Short Lived Shows Forever


I cheated and expanded my criteria to shows that lasted 4 seasons or less. I have viewed so many short lived shows because many of them were unfairly canceled. Others choose to end due to their creators feeling that the main story did not require a ton of episodes. Sometimes I wonder if certain shows deserved to be longer, yet there are times when maybe them ending when they did was for the best.

I’ll start with a list of some of my favorites:

1. Veronica Mars (4 seasons, CW)

2. Cowboy Bebop (1 season, Adult Swim)

3. Timeless (2 seasons, NBC)

4. Terriers (1 season, FX)

5. Life on Mars (2 seasons, BBC)

6. Trigun (1 season, Adult Swim)

7. Blue Mountain State (3 seasons, SPIKE)

8. Lucy: Daughter of the Devil (1 season, Adult Swim)

9. Mike Tyson’s Mysteries (4 seasons, Adult Swim)

10. The Adventures of Briscoe County Jr. (1 season, FOX)

11. Daredevil (3 seasons, Netflix)

12. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (1 season, Adult Swim)

Wes Craven’s Final Nightmare


Back in high school when I was starting out as a young freshman getting more into horror movies I saw a film called Scream. I also watched Scream 2 also that night, and both films left a good impression upon me. Shortly after I also viewed for the first time one of his classics, A Nightmare On Elm Street. This is a creepy and effective horror movie with a freaky jump scare near the end and some great performances from its young cast. Therefore last night I was bummed when I discovered that Wes Craven had died from brain cancer. It’s truly a shame as the guy helped shape and influence horror many times over.

I’ve seen other films of his over the years, from the other Scream movies to cult flicks such as The People Under The Stairs and The Serpent and the Rainbow. Both underrated and enjoyable movies that are examples of how Craven also was able to work in social and political commentary into his films. I also had a blast viewing Scream 4 in theaters-it’s a fine send off for the current bunch and it’s why for better or worse that there is a Scream TV show.

There is also other famous Craven films such as his classic revenge flick The Last House On The Left and A New Nightmare, which I dig a lot. Thanks to the Scream films Craven and Kevin Williamson helped bring horror movies back from the fringe in the 1990s, and for that alone he deserves to be celebrated. Few people have the luck and the talent to be a part of two major series and to change an entire genre more than once.

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 (Warning: Spoilers)


From 2005, no less. Whoa that’s 10 years since I wrote about George A. Romero’s masterpiece Night of the Living Dead (1968). Unfortunately I was unable to discuss the film in full detail without using spoilers and mentioning key plot points, although at this point if you haven’t seen George A. Romero’s classic film then you should go fix that ASAP.

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.

New Tablet Wahoo


So I have for the time being replaced my laptop with a Verizon tablet. It’s new shinny and I’m already using it heavily. While I can’t overload this fun new toy with too many aps I did install a few much needed ones. Twitter, Netflix and of course Word Press were some of those; Facebook was not. It even has a camera which is pretty sweet. Now I have a bigger screen to view TV shows and movies on which is nice. Plus the battery life is fantastic. That said until I buy a case for my tablet I will be leaving it at my apartment. I now see why more people are getting tablets instead of laptops.

2014 Viewing Log In Review: The Best First Films Viewed


A bit late due to not having a working laptop but still its happening anyways. The best films viewed from last year were (Top 20 out of 169 total films, out a score of 100, the 100s are in blue, 99-96 are in green, 95s are red):

1. The Life and Death of Colone Blimp (1943, Powell and Pressburger)
2. Rashomon (1950, Kurosawa)
3. Sherlock Jr. (1924, Keaton)
4. 8 1/2 (1963, Fellini)
5. Wall Street (1987, Stone)
6. The Crying Game (1992, Jordan)
7. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013, Scorsese)
8. Amadeus (1984, Forman)
9. Birdman (2014, Iñárritu)
10. Night On Earth (1991, Jarmusch)
11. Let The Fire Burn (2013, Osder)
12. Oldboy (2003, Park)
13. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014, Anderson)
14. Edge of Darkness (1985, Campbell)
15. Godzilla (2014, Edwards)
16. Strange Days (1995, Bigelow)
17. Insomnia (1997, Skjoldbjærg)
18. Laura (1944, Preminger)
19. The Innocents (1961, Clayton)
20. Bad Company (1972, Benton)

Top 5 Worst Films Viewed In 2014 (No zeros, all scores 10-1 out of 100-yeah they suck):

1. Monstrosity: The Atomic Brain (1964, Mascelli)
2. The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? (1964, Steckler)
3. The Touch of Satan (1971, Henderson)
4. Soultaker (1990, Rissi)
5. Warrior of the Lost World (1983, Worth)

House of Spacey


Right now I am watching a Netflix original show titled House of Cards which is an American version of the famous BBC show by the same name. As I view episode seven I am amused that I am also going through The West Wing, a show that paints a more lighter picture of politics in Washington D.C. One is light the other dark, both having some realistic aspects of the political world yet also are fantastic versions of what is going on. At the heart of this gripping thriller drama is Francis “Frank” and Claire Underwood, who after being turned down for an important cabinet position go on the offensive and take the power that they were denied.

