Last week, I uploaded my first podcast to podbean. To supplement, I made a Facebook page.
So far, things are picking up, a little more than I thought they would. I have to say, it’s heartening, and I definitely want to keep this up.
Yesterday, I got my first Covid-19 vaccine. I experienced only a few side effects, some aches that carried over the next day.
I am scheduled for my second shot on the same day I plan to launch The Bad Movie Podcast, as well as some local voting. Given that I am prone to some of the side effects, I am moving the launch to April 30 and well, why not go in for early voting?
I finally started to do it. On May 1st, I will launch what I hope to be a long standing podcast.
Much like this blog, there will be horror movie reviews. I had meant to focus on slashers and franchises, but I noticed that my choices led to the more obscure. I can work with this.
I have recorded four episodes so far, all under 20 minutes long. I am almost done with the fifth about an indie haunted house movie called The Evil Down the Street. Funny story, one of the screenwriters/actors posted about it in an online group I’m a part of and I figured, why not give it a watch?
I hope to have a stockpile in the next few weeks, and eventually have other people on. This can be found on Podbean under badmoviebunnies.
When I first saw this, I couldn’t help but think that Rob Zombie tried to make Rosemary’s Baby, albeit more graphic and in Salem, Massachusetts. You can even see the witch statue downtown if you look for it.
Watching it again, I caught notes of witchspoitation movies from the late 60s into the 1970s. I’ll spare you puns relating to devils and details, but I couldn’t help but study the setting.
The gloom of the setting and gray skies immediately caught me as a New England native.
The music contained in the Lords of Salem mystery record struck me as Zombie’s fantasy Kenneth Anger movie score. As touristy as Salem, MA got to be, the compositions work very well.
The movie itself, blocked into days of the week, was very fast paced up until the final act. It didn’t even feel like I made the progress into my knitting project that I did. Then, it started to slow down and really focus on the weirdness and surreal horror imagery, an extended psychedelic trip, one can guess as Heidi began using after a long period of recovery.
Overall, I liked the movie. It was experimental and atmospheric to be sure, but the performances were pretty good. Sherri Moon Zombie as Heidi played a recovering addict and radio DJ who innocently enough receives a mysterious record during her show, only to jokingly play it after a Rush song (a joke among her coworkers, but endearing as hell to me!) She and her coworkers play it to eerie effect that was subtle at first, but as Heidi progresses deeper into madness and eventual relapse, it gets scarier and the movie’s conclusion that much more odd and gruesome.
It’s been over three years since I left New Haven, Connecticut for San Antonio, Texas. It was a significant change to be sure, and there are some interesting differences.
One of the most notable is the weather. Forget Philadelphia, it is always sunny in San Antonio. Once, there was a little snow in my time here, shutting down a good part of the city. In contrast, New Haven will get a more than a few inches of snow, slowing a commute but so long as we stop for coffee, we’re okay.
Another thing I’ve found pleasant about San Antonio is that it can get very windy, even on hot days in August. One friend joked about living in Tornado Alley. Major costal storms might hit, but from my third floor dwelling, I hear the winds howl in the dark of night, screaming, threatening….
….to knock over the plants on the balcony.
I will sometimes joke that in moving to Texas, I now live in a Hammer Horror film. I started to wonder, how would that would look in Texas? You’d be in metropolitan San Antonio with any type of one story house, apartment complex and every type of store and neighborhood. Would you start the story at a bar or music venue? What genre?
What monster would it generate?
There’s plenty of howling wind, nevertheless.
Whenever the band, The Mission UK, comes up in conversation the first thing that I think of, or bring up, is Wayne Hussey’s autobiography, “Salad Daze,” which I highly recommend. The second thing I think of is weirder, a little more niche, if you will.
I was posting one of my favorite Mission tracks, ‘Wasteland,’ to an online deathrock discussion group one day. In addition to thumbs up and other approbation, there were a few comments expressing love for the band, and certain albums or tracks.
I respond with another little fun factoid, one that seems a little absurd, and whether I write or speak it, it just feels like I’m making it up.
‘Wasteland’ was featured in an episode of, “Miami Vice.” Season 3, episode 16 “Theresa” to be precise.
It sometimes feels like people don’t believe me when I say this. I barely believed it when I first saw it, but there it was, the familiar opening chords and vocals playing over a car chase, our heroes played by Philip Michael Thomas, Michael Talbott and Don Johnson in hot pursuit of the suspect played by Tim Capello, the saxophone guy from The Lost Boys in a neon more 80’s than 80’s backdrop suggesting nightlife, parties, fast cars and faster drugs.
Given that this was a very stylized police procedural set in 1980’s Miami, Wasteland, or the chorus, seems appropriate. It is a drug wasteland however prettied up. It is a little weird given how it was gussied up to a pastel and neon landscape to show off those 80’s sports cars and beach wear. You’d never quite picture listening to a dark song against such a back drop.
Then again, maybe it’s too perfect. I still feel that others don’t quite believe me. Good thing we have YouTube…..
As you enjoy the clip proving my ramblings, wrap your head around the following. “Vet for the Insane” by Fields of the Nephlim was in the opening sequence (involving an arty ‘snuff film’ screening) of Season 4 episode 3 “Death and the Lady.”
I like giallo film. While I know I don’t really dream in bright colors, there is that surreal, walking underwater during a rave feeling when one watches these movies.
I would have to cite Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) as both my introduction and personal favorite of the genre however over the top arty and gory as it is.
I liked director Mario Bava’s Black Sunday. I have it on a DVD pack that I should talk about in another post. For Blood and Black Lace, Bava wanted to step away from horror and try his hand at a crime thriller, though with a little extra than your average whodunit.
Our movie takes place at an Italian fashion house salon run by Countess Cristina Como (Eva Bartok), and her boyfriend, Max (Cameron Mitchell). It appears he was at least co manager of this place for some time, and a fairly recent boyfriend. The countess wasn’t necessarily a new widow, but once you start watching, it seems pretty fast.
On the other hand, when managing models, dresses, accessories and fashion show audiences, why not have another guy around. Turns out, there is more to this salon than beehive hairstyles and colorful sequined evening wear.
Our movie begins with one model talking to her boyfriend, who appears a little short on cash. The girl promises to get a little before meeting him later tonight. A short while later, an assailant wearing a long coat, hat and a blank mask to cover his face.
The assailant in question made me think of DC’s The Question. Now, I wonder if he hung out in swinging sixties Italy prior to the Justice League….
While a fun prospect, our killer had far more ordinary motives. The first model killed left behind a diary documenting nasty little secrets about everyone that model and boss alike would prefer hidden, everything from secret pregnancies to blackmail to a spouse taken out of the way. One by one, each model is taken out in a variety of colorful ways.
I say colorful because giallo loves colored lighting and I have to say, that made the atmosphere in certain scenes, particularly where one hapless and nosy model finds herself wandering through a dark storage room lit in bright greens, blues and purples as she knocks into dress mannequins and makes herself a target as the Question, I mean the villain searches for that diary.
The reveal, while convoluted, didn’t give off much in the way of a twist, even with betrayal. I really didn’t see the point of the Inspector on the scene (Thomas Reiner) beyond looking pretty and eventually sort of unraveling things. The way this movie resolved itself, he could have hit a cafe and called it a night.
All in all, if you are a fan of the genre or Mario Bava, it’s worth a watch. If you want a little extra with your thrillers or a different take on the fashion world, that works as well. I liked this movie, but not my favorite of the lot.
While the writing fell behind to a point where I stopped generating webcomics as well as reviews (let me note that for about four years, I self published three different comics of my own creation weekly), I tried podcasting. I was a guest on Chad Denton’s Trash Canon, discussing two Halloween sequels.
My visceral reaction to those episodes was one of, “I sound like that?!!” My stutter and tendency toward saying, “you know,” as filler when said stutter appears, was readily apparent.
I could improve. I want to create one of my own. I wouldn’t stick to horror movies necessarily. Like Rabbit Reviews and the handmade frankenbunny commentary, I’d want a gimmick. Some categories of discussions I thought of so far include:
Fun with Franchises: Movies and sequels
Six Degrees of [TV Show]: Discussion of a movie featuring an actor from a favorite TV show (For example, Russ Tamblyn of Twin Peaks in The Phantom Empire)
Fuck Yeah Source Data: Movies featuring cast or crew I made into a name authority record (few and far between if I can remember!)
You can check out Trash Canon via Podbean by following the link.
In the two plus years that I have left my home state of Connecticut for a new job, life and mystery allergies in San Antonio, TX, I have seen many a bad movie, but not much in the way of written reviews.
Worse, no B-Fest!
This year B-Fest is in February, so you bet that the minute that tickets went on sale, I picked them up and booked the hotel and flight. My Southwestern app got a workout and I’m sure I racked up points. I hope to do so more often.
Everything is reserved…..so now what?! How to pack, and what will be the knitting project of the Fest?
In the past, it took the form of a blanket, but I have a ton of them and while Texas can get cold (surprise to me as well), I don’t need many more.
Not that this will stop me. The sweater I attempted one year fell flat, and I need something easy.
More than a few movies that I reviewed on this blog came from Best Video in Hamden, CT. Over the years, the video rental that housed, “Forever Evil” on VHS as well as many gems from criterion collections, foreign film and finds obscure enough to put a feather tat on the snobbiest and most discerning hipsters, opened a coffee bar and its doors to live performers and film screenings.
One screening that caught my eye right away was called Gen X Film Series, and the first on the list was Alex Cox’s “Repo Man.”
Like others in the punk and/or goth subculture, I’ve seen “Sid and Nancy.” I have only caught bits and pieces of “Repo Man” and only when it was shown on channel 11, back when it had marathons of franchise horror movies that I would tape, not always cutting off the commercials we would fast forward. Needless to say, on cable television, there was a lot of editing for language.
Nevertheless, I was aware of the soundtrack before I even heard of Circle Jerks, or learned that the band’s bassist, Zander Schloss, played the nerdy yet clueless friend to our story’s hero.
The story is set in 1980’s Los Angeles. This isn’t a glitzy and moneyed Hollywood version of L.A. Rather, this is a trash filled dirty and grim setting where we first meet punk Otto (Emilio Estevez) scowling through his shift at a generic grocery store stocking generic brand food, named ‘Food’ and ‘Beer.’ His mood could have been attributed to his shitty job in a shitty neighborhood, but I can’t imagine his coworker, Kevin (Schloss) singing a generic soda jingle over and over again helped. Otto punches Kevin, leading to further altercation with his boss and the goofy looking security guard. Nevertheless, Otto shows up at a party hosted at Kevin’s house where he runs into his friend, Duke, fresh out of juvenile hall. It seems that juvie got to Duke because it isn’t long before Otto catches him with his girlfriend.
The dirt sprinkle on the shit sundae that was Otto’s day took the form of his aging hippie parents toking up and turning his college money over to a televangelist. While he had no intention of college, that money would have helped him leave town. On a walk in an especially bad neighborhood, he happens onto a repo man named Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) who feeds him a story about how his pregnant wife needs to get her car out of a bad neighborhood and would he drive it for him for twenty-five dollars? Soon, the real owners of the car see what’s going on and it becomes apparent that Otto is not just doing a stranger a favor. After some back and forth, Otto embraces the high flying life of automobile repossession and the work methods of it’s various characters.
As Otto is settling into his new line of work, a scientist is carting around something glowy, green and making him sick enough to swerve on the highway as it disintegrates anyone foolhardy enough to open the trunk, including a friend of Otto’s that hooked up with Duke and his former girlfriend to form the kind of crime ring that declares that they will order sushi and not pay. As the mystery trunk makes it’s way to L.A., Otto is subject to random crime, conspiracy theorists, government agents and the glowing green prize is in the trunk of a 1964 Chevy Malibu and guess who gets caught in the middle?
“Repo Man” kicked off the Gen X Film series and what a kick it was. Against the backdrop of a grimier L.A. that Hollywood would gloss over, it gives way to a realism that even the glaring generic quality of the store brand food that became one of many running symbols and subplots can’t deny. It has a few stories merging into one glowing trunk full of something unknown and dangerous, not unlike the cold war and Reaganomics of the period. I was a kid through a lot of this, and seeing the parallels with our current economic climate made this movie scary and by some turns, plausible.
I’m glad that my first time seeing “Repo Man” all the way through was on a large screen and followed by a brief discussion in such a great venue. I don’t visit Best Video nearly enough, but it’s a warm and cozy space surrounded by any movie you can think of and so many more you need to see. I only hope that I can make it to see the next installment in this series.
After a crazy con season, it is back to movie reviewing. I got to see Stanley Kubrick’s classic, “The Shining” on the big screen. My local bow tie cinema is showing a series of Turner Classic Movies, and with Halloween looming, a few friends and I met up.
Why there were so few people in the theater, I will never know. Either way, I was armed with the blanket I started knitting at B-Fest and ready to see one of Kubrick’s shorter films, and one of my favorites.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about movie adaptations of books. Movie adaptations of Stephen King books in particular tend to disappoint. I liked the 1994 TV miniseries adaptation of “The Stand” a great deal. I think that the miniseries format allowed for more details from the books that would be left out of a film adaptation. I understand that not every little nuance can or should reach the silver screen, but holy shitsnacks, Pet Semetary, both a favorite novel and Ramones song, made for a horrific movie I have yet to brace myself enough to review.
While I found the novel version of “The Shining” compelling, it did get a little drawn out, both when I read it at 14 and for the second time years later. Stanley Kubrick films tended to run long as well, to a point where the succinct quality of the film became a post movie joke among us. Think about it-it really is one of the short ones.
This is interesting in light of how long the book was to me.
The story takes place at the Overlook Hotel, a high end and isolated manse of an inn built many years ago on a burial ground. A former schoolteacher and aspiring novelist, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes a caretaker position for the time that the inn would be closed, the nastiest part of the winter when guests and other staff would be sent out. Torrance agrees to the position for the peace and quiet needed to work on a novel, but is warned of the isolation and how the last caretaker went mad and violently murdered his wife and children before committing suicide.
Torrance, with a smile I would see later in his Joker performance in Tim Burton’s “Batman,” states that his wife would get a kick out of the story as she is a “horror addict.”
One doesn’t get that impression as the demure Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duval) moves in with their son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who experiences psychic episodes and speaks to imaginary friend, Tony. If anything, Wendy is defending Jack’s drunken episodes, abusiveness and up until the climax walking on eggshells with Jack, all the while taking care of Danny and his episodes alongside her own isolation and visions once the viewer realizes what’s really going on with the hotel….
One could contend that the film shows the eventual breakdown of Jack’s mental state down to the iconic scene where he breaks down a door with the ax yelling, “Heeeere’s Johnny” stemmed from being alone in a giant hotel that screamed the decades called and they want their brightly patterned carpets and gold ballrooms back. The viewer could also contend that while Jack claimed he wasn’t drinking since an incident where he became irritated with his son and dislocated his shoulder, he probably snuck a drink here and there when the family wasn’t looking, only to break when faced with a hotel where the manager took away the booze for insurance reasons. The point of the story was that the hotel itself, built on a burial ground, possessing inhabitants in the worst way, but some critics felt that the viewer didn’t really see that, and it was just a case of abusive Jack becoming insane from isolation, writer’s block and delirium tremens. I wonder about that. There were shots where I could have sworn the expansive, and brightly gaudy hotel seemed to move. I thought the carpet patterns were going to jump out at me along with the kool aid blood that gushed from the elevators.
All in all, this is a fantastic film with chilling performances from the cast and a nasty reminder of how we shouldn’t be too isolated for too long, even in a storm. I remember when a nasty snowstorm hit a few years back. The city was shut down for days. The university where I work called me to tell me that it was closed, a rare occurrence. As the snow piled in front of my front door higher and higher and I ran out of coffee, I got a little stir crazy, happy when the roads cleared up just enough for me to take a walk downtown. If I were caught in a “Shining” storm, I’d have knitted who only knows what in my cabin fever.
As mentioned before, I took some knitting with me. I didn’t do a lot of work with the B-Fest blanket since B-Fest, but to recap:
By the time “The Shining” was over……
I wonder what the pastel monstrosity will be by B-Fest 2017.
This September, I completed both a personal and professional goal. I got to see Portland, Oregon for the first time, and I took Happy Kitty Studio to the West Coast, my first convention that required air travel.
For the most part, I traveled by car. One year at Otakon, I traveled by bus, taking a suitcase of display materials with a duffel bag of plushes shrunk down by a space bag. This allowed me to also pack clothes. Down to two bags and some knitting for the trip, I had yet to find out how useful this was when I got sick to my stomach on 7-11 donuts the last day of the show. At the time, I was gloating over the discount I received for booking early. I was hoping that the same didn’t happen when we boarded a plane bound for the west coast and back.
Also, how was I going to get as much merch into as few bags as possible?Putting the labor in Labor Day
I had from August 28-September 8 to get everything together. While I didn’t expect to do as well as I did at CT Horror fest, it happened and I had to restock on a sizeable scale on top of my day job. That week, I drew and cut patterns most evenings. I looked forward to an ace in the hole that was a long weekend.
