Friday, December 11, 2020

An Imperial Play in Five Acts


The five members of Team Dan declined a celebrity box at the Nuerca Theater. Tonight's play--taken from their own adventures--bordered on comedy at their expense. Hence the low profile, though Bonnie and Zena reveled in their new gowns. Musicians tuned up amid a drone of voices in the cavernous hall. The production raised high hopes for the acting troupe, who brought a popular Lunari play here to the empire capital of Eolca, the very place Team Dan got its start. 

"Bonnie the Vampire," said the tall bro Pete. "I didn't like it there, and I don't like it here, where a heap more folks get to laugh at us. And that dude playin' me is way too short." 

"He has to be," Dan reminded. "The actress has to throw him through a wall."

Pete scowled. "Don't remind me." 

"It wasn't all that good for me, either," Bonnie huffed. "Can you imagine going a whole week without food, as much as you eat?" 

Zena smoothed folds of royal blue. "Like no way. Especially when the food is me!"

On his end, Ed chuckled. "Close call, Zeens. If not for that vampire cure potion--"

"Cool it, men," Dan said. "The show's starting. Either we continue as heroes, or we're the new Five Stooges." 

Ed gave him a poke. "I like how you build the tension, Danno. A play has other advantages: live actors, dialog taking the place of prose, and stage directions doing the rest." Hisses from  nearby patrons cut his comments short.

The first act centered on the brawl at a Lunari harbor tavern, and the joke was so far squarely on the nosferatu Count Rotbone. Dan tricked him into jumping out a window as a sheet, which in Rotbone's slavic accent became something grossly different. The actor playing the count whirled a sheet about himself, then ducked out of sight, dropping a mess to splat on the street below. Clever stage hands caused a flying skull to take wing, trailing maniacal cackling as it whirled about on wires. The audience were in stitches.

Rotbone re-appeared from a side curtain and took Bonnie from the rear, a clawed hand at her neck. 

"I'm calling your bluff, Rotbone!" challenged a posturing Dan. "Let her go, or I'll see your castle thrown down stone by stone!"

"Oh, brother." The real Zena chortled behind her hand. "What a stiff!"

"Agreed," Dan said. "I'm not a blowhard Dudley Dooright." 

On stage, Rotbone slunk away, leaving Bonnie to touch a spot of blood on her neck. Sinister music cued the audience that all was not well. They applauded the end of act one.

Act two opened high in the warehouse district, where Dan had diverted due to Bonnie's odd behavior. She just wasn't her old perky self. 

"Okay," the Pete actor demanded, "show us your teeth." When he tried to pry her mouth open, she lifted him high, with the help of stage wires, and flung him through a wall. Pre-cut in a human shape, the gaping hole drew howls of comic relief from the spectators.

In the audience, Bonnie slumped, trying to be invisible. "Krikey."

"Give her the cure potion!" ordered the stage Dan. 

Ed's counterpart played it cautious. "I don't think she'll take it."

"Force the issue!" Dan, along with Ed, tossed a potion at her, but she ducked, leaving Dan and Ed with a faceful of green fluid. The crowd ate it up. Bonnie rushed offstage, and a window view showed a bat flying away. 

"Epic," lamented the Zena actress, who had been quite overstuffed in the costume's bosom area. "Well, let's go and find her!"

Applause brought down the curtain on act two.

Act three saw a man crossing a bridge on a foggy night. A cloaked figure came out of the mist.

The real Bonnie peeked through her fingers. "Universal precautions. Doesn't anybody get it?"

"Not everybody are lab workers, " Dan said, pulling her upright. 

The caped Bonnie showed fangs. "Excuse me, sir. Before I put the bite on you, I have to ask some questions." The bug-eyed victim backed away. "Do you have night sweats? Jaundice? Abnormal discharge?"

"Yaaaaa!" the victim screamed, now in full flight.

Bonnie pursued him offstage. "Unprotected sex?" Another comedy hit with the crowd.

Act four had Bonnie sweeping up debris at a vampire hangout in the sewers. "Don't you people ever clean this place?" Skulls, tin cans, and banana peels rained down on complaining vampires, to the spectators' delight.

