Archive for April 2021

The Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Pinocchio Commercial…

April 27, 2021



It’s been called “nightmare fuel,” extremely disturbing, and creepy; the Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Pinnochio Commercial, that is!  There is something not quite right about the skin tones, enormous eyes, and jointed arms of our CGI Pinocchio depicted; this is truly something terribly apart from nature.  He may “dance without strings,” but we only want to dance away from him, and quickly. – – Geppetto, how could you do this to us?!   Yes, there’s a bug in this commercial, and for me, he’s the highlight…

Now our marionette-boy is so bowled over by the taste of Coke Zero Sugar that his creator and cricket companion Jiminey don’t seem to believe his raves over the drink, telling Pinnochio that if he keeps lying, he’ll never be a real boy. They seem persuaded, however, upon trying the product.  “I never lie,” maintains Pinnochio. This, of course, is a lie, and causes the would-be boy’s nose to grow to tree-limb length across the room.  We really didn’t need to see this, and the Geico commercials of a few years back handled Pinnochio in a more clever fashion.

Geppetto looks younger and more vigorous than his Disney counterpart in this commercial airing, and I like the treatment of Jiminey Cricket as a fully-fledged anthropomorphic insect, minus the Disney hat, umbrella, and moralizing but complete with the proper number of six rather than Disney’s four limbs. – – This bug could go places if he doesn’t break into singing When You Wish Upon A Star.  So lose the “boy,” but the bug’s a keeper…

 


Nasty Vegetation…

April 11, 2021

  
It’s one thing to be made as a child to eat your vegetables.  It’s entirely different when vegetation appears to want to eat you!

Plant or plant-like monsters are relatively rare in science fiction, with notable exceptions such as The Thing, The Triffids, and Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors. Some plant-creatures can even be heroic and self-sacrificing, such as Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy.  

Not so are the allergen creatures featured in recent Flonase commercials. One gargantuan thing emerges directly from the Earth in a park, causing pandemonium among the park-goers. It’s a lawn monster, not to be confused with a lawn mower, and the thing roars and spews pollen, dander, and other debris, equipped with a fearsome set of teeth. The featured guy is not perturbed, however, calmly continuing to eat his ice cream. Such spectacles are just part of the passing parade for him, ’cause he’s had his Flonase…

In another commercial, a flower-monster is terrorizing a city, spewing massive amounts of pollen and roaring while city dwellers take to their heels. I must confess that I’ve always wanted to be an extra in scenes such as this, totally losing it and running terrified away from Godzilla or something similar while screaming!  Here again, a lady is totally nonplussed, calmly reading a book while the floral monster makes mayhem. She even sticks a flower in her hair…take that, allergies!

Allergies don’t have to be scary, you see, if you use Flonase…and just to be safe, eat your veggies and spray your weeds before they eat you! 🦊

In Praise of Dark Bunnies…

April 3, 2021

  
With Easter upon us, it’s easy to think of rabbits as all sweetness and light, cuteness incarnate, the Easter Bunny thing.  I prefer my rabbits to have a dark side, however, with a bit of muscularity and the potential for the unpredictable thrown in.  That’s right…I like my bunnies bad!  

Bad bunnies can play havoc with our expectations of them, like The Rabbit as portrayed by Joey Fatone on Season 1 of The Masked Singer.  He had a wonderful, “fresh from the asylum” vibe to him, and I’ll never hear Livin’ La Vida Loca the same way again after seeing Rabbit’s electrifying stage performance of it.  

  

If you search, you can find rabbits who don’t fit the passive, submissive mold, like Hugh Jackman’s Aussie E. Aster Bunnymund in the Rise of the Guardians movie.  That was an Easter Bunny who was great with children, but could also kick some serious…ahem, tail.

  

The 2001 science fiction/psychological thriller film Donnie Darko featured a disturbing, nightmarish rabbit, Frank, who could certainly haunt your dreams…

  

So with many more examples possible from medieval manuscripts (below) onwards, just remember that rabbits are not all the timid, wimpy, sanitized creatures that we see paraded around at this season, but rather a strong, adaptable, successful, and resilient species…and a Happy Easter, y’all…or else!    

  
   

Of Mermen, Monsters, and Madness: “Cold Skin”

April 1, 2021

I don’t often review films here, but when alternative life forms are involved, I’m on board! Cold Skin by Director Xavier Gens based on a book of the same name is a French-Spanish collaborative 2017/18 effort that checks off so many boxes that it’s both challenging and astonishing. The film crosses the genres of science fiction, horror, suspense, and is a period piece set in 1914. It’s been compared to Lovecraft meets Jules Verne, kind of a “first contact” film involving evolved intelligent amphibious life.

Now we’ve seen some things in a similar vein, most recently The Shape of Water although you could look as far back as The Creature from the Black Lagoon. In Cold Skin, World War I is brewing as a young British “weather observer” (meteorologist) is dropped off at a remote island in the south Atlantic, his only other human companion the operator of a lighthouse there. “You should have stayed on the boat,” the weatherman named “Friend” is told by the gruff lighthouse keeper, Gruner, who has been on the island entirely too long. We soon learn that legions of humanoid amphibious creatures emerge nightly from the sea to attack the humans stationed there, an invasion which the lighthouse keeper has learned to repel from his crudely fortified lighthouse with firearms, fire, and edged weapons.

His desire to exterminate the amphibious humanoids has not stopped the lighthouse keeper from “taming” one of them and keeping her as kind of a pet who he abuses physically and sexually…yes, mer-rape rears it’s ugly head here! The film chronicles the evolution of the “weather observer” from frightened pacifist to survivalist to sympathizer with the mermen/women, all set against the growing madness spawned by harsh isolation and incomprehensible threats.

The submissive female creature, named Aneris (Spanish for “siren” spelled backwards) is an extraordinary feat of makeup, requiring hours of work to transform actress Aura Garrido into an amphibious mermaid with occluded ears, nostrils, and membraneous eyes. In spite of her full body makeup, our mermaid despite lack of articulate speech projects a greater range of emotion than does her human abuser, raising again the classic question of who is actually the real monster. The film shows us the madness of war through the microcosm of a small yet isolated island where extraordinary things are taking place…

If Cold Skin fails In any way, it may be because the film perhaps tries to be and accomplish too much, but it makes a truly memorable effort. It was easy to miss this film in theaters, but Cold Skin may currently be seen on Amazon Prime, and I give it two paws up… 🦊