Christmas Shelf Reviews: Pluto’s Christmas Tree (1952)

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When I made my list of favorite Mickey Mouse shorts, I had a hell of a time combing through his filmography for what I considered “real” Mickey cartoons. This is because a good many films in the mouse’s oeuvre have the supporting characters like Donald Duck and Goofy quickly steal the spotlight from him. And that’s not the only thing they took: as more characters were ingrained into the Disney canon and Mickey was reduced to being a bit player in his own features, the scrappy traits that once endeared him to the public were siphoned away to his costars. And what was left for him once the childlike curiosity, playfulness, brash temper, big heart and fierce determination were gone? What kind of personality could Mickey cultivate for himself into when there was no personality left?

Thanks a lot, Lisa.

By the late 40s and early 50s, everything that made Mickey enjoyable was scrubbed away into a bland, neighborly squeaky-clean corporate-friendly icon. He was good for selling merch, but his cartoons suffered severely for it. Mickey was paired up with his faithful dog Pluto to keep things more interesting, though that resulted in him getting far more to do than his master. I always thought Pluto worked better as a supporting role rather than the main star, so I’ve never been crazy about the Pluto shorts or these in particular because…well, let’s look at a comedic dog and master duo done right:

Wallace, for all his mechanical ingenuity and good nature, is more than a bit of an idiot. Gromit is vastly smarter and is capable of expressing a variety of relatable emotions despite never uttering a word (though that has less to do with him being a dog and more due to the fact that he has no mouth). Whenever there’s trouble (usually of Wallace’s own making), Gromit steps up to the plate and the two always manage to work past their shortcomings together to save the day. They may not always be on the same level as each other, but their camaraderie and the situations they get into certainly make for an entertaining time.

As for Mickey, he may have been a lot of things in his prime, but he certainly wasn’t stupid. So seeing the resilient rodent who sailed steamships, conducted his way through storms, battled giants, saved kingdoms, slayed dragons and controlled the very cosmos have his IQ substantially lowered just so he could play second fiddle to his pet…well, it feels downright insulting. Pluto’s Christmas Tree was the second-to-last short made before Mickey’s thirty year-long retirement, and it’s a prime showcase for all the problems that come with his extreme flanderization, right down to the fact that his name isn’t even the one that’s in the title.

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A Public Patreon Poll!

Hi everyone! I’ve been hard at work on the reviews for December when I hit a crossroads concerning a certain character who’s popped up more than once (hint: he’s mean, he’s orange, and he’s due to be homeless by January). Without going into too much details, a recurring joke I had planned for him which fit in rather nicely with the short I’m reviewing spiraled into something of a sendoff for the character. I knew I wanted to “fire” him after the election, and what I had in mind was nothing short of apropos (and more than a little cathartic). Then I had second thoughts: since what happens to him is a subversion of what I’m reviewing, would it be too mean-spirited, even for a monster like him? I made a poll to gauge your opinions on whether or not I should keep what I had planned in the review or just leave him out altogether. Click HERE to learn more and let me know what you think. I’ll see you in December, and I hope you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

(If you don’t have a Patreon, just leave your choice in the comments.)

The Masque of the Orange Death

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Dedicated to the voters, the victims, and the immortal Edgar Allan Poe.

The Orange Death had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal or hideous. Bile was its avatar and seal – the madness and horror of the orange bile. There were sharp pains and the inability to breathe. Coughs and fevers wracked the body, with the bile that manifested from the lungs spewing outward from the victim, shutting them out from the aid and sympathy of their administration. And the whole infection, progress and termination of the disease were the incidents of over an agonizing two weeks.

But the Prince Drumpfero was snappy and dauntless and outrageous. When his dominion was half-depopulated, he summoned to his presence many of his hale and hearty courtiers that heeded his Twitter (a parrot who served as his most constant companion and was prone to obnoxiously shouting his master’s innermost thoughts). With these he retired to the deep seclusion of his grandest, whitest house, one of many opulent palaces he had acquired or built in his lifetime. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, recently accented by additions based on the prince’s own eccentric, garish taste. Several walls, yuge walls, girdled it in. These walls had gates of iron. The courtiers, servants, and guards, having entered, welded the bolts on the prince’s orders. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the folly of despair or altruism. The outside world could take care of itself, at least until the last dregs of ACA were extinguished.

