Saturday, August 24, 2013

Character Analysis: The Mad Hatter

Character Analysis: The Mad Hatter

By: Brian Cotnoir

The Mad Hatter from "Alice in Wonderland"
Few tales have the influence and longevity of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”.  Since the story it was first published in 1865 “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” has gone on to entertain and inspire countless generations, and it makes sense.  With a bizarre story, in a bizarre setting, and characters who are just as bizarre, it’s should come as  surprise to know one that “Alice in Wonderland” has been adapted into many different mediums in television in films.  There have been animated adaptations, live action adaptations, musical adaptations, and a horror version.  Hell, in 1976 there was even a pornographic adaptation released called “Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Comedy”.  So yeah, it’s a pretty popular story.  Of the many memorable characters, in Carroll’s classic tale, my favorite has to be the Mad Hatter.  Now like I said, there are many different adaptations, and a lot of different characters who played “The Mad Hatter” so save myself (and you the reader time) I’m only going to talk about the two Disney film versions of “The Mad Hatter”, but don’t worry I will talk briefly about some of the Mad Hatters from TV Mini-series and comic books as well.

CHARACTER: The Mad Hatter from “Alice in Wonderland” (1951) (2010).

     So the Mad Hatter is quite the unique and unusual character.  In both films Alice first encounters the Mad Hatter holding a tea party.  Why is he having a tea party?  Why Because it’s his Un-Birthday of course!  The Mad Hatter is joined by his two close friends the March Hare (sometimes referred to as “The Mad Hare” and the Dormouse.  He is a very neurotic and—dare I say—a hyper-active fellow.  He is sincere in his eccentric mannerisms.  He is a very gracious host who is forever trapped in a tea party that—seemingly—never ends.          
    Is he really “Mad” though?  Eccentric? Yes.  Unorthodox in his mannerisms? Yes.  Mad?  Very likely.  He appears to have the symptoms of a person who is “mad”, but he is only a danger to himself.  When we see him acting high-strung and even a little crazy he only appears to be putting himself in danger.  What I like the most about his character is that everyone around him seems to be asking him “Why?” (or more specifically “Why do you do that?) and his reply simply comes off as “Why Not?!”.  I’ve kind of discovered that philosophy in High School and it’s something that’s stuck with me all the way to adulthood.  When those ask “Why?”; You ask “Why not?!”. He is one of my favorite characters of all-time (without me even realizing it), but I mean it’s not like there’s pictures of me going around in Public dressed like the Mad Hatter...

Ahh Hell!


     The Mad Hatter was voiced by actor Ed Wynn in the 1951 animated film and was played by actor Johnny Depp in the 2010 Live Action version.  Even though both men are playing the same character they both have their own distinctive differences.  
The Mad Hatter voiced by actor Ed Wynn, 1951
Wynn did not get a lot of screen time in the film.  The first time we see The Mad Hatter in the film it’s past the half-way mark and even then it’s only for a few minutes.  He also makes a brief reappearance towards the end of the film.  Wynn’s Mad Hatter comes off as more feminine than Mad.  His character has a slight lisp and he just appears to do things that are more weird, rather than crazy.  The craziest thing we see him do in the film is destroy the White Rabbit’s watch.  Wynn had a number of disadvantages as the Hatter.  For one, the running time of the film is only 75 minutes long.  That’s only one-and-a-quarter hours; very short for a “Feature Length” animated film. Also, the Mad Hatter was more of a secondary character.  The majority of the 1951 version focuses on Alice and terrible songs numbers.  I’ll be perfectly honest with you all.  I think that “Alice in Wonderland” is the worst soundtrack of all the Disney films.  None of the songs were that good or memorable, but I digress.         
     Now, in the 2010 version directed by Tim Burton, the Mad Hatter plays a much larger role, and it’s obvious why; it had a much larger budget than the 1951 version, it had a very popular director, and he was played by freaking Johnny Depp—one of the Best and most loved actors of the last 30 years—of course he was going to have a large role in the film.  I mean, he’s on the freaking Movie Poster for crying out loud, and the film is called “Alice in Wonderland”, not “The Mad Hatter in Wonderland”.  So—you know—don’t you think Alice should be on the poster instead of the Mad Hatter?  The 2010 version was actually based off of the sequel to “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, “Through the Looking Glass”, but like the story and the 1951 film version we have our first encounter with The Mad Hatter at a tea party with the March Hare.  Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter is much taller than in the animated version.  His costume is also more outrageous and colorful, and he has a pale/painted face with outrageous orange hair and different colored eyes.  Also, Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter has two different voices.  He has his regular speaking voice (that sounds very similar to when he played Willy Wonka in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”) and then when he’s talking about the past he has a Scottish accent, and to be honest with you all, I was really confused with when I saw it theatres because it came out of nowhere.  I remember thinking to myself the first time I heard Depp speaking in that Scottish accent; “Did Johnny Depp stop caring?”.  Later, I found out the different voices were done on purpose; though I have to be honest, I thought the Scottish accent was really stupid.

