Tales of the Far Side
Director: Marv Newland

Director: Frank Wetzel

Director: Eric Fernandez

Director: Jason Steele

Director: Joel Veitch

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Bambi Meets Godzilla Bambi Meets Godzilla (1969) was a very primitively drawn cartoon, yet became one of the fad-films shown time & time again in arty cinema houses of the 1970s.

It's a scant minute & a half & consists of a peaceful pastoral of Bambi in a flowered meadow.

As soon as the amusing opening credits are finished, Bambi gets stomped on. That's the whole joke. it might not seem like much now, but imagine seeing it in a theater with a couple hundred artfilm fairies.

Vancouver, B.C. animator Marv Newland went on to other projects including an animated Halloween special for CBS television, Tales from the Far Side (1994) bringing sundry Gary Larsen one-frame comix gags to life.

It's done without dialogue, & fun to see Larsen's cartoons in full color. Without the television ads it's a twenty-two minute short encompassing many loosely strung together gags.

We get it all, from the parachutist who lands in the middle of Ben & Vera's rotweiler farm, to a dog version of Igor who is Farmer Frankenstein's assistant, to a zombie dude ranch, to the wolf's sorrowful home movie of memories, the cowboy from space...

Tales of the Far SideAnd there are bugs on a plain watching a very special in-flight movie, an episode of the Brady Bunch recast with pigs, plus many more.

The bit about two eggs on lover's lane concludes with the same degree of Bambi Meets Godzilla heartlessness that shows the two cartoonists, Larsen & Newland, are indeed well matched, all of it to a very eerie soundtrack.

There were two versions released on video. The bit featuring the exploding kids is unfortunately replaced by a bit with garden rakes for a tamer release.

It completely does Gary Larsen justice. And there's a sequel Gary Larsen's Tales from the Far Side II (1997), featuring such bits as Death's holiday, & the deer hunter.

Tales of the Far SideThis one first aired on cable & at some film festivals & was added to a new release of the first collection.

But to return to Bambi Meets Godizilla, it became famous enough to induce an even shorter, even more primitive sequel to the sequel, Bambi's Revenge (1978), rumored to have been created by Frank Wetzel while he was living in a truck.

This one seems to have vanished from general distribution, though it used to be shown quite frequently with the original. In it, Bambi's feet, still sticking out from under Godzilla's foot, finds a book of matches with which to get revenge.

Then came another minute & a half, computer-animated Son of Bambi Meets Godzilla (1999) billed as a "high tech rematch."

In this version Godzilla tries several times to stomp on Bambi, who just keeps nibbling grass while Godzilla keeps missing with his foot. Finally a canon rises out of the ground near Bambi & blows Godzilla away.

It's not one-tenth the charmer as Marv's original. Newland reportedly has never been enamored of people doing take-offs of his student film, & given the mediocrity they achieve by borrowed wit, he shouldn't like it.

Charlie the Unicorn From filmcow.com, jibjab.com, & other places all over the web is Jason Steele's Charlie the Unicorn (2005) is the Bambi Meets Godzilla of the new millenium, a tale of three unicorns, under four minutes, starring the pragmatic & cynical Charlie, & his two super-obnoxious pushy upbeat friends who want him to go with them on a quest to Candy Mountain, "a place of joy & joyness."

They have strange encounters along the way, including indecipherable advice from the magical liopleurodon, & crossing the crummy Bridge of Hope & Wonder.

Charlie keeps telling them there's no such thing as Candy Mountain, inducing the films wonderful catch-phrase, "Shun the nonbeliever. Shunnnnnn!"

Eventually they arrive at a little hump which is Candy Mountain Cave. Some animated letters that spell "Candy" come out of the cave & sing an enticing song about candy in the cave. And what a cool song it is.

Charlie suspects it's an evil trap & wants to stay outside, perhaps not as intrigued by "Candied rats, chocolate bats" as his two annoyingly happy pals. Finally Charlie caves in, so to speak, & goes in the cave. "Goodbye, Charlie" say his syrupy sweet pals, & indeed a surprise awaits.

