25 bad ideas and a flying cow.

Not all of my ideas are wonderful.

Sure, I've come up with some brilliant things... by accident. Like, the bidet. I invented that, but I envisioned it as a practical joke. "Hey! What?! No!" Who could have imagined that such a thing would actually catch on with the French. "Bidet," in French, means "upside-down shower for washing your woo-woo." And "cunnilingus" is French for "we have a bidet at our house."

Do you know what they call a bidet in Germany? A royale with cheese. No, ha ha, that's just a joke fo' my bitches. Not really, I don't have any bitches. But you can bet I would if I was getting bidet-patent money. No, really, they call it a "woozlevasher." At least, to my knowledge they do. I don't know for sure, because I don't understand German and actually think it's "the devil's language." But, much to the consternation of people around me, I don't let that stop me from trying to speak it. "Achtung! Sheissenkrieg! Blitzenfarbergarbentodt!" Know what's fun? Walk up to somebody who speaks a foreign language and just blurt a bunch of gibberish (I do speak fluent Gibberish, by the way, and as soon as the country of Gibberia is established I'm going to make some sweeeeeet translator money... and get me some bitches!) that sounds vaguely like the language and ask them, "Okay, did I say anything? Was I close?" I also like to draw little cryptograms that look - to me - like Chinese or Japanese and ask people who can read those languages if I wrote anything. If it turns out I did, I go around bragging "Yeah, I can write 'patio-enabled fishnipple' in Mandarin."

Anyway, I was talking about something before I rudely (but cleverly, I think) interrupted myself. Oh yeah -- not all of my ideas are wonderful. I have in my time invented a few products that just didn't catch on. Here are a 25 of them (and I apologize in advance, I am a very vulgar and juvenile man):

1. Gas-X. Actually, I came up with this product first, but my version gave people gas. As entertaining as farts are, it never occurred to me that anybody would want to prevent gas. Hey, I was 12, okay?

2. Hot 'n' Spicy Alpo. Turns out dogs don't enjoy the little "kick" of jalapeƱo and chipotle as much as I do.

3. Toilet Water Coloring. We’ve all seen the popular blue water in toilet bowls (well, it was popular in the 70’s, anyway... it disappeared around the same time as the white dog poop did). I came up with that concept, but I thought “Sunshine Yellow” would be a more cheerful color. For some reason, people just didn’t like it.

4. Sans-A-Slacks Belt. For those times when you want to wear a belt, but no pants.

5. Flavored Crayons. I noticed kids ate crayons, so I figured, why not flavor them? Then I was told that eating crayons wasn’t something that “we” wanted to encourage. But, in my defense, it did make your stool look like a blueberry muffin, so I should get points for presentation.

6. The Dildo Harmonica. I thought you could serenade your lover before the act, but women found it “childish” and a “total turnoff.” And queefing made it worse; hearing “Roll Out The Barrel” makes it impossible to come. Try it; hum it next time, instead of thinking of baseball.

7. The Lee Press-On Udder. Apparently not everyone finds them as attractive as I do.

8. Dr. Denton’s Jeans. We have a fly in the front to make things easier, so why not a flap in the back? I think people secretly don’t like having options.

9. Gaydar Detector. This device would alert you if someone thinks you’re gay, so you can explain that you only borrowed that shirt.

10. A Brand of Peanuts. I tried marketing bags of peanuts under the brand, “Uncle Salty’s Nut Sack,” with a cartoon hillbilly on the front saying “Grab yerself a handful!” Didn’t catch on, and I don’t know why.

11. Colonel Jessup’s Home-Brew Douche. With mesquite! Changing the name to “Gee Your Douche Smells Terrific” didn’t help.

12. Baby Shityerpants. Remember “Baby Alive” dolls, that ate pretend babyfood? This doll took the concept to the next level. I think the battery-powered realistic, gruesome sound effects took things a little too far. Oddly, this one sold better to little boys than it did to girls.

13. T’ain’t Bacon. Like “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter,” but with bacon. Led to terrible misunderstandings that shocked me at the time and make me sad to recollect. Just when I think I have my finger on the pulse of America, I find out it's the inseam.

14. A Variation on Bingo. I still don’t know why this one didn’t catch on, especially since Bingo is so popular in churches. It was pretty much like regular Bingo, but, to add excitement, when you won, instead of yelling “Bingo!” you’d shout “Jesus Christ!”

15. Automatic Cheese Cutter. This would slice cheese for you. For some reason nobody would buy it. I guess people really enjoy cutting cheese themselves or something.

16. Strawberry Spinach-Sardine Dip. This was an excellent dip for chips you didn’t want anybody to eat.

17. Pubic Toupee. Because you can never have too much puberty.

18. Lil’ Stinkies Dog Treats. Dogs love things that smell bad, so this was a hit... with the dogs. People were horrified to find them on their carpet and could never tell if the dog had already eaten them or not. That’s the price I paid for quality, damnit.

19. Honest Fortune Cookies. Apparently fortune cookies are supposed to be a “fun” thing, and nobody wants to read things like “She has forgotten you” or “You’re too old for your dreams now.” In bed.

20. Candy Crutches, Candy Wheelchairs, and Candy Leg-Braces. I saw no reason to limit us to just candy canes when there’s so much other handicapped equipment. I didn’t start the insensitivity, I just ran with it to its logical end.

21. Zyklon-C, The Misanthropist’s Perfume. A repellent scent for people who dislike the company of others and don’t want to attract them. It worked, but nobody could stand to wear it. They found it more practical to just fart strategically.

22. Round Flags. I still think this is a good alternative to rectangular flags, but I can’t figure out what the flag pole would look like.

23. Teleportation Machine For Water. I almost got away with passing this off as a major scientific breakthrough until some BrainySmurf figured out I’d just put a humidifier and a dehumidifier on opposite sides of the room.

24. Hobby Horse Hobby Kit. I don’t believe that rocking back and forth on a wooden horse is really much of a “hobby” for anyone who isn’t a nitwit. So, I decided it would be more of a hobby to build wooden hobby horses. But the product confused people and they found it “too cerebral.”

25. Oregon Toast. I figured if a crap state like Texas can have its own toast, why not a state like Oregon? Instead of being big and garlicky, this toast would be small and damp and taste vaguely of herring. But I couldn’t get anyone to get behind this idea. Oregon is a damned ungrateful state if you ask me.

Now that we've done 25 of these things, I know what you're thinking. "Hey, Z, where's the flying cow?" Well, while writing the post, I decided that flying cows were a really bad idea. Look what birds do to your car! Do we really want a flying cow? No, I say! And that'd make 26 bad ideas... and I'd rather preserve my numerical integrity than try to come up with something about a flying cow.

Marvel Comics Acquires MARVELMAN!

London never lookt so good!BIG NEWS for us COMICS GEEKS!!!
... Marvel Comics has acquired the publishing rights to Marvelman from original creator Mick Anglo. (Hey Marvel, please please please please please don't fuck this up!!!)

A previous legal battle between acclaimed author Neil Gaiman and fecal sample Todd McFarlane determined that Gaiman's legal right to the revamped version of the character superceded T. McDouchebag's, though that didn't stop ol' Turd McFeces from issuing a statue + who knows what other dreck thru his line of "toys" based mostly on his "comics" like Spawn (yep... rhymes with yawn for good reason...).

Marvelman was originally created back in the 1940s as basically a British ripoff of Captain Marvel (y'know... Shazam!) + went away (except for reprints) for a loooong time... Micky Moran was a reporter who could utter a magic word, "Kimota!" and transform into the superhuman Marvelman. He even ended up with a stable of 'family' characters, just like ol' Cap'n Marvel.

Back in the 1980s, Eclipse Comics obtained the rights to the Alan Moore-penned Marvelman stories from Warrior magazine, as well as more stories to wrap up the then-current storyline + move forward from there... Moore's story was one of the first real revisionist superhero stories, treating the problems of the characters + their world as realistically as possible. Should've been an instant hit, right? Wrong... The first problem that arose was that Marvel Comics decided that there would be a copyright issue with a comic called Marvelman published by an independent comics company... the character was quickly rebranded as Miracleman, and Alan Moore publicly gave Marvel the finger for this asininity (real word? who cares?), announcing that he would never work for them due to the incident.

