Sep 30, 2013

BUGS DON'T BUZZ


A beautiful video for a beautiful song.

Sep 29, 2013

IT AIN'T THAT BAD: THE CELL

In this column, movies with less-than-stellar reputations are fairly and objectively defended. Full disclaimer establishes that said movies aren’t perfect, and aren’t close to being such, but contain an undeniable amount of worth that begs you for a second chance. Films chosen are based on their general reception by both critics and audiences, more often than not falling into the negative. Every film, no matter how dismal, has at least one good quality. As they say, it ain’t that bad.

Spoilers abound.


Some of the films featured in this column are total black sheep of the genre. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 and Hellraiser: Inferno - listen, I get it. While I don't totally agree with their condemnation, I do fully understand why people might dislike them and I happily allow them that dislike.

But I am genuinely befuddled about the hate for The Cell. It's a film I liked quite a bit the first time seeing it, and have since revisited several times to happily see that enthusiasm hasn't waned. I've long discovered that the horror genre gets a bad rap in the mainstream critical world. Bruce Campbell famously said horror sits one rung above the pornography rung on the ladder of film genre. And he's right. So when there's a new horror film on the cusp of release, it's not The New York Times or Time Magazine I turn to when looking for a fair critique - I head right over to Dread Central or Shock Till You Drop or any number of the other websites out there focusing exclusively on horror. If anyone is going to give a film a fair share, it's those guys. I bring this up because I feel the need to clarify that I can read a negative review for something like The Cell by a "legitimate" critic and not be confused. Because something like The Cell never really had a chance. But if "the other guys" didn't like it, then that's when you may officially color me confused.

And those other guys just did not like it. (And yet Roger Ebert did. What a world!)


Universally derided Jennifer Lopez plays Catherine Deane, a child psychologist employing an experimental approach in her work: her ability to enter the mind of her subject in an effort to examine his/her reality, and to allow her subject to see what her world looks like. This procedure takes (its toll on Catherine, both physically, in that it exhausts her and forces her to such stimulants as marijuana (run!) to come down, as well as emotionally, as despite how cutting edge the machinery is, it just doesn't seem to be helping her current patient.

Meanwhile, you've got Carl Stargher (Vincent D'Onofrio), a serial killer who likes to kidnap women and murder them, and then basically turn them into dolls. Hot on Stargher's trail is Peter Novak (Vince Vaugn, in an ever increasing rare dramatic performance), a detective intent on hunting down the madman before he claims another victim. Their paths soon cross and Novak locates Stargher at his home, but it's too late, as it would seem Stargher is now comatose, having suffered what would seem to be his last seizure. And it's really too late because Stargher did manage to kidnap one more girl and place her in his inescapable  apparatus, which over time fills with water, causing the victim to suffer and eventually drown. With only one person knowing the location of this apparatus, Novak requests the help of Catherine and her team to enter Stargher's mind and attempt to determine the location of this cell by sifting through the many layers of his madness.


A reviewer hailed The Cell as "The Silence of the Lambs meets The Matrix," and though I generally hate this kind of lazy and potentially devaluing of film, I have to say this is right on the money. You take a hunt for an infamous serial killer and marry it to this strange abstract world where everything seems possible and there are no physical rules to keep everything in place, and The Cell is exactly what you'd get. Many critics faulted this mash-up, not because of the approach, but because of the ol' "style over substance" bit, for which a lot of films get attacked. Too much Matrix, not enough Lambs, essentially. I suppose I can agree with that, as not only does the film definitely tote the admittedly fantastic visual effects, but except for the mind-suit gimmick, doesn't do that much with the serial killer route: the killer was abused as a child, has sexual issues, and for the most part retains no semblance of genuine human emotion. But how many times before have we seen the same old story but re-imagined in a different way that makes it exciting again? Look at 300, for instance - an over-the-top extravagance of bloody style that barely resembles the actual historical event which inspired it. How many times before have we seen the resolve of a few tested by an army of thousands and millions? 

J. Lo and V. Vau (ugh, sorry) both turn in pretty great performances, the former finding herself playing a role she's never played before, and likely won't again. Personal opinions of her aside, she manages to pull off a pretty good performance, and to satisfy our more basic cravings, she's gorgeous to watch, especially in the film's final moments when she's been dolled up as Stargher's demented queen.

One, please.

But the real star is here director Tarsem Singh (The Fall, The Immortals), who became famous for directing the music video for R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion." His visuals on display are nothing short of awe-inspiring. He manages to create entire landscapes that are both twisted as well as beautiful; revolting as well as sad; and some of them will flat-out fucking mystify you, such as the bodybuilder (perhaps a past victim) that comes to life only when needed to do Stargher's bidding, or any of the several bizarre set-pieces recreated from infamous and abstract art pieces.

If you were to accuse Tarsem of being more creatively engulfed by the idea of constructing this strange world rather than the serial killer aspect, he would have agreed with you:
You know, the serial-killer thing didn't interest me at all... At the turn of the century, a studio would make any film that had a serial killer in it. I just said, "Okay, so that's the nutshell I need to put it in? It's fine." In the '70s, everybody was making disaster movies. If I'd made The Cell in the '70s, it would have been about a burning building, with a guy having a dream on the 14th floor. I'd make it because of the dream, the studio would make it because of the building burning. Same thing here—I looked at the script, said "Oh, serial-killer thing—I don't give anything about that. Okay. Put that on the side. And inside his head… wow, clean palette." 

Then I came up with all this shit which was called overindulgent, masturbating on dead bodies or whatever. I just said, "All I'm saying with this is, don't laugh at this character, okay?" And that's it. That's what it took.
(Source: The AV Club.)



The Cell made enough bank the year of its release for New Line Cinema to consider it a success, and to ensure a very terrible direct-to-video sequel (though it would take several years). Despite its commercial success and mixed love from critics, Tarsem did not jump right into another studio project, but instead bankrolled The Fall, an independent feature shot in countries all over the world over a span of several years. It was also pretty fantastic, and far more interesting and satisfying than his next big studio project, The Immortals, which starred a pre-Man of Steel Henry Cavill. 

