Posted on October 20th, 2010 4 comments
This masterpiece of cardboard fun came from an era when board games were no longer relegated to the flat world, and rose up in glorious three dimensions. Games like Mousetrap, Operation and Hungry Hungry Hippos transformed the single-layer concepts into mechanical miracles of light, sound, and moving parts. And marbles. Which Witch? is an engineering marvel that must have taken the brains at Milton-Bradley many LSD-laden hours to conjure up.
It starts with a typical game board, covered in 60’s style cartoon graphics of the floors of four rooms (in what is apparently a haunted-type house infected with three witches). Next, cardboard walls rise to form the four rooms: The Broom Room, Spell Cell, Witchin’ Kitchen and Bat’s Ballroom. In the center is a chimney which (witch?) doubles as the means to the demise of snoopy little children who enter the abode. (If you pick the card that says, “Ghoulish Gerty Drops It Down The Chimney”, you have to drop the ruby red marble down the top of the roof;
the marble can go in any of four dimensions and wreak havoc on the ill-fated children). In the Bat’s Ballroom, the final room, sets a staircase. The first meddling kid to reach the top of the stairs and land on the “Charmed Circle” (without being turned into a mouse or knocked off his keister) wins the game!
Two young-girl pieces and two young-boy pieces (made of plastic and very 50’s Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys looking) try to make it through these danger-ridden rooms, desperately attempting to avoid the hidden traps and spells. The fear of being hit by a broom, pushed down the stairs, crippled on loose floorboards or plain old hit-in-the-head with a giant ruby marble doesn’t seem to thwart our intrepid explorers. They roll the die and move their spaces, pick a witch card and hope for the best.
I remember playing this game with my mother (something of a witch herself) when I was a young kid. Once, I spent almost the entire game as a mouse. That’s no fun, because you don’t get to move. Another time I got knocked over like eight times in a row. The worst part about this game was that since it was made of cardboard & plastic, it didn’t last. Putting the cardboard walls together meant twisting, bending, and ultimately tearing the parts. My original game died an illustrious wrecking-ball death in the 1970s; I was lucky enough to come across one cheap a few years ago to replace it. You can still find them on eBay for anywhere from $20 to $100, depending on condition (and the market). These are only going to get rarer and more expensive, so if you dig this sort of thing I’d recommend finding one soon!
Posted on February 22nd, 2010 1 comment
One of the craziest, funniest, raunchiest movies of all time, the first major motion picture ever to use the sketch comedy format made famous by Saturday Night Live and Second City TV, here’s this week’s Mod Movie Monday Feature
Starring Ken Shapiro, Chevy Chase, Richard Beltzer and ensemble.
In the 60s and early 70s modern ’sketch’ comedy was still new, and Channel One Theater in New York was one of the groups pioneering this off-beat sort of comedy. From that was born The Groove Tube, written and directed by Ken Shapiro of Channel One.
As always I won’t give anything away, but I can give you a basic idea of what you’re going to see. The viewer is to believe they are not watching a movie, but TV in a world where nudity, adult themes, far-out trips, cursing and unbound comedy is uncensored. After the opening credits (which spoofs 2001-A Space Odyssey and features music by Curtis Mayfield) the viewer seems to be watching a TV that someone else is controlling…changing stations, watching commercials, etc. (much like Robot Chicken does today (except with real people instead of toys)). (wow, that’s a (lot of) brackets!) Each sketch is a full commercial or part of a TV show, and include such greats as Koko the Clown, Brown-25 from The Uranus Corporation, a commercial for “Geritan”, Chevy Chase singing “I’m looking over a four leaf clover”, and “Channel One Evening News.”
Although Shapiro played the anchor on the Evening News, the skit and its tagline, ‘Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow,’ were taken along to Saturday Night Live with Chevy Chase, and live on today as Weekend Update.
This movie pulled out all the stops, using full-frontal nudity, drug use, prostitution, and silliness in a truly funny way. I also believe this was the first and only time a grown man in a suit, hat and brief case danced through the streets of New York singing “Just me, Just You” and lived to tell about it.
