Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pet Sematary

One of the children has (once again) stuck loose change into the Playstation3 that we normally watch disks on; Tales From The Crypt will commence again once Matt either removes the money or just buys a simple DVD player---both of these things are extremely unlikely, to be honest, so who knows when I'll be able to do more of those . . .

In the meantime, let's talk King:
Pet Sematary, 1983, (by Stephen King)

On the back of the copy I have it says, "the most frightening book Stephen King has ever written," and granted, this was before 1408, (the short which I find the most terrifying) but I'll say that it's definitely the darkest. I didn't even consider how much more difficult this was going to be as a mother. Of sons, one of them two years old. Both blonde. Since I saw this film back when it was released, I obviously kept the image of Gage from it, and damned if it doesn't hold a very strong similarity to my littlest boy. Watching the film (and remembering it) is one thing, but Jesus, these words---reading about the thoughts and feelings that go along with everything that happens---very nearly did me in. Many of the paragraphs about Gage were read with shaking hands and tears, and I'm not celebrating it as it's clearly HORRIBLE, but inside I am (and will constantly be) marveling at just how skillfully, how honestly King writes about parenthood, denial, and fear:

"Kite flyne!" Gage cried out to his father, and Louis put his arm around Gage's shoulders and kissed the boy's cheek, in which the wind had bloomed a wild rose.
"I love you, Gage," he said---it was between the two of them, and that was all right.
And Gage, who now had less than two months to live, laughed shrilly and joyously. "Kite flyne! Kite flyne, Daddy!"

 "Louis saw with something like alarm that Steve was starting to cry.
'Sure,' he said, and in his mind he saw Gage running across the lawn to the road. They were yelling at Gage to come back, but he wouldn't . . . 'That's right,' Louis agreed, and in his mind, it started to happen again, only this time he leaped two feet farther right at the end, and snagged the back of Gage's jacket, and none of this was happening."

"This time he moved away from the gate, walking along the wrought-iron fence until it turned away from Mason Street at a neat right angle. There was a drainage ditch here, and Louis looked into it. What he saw made him shudder. There were masses of rotting flowers here, layer upon layer of them, washed down by seasons of rain and snow.
No, not Christ. These leavings were made in propitiation of a much older God than the Christian one. People have called Him different things at different times, but Rachel's sister gave Him a perfectly good name, I think: Oz the Gweat and Tewwible, God of dead things left in the ground, God of rotting flowers in drainage ditches, God of the Mystery." 

When considering this book together with the film, I think it was a well-done adaptation (which King wrote the screenplay for) and that the book is darker but the film is more terrifying. Zelda and Pascow, in particular give me the chatters. . . . !

Boy. It was a great novel but I really have to admit that I'm glad I'm done with it; it seriously took a lot out of me. Something a bit more light-hearted for next time, maybe?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tales From The Crypt, Season Two: Till Death, 3s a Crowd, The Thing From The Grave

I really hate to be a negative Nancy, but these three (back-to-back) were really not great. This happens in The Twilight Zone occasionally also, where you have to suffer through a few groaners in order to get to the brilliant ones. I don't know where Top Billing rates in the chronology of this series, but damn, I hope it's soon.

Looking good, Maggie.
Till Death
Starring: D.W. Moffett

I'm just going to start writing my own synopsis-es now; IMDB's seem to be written by idiotic amateurs.
Gold Digger romances a (voodoo-practicing) native woman and breaks her heart. To get even, she cooks up a special love potion for his next victim to ensure she'll always be with him----till death AND BEYOND!

The transition from uptight "bitch on wheels" to um, well, hot-to-trot nymphomaniac was funny. As was her ridiculous falsetto-virbrato voice all the time, especially after her death. The rotting corpse just keeps getting more disgusting, which was nice, and the ending was clever (oh, so you're just going to kill yourself to escape her? I think not, say the Voodoo gal); it's entertaining. Definitely the best of the lineup of these three . . .

Three's a Crowd

Seriously, could he be any grosser?
starring: Gavan O'Herlihy, Paul Lieber, Ruth de Sosa

In an episode that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, a horrible, drunken, bitter jackass of a man suspects his innocent, leagues-superior, and secretly pregnant wife of having an affair with his friend. Turns out they were just planning an anniversary party to announce the pregnancy, to which the jealous husband drags her dead corpse, shocking everyone.

UUUGGGGGHHHHHHH. This one literally makes me want to vomit. That dude (O'Herlihy) is (sorry), the grossest, foulest, most disgusting man in existence. I mean, I think there might have been a necrophile reference also, after he killed her ("let's go work on that kid some more?") Come on. I watched this and I wanted to physically harm the guy. If Bill Sadler embodied the physical attributes of my absolute worst creepy ex, then this jerk had his jealousy act down to perfection. DIE. If I ever see this one again my head just might explode. Yuck. NO CLIPS.

The Thing From The Grave
Starring: Miguel Ferrer, Teri Hatcher, Kyle Secor

This was so ridiculous I don't even know what happened, really. Teri Hatcher plays a model with an abusive boyfriend (Ferrer) and low self-esteem, what a shocker. Secor is, surprise, the photographer that offers her refuge from the creep; boyfriend finds out, kills the photographer, but he takes his promise so seriously that he returns (from the grave) to save her again. I think there may have been a date-rape scene between Ferrer and Hatcher which is obviously upsetting, but I think I was so bored that I was doing other things by then (I was probably returning videotapes). YAWN.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tales From The Crypt, Season Two: The Switch; Cutting Cards

The Switch.
Starring: William Hickey, Roy Brocksmith, Kelly Preston, Rick Rossovich

"Kelly Preston is a sexy young woman looking for a handsome young stud or so she thinks." (IMDB).

Casting is the best thing about this one; Rossovich (Slider from Top Gun) donates his body and face to Hickey (Uncle Lewis from Christmas Vacation, no stogie this time) in order to impress Linda (Kelly Preston, with 1990's most enviable perm) under the guidance of Rotwang-inspired mad scientist Roy Brocksmith, a regular supporting actor in the show's first two seasons. Cameo in the intro by director, The Arnold Schwarzenegger. Other than that, this one is kinda lame. I mean, the (yet un-transplanted) faces floating in the aquarium were cool, and in my notes I wrote something about someone's maniacal laughter that obviously impressed me at the time, but damn if I can remember who did it . . .

Again with the gold-digging. Meh.

Cutting Cards
starring: Lance Henriksen, Kevin Tighe

"Reno and Sam are a pair of hardcore gamblers who don't play for fun, who challenge each other in a sample game of cards and the end result could be deadlier then they could've ever bargained for." (IMDB).

Hilarious. These guys were great. I think this was the first episode that dropped the "F" bomb, regularly; these two snarly old dudes cussing at each other? Perfect. Again the casting was nostalgic; Henriksen as Bishop from Alien, and Tighe as . . . wait for it . . . THE KIDNEY-STEALING, TOSS HIS SON OUT OF A FOUR STORY WINDOW CAUSE SAWYER'S PARENTS TO OFF THEMSELVES ANTHONY FUCKING COOPER FROM LOST!!! What a creep.

Is "Chop Poker" a common thing among gamblers with vendettas? It seemed to be used as such a casual reference that it almost seems like it might be. And the name Reno Crevis? I don't know who came up with it, but I like it; he almost seemed like a calmer, less sociopathic Bobby Peru with better orthodonture. When the time comes for the first "chop" to be made, Tighe yells out, "Careful! Only one!" Because the bragging rights for staying in town are worth that much to them? Wow. What a couple of stubborn old bastards. Ending is genius; check it out.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tales From The Crypt, Season Two: Dead Right

Dead Right.
Starring: Demi Moore

"Cathy wants a rich and successful life, and fast. She visits a medium who tells her she will meet a man who will inherit a lot of money, and die in a violent way soon after. When she meets grossly overweight Charlie who informs her of his rich relatives, she promptly marries him. As it turns out, the medium is always right." (IMDB).

This episode is the best example (for me) of what Tales From The Crypt is all about. It's occasionally scary but is mostly disturbing and comical. The gross factor in this one wouldn't have been quite so bad if she hadn't always been talking about how bad the big guy smelled all the time, but because she did, I was squirming in discomfort every time he came on. Charlie Marno is what Adam Sandler's Fatty McGee grew up to be, and lucky him, he got to mess around with two of the most famous breast implants in the world before getting juiced in the electric chair . . . could be worse, I suppose.

Kathy? Is that you?
Yes it is, you fat, disgusting slob!
"I know I'm a little overweight,"
"Yeah, and Hitler's a little anti semitic."

