Rick and Mondays – S1 E3 “Anatomy Park”

Welcome to the third episode. Out of all the episodes, this one is third-est. It also counts as the Rick and Morty Christmas episode, I guess.

SUMMARY

So, the episode starts with Jerry getting into the spirit of the season by singing “Last King Christmas,” a version of “Good King Wenceslas” designed for morons. As such, Jerry sings it well. He comes out of the kitchen with a ham to find that his family are all on their electronic devices, something that annoys him as he wants everyone to be a family for his parents, who apparently haven’t visited in years for some reason. It’s implied that Beth doesn’t like them, but it seems weird that they don’t show up for years at a time when they have grandchildren there.

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The spirit of the season

Jerry tries to get his family to celebrate a “human holiday,” but gets ignored until he takes all of their devices. Rick enters, accompanied by a senile, drunken, homeless man dressed as Santa Claus, who Rick introduces as Ruben Ridley (Jess Harnell). Rick says that every year he checks up on Ruben and gives him a medical evaluation, eliciting responses of admiration and suspicion from Beth and Jerry, respectively. Rick takes Ruben into the garage as Jerry’s parents arrive, followed by a young man named Jacob (Echo Kellum).

Jerry’s mother, Joyce (Pat Lentz), explains that Jacob came into their lives after his father, Leonard (Dana “Wait, Dana Carvey? Holy shit, Dana Carvey” Carvey), had a heart attack. She says that the three of them are learning to “live again.” Jacob, unfailingly polite and upbeat, quickly charms most of the family, aside from a still-confused Jerry.

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Guess who’s coming to dinner? And also banging your mom?

Rick re-enters and grabs Morty. In the lab, Ruben is dying on the table, so Rick shrinks Morty down and sends him inside Ruben, where Morty finds himself at the entrance to Anatomy Park, a theme park in Ruben’s body. Rick explains that it’s a business venture he’s been planning in order to earn some sciencin’ money. At first it just appears to be mostly Disneyland-esque rides, including Rick’s problematic personal passion project Pirates of the Pancreas. Yeah, that’s alliteration.

Morty heads to Ruben’s liver, where he’s ambushed by Poncho (Gary Anthony Williams), the park’s head of security, and introduced to: Roger (Jess Harnell), a zookeeper; Annie (Jackie Buscarino), a churro-stand worker; and Dr. Xenon Bloom (John Oliver), who appears to be a sentient amoebic alien from the UK that runs the park. Bloom reveals that Anatomy Park is a collection of the world’s deadliest diseases, which are now running rampant throughout Ruben’s body. Also, they’re monsters, rather than, say, what any disease actually looks like, because that would be boring. The group is attacked by Hepatitis A.

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Back at the house, the rest of the family is at dinner, where Jerry finally inquires about exactly what relationship Jacob has to his parents. Jacob is revealed to be Joyce’s lover, whom Leonard enjoys watching have sex with his wife, typically while dressed as Superman. Beth is supportive of this, while Jerry is horrified. Summer, still mad at not having her phone, feels some serious Schadenfreude at Jerry’s pain.

Inside Ruben, the group escapes from Hep A, finding themselves in the lungs, which aren’t producing enough air for Ruben’s brain, which apparently shuts down security. Whether this is because the security team lives in Ruben’s brain and are now dead or if Ruben’s brain actually IS the security system is frustratingly never answered. They’re joined by Alexander (Rob Schrab), who is a dog mascot for the park. Morty, trying to impress Annie, climbs up the alveoli in the lungs to check for blockage, but soon finds that there is a swarm of tuberculosis attacking them. During the attack, Poncho shoots Ruben’s lungs, causing him to cough. The team tries to evacuate the lungs, but Alexander is killed when Ruben takes a deep breath, with his corpse being coughed onto Rick’s forehead. Morty tells Rick that Ruben has TB, which Rick says he can cure, before Ruben suddenly dies.

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Somehow, I feel this isn’t the first time Rick has had a corpse spit on him.

