is, and his lines, role in the show, and animation remind one of Long John Baldry’s Dr. Robotnik, and is amusing to watch.

Rocky shows Doom his boyhood days; even back then, Doom tortured Slime, by giving him a Christmas present of two anvils on his feet. Sheesh, even in Slime’s childhood days, you feel sorta bad for the guy. Eminem’s got nothing on him. Doom’s henchman-to-be, however, gets his own back by dropping an elephant on the pudgy one. You know, it’s a wonder why Slime ended up working for Doom. You’d have thought he’d have reported Doom to the police long ago. I haven’t sympathised with a villainous sidekick so much since Jesse Pinkman.

Marlon then appears as the Ghost of Christmas Present on his motorbike, and he rides Doom around Big City. You’d think Marlon would show people and families affected by Doom’s plan, or people trying to make merry regardless, but he just tells Doom that Doom turned off the lights, which Doom already knows, and dumps him off somewhere. Dickens himself couldn’t have written a better scene.

Then Bluey appears as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. He doesn’t get a grim reaper robe, but he does get a tiny spaceship (a flying cup and saucer, very cute) and shows Doom that in the future, Doom will…Doom will…turn off all the stars and make the universe a big black hole, which Doom is then sucked into. Wow, that’s not as stupid as Scrooge in Hell, but it’s still weird.

In true Christmas Carol fashion, Doom wakes up and turns the power back on. He hasn’t changed that much, however, as he plops two anvils on Slime again.

Well, that was certainly something. It wasn’t as good as Dangermouse or Count Duckula, and it was pretty fucking surreal too. Still, the art style and animation was appealing and Caractacus P Doom was just so much fun to watch. I may look at this show again in the future.

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The Melancholy Death of Filbert’s Pet Plant

Filbert

So for Halloween, I thought I should do something special. Namely, look back at my previous articles, find something I only touched upon briefly, and then look at it in more detail.

You may recall last year I looked at the five most fucked-up creatures from British kids’ telly; a showcase of the most horrible monstrosities on British TV since Bruce Forsythe. I only said a few words about the shows, though I did look at Rainbow in more detail later, but this time, I think I’ll look at Wizadora a bit more in detail, specifically the episode I mentioned in the article. Here’s what I said last time:

Wizadora concerned the adventures of the titular woman training to be a wizard, and yeah, if your show’s premise involves someone tampering with the dark forces of Satan, there’s going to be something offsetting about it. Most of Wiz’s friends had something wrong about them – there was Tatty Bogle, a scarecrow that looked like Ray Bolger in The Wizard of Oz crossed with an insane hobo, Phoebe, a telephone that bore more than a passing resemblance to those face banks, but the worst of the lot was fucking Filbert up there.

Yes, one of the supporting characters in Wizadora looked like one of Audrey II’s faeces. With his eternal smile, bulging eyes and odd movements, Filbert’s design seems more appropriate for a villain than a supporting character – he wouldn’t look out of place as an antagonist in Doctor Who, something that turns people into plants or something. What’s worse about him is that he’s more or less a retard, speaking in squeaks and some unexplainable language. He’s pretty much Lennie Small in puppet form, as evident here:

Filbert likes plants as much as Lennie loved small animals, it seems, as when his “pet plant” dies, Filbert plum acts like it’s the end of the world. He even asks Wizadora to use her magic to bring the plant back to life (she can’t, which makes her a pretty shitty wizard. I mean, how are you going to raise an army of zombies if you can’t even resurrect a stupid plant?) And he cries while smiling. That fucking smile. Maybe he’s sad about his plant dying because it didn’t outlive the entire human race like he wanted.

TLDR: Wizadora was about the eponymous wizard and a mutant onion called Filbert, and in one episode “Cheer Up Filbert”, Filbert’s pet plant died and they tried to cheer him up with a party. And that’s the episode I’m going to look at today. In fact, I’m going to do something different. I’m going to novelise the episode. It just feels right to do.

