Meat Loaf

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 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:

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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

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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.

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.