Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Codename V is out of town
In which V. is out of town until Friday, and in the meantime presents some capsule reviews of the films she has seen whilst on holiday.

So yeah, I'm not at home right now. I'm typing this on a laptop, and I really hate laptops. But look: I have seen some films. I've had pretty either/or luck on this trip, really. The films I've seen have either been totally brilliantly awesome, or else they've reached new heights of suckiness. Let's begin.

1. The Ring Two
This American Remake of the Japanese film sucked far more than I expected. Okay, it's a remake of a foreign film - I am opposed to these on principle. If you want to see the Ring series, watch the frigging Japanese series. I don't care if you hate subtitles, or feel alienated by foreign cultures. Deal with it, lazy American. The cultural alienation is a substantial part of what makes Asian horror films so fucking creepy to begin with.

But I digress. This film blew. It's not even accurate to call it a remake, as the American sequel bore no resemblance to the Japanese sequel. With the remake of the first ring film, at least they made an effort (albeit weak) to keep the original plot intact. And this time they actually had Hideo Nakata (director of the original Japanese Ring) at the helm. Holy fuck, he's butchered his own movie. How sad is that.

The lesson I want you kids to learn today is this: watch foreign films. Avoid American versions of them. Why? Because Americans fuck shit up and turn awesome things lame.

2. The Time of the Wolf

In contrast, this is a prime example of a foreign film that sucked beyond belief. I'd been wanting to see this for quite a while and had really high hopes for it. The director made this other film, Funny Games, which was a completely amazing film that I liked a lot. I was intrigued by the premise of this film: a family is victimized in a brutal home invasion type crime just as some mysterious apocalyptic event causes civilization to crumble.

The problem is, this film is ALL premise. No plot. Stuff happens, but nothing really interesting. No explanations are forthcoming. We never find out WHAT happened. We don't know what peoples' motovations are. It's just... dull. Incredibly dull.

3. Haute Tension

OMFG. See this movie. Do not read reviews of this film. Do not let anyone attempt to tell you anything about this film. Just trust me when I say it's awesome, and don't go asking questions. It's one of those mindfuck plot twist movies, and the less you know about the twist, the more your mind will be fucked. Yes, there are plot holes. Yes, you have to kind of suspend disbelief. So what, just let go of reality and ride this one out. It's one of the more fascinating horror films I've seen in a while.

4. Oldboy
I promised my friend Badcandle a report on this one. And my report is: AWESOME. This one really merits a full post of its own, but I am growing weary of typing on this stupid laptop (and to be honest, I'm kind of itching to watch the Tom Waits episode of VH1 Storytellers). OMFG yet again. I lack words. See this film, and see High Tension, and don't let anyone tell you a damn thing about either of them. Oldboy has a few mindfuck plot twists of its own. I was left pretty speechless at the end of it.

Right then. I think my work here is done.
Friday, March 25, 2005
Random thoughts
Is it just me, or does Crazy Marathon Dude look a bit like Zoolander?

Those new Gap ads with Sarah Jessica Parker singing are coming close to driving me into a psychotic rage.

The last book I read was mediocre.

The last film I tried to watch was so horrible I couldn't get past the first half hour. This is rare. I have a pretty high tolerance for crap.

I had lunch today with a friend at some place called Italian Pie. I ordered a pizza with mushrooms and green peppers, but they brought me a calzone instead. The waitress had them bring me a pizza as well, without my ever having to say a word about it. I got to keep them both, and the whole thing only cost me seven dollars. Italian Pie is pretty sweet.

Ironically, I think I am getting bored with pizza.

Carolina Girls are in fact The Best In The World.

Spike TV is showing an all-day CSI marathon. What the hell am I still doing on the computer? Let's run it through AFIS...
Friday Baddie Blogging
This week's baddie is Big Brother.

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Doubleplus sinister.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Five things I totally heart this week
1. The Lyre of Orpheus
Anyone who spends any amount of quality time with me knows that I'm all about Nick Cave. The Lyre of Orpheus is part of a double album that was released last fall. I've been listening to it all morning, and it flipping ROCKS. In mere days, the eagerly anticipated B-Sides and Rarities disc will be available. In the interest of promoting good musical values, I feel that I must urge all of you to go out and buy it, and listen to it many, many times.

2. Scarlett Johansson
Miss Johansson is so pretty. I would like to be that pretty, but I'm stuck with kind of a Daria vibe (true story: I went to a Halloween party once dressed in my normal clothes, and everyone thought I was supposed to be Daria. How sad is that...). I digress. Scarlett Johansson. Pretty. And a very talented actress. She has way too much talent to be only... what, nineteen? Geez.

3. Good weather It's 72 degrees here today. Maybe even warmer, depending on how much faith you put in the weather channel. I like it. I'm wearing shorts in March. This is how life should be. Here in the south we skip right over Spring and start Summer early. This would pass as a heat wave in England, some things I just don't miss.

4. Forensic Files
This show is like real-life CSI. I watch a hell of a lot of CSI, and I watch a hell of a lot of Forensic Files. You can tell it's affecting my brain, because I incorporate phrases like "compromising the scene" and "let's run it through AFIS" into normal everyday conversation.

5. Atkins backlash
So they say this low-carb craze is losing steam. It's about frigging time. As a strict vegetarian, it's not exactly like I can jump on the all-steak-all-the-time bandwagon anyway. And carbs are tasty. Having a bit of cake isn't going to hurt anyone. Having several slices of cake every day, well that's another story. Geez, people. Just eat sensibly, treat yourself in moderation, and get off your lazy arses and do some exercise. Common sense.

Honorable mention goes to The Killers, who I still totally heart.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Let's get all serious for a minute
I'm going to say a few things about the Terri Schiavo case. I'm fairly hesitant to do this, because this is a frivolous entertainment blog, and I am not at all politically inclined, nor am I the sort of person to get all self-righteous about her own opinions and ethics.

But Eli blogged about this, and I was foolish enough to comment, and he and I had a weird discussion about it, and I feel the need to clarify some things.

This is the kind of social issue that polarizes people. Like the abortion debate, or gun control, or whether eating meat is ethical... there are strong opinions on both sides, and neither side is likely to ever win the other over. I try to avoid these kinds of arguments, because they're ultimately pointless. We believe as we do, and we are unswayable.

With that in mind, I just want to point out some general things.