Tarsem has gone on record saying of all the genres he's worked in so far, he enjoys thrillers the most, and hopes to do another sometime soon.

All I can say is...hurry up.


Sep 27, 2013

LIKE FLYING...

In the year 1993 there was a contestant on the now defunct Nickelodeon show "GUTS" that gave what, at the time, seemed to be a peculiar interview. When asked about the events he had just participated in, his eyes glazed over and he had trouble speaking. He remarked that he felt as though he was flying and his face seemed both euphoric and strangely empty.
Neighbors of the boy would later go on record stating he acted differently after returning home that day, becoming emotionally distant and unable to focus on anything but his experience on the show.

Three months later, the police were called to investigate a noise complaint in a residential neighborhood just outside of San Fransisco. It was there they found the mutilated bodies of the boy’s mother, father, and baby sister strewn out on the front lawn. Police reports determined that the family members were likely pushed from the roof of their home, and then bludgeoned to death with a large object.

When police searched the house they found a poorly written note tucked underneath a rock shaped trophy stained with the victims’ blood. The note said simply, “I’m sorry. I just wanted them to feel what I felt.” The boy’s body was found unconscious face down on the floor of his parent’s bedroom and later declared dead en route to the hospital of presumably self inflicted trauma. 
The official report lists the case as a murder suicide and as a precautionary measure (and perhaps to dissuade the surviving family from filing suit against the company) the minimum age limit for contestants on "GUTS" was raised from 11 to 13. In addition the contestants were no longer given a “piece of the krag” after winning the competition, but rather a piece of paper certifying that they had in fact won. The boy’s episode did not air for sometime after, but recent reports have surfaced of its reintroduction into syndication.

Sep 25, 2013

TULPA

Last year I spent six months participating in what I was told was a psychological experiment. I found an ad in my local paper looking for imaginative people looking to make good money, and since it was the only ad that week that I was remotely qualified for, I gave them a call and we arranged an interview.

They told me that all I would have to do is stay in a room, alone, with sensors attached to my head to read my brain activity, and while I was there I would visualize a double of myself. They called it my "tulpa."

It seemed easy enough, and I agreed to do it as soon as they told me how much I would be paid. And the next day, I began. They brought me to a simple room and gave me a bed, then attached sensors to my head and hooked them into a little black box on the table beside me. They talked me through the process of visualizing my double again, and explained that if I got bored or restless, instead of moving around, I should visualize my double moving around, or try to interact with him, and so on. The idea was to keep him with me the entire time I was in the room.

I had trouble with it for the first few days. It was more controlled than any sort of daydreaming I'd done before. I'd imagine my double for a few minutes, then grow distracted. But by the fourth day, I could manage to keep him "present" for the entire six hours. They told me I was doing very well.

The second week, they gave me a different room, with wall-mounted speakers. They told me they wanted to see if I could still keep the tulpa with me in spite of distracting stimuli. The music was discordant, ugly and unsettling, and it made the process a little more difficult, but I managed nonetheless. The next week they played even more unsettling music, punctuated with shrieks, feedback loops, what sounded like an old school modem dialing up, and guttural voices speaking some foreign language. I just laughed it off - I was a pro by then.

After about a month, I started to get bored. To liven things up, I started interacting with my doppelganger. We'd have conversations, or play rock-paper-scissors, or I'd imagine him juggling, or break-dancing, or whatever caught my fancy. I asked the researchers if my foolishness would adversely affect their study, but they encouraged me.

So we played, and communicated, and that was fun for a while. And then it got a little strange. I was telling him about my first date one day, and he corrected me. I'd said my date was wearing a yellow top, and he told me it was a green one. I thought about it for a second, and realized he was right. It creeped me out, and after my shift that day, I talked to the researchers about it. "You're using the thought-form to access your subconscious," they explained. "You knew on some level that you were wrong, and you subconsciously corrected yourself."

What had been creepy was suddenly cool. I was talking to my subconscious! It took some practice, but I found that I could question my tulpa and access all sorts of memories. I could make it quote whole pages of books I'd read once, years before, or things I was taught and immediately forgot in high school. It was awesome.

That was around the time I started "calling up" my double outside of the research center. Not often at first, but I was so used to imagining him by now that it almost seemed odd to not see him. So whenever I was bored, I'd visualize my double. Eventually I started doing it almost all the time. It was amusing to take him along like an invisible friend. I imagined him when I was hanging out with friends, or visiting my mom, I even brought him along on a date once. I didn't need to speak aloud to him, so I was able to carry out conversations with him and no one was the wiser.

I know that sounds strange, but it was fun. Not only was he a walking repository of everything I knew and everything I had forgotten, he also seemed more in touch with me than I did at times. He had an uncanny grasp of the minutiae of body language that I didn't even realize I was picking up on. For example, I'd thought the date I brought him along on was going badly, but he pointed out how she was laughing a little too hard at my jokes, and leaning towards me as I spoke, and a bunch of other subtle clues I wasn't consciously picking up on. I listened, and let's just say that that date went very well.

By the time I'd been at the research center for four months, he was with my constantly. The researchers approached me one day after my shift, and asked me if I'd stopped visualizing him. I denied it, and they seemed pleased. I silently asked my double if he knew what prompted that, but he just shrugged it off. So did I.

I withdrew a little from the world at that point. I was having trouble relating to people. It seemed to me that they were so confused and unsure of themselves, while I had a manifestation of myself to confer with. It made socializing awkward. Nobody else seemed aware of the reasons behind their actions, why some things made them mad and others made them laugh. They didn't know what moved them. But I did - or at least, I could ask myself and get an answer.

A friend confronted me one evening. He pounded at the door until I answered it, and came in fuming and swearing up a storm. "You haven't answered when I called you in fucking weeks, you dick!" He yelled. "What's your fucking problem?"

I was about to apologize to him, and probably would have offered to hit the bars with him that night, but my tulpa grew suddenly furious. "Hit him," it said, and before I knew what I was doing, I had. I heard his nose break. He fell to the floor and came up swinging, and we beat each other up and down my apartment.

I was more furious then than I have ever been, and I was not merciful. I knocked him to the ground and gave him two savage kicks to the ribs, and that was when he fled, hunched over and sobbing.

The police were by a few minutes later, but I told them that he had been the instigator, and since he wasn't around to refute me, they let me off with a warning. My tulpa was grinning the entire time. We spent the night crowing about my victory and sneering over how badly I'd beaten my friend.

It wasn't until the next morning, when I was checking out my black eye and cut lip in the mirror, that I remembered what had set me off. My double was the one who'd grown furious, not me. I'd been feeling guilty and a little ashamed, but he'd goaded me into a vicious fight with a concerned friend. He was present, of course, and knew my thoughts. "You don't need him anymore. You don't need anyone else," he told me, and I felt my skin crawl.

I explained all this to the researchers who employed me, but they just laughed it off. "You can't be scared of something that you're imagining," one told me. My double stood beside him, and nodded his head, then smirked at me.

I tried to take their words to heart, but over the next few days I found myself growing more and more anxious around my tulpa, and it seemed that he was changing. He looked taller, and more menacing. His eyes twinkled with mischief, and I saw malice in his constant smile. No job was worth losing my mind over, I decided. If he was out of control, I'd put him down. I was so used to him at that point that visualizing him was an automatic process, so I started trying my damnedest to not visualize him. It took a few days, but it started to work somewhat. I could get rid of him for hours at a time. But every time he came back, he seemed worse. His skin seemed ashen, his teeth more pointed. He hissed and gibbered and threatened and swore. The discordant music I'd been listening to for months seemed to accompany him everywhere. Even when I was at home - I'd relax and slip up, no longer concentrating on not seeing him, and there he'd be, and that howling noise with him.

I was still visiting the research center and spending my six hours there. I needed the money, and I thought they weren't aware that I was now actively not visualizing my tulpa. I was wrong. After my shift one day, about five and a half months in, two impressively-sized men grabbed and restrained me, and someone in a lab coat jabbed a hypodermic needle into me.

I woke up from my stupor back in the room, strapped into the bed, music blaring, with my doppelganger standing over me cackling. He hardly looked human anymore. His features were twisted. His eyes were sunken in their sockets and filmed over like a corpse's. He was much taller than me, but hunched over. His hands were twisted, and the fingernails were like talons. He was, in short, fucking terrifying. I tried to will him away, but I just couldn't seem to concentrate. He giggled, and tapped the IV in my arm. I thrashed in my restraints as best I could, but could hardly move at all.

"They're pumping you full of the good shit, I think. How's the mind? All fuzzy?" He leaned closer and closer as he spoke. I gagged; his breath smelt like spoiled meat. I tried to focus, but couldn't banish him.

The next few weeks were terrible. Every so often, someone in a doctor's coat would come in and inject me with something, or force-feed me a pill. They kept me dizzy and unfocused, and sometimes left me hallucinating or delusional. My thoughtform was still present, constantly mocking. He interacted with, or perhaps caused, my delusions. I hallucinated that my mother was there, scolding me, and then he cut her throat and her blood showered me. It was so real that I could taste it.

The doctors never spoke to me. I begged at times, screamed, hurled invectives, demanded answers. They never spoke to me. They may have talked to my tulpa, my personal monster. I'm not sure. I was so doped and confused that it may have just been more delusion, but I remember them talking with him. I grew convinced that he was the real one, and I was the thoughtform. He encouraged that line of thought at times, mocked me at others.

Another thing that I pray was a delusion: he could touch me. More than that, he could hurt me. He'd poke and prod at me if he felt I wasn't paying enough attention to him. Once he grabbed my testicles and squeezed until I told him I loved him. Another time, he slashed my forearm with one of his talons. I still have a scar - most days I can convince myself that I injured myself, and just hallucinated that he was responsible. Most days.

Then one day, while he was telling me a story about how he was going to gut everyone I loved, starting with my sister, he paused. A querulous look crossed his face, and reached out and touched my head. Like my mother used to when I was feverish. He stayed still for a long moment, and then smiled. "All thoughts are creative," he told me. Then he walked out the door.

Three hours later, I was given an injection, and passed out. I awoke unrestrained. Shaking, I made my way to the door and found it unlocked. I walked out into the empty hallway, and then ran. I stumbled more than once, but I made it down the stairs and out into the lot behind the building. There, I collapsed, weeping like a child. I knew I had to keep moving, but I couldn't manage it.

I got home eventually - I don't remember how. I locked the door, and shoved a dresser against it, took a long shower, and slept for a day and a half. Nobody came for me in the night, and nobody came the next day, or the one after that. It was over. I'd spent a week locked in that room, but it had felt like a century. I'd withdrawn so much from my life beforehand that nobody had even known I was missing.

The police didn't find anything. The research center was empty when they searched it. The paper trail fell apart. The names I'd given them were aliases. Even the money I'd received was apparently untraceable.

I recovered as much as one can. I don't leave the house much, and I have panic attacks when I do. I cry a lot. I don't sleep much, and my nightmares are terrible. It's over, I tell myself. I survived. I use the concentration those bastards taught me to convince myself. It works, sometimes.

Not today, though. Three days ago, I got a phone call from my mother. There's been a tragedy. My sister's the latest victim in a spree of killings, the police say. The perpetrator mugs his victims, then guts them.

The funeral was this afternoon. It was as lovely a service as a funeral can be, I suppose. I was a little distracted, though. All I could hear was music coming from somewhere distant. Discordant, unsettling stuff, that sounds like feedback, and shrieking, and a modem dialing up. I hear it still - a little louder now.

Story source.

Sep 23, 2013

TEOS RECOMMENDS: FRANKENSTEIN'S ARMY

 

I'm just gonna come out and say it: Frankenstein's Army doesn't really have that much of a plot. And since it wants to involve the mythos of the Frankenstein legacy (which, by now, has become almost a genre unto itself), then you could argue it has even less of a plot.

I think the filmmakers kinda know what, which is why they went the extra mile in creating some absolutely jaw-dropping creatures to fill those damned bunker tunnels and maze-like corridors.

