Return of the Moonwalker

It’s Friday the 13th and we have ourselves a supermoon, whether you see it or not.  It’s also hot as Hades and I have a migraine.

In my brain addled state, I thought it was a good idea to watch Return of the Moonwalker, a 2011 film that had a petition with 105,000 signatures seeking to prevent its release.  Apparently, these people thought the movie sullied the legacy of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

The movie is certainly a parody, but among the folks that got insulted in it, Michael Jackson was one of the least insulted.  Either way, he’s unlikely to watch the movie and memories are oblivious.

Low budget and bizarre is not something I shy away from.  If that kind of movie is a problem for you, you aren’t reading this.

If you are feeling existential right now, put that feeling aside.  The King of Pop has risen from the grave, with help from the Magician Cagliostro, and he’s leading a revolution.

I’ve been smelling revolution boiling up out of the sewers lately.  It smells like durian flavored lube, melted credit cards, and conceit.

This film is the kind of zany that defies explanation.  There is a plot, of sorts, but it hardly matters.  Viewers are assaulted by scene after scene of tasteless, but marginally funny, ridiculousness.

Freaks of all sorts converge on Cagliostro’s Punk Circus, where undead MJ starts his revolution.  It turns out to be an apocalyptic zombie sort of revolution and nobody wants that, not even Cagliostro.

Dicks explode, kinky sex is had, clowns cavort, blood is drunk, Hitler’s ghost haunts, a crucifixion is called for, and the Illuminati are functionally impotent.  Undead Michael Jackson smokes a blunt.  Everyone gets skewered by this film and rightly so.

Maybe this movie sucks.  I laughed anyway.  Sometimes that’s enough.

If you think exploding dicks are a bridge too far, you’re not alone, but it’s too late to sign that petition.

[The trailer is NSFW.  You should have expected that.  Grab a big fat doobie and check it out.]

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Uncle Sam

Happy Independence Day and Canada Day and boiling hot summer.  Everything’s just great.  Pick up a tariff on your way out.  Everyone gets one.

Let’s talk Independence Day horror movies.

Then again, maybe we shouldn’t.  They’re mostly about sharks and aliens and alien sharks.  With a smattering of knowing what teens did one summer or other.

Those are all movies that I’m not going to talk about.

I watched a movie called Uncle Sam, which came out in 1996.  It comes up on a lot of lists about Independence Day horror films.  I read reviews that said it was fun.  One of those bad slasher films that are a joy to watch.  I was promised great one-liners.

As is de rigueur, it was all damnable lies.

What I got was something that would happen if Lifetime made horror movies in the late 1980s.

I’m having a hard time even being snarky about it.  I couldn’t wait for it to end.  The kills were weak and not just because of budgetary issues.  There’s no tension and no fun.

A kid with a broken leg doesn’t even whimper as the bone pokes through his jeans.  An ax to the face happens off camera.  A lawyer dressed like Abe Lincoln got shot in the head with a gun used for the carnival shooting booth.  I think that was supposed to be funny or edgy.  It wasn’t anything.  I didn’t care.  I doubt anyone else did.  Including Lincoln.

The big fireworks scene was watched by a creepy, smiling crowd of yokels.  Seeing a dirty congressman get blown up has never been so emotionless for me or the townies.  No crowd could enjoy that fireworks display, no matter how many politicians got blown up.

The filmmakers have clearly never been to a fireworks warehouse off the highway at a state border.  I think my neighbors have better rockets.  I can hear them now.  Chicago parks and alleys sound like a war zone tonight.

I’m surprised the congressman didn’t suffocate under a giant black snake ash pile.  That might have been funny at least.

The main kid was thoroughly unlikeable.  I was disappointed that he wasn’t going to die at the end.  He would probably be the killer in Uncle Sam 2 if it is ever made.  I don’t expect that to happen.  There could be no greater evil than making a sequel to this film.

I guess I should mention that Isaac Hayes is in the movie, but it’s hardly a fact worth mentioning.  He plays a guy with a wooden leg.

I could draw some parallels with the current political climate, but why pile that shit even higher.

Maybe they tried to make a statement about crass patriotism, sketchy citizens, or pointless wars, but it was mostly just a really boring movie that didn’t succeed as a decent slasher or a horror parody because it wasn’t committed to either.  Even the musical score was uninspired.

I knew I should have watched Raging Sharks.


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Bloody Mary, say it like you mean it – shaken, not stirred

Once again, I’m not going to watch any of the Friday the 13th movies just because it’s Friday the 13th.  Probably.  Don’t judge me.

What I did was give some thought to superstition and then watch Urban Legends: Bloody Mary because apparently, I don’t know what’s good for me.  I have watched the two previous Urban Legend films and remember precisely enough to know I have seen them and no more.

Finding a good horror film about superstitions is dicey at best.  A lot of it has been covered before, but rarely well.

There are plenty of movies about Ouija boards.  They need a whole discussion of their own.

Other topics I wasn’t up for included black cats, hook hands, phone calls from inside the house, monkeys’ paws, witches’ revenge, and phantom hitchhikers.

There was Candyman way back when.  I want to love it for the Chicago connection, but it always felt a little forced and I like bees.  Bloody Mary is the OG mirror chanting badass.  She didn’t need a hook hand or a swarm of bees.

There is more than one movie featuring Bloody Mary, but I went with UL:BM because I didn’t know it existed and I thought Kate Mara and Ed Marinaro (you may know him from such shows as Hill Street Blues, Laverne & Shirley, and Falcon Crest) would mitigate somewhat.

Upon reviewing this line of thinking, I’m not sure why these two actors would lead me to believe this movie would be more than bad.  I saw Fantastic Four and I still haven’t recovered.  On the other hand, I like football.  Ed is in the College Football Hall of Fame.  Kate is football ownership royalty…maybe that’s not such a great endorsement.

Whatever, I made the decision and forced myself to watch UL:BM mainly on the strength of fond childhood memories regarding the Bloody Mary legend.

Some of us kids went into a dark bathroom, lit some matches, and chanted Bloody Mary three times in front of a mirror.  It was definitely a legendary experience and not about expelling waste after a vicious Sunday morning drunken football watching bender.  Not that I would know anything about such activities.

It is a fact that I don’t like Bloody Marys.  I don’t drink tomatoes.  V8 makes me gag.  I still have nightmares about once accidentally ingesting V8.

I love tomato sauce.  There is an infinite number of culinary uses for tomato sauce that I heartily approve of.  It’s not the same thing.

No amount of hot sauce can save a drink based on tomato juice.  Adding another foul “juice” to it is not a solution.  Mixing clam juice into that liquid hellscape is not fixing a damn thing.

I can understand why Bloody Mary is pissed that her good name was besmirched with such a foul witch’s concoction.

It turns out the Bloody Mary legend isn’t what I thought it was when I was ten.  Who woulda thunk?

I thought she was Mary I of England, who was called Bloody Mary for killing Protestants to save their eternal souls from damnation.  My Catholic upbringing was getting in the way of reality again.

At least I hadn’t mixed that blood-bathing Bathory woman into my Bloody Mary mythology.  For me, Mary was just an irate royal who would fuck you up for calling on her ghost.  That made sense to young me.  Who wants to be called back from the grave into some asshole’s bathroom mirror?

It turns out she was supposed to be a witch called Mary Worth, who was put to death for dealing in the black arts.  Or possibly a woman who died in a car wreck and fucked up her face.  But definitely not a misguided, murdering Queen.

There is some belief that chanting “Bloody Mary” in a mirror thirteen times will summon the ghost.  Certainly not.  You only have to do it three times.  Who came up with this thirteen nonsense?  That’s a lot of chanting.  You would need a peasant or two to help keep count.

As I mentioned, in my time, you lit a candle (or a small flashlight or a lighter or fireplace match, glow stick…whichever) and said her name three times.  Usually alone, but that could be tweaked for more fun.  Then you would get scratched.  At some point.  I’m still waiting.

My recollection is that we followed this up by going outside and running around in the woods.  Nobody was murdered on that day, inexplicably or otherwise.

No early demise saved me from growing up and watching UL:BM.

The movie poster for UL:BM looks awful.  Even the font is bad.

The story is slow and predictable.  The special effects are low rent, but not so low rent as to be funny.

In 1969, some girls get “pranked”.  This involves roofies, accidental death by violence, and almost certainly rape.  If you’re going to have a Bloody Mary, her origin story has to be harsh.

In the present, things seem to repeat themselves.  Samantha (Kate Mara) is a victim of a similar prank sans the rape and death angle.

Then we get deaths by urban legend, courtesy of Samantha calling out Bloody Mary during a teen girl sleepover complete with a pillow fight and a weird brother (David, Sam’s twin brother – don’t worry it doesn’t matter).

How do they die, let me count the ways – a spider lays its eggs in some skin, an electric fence gets pissed on, that thing licking your hand by the side of the bed isn’t your dog, tanning beds are bad for you.

The good:  The science teacher talking about gorilla biology and behavior in the background as the football players contemplate their prank.  The only girl still alive from the 1969 incident (Grace) is a cool as ice, pot-smoking hippie artist with a sweet afro and a flower painted Vanagon.  Power to the people, man.  The heroines get right down to business without needing no man.

The horrible:  Viewers are thought to be so stupid that we don’t know instantly that Sam’s stepfather Bill is the 1969 villain “Willie” all grown up.  All of the movie’s failures pale in comparison to viewers being treated like we’re morons.

The music plays.  The movie ends.  Nothing is a surprise.  Nobody cared about David.  Grace survived.  Groovy.

It felt like the movie’s running time was about 13 hours.

The same song played throughout.  Mary’s song.

Niki Haris has a great voice, but the song makes me think of James Bond walking away from wrecking his Aston Martin in the rain after a few too many vodka martinis and a bad run at the craps table.  You never see that motherfucker drinking Bloody Marys.

But Domino did in Never Say Never Again.  Domino’s brother got killed and her boyfriend was the highest-ranking agent of the terrorist organization SPECTRE.  Bloody Marys – devastating people’s lives since 1554.

Let’s never talk about Urban Legends: Bloody Mary again.

Happy Friday the 13th.  The first of two this year!

I hope Jason Voorhees likes the 1960s musical vibe.  He’s definitely a man who never says never.



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Without Name deserves a better name, something like Gun Anam

It’s good ‘ol St. Paddy’s Day, and Syfy is running a Leprechaun marathon.  Of course, I’ve been catching some of that as I sit bundled up waiting for the HVAC guy to come fix my heater.

Believe me, 57F is way worse than 39F and sunny outside.  It has something to do with expectations and shadows.

The Leprechaun franchise shouldn’t come with high expectations.  As long as you keep it that way, that little asshole is fun to watch.  It’s a great secondary channel for the boring parts of the NCAA tournament, which will now basically be every part that doesn’t include the UMBC Retrievers.

Despite the potential joy and wonder of watching Warwick Davis menace Jennifer Aniston, seeing the Leprechaun in Vegas and outer space, or watching Ice-T play a magic flute, I decided to watch Without Name.

I do love tales of an underdog trying to win back his stolen property, but not as much as I love a good mysterious forest.  So off we go to Dublin and Without Name, Gun Anam in the local tongue.  Google would have me believe that’s “without soul,” but let’s not quibble.  The guy in Mick Murphy’s pub said it was Without Name.

The movie is almost worth it just to see the haunting forest imagery.  Grey skies, green moss, and white mists.

However, we also get the new horror movie staple of droning musical tones and a main character who isn’t likable.  He’s cheating on his wife, unavailable for his kid, will despoil the world for a quick buck, and justify it because he wasn’t personally wielding the chainsaw for the purpose of cheap real estate progress.

This is eco-horror.  Eat some shrooms, contemplate the world, talk to the trees and end up in a prison of your own mind.  Don’t fear the shadow, you are the shadow!

I won’t talk about the Kirlian photography because it doesn’t really matter.  Just like it doesn’t matter what happened to the main character in the end.  He spent the last fifteen minutes naked and confused.  We’re less confused (or should be if you paid attention) but just as happy to have it all come to an end.

Nevertheless, the slow pacing and long moments of silence were enjoyable rather than annoying.  The film eventually devolves into familiar territory, but it was still beautiful to look at.  I happen to love the view of a dreary sky seen through menacing-looking, gnarly tree limbs.  My own photographs would fit right into this film.

There’s more verbal explanation in the trailer than the movie.

Trippy.  I need another beer.

Sláinte mhaith




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Pi(e), man

It’s March 14.  Pi day.

This is great because I like maths and I like pie.  I like all kinds of pie. It’s hard to come up with pie I don’t like.  Apple is classic for a reason. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve had coconut cream pie, but Gilligan and Mary Ann convinced me that it’s aces.  Hostess pies were worth fighting for back in my cafeteria days.  

I’m not picky.

I even accept tarts.  Any size and shape is an acceptable pie.  I won’t quibble if you want to call a pizza pie.

Savory pies are also welcome.  I’ve got fond memories of pot pies, shepherd’s pies, and quiches.

If you put a bunch of birds in a pie, that’s fine.  However, the original doesn’t sound quite that fun.

Sing a Song of Sixpence,

A bag full of Rye,

Four and twenty Naughty Boys,

Baked in a Pye

Whatever surprises are baked into my pies, I leave the long pig out except for very special occasions.

That’s often true of my movie watching as well.

There’s been plenty of cannibalism in movies.  Most of those movies are hit or miss with me. I’m not a fan of the Hills Have Eyes films.  I like some of the Texas Chainsaw films. Hannibal Lecter is no friend of mine – I always found him to be a tiresome braggart.  I keep meaning to watch the Hannibal TV series, but I don’t want it to cool my ire regarding the Anthony Hopkins portrayal.

Generally, I lean more toward the likes of Ravenous, Soylent Green, and Alive.  I like the weirdness and the quandaries more than the gore.  I always mean to watch the various well-known early films (the apocalypses, terrors, and holocausts), but I never get around to them.  The Green Inferno has been collecting digital dust on my DVR for ages.  I have no serious desire to change that.

Give me the humor of Gravy (definitely under-recognized low-brow cannibal humor) before another group of backwoods champs looking for a cheap meal (Wrong Turn excluded because I have a soft spot for the heroine).

Perhaps my tastes were influenced by watching Eating Raoul as a twelve-year-old.  Thank you to whichever over-tired, glassy-eyed adult let us bring that one back from the VHS rental shop.

Nevertheless, I went against my grain and, in honor of Pi Day, I watched Dying Breed.  It has cryptid hunting (Tasmanian Tiger) and an Irish Pieman (St Paddy’s day is coming up, after all).  That should balance out the creepy clan of cannibal clodhoppers.

It was a better film than I expected.

There is a distinct lack of gore compared with other movies of this type.  There are clear hints, but not many in-your-face visuals.  A nude, butcher-hung dead girl was done with very quick, mildly fuzzy shots.  You know what you’re seeing, but you don’t have to soak in it.

The Pieman’s story is done quickly, before the opening credits roll.

Alexander Pearce was an Irish convict who was transported to Van Diemen’s Land for seven years for theft. He escaped from prison several times. During one of these escapes he allegedly became a cannibal, murdering his companions one by one. In another escape, with one companion, he allegedly killed him and ate him in pieces. He was eventually captured and was hanged and dissected in Hobart for murder.

The story is pretty typical of the genre.  The main couple is only different for having the woman (who just happens to be Irish) be the driving force behind the trip to Tasmania – she’s hunting for the elusive cryptid (and, some clues about her dead sister, who disappeared in this exact location eight years ago).  Her boyfriend is a dud and remains so all the way through to the end.  The secondary couple is a nice, attractive but uninterested woman and her horrifically loud, violent and douchey boyfriend.

You can image how they arrive in some untouched-by-the-outside town of creeps.  Everything is named after the Pieman, including the meat-pie “factory”.

They are exactly who we think they are.  The pies, the people, the kid.  Viewers will be surprised by how easily they guess the specifics, but the film doesn’t hide them from us or the main characters.

The pieces come together quickly.  We get a glimpse of the elusive tiger (not awful CGI and better for not lingering on screen), whose sole purpose in the film is to act as an analogy.  See, the creeps are like the hidden tiger!  Cool, I guess.  There’s another scene with puppies of sibling dogs being killed because the folks can’t abide that kind of progeny.  There are rules!  This is a storyline pile-driver, in case anyone didn’t know what was going on here.

The movie ends poorly for the protagonists.  The dud boyfriend completely fizzles out by the end.  I’m fine with that.  He didn’t earn anything better.

The story was pretty unpleasant, but you are left to imagine most of it, which arguably makes the impact of the action more unpalatable, but also makes it a better movie.  It is a cannibal horror movie, after all.  Pleasant was never really the aim.

Anyway, time to go eat a piece of pie or three or fourteen.

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Not so Stranger Things

I binge-watched season two of Stranger Things the day it came out.


