Meat Loaf Monday

Meat Loaf Monday Pt. 5: Burning Bright (2010)

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Burning Bright is a 2010 horror/thriller from director Carlos Brooks. Unfortunately he’s not one of those Brooks, but Burning Bright still manages to be quite a good little movie.

Meat Loaf plays a fleeting part (I’m sensing a theme here in MLM). He’s Howie, a man selling a tiger to John, a strange man who thinks opening a safari park in a great idea. John sees the tiger and isn’t convinced it’s “scary enough” to be a part of his park. Though Howie tells him otherwise, as the tiger is brutal more than anything else. The tiger isn’t scary, it’s evil. John changes his mind and decides to take the tiger back with him where is tries to mutilate his workers.

So things are going to go well, basically.

John’s step-children are Kelly (Diana Evigan, of every remake ever) and her younger, autistic brother Tom (Charlie Tahan). Kelly has been trying to get to college for over a year, but decided to stay to take care of her brother after their mother’s suicide. She has decided to place Tom in a hospital where he can get treatment, but they are denied after their check bounces. When Kelly calls to check on her account, she learns that John has emptied all the money in her account the day before.

Kelly and Tom head home where their house is being boarded up in preparation for a tropical storm that is heading their way. Kelly confronts her step-father about the money, but since he’s such a swell guy, he reminds Kelly that her mother never left a will, only a post-it saying that she had to watch over Tom after she died.

All the responsibility is quite a bit for a kid who’s probably only 19. But Kelly is clearly at a breaking point, and her youth shows she’s not as strong as she wants to be. She’s incredible at taking her of her brother, understanding everything that he wants and hates. There’s the pull of having her own life, but clearly cares too much about Tom to leave him alone with John. That’s probably why she has a dream about suffocating her brother to death.

When Kelly awakes from her dream, she hears that the storm has begun. But when she goes to check on Tom, he sees he’s not in his bed. Instead she spots the tiger that has managed its way into the house (or was let into the house by some drunken, asshole of a step-father).

Since the house has been boarded up for the storm, it certainly makes Kelly and Tom great targets for the tiger. Though that doesn’t stop Kelly from trying her best to survive. She tried every trick in the book like shooting it and feeding it drugged meat. But since Meat Loaf says this tiger is evil, it certainly lives up to its reputation.

Much of the film focuses on Kelly’s attempts to find her brother, stay away from a friggin’ tiger, and keep Tom safe (when she can keep an eye on him, that is. She loses him a lot). They finally decide to hide in a large fridge, hoping to either die nicely or escape eventually. Thankfully it’s the later option that happens. There’s a quick, but rewarding face-off between Kelly and John that is pretty great. I wouldn’t dare ruin the ending for you. Even if you’ve probably already guessed it by now.

Burning Bright is pretty predictable, but that doesn’t stop it from being a well-acted, suspenseful film. I really enjoyed Evigan’s performance in this movie and believed her the whole way through. That’s the true sign of a heroine in a horror film. It doesn’t always matter what’s going on around you. If it’s silly or stupid, you still need to make it work, girl, and Evigan does a great job. I loved that she had a real inner-struggle outside of fighting a huge-ass tiger. Beasts come in many forms. And victory over it is always worth watching.

Oh and Meat Loaf was great. Shame he didn’t make an appearance at the end. Second helpings are always great.

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Meat Loaf Monday Pt. 4: The Outer Limits, Season 6 Ep. 17 “Gettysburg”

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Andy and Vince are two friends at a Gettysburg re-enactment. Vince is dressed as a union medic, while Andy is a Confederate soldier. It shouldn’t be any surprise that Vince is sweet and charming while Andy is a total dickhead. He makes statements about how much better the country would be “if the good guys had won” and is a proud supporter of waving the confederate battle flag.

This episode was first aired in November 2000. When Andy begins to moan about how there are no wars, and this world is boring – it’s unsettling knowing what is about to happen to America in less than a year’s time.

The two are stopped by a man in a black carriage and asks to take their photo. Thinking he is a part of the re-enactment, they agree. But this isn’t any ordinary camera, and the friends are sent back in time to June 30th, 1863 just before the beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg.

They are accidentally sent back with another boy. The three are confused, realising they are in the same place, but the memorial for the battle has disappeared. They are approached by Col. Angus Devine (played by, of course, Meat Loaf) and another sergeant. The tag-along is shot dead, waking the boys up to the reality that they aren’t in Kansas anymore (or 2000, at least).

Devine takes the two soldiers with him, thinking them to either be spies, traitors or deserters. When they arrive at camp, Andy and Vince immediately look in their Gettysburg book and read that Devine had disappeared before the battle and in fact had viral meningitis, making him mad.

And he is crazy. But that doesn’t stop Andy from being over-the-moon. The photographer shows up at the camp, and warns the friends that they need to learn a lesson, as he thinks that the future can change. Andy believes this means that it is his destiny to change the outcome of the battle, thus changing the outcome of the American Civil War. Vince, being a lot more level-headed and a Unionist, warns his friend that changing the country’s history might in fact change the whole world. But Andy ignores him because he’s a total dickhead.

The troops move to a home with a pregnant woman, who is all alone. While Andy is trying to argue battle strategy with his superiors, Vince is the only person to head upstairs and help the woman delivery her baby. The symbolism here is layered pretty thick, but as a Northerner, I can’t hardly find fault in this.

Devine continues to be uncooperative and unwilling to listen to Andy. He becomes erratic. For their safety, Vince decides to steal the photographer’s camera to send him and his friend forward in time before his friend can change history. But light targets Devine instead, who is sent somewhere else in the future.

