Aug 31, 2012

GONE SONNIN'


Taking a break to catch up with the latest from Sam Crow.

Are you watching S.O.A.? If not...why not?

Aug 30, 2012

REVIEW: SELECTED SHORTS: POE!


At this point in time, nearly 170 years after his mysterious death, there is nothing more that needs to be said about Edgar Allan Poe. He is the Shakespeare of the macabre, and his prose remains as beautiful as it is intimidating. He’s been a constant source of inspiration for an array of artists – from H.R. Giger to Roger Corman – and he’s as popular today as he’s ever been. From the little seen but frankly wondrous episode of "Masters of Horror" entitled "The Black Cat," to that production's crew of director Stuart Gordon, writer Dennis Paoli, and actor Jeffry Combs as the tortured writer touring with a one-man show, to the recent big budget The Raven, Poe-inspired projects are constantly coming along to whet the appetites of his legions of devotees.

In this new collection of Symphony Space's Selected Shorts, seven of Poe’s most celebrated short stories and poems are performed before a live audience, and the 2-CD set begins and ends with a bang.

Terrence Mann opens the proceedings with a truly manic reading of “The Tell Tale Heart,” reciting the tale not as if reading from a text but more like confessing his crimes to the law. He allows his mania to grow and grow, pausing to disturbingly giggle for just a bit too long in order to unnerve his audience, who laughs nervously in response to the shtick. Poe is mostly known for his detailed approach to all things horrific, but not so much his use of humor, and thankfully Mann helps to shine a light on that particularly lesser known attribute of his writing. Admittedly it wasn’t until listening to these recordings, all backed by a live audience, that I was able to see for the first time just when and where Poe was trying to insert a little levity into his usually darkness.

Probably the most beautiful thing Poe has written, the next track is “The Raven,” which is curiously performed by no less than four orators: René Auberjonois, Fionnula Flanagan, Isaiah Sheffer, and Harris Yulin. Each person certainly serves the tone of the poem well, and the readings are pitch-perfect, but it’s a curiosity that four different individuals opted to read such a brief piece. It’s not quite enough to be a distraction, but it comes awfully close.

Next up is “The Masque of the Red Death,” performed by Fionnula Flanagan. The story itself was never a favorite of mine, as Poe spends a bit too long describing the level of opulence within the quarantined mansion (he was the Bret Easton Ellis of his day). However, Flanagan does an admirable job with the material, even ticking off the elongated details – one after the other – as if she were tediously reading off a list. She wisely insinuates in her performance that the magnitude of the wealth shared by the story’s few should be just as exhausting as it is intricate.

Following that is “The Cask of Amontillado,” performed by David Margulies. He is another reader who brings to life the subtle humor often overshadowed in Poe’s work by his more morbid details. Margulies' performance as the story’s victim, Fortunato, provides most of the humor, depicting the man as an emaciated drunk prone to fits of coughing. Much like Terrence Mann’s reading of “Tell Tale,” Margulies lets a particular string of coughs go on for so long – nearly 20 seconds – that it becomes absurd, and the audience laughs in appreciation.

And then we have a reading of “The Bells,” performed by the foursome team of Auberjonois, Flanagan, Sheffer, and Yulin. However, this time, the multitudes of voices contributing to the poem truly bring it to life, especially at the end when each performer's voice begins to overlap the next, until their unintelligible reiterating of "the bells!" actually begin to sound like just that – clanging church bells. The audience's caught-off-guard and impressed response adds to the effectiveness of this tactic and it makes the experience much more enjoyable. Continuing with this troupe, "Annabell Lee" recalls my feelings toward their readings of “The Raven.” Well done across the board, but again curious that such a brief piece is read by three people (Flanagan sits this one out).

Popular character actor Stephen Lang (Avatar, Public Enemies) reads “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and the actor somehow sidesteps the gravely voice for which he’s known and performs the story with a smoother, almost higher-pitched voice. He hints at a British accent to help transport the listener to the land where the poor main character’s sentence has been handed down by a row of black-cloaked judges.

Lastly, we have the other standout track of this collection: Auberjonois’ reading of “The Black Cat.” His frantic unfolding of the events of the story, peppered with the main character’s insanity, build to an impressive climax of madness and relief. “The Black Cat” is another example of Poe’s humor subtly shining.

Audio recordings of Poe have existed for years, perhaps most famously the ones performed by Vincent Price. And because Poe's works are public domain material, my guess is there's an awful lot of recorded material to sift through. However, this edition of Selected Shorts is one of the best. And with Halloween coming up (fist pump!), it's a perfect time to grab this new set.


More info on Symphony Space.

About Selected Shorts (from the Press Release):

Selected Shorts, the acclaimed short story series recorded live in performance at Symphony Space and broadcast nationally on public radio, is releasing a 2-disc set highlighting 8 of the most popular short stories and poems from Edgar Allan Poe on September 1, 1012.

Poe! is a deliciously gripping sampling of the mad imagination of 19th century gothic master of horror and suspense, murder and mayhem, Edgar Allan Poe. The creepy, breathtaking, and soulful classic tales include: “The Masque of the Red Death,” the terrifying and ironic story of a nobleman who attempts to seal himself and his friends away from a terrible plague raging outside, performed by Fionnula Flanagan (Transamerica); “The Pit and the Pendulum,” a hair-raising first-person account of a man in a torture chamber during the Spanish Inquisition, performed to a fare-thee-well by Stephen Lang (Avatar); “The Black Cat,” in which a man’s dead pet comes back to haunt him, performed by Tony winner Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal). Plus there are dreamy, mesmerizing and haunting readings of Poe’s wonderfully-atmospheric best-loved poems, “The Bells,” “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee.”

These thrilling performances will leave you breathless and happily terrified.

The 2 CD set contains:

The Tell-Tale Heart performed by Terrance Mann

The Raven performed by René Auberjonois, Fionnula Flanagan, Isaiah Sheffer and Harris Yulin

The Masque of the Red Death performed by Fionnula Flanagan

The Cask of Amontillado performed by David Margulies

The Bells performed by René Auberjonois, Fionnula Flanagan, Isaiah Sheffer and Harris Yulin

The Pit and the Pendulum performed by Stephen Lang

Annabel Lee performed by René Auberjonois, Isaiah Sheffer and Harris Yulin

The Black Cat performed by René Auberjonois

Selected Shorts is an award-winning, one-hour radio program featuring readings of classic and new short fiction, recorded live at New York’s Symphony Space and on tour around the US. Each week on public radio stations nationwide, great actors from stage, screen, and television bring short stories to life. One of the most popular series on the airwaves, this unique show is hosted by Isaiah Sheffer and produced for radio by Symphony Space and WNYC New York Public Radio, and distributed by PRI. Selected Shorts is broadcast on 143 public radio stations nationwide for 300,000 listeners weekly. The podcast has over 300,000 iTunes subscribers.