The Melancholy Death of Filbert’s Pet Plant

By The Terror of Tiny Toon

Adapted from the script by Don Arioli and Carolyne Cullum

The first thing Filbert noticed when he went out to the garden that day was that although it was sunny, there was still a bit of a chill. Surely if the sun was out, everything should be warm, shouldn’t it? In winter, Filbert didn’t see the sun, but then, he thought, what was lighting the world if there was no sun? Maybe when the sun is cold, it’s invisible? But the sun is visible now…

All thoughts of the sun dried up when Filbert saw his friend, Tatty Bogle the talking scarecrow, ready to do some gardening. Filbert was helping Tatty with the back garden, watering the plants. Every flower would drink on the life-giving fluid and Filbert would know when they were sated, for being a talking vegetable meant that he had a link with the plant world, and he could sense their auras.

That’s why he loved his Pet Plant so. When he saw it at a nursery not too long ago, he noticed it had a special aura unlike any other plants he had seen. It was an aura that was sweet to taste; something like a mixture of cinnamon and strawberry jam. Filbert’s friend – the wizard Wizadora – couldn’t buy the plant soon enough, and Filbert had spent many merry days with the plant by his side. They had gone to movies together, they had sat beside each other in the garden, and that’s why Filbert looked forward to watering the plants every morning.

Water the marigold. Water the daisies. The Pet Plant gets the lion’s share of the drink, as its satisfaction is the greatest of all.

But wait…

Fibert couldn’t feel the Pet Plant’s aura. No cinnamon, no jam, no sugar, no comfort, no anything. Usually it filled the garden, dominated it even, but the aura was nowhere to be found now. Perhaps Wizadora had moved the plant, thought Filbert. Then he tried to find the aura, and thought that he could sense a tingle of it in the air. He could taste the cinnamony-jammy spell. The Pet Plant was still here, it had to be here.

So Filbert said, in his own little language, ‘I want to water my Pet Plant.’

‘Good idea,’ said Tatty Bogle, and off Filbert trotted to where he usually kept his Pet Plant. Yes, that tingle of the plant was growing stronger – or was it? Filbert hummed a little song as he went along, if only to silence his doubts. Then he beheld his Pet Plant and screamed.

The aura was gone entirely. What was once a bright green plant was now a filthy orange husk, drooping to the side of its pot as if trying to escape from the soil. The Pet Plant’s firm branches were now limp, and its leaves had begun to fall off. No cinnamon or sugar could be felt from this scene; instead it felt like Filbert’s insides were being devoured.

‘Plant,’ was all Filbert could say, ‘Plant!’

Tatty ran to the scene, only to collapse to his knees when he saw the plant. As much as Filbert hoped he wouldn’t, Tatty said, ‘I’m afraid your little Pet Plant’s died, Filbert.’

Death. Filbert was young, but he knew about death. He thought that death only happened to bad people – when the evil witch died in fairy tales, she was gone forever and the heroes would live happily ever afterwards. Death wasn’t something that could happen to the Pet Plant. That special aura of his couldn’t be eradicated eternally. Not so young. Not when Filbert still needed him. Being a retarded vegetable creature wasn’t something that got you a lot of friends, and the Pet Plant was the only one who really understood him.

‘I think the cold’s killed it,’ said Tatty, ‘Young plants can’t stand the cold.’

Filbert wept, but the tears brought no comfort. They couldn’t fill the void that the Plant left. All he could say to Tatty on the matter was, ‘I’m sad.’

He burst into the house, just so he didn’t have to see that horrid corpse any more. Waiting in the house were some of the few friends Filbert did have. Phoebe the talking telephone. The Old Fish. Wizadora the wizard.

Wizard? A tiny idea popped up in Filbert’s brain.

‘What’s the matter, Filbert?’ asked Wizadora.

Filbert said that his Pet Plant had died. Then he added, ‘Can’t you magic it back to life?’

In his mind’s eye, he saw Wizadora nodding, with her saying in a soothing voice, ‘Oh, of course I can, Filbert. There, there, don’t cry.’ Then she would get out her wand and say a spell, ‘Wizardy hop, wizardly jump, wizardly wiggle, wizardly bump, wizardly husband, wizardly wife, bring Filbert’s Pet Plant back to life!’ Sparks would fly from the wand and onto the plant corpse. It would spring up again; its orange would make way for its former vibrant green, and its aura would fill the garden once more. Filbert would cuddle the Pet Plant – Phoebe would coo, ‘Look how happy he is now that his Pet Plant is alive again’ – and he would never take his eye off it again.

