Archive for AWESOME-tober-fest

AWESOME-tober-fest 2020: Fantasy Island – The Devil and Mr Roarke Part 1

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, The Devil, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on October 16, 2020 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2020

Fantasy Island was on for 7 seasons starting with 2 TV movies, one in 1977 and one in 1978, followed by a 14 epiosde first season. It finally ended after its 7th season in 1984.  It starred Ricardo Montalban as Mr Roarke, and Herve Villichaize as his assistant, Tattoo.

I’ve been a big fan of Fantasy Island for a long time.  I used to watch it in its hey day.  Ricardo Montalban is fantastic as Mr Roarke and Herve was so much fun as Tattoo.  I remember loving this show.  It always hinted at supernatural events on the island, many of them mysterious and dangerous.   But I didn’t learn, until this year, that the Devil himself came to the Island to do battle with Mr Roarke.  Not once, but twice!

Today I’ll look at Roarke’s first encounter with Satan in the first episode of Season 4, titled The Devil and Mandy Breem.  It first aired on Friday, Oct 25, 1980, which would have put it right around Halloween.


The episode opens up with Mr Roarke and Tattoo getting in their custom Islandmobile and heading over to greet this episode’s incoming guests.  I’ve been fascinated by this Islandmobile ever since originally watching the show.  Look at it, it’s awesome.  Sort of a station wagon crossed with a Jeep with the ceiling cut off and replaced with a picnic table.

As with most Fantasy Island episodes, there are multiple concurrent fantasies happening at the same time (sometimes even three) and you jump back and forth between them.  I’m only going to focus on the Devil part of the story.


During the opening we meet Mandy Breem.  We learn her husband got into a terrible accident about a year ago and she miraculously nursed him back to health.  Mr Roarke only knows that she’s here to save her own life.

c
Roarke tries to get Mandy to explain more, but she can’t at this time.  After Roarke leaves, we see a mysterious figure appear and talk to Mandy.  It’s here we learn that Mandy has made some sort of deal for the life of her husband.


And we also figure out that this mysterious figure, played by Roddy MacDowell, is possibly the Devil himself and has made the deal for her immortal soul.  And he’ll let her out of their agreement, if she uses her fantasy wish to obtain the rare Queen Omega Orchid.  Potted, not cut.  Blooming. It seems odd that the Devil would trade her soul for some mysterious plant, but that plant may get him something we don’t want him to have.  Don’t do it Mandy!


Quick shot of another one of the Islandmobiles.  I love them and I’ll never stop putting up screenshots of them.


Anyway, when Mandy makes obtaining the orchid her fantasy request to Roarke to “save her life”, it, of course, confuses Mr Roarke, but he acquiesces.  Oh, look, Mandy’s husband is Bruce Wayne!


Mandy gives the Devil the orchid to save her soul, but, as guessed, the Devil tricks her and she still must give up her soul. So, she goes to Mr Roarke for help.  Mandy tells Roarke and her husband all about the deal she made.  When Roarke hears that she made a pact with the Prince of Darkness, he is the opposite of surprised.  Actually, he’d already figured it out.  Mandy asks Mr Roarke for his help.  Mr Roarke tells her rather non-chalantly that she entered into the contract of her own free will.  And Satan has certain rights as anyone else.  But Roarke suggests that he will appear on her behalf as counsel for the defense.  The devil will grant them a trial.  This sounds like it’s going to do The Devil and Daniel Webster, which, now that I say that, I just realized the significance of the title of the episode; The Devil and Mandy Breem.  Anyway, Roarke speculates that the Devil wanted this the whole time.  That he is provoking this confrontation with Mr Roarke.  Roarke reveals that this is not the first time that they have done combat.  I love that Mr Roarke has occasionally battled the Devil as the proprietor of Fantasy Island.


Mandy Breem, her husband, and Mr Roarke confront the Devil in the woods.  Roarke demands a trial and offers that if the Devil wins, he’ll have all three of theirs souls.  But if the Devil loses, he gets nothing.  The Devil accepts.  I was kind of hoping the Devil would bring in a murder’s row of nasty famous bad people to be the judge and jury like in the original story, but no, Mr Roarke argues with the Devil alone.  And while he’s fighting for Mandy and her husband’s very souls…

…they sneak off into the woods to try to escape.  COWARDS.


Another Islandmobile


Ultimately, Mr Roarke pulls a miracle and outmaneuvers the Devil in the negotiations.  This causes the Devil to become so enraged he changes to his horned form.  He accepts his defeat but he assures Roarke that they will meet again.


And then Mandy, her husband, and his plaid jacket board the plane back to civilization free and clear of the devil’s influence. All thanks to Mr Roarke being a complete bad ass.

This was a *really* good episode.  Roddy McDowell is fantastic as Mephistopheles.  And I love that McDowell’s Devil and Roarke have a history.  It’s totally believable.  McDowell plays the Devil as a sort of refined gentleman.  He rarely gets upset, until the end when he loses.  This is a portrayal of the Devil that I really like.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2020: Satan and the Incarnations of Immortality

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, books, monsters, pop culture, The Devil with tags , , , , , , on October 14, 2020 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2020

Let’s continue my “Devil’s Walk” this month with a look at another fascinating incarnation of the Devil. And this one is a literal “incarnation” from an 80s fantasy series.

My senior year in high school, I had an awesome English teacher named Mrs West. She had a reputation as being tough, and she was, but she was also an awesome English teacher. At several points in the curriculum she would give us book choices and actually let us vote on the ones we wanted to cover which is why we ended up talking about books like Stephen King’s Eyes of the Dragon and Tolkien’s The Hobbit.  I was introduced to several things that year that I wound up loving that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise thanks to Mrs West.  One other choice that we talked about that year was a fantasy book by Piers Anthony called On a Pale Horse.  We only talked about that one book, but come to find out, that book was the beginning of a fantasy series called The Incarnations of Immortality.

On a Pale Horse was the first book, and it was released in 1983.  It takes place on an alternate Earth in the near future.  Humans have developed magic alongside science.  You can do things with magic, but it’s hard, there are a lot of rules, and sometimes it’s just easier to flick on a light switch.  Or light a match.  So both exist simultaneously and both are ubiquitous on this Earth.  We meet poor, down on his luck Zane, who has a bad experience trying to purchase a magic “wealth stone” that we ultimately learn only finds pocket change.  Despondent, Zane, with no prospects, decides to kill himself, but as he does, a giant black robed figure enters the room.  Zane, without thinking, turns the gun he had on himself, to the black robed figure and pulls the trigger.  Yes, Zane kills Death.  We are then thrust into the crux of the series.  Zane learns that by killing Death, he must assume the office of Death.  We learn here that the afterlife runs just like any government office.  And each aspect of the afterlife is headed by an Incarnation.  We learn that the main Incarnation offices are Death, Time, Fate, War, and Nature.  All the offices are held by people that have assumed that aspect of the office and they are the ones that carry out its duties.   There are also Incarnations for Good (God) and Evil (Satan).  It’s discussed, but you don’t really see the Good Incarnation until the end of the series.  However, the Incarnation of Evil is the antagonist for pretty much the entire series.  He’s constantly popping up and causing problems for each incarnation.  In fact, each Incarnation has to have their own confrontation with Satan after they take over the office as sort of a rite of passage.  So, this version of the Devil is heavily involved in the entire series, even getting his own book.

