I figured ya'll might be in the mood to watch some YouTube clips by now, because there's nothing on the real TV but this Michael Jackson fella who died. Apparently, he was a singer and dancer in addition to his career as a childfondler. Who knew? "The kid is not my son... he's my date!" It's relentless, and it's grabbing TV time from the more-worthy-of-mourning Farrah Fawcett, who also died (when I heard her asshole had cancer, I assumed they were talking about Ryan O'Neil), and Ed McMahon, too (I believe he was killed in a shoot-out with the cops. That's not true, of course, but I believe that it is, and in the Bible belt belief is all that matters).
So, it's been a sucky week all around. Never was a big fan of Jacko (his talent and impact were undeniable, and he was a tortured soul, but I can't get around that child molestation thing. Which is another reason I hate Ted Nugent, who, with Jacko's passing, assumes the mantle of Most Famous Child Rapist In Rock 'n' Roll). Farrah seemed like a nice lady, though, and did some important things (Burning Bed and Extremities brought a lot of attention to stopping violence against women, and she was a good sport on the William Shatner roast, which is why I think she'd forgive me for that shot at Ryan O'Neil). And who didn't like Ed McMahon? He was so lovable I was always hoping that one day I'd find him standing on my doorstep. Holding a large sum of money from Publisher's Clearing House. I'm hoping that's our three, and Bea Arthur, Lux Interior, and David Carradine make up another three, so we'll get a break from celebrity death for a while. But, if Rush Limbaugh's feeling froggy... Yeah, there's a thrombosis waiting to happen.
When? When did this become the blog of cruelty and heartlessness?
Oh well. In July I'm not gonna be able to write much of anything blog-wise, because I'm gonna be doing that NaNoWriMo thing, where I have to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. And I encourage (beseech! cajole! naaaaaag!) all of you to do the same, because this thing's more fun if there's other people to compare word-counts with, encourage, and trash-talk ("You're only up to 3,500 words? Cunt!"). So far only one other guy at work has agreed to tackle the challenge. So, it's up to you, my friends! You guys write! I've seen you do it! Now is the time to pit yourself against the forces of ennui and lethargy! Write that novel you've always wanted to write... or, at least, a novel you're willing to write just to humor me!
Anyway, not wanting to shirk my commitments to the Mighty B-Hole and it's half-dozen or so readers (seriously, is this thing on? hello?) I planned ahead and typed up several-many pages of movie reviews in advance, which I can parcel out throughout the month of July. I can probably even find time betwixt all the writin'-about-inbred-mountain-cannibals to find some YouTube links for 'em. So the next month should look something like this...
Alabama's Ghost (C, 1973) I was hopelessly confused by this right off the bat. The prologue was so convoluted I couldn't keep track of it even though I rewound it three times -- it's something about a Nazi scientist named Dr. Caligula who goes to India where a magician has developed some super-hashish that can turn anyone who uses it into a broadcasting station that can kill with sound... or something. Then the opening credits (which scroll like end credits... in fact, they may even be the end credits, just really early, because there's nothing when the movie's actually over) play over a corny jazz tune. A black jazzman named Alabama follows an even-more confusing-than-the-prologue warning on a record and finds a trunk loaded with magic paraphernalia left behind by Carter The Great, including some of the magic hashish, known as “Khartoom Khaki” (or possibly “Cartoon Khaki” - I can’t swear to it). Alabama plans a new career as a magician, calling himself “Alabama, King of the Cosmos,” and makes a shaky deal with an old grandma who’s secretly a transvestite vampire. Alabama does his nonsensical magic act (there are seldom any actual tricks) at rock concerts. The director (Frederic Hobbs, who also brought you such cinematic colon-stuffing as the killer-mutant-sheep film Godmonster Of Indian Flats, which was the only killer sheep movie until somebody got enough Jagermeister to greenlight Black Sheep) hated rock music, so he substituted some theatrical version of soul music, similar to the awwwwwwful “You Can’t Fart Around With Love” song from Hobb’s Roseland.
WARNING: if you watch this clip, you're going to feel really stupid and embarrassed to be part of this species.
One of the rock stars reminds me of Dave Vanian from The Damned, though. Alabama’s shows don’t always go well, though, such as a swords-through-the-box-with-the-girl-in-it trick. Alabama is haunted by Carter The Great, who is robed and turbaned and has an exposed heart, and he’s also attacked by vampires, so he seeks help from an overenthusiastic voodoo witch doctor. Alabama recovers, drives around in a wooden car, and plans to make an elephant disappear... but this angers the ghost of Carter the Great again, and vampires work an assembly line of captive girls, and the Nazi mad scientist shows up to perform “the most scientifically efficient contamination in history” by running her “raw zeta” hashish through Alabama and destroy civilization for the benefit of the vampires. She also makes an Alabama robot (or maybe turns him into one -- my attention was wandering by this point) which raises havoc at a Woodstock-like televised concert full of dancing hippies, but then the show’s attacked by bikers and vampires, which Alabama tries to fight off with magic. Make what sense of this you can, because the movie’s sure not going to help you. It’s an incomprehensible blend of World’s Greatest Sinner and Rocky Horror Picture Show, which tries to be a horror film, a comedy, and a blacksploitation film (although Alabama sometimes acts like a throwback (or more of an upchuck) to a character from some 30’s black-people-are-afraid-of-haints stereotype), and it’s very original. It’s fascinating for its weirdness but it’s also boring because of all the padding, and it’s hard to get into because it’s so schizophrenic. Not on DVD legally, but a VHS hosted by Elvira was released a couple of decades ago and some people sell bootlegs of that.
You can watch the whole thing online, if you insist.
