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2001 Maniacs (2005)
Fun remake...perfect for fans of blood, guts, and boobs!
Tim Sullivan's remake of TWO THOUSAND MANIACS, to me, was nothing but fun from start to finish. From the first kill to the last, this film rocked. Like EVIL DEAD 2, this is more of a comedy/horror, which Sullivan himself describes as "Splatstick"...sure it's over-the-top, but it's supposed to be, and that is what makes it so much fun.
Robert Englund and Lin Shaye are a blast as "Mayor Buckman" and "Granny Boone", but I must say there were some excellent casting choices for everyone involved...the group of gorgeous girls who play both hapless victims and charming? Southern Belles...Giuseppe Andrews, who lends his unique style to the film...Dylan Edrington who plays the perfect smart-ass...and the actors portraying incidental characters like "Hucklebilly" and "Lester" really help add to the film's humor and creepiness.
While some are complaining about the few off color jokes the film offers, and these might get some people's panties in a bunch, this is not a racist picture. Personally, I found the jokes to be pretty funny (Malcom, a black character, is told to "wait just a cotton picking' minute" at one point in the film). Others are criticizing the acting...I thought the acting was fine. Not Shakespearian by any means, but remember, this isn't GHANDI and it won't be nominated for an Academy Award (and exactly how many of your favorite films have been?)
Bottom line is enjoy this for what it is, a throwback to good old-fashioned blood n guts, T & A horror.
The Three Stooges Scrapbook (1963)
WARNING-CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS
There were originally 3 versions of this film. Version #1 was a half-hour television pilot that never aired. Versions 2 and 3 were one-reel cutdowns of this television pilot that were distributed to theaters in 1963. I am basing my comments on the version of "The 3 Stooges Scrapbook" that I own a color print of, which is one of the 14 minute (not 8 minutes as this database claims) one-reel theatrical cutdowns. The cartoon subject from the pilot ("The Spain Mutiny") was used for the 2nd theatrical cutdown, which was also released as "The Three Stooges Scrapbook". The complete half-hour pilot is considered lost.
The particular version that I am commenting on begins with Stooges rehearsing for their television program when they are evicted from their apartment for violating the "No Cooking" policy. They seek refuge at the home of a professor who believes his plans for a new invention are in danger of being stolen by men from space. The Stooges agree to spend the night there so they can rehearse for their program, but it turns out to be a sleepless night when the spaceman arrives.
I highly recommend the film, as it is a lot of fun. Some fans may not enjoy the fact that the slapstick brand of humor the Stooges are famous for has been toned down some in favor of family oriented humor, but there are still some stooge moments that shine. Also, another complaint that some may have about this film is that there is a laugh-track, but it is not as obtrusive as one would think. It actually works well with the boys (as does the brilliant color). For me, the music track was more annoying, as was the fact that the film does have a bit of an abrupt ending, but it still comes to a logical conclusion.
NOTE: If this storyline for "The Three Stooges Scrapbook" sounds familiar, it's because it was used, along with approx. 90% of the entire television pilot, for the beginning portion of the feature "The Three Stooges In Orbit" (sans laugh-track and color). Some scenes were re-filmed, but by using the footage from "Scrapbook", the producers were able to save some money.
Glove Slingers (1939)
Well made and entertaining start for an obscure comedy series
As a fan of Columbia's short-subjects, I find this to be one of the very best the studio offered. Jules White's direction is superb, allowing room for character development and entertaining story-telling. The short plays out like a mini-feature, and White handles the fairly straight plot without relying on the large doses of the slapstick humor Columbia is most notable for. Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of gags to satisfy fans, but the change of pace is a welcomed one.
This two-reel comedy gave birth to a series of shorts that would become known as "The Glove Slingers". In future entries, the storyline would move to a college setting, which provided more fun, laughs, and boxing matches for another couple of years.
French Fried Frolic (1949)
Fast-paced and funny Columbia comedy short
Columbia paired screen comics Tim Ryan and Wally Brown for this entertaining two-reel comedy, and it pays off. Brown and Ryan make a splendid team in this fast-paced farce. Working from a script by Felix Adler, the duo make the most from some of the obvious situations, and yes, some of it may be predictable, but the film is still one of the better outputs from Columbia (this being at a time when many of the earlier comedies were being remade and remade, and stock footage was starting to figure it's way into the pictures). Stooge fans will enjoy the knockabout slapstick as well as the always delightful Christine McIntyre and character actor Emil Sitka who steals the show, as he tends to do quite often in these little two-reelers.
