Saturday, July 22, 2006

When I'm slow on the draw and I need something to chaw...

Saturday mornings growing up meant waking up far earlier than I would on a school day so I could enjoy a healthy dose of cartoons. I stuck mostly with ABC, as they showed the various incarnations of "The Superfriends." I'd switch to NBC for some "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends," and in the early years, CBS was the place for watching classic Warner Bros. cartoons. Eventually ABC got that, too, but it wasn't the same.

The networks all had their own vaguely educational interstitial segments, and ABC won my allegiance here, too, if just for "Schoolhouse Rock." Coming in a strong second were the "Time for Timer" spots. I never saw the full-length cartoon from which they spun off, but I enjoyed watching the strange little blob and his obsession with nutrition.

Timer was voiced by Lennie Weinrib, who passed away recently. His voice acting rap sheet was quite long; if you watched Saturday morning TV any time in the 70s and early 80s, you heard him. You can learn more from his friend, the always-cool Mark Evanier.

Here for your amusement (until YouTube yanks them away), I've found the "Time for Timer" spots. Check them out while you can. I saved my favorite for the last one, of course.

You Are What You Eat

Sunshine on a Stick

The Only You You've Got

Quick Snacks

Eat Some Kind of Breakfast Every Day

I Hanker for a Hunk of Cheese

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Journey into Jeff's Brain IV: Revenge of the Wrath of Electric Boogaloo


On my local public television station, KQED, summer brought relief from the stodgy grown-up shows. Their summer programming block was called Vacation Video, and we looked forward to seeing what offerings would be served up every summer.

One that always stuck out in my mind was Vegetable Soup. It reminded me of the programs the local independent channels would show on Sunday mornings like "Hot Fudge" and "Big Blue Marble."

Thanks to YouTube, you can check out the opening credits. The clip was uploaded by Larynxa, who has a metric buttload of other cool clips. Check them out.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Journey into Jeff's Brain III: The Search for Relevance

Colgate Pump

I know I complained about using cool songs for commercials, but I still love this one. To this day, I can't sing the real words to "Baggy Trousers" by Madness. Oh, it starts out that way, but before too long, I hear myself singing "We've got the Colgate pump, we love the Colgate pump..."

Plus, I thought the girl in the checked dress was cute when this first came out.

Toys R Us

While checking out a thrift store years ago, I came across an "I'm a Toys R Us kid" sweatshirt. It remains in the Siftin' archival storage until my son gets old enough to wear it.

Encyclopedia Brittanica

I'd remember this much more fondly if my friends hadn't insisted that the guy in this looked just like me. And boy, what fun it was when on a field trip, we saw an Encyclopedia Brittanica store.

Mego Superheroes

I loved the half-assed descriptions of the various heroes in this lineup of cool toys. The best: "The Falcon...that great black superhero." Like that was the only thing they could think of to say.

It's also pretty clear they had no idea what the Fantastic Four did. "The [Human] Torch...faster than the speed of light!" They did okay with the Thing, but "Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl -- both have the powers of invisibility." Wha-huh?

Tootsie Pop

I once wrote an article for the school newspaper on how many licks it took to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. I think it was something like 971. Fortunately, I had no social life to get in the way of my scientific pursuit.

McDonald's commercial

I still hear the words to this commercial when I hear "Für Elise."

This is Your Brain on Drugs

Despite what anyone else will tell you, I was the first person to make the "Can I get some toast with that?" joke about this commercial. Proven scientific fact.*

* Well, no, not really.

Monday, July 17, 2006

"Shape"-less sequel: Halloween III

It's time again for Bad Movies A to Z. Yes, I know three months haven't passed since the last one, but I guess I'm on a roll (that's why there's butter on my pants). This time around, it's a Halloween movie. "Halloween III: Season of the Witch" has nothing to do with the first two, but that's okay.

The movie in a nutshell: This Michael "The Shape" Myers-less entry in the Halloween series focuses on a deranged toy maker who aims to kill kids everywhere with creepy Halloween masks.

The story: We open in Northern California on Oct. 23. A guy being chased by someone in a car runs down the street. He hides in a junkyard. A guy in a suit starts to strangle him. He smashes his assailant with a car and bolts.