Army of One (C, 1993) aka Joshua Tree. One of Dolph Lundgren's best movies isn't something that breaks any new ground in the action genre, but it delivers big time, anyhow. In fact, this may be the perfect cheap action film and the best example of its type. Dolph plays a guy named Santee, who's framed for killing a cop and escapes from jail while another cop is trying to beat him to death. On the run through the desert he picks up a beautiful (and martial-arts skilled) woman who turns out to be a deputy sheriff with a reputation for excessive violence. They engage in plenty of it, as well as loads of car chases (some involving trucks, some involving Ferraris and Lamborghinis -- something for every gearhead's price range), trying to avoid capture, settle some old scores, and clear Dolph's name. It's got typical unbelievable plot twists and Dolph takes ridiculous amounts of punishment (and deals out more than his share in a John Woo-style gunfight in a garage), but it hits on all levels: the pacing is great, Kristian Alfonso is especially yummy eye-candy, the action's very well done, the plot is actually pretty decent, and Dolph's skills are used to their maximum, in that he doesn't have to act much and is mostly kept fighting, at which he's very believable. Holds up to repeated viewings, too. One of the best surprises I ever fished out of Wal-Mart's $5 bin and made me a fan of Dolph's movies (even though few of them get anywhere close to this level).
This is the trailer, but YouTube has the whole movie, too, I think. I'm not sure that's legal, but you won't get arrested for watching it.
Automaton Transfusion (C, 2006) We need to come up with a new term for fast zombies. Most of them aren't really zombies, anyway, because they're not necessarily dead, just infected with some kind of homicidal virus, as in [REC] and the 28 Days Later movies. Well, whenever we decide on a name for these things, you can fill in this blank for me, because this is a _________ movie, shot on high-end video for a very low budget. Some teens on their way to see a really awful band (a music video is included on the DVD so you can enjoy not watching it) end up fighting off herds of enraged flesh-eating _________s, the victims of a genetically-engineered virus developed by the military. They fight back using all kinds of splatter-making weapons -- shotgun, baseball bat, and (of course) a chainsaw (they even make a geeky Evil Dead joke when that's brought out). And that's all the plot, really, since this whole thing's basically a thin excuse to do gore effects which are pretty decent for a movie of this budget level, and they do try to come up with some extremes (even if it gets a little silly). A fetus is torn out of a pregnant girl's belly and eaten, a piece of someone's jaw is ripped off, heads explode, a chainsaw goes through a face, and plenty of limbs get torn off and gnawed during the feeding scenes. The over-the-top nature of the events and self-conscious horror-geek shtick robs this of any real fear level and leaves it overly familiar (comfortable, even, which is death for a horror film), but the cast is likeable and the bloodshed should please those who don't demand much more from movies than gore-spectacle. Beyond that there's not much, but it's competent... up until the end, that is, which is unfuckingforgivable, especially in the unlikely event that you were actually engrossed in this story: they cut away in the middle of an attack with a "To Be Continued" tag, and that's the end of the movie. Too bad, because even though I didn't hate this (until that point, anyway) I have no particular urge to see a sequel. That climactic cheat is enough to move this from "nothing special" to flat-out unrecommended. You just can’t do that shit to your audience and walk away without a kick in the ass.
Baba Yaga (C, 1973) aka Kiss Me Kill Me, Devil Witch, Black Magic. Bizarre pseudo-giallo based on a sadomasochistic comic book called "Valentina" by pop-artist Guido Crepax, and directed by Corrado Farina (not Umberto Lenzi as some low-budget DVDs advertise). A fashion photographer named Valentina is walking home late one night after a party and meets a very strange witch-woman named Baba Yaga (Carroll Baker). Baba Yaga forms an attachment to Valentina, bewitches her camera so that accidents happen to whatever she photographs, and causes her to have weird dreams about Nazis and such. While visiting Baba Yaga, Valentina learns that the witch has a bottomless pit in her parlor floor and she's gifted with a dominatrix doll (named Annette), who sometimes turns into the real thing and stabs Valentina's friend with pins... and they die later. Baba Yaga becomes increasingly domineering and keeps Valentina in a form of psychic slavery, which includes whippings from the dominatrix. Valentina's boyfriend (George Eastman) has to save her, and learns that the whole Baba Yaga situation may be even creepier than it looks. Interesting and atmospheric erotic horror with direction that follows the kinetic style of Crepax's comic book and plenty of lesbian overtones, effectively implied, even though the nudity is rather subdued. The director didn't take the easy way out on portraying either the erotica or the violence, which results in a great deal of stylishness. Unique and unusual.
Bad Influence (C, 1990) James Spader (yesterday’s Toby McGuire) is a stressed-out, mousy financial analyst who’s very successful but is still a doormat for everybody. One day Rob Lowe saves him from a bully in a bar, and they start hanging out. Lowe helps Spader develop somewhat of a spine, but there’s a problem; Lowe is a total sociopath who finds it entertaining to influence Spader, and eventually starts controlling him. He plays a tape of Spader having sex with a bar girl to Spader’s fiance at a party, just to free him up for more manipulation. Then Lowe involves him in armed robbery, just for fun, and also beats up Spader’s jerky co-worker. When Spader gets disturbed by this behavior and tries to get Lowe out of his life, he finds that’s not very easy to do, and Lowe is far more dangerous than he’d suspected. Suspenseful and twisted neo-noirish social-nightmare film, with Lowe making a pretty convincing psychopath; it’s pretty daring of him to make a film where a sex tape figures so prominently, considering the scandal he got in involving the same kind of thing.
Barn of the Naked Dead (C, 1974) aka Terror Circus, Nightmare Circus, Caged Women. Andrew Prine is a demented pervert who brings home female hitchhikers and girls whose cars break down in the desert so he can chain them up in his barn and train them to do tricks in his own private woman-circus. He yells and cracks a whip and makes them run in circles until some of them are almost as crazy as he is. He also has a mountain lion that he sics on them. To make matters worse, his area of the desert is an old nuclear testing ground, and Prine’s dad is a crazed radiation mutant, wandering the desert and murdering passersby (who somehow can’t see him lurking around even though the only cover are clumps of grass less than a foot high), or some of the girls who Prine paints with calf’s blood. The gore’s mild and the nudity’s very brief (and certainly not abundant enough to justify the title), and the whole thing should be silly, but the derangement, sadomasochistic sleaze factor, and some grimness (lotsa people don’t escape) saves it from too much campiness. The filmmaking’s pretty crude, but it does have that 70’s low-budget vibe going for it.
