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31 Days of the Best Halloween Movies — Countdown Day 4

A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984

So many of us have had a sleepover where we sneaked (snuck?  whatever.)  our boyfriends or girlfriends into our homes and bedrooms unbeknownst to our parents — or we did so when our parents were dumb enough to trust us while they were gone.  Yeah, that would be all of us troublemakers.  This movie not only capitalizes on that, but also takes a shot at our dreams — that time of night when we are all vulnerable whether we like it or not.  The truth is that we are all, at least on a subconscious level, very afraid of the serial killers we hear about on the nightly news and that fear manifests in our dreams.

The wonderfully frightening thing about this film is that it uses not only our fear of wanting to make our friends happy no matter what, but we are also able to put the idea of the crazed killer out of our minds — until he/she comes for us in our nightmares.  Add an alcoholic mother and a domineering cop father and we have quite the set up for really, really bad dreams of a pedophile lunatic with knives for fingers who wants to kill us for our parents doing the right thing — no matter how flawed they are.  Because let’s face it, the parents did the right thing — they just didn’t know how it would affect their children.  Wait?  Isn’t this how it all started?

If you are like me and have a nightmare pretty much every time you close your eyes, this film will certainly stay with you and perhaps make you drink just a bit more coffee…

31 Days of the Best Halloween Movies — Countdown Day 3

If you are any sort of normal human being, you were at least somewhat freaked out by our last film, Jeepers Creepers.  That weird, spider head thing with teeth that attacked those poor kids should have left you not only worried about that crazy-ass driver on the road, but also arachnids and whether their teeth can actually penetrate your skin. Personally, they all gave me the creeps, but I was even more disturbed by those nasty, slime covered, bacteria infested teeth.  Yuck.

Our next film is a throwback, and some of you may assume that because it had numerous bad sequels that it isn’t worth the effort of even watching.  You are wrong.  The first installment of this film was scary, and albeit low budget, it scared the heck out of a lot of people.  So much so that the powers that be (Follywood — that’s my made-up term for the F-in  idiots that run *ollywood) went ahead and made really bad replicas of it — all in the name of money.  This is the thinking persons opportunity to view what was a really scary film and at the same time poke those idiots who have no clue what is really scary right in the eye.

Friday the 13th, 1980

Okay, yes.  There were horny teenagers, there were booze and drugs.  We have all had moments where we were just a little less — let’s just say “aware” — of what was going on around us.  We never would have intentionally left children in compromised situations.  But that is exactly what this movie exploits.  Our very human fears of letting go mentally and bad things happening as a result.  So yeah, this movie does play with our fears about that, but then they had the audacity to bring in Mommy!  Who isn’t afraid of their own mother?  Much less a mother with an axe?  Tee-heeeeeeee….

31 Days of the Best Halloween Movies — Countdown Day 2

Ahh.  Hopefully, you watched House of Wax and really got a feel for the hot, melting feel of Halloween.  Okay, maybe you didn’t but Phyllis Kirk certainly did.  Mwuahhahhha!  Ahem, moving on.

Our next installment of “get you in the mood” Halloween flicks is none other than:

Jeepers Creepers, 2001

This is one of those movies that you really aren’t sure how to categorize because it is so just — out there.  However, in this original installment we have two siblings (Gina Philips and Justin Long), traveling alone in a car only to have their innocence disrupted by a devilish fiend come out of nowhere and try to eat them.  The acting is fantastic, as are the plot and visuals as the monster is one of the creepiest things I have seen in a long time.  Keep in mind that you may not want to remember those visuals after all… or the song Jeepers Creepers.  Trust me on this, after seeing this movie that song will forever remind you of this gruesome flick — and that dude with the teeth.

31 Days of The Best Halloween Movies — Countdown:  Day 1

In order to really get into the Halloween spirit, I always find myself wanting — scratch that — needing to watch movies that put me in the mood for all kind of ghouls, goblins, ghosts, zombies, and whatever else makes we wake up shaking in the middle of the night.  So this year, for every day in the month of October, I will post a film that is in my top 31 of the scariest of all time, starting with the least scary right down to what really makes me need a nightlight.  However, be warned — they are the 31 scariest of ALL horror movies ever made so none will be an easy viewing experience.  Keep in mind that I;  A) Am not including any films with any sort of funny aspect to them and B) Some younger viewers may not be able to fully appreciate the older films no matter how aweseomely awesome they are.

So, without further ado, the first film you should watch to get thyself in the Halloween mood is:

House of Wax, 1953

First of all, it’s Vincent Price people.  Vincent Price!  However, the story is fantastic as well as the special effects.  For those of you who grew up with no idea what these guys had to go through before CGI and color films — educate thyself.  This movie is a classic that every horror fan should have in their repertoire.  The rest of you who do have an idea just how wonderful this film is — do yourself a favor, rent or download and enjoy!

Reposted from The National Review

9/11: The Case for Controlled and Sustained Rage

Every year on the eve of 9/11, my wife and I show our older kids pictures from the day. And every year I feel a fresh sense of rage at the attack. It’s a puzzling phenomenon of politically correct American life that almost immediately our media and national leadership began a long process of emotional de-escalation, a process that continues even after eleven years of war and continual, wholesale atrocities from our enemies. While nothing could shield the families of the fallen from the pain and reality of their loss, the networks “spared” the rest of us the worst of the images. And they “spare” us still today.

I’ve said this before, but if there is one lesson I learned during my own deployment, it’s that our enemy is far more evil than most Americans imagine. Their evil should trigger rage — a controlled rage — and it certainly does for our soldiers downrange. A morally depraved country attacked like we were on 9/11 would lash out wildly and indiscriminately, annihilating its enemies and anyone in their proximity. A morally weak country would shrink back, timidly, complying with terrorists demands. But our nation has largely responded in the right way, with a righteous anger that has in part sustained us through eleven years of continual conflict — a war that represents the most focused application of violence in the entire history of warfare.

Every September 11, I’m proud of my country. I’m proud of the men and women who sacrificed themselves on Flight 93 — our first counterattack in the War on Terror. I’m proud that the entire day of September 11, 2001, was marked and characterized by profound examples of American heroism, compassion, and decency. I’m proud that our nation has fought longer — with an all-volunteer military — than the jihadists ever thought we would (turns out we’re not so “soft” after all). And I’m proud that throughout that very long war, we’ve been neither depraved nor weak, but have focused our attacks on our enemies while sacrificing to defend the defenseless, at home and abroad.

On this eleventh anniversary, take a moment to view once again the images not just of that terrible day but also of the war that has followed. And when you do, remember that you are right to be angry — and that anger should renew your resolve.

Dark Matters

I recently became aware of the show Dark Matters on the Science Channel, hosted by none other than our favorite mad scientist John Noble  (of Fringe fame and wow, what an old photo, but I digress).  I noticed the show simply because ads for the show have recently been appearing everywhere (I am pretty sure I saw one during a repeat of Frasier) but if you haven’t looked into what the show is about or actually seen it, you should.

If you are a horror and science fan, such as myself, this is a show you will become addicted to, and for good reason.  It has elements of the macabre, but also makes you really think about some of the scientific discoveries we have come to think of as commonplace today.

For instance, they have had episodes ranging from Alien Hand Syndrome to the Cold War — all of it factual and scientific, no matter now bizarre or strange (one episode acutally made my husband leave the room).

Believe me, this is NOT a show you want to miss.  The only thing I regret about this posting is that I did not let you know earlier.  I even love the tag phrase of the show:  “Question Everything” as I hope all of my readers take to heart and do so themselves.