The castle was amply provisioned, with such precaution that the courtiers might withdraw any bids to defy their sovereign. In the meantime it was folly to reprimand, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure: There was gold. There was golf. There were hamberders, there was covfefe, there were steaks with ketchup and wine. There were rappers with egos the size of Mount Everest. There was the YMCA. There were prostitutes, there were toadies, there were apologists. There was fake news. There were Russian spies. There were Puritan evangelicals. There were conspiracy theorists. There were degenerates. There were very fine people on both sides. All these and security from prosecution was within.

Without was the Orange Death.

It was on the close of the fourth year of the prince’s rule, and the seventh or eighth month of his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged so furiously around him that the Prince Drumpfero entertained his friends and followers at an un-masked ball of the most unusual significance. I say un-masked because while the point of a traditional masked ball is to dress in costumes and masks to make merry, the prince and his company were vehemently opposed to wearing masks of any kind, even going so far as to shame the few wise enough to adhere to the rules.

It was a meretricious scene, that un-masquerade. But first, let me tell you of the rooms in which it was held. There were seven, an imperial suite, encircled by an uprooted rose garden. In many palaces, such suites form a long straight vista adorned with streamers, balloons, lights, banners, decorative fauna, and other joyful accoutrements. Here the case was very different, as might have been expected from the prince’s third wife’s bizarre loathing of interior decorating. The apartments were irregularly displaced, highly priced – one had to pay an exorbitant amount to enter – and there was a sharp turn every twenty feet and to each turn a novel effect: in the middle of each wall there sat a tall and narrow stained glass window, its color in accordance with the prevailing hue of the chamber they presided in. That in the eastern extremity was gilded in, for example, red, and blood-red too were its windows. The second chamber was gold throughout – the third pure white – the fourth, a timorous yellow – the fifth, a rich green – the sixth, royal purple.

The seventh apartment was closely carpeted in blue, with tapestries of the same material and hue hanging from the ceiling down to the floor. But in this chamber only, the color of the windows failed to correspond with the setting. The panes here were orange, and tiny, yet they were embedded in the walls in random clusters so that they took up more space than that of the brick and mortar used to build the chamber.

Now in no one of the first six apartments were there any lamp or candelabrum, but in the corridors along each suite marched a procession bearing torches aloft proudly. These torches projected their light and the visage of the glowering marchers through the mirrored tinted glass, and so glaringly illuminated the rooms; thus were produced a multitude of gaudy, distorted appearances. But in the western blue chamber, a single candle flickered behind each of the numerous orange panes. The scant firelight, clashing hues and dancing shadows produced an effect not unlike the vivid coloration of a creeping insect; it produced such a shock upon those who entered that there were few in the company who dared to step in at all.

It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western wall, a gigantic clock that the prince’s wife had been unable to dispose of. It was a beautiful thing, this clock, its ebony wood gleaming in spite of the years of scarring and abuse it had endured in that house. The pendulum swung to and fro with a heavy, monotonous clang, and when the hour was to be stricken, there came from the clock’s brazen lungs a sound which was deep and clear and loud and exceedingly musical – yet of so peculiar a note and emphasis that, at each hour, the musicians and dancers were constrained to pause momentarily to hearken the sound, even as the rest of the company strove to ignore it and carry on with their revel. When the echoes fully ceased, those who had attended the cry of the clock laughed to themselves and smiled as if at their own nervousness and folly, making whispered vows that the clock would not dare to make such an audacious chime again the next time. Yet after the lapse of sixty minutes there came another chiming of the clock more thunderous than the previous one, and each peal drew more attention and a greater sense of disconcert from the company than they would have admitted to.

But in spite of these things, it was a glittering assembly. The tastes and leadership of the prince were peculiar at best. He had ideas, many ideas, the best ideas. He disregarded the “decorum” of mere civility. His plans were fiery and all-consuming, and his conceptions glimmered with little understanding beyond his scope. There were many outside the palace who thought him mad. His followers felt that he was not. It was necessary to insult and shout down and assault his dissenters to prove that he was not.

