Hello, welcome to Serendipitous Anachronisms, if this is your first visit, then be warned: this blog fluctuates between very high and very low cinematic arts. And we are going very low this Halloween.
Welcome back kiddie cats because CAMP KITSCH is back in session!
This year’s theme is “Kitsch Me Baby One More Time.” Yes, I did get my title from a Britney Spears song. If you have not experienced Camp Kitsch, check out last year’s session “Summer Camp: The Season of the Kitsch” For “Kitsch Me Baby One More Time” we have only two rules:
- All films reviewed are Halloween specials.
- All of these films have been pre-screened by yours truly; hence the name, this will avoid covering less savory pics such as Werewolf in A Girl’s Dormitory. (No, really, don’t try to watch this film, I know it is a tempting title, trust me).
The Paul Lynde Halloween Special
Readers, you may recognize Paul Lynde as “Uncle Arthur” on Bewitched and “Harry MacAfee” in Bye Bye Birdie. If not, then you are missing out on something truly spectacular, if you want to know the definition of the word “Campy” watch Paul Lynde.
Snarky, hysterical, why should this man not be given a Halloween special?
Too bad he wasn’t given one.
Let’s just say right now this show may have witches and pumpkins on the set, but this show has nothing to do with Halloween.
And the jokes, oh the jokes, that is where the true horror lies.
To put it simply this show is stupid, it is awful, it is terrible, and yet I cannot help but love this travesty.
The show opens with a series of vignettes featuring Paul Lynde dressed as Santa, the Easter Bunny, and ready for Valentine’s Day. The running joke is his housekeeper Margaret (played by Margaret Hamilton) telling him, it’s not Christmas, it’s not Easter… The joke goes on way too long, will someone please buy this man a calendar?
MARGARET. I’ll give you a hint; it’s filled with witches, spooks, and weird creatures of the night.
LYNDE. Oh, sounds like Hollywood Squares.
While the pre-recorded laugh track goes crazy, it’s a stinker, and when the opening monologue starts the jokes get even worse.
LYNDE. I was fat, Mom put me in a shower curtain, it didn’t fit. So she let it out, and I went as the Hindenberg, it was a disaster.
Speaking of disasters, we go into our first musical number which is a parody of the song “Kids” from the musical Bye Bye Birdie.
So Margaret and Paul, having enough of those “pesky kids,” get in the car and drive to Margaret’s sister’s house.
As it turns out, they are both witches!
In exchange for helping the witches clean up their bad PR, Lynde is granted three wishes.
What follows is the most hastily compiled mess of skits I have ever seen in my life.
“The Rhinestone Trucker”
Lynde uses his first wish to be a trucker named “Big Red.” Big Red wears a white leather rhinestone jacket, unbuttoned to the navel with a hairy chest, white leather pants, and silver boots.
Big Red and his arch rival played by Tim Conway, both want to marry the same waitress “Kinky Pinky.”
The writers having written themselves into a hole choose to exit the scene by transitioning to a CB Radio, hoe-down, musical wedding number. Here is a sample of the lyrics:
“I am tired making these silly calls,
I wanna get out of my overalls.”
Umm… You’re not wearing overalls. This number makes absolutely no sense.
Just when things get horrifically unwatchable, KISS arrive to play “Detroit, Rock City!”
What? Why are they in Witchiepoo’s house? Who cares! It’s KISS!
“The Great Lover”
For Paul Lynde’s second wish he is transported to the Sahara Desert, for a romantic Rudolph Valentino fantasy, with an icy British adventuress, played by Florence Henderson (a.k.a. Carol Brady) a woman so cold she turns a glass of wine into ice cubes:
HENDERSON. Why are you wearing that earring?
LYNDE. Because I am a very chic sheik.
Oh, the horror.
Strangely enough, Lynde is still wearing the silver platform boots from the Big Red sketch.
“The Hollywood Disco”
For the third wish, Lynde takes the two witches to a “Hollywood Disco.” The house infiltrated by dancers in orange wigs. For entertainment, and I use that word very loosely, Florence Henderson sings an operatic rendition of “Old Black Magic” to a disco arrangement. This song might be the worst thing I have ever heard in my life.
Just when things hit an all-time low, KISS return and sing “Beth.”
Lynde: I can take one look at you, and tell you how you got your look and your name, you had a fight, and your mothers told you to kiss and make up.
D’oh! These jokes are not just bad they are terrible. Fortunately, someone had the foresight to end this banter early and let KISS play “King of the Night Time World.”
But rather than end the show on a high note, they opt for a full company rendition of “Disco Lady.” Everyone is doing the hustle. Except for KISS, who are banished to the balcony. Like they are too cool for school. But hindsight is 20-20, we know they were just plotting on how to tap into this disco craze because three years later they recorded their own disco song “I was Made for Loving You.”
My understanding is that The Paul Lynde Halloween Special is a “lost treasure” it aired on ABC October 29, 1976. Bootleg copies were distributed amongst KISS fans for years. The original footage was found, and The Paul Lynde Halloween Special was released on DVD.
I think you would have to be a KISS fan, to render this madness watchable, but if you are in the mood for some truly terrible jokes, a few completely unplausible storylines, and a strange mish-mash of musical numbers, then, by all means, watch The Paul Lynde Halloween Special.
Ciao for now, Dearies!