Movie Review:  Prometheus  2012

I must start this review by explaining that I had two problems while contemplating writing this review (and remember that I never give away the plot or any other details, you must see the film on your own and draw your own conclusions):

1) I love the Alien franchise.  And when I say love, I mean make your spouse (and all other loved ones) sit through innumerable hours of watching everything Alien until they want to throttle you.  This love however, pretty much ended with Alien3 (even though it was somewhat watchable) and totally died with Alien4 – Resurrection (whose existence still pisses me off when I accidentally see its name while scrolling by the SyFy channel at night.)  Heck, Alien vs. Predator was 10 times better than Resurrection and it wasn’t even that great.  Maybe now you get how much I loathe Alien Resurrection.  Anywhoo…

2)  I was aware before seeing Prometheus that it was supposedly a “pseudo” prequel to the Alien franchise but didn’t know what the hell that really meant.  Now that I have seen the film, I unfortunately have a very clear idea of what the hell they were talking about.

So now, on to the review…

First, I went out of my way to see this film in 3D — it was my first 3D movie in theater (not counting “A Bug’s Life” at Disney World) and I have to say I was impressed.  The visuals were stunning and through a lot of the film I felt I was right there with the characters so I have to give big props for the fact that Mr. Scott shot this in 3D and did a great job of making the audience feel like they were actually a part of the film.

Also, the acting was great with only one exception — and I am not sure if this was due to the director or the actor, although I suspect the former.   All of the actors seemed very capable and in the case of Janek — his poor performance seemed forced.  Janek (Idris Elba) seemed to have no feelings whatsoever in this film until the very end.  One wondered if he was actually an android in the film.  I must also give honorable mention to two other characters that other critics ignored, Eilizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Fifield (Sean Harris).  If it were not for both their superb acting I honestly don’t think that I would have been so drawn in while watching.

Now on to the bad news:  the plot of this film was horrible and I directly blame Damon Lindeof.  The truth of the matter is that for some ungodly reason (perhaps studio pressure and — just my opinion because I have no proof — perhaps some form of nepotism) it was  decided that he was allowed to change the script originally written by Ridley Scott and Jon Spaihts –two people waaaay more talented.  If you really want to know how big of a hack Mr. Lindeof is (who clearly has no clue about what Alien fans really want), just take a look at that stupid hat he wore at WonderCon 2012.  Need I really say more?

Anyway as I always say, please don’t let my opinion of this film deter you from seeing it as it is certainly worth a few hours of your time.  You should ALWAYS make up your own mind about films, books, or any art form for that matter.  My job is simply to give you a heads up and perhaps shine a small light on the subject matter of which you are interested.

Let me know what you think of my reviews anytime.   In the meantime, please enjoy the imagination of others and always give them mad props for their effort.

Right now, a lot (and I mean A LOT) of you are wondering what the heck was going on when you turned on the nightly news or your favorite internet web site and saw footage (albeit from far, far away and partially blocked by a damn tree) of one man literally eating the face off of another man.  I know this is in no way my usual post, but I felt it was important to gather as many facts and links in one place considering my interest in the case (Horror in the news) as well as provide you with as much pertinent data as possible.

Now don’t go getting the idea that you can see the attack occurring on the footage, because you cannot.  What you can see is a very far removed camera that barely shows some shadows moving until the police show up.

If you are of the inquisitive type such as myself, you can also Google and find the incredibly gruesome and heartbreaking photos of the man who was attacked by this supposed “zombie” on the internet pretty much everywhere.  Although they are available on the internet, I refuse to provide them here not just due to my feelings for the victim, but also, if you are easily upset (or let’s face it — just a human being who would like to sleep at night) you should consider the fact that once you see something, you cannot un-see it.  The poor victim in this case was a man named Ronald Poppo.

I have to admit when my sister told me about this incident, at first I thought it was a prank.  However, it also harkened my brain to almost very zombie book I have ever read:  the protagonist hears or sees something that seems like a zombie attack somewhere in the world, but it is so far away that the person simply ignores the news and then bad things happen.  This is where fact and fiction digress.