Saturday and Sunday, I completed 24 cats. One day was dedicated to the sewing machine construction and the second to stuffing and putting them together. While I have my system to expedite the process, it is repetitive and time consuming. There is also so much a person can binge watch. Monday was the day to construct 12 Harley Quinn cats. Out of all the villain cats, I think she’s my favorite. Like her knitted doll counterpart, while a little more challenging, the end result is a joy.Monday was the sewing day, meaning the fabric bodies and head were cut up and stitched back together in the harlequin four quarter pattern before I stitched a white mask, put together ears and tail and by 11:00 that night, I had twelve plushes to stuff and attach.
In hindsight, I should have taken Tuesday off, but, there were tasks I needed to take care of. By 2:43, I was on the phone brainstorming with a colleague as to how to run a script to add online handles in a batch because I was out in 45 minutes not to return until next Thursday. We do it, and I manage to ensure that two other batch loads went through correctly. Feeling rushed, I walked home hell bent to complete those cats.
I was seven cats in when I felt burnt out. By the ninth cat completed, I couldn’t do any more. Camped out with the Hulu criterion collection film, Fear, it hit me that it wasn’t yet 9:30. I was grateful that I took the next day off. I sleep until 10:00, eat apples and cereal with my pumpkin spice coffee (I love you, fall foods and weather despite it being a few weeks from being official) and hammered out a few travel plans with Stefanie while finishing the last three cats.It was time to head out….
I picked up Stefanie and headed to casa de Peli, which thankfully is near the airport. We have amazing takeout Indian food with her family. Her dad picks ghost peppers from his garden.
They were wonderful, but I got drooly at one point. Pro tip: never eat the seedy half in one bite!
After a few episodes of Archer, we got some needed sleep and headed to the airport. We got a little turned around, but we made the flight with time to spare.
Part of me was very tempted to head to baggage claim, and while searching for my suitcase, which contained cats on top of the carry on, yell out that I wanted those motherfucking cats of this motherfucking plane now. But, there were no luggage issues and I doubt you could do that even in Portland, Oregon.
Then again, we had fifteen minutes to get from the plane to our connecting flight when we touched down in Chicago. Thanks, elliptical machine.
We get to Portland in pretty good time. I was a little worried that I had to check my bags with the toys. I was a little worried they would get lost in baggage claim. It took forever for our bags to come out of the carousel, but everything was present and accounted for.
Thankfully, my friend, Desiree was waiting to grab us for food, coffee and merch dropoff at the convention center. Portland, and the west coast as a whole, it seems, is very aware of dietary needs and restrictions from various food allergies and lifestyle choices. People want to work with you accordingly. Living in the northeastern section of the country, there are times when I feel the odd one out for being vegetarian. This can be a little disheartening for group events, and I feel like the sole complainer. Not in Portland. You can even find lavender ice cream in the local shop, which of course, we all had to stop at!
Rose City Comic Con was a bit of a bust for me, plus I was a little disheartened to be stuck behind a table when in Portland for the first time. Well, Desiree, her husband Jason and I more than made up for it when exploring the city proper as seen below:
One thing that I noticed was a lack of yarn shops. I’ve seen galleries, bakeries, eateries of all types, and Powell’s books, the largest independent bookstore I have ever had the good fortune to enter. There was punk rock pizza, but no yarn stores. Either I have to explore this further, something I need to do anyway as I want to take a proper non convention vacation, or I need to explore this and set up shop……
It’s not the craziest idea I ever had.
I make cats. I knit character dolls. I actually do get time to review horror movies….or watch them….or put Supernatural on when I’m working.
Either way, it was high time that I took my wares to the horror convention circuit. How hard could it be after years of anime and comic conventions?
As it turned out, not very hard, but I wasn’t looking forward to CT Horror Fest on the day. A good part of this was due to Boston Comic Con and the ensuing craziness. I had set a few cats aside, cats that resembled Jason Vorhees, but I sold out of a lot of cats, and could stand to have dolls that went with the theme of the show. I made eleven cats and knitted a Freddy Krueger, who is popular at comic shows. He would be joined by fellow horror dolls, Jason, Pinhead, and Frankenstein’s monster, or hipster really. He had a craft beer vibe to him.
Also, my first horror convention was Scare-A-Con New England this past June. I met some fantastic people, and got a great reminder of why I love what I do in the form of another artist coming to my table to tell me that the Jason Kitty she received as a gift made a rough evening a lot better. However, sales wise the show was a bust and poorly run by overcharging for attendee tickets at a venue that was too big to fill. There were exhibitors that left early or didn’t show. I ended up getting moved to an empty booth Sunday. Other than helping to make the evening of a sister artist, I preferred to spend the weekend with Merrilee, the kitties and Murder in the First on Hulu.
So, when I woke up for CT Horror Fest, I wasn’t expecting much. Come to think of it, I signed up for it thinking that I was going to linger on the wait list for Boston Comic Con. Little did I know indeed…
The show was located in Danbury, CT which is roughly 40 minutes from me. This route did not involve much time on a highway, but a long stretch of Rt.34 that took me through Naugatuck Valley. Other than a bridge and a few dead man’s curve turns, it was a pleasant drive in the warmer seasons. I wouldn’t touch it in the snow if I could help it.
I ran a little late. One thing that impressed me was that staff had signs and venue staff to direct misplaced people like myself. I was directed to my table where I set up while chatting with a convention friend.
I ended up selling more than I thought I would. I was especially surprised to sell dolls. I was a little discouraged by the lack of attention they got at previous shows. Better still, more friends showed up. Even though I got a little overloaded by 6:00, I was happy with the way it turned out.
My friend, Jaala, seemed a bit giddy when she came by to chat a little early into the show. It turned out that my booth was behind celebrity guest, James Marshall of Twin Peaks fame. I am not one to get autographs or gush, nor was I very talkative to begin with. While it didn’t happen, I was a little fearful that I would drop something only to have it roll behind into his booth, mortifying me.
There was my brush with fame at conventions, that and Final Fantasy voice actress Rachel Robinson purchasing a knitted kitty hat from me at Connecticon five years previous. Good grief, was I happy that I was not dropping stuff as I often do….
That said, it was coffee time. By that, I meant Deadly Grounds brand coffee. Talk about a national treasure! Tasty, flavorful and chock full of precious caffeine, they also offer a three bag for thirty dollar deal. I wasn’t sure how a chocolate and pumpkin flavor combination would work, but I was pretty impressed by the sample.
All in all I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe I can hack it in horror convention land…provided I don’t wind up in a booth behind Evan Peters at an American Horror Story-centric convention. Forget dropping stuff, I’d likely faint, but that’s another tale of unprofessional con carnying…
I had meant for this blog to be exclusive to the review of horror movies. However, exhibiting at comic book and anime conventions tend to take up my spare time. Also, including my spokes bunnies, Dexter and Ichabod in my web comic, Project Poppet further links my creative endeavors.
Besides, the following documents a roller coaster weekend. Let’s get to it.
Convention Prep: Pre-Party like a [plush making] Rock Star
As much as I joke about being a plush mogul, I put a lot of time and energy into my cats and dolls. I have a system, and my patterns. All the same, it gets time consuming, especially if I deviate from my patterns in any way. Boston Comic Con is a high sale show for me, and sometimes, I use that to experiment with new ideas and items.
For example, last year’s BCC was the debut of my whale cat hybrid. This was based on Merrilee’s, my friend and webmaster’s cat. Toby is Happy Kitty Studio’s head of Human Resources and a big and beautiful orange tom that likes to crash out in the apartment.
This year, I created BatCat.
Cute little guy, no? He’s a little bigger than my kitten sized plushes, and making the cape got to be a little tricky and a bit more time consuming.
Also debuting were character sharks. I had leftover fleece from other projects sitting in my fabric drawer after I had switched to a more plush fabric. I modified a pattern with a pocket mouth and knitted a small doll of a rival hero. Photographed below is Sharkpool eating a mini Cable. As I later told BCC attendees, I couldn’t bring myself to knit Ajax.
On top of my day job, which can get pretty busy on a normal day, let alone when special projects take me to other libraries, I found myself subject to solitary working evenings and weekends. Boston Comic Con 2016 was on August 12-14. I started marathon plush making the second week of July. I gave myself enough of a break after MASSive Comic con at the end of June to visit family in North Carolina, return to Connecticut, and get my apartment convention BnB ready for friends to come by for Connecticon, where I assisted for the weekend.
After Connecticon, I found myself going to work as per usual, walking home, eating a little before 4:00 while watching the Daily Show on Hulu, and afterward getting to work drawing and cutting patterns, sewing parts in batches based on the type of cat, putting it all together, and stuffing, the process broken up when I need to pick up fabric and other supplies. Again, it got pretty isolated. I saw friends sporadically and if you looked at my time with Netflix, it bordered on unhealthy. I work with background noise. Go insane? Don’t mind if I do. Top it off, there is little time for the gym. Hitting the treadmill and elliptical machine while watching Law and Order not only keeps me in shape, but keeps me on a even keel.
