|The Naked Witch|
|Riffed by||Ghosts On The Big Brown Couch|
|Riffers||Timothy Tompkins, Charlene Cavalcante, Dori Fleischmann, Catherine Wacha|
|Date Released||October 22, 2013|
1961's The Naked Witch is a true oddity, probably the most original product of writer/director Larry Buchanan. Mind you, that isn't to say that it's a good movie. Heavens, no. But it's original. Usually Mr. Buchanan made films based either on other films, such as his entire lengthy series of color remakes of old American International Pictures (done on contract, to make more easily syndicatable versions of old "classics" ), or based on whatever dead celebrity was still hot in the gossip rags (he hit all the easy targets, like Marilyn Monroe, Howard Hughes, or the trio of dead J-rockers, Jimi, Jim, and Janis). So something like The Naked Witch sticks out on his filmography like a sore thumb... or since the witch is naked, pick whatever part you want to stick out.
As mentioned above, however... still not very good. This tale of a college student on the most boring Spring Break ever (Let's see; hit the beaches, or go talk to Germans in Texas about ancient folklore? Hmmm...) very eventually segues into a tale of supernatural revenge, at which time the titular witch goes on a leisurely rampage against the easiest set of senior citizen targets ever to limp across the silver screen. For those looking for cheap thrills, it should be said that Mr. Buchanan (and Claude Alexander, who co-wrote/directed this, in his only credited work) do keep the promise of a witch who is naked at least for a good while. However, it should also be mentioned that all known surviving prints of this film have censored much of that nudity, LITERALLY with a magic marker. So for most of the movie it isn't so much The Naked Witch as it is The Sharpied Witch.
This episode of Ghosts On The Big Brown Couch was the first to include additional short subjects before the feature (due to the brief length of the main film, which only runs 59 minutes). The first one is a wacky silent film from way back in 1907, Satan in Prison. It's directed by the great Georges Melies, the masterful filmmaker who revolutionized early filmmaking. In Satan in Prison Melies demonstrates his usual love of using the movie camera to create magic tricks... but frankly, this movie is no Trip to the Moon. Hence the riff treatment.
The second and final short is 1961's Nightmare At Elm Manor, aka Flesh and Fantasy. It too is a silent movie, but really only because there wasn't much for it to say. Nudie photographer Harrison Marks is plying his craft here, with his lens focused on the famous figure model June Palmer. Now, if it was just Marks shooting a naked woman in plot-free silliness (which was his usual M.O.), Nightmare At Elm Manor wouldn't make the cut for riffing purposes. But this time Marks decided to tell a little horror story, and the results are so goofy that it practically demands riffing.
The previous episode, Count Dracula and His Vampire Brides, ended on a cliffhanger as Dori and Becky's brief but loud scuffle apparently attracted the attention of the police. As Episode 5 begins, Johnny is approaching the front door to answer it, when suddenly a strange otherworldly form of himself splits off and stands beside him. Explaining that it is a "more ideal" Johnny, the other being tells Johnny that before he answers the door he needs to calm down and gather his thoughts. It instructs him to go back to his happiest memory...Johnny flash backs to Halloween, which was just a few weeks previous. Dori and Becky are dressed in costumes, ready to head to a ghost Halloween party (it is apparently the one night of the year in which all spirits can gather together). Babs is also dressed up, wearing an attractive purple gown and tiara. When asked about the costume, Babs insists that she is a "pretty, pretty princess". Johnny, meanwhile, is reluctantly dressed in a somewhat ridiculous-looking red costume that Dori picked out for him. He isn't familiar with the name of the superhero she claims he's dressed as, but he intends to look it up on the internet later.
As Dori and Becky depart, Babs chooses to remain behind and watch a movie with Johnny. Several times, after watching some short films, then again midway through the feature, Johnny and Babs are interrupted by the other ghosts, who appear to be more drunk each time they pop up. Johnny is also annoyed, first when he discovers that the "superhero" name that Dori gave him is actually a euphemism for penis, and again later when Dori runs him down with a "ghost bus". Babs is quick to remind Johnny, however, that a ghost can't do permanent harm to him, after which his injuries do indeed magically heal (much as they did in a similar situation in Episode 3, Air Collision ).
Eventually the film ends, and Johnny's flashback comes to a conclusion. He is confused about why Halloween was his happiest memory, and he asks his "other self" about it. The strange being simply returns the question to him; "Why do you think that is?" It suddenly occurs to Johnny that he was at his happiest because he was spending time alone with Babs; he is getting increasingly close to her. The other being disappears, and fortified with newfound courage, Johnny prepares to open the door.
Over by the couch, the "other Johnny" appears beside Babs. She asks him what Johnny saw, and he replies that he can't tell her that. Then, however, the figure transforms into the Grim Reaper, who was fooling Johnny all along in an effort to help him. Grim also magically repairs the window that Dori and Catherine broke when they tumbled out in the previous episode. Babs remarks that should help the situation when the police officer comes in. Grim replies that the person on the other side of the door is not a police officer.
"He isn't?" Babs replies in surprise.
"No, but keep on your toes," Grim says. "The night is about to get interesting."
TO BE CONTINUED...
The character of the Grim Reaper makes a brief return appearance in this episode. Originally portrayed by Writer/Director Joseph O'Brien in Scrooge (1935) - Episode 2 , the role this time is recreated by regular cast member Timothy Tompkins, as Mr. O'Brien was hard at work finishing up editing on his feature film Devil's Mile.