Well, consensus be damned! I have found an alternate theory + I am gonna share it with you now:
Michael was going through all of his plastic surgeries to look more like...
(...and yes, I know that I am an asshole. Whatcha gonna do about it? Wanna fight? I'll meet you behind the gym after school!)
An established pop superstar and self-designated King of Pop, the last years of his life were mired in controversies surrounding his finances, the actual nature of his relationships with his wives + children, and the actual nature of his relationships with a whole bunch of other people's children. Ah... Days of Settlements and Accusations...
Sadly, Jackson never seemed to come to grips with the death of his career in the 1990s, instead flailing madly into a couple of disturbing marriages with some truly skoojy women + dangling his children precariously from balconies... A far fall from duets with Paul McCartney ("Oi... I'll trade you a one-legged woman for my song rights...") and guest solos by Eddie Van Halen ("Valerie Who???")
He is survived by a bunch of fans who seem to have just been thawed from late-1980s cryogenic sleeptanks, his family, and a duofold legacy as established pop icon and suspected pedophile that will elevate + haunt him in the world's consciousness.
(That is, at least 'til the next celebrity dies... The media-driven mourning for Ed McMahon was preempted rather abruptly + poor Farrah Fawcett never even had a chance at the newscycle... and you know that's lame, cuz if you are a straight guy age 35-50, you - or yr older brother - owned this poster!!)
G'n'R-like band The Hangmen
and even the world's worst social experiment, Old Skull, a hardcore punk band made up of 6 year olds.
Yes, let that stand as a testament that the Reagan years were NOT the glorious fairytale land that some would have you believe, if even prepubescents were forming hardcore bands against him.
Now, you might think that Old Skull vid is the greatest vid ever, and you could make a good case for that if you had enough tequila and an audience of the mentally ill, but... no.
No, the greatest, most amazingly-wonderful goddamn video MuchMusic ever showed was a video for a song called "The Apple Strudel Man" by a band called The Jolly Tambourine Man. I used to have this on a videotape (and probably still do since I never throw anything away, but only Satan himself knows where the motherfucker is at this point) and prized it mightily. Igor can probably attest to this, because I know I inflicted this video on him at least once or twice.
I've checked YouTube for it before and came up empty, but maybe I wasn't looking in the right place or something, because, here 'tiz, in all its insane, $24.95 glory, for you to feast your eyes and spend your precious bodily fluids over!
How you can you not worship a band whose lead singer has a lisp and scars that suggest someone tried to carve his mouth wider at some point, who has a perpetually-happy girl who plays the accordion, and whose drummer mindlessly pounds away using celery sticks (even though I believe in reality he's a drum machine), and who can create an atmosphere of menace with a song about an Apple Strudel Man, with lyrics like "My mom didn't club six million seals/ Instead she played mini-golf!"? That these guys didn't do more things is tragic! Tragic, I say!
This is your new secret favorite band! Maybe. And if not, well, at least now you have an excuse if you ever wake up screaming and sobbing.
- 4"x4" posts are actually only 3.5"x3.5"
Same type of thing on all measured boards, posts, etc..., due to cost-cutting policies that yield more lumber per tree by lying about measurements. Which is why that bookshelf project you tried ended up all oversized + freaky-looking + wouldn't fit together properly.
And why carpenters can overcharge and overcharge. They use some fuctup "new math"... and we're not talking about anything I got to study in school.
We covered Euclidean + non-Euclidean geometry, but 4=3.5?
That's some Orwellian geometry, there!
These words of wisdom come from Nelson Algren's 1956 novel A Walk on the Wild Side, which details the hard-ass lives of pimps, drunks, whores and hoboes in Depression-era N'Awlins.
Like a rasslin' match between Jim Thompson and Jack Keroauc with William S. Burroughs in the ring as the referee, Walk... treats the reader to some extremely shady characters and criminals, serving them up with some nice moments of musicality and poetry, and revealing their humanity (or remnants thereof).
Algren's characters are well-developed, displaying layers of humor and humanity that contrast (or stand in doomed defiance against) the bleakness of their situations and surroundings, and his prose is rife with internal rhymes and rhythms, as well as moments of utter hilarity. Ostensibly a road novel, following Dove Linkhorn from home to N'Awlins to home... Of course, there's a bit more to it than that, but that's in the reading... There was a film adaptation as well, but the story is very different than the novel... (Why don't you post us a review, zwolf?)
Fuckin' recommended! (Algren also penned The Man with the Golden Arm, went to jail for five months and had a highly-publicized affair with Simone de Beauvoir back in the day, just so's ya knows...)
The secret to this movie is multiple viewings. The first time you see it, it may even be a disappointment. It was for me, slightly, when I first saw it on tape back in the early 90's, because I was expecting an ultra-gory zombie movie, like Dawn of the Dead or Zombie, and while this is a pretty bloody movie, there's not a lot of intestine-gnawing in it. Something about the movie did stick in my head, though, and the next time I watched it I liked it a lot better.
Nowdays I feel compelled to watch it again every couple of months and collect multiple copies of it (which isn't expensive, since it's public domain and can be had for a buck or two, or even less if you buy one of those 50-movie packs). I'm definitely obsessed with the movie (to the point where anybody who spends any time around me is probably thinking, "Ah, Christ, Z's going to go on and on about that movie again") and think it's been woefully overlooked as one of the major classics in the horror genre. I'm not the only one obsessed with it, either. link (another guy who's definitely obsessed - the film inspired him to "rhapsodize" to the point that he kinda scared himself! I feel ya, bro) link or link. The power of it is, I think it's the closest thing to a nightmare I've ever seen captured on film.
Because of its dreamlike structure it's been misunderstood; Michael Weldon of the Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film (which my friend Rob is now re-creating in blog form - great stuff, check it out here) claimed it was a "confusing, badly edited story," but I think the confusion is mostly intentional and the editing is deliberately bizarre to keep the audience off-balance. The horror here is often absurd, and absurdity can be just as effective a tool for horror as it is for comedy. Fear dissipates with understanding, and this film withholds just enough from you that it enthralls you, but makes you fill in gaps, often with with your imagination's most dreadful things. Dream-logic is used throughout, and I'll explain some of that here.