It hits me more and more that only some understand what I do, what I put into it and why. I could go on about dating, time constraints with the expectation some have of pulling geek cred out of my ass while looking cosplay model perfect (a little hard to do when gym time is cut short), but that’s another blog or online post.
As mentioned before, this is a high sale show, and my expenses piled up. I had to sew up a large stock of cats, 15 or more for some types to break even and profit sales wise. In a month’s time, I made close to fifty cats, knitted a few dolls, two sharks as well as two larger catpool pillows.
The expenses piled up, especially with the hotel, but thankfully, a few artist friends, Aradia, Stefanie, and her friend, Peli needed hotel space as well. We messaged back and forth to make arrangements. I contacted the hotel to let them know that my plans had changed and needed to add more people to my booking. While I was told that they would try to place us in a room with more beds, we kept our air mattresses handy.
The Long Hard Road out of Hell-or the Mass Pike.
Turned out, the hotel charges for parking. To save money among other reasons (including the amazing company), we figured that we would try to cram as much as we could into one car. Due to storage capacity in the trunk, Stefanie’s car was tasked. She and I compared it to my Honda Civic a few days prior to the show. While the engine on a Civic could possibly survive the apocalypse, it had crap for trunk depth. One thing I was worried about was my grid wall display. No way could my four pieces fit into a trunk, and it was questionable that it would fit in the backseat along with a suitcase of shelves and other display items, and not one, but two bags of a merchandise (a big duffel bag and a garment bag). I had my grid cube set on standby if it got to be cumbersome. I knew that I would be using it for Rose City Comic Con in Portland, OR the following month. To give an example of what was coming with me…..
All the same, my stuff and my person somehow fit into the backseat. I had to compress the garment bag of pillows down to ensure Stefanie’s field of vision, but it worked. Plus, I planned to come home with significantly less.
Peli came up to Connecticut Thursday. I went to the day job, got home a little before 5:00, time enough for them to come over and stuff the backseat with my gear . Their gear and prints were in the trunk. Aradia, who was based out of Massachusetts, went on to Boston earlier to set up.
We managed to make decent time getting to the Mass Pike. There was some lightning, but no major storms, and there was plenty of playlist goodness from Stefanie. However, the Mass Pike can get a little backed up especially getting to Boston. We opted to go to the convention center to set up first. After a few stops for snacks, and coffee, we made it to the loading dock and were directed by con staff to a parking spot. We had a little more than a half hour on the clock. Basically, we could pick up our badges, find our tables and the swag bag from Deviant Art given to artists which included a sketchbook, set up the bare bones of display and drop our things before staff announced that we had to leave at 8:00. Rushed, we had to find the hotel, where Aradia had already settled. I needed to leave a credit card for incidentals, but there were two beds. With everyone checked in, it was high time to go to the hotel bar for a cocktail and the Olympics before we started a crazy weekend.
Boston Comic Con: Friday
First thing was to navigate ourselves from the hotel to the convention center. Usually, I book hotels outside of the con to avoid both extra expense and loud attendees. This time around, I found what turned out to be a pretty awesome hotel. Without the clutter of gear and merch, we were able to stop at a nearby Dunkin Donuts for goodies and much needed caffeine for the day ahead.
We get there early and part ways to set up.
Friday is a shopping day, but often since it is the first day, it’s more of a window shopping type of day. Sometimes, I’ll make back the cost of my table space that day, and sometimes, I will fall short of that amount. However, I saw friends both as artists and attendees. My friend, Scott came by smiling, joked that he was with marvel and asked about my copyright credentials before checking out both the Deadpool and Loki sharks. He told me that I was coming up with really good ideas and that meant a lot coming both from him and his girlfriend, Merrilee (aforementioned webmaster and cat owned by whale cat inspiration Toby). They are two highly talented people, and know good stuff when they see it. Another friend, also a Scott, came by and after chatting told me that due to the Harley Quinn tank dress I wore I had a Harley Quinn lineup print waiting for me. When I got some time off, I picked it up afraid I would crush it under my stuff. Other friends, Pixie and her husband Shadow said hello and we talked about her cosplay and caught up-some of which involved cat pictures. It was a kitten sale day overall. At the end of the day, we were a little tired and it was time for food.
The Drink and Draw was just across the way……..
While a little convoluted in location, we make it in due time and despite crowd, we manage to get a table, meet new people, and get a little drawing done. Peli drew a wonderful cat boy and I did a few sketches in the Deviant Art sketchbook as we grabbed a little food and grog-hotel bar fare to be sure, but okay.
Boston Comic Con: Saturday
Saturday is the sales day. Due to high volume, I figured why not stand out? Now, some cosplays can get pretty elaborate, and all are a work of art in of themselves. I was keeping count of movie Harley Quinns and Jokers as opposed to the more classic version. With the release of the Suicide Squad movie, there were a ton of the movie version dotted with other members of the Justice League, Deadpool as well as Marvel and Disney characters.
I opt for Final Fantasy VII. I should pay as much attention to curling my hair on a normal day, but I get to wear slippers.
Profit was an understatement. I sold out of the (classic) Harley Quinn kittens (though how I could cat-i-fy the movie version is beyond me) and came very close to selling out of the twenty two Catpools I had. Not getting so much as a break due to attendee volume, I was happy about that, as well as the Loki shark eating a knitted Thor being my first sale of the day. Other than that, the knitted dolls didn’t get as much attention. On the other hand, I did get a commission from my friend Margaret in the form of a fox!
The duffel bag ended up in the suitcase by the end of the day. I was kind of amazed and was hoping that the giant pillows would sell and give more room by show’s end.
Afterward, I learned of the magic that was Chuck Tingle and his entertainingly bad titles thanks to Aradia, our friend, McKenzie, and the terrible vampire/viking/angel romance novel her job pawned off on her. She felt the need to share the love and Aradia shared in turn.
I’m in the wrong line of work.
Boston Comic Con: Sunday
Down to my last few kittens, a shark and the giant pillows that filled out my display, I had a slower Sunday. I chatted with my neighbors and enjoyed wearing jeans instead of dresses and my Slytherin shirt. The show was winding down but the crazy part happened after we packed up…
Holy Aftermath, Batman……
Packing up, helping others and saying goodbye was uneventful enough. We waited for Stefanie to pull into the loading dock. It took time for everyone, and we pack and pile into the car, stopping for gas in Waltham. I was looking forward to a coffee.
Only, I learn then that my bag with cash, wallet and essentials was left at my table. I call friends nearby, friends on staff and convention security to see about retrieval. No one had seen it. I was freaking the hell out. I call my landlord to report a lockout and explain the situation. He left me spares to borrow until I can make copies or if the keys return. I knew that it was all I could do for the time being, but I was pretty upset. I’m grateful to Stefanie and Peli for helping me cart my crap up the stairs. When they leave, I cancel my cards, and stop worrying about what else could happen, and what was I going to do long enough to get some sleep.
Monday, I post about it online. Margaret shares the post asking other convention friends to let us know if they saw the bag. My friend Dave, who was on staff emailed other staff to see if anything was turned into them. Overall, there was an outpouring of support that really humbled me.
I’m losing my mind waiting for convention security to call. I have to admit, I assumed the worst knowing that there was cash in the bag. I check my Happy Kitty Studio email to see about any information for my next show later in the afternoon and I get a message from my neighbors informing me that someone gave them my bag thinking it was theirs and about to be forgotten. They take a look, find the sweater I wore all weekend (and part of the week at work….it needed washing, shall we say) as well as knitting supplies and knew it was mine. One went to college in West Haven, and I was on the way to her dorm. They stated that everything was there when I tore open the bag and thanked them profusely, but the first words out of my mouth were something to the effect of how the sweater stank to high hell, but it was home.
I really hope it wasn’t too ripe on the ride back….
I could not put my cash in the bank fast enough.Those two are getting some free Catpools!
Again, this humbled me more than I can write. I know that stress made me careless, and I am going to be more mindful in the future…and the con season is not over yet.
And now, it is time for the main event, I thought to myself, my mind still on wrestling even as my belly filled with Ethiopian food.
Scott piled the lot of us into his caravan and we found our way to Northwestern University and a parking space. We grabbed the essentials, be it pillows, change of clothes, coolers of snacks and drinks, and in my case, knitting.
To give a little context, since B-Fest 2007, there was something I at least brought to the fest to knit. Believe it or not, I can knit and watch a movie at the same time. Come to think of it, at either the 2007 or 2008 B-Fest, I was making a sweater.