Oh, that Johnny Depp!

Character is similar to or Inspired by:
Jervis Tetch aka The Mad Hatter

Obviously, the character is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s literary works.  Not only that, but Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter character has gone one to inspire character’s in other shows, comic books, and entertainment mediums as well.  The Mad Hatter character has been transformed into a villain in the Batman Comic Book and Television series.  The Mad Matter Hatter in Batman is actually Jervis Tetch, a Scientist who creates many different devices to control people’s minds.  His costume is very similar to the Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s books.  In recent years the Mad Hatter has garnered a bit of a cult-following amongst Batman fans.                    

The Mad Hatter has been portrayed by Sebastian Stan on the ABC Primetime Series Once Upon a Time.  Actor Andrew-Lee Potts played the character “Hatter” on the SyFy Mini-series “Alice”.  His characters sort of like a “Drug dealer of Human Emotions” and he is a very enjoyable interpretation of the Mad Hatter.  There are over a dozen other characters on Television series based off of “The Mad Hatter” from “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass”.  Not only that, but musicians have also drawn inspiration from the Mad Hatter in their music videos.  Musicians such as Tom Petty and Dero Goi of Oomph! have both dressed up as the Mad Hatter in some of their music videos.
All Hail, Andrew-Lee Potts!

Dero Goi of Oomph! as the Mad Hatter
Fate of the Character

     The Mad Hatter still remains in Wonderland to this day.  He in the March Hare are forever trapped at 6:00 forever at Tea Party that will never end.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

5 Love Songs from the 90's that all guys secretly like

5 Love Songs From the 90’s That All Guys Secretly Like

By: Brian Cotnoir

     The 1990’s was a wonderful time for Music.  The Decade started off with the Seattle Grunge Scene and Alternative Rock and concluded on the other end of the spectrum with Boy Bands and pop acts like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.  Towards the latter end of the decade the radio airwaves were dominated with cheesy little pop ballads of Pop-Princesses singing about a crush or all five guys in a boy band—strangely enough—singing a song about the same girl.  This repetitive and unfeeling formula eventually killed the idea of love songs, not just for the 1990’s, but forever.  Now, most people associate Love Songs with artists like Adele, Coldplay, and crappy Emo bands, but artist of the 1990’s still did produce some awesome love songs that not only women enjoy, but so do lot of men, so this list is counting down the Top 5 Love Songs from the 90’s that All Guys secretly like.

5.) “Miss You Love” by Silverchair from Neon Ballroom (1998).

Silverchair was an Australian alternative rock band often described as “Nirvana in Pajamas” because the band started when the boys were only 14-years-old and their look and sound was heavily influenced by Nirvana.  By the time the band recorded their 3rd album in “Neon Ballroom” in 1998 the band had established itself as one of Australia’s Biggest Rock Acts.  A then 19-year-old Daniel Johns (the bands lead singer/guitarist) wrote a song for the album called “Miss You Love”.  The song is not a sappy love song, but actually a rather angry love song with lyrics such as “I love the way you love/but I hate the way I’m supposed to love you back” and “It’s gonna hurt/and I love the pain/a breeding ground for hate” this is clearly not a typical love song, and I think that’s what draws many guys to this song is because it’s not a sappy song about having your heart broken or falling in love.  Daniel Johns claims that he wrote the song during a bout with depression and that the song is about “not being able to establish a relationship with anyone, not being able to experience love outside the family”.  It is a great and powerful song that was written by a very young teenage musician and it still carries over today.

4.) “Glycerine” by Bush from Sixteen Stone (1995)

Does anyone know what the hell the band means by “Glycerine” because I still don’t?  This is a very simple song that features only one member of the band playing, singer/guitarist Gavin Rossdale. Many people consider this song to be the ultimate “Grunge Love Anthem”.  Bush had a lot of success in the 1990’s with “Glycerine” and other hits, but were resented by fans and music critics alike because—like the band Silverchair—they were accused of “sounding too much like Nirvana”.  Although, I do see a lot of similarities in their sounds, I feel like Bush is a great band.  What draws many guys to this song is the fact that it’s played on an heavily distorted electric, instead of an acoustic, and the lyrics don’t necessarily sound like it’s a love song.  It’d be one thing if the Gavin Rossdale chose a girls name for the title of this song, but instead he chose the word “Glycerine” and over ten years later he still has people scratching their heads going: “what’s that mean?”