As I viewed the film, I observed that the short has a similar feel to the RKO comedy shorts Brown was currently starring in with Scottish born comedian Jack Kirkwood. The thing I noticed was that Tim Ryan and Jack Kirkwood slightly resembled each other, tall men with thin mustaches. Could it be that after Brown's initial short with Kirkwood ("Heart Troubles"), that maybe Columbia liked Wally enough to lure him away from RKO, and they gave him a one picture deal? I wish I knew the story behind this. After the completion of "French Fried Frolic", Brown returned to RKO to continue to appear in a handful of Kirkwood and Brown two-reelers for the next couple of years. I guess he didn't like it at Columbia.
Just for the record, Brown had co-starred with Alan Carney as RKO's answer to Abbott and Costello in a series of all-but-forgotten B-pictures a few years earlier. Some more notable than others are "Genius At Work" and "Zombies On Broadway" (both co-star Bela Lugosi).
One Shivery Night (1950)
One of Hugh Herbert's finest Columbia two-reel comedies...may contain a spoiler or two!!
This is by far one of the funniest Columbia comedy shorts I've ever seen. The teaming of Hugh Herbert and Dudley Dickerson couldn't have been better. Dickerson (an extremely talented black performer who is probably best remembered as the bewildered chef in the 3 Stooges short "A Plumbing We Will Go") rarely got leading roles, and his performance in this lively scare comedy is tops. Dudley practically steals every scene, and the results are both funny and rewarding.
In this fast-paced short, Hugh and Dudley are hired to demolish a creepy mansion rumored to have a fortune hidden somewhere inside. When the two arrive at the mansion, they are met by two fortune hunters who have been tearing the place apart seeking riches. They mistake Hugh and Dudley as claim jumpers and try to scare the duo away. There are some pretty fun moments, and fans of the 3 Stooges short "The Hot Scots" will recognize one of the masks used during some of the scare tactics.
This is not the first time that Herbert and Dickerson were teamed in comedy shorts. They appeared in 3 other two-reelers with a "haunted house" theme. Fans of this type of comedy will also want to seek out "Nervous Shakedown", "Tall, Dark and Gruesome", and "Get Along Little Zombie". These scare comedies were a very refreshing step away from Herbert's typical two-reel comedies for Columbia, which usually were marital farces pitting Hugh against a misunderstanding wife with plots similar to Leon Errol's series of shorts over at RKO.
I own a 16mm print of "One Shivery Night", and it never fails to bring laughs when shown to an audience. I highly recommend it to fans of two-reel comedies.
Keystone Hotel (1935)
One of the greatest comedy shorts of the sound era
My specialty in the comedy shorts field are those produced by Columbia Pictures, however, "Keystone Hotel" (Warner Brothers-Vitaphone Corporation), is perhaps my all-time favorite of any comedy short from any studio. What more could one ask for in a two-reeler paying homage to the early slapstick comedy of Mack Sennett? There's plenty of everything Sennett made famous...The Keystone Kops, car chases, bathing beauties (well sort of...there is a beauty contest), pie fights, and a dream cast of former Mack Sennett players still doing what they did best some 10-20 years earlier. I highly recommend this film. It's funny, fast-paced, and a real delight to see old timers like Ben Turpin and Ford Sterling at the top of their game.
It's too bad that a series wasn't developed from this terrific crowd pleaser.
The Champs Step Out (1951)
Fair, but has it's moments
When former prizefighters Max Baer and Max "Slapsie" Rosenbloom were teamed up to star in two-reel comedy shorts, it became quite obvious Columbia Pictures was desperately seeking out a new comedy team. The ex-pugilists starred in 4 short-subjects between 1950 and 1952, and today, they remain obscure little films which were probably forgotten shortly after their initial release. I've personally collected Columbia two-reelers for the past 15 years, and "The Champs Step Out" (the correct title of the film) is the only title in the series I have been able to dig up. As a light scare comedy, the film is OK. The plot is decent, and there are some pretty funny gags.
