We all remember Tormented and the legendary sketch where a bunch of musician figurines got thrown out of the lighthouse, in homage (or not) to poor departed Vi.
I’d like to take a moment to defend one of Our Heroes’ victims: Manhattan Transfer. Their vocal chops were solid. They had two big, catchy hits in my youth which I still enjoy (“Boy From New York City” and “Twilight Zone”). They recorded with the great Jon Hendricks, which means they knew and understood their original genre’s heritage, regardless of how far they wandered from it in search of pop hits. Most importantly, they covered Brazilian great Djavan’s “Sina” in the form of an Americanized version: “Soul Food To Go.” That’s how I discovered the earlier version by the songwriter himself, and covers by Caetano Veloso and others. Which is how I backed into discovering stuff like Tropicalia and started collecting it when I could.
Who would you save from a funny death on the rocks?
You don’t have to limit yourself to a musical act. You can write a mini-redemption arc for any movie, show, standup comic, etc. you like… so long as they were canonically disliked on the show.
I went through my “No electronics!” Jazz phase but it didn’t last long. MT also guested on “Where The Moon Goes” from WR’s Procession . That’s how I started getting into Wayne Shorter and Blue Note. Can’t live in denial about your antecedents forever, right?
I saw them in concert in roughly 1982. After years of gritting my teeth through a number of Beach Boys performances on TV (I was not much of a concert-goer), I was surprised to learn people could actually harmonize while singing live. They were excellent.
But to address your actual question, two Kennys are worth saving as well – Loggins and Rogers.
For me, it’s Roger Corman. Not only did they call him out during episodes with his movies, but multiple times in The Amazing Colossal Movie Guide, they write about how much they dislike him. Sure, most of his movies have some problems: cheap sets or effects, one or two bad actors. But all of them have a charm to them. So many MST3K or Rifftrax or Mads B-movies feel so lifeless and anonymous. That’s never the case with Corman’s work.
It Conquered The World, The Undead, and Viking Women and the Sea Serpent have mostly bad special effects and costumes, and are intensely stagey. But almost all the actors do a great job and the concepts for each are fun. Viking Women, Swamp Diamonds, and Gunslinger are all pretty feminist for the time. And almost all his movies have fun character dynamics with multiple characters getting their own believable arcs - both of which are harder than they look to get right.
There’s some Corman directed or produced that are total misses (ahem Teenage Cave Man, High School Big Shot), but most of his movies that got riffed I’ll defend as maybe not great, but fairly good films.
Also, they make fun of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” during Zombie Nightmare’s opening credits, which is one of the greatest songs of all time. Lemmy rules.
The only Corman film which pisses me off to the point that I have a hard time getting through it is Night Of The Blood Beast . It just feels very limp, careless, and disjointed. (Also sleazy, without intending to be.) Even by the usual standards of bad movies. Some of the others you mention are very enjoyable to me, though: despite being ridiculous in many ways.
[ETA - I even feel like Teenage Caveman had some good ideas. But Vaughn looked even older than he was in 1958: not at all like an actual teen. Also, it ran way too long. As a Night Gallery or something similar it could’ve worked better.]
Roger Corman always had a good name around our house when I was growing up. Bucket of Blood, Little Shop of Horrors, his Poe cycle (especially the comic The Raven), Death Race 2000, Hollywood Boulevard.
As a director, he was humble: He listened to what audiences wanted. As a producer, he was cheap: He’d often give the audience the bare minimum. As a director, I think his timidity kept him from making great films, though he made many very good ones. As a producer, his eye for a deal is what essentially created the foreign movie market in the USA: He handled films by Bergman, Fellini, Herzog and Truffaut.
As a purveyor of exploitation, you could say he made a bad movies—but something about his bad movies made them profitable. When a bunch of suits bought his consistently profitable New World studio in 1983, they made bad movies that flopped. Corman exaggerates only a little when he says “He made a 100 movies and never lost a dime.”
I don’t think Night of the Blood Beast had much involvement from Roger Corman (maybe more from Gene). I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that (director) Bernard Kowalski’s forté was not long form video. He didn’t direct a lot of features, and they weren’t his best work. He did a little better in TV movies. Where he shined was the hour long TV episode format: “Columbo”, “Baretta”, “The Untouchables”, “Magnum P.I.”…“Master Ninja”…No, no, I’m just kidding about that last one.
No, for sure, that’s not a great one either. I’ve probably watched it less than Teenage Cave Man, and there’s no one in it on Robert Vaughn’s level.
Well, but I’d defend Kowalski’s work on Attack of the Giant Leeches. The trash bags in the pool as villains are embarrassingly bad, and there’s plot and pacing problems. But the acting is top notch from a lot of repeat MST (mostly Corman) actors - I’m always happy to see Bruno VeSota. And it’s rare to find a movie that just feels so swampy and sweaty. Whether in Dave’s grocery store or out in the swamp itself, it’s just humid and hot and dirty - movies filmed in the actual swamp don’t seem as murky. The movie’s sense of place is honestly one of the best I’ve seen in any movie, MST or not.
Love you, Robot Pals. But I did scan Wiki, plus a few interviews and profiles. I don’t find any evidence that the late Shari Lewis named names. (As recounted in the great Joel Era “McCarthy Hearings” sketch.) I think maybe you were a bit dismissive of her stuff for being a bit too childish or girly or whatever for you.
Also, she was born Phyllis Naomi Hurwitz and she was East Coast to the core, which makes her part of my tribe and so even cooler.
A YouTube commenter said about the video below: “Damn! She has the bars, the flow, the moves and the looks!” Which is absolutely correct. Yes, a YouTube commenter was correct about something. Run out right now and buy yourself a Powerball ticket.
Also, I tried that finger-bending trick and it’s tougher than it looks. I got it down eventually, though.
One of her last performances, also on YouTube, is a ditty called “Hello, Goodbye” which has a pleasing “Clowns In The Sky” quality which even the biggest Midwest sourpuss might like, just a little…? Maybe…?
I am so lucky that I had a younger sister at the time Lambchop’s Play-a-Long was airing, what an amazing kids’ variety show. Skits, songs, jokes, crafts, we always came away from that show with something to do. They don’t make 'em like that anymore.
Or maybe they do, I dunno, I don’t have any reason to watch kids’ shows anymore so I might be missing something.