Sunday, November 21, 2010

more zombies than you can shake a stick at!

La Horde

In a world full of zombie movies and the increasingly awesome Walking Dead TV show, how does this French film stack up to the litany of living dead stories already available?

Well, pretty good.

A group of crooked cops break into an abandoned tenement building where, all they way upstairs, a group of Nigerian criminals are holed up. The cops move in to assassinate the criminals but fail, getting half of their crew killed and the rest captured. And just as the criminals are about to put the finishing touches on the survivors, the zombie apocalypse comes down. What follows is a series of frayed allegiances and betrayals and a whole bunch of blood.

La Horde is pretty much a zombie film stripped down to its very core: a group of survivors must fight their way free of an infested building to hopefully reach safety outside, even as the world around them falls apart. Every corner turned could be a death sentence and as they try desperately to stay alive, each step leads them into twisting passages of terror and, for some, death. There's nothing new here, nothing unique explored about the characters or the zombies, but it is a lean, mean, thrilling machine.

There are a couple of highlights that really stood out amidst the carnage: first off, the cop who gets surrounded by a horde (forgive me) of the living dead as he stands atop a car roof. He knows he's a dead man and yet he goes down fighting in the most spectacular way, first using his guns, then his machete, and finally his fists and feet. It's pretty awesome. And the second is one I don't want to spoil too much, but let's say it involves a giant machine gun and a corridor full of zombies.

If you like zombie flicks and want some good popcorn splatter, this is the movie for you. The last thirty minutes are nothing but pure terror and if that's your cup of tea, then pull up a chair and sit right down. You've just come home.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Today's line-up!

The Five Greatest Horror Films of All Time!

In descending order:

5. Rosemary's Baby
Disconcerting, paranoid, a world spiraling out of control. Every time I watch it, I see or hear something new. This movie unfolds like a horror onion, every layer smarter and sharper and pungent than the one before it. Until the final crescendo: "God is dead!"

4. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Terror distilled to its purest essence. Screaming, revving chainsaws, bugging out, constant fear and no balance or safe place to run to. There's nothing in this film to give you a second to catch your breath and say it's okay. Unrelenting.

3. The Thing
My God, a tidal wave of horror. Creatures taking over our bodies and then shaping them however they want. The enemy is within and we don't even know if we're infected with it until it's well-too late. Ultimate claustrophobia. And that head tearing itself off and then sprouting legs...

2. The Exorcist
Probably the scariest movie ever made. Normal life subverted from beyond. A nice girl twisted and torn by a demonic entity that not only affects her, but everything around her. A movie that asks a lot of tough questions and gives no comforting answers. It could happen to any of us, whether you believe or not.

1. Night of the Living Dead
Pure nihilism. The world is falling apart and mankind runs like panicked rabbits, eventually turning on each other. All the while, the mass of the living dead shuffle just outside your door, waiting to come in and dine on your innards. The only thing is, they decide eventually they're tired of waiting. They're coming, to make you one of them. "They're coming for you, Barbara." Indeed.

Happy Halloween!

dirty thirty 2: more demons


Finally settled down to watch this on Blu Ray. I will not even insult you with a synopsis of the story; if you haven't seen this film then you are no friend of mine. I viewed the extended cut, only the second time seeing this version, and fell in love with the movie all over again.

Here's what the Blu Ray does: it enhances everything, from the sound to the visuals and, most spectacularly, the colors. The possessed girl's eyes are the brightest green I've ever seen, and the goupy pea soup is nearly as brilliant.

I cannot say enough good about this movie, surely one of the top five horror films ever made. Get out and watch it again and experience all the chills and triumph that only the Exorcist can bring.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

dirty thirty: demons, thar be demons!


A remake. Hmm...

The original came out something like twenty years ago and was a pretty innocuous movie. It had some blood and boobs and sexy chicks in Halloween costumes and didn't amount to much other than a nice diversion. It was fun, and always fun to see again, but it certainly never set the world on fire.

And now we have a remake that's pretty much the same. These demons resurrect at a Halloween party and they need to possess seven folks in order to bring hell to earth. Several of the seven fall quick, leaving only three to try and survive until dawn, at which point, the demons will lose and everything will be over.

If you're looking for a movie with some blood, boobs and sexy chicks in Halloween costumes, then you've come to the right place. This remake is the same as the original, with some updated effects that help but also some modern filmmaking drawbacks that hurt. All in all, I'd say it's a push between this and the original. And if that's the case, might as well see the old one.

Besides, that one has Linnea Quigley in it. This one doesn't.

Friday, October 29, 2010

29, something fishy going on...



Wow! Awesome flick!

There's some trouble brewing in the waters just off Noyo, California. Trouble as in giant man-fish who are coming up out of the waters to kill the men and rape the women. These Humanoids were an outgrowth of some (typical) scientific meddling by some researchers wishing to speed up the growth of the local salmon population. Now that they've been unleashed, can anything stop them?

The last of my Roger Corman Friday Features, this is one of his best. The creatures look cool, the attacks are nice, lots of blood and gore, and a good script and actors all combine to make this movie a treat. This is exploitation horror at its finest, with lots of ripped bodies and ripped-off shirts! And watching it on Blu Ray, just wow. Good stuff. And keep your eye out for that twisted finale. The last twenty minutes is non-stop greatness!

As a side note, a young Rob Bottin did the creature designs and costumes. He would later go on to make history with his work on The Howling and The Thing. You can see here where he learned his chops.

Go out and get this. Now.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

28: Blaxploitation pt. 4: Scream!


Blacula is back, only this time, his opponent is the very fine Foxy Brown!

Spurned by his voodoo group, a man decides to resurrect Blacula to seek his revenge! And before you know it, eyebrows are growing, sideburns are popping and curving, and blood is in the air. The only thing is, Blacula didn't count on was such a formidable opponent as Foxy Brown herself, Pam Grier.

This sequel has always been my favorite of the two movies. It just gets into the whole Blacula deals with the modern times thing more than the first one. Hell, he even fights two pimps and kicks their asses after warning them away! Featuring more comedy, more horror, and lots of Afros, you can't go wrong with this thrilling throwback to yesterday. Let the fat ties rock!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

27: shining brightly


Finally! I've been trying to see this on the big screen for a couple years now, always missing whatever screening was planned. Not today. Today I blasted through the gym, did my writing, ran through the shower like it was a cheap car wash, and dashed off to the movies.

It was worth the wait.

I'm not going to bore you with a synopsis of the film. If you haven't seen it, you don't like movies. Period. Seeing it all big and bright and loud (that soundtrack was never more over-powering and amazing) brought out all the little tidbits I hadn't seen before and gave every performance more nuance. Shelley Duvall was incredible, Jack was awesome, and the kid playing Danny was exceptional. And those twins...Brrr...

If you ever get a chance to see this in a theater, do it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

26: xtroardinary!


Wow. What can I say? How to describe the indescribable? This is one unique movie, to say the least.