Aug 29, 2012

LEVITY


Word on the street is Soylent Green is made of people.

(Probably more of that left-wing propaganda.)

Aug 28, 2012

SHITTY FLICKS: JAWS: THE REVENGE

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.


Jaws: The Revenge did for the Jaws series what Snooki did for pop culture: made things more retarded. Pre-3D Dennis Quaid, the Jaws series was pretty respectable, and granted, while we're only talking two films here, Jaws 2 had a lot to live up to. Compared to how sequels usually go, Amity's second go-around with a killer shark is pretty good. But then that fateful day came when Jaws: The Revenge/Snooki was born. And they have been lowering the bar ever since.

Jaws: The Revenge begins in December in the small, sea-side town of Amity. Choirs rehearse, people merrily shop, and a shark uncharacteristically swims in the freezing cold Amity waters, hanging out near the old piece of drift wood it's put in place to lure out the youngest son of his arch nemesis, Chief Brody (Roy Scheider, who opted not to return in any further Jaws films following Jaws 2, yet would agree to star in even worse direct-to-video sequels to fucking Dracula 2000—but I’m not bitter. RIP, by the way).

Ellen Brody, widow of Martin, fries a disturbing looking fish for dinner as her youngest son, Sean, the new Chief Brody of Amity, hangs out and stares at his mother with an unintentional, yet undeniable, look of lust. They receive a call from Mike, the eldest Brody son (cult hero Lance Guest) who is on a cushy grant assignment in the Bahamas. They make witty phone banter, reminding us that this is what real families do, and that what we’re about to experience—a shark methodically stalking members of a specific bloodline—is a problem real families face every day.

"Yeah, sure, I'll do 'Revenge of Jaws.' Just let me beat
my pride with a log and I'll be right there." - Roy Scheider

Later, Sean, having Christmas shopped while on duty, is on his way out the police station door to spend the holidays with his family when Polly, his old hen secretary, informs him that some piece of drift wood is caught under a buoy and needs to be towed away, lest it cause some sort of accident from all that late night, bitter-as-cold Christmas traffic. Brody relents, climbing aboard his boat after reminding various passersby that he shares a connection with them—that he is a part of their lives and history, as they are a part of his.

And then the shark eats both of his arms.

Seriously? A man who has had two previous shark encounters feels his best course of action, after having both arms ripped off by a shark that is intent on killing him, is to lean his whole fucking body over the side of his boat as he shouts to the nearby shore for help?

Of course, no one hears him, and he is eaten about as quickly as the realization that set in for people who paid to see this movie that they were watching a train wreck.

Ellen cries.

Mike and his family fly home to Amity for the funeral, where Mike sees that Ellen is going batty, since she's convinced the shark Martin Brody killed at the end of the first film 15 years prior is back to kill off the family (which is true...?). Ellen claims that Chief Brody was killed by the shark, to which Mike retorts it was a heart attack. “It was the fear,” Ellen turds. “The fear of it killed him!”

Ellen cries.

Mike convinces her to come to the Bahamas with him for a vacation away from all the drama. Ellen agrees. They board the ferry to the mainland to begin their journey to a warmer climate, and hopefully, happier times.

Ellen cries.

On their flight to the Bahamas, we are introduced to one of the least-imaginatively named characters in cinema history: Hoagie, played by Michael Caine, who famously could not accept his Oscar for Hannah and Her Sisters in person because he was off filming this monstrosity. The genesis of his character name came from the screenwriter's realization that he could no longer coast on the already-established series' characters and would have to come up with his first original name. And so he sat back in his chair, stared at his store-bought dinner, and said, “What the fuck should I name him?”

Michael Caine would eventually go on record with his thoughts on the movie with one of the most fantastic things anyone has ever said about their own work: "I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific."

(penis joke)

The family arrives at Mike’s home and Ellen freaks out almost immediately, as Mike’s young daughter, Thea, plays on a rope swing out on the water. Ellen then feels like a burden and probably cries.

Later, Mike is out on the water doing his bullshit experiments on conch shells, and we meet Jake, played by Mario Van Peebles, whose mock Bahamian accent offends both the ears and true natives.

Meanwhile, Ellen swims out in the middle of the ocean when she suddenly realizes this is an awful idea and gets the spooks. She begins to swim to shore when she is savagely attacked by a shark and is killed. Her blood mingles with that of the warm, island waters the end.

Oh, wait, I’m sorry. That was just a dream sequence. God, I’m really sorry—I was completely fooled there for a second. I really thought that our lead character would completely break character, spend time in a place that she's deathly afraid of, and then die halfway through her own film. 

Turns out there’s about another hour of this to get through. My bad.

Out during a routine conch shell tagging, which is probably the least interesting thing marine biologists could ever desire to do, the shark makes its presence known by sidling on up next to Jake as he farts around in his tiny little whatever-the-fuck mobile at the bottom of the ocean.

“There’s a big fish down here, mon,” Jake gurgles into the walkie talkie.

Mike, up on the surface on their boat, smiles, maybe remembering his dismembered dead brother.

“Oh yeah? How big?”

Cue the shark suddenly popping out of the water and chewing dumbly on the side of the boat for a moment before giving up and sinking below the water.

(stuffy British voice) "Notice how the shark propels itself
upward on its haunches to investigate the black man with the
odd hair. The shark manages to hold its whole body out of the
water using a method we call magic."

Jake escapes back to the surface since the shark couldn’t give less of a shit about him, and he has a joygasm in his shorts, enthusiastically making very preliminary plans on how to track the shark. Mike forlornly sits on the side of the boat, remembering that one time his family was destroyed by a very similar shark. Jake realizes he’s being a dick and unbelievably insensitive and the two wrestle.

Later, Jake attaches a heartbeat tracking device to the shark and hooks it up to a monitor, which will alert them if the shark is ever within close proximity. It should be noted that Jake is capable of creating inventive machines to help aid in the tracking of a great white shark, something no one had ever done up to that point, yet devotes his studies to finding out how conch shells fuck and move.

Ellen and Hoagie grow closer and closer, almost on the verge of having old sex, when something less disturbing happens: The shark attacks Thea while she is out on the water and eats the woman sitting right behind her.

Ellen, sick of this shit, takes Mike’s boat and heads out to sea, her eyes narrowed, her old, gnarled hands grasping the wheel, her dry skin stretched over her forehead like a child’s mask. What her plan is remains unknown by the audience and probably her. All we know is she’s pissed (because the music says we have to think that).