When it comes to deciding whether or not a Zombie-apocalypse is upon us or not, we really do need to consider many factors before we head down into our doomsday shelters or start hoarding canned goods and ammo.  Here are just a few ideas as to why this may have happened and you can choose what you believe:

  1. Nothing To See Here Folks.  Nothing really happened except one man was on dope and then attacked another.   Yes, the attacker ate the victims face off for a full 18 minutes and not only swallowed said flesh but growled at the officer who tried to stop him.  It was just a side effect of some drug (bath salts – see “drug” link below).  (Note:  My vote is NO on this one)
  2.  It’s Armageddon.  Yes, there are those out there who believe this is God’s heads-up that the End Is Near.  Also, supposedly, the attacker was a bible worshiping guy (who took his Bible everywhere — ummmkay) who simply left one morning to go to a street fair where, he simply snapped (or was invaded by demons — you decide) and decided to take all of his clothes off during a 3 mile walk, attack a random homeless man and eat his face off (including his eyes, nose and mouth).  Sorry, but my God is NOT okay with this type of behavior — warning of the EOT’s or not).  (Note:  My vote is NO on this) one)
  3. The News Has It Right:  We can all choose to believe what the news said as well as videos we saw via the internet,  but unfortunately we still have a poor man who did not deserve what happened to him and some mighty strange goings-on.  I don’t have a better answer than any of you as to how a person not only gets high enough to bite, but slowly bite, chew and swallow another living persons tissue.  I am sorry, but I do question how one drug can make someone who had no predisposition to do such a thing suddenly do so.  (Note:  My vote is MAYBE on this one.  I don’t know enough about PCP and LSD to comment honestly)
  4. There is More to the Matter.  Look, I am not going to say that I believe that zombies are roaming the streets of America (or anywhere else for that matter — yet) but I will say that I believe that there could be a drug combined with something else (i.e. mental illness or another drug) out there that could cause this type of behavior.  In fact, as much as I would like to lay blame for this on one thing, I cannot.  Seems to me that there are probably several factors that lead to this horrific incident and yes, I believe the government or local police know more than what they are telling us about this drug and it’s reaction with other factors.  Call me a conspiracy theorist all you want, but if I had to guess, yes, there is a drug of some sort involved, but the answer to this horrifying act does not lie with only what we hear on the news.  Once the toxicology reports come out they will most likely blame this “bath salt” phenomena.  Although I belive this to be a good tactic in terms of not panicking the pubic or creating copycats, I also firmly believe we have a right to know what the hell is going on in cases like this.  (Obviously, my vote is YES/PROBABLY on this one)

* There was also another incident of cannibalism recently in Maryland, but the victim was already dead when the cannibalism occurred.  A very different MO than the one in Miami, so in my opinion, they are not connected.

**If you would like to donate to Mr. Poppo’s recovery fund, you can do so here.  This poor man deserves so much help so if you can, please do so!

House of Dead Trees — By Rod Redux

For those of you who have read my previous entry about Mr. Redux, this review really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.  But, just in case you missed it (or just don’t want to click the link above and read it now) it is this readers opinion that Mr. Redux is going to be the next Stephen King.

First, for all of you King fans out there know this:  I love Stephen King.  I always hesitate to say that I’m his Number One Fan for (hopefully) obvious reasons, but damn if it hasn’t felt that way for a very long time.  In fact, I can say with all honesty (and experience) that he is the only “star” I would ever probably get arrested over if I saw him in real life.  His writing, even the books I didn’t like (and yes, there were a few) took me to places and fired up my imagination in ways I will never be able to fully express to someone else — or for that matter, repay Mr. King.

Second, I am NOT writing this review in a positive light just because Mr. Redux commented on my review of the movie The Thing.  Although I do freely admit to a moment of childish glee and indecision as to how to react (including whether I should even mention it here), I would never write a review that wasn’t true to my feelings about the subject matter.

