Toad Road – No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white

I have been trying to watch a backlog of movies lately.  Movies that I had really meant to watch.

As opposed to movies that I put in a queue.  Or those currently sitting on my DVR that I have no desire to watch.  Movies that provoke deep soul searching about why I would ever have taken note of them even while I am desperately searching for something to watch.

Toad Road falls into none of those categories.  It is something I saw mentioned in passing over at Dreadit.  I thought I hadn’t paid attention.  The title did nothing for me, giving me images of a poor attempt to emulate Frogs.  There was no other information in the post and I didn’t pursue it further.

However, I did see it listed on Netflix while I was studiously ignoring my queue and flitting through the rest of Netflix on the TV.  Putting things in queue and flipping through movies seems to be what I do most with Netflix.  I hear it is also used to watch stuff.  Rumors, huh?

The cover image intrigued me.  At least more intriguing than whatever I had been looking at previously, a long list of shitty films about demons and zombies and zombie demons.  The description did nothing for me, but it did mention hell and that was what I was looking for, though I wasn’t aware of that before I powered up the TV.

Disaffected James and town newcomer Sara decide to go to Toad Road — and risk whatever may happen as they pass seven gates that lead toward hell.

I assumed the movie wasn’t going to be about shape-shifting toads in a nuclear waste-contaminated forest.  With only that to go on, I fired up Toad Road.

It wasn’t what I expected.

It started out as I may have expected.  This could be due to my having watching a series of really sub par independent horror films in the last couple days.  My view was definitely tainted.

It seemed a badly filmed movie with no substance other than a bunch of asshole younger folk getting blasted on various drugs.  The very first sentence annoyed me.  It hung there for a few moments by itself.

Flaccid penis showed up within the first five minutes, followed quickly by ass hair lighting.  Drugs and booze and nothing of interest.  Nothing unusual, really.

It dragged.  I got annoyed with these people.  I wondered what the fucking point was.

That was the point.  That was the atmosphere the film intended to create.  The very real fucked up ennui that this type of young person falls into.  Friends due to proximity and the false camaraderie of a good buzz as much as any real connection.  The drab coloring and low light in the beginning was a reflection of what I’ve seen every day for months now — cold.

It was gritty and real.  Almost too real.  The slow roll sucked me in and I didn’t see it coming.  The sudden awareness of arriving somewhere without realizing it is important to the sense of the film.

By the time the female lead, Sara, started to fall down the rabbit hole of drugs, I was hooked as well.  She had been the bit of purity in the beginning.  Her fall was harsh.  We could all see it coming, including her male love interest.  None of us could or would stop it.

The camera work here is good.  The angles are tilted and a bit dreamy.  This is the entrancing side of drug use, when everything seems a bit livelier and the darkness is still hanging back.

There is a moment exhibiting how Sara is caught in between.  The little devil on her shoulder won out.  In the same scene where Sara notes that it is a nice day and probably a good day for a mushroom experience, the group heads into the darkened, graffitied caves for their experience.

Sara’s first trip interrupts her attempt to go back into the light.  In that few moments, her world shatters.  For the rest of the movie, we watch it tumble in pieces to the ground.  In her mind, Sara is seeking something more, something special and deep.

Sara is abusing substances in an attempt to pull back a curtain.  James is coming to realize that there is nothing behind that curtain but yourself, and there is only one road to escape yourself.

Much of James’ early exposition is an explanation of just what it’s like to wake up one day and realize you’re fucked up and in a ditch you can’t climb out of.  Sara is not really listening.  I heard him explain what the Toad Road really was and I started to see this film in a new way.

All of these characters are lost.  Some don’t care, some don’t know.  Our two leads know they are and seek opposite paths toward salvation.

The nagging feeling in my mind that there shouldn’t be seven gates to hell is resolved as I watch Sara and James and see that I am watching the story of addiction as played out in those seven gates, as explained by Sara.

  1. A feeling of being watched.
  2. Hearing things.
  3. Seeing things.
  4. You pass out.
  5. Time is warped and you lose your mental grip on reality.
  6. It takes over you.  Your veins boil.  You must leave your old self.
  7. Nothingness. Black void. The ultimate solitude.

According to the legend of the Seven Gates of Hell that Sara recounts, nobody has been beyond the fifth gate.  Sara wants to see it through to the end.

With some LSD as their guide, Sara and James head into the woods.

James comes back six months later, alone.  He has no idea where Sara is or what happened.

We, the viewers know.  The story of addiction was played out.  One of them emerged and one of them didn’t.  The movie doesn’t necessarily resolve this for you and some reviewers called the movie unsatisfying and aimless.

If you recognize the horror theme for what it is, this sense of aimlessness, and even a lack of satisfaction, is as it should be.  Of course James is guilty, but not for anything so simple as a slasher flick death.  He is guilty of taking her hand and leading her down the path to ruin.  He also knows that he is merely circumstantially guilty as just another thing Sara used in her search.  Sara’s nature brought her to this end.  This is reality horror and the tone and sense of it was captured beautifully.