#3- “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain from Misguided Roses (1998)

Many people consider singer/songwriter Edwin McCain to be a one-hit wonder, but the truth is he’s actually not.  McCain’s career briefly sky-rocketed after this song appeared on an episode of the popular 1990’s sitcom “Dawson’s Creek”.  Since then “I’ll Be” has been a popular song covered on the hit reality show “American Idol” and is quite popular at most weddings.  McCain claims he wrote the song out of desperation, rather than being about him falling in love.  This song is very soulful and only people that have a vocal range similar or better than McCain should attempt to perform it live.  I’ve been fortunate to see Edwin McCain live and he is great.  His shows are very intimate (mostly all acoustic sets) and you can always bet that “I’ll Be” will always be a part of his set list.  Besides this one song McCain also has another popular hit “I could not ask for more” and a less popular track he recorded called “White Crosses”, which I think is actually one of his better songs and I have no idea how that track did not become a hit along with the other two songs that he wrote.

#2- “Wonderwall” by Oasis from (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995)

Every guy who’s ever picked up an acoustic guitar for the first time has always aspired to achieve the same goal:  Learn how to play Oasis’s “Wonderwall” for a girl (or group of girls) in order to impress them.  This is not only one of Best and Most Popular songs performed by Oasis, but it is one of the most important and beloved songs of the 1990’s and probably of All-Time.  Despite, many pre-conceived misconceptions, Noel Gallagher did not write this song about a woman.  I mean, he did say he did when the song was first released, but that was only at the recommendation of record executives who believed that story would help boost the popularity of the song.  The truth about the songs title comes from former Beatle, George Harrison’s, first solo album “Wonderwall Music”.  Another fun fact was that Noel Gallagher (the bands lead guitarist and primary song writer) gave his brother Liam (the bands vocalist) the option of singing either “Wonderwall” or “Don’t Look back in Anger” on the album.  Liam—wisely—opted for “Wonderwall” and Noel sang “Don’t Look back in Anger” on the album instead.  Everybody likes this song, not just women, but guys too—and more specifically looking to impress women.  Thanks to Oasis massive hit we are doomed to hear it played in High School Talent Shows and College Campuses by a bunch of hacks with guitars who are just hoping to get lucky.

The Most Pretentious Music Video I've ever seen

1.)    Anything by the Goo Goo Dolls

In the 1990’s The Goo Goo Dolls were a big deal.  They were one of the most popular bands of the 1990’s.  The Goo Goo Dolls blew up after the success of their single “Iris” which appeared in the soundtrack to the 1998 film “City of Angels”.  “Iris” wasn’t the only successful song that The Goo Goo Dolls had, there was also “Slide”, “Black Balloon”, and “Name” (which appeared on their previous album A Boy Named Goo in 1995).  The majority of The Goo Goo Dolls hit songs in the 1990’s were featured on their sixth studio album Dizzy Up the Girl and were mostly love songs written by the bands singer/guitarist John Rzeznik.  The Goo Goo Dolls are still one of the most popular bands from the 1990’s and many guys enjoy playing/performing their songs on guitar and karaoke, and most of them don’t care that when they sing a song like “Name”, “Slide” or “Iris” that they are singing a love song, because they just think that the song sounds awesome and they look awesome singing/playing it. 

This is a Good Track

This one too!

And You cant forget about this one; This is my favorite version of the song

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Character Analysis: Rhoda Penmark

Character Analysis: Rhoda Penmark

By: Brian Cotnoir

    One of the most famous Classic Horror films of All-Time has to be Mervyn LeRoy’s “The Bad Seed”.  The film was based off a stage play written by Maxwell Anderson, which was based off of the 1954 novel-of-the-same-name written by William March.  It’s the story of a mother, Christine, who begins to notice that her young daughter may not be as perfect or as innocent as she seems.  She begins to notice that her daughter has a bit of a mean streak, and is not all that phased by the macabre.  Christine has done all that she can to be a caring and loving mother and raise a polite and well-mannered daughter, but maybe there’s something in her genetics that makes her a natural Bad Seed.

CHARACTER: Rhoda Penmark from “The Bad Seed” (1956).

