An uncomfortable motif.

Posted in douchebag, mid90s, podcast, ramblings of a loser, Uncategorized with tags , , on May 10, 2019 by efcontentment

Click here for the podcast version of these ramblings!

It was the Spring of 2017 and there I was at the family reunion talking to my cousin, and he asks me if I’ve heard anything about this skateboarding movie that Jonah Hill was going to make. I only knew what he knew, which was that Jonah Hill was planning to make a skateboarding movie — and that it took place in the 1990s.

That got both of us interested; as a child of both the 80s and 90s, I looked forward to looking back. As for my cousin, he not only shared the time period experience but was part of the skateboarding scene back then as well.

My cousin asked me if I had any idea when the movie would come out; I told him that usually these things come out about a year, maybe a year-and-a-half after they’re announced — so I figured sometime in 2018.

Allow me to give you some background about me and my cousin. He’s a few years younger than me, and because we lived no more than ten minutes away from each other back in the 1980s, we grew up together. We hung out, played with action figures, graduated to video games, watched the WWE back when it was the WWF, and cheered on the latest Schwarzenegger and Stallone flicks. (My first viewings of The Karate KidBig Trouble in Little China, and Robocop were with him.)

Then he moved to Mexico in the early 90s, and from then on I’d only see him whenever I was visiting over there or he was visiting over here. We’d stay at each other’s places and catch up while taking in all the wonderful pop culture the glorious 90s had to offer us. As we got older, I saw him less and less because that’s what happens; I’d only see him at family functions or weddings or funerals or all that other fun stuff.

So back to 2017 — back to us talking about this Jonah Hill 1990s skateboarding movie. I can see how excited he was getting because of the subject matter and time period, and while I was only half interested, the half that I was interested in was a pretty big half. He knew this and I knew this, and so he said something like “It’d be cool to see it with you whenever it comes out” and I immediately jumped in with “So let’s do it. When it comes out, I’ll come down and see you and we’ll make a day of it.”

By this time, he and his family were now in San Diego, which from my Los Angeles County location is only a two hour drive. My cousin loved the idea and so I told him I’d hit him up the closer we got to the film’s release date, which was to be sometime in late 2018.

Now cut to early 2018, when my sister asked me if I had anything I wanted to say to my cousin for a special going-away message the rest of the family was putting together for him. It turned out that my cousin was moving out of San Diego, California and moving into San Antonio, Texas.

Which meant that he would go from being a two hour drive away to a twenty hour drive away.

After picking up the nearest pillow and screaming into it, I then wrote my cousin a message wishing him and his family all my best with San Antonio — and that I still planned on meeting up with him to see this goddamn movie called Mid90s.

A few months later — November 2018, to be exact, I flew to San Antonio. I checked into my hotel room, and yeah, I got a hotel room because I didn’t want to put my cousin out like that, plus he has kids and they’re young and I fuckin’ hate kids and I don’t want to be jerking off in the guest room while watching YouPorn and all of a sudden here comes my cousin’s six-year-old barging in catching me off guard just as I shoot and WHAP he gets nutted in the eye and great, now I’m a sex predator.

Fuck that shit, I like my privacy. I like to have a nice hotel room where I can comfortably walk around naked with the curtains open, just in case there’s a voyeuristic woman or man in the next building who’s looking for something to wish for.

Anyway, before unpacking I had DoorDash bring me a double cheeseburger and a Monterey Melt with an order of fries and an order of onion rings from Whataburger as a nightcap. The following day, I went to 2M Smokehouse BBQ where I had some incredible beef brisket and a side of “chicharoni macaroni” for breakfast, then I did the tourist thing by visiting The Alamo, got myself a hot towel shave and a haircut at a place where they served me Shiner Bock while I waited, and then I had dinner on a riverboat at Boudro’s over on the Riverwalk, where I had a lovely conversation with the only other single person on board, a woman who appeared to be in her 70s and who was there to watch her grandkids perform in a band for some function at the Alamo.

Somewhere during this conversation, I mentioned to her that I always wanted to eat on a riverboat on the Riverwalk ever since I saw Steve McQueen do it in the 1972 film The Getaway, and that’s where we both discovered we were both movie geeks. She was particularly fond of the works of Paul Schrader. I asked her if she had seen his latest film First Reformed.

She said she hadn’t. Neither had I.

And that’s when we locked eyes and I remembered earlier when she mentioned being divorced and I knew right then and there that we were only four glasses of wine between us from having a little May-December action in one of our hotel rooms later that night.

Having reached that ratio by the end of the meal, I waited for everybody else to exit the boat before hitting her with the big question: Would you like to join me for another drink or three? I hadn’t finished my proposition when I saw her slowly reach into her purse and pull out a whistle, to which I immediately said “Good evening, ma’am!” and stepped off the boat and walked straight to the Coyote Ugly Saloon next door. I ended up having a couple beers while watching girls stand on the bar while doing PG-13 dance routines and giving both men and women their version of “body shots” which consisted of one of the Coyote Ugly girls tying the lucky man’s hands behind his back while she put a shotglass of tequila into her mouth and tilt it so that the contents poured into the James Franco-in-Spring-Breakers lookalike’s mouth — again, that’s if the customer is a man.

For the female customers, the body shot consisted of the Coyote Ugly Girl bringing the lucky lady onto the bar, laying her down face up on said bar, and grinding her body against hers and somewhere along the way, the lady gets her drink and we’re all supposed to act like there isn’t a double standard going on and this is of course called “experimenting” because it’s OK for women to fuck around with other women all they want and it doesn’t mean they’re dykes but if I say something like “Hey, I have no problems sleeping with a transgender chick provided she doesn’t still have a dick — and if she does, OK fine, as long as it isn’t bigger than mine” NOOO, I’m the biggest homo this side of San Antonio!

You see, old single grandma on the riverboat? I wasn’t trying to sleep with you, you’re not customized with the proper add-ons! So put away the rape whistle, honey, and let’s get back to talking about that one movie where George C. Scott watches his daughter get banged in a porno!

The next day, I met up with my cousin at the AMC Rivercenter 11 and we spent a couple hours catching up, and then spent another ninety minutes watching the film we’d been talking about for the past couple years. So I guess I should talk a little about the film, huh?

Mid90s follows a young kid named Stevie somewhere in Southern California circa 1995 who has a typical lower middle class lifestyle, that is, if your lower middle class lifestyle included having a young single mother who has no problems discussing her love life in front of you, and having an older brother who regularly beats the ever-loving fuck out of you for sneaking into his room while he was out.

Me, I didn’t have to deal with that kind of bullshit back then, I realized way too late in retrospect that I had it really fucking good back then family-wise — my parents were straight arrows and the worst thing that ever happened between me and my sister was when we watched the Corey Haim and Corey Feldman movie Blown Away, which we thought would be good for a laugh but it turned out that the joke was on us when half of that movie consisted of watching fuckin’ Lucas over here bang Nicole Eggert over and over again, and I don’t know if my sister and I were trying to tough it out, figuring that watching The Lost Boy show Charles who really was In Charge would eventually give way to, you know, the fuckin’ story, but no, it didn’t.

Anyway, Stevie doesn’t have to watch Nicole Eggert get passed back and forth by the Coreys much like they used to pass needles and STDs to each other. Instead he takes his beatings, and one gets the sense that perhaps he feels he deserves it, because on occasion Stevie will do the self-harm thing with such lovely household items as a hair brush, the cord of a Super Nintendo controller, and his own fists. This is his life, he has to deal with it, he’s used to it, and maybe it’s because he doesn’t know any better, he just knows what he knows.

So one day, Stevie walks into the skate shop that had previously caught his eye and slowly ingratiates himself into the small tight-knit crew of skater boys that hang out there. It’s four guys and half are assholes and half are all right, which sounds about right. I’m glad they weren’t all assholes, because otherwise I’d have to say about skaters and this film what Quentin Tarantino said about surfers and the John Milius’ film Big Wednesday — that it’s a better movie than those assholes deserve.

But no, the few times I hung out with my cousin when he was with his skate-bros, half of them were decent dudes, while the other half I wanted nothing more than to see a fucking truck splatter them all over the pavement, followed by listening to the sweet screams of their worthless mothers wailing to their former sons/current street pizzas.

I can joke about that because I almost got hit by a truck when I was six years old. I was being a little fuck and I ran out of the house and into the street and a semi-truck almost Gage’d my ass. My mother nearly had a heart attack at the sight of this, but she recovered quickly enough to regain the power to inflect major damage on my hindquarters with her immortal chancla. Some of you fuckin’ hippies can call it child abuse if you want, but it was the only time my mother ever hit me and I feel I earned that beating, and you know what? I don’t run blindly into streets anymore.

Maybe Stevie could stand for some chancla action, rather than his usual brotherly beatdowns, because maybe that would’ve taught him not to scream at his mother to “shut the fuck up!” I shit you not, he actually does that, in one scene he goes off on her, repeatedly screaming that shit at his mom over and over again. That really is some white people shit, right there. I’ve never heard of any Hispanic or Black kids yelling at their moms like that, probably because those that did — if they ever did — never got more than two words into their tirade before every trace of their existence was immediately wiped off the face of the Earth by their moms.

I love my mom and I think she’s awesome, but I also respect the fact that inside that increasingly tiny old woman beats the heart of a lioness and I would never dream of screaming at her as if I were some spoiled ass white boy. You can point all the guns and knives in the world at me, but threaten me with telling my mom about something I did and I’ll drop to my knees faster than a 14-year-old boy auditioning for the next Bryan Singer production.

Stevie soon scores a skateboard of his own and discovers a new way to escape from the realities of his life via rolling down streets and sidewalks on a board that has a dinosaur saying “Cowabunga” on it. Rather than having movie night in the living room with his mom, Stevie enjoys the simple pleasures of finally pulling off a trick move at the end of a night full of failed attempts. This is an awesome new thing for the little dude, who is soon given the nickname “Sunburn”.

No longer alone or depending on the kindness of an abusive older sibling, Stevie has a second family to hang out with and now he also has access to cool things for little children like 40-ounce beers and cheap weed and older girls who are into you because you’re too young to ditch them for someone hotter later on.

About that last part, this girl — who looks Hispanic and I’m assuming is under 18 — ends up chatting Stevie up and eventually takes him to her room where she ends up kissing up on him. First off, I bet you that chick grew up to become one of those teachers you hear about on the news, the ones who hook up with one of their students, and me and my fellow men react with the same bullshit half-joking comments about how we wished we had a teacher bang us when we were kids because it would instill in us a confidence well beyond our years, and that this confidence would probably have made us into goddamn winners in life.

Second, this scene between Sunburn and the creeper chola feels kinda weird because she looks older than her age and he looks younger than his age, and it’s shot in a way that I didn’t find exploitative, but it does feel like you’re peeking into something that you shouldn’t be peeking into, like you’re hiding in the closet with Kyle MacLachlan’s character from Blue Velvet watching this scene go down.

Also, I had a bit of a debate with my cousin after the film about that scene, about whether it was some kind of weird wish fulfillment trip from Jonah Hill, like, maybe when he was that age he fantasized about some older chick preying upon his tubby little body, the way I fantasized about Mrs. Kennelly in my seventh grade science class telling me to stay after school so we can discuss what an impotent piece of shit her husband is, I don’t know. Or maybe that situation between Sunburn and the chick really happened, being that this is — well, I’m assuming, anyway — kinda autobiographical for Hill.

Whatever the case, the girl — and the other girls in the film — took me back to my junior high school days, or more specifically, my junior high school weekends. The way they were dressed and the way they wore their hair, wow, I was reminded of all the girls I was too chicken shit to talk to, as well as the ones that I managed to work up some balls to chat up but then fucked it up by being myself.

I would’ve been fine with the film being a time capsule dripping in Hey, Remember the 90s? if it were just that. But it’s not. Aside from the opening five minutes in which we’re inundated with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bedsheets, Street Fighter II t-shirts, and CDs by “Tha Alkaholiks”Mid90s creates nostalgia in more of a matter-of-fact manner — much like watching an old VHS home movie from that time period where things don’t look too much different except every once in a while you’ll notice things about a person’s clothes or the way somebody’s living room looks like every lower middle class living room from back then.

What adds to this rather casual presentation is that the film is presented in the 4×3 — or 1.33:1 — aspect ratio, or in other words, it’s a square box with black bars on the left and right sides of the screen, because you see, kids, in the good old days, we watched television from a square box that was front heavy as fuck and took at least two people to carry around if it was a big size. Mid90s was also shot in Super 16mm, giving a nice grainy image with the occasional scratch here and there, which combined with the 4×3 aspect ratio makes the film look like an independent film I would’ve rented from Blockbuster Video or Hollywood Video back in the 90s.

So in that context — as an independent film from the 90s — what would I have thought if I had rented this at a video store back then? Pretty much the same way I feel now, minus the nostalgia parts. It’s an interesting character study of the kind of person who would devote his free time to increasing his chances of getting harassed by security guards, running from cops, and breaking bones. My only real complaint is that it feels too bare bones for this kind of film; I got the impression that there was probably a lot more footage shot for every scene but Hill and his editor knew it was best to get to the point of a scene and make said point as quick as possible. Now that definitely works with some scenes in the film, but there are other scenes that I felt definitely could’ve used some more breathing room. Nevertheless, Jonah Hill makes an impressive debut as a filmmaker here.

With the exception of Lucas Hedges who plays Stevie’s dickhead brother Ian, and Katherine Waterston as Stevie’s hot mom, the majority of the cast appear to be real life professional skaters rather than real life professional actors — although the kid who plays Stevie, Sunny Suljic, is both a pro-skateboarder and an actor — and these non-actors do pretty well just being themselves rather than shooting for the actorial stars — which works for a film like this where just playing things natural enhances the verisimilitude.

I have to give props to Hill and his music supervisor for the eclectic mix of tunes that pop up throughout the film; you want to talk about taking me back, well, it seemed like every other song in this movie gave me serious I Remember Way Back When type of feels, stuff from Wu-Tang ClanPixiesJeru The DamajaMorrissey, and The Pharcyde among others.

After the film, my cousin and I walked around Downtown while discussing the movie; he gave me some good background on certain things in the movie that had flown over my head, on account of not being familiar with the skating scene back then. He talked about how the filmmakers did a great job with such details as the kind of clothing the characters wore; he said that one character wore stuff from a certain skate company that you’d only see people with money wear, which makes sense considering that this character did in fact come from money. My cousin loved the movie, by the way — he ended up watching it twice.

I also ended up watching the film twice during its theatrical run, but not so much for the same reasons as my cousin. While I liked the film enough to watch it again, it was really more because my first viewing did not go as well as it should’ve. For one thing, I can hear whatever bullshit blockbuster playing next door booming its bass through the walls. But even worse, a couple of rows behind us sat a mother who brought along her kids who happily walked up and down the theater and stomped around on the row behind us and did that fucking annoying mumbling thing that these little snots do and the whole time nobody else — not my cousin, not the people in front of us, not the lady in her Air Force blues — seemed fazed or bothered by it. I was the only one and it was driving me mad. And when I brought it up with my cousin after the movie, he said he didn’t notice. What the fuck? Am I the asshole? Am I losing my mind? Or is this how movie audiences in San Antonio get down? I don’t fucking know, man!

But it’s OK because I ended up seeing it again a few days later back home practically for free (thanks AMC Stubs A-List!) and this screening was especially peachy because I was the only one in the theater. Which is really the best of both worlds for me, to see a movie in an empty theater because that’s where I am in life, that’s the fuckin’ misanthropic piece of shit I grew up to be. I wasn’t always like this, but you know, fuckin’ people, man. Maybe if I spent my youth watching less movie rentals at home alone and more time hanging out with asshole skaters more I’d have a different outlook by now. But I didn’t, so I don’t.

But I guess Jonah Hill did and that’s how this movie came about. I think. I mean, I don’t know how much of is based on his life, and I really don’t care — because it doesn’t matter and because I don’t give two shits about that creepy fuck.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that little detail — I fucking can’t stand Jonah Hill. He seems like he really is the characters he plays, or at least he is most convincing as an actor when he is playing fat scumbags, and I’m sure it’s a matter of time before it comes out in the news that he Cosbys chicks or something. I see him in The Wolf of Wall Street and I don’t see him playing a character, I feel I’m seeing the real him. I bet you this motherfucker has screamed at his mom to shut the fuck up too, and he’s probably graduated to yelling that shit to whatever desperate wannabe starlet is currently blowing her way up his casting couch. It wouldn’t be so bad were it not for him being in cast in movies that I want to see, because then he would be easily avoidable.

So think about the good laugh God is having at the fact that I dropped serious ducats to fly 1200 miles away from home just to see a movie written and directed by a probable piece of shit in an everyday multiplex occupied by rowdy roaming children who made sure I couldn’t even really enjoy the movie. Well, laugh all you want, ma’am, because in the end I got to hang out with my cousin and watch a movie with him, just like we did in the good old days — and that’s what really matters.

OK, OK, I know what you’re thinking after hearing my Jonah Hill rant. You’re probably thinking, “Ah, you’re just jealous because he’s rich and famous and working with people like Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino and he’s probably living an awesome life and you’re stuck in your dead-end existence and with each birthday you’re getting farther and further away from your dreams and let’s be real, your window of opportunity passed about ten years ago and you’re gonna probably die poor and miserable and full of regrets and bitterness, so all you can do now is talk shit about the goddamn winners in life while they continue to win and you remain stagnant in your pool of failure, you fucking pussy.”

ohmygod

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The tin duck

Posted in A Christmas Carol (1999), douchebag, podcast, ramblings of a loser, Uncategorized with tags , , on December 29, 2018 by efcontentment

Click here to download the podcast version of these ramblings!

 

About a month ago, I was eating lunch in the park when this man who appeared to be in his sixties walked up to me with a notebook and a pen. I looked at him in his white button-down shirt and black pants and figured, oh great, what is this asshole gonna try to sell me.

The man was very apologetic and proceeded to give me this whole tale about how he needed to pay for a procedure he was going to have or already had, I don’t remember, because by that point I was too busy noticing that the man only had half a jaw and I’m guessing the procedure had something to do with that. I’m sure I also heard the word “cancer” somewhere during his spiel, but I couldn’t be too sure because I was too busy processing the overwhelming sight of a man with HALF A FUCKING JAW.

Now I don’t know if this was special effects, maybe it was. But it looked real. This guy was trying his best to talk and he did pretty well considering his condition. What he was asking for was a loan of any amount to help pay for the procedure. He needed something like $1500 and he already collected  about $1100. He showed me that he had the names and addresses of the people who loaned him money in his notebook, plus the amount they loaned him. It was a thick notebook and nearly all the pages had been filled out. He said he was going to make it his mission in life to pay everybody back as soon as he could.

For all I know this half-jawed gentleman was full of shit. I mean, he probably was, he probably got half his jaw shot off in a gang fight or something and now he was using this as a way to make some money off of people and he’ll probably then have one of his buddies break into these people’s houses and steal shit or kill them or rape them or all of the above.

But if there’s any possibility of his story checking out 100-percent, well, I’d rather err on the side of wanting to be helpful.

But there was something else — a nagging feeling somewhere within, and it always comes up when someone comes up to me and asks for help or charity of some kind. It’s a kind of fear, a fear of I don’t know what, maybe fear of some kind of karmic retribution or something. Maybe the person asking me is really a beautiful enchantress with the power to turn me into a beast or a gypsy with the power to curse me to keep losing weight until I’m nothing but skin and bones.

Or maybe I really am a sucker who wants to help. Whatever the case, I ended up giving him $20 but I didn’t give him my name or address. I told him there was no need to pay me back; he could pay me back by doing a kindness for somebody else who needed it. Also, I didn’t want to risk being home invaded by his friends.

Whether it was true or not, his story felt real enough and if it wasn’t, at least he put in some effort into the ruse, and that’s all I ask for. Just make the effort. Don’t just walk up and be like “Hey man, got some money?” This dude gave me a notebook, a story that worked on my emotions, and oh yeah, HALF A FUCKING JAW.

