Friends, there have been dark days at the Vicarage. For the last two years and change, your ever-lovin' Vicar has found himself stuck deep in the Slough of Despond, without the energy or inspiration to so much as lift a quill. Bereft of inspiration, deserted by my Muse, and still heartbroken at the untimely loss of one of the last century's greatest talents, the ink had all but dried up in my disused pen. I found the weird movies I watched drained of their color, their madness impotent to lift my soul from the sprawling shadow Silence that had enveloped it. It was, to put it mildly, a very "down" mood.
But then, when I had all but resigned myself to never preaching the gospel of Mad Movies again, a figure appeared as though in a dream: clad in heeled white boots, a white pleather bikers' jacket and hot pants, a shining headband and a form-fitting rainbow-print tee, this angel descended on a wave of sunshine and 80s South American bubble-gum pop. She sang to me in a language I couldn't understand, but her words drizzled like warm honey of the flavorless Eggo™ of my soul, filling it with a sweetness whose taste I'd nearly forgotten. Taking my gnarled, withered hand in hers, she lifted me up and showed me something that put the joy back into my heart, the spring back in my step, and the starch back in my cassock:
What she showed me was Super Xuxa versus Satan (aka Super Xuxa contra Baixo Astral), a 1988 kids' movie from Brazil with more positivity, puppetry, and family-friendly batshittery than you can shake an inappropriately designed Muppet at. And that, my friends, is quite a lot.
Trust me. I know.
|Get ready to get happy|
The scene is a Brazilian urban center--possibly Sao Paulo, possibly Rio, possibly a backlot standing in for either--where hordes of unsupervised children roam the streets, looking for Coca-Cola, stale cookies, and walls to cover with graffiti. With crime, poverty, and parental disinterest at all-time highs, the children are starved not only for snack foods but for anything positive to latch onto in their (presumably) crushingly depressing lives.
Fortunately the children have a savior in Xuxa (Xuxa Meneghel), a model-turned-pop star and children's show host.* Patrolling the streets on her shining white motorbike, Xuxa is an endless source of cheerfulness and positivity--think Mr. Rogers, but with slightly better skin and a penchant for hot pants. Accompanied by her talking dog Xuxo--who, it should be noted, is apparently an off-the-rack at Toys 'R Us hand puppet--Xuxa distributes paints and brushes to the urchins of the streets, encouraging them to replace their graffiti with beautiful, life-affirming murals, on the theory that beauty makes people happy, and happy people make a better world. Also, all those swastikas and cock portraits that currently grace the neighborhood walls are starting to affect property values.
*Her television show, Xou da Xuxa, was so wildly popular that CBS, looking to serve that sweet South American/American market, gave her an English language show, Xuxa, in 1994. While not quite as popular, it did run for 2 seasons.
|Puce, for example, contains the power of necromancy|
Of course you don't go around putting joy in children's hearts without making a few enemies. Deep in the bowels of the city sewers, there dwells an eeevil underlord who feeds on the unhappiness, misery, and despair of the populace above. This is Baixo Astral (played with demented glee by Guilherme Karan), who sadly is not the Dark Lord of the Fallen, despite the movie's misleading English title. His name actually translates to "The Down Mood," according to the subtitles, but he might well be a devil for all his fearsome looks and seemingly supernatural powers. With his pale skin, bad teeth, zombie eyes, dark clothes, and buttock-covering pants, he's pretty much the opposite of everything Xuxa stands for.
|"...as long as you warn me before...well, you know."|
Fearing that Xuxa's hotness and positivity will slow down the inevitable destruction of the planet, Down Mood sends his henchmen and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rejects Titica and Morcegão (Paolo Pacelli and Roberto Guimarães) to hit her where it hurts--right in the puppies. The two teleport up to Xuxa's apartment and kidnap Xuxo, hoping to drive her to despair and thus undo all the good she's done for the city's children. And it looks like it might work, too--until, taking the advice of her living, sentient bed (?), Xuxa takes a nap and dreams of how to get to the Down Mood's domain--which involves getting sucked through the TV Poltergeist-style in what is actually a pretty well done, nearly frightening sequence.
