Saturday, October 31, 2009

Something different

I figured this was a good a time as any to tell you a little tale of computer troubles. Don't worry, this is no off-topic rant post, I don't do those. No, you'll see a common theme with the other writings in my blog. It all started back in November last year. I was working on my contribution to the month-long novelist frenzy, the national novel writing month, the one thing I would do that would forever tell me that although writing screenplays might be my business, I would never as long as I live even think about writing a novel ever again.

During this time, some of my friends had an odd fascination with the strange and grotesque things one might find on the internet. Anyone who knew us at that time could tell you that the things that was unearthed from the damp restraint of the world wide web on nights during that time was ranging from slightly unnerving to flat out disgusting. So, when I recieved a mail from a friend with an attached link, one could say I wasn't feeling optimistic about the contents. The link itself told me nothing, it was to a video to some minor video-hosting service I'd never heard of. Let it not be known that I don't trust my friends judgement, because I did end up checking it out.

It was an odd sort of flick, amateur artsy horror of a kind, titled "Boys and Girls Come Out To Play." The first part was nothing I hadn't seen before, intercutting bizzare flashes of disturbing imagery with more surreal shots, every shot cutting away too quickly to get a good look at what was happening. It kinda reminded me of the "Le Fin Absolue du Monde"-sequences from John Carpenters Cigarette Burns. As the movie progressed, though, it became very freaky. I can't quite put words on why it freaked me out, it just pulled me in, slowly. It was then they appeared. Again, the exact descriptions eludes me, but they were grotesque sights to behold. They were human, or had been, the dead eyes that stared at me from beyond the LCD screen. There was feral strenght about them, even though they all had large chunks of meat missing from their bones, probably some cut tendons too.

The movie ended a bit abruptly after that, and I did my best to forget the cold unease the movie had given me. It was just another flick. Some ambitious director had hooked a makeup-person of some kind and decided to have a freakout. Luckily, I had a lot of other things to do at the time, what with the novel-writing and whatnot, so I managed to stop thinking about it. That is, untill my computer started acting up. Naturally, this being in the middle of a major writing job, computer problems did not go well with me, but these problems were plain unnerving. I had heard of similar computer problems, and with the popularity of screamers and other malicious trojans, written semingly solely for the lulz, I figured some asshole on a forum somewhere had a good laugh on my behalf. It started so subtly, quick flashes of images I could just manage to see was there. After a while, the flashes grew longer, and I recognized the creatures from the film.

Now, I'm not particularly computer-savvy, so I decided that if my antivirus-programs couldn't do the job, I'd do a clean install of the OS and let god sort 'em all out. The problem persisted, it shouldn't have, there's no way it could. If anything, the flashes became longer, and I couldn't Ctrl-alt-del my way out of them, neither was alt-f4 any help. I started to notice one prominent character amongst them, a blond girl with a rusty butcher knife, eyeing me. I'm not talking "looking at the camera" either, she didn't look at a camera, she looked straight at me. At this point, I was rightfully freaked out and decided that no ammount of computerwork was worth this. I started keeping the computer off, but it didn't seem to stick, even when it was closed and unplugged, I could hear it hum, and when I opened the lid, I saw them, closer to the screen this time.

Removing the battery and keeping it stored in a separate compartment from the computer helped, for a while. One night, I woke from the sound of my computer humming to life. I didn't want to look, but I knew from the soft, odd light that spread across the room that they were there. I tried to keep my cool after that, after all, I had heard of hardware-dependant viruses or malware before. So, I stuffed the computer away and got a new one. Not the best of fiscal desicions, but I had the money and valued my peace of mind higher than the money my new notebook PC cost me. For a while, this solved the problem. After all, there was no concievable reason for it to continue, and this pc running on Linux, I felt my defences were pretty impenetrable.

A short while later, I was working with a script project of mine in the dark. I find that inspiration takes more often in the night, and I seldom have anything else to do at that time of the day, so I do most of my writing at night. That's when it hit. I don't know if you've ever had the feeling something is behind you, crouching in your blind zone, where you can't look without twisting your upper body, and by the time you do that, it'll be too late. Let me tell you, it's not a comfortable feeling, but it was plesant in comparison to what happened.

