The TSL’s Grindhouse: Blue Monkey (dir by William Fruet)

1987 Blue Monkey

Last night, as I sat down to watch the 1987 Canadian film, Blue Monkey, I found myself singing a song in my head:

How does it feel
When you treat me like you do
And you’ve laid your hands upon me
And told me who you are?

I thought I was mistaken
And I thought I heard your words
Tell me, how do I feel?
Tell me now, how do I feel?

Unfortunately, it turned out that the only thing Blue Monkey had in common with the classic New Order song, Blue Monday, was an enigmatic title.  Just as the song never really mentions anything about Monday, Blue Monkey does not feature a single monkey.  One minor character does mention having a dream about a monkey but, otherwise, there are no monkeys in the film.  Speaking as someone who believes that almost any film can be improved the presence of a monkey, I was disappointed.

(Seriously, Nomadland would have been a hundred times better if Frances McDormand had a pet monkey.)

What Blue Monkey does have is a lot of blue.  The characters wear blue shirts and some wear blue uniforms.  Another wears a blue hat.  The film takes place in a hospital where almost all of the walls are painted blue.  Even worse, the majority of the film’s scenes are saturated with blue lighting.  

Here’s just two screenshots:


Seriously, some scenes were so blue that I was reminded of John Huston’s decision to suffuse Reflections in a Golden Eye with the color gold.  Personally, I think Huston made a mistake when he did that with Reflections but I can still understand the reasoning behind the decision and I can see what Huston was attempting to accomplish.  The blue in Blue Monkey feels like a distraction, as if someone realized, on the day before shooting, that the title didn’t make any damn sense.  “We’ll just make the whole movie blue!”

The problem, of course, is that the film goes so overboard with the blue lighting that it actually becomes difficult to look at the screen for more than a few minutes.  I had to keep looking away, specifically because all of those blue flashing lights were starting to make me nauseous and were on the verge of giving me a migraine.  At times, the image is so saturated in blue that you literally can’t make out what’s happening in the scene.  Of course, once you do figure out what’s happening, you realize that it doesn’t matter.

Blue Monkey takes place in a hospital.  A handyman has been having convulsions after pricking his finger on a plant that came from a mysterious island.  Perhaps that’s because a mutant larvae is now using his body for a host.  The larvae eventually develops into a giant grasshopper — NOT A MONKEY! — who stalks around the hospital and kills a few people.  The Canadian government is threatening to blow up the hospital unless something is done about the blue grasshopper.

It’s a Canadian exploitation film but Michael Ironside isn’t in it so it somehow feels incomplete.  That said, John Vernon plays a greedy hospital administrator and it’s fun to watch him get irritated with everyone.  A very young Sarah Polley has an early role as an annoying child.  There’s actually several children in this film and you’ll want to throw something at the screen whenever they show up, that’s just the type of film this is.  (Some of my fellow movie-watching friends were actually upset that the children survived that film.  I wouldn’t go that far but I still found myself hoping John Vernon would tell them all to shut up and let the adults handle things.)  Susan Anspach plays a doctor, showing that anyone can go from Five Easy Pieces to Canadian exploitation.  The film’s nominal star is Steve Railsback, playing a cop who comes to the hospital to check on his wounded partner and who ends up on grasshopper duty.  Steve Railsback has apparently said that he’s embarrassed to have appeared in this film.  Consider some of the other films that Steve Railsback has appeared in and then reread that sentence.  

In the end, Blue Monkey doesn’t add up too much.  There’s no Michael Ironside.  There’s no monkeys.  There’s just a lot of blue.

Lisa’s Week In Television: 6/13/21 — 6/19/21

Yes, I did watch some television this week.  However, I didn’t actually take any notes about the shows that I watched so this edition of Lisa’s Week in Television might be lacking a little in detail.  Sorry about that!  To be honest, I spent most of this week adjusting to the arrival of summer temperatures and I ended up devoting most of my attention to the air conditioning.

