One of the horror genre's "most widely read critics" (Rue Morgue # 68), "an accomplished film journalist" (Comic Buyer's Guide #1535), and the award-winning author of Horror Films of the 1980s (2007), The Rock and Roll Film Encyclopedia (2007) and Horror Films of the 1970s (2002), John Kenneth Muir, presents his blog on film, television and nostalgia, named one of the Top 100 Film Studies Blog on the Net.
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Monster Squad: "The Tickler"
“The Tickler,” Walt (Fred Grandy) discovers counterfeit money at the Wax Museum
and with the help of the crime computer determines that it is being circulated
by a dreaded old enemy: The Tickler (Ivor Francis).
Tickler is known as “the man who cannot
laugh” and he dresses as a clown so as to pull pranks on unsuspecting
people, and, hopefully make himself laugh in the process.
Frank’N’Stein and The Wolf Man head to Laugh Land -- a weird funhouse -- to apprehend
The Tickler, but he is ready for them. The
Tickler captures all three of the monsters with the help of his minions, Twitter and Snicker, and informs them that he wants revenge on Walt and the
Squad for sending him to prison.
Walt heads to Laugh Land as well. But will he show up too late to save the
monsters from The Tickler’s nefarious feather wheel and giggle goo?
week’s episode of The Monster Squad (1976), “The Tickler” features Ivor Francis
as a villain who tries very hard not
to be The Joker.Although he is also a
clown, The Tickler makes a big deal of not laughing about things. I suppose that’s the primary differentiation
in every other way, this episode of The Monster Squad -- like each one
made so far -- rigorously apes the Batman TV formula.
Wax Museum basement doubles as the Bat Cave, the crime computer for the Bat
Computer, and the Tickler for the Joker.
The colorful villain of the week attempts to confound the heroes with a
terrible machine, and in this case, it’s the feather wheel. But if you watched Batman, you know that each
cliffhanger ending featured some terrible trap for the Caped Crusader and the
is a little different about this episode of the series is that Walt actually
gets out of the dungeon and is able to help out the monsters on their
case. He takes his criminology book into
the field with him, a jokey but amusing touch, and it turns out that the book
is hiding a weapon, one with which he can escape from his cell and free his
Trek (1966 – 1969) will note that the gun is a toy phaser. The prop
department on this series was really raiding Star Trek merchandise on a regular
liked “The Tickler” a bit more than the previous entry, “Mr. Mephisto,” in part
because -- despite the derivative nature of his character -- Ivor Francis
provides the series its best villain so far.
something very unsettling about a lugubrious clown, and Francis nicely
showcases a sense of menace in the role. He seems like the most dangerous foe The
Monster Squad has yet encountered. Perhaps his performance works well
because, as a humorless clown, he isn’t constantly reaching for silly jokes.