The picture came back. I wish I could say it was a figment of my sleep-deprived imagination, but it was as real as any link of this story of the grotesque. They closed in on the screen, the knife-wielding blonde soon occupying the majority of my screen, dead black eyes penetrating screen as if it were a thin veil, and then, the screen went black. It just so happens that when the light is right and the screen is black, it works as a mirror, and you can see what's behind you. Even given its mirror-like qualities, my body took up most of the reflection, but behind me, I could see it, a sleek, pale and bloody hand grabbing my throath from behind and, even worse, a rusty knife comming into view from the other side.

Now, at this juncture, I believe it's time to confess. I've been lying to you, dear readers, there never was a movie called "Boys and Girls come out and play," or at least there isn't one as far as I know. No, I read a story, not quite unlike the one you are reading now. Sure, the wording was different, probably better too, but I'm fairly certain the effect will be the same.

Now, I'm no cruel person, so I won't be too mean about this. Things has to be done, of course, but I can promise I'll get it done a bit quicker. I can't promise the knife will be much less rusty or any sharper, but I'll try to concentrate on the arteries. Don't misunderstand, I don't want you to post this to five or ten or hundred unsuspecting victims or anything like that. First off, I hate it when people do that, and secondly, it won't help. Nothing will. Happy Halloween

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I've got no witty or insightful introduction today, so I'll just drop right to the review. Zombieland is, in one simple and catchy word, awesome. Sure, it contains runny zombies, but they feel proper zombie-esque, probably the "dead"-look that a good makeup artist can help you with. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a primarly slow zombies guy, believe me, I don't have to change my URL yet. All I'm saying is this kinda works, keeps the pace good n' strong.

In this post-apocalyptic tale of flesh eaters, we follow the nerdy zombie survivor "Columbus" who teams up with utterly badass zombicalypse cowboy "Tallahassee," and eventually ruthless swindler duo "Witchita" and "Little Rock." So yeah, they don't operate with their real names, if you couldn't tell. The characters are pretty interesting, which they have to be, considering they're the only four left, except for one, but I won't spoil it. The genre savvy Columbus does the narrating, and this does add a good bit of humor, especially given his nerdy deadpan. Said nerdy deadpan comes to shine in lines like:
Columbus: [Tallahassee] is in the asskicking business
[Cut to Tallahasse taking on zombies, chainsaws akimbo]
Tallahasse: And Business is good
I'm guessing that line is taken from somewhere else, but honestly, who can disagree to that when one is wielding dual chainsaws against the undead, the asskicking business is, indeed, good. Sure, Tallahassee has his other moments in the movie, most notably a Deliverance reference, complete with banjo, but in my mind, the moment described above was easily one of the most effective ways to establish a character as a (probably insane) badass, I have ever seen.

Of course, the other characters get their moments too, Columbus, for example, faces down a zombie clown, a creature combining his fear of getting eaten and his fear of clowns. It's not quite the "holy shit, did you SEE that?"-level of awesome, but I'd still say he had his time to shine.

Zombieland is, all in all, not a movie that takes itself too seriously, and I think it does it good. Sure, I have nothing against the more heavy political statement-zombie films, although I have realized Romero, the champion of allegorical zombie-thingies, might be loosing his touch, what with Diary Of The Dead being about as subtle as an anvil, its major saving graces being a dynamite-throwing amish and a pretty cool professor. This action-filled zombie romp is a hoot to watch, it's not very scary, but it'll entertain you, and it can be considered a feelgood-movie for people who don't watch feelgood movies because those aren't manly enough.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

S. Darko + hidden bonus track

S. Darko
First and foremost, a little disclaimer. Like The Haunting in Connecticut, I tried watching this with an open mind. True, I loved the original, and I realize that it's a tough order to even match the movie in terms of originality, mindscrewage and sheer memorability. Still, I was prepared to give this movie a chance. After all, sequels to highly succesful and beloved classics made ten years later with only one cast member from the original occasionally works all right, right? Still, I'd be lying if I didn't say I had an odd feeling of approaching doom and disappointment when I put this DVD in the DVD player

I try not to let it go to my head to any mentionable degree, but some times, I am so right it is almost not funny. The biggest spoiler I can give to this movie is how completely balls-to-the-wall batshit insanely bad this is, and boy howdy, I will spoil the hell out of this in that regard. Sure, I might just also spoil the other plot points, the ones who are not blatantly ripped from the still miraculously fresh corpse of Donnie Darko, that is. Trust me, as I approach the climax, you will understand why I am willing to go to such degrees to convince you this movie is nothing to use either your time or your money on.

