Intern Review– A/V Geeks Presents: O Puppet Pioneers!

A/V Geeks at the Hunt Library

On Friday, August 28, I attended the A/V Geeks short film showing at the Hunt Library. The event was the joint effort of the Gregg Museum and NCSU Libraries. The event was being hosted at the common wall in Hunt Library. There’s amphitheater type seating with cushions facing a wall onto which the films were projected. Students were studying all around us, but the setup of the common wall still made the event seem secluded and private. Some students were in attendance at the showing, but the audience was mainly comprised of faculty or members of the community.

A/V Geeks is a company owned by Skip Elsheimer, who owns approximately 24,000 old films which he collects and restores. The main focus of this event was old puppet films in conjunction with the puppet display in the DH Hill library on main campus. We watched four films over the course of an hour, with some introduction by Skip and an afterward by Roger Manley. Skip would go over the basic information about the film: where it was from, background on the characters and their relative creep-factor (I saw the movie Chuckie a little too young, so puppets are forever creepy for me). Roger would tell the audience the history of puppets and give more in-depth details about the type of puppets that were in the films.


The first film was called Pirro, and it features a marionette with red and white clown makeup. Pirro was created as an educational video to help children learn about time. The second film was called Parents – Who Needs Them. The hand puppet in this film makes a little boy invisible to teach him a lesson about appreciating his parents. But the messages you can get from this film are a little strange. As a child watching this, you could possibly get the impression that ‘seen and not heard’ isn’t quite enough to appease your parents. At the end, when the puppet is talking to the boy about why he was turned visible again, the puppet says, “Remember when you didn’t bother your dad when he was busy?” I thought the line was funny, but a little sad at the same time.

The third movie was my favorite. It’s titled Ro-Revus Talks About Worms. It’s an educational video from the 1970s made to teach kids about hygiene. During that time, there was an epidemic of children getting intestinal worms which could cause malnutrition. So this video was funded by the government to help stop kids from getting parasites. Ro-Revus is a frog, and his voice is a prototype for Karl Childers in Sling Blade. His friend, Nutty, also has a Southern accent but it’s much higher in pitch. The voices of the puppets and how they phrased things (“Don’t use the out of doors for the bathroom” being an example) entertained me throughout the film. I actually found a link to this video on YouTube and sent it to my mom; her comment: “So weird.” An interesting part of the film was that it featured an integrated school, and kids of different races playing together outside of school.

The fourth film was Santa Claus’s Punch and Judy. Skip deems it the “most violent and most offensive” film in his collection. Punch and Judy shows are known to be from the United Kingdom, and violence is a defining characteristic of them. It’s very hard to understand Punch and Judy because they have high-pitched voices and speak really fast. Some of the kids in the film watching the Punch and Judy show really loved the whole thing while others looked a little uneasy about what was happening in the puppet show. This film would have been widely shown in schools across the country.

-Malinda Gowin, Anthropology Major, Senior
Gregg Museum Intern, Fall 2015


Photo Credit: Marian Fragola, NCSU Libraries

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