Nov 30, 2013

CLOSE CALL


Nov 28, 2013

HAPPY THANKSGIVING: SHITTY FLICKS: BLOOD FREAK

Shitty Flicks is an ongoing column that celebrates the most hilariously incompetent, amusingly pedestrian, and mind-bogglingly stupid movies ever made by people with a bit of money, some prior porn-directing experience, and no clue whatsoever. It is here you will find unrestrained joy in movies meant to terrify and thrill, but instead poke at your funny bone with their weird, mutant, camp-girl penis. 

WARNING: I tend to give away major plot points and twist endings in my reviews because, whatever. Shut up.


If you've ever wanted to see a film in which a man does drugs, eats diseased meat, and turns into a chicken, then, sorry, you're barking up the wrong tree here. Blood Freak is actually about a man who does drugs, eats diseased meat, and turns into a turkey. 

Sure, sure, some of you may argue "tomato tomato" (if you pronounce that second tomato differently), but there is a huge distinction. I mean, would the camera still shake a lot, and unintentionally? Would the acting still be so hideous as to be non-existent? Would the audio still drop out whenever it damn well pleases?

To all of the above, yes.

Then what's the distinction?

All that fucking gobbling, I'd say.

As for the film...

In the world of Blood Freak, drugs are bad, but pot is a-okay. 

"Please don't do any other drugs while you're here," some broad says to some dude at a party before he even takes off his jacket. SHE looks like Peggy Bundy, and HE looks like Elvis. Apart, they're just two people, but together, they are two people really really frightened of the hard stuff. And HE rocks an awesome pompadour. 

She (Angel) leaves and he (Herschell) is left alone with the siren of the party. She compliments him and calls him handsome. "Don't you have a boyfriend?" he retorts. Then he calls her a tramp, because this film is, like, super moral.

Later, Herschell hangs around outside with a bunch of girls who speak like they've just woken up from a coma-dream in which they were sorting periodicals. It's a wild scene, man. They also talk about the Bible a lot.

In fact, I think this whole movie is about the Bible. This movie called Blood Freak.

Pretty far out!

From time to time, The Most Interesting Man In The World, your narrator, shows up to wax philosophic about the events which have transpired so far. Or, you know, whatever he feels like. He has a magical power, which is to look like every father everyone has ever had. He also hearts leisure suits.

"Welcome to my Rec Room of Philosophy."

But then he vanishes into a wisp of haughty air and it's back to the movie. Try to guess what our characters are saying to each other - losers get to keep watching! (Winners go home and fuck the prom queen!)

Herschell mumbles his way into a job at Angel's father's poultry farm, but for the time being the pool is calling him! While there he is mercilessly hit on by Ann, who keeps a Band-Aid tin filled with drugs on her person.

Look out, Herschell! You're at a crossroads! 

"I can do without it, thank you," he says about her pot.

"How could such a big hunk of man be such a damned coward?" she inquires.

Peer pressure has never been so textbook. He accepts the marijuana and filters it through his circulatory system. They pass the joint back and forth several times without saying a fucking thing. And THAT'S when the laughter begins.

HA HA HA HA!

OH, HE HE HA HA!

HA HA HA!

(SNORT)

HAAAAAAAA--

Then sex happens. It's about as hot as you might expect, considering this was 1972 and Herschell looks like Johnny Cash face-pummeled by oil-covered hammers. But mm, boy, do we get to watch it...minute by minute.

"And then he's all like, 'I've got BINDERS full of women! '"

After their tryst, Herschell is back to his own curmudgeonly self. He hops on his motorcycle and metals on over to the poultry farm. All the cocks are gobbling and he likes to get right up in there, finger them, and gobble back. 

Inside, Herschell meets two scientists doing turkey experiments. One of them, a large and in charge fellow named Dr., I dunno, Huge, is clearly in love with Herschell from the start. They explain that Herschell is to do some odd jobs around the farm, and even make a little more money by eating experimental turkeys to "see if there are any side effects," which is something no one would ever ever agree to.

"Okay, it's a deal," says Herschell.

Shit-kicker music soon starts and Herschell finds himself right at home feeding the turkeys and randomly throwing them around. Soon after he's tuckered out and appears violently ill. Ann grows concerned and calls Guy, who is this huge drug guy who likes drugs and has drugs a lot. He brings drugs right over and Herschell goes nutty for them. He smokes and smokes and soon his sweats and shivers go away. But he grabs Guy and threatens to "break every bone in his miserable body" if he doesn't keep him supplied with drugs, since Guy's the one who got him hooked in the first place (even though it was actually Ann).

Ohhhh, I get it. Angel and Ann! Angel didn't want Herschell to do drugs, but Ann did! Ann as in Sat-an!

How subtle!

Later, Herschell eats experimental turkey meat RIGHT in front of the living turkeys because he is a fucking sadist.

Then the following happens:

Herschell falls into a bush.

Herschell has a seizure. 

Herschell temporarily stops having a seizure. 

The scientists discover Herschell suffering from the turkeyhigh and they "dump him" somewhere. Afterwards, they all have a meeting about what they're going to do. Watch as everyone flubs their lines but forges ahead, anyway.

Their plan is: do nothing. 

Time passes, night falls, and Herschell is still having that seizure. It just may be the longest in history. It also kinda looks like air guitar. 

Later that night, I guess, Herschell goes to Ann's house to knock shit off her tables. Then it's revealed that Herschell has a goddamn fucking huge turkey head now. Ann, not the least put-off by his new bird head, immediately begins describing the future they could no longer have, since Herschell is now Turkish. The longest one-sided conversation in history then occurs until it's implied that Herschell and Ann make turkey whoopy, and he gobbles as they touch beaks.

--"I know I asked for some Wild Turkey, but this is ridiculous!"
--"Shut the fuck up, Barry."

Ann calls an emergency meeting with the Allman Brothers to show them Herschell's new look. Herschell enters the scene, shocking music plays, and then I'm...not quite sure what happens, because it cuts immediately to him walking around outside in his big stupid turkey head.

Herschell ends up at some chick's house, so he grabs her from the car and carries her away as she frantically kicks her feet in fear...without making a fucking sound. It's...the most awkward thing I've ever seen. 

