Yet it fills a different niche than I usually focus on: Horror movies.
Specifically appreciating the often creative, over-the-top kills in horror movies. Or, as the pendulum tends to swing, also lampooning the uncreative and lazy sides of horror.
When the channel first appeared in my recommendations, I was a bit misled. I expected the videos to just be montages. A Buzzfeed-esque “top ten kills” kind of premise. Specifically my first experience was for John Carpenter’s 1982 classic The Thing, a video of his I watched because I’ve been interested in the film’s practical effects recently.
But that video, and the “Kill Count” series as a whole, is much smarter.
It’s essentially a series of spoiler-laden reviews, talking about movie plots, development cycles and places in history as much as they focus on the kills.
Every video also includes a break-down of the victims in each film (showing the interesting bent toward male deaths in cinema), a specified “best” and “worst” kill distinction as well as a live bit playing on events from the movie.
However, I think one of my favorite things about “Kill Count” is how funny the series is. The videos are nearly satirical movie reviews that provide great commentary and mile-a-minute jokes.
Janisse breaks the fourth wall a lot to remind the audience that they’re watching a review for yucks more than a serious catalog of deaths.
I wager this proliferation of content comes largely from two areas.
Firstly, Internet remix culture. This 2015 Tech Crunch piece elaborates further, but in essence the Internet has created a people interested in re-consuming the same ideas with transformed variations and assimilated elements.
The second cause is the success of recognizable brands. Remakes are safer investments for studios than novel properties, as general audiences are more likely to pay for a movie featuring iconography they know and love.
That said, the show’s character designs are visually appealing and the theme song is iterated upon well for a decent soundtrack.
But these are elements lifted directly from the old series, and the 2017 characters are paper-thin archetypes at best that rely on forced, surrealist humor and returning elements like Muttley’s snickering that are somehow both referential and current, all-encompassing character traits.
I’m willing to bet the pitch for the show was simply bringing that iconic laugh back into mainstream consciousness.
One thing that stood out in my viewing: I’m not sure what audience this reboot is targeting. Its simplicity is bland even for a younger Cartoon Network demographic, but there is a heavy leaning on dated references for fans of the ’68 version.
For example: In the spacefaring episode, Dastardly pretends to be Space Ghost so he can sneak onto the garbage collecting ship.
This joke was actually the catalyst for my post, because… Really? Space Ghost?
I know Adult Swim and Channel Chasers kept him relevant well beyond his shelf life, but what kid in 2019 is going to know what Space Ghost was?
In fact, this lazily executed “fellow 60’s cartoon” reference raises more questions. Why would these characters know who Space Ghost is if, as the other episode suggested, they are the grandchildren of the original Wacky Racers?
Full disclosure, I know I’m overthinking things. But when your show is so dull that this is all I can think about, there’s something wrong.
Frankly this whole post probably seems like needlessly overthinking children’s entertainment. Why does Wacky Races matter as much as I seem to suggest?
The thing is… It doesn’t. Which is kind of the point.
I have fond memories watching re-runs of the 1968 show, but I’m under no delusion that it was perfect television.
Wacky Races suffered from the same budget shortcuts of endless animation loops and recycling story ideas as The Flintstones and other serialized Hanna-Barbara cartoons in its mold.
They were flawed, but incredibly important and popular parts of animation history.
It’s a great tribute, but perhaps it primed me to quickly perceive this reboot as a lazy cash grab. The kind of product that retroactively degrades a show’s popular perception, or even dissuades a consumer from seeking the original they may be unaware exists.
But to be honest, Wacky Races (2017) could just as easily be a catalyst for curious youngsters to seek out the original piece of animation history.
I would hope such a mediocre reboot at least succeeds in keeping its predecessor alive.