Shinny Happy TV


Well it took me three years but I finally got an XBox 360 and a 42 inch bigscreen TV by splitting the cost with my roommate. Both were also used and thus came cheaper than they normally do, which was nice. It is also a sign of the times as plenty of material items have become cheaper due to the market being saturated and a rise in Internet sales.

This is a good thing for consumers while it’s a bad thing for companies. While that is a concern at the same time all I can think about is my nice shinny TV and the Xbox I can play in my spare time. Although I will probably buy a new TV from an actual store, thus giving back to the poor big businesses that like to outsource and not pay their employees a living wage.

Ten Years Dead: Night of the Living Dead Essay


From 2005, no less. Whoa that’s 10 years since I wrote about George A. Romero’s masterpiece Night of the Living Dead (1968):

Despite the snubbing the horror movie genre receives from many critics, there are actually a good many horror films that have received substantial praise from both critics and fans. One such film is original Night of the Living Dead, made in 1968 by the famous and renowned director George A. Romero. I’ve heard it referred to as the Citizen Kane of horror movies, and while I haven’t seen enough to agree with that statement, Night is indeed a landmark in the history of horror movies, and in cinema.

Before I begin my attempt to discuss the film’s plot, stars, and the finer points of human flesh, I feel the need to say how I discovered this film in the first place. It was back in the fall of 2001, when I was a sophomore at my local high school. Being that it was Halloween, we decided to rent a couple of horror movies, thus continuing a tradition of sorts that we’ve done every year since the 8th Grade.

After walking through the door and being greeted by one of the store clerks wearing some freaky mask, we wandered into the video store aisle marked “Horror.” While my friend picked Scream 3, which was a fairly new release, I noticed a VHS cover, which I think had a zombie on it (my memory is kind of fuzzy). I read the back of the movie, which said it was about some people getting attacked by zombies, and I thought it would be gory fun. Get this: there were two copies of Night of the Living Dead, both the original and the remake. I thought I was getting the remake. But no, when my friend and I popped the tape in back at his house, I discovered to my surprise that it was an old black and white film instead.

Being young and wanting quick scares, my friend didn’t like the film and I found it to be alright at best, with the ending quite shocking and the famous “girl zombie” scene to be gruesome. Turning to the fun of Scream 3, which I found scary at the time (I only saw the rest of the trilogy two Halloweens ago), we both forgot about the other film. That was roughly four years and four viewings ago. Multiple viewings quickly changed my thoughts and views on the flick, but one could say that about a number of movies. I could go on all about me, but I’d rather focus on the film itself.

As the movie opens, we see Johnny boy and his sister Barbara on their way to place flowers on some dead person’s grave. Who that person is isn’t relevant to the story, but instead it serves as an ample plot device, since Johnny is reminded of how he used to scare Barbra, going on to say “They coming to get you Barbara,” with a stupid look on his face. He should have kept his mouth shut, because one of them comes alright. He’s defiantly not human, looks like Lurch’s long lost cousin, and he proceeds to bash Johnny’s head into a tomb stone. Lurch attempts to grab Barbara, but she ditches her car (“Johnny has the keys” is what she says later on), and runs like hell, finally reaching an abandoned farmhouse. This scene marks the change in the movie from quiet and relaxed to a freaky, heavy sense of dread, and I find the zombie attack to be somewhat surreal and almost out of place, which is why it works. Rising from the grave, clearly awakened by gongs being banged by crazed Buddhist monks, dozens of zombies slowly converge upon the farmhouse. All hope seems lost for poor Barbara, who by this point has become a buddle of fried nerves, scared out of her bloody mind, and clearly in no shape to battle the undead hordes.

That’s when the protagonist of our film comes in out of nowhere, riding in an old broke down car and wielding what looks like a tire iron. His name is Ben, and he is her knight in shinning armor, or, in actual reality, an African-American male completely surrounded by whitey. Seriously, Ben is the only black man we see in the entire flick-even the zombies are white! While Romero claims that his decision to cast Duane Jones in the role wasn’t motivated by race, the film’s events (which I will get to later) make me wonder. Completely unfazed by the fact that he’s surrounded by flesh eaters, he walks out on the front porch and sets some of the creatures on fire, and also quickly boards up the house. The guy even finds a lever action shotgun, and starts loading the weapon; Ben is a man of action, and here we witness what has become a common cliché in many movies: the quick thinking man of action, who stays calm, knows what to do, and isn’t afraid to act.