Back at the Herschell Intervention where Herschell isn't, Ann and the Allman brothers talk shit out. They bemoan the fact that it was Guy's drugs which made Herschell an addict and that basically this was all Guy's fault.

"The only thing Guy was ever good for was always having drugs," Duane Allman says, apparently completely missing the point of the conversation he's a part of.

"Smoke pot?"
"Well, all right."

"It's not just Herschell's physical appearance that worries me," explains Greg Allman. "It's his head."

"Maybe later, man, I've gotta run to the sto--"
 

Meanwhile, with Herschell, he hangs up the broad he kidnapped to stick her, bleed her out, and drink her drug-addled blood, which he is now addicted to. Another broad happens upon this and hilariously screams the exact same scream, over and over. Apparently the editor only had one scream on file, and so he used it nine fucking times in a row. 

He then discovers a couple in a car doing some unsubtle heroin. The dude giving the chick the injection never even pushes the plunger, but she gets hiiiiiiiiiigh anyway. She immediately becomes Herschell's next victim and we're treated to that same scream again two more times. And since this chick is wearing an American flag pattern blouse, now covered in blood, all I can think is, "Yeah, maaan. America is like...a dead drug addict being sucked off by a mutant turk-man...maaaaaan."

An old guy stumbles upon this scene of a dead American girl, strung upside down and covered in her own blood, and is clearly, openly, obviously smiling. He is soon killed by the giant turkey that is Herschell. 

THEN some overweight dude that must have loved that old man hardcore stumbles across his dead body, flips his shit, and then attacks Herschell, only after repeating some of his own screams. I guess Herschell survives this fight, because after a cut, we see him wandering around a field looking disoriented. 

Meanwhile, Guy must be super terrified of Herschell's threat of bodily harm, because he's meeting his dealer to score some drugs. Once Guy and his dealer meet to make the trade, Guy comes up short because he's a dead beat, so he tells the dealer her can just have Ann, since she's there. The dealer agrees and goes immediately for the tits, to which Ann objects. The dealer runs away in fear and runs afoul of a giant turkey named Herschell, much like we all will when our time is up. The dealer ends up on a table saw and Hershell cuts off one of his feet. As Herschell sits below the stump to be douched with the dealer's blood, and as the dealer screams the same scream over and over, I have to confess that this is probably the most amazing thing I've ever seen in film.

This guy loves the cock.

The film pre-ends with Herschell getting his head cut off by the Allman Brothers, which is substituted with an actual shot of a turkey being beheaded. Because, ya know, we needed that.

And then the film actually ends with the revelation that it was all a dream! And Herschell learns a valuable lesson: It was wrong of him to take recreational drugs in addition to the prescriptions he was receiving at the military hospital after his experiences in Vietnam. They must play Blood Freak at every Congressional hearing as a reminder of what could happen if marijuana were ever legalized nationwide. Better just limit our drugs to prescription only, which, as we all know, has never killed anyone.

At film's honest-to-gosh end, Angel tells Herschell to pray to God and ask Him to increase his faith. And he does. But does God answer?

Probably not, since there's no such thing. 

P.S. At the tail end of the Most Interesting Man In The World's final monologue, you can clearly hear the director call "cut."

That's a good idea!

Nov 26, 2013

PAIN IN THE NECK

Patient who arrived at the hospital with symptoms of pneumonia is given an x-ray, only to discover his neck is full of needles. The patient is a heroin addict who would shoot up into his neck and then pass out or fall asleep, and the needles would break off into his neck.



Nov 25, 2013

CAMPAIGN: SCHOOL OF 1980

The guys who made this...


...are trying to get this off the ground:

In a lawless 1980, in a defeated school, one teacher takes a stand against a vicious, and surprisingly old, gang.

A few years ago...

A time of chaos. America's schools have become battlegrounds.

George Washington High School is a powder keg waiting to explode. The teachers are demoralised by juvenile, crazed gangs protected by liberal lawyers and social workers. It seems no one is strong enough to fight back and give the kids a chance.

Except one teacher. Eve Lamb, battered and almost broken by her last school, is back to bring civilisation to the urban jungle. Eve is back to teach Home Ec. and give those kids a Tomorrow.

All goes fine until Eve crosses top gang THE PUNK ROCKERS and its leader, the apparently 17 year old genius Hans Koontman. Koontman is the dark mirror image of Eve, realising beneath her civilised facade is a born killer. The stage is set for a final confrontation between human dignity and animal savagery.

Only a violent showdown answers the question: who will survive?
School of 1980 is inspired by the harsh urban 80s movies Class of 1984, Mad Max, Assault on Precinct 13 and The Warriors!!   

Why make School of 1980?  

We want to make a film you cannot look away from. A film that grabs you by the throat and makes you watch. The funniest, craziest, fastest ten minutes you've ever seen.  That's all.

All I can say is...I'm in. So hard.

Makelight Productions is launching an Indiegogo Campaign to help fund this project, and they are offering some really fun/cool stuff to those who decide to donate.

You can check out those details here.

To those at Makelight, I wish you great luck with this. I look forward to the final product.

RUN AGAIN!


Nov 24, 2013

FREE MUSIC: OBSIDIAN KINGDOM

Received the below from Obsidian Kingdom. Unfortunately I'm not familiar with them, so I don't know how much of their pure sound is reflected in this remix album. As such, I can't really offer up much of a critique beyond "it's different, but I like it." Give them a whirl if you're feeling curious. If you enjoyed the Sinister soundtrack, these fellows might be up your alley. Plus, free!

We are Obsidian Kingdom, an independent act from Barcelona.

We are currently promoting our latest release, TORN & BURNT - The Mantiis Remixes, which features astounding reworks of seven tracks from MANTIIS, signed by artists as renowned as Oktopus (Dälek), Subheim, Poordream, Necro Deathmort, Jr Morgue, Drumcorps, Larvae and Mothboy.

You are kindly invited to download the digital album from our Bandcamp profile for free; you can also stream it on Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud and every other major online music distributor. 
A limited digipack edition is also available at our online store. The artwork has been curated by Belgian artist and taxidermist Raf Veulemans and Majorcan designer Tomeu Mulet.