Looks can be deceiving
Rhoda is a young girl (probably no older than 9 or 10) and she comes from a loving family.  Her father is a Military Officer and her mother is a stay-at-home mom.  Rhoda is very close to her mother.  They share a very special bond that only a mother and daughter could have.  Her mother Christine does all she can to make sure that her daughter is polite, well-groomed, respectful, and educated.  Her daughter Rhoda is all of those things on the outside, but on the inside she is a striving perfectionist, manipulative, and driven.  When Rhoda loses a Penmanship Award to one of her classmates she is inconsolable.  She feels that the award should have gone to her and that she was wronged.  Rhoda ends up killing her classmate, Claude, and managed to get away with it.  Rhoda’s mother eventually discovers the penmanship award in her daughter’s bedroom, and after grilling her for a bit Rhoda eventually confesses to her mother she did murder her classmate. Not only that, but she also admits to killing a neighbor back when they lived in Wichita.           
Don't try to protect her, Mother.   She knows what to do...
Rhoda’s mother is in disbelief that her young daughter could have committed these murders, and it is later revealed that Christine’s mother (Rhoda’s maternal Grandmother) was actually a serial killer, and was found guilty and executed in the electric chair for her crimes.  Christine was two-years-old when this happened, and was later adopted by a new family.  Despite the fact that Christine has tried to so hard to raise her daughter in a loving and supportive environment, her daughter’s sociopathic tendencies may be genetic.  Like I said, Rhoda is driven character, and she will do whatever she can to make sure she gets here way and more importantly she will make sure that she get away with it.  


She'll send chills through your body
    The role of Rhoda is played by Patty McCormack.  I think Patty McCormack did wonderful job in this role.  This was not an  easy role for the time.  I haven’t done a ton of research on this yet, but I do believe that this was the first Horror film in which the villain (or antagonist) was a child.  I have not found any other films made before “The Bad Seed” in which a child commits murder.  So yeah, this was a monumental role.  I kind of feel like Patty McCormack was in the same boat as Anthony Perkins when he took the role as Norman Bates in “Psycho”.  Back then this idea of a child committing multiple murders was an unheard of and even an unthinkable notion.  This is the grandmother of the scary children in horror films, and in all honesty you could not have a better actress then Patty McCormack to play this role.


     Like I said, I could not find any other films before “The Bad Seed” where a child was the villain, but I definitely feel that having being made into a stage play and a novel before the film was made that it definitely gave Rhoda a lot of time to develop as a character.  Rhoda was a character who was the first of her kind, and every other child villain in horror films, your Damien’s and your Malachite’s, owe everything to Patty McCormack’s portrayal of Rhoda in “The Bad Seed”.  
A Fat, Animated equivalent of Rhoda
However, there is one modern day character that I feel perfectly embodies everything that Rhoda was in “The Bad Seed” and that is Cartman from “South Park”.  I was a huge fan of “South Park” long before I ever saw “The Bad Seed” and as I was watching the film for the first time, I kept laughing to myself and saying “Holy Crap, this is where they drew the inspiration for Cartman”.  Like Rhoda, Eric Cartman acts a sweet and innocent around his mother in his attempts to manipulate her and get whatever he wants, but deep down he is a sociopath who is prone to violent temper tantrums.  Cartman is the male equivalent of Rhoda 100%.


     So the fate of Rhoda in the film differs from her fate in the novel and the stage play.  In both the novel and the stage play, Rhoda’s mother gives her a bottle of sleeping pills before taking her own life.  Rhoda ends up surviving her mother’s attempt at infanticide, and will go on to live and—presumably—kill again.  However, when this film was made in 1956, all film studios had to follow a strict code on what they could and could not show in films.  One of the things filmmakers weren’t allowed to have in their films was showing the villain get away with their crimes.  The Hays Code stated that “Crime doesn’t pay” so the ending had to be altered.                                    
Go And Get what you deserve!
   In the film version, it ends with Christine surviving her suicide attempt while Rhoda goes out during a lightning storm in hopes of retrieving the Penmanship Award that her mother tossed into the lake, to help cover up her daughters crime.  While searching for the award, Rhoda is struck by a bolt of lightning and killed instantly.  I can’t say for sure as to which ending I prefer.  To be perfectly honest, I think that if the film was allowed to keep its original ending that I would have been just as satisfied.  I will say this though to those of you have not seen “The Bad Seed” yet.  When you watch it make sure you watch until the very end of the credits.  It’s for your own good, I swear J.