The movie wouldn’t be complete without some drama within the house itself, and this is supplied by Harry, a racist, his wife and child, and the young couple Tom and Judy. Harry doesn’t trust Ben’s decisions and wants to be in charge, providing the film with an added and interesting dimension: Harry feels that he is the bigger man, that he’s right, that he has to be the alpha male of the group. It’s not just a matter of race, but also a matter of serious pride; this pride ends up leading to the destruction of the group, and a bitter irony: that Harry was right about the basement of the house being the safest place to hide. Well at least in the end for the most part; although at the same time staying up in the main house, where there are multiple escape routes makes sense too.

At its core, Night of the Living Dead is many things. It’s clear that the movie is a horror version of those old westerns where the cowboys are holed up in a small cabin or fort, with the savage Indians attacking it, trying to break in and scalp everyone inside. Of course the Indians never ate the cowboys (last time I checked), but that seems to be the main reason why most of the movie takes place inside an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. The claustrophobic feeling of the house has a clear effect upon the inhabitants, and this only ups the film’s slowly building sense of tension. I also feel that the movie in a way mirrors the social and political upheavals that were taking place at that time in America. Ben and Harry’s struggles for control certainly reflect upon the racial conflicts that had exploded in many American cities, along with the film’s ending, which caught me completely off guard. Also, the movie’s few extremely violent scenes are perhaps references to the Vietnam War; in that American troops mowed down countless, nameless Vietnamese communists-only replace the communists with flesh eating zombies. I also have to note that many of the zombies had the look of dirty, druggy hippies, which makes me wonder if Romero was commenting on the country’s counterculture as well.

A final theme I think the movie touches on is the horrifying thought that mankind at its worst reverts to its most primitive, primal and gruesome instincts, and I think the zombies reflect this. That at any time, any place, and your loved one may go berserk and decide to either gnaw on your flesh, or stab you to death with a garden trowel. They are no longer human, and reasoning with them won’t save you. Which is to me a very scary thought indeed.

“Night,” like most horror movies isn’t well known for its actors, or good acting in general. That seems to be an extra bonus, especially if you take a look at the slasher films of the 1980s. But even on a shoe string budget Romero manages to get some pretty good acting out of some of the movie’s cast, especially Duane Jones. Jones as Ben is really the film’s strongest character, and while it’s not an entirely fleshed out role, Jones does a wonderful job portraying a man surrounded by what one could call a surrealistic nightmare. What makes Ben so damn cool is that he takes no prisoners, refuses to surrender, uses everything at his disposal to kill the zombies, and until the second half of the film, he has a plan. What also makes his character so fascinating is how Ben slowly comes to realize that even he is human, and that despite all his planning everything goes terribly wrong. This feeling is further explored in a scene where Ben is trapped in the basement, haunted by the fact that he is now all alone, and that the bastard hippie people eaters have finally broken into the house. Ben has been defeated, and he knows it.

As for the other actors, Karl Hardman as Harry, we see a man who is the complete opposite of Ben. Harry seems to be nervous, racist, (one could say that Ben was racists at times also), and paranoid. His struggles with Ben and the distrust that exists between them do indeed add the needed dynamic to the film, and his demise is equal parts gory, tragic, and horrifying, and showcase’s the film’s third theme about lack of true humanity. Judith O’Dea, who as Barbara is stuck in the role of the woman in need of rescue, is the film’s truly realistic side, in that she’s scared out of her mind. While most of us think that we’d act like Ben in such a situation, more than likely many of us would be frightened, and wondering whether or not we would survive. Oh, and what happens to poor Barb is something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, and is horribly ironic.

The film in itself has plenty of irony, some people who get their just deserts, and others who were unlucky enough to be caught of the middle of two angry men and the horde of the undead. Romero by the way smartly only has a few scenes of gore, and so their shock value and the effect of disgust they aim to project are seared onto the audience’s mind; this is in sharp contrast to the rest of his zombie series. Although the part where the zombie girl stabs her mother to death with a garden tool is a clear homage (or rip off if that’s your opinion) of the famous shower scene in “Psycho,” with the blood splattering, the screams of the dying, and the sharp musical notes in the background. That scene gets me every time, simply because the image of a woman’s spawn butchering her is to me quite cringe worthy, and somewhat shocking.

Stamped with Romero’s unique vision, driven by tension, gore, a cast of realistic characters, and a thoughtful commentary on humanity that may or may not have been intentional, Night of the Living Dead is a movie experience every horror fan should have. The movie proves that not all horror films are mindless, gory thrill machines, and that the genre has contributed more to the world of cinema than is generally acknowledge.