Rick, apparently unable to cure death, tells the group they need to quickly get out of Ruben, before telling Morty to check out Pirates of the Pancreas, because the pirates are realistic and “really rapey.” The group tries to make its way out of the park through the digestive tract to the colon, where there is an emergency enlarging ray. Morty leads the team while still trying to hit on Annie and failing. They board the “It’s A Small, Small Intestine” ride, which is a parody of exactly what you think it is. They then get attacked by Gonorrhea, which is actually less horrifying than the singing dolls. Morty realizes that they’re surrounded by explosive gas and has Poncho ignite it, killing Gonorrhea. This finally gets Annie to really notice Morty.

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I’m so curious about Tummy Fillers! Do they sell food or taxidermy supplies?

Back in the house, the family is in a drum circle having a great time, except for Jerry who is still upset about Jacob. Beth even apologizes to Jerry and tries to get him into the holiday. Ethan (Daniel Benson), Summer’s secret boyfriend shows up, complaining that she hasn’t texted him in a few hours. Ethan snaps at Summer, not really listening to the situation, before Jerry asks if this is her boyfriend. Jacob remarks that Jerry really needs to connect more with his family.

In Ruben’s colon, the group arrives at the enlarging ray. Roger tries to power it up before the sphincter dam breaks and floods the colon with crap, but Morty notices a strange object in Poncho’s backpack. It’s revealed that Poncho has been stealing exhibits of Bubonic Plague to sell as bioweapons. Morty attacks him, allowing Bubonic Plague to get free and bite Poncho, resulting in his death. Then, the dam starts to burst. Roger gets caught trying to flee and ends up killed by the wave of shit.

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It happens.

Inside the living room, Jacob confronts Ethan over his anger, which is revealed to come from being molested by his brother. This emotional revelation is quickly parlayed by Jacob into personal growth for Ethan, which leads to he and Summer proclaiming their love and making out. Jacob and Joyce start making out while Leonard goes into a closet to reveal his Superman outfit. Jerry shouts that he hates this, but everyone else in the house seems to be on-board. Jerry then proclaims that he hates Christmas and leaves for the garage.

At the Anatomy Park theater, Morty and Annie are rounding first base, with Annie giving him the go-ahead to round second, while Dr. Bloom eats ice cream and watches an animatronic Ruben introduce himself. In the garage, Jerry apologizes to Rick for judging him as a crazy relative, which gives Rick an idea. He tells Morty to get to Ruben’s left nipple to get out. Dr. Bloom says that to get there, they need to ride The Bone Train, a monorail system attached to Ruben’s skeleton. Rick grabs a scalpel, Ruben’s corpse, and some dynamite and gets in the car, flying to space. Morty’s group is pursued by E. Coli. Dr. Bloom sacrifices himself to start The Bone Train before realizing there is an autopilot that renders his sacrifice stupid. Morty defends Annie with a fire extinguisher from the legions of E. Coli.

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Oddly, E. Coli is a bacteria, but these look like viruses.

Rick flies Ruben to outer space and enlarges him to gigantic proportions. Newspeople all over the US report, with a fair amount of professional calm, about the giant man floating over America, though they do speculate about the size of Ruben’s penis over the Rocky Mountains. As Annie and Morty get to the end of the track and find the nipple, they are attacked by Hepatitis A again, before Hep A is dispatched by the larger Hepatitis C. The pair exit the nipple hole and are rescued by Rick, who dynamites Ruben’s corpse.

At the Smith house, the family is lamenting Jerry’s attitude when it starts to rain blood. Everyone panics until Jerry comes in with screens for them all, telling them that the media says not to worry. Jerry says they all learned something this Christmas, which Summer immediately denies. In the garage, Rick laments Dr. Bloom’s passing until Annie says that she could create a new Anatomy Park, leading him to shrink her again. Morty complains that Rick took Annie away, but Rick tells him Annie had a puffy vagina. The pair re-enter the house to find everyone on a screen, leading Rick to call them out for not paying attention to the holiday. In the post-credits scene, Rick is building a new Anatomy Park in Ethan, but finds that they are not going to include Pirates of the Pancreas, leading Rick to get pissed off and seemingly quit the project.

