Herbert Buckingham Khaury was better known as Tiny Tim. To most of the general public, he’s been forgotten. But at one point, he was the hottest celebrity in the country.
He started his stage career under a series of names like Texarkana Tex, Judas K. Foxglove, Vernon Castle and Emmett Swink, growing out his hair and wearing pale face paint. His mother thought he was insane and nearly committed him Bellevue Hospital.
He persevered, becoming Larry Love, the Singing Canary at the also now forgotten Hubert’s Museum and Live Flea Circus in New York City’s Times Square. He was soon playing six nights a week throughout Greenwich Village as Darry Dover and finally settled on the stage name Sir Timothy Timms.
After an appearance in Jack Smith’s Normal Love and on the ultra hip show Laugh-In (by his third appearance he would arrive and depart surrounded by a procession of hangers-on), Tim began making appearances on The Tonight Show. On December 17, 1969, he married his first wife Miss Vicki on a set decorated with 10,000 tulips from Holland, with 40 million people as guests watching on television. This event was second to only the moon landing when it comes to TV ratings in the 1960’s.
So what was it that made the public fall in love with a strange man who sang old standards with a high falsetto while playing a ukelele? Maybe he just hit the pop conscious at the right time, seemingly aware and unaware of the joke.
The only movie that Tiny Tim ever starred in was 1987’s Blood Harvest. To say that this is an incredibly odd film should surprise no one.
Jill Robinson, returns to her peaceful hometown to discover her childhood home defaced, her parents missing and every single person hating her father, whose bank has foreclosed on all of their farms. Only one man — Marvelous Mervo the Clown (yes, Tiny Tim) — is happy to see her. Almost too happy.
Why is Mervo a clown all the time? Why does his clown suit have a plaid dress shirt as part of it? Why do people allow this to happen?
Mervo’s brother tries to win back Jennifer as everyone around her is killed in the barn, turned upside down and allowed to bleed out like animals. Who is the man with the stocking on his head, killing everyone? I mean, this movie starts out with a silly clown and ends up as brutal and demented as any giallo, including a scene where someone who we believe could be the hero gets fully naked and just stares at the final girl while she sleeps. There’s also way more nudity than you’d expect. And this is a slasher. So you expect plenty.
Unlike most slashers, this movie feels like real maniacs made it. It feels you’re a voyeur even watching it. And having Tiny Tim comment on the action by having scenes where he tearfully sings songs that seem to comment on the action only push this further into true art. Why is this movie not more celebrated? Where is the high end blu ray re-release?
Keep in mind that this isn’t post-modern goofiness or Troma look how silly this all is strangeness. This movie is the kind of strange that makes you wonder if people were really murdered as it was created. That’s high praise.
How did Tiny Tim get into this? Well, at a personal appearance at a beer carnival in Lincoln County, Wisconsin, he met local filmmaker Bill Rebane. Rebane had an idea for a film, wanted to know if Tim wanted to be in it and that’s how this got made.
Rebane was also responsible for films like Monster a Go-Go, The Giant Spider Invasion, The Alpha Incident and Demons of Ludlow. All of those films are strange and worth exploring, but they can’t hold a candle to the pure bonkers nature of this one.
Sadly, Tiny Tim would have a heart attack on stage while performing his most famous song, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” Today, people know it as the scary song from Insidious. But once, it meant so much more.
You can find Blood Harvest on Shudder. We included a second look at Blood Harvest as part of our weekly “Drive-In Friday” featurette with a “Musician Slashers Night.”
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