Tony and his Dad are out playing when they throw a stick in the air and the sky suddenly changes to night and a bright light appears, abducting Daddy. Some time later, Daddy returns via birth through a poor woman mouth-raped by an alien. And yes, you read that right just as you'll also read right that Daddy is reborn from this woman as a full-grown man. Daddy has plans for Tony, and they don't include bonding moments in the park!

Yep, it's XTRO, one of the weirdest, wildest, pure gonzo horror films ever made. Not a lot makes sense but who really cares? You're along for the ride, just to see what they're going to do next.

Rent or buy, immediately!

Monday, October 25, 2010



It turns out this experimental machine that uses ultrasonic radiation to destroy insects has another, unexpected side effect: It raises the dead! George and a lady named Edna are caught up in the middle of the rising, at first suspected of the murders themselves and soon becoming the only ones who can save the entire township of Manchester, England.

This is a great movie, very underrated, and one of the first to really exploit what Romero did with Night of the Living Dead. The zombies here seem fairly intelligent and work together, using tools and whatever it takes to kill and eat the living. There's plenty of red stuff and lots of action (the sequence in the basement of a cemetery is worth the watch alone).

Highly recommended!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

24 pt. 2: snap!


So, a nurse gets a new job working a night shift at a closing children's hospital in England. This woman gets close to the terminally ill children and soon discovers there's some dark goings-on in the closed-off second floor of the building. Turns out, something named Charlotte the "mechanical girl" is terrorizing the kids and snapping their bones as they are due to be transferred to the new hospital. Can the nurse discover the shocking secret of Charlotte before the worst happens?

Listen, I liked this movie. I liked it a lot. It had a terrific cast and great story and really creepy villain, but part of me was just fed up. I'm tired of these kinds of ghost stories, with the mystery to be solved and the really dramatic tension that comes along with it. I don't really know how to define what I mean except to say there's been a lot of these kinds of movies and, while they're all generally well done, they are getting a bit cliched.

Then I looked at the release date. Oh.

This film has finally come to DVD in the U.S. after being out for five years already around the world. And yes, it has had many imitators since it was initially released, so what seemed so cliche to me on first view turns out to be well-played. This film is in the first cycle of these kinds of movies, not in the latter. So bravo to it!

This is a heartfelt, decent movie with some chills and thrills (the finale is pretty damned good) and deserves a viewing by anyone who likes these types of movies. Just do yourself a favor and don't judge it like I did. Realize it was just a bit ahead of the pack.

24: I'm Stuffed!


A group of yokels in a small town decide they don't like the mentally challenged Bubba and decide they should get rid of him, once and for all, before he does something to harm the kids he hangs out with. Well, of course, one of the kids--a little girl who loves to play with Bubba--gets attacked by a dog. Bubba saves her and carries her to her mother. Unfortunately for Bubba, he's plenty freaked out and can't explain what's happened. Oh, and he's covered in her blood. Before you know it, the four yokels are on the hunt. They find Bubba hiding in plain sight behind his Momma's house disguised as a scarecrow. They shoot him dead, planting a pitchfork on his body and claiming he attacked them first. They go free and wouldn't you guess it? Somebody has been putting scarecrows in the yards of the four murderers and yes, they begin to die in mysterious ways. Is it the impassioned district attorney? Or Bubba's Momma, who promised an eye for an eye? Or the little girl who Bubba saved? Or, could Bubba have risen from the grave to seek his own vengeance?

This was a made for TV movie and it won't blow your socks off with originality or gore or even scares, really. It does, however, get kinda spooky at times and is never dull. The acting is great and so is the story, so it's a fun film. Well worth seeing if you're babysitting some kids and want to scare them!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

23: they have claws and tentacles...


Silver City Mines closed in 1912 due to a collapse where several miners were trapped. They did not make it out. Was it because of the cave-in, or because of...The Boogens!?!?!

Cut to modern day (in 1981) where a new mining outfit is coming to open the old mines and see what they got left in 'em. When they open a couple of the collapsed sections, they unleash The Boogens, small creatures who look a bit like turtles with lots of teeth, big black eyes, and yes, tentacles.

And that's pretty much the plot. Most of the movie is spent filling out the characters (only 2 people get killed in the first hour) and since they're interesting, I didn't mind one bit. In fact, this was kind of an old-fashioned horror film, with the point of view attack shots and the methodical pacing. It lets things build on their own so that the last half hour is pretty much people vs. The Boogens, and they don't air out their grievances in a court of law! Some good acting, a bit of the old red stuff, and a great dog make this well worth watching. Just don't expect it to be an action-packed thriller. It takes its time, as only a Boogens can...

Friday, October 22, 2010


The crew of the ship Quest is sent to look for survivors of a fellow ship on the planet Morganthus. What they discover is far worse than any alien lifeform out to kill them. What they discover is the key to fear itself...

This movie stars a whole slew of people from Sid Haig to Joanie from Happy Days to Robert Englund pre-Freddie. It also has some imaginative direction and awesome set designs. Surely meant as another in a long line of Alien rip-offs, this film turns out to have a soul and mind of its own. More a remake of Forbidden Planet than Alien, it is still as austere and cold as Ridley Scott's film. This film delivers the gore and the thrills any fan of the genre could want.

And, oh yeah, that maggot rape scene? Still one of the strangest things ever put on film.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

BlackJack! Blaxploitation pt. 3


"I curse you with my name! You shall be...Blacula!"

So says Dracula after he turns poor Prince Mamuwalde after the Prince travels to Transylvania to win the Count's support to end slavery. Dracula laughs, says some racist stuff, and puts the bite on the Prince. Centuries later, after being sealed in a coffin the whole time, the Prince wakes up in America, 1972, and goes hunting for blood!

There's not really a damn thing scary about this movie (although I will admit that a slow-motion vampire attack in the morgue did kind of unsettle me a bit) but there's a whole lot of fun to be had. Great dialogue, some good action, and a romantic subplot makes the whole deal worth watching. A true classic of its kind, Blacula is a must-see if you haven't already indulged.

Oh, and I dig those zany titles at the beginning. Awesome!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Now here is my nomination for the feel-good apocalyptic comedy of the year. Thrill to four people, caught in the middle of a pandemic killing folks left and right, on the road to a beach the two brothers in the group remember fondly from their childhood! Chill to the harrowing decisions the group have to make about picking up other survivors and what to do with those they run into who are infected, even amongst themselves! Quiver as they dance between life and death, infection and cleanliness, and morality and immorality! Laugh as, with each passing second, the tension gets ratcheted-up until you simply can't take it anymore!

Or, no. Actually, this is a pretty grim pic, with all the stuff I wrote above happening, but in a serious way. It's good. Sure, sometimes the characters do stupid stuff that grate on your nerves, but the suspense is worth it. The film doesn't cover any real new ground, but is so well done and acted that it doesn't matter. Here is a prime example of having good characters carry the show for you. It doesn't need to be flashy or distracting; you care about the people and that carries you through the whole thing.

Get it? Carries you?

Ha! Anyhow, well worth a look-see!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

9teen: Rawr!



