Friday, September 30, 2011

Tales From The Crypt, Season One: The Man Who Was Death

The Man Who Was Death.
Starring: Bill Sadler

"After the death penalty is abolished, an executioner continues his former job through freelancing..." (IMDB).

This is a perfect first episode; good music, clever script, nice little twist at the end, and an actor who can carry it pretty much all on his own. Bill Sadler (you'll probably remember him from Shawshank Redemption a few years after this) was perfect as execution specialist Niles Talbot. The script mentions Oklahoma as Talbot's home state, but whatever southern accent he was going with was *perfect* for this sort of narrative and kept the character from becoming too stoney and sociopathic---he's just a good old boy, after all, right? He drops the early syllables on a lot of his words and damn if it wasn't (almost) sexy? Behind becomes 'hind, between, 'tween, and so on. I almost think listening to this as a radio program would work just because of his voice! "Treat whores like queens and queens like whores and they're on their backs quicker than you can say 'Son of Sam.'" Words of wisdom, Niles, words of wisdom. I first saw this episode back in 89 when it first hit HBO; I have never forgotten that statement.

The music was perfect, too. Those eerie, circus-y themes going on during the walks (both first and last) to the electric chair were damned creepy, almost too happy and manic for what was happening on screen, but they worked. As the biker Jimmy Flood is riding up to the fence (which Niles has of course electrified) the instrumental is a good one, Link Wray's Rumble (which Tarantino used during the uncomfortable silence segment inside Jack Rabbit Slim's).

The twist at the end is predictable, but a good one---not unlike the sort of turning of tables that goes down in The Obsolete Man in The Twilight Zone's second season. And should we talk a little bit about the introduction, also? Opening theme by Danny Elfman, of course, (who else) and John Kassir does the voice of The Crypt Keeper. Excellent character, although this introduction had him a bit more reserved than later ones, hardly any cackling at all and mostly throaty giggles and a lot of hand-rubbing. I prefer my Crypt Keeper obnoxious with high-pitched womanly laughter, thank you; the self-electrocution was a nice touch, though, I'll keep that.

I love this show. Check out Niles's final project below (spoilers):

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cedar Rapids, Rubber, Geeks.

Hail Mary again:

1. Cedar Rapids. I laughed a few times. It was like Napoleon Dynamite with swearing and meth, so good there, and I liked the credits against a yellow screen. Also, Reid Rothchild (John C. Reilly?) has become the token character of my husband's humor in pretty much everything he does lately. If Matt had not married me and had become some sort of traveling salesman I am convinced he would be just like Beansie.

2. Rubber. I thought this was excellent. Tire rolling around on its own, setting off wiggly telepathic head-exploding powers as it goes from place to place? Awesome. It gets a crush on a dark-haired girl in a short skirt. Audience members (on screen) are made to stay in the desert and watch this unfold with binoculars. Forcing the audience to become part of the story. Taking on Hollywood at the end. Love it. This reminds me of the kind of thing I'd have to watch for school (Bunuel, Antonioni, even Lynch) and then come home to watch again with a one-hit and a sixer of Rolling Rock. (nostalgia).

High cheekbones, slightly frosted hair, YOU MUST BE DANISH!
(actually I'm Polish).
3. What up, Geeks?: I'm not watching any new horror films for October this month, last year kind of wrecked it all for me and I'm still not all that cool with sleeping with the lights off even now, so I'm doing something different, something better. TALES FROM THE CRYPT, bitches! All of them. Give me some feedback on your favorites, okay? Also, I am recycling some of my better reviews from last year's Scariest Films Ever list for Examiner; check out my page if you're interested in reading them.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Living Dead, Person of Interest

I finally got to Donald's Living Dead recommendations, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead, and I can honestly say I enjoyed them all, a lot. Since the review I did last year clearly was not up to standard (according to a few people) I suppose I need to get a little nerdier with this one. Although I am glad I found that business about people (in the original) not communicating with each other; it's important.

Night of the Living Dead, 1968. Directed by George A. Romero

"A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse." (IMDB).

Since I have seen this before I was able to focus on things other than the actual events this time around, and in terms of production (1968) there were a lot of things I liked. I liked how it all felt like a creepy Twilight Zone, not just the black and white but the script, the actor's deliveries, and the music, too. It's one of those films that obviously is not terribly realistic by today's standards, but is successful nonetheless because it deals with bigger issues than just being stalked by zombies (although the zombie story also does fine on its own). What happens when scared human beings need to work together to solve a problem? Well, bad things, as it turns out. One is hysterical and later catatonic, one is level-headed, and another is just generally disagreeable. They form a plan, try to execute it, and are thwarted by bad luck. If this is how humanity performs in the face of a struggle, we don't need zombies to do us in, we'll doom ourselves.

Dawn of the Dead, 1978. Directed by George A. Romero.

"Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia SWAT team members, a traffic reporter, and his television-executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall." (IMDB).

