Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Kathy Santoni: The Africa Adventure

(The long and short of it? This is one of the weirdest pop cultural connections I’ve made in my life.)

Those of you who also cling to memories of childhood television may remember Kathy Santoni as D.J. Tanner’s friend but sometimes rival on Full House. Kathy started out as a mentioned-but-unseen character in the style of Maris Crane from Frasier, but she eventually appeared on the show. This fact actually lost me a bet once in college, because these were the things we discussed in college and because I also completely forgot about the episode where D.J. starts going to junior high and realized that she is a stupid baby because she doesn’t wear make-up and doesn’t have yabbos like Kathy Santoni, who blossomed into womanhood over the summer break and now dresses like dancer from The Grind.

Here’s a photo if you, like me, need your memory jogged:

this is what reads as hot on abc family tv in 1989. feel weird about it.
Kathy appeared four more times after that first 1989 episode, and I don’t remember any of those either, but IMDb says that Anne Marie McEvoy played her in each appearance. Not that I need a reason to bring up Kathy Santoni, but she’s relevant as a result of something I blogged about a few days ago: the 1992 video game Ghost Lion, which features the amazingly, horrifyingly early-90s, Lisa Frankensteiny box art you see here:

Nintendo NES Ghost Lion box art
i will never get tired of posting this, btw
Ghost Lion, it turns out, has one more thing going for it aside from the tragic time capsule that is the box art. Someone on Tumblr pointed out that the game was based on a movie — a Japanese movie, in fact, that used Western actors but that was filmed in Egypt. I checked IMDb. Nothing. I did some rudimentary Googling. Nothing. Finally, at long last, I turned up a VHS cover.


The movie exists. Based on this page, either the title was Pyramid in the Distance: Legend of the White Lion or that is just a literal translation of the Japanese title. (In Japan, the video game Ghost Lion was titled Legend of the White Lion.) It doesn’t appear the movie was ever released in the U.S., even though it was filmed in English and featured American audience-friendly Anne Marie McEvoy in the lead role of Maria, the girl who ventures through Egypt on some search for her parents that may or may not involve a white lion. The movie doesn’t show up on her IMDb page, but nonetheless, yeah — the girl with lime green stretch pants and stripper hair on the box art of the video game is, kinda sorta, Anne Marie McEvoy, or at least a version of her, which means she has the unique honor of doing something that only major action film stars and professional athletes ever get a chance to do: play as herself in a video game. And that’s pretty good for an actress whose second-best role after Kathy Santoni on four episodes of Full House is a supporting turn in Children of the Corn.

kathy santoni again, in a sense — via
It just strikes me as peculiar that the film doesn’t show up on IMDb at all. The director, Mataichiro Yamamoto, doesn’t even have a directing credit on IMDb, although he is credited with producing some better-known stuff such as Lone Wolf and Cub and Azumi.

I don’t know why there’s so little information about the film online — or at least on the English internet. But even without anything further, I’m pretty stoked on this as being a means of making Kathy Santoni relevant, if just for a moment. Middling reviews of the video game Ghost Lion notwithstanding, I’d be curious to see how the game plays. I’d also be curious to know how Andrea Barber feels about Anne Marie McEvoy getting to be playable in a video game so long before Kimmie Gibbler made her eight-bit debut. Surely, some me-minded game programmer can make that happen, no?


Video games footnotes, previously:

19 comments:

  1. Nice article! This reminded me of another movie/game situation called Tasmania Story. The film was Japan-only but made in Australia. Yet for some reason we still got the video game for it here in the US: http://obscurevideogames.tumblr.com/post/53042357696/tasmania-story-pony-canyon-game-boy-1990

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    1. Whoa. That may be worth a follow-up post. How very, very odd.

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  2. In a later episode in the series, Kathy Santoni gets pregnant.

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    1. Again, I'd completely blocked that out. But I checked the Full House wiki -- which, of course, exists -- and you are correct. That is more "real" than I would have expected, given my memories of FUll House.

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  3. Hilarious! Thanks for continuing to bring such curiously bizarre details to our attention, Drew :)

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    1. It's my job, apparently.

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  4. Anonymous12:46 PM

    As weird as the girl on the box art looks, don't you think she's dressed a little like "sexy" Kathy Santoni in that screengrab?

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    1. They do look a little similar. How funny.

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  5. There doesn't seem to be much of anything on it in Japanese either. I only found 2 reviews on Yahoo's Japanese movie page. One person said that they watched it many times and enjoyed it, while the other person said that they didn't understand why the director made the film because it was terrible. Both agreed that most people probably do not remember that film.

    Also, I think that "Beyond the Pyramids" would be a better translation. It sounds more like a movie title to me.

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    1. I just can't wrap my head around the expense and effort that would have been needed for such an international movie shoot and to then have no trace of it today.

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  6. I can confirm what Godaigamer wrote: not much info in Japanese, "Beyond the Pyramids" is a better translation.

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  7. ピラミッドの彼方に - beyond the pyramid?
    ホワイト・ライオン伝説 - white lion legend?

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  8. I think I remember Ghost Lion getting a brief blurb in Nintendo Power, and the screenshot they gave looking a lot like Dragon Quest. I don't think I'd heard of it since then until you mentioned it on your blog.

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    1. I do not remember that, though I'm sure I got the Nintendo Power that would have featured it. But yeah, it's maybe not so surprising that you didn't hear about it between NP and now.

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  9. AnneMarie McEvoy10:39 AM

    I have a few more images from the movie from a box my mom dug out of the garage. And you might find it funny to know that Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) and I were just chatting earlier today. I can send them to you if you'd like.

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    1. Hi. I most certainly would be interested in the images from the movie. If you email me back at dmackie@kcet.org, I'd be happy to send you all necessary info.

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  10. I'm curious about actually seeing this movie. Is there a place where it could be obtained?

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