The beauty of Stranger Things isn’t in the nitty-gritty of the story.  The greatness is the characters and the mood.  It is well-acted and it looks good.

Stranger Things is a feeling and a sound.  It feels like home.  The retrospectively goofy looking, but punkishly awesome sounding, days when the fifty cent price of admission for the cartoon masquerading as a video game known as Dragon’s Lair was an outrageous burden.  When our childhood selves left the house after breakfast and came home well after dark.  What went on during that time was important business and it was ours.

Halloween still feels like that.  Candy is still candy.  Pumpkins still get carved.  Kids (or imps and other darklings masquerading as kids) are vampires, princesses, Ghostbusters and weird cartoon characters I can’t identify.

The night is dark and chilly, but it sparks with undeniable energy.  An adventure is playing out under the dingy neighborhood lights.  Not everyone is in on it, but everyone senses it’s happening.

That is Stranger Things.

Experience it, don’t just watch it.  Binging helps, just like when you’re ankle deep in a pile of Kit Kat wrappers.

Halloween was a nice exclamation point to my Stanger Things binge.  I carved, I drank, I watched It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  Just like I always do.

I shut the lights out, lit the candles, and fired up the Stranger Things soundtrack.

The neighborhood goblins took me for all the candy in the land.  It kept me from getting tricked for one more year.


All the required tools for the job.




The dog taught that pumpkin who’s in charge because that’s what dogs do.




Fire in the hole.




Bring on the bell-ringing weirdos.




The candy tax gets steeper every year.




After the storm.


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Friday the 13th: The Orphan

The second Friday the 13th of this year makes a nice October pitstop on our way to Halloween.

I decided to mark this occasion by watching a movie that wasn’t part of the Friday the 13th horror franchise.  If I’m honest, though, I have the sixth film, Jason Lives, playing in the background right now.  It’s not like it will distract me.

After all, there’s plenty of horror to chose from and, while I’ve seen most of them, I haven’t seen every horror movie ever made.  I was thinking about slasher movies.  The forerunners of Friday the 13th going all the way back to silent films like The Bat (which also has a keen 1959 remake with Vincent Price); mid-century efforts like Homicidal, The Scarlett Claw, The Spiral Staircase, and House of Wax; or even something like The House That Screamed.  All (and plenty more) influenced the genre in some way, including masks, point-of-view shots, jump scares and heroines (helpless and not).

While I was dithering about on IMDb; however, I got caught looking for every horror movie with the number 13 in the title.  Why wouldn’t that happen?  It’s like having to count mustard seeds.

That’s a hefty bunch of films.  Some good films (I watched Dementia 13 last year).  There’s some real manure as well.  I’m talking to you 13th Child.  Surely the Jersey Devil can do better than that.  This is why it’s so pissed off all the time.  No respect, I tell ya.

Wonder of wonders, there is a 1979 movie entitled Friday the 13th: The Orphan.  Or just The Orphan.  They splashed a calendar page on the poster that has nothing to do with the movie, but I’ll take it.

I watched it last night.  I took copious notes.  Being Friday the 13th and all, WordPress didn’t save anything.  Not even a midpoint draft.  For a minute, I thought I dreamed the whole thing, but I can’t forget typing out “shitty music, again” repeatedly and my dreams are usually way more interesting than note taking while drinking a Caipirinha.

No matter, I can sum that shit up in long story (not so) short form.  I probably wasn’t going to read any of those notes anyway.

It’s the 1920s or thereabouts.  A creepy kid’s parents die.  The movie opens with the kid narrating a funeral in such a way as to sound insane.  No, you didn’t miss anything, that’s just the cold intro into the mind of David, a deranged little orphan.

His aunt comes to take care of him and she won’t let him have any toast because he might cough.  Yes, really.  Aunt Martha’s got issues.

The maid; the live-in African gentleman (seriously, he’s just the dead father’s buddy/business partner from Africa who has extended-stay guest privileges, gives the boy an elephant gun pistol (I take this from the movie, don’t get picky) and smokes him up hooka style); and the neighborly, letch, ginger Uncle Pennybags-looking Billy variously pledge to help the boy.  They’re all selfish and full of shit.

Naturally, the boy takes to praying to a stuffed chimp on an altar, wearing no shirt and generally goes Tarzan Backyard Edition.  Lots of flashbacks go into just how shitty the parents actually were.  Akin, the African man, kills the boy’s chicken, Apple Betty, at the behest of Aunt Martha and rolls out smoking a cigar in his new car, courtesy of a juicy Aunt Martha payoff check.  See ya, Akin.  Enjoy your vacation.

