Appointment With Fear

“I don’t want to go out like that. I mean, when I die I wanna look pretty, I want to go down into the ground clean, one piece.”


Sometimes a good movie producer is a mastermind. Other times they don’t have an artistic vision themselves, but they have an eye for up and coming talent, for how to nurture them, give them opportunities to shine, protect them, help them bring their vision to life. Maybe Moustapha Akkad was one or all of those things, or maybe he just got really fuckin lucky and the kid he chose to direct “The Babysitter Murders” happened to be a genius who turned the gig into HALLOWEEN, a timeless horror masterpiece and the highest grossing independent movie of all time. I have no idea.

Whatever Akkad’s deal was, he never hit another one out of the park like the first HALLOWEEN. Eight of his twelve credits are on HALLOWEEN movies, none of them half as good as Carpenter’s. But I didn’t know what to expect from his one non-HALLOWEEN horror production, 1985’s APPOINTMENT WITH FEAR.

It’s not on streaming or on DVD in the U.S. IThere is a PAL disc from Spain, but it’s currently listed at $134.33 + $3.95 shipping on Amazon. I rented it on VHS, and when I picked up the box I noticed an obvious red flag: “Directed by Alan Smithee.” But as time passes there are fewer and fewer promising slasher movies that haven’t been discovered by me, Arrow, Vinegar Syndrome, Code Red or somebody, so when I’m slasher searching these days I gotta take risks. Mr. Smithee in this case is Ramsey/Ramzi Thomas, a script consultant for LION OF THE DESERT (a 1980 historical epic directed by Akkad), here working as director for the first and last time.

There’s a parallel to the HALLOWEEN sequels in APPOINTMENT WITH FEAR’s emotionless, indestructible killer (Garrick Dowhen, LAND OF DOOM) relentlessly trying to kill a family member. In this case it’s his baby, for ritualistic purposes. We’re told he’s “Attis, King of the Woods” and has to kill his offspring to be king for another year. (Not sure what he plans to do to renew his subscription the year after that.) He’s indestructible because, though he appears to be there in a corporeal sense, we’re told he’s actually in a coma at a mental hospital. He can project himself somehow. Or, as one of the other patients puts it, “he has long arms.” (You may recognize that patient as Mike Gomez, the “I’ll just check with the boys down at the crime lab” cop from THE BIG LEBOWSKI.)

There’s a loner guy who knows about Attis and tries to stop him. Instead of his doctor, like Loomis, he’s a police detective named Kowalski (Douglas Rowe, CRITTERS 2). Like Loomis he’s got an old time private eye vibe. No trenchcoat, but he wears a fedora.

As is tradition, a group of young women and some boyfriends have a small party – “All the girls getting together before graduation” – and get attacked by the guy, with one central young woman seeming to have more awareness of the threat and trying to do something about it.

Although it might sound on paper like something along the lines of HALLOWEEN, every single thing they put on top of this skeleton makes it something entirely different. That’s largely a bad thing, because everything about the filmmaking – from the acting to the pacing to the synth score to the cinematography by Nicholas von Sternberg (DOLEMITE, DISCO 9000, X-RAY, NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER 2) – seems like amateur hour compared to HALLOWEEN. Or by regular standards. But also everything about the movie is five degrees more weird than your usual HALLOWEEN ripoff, intentionally so, I think, and mercifully not winky about it. It really seems like Thomas was hired to make a normal horror movie but he kept asking how he could make each element quirkier than expected. It’s not any scarier than most of the obscure only-on-VHS stuff I can still find these days, but it’s a hell of alot more interesting. Though it doesn’t feel like a legit horror movie, it’s at least a distinct one.

In the opening, Attis stabs his wife to death, but before he gets to her she manages to hand off her baby to a random young woman named Heather (Kerry Remsen, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2, PUMPKINHEAD, GHOULIES II). “Can I keep him? Just for the night?” Heather later asks her friend. “Since the accident” Heather “has been so tense, frightened,” we’re told, and I don’t know if that’s supposed to explain why she wears blue face paint around her eyes, looking kinda like Pris in BLADE RUNNER or Furiosa in FURY ROAD. She’s introduced doing mime for her grandpa’s birthday party while her friend Carol (Michele Little, RADIOACTIVE DREAMS, MY DEMON LOVER, MYSTERY DATE, APOLLO 13) sits in the bed of her pickup truck, smiling and recording their conversations with spy equipment and a boombox.

If there’s an explanation for why Carol surveils people I missed it. I think it’s just one of the quirky things these characters do, and I like that about it. We also meet “Mr. Personality himself” Bobby (Michael Wyle, VALLEY GIRL), a dude in a trenchcoat with a dangly earring who shows up at Carol’s place to try to hassle her into dating him. He drives a motorcycle with a mannequin in the sidecar.