But none of that happened. All Wizadora said was, ‘I’m sorry, Filbert, but I can’t. There are some things that even wizards can’t do.’ No more aura. No more Plant. Though tears provided no release, Filbert continued to cry. ‘It’s okay to be sad, Filbert,’ said Wizadora, ‘We’re sad too.’

No, they weren’t sad.

There were party things out. Balloons and cakes and sweets.

They weren’t sad.

Sitting at the table was a clown. A clown with bright orange frizzy hair and a threadbare hobo jacket, not unlike the clothes Tatty Bogle wore, complemented by a big red spotty tie. Wiping away his tears, Filbert stared at the clown as it waved at him, smiling joyfully. ‘Hello, Filbert,’ said the clown in a soft voice. ‘Time for din-dins.’

The corpse of the Pet Plant was on the clown’s plate.

‘Yummy for my tummy,’ said the clown.

Filbert looked around for Wizadora, but she, Phoebe and the Old Fish had vanished.

As a distorted version of ‘Entry of the Gladiators’ played non-diagetically, the clown yanked the Plant out of its pot and ripped it in half with his teeth. He chewed the first half with his mouth open, all the while taking the soil apart to get at the Plant’s roots. Then he bit his teeth into the second half and violently tossed his head around with the plant in his mouth, looking like a dog tearing apart a piece of meat. After he had eaten most of the plant, he grabbed the soil and the fallen leaves, and threw them about the room like confetti.

Filbert could only stare as the clown neared him.

The clown smiled. ‘Your little Pet Plant is dead.’

The clown’s eyes turned red. Its teeth became fangs. Its tongue became that of an adder.

FOREVER!

It turn let loose a torrent of high-pitched laughter which made Filbert cover his eyes.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

HAHAHAHAHA

Then it stopped.

Filbert uncovered his eyes and found himself in a lush green field. Though he saw no trees, the wind rustling in the leaves was the only sound he could hear. He looked up and saw that the sky was a pale, plain blue without a single cloud or bird. He looked down and saw several daisies at his feet.

Right in front of him was a gravestone.

Rest in Peace

Filbert’s Pet Plant

Filbert could indeed sense the body of his Pet Plant in the ground, and he kneeled. At least, he thought, now the Pet Plant is at peace, and has a lovely spot to be buried in.

The sky was then clotted with dark red clouds. The grave burst open, revealing a gigantic demon with crimson skin. Its head was nothing but a mouth full of fangs, framed by two black horns. It was obese, with a giant eyeball in its stomach, and a wizened human head lodged in its skin above the eyeball. Instead of legs, it had thick, writhing tentacles, covered in green slime. In its arm it held a black trident. Impaled on the trident’s prongs were a cute little squirrel, a Smurf, and a Teletubby’s severed head.

‘I am the Demon of Doom,’ said the demon, though it was the human head on its torso that was speaking. The huge mouth that made up its head only grinded its teeth. ‘And I have reaped the soul of your Pet Plant.’

Filbert shuddered, holding himself tightly.

‘Do you think he went to Heaven?’ sneered the Demon of Doom. When Filbert forced himself to nod, the Demon yelled, ‘Well, you’re wrong! He’s in Hell!’ The Demon conjured up a giant mirror almost as big as his entire body. In the mirror was what looked like Filbert’s Pet Plant, only more so. He now had eyeballs and a mouth, and said eyeballs had nails in them and said mouth was being tugged to its torso by rusty hooks. More hooks were holding the plant above a pit of giant snails with writhing tentacles instead of antenna, which were now crawling over the plant’s body. Filbert shuddered more, squeaking sadly.

‘Why are you sad?’ asked the Demon of Doom. ‘It was you that put him there! You put him in a vulnerable spot where he would die of the cold. You could have put him in a warmer spot, but you didn’t! I think you wanted him to die!’

Filbert turned around to see Walter White from Breaking Bad approach him, Walter’s face scrunched up in pure hatred. ‘You could have saved him, but you didn’t.’

‘When you die and go to Hell, Filbert,’ the Demon continued, ‘you’ll still never see your Pet Plant again. You’ll hear his screams, you’ll constantly be reminded that you killed him, but you’ll be all alone with your torment.’

Filbert ran to the giant mirror, as if he could just leap in and grab his Pet Plant, but then a shackle wrapped around his foot, pushing him away. A tall pale man, wearing a black robe and with nails in his head arranged in a neat position, appeared. ‘He is in his own Hell, child, just like you will be in yours.’