The boy hears some voices, gets agitated, and Aunt Martha kills his dog by slamming it in a door accidentally.  The boy has had enough of reality and lying liars and then people die.  The boy finally has some toast, with raspberry jam, cooked on the end of a fireplace poker in the family fireplace.  All’s well that ends well!

I have to tell you, I thought this movie was shit.  Then a funny thing happened.  It got weird.  Really weird.  Weird is right in my wheelhouse.  The shitty music became perfect.  The annoying flashbacks became artistically surreal.  There was a stuffed chimp and a pet chicken.  The annoying child became my hero.  They all got what was coming to them.

Despite what you see in the trailer, Charlie the Chimp is never alive and the Friday the 13th date is never mentioned (to my knowledge).


There are three songs listed in the credits.  “I Need to Live Alone Again” by Janis Ian, “Don’t Make Me Laugh” and “Did You Ever Dream” written by Teo Macero and Carl Sigman – performed by Judy Roberts.

Janis seems like a fine artist, but when you put that song with this movie, what you get is saccharine insanity.  Saccharinsanity.

It’s the perfect song to play alongside Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.

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H. is for headspace. It’s also a movie.

Asteroid 3122 Florence (aka Asteroid 1981ET3) whooshed past Earth. 3122 Flo is yuge – 2.7 miles in diameter.

We got lucky.  This time.  However, that doesn’t stop us from obsessing about large space objects colliding with Earth and causing havoc, with a capital H.

3122 Flo is named after Florence Nightingale.  Probably because they both did pioneering work in statistical graphics.  Coxcombs aren’t just for dirty fantasies anymore, amiright?  Maybe I’m not.  Who could possibly know?  Facts are for losers.

There are so many movies about asteroid and meteor devastation.  There was a real heyday in the late 1990s with Armageddon, Deep Impact, and Ice.

Other notables: The Blob, Meteor (1979), Meteorites, The Day the Sky Exploded, The Monolith Monsters, 400 Days, Asteroid, The Day of the Triffids, These Final Hours, Post Impact, Anna’s Storm, Disaster L.A., Tycus, Threshold.

Some of them are good.  Most of them are not.  Shit falling from the sky is worrisome, even if it’s not originating in North Korea.  This makes the subject a prime force in disaster flicks.

Some films try to take a different approach, to varying degrees of success.  Night of the Wild – where the animals go bonkers, as they do.  Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – a funky little film with comic personality; mostly about people, who just happen to be waiting for an asteroid to hit and end us all. Lifeforce (pour one out for Tobe Hooper) – a movie about space vampires arriving in the bosom of Halley’s Comet who want to steal your life force. Maximum Overdrive – where the machines go wild to an AC/DC soundtrack, as they do.  Night of the Comet – where the dead go wild, as they do.  Tank Girl – a love story about a weird chick and her kangaroo-man boyfriend surviving with apocalyptic style and punk attitude in a post-impact world.  The Meteor Man – just another superhero origin story about your average mild-mannered family man becoming super-duper after getting bonked by a green ball of space junk.  Without Warning – a shitty mockumentary TV-movie broadcast on Halloween in 1994 that I shouldn’t even have bothered mentioning.

Now, back to the capital H.  The movie, that is.  Maybe it’s about a meteor strike and maybe it’s not.  Something happened.  Something exploded.  We can be sure of that.  That’s about all we can be sure of.

The two main characters are both named Helen.  They live in Troy.  The one in New York.  The elder Helen takes care of a realistic baby doll and uploads videos of her daily care of said doll.  The younger Helen is pregnant.  Both Helens have less than great male partners.  A horse shows up repeatedly, roaming the streets.  The laws of physics fail.  A giant stone statue head floats down the river.

The elder Helen takes care of a realistic baby doll and uploads videos of her daily care of said doll.  The younger Helen is pregnant.  Both Helens have less than great male partners.  A horse shows up repeatedly, roaming the streets.  The laws of physics fail.  A giant stone statue head floats down a river.

You know, just your typical post-something-fucked-happened shenanigans.

There’s obvious images and themes to work with, if you’re intent on finding deep meaning.  I suggest you not bother.  You won’t be satisfied.