There's a lot to love in this one, though. Her flailing, frantic run down the dark street to Madame Vorna's, horrified that Charlie Marno is the "large man" they had earlier spoken about, the man she would marry. Charlie Marno's CONSTANT table-slapping made me giggle just because it was so ridiculous, and most of all---those little dance vignettes thrown in between scenes of her (unsatisfying) married life? Jazz music, hopping around to "Dancing Cheek to Cheek." Seriously, it makes me laugh now just thinking about it.

This is a good one. I detect a running theme, applicable to both genders: DON'T BE A GOLD DIGGER.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tales From The Crypt, Season One: Lover Come Hack to Me; Collection Completed

Lover Come Hack to Me.
Starring: Amanda Plummer, Stephen Shellen

"Peggy wants to make sure her honeymoon turns out perfect." (IMDB).

(treading lightly) So am I going to ruffle a bunch of feathers if I say that I really like this one, too? Like, a lot. As the newlyweds come inside the deserted old house, Peggy sees a giant axe over the fireplace and asks, "What's that?" The husband replies, "It's just a family portrait of someone's mother-in-law!" Isn't he just witty! Well, no, actually, he seems like an enormous dick the entire time; I can't honestly believe any new spouse, male or female, would be okay with such a shitty attitude (on a HONEYMOON!) But it's all part of the plan, isn't it!

1. When Peggy tells him she's scared (outside the house) he barks back at her, "YOU'RE ALWAYS SCARED, PEGGY!" Jeez.

2. He shows no joy in carrying Peggy across the threshold, and probably wouldn't have bothered had she not brought it up.

3. Peggy tells him, "You know, I'd do anything for you," and he replies, "Oh, and I'd do anything for you, too!" and then, under his breath, "and your bank account . . ."

4. As they, you know, do it (she's a virgin) his implied "entering" is done with an unnecessarily violent thrust. Come on. She just said she was a virgin, man! I'm not saying he deserved the axe in such a way, but I don't even think Tucker Max would do something like that . . . . this new husband (Charles) is a real icky guy.

I get severely annoyed watching this one, but I love it just the same. Amanda Plummer is a very unique looking (gap-toothed) actress, and although her voice really bothers me, I found her perfect for this role. I dug the oh-so-obvious pure-white transition to sin-black (in Peggy's wardrobe) and the orgasmic clock-defiling scream was nice, but the sex scene was uncomfortable enough to almost make me FF through it . . . I mean, Jesus Christ. Enough tongue action; it's not sexy and it just reminds me horribly of Andrew McCarthy (which is to say that it's gross). Cut that shit out. Nice kill scene, though.
(no clips this time; You Tube is being difficult).

Collection Completed
Starring: M. Emmet Walsh, Audra Lindley

"Jonas has been forced into mandatory retirement. He can't relax, though, because Anita's friends are driving him crazy." (IMDB).

Yes, that's Mrs. Roper as the crazy cat lady in the bathroom (whose husband is newly retired).

I kind of remember thinking this one was boring the first time I saw it (I was in eighth grade) but ha. Now that I'm married (and have been for a long time) I saw a lot of comedy in it this time around. Bonking heads over the sink, eye glasses flung into the toilet, grabbing the same towel, scalping the tree in anger---it's slapstick and silly but it's kind of cute, too. Clearly he's annoyed by his wife anyway, without all those damned animals all over the place---I giggled a lot each time he snapped, "GOD DAMMIT, ANITA," and this is mostly because Matt often utters the same thing to me, unrelated to stray animals but me doing things like letting the kids play with Easter grass or making something with too many onions for dinner.

This clearly could have worked as a silent, the actions are all very self-explanatory, and again, the slapstick humor probably could have carried it without any dialogue at all. Funny enough, this episode is also the most realistic of the entire season . . .

Anyway. Full speed ahead with season 2, and for October reading, it's Stephen King ALL MONTH, BABY!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tales From The Crypt, Season One: Only Sin Deep

Only Sin Deep
Starring: Lea Thompson

"A hooker learns that beauty is only skin deep." (IMDB).

