The Tube Bar prank call tape … as featured in “Red” (1991) dir. Christian Gore

One of the funniest and most famous prank call tapes of all-time were the series of calls made to the Tube Bar in New Jersey to the bar’s owner, a man known as Red.  The caller would ask Red if certain patrons were available at the bar to talk.  The names were usually plausible, but ultimately ridiculous names like “Pepi Roni” or “Mike Hunt” (say that last one to yourself a few times quietly, if you’re not sure it’s ridiculous).  Sometimes Red would comply, shouting out the ridiculous names into the bar, but other times he would see through the ruse and let loose with some of the funniest profanity ever uttered by a human being.  I realize being on the receiving end of telephone harassment isn’t funny, but when you’re not the one receiving it, it can sometimes be pretty f–king hysterical.

What’s featured here is the original Tube Bar tape set to visuals crafted by Film Threat editor Christian Gore, starring the late, great Lawrence Tierney as Red.  Aside from Joe in “Reservoir Dogs” and his role as Elaine’s dad on “Seinfeld,” this may be Tierney’s finest role.

As you can imagine, absolutely not safe for work.

If you haven’t noticed already, this is the “inspiration” for Bart Simpson’s prank calls to Moe on “The SImpsons.”

“Pulp Fiction” (1994) dir. /scr. Quentin Tarantino

In honor of this year’s Cannes Film Festival (taking place as we speak), here’s one of the best-known and most beloved of all the Palme D’Or winners, 1994’s “Pulp Fiction.” There’s not much more I can say about the “Star Wars” of the 1990s that hasn’t already been said. I had seen Quentin Tarantino’s first film “Reservoir Dogs” on its opening weekend at an upscale Arlington, VA art theater in the fall of 1992, after reading about it nearly a year before in the magazine “Film Threat.”  After seeing “Dogs,” I obnoxiously demanded that everyone I knew at the time see this film, carrying a VHS copy of the film to practically every gathering I went to for the next year and a half.  A year later, I saw the Tarantino-scripted “True Romance” twice on its opening weekend in 1993 and became an even more annoying (and mouth-breathing) Tarantino disciple.  Needless to say, by the fall of 1994, especially after it won the Palme D’Or at Cannes and had so many major critics vehemently raving about it (or condemning it), I could barely contain my excitement when “Pulp Fiction” finally made its US debut.  This time, I saw it at a Tuscaloosa, AL mall multiplex, which was a real sign that the underground planets had aligned and Tarantino’s blend of violence and comedy had become VERY chic by this point.

Mark Seal recently composed a very lengthy, but immensely entertaining article about the making of “Pulp Fiction” for Vanity Fair’s March 2013 Hollywood issue, which you can read at the link below:

Nearly 20 years later, “Pulp Fiction” still packs a wallop.

“Fear of a Black Hat” (1994) dir. Rusty Cundieff

The cultural success of 1984’s “This is Spinal Tap” unleashed not only several films, but an entire genre we now know, sometimes love, and sometimes loathe, called “mockumentary.”  Some of the mockumentaries that have followed in “This is Spinal Tap”‘s wake have been good, some bad.  “Fear of a Black Hat” is on the good end of things.  Granted, it’s not a perfect movie and it’s very uneven, but it’s also quite funny, intelligent, and charming.  And if you watch it more than once, it will definitely grow on you like many good comedies inevitably do.  I remember reading about this in “Film Threat” magazine back in 1993 and when it hit one of my local theaters in the spring of 1994, I was intrigued enough to check it out.  I think it was a test release, since it didn’t get national distribution until later that summer.  I remember being one of two paying customers in the theater (and the showtime was a discounted matinee) and I remember liking it a lot.   I saw it many months later when it came out on video and liked it even more.  The attached trailer seems a little corny by today’s standards, but don’t let that dissuade you from checking it out.  It’s a solid mockumentary.  And trivia note: the beautiful female interviewer is Kasi Lemmons, director of the brilliant “Eve’s Bayou,” “The Caveman’s Valentine,” and “Talk to Me”.  (Sorry, I have a bit of a crush on Ms. Lemmons)

Cundieff popped up later on Michael Moore’s 1990s show “TV Nation” and has been involved with many great comedy TV shows, from”Chappelle’s Show” to “The Wanda Sykes Show.”  Cundieff’s a very funny man.  Let’s hope he gives us another feature soon.