But I don’t think all the Greg Nicotero special effects makeup in the world could convince somebody like Ebenezer Scrooge to give any amount aside from the grand total of jack shit, based on how I saw him treat a couple of dudes taking up donations. But more on that a little later.

Well, thanks for the trailer, TNT, I guess nobody has to see this movie anymore, now that you’ve told the whole story. Don’t see any point in rambling about this. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everybody!

I’m kidding. Most of us know the story already, so it’s really about the telling, right? There are many film adaptations of Charles Dickens’ immortal classic A Christmas Carol, and in her second long-unfulfilled request, Karen from Florida has asked me to ramble about one of them. With her help, I narrowed it down to either the 1984 version starring George C. Scott or the 1999 version starring Patrick Stewart.

I ended up going with the Stewart film because I’d never seen it, and also because if I went with the Scott version, the entire time I’d just be making references to that scene in the film Hardcore where he watches a porno starring his daughter. Trust me, I can make lots of references to that. I suppose I could do the same with Stewart by making “Star Trek” references, so I’ll do my best to keep them to a minimum.

All right, so for those who came in late, I was saying earlier that the main character of this tale, Ebenezer Scrooge, is pretty harsh with a couple of dudes who are looking for donations to help supply food and warmth to the less fortunate in this cold and bleak 19th century London. They tell him how tough it is our there and that people can die from such poor conditions, and this piece of work responds with something like “Well, they should die as soon as possible, that way can stop suckling on the city’s titties.”

To be fair, these donation dudes kinda brought it onto themselves; when they visit Scrooge and give them the whole spiel about helping feed and shelter the poor and hungry, they end it by asking how much money he plans to give. That’s mighty presumptuous, guys. You can’t assume everybody is going to want to give, you gotta close it out by saying something like how appreciative you’d be and how helpful it would be if the person could donate any amount if possible. No matter what, you have to ask, just to be polite — kinda like the no-jaw dude who hit me up. He had no jaw and he still asked politely, he didn’t assume.

If I had to guess, I would say Scrooge is the kind of person who throws in the word “bootstraps” a lot. Usually, you can tell who is and isn’t a jerk is by whether or not they use the word “bootstraps” preceded by something like how a person should pick him or herself up by them. Not that I’m against working hard in an attempt to elevate yourself to a better station in life, I mean, I have no issues with the concept of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.

It’s just that in my experience, the people who usually say that are people who didn’t actually have to do that. It’s usually those who were born into money or had more than a few other hands pulling their bootstraps for them. Now, I’m not saying that those who were born into privilege or were closer to achieving their goals should feel some kind of shame or guilt or should have to keep their mouths shut about how others should be working hard for what they want. I’m just saying there’s a way to say all of that without sounding and looking like an asshole.

Scrooge doesn’t say “bootstraps” but he does have a moment later on where he remarks on how a young girl already has a job, and he’s saying it like Wow, this girl is a real go-getter! and he doesn’t understand that this girl has no choice but to work because her family is dirt poor. Because there’s a big difference between getting a part-time job after school so you can buy sneakers, and having to get a full time job — forget school at this point — in order to help feed the rest of your family because your father’s employer is a lousy skinflint named Scrooge.

Yeah, Scrooge only has one employee at his money-lending firm, his clerk Bob Cratchit — played by his future antagonist in Logan, Richard E. Grant — and while it seems like this place does all right, you wouldn’t know it from how stingy he is when it comes to keeping the place warm; Cratchit wants to add a couple of measly chunks of coal to the fire and Scrooge is like, you better put some water on that damn shit — no, no, he says to just poke the current coals and keep what little fire there is barely burning.

It kills Scrooge to spend money, it just kills him that he has to give Cratchit a paid holiday on Christmas Day — and he has to say this poor old Bob, he can’t keep it to himself. Why do people do things like that? Let the poor guy enjoy his one paid day off, man.

On top of that, Scrooge has no use for Christmas. No, he’s not Jewish or a Jehovah’s Witness or Phoebe Cates in Gremlins, he’s just a miserable man; a group of Christmas carolers know better than to go sing in front of Scrooge’s place — except for one poor child who learns that to go sing to Scrooge is to invite a possible Singapore-style caning.

I love Christmas but I might be with Ebenezer when it comes to carolers. I figure back then carolers were like the flash mobs of their day, which is to say that it’s really more about themselves than in the people they’re purporting to be entertaining.

Anyway, Scrooge’s nephew Fred shows up all joyous and triumphant about the holiday and Scrooge doesn’t want to hear it, it’s like it irritates him that other people have hope and joy during this time of year. He apparently doesn’t know about the high suicide rate during this time, otherwise he’d probably dig Christmas a lot more.

I wondered why Scrooge was so cold towards his nephew, he seems to be upset that Fred is able to enjoy the holiday season despite not being as up on the monetary hustle as he’d like to be. Scrooge also seems to disapprove of Fred’s marriage. Like, why does it bother him so much that Fred is married? Does Scrooge have a bit of a thing for Fred, like some pervy forbidden taboo love between uncle and nephew, or is it more of a player hater kind of thing, because Scrooge messed up his chance at true love right around the same age that Fred found his? I’m thinking maybe the latter. But I won’t count out the former, because a very sick man like me loves the idea that Scrooge dreams of making his nephew cry uncle, if you know what I mean.

I mean he wants to bang his nephew, is what I mean.

Fred, by the way, is played by Dominic West, or as I prefer to call him, McNulty from the HBO series “The Wire”. Man, I’d been hearing about the show for years, and it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I finally got around to seeing it, and you know what? It’s as good as everybody says it is. Although considering how things are going nowadays in this wonderful big blue world, I don’t think I will ever give a series as cynical and depressing and true to life like that one a rewatch ever again.

Speaking of depressing and true to life, you could’ve made a 19th century version of “The Wire” with this London setting. It’s very glum and there’s no chance of Christmas cheer in how things look, which I think is the idea — I mean, I think that’s the idea, you know, finding the ability to enjoy this time of year regardless of your surroundings. We see that in the way Bob Cratchit and his family are able to make the most of what little they have during their Christmas dinner, and how appreciative and happy for what they have, as meager as it is.

Then there’s a sequence where Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present watch as various people celebrate Christmas by singing “Silent Night”; the keepers of a lighthouse, the crew on a cargo ship, workers at a mining facility — not the most ideal of conditions to be in good cheer, and yet, they are able to have the Christmas spirit. Even if the conditions were better, these people are working on Christmas Eve, which has to be a little bit of a bummer — for those who celebrate the holiday anyway.

Oh yeah, I forgot about the whole Ghosts of Christmas deal. OK, for those who aren’t familiar with A Christmas Carol, what happens is that Scrooge gets visited by his old business partner Jacob Marley, which sounds all fine and dandy except for the fact that Jacob Marley has been dead for seven years. Marley tells Scrooge that the afterlife sucks because he’s forever tortured by his past actions — or more like his past inactions, because like Scrooge, Marley didn’t do shit for his fellow man and was just as much a tightwad as Ebenezer. Now he’s wearing heavy chains he can’t take off and walking around all morose and shit, being as much a drag as those heavy ass chains.

Scrooge tries to dismiss this as hallucinations brought on by indigestion or maybe someone dosed his stew, the same way somebody dosed James Cameron’s clam chowder on the set of Titanic in a possible attempt to Christmas Carol that Hollywood Scrooge. But Marley doesn’t let up, and he has some tricks to really get into the old man’s head that this is in fact The Real Deal.

Marley then gives Scrooge a peek into the lives of the dead, specifically those who like Jacob Marley, led selfish and uncaring lives. Now they have to spend the rest of forever watching the living who in need of help, and these sad specters are unable to do anything about it because they’re dead. Their opportunity to do something has passed. This is a lesson they’ve learned too late. But it’s not too late for Scrooge!

At least that’s the idea, and to help prevent Scrooge from getting fitted for his own chain ensemble, three ghosts will visit him: The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. The Ghost of Christmas Past is played by Joel Grey, who looks like a pale transgender in mid-transition here. That’s not a knock against transgenders, by the way, I’ve met plenty of transgenders at functions and parties and they’ve all turned me down.

Anyway, GC Past shows Scrooge his, uh, past as a little Scrooge, taking him back to his old school — which Ebenezer seems pretty jazzed about. I don’t know, man, maybe you had a better time back then than I did. You take me back to my old school and I’d probably start going into convulsions before reaching towards the small of my back for a pistol that I’m not carrying. The fun ends for Scrooge, though, once he sees himself as a sad little boy all alone in class because his father is a piece of shit.

This is the second film in a row that I’ve rambled about featuring grown-up assholes who were raised that way by their asshole fathers. The first was both versions of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast — which I guess makes this movie the third film in a row — and now this one. And both were requested by Karen from Florida. If you’re trying to tell me what I think you’re trying to tell me, well let me make it clear, ma’am: I wasn’t raised to be a douchebag, my father was great to me — as is my mother. No, ma’am, my high level achievements of being A-Prick-Number-One are a result of being a self made kind of shitheel. Now this could mean one of two things: the whole “bad father equals bad son” thing is bullshit, or maybe I, much like Michael Myers, was just born under a bad star.

I’m pure evil, is what I’m trying to tell you good people. It’s why I keep to myself. I’m a loner, Dottie, a rebel. And you don’t want any of me. Unless you’re ready to give up the goods. And by goods, I mean sex and/or food, but not both at the same time.

GC Past then shows Scrooge an older younger version of himself, back when he was working for Mr. Fezziwig. Now that’s a cool boss, right there; Fezziwig is very cheerful — at least during his company’s Christmas party — and he insists that all employees who are still working to stop what they’re doing ’cause he’s about to ruin the image and the style that they’re used to: that is, if the image and style is of a Scrooge type who won’t take a break to enjoy life every once in a while. You see Fezziwig and his family getting down with their bad selves on the sing & dance floor, and even Ebenezer knows to have some fun because he hasn’t grown into old Scrooge yet.

Let me talk about office Christmas parties. I can do without those too. In fact, I have been doing without them for most of my work life, as well as any other social functions and gatherings at my places of employment. I’m polite to my co-workers and treat them with kindness and respect, but I don’t want to be reminded of work during my free time. It’s my time! It’s why I’ve turned down company softball games and work picnics and Christmas parties. I don’t want any of these assholes to see me drunk — hell, I don’t want anyone to see me drunk, and I certainly don’t want to see any of those assholes drunk, fuck those guys.

Old Scrooge gets to observe Young Scrooge fuck it up with the love of his life, but is it really his fault? I get where he’s coming from — he’s not ready to marry poor because he’s trying to make that fuckin’ money, bro. It’s like the great Tony Montana once said: First you make the money, then you get the power, and then you marry your sweetheart. Stewart is great in the film, but I really liked his performance during this scene, as he witnesses one of the biggest — perhaps the biggest mistake of his life — and starts talking back at his young self like some overly emotional housewife watching her “stories”.

After that, comes The Ghost of Christmas Present, who’s a big dude in a robe, looking like party animal from a frat house movie. He ends up showing Scrooge that whole deal with the various people having Christmas spirit, singing “Silent Night”, despite of or in spite of their situations, preceded by the whole Christmas dinner at the Cratchit crib, where the lovely family digs into their meal — Christmas goose with all the trimmings, followed by plum pudding. It all looks nice but it’s all too small for a family that big — which is what an overeater would say.

Because when you really look at the portions given to the Cratchit clan, that really is the ideal serving size. It’s how much we’re all supposed to eat — particularly we heavy Americans, who eat our food in way too large portions. Also, why so many kids? Great googily moogily, Bob, couldn’t you keep it in your pants a couple times here and there? You know what, I take that back, Bob — I can see why you and Mrs. Bob would do so much fucking. I mean you have to keep warm in that cold weather somehow.

Scrooge, this fuckin’ miser, he asks GC Present about the infirm Cratchit boy Tiny Tim, he wants to know if things will get better for him and GC Present responds with something like “I see an empty seat and a crutch without an owner….something something if the future doesn’t change, the child will die”. That line and the delivery of that line, left me thinking what a great public service announcement it would make, preferably played on digital over-the-air television.

Have you ever watched digital over-the-air television? I’m talking about those stations that have dashes between the numbers, the ones that show cool old programs and cool old game shows. They’re really cool but then come the commercial breaks and it’s always a horror show filled with injured old people, dead old people, mistreated animals, dead animals, and kids with cancer. So an ad for some kind of charity towards helping little gimpy kids would be great with that line about the empty chair and crutch.

GC Present then takes Scrooge over to Fred’s house where they’re all having a great time, friends and family alike. “It’s been so long” says Scrooge, regarding the old timey Christmas dinner party games being played. Man, it’s been so long for me as well. The last time I played a game at a Christmas party, it was 14 years ago and we played Jenga Truth or Dare.

It’s a good thing they didn’t have Jenga Truth or Dare back in Scrooge’s day, because one of the guests is this fuckin’ panty-sniffing creep named Topper, who should be thanking his lucky stars they hadn’t invented sex offender registries yet. Although considering how long ago this story takes place, they probably hadn’t invented the term “sex offender”, that was just how gentlemen rolled. You had to be Jack the Ripper to be considered doing something wrong to a lady back then. God, Topper made my skin crawl, talking to ladies about their “pretty little mouths” and making sure there’s mistletoe in the immediate vicinity of his most likely syphilitic johnson. Who knows what this bucket of unwanted sex would’ve done with something like Jenga Truth or Dare.

Following all that pervitude, Scrooge gets the ghost he fears the most: The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, looking like a half-decent Halloween display outside one of those Halloween stores that only operates during September and October out of some recently closed business. The Ghost shows Ebenezer how his homies at the stock exchange will not really give much of a care about him after hearing news of his death. They’ll only attend the funeral if food is being served, which I kinda understand too, provided we’re talking about serving the food after the funeral. That would be weird to eat during the actual service.

It all bums Scrooge out, the way people react about his him going tits up. Some of the help from his house end up selling his silk shirts and bed curtains, and even the undertaker makes some money off of him. Nobody seems particularly bothered, save maybe Fred, but in most cases, people’s lives are improved, such as the couple who were in debt to Scrooge, but now that he’s merged with the infinite, they have time to save up and pay the new piper.

I think at this point, Scrooge would’ve been like “Fuck it, if these assholes are going to ditch my funeral and sell the fillings from my teeth, I might as well keep up the shitty attitude and really earn my postmortem disrespect!” but then of course, here comes Tiny Tim to gum up the works with his own death, and now Scrooge is super bummed. Then he catches the sight of his sad-ass tombstone and his cold-ass corpse in the coffin and for some reason he embraces his own corpse and off they go, swan-diving cheek-to-cheek into the black void like a couple of twin fruits.

But it was all a dream! Scrooge used to read Word Up magazine! And now he’s awake, back in the real world and he hasn’t missed Christmas! He’s so overjoyed at this, he tries to laugh but it’s such an alien reflex to him at this point, it takes him like half a minute of choke-filled attempts before he finally gets it right and laughs like a goddamn human being again. He then pays some street urchin to buy the biggest goose this side of Footloose and send it over to the Cratchit residence — but he makes sure that it’s done anonymously, so that Bob and company don’t know who the goose is from.

I like that, it shows real altruism, that move. Most people in Scrooge’s place would’ve made sure that Cratchit would know who got his goose, for the same reason I want the baristas at Starbucks to see me when I put a buck in the tip jar. Scrooge is so beyond that bullshit by this point, he doesn’t care and maybe it’ll have Cratchit believe it was some kind of Christmas miracle HAHAHAHAHAHA miracle.

Scrooge then goes to church because He is the reason for the season, you know. We gotta remember who put the Christ in Christmas, and that’s something you heathens don’t understand and will never understand unless you give yourself to the one true God. Instead, you try to make it secular for all the libtards who hate my Christ, love paying taxes, and want to take my guns away. Well to that third part, I quote my good boys from Gonzales, Texas: Come and take it.

The following day, Scrooge pulls one of those bullshit pranks where he acts like he’s pissed off at Bob for coming in late, and he talks all serious to him, until he pulls back the false dickhead facade and reveals himself to be the new and improved Scrooge by giving Cratchit a raise and allowing him to warm up the place with all the coal his heart desires. Then McNulty narrates over footage of the Cratchit family visiting Ebenezer — including Tiny Tim, who did not die — talking about how “ever afterwards, he knew how to keep Christmas well” and I start tearing up and getting choked up because that’s where I am in my life, I fuckin’ cry at everything, especially with stories like this, because the older I get and the more I experience in this life, the more these tales about people changing their negative ways to become better people increasingly feel like science fiction.

What they don’t show us is Scrooge visiting his supposed pals at the stock exchange, followed by giving them a solid thrashing with his cane for being fake people showing fake love to him, straight up to his face, straight up to his face. But I guess I’ll have to make that version myself, where I devote a good twenty minutes to Scrooge taking care of business with those stock exchange fucks by giving them a little stick time.

OK, well, I pretty much went through the whole movie but you already knew the story — so the question is: how does this 1999 adaptation of A Christmas Carol do in telling it?

Pretty damn well, I think. This has less of a Christmas-y feel to it compared to others, but I think in exchange for that, there’s a bit more of a, I don’t know — real tone to it? The setting is suitably bleak and a good part of that should be credited to the production designer, Roger Hall, who had previously worked on such classics as Chariots of Fire and Highlander II: The Quickening. One of those films won the Academy Award for Best Picture, by the way.

I haven’t read the Dickens story in nearly two decades, but based on what I remember of it, this adaptation is very close, including things like that “Silent Night” sequence, which I don’t remember ever being in other film versions of the Scrooge story.

The film was directed by David Jones, a stage director who went on to work on television shows like “Law & Order: SVU” and films like Jacknife starring Robert De Niro. He does a fine job telling the story, moving things along at a fine clip and getting good performances from his cast. Speaking of which, Patrick Stewart is solid as Ebenezer Scrooge, but I feel his doesn’t quite match up in comparison to previous Scrooges like Alastair Sim and George C. Scott. He doesn’t seem as particularly upset by the otherworldly sights he’s treated to, it’s a little too stiff upper lip compared to the way other Scrooges handle seeing ghosts and freaky mutated ghoulish children named Want and Ignorance and Tiny Tim. I think what he does best is show us the regret Scrooge feels over his past mistakes during the Ghost of Christmas Past sequence.

More than anything, I was left wishing I had seen one of Patrick Stewart’s one-man performances of A Christmas Carol, where he played over thirty characters without the use of props or costume changes. He’s performed the play on and off since the late 80s, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to do it again anytime soon, which is too bad because it sounds fascinating. I now kinda wish they filmed one of his shows rather than make yet another standard film version of the Dickens classic. But they did make another standard film version of the Dickens classic, but it’s a good one, so I’m not complaining. I can definitely see myself checking this one out again come next December.

OK, that’s it. I haven’t done a rundown like that in a while, where I pretty much just go through the movie from beginning to end, but I figure it’s no secret to most people how this story plays out, so why not.

Anyway, if you happen to be reading this during the holidays, have fun and be safe.

Also, this won’t mean anything to those who are listening to the podcast which is only a few episodes old at the time of this recording, but the day that I’m putting this out, December 25th, in this foul year of Our Lord 2018 also happens to be the tenth anniversary of the Exiled from Contentment blog, from where these ramblings come from. I can’t help but feel it’s all been a colossal waste of time. But hey, it beats sitting on my ass and doing nothing, right?

Don’t answer that.

Not worth the wait.

Posted in Beauty and the Beast (1991), Beauty and the Beast (2017), douchebag, podcast, ramblings of a loser, Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 22, 2018 by efcontentment

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE PODCAST VERSION OF THESE RAMBLINGS

There was an advertisement from one of those charities that help out wounded veterans, and I felt both sympathy and a great feeling of gratitude to all those brave men and women who served in the military and fought in the name of this great country that I was lucky enough to be born in — the United States of America.

They are the ones who were sent to fight, and while some were wounded physically, others came back with wounds of the soul, returning home only to find that the sunlight was no longer as bright as it used to be.

