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:

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