1. The media is, as a general rule, biased. Reporters have agendas. They give you the facts that they want you to see. They quote things in the context that they want you to see them in. Anyone who forms an opinion of this case based solely on what they read in the media is perhaps a bit naive. In the interest of fairness, I present this link to a website run by Terri's family. I realize that these people also have an agenda, and that this is as much propaganda as what we see in the media. But, it's another side of things. And the wise person looks at both sides before drawing conclusions.

2. Doctors are not always right. We've made some huge leaps forward with medicine. We know a lot about illness and the body and the way things work. But, we're wrong a lot of the time as well. Yes, some neurologists have determined that Terri Schiavo is in a vegetative state. But some other neurologists have determined that she is not. Which ones do we believe? Should we perhaps admit that there's a lot that we simply don't know about the human brain and how it works?

3. I was in a coma once. It was brief, 16 or so hours, but there I was. And friends, I was aware of every minute. Just saying.

4. How do we define life? Where does life begin and end? Is it a matter of brain or a matter of body? Terri Schiavo breathes on her own. Her heart beats without assistance. Is she alive? Or is she dead, because she lacks the brain functions that you and I have? I know how I answer that question, but your own answer is up to you.

5. Here's something else Terri Schiavo can do: she can swallow. Based on everything I've read today, doctors have never questioned her ability to swallow. Another interesting tidbit: Michael Schiavo doesn't just want her feeding tube removed, he wants to prevent her being fed at all. Just saying.

6. Starving to death is a horrible way to go.

7. Losing someone you love is never easy.

8. Terri Schiavo is a person, not a cause.

9. A living will is a wise thing to do.

Just some things to think about. I'm not going to try and tell anyone how to feel about this. I'm not even going to really speak much about how I feel about it. I just think that more things should be taken into consideration here than many people maybe are thinking about. As I said, it all comes down to how you define life, where you draw that line. And once that line is drawn, how much do you value what's on either side of it? We're all humans. All of us on the same ride that's going to end in death sooner or later. Personally, I don't think I have the right to decide for anyone else when it's time to die. I don't think any of us does.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Man vs Nature: the Eternal Conflict
Last night I watched the CBS Sunday Movie, Spring Break Shark Attack. It managed to be both awesome and dumbass stupid at the same time. The acting and dialogue were about what one might expect from a made-for-TV film about sharks. This film had one thing going for it though, and that one thing was CARNAGE.

The film starts out with this wholesome, virginal girl Danielle. Her slutty friends are spending Spring Break in some posh Florida beach house, but Danielle's puritanical father won't let her go. She whines and moans, but her parents tell her that she'll have way more fun volunteering for Habitat for Humanity over the holiday. Pffft, yeah.

So Danielle shows up in Florida. Her slutty friends are hanging out with a couple of sleazy gigolo types. They proceed to say all manner of hipster cool things like "don't knock it until you try it!" and "what happens at spring break STAYS at spring break hahaha!".

Danielle's studious and responsible brother... errm... Charlie? I want to call him Charlie, but I honestly can't remember whether that's his name or not. Pretty sad, considering I watched this less than 24 hours ago. Anyway, we'll call him Charlie for narrative purposes. Charlie is a marine biology student, and he's doing his graduate thesis on sharks. Convenient! Turns out, the town sunk a whole bunch of crap offshore to create an artificial reef, in hopes of increasing fishing and tourism.

But Charlie knows that artificial reefs can attract sharks. Specifically, Tiger Sharks, which don't play by the same rules as regular sharks. Tiger Sharks have a super-short fuse, and will attack whatever the fuck moves and/or is covered in blood. Charlie thinks real hard about this and realizes that Tiger Sharks + Drunken Holiday Revelers = Recipe For Disaster. He raises a small stink about it, and everyone laughs him off.

Meanwhile there's this wholesome and virginal lad Shane. Shane and his mom run a boat company. Shane develops a crush on Danielle. Aww. Unfortunately, JT the sleazy gigolo pimp guy has his eye on her, too.

Furthermore, there is a dodgy man of undetermined origin (I think he's maybe Australian) who keeps renting a boat from Shane's mom and taking it out early. She is suspicious, but he keeps bribing her with Large Wads Of Cash (which upon closer inspection look to be about $40 in tens).

Suddenly, for no apparent reason... HOUSE PARTY!!!! WOOOO!

JT the sleazy gigolo puts roofies in Danielle's soda (wholesome Danielle never drinks alcohol). But before anything dastardly can happen, wholesome Shane arrives on the scene and very chivalrously Saves The Day. JT the sleazy gigolo is secretly fuming.

Also: some random girl on the dock gets dragged into the water by a shark. AWESOME!

A couple more things happen pretty rapidly, I'll summarize: Danielle accidentally phones her puritanical dad whilst all hopped up on roofies. Dad flies into a rage, and insists on going to Florida IMMEDIATELY to rescue his (legally adult) daughter from the perils of sin and debauchery. Personally, I think this Dad character is a reactionary jerk. In another scene, we find out that the dodgy possibly Australian man has been using his rented boat to spread chum around. OMG yo, he's luring the sharks in!! Apparently he has a nightclub further down the beach, and is trying to get this beach shut down.

Oh, I nearly forgot. The OTHER sleazy gigolo, whose name I never knew, snuck away from his girlfriend (one of Danielle's slutty friends) to make out with some Barbie looking girl. And they both got eaten by sharks. AWESOME!

So anyway, the day after the roofies incident, JT the sleazy gigolo rents one of Shane's boats for an overnight excursion. So it's JT, Danielle, Shane, and the two slutty friends. Danielle's dad shows up and shouts a lot, but they all go on the boat anyway. They get out to sea and decide to go for a swim. OMG!!! SHARKS!! Danielle almost doesn't make it back to the boat, but we know she's not gonna die because she's wholesome. Shane saves the day again, by throwing her a life preserver and telling her not to thrash about.

The sharks ram the boat and it starts to flood. Random peril and excitement. Conveniently there's an island about a half mile away, and they decide to try and make it there. They spend the night on the island and have all this drama wherein Danielle finds the roofies and JT tries to frame Shane but Danielle knows it was JT anyway, and Shane almost beats up JT but Danielle starts screaming "no! No!".