But fine, okay: the "plot."

A group of Russian soldiers, in the midst of World War II, traverse the German wilderness to root out and extinguish the Nazi threat. While doing so, they stumble across a decrepit village that no longer seems inhabited. However, below one of the many buildings in this village awaits a threat more monstrous than the world has ever known before. 

And because the soldiers are filming this journey for some reason, you get to experience it all first-hand. 

That's primarily it for your plot, but like I said: the plot is inconsequential. It is the equivalent of, "I've got this camera. Oh, what's that?" (Monsters.)

Every once in a while, that's simply okay. Sometimes we would rather just have a fun, spookhouse environment where things literally leap into corridors and thrill us with their imaginative and completely wild appearance. And that's what Frankenstein's Army is, really. It's a filmified version of any haunted hayride or Halloween walk-through you've ever visited. You walk around, you see creepy things, the things get progressively creepier, and you get hammy acting all over your sweater.

Speaking of the acting, it's good enough to not make you say, "The acting in this fucking sucks." And the use of the camera is certainly serviceable, though I am curious about the choice to go with the found footage aesthetic, considering the film is a period piece. Though they make an attempt at first to add "camera whirring" sound effects and some light old-timey grain, after a while both of those ideas are dropped, and we're left with some pretty impressive crystal-clear footage...ya know, for the mid-1940s. And even from an artistic standpoint, the found footage angle doesn't add all that much, anyway. It's still more than possible to achieve that kind of "you're really there" feeling without succumbing to the newest Hollywood gimmick. (See Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men as proof.)

But why we're really here is for what's promised by the title: we want to be surrounded by a group of walking, drooling, shrieking experiments. And that we are!

The production design and special effects/make-up teams should be universally applauded for their wicked and wild creations. They are something straight out of a nightmare, dripping with steampunk inspirations with a twist of Nazi madness. I wouldn't go so far as to say they are the only reason to watch Frankenstein's Army, but if they were not made the front and center of the action, my argument to convince you to watch otherwise would not be nearly as exuberant. I fully admit that Karel Roden (quickly becoming one of my favorite character actors) turns out an incredibly fun and insane performance as Viktor Frankenstein, grandson of the original grave-digging and monster making mad scientist, but for real y'all, here are your reasons to watch:




So do it. If enough of you do, maybe they'll make House of Frankenstein's Army.

I'd be all over that.


Sep 22, 2013

HAPPY EQUINOX

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning "no."

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.

We're all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It's in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.



Image source.

Sep 21, 2013

TRAIL CAM

A photograph was recently sent in to a Baton Rouge, Louisiana news station and has many people talking since it first appeared last week. The photo was allegedly taken by a trail cam and is, in a word, disturbing. And if you think the photo itself is creepy, wait until you hear about the circumstances behind its discovery. 
When NBC Affiliate NBC33 asked its viewers to send in their photographs, they were expecting to get a few strange holiday pictures, but nothing like the incredibly bizarre trailcam photograph they received depicting a horrific monster stalking the night in an undisclosed location and sent in by an anonymous viewer. The viewer included a note detailing the circumstances behind the image's discovery alongside the picture. According to the sender, the picture was taken by a trailcam originally set up to take photos of wild game on the premises. But then when they discovered the trail cam ripped to pieces, all they could recover from it was the device's SD card. When they examined the photos taken the previous night in an attempt to discover what could have possibly destroyed the camera, they expected to see images of teenagers or hunters poaching their land. What they discovered, was that the final image taken by the camera before it was destroyed was this strange image.

Sep 20, 2013

THE THING IN THE WINDOW

That thing has been there for almost a week. The figure in the window. It looks featureless - only skin on a human frame - and it's pressing itself against the glass somehow. I don't know how it got there, and I don't know how to get rid of it.

At first I thought it was a prank - a doll or mannequin that some jerks put there to scare me. But I realized as I walked out of my house to pull it away... it wasn't there. I shrugged it off, thinking that someone had hidden it while I was walking through my door. But I went back in and looked out that same window, and it was looking in, staring at me. I walked around my house, yelling for whoever it was to come out, but no one was there. The thing is hairless and naked, and it didn't look like it actually had eyes, or even a face at all. But its head is turned towards me when I enter the room. When I sit on my computer, I can feel its faceless hatred boring into my neck. But when I turn around, it's innocently turned in a different direction.

Finally on Thursday, I tried to open the window, but it's stuck. I think the thing's hands are keeping it down. But I got a good look at its face. Its eyes and mouth are behind the skin, pushing outward.

It stared at me, smiling.

I pulled back a fist and smashed it onto the glass, determined once and for all to get rid of the glaring monster. I know I’m strong enough. That glass should’ve cracked.

But it didn’t. It shuddered under my hand, but it didn’t break. And that smile just got wider and wider and wider, until I thought its head would break in half. It raised its own hand and bashed the window with its palm. It was mocking me. But I saw the faintest crack begin to appear where it had hit, and I backed away.

No way did I want that smile in the same room as me.

So I got a roll of duct tape, and I started covering the window. I couldn’t look directly at it; I nearly shit my pants just knowing it was watching me. But I couldn’t help it. I took a quick glance at that skin-covered face. A small peek.

It was angry.

That menacing grin was now a gaping frown full of teeth. The skin had ripped away from its mouth and I could see down its cavernous throat. A menacing rumble started to fill the house, and that hairline crack began to spread like splintering ice. I pulled down the duct tape. The rumble stopped, the split skin healed over, and it began to smile again.

Now it’s night, and the noise hasn’t started again. There are no sounds, no rumble, no crackling glass. Everything’s quiet now.

But I can feel its claws gripping the back of my chair. I can hear its skin stretching as it smiles.

It’s watching me type.

Story source.

Sep 19, 2013

SHITTY FLICKS: MUTANT HUNT

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.


I don't like much of anything in this world. I suppose that would label me a "bitter fuck." I can't refute that. But there are some things out there I do like. Horror films, for instance. And robots. And bad wigs. And exploding heads. And the '80s. But oh, boy...give me all of those things at once? That's like the equivalent of 30 birthdays.