A brief bit of background on the film: it was made in 1971, written (with Gloria Katz) and directed by Williard Huyck, who also wrote American Graffiti, More American Graffiti, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and did major script-doctoring on Star Wars because George Lucas, the force help 'im, can't write worth a damn. I'm afraid to admit it, but Huyck also directed Howard The Duck. Don't let that put you off. The world is full of bad directors who still had a masterpiece or two in 'em (Sam Raimi, Tobe Hooper, etc.) The film is also known by the titles Dead People and Revenge of the Screaming Dead, and was filmed under the title The Second Coming.
The basic story is this: a young woman named Arletty (Marianna Hill) goes to the "neon stucco" beach town of Point Dune (formerly known as New Bethlehem) to find her father, who's an artist. The letters he'd been sending her grew increasingly bizarre and he finally disappeared. Arletty discovers that the town is being taken over by a cult (or maybe some kind of spiritual disease?) of zombie-like people who stand on the beach and watch the ocean all night, waiting for the return of some "dark messiah." They also kill and eat people, and Arletty fears that she may be becoming one of them. Or perhaps it's all a madwoman's Caligari-esque delusion.
Now, on to specifics.
The dream-logic starts right off the bat with a pre-credit sequence in which a guy is desperately running through the night from some unseen threat. A blank-faced girl (apparently grazed by the Down's Syndrome bullet, if not 10-ringed) watches him from a gate. Then, suddenly she's sitting by a swimming pool on the other side of him (you know how people suddenly change locations in dreams? There ya go). She comforts him as he collapses in exhaustion, then suddenly and dispassionately slices his throat. The whole time a (seemingly) inappropriate love song is playing. Stephen Thrower of the excellent Nightmare USA movie guide lists this as one of the film's weaknesses, but I disagree and think he misunderstands the game the filmmakers are playing with us here. Using a love song as the theme for a horror movie is already throwing the viewer into a "what the fuck am I watching?" delirium. There's something off about the lyrics, too, with a lot of threatening imagery for a song about love.
"I gave my message to the wind, I told my story to the sea
No one else is listening to me
The hidden truth clear in my mind, soon all alone I will not find
Somehow, somewhere, someone may hear me
Hold on to love
Hold on to love
But beware of men who became beasts of prey
How many are they?
Child without a soul, men without a heart
Their one hungry goal to tear your life apart
How many are they, don't try to find out, stay away
They are without shame, this is not a game
From them stay away or you could become one
I gave my message to the wind, I told my story to the sea
Somehow somewhere someone may hear me
Hold on to love
Hold on to love"
Then there's a wonderfully eerie shot of Arletty (seen as a vague backlit shape with just suggestions of emoting visible) wandering down an asylum hallway, emerging from extreme brightness to darkness near the camera. She delivers an unsettling little thorazine-lethargic speech about nightmares (see? They're giving us hints) and how everyone thinks she's crazy. It's even got some absurd laugh-inducing bits (I'm sorry, but a wail about urinating on the floor hits me as hilarious) before walloping you with an unsettling scream.
"They say that nightmares are dreams perverted. I've told them here it wasn't a nightmare, but they don't believe me. They nod, and make little notes in my file, and they watch me now, waiting for me to scar my breasts, to eat insects maybe, or to lift my dress like some crazy old woman and urinate on the floor! But there's so little time left. You've got to listen! Not far from here there's a small town on the coast. They used to call it New Bethlehem but they changed the name to Point Dune after the moon turned blood red. Point Dune doesn't look any different than a thousand other neon-stucco towns, but what happened there, what they did to me, what they're doing now. They're coming here. They're waiting at the edge of the city. They're peering around buildings at night, and they're waiting. They're waiting for YOU. And they'll take you one by one and no one will hear you scream.
NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU SCREEEEAAAAAMMMM!"
Then she narrates (Thrower hates this, too, but I think it's highly effective and not only provides some much-needed gap-filling for the story, but also sets up a helluva mood) as she drives to Point Dune. She stops at a little gas station in the middle of the night, and the attendant is frantically firing a pistol into the darkness. She doesn't drive away, like any normal person would when faced with this situation (nobody reacts to anything appropriately in this nightmare). Then a giant albino black man pulls up for gas. The attendant notices a couple of mutilated corpses in the bed of the pickup, but his reaction to it is limited to hissing to Arletty to get out of there. Then, he goes back to working on cars, until he's attacked, killed, and hung upside down from the car lift. A brilliant shot shows the station lights going out in stages as he screams.
Arletty goes to her father's house, which is like some strange museum; a bed is suspended on chains in the main room, there are paintings of bland people and escalators on the walls, and potted trees everywhere. The colored lighting in these scenes make them look like outtakes from Suspiria. Arletty reads a diary her father scrawled in his sketchbooks, which is filled with worry about his approaching madness and strange things he's seeing ("pale women with sleepless eyes").
At dawn Arletty walks down the beach, past an ocean that looks made of chrome paint. This includes possibly my favorite shot of any movie, ever: she's in the distance in a black robe, walking on a seaweed-strewn beach, and all the rest of the world is obscured by mist. That is the bleakest, doomiest, end-of-the-world-looking frame of film I can think of, and I wish I could do a screen-grab.
Arletty visits the local art gallery looking for any information on her father's whereabouts. The art dealer is a creepy blind, mute woman (that's a blind art dealer, folks, just in case you doubted this film has "absurdity" as an agenda) who communicates by tapping her fingers on her associate's palm. How she's able to convey complicated concepts like her father's name through a few finger taps is unknown and surreal.
Arletty's sent to a motel room where a wild-eyed drunk (Elisha Cook Jr.) is telling a story ("Mama delivered me herself, she took me from between her legs, a bloody little mess, just about to feed me to the chickens when Daddy said 'Maybe we could use a boy, Lottie.' That's how I came into the world."). A fancy-looking guy named Thom (with two pretty girls traveling with him) has paid him for folklore, and Cook describes past days of a red moon, with people losing religion, bleeding out of control, and children eating raw meat. Later he pulls Arletty under some stairs (where it looks like night even though it's noon everywhere else), says "I'm an ugly old man but I'm harmless!" and tells her that she needs to kill her father and burn his body. Cook is later found dead and half-eaten.