(Aside: why is it that in films, whenever two guys are fighting for the girl's honor, the girl always shouts "no! No!" and begs them to break it up? I'll be honest - if MY honor had been harmed, and a guy was beating the crap out of the dishonorable person, I'd be all for it. Yeah, kick his ass. Knock some teeth out, yo. But anyway. Moving on.)

Meanwhile, Studious Charlie is riding around in a small boat full of mangled plastic sea turtles. What could be responsible for this mangling? Conclusion: SHARKS!

The next day, they're all keen to get off the island. They run across the mangled torso of the missing other sleazy gigolo boy. He's covered in teeth marks and looks even more plastic than the sea turtles. Conclusion: SHARKS!

They make it back to shore. Charlie meets up with them and struggles to make sense of it all. Reports are made to the various authorities, but fall on deaf ears. Shane's mom confronts the dodgy possibly Australian man about the chum. It's on his head if anyone dies!! Mark my words!

Suddenly a whole assload of sharks storm spring break. They're eating people, spitting people back out, ramming floats, eating more people. OMG it's mayhem. Pure total mayhem, and it's hilarious and violent and very entertaining. JT the sleazy gigolo gets eaten, but come on. We saw that coming a long way off, didn't we?

Danielle and Charlie and Shane decide to take matters into their own hands. They hook up Charlie's science boat with a load of chum, and try to lure the sharks out to sea. Question: why would the sharks follow a boatload of chum, when they have live, thrashing, bleeding prey already at their disposal? I dunno, but it seems to work. The sharks follow them out to sea. They eat the chum, and then they try to eat the boat. It's an epic battle that I would like to compare to The Old Man and the Sea, except I was bored senseless by that one in school and got the cliffs notes.

Shane is accidentally harpooned in the arm for no reason other than mild suspense.

Their only means of survival seems to involve using Charlie's Scientific Experimental Sea Pods. I don't know what the hell they are or what the hell they do, but they drop them in the water. Charlie says something about them being like Christmas lights (WTF?!). Danielle has to put on a scuba suit and for reasons unknown and not clearly explained in the film, go down into the ocean and fiddle with one of them.

The Scientific Experimental Sea Pods work. I guess. They make the sharks go away, somehow. Everyone makes it back to shore. Danielle's fascist dad forgives everyone and is So Proud Of You Guys, So Very Proud. Also: the dodgy possibly Australian man is completely overcome by guilt, and is surveying all the carnage saying "it wasn't supposed to be like this... not this way..."

This film was, if anything, even dumber than anticipated. I thought it was brilliant, we all need a bit of mindless crap on television every now and then.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Insert clever title here
Life presents us with many difficult questions. Where do we go when we die? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do they keep making Brittany Murphy films?

Today I watched Uptown Girls because (a) it was on cable, (b) I had nothing else to do, and (c) I am apparently either a dumbass, a masochist, or more likely both.

I won't take away any of the precious, precious moments of your lives by forcing you to read a play-by-play of the tedium that masquerades as the plot of this film. Instead, cast your memories back to Ye Early 90s, when some crap band called Blind Melon thrust upon the world their ghastly video plague, "No Rain".

Imagine that "No Rain" were a feature-length film. Now, imagine that the Bee Girl is Dakota Fanning, and that she is accompanied by an emaciated cokehead. Throw in some slapstick comedy (specifically, the emaciated cokehead takes numerous pratfalls and gets hit in the head a lot), an Evil Heather Locklear, and a smattering of shallow, one-dimensional supporting characters.

That sums up the film pretty well, I think. In the end, all of the characters Grow As People and Learn Valuable Lessons. And I do mean all of them. Even the ones who only had about five minutes of screen time shed their bitchy skins at the end and emerge as Wonderful Kind People.

Crap. I'm actually kind of mad at myself for wasting my afternoon. Okay, it wasn't a complete waste - Dave Navarro has a cameo towards the end. And as far as I'm concerned, there's always room for Mr. Navarro. I am all about the eye candy, yo.
Friday, March 18, 2005
Friday Baddie Blogging
Note: due to a sad lack of available photos of this week's baddie, I present for you an Artistic Rendering, which is both masterful and lifelike.

This week's baddie is Mansquito. *

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Mansquito has seen the adverts during his film one too many times.
*Actual Mansquito may differ from Mansquito shown.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Note to Brittany Murphy: Eat something
In which V. derides the hell out of Little Black Book, briefly sermonizes about relationship ethics, and observes that Ron Livingston always plays sleazy boyfriends.

So, today I managed to sit through the recent "romantic comedy" Little Black Book, starring Brittany Murphy. I put "romantic comedy" in quotes as this film was neither romantic nor a comedy. I'd say it's somewhere between one of those Greek tragedies where everyone dies and/or rips out their own eyes, and a train wreck. Possibly both.

A word on Brittany Murphy: she was really cute in Clueless. What the crap happened? She looks like she weighs about 60 pounds soaking wet. And we wonder why young girls have problems with body image, look at the role models we give them. But I digress.

Ms. Murphy plays Stacy, who is obsessed with two things: working for Diane Sawyer, and the music of Carly Simon. Whenever life gets Stacy down, she sings along loudly with Carly Simon songs. Um, okay. I guess a lot of people really like Carly Simon, but she's not really my cuppa at all. Neither is Diane Sawyer. So from the start, I am unable to really relate to Stacy... and I have trouble really getting into a film if I can't relate, even in some small way, with the principle female character.

Stacy is dating this guy Derek, played by Ron Livingston. Livingston is perhaps best known for playing Carrie's insecure asshole boyfriend Berger on Sex and the City. He plays virtually an identical guy here. So, they're dating, and just as he's about to go away on business for a couple of weeks, he lets slip that he used to date some supermodel.

This makes Stacy a little insecure. I think it would probably shake up most women. I think, personally, if I found out I had replaced a supermodel as the object of a man's affection, I'd feel pretty good about that. But not Stacy. No. Stacy slides into a downward spiral of self-doubt and destructive behavior.

She has a job working as an assistant producer on a Jerry Springer style chat show. She confides her worries to her best work chum Barb (Holly Hunter, who always plays bitches). Following a warped series of events, Stacy is convinced to go snooping around in Berger's palm pilot (the titular little black book) so as to dig up the dirt on his past relationships.