Friday, August 2, 2013

5 Problems I have with "Schoolgirl Hitchhikers"

NERD NOSTALGIA: 5 Problems I have with “Schoolgirl Hitchhikers”

By: A. Aleister Sirrat

     HA!  Got you, you pervert!  I know why you’re here.  You took one look at the cover photo and you said to yourself, “Aww hell yeah, this sounds hot. I got to check this out!”.  What a filthy, filthy mind you have, you pervert!  Oh well, I suppose I owe you a “decent review” after enticing you to want to “read” my article. French Film Director Jean Rollin produced a number of wonderful exploitation and fantasy soft-core films back in the 1970’s.  One of his better ones (in my opinion at least) was 1973’s “Schoolgirl Hitchhikers”.  Although I found this film to be both erotic and entertaining it does have some major flaws.

1.)    The girls on the DVD cover are not in the film

Lies and Deception!
Yeah, just from looking at the DVD cover this looks like it was a recently made movie.  The two girls on the cover look very provocative and sexy.  I think they kind of look like the early 2000’s Russian Pop Group t.A.T.u.  The DVD cover is just the first of many deceptions.  Not only aren’t the two girls on the DVD cover in the film, but I don’t even think they were alive when this film was made.  This film was made in 1973, though the cover makes the film look like it was made and released in the past few years.  Shame on you Netflix for enticing your audience to check out a film with old fashioned bait ‘n switch.

2.)    These actresses in the film are not schoolgirls

Yet, another devious deception of this film is that it promises schoolgirls.  The actresses in this film aren’t schoolgirls.  In fact, they’re much too old to be schoolgirls (They’re clearly in the mid-twenties).  Not only that, but they don’t even wear schoolgirl outfits.  How the hell can you have a film called “Schoolgirl Hitchhikers” and not even have your actresses dress as 
school girls?

3.)    They are not hitchhiking

That’s two deceptions on Director Jean Rollin’s part.  How the bloody hell can you call your film “Schoolgirl Hitchhikers” if your actresses are not dressed as schoolgirls and you don’t even have them hitchhiking.  Seriously, they don’t ask for a ride from anyone. They’re hiking through the woods.  So maybe the film should have been called “Schoolgirl Hikers” instead of “…Hitchhikers”, but even then the title doesn’t sound right.  I think a more appropriate title for this film should’ve been “Two Bi-curious Gal-pal’s have a fling in an abandoned country cottage”.  A bit too wordy of a title, yes, but I think it’s a more honest title than “Schoolgirl Hitchhikers”

4.)    Lack of Consistency to the plot.

What woman could resist that man???
As if we haven’t been deceived enough by this film now the film actually expecting us to increase our suspension of disbelief.  So when we meet the two girls in the film they state that they are both “lovers”, and make passionate love to each other in an abandoned country cottage that they both broke into.  Unbeknownst to the two ladies, the house is actually a rendezvous point (Hey, look at me using French in a discussion about a French Exploitation Film) for a group of jewel thieves.  The girls eventually come across a guy who looks like a scrawny French Charles Bronson, and decide that they cannot resist the charm of his handlebar mustache and make sweet, sweet love to the man.  Then somewhere along the way the Scrawny French Charles Bronson’s partners in crime think that the girls must have run off with their jewels despite no evidence whatsoever.  Seriously, Mr. Rollin you’re not even trying.  I may not be a genius, but I wasn’t born yesterday, and you’re trying to get me to believe too many things that don’t make sense and your film is full of plot holes.  Perhaps, you should have re-read and edited your story before you started making this film. 

5.)    Lack of Vampires

Yeah, I was disappointed that this film didn’t feature vampires like in many of Jean Rollin’s other films.  I mean when you direct films with titles such as “The Nude Vampires”, “The Rape of the Vampire, “The Shiver of the Vampires”, “Requiem for a Vampire”, “Lips of Blood”, “The Two Orphan Vampires” and “Dracula’s FiancĂ©e”, yeah people are going to expect you to stick to what you know.  But no, Mr. Rollin decided to keep vampires in all forms out of “Schoolgirl Hitchhikers”.  Maybe he could’ve re-wrote to include vampires.  I think “Vampire Schoolgirl Hitchhikers” could’ve been a great idea for a film.  Alas, we will never know now with Jean Rollin’s unfortunate 
passing in 2010.
How could you leave us out, Mr. Rollin???
So those are my five personal grievances that I have with Jean Rollin’s “Schoolgirl Hitchhikers”.  It was a lot of fun to be on the site and thanks to my good friend “Das Film Junkie” for helping me get this post uploaded.  I hope to get to write more reviews for “Asylum for Nerds” very soon.  Take Care!