Also Carol allows a “bum” named Norman (Danny Dayton, “Syd” from THE DARK BACKWARD) to live in the back of her pickup because “he’s gotta live somewhere,” driving around with him, saying hello to him when she sees him, like he’s just her neighbor. Very nice of her (though it gets him killed).

These characters are pretty funny, intentionally so. When Carol tells Bobby (in her odd, flirtatious way) the van parked across the street is a guy who’s been following her, he gets on his motorcycle just to drive across the street, pop one of its tires, and come back. “You see, you got nothing to fear. That van’s indefinitely immobilized.” Then he asks if he can go to her party and when she says “Nope” he jokes, “That’s all right, I’ll just follow you, you can’t stop me.”

“Excuse me,” she says. He watches as she walks over, pops a tire on his sidecar and hands him the screwdriver she did it with. “Bye.” I thought this made her pretty cool, and he definitely agrees. He tells her he loves her.

I can’t believe they used that shitty knife painting for the U.S. cover when they also had art like this!

The gathering is at a cool location – Heather’s mom’s rich boyfriend Georgie’s “dream house in the canyon… built by a very famous architect.” Their friend Ruth (Deborah Voorhees, AVENGING ANGEL, FRIDAY THE 13TH: A NEW BEGINNING) gets there early, has a slice of cheese, gets creeped out by the antique doll collection, goes for a topless swim, and gets stabbed by Attis. Cut to shots of the pool, the pianos, a statue, the kitchen, the hot tub, the rec room, her dead face, a doll’s face. (Pure Smithee.)

Bobby does show up and, after first pointing an assault rifle (or something with a banana clip, I don’t know guns) to his head, Carol seems to be happy he’s there. Pretty soon there’s a scene where they play flirtatious hide and seek, start going at it on the floor, and it pans up to the creepy antique doll again. Fuckin pervert doll. When they’re done they discover a modern dance troupe performing around a May pole out back (also with blue eye strips and other face paint). It turns out to be set up by their friend Cowboy (Vincent Barbour, “Jock #2,” MY SCIENCE PROJECT), who seems like a redneck jock guy but comes in and dances with the troupe. Interesting guy.

(Choreographers/lead dancers: Erica Jordan and Mark Lawrence)

Eventually Attis starts attacking them and it turns into a siege. He leaps through the window as if thrown through it. Carol uses gas from her truck to light him on fire – he just stands there calmly and burns and then mystically steps out of the flames, as if leaving his own body.

My favorite thing about Kowalski is that there are two different scenes where he tosses a cigarette into his car and almost catches it on fire. The second time he’s stopped in the middle of nowhere because a dog (controlled by Attis?) is blocking the road. Then the car starts rolling backward down the road on its own and explodes. I don’t know how to do this scene justice – he just stands there and watches it happen, it’s very deadpan. I love it.

Bobby continues to travel on the motorcycle with the mannequin in the sidecar throughout the movie. Toward the end he picks up Kowalski, who is familiar with the mannequin and just climbs in with it. I started to suspect that Carol would use the mannequin as a decoy at some point, and we’d be able to laugh imagining that they wanted to do a scene with a mannequin and the way they reverse engineered it into the script was to have a character to have a mannequin with him at all times for no reason. It doesn’t happen though. So we’ll just have to stick with laughing that a character has a mannequin with him at all times for no reason.

Same goes for the spy equipment. She does sort of use it to try to listen for Attis outside of the cabin, but it doesn’t end up being important. It’s just her thing. Doesn’t need a narrative purpose.

At the end Attis tries to do some kind of a King of the Forest ritual with the baby and a tree. Carol shoots him even though he’s holding the baby. Doesn’t work. But Kowalski says “Use the pole, Carol.” Not even loud enough for her to hear, so it really does seem like an Obi Wan/“Use the Force, Luke” thing. She impales him, he explodes into a shower of leaves, and flowers bloom on the tree. Despite some boring exposition scenes earlier I feel like there was some mythology that didn’t get explained enough.

The screenplay is credited to Gideon Davis (no other movies) and Bruce Meade, who seems to have been most associated with director Jonathan Kaplan – assistant on HEART LIKE A WHEEL, played a corpse in his episode of Fallen Angels, story credit on his episode of Rebel Highway, second unit producer on BAD GIRLS, writer of his episode of Picture Windows, second unit director for the pilot of In Cold Blood and for BROKEDOWN PALACE. He was also assistant director on Jim Wynorski’s THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING.

Akkad’s son Malek got his first movie credit as a p.a. on this one. Ten years later he became an associate producer on the HALLOWEEN movies, and he took over as producer after his father’s death in a 2005 terrorist bombing.