He had directed, in no small part with the party that he had so ensconced himself with, the moveable embellishments of the seven chambers upon this occasion; it was his own guiding taste that which had given character to his auspicious company. Be sure they were grotesque. There were delirious fancies of the tyrannical fashion. There was little of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, and more than a little of that which might have excited disgust. To and fro in the seven chambers there stalked, in fact, a multitude of schemes. And these – the schemes – writhed in and about, taking hue from the rooms and the people within, and causing the wild music of the orchestra to echo in their steps, reverberate through the air, inhabit those who indulge them until they were accepted as the very nature of being, the only method of living.

And again, there strikes the ebony clock eager to be heard above the hedonistic bacchanalia. And for a moment, all is still and silent except for the clock and the boorish chortles of the ignorant prince as he turns his back to it once more. And now again the music swells and the schemes thrive. The hedonistic reverie lurches forward more boldly than ever; but to the westward chamber there are now none of the anti-maskers who venture, for the night is waning away and the wave of blue, the fleeting candlelight, and the emphatic sound of the clock appalls. The other apartments are densely crowded – no social distancing between two or twelve souls – and in these apartments beat feverishly the hearts of those who desperately cling to their own lives above all others.

And the revel went whirlingly on, until the sounding of midnight commenced upon the clock. Thus too, it happened, before the last chimes echoed into silence, that there were several individuals in the crowd who grew aware of the presence of a figure which had arrested the attention of few people before. And the rumor of this new presence, having spread itself around in whispers, arose at length from among the whole assembly a buzz, a sense of recognition, and a growing murmur of horror and revulsion.

There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion. Then there are those to whom a simple pin prick is equivalent to a stab through the heart. In truth, the masquerade license of the night had out-Heroded Herod, and gone beyond the taste of any rational being’s decorum; garish displays of bloodied opponents, smears against races and creeds alien to their way of living, violent demonstrations of their feelings towards their regime’s critics. And yet the whole company seemed to deeply feel that in the costume and bearing of the familiar stranger, neither wit nor propriety existed.

The figure was tall and bloated, shrouded from head to foot in the stench of fast food and the grave. The simple cloth mask fitted over his nose and mouth barely concealed the visage of none other than the Prince Drumpfero himself; the resemblance to his swollen, corpse-like countenance was so eerie that the closest scrutiny would have difficulty in detecting the cheat. His wispy straw-colored toupee flew about his dome as he moved, appearing for all the world as if it were caught in a hurricane. And yet this might have endured, if not approved by the revellers in good jest if the pretender had not gone so far in assimilating the image of their dear leader with that of the Orange Death: his ill-fitting blue suit and drooping necktie was dabbled in orange – and his sloping, sneering brow with all other visible features of the face, were smeared with the tangerine horror. Only the cerulean blue mask remained perfectly spotless.

Every man, woman, person, camera and TV turned as one to look upon this intruder, and to the man whom he so wildly impersonated. When the eyes of the Prince Drumpfero fell upon this scornful imitation, he was seen to be convulsed with apoplexy. Then in the next moment, his bronzed brow reddened with rage.

“WHO THE HELL,” he whined, pointing at the interloper, “WHO THE HELL DOES THIS GUY THINK HE IS?! Grab him! Get him outta here! Lock him up! And rip that mask off! Then I’ll know who to fire next!”

It was in the far eastern red chamber in which stood the Prince Drumpfero as he made his petulant demands. With little hesitation, the most loyal and bloodthirsty of his followers – his unwavering crimson-capped acolytes and the officers of the law – charged forth with all the ferocity of hounds at the climax of a chase. Through the red room they hunted their quarry – into the gold apartment – through the gold into the white – through the white into the yellow – through the yellow to the green – and through the purple. Knives and firearms waved about. The onlookers cheered. The air around the pursuers was thick with oaths and slurs thrown their target’s way. Yet the figure did not slow its course, nor did it hasten.

It was when the attackers came within three feet of their target that the latter turned to face them in the blue chamber. There was a sharp cry – a blast of gunfire – a spray of bullets – and the orange windows shattered as one. Where candlelight once guttered there was now the black night air.

And the prince’s mob laid on the floor, gasping for breath as orange bile spewed from every pore. The figure, who had remained untouched, turned its gaze from its victims back up to the prince, still standing agape in the red apartment. The gasps turned to faint sobs, then nothing at all.