Hanging Out Jason Steele continues to make limited animation films but hasn't yet lit on anything that captured public imagination as well as Charlie the Unicorn. Of the films I watched, most were so unfunny that Charlie began to look like a fluke.

But one of the also-rans definitely won a couple of smiles. Hangin' Out at the Grill (2006) features a hotdog & hamburger patty photographed on a grill, with animated eyes & lips added so they can wonder if they should worry about being eaten & what's more awesome, hotdogs or hamburgers.

The weiner boasts that he's a big long sexy weiner, but the burger is fat & greasy. Hotdog Diez is kind of funny but at five minutes these pieces of meat do get a mite dull after the second minute.

There's an attempt to keep the joke fresh adding a third piece of meat, breast of chicken, with girl voice, eyes, & mouth to get the weiner & burger horny. But when a second girly chicken breast is put on the grill, they turn out to be lesbians.

We Like the MoonAs a "web phenomenon" Charlie the Unicorn never quite rose to the level of popularity, not to mention brilliance, of We Love the Moon (2003), which can still be seen at rathergood.com.

We Love the Moon features the Spongmonkeys, one floating with his guitar in front of a flowered garden, the other clinging to a miniature of the moon floating beside his guitar accompanyist.

Spongmonkeys appear to be tarsiers or bushbabies deformed with human eyes & mouths. They bounce around in the air to the beat of the moon song composed by Joel & Alex Veitch.

The lyrics appear in word-balloons, so you can sing along if you like: "We like da moon/ Cuz it is really close to us/ We like da MOOOOOOON!/ But not as much as a spoon/ Cuz that more use for eating soup/ And a fork is not so useful for that/ Unless you have many vegetables/ So you might be better off with a chopstick/ Unlike da moon/ It is up in the sky/ It's up there very high/ But not as high as maybe dirigibles or zeppillins or lightbulbs/ And maybe clouds..."

We Like the SubsThe great thing about this limited animation cartoon is that the singing spongmonkey really conveys character & what it likes seems to be stuff a spongmonkey would like. The note of hysteria in the voice is a riot.

The spongmonkeys weren't an instant sensation. The went up on the web in 2003 with moderate attention. Then early in 2004 they appeared in a very short-term advertising campaign for Quiznos Subs, where they sang "We like da subs."

That's when I first saw them. I sat up suddenly to attention & thought, "Holy crap, those are scary! I love them!" I couldn't believe Quiznos had the nerve to have such spooky bizarre creatures as their spokes-tangiers, as they were bound to alienate & creep out as many people as they fascinated.

The ad induced me to have my first Quiznos sandwhich, a company that wasn't anywhere on my awareness-map before this. I also had to find out what people were saying good or bad about the ad campaign so I did a websearch, found the original cartoon, & fell in love with the song.

Viking KittensThe ad campaign was all too soon discontinued, with Quiznos electing not to continue alienating the few in order to entertain the many. The spongmonkeys got them a lot of attention & they left it at that. But the original cartoon happily persists on the web.

The lads at rathergood.com have since created many amusing limited animation comedies, with the Viking Kittens (2005) being a distant second most popular, with Led Zep recast as kittens. But the Veitch brothers have yet to light upon another moment of outright brilliance.

Every now & then I find an experimental or humorours or animated web-short, like Charlie the Unicorn or The Snow Witch. which makes me think whoever did this must've done something else great.

Fishy SongBut often when I track down other works, I find their follow-ups capture none of their one-time-only accidental achievement.

We Like the Moon isn't quite that category because, even though it outpaces Veitch's later stuff, there is much humor throughout his website.

For just two examples, there are the psycho hedgehogs singing their theme song "I'm singing about your axe wound/ Oh baby, I'm singing about your gash..."

Or the cute kittens singing Fishy Song (2006) most alluringly about eatin' then shittin' fish. And there's so much more that's darned funny, whether or not any of it ever rises to the level of amazement inspired by the Spongmonkeys..

And for some such filmmakers & their unexpectedly brilliant short films, such as Medea by Daniel Strange, I still expect him to outdo himself in time, though I haven't seen it quite yet.

For others, though, well, it has occasionally been said that everyone on earth could well have one good song in them. In the future when animation software is universal, perhaps everyone will have one good cartoon in them.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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