Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Terrible Old Man by H.P. Lovecraft

The Terrible Old Man
by H.P. Lovecraft

This very short story by Lovecraft feels almost like a Poe tale, only slightly more ambiguous. Three criminals--Angelo Ricci, Joe Czanek and Manuel Silva--intend to rob the New England home of the nameless Terrible Old Man (Maybe we should call him Tom). He's such a Terrible Old Man, in fact, that the locals pretty much avoid him at all costs, choosing instead to spread a barrage of rumors in hushed tones behind his back. One such rumor is overtly important to this tale, another perhaps less obviously so.

RUMOR THE FIRST: Tom is hiding a vast treasure somewhere within the confines of his old home.

RUMOR THE SECOND: Tom has a strange collection of bottles, each one containing a chunk of lead dangling from a string like a pendulum. And he holds conversations with these bottles, referring to each one by its own unique name: Scar-Face, Long Tom, Spanish Joe, etc. Not exactly the poster child for normalcy.

The criminals are, of course, more interested in Rumor the First, but as the casual and curious observor, we're naturally more drawn to Rumor the Second. Talking to bottles? What the hell is up with that?

I wish I could tell you. The criminals get their just desserts by story's end, and you get the vague idea that Tom's Amazing Bottles are somehow connected. It has a subtle supernatural feel to it, but it's only hinted at and never even remotely explained. Just a little more information would have made this story much better than it was.

Speaking of subtle, Lovecraft takes another racial jab at immigrants here--notice the surnames of the thieves: all three belonging to different racial backgrounds. Were they our heroes here (anti- or otherwise) this would be a symbol of racial harmony, but sadly this is not the case. And just to make sure that we got the point, Lovecraft makes mention of their "alien stock". Not quite as blatant as in his earlier story "The Street", but it's still there.

This story, short as it is, is notable in the Cthulu Mythos for being the first story to take place in Lovecraft's fictional town of Kingsport. The Terrible Old Man, Tom himself, even makes a return engagement in the later "The Strange High House in the Mist".

"The Terrible Old Man" was originally published in the July 1921 issue of The Tryout.


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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kurosawa Marathon on TCM (03.30.10)

Turner Classic Movies is completing their celebration of Akira Kurosawa's 100th birthday with three more of his films tonight. If you've come this far, don't even think about backing out now.

8:00 PM Dersu Uzala (1975)
A Russian explorer brings the Asiatic hunter who saved his life back to civilization.
Cast: Maksim Munzuk, Yuriy Solomin, M Bichkov, V Khrulev Dir: Akira Kurosawa C-141 mins, TV-PG

10:30 PM Kagemusha (1980)
Japanese clansmen force a poor thief to impersonate their dead warlord.
Cast: Tatsuya Nakadai, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Kenichi Hagiwara, Kota Yui Dir: Akira Kurosawa C-180 mins, TV-PG

1:45 AM Ran (1985)
An aging lord's decision to retire brings out the worst in his sons.
Cast: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryu Dir: Akira Kurosawa C-163 mins

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Weekend In Wichita

Triple Feature at the Drive-In 

Cop Out
Directed by Kevin Smith from somebody else's script, this doesn't really feel like a Smith film. That can be good or bad, depending on your tastes. It started out a little rough, but turned out to be a decent but by-the-books buddy cop flick.  Besides, it had that drug dealer from Weeds in it, and he's pretty much a badass.

The Crazies
 I have heard some people complain that this movie was just a rehash of 28 Days Later placed in a rural setting. In actuality, 28 Days Later was an urbanized rehash of the original The Crazies (along with a certain other trio of Romero films). This remake isn't going to crack your Top Ten unless you have only seen nine other movies, but at least it's honest in the fact that it's a remake and doesn't hide between the claim that it's an homage.

Shutter Island
My wife and I had already seen this one, but were willing to watch it again. Unfortunately the fact that we had put in a full days work before the 3 hour drive to Wichita, and that we had already been up for approximately 22 hours caused us to call it quits about halfway through. Still, I think we got our ten bucks worth.

My Purchases

Black Hole by Charles Burns (Graphic Novel)
Borders, $18.95
Been wanting to read this one for quite a while.  Don't really know why it took me so long to get around to buying it.
Books of Blood Vol.3 by Clive Barker (Book)
Book-A-Holic, $1.75
I've already read Vol.1, and Vol.2 is still languishing on my shelf, but this volume is difficult to find in used bookstores, so I had to pick it up.  And it was oh-so-affordable, too!

The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams (Book)
Book-A-Holic, $2.50
This book probably can't live up to the manic genius of the Hitchiker series, but the idea of Douglas Adams writing a detective novel is far too sweet to pass up.

Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac by David Amram (Book)
Book-A-Holic, $7.00
Slap the word 'Kerouac' on any book, and my wallet flies open like your uncle's belt after Thanksgiving dinner.

The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia (Book w/ Free Digital Copy)
Book-A-Holic, $20.00
I love Bob Dylan, I love encyclopedias (I'm a geek, I know), I have a bookself AND I have a Kindle, so this one was a slamdunk.

Greatest American Hero Season 1 & 2 (DVD 2-Pack)
Target, $12.99
Believe it or not, I'm walking on air.  I never knew I could feel so free.

Arctic Monkeys:  Humbug (CD)
Best Buy, $12.99
I love pretty much any band that has the word 'monkey' in the name. Arctic Monkeys. Sprung Monkey. The Monkees.  Atomic Death Monkeys.  Monkey Ate My Baby.  Monkey Monk and The Monk-Lites.  (Okay, so maybe I made a few of those up.)

Spoon: Transference (CD)
FYE, $9.99
I was listening to Spoon before that cellphone commercial made it cool. Or, at least that's what I tell people.

Cult Classics 20 Movie Pack (DVD Box Set)
Borders, $4.99 
Featuring the following titles, how could you not fork over a fiver?
1. Chained for Life
2. Child Bride
3. Cocaine Fiends
4. Delinquent Daughters
5. Escort Girl
6. Gambling with Souls
7. Joyless Street,
8. Mad Youth
9. Marihuana
10. Marijuana Menace, The
11. Omoo-Omoo, The Shark God
12. Reefer Madness
13. Road to Ruin
14. Sex Madness
15. She Shoulda' Said "No"!
16. Slaves in Bondage
17. Ten Nights in a Barroom
18. Terror of Tiny Town
19. Test Tube Babies
20. Wild and The Wicked

Oh, come on. You know you're jealous...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family by H.P Lovecraft

Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family
by H.P. Lovecraft

Arthur Jermyn is a monster of sorts, but through no fault of his own. It is strictly an inherited trait, an ugliness brought on by the grotesque sins of his forefathers. The Jermyns were a normal but somewhat regal family until approximately 150 years ago when Arthur's great-great-great- grandfather, an intrepid explorer, returned from an African expedition with a reclusive wife and a less-than-attractive baby son.

Ever since then, each succesive generation has been slightly off in proportion, slightly grotesque in their features. Beyond this, they are also prone to madness, violent behavior, and to sucumb to unseemly fates.

Arthur, a grown man and poet and also the last branch of the Jermyn family tree, travels to Africa to look into the wild stories once told by his ancestor. What he finds is the cringe-worthy truth about his twisted little bloodline.

This tale is not told in first person, which is something of a rarity up to this point. It is also broken up into two chapters, having originally been published over the course of two separate issues (March and June 1921 issues of The Wolverine). Chapter one is mostly background information on the earlier generations of the Jermyn family, and comes off a bit dull until the twist ending of chapter two, when you realize what the point to it really was. I wonder how many readers lost interest during the original waiting period between the two halves. I probably would have.

This isn't so much a horror story as it is a disturbing one. Imagine a seedier version of a Tarzan story, told from the outside in. You won't have bad dreams after reading this one, but you probably will offer up a grimace everytime you think of it.

I know that love is blind...but sometimes it really shouldn't be.