It's at this point that the movie really takes off, as our heroine finds herself in a low-rent Labyrinth world where she must find her way to Down Mood's lair by completing a series of challenges/musical numbers. In the most direct rip-off of Jim Henson's classic, she first finds herself in front of the Wall of Illusions, a seemingly infinite barrier with no way through. She is befriended by a gypsy caterpillar named Xixa (voiced by Katia Moraes), who helps her solve the mystery through the power of imagination and pop-and-lock dancing. Xixa then accompanies Xuxa on her quest to find Xuxo, which is probably the most x's I've used in a sentence since I wrote my expose on ex-existentialist expatriate exiles in Xinxiang.
Oh, and remember that little quip earlier about inappropriately designed Muppets?
|How about girth, then?|
I freely admit I probably have a dirtier mind than your average kids' movie watcher, but I defy you to watch Xixa's tail squirm and writhe in and out of its hole and tell me somebody didn't do this on purpose. It's like the old saying goes--if it looks like a phallus, it throbs like a phallus, and it squirts drops of fluid out its end like a phallus--
--chances are, it's a cock.
Xuxa and Xixa meet many other strange creatures on their adventure, including but not limited to:
- A group of desert-dwelling, tree-planting Ghoulies
|Visit Beautiful Koozebane|
- The world's most depressing river dolphin
|"That's terrible! Um...exactly how much are we talking here?"|
- A flock of spandex-clad bird people
|"We prefer to be called 'Featheries.' "|
- Friendly, singing piranhas
- And a tortoise who has a very interesting way with words
After reaching the mythical Higher Ground and performing a show-stopping dance around a New Age Crystal God, attended by a group of sentient orchids who look strikingly like singing vaginas, Xuxa finally makes it to the Down Mood's trash-strewn lair. There she must make it through Morcegão's bureaucracy and bondage room and brave Titica's slobber spray before finally battling the Big Bad himself for her puppet puppy's freedom. Can cheerfulness and optimism win over manic depressive might? Will Xixa ever get her wings? Can we count on one more earworm musical number with plentiful Xuxa butt-shaking before the end credits roll?
|Xuxa: Britney Spears Version|
Super Xuxa versus Satan is a very special movie, in both the positive and shortbus connotations of the term. It's stupid and weird and sometimes completely insane, but there's a certain naive charm to the whole thing that I found difficult to resist. Whether because of the inappropriate-for-its-stated-audience sexuality (in the form of anatomically questionable puppets and Xuxa's tendency to show off her hot pants and unapologetically splay herself), its off-the-wall fantasy ideas, its potty humor (at one point Xuxo distracts Down Mood by pissing mightily on his leg), or the toying-with-social-criticism song lyrics ("I want to know/ why so many child in need of help/ and there's nobody to help them? /I want to know /why so much is planted, and there's so little money for feeding? / I want to know!"), I was thoroughly entertained throughout, and yes, even uplifted. When I think that the same country produced both the films of Coffin Joe and this wonderful slice of kids' movie madness, all I can say is, "Gracias, Brasil!"2.75 Thumbs.
Nota bene: If you would like to experience the mmmmmadness of this movie, you're a lucky, lucky mad movie fiend--you can watch the whole thing on YouTube right now! If you're feeling sad and blue, click on this link posthaste. Thank me later.
Enjoy some more images from Super Xuxa versus Satan (1988)!
|Upon further consideration, most agreed that the Nuclear Plant/Cosmetology School |
plans were flawed from the very start.
|Xuxo feels conflicted|
|"Also, why is my bed copping a feel?"|
|"Don't tell me you pawned the surfboard AGAIN?"|
|Hall of Hot Pants|
|"Not now, Vicar...I'm filming!"|
|To Splay and Display|
|She knows how it looks|
|"Or, just stick it in my crack."|
|"Masturbatory MasterCharge also accepted."|
|Right in the Puss|