Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bad Ronald


Carl has instructed me to stop nappin' and get bloggin' and for Carl's edification, and yours, I'll have you know I've actually been working, not napping, for the last couple of days. I know, it's hard to believe I stopped drinkin' for two seconds, got up off the couch and went and brought people food, but I did, and I'm all the more monetarily compensated for this. But, Carl's correct, I need to stop shirking my blogging responsibilities, as they were, and get these posts up. So, my little pumpkins, I give you BAD RONALD!

This lovely little made-for-TV slice of the 70's opens on the titular Ronald's birthday, as he is about to enter his last year of high school. He ain't Bad Ronald yet. So don't get excited. Ronald and his overbearing mommy share some din-din and some cake, as well as some expository dialogue to let us, the viewing public, get to know them and their situation somewhat. Ronald's daddy's been out of the picture for quite some time and Momma waived her alimony so she could get full custody of Ronald. No need for Ronald to have a father figure in his life - Mommy's all that and then some. Also, we learn through this clever opening conversation that Mommy's having some health issues and wants nothing more than for Ronald to attend medical school upon his completion of his senior year, no doubt for the free health care. She presents Ronald with a toolkit, literally, and a paint set, again literally (to illustrate his story - more on that later), and the evening ends successfully.

UNTIL, Ronald decides to go over to popular girl Laurie Matthew's house to invite her to the movies. Now Ronald looks like an even geekier Screech (from Saved by the Bell - is there any other Screech? But I thought I'd clarify) with horrible giant glasses, lives with a possibly insane matriarch, and is, by all accounts, socially awkward. Why in the living hell would popular, blond Laurie Matthews want ANYTHING to do with Ronald? Answer: She doesn't. She rebukes him almost immediately after he arrives at her swimming pool, and the jocks and bimbos she hangs out with taunt him mercilessly. Come on, Ronald, are you that clueless? Just because it's your bday, that doesn't mean that bitch Laurie Matthews is going to accompany you to the movies.

Okay, so this is getting predicable already, but hang on. There's more. Predictability, that is. But there's some good stuff too. Hold your fucking horses.

So Ronald leaves Laurie's all rejected and such and runs into her kid sister, Carol. He bumps into her inadvertently, knocking her off her bicycle. Carol, a precocious ten to twelve year old, tells Ronald how weird he is and just as an added dig, calls Mommy weird too. Uh oh. Do NOT fuck with a socially awkward withdrawn teen and his mamma. Ronald demands she apologize for the insult and one thing ultimately leads to another and little Carol winds up with her skull bashed in courtesy of a strategically placed cinderblock. Oh Ronald! Look what you fucking did! So if this was a pick your own adventure tale, guess what Ronald does next: a) alerts some authority that Carol had an unfortunate accident while riding her bike or b) buries her body in a shallow grave and returns home to confess the incident to Mommy. If you picked b) we're on to the next chapter in this tale.

Well, since Ronald's Mommy's one and only, she only gets pissed for a sec - 'I warned you about those girls!' and then decides to do the only rational thing. Again, choose your own adventure. A) turn Ronald into the authorities, crying accident or b) hide Ronald in the walls of the crumbling Victorian house in which they live until the heat dies down, then start over somewhere new with different identities later on. Ding, ding, ding, ding! If you picked b) continue the adventure.

Okay, so I TOTALLY knew that toolkit (literally) would come in handy and Mommy and Ronald make a special hidey hole for Ronald to chill out in. They wallpaper up a bathroom/bedroom (ala kinda what they do for Peter Cushing in FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED for his secret lab-or-a-tory) while the cops are poking around looking for clues as to what happened to Carol.

Well, you know how the cops are, and they eventually a'knockin' at Ronald's place. Mommy, forever the good Mommy that she is, tells them Ronald ran away from home and she is unaware of his whereabouts. They search the dwelling and find Ronald's coat with some blood on it (duh duh dunnnnnnn!) and a note stating how he's done something terrible and he's had to go away for awhile and blah blah. Mommy's on the defensive and somehow this doesn't seem suspicious and the cops take their leave....

So all is well, until Mommy's got to go have gallbladder surgery. Seems she just can't wait until Ronald gets out of the walls and becomes the world's most renowned gall bladder surgeon. So leaving Ronald with a multitude of canned goods, she enters the hospital for, what is promised, only a week. Can you guess what's coming next? Do I even need to let you choose your own adventure?

Next thing we know, Mommy's deader than a doornail and Ronald is left to fend for himself between the walls of the house. And if that wasn't enough, he's also got snoopy old busybody neighbor Mrs. Shoemacher to contend with. And how does Ronald fend for himself you ask? By making peepholes all over the house to spy on unsuspecting prospect house buyers, of course. Oh, and he also manages to give old Mrs. Shoemacher a heart attack based just on her sighting him. Does he a) use this opportunity to alert authorities that he's been inside the house all along and that he's totally innocent or does he b) drag Mrs. S's dead body into the cellar to rot for all eternity? We know Ronald, now we can refer to him as Bad Ronald, by now, so you can bet your sweet ass he chooses b).

