Willard

Tear Into the Original Willard – Out On Scream Factory Blu-ray & DVD!

I’ll be totally honest with you dear reader, I’d never seen the 1971 horror film Willard until I received my review copy of this Blu-ray. Sure, I knew it was about rats. Yes, I guessed the rats committed some violent acts. That was it.
Willard - Bruce Davison

After watching, I admit it’s not the movie I thought it was. I imagined it being a dark, gruesome horror film from top to bottom. It isn’t. It’s an oddball drama about a socially awkward man named Willard who doesn’t have many friends. His home has become infested with rats, but instead of obeying his mother’s orders to kill them, he saves them. In fact, he shares some of his birthday cake with them! Then, the rats become his friends. He gives them names, talks to them and even brings them to work. Eventually, they become the only friends he can trust. This friendship Willard has with his rats doesn’t extend to some of the other people in his life, namely Willard’s cavalier boss, Mr. Martin. Like me, you can assume how the film ends, but it is truly spectacular and worth the lean 95 minute runtime.

The title character of Willard is played by Bruce Davison, an actor who’s been in everything – no really, he has 244 acting roles listed on his IMDB. Davison solidly walks a tight rope between Willard’s macabre loneliness and momentary charm. Sondra Locke, Elsa Lancaster and Ernest Borgnine fill in the other major roles and each performance is planted firmly within their reality. Even with the camp factor, the all star ensemble plays it up just enough to keep the movie grounded, but quirky.

Equally as interesting as the film is its history, which you can learn all about thanks to the wonderful release Scream Factory has put together. The audio commentary with star Davison is full of facts and anecdotes, and he shares a real passion for this movie. Davison explains that this release is a big milestone in Willard because it was a box office hit when it came out, yet due to legal issues, fans had a hard time finding many home releases and certainly nothing in HD. Until now!

I don’t know how the transfer compares to any of the limited previous releases, but knowing Scream Factory I would imagine they found the best version available. For my money, it looked and sounded great. And Scream Factory has also released Ben, the sequel. If rats are your thing, then they’ve got you covered.
Willard - Ben Poster

Friends, Patrick was kind enough to let me chime in on his article. When he submitted his latest review I kind of freaked out. As I have been wanting a proper release of Willard for quite some time. In fact the only way I have been able to watch this cult classic besides the occasional television airing is thanks to my VHS copy. If you will pardon the pun I would point out that its certainly become rather ratty.
Willard

I would add that the equally awesome 1972 sequel Ben also provided the late Michael Jackson an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song! – Vic

[Via] Oscars

Home Alone…With Michael Jackson?!

What do you get when you cross the plot of a then-popular movie, Michael Jackson, and In Living Color? You get a movie parody, of course!

And not just a movie parody, but the sequel we all would have wanted!

A Little Backstory…

The thought of writing about this crossed my mind several weeks ago, when I was watching another In Living Color sketch featuring Jim Carrey as Don Rickles (which I wrote about for my blog), but I had another Great Idea to write about first.

Why Not a Movie Parody Special?

In Living Color did a great (but hard to find) episode of their music videos, they had a live Super Bowl show, and contributed many hilarious parodies, all on top of their regular lineup of characters. Why they didn’t include a movie parody compilation among their accomplishments is beyond me, but what they interspersed throughout the series is indeed worthy of notice.

I remember seeing this one parody of Home Alone involving Michael Jackson trying to “play” with Macaulay Culkin. The sketch came up at a time when allegations came to light that he was having “sleepovers” with young kids, including Macaulay Culkin. Now, we always knew MJ was a bit odd, but there was a time before his infamous trial that we were hearing about this. That time was 1991, and Home Alone Again was the sketch that made light of the allegations.

“Macaulay, Can I Come In and Play?”

Macaulay Culkin (as played by Jonathan Taylor Thomas) finds himself home alone, but he’s got someone who wants to change that…

Michael Jackson!

Oh noes! A Michael Jackson impersonator is trying to woo Randy from Home Improvement!

And he is persistent in his attempts – the parents aren’t home, he’s got naked pictures of his sister (I think this was a reference to Latoya Jackson), they can play with his monkey, and some rather risque as well as sly humor that In Living Color was famous for.

But Not Macaulay is also persistent in keeping MJ out – there’s a Webster reference, a hot door handle, and a blowtorch to the head.

As well as a reference to the Pepsi commercial. Because that happened a few years earlier, and In Living Color wasn’t around to make fun of it then.

Dated references, people. It’s funny!

“Come on, Macaulay!”

MJ finally succeeds in “coming in to play,” but decides that perhaps they can play at his house – there’s the Elephant Man, naps in the oxygen chamber…

“I wanna see you Moonwalk.”

Insert closeup of Not Macaulay doing the famous Kevin McCallister scream, and you’ve got yourself a movie parody!

And you can see for youself why topical newstories make great In Living Color parodies by clicking play!

Uploaded by sbzro

For some reason, Tommy Davidson declaring “I wanna see you Moonwalk!” is as funny now as it was in 1991.

WOOOOOOOO!

USA for Africa’s “We Are the World”

There comes a time, when we heed a certain call…

Not only a fine singer and performer, both with the Commodores and with his solo career, Lionel Richie will forever be remembered for his involvement with USA for Africa’s 1985 song “We Are the World,” which he co-wrote with Michael Jackson.

USA-Africa-shirts

Man, can I just say that in 1985 I was ALL about Africa? I mean, I had the white sweatshirt that Kenny Rogers and others are wearing in the video. I had a poster of the whole chorus of singers on my bedroom wall.
Poster
I had (still have) the 45 single. I FORGOT I had the 45 and eagerly purchased a second copy of it when I found it at the local Salvation Army.
World-45

Produced by Quincy Jones, the idea to record the song (and the entire album) stemmed from singer Harry Belafonte’s desire to record something that would benefit the nonprofit United Support of Artists for Africa, which focused its efforts on alleviating starvation in Africa. Kenny Rogers, who I previously talked about in regards to his work and friendship with Lionel, was also instrumental in bringing the project together; he helped to rally the efforts of other singers and also provided Jones and company the use of his Lion Share Recording Studio, although the main group recording of the seminal song would later take place at A&M Recording Studio in Los Angeles.

richie_rogers_USA

The single for “We Are the World” sold more than 20 million copies. You may be surprised to know that “We Are the World” actually came to fruition a year after the celebrity-heavy Band Aid song in the U.K. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” I never realized that, I thought it was the other way around. Although, perhaps “…Christmas” just gained more prominence here in the States because of the success of the multi-artist “…World” recording. Or maybe I just have a crap memory!

Years later, while watching MTV’s Half-Hour Comedy Hour, comedian Kevin Meaney did a hilarious reinterpretation, karaoke-style, of the song. He really nails his imitations of some of the singers. While the below clip is not from the MTV show (based on the curtains, I think it’s from an ’80s episode of The Tonight Show), it still captures the fun. His karaoke starts at the 2 minute mark.

Michael Jackson Doll from LJN

mj-doll-LJN

When I was a kid I really disliked commercials that showed kids playing in an impossible playroom that I could never replicate. This commercial for the Michael Jackson Doll from LJN falls into that category. First of all what kid has a light-up runway for their toy to dance around on and secondly what parent would let their kid’s playroom get this dangerously smokey. And if it is not real smoke (I hope), what kind of fog machine budget is an 8 year old entitled to each week?