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Saturday, March 27, 2010

NIght of the Creeps (1986)

Night of the Creeps
Night of the Creeps
Jason Lively...Chris
Steve Marshall...J.C.
Jill Whitlow...Cynthia
Tom Atkins...Ray Cameron

Chris is the red-headed stepchild of the college campus. Geeky and awkward with no confidence and no social skills, he of course falls for popular sorority president Cindy Cronenberg. In order to get her to take him seriously, Chris convinces his one and only friend J.C. to join him in pledging a fraternity.

Sounds like your typical late-eighties teen sex romp so far, doesn't it? Well, hold onto your knickers, because things take a quick left turn from ordinary before long. Part of their initiation is stealing a medical cadaver and leaving it on the steps of a rival frat house, during which they unintentionally release a nearly three decades-old corpse from deep freeze, one infested with an alien slug-like parasite that breeds within the brain and controls the body like a puppet. In short order, there are legions of these slugs crawling about and a multitude of the dead stalking Sorority Row.

This cult classic of 80s drive-in fare has (relatively) recently been released in a director's cut DVD, and can now be seen as it was meant to be seen. Full of traditional 1980s character tropes (hard-nosed cop, douchebag frat brat, lovable loser, etc.), old school gore gags, a plethora of priceless dialogue, and a delightfully delectable cheese factor, this is not one to be missed, whether you've seen it before or watching it for the first time.

It's obvious who the influences here were, as they're all named openly as characters. Typically I don't like those cutesy in-jokes when done so blatantly, but I let it slide here. There were some subtle strokes of genius in the direction (the 1959 scenes and Detective Cameron's dreams among them). It's not one of my favorite horror flicks, but it had been many, many years since I first saw it, and was pleasantly surprised by how well it held up.

Rated R
88 Minutes
United States

"Thrill me."

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Harryhausen and Horror on TCM (03.26.10)

Tonight Turner Classic Movies is showcasing the work of Ray Harryhausen with a threesome of his films. Following that, we even get a couple of bonus, unrelated genre gems. Check 'em out!

8:00 PM Jason And The Argonauts (1963)
The legendary hero enlists the help of the gods to steal the golden fleece.
Cast: Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Gary Raymond, Laurence Naismith Dir: Don Chaffey C-104 mins, TV-PG

10:00 PM Clash Of The Titans (1981)
A Greek hero fights a series of monsters, including the dreaded gorgon, to win the woman he loves.
Cast: Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom, Maggie Smith, Burgess Meredith Dir: Desmond Davis C-118 mins, TV-14

12:15 AM Golden Voyage Of Sinbad, The (1973)
Sinbad battles a fiendish magician and his many monsters.
Cast: John Phillip Law, Tom Baker, Caroline Munro, Douglas Wilmer Dir: Gordon Hessler C-105 mins, TV-PG

2:15 AM Race With The Devil (1975)
Two vacationing couples who witness a satanic sacrifice suddenly find their lives threatened.
Cast: Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Loretta Swit, Lara Parker Dir: Jack Starrett C-88 mins

3:45 AM Hot Rods To Hell (1967)
A family traveling through the desert is set up by a teen gang.
Cast: Dana Andrews, Jeanne Crain, Mimsy Farmer, Laurie Mock Dir: John Brahm C-100 mins, TV-PG

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Midnite Media Turns 101...

...people into mindless zombies.

That is to say, I've accumulated 101 followers...which pretty much matches my terrible HorrorBlips rating! Yay me!

End Transmission.

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Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft

Ex Oblivione
by H.P. Lovecraft

If H.P. Lovecraft had killed himself, this very brief story (originally published in the March 1921 issue of The United Amateur) could have been considered his suicide note. It is, oddly, fantastical and a bit whimsical, like Alice in Wonderland without all those mirthful creatures. Only when viewed subtextually does the true bitter nihilism shine through.


The story is deceptively simple: a depressed man dreams of a beautiful and serene garden where he finds the peace he could not find in life. Within that garden, he comes across an ivy covered wall. Built into that wall is an iron gate that he can not open, no matter how badly he wants to.