The credits tell us that score composer Andrea Saparoff programmed the music on a Fairlight CMI, a competitor to the Synclavier that coined the word “sampling” and was used by Herbie Hancock, Thomas Dolby and Peter Gabriel, among others. Stevie Wonder used it to play Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants on tour, though not on the album. Jan Hammer was a spokesperson, and used it on the Miami Vice theme (and in the video). But it became so associated with artificiality that Phil Collins specified on the liner notes of No Jacket Required that he did not use one. Sort of like Jay-Z’s “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune).”

Saparoff became a prolific composer for commercials and has three albums of catalog music: Harmonic Journeys, Bottles Strings and Found Things and Motivational Minimalism. She also did the score for OUTSIDE THE LAW starring Cynthia Rothrock.

Thomas never directed again, but whatever it was that led to him taking his name off of this, it doesn’t seem to have ended his relationship with Akkad – he’s credited as a producer on HALLOWEEN 5. Later he was a line producer on BOILING POINT and STARGATE, but that was it.

I wish at least some of the horror stuff in this worked, because combined with the oddness and quirk and the likable lead I think that would be enough to make it a minor gem. As it is, I do think it’s unusual enough to be worthy of a nice restoration by one of the aforementioned labels.

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 21st, 2021 at 4:51 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

29 Responses to “Appointment With Fear”

  1. Screw you, Phil Collins! The Fairlight was awesome and good enough for Sesame Street!

  2. Apparently that note was on the NO JACKET REQUIRED sleeve to indicate that the strings and horns were real, so maybe it was more that they were, or were in 1985 considered to be, so convincing that PC* wanted people to know the real instruments were on there.

    Or given that Peter Gabriel was the UK’s most prominent advocate of the Fairlight (supposedly a SOUTH BANK SHOW on the making of his 1982 album had every grammar school boy discussing it wistfully in the playground\schoolyard the next morning) perhaps there was some inter-Genesis lead singer resentment going on (I believe they had an amicable but slightly frosty relationship at the time as PG felt PC* had not given enough acknowledgement to his drumming-for-hire job on PG’s song Intruder kind of inventing that In the Air Tonight sound)

    *Note to self; explore Genesis\TOP CAT mash-up reboot options.

  3. There was a lot of snobbery about digital instruments early on. Queen used to put “No synths!” in their liner notes. Oddly, their analogue counterparts like Mellotrons tended to be better respected, maybe because they were harder to work with.

  4. Yeah, when Synthesizers came out and became more popular, there was this whole “This isn’t a real instrument!” movement, kinda how it always happens when something electronic enters a certain profession. Think “Real DJs only play vinyl”, “Sampling is just stealing real musicians’ music” or “Daft Punk just made a whole Funk & Soul album with songwriting legends like Paul Williams, but they are robots, so better listen to Foo Fighters”. It’s basically the “fUcK cGi We WaNt PrAcTiCaL fX” of music.

  5. I was going to say it is funny to me that we went from “don’t worry we don’t have any of those phony synths on this album!” in the 70s to “there are a lot of synths on this album, but also some horns and strings, and we haven’t used that specific synth you’re getting sick of” in the 80s. And of course, Queen had to eat Synth-Crow in the 80s, I believe starting with their very first album in the decade (THE GAME).

    I know Vince Clarke (Yazoo, Erasure etc.) started using older/analogue synths in the early 90s as he thought it was better for his creative process, but I don’t think it was something he really showed off or turned into a protest, he just brought it up in interviews.

  6. There was that time when Boys Noize worked with Giorgio Moroder and was totally shocked when he just pulled out a laptop and fired up a bunch of plugins, instead of using some vintage modular synth from 40 years ago.

  7. A BAY OF BLOOD (1971) if you’re scouring for stuff you haven’t reviewed yet.

  8. I’m happy you finally got around to reviewing the third MANNEQUIN movie.

  9. Pet peeve of mine. Asking for exorbitant amounts of money for something and then charging for shipping. A

  10. I appreciate everyone elaborating on the nerdy digression about the Fairlight. I was intrigued by them proudly naming it in the credits and did some reading on it.

  11. Andy – I know, it just amuses me. I always have to mention the shipping when I note an out of print movie’s price.

  12. This ain’t your Chekhov’s mannequin.

  13. Boy, everything you’re describing about this one sure makes it seem like Akkad ripped himself off for Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.

    Similarities that popped out to me, because for some reason I decided to watch Curse last night.

    – Michael having to kill a baby family member for pagan ritualistic purposes.

    – Baby’s mother being stabbed to death in opening scene right after managing to hide baby.

    – Young person taking in baby.

    – Young person who surveils people with equipment for no apparent reason.

