Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
March 1st, 2007

The Amazing Screw-On Head

the Amazing Screw-On Head
Directed by Chris Prynoski
Written by Mike Mignola
Starring Paul Giamatti, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Patton Oswalt
Produced by Susan Norkin
22 mins

History gets badly fractured in "The Amazing Screw-On Head", from the same guy who brought you "Hellboy", Mike Mignola.

Somehow, President Abraham "Honest Abe" Lincoln has a special agent he can call on when the Forces of Evil rear their collectively ugly head, Special Agent Screw-On Head. Who is, not surprisingly, a robot. With a screw-on head. And in this case, Screw-On Head has been dispatched to stop the fiendish Emperor Zombie and his cohorts--werewolves, tommy-gun-toting monkeys, the elderly, and the queen of the vampires. They're out to conquer the world through the occultic powers of a melon-sized jewel.

Now, if you're somewhat like me, and God help you if you are, you might have caught this exact same episode running back when the Sci-Fi Channel was running its first disastrous season of "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?"; don't even get me started on "Feedback". But anyway, this little gem showed up a couple times, and I was starting to wonder--start of a new series? One shot deal? What?

Consulting the comic book that comes with the video reveals that this is in fact the pilot for a TV series, but if there will be future episodes of the Amazing Screw-On Head, that's out of my bailiwick.

Though I really hope there are...this single pilot is roaringly comic and highly unique. Frankly, I've never seen anything like this, and I'm glad to have seen it again. In a world where the Homestead Act is merely cover so that a robot with a detachable head and threaded bolt-like neck can investigate alien technologies without drawing the notice of the Confederacy, it's pretty much anyone's guess as to what will happen here long-term. And that would make for regular surprises and a constant flow of innovation.

The special features include storyboard comparisons, a featurette on converting the comic book to a cartoon, and trailers for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles volume 6", "The Invincible Iron Man", and "Happily N'Ever After".

All in all, "The Amazing Screw-On Head" was a joy to behold, packing an alarming amount of surprises into a tiny twenty-two minute package.

Nerima Daikon Brothers

Directed by Shinichi Watanabe
Written by Studio Hibari
Starring various depending on language
Produced by Hiroli Yoshida
100 mins

Okay, for you anime buffs out there, what I'm about to tell you is going to put you into full-on fanboy mode. Or fangirl, depending.

Nabeshin's back.

Okay, stop screaming for a am I supposed to tell you anything if you won't stop screaming? that you've had a chance to calm down, it's true. Nabeshin, Shinichi Watanabe himself, has launched up another anime, and if you were around for "Excel Saga" some of his earlier work and one of my personal favorites, you know what you're in for.

And indeed, it's all the standard Nabeshin craziness. Three radish farmers, two brothers and a female country cousin, from Nerima, apparently (based on the notes ADV so generously provides as part of the DVD) the radish capital of Tokyo, are desperately trying to raise money to build a concert dome on their radish field so that they can spend the rest of their lives singing. One brother is actively lusting after his cousin. The other, a part-time host club waiter, has a thing for pandas. Meanwhile, our country cousin is desperate for a taste of sweet Dom Perignon, and thus spends her time chasing after money by whatever means available.

Worse yet, the Nerima Daikon Brothers (and this does include the female country cousin) frequently run afoul of various money-grubbing types, and thus have decided to steal from these money-grubbers to get the money to build their dome. This is where Nabeshin comes in--he's running a shop that will loan anyone anything, except money. And thus, when the Brothers are in need of hardware to accomplish their heists, off they go to Nabeshin's shop, where they sing basically the same song into his window. Nabeshin will then grin, remark on how much he likes the Brothers, and hands over some impossibly large piece of firepower (everything from bazookas to tunneling machines) to aid in their ultimately futile quest.

The casual observer, by which I mean anyone with a pulse and even a passing interest in American cinema, will notice a whole lot of similarities between the Nerima Daikon Brothers and the Saturday Night Live alumni Blues Brothers. This is, apparently, intentional.

So if I were asked to describe, rapidly, "Nerima Daikon Brothers", I wouldn't have too hard a time with it. Basically, all you've got to do is cross "Blues Brothers" with "Excel Saga" and tack on a whole bunch of radishes.

On the down side, it's essentially the same episode every time, with a handful of specifics changed. Volume one will make that clear. And yet, every episode is roaringly comic. Somehow, the fact that they can still make fresh laughs despite rampant plot reuse actually makes me respect it even more. I find myself wondering, how long can they keep this up?

The special features include a music video, a sing-along section, two separate commentary tracks, a track of pop-ups that detail certain elements of the plot, and a clean opening and closing animation, along with trailers for "Paniponi Dash", "Get Backers", "Excel Saga", "Jinki: Extend", "Full Metal Panic?FUMOFFU", and "Guyver".

All in all, do I really need to say anything more? It's a Blues Brothers / Excel Saga hybrid from none other than Nabeshin himself. That's all anyone needs to know.