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END SUMMARY

Okay, so, this episode is reference-heavy, even by Rick and Morty standards. So, let’s go through some of them.

JOKER’S “DID YOU GET THAT?” REFERENCE CORNER

First, Anatomy Park is a combination of Jurassic Park, Fantastic Voyage, and Disneyland. It’s actually probably closer to the park seen in Jurassic World than in the first Jurassic Park film, since the original park was more akin to a nature safari designed to show off the zoo, whereas there are actually rides and shows in the new park… prior to it getting destroyed. The whole shrinking and entering a body thing is from a lot of sources, but I think the idea of going into a body to fix a problem is most associated with Fantastic Voyage. The Jurassic Park thing is made pretty explicit. Xenon Bloom is clearly designed to look like John Hammond, down to the cane with what appears to be a fetus trapped in amber. Hepatitis A being caught in mid-attack by Heptatitis C who somehow wasn’t noticed until this point is a reference to the T-Rex eating the velociraptor at the end of the original film. Hep C then gives a thumbs-up to Morty and Annie, with Morty asking if they had any relationship with him, to which Annie says “I think they’re just like that.” This seems to be a reference to the fact that T-Rexes often save the heroes during the Jurassic Park films. At one point, Dr. Bloom tells the group that Gonorrhea can’t see them if they don’t move, but then admits he was thinking of a T-Rex, which is about as direct a reference as it gets.

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Haven’t seen Jurassic World 2 yet, but I hope this part is in it.

According to the Rick and Morty wiki, Xenon Bloom’s name is a play on Jeff Goldblum, but with another element in place of gold. I also have seen people speculating that Xenon was chosen based on the fact that it can be used in anesthetics and neuroprotectives, referencing both Bloom’s boring nature and the fact that he works to keep Ruben alive. I myself first thought it was a joke in that Xenon is a noble gas that reacts to basically nothing, while Bloom panics constantly and seeks validation for jokes throughout the episode. However, I now realize that his name is a reference to the Disney Channel film Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, a sci-fi movie which featured the musician Proto Zoa and the band Microbe. This is clearly the intention of the writers and will hear no other explanation. The spelling difference is clearly for legal reasons.

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Cetus Lapetus, this is the greatest reference ever.

There’s also apparently a theory going around that Leopold, Jacob, and Joyce’s relationship is a reference to Ulysses, where Leopold Bloom is cuckolded by his wife, but literally nothing about this matches up except that Leopold is the husband’s name in both, and Joyce sounds like James Joyce, the author of the book. The relationship is completely unrelated to the one in the book, so I’m gonna just say it’s coincidence or the leftovers from a planned reference. Maybe they’ll even use it as one in the future, but it ain’t one here.

LEAVING THE CORNER

So, this isn’t my favorite episode of Rick and Morty, but it’s hard to articulate why. I guess I should say that I think the jokes in this episode are just too easy for a show of Rick and Morty’s caliber. The premise is funny, but it isn’t quite the level of subversion that we usually get from the show. Instead, it’s just “what if Jurassic Park were filled with diseases” and nothing else. Usually, this is the kind of thing that the show would use to show a different angle on the premise.

I also don’t think the jokes quite land as hard as other episodes, pretty much summarized with Bloom’s line “The digestive tract is the evacuation route. Get it?” He has several things like that where he’s attempting to do bad comedy, with Morty even asking him why he’s doing a bit while they’re going to die. Now, don’t get me wrong, this could have been hilarious and, in fact, probably should have been, but it just didn’t ever quite land for me. This is despite the fact that they cast John Oliver, who is a comedian you can absolutely envision saying “I made a joke. Did you get the joke? Oh god, why didn’t you get the joke. I shouldn’t do this. I shouldn’t have been a comedian. I should have been a haberdasher like my mother told me to.” Usually, I’d totally find that funny, but it never quite goes far enough out of the scene to really hit absurd.

