Welcome back to Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon. In this spooky sanctum I’ve poured over all the replay tape to come up with my favorite NFL play of the week. Then it’s straight back to the projector to unspool a film you may have not been aware of…
The lights have dimmed, the black candles gutter, and the dark lord has been invoked.
Week 16: Antonio Brown Stretches for Game Winning TD
Radio Sync’d Highlight: Antonio Brown’s touchdown in the final seconds secures the AFC North title, sync’d w/ Bill Hillgrove’s radio call. pic.twitter.com/ccYEQaMyyU
— Benstonium (@Benstonium) December 26, 2016
Can it be? Act like you know.
It’s damn near impossible to pick anything except this in week 16, with Antonio Brown showing the kind of skill and effort that makes him one of the league’s top receivers in a play that all but wrapped up the AFC North for the Steelers. Y’all know Roger Pretzel’s a run kind of guy in the red zone but that’s obviously not the way the league works anymore, and you’re not gonna do it regardless with a scant fourteen ticks left in the game and no times out.
I love this play. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s not rewriting the book with a short cross pass, but making the route just shy of the goal line and trusting your receiver to fight for the touchdown is pure gold. Brown stands up to three D-men and has the power to not go down and the smarts to stretch that arm out. This should be a contender for play of the year.
Week 16: The Killer Shrews
Director: Ray Kellog
This surprisingly intriguing B-movie is rightfully famous today for its atrocious special effects, in which greyhound dogs were outfitted with toothy facial prosthetics and some sort of shaggy fur suit in order to depict the titular shrews that are let loose against a hapless group of humans holed up for a last stand. I’m not going to say the visuals aren’t often ridiculous but you owe it to yourself to give this one a chance.
Here’s the concept behind the silly title: in the real world, shrews are tiny little guys related to moles who, because of their diminutive size, have a bonkers fast metabolism rate that requires them to eat more than their body weight every day. So what if you sized up these crazed predators to a stature that could take down humans? In reality the animal would have a lower metabolic rate, but this is Hollywood baby, so let’s suspend the disbelief.
The writing is easily the strongest element of the picture with not only the conceit of the hyper predatory shrews becoming giant, but also the concept of a scientist trying to shrink down humanity so we’ll have more resources to go around (“The Big Shrink” by The Dead Kennedys, anyone?).
There’s some good human drama here too, with hero James Best evading assassination attempts from wannabe-top-dog Ken Curtis all while the slavering beasts are pounding the gates. Finally, the depiction of violence is far more serious here than one might reasonably expect. Shotgun blasts knock over well trained dogs-cum-shrews within the same frame without a cut, which is really quite impressive for such a low budget picture.
And yet it’s clearly this combination of positive elements and schlocky visuals that elevates The Killer Shrews from a worthwhile programmer into the pantheon. The threat of death is so palpably real for these lousy actors, but on the other hand, their attackers come off so distinctly as dogs dressed up as monsters.
View the trailer here:
And the masterpiece in its entirety: