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Feb 072014
 

Ghosts have come in many forms on movies and TV shows, but none have been more varied than on Ghost Fever. Police officers Buford (Sherman Hemsley) and Benny (Luis Avalos, who I remember best as a cast member from The Electric Company) are sent to a mansion called Magnolia House to evict the residents so the house can be torn down to make a freeway. The only problem is that the place is haunted.

Buford and Benny arrive at the house, but it appears to be deserted as they investigate the different rooms. The ghosts who try to spook them are Andrew Lee (Myron Healey) and Buford’s great grandfather Jethro (Sherman Hemsley) who is the district supervisor of all the ghosts. Occasionally, Jethro gets called away to take care of problems other ghosts are causing elsewhere. It’s strange that Andrew has been a ghost for 125 years and still hasn’t figured out his powers yet.

What’s neat about these two ghosts is that no one else can see or hear them, leaving Andrew and Jethro to provide their own commentary while observing.

Among the rooms Buford and Benny explore is the basement, which is also a torture chamber. One device that really sticks out is the one used to improve a victim’s rhythm with two sledgehammers and a spike in the rear. I don’t think you’ll find anything like that in any ordinary castle dungeon.

Now the real threat Buford and Benny face is the ghost of Andrew’s father Beauregard Lee (Pepper Martin). He can’t be seen because he’s under a voodoo curse. Serves him right since he used to be a slave master and used his torture devices on them. However, Beauregard can still cause harm to anyone he pleases. Even after all of that exciting proof, Benny still doesn’t believe in ghosts nearly as much as Buford does.

The only way Beauregard’s spirit can materialize is with a medium. At the stroke of midnight, Madame St. Esprit (Jennifer Rhodes, who played Grams on Charmed) will have the power. In the meantime, Buford and Benny cannot leave, so they’ll have to make the most of their situation.

Helping them do so are Andrew’s lovely granddaughters Linda (Deborah Benson) and Lisa (Diana Brookes), who eventually become their love interests. The evening really becomes interesting when the four of them are all dressed up in the ballroom and dance away to the music. Even Beauregard joins in as a mummy man. He certainly has some moves.

Once the séance finally takes place, Beauregard materializes as a vampire intent on creating zombies to haunt graveyards. Now that’s quite a plot twist.

Beauregard now has the weakness of any other vampire. He soon gets defeated, but it’s not over yet. There’s still the issue of the eviction notice. Linda and Lisa are “attached” to Magnolia House, so Buford and Benny try to help them by raising the money they owe.

Benny has a solution. If he can take on boxing champion Terrible Tucker (Joe Frazier) in a boxing match and last three rounds, he’ll win the prize money provided. Benny sure has an unusual fighting style using dance steps and is very clumsy starting with the struggle of taking the robe off while wearing the gloves.

I liked this movie for its humor and excitement. I must admit that the special effects were nostalgic. Some of it looked so animated. You can tell that’s old school compared with today’s standards.

Jun 072013
 

Back in the early 90s, a whole new group of characters created by the late Jim Henson came to TGIF prime time, known as Dinosaurs – The Complete First and Second Seasons and Dinosaurs – The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons (1991-1994). Meet the Sinclair family. There’s Earl the head of the household, his wife Fran, and their three kids Robbie, Charlene, and Baby. They have comedic misadventures of family values, while living in a Jurassic period of dictatorship against rational thinking.

Many of the story lines on this series are highly relatable to the morals and issues we face in the modern day. Most of which appear as if they were invented terms. They include ones like; “Sexual Harris meant” represents “Sexual Harassment”, “War” coming from the slogan “We Are Right”, and “Peace” coming from the slogan “Pistachio Eaters Against Chief Elders”. That is so clever.

I used to collect Dinosaurs action figures, which also includes Earl’s boss BP Richfield. You remember that tough triceratops who often shouts, “Sinclair! In here now!” It was interesting to know that Sherman Hemsley voices the role.

Earl is a hilarious character. He thinks he knows everything because he’s a mighty megolasaurus who can knock down trees with his bare hands, but he doesn’t. However, once Earl opens up to his family, thanks to Fran’s encouragement, he learns to be more affectionate. But that’s not gonna change who he is, especially towards his mother-in-law Ethyl, who keeps calling him Fat Boy.

The real classic character is Baby Sinclair. I found it a little strange that he could talk fluently right after being hatched. “I’m the Baby. Got to love me.” Baby also likes to call Earl, “Not the Mama” while repeatedly hitting him on the head with a pot. Though Earl gets irritated, it’s like he doesn’t feel a thing. If Baby gets hit with anything or gets thrown across the room, he likes it. “Again!”

The other two kids, Robbie and Charlene, sometimes have issues of their own as any other teenagers do. It’s all about growing up. One major thing I’ve noticed about Robbie is that he wears sneakers. None of the other dinosaurs wear shoes.

Most of the other little creatures that represent food are still alive, including the massive crowd in the fridge. How do they survive in that icebox?

On occasion, cave people are featured. Like many prehistoric shows, they neglect the fact that cave people and dinosaurs never coexisted. In comparison, the dinosaurs are intellectually more superior. Yeah, right. They can’t even tell the cavemen from the cavewomen. I thought I saw a Teenage Mutant Ninja Cavemen poster on the back of Robbie’s door.

This is a real classic series that’s perfect for families of all ages. It’s kind of like The Cosby Show with a touch of Simpsons and Muppets. Isn’t it great?

One last item: During the series run, the Sinclair family made musical appearances at Disney’s MGM Studios theme park (before it was changed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios). The main song I remember from that was Walk the Dinosaur. How appropriate.