    – Loner guy who is obsessed with murderer.

    – Character superman dives through glass window.

    Guess these are just things he likes.

  14. Oh yeah, Tommy was recording people too, wasn’t he? I didn’t think about that.

  15. I loved your review, and I love this movie for the same reasons you enjoyed it!
    I am in fact watching it right now!
    I first discovered it way back in like 1992, when Blockbuster was still a thing and we would go on a Friday night and get a pile of videos to watch over the weekend.

  16. Ooh I forgot! Can I show you the Attis Funko Pop I made? :D

    Attis the Tree God Mouse Pad by JoyBodelay

    Attis lies in wait, to murder. Or for a dance routine to break out in the desert. • Millions of unique designs by independent artists. Find your thing.

  17. Ha, that is a very niche Funko Pop. I’m impressed!

  18. I wasn’t vocal at the time of the above music discussion, but as this thread is back I now feel it is worthwhile to chime in all late to say that Pacman, I am very much a Vince Clarke fan (although not as comprehensively as some), always good (and somewhat rare) to learn others are too.

    If you’ve never seen it, I would very much recommend to yourself (and anyone about good movies, really) the major motion picture THE CHOCOLATE WAR – a brutal, accurate, odd, quiet, dour, enthralling, funny and upsetting movie about secret societies, vulnerability, bullying, flawed systems, high school, pain and futility. I just read the book for the first time in a, uh, place where I’d brought myself and where they miraculously had it hidden among their small library along (with two recent paperbacks of later Woodhouses, much better than the library with the George W. Bush book and post-millenially recent submarine thrillers they had at the nursing home).

    I prefer the WAR movie to the book very much, for reasons of immediacy, beauty, awesome new wave music and a lack of slightly-annoying, then-trendy Portnoy-ass neurosis, not that I resent the author for genuine expression, I would probably hypocritically find such aspects more evocative in other mediums, like comics or rock music. The book is legit good, but the movie is one of my very favorites, a top ten or whatever.

    If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend abstaining from reading about the soundtrack beforehand, because what songs it utilizes and when are kind of the best part of the whole thing. It’s better to let beautiful, moving songs appear at random than have some expected playlist in mind when important events are happening. That

    Anyway, good movie notable for starring one of the pretend TV writers from Larry Sanders and The Riddler from Batman: The Animated Series, aka John Glover, aka the thinking man’s/actually queer person’s/superior Willem Dafoe. But the real star of the show is the sad main kid, the beautiful direction that expresses love for expression even in a movie about miserable truths and solitude and the gorgeous counterpoint provided by amazing new wave music.

    I’m not thankful for very much, but I am thankful for momentary interactions with wonderful people who love the varied beauty of expression (namely, being funny, nice and loving forms of art) – and that very much includes the crew here. I am thankful for Jennifers Coolidge and Tilly, and I as with our host, I too am thankful for fuckin’ Chucky. I hope that Sam Simon is smiling down from rude gambler’s heaven with Norm Macdonald, all about Chucky’s abs and shit, wishing he had thought that one up. It’s cool that Jennifer Tilly and Norm Macdonald we’re friends. Also I am thankful for the Universal Monsters. Even just looking at pictures of them is good, or the very thought of them.

    The ice outside of the Fred Astaire Franchised Dance Studio has thawed gross low-hanging dirt rain on me, and awful as things are, it was kind of funny. Maybe that was the irritated ghost of Debbie Reynolds or whatever.

    Happy Thanksgiving! To celebrate, I am enjoying another dollar gas station coffee. Though I am alone, at least I found a discreet place to charge my phone so I can wander around and listen to music later in the day before I return at night to the hell of the homeless shelter full of mostly-terrifying, snot-hocking other homeless people (many of them boastful of their fine pedigree being scary criminals) which is where I am currently living. (“Living”.) Boy, do I hate the homeless shelter. I am thankful that it is kind of warm out on a day when I have nowhere to go.

    Can’t really watch movies in this lifestyle, but at least there are books, even if the library is closed today. There will be books tomorrow. Speaking of franchises, I will let you know what I think of “Beyond the Chocolate War”, could be good. If anyone has any good ideas for how to not be suffering from homelessness or the disgusting impossibility of pathetic secret societies, LMK.

    Erasure rules, what a good band. THE CHOCOLATE WAR is a tight movie directed by the kid from CHRISTINE, DRESSED TO KILL, JAWS 2, BACK TO SCHOOL, etc. Also, he has collabed on two TV episodes with Wendy and Lisa, now that’s something to be proud of. This is the best website, and though I’d resolved to not be as isolatingly laudatory, the home of a writer who is in a time of doing some of the best work – and so consistently! Thanks, bud, and also, buds.