Mike returns home, sees his daughter in a semi-comatose state, and then leaves to chase down his mother with the help of Jake, who apparently sits the fuck home and does nothing as the whole island is besot with shark-inflicted trauma.

On their way to find another boat, they run into Hoagie, and the three hop into his plane to find Ellen, who has made incredible, space travel-like time to get so far out into the middle of nowhere. The plane discovers her as she is in the throes of her genius plan: to stand at the bow and sit there like old, white shit as the shark pops up out of the water to eat her flaccid body. Luckily, Hoagie is an ace pilot, and he flies so low that it knocks her out of her stupid ‘whoa-as-me’ trance, saving her life and keeping her on the planet for at least 3-4 more years.

SHARK DANCE PARTY!!

Hoagie attempts a water landing, which is impossibly successful. Mike and Jake swim for the boat, and Hoagie, instead of getting his old ass in gear and swimming for the boat himself, opts to just stand on the wing of the plane and make old cockney jokes.

The shark then pops up and eats Hoagie. How ironic.

Mike and Jake reach the boat and everyone hugs.

Ellen cries.

Then Hoagie pops up to alleviate the high dramatic tension this movie thinks it’s creating, fresh out of the water, yet, completely dry. Hoagie makes about five unfunny jokes in a row before they figure out they should probably concoct a way not to die. Jake turns a flashlight into something that sends out electronic pulses to the tracking device attached to the shark and can fuck with the shark’s sonar, thus confusing it so they can….do something that remains unknown. If anyone has a plan to follow up the pulse thing, nobody’s talking.

Jake steps out on the ledge of the bow to shoot electronic pulses at the shark. The shark responds by shoving his head out of the water and screaming. Jake does this a bunch of times until the shark pops up out of the water right under him. Jake attempts to shove the whole flashlight gizmo into the shark’s mouth, which I guess is supposed to make it explode.

Somehow.

Well, Jake falls directly into the shark’s mouth because he is a dumb, dumb fuck.

Mike screams one of cinema's greatest slow-motion screams.

Ellen cries.

If you watch this scene barely carefully, you’ll see that the shark, with Jake firmly entrenched in its jaws, then lowers itself snout-first back into the water, which would indicate that this shark is completely out of the water for such a move to make any kind of physically realistic sense.

Note to filmmakers: sharks are not snakes. Also, they do not growl/scream.

"How do you do daht wit you body, mon?"

Mike makes his own flashlight gizmo and tries the same damn thing. The shark again screams like a dinosaur each time it receives a shock. Ellen steers the boat, and as she does so, inexplicably has flashbacks to Martin Brody’s bad-ass defeat of the shark in the first film, even though she wasn't actually there to see it. As Mike sends out pulses, Hoagie stares with his thumb up his ass and continues to make supremely inappropriate jokes, and Ellen steers the boat, and:

ENDING # 1
One last pulse from the flashlight pisses off and disorients the shark so much that it LITERALLY, and impossibly, stands completely perpendicular out of the water so that Ellen can steer the boat's broken bowspirit directly into it, stabbing it. The shark wiggles its head around as blood spews everywhere, and the boat is ripped apart by the flailing.


ENDING # 2
One last pulse causes the shark to literally EXPLODE, shooting pieces of shark gore everywhere. The force of the shark exploding also causes the entire boat to explode, and our cast is thrown into the “ocean,” and if you look carefully, you can see water clearly lapping up against the matte painting in the background. And despite the fact that the shark exploded to pieces, we see it sink slowly to the bottom of the ocean, letting its blood fill the screen until all we can see is red—a frankly beautiful shot in an otherwise shitty movie. And do you know why? Because it’s stolen, frame-for-frame, directly from the first Jaws.

The three survivors meet up in the water to talk about stuff going on in their lives when suddenly Jake, offensively alive, floats up to them and says hello. This is what we call an “homage.” This scene is an “homage” to the original Jaws, where Richard Dreyfuss suddenly shows up at the end after being gone for most of the final act, even though the audience thought he was dead. It was a little nudge at the audience,  the original filmmakers saying, “See? We had you! We had you so good you forgot about Richard Dreyfuss!” However, don’t be fooled. Jaws is a fantastic film - a true display of bravura filmmaking in the face of high on-set tensions and malfunctioning special effects.

Jaws: The Revenge isn’t.

Jaws: The Revenge shows a grown man being savagely chewed and eaten by a shark, and then pulled under water for several bloody minutes, but then has that man come back anyway so these very lame filmmakers can say, “See? We fooled you. You all thought Jake was dead because his chest was ripped apart and he was drowned.”

Anyway, why the two endings? It would seem Ending # 1 was the re-shot ending, which I guess was less stupid than Ending # 2—you know, the one featuring the spontaneous explosion.

TRIVIA!

The former president of Universal Studios, Sid Sheinberg, commissioned this film to be made as a birthday present to his wife. That wife? Lorraine Gary. And she reacted to the prospect of such an audacious birthday gift the same way audiences did after they saw this film so many moons ago.

She cried.

What I Learned from Jaws: The Revenge:
  • Sharks growl.
  • Sharks are capable of setting up elaborate traps to snare their victims.
  • Sharks hold grudges against people.
  • Sharks will avenge other sharks, even though they also eat each other.
  • People are named Hoagie.
  • Michael Caine will literally do anything for money.




Now Available:
The world’s oldest celebration comes to life in The End of Summer: Thirteen Tales of Halloween, an anthology that honors the darkest and strangest night of the year. Each story is designed to be intrinsically and intimately about Halloween—its traditions, its myths, and its effects—and they run the gamut from horrifying to heartbreaking. Halloween night is the tapestry through which a haunted house, a monstrous child, a late-night drive to a mysterious destination, and other tales are weaved. Demons are faced, death is defied, and love is tested. And not everyone makes it out alive. The End of Summer has arrived.

Aug 25, 2012

THAI FOOD

Thai Mother Allegedly Kills, Eats Sons

A Thai mother has been accused of killing, cooking and eating her sons because she thought they were pigs, the Bangkok Post reports. Hallucinations may have played a role in the tragic crime.

Police received a complaint last week that the woman, a member of the Musur hilltribe in Thailand's northernmost district of Chiang Mai, Mae Ai, allegedly "butchered" her two sons, ages 1 and 5, and proceeded to cook and eat them. According to the Bangkok Post, law enforcement officials allegedly found the woman asleep with several body parts strewn around her. Later, they reportedly learned she had been treated for mental illness since 2007.

A previous report from the Bangkok Post said that the woman stopped taking her medicine one or two months ago. A hospital report said the woman suffered from hallucinations and thought someone was coming to hurt her.

