Posts Tagged ‘garbage pail kids’

#moviepuke

2017/05/28

moviepuke

Let me tell you about the worst thing I’ve ever made.

I was born–in 1984–at the tail-end of a generation of children that experienced what I would call a heyday of “gross”.  1984 brought us both The Toxic Avenger and Ghostbusters; 1985 both Garbage Pail Kids stickers and Madballs toys (and the concomitant craze of knock-offs and also-rans); 1986 Cronenberg’s body-horror movie The Fly

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One of my earliest memories is going to see Ghostbusters II in the theatre when I was four years old. Slime took center stage here, to the point that it’s heavily implied Egon rubbed some on his dick.  The slime featured in the movie, in the cartoon, post-personified as Slimer, and was available in toy form:

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If I’m giving too breezy an overview here, it’s because I hope to cover my experience with these things in full at another time.  The point is, I grew up with gross toys, gross media, gross food–

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–you could say I was imprinted by a particular aesthetic.  By no means has my entire generation remained fascinated with it as I have, but again, I think it’s fair to say I got to experience the first flourishing of “gross” before it became–as all things do–devoured by the pop culture industry. I benefitted by exposure to artistic masters who managed to make the gruesome appealing.

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The point is I’m a lifelong fan of the disgusting. Chalk it up to a lack of bodily sympathy, an ability to think of things without also pseudo-sensing their smells or textures, or the fact that I ate my boogers as a kid, but what can I say?  I find it all amusing.  Much like Gulliver found out in the land of Brobdingnag, beauty up close is frightening.  There’s lot of weird stuff in the human body, and some of it comes out, occasionally even when we don’t want it to…

And that’s where #moviepuke comes in. Or, out, really.

There are others like me, and some of them make films.  When it’s not being used to decry the dangers of teenage drinking, or to depict how much the cancer patient’s body betrays them, vomit is quite often used as a gag (ha) in movies, so much so that some critics complain about its frequency.  And I’m sure you would have no problem naming a movie where someone vomits for comedic effect.

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Did you think of Problem Child 2? The Sandlot? Team America: World Police?

(If you thought of The Exorcist or Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life first, I bet you’re over 40. That’s okay.)

I can’t find it now, but a few years back a friend on Twitter posted a link to a list of movie posters that featured characters peeking out from under or behind manhole covers.  By the way, if that list is still extant somewhere, here’s one that kind of fits:

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I realized then that the Internet is a place where every possible grouping of things that can be made will be made. Further, if it’s not a question of if, it’s simply a question of when and who.  Being the occaisonally-arrogant librarian that I am, I figured if someone was going to put together a supercut of all the times that someone visibly vomited in a movie, it ought to be someone like me.  Someone who knows how to search Google in ways unknown to the average layperson.  Someone who is dedicated to just about every idea he’s ever had.

So I set to work.  I scoured Google.  I asked on Reddit.  (I got about 100 films from one Reddit thread, right alongside accusations that I masturbate to the scenes. To set the record straight, I don’t.)  I found websites catering to people who couldn’t stand to watch–or even, for some, hear–vomiting, with lists of films containing such scenes.  Hell, for one of the blogs, people would write in and give descriptions of what scenes to be wary of, and even timestamps in some cases. Early on, I made a distinction between vomit discretion and vomit indiscretion, thanks to TV Tropes.  One of the most important sites I’ve come across is Kids In Mind, which lets you know everything that anyone could find objectionable in the films it lists.  It even makes the distinction between whether the vomit is seen, heard, or only talked about.  I went through the full list of 2,000+ films on IMDB whose records included the user-applied keyword “vomiting”.  I looked up information on forums for foreign films.

I bought dozens of DVDs, many from overseas, some at a price of $20 apiece or more.  I slowed down my computer for a full three days one weekend by (illegally) downloading 100+ different films.  I downloaded films from YouTube. I sought out filmmakers for confirmation before purchasing DVDs. I was told by one rightsholder that I would not be allowed to use the scene from a movie (I still did).  I begged reviewers on letterboxd.com to share files with me.

I watched dozens of films.  I used the slider tool in Windows Movie Maker to scan quickly through hundreds more. I watched funny movies. I watched great movies (I got to rewatch The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover). I watched what may well be the most graphically disturbing movies ever made. (I left the four movies in the Vomit Gore series out of the supercut entirely.)

I was disappointed when films featured only vomit discretion (that is, where the vomit is not seen at all).  I was upset when unknown people on unknown websites confused vomiting with sneezing, or spitting.  I had to make intense, sometimes philosophical, decisions for some films.  Can a severed head vomit? Did the guy in Jaws vomit, or did he even still have a stomach at that point? Does a CAT 3 Japanese video of a woman eating and then vomiting, and then having sex, count as a film?  What length must feature films be? Should the vomit scene last only as long as it takes for the vomit to exit a person’s mouth, or should it last until the vomit has come to rest? What about artfully edited scenes, like that in the Sandlot, that show vomit, but don’t show it coming out of someone’s mouth? (In the end, I removed most like that; but I have kept the Sandlot because people will tell me to put it in if I don’t.)