We follow Samantha Darko and her totally not one-note character BFF, Corey. Their car breaks down near a quiet little town, and they decide to stay there untill their car gets fixed. No, that was not the beginning to a slasher movie nor the vaugely connected sequel to The Wicker Man titeled The Wicker Man 2: Wicker Harder, that's how it begins. Anyway, this town has a problem or two, namely dissapearing children and a shellshocked Desert Storm vet. lovingly nicknamed Iraq Jack. So, said veteran gets saved from a comet from a time-traveling dead Sam... gee, that sure leaves one hell of a mystery as to what will happen with our intrepid heroine, aaand I think I'll stop recapping there. Why? Because from here on out, except a few cases of raging idiocity which, trust me, I will not let slip, this movie is Donnie Darko done with a less compelling cast, less skilled crew and an originality liposuction done by a black hole.

This movies only claim to fame is that it has TWO controlled dead and goes back in time twice. Why? Because quantity trumps quality, did you learn nothing from Saw II, you fool? As a result, our protagonist dies twice... Look, it was sad and interesting in Donnie Darko because you got some sympathy for the fellow, you actually understood the choice he took, despite all the things he had to give up. Granted, in the first of her deaths, they try to emulate a similar feeling, but in the second one... contrived and utterly uninteresting doesn't begin to cover it. Partially because the movie allready had gone completely insane, presumably by trying too hard to live up to the first film. I'd really rant more about the senselessly idiotic way she died, but really, considering what happens afterwards, it's hard to muster any kind of leftover rage.

You remember how it always was a little vauge how the world would end exactly in Donnie? Something to do with a stable time loop, or something. Have no fear though, because in S. Darko, it seems the universe is fed up with the movies noncoherent ramblings and decides to destroy the earth with.... tesseracts made out of fire? Which arrives from a suspiciously Dr. Who-esque portal? Baffeling enough, this seems to be happening only because a nerd got his hands on a space rock that, I'm guessing here, since the movie again explains fuck all, gives him increased confidence in trade for raging out hulk-lite style when he gets mad. Sorta like Venom from Spider Man, except there's no explanation, no reason for it to be there and it doesn't produce a badass multifanged murdermonster, as much as a person with slightly above average shoving power. I wish I could say this probably makes sense on some level, like I do with everything else I do not understand... but no, I'm not giving this movie the benefit of the doubt.

That about covers it as far as plot-related stupidity goes, except for a few minor, but still annoying things. Apparantly, there's a rule on two stuck-together pages in The Philosophy of Time Travel that each bout of time travel has to include the target burning down a building somehow associated with a pedophile. Luckily, to make this easier, S. Darko has a pretty much flat out clone of the motivational speaker guy from D.D, only this time he's a priest and leader of the youth group... make of that what you will, but it is implied he was the one who kidnapped and did Cthulhu knows what with little kids. He even has his own fanatical, prudish female sidekick... how cute, the movie seems to think that if they try hard enough, we'll forget that we are in fact NOT watching Donnie Darko.

Now, there's little to no chance of us doing that, mostly because, as I said, the crew is clearly not as tallented as the people responsible for Donnie Darko. In the original, the camerawork was fascinating to the point of being hypnotic, the lighting gave it a ional feel while still keeping things just a little closer to David Lynch-land than most flicks. S. Darko has none of that kind, the lighting and camerawork, saddly is closer to that of "Zombie Strippers," and although the acting is better, it's not all that much.

What furstrated me the most about this movie, though, was that it did not really expand upon the source material as much as threw it in a copy machine and hope no-one noticed. Sure, there's one scene that might imply that every time a teen dies from some absurd cause, he or she in reality saved the world. On the other hand, that could be just my imagination running wild, in fact, I hope it is, because that would go as far as make the first movie less, which, I must add, is worse than adding nothing.