A Pair of True Detectives Season 1 (Possible Spoilers)


Its been a long time since I reviewed a TV show episode by episode, or at least focused on the overall season. The last show I covered episode by episode was Lost, and the last season I reviewed overall was Season 1 of Game of Thrones. So I present to you folks my short, not really in-depth enough thoughts on True Detective’s first episode. I wrote all of these entries last year:

True Detective Season 1 Episode 1: The Long Bright Dark

Opening in the Deep South and focusing in on a case that had long been thought solved in 1995, the HBO show True Detective utilizes flashbacks and flash forwards for a season centering around two Louisiana State CID’s, Rust and Marty. These former partners are being interviewed, or more likely interrogated, by current detectives because someone has been killed in the same fashion as the girl that they found in a field over a decade prior. Having fallen out after years of working together, Marty and Rust are grilled separately, each giving accounts of what transpired during the murder investigation. In the process certain elements come to light, and we begin to get a certain picture of who these men are and how they think.

This is especially made clear in a scene in which Rust offers his darkly humorous and brutal outlook on humanity after Marty unfortunately asks Rust what his belief system is. Matthew McConaughey breaks free of his movie persona here, delivering a brooding monologue that Woody Harrelson reacts to quite strongly, which in turn was funny and rather apt given the nature of what Rust had just said. Its interesting that Marty’s wife, Maggie, wants Rust to meet Marty’s family, as the two men seem to have little in common and Rust is no longer a family man. Perhaps curious to see who has her husband’s life in his hands, although maybe also a typical formality of sorts. What occurs as a result of that decision is Maggie realizing what Marty already knows: that Rust is on edge, teetering on that line between sanity and madness.

Another choice moment is when Rust in the interview forces one of the detectives to get him a six pack of Lone Star as he continues to chain smoke away during their questioning. The first episode concludes with a rather nice puzzling quote that does not come across as typical or cliche based on how McConaughey delivers the line. Harrelson and McConaughey display a natural rapport and connection in this show, playing off of one another and reflecting their fantastic talents onscreen. I’m looking forward to viewing the rest of the series based on this gorgeously shot, bleak and neatly directed episode.

Long Live Civility


M. Gustave: You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that’s what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant… oh, fuck it.-The Grand Budapest Hotel

Today I had a Twitter conversation with a fellow follower. He made the mistake of reading the comments section of an Internet article. I too choose to often do so because well, people love to look at car crashes. Of course in that case car crashes are accidental-terrible racist, homophobic and or sexist comments are not. So much for the 21st century.

Still I’m reminded of the scene in The Grand Budapest Hotel where Ralph Fiennes mediates upon civility in a barbaric and hostile world. His end response of “Fuck it” is a feeling that many exasperated people have when they venture into the Internet and read certain posts. I mean who the hell are these people? I’ll admit I curse way too much and I often fail to use proper grammar yet these idiots are the toilet bowl scum of the online world.

It’s really quite depressing and honestly I don’t have a solution to the problem. I’ll try and encourage those who behave as if they were not raised to be buffoons, yet online anonymity encourages terrible behavior. The sad thing is that not even having their actual name attached to their posts is enough to detour them from making comments that are insanely cringe worthy. A pessimistic individual would note this as the human race being doomed. I think I would go with hoping the sane end up prevailing.

I’ve Got The Madness


March Madness is the greatest time of the year. It’s as if they had the World Cup and the Olympics happen yearly. Although I don’t have time to watch all the games anymore there have been times in the past where I tuned in for a majority of the NCAA Tournament. I got hooked on the tourney in 1995 and I have filled out a bracket every year since 2003 I think.

While I’m not informed enough to post about all my picks I will say that I’m going with Arizona this year to win it all. Yep I have a serious bias-at least I admit it. More than likely the Kentucky Wildcats will go undefeated. Besides while I have picked the overall winner three out of the last four years most of the time my bracket dies by the second weekend at the latest. There are just too many random factors to account for and its damn near impossible to pick all of the games right. That doesn’t mean people don’t go for the million or billion dollar bracket challenges. I might even give it a shot. But probably not since they send you email advertisements.

Happy Friday The 13th (Spo Spo Spoilers)


Great day. I consider it a holiday over fake ones such as Flag Day and Columbus Day. Anyways I realized that some of the Friday The 13th series entries could have been better. Or improved upon. Let’s start with Part III. Tons of spoilers btw so don’t read if you haven’t watched them all. Also the first film and Part II are fine as is, and I don’t really care about the remake. FVJ sort of counts but doesn’t and is awesome regardless.

Ah Part III. When the series really felt very 80s and had awful 3D. I got a headache from those cheap glasses that came with my copy. Oh and this should have been the film where Jason kills the Final Girl, named Chris. Calling her a Final Girl is an insult to the other, better Final Girls. There actually was an ending where Jason kills her so I’m not the only one who thinks this. However there are other aspects I would change.

