Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Guaranteed to have a twist ending...
For the curious (and hey, who isn't?) here is the trailer for Lady in the Water, M Night Shyamalan's new film.

After watching it, I had the following thoughts:

Um, okay.
American soldiers aren't all bad
US Troops Find Abused Cheetah Cubs (AP)

The guy with the baby cheetahs is refusing to give them up unless he's paid a couple of thousand dollars. His name is Mohamed Hudle, so send all your most negative bad vibes his way. People can be so f*ing disgusting.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Five Things I Totally Heart This Week
In which the popular quasi-weekly feature attempts to make a comeback.

You know, it's weird but the more work I have to do, the more I find I have time to post to this blog. Life is crazy that way. Moving on...

1. Walk The Line
I saw this film with my mom over the weekend. It was awesome. Joaquin Phoenix has Mr. Cash's mannerisms and personality totally nailed. And Reese Witherspoon is quite unexpectedly great as June Carter. She seemed talented enough that my mom didn't want to believe she was Reese Witherspoon. Girl can sing, too. They both can. Oscar-worthy performances aside, this was a very good, compelling story.

I guess it would help if you're a fan of Johnny Cash before you see this film. When I was younger, I have to admit I was guilty of writing him off as just another country singer. But now that I'm older and my horizons are less limited, I can see that Johnny Cash was a genuine musical pioneer whose contribution ranged far, far beyond the boundaries of just "country" or "western" or "gospel". He was one of the few artists who don't merely sing songs, they tell stories with music. In this way I think he influenced a lot of greats like Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen. It's music with substance. Music born out of the passion of creativity, and not of the desire to make a quick buck.

You can probably tell from my endless rhapsodizing that I admire the guy's art. Which was certainly a huge contributing factor in my enjoyment of the film. I still think everyone should see this, if you're not already a fan maybe it will make one out of you.

2. My electric kettle
Go ahead, laugh at me. I heart my electric kettle. I got used to having one of these when I stayed with M in England. Pretty much everyone in England has an electric kettle, and pretty much nobody in America does. To be honest, I didn't even know they existed until I went to visit M. And I mean, okay, yeah, there's the stereotype of the English being obsessive with their tea-love. But hey, I'm a Southern girl and we obsessively love our tea, too (albeit iced).

So I decided, maybe if I get myself an electric kettle (under $20 at WalMart, boo-yah!) maybe, just maybe I could persuade myself to drink more herbal tea and less Coke. And it worked, I am drinking loads and loads of swanky herbal tea now. I highly recommend the White Tangerine Tea and also the Royal Plum Decaf from Revolution Tea. Yum!

Oh, and it's good for doing cup noodle, too.

3. The Killers
Of course I still totally heart The Killers. What kind of totally heart list would it be without them on it? Also, I kind of need something to type about while I'm thinking up two more things.

4. Masters of Horror
Masters of Horror is a new-ish anthology series on Showtime. The premise is, they've got all these acclaimed horror directors to do hour-long films, and they show one each week. They have a pretty impressive range of talent, pretty much a Who's Who of cult horror fandom.

They've done five of these so far, and while they've all been highly enjoyable, I've singled out three which I think have made the best impact.

Stuart Gordon, the guy who does all those HP Lovecraft films, did an HP Lovecraft story (natch) called "Dreams in the Witch House". It was damn weird. Things which would be pretty easy to screw up and make the film seem stupid were handled quite well, most notably a mouse with a human face. See, normally I'd expect this to be done with cheap CGI or a shoddy puppet, and presented in a camp way. But somehow it turned out to be pretty freaky. Stuart Gordon must be the world's biggest Lovecraft fan, because he really seems to put his heart and soul into making kickass films of his work.

Tobe Hooper did a story called "Dance of the Dead" wherein society is trying to hold it together after a devastating round of chemical warfare and bioterrorism. For entertainment, they parade reanimated corpses around on stage and poke them with cattle prods. This is every bit as gruesome as it sounds. One of the characters has done something incredibly vile to someone else, and when the secret comes out, it leads to some honestly disturbing moments.