The strength of the movie is in the cinematography and the performance of the two actresses, not in its message.

You can just revel in beautiful imagery and weirdness.  Just let it wash over you and forget you have any prior knowledge about Troy and Helens and horses and the state of humanity.  Let the creepy sounds and music of the movie tickle your brain.

Let the creepy sounds and music of the movie tickle your brain.

The film, after all, starts with a quote from Homer’s “The Iliad” – “Everything is more beautiful because we are doomed.”

That’s all you need to know.  The anatomically correct creepy fake baby is beautiful.  The horse-man in the woods that looks like he’s ready to win first prize at a furry sex horror convention is beautiful (think the internet-infamous unicorn man, but a dark NightMare version).  The comatose people laying in the snow, all in the same pose, are beautiful.  The floating cement statue head is beautiful.  A dream of baby-sized eggs with fetuses in them laying in the wintry forest?  You got it.  Beautiful.

The guy laughing maniacally at the end?  That’s all of us.  Just go with it.

Maybe the point was that we’ll all be praying for an impact event by the end of the film.  Or maybe the point was to make us think about stuff.  Like what’s for dinner and do you have any percocets?





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Haruo Nakajima – The man inside the monster

The man in the original Godzilla costume walked off into the sea.  Haruo Nakajima died of pneumonia on August 7th.  He was 88-years-old and had been in the Godzilla suit 12 times from 1954 to 1972, first donning the famous Godzilla suit for the 1954 movie “Godzilla“.

Godzilla has always been a favorite of mine.  He always stomped a city like the true king he is and Haruo Nakajima was behind that majestic stomp.

Nakajima last played Godzilla in 1972 for the film “Godzilla vs Gigan“; however, he played a number of other monsters (as well as other roles, including a bandit in “Seven Samurai“) during his career, including King Kong in “King Kong Escapes“.  An Andy Serkis for the giant monster set.

He has played Rodan – a giant Pteranodon (a monster he almost drown portraying), Moguera – a giant fighting mecha beast, Varan – a gliding lizard Godzilla wanna be, Baragon , a liquid person H-Man, Magma – a giant walrus, a mutated mushroom Matango, a flying lion, a giant rat, and Gezora – a giant cuttlefish.

That’s a lot of monstering for one guy.

In honor of the man who first brought Godzilla, that lovable metaphor, symbol and pop icon to life on-screen (go ahead and take a moment to remember Nagasaki today – 72 years later), I decided to watch one of Nakajima’s non-Godzilla films, “The War of the Gargantuas“.

“The War of the Gargantuas” is a semi-sequel to “Frankenstein Conquers the World” with Nakajima as one of two Frankensteins (Gargantuan in the US version) born from the cells of the titular monster in the first film.

The two giant brothers battle it out.  Nakajima is the violent, green, sea gargantua, Gaira.  The gentle, brown, mountain brother Sanda is the defender of Tokyo.

I just got back from a family gathering this past weekend.  When I heard that Nakajima had passed, naturally I thought of brothers fighting and so to “The War of the Gargantuas”.  I’m still not sure which brother I am.  I guess we’ll just have to duke it out.  Winner gets to be the hero.


Sanda (Yû Sekita) on the left and Gaira (Haruo Nakajima) on the right.

Is it any wonder that the brother grew up mean when little Sanda was getting the full spoiled little monster treatment?  Gaira really excels in throwing angry tantrums, but Sanda still loved the big, green galoot.  At least until he found Gaira eating some boaters.  I guess Sanda doesn’t like between meal snacking.


Can you believe that little nugget is going to grow up to be a gargantua?

This movie gets overlooked in the pantheon of Japanese monster flicks, but it’s one of the better ones.  Any movie that starts with a kraken attack is solid in my book.

You might recognize Russ Tamblyn (you might not, I certainly never did), the actor playing gargantua expert Dr. Paul Stewart, as Riff, the leader of the Jets in West Side Story.  See how far you can go if you leave the streets behind?

Dr. Paul’s assistant Akemi Togawa is played by Kumi Mizuno, a legend in Godzilla films who may or may not have been romanced by Godzilla in Godzilla vs the Sea Monster – a movie that was originally meant to have Kong, who we know is quite the player.  Nakajima wore a wetsuit under the Godzilla outfit for all the scenes Godzilla was in the water ripping the claws off the giant lobster.  Nakajima was a pro.  I’m sure there was a vat of clarified butter already warming over a fire pit.