The news is the latest in a string of reported cases of cannibalism this year. Police busted a cult in Papua New Guinea in July for allegedly eating victims' brains and penises. In April, authorities in northeastern Brazil arrested three people for allegedly killing women and making pastries with their flesh.

Earlier this year, hallucinations caused by bath salts were thought to be behind an infamous face-eating attack in Miami, Florida. However, a toxicology report later showed that only marijuana was present in the attacker's system.

Source.

Yes, this image actually exists.
And I didn't even have to search "pig baby."

Aug 24, 2012

REVIEW: DOCUMENTING THE GREY MAN


Warning: Spoilery content contained throughout.

Many filmmakers will tell you that they are just as satisfied with their film having a negative reception as they are a positive one, their reasoning being that their film in some way challenged their audience and triggered an emotional response. For some filmmakers, I’m sure that’s true, and for others, it’s probably a curtain to hide behind when celluloid shit hits the critical fan.

The only thing Documenting the Grey Man triggered in me was an overwhelming desire to turn off the thing and try to salvage the rest of my hour (because the movie is an hour long).

The movie opens with our eventual ghost-hunting crew sitting down at some kind of low-rent fast food place as the “leader” lays it all out on the table. He wants to “investigate” a Pawley’s Island home, in which the family claims to be experiencing a haunting, possibly by the Grey Man, a well known South Carolina legend. He explains he basically wants to fake everything and record everything, because, ya know, I guess it's easier to immediately establish a reason why he's a dick, and why our film crew don't drop their cameras and run the hell home upon seeing the first instance of creep.

"Ya'll makin' a movee? Can I be Boom Man?"

The crew soon meets the family, including the little girl who seems to interact with the ghost (of course, since that’s become a common staple in the genre). Each family member is interviewed, and they each provide firsthand accounts of their so-called haunting. Sounds, things being moved, etc. Oh crap, the girl’s possessed. Everyone dies. Cut to black.

Thanks?

I was initially drawn to DTGM because of the found footage format it utilizes. Found footage movies are my weakness. I will always be tempted to sit down with one, no matter the concept, the budget, or the production company. Added to that, DTGM is based on a “true” story: that of the Grey Man, a mothman-like mysterious phantom who haunts the beach of Pawley’s island.

According to Wiki:
A local legend on the island has grown about the Gray Man. Thought to be the original owner of the Pelican Inn, the Gray Man is a friendly ghost who warns of impending hurricanes and protects the resident's houses from the storm. Serious hurricanes have struck in 1724, twice in 1752, 1822, 1911, 1954, and 1989. As recounted in an episode of the TV series Unsolved Mysteries, several different witnesses reported that they had seen the Gray Man shortly before Hurricane Hugo.
So, okay. That’s enough to capture my interest, as most ghost stories lean more toward the sensational and the dangerous. You often don’t hear stories of ghosts trying to be courteous and maternal.

Too bad DTGM had no idea what to do with this concept, as it eventually devolves into yet another film in which a camera crew runs around a house being pursued by an evil entity, intent on killing them all for no discernible reason whatsoever.


The performances are tepid pretty much across the board. Not a one of them feels at all natural or genuine, and each time a character speaks, you can’t help but realize that you’re not experiencing something even in the least bit real, but a really crappy direct-to-video movie. This becomes painfully evident once the in-movie documentary begins, and Pawley’s Island natives are interviewed. It’s almost astounding how unnatural and forced each interviewee appears, being that all they have to do, literally, is speak. There’s no need for a performance, because it’s just…talking. And they can't even do that. (The very first interviewee just may be the worst offender, going out of his way to sound as stereotypically black as possible, falling back on a “dammmmm!”, and even managing to shoe-horn in a bad joke about the business with the ghost being “white people’s” problems.)

In preparation for DTGM, writer/director Wayne Capps (who also plays the film’s fake psychic, and who also gives a performance so grating and irritating you start looking for a hammer to smash your television) intensely studied other found footage stalwarts like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. Then he threw out everything that worked about those movies and just winged it, resulting in a film in which people randomly wander around a house and then die by an invisible blow to the head. Seriously. Not a one death in DTGM (and come on, of course they all die) is the least bit compelling or interesting. The entire cast literally just falls down, one at a time, with bloody foreheads, complemented with a muffled “splat” sound added in post so viewers are able to understand what the hell just happened.

Hey, I have a question: Why base your film on a real legend, using said legend to set up your concept, and then abandon everything about that real legend just to do your own thing? That’s like saying, “I’m making a movie about Bigfoot,” but then instead make a movie in which Bigfoot walks around with a knife and stabs babysitters in Haddonfield. Couldn’t the in-movie filmmakers have unearthed anything at all – a single piece of evidence – to imply that perhaps the Grey Man isn’t as helpful as his legend dictates; that his existence isn’t as romantic as Pawley’s Island wants to believe? Couldn’t the film have unearthed some kind of revelation to explain why everything previously known about the Grey Man was terribly incorrect? After all, they had an otherwise unused half-hour to play with. But I guess they were too excited to get to the game-changing money shot in which the entire cast throw their heads back and fall down.

Post-rough cut viewing.

When the credits rolled I stared at my television, and then after a while, I said, “Why bother?”

And that’s the real question here: why bother making DTGM? Nothing was gleamed, nothing new was introduced, at no point was it remotely creepy, and the legend on which it was based was completely dismissed after the first ten minutes.

Actually, after having written this review, I may have been wrong. I guess the film triggered an emotional response in me after all: unbridled anger.

Aug 23, 2012

CALLING ALL BLOGGERS


What I'm proposing is a month long event full of...stuff. Guest reviews, posts, interviews with people (bloggers, authors and publishers) on what, if any, scary books they like. A month full of this stuff here. As long as it's scary to some degree, it's welcome. Oh, and then a giveaway. Lots of them. On all your blogs. For the last week on October, everyone who's taken part (and wants to) will host a giveaway for anything of your choice-obviously related to spooky books.
If anyone of you fellow bloggers would like to join in on this community celebration of Halloween, check out Nina's site.

Aug 21, 2012

REVIEW: THE SCARLET WORM


Every modern western will most likely be compared to Clint Eastwood’s 1992 epic Unforgiven. And any western should be flattered when used in the same breath; however, any western is also doomed in the same respect. Beyond the tenuous connection between The Scarlet Worm and Unforgiven, in that both of them are westerns, there is actually quite a bit similarly thematic between the two than just the former's lineage. Unforgiven – about a former and aging outlaw tasked with dispatching a couple of ruthless cowboys for cutting up a whore - is a rightful classic. The film, in which Eastwood’s Will Munny teams up with a young hotshot and an equally aging loyal partner, was a movie made in a time when the western was all but dead. Any other western brave enough to try since has no choice but to pale in comparison. Such similarities will serve as The Scarlet Worm’s own condemnation, simply because the similarities cannot be ignored.