Well, okay. First off, I read the book this is based on a long time ago when it came out. The book was great, written by some of my favorite authors, Mr. John Skipp and Craig Spector. Also, the screenplay was written by Mr. Spector, so it had a lot to live up to. First, a brief plot synopsis.

A burnt-out former football star living in a nowhere small town working a nowhere job gets approached one night by a hot vixen at the local bar. She goes home with him and they have crazy sex and, during this nutzoid bonking, she bites him. Uh, oh. Turns out she's kinda like a werewolf and she's passed on her infection to him (See what happens when you hook-up in small town bars with vixens!). She gets him all ready to skip town with her when her old lover/possessor/master shows up to reclaim his babe. Things get hairy after that.

I dunno what to say. I liked the movie. Once it got passed the first ten minutes it really settled in to its story. I liked the actors, I liked the gore, and I pretty much liked everything else. But...

I don't know if it's the fault of the director or the editor or if they were just trying to pad the running time, but there's an awful lot of slow motion walking and flashbacks to what we've already seen. Included in these are some cool, trippy visual effects, but all the shaking and weird editing kinda got on my nerves at times.

So I recommend this movie, but just don't get caught in some of the low-budget limitations. Because, sorry to say, an angry guy walking off in slow motion isn't dramatic, it's just funny.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm Eighteen!


So, read a bit about this film, got some favorable reviews, and I decided finally to check it out.

There's a shortcut through the woods next to the elementary school of a small town, a shortcut that's become an urban legend, where only kids on a dare would even think of traversing. One such kid does this and finds a dead dog and a mean old man who threatens him. The kid runs home and tells his older brother, who is offended by someone going after his brother. He teams up with some fellow high school classmates to find out what's going on with the shortcut. To tell you any more would be to ruin the story for you. Safe to say, they bite off more than they can chew.

The script was good, the acting was good, the directing was good, and the movie was good. It's PG-13, so don't expect any blood, but there's plenty of suspense and terror on hand. A good film for teenagers to watch. There's been a lot of talk about the ending and I won't go into it for fear of plot-spoiling, but I didn't mind it so much. It gets set up early on, if you're paying attention, so it's not out of left field.

Definitely worth a watch!

Oh, and here's a little bonus for you!

seventeen: kung fu vampires, sleeping beauties, and some popcorn


I saw this film when it came out in the theaters and remembered really liking it but coming away ultimately a bit empty. How would my second time viewing it turn out?

Well, pretty much the same!

A group of film students at a local college decide to put on a horror night at a run-down theater. They clean it up and set the props up because, you see (and this is the coolest part of the movie), they're going to show 3 old films the way they used to be shown, with all the gimmicks: 3-D, electro-shocks, and smell-o-vision. But, uh-oh, there's a killer on the loose, somebody with mysterious ties to one of the students. And as the festival goes off, this killer is stalking and murdering the film students one by one. Can the mystery be unraveled before all die?

So the movie within a movie stuff was truly extraordinary and worth watching the entire film for. But as the movie goes on, the stalking and killing gets a bit dull, so in the end, the film is really good and worth your time, but it's not a classic. Still, you gotta love those fake films and the nostalgia they stir up.


Whew! This is quite a movie. See if you can follow along:

An art school student goes to see his pal in a clinic that's a combination drug rehab/loony bin/sleep disorder study. He stumbled upon a hot girl suffering from Parasomnia, the Sleepy Beauty syndrome--she sleeps most of her life but wakes up now and then for moments at a time. The guy falls in love but too bad for him that the resident psycho chained-up in the room next door to the young lady is also in love with her. You see, this serial-killer mesmerist (stay with me here) is invading her dreams and seducing her to control her body so he can keep killing. This mesmerist is famous for an insta-stare that puts people under his control. The student kidnaps the girl to keep her from being experimented on by unsavory doctors and pretty soon, she starts killing those around him because she's being controlled by the killer from (formerly) next door. And it just gets weirder from there.

If you like high strangeness, then you'll be on board this little boat because this movie is truly great. Weird visuals, strange plot twists, a love story, some cute stuff, and lots of really bizarre imagery. Try it if you want to expand your horizons a bit and, a little advice: don't get caught up in the mechanics of this couldn't happen. Just enjoy the ride!



A Chinese mystic seeks Dracula's help by visiting him in Transylvania. Seems he's the servant to the 7 Golden Vampires, a group of vampires that have been holding a small Chinese village in sway for a long time but are losing their grip. They need some guidance and old Drac is happy to help. Too bad for him his arch nemesis, Dr. Van Helsing, is visiting China a little while later, and is called on by 7 brothers from the terrorized town to help them vanquish the evil.

First off, it was so disconcerting to see a Hammer film with Dracula in it not played by Christopher Lee. I was so ticked (even though I knew ahead of time he wasn't in it) I started the film in a bad mood. But then Peter Cushing showed up as Van Helsing and I immediately brightened up. And then the kung-fu fights started, and the undead rose, and before I knew it, I was having a grand old time.

It starts out kinda slow but picks up and has some thrilling fight sequences. And man, you just can't go wrong with kung-fu vampires, especially with Peter Cushing along for the ride!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

More Hammer Saturday


Of all the classic movie monsters, the mummy has always been, by far, my least favorite. They lumber, they're boring, and they're easily evaded. I do like the Karloff Mummy film by Universal, but again, it's nothing when put up against the Monster of Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolf Man.

Along came Hammer, remaking those classic creatures, and they actually made a mummy film I like. Christopher Lee plays the title character and, like his Dracula before this, has mastered the role. In fact, Lee is my favorite portrayer of all the classic monsters, except for Frankenstein's. That honor still belongs to Karloff.

As usual with these films, there's a cursed tomb and a resurrected mummy used to mete out vengeance. In the way of this creature is the mighty Peter Cushing, playing an archaeologist with a limp, and the undead desires of the mummy itself. Lee's mummy is powerful and strong, moving quick, able to subjugate its victims quickly and savagely.

While I don't think will play well at all to a modern audience (the middle of the film is quite slow) I do think it's worth your time, if you're into Hammer or any of the actors involved.

Friday triple play!

Sorry, got in late last night from watching these incredible three films at the lovely Castro Theater in SF, so I didn't post until today. Anyhow, they showed the following three films in this order and I'm not going to review them because, hey, if you ain't seen 'em, you really need to get a life. Three of the best horror films ever made. Rent 'em, enjoy them, and pray you live through them!




Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blaxploitation Thursday! pt. 2



Diana "Sugar" Hill's boyfriend gets murdered by a bunch of white thugs who fancy themselves a southern mafia. They the boyfriend's nightclub and when he refuses, they beat him to death. Sugar, filled with rage and lust for revenge, turns to Mama Maitresse (Momma from The Jeffersons TV show!), a local voodoo queen. She gets Sugar in touch with the spirit of Baron Samedi, lord of the dead. Before you know it, dead slaves rise from the dead to aide Sugar in her quest for vengeance.

