TRASH THEATER, Part 3
VIVA LAS VEGAS & CLAM BAKE
Last time, due to a nasty accident in which a would-be drive-in sneak-in lost his testicles to a snapping barb wire, we were forced to go overtime in describing the necessary emergency techniques used to, hopefully, have this guy's nuts sewn back on, and therefore lost valuable movie reviewing time. We're going to return now and pick right up where we started.
The rest of the movies are:
Viva Las Vegas, 1964
Starring: Elvis Presley, Ann Margret, Jack Carter (Remember him from . . . something. Hey, was this the Maverick guy or the shitty comedian with the same name?) William Demarest (Remember him from My Three Sons?)
Directed by: George Sidney
Starring: Herb Evers, Virginia Leith, Adele Lamont, Leslie Daniel, Paula Maurice.
Directed by: Joseph Green
Clambake (Goin' to uh, Clambake. Clambake.) 1967
Starring: Big N, his own goddamn self Shelly Fabares, Will Hutchins (Remember him in Sugarfoot?) Bill Bixby (Remember him in The Hulk?)
Directed by: Arthur Nadel
It should be noted that we are writing this now in the cheery glow of a car fire, flaming two rows away. We thought at first a barbecue grill had gotten out of hand, perhaps too much gasoline tossed or an overly greasy pork chop that flamed up, but turns out an eye witness we talked to named Cletus, explained it like this.
"Well now, I was over'n that pickup right there. The one with the gun rack in the back and the hippie's skull on the hood ornament—got that back in 1968. One shot. Right through the liver. Well, I was sittin' there and whenever the movie got born', I'd take me a peek over there, cause the way my truck is all jacked up, I could see what they was a doin', and it wasn't Baptist business, I can tell you that..."
To make his long, meandering story short, seems Cletus was watching this gal with a bouffant hairdo, and she had her head bobbin' in the lap of this fella wearin' a Hawaiian shirt and polyester knits, and she was doing a sword swallowing act, and damn if she and this fella didn't get so worked up, he kicked a foot up and hit the lit skeeter coil on the dash and knocked it into her hairdo, which was ripe with Aqua Net hair spray. That dude went up like a dry wasp's nest, flames jumped to that ole boy's shirt, caught them polyester slacks on fire, speedily spread to them goddamn vinyl seat covers, and that was all she wrote. Damn car blazed like a rocket engine.
Anyway, that was the lead up, and by then, we were over there, and the car was a blazin', and hands and heads were pokin' out of the car—there were only two people in there—but they were poppin' from one side to the next so fast, trying' to get out, you'd have thought there were a dozen. It was just horrible.
Someone yelled, "Kick some dirt on the fire," but there wasn't any available dirt. Just asphalt, so that didn't work. Some cold drinks were tossed, but that was like trying to put out the sun by pissin' on it. We were all frantic, then a fella yelled from the crowd. "Whoa! This here car's got Yankee license plates. It's from Michigan."
A silence descended on the crowd, and they began to move back. A woman with a baby gently instructed everyone: "Back off. Let 'er burn."
Dave and Joe didn't share these sentiments. We think Yankees are okay. Well, they're kinda okay. We don't mind some of them. Some of our best friends are Yankees. They're all right you don't associate with them, too much. Don't be seen with them. Well, they're all right in their place.
Anyway, them damn Yankees burned right up. They weren't watchin' the movies anyway.
Little later, on our way to the concession stand, we saw a sign spelled out in popcorn on the asphalt next to the charred hull of the automobile containing the burnt skeletons of the amorous Yankees. In bold popcorn letters someone had written a touching sentiment: WELCOME TO TEXAS, GODDAMNIT.
Anyway, this little distraction is soon forgotten when Elvis starts blatting "Viva Las Vegas" from 165 drive-in pole speakers.
In the background, back there in them cars and pickups, you can actually hear them blue haired cracker ladies sucking them stretch pants up their cunts, they're so excited 'cause Elvis is on the screen. Lot of old fat peckerwood fellas ain't had a round of snatch since Elvis's Hawaiian special, are now getting their poles greased, and it's a sure thing the bulk of them peckerwoods will be purchasing Elvis's collected works on video and CD tomorrow at K-Mart, maybe combing what's left of their hair back and coloring it black, and splashing on that Elvis brand cologne.
So Elvis is on. His name in fourteen-foot, 1964-style gold glitter letters. The sucking of cunt flaps ceases in the background as we breathlessly await the moment when Elvis's voice hits right on target with that quintessential hon-key attitude: "Gotta whole lot of money to burn, so get those stakes up higher! If I wind up broke, I'll know I had a swinging time."
