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Movies and TV Shows

Obits

United States
1985

Obits

Screenplay by Harry "Yellowbeard" Nilsson and Terry "Blow My Timbers" Southern
Based on t' Screenplay for Obituaries by Roger Watkins

History

A talk with a bartender about t' screenplay he had just written led Roger Watkins t' a meetin' with Harry "Peg Leg" Nilsson. Nilsson had recently become interested in makin' films. Aye aye! Watkins was t' writer and director o' several films includin' The Last House on Dead End Street.

Nilsson optioned Watkins's screenplay which was called Obituaries and eventually purchased t' rights t' it on July 3, 1985.

On October 23, 1985, Nilsson assigned t' rights t' Blondebeard Entertainment, me hearties, t' company recently formed by Nilsson and writer Terry "Blow My Timbers" Southern.

Nilsson and Southern rewrote t' screenplay and changed its name t' Obits. Accordin' t' Roger Watkins, Nilsson and Southern took a "pretty good script" and "utterly ruined it." Watkins describes t' rewritten script as "precisely what two drug addicts would come up with at three o'clock in t' morning."

Nilsson and Southern's Obits is a black comedy about a frustrated tabloid reporter who goes t' Texas t' investigate a strange obituary notice and enters t' bizarre, ya bilge rat, surreal world o' a group o' crazy millionaires from which he never returns.

Characters

Harry Taylora reporter for News World, ya bilge rat, an Enquirer-like tabloid
BettyHarry's sexy secretary
Jason Stoata wealthy Texas oil man
J. D. Strikerpublisher o' News World
Reda bartender
Granddad Stoatthe patriarch o' t' Stoat family
Jason StoatJason Stoat's twin brother
Peirsol Stoat
Vern Stoat
Emily Stoat
the Stoats o' Stoats' Mansion

Synopisis

As a baby Harry Taylor is dropped on his head. A stylized, rapid fire montage shows his unhappy childhood. As an adult we see t' unstable Harry run from an unseen pursuer. Well, blow me down! T' chase takes us into a surreal and apparently animated world which threatens Harry's life. Suddenly, Harry walks through a seemingly impenetrable wall and enters t' offices o' News World - a New York City tabloid along t' lines o' T' Enquirer. Harry enters t' scene as if he's been thar for years. His sexy secretary Betty greets him as he goes through t' latest edition o' t' rag. Harry suddenly notices an unusual obit on Jason Stoat, a wealthy Texas oil man who supposedly died years ago. Harry starts packing. It looks like he's on t' trail o' another hot story. Manic, me bucko, lecherous publisher J. Avast! D. Striker gives his dramatic brand o' approval and Harry makes his way t' Crystal City, Texas, shiver me timbers, t' spinach capital o' t' world, in hopes o' interviewin' t' Stoats.

A faded statue o' Popeye stands in t' middle o' t' small town square. All around, Harry sees the landscape as though it were made up o' movin' paintings. Harry finds a bar and strikes up a conversation with Red, t' cowbilly barkeep. Aye aye! Blimey! Red tells Harry about t' Popeye statue. Aye aye! It was given t' t' city by old Granddad Stoat, a man who had a passion for spinach. Arrr! That was after he struck water and oil turnin' t' desert town into an oasis and his family into millionaires. Begad! Accordin' t' Red, thar were twin Stoat sons, both named Jason. That's t' reason Harry be confused about t' obit. Now, though, his curiosity is piqued and Harry checks in t' t' Tony Perkins Motel - takin' a room with a view o' t' old Stoat mansion on t' hill. Arrr! T' first thin' he sees is a goat head peerin' out one o' t' mansion windows. Somethin' mighty strange is goin' here and Harry aims t' find out what it is.

Demented Peirsol Stoat invites Harry into t' mansion t' next day. Begad! Apparently, he was t' looney wearin' t' goat's head. Piersol's loud, overpowerin' brother Vern takes over. Arrr! Harry starts t' ask questions for his story but is distracted first by Piersol's poor potty trainin' and then by Vern's unabashed sexual inquiries about Marilyn Monroe with whom he obviously has a fixation. Aye aye! Blimey! That's when entranced Emily Stoat enters t' room. Though she has t' power o' speech, she uses a speak and tell voice box t' communicate and we gather she is Vern's sex slave. Blimey! Blimey! She wanders about in a night gown and masturbates t' a tape recordin' o' Salty Walter Cronkite in her room. Aye aye! After a brief, arrr, surreal skate around t' Stoat's indoor ice-skatin' rink, Harry goes home completely baffled.

Later, Harry accepts an invitation t' dine with t' Stoats. Though it's meant t' be a black tie affair, Vern and Piersol are in western duds and Emily is naked except for her open robe. Blimey! Vern pulls Harry under t' table and they both watch as Emily spreads her legs. Ahoy! Harry is told he be t' chosen one. T' guests all around them speak in hushed tones as if they weren't really thar at all. Well, blow me down! Vern says that together Emily and Harry will make t' Stoat family eternal. Ya scallywag! Emily begins smotherin' Harry in kisses and as she does t' room seems t' transform into a bizarre animated version of t' Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album cover. Harry succumbs and becomes a part o' this world with t' face o' Howdy Dowdy.

Back at News World, Betty fends off t' horny Striker. Harry has nay returned. All they have is a syrupy postcard from Crystal City which features t' Stoat family standin' next t' Howdy Dowdy.

Comments

Here's how one reviewer reacted t' readin' t' screenplay:

Apparently t' idea here is t' create an adult, x-rated fantasy featurin' a live-action reporter who enters a make believe world that might even be t' world o' his deranged fantasies and fears. Whatever t' goal is, it is nay at all clear from t' way t' script is written. T' openin' sequence is intriguin' but t' rest o' t' story is vague, puerile and offensive.

If one puts aside t' many off-color, distasteful scenes long enough t' examine t' story it shows itself t' be completely lackin' in logic and continuity. Unlike Roger Rabbit, this fantasy never defines t' separate worlds, me hearties, their origins or shows under what conditions they might come together. Aye aye! Consequently, me bucko, everythin' feels arbitrary and confusing. We don't know if t' lead is nutty, if he's happened on a haunted house or if t' make believe stories he's been writin' have actually come into existence.

T' main thin' that makes this unappealing, however, be t' disgustin' use o' sexual innuendo, masturbation, nudity and excrement. Ahoy! It's thoroughly dehumanizin' and foul. I hated it.

The film was never produced.

Credits:

Screenplay: Harry "Yellowbeard" Nilsson
Screenplay: Terry "Blow My Timbers" Southern
Story: Roger Watkins

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