Last but not least, I think my favorite so far was Dario Argento's "Jenifer". If you don't know who Dario Argento is, you should be ashamed of yourself and go rent Suspiria right now. Jenifer is a girl with a knockout body and hideously deformed face. She has some kind of seductive thrall over the men who come to her rescue. She also eats entrails (human AND animal), licks peoples' open wounds whilst making whimpering sounds, and has lots of dirty sex with the men whose lives she ruins. It was completely grotesque. In fact, I don't think I ever really fully grasped the actual meaning of "grotesque" until I saw this story.

5. U2's Best Of, 1980 - 1990
I've been listening to this CD all day while working. These guys were my top favorite band back when I was twelve, and they're still most certainly in my top four or five. Going back to what I was saying about Johnny Cash, having real actual passion for what you're singing about is what sets the real greats apart from the dime-a-dozen pop singers out there. These songs are timeless... it's impossible to get sick of pre-Zooropa U2. Some people would maybe draw the line at Achtung Baby, but I totally hearted that CD. The albums they've put out since Achtung have all had a couple of good songs on them, but IMO they haven't been as consistently awesome.

But I ramble. And this has been a long Five Things. I have bored you long enough. Go do something fun, maybe provoke your Robot Monkey Head into a rage.

A freaky side note: Blogger spell check understands the word "boo-yah" but not the word "blog". How can Blogger spell check not recognize "blog"? Oh, FFS.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
I feel compelled to point out...
When Codename M was posting his list of good George Romero films just below there, he left out Monkey Shines.

But really, I just wanted an excuse to post the disturbing Enraged Monkey With Blood On His Teeth photo again. Feisty!
It's the end of the world as we know it...
OK I’ve been severely slack here of late and offer 3 CHUD film reviews as compensation. A CHUD, as every horror film aficionado knows is a Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller and I just happen to have coincidentally seen 3 straight films featuring said creatures…well one may be pushing it, but….

The Descent
Firstly, this film is quite awesome and a British horror film to boot. It’s from the makers of ‘Dog Soldiers’ which is also a must see.
British films are low budget compared to Hollywood. The ‘CHUDS’ in this film are all non-CGI which helps a lot. Also the lack of budget normally means the film has been made because it has something special to ever be released, and this does.

A bunch of women friends take annual adventure holidays in scary situations (see Mother’s Day and Blood Games for this surprisingly popular theme). This year is the year after one of our gals lost her husband and daughter in an early scene in the film I guarantee will have you hitting rewind!

So we have a bunch of female characters going into the Appalachians on a caving trek. This may sound crap but the dynamics between the ladies are very well played, with a diverse mix and realistic character interaction that draws your interest.

Firstly, I have to say the film is damn scary enough BEFORE the women face any outside threat and could almost stand on it’s own as a disaster movie when they hit problems underground.

The creatures are VERY well portrayed! Particularly when the women have only IR cameras to see what’s going on. The character relationships also are strong. Some of the final scenes are both tragic and spooky.

Well worth watching and watch Land of the Dead

George Romero is a horror legend. He made the ‘Dead’ trilogy…Night, Dawn and Day of the Dead. Each a classic in it’s own right. Dawn of the Dead has been remade (quite well I thought) recently. Dawn was VERY 70’s but a classic.

Now George has made his ‘real’ sequel to Dawn of the Dead, you know, the one he didn’t have the budget for when he made Day…

Why then, is it one of the shittiest films I’ve ever seen in my life? Is George hard up now? Did he just knock out the first crap he thought of under a drug addled haze?

I think pretty much all of George’s films have shown a particular integrity and talent. Night, Dawn, Day, Martin, The Crazies, Jacks Wife etc. etc. Genuine message that the director has a vision and purpose and point.

Land of the Dead resembles a combination of cheap 80’s ultra low budget rip-offs Supervan and Rats : Night of Terror with none of their originality.