In the final act, Bonnie surprised Zena in their shared room at the Lunari villa, pinning her to Zena's bed. "You cannot know how hungry I am! I cannot hold out any longer!"

"You don't want to do this," Zena implored. She produced a cure potion. "Take this, then we'll go raid the kitchen!"

Bonnie acquiesced. She pulled the cape over her head to hide the motions of removing vampire makeup. A restored Bonnie presented herself, and they walked out arm in arm.

Applause was marred by someone booing in the seat in front of the team. Rotbone himself turned glittering eyes on them. "Vat a farce of a show! Tell me, Miss Bonnie, are you still so mad that you must be a part of this? It is juvenile."

Bonnie glared. "Says you, Chromedome. What are you doing here?"

"It matters not. Daniel has had his revenge, inflicting all those women on me, taking over my castle!"

"Actually," Dan said of the Dracula Brides, "that was their idea. But it's still poetic justice." 

The count receded in the press of autograph seekers, which the team were glad to oblige.

Monday, December 7, 2020

MST3K: Invisible Invaders


Clayton Forrester  Season's greetings, spacemen! Today's dive into the vaults turns up 1959's The Invisible Invaders. It seems aliens have wiped out the moon's denizens 20,000 years ago. Maybe they don't like fresh air and sunshine. Seeing how far man has progressed toward making himself extinct, they demand our surrender before we take the moon down with us!

Crow Oh sure. Like World War Two didn't spook them.

Tom  No, they had to wait 'til we could put up a fight. It's only sporting.

Forrester  Shall I continue? A scientist played by John Carradine dies in a mysterious atomic lab accident. Later, his animated corpse visits the wife of Dr Penner and lays out the program. Surrender or die!

Joel  Where have we heard that before. But Carradine makes a great ghoul with that basso voice. 

Crow  Eh. I liked him better as Herman Munster's boss.

Forrester  Ahem! The aliens force a plane crash so the dead pilot can repeat the threat at a soccer game. Then a car crash victim reads the riot act at a football game.

Crow  Where else do you get that kind of stock crowd footage?

Forrester  Speaking of stock footage, Ray Harryhausen pasted flying saucers over Air Force planes shooting up a firing range. But that's not the only way Earth vs The Flying Saucers tops the stop-motion hijinx of today's clunker. They even had saucers crashing into the capitol and the Washington Monument. Cheesy but satisfying!

Joel  Can we get on with the story? I hate myself for wanting to know how it ends. 

Forrester  Anyway, the good guys capture an alien in a paint trap, which makes it go inert for some reason. Apparently there's a shortage of bodies, so he isn't giving this one up! In a pressure chamber, his ghostly reptilian form is forced out, but not for long. As hordes of zombies attack, the lab's alarm system makes them cringe like a German Shepherd to a dog whistle!

Tom  Here we go.

Forrester  The scientists build a sound gun that kills the captive. The invisible ship is jamming them, so they have to go find it and destroy it before they can broadcast how to defeat the aliens. Now that I've thoroughly spoiled if for you, let's hit the theater!

[Flashing lights and sirens drive the trio into the space station's theater]

Crow  If there's anything worse than a zombie, it's one you can't see.

Joel  I dunno; these guys don't even want to eat you. The ray guns are cool, though. As kids, we'd roll newspapers into long thin cones and make sound effects. There was no end of argument as to who missed and who scored hits.

Crow  Like the old Greenie Stickem caps. And the roll caps! There was a Rifleman Winchester that popped 'em off just like 'ol Chuck Connors!

Forrester [Breaks in] You guys are supposed to riff on the film, not sashay down memory lane!

Tom  Sashay? Can you say that on TV? It's not PC.

Forrester  How'd you like to switch to Hallmark tear jerkers?

Crow  Oh no, not that! Kill us now!

Tom What happened to caps anyway?

Joel  Lawyers. One day I scratched at a cap out of curiosity. Zap! Got a blackened fingertip.

Crow  I say all lawyers to the moon!

[Starts a chant that frustrates Forrester]

Forrester I was going to lump all the saucer films into a penetrating look at the cold-war hysteria over radiation and UFOs. You guys can just sit through this turkey to the end!

Joel While he's ranting, I'm going for popcorn.