Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween: The Night Of Creeps, Wolfmen And Walking Dead

I slept like a rock last night, I think the weird sleep patterns finally caught up with me. I got up at a reasonable hour, but soon found myself back in bed, where the wife and I cuddled with the Yorkie for a bit, then fell back asleep for quite awhile. Once I finally roused myself, I wolfed down the leftover breakfast stuff that the wife had made whilst I slept, then started figuring out what I wanted to ride down the clock on October with for Halloween itself.

Screaming Like Banshees!I ended up going with a few old favorites and a few newer items that I wanted to re-visit. First up was Night Of The Creeps, which has been a fav since I started catching it on broadcast television way back in my youth. It's one of the very few films that I can forgive for naming pretty much every character after a famous horror director (a move that screams 'amateur hour' normally) and features Tom Atkins at his most bad-ass, growling his way through hilarious/corny lines like "The good news is your dates are here, the bad news is they're dead" right before he starts blasting fratboys in the skull. Such a fun film, something I hadn't seen in at least a year or so, I may yet have to replace the bootlegged DVD I own for a legit copy of it on Blu-ray.

Around this time one of the wife's Uncles turned up, evidently avoiding Grandmother (who he's currently staying with and being driven mad by during said visit) so he decided to get out and come over to our house, wandering up to the door carrying an open beer; always a good sign of things to come. Bark At The Moon.I said hello and after he basically said that he 'knows we enjoy our Sundays alone' but still came inside, I figured he was aware but didn't particularly care, so I let he and the wife shoot the shit while I popped in the recently purchased Wolfman Blu-ray to give it another look. Again, I find myself more interested in the style of the Gothic potboiler of it all than in the actual film itself, enjoying the visuals and the misty moor-filled vibe of things than I probably should. There's things to take issue with, but I have to admit, I even found the CGI forgivable, which generally isn't the case.

The Uncle split somewhere around the one hour mark of the film, which I finished up while the wife got some dinner started, then I spent a few moments making certain that the TiVo was set up for tonight's various recordings. The wife made some homemade chili (which she'd evidently made before, but I honestly couldn't recall how it turned out), so I was a little skeptical as I watched some of these ingredients going into the pot, including whole tomatoes and beans, neither of which I'd normally seek out for this dish. My misgivings were for naught, as a quick taste test proved that the dish was indeed delicious and we settled in with bowls and chips for a re-watch of a true classic.Worst Family Reunion Ever.

Halloween is pretty much the obvious choice for a film to watch on Halloween night, and we by God gave it another go. I figured the timing would be perfect as it'd be on while we had what I anticipated would be the big rush of any trick or treaters that we might get. This proved to be the case, and we were up and down for the duration of the film, joined for a time (again, against my will) by the Middle Sister's Husband and the Nephew, who are evidently developing the alarming habit of just turning up here each Halloween and staying for a good hour or more, which might be pushing it a bit much, as I can only make so much chit chat with this dude. Plus their kid was vaccinated with a phonograph needle or something and talks constantly. I honestly don't think he ever stops his ongoing monologue about anything that pops into his head, which I would have gotten the taste slapped out of my mouth for as a child, so I find this situation puzzling. I mean quite seriously, I was raised to not speak when my elders were talking, so to have a kid around that never stops is a bit of a head scratcher for me. I'd also file this under 'reasons we may not need children', because I'd put a shotgun in my mouth if this were the normal day to day that I had to deal with.

Give Me Something Good To Eat. Or Else.The next flick I popped in was Trick 'R Treat, ironic as the actual trick or treaters at our door had started to dwindle to nothing around this time. The film is such a fun watch, I'm happy to have another staple to add to the rotation each year. Plus, it's hard not to automatically love little Sam, the little burlap-sack dressed mascot from the posters and all the promotional material.

Things finally getting quiet around the house, we turned off the light out front, as we'd not had any kids in at least an hour by the time the film was over. The Yorkie refused to wind down, as Halloween and the constant stream of strangers to bark at must be like her Christmas each year. Stay Out Of The Cities!We watched the new Bored To Death just to allow The Walking Dead to start its recording off AMC, then stayed up past the wife's bedtime to see how well the comic series was adapted. The show captures the feeling of the comics really well, and though it's been some time since I originally read the trades, I feel like it's hitting the same points rather well. The zombies look good, the gore is surprisingly plentiful for a non-cable channel and the apocalyptic look of things is well-realized. I'm very excited to see how this plays out, I hope enough people are interested in this beyond the Halloween connection to keep it going as a weekly series, as it does become more about the human interactions and their coping abilities in this violent world once you establish the conditions under which they now live.

It's late, I'm out kids.

Be seeing you.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Psycho Saturday (Or: You Think YOUR Mom Is A Pain In The Ass?)

I'd been kicking around the idea of doing a marathon of the Psycho movies with the wife since the month began, so as we're getting down to the wire here I figured I better jump on it.

Worse Than A Prison Shower?I picked up some lunch, then we settled in for a re-watch of the original Hitchcock classic, a film that I know the wife likes a great deal I'd given it a look a few months back, but figured I could happily give it another go just to run through these in the proper order. The original film is always fun, though some of the bits involving Marion Crane's flight with the cash and her growing paranoia over anyone taking the slightest notice of her is fun to watch build slowly and surely as she makes her way to her boyfriend's town. Just a great film all the way around, I had to laugh as we first see Norman in the Mother drag near the climax of the film, he just scampers into the room with such an excited look on his face, it's priceless.