There's a TV news report on the theft of the Bluestone from Stonehenge, followed by a commercial for Silver Shamrock masks.

The commercial jingle is set to the tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down," and ranks right up there with "It's a Small World" for getting stuck in your head and annoying the crap out of you, especially since it gets played about every other minute.

A gas station attendant is watching this when the power cuts out. The guy who was being chased startles him. Before he keels over, he tells the attendant "They're coming." In his hand is a jack o'lantern mask, not unlike one advertised a few minutes earlier on TV.

Elsewhere, Dr. Dan Challis visits his ex-wife. He's got masks for his kids. They already have Silver Shamrock masks and turn on the TV so they can see the commercial.

Dan gets paged; the old guy is admitted to the hospital, and Challis has to go in to work. While he's being filled in on the man's condition, the commercial plays on a nearby TV (that's the third time in less than the first 15 minutes of the movie). He says, "They're going to kill us all!"

The man is sedated and moved to a room. While Challis takes a rest, a suited man -- one of the pursuers -- goes to the old guy's room. He pokes the guy in the eyes and breaks his face from the inside. A nurse sees the assailant leave, and she screams. That wakes up Challis, who goes after the killer. The guy in the suit goes into his car, douses himself with gasoline and blows himself up.

He calls his ex to tell her he can't pick up the kids.

The next day, the man's daughter comes to identify her dad.

Challis checks with a friend at the coroner's office a few days later to get information about the killer.

A few days after that, Challis is in a bar watching TV. There's a commercial for the original Halloween (ha-ha) followed by another commercial for Silver Shamrock. He makes him change it. The old guy's daughter, Ellie Grimbridge, finds Challis and asks if her dad said anything before he died. The new friends decide to figure out who wanted her dad dead.

They head to Santa Mira, where the Silver Shamrock Novelties factory is. Santa Mira is populated by creepy people who stare at cars as they drive by. It's also monitored by cameras.

At the gas station, they pump the attendant for information. They rent a room at the adjacent motel. Challis checks the motel's guestbook and sees that Ellie's dad had been there recently.

Buddy and Betty Kupfer and their son, Little Buddy, come to stay at the motel. On his way to his room, he also sees a pissed-off lady who mutters something about the factory screwing up the order.

In the room, Dan and Ellie kiss. Smooth talker, that one is. Despite looking eerily like the old Brawny paper towels mascot, Challis is one quicker picker-upper.

Santa Mira also has a 6 o'clock curfew, which is broadcast over speakers throughout the city. Somehow there's a store open, and Challis buys some stuff there. He meets some bum in an alley and asks him about Conal Cochran, the head of Silver Shamrock. He also warns Challis about the cameras. Then he rambles about the weird goings-on in the factory and says that he wants to burn it down.

The bum stumbles away to his shanty, singing the Silver Shamrock song. Two guys in suits find him there and rip his head off. Tasty.

Ellie meets shop owner Marge Guttman (the lady Dan saw complaining earlier), who tells her how she has to deal with Silver Shamrock in person, and how the quality control is slipping. The trademark button, she explains, came off the mask.

Dan calls his friend at the coroner's office to ask about the dead murderer. She says that someone screwed up, because the remains were mechanical. Must be part of the car. Hmm...

After their horizontal hula practice, Dan and Ellie hear the Silver Shamrock commercial on the radio. Even Dan's tired of hearing it and he turns it off. Ellie wants more practice. Dan stops her first to ask her old she is. A smooth talker and classy...

In a nearby room, Marge Guttman checks out the Silver Shamrock button and starts poking it with a hairpin.

Bzzzaaat! A beam shoots her in the mouth, which would be bad enough (and it's pretty gross), but then a bug crawls out of her destroyed face.

Dan looks out the window to see guys in white coats taking Marge away. Mr. Cochran is going to care for the woman. In fact, he arrives to tell Dan and Ellie that they have a great facility for emergency treatment at the factory. He asks the motel owner what happened.

"Misfire," he says.

Something weird is going on, Dan surmises. No doy.

It's now Oct. 30. Dan calls his coroner friend. There's no indication that there was a body in the car. Just ashes and car parts. He asks her to find out everything about Cochran. Little does he know that the phone is bugged.

Dan and Ellie go to the factory, where they learn that Ellie's dad picked up an order. As she and Dan go to leave, they bump into the Kupfer family. They have an appointment to see Cochran because Buddy has sold the most Silver Shamrock masks in the whole country. Cochran apologizes to Dan and Ellie for the events of the previous night and says that Marge has been flown to a hospital in SF.

They are invited to take the factory tour with the Kupfers. They see how the masks are made and all that stuff. Call me kooky, but why are they still making masks the day before Halloween? Getting a jump on next year?

Little Buddy wants a mask. Cochran makes a point to give him one that has gone through "final processing." It's got the button on the back. Big Buddy asks about the final process. Cochran says no, citing safety concerns and trade secrets.

Challis notices those creepy guys standing around. He and Ellie take off. Ellie sees her dad's car. Before she can check it out, she's blocked by the creepy security guys.

At the motel, Dan tries to make a call but can't. Back at the room, Ellie has vanished. A group of the creepy guys is outside, and they break in. Dan runs away. The Odd Squad has taken Ellie to the factory. Dan finds a pay phone and again gets a recorded message. He takes off again.

He sneaks into the factory somehow and starts poking around. He sees an old lady in a room knitting. He asks her where Ellie is, but she doesn't answer. He shakes her and her head falls off. She's a machine. One of the suits attacks him, and he fights back. They're all machines, he discovers.

Cochran comes in. He knows who Dan is, and he says that Ellie is resting. Two goons haul him away.

It's Halloween now.

Should you want to rent this and you don't want to know how it ends, stop now. If you don't care, or if you just have to know how movies end even if you're going to see them yourself, keep on truckin'.

Challis is taken to the final processing room. Cochran starts talking about the masks. He says that Challis still has time to figure it all out. They walk into a room filled with computers. Also in the room is the missing stone from Stonehenge. The stone has a power in it, he says. Each button has a tiny pebble from the stone in it.

Cochran shows him where Ellie is -- strapped to a table. In another room is Marge's body. Cochran says that Challis needs to see a demonstration. The Kupfers -- still there, at the crack of dawn, I guess -- are taken to a "test room." Dan watches the events unfold on a monitor in the control room.

The commercial comes on the TV and tells Little Buddy to put on his mask.

"Watch the magic pumpkin!"

The flashing pumpkin graphic has a strange effect on the kid. He grabs his head and falls forward. Inexplicably, snakes and bugs pour from his misshapen head. Soon, the whole family is dead.

After it's over, Dan is taken away.

All across the country, kids are wearing the masks. The big giveaway is coming up at 9. The kids are instructed to have their masks on for the big surprise.

Dan's coroner friend tries to call him at the motel. It rings a few times and then she gets the automated message. She calls a guy named Roger -- she's found something. One of the creepy robot guys lurks nearby. It doesn't look good when he grabs a drill. Just as she figures out what the machinery is for, the guy attacks her with the drill. Scratch one coroner's office friend.

7:30 p.m.: Dan is strapped to a chair. He's going to be forced to watch the giveaway with a mask on. He asks Cochran why he's doing this. It's a joke, he says. A joke on all the children. Then he talks about the origins of Halloween and the festival of Samhain. The planets are aligned; the world is going to change.

He wishes Dan a happy Halloween and leaves the room. By now, it's almost 10 till 8; the movie "Halloween" is on. Dan breaks the TV with his feet -- apparently the screen was made of candy glass -- and frees himself. He lobs the mask onto the surveillance camera in his room. It's now 8:11; less than an hour before the giveaway. Dan escapes through air ducts and heads to the warehouse. He calls his ex-wife and tries to warn her about the masks. She hangs up on him.

Dan finds Ellie and tries to free her. Cochran sends some robot lackeys to catch them. They sneak into the control room. Dan grabs a Silver Shamrock button from a box and plays the giveaway commercial on the monitors. While it plays, he takes the box of buttons, goes up to a catwalk and dumps them over the side, which shorts out all the robots. Cochran is still standing, but something weird starts happening. The circle of computers glows. He sees Dan and Ellie up in the catwalk and give them a golf clap as if to say "Well played."