Another great Blaxploitation horror film, with lots of tall afros, snappy dialogue, fat ties, and crazy 70's fashion. It's also got a fun script. There's a great moment where Sugar is about to feed one of the white criminals to a trough of pigs. "They haven't had any garbage to eat in a week," she says. The zombies toss the poor loser into the pen and as he's screaming for his life, Sugar says, "Hope they like white trash." Now, that's class!

A good flick, well worth renting and watching, especially if you have a hankering for some cool 70's action!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Jane (Edwige Fenech) is having nightmares of a blue-eyed stalker, coming to either kill her or drive her insane. Turns out, blue eyes belongs to a devil cult intent on initiating her and then killing her. Jane's mother used to belong to the same cult and long ago, she betrayed them, so now they want their revenge. What follows is a swirling, surreal, weird film, with a good number of hot women and strange set-pieces.

Colors is a slow movie and not recommended if you need to take a nap, unless you want to use it as a sleep aid. However, if you can get into its slow pace and dreamy imagery, you're going to find you like it quite a bit, like I do. It's not perfect and is too long, but well worth a watch. Plus, it stars the beautiful Fenech as Jane and I cannot emphasize how lovely she is to look at.

So, if you're a fan of strange seventies films, this one is right up your alley. If not, look elsewhere, intrepid viewer!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010




"I kick ass for the Lord!"

Before Rings were lorded, before Kong was kinged, before lovely bones danced, there was Peter Jackson and this tour de force of gore, horror, and comedy that put his name not only on the map. but splattered all over it.

If you haven't seen Dead-Alive then you truly have not lived. The story is your basic Sumatran Rat-Monkey bites overbearing mother who then gets zombified while her loving son courts a lovely Spanish lady that he has to toss aside to care for his zombie mother and those turned by her bite until one day, all hell breaks loose as a house party goes awry and it's wall to wall zombies!

The goriest film ever made? Maybe. Funny as hell? Oh, yeah. Wild and ambitious? You bet! It's Evil Dead 2 on steroids and when the hero has to literally mow down the zombies at the end, you know you've just watched a true classic.

Monday, October 11, 2010



You have to stop understanding what you're saying! Do you understand?

This intriguing little film posits us with the situation of our very language, the words we speak, becoming infected and turning us into a kind of zombie. A radio DJ in the small town of Pontypool in Canada uncovers this truth and, as the community falls apart around them, he and his cohorts, as well as a doctor who breaks in, have to try to put a stop to the infection.

A fun film that's as much a brain-twister as a terrifying suspense ride, I recommend this when you're in a particular mood, when you're ready to be challenged.

Try not to understand, okay?



I just finished reading the book for the second time and I have to say, Stephen King really brings the thunder! What a fantastic book. So I decided to revisit the original miniseries, as well.

I have a long history with this made for TV movie. I saw it when it came out, when I was ten years old, and it scared the living hell out of me. For a week afterwords, whenever I went to bed and closed my eyes, I saw the livid, evil face of the Master vampire, Barlow. And if you know what he looks like, you'll understand. Through the years, I've seen the film a dozen times and I never get tired of it. Now, 41 years old, I still find it effectively creepy and scary. Maybe it's just archaic memories or some kind of terror imprinting from when I was a child, but when those kid vampires are floating outside their victim's windows, scratching and begging to be let in, their eyes glowing and a fog swirling around them, it still gets me.

So, what's the film about? Uh, vampires. They invade the small town of Jerusalem's Lot, slowly eating their way through the populace. Only a writer and a boy stand between them and total victory.

Watch this film. Rent it, buy it, whatever. Directed by Tobe Hooper, starring some great actors, and full of scary goodness. It's a can't miss.


For those of you who don't know, the government was doing some sick shit in the New York City sewers in the late 70's and early 80's, and the results of all that radiation was the creation of creatures that began to prey on the surface dwellers. The government termed them C.H.U.D.--Cannibalistic, Humanoid, Underground, Dwellers--and they nearly destroyed the entire city of New York. If not for the intrepid action of the NYPD, a renegade photographer, and Daniel Stern when he ran a soup kitchen, we might all be dead right now.

Great monsters, great script, great acting, and a cheesiness that transcends silliness and catapults you right into awe. C.H.U.D. is a great movie, and if you've never seen it, you should get to it, pronto!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

number nine--some randomness


Hammer Films, having already delved into horror "re-makes" of most of the classic monsters, began to broaden their base as time went on, eventually coming to this classic movie featuring the walking dead.

There is trouble in the small village of Cornwall where the residents are all dying of a strange malady which has the local doctor perplexed. He calls in his old professor from the university and soon they both become embroiled in grave robbing and defying the local authority. It seems the rich owner of Cornwall's mine--shut down because it was too dangerous to keep open--has been killing the local and turning them, through voodoo rituals, into his zombie slaves.

There are some really good atmospheric moments in the film, not the least of which is the dream sequence where the dead rise from their graves. To this day, it is a chilling scene. Add to it some fine acting and an interesting script, and you have an offbeat and enjoyable classic film.

Just don't expect any gut-chomping. These ain't those kinds of zombies!



I watched this film last year and thoroughly enjoyed it and was happy to see that, upon my revisitation, I found it even more fun than before.

Two sisters bring their families together for holiday festivities out at the country home of the eldest sibling. One of the children is sick with something and, as the families enjoy each other's companies, he begins to act out more and get creepier by the moment. Eventually, all the children get sick, and whatever is affecting them has turned them into homicidal deviants.

This movie is a lot of fun, as well as being absolutely suspenseful and clever. The acting and script are great, as is the direction, and the editing is used to perfect effect in ratcheting up the tension with every passing moment.

I'm on the verge of calling this movie a modern classic, but I will hold off on such a declaration for now. Safe to say, if you enjoy terror, you will enjoy this movie.



Vincent Price stars in a magnificent film of ultimate revenge.

Edward Lionheart, an actor much derided by critics while he was alive, comes back from the grave (so they think) to enact his vengeance. Spouting Shakespeare at every turn, Price as Lionheart is fantastic as the wronged actor, meting out his own brand of peculiar justice as he offs each of the critics one by one.

It is a bit jarring to see Price walk around in this modern setting (for the 70's) after so many films set in the past, but it is this very thing which adds a layer of the surreal on the events in the film. To see Price stride around, quoting Shakespeare in the 1970's is a lot of fun, bringing his old-style acting into the modern world (much like the character he plays in the film).

This isn't your father's Vincent Price, but he still rocks!

Friday, October 8, 2010

eight is great!

Corman Fridays! Pt. 1


It's been called the "best goddamn rip-off of Alien" ever made and I wouldn't argue too much with that assessment. It's Alien, alright, with lots of nudity and blood and gore and some really corny dialogue. Which also means it's a whole bunch of fun.

Intergalactic mercenary Colby gets sent to a remote, desolate planet where scientists are working on solving a galaxy-wide food crisis. In their attempts to end said crisis, they create a mutation made of human cells and some other "scientific" gobblety-gook. Of course, what grows is deadly and hunts the humans down to create a little solving of its own food crisis. Can the merc and sexy scientists (the women drop their clothes at every available opportunity) kill the mutation and live to see another day?

