There is something inescapably bovine about an American tourist in motion as part of a group. A certain greedy placidity about them. Us, rather. In port we automatically become Peregrinator americanus, Die Lumpenamerikaner. The Ugly Ones. For me, boviscopophobia is an even stronger motive than semi-agoraphobia for staying on the ship when we're in port. It's in port that I feel most implicated, guilty by perceived association.
I've barely been out of the U.S.A. before, and never as part of a high-income herd, and in port - even up here above it all on Deck 12, just watching - I'm newly and unpleasantly conscious of being an American, the same way I'm always suddenly conscious of being white every time I'm around a lot of nonwhite people. I cannot help imagining us as we appear to them, the impassive Jamaicans and Mexicans, or especially to the non-Aryan preterite crew. All week I've found myself doing everything I can to distance myself in the crew's eyes from the bovine herd I'm part of, to somehow unimplicate myself; I eschew sunglasses and cameras and pastel Caribbeanwear; I make a big deal of carrying my own cafeteria tray and am effusive in my thanks for the slightest service.
But of course all this ostensibly unimplicating behavior on my part is itself motivated by a self-conscious and somewhat condescending concern about how I appear to others that is (this concern) 100% upscale American. Part of the overall despair of this Luxury Cruise is that no matter what I do I cannot escape my own essential and newly unpleasant Americanness. This despair reaches its peak in port, at the rail, looking down at what I can't help being one of. Whether up here or down there, I am an American tourist, and am thus ex officio large, fleshy, red, loud, coarse, condescending, self-absorbed, spoiled, appearance-conscious, ashamed, despairing, and greedy; the world's only known species of bovine carnivore.
I first saw this episode of Ren and Stimpy in 1993, when it aired on the Nickelodeon network. I'd just dropped out of animation school, pretty much because my films were hardly any more accomplished than Stimpy's.
Is this too obvious a selection for MotW? Have we all seen this already? Does it have a legacy? I hope so, but I really don't know. It doesn't seem to come up much.
My introduction to Motel Hell was its opening week in October of 1980, when just my dad and I went to see it at the Bel-Air. Kid heaven. My 11-year old self could not have been happier. Maybe it was the film's lighthearted approach to the gruesome material, although you certainly wouldn't get that impression from this intense trailer:
Remember this was 1980, when shocking splatter movies like Friday the 13th were bank. I'm including this trailer here not to give an impression of the film (it doesn't), but to show how said film can be re-purposed into a trailer whose tone is completely different.
The truth is that Motel Hell is a funny, freewheeling and oddball movie, and well worth your time. It stars the amiable Rory Calhoun, that gym teacher lady from Porky's, that one dude from CHiPs, and directed by the same guy who did the superlative At the Earth's Core. Looks like it's still in print by way of a cheap DVD double feature (paired with the not-so-funny Deranged), but I'll put the chaptered youtube stream here because that's what I do:
Unfamiliar to all but hardcore roller disco aficionados, 1979's Skatetown USA has never been released on DVD or VHS. The last time it was legally shown to the public was on cable TV in 1982. This is a digital rip from a 16mm film, so the quality isn't so hot, but you probably won't ever see it anywhere else.
Just like the other two roller disco movies of the trinity, Xanadu and Roller Boogie, Skatetown USA is set in Venice Beach. Unlike those two movies, the writing and direction is crud, little more than a series of disconnected, coke-fueled schticks with bad acting, indifferent framing and muffled sound recording interspersed with a lot of skating footage. It makes for a very, very long 93 minutes. As an additional word of warning, let it be known that the director's best-known movie is Blackenstein.
But if you take it in short doses, perhaps in ten-minute increments over the course of a week, it's very entertaining as an oddball time capsule. You get Patrick Swayze, Flip Wilson, Maureen McCormick (who spends the movie in a bikini top and hotpants, which sounds cool, but turns out to be incestuously uncomfortable for this viewer), Scott Baio (of Zapped), Greg Bradford (also of Zapped), Ruth Buzzi, Billy Barty, Joe E. Ross, Sydney Lassik (the only actor who has worked alongside both Jack Nicholson and Vanilla Ice, albeit for different films), Dorothy Stratten, Judy Landers, and a very special appearance by the Unknown Comic. It's a 70's all-star bonanza rivaling an entire season of the Love Boat!
268 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents were filmed, and this was the only one that was not aired. The sponsor, Revlon cosmetics, decided the ending was too intense, and demanded it be shelved. It was, however, included in the syndication package, so it's far from a lost episode.
Still, I never saw it before yesterday. Written by Robert Bloch (which he adapted from his own short story), it's like a gruesome E.C. comic, complete with the requisite poetic justice denouement, and some plot similarities to Tod Browning's Freaks. As a bonus, you get blond bombshell Diana Dors, (actual name: Diana Fluck), Britain's answer to Jayne Mansfield. There are worse ways to spend 25 minutes.
This episode is in the public domain, so besides seeing it here on youtube, you can download it from archive.org or many other places if you look.