This time around, I took pastel scrap yarn for a purely garter stitch blanket. I needed the never ending project, a use for yarn that once belong to a friend of a friend’s coworker…well, yarn just ends up in my apartment and I can’t spin yarn into gold, but I can do blankets. I was also greeted by Natasha, who had both a red velvet cake loaf as well as a green notebook. While this blog is over seven months old, I swear, I took notes during the movies. I didn’t add composite drawings as I did my undergraduate Art History course notes (mind you, this was well before the days of iPads-think closer to zip disks), but I jotted enough down to jog my memory of basics and quips.
Let me note that the following are the movies that I stayed awake for. Some were just too cheesy from the title and synopsis to be anything other than an excuse to nap. Let this be a lesson, never judge by title or synopsis. Entertainingly bad can be just bad. I say this as an owner of “The Thirst” on DVD. On to the movies!
“Adventures of Hercules” 6:00-7:35pm
I have few words beyond cue the Hulk jokes. Lou Ferrigno plays the title role and I’ll give it this-he does look like a Hercules. I had a feeling that the Twelve Labors of myth were going to be fudged if not omitted….and I was right.
In this version, Herc starts adventuring and battling. Notably, he did so with amazons, and an Amazon Queen. In the myth, he ends up marrying her, but in the movie he kills her along with Medusa at one point. I am pretty certain the warrior, Perseus did that, but what do I know? I also don’t remember so many robots, especially in a universe where science was deemed chaotic. However, the highlight was the cheese-tacular laser light effects. It was needed as the acting was awful.
“Caltiki: The Immortal Monster” 7:35-9:00pm
Caltiki is a blobish terry cloth monster. This particular film opus is “loosely based”on a Mexican legend. I’m wondering how loose this is, probably the caliber of a cheap towel. A group of archaeologists stumble on the monster while exploring a cave. One man is killed, and his colleague driven insane and disfigured. I’m curious if the creator of Two-Face combed this movie for inspiration. A sample of the monster is taken from the cave and that sample later regenerates into another blob monster. Hilarity ensues.
I love older sci fi movies, and I like the creativity employed in lieu of the CGI effects that came later, but all the same I don’t really want to see this movie rebooted for the modern era.
“Americathon 1998” 9:00-10:30pm
This is a contender for my fest favorite. John Ritter stars as the philandering president of the United States, more or less reprising his character on “Three’s Company” only a lot less of a lovable doofus due to power, which played a part in America going completely broke to a point where people are living in cars that no longer run. The adviser plots against him with foreign powers and there is an evil corporation run by India to contend with. How do you save the country? With a telethon hosted by a washed up actor with performances from outrageously bad rockers to plucky kids that biked to get there all the while keeping reporters, mistresses and the American public happy as the money collects. Ritter, as I mentioned before, was reprising “Three’s Company” to a slightly darker level, but all in all, it was good political satire, even if it’s a possible future given our present election.
“Calling Dr. Death” 10:30-11:45pm
Good grief, I needed that energy drink….
Time for some film noir starring Lon Cheney and arguably one of the most beautiful film stars of the 1930s and beyond, Patricia Morison. I was looking forward to this film and had a feeling that I was going to have to make a tough choice between this and Americathon 1998 as my fest favorite. Little did I know…..
Lon Cheney stars as a doctor who has a very pretty wife who cheats on him and a much better looking assistant, Stella, played by Morison. Now, if it were me, I’d serve the wife with divorce papers and run off with Stella. However, there wouldn’t be much of a movie if logic were present.
Logic was not at all present. When the wife’s cheating ways land her in the morgue, the worst drug fueled investigation follows.
When 11:45 rolled around, I figured that it was time to channel my disappointment into a nap. I’d seen “The Wizard of Speed and Time” as well as “Plan 9 from Outer Space” more than a few times, and I had tossed my share of paper plates. I also skipped “The Human Tornado” and the “Garbage Pail Kids Movie.” I owned Cabbage Patch Kids as a child, repudiated the Garbage Pail Kids proudly, state as such at the risk of my goth card and walk in on the tail end in time for “Blood Mania” thankful that I did not walk in on the tail end of an awful scene in “Street Trash” as I did in 2007. That still gives me the creeps every now and then.
“Blood Mania” 5:05-6:40am
I walked in on another bad noir, and this time, I didn’t have the benefit of looking at Patricia Morison. Thank you again Natasha for the red velvet cake loaf. It was a help as I was babbling in my notebook at this point. Blood Mania is about two sisters that want their rich father’s estate and while one is sweet and innocent, the other schemes and blackmails a doctor to drug everyone using sex and drugs. The movie itself was a bad drug trip, one that shouldn’t have been filmed. The only discovery more horrifying than the many plot holes and shitty twists was the realization that I own a copy of this movie thanks to my buying a number of random European horror compilation DVDs for cheap. You get what you pay for sometimes.
“Moon Zero Two” 6:40-8:25 am.
When I think of Hammer Films, I think of melodramatic Gothic horror, decrepit castles and stories very loosely based on classic literature. At some point, Hammer decided to branch into sci-fi. Well, they certainly kept up with the risque smut featured in the horror movies, but I wasn’t 100% on board with this stowaway space odyssey. I ended up napping through part of it.
“Low Blow” 8:25-10:05am
Oh, cheesy action movies, I love you so. This movie centers around Joe Wong, a former cop that now works as a bounty hunter with a long suffering big haired secretary in the nastiest dump of an office. The only thing junkier is the car he keeps crashing in minor bumps. This loveable scrapper specializes in stopping purse snatchers and petty crooks until a rich man approaches him to discreetly rescue his daughter from a cult. A series of misadventure and fight scenes follow. I really enjoyed this, and after Calling Dr. Death, Americathon 1998 had competition for the fest favorite. It had some cheesy running gags, including the messy office, Wong’s love of circus peanuts and bad parking. The best part was a scene involving rotweiler puppies. Puppies tend to cure everything, and this movie needed it at times.
“The Fifth Musketeer” 10:30am-12:30pm
I smelled the handlebar mustache ride cracks a mile away….I might have made one at some point, but I was a little sleep deprived. Overall, it was a fun swashbuckling adventure with a little costume porn and a pretty good performance by Alan Hale. If you need fodder for your Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, the dungeon escapes and sword fighting is pretty to fun. Be mindful of too many jokes involving how you critically fumbled your attack rolls, however.
A man creates an animal sanctuary in his jungle house….his large jungle house. He needs a sizable house as many cats live there. Lions, tigers and panthers roll, frolick and act like giant adorable kitties.
I spent a good chunk of this movie squeeing over the kitties on the big screen. Now, the man’s family came to the sanctuary not knowing all of the residents. Hilarity and kitty action ensue.
Let me note that giant cats are still cats and they love to play. They also hunt and eat. Kitty will eat you.
For those of you that are reading this and didn’t hear my squealing over kitty cuteness, I am going to declare Roar the fest favorite.
“Kansas City Bomber” 2:55-4:40pm
A roller derby movie starring Raquel Welch as a skater trying to make it on the professional roller derby circuit while trying to be a mom to a young daughter raised by her grandmother that believes she should marry a nice man instead. Welch opts to have an affair with a team owner that skeezes on her and her drunk rival skater.
I couldn’t help bur notice that there was limited padding for a roller derby team engaging in wrestling moves. I have half a mind to screen this to friends in derby to find any further errors.
“The Super Inframan” 4:40-6:00pm
Toho, you are the greatest. No kaiju this year, but we have super science, aliens and a hero that gains super powers in time to save the day from an evil alien queen in an outlandish getup that I swear that I will cosplay!
The fest wrapped up at 6:00 and laughing, tired and sore, we cleaned up our trash and other belongings and make our way to the cars and to Portobellos for dinner. We also stop at a grocery store and for the first time I try green river soda.
I should have bought more for the trip home. As it turned out, weather precluded my flight from taking off Sunday. After many delays and hours in O’Hare, I book a nearby hotel and squeeze my way into a Monday afternoon flight, which got delayed a few minutes. I get to New York to find that my airport shuttle was delayed due to bad weather, but I make it to Grand Central and a late train back to New Haven. It was almost one in the morning when I get back home.
I cannot wait until B-Fest 2017. I only hope the weather holds up and I can acquire more Green River.
The following entries chronicle B-Fest 2016, January 22nd and 23rd. I had meant to blog about this no later than February, but conventions and life happen, and so it goes. I feel bad about putting it off because my friend, Natasha, brought a notepad for me to take notes during the movies for the purpose of blogging! I still have it and plan to bring it with me in 2017. Whether I blog that fest on time remains to be seen…
That said, let’s head back to the third week of January shall we?
I have forced myself to be a morning person for a good chunk of my life, be it school, work, or comic convention preparation. One might think he or she would get used to it, but rarely have I wanted to bounce out of the safety of the blanket fort to greet a new day anytime before 9:00 or so. You’d think that since I am going to Evanston, IL and B-fest, I would be out of bed and ready to go.