I knew a man like this. We weren’t close friends, but he lived in my neighborhood and I’d run into him from time to time. I never knew his name but everybody knew him by the nickname “Easy”, because he always took life that way. After high school, Easy joined the Marine Corps, and a year-and-a-half later he was sent Over There. I didn’t hear about him after that, having moved on from the neighborhood myself.

A few years later, I was back home for Thanksgiving, and before meeting the family I had stopped at a bar for some liquid fortification. As I exited the bar, I saw Easy standing by himself across the street, his head tilted upwards, staring out at something apparently only he could see. He was unshaven, wearing a stained shirt, wrinkled worn out cargo shorts, and was now about a hundred pounds heavier.

I called out to him but he did not respond. I called out again — louder this time — and he looked over in my direction, a medicinally glazed look in his eyes. He slowly nodded to me while giving me a weak open-mouthed smile. Easy did not recognize me but had done his best to give a polite acknowledgement.

“It’s no use, bro” said the man standing a few feet behind me, smoking a cigarette. “Easy hasn’t been the same since he came back from Afghanistan. Something there broke him.”

I looked back at Easy, who had gone back to staring at the invisible, and I nodded back to him before walking away.

Wow. This guy, Easy — he seemed so together and now he’s barely a shadow of his former self. The stuff he saw over there must’ve really messed him up, and if so — what a fuckin’ pussy.

Shit. It’s one thing to have experienced war back in the 1930s and 40s when all Johnny America knew was small towns and Daisy the high school sweetheart, who he was going to marry as soon as he came back home. It was so innocent back then, when American ingenuity and know-how were Number One.

Back then, America was great, Negroes knew their place, and all Our Boys knew before going to battle was apple pie and “Moonlight Serenade”. Back then everybody wanted to fight the Krauts and the Japs — and they had no idea what was in store for them, so of course it made sense that they came back with scarred souls after seeing their friends lose arms and legs and their dying buddies piss and shit themselves while crying for mommy. But c’mon, man. Since then, we’ve had countless films that have presented war in the most vividly graphic terms — exploding heads, severed limbs, miles of exposed guts, rape, murder, suicide, dehumanization, atrocity after atrocity, and the screaming OH MY GOD the screaming.

After all those movies and television shows and documentaries with old survivors, how can someone still come home all fucked in the head? You’ve been fuckin’ programmed to be desensitized to it by now, how the fuck can you come home all wacky in the cabeza?

Jesus Christ, Easy — you played hours and hours of “Mortal Kombat”, “Grand Theft Auto”, “Call of Duty”, you watched fake death on Faces of Death and real death on YouTube and yet somehow the sight of Private First Class Duggan shoving the barrel of his M4 up some Haji’s rectum is gonna give you nightmares?

Yo yo yo yo yo Easy Easy Easy — how is it that you, a fuckin’ failed cholo millennial who’s seen all those movies and actually trained for that madness still come back a shell of your former self, while a soldier in the 18th Century — a Frenchman, of all people — not only came back OK from his battles, but still had a thirst for killing that he satisfied by being a badass hunter? I’m talking about Gaston, you fuckin’ Hispanic Birdy, I’m talking about the motherfucker from the 2017 film Beauty and the Beast.

This is a request from Karen from Orlando, Florida and I will withhold her last name to save her from both public humiliation and possible loss of employment due to being associated with me. Karen has requested this film over a year ago and like everything else, it took forever but I finally got around to rambling about this film — thanks to it being available on Netflix, which I was able to easily access through my sister’s account.

Beauty and the Beast is a live action adaptation of Disney’s 1991 animated film of the same nameYes, I know about the 1946 version directed by Jean Cocteau, but that wasn’t part of the request, so you film geeks can quit your whining and go back to throwing yourselves off bridges because they got rid of Filmstruck. 

It’s directed by Bill Condon, who also directed the Oscar-winning film adaptation of Dreamgirls, the Oscar-nominated film Kinsey, and a movie that I’m sure someone with the name “Oscar” really liked, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh. He also won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film Gods and Monsters.

This is a tale about a strapping young beast of a man named Gaston, a former captain in the French army turned current animal hunter who has the whole town of stupid peasant proles wrapped around his strong finger. This man knows he’s the shit and everybody else agrees, as we see and hear during one of the film’s many musical sequences, this one focusing on the man himself.

Gaston has everything he needs: the admiration of an entire town, the company of his close gay friend Lefou, and all the single ladies are on his jock 24/7. But like most of us human beings, Gaston doesn’t know how to appreciate what he has and instead wastes his time and energy on going after what he doesn’t have — some weirdo bookworm named Belle.

She’s played by Emma Watson, who turned down the lead in La La Land to do this movie, which financially was a good move on her part; Beauty and the Beast didn’t get the Oscar attention of the other film, it ended up making about three times more at the box office — profits of which Miss Watson was contractually entitled a decent chunk.

Meanwhile, Ryan Gosling turned down this movie to do La La Land, and so he and Watson passed each other like two pretty ships in the night going opposite directions.

So yeah, this chick thinks she’s too good for my boy, she has this whole thing about wanting to leave the village she lives in because she thinks she’s too good for this town. I don’t get people like that, but maybe it’s because I never grew up in a small boring ass town either. I grew up in a decent suburban area with malls and mini-malls and plenty of chain restaurants and movie theaters and bars and that’s really all I needed. If I wanted to see a beautiful view from a mountain side, I could go the local library and rent Cliffhanger. Nowadays, I can just look that shit up online.

Eventually, I moved but I always remained in and around Southern California because I like the weather and I like the women. The women don’t like me — neither do the men, for that matter — but that doesn’t stop me from introducing myself to new ones at a friend’s baby shower and making a bigger ass than usual: Oh hi guys, I’m Princess Sparkle, oh hi I really appreciate how you would thank me by my name when I picked up my tickets at the booth, oh hi there, you go to the New Beverly Cinema too? Did you hear about how the owner Quentin Tarantino installed new cameras on the floor, that way  he can see everybody’s feet a-hyuk a-hyuk a-hyuk hey, where’s everybody going? Hey sir, can I borrow your gun, I just need it for a second *gunshot*

Then the pain ends.

Except it didn’t, because nobody had a gun — this is pussy ass Southern California, after all, the only thing these liberals carry concealed is their medical marijuana card.

Anyway, yeah, Belle — a name that sounds a lot like Bella, the name of the girl from the Twilight books and movies. No wonder they got Bill Condon to direct this — he also directed some of those Twilight movies. But don’t hold that against him, I mean, homeboy’s gotta make those mansion payments somehow.

So Belle is bored with her small town because they don’t have Applebees or a Sonic, and she’s not down with the same routine day in and day out, and reading all those books have infected her brain with the idea of a great big old world out there filled with so much to do. She wants a life like the ones in the books she reads, and well, guess what, honey — it is! This film and the 1991 animated joint are based on the French fairy tale La Belle et la Bête and if you only knew what was going to happen to you, girl!

And what does happen to her? She ends up in this spooky run-down castle somewhere out in the boondocks because that’s where her goofy-ass father ended up. The poor old man was trying to get some peace and quiet because he can’t even fix a goddamn clock at home without hearing his daughter sing all over town, so yeah, he took off with his horse and then some wolves try to eat him and now he’s locked up in a dungeon and his jailer is this big ugly beast named Beast.

We never know what Beast’s real name is but I’m guessing it’s Prince Douchebag, because the opening scene shows us that before he was the Beast we all know and fear, he was this young handsome wealthy prince, and like most handsome wealthy princes, this guy was a douchenozzle twatface asshole who wouldn’t know empathy if it came into his home on a dark and stormy night asking for shelter. Nope, he would look at this old lady and laugh in her face — this fucking human garbage who grew up with everything and yet that wasn’t enough for him, he’s taxing people and using the money to buy more stuff he doesn’t need. Yeah, not only does he laugh in her face, even his servants and employees laugh at her.

It fuckin’ figures it’d be that way; we all want to be the motherfucker, and if we can’t, we’ll settle for  riding the motherfucker’s coattails because even being on the motherfucker’s coattails is a higher level than the rest of the peons. And I’m like OK fine, if you want to be that way, then enjoy your slightly higher status in life, but don’t look down on those below you as if you were King Shit of Fuck Mountain, because you’re not. That’s the same kind of unearned asinine behavior exhibited by maitre d’s and house n’s.

But if you are gonna be that way and join your master in Ha Ha Ha-ing the poors, then you better be ready to take any possible punishment headed your boss’ way. Because this old lady? This old lady that the prince and his people are laughing at, well, she actually happens to be a beautiful enchantress — and these people are so fucked, it’s fucking beautiful, man.

The enchantress curses the prince and his servants and makes it so that the people who knew them don’t know them anymore, so basically these assholes won’t be missed. Prince Douchebag is turned into a beast and the servants are turned into walking/talking furniture, appliances, and various other housewares — even the dog gets it, which I’m fine with because I’m sure that dog ate human food everyday like a king and ran around biting beggars in the butt.

This prince tried to beg forgiveness from the enchantress, but when it comes to this chick once you’re fucked, you’re fucked and there’s no turning back, you can’t even offer an insincere apology the way most celebrities do on social media after they’ve been caught being scumbags.

I like that because that’s how I roll. I don’t believe in forgiving pieces of shit. Like the song says, it’s easy to be hard — and that’s why I use up so much energy everyday in not being an asshole. It’s why I get so exhausted at the end of the day and go to sleep after I get home from work, causing me to not work on this blog/podcast and next thing you know, I have a backlog of three or four of these goddamn things and I still haven’t written about the Aero Horrorthon back in October even though it’s just about Christmas right now. But as tired as I get, I still manage to say Please, Thank You, and Excuse Me to people — people who don’t even have the common courtesy to return the favor.

Everyday I have to see these people living awesome lives despite having zero empathy or sympathy or any pathys for their fellow human and very rarely do these amoebas get their comeuppance — so when I see or hear of actual justice being served to these people, well, lady and gentleman, to be as delicate as I can be with what I’m about to say:

It gets my dick hard.

So imagine how much Viagra I didn’t need seeing what happens to this dude — cursed to live as a Beast all alone in that castle — talking furniture doesn’t count, chief — and nobody from the outside world even remembers that he exists.

Later in the film, we find out that his assholishness wasn’t something he was born with, he was raised to be a shit by his shit father — much like our current president. But unlike *that* walking shit stain, Beast eventually shows himself later in the film to be a kinder and deeper person than we took him for — which I think is supposed to be a way to get the audience to be more sympathetic towards the guy, but I don’t buy it. I think that’s just what the curse did to him.

What I’m saying is, if you live an awesome life with zero consequences, you’re not going to change. If anything, you might actually start pushing it to see how much you can get away with, because that’s just human nature. But if something or someone knocks the wind out of your sails and your awesome life isn’t so awesome anymore, you’re going to eventually have to adapt to a new way of living, not out of a sudden realization that your fellow man deserves respect and kindness, no — but because you have no choice.

It’s like this: say you’re a hot chick, right? You’re a hot chick and so your life is pretty cool because everybody wants to bang you. But then somewhere along the way, you hit the wall and guess what? You don’t look like Ava Gardner anymore.

Suddenly your jokes aren’t so funny, you start getting called out on your lack of manners, and your questionable personal hygiene isn’t acceptable anymore. No longer fuckable, you have to adapt your way of life and be nice to people, and you better learn to juggle or play the piano or something because these bills aren’t gonna pay themselves either.

Well, the Prince was a hot dude and so there you go.

So Belle goes to the castle to free her father and ends up taking his place as the Beast’s prisoner, but ends up getting to know the Beast better in his adapted state and she starts digging the dude and he’s starts digging on her because she’s a nice person who appreciates his immense library — plus it’s been a long time since he banged a lady, and I’m sure he hasn’t even been able to get rid of the poison on his own, on account of all this sentient furniture in his castle.

I mean, I wouldn’t be able to jerk off knowing that my bed is alive and can see and hear what I’m doing. I can’t go the bathroom to do it because the sink, toilet, and shower can see what I’m doing. I can’t go outside because then one of those wolves will bite it off and even if they didn’t, I certainly can’t convince one of them to let me put it inside him, because I don’t know if you know but wolves are extremely homophobic.

In the meantime, my boy Gaston tries to help free Belle, but when her stupid father tells Gaston that she would never marry him, Gaston leaves his ungrateful ass out in the weeds where he belongs.

But I think the movie is trying to say that what Gaston did was wrong.

Once I got over the fact that the film was going to focus on Belle and the Beast and not on the awesome Gaston, I was able to enjoy what played out for the most part. The new songs didn’t really do it for me but the songs from the 1991 film still sound nice. Emma Watson does a fine job singing them but she was nothing spectacular, either. But hey, she doesn’t embarrass herself and I think the dude playing the Beast is a better singer overall but maybe I’m the last person you’d want an opinion on singing, considering that I thought Pierce Brosnan did OK in the Mamma Mia! movies.

Acting-wise, I thought Watson and the Beast were pretty good together, there’s nothing wrong there.

I also dug the interactions between all the items in the castle; they’re voiced by Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellan, and Emma Thompson. They were my favorite characters in the film, and I honestly would’ve preferred a lot more of them and less of Belle and the Beast because there scenes are a lot more fun to watch. What I’m saying is that I felt that in their attempt to make a more grown-up version of the animated film — specifically during the scenes between Belle and Beast — the filmmakers sometimes confused “grown-up” with “dull” and so I found myself checking the time more than I should.

It’s not like I had anywhere to go or something, but I kept checking my non-existent watch as if I did. This film is about forty minutes longer than the animated film, and I definitely felt the extra running time without feeling I got much out of it. It felt less like a deeper and more detailed version of the story and more like a simple story being padded out for reasons I don’t understand. If I did understand, I’d be making these goddamn movies rather than bitching about them.

Things get a lot more interesting in the final third, when things come to a climax with the stupid villagers storming the castle and getting their asses handed to them by a candelabra, a harpsichord, a feather duster, and a teapot and teacup. They’ll never be able to live that embarrassing shit down.

But a few of them will leave the experience wiser and happier; three of these assholes are Gaston’s friends, or as Cogsworth the walking/talking clock calls them, “third rate Musketeers”. And when they end up getting swallowed up by a walking/talking wardrobe, they are spat out dressed in women’s clothing. This freaks out two of the Musketeers, while one is left digging his new look — a moment that I’m sure left the more conservative members of the audience walking out in a huff over what they feel is Disney’s pro-perversion propaganda:

“How am I supposed to explain to my child why there are Men who like to dress up as women?!”

It’s easy, sir. In the same manner that you take your kid aside to tell him or her why the Chinese can’t be trusted or that the Jews control the media, you tell this fucking tyke that much like there are people who like Coke over Pepsi and vice versa, there are dudes who go out as dudettes and some of them still dig women while others dig on each other, and there are also chicks who dress like guys and some still dig guys and some dig on each other, and there are both guys and girls who don’t even dress like the opposite sex but they play for the home team, and that’s just the way of the world.

Then you can go back to telling your kid Obama almost turned the entire country into Muslims.

By the time the closing credits come up, things have ended happily ever after for the characters and if you think I’m spoiling the movie, then you need to go blame your parents for homeschooling your sheltered ass and leave me alone. Now I’m gonna spoil something else — the end credits look like the opening credits to a soap opera. OK, I’m done.

Between watching the film nearly a month ago and rambling about it today (thanks flu!), my opinion more or less remains the same — leaning towards the “less” section. The reason for that is because after watching the live action Beauty and the Beast, I wanted to make sure if this version did in fact suffer in comparison to the 1991 film or if I was just looking back at it with rose-colored contacts. Because it’s easy for me to say “oh, the original was better” when the last time I watched the original, it was 17 minutes to midnight on the Doomsday Clock.

And so, I immediately went to the movie site Vudu and plunked down twenty bucks on the 1991 version because Disney doesn’t believe in a Rental option when it comes to streaming, the greedy fucks.

Well guess what? Not counting the hooker in San Antonio last month, this was the best twenty dollars I spent in a long time. The 1991 version is the same story as the 2017 one, only before that one gained all that extra fat over the years. This one is lean, mean, and damn near obscene in how goddamn good it is. When you compare this one, the 1946 Cocteau joint — are you happy now, geeks? — and the 2017 version, what you’ll get is one that’s more fun, one that’s more dreamy, and one that’s more, well, uh, blah.

Holy cats, does this sucker move! Maybe it doesn’t feel that fast, but after watching the slower current version, the ’91 film feels like you’re riding shotgun in one of Dominic Toretto’s muscle cars and he just unleashed some NOS. It gets down to the nitty gritty — the brass tacks, as it were — and brings you up to speed in a couple minutes by telling you about the whole backstory between the Beast and the Old Lady; how he turned down her request for shelter, and how she cursed him and gave him a rose as a kind of countdown in which he’d have to find a woman who will love him for who he is before all the petals fall, otherwise he’s cursed forever.

We get our introduction to Belle which is similar to the live action version only this one is better; it’s a lot more energetic, a lot more entertaining, and Paige O’Hara is a far more talented singer than Emma Watson, who has a nice voice but is no Paige O’Hara. I turned on the subtitles and started singing along to the songs in this version, it was so infectious! My neighbor started shouting at me to keep it down but then I stepped out with the Sig Sauer P320 and continued singing while waving my piece around like a conductor’s baton, and that bitch went back inside to watch the rest of “America’s Got Talent” faster than you can say “justifiable homicide”.

Not only is Paige O’Hara a better singer, everybody’s a better singer in this version, like Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts, and my man, muthafuckin’ Walk Proud himself, Robby Muthafuckin’ Benson as the Beast. I know, he was the bomb in City Limits, but you gotta see my Semitic brother Robby B play a Chicano gang member in Walk Proud. As far as I’m concerned, he’s got a permanent invitation to my Sunday afternoon carne asada backyard cookouts.

This Belle is a better Belle, that’s what I think. She just comes off more likable, while Watson carries too much of that snotty English girl vibe, which to be fair is probably closer to fitting the character of a French village girl than some All American type like O’Hara’s portrayal, but hey, this is merely my opinion. I like nice people or at least people who exude the illusion of being nice and 1991 Belle does a better job of that. I mean, look at how everybody seems to like her, despite being a weirdo bookworm.

In this version, Gaston comes off more — ahem — cartoonish, like some big dumb oaf who thinks he’s the shit, and he doesn’t seem particularly threatening, but that’s why his heel turn later on is far more effective than in the 2017 film. You look at the live action Gaston and you don’t have to had already seen the ’91 movie to know this guy is trouble, you just have to look at this guy’s face to know you don’t say No to him. Or you just had to have seen Fast & Furious 6.

There’s more humor in this, compared to the more recent film, which does feature the occasional gag but they all stand out like studio-mandated sore thumbs, whereas the older film does a better job segueing between the moments of levity and the stronger emotional scenes.  Plus, the jokes are better here, they hold up. The live action version has jokes but they already feel old seconds after they play out.

Look, I’m not bashing the newer film, I think it’s fine. But watching the older film immediately after, reminded me how much more lovely and magical it is in comparison. Your mileage may vary, but I feel this one goes a lot farther in a lot less time.

By the way, if you’re gonna watch the animated film, may I suggest you watch the Special Edition cut? After watching the movie, I looked at the accompanying special features and saw the Special Edition was one of the viewing options. Still under the film’s spell, I ended up watching it again for the first time and I found out that in addition to fixing some continuity issues and mistakes here and there, this cut also includes an extra musical number, adding some welcome character detail to the Beast’s cursed servants. This isn’t a George Lucas kind of Special Edition, it’s more like what Ridley Scott did when he released the Final Cut of Blade Runner, and I think it’s the one to check out — but it’s good times with either cut, either way.

Both films will appeal to most people; if you’re a comic book nerd, you can pretend that the castle in the film represents your house and that the rose the Beast keeps protected under glass is like your most prized issue of Spider-Man, that way when the scene comes up when Beast loses his shit over Belle fucking with it, you can nod your head and be like “I know what that’s like”.