Aaaand Sequelitis begins!We got directly into the sequel, Psycho II off the To-Watch Pile courtesy of Big Lots not too long ago. Norman returns to the old stomping grounds a cured man, but amid complaints from Marion Crane's sister, who doesn't think he should be released as it's just a matter of time before he 'relapses' and starts knifing people again. Thrown into this are a series of notes that appear to be communications from dear old Mother, as well as phone calls indicating that she isn't quite done with her baby boy. The film is a little overlong for my tastes, clocking in just under 2 hours, which could be shaved down if you did some judicious trimmings here and there. The main goal is scored by the simple fact that the film sets things up for a sequel by the time credits roll, so you know there's more to come.

Plus Sex!
The wife made some dinner around this point, so I stepped into the computer room and responded to some e-mails and that sort of thing, then we sat down to eat some chicken spaghetti and see what Psycho III was all about. Directed by Anthony Perkins this time around, Norman has returned to business as usual at the old motel when a musician/drifter type (played by Jeff Fahey) turns up to man the desk during the day, as our owner enjoys working nights, don't ya know? Thrown into this mix we also find a disturbed young woman harboring secrets of her own, who Norman takes quite the shine to, as she reminds him of the one that got away (if you will), one Miss Marion Crane. The film is actually a pretty fun ride, loaded with some interesting use of color and lighting, odd, over the top sexuality from Fahey and a local bar-skank, and the promise of a sequel, because nothing ever ends.

One Hot MamaPsycho IV: The Beginning is both a sequel (in that we hook up with a married (!) Norman later in life) and a prequel (as he relates his past to a radio talk show host doing a show on matricide), sketching in the details of his life with Mother and how he became the twisted man we know and patiently wait for sequels from. Olivia Hussey play Mother, before she was preserved for all time in the basement, and it's amusing that she's got the British accent happening, as it's never been reflected in the way Norman indicates that she speaks, when he speaks for her, or holds on conversations with himself. The movie is directed by Mick Garris, who I have a checkered past with as far as me liking his material, which left me cringing when I saw his name in the credits. He has a workmanlike approach that just sorta grates on my at times, as a lot of the projects he tackles feel as though someone with more style could elevate them above what he generally achieves. Toss Henry Thomas into this as a young Norman and it starts to sound like things could end up dangerously close to blandsville, population: us, but the film held my interest better than I expected it to.

We called it a night shortly after this one, agreeing that the 3rd film is the best of the franchise, aside from the original, which quite obviously none of these films could ever touch.

I'm beat folks.

Be seeing you.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

The Rocky Horror Suspiria Brood

I slept late after staying up almost watching over the Yorkie last night - I seriously felt like I was just laying there reading a book as an excuse to make sure the poor dog was still alive overnight.

The Yorkie's vet visit gave her the okay to start eating normal food again, as he chalked her issue up to a random stomach spasm. This is both a relief and a frustration, as it can obviously happen at any time with no warning, but is ultimately not a serious issue. Whew? I guess?

Angry Bitches!As I said, I got up late and then dressed and went to pick up some lunch for the wife and I. We ate while watching David Cronenberg's The Brood, which I hadn't seen in a few years. The story of a woman who is in therapy and has begun to manifest her rage in a rather unsuspected way, it's a lot of fun and looks very, very 70's to me. Was everything in that decade a strange orange color? Jesus. The film holds up pretty well, with good performances from all involved and a nice amount of violence in front of children, scarring them for life, which is a nice touch.

The Middle Sister turned up toward the end of the film, and while she appeared relatively normal it was still annoying, as any interruption is going to be a pisser, as I wasn't expecting to spend the afternoon visiting with anyone. I by God finished the film, then spent some time picking up the kitchen and running the trash out to see if she'd maybe take a hint.

Witch!She did not, so I just popped in the next thing off the To-Watch Pile, for a re-watch of Dario Argento's Suspiria, which I hadn't seen in quite some time. The film holds up amazingly well, though I freely admit to being a 'style over substance' kinda guy, so the heavy use of colors and generally trippy environment is right up my alley. The film manages to have virtually each frame look like a painting as the colors and music build mood and suspense, it's quite possibly one of my favorite films, though if pressed I dunno if it'd come to mind just off the top of my head. I enjoy the overall mood and emotion that the film evokes, even if it may not pay off 100% on the plotting that it sets up.

The Middle Sister finally split and I was in the last moments of Suspiria when Brian arrived for dinner. I left he and the wife in the kitchen to visit while she worked on dinner, as I'd decided that I'd finally give Glee a day in court, since they'd decided to dry-hump one of my favorite movies for the Halloween holiday: Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Oh Rocky!Glee proved to be as middle of the road as I expected, based on the interweb reactions to the Rocky Horror material. I don't see me giving a shit about the main characters, and their versions of songs that I like were 'okay' to 'gawdfuckingawful', I'm looking at you, hefty black chick covering Sweet Transvestite. To get this taste out of my mouth I decided to pop in the real Rocky Horror, which it turned out that Brian had never seen, so I spent the evening watching his reactions to see if he was into it or simply bored. Either way it was a joy to hear the 'proper' versions of all my favorite songs, and I'd have to say that this film might actually end up in my top ten of all time as far as fav films goes, as it satisfies on every level each time I watch it.

Brian split after we watched The Soup, the wife spent some time in the bedroom talking to a friend on the phone and I flipped channels, enjoying a final cocktail and a few re-runs before starting in on this bullshit.

