There was this tendency in the early days of film that has resurfaced from time to time. It can best be viewed in 1940s monster flicks like the Wolf Man or Dracula. I'm not just talking about the campy, outdated caricaturizations of Jung's archetypal monsters and demons. I'm talking about Franchise Splicing Syndrome. This is that dreaded step the follows the moment when producers realize that one monster movie wasn't good enough, we needed a few sequels. Franchise Splicing Syndrome enters the room when someone says, "Wait a second, gang, sequels aren't enough either. We need the Wolf Man to cross paths with Frankenstein. We need Abbot and Costello to banter their way into Dracula's Castle and Lenore Aubert should try to transplant Lou Costello's brain into the hulking leviathan of Frankenstein's monster while under the bat mind control hypnosis of the Lord of Vampires."

Sounds ridiculous, right? Not so ridiculous that it didn't happen.

Franchise Splicing Syndrome has moved as spirit over the whole of American venture market capitalism. Campy notions like having the X-Men run across a panel in Spider-Man comics or even for Marvel and DC comics to blend their collective corporate powers in an amalgamated group hug that hoped to bring more followers into their coven.

Long story short, bad ideas reign supreme when the prospect of milking more cash out of any idea rears its incorporated head. Now we have this newest installment of the Indiana Jones franchise. Not only is this just another last ditch effort to get more cash out of an old idea, but I also see in it the early stages of Franchise Splicing Syndrome. Old Indy is now struggling through the Red Scare Years and the blacklisting horrors of McCarthyism while dealing with the flying saucer shock and awe of this new generation and the Roswell fiasco. The writers cleverly injected him into the New Mexico crash saying he was one of the guys on clean up crew and now the Russians are after the corpses hidden in some secret CIA bunker where they also happened to store the Ark of the Covenant. The entire premise of the film is a mad attempt at bringing outdated Indy into the Neo-Political hullabaloo of Roswell aliens and the upcoming blockbuster storm of the sequel to the X-Files movie. Nazis are out, Russians are in. Historical relics are so yesterday's's viewers want alien enigma.

Opinions here are running rampant, those still brave and naive enough to follow the Communist movement in America are groaning that this film paints their belief system in a bad light just as Orthodox Jews protested Mel Gibson's snuff film The Passion of the Christ said it made Jews look like haters. It won't be long before the Christians start to whine about the newest Jones adventure stating that it puts ideas like the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail in the same boat as Martian conspiracy theories and little green men. And it did, there's no denying that. All we can say to that is if you want to claim belief in something you can't practice revisionist history just to make it look good.

At any rate, in an attempt to splice monetary franchise powers, Indy has left the security of relics and artifacts to chase space monkey brains and UFOs. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" could just as easily have been titled "Indiana Jones meets E.T." Now, I can be open-minded. Every movie franchise with multiple installments waxes and wanes. The Star Trek flicks were formulaic at best, the basic pattern being crap, good, crap, good and on until the end. Jones was no different, Raiders was cool, the Lost Ark was weird and stupid, and with the addition of Sean Connery the Last Crusade really should have been the high note and the standing ovation before curtain call. It should have been the last act.

How can you top a quest following in the blood addled footsteps of the Crusades and the hopeful tragedy of the Arthur Legend where after Jones Sr. announces his discovery of Illumination our heroes ride off into the sunset? Forgive the run on sentence, ladies and gentleman, but the question stands nonetheless. In true showbiz sense you always want to end on a high note and the Last Crusade did just that. However, they opened up the book once more to offer us a shining example of mundane camp, outmoted humor and junk shots as the calamity escalates on a par with that ridiculous wheel fencing duel in the Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man's Chest. In my opinion, the story started up again and finished on a low note, if this franchise were a standup comedian this guy told one too many jokes and should have left while his audience was still wanting more.

But capitalism often means the celebration of greed and greed often blinds us to bad ideas. The fourth Jones movie followed the aforemention pattern, following a great picture it was as doomed and ultimately corny as the Temple of Doom. Our only hope, perhaps, is that one more movie might cleanse our pallets. We all know the moneychangers would cheer at that notion.

Franchise Splicing Syndrome has been around for the likes of Abbot and Costello and the old Universal Monster flicks, so who are we to start questioning the tradition now? Perhaps the next Jones installation could be "Indiana Jones and the Creature from the Black Lagoon," or "Indiana Jones meets Dracula"...why not "Indiana Jones Meets Dr. Phil?" With all the counseling his ex-lover and would-be son are going to need I'm sure that is where this story is headed. In the end, however, we're all fairly certain that it isn't aliens we see in Indy's future, we'll leave that to Mulder and, we're all afraid part five is going to have to be "Indiana Jones and the Shuffleboard of Shady Acres."