I figure ugly people can also enjoy watching a beautiful woman learn to love this hideous smelly hairy fuck for the good person he supposedly is on the inside. And if you’re half a fuckin’ furry, I already know you love this movie. You probably dress up like the Beast all the time or have your significant other dress like the Beast before you guys get in on — doggy style, of course. AWOOOO!

In conclusion, grow some fucking balls, Easy.

Two weeks late and a dollar short

Posted in 30 Days of Night, douchebag, Friday the 13th Part III, From Dusk Till Dawn, Insidious, movie marathon, Poltergeist (1982), ramblings of a loser, Shaun of the Dead, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2018 by efcontentment

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My favorite time of year has begun. This is also my least favorite time of year because it’s when I begin to live my own personal version of every killer virus movie ever made as everybody around me gets Down With the Sickness. Out comes the hand sanitizer and down goes the Emergen-C powdered vitamin drinks and there’s me standing back from people from even greater distances than usual, as they tell me why they didn’t bother getting a flu shot because it’s only, like, two percent effective from this year’s model of influenza. Then they cough and sniffle while I try to keep my cool, when all I really want to do is point at them while screeching a la Donald Sutherland at the end of 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (Spoilers.)

I’m forced to walk a tightrope of good health that puts me at risk of missing out on the fun stuff if I get sick — stuff like Camp Frida, an all-night horror movie marathon being held at The Frida Cinema located in the city of Santa Ana. But thankfully, I was able to keep the evil viruses away long enough to attend on the rather crisp evening of October 7th.

Camp Frida is a summer camp-themed 12-hour marathon of horror films scheduled to run from 8pm to 8am, hosted by an 80s-era camp counselor named Aly; I did not attend the previous year but my friend Cathie did and she covered the inaugural event on her blog — I highly recommend that you give it a read.

I arrived just in time as the theater opened its doors and started letting the people in line inside, where we were greeted to a lobby that was done up with fog, cobwebs, and various other spooky decorations. My favorite was a large black curtain or shroud or blanket, whatever it was, it was covering a large part of a wall and there was a sign that read something like “Look under here if you want to see a dead body”; I watched as someone began to lift the curtain when all of a sudden a zombie hand popped out and swiped towards the victim’s leg causing her and her friends to scream and/or jump while I stood by looking all cool and stoic because I’m better than that and thank god I was wearing dark pants because then nobody could tell I had just pissed them.

There were also many cupcakes being offered to us, and there was nothing scary about that unless you’re diabetic; we had a choice of Camp Frida S’mores or Deep Red Velvet Braaaaains. I went with neither for the same reason I didn’t get snacks or bring a blanket and pillow or come dressed in ultra comfy pajamas. In my experience with marathons, comfort — too much comfort, in both what you wear and what you eat — is the enemy. That goes double for the popcorn and soft drinks available at the snack bar, and triple for the blood bag cocktails they were also serving at said snack bar.

This was my second time at the Frida; it’s a nice non-profit two-screen cinema that screens a good variety of films both classic and current. For Camp Frida, the auditorium on the left was called “The Graveyard” and the one on the right was called the “Main Lodge”. After being hand stamped, we were told to go to the Graveyard first, which had a spooky cemetery setup under the screen along with a tent. Waiting for us was a photographer who was taking pics of each of the attendees, who were then told to go to the Main Lodge.

A little before 9pm, the evening finally got under way with a little scene being performed on stage for us as a group of young campers gathered around the fake campfire and told a scary tale about the legend of camp counselor Aly, who had hosted the previous Camp Frida and met her unfortunate fate at the hands of Jason Voorhees. One of the kids pulled out her trusty Necronomicon and read from it, and so we didn’t have to wait long for the sudden appearance of the now undead Zombie Counselor Aly as she arrived, who despite obviously having been dead for a while, had not lost any attitudinal spark in her delivery. She told us that even though she was a zombie now, she was still a vegan, and so we shouldn’t be too worried about her feasting on us — but that she wasn’t above murdering anybody who didn’t behave either.

First up on the menu was the 1996 film From Dusk Till Dawn, written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez. This is the one where Tarantino and George Clooney play brothers — so you know this is a movie — who are on the lam and kidnap a family in order to hijack their RV so they can get across the Texas/Mexico border. Once they’re on the other side, they stop at the mother of all dirty biker & trucker bars called the Titty Twister, and that’s when things go from crime movie to vampire movie.

This was my third time seeing it on the big screen — the first was during its original release in 1996 and the second was at the New Beverly Cinema in 2015 — and this was the best crowd yet, with lots of laughs and cheers throughout. I think a big part of it was that the sold out event made for a packed house full of people who were already well into their blood bag cocktails. My only real complaint was that there were quite a few piece of shit cocksucking asshole scumbag douchebag fucks who started recording video and/or snapping photos with their phone — one award winner even used the goddamn flash on the camera!

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that a couple scenes early on with Tarantino’s rapey Richie Gecko felt a bit more uncomfortable to watch this time. I’m guessing it might have had something to do with the fact that mere hours earlier, a rapey piece of shit had been confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. That might’ve painted an unfortunate shade to some of the proceedings.

But at least I wasn’t in full pearl-clutching mode, like the guy I stood next to outside the theater while getting some fresh air between films. I overheard him telling his friend something like “I forgot how racist and misogynistic it was…it was just so gleeful.” As far as the racist part, I can only say speaking as a filthy spic that I didn’t find anything particularly racist about the movie. I mean, yeah, they’re dealing with Mexican vampires in the movie, but I don’t know, was it the language being used by Seth and Richie Gecko that bugged him? Well, their characters aren’t exactly choir boys. And plus it helps that I just assume everybody talks like that in real life anyway, even the pansy liberals, they just do it behind my back — and that’s all I ask, is to keep your secret hatred of my people behind closed doors. Save it for your weekly poker game in the garage, you bitter honky fucks.

As far as the misogynistic claims, I can’t really speak to that because I’m a misogynist. But I have a legitimate reason to hate women — they won’t have sex with me.

I’m happy to report that between films a gentleman from the Frida whose name I can’t remember came out to kindly tell people to cut it the fuck out with the goddamn cameras and to also calm down with the conversations while the movie is playing or else he would feed them to Zombie Counselor Aly, even though she’s vegan.

A few minutes later, Zombie Counselor Aly returned with one of the young campers, Ethan, who was now a zombie himself. He seemed pretty bummed out because being undead at 16 years of age meant that he would forever be in puberty. Aly claimed to have only killed him but didn’t snack on him, instead having let other zombies take a bite out of him. Aly then told us that they were trying something new for this year’s marathon based on something they did last year; at one point, both the Main Lodge and Graveyard were showing a different movie and audience members were able to choose which one they wanted to see. It went so well, they decided to do that for this year’s marathon, only this time instead of one movie, they would give the audience a choice for the next four films.

After a guessing game where audience members were given an on-screen clue as to what the next set of films would be, the choice was revealed: those who wanted to see the 1989 adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary could stay in the Main Lodge while those who wanted to see the 2004 rom-zom-com Shaun of the Dead would have to go to the Graveyard. I went with Shaun because I had already seen Pet Sematary in the past and have even rambled about it in a past blog entry, and to be honest I’m not a fan of the movie. So I went with the Edgar Wright-directed film which I had only seen once during its theatrical release.

Shaun of the Dead is the one about the dude who’s pushing 30 and is kinda stuck in that limbo between growing up and enjoying your goddamn life. I mean, I kinda get it; it’s that choice between hanging out with your friends and getting drunk and playing video games OR having a girlfriend and spending a whole day at fuckin’ Ikea or something and trying not to fall asleep as she gets all excited about a stupid table. It’s a table! I don’t give a fuck about it aside from Can It Hold My Keys, My Remote Controls, and My Dinner? If it can, then cool, let’s buy the fuckin’ thing.

That’s the conundrum that Shaun, played by Simon Pegg, is going through — and to be honest, it’s pretty clear that he’s better off becoming a fuckin’ responsible adult and living life with his special lady friend Liz. At least that’s how I see it. I mean, his friend Ed has his moments but goddamn he can be a real fuckin’ style-cramper, man. He means well but, I don’t know. I don’t have friends like Ed and I’m glad I don’t, to be real with you. Maybe it’s because in reality, I’m closer to someone like Peter Serafinowicz’s character in the movie, especially in that scene where Shaun and Ed are blasting that goddamn Electro in the middle of the night and out comes Peter’s character losing his shit about how he’s trying to get some goddamn sleep because he has work in the morning. That’s pretty much me everyday with this whole goddamn world.

And come on, Shaun, you had one job: make the reservations at the place that does all the fish. See what being friends with Ed does to you?

Anyway, it’s all very interesting, and it almost makes you forget that this is a zombie movie, and it almost kinda bummed me out when it got to that point because I would’ve been fine with a movie just about Shaun, Ed, and Liz that has nothing to do with the undead. But I was just as fine with what did happen, because once zombies come into play it becomes a most amusing tale about how to deal with these goddamn things and live through the day while trying to get from point A to point B. What really makes the film is all the details, though. I mean, not just visual setups and payoffs and quick little bits that are easily missed the first time because they go so fast — I mean, just all of the dialogue is a pleasure to listen to but not in a snappy comeback sort-of-way, it’s all very funny and there are just as many setups and payoffs in the things that they say.

That’s why I would’ve been cool with a non-zombie version of this movie, because the characters are so well-written and lived in. And as funny as it is, it also manages to have a serious moment or two — and it all blends together well, it never feels forced or tone deaf. I found myself actually caring about what happens to these people, although maybe not so much that douchebag David. Fuck that guy. It’s a good zombie movie from the Romero school of the undead — it gives you the goods while also being About Something, which I’m choosing to see Shaun as being about having to grow the fuck up and move on to the next stage of your life. Because as much as it pains me to say this, we can’t be kids forever, man. But you can still have fun, so long that you can keep your indulgences on a leash and visit them once in a while.

Edgar Wright’s direction has pretty much always been this way, hasn’t it? I forgot that he was already doing things like long takes and scenes synchronized to songs in this film, way before Baby Driver. It’s good stuff and the dude’s already had cinema running through his veins.

After another break, I went back to the Main Lodge where another visual guessing game was played; the next choice of films turned out to be either stay and watch the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead or go back to the Graveyard to watch the 2010 film Insidious. I had never seen the latter and had been meaning to see it, and so eight years after its release, I finally did.

Insidious is a tale about a well-moisturized married couple living in an old grandmother of a house with their two or three children — I say two or three because I swear they had another kid and somewhere along the way that motherfucker just disappeared not unlike Chuck Cunningham on the television series “Happy Days”.

What I know for sure is that there are at least two kids; one is a little boy and the other is a fuckin’ baby who never shuts the fuck up with her goddamn crying. I don’t know how you parents do it, or did it; I don’t know how you are able to take in the sound of that horrific crying without wanting to tear the nearest human being limb from limb. But the mom in this movie, played by Rose Byrne, seems to be used to it. The father, played by Patrick Wilson, has an easier way to deal with it: he leaves for work and stays out late so he doesn’t have to hear that shit.

The son, he deals with it even better than the others — he falls into a coma.

In addition to having a comatose child, this family has to deal with lots of spooky haunted house type of stuff going on in their grandma house. It’s all very effective because I jumped quite a bit every time some scary red faced demon thing popped up, along with the accompanying music sting. It wasn’t so much the idea of the house being possessed that got to me, no, I was afraid because every time a potential scare scene was coming up, it meant that the wife would scream, which would cause that goddamn baby to cry again and I don’t go to the goddamn movies to hear babies cry. If I wanted to hear babies cry, I’d be banging chicks without a condom and then wait nine months.

Insidious was director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell’s return to low budget independent filmmaking following the failure of their big studio fright flick Dead Silence back in 2007; I haven’t seen that movie but I did see Saw. I mean, I saw Saw. I mean — OK, you know that movie Saw? That was their first film and I watched it back in 2005 and I liked it. I liked Insidious even more. It has more of a classical horror film style compared to the MTV flashiness occasionally exhibited in their debut, and it manages to display that Wan and Whannell have the ability to supply the scares without having to get all NC-17 on us (this film is PG-13).

Halfway through the film, Insidious turns into the cinematic equivalent of Wan and Whannell asking the audience “Hey, did you ever see Poltergeist? Me too! Wasn’t it awesome?!” but that’s OK because they ask that question in an entertaining manner. It’s fun to watch Lin Shaye enter the film as the resident paranormal expert who is gonna Get Shit Done. Her underlings, played by Whannell and some other dude, are a little too goofy for my taste but at least they don’t raid the fridge like their equivalent characters in Poltergeist. In fact, one of them shows up having brought a Hot Pocket. That to me shows a person who is prepared and considerate.

The next guessing game revealed the choice of either Friday the 13th Part III in 3D or Beetlejuice. As much as I love me some Winona Ryder, I had already seen Beetlejuice on the big screen twice, but have seen Jason Voorhees in 3D zero — so I stayed at the Main Lodge and put on a pair of 3D glasses handed to me by one of the volunteers.

I guess this is as good a time as any to bring up the format of the films we watched that evening; they were all digital, which is not a dealbreaker for me. These marathons are more about staying up all night watching movies and less about the privilege of watching them in 35mm. Although that would be nice too.

I bring this up because I’m not 100-percent sure whether what we watched of Friday the 13th Part III was a DCP or Blu-ray; it looked fine but I had my suspicions. I don’t know what a 35mm print of this film is supposed to look like in 3D but we watched this one with the old school red and blue anaglyph glasses, so we weren’t getting modern quality three dimensions with full color, but like I said it was watchable. The color was kinda whack and there was occasional “ghosting” where some of the image would split into a slightly visible double, but if I’m grading it on the 3D scale where you have Captain EO on top and the Nintendo game “Rad Racer” at the bottom, this film would reside right in the middle.

As for the film itself, it’s pretty important to the series because in addition to being the one in 3D, it also introduces the hockey mask to Jason’s ensemble and gives us the theme song that makes me want to break out the cardboard and go Boogaloo Shrimp on all you motherfuckers. It’s also one of the better films in the Jason saga, which isn’t to say it’s one of the more intricately plotted sequels — far from it, it’s actually pretty simple even for a Friday the 13th film. But it’s the simplicity that makes for the film’s strength: people show up, drink, do drugs, have sex, then get killed by Jason. After a time-padding prologue that replays the climax of Friday the 13th Part II, the film gives us a good pace in between the kills so that we never get bored. Or at least I never got bored, I can’t speak for the rest of you jokers.

In this film, a girl named Chris and her friends go up to her family’s cabin in the woods where she had previously survived an attack by Jason — because that’s exactly what traumatized victims of violent attacks should do, I guess, return to the scene of the crime as way to own that shit? I don’t know. But what becomes bad news for these characters becomes good news for the audience because that means Jason gets to murder these morons for our entertainment.

I can’t say I was gonna miss most of these victims; early on, there’s a dude named Harold who owns a general store along with his wife and a bodega rabbit, and this piece of work has a habit of eating everything on the shelves. It’s disgusting, not just the fact that he’ll take a dirty backwashed swig of Sunny D and then put it back on the shelf for some unsuspecting customer to purchase, but the fact that he eats more like a stoner than the actual stoners in the film — stoners who look about ten years older than everybody else, by the way. So yeah, Harold eats peanuts, donuts, the aforementioned Sunny Delight, fish food, and god knows what else. So it’s no surprise that we’re then treated to the sights and sounds of him having a production session on the toilet.

I don’t know why we had to hear that in addition to seeing it — and I don’t know why we get two separate scenes of characters taking a shit in this film, and I *really* don’t know why both of these dudes get up and put their pants back on without wiping their asses. I mean, OK, fine, they heard a strange noise and they want to go check on it. But I’m telling you, if I’m in the middle of taking a dump and suddenly my firstborn starts screaming for help, I’m sorry, I have to clean house at least a little bit because going back out onto the field to make a play — and you bet your unwiped ass I’m washing my hands too, and not just a quick once-over, I’m singing Happy Birthday twice before drying them.

This also might be the first Friday the 13th film that introduces raza into the cast — poor pretty Vera Sanchez, and I don’t just mean “poor” as in her unfortunate fate in the film as one of Jason’s kills (Spoilers). I mean, she’s financially poor and she’s rocking food stamps, because of course you have to have the wetback on welfare. You find this out during a scene in a store, where she’s told by the cashier that they don’t take food stamps, even though Vera never mentions food stamps, she was just reaching into her shirt pocket.

OK fine, in this case, the cashier assumed correctly, but that still ain’t right. That would be like me assuming that the Asian lady driving in my opposite direction is going to make a sudden left turn in front of me without signaling. Just because every single Asian driver that I’ve come across in my life couldn’t drive for shit, I can’t assume that the next one is going to drive like shit as well. It’s wrong to think that way.

Anyway, Vera is saved by her fellow camper Shelly, who according to the Friday the 13th Wiki has the last name of Finkelstein. Bucking the trend of his heritage, Shelly eagerly gives Vera some of his money so she can pay for the groceries. Although when you consider that Shelly has been dreaming of dipping his kishka into her mole, maybe he wasn’t really giving the money away so much as he was paying for something he hoped to get in return.

Eh, I kid those two because I liked those two. I also liked the character of Debbie, because she was played by Tracie Savage; those who grew up in the L.A. area in the 90s might remember her as a reporter for KNBC-TV Los Angeles, because that’s what I knew her from and it’s funny how long it took me to make the connection that the attractive anchorwoman on the news was the same hot chick from this movie. After working on Friday the 13th Part III, Savage retired from acting and went on to have a successful career in journalism, where her previous experience with murderous slasher Jason Voorhees served her well when she covered the O.J. Simpson trial.

At one point, Savage herself was called to the witness stand at the trial, where she was asked to give up the identities of her confidential sources regarding some incorrect information about O.J.’s bloody socks. She refused to give up her sources, even though Judge Lance Ito had threatened her with jail time if she didn’t cooperate. But what Judge Ito got instead was confirmation that Tracie Savage would rather rot in jail than be a fuckin’ rat, because she sure as hell ain’t no stoolie. Jail? Fuck jail! What can jail do to her that fuckin’ Jason Voorhees didn’t already do?!

Today, Miss Savage teaches journalism in college, where I’m sure among the many things her students learn are the two most important things in life: Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.

Up until this point, the guessing games were hosted by Zombie Counselor Aly. But in the last round when it was revealed that a Jason movie was among the choices, she got upset because Jason was the reason she was now a zombie, having killed her during the last Camp Frida. Then the real Jason Voorhees showed up at the theater and followed after her as she ran away. After the film, when I walked back into the Main Lodge for the next guessing game, I did not see Zombie Counselor Aly but instead there was a bedsheet-clad ghost with a male voice. I asked the guy next to me who that was supposed to be and he said it was supposed to be the ghost of Zombie Counselor Aly, having been killed again by Jason. He was chuckling the entire time and he reeked of the blood bag cocktails, so I can’t be too sure if he was telling me the truth or just having me on. But that is what I was told.

Anyway, for the final choice of films we were given either Blade II or 30 Days of Night. I’ve always wanted to see 30 Days of Night and so it was back to the Graveyard for me.

This adaptation of Steve Niles’ graphic novel of the same name takes place in Barrow, Alaska where an extended month-long period of night is about to fall. For those who are night people, this sounds like a pretty cool time, but unfortunately vampires are also night people and they’re about to swoop in on this little sad town and have themselves a good ol’ time all month long with the bitin’ and the chompin’ and the drinking of the blood.