What do you think?

The creature is a total knock-off of the Alien and the basic story is the same. But this film, like stated above, does what all best exploitation rip-offs do when they are clicking: blood, tits, and more blood.

Now, that's the way you make a movie!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Blaxploitation Thursday!


Thirty years before, gangster J.D. was caught at the scene of a murder and wrongly accused and killed on the spot by his associates. Thirty years later, J.D.'s spirit gains access to a young man (Ike) during a hypnotist's show in New Orleans. Now Ike (played by Glen Turman. a great actor) is fighting for control of his life as J.D. slowly takes control and begins his quest for revenge.

At first, you feel sympathy for J.D. and hope he gets those responsible, but as the film plays out, you realize just what a psychopath J.D. really was/is and what he's doing to Ike's life and those around him is reprehensible. In another nice turn, Lou Gossett, who plays the man believed to be behind J.D.'s death, becomes a sympathetic character who has turned to God to put his past sins behind him.

This film isn't bloody and isn't really scary, but damn, it's good. Turman is fantastic as Ike and his sudden turns of personality are not only believable, but chilling.

J.D.'s Revenge is a fun film with some fantastic dialogue and really good acting. I have to say, give it a whirl. You'll not only have a lot of fun, you'll miss how cool fashion used to be!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


A double feature at the beautiful Castro Theater in San Francisco featuring lots of repressed sexuality and men dressing as women:


Yep, the 50th anniversary of this all-time classic and I finally got to see it on the big screen. How did this impact my view of a film I already love? It made me like it in ways that are at first so obvious and yet new to me that I feel like a fool. The main thing the big screen brought out was Anthony Perkins' brilliant performance. I know that sounds odd, but seeing his face and body in larger-than-life proportions really demonstrated what a great job he did. He's charming as hell and off-putting to the point of charming, which is something I never got before. I understand even more how Janet Leigh's character got comfortable with him, even when he started acting a bit weird. The other major thing the big screen brought out was the power of the other major kill, of Mother charging Arbogast. It was shocking and violent and the blaring, shrieking mono soundtrack was deafening. Awesome. And seeing Mother's corpse at the end was another nice surprise.

So yeah, if you haven't seen this, you're a fool. Get to it, pronto!


Brian De Palma made this tribute to Psycho, taking the basics of the plot and adding a sheen of Euro-horror (if this film isn't just as much inspired by Argento as Hitchcock then I don't know what) and nearly soft-core porn. All the repressed sexuality of Psycho is flipped on its head and here, it's the freedom of sexuality that causes the violence to erupt.

This movie shocked a lot of people when it came out; after all, Police Woman herself, Angie Dickinson was naked in it (or was she? I think in the long shots, maybe, but the close-ups are a body double) and the violence was kind of new to most American audiences at the time.

There were a couple of sequences that made the audience I was watching it with erupt into enthusiastic applause and those were the attack in the subway and the finale in the doctor's office and the final dream sequence. And those people were right: they were brilliant.

Thing is, it was all giallo. Black-gloved killer, stylish stalking, seeing something in a mirror you're not sure it real, the flashing straight razor...All straight from the playbook. And done with aplomb.

De Palma caught a lot of crap over supposedly ripping off Hitchcock, but I'd call the movie a love letter to both Hitch himself and the Italians.

Catch it on DVD.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010



Kirk vs. the Tarantulas!

Spiders, in specific tarantulas, become more aggressive due to pesticide spraying in rural Arizona, and team up to try and take over the world! Okay, maybe not rule the world, but eat as much as they can. They start on cows and move to dogs and, pretty soon, it's human time! William Shatner plays a local veterinarian who is in the midst of the outbreak. He joins forces with a hottie scientist from the nearby university to take those eight-legged bastards down!

It takes a while to get going, but about 45 minutes in, the avalanche starts. This film plays as part-Jaws, part-70's disaster flick and it's a lot of fun throughout. Shatner does a great job of kicking ass without being corny and the spider attacks are pretty creepy/scary. If they remake this movie, it will be thousands of CGI spiders all hissing and howling as they attack. And that would be a shame, because seeing the real deal gives me the heebie-jeebies!

Rent it and enjoy!

Monday, October 4, 2010



Well, it doesn't get any better than this. I've seen the movie a bunch of times but was looking forward to finally seeing it on Blu-Ray and Hi-Def and man, does the film look sweet!

A priest hangs himself in the small town of Dunwich and this act breaks open the Gates of Hell! High weirdness ensues, with some gut-barfing, flying maggots, the old drill through the head bit, and lots of teleporting corpses who love to squeeze off the back of their victim's skulls. Add to it the incredible score by Fabio Frizzi and you have yourself a masterpiece.

One of my all-time favorites just looks and sounds better on Blu-Ray and thank God it was finally released in this format.

If you haven't seen this movie, do yourself a huge favor, and enjoy!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

day 3

Wicked Women Double Feature!


Magnum vs. the Witches!

The movie opens with a strange scene where a woman in a super-villain costume whips a half-naked Phillipina who is hanging in an awkward position over a series of jagged spikes. The super-villain demands the half-naked chick to recite the names of the seven lords of hell, or something like that. From this intro, you know you're in for a cheap, thrilling, absolutely ludicrous good time.

A young Tom Selleck (already sporting that mustache and teeming chest hair) plays an art appraiser who lives in Manila (!) and stumbles on a "terrible" painting that depicts three witches being burned at the stake. Of course, one of the witches resembles his wife and, before you can snap your fingers, the wifey starts acting weird, trying to kill old Tom at every opportunity. It turns out that Tom is the descendant of the man who originally put those witches to death and they come back, every generation, to murder the next descendant in Tom's bloodline. Will Tom Selleck survive all the attacks, including suffocation gas?

I'm not telling, but this film is full of great times and I really liked it, from the "special" effects (which mostly consists of shimmering screens and dissolves) right down to the acting and the script. When a native Phillipino calls Tom Selleck a "white monkey" and to get off his island, you know you've stumbled on gold.

Really, this is just a made for TV movie kind of flick with a couple of bare breasts thrown in to make it "edgy." If you want some good, dumb fun and get a peak at a young Magnum P.I., you could do no worse.


Yeah, I'm late to this game. First off, when this came out, I groaned and rolled my eyes. The last thing I wanted to see was another stupid killer kid/bad seed movie. But it was on and I said, ah, what the hell.

What the hell, indeed.

You know the deal: sad yuppie couple with two kids already but pining for a third that was lost due to miscarriage decides to adopt another kid who turns out to be stark-raving evil. Hi-jinks ensue, including imperiling both the other kids and some weird sexual tension between the dad and the new kid. And then comes the twist.

I can't say this was a bad movie, and good on them for making the film they wanted to. And yeah, there's some cool suspense moments, but mostly, I thought it was kind of lame and useless and then there was the twist in the end, which I won't spoil but you probably know anyway.