And Mutant Hunt, a robot-, bad-wigs-, and exploding-head-having film from the '80s has given me the greatest gift of all: its existence.

Let me tell you something about Mutant Hunt. It has LASERS. LOOK OUT.

Mutant Hunt wastes no time in establishing one very essential component crucial to its plot: robots are fucking scary and dangerous.

"Total carnage. Uncontrolled fury," says Z, the guy who created all the bots. "What more could anyone ask?" (The guy in the leather catcher's chest pad always knows the drill.)

So much happens in the first five minutes that you'll already be confused. All I know is, if it's wearing sunglasses and looks like Kim Jong Un, it's a robot, and if it looks like Cher, I think it's a robot. There are also robot caste systems. They have maintenance robots that clean up the dead robots, and then go home to their robot caves and log onto the Facebook for "The Other 99% (of Robots)" and get into an argument with someone in the comments and accidentally type "your" when they should have said "you're."

Director Tim Kincaid has crafted an ultra-realistic and bleak view of the future, in which people for the most part still go on with their lives, except for the robots, who wander around and just murder human beings. There's also a drug on the streets called euphoron, which is like the same thing as our current drugs, only it's futuristic, ya know?

Head Scientist Guy and his sister, Head Scientist Guy's Sister, attempt to figure out under what circumstances the newest line of robots the Delta-Sevens escaped. Head Scientist Guy calls Matt Riker, a well-known tighty-whities-wearing bounty hunter, and the only fella who can take on robots, but there is no answer. And then Head Scientist Guy is taken prisoner by Robot Leader's robot minions, but his sister escapes.

Riker. Bounty hunter. Hunk. Wears briefs.
Sometimes unable to focus.

Head Scientist Guy's Sister runs directly into his apartment screaming about robots...with two robots on her tail. It's a good thing Riker is wearing his magical underwear, because he dispatches these two robots in his signature style: slowly, and with only a mild amount of awkwardness. 

Head Scientist Guy's Sister watches all of this unfold with a bored look on her face, and with no intention of even attempting to offer some assistance. She looks upon the robot's ruined bodies on the floor and remarks, "They're not human," as she seems completely uninvolved in her own movie.

Then ANOTHER robot enters, who immediately throws Riker's girlfriend (?) out a window. But it's cool, though she was a robot, too. ("A pleasure droid.")

This leads to another glorious fight, only this time Riker has pants on, so by default it simply could never be AS transcendent.

Yo, I wasn't lying about the lasers. Smell ya later, ROBOT!

Later, at Club Inferno, the camera spends way too much time watching a chick dance on stage wearing a unitard, because this was the '80s and the filmmakers were legally obligated to include an awkward and too-long dance number. But THEN she kicks some random dudes' asses, and we find out she's not just a funky dancer, but also a bounty hunter (just like Riker!!!!!!!!!!).

Riker and his team of bounty hunters, including Johnny Felix and That Other Girl, will battle the forces of robot evil, while leaving one of these random robots to melt on the floor of Riker's apartment.

With Head Scientist Guy still in captivity, and following Riker's promise to free him as soon as humanly possible, Riker nails That Other Girl pretty much immediately. With some boobs out, and his junk rubbing against his underoos, the two make futuristic '80s love with all the passion of a Stefan Urkel dance number. 

"This club's not weird at all!"

Whoa, no time for love, Riker! Seeing the Rikersignal up in the sky (a pair of white men's underwear), he takes to the streets to defend the innocent! Scarface, one of the escaped robots, begins karate chopping human civilians like there's no tomorrow and rips off their heads!

"You sure look ugly, cyborg," Riker says, not at all upset about the freshly decapitated girl. The two then fight, and after being body-slammed against a building fifteen times, the robot succumbs to Riker's fury. And even though Riker should know better, he leaves the massacred robot behind, allowing its limbs to crawl away into the realistic and intelligently realized futuristic night.

Riker is caught off guard by a robot and is taken prisoner, where he meets Domina, aka the Cher-lookin' gal who I think is a robot, still. She certainly acts like one, but...you know... Apparently an explosive device is implanted in Riker's head to leave him at the whim of the robot race. "I trust you," he says to Domina for some reason and then smashes her in the face, leaving her to wonder if she believes in life after love.

Head bomb or not, Riker will not be deterred.

Back in Riker's apartment, that melting robot decides to live again...unbeknownst to Head Scientist Guy's Sister (still don't know her real name), who is busy lathering herself in the shower and sniffing ALL of Riker's white underwear (when we're not looking). The robot eats...something...something that came out of his body, I think...and then attacks her. But wait!

"Don't...be...frightened," pleads the robot. "I can't harm you now." 

The robot goes on to say a LOT of stuff, and while I can only understand some of it, it's ALL squishy sounding. Then he grabs Head Scientist Guy's Sister and takes off with her down the road, whistling a happy tune and naming all of their future children in his head.

Mutant Hunt deploys a masterful ruse upon its audience, not once, not thrice, but multiple times. Using its enrapturing plot to its benefit, Mutant Hunt will have members of its cast of characters just vanish for long periods of time, so when they reappear, you will say, "Oh yeahhhhh."

Speaking of, Riker and Johnny show up outside Inteltrax, the building where all the robots are being built, I guess. After struggling to concoct a way inside, Squish Mouth Robot shows up, offers them a way inside, and then flicks his weird tongue around for several minutes, making everyone within a ten-square-mile radius of this film feel extremely uncomfortable.

With our heroes now having breached the impenetrable fortress that contains literally no barriers whatsoever, Riker, Johnny, and Squish Mouth Robot exhibit their justice the only way they know how: Molotov cocktails!

Inside, Domina unveils her finest creation yet: another robot. She takes off her shirt, rubs her boobs against its back, and moans. Then she puts her shirt back on and orders a minion to bring her creation a uniform.

Boy, this future sure is wacky!

(cheap Arnold Schwarzenegger/Terminator 9 joke)

Squish Mouth Robot, who has since become aware, attacks Z...by pushing him down. Z doesn't get back up because people in the future are really fragile.