First of all, every fucking thing in this film has an (un) futuristic slang word that will utterly annoy you. I will explain the plot. 'Cholo' drives 'Dead Reckoning' through the 'stenches' shooting 'sky flowers' to distract them.
I truly wonder if Romero is making some kind of point about early 80’s Italian films that ripped off Mad Max? If so he made an incredibly boring film. Dennis Hopper is the ‘head of the city’ and I’m sure his footage could be used in any other ‘asshole in charge of a city’ film as it looks like the scenes were filmed that way (Hopper is as hammy as you can imagine).

This is an utter travesty to ANY zombie fan. I’d watch and enjoy the worst Italian zombie film before seeing this again? What the hell is Romero doing?


OK there is something creepy about the London Underground railway if you ever travelled it (read Books of Blood which transposes it to the USA). Do NY subway passengers delight in watching mice skitter along the track? I’ve travelled there often and it doesn’t take much to make it creepy. There are ‘ghost stations’ that haven’t been used in decades and the tunnels plough through thousands of years of bloody history under the city.

This film really has plot holes the size of a jumbo jet EVERY time something happens, but is still enjoyable. There is some really good gruesomeness that flags the interest.

It’s been said that this film copies Death Line (aka. Raw Meat, yum!) that had a plot about London underground diggers getting lost in tunnels and to be honest that probably made more sense. Franka catches a late night subway train in an attempt to meet George Clooney (!?). She falls asleep in the station, misses the last train and gets locked in the underground system (!?). From then on it's a chud chase movie. I was kind of hoping this film would be along the lines of 'Midnight Meat Train' in Clive Barker's 'Books of Blood'. Exciting news is that Midnight Meat Train IS currently being made into a film!! Yay!

Visually the film is good and quite exciting, but don't think about the plot too much. The Franka Potente interview at a film convention on the DVD is highly entertaining.

Rent it and possibly even buy it!

There you have my 3 Chuds!
Choose wisely!
Friday, November 25, 2005
Friday Baddie Blogging: The Monkey Edition
In keeping with tonight's theme, this week's baddie is the Evil Enraged Monkey from 80s film Monkey Shines

Someone seems to have set his mood to Feisty.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
I've been sitting here for ages trying to think of words that will do this justice. Trying to be witty and clever. Trying to put into words the complex thoughts and emotions that I am experiencing. But honestly, there are no words. Dude, just... no words. I can only tell it like it is, and leave the rest up to you, Dear Reader.

Sharper Image is selling a Robot Monkey Head that responds intelligently to its environment.

The Robot Monkey Head will watch you, ever watching. Its creepy dead robot eyes will follow you around the room, and if you piss it off, it will scream that horrible monkey scream. If it had monkey arms, I'm sure it would beat on things. But thank god for small mercies, IT HAS NO ARMS.

Robot Monkey Head has four "moods" - Curious, Happy, Fearful, and Feisty. Interesting, "fearful". This implies that you can scare your monkey head. One suspects that simply holding up a mirror so that it can gaze upon its own horrific self would do the trick. Seriously, I'm kind of creeped out by the whole concept of a disembodied screaming monkey head.

As if it weren't bizarre enough already, Robot Monkey Head comes with a remote control. AND you can set it to some kind of "watchdog" mode. This is perfect if you have cats, or small curious children. Is little Susie sneaking cookies when you aren't looking? Put Robot Monkey Head inside the cookie jar, set its mood to 'Feisty' and let nature take its course. I would actually PAY MONEY to see someone do this.

I'm not entirely sure why I find this so disturbing. I mean, in the Global Hierarchy of Awesomeness, robots and monkeys score pretty high, right along with ninjas, pirates, and vikings. Any combination of these is usually a solid guarantee that things are going to rock, and rock hard. I don't know. Maybe it's the fact that it's just a monkey head that bothers me. It's not a whole monkey, its monkeyness is incomplete.

But no, y'all have to see it for yourselves. Click on that link I gave you, and be sure to watch the video...
Friday, November 18, 2005
Marguerite Perrin Appreciation Day
In a feeble attempt to make up for a week's worth of no posts, I have gone above and beyond the call of duty to collect for you, dear readers, the best the word wide web has to offer about self-proclaimed "God Warrior" Marguerite Perrin.