As the battle is beginning, the two friends start to tear into each other. Andy is still convinced that he can change the outcome of the war, like he believes the photographer wants him to. But when the photographer appears again, he tells them that he’s brought them back for Andy to learn his lesson, but he finally explains why.

In 2013, there is a black president. A man who is the greatest leader of the United States, but he is assassinated. And Andy is his killer.

Andy seems indifferent to the news. But even then he doesn’t learn. He’s shot and killed in battle. And the photographer, satisfied that he has changed the future, sends Vince back to 2000. Thirteen years later, the president is giving a speech at the Gettysburg memorial. It’s then that Devine arrives in the future. He shoots the Abraham Lincoln impersonator, but also kills the president as well.

And the photographer looks on in dispair, knowing he can’t change the course of history.

Meat Loaf is so good at being gross and dangerous at Col. Angus Devine. Plus he is wearing a truly fabulous hat here. Though, he isn’t the best part of this episode. Like the best science fiction, this episode of The Outer Limits gives us a stern warning about our own future. Watching this episode 16 years after it’s aired, it’s disheartening to see how prevalent it still is. The photographer thought we’d learn our lessons. Just read any news headline, and you’ll see that we probably haven’t.

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Meat Loaf Mondays Pt. 1: Tales From the Crypt Season 4, Episode 6 “What’s Cookin’?”

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Meat Loaf Mondays? What’s Meat Loaf Mondays, you ask? Well, welcome to another (probably bad) decision I’ve made for a new series on this blog. MEAT LOAF MONDAYS! Both tasty and cheesy! MLM, much like WWW, will be a weekly adventure of film and television, but this time everything is centered around the career of musician and actor Meat Loaf (born Michael Lee Aday). Why Meat Loaf? Why the hell not Meat Loaf?

But much different to my Wicked Wisconsin Wednesdays, MLM isn’t necessarily about Meat Loaf. Rather, this is just a way to explore film and television through a rather varied and strange career. For the first week, we’re looking at an episode from a classic television show, a rather delightful treat with plenty of cannibalism.

“What’s Cookin'” is from the sixth episode of the fourth season of Tales From the Crypt, which aired in 1992, about a year after I was born. Growing up, I never was a fan of Tales From the Crypt, and I suppose a major reason for that was mostly because of age. Growing up I watched the much milder Are You Afraid of the Dark? and found that terribly terrifying at a young age. Everything scarred me at that age, which I suppose makes me rather glad that I watched this show when I was a bit older (though my older sister did enjoy tormenting me by talking like the Crypt Keeper).

This episode from Tales From the Crypt is much more gruesome than anything that would have been shown on a politely twisted Nickelodeon show, despite both shows being aired around roughly the same time. Much of it is pretty standard TFTC fare: puns, a bit of gore and a weird (sometimes incomprehensible) twist at the end.

Married couple Fred (Christopher Reeve) and Erma (Bess Armstrong) are struggling to keep their restaurant open. This is mostly due to the fact that no one is interested in a squid-only restaurant. They can afford to keep one man on staff: Judd Nelson.

Gaston (Nelson) is a drifter who keeps telling Fred and Emra that he has a fantastic recipe for BBQ. But Fred pushes these suggestions aside, deeply believing that someone loves squid enough to keep going to this crappy restaurant.

After closing shop one night, Fred is approached by Chumley. Chumley is, of course, played by Meat Loaf, who has the silliest accent put on here. I’m not entirely sure what he’s trying to achieve in the scene, but he gets to say great lines like “Today is today,” which is totally excellent. He’s clearly enjoying his brief appearance because he wears an excellent white suit and matching fedora. Chumley (which is a name only given to horrible people) is around the restaurant to collect the overdue rent Fred has to pay. Chumley heads to the door after evicting Fred, but Fred follows and accidentally cuts Chumley with his knife.

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Outside, Gaston is chatting to Erma. He tries to coax her into leaving her husband, but really, in a battle between Judd Nelson vs Christopher Reeve – is there really a competition? Even if in this reality Reeve owns a crap squid restaurant, there’s not much of a battle here (even though Judd Nelson is still a lovely-looking man).

Anyway.

As Erma heads home, Gaston spots Fred and Chumley leaving the restaurant in an argument. The wheels are clearly turning in his head, which can only mean the horror is about to be brought on.

The next morning, Fred feels completely defeated as they’re supposed to be evicted. When Officer Phil (Art LaFleur) enters and orders a steak, he’s almost turned away before Erma finds some steaks sitting in the fridge.

Gaston offers up his apologies and explains that he got a good deal on the meat and really wanted to give his BBQ idea a try. So the steak is fried up and served to Phil, who seems to enjoy it immensely while explaining that their landlord, Chumley, has disappeared the night before.

As customers pour in from smelling the incredible sizzle of meat, Fred heads back to the freezer to fetch more steaks. At this point, he finds his now-former landlord strung up on a hook in the freezer. Gaston pops up and explains that this was his idea all along. But the lure of money and the threat of being accused of as the murderer, Fred folds and allows Gaston to become 50% owner and continue his murdering ways all for the sake of sizzling meats!

This is by far the most disgusting part of the episode. Yes watching Meat Loaf’s body slowing getting hacked away at is mighty gruesome, but there’s something really upsetting about watching the customers enjoy it.

But as the restaurant becomes more successful, Gaston becomes more threatening. Nelson plays an excellent psycho, as usual, and it’s pretty fun to watch him go off on Fred and Erma, and it’s even more satisfactory when it all crashes in on him in the end.

Despite the episode missing a great joke (no meatloaf being served, really), this is a really excellent episode of Tales From the Crypt. It’s gross and darkly funny all in one. It’s well worth a watch, and for TFTC fans, re-watch again if only for Meat Loaf’s great accent.