Thom and the girls move into Arletty's house uninvited, and she lets them stay, even though the girls act infuriatingly smug. Thom (played by Michael Greer, who was cast against type as a playboy, since he was well-known to be gay) wants to talk to Arletty's father about the blood moon, and tries to seduce Arletty.
One of Thom's girlfriends (knockout Anitra Ford, who was a Price Is Right model) decides she's had enough of Thom's bullshit and splits, catching a ride with our giant albino black friend,. The bed of his truck is full of dead people, but he has to eat a live beach-rat before the jaded Anitra's freaked out enough to get out of the truck. Soon after she's attacked by zombies in a nearly-deserted supermarket (everybody was at eating raw meat out of the butcher bin). This is a classically-creepy scene, with these bland-looking citizens (they look like accountants and such) chasing her through the aisles. The bright lighting and muzak add to the weirdness. If you think fast zombies started with 28 Days Later, check out these stampeding undead conservatives!
Arletty's father is then found dead on the beach under a weird sculpture he was building, but only his hand is exposed under the rubble. That's still enough for Arletty to recognize it's not her father, and there's some conspiracy going on. Arletty's soon noticing signs of encroaching zombism in herself, too; she burns her hand and doesn't feel it, she digs at her leg with a pin and feels nothing, she weeps blood and vomits bugs, lizards, and worms.
Thom's other girlfriend (played by Joy Bang -- now there's a punk rock screen-name for ya) also gets fed up and decides to go to the movies, and we get another classic scare scene that'll stack up to anything in the genre, and was likely an inspiration for Lamberto Bava's Demons. She goes to see Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (ha ha, they make funny!) but instead a Sammy Davis Jr. movie, Gone With The West, comes on. This is a real movie (but came out several years after Messiah of Evil) but what they've done to it here is crazy, and adds to the absurdity. The movie is edited hapazardly, leaving nothing but crazed nonsense. The soundtrack usually isn't appropriate to what's on the screen, either, and jumps around abruptly, like it was pasted together by a meth-amped schizophrenic. As she's watching this insanity, the nearly-empty theater fills up with zombie-folk (it's reminiscent of The Birds) and when she notices people around her bleeding and tries to leave, she finds the doors locked, and she's alone with a crowd of people who want to eat her alive. Goddamn brilliant. (My favorite bit of it is the guy down front who's turned around and staring at her just before the lights go down).
Thom wanders the empty night streets, looking for Joy but finding zombies instead. A crowd of them battle with cops and he barely escapes.
Arletty's father (Royal Dano) comes home, crazy as hell, telling stories about a preacher who survived the Donner Party, came up with a "new religion" fit for a tired, disillusioned world that's looking to old gods. In flashbacks we see this preacher, and he appears to be Thom. The film may have planned to expand on that, but doesn't, leaving it unexplained and weird. Her father paints himself blue and splashes paint all over. Arletty ends up having to kill him and set him on fire.
Thom returns and shadowy zombies are pressing themselves against the skylights and glass of the house. They attack, and Thom and Arletty fight them off and try to escape in the ocean. But she ends up in an asylum and they assume her tale is all an insane delusion. Is it? Or are we ignoring a warning if we're so quick to dismiss it?
She ends it saying, "We sit in the sun and wait. We sleep. And we dream. Each of us dying slowly in the prison of our minds."
Her first lines mention dreaming, as do her last. So I think that "confusion" and "bad editing" that was bothering some people? All intentional, kids. And damn if it doesn't work, too.
The film is very Lovecraftian, without ever actually mentioning anything Cthonian beyond a god emerging from the sea. Point Dune might as well be a sister city to Innsmouth, and the atmosphere of it is extremely evocative of little "neon-stucco" beach towns. I've been in a few, and they're creepy. Pensacola Beach, Florida, in the early 70's was a very strange, Point Dune-ian place, with boxy little stucco houses painted all kinds of horrible colors (pink, lime-sherbet green, etc.). And I was once in some town in Florida that was as deserted as Point Dune seems to be. It was on the way back from a trip to Disneyworld, I think, and I don't know the name of the town but I remember my parents and their friends trying to get something to eat there and not being able to find anyone in any of the stores, restaurants, or anywhere. It was highly creepy, and Point Dune reminds me of that place.
The zombies here may not really be zombies. I don't know if they're "dead," or if they're cultists. I do know that they're not all willing, because some people who are running from them get dismayed to notice the "zombie symptoms" appearing in themselves (such as the woman who begs Thom for help but he can only say "Your eye. I'm very sorry." because she's already weeping blood). This isn't a gory movie, really, but it has atmosphere to burn.
The film has fallen into the public domain. All the DVDs of the film seem to come from the same VHS source, full-screen and kind of grainy. Supposedly CodeRed is working on a top-quality DVD release of this, and I'd greatly appreciate that (hell, I'll probably buy more than one copy), but I'm not sure when. Until then, your options are limited to variations of the same thing, all of approximately the same quality. None will set you back more than a few bucks, though. I think maybe the best transfer is on the Chilling Classics 50 movie pack from Mill Creek (click on the picture of the box and it'll give you a list of all the movies in the set, with clickable descriptions and even clips for a lot of 'em), which is also the best deal since you get 49 other movies in the bargain, some of which are also pretty great (such as Silent Night Bloody Night, which I'm also obsessed with). Usually that's cheapest on DeepDiscount.com, but sometimes Amazon undercuts them, so shop around. The next-best quality-wise would probably be the St. Clair "Living Dead" box set, followed by the Diamond Entertainment double feature (with Devil's Nightmare, also a great film), and the Alpha double (with Sisters of Death). Brentwood used to have copies on some of their 10 movie packs, but those were sometimes defective. They're all pretty close to each other in quality, though, since they're struck from the same source. so go with whichever you can find. But, by all means, pick this one up.