Art by John Totleben. Click fo' mek beegah!
Eclipse published Moore's original storyline + then continued publishing more Moore-written stories, til Moore decided he was done with the character. After depicting the ground-breaking superhero battle that culminates in a devastated, corpse-filled London, Moore handed the series, character, and rights to the property to Neil Gaiman, who took over the writing just as Eclipse Comics began to have some serious cashflow issues... the books quickly became known for being incredible. And incredibly late. And then Eclipse went under, leaving the character mired in mountains of legal poopy... All of the issues + collected editions are looooong out-of-print and some of the most sought-after of modern comics.

So, what's gonna happen with the character? Gaiman had at one time commented that he still had stories to tell in the Miracleverse + there's even been some artwork seen from an unpublished Eclipse-era issue... Neil doesn't have a real problem with Marvel; he's written some stuff for them (not his best work, but still better than anything McFarlane has ever produced). So, will Neil write new Marvelman (gotta use the name again, right?) for Marvel? Hope so!

Will Marvel fuck everything up + try to assimilate the character into their one great + interesting, now completely fuckt Marvel Universe? Hope not (but prob'ly...)!

Will Alan Moore have any say in the disposition of his work on the character? Will the Alan Moore-era issues be reprinted by Marvel? Will Alan sue 'em? Cast a spell on 'em (he IS a practicing magicker, y'know)? Can Alan Moore prevent their use? Can he use this situation to become richer than a five-balled cat?

Should be a very interesting resolution to one of modern comics' most bullshit-ridden backstories, and hopefully the best work of Moore's pre-Swamp Thing period will be back in print before too much longer! (Artwork included is from the cover + interior of Miracleman #15, and is by John Totleben, who also worked with Moore on the groundbreaking Swamp Thing series. (...oh. I almost forgot... FUCK MARVEL + DISNEY!!!)


July Movie Review blowout

Well, I was gonna parcel the reviews out for the rest of the month, but that was when I was doing that novel-marathon thing, and since that went snafu thanks to my lovely prostate adventure (it's doing a good bit better now, although remains a nagging presence... but, that's pretty much life as I know it, lucky me), I think I'll just put the rest of the pre-prepared reviews up here and just come up with something else (or at least type in more reviews) next week. No excuse not to 'cept laziness! So, here's a bunch of 'em.


Smell of Honey, A Swallow of Brine (B&W, 1966) aka A Smell of Honey. Old-school skinflick about a teaser from Hell. Devilishly-cute (aside from this terrible blonde pompadour hair thing she's rockin') named Sharon (Stacey Walker) gets her kicks seducing guys and then screaming "rape," just to wreck their lives. She also leads on her lesbian roommate Paula, just to shoot her down -- "I may be a bitch, but I'll never be a butch!" But then our heroine (if you really wanna call her that) starts having too much fun making men crazy and runs into a guy who's already crazy, and nowhere near the gentleman the previous victims have been. David L. Friedman produced this sleaze classic and padded it with a lot of tedium (necking, getting dressed, taking baths -- although I'm sure those were considered the "good parts" in their day they're pretty dull now), but it's all nicely shot. The print quality of the DVD is pretty rough -- very choppy, with frequent damage. Something Weird probably dug up the last print on Earth, but the transfer is super-sharp, at least. The dream sequences are impressive and include SM (whipping and castration), strip acts, running through the meadow, etc.

Best I could find was a Something Weird clip compilation, that has a few seconds of the movie in it. Ah well, better than nothin'.

Streets of Fire (C, 1983) I love Walter Hill’s stuff and think he’s an underrated action director (not that he’s not highly respected -- I just think it’s still not enough), but this is one of his films that didn’t do a whole lot of box, and I think I know why: it’s a “rock and roll fable”... but the music’s not very good. The songs are lame and sound like leftover Meat Loaf (meaning the fat guy who does “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” -- I’m not being surreal). Other than that it’s very stylish (oh my god and how) and original, and even where it’s not good it’s at least interesting. It’s set in some weird alternate universe that’s like the 1950’s, but also futuristic. Diane Lane (an old hand at this after starring in Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains) is a rock diva, Ellen Aim, who’s kidnapped by psychotic greaser Willem DaFoe (who was so small-time back then he's not even mentioned in the trailer despite having a pretty big part) and his motorcycle gang. A laconic soldier named Tom Cody (Michael Pare) is called back to his wet-streets-and-neon city to rescue her. He teams up with a butch chick named McCoy, who can ‘bout match him in ass-kickery. Rick Morranis goes along, too, but doesn’t help much with the violence. Cody rescues Ellen and helps the Bombers motorcycle gang live up to their names by blowing up their bikes, but Willem vows to steal Ellen back. They also have trouble with some cops, just to provide more action. Most of the movie takes place at night and seemingly underground; even during car chases there’s a metal roof instead of sky. Hill also seems to be using some of the same tricks with the dialogue that he used in The Warriors, where lines never overlap and the speaker is usually in the frame; I think this is to make it seem more like a comic book, but that’s just my theory. Critics are widely split on the sldedgehammer-fight finale, some claiming it’s anti-climactic and others thinking it’s a highlight. It’s not bad. Lee Ving from the great punk band Fear is one of the bikers. Too bad he didn’t get to do the music, or people might still remember this film exists. One song, “I Can Dream About You,” was a hit, but still sucks (it was the 80’s, people enjoyed shit). Overall, it’s an interesting experiment in style and grows on you with repeat viewings, despite its flaws.

Superfly (C, 1972) aka Super Fly. One of the major blacksploitation flicks, this is a story of a total anti-hero -- a drug dealer named Youngblood Priest (played with intense cool and groovaholic sideburns by Ron O’Neal) who’s trying to make one final major score so he can get out of the game and retire. The movie benefits immeasurably from an astounding score by Curtis Mayfield -- you’d have to go to Leone/Morricone or Seigel/Schifrin to find a movie whose music adds as much to the atmosphere, and it’s still one of the best soundtrack albums ever. A lot of the time the music score is all you hear; it’s strong enough that they let is serve instead of dialogue, or as backing for a still-photo montage in the middle. Visually it’s powerful but crude (there are a few bad editing choices -- ever notice how, during the part where Priest chases down a junkie, it looks like he ends up in his own house? He kicks the puke out of him and then answers a knock at the door -- that’s a confusing transition), with sleazy ghetto locations everywhere. Priest’s car was borrowed from a real-life pump named K.C. in exchange for giving him a part in the movie (he’s the guy in the red hat in the club where Curtis Mayfield is playing). Ron O’Neal unfortunately died of pancreatic cancer on almost the same day this was finally released on DVD. This spawned two sequels -- the ill-regarded Superfly T.N.T. directed by O’Neal and a 20-years-later sequel, Return of Superfly, that didn’t really have much to do with this. Before Scarface came out, this was the big gangsta flick everybody watched. People were wearing “Superfly coats” and hats for a year or two after this came out, so its influence stretches beyond the cinema.

This dude is bad! And he ain't just fly... he's super fly!

And, just because it's Curtis Mayfield, baby, yeah, here's a couple of songs from the soundtrack. Suitable for worshiping.

...tryin' to get over...

...I'm your mama, I'm your daddy...

...Freddie's on the corner now, if you wanna be a junkie, wow, remember Freddie's dead...

Swamp of the Ravens (C, 1974) aka El Pantano de los Cuervos. Really bizarre, obscure Spanish horror with atrocious dubbing and plenty of gore (some of which is provided by real autopsy footage) and some really weird music. A renegade medical experimenter (i.e. mad scientist) named Dr. Frosta is hard at work in his swamp laboratory trying to revive the dead. His many failures just get dumped into the swampwater out the back door, where they sometimes float up to stare at him, ala Carnival of Souls. His girlfriend can't handle his obsessive overwork so she leaves him for a lounge singer who sings freakish tunes about "dead robot ladies" but he eventually abducts her to use as a subject, anyway. He also works on a leper and is blackmailed by the leper's crippled friend. Meanwhile, the police are finding corpses and body parts all over and trying to figure out what's happening. By that time, Frosta has some necrophilia going on with the girlfriend. He decides the cops are going to close in on him eventually, so he doctors his undead servant to look like him and has him set himself on fire so they'll think he's dead. Very strange movie; the gore effects are pretty good (in some cases real, including medical specimens of babies in jars and a real autopsy -- which isn't fully capitalized on since it's shot from a distance of a dozen feet or so) and there's creepy atmosphere in the murky, misty swamp with trees full of corpse-fattened ravens and plenty of zombies (even if they never really do anything but stand neck-deep in the swamp and peek through the water-weeds). It doesn't really go much of anywhere, but it makes up for that in sheer weirdness. Damned near a lost film; the DVD print is sharp but does have a little color instability because some of the reels were starting to go red.

