Friday, December 22, 2006

TAKE THIS BLOG TO DETROIT

Friday Morning. Do you know what time it is? That's right, gang, it's time for the Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day, that time when I throw pride, maturity, and the ability to title Blog Memes without redundancies to the wind and bust into the vault of nostalgia and lost youth.

(Not to mention finding an excuse in my own enthusiasm to indulge in ever more run-on sentences and tumbling cascades of words than usual.)

Let's do it. Before there was Airplane! with it's gag-a-minute pop-culture references, before The Blues Brothers and its (not-so) carefully controlled chaos & anarchy, and even before Animal House's National Lampoon-inspired discovery of the endless comic potential of gratuitously-bared breasts . . . but still after Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Monty Python & The Holy Grail, and of course, M*A*S*H -- so let's not forget it's just a SILLY movie that I'm about to discuss -- I present to you, for your pre-Christmas, post-Chanukah, mid-Kwanzaa, Pre-pre-Ramadan, and {Enough!}. So, for your pleasure, it's . . .

The Kentucky Fried Movie

Once again, I saw it with the old man. And once again, that tells you all you need to know about him. Tits, foul language, fart jokes, racism, sexism, irreverance galore . . . and half the jokes were still over his head. Being about 9 or 10 years old, I'm guessing a full 75-80% were over mine. But, you know, you don't have to be old or sophisticated to laugh at a pie thrown at a pair of naked DDs. Or a microphone that drinks from the talk show host's water glass. Or an Asian karate expert who dresses like Bruce Lee, talks like Elmer Fudd, and looks like . . . well, he doesn't look like Bruce Lee, that's for sure. Not to mention "Big Jim Slade," viagra before there was such a thing; Cleopatra Schwartz; and the exploitation flicks of Samuel L. Bronkowitz.

If you've seen the movie, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't, well you know what I'm gonna say: See It!

And you'll also know what I thought of it when I saw it: Loved it. At 9 or 10 I was already starting to develop a slightly absurd sense of humor, I loved the general sense of anarchy in a rambling set of sketch pieces, and, what can I say: I loved tits, naked ones preferably. Boys, men, infants, doesn't really matter, does it? Have a penis? Breasts good.

What was the "Catholic High School Girls In Trouble" sketch making fun of exactly? Wasn't sure at the time, but I knew it was funny, and I knew it was a good thing.

Anyhow, the flick basically represented the first appearences of two separate franchises that would go on to dominate late 70s and 80s comedy movies: director John Landis, and the writing-production team of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker. Animal House, Airplane!, Trading Places, The Blues Brothers, The Naked Gun, Coming To America, the list goes on-and-on. As far as I know, these two disparate entities never again worked together, but here they were, starting out as one.

The genesis of both comedy forms is seen in KFM, albeit in a rawer, not-so-slick form. The absurd non-sequiturs & deadpan delivery of the Airplane-Top Secret-Naked Gun school is are all over KFM: the first part of the "Big Jim Slade" skit, the repeated Samuel L. Bronkowitz gag, the fake news stories delivering shocking/terrifying facts in matter-of-fact, "film at eleven" voices. And the wild, rebelliousness and irreverence that marked the early (and best) Landis films is all over KFM, although the refreshing lack of cynicism is counterbalanced by a scattershot approach that makes Mel Brooks or John Waters look risk-averse: "Catholic High School Girls In Trouble," the second part of "Big Jim Slade," and most notably, "A Fistful of Yen," which combines Landis' anything goes mania with the ZAZ boys' absurdism, the latter best exemplified in the dialogue.