Night after night he dreams of the garden and his attempts to get beyond that gate. He imagines it to be the entrance into yet another world, a veritable paradise that would put even this dream garden to shame.

He travels to the dream city of Zakarion, where he stumbles across an old papyrus text written by dream sages and scholars. It tells of a pill that, when consumed, will open the iron gate.

He promptly takes said pill and returns to the garden where, lo and behold, the gate has been flung open. Stepping through, our narrator finds the sweetest paradise he can imagine: complete and total nothingness.

Now it seems to me that our narrator is more than slightly depressed, and longing for a way out of this world. While he initially finds some sort of respite in his fantasies, he needed something with more permanence. The iron gate represented that permanence--death--but how to pass through it? He finally opts for an overdose, falls into one last slumber, and then enters into death. The fact that beyond death was a vast void of nothingness is evidence of Lovecraft's atheism--and the fact that the narrator is overjoyed with that nothingness is evidence of Lovecraft's disgust with the world he lived in. Better the emptiness of death than the pain of life.

The horror is definitely here...but you may have to look beneath the surface to see it clearly.


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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Five Prop Replicas That Don't Exist...But Should

1) Necronomicon Kindle Book Cover (Evil Dead series)
With my ongoing chronological journey through the work of H.P. Lovecraft--all performed on my Kindle--this idea struck me as particularly cool. The perfect blending of the ancient and the modern...sorcery and science. Imagine flipping open the Necronomicon and reading about the Necronomicon. Or a digital Harlequin Romance. Whatever floats your boat.

2) Watchmen Babies Comic Book (The Simpsons)
I know this was intended as a one-off joke that took Alan Moore's worst fears into ridiculous proportions... but come on. What diehard Watchmen fan wouldn't cough up some hard-earned scratch for this? The Simpsons already have their own comic book line, so is this really that far fetched? Will somebody please set up a tête-à-tête  between the Bongo and DC bigwigs?  (That's right...I actually used the phrase tête-à-tête in a sentence.  And properly, I might add.)

3) Nudie Girl Jigsaw Puzzle (Pieces)
At the beginning of this cheeser, a young child is interrupted by his overbearing mother while assembling this puzzle (or, in the Latin, Puzzelus Interuptus), sending him off on a murderous rampage in later years. A replica of this puzzle couldn't be too hard to create, and would make a great gift for the horror fan that has everything. But I'm torn. Should the missing pieces be included, or left out to stay true to the source?

4) Frankenhooker Blueprints (Frankenhooker)
I'm not sure if these plans even still exist, but how fucking cool would it be to have these framed and hanging on your living room wall?  And no, I wouldn't try to put them to use. At least, not until my loving wife is killed in some freak lawncare accident.

5) Red Apple Cigarettes (Pulp Fiction)
These days, smoking cigarettes is the social equivalent of dropping trou in the middle of a crowded resturaunt and releasing a steamer on the carpet. Yet drinking alcohol is still acceptable--hell, it's even encouraged--because, as people say, there's no such thing as 'Second Hand Drink'.  Which is a damn lie, if you've ever known anyone killed in a drunk driving accident.  Sounds like second-hand drinking to me.  But I digress. My point is that I'm a bit of an old school cat, and I remember those days, not all that long ago, when men were men and smoking was a sure-fire sign of badassery. And you know who was a badass? Butch from Pulp Fiction. And I...I wanna be like Butch! Even if QT doesn't want to get into the tobacco industry, I would welcome a cigarette case that just looks like a Red Apple pack. I may be asking a lot, but I'm not choosy.

What say you?

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Polaris by H.P. Lovecraft

by H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft was one of those authors who wrote stories for therapeutic reasons, to work through his fears and insecurities in the public eye while the fantastical fiction aspects also granted him a safe level of anonymity.

Hello. My name is Howard, and I suffer from night terrors.

His nightmares were poured onto paper, his way of moving past them, and then they became other peoples nightmares, which is why dreams figured so importantly in many of his tales. This one is no exception.