Be seeing you.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dorothy Mills' Gothic Descent Into The Triangle

The wife was off to the vet at the crack of dawn with the Yorkie, which left me kinda fretful, so I was up for good and got out of bed and made a pot of coffee to fortify me for the day. I spent some time dicking around online with a few things, then got a text from the wife saying that the dog would have to spend the day at the vet and we could check back in during the afternoon once they did an x-ray, as her stomach felt 'knotted'.

A Loop Is A Loop Is A Loop Is A LoopI decided to jump into the To-Watch Pile to take my mind off the poor dog, so I settled in with my coffee and Triangle, the film from Christopher Smith starring Melissa George as a woman whose day sailing turns dark when their boat is capsized in a storm and they are forced to board a derelict ocean liner, where things get stranger and stranger, accompanied by a growing sense of deja vu. I was really impressed with this one, it builds into a time loop story (this is indicated in the trailers I've seen, so that's no spoiler) and it's interesting to watch George's character try and figure out what is happening and what can be done to change it. The film fits together rather well, and I believe it would hold up to repeated viewings to confirm details of people's locations and that sort of thing. Good film, check it out.

This Is Why I'm Not OutdoorseyThe wife got home while I was re-watching The Descent, a film I'd not seen since I caught it in the theater. It's still as much fun on the re-watch, and I'll be damned if the reveal of the crawler creature in the video screen didn't make me jump just as much as it did on my first viewing, even knowing when it was coming. Great stuff, I love that the crawlers are so fast moving and seem to head butt people away from their prey, particularly in one scene where one of the girls is fighting to rescue a wounded comrade before they are dragged into the deeper caverns. Neil Marshall has yet to let me down, I even dug Doomsday in spite of it not being able to decide what it wanted to be. I have Centurion on the TiVo to check out once I get Halloween put to bed and a new review site set up, a process that is proceeding along, if any of you still care.

History Is CreepyI got a bit of a wild hair in the late afternoon and decided to check out Ken Russell's bizarro film Gothic, in which we see a wild (and presumably heavily fictionalized) weekend in which Bryon, Shelley, his wife to be Mary and her sister Claire run amuck in his mansions, consuming laudenaum and playing childish games before descending into sex and violence. There's a nice amount of craziness on display, and it's interesting to see bits and pieces that might hint at what is to come in the lives of those involved, as they decide to make up the most frightening story that they can think of in an effort to entertain themselves, which is meant to be the genesis of the Frankenstein that we all know and love today.

The wife picked up the Yorkie, who had been given an antibiotic and something to calm her stomach and was to be denied food for the evening. The x-ray revealed nothing beyond a 'narrow intestine', no blockage, nothing of that sort, so his remedy is to let the medication take overnight and then check up on her tomorrow to see if she's looking normal before she gets any more food. The poor dog didn't really eat yesterday either, so she was pretty whiny when she got home so we ended up letting her have a bit of a muscle relaxant that was left over from her neck issues, which at least calmed her down and kept her from being up and down crying for food all night. I know that sounds awful, but I swear we're not the type to give our baby whiskey to stop them from crying, and it kept her from spending the whole night focused on not eating.

Dye Your Hair, Ya Creepy Bitch!We watched a movie called Dorothy Mills in the evening, which is a Swap A DVD trade that I'd been curious about, as it is touted on the cover as being a contemporary take on The Exorcist. I was intrigued enough by the set up (a psychologist is called to a small island community to speak to a teenaged girl who allegedly strangled someone's child), but the early morning was getting the better of me and I have to admit to dozing for at least 15 minutes of this film in the middle or thereabouts, so I popped awake for the last 20 minutes. I enjoyed what I saw of this film and woudl give it another go at some stage, but I couldn't be bothered to go back and see what I missed this evening, the month has been too long. Someday. Like I said, I liked what I saw, but I wasn't so blown away that I needed to deal with it tonight. Had this been Triangle, I would definitely gone back, but this just didn't grab me as much on the first impression. One comment I would make is that something as simple as a bottle of hair color would've gone a long way towards making little Dorothy Mills look less crazy, as that weird white/blonde hair and pale complexion could only be creepier if her eyes were glowing red with demonic power and pouring blood or something. Just sayin'.

While on the subject of horror, I have a Twitter pal who made a little short film in the spirit of the season and inspired by Paranormal Activity. Give it a peep, or click through to YouTube and check it out there to leave some feedback.

We wrapped our evening with the usual NBC material, including catching up with last week's episode of The Office, which features a small storyline involving Timothy Olyphant as a rival salesman which was pretty amusing, as it's built around the idea that he's such a gorgeous specimen that no one can outsell him. Amusing stuff.

Be seeing you.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Dead Birds Draw Flies And Piranhas

The insomnia straight fucked me in the face last night and on into this morning, so it was 6:00 AM before I even got to sleep, effectively cocking up my day. I finally saw daylight around noon, petted the Yorkie, as she is always down for some attention when you're first waking up, then dressed and started getting some things together that I needed to mail.Kaw Kaw, Bang! Fuck, I'm Dead!

I ran my errands and picked up some lunch before heading home to tackle something else off the To-Watch Pile. I hadn't seen Dead Birds in a few years, but picked it up during some sale, I believe around last Halloween if I'm not mistaken. Set during the Civil War, the film follows a group of bank robbers to an eerie deserted plantation, where weird things begin to happen almost immediately, slowly building to reveal why the place is empty and what exactly went down there to taint the place so utterly. The visuals are creepy enough and the slow build makes for a nice payoff as the reveals are finally made, I'd recommend checking this one out should you get the chance.