A rogue and hired gunman named Print (Aaron Stielstra) brings a tedious and almost poetic touch to his assassinations. He’ll spend hours crouching in a ditch, waiting for just the right moment to unleash a single bullet that will claim the lives of not one but two of his targets. One day, he receives his next assignment from his contact, Mr. Paul (Brett Halsey). It seems that there’s a rather vicious whoremaster named Heinrich Kley (Daniel Van Husen) forcing graphic abortions among his hired women. Mr. Paul wants a stop to it, and so he bequeaths the job to Print…with a twist. Print must also shepherd a wet-behind-the-ears, would-be assassin to accompany him on the job. Along the way, Print and his protégé infiltrate Heinrich’s operation, and because of Print’s unusual way of dispatching his targets, Heinrich’s assassination does not come quickly. Print immerses himself in Heinrich’s world, becoming privy to his sociopathic mind firsthand. During this time, the protégé grows a little too attached to one of Heinrich’s women, and all sorts of complications arise because of it.


The Scarlet Worm really wants to be more than the sum of its parts. The introspective narration provided by Print, as well as the seemingly unconnected opening/closing involving a Native American shaman, seems to really want to suggest a spirituality and otherworldliness. The problem with The Scarlet Worm is that it doesn't know how to do so with enough confidence. The pace is a plodding one, causing the viewer not to stop and smell the flowers, but rather to check their watch. It falls victim to the problems that plague most low budget features. While the direction is assured, the performances aren’t confident, the tone isn’t consistent, and the editing is way too lose. Shots linger far longer than necessary, something "Twin Peaks" director David Lynch does on purpose to flip convention on its ears. Meaning, watch a man laugh for too long and it becomes uncomfortable; watch a woman cry for too long and it becomes funny. Doing this on purpose is a tactic rarely utilized, but doing it by accident is just plain unfortunate. And the audio, my god, the audio! Someone buy this crew a windscreen for their mics, please! Nearly every outdoor scene sounds just as poorly recorded as your uncle’s camcorder capture of your soccer match from autumn, 1989.

Stielstra as Print provides the strongest performance, but even he falters from time to time, not quite infusing it with enough bravado. At times he seems unsure of the antiquated western jargon his character must unfurl, and such instances lose the viewer almost immediately.


Van Husen as Heinrich Kley is consistently effective, and his understated evil provides a nice complement to Print’s understated good. His biblical reiteration of the crimson (aka scarlet) worm is very well done, and might be the strongest and most assured scene.

Director Michael Fredianelli has talent – there is no denying that. Though the movie might be an inconsistent mess, he has a keen eye, and he beautifully captures the bright surroundings of the sandy landscape, utilizing natural light in most scenes to illuminate every nook and cranny of the location. Many of the shots are beautiful, almost heavenly…until the wind blows directly into the mic and sends you screaming from the room.

Seriously, folks! Wind screens!

Any person attempting a western – especially one with a low budget – deserves accolades. It’s a genre most consider dead, and one which even the most seasoned veterans won’t touch. It's just a shame it didn't make for a better experience.


Aug 20, 2012

R.I.P. TONY SCOTT


We don't know why you did it. I suspect, in time, we will.

But you shouldn't have.

Bad news. 

UPDATED: ABC News is now reporting that Scott had received a diagnosis of inoperable brain cancer prior to his suicide.

Aug 18, 2012

LEVITY

Going to the store! It's not at all horror related, but a few folks I've sent it to have said, "That's creepy." So, here. I think I've watched this 30 times.

Warning: Very stupid humor to follow.


Aug 17, 2012

THIS JUST IN

Man Bites, Eats Dog While High on 'Spice'

A Texas man faces a felony charge after he allegedly bit, killed and ate a housemate's pet dog while high on the synthetic drug "spice."

The alleged attack is the latest in the series of violent and bizarre incidents linked to spice, which mimics the effects of marijuana, and bath salts, which mimics cocaine.

Michael Daniel, 22, allegedly smoked spice in his Waco, Texas home before he assaulted his housemates and then ran out of the house into his yard, where he began crawling around on his hands and knees. He barked and growled at a neighbor and chased him back into his home.

Daniel then allegedly took his housemate's dog, a medium-sized spaniel mix, out onto the house's porch. He allegedly beat and strangled the dog, according to Waco Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton, and then began chewing "hunks of flesh" from the animal.

Daniel's housemates called police and requested emergency assistance, saying Daniel was "going crazy." Officers arrived at the house to find Daniel sitting on the porch with "blood and fur around his mouth" and with the dead dog lying in his lap, Swanton said.

Daniel, who police say told his housemates he was "on a bad trip" just before the alleged rampage on June 14, was charged on Monday with cruelty to a non-livestock animal.

The incident in Waco follows a series of bizarre attacks by people allegedly high on synthetic drugs, including a Glendale, Calif. man striking a 77-year-old woman with a shovel last week, a homeless man eating the face off another homeless man in Miami in May, and a man in Milton, Fla. biting into the hood of a police cruiser in February.


Aug 15, 2012

SHITTY FLICKS: DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS

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.


A movie should not be judged by its synopsis. Despite how absurd any particular scenario for a film might sound in the very early scripting stages, the majority of these odd-sounding concepts usually become fantastic cinema. Spell out the basics of some of your favorite films and you’ll see that I’m right.

Man dresses up as giant bat and chases a clown. Sounds dumb, doesn’t it? But that’s Batman, friends, and it’s awesome.

Guy from Moonlighting with no shoes kills entire team of terrorists led by Alan Rickman: Die Hard.

Group of forty-somethings own “ghost busting business” and they make a lot of money because New York has so many ghosts in it and at the end they fight a giant man made of marshmallow: Xanadu.

The point is this: “a bed that eats people” is one of those wonderful concepts that gave birth to an even wonderfuller movie (in the bad way). All you need to know about the plot of Death Bed: The Bed That Eats is in its title.
GEORGE BARRY: THE BARRY WHO MURDERS CINEMA

The movie was written, directed and shat out by George Barry in 1972, assembled in 1977, and then forgotten about soon after. Seriously, the man who wrote, directed, shot, edited and solicited the tale of Death Bed: The Bed That Eats literally forgot the movie existed, or at least claims to.

Because no company wanted to touch a movie like this with a ten-foot death bed, nor spend the money to blow it up from its current size of 16mm to 35mm (the standard exhibition size), the movie languished in a tin can for years. Eventually a print of it somehow leaked and became an extremely popular bootlegged item in foreign territories. George Barry stumbled across this information a few years back, said, “Nice! I MADE this!” and got the movie released on a cult DVD label in 2003, more than thirty years after the movie was shot.