The final dedication at the end of the movie brings it home in a surreal way.

DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF SARA ANNE JONES.

[That last link is worth a look into the brief story of Sara Anne Jones.  

To wrap up, I like this song better than the video Sara Anne Jones appeared in, Death Cab's "Stay Young, Go Dancing"]

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We’re gonna need a bigger dam

You may have thought you’d had enough of zombies.

You obviously weren’t aware of the zombie beavers.

You heard me.

ZOMBEAVERS!

Who isn’t exited for beavers?

From the producers of CABIN FEVER, THE RING, WE’RE THE MILLERS, and AMERICAN PIE.

Three college girls go on a care-free vacation of drinking games, topless sunbathing, and sexual exploration. Their frolicking fun comes to an abrupt end when toxic zombie beavers try to EAT THEM.

Don’t miss this trailer.  That’s exactly what the beavers would want.

 

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A surreal PORTRAIT

PORTRAIT is an interesting and trippy video short.

This is how I felt out in the snow at 5AM this morning.

PORTRAIT.

A slow and surreal video|slideshow of nightmarish, grotesque and apparently static characters.

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Red vs Dead, in which Nazi zombies make a comeback

You may recall a little something called Dead Snow.

There were Nazi zombies, snow, treasure and some daft fools looking to relax in a cabin in the middle of nowhere.  Hilarity and loss of limbs ensues.

Now there is Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead!

This time with Martin Starr.  How can that go wrong?

And with a February 14th release day.  I heart that.

Cursed zombies.  Nothing good can come of that.  Other than me laughing, of course.

Oberst Herzog wouldn’t let us down.

The YouTube details:

THE PLOT:
If the worst day of your life consisted of accidentally killing your girlfriend with an axe, chain-sawing your own arm off, and watching in horror as your closest friends were devoured by a zombified Nazi battalion, you’d have to assume that things couldn’t get much worse. In Martin’s case, that was only the beginning.

Picking up immediately where the original left off, Dead Snow; Red vs. Dead wastes no time getting right to the gore-filled action, leaving a bloody trail of intestines in its wake. Director Tommy Wirkola returns to the helm with a vengeance, coming up with more inventive ways to maim and dismember than you ever thought possible. Combining wry humor with horrific worst-case scenarios, this follow-up to the 2009 Park City at Midnight classic is sure to shock the weak-of-heart and delight even the most hard-core fans of the horror genre. Colonel Herzog is back, and he is not to be f__ked with.

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He’s just a Poe boy from a Poe family

Edgar Allan Poe was born January 19, 1809.  He wrote some stuff.  Then he left.

Here’s the quick and dirty version:

He’s got a VLOG too.  Who’d of thunk it?  That Poe really gets around.

I kind of like this reading of The Black Cat, one of Poe’s short stories.  Give it a listen if you have some time.  Or just go read the story.

Eddie was so dramatic, wasn’t he?  Such a dark heart, weighed down by heavy thoughts.

Play him off, keyboard cat…

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If it’s not a polar vortex, it’s an Internet black hole

It started so innocently.  It always does.

A click here, a click there.  Soon you are drawn down a dark, bottomless (or even topless) pit of Interzone Insanity.

I wanted to find out where this picture came from.

I did the typical leg work.  It was not straightforward.  What is?

Unintentional humor, that’s what.

After some mostly serious searching, I had to go back and really investigate the visually similar images provided by Google’s image search.  Surely this would nail it down for me, no?

No.

No regrets.  I just took a breath, straightened my tie and got down to business.

This seemed the most relevant result.

I’m pretty sure that cat was trapped in the avalanche too.  He has the look of someone that’s been peed on by a drunken Slovak.

The cat’s thousand mile stare is a dead giveaway.  He’s seen some shit, man.

Thank goodness a little old lady from Poprad managed to knit the poor feline a cap and give it a warm bath to soak his fetid, urine-soaked fur.  Sadly, the emotional scars will likely linger.

I don’t know why I am now reading about the tale of a drunken Slovak man pissing his way to freedom from a snow-covered Audi, but here I sit.

Get in the house, Kral!

What dark corner of virtuality will I end up in an hour from now?  I may have a hard time finding the way back.  Light a candle for me.

If you got all the way down here looking for a real source for the picture, the best I can give you (based on the watermark) is this tumblr.

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There and Back Again

I was there.  Now I’m back.

I watched that second Hobbit movie while I was out of town.  It was visually appealing.  It was also just a bit unsatisfying in the end.  And long.

I’m still waiting for my hero, Smaug, the One True King Under the Mountain, to get busy.

Oh well.  Better luck next time, buddy!  They can’t stop you from desolating forever.

That’s all I’m going to say about that.

How about some uplifting pictures from an airplane seat?

Too bad, you’re getting them anyway.

Da Bears level is an appropriate winter parking zone.

Hello, Raleigh!

Herons – Best corn nut ice cream around.

Home in time for the Polar Vortex! Hooray!

Home, sweet home.

