In the days that followed we would often talk amongst ourselves about the dreadful mistake we made when we decided to carry torches to light our path. We were immediately seen, moving across the south lawn with our three illuminating flames, by the erstwhile Mr. Gonsalves.
"Who goes there?"
Before we could answer the pertinent question asked by Mr. Gonsalves, William Howard Taft spoke in our place. He was indeed the finest of the three spirits.
"I am the ghost of William Howard Taft. I have come to teach your master about the meaning of Christian charity."
"Well, that seems harmless enough. You may pass."
Mr. Gonsalves did not seem to even take note of the three living persons who accompanied the great and powerful William Howard Taft. It was possible that his size blocked us from the view of Mr. Gonsalves, but we were given to believe the reasons rested within Taft's ability to steal any stage he wished to steal. Having been one of our greatest presidents and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court had taught him much about charisma. He had it.
The locks of the house were no match for Taft! He passed through doors, giving him full access to every room in the house. Graciously, he unlocked many of these doors from the inside so that his trio of filthy earthly followers could continue to watch him work. This was a master of the trade of hauntings!
We found Lord Cabot Eulridge sitting on his splendid king-sized bed, counting money and absently chewing on the still warm toes of Tommy Tubuggles, which dangled tastily from his corded necklace. He looked up when he saw the ghost of William Howard Taft, but he did not appear to be moved by the presence of the spirit.
"Can I help you?"
"Are you Lord Cabot Eulridge?"
"That would be me."
"Come with me. I want to show you where you will be buried in the future."
"How long do I have to live?"
"About twenty years or so."
"Ah, very good. I won't live too long, but I will live long enough to enjoy my riches."
The ghost of William Howard Taft glided across the room like an elephant suspended from a crane. He leaned over the bed and looked anxiously at the many bits of currency that decorated the golden trimmed sheets of Lord Cabot Eulridge's bed.
"Unforgivable," muttered Taft's ghost menacingly before using a ghostly wind to blow all of Eulridge's money out the window.
"You think to frighten me by throwing my money out the window? There is plenty more where that came from, for the wealthy and industrious amongst us must feed on the bounty of our success and leave those upon which fortune does not shine to rot until they do not rise again. It is our birthright."
"Why is my picture on none of these bills? Alexander Hamilton wasn't even a president and he was shot by an asshole. That gets him the ten dollar bill?"
It took much time to settle the ghost down, but when we did, his rage was enough to convince us he would strike a chord of great fear in our adversary. A youth would soon receive a piece of silver, a turkey and a pine tree. We were sure of it.
The room began to get colder and the floor began to drop, as it often does in simulation rides in theme parks. A thick fog enveloped us, and when it was given to slowly breaking up, we came to realize we were no longer in the very nice bedchambers of Lord Cabot Eulridge. We were in a cemetery.
"Okay, where's my grave?" Eulridge asked, his eyes looking back and forth from his watch to Taft's expression of consternation. "Let's get it on."
William Howard Taft's ghost led us across the graveyard to where about a hundred mourners had gathered. Women, children and men of a robust age and muscularity were all crying as they bade farewell to a friend and leader. This was the funeral of Lord Cabot Eulridge, carried live on CNN and on the front page of every newspaper in the country and around the world.
"This is what will come, senator, if you do not change your ways."
"In twenty years I'll die and it will be a national day of mourning? Apparently things get even better over the next couple decades for yours truly."
"You will become president for two-terms, which fills me with much chagrin, since I was cheated out of my second term by that son of a bitch Teddy Roosevelt. You will pass legislation sending the poor to work camps in northern Alaska where they will be worked to death and beyond and the country will be filled only with good, efficient, industrious and noble people. For this you will be much loved and remembered by your peers."
"Doesn't sound like a bad deal. Thank you very much, ghostly former president."
"Would you mind giving a turkey, a piece of silver and a pine tree to a youth?"
"Is he the son of a prosperous family of class and position?"
"Doesn't matter. Just pick a kid at random."
"No problem, ghost. So, we're cool then?"
"As far as I can tell. You get on that, and have a very merry Christmas. These boys and myself are off to take care of some pressing business. We are going to kill Teddy Roosevelt."
"Isn't he already dead?"
"A matter of principle, my good senator. A matter of principle."
Our first deleted scene is from the first segment of the film, where Old Master Crocker addresses the assembled crowd of the disenfranchised. It was taken out in the final cut as the scene did not need to be so long and had more power in the version we went with. There was also a swordfight that seemed completely pointless. However, it did explain the flight of our heroes and why Old Master Crocker did not appear later in the film. At the same time it raises questions about the continued existence of Jonathan Oliver as a living character. Let's take a look:
"A person's fate is determined by natural selection and those of you who live in the streets do so because ye simply are not worthy of more. The time has come, filthy beggars, for people of class and capital to fulfill their destinies and for you to drown in yours."
"Thank you for making these remarks to us, govnuh."
"You give me a much queasy feeling in my stomach when you speak with such determined and enthusiastic sarcasm."
"I challenge you to a duel, Old Master Crocker. Give me a sword so that I may cut out your heart."