Barely flinching, the prince pushed more observers in between him and the figure in blue. He called for courage, for action, for more supporters to stand back and stand by as others took up arms and, somewhat more reluctantly than the first, charged into the chamber ahead. Their fate was sealed exactly as the previous cavalry’s. Undaunted, the prince grabbed anyone unfortunate to be in his vicinity and shoved them forward: the unctuous courtiers, the grasping musicians and dancers, the barbaric sentinels, covetous sycophants, servile advisors, his petulant adult children and his own ghastly wife. All of them dropped prostrate and heaving in the blue room, their corpses spilling out into the hallway beyond.

The prince looked around. Everyone had given their lives for him, as he had made them swear to when he came into his power. Surely there was one more soul in this house willing to shoulder the cruel fate about to be bestowed on him, yes? He had never lost anything before; Prince Drumpfero was certainly no loser. It was a known law of the universe.

But now the masked figure weaved its way over the cooling, trembling bodies. Not a footfall touched the orange-stained carpet. The prince’s fingernails dug into the wall behind him. He yelped for aid, for comfort, for his mother, for somebody –

And the figure removed his mask.

The prince screamed.

And now was acknowledged the presence – and identity – of the true Orange Death. He had come not like a thief in the night but welcomed in with open arms, spreading his own sickness through the carelessness, indifference, avarice and wanton cruelty of others, until there was no one left to destroy but himself. He had been there from the very start; the form he took was merely his most recent incarnation.

And the last of the revelers died curled up in the filth spewed along the cold, orange-mucked halls. And the flames of the torches expired. And the life of the black clock did not expire with the throng but chimed out louder than ever, heralding the arrival of the castle’s future master who would, in due time, reclaim the faded white house on its once-shining hill and return it to a little of its former glory stolen by the vapid, vile prince.

And peace, and growth, and justice – and the reminder of what happens to those who condone the Orange Death – held dominion over all.


Well, that’s an interesting way to tell someone they’re fired, isn’t it? I do hope you enjoyed this on-the-nose spin on Poe’s timeless tale. I intended to post my own thoughts on the election outcome when news broke, but this overblown retelling came into my head and simply wouldn’t leave me alone. If you can’t already tell, I am beyond thrilled that by January we’ll have a competent and compassionate leader again, and the man responsible for so much anguish will be facing charges (that is if he doesn’t succeed in his obvious attempt at a coup first). Until then, let me know what you think, if I did a good job spoofing this story, and be sure to vote for what holiday specials you want to see me review in December! Stay safe, and special thanks to everyone who voted!

Vote to Invalidate a Venal Villain’s Victory!

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Remember, remember the eighth of November
The Russia-Trump treasonous plot
I know of no reason the Russia-Trump Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Good day to you, fellow readers. You may call me Vhelf, and I speak to you in lieu of our usual gracious, witty, and might I add gorgeous authoress. Allow me first to apologize for this intrusion. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comfort of everyday predictability – the milk man, the paper boy, evening TV – though suffice it to say nothing will be predictable on this day of November the Third. I thought that perhaps, before you go about on your daily routine and head down to the polls to cast your vote as is your right and duty as Americans, we might mark the occasion with a little chat.

There are of course those who do not want us to speak through the polls. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and hooligans with guns driving trucks with obnoxiously huge flags will soon be on their way to various sites and drop-off boxes. Why? Because while the floor is always open to deep, meaningful conversations about important issues, actions speak louder than words. Words open the door to the truth, and for those who will watch and listen, deeds will enunciate that truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, think, and speak as you saw fit, you now have people screaming at you for being a snowflake and to consider their feelings while suppressing your own and soliciting your submission as they parade about on the necks of those they view as beneath them.

How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well, certainly there are those more responsible than others, and God willing they – and one vile man in particular – will be held accountable, but truth be told, many of you need only look in a mirror.

