Meat Loaf Mondays

Meat Loaf Monday Pt. 3 – Saturday Night Live Season 3, Ep. 15 “Christopher Lee and special guest Meat Loaf”

I wanted to watch the episode with Tim Curry from 1981 instead, but the internet seems to lack access to these old episodes (what the hell, Hulu?!). I much prefer Tim Curry to Christopher Lee. I know, I know. Everyone always assumes that I’m really into Hammer Horror, but my not-so-dark secret is I find most of them “meh”.

But alas, I do like Christopher Lee in other, non-horror related things. Though watching Lee in Saturday Night Live wasn’t something I thought I would see. But SNL in ’78 had one hell of a classic line-up: straight off the bat in the cold open, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray are talking about John Belushi changing his name to Kevin Scott for a role in Grizzly Adams. Just seeing all those lovely faces on one screen makes my heart warm.

Though, I do think anything Christopher Lee does on SNL is going to be excellent. Mostly because he is sporting the most incredible mustache of all time:

snlchrismust

Lee’s opening monologue features three different trailers for upcoming films. The first “stars” Garrett Morris (yay!) in The Island of Lost Luggage. The second is The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave, which is Belushi, of course. And Vincent Price (Dan Aykroyd) is Dr Jekyll and Mr Rogers (which I would see).

In the first skit, Radner’s Baba Wawa appears in London, looking for lodgings at Lee’s home. Baba is looking to improve her speech in a My Fair Lady-inspired skit. Every time the music starts and dies out immediately, the crowd chuckles, but when Lee seems to have picked up Baba’s speech impediment, the sweetness of it all is pretty damn great.

This episode of Saturday Night Live was Meat Loaf’s first television appearance. It came about three years after 1975’s Rocky Horror Picture Show. In 1978, when this episode originally aired, it was a year after Bat Out of Hell was released. Here, he’s jokingly introduced by Lee as “Loaf”. Always great live, Meat Loaf appears with Karla DeVito performing “All Revved Up With No Place to Go”. It’s wonderful and theatrical – everything you should expect from a Meat Loaf performance.

Following Meat Loaf’s first performance, Jane Curtin does the Weekend Update with Aykroyd. As usual, I love this pair together. Curtin’s deadpan is so damn good, it always leaves me in awe.

For the second skit of the night, Lee plays Death visiting a young girl (Laraine Newman), whose dog Tippi just died. He’s come to visit to apologise about the loss of her dog. The contrast between Lee’s posh London accent and Newman’s sweetness is hilarious. But Lee’s rampage about everyone he kills is just excellent.

In the set up for the next skit with Lee, there are several short bits. Garrett Morris has a monologue as Egypt’s president Anwar Sadat asking for advice on the Middle East, which is followed by a short film by Gary Weis to Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice,” in which a girl repeatedly torments a man with guns and scissors.  Whatabitch. And then in a skit that would never be made now, a family visit Rabbit Hut, a restaurant where they broil rabbits.

Lee, Belushi and Curtin are a team trying to get rid of someone who is haunting them (and that would be Aykroyd). This someone is the tricky dick himself, a Dracula-like Richard Nixon. The group are actually around to get rid of the evil spirit of Watergate that haunts them. Where many skits to follow would only go so far to make a skit about Lee’s horror movie past, it’s clever to bring it into a political level. That’s clever writing.

Meat Loaf’s second performance is decidedly more low-key than the first with the ballad “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”. A romantic little way to ending the night.  Though, I was disappointed that Meat Loaf didn’t appear in any sketches (he would in his episode with Curry). But this was a solid episode from a really great era of Saturday Night Live. The writing plays up to Lee’s acting abilities, which makes for a really strange, but enjoyable set of skits.

Christopher Lee was such a gent.

Meat Loaf Monday Pt. 2: Roadie

roadie

What do you do when you cast one of the world’s most successful musicians in your movie? Well, you know you have to make a movie about music, right? About a band or something. Yeah! But let’s not make this singer sing in our film. Oh no. He’s going to be a roadie! The best roadie that ever was!

And thus is the logic behind Roadie. A film that is part rock ‘n’ roll film and part road trip movie and part… uh, self-discovery?

Roadie is a film that stars Meat Loaf. It’s all about musicians and music, but never once does Meat Loaf get used for his musical talents (except for one scene, but on to those mimes later). It’s a strange sort of film, that could have only been made in the year following Rock ‘n’ Roll High School. 