I'm speaking here, of course, of the tour de force, the piece de resistance, the Poo-poo platter of KFM, a half-hour long, staggeringly funny parody of Enter The Dragon, "A Fistful Of Yen." Any attempt to describe the lunacy and brilliance of that sketch would be doomed from the start. Perhaps the best bet is just to briefly quote a nugget of dialogue as the evil Dr. Klahn allows our hero, karate expert Loo, to tour his underground prison, filled with the forlorn Asian men who will of course fight and kill everything that moves in the final reel:
Loo: And who are they?
Dr. Klahn: Refuse, found in waterfront bars.
Loo: Shanghaied?
Dr. Klahn: Just lost drunken men who don't know where they are and no longer care.
Prisoner #1: Where are we?
Prisoner #2: I don't care!
Loo: And these?
Dr. Klahn: These are lost drunken men who don't know where they are, but do care! And these are men who know where they are and care, but don't drink.
Prisoner #3: I don't know who I am?
Prisoner #4: And I don't drink!
Dr. Klahn: Guards! (move prisoners) Do you care?
Prisoner #5: No.
Dr. Klahn: Put this man in cell #1, and give him a drink.
Guard: What do you drink?
Prisoner #5: I don't care.
If that brand of unalloyed stupidity appeals to you at all (and I know it does to me, so don't knock it), then you must stop reading right now and rent the damn movie, sit and watch it, then return and start reading from this point after you're done. Look, I'll even mark the spot for you -- Spot.

(I see you still reading! You in the blue shirt, go rent it!)

As a final point before moving on to the extensive cast, "Fistful of Yen," despite it's ostensibly Chinese characters, features almost all Korean actors, including Evan C. Kim as Loo, and Bong Soo Han as Dr. Klahn (more on him later). And why should you give a shit about this?

Well, as some of you may know, Mrs. Mike is a Korean lady, born & bred, so I'm just trying to make you feel guilty for saying to yourself, "who gives a shit what Asian country the bastards come from?"

Feeling guilty? Good.

Actually, there's a story here. The last time I watched this, about 5 or 6 years ago I'd guess, Mrs. Mike proved that wet-blanketdom and a lack of appreciation for the comedic genius of naked boobs, incredibly stupid dialogue, and Asian characters with speech impediments is universal (she doesn't like Airplane! either and I dare not risk ruining the sublimity of Animal House in any way by subjecting it to her scowling glare). Nonetheless, while watching KFM, in between saying, "That's stupid," and asking in mock curiosity, "So do you like her body?" she noticed that when Dr. Klahn addresses his "troops," he's speaking Korean. And saying, in Korean, something to the effect of, "I'm sorry to the Korean people for saying such stupid lines in such a ridiculous movie."

And no, I'm not making this up. Then finally, when he begins barking out instructions, he says not only "moo-shoo pork," which I'd previously noticed, but also "kimchi," "jja jjang-myun," and other Korean delicacies that I've come to know and love as the years have passed. As if KFM could gain added silly appeal all these years later, I assure you it can! Just marry a Korean woman, and watch the latter-day glories appear. Ok, enough of our journey to the East, and enough about my wife before she reads this and tries to kill me in my sleep. On to . . .

The Cast is so enormous, I have no hope of covering everyone. But we'll look at as many as we can. We have Robert Starr, the first of a bunch of actors I've never heard of, but who nonethless qualifies for discussion. In KFM, Starr played "Rex Kramer," which any fan of the ZAZ franchise knows was the name of Robert Stack's bad-ass pilot in Airplane! But we're just getting started!

Starr also appeared in Airplane! as "Religious Zealot #5," or one of the guys that gets his ass kicked by Stack when he enters the airport. So, in a way, we could say that three years after he made KFM, Starr kicked his own ass.

(Or maybe we'd rather not. You decide.)

Starr also appeared in "Eight Is Enough," "CHiPs," and "WKRP In Cincinnati" within a three or four year stretch, meaning he was just about a FSMOMYOTD all-star back in the day. Congratulations, Mr. Starr. You earn the honor of knowing that I and my small core of readers are thinking, "wow, how could I not know who the hell this guy is?"

Next we have Tara Strohmeier. Along with the Catholic High School Girls In Trouble, Ms. Strohmeier is one of the . . . uh, characters that I clearly remember from the first time I saw this movie. Not ringing a bell? A guy & a girl on the couch? Watching the news? The newscasters watching her? Yeaaahhh, that's right.

Along with Lisa Baur, the lass who played Shelley Dubinsky, Otter's back-seat would-be- conquest in Animal House, Ms. Strohmeier was among the earliest influences on my life-long love of boobies. I'm sure we can all relate (at least the XY portion of the audience, which is probably about 99.4% of the audience here). Among the other fine films Ms. Strohmeier's appeared in, by the way? I won't mention them all, but they include Candy Stripe Nurses, The Student Teachers, and Cover Girl Models.