Tank Commandos (B&W, 1959) Gritty low-budget WWII action with a group of G.I.’s in Italy, trying to blow up a bridge the Nazis are using to move their tanks. The bridge is hidden, because it’s a foot or so underwater, so it’s a mystery how the troops are moving so much, and the demolition team has to figure out where it is, then destroy it. The problem is there are a lot of German troops in the way. Inconvenient! Some of the melodramatics get to be a bit much, but things don’t stop moving, so it delivers.

This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse (B&W with color sequences, 1967) aka Tonight I’ll Eat Your Corpse, Esta Noite Encarnarei No Teu Cadaver, This Night I’ll Make Your Corpse Incarnate, Tonight I Will Make Your Corpse Turn Red, Tonight I Will Enter Your Corpse, Tonight I Will Paint In Flesh Color. Jose Mojica Marins’ sequel to the infamous At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul picks up right where the first film left off. Coffin Joe recovers and goes back to work trying to find a “superior woman” to breed with, so she can bear the son of the “superior man” and he can become immortal through blood and become the savior of mankind. he’s very Nietzschian. To weed out his superior woman, he locks a bunch of kidnapped candidates in a room and covers them with spiders. When they fail to exhibit superiority, they’re killed in a snakepit. A truly creepy-looking scrawny hunchback helps him. Finally he finds a superior woman -- she doesn’t even mind that he killed her brother -- and gets her pregnant. But of course he has cursed luck. In one incredible scene he has a nightmare where a black figure drags him out of bed and into a graveyard, where wormy hands break through the soil and drag him down to Hell, which is in color. It’s a frozen, snowy place where living bodies are embedded in bleeding walls of ice and demons whip whatever’s sticking out, and bodies are crucified upside down and diagonally and covered with snakes. It’s all brilliantly surreal and bizarre and insane. Like other Coffin Joe films, this is the disturbing -- but artistic -- expression of a sick mind. Has some extremely creepy moments. In Portuguese, with subtitles.

I don't speak Portuguese, and I'm pretty juvenile, so Coffin Joe's opening statement is more funny than scary to me...

Tarantula attack!

Tiger Fangs (B&W, 1943) Famous animal trapper (not famous actor -- I would emphasize this more, but see the movie and he'll emphasize it plenty himself) Frank Buck stars in this wartime jungle B-flick. A series of deadly tiger attacks are disrupting harvesting on a big rubber plantation, which slows down exports of valuable rubber to the allies. The natives think it's the work of "chindags" -- humans who turn into tigers. Frank Buck shows up and goes on safari to catch the tigers -- or chindags -- responsible. He finds a camp with a guy named "Taco" abusing a caged tiger, and the boss of the camp "smells like a Hun!" -- probably because of his sinister habit of referring to everything as an "excellent pleasure" and because he appears to be fattened on der veinershnitzel. A girl finds a black leopard in her bedroom, and there’s a tricky plan to open tiger cages using fast-growing bamboo shoots. Frank figures out it’s all a Nazi plot and manages to foil it in time to keep our jeeps and trucks rollin’ rollin’ rollin’. If the elephants are on our side, who can stand against us? Nothing amazing but a decent just-under-an-hour run through the jungle.

Vampire Bat, The (B&W, 1933) aka Blood Sucker, Forced To Sin. Creepy old creaker that combines Dracula and Frankenstein. A town is besieged by bats, and bodies are found drained of blood. The locals, o’ course, blame vampires, but the constable thinks a human is responsible. He’s right: mad doctor Lionel Atwill is draining people’s blood to feed a blob of living tissue he’s created in a tank. Since Herman the village idiot (Dwight Frye, who’s great at this stuff) likes bats (“they’re soft... like cat!”) and plays with them, he’s blamed. But it’s really Atwill, with help from a hypnotized assistant. His other assistant, Fay Wray, finds out what’s going on, and boy is she in trouble. Old and cheap but very good, one of those public domain titles that used to show up late nights on low-budget TV channels but which you have to seek out on cheap DVDs now instead. Or watch it online starting here.

Virgin Among The Living Dead (C, 1973) aka Zombie 4, Christina: Princess of Eroticism, Christina: Princesse de L'eroticisme, Among the Living Dead. A young lady named Christina comes to a shabby seaside town to visit her family at the ill-regarded Monserrat mansion, despite warnings from the locals. Her family is a bunch of cold, staring weirdoes. One dies as soon as she shows up, gasping that Christina should "run! run!" They sit this relative's corpse in a chair and chant a funeral mass in Latin (but one cousin paints her toenails during it, and Uncle Howard Vernon has a cigarette going). Her female cousins slash each other's breasts with scissors and lick off the blood, and they put dead bats on Christina's bed. Other family members play with a severed hand. Christina inherits the house and everything else, but for some reason her increasingly-freakish relatives don't move out. Her dead father appears a few times (once creepily floating through the woods with a noose around his neck) and tells her to run away. And you'll probably guess the reason she should heed his words long before she does. This has some really creepy scenes but doesn't make a lot of sense; where that's because director Jess Franco (who also appears as a mute idiot servant, probably so he wouldn't have to pay another actor) was being experimental and surreal, or just because he's a pathetic hack who can't tell a linear story to save his miserable life, is debatable. In any case, it's a rare Franco film in the sense that it actually works; I can't stand Franco, but this one's weird and creepy. The old videotape and TV prints make even less sense and look much junkier, because they're missing a lot of nudity and contain pasted-in scenes of black-toothed zombies that were shot by Jean Rollin, in an attempt to beef up the "zombiness." One TV print I saw repeated those scenes several times just to bring it up to a standard running time, making it an even bigger mess; see the definitive DVD edition if at all possible.

Best I could find was some of the soundtrack music, which is pretty freaky.

Wandering Ginza Butterfly (C, 1972) aka Gincho Wataridori. Nami (Meiko Kaji) gets released from prison (she served time for her part in her girl-gang's murder of a yakuza boss) and finds work as a bar-hostess. She hangs around some major players, gambles, scams men who mistake her for a prostitute, and hustles pool. Much of the money she scores she sends to the widow of the yakuza she killed, because she suffers from guilt. Then some mobsters start trying to take the widow's nightclub as payment for a debt, showing up to scare off business to ensure she can't raise the money to pay it off. Nami steps in to save the day with a high stakes pool game (the pool room even has a Paul Newman poster as homage to The Hustler). When the sore-loser gangsters try to welsh on the bet, Nami has to show their dishonorable asses that she's just as good with a blade as she is with a cue. The movie's not exactly action-packed -- the fight scenes are a long time coming and are relegated to the last five minutes, but they're well-done and splattery -- but since it's a Meiko Kaji film you won't mind the slow pace too much since there's plenty of gorgeous to look at. Kaji's character isn't her standard ice queen, so she gets a chance to emote a wider range than usual (smiling, even! When's the last time you saw that?) and has more dialogue. She also has several songs on the soundtrack, which is always a plus. The series continued (and concluded) with Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2: She-Cat Gambler.

"Guts and courage lay under her skin!"

Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2: She-Cat Gambler (C, 1972) aka Gincho Nagaremon Mesuneko Bakuchi. Meiko Kaji is back for this sequel, and this time she's got Sonny Chiba for a co-star. Kaji rescues a girl from a life of prostitution by winning her contract in a game of cards, then sets out to find a killer named Hoshiden, who murdered her gambler father years ago. While gathering information she does a lot of gambling and befriends Chiba, who actually plays a klutzy goof. At one point he tries to cover a gambling bet by throwing his pants on the table, and later he flashes her while taking a bubble bath. He also tries to act as a pimp for brothel and has a friend demonstrate a bidet, and that might be funny if Gilligan was doing it. When the father of one of Kaji's friends kills himself, he leaves behind information about where she can find her father's killer. The killer finds her instead, but taking a hell of a beating isn't enough to stop Kaji when she's set on revenge. This sequel is inferior to the first film for several reasons. First, Kaji has less screen time, and the movie really suffers when she's not in it. You'd think Sonny Chiba could pick up the slack, but they only use him for comedy, and that's not his strong point. Who puts Sonny Chiba in a movie and uses him as a clown? He does turn badass in the last five minutes when he and Kaji take on a house full of yakuza in a satisfying finale, but you have to wait through a lot of silliness to get there. Second, Kaji is kept in a stiff, shapeless kimono with her hair up and pulled back (and since she has the perfect hair, this is a real shame). Also, a lot of time is spent gambling with cards; this lacks the kinetic energy of the billiards in the first film, plus, as a Westerner, the rules and meanings of these cards are completely alien to me (and likely to most of you as well), so the drama of turning cards over is lacking. "Wow, a peony! Is that good?" This is by no means a bad movie (all Meiko Kaji films are essential), but just expect a step down from the first one.

Climactic kickass!

Zatoichi's Revenge (C, 1965) aka Zatoichi Nidan-Kiri, The Blind Swordsman's Revenge. Great, more-straightforward-than-usual entry sees the blind swordsman paying a visit to his massage-instructor, only to find out that he's been murdered and his daughter's being forced into prostitution. There's a lot of local girls who are having to work in brothels to pay off debts, and Ichi's teacher was killed as part of a "Rob Roy" type scheme; an official loaned him some money, then had him killed and robbed. Ichi has a clue that a certain samurai did it, so they're destined to duel. Ichi also deals with a crooked dice-tosser who's working for his enemies. Ichi piles up plenty of bodies in the process of setting things right.


Goddammit! Swearing Is Healthy As Shit! (...Fuck Yeah!)

The excellent boingboing.net reports this morning that a medical journal has released study results suggesting that swearing is actually a beneficial way to alleviate pain.

So there, you fuckers!

(The cool image is actually the costume design for Dr. Blasphemy, one of Rick Veitch's brilliant comics characters.)


And yet more movie reviews... fodatasstadow!

Okay, I'm officially calling NaNoWriMo off on account of pain. I mean, my novel... you should all carry on with yours. (Like anybody was doing it besides me. Slaggards, thou! Slugabeds! Cookies!) It's pretty hopeless, because I've been spending hours and hours sitting in front of the computer, unable to make myself actually write. My life's been like the first half of Barton Fink, sans John Goodman, and plus prostate problems. I have a world's champeen bad prostate, apparently, and probably no tact since I discuss it in public. Had surgery on it a few years back but it still gives me the miseries on a regular basis; bladder infections, weird pains, you name it. I'm not seeing the doctor (for a while anyway) because he never does anything except say "There's nothing wrong that I can tell. Don't care how terrible it feels, there's no infection. That'll be $300." And I've got a few antibiotics I pilfered from my dad's endless supply (he's the poor guy I inherited the goddamn thing from, y'see) that I'm takin' just in case it actually is a bladder infection, so I can prevent damage. Anyway, it's a pain in the ass. The front part of the ass. Y'know, the wiener. And suburbs thereof. The part where you're not supposed to let bad mans touch you, basically.

Anyhow, I'm certain that sitting on it for hours and hours at the computer doing nothing isn't helping, so I'm just calling my NaNoWriMo novel (called Daisyland, I think I decided) a wash for now. I have lots of ideas for it but can't make myself write 'em down. I may try to hand-write some of it later, but as far as 50,0000 words in a month, fahgeddaboudit, not happin', Slappy. It's already the 11th and I'm just over 10,000 words. Finishing it on spec would require a Herculean effort, and I'm not Hercules. In fact, I'm sick as a dog, other shit besides just my beloved prostate (him name Herman! I put a hat on him! Mmmm-wah!) and just being alive is struggle enough right now.

Anyway, despite that, I'm providing you with new movie reviews, anyway, just 'cuz I love yaz. And because I feel bad about back there where I called you "cookies." That was terribly mean. Today's offerings will include a trailer for Machine Girl, though, and that's the greatest thing you've ever seen in ya goddamn life and will more than make up for any hurt feelings. In fact, I should take advantage of that and call everybody "cunts" instead, but, I won't. I've somehow worked up enough bad karma somewhere already. Fucking prostate. Damn you, Herman.


I Saw What You Did (B&W, 1965) Teens Libby and Kit (and pesky little sister Tess) are home alone, making prank calls for fun. On one ill-fated call they reach John Ireland and tell him "I saw what you did and I know who you are," not suspecting that he's a homicidal maniac who's just stabbed his wife to death in the shower. They're intrigued by his reaction and go to his house to try to get a look at him, but his mistress Joan Crawford catches them and steals their vehicle registration. Ireland kills her and then goes after the girls. Fun William Castle Psycho-variant with a good mix of intensity and sitcom-like goofiness; the murder's actually pretty surprising, because up to that point the movie's played like an episode of Father Knows Best or something. The Castle gimmick for this movie was a "Shock Section" in theaters, where the chairs were equipped with seat belts for people who might get jolted out of their seats. It's not that scary, but it's good... good enough to have been remade as a TV movie in 1988. Stick with the original.

If that intrigues you, you can watch the whole movie here. You'll have to provide your own seat belt.

Killer From Above (C, 1977) aka Dao Jian Ba Wang Quan. Lo Lieh vs. Carter Wong! Lo Lieh is a killer who’s travelling around, using Phoenix Eye fists to kill people, apparently indiscriminately... but he says all the people he’s killing are evil. He spares a couple of bumbling idiots because they’re innocent, and they help him out when he gets captured. Carter Wong is an evil leader who’s sent to deal with him, but Carter’s been one of his main targets all along. Lo Lieh also has to deal with a guy who impersonates him, a guy named Smiling Killer (who, oddly enough, doesn’t smile much), and a treacherous woman named Widow Spider. Carter locks him in a “water dungeon” full of traps, but he escapes and they square off, Phoenix Eye against mantis fist. Solid kung fu, with a rare good-guy role for the late great Lo Lieh.

Machine Girl (C, 2008) aka Kataude Mashin Garu, The One-Armed Machine Girl. Usually when a movie trailer is really, really good, the movie itself ends up being a disappointment. Well, here’s one that lives up to the hype. The just-enough-plot-to-be-an-excuse-for-lots-of-crazy-action-scenes story is your standard revenge dealie; a gang of bullies kill a schoolboy they’ve been extorting, so his really cute sister sets out to avenge him. His killer is the son of a yakuza boss, and while going after them she’s captured, and they chop off her left arm while torturing her. Undeterred, she replaces her missing hand with a multi-barreled machine gun and uses it to take on her enemies, including some Power Ranger-like ninjas known as... The Junior High Shuriken Gang! The result of it all is crazy, insane gore! Blood sprays like garden sprinklers, bodies are sliced into sections, people are blown to tiny bits (sometimes the flesh is blown off their skeleton before they die), a guy gets nails driven into his face, there’s chainsaw mayhem, a flying guillotine, a drill bra, and other means of hyper-graphic bloodletting that’s cool as hell but can’t even remotely be taken seriously (although to the film’s credit, they play it straight no matter how wacky and over the top it gets, which elevates it above the Toxic Avenger level that it could fall to). Cartoonish but never lets up and assails you with one crazed splatter scenario after another. There’s no way not to fall in love with this Japanese actionfest, which more than delivers on all its trailers’ promises.


Another version in English, which is also... THE MOST AWESOME TRAILER YOU HAVE EVER SEEN!!!!


Nude For Satan (C, 1974) aka Nuda Per Satana. Absurdist, nonsensical Italian horror in which a doctor brings a woman who was injured in a car wreck to a castle full of crazy evil fiends, who are apparently their own evil halves. The evil selves engage in all sorts of lustful behavior, which includes naked dancing girls, a really badly-made giant spider that captures girl in a web, whipping, and orgies of weirdness. Some of it actually manages to be creepy, with ugly people laughing and leering at the camera, but there’s really not much in the way of a plot or story -- there are just a bunch of weird scenes thrown haphazardly together, creating a nightmarish feel. I think it’s aiming for a Castle of Blood thing, but packing in as much sleaze as they can without just being softcore porn (which it really isn’t; even though there’s plenty of nudity and some mild sex, an effort is made to emphasize the horror). There’s a lot of psychobabble thrown in to give it an air of respectability. A Eurotrash horror oddity that you’ll probably like if you’re not hung up on coherency. Does manage a lunatic atmosphere and some surreality.

One Damned Day At Dawn... Django Meets Sartana (C, 1971) aka Quel Maledetto Giorno D’Inverno... Django e Sartana All’ultimo Sangre. Marquee-filling Spaghetti Western with Fabio Testi (the man so virile he’s even got balls in his name!) as a meek new sheriff who’s got way too much on his plate when he arrives in the town where he’s been assigned. The dirty little town is being terrorized by a gang run by a thug named Bud Wheeler and his Mexican pal, Sanchez. (You can make your own “Dirty Sanchez” jokes here, I’m not going to go there, no sir). Vastly outnumbered, Testi doesn’t do much to oppose him. A grim stranger in town (supposedly Django, a bounty hunter) mostly sits around and watches Wheeler’s violence. Testi finally gets forced into a showdown with Wheeler at dawn (after an arm-wrestling contest over lit candles) and Django decides to help him out. Together they kill off Bud Wheeler’s gang, but then Sanchez and his men come in wanting revenge. Testi (who is secretly Sartana) quits his job as sheriff, bu then returns to face Sanchez. He and Django have a fist fight for no particular reason, then take on the bad guys. The direction is pretty clumsy and the story’s pretty average, but the dirty, windy locations, good music score, and Testi’s screen presence help elevate it. The climactic gunfight during a dust storm is atmospheric despite the director’s limitations.

Pirates on Horseback (B&W, 1941) An old prospector uncovers a lost gold mine, and a gang of thugs kill him while trying to make him reveal the location. The prospector was the cousin of Hopalong Cassidy's pal California, so Hoppy, California, and Lucky set out to find the gold mine and catch the killers. Needless to say, this involves some trouble, such as fist-fights and shoot-outs. It sometimes leans heavier in the direction of mystery (although it's a good one, so that's not a complaint) instead of action, but Hoppy makes up for that by getting mad and beating the snot out of a guy at the end.

Couldn't find a trailer for this one, but here's an ad for what I'm assured is Hoppy's favorite bread.

Psyched by the 4-D Witch (C, 1972) Extremely bizarre obscurity filmed entirely in obnoxious acid-trippy visuals. A girl named Cindy who wears a really terrible wig but usually no top goofs around with black magic rituals and the spirit of an astral witch named Abigail promises her orgasms when she hears the magic words "Let's fantasy-fuck now!" Mostly you get close-ups of red lights shining on things, but there are also unrelated bits of somebody's travel footage of fountains and beaches and stuff, close-ups of people's faces (it all looks like it was shot silent on an 8mm movie camera). There's a lot of voice-over narration -- all about sex -- but they don't really show you much of anything. You get people in weird costumes superimposed over traffic footage instead. There's a memorable "Beware of the 4-D Witch" theme song that pops up often, along with bits of "Night On Bald Mountain" (which is public domain, don'tchaknow). After having sex with a supposedly-gay guy and a lesbian encounter with her aunt, Cindy tries to stop witchcraft and devote her time to raking leaves (which is a much more entertaining passtime than watching this film, by the way), but then she has nightmares about astral eyes and such, and Abigail makes her watch a girl have sex with a snake (basically she just holds a rubber snake while naked), and then tries to make her have sex with her dead girlfriend, and Cindy learns that Abigail is trying to punish her for stealing her boyfriend in another life. Then Abigail targets Cindy's brother Mark, using an evil eye to turn him into a sex-vampire... which is every bit as tedious as Cindy's adventures. The main problem with the style of this junk is that it gives you nothing sensical to look at, and the disjointed images you get instead aren't even of anything interesting... and on top of that, there's a very limited collection of them (maybe ten loops of film to draw from) and they're endlessly repeated. One of the most stultifying film experiences you'll ever have; if anything in this review has made it sound interesting at all, then I've erred. The only charm of this thing is its rarity and obscurity; you'll be seeing something that few others had seen before DVD hawked it back up and spat it into the market. But that's akin to seeing your own intestines; few have seen that, either, and you getting the privilege just makes you unlucky and unfortunate. May be more entertaining to people who've taken drugs, but that's a real "fuck 'em" target audience to shoot for, and aren't the drugs supposed to be entertaining enough on their own? A film that truly makes the statement, "Got yer money!"

Those of you with bands will probably want to cover this theme song...

Requiem For A Dream (C, 2000) It's amazing that such dark material drew such a big-name cast, because this one shows up again and again on lists of most-disturbing films. It's an exploration of addictions and how easily they can get out of control and land you in a real-life hell. A young junkie (Jared Leto) and his friend (Marlon Wayans) come up with a way to make some money: they'll buy some uncut heroin, water it down, and re-sell it and used the money to buy more and repeat the process. Their new career as drug dealers works out well for a while, but then they, as well as Leto's girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly) start using too much of their own product. In the meantime Leto's mother (Ellen Burstyn, who really should have been up for an Oscar for this) gets some mail that tells her she could be a potential game-show contestant, and becomes so obsessed with the idea that she starts dieting to fit into a dress she wants to wear on the show. She has a food addiction, though, so she goes on diet pills and is soon addicted to those. Everyone's addictions get out of hand, leading to madness, prostitution, amputation, incarceration, and gernal Dante's Inferno material that will prove too much of a downer for many viewers, especially those who have some chemical dependencies of their own and may see their potential selves here. Based on a Hubert Selby Jr. novel, directed by Darren Aronofsky (Pi) with a great deal of surreal style and power (apparently too much for many, as this keeps showing up in lists of horror movies without really being part of the genre).

Ricco The Mean Machine (C, 1973) aka Cauldron of Death, Gangland, The Dirty Mob, Ricco, Some Guy With A Strange Face Is Looking For You To Kill You. This movie always stood out to me because it was the most annoying thing about Michael Weldon’s groundbreaking Psychotronic book (which, again, a friend of mine is re-creating, and you should check out his blog here - it's got my highest endorsement): he had a large reproduction of the newspaper ad and then a dismissive review that told absolutely nothing about the film, which I’m pretty sure he never actually saw. Now that movie’s finally available on DVD we can see that, great as Weldon is, his judgment is sometimes off. Even though this is an Italian crime drama and not a horror film as some unscrupulous marketing-monkeys tried to make you think, there’s enough gore and violence to make Italian horror fans take notice. Robert Mitchum’s son Chris stars as Ricco, an ex-con just released from prison and on the vengeance trail after Arthur Kennedy, a drug smuggler who blew Ricco’s dad’s head off and stole his girlfriend. Chris gets some help (and then some opposition) from a mobster who looks a lot like Paulie Walnuts on The Sopranos. Mitchum uses a lot of phony-looking kung fu to battle Kennedy’s minions, who do some pretty hideous things like dissolving people in acid (and making soap out of them, in which drugs or jewels are hidden) or cutting off a guy’s organs of engenderment and stuffing them in his mouth (very graphically). Nobody dies easily in gunfights, either; even bullets in the heart aren’t immediately fatal. In addition to all the violence there’s plenty of high-quality nudity, compliments of Barbara Bouchet and Malisa Longo. The Italian title of this translates to “Some Guy With A Strange Face Is Looking For You To Kill You.” Not exactly flattering to Mitchum. A must for fans of over-the-top Italian crime dramas.

Scream of the Butterfly (B&W, 1965) aka The Passion Kit. A disgruntled lover runs over his adulterous ladyfriend and lawyers see it as a dream case, and discuss it using some hilarious hard-boiled dialogue, triggering flashbacks to her marriage (to a guy who's managed a haircut that incorporates a flat-top and wings) and near-instantaneous infidelity with a guy she meets on the beach. She gets so wrapped up with her boyfriend that she even tries to kill her husband, even though she still kind of loves him, too. She thinks it's all a big messy love triangle, but it's actually a rectangle; the boyfriend has a boyfriend of his own! And it leads to a big twist ending. Well-made sleaze (there are some interesting directorial tricks for such a cheap little flick) with some good dialogue and plot twists, along with the torrid make-out scenes and some mild brief nudity. Bears no relation to the brilliantly-creepy Acid Bath song of the same name.

Here's the Acid Bath song, which is amazing. The lyrics are uber-creepy and the heck with Peter Murphy, Dax Riggs is the eeriest vocalist ever. Someone once described his singing as "the voice of the thing in the corner that made you cry when you were in your crib," and that's about perfect.


Huge Robot Looms Menacingly Over Tokyo!

So, the 30th anniversary of the Gundam is upon us... (c'mon, you remember Mobile Suit Gundam from waaaay back, right? It ain't Voltron-old, but still...) and to commemorate the occasion, a 59-foot giant Gundam has been erected in a Tokyo park. And he lights up at night...

Say what you will about the awful state of the world's economic + political stability... I live in a world where a giant robot is standing over the city of Tokyo + I can only hope that any aliens scouting our planet are either scared space-shitless or convinced to bring on such powerful artillery that we get vaporized before we even know about it.

Check out my favorite comics-news website, icv2.com, for links to even more cool giant Gundam pics, as well as info on a similar upcoming tribute to Tetsujin!

Now, then... who's up for the giant Godzilla statue?! Or even a matching pair of huge, hungry-looking rodents arched and slavering over Anaheim + Orlando ...?


Mo' movie reviews fo' dat ass, tah-dow!

So far NaNoWriMo's going blah. I am an unprincipled, undisciplined twat who's only managed just over 3,000 words so far. I wanted a will of iron, and instead I have summoned Jello. I've figured out the computer is a lousy environment on which to write, because it's too easy to find distractions... and anything's more fun than the work so I'm way-motivated to go pokin'. I'm trying to lay the groundwork for a backwoods inbred bloodbath here, I get frustrated at my clumsy prose, and before you know it I'm looking up obscure comic book characters (Fast Willie Jackson! Can you dig it?), watching people rant (or in some cases, fart - people will film anything) on YouTube, and checking to see what the reaction's been to lantern-jawed lackwit Sarah Palin's word-salad resignation yesterday. Or at least I assume it's a resignation... I'm still waiting for someone to translate it from Dolt. I swear, she uses words like Jackson Pollock used paint: just fling a bunch of 'em out there as hard as ya can and trust the audience to interpret them as a work of genius. It's a total bring-your-own-lunch picnic; any meaning in her speeches is imposed upon it by the audience.

"I see a strong statement of conservative principles!"

"I see patriotic support for the troops!"

"I see a firm yet humble belief in the God of the Bible!"

"I see a bunny! Building a snowman!"

Yeesh and yeeargh, my friends, yeesh and yeeargh.

Anyway, none of this is an acceptable excuse for my only churning out 3,300 words in 3-going-on-4 days, two of them even holidays in-the-sun-nah. I have, at times, put out 6,300 words in one day, and that was writing by hand in a notebook. I'm a lazy sod, I'm a lazy sod, I'm a lazy sod, and I don't caaaaaaaarrrre! (Okay, I do care, and that's the problem, iddnit?)

Anyway, I figured I'd take a moment out from shirking my self-imposed responsibilities to open up a few movie reviews I'd previously canned for your amusement and edification. Mmmmm, you can smell the preservatives! Just like chocolate pudding, except you can't spread 'em on your loved ones and lick 'em off. But I won't fault you for trying. Unless I'm your loved one, in which case, get the fuck away from me with your weird ass.


The Black Legion (B&W, 1937) Humphrey Bogart works in a machine shop. When he's passed up for a promotion in favor of a guy named Dombrowski, Bogart blames his misfortune on "foreigners," even though Dombrowski's been going to night school and has invented several money-saving devices around the shop. Bogart joins a Ku Klux Klan-like secret organization called the Black Legion, who swear his allegiance and take him along as they terrorize anyone with an "immigrant"-sounding name, flogging people, burning down their houses, and throwing them on freight trains heading out of town. At first it helps Bogart out, but he soon loses his job for sloppiness because he's distracted by recruiting for the Legion. The Legion, meanwhile, starts leaning on its members, because it's primarily a money-making scheme for the guys at the top. As the Legion grows more violent, Bogart's life gets more miserable, but he doesn't know how to get out of the situation because the Legion will kill him if he quits. This is a very well-done (and unfortunately still relevant in its message) film. It's not subtle; the propaganda is layered on with a melodramatic trowel, but since it's against a Klan-like organization, bring it on. Recommended. You can watch the whole movie starting here, or test-drive the trailer below.

Blood Harvest (C, 1986) aka Nightmare, The Marvelous Mervo. Clowns are creepy. Tiny Tim is really creepy. So do you think you can handle Tiny Tim as a homicidal clown? Maybe, since it’s directed by Bill (Giant Spider Invasion) Rebane, and he could fuck up a free-cupcake festival. A girl named Jill comes home to visit her parents. Her dad’s a banker who’s despised in town because he’s foreclosed on too many farmers. As if having the whole town hate you isn’t bad enough, her old high school boyfriend still has a crush on her, and his brother is “Marvelous Mervo” (Tiny Tim), a singing, warbly-voiced damage case who’s so obsessed with being a clown that he hardly takes the makeup and costume off anymore. He has a woman tied up in a hillside cave and wails hymns in an empty church. His parents were murdered and it left him with some very serious issues. He’s basically a very unhappy clown. There’s also a masked killer in town, trying to scald people in the shower, taking nude photos of girls while they’re asleep, and butchering them in barns with knives and arrows. Excessively cheap-looking, with uninspired direction and a bad synthesizer score, this was produced as part of the flood of direct-to-video horror in the 80’s, and is really only distinguished by Tiny Tim’s unhinged creepiness. He could use more screentime. There’s some gore (people hanging upside down in a barn with their blood draining into buckets), but it’s too mild to be a selling point.

Mercifully, there are no film clips on YouTube that I could find, but the following Tiny Tim footage in blood-curdling enough. Warning: may cause impotence.

Border Menace (B&W, 1934) Good luck trying to follow this cheaper-than-usual B-western, which has the reputation of being the worst B-western ever. Bill Cody is a ranger who gets himself sent to the pen to get information from a convict about a gang of cattle rustlers, which he then infiltrates. Unluckily for him, his former cellmate (a big thuggy guy who mangles all the few lines the can actually remember) escapes from jail and if he reunites with the gang, Cody’s cover will be blown. They fit in plenty of action scenes to keep things moving, but it’s hard to tell in what direction because everything’s so sloppy and chaotic; it feels like they stuck footage from several movies together and tried to make a new film out of it. One superfluous character seems to be stuck in just to pad the running time to 53 minutes, but he’s one of the main reasons to watch this mess: yes, ladies and gentlemen (and my audience of miscreants as well), your life won’t be complete until you witness Polecat Pete, who is possibly the most obnoxious character ever captured on celluloid. He walks like he’s just thrown a sacroiliac and shouts all his lines bombastically, most of which are his own name and the rest are about what a badass mofo he is. "Pooooolllllecat Pete!" It’s such horrible overacting you’ve got to assume it was intentional (especially since the actor playing him, Jimmy Aubrey, made 448 other movies). He sounds more like a pirate than a cowboy; an “Avast!” would have been right at home. He also makes crazy faces and waves his arms a lot. Just about everyone in this film shouts their lines at the top of their lungs, and most of the cowboy hats are comically large. Cody’s character is known as “The Shadow,” presumably because his body is of sufficient mass to block sunlight... just like everyone else’s.

Unfortunately, no clips of this one, which is heartbreaking, 'cuz I really wanted you all to be subjected to "Polecat Pete." Unfortunately, your life will have to continue on unscathed, ya poor sodding bastard.

Cycle Savages
(C, 1969) An artist with an attitude has been drawing pictures of Bruce Dern's motorcycle gang, and that's uncool with Bruce, so he cuts the artist up a little with a straight razor. A girl nurses him back to health, but she's a friend of Dern's, and Dern is getting obsessed about the guy not making any more drawings, and makes plans to smash the guy's hands. In the meantime they beat up some citizens and gang-rape a girl who thought she wanted to join their club, while the artist makes out with his rescuer. Dern decides he wants to crush the guy's hands in a vice. And that's pretty much the whole plot. Very ordinary biker flick livened up by the always-menacing presence of Dern.

Best I could find was a collection of dialogue that has about 2 seconds from Cycle Savages at the very end.

Deadly Harvest (C, 1977) At the end of the 1970's, the world ended! And not just for Peter Frampton, either! Or, at least, it came close, according to this ecological disaster movie. A combination of overpopulation, lack of farmland, energy crises making transportation too expensive, poor governmental foresight, skewed weather patterns, and a couple of years in a row of losing the harvest leaves the world desperately short of food, and mankind faces starvation. As usual, they take it like a bunch of whiney-ass titty babies, and the worst comes out in everyone. People from the city head into the flyover areas to try to raid farms, and kind-hearted, giant-economy-sized farmer Clint Walker tries to protect his scant food supply for his family. The raiders grow increasingly desperate, and corrupt protection-gangs among the farm communities also try to muscle him. A lot of the dialogue is laughably melodramatic, but the viability of the plot and a good sense of pacing make this pretty compelling despite the occasional cheesiness.

Detective Bureau 2-3: Go To Hell Bastards! (C, 1963) aka Tantei Jimuso 23: Kutabare Akuto-Domo. One of those movies you have to see just because of the title. Quirky Japanese director Seijun Suzuki directs even-quirkier actor Jo Shishido (he's so weird that he got freakish cheek implants that make him look like a heavily-laden squirrel who's expecting a particularly long winter) in this crazy crime drama. When a crime boss is released from prison, rival yakuza surround the prison to gun him down the second he comes out. Shishido is funny-looking but he's a badass, and manages to snatch the crime boss and sneak him to safety. He poses as a criminal and gets the crime boss to let him join his gang so he can be on the inside track to learn the whereabouts of a big shipment of guns the yakuza are planning to deal. He'll eventually put some of those guns to good (and unorthodox) use when they trap him in a burning basement. Somehow during all this subterfuge he still finds time to do a goofy singing-and-dancing nightclub number. Very stylish and steeped in 60's Japanese pop-art coolness (although Suzuki would later take that even further in movies like Branded To Kill) and has a great jazz score, but the movie's got too many dead spots and is hard to follow at times. And it doesn't quite manage to be as badass as its title, but I figured on that much; what movie could?

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (C, 1973) aka Nightmare. One of the many genuinely-creepy made-for-TV movies that traumatized America’s 70’s monster kids, this is one of the most infamously scary. A couple move into the wife’s grandparents’ old house and find a key to a locked room with a bricked-up fireplace. Unwisely, and against their handyman’s advice, they open it up and unleash spooky little gnomes that were haunting the chimney. The grim little creatures sneak around the house, whispering in scratchy voices that sound like a radio being tuned, and peek out at her from flower arrangements. They look like a cross between the standard alien visitor and those dried-apple heds. And they want to GET the wife. But they don’t like light; if she turns it on, they run and hide in little hidden doors in the wall. Pretty weird, directed by John Newland of the One Step Beyond TV show, and has a surprising disturbing ending for a TV flick. A generation got nightmares from this one.

Here's some other guy's review, full of clips from the movie.

And here's the first few minutes of it, in situ as it would have appeared on TV.

Dreaming Fist With Slender Hand (C, 1980) aka Meng Quan Lan Hua Shou. Comedic kung fu with a pair of students (one of them fat and therefore the butt of a lot of "I'm hungry" humor) are released by their teacher because they spend more time just roughhousing than learning kung fu. On their way to a new teacher they try to raise money by street begging and end up with a job fighting off bandits. They're not very good at it and one ends up in prison. The fat one gets a job as a waiter and learns kung fu from the woman who manages the restaurant. The other escapes from prison with an old beggar who then trains him via various torturous methods. The fat guy learns a womanly fighting style (which leads his opponents to ask him if he's gay), while the other's fighting methods are centered around positions of sleeping and laziness, so he'll keep calm while fighting. The movie never does establish much of a reason w they're training, and even when they get into fights it's pretty much just a "those are the bad guys and who needs any other reason" thing, but the fights are well done. That's fortunate, because the comedy sure isn't. Average overall.

Expedition, The (C, 2006) Blair Witch Project worship meets Session 9 cultism in a film probably financed by somebody’s tax return. Five documentarians who say “fuckin’” before every noun and most of their adjectives and verbs too enter the long-abandoned Saratoga Homestead Hospital to videotape it all. It’s not really supposed to be haunted even though it’s an extremely creepy place, but they soon notice strange things happening, such as cold rooms and presences that make their cameras go staticky. While they’re wandering around the ruins one of their friends, fuckin’ Tom, goes missing and they have to search the building looking for him. Every once in a while they cut to footage of the police interrogating one of the filmmakers, and occasional “reenactment” footage. The strong point of this is definitely location; the huge, crumbling old tuberculosis clinic is atmospheric in the extreme, and would be highly creepy even if they weren’t trying to make a horror movie out of it. The main weakness of the movie is length; there is no reason whatsoever that such a scant story (premise, really) with almost no narrative drive needs to be an hour and 48 minutes long. At around half that length you might generate some spookiness (even if it’s extremely derivative of Blair Witch) but as it stands only an obsessive interest in urban exploration kept me watching. A music score of constant eerie music does manage to create some false tension, even while it spoils the cinema verite. Worth checking out for patient fans of Blair Witch-like films, and still better than many homemade horror films just because of location. Available ultra-cheap on the Mortuary of Madness 50 movie set.

Can't find a clip from the movie, but there's footage taken inside the same location. The bluegrass spoils the mood, big time... If you just can't get enough, there's more starting here.

Get Christie Love! (C, 1974) Television’s buy-in to the blacksploitation craze. Pam Grier and Cleopatra Jones movies were doing good box office, so ABC brought in tall, cool, beautiful Teresa Graves for this pilot and the brief series that followed. She’s a cop who works undercover as a hooker. When people get rough with her, she drops them on their heads and wisecracks about it. Ya can’t help but love her! She’s assigned to find a ledger belonging to a gangster drug dealer, who’s bringing the dope in with Japanese samurai movies he’s importing. Christie gets in shoot-outs, has her lil’ VW Bug smashed, and won’t take no for an answer when it comes to stopping crime. More car chases and shoot-outs follow, and Graves steals the show. “You’re under arrest, Sugar!” Too bad she later got really involved in religion and gave up acting. Later she died in a house fire, good and faithful servant. Tragic in more ways than one.

Good Night And Good Luck (B&W, 2005) This would probably make Ann Coulter furious, but considering Ann Coulter is an ugly and worthless scrap of diseased shit, a detriment to mankind, and a traitor to her country, that should come as a recommendation. Taking on the look of period footage, this film is an examination of the bravery of newsman Edward R. Murrow and his producer Fred Friendly as they used the CBS News to take on Sen. Joe McCarthy and his Communist witch-hunts. McCarthy was spreading an atmosphere of paranoia and fear, and to question what he was doing was to make oneself a target for his lies and trumped-up charges. True patriot (which should never be confused with flag-waving conformity clones) Murrow got so disgusted with McCarthy’s destruction of civil liberties and desecration of all America stands for that he set himself up as McCarthy’s opposition, despite risk to his career and the network. Director and co-star George Clooney took a bit of a risk himself, releasing an intelligent film whose topic and pacing was unlikely to appeal to the public, filmed in black and white, and while the subject matter was also risky at the time, since the Bush administration had been creating an atmosphere in which all dissent was also being scrutinized. Far from slam-bang and too dry for many viewers, but an important historical drama that masterfully captures the era, and contrasts the high level of televised journalism 50 years ago to the silly and superficial rat-circus it’s now become. Seriously, it’s like comparing Shakespeare to a Garfield comic.

Guinea Pig: Flower of Flesh and Blood (C, 1985) aka Gini Piggu 2: Chiniku No Hana, Slow Death: The Dismemberment, Flower of Flesh and Blood. Reprehensible faked Japanese snuff film in which a guy with is face painted white and wearing a samurai helmet snatches a girl off the streets, ties her to a bed, decapitates a chicken, injects her with heroin, cuts her hands and then her arms off, saws her legs off, pulls her intestines out, then decapitates her and spoons out her eyes... all because he thinks wounds are flowers. Then you see wormy corpses all over his house, which shows he's been doing this a long time. Then he goes out to do it again. The only reason to watch this sick plotless crap is if you have an interest in extreme gore effects, which are impressively realistic. It's still easy enough to tell they're not real (no subcutaneous fat layer, the skin slides around too much like the latex it is, etc.), but Charlie Sheen was still convinced enough to alert the FBI when he saw this movie at a party and caused a big stink, and the filmmakers had to go to court to prove it was all fake. The band Skinny Puppy also thought it was real. Based on one of Hideshi Hino's horror manga; he also plays the killer.