I know why you did it. Some of you bought the rhetoric of returning this country to a better time from your past without considering that the past might not be as great as you remembered. Some of you simply didn’t trust his more qualified, rational female opponent who had only a philandering husband and a slightly dodgy internet history against her. Some of you were fed up with the constant bickering between both parties and stayed home in the misguided belief that your indifference would somehow make a real difference. And, in the case of certain people mistaking NPR tweeting the Declaration of Independence as “promoting liberal rebel propaganda”, well, some of you were just plain stupid – and bolstered by the man affirming your outdated and disgusting views of the world. Fear, disinterest, and racism got the best of you, and you turned to the orange-dyed egg teetering on his border wall, Trumpty Drumpfty.

He promised you greatness, he promised you security. Instead, he separated immigrant families and stuffed children into cages like animals, gutted women’s, LGBT and civil rights back to the medieval period, openly attacked any voices of dissent, allowed a pandemic to put the entire planet on hold for three-quarters of a year, barely lifted a finger when his own people called for aid, defied safety regulations when he himself became a victim of his own incompetence (and incontinence), and openly encouraged a rise of white supremacy not seen since a certain mustachioed lunatic came to power in 1930’s Germany. And all he demanded in return was your constant effusive praise, and silence where everything else was concerned.

One week ago, I sought to end that silence. One week ago, I cast my early vote for Joe Biden to remind this country of what it has forgotten. Joe was not my first choice initially, not even among my top three, but compared to the gibbering germ-spreading geriatric currently holding office, he is our best shot at making fairness, justice and freedom more than just words. That kindness, empathy and inclusion are stronger than selfishness, greed and fascism. With Kamala Harris at his side, we have a chance at bringing this country back from the brink of war and turmoil, and restoring the equality and peace that had been stolen from us. At the very least, we won’t be spending our days under the covers with a stockpile of booze hoping to ride out World War Three or quarantine through sheer inebriation.

If you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this administration remain unknown to you, don’t let this third of November pass unmarked. Do the research and open your eyes. And if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, if you seek what I seek, then I ask you to stand in line at your registered voting location, no matter how long it takes, vote blue all the way, and together we shall give them a third of November that shall never, ever be forgot.

VOTE BLUE AND VOTE TODAY. OUR LIVES DEPEND ON IT.

Planning Ahead for the Holidays

I know I just put out the first review I’ve written in months, but as the great Groucho Marx once said, “Hello, I must be going!” December will be here sooner than you think, and I’m ready to get back to the annual tradition of reviewing one short, one special, and one movie that befits the most wonderful time of the year. There’s no shortage of classics and time-honored favorites to choose from on the Christmas Shelf. Last year’s charming 2-D animated hit from Netflix, Klaus, is there, and Home Alone has just turned 30 (it’s as old as I am and that makes me feel so much older for some reason). And if you just can’t get enough of Frozen, I’ve gone and added Olaf’s Frozen Adventure too.

This pandemic has also given me time to catch up on television I’ve put aside for too long, and several of the shows I’ve watched have had some fun Christmas outings that I’ve added to the list. All the holiday episodes of the beloved comedy Community are there, as well as Phineas and Ferb’s “Christmas Vacation!” and Milo Murphy’s Law’s “A Christmas Peril”. If you’re feeling a little nostalgic, there’s The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh‘s “The Wishing Bear” or Teacher’s Pet‘s “A Dog For All Seasons” and “The Blight Before Christmas” (Disney+ is really on the ball when it comes to the obscure toons). Speaking of, it’s pretty likely Disney+ will add more holiday content on to their service in the near-future, so keep an eye out because you might be able to vote for them here as well.

Anyways, you know the drill: check out the Christmas Shelf and let me know the short, special and feature film you want me to review in the comments or by emailing me at upontheshelfshow@gmail.com . Patreons get extra votes among other perks, and I’d like to thank them now for their contributions during this trying time: Gordhan Rajani, Sam Minden, and Amelia Jones, you guys are the best!

October Review: Corpse Bride (2005)

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Picture of Corpse Bride

A long time ago in Russia, a young Jewish man was on his way to his wedding accompanied by his friends. As they passed by an old tree in the woods, the groom noticed to his amusement a stick poking from the ground that resembled a bony finger clawing its way out of the earth. In jest, the groom placed his wedding ring on the stick and recited his vows to his “wife”, performing the wedding ritual and making his companions roar with laughter. Little did he know that he made a grave error indeed.