I won't get into the sordid misadventures that she has with these women; it's really not all that interesting. The interesting thing is that it soon becomes clear that Berger the Asshole Boyfriend is in fact leading a double life. And so the viewer is presented with a moral dilemma: who is wrong? Stacy, for being a snoop? Or Berger, for being dishonest?

I think they're both wrong, but from my perspective, Stacy did the only thing she really could do. She was blissfully ignorant of some serious underlying problems in her own relationship. Berger the Asshole wasn't ever going to be forthcoming with the truth. So while it was wrong for her to pry, it was good that she did. Otherwise, she'd have carried on living a lie.

Brief sermonizing about relationship ethics: I mean, okay. I'm not saying we should have to tell our partners about all of our past relationships. I'm not saying we should have to give our partners a complete play-by-play of everything we do every day. But I am saying, we should be a part of our partners' lives. We have the right to know who their friends are, to meet their friends, to meet their families. Anyone that you hide from your partner is someone you have no business spending time with. If you're good friends with an ex and like to get together for the occasional lunch or movie or whatever, fine... just be up front about it. Geez.

Anyway, everything kind of spirals out of control. Stacy ends up hurting a lot of people. Her so-called friend Barb ends up setting her up and using her and exploiting her life story on national TV. Everything goes all to hell, lives are ruined, relationships destroyed.

And then it's as if the writers just ran out of ideas and didn't know how to end things. They felt obligated to give Stacy a happy ending (because romantic comedies always have happy endings, but this isn't really a romantic comedy...), so at the very end, Stacy gives some sappy voiceover speech about new beginnings and humility. And then she's offered a job as Diane Sawyer's assistant. OMG!! No way!!! And then while she's still reeling from the sheer joy of getting the job of her dreams, in walks Carly Simon!! OMG!!!11 R0X0R!!1111

Carly Simon says something insipid like "Hello, I'm Carly Simon". This results in Stacy fainting, and then coming to and squealing like a lovestruck teenager and hugging Carly Simon. Whee! Now she has everything she ever wanted!

Holy crap, this movie sucked. I was expecting something cute and lighthearted and uplifting, but nooo. Brittany Murphy is colossally irritating, as well. No wonder Ashton dumped her for Demi.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Five things I totally heart this week
1. The Killers
Yeah, I know I totally hearted these guys last week. But, I have since heard their awesome cover of "Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself", which is one of my favorite Morrissey songs. The Killers RULE, like, totally. And it doesn't hurt that the lead singer is a nice bit of eye candy. Mmm, eye candy.

2. Mansquito
The more I think about Mansquito, the more I am convinced that, well, that it sucked. But I have to say, it's refreshing to see a film made with just some bloke in a rubber suit. CGI has gotten way out of hand, if you ask me. Even the cheapest, most crap direct-to-video films go overboard with the CGI these days. Mad props to Mansquito for giving technology the middle finger. I think society would be a lot better off if we still had to see our fair share of films with guys in rubber suits.

3. Muskrat Love
Yes, Captain and Tennille really, really suck. They suck hard. And Muskrat Love sucks pretty hard as well. I'll be honest here, if I had to make a list of the five worst songs of all time, Muskrat Love might be second or third on the list. But I found myself forced to listen to it the other day, and realized that about 2/3 of the way in there's a solo that can only be described as the sound of muskrats having sex, as performed on an ancient Moog synthesizer. Go have a listen, if you don't believe me. You will be repulsed, yet fascinated.

A creepy side note: Hey, that Tennille was kind of a hottie back in the day. OMG, I never would have thought.

4. The Scissor Sisters
I am admittedly rather late with this whole jumping on the Scissor Sisters bandwagon. But hey, these here are some catchy songs. Mark my words, these crazy kids are going to go far. I think they'll be the next Elton John. We need a new Elton John anyway, the one we have is becoming rather tired.

5. Greg Sanders
Greg is my favorite CSI. There's also that whole eye candy thing again. And he's weird. Weird is good.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Mansquito: A Critical Analysis
Every once in a while, a film comes along that challenges our intellect, defies common plot conventions, and presents vital probing questions into the very nature of our existential struggle.

Mansquito is a cautionary tale about what happens when people muck around with science and generally Play God. In the world of Mansquito, a deadly mosquito plague has seized America and holds all of its fragile citizens in the Icy Grip Of Fear. Our only hope for survival is a mysterious experiment spearheaded by some asshole bloke and his two sexy Scientist Bitches. One of the sexy Scientist Bitches is Musetta Vander from one of those Mortal Kombat films. The other sexy Scientist Bitch, according to the IMDb, has done rather a lot of soft-core porn.

Anyway, the Scientist Bitches have come up with some special Hero Mosquitoes. Releasing the Hero Mosquitoes will presumably counter the effects of the Evil Mosquito Plague and the epidemic will die out. Their dodgy asshole boss has arranged for the final testing phase to be conducted on some death row psycho killer.

This is one of many times that this film asks you, Dear Viewer, to completely suspend disbelief, physics, the laws of the universe, and/or common sense. What exactly are we testing on the psycho killer? Why? How? Is he to be bitten by hordes of Hero Mosquitoes to see what might happen? Injected with something? We don't know. I'm guessing they're going to test A Serum on him, because in these sorts of dodgy sci-fi films, there is always A Serum. But I really don't know.

Anyway, the whole plan goes completely wrong. The psycho killer escapes, as such characters often do. In a frenzy of almost entertaining action, He shoots up the lobby of the Science Building, kidnaps Porn Star Science Bitch, shoots her, and then holds Mortal Kombat hostage. Then, The Reactor blows up. Of course it does. Films like this always have A Reactor, and said Reactor always Blows Up.

Mansquito escapes through a storm drain, and Mortal Kombat's policeman boyfriend (Parker Lewis in a hideous cheap suit) arrives on the scene.

Mansquito begins to Transform. He hunts down his tarty ex-girlfriend, transforms all the way, and kills her. Frankly, I have serious issues with how rapidly the psycho killer went full-on Mansquito. I mean, even Brundlefly took a few days to reach critical fly mass? I really don't think it's at all realistic to accept that Mansquito's entire body composition changed within a couple of hours. Please, this is an insult to my intelligence.