You see, Elvis, Big E, is a fiercely independent racecar driver. He's on his way to L.A. to pick up an engine for his racecar, but he gets sidetracked by a girl. He sees her. He's hot for her. He doesn't know who she is, and she takes off not telling him, his sausage hanging in defeat in his trousers.
'Course, we all know who that gal is. She's Ann Margret.
E goes to Las Vegas, and he wants this chick, as they like to refer to them in these movies. A term that designates something stupid and mindless, cute and fuzzy, which, in the case of this movie, is right on.
So Elvis, convinced this "groovy chick" is a showgirl, goes from one Las Vegas club to the next in search of her. It's a search designed to treat the males in the audience to a bevy of big-butted showgirl babes dressed in ostrich feathers and tank suits.
This part reminds us of the 1963 movie, The Brain That Wouldn't Die. (Well, it does remind us of it. Otherwise, do you think we would have bothered to mention it?) Part where this doctor's good-looking girlfriend gets her head pinched off in a car wreck, and he wraps her head in a rag, and runs like a scalded-ass ape to his lab, and wires that sucker up to some tubes and wires and an Eveready.
This keeps the head fresh. (Try this with a deceased pet, and let us know how it comes out, will you?) And while it's kept that way, Doc goes out in search of a new body for his Eveready Bunny's head. He goes from club to club (see the connection now?) eyeing female butts, babes in tank suits, looking for just the right one to fit his sugar doodle back at the lab.
This, of course, causes some problems. People really don't want their heads cut off, no matter how much Doc loves his babycums. Tragedy ensues. The head is unhappy. The Doc's plans to acquire bodies turns into a mess, so it ends up the Doc's sex life is ruined, and all he can get from now on is, you guessed it, a little head.
But that's enough. What's most important about The Brain That Wouldn't Die is you shouldn't confuse it with The Brain That Couldn't Die or The Brain That Shouldn't Die (wait a minute, did we make that up?) or even, They Saved Hitler's Brain, which has got to be one of the worst movies made since film was invented, next to a couple of episodes of Barney the Fucking Purple Dinosaur.
And, there's The Brain from Planet Arous, and there are brains with spinal cords that strangle people in Fiend Without A Face and turn to shitty oatmeal when they get a .45 slug through the grey matter. There's also Donovan's Brain, The Man With Two Brains, and one we here at Trash Theater are financing called, That Brain Ain't Gonna Fuckin' Die.
And that just touches the surface on Brain movies, something we hope to do a column on eventually.
Right now we're working on an Insect Fear column, written around a trip to The Philbert, Texas Fire Ant festival, but that's going to be in a chapbook, and you ain't gonna see it unless you buy it from Crossroads Press come Spring of '94, cause it ain't gonna be here in Cemetery Dance, brothers and sisters. It will come with drawings too, but we don't know who the artist is. We've got enough to worry about just putting our notes together on the Fire Ant Festival and trying to heal our ant bite wounds, which have lingered.
But, we don't believe in advertising our stuff, especially in our column, so, the less said about the chapbook, the better.
Crossroads Press address is: P.O. Box 10433, Holyoke, Ma. 01041-1833.
We sincerely doubt anything would happen to you should you not purchase this forty to fifty page chapbook, but we just want to say now, and up front, we don't want to be responsible if something does. I mean, these things happen.
Remember, that's Crossroad's Press: A Nest of Fear or, Trash Theater Goes to the Fire Ant Festival. Anyway, this really isn't the time or place for that, and since that is not our way, to advertise shamelessly, we'll move on.
(Remember: Crossroads Press. A Nest of Fear)
But anyway, this Elvis movie, it's like these Vegas gals could have been the same show girls. Maybe we could re-edit this, you know, splice in the Elvis movie with The Brain That Wouldn't Die.
I mean, if that Doc had found Ann Margret, he just might have turned off the electricity to sugar doodle's head back at the lab, and kept Ann Margret, head and all.
But say we put Elvis in the Doe's part. You know, a race car driver, and he wrecks, and he's got Ann Margret in the car with him, and she gets her head cut off, and Elvis, being the kinda guy he is, just throws the head away. Keeps the body. Maybe he doesn't even want a head on it. Just cauterizes the neck. Hotwires the decapitated corpse to a car battery with jumper cables, least when they have sex he does this, and then we got us a serious movie, something with a little existential angst. Like, does it really matter if your mate has a head or not, that kind of thing. Something about what men with IQs of 3 really want. Call it, Viva, The Vegas Honey Hole That Wouldn't Die.
It could be a hit.
But as for the movie of record, Viva Las Vegas, Elvis, he's searching for Ann Margret. He goes from place to place, even to a room full of—and we find this hard to believe—obnoxious Texas tourists. Elvis takes care of this. Like a pied piper, he sings "The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You," and the Texans, mesmerized, follow him out to a flatbed truck, and he has them hauled to the dump.
