Sunday, October 26, 2014
So It Begins
cigar-smoking Russian werewolf hunter - you heard me! - played by Ace Atkins - you heard me!!! in NIGHT OF THE LOUP GAROU, the most recent screening in our yearly Halloween film festival. That's right, our friend Ace, who is not Russian (he's from Alabama!) plays a Russian werewolf hunter in a movie. A bunch of local folks got together and made it a few years ago. I think it has been sitting on our mantel since Ace brought it over along with a George Lazenby movie on December 21, 2010. WHY DID WE WAIT SO LONG? Well, did I mention that Ace plays a Russian werewolf hunter? That is not accurate! He is a regular Russian hunter. But not TOO regular! He never uses a gun. He makes it fair. "Their claws..." he says, and then, holding up his Crocodile-Dundee-style knife: "My claws." That was Dr. Theresa's favorite line in the whole movie. I think my favorite thing Ace said was, "I keel everythink... I drink their blood." Hey, don't think for a second I am giving Ace a hard time! First of all, you may remember when I ribbed even the late Katharine Hepburn about her Russian accent. And Ace commits! I think we've talked about this before. Commitment, I mean. Ace is in that part 100%. I know I've told you about the sitcom actor I met a few times who used to watch reruns of himself on the sitcom "227" and get angry with his younger self and hang his head in shame - SHAME! - because he thought he was above it all and didn't "commit." That sitcom actor told me with rue and regret in his voice to always commit! "Commit!" he said. And it's good advice. Ace - I'll say it again! - commits. When you are playing a Russian werewolf hunter that is your only choice, and a good lesson to think about. Ace had one line that Dr. Theresa and I debated a little. At first I thought he said, "It is time to rock and roll. Nighty, Mickey Mouse." See, they were leaving the cabin to hunt for the werewolf, and they were leaving behind the earnest werewolf expert who only wanted to understand the werewolf, not kill it! So I thought he was saying "Good night" to that guy in a dismissive way, because Ace - I mean, the Russian werewolf hunter! - said the latter sentence with growling menace right in the guy's face: "Nighty, Mickey Mouse." Dr. Theresa contended that he was using "Mickey Mouse" as a verb: "It is time to rock and roll, not to Mickey Mouse." I briefly conjectured that he was calling the guy a "naughty Mickey Mouse," but I did not really think that, that may have been a little joke I made. Of course we concluded that Dr. Theresa's interpretation was the correct one. And we are all aware of "Mickey Mouse" as an adjective. I looked it up this morning in my GREEN'S DICTIONARY OF SLANG and Mickey Mouse gets practically a whole page to himself, including an entry for "Mickey Mouse in the house, and Donald Duck don't give a ****" (hint: it rhymes!). And indeed we see one entry for "Mickey Mouse" as a verb, meaning "to fool around, to botch," quoting a primary source from 1969: "It don't pay to mickeymouse me." Ace also gets to say the archetypal movie line, "So it begins." But somebody steps on that line! Oh, man, that's not a line that should be stepped on, I don't want to tell you how to make your movie. There's even a childhood flashback that reveals how Ace started smoking cigars - uh, I mean, how his character did, but I think it was probably similar. The movie has some interesting lore about the loup garou, a Cajun form of werewolf, such as that you hang up a colander for protection! Because the loup garou cannot help but stop and count the holes in a colander. I tried to confirm this with my collection of CAJUN AND CREOLE FOLKTALES I picked up at Square Books a while back, but this delightful dual-language oral compendium has an index that is so scholarly as to be almost useless, organized according to an "international classification" system you probably only know about if you have a PhD in folklore. I found that folktale "E423.1.1(b)," for example - filed alphabetically under "E" (!) is about a "Ghostly dog opaque and insubstantial." Huh. Not close enough. Directly under that was "E423.3.5. Revenant as owl." And you know what that means. So I could hardly resist taking a peek. And in the academic introduction to that story we are informed that "the traditional concept of a werewolf" falls under the classification of "motif D113.1.1" and that it "applies to many other were-animals, including were-owls." Were-owls! But there were no D113.1.1 stories in the index. Ha ha! This is the point (it should have come earlier!) where I always start laughing because I know I am going to keep typing and typing and no one will keep reading and I just don't care. Anyhow, I thankfully (ha ha!) remembered my PARANORMAL MISSISSIPPI RIVER: AN ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA, and was able to confirm that the loup garou is obsessed with counting holes. This volume referred to a more general "sieve," not a "colander." The loup garou is also afraid of frogs! Which led to my favorite line - other than any of Ace's - in the movie, when a police officer laments that the earnest werewolf expert doesn't have a gun and the earnest werewolf expert says with the earnestness that characterizes him: "All I need's a frog." The movie, in fact, reaches an admirable pinnacle of dementia in the montage showing the earnest werewolf expert strapping cheese graters to his arms, a colander on his head, a frog in a jar around his neck and, I am pretty sure, capping things off with a flour-sifter codpiece.