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats regales the audience with the story of The Bed, an old bed that resides in an abandoned mansion and whose only companionship comes in the form of a forlorn ghost who is trapped in a painting and provides us with exposition in the form of morose narration. Turns out this man was an artist who had grown very sick many moons ago, and as he was lying in The Bed, he painted it, since he would most likely die in it. Then The Bed ate him, transporting his soul (somehow) to the painting. The same thing happened to Bob Ross, who died years ago and is now stuck in a boring painting of a grey mountain.

Every once in a while, a group of travelers will enter the abandoned mansion in which this bed resides, usually end up lying on the bed for a nap or for a bit of the sex, and end up getting sucked into The Bed’s inner goo, which looks like a fish tank filled with piss. Once you get sucked into The Bed, you end up in said tank where you moan and writhe until you succumb to the piss and it turns you into a grinning store-bought skeleton. 

That’s…pretty much it.

“Why would you even watch this movie?”

Hey, fuck you.

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats is told in four parts: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and The Just Desserts. I’m not even kidding; there are title cards and everything.

The movie begins with roughly 30 seconds of complete black, complemented by munching and chewing sounds. So, not even 30 seconds into the movie, you’re already saying, “what the fuck is this?” 

We then meet Breakfast: a young hippie couple going on some sort of picnic…on the bed.

The two unveil their meal fit for kings: two apples, a bottle of wine and a bucket of fried chicken.

“I’m hungry!” cries the girl. No time for food, though, as these two have some serious heavy petting to do. They kiss and hug, and while in their awkward embrace, The Bed licks its bed lips and prepares for its first meal in a long time (in bed years).

The Bed starts off its meal with an appetizer and expels orange foam (Bed Tongue) over the picnic food brought by the couple and sucks it down into its gooey piss goo; first the apples, then the chicken, and finally completing its free meal with the bottle of wine. And yes, despite the fact that this movie isn’t trying to be funny, the bed burps. Not only that, it also makes slurping noises when eating and drinking, and it even laughs sometimes. At one point, it even downs a bottle of Pepto Bismol, but no—we’re still not kidding around here—we’re dead serious.

Ohhh, mmm, the couple, now in their extreme height of animal passion, wants to eat some cold chicken before going back to their dry humping and finger banging. But instead of putting their hands into a bucket of cold greasy chicken, they grab only a handful of bones and apple cores.

Hey, how’d that happen?

Hey, do you care?

Because they don’t, and they go right back to kissing.

But wait, isn't spontaneous consumption suspicious?

Well, see, the boyfriend states, “Must’ve been a mistake.”

Right? It happens. I’ve ordered chicken before and gotten generic sitcom garbage.

“Oh well, I’m not hungry anyway!” cries the same girl that cried she was hungry seriously 20 seconds ago. The Bed then closes its bed curtains of doom and the couple screams as they may or may not be eaten. Who really remembers at this point? I watch shit like this for fun, and you can’t tell me it doesn’t fuck holes in my brain.

The Apple's dream of being in a guy-girl threesome
was about to be ruined by some premature ejaculatory foam.

Throughout the movie, the painting ghost will go on to unfold the origins of The Bed, and the needlessly complicated history adds a bit of charm to this wonderful story of The Bed of Death. A long time ago, an unexplained, intangible spirit of the earth fell in love with a human woman and it constructed this bed in hopes of making love to her with its spirit cock. However, the Supreme Court of the Spirits ruled this sort of union un-Spirit in definition, and the union was destroyed after the woman was killed. The spirit cursed the bed, creating The Bed, and fled, checking himself into Spirit Rehab for depression, aka the surrounding woods of the house. And thus The Bed has been sitting ever since, waiting to snack on some delicious asshole.

Later, a carload of young gals pulls up alongside the titular bed's house, which is inside and patiently waiting for some road-weary travelers to plant their butt on its shockingly clean sheets so it can “tap that ass” directly into its bed mouth.

When the car first pulls up, there are definitely only two people within, but thanks to some sloppy editing, a third suddenly appears in the back seat. Or perhaps I’m just mistaken. I’m sure the man who wrote Death Bed knows what he’s doing.

These three girls—Diane, Sharon and Susan—will serve as the crux of the story. While the plot will meander like Pulp Fiction and tell the tale of the bed from different time periods, we eventually return to our women to see what’s the deali-o.

Susan decides to sleep in The Bed while Sharon and Diane wander the grounds and have a lesbian picnic of highly suggestive foods like sausage and large pickles. Hopefully they saved Susan some food, because she’s going to be hungry when she wakes up from her nap. Oh wait, no she won’t, because The Bed methodically undresses the girl and eats her after she inexplicably dreams of her two companions feeding her a plate of bugs.

Jeff stared in disgust at the receipt, seeing he had been
overcharged during his recent trip to Big Stuff For Tiny Doll People.

We then take a break and we meet Dinner, my favorite characters in the film. They consist of three awesomely, 70s fashions-dressed men and their whore companion. Whore goes to The Bed immediately with one of the men and they get eaten.

Later, the other two men play cards and wear incredibly fake looking mustaches…on THE BED! At one point, The Bed attempts to bite the mustachioed man on his caboose, so he takes out his gun and fires shots into The Bed. And by shooting, I mean that he literally just holds the gun, figuring that the “pop” sound effect will be added later, so he doesn’t even attempt to mime the motion of the bullet’s expulsion.

Back to Lunch, Sharon and Diane are unable to find Susan, so they assume she has run off to be by herself. Sharon decides to go looking for Susan while Diane plans to get into The Bed for a nap. And nap she does—TO DEATH. She awakens from another laughably abstract dream to see that The Bed has begun swallowing her legs, and probably making icky sucking sounds.

Diane pulls herself free somehow and hurtles herself to the floor, and for the next 10-15 minutes, we’re forced to watch her slowly, slowly, slowly pull herself across the floor towards the door. Luckily her escape takes so fucking long that Sharon, back from searching for Susan, hears her cries and attempts to help. As the audience breathes a heavy sigh of relief, knowing Diane is safe, The Bed whips a sheet at her leg, encircling around her like a creepy uncle’s hand at Christmastime, and eats her black ass. Sharon’s valiant attempt to pull her friend out of The Bed’s grasp results only in yanking off Diane’s goddamned finger, somehow. Just as Sharon is also about to meet her bed fate, The Bed associates her beauty with that of the woman the Spirit loved so many years ago and it spares her. And just in time, too, because Sharon’s brother, who is not given a name in the movie, shows up for no reason.