But before I get there, the original series included 7 books that started in 1983 and finished in 1990.  Anthony did write an 8th book in 2007, but I haven’t read it, and I’m not entirely sure I’m going to just yet.  Ok, I say that, but I’ll probably fold like a deck chair and read it.  If I haven’t already.  Like I said, I read the first book back in high school and I liked it so much I picked up the second book, Bearing an Hourglass, and read it that year as well.  For some reason I stopped there, and I’m not sure why.  Then, in 2001, a co-worker heard I’d never finished the series and said I should get on that.  So, thinking back fondly on those first two books, I decided to re-read the first two, then I continued to read the entire series through book 7.  The overall concept of the series is GREAT.  The entries themselves are mostly hit with some misses.  So, when thinking about using this series’ Satan as one of my AWESOME-tober-fest picks, I didn’t want to re-read the *entire* series, so I picked a few of my favorites to re-read before reading Satan’s book.  The books I decided to re-read in the series are Books 1 (Death), 2 (Time), and 4 (War).

Death Time War

Aside from Book 6, which was all about Satan, these are the three books I remember liking the most (the last time I read these were back in 2001).  The concept, again, is really good. Satan is the antagonist in all three. He’s a schmoozer, a wheeler and dealer. He is the Father of Lies, so he is always speaking in half and veiled truths. But he’s very charismatic and in many cases, on the surface, he makes a lot of sense. It’s why this Satan works. He greets new incarnations, he never shies away from his bad reputation, explaining it away as misunderstandings, and tells his version of things in an engaging way. It’s only after the new Incarnation has gained some experience that he sees Satan for what he is. These three books are great setups for that, and it sets the expectation that Satan is the ultimate antagonist for the series.

Then you get to book 6, For Love of Evil.

This is the book that focuses on the office of Satan.  After having been conditioned through five books to see the Incarnation of Evil as the villain, this is the book that shifts things around a little and adds all of this unexpected context to the idea of Satan, as he pertains to this series.  This book starts hundreds of years before the first of the series.  We meet Parry.  The book follows the established formula of the series.  You start off and meet the human characters before they become incarnations.  Some more than others.  Zane from On a Pale Horse, we only meet for a few pages before he becomes Death.  Norton, who becomes Time, we see a LOT of him before he becomes Time.  Same with Mym before he becomes War.  And especially Parry.  There’s nearly 100 pages before we even get to the point of him taking the office.  That time is well used, though.  He starts off as the son/apprentice of a powerful sorcerer.  He meets and courts a woman.  There is a sudden attack on his father which puts Parry on the run.  He realizes he has to hide and stop using magic as his pursuers have another powerful magician waiting for Parry to use magic so it can be tracked.  So Parry hides in an order of dominican monks.  He becomes a very canny searcher of evil and increases the influence of his monk order many fold.  It’s in this position Parry is approached by Lilith, a minion of Lucifer, the current office holder.  She is there to tempt him, and this is where the story really begins.  Parry winds up taking the office, becoming Satan, and ruling for hundreds of years.  We see his domain of Hell and how, when he takes the office, disorganized it is.  While Parry is the Incarnation of Evil, he does seek to make the punishment and redistribution of souls a more efficient process.  He even creates a mini-Heaven within Hell to hold souls who have been mis-classified and are awaiting release to Heaven.  ‘

We also see many of the events of the previous books from Parry’s point of view.  His confrontations with the previous Incarnations Zane, Norton, Mym, which I just reread, as well as his interactions with the other incarnations I didn’t reread; Orb (Nature), and Niobe (Fate).  Like I said, the events in those other books are addressed here.  I really like how we see this whole series from a new perspective.  Parry isn’t evil.  He runs an office that is evil, but he himself is not evil.  There’s even a point where he goes to meet with Heaven to stop the ridiculous race for souls between the two of them.  It’s inefficient and it harms more souls than it helps.  This was a really good book and I really enjoy how it absolutely fits within the framework of this whole series, but also sort of turns it all around and looks at it from behind.

If you remembver up top, I mentioned that an eighth book was released a few years ago, and that I never read it.  It was a small printing and it’s hard to find.  The character in that book is Nox, the Incarnation of Night.  She appears in this sixth book.  A few times, actually.  I really enjoyed this reread.  I enjoyed it enough to say that, yes, I’ll probably wind up reading that eighth book, just to see how it ties in.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2020: Betty Boop in Red Hot Mama (1934)

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, cartoons, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, The Devil with tags , , , , , , , on October 12, 2020 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2020

Today I wanted to look at another vintage cartoon to sort of echo the Silly Symphony cartoon I showed you last week.  So let’s go all the way back to the 30s and a Betty Boop cartoon.  Yes, at one point, Betty Boop met the Devil.