In the end, my reaction was the same as my initial feeling about the trailers for the movie: I groaned and rolled my eyes.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Day 2: Hammer Horror!

Turner Classic Movies is presenting four Hammer Horror films every Friday night during the month of October and, me being a lover of Hammer, I got pretty excited about the whole deal. Unfortunately, I work Friday nights, meaning my DVR is working overtime and I can't watch the films until Saturday. Well, so be it.

This Friday, they presented four Dracula movies, three of which feature Dracula as played by Christopher Lee, and the fourth which has Dracula's name in the title but no Dracula in sight. Strangely, that film, Brides of Dracula, is one of my favorite Hammer films.

First up, Horror of Dracula

This is the first in the series and the first Dracula film in color. This was the coming out party for Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing (who plays Van Helsing). They made Curse of Frankenstein before this and, although that film was the one that got Hammer rolling, this is the one, I think, where they really started hitting their stride.

Bram Stoker's tale is turned on its head and you figure that out within the first few moments. In this version, Harker does not journey to Dracula's castle to help him secure a land deal, but instead has arrived to destroy the vampire. This in only the first skewing of the original novel and Universal film, but it is the most surprising and really sets the stage. What follows is a quick-moving film with a ton of momentum, plenty of blood (in color!), and fantastic performances by Lee and Cushing.

Lee is a physical presence, standing and observing, bristling with barely-contained rage and power. His Count is not an austere gentleman, but instead a panther, prowling for his victims. Cushing is marvelous as Van Helsing, portraying the scientist as hero, both physical and mental, a throwback to the old pulp stories. The nice twist is Cushing is so small, and unimposing, thus presenting an interesting counterpart to the Count. When Cushing jumps onto the banquet table and leaps to rip the curtains down in a wild attempt to drench Dracula in daylight, you know you're in the presence of a master.

This film is the best of the series that actually features Dracula, the character. But it's a toss-up between this one and Brides as to which is my favorite of the series.

Brides of Dracula

Although Lee isn't in this film, nor is Dracula, you hardly miss either, and that's a credit to both the director and the story, but mostly to Cushing, who carries this film with his magnificent portrayal as Cushing.

Van Helsing comes in to deal with another vampire infestation and takes to it like a man born for the job. He strikes out, using a combination of science and religion and pure guts and gristle, to destroy the evil once and for all. My favorite sequence is after Cushing gets bitten by a vampire and the extraordinary lengths he goes to to rid himself of the vampiric infection.

Terrific movie.

Dracula, Prince of Darkness

Here, Lee returns to the role and he doesn't say one word in the entire film. Accounts conflict as to why this was so, with Lee stating the dialogue was atrocious so he refused to speak it, and Hammer saying this was always the design. Whatever the case is, we have a Dracula here who is more bestial, eyes brimming red with swollen blood vessels, intent on destroying all in his path.

Dracula is resurrected by the spilt blood from a slit throat of a man hung by his heels over the Count's ashes. If this isn't your first clue that this Dracula is more violent, then the ensuing madness surely tips you off.

It's funny, but I have no memories of seeing this film before. Somehow, it slipped past me so I actually watched this for the first time. I enjoyed it, with Lee kicking some ass and the fodder for his feasting adequately portrayed by a good supporting cast featuring Barbara Shelley.

It's not the best film in the series, but it's damned good and worth your while.

Dracula Has Risen From the Grave

Lee returns as Dracula and finds his castle has been exorcised by a Monsignor. Since he cannot go back home, he embarks on a quest of revenge, seeking to destroy the Holy Man's family and life.

This version of Dracula brings back some of the seduction of the vampire, with Lee mesmerizing the ladies while great zeal. He's also just as vicious and vile as in the other films.

The best part of this movie, besides Lee, is the great supporting cast and script and direction. I actually like this better than Prince of Darkness, which some may consider blasphemy, but it all comes down to the characters. I just like these folks more.

Definitely recommended!

One final note: In each film, Dracula surrounds himself with nubile concubines, all of whom he treats rather poorly at some point. It's almost as if Dracula is a pimp and he has to keep his ladies in line. It's a funny thought I had while watching, and thought I'd throw in, just for the hell of it.

Dracula, Prince of Darkness

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Marathon Begins!

Every year during the month of October, I endeavor to watch one horror film a day. Starting today, this will be the seventh year in a row in which I've done just this. It's an exciting and exhausting time for me and I hope to give you a little review of each movie watched after they happen. So, let's get started, eh?

The House of the Devil

I watched and reviewed this film last October and haven't visited it since. I loved it then and wondered if it would hold up on a repeat viewing and, since my pal Paul is going to be stuck watching some of these movies against his will since he's staying with me, I wanted to run it past him, too, to see if he liked it.

HOD is looking like it's going to be one of "those" movies for me. There are plenty of movies that I like but never really watch again but there are "those" that I return to, time after time. I call them classics. It's funny, but when I was younger and plowing through so many genre movies I'd never seen before, I found a lot of "those" movies but, as I've gotten older, I've found less and less of them. When I do, though, I get all excited, like back in the old days, when I first discovered something like Susperia.

So, is HOD one of "those" movies? It's getting there. I suppose I'll have to see it a few more times before I can make that statement, but I have to say, I really love this movie. It's atmospheric, it pulls no punches, and it tells a cool story in a retro-style that not only fits the subject, but I think enhances it. From the freeze-frames to the music to the zooms all the way to the carefully composed shots, if you're a fan of 70's and early 80's horror films, I can guarantee you'll love this movie.

If you haven't seen it yet, get to it. Now.

And yeah, Paul liked it, too.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Trolling Around

I've been gone a while, dealing with those old Summertime Blues. Lots of work, finishing up a zombie novel and editing the hell out of it, on top of a regular work week and being generally broke. But I'm back now, and my return comes at a great time. I revisited a couple of flicks I haven't seen since they came out, courtesy of Netflix and a little double-sided DVD of Troll and Troll 2.

Made back around 1985, this movie was kind of a rip-off of Gremlins in that it featured animatronic creatures, but really, that was the extent of it. What a bizarre movie, part kids flick, part horror film, and altogether awesomely weird. You've got a witch, a Troll, a talking mushroom, and lots and lots of actors you'd be surprised to see in this: Sonny Bono, Michael Moriarty (who's just plain awesome, like always), Julia Louise-Dreyfuss (Yep, Elaine from Seinfeld), and Gary Sandy (WKRP in Cincinatti).

Torok, an evil troll, has his eyes set on taking over our world, and he's going to do it one apartment at a time in a non-descript building in a non-descript town. Moriarty's family moves in and Torok possesses his daughter and then proceeds to change this world into the one he came from. Only the witch, his former lover, and Moriarty's son can stop the bad guy.

Filled with lots of cool puppets and strange story turns, this movie is a real winner, if you like weird movies. I don't know, I guess I have a soft spot for this sucker, and if you watch it, you won't blame me one bit. A great way to spend an hour and a half.