One of the best things about this show is watching Kevin Spacey act deliciously evil each week. Robin Wright is also excellent as his wife, Claire, who might be worse than he is at times. The subplots include Zoe Barnes (played by Kate Mara), an opportunistic journalist, and Peter Russo (Corey Stoll), a young Congressman. Both people are used by Francis and his sinister chief of staff, Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), to advance Francis’ agenda. A favorite moment of mine is when Francis delivers a sneaky and lie filled sermon to a church in the third episode. Its textbook Spacey and a shining example of his brilliance as an actor.

Although the subplots are rocky at times the main storyline is incredibly well crafted. Wright and Spacey’s scenes together is the foundation of House of Cards. Some of the comedy that actually occurs is unintentional or subtitle yet the drama is very focused and engaging. Plus for some reason Francis is from the South and therefore Spacey has a Southern accent that makes him appear friendly even as he stabs people in the back and destroys anyone who gets in his way.

There are no episode titles as each one is called a chapter instead. The pilot episode was as long as an actual movie and the show has the look and feel of a cable show. David Fincher is involved although different people direct each episode. I also enjoy it when Francis (or Frank as he’s usually called) breaks the forth wall and talks to the camera. I’m amused when he says what he is thinking even as he pretends to act civil. So far this is one of the best young shows and I like that Netflix is challenging traditional TV. Right now I need more than two seasons. Badly.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: The Video Dead (1987, Robert Scott)


Released around the same time as Sam Rami’s classic The Evil Dead II, Scott’s The Video Dead is a low budget zombie film in a long line of low budget zombie films. What I dig about his movie is that it’s gory, raw, creepy and entertaining despite its clear limitations and the poor acting. I can admire the level of dedication it takes to get a movie like this made and how hard it was to achieve a pure vision without the proper funds. This is one movie that could have been a classic with just the right budget. Although I guess that never stopped George A. Romero or Sam Rami. Still Scott had an original idea, one that I rather like.

Zombies emerging from a cursed TV set is both fantastic and rather eerie. The hapless brother and sister duo that are faced with an nameless ancient evil must battle the undead horde that is terrorizing their neighborhood. I liked most of the kills, with one murder being properly gruesome. The zombies themselves are decaying and ugly, appearing as if they did truly emerge from their graves to prey upon the living. That’s some quality makeup work for a film that took a year to make due to lack of funding.

The DVD copy I found of this film was a two pack, with The Video Dead being parterned with another solid underrated cult horror film, Terrorvision-thanks to Scream Factory, a division of Shout! Factory. Which is a cool double bill, one I would love to see on the big screen. The Video Dead also has a bone chilling ending and is a reliable addition to the zombie subgenre. I realize it’s funny how every time I think I’m getting tired of zombie films I find another one that surprises me in a good way.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: TerrorVision (1986, Ted Nicolaou)


You can’t help but love TerrorVision’s theme song. It’s as deliciously campy as the actual film it is, and yet it doesn’t give away the film’s darker side, hinting at what will possibly happen later on in an eerie fashion. This is a horror sci-fi movie that also utilizes satire, although not to as great effect as I would like. Still this is a solid and reliable comedy with some nasty moments.

What I like about 80s horror is that it takes the harsh and brutal style of 70s horror and adds its own brand of dark comedy to the bleak horror elements. TerrorVision pokes fun at the nuclear family, war, TV (of course) and man’s stupidity. Plus even E.T. as the vapid Valley Girl daughter and her idiot boyfriend fail to realize how dangerous the alien creature is, greedily thinking of ways to exploit the monster. The parents are sex crazed money obsessed swingers; the son brainwashed by his nutjob grandpa into thinking war is fun.

Throw a vain and dumb T.V. star into the mix and you have the ingredients for an unlikable bunch of characters, which is something not found in most movies in general. What that means I’m not sure, although I guess it does feed into the film’s harsh view of the 80s. The Idiot Box summons mankind’s doom and results in a hilariously nasty moment and an unexpected conclusion. Despite being rather low budget and having some poor acting I rather enjoyed TerrorVision. Thanks goes out to my public library for enabling me to view this camp classic.

Slipping And Sliding


During the winter season I can handle cold and snow. However I cannot stand ice, which makes driving and walking almost impossible. It also leads to falls and I experienced this first hand tonight. While salting the parking lot I slipped and fell, chipping my tailbone. I’m afraid to admit that I cursed like a sailor because it really hurt. A lot. Luckily for me I did not injure anything else, and people were there to help me up.

They took me to the hospital in an ambulance-no sirens though. Because of horror movies and lost loved ones hospitals creep me out. Still the nurses were nice and they released me after x-rays showed I had only chipped it. If I’m lucky I’ll go to work tomorrow. Until then I’m icing up my sore and bruised ass and watching TV. Not the way I wanted to spend my Friday evening.

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