Archive for Roderick Watson

Things Roddy Said During “Destroy All Monsters”

Posted in FILM, Television with tags , , , , , , on August 28, 2009 by dcairns

Fiona’s brother Roddy came for a visit on Saturday. Since he has learning difficulties, he’s naturally enough a fan of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, an annual jamboree in which marching bands in kilts compete to see who can create the largest amount of sonic pollution with their breath. Fiona and I take it in turns to sit through this unvarying pageant with him, every year.

Fortunately, Roddy has other interests, and apart from heavy metal music, military hardware, cranes and tractors, and football (if you like any of these things… well, I don’t like to make a diagnosis without meeting you, but…) he’s quite big on monster movies — Universal horror, Hammer, Japanese monsters, anything sufficiently monsterific. So I thought I’d use his stay to catch up on some kaijin action and score off another film in my quest to See Reptilicus and Die. As documented here, here, here and here, I’ve been attempting to see all the films illustrated in Denis Gifford’s seminal-to-me-and-Fiona (and Roddy) Pictorial History of Horror Movies.

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Turning to page 174 of that august and greenish tome, we see a snazzy illo of Toho’s DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, directed by original GOJIRA helmer Ishirô Honda, which rounds up the largest collection of 100ft high men in lizard costumes ever assembled under one tent. I sold it to Roddy with the words “lots of monsters” and “giant spider.” Roddy’s thing about monsters is a childish enthusiasm (like mine), perhaps. His thing about spiders amounts almost to a fetish. The Digital Versatile Disc was duly loaded into the Panasonic.

“Right!” said R. “Get ready for the most… frightening film ever!”

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Monsterland! Wouldn’t we like to go THERE for a holiday! The United Nations (the most corrupt organization on this planet, btw) has somehow gathered all Earth’s giant monsters on one island, keeping them there with what appear to be smoke pellets. Godzilla and chums, like the dumbest of livestock, keep wading out to sea and getting gassed, then staggering back to dry land, shaking their little green fists.

The science base on Monsterland goes out of communication. This is just like JURASSIC PARK, only rubberier. Top scientists call for an investigation, sending the nearest available task force, which is currently, er, on the Moon. On the Moon? Is that really the closest we’ve got? Anyhow, within minutes the rocketship is touching down and finding possessed scientists, missing monsters, and space aliens. And now the giant monsters are burrowing up from the earth (never explained, this bit) all over the world! Godzilla in New York! Rodan in Peking! The late Baragon in Paris! To quote Mystery Science Theater: “Oh the humanity! Oh the Japanity!”

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Godzilla stomps. “Imagine meeting him on a -” Roddy pauses, for once fazed by the fact that his catchphrase, “on a dark night,” seems unapplicable to the cheerfully daylit nightmare before him. “- on a day like that,” he finishes, accurately.

“Uh-oh” Roddy said this a few times. Once was definitely in response to Manda, perhaps the crappiest of the monsters, essentially a big snake with little legs. Apart from being stupid-looking, he’s called Manda. I call him Amanda, just to piss him off. What’s he going to do? He’s on television.

The other thing Roddy says a few times is “Where’s that giant spider?” Which I can’t answer because I  haven’t seen the movie, just the trailer. But the trailer definitely had a G.S. in it.

Mothra, in caterpillar form, smashes a train. “Typical monster,” pronounces Roddy.

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A sexy space alien! “Cor, she’s nice.” This sparks a reverie — “I tell you what I was watching last week. [Hospital soap opera] Holby City. There’s some nice nurses on that.”

Possessed lady scientist. “Mmmm, who’s she then?”

Ten minutes later, out of the blue: “I would love to go into Holby, as a patient.”

Me: “You’d have to get sick. What would you want to be ill with?”

“That’s a good question.”

“You could get swine flu,” I suggest.

“Or piles!” remarks Roddy, brightly. Here, my heart breaks a little. It’s not decent to feel sorry for people who are really perfectly happy in themselves. But I feel some sympathy for anybody who dreams of getting hemorrhoids just so pretty women will look at his arse. Which they’re not otherwise lining up to do.

Something in the sky! A poorly-dubbed bit part player wonders what it is. “An aeroplane, ya donut!”

“What’s he doing on the railway track?”

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It turns out that the aliens are controlling the monsters with some kind of spherical device. “This one was found inside a coconut in Guam.”

“That’s typical, isn’t it?”

Sidenote — you know how they made Godzilla’s voice? All you need is a double bass and a catcher’s mitt. Loosen the strings and seize them firmly in the mitt, straining them firmly through the leather, and you produce the requisite inhuman roar. Try it at home!

“What’s that they’ve found?”

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“Where’s that…eight legged creature?”

The giant spider, named Spigon I think, eventually shows up, out of nowhere, and joins the giant monster rally, which is basically all the monsters ganging up on poor old King Ghidorah, the space monster. “That’s racism!” says Fiona.

Ghidorah makes a cute electronic sound effect, like a character from The Clangers, as they all kick the shit out of him.

Finally, Godzilla’s son, who isn’t actually called Godzooky, and is probably the least successful attempt at a cute monster since the Turkish E.T., blows a smoke ring that encircles one of Ghidorah’s three throats and throttles him. It must have been his main throat.

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The movie ends. “So, what have we learned?” I ask.

“Loads of things!”

“Yeah? What like?”

“The giant spider… destroyed all the monsters.”

Which isn’t quite accurate. But it’s a shorter summary than mine.

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Things Roddy said during Face of the Screaming Werewolf

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on December 28, 2008 by dcairns

Every year at Christmastime, we are visited by a jolly fat man in a red hat:

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Face of the beaming Watson.

Fiona’s brother Roderick. The fun never stops when he’s around. Since he has Williams Syndrome, and since he’s not terribly mobile, he can’t really make his own entertainment — except by talking. So the T.V. comes in very handy, and fortunately Roddy agrees with us about horror movies — even when they’re bad, they’re good.

Like a Benshi film describer, or Tod Slaughter narrating his own death in a melodramatic fashion, Roddy keeps up a running commentary during most movies, considerably more eloquent and informative than any of Tim Burton’s director’s commentaries, and with fewer stretches of numbing silence.

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The movie begins as a comely Mexican lady is sent into hypnotic trance by a special machine.

“What’s that sound? What’s the matter with her?” (Eagerly) “Has she been bitten by the werewolf?”

As the woman sinks into coma, a small boy crawls into the lab and hides under a table. At first I thought he was her hallucination, but he’s not. This is my favouritest thing in the whole film, because it’s never explained. But then, very little is explained. I think the geniuses (genii?) who dubbed the movie decided to cut all the boring plot stuff.

In her trance state, the woman experiences a vision of dusty mesas (mesae?) and pyramids.

“Where’s that? Is that Transylvania?”

Some Indians appear.

“Is this to do with Indians or something?”

(Roddy notices I’m jotting down these notes. I feel guilty.) “What’s that you’re writing?” (Looks at squiggles.) “Mmmm!”

The Indians begin a ceremony deep within their pyramid, which involves a lot of walking about.

“Why are they walking about, David?”

After what seems like twenty minutes of walking about, there is a sacrifice, and we cut to our modern-day hypnotic conquistadores entering the tomb, followed by the small boy, who’s sneaked after them. We still don’t know who anyone is.

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Something shambles about in the darkness.

“I ken what that is — the mummy! Am I right? Is that a woman or a man? I can’t tell.”

A sound.

“Is that a wolf?”

The scientists retrieve a female mummy, and Lon Chaney, who turns out to be a modern man who’s transfused himself with mummy juices in order to bring about “a state of death”. But we never learn why. Scientists put Lon in a big machine, which makes a noise.

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 “What’s that noise?”

“A machine.”

“What kind of machine? Where is he — can’t see the mummy! What’s that funny noise?”

“Another machine.”

“Looks like Frankenstein. Wow, that’s some storm, is it?” (Seems to be a Dundonian habit: saying “is it?” instead of “isn’t it?”) “Cheesy peeps!” (This is an exclamation of awe unique to Roddy.) “What’s happening now? Oh my God!”

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I like how Lon rests his jowls on the window sill, in a rather defeatist manner, just before beginning his wolf-out.

Lon Chaney, his apparatus struck by lightning, comes to life, turns into a werewolf, and gores people. I decide that poor Lon must have taken the mummy transfusion as a cure for his lycanthropy, and now these science guys have guffed it up. But this hypothesis is never confirmed.

“Where’s the werewolf? Hmm-hm!”

Lon changes back to non-hairy. Some more stuff happens.

“Is he going to change into a werewolf, do you think?”

He does.

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“Oh my God, the werewolf’s scary, eh?”

Lon creeps up on a sleeping scientist. Roddy finds this particularly exciting.

“Oh, watch this, watch — he’s asleep still, is he? Watch this, watch! Oh my God, ho-ho! Got himnow! Oh-oh! Something’s happened to him. My God. Look at that mist!”

We return to the subplot of the mummy woman, who abducts a little girl. No idea why.

“How can a mummy be a woman? A mummy is supposed to be a man. Where’s she taking her? What’s that noise? Is she taking her away? What’s happening there?”

Now Roddy gets slightly sidelined from the plot:

“I would like to be in a horror film. I would be a vampire. I’d be pretty scary.”

I dare to express doubt.

