Monday, August 3, 2009

Jenny Tonic Recommends: Dearly Departed, Volume 1


If you are looking for a well produced documentary on celebrity death. Nay on this choice. I personally don't really care; I'm here for the ride that host Scott Michaels will take me on. And it never gets old.

Who is Scott Michaels, you may ask? He is the creator of and serves as Hollywood death site tour guide. A lot of people may grimace at the fact that people are interested in celebrity death. Like it or not, it's also a part of Hollywood history. You can "Wikipedia" any old dead famous person, but that's just their beginning and middle. Not much is known about their end. And that's where Scott comes in... In a very witty and humorous way. My favorite thing said by him in this documentary: "...We're not vampires, we're not crazy people. We're just people interested in some things that are a little different."

Anyways, my defense for being a proud card-carrying "death hag" is over. I will now dispense my little ol review...

Unfortunately my only real gripe on this DVD is that there isn't a chapter menu option (probably due to the low budget, whatevs), so you have to skip through some of the deaths discussed to get to a specific person. Oh well, there's only like 15 deaths discussed. Wah...

The celebrities and stops on his docu-tour are: River Phoenix, Ed Wood, Jonathan Brandis, Sam Cooke, Dee Dee Ramone, The Bat Cave (a cool Hollywood location spot where Michaels humorously gets on a soap box about the Mayor of Hollywood, Johnny Grant), Robert Lees, Marvin Gaye, George Reeves, Bobby Kennedy and the demise of the Ambassador Hotel, and last but not least the ultimate stop for a death hag, Cedars Sinai Hospital where Michaels gives us a laundry list of celebrities who have passed.

Here are some of the highlights of this DVD...

First up on the tour, Michaels starts us out with the most spectacular segment on the DVD, the death of character actor Albert Dekker. Just check out the scene below...

See? How can this NOT be an entertaining document of Hollywood history?

Elizabeth Short AKA The Black Dahlia. He goes very detailed with great trivia on this one and gladly spares us the gruesome pictures of her mutilated body. If you are looking for that kind of stuff, there are plenty of internet resources to find it. Hell, you just have to turn your safe filter off in Google search. Mine is on after searching for a Chris Farley picture, thank you very much.

Jean Harlow is our next stop where Michaels gets cart blanche entree into the house she died in, where the current occupants are very considerate with the history of the house. It's a look at Hollywood you'll never find anywhere else.

Jack Cassidy is another doosey of a death, again with Michaels getting the green light of filming inside the actual apartment where Cassidy burnt up in. In this clip below, Michaels displays the excitement of a kid at Christmas getting that kick ass Atari 2600 and explains how death hags are not weirdos and freaks. You also get a little trailer in the beginning...

Karen Carpenter is probably the funniest, with Michaels' little anecdotes of Richard and Karen's crazy, egocentric apartments they owned; "the most ideal place for little white musicians to live," and where he has trouble with his GPS; trying to find the hospital she was taken to; "the bitch in the box has got it right!" It also gets into creepy territory when you find out Cynthia Gibb, while playing her in a movie, wore her clothes and the real paramedics that took Karen to the hospital were used in the movie as well. And produced by brother Richard. CREEPY. We also get to learn what a glockenspiel (yup, totally had to Wikipedia AND spell check that one) is because she played it in high school. She was a total band geek.

Janis Joplin was one of my favorite segments because I actually stayed many times at the same hotel that Janis died in, the Highland Gardens. Looks like they have done a total revamp to the place! Yay, maybe the locks work now! We also get sidetracked on our way to Barney's Beanery (where Janis had her last drink and you can see the "Janis" booth) and see the building where Mel Gibson jumped off at the beginning of Lethal Weapon with yet another zinger of a joke about Mr. Gibson by Michaels. Also interesting is the info on the heroin she used when she overdosed.

Marilyn Monroe is another great one, with stops and tidbits of her childhood (gazing out her window at the Paramount Studios tower, dreaming of being a movie star) and even an interview with her and Joe DiMaggio's former florist. See, who else would think to interview him?

As for bonus features, we get a presentation Michaels did somewhere, power point style about other Hollywood history locations. Unfortunately it's terribly filmed, but you still get the general jist of what you are viewing and Michaels great off color humor.

I'm sure business is booming for him with so much death in the air recently (he's already added Michael Jackson to his Hollywood tour!), but here's some plugs for the dude who has given me some morbid entertainment on the web since 1999...
Highly recommend this tour over those lame Hollywood sleaze tours....
Dearly Departed Tours

I can't refer this to people enough, it's definitely entertainment. A definite HIT in pop culture!

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