Band Name: Obsidian Kingdom
Album Name: TORN & BURNT – The Mantiis Remixes
Year: 2013
Genre: Electronic / Ambient / Experimental
Country: Spain
Tracklist:
01. And Then It Was (Oktopus remix)
02. Last Of The Light (Subheim vs Poordream remix)
03. Awake Until Dawn (Necro Deathmort remix)
04. Fingers In Anguish (Jr Morgue remix)
05. Haunts Of The Underworld (Drumcorps remix)
06. The Nurse (Larvae remix)
07. Answers Revealing (Mothboy remix)

Download

Nov 22, 2013

GATEWAY OF THE MIND

In 1983, a team of deeply pious scientists conducted a radical experiment in an undisclosed facility. The scientists had theorized that a human without access to any senses or ways to perceive stimuli would be able to perceive the presence of God. They believed that the five senses clouded our awareness of eternity, and without them, a human could actually establish contact with God by thought. An elderly man who claimed to have “nothing to left to live for” was the only test subject to volunteer. To purge him of all his senses, the scientists performed a complex operation in which every sensory nerve connection to the brain was surgically severed. Although the test subject retained full muscular function, he could not see, hear, taste, smell, or feel. With no possible way to communicate with or even sense the outside world, he was alone with his thoughts.

Scientists monitored him as he spoke aloud about his state of mind in jumbled, slurred sentences that he couldn’t even hear. After four days, the man claimed to be hearing hushed, unintelligible voices in his head. Assuming it was an onset of psychosis, the scientists paid little attention to the man’s concerns.

Two days later, the man cried that he could hear his dead wife speaking with him, and even more, he could communicate back. The scientists were intrigued, but were not convinced until the subject started naming dead relatives of the scientists. He repeated personal information to the scientists that only their dead spouses and parents would have known. At this point, a sizable portion of scientists left the study.

After a week of conversing with the deceased through his thoughts, the subject became distressed, saying the voices were overwhelming. In every waking moment, his consciousness was bombarded by hundreds of voices that refused to leave him alone. He frequently threw himself against the wall, trying to elicit a pain response. He begged the scientists for sedatives, so he could escape the voices by sleeping. This tactic worked for three days, until he started having severe night terrors. The subject repeatedly said that he could see and hear the deceased in his dreams.

Only a day later, the subject began to scream and claw at his nonfunctional eyes, hoping to sense something in the physical world. The hysterical subject now said the voices of the dead were deafening and hostile, speaking of hell and the end of the world. At one point, he yelled “No heaven, no forgiveness” for five hours straight. He continually begged to be killed, but the scientists were convinced that he was close to establishing contact with God.

After another day, the subject could no longer form coherent sentences. Seemingly mad, he started to bite off chunks of flesh from his arm. The scientists rushed into the test chamber and restrained him to a table so he could not kill himself. After a few hours of being tied down, the subject halted his struggling and screaming. He stared blankly at the ceiling as teardrops silently streaked across his face. For two weeks, the subject had to be manually re-hydrated due to the constant crying. Eventually, he turned his head and, despite his blindness, made focused eye contact with a scientist for the first time in the study. He whispered “I have spoken with God, and he has abandoned us” and his vital signs stopped. There was no apparent cause of death.


Story source.

Nov 21, 2013

REVIEW: THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF EDGAR SWITCHBLADE #1: KRAMPUS UNMERCIFUL


My pal Lonesome Wyatt is one prolific fellow. The front man for Those Poor Bastards and The Holy Spooks never seems to slow down. And that's good for all of us. Following the release of his recent Halloween album (more on that here), Lonesome Wyatt is now presenting us with another adventure for his creation Edgar Switchblade, who appeared for the first time (in a "literary" sense) in the novel The Terrible Tale of Edgar Switchblade).

And now, just in time for the forthcoming holidays, comes Edgar's first audio-only adventure: Krampus Unmerciful.
Edgar Switchblade and Old Red are back for a revolting holiday horror blood bath of doom. Join them in their first audio adventure as they meet the legendary yuletide monster, Krampus. Hear them torture and punish the wicked ones on a dark and stinking Christmas Eve.
Krampus is an under-explored mythological being, so it's always welcome to see him pop up in the most unexpected of places. According to Wiki:
Krampus is a beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish children during the Yule season who had misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved ones with gifts. Krampus is said to capture particularly naughty children in his sack and carry them away to his lair.  Krampus is represented as a beast-like creature, generally demonic in appearance. ... There are many names for Krampus, as well as many regional variations in portrayal and celebration.


Krampus Unmerciful is just about as enjoyably fucked up as you can get, and in typical Edgar Switchblade style, nothing is left to the imagination. The story starts off with the titular character and his faithful horse, Red, enjoying a holiday dinner of dead children and boiled blood, before Edgar gives Red a gift: a bout of severed tongues excised from the mouths of the blasphemous. During this, Krampus comes to them and basically asks if they would do him a solid and help him slay the wicked that night. Edgar and Red oblige, because, of course they do, and off they go! Through the eyes of Edgar Switchblade, perfectly normal homes decked out with Christmas decor and effigies to Santa come across as satanic and offensive. Baby Jesuses are vomited on and little boys are decapitated. And that's just the first house!

Krampus Unmerciful is flat-out mean-spirited, but in the best possible way. It's the attack on traditional Christmas we all kind of wish would happen. (I know I do.) Not since Richard Lynch fired rocket launchers at Christmas trees in Invasion U.S.A. has an assault against December 25th been so over the top, ridiculous, and strangely satisfying. Running at a brisk fifteen minutes, Edgar Switchblade's latest adventure is brief, but packs a lot of gruesome grue into its running time. The violence wrought upon everyone Krampus, Edgar, and Red come across is unyielding but always absurdly entertaining in the way that Lonesome Wyatt has perfected. It's not a bleak little tale, however; the tone is consistently light, despite the gooey subject matter.

Impressively, the limited-run special edition vinyl of this adventure (available in red and green) is now sold out, and the thing doesn't even officially street until December 3rd. Luckily, digital downloads are infinite, so on that day you can head over to Tribulation Recording and grab your own. Also stop by Lonesome Wyatt on Facebook to share in the exuberance amongst his thousands of fans.

Lonesome Wyatt is slowly worming his way into my holiday traditions. Ghost Ballads has kept me company while I waited all year for that magical day of tricks and treats, and only last month was I also given Halloween is Here. Not satisfied with dominating October, it looks like Lonesome Wyatt has given me something wicked and wild to enjoy every Christmas season as well.

Nov 20, 2013

ST. BARTHOLOMEW

A statue of St. Bartholomew, an early Christian martyr who was skinned. If you look closely, you’ll notice (in the statue) that’s not a robe, but actually his removed skin hanging around him. 
 
by Marco d’Agrate, 1562
 (Duomo cathedral, Milan-Italy)

Nov 18, 2013

MELVIN

I used to be a ventriloquist. I auditioned for the 4th grade talent show at my school and I won with my pal, Slappy. In 5th grade, I wanted a better dummy. So at an antique mall, I found Melvin. He has real hair and these icy blue eyes that move side to side. They seem to pierce your soul. This will scare those bastards at school.

We auditioned and won again. Melvin was more popular than Slappy, and I got to sign a kid's forehead last year!

After that, me and Mel started an internet series that is still on YouTube. But a few years ago I gave up ventriloquism.

It could be due to my loss of popularity or my lack of joke-writing ability. Or it could be because of the nightmares.

Every few nights I'd wake up in a cold sweat with chills running down my spine. In the nightmares, Melvin would mutilate my family members and say it was because he wasn't getting what he wanted. I started to go mad. I heard voices in my head after that. Melvin's voice, telling me what a worthless piece of shit I was, and how I was only something because he let me be something. I was alive because he let me live.

I made the mistake of telling my family. They took me to a therapist. But when that didn't work, they put Melvin under the house, in the crawlspace. That only made things worse. Melvin's face would appear in my dreams with his twisted grin and piercing blue eyes. He'd open his big red mouth and release a garbled, high-pitched laugh, like an action figure whose batteries were dying. Then blood would flood out. My family began to worry for my mental health, but I knew why this was. It was because Melvin wasn't getting what he wanted.

A month later, I found him in the crawlspace. The voice in my head was going mad. Melvin was furious with me and he threatened to kill my family and make me watch. I pleaded with him to change his mind. I told him I'd do anything if he'd change his mind. He told me he wouldn't kill them...if I did.

I tied him up and put him in a trunk, which I tucked away in the basement. I knew the nightmares would continue, but I had to protect my family.

The next day my therapist asked me to bring Melvin to her. I did so, believing she could stop Melvin. But when I got Melvin out, I set him on the couch next to me, and he opened his mouth and a siren wailed out of it. Meanwhile she told me Melvin was just a dummy and it was all in my head. I started screaming and she ran out of the room to get help. Meanwhile, me and Mel sat on the couch screaming.

So now I'm in the hospital receiving treatment. I don't know what happened to Melvin after my "episode." My family probably got rid of him. I still have nightmares about him. Blood flooding from his mouth, from behind his piercing blue eyes. The doctors keep telling me it's all in my head. I started to believe them. Until I got the news.

My family was dead.

Source.

Nov 17, 2013

TEOS RECOMMENDS: LORD OF TEARS

 

Available now in an unorthodox but attractive little package is filmmaker Lawrie Brewster's Lord of Tears, a bizarre tale about a man named James revisiting his childhood home after the death of his mother in order to confront the nightmares he has about having lived there in his youth. These nightmares seem to be focused around a mysterious figure with the head and claws of an owl but the body of a (suited) man. Though his mother's final letter written to her son beg him never to go there, James goes anyway in an attempt to make sense of his nightmares. While there, he meets a stranger named Evie, an American living abroad and traveling the world. Together they delve into the mystery surrounding the house and James' nightmares of the Owl Man.


It's been a few days since I watched my copy of Lord of Tears, kindly sent to me by its creator, but I'm still having trouble putting into words exactly what it is I watched. Though its set-up is similar to another recent film called The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh, in which a son goes to the house of his recently deceased mother and finds himself caught in a nightmare, the similarities end there after their fairly straightforward first acts. After that, Lord of Tears becomes this...thing. It involves ritualistic sacrifice, blood history, beheading, and that friggin' creepy Owl Man. I applaud any reviewer out there who attempts to break down and analyze Lord of Tears beyond what is simply presented on screen. That's certainly not for me to attempt, so I'll just leave that lie for now.

Lord of Tears is not for the impatient viewer. Brewester sprinkles in a few creepy and/or jarring scenes here and there to keep you on your toes, but until the last act, Lord of Tears is about this lonely man named James (Euen Douglas) investigating an old house and getting to know the flamboyant and mysterious Evie Turner (the incredibly beautiful Lexy Hulme). There is a nice feeling of dread draped over everything, and the occasional glimpse of the Owl Man certainly keeps you guarded, but Lord of Tears is not your traditional horror film. Brewster's purposeful homage/ode to old school Gothic horror and the works of H.P. Lovecraft are certainly palpable, but they are also an acquired taste, especially in today's fast-paced, quick-cut world.

One of the many pitfalls of low budget film-making (and an easy target) is the acting, especially in films like this in which there are very few characters. Unfortunately, the performances from our two leads range from inconsistent to not great. Scenes in which they share dialogue do not feel natural; in fact, they feel strangely awkward and uncomfortable, as if the two actors never found their natural rhythm with each other. This isn't really detrimental, thankfully, as so much of the film is dedicated to establishing mood and trying to make you feel uneasy, but it's unfortunate all the same.

I would, however, like to applaud Brewster on his tremendous and interesting direction. Lord of Tears has some legitimately creepy moments - some that may come to a surprise if you have the same kind of natural prejudice against low budget horror that I do. (Can't help it, I've seen too much crap in my time.) But Brewster stages several different scenes and uses something as simple as a halfway open door, or an overflowing bathtub, to make his audience feel uneasy. Though there are some unusual choices (the two very random dance sequences; certain scenes that go on for longer than they should), Brewster still directs the hell out of this thing. 


Despite my misgivings with the performances and with certain creative choices, I still recommend Lord of Tears. Fans of The Wicker Man or The Dunwich Horror should definitely check it out. 



Nov 16, 2013

HIGH-CHAIR

A young couple were waiting impatiently to leave on their first vacation since the baby was born but the woman’s aunt, who would be babysitting, was thirty minutes late. The young woman called her elderly aunt to find out what was going on, and the old woman apologized for her forgetfulness, and said she’d speed right over. Since the aunt was only a couple miles away, the couple decided they’d go ahead and go rather than wait for her and risk missing their flight.  
Two weeks later when the couple returned they were horrified to find the baby still in its high-chair where they’d left it, except now it was dead and bloated, covered with flies. The aunt really had sped, and unfortunately crashed and died before she made it over.


Image source.

Nov 14, 2013

DON'T LOOK BEHIND YOU

In the town where I lived, there was an abandoned apartment with two floors. It had broken windows and dirty, crumbling walls, so no locals would ever go near it.

One day, me and my friend decided to explore the place. It was still early in the afternoon and there was a lot of light, so we ventured to the second floor.

And there on one of the doors we found some graffiti.

We went closer to have a look and found some words that said: “I am in the room ahead.”

We decided to go through the door.

We walked until we reached a fork and on the wall it said: “I am on the left.”

We were getting slightly scared but decided to turn left.

Then we came to the place where there were rooms on both sides of us.

And on the wall it said, “My head is on the left and my body is on the right.”

My friend, as soon as he saw it, lost nerve and ran away. But I decided to stay and, mustering all my courage, walked through the door on the right. I walked to the farthest wall in the room and on the wall it said: “My body is underneath.” 
I looked down and on the floor it said: “My head is coming here from the room on the left. Don’t look behind you.”

Nov 13, 2013

I WANT!


Oh, boy, do I ever...

Mondo poster by Jock. 18"x36" screen print. Hand numbered. Edition of 350. Printed by D&L Screenprinting. $45 (On sale at Halloween: 35 Years of Terror event).

UNSUNG HORRORS: STAKE LAND

Every once in a while, a genuinely great horror movie—one that would rightfully be considered a classic, had it gotten more exposure and love at the box office—makes an appearance. It comes, no one notices, and it goes. But movies like this are important. They need to be treasured and remembered. If intelligent, original horror is supported, then that's what we'll begin to receive, in droves. We need to make these movies a part of the legendary genre we hold so dear. Because these are the unsung horrors. These are the movies that should have been successful, but were instead ignored. They should be rightfully praised for the freshness and intelligence and craft that they have contributed to our genre. 

 So, better late than never, we’re going to celebrate them now… one at a time.

Dir. Jim Mickle
2010
Dark Sky Films / Glass Eye Pix
United States


"Months passed in a blur of days and nights. We traveled east and west, but always north. Away from death. We avoided the cities. Mister said they were the worst, hit the hardest in the beginning. As people flocked together for safety, the plague marched through their locked gates and they became death traps. When Washington fell, it was over for America as we knew her. As government blew away, our great leaders ran for it. And hope was abandoned. We were on our own now."


Vampires!

No, don't run. Seriously. I know, I know – plagiarist Mormon authors and NBC have turned our vampires into dapper-dressed James Bond supervillains. These new vamps woo, smolder, sparkle, and play baseball. They go to their classes even though they're dead and are therefore (mostly) incapable of achieving the American dream. If you've got a brain in that there skull of yours, I don't have to tell you vampires were fucking scary once. They were ratlike skeletal albinos with ten-inch fingers. There are parts of the world that still believe in them – that still bury their dead beneath wrought-iron cages to prevent them from coming out of the ground for a midnight snack. Thankfully there are people out there who know this and make their fanged nemeses nasty, vicious, and hideous. These monsters don't imprint on babies – they suck the blood from them and toss them onto the ground before they're onto their next pulsing target.

Enter Stake Land, the second collaboration from film-making partners Nick Damici (actor/co-writer) and Jim Mickle (co-writer/director), following their second equally great and equally unheralded Mulberry Street. Theirs is a film that played the festival circuit for a year or so before being quietly released onto video in 2010. A cast of familiar faces and not-so-familiar faces works well alongside the assured, pensive, bloody, and melancholic direction. It is a pastiche of the post-apocalyptic wasteland made mainstream by the Mad Max trilogy, combined with sensibilities of the western's lone-rider. and lastly, the good, old fashioned vampire.


Martin (Connor Paolo, Mystic River), while his family packs to hit the road in hopes of avoiding this new strange outbreak plaguing the country (or world?), watches as all of them are suddenly and viciously attacked by vampires. His own number is nearly up before a stranger called only Mister (Nick Damici, World Trade Center) springs up out of nowhere and saves Martin's life. Now with no one to look out for him, Mister takes Martin out on the road with him, preparing him for a life of fending off not only vampires, but "The Brotherhood" – a group of nutty humans who believe that the vampires are God's way of bringing about end times, and therefore want the vamps to succeed. (You mean humans are worse than the monsters? Romero would be proud.) Along the way, Martin and Mister meet other lost souls looking to make sense of this new world they had no idea they were inheriting. Among them are Sister (Kelly McGillis, Top Gun), a nun attacked and possibly raped by the cannibals; Belle, (Danielle Harris, the Halloween series), a very pregnant bar maid who seems more lost than any of them; and Willie (Sean Nelson, The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3), a former Marine. These five homeless and nearly hopeless individuals come together to form the closest idea of a family that can be formed here in this new world called Stake Land and attempt to forge ahead and make it the alleged last safe zone in the country called New Eden.


Stake Land will feel very familiar if you have seen the 2009 film adaptation of The Road, but that's not to say Stake Land is unoriginal or disingenuous. No, tales of the apocalypse have been explored in every medium for as long as existence of the realization that our time here on earth is limited, and as such these tales are bound to share common themes and tropes. Stake Land presents you with dirty bands of people in ragged clothing foraging for food and consumables to help them on the road; two groups of people - the good and the bad, one trying to survive, and the other trying to make it so no one can; and most importantly, the underlying message that even the most hopeless should never give up hope. Though Stake Land shares this last bit with The Road strictly thematically, it also shares John Hillcoat's pretty and philosophical direction. Though Stake Land is an ugly story about living in an ugly world, director Jim Mickle never fails to make it picturesque. Sweeping shots of untouched naturescape and close-ups of wheat billowing in the breeze reinforces this idea that it's not the world which makes humanity ugly, but the human race – that we like to think we're merely an unfortunate byproduct of our environment, but that we're actually a product of our own deep-seated selfishness and evil. (More on that in a bit.)