But I digress. Mansquito kills his tarty ex-girlfriend by giving her a massive skeeter bite and draining out her blood. Following this is a load of really tedious filler. Parker Lewis attempts to console Mortal Kombat, who needs to Focus On Her Work. She too has been affected by The Reactor Explosion, but she decides to hide it for now. Her boss is a total prick and blames her for everything. She likes to smell flowers. She can smell Mansquito.

Mansquito kills a shitload of people in a bar. Mansquito kills every last person that Mansquito sees. At first, this is pretty awesome. Carnage is always fun, especially carnage perpetuated by a bloke in a really crappy rubber suit. But it kind of gets old when everyone dies. It removes the element of suspense. Oh no! Will Mansquito kill this person? We don't know! Oh wait, we do know. Everyone dies.

Mortal Kombat develops a weird craving for blood. She wants to have sex with Parker Lewis. I question her judgment. They're getting it on. She scratches his chest and starts sucking his blood. He stops her... not because he's weirded out by this, but because his phone is ringing. He has to get back to work. Mortal Kombat gets sick in her bathroom, which looks suspiciously like a public restroom, complete with industrial wall-mounted hand soap dispenser. Seriously, real people don't have those.

So yeah. She's transforming too. Mansquito wants to mate with her. I say go for it, Mansquito has a bit more sex appeal than Parker Lewis. I'm sure there are some more plot developments around here somewhere, but to be perfectly honest I kind of dozed off.

Next thing I know, Mortal Kombat is in the hospital and Mansquito is on a complete rampage, killing cops left and right. Mansquito is impervious to bullets. Everyone within range is firing at this mofo, and the bullets just bounce right off.

Suddenly Mansquito's back splits open and he has wings. He lumbers clumsily into the air on his tiny, tiny wings. I can't help laughing. The geniuses in the Sci-Fi channel's special effects department milk this for all it's worth, and I say kudos to them.

From this point, it's pretty much total chaos. Parker Lewis, Mortal Kombat, and Mansquito all end up in the sewer, where Mortal Kombat and Mansquito engage in what Parker Lewis later calls "a battle of epic proportions". Mansquito is, like, the Rasputin of the Mutant Insect world. He gets shot at. He gets shot in the head, and snot comes out. He gets hosed with a fire extinguisher. He gets bashed about the head with an axe. Parker Lewis frigging tasers him.

Actually I think some of this stuff happened in the science lab. There was almost no sense of linear action.

Anyway, in the end Mortal Kombat electrocutes Mansquito and they both die. Parker Lewis says some crap about doors closing and new beginnings, and then the credits roll. And I'm left thinking. Thinking about man's existential struggle. Thinking that I'd really, really like to get my two hours back.
Friday, March 11, 2005
Codename V. is pretty frickin' fed up
This whole Blogger comments issue has started to piss me off. It's all completely bollocksed. So I hooked myself up with Haloscan commenting. I was pretty unhappy with the Haloscan for most of the afternoon, but I've adjusted to it now and maybe even like it a wee bit better.

The old comments are all still there, even though the counters are showing zero.

So, yeah. I still love technology... always and forever...
Friday Baddie Blogging
This week's baddie is Bobby Brown.

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That Whitney Houston used to be such a nice girl.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
I'm Rick James Bugs Bunny, bitch.
Pretty much anyone with a pulse has already heard about how Warner Brothers has gone and screwed around with some classic cartoon characters. And pretty much everyone with a pulse and good sense realizes that this ranks among the worst of all Bad Ideas. Let's face it, this whole Loonatics enterprise is going to bite the WB right in the arse.

Obviously, this calls for a Flash parody. Click here to watch "A New Bunny," which is somewhere between the Happy Tree Friends and a Samuel L. Jackson monologue. Top hilarity, and definitely not safe for work.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Finally, humor comes to Tuesday night television
A review of mid-season replacement series "Blind Justice", in which V. points out plot flaws, draws comparisons to Horatio Caine, and generally makes disparaging comments.

Last night I had the pleasure of watching the pilot episode of Blind Justice, a new series about a homicide detective rendered blind in a shootout. After a landmark court case and some sensational media attention, he wins the right to return to his old job. The show is about his struggle to be accepted by his peers, and also about his ability to keep being a great homicide detective despite not being able to see.

So we start out with an impossibly lofty premise. Okay, fine. Sometimes lofty premises work pretty well (examples: Memento, Fight Club). Let's see how well the writers and actors handle this one.

So here's Blind Justice, and he can't see. His wife (Rena Sofer from the sci-fi channel's awesome and sadly defunct series The Chronicle) is presented as a royal bitch who doesn't understand him and has lost faith in his ability to Be A Real Man. I don't think this is fair, really. Honestly Blind Justice comes across as a real ass (we find out that he's cheated on her in the past), and in my opinion she's just trying to be supportive and mend their marriage.

We start the show on Blind Justice's first day back on the job. We see that Blind Justice is capable of functioning within normal parameters: he wakes and dresses on his own, operates the coffee maker, and walks to work on his own with the help of his trusty aid dog. Oh yeah, and he takes martial arts training.

So Blind Justice makes it to work, and it soon becomes clear that everyone on the force "respects" him (he took a bullet to the head for four other cops, after all), but nobody wants to be his partner. Apparently the fact that he's blind and carries a gun gives one pause. He's subjected to some less than good-natured ribbing, to which he responds with self-deprecating humor. Important: Blind Justice seems to use humor as a defense mechanism rather a lot. He delivers a lot of cheesy one-liners, which reminded me a lot of CSI: Miami's Horatio Caine. But where Caine is a god in his own mind, Blind Justice just wants to prove himself.

He gets partnered up with a pretty girl. We find out later that Pretty Girl was good friends with the woman he had an affair with, and so is predisposed to think he's a jerk. I am also predisposed to think that Blind Justice is a jerk, so that's something we have in common already. They get called to the scene of a murder. Turns out their precinct has been on the trail of a serial killer for quite a while. The killer targets prostitutes, strips them, ties them up, and cuts out their tongues.

An aside: this episode started out with a warning that it contained brief nudity. And here it is: a dead prostitute's bare ass. As far as I'm concerned, any network drama that will show a dead prostitute's bare ass in the first 20 minutes gets bonus cool points.