Still, here’s a few thoughts about what I can remember about what I watched this week:

Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)

It was a bit of a silly episode this week.  (I know, I know, they’re all silly.)  Rene had to fly a kite in order to make the new radio work.  (Don’t ask.)  Mimi, the new waitress, was disguised as a nun and she ended up getting twisted in the kite so she ended up as a flying nun.  It made no sense but, perhaps for that reason, it made me laugh.

The Bachelorette (Monday on ABC)

This week, Katie was stunned to discover that one of the bachelors might not have been there for the right reasons!  She sent Cody home because he was apparently only there to increase his profile.  Usually, it takes a few more episodes for The Bachelorette to reach the “He’s not here for the right reasons” stage.  The fact that this season got to it during the second episode worries me a little because this is a franchise that is always at its worse whenever it gets self-righteous.

(I always remember the episode of Burning Love, where the bachelors had to make sock puppets.  Adam Scott said, “This is so stupid.” Cut to Joe Lo Truglio: “And I was like — hey man, I’m here for my son.  Take this seriously!”)

In other news, Mike read a really awkward letter to his “future wife,” explaining why he waited until marriage to have sex.  Like I said, it was hella cringey but it pretty much guarantees that Mike will be the next Bachelor.

Bar Rescue (Sunday Night, Paramount)

It’s been a while since I watched this show.  Watching it on Sunday night, I discovered that John Taffer still apparently believes that not knowing how to run a bar is the worst crime known to man.  “YOU’RE OVERPOURING!  THAT’S MONEY DOWN THE DRAIN!”  Relax, John.  It’s just a bar.

Baywatch (Weekday evenings, H&I)

H&I has started in on the NINTH season of Baywatch and I have to say that I’m getting the feeling that, by the time this season rolled around, Baywatch was just repeating itself and going through the motions.  Every episode that I watched this week featured a storyline that had been done in a previous episode.  So, I guess if you’re wondering how many lifeguard stories there are, the answer is 8 seasons worth.

Let’s see how much I can remember about what I saw this week:

On the first of Sunday’s episodes, the Baywatch lifeguards had some competition from a private security company called — I kid you not — Bayguard!  Mitch and Cody had to prove that Baywatch was just as good as Bayguard, which they managed to do by rescuing a boy in a storm drain.  Mitch and Cody spent a lot of time rescuing people from storm drains.  The second episode was a sweet story about a little boy named Timmy who really liked dolphins.  Timmy also got trapped in a cave so Mitch and the lifeguards had to save him.  It was typical Baywatch stuff but David Hasselhoff always did his best work with the unabashedly sentimental storylines.

On Monday, a mysterious figure was roaming the beach and saving people from drowning!  Could it have been the klutzy new maintenance worker played Brooke Burns?  Since Burns was already featured in the opening credits wearing a Baywatch uniform, that was a pretty easy question to answer.  This was followed by an episode where April felt guilty about a swimmer dying, which was pretty much a remake of an earlier episode in which Caroline felt guilty about a swimmer dying.

On Tuesday, Hobie made his first appearance of the season.  Despite being Mitch’s son, Hobie had been missing in action for the previous few episodes.  (In real life, actor Jonathan Jackson was dealing with an addiction to cocaine that basically led to him being fired from the show.)  Hobie was arrested after a boat he was driving crashed.  However, it turned out that Hobie was not at fault!  Knowing that this episode was kind of meant to be a wake-up call to Jackson about his own behavior made the whole thing awkward to watch.  This was followed by an episode in which one of the lifeguards was selected for Jeopardy.  Unfortunately, she was later disqualified when it was discovered that she knew someone who worked on the show but Alex Trebek still made an appearance and was his usual charming self.

On Wednesday, the first episode featured Mitch having a mid-life crisis, which he previously had two seasons ago.  This was followed by an episode were Mitch befriend an orangutan.  Strangely, Mitch didn’t mention that — during season two — he befriended a chimpanzee.

On Thursday, Cody started using performance-enhancing drugs to increase his chances of going to the Olympics, much as several other characters have done on previous episodes of Baywatch.  This was followed by a skydiving episode which was basically a remake of the skydiving episode from season six.  Of course, the previous episode turned out to be a dream whereas this episode was real.  MITCH CAN SEE THE FUTURE!

On Friday, Mitch adopted a new son named Tanner.  (Hobie, we were told, was now living with his mother.)  This was followed by an episode where April and Craig finally broke up, which seemed appropriate since April was like 19 and Craig was nearly 60.  Craig apparently is a hotshot defense attorney but he was nowhere to be seen in the episode where Hobie was in jail.  Craig is a bad friend.

On Saturday, Peter Barton co-starred as a race car driver who was officially sponsored by …. wait for it …. AOL!  As a result, the entire episode featured people talking about how much they loved AOL.  Mitch’s adopted son even checked his AOL account and got the “You have mail” prompt.  “Hey, pal,” Mitch said, “you got mail!”

When future historians research the 90s, they’ll just watch episodes of Baywatch.

Court Cam (Wednesdays, A&E)

Don’t talk back to the judge or Dan Abrams will put you on TV and make fun of you.

Hell’s Kitchen (Monday Night, FOX)

There was a lot of raw chicken being sent up to the pass this week.  The blue team lost again.  This seems to be the way that it goes every season, though.  The men start out losing, the women get overconfident, and eventually both teams kind of crash and burn.

Intervention (Monday Night, A&E)

The intervention didn’t work this week.  Kelsey went to rehab but relapsed.  It was sad for I’ll give Intervention some credit for admitting that these things don’t always have a happy ending.

Moone Boy (Sunday Night, PBS)

Martin graduated from national school and attempted to make sure that his name would be remembered by future classes!  I remember, in high school, I was convinced the future students would never forget my graduating class.  In retrospect, I’m not sure why I thought that.  It’s not like Saved By The Bell, where the members of the New Class where still talking about the time Jessie got hooked on caffeine pills.  Time marches on.

The Office (Saturday Afternoon, Comedy Central)

Amy Adams just wanted to sell purses.  Michael bought her a $10,000 espresso machine. CRINGE!  Still, hilarious though.

Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)

It was a typical episode of Open All Hours.  Arkwright abused Granville while Granville silently plotted his revenge.

The Powers of Matthew Star (Sunday Mornings, MeTV)

I was dealing with insomnia on Sunday so I did watch an episode of this old sci-fi series on MeTV.  (I used to set the DVR for it but, up until this week, I had kind of lost interest in it.)  Peter Barton — yes, the same Peter Barton who appeared on Baywatch this week — played an alien who was pretending to be a normal high school student.  In this week’s episode, Matthew Star traveled to the Bermuda Triangle and got a tragic message from his homeworld.  It was pretty silly but, as the title character, Peter Barton was sincere enough to nearly sell it.

Saved By The Bell (Sunday Morning, MeTV)

Screech got struck by lightning and suddenly had the power to see the future.  Zack tried to use Screech’s powers to cheat on the History midterm.  Unfortunately, Screech lost his powers and Zack got an “F minus …. for scamming!”

South Park (Wednesday Night, Comedy Central)

“Free Hat!  Free Hat!”  Actually, I don’t remember which episode it was that I watched but the Free Hat episode is always a good a default to go with.

Upstart Crow (Sunday Night, PBS)

Incredibly proud of his new play, Will Shakespeare is stunned to discover that the few women in his life are not as enamored of The Taming of the Shrew as he is.  Will simply cannot figure it out!  This was a funny episode, mostly because it was true.




Film Review: Rad (dir by Hal Needham)

The 1986 film, Rad, tells the story of Christopher “Cru” Jones (Bill Allen).  Cru lives in a small, kind of ugly town in middle America.  Cru has a job delivering newspapers so, every morning, he rides around town on a bicycle and he throws rolled-up copies of USA Today at people.  He throws the papers fairly aggressively and doesn’t seem to have much concern about riding his bike through backyards or using his bike to jump over (or sometimes, onto) cars.  And yet, no one can stay mad at Cru because he has a plucky, can-do attitude and he can do all sorts of tricks on his bicycle.

Cru has a decision to make.  He can either go to college or he can compete in a bicycle race.  If he goes to college, he might actually be able to get a career and actually have a future.  If he wins the bicycle race, he’ll get a car and $100,000.  His mother (Talia Shire) feels that Cru should go to college.  Cru, however, says that his gut is telling him to enter the race….