A man suffering from insomnia lays awake night after night, staring at the stars in the sky outside his window. He becomes fixated on the star Polaris, and in time finally drifts off to sleep.

He dreams of a distant city nestled between two peaks the first night. Later, he dreams of the people who inhabit that city. Even later still, he dreams that he is one of them, a citizen of this city rather than just an observer. When a civil emergency rears its head, and the citizens must prepare for battle, our narrator is thrust into a position where he must help, in some small way, to defend this home away from home.

Here Lovecraft is working through the shame he felt for being labeled Not Suitable For Combat during the first World War. Because of this, "Polaris" has sometimes been called the author's most autobiographical work--which is pretty strange considering the subject matter.

Unfortunately, this is one of Lovecraft's fairy tale fantasy type of stories, and I have a little difficulty getting fully behind those. Not because they're not well written--they certainly are--but because they're just not my cup of tea. I'm more about the sheer horror, and less about the flights of fancy.

It should be noted that the Pnakotic Manuscripts are referenced here, one of Lovecraft's famous tomes of forbidden knowledge. Although such texts had previously been mentioned (see "The Statement of Randolph Carter"), this was the first time that one was called by name.


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Monday, March 22, 2010

Kurosawa Marathon on TCM (03.23.10-03.24.10)

Starting bright and early tomorrow morning and running straight into the following day (03.23.10-03.24.10), Turner Classic Movies is broadcasting ANOTHER fine marathon of Akira Kurosawa films. Better brew some coffee, this is gonna be a long one!

6:00 AM Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
A young man struggles to learn the essence of the martial arts.
Cast: Ryunosuke Tsukigata, Akitake Kono, Shoji Kiyokawa. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-79 mins, TV-PG

7:30 AM Most Beautiful, The (1944)
Japanese women sacrifice everything for the war effort.
Cast: Takashi Shimura, Ichiro Sugai, Yoko Yaguchi, Takako Irie Dir: Akira Kurosawa BW-85 mins, TV-PG

9:00 AM Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail, The (1945)
In medieval Japan, a feudal lord undertakes a perilous mission to put his brother's soul to rest.
Cast: Denjiro Okochi, Susumu Fujita, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura Dir: Akira Kurosawa BW-59 mins, TV-PG

10:00 AM Sanshiro Sugata Part 2 (1945)
A judo fighter continues his training to prove his superiority to foreign challengers.
Cast: Susumu Fujita, Denjiro Okochi, Akitake Kono, Ryunosuke Tsukigata Dir: Akira Kurosawa BW-82 mins, TV-PG

11:30 AM No Regrets For Our Youth (1946)
A woman flees society after seeing her father and lover destroyed by government oppression.
Cast: Denjiro Okochi, Eiko Miyoshi, Setsuko Hara, Susumu Fujita Dir: Akira Kurosawa BW-110 mins, TV-PG

1:30 PM One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
An engaged couple tries to enjoy their Sunday holiday without spending any money.
Cast: Midori Ariyama, Chieko Nakakita, Ichiro Sugai, Isao Numasaki Dir: Akira Kurosawa BW-110 mins, TV-PG

3:30 PM Drunken Angel (1948)
An alcoholic doctor builds a shaky friendship with a dying gangster.
Cast: Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune, Michiyo Kogure, Chieko Nakakita Dir: Akira Kurosawa BW-98 mins, TV-PG

5:30 PM Stray Dog (1949)
When a detective's gun is stolen, he tears apart the underworld to get it back.
Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi, Shimamura, Keiko Awaji. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-122 mins, TV-PG

8:00 PM Rashomon (1950)
In medieval Japan, four people offer conflicting accounts of a rape and murder.
Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Takashi Shimura, Masayuki Mori Dir: Akira Kurosawa BW-88 mins, TV-PG

9:30 PM Seven Samurai (1954)
Japanese villagers hire a team of traveling samurai to defend them against a bandit attack.
Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Kuninori Kodo, Yoshio Inaba Dir: Akira Kurosawa BW-207 mins, TV-14

