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Have a fun and safe one, kids!
This is Halloween,
…long after the day has come and gone!
Most people say that Christmas officially begins on November 1st. I say that Halloween officially ends on December 25th.
If you’re anything like me and are looking to celebrate Halloween well into December, you’re in luck, because two new horror movies are ready to keep all you blood-thirsty goons satiated until Santa brings his behind down your chimney.
“Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet” (Chaos Squared)
Synopsis: A modern-day retelling of the Bloody Mary legend. As a kid, Mary Hatchet went nuts and killed her entire family with an ax. While locked up in the local loony bin, a security guard violently rapes her. She gets pregnant, gives birth, and the hospital immediately takes the baby away from her because, you know, SHE KILLED HER FUCKING FAMILY! Later, she somehow manages to go on a kill-crazy rampage through the hospital (luckily, while being naked) and escapes, only to be shot to death by cops shortly thereafter. And now her spirit won’t rest until she gets her baby back!
Why it’s fucking awesome: Man… for so many reasons. First, because Mary Hatchet is played by a hot chick who spends the entire movie running around butt-naked and covered in blood. Look at the poster above! If you like horror movies and naked women, this is the movie for you! Second, because there’s more sex in the first half of this movie than in some pornos. Keep your ears open for a hilarious blow job scene that sounds like Sasquatch eating a bowl of New England clam chowder. And lastly, because the gory special effects are awesome! They kick it old school, with physical props rather than CG, and it looks fantastic… especially when a third of a guy’s face is hacked off and it slides down his head!
“Live Evil” (LEM Entertainment)
Synopsis: A cowboy/samurai/priest (I’m not kidding) is on a cross-country hunt, hot on the trail of a gang of vampires who are headed to Los Angeles in search of blood. Drugs, alcohol and venereal diseases have polluted much of America’s bloodstream. Because of this, the vampires have a thirst that only “pure” blood will quench. Luckily, they know a blood dealer on the West Coast who sells some Grade A, blood-bank shit! Will they get their fix? Or will the vampire hunter get them first?
Why it’s fucking awesome: Like most vampire horror movies, this movie has an impressive amount of blood and guts. But “Pure Evil” has something most other vampire horror movies don’t: A FUCKING COWBOY/SAMURAI/PRIEST! Duh! It’s a blood-and-guts, cat-and-mouse chase… WITH A GODDAMN COWBOY/SAMURAI/PRIEST!
How you can own it: On Tuesday, November 3rd, “Live Evil” will be avaiable both for DVD preorders, and on On Demand through all major cable providers. Click here to learn more.
Precious (Lee Daniels Entertainment)
1. The synopsis: A morbidly obese teenager from Harlem is pregnant with her second child. (Both of her children were fathered by her own father, the first of which was born with Down’s syndrome.) She’s poor, illiterate, and constantly on the receiving end of a terribly abusive relationship with her mother. And it only gets worse from there. To be read: This is not a date movie!
2. There’s a lot of chatter about the performances of Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz, culminating in speculation that they might even get an Oscar nod for them. While their performances were good (Carey as a social worker, Kravitz as a nurse), there is nothing about them that stands out as being anything but. The Oscar whisper exists not because the performances are amazing, but because the people who brought these characters to life aren’t actors. If the roles had been filled by actors, the point would be moot.
3. The brutality of the film is juxtaposed with elements of fantasy, similar to those in “Amelie”: colorful dream sequences, photographs coming to life, etc. Used as moments of escapism, these scenes actually made the viciousness of the film appear worse, mostly because we’re given a different reality to compare it to. It was exceptionally effective.
4. In addition to the production Oscar nominations that “Precious” will receive (and well deserves), I predict three acting nominations for Gabourey Sidibe (lead), Paula Patton and Mo’Nique (both supporting). And, unless an amazingly stellar performance hits screens in the next few weeks, Mo’Nique will win an Oscar for her role as Precious’ abusive and mentally deranged mother, and will have earned every ounce of that statue. I can’t believe I just typed that sentence.
5. One of my top-five films of the year, and different from anything else on the list. Look for more from director Lee Daniels and writer Geoffrey Fletcher (who adapted the screenplay from author Sapphire’s book, Push) in the very near future, because Hollywood is about to go completely bat-shit for the both of them.