A beam flashes from the giant stone and disintegrates Cochran. The control room and the rest of the factory go up in flames. Dan and Ellie escape in a car. It's almost 9. Dan says they have to do something. Ellie tries to attack him. She's a robot! He drives into a tree and has to fight off the Elliebot with a tire iron. He knocks her head off. He sits back in the car, and one of the bot's arms tries to strangle him. He breaks its grip and throws it away.

Dan runs to a gas station -- the one from the beginning of the movie -- and asks to use the phone. He's trying to stop the giveaway promo from being shown. The TV stations begin to show technical difficulties screens. There's still one channel showing it. Dan shouts "Stop it! Stop it! Stop iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!"

The end.

Afterthoughts: What the hell?

So a renowned toy maker/prankster has stolen one of the stones from Stonehenge and has brought it to his factory in California where he takes small pebbles from it and puts them into buttons that will go on Halloween masks. These buttons will be triggered by a TV signal, at which time, they bring forth bugs and snakes from the head of the masks' unlucky wearers.

While that makes no sense whatsoever, I think it's great. You've got to give them credit. Sometimes things are scary just because they make no rational sense.

However, there is a tiny problem. Cochran's plan is to kill all the children wearing the Silver Shamrock masks. Okay, I'll even grant that these are the most popular masks despite the rather plain designs. But the big ending cliffhanger depends on if Dan can get the third channel to stop showing the commercial. But they've already shown kids wearing masks in all parts of the country, even the east coast.

So even if Dan stopped the commercial from airing locally in Santa Mira, what about the kids in the other three time zones? Nine o'clock had already passed there. If a bunch of kids ended up dying while watching this commercial, wouldn't someone important have made the connection? Or are we to believe that everyone is dead, including adults and those who didn't buy the masks?

And at what point did Ellie become a robot? I'd assume that once Cochran kidnapped her, he killed her and replaced her with a robot. That way, even if Dan escaped, he'd still have a way to get him. But that's an awful lot of work for a bunch of ifs. He would've had to have created a robot that looked just like Ellie in the course of hours solely in case he caught Dan and Dan subsequently escaped but decided to look for her. Plus, why wouldn't she have stopped him when he was destroying the factory?

So maybe she was a bot the whole time? It would've been cool, but I don't think so. Even ignoring her display of emotions and her amorous encounters with Dan, we see her showering by herself. Amazing the robots might be, but given that Dan later punches one and rips out his innards, they don't seem to be sturdy enough to be watertight.

Obviously, I've just done more thinking than was probably expected of people who wanted to watch this.

It's a bit slow, but the effects scenes punch things up a bit. The scene where Marge Guttman gets lasered in the face is pretty gruesome. Still, it's a decent enough way to pass some time. It's not rocket science, but it's not aggressively stupid.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

On the five-year program: 'Graduation Day'

Well, here it is, the 200th post. And what better way to celebrate spotty updating than the latest installment in the Bad Movies From A to Z series? We're up to G, and our pick is the 1981 horror film, "Graduation Day," with Christopher George, Patch MacKenzie and brief appearances by Vanna White and Linnea Quigley.

The movie in a nutshell: After a high school track star dies from a heart attack at a meet, a mysterious figure starts bumping off other members of the team. Who is it? To prolong the "suspense," everyone acts creepy for no reason other than to look suspicious.

The story: Less than two minutes into the movie, and it's pissing me off already. There's a track event in progress. The action cuts damn near every second. I guess it's supposed to build suspense or curiosity.

I was practically raised on the so-called "MTV-style" cuts, but those at least have some kind of focus. This is just cut here, cut there, back to here, over there, etc. It's very distracting, especially when there are shots of a gymnast (indoors, no less) intercut. Sloppy.

What I almost missed: Laura Ramstead, a runner for Midvale, runs herself to death, prodded in part by her coach, George Michaels (played with Shatnerian ferocity by Christopher George).

