Friday, November 28, 2008

Watching Cable @ my Parents house movie reviews

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
I love to watch John C. Reily on screen. One of my favorite modern actors. Some of the jokes are pretty funny, particularly anything with nudity or the Beatles. Though a lot of this is merely "pleasant." If JCR wasn't in every scene, it would be approaching "waste of time."

Hard Candy
Anti-pedophile movie where the underage vengemaster acts "clever." Imagine "clever" as the most overeager, fakemature theater geek from your high yeah, kinda grating. But then torture and mind games kick in. Sort of uncomfortable how the 14 year old (played by a 17 year old) is shot in a lush, big doe eyed, sexualized way. Also weird how she looks a lot like an old flame. And yeah, actually old: late 20's. Regardless, I can appreciate most movies that put audiences through the ringer, and "deal frankly with controvertial issues."

Watched two movies with the word "hard" in the title.
Why am I writing this?
Why am I watching "Saved by the Bell: the College Years' at 7:30 AM?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Fangsgiving

Anyhow, I went on the youtube to try and find that Stop and Shop commercial that used to play every year 'round this time where the li'l boy comes upon his families thanksgiving dinner and reads a poem about what he is thankful for. His family looks on in heartwarmthed adoration and Stop and Shop wishes us a happy holiday. I couldn't find it, but I always think about it this time of year and how it inspired me one year. I was probably 8 or 9, around the same age as the commercial kid is supposed to be, saw the commercial for the umpteenth time, decided that I was gonna say my own poem (I was gonna wing it) and hope for similar love from my elders. Got up my courage, tried to quiet the holiday chatter...unsuccessfully. My dad: "Dan! Sit down and be quiet and just eat." And I did, red in the face. I knew then that they all loved me a lot, quietly. My family had always been quiet, till little Lizzy developped that sass mouth. I guess I'm still quiet, less so now that I'll have a couple of beers with the family.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Can it really be true!?

Big movie news for giallo/Argento fans!
According to Four Flies on Grey Velvet is coming out on DVD on Febuary 24th!!!!! That's the ultra-elusive, never released on US video giallo immediately following Cat O' Nine's also not one of those grey market releases that has ubiqitous either, I've actually never seen it cuz I've been holding out for a complete print with a good transfer. Anyone who saw the American version of Deep Red knows why I would choose to wait. Dario's films lose A LOT when the mise en scene is compromised at all, and they are illogical enough already that if anything is cut out at all then the plot is rendered totally useless.
Man, I'll tell ya, it's only things like this release that I'm willing to buy new out of store as opposed to waiting around for it to turn up used. Yee haw! Nerd-based economy!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I can make up any excuse to celebrate!

Hey y'all,
work has been crazy and life has been crazy, so I'm a little brainfried.
So in lieu of a void, here's a little quick mention of an important birthday.
Tommorow marks the ten year anniversary of the release (in Japan) of what I consider to be the greatest videogame of all time...The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time.
I don't know what to say about the game, except that everytime I think about my time with it, it gives me the warm feeling of love. If you know me, it's saying a lot that I would toprank a game from the era when videogaming turned to shit, but this game, Mario 64 and Starfox 64 shined through the darkness. And yes, I know that I'm Nintendo biased, but I think it's smart to be loyal to a company that creates the greatest things ever...nawmean?
Quick Recap:
Donkey Kong
Kid Icarus

Probably not planning on getting/playing a Gamecube or Wii anytime soon though.

Friday, November 14, 2008

more drugs, 'diculous

Long Version of "Suzie"

Short Version of "Ballerina"

I don't remember this one, but man, it is insane

I find it interesting that these are the only things on youtube where I actually enjoy reading the comments....seems I'm not the only one who these "got to," so it ain't all "LOL."