Check out the trailer here:
…you may have seen this photo of Dwellephant and me at the back of the book:
It’s our “about the author and illustrator” image. It was taken by our good friend (and also great photographer) Kat Berger. You can visit her website here.
I recently came across the disc of images from that photo shoot, and as I was flipping through the photos I remembered how hard it was for us to pick a favorite. So rather than let these images get buried in a CD booklet for the next fifty years or so (if I’m lucky), I’ve decided to share a few of them with you.
Neither Dwellephant nor I had any specific goal going into this shoot, other than the idea that we wanted my dog, Mr. Fabulous, in the photo with us. Out of the fifty-plus images that Kat shot, only three of them were “jumping” shots; of those three, I was fully in the air in only one of them.
The image above is the Dwellephant-doctored photo we used for the book. The following photo is the original before Dwellephant got his hands on it:
And here are a few of the more interesting shots from the shoot. Click on each image to view a larger version.
Thanks again to Kat for doing the shoot! I can’t believe that was over a year ago.
New photos of Shady and Dwellephant unearthed,
Here’s the fourth installment of “Sketchbook,” a reoccurring section here on “The Blarg.” To learn more about “Sketchbook” and become involved yourself, click here.
The phrase for the fourth “Sketchbook” was: Devil’s Night.
Below are the submissions. Click on each image for a larger version of the art, and click on the artist’s name to visit their website.
Also, click below to check out previous “Sketchbook” assignments:
Thanks to everyone who participated! I’ll be sending out the next assignment shortly.
SKETCHBOOK #4: DEVIL’S NIGHT
“Girls Night Out”
“Ghouls and Boys”
“Time for dinner, Dear!”
Under Our Skin (Open Eye Pictures)
1. A note to all fellow hypochondriacs: If you’re easily convinced that you may have any disease at any given point, don’t see this movie. With that being said, the message of this documentary about Lyme disease is an important one and should be spread far and wide. But just go into it knowing that the film is, in parts, uncomfortable to watch; being a witness to people as they struggle with the ravages of Lyme disease is not an easy thing to see, especially when you spend most of those two hours thinking, “That could be me up there.” But then again, planting that message in your brain is probably the film’s goal. Mission accomplished; message delivered.
2. Producer/Director Andy Abrahams Wilson is about as committed a filmmaker as they come. Wilson spent four years documenting the lives of Lyme disease sufferers all across the country, ending up with over 400 hours of footage in the process. I have to admit that I felt the film could have been edited down a little, possibly trimming out fifteen or twenty minutes along the way; but given how much material he had to work with, Wilson did a great job of covering a wide range of people and making you care about each and every one of them.
3. Big shocker here, folks: The medical and insurance industries are the bad guys. When it comes to Lyme disease victims, they don’t really care if you’re sick because, duh, sick people are expensive. They even go so far as to say that, most times, the disease is simply just the delusions of its victim. This element of the story could be a documentary in its own right, but it was nice to be able to have a face to point at and scream, “Villain!” Most notably, Dr. Gary P. Wormser (yes, that’s his real name), Dr. Eugene D. Shapiro, the entire Lyme Disease Review Panel for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the North Carolina Medical Board, and pretty much every health insurance company known to man. Of course, you didn’t really need to know all of their names, but I wanted to type them into this review (and include them in the tags for this post) so that Google has an easier time finding their names next to the phrase: HORSE’S ASS!
4. My only real complaint of the film is about the quality of its animation. Throughout the movie, we were shown educational cartoons that illustrated how the disease works, how it moves throughout the human body, etc. The quality was pretty awful and somewhat distracting from the overall quality of the film. Of course, I’m an art school dork, so maybe it wasn’t as big of a deal to non-art nerds. Still, if you’re looking for someone to do quality animation for your film, drop me a line; I know a ton of talented people who will do the work for probably a fraction of the cost!
5. Watch, learn, and spread the knowledge:
Not treatable in two weeks,
“The New York Ripper” (Blue Underground)
New York City’s finest follow a trail of brutal murders to track down a killer who’s going after–GASP!–young and beautiful women from the Big Apple! (Note to those considering a profession in murder: Go after the old and ugly, because apparently nobody cares about them.) Shot on location in New York in the early eighties, this film from Lucio Fulci is, in parts, exceptionally vicious. Unfortunately, in other parts, it’s also exceptionally slow. It’s a fine slasher film, but I found myself getting distracted in between the murders. But, hey, isn’t that always the case! An interesting DVD extra shows the film’s shooting locations as they appeared back then, and how they appear now. Gentrification, anyone?