Seriously, this movie is funny as hell. I waited 25 years to see it and wasn’t disappointed. Back in 1975, when it was playing at the Towne-4 movie theater next to the Searstown Mall in Pleasantville, NJ, my family wanted to see it. The TV commercials made it look like a straight-up comedy (without the raunchiness), and the newspaper ad showed it as being rated “G” (it’s actually rated R). When we got to the movies, and I still remember this clearly, the pretty young girl at the ticket counter told my my parents “Aw, you don’t want to take him in there”, to which they said, “But it’s rated G”, to which she replied, “Oh no, sorry about that. The paste up guy at the newspaper didn’t do the ad right and the “R” slipped off the ad, if you look at the paper again you’ll see the “R” overlapping the ad under it.” How about that, huh? So I didn’t get to see it. Considering I was 7, it’s probably a good thing.
This is some pretty low-brow comedy so for a drink & snacks I’d say cheap beer and chips all the way. Miller High Life and Doritos would be very 70s. If you’re not a beer drinker, then Jack on the rocks, and Herrs potato chips. Some New Yawk style pizza too. Watch it by the glow of a Lava Lamp and a Spencer’s Gifts fiber-optic tree for full effect, man. Yeah.
-Tiki Chris for Tiki Lounge Talk
Posted on January 25th, 2010 4 comments
Today’s flick is soaked in coke, cheap liquor, prostitution and the pursuit of getting out of the ghetto. It’s the modern-day (70s) Funk-tastic equivalent to The Grapes of Wrath. It’s
“Never a dude like this one! He’s got a plan to stick it to The Man!”
Now, let me lay this on you…If nothing else, watch this movie for the car.
This is, without doubt, one of the best movies ever to depict the conditions in the poor areas of NYC and the people who tried to survive there in the ’60s and ’70s. It was made to show how things really were, to ‘keep it real’. Now it’s a fantastic time capsule, giving us a glimpse into the bad side of the old days, the dilapidation of the crumbling city, the poverty, and the crime. Watch this film with the cellphone turned off and the computer in sleep mode, and try to put yourself back in that era of payphones and typewriters, 8-Track tapes and big American cars, when Deep Throat was playing at theaters in Times Square and Nixon was president. It’ll blow your mind.
All that aside, it’s got an incredibly kick-ass soundtrack by Funk master Curtis Mayfield, including the title track “Superfly” and the instrumental “Freddie’s Dead”. The story centers around a drug pusher-pimp who goes by the name of Priest Youngblood, a man who is sick of the crime life, sick of the streets and is looking for a way out. In the mean time, he does all that he can to try to live the good life, from having a color TV in every room, to driving a custom Cadillac convertible.
Ah, the Superfly Cadillac.
Now we come to my favorite part of this post. The car, a 1971 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado custom convertible,
became as much a character in the movie as Priest. It was featured on the poster, and became the icon of this film ever since. The entire opening sequence and titles features the Caddy being driven through the streets of New York City, with the defining “Freddie’s Dead” theme song weaving through the background. This big black Cadillac was a real car, customized by a coachworks in north Jersey that operated under the name Dunham Coach. They specialized in customizing large American luxury cars, i.e. Cadillacs and Lincolns, and had a steady clientele of “underworld” figures through the 1970s. In fact, the car used in the film was owned by an actual pimp at the time who went by the name “KC”. He let them use the car in exchange for a cameo in the film.
I had the good fortune to own one of these Superfly Caddy’s back in the 1990s. It was a 1975 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Coupe with running boards, a Continental kit (spare tire on the trunk), Rolls-Royce Grille and Headlights, and a 1941 Cadillac hood ornament. Mine was blue and silver, not black.
Anyway, back to the flick…This is a gritty film, and as I said really puts you in the era. Maybe not the best writing, or acting. Maybe not the most original storyline. It was low budget, and sometimes it shows. But it’s sho-nuff fun to watch. Now…tune your ears into what I’m laying down on you kats, and dig it for real: This is a hard-edged, realistic depiction of ghetto life in New York City in the early 1970s. There’s violence, nudity, drugs, corruption, racism, sex, more drugs, gambling, and fine Cadillacs. The protagonist is a pimp and a drug pusher, and you’re rooting for him at the end. So I wouldn’t recommend this one for family night.
That said, here’s my riff: Dig this movie with the lights dimmed down low in your pad. Sip Merlot, and dine on a big, thick plank steak the way Priest would. And absolutely get the soundtrack, it’s Super Fly, baby. You dig?
Here’s a video of an interview with Les Dunham, creator of the Superfly Cadillac. Lots of shots of the car.
Superfly at Tiki Lounge Talk, by “Mack”