Join the cult.
Then, you would get all the ass.
It's true: there are women out there who will sleep with you if you let them know you read a lot of books. And then pay them fifty dollars.
Anyway, this method can also be applied to "how to become a millionaire in one day." First, save up $999,999.50 from your chosen career. (If your career pays as well as mine, this should only take you around 50 years or so, if you never eat, pay bills, or buy anything).
Then, return some pop bottles. Ba-dang! You're a millionaire, gangsta. Go get dat ass!
Anyway, on to the three books in question. I'll save the best for last.
The Sociopath Next Door - Martha Stout, Ph.D. Broadway, 2005
Interesting psychology book about the 4% of the population who were born without a conscience examines how they think and operate, how to recognize and deal with them (avoid them whenever possible, basically), and the problems -- sometimes dangers -- they present. It's an easy-to-follow book full of recognizable examples, and explores the effect of such individuals on society. Stout is at her best when she keeps her desires to be a poet in check, and that's why you're advised to skip the last chapter, which is mostly an opinion piece where she injects an unwelcome (and dishonest) attempt to tie conscience and morality to spirituality and religion. Up to that point, however, it's an interesting study. I read it because I suspect a person or two at work. It's interesting to know that one in 25 people are sociopaths. So, if you ever find yourself in a room with 24 other people and they're all nice and well adjusted... you're it!
The Terror - Dan Simmons, Little-Brown, 2007.
950-page daisycutter of a novel combines a detailed historical saga of the 1845 Franklin Expedition to find the Northwest Passage with giant-carnivorous-beastie horror. Sailing into the northern seas (where it's so crazy cold that you'll lose a hand if you take off your mitten for five seconds), two sailing ships, the HMS Terror and the HMS Erebus, get icebound for a couple of years when summer thaws don't happen the way they're supposed to. Eventually the coal supplies burn out, and much of their lowest-bidder-supplied rations go toxic, but they're also being stalked and killed by a monster that's like a giant polar bear. With the ships being crushed by the ice, the threat of mutiny, the extreme cold, the amputations due to frostbite, the food poisoning, the starvation, the scurvy (which is a particularly horrible disease, if you've never looked into it), and the cannibalism, the whole monster thing becomes really unnecessary and would hardly be missed if it were taken out; in fact, the silly spiritual-symbol nature of it eventually becomes obtrusive in an otherwise-very-realistic story. But it's still not a bad monster overall, and the story's powerful enough to handle a bit of compromising. Even though this is a long read and remains set in a desolate landscape all the way through, it's still gripping and intense, pervaded by a menacing aura of doom. A 950 page book isn't just a read, it's a commitment; no one-night stand here, you're going to have a relationship with this thing for a while, but in this case it's worth it.
White Line Fever: The Autobiography - Lemmy Kilmister with Janiss Garza, Citadel Press, 2002.
Some say the Bible is the word of God. Ha! Then how do you explain this? Motorhead is my all-time favorite band and the ne plus ultra of musical perfection (not necessarily musicianship-wise, but just as a unit that gels into a whole solid lump of noisy protoplasm). And this is the autobiography of the guy who basically is Motorhead. Lemmy recounts (in inimitable and funny-as-hell Lemmy style) what he remembers about all the bands he's been in, which go back to the dinosaurs. He roadied for Jimi Hendrix, he saw the Beatles live when they were first getting started (he said they used to tell a lot of jokes and eat cheese rolls during the show), and he was in a ton of bands, from a weird bunch of musical terrorists called The Rockin' Vicars to drugfreaks Hawkwind. The style of this book is loose and conversational, with frequent (and always interesting) tangents, and covers everything from his birth (on Christmas Eve of 1945, five months premature) up to Motorhead's Hammered album The only flaw in it is that it'll leave you wanting more, so hopefully Lemmy will find some time between his endless Motorhead tours to write a sequel. Or two. I'm sure he could fill volumes with all the stories he's got. This is a fast, un-put-downable read with never a dull moment, just like his albums. Even if you're not a Motorhead freak this is a funny and engaging book. A few things I learned from this:
- The Rolling Stones were a bunch of mommy's-boy college students who cultivated a tough-guy image, but the seemingly-innocent Beatles were actually hardasses. Once while Lemmy was watching them, somebody in the audience called John Lennon a queer, and he jumped off the stage, smashed the guy's face so bad that he was spitting teeth, then got back on stage, said "Anybody else? No? Alright then, here's 'Some Other Guy.'" John Lennon viciously kicked a guy's ass! Mr. Peace-Boy! Whodathunk?
- Lemmy didn't fit in with Hawkwind very well because he was a speedfreak and they were all into pot and LSD. The only other speedfreak in the band was a guy named Dikmik, who played a ring modulator; all he really did was control sonic waves that would either make audience members go into convulsions, or shit their pants. To aid in this, the members of Hawkwind used to sneak around and spike the audience's food with LSD. Which is uncool as fucking hell if you ask me, but it does make for a good story. Lemmy notes that when he left Hawkwind, he "took the cojones with him."
- Lemmy has abused drugs and alcohol to such an extent that he no longer has human blood. Around 1980 he decided to clean up by having a total transfusion, the way Keith Richards supposedly did. But after the preliminary blood tests, the doctor told him that pure blood would kill him, because his blood is no longer human. He also can't donate blood, because his blood would kill anyone else. Again, doing this to yourself is ignorant to my way of thinking, but, eh, it's Lemmy!
- The only drug Lemmy would not mess around with was heroin, which he hates because it's killed so many of his friends, including his best-ever girlfriend. Since Lemmy's a history buff who collects Nazi memorabilia, some people have mistaken him for a racist, but the number one love of his life (to whom the book is dedicated posthumously) was a black girl who died of a heroin O.D. Once, while they were in the midst of a breakup, she had sex with Mick Jagger. Lemmy asked her what that was like, and she said, “Well, he was okay, but he’s no Mick Jagger,” which Lemmy thought was perfect. :)
- Lemmy did O.D. once during his Hawkwind days, when he ate about 50 downers to avoid being busted by some cops. He ended up laying on the floor with his eyes open, unable to move or tell his screaming friends that he wasn’t actually dead.