    Franchise A.L.F.
    Writer of THE CHOCOLATE WAR 3D.
    P.S. Pac, I had intended to reply to some of your excellent comments, but hadn’t due to a lot of general life seriousnesses. Anyway, so as to not overpost, let me off-topicly say that I think you will enjoy the “aliases” section of this website: https://xmenmovies.fandom.com/wiki/Demon_Bear

  19. I preferred the book for THE CHOCOLATE WAR, probably just because I read it before watching the movie; often that’s all that it takes. It was one that HBO Argentina had running on constant rotation in the mid to late nineties – like Mazurzki’s THE PICKLE.
    Stay safe, ALF, and happy thanksgiving for you folks that celebrate it!

  20. Thanks Vern! :D

  21. Thank you, dreadguac, I am trying. I appreciate that like I always appreciate interacting with you here, everyone surely appreciates your comments and The Ramones appreciated Club Atlético River Plate.

    I also prefer the movie version to the book of #2 on my top ten, THE STERILE CUCKOO. I have at least four “being a youth is terrible” movies on there.

    Thank you again, very sincerely.

  22. A.L.F. We are all here for you. Please know that.

  23. THE CHOCOLATE WAR sounds good, unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be available in any format I can easily access at the moment, but like Feivel and America, one day I will see it. I haven’t forgotten about the Chris Sievey documentary or GEORGE WASHINGTON, which I’ve just seen is also on YouTube which will actually be preferable to Frevee and their very weird advert placements.

    I listened to an interview with Tom Ruegger recently where he said that when he moved from Filmation to Hanna Barbera in the 80s, his interview with Joe Barbera consisted of JB describing a Demon Bear plot which sounded weirdly familiar (turned out to be the plot for the first Demon Bear cartoon which had already been made a quarter of a century earlier) and asked him “do you think that would be funny?” to which he said “er, yeah, that sounds funny, is that what I’d be working on?”, and Barbera said “er, we’ll figure that out later, but you’re hired”. Ruegger never figured out what that was about, but he got to work on DEMON BEAR’S TREASURE HUNT a couple of years later so it all worked out.

    He also said that Steven Spielberg’s big thing for TINY TOONS was that he liked all the animation to have shadows, which in his mind denoted quality. Like he’d see footage come in from one of the satellite studios that was really fluid, but he’d say “it looks terrible! We’ll have to send it back! Where are the shadows?”, which I think is very funny, and not even completely wrong.

    I remember Smash Hits gave Erasure’s “Run to the Sun” single a negative review, reasoning that it “sounds a little bit too much like the music from the Sonic the Hedgehog games”, surely the least damning criticism in the history of prose.

  24. Thank you, Pacman. I appreciate the decency. The thing you would enjoy also are his later Manchester tv shows, what I think are mostly on YouTube. There is one where he has a contest for tiny toons cereal from America, “out of date food”, although I haven’t seen it in a few years. I’m not sure if he says “looney tunes cereal”, he also gives people watto merchandise, meets Gerry Anderson, the guy from the a team, David soul, a million bands of that time. There is a part in the movie where he has a weird off brand or something power rangers bag, just in one photo. There is a hilarious participation in every trend, my favorite are the almost really plain drawings of ig 88. Also some good radio show episodes where he sings along to such theme songs as Dallas snooker Cagney and Lacey, etc. Definitely gets my vote for funniest guy ever, second best at music, one of the best cartoonist and animators. Dudley Moore or whoever did not care excessively about TMNT or something. I always thought someone should cast Sheri Stoner in a movie that is actually good and interesting. Sam Simon was interestingly and continuously, one of the main characters on the Howard Stern show for years, who called him “the inventor of the Simpsons” awkwardly all the time, a good YouTube comp would be Howard Stern does not know what the Simpsons is. There are a lot of people I am about who did not stay about or with the Simpsons, Tracy Ullman, Kent Butterworth, Penny Marshall, sorta Klasky Chupo, a number of indie cartoonists, etc, etc. James l Brooks is the mysterious one, there are lots of material for a lot of those people. That was so dumb when they almost showed the prince/nolte/Ullman one, during the early pandemic. You know who drew tiny toons comics, Steve Ditko, all the comics and dc tv people who worked on that should be thrilled. I laughed through your very funny post. I am way more a fan of that new show with the hilarious Lola bunny character than any of the speilberg shows. However I sure watched them and had merchandise. I should watch A DINOSAURS STORY again and laugh when there are extra shadows. Those feivel movies are good, Roger rabbit is a very rendered movie. I’m trying to think of what characters in that have a hilarious amount of shadows, maybe Koko the Clown. I am more a fan of their work with Konami https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiny_Toon_Adventures:_Cartoon_Workshop and when I saw an Alternative rock kid wearing Animaniacs gear in 1993. I was preferentially about the non color/mean bugs Looney tunes at the time. Bugs bunny is hilarious though. I am a fan of that erasure song, but I am more of a fan of the similarly named Dinosaur Jr song from the motion picture soundtrack to the excellent starring tcm host Illeana Douglas movie GRACE OF MY HEART, in which his guitar morphs and outwits a sorta zabka character, funny. There are a lot of good tcm intros that are not on YouTube. Most of the Vince Clarke band videos are hilarious, the only one I am not very much a fan of is the one with Fergal Sharkey, though I am a big Undertones fan, I never saw that Terry hooly biopic. I am a fan of thinking about the time Erasure collaborated with the Jesus and Mary chain Reids, I was happy about that funny meeting.