But wait! The danger isn't over! Domina's creation a Delta-Eight attacks them all with his dripping goo face. Because it's the future, we're supposed to assume that the Delta-Eight is fucking unstoppable, but in moviespeak, really it's just fatter than the previous model.

"Party time, Felix?" Riker asks his partner.

"What?!" Felix responds, I swear in a completely different room where his close-ups were shot that day.

Riker and That Other Girl (who was there the whole time, BT-dubs), fight the Delta-Eight while Felix fucking seriously sits there with his arms folded, not at all intending to help, but then he gets caught up with a couple robots of his own, so he realizes he's not getting out of this without some robot fisticuff action. These robots taste the bottom of Felix's gigantic white sneakers as he kicks the goo off their faces and the circuits out of their robot bodies all while the 20-second musical score plays on a loop.

With Riker about to meet his maker at the hands of the Delta-Eight, and while Felix is doing...something else...Head Scientist Guy's Sister saves the day with a laser gun. (These lasers are pretty accommodating they can stop robots, cause fires, or, you know, whatever the script falls for.)

Mutant Hunt ends with a little girl becoming best friends with a paraplegic robot while she is playing in an alley, which I believe is the same ending as Pride & Prejudice.

"Miss? I ordered the salmon."

Full Moon has pulled out all the stops with this flawless DVD release. Captured dynamically in 4:3 full frame aspect ratio, and remastered by the two finest VCRs hooked up to each other that 1997 had to offer, Mutant Hunt hasn't looked this good since it ran on the UPN at two in the morning before all the Clapper commercials. Sure, you could watch this for free if you're a Netflix Instant subscriber, but not if you're me. Mutant Hunt sits proudly on my shelf. Probably because I have the mind of a ten-year-old boy savagely beaten with a hammer.

Fun, Out-of-Context Quotes:
  • "Why would you want to get a robot HIGH?"
  • "Mutants. Psychosexual killers."
  • "I hate it when MEN save me."
  • "Don't get me steamed, cyborg."
  • "How do I get this bomb out of my head?"


Sep 17, 2013

AN EXORCISM


... Why are you still here?

Because I still have something to say.


Tell me the whole truth in the name
of the trinity...



Because I still have something to say.

Then speak the truth!


By her command, she can compel me... She.

The most Blessed Virgin, mm?


Yes.


Yes.
Then she shall compel you to speak the truth.



She, she, she, she treads on me, she...

Mary, the most Blessed Virgin.
She compels you to speak what she would
like to say to us.


You bastard.

The most Blessed Virgin compels you to
speak what she will say to us...



I will create,
I will also still create disorder,
you dirty pig.

The most Blessed Virgin would like to
command you to tell us what she would
like to say to us.



That sow, Anne(liese Michel),
she must go back up to that other one with
that whole mess of shit,
that, that, that, that...

In the name of the most Blessed Virgin,
speak the truth!



Yes! Yes!!

We will do that.


So that that sow up there will understand.
The one from Wuerzburg.
But he won't do anything. No!

The most Blessed Virgin will help him.
The most Blessed Virgin will help him.
The most Blessed Virgin will help him.



And the priests must be recognizable as priests,
namely not only with.... And indeed proper.

Proper. Not only with an invisible
emblem/insignia, yes?



Yes!
They must clearly be recognizable as priests!

That everyone knows?


Yes!
And the bastards, they, they, they also don't do that,
they come every time [wearing their] pretty suits.
That pleases me to no end.
You bastard you,
I can't tell you at all how much that pleases me to no end.

Yes.
Why does that please you so?



Why? I won't say!

What do you make of that?
I command you to say everything you want to tell us.



If they were to run around namely in their shitsuits,
then, then, then, then..... Forget it..

Then? In the name of the most blessed virgin,
speak the whole truth! In the name of the most
Blessed Virgin Mmary, speak the whole truth.
Tell everything you...



Yes, then,
then we wouldn't have so much power over the bastards,
because we .... Forget it.

Because we? ... In the name of the most...


That snot-nosed brat has already told him everything,
that that shit, that... That asshole.

In the name of the most blessed Virgin Mary...


The brat, that bitch,
she babbles everything,
that asshole!
Oh, I'll squelch her yet, the asshole.
Now she's getting a grip from that shit [of his]....
Forget it, she's mine.


Read the entire transcription of the exorcism of Anneliese Michel.

Sep 15, 2013

CRAPPYPASTA: DYLAN

Dylan Darksman. A friend, a son, and a demon. Three friends, that’s all it took. One was a stealer. One stole his heart, and kept it. One was a backstabber.

He had enough. He was bullied, and was sick to the mind. Doctors tried, therapists wondered, but no help for the boy. So in order to make him “happy” he went to the senior prom. He gave each a last chance. They blew it. He killed himself, in front of everyone. Everyone is forgiven? No. Satin convinced him. Who said the devil wasn’t sly? As an angel, you’re not that sweet. Dylan marked each with HELL. He had the H. Christi, the heart stealer, was marked with E. Jade, backstabber, was marked with L. And Drake, stealer, got the other L.

The Marks of Death.

Jade
4:34 Am. She woke up to the sound of a crash. Being her curious self, she went downstairs. A faint snicker ran across the room. Her parents left to work. Being 19 she knew how to take care of herself. A figure appeared in the kitchen. She jumped in surprise. “Hey buddy.” She knew the voice. Dylan. Large black wings extended from his back. “W-why..?” In an instant he was in her face. He grabbed her face. “I’ll make it quick.” He said in a whisper. He kissed her, and she fell to the ground. Ever heard of the kiss of death?

Christi
“Oh my god, I’m so wasted!” She cried waddling next to her friend. The music was pounding loud. With her fake ID and beauty she got herself Anywhere. 4:44 am. “Yo, I gotta go to the bathroom, don’t, don’t go,” she said. She went to the bathroom, but on her way, a man made her hold it. He gave her the look, and right then they were kissing. “Come with me,” he whispered in her ear. They left the club and entered in his convertible. “This is soo crazy!” She laughed. She turned to the guy. But it wasn’t him. Dylan locked both doors. Christi screamed, and looked back, facing a gun. “You know I sorta liked you, but you’re a terrible kisser.” He pulled the trigger. He drove and stopped by the edge of the cliff. He pushed the car with Christi and the car plummeted down 80 feet into the shark infested water.