Filbert could do nothing but cry.

‘Aw, no tears, please!’ said Pinhead, ‘It’s a waste of good suffering.’

‘Still,’ said the Demon of Doom, ‘you’ve got to admit it’s pretty fucking hilarious that he’s crying over a stupid plant!’

Pinhead shrugged. ‘Yeah, I guess so,’ he said as he got out a hammer and hit Filbert between his eyes. Walter White then kicked Filbert in the face and pressed his foot down on Filbert’s nose. When Walter removed his foot, the clown reappeared and threw a custard pie at Filbert’s face. All the while, the Pet Plant’s screams grew even louder.

When Filbert removed the custard from his eyes, he saw an array of tiny devils crawl from the ground. They, the clown, Walter and Pinhead all formed a conga line, gleefully dancing around Filbert, laughing at his suffering. Distorted music filled the air, and the Demon of Doom clapped along with it. The mirror grew bigger, with the Pet Plant having a red-hot skewer driven into his skull. ‘Filbert!’ screamed the Pet Plant, ‘You did this to me! I’ll kill you! I’ll fucking kill you!’

‘Ooh!’ said the Demon of Doom, ‘So much for your loving Pet Plant, eh, Filbert? In fact, I have an idea!’ The Demon, the clown, Walter, Pinhead and the tiny little devils then shot lightning out of their palms, aiming at the mirror. The mirror exploded, revealing a transformed Pet Plant. He had become a muscular green monster, with moss-covered flesh peeling from his body, an exposed brain with screws driven in it and a mouth which stretched to his stomach. Worms and tentacle snails crawled all over his body. “Little Boy, You’re Going to Hell” from the South Park movie started to play as the Pet Plant roared at the sky.

Filbert tried to run, but he couldn’t. Filbert tried to scream, but he couldn’t.

‘Filbert!’ screamed the Pet Plant, ‘Look at what you have done to me!’

The Demon of Doom laughed. The clown laughed. Walter laughed. Pinhead laughed. All the tiny little devils laughed.

‘Filbert! If I’m in Hell then I’m taking you with me!’

Faced with this grotesque parody of his best friend, Filbert could only close his eyes and wait for Hell to take him. He tried to think about the good times he shared with his Plant, but could only think of how the blazing fires of Hell would feel, and what torments would be awaiting him, and how he had failed one of his true friends.

‘Filbert! It’s time for…cake.’

Huh?

Opening his eyes, Filbert found himself back home. No Demon of Doom, no monsters, just Wizadora, the Old Fish and Phoebe, along with lots of party stuff. As it turned out, the party wasn’t to celebrate the death of his Pet Plant after all, but to celebrate Filbert’s birthday. So they ate cake and opened presents and had lots of fun!

THE END

Yeah, that’s pretty much exactly how the episode went.

What do you mean ‘no, it’s not?’ What do you mean ‘they wouldn’t include Pinhead in a kid’s show?’ He was too in this episode, they even got Doug back, just look at the video.

Wow, you actually watched this episode? And you’re still saying it wasn’t like my novelisation? My novelisation is exactly like the episode! Just ask Frederick, the spider that lives in my brain.

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Hunk

You don't want to know where that pitchfork's going.

You don’t want to know where that pitchfork’s going.

I may have put the Devil on my list of monsters I can’t take seriously anymore, but I still can’t help but have a soft spot for stories where Satan or a Satan-like figure serves as the antagonist. The Devil, at his best, is more a psychological enemy than a physical one and his method is not to commit acts of evil himself, but to make others do it, which offers up some interesting story ideas. Good portrayals of the character not only tempt the protagonists into evil, but make the audience feel tempted too; he may be the Ultimate Evil, but seems like the sort of guy you would hang out with and buy a drink for. Al Pacino in Devil’s Advocate, Jack Nicholson in Witches of Eastwick, John Goodman in Barton Fink, all fine variations on good old Diablo. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be adding the late James Coco to the list, though he does play the role in low-budget 1987 comedy Hunk.