The ground began to shake beneath them. A enormous hole opened up, out of it where the stick once lay rose a horrifying corpse! She was little more than a skeleton wrapped in bits of skin and a rotting wedding dress with a spider’s web for a veil. The bride had been murdered on her way to her own wedding years before by anti-Semitic Cossacks. Now that the groom had made his vows to her, she claimed him as her own.

In terror and desperation, the groom and his friends fled to the rabbi for help. Surely the wisest and most learned holy man in the village would know what to do. The groom presented his dilemma (as a hypothetical question, of course), but as the rabbi pondered it, the doors of the synagogue burst open, and there before them stood the corpse bride. Once again she laid claim to the young groom, this time with the whole village – and the groom’s living bride – there to witness it. With the situation blown wide open, the rabbi gathered other rabbis from the surrounding villages to consult with them. The village waited anxiously for their outcome, the groom’s living bride most of all. Finally, the rabbi presented his answer:

“It is true, you have put the ring on the finger of the corpse bride and recited your vows, which constitutes a proper wedding – however, the vows state that you must seek a life together hallowed by faith. Since the bride is already deceased, she has no claim upon the living.”

The groom and his living bride were relieved. The poor corpse bride, on the other hand, wailed and collapsed to the ground in tears. “My last chance at a happy life, gone! My dreams of love and family will never be fulfilled, every thing is lost forever now.” She was a pitiable sight, a heap of bones in a ragged wedding dress sobbing on the floor – yet who should show her compassion but the living bride herself? The young woman knelt and gathered up the corpse bride, holding and comforting her like a mother would a crying child.

“Don’t worry,” she murmured in her ear, “I will live your dreams for you. I will have children in your name, enough for the two of us, and you can rest knowing our children and children’s children will be taken care of and never forget you.” The living bride tenderly carried the corpse bride to the river and dug a grave for her, decorating it with stones and wildflowers, and laid her in there herself. At last, the corpse bride knew peace, and she closed her eyes. The living bride and her groom were married, and she kept her promise to the corpse bride: she had many children, and those children had children, and they always told the story of the corpse bride and the kindness she was shown so she’d never be forgotten.

This is a semi-abridged version of an old Jewish folktale that would have remained in obscurity if it hadn’t reached the late Joe Ranft, storyboard artist for Pixar and a little movie called The Nightmare Before Christmas. He passed it on to his good buddy Tim Burton and big surprise, this rather macabre love story clicked with him. Corpse Bride debuted in 2005, the same year as Burton’s Willy Wonka remake, and it’s safe to say that this my preferred film between the two. Obviously, comparisons between this and the previous Tim Burton stop-motion musical (which he did NOT actually direct, see the opening of my Coraline review) will be inevitable, but Corpse Bride is a fine companion piece to Nightmare in nearly every way.

…Then I watched The Princess and the Scrivener’s video on the film (do check out their channel by the way) where they raised a highly pertinent question. If you’ve seen the movie already, I’m sure you’ve noticed one major difference between this and the story it’s based on:

So because Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride changes the setting of this Russian-Jewish folktale to England and made the characters Christian (as well as taking Burton’s own dodgy history when it comes to diverse casting into account), does that make it guilty of Jewish erasure?

Steven Universe GIFs | Tenor

Look, events this past year have made me re-evaluate many of my views and privileges as a white person. I want to be as woke and supportive of as many marginalized voices as possible, and that includes reassessing media I previously assumed was harmless or at least fair for its day. I truly want to see more Jewish characters and stories in mainstream entertainment that aren’t overused stereotypes or victims (the only Jewish movies I can think of that don’t involve the atrocities of World War 2 are Fiddler On The Roof and Yentl). After seeing Scrivener’s video, I sometimes wonder how much more we could have gotten if they kept the film more grounded in its Semitic roots. In fact, wouldn’t there be far more tension and a greater commentary on marrying outside of race, class and religion if they kept Victoria Christian but made Victor Jewish? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a thoughtful, questioning rabbi to counter Pastor Gallswell’s narrow-minded austerity?