So I hate to like a film only for its aesthetics, but I have to admit, pretty much anything could have happened during this and I would have liked it simply because it took place at a mall and had 70s hair. And there are other good things beside those, too of course, music, their clever little trick of altering the stairwell and walls in order to trick the zombies, car scooting around inside the mall, pitching dead zombie over the railing into the pond, etc. Let's not forget the little shopping sequence, either (did this influence Amy Heckerling in European Vacation when the Griswolds go on a shopping spree for new Italian fashions? It seemed very similar.) The makeup was obviously a little more sophisticated and the gore effects a bit more realistic, but it was more light-hearted than the original and I enjoyed that. I kind of think that this one is my favorite.

Day of the Dead, 1985. Directed by George A. Romero.

"A small group of military officers and scientists dwell in an underground bunker as the world above is overrun by zombies." (IMDB).

Wow. And this one was not at all what I was expecting. Extremely funny (and extremely hostile). Captain Rhodes? Um, just a second, psycho. What a freak! Joseph Pilato, incidentally was Dean Martin in Pulp Fiction, and I'm sure the brilliant QT, while casting for the lineup inside Jack Rabbit Slim's and having most assuredly seen this film, thought to himself, LET'S DO IT WITH CAPTAIN RHODES AS DEAN MARTIN!

The special effects in this one were actually really amazing. The brain and spine (ABSENT A SKULL) still connected to torso and limbs? Hands down my favorite thing in a horror movie, ever. I really dug the music, so stereotypically 80s synth, almost love-themey. And the whole concept of studying the zombies was a nice change. Why are they doing this? Can they be controlled? Nice work.


So this might not be the most thorough or official of reviews here, but I have to say, what I saw Thursday night was really, really excellent. I missed the first nineteen minutes as our DVR just suddenly stopped working, but regardless, once I started, the proverbial skirt was blown up. Damn.

The plot was all right, kind of felt like 24 (with The Passion's Jesus, Jim Caviezel as the new Bauer) and Michael Emerson as Ben Linus hunting bad guys, and all that is fine. But you want to know what sold me? There's a scene of a little standoff going on in the bottom floor of an apartment complex right near the elevator; one bad guy has an innocent hostage, Caviezel (who I'm just going to call THE JESUS) has his own bad guy hostage and they're both standing there with their hostages, waiting for the real target to come out of the elevator. The target has his young son with him, btw. Suspense builds as the two men with guns wait for the elevator to come down, there's a dial display at the top with numbers, one that looks strikingly like the same one used in "The After Hours" episode of The Twilight Zone (Marsha the Mannequin) which you know goddamned well JJ Abrams has seen, probably many times. During all this suspense the soundtrack is very similar to the one used in Snatch when Mickey (Brad Pitt) discovers his mother's trailer on fire or the Massive Attack song in GO, I don't know which but it's a very dark and effective accompaniment to what's happening in the scene. I'm kind of wishing now he would have used it in LOST during one of John Locke's bad ass scenes, but you know, can't have everything. The photography of shots was really excellent, too, extremely cinematic.

After reviewing the trailer below, I've decided
1. I am really quite excited for more of this show.
2. I didn't see any of the scenes with THE JESUS in his Grizzly Bear Jenkins hair and beard but seeing it just now leads me to believe that he is equal parts Jack Shephard and John Locke, so obviously my new BFF.

Check it out!

oh, and
3. Did you see that ski mask bit? Nobody fucks with THE JESUS.

Monday, September 12, 2011

News, Updates.

Andy Whitfield died yesterday after a battle with non-hodgkins lymphoma. This is incredibly sad; not just because he was so remarkable in his role in the television show Spartacus or that he was very young, but because cancer is just awful. I'll take a page from my favorite little Twilight Zone freak, Anthony Fremont's book and WISH CANCER INTO THE CORNFIELD. I hate it.

Secondly, I'll be doing a little Spartacus re-watch as a tribute to Andy very soon. Before I get to it, I have 5 more films left of your recommendations, it's been extremely slow going without a computer, but it will happen. I swear I've been reading the same Henry James book of short stories in the bath for the last three months, but you know, better late than never, I guess.

Looking good, Stackhouse.
True Blood ended last night; I think it needed to because if it got any more ridiculous I may have just cancelled HBO. You know things are pretty bad when JASON STACKHOUSE has been given the best story line, but I liked what happened with the vamps for the most part and wish there would have been more of just them, being vampy. Best scene by far was when Bill and Eric, uh, reacted to Nan's little using-Sookie-as-blackmail business, I was like, FINALLY! Heads off, 1, 2, 3, and Nan staked on the ground in a slippery mess (unfortunately no jar was available). Speaking of Talbot, the resurrection of Russell Edgington? Hell YES! Get that old Kraut up and kicking again! (I can say Kraut because I am one; he called Sookie a bitch in German last season so I'm guessing he's one, too). Anyway, the more vampires, the better.