After listening to Sharon’s outlandish tales of The Bed, the brother takes out his knife and stabs The Bed. Wrong move to make, Guy Who Looks Like Tim Robbins In Jacob’s Ladder, as The Bed spews forth a fine lather of Bed Goo and the man’s hands are instantly eaten, relegating him to calmly wave his brand new skeleton hands in front of his face as he looks on with a certain dreamlike awe and blandly states, “there’s no flesh.”

Tim Robbins had dropped acid plenty of times before,
but it was never like this...never like this...

(TRIVIA! While watching Brother wave his bone hands in front of his face, this will give you time to recognize this man that you grew up watching. That’s right! Corey’s dad from "Boy Meets World"!)

Brother asks Sharon if she could do him a solid—if she could wrench his skeletal hands free from his body and throw them in the roaring fireplace. She complies, because why not?

The trapped painting ghost finally decides to be of some use and tells Sharon how she can defeat The Bed. Sharon, who resembles the dead chick that The Bed loved, has to kill herself, which would, for unknown reasons, resurrect The Bed’s great love. So, after dragging Corey’s Dad to a field, she offs herself, resurrecting the girl that looks like her. Recently Resurrected Lost Love of The Bed begins to inexplicably fuck Corey’s dad in the middle of this field and The Bed gets so depressed that it burns itself to bed death. And thank Christ, because the narrator is finally freed from his painting prison, as if that was ever anyone’s concern to begin with.

So everyone wins, really.

Sharon is dead.

Diane is dead.

Susan is dead.

I guess Corey’s Dad is alright, although he’ll be forced to live out the rest of his life with no hands—but he’ll have an amazing story to drunkenly tell at the bar until he gets his ass handed to him for shattering all the expensive beer steins with his metal claws.

Aug 14, 2012

SOMETHING WRONG

"If you're wise, you'll run, dear, run... because to stay will mean worse than your death."

Aug 13, 2012

PILLIGA PRINCESS

She was a recluse, old, grey haired and crazy, and they dubbed her the Pilliga Princess. She became quite well known, but one night she was hit and killed by a truck. The trucker who hit her said she had been wandering across the road and he hadn’t seen her until it was too late. He told how as she was lit by the headlights, she turned to look directly at him and ran toward him, arms outstretched. The last thing he saw of her alive was the white hair flaring out around her wild-eyed face and the expression was one of manic glee.

Many other truckers since then claim they have seen her walking her trolley at night, just as she had done for years before she was killed. One truck driver even claimed to have hit her trolley, but with no Princess in sight.

Listen to a very unnerving (and Australian) eyewitness account.
 
Text source.

Aug 12, 2012

CREEP

I was young, perhaps six, but definitely less than ten. Even at the age of six, I slept in a crib because my family was poor and my father was slowly building me a shoddy bed frame at the time. I remember trying to sleep and my hand was poking out of the bars of the crib. And I was half asleep - in that weird state where you're aware that you've dozed off. Then I felt and heard what could have been the most terrifying thing imaginable. I felt something grabbing my index finger on the hand poking out of the bars. And I heard a conversation between whatever it was that was holding my finger and its friend. They said something to the effect of, "See, how nice it looks and feels? It's growing." And I heard cackling. And while this was happening I made certain to keep my eyes shut and I held my breath. Then I felt my finger released from the grip of whatever it was.

Story Source.

Image Source.

Aug 11, 2012

THE REAL SILENT HILL


“This was a world where no human could live, hotter than the planet Mercury, its atmosphere as poisonous as Saturn's. At the heart of the fire, temperatures easily exceeded 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Lethal clouds of carbon monoxide and other gases swirled through the rock chambers." 
Centralia is a borough and ghost town in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, United States. Its population has dwindled from over 1,000 residents in 1981 to 12 in 2005,  9 in 2007, and 10 in 2010, as a result of a mine fire burning beneath the borough since 1962. Centralia is one of the least-populated municipalities in Pennsylvania.

There is some disagreement over the specific event which triggered the fire. David DeKok, after studying available local and state government documents and interviewing former borough council members, argues in Unseen Danger and its successor edition, Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire, that in May 1962, the Centralia Borough Council hired five members of the volunteer fire company to clean up the town landfill, located in an abandoned strip-mine pit next to the Odd Fellows Cemetery. This had been done prior to Memorial Day in previous years, when the landfill was in a different location. On May 27, 1962, the firefighters, as they had in the past, set the dump on fire and let it burn for some time. Unlike in previous years, however, the fire was not fully extinguished. An unsealed opening in the pit allowed the fire to enter the labyrinth of abandoned coal mines beneath Centralia.
Joan Quigley argues in her 2007 book, The Day the Earth Caved In, that the fire had in fact started the previous day, when a trash hauler dumped hot ash and/or coal discarded from coal burners into the open trash pit. She noted that borough council minutes from June 4, 1962 referred to two fires at the dump, and that five firefighters had submitted bills for "fighting the fire at the landfill area." The borough, by law, was responsible for installing a fire-resistant clay barrier between each layer, but fell behind schedule, leaving the barrier partly incomplete. This allowed the hot coals to penetrate the vein of coal underneath the pit and light the subsequent subterranean fire. In addition to the council minutes, Quigley cites "interviews with volunteer firemen, the former fire chief, borough officials, and several eyewitnesses" as her sources for this explanation of the fire. Another theory of note is the Bast Theory. It states that the fire was burning long before the alleged trash dump fire. However, due to overwhelmingly contrary evidence, few hold this position, and it is given little credibility.

However it started, it is agreed that the fire remained burning underground and spread through a hole in the rock pit into the abandoned coal mines beneath Centralia. Attempts to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful, and it continued to burn throughout the 1960s and 1970s. 

In 1979, locals became aware of the scale of the problem when a gas-station owner and then mayor, John Coddington, inserted a stick into one of his underground tanks to check the fuel level. When he withdrew it, it seemed hot, so he lowered a thermometer down on a string and was shocked to discover that the temperature of the gasoline in the tank was 172 °F (77.8 °C). Statewide attention to the fire began to increase, culminating in 1981 when 12-year-old resident Todd Domboski fell into a sinkhole four feet wide by 150 feet (46 m) deep that suddenly opened beneath his feet in a backyard. Only the quick work of his cousin, 14-year-old Eric Wolfgang, in pulling Todd out of the hole saved Todd's life, as the plume of hot steam billowing from the hole was measured as containing a lethal level of carbon monoxide.

In 1984, the U.S. Congress allocated more than $42 million for relocation efforts. Most of the residents accepted buyout offers and moved to the nearby communities of Mount Carmel and Ashland. A few families opted to stay despite warnings from Pennsylvania officials.