Betty Boop as a character began in 1930 in one of the Fleischer Studios‘ Talkartoons shorts.  Betty Boop actually started off as a French poodle character, then slowly transitioned into a caricature of a Jazz Age flapper.  By 1932, Betty was the sole star of Talkartoons and she became one of the most recognizable characters in the world.  In 1934, Fleischer Studios released Betty Boop in Red Hot Mama.  In this short, Betty was voiced by Bonnie Poe, who would also voice Olive Oyl in the Fleischer Popeye series.

In this cartoon, Betty Boop travels to Hell and confronts the Devil and his minions.  Like in Disney’s Hell’s Bells, the Devil here isn’t really fleshed out much more than “he’s the ruler of Hell”.  No negotiations for souls, no pranky shenanigans, and he doesn’t really do anything evil that we get to see.

It’s a mostly musical cartoon that relies on the visuals to tell the story.  Let’s take a look at the cartoon “Red Hot Mama” from 1934.


Title cards. As you can see, this short was presented by Max Fleischer and directed by Dave Fleischer, owners of the famous Fleischer Bros Studios.


And it stars, of course, the adorable Betty Boop.


The short starts with Betty, for some reason, sleeping with the windows WIDE ASS OPEN in the middle of a blizzard.  At first, she just adjusts her blanket.  THEN she decides that maybe she should shut the windows.


Betty decides to throw a bunch of logs and coal into the fireplace and start a fire. She then moves to right in front of the fireplace.


Suddenly the room becomes blazing hot. You know it’s super hot because the thermostat rises all the way to the top and then explodes.


Betty has a picture of an Eskimo posing with a fish in front of an igloo. Not exactly sure why, but it’s there.  Well, the room is so hot that the Eskimo takes off his jacket and the igloo melts.


Suddenly the fireplace becomes overrun with flames and a PORTAL TO HELL opens up within.


Betty, seemingly not concerned about the open portal to Hell, just walks right in. We get a cheeky shot of her in a sheer nightgown walking in front of flames. She trips and falls and, like AC/DC, rings “Hell’s Bells”.


Betty sees new souls coming into Hell. They are called “Freshman”. They drop down the chute, land in a devil suit, then have their tail and horns attached.  Notice the new guys are white, while all the other devils are black.



The white Freshman are led into “Freshman Hall”, which looks like a giant Viking helmet.  A devil fire brigade shows up and, using a dragon hose, they set fire to Freshman Hall and turn all the white devils black.  Lots of imagery going on here.


Next, we finally get to meet the Devil himself, wearing a crown, surrounded by flames, and eating a flame cone.  Then he walks over to Hell’s Furnace and cranks up the heat from “warm”, to “hot”, and finally to “hotter”.


Once they spot her, all of the devils become fascinated by Betty. They surround her and it looks like their intentions aren’t good.


However, Betty’s been in this situation before. She turns and gives them a cold shoulder so ice cold it freezes all the devils solid.  You can see the block of ice on her shoulder in the picture.


Then the devil comes swaggering over like a big dog to take his turn, but Betty just gives him the cold stare and freezes him solid.


And then all of Hell freezes over from Betty Boop’s cold stare. *Mic drop*

AWESOME-tober-fest 2020: The Devil comes to Quantum Leap

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, The Devil, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on October 9, 2020 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2020

Hey, let’s finish out this first full week of AWESOME-tober-fest in style!  Today I’m taking a look at an episode of one of my favorite shows, Quantum Leap!

I loved Quantum Leap. I remember seeing the initial commercials for the show before it aired.  And when they said the show was about time travel, I was all in. Then, when the first episode aired back in March of 1989, I remember *begging* my parents to let me stay up and finish the episode after having only watched the first half.