“I would if I had real fangs, like Christopher Lee.”

I suggest that Christopher Lee does not, in civilian life, have real fangs.

“What do you mean?”

I elaborate.

“That’s what I was saying.” (Vampire voice.) “I’m Roderick, from Transylvania.’ I’d be a good vampire, I would.”

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Meanwhile, a scientist manages to get Lon Chaney locked in a cage.

“Uh-oh, the wolf’s in trouble, he can’t open the gate. Oh, he’s got it. Nae trouble! Where’s he going now? Is he in the forest? Is that a woman and a man? What’s he doing now? That’s the police. Do you think they’ll catch him?”

The wolfman starts stalking a woman. Roddy gets very tense.

“Uh oh. Ssshh! Watch this. Uh-oh. Uh-oh. Uh-oh. He’s getting closer and closer to that woman. What’s going to happen now? Uh oh. David… I heard something. What? Uh-oh! Uh-oh!”

Having crept into the woman’s home, Lon Chaney is startled by his own reflection in her mirror.

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“Ha ha, he got himself a fleg!” (“Fleg” = Dundonian word for “a fright”.) Ah, she locked him in, good one! That means he can’t get out. Uh-oh!”

He gets out. The woman hits him with a vase.

“Nice one, got him a good one, on his head. ‘At’sa cracker! Give him a punch on the nose, that’ll sort him out. Heh!”

Lon’s nose does look pretty tender. But he overpowers the woman and carries her off.

“God’s sake, woman! What happens if the police catch him, that’ll be it, won’t it?”

My favourite bit of action — Lon climbs a building, while carrying the woman. A white-coated scientist follows him. The image of a lab guy climbing a building is a pleasing one.

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Somehow we get from here to another fight, with chairs being smashed over Lon.

“Nice one! Hey — oh — nice one! Oh, hey, he hit him first! Watch this one — here we go — watch this — oh, that’s a good idea. Oh hey, you idiot, no’ him! It’s the wolf, you idiot.”

Lon is incinerated. The police arrive, too late to do anything, and calmly dismiss all reports of monsters as the overactive imagination of the stupid public.

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“It’s the bobbies, look.”

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STOP PRESS: Here’s Roddy’s capsule review of ALIENS.

“That took a while to sort out.”

Dramatis Personae

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on August 6, 2008 by dcairns

Steven McNicoll: bongo jazz a speciality.

“Busy busy busy!” ~ Bette Davis in THE WHALES OF AUGUST.

We got our pigpen of a flat cleaned up somewhat, so we’ve been inviting people round for dinner. This evening we’ll be joined by Steven McNicoll and his fiancee Fran. Our dinner at their place two weeks ago was a delight, resulting in much scurrilous speculation on pressing issues such as “Why are showbiz dwarfs generally so obnoxious?”, material I can’t possibly reproduce on a blog intended for family viewing (the clan gathers round their flickering monitor, munching hungrily on their dinner of black pudding and Arctic Roll, the Wee Yins staring wide-eyed at the frame grabs while the Auld Folks click on the Hyperlinks).

Earlier this week, Fiona’s brother Roddy was up to see the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. How to describe this annual kilted jamboree? Imagine your dullest nightmare, painstakingly reconstructed by a cast of thousands in Highland dress, in a large car park atop a hill, at night. Roddy loves it. Roddy has learning difficulties. You should in no way infer a connection between these two statements.

Dinner with Roddy in a French restaurant (he enjoyed the fishcakes, seriously enjoyed the chocolate torte). A fly buzzed up and down.

“I would like to own a butterfly,” Roddy declared, apropos of nothing. “I would like it to be orange…and tangerine…and black…and white. And I would call it…Craig…Levein.”

Craig Levein (right).

I don’t think it’s necessary to know that orange and black and white are the colours of Dundee United, Roddy’s favourite football team, and that they are managed by a chap called Craig Levein, to appreciate this story. The idea of having a pet butterfly is clearly a very beautiful one (you could pin it to a cork board when you go to bed at night, release it in the morning, tether it to your wrist with a length of thread when you take it out for “walkies”) and if you had such a pet, “Craig Levein” is very obviously the most charming and evocative name you could possibly give it.

What else? Oh yes, movies. Bought tickets to see Sidney Lumet’s brutally dazzling THE HILL, introduced by Sir Sean Connery himself — my last movie experience with Sir Sean was perhaps not the ideal way to rub shoulders with greatness, so this should be a good palate-cleanser — and for Paul Merton’s The Silent Clowns, in which modern-day living breathing comic Merton will introduce extracts and films featuring the greats of the silent era. And picked up the programme for the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams event, occurring in Nairn later this month, organised by Mark Cousins and Tilda Swinton. More on this later.