Old Music Zine Depression

Just scored 3 Issues of Forced Exposure (late 80's era) from Mystery train at a good price and I've been wholesale swallowing (mostly) good-bile style in big foamy shots for a few days now. I can even feel it's wordy influence weaving through me right now, and hey, why resist? Just stop me if I use the word pud or dizz. Anyhow, mostly psyched on the Big Black tour diary and anything Albini related, cuz, damn man, that's one of the men who I've always liked best. So along with that Big Black high comes the general goodnessvibes of saving some totems of underground journalism from oblivion. These "zines" of yore (made of paper, rotting, tearing) are getting harder and harder to find and the good ones were hard to find when they were hot off the presses (in the 90s at least, when I was buying these things). Forced Exposure and Bananafish especially were pretty annoying in the "artistic" review policy, but made up for with some of the best interviews with some of the best men and women in any realm EVER. And even searching on ebay for anything but the last couple of issues(and I'd much rather read an interview with the Birthday Party than Chris Knox, guys) is likely to yield little. So, you just keep on looking and building a library right? right. That's what I do. And yeah, it was good to walk by the newstand recently and see a new issue of Chunklet. That's a good one. The rest that still exist seem to fall into the overly glossy slicky who gives a fucky category.
Oh, so here's the depression session: even at it's most disagreeable to me, I've been able to respect the thoughts and reccomendations of Mr. Coley (Byron, one of the main guys on the page). He's obviously a duder who knows his shit thoroughly, and though I've never met the other editor Jimmy, he also seems to slide in that ilk. Despite THIS, these issues are a cascade of hundreds of reviews of bands and records that have come and gone, and even with positive props, I'm sure they've slipped out of the memory of the most encyclopedic of record hoarders. In addition we have adverts layed on top of this. So since FE really scrapes hard at giving the reader a heave of the far reaches of the underground, we the modern reader gets a window into the nondreams of hundreds of alsoran nomatter bands. Depressing. How many band members who at the time were getting good highs of promise and dressing in black jeans are now dead, stupid or boring? or sad?
I've gotten a very similar vibe when buying rekkids at college radio sales. I bring home some LPs by bands that were "names" back in the day, and they are pretty good, but it feels kind of like a slice of pizza in outerspace. Nice Strong Arm and Breaking Circus and Riflesport albums are like slices of pizza in space. They have all the right ingredients and are good by any human standard but when they are floating in blackness, what do they have to offer us? And if you go to the WOZQ record fair in 2002 and buy them back from outer space, they are just "okay" slices of pizza.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Spare Parts review 2

as I was saying....
This is where things a take a little turn for the unusual in horror movie land. Most notably there isn't that much of a conflict in getting Bill, the truck driver to believe the story of the ambulance kidnapping and kooky-innkeeper corroboration. Usually, this is the whole damn crux of the protagonist and potential savior dynamic, but here it just takes an appearance of the ambulance driver, with an excuse that does not check out, but still makes sense. Bill (played by Wolf Roth, what a name) and his trucker pals box in the ambulance, kill one of them in self defense (sort of) and throw the other in the freezer-trailer in order to get him to "talk." For you man-bush fanatics, you get some unwelcome German pubes on display when they strip the ambulance driver before throwing him in the cold. Okay, so they found out the scoop; forced organ donations, go to the "clinic" or whatever and stumble upon the "evil doctor" in charge. Before that, they stay in a motel room and develop friendship built on trust, as Bill protectively puts his arm around Monika on the bed. It's quiet moments like here in the motel room that give it a depth that you wouldn't expect to see.
Here's another nice oddity; the evil doctor seems like a normal and nice person, y'know without the evil beneath. I kinda liked that until it turned out that the nice antagonist is only stealing people cuz of blackmail....boring. Then there is a bad car chase scene, the second death of the movie (neither is horrific) and then the end. Luckily, the viewer is engaged enough with Monika and Bill to feel some suspense and investment in what's happening, even if those events fall into the TV movie kinda realm.
Okay, Monika (appealingly played by Judda Speidel) and Bill are good characters to see, The visuals of the southwest motel strips are nice to see, along with some nice sunny/hazy photography, and it's kinda offbeat.......
but really not that much to recommend it.
OH shit, wait...the 70s shmaltz theme song being performed by the kidnappee's band in the beginning: "How much does someone cost?" is hysterically bad, and I love it and I'm into the Tangerine Dreamy score...okay, that's it.


before i get into this, let me show you this:

Okay, if you know me well at all, you know that I obsess over public service announcements. Mostly antidrug PSA's, but generally any spot that is trying to scare you out of doing something. I have been this way as long as I can remember. Growing up, basically two things scared me commercials/trailers for horror movies (until I actually saw my first horror movie in 4th grade, realizing how ridiculous they usually were) and public service announcements. The thing that probably makes me kind of mentally ill, is that old public service announcements STILL scare me. I think that goes with how there is such a synthesis of intent and skill, mixed with anonymous mystery. A horror movie isn't usually concerned with being a good movie, just with getting people into the theater, therefore enough scary stuff is required to put into a 1/2/3 minute trailer. Even when horror movies are a labor of love and meant to be solidly effective, it is rare that the feeling of dread/fear/whatever can be sustained for much of the running time. That's when we end up with lot's of boring padding or ridiculous shit like aerobic sequences (which often are my favorite parts) that undermines the good stuff. You can sense the cash register sound as you get duped into seeing some dumbass movie, and that also takes away from the immersion of scariness. I mean, I love movies like New Years Evil, but I'd be sorta pissed if I paid full price to see it back in '80.
PSA's are different in that they don't need to deal with all the filler and seemingly aren't doing it for the other words, they were out to scare the shit out of you, had the skill to do it, plus nobody knew who was doing it in the first place! With the exception of celebrity appearances (i.e. the notorious Pee Wee Herman anti-crack PSA), the actors are unrecognizable, there are no credits for director/writer/etc and we only have vague organizations to give them any identifying marks. As I grew older I learned more about the Partnership for a Drug Free America, the Ad Council and others, making things a little less foggy, but as a kid, these felt like scare-attacks from nowhere. There you are watching the Wonder Years at age 12 and the fucking Ballerina commercial comes aren't supposed to be scared of this kind of thing at this age, but jesus, that ballerina fucks with you. And you suspect your friends feel the same way, and we all talk about it in the cafeteria the next day.
I'll tell ya, the ballerina was IT for me. I actually had nightmares about it, and I hated it. I don't even know why it scared me except that it's so fucking creepy, and I would experiment with different viewing techniques. As soon as I heard the swell of the orchestra tuning and that twirling figure I would try closing my eyes, counting her spins, looking at the onlookers in the background, probably causing the thing to enter into my consciousness like little else. After it stopped airing (which it did a lot) I felt like I had to find it again to gain some power over the way it haunted me. The need became greater as I got older, helped along by my increased interest in collecting old video footage of just about anything, cartoons, horror movies and tv shows especially. Would I find a tape with the ballerina on it?
As I got less obsessed about it over the years, i have looked back at how weird it all was, especially with talking with Josh C. and Erik H. and others in Marblehead Middle School, talking about this stuff more than we probably should have. A major part of our social process was coming up with lies about various untrue bullshit, trying to convince the others to believe. I think it was Josh who told us that he saw another in the series that 'ballerina' belonged to (the 'track star' and the elusive 'millionare' were the others), which was "the nurse" and it featured a lady banging on some dead guy screaming. We half believed him. Erik (I think) said there was one with a boxer getting knocked out...we let on. I can't believe Josh was fucking right.
Finding the 'ballerina' on youtube was fucking anticlimactic. Watching anything on youtube is nonoptimal for various reasons, but I couldn't resist, especially after it took so long for it to show up there. Even worse: recently I was looking though a backlog of old tapes i hadn't looked at and there was the old gal spinning around in all her glory.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Movie Review: Spare Parts

I work nights, and generally try to watch movies after I get home around 2 or 3 am, which means I often fall asleep around the 20 minute mark. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and finish them, but usually I have to start all over some other night. It drives me crazy, but I still buy movies, and they stack up on the coffee table waiting for me to wade through them all. I bought Mill Creek's Drive-in 50 Movie Pack about a week ago and was trying to find some time to watch ONE of them along with some other recent aquisitions, and I finally got around to screening Spare Parts last night. This is one of the few VHS covers I remember gawking at during childhood that I haven't gone out of my way to see. It's (predictably, if you are at all familiar with low budget vhs horror releases of the 80s) a totally ridiculous image and really got my imagination running as to the terrible things that happen in the movie within....