So, here they are in this warehouse with the dead naked hooker. Cops are swarming around taking notes and photos, and Blind Justice just stands still and goes all Zen. The only way to describe what happens next is to say that his Spidey-Sense kicks in. As if he has bat-sonar or something, he stands still and listens closely, and suddenly he can "see" the room perfectly. He makes pointless statements like "the window pane on the left is broken!" and everyone is all "yeah, yeah. Sure. That's real good, Blind Justice."

Suddenly here's the chief. Blind Justice and Pretty Girl are being pulled from the homicide case and being sent to investigate a carjacking. Obviously, nobody trusts Blind Justice to do his job. Blind Justice and Pretty Girl are indignant. Pretty Girl tells Blind Justice that she doesn't want to be his partner, because they're just going to keep getting sent on bullshit cases like this carjacking (it's nice to think our police force takes the everyday crimes against the common citizen so seriously, isn't it?).

Anyway, at the scene of the carjacking, Blind Justice detects the scent of a recently fired gun in the car. Nobody else smells anything and there is much dramatic eye-rolling as Blind Justice insists on calling the crime lab.

I'll sum up a lot of boring crap here: Blind Justice stands up to some cops who challenge his right to carry a gun. They back off. Blind Justice responds with stoicism when a bum in the holding cell taunts him for being blind. Blind Justice holds a grudge against the cop whose colossal screw-up caused him to get shot in the head in the first place.

The crime lab turns up with a fingerprint on the stolen car. Blind Justice and Pretty Girl follow the lead. It belongs to a girl who had turned to prostitution to pay off her student loans (This is a good idea... note to self: get webcam and paypal tip jar). I am not entirely sure how, but Blind Justice and Pretty Girl manage to locate the body.

The body is: fully clothed, not tied up, and still has a tongue. Nevertheless, Blind Justice is convinced that it's the work of our serial killer. Pretty Girl points out that the body is: fully clothed, not tied up, and still has a tongue. Blind Justice says something along the lines of "He didn't do those things because for some reason last night he didn't have time!!" Pretty Girl inexplicably immediately jumps on this bandwagon.

Meanwhile I was thinking, you know, it's entirely possible that in a city the size of New York, maybe... just maybe, this is the work of a different killer. I mean, that's reasonable logic, right? Maybe, just maybe, this is a simple carjacking. Clearly I am wrong, because Blind Justice pushes the very boundaries of reason.

Now that another body has turned up, the chief pulls them off the carjacking case and sends them to a Chinese takeaway where someone stole $12 out of the cash register. While Pretty Girl is interviewing the victims, Blind Justice hears a train go past and Zens Out again. When he snaps out of it, he presents Pretty Girl with an exceptionally convoluted and far-fetched theory about how the killer is using public transportation and how they can use the train schedule to pin down where he lives.

Um, yeah. Okay dude. Whatever you say.

Long story short: holy shit, it works. Blind Justice is a Jedi Master of impossible theories. They find the killer's house and make their way in with an excuse about a parking ticket or something.

The next few minutes are pretty much a carbon copy of the end of Silence of the Lambs. Remember when Clarice finally gets into Jame Gumb's house, and he goes to get a business card from the kitchen, and ends up trapping her? This is exactly what happens to Pretty Girl. Blind Justice hears a struggle. He calls for backup and makes his way to the kitchen. Pretty Girl is out cold on the floor. He has a stand-off with Jame Gumb.

Jame Gumb claims to have Pretty Girl's gun. Blind Justice's Spidey-Sense tells him that this is not the case. He points his own gun at Jame Gumb, who mocks him (you won't shoot me! You're blind!). Just as Blind Justice is about to actually shoot, the backup shows up.

More summing up of some tedious crap: the real police (read: the ones who can see) have no luck getting a confession. So they finally break down and let Blind Justice and Pretty Girl go in. Blind Justice turns all Bad Cop on the guy and smacks him around a bit and finally the guy confesses.

In conclusion: Blind Justice has proven himself, and has earned at least partial respect from his co-workers. Even his own partner grudgingly agrees to take it day by day.

Would I recommend this? Oh hell yeah. The writing is shit, the acting is shit, and the plot is completely nonsensical. Hilarity ensues. Besides, nothing else comes on Tuesday nights.

Another WTF moment: blogger spell check suggests that I replace "carjacking" with "churchgoing"
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Post the... um...
In which V. loses count of how many posts she's made, and also encourages people to see The Jacket, which is a Most Decent Film.

So, yesterday I made a solo excursion to the cinema to see The Jacket. This business of going to the movies alone is fairly new for me. My friends are scattered far and wide across several continents, and typically the only person locally who will see movies with me is my mother. This poses problems, as I'm rather partial to horror films (the more graphic and lurid the better) while my mother frowns upon what she calls "devil movies". So out of necessity I started going to the cinema alone. I find it quite liberating, like having a little adventure or something.

But I digress. The Jacket. This is being marketed as a horror film, and it's not. Not really. I quite liked it, liked it a lot, but it's not a horror film. So bear that in mind if you choose to see it. I'm not sure how I would classify it. Eli suggests that it sounds like a sci-fi film. I'm not sure about that genre either. Yes, The Jacket deals with time travel, and time travel usually falls well within the realm of sci-fi. But The Jacket is about as much sci-fi as Donnie Darko, or The Butterfly Effect. There's some weird stuff going on here, kids. Weird, weird stuff.

The film starts out showing Adrien Brody (good actor, that bloke) in the Gulf War back in the day. He gets shot in the head, and it kind of messes him up mentally. I don't think they ever really get into HOW it messes him up mentally, but he seems to have problems with memory and whatnot. Flash forward a few months and he's been discharged and is walking along a snowy road. He stops to help some stranded people, and then hitches a ride with a guy in a trucker hat.

This is where it all goes bad. A cop ends up dead, and it looks like Adrien Brody is guilty. He ends up getting shipped off to an asylum, and his doctor is about as much of a nutter as the patients. In some kind of bizarre experimental therapy they shoot him full of hallucinogenic drugs, strap him into an old grubby straightjacket (complete with pee-stained crotch, I applaud their level of detail), and lock him up in a morgue drawer.

And while he's in there, he travels through time.

Telling you anything else would be giving away too much, and I think it's best just to let this one surprise you. It's a tragic film in a lot of ways, and an uplifting one in a lot of ways. It's well shot with brilliant visuals, and makes great use of music (the film ends with one character asking a question, which seems to be answered by the song that immediately starts playing over the final credits).