    Andy, thanks sincerely for your comment, it helped get me through an actively horrible mood and day.

  25. Despite my love for cartoons and electronic music, I don’t have much to add to this talk, but I learn a lot. Also in terms of hilarious Vince Clark music videos, I never understood why in the video for Erasure’s ALWAYS (which technically is not meant to be funny), his only appearance is a photo on a grave, with big, bushy eyebrows. Then they later mentioned in an interview that there was simply no room for him in the video’s plot, so they said “Vince his dead and we gave him dumb eyebrows because we thought it looks hilarious” and from then on it cracked me up whenever I saw it, because yes, this is a brillantly stupid sight gag once you realize that it is one.

    Also glad you are still okay A.L.F. and belated happy thanksgiving.

  26. Hi CJ, thank you for your comment. I hadn’t watched the “Always” video in years, and you’re correct, that part with the dead Vince covered in flowers is strange and hilarious, the more one thinks about it and with knowledge of Erasureian intent in mind.

    This may disrupt the purity of your enjoyment slightly, but I was both startled and had to laugh that bushy-eyebrowed Vince looks eerily like my deceased friend Patrick, who had a mordant sense of humor in a way some around here might appreciate, was a pop star from the general United Kingdom, a gay guy, nice, rude, loved to laugh, did I mention mordant, etc. I don’t want to mention him by name in case any former associate scumbags or good people see this shit, but if you really want to compare he had the same name as some movie composer guy and all these fools tweeted after he died and it was news all PWEF, thankfully it was some queer nobody and not a movie guy who died! No class at all, I hate movies and the internet. Also, he can be seen on the back cover of a Belle and Sebastian LP, there’s only so many of those, though his eyebrows looked way bushier without the glasses. Actually, three of the dead people I was closest to and am most obsessed with mourning and celebrated had giant eyebrows, now all the world is left with is these no eyebrow having idiots. Anyway, Patrick was the best man, very funny and relatable. Everybody made his death into some coolness competition and left me alone to suffer, the only guy I talked to about at the time was some prematurely old drunk I worked with at the parking garage who on my day of shocked pain made me listen to some annoying old Irish music from before microphone technique, the hollering kind, and I was like um this guy liked Oasis and Ke$ha. These other fools were all so proprietary about him, and it was like, fine, whatever, how many of you did he write inaccurate narrative fantasies of gay closeness between yourself and some muscle guy you platonically lived with, oh that’s right, NONE. I was pissed about it at the time but I like it now; in retrospect it is really flattering. Then he covered the main popular song of my favorite music person shortly before he died, in his band that was named in a hilarious inversion of the cool adjective and noun of the name of his more momentarily popular former bandmate’s buzz band (who didn’t even write the songs in their prior band, he just sorta boringly looked like a model, nice guy though), it is one of the funniest disses to another and himself that there could ever be. Awesome guy, the obituaries left out all the good details such as that when he lived near me in Brooklyn during the golden era of our friendship, he used to go show up at the Real Life COYOTE UGLY bar they once had on Second Avenue and get a body shot from a depressed stripper the very moment they opened, which was funny for so many reasons including his gayness. I can still vividly remember him laughing hysterically about how depressing it was, my kinda guy. Fran’s Ferdinand fucked up when they left that out of their RIP, let’s see some effort there fellas. RIP Patrick, I hope that when they closed the IRL Coyote Ugly they relocated it to heaven and you are irritating depressed clothed-exotic-dancing angels and feeling hilariously depressed by it all. They stopped making paper NME the week you died because after that there was no more news worth reporting. I still hate the show “Friends” but I love that you loved it and wanted to go to nonexistent Friends crap when you lived in America, and I hope you and my other dead friends are all lovingly pissed at me in hilarious heaven. You aren’t missing much down here, everyone really actually changed and seriously sucks now. It sucks that everyone was so mean to you, the fuck do they know. RIP, 1985-2018.

    No need to reply to this, Vern people, I’m just writing.

