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  • Carrie: In Road Houses they take you!

    carrie

    Just finished up the Carrie episode of my new Stephen King themed podcast with Todd Chicoine of Asylum House Images, which is entitled There Are Other Worlds Than These.
    I was struck by the amount of times Margaret White talks about how “they,” will “take you,” in “road houses.” And, of course, Todd made a bunch of Swayze jokes.

    Carrie gives me hope as a novelist, because frankly, it isn’t amazing all the way through. Todd also told me it’s King’s fourth novel, and let me fact check… yup, according to the wiki (which are always one hundred percent accurate), it is in fact his fourth novel, but his first published. Well, cool, that means I get a pass on three more novels, until I have to release one semi-good one.

    The story was originally started as a short planned for the now defunct men’s magazine Cavalier. Most of them went the way of the Dodo, but back in the 70s, and beforehand, they’d let you send in stories, which they would pay you a decent amount for, and publish. King had many early stories published in men’s magazines. Apparently it was also started as a dare, because a lady told him he couldn’t write about women.

    Surprisingly, neither Todd or myself had ever read Carrie before, despite our obsessive dweeby proclivity to devour his published works. When the episode goes up, I’ll link it somewhere above this post, but I figured I’d write something brief about the novel, since it’s still fresh in my mind.

    There are four films based on Carrie. I watched the 76 and the 2013 before recording the podcast episode on Carrie, to cover my bases. However, I have never seen the made for television version of Carrie, or The Rage: Carrie 2. I might watch them, at some point?

    And no, Carrie has nothing to do with that other lady from Sex and the City.

    Oh yeah, and Cemetery Dance is releasing a fancy pants special edition of it soon.


  • Legitimate review

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    This short marks the writing, directing, and producing debut of the Boston area’s own Izzy Lee. The title is based off of a ridiculously misogynistic quote by Senator Todd Akin, in which this genius of the human race said, and I quote…

    If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

    Yeah. Someone actually said that. Fucking ay. Sometimes it’s super embarrassing to be a dude. You’re making the normal guys look bad, politicians! Like that’s anything new…

    Anyway, on to the short. It clocks in at around five minutes, and is without any kind of dialogue save for one line at the beginning, where a blonde woman says “welcome back senator.” Red lights all around. The senator watches a scantily-clad woman with a variety of knots tied about herself dance for him. As she dances, she lets him grab parts of the rope, and he unties the knots which bind her. It’s a surprisingly enticing form of tease. In this scene, it’s like the senator is unwrapping a present; an apt visual metaphor for the objectification of women by an older generation. The scene is dimly lit, and atmospheric. Seems like the type of place an old senator would frequent. It rings true.

    Of course, it seems that somebody put something in his drink. I always think of this song when such scenes occur.

    Uh-oh, the senator seems to have himself a case of the drugged-uppies.

    Cue three ladies, lit in an otherworldly green. And hmm, they have a weird little thing in a jar. And from there on out, things are invasive for Mr. Senator.

    Short, to the point, and moody, Legitimate is an exercise in the power of visuals to convey tone. Legitimate switches from a seductive red color scheme with the dancing girl, to a nefarious green color scheme when the three ladies with the jar cut open the drugged up senator, and ends with the harsh over-bright glare of sun on a dirty street as the senator wakes up to quite a surprise indeed. The only nagging question left is, what the Hell was that thing from the jar? It’s some kind of little worm beastie, that much is apparent, but as this short doesn’t have the budget to go too nutty, we are left with close-ups, and have to fill in our imagination for the rest.

    Still, despite the effects at the end, Legitimate uses score and lighting to its advantage. It’s well crafted, and intriguing. The short is an effective social commentary on male privilege in the rape culture, without having to resort to heavy-handed dialogue. It wisely chooses sight over exposition, and manages to take the viewer through a vastly different emotional landscape in just five short minutes.

    Legitimate is legit all right.


  • The ABCs of Death: Scares from A to Z

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    This is the best horror anthology film I’ve seen in a long while. It has this distinction, due to its vast number of vignettes, and its creators from various regions. It’s truly a multicultural affair. A melting pot of short horror films. There are even some animated shorts, and a Claymation ditty. The ABCs of Death has it all. And I loved the majority of it, A through Z.

    Obviously, personal preference comes into play when pontificating upon the particular pieces of the film. By far, my least favorite short was the one which basically looked like furry masturbatory fodder. This of course was H is for Hydro-electric Diffusion written and directed by Thomas Malling. And I got that it was supposed to be a live action version of those cartoons with the sexy animal in them. It was weird then, and it’s still weird now!

    Thankfully, there are many other awesome shorts. Other than H, most of the shorts were fun, if not amazingly entertaining. My favorites, (as every person who reviews this collection will end up just saying which letters were there favorite, let’s be honest) were A, D, F, G, J, K, L, O, Q, S, T, U, W, X, Y, and Z. I’m sorry, when in my life am I going to get to list letters like that and have it actually mean something? I’ll elaborate.

    A, written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo. He was the director from Spain who brought us Timecrimes. Think the black knight from Monty Python and The Holy Grail, that’s a hint as to the theme. D is a stylish short, which is admittedly just a music video, but damn is it great. This one is written and directed by Marcel Sarmiento, who also co-directed Deadgirl. F is written and directed by Noboru Iguchi, who made The Machine Girl, and boy, is this short weird. G is written and directed by Andrew Traucki, and of all of them, this was perhaps my supreme favorite. It manages to be haunting and sad, all while being entirely in first person POV. He directed Black Water, and The Reef, two films which I’ve never seen as I didn’t hear the greatest info about them. Though, if this short is any indication, perhaps he’s got a good one in him. He certainly loves water.

    J is for a long complicated Japanese word, and was written and directed by Yūdai Yamaguchi, who made a film called Meatball Machine. It’s silly. K is an animated venture about a lady and a poo, written and directed by Anders Morgenthaler, a guy from Denmark who has made nothing I’ve ever heard of. L is perhaps the most fucked up of the bunch. This one is written and directed by Timo Tjahjanto. He’s only done shorts before this, but this was a strong one, so check for this guy’s name in the future. He’s working on something for the sequel to VHS, S-VHS.

    O is an experimental short written and directed by Bruno Forzani, and Héléne Cattet. Ah, le French. Q is one of two self-aware shorts, written and directed Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett, who also worked on A Horrible Way To Die. Hated that film, but loved this short, go figure. Its got a duck in it, and a gun. S is written and directed by Jake West, and Englishmen, who made Doghouse, which I had heard sucked ass. I liked the short though, so maybe on a brave day I’ll try it out. T is written and directed by Lee Hardcastle , and it’s Claymation. California Raisons, eat yo heart out.

    U is written and directed Ben Wheatley, W is my second favorite, written and directed by Metalocalypse dude Joe Schnepp. W is also a self aware short. X is by Xavier Gens, the Frenchmen who brought us Frontiers and The Divide, both great films. Y is written and directed by Canada’s own Jason Eisner, creator of Hobo with a Shotgun! And, finally, Z is written and directed by special effects guy who worked on Suicide Club, The Machine Girl, and Tokyo Gore Police. It’s incredibly bizarre. Like, blonde haired Japanese lady with a giant cock with a sword out the tip fighting someone who sprays veggies out the vag odd. There was something anti-american in there, but fuck if I could figure it out over the balls out bizarreness. Bravo Yoshihiro Nishimura.

    I guess the reason I’m listing all these directors and what they’ve worked on, is to prove to you how vast this film is. All over the globe the films have come, and they’ve all found a home in one collection. This is incredibly rare. Do yourself a favor and check out The ABCs of death, if you like anthology horror films, foreign horror films, or if you simply want to take a wild ass ride. But be forewarned, the credits have a song called Horror Movie by the Skyhooks which you will probably get stuck in your head. Seriously, this shit has been in my noggin’ for like four days.


  • American Horror Story: Asylum: The Last Episode, and Overview on the Season

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    American Horror Story Asylum

    This has been one Hell of a second season. No matter what you feel about a show switching not only primary locations, but characters and decades, no one can deny that it takes nerves of steel. Imagine if Friends had randomly decided to switch the show to Chicago, in the 30’s, after the third season. Or, if The Walking Dead decided to make the show about ghosts, move everyone into Iceland, and have all new characters. Granted, they’d have to change the name of the show to The Floating Dead, or The Walking Dead: Spectral. My point is, it was a bold move, and so of course there will be naysayers.

    A lot of fans don’t want to admit this, but we like our rigid confines. I certainly do. When Mulder was written off of The X-Files for those later seasons, I just stopped watching. So, I was naturally apprehensive about American Horror Story: Asylum. I enjoyed the idea of actors from the first season coming back, but I was very worried. I loved the first season of that show. What if the second season sucked?

    And so, I started watching American Horror Story: Asylum. And, admittedly, when it first began, I liked it, but thought it was a bit disjointed. What, so we’re in the present, seeing on old asylum called Briarcliff, and then we cut to the 60’s, and a guy married to a black woman, and then aliens, he’s accused of murder, a journalist comes. And I still say Bloody Face is the worst name for a serial killer ever.

    But, with the weeks, the show grew on me. I grew to love the characters, and even began to enjoy how many different plot elements with various horror tropes were thrown into the mix. I still had no idea how they were going to tie everything up, but I was along for the ride, no matter what.

    Soon, things began to resolve themselves. The aliens, and the weird mutated creatures in the forest. The possessed nun, who switches from innocent to literally devilish, played by Lily Rabe was fun to watch. And the ex-nazi Dr. Arden, played by James Cromwell, was also intriguing. Most importantly, the identity of Bloody Face, and who was killing the Bloody Face imitators in the present day, at the run down Briaricliff, was the draw of the show. Zachary Quinto did an amazing job.

    The season finale is, without question, my favorite episode of the entire season. Not only does it scare, but it manages a tough feat for things in the horror genre. It makes you feel a gambit of emotions. You smile, and you get sad when you see the last years of Sister Jude’s life. Or, as she is now in those final years, when she lives with Kit, Betty Drake. You see the joy this woman, brilliantly played by Jessica Lange, is capable of. Really, the character arc of Sister Jude, or Judy Martin, is the most astounding of any actor in the series. From antagonist, all the way round to protagonist. From heartless bitch, to sympathetic victim. Jude’s death was both moving, and haunting, as the angel with the black wings, (also performed brilliantly by Frances Conroy) finally comes after years of talking with Judy, to take her away.

    Dylan Mcdermott as Bloody Face’s abandoned son, Johnny, given up for adoption by Lana (Sarah Paulson) gives a powerful performance in this final episode. By the end, he makes you feel bad for a serial killer who wears the skin of women on his face, and that’s a tough sell. Of course, Lana, played by Paulson also brings the thunder. We hear of her transition from novelist writing about Bloody Face, to investigative journalist, who finally goes back and exposes Briarcliff. In the end of the episode, she faces her abandoned son, and I won’t tell you what she does, but it is both haunting, and in a way, a mercy. Lana knows all too well what institutionalization can do to a person.

    Really, there are many actors whose character arcs are dynamic. Everyone is constantly changing, and evolving for the better, or the worse. It is what made the first season so great, and what went on to make the second season great.

    In the end, this season, and indeed American Horror Story as a show has exceeded my expectations time and time again. I look forward to seeing what they’re going to pull out of their bag of tricks for season 3.


  • American Horror Story: the Aftermath

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    Holy shit, this episode is a trip. A few years after the events which took place in episodes 1-11 is where we find ourselves.

    We see the evolution of Briar Cliff from an asylum run by the church, into a regular, plain, state institution. Jude ain’t doing so hot.

    We see how Lana banana is doing, and turns out she has a book.

    Kit, well, things are weird for Kit.

    And we end with the promise of a final showdown that will make the whole damn season if executed properly.

    Last episode is this Wednesday, the 23rd.


  • Mama: Guillermo Del Toro Presents another disappointment

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    I guarantee My girlfriend had a better review of the film than I’m about to write.
    When we finished the film, a few minutes after, she said the following.

    “It was good, until it wasn’t.”

    What starts as an atmospheric film about a paranormal entity and its impact upon abandoned children in the woods, quickly travels to what I like to call, “Sappy Town.” It suffers from the same ending all Guillermo Del Toro presents films seem to. This being the cheesy, “and the children lived happily ever after, so there’s that” finale. I’ll put up with it when it’s a Guillermo Del Toro film, but when you sit through a stinker like Mama, you start to think it’s lame.

    What’s most disappointing about Mama, is, much like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, it had a lot of potential. Much like DBAOTD, it had great visual effects. Though, in Mama, the CG is used a little too much: you don’t need to CG a kid hustling around on all fours. Get a stunt kid for that shit. Similar to DBAOTD, the source material was great. In Mama’s case, it was an unnerving Spanish language short.

    Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau proves he can act outside of the show (unlike Kit Herrington, AKA Jon Snow, AKA I can’t even fake caring about being in Silent Hill 2 like Sean Bean is). And yet, he gets knocked out, and spends most of his time outside of the picture. We are left with a Brody Dalle from The Distillers lookalike.

    brody dalle

    Mamajessicachastain

    Chastain and whatever the actresses, actors names of the children were, can’t carry the film.

    Hate to say it, but I think Guillermo might need to stop presenting so much. Or, at the very least, maybe he should present only Spanish language films? Fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice, and all that jazz.


  • American Horror Story: Ride it, Monsignor

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    This episode, is entitled The Name Game, which I assumed had to do with certain buns in various ovens. Probably still does. However, it turns out it was also due to this, after a certain sister is given too much zappy juice.

    Strange episode, with a few shocking deaths. We are nearing the home stretch.
    How are they going to tie this all up in only 3 episodes? Easily, no doubt, at the pace this show moves, they could introduce a whole new monster and still tie it up.

    There is a really stunning shot as someone dies in this episode. I can’t tell ya who though, in the interest of no spoilage.


  • American Horror Story: The Coat Hanger…not just for coats anymore!

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    A shocking revelation. Sister Jude in an interesting new position (and not the one she was in at the end of last episode with evil Santa man). A vague sentence.
    And finally, we get some more alien action! Woo!
    I find it hard to review these, as all the episodes seem to bleed together.
    Speaking of bleeding…a certain character either has his worst nightmare, or greatest dream, come to fruition.
    However, I will say this episode has a new character introduced in the intro, in the present day. A certain man’s son, a certain deranged man’s son.
    Oh, by the by, if you’re squeamish on coat hanger abortions…be forewarned.