Oh, and did I mention Moriarty's character is named Harry Potter?

Considered by many to be the new best worst movie ever made, I have to say, it's pretty darned hilarious. The dialogue is stilted and the acting is even worse and before you're five minutes in, you're either rolling your eyes and turning it off, or smiling and laughing, happily along for the ride. You know which way I went.

A city family takes a vacation by swapping houses for the summer with a country family in the little town of Nilbog (spell it backwards)! I guess you can do things like that. Of course, the small town is full of goblins (that's right, nary a Troll to be found, despite the title--although the creatures kind of resemble Torok from the original) and it's up to the family's son, Joshua (whose name gets said aloud by other characters at least a dozen times a minute, it seems) to save them. Take, for instance, when the family first arrives at their new country digs to find food prepared by the goblins, food that will do bad things to them. Joshua must stop them from eating because he was warned by his dead Grandpa (oh, yeah!), so what does he do? Yes, the most appropriate thing: he pisses on the table and the food! God bless this little flick. There's lots more awfulness to be had, too much to point out (okay: one more--on the trip out to Nilbog, the mom, obviously out of her mind, insists Joshua sing a song, "the song I love so much." He then breaks into a rousing chorus of "Row, row, row your boat." Hell, yeah!).

A documentary has just come out directed by the child star of the movie and I'm going to have to see it. You can link to the trailer up above.

Let me just say: this is a must-see if you like bad movies so bad they're great.

And with that, I bid you sweet adieu, muchachos!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Last of Lost

It's over.

I came to the show out of curiosity, having read interesting things about its first two seasons, but by then it was too far into its run to even contemplate jumping on board. Then, a local Barnes and Noble had a Buy One Get One Free (of equal or lesser value) TV season DVD sale and I saw my chance. I got season one and season two and promptly let them sit on my floor for a few months as Season 3 proper started in real time.

One day, I opened season one up. I put it in the DVD player. And a whole new world opened up to me. Like Others, I was bit by the bug, the mystery digging deep under my skin. Here was a show right up my alley: exotic locale, interesting characters, a Smoke Monster, polar bears, mysterious Others, and the Island, oh, the Island itself. I was captivated and sucked in and burned through both seasons so quick it made my head spin. Then I got season three and that season finale blew my mind. I was in, and in good.

From there, I watched it play out, in real time, waiting anxiously when the show was off the air, wondering what was going to happen to these people I'd grown to love. Would more die, like Charlie? Would others disappear, like Walt? I had to know! And I held on, patiently, loving it all, every nanosecond, wishing it could last forever.

And then it came. The End. I knew it was coming but all this while, I couldn't believe it. Now it's over. And I sit here, feeling like my best friend just moved to another country and I will never see him again. I am bummed, tired, depressed, but mostly...I am satisfied.

What an ending! I think they really did what they should have done, which was concentrate on an emotional climax rather than some procedural, point-by-point dissecting of all the mysteries of the Island. How boring would that have been? Yes, this approach left a lot of questions unanswered and, given the resolution of the Sideways Universe, they even brought up more questions (like, how did Kate and the others live out the rest of their lives? Were they happy? What about Hugo and Ben on the Island? What kind of wacky adventures did they have?). But all of that was okay. Because what we got was:

Sun and Jin together, smiling and happy.

Charlie and Claire, together again, holding baby Aaron.

Juliette and Sawyer. Oh, my, God. How did I not fall to the floor weeping?

And Jack. Sweet, I-got-issues Jack. When he stumbled through the jungle, returning to the spot he first arrived on the Island, and Vincent ran up and laid down by his side, I lost it.

And then Jack's eye closed.

And it was over.

The show ended as it had begun and I sat, stunned, crying, and as happy as I've ever been watching a TV show.

So, thank you, creators of Lost. Thank you actors. Thank you directors and editors and writers and those who worked on the sets. Thank you for one hour, every week, where I could put this cold world behind me and get Lost in your world for a while, where polar bears and Smoke Monsters roamed, and people, flawed, messed-up people, could find each other and find redemption. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I look up now and my statue of Hurley from the golf game stares down at me as if to say, "Dude."

And I have to agree.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

No Sign of the Morning Coming...

Today, Ronnie James Dio died. Many are blogging about it and are saying words more poignant and meaningful than I ever will. I just wanted to mark his passing, to note he was more than just a mere singer in a heavy metal band. He was a good man. He did a lot of work for charities, most famously for the Hear N' Aid project in the eighties. He brought a lot of good will and smiles to millions of people, and somebody like that will always be missed. I love his music, with Rainbow, Sabbath, and his solo years. He was a tremendously talented individual with a quick wit and a smile for anyone.

You will be missed, Dio.

I read these lyrics from his song, Rainbow in the Dark, and they seem like the best way to sum it all up:

"I cry for magic - I feel it dancing in the light
But it was cold - I lost my hold
To the shadows of the night

"There's no sign of the morning coming
You've been left on your own
Like a Rainbow in the Dark"

We've all been left alone, now, in a world a little more dreary with Dio's passing.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Horror Trifecta!

In honor of the Kentucky Derby weekend, I present the horror movie marathon I had on Sunday in order of Show, Place, and Win!


Adapted from a Clive Barker short story and part of that whole After Dark Festival (where they release 8 new movies a year, 2 of which are usually pretty good and the rest...well, it depends on your tastes). I read the short story 22 years ago (I believe, and as I type that, I have never felt older) and hardly remember much except I liked it a lot and was looking forward to this movie. And the movie is good, if you're patient. Not a lot, horror-wise, happens the first hour. Stuff does, but it's mostly psychotic flashes and daydreams. But at the hour mark, the film gets very good, indeed. The story centers around 3 college students doing a thesis on Dread by interviewing fellow students and other volunteers about what scares them the most. Along the way, we learn about our 3 main characters and what their greatest fears are. And, of course, one of them is a psycho on the edge, ready to indulge in some real fear studies. If you're patient, you'll probably like this a lot. I just wish all the horror in the last 30 minutes had been expanded upon earlier in the movie. But I liked it, and you probably will, too.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
I dunno. I really did like this. It was a cool updating of the whole Freddy mythos that added some modern touches but really stuck with the tried and true. If you've seen the original then you pretty much know what's going to happen in this one. There's no major curve balls thrown at you and I liked that they returned Freddy to his earlier, darker incarnation. This Freddy is mean, for sure, and more than a bit sadistic. There's plenty of gore and some nice jumps so I do recommend seeing it. My only problem was with Jackie Earl Haley, and it wasn't because he wasn't any good (he was; he was great in the role) but because it wasn't Robert Englund in the role. It just didn't feel like Freddy, what with the different actor and different make-up. But that's my trip, not yours. Check it out. I really was pleased with what they did with this film.