So, I love the mechanics of the show, but I also love the lore it sort of built up around the leaping. Sam actually met leapers just like him in several episodes. Well, they weren’t “just like him”, they were doing the opposite of what he was doing, they were “setting things wrong what once went right.” The “evil leapers” showed up in three episodes in Season 5 and there was rampant speculation about who was running that group. Many people said that God, or the forces of “Good”, were running Sam’s leaps, so the Devil, or the forces of “Evil”, were running the evil leapers.  I love this world building and I wish it would have come up a bit more.  Like what if during sweeps week, or towards the end of a season, the entire episode of Quantum Leap was told from the POV of the “evil leapers”?  We see an entire leap featuring only the “evil leapers”.  I would have loved that.  Maybe the leap crosses over with Sam and Al, but we only see them in passing, OR, Sam and Al are there, but we never see them and we only learn they were there at the end of the episode!  That would have been pretty awesome.

I could discuss the “evil leapers” and what we know about who may be running them.  I could maybe make a case for the Devil there.  But I’m here to talk about a few years before the “evil leapers” showed up.  We got a Halloween episode that actually had an appearance from the Devil.  It was Season 3 episode 5, “The Boogieman”.

title1 title2
The leap starts out like any other. It’s Halloween Day, 1964.  Sam has leaped into B horror novel writer, Joshua Ray.  Right away things seem to be going awry.  Al is acting weird and Ziggy isn’t giving Sam any information whatsoever.

People start dying in mysterious ways, Sam is seeing things no one else is seeing, and he realizes that he’s being manipulated.

Now, I’m going to say, to talk about the Devil part I need to give out a few spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the episode, first of all, GO SEE THE EPISODE.  Second of all, read through for what happens when Sam meets The Devil.

So, at the climax of the episode when Sam is most confused about what is going on, Al reveals himself to not be Al at all.

With dramatic red lighting over his eyes, Al turns out to be the Earthly incarnation of evil.  The Devil.  And the Devil is PISSED.  He’s pissed that Sam is jumping around time undoing all his evil work.  Sam says he’s just trying to get home, and the Devil laughs maniacally and says, “And you’re never going to…”  Sam realizes that the Devil intends to kill him right then and there.  I have to admit, Dean Stockwell is playing Devil/Evil Al here and he’s doing a fantastic job.  He really is menacing in his line delivery.  We don’t get a lot of time with this Devil, so we don’t really get to know much more, but what we do get to see is pretty great.

That being said, the actual Al shows up at this point and sees himself talking to Al, which confuses him.  The Devil then tries to strangle Sam, they spin around like 100 times and all of a sudden Sam’s leap starts over and he’s able to save the person he’s supposed to save.  I was a little disappointed in the ultimate confrontation with the Devil.  It doesn’t really go anywhere or say anything else about what the encounter Sam just had means.  However, I really liked the idea of the Devil showing up here.  And it subtley sets up the “Evil Leapers”, who don’t actually show up for another season and a half.

There’s another Easter Egg in the show.  We see Sam palling around with a young friend named Stevie.


Come to find out, we hear at the end of the episode in a throwaway line that little Stevie’s name is Stevie King.  Yes, *that* Steve King.  And Sam unwittingly dropped a few references to King books throughout the episode.  In fact, the car that Joshua Ray drives is a direct reference to Stephen King.  A red Plymouth Fury.

So, this is a pretty great Halloween episode of Quantum Leap.  There’s a lot it adds to the show’s mythos with the Devil actually getting involved in Sam’s leaping.  And there’s a lot it implies about the mythos, that since he couldn’t stop Sam in this episode, that the Devil started the “Evil Leaper” program to further thwart what Sam is doing.  I love stuff like that.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2020: Marvel’s Mephisto!