1:00 AM Yojimbo (1961)
A samurai-for-hire sets the warring factions of a Japanese town against each other.
Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Eijiro Tono, Seizaburo Kawazu, Isuzu Yamada Dir: Akira Kurosawa BW-111 mins, TV-14

3:00 AM Sanjuro (1962)
A wandering samurai recruits younger fighters to help him battle corruption.
Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Takashi Shimura, Yuzo Kayama Dir: Akira Kurosawa BW-95 mins, TV-14

4:45 AM Dodes 'Ka-Den (1970)
Slum dwellers in Tokyo fight to survive while dreaming of better lives.
Cast: Hiroshi Akutagawa, Michiko Araki, Junzaburo Ban, Jerry Fujio Dir: Akira Kurosawa C-140 mins, TV-14

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Nyarlathotep by H.P. Lovecraft

by H.P. Lovecraft

This story (originally published in the November 1920 issue of The United Amateur) could have benefited from being slightly longer, but it's not bad for what it is. The whole of humanity begins feeling a great and inexplicable tension, which leads into political issues setting us on the verge of war.

And then comes a man by name of Nyarlathotep from out of Egypt, claiming to be an entity at least 27 centuries old. The natives of his country instinctively bow to him out of some innate sense of reverence, and Nyarlathotep travels across the world, city by city, demonstrating his vast array of supernatural abilities.

In the end, the world is united. Not in peace, but rather by fear.

This story has obvious allusions to Christianity's coming of the Anti-Christ...which seems a bit strange to me, seeing as how Lovecraft was anything but a believer. Perhaps this is the Cthulu Mythos version, one that Lovecraft's artistic side could fit in alongside his spiritual side.

Nyarlathotep appears as a character in three other Lovecraft tales and two poems, not to mention numerous mentions and references throughout his other works, which I believe makes him even more prevalent than Cthulu himself.

Even though this promising tale goes by too fast, feeling less like a whole and more like an introduction...well, maybe that's exactly what it is meant to be.


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Friday, March 19, 2010

On TCM Underground Tonight (03.19.10)

Late tonight/early tomorrow morning (03.19.10/03.20.10), Turner Classic Movies is showing a pair of classic exploitation films on TCM Underground. Sounds sexy...

2:00 AM Kitten With a Whip (1964)
A delinquent escapes from reform school and holds a politician hostage.
Cast: Ann-Margret, John Forsythe, Peter Brown, Patricia Barry Dir: Douglas Heyes BW-83 mins

3:30 AM Caged (1950)
A young innocent fights to survive the harsh life in a women's prison.
Cast: Eleanor Parker, Agnes Moorehead, Ellen Corby, Hope Emerson Dir: John Cromwell BW-97 mins, TV-PG

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Satan's Slave (1976)

Satan's Slave
1976 Satan's Slave 11 x 17 inches Style B Movie Mini Poster

Written by David McGillivray
Directed by Norman J. Warren

Catherine Yorke...Candace Glendenning
Alexander Yorke...Michael Gough
Stephen Yorke...Martin Potter
Frances...Barbara Kellerman

Catherine, a young English woman, is en route to a remote country estate with her parents to visit an uncle that she has never before met. A bit of bad blood between him and her father has kept the family apart for many years, but one seemingly random phone call has placed them on the road to forgiveness. Yep, they're going to be one big happy family.

But a freak car accident the moment they pull up to the house claims the lives of both Catherine's parents, and she finds herself in the hands of three total strangers: her uncle Alexander (a distinguished gentleman with an M.D. and an extreme mustache), her cousin Stephen (a handsome playboy), and Alexander's secretary Frances (Stephen's jilted lover). Under their care and guidance, Catherine tries to work through her grief, but it's not easy, what with all the gory psychic visions she's been having! Alexander insists that they are just hallucinations brought on by the trauma, but the title of this movie is Satan's Slave, so we're fairly certain that's not actually the case.