Watch this one at your own risk.

Hard Times (C, 1975) aka Street Fighter, The Streetfighter. Walter Hill's top-notch action direction combines with Charles Bronson's menacing screen presence and good performances from James Coburn and Strother Martin to create an anti-chick-movie masterpiece. In the 1920's the Depression has the country in a chokehold and people are desperately scrambling for money any way they can. Bronson's way is pick-up streetfighting for betting money. He's damn good at it, so Coburn (along with doctor Strother) manages him. But Coburn can't even manage his own money and gets himself in trouble, and Bronson has to get him out... by fighting an ultra-tough bruiser brought in from Chicago just to stomp Bronson. Strong period atmosphere and some brutal fight scenes make this one of Bronson's best.

"Life was as tough as a cheap steak!"


It was a dark and stormy night...

They announce the winners of the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest on the same day that I start our localized version of NaNoWriMo. Coincidence? Or OOOOOOMEN? Looking back at the 1,000 words I managed to write last night, so far I'm going with... OOOOOOMEN? Christ but I suck.

(It is not, I shall remind you, too late for you to start NaNoWriMoIng. Long weekend coming up! You've only missed one day, and you can make that up easy.)

In any case, I love these things: deliberately-badly-written first lines to possible novels. I've never entered it, but I have written a few of my own before (being loquatious I tend to break the rules and use more than one sentence). More on those later, but here are my faves from the actual contest.

The winning entry is frickin' hilarious:

"Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin' off Nantucket Sound from the nor' east and the dogs are howlin' for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the "Ellie May," a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin' and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests."

David McKenzie
Federal Way, WA

The runner-up:

The wind dry-shaved the cracked earth like a dull razor--the double edge kind from the plastic bag that you shouldn't use more than twice, but you do; but Trevor Earp had to face it as he started the second morning of his hopeless search for Drover, the Irish Wolfhound he had found as a pup near death from a fight with a prairie dog and nursed back to health, stolen by a traveling circus so that the monkey would have something to ride.
Warren Blair
Ashburn, VA

Some others (I'm just picking a few, but they're all worth reading, so go to the link):

She walked into my office on legs as long as one of those long-legged birds that you see in Florida - the pink ones, not the white ones - except that she was standing on both of them, not just one of them, like those birds, the pink ones, and she wasn't wearing pink, but I knew right away that she was trouble, which those birds usually aren't.
Eric Rice
Sun Prairie, WI

The gutters of Manhattan teemed with the brackish slurry indicative of a significant though not incapacitating snowstorm three days prior, making it seem that God had tripped over Hoboken and spilled his smog-flavored slurpie all over the damn place.
Eric Stoveken
Allentown, PA

She expected a beautiful morning after the previous night's hard rain but instead stepped out her door to a horrible vision of drowned earthworms covering the walkway -- their bodies curled and swirled like limp confetti after a party crashed by firefighters. Rita Hammett
Boca Raton, Florida

Their relationship hit a bump in the road, not the low, graceful kind of bump, reminiscent of a child's choo choo train-themed roller coaster, rather the kind of tall, narrow speed-bump that, if a school bus ran over it, would cause even a fat kid to fly up and bang his head on the ceiling.
Michael Reade
Durham, NC

Melinda woke up suddenly to the sound of her trailer being pounded with wind and hail, and she couldn't help thinking that if she had only put her prized hog up for adoption last May, none of this would be happening, no one would have gotten hurt, and she wouldn't be left with only nine toes, or be living in a mobile home park in Nebraska with a second-rate trapeze artist named Fred. Ada Marie Finkel
Boston, MA

He was the desert nightmare whose name no one dared breathe, this deadly gun-slinger Garth Tedder, whose face struck terror in the hearts of man and beast, its macabre, round, maroon cheeks almost exactly like the pickled beets that farmers' wives force-fed their horrified families.
Brett Hawkins, Burleson, TX

"I want you to follow my husband," said my newest client, the enigmatic Mrs Yogi, estranged wife of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Steve Heckman
Taylors, SC

As Laurel made her way through the plaza, she couldn't help but notice the gorgeous co-anchor for the morning news show, out yet again signing autographs, smiling broadly, and infusing everyone around her with happiness, and she wondered, just for a second mind you, how good it would feel to punch her right in her stupid little face.
Nikkia Daniel
Marietta, GA

As Lieutenant Baker shrank his lips back to their normal size, he tried desperately to think of a situation in which his new-found power might be useful, as have I, your narrator.
Dan Blaufuss
Glenview, IL

Before she was Tabloid Sally, the impossibly foxy movie star who destroyed marriages like a busty ball-peen hammer, before she was Nobel Sally, the mercurial chemist who cured chronic halitosis, and before she was Pulitzer Sally, the honey-dipped scribe who brought Washington to its knees, she was just little Sally Barns from Crow's Neck, Neb., Bill and Margie's daughter, a doe-eyed pixie who loved fairy tales and onion rings.
Roger Collier
Ottawa, Ontario


And now (always leave 'em with an anti-climax!) here's a few of mine that I wrote a couple years ago (some of which are cheats since they've got multiple sentences, but screw it, rules are just set up to keep a brotha down!):

Finster slammed the phone down and collapsed into his chair, trembling with rage at those idiots and their endless questions, when he'd told them repeatedly exactly what he wanted. Why would they not understand? Could it truly be this hard to mail a gnu?

Imelda was one to embrace life's troubles and make snuggly teddy-bears of the miseries she found thrown into her path. If life gave her lemons, she'd not only make lemonade, she'd invite all of her friends for tea and serve it in her best china, the set with the daisies that she bought on her trip to Buenos Aires with George before he lost his leg. Tragedies were opportunities if one were only willing to look at them with enough cockeyed elan. Every setback was an opportunity to move forward if one would just be flexible about the direction one wanted to go. If it weren't for toxic waste, for instance, the words "love canal" might never have been permissible on television.

The teacher was unable to pin it down for certain; perhaps it was something in the obtuse allignment of his desk with those the other students, or maybe it was that his handwriting was too spiky, or possibly it was just the way he dressed, but there was something, something, that she didn't like about little Jimmy Hitler.

Bill looked about him, at the litter of toaster parts, and swizzle sticks and wire and mousetrap-springs, and bits of carpeting sodden with glue, all piled atop the gutted televisions and microwaves, the ravaged moped bleeding its oil, the dissected doorknobs, the bin of charred sugarbeets and the buckets of tar and raisins and -- sad-yet-menacing and nearly forgotten in the corner, like an iconic embodiment of all his unfullfilled dreams and too many frusrtrated nightmares come to terrible fruition and then shuffled ungracefully into a yellow rain slicker -- the defiled Paddington Bear metastisizing in its coccoon of dust-clotted jam and paper mache ... and realized, finally, despairingly, that he had run out of ideas.

One could have timed the bus's progress and used the passage of time as it got nearer and nearer as a barometer for the dread that Dudley felt as he watched it roll slowly, inexorably to the corner, if one had a watch, which he did not.

Though little Susabelle protested that she had meant to hit her brother with the hammer, and that she was pleased that she had done so, Grandmother Pollyanna couldn't help but think there was something melancholic in Susabelle's scampering.

There, on the doorstep, begrimed with mud as if freshly dissinterred from some nameless grave in the dark of night by some devillish, derangement-driven fiend bent on unholy destruction, was a carrot.

His name was Joseph Wales, and he lived on the east side of Clintwood, and, as he had no sense of humor, you might say he was damned.

As more and more hordes of aliens marched directly into the beam of his Ionic-Nukulotron blaster, regardless of the fact were being blown into a zillion pieces of reeking death, Commander Vulkorz realized that his home planet of Altair 7 had been invaded by idiots.

"Mr. Jones is a ruthless man," thought Bob, as he noticed that Jones had callously come to the party anyway, even though mere hours earlier he'd attended the funeral of his wife, Ruth.

Linda yelled "I hate you, I hate you!" at their backs, and James tried to convince himself that maybe she wasn't talking to him, as he left her with his new girlfriend, a sheep.

Once again into the breach, old soldier thought General Patton to himself as he stepped into the gap or rift in a solid structure such as a dike or fortification.