Okay, so now that that is out of the way, on to the review…

The story centers around a group of paranormal investigators who get the chance of their lives (for their TV show “Ghost Scouts”) to investigate one the country’s most haunted houses — The Forester House.  Now, if you are anything like me, the idea of investigating a haunted house sounds fabulous, but when work, family life and geography get in the way, a show or book about someone else doing it will do just fine.  Such is the case with House of Dead Trees.

However, what this book does in addition to a haunted house tale, is give the book a backstory that in itself could be published as a short story or small novella.  In fact, since the book starts out with the backstory, I was so enthralled with it that I didn’t want that part to end.  Obviously it did, and we are then led into an entirely different story, with the backstory interwoven into it.  That, my reading friends, is what I call a great book.

The biggest thing I fear whenever I write a review that is so glowing that you are let down once you crack the pages or press play.  Although I went in expecting a lot from Mr. Redux , I was not disappointed one iota.  But as you know, all stories, movies, and tall tales affect each of us differently.  So please go in simply with  the idea that this is supposed to be a pretty darn good book, and let your imagination do the rest.

PS — I do apologize for not updating here more regularly, but alas, real life does occasionally interfere and such is the case with yours truly.  My promise to you is that I will update as often as possible and as long as my fingers still remember asdfjkl;.

Movie Review: The Thing 2011

First thing you should know before deciding upon if you should view this movie is that it did its damnedest to stay true to the 1982 version — which was the smart thing to do.  Clearly, they were well aware of the fan following of Mr. Carpenter’s version and knew not to screw with the fans who know everything — including every line to the 1982 film.  So, rule number one of sequels (this is still technically a sequel) was not broken:  do not, no matter how much you might want to, forget why the first one was successful and commence to mess it up.  However, you also don’t want to simply copy the first one and throw in CGI and a female lead — which is pretty much what happened.

It all starts with that dang block of ice doesn’t it?  Yes, even though The Thing 2011 is a prequel to John Carpenter’s version in 1982 (which was a pseudo remake of the 1951 version titled “The Thing from Another World“), the concept of opening up Pandora’s box — or in this case, a slab of ice — never ends well.

In this version we have our heroine Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, of Final Destination 3 fame) who is reluctantly sent to Antarctica to assist in a Norwegian dig of a spaceship and an unknown life form frozen in a block of ice.  Her nemesis, Dr. Halvorson however, informs her pretty quickly that she is only there to assist in digging up the specimen and “not to think”.  Nice.  What bugs me about this is that younger people (specifically this movies screen writers) seem to think that 1982 was horrific in terms of women’s rights.  Well, they weren’t perfect then and they aren’t now, but how about you learn a little history — starting with say, 60 years ago and keep going back — then let’s talk, shall we?  But once again, I digress.

As much as I love John Carpenter’s version, I was quite surprised that I only found two things to bitch about in this one — but they are important.

The first flaw in this adaptation is the number of people at the Norwegian station.  There are so many characters that you lose the intimacy that John Carpenter’s version captured so perfectly.  There are no moments of normalcy in their rooms watching TV and smoking weed or tooling around on roller skates.  Instead, all you have is a lot of people shooting pool and drinking like fish in a common room.  Another  problem with this many characters is that during the chaos you also tend lose track of who dies and how, but hey, maybe that was just me.

The second flaw is how Kate figures out what is going on — i.e. what The Thing is and what it does.  I cannot for the life of me understand how a group of scientists who claim to want to rely only on science to solve the puzzle of The Thing completely dismiss what was seen under a microscope.  Worse, didn’t even think to look again.  Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that Kate’s discovery of how The Thing operates is a novice and intelligence insulting attempt to not copy the 1982 version of discovery.  Well, at least they tried.

Anyway, if you are a fan of the 1982 film of course you are going to watch this one.  Just understand that although the creature effects are good (as they damn well should be) the movie really isn’t a whole lot more than a re-do of the 1982 version while at the same time trying to keep symmetry with the fact that it’s a prequel.  I do give them mad props on taking the pains to make sure every little detail leading up to the 1982 version was spot on and that they at least tried to make a good movie, even though they had some really big hype to live up to.

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