Not at 6 in the morning, I’m not.
Plus, I found myself greeted by potential stowaways….
Packed and ready to go, I head to Union Station. With time to spare, I make sure no one else tries to sneak into my stuff and caffeinate myself for the train to Grand Central terminal and ensuing shuttle trip to LaGuardia airport. I hoped to hell I wouldn’t find a CBGB diner, like the one proposed for Newark Airport.
LaGuardia did not co opt punk rock to sell burgers, not yet anyway. Ever since I flew from Cancun to home with an infected corneal abrasion, my fear my flying dropped significantly. I’m one of those people who squirms at the prospect of contact lenses, false lashes, eyeliners, well you get the idea. I eschew those things still (bad goth: no Bauhaus) but I have a better ability to take long flights, plus my anxiety over heights and lifting off dwindled significantly. Bridges are still an issue, but I digress.
I arrive at O’Hare airport in record time, grab a cab and talk 80’s music with the driver and check in to my hotel room. Running into Jacob, I come to learn that other B-Festers are still en route, so I opted for a power nap and Dateline.
We all reconvene to the lobby later that evening. Jacob and Natasha are big fans of WWE and WWE Next. As it turned out, there was a wrestling themed restaurant. We purchase subway cards, marvel over the heat lamps at the stops and head on our way. We make it over, note the used bookstore en route and I revisit my childhood interest in pro wrestling. I think my last Summer Slam was viewed in the early 1990s. I had seen a few episodes of RAW in the early 2000s, but the Squared Circle and WWE Next offered something very different. Natasha had explained that this was a good venue for the up and comers, and she added, women wrestlers. Check out the women wrestlers. Sure enough, I was impressed. One wrestler, Carmella, looked a little like a friend of mine that is a longtime hula hoop performer and fire eater and holy god, could they wrestle! I might have enjoyed watching those matches more than Myopic Books, even though I managed to pick up a Raymond Chandler novel among other things.
We met for breakfast at an area diner called Seven Brothers. One thing that I love about the midwest is that they want to feed you. After a wonderful omelette, I spied cheesecake in the display window and my mind immediately cued the chorus of REO Speedwagon’s “I can’t fight this feeling anymore.” We had to get to the conservatory and zoo before I stuffed myself to a point where I had to be rolled out into the parking lot……
A walk around the Zoo proved to be a lot of fun as well as a means to burn off breakfast.
For example…..lions. Little did I know that this would be a prelude to a squeeing shit fit later in the weekend, but as you can see, kitty isn’t taking any of your shenanigans!
Our next stop was the Mold-o-Rama stand where one can get a small vinyl toy pressed on site. Afterward, we make our way to Hollywood Mirror, a fantastic memorabilia shop where I acquire a squeeze toy tiki statue.
And, of course, you can’t help but love being greeted by this guy:
From there, we all made our way to one of my favorite spots in the Chicago area, the Hala Kahiki bar. At the risk of my subculture card, I will state for the record that I love anything tiki themed. Not so pleasing are the number of rum drinks. I like rum, but it gives me a headache. Luckily, I discovered the happiest drink on earth, namely the wine and lime juice combination called the Tahitian cooler. My tiki statue collection expanded in the gift shop. I should note that the proprietor is very chatty, so it’s dangerous to go alone, as stated in the first “Legend of Zelda” game.
It was a fantastic evening all of us just nerding out and commiserating, Tim and Bryan dressed to the nines in their 70’s loungey finest, the best and worst ties and color combos. You’ve got to give the proper credit.
I didn’t make it to the after hour movie fest in the lounge. I was beat, plus I remember getting sick as a dog one year, and didn’t want to chance anything.
First stop: The Omega Diner for power breakfast. I knew that I was planning to embark on a 24 hour movie marathon with but a few naps. I tried to be as healthy as possible, and for the most part, I succeeded.
Coffee was my friend, nevertheless.
That said, we took a trip to Berwyn for Horrobles and Reel Art. Both cater to horror, comic and sci fi fans and collectors. Maybe I came home with a few Bandai Godzilla figures….a few….
After some Ethiopian for dinner, we were B-Fest bound…..
I could watch Jeremy Sisto all day. As a matter of fact, I just binge watched the ABC series, “Wicked City” where he plays a detective trying to solve a series of sunset strip murders while facing his own demons. I had little hope that “The Thirst” was going to be a quality vampire movie, but it was in the clearance bin, and I like both Sisto and Clare Kramer.
This wasn’t the first or last time that I asked myself “How bad could this possibly be?” I should probably stop at some point, yet I am continuously compelled, and I have put this off long enough.
Our direct to video story begins with red close ups of a coffin being handles by a lace cuffed hand and a blond woman walking the city streets past motels until she finds something especially skeezy. I would have run once the lights started flashing red over the opera music, but that’s atmosphere, right? Up until her client decides to show himself as a vampire to possibly protest that her prices are a bit much for the services, or that he wants to shove a lampstand down her throat while drooling profusely.
Our next shot shows our recovering addict hero, Maxx (Matt Keeslar), complaining about his user girlfriend, Lisa (Clare Kramer) possibly stripping and using drugs at his NA meeting. As it turns out, Lisa has cancer, and it isn’t improving despite aggressive treatment. She can’t tell Maxx for fear of messing up his recovery. Lucky for her, Lisa has attracted the attention of a ‘shrink’ by the name of Mariel….who likes to come in her hospital room at 3 in the morning….and bite her while drooling.
I know that some hospitals are very underfunded, but this is ridiculous.
After the scare, Lisa calls Maxx and tells him of her illness. He is angry, storms out and turns to a friend, Macey, who comes on to him. When he tries to see her at the hospital, they learn that she left with Mariel. He returns home to find that she killed herself, but there is a little more to it. After a mourning hermit period, Maxx sees Lisa dancing at a goth club despite his friends’ insisting he’s crazy. Lisa is alive after a fashion, and she turns Maxx into a vampire. They join a coven of much older vampires led by Darius (Jeremy Sisto) and turn their addiction from hard party drugs to blood.
Let the grown up after school special begin!
Good gimmick to treat vampirism as one would treat drug addiction, but bad acting, and bad follow through. It’s different that the vampire characters are drooling as opposed to sparkling, but that was far too much red lighting for one movie.
I guess they want to emphasize blood….blooood…..BLOOOOOD!
And about that blood, I think I saw better blood effects with Kool-aid. Nevertheless, Sisto’s first scene where he rips open a bouncer’s throat, drinks and later get’s his coven to follow suit with overly dressed cyber goths once he enters the VIP lounge had its humor. Jeremy Sisto, who I think is a good actor, phoned that role in a bit. I can’t blame him, though I wish the Eastern European accent was consistent. There was a less than star turn from Adam Baldwin as crazy redneck vampire Lenny. The mannerisms suggest the Lenny character from “Of Mice and Men” might have been a loose inspiration, but probably should have left John Steinbeck out of this. Those vampires might have drooled over prospective victims, but this movie left me pretty dry.
There was a time when I had cable. Real premium cable with channels such as TNT, TBS and On Demand services that allowed free movies from HBO, Showtime, Starz and Cinemax. Nowadays, I rely on streaming services, but I remember On Demand pretty fondly. I was able to find some interesting gems, and some interesting stinkers.
One such stinker was Hideaway, based on the novel by Dean Koontz. Koontz, as it turned out, hated the adaptation and wanted his name removed from the credits.
I didn’t quite know this factoid, nor did I read the original novel when I looked at the movie blurb. I selected play upon seeing Jeremy Sisto in the cast.
Don’t judge me. I know I am not the only one that watched a movie good or bad due to having a crush on one of the actors. I liked Sisto in Law and Order, and I watched a bad movie because the man is not only hot, but delivered a good performance. That said, I will pass this love on to you, dear readers, in review form.
The opening credits greet me with industrial band, KMFDM’s “Go to Hell,” a very promising indicator to the soundtrack, with the camera panning to a shirtless Sisto as Vassago. That would be pretty damned good, except Vassago is a Satan worshiper who had sacrificed his mother and younger sister to the devil in the supposed safety in their suburban home. The camera pans to him at his altar where he kills himself with that same knife to further ensure the damnation of his soul.
Meanwhile, a family consisting of father Hatch Harrison (Jeff Goldblum), mother Lindsay (Christine Lahti) and teenaged daughter Regina (Alicia Silverstone) are out on a drive. A car accident ensues and even though Lindsay and Regina escape with superficial injuries, Hatch is pronounced dead.