Getting rid of the biker gang for one. They were terrible characters and could be written out. The opening had Jason killing people who lived near the lake. What if he had kept on doing that for a while before entering Camp Crystal Lake again? Regardless the film didn’t need extra random people to be victims. The main group had more than enough potential victims.

I would have loved it if Jason, unmasked after getting hit by the ax, chases down scared Chris and snaps her neck. The police, who arrived upon the scene, shoot him three times. End of film. Imagine if The Final Chapter could have opened with the same scene, only Jason is still alive so they take him to a hospital all chained up. Naturally he escapes and kills everyone there. Maybe that would have been too violent to pass MPAA censorship muster.

The Final Chapter is fine the way it is for the most part. Yet while I like and enjoy A New Beginning, having Roy be the murderer never made a lot of sense. No but having Tommy Jarvis be the new Jason would have been amazing. Even if that’s not the route that the film’s creators were willing to go down at the very least they could have gone with another mental patient. Anything but having such a crazy plot. Still they were able to keep the gore intact in this film. Not like….

…The New Blood. I wouldn’t change a thing about Jason Lives although Zombie Jason is a tad outrageous heh. Part Seven was butchered by the MPAA and thus us fans were denied what could have been an epic display of violence. If only the infamous sleeping bag kill could have properly happened. Also I wanted more Tina vs Jason. For a movie that featured a telekinotic teenager there wasn’t enough cool mind moving scenes. Otherwise I’m fine with this film since its the last time Jason was at Camp Crystal Lake.

Naturally everyone wants Jason Takes Manhattan to be remade. Can you imagine Jason killing people in Yankee stadium? Or tearing through Times Square instead of simply waking by it once? Someone needs to make this happen. I want Jason to battle people on The Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. Alas all us fans got was Jason Hangs Out In Manhattan For Five Minutes after a booze cruise. Boooo. This is where low budget filmmaking leaves you a little stranded.

Btw Jason X was so awful I pretend it never happened. Such a bad joke. Yet Jason Goes To Hell could have been salvaged. Keep the family storyline, dump the body swaping, have Duke and the FBI after Jason and still see him go to Hell at the end. I would have laughed had the woman at the beginning been killed right away by Jason instead of leading him into the trap. You would think Jason would be a little more clever. Also I liked the sleezy reporter in this film too, as that angle revealed that in fact Jason’s murders had actually received publicity finally.

I have ideas for two Jason films. One that I’ve had for years, the other I cooked up three years ago and which would be controversial in some ways. I’ll never tell though because I’m sure someone else already thought them up or someone might steal them. Happy Friday The 13th folks.

Favorite Songs: Ancient


Operators’ “Ancient” is a really cool techno style track that builds up to a perfect finish. I heard this song on NPR and then used Shazam so I could know who sang it. I’m looking forward to exploring more of this band’s work.

New TV Time List


The Netflix oriented list (only counting shows I’m currently watching):

1. 30 Rock Season 3 Episode 4: Reunion
2. Agatha Christie’s Poirot Series 1 Episode 6: Triangle At Rhodes
3. Angel Season 2 Episode 12: Blood Money
4. Daredevil Season 1 Episode 4: In The Blood
5. House Of Cards Season 2 Episode 3: Chapter 17
6. The Last Man On Earth Season 1 Episode 7: She Drives Me Crazy
7. Magnum P.I. Season 1 Episode 6: Skin Deep
8. Psych Season 8 Episode 9: A Nightmare On State Street
9. Sliders Season 4 Episode 1: Genesis
10. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 1: A-

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Prom Night (1980, Paul Lynch)


From the eerie opening flashback to the suspenseful last act, Prom Night is a well made early 1980s slasher that is another quality entry in the subgenre. Long before slasher movies fell into parody and tired cliches Jamie Lee Curtis made a couple of them after doing the first two Halloween films. She was a great scream queen and here she plays a girl who is still dealing with her sister’s death years earlier. Also her father is Leslie Nielsen and prom night is approaching. The stage has been set for terror and mayhem.

Unlike later slasher films this one has a lower death count and the first kill doesn’t even happen until much later in the film. Prom Night takes its time building up the chills and thrills while also keeping the audience guessing who the killer could be. After all that’s part of the fun in a movie like this. Well that and the disco scenes which have some pretty radical music. This film feels more like a 1970s one to me although it is campy at times. I much prefer smart slasher films such as this one even if I also enjoy the dumb ones.

Favorite Songs: Random Rules


Silver Jews is one of the best 90s/2000s bands. “Random Rules” starts out with “In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection.” It only gets better from there and its a track that I have yet to get tired of. I can’t say that about too many songs.

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