It almost looks purty down there.

On closer inspection, it looks more like a frozen wasteland.

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Good night, Long Night Moon

The last full moon and the smallest full moon of the year, the Long Night Moon, passed over the horizon this morning.  So named for being the closest full moon to the December solstice.

If you missed it, there’s still reason to keep your eye on the sky.  The Quadrantid meteor shower is due at the beginning of January; best viewed before dawn on January 3rd for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.  You know New Year’s Eve was a filthy mess when you aren’t hitting your 2014 shower peak for three days.

The peak is supposed to be 2PM U.S. Central Time on January 3rd and the peak doesn’t last but a few hours.  This won’t be optimal for Northern Hemisphere viewers, but the good news is the waxing crescent moon will set in the early evening and the sky should be dark.

Look for the radiant below the Big Dipper.

Here’s a few shots I took of the Long Night Moon in the very early morning.  The moon was still hanging tough against the looming sunrise.

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Nanowrimo post-game recap

November is Nanowrimo month for me.  Any excuse to buckle down and force myself to write a bunch is a good excuse (I’m lookin’ at you too, Camp Nano!)

This November, I was more prepared than I have ever been.  I’m not a panster.  I am somewhere in-between seat of the pants and organized down to the finest detail.  I like an outline and I like to research relevant (and some not so) information.

I had been researching this story for a while.  I had a very clear idea of where it would go.  I even had a timeline done in Aeon Timeline.

And I was totally unprepared.  I was like a first-time camper that wandered into the sporting goods store and bought a ton of gear without a clue what I was getting myself into.

I should know better.  I can’t seem to help myself.  If I can make it more challenging on myself, I will.

I blasted out of the gates with my word count tracking on target…for about three days.  Then I got bogged down in researching all sorts of archaic nonsense.  I didn’t need to.  It wouldn’t matter for the Nano process and I knew that.  I even had my “five clicks rule” in my mind where no topic was allowed more than five clicks from a Google search page before I had to hunker back down to the actual writing.

I ignored it.  I told myself it was important background information, even if it amounted to a passing comment in relation to the overall story.  I spent hours reading about Sámi culture; telling myself I was still within my five clicks.  I joined Academia.edu because I needed to go deeper and I could.

When I finally found a writing groove, I let Thanksgiving trip me up.

In the end, I spent a lot of days doing everything for my story but writing.  The very thing this exercise is meant to get me away from.

I ended up on the final day of November needing 15,000 words to hit the 50,000 word target.  I resigned myself to failure.  Nevertheless, I was going to try.

At the least, I was going to punish myself for allowing this to happen.  Had I kept writing on day four, I would have been done long before deadline.  I managed about 4,000 words per day on the days I had actually written.

This knowledge made me force myself to sit and write on that final day.  If I was going to fail, I was going to fail having made use of every minute left in November.  I was not allowing myself the final day off just because I botched the rest of the month.

What happened should not have been surprising.

Now, how did that happen?

I finished.  With plenty of time to spare.  It was an exhausting day and I did nothing but write and take the dog out from the moment I woke up until I finished around 8PM.

Not the path to victory I had planned, but I’ll take it.

It was a personal lesson.  I hope it sticks.  If nothing else, it was fun.

I have been decompressing and playing in the snow since.

Now the editing…

Posted in Chaos and Creation, Personal Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Alien Fish Navy Horde caught spying in the South China Sea

How do I know that’s what happened?  Because why not.  There is no other plausible explanation.

Also, I read this article in The Mirror, “Angler stunned after hooking rare unidentified fish in South China Sea near Malaysia”

An angler has been left stumped after hooking a rare and as yet unidentified fish.

The mystery creature has a large head and is covered with sharp spines on the top and bottom of its body, which gets progressively smaller towards the tail.

The fish measuring over one foot in length also has two tusk-like spikes near its mouth.

The strange catch has left locals baffled as to what it could be.

That’s that.  Spread the news.

Unless, of course, you recognize this as an Armored Searobin, in which case this would just be a fish.  An identified, if totally badass, alien-looking, fish.

It’s not like anyone has ever, ever, ever seen an Armored Searobin, though.  So we’ll never be sure.  NEVER.

Let’s not have that get in the way of spreading the insanity.  Knowledge isn’t fun.  Mystery is fun!

This alien scout entity has come from Zeta Ridiculi to identify the weaknesses in the world’s naval defenses.  The family in the article has not been seen or heard from since the interview.  However, local authorities discovered a foul odor, seaweed, and a slimy purple ooze throughout the family’s home.  Authorities were investigating the family’s absence from the town’s annual Interpretive Break Dance Festival when they found the disturbing evidence in the home.  Given this turn of events, we can only assume the rest of the Alien Fish Navy Horde is already upon us.

I may have made that part up.  How could anyone know?  These are all great unidentifiable mysteries.  Don’t let some lazy, good-for-nothing marine biologist try to SCIENCE! you up on this, folks.

Armored Searobin.  You can just tell that’s made up!

Am I right!?!?!?!?!

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