Truffle Shuffle Tuesdays – vol.1
Before we get started with what I hope to make a weekly feature, I’d like to take time to present some great search terms that have led some obviously interesting people to the Lagoon. From this week alone:
- “sadistic asian girls”
- “nunsploitation porno”
- “villain, head encased in glass”
- “real life scary christmas stories”
- “nude laura gesmer”
ALLAN ARKUSH ANTICS
Allan Arkush has spent the bulk of his career directing kazillions of episodes of popular TV series, from Heros to St. Elsewhere. But it’s his checkered movie resume that interests us. Here are some of his more noteworthy (though, not necessarily good) credits.
ELVIS MEETS NIXON (1997)
A sweet little gem of a historical footnote. Whether it’s accurate or not, this fictionalized account of Elvis’ 24-hour jaunt from Memphis to Washington to L.A. then back to Washington — all so he can talk then-prez, Nixon (familiar character actor, Bob Gunton , giving an over-the-top Nixon performance second only to Dan Hedaya’s in Dick) into appointing him “Federal Agent-at-Large” in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Nixon agrees to the meeting as a desperate attempt to connect with America’s youth who’d already tuned Elvis out years prior. There are some dynamite exchanges here, particularly between E (Rick Peters giving my favorite Elvis portrayal to date) and some L.A. hippies who direct the King to his new album — in the “Oldies” bin. Dressed in a purple suit and cape, armed with multiple firearms and without an entourage for the first time since he was 21, the naive King of Rock ‘n’ Roll hops commercial flights and draws guns in donut shops. That much is true. It all leads to a sweetly hilarious meeting between Nixon and Presley, two icons who were standing at the brink of nearly simultaneous falls to disgrace.
HEARTBEEPS ( 1981 )
Andy Kaufman and Bernadette Peters play extremely creepy looking robots on the lam with a stogie chomping “comedy” robot, pursued by the company that created them and a villainous tank of a supercomputer that looks like an armed Commodore 64 on wheels. The love-lorn bots build a baby bot and make lots of family-friendly robot puns. To say that Heartbeeps is dated is an understatement, but worse, it’s just silly and not remotely funny. In what probably seemed like inspired casting at the time, Kaufman is in TAXI-voice mode doing nothing interesting beyond walking stiffly and attempting to emote from beneath Stan Winston’s upsetting makeup. There’s a reason this big-budget gamble slipped quietly into cinematic obscurity. Cult favorites Christopher Guest, Dick Miller, Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov all make appearances.
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (1979)
P.J. Soles (L-U-V her!) and the Ramones (!) rock the halls of Vince Lombardi High in this deservedly labeled “cult classic.” Produced by Corman and directed by Allan Arkush, this musical is jammed full of classic Ramones tunes and enough goofy puns and laugh-out-loud moments (many featuring Clint Howard!) to make this a repeat-viewing wonder and a must in your cult collection. Favorite scenes include teenybopper, Soles’ Riff Randal, smoking a joint and imagining the Ramones appearing in her shower, performing just for her — and the girls’ gym class musical production number of the titular anthem (Sung by Soles with lots of bra-free aerobic dancing). Mary Woronov and Paul Bartel’s performances as Principal Togar and a sympathetic science teacher, respectively, are highlights. Hey, Ho, LET’S GO!
CADDYSHACK II ( 1988 )
Probably one of the most head-scratchingly unnecessary and universally reviled sequels EVAH. (Grease 2 takes the gold though.) No one asked for it. No one wanted it…especially not eight years late! Basically Jackie Mason is Rodney Dangerfield, Robert Stack is Ted Knight, Dan Akroyd is Bill Murray and –for better or worse (usually worse)– Chevy Chase is Chevy Chase. Grating and unfunny — C2 is nothing but a boil on the butt of the over-appreciated 1980 “classic.”