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Jan 312014
 

Before Monster High, there was another animated series about teenage monsters in an all-monster high school. It’s called Gravedale High (1990-1991), which is about human teacher Max Schneider (voice of Rick Moranis) making a difference to the school and his students with his quirky persona and creative teaching methods.

Gravedale High School has many different types of monster students. The main ones include, Vinnie Stoker the cool and laid back vampire, Frankentyke a young Frankenstein monster with a Bart Simpson persona, Reggie the brainy werewolf, Sid an invisible teen who is very comedic, and Gill the surfer lagoon creature with a monster tongue to go with his appetite.

There’s also JP an Igor-like monster that only dreams of being rich, Cleo the cute pigtailed mummy, Duzer the Medusa-like valley girl, and Blanche a shopoholic zombie.

The principal is Headmistress Crone. This strict witch-like monster that looks like the Bride of Frankenstein runs the school with an iron fist, which would explain her detachable iron hand.

Another character I remember well is Boneyard the bus driver. He has a deadpan persona and dresses like an undertaker.

Much of the humor comes from Chef Sal Monella. The stuff he serves in the cafeteria is unusually monstrous, just the way the monster kids like it. Sal takes pride in his filthy kitchen and his chef hat has a scary face on it. He certainly has a way with food.

This was an enjoyable series and I remember it best as part of a Saturday morning lineup. It was the show that always came on after Captain N and the Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3. Now that I see Gravedale High in comparison to Monster High, they are still very different, mostly because of the generation gap, if you know what I mean.

Sep 172010
 

Mel Brooks once said that you can’t spoof anything you don’t really love. Spaceballs is a spoof on Star Wars movies with a touch of several other sci-fi films from the 70s and 80s. Unfortunately, it was made back before the Star Wars prequels. So it’s a bit limited in that area, but it still works on many other levels.

It starts with a giant starship that takes about two and a half minutes to show. I mean, what is that thing? A flying Smithsonian?

 

Rick Moranis plays the evil Darth Vader character known as Dark Helmet. He carries a ring that represents the dark side of the Schwartz, but must Dark Helmet always aim for the groin? It’s as common as the hand chopping that occurs during the light saber fights on Star Wars.

There are also plenty of spoofed character names throughout the movie, which make it more comedic like Pizza the Hutt (voice of Dom Deluise), Prince Valium (Jim J. Bullock), Dot Matrix (voice of Joan Rivers), and Yogurt (Mel Brooks).

Michael Winslow plays the Spaceball radar technician, who discovers the “jammed” radar. (That’s such a priceless gag.) My sister and I saw him at FX Convention 2008. He was terrific performing his many sound effects and Jimi Hendrix music.

The heroes in this story are Lone Star (Bill Pullman) and Barf (John Candy) the mawg. When Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) of Panet Druidia runs away from her wedding to Prince Valium, her father King Roland (Dick Van Patten) hires the heroes to save her. In an attempt to bring Vespa back, they crash land on a desert planet called the Sands of Vega. Dark Helmet and the Spaceballs look for them by combing the desert… with giant combs?

Yogurt (Mel Brooks) shows that merchandising is where the real money from the movie is made. From that point on, we see Spaceballs merchandise on all sorts of things from bed sheets to toilet paper. I think that also includes Dark Helmet’s dolls.

There’s a point when Dark Helmet takes the form of Vespa’s father King Roland (Dick Van Patten) and lures her into his clutches. It always reminds me of the time when Evil-Lynn did that trick on the Masters of the Universe movie.

At the climax, Lone Star and Dark Helmet battle with their Schwartz rings used as light sabers. Although it takes both hands to use them, it was still exciting to watch.

This was a great sci-fi spoof movie and a real 80s classic. “May the Schwartz be with you,” as Yogurt would say.