The town sheriff is played by Josh Hartnett, who based on his obvious youth must’ve graduated from the same police academy that Ben Affleck’s sheriff character from Phantoms attended. I’m not saying that there aren’t really young sheriffs out there in real life, but it’s hard for me to buy dudes in their 20s walking around these small towns acting like grizzled seen-it-all types. But I’m gonna give Hartnett a little bit of slack because maybe the pickings were slim as far qualified police officers who wanted to move up to the northernmost city of the United States. Nobody wanted to go up there, they wanted to patrol in the contiguous United States, baby. So maybe the best they could do was hire some kid fresh out of the academy who was willing to move out to the goddamn tundra if that’s what it took to move up the ranks.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with Barrow, Alaska, but based on what I saw and read about the place, it’s super cold and barren and there’s not much to do there as far as having fun. It’s also a dry town, where you’re only allowed to drink at a bar — which is bullshit for a solo drinker like me who prefers to stay home when it comes to getting fucked up. I mean, I’m not gonna get drunk alone in a bar and have the paranoia set in every time I have to stumble my way to the commode to take a fuckin’ piss while some assholes in a booth chuckle at my drunk ass, fuck that shit. It’s better to get drunk while home alone, that way no one laughs at me if I fall and crack my head on the nightstand and bleed out like William Holden. I deserve a little dignity.

So yeah, vampires. They’re led by Danny Huston and I’m guessing this film takes place in the Blade universe because they all look like nouveau riche Eurotrash who came out of some ultra elite VIP only nightclub at 2 in the morning and are looking for a place to eat — which in the case of this film is the town of Barrow, Alaska. They swoop in and start with the feeding and it’s very impressive and scary as fuck. There’s a great sequence where they’re attacking everybody in town and it employs overhead tracking shots of the carnage that look like they could’ve been done with drones but I’m not too sure about that, but whatever the case the filmmakers really give us an unforgettable mini-apocalypse to “enjoy”.

It’s a very well made film with style to spare; once night falls, the film takes on a nearly monochromatic look as nearly everything is dominated by the black of the night or the blueish white of the snow, punctuated by crimson red blood or yellow-orange flames. It brought to mind the 1954 film Track of the Cat, starring Robert Mitchum, another snowbound film with a similar visual color scheme.

Early on, I was sure I was watching a slept-on masterpiece. “Why don’t more people talk about this movie?” I thought to myself. The chilly setting, the shocking sudden moments of gore, and an overwhelming bleak sense of doom reminded me of John Carpenter’s The Thing — had that film been randomly hacked down by about forty-five minutes. And there’s the rub; the more 30 Days of Night continued, the more disjointed it felt, as if it were missing important scenes — and maybe it was, maybe the studio forced the filmmakers to cut stuff out so they can fit in more showings at the local cineplex. Because what I saw felt like it could’ve used a lot more meat on the bones, particularly the scenes involving the survivors of the initial attack as they wait out the rest of the month in an attic. I never got to know the supporting characters well enough — so as a result, I didn’t really give that much of a shit if anything happened to them.

These vampires speak another language and I thought it was interesting that the film didn’t have subtitles, or at least that’s what I thought until a random subtitle popped up here and there. It happened twice in the film and I even remember the lines: “The heads must be separated from the bodies” and “We cannot give them reason to suspect”.

I thought that was a strange choice by the filmmakers and it didn’t feel right to me, so the following day, I streamed the film from Starz On Demand — and it turns out that all the vampire dialogue is subtitled! Oh my God, is it subtitled. These vamps are subtitled up the wazoo, I gotta read subtitles three times a day, I got fucking subtitles coming out of my fucking ears, mang.

Anyway, the film started out as Great but eventually downgraded to Good Enough. I don’t know why the digital print at the Frida held out on us with those subtitles, but I wonder how many first timers in the audience were as confused as I was, and like me, how many of them would’ve had a higher opinion of the movie had the subtitles actually shown up for work that night.

Everybody gathered at the Main Lodge to watch the final film of the marathon: the 1982 Steven Spielberg production of Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hooper.

That’s right, motherfucker — directed by Tobe Hooper. The Frida volunteer who introduced the film made sure to let his movie douche flag fly by loudly stating that it was directed by Steven Spielberg and I held back on grabbing this motherfucker and showing him the life of the mind because I must remain pure. But I don’t get these people who seem to get giddy when spouting off their garbage that somehow Tobe Hooper was sitting in a corner on the set tripping out on mushrooms and playing Atari the whole time while Spielberg really directed the entire thing.

I harbor no delusions of Poltergeist being purely a Tobe Hooper film, but I feel it was indeed a collaboration between him and Spielberg, with Spielberg having the final creative say. The final product looks, sounds, and feels every bit as much a Tobe Hooper joint as it does a Spielberg flick. Maybe Hooper didn’t deal with the actors as much and maybe he wasn’t involved in the post-production process after turning in his cut of the film, but there’s still enough here visually for me to point out similar types of shot compositions and lighting set-ups and camera movements in his other films — not to mention a kind of coked-up hysteria that occasionally rears its long-haired sweaty-toothed head in all of his films. That in particular is a Tobe Hooper specialty.

So give the man his due.

Anyway, I’m sure most of you have seen this one or know about — and if you haven’t seen it but have seen the remake, I’m not gonna judge you but I’m going to politely yet firmly suggest that you remedy that shit most ricky-tick or I’m gonna have to show you the life of the mind.

As I mentioned earlier, the film Insidious is mostly running plays from Poltergeist’s playbook. Both are about suburban families dealing with spooky stuff happening in their nice house, and eventually both families have to deal with the spooky stuff snatching one of their kids. In the case of Insidious, it’s the kid’s consciousness that is taken, and in the case of Poltergeist, the supernatural forces literally take the child — body and soul — to the other side. And in both movies, the parents employ the help of paranormal investigators who try their best before finally bringing in the big guns: an older woman with an extraordinary ability to make contact with the otherworldly.

Insidious does a pretty good job at remaking Poltergeist — even better than the actual remake, I’ve heard — but there’s no beating the original, and it still holds up as a top notch haunted rollercoaster of a cinematic experience. You want quiet, you got quiet. You want loud, you get loud. You want a family that you actually like and care for, but most important of all, believe as real human beings? Poltergeist 1982, baby.

Part of why I buy these people as a real family is because there’s enough here — the way the house looks, the way they’re dressed, even the kind of cereal they eat — to remind me of my childhood in the 1980s. I don’t remember my parents ever smoking a joint in their bedroom like Coach and JoBeth Williams do here, but otherwise, this all feels familiar. Anyway, it’s one of the movies that brings up the most nostalgia in me.

Something that I’m not nostalgic for is anyone who thinks they can come to my house and eat whatever they want; I’m referring to that one scene where visiting paranormal investigator Marty looks at himself in the mirror and…well, you know (or don’t know, which is why I don’t want to spoil it). When talking about Poltergeist, people often bring up that scene as one that genuinely disturbed them, but I was more bothered by what preceded it; so Marty and his partner are staying over at the Freeling family house to record evidence of paranormal activity, and late at night Marty decides to raid the fridge for a snack. He takes out a leftover chicken drumstick, and that I can understand.

But then he pulls out a big raw steak from the fridge, and I’m like Wait a Minute, and then he puts a pan on the stove, and now I’m like WAIT A GODDAMN MINUTE.

The fucking balls on this guy!

Steak is, has been, and always will be expensive. It’s one thing to jack some cheaper stuff from someone else’s fridge, but a goddamn steak?! I didn’t see him ask for permission, or maybe that part was in Tobe Hooper’s original cut of the movie, I don’t know. Then he places that steak on the kitchen counter with nothing underneath it — no cutting board, plate, foil, paper towel, Fangoria magazine — just plop that raw bloody steak anywhere, chief. And don’t beat yourself up about not washing your hands at all during this.

He never gets around to cooking that steak. I bet you he didn’t even bother to put it back in the fridge either. Next time, bring a Hot Pocket, you inconsiderate fuck.

It was a little before 9 in the morning when the marathon ended. After the final film, the campers all gave a big round of applause to the volunteers and the projectionist, and then we all got up on stage together to pose for a picture.

Following the picture, we all stepped out into the lobby where we were greeted by the sounds of Semisonic’s “Closing Time” and treated to one more cupcake for the road. We were also given a Camp Frida badge/lanyard, featuring the late Counselor Aly’s picture; the badge also served as a voucher good for one free drink at the Frida, but I figure I’m just gonna hold onto it because I’m sentimental like that.

I then went down the block to Eat Chow for my post-marathon breakfast; I had the “A.M. Burger” that consisted of two eggs, crispy onions, cheddar cheese, hollandaise sauce, applewood smoked bacon, chipotle aioli, tomato, and avocado, served between two brioche buns. I recommend that you get one and I highly recommend that you ask for extra napkins.

 

The disappointed optimist

Posted in douchebag, I Heart Amy Adams, Paulie, podcast, ramblings of a loser, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 5, 2018 by efcontentment

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I have friends and coworkers who will bring up a movie and then tell me what Rotten Tomatoes has given it, as if I care. I’m far too nice to tell them that I don’t give two shakes of a lamb’s tail what Rotten Tomatoes has to say about a movie I want to watch. I have no use for that stupid critical barometer because I want to know as little as possible about a movie — aside from what I already know that got me interested in the first place.

Also, I really don’t care what other people think about a new movie that I want to see. At most, I’ll search out a couple reviews from critics I respect, but it’ll be after I see the movie. So I don’t waste my time with Rotten Tomatoes. Get out of my face with that garbage.

So I was on the Rotten Tomatoes website one day when I noticed a feature there called Five Favorite Films where whoever was promoting a movie on the site would give his or her list of, yup, you guessed it, their five favorite films. They had Amy Adams there promoting a film, and of the very few people in Hollywood that I can stand, number one with a polite bullet on that short list is the lovely and talented actress known here as The Adorable Amy Adams. Regular readers of the blog have known about my admiration of Ms. Adams for years, and new listeners of this podcast have known about it as of about five seconds ago.

As for her five favorite films, The Adorable Amy Adams gave the following: Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Vertigo, The Shawshank Redemption, and the 1998 family film Paulie directed by John Roberts. 

In the interview, Adams admitted that Paulie stood out like a sore thumb on that list but she wanted to be honest and include a film that she’s watched many times. She also brought up Paulie in another more recent interview on Leonard Maltin’s podcast “Maltin on Movies”; in that interview, both Maltin and his co-host Jessie Maltin gave Ms. Adams plenty of praise for her performances in her new films Arrival and Nocturnal Animals and they were sure Oscar was going to finally — finally! — give her her long overdue gold, Best Actress-style. Which of course, did not happen because Emma Stone won that year for La La Land.

But I don’t blame Emma Stone; she did a great job and I guess all pale redheads look the same to the racist Oscars. No, I blame the Academy for instead giving Our Amy’s nomination slot to the much-ignored Meryl Streep, finally giving that criminally underrated starlet some much-needed awards attention for some movie called Florence Foster Jenkins about an old lady who can’t sing and it’s funny funny funny oh ho ho she can’t sing! It’s com-e-dy!

While I had already seen the other films she mentioned on the list, I hadn’t seen Paulie, and so I put it on my watchlist along with the thousand other movies I’m sure I’ll get around to as soon as I win the lottery and then I can just stay home all day & night catching up to these movies and not have to worry about how I’m going to pay my rent.

Oh, it would be beautiful too, I would just sit there and watch movies and eat and watch movies and eat and occasionally use the bathroom and if there’s company coming over, I guess I could take a shower. Then I can become one of those fat hogs who are too big to leave the house, then my body will give and I’ll die and my fat 800-pound corpse will be somebody else’s problem. Ha ha ha, kiss my fat dead ass, you skinny necrophiliacs — and don’t forget, I want to be buried, so good luck recruiting six pallbearers with both the strength and disregard for the concept of hernias.

So I was reminded to watch Paulie when I saw my friend Cathie mention it on her Twitter timeline, and so I tossed away the movie I had intended to watch that night — take a hike, The Rules of the Game — and here we are.

The film begins with Tony Shalhoub as Misha, a Russian immigrant in the United States, beginning his new job as a night janitor at the kind of research laboratory where animals of all species are kept in cages that I’m sure in no way affects their well-being and therefore ensures that any research done to them is 100-percent accurate. I’m just saying, if you want to know what shoving an electric prod up a monkey’s ass will do to the monkey for the purposes of research, maybe you want to get a monkey who’s been living a comfortable life in something remotely resembling the monkey’s natural environment.

Because if you take a monkey that’s been living in a small cage in a strange room and shove an electric prod up its ass, I’m guessing at that point the monkey has already given up on life and is all like “eh, my life has been shit ever since they took me away from my family in the jungle, my confusion and fear of this new place has faded, and now I’m just resigned to this hellish existence of having different shampoos applied to my fur and being injected with various experimental vaccines until I’m embraced by sweet, sweet death and the rest of my eternity is in a black void because animals don’t get to go to Heaven or Hell because apparently only humans have souls. What’s another twelve inches up my ass?”

No monkeys get electric-prodded up the ass in this film, by the way. I’m just saying. And for the record, animals do have souls and they all go to Heaven. All of them. They’re too pure to ever end up in Hell. Fight me on this and I’ll make it so that you find out personally whether you’re going to Heaven or Hell.

Anyway, a couple of nights into the job, Misha is by himself and he’s busy Good Will Hunting the floors when he hears somebody singing from the basement. He goes downstairs to this dark dungeon and finds out that the singing is coming from a conure (or parakeet or parrot, if you want to be that way) who is all by himself in a cage that is chained with a padlock, as if it were resided by some kind of psycho Hannibal Lecter of birds.

Soon he finds out why the caged bird sings — courtesy of the bird himself, whose name is Paulie and he not only sings but he can talk, and I don’t mean the standard bird talk where they’re just mimicking what they hear, this bird is capable of having conversations and can even be a real smartass at times, or maybe that’s just a side effect of having Jay Mohr provide Paulie’s voice.

As Paulie proceeds to tell Misha his story, the film flashes back to when he was born and given to a little girl named Marie, played by Hallie Eisenberg, best known for a series of Pepsi commercials that ran in the late 90s. Everything is great between Marie and Paulie; they enjoy each other’s company and Paulie even helps her with her stutter as they both teach each other words and how to pronounce them.

The film never explains why Paulie has the gift of speech, or if they did, I missed it. He just can. The best I can come up with is that the power of pure unadulterated love can make the miraculous happen. Yeah, sure, whatever. Tell that to Nadia Sandoval. I loved her so much, that if you were to harness the positive energy I gave, you’d be able to power rockets with it — and yet all the e-mails and the letters and the songs in the world couldn’t convince her that I was the one. I even held up a boombox in front of her house like my man John Cusack in Say Anything but then a Chinese dude came out and he told me that not only did she move to Paris five years ago, but she also makes a six-figure salary and is married and has two kids and there’s no way I can compete with that, not unless I get a big raise at El Pollo Loco or Taco Bell or whatever taco truck I’m working at, like, right now.

I told him I couldn’t get a raise and that not only was that statement about me working in a Mexican fast food establishment racist, it was also the truth. Then I asked him if he wanted to go out for coffee and he told me that he was gay but not desperate. Or at least that’s what I think he said, I mean, he had both the Chinese accent and a homosexual lisp, so excuse me for not having the best ear in the world to be able decipher Gaysian.

Speaking of speaking, I told you that Paulie not only talks, but he can carry a tune. He and Marie even share a song together, the Randy Newman classic “Marie”. If you’ve never heard it, it’s a beautifully depressing tune about some neglectful asshole who doesn’t have the balls to express his deepest heartfelt emotions to the woman he loves unless he drinks enough liquid courage to do so.

What this has to do with the love between a girl and her bird, I don’t know. I never saw Paulie sip on bird-booze from a bird-flask nor did he ever ignore her. If anything, he couldn’t let her out of his sight, he loved her so much.

That leaves another disturbing possibility when you consider that the song was taught to Marie by her mother. So maybe the mom’s a drunk, like one of those secret boozer housewives that used to run rampant back in the day, because there was only so much one can do to keep from going mad staying home all day because they hadn’t yet invented the Internet or youth soccer organizations. There’s only so many dishes you can wash, and there’s only so many loads of laundry to launder, and there’s only so many pot roasts to make. Soon you’re gonna want more than just your common everyday Benzos to help you deal, you’re gonna want to wash those down with some white wine. And then some more white wine.

Eventually nothing matters in your numbed state anymore except for your little girl Marie. But even then, you know she’s not gonna stay little forever. Marie will eventually grow up. And then what? I’ll tell you then what — you keep drinking and you keep pilling, because the more you do, the easier it’ll be to push the thought of the inevitable to a far off foggy place in the back of your mind.

Or maybe they just sing the song because the girl’s name is Marie.

We soon find out that mom, Marie, and even Paulie have totally legitimate reasons to hit the bottle; one day, the father comes home and that’s when we find out that we have a goddamn Great Santini on our hands with this military motherfucker. Marie goes up to him and this piece of shit actually tells her to shake hands with him first, then eventually they’ll work up to kisses later. That left me immediately asking two questions: What the fuck? and Why the fuck?

Dad apparently was gone for a long time, because upon his return he’s upset that Marie still stutters. He can’t handle that, and after Mom puts Marie to bed, she then has to go downstairs and catch an ear-beating from him about Marie’s uncured speech impediment, as if that was an issue he set his wife to fix while he was out killing commies for his country. Poor Marie might have a stutter, but she’s not deaf, she has to hear all of this and the poor girl can only escape by dressing Paulie up as her fairy godmother and hoping he/she will grant her the ability to speak without stuttering, and it breaks my heart, man.

I don’t care how many yellow or brown throats you slit in the name of Freedom, don’t be like that with your daughter. Don’t be a distant fuck. All right, look, ladies & gentlemen, if you’re gonna have kids, please don’t. But if you still are, at least be good to those little fucks once they’re born. When I see shit like this in movies and especially in real life, it makes me thank God/Allah/Yahweh/Xenu/whoever-the-fuck for blessing me with the parents I ended up being life-saddled with.

I still remember this one time, way back in the day that I stopped at a friend’s house and I listened to the way his mom was saying some fucked-up passive aggressive shit to him about what a fuckin’ loser he was in her eyes. No wonder he had an underage drinking problem and seemed increasingly depressed with each passing day. I swear I wanted to run home to mommy and daddy and give them a big hug and apologize for whatever fuckin’ bullshit I might’ve bitched about that morning. I can’t handle seeing that shit, especially if its happening to the little girl from the Pepsi commercials. The fuck did she do? She never bothered me, she’s not her brother Jesse.

By the way, this movie was made in 1998 but I bet you if this were made today, you’d have “patriots” losing their shit about how this military dad was represented. God forbid if this dude wasn’t portrayed as a beautiful saint with red, white, and blue wings and an erect penis in the shape of the Holy Cross. I can see those diddle-faced twats on “Fox and Friends” bitching the live long day about how terrible it is that liberal Hollywood is making Our Boys looks like assholes.

Oh my god! Can you believe this? They’re disrespecting our troops in this talking parrot movie! Of course what else would you expect from Hollyweird!
 — wait, what? — another school shooting? Yeah, whatever, anyway, for our last story of the day, America haters are now saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas! Can you believe that? We’ve made three God’s Not Dead movies and they still don’t get it! 

Anyway, this piece of work father buys a cat and is somehow surprised that Paulie and the cat mix about as well as oil and water, and he has the gall and the balls to be upset by that. Next thing you know, Lieutenant Fuckface over here puts Paulie in a cage and takes him away to God-knows-where despite Marie’s crying and pleading for Paulie to come back to her.

What follows is a kind of bird version of Au Hasard Balthazar, in that we follow Paulie as he goes from owner to owner across the country — that is, if Balthazar the donkey talked and actually participated in the lives of his owners instead of being an overall passive lunk who observed things and let things happen to him.

Nah, Paulie doesn’t go out like that, he takes action — he talks, he sings, he kinda dances, and the only time people get the better of him is when he’s overpowered or as in one unsettling scene, he gets his wings clipped while he’s screaming in pain and I’m like “this is for kids?!”

Yes, it is for kids — there’s an unnecessary fart joke that comes out of nowhere to prove that. It feels like something that was added in post-production at the last minute because the studio got all cowardly about sending out a family film that didn’t satisfy every quotient including the scatological dollar.