For fall television, there are actually quite a few shows on my roster---Dexter, of course, Pan Am, Person of Interest (Hello, Ben Linus), and maybe the most exciting, American Horror Story, starting in October. Have you seen the ads for it? Nice leather suit creep in the red room! Between this and Insidious (back in March) I'll never be able to sleep with the lights off, again. And if I ever get time, I need to catch up on Mad Men and start Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, and The Killing.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Some clips #KillBill

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rescue Me; Ashes

So it ended, well, I think. A few thoughts:

1. Unless it's about an island that made people flash sideways for an entire season, I don't like being tricked on a wide scale, and the previews and Tommy's dream were absolute trickery. The shot of Janet sobbing against the wall wasn't even used during the episode, and this irked me a little. I mean, by all means, pull a Dallas Bobby-in-the-shower stunt, I'm all for it, but don't intentionally lead us all down the wrong path just for the sake of ratings. Some suit thought that up, I'm confident of that.

2. That being said; had the end actually been what began in the first part of the episode, I would have absolutely and horribly lost my head over it, and probably would still be crying right now. The similarities to (Tommy's experience of) 9-11 are there, although on much smaller a scale: the fire itself was due to sabotage--someone committed arson by lighting the place up; the crew could have let the building blow, saving themselves, but went further in after civilians; and if I remember correctly, Jimmy Keefe was trapped in an elevator also (during the 9-11 terrorist attacks), speaking to the rest of the crew via phone or walkie from inside the tower just as Lou spoke to Needles.

3. Those opening shots---snare, Lou limps and attempts to identify the bodies of his crew, the five covered gurneys then coffins, the funeral---some things are just awful, and thinking of how this has really happened and does happen is powerfully sobering. Lou's speech:

"These men, these five extraordinary human beings will forever live in my heart and in the memory of all who knew them, and in the public records of this great city as heroes, the bravest of the brave. I shed no tears. I cry out, not in agony. I beseech the sky not in anger, but with pride, in a voice that is strong and clear. I am a better man and we are all better people for having known them. Good night my dear friends, my five unforgettable brothers, I shall see you on the other side."

4. So as it turns out, Tommy and the guys made it out but Lou did not. The aftermath of the explosion, where Tommy discovers Lou's fate and then swiftly covers him with his own coat (too late) in an attempt to spare the rest of the crew the pain of seeing him . . . nearly too much. Lou was the one who stood in front of the door just outside the propane tanks, remember, telling Tommy and the guys, "Go ahead, we'll be fine. Trust me."

5. "If it isn't the ghosts of Christmas Stupid," (Franco to Mike and Garrity).

6. Pudding on Lou's read-only-after-I'm-gone note to Tommy. LABELED!

7. Playground scene, Tommy doesn't think Wyatt should have to share his shovel and pail since he is not a member of their Commie-Sandbox faction. God, parents are annoying sometimes. "Tiffany is a store. Madison is an avenue. And Britney, well she's a slut." (!!!)

8. Tommy does not retire; the group stays together with Franco as the new Lou. Tommy belittles another group of probies; as he gets into his truck to leave, Lou is predictably riding shotgun. Tommy's face has a lot more lines in it, he's got two more sons, and is still riding with the boys.

Fucking A. (bravo).

One last note: I was mostly annoyed by the stupid BMW commercials throughout the whole thing since I don't like their stupid asshole company, but the looks back at the various firefighters were cool. ("Promise me you won't hit me, okay? Now, who is Steve McQueen again?"---Garrity; LARGE SLAP by Lou). And speaking of my dim-witted firefighter crush, I found him an odd choice for BMW's spokesperson during all of this, although I did have a few thoughts of maybe tackling his dumb ass into the back of that 3 series convertible . . . (!)

I'm gonna miss them.


Monday, September 5, 2011

A clip

American Movie.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Rescue Me Finale: Where My Boys At?

Big buildings = Big problems.
EEEEEEEEE! I finally got Matt to dump everything important onto his new computer (in case I ruin this one, which is a distinct possibility since all the technical shit hates me around here) so you know the first substantial thing I'm gonna write is about Tommy and the boys, DID ANYONE ELSE SEE THAT SHIT GO DOWN ON WEDNESDAY?!?!?!


I was clenching and tensing the entire time that fire began. Horribly. I could barely handle it because I knew it was going to be major and the show is ending and they were all just mostly happy together at Colleen and Sean's wedding . . . you knew that couldn't last. The looks of realization on Garrity and Mike's faces when they hear the walkie . . . "there's no means of egress, repeat, 62 has no means of egress . . . " Black Sean stops CPR momentarily to process what's happening, and Franco admonishes him, "get back to work, Sean,  come on, asshole, WE DON'T QUIT!" Jesus, I'm tearing up just thinking about it.

I do find the fact that the elevator would only take Tommy (and the guys who followed him) up significant. Redemption perhaps? Christ. See you next Wednesday with a box of Kleenex. I'm not good at funerals.