So one thing leads to another and a family with three beautiful daughters moves into Ronald's abode. Ronald, forever one to harbor deep seeded sexual repression brought on by years of feeling inadequate at the hands of a domineering matriarch, fixates his fantasy and rage on the youngest of the daughters, Babs. At one point, his psychosis manifests itself so much, he thinks he is Prince Norbert of Enchanta (sp?) and Babs is his princess. He goes as far as to hang an ornate lifesize drawing of a princess in her room, and upon her discovering it and the freak out that follows, he manages to get his grimy hands on her, which ultimately dissovles in Ronald's being apprehended by the police, in a IMO, unfulfilling climax.

Yes, this was predictable. Yes, this was a slow burn. Yes, it could have used a grimier, sleazier ending. But! But, this was good shit. It needs to be appreciated for exactly what it is - and that's a great, kinda sort sleazy made-for-TV 70's movie about a dumbass that you just want to throttle for being so over-the-top socially inept. I wanted to yell, RONALD! Don't do that! You're gonna be a doctor one day! Fuck what you heard! You're better than that fucking Laurie Matthews! Evil prince Dwayne? Screw him! Stop nibbling on snacks every time you get stressed and pay attention to your studies! You'll outshine them all one day once you get that medical degree! And stop it with the fucking Prince Norbert shit! Don't just air that out for everyone to know! If you're a psychotic with a enchanted forest fetish, keep that shit hidden. It's like being a furry or some shit - you don't want everyone to know what a fucking freak you are! Draw your shit in private and that's that. And take a bath every once in awhile. Like Mommy used to say, 'stick to the routine!'

Oh, that Bad Ronald. I don't like him. I want to. But I don't. He just makes me mad. I'm gonna hurt him. I want to hurt him. I'll hurt him tomorrow. Tomorrow.


7 comments:

  1. I just wonder how many teenaged girls in the 70s had nightmares about geeky guys peeping at them from between the walls while they surreptitiously made out with their Sean Cassidy posters, all thanks to BAD RONALD. :)

    The title is really kind of a misnomer, though. He wasn't BAD in the "evil" way, just "bad" in the "bad at life" way. More a general inability to function as a human being, than "bad." But maybe I'm sympathetic because of my notebooks full of fantasy drawings of myself age 14, King of Coolvania. :D

    Ron's Mom was a wonderfully domineering matriarch, though, of the Ma Bates school. You might not have recognized her, but that was Kim Hunter, most famous as Dr. Zira the Sexy Chimpwoman from the original PLANET OF THE APES movies. I love the internet--it's where I get all my useless information. :D

    Great write-up! Keep 'em coming! Sleep is for the Weak! ;)

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  2. jervaise brooke hamsterSeptember 11, 2009 at 8:33 PM

    Wouldn`t it have been funny (hilarious actually) if he`d had the same name as me then the film would`ve been called "BAD JERVAISE".

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  3. the posturing (and admittedly rather irritating) little popinjaySeptember 11, 2009 at 9:37 PM

    Strickly speaking Kim Hunter was more attractive with her ape make-up on than she was when she showed her normal human face.

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  4. @the Vicar. Oh, sorry, the King of Coolvania ;) Man, was Mommy crazy. Her whole 'you have to exercise, you have to keep up with your studies, stick to the routine.' I *almost* felt bad for Ronald, but like you said, he's just bad at life, like the kid you would pay to eat a concoction of condiments at lunch back in middle school. What ever happened to that kid anyway? Is he still sucking at life somewhere? Likely.

    @Jervaise. Jervaise, I love your name. We should totally make a re-imagining of BAD RONALD but call it BAD JERVAISE. Work on the screenplay - lemme know what you come up wiht.

    @theP(andARI)LP. Maybe I am in for a rewatch of PoftheA? It's been years. Although I think I have them all lying 'round the Cavalcade on VHS somewhere. Still, a crazy Mommy is a crazy Mommy, although I think none do it better than Ruth Roman in THE BABY. Check it.

    Thanks for all your comments. This was really fun to watch and it just reaffirms my love for all things 70's.

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  5. muwahaha my conveniently placed poke roused more reviews!!1

    I dont think anyone can dispute your notes about the adherence to 70s conventions, but like you also mentioned that is the films strong point as well! We dont dig Happy Birthday to Me for redefining the Slasher; Bad Ronald takes the Psycho premise and takes it back to High School, with an awkward and unlikeable lead that lacks the charm and allure of Perkins, but still manages the creepiness. Glad you liked this one chica, plenty more fun where that came from!

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  6. I'm way late on commenting on this, I know, but I always had a soft spot for Bad Ronald, the Anne Frank of ABC Movies of the Week. It definitely taught me to keep my psychotic inner fantasy life on the down-low and to always check the pantry for hidden doors and peepholes, and as far as advice for young people goes that certainly beats the snot out of Twilight. Excellent work!

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