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What I Watched Last Night: Svengoolie

All in all, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday night than watching Svengoolie on WCIU-TV/Channel 26. Being pinned under a car that's fallen off a bumper jack is one. Having your legs chewed off by a shark is another. Last Saturday night's feature presentation of the 1960 film Brides of Dracula came pretty close though, because as it turns out, Brides of Dracula is perhaps one of the most boring, plodding horror movies ever invented. Movies like this might have inspired ABC to create the afternoon goth/vampire soap opera Dark Shadows in 1966, but as feature films go, this is the sort of horror-movie mess you get when you let the British go wild with sophisticated movie-making equipment.

Do you know what you get when that happens? You get actors in full living color using 89 of the movie's 90 minutes talking you to death, that's what. Sure, the background scenery is impeccably awesome, but when you blow the whole budget on furniture and clothes, the best Dracula you're going to get is Peter Cushing, who was no Bela Lugosi. Neither was Christopher Lee, who shows up in a ton of movies just like this, too. Lee is scary the same way a tweaker is scary when he can't find his stash, but Cushing is so un-scary that I keep getting him confused him with the singing Von Trapp father in The Sound of Music. Worse, you get Dracula-bait women who might as well have been sleepwalking when they showed up for work, too.

And to think we still wonder why the American movie-going public was so ready for Freddie Krueger.

I'm not complaining as much as I otherwise could about Brides of Dracula because until very recently, I was prepared begin an Internet petition drive begging PBS to have a pledge night to expand the Svengoolie movie library because, really, how many times a year can anyone be expected to sit through Tarantula? It had even occurred to me that Svengoolie host Rich Koz has really been dead for the past 12 years and Channel 26 has just been running his old shows on a perpetual loop. Like we'd know.

Still, "new movie" doesn't necessarily translate into "better movie." That's why on nights like these you need a diversion. A really big diversion. That's why I spent most of my time coming up with The Svengoolie Drinking Game of Death instead of paying much attention to Brides of Dracula. It's called The Drinking Game of Death because - aw hell, it's not that hard to figure out why.

Of course, neither I nor The Beachwood Reporter advocate the misuse or abuse of alcohol, so The Svengoolie Drinking Game of Death is intended or entertainment purposes only. You could always swap alcohol for some sort green leafy product, but neither I nor The Beachwood Reporter would advocate anything like that outside the presence of a licensed, professional Rastafarian.

***

THE SVENGOOLIE DRINKING GAME OF DEATH

Everyone drinks once if:

* The scene opens with a full moon.
* It's foggy outside.
* It's dark outside.
* There's a hot babe in the scene.
* The hot babe in the scene is a blonde.
* The hot babe in the scene screams.
* The hot babe in the scene faints.
* The hot babe in the scene falls down while running away from something.
* There's a mob scene involving villagers.
* Massive amounts of electricity are presented in dramatic fashion.
* A wolf howls.
* There's a bat. Or a giant octopus.
* A guy is wearing a hat. Extra drink if it's a fez hat.
* There's a scientist in the scene. Extra drink if it's a woman scientist.
* The monster runs like Mike Ditka walks.
* You hear climactic music.
* You hear foreboding music.
* Someone pulls a gun.
* Someone pulls a gun on a creature bigger than your house.
* Two or more guys have a drink together.
* Someone gets strangled. Extra drink if the strangler is a monster.
* Someone refers to someone else as "the doctor." Extra drink if it happens in a lab with a lot of beakers and test tubes in the background.
* "The doctor" ends up being someone wearing white lab clothing that makes him look like a dentist.

Everyone drinks twice if:

* The hot babe in the scene is not a blonde.
* The hot babe in the scene is wearing a swimsuit.
* The hot babe in the scene is in bed. Extra drink if she's in lingerie. Two extra drinks if you can tell the turkey's done.
* The hot babe in the scene gets carried off by a monster or some other ne'er-do-well.
* Someone is wearing a monocle.
* A conversation occurs between two guys you suspect might be gay because they've been paying absolutely no attention to the hot babe standing right next to them. Two extra drinks if the two call it a night and exit the room together and leave a perfectly good hot babe going to waste.

Everyone drinks three times if:

* A photo of Svengoolie ends up in the scene somehow.
* The movie is an Ed Wood production.
* Joan Crawford shows up for some reason.

Enjoy.

-

See what else we've been watching! Submissions welcome.

-

COMMENTS:
1. From Jerry Victory:

Just read your article and I have to say although it was humorous, I, being a longtime Svengoolie fanatic must bring up a couple of points.

* A true Svengoolie fan watches this show because of SVENGOOLIE. Rich Koz is a comic genius who creates bits and song parodies that are truly clever, ingenious and funny. And he does this weekly on a budget of about a buck twenty five.

* If you actually watched the movie on Saturday night you should have realized that Peter Cushing played Professor Abraham Van Helsing - not Count Dracula. In fact, other than the title and the opening narration, Count Dracula does not appear at all in this movie.

The Svengoolie Drinking game does sound like a fun way to spend a Saturday night. Thanks for the idea.

2. Buckner replies:

Jerry:

I congratulate you on being an astute observer and Svengoolie/Rich Koz fan. I won't split hairs over who I might be a bigger fan of. I'm just happy I can separate the two, and the fact that Rich's budget has been given a raise from a buck two eighty-five.

As I mentioned in my article, I was not paying much attention to the movie, so I'm glad there are astute fellows like you picking up the slack for the rest of us. Still, your keen observance pretty much rests my case: How good can a Dracula movie be without a Dracula of any sort showing up in the entire thing?

On the other hand, at least we didn't get stuck with Tarantula again.

Scott



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Posted on December 12, 2008


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