"Here is your sword, wretched vermin who lacks appropriate humility. We will fight until the death."
Swords were given to the participants and the crowd stepped away. Jonathan's hacking, brutal style was no match for Old Master Crocker, who had fenced at Yale University. Within minutes, our sweet Jonathan was lying in a pool of his own blood, humbled by the great and powerful Old Master Crocker.
Violence was once again a concern in our next deleted scene. In the original filming of Dwight D. Eisenhower's first appearance, he was joined by another ghost of notable historical importance. Let's watch:
"Where's MacArthur? I want to kick his ass." We were not well prepared for the moment at which Eisenhower's ghost decided to break the silence it had held for twenty minutes. He seemed edgy and angry. His eyes boiled and cut through us as if we were made of clear, non-reflecting glass. His hands were balled up into fists and if he did not get an answer to why he had been summoned within the next three minutes, he was going to kill all of us.
Another ghost, this one fading from darkness into light and back again, as if he was fighting against his own shadow world in order to seek ours, appeared alongside Eisenhower. The new ghost had his arms folded and would only uncross them when he temporarily removed the corncob pipe from his mouth.
"You rang?" grinned the ghost of Douglas MacArthur in the general direction of Eisenhower.
"I like Ike," whispered Jonathan quietly.
Much has been made of the fact that the scene where Franklin Pierce and our heroes enter the mansion of Lord Cabot Eulridge together was deleted from the final cut. The removal of this scene was highly controversial, but the director wanted to stay with the theme of the ghosts failing to do what was asked of them. The scene, while memorable for some, gives us a demonstration of what happens when you mix fire and water. Let's have a gander:
We skulked up to the mansion, slipping past a snoring Mr. Gonsalves before returning Stillman Overchop to his workshop in the greenhouse. Once we were clear of the gardener, we led Franklin Pierce into the house of Lord Cabot Eulridge with the intention of letting him go to town on the senator with ghostly intent.
"It is Christmas Eve, Lord Eulridge. Where is your merriment on this day?"
"I've authorized my cook to make Christmas pudding for all the workers, but not for the vagabonds who drain my resolve. This is more than enough."
"I'll say. Have a merry Christmas, senator."
"Thank you, Mr. President."
Jonathan stepped between Lord Cabot Eulridge and Franklin Pierce and demanded more from the summoned ghost. He was quickly and thoroughly rebuffed by the ghost of the former president, dressed down in front of his peers and given unto even greater suffering due to his protest.
"Now, if you are quite through with your annoying and childish prank, I will depart your most unpleasant company."
"That was pretty much a let down, huh?" Jonathan asked out loud after Franklin Pierce left us.
"I guess everything rides on Taft now."
The original cut extends the ending by about half an hour, which made the movie overbearing, considering people cannot smoke in movie theatres and we did not want to bank too much on the DVD release. So, here for the first time is the original final scene, which happens immediately after the ending used in the theatrical release. Some saw it as superfluous and disrepectful to the core of the story. Others saw it as more of a Hollywood ending. You be the judge!
We were not satisfied with the outcome of Taft's haunting of Lord Cabot Eulridge. We had seen no dramatic change in his feelings towards the unfortunate victims of the political and social machinations that brought him power, money and glory. Nothing had changed, aside from some wealthy kid getting a free turkey and a tree. Regardless of our feeling that Taft had failed to complete the contract, he argued vehemently that he had and whisked us away through the fog to a strange and foreign place.
We stood in an arena, surrounded by cheering spirits. Beneath our feet was a dirt floor covered with hay and stretching out around us. We were in a great circular field where games of sport could be played before an audience. Jonathan, Donald Fagen and myself did not know what to do. The walls around the arena floor were twenty feet high and greased with gooey lard. William Howard Taft was nowhere to be seen. Jonathan was about to raise his voice to question the assemblage when a gate behind us was raised.
We turned to face the grating sound of rusted metal scraping against rusted metal, not knowing what was soon to become of us. A single man stood behind the gate, grinning like a cheshire cat and stroking the sharp end of the pike he carried. It was Teddy Roosevelt, and there was ample evidence to show he had been biologically enhanced for battle.
"Pikes it shall be!" screamed the cheering throng of ghosts. A woman who identified herself as Mrs. Mildred Robinson stepped out from behind a curtain and presented the three of us impoverished waifs with our very own pikes for doing battle with. We passed on the message the old man had given us earlier. She took the message with a grand smile and wished us luck in the battle to come.
The ghost of Dwight D. Eisenhower rose up in the crowd, taking center stage with an announcement regarding the scene on the arena floor.
"My fellow spirits, thank you for coming today. In the center of the arena you will see three shiftless, lazy runts who have sought to take revenge on those who have done well through hard work and perseverance. They have sought to do this by summoning spirits and demanding that we do their bidding. No more! No more!"
The crowd chanted and banged the floor with their boots. "No more! No more! No more!"
Eisenhower cleared his throat and continued. "Tonight, at the request of our esteemed colleague, William Howard Taft, they will do battle against his ancient foe, Teddy Roosevelt. Three homeless pieces of absolute trash against the Rough Rider himself. Who will wager on the outcome?"