So yeah: go see The Jacket. I thought it was original and satisfying, and certainly well worth my $5.75.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
OMFG Dude WTF?!?!
This here is some online mind-reading thingy-thing. It has completely baffled me. I'm sure it's a trick of algebra or some such, but... IT KNOWS. Sweet lord help us all, IT KNOWS.

Update: It doesn't actually KNOW, which I must admit is comforting. Maybe if it wasn't nearly 1AM I could have picked up on the trick. Thanks Eli for patiently showing me that computers aren't actually achieving sentience and plotting to dominate mankind.
Friday, March 04, 2005
Friday Baddie Blogging
This week's baddie is HAL 9000.

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Open the frigging pod bay doors, Hal.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Five things I totally heart this week
In which V. takes a break from snarking.

1. The Toyota Prius
If I could afford a new car, it would be this one here. I am partial to the blue.

2. The Killers
Every once in a while I think "maybe the crazy music that kids listen to these days isn't all bad". The Killers are a ray of hope in a sea of mediocrity. I especially like their video for "Mr. Brightside", wherein the Killers are made up to look like dandies, and the lead singer is involved in a love triangle with a scary-looking model and Eric Roberts, who is also made up to look like a dandy. Perhaps I have my priorities all screwed up, but I think if given a choice between a rather handsome young rock god and Eric Roberts, I'd have to go with Rock God. Young and handsome rock gods might get away with the whole Dandy thing. Eric Roberts, not so much.

3. The Jacket
I keep seeing promos for this film which presumably starts tomorrow. I may have to make a solo pilgrimage to the cinema to see it, maybe on Monday. I was watching some morning chat show whilst on the treadmill at the gym this morning, and a reviewer described it as "paranormal medical horror". This is a whole new sub-genre to me, except maybe if you count the work of David Cronenberg, and even then he's more "gross organic" than "medical" horror. The Jacket stars Adrien Brody, I like him. Also, Keira Knightley. I used to find her a bit revolting, until I saw King Arthur. Now she's growing on me.

4. The 23rd Pan Book of Horror Stories
This is a pretty ancient paperback anthology that I have on loan from M. Most of the stories have a pretty solid British feel, and most of them are a bit unsettling. I'm not sure whether these books are easily found in America at all, but I'm certain I've read a couple of these stories before in other anthologies.

5. Lost
One of the best new TV shows I've seen in years. Imaginative, keeps me guessing. Well done, ABC. Well done.

This week's WTF moment: blogger's spell-check suggests that I replace "sub-genre" with "spikenard".
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Post the Fourth
In which V. posts a review written some time ago about a Most Curious Film.

I've been digging around through some of my old writing in a somewhat hopeless attempt to get a portfolio together for a job, and I came across this review for a great absurdist Japanese film called Visitor Q. It defies explanation, so I thought I'd stick it up here for posterity.

Okay... Visitor Q... this was one seriously bent film, and I'm not entirely sure where to start...

OK so there's this guy, who is with a prostitute, only she's also his daughter, and he ends up having sex with her despite some halfhearted moral objection, and she keeps taking photos of him with a digital camera. And in the end he doesn't have enough money to pay her and she makes fun of him for not lasting very long.

So then he's waiting for a bus (I guess?) and some weird guy with big hair cracks him over the head with a rock.

And then you see his wife and son, and the son beats the crap out of his mom for getting him the wrong kind of toothbrush, and then he goes to his room where he has a closet full of whips.

And then his mom shoots heroin, and some bullies from school shoot firecrackers into their house, and they both act like this is normal.

Right, so then the dad is walking home, and the guy with big hair comes along and cracks him over the head again, and follows the man home, and the man says "this is a friend of mine, and he's gonna stay here for a while." But he doesn't really know the guy (who I guess is Visitor Q?).

Meanwhile the son keeps beating the mom with whips, and she yells "not in the face" all the time. And the dad just carries on as though this is commonplace, and Visitor Q asks for some more rice.

So then the next day, the mom goes and turns a trick with some stranger for drug money, and meanwhile the son keeps getting beaten up by school bullies and his dad follows him around and videotapes it.

The mom goes home and finds Visitor Q in the prostitute daughter's old room, and he squeezes her breasts and a LOT of milk squirts out everywhere and the son comes in from school and can see the milk squirting all the way down the hallway.

And the dad is having lunch with a girl who is supposedly a reporter, and he says he wants to do a story about how fathers react to bullies and he's the father and his son is bullied, and she says "no you're stupid!" and reminds him of the last story he tried to do in which he ended up being ass-raped by a gang of street kids with some odd sex toy, and he showed the tape of this to people anyway and made a fool of himself. So no way is he gonna be allowed to do another story.

So by now you should be getting the idea that this is a fairly screwed up film.

So the man goes home to dinner with his wife and son and Visitor Q, and there's more "not in the face! blah blah blah" and the wife throws a knife at the son, and the bullies throw more firecrackers through the windows, and the dad gets it all on tape and rants about how he's a father and this is his house and his wife is lovely and who is Visitor Q anyway?

And the next day he's in a car with the reporter and Visitor Q and they are about to film him standing up to the kids who are beating up his son, and then the reporter says "oh, I just remembered, this is stupid!" and tries to walk away, but the dad chases her and rapes her and kills her, and they take her back to the house.

So he's gonna chop her to pieces, and he sends Visitor Q into the house for bin liners, and in what is probably one of THE WEIRDEST scenes I have EVER seen in my whole life, the wife says "oh, bin liners, here!" and takes off her clothes and she is wearing a garbage bag under them. And THEN she says "look, I can make my breasts squirt by myself" and starts squeezing them...

Meanwhile the dad is having sex with the reporter's corpse, and she... erm... evacuates her bowels on him, and he keeps having sex with her anyway...

And meanwhile the wife is standing in the kitchen, which is now flooded with milk, lactating away onto Visitor Q who is sitting on the floor under a plastic umbrella.

So rigor mortis sets in, and the dad gets stuck in the reporter's corpse... and he yells for help and eventually ends up in the bathtub still stuck in the corpse while the wife pours vinegar on him in a devoted and helpful manner while Visitor Q watches.

To sum up a series of bizarre events, he gets free, the wife helps him dispose of the body, and together they murder the bullies who were beating up on their son.