- Lemmy once tried to give Sid Vicious some bass lessons, but after a few attempts had to tell Sid that it was impossible. Sid later showed up in the Sex Pistols, even though he still couldn’t play. The bass player from The Jam once stabbed Sid in the face with a broken glass, too, and Lemmy had to check to make sure Sid wasn't dead.
- Philthy Animal Taylor and Fast Eddie Clarke used to regularly get in fist-fights with each other. And Phil was apparently notoriously clumsy and frequently had near-fatal mishaps, such as walking off the edge of the stage and stuff.
- Lemmy almost lost an arm once due to infection from some stupid fan who threw a razor blade (stuck between a couple of coins to give it weight) at him. His whole arm turned black.
- Lemmy used to have a gay roomate (he's not a homophobe, either) who was murdered by some hate-crime creeps while Lemmy was on tour. They stabbed him over 50 times, stuck a knife of his ass and pulled it to the front, cut his dick off and stuck in up his ass, and set the place on fire, and the guy still almost crawled out.
- Lemmy’s biggest money-making venture was when Sharon Osbourne hired him to write some songs for Ozzy’s No More Tears album. Lemmy wrote “Desire,” “I Don’t Want To Change The World,” “Hellraiser,” and “Mama I’m Coming Home” and made more money in Ozzy royalties than he had for the previous 15 years in Motorhead.
A few random quoted passages:
“I’ve been known as Lemmy since I was around ten. I didn’t always have the moustache... I’ve only had that since I was eleven.”
“I mean, you teach people that the Messiah was the offspring of a vagabond’s wife (who is a virgin) and a ghost? And this is the basis for a worldwide religion? I’m not so sure. I figured if Joseph believed that one, he deserved to sleep in stables.”
“I lost my father a couple of years ago -- rather careless of me, don’t you think?”
“My stepfather used to come in and catch me going at it [with my girlfriend]. He caught me so many times, it was fucking silly; I think he was a voyeur.
‘Do you know you’re on top of that girl?’ he’d shout.
‘Yes, I know I’m on top of the bloody girl!’ I’d say. ‘How do you do it?’”
“That was a great time, the summer of ‘71 -- I can’t remember it, but I’ll never forget it!”
“I was walking around with a TV under my arm, talking to it. Somebody else was trying to feed the trees outside his window. It was really interesting for a while, actually.”
“Eventually the doctor showed up. ‘If we’d got to you in another hour, you would have been dead.’
I was thinking, ‘I bet you’re sorry, you miserable bugger.’”
“Hawkwind wasn’t one of those hippie-drippy, peace-and-love outfits -- we were a black nightmare!”
“I’d like to mention that I’m available for more songwriting if anybody is interested. Quite reasonable -- just the mortgage on your first-born child!”
“You’re supposed to laugh in life. Laughing exercises all the facial muscles and keeps you from getting old. Looking stern gives you terrible wrinkles. I also advise drinking heavily -- it helps the sense of humor! Smoking pot helps the sense of humor to no end, but after a while you lose it altogether and all you can do is talk about the cosmos and shit, which is really boring.”
“To be honest, although ‘Ace of Spades’ is a good song, I’m sick to death of it now. Two decades on, whenever people think of Motorhead, they think ‘Ace of Spades.’ We didn’t become fossilized after that record, you know. We’ve had quite a few good releases since then. But the fans want to hear it so we still play it every night. For myself, I’ve had enough of that song.”
“I still like talking to fans today... except for the occasional drunk fucker who insists on singing ‘Ace of Spades’ in my ear nonstop! We have made a few albums since the Ace of Spades days, after all -- if he’s drunk and starts singing something from one of our last couple of records, I might not mind so much!”
“I don’t like walking off stage, but I will not be fucking spat on! Incidentally, one of the reasons I won’t put up with it is this: Joe Strummer of the Clash was singing once and one of these dickheads spat right down his throat! Not only was it nauseating, boys and girls, no -- wait -- he got hepatitis! Nice, huh? Not me, sweetheart!”
“The only time I’ve seen any rebellion was in the fifties, sixties and early seventies. The rest of it you can keep. The kids now have attitudes more like the parents we were all trying to fight! They’ll probably raise a bunch of fucking freaks. We raised a bunch of estate agents, a bunch of fucking accountants. God knows how we did it. I guess it’s because most people give up. As I pointed out earlier, a lot of people say, ‘I used to listen to Motorhead,’ implying that when you grow up, you can’t. Well, I’m glad they say that, man, ‘cause I don’t want no grown-ups listening to me. Grown-ups are the ones who fuck everything up. Since I was about twenty-five, nothing changed, except I got smarter and wiser and things have an effect on you. But I never thought I was any older, really. It was just a very long twenty-five.”
“In my life so far, I have discovered that there are really only two kinds of people: those who are for you, and those who are against you. Learn to recognize them, for they are often and easily mistaken for each other.”
“Inherited hatred (i. e. hatred your parents schooled you in) is not only stupid, it is destructive -- why make your only driving force hate? Seems really fucking dumb to me.”
And now, so none of you will be one of those people who only sings "Ace of Spades" if you happen to bump into Lemmy, as a public service (okay, overindulgence) I'm gonna stick in a shizzleload of various Motorhead video bits I poisonally selected for ya. Some people think all their songs sound alike, but I can identify almost any one of 'em just by hearing the first thirty seconds, and know the lyrics to around half of 'em.
That's probably why my lawn is dying, as prophesied.
A general public service announcement from Motorhead:
Remember a while back when we were making lists of scary songs? Check out this poem-thing Lemmy did. At around the one minute mark this becomes the scariest goddamn thing you ever heard:
This is an audio-only vid of Motorhead covering Metallica's "Whiplash," and this is the most crushingly monster-badass thing I've heard in quite some time. Instead of going with guitar, Lemmy makes his downtuned Rickenbacker the forefront instrument and plays it fast as hell, and it makes that song even more of a sonic annihilation.