Among the people he encounters on his travels: Jay Mohr in the flesh as a douchebag, Buddy Hackett as a pawn shop owner, Gena Rowlands as a widow, Cheech Marin as part of the problem in this great country, Jay Mohr again as a douchebag, and Bruce Davison as — holy shit, Bruce Davison? I just talked about you in the last blog entry, the one about Crazy/Beautiful! Welcome back, bro!

So how are you doing, Bruce? You’re playing the head of the research facility where Paulie ends up? That’s cool. Are you as understanding and compassionate as the guy you played in Crazy/Beautiful? No. Ah man, fuck you then. Nah, you’re cool with me Bruce, you were in Willard, bro. Remember that, when you were dealing with all those rats? And then they made a sequel without you and Michael Jackson sang a song about one of the rats? Now here you are dealing with birds, and unfortunately they didn’t get Michael Jackson to sing a song about Paulie. That’s kind of a missed opportunity, don’t you think?

But that’s OK because  — talk to you later, Bruce — that’s OK because they do have Cheech Marin sing “Cancion del Mariachi” from the film Desperado, which I thought was a great choice because it meant the filmmakers didn’t have to rack their brains too long while trying to look for a good Latin song for Cheech and Paulie to perform. That movie was probably playing on television in the background while they were having a script conference — it would’ve been a dead heat between that song and “Babalu” by Desi Arnaz, if it weren’t for that stupid intern accidentally changing the channel before “I Love Lucy” came on.

So let me talk about the Cheech stuff; he plays Ignacio (which they pronounce Anglo-style), the owner/operator of a taco truck that specializes in burritos. He and Paulie meet in East L.A. and become friendly business partners in performing song & dance routines for the patrons. I’m watching this and going, OK, this is cool — Cheech is just a good dude running a business, nothing too unusual or stereotypical about him aside from the fact that he’s played by Cheech. So I’m watching and I’m digging this, and then later it comes out that he’s an illegal alien. Because of course he is.

At one point, somebody tries to fuck him over by falsely reporting to the cops that his business is unsanitary and that he’s serving alcohol to minors — hey, I wonder if he sold any to my friend with the shitty mom? You’d think that should be enough. But no, they had to add the most important detail that he’s here without papers, and have that be the true part of the bogus police report.

Fine. Be that way, movie. At least Ignacio came off as a nice guy. I guess I should be grateful for that.

Speaking of nice immigrants, Misha the janitor is a really nice guy as well. Once he gets over the shock of meeting a talking parrot, he makes for a very patient and understanding person for Paulie to talk with. Everybody in this movie gives really good performances, including the 14 or so birds they used to portray Paulie before they threw them into an incinerator or wherever you put out of work birds. But Tony Shalhoub stands out in particular with his exceptional work here, especially during a monologue he gives Paulie about the regret he has for not talking to a girl from his past with whom he had fallen in love.

I want to give the writer of this film, Laurie Craig, extra points for the connection between Misha’s inability to tell a woman he loved her and Randy Newman’s song “Marie”, which if you remember what I said a few years earlier during this blog entry, is about being unable to tell someone you love them. Except of course, in the Marie song, that problem was solved via the miracle of alcohol, while apparently Misha is the one Russian on planet Earth who doesn’t drink. Let that be a lesson for you sober straight edge motherfuckers.

There are other examples throughout the film of characters who have hesitated in doing something they wanted to do, and how the passage of time ultimately fucked them in the ass for not going through with it:

Misha didn’t speak up to the woman he loved, and so she went on to marry his best friend.

Paulie was afraid to fly, which led to an accident that resulted in his separation from Marie.

Gena Rowlands’ character gave up on her dream of going to the Grand Canyon after the death of her husband, and ended up spending the rest of her golden years going nowhere.

Ignacio never fixed his pesky naturalization issues and is now back in the old country teaching OTMs how to say “Waas Sappening”.

And Marie’s mom hesitated in tying her piece of shit husband to a bed before setting that motherfucker on fire.

I was surprised by how Paulie was able to sneak in such serious internal struggles in a goofy family movie about a talking parrot. Yeah, I know, you’re right — it’s a stretch. Speaking of stretching, you should really limber up before you go fuck yourself.

Amy Adams has said that this movie makes her cry, and my friend Cathie on Twitter warned me that I would get teary-eyed while watching it. While I enjoyed the film and was touched by certain moments, I did all right in the Man Up department and was ready to call out both The Triple A and Cathie because not a single tear was shed — and then the ending happened. Upon watching the final revelation that hammered home the film’s running theme, my balls faded away as I gradually turned into Matthew McConaughey during those couple of scenes in Interstellar when everything was not alright alright alright.

Paulie is a sweet-natured film with the occasional laugh and a couple of tearjerker moments. It is truly a movie that the entire family can enjoy; the kids will like it and the adults won’t feel like hostages while watching it with them. And it’s good enough for grown-up solitary shut-ins like myself. It’s a nice movie. It put a smile on my face. And it makes such precious sense that who I perceive to be The Adorable Amy Adams would call Paulie one of her favorite films.

I’m happy that I finally saw the movie, but if there’s one thing that disappointed me about Paulie is that it failed to wipe away the memory of my old neighbor who had gotten a parrot of his own and took to having it perched on his shoulder. Everyday, I would arrive home after work and run to my door before the newly retired gentleman across the street noticed me. Because if he did, he would call me over for a little chit chat, which would mean I would have to talk to him and try my best to ignore that the man’s shoulder was always caked with bird shit. He had to know what he had going on there, he had just had to! And yet he did nothing about it, which meant that he didn’t care and he was consciously or subconsciously getting off on being nice to me in behavior while being incredibly hostile towards me in appearance.

In conclusion, I’m glad I called the cops on his drug-dealing son. That’s what the little fucker gets for not giving me a discount.

Relax. They left a long time ago.

Posted in Crazy/Beautiful, douchebag, podcast, ramblings of a loser, Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 17, 2018 by efcontentment

Download the podcast version (right click and save)

The past few months I’ve been in the process of digitizing my DVD collection because I like the idea of taking of all my easily available movies to a distant hard-to-reach location. That way, if I want to see one of these movies, my only choice is to try to access them on an incredibly finicky storage format that is not at all known to crash depending on what day it happens to be.

While going through my movies, I came across a DVD for a film I hadn’t seen in quite a while, and by merely holding the box, I had taken a bite out of Proust’s Madeleine, whisking me back to the year 2001 — a  year I look back on fondly.

A year of fun.

A year of love.

A year of hope.

A year of dreams.

Yup, 2001 was a particularly awesome year bursting with nothing but great times.

Well, uh, except for the other thing.

But let’s just, uh, forget about that one unfortunate event for a moment and focus on the —

WHAT THE FUCK? WHAT DO YOU MEAN FORGET, MOTHERFUCKER?! YOU WANNA FORGET WHAT HAPPENED? HUH? DO YOU? YOU GODDAMN FUCKIN COMMIE SOCIALIST TERRORIST FEMINIST SJW DINDU NUFFIN LOVING KNEELING FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM FAGGOT CUCK FUCK?! WELL YOU GO AHEAD AND FORGET. GO AHEAD, IT’S A FREE COUNTRY. A COUNTRY MADE FREE BY AMERICAN SOLDIERS WHO SACRIFICED THEIR LIVES SO YOU CAN HAVE YOUR PRECIOUS FREEDOM AND SO THEY CAN GET THEIR COLLEGE EDUCATION PAID FOR. BUT THERE’S ONE THING YOU CAN’T FORGET. ALL RIGHT ALL RIGHT LOOK, YOU SEE THIS? YOU SEE THAT? YOU SEE THAT? DO I DO I HAVE TO ASK YOU AGAIN? YOU SEE THAT? YOU SEE THESE COLORS? THESE THREE COLORS OVER HERE? LOOK AT ‘EM. I SAID LOOK AT EM. YOU SEE THIS? DO YOU SEE THIS? I SAID DO YOU SEE THESE COLORS? YOU DO? GOOD. CUZ LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING ABOUT THESE HERE COLORS. SOMETHING I BET THOSE LIBTARD PROFESSORS IN THAT FANCY COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF YOURS DIDN’T TEACH YOU. THESE COLORS? THESE THREE COLORS? LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING ABOUT THESE COLORS. 

THESE COLORS? 


THEY DON’T RUN. 

YOU GOT THAT? THEY DON’T RUN.  

DON’T MESS — DON’T MESS WITH THAT. 

NOW YOU GO AND TAKE THAT BACK TO HOLLYWEIRD COMMIE MEXI-CALIFORNIA AND DON’T YOU FUCKIN’ FORGET IT. 

I sure won’t, sir. Perhaps “forget” was the wrong word. What I meant was, let’s not dwell on that, let’s not make that the topic of this particular blog entry/episode. I’m just trying to set up my ramblings about a movie.

I’m just saying — what I’m trying to say — is that I remember that time — most of that time — being a particularly free-flowing fountain of fun for me and my fellow fellows. It was during those wonderfully irresponsible limbos between high school, college, and the real world, when those of us who had jobs used our paychecks towards financing our weekends — weekends that weren’t necessarily relegated to Friday and Saturday. And yet, despite the parties and the drinking and the drugs, my fondest pastimes involved none of those. The experiences I remember the most involved seeing movies or hearing live music or going to museums.

Oh, and banging chicks.

Now if we must go back to the September-sized elephant in the 2001 room — one can almost look at what happened on that fateful day as a cold hard slap of Reality to remind the rest of us lucky enough to continue our existence that everything is finite.

So enjoy the good times while they last, motherfuckers.

I have no idea what I’m trying to say with all of this or if I’m even trying to say anything with all of this. I think I’m just trying to put you in the same frame of mind that I was when I found this DVD of a movie that was released in the summer of that awesome/horrible year: Nostalgia. It hit hard and refreshed my memory of the first time I saw this movie.

It was a warm July evening when my friend and I went to a classmate’s apartment with hopes of convincing her to appear in a short film that we were making for a student project because she was taking acting classes, but more importantly, she was attractive. After walking up three flights of stairs, we arrived at her place and were greeted by the scent of long-extinguished marijuana and the sight of this lovely-looking woman and her skater boy minions gathered around a 27-inch Philips CRT television set watching amateur video of long-haired, cap-wearing White boys trying to land various tricks on skateboards with a success ratio of 30-percent.

The girl — who we’ll call Avril — noticed that I was particularly winded and I immediately gave a chuckle, and with the little breath I had to spare I said something incredibly witty and on point like “You sure have a lot of stairs.”

Avril smirked and responded with “Looks like somebody has to hit the gym” and I’m sure her skater boy minions would’ve high-fived her and each other, were they not already entranced by Jonny D-Boy Deez pulling off a sick Sigma flip on the television.

(Avril didn’t end up in the film.) 

Preemptively defeated, my friend and I decided to end the evening by taking in a movie. We stopped at a local AMC theatre and decided on the film starring that cute snaggletoothed chick from Bring it On, co-starring some dude who was a friend of a friend from high school, and directed by Cougar from Top Gun.

Originally titled At Seventeen before being changed to something more stylish, Crazy/Beautiful stars Kirsten Dunst as Nicole Oakley, a teenager who goes to a very nice high school and lives in a very nice house in the very nice L.A. coastal region known as the Pacific Palisades. Financially, she has zero problems. Emotionally, the bitch got issues. Her mother died a few years back and it seems like the only way Nicole can deal is by getting wasted — whenever, wherever.

Meanwhile, there’s Mexican-American Carlos Nunez played by Jay Hernandez and he’s from the brown side of the tracks aka the barrio. He lives among mi hard working gente who wake up early every morning to go to work even though your average Hispano-hater would call them lazy. And yet at the same time they’ll complain about these people stealing jobs. Well, which is it, you indecisive fucks? Are these dirty wetbacks lazy or working? Because they can’t be both. Pick one reason to hate and stick with it, you fucking cunts.

Anyway, Carlos also wakes up early, except in his case it’s not to be a lazy beaner working an eighteen hour day in this country made great again. He wakes up at five in the morning so he can catch a bus that takes him to the same high school Nicole attends. See, the thing with mi hermano Carlos is that he has aspirations. He has dreams. He wants to attend Annapolis and he wants to become a Navy pilot. And that means busting his ass harder than your average student — not unlike how immigrants to this country, legal or illegal, tend to put more effort in comparison to people who were born here.

I like how a sequence early in the film reflects this, in a way, sorta, kinda. I mean, Carlos is a born American but I’m gonna go ahead and still use this as a metaphor because I need something to talk about. What I’m saying is that at the beginning of the film, you see Carlos going through his way-too-early-in-the-morning-for-a-teenager routine. You can tell that he doesn’t waste a second to lolly-gag; his mom wakes him up, he gets dressed, he eats a fast breakfast, and then takes off in the pale blue early morning light for what looks like a long walk to a bus stop for what is clearly going to be a long commute to school. 
Then we cut to Nicole’s bedroom to see how the other half gets ready for school. Now we’re at a much more reasonable morning hour and the sun is as out as a homosexual in the Castro, but Nicole is still in bed, wide awake. Like Carlos, a Latina is there to make sure she’s up. Unlike Carlos, the Latina is her housekeeper. Wearing the wrinkled shirt and drawstring pants ensemble she was sleeping in, Nicole eventually gets up and shuffles herself over to the kitchen where she then serves herself a bowl of cereal with a Paxil chaser before sitting down to enjoy the cartoon “Ed, Edd N Eddy”. She then gets picked up by her best friend Maddy, and off she goes to school — in the same clothes that she slept in. I’m assuming she took a shower the night before, but that still doesn’t excuse going to school in dirty clothes, especially a girl in her income bracket.

But hey, that’s America for you. Regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity: the privileged are really all just a bunch of dirty White girls.

And Nicole is most definitely a dirty White girl. The overhead shot that establishes the filthy bedroom she sleeps in — it’s just a mess with clothes and various rich girl knick knacks filling the place up and there’s mud tracked in on the floor. Who knows how long that’s been there. Clearly, Nicole’s bedroom is the one room the maid is not allowed in. And yet I bet you it’s Carlos who will more likely be called “dirty” by someone because he’s a Brown and people are fucking assholes. 

But that’s OK, because I’m an asshole too and I’m going to continue to demonstrate that by bringing up just how fucking greasy Nicole looks with her oily skin and unwashed hair. I think that’s the point though, because later in the film, there’s a part where she’s at a quinceañera and as she passes by a couple of guests, you can hear them refer to her as sucia which is Spanish for dirty. 
By the way, I remember someone in the movie theater say out loud “man, she’s greasy” and my friend and I tried our best not to laugh. Afterward, we wondered if that person was referring to Nicole’s shiny skin or the fact that her character had just finished scarfing down tacos. Maybe she hadn’t wiped her mouth completely.

The film underwent reshoots — more on those later — but you can tell which scenes were reshot because Dunst not only looks a lot cleaner and fresh-faced in them, but her hair is styled differently and it’s clearly dyed red despite the attempts to light her in a way that you wouldn’t be able to tell. But you can still tell, you can still tell that she just walked in from shooting the first Spider-Man where she was Mary Jane Watson, a character who probably showered and changed clothes more often than Nicole. 

All right,  so I mentioned Nicole being at a quinceañera earlier and you’re wondering how she ended up there. See, this is a love story and so Nicole and Carlos end up hooking up — and all that that entails. They first meet at the beach where Carlos and his homies are chilling out and she’s there doing community service by picking up trash, because drinking and driving is against the law and you should never do it unless you know for sure that you won’t get caught.

I remember when I once had to do community service; I wasn’t driving drunk or anything like that, I got caught by a red light camera at 3 in the morning. Being unemployed and broke, I took the option to work off my fine. By the way, you still have to pay to do community service. One way or the other, they’re getting some money out of your criminal ass.

So I was given fifty hours to work off, and I ended up doing those hours folding clothes at a local Goodwill, but after nearly murdering the bitch-whore manager and her pig fuck assistant manager, I was then transferred to a church where I picked up trash and cleaned tables. Unlike the Goodwill store, they let me listen to my iPod while I worked and they would give me double, sometimes even triple hours credit for a day’s work and so I was able to fulfill my fifty hours rather quickly. It was a Catholic church, so for all I know, they were banging altar boys two at a time, but because they were super chill and nice to me, I didn’t give a fuck.

So anyway, yeah, they hook up, and what’s interesting is that despite Carlos being from the poorer streets of East L.A. and Nicole actually being a resident of Pacific Palisades, he appears to be more of a well-oiled cog in the social machine of this high school than she is. Whereas Carlos is a straight-A student and star athlete on the football team, Nicole is more the type to ditch class just so she can drink and get high in the school parking lot with her equally dirty hippie druggy friends.

In her defense, Nicole isn’t a total useless layabout. She’s an intelligent girl and really into photography, specifically making scrapbook art using her pictures. When she’s not getting wasted, you can find Nicole developing her photographs in the darkroom at school. You can also find her making out with Carlos in the darkroom at school.

So yeah, they’re both ethnic and social opposites, and as Paula Abdul and her lover MC Skat Kat told us long ago: opposites attract. You have Carlos who has been toeing the line and following the rules for most of his life and you have Nicole who doesn’t seem to give a shit about anything resembling Responsibility, and I guess they each want what the other has — his dick and her vagina.

Maddy understands why her friend is into Carlos — “Break me off some of that shit!” she says — but Carlos’ friends and family don’t get it one bit. At home, his mother and brother are friendly to Nicole but they’re also clearly wary of this guera who seems too wild a force for Carlos to reckon with. At school, his football teammates are befuddled as to why he would blow off an after-game party with them just so he can hang out with a couple of drunk damaged goods like Nicole and Maddy instead. They’re probably thinking, why the interest in the skanks when there will be cleaner higher quality trim at the party?

I get it. I mean, Nicole and Maddy are already drunk and therefore halfway there. These other girls at the party, I mean they’re clean and all, but they are gonna make you work for that shit, and if I just played four quarters of good old American football, I’m gonna be too tired to have to make with the charm when I shouldn’t even be going through all that rigamarole. Fuck, I’m a goddamn football star! You and the rest of the potentials should all be lining up for this fuckin’ chorizo, and if I make it into the NFL then maybe — maybe — I’ll take one of you with me, and as soon as I start making the big bucks, you can buy yourself all the stuff you want while I go bang some broad behind your back at whatever hotel I happen to be staying at after a game. And if you think I’m being a pig about this, shit, you go right on ahead and bang Paco the pool boy, Terrence the trainer, and Danny the Dietician if that’s what you want to do. That’s your prerogative. If I’m cheating on you, you can cheat on me, because I believe in equality! 

The one person who really doesn’t want Carlos to go out with Nicole is her congressman father, Tom, played by Bruce Davison. But it’s not for the reason you would think because you’ve seen movies before. It’s not because of Carlos’ social standing or his being a goddamn Messican. In fact, as Nicole points out earlier, her father is such a fuckin’ libtard social justice warrior who will show off pictures of himself with Jimmy Carter and Father Greg Boyle whenever possible, he probably wouldn’t be able to contain his boner upon finding out his daughter is banging raza.

I appreciate the sentiment, Tom, but you can’t be happy just because your daughter is fucking any brown dude, because what if she ends up banging Hector the cholo who just got out of Chino?

“Why Hector, it sounds like you and my daughter are quite the couple now.”

“That’s right, puto, Nicole’s wit me now, ese. Chee don’t belong to you, mang. Chee’s my hina, now.”

That wouldn’t be so nice, now, would it, Tom?

Thankfully, Tom can unclench his sphincter because Carlos is one of the good ones. And that’s why Tom wants Carlos to stay far away. See, Tom doesn’t want Carlos to go near his daughter because he knows Carlos is headed for a bright future, and that hanging out with his dark cloud of a rebellious daughter will only fuck all of that up for him. It’s actually a very heartbreaking scene when Tom tells Carlos this, and Davison’s performance during it is excellent; here’s a father who you can tell has aged considerably in the past few years as a result of trying to put back the pieces of his broken daughter, and now he’s resigned to hoping that she merely keeps the damage to herself. 