Some time later, a woman in a Navy uniform (Patch MacKenzie) hitches a ride to town. She's holding an article about the girl's death and ignoring the driver's feeble pickup lines.

"What's the matter? Cat got your tongue? It's okay, I got plenty tongue for both of us."

We only see her legs initially, but when she tires of his talk, she first grabs his manberries and then his Ralph Furley castoff neckerchief. He calms down.

She sees a girl running down the street and asks to get out of the truck. She watches the girl cross the street and jog through a park.

Uh-oh. We see a mysterious figure (henceforth to be referred to as TMF) who holds a stopwatch in a black gloved hand. TMF catches up to the runner and slits her throat. He stops the watch at 30 seconds. This will happen at every murder, so it must be important.

The camera lingers on the dead girl's behind for no apparent reason other than it's there.

Back at school, the track team is preparing to get a picture taken for the newspaper. They're waiting for Paula, who I assume is the park victim. While they're waiting, one of the team members makes a crack about how many of them were supposed to make it through the year alive. Coach Michaels tells him he's out of line. They take the picture without Paula.

Navy Girl visits her mom. Turns out she's Anne Ramstead, Laura's sister. Anne is met with nothing but cartoonish disdain from Ronald, her stepdad.

Up in Laura's room, Ronald says that since he raised Laura like his own, he ought to be getting the award that is to be presented to Anne. To make sure we get that Ronald doesn't like Anne, he calls her names and threatens to slap her.

At this point, the captioning locked, so I had to actually listen to people. Seriously, this is the worst captioning I've ever seen on a DVD. Even when it's working, things are misspelled, and the punctuation is horrible.

TMF crosses Paula off on a picture of the track team that he has in a locker. The captioning seems to have caught up again.

Sally walks through a park, possibly the same one Paula was in. She runs into Anne, who is looking for the school auditorium. Anne notices the necklace Sally wears -- she got it as a track award -- and then she tells Sally that she has lovely eyes. "My sister had lovely eyes like yours. She's dead, though."

Not too creepy, is it?

In the auditorium, the principal, Mr. Guglione, is trying to gain control of the graduation practice. While he prattles on, Anne -- and her impossibly thin waist -- walks in. He introduces Anne as a special guest and mentions that during the actual graduation, there will be a moment of silence for Laura.

Anne meets Kevin, who was Laura's boyfriend, who was also a high school senior, despite pushing 30. They talk, but not about much.

Sally heads to the locker room, where she gets changed into a leotard. The lights go out, and she does the requisite walk slowly and ask who's there thing. She's startled by two other girls. She tries to tell them that a door just closed (TMF, perhaps?), but she sees no one there.

One of the girls is Vanna White, letter turner extraordinaire. Something I didn't know: According to IMDB, Vanna's uncle is Christopher George. Coincidence or psychic phenomenon? You be the judge.

Coach Michaels is also the gymnastics coach, apparently, as well as a grade-A asshat. He bullies a reluctant Sally into doing her routine for a newspaper photographer. She falls. Coach Michaels first chews out Sally for screwing up, and then yells at the photog for defending her. Sally does her routine again while the coach appears to be leaving eyeprints on her butt. The photographer seems skeeved out by the coach's expression, but he continues to snap pictures.

Elsewhere, TMF crosses out Sally's picture. Sally falls again and the coach throws out the photog.

TMF lurks about while Sally shaves her legs at the locker room sink.

"This is for you, Coach," she says into the mirror with a sneer. "Sit on it and rotate."


She sees TMF in the mirror, and he's holding a fencing foil that he thrusts through her neck.

Cut to the music teacher, Mr. Roberts. From the way the girls are acting, he's supposed to be Joe Cool, but he looks like Jerry Lewis midway through a Labor Day telethon in 1976. He tells Dolores (Linnea Quigley) that she's not going to pass. She tries to change his mind by popping her top. So far as I've seen, none of the girls at this school wears a bra.

Not a complaint, mind you. Just an observation.

In the principal's office, Mr. Guglione calls in his secretary, Blondie. He dumps a bunch of crap work on her and tries to gloss it over by macking on her. After Blondie leaves, he cuts an apple with a switchblade, one of many that he keeps in his desk drawer.