BzzzzzThe wife joined me for a viewing of David Cronenberg's The Fly on Blu-ray, which is a movie that I honestly don't know if I'd ever seen in its entirety. Well, I finally took care of one element of my 'movie shame', which is having that one fairly well-known or even a classic film that virtually everyone has seen and you've somehow managed to miss. The film is a juicy and wold as anything made during Cronenberg's 'body-horror' cycle of films, and I enjoyed both Jeff Goldblum as well as Geena Davis quite a bit, though they both sported giant wild hairstyles that were at least slightly distracting at times.

We made some sandwiches for dinner and were getting into the Blu-ray of Joe Dante's Piranha (or Puh-rawn-ya as several people in the film kept saying - WTF?), which I hadn't seen since catching it censored on broadcast television. Bite My AssIt's a great flick that looks really good for its age and budget, plus I was surprised by who gets the short end of the piranha's in this, even some children get the old nibble, you never know who's going to buy the farm before the credits roll. Oh, and I'd like to note that the daffy bitch who goes looking for two missing kids and kicks the whole film off should learn to obey a few simply posted rules. First she sees a no trespassing sign and knocks the lock off the gate, then she casually drain a pool full of floating death fish just because she wants to see what's in the bottom. It's just a little ridiculous, if this bitch had less of a sense of entitlement and any regard for the rules in life no one in this film would have had to die beyond the first two teenagers. Just a thought.

The enjoyment of this one was interrupted by a few different elements, including the wife's family drama between the Middle Sister and her husband, a situation which appears to be coming to something of a head, showering the fall-out stress onto any and all who are willing to answer the phone to talk about it. The other thing that broke up our viewing was the poor Yorkie getting sick, a strange turn of events as she seemed fine all day, but then showed a marked decline in mood and energy over the course of the late afternoon into the evening. She finally got pukey, which went on for a good bit, then finally settled down again, though she still seemed rather lethargic, making small gagging noises when engaged in anything other than lying perfectly still, so we're going to see if she can sleep through the night and do the vet thing in the morning.

After the poor dog did her thing and after numerous phone calls comparing notes on the situation with the Middle Sister, we elected for some comedy to wrap the evening on something less than a depressing note. We watched last week's episodes of Community and 30 Rock, then called it a night, carrying the pup to the bedroom and trying to make her as comfortable as possible; she sighed heavily and lay down at the foot of the bed. Christ it's so frustrating not knowing what's wring with her, it seems like we get one thing nailed down (her diet for example), somehting else pops up to try and kill her. Bah.

Be seeing you.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Birthday Ring For My Deer (Woman) Friend

I slept rather well last night, finally catching up on the sleep I missed the night before. Go me. I also realize how fucked up it is to list my accomplishments of the day in relation to how much sleep I've managed to get. It's only this good of a helluva lot worse folks, so you may wanna sign off now.

I had lunch plans with EL, as well as his (our?) buddy DR, so I gathered a package that;d arrived at our house addressed to the previous tenants and headed out a little early to drop that off at their new house, which we just so happen to know the location of. I tossed it against their door and left, not caring if anyone was home, because they've had 3 years (YEARS, folks) to get all their address updated with anyone I could imagine that they are ever in touch with. I met the fellas for lunch, we bullshitted a bit and I spitballed a few ideas for the wife's Christmas with them, then we said our goodbyes and split. I ran a couple errands, then headed home where I helped the wife put up the groceries that she'd just arrived with and then I retired to the den to dig back into the To-Watch Pile.

Who Uses VHS Anymore, Even When This Film Was New?I settled in for Ringu 2, which I had someone online tell me was actually a step up from the previous (and now disavowed) sequel Rasen. It was indeed a step up, featuring the return of Hideo Nakata directing, but it again makes so many strides to make the storyline more intricate that in my opinion only drags this further into the realm of a mystery/thriller and away from the horror genre. I suppose that the idea of the girl in the well is something of a one-note concept, watch video, seven days, death, repeat as necessary, but honestly all of the efforts to try and rationalize out how the 'energy' is transmuted from a dead girl's rage into her ability to kill, or the idea that it is an actual virus (as in Rasen) distracts from what is spookier to me: A dead bitch coming to kill me because I saw a minute and a half of grainy murky video.

The wife had an evening meeting, so I saw her off to that, spent a few moments checking e-mail and some of the usual interweb shit, then popped in the final film in the set: Ringu 0 - Birthday, which is a prequel film set 30 years ahead of the events in the first film and gives us some background on Sadako and her life before she became the creepy dead thing at the bottom of a well. FYI, This Poster Image Is Kind Of A BIG FUCKING SPOILER For The Last Half Of The Film While most reviews I've glanced at seem to lean towards how interesting this turn of events makes the character, but I have to admit that again, I was a bit let down here. This to me is akin to Rob Zombie's demystification of the Michael Myer's character, turning him from an elemental force of evil into an abused kid who grows up to abuse others, surprising absolutely no one. The film's ending will come as no surprise to you, as it is a prequel, so you know that eventually it's gonna get bad for Sadako, no matter what she tries to do, good or bad.

I would say that I rate The Grudge/Ju-On series higher than I would these, as they are on the whole a bit more suspense and scare oriented while these felt like they wanted to work on more of a mythology arc for the events rather than try to scare the audience. I say this being a fairly well acclimated horror fan, so who knows, perhaps these might be edge of your seat nail biters for the more casual viewer.