The lesson? Build your career on your tits, you probably don't have to write your Oscar acceptance speech (that comes to actresses who first build a career on "acting," then show their tits! See: Berry, Halle; Swank, Hillary; Paltrow, Gwyneth; Hunter, Holly. Yeeeaaahhh, Hollywood!)

Ok, and returning to the non-softcore portion of our programming, we come to The "Damn, what were they doing in this flick?" Gang: George Lazenby, the "other" James Bond; Tony Dow, Wally on "Leave It To Beaver," playing . . . uhhh, "Wally" in KFM (gotta suck being an adult after starting as a child star); Donald Sutherland, still one year away from a brief, but memorable, performance as a weed-toking English Renaissance Lit Professor and co-ed-banger in Landis's next movie, Animal House; Henry Gibson, former member of the cast of Laugh-In, an arguable predecessor to KFM's style of comedy, and still three years away from appearing as a Nazi in Landis's follow-up to Animal House, The Blues Brothers; and Leslie Nielson, uncredited for his voice work in KFM, and also three years away from his classic appearence in Airplane! and later the start of his second career in ZAZ films as Lt. Frank Drebin.

Who else? Let's see . . . Mike Hanks, Tom's older brother, and Rick Baker, Ginger's American cousin.

Ok, neither of those is true, I was just making sure you were still paying attention. Actually, I have no idea who this Hanks guy is. And I don't care (and someone get me a drink). But Baker? Ohhhhh, I'll talk about him. According to his IMDB page, in "1981 he was the very first recipient of the Oscar for Best Make-Up for 'An American Werewolf in London' when the category was first introduced."

(Check out that first . . . first construction, by the way. My own Friday . . . of the day ain't that bad, huh? HUH?!)

Anyway, American Werewolf In London? That'd be the flick Landis directed after The Blues Brothers. And you think that means all my rambling here is starting to come together? Ha! As Vezzini said to Wesley in the Princess Bride, Wait til I get going. Baker also appeared in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video as "the hobbling zombie whose arm falls off."

And who directed that Video? John Landis. Landis also directed Trading Places, Coming To America and a few other notable comedy classics. But he directed Oscar and Beverly Hills Cop III, as well, so let's not put him in the Hall of Fame just yet.

Back to Baker, there's more. In addition to his long list of make-up work, he has some great roles as costumed creatures including Kong himself in the crappy 1976 remake of King Kong, and one of the cantina aliens in the original Star Wars. Niiiiice. He couldn't be cooler if he was Ginger Baker's American cousin.

And Mike Hanks? Let's just stay positive here.

The previously-mentioned Bong Soo Han is also a hapkido karate master who trained the FSMOMYOTD's oft-mentioned, but never featured, Tom Laughlin, better known as Billy Jack. Hell, Bong Soo Han choreographed the karate fights in Billy Jack. As I've said, it all comes together. Everything is connected. Ohhhhhmmmmmmmmmm (you see? It's an eastern thing today).

Lenka Novak, one of the Catholic High School Girls In Trouble was "Suzy" in 1978's Vampire Hookers. That's all, nothing more about her. What else could I possibly say?

Uschi Digard, the "Woman in Shower" in the Catholic High School Girls In Trouble segment has, ummmm, ahhhh, let's just say . . . the resume you'd expect the "Woman in Shower" to have. Looks like "Woman in Shower" was one of her legitimate acting roles. According to her IMDB page, she's gone by sixty different names in her 35+ year career. My favorite of the 60? "Ronnie Roundheels."

Either that or "Debbie."

Forrest J. Ackerman, another fellow I've never heard of, started "acting" in 1944 when he was already 30, and had a few uncredited roles. Then, at 50, he began a career acting in B-horror movies, a career that he seems to have continued to this day, with a detour into shlocky, straight-to-video T&A/horror flicks. If anyone's a fan of that genre, I'd love to know what the deal is with this guy.

And finishing it off, there's Felix Silla, who played the "Crazed Clown" (If I recall, the line was, "Show us your nuts"). He seems to have been a dwarf (making him the second dwarf to appear in the FSMOMYOTD -- we're all about non-discrimination here). Why do I say he seems to have been a dwarf? Well, in addition to playing one of those fucking Ewoks in Return of the Jedi (and a Dink in Spaceballs), he's also played characters named "Little Galgy," "Emperor Penguin," "Little Critter," "Shorty," and "Midget." So I'm pretty safe on my assumption.