This movie actually has some interesting tidbits to it. According to a review on IMDB, it came about when director Lawrence Bassoff got a movie deal from Crown International Pictures, and when the movie spawned from that, Weekend Pass, proved quite successful, Crown wanted to fund another movie from him. All they said, apparently, was that they wanted it to be called Hunk, and what the story was about was up to Bassoff. It’s also the film debut of Brad Pitt, who makes an uncredited cameo in a beach scene and was one of James Coco’s last films, being released shortly after his death. The movie itself, however, is not really that interesting or entertaining.

The main character of Hunk is a computer nerd. How can we tell he’s a nerd? Because his name is Bradley Brinkman. Brinkman. Sheesh, they may as well have called him Geeky P. Dorkerson (the P stands for Pocket-Protectors). He looks like a fusion between Gene Wilder and Jim Parsons, but is played by Steve Levitt. He works as a computer programmer, but hasn’t been putting his all into it ever since his girlfriend ran away with her aerobics instructor. One day he says he’ll sell his soul for a donut a winning program, and the computer writes a program for him: The Yuppie Program. It’s so good – hellishly good even, muahahaha – that Brinkman is given a paid holiday to Sea Spray beach where he will come up with his next program.

There, he’s pushed around by the yuppies – because he’s a NEEERRD – and then is approached by this weird lady called O’Brien, because having a name befitting of an Irish barkeep makes you seductive and mysterious I guess. She offers Brinkman a chance to become a popular, good-looking hunk in exchange for his soul – again? Does he have two souls? Okay then – and he gets it after a rather disturbing scene where his muscles (and package) inflate while he sleeps.

Brinkman is now rechristened Hunk Golden…oh, come on. Still, it’s not the most generic name in the movie. I mean, the beach is called Sea Spray, one of the mean yuppies is called Skeet and there’s even a television host Golden saves called Garrison Gaylord. Garrison Gaylord. When Golden saves Gaylord, he becomes a beloved hero, though he’d probably be more beloved if he let him drown. However, if Brinkman chooses to continue being Hunk Golden, he’ll have to help the Devil bring suffering and destruction. So yeah, you can see where this is going. Brinkman goes back to being himself – the good old “be yourself” message – gets the girl – O’Brien also sold her soul to the Devil- and everyone lives happily ever after.

So Hunk is dated. Very very dated. Pretty much a checklist of everything comedy movies in the 80’s had to have: nerdy protagonist who gets laid by the film’s end, spoof of yuppie culture, supernatural made silly. Some 80’s movies about Halloweeny things have managed to stand the test of time – Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Little Shop of Horrors – but Hunk feels longer than it actually is and barely contains any laughs. There are some mildly amusing touches here and there, like when Brinkman signs with blood, O’Brien makes him do so with a pen-syringe combo – but no belly laughs, nothing that will stick in your mind.

Remember when I wondered if Brinkman had two souls? Well, that seems to be the case, I guess. One night, Brinkman as Hunk Golden is visited by his former self. Now you might think this is some sort of Jekyll/Hyde thing (or hell, maybe like the good angel and evil angel in Dr Faustus), but Brinkman says to Golden that he’s in Hell. When Brinkman became Golden, his original body went to Hell. But…didn’t we see Brinkman’s body physically transform into Golden? O’Brien underwent a physical transformation as part of her deal, so did something similar happen to her old body? We had that creepy muscle inflating scene when Brinkman became Golden, yet he turns back with a glowy effect? Satan, what hast thou wrought?

Speaking of the devil – get it? – I’m not sure about James Coco’s Beelzebub, called “Dr. D” here. He comes off as neither likeable nor threatening and is in fact, just as confusing as the whole body thing I talked about last paragraph. When he first appears, he’s dressed as Attila the Hun and even says he’s “currently” sacking Rome in 451 AD. ‘If history is going to repeat itself, I have to keep evil going in the past as well as the future,’ he says. So, I guess the Devil is Dr. Manhattan or something and experiences time differently than we do, I dunno. He also appears as in several different costumes throughout the movie, even as a Nazi, but it hardly makes him endearing. He’s neither frightening enough to make you believe he’s the Prince of Darkness, nor is he entertaining enough to make you believe someone would want to sell his soul to him. In fact, the acting in general isn’t very good in this, with the best performance probably coming from Brinkman’s boss.

So, as you can see, I’m not very fond of this movie, and wouldn’t recommend it. It does some interesting things in its background, but that’s all it has.

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