Mr. Roberts is singing by himself -- I guess Dolores "passed" already -- and he hears an odd noise that he feels compelled to investigate. He bumps into the coach, who doesn't hear the strange tapping noises.

Roberts goes into the boiler room, which is dimly lit to comply with the Creepy-Ass Boiler Room Act of 1971. Someone plays a tape of him "tutoring" Dolores. Roberts finds the tape player and sees two kids running out.

Dolores and her pal are hanging out on a bench smoking some ganja. They get caught by Officer McGregor, who asks them if they want to get in trouble a week before graduation. Since someone else already established that graduation is the next day, I'm a bit puzzled.

McGregor decides to surreptitiously light up his confiscated reefer with matches from 7-Eleven. This isn't important to the plot, but the matchbook design matches (no pun intended) my beloved 7-Eleven smock, which I guess gives you an idea of how old the thing is.

According to the nameplate on his door, Coach Michaels is also the woodworking teacher. Anne goes into his office, but it's empty. Some of the equipment in the woodshop starts up by itself. Michaels runs in and turns the machines off.

Anne accuses him of killing Laura by pushing too hard. He tries to defend himself, to no avail.

"We'll meet again, Roberts."

No. 32 is practicing while running through the park by the school. He bumps into Vanna and her friend. His football gets tossed into the trees. TMF spikes the football -- he puts a giant spike on the front, no lie -- and passes it to the football player, who catches it blade-first right in the gut. TMF crosses him out of the track picture.

Kevin is playing backup harmonica at some hootenanny going on. Kids these days and their hippie music. Out in the halls, which are decorated with pictures of the Beatles and Prince John from the Disney version of "The Jungle Book," kids are hanging out and talking.

Coach Michaels gets in a tiff with some weirdo who tells him not to treat him like crap because "I can hurt you bad if I put my mind to it."

What, like he's going to wish him to the cornfield or something?

Nice transition, eh?

It's time for roller boogie at the school, where they managed to get Felony to play. Oh God, this just smacks of late-70s crapitude. It almost physically hurts. The members of Felony wear makeup, which is supposed to make them rawknroll.

This is a good time to take a break and grab a snack. Hope I don't miss anything.

Okay, I've got some sustenance. Looks like Dolores and her pal Tony are making out in the park outside. The guy breaks away to take a leak and is beheaded in almost total darkness. I had to look again to see if that's what happened. TMF hops out of the bushes in full regalia -- sweatsuit and fencing mask. He chases Dolores with his giant sword and catches a break when she falls. Bye-bye, Dolores.

Tony's mom calls the principal and says that Tony hasn't come home. Guglione reluctantly takes the call. Some other kids didn't make it home either, but they're good kids -- all from the same track team.


Inspector Halliday comes to talk to Mr. Guglione about the missing kids. Guglione says they're probably out raising hell. Guglione: "Why are their parents so upset?" Halliday tells McGregor to make his report -- and hurry because he's claustrophobic. Or Closter phobic, if the captioning is to be believed.

A pole vaulter for no apparent reason decides to get in some practice and lands on a bad of spikes. Oh noes!

Halliday (or Helliman, sez the captions) asks Coach Michaels if he knows anything about the missing kids. He says he doesn't. He's also been fired, so he has to pack. After Halliday leaves, we see a picture of the team on the coach's desk, and in the drawer, there's a stopwatch, black gloves, and a track medal. You don't think...

Okay, if you don't want to know how the movie ends, stop reading right here. The killer is eventually revealed, and while it doesn't go exactly the way one might expect, it's still pretty dumb.

Last chance.

Still want to know, eh? OK, here's the rest:

Vanna and her pal Joanne are in the locker room talking about something when Vanna sees blood oozing out of a locker near hers. A dead and bloody Sally falls out of the locker. Michaels sees this and pulls a foil out of the locker. Just when you think he's going to do some slicing and dicing, Kevin comes in to stop him.

Michaels escapes Kevin's grip and runs off. The cops arrive with Anne in tow. She's concerned about Kevin. Halliday holds up the picture of the track team. He asks Anne if she knows who they are.