Two brothers fighting, a city under attack, a Pan Am flight, probing into secrets, Science!, and the great maser ray gun.  As the trailer says, “filmed in absolute realism”.  You just can’t beat that.

It all ends in smoke and fire, but what doesn’t?

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Solstice, not just a bad movie

It’s also one long ass day.

The summer solstice.  Good times.  11:24 pm CDT.

I was looking for a good solstice related movie.  There’s a few to choose from.  I read an article in which the author questioned why anyone would make a movie featuring the summer solstice, called all the movies listed in the article boring, then mentioned not having watched any of them.

This is why we let our soul-stice fly, people.  Don’t let the wankers bring you down.

I ended up watching Solstice.  I didn’t give the choice much thought.  I liked the look of the cast (good-looking folks, plus R. Lee Ermey) and it’s called Solstice, so it was one of the first search results.

It was either watch a movie or erect a bunch of huge stones in the back yard.  It’s hovered around 70ºF with a light breeze all day.  Pretty good weather for erecting huge slabs of stone.

Nevertheless, I’m betting Chicago requires a raft of permits for large stone erection and I didn’t want to get into it with them right now.  I’m trying to get my property taxes reduced.  Besides, I didn’t have enough beer to get through a project of that immensity.

Just some grilled corn and sweet potato, a few of those beers, and this freaking movie.

There was a Swedish version first, Midsommer.  I probably should have watched that one instead.  It didn’t have twins.

They movie teens are calling it St. John’s Eve because this movie transpires in N’awlins.  Also because the sister died six months prior.  There’s a John and Jesus thing going on there.  They were a thing way back when.  This will not come up again.  I can hear your sigh of relief from here.

Fortean Times makes an appearance.  That’s not your everyday movie prop.  There’s an article about the dead speaking.  This was not necessary in any way.  It could have been cut out.  It wasn’t.  That’s summer solstice for you.  Everyone thinks we’ve got plenty of time for useless shenanigans.

The dead twin has auburn hair (vs the main character’s blonde).  This is a blessing.  I don’t have to remember their names.

Right from the start, the movie is your standard ghost story.  Teens, lake house, swimming, sad girl, creepy local, hot local hick teen working at the classic two-pump old-timey gas station, funky mirror action, car trouble, goop coming out of the faucet, shadow under the door, moved objects, drinking games, vision complete with physical injury manifestation, nightmare, the significant object has been identified (it’s a keychain!) – and I’m barely 20 minutes into this Cajun ghost story thrill ride.

Just kidding, there aren’t any actual thrills.

I shouldn’t complain.  The sooner they got down to it, the better.  I only had the longest day of the year to watch this 91-minute-long movie.  A 90-minute movie earlier this week took me two days to finish.  Nothing is a given.  Time and space are warped, just like my mind.

Anyway, the movie…it moves quickly toward resolution, thank goodness.


There’s a missing girl poster at the gas station.  It could have been subtle, but it wasn’t.  More subtle than usual for these movies – nobody specifically asked about it, but the multiple shots framing the poster prominently in the background was a hard clue to miss.

A circle of young’uns in the water with a non-officiant chanting some voodoo mumbo to Papa Legba and pouring out a little red wine?  What could go wrong.

Don’t break the circle, kids.  How many times have you heard that, am I right?  Right up there with “mom always said, don’t play ball in the house” and “stop drowning the other children!”

They’re not even naked.  What kind of horror movie is this?

It’s not half as bad as it should have been and not half as good as I wanted it to be.  The story was ramshackle; however, the actors did a bang up job, or at least as well as could be expected given the circumstances.  The end wasn’t horrible, which was a shame because you kind of want horrible in a horror movie.

It certainly didn’t “hark back to elemental horror films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Shining” as writer/director Daniel Myrick hoped.  That’s the kind of thing you should keep to yourself.

I’ve seen worse.  Earlier this week as a matter of fact.  We’ll talk about that next time.

I finished watching just as the sun set.  That’s perfect.  The dark is my time.

Besides, it’s time to feed the lizard.  That’s not a euphemism.

Since I didn’t watch the Swedish film that inspired this one, I can at least leave you with some Swedish metal.  Let’s get out there and do some fire magick.

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