“The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue” (Blue Underground)
Also known as “Don’t Open The Window” (an inferior title) and “Let Sleeping Corpses Lie” (a superior title), this mid-seventies zombie flick follows a duo of travelers who just happen upon a small town of cannibalistic zombies! Fun for the whole family! Unlike most zombie films that feature some ridiculous excuse for the invasion, “Manchester Morgue” offers up a completely believable reason: radioactive farm equipment! But that’s a perfect example of what makes this movie great. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and offers up all of the required gore and violence that one expects from a quality piece of seventies horror schlock.
“Rage” (Liberation Entertainment)
More than a dozen actors make up this film’s stellar cast (including Steve Buscemi, Eddie Izzard, Judi Dench and Bob Balaban, to name a few), each performance serving as both a compelling character study and a pivotal role in a clever storyline. When an accident on the catwalk during New York’s fashion week leads to a murder investigation, suspicious eyes fall on the show’s participants. Directed by Sally Potter (who was nominated for “Orlando”), “Rage” is a successful example of what potential exists when a director breaks out of the normal restraints of film and has the freedom to experiment. To be honest, I couldn’t see a major distributor picking “Rage” up… and that’s exactly why you should see it. Oh, and to see Jude Law rocking some flamboyant drag. Awesome.
Scarier than any horror movie I’ve ever reviewed, “Secrecy” looks into the terrifying world of government… well, secrecy. What’s best for American citizens and what our government thinks is best for us is often two different things, especially when it comes to the facade that is the war on terror. “Secrecy” could have taken the easy road out and concentrated only on Bush-era atrocities (because, Christ knows, there’s enough material there to fill a 148-part PBS documentary series), but instead chose to look back deep into America’s sordid history of keeping information from its citizens… for our own good, of course. A must-have for anyone who doesn’t believe the crap being force-fed to them on a daily basis, “Secrecy”… what was that noise? Did you guys hear that? Hello? Is someone there? AH! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE! HELP! SPREAD THE WORD, PEOPLE! DON’T LET THEM FOOL–
Brazos “Phosphorescent Blues” – The brainchild of a solo artist (Martin Crane) that eventually became a four-piece ensemble, the Austin-based Brazos brings jazz and folk together in a way that’s reminiscent of some of the more melodic work from Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire days. Brazos is less polished than Bird, more chaotic and raw in their sound, but it works to their advantage in every way. If you can, hunt down the track “We Understand Each Other.” If that doesn’t make you pick up the album, nothing will.
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis “White Lunar” – A two-disc set that features the collaborative soundtrack work of Nick Cave and composer (and fellow Bad Seed) Warren Ellis (no relation to the author). Deeply dark and richly layered, collected here are tracks from “The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford,” “The Girls of Phnom Penh,” “The Proposition” and many more. How good is it? Next year you’ll be able to find it on this list. Yep, it’s that good.
The Blind Boys of Alabama “Duets” – I’ve often said that only two good things ever came out of religion: art and music. The Blind Boys of Alabama have proven the former to be true with their Grammy-winning gospel. Collected on this anthology are fourteen tracks of the group’s collaborative work. Most of the tracks have already been released on the albums of other artists; however, there are three previously unreleased tracks, including a great song titled “Jesus” which finds the fellas teaming up with Lou Reed. Most of the tracks hit (“None Of Us Are Free” with Solomon Burke; “Take My Hand” with Ben Harper; etc.), but there is a miss or two (“Nothing But The Blood” with Jars of Clay). Still, those couple of misses are because of the collaborator the Blind Boys are working with, not because of the work the guys themselves are contributing to the track. The rest of the album is such a solid collection that it almost makes me want to believe.
The Good Neighbors – Book Two: Kith by Holly Black & Ted Naifeh – I admit, this hardcover graphic novel isn’t my cup of tea, but I don’t think I’m exactly the book’s target audience (ages 12 and up). Written by Holly Black (“The Spiderwick Chronicles”), the book’s story about a girl heading out into an unknown realm to save her faerie mother is a solid read, and artist Ted Naifeh’s black-and-white illustrations add an appropriately dark element to the story. If you’re into fantasy, faeries and all things fantastical, pick it up. If you’re a balding Hungarian in his mid-thirties, maybe not so much; but least you can take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone.