The Screaming Skull

Jenni Whitlock:
Eric, when you found me, what else was there?

Eric Whitlock:
What do you mean, ‘What else?’

Jenni Whitlock:
A skull?

—-from The Screaming Skull

 

As I learn to adjust to a life without cable television, I explored the nether regions of the hundreds of free streaming channels available on the Roku. I haven’t researched it – but it looks like anyone can cobble their own Roku channel together – and there are lots of them. Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly) these are mostly poorly done and colossal time sucks.

I did stumble across a collection of old, bad, out-of-copyright horror films. These always bring back memories of when I was in sixth grade or so and discovered what that odd round wire antenna-thing that came in the box with new televisions was used for. I had discovered the UHF channels that my parents knew nothing about. I would crawl out of bed after the family was asleep and creep into the darkened kitchen and tune in what I could find on the little portable TV. This included channels dedicated at night to grade Z horror films.

Now, a half-century later, I like to look for these horrid memories from long ago. I thought I remembered one called The Screaming Skull and chose it. Turn’s out I had never seen it – and my life isn’t enriched by seeing it now.

I’m not going to review The Screaming Skull… take my word for it – it’s bad.

 

You know it’s bad from the first scene… a cheap plastic skull rises from a bucket of water bubbling with dry ice and you get:

Narrator:
“The Screaming Skull” is a motion picture that reaches its climax in shocking horror. It’s impact is so terrifying that it may have an unforeseen effect. It may *kill* you! Therefore it’s  producers feel they must assure free burial services to anyone that dies of fright while seeing The Screaming Skull.

I’m sure they didn’t have to pay out… ever. The movie is simply not scary.

The only good thing is that the main character, despite being poor, drives a seriously cool car, a mid-’50s Mercedes-Benz 190SL Gullwing. The movie brightens every time this car appears. I would love to learn the story about how such an exquisite expensive hunk of steel made in into such a low-budget film.

Mercedes-Benz 190SL from The Screaming Skull

And that’s about it. All the rest sucks.

Looking up information on the film – I didn’t realize that it was satirized on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Going to have to watch that… when I have a lot of free time.

Oh, and it is very loosely based on a short story. I found it online here. Not sure if the story is any better than the film….

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GSTV

The other day I had to go out to work at seven in the morning on Saturday. I didn’t have to stay long and as I was leaving I stopped by the Gas Station in front of the Wal-Mart across the highway from where I work. As I stood there, holding the nozzle, I watched some quick news bits and commercials (Soft Drinks and Candy – stuff for sale in the Gas Station Convenience Store) on the flat screen television attached to the top of the gas pump.

I looked closer and found that there is a network and web site for the programming that services the screens over the pumps – Gas Station TV – GSTV.

I have lived long enough to see society “progress” from when we were lucky to pull in three black and white channels on rabbit ears wrapped with aluminum foil to boost the signal to now when there is a special network dedicated to delivering programming to people while they gas up their cars.

This is truly the best of all possible worlds.

A Snickers ad on GSTV. My little car doesn’t look very cool, but it gets good gas mileage.

I had no idea what an EBT Cash Benefit Card was. I had to google it. I guess that’s a good thing. I guess people that go in to work at seven AM on their days off don’t get EBT Cash Benefit Cards.

Kelsey Gunn – Wasting your time, but not very much

As I scoured the depths of YouTube for bits of amusement to stick into my one per week “lazy entry” that I call, “what I learned this week” I kept stumbling across these little jewels of odd humor done by the folks at 5 Second Films. These were only eight seconds long (the three second title sequence doesn’t count) and would cram more story, characterization, and humor into those tiny slices of time than any SNL sketch.

As I watched and collected the ones I liked, I noticed that the same actress kept showing up in my favorites. She was always referred to as “Kelsey” and it wasn’t hard to figure out that she was Kelsey Gunn.

So I have become a fan. Why? I don’t know – she is funny, of course, and has that nerd-girl pretty quality. So now I’m subscribed to her on Facebook and watch her Vimeo Channel and  follow her on Twitter and watch her 5 Second Films, and See what she’s up to on IMDB (She’s Actually Kelsey Gunn (II))

Will Kelsey Gunn ever become famous and win Oscars and stuff? Is Batman a Transvestite? Who knows?