Of course, as these things go in these kind of smalltime video releases, the image is totally unrepresentative of the film within. That's not to say that it's not an interesting movie, it's just features no chopping up of any bodies at all. And I'm kinda surprised at the ability of this West German TV movie to sustain some suspense, some okay characterization and an oddball feel that keeps you interested. Yeah, I fell asleep, but I finished it in the morning.
The story concerns a newlywed couple of grad students, Monika the blonde german exchange student, and Mike is uhh, the guy, who check into a cheap motel in new mexico during their honeymoon. This joint is run by a kooky (i know I shouldn't use that term) older woman who offers them fresh coffee and sandwiches. The couple engage in a not unpleasant sex scene (Monika is easy on the eyes), then venture out into the brush to check out the sunset. An ambulance rushes in and kidnaps Mike, and open fire with magnum on the fleeing Monika. When seeking help it becomes apparent that the Kooky motel-keeper is in with the guynappers, so M flags down a kindly truck driver and off they go.
to be continued, dude.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Megaman 9 Review

released 9/22 fer wii, ps3, xbox. by capcom

It's quite rare that I get to enjoy something brand new that is well intentioned, exhilarating and (as far as I can sense) fucking flawless. And here I am to tell you that just such an object of beauty has blessed us: Capcom's return to the tried and true Megaman 9!
This next-gen multiplatform cause celibre' is a return to 8-bit styled graphics, music and gameplay...more specifically the exact style of the Nes Megaman classics that rank among the greatest games of all time. Playing this beast (I've been playing the PS3 version) presents an alternate reality where advances in programming on existing hardware is the goal of the industry. These are 8-bit style graphics, but they look as great as 8bit can, and the level and character designs are top notch. What if the NES was never abandoned and was still supported along side newer machines? Megaman 9 is that reality, I mean, as far as this man can tell. And I'm in awe because the look and more importantly, the FEEL of the game is perfect. There's even the option to apply flicker to the hectic parts....thank god that's only an option.
The game follows the format of the NES megaman games with strict adherence, with one exception which I'll get to in a minute. It's also a real throwback to the insanely difficult games of the NES era; I've been playing it on and off since it's release date and I just beat the damn thing last night. I have to say that, one of the elements of the game that brings the difficulty down to human levels is the aforementioned departure for a Megaman game. That is that you can access a "store" from the stage select screen and buy (with screws) a host of pretty nifty gadgets. A couple of items in the store, namely the hair style book and the costume are rather mysterious and I'm still unclear of their use. It's pretty cool and all, but I feel like I'm cheating when buying E tanks in bulk, even if I've "earned" it. It was my refusal to buy any of the items that hindered my progress in the game greatly and I had to eventually give in.
There are also an optional set of additional challenges that one can try and accomplish, giving the game some major post-conquer appeal. From what I understand this is more of a modern game feature, but I'm into it. Some of the challenges are pretty easy, but some (like beating the game without getting hit once) are clearly only for those who can only exceed at videogaming and nothing else. It's quite satisfying to be playing and have a display box show a completed challenge after performing some sick shit.
I could go on and on about totally rad enemies and weapons (for the first time in my life I LOVE HORNETS!) and levels etc, but it's all so good, the better thing to do is just encourage all to play it.
Oh, and the story sequences are really charming and most of the characters are back and and's all so HAPPPY TO MEEEEEE!

Although it has been the talk of the gaming community, I have Seth to thank for getting me up to speed and buying the damn thing, cuz I'm so out of touch with all this modern crap. And pray to jezus, this inspires a flood of like-minded and well done continuations of the classics, or at least some kind of resurgence of the golden era. I'll be first in line with my money in hand...oh wait, you download these games?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election day, 1988

i had a 5th grade crush on a young republican in my class named May. There were a lot of young republicans in my life growing up, considering my upbringing in the half(?)-rich yachting town of Marblehead. I remember choosing to be on the Bush side in a class team-debate. I remember saying "we need more friends in other countries" and repeating that a couple of times. I had no idea what I was talking about. I remember not staying awake for the final result and my Dad walking through my room in the wee hours (my dad's closet was in my room, weirdly designed house) and me stirring and asking him who won. My Dad grumbled the answer and I replied "good." I was a weird kid. The following summer me and my parents were walking in the "old town" section of M'head, and I saw May sitting at a stoop. She asked me what 6th grade homeroom i had. I answered: "Do I know you?" She scoffed at me. I wasn't good with girls back then. My parents got really mad at me. I wonder who she is voting for this time?