So, in short, S. Darko gives you nothing you couldn't get from reading TimeCube untill you think you get it all while stopping every 15 minutes to catch up on some soaps and pluck out a hair somewhere on your body.

Bonus Track: Stan Helsing

Now, since this rant hasn't quite worn me out, I figure I can add another small raving, 'cause I'm worth it, as the comercials say.
You see, I love browsing in the DVD stores. Sure, the prices are better online, and the selection too. It's mostly the fact that whenever I go to a DVD store, it's like a little treasure hunt. Maybe I'll see a cover that seems interesting, and thus discover my new favorite movie. Sure, at the point of writing, I've found none of my absoulte favorite movies in a DVD store, but I've found some good ones. Of course, I've found some bad ones too, but nothing so bad I couldn't just put it down and go on with my life, forgetting the horrible film was ever made.

Not untill today, that is. I foolishly decided checking out the BluRay section, since I'm getting a BluRay-compatible computer soonish. And there I find it... the movie Stan Helsing... it's a pun on van Helsing... geddit? Now, if this was an actual parody of Van Helsing, as in the god-awful brainless actionfest where vampires, apparantly, lay eggs. It wouldn't even be so hard to parody. All you needed to add was a more or less sane guy that pointed out all the stupid, stupid things this movie wants us to go along with, add the other characters not really getting what he's going at and a chase scene with Yakkety Sax and you're done.

That's not going to what it is though. Instead, it's one in the long line of bad Scary Movie ripoffs. Our good friends Seltzer and Friedberg have decided to sit this one out, Azathoth be praised, instead the smash hit writer/director Bo Zenga takes us on a wild rollercoaster ride. Shine on you crazy diamond... yeah. The plot is centered around the titular character, who has to lift the curse on town that for some reasons makes six famous slasher villains... kill people, I guess? Oh, and the titular character has to do this because he's the descendant of Abraham Van Helsing, who, as we know was a trained slasher-killer. Yeah.

Now, I won't lie, the thought of a proper crossover fight/slashfest between Freddy, Jason, Leatherface, Chucky, Pinhead and Michael Myers does appeal to me... Freddy with a suspiciously Flava Flav-esque giant clock on his chest and a huge white glove he uses for "bitchslapping," Pinhead looking like someone used kabob skewers instead of nails and Jason actually using a hockey club, it took me multiple watchings of the trailer to realize the last one was supposed to be Chucky... jeez louise, the whole thing reeks of shallow parody.

I mean, take Pinhead. Most of the people who'd be remotely interested (and not offended) by this movie have no idea who the guy is, so his shtick seems to be that his costume loks wonky. I can hear the laffs allready. There's just so much else you can do with him that'll be... you know, actually funny, or more fun, that is. I mean, he's a supernatural sadist who comes when you fiddle with a box. There has to be something you can do with that. For a good laff, check the IMDB pages and behold the awesomely totally not copyrighted names, Fweddy, Pleatherface, I could find mirth in this all day, if you by mirth mean hopeless frustration.

If the trailer is to be any indication, the humor will be of a similar calibre. I mean, it's typical for these films to show their best (or most tolerable) jokes in the trailer, hoping to attract people to buy it like so, and judging by what the trailer for Stan Helsing gave us... there's no reason to fear dying of laughter. One of the jokes displayed in such a fashion is the titular character reciting porn titles. You know, the punny ones reffering to other movies or shows. Yeah, aren't those just hillarious? In case you didn't get why this bothered me... this joke was considered funny enough to be in the trailer. Just to add to the sheer trainwreck of it all, they also include a joke about how the che-che-che-ah-ah-ah sound means Jason is nearby... or at least I think it's a joke, the trailer seems to suggest it, but the humor is nowhere to be found.

I mean... jeez, back in the days when I started getting into filmmaking (not so long ago, now that I think about it, but you didn't see shit like this five years ago,) humor of this caliber was reserved for self-made humorists, flinging their futile attempts at provoking laughter out on the internet, hoping for a spec of recognition and acceptance for their craft, despite low to no budget, crappy equipment and editing in Windows Movie Maker. In one way, I have no problem with that, there's a sort of youthfull innocence to it all, and if they slaughter your favorite horror villains, it's no biggie. After all, half the takes it doesn't seem like they can keep a straight face, and the standard Windows Movie Maker screen is awfull disarming. Stan Helsing, on the other hand got a BluRay release... a BluRay release. How did that even happen? The movie seems to be made with Bo's own independant production company, so how in the world this happened is beyond me. Even more puzzling, the movie isn't supposed to be released yet, according to IMDB, but I somehow can't seem to bother about pondering what on earth went down here.