One night stand.

Drake
4:54 am. Drake became paranoid after Dylan’s death. He knew he was coming. He believed in evil and what it can do. Dylan being dead, he can do anything. Which counts taking over one’s mind. So with Drake, he entered his mind. They were buddies since Pre-K. But Drake meant nothing to him. He wanted to destroy Drake from the beginning. Drake was better than him at everything. He controlled Drake’s mind. He went into the bathroom, and grabbed as many pills as he can. He forced to gobble down every single one. It was a No- brainier if you will.

So Dylan got his revenge. That is all he wanted, but you can not escape the Devil’s power. So now Dylan will be forever a spawn of evil. A death angel. A monster.

Dylan ofcourse got payback. He will help anybody with the same desire.

Go to your bathroom, out your hand on the mirror. Turn off the lights. Leave one candle to show respect for the dead. And then chant these lines.

Oh! Dylan! May you show yourself for have I have the same desire to destroy those who did wrong to me!

Do Not Stutter, he hated that. He would also kill you if you do.

Turn on the lights and he will be there, in black. Curly red hair. A piercing on his cheek and one wing extended. He also has the lip stain that Christi has given him.

If he is not there, well…. Good luck and I will pray for your soul…little demon.



You better get used to seeing these here. Crappypasta is my new favorite thing.

Sep 13, 2013

A VISIT TO HELL

Clifford Hoyt, age 31, suffered serious injuries in an automobile accident in 1999. After he regained consciousness, he told a terrified nurse that he had died and visited Hell.

He expounded on the tortures and anguish he experienced in frightening detail. He refused psychological treatment and was released.

Several weeks later, Hoyt’s neighbors complained to their landlord that strange music was playing in his apartment at all hours of the night. Upon investigating, the building’s owner found Clifford in this condition.

Mr. Hoyt was still quite lucid and protested when the landlord attempted to call the police. Concerned for the damage done to his property, he took photographs of the apartment; the image below is an example.

He left and contacted Mr. Hoyt’s family, who contacted authorities.
Clifford claimed that demons from Hell were still trying to capture him. He explained that his body would burn incessantly unless he played music to scare the demons away. He would only leave the house for short periods of time to get minimal supplies, including large blocks of ice to soothe the burning he felt as he tried to sleep.

Doctors attribute Clifford’s actions to brain damage suffered in the accident. He currently resides in a mental rehabilitation facility in Maryland.

Sep 11, 2013

UNSUNG HORRORS: THE NINTH GATE

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

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

Dir. Roman Polanski
1999
Artisan Entertainment
United States

"I'm entering uncharted territory. Taking the road that leads to equality, with God. You can't come with me. I must travel alone. But you may look on, and marvel. ... There have been men who have been burned alive or disemboweled for just a glimpse of what you are about to witness."

Personal feelings about Roman Polanski aside, his early dabbling in the horror genre is still cited today as inspiration for multiple filmmakers. It seems four out of five horror directors cite Rosemary's Baby as an influence either on any one of their particular films, or their career in general. The more studious may cite Repulsion or The Tenant, and the real nerd will name-drop Knife in the Water, which while not all-out horror still maintains quite a bit of tension and discomfort. It was for this reason that his 1999 return to horror with The Ninth Gate at first elated those with an awe for Polanski, though audiences didn't really turn out in droves. This one seemed in the bag, really – Depp was on a hot streak and Polanski was returning to the genre. But for whatever reason, it never took off, and that is a damn shame.

Johnny Depp plays Dean Corso (the surname being Italian for "run"), a sort of collector, investor, investigator, authenticator, and tracker of extremely rare books. (No idea if this is an actual, real-life profession, but, I'm certainly willing to go with it, as it sounds way better than my job.) His chosen profession gets him into all sorts of "unscrupulous" conflicts, but he always seems to come out on top, with a non-grin, and a lot of green in his pocket for his troubles. 

After swindling the children of an invalid man with a very valuable book collection, Corso meets with Boris Balkan (Frank Langella), a client with another very unique job. You see, Balkan has spent "a lifetime" amassing a collection of books devoted to the occult. He boasts there is no larger collection in the world. Among these books is The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows, written by Aristide Torchia in 1666(!) in Venice. Though three copies exist, only one is authentic. Allegedly The Nine Gates was based on the Delomelanicon, a previous tome written by Satan himself. The legend goes that the sole genuine copy of The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows has the power to raise Satan up from the underworld. Balkan pledges to pay Corso nearly as much as he wants should he travel to Europe and examine the other two copies to determine which of them is genuine. His journey finds him embroiled in sex, murder, and even Hell itself. (All the best European holidays do.) And whether or not he finds what he is looking for, there's no coming back.


The Ninth Gate's story is mapped out using perhaps my favorite underutilized sub-genre of horror, which would be noir – a man chasing a mystery that leads him into unfamiliar and diabolical territory. Sure, you could argue that every horror film has a mystery at its core, but those that follow the very established tropes – the detective in over his head, the femme fatale, the client firmly entrenched in the horror that awaits his hired help – deserve special mention. Other films of equal power and unfortunately equal lack of appreciation previously befell In the Mouth of Madness and Angelheart, both about private detectives who find themselves in very unfortunate circumstances. 

Depp signed onto The Ninth Gate back during the phase of his career when he hadn't yet lost his soul to the Mouse House and was willing to take on riskier roles. And during the late '90s, having come off both Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and Donnie Brasco, he had nothing really to lose and everything to gain from working with a living legend such as Polanski. And if you're going to hire someone to play a complete douchebag who still manages to earn sympathy from your audience, there's no one better than Depp. 

Do you believe in the supernatural, Mr. Corso?

I believe in my percentage, Mr. Balkan.