Mickle and Co. have a assembled a hell of a cast here. Nick Damici's Mister is the true Clint Eastwood/Man-With-No-Name archetype (hence his "name" being Mister). His history is vague, almost non-existent; there is a darkness to him, but also a light when he thinks no one might be looking. I always like seeing the dark and brooding hero/heroine enjoy a private moment to surrender to human goodness and smile or laugh. Mister isn't a barrel of laughs, but there is a certain kindness to him somewhere underneath that filthy and silent hero. He's not optimistic about the future, but it's not in him to steal that optimism from anyone else.


Conor Paolo as Martin has the task of not only experiencing these strange events and reacting realistically to them, but because he is also the narrator, it's his job to catch up the audience on the past and present. It's not a personal diary so much as it is a relay of information. His thoughts are stripped of any kind of emotion, as that is saved strictly for the on-screen action.

Our supporting cast is wonderful. Kelly McGillis' career seems to be enjoying a second life, working with some pretty exciting names in the world of independent horror. Along with this, she has appeared in Ti West's excellent The Innkeepers, and appears in Mickle's upcoming remake of the Spanish film We Are What We Are. Her first appearance is as a frantic woman dressed in torn and bloody nun robes, fleeing from a group of maniacal men. After Mister saves her, she becomes mother to both him and Martin. Their relationship is enforced only by the audience's desire to see them all overcome the horrid shit going on around them and allow them to find each other, and for them to desire each other's love and comfort as much as we want them to obtain it. She's the glue that holds all this together and makes it possible.

With Danielle Harris' turn as the pregnant Belle, she holds her own against her counterparts, all with a prosthetic baby belly shoved inside her wardrobe. Her performance benefits from the fact that the horror community already loves her – we've been watching her run for her life since her debut as Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers – although she would have been just as fine without it. She's endearing and lovable, and the quasi puppy dog crush Martin has on her makes us care about both of them just a little bit more. (And c'mon...who wouldn't fall in love with Danielle Harris?)


This recent movement – this living painting approach to film-making – may not be new in its execution, but it perhaps has never been as beautiful. By this I mean the aforementioned The Road, or The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, or pretty much all of Terrence Malick's filmography, who is thankfully back in a big way. Lesser known filmmakers with lower budgets are starting to take notice. Between John Geddes' Exit Humanity, Gareth Edwards' Monsters, and now Stake Land, I'm delighted to see this approach taking root in the horror genre. Because horror, despite all the dripping and the wounds and the blood, can be gorgeous. Your characters are allowed to be pensive, and to wonder or philosophize. They're allowed to be more than just the end result of their nightmarish world. These filmmakers allow their cameras to settle on some piece of oft ignored iconography, complemented by either their off-screen narrators or musical score.

Speaking of music, it was wise to bring aboard composer Jeff Grace, who takes after his fearless leader and fashions his score around those created by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis for the two films earlier mentioned. The Road and Assassination had many scenes of introspection where the silent images onscreen did the only talking, and so the music had to be more than just background. Likewise, in Stake Land, the music knows when to heighten the vampire carnage, or when to be the driving force and propel the imagery of mountains and sky into your head and heart.

While Stake Land contains some pretty heavy sociopolitical themes, it seems to be even less happy with religion – or at least what we as people have let religion become. As one character commits suicide before a crucified scarecrow (calling it Father) begging for forgiveness, or one particular mutant vampire discloses that it prayed for salvation but instead became a monster, Stake Land isn't so much as condemning religion as it is as warning you to use it to complement your life – not let it rule who you are. Religion as a whole has been bastardized. Once originally looked upon to unite communities, it instead has made us perfect strangers – foolish for believing in a higher power, or heartless and doomed for not. We have our beliefs and our faith – some of us hold onto it, and so it remains intimate – but some of us believe our beliefs and faith are right and definitive, and those who do not share those same are damned, and will bring damnation to others.


Stake Land doesn't want to just give you a cheap thrill with monstrous vampire faces and shooting blood. An exaggerated future, yes, but the whole humans-unable-to-coexist-with-other-humans thing? That's not exactly something out of the realm of possibility. We can't elect government officials without slinging death threats and constructing racial epithets on our lawns. We can't drive by a lawn adorned with the nativity at Christmas time without making a wry comment or joking about stealing the Jesus. Comedians ridicule certain religions while TV pundits sweepingly label others as evil. We have become ugly. We haven't yet sprouted fangs, but we drain the life from each other all the time. Fox News goes for jugular, as does MSNBC. The only hope for salvation we have are ourselves. Therefore, there is no hope.

Have a nice day!

Nov 11, 2013

MURDER HOUSE

The Murder House: Is site of decades-old murder haunted?
June 30, 1987 marks the 25-year-old gruesome murder of a Boise man. Some say the victim's home still serves as a haunting reminder of his violent death.

It happened off Broadway Avenue in a house that stands out, both for its size and architectural styling, but some say it's what happened inside those walls that makes it infamous.

Neighbors woke up to a trail of blood splattered on the porch, sidewalk, and their front door. Investigators traced the blood to the basement where Preston Murr was shot and hacked into 13 pieces.

A week later, parts of his body surfaced more than 100 miles away in Brownlee Reservoir. Now the rumor is that this 21-year-old man will forever haunt this home, but even non-believers agree it's created one of Boise's most infamous urban legends.

"Living there, I really don't feel that I was ever afraid or felt it was haunted, but there are so many stories that everyone is convinced that it is," said Deann Davis, who lived in the so called "Murder House" with her two daughters, Kerra and Searra.

"Every once in a while, you get that one person that's, 'It's this house? No, I am not going. No I am not going,' " Kerra said.

"It looks like a feral animal. Something really pretty, but no one wants to go near it," Searra said.

For Davis and her daughters living at this home was for the most part normal.