All is not lost. Specialist Dr. Jonas Nyebern, played by Alfred Molina, is able to revive him. The drawback to this miracle is that he begins to see through the eyes of a serial murderer of women. After one too many news clips reporting these women as ‘missing’ and a trip to a psychic, Hatch comes to learn that the murderer is Vassago, the devil worshiper who killed his mother and sister before turning the knife on himself. Wait a second….isn’t he supposed to be dead? Well, let’s overlook the rubbery nature of the knife he falls on (you don’t have to look that hard, plus imdb points this out in the goof section). Vassago’s real name is Jeremy Nyebern, and his father is the same doctor that revived Hatch. Too bad Vassago kidnaps Regina and takes her to his abandoned amusement park hideout as the ultimate sacrifice….
This movie had a good cast, and a fantastic soundtrack for you goth/industrial fans including acts such as Miranda Sex Garden and KMFDM. Godflesh even makes a cameo appearance in the nightclub scene where Regina (who snuck out with a friend) first meets Vassago in darkly gorgeous yet creepy as hell glory. The story was solid on its face, but a few things seemed a bit needless and overall, it fell flat as did some of the acting. Part of me wonders if Alfred Molina took some of his Dr. Nyebern character to his later performance as Doctor Octopus in Spider Man 2. I really wanted to like this movie, but it was tedious, and the ending showed a needless twist that fell flat with the rest of the story. It’s a solid rental if you want a psychic twist to a horror movie, or if you have a thing for goth guys and Jeremy Sisto, who is an appealing villain, but I can understand some of the Rotten Tomato reviews.
Movie blurbs describe this as a ‘cautionary’ tale featuring a fictionalized and ‘highly exaggerated’ take on marijuana smoking.
Highly exaggerated isn’t the half of it. This movie was so over the top that it became more funny than cautionary. When a very well done, but equally hammy musical featuring Neve Campbell gets the green light nearly seventy years later, how seriously can you really take this?
Back in the days when the world’s lumber barons shit paper wads over the prospect of the mass paper making potential of hemp, a scare film such as “Reefer Madness” was probably necessary to protect all interests. If the populace were unfamiliar with any potential dangers of any drug, I guess, it needed to be exposed whether the danger in question was real, imagined or fabricated.
Back then, it appeared that parents all over the country feared that their children will become addicted to drugs, alcohol, promiscuous premarital sex, and jazz music all the while attending unsupervised house parties.
On its face, this is a valid fear, especially since the parties in question center around a house party thrown by a pot dealer that is all about profiting and seduction in every form. The woman he lives with shows a little more of a conscience when it looked like truly innocent teenagers might get mixed up in something that they can’t handle. But, lo, for all her arguing she caves to that big strong man and his stash, even as a wholesome couple meet up for a little party after school only to fall prey to pot, sex, addiction and later death topped off by a poorly done but somehow plausible frame job.
“Warn your children” the movie blurbs.
This is one of several period propaganda films preaching the dangers of whatever illicit drug that scared the masses on that particular week. The melodrama of the story and actors is what sets Reefer Madness apart from the herd. It has everything, noir, protagonists so sweet that their image on the screen even to this day adds to a risk of diabetes, a jazz pianist that falls to utter insanity and a frame job. You are drawn to this film, even though it is more funny than scary. It might drive you to smoke more, but this film not only survived the cult test of time, but it was Rifftraxed with Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy to some acclaim. Also, how many of these were made into musicals?
Oh, Mill Creek…..
I first discover the magic of Mill Creek Entertainment while at a friend’s birthday party. I picked up a DVD compilation pack of low budget exploitation melodramas. Most of these films preach the dangers of drug abuse, but there are a couple pertaining to sexually transmitted infections among other societal ills. They feature an innocent young girl that meets the wrong man, takes the wrong turn and falls to ruin, addiction, unwanted pregnancy and loss of reputation.
One of these cinematic red flags is the 1935 remake of a silent film, “The Cocaine Fiends/The Pace that Kills” directed by William A. O’Connor and starring Lois January. The movie starts with a police chase. Drug dealer and no account hoodlum, Nick is on the run. He stops at a cafe, and sweet talks a young waitress named Jane (January) who is helping her mother work to send her little brother to college, into a cover story as well as a chicken dinner. In return, he promises marriage, an exciting new life in the big city, parts in ‘a show’ (what kind if show is anyone’s guess, but by golly she’s sure pretty enough to be in one) and a little pick me up he just calls ‘headache powder.’
Jane starts to get a lot of headaches since meeting Nick. When she runs off with him, she is locked in a room located at a seedy nightclub. She’s later informed by a jaded looking nightclub fixture played by character actress Fay Weldon that not only will Nick not marry her as promised, but that he fed lines to a score of others and by the way, that headache powder she needs is really dope.
To fill in the rest of the movie, there are a few subplots that seem to scatter throughout the film, making the pacing a little awkward to watch. They include Jane turning to club girl Lil and becoming more of an addict and a long suffering one at Nick’s hands as her mother spends day after day for over a year looking for a letter from her daughter. Her brother Eddie drops out of college after he is introduced to cocaine by a girlfriend. He later gets her pregnant after turning into a full on junkie or ‘hophead’ that can’t keep jobs or pay rent let alone go out on the town as they did. One young girl starts to run with a bad crowd, much to her father’s dismay, but while she does drink and stay out, she only dates casually and does not fall into the ‘hophead’ category. She still gets kidnapped and ransomed by Nick, who is always looking for that quick dollar.
Overall it is a story about Nick, his mules and the people he turns into addicts just as much as it is a story about the Janes of the world that fall from grace and eventually end up in jail for shooting Nick. There is a happy ending for one of the characters, despite her partying, which belies the anti-drug end of the propaganda. Not unlike a Shakespearean tragedy, the majority of the characters fall to death and despair on account of that demon dope which could get you and your children at any time!
Don’t do drugs, ladies and gentleman and don’t think of little things like plot holes and pacing if you want to enjoy this movie!
Welcome to the first of what will be a small series of cult movies focused on drug use. I’m going to review Roger Corman’s “The Trip.” When I rented it, I was under the impression that this film was going to be a horror movie where Peter Fonda faces some pretty interesting and literal demons when he opts to take his first hits of LSD.
This does turn out to be the case, but this film showcases the dreamier aspects of his trip, what happens when he decides to go out while high off his ass, and how he faces his own faults.
Peter Fonda plays a television commercial producer that is devoted to his job marketing perfume and other consumer products. His workaholic ways take him to the point where he misses his own divorce hearing. His soon to be ex wife pursues him on the set to sign papers. At that point, shit gets real to use use the Orwellian terminology.
Somewhere, in all this mass marketing, he finds the time to smoke grass and try his first hit of acid for a mind altering experience. He experiences a series of strange psychedelic images, some of which involve his trial, crucifixion and a walk through the forests…while he is in a major metropolitan city.
The horror element is his own demons and doubt, some of which centering around his soon to be ex wife. The camera work was fairly solid and the visuals very colorful and dreamy. The dream like and surreal elements made the movie hard to follow and I had to watch it twice to really get the point of the movie.
I didn’t see too many negative effects of the drug use. Fonda, while fearful of the police, did not get arrested, even when he broke into a stranger’s house and spoke to the little girl inside. It doesn’t end in his ruin or real redemption. There is no horror that you might expect, even though the drug use makes it possible.
Overall, it’s pretty cool even as anti-drug propaganda. It’s worth a rent if you have spare time.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, horror movies touch upon our own fears. “Cheerleader Camp” addresses the flip side of the popular image of the pretty, perky, popular and by some turns, snobbishly unattainable cheerleader in many a teen movie in the 1980’s and later. I was interested in renting this movie because I was a former cheerleader. I was on my squad in the sixth grade and the junior varsity team in the tenth grade. This did not increase my status on the popularity food chain in either case, and my rigid and nasty coach in the sixth grade was a horror movie unto herself!
Needless to say, I was looking for a little bit of a karmic body count!
It delivered to a degree. An isolated wooded town holds a small camp was deemed a perfect place to host a cheerleader retreat where teams from different high schools compete for the honor of best squad, best team mascot, and Cheerleader Queen. As there were no reports of any serial killers, or deranged men in hockey masks and a supernatural claim to the camp site, our heroes and staff felt safe to go. I’d be concerned over the dirty old men on the staff and the former cheerleader hostess not allowing mascots to remove their masks when they are trying to eat the cafeteria food provided, but no one does much about this.
Our heroes are a ragtag team of mostly snobby cheerleaders, their shy misfit mascot, their randy assistant coach and I guess a choreographer/photographer who is a worse pervert than the assistant coach. There is one nice cheerleader in the bunch, namely Allison, who is plagued by an intense anxiety dream in the opening sequences of the movie. She is alone in the locker room trying to find her uniform only to find herself late and booed when she finds herself without a team on an empty football field. She is eventually attacked by her pom poms and about to be stabbed and gored by tinsel as she wakes up in a van with the rest of her team teasing her.