For a while, I posted the scenes individually to a YouTube account.  This is where things started getting frustrating.  To begin with, these scenes are all copyrighted by someone. So I had to deal with being told that I didn’t have the rights.  I had to appeal cases left and right that my use of the material was “fair” according to common understandings of the term; at the very least that my use was transformative.  But then I started getting knocked on community guidelines.  The YouTube terms of service, as well as the community guidelines, say nothing about vomiting.  There’s nothing at all in there that would indicate that vomiting would not be allowed.  I was able to appeal most of these successfully–once with the help of someone at YouTube–until finally I wasn’t.  Here’s what I consider an unfair loophole of the community guidelines: if you get too many complaints within a short time span, YouTube doesn’t even have to review the actual videos. They just take them down.  Two or three people hardly constitutes a “community”.  (And why the fuck did someone object to the 1-second clip from the movie Looper? You can barely see what’s going on unless you know what to look for.)  To add insult to injury, they won’t even tell you what exactly was offensive–YouTube will simply refer you back to the aforementioned silent-on-spewing community guidelines.  In one of the weirdest cases, a clip that I used from a 1970s Italian film featured music that was later sampled in a 1990s music album.  Because the album’s rightsholders had registered their works with YouTube, my video got flagged.  That one took some researching to figure out exactly what was going on.

I spent countless evenings and a handful of solid weekends–thankfully not consecutive–finding vomit scenes.  I wanted the list to be as complete as possible.  Certainly this was doable. But I had to keep it from becoming my entire life.  When it came to the IMDB list, I had to make gut choices on which films to watch or scan through; there are hundreds more there that I’ve yet to touch, and may never.

After almost a full year of dedicated work, I gave up at 877 films.  But a few months later I was at it again. I found new lists. More movies had been released in the interim.

In that last stretch of looking, I unlocked hidden achievements, hit squares on the bingo card I didn’t even knew existed.  I found a character named Casey puking. I found Jesus vomiting in a John Waters film. And finally, finally, after 950+ films, I found Tom Hanks throwing up.

I reached 1,000 films last November.

Total length: 2 hours, 19 minutes, 6 seconds

You can see the full list of films here.

I’d like to show it to you. You know what’s in it, you’ve been warned.

Fun fact: the earliest film I can find with a vomit discretion scene (so it’s not in the supercut) is the 1953 film Wages of Fear.

Fun fact: the earliest film in the supercut is a Korean film called The Housemaid, from 1960.  The remake from 2010 is also in the supercut.

Fun fact: The Exorcist is the 24th film in the list chronologically.

Fun fact: Jonah Hill is the most-featured celebrity in the supercut. He’s in there at least four times.

Fun fact: look for all the great Exorcist knockoffs in there!

Fun fact: four of the eight American Pie movies are included.

Fun fact: there was only one scene in the whole thing that made me briefly want to throw up.  See if you can guess which one!

I keep watching movies, and I keep finding vomit scenes. It’s actually a good gauge of a movie’s popularity if I discover it has a vomit scene at random: it simply means that the group of people who have seen it and the group of people who type in keywords on IMDB do not overlap.  The list now stands at 1,055 movies.  Once a year–probably on Christmas break–I plan to update the list, gather each year’s clips. My work will likely never be done.

But I did it.  Over the course of a single year, I collected 1,000 vomit indiscretion scenes.

It’s the worst thing I’ve ever made.

I’m so proud.

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Fire Flies pogs and water squirters (1994/1995)

2016/02/27

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So today (yesterday?) marks the 20th anniversary of the United States release of the Pokémon video game (games?). I’m a librarian, and my uncertainty in that last sentence should clue you in to how little I care to read about the franchise.  I was 11 when it first came out.  I had a Gameboy back then, and all I ever played on it was Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Tetris Blast, and The Ren and Stimpy Show: Veediots! (boy howdy was that game hard!).  I remember Pokémon being a Gameboy game… also a Nintendo 64 game?  Also that it was really popular and featured way too many characters and that the art held absolutely no appeal for me.

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You see, it was too simple.  And my preadolescent cortical folds associated simple art with simple concepts.  Pokémon read as very much for small children.  To me, this was the beginning of the end of the kind of art & design in cartoons and toys that appealed to me. In my formative years, I watched cartoons like Police Academy: The Series, Inspector Gadget, The Real Ghostbusters.