"Yes. It's the track team." Who'da thunk, what with them posing on the track and everything.

Michaels bolts off into the park, and Kevin follows him in despite getting outside too late to see him go in. Oddly, he not only catches up but gets ahead of him enough to ambush him. By this point, Anne is there, dutifully minding her purse and telling Kevin that he can't do this by himself.

The coach trips over the football player, and Kevin catches up to him. Coach says it's all a mistake. Kevin tells Michaels that "you killed Laura. You all killed her! And now you all have gotta be punished."

Kevin goes on to explain that his life was changed in 30 seconds. He and Laura were going to marry after graduation. A fight ensues. Halliday catches up to them and, thinking Michaels is the culprit, shoots him dead. Kevin has gotten away with it.

When Anne goes to the school's office to pick up the trophy for Laura, she finds out that Kevin already came to claim it. Anne goes to Kevin's house to see what's going on. Up in his room, she sees a girl wearing a graduation cap. She begins to apologize, but when she walks in front of the girl, she discovers that it's her sister, dug up and dressed in cap and gown.

Kevin has apparently taken a nasty spill off the reality wagon. Maybe he's having his midlife crisis or something. He says they're still going to get married. A scuffle ensues.

Oh, you've got to be kidding me.

After Kevin takes a swipe at Anne with a knife, Laura's spring-loaded body knocks Kevin out the window. Anne goes to check on him, and he walks back in the house, carrying Laura's body. Anne runs away, and we're treated to intercuts of Laura's last race.

Anne's on the field. She's at the 40, the 30... in heels, no less.

She sits on the steps to the stands. Kevin has caught up to her, and Anne busts some horribly fake looking martial-arts moves on him. Under the bleachers, Stabby McStabberson keeps on trying to kill Anne. She kicks him in the nads in slow motion and bolts.

Oh, for crap's sake...

She pushes him away, and he impales himself on the spikes sticking out of one of the victims he stashed down there.

Later, Anne's packing up. She's got a plane to catch the next morning. While Anne sleeps, the door opens. Is it Kevin is back to finish the job? Looks like it, but as the lights go on, we find that it's just Ronald, drunk off his Heineken. False alarm. She was just hallucinating.

In the morning, Anne takes a cab and as she passes the sign that says "Happy Graduation Day," the movie ends.

Afterthoughts: Oy.

You know, for all the complaints, it's not that horrible. There are some things you just accept as conventions of the genre. I don't expect Oscar-caliber acting, lavish production values or a thought-provoking story. If you get them, great. But I don't get too disappointed.

Better gore effects would've been nice, but I understand that there are budget constraints. I guess what really makes me wonder, not just about this particular movie, but B Cinema in general, is what exactly the people who made this thought they were bringing. Was it just to make money? Was it a love of movies? Sometimes, you just don't know.

"Graduation Day," with a few tweaks, could've been much better. Just off the top of my head, even one change would have been a great improvement.

When the cop shoots Coach Michaels and asks Kevin to make a statement, just end the scene with a closeup of the deranged Kevin and dissolve to the next shot, which could've been a closeup of Kevin holding someone's hand. Pan up to show that it's Laura in either cap and gown or wedding gown. Show the back of the car, which has cans tied to the back. Across the back window, it reads "Just Married." They drive off into the sunset and the movie ends.

For that to really work, Kevin needs to be shown to be nuts a little sooner, but it would be a memorable ending. "Sleepaway Camp" was a mildly interesting horror flick, but it's the ending that everyone remembers. If you haven't seen it, go rent it.

Another problem I had was the arbitrary decision as to who the killer was. It really could've been anyone based on what we were given. It's like they flipped a coin or drew straws to pick the killer.

The DVD presentation is pretty lackluster; there aren't many chapter stops, and the picture looks pretty muddy, especially in the darker scenes. As I mentioned before, the captioning on this was laughable. But if you're not expecting archival quality and just want something to watch while you inhale some pizza and beer, you're all set.

If you grew up renting movie like this, you'll appreciate it. It would do pretty well for a group viewing/mocking. I've seen worse.

Heck, I own worse.