I was never given pom poms during my brief cheerleading career. I think I’m realizing why…
Anyway, on top of what appear to be recurring nightmares where she either witnesses or kills other cheerleaders and the pressure to win the camp competition, Allison is confronted by her assistant coach boyfriend hitting on other girls both on and off her squad, leers from middle aged male staff and their pervert photographer. The cherry topping this drama llama deluxe sundae is the snooty nastiness from the camp coordinator, judge, master of ceremonies and overall foil to all that don’t kiss her ass. I’m thinking she was a bit of a queen bee in her own cheerleader days and desperately wants to hold onto the spot in adulthood.
Allison’s only comfort comes into the form of Corey, a shy, unassuming and less popular member of the pecking order as team mascot. No matter as there is a killer picking off cheerleaders, focusing mainly on Allison’s squad, and Allison’s dreams are getting more premonition-esque. Seems that if she dreams of a rival getting knocked off, it starts to happen….
Did I mention that this camp is located in a wooded area?
I have to say, that this movie was a little formulaic, and did not need the dream premonition sequences. It could have turned the cheerleader image on it’s ear with better choreography and acting….but that fell through. On the other hand, Leif Garrett was a good philandering creep of a boyfriend who turned to other girls when Allison refuses sex on account of dreams and anxiety. The identity of the killer was a little too obvious, but it did derive a chuckle from me at the end of the movie nevertheless. Overall, a decent rental.
I don’t remember how I came across my copy of “April Fools Day” exactly, but it was part of a two pack and two sided DVD with the original “My Bloody Valentine.” One gets what they pay for and I didn’t pay very much for this set. If it was part of the horror movie grab bag from the Tower Record closeout years back (and I think it was), I paid next to nothing.
Either way, I was expecting a little more from a horror movie that built its premise around a holiday synonymous with pranks and practical jokes. You’d expect to see any and every manner of killer traps and jokes, right? Maybe a twist on the whoopee cushion? Maybe booby traps that would make early Wes Craven gems such as “Last House on the Left” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” seem a little tame? It is, after all a 1980’s slasher movie entitled, “April Fools Day.”
There were all the bad hair, fashions, soundtrack and gratuitous sex jokes and scenes that are part of that genre, but it did not deliver. Cute and perky Muffy St. John, played by Deborah Foreman, invites her college friends to her family estate located on a small island for Spring Break.
The trouble starts with a ferry accident, and shaken but still blase, maybe drunk or stoned given the performances of some of the actors, our scooby gang enters the estate, drink some top shelf booze and find little jokes like a dribble glass here, heroin supplies there and randomly scattered articles about accidents and the possibility that sweet Muffy may be a touch insane.The group dies off one by one, but in pretty ordinary ways.
I was expecting a gory twist on April Fools Day and not only did it fall short in that department, but the ending was all too inane and goofy. I will say that Amy Steel was a decent Final Girl, but she did a much better job in “Friday the Thirteenth: Part 2.” Overall, great gimmick and premise, but terrible follow through.
Welcome to another “It Came from the Queue” review. I came across the title “Cut” and the name, Molly Ringwald. My first thought was, could this be “Ducky’s Revenge” or some strange slash-tastic sequel to “The Breakfast Club?” I read Comcast’s synopsis and it looked to be the back drop to a true slasher movie, gimmick and all.
It did not disappoint. Ringwald played a B- actress in a horror movie that was started at some point in the late 1980’s but never finished due to the untimely death of the nasty pitbull director, played by Kylie Minogue. Ringwald’s character, the pretty teenaged lead actress, and a P.A. witness an actor, recently fired slashing up the director with the garden tool weapon his killer character used and turning to attack them. Ringwald, panicked, manages to stick him in the neck and electrocute him.
One would think that the film would get a dose of bad publicity and higher box office sales due to morbid curiosity. It might have, if they were able to finish the film. Funny thing; anytime anybody tried to finish the movie, people got killed.
Twelve years later, the P.A. man went on to teach and a group of his students attempt to finish the movie as a final project. Traumatized, their instructor warns them against it, and sets the viewer up to the back story of the film as well as what happens to the hapless souls who try to finish it.
Do they listen? It is slasher movie land, so they get the rights to the film for next to nothing, hire Ringwald to play the mother of her teen character, and go back to the old set where a figure dressed as the movie killer hacks and slashes his way through the cast and crew, as well as a throwaway pervert character.
I liked it, formulaic as it was. It had a Crazy Ralph stock character who warned certain doom, coitus interruptus by sharp objects, and while the villain in of himself was generic and derivative, an interesting plot twist gave him a little extra dimension. All and all, this film stands strong on its own and the final scare can open up an interesting sequel.
When I first viewed the opening credits, one of my initial thoughts was, “this stars the guy in those commercials that steals your stuff when you fall asleep at your desk at 3:00?” My next thought was, “Nope-that’s Robert Goulet and Robert Vaughn played a bipolar public official on “Law and Order” and plugs a law firm.
All actors have to start somewhere. The camera first pans to a girls’ dormitory where a petite brunette packs a bag and looks over her shoulder, clearly about to run away. She is met by a friend, played by Nia Long, who gives the girl a switchblade for the journey ahead. After a few scares, shots of sleeping girls in various stages of undress and a shadow walking past, she finally makes a bid for freedom…and the hitchhiking, truck stops etc. that go with it.
Not to be! She is met by a mysterious man in what looks to be a Ronald Reagan mask, attacked and chased down a trap door, a rabbit hole if you would. She screams her way down the tube into a dark pit where she is dragged into a pit by our masked man, strapped into a straight jacket, even though she is fighting her solitary attacker and slowly but surely bricked into her little pit stall.
Enter a newly hired doctor by the name of Janet who suffers from strange hallucinations. She is starting her first day at her dream job working at a troubled girls’ clinic under a shrink named Gary, played by Mark E. Salomo-I mean, Robert Vaughn (he means business either way). She holds him in high regard and wants to please him right away.
Did I mention that she was blond and beautiful? If he wasn’t impressed by her credentials, he was all over her assets, as was the creepy assistant doctor, played by Donald Pleasence. If you thought that Pleasence was obsessed with Michael Myers to disturbing degrees in the Halloween movies, then you will be very creeped out by the way he follows Dr. Janet throughout the hospital grounds!
He does not turn out to be the only creepy admirer in Janet’s life, as the viewer will soon see, but the immediate problem for Janet is getting lost in the kitchen area. She bumbles in to find a group of tough, loud, and at many turns scantily dressed teenage girls looking her over as the new authority figure while grinding meat. Some girls bathe, do their hair, and primp in the kitchen as well. I can’t explain why the girls’ beauty rituals take place where food is prepared, but this is a mental hospital…
The girls’ while having a gang like mentality, are not above spats and fights among themselves. Janet walks into such a dispute, and raises the ire of the ringleader, Debbie, played by Ginger Lynn. Debbie starts a conflict with complaints of laziness, and blows it up to a full on brawl. One girl starts to garner delusions of persecution from the staff, other girls, and the beloved Dr. Gary.
A little mischief might be the norm, as this is a school for troubled girls, but going overboard, or not responding to Gary’s brand of therapy in the way he’d like has bad results for the patients. One is flayed by an electric beater as she uses it as a curling iron, and more find themselves bricked into pits, which turn out to be located in an underground basement area where some of the girls sneak boys, drugs and other party favors.
All the while, Janet asks Gary about the missing girls, harbors hallucinations of hands trying to break through a brick wall, accompanied by voices while being peeped and followed by Donald Pleasence. I, for one don’t need the job or the money that badly. However, she views Gary as a mentor, even when it looks like he is trying to undress her half the time. You really see how obsessed he gets when Debbie complains about Janet and threatens to have the rest of the girls boycott her science class focusing on ants. Gary thanks her for being honest to her face, but when Debbie sneaks out to meet a boy about some grass, trouble ensues. When Janet finally finds the tunnels and starts to see what kind of therapy Gary and staff have planned for the worst of the problem girls, rotting skulls and all, she’s in real trouble, especially after she turns down Gary’s marriage proposal.
I had fun with this movie, despite some of the plot holes. It did have a women in prison exploitation feel to it, especially with a shower initiation scene, but it had solid performances from Nia Long as the concerned friend who wasn’t going to know what was happening until the end. The standout performance was Donald Pleasence as patient experiment turned creepy staff. We all have that one coworker we’re never quite sure of, less so if that one has a crush on you! It touched on the fears of patient experimentation and being bricked into a small room within an enclave swarming with ants. I don’t think it was too faithful to Poe, but it was entertaining to watch, ants, electric mixers, presidential masks and all.