The Human Centipede
Okay, this film has had a lot of buzz for its notoriety. I watched it on VOD last night and I have to say, it mostly lives up to the hype. The very idea at the core of the film is what's so disturbing and the movie does not let us down in showing all the permutations of this act. If you don't know the story, the basic version goes like this: 2 American girls on vacation in Germany have their car break down at the wrong place and time, ending up in the clutches of a mad doctor with a mad desire to create a human centipede by joining three people, ass to mouth. Yes, I mean surgery and sewing and shit eating. I won't tell you anymore except to say it's best not to be eating while watching. The film was really good and it pushed some boundaries of taste, which I always appreciate. The best thing, though, was the fact it was really, at its heart, a Mad Scientist Film. I haven't seen one as good or audacious as this since Re-Animator. Highly recommended, if you can stomach it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A 2.0 Complaint

Hey! DVD makers! Yeah, you! I know none of you read this blog or even know of its existence, but maybe somebody somewhere reads this and has a fifth cousin who works with a man who has an uncle that knows the postman who delivers mail to the neighbor of a sister who knows a person who is in charge of making DVDs.

Can you please do me a favor? It's a small one, and easy to do.

Can you please include a 2.0 option on your audio? It would be so nice of you. Not everyone can afford a blue-ray player, or a hi-def TV, or even more than the two goddamn speakers most televisions come with. So, when watching a film on DVD, it's kinda nice to be able to actually hear the movie, you know? And that's hard to do when your only option is 5.1 or worse.

Typical movie in 5.1, as watched by me:

Turn movie on.
People talk, dialogue exchanged in flick.
Turn TV up. Way up. Can still barely make out dialogue.
An explosion in the movie! Gunfire! Screams! Shouts!
Fumble for remote to turn TV down so as not to blow out small speakers.
People talk. Dialogue not heard. Turn TV back up. Way up. Reverse DVD to hear what was missed.
Explosion! Screams! Gunfire!
Turn TV down.
Apologize to neighbor, banging on the wall of the apartment.
Dialogue. Turn TV back up.

Does that sound like much fun to you? Well, it's not to me.

So please, please, put a 2.0 option on every DVD. Why it's not standard, I don't know. But it would be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kick Ass!


I read the comic and loved it and for some reason, there was no scepticism on my part in regards to the movie version, once I found out it was to be R rated. And I have to say, fresh from watching it, this movie truly lives up to its name.

The story is pretty ingenious in its simplicity: what if people decided to really put on costumes and become "super-heroes?" What follows is a sometimes realistic, sometimes fantastic accounting of a teenager who dons a mask and dubs himself "Kick Ass." He runs into trouble and gets his own rear kicked more than he's able to dish out, but he doesn't quit, always pressing forward. On his journey, he meets Big Daddy and Hit Girl, a father/daughter team dedicated to bringing down the resident bad man/mafia chief. The kid also discovers some things about himself and his own heroism, despite the odds and his own doubts and fears. He falls in love and grows up and this is as much a coming of age story as anything else.

Yes, it is ultraviolent, and God Bless it for being so. And its brave, in its own way, for staying true to the ruder elements because it is there that we discover the raw reality of the basic premise, and how utterly insane or naive a person would have to be to put on a costume and fight crime. None display this psychotic tendency more than the characters of Big Daddy and his daughter, Hit Girl. This movie accurately portrays just how crazy you have to become if you want to pursue this kind of vengeance by putting on a costume and training your daughter to not only kill, but to excel at it. It is this very point that has caused some controversy (see below), and some have found the idea of a 12 year old girl murdering people with both guns and foul language offensive. Well, I say it's real. If you had a father that raised you to kill, who shot bullets at your Kevlar-vested torso to teach you how to withstand being shot, and who never used a curse word himself, but was the ultimate milk-and-cookies father (using "gosh" and "goodness" all while killing and surrounded by guns--a nice satire on middle America, perhaps?), you might turn out kind of foul-mouthed and violent, too. The film displays this reality through brilliant set-pieces of stunning violence--all real and painful and bloody--and in the smaller moments of humor and pathos between the characters. It meshes the whole shebang into a nice, tidy ball of great storytelling, from the acting to the special effects. This movie truly does Kick Ass.

Some, like Roger Ebert, have railed against the movie, pretty much calling it morally reprehensible. To these people, I have but one response: It is R Rated. What more do you want? The movie ratings system, no matter where you fall on the scale of the validity of it, was designed by "morally upright" persons to protect children from "morally reprehensible" films that depicted violence and sex and hard language. It was to separate the dirty from the clean, thus the R rating and all the others. The problem is, this is never enough for some; they feel it's their duty to protect the rest of us--you know, people referred to as "adults"--from movies that may corrupt us, too. You guys have your ratings, they are doing what they are intended to, so why don't you leave the rest of us alone and allow us to Make Decisions For Ourselves. I don't need to be coddled or preached to. If I want to watch a 12 year old girl slaughter bad-guy mobsters all while spitting out a vile stream of profanity, well, that's my damn right. So let's make a deal, okay? I leave you alone, you leave me alone, and we'll all get along just fine.

See the movie. You'll love it, as long as you're not squeamish.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


My love for the TV show Supernatural is pretty well known to the 3 people I speak to on a daily basis, but seeing as how they just reached the 100th episode pinnacle, I thought I'd reach out and share a little of that love to whoever reads this.

I first watched Supernatural when it premiered, back on the old WB. I was leery about it, given the previews spotlighted the "hot" actors in the lead. I figured it would be another in a long line of watered-down, pretty-boy/pretty-girl/pretty-vacuous shows that the WB was famous for. But, since it was supposedly horror, I thought I'd give it a try. Imagine my surprise, then, when it was not only decent, but damned good. And, to my even bigger surprise, it featured classic rock, not the emo-crap the WB is famous for. The show, at its most basic level, is about a pair of brothers who hunt down evil supernatural entities and put them away for good. But things, like life, get much more complicated.

So I watched, and as the first season progressed, my affection for the show did, too. And then season 2, and then 3, and on and on until it became one of my favorite shows, even making it to my second highest spot on my DVR priorities list (Lost is #1). And now, in this season, season 5, supposedly the last, the show has reached heights I never imagined possible. I mean, the apocalypse, actually done right? Demons that are bastards and angels that are even worse? God deserting his creation? No hope for humanity, much less the brothers? And then this: when all hope was lost, when one brother was about to give up and give in and damn most of the planet to a fiery hell, he winked. And that smart-assed flicking of the middle finger to authority returned (a big theme in the show, so it quite naturally appeals to me), and a grin crept over my face as I pumped my fist in the air.

Good times!

So, if you get a chance, check it out. You don't need to start at the beginning, but it would be best if you did. You can get them on DVD or they're re-run on TNT every day of the week. If you like horror and rock and roll and sticking your tongue out at the Man, then you'll like it, pretty-boy actors or not.

Oh, and it's coming back for a Season 6, so the fun never ends!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thus...It Begins

Now the world will tremble in fear as I post musings on all things that cross my insane mind. There will be no limits here and no subject too silly or serious to attack. I will post things related to my writing, to my working, to my simple and stupid observations, as well as reviews of books and music and movies and the such.

Hold on. The ride may be bumpy, but hopefully, in the end, it will be worth it!