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There were at least three or four prevailing design aesthetics I can think of from my childhood. Police Academy: the Series was a Ruby-Spears production, and I can recognize it in other cartoons (Alvin and the Chipmunks, f’rinstance). You had the Disney/CalArts aesthetic and its various derivates. Then you’d get the odd French design (Inspector Gadget, Heathcliff, The All-New Dennis the Menace, various other DiC/Nelvana productions).  The Real Ghostbusters, I’m now realizing, was also produced by DiC, but in retrospect the art has a definite Japanese bent to it, especially with some of the ghosts. Obviously there’s lots I don’t know about these aesthetics, but I see trends.  Plus, when Nicktoons premiered in 1991, you had a variety of shows with their own quirky styles.  I could go on (Beavis and Butt-Head, Ren & Stimpy, The Maxx, Animaniacs) but the point, I suppose, is that there was a lot going on–in terms of diversity and in terms of design.  We weren’t talking shitty rubber hose animation or rotoscoping, you had real squash and stretch going on, even if some of it was very cheaply produced.  It, at least to my 11-year-old mind, was more realistic. There was often–I point you again to The Real Ghostbusters–a celebration of the grotesque and weird.  The late 80s/early 90s were a fun time, and I say this with full knowledge that I’m as biased as anyone who grew up 10 years before me, or 10 years after me.  I’m sure they were all fun times.  And everything I said about cartoons? Same thing for toys.  Again, I point you to The Real Ghostbusters.

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But by 1994, even, I saw this celebration of the grotesque on the downswing. I look back on the Mighty Max toyline now with a lot of fondness, but even back then it seemed a little watered down from hideously cool shit like the Brain Blaster Ghost (and his mini-lobe ghosts). By the time Pokémon came along, it seemed that the images of my youth were dead forever, and that a world of simplified, heavily-Japanese-influenced, cute characters were there to stay.

I’m as swayed by packaging as much as the next person, I suppose.  I like TaB cola primarily because it’s in a pink can.  My experience of Weezer’s Make Believe is shaded greatly by the fact that the album cover is black.  So, even though I was big into pogs in 1994, I sure as fuck wasn’t going to try to get my parents to by my Slammer Whammers.

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Forget that it wasn’t the official POG brand–look at this shit! I still react to it.  It’s trying way too fucking hard!  That font, trying to trademark some spin on the word “slammer”, the colors are four years out of style, the shapes were 25 years out of style… everything about this packaging screams “bargain bin”.  But looking back?  I far prefer this to Pokémon and everything that came after it.  But even the packaging pales in comparison to the art on the pogs themselves. I bought three packages of these so I could open one up.

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I hope you’ll forgive the shitty photos–my camera’s probably a decade old by now–and the dirty scans–made on the same scanner where I scan the pencil and crayon art for Jimmy Jone. But what we’ve got here is a derivative of the Ed Roth/Rat Fink/Weird-Ohs/Nutty Mads monster style, which itself was decades old at that point.  You’ll see the Rat Fink brand try to assert itself and catch on again every few years with a new toyline–there was one in 1991, Rat Fink Rad Rods–but it never really meets with much success.  I always get the impression that the Rat Fink brand is overseen by old men who wear “I’m in the Dickie-Do Club” shirts and have too much extra money. Anyway, Rat Fink never really catches on big no matter how many times it tries, and the same is even more true for anything that mimics the aesthetic.

I have no idea who did the art for Fire Flies, but it’s decent art! There were 24 pogs total, plus the pack I opened had an extra pog featuring “Hatchet Man”, as well as two slammers featuring a “Cap-Vac”, which I guess was a special vacuum for pogs that I now wish I owned. I could throw these pogs on the floor and vacuum them. The Imperial company made cheap toys all through the 80s and 90s–many of you probably know them through the Garbage Pail Kids toys they made.  So I have to imagine that they bought up a number of cheap properties that didn’t find any success with bigger companies.  There were probably grand ideas for a cartoon series, comic books, and even a full-fledged action figure line!  But what we ended up with, here in the wasteland of the mid-90s, were 24 pogs and 6 water-squirting toys.  Oh yeah, the toys!  Here’s some pictures:

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There were six Fire Flies toys total, released as carded two-packs. And maybe also individually in baggies? There’s a choking warning on the bag, so probably.  But again, look at that packaging design.  ABSOLUTE SHIT.  Two friggin’ layers of “reduced” price stickers on these things.  And yet I paid close to $100 for everything you see here today!  But that’s okay, because the point I’m trying to make here is that I prefer stuff I would have thrown away as a kid to Pokémon.

Did these Fire Flies have names?  Yes!  Well, almost…

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Chief, Chopper, Seltzer, Wrench, Trucker, and Snake. These aren’t so much names as they are identification instructions for the workers at the Chinese factory who had to paint and sort these into various bins. (Sidebar: I always hated that crap where a toy’s packaging or a cereal box purported to offer you “trading cards” that you had to cut out. I never liked it when the procurement of collectables depended on my subpar hand-eye coordination.)

Also, parents get some handy safety tips that were never, ever mentioned by the liberal 90s media, like using Class A.B.C extinguishers, or never using gasoline to bathe your children.  I feel like there should have been a warning not to use these water-squirters to try to put out a fire, but obviously the target audience for these things needed to be told that smoke detectors detect smoke, so nevermind.

For completeness, and for you collectors out there who will soon construct your eBay saved searches, the Slammer Whammers pogs are Series III, packaging dated 1994, with both US and Canadian releases.  The toys themselves are marked 1995, both on the cardbacks and the toys themselves.  The stamp on the figures’ bases lists both Steddy Toys as well as Imperial.  For those of you with time machines, these figures can be found in fine retailers like Kmart.