My What Big...HOOVES You Have My Dear.The Masters Of Horror set is still mocking me, so I popped in Deer Woman, the John Landis installment in which a gorgeous American Indian woman is the cause of a series of deaths in which men are found apparently trampled to death, but can she really be an Indian legend made flesh? It's a very middle of the road episode, as the humor throughout is fun but by the time credits roll absolutely nothing has really been resolved, it's almost like he went off and made a full film, then was suddenly told "Oh, by the way, it's an hour program.' and they unceremoniously cut that fucker off at the 55 minute mark.

The wife brought home some food when she returned, so we enjoyed a late dinner and watched some television, including last week's Supernatural and Venture Brothers before calling it a night. I need to watch something truly interesting and fun over the next couple days, as my marathon is wearing on me of late and I want to watch something I truly enjoy, rather than something that feels simply 'okay'.

Be seeing you.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Sherlock's Chocolate Spiral Ring

The sinuses made their move last night, which was particularly frustrating considering that I went to bed a little earlier than usual, only to find myself sleeping a scant 5 hours of restless slumber broken from time to time by hacking and coughing.

I'd made plans to see Shioda again for lunch before he leaves tomorrow, so I was up to try and get the sleep out of my eyes before I picked him up. We were joined by a mutual friend JT, who happened to have the day off, so I made a quick pitstop to drop off the recycling, then we all headed to Odessa to poke around Big Lots to see what (if anything) was new. We had a nice leisurely lunch at Red Lobster on the way out of town, then headed home. Oh, and we also popped into Best Buy, as I'd noticed that something had finally gotten cheap enough to be worth buying from them, only to find out that the one copy of an ad title they supposedly had on hand was completely MIA, which is just another nail in the coffin as far as my interest in shopping a brick and mortar location goes. Seriously, our local Best Buy is the fucking worst.

Stay The Hell Out Of That Well!I dropped the fella back at their respective houses and headed home, where I got some bills paid and caught up a few things on the web before finally getting a late afternoon start on the To-Watch Pile. I broke out the Ringu Anthology, which is a collection of all four original Japanese Ring films, only one of which I'd seen before. Ringu I'd watched in the past, but after I'd seen the Gore Verbinski-directed re-make starring Naomi Watts, and I have to admit that I was more impressed with the re-make, which rarely happens. Having watched again, I would stand by this impression, as I felt that Verbinski's film builds more tension as it moves along, whereas this felt like we were literally waiting 7 days to see anything really interesting happen, which we spend playing sleuth and I try to fight off the yawns. Frustratingly, the film is interesting to an extent, but I just felt that the re-make took the best elements of this and sprinkled its own moments of tension or suspense throughout to make it the superior product.

Not The Right Cover, But I'm Not Scanning Shit This Late At Night...The wife and I watched the next film in the series, Rasen - The Spiral while we ate our dinner, and I have to sadly say that while I could at least watch the first film, this one had me fucking around with my phone more than I'd really care to admit, as it didn't hold my interest at all. I did a bit of reading online which tells me that this film has been basically disavowed as a sequel, so perhaps the next film in the series (directed again by original director Hideo Nakata) will be more of a bright spot in the franchise. Rasen involves a pathologist friend of one of the dead leads from the first film getting involved in the world of the cursed video, as well as the girlfriend of one of the leads (trying to be as vague as I can here, who knows if you've watched this) seeking answers about what happened to her lover. What I learned from this film is that basically every other person in Japan has some manner of supernatural or telepathic ability, as the girlfriend (like her lover) has the ability to read minds for no apparent reason other than plot convenience. Silliness. I'm hoping Ringu 2 will play out better than this one, or maybe give me a few jump-scares at the very least.

More Like Suck-olate.I decided to give another one of the Masters Of Horror installments a look, so we re-watched Mick Garris' episode Chocolate, which I freely admitted to the wife that I'd hated on the initial viewing. I must sadly report that this is still the case, and I don't know what the fuck Garris was thinking, after he puts this entire series together and then shits all over it with this terribly rambling and uninteresting story about a guy who suddenly finds himself experiencing life through the guise of a woman he's never met. This includes catching flashes of her moving through the city, masturbating in the shower and even getting vigorously dorked by some buff Asian guy, which was a scene that I personally could have gone my entire life without having to see. He eventually seeks her out because he's fallen in love with her, and chaos ensues. The whole thing felt less like horror and more like Garris had an idea for a Twilight Zone episode but missed the production era, so he added a few titties and dumped it into this like so much scooped poop. Pass.

Afoot And Whatnot!Our final film of the evening totally rebounded my viewing experiences, which made me rather happy and has me looking forward to the next installment. The BBC re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock premiered last night on PBS Masterpiece Mystery. The first film (this first series consists of three roughly 90 minute episodes) is directed by Paul McGuigan, whose work I've really enjoyed in the past with stuff like Wicker Park and Gangster No. 1. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson and I have to say I was fairly blown away by the visual style of the film as well as the snappy banter, particularly between Holmes and Watson. Holmes is a self described 'high functioning sociopath' whose delivery of his lines and working through his mysteries aloud seems almost like a workout at times, Cumberbatch (what a fucking name tho) just kills in this role, and I loved seeing Martin Freeman as less of an everyman and actually bristling with menace in a particular scene. Great stuff, I may end up dropping the bucks on this when it hits Blu-ray early next month.

I'm out kids.