Live "Don't Need Religion" from Iron Fist (one of the songs that convinced me I wasn't the only sane person in the world back in high school):
Newer-school song you could sing to Lemmy to make him happy, with a bit of social consciousness there.
Some mid-paced stuff just to prove they're unsafe at any speed:
One of my faves... I love the bass that opens this song, it sounds like a shot-up airplane going down, somehow. Just dirty-nasty rumble. And the lyrics get more brilliant the more you contemplate them.
And apparently there's gonna be a Lemmy bio movie out sometime in the next year or so. Me am happy! Shouldn't you have "49% MOTHERFUCKER, 51% SON OF A BITCH" written on something you own? I'm lookin' for a bumpersticker!
Freaky-ass creepy song Lemmy did in the early 70's for Sam Gopal's group:
Lemmy does Chuck Berry on Letterman:
And now this last thing has nothing to do with Motorhead, but it's the funniest thing I've seen on YouTube lately. It's kinda sad that people are bullying this poor kid (he is a homophobe, which sucks, but he also appears to be about 11, so cut him a break), but his performance here is classically hilarious...
Also look for his version of Samuel L. Jackson's Bible quote from Pulp Fiction. Oi.
Carradine is, of course, famous for his role as traveling Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine in the 1970's television series Kung Fu, and as Bill from Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill films.
He was 72. And you owe it to his cold, dead body to watch the 1978 quasi-mystical quest flick Circle of Iron, in which he plays the role(s) originally intended for Bruce Lee. And a flute, sorta...
Go now! Hurry! I'll wait for you here 'til you get back...
Due to the less-than-miracle of bad writing,
Salem found herself in a cheap, crappy bar from the
40's. It had to have been somewhere close to three
a.m., because nobody was left but a few hardcore
barflies who either couldn't find the door or were
waiting for morning, when the county jail would be
open for business. Slowly drifting layers of cigarette
smoke hung in the air like hope's funeral shroud, and
Salem was annoyed to be thrust into a place like this,
especially after she'd just washed her hair. She was a
fictional character, it was like being a cartoon, she
could literally be anywhere, doing anything, and yet
her idiot creator had dumped her here, where
everything was grainy black and white and the ghost of
David Goodis was wrestling with the ghost of Jim
Thompson to see who had to buy the next round of major
bummer. The bar was rough under her elbows, deeply
gouged with the whiskey-dyed initials of a thousand
different guys, losers all, desperately trying to use
their keys, pocketknives, or broken shot glasses to
leave a mark on the world in the only way they ever
would. This was the wrong place to be if you were an
eye-popping, soul-totaling superfox. And, to top it
off, she could tell that the little nebbish a few feet
down the bar was trying to work up the nerve to speak
And, damn him, he finally got brave enough.
"Hiya, b...baby," he stammered, then flinched. "Need
She cut her almond-shaped eyes at him,
wondered if Peter Lorre had ever gotten busy with Ruth
Buzzi on a particularly fruitful night, and then
stared at the mirror behind the bar. "All the company
I need is right over there," she said, waggling her
fingers at her reflection.
"Um... wanna go back to my place or something?
I've got a book of riddles back there."
"No thanks," Salem said.
"Knock knock jokes, too," he said hopefully.
"They're real funny. I bought it at the candy store
one time when I had some extra change. Girls like 'em.
It said so on the back."
"I'm sure they're a laugh riot," she sighed.
"Why don't you go back there and read yourself a few
until you giggle your damned ass off?"
"Cheee..." the guy said, disappointedly. He
sat there a minute and then, apparently, content by
the mere fact that he'd spoken to the goddess and not
been killed, decided to keep going. He looked her up
and down, taking in the long, straight black hair, the
black leather vest laced around her bare torso, the
short black leather gloves, the bulletbelt, the black
spandex pants, the boots laced to her knees, and came
to a conclusion. "You're dressed fancy. You some kinda
She looked coldly at him. "I wish. I wish I
was Wolverine." She held her fist up, flexed her arm,
said "Snikt!" and swiped imaginary claws at him,
"I wish I was a superhero," he said.
"Sometimes I read funnybooks and pretend I'm the guy
in there, fighting crime, like I'm Batman or Superman.
Not Aquaman, though. He's pretty weak. I mean, he can
talk to fish. Big deal."
"He talks to fish, and I talk to doorknobs.
Hooray," Salem sighed to the pretty girl in the
mirror. "When did it happen? When was I bitten by a
"Sometimes," the guy said, with a tone of
just-you-and-me conspiracy in his voice, "I safety-pin
a towel around my neck and go out and... well, I don't
really fight crime, but I take note of it."
"So you're a superhero?" Salem said, favoring
him with another glance.
"Yes. I'm Towel Man."
"Towel Maaaaaaan..." he sang quietly to
himself, drumming on the edge of the bar.
"Who's a girl gotta kill around here to get
some kryptonite... or samsonite, or whatever works?"
"Brussel sprouts," the man said gravely.
"Towel Man can't handle brussel sprouts."
Okay, here's the prophecy part. I wrote this:
"Sometimes," the guy said, with a tone of
just-you-and-me conspiracy in his voice, "I safety-pin
a towel around my neck and go out and... well, I don't
really fight crime, but I take note of it."
And now in the news today I find this article, in which a supposed "real-life superhero" says the following:
"Vigilantism is never a good thing," said Bernard Gonzales, public information officer for the Chula Vista, California, Police Department. He's had some interactions with real-life superheroes. "The very best thing a private citizen can do is be a good witness."
Mr. Ravenblade said he's just that.
"If you're a real-life superhero you follow the law. If you catch somebody you can't just tie them up and leave them for the cops, that's for the comics. You have to wait for the cops and give them a statement," Mr. Ravenblade said.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you... Towel Maaaaaaaaan!
Which makes me Prophecy Man, I guess, since I predicted it. I gotta find me a towel.
Evildoers, beware! I shall take note of the people who may, in the future, be taking note of you! Tah-daaaaah! *bonk!* *thud!*