Oh, here she is at 2:16 in  “Meter Maids” – I’m not too sure about her Southern Redneck accent (but then again, I am a cono-sewer of the type) but the “Sexy Dance” is up there.

WordPress Blogs:

5 Second Films: Wasting Your Time, But Not as Much as This Article

Forget The Lengthy Summer Blockbusters. Michael Rousselet Talks To Kevin & Bean About 5-Second Films

The Joy of 5 Second Films

5 Second Film’s “Another Spider”, w/ the 5SF debut of Juliette Lewis

5-Second Films With Patton Oswalt        –      Part Two

Favorite YouTubers

5 Second Films Compilation

5×20 Seconds of Fun

Sweet Gender Divide Bro

Roku and roll

Rabbit Ears

Rabbit Ears

 I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. Time to die.

—Roy Batty, Blade Runner

My father’s day present arrived in a little box yesterday – Candy bought me a Roku box.

I remember when I was a kid, people had only one television. Now, our house, a family of two when the kids are in school, has five televisions set up, plus any number of laptops (I usually watch entertainment on my laptop). Once, I told my kids we didn’t have VCRs when I was a kid (this was when we were all still watching VHS tapes – which already seems a long time ago) and they said they couldn’t imagine how anyone could get through the day. I tried to tell them that when I was a small child we didn’t even have color TV and they only looked confused, with their eyes scrunched up.

In many ways, I miss the one TV days. There were only three channels so everyone watched television together and they watched the same thing. I had a friend with a large family and I used to like to go to his house where the living room would fill up with family, friends, and hangers-on. My favorite was Saturday Night at the Movies, where second-run films would be edited, chopped up and interspersed with commercials, then sent out over the ether in glorious blurry black-and-white.

In the middle of the extravaganza would always be a Coca-Cola commercial. My friends’ mother would immediately haul herself up from the couch and stride to the kitchen for a cold bottle of Coke – The Real Thang. It was like clockwork. We would laugh but she never figured out what we were laughing about. She never knew that the commercial was sending her out for a cold, sweating bottle, either. She actually thought she was thirsty.

TV

Since everybody across the land watched the same thing every evening there was always a discussion of the evening’s entertainment around the water coolers the next day.

In 1964, I remember when the Beatles went back across the pond. That seemed to be a big deal back then, like it actually mattered where a rock band was physically located. It felt like we would never see or hear from the adorable mop-tops again. Though I was only seven years old, I was saddened by this – it felt like an era was passing.

It seemed like only a few days later (the exact chronology is very fuzzy – I was only seven years old) another British band appeared on Ed Sullivan. There was some buzz among the adults in the room that these kids would now replace the Beatles, so I watched and paid attention. This was almost fifty years ago, but I still remember I had a glass of milk in my hand when they came on.

Right away, I was mesmerized. They didn’t have the energy of the Beatles, but there was something…, something I couldn’t figure out, something that I knew a seven year old kid wasn’t privy to, but something, something special, something somehow unsavory yet seductive about these guys, especially the lead singer.

It was, of course, the Rolling Stones, and I was right – nothing would be the same again.

You can Watch it Here. You can’t imagine the effect this had on a seven year old kid in 1964.

So now, a half century later, in this best of all possible worlds, I spent a few seconds hooking up the Roku (they aren’t lying when they say that hooking it up is simple) and the rest of the evening running back and forth from the TV to my laptop in another room carrying a series of slips of paper with passwords and setup codes until I could get the channels working (they don’t tell you about this part).

So now, we can sit down with a small pile of remote controls in the darkened corner of a back bedroom (we’ll move it to Lee’s massive TV when he goes back to school) and stream the whole world into that little box.

It’s really cool, it really is, but it doesn’t have the effect of a blurry static-besmirched Mick Jagger wriggling beneath a pair of aluminum-draped rabbit ears. It’s not the television’s fault – it’s not the technology – it’s my eyes. They aren’t seven any more. They are worn out now. They have seen too much.

Stones

Stones