Be seeing you.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bedlam In The Gothik Isle Of The Dead

I was up late last night, much later than I intended to be, sleeping in past when I imagined I'd begin my day today. Shaking off this frustration, I played with the Yorkie, who was happy to see me finally up and about, then dressed and went to pick us up something to eat for lunch.

I Hate The Dead Aisle At The Supermarket...We ate while watching something else off the To-Watch Pile, a selection from the Val Lewton boxset called Isle Of The Dead. Set in Greece during the war (circa 1912 or so), it sees a group of people quarantined on a small island to avoid a plague. As they begin to die, the superstitions of the old country come to the fore as they suspect that one among them could be something called a vorvolakas, which is apparently something similar to a vampire. Boris Karloff is interesting as the world weary General who begins to crack under the stress of the war he's been fighting and the tensions among the folks on the small cemetery island where he finds himself stuck.

Crazy Bastids! Age Of Reason, My Ass!The wife napped through the second film on the disc, which was another Karloff vehicle called Bedlam from the same director. This time around we get Karloff as a rather obsequious head of an asylum who spends most of his time kissing ass to anyone in a position of power and trying to do anything that he can to raise his own personal influence. He butts heads with an outwardly flinty but kind-hearted female and her would-be suitor, who happens to be a pacifistic Quaker. This makes it slightly frustrating as the Quaker won't raise a hand to Karloff, no matter what a giant asshole he continually proves himself to be. It wraps up as conveniently as you might expect, but it's a fun enough ride.

I'm Probably Alone In Liking This Turkey Though..I made myself a cocktail in an effort to perfect the 'Old Fashioned' experiment (plus I don't know how long these orange slices will keep & wanna use 'em up), then decided to continue the whole insane asylum theme with a re-watch of Gothika. I know, I know, the movie is mostly shit as a whole, but I really dig the stylish direction from Matthieu Kassovitz and the cast in general. Two of the biggest sticking points that this ghost yarn has would be the idea that Charles Dutton and Halle Berry are a happily-married loving sexy-time couple (what, was the corpse of Redd Foxx too busy for the Dutton role?) and that a successful psychiatrist could be accused of murder and then immediately incarcerated (into general population, mind you!) back into the very facility for the criminally insane that she'd worked not even a week earlier. Really? There's no other facility on the planet that might be able to help her, and maybe, oh, I dunno, be a little more impartial to her than the people she's worked alongside for God knows how long? These asinine bits aside, the film looks great and doesn't overstay its welcome, so I find it to be a decent little time-waster. Don't judge me, I'm just a whore for style over substance.

We spent the rest of the evening with some Fox animation re-runs, then moved over to the cable channels for some Bored To Death, Eastbound & Down and Dexter before calling it a night, saving the modern update of Sherlock Holmes, called simply Sherlock for tomorrow or the next day.

Be seeing you.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Bloody Book Of The Thing Is Chilled By The Homecoming Wind

I'd made plans to see my buddy Shioda for lunch this afternoon, so I got up and showered so as to be available for that at a reasonable time rather than at 2:00 in the afternoon. I picked him up at his mother's place, said hi & bye to her, then we ended up at the usual Thai place, spending a good hour and a half or so catching up about this and that, as it's been roughly a year since we'd last seen one another.

We made a side trip to allow me to pick up a few magazines to wrap up my monthly grocery list of useless shit, then I dropped him back at his place, making tentative plans to get together again before he splits early next week.

I picked up a coffee on the way home, as well as one for the wife just in case she wanted a little treat, then pointed the car in the direction of the house.

Wherever We're Open, We're Red.I spent the afternoon with some more stuff off the To-Watch Pile, starting off with Book Of Blood, something I'd happily grabbed back during the big Hollywood Video closing sales. The basic set-up for the original Books Of Blood collections, the original short story is about a young fraudulent medium who pretends to commune with the dead in a certain house, secreting in writing materials to create 'evidence' on the walls. He gets a big surprise when the dead actually turn up and aren't too pleased that he's been yanking them around. The film follows this fairly close (though it's been years since I've re-read the story), though I felt a few other tidbits were added in to maybe give the thing more of a larger feeling, as I recall the original story taking place solely in the house, whereas this spent some time building up to that. It's a decent watch, but nothing as wild or out there as say, Hellraiser was the first time around, but there are some decent special effects. Give it a peep.

Shortcuts Are For Suckers, AS ALWAYS!I moved on to a film called Wind Chill, which starred Emily Blunt as a college student who accepts a ride home from school at winter break from a guy who at first seems simply awkward, but soon begins to reveal that he may know much more about her than would be considered normal. This crisis gets back-burnered when they take a 'short-cut' that turns out to be through a creepy stretch of lonely road where weird shit has been happening dating back to the 50's. They soon find themselves up against both the elements and supernatural threats, so who cares who's stalking who, right? It's an okay watch (worth the $1 I believe I paid for it), though I dunno how often I might try to re-watch it.