In 1992, Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey invoked eminent domain on all properties in the borough, condemning all the buildings within. A subsequent legal effort by residents to have the decision reversed failed. In 2002, the U.S. Postal Service revoked Centralia's ZIP code, 17927. In 2009, Governor Ed Rendell began the formal eviction of Centralia residents

The Centralia mine fire extended into the town of Byrnesville, Pennsylvania and caused this town to become extinct also.
Very few homes remain standing in Centralia; most of the abandoned buildings have been demolished by the Columbia County Redevelopment Authority or nature. At a casual glance, the area now appears to be a field with many paved streets running through it. Some areas are being filled with new-growth forest.

The only indications of the fire, which underlies some 400 acres (1.6 km2) spreading along four fronts, are low round metal steam vents in the south of the borough and several signs warning of underground fire, unstable ground, and carbon monoxide. Additional smoke and steam can be seen coming from an abandoned portion of Pennsylvania Route 61, the area just behind the hilltop cemetery, and other cracks in the ground scattered about the area.




Source.

Aug 10, 2012

DEAD WALK

In times past, when the villages of Tana Toraja were still extremely isolated and difficult to visit, it is said that certain people had the power to make a dead man walk to his village in order to be present at his own funeral. In this way, relatives of the deceased were spared the necessity of having to carry his corpse. One particular area, Mamasa-West Toraja, was particularly well known for this practice…

According to the belief system of the people of Mamasa, the spirit of a dead person must return to his village of origin. It is essential that he meet with his relatives, so that they can guide him on his journey into the afterlife after the ceremonies have been completed. In the past, people of this area were frightened to journey far, in case they died while they were away and were unable to return to their village. If someone died while on a journey, and unless he has a strong magic power, it would be necessary to procure the services of an expert, to guide the dead person back to the village.

This is not intended metaphorically—the dead person would be made to walk from wherever he had journeyed back home, no matter how far away that was. The corpse would walk stiffly, without any expression on his face, in the manner of a robot. If anyone addressed the dead man directly, he would fall down senseless, unable to continue his journey. Therefore, those accompanying the deceased on the macabre procession had to warn people they met on their path not to talk directly to the dead man. The attendants usually sought out quiet paths where the procession was less likely to meet with strangers…


Source.

Aug 9, 2012

REVIEW: AEGRI SOMNIA

 
Films like Aegri Somnia, tales of nightmarish figures and landscapes as experienced through the eyes of our "unreliable" lead character, date back as far as 1920 with the German silent film classic, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. And since then we have seen plenty films about folks traversing their own personal hell and madness only to reach that inevitable conclusion where it turns out they are either dead, insane, in hell, or all of the above! 1990’s Jacob’s Ladder might just be the definitive take on the concept, and seems to have heavily inspired writer/director James Rewucki to make Aegri Somnia, whose title translates to “a sick man’s dreams.”

Edgar (Tyhr Trubiak) lives a miserable life. And who wouldn’t be miserable when everything’s in black and white? (Jokes!) He works a miserable job, goes home to a miserable and hateful wife, and can barely speak in full sentences without inserting Obama-like 20-second pauses in between his words. On one particular day, after a spat with his wife, she goes into the bathroom and takes her own life. This event will propel him into his self-imprisoned world of madness and guilt, where walking nightmares come to life and taunt him from dark corners. These brief trips into his subconscious begin to escalate, leading him to a very dark and dangerous revelation.


Along with Jacob’s Ladder, Aegri Somnia owes an awful lot to David Lynch’s 1977 oddity Eraserhead. From the black and white landscape to the introverted lead character to the deluge of pregnant pauses, Aegri Somnia is very much a spiritual reinterpretation of what might be one of the oddest but most accessible of Lynch's surreal repertoire. But Aegri Somnia also exists in a post-1980s world, featuring very familiar yet somehow unique-feeling set pieces and creatures. Dark-cloaked, rag-covered, and barbwire-encircled monsters whisper into Edgar’s ears and very much recall Clive Barker’s collection of demonic angels from his Hellraiser stories. And they jitter, chatter, and move unnaturally like the things following Tim Robbins in Jacob’s Ladder. Eerie images of bloody bathtubs and things in your periphery vision are the stuff of Freddy Krueger. It’s an interesting, engaging, creepy, yet flawed hodgepodge of horror cinema. 

By the time the ending happens, you can’t help but say, “no shit,” but much like the recent Shutter Island, the film isn’t so much about the ending as it is the journey. And it’s about our damaged character realizing what we as the audience already have a sneaking suspicion about: that he’s obscenity-screaming, Tom-Cruise-grinning insane.

*

While Aegri Somnia never manages to consistently capture the viewer from the first frame to the last (which can be fully attributed to the need for one more tightening pass in the editing room rather than a failure to tell a story), I must give all the credit in the world to writer/director James Rewucki. What he was able to accomplish on what must have been a very modest budget is an immediate cause for praise, regardless of the film’s overall success. It is a quiet film about quiet madness, and because of this the film will lose audiences more attuned to dripping monsters, whipping chains, and bloody murder. In fact, I can see most audiences downright hating it. Generally I am a big fan of films that try to bestow upon its audience the same feeling of insanity or hell that its characters are experiencing. Like Silent Hill, or The Cell before it, where the films lacked in strong stories or central characters it made up with fantastic visuals, and at the very least affects on a visceral level, if not on an emotional one. Aegri Somnia very much belongs in that category. It really does feel like a nightmare, and the visuals it contains are some of the most impressive I’ve seen within the low-budget horror world. (*And as an aside, the scene where Edgar buries his wife is shot fucking beautifully.)

While it's easy for abstract filmmakers to be labeled as pretentious simply because they want to present their film in an out-of-the-box manner, I do find Rewucki's choice to alternate sequences in black and white as well as color, along with the creatures' propensity for randomly whispering lines from T.S. Eliott, a little dubious. I'm sure Rewucki had a reason for doing both (you could make the argument that the creatures which haunt Edgar are the "hollow men" of which Eliot wrote, but if so, what's the significance of that poem to him in the first place?), but I just don't understand what that point was. And claims of pretension are caused not by abstract expression, but when there seems to be no rhyme or reason to utilize the tactic; and so the danger of Rewucki being labeled as such becomes dangerously close to being a fair criticism.


Regardless of my ultimate reaction to the film, I’ve been thinking about it off-and-on for the last three days. Filmmakers consider such a reaction to be a strength, whether that reaction be overwhelmingly positive or negative. Three days ago I had decided Aegri Somnia wasn't a film I ever had to see again, but the more I think about it, the more infectious the desire to revisit Edgar's nightmarish world is becoming.