Thursday, April 22, 2004

Jekyll & Hyde - The Musical


I recently underwent a sort of life-altering altering event that I feel the need to share with others. No, it wasn’t a near death experience or even a Christmas miracle. It was something as simple, yet as profound as witnessing HBO’s broadcast of “Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical” starring David Hasselhoff.
The musical itself is the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story of an obsessed scientists whose experiments turn him into a monster, I think. That is, I think there was a story in there, somewhere. I was so awestruck that for all I know the actual plot could have been the telling of the opening of a new Six Flags rollercoaster. Maybe upon several further viewings, the story will become more apparent.
The musical portion of the, well, Musical, was obviously written by someone who had recently been hit over the head several times with a large blunt object while Iron Maiden songs were playing, leaving the writer with the sole belief that the only criteria for writing musical lyrics is all lines must rhyme, no matter how forced and silly the result may be. And the results in “Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical” are both very forced and very silly. You may, at first, be inspired to make a game of viewing the musical numbers, guessing what line will follow next, but this impulse will wear off quickly, as you realize that no matter how silly your guess may be, it’s always correct, provided it rhymes with the previous line. Several of the musical numbers reach a climax involving three or four characters all belting out their tunes in unison, unison meaning they all sing at the same time, not as in they all sing the same lines or in the same key or notes that should be grouped together. The result sounds something along the lines of what a musical version of a Jerry Springer panel might be. Every musical theater cliché is made use of here, with the writers proudly yelling, “run with it… keep going… just a little farther now… that’s it… keep going…”
“Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical” in itself would warrant perhaps a moments glance from me while channel surfing, maybe a “what in the hell” before I surfed on to a “Dude, Where’s My Car” or an “Exit Wounds”, were it not for the breakthrough performance of one star, THE star, Mr. Hasselhoff, who, it would appear has recently contacted Michael Jackson’s personal plastic surgeon and asked for the “fleshless skull look” facelift. Mr. Hasselhoff does not only chew the scenery, I believe he still has some left over, stored in Tupperware, sitting in the back of his fridge, that he could not finish in one performance. I think there were some other people starring in this performance as well, somewhere off in Mr. Hasselhoff’s shadows. Mr. Hasselhoff portrays both title roles himself, a challenge he meets with such ingenuity that Sir Laurence himself would be intimidated. When playing the role of scientist Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hasselhoff ties his hair back into a ponytail, when playing the alter-ego, the murderous Mr. Hyde, he lets his long greasy hair hang down in his face and leers out of the corner of his eyes. It makes one wonder if only the top staging directors were brought in on this, or if the master thespian brought this idea to the table himself. All of Mr. Hasselhoff’s talking car, beach running, German wooing (can you make a Hosselhoffian statement without these analogies!) experience builds up to the climactic ending where Jekyll and Hyde face off, alone. Here the lighting team lends a hand to Hasselhoff for this challenge. When he sings his Jekyll lines, he turns his head to show his hair neatly tucked behind his ear, and is bathed in bright light. When Hyde responds, he turns his head to reveal long greasy curls shadowing half his face, and the light goes off. And back and forth it goes, over and over, as they sing “No you can’t” “Yes I can” “No you can’t” “Yes I can” (I am paraphrasing here, since the actual lyrics are not far from this yet still manage to somehow rhyme.) Actually, I think there was one more scene after this one, but who can remember after a spectacle like that.
After the final applause and curtain calls, Mr. Hasselhoff saunters out (and believe me, what he does can only qualify as sauntering) to front stage to thank the audience, admitting that this was his first stage experience. And, as if that weren’t enough of a show of gratitude, he ends it all with one final, glorious Lord of the Dance half split stance. No, no, no, thank you, Mr. Hasselhoff.
I highly recommend to anyone who has read on this far that they watch “Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical” as it airs this month on HBO. If you do not have cable, try to track down a copy on video, if for nothing else, the final Hasselhoff scene. If all else fails, and you can’t find it anywhere, try giving ol’ David a call. I’m sure he’ll be happy to lend you one of his copies.

* Note: This review was originally written in 2002, and sadly, I do not believe HBO is still airing this masterpiece.

Jeepers Creepers


“Jeepers Creepers” , the 2001 teen horror, starts out simply enough, a brother and sister are driving home from college along a state-long stretch of deserted road. As the two kids slowly, painfully slowly, set up the story, an urban legend about two prom goers who were killed on that same road back in ’78 comes up. Oh, and the chick’s head was never found. Three hours later, as they are still driving along the deserted road and are still setting up the story, something actually happens. An old nineteen-fifties dark pick-up with a cattle catcher mounted on the front and vanity plates reading “BEATINGU” (be eating you) appears behind them, driving erratically at high speed. The truck repeatedly rams the back of their car as they try to let it pass. It finally passes and further down the road they see the same truck parked beside an abandoned church. A large figure draped in dark dingy clothing and a wide brimmed hat pulls a body shaped object wrapped in a sheet out of the back of the truck and throws it down a large pipe sticking out of the ground. The two kids blatantly stare as the dark figure blatantly stares back. Six hours later, the same truck appears behind them, terrorizes them again, and passes. So, of course they decide the best plan of action is to turn, go back to the church and see what he threw down the pipe. The boy falls down the pipe, discovers that he is in the basement of the church which is plastered with dead bodies up to the ceiling, and escapes just as the bad guy returns.
For the next eight hours of the movie, they are chased by the evil thing, constantly finding reasons to get out of the car and turn the engine off, despite the fact that they are continually having trouble starting the car and perhaps leaving it running while they examine decapitated police officers and just eating the cost of the gas might be the best plan of action. They run into a psychic who has already seen all this in her dreams, and all though she can’t offer them the advice of letting the car run when they get out, she does give them some vague explanation about how the creature following them is some sort of demon that has to eat specific parts of specific people for some reason or other. The song “Jeepers Creepers” is played a couple of times for some unknown reason, everyone they come into contact with dies, they find that there is no way to kill the demon, and they all live happily ever after (except all the people who died). The end.
With all the plot holes, story line inconsistencies and vagueness, and the poorly developed antagonists and protagonist, the biggest question I am left with after viewing this film is, why the vanity license plates? Was the demon not getting the results he wanted and thought they might add that certain panache to his killing spree? Perhaps the truck was a 16th birthday present from his parents and his mom thought the personalized plates would be a “cute” touch? Did he have to go to the DMV, wait on line and then pay the excessive costs for vanity plates? Or, being that he is a supernatural demon did he just conjure them up himself? And if he has those kinds of powers, was “BEATINGU” really the best he could come up with? How about “EAT U L8R” or “I CHU M” or something as simple and classic as “DMON LUVR” ?
With problems of this proportion in the script, I think it’s a lot for the filmmaker to ask us to suspend our disbelief. No wonder the film failed to frighten me in its intended way.

* Note: "Jeepers Creepers II" coming soon (eventually)