I took a break to hit the liquor store for some Maker's Mark around this stage, as I had a little experiment planned for the evening. The recent Mad Men viewing had left me rather curious about the 'Old Fashioned' that Don Draper is perpetually drinking when he's not guzzling straight Scotch, and then lo and behold, I get an e-mail from the Maker's Mark folks which includes their recipe for the very same drink. I gathered my ingredients, including making a side trip to the damned grocery store for a fucking orange of all things. I bought some trash bags that we also needed, just so I didn't feel like a total asshole for buying a single orange, but I digress. The drink consists of 2 sugar cubes, 2 cherries, and an orange slice, which are muddled in the bottom of the glass, then you fill it with ice and add 1 and a half parts Maker's to 1 part club soda and stir. Tasty little beverage, though I started with a tsp. of sugar, so the cubed idea helps to nail down the flavor dramatically, as the 1st drink was a bit of an experiment all the way around. I have to notice that my general interest in alcohol is as much concerned with the preparation and ritual of the drink itself as the consumption. I mean, I had to make a special trip to the store for a fucking orange, for Christ's sake, I'd wager that says something fairly anal retentive about me. I obviously enjoy the whole ritual of dragging out all the various accoutrement that one needs to make a martini, it's an odd trend in my life, but I suppose this stuff being complicated also keeps me from doing it to excess, as it gets to be a pain in the ass if you do it more than say three times in an average night. But enough about me...

Stay The Hell Out Of Antarctica...I decided to continue the whole snow-swept thing for our last To-Watch Pile selection, so we popped in The Thing, which I hadn't seen in years and the wife had never seen at all. She seemed impressed enough with the special effects that still look great to this day, I spent the film threatening to grow out my hair and beard to Kurt Russell lengths, which she didn't seem scared by, which is at the same time charming (that she's so accepting of me) and scary (that I could really let myself go and she'd do nothing to prevent me from looking like a hobo), but it was mostly a hollow threat. Mostly. Who knows how freaky I may look on New Year's Eve, right?

War Is BadWe finished the film just shy of 10:00, so I decided to squeeze in another Masters Of Horror, this time around it was Joe Dante's anti-war screed Homecoming, which is about the dead soldiers from the Iraq war returning from the grave to make their voices heard on the eve of Bush's run for re-election. It doesn't really get into the neighborhood of any real horror, as it's more concerned with commenting on the whole WMD line of bullshit and our involvement in a war under false pretenses, with the men who died over it expressing their distaste. It builds to a nicely appropriate horror comic twist that makes me smile, so I'd say that I dig this one in spite of the fact that it isn't all that horror oriented, in spite of the presence of the walking dead.

I'm out kids.

Be seeing you.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Phantasm Phriday (Or: My Sir, What Nice Balls You Have)

I had decided that I wanted to try and squeeze in a marathon of Don Coscarelli's Phantasm films during this month, since I hadn't watched them in forever, and knew that there was at least one of them that I'd never seen at all. Being a something of a fucking nerd, I decided that it'd need to be a Friday, just so I could use a cheesy alliterative title for the post, so here we are.

BOOOY!Phantasm holds up really well, but it's definitely one of those films that you will either love or hate, as it is probably too dreamy and dependent on the viewer being willing to roll with some pretty odd twists, something which a lot of people may not be willing to play ball with. The set up of a sinister mortician and his Jawa-esque zombie dwarf minions is a lot of fun, filled with creepy, empty mausoleums and the signature of the series, the killer spheres that drill into the forehead of their unfortunate victims. Plus: Who wouldn't love to fight the undead alongside your middle-aged balding ice-cream salesman pal Reggie, right?

I did have to snap a pic of this image though, which takes place before things get too far gone, grave-robbing wise. Shoot Me In The Fucking Face.I would just say that I would probably lose my mind if shit like this happened on my neighbors doorstep every afternoon, because the thought of two dudes plunking away on acoustic AND electric guitars while drinking some cold beers might make me kill them and then myself. A good deal of this distaste might even be centered upon the hat, which makes me recoil simply because it looks as though he might've stolen it from a door to door salesman from the 30's and I can't understand how this slacker asshole somehow has access to a time machine.

Phantasm II
is the first film I originally watched in the series, though it was edited for television, as I recall our Fox affiliate re-running the hell out of it when I was around 13 or so. LeGros-ing Pains. Get It? Ah, Fuck You. It quickly became a favorite, out of repetition as well as enjoyment of the material, as it wasn't as linear as other horror fare I recall being exposed to at the time, displaying the multiple dream sequences that are something of a trademark of the series. This time around they replaced the younger brother with James LeGros, a move that I understand was forced on Coscarelli by the studios, but the film does add to the mythos, intimating that the Tall Man's grave robbing crusade has now spread from town to town, leaving nothing but abandoned buildings, boarded windows and empty cemeteries in his wake. This one also holds up well, but I think the nostalgia of it will always give it a soft spot in my heart.

Unsettling That Mike Looks A Bit Like Screech Here...I popped in the third film, Phantasm III: Lord Of The Dead, which I was under the impression I had seen at some point. As the film got rolling (with the now grown guy from the original film back in the role of Mike) it quickly became obvious to me that I had never seen this before, as absolutely nothing about it seemed familiar. It is amusing that they put Mike into a coma for a supposed two years only to have James LeGros turn into A. Michael Baldwin. Okay, so we never see LeGros in the film, but it's an amusing concept to me that they could put one guy down and get another one back. Back at the plot, we see Reggie pick up a new kid sidekick in one of these abandoned towns, see a few new weapons used by the Tall Man and suddenly see him utilizing actual zombies instead of the little Jawa-style dwarves, which is kinda weird and distracting to be perfectly honest. Oh, and we see Mike's brother transformed into a sphere that they can drag around with them like a mascot, gettting the occassional muffled word of advice from it.