If you missed her episode of Trading Spouses, you can read a full recap here. Of course, Trading Spouses is a wonderful, uplifting show wherein families of conflicting backgrounds come together and learn valuable lessons about tolerance and acceptance. Right? Right? Errm... no.

Growing up in the Bible Belt, I became all too familiar with the sort of person known as The Fundamentalist Christian. Okay, so... I have total respect for religious diversity, and I stand behind a person's right to believe (or not believe) in whatever he or she chooses. As far as I'm concerned, whatever makes a person feel safe and comfortable is A-OK with me. However, I expect that respect to be a two-way street. Whatever an individual believes in, I don't think it's acceptable to be preachy or judgmental towards others about it, or to be forceful in attempting to "witness to" (read: convert) a person.

This behavior is what I've come to associate with The Fundamentalist Christian. As I said, growing up in the Bible Belt, I know how this particular plot plays out. Usually, the worst you can expect from these types is the whole Fire and Brimstone "you're going to burn in hell" speech, or the occasional Chick tract. Once, I got told I was going to hell for being a vegetarian (long story). It's tedious, and slightly offensive, but usually you can just walk away from it and go about your life.

Enter Marguerite Perrin. Sent to live with a vaguely Pagan family, she is sent into screaming spasms of holy righteousness by everyday things like gargoyles, stars, and noisy clothes dryers. And when I say "screaming spasms" I do mean SCREAMING SPASMS. You can see for yourself here and here. I really feel sorry for that woman's family. They all look terrified of her.

On the plus side, she's provided me with a new vocabulary word, darksided. As in, "The ideas expressed by Dr. Phil are darksided," or "My Ford Focus is a darksided piece of shit." Try and use it yourself. Make five sentences with it tomorrow, and the word is yours forever.

Oh, one last bit of amusement for you: a couple of Marguerite-themed YTMND sites:
This one turns her rants into a catchy little techno song.

And this one is just bizarre.

The whole damn situation is bizarre, though. The woman is completely batshit crazy, but she's become one hell of a pop culture icon. Well, for the next five minutes, anyway.
Friday Baddie Blogging
This week's baddie is Marguerite Perrin.

Friday, November 11, 2005
Friday Baddie Blogging
This week's baddie is Megatron.

You killed Optimus Prime!! You bastard!
Monday, November 07, 2005
Future sociopaths of America...
I don't usually like to get very personal or political on this blog, but I've read something that has genuinely bothered me.

"I like it," he said. "Shooting a gun and shooting at the animals and killing them."

That bit of wisdom comes at you from five year old John Wagner of Oakland, MD. That's right, I said five years old.

Apparently the Humane Society is pushing for states to enforce a minimum age on hunting. I'm not going to get on a soapbox with my feelings about hunting in general here, although it's something I feel very strongly about.

But I will get on a soapbox with my feelings about small children taking joy in killing animals.

Based on this article, most of the concerns seem to revolve around safety. Gee, is it really a good idea to give a five year old child a loaded gun? DARWIN IN ACTION.

But the safety issue isn't what bothers me. This is what bothers me:

How many five year olds have you met who understand what it means to die? I haven't met any. Nor have I met any five year olds who understand that serious actions have serious consequences. How many five year olds do you suppose really understand that animals can feel pain and suffer just like people do?

Fuck teaching them gun safety. How about teaching them a little respect for life? Teaching what it really means to kill. Teaching that "dead" means not coming back. Not ever.

Five year olds who "like shooting at animals and killing them"... well, let's just say that I personally won't be shocked if that little shit winds up in prison someday. Even then, I'm sure his parents will be proud.

Rant over.
The wonderful world of French psychedelia
Let's imagine for a moment that French lounge lizard extraordinaire Serge Gainsbourg masterminded a musical composition in which a brunette Brigitte Bardot skips around dressed like a go-go dancer and makes nonsensical sounds which are vaguely reminiscent of a squealing pig.

Let's just imagine it. Is it too intense? Too spooky? That's okay, it's only a daydream. Close your eyes and count to ten. Go to your happy place. There, there... you're back in the real world now. The scary hippie music can't hurt you.