Character actor Emil Sitka co-stars and steals the show as an eccentric antiques collector who hires a couple of Private Eyes (Baer and Rosenbloom) to guard his precious relics from a gang of crooks. The problem with this film is that it is a Columbia comedy short, with a script written for the two starring comedians who were not trained comedians to begin with. They are ex-prizefighters with little comedic skill, and on top of that, they are in desperate need of acting lessons. During one scene, Rosenbloom screams out something that barely passes as part of the English language. For the fast-paced comedy and dialog, the film would have better suited The 3 Stooges or other Columbia contract comedians.
"The Champs Step Out" is not a terrible little film. It still has it's moments even if the leads can't act their way out of a wet paper bag. However, punching their way out of a wet paper bag is another story...Max Baer throws one of the best on-screen punches I've ever seen!
Kids Will Be Kids (1954)
Golly fellas, this is crap!
I counted six mistakes while watching this movie. Those 6 mistakes are the lead "actors" producer/director Jules White hired to appear in the film. The year was 1954, and White's idea was to create a new series of theatrical short-subjects inspired by the popular "Our Gang" series that had just been issued to the television market. The televised "Our Gang" shorts were retitled "The Little Rascals", so Jules White christened this gang "The Mischief Makers" (not to be confused with the 1960's television revival of the early "Our Gang" silents).
This 16 minute film seemed to last forever, and is easily the worst two-reel comedy short Columbia Pictures produced. All of the laughs are unintentional, and the child actors chosen for the roles lack the charm and wit of the "Our Gang" kids. To make matters worse, this group of award-winning thespians can barely deliver their lines, and morbidly, the only scene I found funny involved one of the "Mischief Makers" being locked inside an abandoned refrigerator (don't worry...the kid is rescued). If you feel I've left a big spoiler here, forget it. You probably won't be able to dig up a copy of this film anyways (and if you do, I suggest you promptly bury it again).
How veteran character actor Emil Sitka got through this mess of a film, I'll never know.
Sappy Birthday (1942)
Standard, but still fun, Columbia two-reeler
Columbia's Andy Clyde series ran from 1934 to 1956 and followed behind The 3 Stooges as the longest running comedy series for the studio. This little outing was advertised as "A Columbia Domestic Comedy" and continued a series of stories that, similar to Edgar Kennedy's RKO series, had Clyde pitted against his brother-in-law. Early in the series, the part of Andy's brother-in-law was played by Shemp Howard. Shemp brought a lot of laughs to films like "Home On The Rage" and "Boobs In The Woods", and he would have been right at home repeating the role in this film. Instead, Matt McHugh portrays Andy's brother-in-law, who ruins Andy's birthday from the moment the day begins. Eventually, Andy reluctantly agrees to spend the day fishing but they can't even get the car out of the driveway. While there are still plenty of laughs and some pretty good gags, one can only wish Shemp had stepped back into the role of the in-law. Shemp was a terrific ad-libber and many times you can see his co-stars trying to hold back their laughs (Just take a look at The Glove Slingers comedy "Pleased To Mitt You" for proof).
A few years later, Dick Wessel would join the series as Clyde's brother-in-law fora handful of entertaining shorts. As with all of Columbia's non-3 Stooges shorts, this title is pretty obscure, but worth a look if a copy can be found.
Farmer for a Day (1943)
Funny Andy Clyde short...but where's Shemp??
If you can get a chance to see this obscure comedy short from Columbia Pictures, and are a fan of slapstick comedy, you should be pleased. However if you are looking to view this film for "3rd Stooge" Shemp Howard's performance, I have some bad news for you...he's not in the film. Although many sources, including this website, list Shemp as "Andy Clyde's Brother-In-Law", he is just nowhere to be seen. A disappointment indeed, as Shemp's performance and ad-libbing livens up some of the other Andy Clyde two-reelers he's co-starred in ("Boobs In The Woods" and "Money Squawks" to name a few). Still, there are some pretty clever sight gags and a fine supporting cast, including a fun role from Vernon Dent as Clyde's neighbor. If you are a fan of Columbia's brand of slapstick comedy, try to track down a copy of this little film.