    Erasure really rules, I always have found it hilarious that they have songs both called “Always” and “Sometimes”. They should officially replace the gay flag with the extremely motheaten Wild! ’90 tour shirt I used to have, very colorful and I had to steal it back from this mean vintage-selling jerk who tried to steal it to buy drugs, and used to make fun of me for liking a gay band like Erasure when it was like uh one, I am obviously not straight and two, your favorite band is literally Depeche Mode. An ex-girlfriend gave said article of clothing to me, both in a moment of kindness and meanness, but it was like well joke’s on you homophobic ex, I looked good on it and all the ‘mos loved that shirt, including this large sassy fella who I met once at the video store I worked at and who was telling me he knew Andy and I was like, oh, tell him nobody makes synth chimes and bells sound as good as him, and he looked at me like I didn’t know one Erasure from the other, and I was like nah man, I’m saying he’s by far the best Vince Clarke singer! Except I didn’t say that and it was just awkward. I hope he told Andy about it though, I bet he’d have understood.

    I have no range at all, but I still try for the stars. One time in late 2014 I sang a very angry version of “Drama!” at this weird karaoke bar in NY Chinatown, one of my very best performances. That bar is cool, they bring your songs out on old ass karaoke laserdiscs and it takes forever between songs. Great place if you love laserdiscs and awkwardly waiting, I’m seriously a fan of both.

    You know what rules is Other People’s Songs. Every one is a total jam, and most of them are interpretations of works I’d normally call uncoverable.

    “Reunion” by Erasure > “Together Again” by Man Parrish, which is saying a lot because that’s also a good one.

    “Sometimes” by Erasure > “Sometimes” by Ash, though they’re both good too.

    “Chorus” > “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”

    The funniest and best Erasure video is the one where Andy refers to Vince as “my comedy partner”, for that it explains the truth of the band and serves an articulation of my feelings of missing people. He referenced that one recently, despite it being virtually unGooglable I consider it to be one of their highlights. Andy has beautiful handwriting.

    If you haven’t seen THE CHOCOLATE WAR, CJ, it is worth your time. Thank you for every aspect of your kind and funny response. A sincere “Circus”-era live version of “Safety In Numbers” from Knopf Halle, Hamburg, circa April 27th 1987 in which Andy thanks the crowd in German to you.

    “…that all changes, the media changes, and they don’t want you any more. It makes you realize your life isn’t measured by how many people know you and stuff like that. In the end, it’s the songs that count.”


  27. I saw Erasure at one of the two main, fairly small music venues in my city in 2003 and again in 2005. We’re not a big music city, at least not in terms of mainstream stuff; occasionally our football/soccer stadium will put the sports spheres in the locker for a few hours if Elton feels like coming here or something, but otherwise the people who come through here are people on their way up, or people who have peaked. At the time synth-pop was maybe at its least popular, since then I think Erasure have rebounded a bit with “retro” value and play bigger venues then we have. For both of the albums they were touring I think the lead singles made the UK Top 10, but that was using the old “release it in January when single sales are lowest” trick.

    When I saw them in 2003 there was one guy behind him who kept asking them to play one of the tracks off their CRACKERS INTERNATIONAL EP, or that one CD-Exclusive track from THE CIRCUS, and would start staring at his phone whenever a song from after the WILD! album would play, not just “the new stuff”, but some of their famous hits like Chorus and Always. Admittedly you could say it was stranger that I would observe such a pattern, but I thought it was funny that he was such a hardliner. And with it being 2003, in retrospect I wonder what he could have been doing on that phone. Maybe playing SNAKE? To be fair it was a good game.

    My favourite Sam Simon thing was not surprisingly when he was looking back on his time at Filmation, and he said that years later he would tell people “I started off writing for Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle cartoons” and people would say “oh that’s great! I loved them!” and he would say “No, no, you don’t understand; I worked on the *New* Adventures of Mighty Mouse. The *New* Adventures of Heckle and Jeckle”. The emphasis on *New* was really funny. But at least his labours led to this moment

    Handcuffs on a Snake

    An excerpt from the 1979 Filmation Mighty Mouse cartoon "Movie House Mouse", written by Sam Simon, storyboarded by Eddie Fitzgerald, animated by Kent Butterw...

  28. Hi Pac, I am very appreciative of your funny and interesting replies. Though I keep meaning to respond to a number of them in recent weekd, I feel that I haven’t been writing my best since having a brain injury, detoxing from a million hospital-instituted medicines, the strain of being a “homeless bum” (as Norm Macdonald would have hilariously said) etc. Thank you for constructive positivity in internet conversation with my unreadable sprawl, particularly when I’m obnoxiously commenting on topics from other threads.