Hey, Cru, your gut is lying to you!  Seriously, I’m all for Cru competing and showing off how good he is at a rather mundane and kind of boring sport but college is college.  There’s a scene early on in the film where one of Cru’s classmates is talking about all the schools to which he’s applied.  “UCLA, Princeton, SMU, Harvard….” Cru rides by and laughs but, 35 years later, who do you think currently has the nicer house?

Of course, despite his willingness to give up his future for $100,000 and a new car, it turns out that Cru might not even be able to compete.  The race’s evil sponsor (Jack Weston) is determined to make sure that his tea, wins the race and he keeps changing the rules to prevent Cru from being able to enter.  He demands that Cru find an official sponsor so Cru starts his own business.  He then demands that the business be worth at least $50,000!  Cru doesn’t have that type of money but — wait a minute — is that Ray Waltson, playing an eccentric businessman!?  Maybe he’s got $50,000!

Still, does Cru have the confidence necessary to enter the race and beat the best in the country?  Don’t worry, Cru’s little sister designs a t-shirt that reads, “Cru is Rad!”  Seriously, just try to beat that encouragement!

Anyway, you may be thinking that Rad sounds like it’s a pretty silly movie and it is.  Having now watched Rad, BMX Bandits, and Quicksilver, I am ready to announce that, in the 80s, there was absolutely no way to make BMX racing cinematic.  At the end of the movie, Cru performs a series of tricks while the end credits role and, instead of being impressed, you just notice how much Cru is struggling to maintain his balance.  Neither Bill Allen nor Bart Conner (who plays Cru’s main rival) have much screen presence and the whole film just looks and feels cheap.

And yet….

To be honest, it’s difficult to really dislike Rad.  For all of its many flaws, it’s all just so damn sincere.  Cru just wants to win that race so badly that it’s hard not to root for him and it is kind of touching to see the way the entire town rallies around him.  While the lead racers may have been blandly portrayed, Talia Shire, Jack Weston, Ray Waltson, and Lori Loughlin all turn in effective performances.  In fact, you could probably argue that Talia Shire is almost too good in her role.  She so effectively portrays the anguish of a mother watching her son throw his future away that you really do find yourself worrying about what’s going to happen to Cru when he’s older and he can’t get a job because he blew off college.  (I’m going to guess that Talia Shire’s presence in this film is due to the fact that it was produced by her late husband, Jack Schwartzman.)

Rad is sincere and unpretentious and rather silly.  Like a lot of 80s movies, it’s got a good soundtrack.  It especially makes good use of the song Send Me An Angel.  There’s also an out-of-nowhere scene where Cru and Lori Loughlin do a series of impromptu freestyle bike tricks on the middle of a dance floor and it’s just surreal enough to be memorable.

Rad is a simple but inoffensive tribute to throwing your life away.


Music Video of the Day: Dark All Day (Power Glove Remix) by Gunship (2020, dir by Sitcom Soldiers)

I always like the atmospheric videos and there’s really nothing more atmospheric than performing in the rain.  Or, as it sometimes appears to be in this video, performing while blood rains down on you.  That’s the sort of thing that will definitely inspire some creativity but it probably takes forever to get that much blood out of your hair.


Music Video of the Day: Omen by The Prodigy (2009, dir by Peter Dugdale)

I’m still mourning Keith Flint.

Apparently, there’s a lot of people online who are convinced that the girl playing the glockenspiel grew up to be Greta Thunberg.  Just the fact that Greta was 6 years old at the time that this video was released should put that rumor to rest.  (In the defense of many, the rumor did start and was frequently shared as a joke.  But you know how the Internet is.)  Personally, I think she looks more like Wednesday Addams or maybe the little girl from The Ring.


Music Video of the Day: Name of the Game by The Crystal Method (2001, dir by Marcos Siega)

Awww, poor Nosey!

Despite that “to be continued,” at the end, the story of Nosey has not been continued. I can only guess that he’s either incarcerated and buried in the prison graveyard. It’s a sad story but at least he appeared to have achieved some sort of happiness before it all came crashing down.