This one is definitely in my top ten. Granted, there are huge annoyances--- the gum chewing and that horribly gruff voice Thompson uses topping the list--- but it's fricking AMANDA JONES and she's playing a prostitute! Girls will probably like this one better, if at all, because she gets to have perfectly hot-rollered hair, a million little bottles and canisters of perfume and makeup, endless amounts of jewelry, and sexy black lace underwear. And check out all those turtleneck/suit dresses at the party, and that whip-synth music! It's very early 90s nostalgic. Oh, and let's not forget, GOODWIN FROM LOST (Brett Cullen) as her would-be boyfriend, awful and flat 80s hair on him here but still pretty hot.

So now that I've done a few of these and have considered exactly what's going on in terms of storytelling, I'll say that you really, really need to be able to be along for the ride if you're going to enjoy any of them. These stories are not grounded in reality and nothing is really ever explained. And actually, you can kind of consider it a series of stories about not-smart people who make terrible decisions (the evil men do). Don't second guess any mechanics---just embrace the ridiculousness. In this case, yes, it's completely outlandish that some creepy old pawn shop owner keeps his dead wife physically beautiful by stealing other women's beauty, but the details make the show worth watching. Once the first tiny wrinkle shows up on her face we know that things are going to get ugly fast. Sylvia's beauty was stolen. The pawn shop owner's voodoo works. In the end she comes after him with a stick looking very much like Pam from True Blood experiencing a similar facial effect (and clad in the very same beekeeper outfit). Nice!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tales From The Crypt, Season One: Dig That Cat

Dig That Cat, He's Real Gone
Starring: Joe Pantoliano

"A bum displays his ability to resurrect himself." (IMDB).

This isn't my favorite, but I really love Joey Pants (RALPH CIFARETTO from The Sopranos). From inside a coffin Ulric explains how he came to be there---a crazy scientist implanted a specific gland from a cat into his brain, giving him the cat's nine lives. The scientist wastes the first life by shooting Ulric to prove the experiment's success but Ulric eventually gains fame and fortune in a circus act where he is killed and then resurrected in front of a live audience. The twist comes when he miscounts the number of lives he has to spend . . . the realization comes to him as he's buried inside the coffin.

There are some really excellent bits of production in this episode that make it comical; that whiney circus woman he ends up dating, the toothless old bag who wins the lottery and gets to fry him with electricity ("YOU BET YOUR ASS I'M READY!") and Robert Wuhl as that obnoxious circus barker. Also, "Polanski wants to film my life story. All of them." They used some interesting wipes between scenes, pieces of glass shattering, and other random, explosive shapes. Funny. And Joey also had an almost Nicholson-like evil grin in one of his early scenes just as the scientist discovers him, eyebrows arched and everything; that was awesome.

But honestly my favorite part of this was The Crypt Keeper's synopsis at the end---before he does it, he gently pets a black cat with his ghoulish hands, "There, there. Nice Kitty," and then, as it jumps off the table away from him, "GET!" You can watch it below:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tales From The Crypt, Season One: All Through The House

Merry Christmas, you son of a bitch!
All Through The House
Starring: Mary Ellen Trainor, Larry Drake.

"A greedy woman makes the mistake of murdering her husband while an escaped mental patient dressed in a Santa Claus outfit is on the loose." (IMDB).

Killing a husband is a lot harder than you'd think: fireplace poker gets stuck in the cranium, blood stains the coffee table and carpet, he's heavy and difficult to haul, and so on. Logistics! Bad luck when a homicidal maniac in a santa suit comes around and decides to get in on the action.

This episode is pretty slapstick and ridiculous, but it's fun to watch. The way crazy-santa (Larry Drake of Doctor Giggles fame) scampers by the windows or makes little jingling noises off camera is priceless. And how about those teeth! We're talking about possibly putting Bobby Peru to shame with that mouth full of raisins! Yuck! As with The Twilight Zone, many of the episodes in this show focus on people as their own worst enemies, masterminding their own undoings (the evil men do) with a few supernatural helping hands here and there. It's actually pretty rare when there's a scary villain, a crazy, stalking killer, but this one has it and he's awful. Mary Ellen Trainor (sister Elaine from Romancing The Stone) is spot-on as the scheming (and later hysterical) MILF; all dolled up and parading around in that red nightgown, calling her lover on the phone after the deed is done ("we're free, darling, we're finally free!")---gets her come-uppance, though. Sigh. . . the ideological snares of offing a spouse.

Watch this one for the comedy.