"I am not uneasy in the house. I am not afraid at any time. I don't feel somebody there is watching me. I have never experienced doors open when I shut them and I never heard people walking on the stairs when there was nobody," Deann said.

However, they said something wasn't quite right.

"I feel there is something kind of there kind of not. When I went into the basement it was dark and I was scared and when I go in there was like 'Get me out! Get me out!' cause I felt there was something there and I don't want to go near it," Hale said.

Court documents only tell us that Murr was at his home basement with Daniel Rogers and Daron Cox when, for an unknown reason, an argument broke out and Murr was shot in the shoulder.

Bleeding profusely, Murr ran outside to a neighbor's home, pounding and smearing blood on the front door while telling his attackers to let him go. A neighbor called 911 and witnessed a man being dragged back to the home.

"OK, what's the problem there?" asked the dispatcher with Ada County.

"Uh, I don't know. A couple of guys came up and beat on the door and uh I went out and looked and there's some blood on the door it looks like," said the neighbor.

"OK. Can you see them down the street at all?" asked the dispatcher.

"Uh there looks like something is going on in the house across the street," the neighbor said.

Police said Murr was forced back into the basement and shot in the head by Daniel Rogers. Court documents also reveal Daron Cox helped Rogers in the dismemberment of Murr's body.

So, how does it feel to be in the home knowing what you know about the house?

"It feels like it is someone else's place. You have got this uneasy feeling about it," Deanne said.

Murr's death created a haunted legend.

The two-story structure is now known as "The Murder House" drawing attention and visitors from all over. It's something Deann and her daughters are familiar with.

"A lot of people are very afraid of that house and some swear it is haunted and I have had so many people come by and want tours of that house, " she said.

A jury convicted Rogers of first degree murder. He's now at the Idaho Correctional Center serving a life sentence. His parole was last denied back in 2005.

Daron Cox was convicted of being an accomplice to murder and spent six years behind bars.

As for the house, the current owner, who is related to Daniel Rogers by a past marriage, wouldn't let KBOI 2News inside the home, nor local paranormal experts. He says his house is not haunted and at this point we may never know.
 
 

Nov 10, 2013

FACES IN THE WATER

James Courtney and Michael Meehan, crew members of the S.S. Watertown, were cleaning a cargo tank of the oil tanker as it sailed toward the Panama Canal from New York City in December of 1924. Through a freak accident, the two men were overcome by gas fumes and killed. As was the custom of the time, the sailors were buried at sea off the Mexican coast on December 4. 
But this was not the last the remaining crew members were to see of their unfortunate shipmates. The next day, before dusk, the first mate reported seeing the faces of the two men in the waves off the port side of the ship. They remained in the water for 10 seconds, then faded. For several days thereafter, the phantom-like faces of the sailors were clearly seen by other members of the crew in the water following the ship. 
On arrival in New Orleans, the ship’s captain, Keith Tracy, reported the strange events to his employers, the Cities Service Company, who suggested he try to photograph the eerie faces. Captain Tracy purchased a camera for the continuing voyage. When the faces again appeared in the water, Captain Tracy took six photos, then locked the camera and film in the ship’s safe. When the film was processed by a commercial developer in New York, five of the exposures showed nothing but sea foam. But the sixth showed the ghostly faces of the doomed seamen. The negative was checked for fakery by the Burns Detective Agency. After the ship’s crew had been changed, there were no more reports of sightings.

Nov 8, 2013

AN OPEN LETTER TO DAN AYKROYD RE: GHOSTBUSTERS 3

Dear Mr. Aykroyd:

First off, I love you. I really do. I can only thank you for having given the world my top-two favorite comedies: The Blues Brothers, and Ghostbusters. No matter what you do in the rest of your career, and no matter how many Yogi Bears you make, it doesn’t matter. It’s because of you that I can’t drive by a strip mall, look to my passenger, and in the flattest voice possible, point at said strip mall and say, “Pier One Imports.” If my passenger is worth a damn, the inevitable response will be, “This place has got everything.”

The trend for the last fifteen years or so has been remakes. And the trend from the last ten has been resurrecting old and established properties for sequels that no one asked for, and the movie-going populace didn’t need. Lord Beard himself proved that you can’t go home again with the abysmal Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Ridley Scott parted audiences like Moses at the Red Sea with his bizarre prequel/not-prequel to Alien with the cinematic oddity Prometheus. Perpetual sourpuss Bruce Willis is willing to turn John McClane into some bald, quiet, bored-looking dude who seriously, in this photo, looks exactly like my father:


His most recent turn in A Good Day to Die Hard resulted in – no hyperbole – one of the worst films I’ve ever seen – and it’s tremendously depressing, seeing as how I also cite the original Die Hard as one of my favorite all-timers.

So, let me just get right to the point: I think Ghostbusters 3 is kind of a bad idea. That’s first thing. Is it possible that it could be as good – or better – than the first film? Of course it’s possible. But is it likely? No. It’s really not. Magic happens with films like that. Cast and crew click. Audiences are at the right place, time, age, mind frame, etc. Ghostbusters plays as well as it ever did, but it couldn’t be done again with the same kind of humor and cast that made it work – not today. Modern audiences today don’t like jokes about Twinkies and weird, weird lines like “dogs and cats living together – MASS HYSTERIA!” They can’t understand the genius absurdity about commands like “If someone asks you if you’re a god, you say YES.” Because audiences today are very dumb. They need cheap and easy jokes about celebrities and Twitter. They need stunt-casting cameos and references to Red Bull. They need “comedies” that spoof other, better comedies. To cater a script to that sensibility is to change everything about the first film that worked and made it special. And this is where we go from "kind of" a bad idea to "emphatically and without question" a terrible idea.

I’ll break it down in the simplest of terms:

You want to make a Ghostbusters 3 that captures the spirit of the original while also attracting younger "hipper" audiences.

The spirit of the original includes the presence of Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, and William Atherton, for starters.

Now, you tell me: can you think, honestly, of any 12-16 year old that has any fucking idea who any of those people are? If you stopped any one of them at the box office as they purchased their tickets for this proposed Ghostbusters 3 and requested they give you their favorite Walter Peck quote, would they have any idea what you were talking about?

No – so why are you trying, dude?

Though I can understand this new "skew everything younger!" approach, I think this idea that these kinds of films need to stick “new blood” and “a younger cast” into the proceedings in order to appeal to the younger demographic (and the majority of your ticket buyers) is kind of piteous and sad. I know film audiences have changed since the 1980s. They’ve gotten younger, more tech savvy, and apparently much easier to please. This can be the only explanation as to why those Epic Movie guys still have any clout whatsoever. Let’s just call it for what it is: “younger” audiences have shitty shitty taste.

I read with interest/disinterest a casting rumor that Emma Stone and Jonah Hill may be joining the long-gestating Ghostbusters 3 in unspecified roles. In theory, I’ve got no qualm with either of these actors. Emma Stone is that rare good actress who actually understands comedy, ironically proven by her spot-on Janine Melnitz impression in the Ghostbusters scene of Zombieland. Plus, she’s a cutie patootie. As for Hill, I’ll admit, even though I wanted to strangle him every moment he was on screen in Super Bad, he’s quite hilarious when he tones it down, and his recent dramatic turns in Money Ball and The Wolf of Wall Street proves he’s got chops.

But whatever potential for laughs and quality I see in these names is quickly eclipsed by one simple realization: I love the Ghostbusters and its admittedly inferior but still solid sequel, because of YOU, and Murray, and Ramis, and Ernie Fucking Hudson. All four of you shared tremendous on-screen chemistry, and all of your different approaches to comedy meshed well and created a rock-solid team. Granted, Bill Murray has since become some sort of demigod for his eccentric behavior and his unwillingness to conform to any kind of standard (plus that really amusing “and no one will ever believe you” urban legend), so you could argue that if audiences had only one reason to be interested in a Ghostbusters 3, it would be because of him. And that’s not to diminish the value that you other three gents would bring to the project, but we have to be realistic. He is the draw. A third film would suck without any one of the four original 'Busters, but it would really suck without Murray. And from what I understand, he seems to have no interest in slipping on that Proton pack for one more go-around.


A nasty rumor circulated a year or so ago that suggested Murray had sent you the proposed Ghostbusters 3 script shredded to bits with a note that said no one wanted to see fat old men chasing ghosts. You told us not to believe he’d do such a thing, so I won’t believe it. A curmudgeon he may be, I don’t see him being that vicious. Besides, he’s kind of wrong. (Just kind of.)

The cynic in me says not to be at all interested in Ghostbusters 3 so long as this “young cast” angle is explored. But, if tomorrow, a new announcement was released saying that all four original ‘Busters were confirmed, and the “young cast” angle was being tossed in favor of a new approach that leaves the focus on the original guys, then the child in me could not help but be excited.

Simply put: Ghostbusters 3 is a risk, but I’d be open to it...if it’s the four original guys – yes, with the inevitable fat and bald and sore-back jokes. That’s fine, I’ll take it. You’ve at least got me interested.

But Ghostbusters 3 with a hipper, younger cast? So during the film one of them can reference Instagram and Egon can say “Insta-what?” and stupid audiences can laugh because OLD?

That’s not something I’m interested in seeing. Not in the least. And don't even get me started on the whole "passing of the torch" thing you've mentioned before, which implies that the Ghostbusters franchise will continue on past Part 3 to feature a bunch of kids in the starring roles, while you original guys take a backseat to them to play the old dudes behind the counter at Ray's Occult or something. Can I just say, right now, fuck that so hard?

Now, who am I to even think I have any say at all? Allow me to dispel any grand illusion I have of myself: I'm a big fucking steaming pile of nobody. I'm some dude who owns the movies on DVD and somewhere has an original poster for the first film. That's...really it. I'm just a fan. Overly protective and perhaps pompous, but, a fan I remain.

I'm just concerned, is all.

Listen, I can understand the temptation right now. Tough love stipulates I say this, and I’m sorry to sound callous: It’s not the '80s anymore. Things aren’t as golden as they used to be. The most high-profile gig you’ve had for a while now has been voicing a CGI bear, plus you’ve got your vodka and aliens. Ramis directs from time to time, and Ernie Hudson, well…he really really needs this. You all need this – I get it. The money, oh I know, it’s just sitting right there in the devil’s briefcase, open and glowing and waiting to be plucked like a virgin on prom night.

And Ghostbusters is that one property that’s all yours, that still has an audience of devouts who care for it and are irrationally thinking any kind of Ghostbusters 3 is a good idea without putting actual thought into what the might be getting. That kind of irrational hope comes bundled with nostalgia and tied with a ribbon of ignorance. "Ghostbusters 3 is a great idea since the first one is awesome and I love it." But the world doesn't work that way. For instance (sorry), Blues Brothers 2000 is a piece of shit. You put a kid in there to mix things up and it sucked hardcore.

Now you want to use multiple kids.

Please don’t do it.


JUST IN CASE...


Nov 7, 2013

RESOURCEFUL

In the winter of 1944, with overtaxed supply lines in the Ardennes, a combat medic in the German army had completely run out of plasma, bandages and antiseptic. During one particularly bad round of mortar fire, his encampment was a bloodbath. Those who survived claimed to have heard, above the screams and barked commands of their Lieutenant, someone cackling with an almost otherworldly glee.

The combat medic had made his rounds during the fire, in almost complete darkness as he had so many times before, but never had he been this short on supplies. No matter. He would do his duty. He had always prided himself on his resourcefulness.

The bombardment moved to other ends of the line, and most men dropped off to sleep in the dark, still hours of the morning – New Year’s Day, 1945. The men awoke at first light with screams. They discovered that their bandages were not typical bandages at all, but strips of human flesh. Several men had been given fresh blood transfusions, yet there had been no blood supplies available. Each treated man was almost completely covered, head-to-toe, with the maroon stain of blood.

The combat medic was found, sitting on an ammunition tin, staring off into space. When one man approached him, and tapped him on the shoulder, his tunic fell off to reveal that large patches of his skin, muscle, and sinew had been stripped from his torso and his body was almost completely dried of blood. In one hand was a scalpel, and in the other, a blood transfusion vial. None of the men treated for wounds that night, in that camp, saw the end of January, 1945.