It’s not just Bruce Davison putting in quality work here in the acting department; Kirsten Dunst is legitimately fucking great in this movie, and I would put her performance here right up there with some of her other acclaimed roles like The Virgin Suicides and Melancholia. (Man, she sure likes playing depressed.) And all I knew about Jay Hernandez before this film was that he was on one of those wannabe Saturday morning “Saved by the Bell” fraud perpetrators on NBC called “Hang Time” and that a friend of a friend went to high school with him — which practically makes me and him fuckin’ related, bro. But he knocks it out the park here too.

I understand Hernandez is going to be the new Magnum P.I. on CBS, which I don’t know how to feel about. On the one hand, it’s great to see him get a big role like that, but on the other hand, there’s only one Thomas Magnum and his name is Tom Motherfuckin’ Selleck. On the one hand, his ethnicity is gonna be more fuel for the kneejerk types who love to bitch about what they perceive to be everything becoming P.C., including the casting on the reboots of their beloved favorite shows. But on the other hand, fuck those guys in their secretly bigoted mouths with their fathers’ openly racist cocks.

Eh, what do I care. Shit’s probably gonna get cancelled after two weeks, anyway.

When my friend and I went to see this movie back in the awesome/horrible year of 2001, we were just looking to kill a couple hours watching what appeared to be a throwaway teen flick. By the end, we were surprised by how good it turned out to be. Crazy/Beautiful was more mature compared to its contemporaries, which were mostly goofy comedies. OK, yeah, I know Ghost World came out that same summer but that film is in a class of its own, and if I’m gonna be real with you, I feel like that one is not so much a film for teens as its really a film about teens but for adults. But this one felt more like an actual teen film that took its target audience seriously.

Even the style of the film was different from other teen films of the time, with a kind of moody blue-ish look to some scenes and a harsh hyper-real lighting to others; the cinematography was done by Shane Hurlbut, a man who has worked on many Hollywood films and television shows but you will know him best as the subject of Christian Bale’s wrath on the set of Terminator Salvation. I can only assume Kirsten Dunst did not threaten to trash Hurlbut’s lights on this movie.

Some of the songs used in the film led to me buying the soundtrack — and by “buying the soundtrack”, I mean I downloaded it illegally on one of those Napster wannabe sites. One of the songs on it is called “Shattered” by Remy Zero (remember them?), but to be honest that song worked much better in the 1998 film Suicide Kings starring Christopher Walken. But there were a couple that were far more fitting and evocative, and they sounded like they wouldn’t sound out of place on some cool public radio music show like Morning Becomes Eclectic on KCRW — which is why I wasn’t too surprised when they did pop up on that radio station: “To Be Free” by Emiliana Torrini, and “I Want to Believe You”, a collaboration between singer/songwriter Lori Carson and the film’s composer — former member of Tangerine Dream, Paul Haslinger. There’s also another one I really like called “Who Am I” by Lily Frost (no relation to Kid Frost). It’s such a chick song, but I don’t give a shit. I like chick songs and I like chick movies, bros, come at me.

Crazy/Beautiful is very well-acted and directed from a sensitively written screenplay that treats everybody in the movie like human beings — even Carlos’ douchebag teammate who introduced the pejorative “browntown” into my lexicon. He’s a douche, all right, but I’ve known douches like that douche. All that plus the stylish music and atmospheric visuals turn this teenage love story into a genuine mood piece.

Having said all that, I also feel that the film has some serious flaws. Yes, it’s better than most films of its type that were released back then. But it doesn’t ditch all the pitfalls of the genre either. Most of the problems are relegated to the final act of the film, where you can tell that the studio wanted everything to wrap up quickly and in a neat little bow. But there are also scenes that pop up during the rest of the film that feel as if the studio had been asleep for most of the production until they finally woke up and freaked out over what was being made: a serious teen drama that respected the intelligence of the people watching it. And they certainly couldn’t let that happen.

There are a couple scenes — one of them an obvious reshoot featuring a red-haired Dunst — that damn near make me cringe from watching the characters as they practically spell out and draw on a map what they’re going through. Without spoiling anything, there’s one scene where you can see everything you need to know about what a character is feeling just by looking at the actor’s incredibly emotive face. Then in the very next scene, you have that same character practically explaining for the people in the cheap seats what just happened.

There are also way too many montages for my taste. Unless your name is Rocky IV, cool it with the montages, people. Having said that, there’s one montage that features Maddy trying to cheer up a morose Nicole by playing her a song on the guitar, and that always makes me laugh even though I don’t think I’m supposed to laugh.

Anyway, a lot of my suspicions about the film were confirmed in the DVD audio commentary by director John Stockwell and Kirsten Dunst; during production, the studio informed the filmmakers that Crazy/Beautiful had to be released with a PG-13. This meant scenes were changed and/or shot differently than originally intended in order to ensure that the film would receive the family friendly rating. But even that didn’t save them, because after the film was shot, it turned out that the film was still considered too strong for the rating and so then they had to edit stuff out. Mostly, what ended up being taken out was Nicole’s propensity for strong drink and illicit substances. But also removed was dialogue considered too strong for PG-13 ears and some sweet sweet physical blending of brown and white flesh aka fuckin’.

Reportedly, Stockwell’s cut was over thirty minutes longer and featured the stuff that was deemed too much for the average teen who was probably no stranger to alien concepts like drinking beer and pulling out. It’s too bad this wasn’t a Miramax or Dimension film because that would mean they would’ve released that cut on DVD after the Weinsteins — oy vey! what a shanda! — left that company, the way they finally released the director’s cuts of Bad Santa and Copland as a final fuck you to those departing asshole creepers.

So now I’m just left with the option of breaking into John Stockwell’s house and stealing what I’m guessing is the only available copy of the director’s cut, and I bet you it’s on VHS. I’ll go in prepared; if suddenly the lights turn on and I’m facing down John Stockwell in his underwear, aiming a Glock 22 .40 caliber and he asks me just what in the fuck am I doing in his house at 3 in the goddamn morning, I’ll pull out a Sharpie and my DVD of My Science Project and tell him “I just came to get your autograph, my man!”

Even with studio interference, the final cut of Crazy/Beautiful is still a much better movie than it has any right to be, and it’s too bad the filmmakers weren’t allowed to see the true vision of the picture all the way through. But what are you gonna do? It was the early 2000s, the beginning of the end for this type of big studio movie and the only choices left would’ve been to hop in a time machine with the screenplay and jump forward fifteen years in the future where it would’ve gotten some love as a lower-budgeted R-rated indie that premiered on VOD, or take that time machine back to 1980 back when studios would’ve been like “Teenagers drinking and drugging and fucking and using the F-word? Sure! Here’s a million bucks, have at it!” and it would’ve starred Jodie Foster and Danny De La Paz.

But I’m gonna be even more real with you and admit that maybe, maybe the movie is good but it isn’t that good. Maybe in the same way that re-watching this movie in 2018 took me down Nostalgia Road, watching Crazy/Beautiful for the first time in 2001 took me back to an entirely different lifetime that was a mere two years earlier: I’m talking about high school when I was dealing with my own Nicole experiences.

I don’t mean that she was fucked up on drugs, booze, and mommy issues. I’m just saying that in high school I dated out of Browntown a couple times and that was kind of a big deal. I mean, today that means nothing to me. If I like a girl, and her standards are lowered and she likes me, race and ethnicity and nationality don’t figure into it — at least not until it’s time to visit her parents. But that’s another story — a story that ends with: I never get myself far enough into a relationship to visit any girl’s parents. Fuck that shit. I don’t need some asshole playing the passive aggressive Are You Worthy Of My Daughter game, or worse, if they’re not a Brown, the How Different Are Your People From My People game with special guests Well-Meaning Liberal Mom, Distrustful Conservative Dad, and Asshole Brother & His Equally Asshole Friend.

Anyway, watching Crazy/Beautiful back in 2001 brought back those high school memories. There were a couple things that kind of cut a little deeper than I was expecting, like the part where Nicole puts her pale arm next to Carlos’ tanned arm and says “Look how good our skin looks next to each other.” I actually had a girl of the porcelain persuasion do that to me. She didn’t say anything, she just put her arm against mine and I guess she loved the contrast? I’m not sure. All I know is that I then showed her what a smooth motherfucker I was by immediately complaining about how thin my wrists were — and still are, by the way. I don’t know what to do. I’ve been doing wrist curls, knuckle pushups, to say nothing of constant masturbation. And still, my middle finger and thumb can practically touch each other if I wrap my hand around my wrist. The fuck, man.

There’s also a part where Nicole and Maddy insist that Carlos order from the taco truck in Spanish for them, because they like the sound of that language, and that’s happened to me a couple times with the non-Spanish speakers I dated back then. They’d want to hear me speak Spanish, particularly in food ordering situations. I don’t remember if any of the wait staff rolled their eyes at my dates, the way the lady in the taco truck in this film did to Nicole and Maddy, though.

And you wanna hear the most Twilight Zone part of this whole deal? The Anglo girls I dated back in high school were named Nicole and Kirsten.

What am I saying? Movies are subjective. And if a movie can create Inception-style multi-level waves of nostalgia that causes the viewer to feel nostalgia for the movie that made him or her feel nostalgia, then that’s a top notch mind & emotional fuck of a cinema experience, right there. Even with the lame narration, one-too-many montages, and that cringe-worthy final shot, even with all those flaws, Crazy/Beautiful is that good — to me. Because it’s ultimately about how movies make you feel, right? Many movies bring back memories, and this is just one of them.

By the way, big ups to my sister for naming my niece Nicole, effectively ruining that name for me. But what was I supposed to say? Don’t name your daughter after a girl I had a semester long relationship with in high school who certainly doesn’t remember me but I sure as heckfire remember her because my heart is cursed with goddamn Marilu Henner’s disease? Chale

Very late but worth the — no, not really.

Posted in An American Werewolf in London, Brainscan, Death Bed: The Bed that Eats, douchebag, Dusk-To-Dawn Horrorthon, Hack-O-Lantern, movie marathon, podcast, Popcorn, ramblings of a loser, Shocker, The Tingler, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2017 by efcontentment

 Link to the podcast version of this post, for those with no time to read (right click and save)

It was the evening of October 28th in this foul year of our Lord, 2017, and the weather in Santa Monica was finally feeling something resembling “autumnal”. The marquee over the entrance to the Aero Theatre said that this was the 12th Annual Dusk Till Dawn Horrorthon and I thought Wow, I don’t even know how many of these I’ve attended by this point — which is really my loss, because the Horrorthon is always a good time.

Not that I always 100-percent felt that way. If you read my earlier blog entries on previous Horrorthons, you’ll find that it took me a few years to get the stick out of my ass about the full freak flag flaunting at these fine festivities — the screaming host, the audience members wearing costumes, the call-and-response gags between the screen and the audience during the on-screen interstitials, the on-stage theatrics featuring characters with names like Corn Gorn, Abraham LinkedIn, and Wizard Policeman — but I can now assure you that a combination of age mellowing me out as well as an overwhelmingly apocalyptic sense of the outside world has taught me to enjoy myself whenever and wherever, making this particular exit cavity stick free.

Stick.

Once we were all inside and ready for the 12 or so hours of horror films both goofy and non-goofy — intentional and unintentional — the evening began with our host, Mr. Grant Moninger, running up on stage, mic in hand, welcoming us the same way he’s welcomed us in past Horrorthons: with explosive energy expelled at the audience as if he had too much in him and had to make room for even more building up within him that also had to come out violently. Of course, it riled us all up and so we responded in kind with cheers and hoots and hollers — maybe not at him but at something, that’s for sure.

The marathon began with the now-traditional use of the 1980s television series T.J. Hooker, starring William Shatner, where we watched portions of an episode while fake credits featuring the names of  Horrorthon attendees popped up on-screen. Following that were the first round of interstitials that would play between films throughout the night, beginning with some of the old favorites such as the Corn Gorn prayer song, the “Alan” marmot, the Red Roof Inn commercial, both versions of Dennis Parker’s song “Like an Eagle“, the Energizer commercial, and Brent, among others. There were some new ones too, such as the takeoff/recreation of old advertisements for 1-900 or 976 numbers that featured the song “Library” from the album “Floral Shoppe” by Macintosh Plus; the music is from the Vaporwave genre, and I think they came up with the name “Vaporwave” because “White People Appropriating The ‘Chopped & Screwed’ Genre From Black People” was too long.

This year, Telly Savalas was introduced into the Horrorthon cast of characters; we watched on-stage as the Bride of Corn Gorn ran off with the bald-headed actor (portrayed by a volunteer wearing a Telly Savalas mask), and we also watched the real Mr. Savalas on the big screen in a couple of clips. The first was from some 70s television program — which had a distinctly European feel to it — where our man Telly stood before a black void, smoking a cigarette and wearing a black velvet jacket with matching shirt that was unbuttoned to expose both his manly chest and various gold necklaces, as he performed his spoken word cover of the song “If” by the group Bread.

The second Telly clip was from an Australian television series called “The Extraordinary“, one of those shows where people tell stories about their experiences with the paranormal, otherworldly, and yes, extraordinary. Celebrity guest Savalas told a story from his younger days — accompanied by a cheesy reenactment — where he found himself stranded in the middle of the night on a highway in an automobile with no gas, even though he had just come from a date and you would think he’d make sure he had more than enough gas to cover any possible detours, I mean, who knows how fun this date could’ve ended up, you have to be prepared for such possibilities.

So Telly’s walking down the road, gas can in hand, when a Cadillac pulls up and a creepy high-pitched Good Samaritan offers him a ride to the nearest filling station. The man offers to lend Savalas’ broke ass some money to pay for the gas, and again, I have to chide Mr. Savalas for not thinking ahead, because he clearly only had enough money to cover the date — barely, at that, and I’m sorry, but if you can barely afford something, that really means you cannot afford it.

That goes for dates, that goes for car purchases, that goes for buying a house, buying clothes, all of that. Trust me, lady and gentleman, always give yourself financial breathing room before going in on any kind of purchase: it’ll keep the repo man away, it’ll keep your inbox clear of Past Due notices, and most importantly, it’ll keep you from catching a late night lift from some creepy high-pitched Good Samaritan — who turned out to be a ghost, by the way, there’s the ending to that story.

The first film of the evening was An American Werewolf in London, from 1981, written and directed by master decapitator John Landis. Oh, I kid the head chopper — I used to be hard on the poor guy about that snafu on the set of the Twilight Zone movie that ended three lives and ruined countless others, but now that it’s coming out how frighteningly rape-tastic Hollywood is, I find his crimes are now rather innocent in comparison. Dude pulled the Fuck It card as far as safety was concerned, but who hasn’t thrown caution to the wind when it involved somebody else’s life? It’s not like he grabbed Vic Morrow by the pussy and he certainly didn’t fuck those little kids — well, not sexually, anyway.

David Naughton and Griffin Dunne are two young dudes out backpacking in England’s countryside, and for a couple of guys talking about chicks they want to bang, they’re actually kinda likable, all things considered. I bet you if they were to make the same movie today, they’d be douchebros right out of an Eli Roth film. Anyway, they end up veering off the road and out comes el hombre lobo to massacre one of them, leaving the Dr. Pepper guy barely breathing.

The rest of the film involves David recovering from his wounds in London, where he hits it off with his nurse, followed by just straight up hitting it. The nurse is played by Jenny Agutter, and if you’ve seen her in Walkabout or Logan’s Run, you’d want her as your nurse too. I’m not into the domination thing — on either end — but that part where Agutter is trying to get Makin’ It over here to eat his food at the hospital and she says “Shall I be forced to feed you, David?”, ay dios mio. I started feeling really weird in a good way and when she says after that, “Will I have to take such drastic action again, David?”, I don’t know why, but I felt like she was talking to me and my response was YESSSS YES YOU DO NURSE JENNY AGUTTER FORCE ME TO EAT.

I’m just kidding, you never have force me to eat. I eat everything, man. Anyway, David turns into a werewolf.

I first saw this in 2004 and hadn’t seen it since, but my opinion remains the same: when John Landis was on, he was ON, and this might be my favorite of his films. Landis balances horror, comedy, drama, and sex with Jenny Agutter in a shower all so effortlessly. Lots of credit of course goes to Rick Baker and his terrific effects work; the sequence where David goes through his excruciating transformation from man to werewolf still stuns, and by the end of it, when you see the shot of the full moon while hearing David do the Altered Beast howl, the audience broke out into applause.

The second film was the 1991’s Popcorn, directed by Mark Herrier (who was replacing original director Alan Ormsby). Jill Schoelen stars as Maggie, a film student studying at a college in the Central Coast of California — or at least that’s what I assumed based on the look of the locations, so imagine my delightful surprise when I found out the entire film was shot in Jamaica.

Maggie and her fellow film students — played by Profile from Heartbreak Ridge, Ellen Sue from A League of their Own, and the dyslexic girl from Summer School who was trying to get her driver’s license, among others — come up with the idea to raise money for the film department by throwing an all-night horrorthon at an old theater that is set to be wrecking ball’d in a few weeks. When the idea is brought up, the words “all-night horrorthon” are actually used, so of course all of us in the Aero cheered wildly upon hearing that.

You don’t get much movie geek chat during the film class scenes, which in 1991 would probably consist of debating who was the better director: Orson Welles or Alfred Hitchcock. Maybe they’d go on about guys like Lucas and Spielberg too. Had the film been made a few years later it would be Quentin Tarantino, or it would be like the film class scene in Scream 2 but less insufferable. You make Popcorn today at this very moment, you probably couldn’t get them to shut the fuck up about Edgar Wright and Baby Driver.

While cleaning up the place to make it all presentable for the people who are going to spill popcorn, soda, and god knows what else all over the place on movie night, the students and their professor discover an old film that contains a legitimately freaky short called “Possessor”, made by a cult leader who went on to pull a Shosanna Dreyfus by setting fire to the theater playing “Possessor”. So maybe that has something to do with the murders that occur later on during the Horrorthon, right?

I remember seeing the television ads for this film back in ’91; it was sold as a straight-up horror film worthy of being included with Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, I mean they actually mention those films in the ads; I dismissed it as some wannabe slasher that clearly wasn’t going to be as good as those films. When I finally caught it on HBO a year later — where it played back-to-back with the Tom Savini remake of Night of the Living Dead — I was surprised by how much I liked it. I was also surprised by the tone; Popcorn qualifies as a slasher, but not a particularly bloody or brutal one. It’s a much lighter — even comedic — film compared to the one that was advertised.

The films-within-the-film that play during the horrorthon are the biggest source of humor in Popcorn; they are all from the 50s and 60s and include William Castle-style gimmicks; the first is about a giant mosquito, which means a fake giant mosquito flies over the audience; the second is about an prison escapee going on a rampage with his new power to kill with electric shocks, so of course there are shock buzzers placed under the theater seats; and the third is a dubbed Japanese movie about a killer gas (?) which plays while nasty odors get pumped in through the air vents of the auditorium.

I liked it even more during this second go-round; watching it with an audience at an actual all-night horror movie marathon added to the fun and I recommend it as part of your own all-nighter playlist. Or maybe as part of a double feature with Joe Dante’s Matinee, which also involves William Castle-esque gimmickry.

Speaking of William Castle gimmickry, our third film of the night was an actual William Castle joint: 1959’s The Tingler, directed by Castle and starring Vincent Price. The film begins with a prologue where Castle tells the audience how there’s nothing wrong with screaming if the fear gets to be too much, because sometimes screaming might save your life. See, in the world of The Tingler, we all have a centipede living on our spine, rent-free, never so much as taking out the trash every once in a while and god forbid it remembers to replace an empty toilet paper roll with a new one.

I mean, really, what kind of fucking asshole doesn’t replace the toilet paper? I don’t get it. It takes two seconds to take the empty roll out and put a new one in. This is why I prefer the company of myself — I wash dishes as soon as I’m done using them and I replace the toilet paper roll. Whenever I see an empty toilet paper roll, I can only assume that the lazy motherfucker who used the toilet last is walking around with a shitty ass because he or she prefers to stay dirty down there rather than put up a fresh roll so they can finish the job properly. Anyway, motherfuck a Tingler.

