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Hugo, Strange
August 9, 2011 2:31 AM   Subscribe

Wherever you go, H u- g o- hip po- potamus

The nightmarish and psychedelic 1976 children's movie Hugo the Hippo features a score of hippos who save the port of Zanzibar from "cap-wearing sharks decked out with biker jewelry", only to be massacred by the Sultan's greenish advisor (voiced by Paul Lynde), leaving poor Hugo an orphan. The soundtrack [flash player] includes songs by Burl Ives (as the titular hungry hippo), Jimmy and Marie Osmond, and the Ken Williams Quartet. There is no official DVD release, but the Hugo fansite has some options for obtaining the movie, and it's available on Youtube [links above]. The story is based on a real Hugo the Hippo, who terrorized farmers near Dar es Salaam: "Game workers dug a 7-ft. pit along Hugo's dinner trail, lowered a big wooden crate into it, covered the top with branches, and baited it with three succulent pumpkins, Hugo's favorite dessert." Gyorgi Peluce, the color designer responsible for The Simpson's unique hues, is a Hugo alumnus from the Hungarian animation company PannóniaFilm. Previously on AskMe: 1, 2
posted by benzenedream (19 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
This film is a masterpiece.

Some of the storyboards were on display at a recent Graham Percy exhibition in the City Gallery here in Wellington, New Zealand. To see the sheer detail he put into every single scene is astonishing and humbling.
posted by mhjb at 3:56 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hooray for Hugos, both real and surreal!

But there is a white whale in the Rhine, you say? I must be off..
posted by Ahab at 4:51 AM on August 9, 2011


WHOA AWESOME
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:54 AM on August 9, 2011


This movie is how I learned to spell Hippopotamus. Still have that song in my head, but could not remember the movie at all. When I decided I wanted to show it to my son, it took forever to google, since all I had to go from was H-I-P-P-O-P-O-T-A-M-U, H-I-P-P-O-P-O-T-A-M-U, H-I-P-P-O-P-O-T-A-M-U-S. Which is not as searchable as you might think.

Then when I finally tracked down the video (this was about a year ago), it was only in Hungarian. So so much for that. So thanks for posting!
posted by Mchelly at 4:56 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now that I see this I remember it from when I was a child. I was 7 when it came out. Between this and eating all that lead paint it's no wonder I'm so weird.
posted by Melsky at 5:13 AM on August 9, 2011


I remember seeing this as a child. The only thing I remember is how fucking creepy it was (especially towards the end) and Hugo pillaging a potato(?) field. I guess I'll bookmark this and watch it again when I have time.
posted by daniel_charms at 5:28 AM on August 9, 2011


This was a children's movie?? This would have creeped me out and sent me fleeing as a child. I couldn't even watch Yellow Submarine until I was like 15.
posted by Palquito at 5:41 AM on August 9, 2011


You forgot the law that requires that you mention that the hippo, the most dangerous animal in all of Africa, is the most dangerous animal in all of Africa every time you mention its name.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:04 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I had the book long before I ever knew it was a movie. The pictures in the book were directly from the animated film, so they had a wonderful quality to them. Lingering memories: that Hippopotamus was the long way of saying "river horse," and that somewhere in the world is a place called "Dar Es Salaam"
posted by ShutterBun at 6:05 AM on August 9, 2011


Also, from watching the video, I noticed this for the first time. (I'm guessing it's a long-standing feature, but this was honestly the first time I noticed it.)
posted by ShutterBun at 6:09 AM on August 9, 2011


What relationship does this have to the "Hungry Hungry Hippos*" game?

*The most dangerous animals in all of Africa, or on your living room floor.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 6:11 AM on August 9, 2011


Great post. I was remembering this film just yesterday, and couldn't for the life of me recall what it was. The Mr. M'Bowwow song had gotten stuck in my head. I don't recall it being that creepy but the soundtrack sure stuck in my head as a child.
posted by Sternmeyer at 6:18 AM on August 9, 2011


Did I really just hear a little cartoon black boy shout "Lookit all those strange fruits!"?
posted by edheil at 6:45 AM on August 9, 2011


Oh - I remember this movie... it freaked me out as a little kid, badly. But I had put that memory in a wooden box, and buried it deep in the garden of my psyche. Yes - I thought it was put away safely... forever.

Thanks MeiFi - for undoing 30 years of repressed memory coping mechanisms.
posted by helmutdog at 8:01 AM on August 9, 2011


Oh - I remember this movie... it freaked me out as a little kid, badly.

Don't get me started on Rikki Tikki Tavi. That was weapons-grade nightmare fuel for me for a decade. (my parents famously refused to allow me to re-watch it at age 20, just in case)
posted by ShutterBun at 8:39 AM on August 9, 2011


You forgot the law that requires that you mention that the hippo, the most dangerous animal in all of Africa, is the most dangerous animal in all of Africa every time you mention its name.

And they're disgusting ...

Hippos defecate copious amounts into the rivers and ponds in which they wallow all day and also partake of a charming ritual described by hippo experts as "dung showering." They blow crap mixed with urine all over the place to humiliate their hippo rivals and inferiors and mark the territory around their watering hole, swishing their little tails to be sure to get plenty of coverage at nose level.

found in this article
posted by philip-random at 9:14 AM on August 9, 2011


Hippos defecate copious amounts into the rivers and ponds in which they wallow all day and also partake of a charming ritual described by hippo experts as "dung showering." They blow crap mixed with urine all over the place to humiliate their hippo rivals and inferiors and mark the territory around their watering hole, swishing their little tails to be sure to get plenty of coverage at nose level.
A bold hippopotamus was standing one day
On the banks of the cool Shalimar.
He gazed at the bottom as he peacefully lay
By the light of the evening star.

Away on the hilltop sat combing her hair,
A fair hippopotami maid.
This hippo po-TAM-mus
Was no ignoramus
He sang her this sweet serenade:

"Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me follow,
Down to the hollow,
And there let us wallow
In glo-o-o-o-rious mud!"
 
posted by Herodios at 10:09 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hippos defecate copious amounts into the rivers and ponds in which they wallow all day and also partake of a charming ritual described by hippo experts as "dung showering." They blow crap mixed with urine all over the place to humiliate their hippo rivals and inferiors and mark the territory around their watering hole, swishing their little tails to be sure to get plenty of coverage at nose level.

I have been a long time disciple of the "Dung Showering" technique. In many circles I am considered a 7th degree black belt in that particular discipline, but don't be fooled, it's the swishing of the little tail, that really makes us the most dangerous animals in all of Africa.
posted by HappyHippo at 11:41 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


True Fact: Hippos are the most dangerous vegetarians on earth after Hitler.

Yeah - I just godwinned a thread about Hugo the Hippo. Fear me!

I, too, saw this movie as a wee thing, and though I have seen it mentioned on-line, I have yet to revisit it, so thanks for the opportunity. As I recall, it was my favouritist ever movie ever ever until Star Wars came out and I forgot about it. The only thing I remember is a quasi psychedelic scene with swirling flowers and laughing children, and, of course, a hippo, so I'll be interested to see how that equates with reality.
posted by Sparx at 1:44 PM on August 9, 2011


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