Travis W. Redfish lives with his father and sister in their home/business. He’s the “world’s greatest chair dancer” and distributor of Shiner beer. The family also live in Texas in what is probably the most Texan way possible (well, when it comes to the movies anyway): the family business comes with the apparent ability to make anything work.

One day on his way to work, Travis and his co-worker B.B. stumble upon a group who are having RV trouble. Travis stops because, of course, there’s a total babe waving to him out of the window who he says is the love of his life. This is Lola (Kaki Hunter), who is on her way to New York City to become “the greatest groupie that ever lived.” But since Lola is such a babe, Travis agrees to go with the crew to help them with their mechanical problems. But Travis isn’t a big fan of music, he thinks that Alice Cooper is a Charlie’s Angel.

I just want to note, that absolutely everyone has the most over-the-top accents. Now I can say as an American, I have never really spent any time in the South (or Texas, Oklahoma whatever). But do people really sound like this? Please no.

Travis drives the crew (including road manager Ace, played by Joe Spano),  but they’re two hours late. They are threatened by music mogul Mohammad Johnson, who has put on the night’s concert, a performance by Hank Williams Jr.

Johnson gives the crew ten minutes to set up, but thanks to Travis’ knack with fixing things, they successful begin on time. After Williams Jr begins playing, Lola eventually spots Roy Orbison and heads straight to him – with Travis’ pitcher of beer in tow. As the she and Travis fight over the pitcher, it’s accidentally poured over a woman’s head and a bar fight begins.

The fight is stopped by Orbison hopping on the stage and starting a rendition of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” which somehow manages to be super cute and this movie wins me over a little bit.

But Travis gets into his own fight with Tiny Thompson, who’s little sister had her hair ruined by the beer. Johnson is so impressed after watching Travis take out the big man, that he demands Ace takes the Texan with to LA as a roadie.

When a passed-out Travis wakes up in LA, and is very unhappy. He then finds out that Lola is 16 (which is slightly unbelievable since Hunter is about 25 here). But at least she admits that she’s a virgin, which exempts us all from some really uncomfortable feelings here. Oh and this happens all while the narcs are trying to arrest Travis and Lola, thinking their box of Tide is cocaine. There are no drugs because an old lady swapped the boxes, which is pretty amusing all the same.

But since there are no drugs, the musicians threaten to walk out (the band is apparently some sort of mix of mimes and Trunchbull from Matilda). Thankfully Travis is there to scare the shit out of them and into performing. But somehow a spoken word performance takes place where Travis hops on stage and has a chat with Lola about “what’s coming”. And it’s, well, a literal earthquake.

Later on, one of the concerts is cancelled due to an energy shortage. Because apparently rock concerts are particularly hard on natural energy? Anyway, since Travis is pretty much a roadie/energy providing god, he sorts out the energy problem for the gig by using cow shit. Then …

Oh my god. DEBBIE FUCKING HARRY! roadiedebbie

The short cameo somehow distracts me from this super bizarre plot and the super strange cover Blondie does of “Ring of Fire.” But since it’s my goddess Debbie, all will be forgiven. Plus the boys of Blondie are all wearing cowboy hats, which is also very cute.

But Travis falls of a lighting rig and enters one of his “brain locks.” Kind of a shame because he’s in a car with Blondie. He gets snapped out of his brain lock after he downs a few Buds. He has a sweet heart-to-heart with the Deb, before Lola storms in and ruins the dinner.

Angry that she’s intervened, Travis literally drags Lola to New York to finally meet Alice Cooper. Totally star-struck, Lola is a bit useless. But she offers Travis up to fix Cooper’s soundsystem. He agrees to if he gets a bus ticket back to Texas.

Travis calls back home and learns that his sister is marring B.B., so he gets ready to hop on the bus and head home. Lola begs him to stay, but he takes off without the teenager. To be fair, she is pretty selfish. And 16.*

The wedding happens and Travis makes it just in time to watch part of the ceremony. Though he leaves suddenly after receiving a phone call. He drives off in his bus (that Alice Cooper bought for him, of course). And picks up little Lola. But just when you think there’s going to be a sweet little ending…

 

Roadie somehow manages to be a slightly cute film. Mostly weird, but …cute. To be fair, my eyes were pretty full of stars after Debbie Harry. But a lot of this film has dated really badly, as a lot of films from the 80s have (as far as women in film and, well, not being a complete dick). But rock ‘n’ roll movies have never really been made for their solid plots and well-developed characters. Roadie is a bit of fun, and it might be worth joining in.

*I had to Google “age of consent in the States.” Turns out that the majority of states in the US are 16 (it’s 18 in Wisconsin). So I guess that makes this situation a little less weird. But not by much.