Finally, he finds Ann Margret. She's not just your normal bimbo here. She's a swim instructor-singer-dancer, and she steals the show when she struts her stuff wearing some yeller knit hot pants that are so tight, when she walks, her clam looks like its chewing bubble gum, maybe shelling a walnut.
Course, it was even more interesting where we were sitting, up under the big tin corrugated screen. That way, at times, when she walked just right, her clam stood out above us in bold 3-D relief, causing Joe to faint and horns to blow and random gunfire to go off from an assortment of pistols and deer rifles brought in by the crowd.
At this point, the plot, which stands on spindly toothpick legs to begin with, starts to evaporate. Having stunned the male audience with her protruding, mutant, fleshy article, which is the whole point of Ann Margret's presence in this movie, and if this sounds Male Chauvinist, well, fuck you, because this is an exploitation film, and we know it, and we know stupid when we see it, even if you don't. And if you do, we like you lots. And we're also males and don't mind looking at pussy. There. We've said it up front.
So, the male audience is stunned by Ann, and the female audience have Elvis to look at, and he's got tight pants too, not that we care, and we're assaulted by some musical numbers with all the depth and artistic beauty of a colored light wheel flashing on a foil Christmas tree.
(In fact, there's an album of this stuff, the worst of Elvis, mostly from the movies, maybe all of it from the movies, called Elvis's Greatest Shit. No shit.)
Anyway, everyone wanders around for a while. There's a car race, and guess what, Elvis loses!!!!
He wins, of course.
Be sure and notice the force field he has over his car which keeps the wind from mussing his hair. Either that, or he's got the goldangest brand of gel and hair spray this side of Essence of Tar Pit.
"Clambake. Clambake. We're gonna have a Clambake!"
We got to admit the title threw us. We thought this was an In-And-Out movie, but it ain't. It's an Elvis flick.
After a few seconds of pouting, however, we got into it.
"Clambake. Clambake. We're gonna have a Clambake!"
We just can't stop hummin' this little number. I mean, it kicks poodle ass with shitty and twangy studio guitar solos, and it's backed up by perky whitebread trumpets that sound a little like a one-lunged smoker blowing through a cardboard toilet paper roller.
Elvis also performs several songs where he glorifies mollusks and crustaceans. Long before The Little Mermaid, and the singing crab, Sebastian, Elvis was doing his tribute to the denizens of the sea.
There's "Song of the Shrimp," 1962, a real toe tapper.
"Do the Clam," 1965, something that'll really get you off your ass.
And, of course, "Clam Bake," 1967.
According to what we've read, this was quite a stretch for Elvis, who (if Brenda Arlene Butler, the author of Are You Hungry Tonight: Elvis's Favorite Recipes, can be accepted as gospel concerning his culinary delights) didn't even like seafood.
About the only thing close to seafood Elvis might have enjoyed, or desired to enjoy, was the tuna he dove in on, wrapped in white cotton pull-ups.
By the way, Are You Hungry Tonight, from Gramercy Books, shows us why Elvis had a weight problem later in life, and checked out early. Drugs didn't help him any, but considering this boy thought a meal wasn't complete unless it could be wrung out to deliver enough grease to comb and plaster down an unruly head of hair, it's amazing he lived as long as he did.
If it wasn't fried or full of sugar, he didn't much care for it. Well, not entirely true. The fact that he did eat vegetables is also revealed in the book. Under a special heading: Vegetables—Yes, The King Ate Vegetables.
When it has to be pointed out like that, you got to have your doubts about how many of them good healthy vegetables he ate. Considering these vegetables include such fine but fattening foods as Heavenly Mashed Potatoes, Mustard Greens and Potatoes, Southern Style, and Butter-Baked Sweet Potatoes, maybe he'd been doing about as good having a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. Which, of course, he often had, referring to it as a peanut butter and 'nanner sandwich. You eat a couple of these babies back to back, your blood pressure's gonna go up so high your balls will swell up. If you're a lady, we're not sure what swells, but something will.
They sound pretty good, though.
Clambake opens with Elvis tooling down the road—he's always tooling—in a fabulous custom 'Vette. He's got that force field around him again. His hair don't move, no matter how fast the scenery on the back screen whizzes by. He wears a cowboy hat sometimes, and it won't blow off neither. That sonofabitch is welded to his head, even when he tops out at 90 miles an hour.
In this one, Elvis plays a guy named Duster Heyward. Seems this poor Duster feller has too much of his Dad's money, and he is just fed up with it. This money is pissing him off. People don't take him serious. His hair doesn't blow. His cowboy hat stays on. And he's a chemical engineer with plans.