You see, something is terribly wrong with this little family--which isn't giving anything away, really, because we're treated to scenes of ritual sacrifice, date rape and murder before the heroine even makes an appearance! The question is, what do they want with Catherine? The answer? Well, I won't tell you that here, but suffice it to say that astute viewers will have it figured out from the very first scene.

Okay, so this movie started off a bit slow, and there were no real surprises along the way, but there were plenty of death scenes with forensically improbable blood spatter. And if you like a little kink-'n'-sleaze, there's plenty of that here too: the aforementioned rape; a woman tied to a tree, beaten with a crucifix, branded, horse whipped, and then burned alive; bloody lesbian groping; incest; and snakes writhing on naked bodies. How's that for starters?

These things alone don't make a bad movie good, but they do make a mediocre movie better...or at least more interesting. This is precisely the type of genre cinema that Ti West was riffing on in his uneven House of the Devil, so if you're looking for a little pre-history to that film, there are worse places to start than here.

And by worse, I mean with fewer nipples.

ALSO KNOWN AS: Evil Heritage

View the trailer below!

Rated R
English, ol' chap!
United Kingdom

"It's Catherine's birthday. You're invited to her torture party!"

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Five Minor Works by H.P. Lovecraft

As much as I have been enjoying my little chronological journey through the works of Lovecraft, it would be a lie if I said that I enjoyed all of it. Even Picasso had his off days, I'm sure. I'll be reviewing his 'minor works' (those that were too short to actually speak of, those that just seemed pointless, or any others that I couldn't justify giving an entire post to) whenever I amass three-to-five of them. So you'll be reading about these minor works slightly out of chronological order. So sue me.

A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson: This stodgy piece from Lovecraft is exactly what the title suggests: Lovecraft pretending to be real life author Johnson, reminiscing about some dull events that may or may not have actually happened. This story is full of references to what I can only assume were other real people of Johnson's day, but you probably won't know any of them and thus you probably won't give a damn. Lord (and Cthulu) knows I didn't.  Originally published in the November 1917 issue of The United Amateur, after "The Alchemist" but before "The Beast in the Cave."

Memory: Lovecraft wasn't all sci-fi and horror, as this thankfully brief endeavor proves. It involves only two paper-thin characters--the Genie that haunts the moonbeams (seriously!) and a Demon. Most of the story is dedicated to describing the mysterious land in which they dwell. This reads like something you would have found in some LSD-soaked underground hippie rag from the 1960s.  Who knew that Lovecraft like the Grateful Dead?  Originally published in the June 1919 issue of The United Co-operative, after "The Beast in the Cave" and before "Beyond the Wall of Sleep."

The White Ship: A lighthouse keeper fantasizes that he hitches a ride on a white ship and visits multiple fairy tale-esque lands. Rambling and seemingly pointless, this was a difficult tale to get through.  Originally published in the November 1919 issue of The United Amateur, after "Dagon" and before "The Statement of Randolph Carter."

The Doom That Came to Sarnath: Lovecraft returns to his fairy tale style here, giving us a little history lesson about the mythical land of Sarnath. The name makes you think this would be one of his horror stories...but you would be woefully mistaken.  Originally published in the June 1920 issue of The Scot, after "The Statement of Randolph Carter" and before "Poetry and the Gods."

Poetry and the Gods: This short story, written with fellow author Anna Helen Crofts, is a pretentious blend of prose and poetry. Essentially, a woman reads a poem and discovers a great spiritual truth. We, unfortunately, do not. The Gods here are Greek deities, not the alien elders you are hoping for.  Originally published in the September 1920 issue of The United Amateur, after "The Doom That Came to Sarnath" and before "The Cats of Ulthar" (see the next 'minor works' entry for more information.)


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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More Kurosawa on TCM (03.16.10)

Starting tonight and running into tomorrow morning, Turner Classic Movies is playing ANOTHER marathon of films directed by Akira Kurosawa!