Oh, wait. Yes it can. Click here to see a Quick Time video clip of the above-described madness. It's incredibly slow-loading, but well worth the wait. Click on it, make a nice cup of tea or something, and don't worry about making sense out of whatever the hell this is.

Did I mention Bardot is wearing lavender thermal underwear and a Batman cape? Cos she is...
Sunday, November 06, 2005
BOY!!!? Have you been LUMBERJACKING??!!
Did you ever wonder what it would be like if your doctor was a ninja who'd trained with Batman? I sure have. But now we can KNOW what it would be like, thanks to The Adventures of Dr. McNinja.

This is one of those things so rad, I wish I'd thought it up myself. But I didn't. Some other people did. Rock on, other people. I bow to your greatness, and I also think we can all know Batman in our hearts.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
(Belated) Friday Baddie

Atia of the Julii, the Roman you love to hate! Let’s see, this woman has performed nasty and cruel acts beyond count, mostly involving lurid sexual shenanigans.
She also provides one of my favourite quotes of the week:
Atia, to son Octavian: “You fucked your sister you little pervert!”
Thursday, November 03, 2005
A word from our sponsor
In which only about three people will probably understand this...

This blog is proud to be sponsored by the Guild of Millers. The Guild of Millers uses only the finest ingredients. True Roman bread for true Romans.

Saw 2: A Critical Analysis
In which V. has been to see a film, and is gonna tell you about it.

This afternoon's entertainment was Saw 2. If you saw the original Saw, then you pretty much know what to expect. If you're a fan of films about brutal mindless torture-killing (and yeah, okay, you caught me - I'm a fan), then you won't be disappointed.

(A brief aside here... apparently there are quite a lot of fans of films about brutal mindless torture-killing, judging by the box office performance of Saw 2, and also judging by the trailer for Hostel, which I saw today and am now super-keen to see... more on that to follow.)

Something else interesting I'll point out before I get into the meat and bones of the film (so to speak)... there were about ten other people there besides me, including an elderly couple. I was well impressed. I figure that's going to be me in 50 years, still hobbling into the cinema to see brutal torture-kill films. Rock on, old couple, you're awesome.

Okay so, the topic at hand: Saw 2. You've got Donnie Wahlberg playing a hard-nosed dirty cop, and he plays the role very well and very convincingly. This was kind of surprising to me, as I still picture Donnie Wahlberg as looking like this.

Anyway, Donnie Wahlberg gets involved in the latest Jigsaw Killer murder, and everything goes way out of control from there. This film manages to top its predecessor when it comes to devising incredibly sadistic ways to torture and kill. I think for me (and judging by audience reaction, for most everyone else) the most squeamish bit was when a character is thrown into a pit full of used (and I mean crusty) hypodermic needles and made to look for a key hidden there. The needles were sticking all into her body, and she was plunging her hands into this endless mound of needles and broken glass... ick!

To add to the gross-out factor a bit, the characters have all been exposed to a nerve gas that sort of mimics the symptoms of ebola. So in between bouts of mindless torture-killing, they keep pausing to throw up blood. Awesome!

So yeah, go see this. I mean, erm, if you like that sort of thing. I do. I expect a lot of people don't. I've seen hundreds of horror films in my lifetime... literally probably well over a thousand... and these Saw movies make the short list of the most horribly brutal ones I've come across. They are definitely not for the easily disturbed. And I mean, there's gore, yes, but it's not the gore that gets to you. It's the simple brutality of it all. So consider all of this carefully before you decide to see it or not.

Before I wrap this up, a few words about Hostel, the film I mentioned earlier. It's from the guy who directed Cabin Fever, which I thought was innovative and very well made. The premise of Hostel is that there's a place where people can pay for the privilege of acting out their sickest torture fantasies. That's pretty much the entire gist of the trailer. It looked grim and gritty and incredibly warped, and as mentioned I'm super-keen to see it. Oh hey, I just found this. You can see the trailer for yourself here.

Right then, my work here is done.