Visitor Q finds the son lying on the kitchen floor face down in the milk, and asks him what's wrong and the son says he is determined to study harder, and thanks Visitor Q for destroying everything.

Visitor Q goes and finds the prostitute daughter and cracks her over the head with a rock, and she goes home. She goes into her old room and looks out the window and sees her (still!!!) lactating mom in the yard wrapped in plastic, and her dad is having himself a drink, and this seems to make her happy... and, um... then she goes outside and... errr... joins in.

And thus ends the weirdness...
Codename V. Hates On John Mayer
So: John Mayer. He's been around for a while now, polluting the airwaves with his Sensitive Crybaby Music, and he's always pissed me right off. He can't sing. He is a poor songwriter. But I think maybe his worst crime is just plain being a pussy.

In order to give this theory a bit of academic validation, I present the following evidence: The Online Slang Dictionary (which seems to be affiliated with Berkeley, hence "academic"), defines pussy as "1. the vagina. 2. a physically weak person; WIMP. ("He is such a pussy.")"

With this definition in mind, let us take a good close look at the subject in question:

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Yes, I believe that is a pussy.

Anyway, the source of my venom towards John Mayer is that apparently he won a grammy for some song called "Daughters". This song is now on constant perma-rotation on every radio station within broadcast range of me. The lyrics are incredibly condescending towards women, and make me want to pull out all my own teeth one by one. Let's take a look:

The chorus:
Fathers be good to your daughters;
Daughters will love like you do, yeah.
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers,
So mothers be good to your daughters, too.

Thanks, John Mayer, for reinforcing the social dogma of childrearing. Put those of us who choose to be (and enjoy being) child-free into a nice little box and shove us under the bed, because girls who don't "turn into mothers" are hopeless wastes of everyone's time.

I realize I am probably reading too much into this. I am fairly confident that John Mayer lacks the mental skills to put together any sort of misogynist manifesto and set it to music. Rather, I suspect he had some kind of traditional (read: conservative and religious) upbringing which imprinted archaic community values on his poor feeble mind. Alternatively, maybe he just writes down whatever words he thinks are pretty, and sets them to "music". Who knows.

For further analysis, I give you the bridge:
On behalf of every man, looking out for every girl,
You are the god, and the weight of her world.
On behalf of every man who's looking out for every girl,
You are the god, and the weight of her world.

The hell?!? Forgive me for possibly being alarmist and maybe even a bit of a militant feminist (something I am totally not, trust me)... but...

It seems to me that John Pussy Mayer has essentially written a song about how men are gods, and women are the weaker breeding sex who need men to take care of them... and HE WON AN AWARD FOR IT. This pisses me off. Really.

Again, maybe I'm reading too much into this. But looking at the lyrics, I can't see any other way to interpret this burst of auditory shit.

Post the Second
In which V. has seen a Good Film, and laments that others will not be able to share in it, as it is Obscure and Out Of Print

A couple of weeks ago I chanced upon an old Mom & Pop video store that had recently been bought out by Movie Gallery and was selling off most of its old video stock for one or two dollars a tape. The vast, vast majority of these films were of either the Lurid Horror or the Badly Dubbed Kung Fu variety - in short, the place was PURE TREASURE.

One of the tapes in my new Collection Of Glory is a mid-80s Australian film called Contagion. The IMDb classifies this as "horror/comedy", which I have to say is completely false. Also, their rather spartan plot summary does the film no justice at all.

Contagion is one of the most effective low-budget horror films I've had the pleasure of seeing. It borrows heavily from both The Hills Have Eyes and Kubrick's masterpiece, The Shining. As both of these are genius films in which I can find no flaws, one must conclude that I mean this as praise. The plot is relatively straightforward (which is unusual, as horror films go): Mark finds himself trapped in the woods late one night, and runs afoul of a band of cannibal weirdos. After fighting his way to freedom, he stumbles across something of an oasis in the forest - a lavish home inhabited by the Hugh Hefner-esque "Roddy" and two beautiful (well, beautiful by 80s standards) blonde women.

They tempt him with money and sex, and tell him that he can return as often as he likes... as long as he follows their warped philosophy of life. They call it The Threefold Path. I was never really clear on what the three aspects of this path were, although they seem to involve (a) ruthlessness, (b) being a total raving nutter, and (c) killing a load of people.

Since this film is woefully obscure and out of print, and it's likely that none of you (assuming anyone is reading this) will ever have the chance to see it, I'll go spoilers-mad here and give away the ending. Turns out the lavish home is really a dilapidated estate, where 20 years ago some fellow went a bit wonky and killed his entire family (Hello, Amityville?). No-one's lived there since. But Crazy Mark sees it as a dream palace. It's kind of ambiguous... is this place haunted? Is Mark seeing ghosts, or possibly Evil Demons? Is it just the hallucination of a total raving nutter? Is he maybe in a coma somewhere and having an elaborate dream?

I don't know. But I'll tell you that it really doesn't matter WHAT is really going on with Mark. It makes for an interesting and rather sinister film either way. It's heavily implied that there is in fact something evil and supernatural and weird going on, though. At the end, Mark's girlfriend (who he tries to kill several times, rather feebly and without success) sees him dancing around in the ruins of the old house (this is when we first see that Mark's reality is not THE reality). After a convoluted series of events, she escapes a plane crash AND the last remaining cannibal person, fights off Mark for the last time, and (I think) ends up being a bit of a nutter herself and finally seeing the dream house. I say "I think" here because it's implied and not made clear.

This film is low budget, very very dated, and Australian. Not exactly top-of-the-line as horror films go. But it's driven by a very strong story and interesting characters. I appreciated that it kept me guessing as to what was actually going on - most horror films that I see tend to beat the viewer over the head with The Obvious. While Contagion did borrow from some well-known films, it didn't resort to cliches. I think that it could possibly even be enjoyed by people who aren't fans of the horror genre, depending on one's tolerance for Weird (for reference: some other films that it reminded me of were Haunted and... crap, I am totally blanking on the name of the film now. It was about a waiter who answered a classified ad to buy a leather jacket and ended up being framed for murder by a strange man and his two androgynous friends... I'll look that up and post the title later on). Update - this film is called A Taste of Hemlock and is also obscure and out of print... and also extremely worthwhile, if you can hunt it down.

I digress. In summary, this film rocked. Pity that nobody else will get to enjoy it.