    I am the unresentful, “you were there rightfully and you deserve it!” sort of jealous for your having seen Erasure. I’ve never seen them, despite having had plenty of chances. Attending a fifty zillionth turgid Pixies reunion show instead of spending my duckets on Erasure at a club in Boston in 05, what was I thinking. You saw them in two particularly good years, too.

    I definitely know Sam Simon best for a ridiculous amount of hours spent listening to Howard Stern through the years, and also his many (but not enough) team ups with Norm Macdonald. People give him grief for being persnickety, but I always think about how involved he was with the most annoying and worthless of all Stern guys, “Ralph”, who I can’t see, I dunno, George Meyer or Ian Maxtone Graham tolerating for five seconds. I like that he crazily gave his money to the animals, even though I coulda used a few of those Bart bucks. I was very obsessed with The Simpsons as a kid and still like it, though I like Life In Hell and those Swartzwelder books way better for their purity of voice. Anyway, your post made me laugh and I can hear him saying that in my mind’s ear. From now on I will refer to him as “Sam Simon, Inventor of Jeckle”.

    Look up walkthroughs of that stupid Tiny Toons NES cartoon maker video game if you get a moment and aren’t aware, it is really dumb and I bet you’d appreciate how funny and boring it is. Excellent videogame if one likes to see Plucky Coyote or whatever stand there for a moment.

    Thanks again, always posi to speak with you and I’m a fan of your commentary.

  29. I saw Pixies in London in 2016 with a non-synthpop-enjoying friend, I don’t actually know Pixies that well but they were solid, not much of ones for crowd interactions though, also the crowd got really excited for a second when they played a song off their then-current album (All I Think About Now) that has an intro that sounds weirdly similar to “Where is My Mind?”, which was pretty funny.

    I have dabbled with that NES TINY TOONS Cartoon Maker briefly, but I’ll give it another look. My friend (another one who come to think of it also does not much like synth pop) had the more advanced CD-ROM package SIMPSONS CARTOON STUDIO, which some 10 years after it came out we used to do a sequence where Blinky the Three-Eyed Fish turns into a table, or maybe where a table turns into Blinky the Three Eyed Fish, either way another seminal animated work I believe is tragically lost to time like that original Chester Cheaterier cut of FOODFIGHT! they left on the train or whatever. I didn’t know my friend when he got the game, but IIRC he said his Dad bought it for him for Christmas, rather than the other SIMPSONS CD-ROM not-strictly-a-game at that time, VIRTUAL SPRINGFIELD, which his dad told him he would get bored with in five minutes after he asked for it. I asked my Uncle for it the Christmas it was new, and he told me the same thing, but he got it for me anyway, which was very decent of him and I proved him wrong, but I guess that was one of the big generation gaps between boomers and millennials at the time, they didn’t understand the appeal of playing a simulation walkthrough of a fictional cartoon town.

    In that Sam Simon interview he also talks about starting out as the writer of a test marketed comic strip, and explaining to the interviewer why comic strips were a big deal at the time, explaining that “everyone would read about this dog called Snoopy, who belonged to this boy named Charlie Brown”. I don’t know if he honestly thought someone would need the very basics of Snoopy lore explained to them in 2013, or if he had taken against the interviewer for some reason and was being condescending in frustration, either way pretty funny. It’s one of those great Television Academy Interviews , a great resource of really in-depth interviews with people from US Television History, including a great 3 hour interview with Jo Barbera that ends with him talking about those new shows like “THE KING OF THE HILL” saying he thought the FLINTSTONES movie was OK, but he didn’t like what they did with Dino. He doesn’t specify what that was he didn’t like. My guess is the bit where he drinks from the toilet. But I guess it will remain one of life’s mysteries.

    All the best ALF, take care.

    Sam Simon

    In his two-and-a-half-hour interview, Sam Simon (1955-2015) talks about growing up in Beverly Hills, and shares tales of his early encounters with the likes of Elvis Presley and Groucho Marx. He describes his first show business jobs in animation, drawing for Bill Cosby's Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and for other Filmation animated series. He chronicles breaking into sitcoms by writing a spec script for Taxi, which got produced and led to a job on the show's writing staff. Simon recounts his time as a writer and showrunner on Cheers, discusses the various personalities involved with creating and producing the show, and explains what he feels made the show a success. He outlines his time as a consultant for It's Garry Shandling's Show, as well as for The Tracey Ullman Show. He speaks of being a writer, producer, and showrunner for The Simpsons in its early years, and gives his opinion on what has made the show a cultural phenomenon. He recalls various other projects, such as consulting for The Drew Carey Show, creating his poker show Sam's Game, and working with the animal rights organization, PETA. Karen Herman conducted the interview on April 13, 2013 in Los Angeles, CA.

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