A Tingler lives on your spine and when you get scared it grows like my anger towards people who don’t replace toilet paper rolls. It grows and grows and if you don’t scream or stop being scared, the Tingler grows stronger and eventually crushes your spine, the way I would crush the spine of some motherless fuck who won’t replace the goddamn toilet paper roll.

Price makes friends with the owner/manager of a silent movie theater, who like every other man in this film wears a suit to work. Even the middle-aged employee working the ticket booth is wearing a suit. Go to your average revival movie house today and if you see an employee wearing a suit at work, he’s probably wearing it with a day-glo tie over a t-shirt displaying a rainbow or a unicorn, and he’s probably sexually harassing the female volunteers. Anyway, that dude has a deaf-mute wife who figures into the plot, and his movie theater figures into the climax in a clever way that involves both the on-screen audience and those of us watching this in an actual movie theater.

This was lots of fun; even the non-Tingler stuff is a hoot, like the scenes between Price and his unpleasant wife where everything they say to each other is dripping in Fuck You. Or the scene where Price takes acid as a way to work up his fear to test his inner Tingler, giving a play-by-play into one of those old-school dictation machines the entire time. That reminded me of the time I recorded myself on a microcassette recorder after I took shrooms. I ended up composing some weird Bobby McFerrin-esque tune with gibberish lyrics. Then I lost the tape.

I got a kick out of how everybody in this movie operates on various levels of Asshole; Price can be short with people who ask simple questions, his wife’s a bitch, the deaf-mute woman refuses to shake hands with people, and Price’s partner leaves a poor dog in the car with the windows rolled up and because it’s the 1950s nobody cares.

This was originally released with a Castle-designed gimmick called “Percepto” with seats in the theater that would give out a vibrating buzz in order to freak the audience out into thinking that the Tingler was doing its thing on them. The screening at the Aero didn’t have that setup, so instead they had volunteers walk up and down the aisles whipping out these long furry snake-like vibrators onto our laps. At least I hope that’s what it was, and not a bunch of well-endowed pervs having their way with us.

Anyway, get a bidet. They’re awesome.

The fourth film was the 1988 masterpiece Hack-o-Lantern (aka Halloween Night), directed by Jag Mundhra, a name that should be familiar to anyone who has watched more than his or her fair share of late-night Skinemax in the 90s; with titles like Night Eyes, Last Call, Sexual Malice, and Improper Conduct under his belt, Mr. Mundhra gets my eternal respect for riding in like a knight in shining armor wielding the legendary Shannon Tweed sword to slay the dragon that is Teenage Horniness.

The movie puts the name of actor Hy Pyke before the title, causing most of the audience to react like “Are we supposed to know who this guy is?” It wasn’t until later that I found out Pyke appeared in Blade Runner, which I guess made him the default name actor for this low-budget production where he plays a piece-of-shit farmer type who once raped his daughter on her wedding day and then later went on to murder her husband.

He’s also a Satan worshiper who often makes the sign of the horns with his hands, and every time he did, most of us in the audience would cheer because like him, we are all fans of Ronnie James Dio. I applaud the filmmakers for casting a guy who looks like a beer-swilling hayseed because I have a feeling that’s what your average Devil worshiper looks like, not some sinister-yet-distinguished-looking gentleman like Christopher Lee.

Anyway, this grandpa now dotes on his daughter’s kid (who for all we know might actually be his, the fuck) and while some grandfathers teach their grandkids how to fish or why ethnic people can’t be trusted, this one is getting the little boy all up in the Devil business. Years later, the kid grows up to become Gregory Scott Cummins aka Mac’s Dad from “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” aka The Devil in Snoop Dogg’s “Murder Was The Case” video and I believe this marks the third time I’ve seen him pop up at one of these horror movie marathons. He was in Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge at the marathon at the Cinefamily, he was in Blood Games at the New Bev all-nighter, and now here he is in this movie at the Aero.

Anyway, his character’s got a pretty sweet life going; living in his mom’s basement with movie posters and neon beer signs on the wall, wearing his black shirt with the sleeves cut off, sporting a pair of shades, smokin’ cigs, working out on his weight bench while wearing a Rambo-style headband. All that’s missing are some sweet nunchucks to practice some Bruce Lee moves with. I could see hanging out with him, spotting each other while we do bench presses, watching horror movies, smoking some of his weed (which is fuckin’ schwag but it’s free), and listening to fuckin’ Slayer, man!

He has also has a hot 80s-style platinum blonde who doesn’t believe in pants to speed off with in his bitchin’ Pontiac Fiero. Unfortunately, he can’t have sex with her because his grandfather insists that he has to remain pure in order to perform some Satanic ritual on Halloween night. So in the meantime, Mac’s Dad has to release his pent-up I Wanna Fuck energy in other ways, like beating up his sister’s boyfriend on some Tony Montana-shit, or worshiping the dark lord in his closet where he keeps a Helga Pataki shrine to Lucifer, or listening to that evil rock music on his Walkman, which causes him to have dreams about being in a rad band playing a guitar that turns into a pitchfork which is then shoved into his neck by an evil devil woman who also happens to be the only African-American in this otherwise lily White cast.

There are murders with decent levels of blood and gore, lots of scary rituals involving the Satanists giving props to their horned master, and most disturbing of all, a scene where a random character at a Halloween party makes a few casual comments, but rather than moving on, he keeps talking and that’s when I realized that this guy is doing an honest-to-goodness stand-up comedy set! He goes on to make fun of strippers, asks why nude pictorials in adult magazines include bios, and acts out the plight of a turkey before Thanksgiving.

This movie is goofy as hell. It’s also that special kind of bad, that Samurai Cop or Dangerous Men kind of bad that can only be achieved by having a foreigner with a shaky grasp of his or her second language in charge of the proceedings — which makes me wonder if there are American filmmakers in other countries making terrible movies that people in those countries like to goof on.

Between films, as per usual, the volunteers at the Aero began serving out the free eats and drinks; pizza from Little Caesars, Monster Energy drinks, wraps, sandwiches, Rice Krispie Treats, candy, Hostess cakes, coffee. As in past Horrorthons, Grant threw and tossed various Blu-rays and DVDs and candy at audience members. With each year, there seems to be a larger crowd of people gathering near the front of the stage to catch movies or gather the ones that land on the ground — and with special edition Blu-rays of John Carpenter’s The Thing and Society up for grabs, I don’t blame them. By the end of the night, it was mostly bargain multi-movie packs for public domain titles that were left — plus a lot of Vicente Fernandez joints. I ended up with a DVD triple pack of Valentin Trujillo flicks; and if you don’t know about him, then you don’t fuckin’ know, bro.

Two of those movies in my triple pack turned out to be among my brother-in-law’s favorite films, so Happy Birthday to him, I guess. And Happy Birthday to my niece, who ended up with the Corn Gorn shirt I purchased in the lobby, which despite being labeled as X-Large, fit me like an O.J. Simpson glove. So my advice to any Horrorthon-ers who want to buy a shirt next year is to take that thing to the restroom and try it on before going home — not that going to the restroom was an option for a few hours that night.

To the best of my knowledge, a water main broke or a major clog backed something up, and the upstairs restrooms had to be closed for a while — another reason I was glad to have held off of eating that day. Eventually, plumbers were called in and the restrooms were reopened but the stairs leading to them were wet and sticky and it had made it’s way down to the carpet of the Aero’s lobby, leaving behind the unmistakable smell of water that should’ve remained in pipes.

On our way out for some fresh air between films, my friend guesstimated the high price for the overnight plumbing job; he also said that the carpet would have to be shampooed as well, adding more to the bill. I asked him how long something like that would take and he said it would take a while — there’s also the amount of time needed for the carpet to dry to consider. I told him that the Aero had a screening of the classic horror film The Haunting scheduled the following evening and his response was a look that I could only interpret as “Good luck with that”.

The fifth film of the night was the 1989 Wes Craven picture Shocker, starring Peter “You gotta join the Army, motherfucker” Berg as Jonathan, a college jock who gets mixed up with a serial killing television repairman played by Mitch Pileggi because they have some kind of psychic connection and what-not. This murderer has a thing for taking out whole families and he’s so full of rage, this dude, he’s not like some creepy calm type of psycho, he’s seething and pissed off about who knows what. And he kills the shit out of them! He’s just so mad! Angry all the time! He’s like me, only I haven’t started to kill people yet, but give me time. And your address.

During the opening credits sequence we watch inserts of a television set being repaired with various tools by a muttering, grumbling Pileggi — so of course it’s the angriest muttering and grumbling, and it’s a pretty good sequence and I think a big part of it is the title song performed over it by a band called The Dudes of Wrath that’s comprised of guys from KISS, Whitesnake, Motley Crüe, and Van Halen. There’s also a cover of “No More Mr. Nice Guy” by Megadeth on the soundtrack, which you might want to look up the music video for because it’s hilariously obvious that that lead singer & guitarist Dave Mustaine is so high on smack he can barely stand,so they never show him play guitar and sing at the same time, it’s always in separate shots, and even then he’s never in sync.

Anyway, the movie. I found myself feeling so sorry for Peter Berg’s character for the multiple wringers he gets put through early on; I apologize for getting all spoilery here but the movie IS nearly 30 years old so here goes — he loses his entire family save for one foster dad to angry murder-happy Pileggi, and shortly after they’re buried, Pileggi leaves Berg’s oh-so-pretty girlfriend dead in a bathtub of her own blood. Berg really plays the hell out of his despair, breaking into tears and rage at these situations, so when they finally catch the killer and Berg demands to his police lieutenant father that he be seated front row to the motherfucker’s execution, I was like “Fuck yeah, son, you earned it! Watch that motherfucker fry like bacon, record the goddamn thing so you can watch it over and over again!” — and I’m against the death penalty!

I feel OK spoiling this much of the film because this is really only a third of the entire story and where it ends up going after this left me incredibly amused and surprised at Craven’s audacity. I heard of Shocker over the years but never bothered watching it, because I was under the impression that it wasn’t one of Craven’s better films — the funny thing is, had I watched it back then as a kid, I probably would’ve felt that my impression was correct, and the culprit would’ve been the running time. You see, Shocker is nearly two hours long and half of it doesn’t feel like a horror film at all but rather a very dark crime drama with a light touch of the paranormal — or should I say, “extraordinary”? And little kid me would’ve been like “Hey, I thought this was supposed to be Freddy Krueger all over again!”

But as a patient adult who recently purchased Tarkovsky’s Stalker on Blu-ray, I was able to enjoy this and go “Oh, this IS Freddy Krueger all over again, only this time we get the prequel to how he became the Freddy Krueger we all know and love for the first 45 minutes or so”. Once Pileggi’s character reaches his full horror villain potential, the movie gets downright nutty in where it goes. It really feels like the part of Craven’s brain that would stop to question him on whether an idea made sense or not was on vacation while he was writing this script, and I really appreciate that because it makes for a fun movie that had me laughing and clapping at times — actually, to be specific, it makes for a fun second half of the movie in which I laughed and clapped, because to be honest, that first half about Pileggi making Berg’s life hell got a little too grim at times for my liking at four-in-the-morning and I was even considering stepping out for some fresh air.

By the way, I was so entranced by Peter Berg’s girlfriend in the film that I looked her up like a goddamn Internet stalker. Her name is Camille Cooper and she no longer acts; she became a citizen lobbyist in the 90s and got the Commonwealth of Virginia to include women and African-Americans in their school textbooks, and has since gone on to become the Director of Government Affairs for PROTECT, “a national bipartisan pro-child, anti-crime lobby whose sole focus is making the protection of children a top political and policy priority at the national, state, and local levels”. And now I’m probably on some kind of list for looking her up.

From one attempt to create a new Freddy Krueger-style franchise, we went to another attempt to create a Freddy Krueger-style franchise with the sixth film of the marathon, the 1994 cyber-horror Brainscan, written by Andrew Kevin Walker of Se7en fame and directed by John Flynn of Rolling Thunder and Out for Justice legend. It stars Edward Furlong as Michael, this kid who I think is supposed to be a kind of withdrawn anti-social type except he has at least one friend and he has a horror movie club at his high school, which means one actual friend and a handful of acquaintances to me, and it sure as hell takes more than a modicum of effort to set up a goddamn club.

I don’t remember there being anything like a horror movie club at my high school, at least not some kind of official deal that you could actually go to on campus. Shit, I wasn’t able to find people my age who were into movies the same way I was into them, the best I could do was find a guy who was really into Sailor Moon. He would listen to the soundtracks of that series in his car, and he had posters of those anime chicks all over his room; there was one looming over his bed, so that was cool, knowing what he jerked off to.

And we all know what Michael is jerking off to: his video recordings from his peeping tom sessions of the girl next door played by Amy Hargreaves, an actress who was in her early 20s but she’s supposed to be like 16 or 17 here which makes it weird to see these brief shots of her topless here — and now that I think about it, wasn’t Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High supposed to be underage too, as was every other actress in a teen comedy or teen horror film in the 80s?

See, but that was OK for me when I saw those movies because *I* was underage, and when I first saw Brainscan on cable, I was still underage. But now, I’m an adult and I’m watching another adult show me her titties and we’re supposed to be all tee-hee-hee about it because she’s pretending to be a fuckin’ kid. It’s kinda why the whole schoolgirl thing bothers me — and by bothers me, I mean makes me rock hard because I’m a man and the sooner the women of this planet turn Amazon and murder everything with a penis, the better.

Then it’ll just be women preying on women.

Anyway, I’m like fuck this Michael, he’s living the life, as far as I’m concerned. Sure, his mom died in a horrible accident and his father is never around, but he’s still living the life. Wait until you see his room; his situation is like homeboy from Hack-o-Lantern except his room is in the attic, and it’s one of those huge attics like that spoiled fuck Kevin McCallister had in Home Alone. This place is big enough to be the main set of a sitcom, that’s how big it is. He’s got the stereo, he’s got the widescreen television — which for 1994 is really bleeding edge — and it’s all hooked up to his voice-activated computer with the Internet hooked in and everything. You don’t see him ever going online to chat or face off against Zero Cool and Acid Burn, though. I think he just sticks to computer games.

The Internet was some slow dial-up shit back then, you couldn’t download games the way we can now. Shit, back then it took me seven months to download Ini Kamoze’s “Here Comes the Hotstepper” MP3, that shit was played out on the radio by the time I got the complete song, so who knows how long a fuckin’ game would take. No, you needed a CD-ROM if you wanted in on some sweet computer game action — which is what happens here when Furlong’s buddy tips him off to a new game advertised on Fangoria. So he gets the CD-ROM and jacks in — or whatever was the cool term back in ’94 — to this new experimental game called “Brainscan” which gets into the player’s brain and scans it, I guess. Whatever the case, the player is sent on kill missions that require breaking into a house, finding a murder weapon, and taking out a chosen victim. So this movie kinda sorta predicted open-world assassination games like the “Hitman” and “Assassin’s Creed” series.

Unlike those games, Brainscan does not result in shitty film adaptations but rather in the horrifying aftermath of the killings; after Michael takes out some dude in the game, he finds out that some dude in his neighborhood was killed in the exact same way. He immediately freaks out and tries to jack out, but that’s when the mascot of the game enters the real world to fuck with Michael’s shit big time. His name is Trickster and he’s played by T. Ryder Smith, a stage actor who has a really good write-up about his Brainscan experience on his website.

As with most of John Flynn’s filmography, this is a movie that is way better than it has any right to be. I liked the film when I first saw it back in ’94 and I really liked it this second go-round; it’s got a tiny little bit of a teeny-bopper Videodrome vibe going on with the main character’s obsession to find the ultimate experience becoming way more than he bargained for. Or maybe I just got that vibe because it was filmed in Canada. Either way, it’s a well-made film and it’s early 90s as fuck — which for me, is a big, big plus but for others could be a hindrance. But it’s a hindrance that I feel the film manages to work with by telling an involving story and featuring good performances by everybody who isn’t Edward Furlong, who is adequate at best. (Sorry, Edward.)

Unlike the previous six films which were all presented in 35mm, this seventh and final film of the Horrorthon was presented via DCP and I wouldn’t be surprised if a 35mm print no longer exists, or ever existed, for the shot-in-16mm Death Bed: The Bed that Eats. Written and directed by George Barry, Death Bed began production in 1972 and was completed in 1977, just in time to show that Star Wars movie a thing or two about how to blow the minds of the audience.

The film mostly takes place in the basement of an old abandoned mansion where the titular bed resides, suffering from a chronic case of the munchies, with only the trapped spirit of an early 20th century artist chilling out behind a painting on the wall to keep it company. The artist narrates the film while occasionally making disdainful comments to the bed, which it deserves because the bed’s an asshole.

The bed waits for any unfortunate schmucks who enter the basement for whatever reason — in the case of the opening sequence, it’s a couple looking for a place where they can fuck and eat fried chicken — and once they get on the bed, yellow foamy liquid rises to the surface and suddenly the bed becomes a swimming pool of oblivion as they fall in and are eaten or digested or whatever it is the bed does to them because sometimes you hear chomping, sometimes you don’t hear anything. I like that the bed is susceptible to indigestion and has to take Pepto Bismol, and at one point, the bed gets a bleeding ulcer. This helps to humanize the demonic man-eating bed.

The movie is broken up into several acts with cute title cards like “Breakfast”, “Lunch”, and “Dinner”. We watch various people become food for the bed in between flashbacks to previous meals over the past few decades and it’s all done in a goofy manner — except for the parts where it’s not being goofy and is being deadly serious instead. Because for every wacky scene of the dad from “Boy Meets World” sticking his hands in the bed and then pulling them out as skeleton hands, there’s a sadistic moment of the bed using its powers to slowly saw into a sleeping woman’s throat with her necklace. But the constant changing and blending of tones actually worked here and rather than being jarring, it created this unsettling sense of overwhelming creepiness with dashes of perversion — like maybe the guy who made this is not all right psychologically and/or mentally.

I mean that as a compliment, by the way.

Based on what I heard about this film over the years, I went into Death Bed: The Bed that Eats assuming it was going to be a really shitty failure in the “so bad it’s good” category, but I feel this is too strange and unique to be dismissed that way. It doesn’t feel like weird for weird’s sake, it feels like it comes from a sincere place and it’s a genuine exhibition of George Barry’s bonkers sensibility. It definitely suffers from the pitfalls of a first-time filmmaker working from a super low-budget; of its many flaws, I feel its biggest one is that even at 77 minutes the movie overstays its welcome. But that only left me wishing Barry was given a shot at making another movie with a bigger budget so we can really see him rock and roll.

Doesn’t look like that’ll happen, though. After completion, the film failed to secure distribution and languished in obscurity; Barry didn’t even know there was a cult following until nearly 30 years later after finding out about his film making the bootleg circuit. I don’t know how old Barry is but it looks like he gave the movie game a shot, it didn’t work out for him and he’s since moved on, which is too bad. Who knows what weirdo shit the guy could’ve been giving us for decades had Death Bed: The Bed that Eats been given a chance back in the 70s?

And so ended another Horrorthon at the Aero Theatre, sometime around 9 in the morning; of the remaining survivors, some got up and made their way out to the lobby, others walked towards the screen to plunder the leftover loot inside the cardboard boxes left on the stage, while my buddy and I surveyed the damage in the auditorium. So much trash was left between the rows of seats and throughout the aisles — because apparently garbage cans don’t exist — plus the extra dirty business with the plumbing problems earlier that night, left me not envying the clean-up crew one bit.

We then left to have our traditional post-movie-marathon breakfast; this time we went to Milo & Olive on Wilshire and had their breakfast pizza which I highly recommend — just ask them to add an extra egg to it, if you’re like me and want more protein and calories. It’s got some kick to it as well, so be sure to have something to drink to cool down. Then I went home and took a nap. When I got up later that day, I checked my Facebook and saw a post from the Aero Theatre. It said that the screening of The Haunting had been cancelled. So much for luck.