No sir, he's a walking, talking bank account. Nothing more. He's so pissed off about it, that in a kind of play on The Prince and Pauper (Elvis's literary nod to Mark Twain), he trades places with a "regular guy"—played as a goofy asshole water ski instructor by Will Hutchins—and sets out for a zany reality check.
The Regular Guy Asshole heads for Miami in Duster's ride, and Duster goes off on Regular Guy Asshole's Harley, complete with saddlebags. He hits the same hotel where Regular Guy Asshole is supposed to show up, and takes over his life as the new water ski instructor.
Now a new plot angle, as elusive as swamp gas, wavers into sight. Shelly Fabares is a gold digger on holiday. She wants to meet someone and marry them for money. But she meets Duster, and goddamn, if she doesn't fall for the big no-money lug.
Spot the irony here?
Silly Shelly tries to just stay pals with Elvis. One time, while they're taking a cruise on the Regular Guy Asshole's Harley, riding along the beach, Shelly confides to Duster that she has a desire to marry a sugar daddy, and Duster says he'll help her bag one. (We don't remember much about this part of the plot. Seems like she meets someone with money, or something. Frankly, we don't care and we're not watching it again.)
Needless to say, they have a perfectly safe afternoon where Elvis, in another moment of poignant, crushing irony, sings Shelly a song about a sad girl who marries for money not love.
There's a race in this movie too. A boat race. Seems Duster, that clever shit, has developed a super hard varnish in his dad's lab, and needs to prove that it works. He comes up with this only 24 hours before the big race. (You following this?)
Anyway, he whips up a batch, and a bunch of babes show up to have a twist-and-varnish-the-boat party. It's fun and games. Only thing, if the varnish isn't perfect, the boat will self-destruct.
And it's never been tested. Tension crackles in the air like an ignorant lineman straddling a 4,000-volt power line.
Personally, we had invented this, and were worrying about it self-destructing, we'd skip that race, or maybe talk Neal Barrett into driving the boat. Tell him it's okay, or something.
What we might try is putting the varnish on our dicks (Why doesn't that surprise you?) or have the bimbos do it.* The varnish worked, made things hard, think of all the money you could make with it as a marital aid. Talk about a woody.
Meanwhile, we get to attend a cool clam bake party, and it's complete with bongos, twistin' hip huggers with hips in them, and of course, the sacred Baking of the Clam.
Time for the big race, and the suspense builds like a stack of boiled rice kernels. But not to worry, Duster's boat stays in one piece—which is a disappointment—and he wins the race. Meanwhile, Shelly, that silly girl, has come around and decided she'd rather fall for Duster, the water ski instructor.
Imagine her goddamn surprise when he says he is Duster Heyward, and has lots of Dad's money. She just passes smooth out from shock and happiness.
And so do we.
What's the snack on this one? A greasy cheeseburger with lots of cheese. No ketchup, as that would make it a Yankee burger, and the King, he didn't eat no Yankee burgers. Make it with lettuce and pickle, sliced 'maters, sliced red onions, mustard and mayonnaise or salad dressing.
Maybe that fried peanut butter and 'nanner sandwich would be even more appropriate. That was Elvis's signature meal.
This is our end-of-the-year column, coming to you at the first of the New Year, so, a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
The ballots are in. The decision for placing the Canned Yam is about to be made.
And, the envelope please.
And, the winner is, Rush Limbaugh, the Honkey Guru, the conservative Jerry Rubin of the '90s, whose cracker minions follow mindlessly in his wake, and it's a big wake, as he seems to have Elvis's former chef.
Recently, Rush criticized Nacogdoches on his radio show as being populated by nothing other than a bunch of stupid, uneducated crackers. We know this, but we don't like to hear it from him.
Actually Nacogdoches is just like any other place in the world. It's mostly stupid, but it ain't all stupid, and where the hell does Rush "Fat Ass" Limbaugh get off calling Nacogdoches stupid merely because someone from here disagreed with him.
We'd also hope Rush would share his award with his followers here who make us want to fucking throw up. Maybe he could drive it up his ass for a day or so, then he could pass it around, then he could get it back up his ass later.
So Rush, from Trash Theater, the Canned Yam Award, and up your ass!
* Well, it's our column, and if we say bimbos would varnish our dicks, then they'd varnish our dicks. We are celebrities, after all.
Head on back Thursday, September 29, for a clambake-free selection from Champion Joe!
"Trash Theater, Part 3" originally appeared in Cemetery Dance Magazine. It later appeared in A Fist Full of Stories [and Articles], a collection published by CD Publications. "Trash Theater, Part 3" © 1992/1993 Joe R. Lansdale and David E. Webb. All Rights Reserved.