Odd Culture

Apocalypse Pooh, Blue Peanuts, and the Archies Going Punk

posted by Chris Valentine

Let me tell you about this bizarre short called Apocalypse Pooh. A few years ago I was perusing an independent video store in Atlanta, GA. This particular store was cool for the fact that even though I lived in Florida I could still rent videos from them, and just send them back in the mail. (I can’t remember the name of the store, unfortunately). The guy in the store introduced me to this crazy animated mashup made circa 1987 called Apocalypse Pooh. I didn’t know who the creator was, but he sure had a lot of spare time, because he used it to join animated scenes from Winnie the Pooh with audio from Francis Ford Coppola’s dark and brooding Vietnam epic Apocalypse Now. Primitive stuff (probably not made using a computer), but funny in a I-can’t-believe-they-did-that kinda way. I guessed that the method used involved recording the video from one source and the audio from another source… but how did they get the cartoon characters to seem like they are actually speaking the dialogue?

Anyway, I found out later that Todd Graham (who was kind enough to comment below) is responsible for what Scott MacKenzie refers to as avant-garde cinema:

Todd Graham made Apocalypse Pooh as an OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design) student in the 1980s. One of the true underground films (it has never had any sort of official release), Graham re-edited cartoons from Walt Disney’s Winnie the Pooh series of featurettes, released between 1966 and 1977, drawing his détourned images mostly from the first film in the series, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966) and the Academy Award winning second short, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968). Graham then dialectically juxtaposed these images with the soundtrack, along with a few live-action images, from Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979). At key moments, Graham reversed these détourned juxtapositions, deploying images from Coppola’s film, and sounds from Reitherman’s animated featurettes.

Apocalypse Pooh played in some circles like the Pleasure Dome in Toronto and the Whitney Museum in New York, as well as comic book conventions. In the days before the Internet, it was widely bootlegged, passed around and traded on VHS tape. As MacKenzie says, “One could see Graham’s film as an instantiation of comic geek, Situationist samizdat.” Watch it now:

Elsewhere on the tape is a similar mash-up of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet and the Peanuts gang. Snoopy plays Frank Booth. Watch it below:

Finally, we have the Archie’s playing to the Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen. I bet you didn’t think Archie had that much angst, did you? It’s good stuff – having kid-approved, sweet-and-warm animated favorites mixed with nihilistic, adult-oriented material is sort-of jarring, but fun. Check it out:

(Disclaimer: The copyright for some of the audio used in this segment, (like the Rolling Stones bit) is owned by Warner Music Group (WMG). Thus far, they have been kind enough to let the video stand on YouTube.)

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