That being said, however, I still don’t have much of a problem with the changes made in Corpse Bride. Folktales are meant to be retold with changes naturally evolving through the centuries. Sometimes the true strength in a story lies in how it well it can be told through different ethnic lenses. HBO’s animated series Happily Ever After is excellent in this regard, giving us creative cultural retellings of familiar stories ranging from an Inuit Snow Queen to a Rastafarian Rumpelstiltskin. The fact that so much of the grimness and heart of the original tale remains after its conversion to Christianity is a testament to how well they managed to pull this adaptation off.

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To The Pain

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trumperdinck

“So, China virus -“

westleyvirus2

“I’m not Chinese, you racist, vomitous mass.”

trumperdinck

“My experts say we’ll have a vaccine for you by the end of the year! To the death!”

westleyvirus2

“No. To the pain.”

trumperdinck

“…I don’t think I’m familiar with that phrase.”

westleyvirus2

“I’ll explain, and I’ll use small words you’ll be sure to understand, you warthog-faced buffoon”.

trumperdinck

“That may be the first time in my life someone’s dared to insult me.”

westleyvirus2

“Then you haven’t been paying attention these past four years.”

westleyvirus2

“To the pain means the first thing you lose will be your sense of taste and smell. Then the aches creep in all over. Next an increasing fever alternating with chills.”

trumperdinck

“And then I rinse and spit you out with some bleach. My advisors said telling the public that was a mistake but listening to them is a mistake I won’t duplicate tonight.”

westleyvirus2

“I wasn’t finished. Then comes the feeling of acute pneumonia. The next thing you lose will be the ability to breathe without a respirator.”

trumperdinck

“And then I go blind and deaf, right? Let’s get on with it!”

westleyvirus2

“WRONG! Your eyes and ears you keep and I’ll tell you why – “

westleyvirus2

“So that every hacking cough and wheeze that erupts from your chest and slowly brings you closer to the same death you condemned 200,000 people to will be yours to cherish. Every former supporter who escapes your thrall, every person calling for your arrest, every human being victimized by your weaponized racism, every man, woman and child who cries out ‘Dear God, what is that thing we put in office?’ all while you lie there helplessly, will be burned in your eyes and echo in your perfect ears.”

westleyvirus2

“That is what ‘To the pain’ means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in sickness and misery forever, fighting for every single breath you will take for the rest of your unnatural life.”

trumperdinck

“…I think you’re bluffing. You’re a hoax! You were made in a lab! I’ve been taking hydroxychloroquine every day! I don’t need a mask, I’ve got herd immunity!”

westleyvirus2

“It’s possible, fascist pig. I’m only lying here because you undermined all scientific research and your party lacked the strength to stand up to you and for the people they claimed to represent.”

westleyvirus2

“But then again, perhaps I’m not a hoax after all…”

the tweet

westleyvirus

“WEAR. YOUR. MASK.”

Vote For October’s Movie Review!

  • I know this isn’t the fifth anniversary review, but I feel all the other reviews have been held up long enough. I’m going to try to get it out by the end of the year (hopefully it’ll end this disaster of a year on a high note) but for now, I’m moving ahead to October…which is in a few days, I know. It may not be ready by the first of the month, it’ll be there in time for Halloween! Just take your pick:
    • Phantom of the Opera (1989)
    • Bram Stoker’s Dracula
    • Hocus Pocus
    • Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic
    • Poltergeist
    • Corpse Bride
    • John Carpenter’s The Thing

    You can leave your vote in the comments or email me at upontheshelfshow@gmail.com. Remember, unless you’re a Patreon supporter, you can only vote once. Supporters get perks such as extra votes, early access to certain posts and adding movies of their choice to the Shelf. Special thanks to Amelia Jones, Gordhan Rajani and Sam Minden for their contributions!

    May Review: The Great Race (1965)

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    1965_film_the_great_race_poster

    “Push the button, Max!”
    – Professor Fate, usually before a catastrophe of his doing strikes

    To say things have gotten tumultuous since the last review would be a gross understatement. But we’re not here to discuss today’s upheavals, important as they are. Let’s just take a moment to reflect and laugh. Lord knows we could use a good one right now.

    Directed by esteemed comedy director and Hollywood bad boy Blake Edwards, The Great Race is a loving pastiche and send-up of silent comedies and melodramas from the early days of cinema (classic Laurel and Hardy in particular; the film even opens with a dedication to them). Thankfully the movie itself is not silent. What kind of genius madman would try to make a silent comedy in the late twentieth century?

    Believe it or not, The Great Race was inspired by a real automobile race from New York to Paris that took place in 1908. Some of the more outlandish elements of the race like floating on icebergs across the sea were even based on genuine ideas that were proposed for the race but wisely ruled out. Despite its star power and a huge budget, The Great Race was a flop on release and quickly fell into obscurity. Critics assumed it was trying to ride off the popularity of Those Magnificent Men And Their Flying Machines, another big-budget all-star comedy with a similar premise. I’m more inclined to believe that its failure was due to the roadshow phenomenon that boomed in the late ’50s dying out at this point. It would be several more years until the epic format of a three-hour film with an overture and intermission faded from theaters completely, but audiences were already losing interest, and that rung The Great Race’s knell. Regardless, it’s garnered something of a cult fanbase from automobile aficionados (the original cars are still displayed at conventions), fans of classic cinematic comedies, and it even inspired the wildly popular Hanna-Barbera cartoon Wacky Races.

    So if it wasn’t for this –

    1965_film_the_great_race_poster

    – we wouldn’t have this.

    Dick | Scooby-Doo | Know Your Meme

    Continue reading

    A Long-Overdue Apology

    I’m sorry.

    There’s no other way to put it.

    I’m sorry I’ve fallen so far behind in my reviews that nearly four months have gone by since I’ve published one. That’s not to say I haven’t been working on them, heavens no. Unfortunately, the stress of trying to balance responsibilities and creative standards left me with a severe case of burnout. And that’s on top of everything else that’s gone on since, for good or for ill:

    • Putting together everything for the storyboard class I would be teaching, including mastering Google Classroom and putting general paperwork in order was exhausting.
    • I was asked to teach another online art class, this time by the folks who run an annual city-wide art show I’ve been a part of for the past two years.
    • I’m partaking in SCBWI’S Summer Conference since they’re holding it online instead of Los Angeles this year, which meant revamping my portfolio again, completing new artwork and preparing to meet and query new contacts in the field.
    • My sister got (legally) married in my backyard the first week of July and I stood in as a witness/Maid of Honor. Fun! Not so fun was the large amount of people she invited for the barbecue afterwards who didn’t wear masks or abide by social distancing rules. I suffer from allergies and spent the following fortnight thinking every cough and scratchy throat meant the end was near.
    • I had to marathon the entire first season of The Umbrella Academy in less than a week in order to edit a full video review of it for Krimson Rogue before Season 2 premiered. (On the plus side, now that I’ve finally watched the show for myself, I’m excited for the next season!)
    • I got into the top ten of the Mx Disney editing competition and I’ve been going into editing overdrive near the end of each month to meet the crazy deadlines.
    • Anxiety. That is all.
    • And no, I have not watched Hamilton yet. I will once I finally have two and a half hours to fully invest myself in something that doesn’t directly involve me shaping it.

    So here’s how it’s going to go. When it comes to this blog, I’m still going in the order things were meant to, even if they are horribly off-schedule. The next review finished will be The Great Race, followed by the (very late) fifth anniversary review, and then I’ll be taking some time to kick off the series of Faerie Tale Theatre reviews, which should be out by the end of the summer at the latest. My original plans for the fifth anniversary was to revisit the live-action Beauty and the Beast remake and share my thoughts on it, but two things happened:

    1. I have A LOT to say about the remake which means it would be a very, very long read; so long in fact that I may have to split it up. Also I wasn’t entirely looking forward to watching it again and didn’t want to mark such a momentous occasion by nagging in 6000-plus words.
    2. This past weekend I finally got some down time to myself and wound up revisiting a classic that has long been a favorite. It’s resonated with me at the best of times, yet none more so than at that very moment. Maybe I was in the right frame of mind, maybe it was the timing, but after everything that’s happened in my creative pursuits up until then, I was so moved by this picture’s simple message that I was compelled to write about it.

    And there you have it. They may not be excuses, but they are something. One plan I also had for the rest of the year was to look at the first five movies I reviewed and see if they (and what I initially wrote about them) held up, though that might have to be swept off the table too unless you really want to them also.

    Hope you’re all having a safe and fun summer, and hopefully I’ll see you soon.