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, comic books, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, The Devil with tags , , , , , , on October 7, 2020 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2020

Here we are, the Wednesday entry for the first full week of AWESOME-tober-fest 2020.  I can’t believe we made it this far guys.  HIGH FIVE!  I’m still looking at the Devil and today I delve into the realm of comic books!

Each of the “Big Two” comic companies have their own analogue for “the devil”.  DC has Lucifer Morningstar, and Marvel has Mephisto. Mephisto is the personification of all evil in the Marvel Universe. He performs a lot of the duties of a traditional devil figure.  Temptation being the main one.  His name is even a shortened version of Mephistopheles.

Mephisto

Mephisto first appeared in Silver Surfer #3 in 1968 and he’s still appearing in Marvel Comics today.  The depiction of Mephisto throughout his existence hasn’t changed much. He looks like the typical depiction of a demonic devil. Red skin and hair, fangs, sometimes horns, sometimes not. He’s immortal and a very powerful magic user. He’s been around at least as long as the Marvel Universe. He lives in a “hell dimension”. And he’s a collector of souls. Marvel is very cagey about calling him the traditional “Devil”. The character does admit that he may be the inspiration for the concept of the devil, and I know he’s referenced several times that he is the demonic figure in the Faust story.

Mephisto has had his hands in many different events in Marvel history.  He’s butted heads with Silver Surfer, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Doctor Strange, and even Thanos.  I wanted to cover a good story for AWESOME-tober-fest featuring Mephisto, and I have many choices, but there’s one I never got to read and I decided to take a look at it today, it’s Mephisto’s 4 issue mini-series from 1987, Mephisto Vs.

Mephisto 1 Mephisto 2
Mephisto 3 Mephisto 4

Mephisto Vs was written by Al Milgrom and drawn by John Buscema, and as I said, it was released in Spring 1987. It was mostly a standalone mini, but it did acknowledge a few things that happened within the books of the teams it crosses over with.

Overall, this is a pretty great story, and the art is classic Marvel.  Mephisto kicks off a long game plan by attacking the Fantastic Four and snatching the soul of Franklin Richards, the son of Reed and Sue.  This leads him to trade it for Sue’s soul, which then leads to X-Factor getting involved and Mephisto trading up different heroes’ souls from the X-Men and the Avengers.  And it’s clear that Mephisto has an endgame in mind, we just don’t know what it is until the very end.  It’s really cool too see that plan unfold throughout the books.

The story really leans into Mephisto as a soul collector.  And that he isn’t interested in just more souls, he views different souls differently.  He values some souls over others.  He makes it clear that while human souls are desirable, he covets super human souls more, and Homo Superior souls more than that.  Yes, Mephisto GRADES his souls like a comic collector!  Milgrom continues to draw this parallel between Mephisto  and readers collecting comic books when he reveals that Mephisto has a system in place for storing souls, and to some of you it may sound familiar.

Mystic Mylar Mystic Mylar

Mylar bags!  Mephisto stores his valued souls in double Mylar bags to protect them!  And Mephisto goes on to mention he needs to take inventory of the other souls he recently acquired.  Is Milgrom trying to say comic collectors are like “the devil”?  Ha, no, he’s not.  It’s just a funny metaphor.

This Mephisto business gets serious.  Serious enough that we get an appearance by The Living Tribunal.

I love the big, ethereal, cosmic entities in the Marvel Universe.  Eternity, Chaos, Living Tribunal…these guys were always a fun, unexpected appearance in books like Silver Surfer and Doctor Strange.  Only a few people in the Marvel Universe even knew they existed.  Look at that guy, he is *awesome*.

Ultimately, we get the final showdown with Mephisto taking on the current roster of Avengers in a fight for one of their members’ souls.  This roster of Avengers includes Black Knight, Silver Centurion Iron Man, She-Hulk, Tigra and Dr Druid.  Oh, and the West Coast Avengers show up as well to help out.  It’s a pretty epic battle.

This was a pretty great little mini-series.  I really enjoyed the writing but especially the art.  I would definitely recommend it if you have access to it.  Lots of fun.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.