Wednesday, October 10, 2007

FLIP IS A BOY. Flip has a crewcut and lives in the 1960s. Flip loves monsters. Flip's grandma has given him a dollar for his birthday (and in the sixties that was big bucks, Jack!) and now Flip has to decide how to spend it. This, in its entirety, is the plot of "FLIP": a short film directed by Kirk Demarais for Spooklight Productions. And "FLIP" is a film that every Monster Kid should see.
Flip (played with wide-eyed enthusiasm by Landen Knowlton) lives life the way any of us who grew up from the fifties to the seventies will recognize. He's got monster posters in his room, Aurora monster models and monster comics. And in the back of one such comic (an E.C. replica titled "The Haunted Casino") is that old familiar ad for "Uncle Laff's Novelty Shop" in Neptune, NJ where one could send away for all sorts of cheap crap that never worked (like X-Ray Specs, itching powder, werewolf masks or sea monkeys). Of course, being a little kid in the 60's, Flip (and we) didn't know they were crap items; they held the promise of endless joy. For a buck.
Flip finally makes his decision only after daydreaming about the possibilities of other items. For instance, Flip daydreams about buying the werewolf mask only to be discovered by a Hollywood talent scout and put into his own monster movie as the star. In another "dream-come-true" fantasy sequence, Flip buys the "fake arm cast" to play on the sympathies of the candy store clerk who spies Flip acting all forlorn with his "broken arm" and allows Flip to go on a free shopping spree. Flip grabs handful after handful of penny candy and leaves the store pulling his little red wagon full of loot. The boy leaves the store beaming! The fantasy sequence ends perfectly with the kindly, waving clerk being jumped by the Robot Monster (literally a guy in a gorilla suit with an antenna-topped divers helmet for a head -- see the classically bad 50's film of the same name if you don't believe me).
Flip finally decides on the item he will buy with his dollar (as his grandma's admonition to "spend it wisely" echoes in his mind): the "U-Control Frankenstein Monster". Now this was an actual item you could send away for. After Flip is beaten up by a bully, he pops his dollar in the mail and waits the required six to eight weeks for the monster to arrive. Meanwhile, Flip fantasizes about this arrival of the HUGE U-Control Monster (a terrific prop) taking revenge on the bully. When the Monster does finally arrive, there's something decidedly wrong. The package is in a plain brown wrapper the size of a comic book (and just as thin). Alas, Flip has experienced the disappointment many of us have known: the so-called "U-Control Frankenstein Monster" is only a black bag with a green balloon on top (with the Monster's face printed on it) that you pull along the ground with a string. That's the U-Control Monster! Flip is totally disgusted and throws it in the trash.
Next we see Flip, now grown up in the present, trying to bid on the exact same lame U-Control Monster on "". After several outbids, adult Flip finally snags it and has it mounted and framed on his wall along with other relics of his boyhood once disgarded and now sought-after collectibles. With immense pride, he surveys his wall of X-Ray Specs, monster comics and yes . . . the U-Control Monster as his young son (also played by Landen Knowlton) looks on.
"FLIP" is a 15 minute mine of nostalgia for all Monster Kids while also providing a nice little comment on current collectors trying to recapture their lost youth and a much simpler time. The scene where Flip sneaks down to watch a scary movie on television after his parents have gone to sleep resonates with all of us who used to do the same thing. And Flip's endless daydream fantasies recall our seemingly endless childhood summer days which were so filled with fun and fantasy. And for 15 minutes at least, "FLIP" takes us back there once again.

No comments: