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A rake at the gates of Hell
 
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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 20 most recent ones recorded in Mechanical Candle's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, December 19th, 2013
9:40 am
"Sweetheart, you can't buy the necessities of life with cookies."
Yeah, yeah, I know it's late, but I did it would be this Thursday, and did you really think there was any chance we wouldn't have a Christmas-themed movie night this week?

So, after realizing that I don't own Die Hard (and it's not on Netflix? WTH?) and discovering last night that Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 truly deserves its reputation as one of the worst films ever... because it's about 80% boring as hell, we're left with two Christmas traditions unscreened. Yes, ladies and gents, it looks like it's going to be a Tim Burtony Christmas.

The Edward Gorey Tribute: The Nightmare Before Christmas (76 minutes, 1993) OK, it's not really an Edward Gorey tribute, but it certainly feels like it. The third Christmas film that Tim Burton "made" in a row (despite being perhaps the most Tim Burtony thing on earth, he only wrote and produced, and didn't direct, due to conflicts with Batman Returns) and is easily the most concerned with the reason for the season. A lengthy, if somewhat kid-friendly contemplation on cultural misunderstandings and translational mixups, it also contains a singing bag of neon-colored maggots that tries to kill Santa Claus. Jack Skellington, the closest that Halloween had to a "Santa" mascot (until Trick 'r Treat gave us Sam), is the lord of Halloweentown, the location in charge of all spooking and scares for October the 31st. After the yearly frightfest, Jack, having become successful enough to feel malaise, stumbles upon Christmas's similarly-themed dimension and hatches a plan. Although created at the Disney studios, it was originally judged too scary to be part of the Disney Animated Features cannon. Although never really released from the extended-cannon-ghetto since then, Jack Skellington and Halloweentown have become regular features at Disney, appearing alongside Mickey, Snow White, etc., in videogames, parades, Disney attractions, and the like. More importantly, it was a relatively kid-safe antidote to the yearly Christmas treacle of talking dogs and reformed Scrooges. (Alongside The original Grinch, about which I will hear no objections.)

WARNING: Musical

The Vincent Price Tribute: Edward Scissorhands (1990, 105 minutes) Any of Burton's recent sins ( the treacle-y Alice, the empty Dark Shadows) are forever excused because of his treatment of Vincent Price in this film. Burton specifically wrote the part of the eccentric hilltop inventor for his idol, which turned out to be the ailing Price's last onscreen role. (He did a little voice work for cartoons later.) Though brief, Price was always very grateful for the part, and it could be seen as returning the favor Price did years earlier for voicing the animated short of the young animator. At any rate, Edward Scissorhands. Set around Christmas, introducing the world to the real weirdness of Johnny Depp, and inadvertently doing for pale, introverted, makeup-wearing goth kids what Twilight would do for pale, introverted, makeup-wearing emo kids twenty years later. (...all just another case of history repeating...) Depp, starring as a nearly-silent, socially awkward cross between Frankenstein's Monster and a robot, is discovered living in a shadowy corner of David Lynch's Blue Velvet town, and is adopted into this cartoonish stereotype of suburbia. His occasionally tragic, frequently funny attempts to fit in (or at least remain unnoticed) become a lengthy metaphor for every tragically misunderstood teenager who ever listened to The Cure. (Edward's look was actually based on Robert Smith, who was offered the soundtrack. Smith was in the middle of Disintegration and turned it down.) Humor aside, the film has become a weird cultural icon, and is Burton's (and Danny Elfman's) favorite of his own films.

WARNING: You know what makes Edward Scissorhands a hundred times creepier? Michael Jackson wanted to play the lead.
Monday, December 16th, 2013
10:05 pm
MOVIE NIGHT THURSDAY
Movie night will HAVE to be Thursday this week, because I will be heading up to Madison by Friday evening.


Flicks for this week a little up in the air. Either our Christmas pairing (a very Tim Burton Christmas), a final Friday (how did we have a Friday the 13th last week and I didn't notice it?), or something random, like the promised Argento or Fulci Italian week.
Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
10:03 pm
UPDATE FOR MOVIE NIGHT
Today went really well, so I'll be getting back into ATL with time to spare. Movie night is THURSDAY!
Tuesday, December 10th, 2013
9:17 pm
"You know, I've always wanted a child. And now I think I'll have one... on toast! "
Unsure if movie night this week will be on Thursday or Friday; strongly depends on how Wednesday goes as I have yet another validation in Birmingham. Goes well, and I might be home as early as 2:00 on Thursday. Goes badly and I might be racing the clock on Friday evening. (How exciting!)

Therefore, watch this space for further announcements Wed evening as I find out whether the instrument decides to cooperate or not.

The flicks this week are something of a practice in contrasts. I originally intended them as an accompaniment for October, so we'll just have to use the wind up to the Winter solstice instead. You see, these films are concerned with the waning of the year: to those individuals dedicated to the darker aspect of natural cycles, to the bringing up of dead things in the service of a dark lord. There will be potions and cauldrons and chanting and music and sacrifices, and oh, so many misunderstood women from the time of the pilgrims. Yes, this week we're paying host to a whole bunch of Witchy Women. (Please note: these are the traditional Satanist witches; they have nothing to do with Wicca)

Samantha: Hocus Pocus (1993, 96 minutes) Intended to be a made-for-TV Disney Channel Original, the finished product was judged to be strong enough to support a theatrical release. This is mostly due to the fact that, as one of my podcasts (Read it and Weep)noted, "everyone in it really seems to be putting a lot of effort into what's really just a made-for-TV movie. All the appropriate Disney trappings are there: goofy villains, reluctant "too cool for this kids stuff" heroes to pull in the teen demographic without nudging up the PG rating, talking animals, kid-safe peril ("drinking life-force" instead of blood), lessons about peer pressure, and wacky hijinks. And yet, there's more substance than we'd expect. The trio of witches are played by an unexpectedly fun combination of Kathy Najimy... Sarah Jessica Parker? and... Bette Midler!?! Pouring enormous relish into their roles as half moustache-twirling (er... the equivalent thereof) Disney villainesses and Three Stooge impersonators, the film becomes more and more entertaining. While Bette Middler steals every scene with her own personal version of Cruella Deville (and Moe), Sarah Jessica Parker (as the airheaded Curly of the troupe) surprises us all by a) not irritating the hell out of us and b) pushes back at the PG rating of the film by implying that she'd been strung up mostly because she'd slept with most of colonial Salem. Include a nasty, disfigured zombie wandering about doing the witches' bidding and an immortal black cat, and this becomes one of those flicks where the Disney brand is no scarlet letter... even the big entertainment machines can get it right sometimes.

Sabrina: The Lords of Salem (2012, 101 minutes) From Disney, we go to Rob Zombie. How's that for a study in contrasts? Despite my problems with some of Zombie's prior efforts (House of 1000 Corpses I found to be indulgent filth and Halloween was half good and half enormously misguided) I was excited to see this film since it sounded like such a departure. I was even more interested when Andy mentioned that it was good. He neglected to mention that it was beautiful. Incredibly slow and measured, highly stylistic, and severely minimalistic in dialogue and action, the film excelled in every way that I was afraid it would fail. Sherri Moon Zombie (Rob's wife), despite her shrill, clumsy, one-note caricature performance in House, actually carries the film with a deft, subtle touch as the clinically depressed, inward-turning lead who barely keeps up a bubbly, personable façade as a late-night DJ. The stunt casting that riddled Zombie's prior films is still in evidence, but no longer has the "look at me" quality that made prior films so obnoxious. The expected gore and viscera are understated, the sleaze of Halloween almost nonexistent. If the film has any sins, it's through aping its influences too closely. The plot is very largely identical to Rosemary's Baby, even down to similarly structured sets (the apartment). The film's love of Hammer Horror, Black Sunday, and parts of The Exorcist are laid on with a heavy brush, and the end... don't laugh, but I seriously think it's pure 2001. (Though much less boring.) This slow, stately, well-formed (despite enormous shortfalls in budget) film has seriously made me re-evaluate Zombie's worth as a director... just in time for Zombie to leave the horror genre. (His next film is going to be a hockey flick?)

WARNING FOR LORDS OF SALEM: Tries very hard to offend via blasphemy. Just sayin'
Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
8:56 pm
"Do you like Hewey Louis and the News?"
So, while I am not well, I have achieved heavy medication to treat the affliction that has graced me with a more sandpapery Kasey Kasem voice over the last two days. (Thank God I haven't had to travel.) I am loathe to skip a movie night, however, so consider yourselves thoroughly warned that I am not at my healthiest right now. Just a chest cold. Those willing to take the chance are welcome to join me this Thursday evening, even if I do seem a little...off

The Empty Smile: American Psycho (2000, 102 minutes) For the record, Patrick Bateman is who I see every time Christian Bale is on screen... a kind of moist, murderous Jim Carrey. This makes the recent Batman films exceptionally uncanny. In 1991, Brett Easton Ellis published this stream-of-consciousness book containing an elaborate, vindictive skewering of the excesses of the 80's US through the actions of a sociopathic, psychopathic, and likely schizophrenic Wall Street yuppie. The character is obsessed with the wealth and consumerist status that robs him of identity and seemingly empties out all character from behind his blank, smiling face. (Most condemning seems to be his adoration of 80's pop bands.) The sexual, drug, and murderous excesses with which he fills his life exploded into something of a tempest-in-a-teapot controversy upon the book's release (especially from feminist groups angered by the portrayal of violence towards women), and has ensured that the book is still banned or censored in several countries. The film version was the biggest film of Mary Harron (more familiar for arthouse material like I Shot Andy Warhol) and our first real look at Christian Bale (who had been warned by Gloria Steinem that the role would ruin his career). Trimmed down a bit to take it out of the NC-17 range, it still packs more than enough material to warrant an additional warning, although largely for dwelling uncomfortably on the sexual material (and, similar to the second film, the oddly misognyistic undertones) than the violence, which is positively mild by today's standards, being more sudden and catastrophic than the nastier of today's movies.

The Uncanny Valley: Maniac (aka: the remake, 2012, 89 minutes) Upon hearing that they were doing a remake of Maniac, that most famous of all the Grindhouse nasties from the bad ol' 70's, I had the proper, approved response of scoffing. Then I heard that it was to be a first-person-perspective film, directed by the recently-fallen Alexandre Aja, and I fell to my knees and screamed WHYYYYYYY to the heavens. Then I heard that... Elijah Wood? was cast in the lead and... well, I didn't know what to think. (Those among you with exacting memories will spot that he'd done this before, as the mute cannibal from Sin City.) Then the damn thing only played theatrically in NY. Now that I've actually seen it, I have to say I'm mildly stunned. It's conceit is pure arthouse: it's almost entirely first-person, but they find a lot of ways to cleverly include Elijah Wood in the film through reflections, cameras, etc. (A few reviews complained that he was barely in the film. That's simply not true.) It's a remake, but despite inclusion of several key concepts is almost entirely new: only a few moments recall scenes from the original exactly, (no Tom Savini head explosion) there is a much deeper (and more explicit, where the original was subtle) examination of Frank's psychosis and a slightly more reasonable romantic connection. The violence is severe and explicit (excepting a couple of CGI groaners) and both recalls the nastiness of the original while working in small aspects of the much-reviled torture-porn genre. (To be clear, we're talking about the scalping.) You'll recall that the original was screened on "weirdly misogynistic movie night" and those aspects are definitely still present. If there's any marks against the flick, beyond its simple severity, they'd be firstly the intrusive, subtly absurd CGI moments, and secondly Wood being unable to live up to the crazed sincerity of Joe Spinell's star turn in the original.

WARNING: While not overtly dwelling, there are a few particularly nasty moments that members of the audience may want to look away for. Also, being first-person, we may have to bring up the lights to prevent motion sickness.

WARNING FOR BOTH MOVIES: Lotsa sex this week. Just sayin'
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
4:23 pm
Movie night Thursday!
Unless things change drastically, we will be having movie night this week, and it will be on the (now rarely) usual Thursday night.



Got a couple good potentials, but gotta watch at least one movie in order to decide. Watch this space for details..
Friday, November 29th, 2013
10:51 am
"Let's send these fuckers a Rambo-gram."
Red Alert! I don't know if you've heard yet, but there are reports of dead-eyed people wandering blindly through the vacant and boarded-up storefronts of those locations we laughingly refer to as "shopping malls." They seek blindly, hopelessly, for any remnant of warmhearted emotion, any sign of artificially externalized love that they may battle ferociously over it in order to return it to their true masters, ever seeking the approval of their family and friends. It's true! The very gates of hell must have burst to place these fiends at large throughout the downtown complexes. So this week we'll be huddling behind locked doors, hidden from view and praying that we somehow aren't noticed. Cautiously make your way to movie night this week, avoiding the attentions of these fools who still leave their homes in order to make purchases, seeking knick-knacks and trifles to try and fill up the horrible emptiness in their lives through the act of gift-giving. Truly, this is the Blackest Friday yet...

Getting There Early to Avoid the Rush: Chopping Mall (77 minutes, 1986) A pretty straightforward piece of sci-fi silliness that suffered from titling problems. Originally called Killbots but renamed and edited because of an anemic box office return, this piece of 80's cheese can be pretty well understood just from these two titles. A typical group of mid-80's teens break into a mall after closing and discover A) they're locked in, and B) the mall has instituted a new, somewhat extreme security system. Made, predictably, under Roger Corman, this was the first real writing/directing opportunity this (in)famous producer handed over to Jim Wynorski, who went on to an absurdly prolific career of low-budget B-pictures (and films of a more salacious nature), revving up to a startling 3-5 movies a year from about 1994 on. This film has a number of actors we've encountered before, most notably Barbra Crampton (of From Beyond and ReAnimator fame, and the recent You're Next) in an early role, and Mary Wornov from Death Race 2000. Light, popcorn fare that I couldn't resist...

This Year's Must-Buy Toy: Child's Play (1988, 87 minutes) It's rather remarkable how much this series has outlived its context. In 1985 there was an ubiquitous television ad for an oversized stuffed doll for boys called "My Buddy." The infectious commercial jingle and the obvious attempt to cash in on the Cabbage Patch craze that ran throughout the 80's made it a weirdly obscure cultural touchstone for anyone watching Saturday morning cartoons in that era. It was therefore inevitable that someone would notice how amazingly creepy those oversized dolls were. Hence, Child's Play, and the five sequels it has spawned. (The most recent release, though framed oddly in the advertising, was apparently NOT a remake, but an honest-to-God sequel.) The doll itself becomes an odd mechanism by which a notorious serial killer, Charles Lee Ray (named after Charles Manson, Lee Harvey Oswald, and James Earl Ray), escapes execution. The possessed doll is perhaps the most diminutive of all 80's slashers, but follows a similar progression. This first film is big on atmosphere and subtle horror until a rather spectacular ending. The animatronics were extremely impressive for the era, but the real showcase, and likely the reason for the series longevity, is Brad Douriff in what is likely his most famous role. The simultaneously gruff and shrill maniacal voice coming from this plastic doll had an indelible effect on the horror landscape of the 80's.
Thursday, November 28th, 2013
10:39 pm
MOVIE NIGHT FRIDAY
As should be pretty obvious, movie night this week will be on Friday (tomorrow) Tenative schedule will be in celebration of Black Friday: Chopping Mall & Child's Play. Summaries to follow tomorrow. (Too sluggish from food right now...) If I can't locate a copy of Child's Play, I have fallbacks available, no fear.
Thursday, November 21st, 2013
6:21 pm
"You mean we're all gonna die because you screwed up the math?"
Hokay, folks. Things are still uncertain. I've escaped Baltimore, but am now in Birmingham, where I have to try and do a half-day validation if I want to get back into ATL in time for movie night.

It's.... theoretically.... possible.

Anyway, it's even harder to figure out a movie night when I'm this far from the collection. Fortunately, Jimmy offered up an alternative that sounds a lot more entertaining than "Elevator Horror" night. Unfortunately, I have to modify the suggestion, because the only flick among them that I've seen, is the only one I don't have access to. (Unless someone can actually confirm that Leviathan is on Netflix instant...)

That's right, folks! It's that rarest of all movie nights, the times that I screen flicks I haven't even seen. So everyone grab your swim fins and your snorkel, because this is the week we're going to sea for some Deep Cuts. (And if it sucks, we all blame Jimmy!)

Fish heads, Fish heads.... DeepStar Six (99 minutes, 1989) It appears that the announcement that Cameron's The Abyss prompted all the competitor studios to shuffle out their own deep-sea horror flicks in competition, (The writer of this flick apparently had a major falling out with Cameron as a result.) giving a mini-boom of nautical horror right at the end of the most prolific decade of US horror. The irony, of course, is that the competitor films all generally took a straight-up monster movie approach, while the film they were targeted to compete with opted for a slower-paced disaster movie and drama, while the "monsters" turned out to be not monstrous at all. We can only hope that this flick will give more man vs. fish action than the Cameron version...

In an Octopus's garden... Deep Rising (106 minutes, 1998) What can I say about a flick I haven't seen? Other than echoing the above circumstances of its creation (which I can only assume are equally true), I've heard there's something about tentacles? And a plot similar to Ghost Ship? Do we need anything more?
Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
6:43 pm
MOVIE NIGHT (possibly) FRIDAY 11/22
Hey all,

Well, I'm trapped out of state until late Thursday night this week. Then I'll be flying back to another state to tend to another customer who just can't wait, before driving back to ATL in the evening. Very unsure how the timing will work out, but one thing is clear. No way in hell I'll make Thursday evening for movie night. Also, Kristy is planning on driving down on Friday evening, though that's dependent on how things go for her at work as well.

So y'all will have to wait on another announcement as to whether or not there will be a movie night: but if there is one, it will definitely be on Friday.

Potential pairs: elevator horror, witchy horror, Dario Argento masterpieces... and difficult to think of others while trapped into the night at an account. Suggestions?
Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
8:44 pm
"...but he did kill all those people for money. And that's just evil."
NOTE: Movie night will be FRIDAY this week. I won't be back in state until Friday morning, and have to immediately drive out of state to make another account, and then drive back, but WE'RE HAVING MOVIE NIGHT DAMMIT. The apartment may be a little shabby as a result.

This week we celebrate entrepreneurship. That can-do attitude that makes an individual notice a niche market, or an underserved need, and rise to the occasion. Forging forward in the formation of a new career, fraught with all the unknown problems, and of course the inevitable interference and regulation by the government. Truly we have to appreciate those who carry through despite all the obstacles and actually succeed in these new enterprises. This week will focus on the rise and fall of one such industry, that of the oft-slighted Resurrectionists. So haul out your spade, grab a sturdy sack, and a good length of rope as we all contrive to bring out your dead.

The True Innovators: Burke and Hare (2010, 91 minutes) Simon Pegg (Shaun of the dead) and Andy Serkis (Gollum) star as the most famous murderers of the early 1830's. Do I need to say more? How about bit parts by Christopher Lee and Tim Curry? Not enough? OK, how about John Landis, director of An American Werewolf in London returns to the director's chair for the first time in a dozen years? I thought so. In reality, William Burke and William Hare were true innovators in the field of grave robbing: after some years of supplying the local anatomy physician with stolen corpses for his public dissection lectures, they identified the real bottleneck in their operation and addressed it by simply not waiting for their customers to die first. These Irish immigrants to Scotland then plied their innovation throughout Edinburgh. In the final count, they stood accused of doing away with seventeen people to provide the wares of their business, and they had become so practiced at the methods that they stand the distinction of having a murder method named after them ("Burking," a particularly nasty manner of suffocation that doesn't overly damage the subject's throat). As one would expect of Landis, the portrayal of these two famous villains is given more of a comedic, if not entirely sympathetic treatment. After stumbling haphazardly into the profession and discovering a talent for it, Pegg and Serkis find themselves slowly climbing the ladder of the criminal... underground. (Huh... that doesn't really work.) Oddly, the final result isn't much of a horror film, and more of a hapless romance-comedy (Pegg falls for an actress aspiring for a truly period-inappropriate play), with a whole lot of murder, an anatomist competition, and a runaway body in a barrel.

The Traditional Hard Workers: I Sell the Dead (2008, 85 minutes) Though the stars don't shine quite as brightly, we do have Dominic Monaghan (Merry) confessing his sins to Friar Ron Perlman in this odd take on the Resurrectionist's trade that wonders at the fate of those graves targeted for robbing which happen to have... livelier tenants. Rounding out the cast, the physician these late night deliveries are for happens to be the Tall Man himself, Angus Scrimm. Perhaps suffering a bit from being too expansive with the concept, leading to a bit of "broad but shallow" treatment, meandering plot, and anachronisms that makes parts of the film feel like a Ren Faire production, it still has enough fun to make up for a few missteps. (You'll have to excuse Pearlman's chewing of the scenery... those were hungry ages.)
Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
10:44 pm
"Everything good dies here. Even the stars."
Movie night is on! I think.

Ok, due to situations beyond my control, I can't tell if I'm going to be back to my apartment in time for movie night this Thursday. Hence the delayed announcement.

...screw it, there's no way I can get these people situated by 2:00 so I can fight my way 3.75 hours back and through Atlanta traffic to be home in time. We're going to have to push it off to Friday. Which is a pity, because after the week I'm having I could really use some tension relief. I've been having real trouble getting through to people. It seems that unless I'm standing directly behind people, nothing at all gets done. Even when I am there, I'm bedeviled by chronic time-wasters who have better things to do and insist on "just another round of training" or "just another visit" or "wait, we have to do another round of approvals." Combine that with the absurd drivers I had to avoid head on collisions with... the people driving the wrong way down one-way streets, the snoozing drivers weaving in and out of their lane, threating to drift into the semi beside us. I swear, it's like the life force has just been sucked out of everyone by the switch in weather. Like I'm dealing with meandering corpses and... wait... suddenly it's all making sense.... AHHHHH!!!!! REAL ZOMBIES!

The Mythic Reality: The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988, 98 minutes) In 1985, an ethnobotanist named Wade Davis published a book detailing his investigation of the case of Clairvius Narcisse, a Haitian man who had become a zombie through the machinations of a local bokor, or houngan priest of dark magic. Davis's investigations apparently revealed a carefully designed and secretly administered "zombie powder" toxin, used in combination with complex social structures and mystical beliefs by the Voudun practitioners to reduce certain undesireable people to the status of "living dead," which, brain damaged, were then used for slave labor. (Contrary to the modern zombie, fear of the original phenomena was not that a zombie would "get" you, but that someone would conspire to make you into one.) Through the publication of his book, Wade Davis became the world's most famous ethnobotanist... or at least in the opinion of the book itself. Anyone reading the book will be struck by his utter conviction in the James-Bond-level of action and intrigue taking place, and what an amazingly overblown impression he has painted of himself in the overwrought, overwritten style of the book. Somehow, in the transition to film (Davis agreed to allow the film to be adapted, so long as Mel Gibson starred and Peter Weir directed... instead he got Bill Pullman and John Carpenter) the story becomes even more overblown and almost hilariously overdramatic. Shifted a couple years later to be set during the popular uprising that overthrew Jean-Claude "baby doc" Duvalier, Davis's character is beset by actual magical powers (including a "ghost explosion" of destroyed soul jars in the finale), a friend at a dinner party is possessed by an evil spirit and eats glass, and Davis gains a jaguar spirit guide that sees him through the magical battles. As absurd and overblown as the entire setup (and especially the "orientalism" of the Davis figure) seems, there is an extremely odd note of misplaced sincerity throughout. Although political turmoil forced the film crew to desert Haiti and finish the film in neighboring Dominican Republic, there seems to be an honest effort to portray a unique and uniquely foreign culture and people living under the (very real) constant persecution and desperate poverty that was Haiti in the mid 80's. But it's the uncomfortable sincerity of condescension, of someone portraying a culture they don't completely understand, which feels especially grating to audiences today. The whole thing comes out as screamingly 80's in all respects.

The Real Myth: I Walked with a Zombie (1943, 69 minutes) We've run into the producer Val Lewton before, when he brought us the story of the sexually frustrated Cat People. After pushing those boundaries for the audiences of 1942, he turned to an even more shocking subject with this, his next picture. Lewton had his writers take the story structure of the Bronte's Jane Eyre and use that structure for an examination of the voodoo phenomenon. The result is a surprisingly effective, and weirdly convoluted piece. Essentially a romantic drama set around a disintegrating plantation family and the caretaker they hire, the supernatural aspects of the story remain in question throughout. Whether one of the main characters was ensorcelled into becoming a zombie, or suffering a tropical fever, is never clearly answered, though speculation runs rampant. The film also retains much of the excellent lighting and direction under Lewton's watchful eye (the director Jacques Tournieur, had also worked with Val on Cat People). Though it retains the expected slow pacing of films of the era, and the inherent racism of the topic is essentially unavoidable considering the era, the film is still a deserved classic and there are a couple of legitimate surprises and unexpected story twists throughout.
Thursday, October 31st, 2013
8:06 am
NO MOVIE NIGHT THIS WEEK
Sorry y'all for the late notice: I'm out in PA at the moment and won't be back until Monday, so no chance of a movie night this week.​
Friday, October 25th, 2013
6:33 pm
"Trick or treat, motherfucker!"
Trimming the Steel: Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (aka Halloween 7 1998, 86 minutes) So, what do you do with a series that started out strong, then gradually lost it’s way, wandered into some stupid material about the ‘cult of thorne’ and is now so diluted that no one really cares about it anymore? These days, you’d just pitch it all and do a remake, but what if there’s another option? In the late 90’s Moustapha Akkad, the rights holder for Halloween, was all set to make a further trek along the downward spiral the series was describing, when Jamie Lee Curtis expressed interest in returning. Curtis, the only remaining visible star of the original two, had barely been mentioned in the subsequent films (having unceremoniously died off screen somewhere around #4 or 5). To make a proper trilogy, we’d just need one more return to the face-off with the faceless. Strangely, this enormously stretched trilogy sequel kind of worked, possibly due to the repopularization of the genre by the Scream series, this final of the Halloween 1-2-7 trilogy does recapture some of the old charm. Co-starring L.L. Cool J in an oddly abbreviated role and including a couple of truly nasty kills, it rounds out the general story (such as it is) and puts a button on the series for all time.

Taking the Flak: Halloween: Ressurection (aka Halloween 8 2002, 89 minutes) Until four years later when it was time to make some more money. All credit where it’s due, the first ten minutes of this film are pretty clever and well composed and even make an intentional, direct point of addressing the seemingly inescapable conclusion of H20. Even if it does give an only slightly better exodus to Laurie Strode than the previous off-screen treatment of #4 (this was at Curtis’s insistence so her character could never be used again… until the remake…). However, then a completely different, much lower quality film begins. One with tie-ins to THE INTERNET and REALITY TV, and a cast of the most thinly-drawn, least likeable and shallowly-conceived caricatures that you could hope for. A hackneyed, uninteresting, talentless crew whose deaths would be actively cheered for if not for the lackluster execution through which they’re accomplished. This time around, it’s Busta’ Rhymes making a bid for cinematic rapper-turned-actor gold, and I actually feel sorry for him. It’s plain he has a love of these cheesy horror flicks, but his participation in the –by far- lamest death of a major horror icon in any film ever means no one’s likely to let him near a movie set ever again. (Not entirely his fault… apparently test audiences found him the only interesting thing in the film and they bid to give him more of a role in this, the official final death of MM in the original series.)
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
9:37 pm
MOVIE NIGHT FRIDAY THIS WEEK
Ok everyone, there will be a movie night FRIDAY this week, as my flight back to ATL doesn't leave until 6:00 tomorrow, Thursday seems pretty impractical.


The movies will be for the Halloween mix, since I will be out of town for the first time Halloween has landed on a Thursday. We'll be doing Halloween H20 (when they -briefly- got good again), and either Trick 'r Treat (carrying on the tradition) or the last Halloween. I'm tempted to go with the latter, since that'll give us two Michael Meyers vs. rappers films, but I'm not sure yet.


Final determination and summaries to come tomorrow. I'm currently fighting off food poisoning and a raging headache.​
Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
11:44 pm
"Suffer! Suffer! This vortex of torment will whirl for all eternity. "
So, let's watch a movie to prepare for movie night. Here's an idea! The Butterfly Effect appears to have some interesting parallels to Final Destination. I'll just watch it and.... and that movie was really depressing and featured child abuse as a central theme! Nope. Well, let's be clever with the recent ending of "Breaking Bad" and do a "Bad" theme with Bad Lieutenant and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Now I just have to watch the first one... and discover exactly how sleazy Harvey Keitel can be when he wants to. (How did they shoot that in 1992??? It looks like a flick from the mid 70's!). Well... there's American Psycho and Taxi Driver, but I don't know if anyone's really mentally prepared for that after Danish week.

Screw it, it's Halloween, and considering all the shit I waded through to find films for this week, we're all going straight to Hell anyway...

The Open Gates: Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (93 minutes, 1992) In my admittedly faded memory, I always recall Hellraiser III being the worst of the series. True, Hellraiser II suffered from budget undercut, IV suffered from overreach (travel into time AND into space?), and every one after IV has been direct to DVD, but Hellraiser III has what those didn't: a completely muddled concept over-explaining and rendering needlessly convoluted the very basic principles of the series combined with a new-toy-like-obsession with the making of new (really, really dumb) cenobites. (Barbie? CD? Camera-eye? Who approved these?) The sexually perverse undertones of the original two movies becomes gleefully exploitative and overworked without being especially titillating, the horrifying gore becomes comical, the religious undertones become blaringly obvious, and, in an amazingly nonsensical twist, Pinhead now wants to invade the normal world. Just 'cause someone couldn't help themselves in wanting to pitch cenobites against a squadron of cops. (They're not that kind of monster!) It has something to do with separation from his human soul. Yeah, it's that ham-fisted. Oh well, we do get the puzzle box, a lot of Cenobites running around... um... some good lines... uh... and it's short? Although I liked his other Waxwork movies, I'm afraid the material wasn't really suited to Anthony Hickox. (Paramount appointed him director while Clive Barker took a back seat and had very little to do with the film.

The Road of Good Intentions: Jigoku (aka The Sinners of Hell 101 minutes, 1960) Nobuo Nakagawa was a film director of the 50's and 60's most famous for making highly stylized horror films based on Japanese folklore. In 1960 he produced this extremely odd piece as the cheap studio he was working for (Shintoho studios) was desperately trying to keep from going under. The story is only a little odd at first glance: a number of individuals, either evil by nature or by accident, begin to gather at a countryside retirement community through a series of coincidences. There is manslaughter, revenge, murder, poisoning, shooting, all manner of death, and we suddenly find ourselves at the end of Hamlet, with the bodies of all the main characters littering the stage. And then they go to hell. The unique aspect is that there's still 35 minutes of the film to go. A lengthy contemplation and examination of all the strange and horrifying fates waiting the damned in Shinto hell, it's a feast of weirdness for western eyes. Uniquely Japanese daemons, settings, and tortures, all fated to go on forever. (And don't worry, there's no comedic insanity like in House.)

NOTE: We have Dan to thank for my Criterion Collection edition of this movie.
12:08 am
THIS THURSDAY'S MOVIES
Land of the Dead and Burial Ground. Summaries to follow tomorrow.
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
11:26 pm
"Either I let her go on living and never know, or I let her die and find out what happened."
Well, I've threatened to do it for a long time now, much to y'alls sighs and eye-rolls, but I'm determined this time. Everyone plan for a longer evening, bring your wallets, and grab your spare jump-ropes, because this week we're going Double-Dutch

The Leaking Dike: Terribly Happy (aka Frygtelig Lykkelig 2008, 104 minutes) The thing about Dutch horror movies, is that they're not really horror movies. They're incredibly dark, depressing dramas that end badly for everyone involved. Many will claim that's the case for all Dutch film, but they also have indecipherable government-funded art flicks and Paul Veerhoven. (I also just discovered that the oldest extant Dutch film is named The Misadventure of a French Gentleman Without Pants at the Zandvoort Beach, so credit where credit is due.) All joking aside, Dutch horror is usually intensely character and atmosphere driven, riddled with region-specific social commentary, bleak, grey landscapes, and the absolute certainty that all humans are miserable bastards. Take Terribly Happy. Best described as Hot Fuzz for real, it resembles both that's film's plot and structure, with a slow build into utter coincidental insanity. It concerns a Copenhagen policeman transferred to a remote village after a mental breakdown. The community he finds is intensely insular, and used to handling its own problems. (A nearby bog is convenient. Problems for the town tend to end up in the bog.) The policeman's attempts to apply law and order here are met with dismissals and mild ridicule, even after the murder investigation begins. Darkly, darkly funny and desolate in the way only Dutch films manage, I've really been wanting to show this one ever since I saw it in the theater with Robyn.

The Wooden Shoes: The Vanishing (aka Spoorloos 1988, 107 minutes) Incredibly widely acclaimed and almost never watched, this is easily the most famous Dutch horror film ever made (the only near contender being Man Bites Dog). With a 100% rating on rotten tomatoes (which it vastly pre-dates, but still...) listing as #67 in Empire's "100 best movies of world cinema" and, predictably remade into a flop in 1993 with Jeff Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland, this film really doesn't have to demonstrate it's bonifides to anyone. But is it actually enjoyable to watch? As with all Dutch films, it's rather slow, but the story is basically that a young couple is out traveling in France, when the young girl utterly disappears. The story follows her lover as he drives himself slowly insane for years searching for any sign of her, his obsession slowly destroying his life. But don't worry, we don't spend all of our time with him. Instead we switch midway and begin watching the killer. Not killing, not even associated with the girl, just watching this weird, sociopathic family man go about his daily life. It's difficult to describe, but the slow build of tension around this figure as the two main characters begin to intersect is masterfully accomplished. The end requires more than a little suspense of disbelief, but is still legendarily horrifying. (Do NOT look up the ending and ruin it for yourself, as I did.)
Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
11:03 am
MOVIE NIGHT FRIDAY this week. Maybe? "It's OK, he only wanted his machete back..."
So, as is perfectly evident, I've been all over the damn place for the last two weeks, making official certain momentous events in my life. This week is similarly busy, though much less momentous.

I'm stuck up in Plattsburgh NY for a demo for the next few days, meaning there is no way on earth I could make it back for Thursday night.

In fact, even Friday is a bit of trouble: I'm going to need a little help. My return trip to Atlanta lands at 7:05. Translation: no way I'll be home until at least 8:00. So I needs ask a little assistance. It being Friday, a late start isn't as awful a fate as otherwise, but waiting on me isn't really practical.

If y'all are up for it, you can start movie night without me, and I'll join in once I arrive. The place is as clean as it's ever been, and I grabbed snacks yesterday. Snack tray is in the fridge and we are WELL STOCKED on beer. First comers please check with Jeff and Christy to unlock the door and let y'all in.

The movies this week are exactly 7 days late in celebration of this long strange trip. The mere fact we've made it this far is illuminating: I never thought we'd actually reach the official end of the series, but we've managed it. After nine prior events we're actually at the TENTH FRIDAY THE 13TH since we opened this madhouse. (Kristy was rather relieved I waited a day and didn't propose on Friday the 13th. I'm all for irony, but that's just asking for trouble.) Seriously? I never would have guessed it would be so common...

The Party Hats: Jason X (2001, 91 minutes). Jason has been so many things to so many people. Crazy waterlogged kid, potato-sack-headed pursue, hockey-mask toolshed-stalker, no-show, psychic battler, undead zombie, and, apparently, flat-out daemon spirit. It's perhaps obvious why this film is held in such ridicule: cleverly dodging that it's the 10th ("X") Friday the 13th, the transposition of Jason into the far flung future and onto a spaceship is, on the face of it, flatly ridiculous. Where this maligning is unjust, however, is that the film is completely, fully aware of the absurdity of it's own concept. It wrestles with the slasher film tropes as tropes in a surprising prefiguring of the sort of self-awareness we witnessed in Cabin in the Woods. From the casual execution of David Cronenburg (yes, the filmmaker) as a throwaway death in the opening scenes, the recovery of Jason from a barren, post-apocalyptic future Earth by an archeological school field trip, a self-aware and somewhat insecure sex-bot, to attempting to sell Jason himself as a collector's item, the film is constantly riffing on its own wonderful absurdity. And what's more, it's downright funny. Yes it's dumb, but it's aggressively dumb, with a higher body count than ever, and having fun the whole way in what's essentially a film-length riff on Alien.

The Party Poppers: Muppets from Space (1999, 87 minutes) And just to complete the absurd contrast I came up with when I paired Jason VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan with The Muppets Take Manhattan we come to this later entry in the muppet lexicon. The first muppet film following Henson's death, and the last to have Frank Oz's participation, the film is an odd mish-mash of classic muppety goodness and a noticeable feeling of something essential missing. Some of this is likely due to an apparent transition to the later era muppets from the classics, but Henson's absence is notably felt. Essentially a sort-of origin story for Gonzo, based on his scene singing "I want to go back there someday" in the original Muppet Movie while under a starry sky in the desert, we're given the idea that Gonzo might be of alien origin. (I always thought he was a kinda scraggly vulture, but that's just me.)
Monday, September 9th, 2013
11:37 pm
NO MOVIE NIGHT THIS WEEK
I'll be out of town up in Indianapolis this weekend. Situation doesn't look great for next week either, as I'll be up in NY again and flying in Friday night, but I might have others take over the setup then.


Again, NO MOVIE NIGHT THIS WEEK. The celebration of the final Friday will have to wait.​
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