On my way out of the BluRay section, actually turning away from the movie I've just ranted about, I saw a BluRay edition of Dragonball Evolution, and I was yet again reminded that the line between DVD and BluRay has no built-in quality controll, unfortunately.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Music and horror

As any horror fan will tell you, music is vital to most horror movies. Sure, there are movies that go for a raw, realistic style that abolishes the music all together, movies like [REC], and those can be quite terrifying, in fact, some times more so. Still, when the intrepid heroine climbs the stairs, still wearing her borderline scandalous nightwear, brandishing a flashlight against the certainly hostile things that go bump in the night, and the music intensifies, telling you "yes, there's something fanged and hungry out there, yes, it does not wish this poor girl well." Sure, it's a cheap form of thrill, but it works well, even if you know what's comming. I would actually say it gets more effective if you know what's next. To get to my point though, can music be scary all by its lonesome.

Short answer: Yes, very, very much so. Of course, the market for music that is primarily scary is a lot smaller than the horror movie-loving demographic, still, there's a lot of music out there that's just plain freaky. Spotify URL'd for your convenience.

First band highlight goes to the presumably anthropoid humanoids known as "Throbbing Gristle," a British industrial metal band. I haven't checked all of their stuff yet, mostly because of lacking courage. And considering the first song I heard was Hamburger Lady, a deeply disturbing song, partially because it's hard to hear exactly what the lyrics are. From what I can tell, it's about a severely burnt woman, and disturbing enough on its own, let alone if you only hear bits and pieces of it properly. The non-vocal music's pretty damn scary too.

Next up, our old friend Tom Waits, a man who according to some can sing "Happy Birthday To You" and make it sound like a death threat made by Satan himself. Needless to say, when Waits decides to make it scary, it becomes scary. The crowning song of scary will to my mind always be What's He Building In There?, a true exercise in paranoia. It's chillingly effective, a poster child for the slow-building horror so long forgotten in American horror. The most effective bit about this song is that pretty much no matter where you're from, there's a town recluse, someone who just doesn't get along with everyone else, someone who the rumors fly about, someone that just might have a deadly secret. Playing this song when you're new in the neighbourhood might make you notice the neighbours seem... odd, maybe? Even after you've watched it, the question remains, what IS he building in there?

Next band, move down, move down. Early synth-pop duo Suicide (unsurprisingly with a name like that) has one, Frankie Teardrop, honestly, this song freaks the hell out of me. It's not so much the lyrics, although they certainly aren't plesant, but the repetitive, merciless background beat is extremely unnerving. Also, it's the longest song in this entry yet, running 10'26''.

This is, however, not the longest scary song I've got. Sike on you, I guess. The avant-garde metal band Fantômas more than one-upped Suicide in that regard. The song/album Delirium Cordia is 74 minutes long, and is a concept album revolving around (to quote wikipedia) "the theme of surgery without anesthesia." Owch. It's a fairly good job done too. Had it not been for the unpredictability of having one long track, I'd definitely recomend this as mood-music for an horror-related RPG. It wasn't quite as focused on creepy hospital-related sounds as I thought, but it was still pretty damn creepy. The last 15-20 mins are especially tense, because there's almost no sound there at all, just the sound of a LP-player left on too long. Could just be me, but I was expecting one last mindfuck before the song was over. In one way, I got it, no spoilers though.

I guess a passing Marilyn Manson mention is in order. Sure, some of his stuff is kinda creepy, most notably his take on the poem from the tunnel scene of the Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. I feel the impact is somewhat lessened because one expects Marilyn Manson to be scary, while with Wonka... it just comes right outta nowhere, screaming like a bat outta hell. But enough about that.

Upcomming posts will be about the following: Me blasting S. Darko into oblivion, my take on Zombieland and finally, Slowzombie Vs. Antichrist.