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Perfect casting.

Another joke that usually should have been the gateway to hilarity is Poncho’s rant, but, again, it just felt too easy of a joke. He says he could have sold the Bubonic Plague to “Al Quaeda. North Korea. Republicans! Shriners! Balding men that work out! People on the Internet that are only turned on by cartoons of Japanese teenagers!” I mean, this is just a list of people who society points out are angry bastards. This could be on any show. The humor in Rick and Morty is usually more distinct. It almost seems to get there when Poncho starts to say that it’s all because Bloom gave him an iTunes gift card as a holiday bonus, but that gets cut-off by Morty attacking him. Oh, and Bubonic Plague still exists in the real world, so that’s a stupid thing to try to sell. Could you not find smallpox?

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Morty’s assertiveness in this episode is a little out of character, even for when Morty is trying to get laid. Usually Rick has to goad him more or pull him along, but since Rick isn’t in most of the episode, the show naturally has to give Morty more to do to move the plot along.

Also, and this one is weird, Rick’s role in the episode bothers me. First, Rick creating a theme park to make money is odd, because I have never understood why exactly Rick seems to constantly need money. He’s the smartest person in the universe, he routinely makes technology that crosses from science-fiction into fantasy, and yet we constantly see him doing things that suggest he’s broke. I honestly think it’s a play on the idea that engineers can’t do marketing as they think it’s pointless, so they can’t sell the great things they make. It also would explain why Jerry is in advertising, since, to Rick, that would be the most useless thing in the universe. Second, when Morty tells Rick that it’s TB, Rick just pulls a needle out of his own coat to inject Ruben, as if he has a TB cure on him. This is the kind of thing where Rick would normally lampshade that they’re on a TV show and that’s why he magically has a cure he couldn’t have used a few minutes ago, but it just plays it straight. Third, why the hell can’t Rick cure death? I know this is early on in the show, but I still find it weird when Rick says he “can’t” do something, since he literally lives to do things that are impossible. And he doesn’t even try to save Ruben by normal methods, let alone his superscience.

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He turned himself into a pickle, for goodness’ sake.

On the other side is the B-plot with the Smith family. This is actually the kind of subversion we usually want out of the show, because it’s taking the typical Christmas show message about the importance of family and instead making it about Jerry being freaked out by his mom and dad’s unorthodox sex life until Jerry finally gives everyone back their devices and allows them to ignore each other. Especially since the family is almost immediately on-board with the human holiday once Jerry’s parents are there, meaning that they learned the lesson from a typical Xmas movie, then immediately unlearn it.

I’m also going to say that I found it difficult to research parts of this episode because I ended up seeing the word “cuck” a lot, and I actually had to agree that this is a rare example of the word actually applying. Jerry’s dad Leopold enjoys watching his wife cuckold him, so he is, according to Urban Dictionary, a “cuck.” So, Jerry’s a “Beta Male” who is the son of a “cuck.” Add in that Ethan was molested by his brother (something that is literally just glossed over in an almost careless way) and I’d be shocked if this episode wasn’t listed on the Red Pill Reddit page as proof of the de-virilization of the media. But I wouldn’t even check for less than $200. Also, do NOT Google Image Search the word “cuck” with SafeSearch off.

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Ultimately, this episode just seems like the crew hadn’t yet hit their stride on the show. Still, it’s got some fun moments in it. I definitely love the moment when Bloom says “Never mind, I wanted to sacrifice myself anyway” after finding out that it was needless and the premise is actually still pretty awesome. But, it definitely got better after this.

Overall, I give this episode a

D

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

PREVIOUS – 2: Lawnmower Dog

NEXT – 4: M. Night Shaym-aliens!

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

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Reader Bonus: The Monster Squad

This movie is magical. I have loved it from the first time I saw it probably 20 or so years ago. In a lot of ways, this movie encapsulates one of my most basic philosophies of media: A movie can do anything, as long as it is consistent in the amount of disbelief it asks the audience to suspend. While the monsters in this movie are clearly just people wearing cheap costumes, that’s as a tribute to the old horror movies that the kids in the film are obsessed with. The movie asks you to just go with it because it’s fun, and dammit, that’s enough of a reason to go with it.

So, the Monster Squad is the story of a group of kids who are big fans of old-school monster films, mostly the Universal Monster films from the 1930s-50s and the Hammer films of the 50s-70s. The kids are the Monster Squad, not the actual monsters, despite the monsters also being in a squad. Or perhaps the monsters are the squad, but then the kids also take the name at the end of the movie…. There are many mysteries contained within this film.

SUMMARY

MonsterSquadMonsters.jpg

So, the movie begins with Abraham Van Helsing (Jack Gwillim) fighting Dracula (Duncan Regehr) and attempting to cast him into Limbo. However, Van Helsing fails and is trapped within the other world himself.

100 years later, Van Helsing’s diary ends up in the hands of newly teenaged Monster-phile Sean Crenshaw (Andre Gower). In what is one of the most unbelievably excellent moments in film history, and one that films regularly skip over, Sean finds out that he can’t read the diary, not because it’s encoded, but because it’s in German (Actually Dutch, but why would Sean know the difference?). You know, the language that Van Helsing would naturally write in, because he’s Dutch in the book. Out of basically every Dracula adaptation, this is one of the only ones that actually bother to point this out when reading his diary.

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Sean and the rest of his friends, Patrick, Horace, Rudy, Eugene, and occasionally Sean’s 5-year-old sister Phoebe (Robby Kiger, Brent Chalem, Ryan Lambert, Michael Faustino, and Ashley Bank) go to see the local Scary German Man (Leonardo Cimino), who, as it turns out, is a kind old man who is happy to translate it from Dutch. Also, he was a former concentration camp prisoner. See, the scary figure actually was kind and himself a victim of cruelty. I wonder if this theme will come back in the film?

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A Victim. Not a monster.

The Diary describes an amulet that is composed of concentrated good energy. It helps keep the balance of good and evil in the world. However, one day out of every 100 years, it becomes vulnerable to destruction, which would unbalance the world and allow evil to run rampant. However, on that same day, the amulet can be used to balance all supernatural evil from the world, by casting it into limbo. And, darned if that day isn’t pretty soon. How surprising.

The Amulet was hidden in the US by the apprentices of Van Helsing so that Dracula couldn’t find it, but now, Dracula is coming. He summons his most vicious monstrous assistants: The Mummy (Michael MacKay), The Creature who may or may not be from the Black Lagoon (Tom Woodruff Jr.), The Wolf Man (Carl Thibault), and three school girls (Mary Albee, Joan-Carrol Baron, and Julie Merrill) who are made into his vampire brides. Dracula also breaks into a military plane carrying the remains of Frankenstein’s Monster (Tom Noonan), who he assumes will join his army. However, the Monster, being part human, doesn’t like Dracula that much. The monster wanders off into the forest where he encounters Phoebe, who befriends him. The rest of the Monster Squad meets Frankenstein and determines that he is not evil, but kind, misunderstood, and a victim of cruelty. … I feel like I wrote that before.

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… Yes, this is really from the movie.

Meanwhile, the Wolf Man, when he’s human, is also not a fan of Dracula, and he keeps calling the police, who, of course, ignore him for talking about monsters. However, Sean’s father Del (Stephen Macht), is assigned to investigate all of the weirdness happening around town. He doesn’t believe any of it to be supernatural, of course.

Dracula and the monsters actually are occupying the building where the amulet is found, but the room it’s contained in is so littered with wards that no evil being can enter. The kids break in and steal it, and manage to avoid getting caught by Dracula. However, Dracula responds by following them back to their treehouse and… BLOWING IT UP WITH DYNAMITE.

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I say Boom Boom Boom.

No, really, in what is one of my favorite movie moments, Dracula doesn’t do the traditional “sneak into your home and attack you personally” thing, he just starts chucking explosives. He’s immune to being blown up, why the hell wouldn’t he do this all the time? It’s brilliant. However, it does draw the attention of Sean’s dad, who finally sees Dracula and believes in the supernatural explanation for recent events.

The team have to find a female virgin to read the incantation to banish evil, and it must be on holy ground, so they drive to a cathedral with their older sister Lisa (Lisa Fuller). However, because it’s a cathedral, not a 7/11, it’s closed at midnight. However, they decide to read it on the stoop, as a work-around, since the entryway is technically holy ground. Lisa begins reading, but the spell fails, because Lisa had figured that the stuff she did with one of her exes “didn’t count.” Apparently the universe draws a different line than she does.

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… No comment

So, naturally, they realize that the 5-year-old Phoebe is a virgin, and the German man helps her read the spell. Meanwhile, Dracula and his monsters have come, so the kids face off against the monsters. What follows is a simultaneous invocation of monster lore (like pointing out that they need a silver bullet to kill a werewolf/no one knows the Creature from the Black Lagoon’s Weakness) with a mockery/common sense takedown of them (alternate solution: hit him in the groin really hard and blow him up with dynamite. Doesn’t kill him, but slows him down a lot/ Bullets work really well on fish). Eventually, they manage to kill all of the monsters except for Dracula, who arrives late.

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Bullets! One of my only weaknesses! Also knives, cars, and heat lamps.

Dracula, unfortunately for the kids, doesn’t really screw around, and just starts killing a ton of the police with ease. He finally reaches Phoebe, and threatens her, however, Frankenstein’s monster shows up and spears Dracula with a wrought-iron fencepost as the portal to Limbo opens. Dracula grabs Sean, who manages to stake Dracula through the heart. However, this doesn’t actually kill him, but at the last moment, Abraham Van Helsing emerges from the portal and pulls Dracula in with him.

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Frankenstein then goes into the portal willingly, knowing that he doesn’t belong in the world of humans, and the portal won’t close without the monsters being on the other side. Phoebe gives him a stuffed animal to remember her.

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Soon, the Army shows up, ready to fight the monsters, but Sean informs them that evil has already been slain, presenting the General with a business card referring to them as “The Monster Squad.” Roll. F*cking. Credits.

END SUMMARY

What’s crazy is that I love this movie mostly for the reasons that other critics seem to hate it. First, it has a ludicrously high body count for a movie starring kids. Dracula is not the traditional portrayal; here he is decidedly more vicious and ruthlessly efficient. He’s not out to seduce lonely housewives or whatever, he’s here to take over the world, and to get rid of the people in his way. He has super-strength, invulnerability, and is immortal. He just dynamites his enemies, because that’s simpler than having to find a way to be invited in. This is one of my favorite Dracula performances of all time.

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I could turn into a bat, but… Dynamite, bitches!

Second, all of the monsters look like guys in costumes. Well, no sh*t. That’s what they are. The movie is a tribute to the costumes of the old horror movies. But they’re damned good costumes. Until The Shape of Water came out, this was my favorite-looking Fish-man (Abe Sapien is his own category).

Third, the plot’s generic. Well, yeah, but they use the generic plot to explore within it. And they play around with it enough to make it fun. Plus, the details are actually kind of nice. Van Helsing’s Diary isn’t in English. Cathedrals aren’t open at Midnight during the week. “Virgin” isn’t exactly clearly defined, because they don’t say whose standard it is. Nothing in mythology about the Creature from the Black Lagoon says you can’t just shoot him. These are great things that the movie points out, it’s like they intentionally were trying to avert some of the more common tropes of these horror movies.

Ultimately, I think this movie is underrated. I really do. I like the fact that it’s ALL of the Universal horror monsters together. I like the fact that Frankenstein is portrayed sympathetically. I like the fact that Dracula is just an unstoppable killing machine when he wants to be. I like the fact that the US Government knows enough about monsters to send in a huge number of soldiers and tanks to deal with them. Is it the best movie? No, but it’s damned fun and it delivers exactly what it promises. Honestly, this is one of the best homages to classic horror, and I hope it keeps getting seen.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.