Run Screech RunPhantasm IV: Oblivion begins immediately after the third film's events (actually, from what I recall most of these continue pretty directly from one to another), with Mike on the run and possibly turning into another incarnation of the Tall Man. This film is peppered with outtake footage from the first film, so as far as continuity goes it works fairly well, but I'd sure as hell hate to not have seen the proceeding films hours earlier, as it felt a bit too self involved, like a novice wouldn't have any idea what the hell was going on, which is a kind of a failing in a franchise like this. I mean, if you've heard of Jason, you 'get' a Friday The 13th film, but coming into this cold would just confuse the hell out of you.

On the whole I enjoyed the series, though between the muscle car, grave-robbing and pair of guys fighting otherworldy creatures, I was somewhat reminded of Supernatural numerous times, though I would venture to say that I think the Supernatural material actually holds up better than these films do, as they at least pay lip service to the idea that they take place in the 'real' world. These films feature entire towns being turned into little scrunchy Jawa-zombies to do the Tall Man's bidding, yet it's never hinted at that any sort of government might step in to see what the fuck is happening. I mean, I get that this might happen a few times, but if enough people stop answering the phone, or things stop getting done, someone is going to come looking for them, y'know? I guess on the other hand there is a certain charm to this being such a personal crusade for these guys, seeing everything through their eyes. Oh well, it was a fun way to spend the afternoon, I'll be curious to see if the last two sequels grow on me as much as the first two film did.

I'm out kids.

Be seeing you.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Your Eyes Will Be Eaten Alive In The Hills By Black Cats And Ravens

The wife was tied up with numerous projects for most of the day, so I was left to my own devices for the majority of the time. Beware!I ran a couple errands, then hit the couch to resume the whole To-Watch Pile project with something I've had around for quite some time now. That's actually been the most interesting part of this month, trying to finally track down the stuff that's been on the shelf gathering dust the longest and finally give it a day in court. With this in mind I grabbed a little set called The Bela Lugosi Collection, which features a smattering of the film he made at Universal that aren't Dracula, a small film that he made that you might be familiar with.

Meow.The first film was just over an hour and featured Lugosi pitted against Boris Karloff as the antagonist of The Black Cat, in which Lugosi travels to the Carpathian mountains seeking vengeance for wrongs done to him in the past and hoping to reunite with his wife and daughter. He ends up traveling with an American couple by coincidence on the train, only to have the wife get injured in a car accident immediately after leaving the station, so they all find themselves at the home of Karloff, which is a spiffy little set that exudes class and style. He has a series of corpses suspended in glass boxes in his basement, and that's just the beginning of the wackiness that builds to a decent little showdown between the two bug guns of the film. If you enjoy films of this era, this is definitely worth a look.

Nevermore Baby!The next item in this set was The Raven, again pairing Lugosi and Karloff, with Lugosi as a mad doctor obsessed with Poe. He becomes obsessed with a dancer who he is pressured to operate on, only to have her father and suitor become irritated that he shows an interest in her beyond his medical capacities. The film culminates with some nice nods to Poe's stories and casts poor Karloff as a criminal on the run that Lugosi turns to his own ends. It's a decent little flick, but I honestly think I might've enjoyed the other film just a little more than I did this one.

I took a break from the DVD player for a few, grabbed myself a little bite to eat and then shifted gears dramatically with my next selection. I've had a copy of The Hills Have Eyes on my shelf for what seems like forever, so I decided to give it another look at long last. Odd thing to note: I've watched what feels like a ton of Wes Craven's films this month. Shortcuts Are For Suckers.The story is familiar to most: City-folk looking for an inherited silver mine (which is most likely useless anyway) on their way to California run afoul of an inbred creepshow family living in the desert, a concept that spawned a sequel and then two more recent re-imagined films of the same name. This film brings up the same thing that Craven has addressed a few other times, in that he seems to love to point out that the 'civilized' people can be every but as blood-thirsty as the criminals or inbred hillbillies that they run across. Why this is significant to him, I have no idea. I don't know if he wants to paint them in a poor light because they (God forbid) eventually have enough and lash out as violently as they've gotten, but I've never seen it that way, if anything, this is the logical progression of the situation. Some awful fucking freakshow hurts you, you have to hurt them worse to ensure that they won't do it again, right? I was also caught by something I don't recall noticing on other viewings: The family is talking about their German Shepard barking at something, and then one of them asks "do you remember when he killed that lady's poodle?" and they all have a laugh, especially because Dad was so mad at having to pay for a dead poodle, and they laugh some more, which made me wonder what kind of assholes they are to have the loss of someone's pet be such a source of comedy for them? I woudl also be curious to know if this is meant to make them less sympathetic once the killing starts, because it certainly colored how I viewed them, but I couldn't be bothered to turn on the commentary track to see if they addressed it.

Croc Alarm!The final film of the evening kept in this same vein of viewing, Tobe Hooper's Eaten Alive, in which a series of people turn up at a crumbling hotel where Neville Brand, the unhinged owner spends his days mumbling to himself and feeding people to the crocodile that he keeps in the nearby swamp. Don't get excited about some hot croc action, as the beast in question is almost defiantly fake looking, and the sets look like a community theatre got a wild hair up their ass to put on a production of Psycho and amp it up to 11, but I'll be damned if I don't really enjoy this weird little film. It sports a young Robert Englund as a local redneck pain in the ass (coining the Kill Bill used line "My name's Buck and I'm rarin' to fuck") as well as a weirdly garish color palatte that reminded me for all the world of the old E.C. Comics, even down to the odd twist of a nut living in a swamp with a killer croc as company. It's a weird ass movie, but I honestly think it's worth a watch, just to see what strange thing will happen next, y'know?

I'm out kids.

Be seeing you.

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