8:00 PM Bad Sleep Well, The (1960)
A man seeks revenge by marrying the daughter of his father's enemy.
Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Takeshi Kato, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura Dir: Akira Kurosawa BW-151 mins, TV-14

10:45 PM High And Low (1963)
Kidnappers mistake a chauffeur's son for the child of a wealthy businessman.
Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Kyoko Kagawa, Tatsuya Mihashi Dir: Akira Kurosawa BW-143 mins, TV-14

1:15 AM Red Beard (1965)
A tough doctor takes a young intern under his wing.
Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Yuzo Kayama, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Terumi Niki Dir: Akira Kurosawa BW-185 mins, TV-MA

4:30 AM I Live In Fear (1955)
An elderly industrialist's fear of nuclear warfare leads his family to accuse him of insanity.
Cast: Kiyomi Mizunoya, Kamatari Fujiwara, Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune Dir: Akira Kurosawa BW-103 mins, TV-PG

6:15 AM Scandal (1950)
A tabloid report tries to turn a singing star's friendship with a young artist into an illiciet romance.
Cast: Yoko Katsuragi, Yoshiko Yamaguchi, Toshiro Mifune, Noriko Sengoku Dir: Akira Kurosawa BW-105 mins, TV-PG

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Malibu High (1979)

Malibu High

Written by Tom Singer
Directed by Irvin Berwick

Kim...Jill Lansing
Lucy...Katie Johnson
Tony...Alex Mann
Lance...Garth Howard

Poor little Kim. Poor little white trash Kim. Her life is a mess: her father hung himself "because he couldn't get it up", her mother doesn't understand her, her ex-boyfriend is dating the most affluent girl in town, and her grades are so low that she's in danger of not graduating. After a particularly heartbreaking night at Larry's Disco, she vows to make a change in her life, starting immediately. As she tells her only friend Lucy: "Starting tomorrow, it's gonna be a whole new scene!"

The whole new scene begins with her dressing like a cheap tramp, sporting a little lace-up top and a skirt that barely covers her ass. Said ass is wiggled and jiggled in the face of her history teacher, a sad ploy for attention that results in a little sexual study session on the local beach. "Because at Malibu High...there's more than one way to earn an A"--which isn't really the tagline, but it totally should have been!

From there, Kim promptly joins up with sleazeball pot dealer Tony, becoming the number one girl in his prostitution side business--there are literally a dozen men lined up outside of Tony's van at any given time. It's a rockin', but people keep on a knockin'.

She's selling herself for good grades by day (she's failing all of her classes, after all), and selling herself for cash by night. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal until she's recruited by rival pimp/mobster Lance who offers her more money, better drugs, and a handgun of her very own. What red blooded American girl could turn down an offer like that?

This may be Malibu, but Kim is no Barbie doll. She's a vaguely attractive bad girl who sleeps in the buff and lights up a cigarette the moment she rolls out of bed in the morning. In short, my kind of gal! She's quite the bitch, too, even to her best friend. So why is Lucy still friends with Kim after the way she treats her? The same reason that the director cast so many terrible actors in this movie: a lack of options. I don't think the A-Listers were kicking down the door for a chance at this script.

All of the characters are paper thin, and their motivations are never truly explained--but that's quite all right. We're not here for a moving character study. We're here for cheese, sleaze and bodies that please...and we got that in spades!

Sex, drugs, violence, attempted rape, murder, revenge, teased hair, ridiculous fashions, horrible music (I'm not kidding, the People's Court themesong crops up at one point--during a chase scene!), tacky tan lines, and, to quote Shakespeare, Nipples-A-Go-Go. This movie has a specific audience, and if the preceding laundry list didn't catch your attention, you're obviously not it. So keep moving, buster. Nothing to see here.

ALSO KNOWN AS: Death in Denim; High School Hit Girl; Lovely but Deadly

Rated R
92 Minutes
United States

"You're gonna have to lose your cherry on your own time!"

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Survival of the Dead's Zombie Identification Field Manual

Heya, Hipsters!

Received an e-mail today that featured the latest bit of advertising for George Romero's upcoming Survival of the Dead.  Most of you have probably already seen it, but for those who haven' ya' go.


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