Regardless of how lazy and uninspired his role choices have been over the last decade, there's no denying Depp was great, and could still be under the right circumstances. Corso will literally yawn as you speak to him, or clean his glasses without bothering to hide his complete disinterest in small talk. His mustache/goatee and glasses cause him to skew a bit older (likely the intention, as it complements the salt-and-pepper hair), and it helps to explain his extremely cynical and jaded view of...well...everything. Money leads his life, which he lives in isolation – no wife/girlfriend, and certainly no friends, which Balkan is quick to notice, point out, and appreciate. His only "friend" – if you can call him that – is Bernie (James Russo), co-owner of Corso's rare book store, though the importance of this friendship is certainly determined later once Bernie meets an untimely end.


Langella, who has done consistently great work in every genre (once having played Dracula), does a very fine job of playing a psychopath masquerading as a boring aristocrat. It's easy to ham it up in some if his lesser projects, like Masters of the Universe, but it's a lot more rewarding, I'm sure, to equally lose oneself entirely in a performance while under the tutelage of someone like Polanski. Though a large portion of his performance is relegated to a voice on the phone, Langella is still capable of presenting a dominating presence. Emmanuelle Seigner as "The Girl," and your requisite femme fatale (one of two), knows her role: be sexy and be mysterious. She plays it well. "I like books," she tells Corso, though her choice of reading materials (How to Make Friends and Influence People) certainly isn't along the same lines as the titles Corso is used to tracking down. And this strange choice of reading material may or may not hang, ironically, in the back of your mind as The Girl's true identity is eventually revealed. As for the other femme fatale: Lena Olin as Liana Telfer out-sexes sex itself. She is gorgeous here, mid-forties not withstanding, and she's ably both sultry and dangerous. (Or maybe I'm a sucker for garters.)

Composer Wojciech Kilar, one of my personal favorites (and responsible for the wonderfully operatic and over-the-top score for Frances Ford Coppola's take on Dracula) turns in some pretty wonderful work here. His themes alternate from ominous and pulse-pounding to nearly whimsical and clumsy. His theme for Corso alludes that the man isn't the most intelligent, as his musical accompaniment suggests a sort of doddering man who is haphazardly wandering from one clue to the next. This doesn't exactly match up with the actual on-screen version of Corso, who I would argue is actually more unprepared than outright stupid, but then again, that's the beauty of interpretation. 

As for the film's direction, well, I'd be incorrect, simply put, if I were to say Polanski was at the top of his game here. But those people who call his direction over The Ninth Gate lacking are equally misguided. He was never a director who did or tried interesting things with the camera (for the most part, anyway, as there's a fun in-camera gag where Corso is knocked out), as he was always more interested in drama – in spending time with his characters and having the audience join them on their journey. In that regard, The Ninth Gate fits well into his filmography. Corso runs afoul of many different characters - both benevolent and malevolent – but his goal is never deterred. It's his journey we're undertaking here, and we get to experience his sexual misadventures, his close calls, and even his utter befuddlement in the events that surround him. In the earlier exchange where he avoids labeling himself either as a believer or refuter of the supernatural, it seems to me that Corso might just be a believer after all. As he becomes embroiled in the events, he certainly comes off as disturbed and fearful, but never altogether surprised. You could argue that Polanski's interpretation of the Corso character is of a man who is eager not to authenticate The Nine Gates, but instead to determine the actual existence of the devil. After all, what is it they say: If God exists, then surely so should the Devil? If Corso is out to determine the existence of a god, he can surely do that by locating one lousy fallen angel. (I suppose you could also argue that The Ninth Gate is about fate, but that's kind of fucking boring, seeing as how you could argue every film is about fate.)

Not having seen every Polanski film, I still think I'm safe in saying he generally keeps his humor separate from his purposely darker stories. But in The Ninth Gate, he seems absolutely willing to have some fun, as I suppose the rather silly nature of the story he is telling needs to be lightened up occasionally. He is never without respect for this unorthodox mystery, but at the same time he likes to pop up from time to time and state, "Don't take this too seriously." Despite this, Polanski isn't exactly throwing pies and asking who's on first. Yes, there are some fun characters who show up to provide whimsy, but Polanski's idea of humor is a character confined to a wheelchair, recently dead, motoring unguided through a set of double doors and directly into fire, or Liana, post-coitus, telling Corso, "Don't fuck with me," and Corso responding, "I thought I just did?" Some of The Ninth Gate's humor has darkness and edge. At its core it's mean-spirited and even a little angry, and it fits right in.


Partly based on the novel El Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, and as previously mentioned, Polanski has fun with his version of Dean Corso, who slowly becomes more and more obsessed with his assignment, though he's not entirely prepared for where it will bring him. A good detective Corso may be, he's still entirely in over his head.

No matter how many plays or Dickens tales he adapts for the screen, to horror fans (and I mean this in every respectful way possible) Roman Polanski is always going to be the man who directed Rosemary's Baby – considered to be one of the greatest
horrorfilms of all time. And because of this, every announcement of a new Polanski film will have fans scanning the log line hoping to see his return to the genre. It's not impossible, nor even unlikely, that he'll return to the genre that put him on the map. 

I know I'll certainly be waiting. 


Sep 10, 2013

WEDDING CRASHERS

A wedding photographer took this picture from a rooftop to get a bird’s eye view of a wedding in progress. Something seemed odd about the balcony in the top right portion of the photograph. 
 So the photographer zoomed in...

Sep 9, 2013

PHINEAS GAGE

On September 13, 1848, Phineas Gage (a railway worker) was packing a hole with gunpowder, adding a fuse and sand, and then packing the charge down with a large tamping iron. The gunpowder ignited and the iron bar shot through his left cheek bone and exited out the top of his head, and was later recovered some 30 yards from the site of the accident. Within minutes he was up and walking. A few days later he had fungus of the brain. A couple of weeks after, 8 fluid ounces of pus from an abscess under his scalp was released. Damage to Gage’s frontal cortex had resulted in a complete loss of social inhibitions, which often led to inappropriate behavior. He was no longer the same Gage that his friend’s and family knew. Today his skull and the iron bar that shot through it are on display at Boston’s Warren Anatomical Museum.