And the second lesson today? Build your career on being a dwarf, you'll always play dwarves. And no, there's no "but" to this lesson. There are no exceptions I'm aware of. It's gotta suck to be a dwarf, huh?

But not as much as being an adult after being a child star. At least dwarves get to play different dwarves, not the same one over and over again. Tony Dow may not be 3'7", but he's now about 60 years old, and he's still Wally from Leave it to freakin Beaver.

That's suckiness of extraordinary magnitude.

20 Comments:

Blogger DED said...

This isn't the movie with "Brown 12" in it, is it?

And how did you know I was wearing a blue shirt? Damn internets! Probably putting mirrors in dem dar tubes.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

This isn't the movie with "Brown 12" in it, is it?

Not ringing a bell, but there were a lot of sketches. If you don't remember "Fistful of Yen," then you didn't see it. Of that I'm confident.

11:31 AM  
Blogger DED said...

My memory is a bit fuzzy. The title is certainly familiar. I thought that I saw this movie on regular TV, which obviously wouldn't have the DD stuff. So if "Brown 12" wasn't in this movie then I guess I saw it in another movie that was similar. Now, I'm gonna have to track this down or hope that Comedy Central puts in their Secret Stash.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Toast said...

I, of course, have not seen this.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Marked Hoosier said...

I haven't seen this movie in forever! It is soo funny!

Alright, gotta go find it to rewatch it... I can't remember much to comment.

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Applesaucer said...

Hilarious post. I almost fell out of my chair reading the dialogue.

Applesaucer

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I, of course, have not seen this.

I could have predicted this from the start. I hope I was wrong, but deep down I knew I wasn't.

You should see it, though. As Marked & Applesaucer note, it's a really funny movie.

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Donna said...

Hey, two FSMOMYOTD movies in a row that I've actually seen! :-) It was ages ago. All I recall, in fact, was the Woman in Shower bit, and I have to agree--it was a heady moment in acting. (I also misremember the woman's name: I thought it was Ursula.)

3:18 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Hey Donna, check out her 60 listed names. Maybe one of them is Ursula.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

Christ, what a great movie.

I can still remember the first time I saw this. It had me from the opening scene -- where the newscaster announces, "This just in: The popcorn you're eating has been pissed on. More at eleven." That was it. Done.

"Amazon Women on the Moon" was an effort to replicate this, and as my preteen self remembers, almost as good.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

OM, I was wondering where you were! (Home for the holidays?)

If any of the regulars were gonna be fans of KFM I had you pegged at #1. Glad to see I wasn't wrong.

Amazon Women, Groove Tube, and a few others are in the same league, but all pale imitations from what I thought. They were the Fridays to KFM's SNL.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Donna said...

Mike, yep, if you check Woman in Shower's filmography, she is credited as Ursula Digard in KFM.

Whoa. Scary that I remembered that.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Mort said...

Ho ho ho!

11:55 PM  
Anonymous Toast said...

Merry X-Mas, Mike!

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Thanks. And same to you & Mrs. Toast.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Weaseldog said...

One of the greatest movies ever made.

It made my teen years worth living.

1:43 AM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

J E T S Jets Jets Jets!

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

It made my teen years worth living.

Wow, it had a pretty strong effect, I guess.

J E T S Jets Jets Jets!

What scene was that from? (Nice win.)

10:19 AM  
Blogger Melysa said...

Did you overlook the air freshener commercial parody in KFM?

Three women come into a house for some type of gathering in perfect late 70s technicolor. Each woman comments on the supposed odors that the house is holding.

Doorbell rings.
Woman #1: "Hmmm...fish for dinner?"
Doorbell rings.
Woman #2: "Al still smoking those cigars?"
Doorbell rings.
Woman #3: "Christ, did a cow shit in here?"

Hilarious on all counts.
Merry Kwannzakuh to you all.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Did you overlook . . .

I guess techically I did. But with a flick with a gag-a-minute, literally, you're gonna leave some out.

That's where all you guys come in: remind of your favorites; there are more than enough.

2:52 PM  

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