"I wager four quatros on the newcomers!"
"Six chickens on Roosevelt!"
"Let the games begin! I'll turn the microphone over now to our good friend and honorable associate, Mr. John Madden."
"Thank you, Ike. We have got a heck of a battle here today. These boys look a little worse for wear, but it is three against one and it reminds me of the time I was raking in my yard and I raked up a dead squirrel. Where did the dead squirrel come from? Wasn't there the day before. I don't know. On with the show!"
Music began playing as Teddy Roosevelt entered the arena, his pike held out in front of him. He cackled like a madman as he approached us, making clever jabs with the pike meant to frighten us rather than wound us. That would come later.
"Are you boys ready to dance?"
We quickly formed a circle, our backs to each other and our pikes out in front of us for defense. We moved as a unit, giving us eyes in every direction and no exposed flank for Teddy Roosevelt to attack. He continued to smile, thrusting playfully at us while the crowd chanted for more action.
"I have to kill one of you now to keep the fans happy," Roosevelt told us. "Nothing personal." With that, he lunged forward and drove his pike through Jonathan's body. With a satisfied cry, Roosevelt turned the pike sharply and Jonathan fell lifelessly to the floor with blood pouring out of his body's newest hole.
The crowd cheered. "One down, two to go," remarked John Madden. "Let's see if one of these boys has a little fight in him. They look scared. You can't win if you're scared."
"Trust me," Donald Fagen said as he broke towards Teddy Roosevelt. He held his pike in front of him like a shield and dared Roosevelt to come closer. Roosevelt did not take the bait, forcing Fagen to move in closer, at which point Roosevelt kicked his feet out from under him and drove the sharp end of his pike through good Fagen's neck.
"Trust you, my ass," I said long after Fagen's opportunity to hear the words was gone.
"Kneel, vagrant. Kneel before Teddy Roosevelt if you wish to be spared."
And so I did.
Interview: Michael Earl
(Actor: Donald Fagen)
A representative from the user group e2film was on hand to interview Michael Earl, who played the ghost summoning musician in the film. This exclusive interview was not aired anywhere at all, and so it is presented here for the first time anywhere. Enjoy!
e2film: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Mr. Earl. I know that you are a busy actor, so let's get down to business.
Michael Earl: That sounds fair.
e2film: What was it like working with TheDeadGuy on this project. Is he as difficult to work with as we've heard?
Earl: I think Keith is simply very serious about crafting a good story and so he asks a lot of everyone on the set. We had a very good group working on this project, and for this I am very thankful. It is not always this easy in the movie business.
e2film: Do you think he's an asshole?
Earl: That isn't a fair question. I cannot answer that. I'd like to continue working in this business, if you know what I mean.
e2film: Have you ever gotten a blowjob in a moving car?
Earl: Yes. It isn't as big of a deal as it sounds, and it can be very dangerous if he or she is any good at it.
e2film: How was it working with the other actors? I understand the actor who played Franklin Pierce's ghost was so into the role that he actually convinced many on the set that he was, in fact, Franklin Pierce, the former president.
Earl: That was creepy, but I pop a lot of pills while I'm on the set, so I kind of worked around it. That whole feeling that you are in the presence of a great man was overwhelming working with Tony Christian, who played Franklin Pierce's ghost. Very serious actor.
e2film: There were some moments when it seemed the film could go either way, to a rewarding conclusion or into oblivion. Did you worry about this, as a professional actor?
Earl: Keith, the director, had some very strong ideas about the film he wanted to make, and it turned out to be a very compelling argument against libertarianism. He's going to bring quite a few of them back to the realm of good, old-fashioned democratic socialism. This is a good thing.
e2film: How was it filming some of the outdoor scenes. At some points the cast look as if they are freezing to death on that tundra you filmed on. Also, where is this tundra?
Earl: Most of the film was shot in Manitoba, in various small villages and so forth. We had scouted some locations in North Dakota and Idaho, but there was some political pressure there to make a propaganda film and Keith wasn't getting into that. He is not some kind of Nazi.
e2film: Fair enough. Was the lack of any compelling female characters a problem for the male actors on the set?
Earl: On the second day of shooting, Keith came up to me and told me something I will never forget. He said, "Whether you believe me or not, you can create a bleaker landscape without women than you can with women." I'll take that knowledge to my grave.
e2film: Valuable words, indeed. What is your next film project?
Earl: I've spoken to a gentile who goes by the name "Jet-Poop" about making an appearance in a short film he's working on. This is the guy who really cut his teeth in the business with a film called Bag of Crushed Child that became a cult classic. I'm hoping to audition for a role with him soon.
e2film: Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Earl. We look forward to seeing you in your next role.
Earl: And if I may say so, I'd like to remind each and every person who watched this film to go out and do some good by someone who hasn't been as fortunate as they have been this holiday season. A little can go a long way. God bless us, everyone.
Start DVD from beginning
The lads consider summoning Bob Marley's ghost
The lads meet some soldiers and a pair of federal agents
Twist gets the axe/The tale of Young Mr. Clocksdale
Teddy Roosevelt has been biologically engineered for battle