As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes The Almighty Gods Of The Vine know when I am desperate need of a thing. Before my first daughter was born I wanted a video camera to record those precious moments, and lo, a free Flip camcorder popped through my letterbox. When I need some new Anti-virus software, it invariably appears for selection.
This month, as we all stared through the veil of snow into a distant but inevitable Spring, my eldest daughter repeatedly asked to get outside to the back yard to play with her sand pit and Wendy House. Concurrently, my wife repeated that no-one would be going near the Wendy House or Sandpit until they had been washed and scrubbed within an inch of their plastic lives. The cat crap needed to go, and the moss creeping over the tiles in the yard was in need of oblivion to give that fresh, out of the cement mixer gleam. Do concrete tiles come from cement mixers? Hmm. The quandary was threefold, as in my mind, I didn’t want to listen to anymore cries to clean or pleas to play, but I also did not want to hand wash a Wendy House which the Spiders had, since last Autumn, claimed as their own.
Luckily, those who sit on high in Heavine (c) (yes, I now copyright that word), are part of the Anti-Spider league and were quite happy to arm me in my upcoming maneuvers. Therefore, last I month I received:
As a monkey lover (not like that you dirty boy! Lol!) I have trouble watching films about animals which don’t feature monkeys. After overcoming this initial disappointment, I sat down to watch this Walter Dizzy classic. The story is about a family who have a hundred Dalmation dogs (the ones which look like zebras) and are entering the American version of Crufts- ‘The Abe Lincoln Sponsored Stars And Stripes Canine Appreciation Gala Contest Bonanza For Dog Breeders Featuring Exciting Races, Daring Obstacles, Grooming Awards, And Stalwart Obedience Show!’ or better known as TALSSASCAGCBFDBFERDOGAASOS! The family hear about a loophole that if someone has 101 dogs of the same breed they automatically win the top prize- the Woofey, and a million one dollar bits. Their dogs are mongrels you see- stupid, ugly, and disobedient. The first part of the show is taken up with the family trying to train their dogs to sit, sleep, run, eat, dance, and sing- this leads to some wonderful hits such as ‘Spot The Wrong’un!’, ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’, ‘Barken’, ‘Oh What A Lovely Bone’ and ‘Get Off My Nice Clean Carpet You Dirty Bitch’. Realising their dogs are useless they try to exploit the loop. Most of the film is taken up by the owners and their lovely children trying to get their puppies to mate so that they reach the target of 101- this led to some questionable scenes which young audiences were not prepared for and the eventual ‘disappearances’ of many of the staff. 40 years later a mass burial site was exhumed where a number of bodies of the staff were found- some with bones inserted in the wrong spot (pardon the puns). Bette Davis spices things up a tad with her portrayal of Cruel Fella D’Evil- a local mobster who went mental when her husband was murdered by the Godfather, Don Niro De Pachinko. She hates the sound of dogs, but loves the taste, and has heard an ancient myth which speaks of ‘the flysh of the one hundred and first born pup shall give eternal life to he who shalt feast of it’. She tries to kidnap number 101 (Ploppy) and eat it, but the other dogs set traps up for her around the house, such as messes under the windows, messes on the hallways, and worst of all, messes on the door handles. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it ends by the plot coming to and end and the credits rolling. Although this was filmed about a hundred (and one!) years ago, the graphics and camera-work are very enticing. Disney were the only studio rich enough back then to make their films in colour, which is why this looks so could compared to other rubbish like Castle Blanka. Unfortunately the unsavoury nature of the plot combined with the toilet humour, and the fact that it was basically a remake of the Nazi propaganda film ‘Eine hundert und eine Rettungen’ or 101 Salvations mean that it makes for inappropriate viewing.
Best Scene: Fred Willard’s humorous commentary throughout the various stages of the dog trials- it was one of his first appearances, at the age of 42.
One for spider lovers the world over this is an impressive fusion of genres which, unlike many other movies which use the same tactic, pays off. Funny, tense like Gremlins but scarier, especially if you’re afraid of the hairy little dudes, the story of a small town under attack by killer spiders is one which has never been explored better. Naturally the saviour is a man who has been terrified by spiders since childhood, and Daniels is perfect for the role, as both a father and reluctant hero. Goodman’s brief cameo is many people’s highlight, and the others are all good in tiny roles. The doctor who refuses to believe the story, Daniels’ wife etc all help to add to the small town double intrusion theme. Daniels’ family, like the spiders, are outsiders. Perhaps comparable to The Birds, in that the newcomer seems to herald the outbreak, although in this, we know the spider is brought via the corpse of a reporter. The spider effects are impressive, and the scene with the `spider’ on Daniels’ bedroom wall at night is a classic. So, if you haven’t seen it and are looking for a cheap, genuine laugh with a few scares, this is one of the best of the nineties.
For fans of the movie the DVD is poor, with no features whatsoever. Unforgivable in this day and age of added treats.
Feel free to share your thoughts on the movie, or your scary real life spider stories…
As a fan of the more extreme side of cinema, I ask you to join me, as I explore the history of Cinema's most extreme movies with all the sex, violence and symbolism intact. I'm here to reflect on the extreme movies that have come and gone to see what they mean, see what makes them so extreme, and of course, see if they're any good.